Saturday, September 29, 2007
So I'm doing a lot better. Still recovering though. Stacking those two races and going hard on both set me back longer than I thought but I'm on my way back. This past Wednesday I went out for a short run and felt amazingly good. Anyway doing the "Waves to Wine Ride" this weekend, a Multiple Sclerosis fundraising bike ride. It's two days, about 150 miles, supported, with lots of food, drink and hanging out at the end of each day. Camping is available Saturday night but I'm sharing a cheap room with two other friends. I wimped out, wanted that hot shower Sunday morning.
So it's definitely not a race just a ride and I was recruited to be one of the "ride marshalls". Fancy word, just a volunteer, serving the 1600 or so riders in the event. Our job is to spread ourselves out in the group and keep a general eye out on things. Help out folks with mechanical problems, make sure people are not riding too far to the right, stuff like that. There will be motorcycle and car support as well. Got the hook up from one of my friends from the tri-club, she's the director for special events and got a bunch of us to volunteer. Got a snazzy new biker jersey and everything.
It will be nice to get a brake from the running and the biking will give me a good workout. The first day is hilly, not sure what the second day will bring. Anyway time to hit the hay, check in is at 6AM. Hope ya'll have a great weekend.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
It's called the Coyote Two Moon Ultras and let me tell you what's got me so hopped up about the event.
1) The 100k reads like a 100-miler. It has a 24-hour limit, 19,000ft. of total climb and a price point to match - $190.
2) The 100-miler itself has 25,000 feet of total climb and a 40 hour limit.
(to help put this in perspective, Headlands Hundred, the last 100m that I've done has 17,700 ft. of total climb)
3) If you finish the 100-miler you get a buckle and it will be the only buckle you will receive no matter how many times you finish this race.
4) Your starting time is based on your finishing times from your qualifying races and your own honest assessment of your conditioning. To qualify for the 100-miler you have to have run a 100-mile race with at least 18,000ft. of total climb the last 16-months prior to 10/31/07. They also would like information on the other 100-milers you have done to get a more accurate idea of what your starting time should be. They want everyone to be hustling to make the cutt-offs and not just the "back of the pack'ers". Sounds fair right?
5) It's called "Two Moon" because you will see the moon twice and they specifically staged it on a full moon weekend.
6) Pacers are only permitted on the first moon. The course is designed so as the event progresses runners will see more and more of each other so that on that the last final mind-numbing miles (their words) runners can keep themselves company. They suggest that if you want a buddy have them enter the event as well.
7) The course map is scanned in, hand drawn, hand written and not to scale....so far.
It's no Hardrock but I'll bet it will unload a whole lot of whoopin'. Furthermore it seems like they put a lot of thought into the "pacer" issue. On paper it seems like a good compromise. Anyone who wants a pacer can get one but on the second night everyone is going at it alone or making alliances with other runners.
It's definitely on my mind. For more information you can visit their website.
Friday, September 21, 2007
The best Redhook I ever had was at the source, Seattle...well close enough but that was after being on the road for most of a day, the majority of it in heavy pouring rain. TGIF and no racing weekend.
I am beat, tired, exhausted, sluggish and lazy! After 8 hours of sleep all I want to do is go back to sleep. I'm craving all my comfort foods too; baked goods, meats and rice. Doing my best not to give in, not totally anyway. There's work to do and weight to control...ain't it always. It's my reward for working hard the last two races. I definitely worked hard enough that there wasn't a single smile in my Big Kahuna tri pictures. Too bad but hey racing is tough right?
So this week I've just been taking it easy. I expected all of this anyway and while it's been hard working out at recovery pace at the Track and at Spin class I'm happy to say there's no injuries or nagging pains anywhere. Slow to Medium is the rule until my body recovers. I've already altered my plans for the weekend seeing that it's taking me longer than normal to recover. I would like to have one last 6-hour training run for the Firetrails 50-miler on October 13th this weekend. I'll give it a shot on Sunday after taking Saturday completely off to rest up but I'll be happy with 3-hours if that's all my body will give me. I'll take what I've got. I'm afraid of pushing hard at this point, I don't want to prolong the fatigue and exhaustion that I'm feeling now.
So far so good though. I think I've paced it well enough during the year that I'll make it intact for my season ender on Thanksgiving Weekend with the Quad Dipsea Race. One year I got there over trained and running on fumes...it was painful.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Marathon Maniac Rob Cowan wins PCTR's Big Basin 50k. At the finish with his daughter. For the photosetclick here.
Not too short but sweet nonetheless and a whole lot of whoop ass! - PCTR style.
Signed up for the race as a training run for the Firetrails 50-miler in October. The course consisted of a 15k loop and a 10k loop. Like most PCTR races there were multiple distance options for the runners, the 50k folks like myself had to do both loops twice. Big Basin is a beautiful run in the Santa Cruz mountains, lots of single track and shade. On the 15k loop you get to scramble up the side of a waterfall.
I started out hard on the 15k loop. I knew my body wasn't fully recovered from the triathlon last weekend but I figured that I could always scale back if needed. Ran great the first hour but then felt myself weaken and had to pull back. Getting stung by yellow jackets was no help either. I was moving pretty well but only up to a certain point. My heart rate monitor said I could go harder but my legs said no more. It's a fine line between pushing and listening and I opted for the latter knowing I've been going hard the last three weeks. Ran with friends, made new ones and they made a world of difference. On the last loop one of the guys I was running with gets his second wind and pulls away slowly, he takes me with him. I follow and surprisingly I get my second wind. As he tired I took my turn at the front and kept on going. The pull of the finish line and my desire for a sub-6 finish took over at this point. I would end up passing two more runners. Finished 5:52? or something like that to come in at 5th place. I publicly declared shortly after finishing that I won't be doing another PCTR event, was met with laughter because I was grinning. What a great run.
Sorry no shots of the trails. I put everything into the run.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Jan and Malik finishing. Emily finishing. For the photoset click here.
My last post on the 07 Big KahunaTriathlon.
I was a man on a mission heading out of the transition area. I run out with club mate Helen who is on a relay team. Lots of yelling and cheering. I hear my name, friends are on the course and I am buoyed tremendously by their presence and enthusiasm. I felt great. Tightness on the legs was natural after the bike and the back was sore but not painful. After two miles the tightness subsides and my legs make the transition to running, I was clocking 8.5 minute miles at this point. As the miles progress I feel looser and better but I hold a little back for the return trip. The run is along the coast. Usually I delight in catching up to the faster swimmers and cyclists but my focus was all on the clock. Since I regained my composure I was able to relax a little, even cheered on some of my fellow athletes. I reach the halfway point on schedule. I'm excited. I pick up the pace hoping for a negative split. The finish line was pulling me home and I was no longer aiming for sub 5:36. I was gunning for sub 5:30 and flirting with the idea of a sub 5:25. Is it possible? Only if I can keep the pace or go even faster I said to myself. I was totally psyched at this point, smelling success but still cautious. "Don't count your chickens before they hatch" I thought to myself.
As in all my races, little things started to conspire against me to throw me off my game. I had a hotspot turning into a blister at the ball of my left foot. Both underarms were raw from chafing caused by the racing top. Worse I felt twinges in my left hamstring and I remember that I had not taken any salt during the race. In my haste out of T2 I left my salt pills. The overcast skies cut down on the sweating but I could tell from salt stains on my shorts and the salt on my face that I had sweat out a good amount of sodium. Was I going to cramp so close to the finish? With three miles to go I noticed my timer had stopped. My wrists had expanded a bit and while readjusting the strap I somehow inadvertently stopped the timer. It was for the best, I was checking my watch too much.
The house is about 2.3 miles to the finish. I pass it amid the cheers of friends and Scott's picture taking. I smile, show a little leg and pick it up even further knowing I'm close. My heart rate was at max and I was hurting. With one mile to go I convince myself that I will never be a good competitor/racer because I hate the pain of competition and since I also don't like the pressure of chasing after someone or some goal I should just resolve to have a good time in all my races by going slower. I was at peace with the decision but curiously don't slow down. The last 100 yards or so is on the beach. We make our way to the edge of the water where the sand is firmly packed. I pick off my final two runners, a 56 year old gent (your age is written on your calf in triathlon) and a woman who looked to be around the same age. Despite my passing them their overall time will be faster because they started their swim wave later than mine's. Inspiring. The finish chute is back up the beach in soft sand. As I come through I hear loud cheering, the kind you hear when a finish is being fought out or an athlete is being chased down by another making for an exciting finish. I've chased someone down before in the finish chute of this race, I know that sound. Ah no worries he was safe, I have a policy of not nipping someone at the finish line. I merely pulled up along side and we finished the last 5 yards together. If I was a pro fighting for a top spot it'd be a totally different matter. Anyway not looking back to see if this was indeed the case I ran up the sand. It was like running through mud but better because sand doesn't try to hold on to your shoes. Picked up my feet like I was running through hot coals. I hear my name amid the cheering and I acknowledge by shaking a half hearted victory fist. Sure enough seconds after I come through 56 yr. old male racer comes through the finish line. I finish the run in 1:45+ putting my pace at 8 minute miles. The run was 3 minutes slower than my best time on this course which was a surprise. Undoubtedly my faster bike time slowed me down a bit for the run.
My final time: 5:19:46
Where does that put me? The winning time was 4:04 the last person came in at 9:50. I'm 237 out of 817 finishers.
I quickly headed back after the finish to the transition area and got my camera. Hung out with friends, made new ones and cheered finishers. Got something to eat, drink and I took a salt tablet just in case. It was a good two hours before we finally headed for home.
Back at the transition area, it turns out that the 56 yr. old athlete who came right behind me was only two bikes over. I struck up a conversation with him, friendly chap. He came in at 5:04, second in his age group despite also spending 9 minutes fixing a flat on his bike. We laughed about our luck wished each other a good rest of the afternoon.
Originally I was going to head back to San Francisco Sunday night but decided against it and hung out with 3 other folks. We grabbed dinner, drank beer, visited another house and drank some of their red wine before heading home for some well deserved sleep. Monday morning found us all awake by 5AM - strange. Sunrise was beautiful in Santa Cruz. Jan and I were the last to head out at 7:45AM. We were reluctant to leave but work calls. To avoid heavy traffic we drove up the coast back to San Francisco.
I wasn't planning on doing Big Kahuna next year. I'm flirting with the idea of doing Angeles Crest 100 instead...but it was such a great time that I may just come back. Besides the possibility of having a problem free race and coming under 5:19 is hard to resist. We shall see what happens but for now I feel very good about my last triathlon for the 07 season.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
At the start in the transition area. For the photoset click here.
Part two of the Big Kahuna Triathlon 07
Race started at 7:00 and my wave left at 7:15, men 35-39. Compared to my peers I'm slower in the water but I enjoy open water swimming and very comfortable in the water. I've always enjoyed the swim in Santa Cruz. This was my 3rd Big Kahuna and 5th triathlon in this venue. Because of our warmup I was comfortable right away, the cold water no longer stung my exposed areas; face, neck, hands and feet, and every thing was working like clockwork. Two swimmers keep zig zagging in front of me, doesn't even faze me. I knew it wast them because I was "sighting" every 3 - 6 strokes. For the non-triathletes or open water swimmers. Sighting is the technique of picking your head up just enough for your eyes to clear water so you can keep yourself oriented to a target; buoy, boat or a landmark. It should be smooth and not significantly slow a swimmers progress. This is how open water swimmers find their way and not the side to side motion of breathing. I turn in my fastest swim for this event. At the beach I drop my googles and only realize it 30 seconds later. I keep going and I blame Olga. She taught me how to hustle through aid stations in ultra and now I find myself hustling in everything race related. At the Headlands Hundred I inadvertenly drop my flashlight and never went back the 50 yds to find it since I had a backup. Thank you to Leslie Antonis for sending it back to me.
Running back the 1/8 of a mile to the transition area was a pain on bare feet but they were slightly numb anyway. Many bikes were gone from the transition area but not all of them. I get done with the swim in 39 minutes, they include the time it takes to run back to the transition area. Fastest swim for this event.
Fastest Transition 1 for this race at 5 minutes. I was out of the wetsuit and into the cycling gear 3 minutes faster than last year. Donald in his spectacular race at Vineman about a month ago had touched on the importance of speed in transitions. Transitions is the 4th sport in Triathlon and the most important thing about T1, never leave the transition area without your bike helmet or your bike helmet unstrapped. At the least you will get a warning/penalty at the worst a DQ.
I feel amazingly good on the bike. I felt strong and fast but was cautious from the get go. I focused on keeping my legs and back loose. I'm quad dominant and I end up trashing my quads on the bike if I'm not too careful which of course affects my speed on the run tremendously. I also kept an eye on my heart rate, I wanted it high and level but not at a rate that would burn me out too quickly. We make our way out on coastal highway 1 towards San Francisco, hills to the right, beaches, surfers and the Pacific on the left. The bike course is known to be windy but there was hardly any maybe because it was still early. The skies remained overcast which kept temperatures down. I get passed but I steadily make my way through other cyclists, I gain places more than I lose. At the halfway point I had an inkling that I was way ahead of my times from the previous years but I wasn't sure, you see the bike computer wasn't working. The moment I pulled out of the transition area I noticed my sensor wasn't giving me any readings. I had no info on my rate of speed, my cadence (the rate of turnover on the pedals - rpm), or mileage. Not wanting to stop and trouble shoot I resolved to go by feel. I didn't want to spare the time. Not all gear is necessary, can I get an amen on that?
There was a mileage marker at the 30-mile point and this time I know for sure I'm going faster than in previous years. I was gaining on one guy who I called "biker dude" because he looked more like a road cyclist than a triathlete - nuances in gear. He had passed me earlier, I passed him back, he got pumped, passed me again and kept on going. Either he slowed down or a I got faster because I was right back on his tail heading back toward Santa Cruz. On a big downhill he stops pedaling and crunches down on his bike like a road racer and starts to pull away slowly. I fold down deeper into my aero bars, gaining a similar aerodynamic advantage but I keep pedaling. I'm quad dominant remember, I can push those pedals down like crazy:) I pass him and keep going. As I pull over to the right after the pass I go too far and end up running over gravel and rocks and I hear an ominous sound. The highway is clean, there's no glass or metal debris on the edges of the road but there is rocks and gravel. The rocks didn't puncture the tire but they cause a flat nevertheless. On the next ensuing downhill I feel the flatting tire and quickly pull over to the side. Biker dude rolls on by momentarily as well as other cyclists I meticulously picked off on my ride. I lose my pack of riders, I lose time.
Never having a flat in a race before I was distraught. I felt shame in losing my cool but there was nothing I could do about it. I was also panicking which in any situation always, always makes things worse. My first thought was with the riders quickly slipping away from me; biker dude, green jersey rider, pigtails, pointy helmet and so on. My second thought was the PR time slipping away on the bike and the chance of beating my PR time overall for this race and the half-ironman distance overall. I developed that "why me attitude". Panic, anger, frustration and self-pity set in and I was a nice little pot of negative stew on the side of the road. I started the race laid back and nonchalant and here I was all serious and bent out of shape.
My tire and rim setup is difficult to change. The rim is either slightly too big or the tires are slightly too small, either way it's a major pain. On top of that it's the back tire so I had to deal with the bike chain and derailleur. It takes minutes wrestling with the tire just to get the tube out, another 5 min before I'm rolling again. An extra minute was spent stuffing the old and not fully deflated inner tube back in my bike pouch. I was gonna leave it on the road but the sight of the Pacific Ocean shamed me into picking up my own trash. Thankfully I wasn't so far gone into my funk to commit littering. I don't do it on the trail so why would I do it on the road. I decided on not being an ass by leaving trash, thank God for the bit of rational tinking. Despite emptying a full cylinder of C02 gas to inflate the tire it was still lacking a bit of air but I was scared to partially use the contents of another cylinder in case I blew out the tire accidentally so I rode it anyway. I made second stop because I actually thought I was losing air. Less than optimal tire pressure means more rolling resistance with translates to slower speed.
The next 20 miles finds me trying to get my head back into the game - "Settle down Beavis!!!". I was in turmoil. I nearly ran off the road I was so distracted. The last time I lost my cool in a race was my first Miwok 100k in 2004. I was running with a runner from Oregon named John. At 48 miles we were celebrating the fact that we were going to come in earlier than our expected times. At 50 we get lost and lose :45 minutes. We came back on the course defeated and silent. I rallied in the end. Since then I have made it a priority never to lose my cool in a race. I don't need that kind of weight on my shoulders.
Slowly but surely I bleed out the negativity. I clean myself a bit with my water bottle. Sprayed some on my face to refresh me. I say a prayer and the fire inside comes back. It was snuffed out but now re-lit. I pull in to the bike area still ahead of schedule but not by much. I find out later through the official results that I PR'd on the bike despite the 9 minutes it took to fix the flat. I ride a 2:48 for the 56-mile bike ride.
Transition 2, bike to run gear only takes me a minute, again faster than any T2's I've done in the past. I needed to pee but forgo the stop because the portable toilets was in the back of the transition area. I run out still fiddling with my gear and nutrition, nothing that can't be taken care of on the course. Timer on my watch tells me that it's 3:35 into my race. I had to run the half-marathon in under 2:01 to come under 5:36 - the time to beat. My first year at this race, 3 years ago, I managed a 7:50 per mile for a 1:42 for the half-marathon. Last year both my lower back muscles cramped on mile two of the run forcing me to run jog until mile 9 effectively putting the PR out of reach and a total run time of 2:01. So based on my history it could go either way. Hoping that my back was going to hold along with everything else I keep charging.
Alas the conclusion has yet to be written.
Seriously not purposely creating suspense:) I'll be back for the final conclusion to the story.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Hanging out with the competition, Emily from San Francisco Tri-club. Always down to make new friends. For the photoset click here.
What a great weekend; friends, racing a triathlon, 2 days in beautiful Santa Cruz and a drive up the California coast Monday morning.
Race venue was in Santa Cruz, 1.5 hours South of San Francisco. Friends and I rented a house which turned out to be right on the run course overlooking the ocean and 2.3 miles from the start, how sweet is that?
Our household was very laid back and mellow, serious but not overly so. We were doing it mostly for social/training reasons. We were all in different states of fitness but all realistic about our goals. As a result we were a very relaxed and fun group. The home had a big kitchen and we drank wine while we prepared food, drank more over dinner and cruised downtown for our dessert. We had ice cream, cruised downtown a bit and caught a couple of songs from a street band before heading home. We were all in bed by 10:30 and I got the most sleep before a race, about 6 hours. No anxiety whatsoever, slept like a baby. I approached this race like a regular training weekend workout. I didn't taper and kept up with my workouts even the day before the race. The only thing I did different was lay off the weight training. I wanted to finish in daylight:)
Race morning was a beauty. By the time our we got up at 5AM, Bruce had already gone out to stretch in the dark. He enjoyed listening to the surf coming in and breathing in the ocean air. We shared a meal together while Mari tried to share her superfood with us - Japanese Azuki Bean pastries (bread filled with sweet red bean filling). I love Azuki beans but I've never had it before a race so I politely declined.
By the time we got there the place was already bustling with activity and the transition area full. Soon it was a time to start and all athletes walked down the 1/8 of a mile to the start for the mandatory 6:45 meeting. I was unfocused. I was admiring the female athletes, "how ya doin!?". Talking to friends, "hey long time no see, where's so and so?". Searching out other club members, "how's your place? we got a great setup by the beach, stop by after the race." Eventually I settled down and got our crew in the ocean to warm up. It was cold and I'm glad we did it. It was colder than the 61 degrees they claimed it to be.
And we're off.
Meanwhile the 49ers American Football team just pullled one out of their you know what for a 20-17 win, I can relate somewhat.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Headed out to the Big Kahuna Triathlon. Race isn't until Sunday but friends and I rented a home for race weekend and are there from Saturday on. Great to be doing another event.
Triathlons, they're a bit like this.
This video has been circulating in the triathlon community, courtesy of thejetdrvr
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
As we were talking I saw the Miwok trail in the distance and asked if I could snap her picture with the trail in the background. She insisted on taking mine's as well. The picture doesn't do it justice, only a section is visible and the steepest part is out of the frame - visible only after you climbed the majority of it. This is where I do the majority of my hill repeats. Cat had started her run climbing Miwok and was circling back to her husband and dogs who were waiting for her at the valley floor. We said our goodbyes at the bottom of the hill. Matt was nowhere to be seen by the time I got back to the parking lot.
When I returned to San Francisco I decided to extend my run. First heading to Baker Beach and then the Presidio. Baker Beach was full of people, I had forgotten about the holiday weekend. Lots of people at Baker Beach, including the usual nudists at the eastern end. Presidio is an old military base that has been turned over the city. It's because of the military that we still have this open space in the city. It could easily have been another Pacific Heights or Sea Cliff, areas full of expensive homes. I explored new trails eventually ending up in the national cemetery, the only cemetery within city limits. Sometimes the vegetation and trees get thick but in the Presidio there is nothing to worry about, there are no mountain lions or snakes...well maybe snakes. You know in Hawaii there are no mountain lions, bear, snakes or poison oak. There are wild pigs but those are yummy...just sayin. I should have done more running while I was there.
My 5 hour run became a 6 hour run. Somewhere around 5.5 I was ready to stop. How does a body that can go for 24+ hours feel absolutely spent in 5+? Puzzles me sometimes. The last mile I kept laughing at the intersections because I wanted to walk home. No self-condemnation here only self-ridicule.
Monday, September 03, 2007
Coach Neil with students and volunteers. Going through instruction and teaching the new crew how to ride in a group and use hand signals for communication. I'm a big fan of Neil. He knows how to motivate and empower the shy and timid.
I like being involved and this is my third stint of helping out with this program. It's a lot of fun. You get to meet really great people, you watch them grow and gel together and you get to help them achieve their goals. We get everyone, from former high school / college athletes to recent converts to the athletic lifestyle.
I help out by coming to the workouts and sharing what I know. Most of the help is needed on the bike rides where the group is out on Marin riding the usual routes. We need leads and sweepers. We need people who know the routes and is willing to help change a flat or two, things of this nature.
The program reminds me of my own roots with YMCA Triathlon. I was injured training for a couple of big ultra races, tried it out to keep myself in shape and ended up loving it. The camaraderie, the group dynamic was so different from all the lonely, solo training I was doing for ultra. I stuck with it and never looked back. I'm no longer involved with the YMCA but have continued my triathlon activities with my current tri-club - Golden Gate Triathlon.
After the TAG workout several of us headed out to Marin for a short easy ride. With us was D'Anza who finished Ironman Canada last week with a 12:29:10. She joked that she should have gone harder cause she felt great. The group ended up getting split up because of an accident involving two of our riders. There was a dislocated finger involved, not life threatening but she was taken by emergency personnel. It was bent in an awkward position and she preferred to have medical staff snap it back into place. I don't blame her. We sent the other riders out while some of us stayed to make sure she was okay. It was a good reminder to me that our bodies are fragile despite all the feats of athleticism. It only takes one fall, biking or running.
The rest of the day was all work, deadline on Tuesday, but it was a great time to be out. Looking forward to another successful TAG program.