Saturday, October 31, 2009
The race is seeing it's biggest field ever. Speaking with Dave Combs at registration yesterday he told me that the largest previous field was 150 runners, yesterday they had 270 signed up! I could tell the difference, the start/finish area where many runners and crew are camping is full.
You all have a great weekend! Good luck to buddy and new dad to be Dave Ewart and the rest of the folks running the New York Marathon this weekend, to Jessica Fewless, Jose San Gabriel and the rest of the folks participating in the Marin County Triathlon.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
He already started breaking down emotionally before he even crossed the finish line, crying like a kid on his first breakup. The end of a very long day of running for Brian Krogmann. Tears of victory from a runner who just 6 hours before, thought his goals were going to slip away. He would charge back, run the most miles he has ever run in one time, break the course record by 10-miles and win the race in the process. An effort that may even get him into the national team.
Back in 2007, the Nike Women's Marathon and SF One Day happened on the same weekend. On Sunday morning, the second day of SF1D, the marathoners came through Crissy Field and for almost half a mile participants of both races ran side by side. I wish I was fly on the grass that day. I can only imagine the puzzled looks and the quick conversations that might have happened.
Like the Nike Women's Marathon, it was my third time volunteering for PCTR's SF One Day event. However it was my first time staying for the entire race, from sunrise to sunrise. I didn't work the whole time though, I served in phases. I socialized as much as I worked and I never left the premises. I didn't want to leave, I had a front row seat to an incredible show and was a witness to some of the highest highs and the lowest lows, to disappointments and victories. You want to see people fall apart slowly, mentally and physically, yet still manage to keep on truckin', this is a good event to attend. Of all the events I volunteer for SF1D is by far my favorite. Besides the runners we also had many friends from the running community stop by, say hello and lend a hand. We even had people stop by multiples times during the duration of the event. They just couldn't stay away.
The loop is just over a mile and it's a combination of asphalt and hard packed dirt with views of the Presidio, Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, Angel Island, Alcatraz and the city of San Francisco. This year's event had 133 runners with 69 signed up for the 24-hour race and 64 for the 12-hour race. Most miles wins. There is one aid station which is located at the start/finish. You only need one in this event. There are porta-potty's right next to the race site but the park bathrooms are only a short walk away. They even have showers but it's outdoors and cold! Crissy Field is a popular destination for walkers, bikers, runners, kite and wind surfers, dogs and children so the runners had lots of company during the day.
A walk through of the 1.06 mile loop.
I was there early with Brian Krogmann, the race didn't start until 9AM but we were there before 7AM since I had to help with parking and setup. Brian was staying with me for the weekend and despite my best efforts of tip-toeing around the apartment in the dark I woke him up anyway. I told him he had another couple of hours at least but the thought of Peet's coffee got him out of the bed. So we cabbed it to Peet's then to Crissy Field.
It seemed like the day went quickly. I helped with parking, the race started, everyone was off, I took lots of pictures, got busy setting up the aid station and next thing I knew it was already afternoon. I ate a late lunch, went for a walk around the course, took more photos, socialized and soon it was dark with the 12-hour racers wrapping up their event. Good friend Leigh "Pinky" Moser did awesome, taking first female with 64+ miles and second overall. Go Leigh! She also provided homemade pancake batter for breakfast the next day, what a runner.
However if the day felt fast the night seemed to drag out slowly. With the 12-hour runners off the course and most of the people off the park, things were quieter and more subdued. It was beautiful out there though. I run there all the time and there are not many nights like the one we had this past weekend. Just perfect for a run. The weather was spectacular! After the fog burned off by noon on Saturday it never came back. At night it was cool but not cold with clear skies and no wind. The water in the lagoon was like glass with reflections crisp and clear. It made me wish I had a camera that could capture good night shots. The weather was not only perfect for the runners but also for the crew and volunteers. Last year it got so cold, I remember freezing during the night inside the aid station tent despite the heater.
At 1AM I got permission to run on the course. It was my plan to get a long run in. Despite running in the opposite direction with my lights off I felt like I was still a distraction to the runners. Their headlights would track me as I ran past them. Tired runners don't need someone buzzing around them with fresh legs. I explored other parts of the park but eventually I would run into them again so I decided to just call it off. If you were wondering why I just didn't cross the bridge, the bridge is closed to foot traffic at night. Not many people know that - I read it's an attempt to prevent suicides. Apparently the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular place in America for that sort of thing. Before I finished I did manage to run/walk with a few of the runners; Suzanna Bon, Daniel Fabun, Catra Corbett, Nathan Yanko and Ken Michal. I would have ran with Brian too except that he looked so focused I'm not sure he would have even known I was there. I though it best to leave him alone. Pacing is not allowed at SF1D but a lap or two is okay. Spending time with these guys when they were tired and raw was a treat. Everyone was exhausted but they kept it together pretty well. I personally didn't witness any yelling, screaming or whining for that matter.
I got off the course at 3AM and Brian was leading as he did for most of the race. I helped him locate his bag in the dark so he could change shoes and he looked exhausted. Suzanna was looking solid, it was like the miles had no effect on her and she seemed to get stronger as the race went on. It did not escape Brian's notice. He worried about being caught. Sometime after 5AM I crashed in my chair inside the aid station tent, thankfully Devon was there to help out. When I got up at 6AM Brian was still in the lead. At 7AM when there was finally enough light to see everyone, Brian looked like a boxer that went a few rounds. His face was puffy and his eyes partly closed. He was not too steady every time he stopped at the aid station. It seemed like he was going to fall over. He was kicking butt in the race but the race was kicking the crap out of him too. Once he stopped at the aid station and started to weave sideways like he was going to fall. Two concerned spectators, Zach and Jason, walked a lap with him to make sure he didn't collapse out on the course. Crazy but he kept on going, the legs kept driving forward relentlessly. Suzanna had also started to finally show signs of fatigue. Still solid but slower and you can feel the effort. The smile was gone, it was all "eye of the tired tiger" at this point.
While that was going on other stories were playing out. Nathan during the night had stopped running due to a pain in his foot which prevented him from putting too much pressure on it. Fearing the worst he stopped around 89 miles or so and got some sleep. Nathan is fast and an accomplished runner. The weekend before he had won the Humboldt Redwoods Marathon with a time of 2:45. He is the current record holder of the Headland Hundreds at 18:44:58, a 100-miler that has over 20,000 feet of climbing. It just wasn't his day however at SF1D. In the morning, still wrapped up in his blanket, he walked a lap. Soon the blanket was off and he was moving better and faster. Not long after he was running and had set a goal of at least completing 100 miles before the 24 hours was up. With a half hour to go he still had three laps to complete and these he did in 8, 7, and 6 minute miles. Then there was Heather Van Ness, the poor woman had been sick earlier in the week and nothing she put in her stomach was agreeing with her. She struggled with calories for the entire event. Many people drop when their stomachs go south, they can't get anything down. Heather on the other hand just kept moving from one food item to the next, they all made her feel sick but somehow she got enough calories in to keep going. The best quote from the weekend came from her. During the night she comes out of the porta-potty and says "Good news, I just threw everything up and I'm starting with a clean slate, what can I eat?!" Yeah baby optimism and perseverance. Heather would finish the race. There were so many other stories but it would take too long to type them all down.
Brian would tally 140 miles for the win and a new course record. His performance may be good enough to get him into the national team. Suzanna would finish with 134 miles which is also a new course record. Her performance may also be good enough to get her into the national team. A great race for both of them. The finish line was full of relieved runners, happy to be done. Handshakes and hugs all around and there was much cheering and clapping during the awards ceremony. Shan Riggs who held the previous SF1D record of 130.2 miles was there to congratulate friends. He ended up dropping out after about 89 miles because of achilles problems. He left, slept and after some painkillers, came down to support his friends on Sunday morning.
Well thankfully I didn't have to carry Brian around for the rest of the day. He recovered nicely once he stopped running and Shan and Abby gave us a ride back to my place. He was fine enough to stand in line for breakfast for 1.5 hours - it was his idea. He had been wanting to hit this famous breakfast place since his last trip to San Francisco. This freaking dude stood there like he had a full nights sleep and no miles on his legs. Brian if you are reading this, you are a freak but in a way that I wish I was too. I wish I had your energy, speed and endurance.
Good times. I'm still tired and I didn't even run. I learned a lot and I know a little bit more about my friends. I'm already looking forward to volunteering for next year. I'm not interested in doing a timed event such as this, not why I run long, but I enjoy the race and supporting the runners. Congratulations to all who ran this year and thank you PCTR for another great event.
For more photos, click here.
Running past the time mat by the start/finish tent. What is not seen is the new large screen tv displaying the names of runners and the laps they have completed. Pace, miles completed and overall standings is also displayed.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
While it's a women's marathon, entries are open to men and in the last two times that I've worked this station it was men leading the pack. Not Sunday. I could see it was a woman heading our way, ponytail moving back and forth. As she got closer I recognized the gold/yellow top with black and red and I was like "No way! That's not who I think it is". Oh it was! Leading by a huge margin was Caitlin Smith of La Sportiva in her Skylites (correction made, I originally mis-identified them as Crosslites - a burlier, heavier, more aggressively tread shoe.) I was yelling like a crazed fan and I think she was surprised to see me too. I turned around to run ahead so I could take another picture and when I looked back she was down. The first thing that flashed through my head was "Oh shit! Did I do that by distracting her?" In that section of the course there is a rut right in the middle of the road, a weathered crack in the asphalt, and it goes on for at least a mile. As she exited the station I asked her "what are you doing here?" She looks over with a determined smile and simply says, "running". She would win the race outright. Here's a great pic of her being congratulated at the finish by Gold Medal Olympian Joan Benoit-Samuelson and Olympian Kara Goucher and you can read her race report on her blog. A couple of friends were in the pace cars, one for the full and the other for the half-marathon. They were amazed with her climbing ability. At the races she is easy to talk to and she is all smiles but under that hood is something fierce that loves cranking up hills and mountains. Come to think of it that describes many people in the trail running crowd. Speaking of which I managed to catch other ultra folk out there as well and I did my best to be a little bit more restrained with my cheering; Jochen Horn who just ran Firetrails 50, Lori Liu up from SoCal and Nattu Natraj. Nattu got dropped by his friend so he spent a few minutes chatting with me before continuing. Always a pleasure Nattu. I'm sure there were more but it got pretty busy. As you can imagine we had our peak periods twice being a double aid station.
This was my third time volunteering for the Nike Marathon and I've been doing the same job, one of two aid station captains for station 9. The day started at 5AM when Lisa and I left the truck depot laden with aid station supplies and it ended at 2:30PM when we pulled back in to the truck depot. We are always the last truck to come back since we handle the last aid station but over the years the whole process has been streamlined and we have come back earlier and earlier. 2:30PM is a new PR! In fact we got out of there before the police department had reopened the roads to traffic. After each race I talk about doing something easier like registration or handing out t-shirts but I've never meant it and those jobs are not any easier anyway. Besides I like being out on the course. Our volunteers were great. The high school kids worked hard and they were fun to boot. After Caitlin's fall several of the high school students smoothed out the road with sand. They took a bucket and one of the shovels we had for clean up and got to work, shuttling sand between the beach and the aid station. The elementary kids got tired early but that was to be expected and their parents filled in superbly. There were a couple of mothers who actually ran the half-marathon race and came back to volunteer with their family.
Another thing worth noting, there was less trash on the course at least in our section - one of the reasons we were able to get back early. We barely had any cups to sweep off the road. More runners really made use of the trash receptacles. I was very impressed. Maybe it was also the elementary school kids in their oversized volunteer shirts, a couple of which were darting in and out picking up the cups that missed the boxes. Maybe the runners didn't want to make more work for them. Note to self: Invite the kids back for next year.
Lastly I will share a note I got from one of the race directors, Lara Zaman. Thought it was a good one.
I just wanted to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you for taking the time out of your hectic lives to help all those racers yesterday, for attending all the previous meetings and working extremely hard to make this a very successful Nike Marathon event. Yesterday started early & finished pretty late. I know it was cold out in the early hours of the morning at Ocean Beach and that it was a long day. I hope you all found some enjoyment in doing this. The most touching moment for me yesterday was asking a finisher around age 65 if she was okay as she was bent over crying. I felt so sorry for her I hugged her and she hugged me back crying. When I asked her again what was wrong she told me she couldn't believe that she had done it. She had run her first marathon. It's moments like these that made me realize that I contributed in making the day a little more better by being there to help, so thank you all.
First marathon at 65 and she choose San Francisco, hills and all. Sweet! Pretty damn amazing. Congratulations to her, Caitlin, friends and all the Nike Women Marathon runners! Had so much fun I may be back again next year.
Monday, October 12, 2009
I came to beat my personal record from last year - 7:55:42. I was ready. All psyched up and with lots of juice in the legs. In the first 8-miles I had to restrain myself from going out too fast. My heart rate monitor was registering high numbers but I felt fantastic, nevertheless I pulled it back. I had my times at the different aid stations from last year clipped to my bottle and I was sure I was going to come in faster but by the second AS I was surprised to see that I was behind by 10 minutes. When I opened the throttle all the way I was dismayed to find out that I couldn't catch up. By the marathon mark I was still 10 minutes down and by the 33-mile mark I was at 15. I called the PR quest at that point and just focused on finishing strong. It was a spectacular day for racing. Cold and foggy at the start and even when the sun came out it never got hot and there were cool breezes throughout. The volunteers were great and many friends came out to cheer, crew and pace. It was not a day to be wasted brooding on what should have been. Despite being slower I had a great run. Two days later I'm still smiling every time I think of it.
Such a strange thing to feel like I was going faster and harder when I was actually going slower. If there was no watch to tell me the time and no splits to compare to I could have sworn that I was running faster than last year. In my head I was flying! No major problems, no cramping and fatigue levels were at a reasonable level. I ran hard the whole time, I was just missing a couple of gears. At the finish line I felt great. I'm pretty sure it was the lack of quality training weeks leading up to the race due to the longer than expected recovery from the Headlands Hundred. I trained while I continued to recover and there were definitely some lack luster miles. What quality days I did manage allowed me to finish well. It wasn't the race I wanted but it was a good and solid run. I felt I made the right decisions from start to finish. I went out with a big goal. I worked hard and fought for it and when it became clear it wasn't going to happen I wisely let go and focused on a strong finish. I worked hard the entire race and had the presence of mind not to let my disappointment of not achieving my main goal affect my appreciation for the race, the volunteers, the great weather and the wonderful company of friends. Just doing my best to develop the mental side of my running. I left Firetrails thinking, "that was a really good day of running!" I love this beautiful, wonderful race and I hope it continues for many years to come.
And after all those wonderful volunteers, all the food and drink that we used up in our journey of 50-miles, after being treated to a lakeside bbq complete with picnic tables and large areas of grass for lounging, they sent us home with another bag full of great schwag. I'm wearing the jacket right now. They also gave us a running shirt, a copy of Trailrunner and UltraRunning magazine and a wine glass with the logo. Like all the ultras I've run, what I got was more than the money I spent and it's always given with a smile, a pat on the back and a lot of aloha. You know if I'm a volunteer at your race, consider your money already well spent right there! Har, har, I kid on that part.
To the female runner who told me around mile 40+ that I had nice legs, more so because they were covered in dust, thank you. I pulled away not from embarrassment but because you made me laugh and shot new energy into my legs. I hope you heard the "thank you" I said between breaths as we hauled up that hill. They were thinking of you when they made this shirt. A big shout out to my good friend and training partner, Jon Gunderson, who rocked his race with a 7:25 and 5th place. You can read his report on his blog. He was one of the runners who was supposed to run Angeles Crest 100 before the fire cancelled the race. He will be running Javelina Jundred in three weeks instead and entered this race as his last long run before the hundred.
Thanks to RD's Ann Trason and Carl Andersen and all the volunteers for another great time at the Dick Collins Firetrails 50-Mile. I hope my fellow runners felt the same way, seemed like everyone had a great time. I hope the marathoners enjoyed their race as well. There is a marathon held in conjunction with the race. The "Golden Hills Marathon" start at our 26-mile turnaround at Lone Oak and we share most of the same aid stations on the way back to Lake Chabot with the marathoners going on a separate 2.2 mile loop to get their full 26.2 miles before rejoining us for the same finish. They start just as the first runners of our race are making their way down to Lone Oak. Leor Pantilat was once again leading the marathon charge, a flash of yellow in his La Sportiva mountain running team shirt.
Well as California's Governator said, "I'll be back". If I am able I would run this race again. It was my first 50 back in 2002 and I've run it the last 3 years.
Dick Collins Firetrails 50-Mile
8:29:28 28th out of 231 starters
Fellow GGTCer Daniel Scarberry, on his first 50-mile race, coming into Skyline Gate mile 15. Gives you an idea of the weather we had and the type of trails we were running in. I believe he is much faster than his 7:56 suggests and if he sticks around and continues to learn and gain experience he could really do well. Photo courtesy of Lisa Klinkefus.
For the photoset click here.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
It turned out to be a colder day than I anticipated but the sun was out at least and it was warm in the sun. My friends were doing the 14, 23 and 37k option. We got there 20 minutes before race start and I rushed around to greet the other runners that I knew. A nice surprise was George Velasco who was in town and decided to run the 50k race. I have only seen George at the 100s either running, crewing or pacing. In the end I ended up helping out at the finish line aid station - that was where all the good stuff was:) One of the gals came in second woman on the 14k event and it was her first trail run. Another friend managed not to get stung by bees/wasps which was a good thing because he's allergic. People got stung in front of and behind him. When the course looped back to the start he picked up his emergency syringe and ran with it for the rest of the run. Overall a pretty darn good day of grazing at the aid station table and watching other people run the trails.
As for the work that I could have done while I was away. I got going on that soon as I got home and into the evening. I got to do both in the end.
Friday, October 02, 2009
The day at Tilden Park was awesome. I never train in the East Bay and part of that is because I don't have a car. Even if the Oakland Bay Bridge was open to foot traffic, it isn't, you would need a way to get to the trails after you cross over. When you head north on the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, there's a trailhead waiting on the other side to take you into the Marin Headlands and eventually the Mt. Tamalpais area - in these parts we just say Mt. Tam. That will change however since I now have running friends in the East Bay who I can meet up with at the train stations who are more than willing to share their favorite trails.
We had a good turnout, it was warm but folks brought their water bottles. The run was 7.4 miles but a good number extended to 12, and some folks went up to 16. That's long for triathletes and with the heat and hills, it made for a long day for some of them. I should add that it's long for most people unless they were training for an ultra-marathon. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I was on the Dick Collin's Firetrails 50-Mile course, my race next weekend. We were around the 26-mile turnaround and it got me more psyched for the race. I opted for the 7.4-mile option. As it was I was already bringing up the rear and I couldn't wait to get back for the promised bbq. Some brought their wetsuits for a swim at the lake, it was probably warm enough without them.
I hope you all have a great weekend. My thoughts this past week have been on the Philippines. They have had one big hurricane and another one hitting right now. I have been thinking about my family, relatives, friends and fellow runners who I have met through blogs and Facebook. The streets are flooded and there is lots of devastation. There is a running boom there right now and I just know that once the rain stops, the waters recede, that there will be runs conducted to raise money for the victims. My prayers go out to them.
We got maps and everything. I was no help, I had no idea where I was but it was a refreshing feeling. The park was as big as the world since I didn't know where I was, that was until I recognized I was on the Firetrails 50 race course. Then my next thought was, "all these years and I didn't know I was running trails that was part of Berkeley". What a shame, soon to be rectified...hopefully.
Ran into another running local yokel, Jeff Lang. Did I mention it was also warm in the East Bay? I had sweat through my shirt and into my shorts and here's Jeff in full track pants and a beanie. You know he's used to the heat, he only has sweat stains on his chest. I'll see him at Firetrails too.