Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shorter and Sweeter

Boggs 50k and another 50k before that, Mt. Diablo, affirmed what I was feeling - tired, more mental than physical. I didn't do well in the training department this year and it shows. Not only did I have so-so results at the races but I am feeling worn before December. This is all, I believe, due to my lack of cross training - something I've bemoaned about before. I'm already looking forward to 2011, excited in fact. I've already started hitting the gym again not wanting to wait until January after my usual break in December. However since I still had the Quad Dipsea in the calendar I had to keep up some kind of training. It's my favorite race and I wouldn't miss it if I'm able. My goal is only to finish in a decent time GRACEFULLY. The last part is important. I once showed up for the Quad over-trained and not only did it take me a long time but I felt like a Sumo wrestler had sat on me. I ached and was stiff all over. The butt of a wrestler has never graced these bones but that kind of pain is what I imagine it to be.

Not wanting to do more 6+ hour long runs I decided to do just enough training to get through the Quad. I planned on shorter long runs, 14-20 milers, with more intensity to make up for the lack of distance. Last weekend I ran the 25k of PCTR's Stinson Beach 50k and the weekend before that, the 33k race of PCTR's Muir Beach 50k with great success. This is success measured in the amount of fun I had and the whoop ass I dealt, mainly to myself. Fun + enough intensity = successful race.

Muir Beach 33k
It rained the night before and into the morning. I woke up thinking that I really just wanted to slip right back into my warm bed. If one of the two other guys in my carpool bailed I would have gladly conceded the run yet called him a wussy anyway. That's what friends are for c'mon. Deep down though I did not want to start my birthday, my 39th year, being a wimp and was glad no one bailed. The trails were worse than I imagined, I've never seen them like that. After the initial climb where I was at many points breathless from struggling uphill against the mud, I got to work and pushed it to my last gear. Despite getting lost between the last aid station and the finish where I added at least a mile, I snuck into 10th. Had a grand time in those conditions finishing right behind pals Chris Perillo and Eric Wilson. A bummer on getting lost but it was what it was.

Stinson Beach 33k
I was excited for this race because so many friends were running in the three events; 12k, 25k and the 50k. It was a trail party with over 300 runners registered. It ended up being a beautiful day and the trails were in great condition. If I had to sum up the race, it's comprised of one big up, one big down, a short rolling section, another big climb followed by another short rolling section into a sweet, long, technical downhill for the finish. The 50k race is two loops for the 25k course. Being stronger in the hills this year I had a good start on the first long climb and from there I just kept on pushing as hard as possible without blowing up. I whooped a couple of times on the last big downhill having the time of my life. That's not really like me. I'm smiley but not the yelley type. Just missed going under the 2:30 mark for a 2:30:16 and 7th place overall. I missed it but it was sure fun sprinting that last mile trying to make it.

Three weeks after the Pine to Palm 100-mile in September I ran the Tantalus 10-mile road race in Honolulu which was just a blast and merciful in it's shortness. The high I felt during and after that race is the same high I'm getting with these sub-50k trail races. The shorter stuff has really re-invigorated my running. It feels like March when I am gearing up for the season. I should be going longer if I want to do well in the Quad but since I'm only looking for a graceful finish these runs should be fine. I think they are short considering that the Quad is 28.5 miles and quite hilly but I'm hoping the intensity that I've been running these races will make up for the lack of distance. I'll find out come Thanksgiving weekend. I'm certainly happier with the shorter runs and in the end that counts for a lot.

Here's to the rapidly approaching Quad Dipsea race, the close of my 2010 season and the promise of 2011.

Enjoy the pictures, all are from the Stinson Beach race. Muir Beach was too wet for my camera. For the rest of the photoset, click here.

With my Golden Gate Triathlon Club and SF Triathlon Club friends at the start.

Golden Gate Traithlon Club Run Director, Helen Kao, animated and excited despite not being able to race due to a sprained ankle.

The 50k start wave. We were started in waves to keep congestion down on the trails.

More friends, truly a trail party. Walter and Jeff, part of a group training on the Dipsea trail - just made it to the start before the gun to say hello.

Suzanna Bon and Larissa Polischuk. Suzanna hit 136 miles last month in a 24-hour race and probably landed another berth in the US Women's 24-hour Team. LP was running the 25k, we are the welcome committee for our Thursday morning runs - the back of the pack welcome committee as we are always bringing up the rear of those runs.

At the finish. We were racing against each other. I had to run extra hard on the downhills because she runs up hills I walk. Her boyfriend Brett placed a spectacular 2nd.

The Endurables Sydney and Sandrine, two more Golden Gate Triathlon Clubbers who have gotten into trail running and racing. Brett and Larissa got their start with Jim Vernon's group and he continues to train and equip runners for the trail.

On a day filled with cute girls, she was the cutest. Cami Ewart, newest Golden Gate Triathlon Club member.

Brett Rivers (2nd), Leor Pantilat (1st) and Jason Reed (3rd) for the 25k. Great guys, impressive times. Really impressed with Brett this year, 3 big and hilly 100-milers (HURT 100, Tahoe Rim Trail 100 and Pine to Palm 100) and three top 5 finishes - 2nd in Tahoe.

Devon Crosby-Helms and Leigh Schmidt, champions for the 50k.

Finally meeting Amy Flint Schmich, a buddy of a buddy. It's a small community, made even smaller by Facebook.

PCTR staff member, Mike Bohi, sporting one of the new PCTR jackets. I designed the logo and it never gets old seeing something that starts on sketch paper go to digital/computer and finally into actual marketing materials and gear - stuff I can hold, something tangible.

Leigh Moser and Monica Brennan. PCTR regulars and tireless volunteers. Leigh would actually run the 50k, late to the start because of her duties. No race without staff and volunteers and so I end with this image.


  1. I hear you on shorter sweeter stuff. I long the feeling of acomplishment from 100's, I dream of night's stumble and remember vividly how much they hurt and how much I love them...but finishing a 50 miler brings me to the finish line in a day light (of a 1st day!) when I am totally in my mind and can laugh, enjoy, be sarcastic - and then still sleep in a bed at home! May be next I'll try 50k:)
    Awesome times, Rick! So, wanted to ask, Larissa - Russian?

  2. Hola Lady, so good to hear from you. I know what you mean about the 50-milers and I love those for the same reason, 100ks too - long enough to be epic but you are not there all night. Everything has a season. I hope to be back in the 100s again stronger and better and I know you will be too. You have a head start on the rest, recover and rebuild phase. I'm sure all that strength training and yoga/pilates that you have been doing will pay off. The shorter stuff takes some getting used to, fast starts, fast and hard all the way but they are exhilarating. I'd like to think that I am just maturing further as a runner, able to enjoy and appreciate races of many distances and surfaces.

    Larissa is Polish and funny that you should ask because she reminds me a little bit of you - that tough personality that will try to grind through anything, tough and persistent.

  3. My training is off the charts poor this year so I living these shorter races too, I feel like I can run rather than just survive!

    Love the new logo...looking forward to the new shirts for us in the south!

  4. You said it Stuart, running a distance where you feel like your are actually running not stumbling and simply surviving. Thanks. I'm glad it turned out well.