Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Season

Pirates Cove 50k Trail Run
Better than I thought with a 4:55:34
Report Here and Here.

Mt. Diablo 50-Miler
Lots of stinkin elevation and heat
A sad time of 11:35, I got lost:(
Talked about it here, here and here.

The Relay
199 mile relay from Calistoga to San Francisco to Santa Cruz
Videos of the event and my report and pictures.

Wildflower Long Course Triathlon
PR at 5:34

Quicksilver 50-miler
PR at 8:02 and 10th Place Overall

Kettle Moraine 100-miler
One crazy day of running in Wisconsin; heat, humidity, thunderstorms and the threat of tornados.
PR at 21:40 and 3rd Place Overall

Tahoe Rim Trail 100-miler
That altitude whopped my butt and my knee, same one that bothered me at Kettle Moraine 100, shut down my running at mile 77. Walked it in though and got the finish anyway. Tough day and a tough race! Finished grumpy and dejected but had my spirits lifted up by fellow runners and finishers. At the finish line you are always greeted by people who know what you just went through!
26:23 for 20th.

Pacing at Headlands 100
Lost my original runner due to injury but got to pace Catra and Donald. I didn't have to go home with clean, fresh smelling clothes:) The runners were so helpful, they found me other people to pace.

Grand Tetons Hike
Not a race event but even more challenging. 17 hours, 23 miles, two peaks and enough altitude to make this sea level dweller see stars
Pictures and a report here, here and here.

Skyline to the Sea 50k
5 days after the event I was still stinkin slow and slightly sore, must have run really hard.
4:24:53 for 8th and a new 50k PR.
Report Here

Pacing at Rio del Lago
Photos and the Report.

Dick Collin's Firetrails 50-miler
Fastest 50-mile trail race ever with a7:55.
Talked about it here and the race report here.

Volunteering at San Francisco 24hr. Run

Crewing and Pacing at Javelina Jundred 100-mile
A grand ol' time in Arizona. Now I want to run the race myself!
Volunteer Report, Videos, Images and other good stuff.

Quad Dipsea
Got that PR, 35 minutes off my best time with a 4:59:05. Cut it very close.
Race Report

The Northface 50-miler
Initial thoughts here and full report here.

Volunteering at PCTR Muir Beach 50k

20k Fun Run at PCTR Rodeo Beach 50k

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tag I'm It

I was tagged by Rajeev to answer a few questions.

1. What was your 2008 running highlight and running low?

After volunteering at PCTR"s SF One Day I went running with friends. There were two people I didn't know but the other two runners were old friends. I've seen them individually but it's been a long time since we all went running together. It was a Sunday morning north of San Francisco on Mt. Tam. After 24 hours of being by the Golden Gate bridge watching runners go round and round a 1-mile flat course it was the perfect antidote - a run in the hills, trees and rough trail. It was a short run, just shy of two hours. Mary Alice left early but the rest of us stayed together. The last two miles, JP and I hauled butt back to the car dropping Jason and Duncan, highlight of my year. We were running hard and being punks, putting as much distance between Jason and Duncan. Somewhere on those last two miles the blessedness of the situation hit me; I was with friends, running my favorite type of trail, smiling between hard breaths and running like a kid after being up for most of the last 24 hours. I hope there are many more days like that in store for me.

JP, Myself, Duncan, Jason and Mary Alice at the start of our run.

Walking in the last 23 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail 100. After being loopy and fuzzy in the dark for over 12 miles, I recovered (thanks in part to the advice of a fellow runner to take more salt and liquids) only to have knee pain that cut my progress down to a walk. It was the same problem that plagued me the last 5 miles of the Kettle Moraine 100 six weeks before. That was a very long, lonely walk. Beautiful though, it was a full moon and Tahoe was breathtaking up in the ridges. It took me a little over 8 hours, from around 11PM Saturday night to 7AM Sunday morning. I was pretty pissed and dejected when I crossed that finish line. It wasn't until later in the day, at the awards ceremony, did I recover enough to want to try again in the future. TRT100, I'll be back one day and I will finish the way I wanted to the first time.

The whole knee thing was a blessing in disguise. The pain was not in the knee joint itself but a muscle above it. I saw an ART specialist and was pleasantly surprised about what she found. The problem, along with my chronic ITB issues was caused by an old hamstring injury that never fully healed. The good news is that I've been on my way to restoring more flexibility and power to the muscle. This should solve the problem as well as my chronic issues with my IT band. It will also make me faster. Second it forced me on a 2-3 week running break late in the Summer which helped me come back stronger in the Fall. Rested and hungry, I ran was able to run hard and well but no more 100s for the year.


2. What race are you secretly planning on doing (or contemplating) for 2009 but haven't made it known to the public....until now.
No secret races. If I run something I hadn't planned on, it will be a surprise to me as well:)

3. Where would you like create and direct an ultra that (to your knowledge) none exists?
Absolutely no desire to create and direct an ultra but I am happy that there will be a 100-miler in Oregon.

4. What is your "primary" race for 2009?
I want to run well in all my 100s, especially in the one in Oregon.

5. What is the most exciting thing about your upcoming race schedule?
The possibility of running races faster, stronger, better. The chance to reconnect with old and new friends. The chance to run in new venues; San Diego, Vermont, Oregon and Arizona. To meet more great runners and personalities in this amazing sport of ultra-marathoning and trail running.

6. List your planned races for 2009?
You know this year I didn't list my planned races at the beginning of the season. I had a good idea of the 100 milers that I wanted to do but I only listed races in my schedule as I entered or committed to entering them. I rather like that format. The thought of coming up with a big list of races and trying to stick to it for the whole year doesn't appeal to me anymore. The only sure thing in my schedule right now would be the Quad Dipsea. I love that race and I'm aiming for 10 finishes. I just finished my 6th consecutive this past November.

That said, I plan on running the San Diego 100, Vermont 100, Hundred in the Hood in Oregon and if I'm still in good shape at the end of the year, Javeline Jundred in Arizona. I just entered my name for the Miwok 100k lottery. The race takes place in the first week of May. All my Spring race planning is on hold right now until I know the results of the lottery. I get in great, if not just fine too. Lots of great races in the Spring but hard to plan until I know for sure what will be happening the first week of May.

That's it. Short survey no?

I tag Tony, Bob, Paulette, J~Mom and Dave. Come out and play kids!

Monday, December 22, 2008

PCTR Rodeo Beach

The finish for the Miwok 100k is one of my favorites. It's a nice long downhill through trail and road. This is a section of it in reverse. Admittedly not as much fun! Shot this over my back, came out nicely I thought.

So last weekend Jess decided she wanted to do the 20k race of PCTR's Rodeo Beach event. I was going to volunteer again but I decided to join her instead. After Ironman Couer d'Alene she has been able to run long because of a knee injury. We then roped in Sammy who just finished her first 50k at the Northface event. Sammy was in no mood to go short after experiencing the 50k but a little peer pressure was all it took. A group from our tri-club was also signed up for the 8k and 20k races, so we had ourselves a little running party. I car pooled with them to the start, getting there just before the 50k and 33k runners were about to set off. A part of myself wished I was there with them but that moment didn't last long. I was just happy to be out there again, in any capacity.

The 20k start was 15 minutes later and I used that time to get ready and catch up with the other runners I knew. Got to hangout a bit with Kate Morejohn, met her son Justin who finished ahead of me at the Quad Dipsea three weekends ago and she also introduced me to her friend Rachel who was running her first trail race. Also got a chance to catch up with blog friend Victoria who was also running the 20k. This was her first run since she broke her foot at the Skyline to the Sea 50k a couple of months back. She broke it 8 miles from the finish and hobbled it in for medical aid and the finish.

It was a beautiful day, just amazing weather. The views from the top of the hills was breathtaking. I'm here all the time and I'm never bored of the views especially on days like this. I can go on and on about it but you can see it in the pictures. My run with Jess and Sam was great and I got to run with other folks as well. The best part was being done early with a finish line full of people. I'm so used the usual PCTR 50ks where it's only a handful of us left at the finish. A good day for a good run.

Something A Little Embarrassing
I fell behind Sam and Jess on the first climb. I was talking, taking pictures, taking that one video. On the ensuing downhill I hauled it to catch up. I came upon two runners running on either side of the trail so naturally I picked a line between them. As I was about to go through the gap the runner on the left cuts right in front of me. I brake but could not avoid running into his back, at least I had time to put my hands up. Thankfully he doesn't go down but the runner to my right yells out of surprise. I apologize to her quickly explaining the situation. She still wasn't happy and I told her it was a race and she was ok but not too nicely. At the finish line my friend Susan, waves me over to meet her friend. Wouldn't you know it, it was the same girl I had a run in with. It was a slow walk to Susan but a quick and more heartfelt apology this time to her friend. She was quite nice actually and told me that once before someone had run into her, giving her an injury. Haha! Susan was surprised and amused, "this is the guy!!" Yeah, yeah it was me. By the way Susan, since you admitted lurking on my blog, your USF email keeps bouncing back.

I'll be sure to schedule more runs like this for next year. Shorter, easier runs with friends. It's quite fun and I also got to do something I haven't done in awhile - take pictures on the run.

33k runners Chikara and Jady, mixing up with the 50k starters. Chikara looks pensive while Jady is praying, meditating? Whatever it is he looks happy to be out and ready to start. That's Jon Burg with the white cap to his left. The last time I saw Jon he was dressed like this.

And they are off, it's an uphill start:)

Steve Ansell whipping up some PB&Js.

We veered off to the right but you see that trail to the left, that leads right to the Golden Gate Bridge. That's the trail I use to enter the Marin Headlands 90% of the time. Next year I will trade these trails for the more lush, technical, tree covered trails around Mt. Tam, just mixing it up.

A little over a mile to the finish, hauling it in. Jess, Sam, Kate Morejohn's friend Rachel and tri-clubmate Allison.

With Scrappy at the finish. We were still laughing at how she had to shush me out of the 41-mile aid station during the Northface event. Marisa also finished her first 100 this year at Javelina.

For more photos, click here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Northface 50-mile Race Report.

My fortune cookie today said, "You have a charming way with words. Send an email to a friend". Right... Well I don't know about charming but I certainly have a lot of words. A little late but here is my race report for the Northface 50-mile race.

Initial Thoughts
Official Results
Event Website
My Photos
Northface's Photos
Northface's Own Race Recap
Matt Carpenter and Kami Semick talk about their performances. Refreshing to read about the battles up front. Kami Semick would actually trip and fall on the trail, twisting and ankle and banging her knee. She gets up only to fall back down again, the leg unable to support her. What she did afterwards was just plain awesome. I love how tough runners are in this sport.

The Venue
The San Francisco Northface Endurance event takes place across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, in the Marin Headlands. This is the race site for many races which includes: PCTR's Headlands Hundred and it's 50-mile option, the Miwok 100k and the Headlands 50k. A beautiful place to run and my training grounds. Most of the course I already knew which was a great advantage. I knew where to push, where to rest. I knew where the good downhills were and where the long climbs waited. However there was one area where I wasn't as familiar with, the trails around Mt. Tam. The inclusion of these specific trails was what made it the most beautiful 50-mile course I've ever run. It was a good balance between beauty and difficulty. On the southern part of the Marin Headlands, where we started, the trails are exposed, dry and gravelly. The lack of tall trees offered great views all around. As we traveled north we found ourselves on tree covered trails, single track covered with dried leaves (cushy) and in the case of the Steep Ravine trail, we traveled down a path that was fern lined with water from a small waterfall flowing next to us. I was particularly impressed that they were able to pack 10,700 feet of elevation gain, same for the total loss while keepi. This is more elevation gain than the Miwok 100k (62-miles) or the 50-mile option of the Headlands Hundred.

My Race
My race started off very well. At 5am it was still dark and everyone had their headlamps on. It was also cold and flat at the start. The lead pack charged ahead and crowd behind was also moving fast. I was charing hard too, running to get ahead of the mid pack on the road before we hit the single track. I pulled back the effort as soon as we hit the first climb. It was a fire road, quite runnable, not too high but a slow steady climb for almost a couple of miles. I kept an eye on my heart rate monitor and pushed and pulled my way up the hill. The lead pack was already out of sight and I was still getting passed. I got passed a lot which made me worry that many were getting sucked into a faster start by adrenaline, the flat start and cool temps. At the top of the climb I looked back and saw nothing but headlamps snaking their way up the hill in the darkness. It was an amazing sight, like cars driving up a mountain road.

Things were going well but my speed hit it's ceiling around the 13th mile, about where the Muir beach aid station was. It was staffed by Jess and our friends from the tri-club and it was great to see them even though it was brief. I was moving well but couldn't push any faster. I was okay with it though, I figured as much since I raced hard the weekend before. I was just surprised I felt it so early. Nothing else to do but to keep pushing and if all I could muster was "good" instead of "great", I endeavored to keep going with "good" for the rest of the race. However by mile 22 at the start of our biggest climb of the day and up to the turnaround at mile 26 I was totally tanking. I went from "good" to "not so good" to "dragging my butt". I felt done and I was ready for a slugfest for the rest of the race. I had no energy and the legs felt flat. All this would change at the turnaround.

Three things happened. First at the turnaround I saw a couple of friends who were just ahead of me that I wanted to catch up to, second I started to believe that I could break 9 hrs. and lastly I switched to half water half Accelerade. I like Accelerade but the stuff was overwhelming my taste buds and my stomach. I was also taking too much. It was too sweet and I was putting in too many calories when combined with an energy gel. I felt much better with the stuff watered down. From that point on it was a totally different race. Something unlocked deep down and things started to move. Not only did I start running hard again, I was moving faster and felt better than I did earlier in the race. Soon I passed my friends and found other people to chase. The drive to come in under 9 hrs. made me push hard. That last half felt good and the last ten miles was just amazing. I felt strong and fast. Felt so good.

In the end I missed coming in under 9 hours. I knew at mile 40 while I was struggling up Diaz Ridge. This piece of trail was a thing of beauty. It just went up and up and up, false peaked and up and up again. It was short but steep. The goal for sub-9 pretty much ended there but it didn't affect my motivation. I was feeling too good. I met up with pals Samantha and Jenny at the mile 41 aid station, they were running the 50k, and was feeling so good I broke my rule of fast aid station stops by talking and giving the ladies hugs. Volunteer Marissa Walker had to shush me out of there. Thanks Marissa! From there I kept on charging to the finish.

Post Race
I came across the line with the announcer stating my name and city. Friends were on hand, smiles and pictures all around. It was a good, good finish. There were more pictures, lots of talking before I hurried off to change. The elites were already there lounging in the grass and around tables, undoubtedly sharing stories about their day. I was star struck, just a little. The food was good, there was an awards ceremony and everything. Dean Karnazes was there and I wanted to get a picture with him for J~Mom who I knew was a big fan. However I didn't want to put down my two plates of food to go chasing after him. What? I was really hungry! I figured I would have time later in the day but I kept running in and out of the food tent. The cookies were good. I'm sure it was because of the 50-miles:)

Final Thoughts
The San Francisco race was great and I would do it again. Amazing course, loved every mile. It's a lot of race for your money. You get your money's worth on the schwag alone and the nice heavy medal. The big negative thing that I saw about this race was the trash. Lots of energy gel packets on the trail. The most trash I've seen in a trail race. More trash than all the trails races I've done this year combined. I'm sure it got picked up when they swept the course but it shouldn't even be there. It was disturbing. Other than that it was a great event. I felt the organization worked hard to make it a fun and rewarding event for everyone.

A good last race to finish off the year.

The after race glow. Photo courtesy of Jessica Fewless.

Monday, December 15, 2008

PCTR Muir Beach 50k

The start of PCTR's Muir Beach 50k 2008.

A volunteer report.

Blogger friend Dave Elliot asks if I'm still around or have gone to winter hibernation. Oh I'm still here just been crazy busy. I just concluded this evening a project that has kept me busy the last three weeks. Having work is good and this one had me working 12-16 hour days. It was a good project and I'm proud of it.

Anyway this past weekend was PCTR's Muir Beach 50k (31 miles) and like most of their 50k events they had options for runners who did not want to cover the full 50k. They offered an 11k, 17k and a 33k race. I've been lagging a bit on the volunteering so it was good to get out and help. Always a fun thing to do, I think so anyway.

Flora came by my place around 6:30AM and after a quick coffee stop we were at the start by 7:15. Already there were two runners ready to check in, anxious buggers. Forecast called for rain but it was nice out and clear skies. It was quite cool no doubt and there was a cold wind blowing in from the Pacific. Soon the start was buzzing with activity; lines for the registration / check in tables and lines for the porta-potties or as they say up in the Pacific Northwest, my all time favorite term for porta-potties, "honey buckets".

Familiar faces came strolling in and it was good to catch up. Some folks like Chuck Wilson, I've seen for the third consecutive weekend. Chuck was the aid station captain for Cardiac Hill for the Quad Dipsea, he ran the Northface 50-miler for his 60th birthday and ran the 50k on Saturday. Fred Ecks came dressed as Santa Claus and he ran in that suit the whole 50k. Good thing the temperatures stayed cool.

The weather was great considering the forecast which called for rain. It only rained once, for about 10 minutes then it was over. The wind stayed cold however and some of the runners mentioned that up on the ridges it got quite cold. The trails on this part of the Marin Headlands are exposed and open, great views but no protection against the wind or driving rain. The rain also had us scrambling to cover the computer equipment, one timing machines bit the dust though, hopefully it starts working again when it dries out. The main timer kept going though.

I was all over the race which was great; set up, registration table, finish line timing, 50k aid station, grocery run and clean up. The majority of my time was spent taking down numbers as runners came in to the finish. Now I'm one of those trail runners who fold down their number as small as possible before pinning it on. I will still do that but from now on I will help the number takers by yelling out my number as I come through aid stations and finish lines. I was going cross eyed looking at moving numbers and those are the ones who had it displayed in the front. Many folks had them behind or under clothing. Had to chase a few even. One runner had his number folded into a tiny package tucked away in a zippered compartment on his waist pack, nice.

Most of the runners I spoke to / saw looked like they had a great time. The 50k runners looked a bit worn with some looking a little wasted but they seemed to enjoy the course too.

We were there all day. Flora swept part of the course at the end of the day and she came in after the sun had gone down - we left shortly after that. She drove back to Berkeley and I caught the train back to San Francisco.

A beautiful well spent day. After coming back to San Francisco I had dinner with my cousin Margie and her husband Adam. I met them in downtown where they were doing their Christmas shopping. We had dinner. I felt dirty, dusty and salty but thankful I didn't spend most of my day shopping and fighting crowds.

Congratulations to all the runners.

A Class Act
A huge big shout out to Will Gotthardt. Will was racing the 50k and was running with the lead pack as he usually does when he noticed that there was some vandalism on the course. Some kids had taken down some of the ribbons and placed them on other trails. This could have waylaid the other 50k runners as well as the 33k runners who were on the same loop had Will not stopped and REMARKED the course. The desire to chase and keep up with the lead pack lost to the sense of duty he felt towards his fellow runners. I'll drink a beer to that, I'm drinking one right now actually. Well done Will!

Fred Ecks as Santa, Beat Jegerlehner and Jochen Horn who is picking up his number.

Scott Dunlap in his snazzy new Inov8 race gear.

Ryan Commons, at the start, pointing to 33k course record holder Andrew Sullivan.

Will Gotthardt warming up at the start.

Go Santa Go!

Adventure racer Brian Schmitz at the conclusion of his 33k race. Brian is also one of the newest members of Marin County Search and Rescue.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

50-Mile Victory Lap

The medal is big enough to be a buckle. Big productions = big, extravagant schwag and awards.

So I made it through the race and finished just about where I thought I would. I looked at the course, the elevation charts, my times at the 50-milers this year - 8:02 at Quicksilver, 7:55 at Firetrails, took into account the wear and tear from Quad and I came up with 9-9.5 hours. I finished 9:18. I was gunning for under 9 but the Diaz Ridge climb late in the race put an end to that. Diaz Ridge...for it to come at that point in the race at my fatigue level was like a punch and kick in the face and not trying to sound all macho about it but I loved every minute. There were many tough climbs during the day, the biggest was twice as large, but this one I will remember the most. Diaz Ridge you put a happy tear in my eye and a smile on my face knowing that those who came before me went through the same and so will the others behind me. Misery loves company and survived misery in endurance is synonymous with joy:) If it was truly that bad no one would go back.

Which leads me to the other major goal that I had for the day besides finishing strong and fast - enjoying every mile of the race. To be honest that didn't happen, miles 22-26 saw me at my lowest point in the race but I enjoyed the other 46 miles, especially the second half and the last 10 miles where I ran like a runner fresh out of Spring training. I don't know where those reserves come from. If you know tell me. I'd like a key to the source. Anyway this was going to be the event run to celebrate all the others, the last final hurrah with trail shoes on for 08. It was that, for the most part.

The big names did come as expected. Click here for preliminary results. One of them got lost which was heart breaking. He was on the side of the trail asking us for directions. Then he got lost again.... asking for more directions, then yelling out of frustration. How he still finished in the top 10 after all of that is a testament to his perseverance and intestinal fortitude, this all happened around mile 24. For those of you who have gotten lost in a race, you know how mentally deflating that is. It's enough to make you want to quit, some do.

Absolutely no problems today. Muscles sore but not painful. I can run if I want to and I think that just points to the level of fatigue I had heading into this race from the Quad Dipsea. Just the reality from stacking long races. The limiting factor wasn't the sore legs or body it was the tired engine. Nothing a few weeks of low mileage, rest, and no racing won't cure. Oh and no blisters. Some of you are probably tired of hearing this. No blisters, thank you Drymax.

Work is crazy but as soon as I collect more pictures from friends I'll put up a more detailed report. Sort of the drill these days.

The Northface Endurace Challenge 50-Mile Race
10,700+ Total Elevation Gain / 10,700- Total Loss
35th out of 137 finishers, 172 starters

I don't want to stop, a big part of me can't believe that was the last race. I want to keep starting and crossing that finish line. Hard to stop. Experience will rule the day however, no doubt my body is tired and the potential for injury and burnout high. Better to finish up than down and have all this momentum going into the work I need to do during my off-season.

Dear God, thank you. Thank you for the anxious butterfly filled starts, the battles, the lowest lows, the highest highs, new friendships, existing ones strengthened, the privilege of supporting fellow athletes and personal victories of 2008.

Jess: I love the post race euphoria, it's great. Well assuming you finish, otherwise it's just miserable.
Me: Jess, this year, I don't know what that feels like. Woooohooooo!!!

With Jimmy Hopper of Northface. The Endurance series is his baby. I can't speak for the other races but I loved our 50-mile race course. I met Jimmy a few years back when he worked for a different outdoor company during a photoshoot. Super nice guy.

Golden Gate Tri-Club people. Jenny Nauss and Samantha Pinney finishing their first 50k, graduation day for them after training with the Northface trail running program. Both were Ironman distance triathletes before entering the program and were no strangers to long training days. Jessica, between them, was the aid station captain for Muir Beach, mile 13 on the 50-mile race.

Jenny and the celebratory Champagne. Jess brought Samantha Champagne for her first ultra finish and we all partook of the unexpected Treat.

Jenny and Sam with event host, Dean Karnazes. Look at em legs. I'm not above admiring another man's legs:)

More GGTC club members, the new kids on the block; Veronica, Heather (Merchandise Director) and Daniel (09 Run Director) who ran the 50k race in 5:41

Dean Karnazes with 2nd place Uli Steidl, Winner Matt Carpenter and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki who just edged Kyle Skaggs for 3rd, don't know the mc. Last year it was Uli who won and Matt taking 2nd, tie-braker next year?! The winning time is 6:41, keep in mind this race is on fire road and single track with 10,700 foot of total elevation gain and the same for loss. The uphills will try to take your heart out and the downhills will try to break down your legs.

Friday, December 05, 2008

One More Time

A smartly designed bib number, has the meal, raffle and parking pass ticket already built into it.

I'm excited! The legs feel good and I think I can pull off one more good race before closing out the year. I ran on Tuesday just to clear the cobwebs, on Wednesday I did some speedwork on the treadmill and felt better than when I did before the Quad Dipsea and yesterday's run felt amazing as well. I have the desire, my speed is back the only thing missing is a lot of sleep. Work has been whooping me but blog friend Dave Elliot said "I don't wanna hear, you ain't got kids". Fair enough. Regardless what happens Saturday I just want to finish and close off what has clearly been the best year of running for me. Even the one triathlon that I did was a PR performance.

I'm not sure exactly what happened but I'll have some time during the holidays to reflect and dissect the past year. I'll think about what worked and what to improve for next year. One thing for sure is that Northern California is a great place to be an ultra-marathoner. I don't know of any other region that has as many races as we do - a big part of that is Pacific Coast Trail Runs. There are five 100-milers in the state and 4 of them is an easy drive from San Francisco. I wouldn't have had the year I had without the resources and options readily available to me. Back in Spring I said to myself "if the year ended now I'll be happy". I said the same for Summer and now I actually have the opportunity to close out the year as strong as I started it. My cup overflows.

The thought of crossing that start line this Saturday is giving me butterflies. Just one more time baby, just one more time!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Quad Dipsea 08

Quad Dipsea 004-2.jpg
I like this picture. So unlike me to look so serious but it does make me look less like a goof ball. Maybe I start practicing my "blue steel" look for the races, my "magnum" poses - for you Zoolander fans. At the start with my cousin Bing, that's her on the right hand side of the picture.

Quad Dipsea
Disneyland Ultra-Marathon Style
28.4 Miles
9200+ Total Elevation Gain / 9200- Loss

Broke previous best by 35 mins with a 4:59:05
Official results have it as 4:58.05, but let's go with the first one
27th out of 221 finishers, 237 starters.

Official Results
Event Website

Scott Dunlap's 06 Report
(Great reading that includes descriptions and photos of the course)

A Confession
Before anything else... I blew the pre-race preparation for this race. I was debating whether to come clean on this fact but I figured if I'm going to share with you my triumphs then I should also share my "WTF were you thinking moments". I blew it on Thanksgiving and I don't mean with the Turkey and mashed potatoes - that would have been better. There were several reasons for it including some news that threw me for a bit of a spin but I still should have known better. I plain blew it.

The Race
Because of my genius move I was a bit timid at the start and not my usual confident self but very, very excited. There were so many fast runners in attendance and these were just the people I was aware of. We even had some out of town superstars come to race and spectate. Despite everything I was still able to pull another rabbit out of the magic hat. It was painful but I was determined to work hard to make up for my mistakes.

Unlike previous years where I've shown up for this event exhausted and over weight, I came into this years race well trained and in my summer weight. I knew if I managed a decent race I would break my personal best of 5:34 but what I really wanted was to break 5 hours. Judging from my performances for the past year I felt that I had it in me, a sentiment echoed by friends Will Gotthardt, Brian Wyatt and Sean Lang. I felt that I could do it, my friends thought I could do it. So I was going for it. The whole time I felt solid out there, the most comfortable and most focused I've felt in the six times I've run the event. I could tell I was missing a gear though. I would have been a bit faster and felt less pain had I not blown the pre-race preparations. I just knew deep down but the knowing also made me work harder. It was sweet torture and frankly I enjoyed myself. A few times I just lost it in laughter, stress releasing, soul soothing laughter - "Gaston you are F*#$@ng Dumbass, you better pull this off!"

My mantra for the day that I kept repeating to myself was "Give Me a Chance". I had the splits figured out in my head, time goals for each of the four crossings and I focused on them one at a time."Make the time goal and give me a chance for a sub-5", I kept repeating to myself. On the last and final leg I had time goals for specific sections of the course, "Get me to Cardiac Hill in x time and we have a chance, get me to the Muir Beach parking lot in x time and we may still be able to do it. Run faster, give me a chance to make this happen".

Halfway through, yeehaa still on pace for a sub-5 at 2:26.

112 mins: 1st leg - Mill Valley to Stinson Beach
114 mins: 2nd - Stinson Beach to Mill Valley
116 mins: 3rd - Mill Valley to Stinson Beach
117 mins: 4th - The final crossing and home

That last one is always hard. Funny I felt like I was going faster on the second half. I was merely working harder but slowing down. Thankfully not too much.

A Holiday Party - Ultra Style
When I finished the legs were fine, body was fine. It was the engine that was a bit blown:) Nothing that 3 hours of food, drink and camaraderie wasn't able to fix. The finish at Quad is quite intimate, laid back social event. You've got dogs, kids, spectators, volunteers besides the runners. Most people are friendly and I took the time to not only talk to the people I already knew but to meet other runners as well. Many runners were generous with their cheer and support out on the course and I made it a point to meet some of them. Andy B. it was good to meet you, thanks for all the help. Food and beer is provided and people take the time to chill and talk. For a lot of people this is the last race on their schedule for the year. It was my closer for the last 5 years until I signed up for the Northface 50 this year.

Drymax rules! Absolutely no blisters. No hotspots, no blisters. I won't wear anything else. I'm still digging the orange Vasque VST's and now I'm experimenting with compression socks from VitalSox for recovery. For the latter I'll let you know what I find out. Bob and Tony likes them so what the hey. And the tri-club shirt, finally I got a club shirt to race in. My last act as the volunteer race director for our triathlon club last year was to win approval and design our new dri-fit running shirts. We got short sleeves and long sleeves for both men and women. The women's gear came out great, the men not so much. By the time everything got reordered and reprinted it was already November. I got my shirt two days before Thanksgiving. Ironically I got the shirt after I've decided to shelve triathlon for awhile.

What's Left
The Northface 50-miler on Saturday. I have a bet with my good friend Samantha that I will finish the 50-miler before she gets in on the 50k. Haha that was an ill advised bet. I only did it to fire her up. Loser, among other things, has to play wing man for one evening. God help her when she wins because my social skills are only useful in athletic events, not bars:)

Another successful Quad Dipsea Race for RD John Medinger and assistant RD's Errol Jones and Lisa Henson.

Quad Dipsea 08 Photos

Staying loose before the start. Photo courtesy of Bing.

The line up. A very fast front field.

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Oh sweet success. I had just put my arms down after throwing them up upon seeing the clock. I don't really run with my arms flailing around like that.

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With David Goggins post race. I got this picture for blog friend Dave Elliot. I told him all about you Dave and he said tell your friend "Semper Fi".

With Ashland, Oregon runner Jenn Shelton. We met at Tahoe Rim Trail this past summer when we ran a few miles together during the day at the halfway point. I've only spoken to her twice but she seems nice and a bit of a goofball. I mean that in a good way. When she's on she's very fast, like in last year's Rocky Raccoon 100-miler in Texas she clocked a 14:57, coming in 3rd overall and first woman. That's fast!

Jess and I grinning like geeks in the background while Gundy and Mark Tanaka talk. I'm sporting this year's race shirt.

An animated conversation about our day with pal and fellow ultra-marathoner Brian Wyatt.

Mark Tanaka, Brian Wyatt and Paul Sweeney, post race.

This guy is not all impressed with all the fast talent around him or the tough course. Photo courtesy of Bing.

After the race I took my cousin for a drive around the area. We drove up to the top of Mt. Tam so I could show her the hills and trails between Mill Valley and Stinson Beach. On the way home we passed by Stinson and took this shot at the end of the day.

For the Flickr photoset click here.