Friday, March 27, 2009

Double Dipsea

With Tracy and Dave who just moved here from Colorado

Daniel, our energetic and quick tri-club run director, had scheduled a Double Dipsea run last Sunday. A single Dipsea is 7.1 miles, 2300+ feet of climbing on some very technical trail, made much more so by the recent rains. I thought for sure no one was going to sign up. It's too early and a well known difficult trail. It's a club of triathletes not trail runners. Back in 2007 when I was the run lead I scheduled a double and I had a total of 3 takers. One of them turned around after the first 20 minutes and never again attended any of my trail runs. Well it's not 07 and this time we had over a dozen people on Sunday. Even the threat of rain didn't deter anyone, well okay maybe a couple.

During track earlier in the week I asked Daniel if he was familiar with the trail. He said no but that he would look up directions online. Well I promised him that if I wasn't hobbled from the Pirates Cove 50k I would help out in his event. It's not an easy trail to follow. It's an old trail, development on the Mill Valley side has hidden parts of it and there are several unmarked turns. There is also a section washed out by a slide and the detour is not marked. A satellite shot from above is not a big help because of the homes and trees. It isn't like running in the Marin Headlands.

It didn't rain, we had 14 people and we regrouped at several points along the course. We had a blast. No one got left behind and it seemed like everyone had fun. Of the 14 of us that ran only two was familiar with the trail. There were a couple of people that had been on parts of the trail but had not run the whole thing. We had 12 lucky people who were doing the run for the first time! I was psyched to show it to them. It's like watching a good film that you have already seen with friends who hasn't. You know all the good parts and can't wait to have them experience it for themselves. It was a good day. I was tired but not particularly sore. Most of the time I hung out in the back anyway. There was one moment that made me laugh. I was the last person up Cardiac Hill, the highest point on the trail. When I got there everyone was standing around, looking at the views, taking pictures. They looked like a bunch of Japanese tourists. Good times.

Tina leading the way

Waiting for the rest of the gang

Heather and Dan heading back to Mill Valley from Stinson Beach

Cheyenne and Dave heading back to Mill Valley

More Pics!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pirates Cove 50k

Horsing around at registration with Victoria. Is it a mountain lion? No it's a leopard! Photo courtesy of Victoria.

PCTR's Pirates Cove 50k
5980 ft. of elavation gain / same for loss
5th place with a 4:37:40
Course PR by 19 mins

Big sigh of relief - Whew! It's all coming together. January, February and March is the months when I'm busy rebuilding my base, doing the strength training thing and starting to layer in the speedwork. I never know how well I'm doing until that first race because I'm just constantly tired. All the long runs seem hard, speedwork painful. Well after cramming in a week's worth of recovery, which included a night at Borders reading work related magazines, indulging in a frosted cinnamon roll and drinking a decaf when I should have been running, I can say that every thing went well with the race. The added weekly mileage and the new strength training workouts are doing their thing. My core certainly feels stronger. Not only did I feel fine during the race but I felt super post race. Today I was even able to help out with our club's trail run. Things are good.

It was chilly, drizzly but not a particularly windy day for a run which was perfect - prefer cool temps but hate the wind. Too many folks to see and greet at the start but not enough time. Soon it was time to go and I lined up in the front, something I started last year that I feel much more comfortable doing now. Chatted with some folks when I should have been listening to Wendell and then we were off, up, up and up. It takes several miles for my body to get in it's groove and I'm weakest on the uphills so an uphill start ranks down there with blisters but it was expected. At least you warm up fast on the uphills:) I focused right away on staying within myself, running my race and not getting sucked in to the faster paces of the other runners. I was too excited, too giddy and I had to focus to keep things under control. The 50k and 30k runners start together. I kept getting passed and there were a lot of people up front. I let them go. I would burn trying to hang with those who were faster and stronger, the ones who started too fast I may catch up to later and the 30k runners needn't concern me.

Everything went like clockwork. I pushed a bit too hard on the downhills on the first half but thankfully a mistake I survived. On the last downhill of the race my legs started twitching like they wanted to cramp but I finished before things got worse - lucky. I felt good the entire time. The first 30k was excellent as I'll explain later and the last 20k was strong and steady. No issues on the nutrition and hydration either. I started with a bottle of my own mix but switched to their energy drink when I ran out with no problems. I subsisted on energy gels for the rest of my calories, about 2 per hour. And no blisters, still loving the Drymax socks.

The views were spectacular as usual and what little rain I did experience was inconsequential. Only bad thing was that because of the weather folks didn't really hangout after the race. I remember lounging in the grass last year with friends and other runners after the race.

50k runners run the 30k loop with the 30k runners, then head back out again for the last 20k. I ended up running with a 30k participant who ended up being an incredible help to my race. Kristina ran strong, ran everything except the steepest hills. She'd catch me when I walked/ran the uphills and I would pass her on the steep downhills. On a particularly long downhill I gunned it and kept the pace strong through the ensuing rolling, hilly and flat sections. I thought I had finally seen the last of her until she caught up to me on another long uphill. She says "oh it's you again", I laugh. We start talking and I tuck behind, pacing off of her, best decision I had made all day. Her pace was just a tad faster but not enough to send my heart rate through the roof. The conversation made the miles fly by and we passed a lot of people. When we got to the start/finish I was gratified to see that I had made good time and she would end up first woman for the 30k race. So a big thank you to Kristina.

Will G. introduced me to Caitlin at the start of the race. I remembered her from Scott Dunlap's blog, the first woman at Way Too Cool 50k the weekend before. For those not familiar with the race, Way Too Cool is...hmm how to describe it best?... super competitive and hard to get into. It attracts some very fast runners. Anyway Caitlin wins this race outright with a 4:09:57 and Will G., who also raced Way Too Cool was 2nd with a 4:10:31. I got a chance to talk with them afterwards. Caitlin was gracious and very easy to talk to and Will went out of his way to congratulate me on a good race. He knew my time from last year and was happy for the PR.

Well another successful outing. I've been working hard in the off-season and I ran hard in the race. I'm pleasantly surprised with the outcome. The time I took off from last year's finishing time was more than I expected. I love it when that happens.

Samantha (30k) and Lisa (8k) at the start.

Jo-Lynn and I, happy to be done. If you look closely you can see rain.

Post race meal at the Dipsea Cafe with friends. On my right is Lori from SoCal. We adopted her for the afternoon, a friend of a good friend - Jon Gunderson.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pirates Cove Training Run

So next weekend is my first ultra race of the season, PCTR's Pirates Cove 50k. The trails utilized by the event is within the area where I do most of my training so no surprises there. Besides I ran the race last year. I was out for the usual long run on Sunday but this time I had some company. I volunteered to lead a trail run for our tri-club and I took them on a scenic 6.5 mile loop that is part of the 30k and 50k race. It was especially rewarding since four of the runners had never run this route before. It was my pleasure to show them the way. Everyone enjoyed the views even though there was some grumbling about the Pirates Cove climb. Haha, it's a beauty of a climb, short, sweet and steep. The views of the coast was amazing as usual. Everyone seemed to have had a great time.

I ran the 2 hours to the meeting point in the Headlands and as I was leaving the city I ran headlong into runners participating in the "Emerald Across the Bay 12k". They started in Sausalito, climbed a big hill, ran across the Golden Gate into San Francisco. I saw many familiar faces - spotted Glorybelle. She looked happy. I can't say the same for some of the runners behind her though. If I hadn't been tight on time I would have turned around and ran with her to the finish. She was only about a half mile out at that point. The run back to SF wasn't as exciting and it took much longer. All the rushing to make it to the group run on time caught up with me in the end:)

I'm excited to be racing again. Gonna take it easy this week, short stuff, nothing over an hour. I've also been ice bathing to help the muscles recover faster from the long run. I will show up for track tomorrow though. Intervals are intense but they're short so I'm thinking it should be okay. I believe in tapering for a race but I didn't bother doing much of a taper for this event. It's the first of several races and just part of the training for the longer events. It should be alright.

The time to beat is 4:56, my time from last year. Many friends will be in attendance and I'm looking forward to catching up with them as well.

The gang at Muir Beach. The Pirates Cove race doesn't actually hit the beach, we couldn't resist coming down when we saw it from the top of the hill.

Leaving Muir Beach, heading back to the start of our run at Tennessee Valley.

Daniel on the Pirates Cove climb. There's a little bit more at the top that isn't visible.

Almost at the top, Muir Beach somewhere back there.

Where we just came from, back here next week.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

City Run

The city in the distance, 7:30am Saturday morning.

Descending down a short trail after a big street climb.

Angela and Stephen.

Running past the old red brick homes in the Presidio, I think these were officer's quarters at one point. You can just see one of the suspension towers of the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance and the Marin Headlands behind it.

Running past the Ferry building and the weekend Farmer's Market. Tons of people; fellow runners, tourists and locals enjoying their weekend.

Angela's brother Hugh and the Oakland Bay Bridge. No foot traffic allowed on this bridge nor would you want to run on it anyway. Two decks of high speed traffic, noise and exhaust fumes for a looong way.

This past weekend I joined Stephen and Angela for their usual Saturday morning city tour run. These two like to run around the city on Saturday mornings for 2-3 hours. We met at Stephen's place and after a short discussion between the two of them it was decided that we were going to take on the hills first. It was a nice change from the usual routes and I didn't mind the hard surfaces or the numerous crosswalks and street lights. It was what it was and I enjoyed myself. The constantly changing scenery through the busy streets and neighborhoods kept me entertained and I got to explore some new areas. I've been here for 16 years and there were a couple of places on that run that I've never been. There was one big hill which seemed bigger than it was since it was unfamiliar to me and we also got to run a few short sections of trail. There are trails in San Francisco but they tend to be short and not too hilly, it's all relative of course. An hour and a half into it we stopped by Angela's place and picked up her brother Hugh who was visiting from the East Coast. The last hour was flat and faster but no less scenic.

After the run we had brunch with Stephen's family and his parents who were visiting from Dallas. He's a trained chef and whipped up some delicious vegan dishes - Angela is vegan. It was quite good. I love meat but I could eat that meal anytime and be happy. I was certainly still thinking about it the next day when I was slogging through a 6.5 hour run in the Marin Headlands with nothing but energy gels, salt tabs and energy drink. Nothing hits the spot like a tasteless salt capsule downed with sickly sweet goo and sweet energy drink - yum! I can't wait to start participating in races again. I carry less junk and eat better.

I plan to join these two again soon. They are quick but they were nice enough to slow their pace down a bit so I could keep up.

Just a couple of the dishes Stephen whipped up for lunch. I was surprised at how good the mushrooms and the squash was without any butter.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Back in the Track


San Francisco is faced with a $576 million budget deficit; budget cuts everywhere, pink slips abound. Last week our triathlon club got news that Kezar stadium may be closed as part of the cost cutting measures of the city. They are cutting $9 million dollars from the Park and Recreation budget and Kezar might be one of the places that will be closed. Monday I attended the town hall meeting where they discussed all the proposed budget cuts - eye opening. Kezar has a lot of history, the San Francisco 49ers used to play ball there. It is used by athletic clubs like ours as well as by non-profits like Girls on the Run, schools and individuals. I've never seen this place empty. Well thankfully as it turns out, Kezar won't actually close but they are cutting back on the staff who maintain and manage the place. Our beloved Melvina who doesn't need a bullhorn to yell across from the far end of the track to tell people to get off the grass has been given the pink slip. Tough times.

It felt good to be back nevertheless. They moved track to Wednesdays and as such I can only make every other week but I'm okay with that now. When I got there at 7PM, the asphalt upper ring was filled with groups warming up and we descended on the track at pretty much the same time. We joined other groups who were already there, crowding the track. More the merrier.

My workout? It was alright. Last week was my back down week and I was surprised at how fatigued I felt. I also noticed some weird aches and pains. I put in a lot of rest and I ascertained that I jumped to 75-80 miles per week too quickly. This evening's workout pretty much confirmed it. We did a 2-mile time trial which we will repeat again at the end of the year to gauge improvement. After a warm up, some warm up exercises and a single lap where we did a few strides, we were off. Boy I tell you, it was hard from the first lap to the last. Track is always hard but this was hard in a crappy way. My breathing was ragged and I never settled into a comfortable pace. I was running a pace well within my capabilities but it felt too hard. Best of all no kick in the end. This happened before. The year I instituted 6 hour long bike rides on Saturdays and 6 hour long trail runs on Sundays I would show up to track wheezing like an out of shape smoker as I ran my laps. If I remember correctly I just hung on until my body adapted. The sensible thing to do would be to back down on the weekly mileage and build up more slowly once the body catches up. I've got time anyway.

I was at 12:54 for the 2-mile time trial. Last year at about the same time I was at 13:38 so I guess that's good. At the end of track last year I shaved off about a minute from my 13:38, let's see what I can do this year. It will all depend on how my legs are in October when our track season ends I guess. It will certainly be slow if I run it coming off a long race. This will be my 4th year participating in track and I can't imagine a training regimen without it now. I never thought running around in circles could be so much fun, being part of a coached group is certainly a big part of that. It's fun, it was just less fun tonight and that's okay. So it goes.