Friday, August 28, 2009

Running For the Wells 11k

Jonathan Gunderson has been raising money for the building of wells in Uganda. Last year he raised $12,000 for 4 wells and this year he is aiming higher - $18,000 for 6 wells that affects approximately 7,500 people.

On our last run together, a couple of weeks before the Headlands Hundred, he told me about his plan to put on an 11k to help his fundraising efforts. He had been planning it for awhile. He had his route down and had talked to the park service about permits and such. He even got one his sponsors, Injinji Socks, to donate socks to the event.

Anyone in the area who would like to join, you can click here.

Basically it's a bib-less run in the Marin Headlands, one aid station which is the start and finish. It is $35 with all proceeds benefitting the Uganda Well-Building Program for the World Harvest Mission. There is a pancake breakfast afterwards, $5 for non-runners and all finishers get a pair of Injinji socks.

I'm planning to be there. In the two years I've known Jon I've yet to chip in on his fundraising efforts donating my money elsewhere, lately to Perfect time for me to support him in his work; I get a run in, some pancakes afterwards and donate to his cause. His run should be a good warmup for a long run and his pancakes may be good fuel on the go. I've never tried fueling on pancakes before but I bet they're good with peanut butter and rolled to make them nice and compact.

Have a great weekend everyone. I'm still in recovery from the hundred three weeks ago, just waiting for the day when I get my speed and endurance back. It's only been short runs so far, nothing past 13 miles. Patience grasshopper, patience.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Headlands Hundred Race Report

01. Summary and Pictures
02. Results
03. Course Flyover
04. Nathan Yanko's Race Report
05. Shan Rigg's Race Report

That was one great race! Liked the new course, couldn't be happier with my performance and was treated like a rockstar by friends - the ones who came down to crew, pace and cheer but also the ones running, volunteering, crewing and pacing for other runners. Every time I think about it, which has been a lot this past week, I just want to lace up my shoes and go for another long run.

Larissa Polischuk, Nathan Yanko and Brett Rivers of the Endurables at the start. Larissa was Nathan's crew chief and Brett was one of his pacers.

It was a 7AM start and it was pleasant, not too cold although many wore long sleeves and light jackets. It was later than I wanted, I like dark starts, but at least there was enough light for a few pictures. Unlike the other 100-milers you show up for Headlands Hundred just like you would for PCTR's other races, mostly 50ks. There is no big meeting the day before, no medical check, no drawn out pre-race talk and speeches. You show up race morning, pick up your number and schwag and you're off. It's the same start as the Pirates Cove 50k, not one of my favorites because it's a good uphill for the first mile but it warmed us up quickly.

Minutes before the start.

Started out nice and easy, even easier than I did at San Diego, running at about 78-80%. People were in a really great mood, more than the usual. On a down and back portion of the loop, there was a lot of greeting and cheering. The views were spectacular and the temperatures nice and cool. Larissa Polischuk of the Endurables joined me for a few miles but eventually I had to let her go because she was moving too fast. She was sneaking in a training run before serving as Nathan Yanko's crew chief. You reverse direction after each completion of a loop and the first runners I saw heading my way were the 50-milers. It should be the 50-milers, totally expected that, what I didn't expect was the speed - they were haulin on that course. The first 50-mile race finished the first loop at 3:23:04, in contrast the first 100-mile racer finished his first loop in 4:02:14. I finished the first 25-miles 19th with a 4:38:10, 22 minutes faster than I estimated and feeling very good.

Completing the first loop.

It got warm on the second loop despite the lingering fog and some cloud cover. I hadn't done any heat training since San Diego and the heat affected me. My heart rate would spike up on moderate efforts. I felt dumb about it and would sheepishly struggle up the hills - at least it was nice and cool at the top. I just didn't expect Headlands to be warm. I did the best I could and plugged along. In the lead heading out for his third loop was Joe Palubeski who was paced by Beverly Anderson-Abbs, second place was Nathan Yanko who was still running solo at this point and a not so happy Brian Krogmann who was paced by Devon Crosby-Helms bringing up third. Brian was leading the race until he got lost. It was a bad mistake, he came down a big hill only to have to go back up to get back into the race. He was off course for about 4+ miles, plus 800 feet or so of climbing. For those of you familiar with the area, he came down the Miwok fire road instead of continuing to Old Springs, all the way down to Bunker Hill Road before going back up Miwok again. At the finish he was in better spirits about it saying 105 is the new 100. What do you say to something like that? It sucks, thankfully that was Devon's job:) The second loop took me 5:11:21 and I moved into 13th. My crew chief, Jessica, was there and I was more than happy to switch off the gels which were already starting to make me want to gag. She had turkey and cheese sandwiches, Gatorade and Starbucks Fraps. JP Sulpizio, my pacer for miles 50-75, and his girlfriend Janet was also there waiting for me. Janet is also a good friend and it was great seeing her.

Pacer J.P.
JP Sulpizio, photo courtesy of Tina Harrison.

J.P. and I had a great time. He was genuinely happy to be out running and helping me out with my race. I was under my estimated splits and everything was going well. I was starting to feel tired though. I knew it was just a temporary slump and just did my best to push through. It was too early to be so tired. On the way out we chatted with another runner who was running solo and attempting his first 100-mile race. We had traded positions a few times during the day and on the way out for our third loop I finally introduced myself. His name was Brendan Holmes, from Oregon, and he rocked his first with a 6th place finish. Brendan took off early and after he left it was pretty much just us. Most of the 50-milers were finishing up their run and the 100-milers were spread out all over the course. Having the company was great. The last time I used a pacer was on my third 100-miler, Western States in 06. The conversation, the extra push, got me going faster than I would have had I been by myself. Then there were all my friends cheering! A huge boost! Coming up on Tennessee Valley, one of the major aid stations, I had sent JP ahead to get my lights. When I rounded the corner to head into the station there was about 9-10 people there, cheering, waving signs, yelling, taking pictures. My other crew person, Carrie, had crab shaped signs that said "Don't be Crabby, Go Rick!". Jess had told her that I was "too focused" at San Diego, neither smiling or making small talk. I was blown away. I wanted to stay, talk and hangout with everyone but we had to go.

It got dark with about 7 more miles to go on the loop and it made it easy to spot the other runners because of their lights. At the top of a climb it was easy to spot Brendan who was steadily pulling away and fellow San Franciscan Jon Burg with his pacer Steve Ansell following from behind. This time it was harder to tell who was who heading back out for their final loop. You can't see people's faces when headlamps are on. I purposely turned mine off and just used my handheld. Nathan Yanko was first, he and his pacer Brett Rivers called out from the bottom of the hill as they were heading back out. They were like happy school kids, laughing as they went. He would eventually finish first, a champion for his first 100-mile race. As we were heading in we counted the runners leaving Rodeo Beach. We came up with 9, I was in 10th. Finally crept my way into the top 10. As we made the final turn another group of friends were there screaming and hollering. More folks from the triathlon club. These guys had been waiting close to 4 hours, yeah I was pretty touched to say the least. Again I wanted to stop and talk but Jessica was all business. She waved me into a corner, pumped me full of fuel, asked me if I needed anything else then sent me on my way. It was a Nascar style stop, boom, boom, done. Dropped off J.P. picked up Samantha and we were on our way wheels screeching. Loop 3 took 5:47:26. The website mistakenly lists me at 8th, Brian Krogmann (2nd overall) and Joe Palubeski (3rd overall) are not listed on the 75-mile splits.

Tennessee Valley Gang
Friends at Tennessee Valley, photo courtesy of Tina Harrison.

More GGTC'ers at Headlands Hundred
More friends at Rodeo Beach, photo courtesy of Lara Rafton.

The good feeling didn't last very long however, fatigue/exhaustion had settled in and it was a grind just to keep running. We made the most of it and I moved at the best speed I could muster. Sam had never run at night and was excited and a little bit nervous. The fog hung low in the valleys which gave us spectacular views up on the hills. On the way out we were treated to great views of San Francisco's city lights. This time it was cooler in the valleys and warmer on the top of the hills. It wasn't very windy and there was a full moon, great conditions for a night run. As it was with JP, Sam and I had great conversations and all the chatting helped keep my mind off the remaining distance and the mounting discomfort in my body. Already certain parts were starting to twitch and send danger signals; right calf/achilles was feeling crampy, the quad muscles were starting to fry and a muscle just above and to the right of the left knee had started to get really sore - same muscle that seized up at TRT 100 last year and caused me to walk it in from mile 78 (a part of myself, deep down, still cringes at the memory of that). Sam told me that earlier in the day, during canoe practice, she over-turned her one person canoe twice in the face of a strong current and white caps. She said she was so shaken up that she cried afterwards, on the drive home and in the shower. The best part of this story, my favorite part, is that she took a nap, got up and laced up her trail shoes to do something she has never done before - run at night and to pace a 100-mile runner. I was sorry she had such a terrible day but inside I was laughing at Sam's resilience. Should have inspired me to run harder and faster but I continued to drag.

At the Rodeo Valley aid station we came upon Mark Tanaka and his pacer Jon Gunderson. Mark looked like he should be pulled from the race. Suffering from bad nausea, lack of calories and electrolytes, he was in a chair covered with a blanket and mumbling. You hate to see that happen. We chatted briefly and left. I knew Jon Burg and Ray Sanchez were not far behind and still looking strong. I saw them coming into Rodeo Beach as we were leaving. Mark was at least in good hands with Jon, aid station captain Ted Knudsen and other volunteers. As we left the aid station I told Sam we had to hustle to build distance against Mark, never under estimate what a little rest can do to a strong and fast runner. That motivation lasted oh about 10 minutes, it stopped at the foot of the next climb. As much as Sam tried to coax more speed out of me going up Bobcat trail I moved sluggishly, didn't affect my mouth any though as I spouted off what I thought were very good reasons why we shouldn't run uphill. When we finally hit the top of the climb however that was when things would abruptly change for the better.

The top of Bobcat curves to the left which allows someone at the top to look down and spot people chasing from behind. I was oblivious, it was Sam who spotted them first - not one set of lights but three halfway up the hill. It took me almost 30 minutes to shuffle up the hill and the slow pace allowed these runners to catch up. My legs had already spun to a higher turnover before my head was turned back to the front. Like waking up from a dream, fatigue, pain, stiffness all receded into the background as the shot of adrenaline had me bolting forward. Sam dubbed it my "fear gear", the fear of being passed. I joked that next time, if there is one, she could get me to move faster sooner by having volunteers chase us in the dark with flashlights. As we neared the bottom of the next downhill I sent Sam forward to ask Jess for a long sleeve shirt and a dose of Tylenol to help keep the soreness at bay. Jess had prepared the items but in my rush I didn't grab any of them. Stayed long enough to drink a frap, my bottle refilled and I was off. It was a good thing because I didn't need it, I was feeling no pain and running warm from the increased speed. We made short work of the next uphill which was harder and more challenging than Bobcat. We ate that hill up then hustled the long descent to Muir Beach. The final descent to and out of Muir Beach is about a 1.5 mile down and back section and we encountered no one on the way back up. Even better looking up at Coyote Ridge where pursuing runners would be coming down from we saw no lights. Whoever the next runner was they were at least 2-miles away. As we entered the coastal trail to Pirates Cove my body disengaged out of fear gear and the exhaustion, stiffness and discomfort returned to the front. It was like I suddenly hit a steep hill, I slowed down dramatically. I told Sam what was going on and she suggested that we start using time as a motivator. Calculating it in my head I found I had a real chance of breaking 22 hours and I went for it. Things came back to life once more and I mustered my best possible speed back to Tennessee Valley.

We caught Jess off guard since she had expected us to come in much later but fortunately she had already prepared everything in the back of the car. She groggily padded around in her socks as I told her that I was 5 mins off 22 hours but was going to do my best to make up the time. I didn't get a chance to tell her however that I needed to cover the 4.2 mile distance from Tennessee Valley to the finish at a time faster than I've ever done before. Hahaha, I'm having a hard time typing right now because I'm LAUGHING. What is ridiculous to me now made absolute sense at the time - sure I could run my fastest split for that distance at the end of a 100-mile race, what's crazy about that?. I didn't have time to say anything to Sam, I just ran hard and she figured it out as we went. We hit the last two hills hard and I felt every fiber of my being clawing it's way forward. I was exhausted but driven. The last hill was Wolf Ridge, a quick mean little crapper when all you want is to be on the last descent to the finish line. I clawed my way up that as well, breathing heavily but roaring on the inside like an animal and loving every minute of it. At the top of the final descent, a peace about my race came over me. Whether I went under 22 hours or missed it by seconds or minutes it no longer mattered. I felt like I did my best, had no regrets and would happily take any time on the clock. The events of the last 24 hours flashed before me and there wasn't anything I would change. I pushed even harder feeling no weight on my shoulders and crossed the line at 22:06:30, happy, elated...satisfied. Quite a different scenario two months earlier at San Diego 100. When I missed going under 20 hours at San Diego I was sorely disappointed because I had it in me to make it happen. I bungled it, choked on the last 7 miles. Seven miles is an eternity at the end of a long race but 2 months later I'm still bemoaning that blown opportunity. Regret is an eternity and a day:) The last loop took 6:30:25.

With my crew, Carrie and Jessica, photo courtesy of Samantha Pinney.

Sam and I
With Sam at the finish, photo courtesy of Sam.

I like the new course. Budget cuts to the park system forced PCTR to change the course and frankly even though it boasts more elevation gain, 20,020 ft. vs 19,620 ft., I think it's easier. The washing machine style loops (you reverse course with each loop completion) was great. I got a lot of support from my fellow runners, especially the first two loops when the 50-milers was running with us and I got to see exactly who was ahead and who was behind chasing. Second, they got rid of what I thought was the toughest feature of the old course, the Pirates Cove to Coyote Ridge climb. You started at the bottom of a set of stairs that goes up steeply and turns into a gnarly, rocky, rutted single track which then connects to a fire road that goes on to climb or another 1.25 miles before you finally start going downhill again. It got old after the second time but you did it three times. On the new course you do go up Pirates Cove, twice, but you come back down as soon as you get to the top of the single track. No more extended march up to Coyote Ridge. At least for myself it felt easier. The hills kept coming but no one climb dominated the course.

Well this was my 9th 100-mile finish and my 9th 100. It's also my first repeat of a 100-mile course. I tried to hit a different race each time but I couldn't resist.

Recovery is going very well. After 3 days of doing nothing remotely athletic I started doing some walking and jogging. By Friday I was able to put together a slow 4-mile continuous recovery run and by Saturday I was able to join friends from the triathlon club for a 10-mile run and we ran on part of the course. I was prepared to turn back early but my body did just fine. Then in the evening I caught the BART train with Nathan and Brett to join some runners in the East Bay for some post Headlands Hundred/HURT 100 Entry List celebration. HURT 100 is a very tough 100-mile race in Honolulu, Hawaii put on by the Hawaiian Ultra Running Team in January. They just released the entry list and many in the group that evening got in.

For myself, this was my last 100-miler of the year. Originally I had two more planned in the Fall but work has been very slow and I can't justify the cost. I've got a couple of 50-milers and the Quad Dipsea left, maybe I'll throw in a 50k or two. I've got pacing duties at Angeles Crest 100 and I'm also planning on volunteering for a few events. Should be a busy Fall.

On the Headlands Hundred race course this past Saturday with friends from the triathlon club.

Heading back to Rodeo Beach, this was the return route on loops 1 and 3 of the race.

The champion, Nathan Yanko, and co-race director, Sarah Spelt, celebrating Saturday night. Don't worry those drinks are harmless, someone forgot to put alcohol in them. Well maybe not so harmless, it was loaded with sugar.

One of many groups shots before the dance floor got crowded.

Brian Wyatt and Suzanne Carrier, partying like there's no training run the next day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Quick Report on the Headlands Hundred

I'm particularly exhausted after this race, must have really emptied myself - so the report will take a few days. I do have some photos though. I didn't run with a camera so most of these are from friends or shots I took at the start. Speaking of friends, before I say anything else, I want to shout a BIG THANK YOU! to everyone who made this race a huge success and I mean everyone; my crew was on top of it, my pacers were great, lots of friends came down to cheer, fellow runners, their crew and pacers were also so darned nice and encouraging, the volunteers were phenomenal and RD's Sarah and Wendell did an amazing job with the new course. Despite permit issues, which made the course changes necessary, they put on another great Headlands Hundred which is on it's third year and getting more competitive each passing year.

Without all of this hard work and sacrifice, there would have been no 9th place finish for me with a time of 22:06:30. 9th place for my 9th 100, kind of nice how that worked out. To be honest I was surprised to have broken into the top 10 at all. The washing machine loop format, where you reverse direction after each loop, allowed me to see the guys up front. Going out for their third loop each and everyone looked strong, eyes clear and animated and with words of greeting and encouragement as they blew on by.

This was the closet I've gotten to a perfect race. I came away feeling completely satisfied and happy with how the day went. Scary! That is so unlike me.

Headlands Hundred
20,020 ft. of total elevation gain / Same for loss
22:06:30 for 9th Overall
Course PR by 2:31:20

As great as my race was however check this out: Eldrith Gosney, 68 years old with a time of 29:23:04. I got to greet her at the start and she was all smiles as she was throughout the race despite a back that she hurt the week before. Phenomenal, it's a tough and hilly course.

John and Paulette while we were out the day before the race, scouting parts of the course. Paulette was running and her boyfriend John was crewing. They drove all the way from Arizona. The start is just to the left of the lagoon in the background. The hill right behind them was part of the course.

The Endurables' Larissa Polichuk, Nathan Yanko and Brett Rivers. Nathan would win the 100-mile race paced the last 25 miles by Brett. Larissa and I ended up running a few miles together on the first loop when she was out getting some training in. Had to let her go eventually, she was moving too fast.

Old friends and competitors, Brian Krogmann and Evan Hone, just behind Brian is Nathan Yanko and behind Nathan is Ray Sanchez who just finished Badwater. Ray was also at San Diego, my previous 100-mile race. Ray's tough, a former boxer from what I heard, you should see him when he's really healthy.

Your's truly at the start. The shorts are brand new, delivered that morning by Don and Gillian of Zombie Runner who were also running the 100-mile race.

Tennessee Valley Gang
Crew and friends at Tennessee Valley. They were awesome and took me by surprise. The crab signs were Carrie's idea, they say "Go Rick, don't be Crabby'. Nice huh. It's not because I'm from San Francisco and you can get great crab in Pier 39. Photo courtesy of Tina Harrison.

Pacer J.P.
J.P. Sulpizio, my pacer from 50-75 miles. He had a blast out there, I'm glad. J.P. is a fast, strong runner and he grew up in the area, knows the trails like the back of his hand.

Super Jess
Crewchief Jessica Fewless. Photo courtesy of Tina Harrison.

Carrie working that Big Hand
Carrie Sisk, my other crew person, flashing #1. Carrie used to be a cheerleader, college I think, you still got it lady! Note the big blue whistle. The spots are caused by moisture in the air. They are present on most of the night photographs. Photo courtesy of Tina Harrison.

More GGTC'ers at Headlands Hundred
More folks from our triathlon club came down, surprised me at the start/finish when I finished up my 75th mile; Don, Lara, Preston, Daniel and Lisa. With the exception of Don, these guys were also at Western States 100 volunteering and spectating. Photo courtesy of Lara Rafton.

Sam and I
With my 75-100-miles pacer, Samantha Pinney. Sam had never been on a night run, we had a blast. I tried to drop her on the last 4-miles, didn't happen. Hahaha was feeling good enough to run hard and be mischievous. Photo courtesy of Samantha Pinney.

Photo courtesy of Samantha Pinney. With my lovely crew Carrie and Jessice. They were pooped and left shortly after this with Sam. I on the other hand.....

Stayed for another 3 hours, talking, cheering, eating and goofing around with this crazy guy. This was Brian Krogmann's idea - a shot of our Drymax socks for Bob at Drymax. The socks are the best but I didn't realize we were making spectacles of ourselves with the breakfast volunteers. Look at that post 100-mile dexterity, actually Brian was holding me up.

For more pictures, click here.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Almost Time for Headlands Hundred

Well I'm as ready as I'm going to be. I think I gained a pound this week from nervous eating though. It'll be alright, will burn off in the first quarter of the race. My friend Paulette and her boyfriend John, who is crewing for her, are staying with me for the weekend. This morning we picked up Brian Krogmann to do a quick preview of the course. Brian was putting in miles on his feet just wondering around from coffee shop to coffee shop exploring the neighborhoods. It's a good thing we got to him sooner than later before he put any more miles and ingested more caffeine. Supposedly he is only running Headlands as a training run for Angeles Crest 100 and will be holding back. Right, right, I think he won't be able to resist and I told him so.

We drove around to the different aid stations and hiked up a large hill to get a good view of the course, a section of it anyway. The weather has been really good this week - less fog, less cold, blustery winds. It was warm out there today. Supposed to be a full moon tomorrow night too. It's shaping up to be a good weekend for a big run. Some of the pacers and crew are more accomplished runners than the ones running it, kind of funny. Well that's how we roll in this sport, we like taking care of each other.

Jessica Fewless who crewed for me at San Diego will also be crewing for me tomorrow along with Carrie Sisk who I paced at Western States. My good friends J.P. Sulpizio (50-75) and Samantha Pinney (75-100) will be my pacers. This is the most people I've had supporting me in a race, how fortunate am I.

Here is the link to the webcast. Nothing extensive, times only for the loops, every 25-miles.

Thank you for all the well wishes.

I'll leave you with a link to a video flyover of the course that Jim Vernon of the Endurables put together. The 50-mile race is two orange loops and the 100 is four.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Flyin High on the Taper

Some folks I know hate the taper. Drives crazy them crazy running less miles. Not me, I freakin love it. I get the rest that I need, I get more time to do other things and while I feel sluggish the first 8-10 days of a taper I always emerge feeling strong and fast. Rest and recovery, so under-rated.

This past weekend couldn't have been better timing to be on taper. Saturday, pals Samantha (pacer for 75-100) and Jessica (crew) were out in the bay for an outrigger canoe race and I came down to hangout and watch them do their thing. Afterwards it was a short walk to the Presidio for the Aloha Festival that was in town for the weekend. No coincidence that the outrigger canoe race is the same weekend. Got some good Hawaiian grub and ended up staying for 6 hours listening to live Hawaiian music and watching some Hula and other polynesian dances. Tahitian dance = more hip shaking action. An amazing time, good day to get reconnected to my Hawaiian roots. Old memories were rolling around in my head the whole time I was there. Funny thing, just by coincidence, my high school reunion was the same weekend - in Honolulu! For those of you who are from Hawaii or spent time growing up there as I did, I'm a Radford Ram. I need another 10 years, I haven't done anything with my life yet. I did manage to get out for a short run after the festivities were over for the day.

Sunday was a short trail run followed by a picnic to celebrate the birthdays of two friends. It was perfect, I needed a short high intensity trail run for my taper. We started in Rodeo Beach which is race central for Headlands Hundred this coming weekend and the route was on part of the course. I am now on the "feeling really great" part of the taper and on the first climb I pulled away and kept on going. It was 8.5 miles, run hard and it felt good. Back in the parking lot I run into a couple of guys who are running the 50-mile race of Headlands, Roy and Norbert. They had been done for some time and enjoying their beers.

I'm looking forward to Headlands Hundred. I feel good about my training and my taper. I do have one worry. I have a small issue/injury that may affect the second half of my race. It's been 2 weeks and it is a whole lot better and I got 5 more days to go. We shall see, only one way to find out. The stupid thing about this whole injury is that it had nothing to do with running! Anyway a topic for another post. It may be an issue but then again it might not. Let's keep our fingers crossed for not.


Three of SFOCC's five canoes, prepped and ready.

Sam and Jess helping with getting the canoe to the water.

Samantha and Jess after their race, all smiles. Sam actually raced in two events, with her and her crew taking first place in the first event.

Watching the men dance at the Aloha Festival. The Halau's (Hula dance schools) are like paddling clubs, they are all over California.

And the women too, this is one of those moments where a big bulky camera with a powerful zoom lens would have been great.

Post trail run birthday picnic. This coming weekend this will be a totally different scene. We are right smack dab in the middle of Headlands Hundred race central. Thinking about it is making me want to lace up right now. I'm rested, energized, ready to go.

For more pictures from this weekend, click here.