Friday, November 27, 2009

Here We Go Again!

Earlier in the year, on one of my weekly road runs, I was stopped at a light next to an idling sports car. It was beautiful and the engine was growling throatily under the hood. One of them sleek Italian super cars, you know the type. A voice inside of me said "that's you man, picture that in your mind". These days the soft hum of a Toyota Camry comes to mind, haha. Oh c'mon it's not too far behind the truth. Camry's may not be the fastest but they get the miles done.

Don't get me wrong I'm feeling great just not at my peak and I'm ok with it. I've been laying down the trail miles in preparation for the Quad Dipsea the Northface 50-miler and the last two weeks of taper has given me back some of my speed and energy. Work has suddenly gotten busy which explains, for the most part, my absence from blogging but the timing couldn't be better since I was on taper. The freelance thing, sometimes really slow, sometimes really busy.

Brian Krogmann and his friend Katelyn are up from LA and he is also running the Quad Dipsea.Thanksgiving morning we did a double of the course in preparation for the race. Believe me I was thinking a Philz mocha and football but he has never been on the trail so when he asked if I could show him the course prior to race day I was more than happy to oblige. I spread the word on Facebook and posted the run on our triathlon club's calendar. We ended up with about 20 people for the run and six did the entire double. I kept the pace easy for the most part and I felt great throughout. I won't be as fast as last year but I should have a decent, solid run. Now of course I'm hoping for some of that race day magic, when the energy of an event, my fellow runners, the cheering spectators, the hard working volunteers, the beauty and gnarliness of the trail, catapults me into a better than expected performance. I'm hoping there might be some of that or it could be like Firetrails this year where I ran a slower race but a solid run nevertheless. We shall see. I will know after the first crossing of the Dipsea where I'm at physically.

I've been excited about the run all week. My favorite race on my favorite holiday weekend. Many, many things to be thankful for and the opportunity to run the Quad Dipsea again is one of them. There was a chance that the event wasn't going to happen because of budget cuts but they found a way to make it happen. Thank you Park Service and big, big mahalos to race director John "Tropical John" Medinger. To all my fellow Quad Dipsea racers, see you tomorrow!

We had a pretty good group going Thanksgiving morning.

Brian Krogmann (Javelina Jundred shirt, Daniel Fabun and Katelyn Benton before the run.

Megan Lewis, Kara Teklinski and Ed Swanson talk shop while Justin Wasielewski and Lisa Ledesma go over course directions in the background.

Just like on race day, running up the road to the first flight of stairs.

Katelyn Benton and Kara Teklinski heading back to Mill Valley.

Katelyn Benton and Kara Teklinski on the final descent back to Mill Valley.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why I Love Mt. Tam

Well that was some October! It was a lot of work but so much fun I wish it wasn't already over. First it was racing the Dick Collin's Firetrails 50-miler followed by volunteering at the Nike Women's Marathon and PCTR's SF One Day 12/24 Hour Run and finally ending with crewing and pacing at Javelina Jundred in Arizona.

This past weekend I was glad to be home but three birthday celebrations, one of them mine, left me struggling through the 46-miles I managed to log in the weekend. A year older but not any wiser! Sunday was the best though because I spent it on Mt. Tam. Two more races left on the schedule and both utilize trails in the area - Quad Dipsea and the Northface 50-mile. I was mostly on the Dipsea Trail but took in some of the other trails in the area as well; Steep Ravine, Alpine and Bootjack. I was mainly just going back and forth between the seaside town of Stinson Beach and Mill Valley. I love it out there, so green and lush and the trails rough.

Truth be told my body is tired and I am looking forward to the extended rest I have planned after the last race. It has been a good year and I feel it. All the volunteering, crewing and pacing was a good break. Not too tired to enjoy a good run though albeit slower. I've been putting in the miles just not as much as I did during the Spring and Summer. I think I still have enough to finish the year gracefully and injury free. Keeping my fingers crossed.

Old Mill Park in Mill Valley, California. Home of the Quad Dipsea.

You warm up quick on the first half mile.

The last set of stairs on the Mill Valley side of the Dipsea Trail features bronze inscriptions set in the steps. Every time I run it I find a name or an inscription I haven't read before. Fitting that I would find John Medinger and the Quad Dipsea in the steps this day since I was training for the race.

On the Dipsea Trail

A sight that never gets old, Stinson Beach in the distance.

On the Steep Ravine trail.

On Bootjack Trail,

Setting sun on the Dipsea Trail.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Javelina Jundred

Blake Wood with his daughter Heather who was running her first 100 mile ultra. Don't they look super?

So imagine this. It is close to midnight, there's a full moon and you are running in the Arizona desert in a 100-mile ultra marathon race. You have fresh legs and a clear mind because you are a pacer. Your runner is still running strong after 60 miles and indeed your first lap with him (miles 60-75)is his second fastest of the day. There is barely any conversation, there is just the run and you are free to soak it all in. The moon is so bright you don't even need your lights and in fact many runners are running with theirs off. The stars are so crisp and clear not like they are back home where they are obscured by the fog and the light pollution from the city. At one point you are headed towards Orion's Belt and you are taken back to when you were 9 years old, when someone tells you that if ever one of those three stars is missing you can make a wish and it will come true. Back then you day dreamed lots about the girl next door so you constantly checked the night sky in the hopes that you could get that one wish in. The memory makes you smile and you laugh because after all these years you are still a day dreamer and deep down you still wish for one of those stars to wink out so you can make a wish.

That was the most memorable part about this past weekend that I keep coming back to. Pacing Tony at the Javelina Jundred was another incredible running experience. I paced him from mile 60 onwards, from 8:20PM Saturday evening thru 5:42AM Sunday morning.

This was my third time pacing Tony and we actually met at this event last year. He had a strong run, we pretty much ran the last 40 miles. Even when he finally slowed down, hurting and exhausted, he was still able to lay down a good and consistent pace. We would make up a lot of time, pass a lot of people and he would finish 23:42. A much better performance from his 26:40 last year. Truly his running has really come a long way in just the past year. This was his third under 24-hour finish for a hundred mile ultra this year along with a finish at Badwater 135-mile. I was blown away by his improvement. Physically he is much stronger, faster and mentally more focused and tougher. Congratulations Tony, all your hard work has paid off and it shows.

The event itself was a blast too. The race was on it's 7th edition and was seeing it's biggest field of runners with 270 runners signed up. The previous best, according to Dave Combs, was 150. The course record would be broken, by 1:05 hours! Dave James would run a 14:20, a 14:20! Sadly it may also be the year of the highest number of drops. Of the 250+ runners who started only 124 finished. The start/finish area was bigger and more festive and because the event started on Halloween day they even had activities for the kids. There was pumpkin carving, assorted games and a haunted house tent - pretty nifty. The course is made up of six 15+ mile loops and a 9+ mile loop and the start/finish area is the focal point of the event.

What a great time! I hope to be back again next year, pacing or running. They do a great job out there. Mahalo to Race Director Jamil Coury and all the people who made it possible. Congratulations to all the runners.

2 seconds before the gun goes off. That's Dave James in the white tank top and yellow running shoes.

Buddy Jon Gunderson being sprayed down with sunscreen while another volunteer evens it all out.

Lynne and Tony, they would run the first 60 miles together.

Inside the main aid station tent with the super volunteers.

Donato Cabal in his costume. He ran 30 miles in the heat with this before changing. Donato had a bad bike crash during the summer at an Ironman distance triathlon event. It was good to see him up, about and healthy.

Ultra-running ladies from Southern California in costume. Their runner was dressed in the exact same outfit, you can't see but they have matching gaiters.

The start/ finish area as seen from the top of a hill. Part of the course is in the background.

With the shirt I designed for the event.

Activities for the kids at night, including a haunted house. These was over a dozen kids at the start/finish.

Not a great picture but Tony a minute after his finish.

Many more pictures. Click here for the photoset.