Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Christmas Relays

I have been enjoying my off-season. Last Sunday at the Christmas Relays I attended for the sole purpose of socializing and eating after not running all week. Ah it's such a fun event to hang out in. It's a run around Lake Merced, 4 runners each running a loop and the loop is just over 4 miles long. My triathlon club attends every year, fielding a lot of runners. We generally have a great time and not take it too seriously but there are a lot of serious runners out there. Actually not just serious runners but serious teams, the event is part of the PAUSATF (Pacific Association USA Track and Field) - something I only learned about this year when I joined the Tamalpa Runners. I had to get myself a PAUSATF membership so I could score points for the club at PAUSATF ultra events. Anyway, it was very cool to see all these fast runners sporting the names of this track club or this running team. Tamalpa was out in force but I didn't really know who they were. The only people I'm familiar with are the ones who run ultras and even then I don't know all of them. Speaking of which I did see many ultra folk out there.

This Saturday is PCTR's Rodeo Beach race. I had planned on showing up to volunteer and enjoy some of the same socializing and eating I pulled off at the Christmas Relays. That is still going to happen but I am now also scheduled to sweep the 20k race. How did that happen? Brett and Larissa happened. Those two trailzilla's are coming too and LP is sweeping the 20k course and wanted company. It's okay, I've run three times since Northface and all those runs this past week. In fact I have a 6-mile route that I run frequently and I posted my fastest time on it this year yesterday. Also we have a storm rolling in tonight and it's supposed to last the entire weekend into Monday. I'm excited that those trails will be wet for a day and half before the race and the fact that by the time we sweep runners have mucked up the course even further. It's gonna be a fun time I think and I'm bringing my lightweight but toothy Adizero XT's. Fun, fun, fun. I'm gonna bomb a few downhills and let LP pull down the ribbons herself, shhhh.

Lastly I entered Running and Rambling's MT101 giveaway. Donald is an old blog friend who is really a more than decent triathlete and ultra-marathoner. I got the pleasure of pacing him at Headlands Hundred in 08. He reviews a lot and I mean a lot of gear and he's a great writer. By leaving a comment and linking to his blog I get two chances of winning a pair of MT101's. I'm also wondering if flattery gets me a third chance? Did I mention he's a really great triathlete, ultra-marathoner and writer? Actually those of you who also know Donald, I'm looking at you Olga, know it's not an exaggeration.

Daphne showing off her holiday themed boxers and socks.

Oh yeah Ed, show them elf legs. Wait is that a garter?

The ones actually racing.

Tamalpa ladies on the right.

Our very own reindeer, Rachel.

With coach Lori. I owe her for my one and only Ironman finish and I've never forgotten it.

Coach Lori finishing her loop, big, big smile.

Dogs were welcome, this is Huck the Pup although he is not really a pup anymore.

Also welcome were children, especially the ones with Oreo fudge cookie mustaches.

Throwing in another picture of pretty ladies, sisters Hannah and Janet. We just got Janet back after two years of graduate school in Chicago. Welcome home Janet.

Relay team shots.

And finally the big club shots.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Northface Endurance Challenge

I ended up buying the photo, for those that commented, thank you for the input. I can look at it when I'm old and slow or give it to one of my fans <(my sister, mom).

Anyway, so that Northface Endurance Challenge... wow, yeah, it was as promised - a rockin good time on Marin Headlands and Mt. Tam trails. The field was indeed quite competitive, probably the most competitive ever. I helped mark the course the day before and crewed and paced my friend Larissa on the 50-Mile event. I've run the 50-Mile race the last two years but this year I felt even more involved/connected with the event. I got to help behind the scenes then run 22 miles on the course. The two times I ran Northface I had done the Quad the weekend before but this year I've decided enough is enough of that foolishness. It was the right decision as I felt pretty whooped at the end of those 22 miles. Not once did I feel that I should've have gone for the whole enchilada.

Hayatz coming into the Tennessee Valley aid station, outbound to Mt. Tam.

Larissa coming into Stinson Beach aid station, mile 28.

Larissa is a very strong runner, that girl can keep powering. There was hardly any walking even on the uphills. On the last uphill she just put her head down and ran the entire thing. I didn't have to keep reminding her to eat or drink either, just knows how to take care of herself. Besides LP there were also many friends running the event and it was great seeing them before, during and after the race. Just a great day and of miles and miles of great trails and good friends. It was muddy and slippery because it rained again but it was what it was and I thought the runners dealt with it just fine.

Along with videos I had put up a photo album on Facebook with title slides and captions. I've loaded a copy on Flickr and the links is below. Call it photo race report.

Northface Endurance Challenge.

A few photos from the set.


Dave Mackey and Geof Roes, first two through Stinson Beach, mile 28.

Larissa powering up her hills in Muir Woods.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Muddy Wonderful

Picture 1
I may buy this photograph. Don't I look fast in this picture? Look at that concentration. After seeing many race photos of myself I've learned to look better for the camera; suck in gut, check form, make it look effortless and wipe stupid smile off face. If I buy this photograph it will be the first time. I'll think about it.

So after all that heehawing about minimal training, feeling tired, just hoping for a decent time and finishing gracefully at the Quad Dipsea, I had myself a great race under wet and muddy conditions. So many things went right Saturday. Oh it was all of that leading into the race, I wasn't sandbagging. I did train a lot less but I must say those short races weeks prior to the event did put some oomph back into my running. I didn't expect a PR effort but was pleasantly surprised with the time I did run and how great I felt. I mean I really felt good, even on the last crossing when I was on my last legs.

If I could only run one trail it would be the Dipsea and if I could only participate in one ultra it would be the Quad Dipsea. As ultras go it's short at 28.4 miles but what it lacks in distance it makes up for with it's hills (9200 ft of climb / 9200 ft. of descent) and in the those last miles, uphill or downhill it's all hard and painful. Great variety of terrain on the trail too; steps, wooden bridges, firetrail, single track, exposed sections with great views, covered sections under trees, rocky trails and soft leaf covered paths.

I felt kind of blah at the start and as it turns out I was just dehydrated. I'm a coffee drinker and caffeine is a diuretic. I urinated three times before the start and not wanting to urinate another three times I didn't replenish my fluids right away. When I did start drinking again, draining my 20 ounce bottle within the fist three miles, I felt right as rain. Speaking of which it had rained the night before and the morning off the race so the trails were muddy and slippery. Thankfully it stopped raining just before the start and it only rained intermittently during the race but those trails were a challenge especially the downhills. So much fun though. I took it to my limit on those muddy descents, like a rally car sliding around corners. Like a forest animal bounding here and there, hurdling rocks and roots - my mother would say a wild pig but that's because of the way I raid her fridge, not a commentary on how I actually run. Man, it felt good to dig deep and have a body that responded. I didn't expect much but I got a lot.

My splits were 77, 75, 76 minutes for the first three crossings and I blew it on the last with an 81. At the end of the triple crossing my legs started to feel like jelly and the uphills on the last crossing were way tough. In the end the lack of longer long runs and low weekly mileage did catch up to me but not till late in the game. On that last crossing I knew I was losing time on the uphills so I pushed even harder on the downhills where I could still run at a decent pace. My hill climbing has vastly improved this year but I'm still a downhiller. Downhills is where my heart is at; hop, hop, skip, cut left, cut right, jump, bounce right, bounce left, gas on the apex, keep running like a thief with nowhere to hide.

I knew beating my PR of 4:59 was out of the question halfway through the race when I clocked a 2:31 but I wondered if I could beat 5:10, my second fastest time set last year. On the last set of stairs leading back to Old Mill Park and the start/finish I did something I had never done before - I skipped steps. With one hand on the hand rails I ran/jumped skipping every other step. It was loud and ungraceful, barely any rhythm, just a mad dash down some steps. Sounded like a horse cloppity-clopping down the wooden steps. Ok that's not fair to the horse. Once I hit the edge of a step and thought I was going to go down, thank God for the hand rails. After the last set of steps I sprinted the last 30 yards or so with everything I had left. I clocked a 5:09:17 for 18th overall. I remember keeping it cool on the outside that last 10 feet, sucking in the gut and trying to look as smooth as possible. On the inside however I was grinning like an idiot and it was only moments later when that inside grin made it to the outside.

So that's how my final race of the season turned out. A good ending to a so-so year. I could've done a lot worse. Despite the condition of the trail and the weather, Caren Spore broke the Womens record by a minute and Leor Pantilat came close to breaking the Mens - he missed it by 2 minutes with a 3:54. Under dry conditions he would have broken it. Nevertheless he is now one of only three runners to break 4 hours. Gary Gellin would take 2nd with a 4:02, in better conditions he too would have gone under 4 hours. The Boggs Mountain 50k race directors go 1 and 2 at Quad Dipsea! Shout out to all the Tamalpa runners, the club did great with a lot of runners participating. Special shout out goes to fellow Tamalpa club mate Erika Lindland who pulled off a Thanksgiving miracle with her finish. She had a hip injury after finishing the Dick Collins Firetrails 50-mile in the beginning of October. She limped along for most of October and part of November. She's a physical therapis and at one point she feared it might have been a stress fracture. It finally started to get better after she quit running, the final weeks leading up to the Quad she was able to train very little. She started knowing she could always drop but she finished the darn thing in 6:19. Kind of amazing I think.

My season is done but I can't put my feet up just yet. This weekend is the Northface Trail races. Tomorrow I'm helping with the marking of the course for the 50k and 50-mile event. Quite a competitive field for the 50-mile, probably the best so far. It's gonna be a battle Saturday. I'm pacing my friend Larissa at the 50-mile race. After Saturday then I am totally done with this damn running thing for the year:) Looking forward to short runs (4 miles and less), guilt free couch time and a lot of gym work to repair and re-strengthen the old bod. Oh alright and a lot of stretching too.

If you can laugh about it in the end, it can't be that bad. I'm sure Jochen Horn wasn't laughing when he spilled however. Mud and a little blood looks good on him. I still laugh when I see this picture but only because I know he's okay.

Always down to rub elbows with speed, that and they are truly nice guys and good friends. Under the blue tarp with Leor Pantilat and Gary Gellin, 1st and 2nd place.

As you can see, it was nothing a little food and dry clothes couldn't fix. Jochen with Melissa Ownby and Nick Kaiser who was visiting from Hawaii.

Tamalpan Hans Schmid is 70 years old and he clocked a 6:23! Managed to catch Gary Gellin in the background too.

Amy with the girls after her finish.

With the best looking of the race directors, Lisa Henson:) She is also the general manager of UltraRunning Magazine.

Free beers and a fire.

Jen finishing.

Erika Lindland with some members of her run crew. I snuck into the picture.

Another pic with Erika.

A hardworking Dave Combs. It's party time for the runners and friends but not for Dave. Thank you Dave for all the work that you do at these races.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shorter and Sweeter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Inaugural Boggs 50k

Larissa, chilled and headed for registration.

The start, photo courtesy of RD Leor Pantilat.

Fresh from the warmth of Javelina, into the cold, misty fog of Boggs 50k. Boggs Mountain is about a 2.5 hour drive from San Francisco. Originally we had thought about camping the night before but the forecast of rain put a stop to those plans.

It was cold but not overly so and the rain held off until the afternoon. We had great running weather. The damp ground was in great shape and the moisture meant no dust. It was a really beautiful course. It reminded me of Mt. Tam a bit with all the trees and pine needle covered single track but not as technical and at least for the trails that we were on, not too hilly. There were two distances, the 25 and 50k. They were two different loops with some overlap, not a single 25k loop run twice for the 50k.

I came into the event with a training mindset but left the option to race if I felt good. Well about 2 miles into it I got lost and worst of it was, some people followed me into the wrong turn. Ah well, training it was then. At the bottom of the hill of this wrong turn Brian Wyatt was already there retracing his steps. On the way back up he run past our group and I decided to tag along. We would end up running the rest of the race together. That was a lot of fun and a memorable experience. Brian is one of my oldest friends in ultra and we always race against each other because we have comparable times. He always pulls away at the start and I eventually come creeping back up to him. Some days I catch him and some days I don't but we are always racing. Well this time, for the first time, we worked together and paced each other to a finish. I clocked a 5:56, a second behind Brian for 12th. We chased after our buddy Larissa Polischuk who we knew was in front but never caught up to her. That lady ground out a great race coming in third woman and her boyfriend Brett won the 25k event.

With Brian Wyatt shortly after our finish.

With RD Gary Gellin.

With RD Leor Pantilat.

The fire, right before it started pouring; Victoria in the pink beanie, Larissa with the crazy smile and Brett.

Lots of laughs at the finish but unfortunately it rained not too long after finishing and despite a fire, Brett, Larissa, Joel and I left. We were getting cold and damp. I never did get my free Lagunitas Beer but I did take home my post race burrito. Hopefully next year they hold the race again and the weather will still be cool but sunny. It was truly a beautiful, beautiful course with lots of single track. Kudos to Leor and Gary who worked very hard in putting this event together.

Boggs 50k race schwag which I thought was great. It's a triangular lunch box with a spork. It's made in Sweden which is awesome because I like Swedes and Swedish design and because I already have too many things made in China. The logo on the shirt is my creation but I thought they did a great job choosing a blue shirt to complement the colors of the logo - again great job Leor and Gary.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Javelina Jundred 2010

Well folks, it was another successful outing at the Javelina Jundred. My third consecutive appearance at this event. Tony did great. He has continued to progress as a runner - stronger, faster. I run with him only once or twice a year and I really notice the difference. All his hard work is paying off.

It all went like clockwork and Tony notched another course PR, bettering last year's 23:42:11 with a 22:57:27. Oh he was hauling like a mad man to go under 23 hours. The last 4.7 miles, the distance between the last aid station to the finish was probably his fastest miles of the race.

If you want more deets you can read my crewing and pacing report here which was posted on Tony's site. Enjoy the pictures.

Hanging out with Tony and the other runners during registration Friday afternoon.

Steve formerly of the bay area now Seattle, Jasmine of Colorado and Lynne of New York at registration Friday afternoon.

One of the unique handmade category awards.

Fellow Tamalpan Bradley Fenner meeting Tony Portera Saturday morning. Bradley would have a great race with a 19:35:07 and 6th overall.

Fellow Tamalpan Erika Lindland with early leader, Josh Brimhall, in the background. Erika was crewing for Bradley Fenner. She was supposed to pace as well but couldn't because of an injury. I don't know what was more incredible, that she couldn't find someone for the last 40 miles or that she found three separate people for the remaining three loops.

Jenn Shelton.

Jamie Donaldson.

Luis Velasquez and Janet Thomson.

Looking hawt PJ! PJ is a local who the first loops with Tony, just as they did on their first Javelina back in 08.

Another local, Rachel Spatz on her first Javelina.

SoCal Coyotes head honcho, Jimmy Dean Freeman. Spectating is a tough job!

Beautiful sunset before some awesome night running under a full moon.

Finally meeting Tess Geddes! We come from the same region in the Philippines, speak the same language. Not as common as you think with 7,100 islands and 77 dialects.

Sugar and alcohol, my stomach has met it's match.

One of these of these days.

For the photoset, click here