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.