Monday, August 29, 2011

Bulldog 25K Race Report

Well, I didn't die. It was touch and go for a while though. But let's start at the beginning.

In case you missed my preview post below, this race is a trail run in the mountains with a nearly 3 mile hill of over 2000 feet, followed by a few more hills, a huge descent, and then one more hill just before the end. We are having a heat wave and the high on the course would be over 100.

I was up with the DW at 4:40 as we had a bit of a drive. First stop, Hollywood, to pick up aschmid3, or Abby. Introductions were made, and once she decided I was not actually a serial killer, she hopped in. We got to the course at 6:30, in time to see the start of the 50K, for the truly crazy. Then we had an hour to chill and get ready. I met up with another friend, C, who would start with us. Water bottles were mandatory, and I had 2 filled with Gatorade.

Pre-race photo

There was still plenty of shade the first few miles and it was relatively flat. The three of us got split up right from the start however; C moving ahead of me and Abby falling behind. It was a little crowded but i was just running. Didn't have the racing mentality. We hit some single track when it was still crowded so I had to keep my eyes on the trail for every step. But it was really fun.

After about 3 miles we hit the beginning of the serious climbing, and for the next three miles it was almost all up. 15-20% grade I'm guessing for 75% of it. Shortly almost everybody was walking. It was a little odd having so much walking going on during a race, but there was no way to run it. I would jog once the slope came down or on the few flat portions, but switched to a walk whenever my lungs or legs told me it was time. Meanwhile we were now in the sun and it was heating up toward the 90s.

So there was a lot of trudging, but purposeful trudging. I wasn't dead yet and was looking forward to getting over the top. I was passing more people than not. Check out the splits for the first 7 miles:
9:03, 9:45, 10:05, 11:41, 13:59, 18:10, 10:57

Once I got over the top I was feeling pretty good. It was beautiful as we could see for miles. I pulled out a camera for a few pics, and asked a runner to take one of me, and he laughed as he ran by. Oh well. The next section was fun, with some ups and downs. There was an aid station with icy sponges and I refilled my bottles and guzzled a few glasses. I was just enjoying the day and paused for a few more pictures.

That's the ocean there with some far-off islands poklng through the mist. And you can see the trail that we ran on.
So I was cruising along. Very hot though. My fingers were tingling and I was starting to feel pretty exhausted. Still having to walk up some steep portions. Next three miles were 12:49, 11:57, 10:21. I was mainly running alone at this time, only occasionally passing someone or being passed. Then I hear footsteps coming up pretty fast, and it is Abby! She looks fresh as a daisy. We chat a bit and i get her to stop and take some pics.

You can see how high we had climbed! Then the downhill started in earnest, and it was controlled freefall for much of about two miles. Still my splits were 9:10, 8:51. Abby and I ran together for 2-3 miles until we reached another aid station at 12.5. At this point i was feeling really dead, like I had hit the wall. The heat was becoming overbearing. I stopped and drank a lot and decided to just rest for about 5 minutes. I let Abby go on ahead.

Finally I headed back out. It was flat and had some shade for a while, but then we hit the last hill. I had to walk, and even walking I felt the need to pause for a break occasionally. I started to feel like I would puke, but it passed. I felt like someone lost in the desert, trudging hopelessly. It was just about survival at that point. I was sure glad I had water on me. Once I got over the hill I managed to jog almost all the way in to the finish, but I was toast. Last 3 miles were 15:37 (with the break) 15:42 and 9:30. My total average for the day was 11:52 per mile.

It sure was nice to see the finish area. I found a bucket of ice water and stuck my arms in it and splashed my face. Phew! It was beautiful and fun at times, but I don't know if I'll be doing this one again. All that walking just isn't that much fun. But it was a great accomplishment and good memories, so I am walking proud, although stiffly. Final time 2:56.
Post race photos:

The DW tells me what she thinks of my time. And yes we climbed over that mountain behind us.

So, an awesome day, a fun loop meetup, and a medal (for finishing). On to the next challenge!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ready to Test Myself - Again

Apparently this is the Summer to push my boundaries; try a few new things. Last week was the double fun 5K/10K. Next month is my first Olympic triathlon. And this Saturday is the Bulldog 25K Trail Run!

I've done a little trail running, including a 10K, and a pikermi that was about 8 miles of trails. But this race is 15.6 miles of major hills, set on one of the hottest days of the year. The weather is not giving us a break, so it looks like 90+ degree temps in the Malibu mountains. For a beach runner like me used to 60's, it will be a big change.

Here is the elevation chart, except it is backward from the way we are running, so go right to left.

and here is another version that is probably more like what it will feel like.

Over 2,000' climb in the first 7 miles. The rest should be easy, though, right?
Here are some pics to give you a feel for the area.

And some people are doing a 50K! Two loops!

Well, my goal is simple. Don't die. Oh, I guess I'd like to run most of it, but there will definitely be walking up that hill. Since I need a goal of some sort, how about 2:30? That's about 9:40 pace. Whatever. I am going to treat it like a training run/trek and have fun.

And what better way to have fun than to run with a Loopster?! Yes, aschmid3 is in town from Delaware and I will be escorting her to the start. We are about the same speed, so I am hoping we can run together at least some of it. I have another friend running it also. And the DW is sacrificing her morning, so there will be pics.

I've only run once this week, and I am fighting off a phlegmmy cough, but I should be good to go. Life is an adventure! Live it!

Monday, August 22, 2011

PRs, Medals, Loop Meetups and Burgers - Another Perfect Saturday - Two RRs in One!

 Today's race was the "Jet to Jetty" which is at the beach right next to LAX. So jets take off over our heads every 5 minutes or so.

As you can see, the marine layer was thick, temps were in the 50's, the course was basically flat with some downhill - another perfect day to go for a PR.

My (idiotic) plan - to race the 5K at full speed and claim the PR that was denied me last week; Then catch my breath, head back to the start line and do the 10K ten minutes later with loopster Atombuddy if I could get my body to cooperate. The wife and I met up with AB and his lovely wife, and his friend M, who would also be running about the same pace in the 10K. I warmed up with AB, and then headed to the start.

My 5K plan: 6:45, 6:35, 6:30, shooting for 20:30. Started out a little fast, but used G to get me back on plan, and went through mile 1 at 6:41. Feeling pretty good.

I was rocking my magic loopsterfest shirt, the sluttie shorts and the Kinvaras, and my midfoot strike was feeling good. Those shoes just FEEL fast.

Mile 2 was steady hard work, but feeling good. 6:35

Mile 3 we get a little downhill, and then it is full guts to the finish. My pace drops below 6:30 and I know this PR is mine. I'm confident enough to throw down (or up) a BP 3 tenths before the finish to celebrate.

Mile 3 was 6:27, and the last tenth was at 5:37 pace, for an official AGPR of 20:20!!!!

Well! I was very happy with that. But I grabbed a water and started heading back up the hill to the start line. More work to do! I met up with AB and M and ended up with about ten minutes to rest and prepare for a 10K. ABs plan was 7:45 1st mile and then 7:30 the rest of the way. I really had no clue how my body would react to that after my race, but it should feel slow after averaging 6:32 for a 5K, right? Right? Never mind that I only go sub 8 on speedwork days. My calves were a little tight, but, off we went!

First mile we are under 7:30, slow down to about 7:30, but then stay there. I try to stay behind AB so he will slow down, but he seems happy with 7:30 pace. Mile 1 was 7:33. Mile 2 starts and we are about 7:20. I slip back a little at a water stop, and it takes quite an effort to catch back up. Soon I start falling off the back. AB is on a roll, and it looks like I won't be able to keep up. He has his friend M with him, so I figure my work is done and I better just figure out what I want to do with the rest of this race.

I settle back to about 7:40 pace and feel more comfortable. It is a race after all, so I automatically try to do the best I can, within reason. The course is out and back and out and back and out and back, so there are plenty of chances to cut corners, or drop out. But I feel the pressure of the Loop since I went and said I was doing this, so I better darn well do it. And in less than 8 minute pace, thank you very much. Miles 2 and 3 were 7:32 and 7:50.

Then a funny thing happened. I started to feel better. Perhaps it was the GU I had. Miles 4 and 5 were 7:36 and 7:43. Went by the paparazzi and since I wasn't in race mode, I threw out a Dorky Teen pose to honor him as he goes off to college (yesterday).

Meanwhile Junblack and AB were rocking good races and I got to cheer them twice as they went by.

I get to the final straight and give it a little push - it is a race after all. Mile 6 was 7:29 and the last bit was 6:58 pace. Finished with a 10K of 47:12 or 7:36 pace. Not bad for round two! Celebrated my double dip...

So, over 10 miles on my Kinvaras and my calves are not real happy, but overall, I feel pretty good, considering. Group shots...

Finally checked the 5K results, and....I got 3rd in my AG! By 4 seconds! Later we learned that AB and JB also earned medals, so here's the money shot.

And as one more bonus, In 'N Out Burger had a truck there, so we had a hearty breakfast of beef. Life is good!

Monday, August 15, 2011

My Nebraska Vacation: Tons of pics, Water Fun, Men with Guns, a 5K race report, Loop Meetup and Pancakes

So much to say...
The family and I arrived in Nebraska Thursday night. We were visiting some friends who live on a lake there, and they love to live life to the fullest. So the agenda was mostly water based. Host C is also doing a full Ironman in 2 weeks, so we could talk triathlons and running while the ladies talked about whatever they talk about. Perfect!
Friday started out with a swim in the lake. I got in 3/4 mile on the perfect 80 degree flat lake water. So much easier than ocean swimming! Later we got the boat out. First step: Tubing!

Woo Hoo! Lots of fun! Then the girls went out together and laughed all the way through it and ended up like this.

Time to break out the wake boards and the water skis, but I was being cautious, so I passed. So this isn't me.

But a good time was had by all. Next up, over to the shooting range. We had an opportunity to shoot some skeet and do trapshooting with some shotguns. It was my first time ever shooting a gun, believe it or not. Me and the Teen had some fun and got a nice little bruise on our shoulders. I managed to hit a few and Teen was a lot better, what with all his XBox practice.

Friday also included a stop at Omaha's best burger place, Stella's, which lived up to it's 80 year old reputation. Then there was more boat time on Saturday. I got to try out the paddleboard.

Saturday night we checked out a local hot air balloon festival. About 6 balloons launched and it was kind of cool to watch them take off.

Then the adults went out for a fantastic dinner, and I had to try some Omaha steak so I had a fantastic filet mignon along with a lot of other simply excellent food at Firebirds (Free plug - they earned it). Although probably not the best meal the night before a race, as I completely stuffed myself. DW and I celebrated our 6th anniversary in style.

Which brings me to race day. We were doing the Boxer 5K to raise funds for colorectal cancer. We all joined the fun by wearing boxers, even the dog!

We got up early and got to the course which was one lap around a lake at a park. There was some early morning fog as we arrived.

But the sun burned it off pretty quick. Still, we had reasonable low temps for August in Nebraska. Probably in the low 70's for the race. High in the low 80's. C and I were planning to run together so we warmed up. Couldn't find loopster TOSuperstar for a long time, but then he showed up just before the start and we had time to talk for a few minutes.
My race plan was to average 6:45, run negative splits, finish strong and get under 20:45 for a PR. The course had a few hills surprisingly, but nothing too bad. It was all on a thin path, maybe three people wide, and there were over 500 people there. But TO, C and I all started together near the front and no slow people were clogging the front so it worked out just fine! Here we are just after the start (sorry I can't crop this one). TO and C are just behind me.

First mile: G says I am going about 6:30 or better so I ease it off and get comfortable. Pace slips toward 6:40 and C and TO go by me. I track them for a while but they slowly open up some space in front of me. But I am holding steady at 6:45, and that is as fast as I want to go for now so I let them go. 6:45 feels plenty fast, and faster than my plan of maybe 6:55. But I am happy with it. Mile 1: 6:46
2nd mile, those two traitors are pulling away from me without even a look back, and apparently chatting, while I am working pretty darn hard just to maintain. But I am going to run my race, which is right on schedule. I feel pretty good, working hard and passing a few people. Mile 2: 6:41
3rd mile: This one starts down hill, and I am close to 6:00 pace, but then we have the climb, maybe 50 feet? I am seriously hurting now, and just trying to hang on. My legs get a little heavy, but I know the hill is not too long, and the last 1/2 mile is downhill, so I keep pushing. By the time I crest, my lap pace is about 6:45, but I know I am going to beat the hell out of that on the way down, so I'm feeling good! My PR is toast! So I push with all I have and wait for the sweet taste of oxygen in 3 minutes or so if I just hang on... Coming in to the finish (yes I beat her)

I see the finish and it says 21:xx. What! I just haul it in and click G and it says 21:19! It also says 3.23 miles. Darn long course! G had mile 3 at 6:34 and the last .23 at 5:42 pace. So I do my own math and I am giving myself an unofficial AGPR of 20:39 for 3.11 miles.
C and TO beat me by about 40 seconds, but I am very happy with my race and my time. Then we all headed up to the free pancake breakfast! Here is TO with his 3rd place master trophy and 1st place AG medal, and a mouth full of pancakes!

And here is our official Loop Meetup photo.

And here are TO, me and C showing off our AG medals with a pump, 1st for TO, 2nd for C, and 2nd for me! Woo Hoo!

So a fantastic weekend! And a great way to celebrate our anniversary!

Life is Good!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Another week of running and playing in tinseltown

It has been a busy week of both training and entertaining myself, so here is your weekly summary of my life living the dream in So Cal.

Tuesday: Weekly group run in the local trails. Felt strong. Feel like I recover faster than normal after a hard effort like a hill. I think I'm getting in good shape! 6.4 hilly miles.

Wednesday: rest day

Thursday: Speed work. Wore the Kinvaras for the whole run today, 5+ miles. Went to the track with a plan to do six 800s, just like last week. Started knocking them out, and felt good again. Hard effort, but holding a little back. After 4 I abruptly decided, "You know, I think that's enough for today." Partly I didn't want to overdo it in the Kinvaras. Partly I wanted to save a little energy for the weekend long run. But I just figured, I feel good, let's just leave some in the tank. These felt easier than last week, but just as fast. 3:15, 3:16, 3:14, 3:13. Trotted home in great spirits. And no residual pain from running in the minimal shoes.

Friday: Another rest day, as the DW and I went out to Hollywood Bowl to see Hairspray with Harvey Fierstein, Marisa Jaret Winokour, John Stamos, Drew Carey and Nick Jonas.

Harvey Fierstein's voice... just, wow. It was a good time, some food, some wine. Nice.

Saturday: Back at it with an ocean swim. Saw some dolphins again, but not so close this time. Knocked out about 0.8 miles in some choppy water. Came out and felt...great! Again, I seem to be recovering quicker. Felt like I could go right back out and do it again, which is a big improvement from previous swims. Lately I am feeling on top of the world. Ready to race!

Saturday evening, DW, Dorky Teen and I headed back up to Hollywood to watch Comedy Sportz. This is an Improv Comedy group. Lots of laughs.

Sunday: Long Run Day. Last week I did 14 hilly miles averaging 8:57 and felt pretty BA. I have ramped up from 11 just 3 weeks ago. This week I thought I would do the same hilly course again, and add a mile at the turnaround and do 15. So I head out on a perfect overcast day, temp about 60. Feeling good again! This course is awesome as it starts out with 3 miles along the beach, then goes up about 300 feet in the next 2.5 miles, and then goes along the cliff in Palos Verdes on a trail that is literally right next to the cliff down to the water. And it looks like this:

So about 2 miles running along here on single track is just heavenly. I feel great so I decide I may as well go 15.6 (the distance of my upcoming trail race). Then I see more trail to explore so I extend it again all the way to 8 before I turn around. Heading back I start to tire, but the downhills help. The last 3 along the beach I am tired, but still moving well and I finish strong. Exhilarated, confident, just plain focking awesome. I bathe in the endorphins and smile contentedly as I rehydrate and rest. Life is good.
Check out these splits:
855, 845, 834 ,955, 854, 845, 835, 826,
821, 852, 904, 759, 806, 821, 822, 824
Total average 8:38, about 20 seconds per mile faster than last week!
So I am ready to race. 5K next week in Omaha. 25K trail run in 3 weeks.
Finished the weekend last night watching 127 Hours on DVD. Loved it. If he can do that, hell, I can suffer through any race pain. Bring it.