Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wild Duck 5K Recap

Wild Duck 5K

The Wild Duck 5K, which is put on by North County Road Runners, is part of the USATF Dirt Dog XC Series. The race took place on August 24, 2013 at Guajome Park in Vista.  I was originally slated to run the Wild Duck with my son Zach and pace him. However, Zach has been having pain in his heel, perhaps Sever's Disease, so we felt it best to rest him.  As a result, I switched from pacing him to racing the event.

The first 5K I ever ran was the UCSD Triton 5K in June 2013.  In that race, which has a relatively flat course, I paced Zach and we ran it in 20:43.  The Wild Duck course I knew would be a bit hillier, but I wasn't sure of the course and didn't realize it was posted on the SDUSTAF website until about five minutes ago, which was Mistake #1.  Always know the course, before you race the course.


The morning of the race I left with plenty of time to spare, as I knew the parking situation would be difficult, as there is not much room to park at Guajome.  Although, the internet flyer for the race indicates that "you must park inside the park".  Of course when I got to the entrance to the parking lot, per the directions on the flyer, I was told the parking lot was full and I was going to have to park on the other side of the park.

Gee thanks.  Next time don't tell people you have to park in a specific place and then not have enough parking.  Instead of driving to the other side of the park, I parked a quarter of a mile away in a housing development and walked to Guajome. No big deal, as I used the walk as part of my warm-up.


The vibe of the race was good.  It's a low key event that benefits the Mission Vista High School cross country teams, so the boys and girls teams were out in force, along with some other schools.  In addition, members of the San Diego Track Club, North County Road Runners, PRT (Prado Racing Team), Jamul Toads and other local clubs were present.

Gathering intel

The first race was the Masters's Race (age 40 and above) at 8:00 a.m.  I should have been running in that race as I'm 41, but I lied about my age to be able to run with Zach.  Instead I was "37" for the day, which felt great, and competing against the youngsters.  In running, if you're going to lie, it's better to make yourself older than younger.  The Master's Race started a few minutes late, but I got to observe the start to know what to expect for the Open race at 8:30 a.m.


The race started with a typical cross country start, with a mass of runners lined up on the grass, which after 70 meters funneled into a dirt trail ten feet wide.  The race did not use personal electronic timers that recorded times as runners ran past the start and finish.  Therefore, once the horn sounded, there was no waiting - you ran.  At the starting line, I was in a quandary: start my Garmin a few seconds before the race began or wait for the horn, which would mean I would not be poised to get out in front.  I choose to start it about five or six seconds early.  I think it was the right decision.

The race then began with "runners set" and then a "brrrran" sound from the megaphone.  I took off and tried to get relatively close to the front, as there were a lot of high school students I would need to pass if I got off to a slow start.

I started to settle in to a decent pace about 200 meters in and was then kicked from behind.  I high kicked my way of it, but no apology was forthcoming.  I settled into my pace again, but was then confronted by a bunch of runners who were already fading a quarter of a mile in.  I moved up a bit, but ended up behind a man I wanted to pass, who was running zig-zag across the narrow trail.  If I went left, he went left.  If I went right, he went right.  I finally went to the outside of the trail, revved it up and passed about 20 people, before I settled back down.

Of course, this was Mistake #2, as this was within the first mile.  Strava has my mile splits as 5:33, 5:40 and 5:43 for the race. (Although these numbers are somewhat suspect.)  This is the exact opposite of how I should have run the race, my slower splits should have been at the beginning.  No matter, I relaxed and settled into a pace behind a pack of three runners, who I drafted.  I spent the next mile and half behind these guys, before they dropped me on the last hill.

As I came down the hill, I regrouped and readied myself for the final 200 meters.  I kicked and had just enough left to sprint hard to the finish line.  I finished at 18:05 per the course clock or a 5:50 mile pace.  I was pretty happy.  I met my goal of running under 20:00 and I had taken 2:38 off my best 5K time.  (Interestingly, Strava places me at 17:11 for moving time.)


Upon finishing, I really began to sweat as I walked over to where I had left my water and pullover.  Race tip: if you are at a race alone and there is no bag check, place your things near the finish line, so after the race you have a short trip to get that water!  I then walked  back to the race start to watch the other runners finish and was given an ice cold Muscle Milk, which tasted so good.  Another race tip: make sure you have a change of shirt at the end of the race and a towel.

All-in-all the race was a fun event and will help me set new training paces for the coming months.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Running on the treadmill sans shirt

Okay.  I admit it.  I'm the guy at the fitness club running on the treadmill sans shirt.  As there is no wind inside to cool me down and aid in evaporation of my perspiration, I end up dripping with sweat. During one such shirtless session, I was told  by one of the staff members that I needed to wear a shirt.  I get it, my sweat is getting all over the machine, but it gets all over the machine even if I wear a shirt, just not as much. Anyway, I wipe it off when I'm done.  If I do wear a shirt, by the time I'm done with a 50 minute run, my shirt has absorbed two pounds of sweat.

But my question to the fitness club is, where's the sign that says shirts must be worn inside?  Is it generally known that shirts must be worn inside health clubs or am I just being ridiculous?  We are there to work out and when people work out, they sweat.  I know, I'm being ridiculous.

Now last night I ran at the treadmill I have in my house.  I didn't wear a shirt.  By the end of the run, my running shorts looked like I had just gotten out of a pool.  I guess all the sweat that my shirt would have absorbed ended up trickling down to my shorts.  Either the shirt absorbs half the sweat or the shorts absorb all of it.  Basically, its six of one, a half-dozen of the other.

Okay, I'll wear a shirt at the club, but I don't have to like it.

San Elijo Hills Running Club 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Running at Fiesta Island

Fiesta Island is an island located in Mission Bay in San Diego.  The attraction for runners is that it is flat and has a one-way road, about four miles long,  that circles its circumference.  The island is also popular for dog walkers and cyclists.

I'll take the dogs, but could do without the cyclists.  When I run Fiesta Island, I run clockwise, which is against the cars and cyclists which travel counter clockwise.  Generally, there is almost no traffic on the island, at most there are drips and drabs of vehicles circling the island, especially at seven in the morning.  As a result, the typical cyclist has the freedom to navigate the entire width of the one way road without fear of being run over by a car.

However, rather than move over two or three feet when they encounter me, most cyclists, who are apparently on a world record pace and don't want to deviate from their line, can't be bothered to move more than 12" from my shoulder.  I don't really get scared by this behavior, but I am somewhat concerned that one of them is going to plow into me at 20 mph.

I find this a bit ironic, as I used to do training rides at Fiesta Island back when I was a roadie.  I don't recall buzzing runners and pedestrians on my rides, but then I had no illusions that I was breaking Chris Boardman's hour speed record.

I'm not exactly sure when the attitude and sense of entitlement crept into cycling, but I think it was the 1990s. I remember being a bike messenger in San Francisco and was having a conversation with a guy who had a bike on his roof rack.  He told me he had drove in from Marin and was going to ride in Critical Mass that Friday night.

I thought it funny that he drove his car into the city, so that he could ride his bike in Critical Mass.  If you're going to ride in Critical Mass, ride your bike into the city.  Otherwise, it sorta misses the point.  I'm sure he thought himself pretty cool for riding in Critical Mass and pissing off all the motorists trapped in their cars as 5,000 cyclists ran stop signs and red lights.

I considered him a poser and felt like I did a one-man Critical Mass every time I got up  in the morning and went to work.  To top it off, I felt as though on Mondays following Critical Mass, the cars paid me back for Friday night's Critical Mass ride.

In any event, if you ride a bike and you're not in the middle of a UCSF sanctioned event, the next time you pass me, to paraphrase Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Won't you give me three feet, gimme three feet mister, and you'll never see me no more."
San Elijo Hills Running Club

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Olivenhain Cross Country Invitational

The Olivenhain Cross Country Invitational is a USA Track & Field certified cross country race specifically designed for kids 6-13 being held in Encinitas (Olivenhain) at the Meeting House off of Rancho Santa Fe Road on Saturday, August 31st.

The organizers are putting on 8 gender-separate races from 8am-10am (youngest kids run first). They will have free PowerBar product, free New Balance goodies, free professional photos for downloading, t-shirts for the top finishers, unique olive-themed awards for overall winners, and most importantly, the full professional cross-country experience for the kids (e.g. a fully-lined, "European-style", all-dirt, multi-loop course).

They will even have 50 cowbells for Mom and Dad to borrow and ring!  Plus "The Flash" will be leading the younger racers.  How cool is that?

Make it a family day by running in the morning and stopping by The Pancake House for brunch afterwards. The event itself is just $10 per kid!

This is a great opportunity for kids to experience a true cross-country race.  Please help the organizers achieve their goal of 200 entries, so that they can provide this event on an annual basis.

For further details, check out

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Monday, August 5, 2013

Running with the lead dog

I played rugby for two years in college.  One year at Rutgers in New Jersey, one year at Exeter University in England.  I wasn't the most dedicated player and kept getting my ear ripped open, but the drinking kept me coming back.  One of the things that I always remembered about rugby was one of the coaches made us run with a Lead Dog.

The coach, a former USA Eagle, took the slowest guy on the team and put him in the front for our warm-up runs.  No one was allowed to pass the Lead Dog.  I always wondered, why pick the slowest guy?  Why not me?  One of the faster guys?  Eventually, I realized the coach wanted the slowest guy to be Lead Dog, so the warm-up didn't turn into a race.

I've recently had the good fortune to run with a few of my son's teammates on endurance runs.  I've incorporated the use of a Lead Dog on the runs.  The purpose is to keep the team together and prevent the slower players from trying to match the faster players.  On an endurance run, especially at age 12, it's not about how fast or how far you go.  It's more about how much time did you spend running.  On the runs, I only have one rule - don't pass the Lead Dog.

Respect the dog!

San Elijo Hills Running Club