Thursday, October 31, 2013

Temecula Half Marathon Recap Part Deux

After the paparazzi and running groupies gave Chris B. a moment of rest following his top 13 finish in the Temecula Half Marathon (1:33:37, 7th in the 40-49 age group), which took place on October 20, 2013, we sat down in his kitchen for an interview.  Chris described the race as follows:

I decided to run this race as a rust buster of sorts as it has been a year since my last race. I've been having problems over that time with a chronic ankle issue that will continue to bother me until I elect to have surgery.

My training lately has been decent but not as consistent as I would like. I’ll get in a couple decent weeks and then need to cut back to let the inflammation in the ankle settle down. This may not be such a bad thing though, as in the past I've had a tendency to over train…Recently moving to SE Hills has been a good way to get back in shape, I've always liked running hills and there sure isn't a shortage here! It is definitely good training ground for the endless and steep rolling hills in the Temecula Half Marathon.  

It’s a tough course, 3/4 on gravely and rutted dirt roads that made me wish I didn't wear flats because my feet got sore from rocks poking them, and the rest on pavement. Strava says the gain in elevation was 1282 ft. 

My legs were fried at the turnaround (halfway) and I was in 15th place at that time. I felt like I was slowing drastically but moved up 2 places on the way back to the finish. I guess the people in close proximity to me were hurting too. 

Around mile 9, I could hear people right behind me cheering for the first woman; she was good motivation to keep giving a strong effort so I wouldn't get passed. I think she ended up finishing about a minute behind. It was cool to not be running a time trial but to be racing, due to the out and back nature of the course I knew what place I was in the whole time. 

I didn't look at my watch on the way back; I didn't want to get discouraged if I was drastically slowing, which it felt like. I just focused on running as hard as I could. I was surprised I wasn't getting passed by a lot of people. Overall I'm pretty happy with this race. I think it indicated I've got a good shot at PR'ing on a flat road half marathon course in December. Running hills every day has me pretty fit. 

Chris B.
Victory Pose

Chris B. for San Elijo Hills Running Club

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lake Hodges 2013 50K Recap - Running with the fear

Back in a former life, I was a hardcore surfer.  This week brought back memories of that life.  I used to live in San Francisco and Ocean Beach, home of 48 degree water, 45 minute paddle outs, six wave sets and double and triple overhead waves, was my break.

To get to the beach, my friend Sam and I would drive down Lincoln Way, which runs alongside Golden Gate Park and hits Ocean Beach.  On big days, especially on dawn patrol, Sam and I would drive the three miles to the beach in his silver Nissan Sentra, quiet as church mice.  We knew we were going to get worked, that our arms were going to burn and that we would paddle straight up waves, hoping we would just make it over the top, before the wave crashed on top of us, sending us into a world of pain.

On the bigger days, as we got closer, not only could we see the waves from a mile out, we could hear them. Sam and I may have had the fear on those days, but we never spoke of it.  We pulled on our wetsuits, waxed our boards and trotted off into the surf, dealing with the fear.

This week, the fear rose up in me.  I had signed up for the Lake Hodges 50K, which is 31.06 miles and took place on Sunday, October 27, 2013.  Prior to Lake Hodges, the longest I have ever run was the Carlsbad Marathon in January 2013.  The six weeks prior to the marathon, I was injured and ran a total of about 40 miles.  During the race itself, I had to walk the last three miles and was in a considerable amount of pain, finishing in 4:07.  Once done, I swore I would never run a marathon again.  

Despite all that, here I was, a few days away from running 31.06 miles!  What was I thinking.  Was I ready, could I do it, would I survive?  The closer I got to the race, the more the fear rose up.  There was nothing I could do.  I was either ready or I wasn't.  I could either run or not run.  I chose to run with the fear.

The race itself began in a very foggy Rancho Bernardo at 7:00 a.m.  Just prior to the start, while sitting off the back of my car drinking coffee, my spirit animal, a rabbit, ran into the parking lot, over to my car and then back into the woods.  I took it as a sign that I was in the right place.

At the start line, about 150 runners were lined up.  The race began and about seven or eight runners got out in front of me, some of them appearing to go way to fast (apparently at least one runner eventually dropped out).  I eased into the race and a long train of runners formed behind me.  Over the next two miles, three runners passed me, placing me into about tenth.  I let them go, knowing the race had barely begun.

I felt good and the next five or six miles no one passed me.  I slowly reeled in a guy in front of me who was carrying two water bottles.  I couldn't quite figure this out, as there was water on the course.  One water bottle I could understand, but what was the point of two - that's a lot of extra weight for a four plus hour race.  I decided I had to beat him.  I passed him, going into ninth and up next was a guy who looked strong, but probably weighed 190.  I'm six feet and weigh 150.  I knew it was only a matter of time.  I caught him around mile 9, putting me into eighth.

Next up was Tracy, a women I spoke to after the race.  Tracy ended up winning the woman's division in 4:25.  I caught her, going into seventh and for the next 8 miles, I passed no one.  Finally around mile 16, I caught my last runner, placing me into sixth.  At the turn, at 18.75 miles, I felt good, but my body was tiring.  At the same time, my Garmin died and I was running blind so to speak.  I had a vague idea of course distances, but I like my watch . . .

I turned around and headed back up Raptor Ridge.  At the crest, Tracy caught me and I put in one last effort, trying to fly down the hill and put some distance between me and her.  It worked for a bit, but soon enough Tracy passed me and she was gone.

I soon began to struggle.  My right butt cheek had been tight since mile five.  Now it was creeping up into my back.  Each step with my right foot was beginning to hurt - why was I doing this again?  I wanted to stop, but I kept going.  Finally around what I figured was 26.2, I began to walk for a bit and then run.  I was now into new territory, I had never run more than 26.2 before.  I was almost there.  For the next four miles, I stayed in seventh.  Finally, with about a mile to go, a man caught me and another one was gaining on me.

However, the guy who caught me had two guys following him on mountain bikes for the last bit of the race. They were carrying his water and I had to step off the trail to let them pass.  I imagine this is the sort of thing that can get a runner DQed and it annoyed me enough to find some more energy.

I decided to give it my all and run the last bit.  The race finishes with a climb up a hill and then a downhill section.  The man who had just passed me, was walking the hill a little further up.  I was running it.  He was looking back.  I had a chance.  I caught him at the top of the hill.  I sprinted.  He tried to keep up with me. He couldn't.  I poured it on, I felt no pain.  I was almost there.  And then after four hours, thirty-five minutes and twenty-four seconds I was done.  I had never run so long in my life.  I finished seventh, could barely speak or walk, but I was done.

The race itself was well organized, had a friendly vibe and had fantastic people manning well-stocked aid stations out on the course.  If you have never run a 50K, this is the place to start.  Thanks for the experience and a huge medal!  

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Running nervous - hey it's normal

On Monday, October 21, 2013, the fourth meet of the Independent Middle School League (IMSL) took place at Miramar Lake at approximately 4:00 p.m.  At 1:41 p.m., I received the following text from my son Zach: "I don't wanna go to the race".  Texts back and forth soon followed, with Zach texting me he did not want to race and me encouraging him to finish the season.

What brought this all about was Zach was nervous.  To put this in perspective, Zach has won the prior two races he entered this season by 20+ seconds.  These were not run to you puke type efforts, but more like jogs for Zach.  It's hard to fathom, but a kid dominating the season, was still getting nervous.

But hey, we all get nervous, its normal and only natural.  Races, whether or not we are running to win or for a personal best, involve putting ourselves out there.  We don't want to disappoint ourselves and our expectations.  At the same time, running is a difficult and solitary sport.  There is no one to rely on but yourself and you never know if your legs are going to show up.

Shana, the mother of Zach's teammate, Colin, was scheduled to drive Zach to the meet.  I called Shana and explained the situation.  Shana graciously agreed to convince Zach to run.  Shana and her husband, a former ski racer and motorcross racer, then spent the car ride giving Zach a pep talk.

Among other texts, Zach sent me ones telling me not to come to the meet.  I texted back that I would come, but would not talk to him.  I got to the lake before Zach and stood off to the side, keeping my promise.  Zach soon arrived and came over to me.  I gave him a hug and he told me he wasn't nervous anymore.

Starting line (I know, I need to take better photos)
Once the race began, Zach sprinted to the front, stayed in first the whole way and won by 20 seconds on the two mile course.  Remember, everyone gets nervous - even the winners.

Zach with his #1 stick

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chris B. Fast - Temecula Half Marathon Recap

Congratulations to SEHRC's own Chris B. who on October 20, 2013, took 13th overall in the Temecula Half Marathon in a time of 1:33:56.

A blurry picture of Chris, who is in the federal witness protection program, from another race. 

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Raptor Ridge Trail Half Marathon 2013 Recap

On October 13, 2013, I ran my first trail race, the Raptor Ridge Half Marathon.  The marathon took place in Escondido and started across the street from the North County Mall.  The race was limited to 400 people, which gave it an intimate feel.  I was pumped up for the race, feeling well prepared and ready to go.

I walked right up to the starting line and got a position in the front row without a problem.  Standing next to me was Nick, a guy I remembered from winning the UCSD Triton 5K earlier this summer.  At that point, I knew at best I was taking second.  The race began and I got on Nick's back, running the first mile in 5:24.  I knew this was unsustainable, so I let Nick go, but noticed there was no one behind me.  I was wondering what was going on - I was in second place!

The next two miles I ran around 6:20 pace and stayed in second.  Around the fourth mile, a man named Matias caught me.  We chatted for a bit and then the 300' climb up the single-track began.  I said, "go for it," but Matias told me to set the pace and that we would push each other.  Up the climb we went and a third runner joined our little group.  We crested the peak, tore down the backside and floated into the turnaround at 6.5 miles. Matias made pace for the next mile or so and then I took over going back up the hill we had just ran down.

As we ran back, we started to pass all the runners behind us.  They all yelled "good job" and "way to go" and encouraged the three of us to keep at it.  This type of positive encouragement from the runners we are competing against always amazes me.  After the race, a guy named Marcus called this the "warrior spirit."

We then flew down the front of the hill and as it bottomed out, my right side got a massive cramp and I told the two other runners to leave me.  I walked for about a minute, my side aching and my mind thinking about there goes my good finish and self-pity began to creep in.  Then the cramp started to go away.  I turned around and saw two runners approaching and decided to drop the hammer, pushing myself to a 6:05 pace and opening a gap.

Up ahead I could see Matias and the other runner, but they looked too far away to catch.  I just wanted to hold onto my fourth and maybe win my age division.  I concentrated on pace and broke the remaining three miles down in my head into twelve 400 meter segments, then eleven, then ten, etc.

As I ran, I opened a bigger gap on the two runners behind me and I started to pull in Matias.  The other runner having dropped Matias.  I didn't think I had enough race left to catch Matias, but slowly and surely I was gaining and he looked to be fading fast.  Finally, at the last 200 meters I caught him and gave it everything I had left, sprinting by him and to the finish line, finishing third!  I couldn't believe it. A podium finish.  I timed myself at 1:26:35, but the official time has me more around 1:29.

It was a little ironic that I finished one place ahead of Matias, because I don't know that I could have beaten him without his encouragement.  Thanks Matias, I owe you some help next time.

Receiving my free sneaker coupon and extra large beer.
(Thanks to Sean Reynolds for the picture)
Then it was off to the Hess Brewery in North Park for the awards.  I was looking forward to a medal for coming in third, but I didn't get one.  Instead, I was given a coupon for a free pair of Merrell shoes (worth about $100), a $15 gift certificate for RoadID products, an extra large Raptor Ridge beer and anti-blister cream.  Not bad and completely unexpected.  

A beer well earned

Thanks to Dirt Devil Racing and the San Diego Running Institute for putting on a great race.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Running like Frankenstein on a treadmill

In my never ending quest to categorize people, I identified another type of treadmill runner, while running on the treadmill this morning.  The first was the "Noisy Runner", who lands on their heels and makes a ton of noise.  I've since, in my mind, renamed them "Elephants".

The new category of runner is the "Frankenstein".  Frankesteins place their arms on the front portion of the treadmill and just shuffle their legs.  I'm not sure why they rest their arms.  I've never seen anyone run with their arms not moving, why do it on a treadmill?  Why give up the extra calorie burn and workout for the arms?  At the same time, the Frankensteins also destroy their running form.

I suspect Frankensteins do it, because it generates the illusion of being able to run faster than they actually can. Running on a treadmill, for a variety of factors, enables a runner to run faster than they would be able to on a track.  If a runner takes it one step further and lays their arms on top of the treadmill and supports their body weight, they can literally float along the top of the treadmill belt.

I suppose running like a Frankenstein is better than not running at all, but if a runner goes to the trouble of going to gym, changing their clothes and getting sweaty, why not at least try to run like a runner as opposed to a Frankenstein?

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Running to win

On Monday, October 6, 2013, the third meet of the Independent Middle School League cross-country season took place at La Jolla Shores.  The race was a 1.7 mile out and back course, the runners going a bit past Scripps Pier and then turning around and coming back.  For Zach, this was like a home meet, as he used to go school a few miles away and has raced the course a bunch of times.

Unfortunately, I wasn't at the meet, but my wife snapped the below photo of the start.  The thing I notice first about the picture is that Zach has a big smile on his face, as if to say, "this is going to be fun!"

The start
Zach then took me through the race, explaining the race had a start line about 30 yards wide, marked by two cones. Zach lined up at the cone closet to the water.  His closest competitor choose the cone closer to shore.  This was important, as the race course ran along the water, so his competitor had to run a few more steps west to reach Zach.

Zach got out to a good start, took the pole and kept at least 10' between him and the next racer, as he wanted to take away the ability to draft.  The boys behind ran in a chase group, but did not run in an echelon in order to help cheat the wind, which was blowing sideways to the course.  As the race progressed, Zach cruised along at 70% pace and slowly increased his lead. Zach was running just for the win, as running for time was meaningless, especially on a beach course.

Prior the boys' race, the meet began with the girls heading out first.  Initially, Zach was opposed to this idea, but after the race began he appreciated it.  The reason being that as Zach caught the tail end of the girls, he began to pick them off, one by one.  Each time he passed another girl, he focused on catching the next one. At the end, he sprinted the last couple hundred yards and brought home another gold.      

Bringing home the bacon in the new uniform

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When running at the track, respect the track

As a runner, I'm lucky to live a few miles from the track at Cal State University San Marcos.  At the moment, I'm into Phase 2 of Jack Daniels' running formula for a marathon.  Daniels has two types of runs at this stage, easy running and quality workouts.  The quality workouts consist of running certain distances at different paces, which he calls easy pace, marathon pace, threshold pace, interval pace, etc.  Daniels provides a table for runners to figure out what their various paces should be for certain distances.

Running at the track helps me run at my target paces without worrying about elevation changes, running surfaces, cars or stop lights.  I therefore consider myself fortunate that CSUSM chooses to not lock its track and lets the general public use it.

Whereas the track half a mile from my house at San Elijo Middle School is locked up, along with the basketball courts.  God forbid that people might actually play basketball or run around the track - no wonder the country has a weight problem.   I surmise they do it to stop the "vandalism".  Oh yes, I forgot, its super easy to break steel poles, asphalt and dirt.   No, no, the taggers.  What are they going to tag?  A few poles? Buy some paint.

But I digress.  Last Sunday I was at the track doing a workout when a family of five showed up.  The mother and father did a work-out that seemed to mainly consist of stretching and the kids walked/jogged around the track once or twice.  However, the kids then proceeded to take a four-wheel steel cart, with hard edges, used for moving hurdles and equipment, from one end of the track, across the soccer field, to the other side of the track.  Along the way, two of them would ride on the cart.  Once on the other side of the track, the kids proceeded to play on top of the cart.

I can't blame them.  As a 10 or 11 year old, I'd probably do the same thing.  Although, I do blame the parents.  Hey, guys, do you want to control your kids?  You are guests at the track, treat it and the soccer field with some respect.  Of course, if the the kids got injured, you know the family would sue CSUSM.

Another runner at the track, who I later spoke with, just shook his head in disgust when later on the father pulled the cart, along with the three kids, back across the middle of the soccer field - can you say rip up the grass?  At least pull it on the track, not the grass.

Anyway, the next time I show up at the track and the gates are locked, I won't be surprised and I'll know who to thank.

San Elijo Hills Running Club