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On July 27th, I ran The San Francisco Marathon. Yep, another late run report post – bad blogger!

Anyway, on to the details…

Event/Race Details:

The San Francisco Marathon event is THE marathon in SF.  OK, there are others, but this one is the official one!  The SFM boasts runs through most of the sections of the City and is the only event where you actually get to run on the surface of the Golden Gate Bridge – all other runs/races and walks are run on the pedestrian walkway.  It draws all levels of runners, which makes it a fantastic event.  The SFM is actually made up of five distances: the marque marathon, the “First Half” 13.1 distance (which, according to this year’s finisher count, was the most popular distance), the “Second Half” 13.1 distance, a 5K, and the “Worth the Hurt, 52.4″ double (which starts at 12AM and has entrants run the marathon course in the reverse direction (replacing the Golden Gate with an out and back on the Great Highway), only to have the finishers join the regular marathon when it starts.)

Weather. The weather was on the warmer side for San Francisco, 63 degrees at the start and I’m positive that it warmed up to at least the mid 70s over the course of the day.  It was overcast at the start and bright and sunny when I finished.  No real wind on the Golden Gate, which was nice.  Heading up to the Golden Gate, it sprinkled a bit, but that was shortlived and mainly because of the fog and low clouds blowing through.  All in all, an excellent weather day for running.

courseCourse. The challenging, but doable marathon is a loop course that starts and finishes on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building, then running through Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Presidio, then into Golden Gate Park (which is the first half.)  After meandering through Golden Gate Park, runners head to the urban portion of the course: down the Haight Street, through the Mission, Potrero, and Mission Bay Districts. Passing behind AT&T Park is the sign that runners are almost done.  Merging back on the Embarcadero, runners cross under the Bay Bridge and give their final kick to the Finish Line (which is the second half.)

Management/Support. Course management and support was great, by my observation.  I carried my handheld, so I only made use of the aid stations at miles 10 and 18 to refill and restock my Tailwind Nutrition mix.  I’ve heard that there were issues with water shortages at a few of the aid stations later in the race.  As for course marshaling and management, this was excellent!  Volunteers were abundant and the SFPD and Biker crews made sure all runners were safe and supported.  Another benefit this year was free race photos – such a cool thing…thanks SFM!

Finishers. Again, SFM is a group of events.  By my review of the results, the finisher counts were:

  • Full marathon: 6,625
  • First Half: 7,256
  • Second Half: 4,502
  • 5K: 1,630
  • 52.5: 42
  • Grand total: 20,055 motivated runners!

Post-Race. The post race area was average for any event – good flow for the finish and the usual food and SWAG booths.  Because the shut down the Embarcadero, there are plenty of places to hang out and recover, which is always great.

Medal/Shirt. Each marathon finisher received a coaster medal, which is specific to the 26.2 (the other distances are unique to that particular distance…and smaller.)  As for the event shirt, the WESR (Wife’s Event Shirt Rating) is a 3.5/5.  The color was basic, but the logo on the back was great this year, so it raised the rating.  I didn’t like the official race apparel that they offered this year.  IMHO, it was boring.  The shirts were all basic colors and only text this year – I miss the cool shirts over the past few years: course map t-shirt from 2012, orange sunburst t-shirt from 2013.  Needless to say, I left without any t-shirt souvenir.  :(  Bring back the cool shirts SFM!!!

My Race

Results:

results

Recap:

This was my fifth marathon and I had PR hopes coming out of my training.

BUT, exactly one week out from the SFM, on my final, pre-race, long run, I jammed my foot on a speed bump.  Of course.  I didn’t have a bruise or any swelling; however, it was pretty sore on the bottom outside of my left foot – enough to cause a noticeable limp when walking that Sunday (no hiding it from my wife.)  I didn’t go to the doctor, but did R.I.C.E it throughout each day until the SFM.  I did a few short & easy check-out runs and rode my bike to stay loose that week.  By the end of the week, I was feeling better and decided to stick with my original pacing strategy and goals, but also be flexible enough to adjust mid-race and forgo my goals to ensure I’d heal properly and be able to run the other runs I have scheduled for the remainder of 2014 (4 50Ks, 1 marathon, 1 half marathon, and a 10K.)

Bottom line: I certainly WAS NOT going to NOT run.  Mainly out of stubbornness and also because this year was the final leg in my 52 Club challenge and I wanted to earn that sweatshirt.

With that, the goals for the day were:

  • Set a new marathon PR – my specific goal was 3:55
  • Follow my pacing plan – which factored in all hills and aid station stops.
  • Have fun – which is a given!

In the end, I accomplished only one of the three: I had fun.  The details about the other two are below…

Amidst the throngs of people, I was able to meet up with a friend at the start and run with her.  This was Ruth Ann’s first SFM, so it was great to be able to run with her – especially since she was shooting for a sub-four finish.  In the end, she made her sub-four…huge congrats to her!

My story didn’t play out as I had hoped/planned, though I still gritted out a time of 4:07:43 – which, after the initial, post-finish bummer attitude passed, I decided was a respectable finish time (even though it was my slowed 26.2 to date.)

If I said that my foot was pain free at the start, I’d be lying.  It was “there”, but not enough to abandon my goals. So, at the horn I went for it!

I’m won’t recount each mile (you’re welcome), but I stayed pretty close to my mile-by-mile pacing plan through mile 15.  In fact, my 13.1 split was actually just 18 seconds slower than my planned pace.  My foot issue was noticeable, but not painful; however, as the first-half miles went on, it started to increasingly bug me.  Ruth Ann knew about my foot, but I didn’t tell her it was starting to bug me as the first half went on.  After we hit the mile 15 marker, I told her that that my foot was bugging me, I needed to pull over, and for her to keep on going.  I was bummed, because I wanted to pace with her and be there when she finished sub-four, but it wasn’t meant to be…  :(

After we separated, I transitioned to a run/walk/run pattern and still kept up a decent pace; however, I eventually realized that there was no way I could recover the pace or earn a PR.  I considered just “sucking it up”, “embracing the suck”, and “running through the pain”, but didn’t’ want to aggravate my foot, given that I would be running a challenging 50K four weeks later.  It’s funny, I actually thought I saw Ruth Ann ahead and increased my pace for a bit to catch up with her, only to discover that it was someone else wearing a similar singlet! WHA WAH WAH WAHHHH

It’s funny, once I accepted that a PR wasn’t happening and the race was about finishing with a respectable time, I was actually quite content.  I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed that I missed the PR, didn’t get to finish with Ruth Ann, or even grit out a sub-four.  It smarted.  But at the end of the day, it was about finishing, keeping the foot as healthy as possible, and positioning myself/it for recovery and running of the Headlands 50K (plus the other races through the end of the year.)

So, I crossed the line with a 4:07:43 finish time – again, my slowest to date – but knowing that I earned my 52 Club sweatshirt, still with a decent time, and positioned to heal and run well another day.

Some photos from the day:

Fueling. I did my usual, pre-race, carb loading/regimen: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1000 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank about 45 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff, tech shirt from the 2012 Big Sur Half Marathon (I seem to wear this for races alot!), Armpocket armband, Amphipod handheld, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Mio Link heart rate band, Brooks Essential 3.5″ Split Short, CEP Compression Sleeves, Injinji Run 2.0 socks, Altra The One(2) shoes.

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: Good day by any standard, even though I didn’t make my 3:55 goal.  Earned my 52 Club status!
  • Post-race meal: Red Lobster 4-Course Feast – soup, salad, talapia, and a triple-Chocolate Brownie à la Mode!

GIDDY-UP!!

August 10 Trail Run

August 13, 2014 — 2 Comments

Some video from my August 10, 2014 trail run.  The 20-miler went from my house, through Alum Rock Park, into the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, up to the turn-around at Vista Point,…and then back home.

Since it was dark when I left and foggy/cloudy most of the way up to Vista Point, all shots in the video are from my run back down…

This was my first time trying a P.O.V. pole.  Yeah, I know, I need to work on my stability skills…

STRAVA: http://www.strava.com/activities/178303610

Make sure you watch in 1080p HD…

Video created using GoPro Studio and one of their templates

Love that I’m blessed to live where I can step out our garage, head east, and in about six to eight miles enjoy views like these.

Even with the drought-induced brown hills, it’s still beautiful.

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Big Basin 50K Report

July 31, 2014 — 2 Comments

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Back on June 15th, I ran Coastal Trail Runs’ Big Basin 50K.  Yeah, this report is a late – I just haven’t been motivated to blog lately…plus, I wanted to get this posted before my SF Marathon report…which will be out sometime next week!  really.

Event/Race Details:

The Big Basin Marathon/50K is actually the second day of a two-day series of trail runs put on by Coastal Trail Runs.  The day before the marathon and 50K, Coastal holds the Berry Creek Falls Trial Run, which is a three-distance event (10K, 15K, and 25K) held in Big Basin.  The marathon and 50K event travels the popular Skyline to the Sea Trail  that runs from the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, through Big Basin, and ends near the Pacific Ocean at Waddell Beach.  I had never hiked Skyline to the Sea, only visiting Big Basin proper, so running through the tall redwoods and high chaparral was an awesome treat.

Since this is a point-to-point run, they bus runners from a parking lot near the finish line to the start area.  That made for a later than normal start (0900) to account for travel time to the start.  I prefer starting at or before 0800; but, oh well.  The ride to the start was a nice way to take some of the edge and nerves off by talking with fellow runners for the ride to Saratoga Gap.

Weather. The weather was on the warm side, 68 degrees at the start and I’m positive that it warmed up to at least the low 80s over the course of the day.  It was foggy at the coast-side parking lot where we all parked though…meaning no picturesque views of the Pacific!

courseCourse. The course was along the Skyline to the Sea Trail, starting at Saratoga Gap.  Start to finish, the course/trail is a marathon.  To make it 50K, they add a loop, which takes runners up to some rocky sections that are not as shaded with sequoias.  On a hot day, that made for a long run.  It is a beautiful course none the less – rich, green vegetation, amongst towering sequoia trees.  It’s a net downhill, though that doesn’t mean easy!  In fact, I was chatting with a guy before we boarded the buses from the finish area parking and he commented how many people saw the “net downhill” and selected this as their first 50K – only to be outsmarted and often miss the cutoff.  I finished the extra loop at the cutoff and there were quite a few who were being told to go straight (and opt for the marathon distance) vs. taking a right turn to complete the 50K.  There were others who were simply dropping – mostly because of the heat that day.

Management/Support. As with all Coastal events, they have awesome course management, marking, and support.  Each aid station is well stocked and staffed by awesome volunteers.  Management and support is a HUGE reason why they attract so many people to their events.  We are spoiled in the SF Bay Area – we have at least five high quality race directors…if I wanted to (and physically and mentally could), I could run an event almost every weekend year round – LOVE IT!

Finishers. Again, there were actually two distances for the event: a marathon and the 50K.  I do know there were some drops at the Gazos Creek aid station when I came through the second time (you hit it at 25.5km and 32.7km), but there ended up being 112 marathon and 127 50K finishers.  I’d say a pretty decent showing by all!

Post-Race. The post race area was fantastic – great food and in a large area just perfect to chill and recover.  There were quite a few families there waiting for runners to finish.  They had the usual assortment of finger foods, as well as burgers and hot dogs.  I passed on the meats and stuck with a bunch of watermelon slices – they just hit the spot…plus I had my Picky Bar waiting for me in the car!

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal with the event logo and all 50K finishers also received a event coaster – as is the standard at Coastal events.  As for the event shirt, with this report, I am implementing what I’ll call the “Wife’s Event Shirt Rating” or WESR.  Here’s the deal: most event logos are pretty cool, creative, and unique; but, according to my wife, are often displayed on a black or dull colored shirt (read, “the shirt must “POP!”.)  Thus the WESR.  In practice, I’ll go with a scale of one to five (one being meh, five being “it pops“.  The WESR for the Big Basin event shirt was a 3/5: the logo was great, but the shirt color was so close to the logo color on the mens shirt that it is almost lost in the shirt.

My Race

Results:

results

Recap:

This was my second 50K (my first was Horseshoe Lake in 2013), so I did set some goals:

  • Set a new PR
  • Aim for a 6:15 finish time
  • Have fun, of course

In the end, I accomplished two of the three: I did PR (by 2:51!) and had a great time (though not without some challenges.)  I didn’t make 6:15 (I too fell for the “net downhill, I got this” mindset that the “veteran Skyline-to-the-Sea/Big Basin” runner mentioned that morning.)  Oh well – live and learn.

Because of the lateness in writing this report, my detailed recollection of the Big Basin 50K is sketchy now…so no mile-by-mile recount of the day (which is probably a good thing anyway.)  Still, here are a few thoughts/experiences from the run:

  • The curse of the last song listened to.  You probably have had this happen to you – you’re driving somewhere, listening to some great music, and get to your destination.  Inevitably, the last song you were listening to sticks in your head and that is all you hum, sing, whistle, hear in your head for hours or, in my case, 31 miles.  For me, it was Coldplay’s Ink.  OK, I don’t’ know the lyrics completely, but the lines “Got a tattoo said ‘together thru life'”, “Got a tattoo and the pain’s alright”, and “All I know, Is that I love you so, So much that it hurts” – along with the main, catchy, underlying riff being repeatedly hummed – kept my entertained.  For. 31. miles.
  • With a pacing goal of an average of ~12:00/mi, I ran the first six miles way too fast.  I don’t know if this factored into missing my time goal, but it probably burned some energy too soon in the overall run…certainly energy that was needed later in the day.  I wasn’t too far off goal, but still, managing pace is something I’m learning.
  • 20140729-143414-52454773.jpgI tried something different for carrying my Tailwind Nutrition fuel on this run.  Carrying multiple bags of powder fuel is fine, but can be a challenge – I’ve done it and it works OK, but it can be bulky and also messy.  On Facebook, I saw where a guy had mixed his Tailwind with a small amount of water and created a syrup that he carried in a 10oz bottle.  He had marked out the portions to squirt in his empty handheld and then topped it off with water.  This seemed like a great idea, so I tested on a few training runs and went with it for Big Basin.  It actually worked pretty well and I will be using this method moving forward for trail runs where I wear my running vest.  One key is remembering to close the valve on the bottle after you dispense the syrup – which I forgot to do at the last aid station.  I had unused Tailwind syrup in the back pocket of my running vest – which I did not realize until I got home and discovered it also all over the trunk area of my car.  DOOH!
  • Gazos_aidI think I mentioned above that it was HOT that day – from a northern California, SF Bay Area standpoint.  At the mile 20 aid station, I can honestly say that I came the closest to “bonking” as I ever have.  It’s weird, but after 20+ half marathons, 4 marathons, and a 50K, I have yet to bonk.  Call it luck, call it proper nutrition and race economy planning – I have avoided the dreaded “bonk.”  When I got to the mile 20 aid, I was pretty tired and hot.  OK, exhausted was a better description – just look at the comparison of my first pass through the Gazos Aid (red) vs. my second (blue)!  I pretty much hydrated, wandered around, put ice in my Buff, talked with a few people, ate some pretzels, and basically assessed how I was doing.  There wasn’t really any place to sit, since most of the “sitable” spots were taken by others in a similar or worse condition (there were a number of people who were dropping that really needed to sit.)  Actually, I didn’t want to sit, since I knew that if I did, I would stay longer and may not want to get up!  Eventually, I felt better (hydrated, somewhat rested, and cooler,) grabbed a PB&J quarter, and plodded onward.  I felt better about two miles later…
  • This run solidified my love of a number of products:
    • Buff Headwear: I have a growing collection of Buffs – Original, Half-Buff, UV Buffs, Visor Buff, and Polar Reversible Buff.  I think I am up to about eight in my drawer now.  For Big Basin, I wore the Visor Buff – knowing that it would be sunny and hot.  Over the course of the run, I wore the visor in four different modes: cap (with visor flipped up and down), headband, saharine, & neckerchief.  At the tough mile 20 aid station, I even tucked a handful of ice cubes in the saharine to stay cool as I left (it felt soooo good.)  This is such a versatile product – I actually have not worn a running hat in months…
    • Tailwind Nutrition: Similar to not wearing a cap in months, I also have not eaten a gel or chew for run fuel since April.  I’ve converted to using Tailwind exclusively and have used it on a marathon, a 12K, this 50K and all runs longer than 10 miles – with no GI issues, no hunger on long runs, no cramping, and no major bonking, etc.  I have settled on the Mandarin Orange flavor and a mix of 1.5 to 1.75 scoops per handheld seems to be the right mix for me.  Bottom line: this stuff works – I actually have given away the gels and chews I had on the shelf!
    • Altra Shoes: I’ve pretty much switched to Altra shoes now – road and trail.  I have a few other brands in my closet, but have not worn them a a while…  I was planning on wearing my Altra Lone Peak 1.0s for Big Basin, but found that after about 15-20 miles, my feet started hurting near the big toe area.  I picked up a pair of Altra Olympus about a week before Big Basin, thought I’d give them a test to see if they would be OK to wear for the 50K.  I put about 20 miles on them and was sold…and, against the “no new equipment” rule, wore them without any run over 10 miles.  Having worn maximalist shoes before (Hoka Stinson EVO Trail) and already adjusted to Altra’s zero drop made the choice low risk.  The shoes rocked!  My feet felt great at the end and I really didn’t notice any real “grip” issue, which some have said was a difference between the Olympus and the Lone Peaks.  Great shoe!

Some photos from the day:

Fueling. I did my usual, pre-race, carb loading/regimen: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1000 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank about 108 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix, plus a few chips, PBJ quarters, and some Coke at various aid stations.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff Visor, tech shirt from the 2012 Big Sur Half Marathon, Armpocket armband, Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest (with 2 Hydrapak soft flasks,) Ultimate Direction 10oz bottle (for Tailwind solution,) SPOT 3 GPS Tracker, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra Olympus shoes.

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: Second ultra completed, new PR, ready for the next one – which will be the toughest one I’ve done so far!
  • Post-race meal: I got home late afternoon because of traffic on highway 17, so we went to Denny’s for dinner and I devoured a bacon cheeseburger and fries!

GIDDY-UP!!

The Kick

July 9, 2014 — Leave a comment

Good one…

Source: The Curious Brain » Arabic proverb.

This is totally late.  Forgot it was sitting in my drafts queue…

2014_MAY

New Equipment & Such:

  • HydraPak Reversible Elite Reservoir.  In February, I picked up a Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 and really like it.  In March, after trying several bottle options on the vest, I picked up and really liked HydraPak’s SoftFlask, as it solved the “sloshing” effect encountered with standard bottles and was certainly more comfortable when used in the vest since they conform to my body.  This month, I picked up a 2L Reservoir to enable myself to run unsupported for upwards of 6 hours or more (depending upon the climate.)  I wore the reservoir quite a bit on my weekly runs before carrying it on a longer, trail run…just to make sure about fit and ease into carrying the weight on my back.  Overall, I really like it and carried it on my 4-hour long run with no issues.  I didn’t really notice any adverse affect on my posture or any soreness after my run – probably because I had carried it enough to prepare myself/body.  One thing I did notice was that the fluid heats up based on body temp.  When carrying plain water, it can result in a pretty bad taste.  When carrying water with Tailwind, the taste was actually great.  I probably won’t use/carry this on all runs, but will work it in occasionally to make sure I am still OK with the added weight on the vest and my back.

Training Plan(s):

  • A run-focused training plan:
    • MON: 8-10 mile run
    • TUE: 20 mile bike
    • WED-FRI: 5-10 mile runs
    • SAT: REST
    • SUN: Long Run – 12-26 miles

Race/Ride Reports:

  • 5/18: Bay to Breakers [report]

GIDDY-UP!