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Last Saturday, I ran/rode/raced/did(?) the 2014 edition of USA Productions’ South Bay Duathlon in Morgan Hill.  This was my first multisport event and, from the “go big or go home” camp, I went for the International distance (they offered a sprint distance as well.)  This event is the only duathlon that USAP offers and is billed as a “great opportunity to prepare for the upcoming triathlon season, the remainder of the duathlon season, or just enjoy an endurance event in the bay area.”  From my perspective, this was a dipping of the toe into multisport…and I’m hooked.  For sure on duathlons…and most likely on triathlons too – I just need to come to grips/train for the swim.  I do wish USAP would stage more duathlons or offer them as an option for their triathlons as other tri events often do.

Finishers.  This was a small even, which suited me just fine!  International: 113.  Sprint: 149.  There were also relay teams that did the duathlon as well – International: 2.  Sprint: 2.

Weather. The weather was forecast to be excellent for a race.  At start time, it was about 46 degrees with no wind.  At the finish, it was about 61 without any wind.  Again, weather was awesome!

Course. The run and bike courses were both flat loops on paved roads.  The run was a 3.1-mile, rectangular loop and the bike was a 5-mile loop that covered most of the run course, plus a nice ride along the foothills.  I said both courses were flat, but the bike did have a .25-mile “roller” at mile 3.25 of each loop that made the ride portion interesting and gave you a nice push to speed up for the backside of each loop.

DU Courses

Management/Support. Course management, support, and volunteers were excellent! The courses were clearly marked and had signage and cones at the turns where traffic could become a problem (the local roads were not closed for the event.)  The aid stations were spaced great and the volunteers were awesome!  At transition, there were course officials giving directions to make sure things went off without a hitch.

Post-Race. The post race area was great – all in one: the finish line fed right into the food/SWAG/awards area.  They had a great selection of post-race food, including burritos (though I didn’t partake of one.)  There were quite a few people just hanging out after the finish of the International distance and the faster finishers from the Sprint Du.

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal and a non-technical shirt (which was nice for a change.)  Both displayed the logo for the event.

My Race

Results:

results

Strava: Run 1, Bike, Run 2

Recap:

As with my first marathon and 50K, this is a long and detailed report, mainly to capture my thoughts and other stuff about the race for myself.  Read on or skim!

So, SBDU was my first foray into the world of multisport.  The day I would link two sports I have come to love and enjoy: running and cycling. One I’ve become pretty confident at (running) and the other I’d still consider myself a dabbler (cycling.)  Honestly, I was pretty confident about doing well in each of the separate sports (more so with running than biking) – it was the transitions that I was most nervous about.  I had practiced transitions, but not in the space or layout that would be at the race – there is quite a bit of difference between my driveway/garage and the properly distanced/laid out transition area at a race.  First time or not, I did set a goal for the day, based on my overall training and two, dry-run 10K/40K/5K sessions that I did on two Sundays.  More on the goal later.

20140312-210458.jpgThe transition area opened up at 0600, so I got there at about 0550 to make sure I had time to set up, orient, use the porta-potty, warm up, and then calm down before the start time – I wasn’t leaving anything to chance.  As I parked, there were people starting to arrive, so I did the porta-potty thing first – love being “first user”!  After that, I got my kit and went to the transition area.  I thought transition location was supposed to be based on bib number, but when I checked in, they said people could set up wherever.  I decided to grab an end-of-row space in the middle of the area – thinking about having to run out and in wearing my bike shoes (read: less opportunity to slip.)  I set my stuff up pretty quickly, remembering to keep things minimal and also place some visuals to make sure I could easily locate my space: orange backpack and purple towel where I could see them coming in.  I didn’t want to have to count racks coming into transition.

After setting up, I went for a warm-up run up the course and then back into the event area scoping out the entry to transition from the road, the exit from transition, the start area, and the finish line.  I was basically killing time and trying to calm my nerves – most of the people setting up for the international distance looked pretty serious…at least in the eyes of this newbie.  When I got back to the transition area, I hit the porta-potty again, did my final set-up with fuel, and then chatted with a few people in the transition area.  I must have looked OCDish as I was repeatedly checking my transition set-up, on-board fuel placement, and kit so much – nervous energy!

I headed to the start area at about 0650 and hung out.  The international distance started first, with the first of four waves starting at 0700 and my wave (#4) starting at 0712.  The Sprint distance didn’t start until 0930, so most of those people were not even at the event at that point.  I watched the first three waves head out then lined up with my fellow “males 40 and over” competitors – a total of 48 of us.  As we all lined up, I looked at people’s placement and there were definitely three “sub-waves” in the final wave…I lined up in between the first and second ones, knowing that I planned to try for a Run 1 pace right around 8:00 or just slightly below.

Run 1

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Lookin’ serious on loop 2 of R1

My plan was to go easy on the first run, keeping the pace at or just under 8:00/mile.  My pacing during the two dry-runs was faster, but I didn’t want to have an awesome Run 1 and sucky rest of the race.  “At or just under 8:00”…yeah right.  I went out like I was running a 10K only and when the first mile split buzzed on my Garmin, I saw 7:33…I thought, “dial it back, Dennis.”  I tried to slow and ended up with a 7:44 for the second mile.  The final mile of the 3.1-mile loop is a downhill, so I naturally sped up to a 7:23 pace.  For the second loop, I again tried to dial it in as best I could, but ended up with miles one and three being faster than the same segments on the first loop.  Coming into T1, I said to myself, “Hopefully I this wasn’t the best part of my race”…having seen the Garmin buzz mile 6 as a 7:16 pace!

One funny thing and one total goof happened on Run 1.

  • Akk!

    Akk!

    Funny: At about mile one, I noticed that my race number belt was positioned such that when I wanted to get to my GU packets and salt tabs from my jersey, it would be tough.  I decided to adjust on the run and ended up popping off one of the little tabs that secure the number to the belt.  I saw it fly off and spin around on the ground and instinctively kept running for about a few yards then decided that it would be disastrous to let the bib flap about during the rest of the race (~33 miles.)  I did a quick loop, grabbed the tab, and then picked the pace back up – securing the bib back on the belt!  I ended up twisting the belt when I put it back on, but the bib was at least secure.

  • Total Goof: Actually this was a dumb error.  One that, as a runner who knows his abilities and needs, should have never happened.  Truth is, I am a sweaty runner and have learned that I need electrolytes to avoid cramping in my calves on longer runs or training sessions.  Knowing this, I brought my 12 oz. handheld filled with GU Brew for run 1.  Before the race, looking around at my fellow runners, I noticed that most were not carrying any hydration – I assumed that they would be relying on the two aid stations that were on the run course for necessary hydration.  I caved to peer pressure (place on my by myself!) and left the handheld where it sat in the picture above…and paid for it on the bike.  Stupid, dumb, rookie error on my part.

T1

“helmet, shoes, shoes, GO!” is what I kept repeating in my head over the final .2 miles of the 10K.  I wanted to make sure things went well in the first of two transitions – the aspect that I was unsure and nervous about for the race.  Things went pretty good on T1.  The only thing that tripped me up was getting my left bike shoe on and then mounting and clipping in at the mount line.  Ahead of the race, I pictured myself slipping while running in my bike shoes out of transition and purposely took the run out a bit slower to eliminate that possibility.  T1 = all good!

Bike

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“OK, which loop is this?”

After getting clipped in my pedals (FINALLY!), I headed out for the bike.  The result of that total goof/dumb error above manifested itself within the first two miles: a cramp in my left calf.  It would nag me for about 15 miles until it finally worked out for the most part.  Cramp or not, I kept going;’ easing up when it started to pull too much, but still tying to stick with my pacing plan of about 17 mph.  I popped two salt tabs and drank most of my 20 ozs of GU Brew electrolyte drink during that time.  I did leave about 2 oz. for the final mile to hydrate up before T2.  I am not a strong cyclist, so I did not expect too much from the bike portion.  My training rides on much hillier terrain average about 17 mph, so I was at least hopping for something along that pace or better.  I ended up with an overall pace of 17.5 mph and believe I could have been faster had I not been nursing the calf cramp for 3/5’s of the bike.

As expected, the little .25-mile “roller” at the backside of each loop was the slowest portion of my bike – probably for most as well.  Still, I did pretty well on it, even with doing three iterations with my calf cramp.

All-in-all, the bike went well.  I gritted out a decent pace in spite of the calf cramp and ended up with a faster 40K than both dry-runs sessions.

T2

Just as I did for T1, over the final .5 mile of the bike, I kept repeating my transition in my head: “Rack-It, helmet, beanie, shoes, shoes, grab visor, GO!”  Things went very smooth – no trips running in with the bike shoes.  My shoes straps didn’t give me too much trouble taking them off – my shoes have two Velcro and one clicker-type strap that can be a pain to get out of in a hurry.  T2 = excellent!

Run 2

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Smilin’ in the home stretch!

Over the last mile of the bike, I weighed taking the handheld on run 2 or leaving it – knowing that it was still sitting on my towel in transition.  Since I had worked out the calf cramp and the final run was a single loop with two aid stations, I decided to leave the handheld.  I also decided to stick with my original pacing plan to maintain as close to a 7:30 pace as possible; but, decided that I would slow up or walk if the calf cramped again.  I felt good about that plan and went with it!

It’s weird, coming off the bike in my training, I am always faster…I may feel totally slow…but I consistently end up with a faster pace than on run 1.  I wasn’t sure this would hold true with the cramping I had on the bike, but I went for it out of T2.  I felt good on mile one, ending up with a 7:14 pace; however, I really felt tired on mile two.  It was around 60 degrees by then and that could have contributed to that feeling as well…it’s been a while since I’d run in temps that warm.  I ended up speed walking through aid station one, again at a point when the course narrowed through a dead end fence that separated two roads, and then again at aid station two.  I ended up with an 8:20 pace for mile two – still not bad in the scheme of things.  I probably should have flipped the mile one and two paces coming out of T2.  Mile three on the loop was flat/slight downhill and, since I was felling good again, I decided to go for it.  I went from an 11:00 min pace at mile 1.9 to an average pace of 7:20 for mile three and a final kick pace of 6:49 to the finish.

I crossed the finish line (smiling!) , turned in my timing chip, accepted my medal, took the ice-cold bottle of water and chamois that they were handing out, and kept walking to cool down.

First Duathlon complete: BOOYAH!

Overall, I am very, very happy with my whole race – each segment and transition.  The goof/dumb error was the only aspect that I would change, of course.  I believe the pacing on run 2 would have been different if I had not cramped on the bike.  Running in my bike shoes proved to be a non-issue and the transitions went very good for my first multisport.

Oh, back to my goal for the day.  My overall time goal was 2:40, based on times of 2:45 and 2:46 during my two dry-runs.  I beat that by 1:49 and expect my time would have been even better had I hydrated properly and not cramped on the bike (at least that is what I’m telling myself.)

Fueling. Pre-race, carb loading: I modified my normal routine, increasing my calorie intake by an additional 200 each day: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +700 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: I ran out of bagels, so I ate two slices of Sheepherders bread with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours, a GU at -45 min, a GU & salt tab at -15 minutes, and GUs(2) and additional salt tabs (3) along the way.  I drank 20 oz. electrolytes during the bike portion and took some water/electrolyte from the aid stations during the run segments.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Adidas running beanie (R1/bike)/Headsweats visor (R2), cheapo aviator sunglasses (SWAG from Picky Bars!), Pactimo Ascent bike jersey, Road Runner Sports arm warmers, Picky Bars #TeamGreen wrist band (more SWAG from Picky Bars!), Road ID (Slim), TYR Ironman Tri Shorts, FuelBelt Gel-Ready Race Number belt, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra 3-Sum shoes (R1/R2), Shimano SH-RO87 Road Shoes, 2012 Felt Z85 road bike.

It felt weird but, for the first time in a race, I did not wear my iPhone (in my Armpocket armband) during the race.  I read that carrying cell phones is against the rules in triathlon and I DID NOT want to be penalized…or look like a total newbie.  Because of that, I took a grand total of two pictures at the event – I didn’t even take the traditional start/finish line photos.  I was bummed after, but there will be other races.  Here are some photos – some I took, some I bought from the event photographer:

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: I did my first multisport!!!
  • Post-race meal: Did a quick clean up post race and drove to meet my wife and mother-in-law for lunch.  Treated myself to a big BBQ cheeseburger & fries!
  • More Multisport events?  So, I will admit it – I am hooked.  I confess, I spent a portion of my lunch on Monday looking at triathlons in the local area (gulp).  That said, I don’t know that I will do any other multisports in 2014 – at least as it stands right now.  I have some other running goals that I’ve set (blog post to follow) and don’t think I can work in the proper training for a duathlon – and certainly not for a triathlon.  I may re-evaluate in a few months (hehe); but I can definitely see adding multisport races to the mix in 2015 – both duathlon and (gulp) triathlon.

GIDDY-UP!!

Race photos taken by Captivating Sports Photos

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It was rainy for my 5-mile, training run yesterday and drizzly for this morning’s 8-mile.  Rain doesn’t stop me from running – at least not yet.  As I headed out both times, and all during my run, I kept thinking, “It’s training runs like these that made the rain on Sunday something to plan for, not worry about.”

Last Sunday, I ran 2014 edition of the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon.  This was the 31st running of this event, which is presented by Pamakid Runners Club.  This was my second running of this event, with my first being last year. 2013’s race ended up being my half marathon PR.  It was a great day and I was hoping for something even better in 2014…

Weather. The weather was forecast to be rainy and it was.  The rain varied in intensity, but there was liquid falling from the time I left the parking garage at the de Young Museum for the start area until I walked back into the garage after the race and jog back from the finish line.  The temp was 45 (fells like 42) at the start and it warmed up only slightly over the course of the time I was at the venue.  As for wind, it varied from 5 mph to something close to maybe 10 along the coast – which was a headwind for miles 8-10 and a tailwind for miles 11-12.75.

courseCourse. The course is a net downhill – read: FAST!  It starts in Golden Gate Park near the de Young, heads east for two miles around the Park’s panhandle, then heads back west through the Park.  Once you get to the pacific (~mile seven), it turns south and runs along the coast on the Great Highway.  At mile 10, runners make a u-turn and head back north.  At mile ~12.75, runners make right turn and hit the final stretch, which is a slight incline…just to tease the runner.  The whole course is on the road.

Management/Support. Course management, support, and the volunteers were AWESOME!  The rain did not impact that aspect at all.  While I didn’t use the water/electrolye stops, they were clearly marked and, just ahead of them, a volunteer was letting runners know there were ahead – which is great.  I also liked that at each mile marker, a volunteer is calling out the elapsed gun time.

Post-Race.  The post race area was excellent.  The post-race shoot and expo were laid out great – clearly marked as to what was where (water, shirts, etc.) and good flow. Despite the rain, there was a full assortment of SWAG (food samples, etc.) and info/exhibitor booths to browse around.  I actually only noticed one booth that was empty, so all the vendors/exhibitors showed up even though it was pretty wet.

Medal/Shirt.  The race didn’t offer finisher medals, which is actually standard for this event.  They offered them last year, since it was the 30th anniversary.  The event shirt was actually a very nice, long-sleeved, cotton shirt (photo below.)  I actually like the 2014 shirt better than the 2013 version.

My Race

Results:

  • Garmin time: 1:42:50 at an 7:46/mile pace [GPS distance: 13.3]
  • Official time: 1:42:42 at an 7:51/mile pace [Official distance: 13.1]
  • Standings: #1 among 22 half marathons
  • Strava

results

Recap:

20140206-202727.jpgFor this race, I had one goal: a new half marathon PR.  Based on last year’s time and my training since then, especially the last month, I knew a PR was totally achievable.  I also knew that I had written/felt that way before (2013’s SJ RnR half and ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes marathon for example) and totally blew it in execution.  With that in mind, I didn’t set a wildly aggressive PR goal, but one that I felt would be a challenge yet within reach: 1:43:45 – which would be a PR by one minute.  So I planned for that, working out a pacing plan using the free “Generic Flat Half Marathon” spreadsheet from MyMarathonPace.com – a great resource…check them out. I wrapped it in packing tape (DIY waterproofing) and taped it to my bottle for reference during the race.

Start time was 0800, so I planned to get to the venue by at least 0700. I made the drive to San Francisco getting to the de Young museum parking garage and chilling for a bit. I suited up I the car (compression sleeves, etc.) and headed out to the start area. I hung out in the warm and dry car too long and had to rush around to hit the port-a-potty, gear check, and run back to the start.

I lined up toward the 8:00 pace section and waited with the growing mass of runners for Go Time. I had layered jackets for the walk to the start (my Better Than Naked for the race, covered by an L.L. bean waterproof jacket), changing in the port-a-potty to my race kit and covering up with a garbage bag until just after the National Anthem. It was nice to start the race with a dry torso at least – my head and feet were wet already. No worries though – I’m fine with running I the rain! The start bell (a la cable car) rang just after 8 and we were off!

As I thought about my race after I finished and now, days later, I don’t actually remember much. I got in a zone and stayed there most of the race. I do know that as I started, it was crowded and quite a few people had lined up in a faster corral than they should have – I was passing quite a few people for the first few miles, doing the zig zag/weave thing through traffic.

The miles clicked by and I was on a faster than planned pace, but kept going. I felt good and wanted to stay strong and consistent on the first half, since it has slight rollers, and prepare for miles six and seven, which are the speedy downhill section. I didn’t even look at my bottle until mile six just to check things out.

I was doing great, but didn’t want to mess things up too much for the second half. Going out too fast would definitely result in a tired me on the second half. So, I tried to bring the pace back to plan. I did, though I was tiring on the second half. I ended up taking a number of brief walk breaks on the second half and mile eight was my slowest mile at 8:14, though I kicked it sub-8 for miles 11 and 12. Mile 13 was at 8:06 as I was getting tired.

grimaceI crossed the line at 1:42:42 with a grimace on my face, according to the race photos (scary pic to the right.)  I walked for a bit before hitting the port-a-potty and post-race expo. So, I beat my goal time of 1:43:45. Actually, my gun time was 1:43:44 – one second faster than goal! I was tired at the finish, but not totally wrecked – which bugs me now, because maybe I could have given more or pushed through a few of the quick walk breaks I took. Next year. I think I can set a new PR for sure.  Hmmmm?

After milling around the post-race area, I did what I did last year and ran an easy, 2-mile, recovery run back to the de Young parking garage. This difference this year was that it was still raining! Last year’s weather was sunny and cool. They did have buses back to the start area, but doing an easy run was a nice way to unwind!

Fueling. As for carb loading, I followed my normal routine: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +500 calories above my normal day. I also followed my usual race fueling plan: bagel and jelly at -3 hours, GU at -45 min, GU & salt tab at -15 minutes, and GUs and additional salt tabs along the way – plus 20 oz. electrolytes during the race.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Road Runner Sports cap, finishers tech shirt from R&R San Francisco half, The North Face Better Than Naked jacket, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Pocket, ASICS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra 3-Sum shoes.

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: New PR! [happy dance]
  • Post-race meal: Kept it low key and brought home McDonald’s…went with the bacon and cheese quarter pounder, large fries, and a diet coke.

GIDDY-UP!!

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On January 1st, I ran Brazen Racing’s New Year’s Day Half Marathon in Castro Valley.  This event was the partner for the New Year’s Eve (Almost) event (NYE) held on December 28.  As with all Brazen events, this one had the usual distances to select from: a 5K, a 10K, and the half marathon (which also includes a hiker option for non-runners.)  As with the NYE event, this one was sold out as well, boasting a great spread of finishers in each of the distance options: 455 in the 5K, 352 in the 10K, 26 in the half hiker division, and 362 in the half marathon run – for a whopping total of 1,195 people starting 2014 out right!

The weather was great for a run and almost a repeat of the NYE event: a brisk 32 degrees at the start with partly cloudy skies and no wind to speak of. The clouds burned off and it probably warmed up to the low to low 50s by the time I finished.

courseThe New Year’s Day event is run on the same overall course as the New Year’s Even one, except that the half marathon course is run the opposite direction – or clockwise around Lake Chabot and through sections of Chabot Regional Park. As with the New Year’s Eve event, I ran this event last New Year’s Day, so I was familiar with the course already.  The nice part is that the mondo hills on miles 2 to 4 from NYE are downhill and fast for this race…though there is still a fair amount of uphill on the balance of the course!

As with NYE, course management, support, and the volunteers were AWESOME!

My Race

Results:

  • Garmin time: 2:07:50 at an 10:00/mile pace [GPS distance: 12.8]
  • Official time: 2:07:42 at an 9:41/mile pace [Official distance: 13.17]
  • Standings: 19 among 21 half marathons
  • Strava

results

Recap:

For this race, I had the same race goals I did for NYE: Enjoy myself (run when I felt like it, walk when I needed to) and try to beat my time from last year.  I did not intend to push myself too hard as I was just getting over a head cold and stayed up too late the night before!

I followed the same schedule as NYE and got to Lake Chabot by 0700, hit the still-fresh pota potty, picked up my bib and shirt, then hung out in my warm car until about 0800.  At about 0800, I went to the start area, hit the porta-potty again, milled around the crowd, and then lined up around the mid-pack area of the start corral.  The start horn blew at 0830 and we were off.  I stayed on pacing plan and took it easy…almost a little slower at first than NYE.  I tried to run a bit slower on this race to see if I could walk less.  In general, this was pretty successful, based on comparing the stats on Strava.  That said, this direction is somewhat easier in my opinion.  All that said, it was a fun one!

As for carb loading, I’ll give myself a small e for effort.  I had pancakes and spaghetti on 12/31, but New Year’s Eve was just too hard to focus on carbs.  Oh well, not an “A” race, so I accepted that!!  I did follow my usual race fueling plan: bagel and jelly at -3 hours, GU at -45 min, GU & salt tab at -15 minutes, and GUs and additional salt tabs along the way – plus 20 oz. electrolytes during the race.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Polar Reversible Buff (worn as a cap), tech shirt from the NYE half, Road Runner Sports arm sleeves, Garmin 910XT, tech touch knit gloves from Target (I’m secure enough to admit that they are women’s; but hey, they’re cheap and work!), Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Pocket, ASICS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Drymax Maximum Protection Trail Running socks, Hoka One One Stinson EVO trail shoes.

The cool thing was that if people finished the NYE and this event, they received a third medal that formed a “MEGA-MEDAL” for the event duo (pictured below.)  I think this is pretty nice – and Brazen’s medals are always cool anyway.

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: Great race, though I only met one race goal: I had a nice run.  I actually finished 21 second slower than my 2013 time.
  • Post-race meal: As with the NYE event, after cooling down (and cleaning up slightly and changing into the race shirt I just earned in the parking lot), I headed back toward home and met my wife and mother-in-law for lunch at the same local diner.  My feast: PANCAKES!  Followed by potato skins, a salad, filet Mignon, baked potato, and part of a big mountain chocolate fudge cake at Black Angus later that evening.

GIDDY-UP!!

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On December 28th, I ran Brazen Racing’s New Year’s Eve (Almost) Half Marathon in Castro Valley.  This was my final race for 2013, my 11th half marathon for the year, and 15th race for 2013 (whew!). As with all Brazen events, the New Year’s Eve (Almost) event had several distances to select from: a 5K, a 10K, and the half marathon (which also includes a hiker option for non-runners.)  Brazen events have really grown in popularity over the years and this event proved that for sure.  The final event email from the RDs shared that the event was sold out with over 1,000 registered for the various distances.  Sold out it was, boasting a great spread of finishers in each of the distance options: 423 in the 5K, 344 in the 10K, 24 in the half hiker division, and 391 in the half marathon run – for a whopping total of 1,182 motivated people!

The weather was great for a run: a brisk 32 degrees at the start with clear skies and no wind to speak of. It probably warmed up to the low to low 50s by the time I finished.  The thing about this course is that it’s nice in the sun, but cccoold in the shade…and the first three miles have quite a bit of shade!

courseThe half marathon course is hilly and a mix of paved and dirt trails (30 and 70% respectively) that circles Lake Chabot and runs through sections of Chabot Regional Park in the counterclockwise direction. I ran this event last New Year’s Eve, so I was familiar with the course already.  READ: I remembered the hilly first five miles.  Last year, it had just rained, so that put a different slant on the course.  This year, with the absence of rain for the Bay Area, it was dry and actually hard pack in many sections – though the section through the eucalyptus grove was covered in bark and leaf debris, which made for interesting running!

It goes without saying: all Brazen events have superior course management and marking; and their volunteers and aid stations are awesome. The finish area had great food and drinks as well and offered a great environment to recover and hang out with other runners – also a standard at Brazen events.

My Race

Continue Reading…

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Last Saturday, I ran the ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes Marathon in Fremont – my 3rd marathon. The run was put on by Zoom Running Events, which always does a fantastic job. The event actually had four dinstances: a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon, and the full marathon. Zoom events are typically smaller than the other events in the area (which is nice) and the four distances had 66, 63, 128, and 74 finishers respectively.

The weather was perfect: a brisk 37 degrees at the start with perfectly clear skies and no wind to speak of. It probably warmed up to the low to mid 50s by the time I finished.

courseThe marathon course was the same as the half marathon course only we ran it twice. I was familiar with the course already, since it was the same course that I ran when I did the Zoom Quarry Lakes half back in July. It consisted of a loop/pair of out-and-backs that took place in the Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation area and along the Alameda Creek Trail. The course was a mix of crushed rock and paved trails that was nice and flat.

As with all Zoom events, course management and marking was great! Volunteers at Zoom events and the aid stations are always excellent and ZombieRunner Quarry Lakes was no different. The volunteers are friendly and encouraging and the snacks are great quality, with a good variety, and they never run out! The finish area had great food and drinks as well and offered a great environment to recover and comiserate with other runners. The only downside being that the majority of the runners did the shorter disntaces, so by the time we marathoners finished, it was pretty dead in the finish area. (not that it mattered to us…we were just jazzed to finish!)

My Race

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On Thanksgiving, I ran the 10K distance at the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. This was my third time running this annual event, which has become one of the largest timed Turkey Trots in the US. The event has several races, but the main events drew 11,823 finishers for the 5k and 7,509 for the 10k – by my calculations, 200 and 403 less than 2012 (respectively.)  Still, I great crowd of people!

The weather was perfect: just a touch of high clouds and cool (46 degrees at start time), with no wind. I wore shorts, but sported my arm warmers.  Doesn’t get any better than that!

courseThe course started at the intersection of Santa Clara and Market in downtown San Jose and made its way around downtown, out on the Alameda, near the edge of the Rose Garden neighborhood, then back toward downtown, finishing just east of the SAP Center.  It’s a flat course, unless one counts the train underpass near the SAP Center.

The post-race festival was great and very organized – tons of water, bananas, etc and staffed with quite a few volunteers.  I didn’t really stay too long. I grabbed a some SWAG, browsed quickly, picked up the requisite Sports Basement coupon, and then headed home.  Mission accomplished – the next mission awaited: PANCAKES!!!

My Race

Results:

  • Garmin time: 46:38 at an 7:23/mile pace [pace delta due to gps distance of 6.3]
  • Official time: 46:39 at an 7:31/mile pace
  • Standings: 1st among 3 10Ks
  • Strava

results

Recap:

I’ll lay this right out there: My goal for the race was to set a new PR.  So, anything under 47:55 would be success.

To that end, I was all business for this one.  I got to the parking lot about an hour and a half early and just waited in my car keeping warm until about 40 minutes from start time.  My plan was to:

  • Stop by a porta potty
  • Take my “start line” photo
  • Do some warm up strides along a side street
  • Find a spot in the 7-8 minute per mile corral
  • Wait
  • Then GO!

Everything went according to plan…no deviations.  I was mission-minded…

My corral selection was made after learning from last year: In a large race like this, when allowed to self-seed, people go toward the front or to a corral that is faster than they are.  Last year, I observed that many of the people in the 7-8 corral probably should have been in the 9 minute and above corrals.  My plan: If I wanted to avoid weaving in and out of traffic and have a faster start and overall time, I needed to move up!  So, that is what I did – and I still ended up weaving around people…just not as much as it could have been if I seeded in the 8-9 minute corral, playing it safe.

For the first mile, I wanted to maintain at least an 8-minute pace to conserve my energy and allow for start line crowd weaving – yeah right.  Here’s how the race went down:

  • When the first mile beeped on my Garmin, it read a 7:30 average pace…gulp.  Don’t screw this up Dennis.  I knew that I needed to finish with better than a 7:43 pace overall, so that was where I wanted to stay close to on my pacing.
  • Mile 2 beep: 7:25.  Dennis, DO NOT screw this up.
  • Mile 3 beep: 7:27.  Dennis, half way there, you can back off just a bit – don’t blow this.
  • Mile 4 beep: 7:27.  OK, I’m pacing OK and am not really tiring.  Keep it going – keep it steady.
  • Mile 5 beep: 7:29.  OK, still in control…still feeling good…still under 7:43.  Feel free to kick it if you can!
  • Mile 6 beep: 7:14.  WEEEEEEEEEE!
  • Finish line: 46:38.  BOOYAH!!!!

Mission accomplished – a new PR…by 1:16!  GOBBLE, GOBBLE!

Pre-race & race-day fuel: I didn’t do any specific, pre-race carb loading. I just followed my normal fat/carb/protein ratio goals leading up to the race, didn’t eat anything ahead of the race, and ate a GU  and took a salt cap before the race.  As far as liquids, I have been training the past month to run six to seven miles without fluids.  I usually carry a water bottle when I run, but didn’t this time, since I felt comfortable without it at shorter distances.  My plan was to grab a water, if I needed it, at one of the aid stations.  I didn’t need it, so I was glad I left the handheld at home.

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: A new 10K PR – ‘nuf said!  OK, I’m also, very happy with my placing…even though I race against myself.
  • Post-race meal: Short stack of buttermilk pancakes and two scrambled eggs!

GIDDY-UP!


Training Journal – 12/2/12:

  • Current plan: ZRQL Marathon Training Plan – Taper Week 2 of 3
  • Today’s session: 20-mile ride
  • Comments: I rode for 1:22:01 for 23.3 miles @ 17.1 mph avg & avg cadence of 84 [Strava]

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Last Sunday, I ran the US Half Marathon up in San Francisco – my 19th half marathon. It was the twelfth edition of this picturesque run that features a run over and back across the Golden Gate Bridge. For a big city event, they do limit the runners to 5,000 – for the 12th edition, there were 3,510 finishers: 1,809 women and 1,701 men.

The weather was perfect: about 46 degrees at the start with perfectly clear skies. There wasn’t too much wind to speak of at the start area, though I wondered what it would be like crossing the Golden Gate. Heading North on the Bridge, there wasn’t any wind to speak of at all. Coming back across, it was barely noticeable. It probably warned up to the low 60s as the run progressed.

courseIn a word, the course was beautiful! The perfect weather made it even better.  The course started and ended in the Aquatic Park area, making its way along the Bay front, up into The Presidio, across the Golden Gate and back, along the Bay front again, and then finishing back at Aquatic Park. Most of the course was paved, but it did include a short section of dirt trail (heading from Vista Point, under the Bridge to the South bound access road) and sections of crushed rock on parts of the San Francisco Bay Trail. It was a really great course that was well marked and managed by volunteers and SFPD – both of whom did a great job. Volunteers at the aid stations were also fantastic, shouting out which side the water and Gatorade were one.  Incidentally, this event used the same course that the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco did back in April – that event actually used to be called the US Half Marathon 2 (The Other Half) and was managed by the same RDs – I think RnR simply bought the rights to the event and re-branded.

The post-race expo was great: food, drink, SWAG, etc.  They gave each runner a reusable bottle vs. handing out bottled water, which was great/green.  Huge water containers were located just past the finish, so this didn’t impact recovery at all.  They also gave each runner a Peasant Pie, which was excellent – going to have to try them again.  I got my SWAG, looked around, rested for a bit, and left before the traffic got too heavy. I parked at Ghirardelli Square, though the noticeable difference between the RnR event and this one was the parking.  In April, RnR offered $10 parking at Ghirardelli if you left before 1pm – I paid $32 for the exact same spot and probably the same amount of time (OUCH!)

My Race

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