Archives For Race Reports

I gave up writing race/run reports over a year ago and have been totally fine with that decision.  I just wasn’t motivated to write them anymore and, quite frankly, I figured I was one of only a few people who read them anyway.  Then I did the Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing 50 Miler this past Sunday.  As someone who has only been running for four years now; after something that epic, how could I not write “something” about that experience.  So here goes…

I should have known that the day would be “different” when I got out of my car at the Christmas Tree Point parking lot on San Francisco’s Twin Peaks and heard (then saw) the large group of people gathered near the overlook shouting prayers in Spanish at the top of their lungs…coupled with the smell of marijuana wafting from several of the cars parked in the darker corners of the lot.  Neither group garnered any acknowledgement from me (other than from my ears and nose): my goals were the same ones I always have when I get to a race/run venue: find a bathroom, check in, wait…yes, in that very and exacting order.

During my “wait” period, I sat in my car for a bit to keep warm and dry, gathered my kit, then snapped a few photos as I waited with my fellow “fat ass” runners for the call to gather.  The HST F&L has been around for 31 years (though this was the 30th running) and, this being my first, I wasn’t sure what to expect: a tight-knit group of grizzled vets, groups of people who traveled together for the event, loners (like me) who were up for the new challenge, or any of the many other categories of those one sees at running events.  I had a fair assumption that this would not draw too many from the usual running crowds given its “fat ass” designation: no medal, shirt, course markings, and the aid stations were listed as “possible” in some cases.  Still, there was a great cross-section of runners that gathered at the start, with quite a few who knew each other from previous iterations of the HST F&L or from other SF Bay Area ultra events.  I recognized a few, but intended to meet some new folks during the day.

Before I dive into the narrative (don’t worry, it’s not that bad), I want to share three things:

  • First, and foremost, thank you to RD Chihping Fu for organizing and hosting this amazing event.  He is the latest in a long line of great RDs for HST F&L (most of whom were there as well and worked the aid stations) and, for a Fat Ass event, this was up there with many of the “official” ones.  It was evident that you did this from a heart for the running community and, we thank you.
  • Second, a massive thank you to the volunteers!  Thank you Chihping, Keith, Stan, Michael, Rob, Larry, Steve, Hollis (RD Emeritus), Kap’n Kirk, Vladimir, Tom, and others for giving up a portion of your Sunday to staff the aid stations and cheer us all on – and, in a few cases, kick us out of the aid.  Oh, and in my particular case, wait for me to arrive, catch a break, then plod on.  A special thank you to Stan Jensen (whose site, run100s.com, I have frequented A LOT since making the jump to ultras) for giving me a headlamp at the mile 37 aid – I did need it heading up Twin Peaks Blvd against traffic in the fading daylight.
  • Finally, a bit about the run – as most of us probably are not aware of this great event.  The Hunter S Thompson Fear and Loathing 50 Kilos / 50 Miles event is a Fat Ass run that follows San Francisco’s famous 49 Mile Scenic Drive, taking runners on an urban adventure past or through almost every tourist spot in the City.  Dubbed “A Savage Journey through the Heart of the American Dream since 1985“, as you’d imagine, given the location, terrain, route, and many other aspects, the runner does make a journey of sorts.  Being a fat ass event with no course markings, runners follow the iconic “49 Mile Scenic Drive” signs for the most part as well as using printed turn-by-turn direction sheets…truly making it a run where one needs to pay attention to the standard “runner” stuff (pacing, fuel, etc.) AND the course/route you must follow.  There is a 10-hour cut off, though reading the results ahead of the race (and thankfully in my case this year), there seems to be some amount of leniency on the part of the RDs.

Anyway, with final instructions given and a few acknowledgments made, we were off at 7:02 am.  Woohoo – the easy part: circling the Twin Peaks, then down the hill toward the Savage Journey!

I’m not going to give a mile-by-mile assessment (quite frankly, I find those boring and really don’t remember each and every mile anyway); but, below are some photos I snapped along the way (I picked up an Olympus TG-4 camera as an early Christmas present for myself ahead of the day, so I purposely took more pictures than I do at events) along with some memories.

For the TL;DR crowd:

  • Total Miles: 50.4
  • Finish time: 10:08:16 – moving time was 9:36:18.  My goal was sub-10 (between 8:45 and 9:30); so, ugh…but I got it done!
  • Place: DFL, 9 out of 9, though there was one DNF.
  • Issues: None really – it was a memorable and amazing day.  I will be back next year.
  • Strava activity

For the rest of us, here goes.

Photos are in three groups – click on the first photo to see the images and any comments.  More details about my run after the photos…

Group 1:

Group 2:

Group 3:

Things that went right:

  • Sticking with a group during most of the first half.  I typically train and run alone, but did enjoy pacing with various groups during the first half.  With a 4:45 cutoff for 50-mile runners at mile 25, I needed the pacing.  From about mile 20 to 25, I stuck with a speedier group that got me there at the 4:29 mark.  One cool thing that I only learned after the fact was that one of the people was Errol “The Rocket” Jones – an ultra running legend and the Patron Saint of Pacing.  He was nursing a hamstring, but was still killing it and shouting directions and encouragement at the rest of the group.
  • Shoes: I’m a dedicated Altra wearer and picked up a pair of Paradigm 1.5s a while back specifically for this event. I really like them and headed into the day with just over 240 miles on them.  They fit great and I didn’t have any issues at all during the run. Post-run, I had one toe that was tender, but nothing serious.  These are keepers…
  • Fuel: I used Tailwind the whole time – 2,000 calories worth over the ten hours.  Since this was effectively a self-sustained event, I did the pre-mixed solution thing in two 10oz bottles that I carried in my vest.  It worked great and I felt good all day.  I did eat a few goodies at some aid stations – it was hard to pass up a small piece of birthday cake for “The Rocket” at Marina Green, potatoes at Skyline, and the PB&J along Sunset.
  • Supplies.  Anticipating my phone would die at some point, I brought my portable charger – just in case.  I ended up needing it at around mile 30.  I stopped in a restroom and connected it up, dropping the zip-bagged combo back in the vest for about an hour.  A must-have for all future ultra events…
  • Kit: I opted for carrying a handheld and using the vest for other stuff: carrying the two Tailwind bottles (one up front, one in the back), my camera in the other front bottle pocket, and other supplies in the back.  I wore my Armpocket to carry my phone for easy access.
  • No Chaffing!!!!  Fifty miles, in the rain (for the most part), in wet clothes and shoes, wearing a running vest  – all without any chaffing, blisters, or other bodily marks counts is a victory for the day in any book.  Injinji socks, Body Glide, Pro-Tec Nipple Protectors, and Vaseline…for the win!
  • No injuries.  Aside from the normal, post-run soreness, injury free!  Four day out now and I’m walking normal again!

Things that didn’t go so right:

  • Not sticking with a group after the mile 25 aid station.  For all the great reasons in the “what went right” section above, I should have sucked it up and stayed with the other two 50-mile runners out of that aid station.  They were faster than me, but I think if I had at least stayed within sight of them, it would have been a motivator.  Again, I run alone most of the time, so that wasn’t the issue – it was just tough keeping myself motivated to run when I probably could have instead of walking too frequently.  That said, given the smaller number of runners and my skill/training level, this may not be possible next time (yes, i just typed next time), so the next bullet is necessary.
  • Training.  Ahead of this run, I should have focused more on longer road training – mainly from a completion time goal vs. endurance one (which I don’t have too much of an issue with.)  That event-specific training vs. weekend longer-distance, trail runs where I walked too much would have been better and may have ensured a better finish time (and one that I KNOW I could have accomplished.)  I had my heart set on a sub-10 hour finish – feeling that I could have gritted out between a 8:45 and 9:30 finish time.
  • Cell phone: It was usable, but when my case and the surface gets wet, there is no easy way to use the dang thing.  Next time, I need to somehow figure out how to carry a cloth or something that can be kept dry to wipe the thing off – or just give up, like I did after a while.  Sheesh, I was running anyway, c’mon dude!

Book-ending the “different” day, when I got back to my car, the group of people praying had long gone…though the smell of marijuana wafting from several cars parked in the darker corners of the lot remained…  As with the morning, that didn’t garner any acknowledgement from me (other than from my nose): my goal was to savor the accomplishment, safely drive home, hug my wife, and eat a big cheeseburger and fries…yes, in that very and exacting order.

All in all: a great day.  Without a doubt, my most memorable event in four years of running.  Hands down.  Serious.  Amen.

There is probably a lot more I could write and, I’m sure, more will come to mind after I hit “publish” – but one thing is for certain: Hunter S. Thompson Fear and Loathing 50 Miler v2016 – I’ll be back for sure!

Giddy-up!

Advertisements

IMG_9915

Six-Word Race Report*:

No PR, but best 50K yet!

Event/Race Details:

On August 23rd, I ran the Headlands 50K, which is put on by the Tamlpa Runners club.  This event only has the single distance, so it draws fewer participants than some of the other runs in the area.  It does have a limit on the number of runners and did have a wait list when I checked the website the week before the race, so it is a popular one.

Weather. My Garmin showed 59 degrees at the start and there was a nice cloud cover.  That was pretty much the weather for most of my run, though it did seem to warm up after mile 20 and the cloud cover burned off for good by mile 26.

My cheat sheet that I had on my iPhone...

My cheat sheet that I had on my iPhone…just in case.

Course. Beautiful and challenging!  The Headlands 50K course is a tour of most of the notable trails in the Marin Headlands: Coastal, Miwok, Matt Davis, Dipsea, Steep Ravine, Coast View, and the Heather Cutoff.  The combination single-track/fire road course takes runners through hills, valleys, ridges that have awesome views of the Pacific as well as redwood rainforest-type conditions – all with ~7,300′ total elevation change (though my GPS said 6,476′.)  Again, it is an amazingly scenic course – I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would be without California being in a drought.

Management/Support. SUPERIOR!  I recently read a blog post that mentioned the significant differences between course management/aid stations at ultramarathons and bug-name events/races.  This event was a prime example of how excellent things can be done with course management and aid stations.  The event itself was extremely organized and managed well.  Course markings and marshaling was spot on and aid station volunteers were up there with the best I have experienced in all races/runs I have participated in.  There have been great volunteers at races – I have shared that in my past race reports – but this event somehow seemed a little bit above the others.  The aid station fare was the standard for an ultra, but the aid station volunteers were proactive in making sure each runner was attended to and supported.  WOW and THANK YOU!

Finishers. In reviewing the results, there were 188 finishers – 136 men and 52 women.

Post-Race. In addition to a great spread of typical, post-race fare (fruit, cookies, water, soda, beer, etc.), all finishers enjoyed fresh, handmade pizza from Firetrail Pizza that was baked on site in their custom, wood-fired oven.  It was excellent!  I normally don’t partake of the post-race food, but it was hard to pass this up!  I even chased my four pieces with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – hey, I’d just run 31 miles…i deserved it!

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal and bag of SWAG.  The medal was nice and the SWAG, which came in a branded, reusable bag, was pretty good as well.  My favorite item was the event-logo’d, Barking Frogs headgear – as I am a Buff addict/collector.  I’ll definitely be sporting this at upcoming races.  As for the event shirt, the WESR (Wife’s Event Shirt Rating) is a 2.5/5.  The color was basic (white) and the small logo on the front and sponsor’s names were nice and minimal.  It was a Brooks shirt, but just “average” in the shirt department.

My Race

Results:

results

Recap:

This was my third 50K and, based on my review of the course profile, was going to be the most challenging one yet.  Mainly because of the elevation change listed on the website: ~7,300…which was ~2,700 more than my previous, challenging 50K.  Still, based on a review of the previous results and photos (which I will call INTEL gathering,) I knew that it was doable.  Oh, and I’d been training appropriately too…

With that, the goals for the day were:

  • Finish time: 7 hours.  Given the elevation profile, I did not expect a PR, so I adjusted accordingly.
  • Be intentional about fueling with Tailwind.
  • Push myself a little more than usual
  • Have fun – which is always a given!

I got to the venue early, hung out in the car for a bit, then cruised to the outhouse and took care of business (love being the first user!)  After checking in, I wandered about, went back to the car and put my kit on, then found a seat in the start area and chatted with a few runners.

We started exactly at 0730 (gun start timing make that necessary) and I placed myself in the top half of the group.  My intent was to get a decent position for the first section’s single track so I didn’t get too bogged down in the pack.  I kept a slower pace all the same, knowing that I would pay for a “fast start” later in the day if I didn’t.

I don’t really have a mile-by-mile recollection of the race – I just put it in gear when the RD said “RUN!” and kept the forward motion going.  I fast-walked/ran the hills and ran the flats and downhills, keeping an eye on the pace, but really going by feel and effort.  Again, keeping forward motion at all times.

I pretty much zoned out and just went forward on most sections, though I did chat with a few people along the way.  I paced/traded positions for most of the race with another guy wearing Altras, talking shoes periodically along the way – probably keeping our minds off the course as well.

As I wrote above, the course was beautiful.  I had never been to the Marin Headlands before (shame on me as a native to the Bay Area!), but it lived up to all the posts I’d read about: scenic views, challenging hills, awesome single track, etc.  I did shoot some pictures and probably would have shot more if this had been a training run – it’s that picturesque.

For me, the most memorable and enjoyable section of the day was the descent down the Matt Davis Trail to the Stinson Beach aid.  Don’t get me wrong, the other sections of the course were picturesque, but this was flat out FUN!  This section was a challenging, yet runnable, downhill switchback, with roots, stairs, muddy conditions thrown in to make it interesting.  Coming into it, I was running with two other people and paced with them most of the way.  I passed the other guy in the group and ended up trailing/pacing a woman who was absolutely hammering the thing.  I put it in gear and hammered it too – at least until I stutter-stepped and almost took a spill.  I slowed for a few seconds, probably yelled “WHOA!” in my head, did a quick “systems” check, and resumed hammering the downhill.  Reckless abandon!  That said, the woman I was trailing was looong gone.  It’s funny, as I reviewed the data from the run, I actually wasn’t going as fast as it felt I was; but the combo of the downhill, the short switchbacks, and technical/wet trail made it seem like it.  I felt like a pro!

The toughest parts of the day weren’t the Dipsea or Steep Ravine sections – which I thought would be in reviewing the course.  They weren’t a cakewalk, but the toughest section was the final two miles, and especially the last mile, which was the Heather Cutoff switchbacks.  Even though it was downhill, my legs were tiring and the final switchback section just seemed to slog on and on and on and on.  The thing that kept me going was a runner that was a couple of switchbacks behind me.  I could hear their footfalls and kept telling myself, “they are NOT going to pass me” repeatedly.  And they didn’t.

I crossed the finish line, got my medal, and walked to the car to drop my vest and clean up a bit.  I walked around a little more to unwind and then headed back to the finish area to enjoy some food, sit for a while, and talk with some fellow runners.

As for my goals:

  • Finish time: 7 hours.  I met this one, finishing in 6:33:39!  I missed a PR by 1:47, but with this being a tougher course, I was completely satisfied with my results and the effort.
  • Be intentional about fueling with Tailwind.  I met this one.  I think I have said before, I really love Tailwind Nutrition and it is working very well for me.  That said, I had not been intentional about using as a source of fuel.  In reviewing my use of it during races, I determined that I had been treating it as a drink only, sipping when I was thirsty instead of consuming as my single-source of fuel/nutrition.  Going into to this race, I planned my consumption based on the aid station spacing and necessary caloric intake.  I forced my self to stick with the plan, even polishing off the bottle a few times just ahead of the aid station, and things went great!  My energy/endurance level was consistent and I felt great over the course of the race.  Again, my legs were tiring at the end, but I don’t attribute that to my fueling – it was a 50K!  I think I have settled on a good Tailwind/water ratio as well: 1.75 scoops to 16OZ of water.  I used the Tailwind syrup thing that I tried on the Big Basin 50K again and it really worked well.  This time, as I came into an aid station, I asked a volunteer to open my pack, hand me the TW syrup bottle, squirted a portion into my flask, asked them to replace the bottle in my pack, then had them top the bottle off with water.  This worked fantastic and I don’t think I stayed at any given aid station any longer than two to three minutes…thanks to the excellent volunteers!
  • Push myself a little more than usual.  I met this one.  I mentioned above that I just kept moving forward through the race.  I really didn’t stop or slow for any extended period of time (including the aid stations), which I have done in the past.  I just pushed myself onward, keeping the effort going at a consistent pace/rate/effort.
  • Have fun! I met this one. As you can probably tell, this was a great race all around for me.  It wasn’t a PR, but all in all, it was pretty dang fun and why I enjoy trail running so much.

Some photos from the day:

Fueling. I did my usual, pre 50K-race, carb loading/regimen: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1100 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank about 128 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix and about 24 ounces of water.  I also grazed at two aid stations, eating some watermelon and bananas – and a couple of pretzel twists…which were so dry, that I choked on ’em and spit them out.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff visor, tech shirt from the 2012 San Jose Giants Race, Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest (with 2 Hydrapak soft flasks,) Ultimate Direction 10oz bottle (for Tailwind syrup solution,) SPOT 3 GPS Tracker, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Mio Link heart rate band, ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Injinji Run 2.0 socks, Altra Olympus shoes.

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: Fantastic day!  Third 50K in the books.  Not a PR, but my most satisfying 50K yet.  I’m running three more 50Ks this year in the Headlands, so this was also a great opportunity to scout some of the trails that will be part of those runs.
  • Post-race meal: Pizza and a beer at the race, followed by a pile of spaghetti after I got home and showered.  Oh, and I chased it all later that evening with a big bowl of ice cream and chocolate sauce!

GIDDY-UP!!

white space

white space

*Six-word race report is something I read about in a blog post (that I can’t find now); but, according to a Goggle search, finds its origins in two things: a 2008 blog post I stumbled on, which based the challenge on the book “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure”, by Rachel Fershleiser, published in 2006.  Moving forward, I plan to include this in my reports as a challenge to succinctly synthesize my report…for those who are not interested in reading the oft-painful details!

IMG_9655-0

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!!

 

20140523-202203-73323923.jpg

Back on May 18th, I ran the 103rd Bay to Breakers; or, as aptly described in the tweet below:

@arasmusKTVU Favorite analogy: #BaytoBreakers is the “mullet” of races. Business (elite runners) in front, party in the back

In my recent Big Sur race report, I wrote how that race was an “experience” and not just a race or run.  The same can be said about the Bay to Breakers, though in a slightly twisted way.  It is something to be experienced: the beauty of running through the City over to the coast, the challenge and notoriety of Hayes Street Hill, the smell of eucalyptus through Golden Gate Park, hoping to see the Bison in the Paduct as you run by, and the relief when the Pacific is in sight…all chased with the scenery of wild and crazy people in creative costumes (or nothing at all), various scents along the way (food, urine, marijuana, etc.), blaring music from official and unofficial bands/DJs, and people from the neighborhoods (or those just hanging out along the course) cheering, yelling, high-fiving, twerking, etc.

Yep, Bay to Breakers is a crazy, crazy event and experience.  I will say that it seemed crazier this year – and I was in corral A. I can only imagine what it was like in the other corrals.

All that considered, it was a blast and I will run it again…and again.

Finishers. It’s not obviously stated, but, after a review the results pages, for the overall event, there appears to be 28,253 “official” finishers, for a male/female split of about 45/55.  Of course, there are the hundreds, if not thousands, of bandits – which is typical of B2B.  When I crossed the finish line, there was a couple of guys who were collecting their third medals of the day!

Weather. The weather was perfect for a run: 63 with a light breeze.  Once at the coast, it was pretty windy…but you’re done at that point.

2014_courseCourse. The course is a point-to-point from the Bay side of the City, through various districts, neighborhoods, and Golden Gate Park, to the seaside part of San Francisco.  The course was slightly different at the end from the 2012 route.

Management/Support. As I mentioned above, this year’s race seemed to be a little crazier than the last time I ran it – an observation that has been shared by many.  Still, the management was pretty good.  The biggest fail I noticed was when a group/crowd of several hundred slowly, en mass flowed onto the course at the Moscone Center.  They effectively choked the route down to about 1/4 or less, forcing runners to move to the sidewalk or simply dodge and weave through the mass.  I personally ran into a few people.  It was a pretty bad scene and one that could have resulted in people be trampled or injured.  Not sure if there was even any security or PD on that part of the course, though I’m not sure what they could have done.  Aside from that, things were pretty good.

Post-Race. The finish chute and post race area had a great flow, though I read on a blog or two that later in the race, things got pretty backed up with people.  One thing that I felt was missing were more food vendors and a merchandise tent for B2B stuff. They had a stage for the awards and bands later in the day, but I was gone by the time that started.

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal and event shirt.  Both were pretty nice – pictured below.  One thing I did notice was that the shirt did not have the event date on it. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean that the design will be recycled next year.

My Race

Results:

Recap:

This was my second Bay to Breakers.  My first was in 2012, when I ran it with my brother.  He’s a bit slower runner than me, so we agreed to stick together.  This year, since it was just me, I planned to make good time; so I seeded myself in corral A when I registered.  It was pretty nice being up front.

As far as goals for the day, I had three:

  • Run Hayes Street Hill without stopping/walking
  • Try and finish under one hour
  • Of course, have fun

In the end, I accomplished two of the three: I ran Hayes Street and I did have fun.  I missed one hour by 2:57…oh well, next time.

In an image, here was my 2014 Bay to Breakers:

race_in_chart

I kept this race pretty low key.  I caught the race shuttle in Millbrae, got to the start line (finally, after our driver got lost twice), was user #1 on a portapotty (always awesome!), and then just hung out in the corral until the start.  Unfortunately, the start was delayed by about 30 minutes, due to a “unstable archway” at Hayes Street hill.  People were antsy – I just hung out, threw a few tortillas, people watched, and chatted with those around me.  I really felt bad for the elite runners as they had all warmed up for an 0800 start time and now had to effectively cool down.  Most of the elites finished under 40 minutes, so they still made it home before breakfast!

The race itself was a 12K blast.  Being in corral A meant that I missed the more serious partying, but that was OK with me – I still saw my fair share of wild and crazy costumes and nudies: all part of the experience that is Bay to Breakers.

I will say that this year, there seemed to be more crowds infringing on the course and interfering with runners – at least when the corral A group ran by Moscone Center.  I read one article that seemed to advocate a “pause” of at least two to three years for the event so organizers could “reset” and gain some control.  I don’t think that would solve anything.  They have put more controls in place for the neighborhoods; but there are and will still be people who simply don’t care, ignore the controls put in place, and mess things up for everyone else.  That is the way it is in life…B2B is no different.  In the end, short of them cancelling the event, it will go on and I will continue to run it…always seeding myself in corral A, of course.

Fueling. Since this was a short distance race, I didn’t really do any structured, pre-race, carb loading. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank one serving of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff cap, tech shirt from the 2012 San Jose Giants run, Armpocket armband, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Amphipod handheld, ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra The One shoes.

Some photos from the day:

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: Fun event.  Ran Hayes Street Hill.  I will finish in less than one hour next time!
  • Post-race meal: Got home and went to Sweet Tomatoes with the fam.  Not the traditional, post-race, big meal, but this was a shorter distance…

GIDDY-UP!!

[this post is totally late.  i just have not been motivated to write it – or any other blog post, for that matter – but here goes…]

20140516-135211.jpg

Do the work. Do the analysis.
But feel your run. Feel your race.
Feel the joy that is running.
Kara Goucher

I’ve had this quote from Kara Goucher on each page of my training plans for as long as I can remember.  January first through Sunday, April 27th, embodied it completely.

On April 27th, I ran the 29th presentation of the Big Sur International Marathon.  An event that sold out in a record 59 minutes last July and one which will, no doubt sell out again for 2015.  It’s just that beautiful of a race – or, as many categorize it, an experience.  All races have basic things in common: start line anticipation, on-course challenges and highs, satisfaction in crossing the finish line, and the R&R and camaraderie aspects of the finish area.  Big Sur has that and more.

Amazing scenery.  Camaraderie before, during, and after the race. Sounds of nature and music on-course. Quite simply, words or pictures just cannot capture the Big Sur experience – you have to do it to fully grasp, understand, enjoy, and appreciate.  A runner can watch endless YouTube videos, read race reports, listen to other runner’s descriptions, drive the course, and check out photo feeds; however, until one runs it on foot with 3300 fellow athletes, they just will never know the full experience.

I went in to the race with a plan [first line of the quote], but didn’t meet my goal.  When I knew things were not going to end up as I planned/hoped, I made adjustments along the way and refined my goal [second line of the quote].  In the long run, it was an awesome day – yes, I was bummed – but I finished my second Big Sur and my fourth marathon [third line of the quote].

So, I could end the report there; but then, it wouldn’t technically be a report…  Here goes:

Finishers. There are actually several distances and categories that make up the Big Sur event.  For the overall event, there were 6,522 finishers, for a male/female split 40/60.  For the marque marathon, there were 3,337 finishers, up from 2012’s 3,121.  The male/female split was about 50/50.

Weather. The weather forecast fluctuated all week: 80% chance of rain showers down to 20% chance of showers in the AM.  It ended up being a beautiful 54 degrees with little or no wind at all!  Perfect running weather.

2014_BSIM_courseCourse. The 100% paved course is a point-to-point, that starts at Pfeiffer State Park in Big Sur and makes its way North along Highway 1 and finishes in Carmel.  As is the case with most course elevation charts, look at the different versions of the Big Sur course elevation and you go away with different perspectives of the he course.  In my mind, it is a course made up predominantly of rollers – with one significant hill (the 2-mile, 500’+, Hurricane Point) and its corresponding downhill.

Management/Support. Course and event management, support, and volunteers were amazing!  It’s tough to get lost when you are running on the highway, so marking was not an issue.  The aid stations were spaced great and staffed by plenty of encouraging volunteers.  For some reason, I think they were a bit more enthusiastic this year than last, but that’s me.  I used the CamelBak “REFILL” program, which was spaced at every-other aid.  That went well, though I ended up filling my handheld one aid ahead of a “CamelBak station” once.

Post-Race. The finish chute and post race area had a great flow to it, as usual.  One thing I appreciated (which I don’t recall from last year) was that they gave small cardboard box trays to runners so they could tote their food around…nice touch.  There was the typical post-race food (bananas, bagels, etc.) and they also had minestrone soup and a beer tent, for those so inclined.

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a ceramic medallion that was unique to their particular event/distance (marathon, relay, 5K, etc.)  Event shirts (which are also unique to the particular event/distance) were picked up with bib packets and were actually pretty nice this year.  I also picked up a finisher’s shirt at the finish line merch tent, which was actually nicer than the one from last year.

My Race

Results:

  • Standings: #1 among 4 marathons
  • Strava

2014_BSIM_results

Recap:

It’s funny, before writing this report, I re-read my 2013 Big Sur Marathon report and there are quite a few similarities in the “Recap” section.  I guess I’m consistent (which is the upside) – the fact that I made some of the same errors is the downside.

Since Big Sur is a point-to-point race, runners have to catch an o’dark-thirty bus to the start area.  for that reason, I drove to Monterey on Saturday afternoon, checked into my hotel, and then hit the expo/packet pick-up.  I ended up getting the same hotel room as last year, which was weird.  I walked around the expo, did some window shopping at a store, grabbed a coffee, then went back to the room.  My carb loading plans always have pasta for dinner one night and Chinese the other – usually in that order.  Last year i followed that order, this year I switched and got pasta take out and took back to my room.

I pretty much relaxed in my room all evening – watching TV, texting/talking with my wife (who stayed home), and basically vegging out/busying myself.  I got my kit set and went to bed by 9:00, since my alarm was set for 0230.

20140516-132355.jpg

Hop on the bus, Gus!

I was in the first bus group (!) and left at about 0345 for the start area.  Like most of my fellow runners, I cat napped on the ride to the start – though mine came after I ate my bagel and peanut butter sandwich.  After I got to the start area, I headed to the same location I chilled in last year – it’s away from the food and bag check areas, less illuminated by the flood lights, and the lines for the porta-potties are short.  I hit the porta-potty first (love being the first user!) and then claimed a spot on the curb to sit for the next 1.5 hours.  With about 45 minutes to go before the start, I got kitted up – compression sleeves, arm sleeves, packed my sweats, etc.  I hit the porta-potty one final time, checked my bag, and headed for the second wave area of the start.

The start area is a great pre-race experience.  You get to hang out with people, swap stories a bit, and just veg until the start.  I actually like looking at shoes as people walk by – I noticed a LOT more Hokas this year.  Most of the time, though, people keep to themselves and probably try and calm the nerves…which is what I mainly did.

They called for runners to the start (which they do in reverse order, because the highway is closed and space is tight), did the typical announcements, sang the National Anthem, and in short order, the first wave was off…on time.  I was in wave two and we also were off on time too: 0650.

My goal for the day was probably a stretch.  It was actually more aggressive than the projected time I got using the pacing spreadsheet i got from MyMarathonPace.com; which, based on my best, flat marathon and their Big Sur factor, was 3:53:04.  I went with 3:50…it seemed doable, so I planned pacing for that finish time.

I stuck pretty close to the 3:50 pace plan for the first 18 miles – sometimes slower, sometimes right on target, but mostly slightly faster. After mile 18, I realized that 3:53 may have been a smarter goal/pacing plan. I didn’t really bonk – my legs just were tired.  Still, I had some high points:

20140517-130707.jpg

Ultramarathon Man!

  • I paced Dean Karnazes for a few miles.  OK, I said “Hey Dean!” as he passed, he said “Hey!”, and then I ran behind him for a while.  He had actually already run the course backward (finish to the start line) and was on his way back to Carmel to round out a 52.4-mile day.
  • I had a quick convo with Ethan Newberry, AKA, “The Ginger Runner“.  He was wearing the new Altra The One2 in prep for reviewing them on his website…I was wearing the 1.0 version.  I ended up running ahead of him, only to be passed by him a after my mile 18 slowdown.
  • I ran the entire Hurricane Point hill, slowing down slightly at one point, but didn’t stop! (yes, this may have contributed to the mile 18 slowdown…but I RAN IT!  BOOYAH!)
  • Even though I was trying to maintain the 3:50 pacing, I really enjoyed the scenery.  I even took some photos along the way – though my on-course photography stopped at around mile 18 with a picture taken at Granite Canyon Bridge.  After that, I became focused…and tired…and left the iPhone in my Armpocket.

After mile 18, the race goal shifted to simply PRing – beating my 3:59:45 time from last year.  I ran/fast walked/ran after mile 18, monitoring my pacing on the Garmin.  At about mile 22, the 4:00 pace group caught up to me (!) and I ran with them for about a mile, which was nice.  The pacer was an excellent pacer, really encouraging people and providing constructive advice and coaching.  I’d run with him anytime!  That said, I was not able to keep up with the group, so I dropped back to a run/fast walk/run pattern…still monitoring my Garmin.  Things were looking OK and at about mile 25.5, I tried to give it one final push to the finish.  That lasted about a half mile and I needed to fast walk a bit…I was pretty tired at that point.  Again, I wasn’t bonked, just had tired legs.  Of course, I sprinted to the finish from mile 26.  I wasn’t sure what my official time was until I slowly made my way to the results tent, where I learned that I gritted out a PR by 18 seconds!

Was I bummed that I didn’t make 3:50?  Yes.  Was I happy that I PR’d?  Oh, YEAH!  Do I think I could have done 3:50?  Possibly.  Do I think I could have made 3:53?  Yes.

I crossed the finish line, picked up my medal, my food, and slowly looked for a shady place to hang out.  My leggies were tuckered out – all other systems were perfectly fine.

As I stood in a shady part of the finish area, I struck up a conversation with a woman looking for her husband.  I learned that Big Sur was his first marathon – at the age of 64.  He was shooting for 4:20 and she was on the lookout for him, since it was close to or just past that time.  I shared my “18-mile-slowdown” story with her after she shared that she’d heard from her husband mid-race and that he was getting tired (and she was getting worried.)  We chatted some more, I told here that I hoped I was still running marathons when I was her husband’s age, and then she asked me a question, “Is there anything you would have done differently in your training given the “mile-18″ thing?”  I quickly said, “Probably not.  I think I was prepared.”  I now realize that was a wrong answer.  In reality, I think I need to add a bit more hill training to my plan (instead of predominately rollers) and possibly some core strengthening exercises.  I think those two aspects will address the issue I had, certainly benefit my running economy, definitely help prepare me for the other races on the 2014 schedule, and hopefully lead to a new course PR at next year’s Big Sur (if I am lucky enough to run it again, since they are changing the registration process for 2015.)

Fueling. Pre-race, carb loading: I did my standard, marathon routine: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1100 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours, 1/2 a GU Chomps at -45 min, the other 1/2 of the GU Chomps at -15 minutes.  At race time, I had been trying Tailwind Nutrition’s product for about three weeks and used that exclusively for race fuel, supplemented by a cups of water from several aid stations.  Tailwind worked as advertised and, rather than detail it here, I will follow up this race report with a specific post about my use of Tailwind.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff cap, Tifosi Tyrant 2.0 sunglasses, tech shirt from the Livermore Half Marathon, Armpocket armband, Road Runner Sports arm sleeves, Garmin 910XT, tech touch knit gloves from Target, Picky Bars #TeamGreen wrist band, Road ID (Slim), Amphipod handheld, ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra The One shoes.  I took my The North Face Better Than Naked jacket to the start (just in case), but ended up stashing it in my checked sweats bag since the weather was awesome.

20140516-131810.jpg

Had fun staging this shot in my hotel room…m’kay, I was pretty bored.

Here are some photos I took.  Again, on-course photography stopped at about mile 18 with the picture at Granite Canyon Bridge.  Again, after that, I became focused…and tired…and left the iPhone in my Armpocket.

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: NEW PR!  Learned about setting realistic goals and respecting the distance.  I need to add more hill work and some core strengthening exercises to my training plan.
  • Post-race meal: Drove home from Monterey, showered, and then went to Famous Dave’s for some RIBS!

GIDDY-UP!!

 

20140331-212545.jpg

Last Saturday, I ran the inaugural Livermore Half Marathon – the first of what will be many more for this event, I’m sure. The event had two distances: the marque Half Marathon and a Family Fun 2.5K run/walk (which wasn’t timed.) I hadn’t been to Livermore in a while and forgot how picturesque it was…quaint downtown, suburban communities, ranches, vineyards, great parks system: the perfect venue for a race. I will say, for a smaller community, they pulled out the stops for this event, which will no doubt draw people back next year – I know I will be back for sure.

Finishers. I think they had a cap of 3,000 participants for the event. With rain forecast, I wasn’t sure how the turnout would be – I know I’m a “rain or shine” runner, but I wasn’t sure how many others would be given the 70-80% chance of showers. I’m sure the organizers were concerned as well. No worries – people showed up! I’m not sure how many ran the 2.5K, but there were 1,927 half marathon finishers. At the start, the announcer shared that 75% of those registered were female. Race finishers actually ended up being a 70/30 split (1,351 female/576 male.)

Weather. The weather forecast was 70-80% chance of rain/showers all day – particularly in the morning. At start time, it was partly cloudy, about 55 degrees, with an 11-MPH wind. It looked like it could rain, but the clouds were pretty high, so I thought it would hold off for a while. At the finish, it hadn’t started raining and was just a tad warmer. Bottom line, weather was great for a race!

course2 Course. The 100% paved course was a counter-clockwise loop that started and finished in the heart of downtown Livermore. It left city center, headed south through town and the suburbs, then at ~mile 3.3 entered the park/ranch/vineyard portion (which actually made up ~70% of the course.)  After that, runners returned to the downtown area for the finish. From an elevation standpoint, overall, it was a pretty flat course. Miles one through seven were light rollers, with the only hill coming between miles 7.25 and 8.8 (for about 160′ in climb) – again, not to bad…nice and gradual. After that, it was downhill all the way to the finish line.

Management/Support. Course management, support, and volunteers were awesome! The course was clearly marked and had signage and cones at the turns where traffic could become a problem (the local roads were not completely closed for the event.) The aid stations were spaced great and staffed by plenty of volunteers. The neighborhoods came out in force as well, cheering runners on as we passed homes and businesses.  Again, from my observation, Livermore really embraced the event.  The organizers also had photos taken along the course (courtesy of Project Sport and Gameface Media) and offered them free to runners – which was a very nice touch.  A few of the free photos are shown below – they are pretty nice and adding the event logo was a nice touch as well.

Post-Race. The post race area was well-planned – all in one: the finish line fed right into the food/SWAG/awards area. Livermore, being home to several vineyards, meant they had numerous booths for wine tasting.  As each runner crossed the finish line, they received a medal and an event wine glass. The wine glass also was used for post-race hydration – they had huge water dispensers at the finish line, ensuring a “green” race. They didn’t have the standard food fare (bananas, bagels, etc.), instead, a local donut shop gave out donuts to finishers – which could be chased by Muscle Milk, wine, water, or lemonade from another vendor/sponsor.

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal and a wine glass. Shirts were picked up with bib packets. The wine glass didn’t have the event logo, which would have been cool. Shirt and medal are pictured below.

My Race

Results:

  • Standings: #4 among 23 half marathons
  • Strava

results

Recap:

A few weeks ago, I flatted while on a bike ride.  After replacing the tube, I mounted the bike, started to head out, lost my balance, couldn’t unclip fast enough, and tipped over falling on my left side.  At the time, I was fine – except for my pride (a guy was running by at the time.)  Later that day, my hip started to hurt and I’d been nursing it ever since.  At race time, it was pretty good but, as you’ll read below, it wasn’t perfect.

On a Saturday morning, Livermore is about a thirty minute drive from my house.  So, I didn’t have to get up too early!  That said, I did…it’s just a race-day routine.

I got to the event location early enough to park in a covered garage, just in case it did, in fact, pour rain during the race.  I thought I’d prefer a covered location post-race rather than an open parking lot.  I got there, parked, and walked to the start area to scope things out.  I hit the porta-potty (FIRST!), got a sense of the start line area and corral arrangement, and then went back to the car to get ready.  They had a bag check area, but I was close enough that I didn’t need to use it.  I chilled in the car for a bit, got the rest of my kit on, and then moseyed back to the start to get lined up.

The race started on time – which was nice, since it didn’t start until 0800…I much prefer an earlier start.  I lined up about 20 yards from the line – moving up about three times after looking at my fellow runners in the various areas.  I really didn’t want to weave in and out of traffic and have learned over time that most people do not pay attention to the instructions on lining up according to pace.  After I settled on a spot, the pacers came into the start corral.  I located the 1:50 pacer and lined up near him, decided to stick with or just ahead of him.

The countdown came and we were off.

My goal for the day was not a PR (since I really didn’t expect that I could run one), but a 1:46:48 – a time purely based on a WAG of pacing per mile after reviewing the elevation profile and knowing where I was at with my training runs.  The intent was to match pacing from my training and not go out too fast.  The day before the race, I considered revising my goal since I had had some good workouts the previous week and even re-planned the pacing (getting closer to a PR time.)  That said, I didn’t save the file – telling myself to “stick with the plan, dude.”

Miles one through seven were actually pretty good.  I was pacing faster than plan, but wasn’t feeling any impact.  Right at about mile six, we made a right turn and I stepped a little funny on the pavement and felt it in my left hip.  A quarter-mile later, we made a sharp U-turn to head north and I felt the hip again.  It wasn’t too, too painful – just noticeable.  I didn’t want to injure/mess myself up, remembering that I needed to stay healthy for April’s Big Sur marathon; so, from that point on, I tried to keep decent pacing, but took fast-walk breaks when needed.  Looking over my Strava analysis and the eventual result, I actually did pretty good overall.  I had an excellent first half and a decent second.  I probably could have pushed myself and still made or beat my goal, but again, I was thinking about Big Sur…and beyond too (i got a busy 2014.)

Overall, I am very happy with my race – 42 seconds off goal ain’t bad.  I always tell myself that not all races are or should be “A” races; even so, I usually train and run like they are.  In the end, and all things considered, I finished without much hip issue (I’ve had a good week of training,) with a great finish time, and surprisingly good placing in each category.

From an event perspective, this was a great one: small event, scenic and fast course, great pre- and post-race areas.  Given schedule, the Livermore Half will probably become an annual race for me.

Fueling. Pre-race, carb loading: I did my normal routine: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +500 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours, a GU at -45 min, a GU & salt tab at -15 minutes, and GUs (2) and an additional salt tab along the way. I drank 20 oz. of GU Brew electrolyte during the run, supplemented by a few cups of water from aid stations.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: The North Face Better Than Naked hat, The North Face Better Than Naked jacket (actually tied around my waist instead of wearing since it wasn’t raining), Brooks tech shirt from RnR San Jose, Armpocket armband, Picky Bars #TeamGreen wrist band, Road ID (Slim), Amphipod handheld, ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra 3-Sum shoes.

Here are some photos I took or downloaded.  As usual, I took no photos on the run portion…I’m too focused to stop and take ’em!

Wrap-Up

  • Bottom line: Excellent event, great race for me – I’ll definitely run it again next year…with a course PR as a goal!  If you are in the SF Bay Area next March, I highly recommend running this one.
  • Post-race meal: Did a quick clean up post race and drove to meet my wife and mother-in-law for a late breakfast: PANCAKES!!!

GIDDY-UP!!

 

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

2014_SBDU_R1a

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

2014_SBDU_Bike

“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

2014_SBDU_R2

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