Archives For Race Reports

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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

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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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20131025-145313.jpgApologies up front: This, like my “first marathon” and “first ultra-marathon” posts, is a longer one…

This past Saturday, I rode in Foxy’s Fall Century out in Davis, CA.  Foxy’s, an annual event hosted by the Davis Bike Club, dates back to the 1960s, so it’s an established event that draws 1500 riders of all ages and abilities each year.  The event offered three distances: the traditional, 100-mile century, a metric century (100 kilometers or 62 miles), and a 50-kilometer (31 mile) Family Ride.  A friend of mine invited me to ride the 100-mile distance with him in late summer, so I shifted my predominately running-focused training to prepare.

The weather was excellent: clear and cool at the start (~50 degrees) and it warmed up nicely as the ride progressed.  I’d guess it was in the upper 70s when I finished.

The 100-mile course which, according to my friend and several blogs I consulted during my training, has changed slightly over the years (route and actual distance); but, at its core, the circular course departs Davis and makes its way through Solano and Napa counties – through Davis, farmlands, vineyards, rolling hills (including a climb up “Cardiac Hill”), foxys_mapand then back through the farms into Davis. There were three rest stops along the route, with lunch being served at Wooden Valley School (~mile 51.)  The Davis Bike Club’s website describes Foxy’s as “the ideal first century ride” and I would agree.  It was just the right mix of flats, rolling hills, and good climbs/downhills to make it challenging yet achievable for a newbie…like me.

Course and event management was excellent.  There were tons of volunteers and CHP to ensure riders stayed on course and the roads also had signage just to be sure (color-coded arrows stuck to the road.)  The rest stops and lunch stop were placed at perfect intervals and were stocked with a great selection of food and water/electrolyte drink (stop two was water/electrolyte only though.)  Lunch was great, though I didn’t eat too much.  The ride started and finished at Veterans’ Memorial Center in Davis, which was a great location.  At the start, they had coffee and breakfast-type fare, though I didn’t partake (I followed my normal fueling regimen.)  Riders were provided a pasta dinner at the finish…I didn’t pass that up!  They also had a bike swap meet, which was nice as well – I picked up a jersey for my wife to give me at Christmas!

I am not an experienced cyclist, but this was an excellent event and one I’d definitely ride again.

My Ride

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