Thursday, January 30, 2014

1/25/14 Lake Youngs Nuts Run 50K

My fourth time here.  Very convenient and cheap race.  Plus lots of maniacs. No great expectations.  I want to work hard when the wall comes and hopefully continue to build endurance.  My last couple of marathons have had serious meltdowns in the late miles.

Cold at the start but when the bright sunshine comes out it will be very nice.  Hat and gloves for the first loop, the jacket will stay on the whole day.

Loop 1 (1:37) - I start way in the back to avoid a crowd at the giant downhill that gets things going.  No problems today and in fact the trail has seen some serious work since I was last here two years ago.  Very good footing and little mud.  Most places we can run two or three across so passing is easy too.  I settle in at a 10 minute mile, walking the uphills to keep my pace from getting too fast.

Loop 2 (1:36)  Some runners go the opposite direction for loop two.  This year I keep going counter clockwise, but it is fun to see friends.  Going in my direction I run off and on with Mike Mahany and Ted Ekart.  I am doing my own thing today, but it sure is nice to have company when I can.  Runners are all spread out now.  Pedro was with me at the start of loop 2, but he has gone ahead, though for a while I could see him in the distance.  I pull ahead of Mike and Ted, expecting them to pass me when I hit the wall.  Still feeling good I am able to take extended walk breaks and keep the pace at 10/mile. After the loop I drop the fuel belt and exchange it for my new Camel Back.  That was a gift and I have only worn it a couple of times.  It is time consuming to fill, so I had it ready to go for loop 3.

Loop 3 (1:39) - Pedro took a while at the aid station so we pull out of there together.  I feel like I am seriously forgetting something with that fuel belt gone.  It is a very nice change to have this form of hydration for the last loop. Pedro and I run together for about two miles and I enjoy it.  Deb Evdemon sighting.  I don't want to blow it here, so I continue my walks on the uphills and Pedro gets away.  Not quite holding that 10/mile, it is more like 10:15 and I am tiring but not so bad.  I take a GU gel and try to suck it down slowly, over the course of a mile, so that it will not affect my stomach too much.  Mile 24 - Feeling it and walking more, I catch up to MMKUHL.  He is having a terrific run but is tiring like me.  We are able to run together, step in step, for about a mile before he starts walking on the uphill, a little before I give in.  Farther on there is a horse looking at me, with his neck reaching over the fence from his field.  I take the few seconds to go over to him, say hi and pet his long face.  OK back to running.  Now it is just a series of short bits and turns.  I start thinking about what my finish time could be.

Final out and back (25:14)  I was expecting a huge wall and a 5:35 or greater finish time.  But as I leave the aid station at 4:53 I know that I should be able to get under 5:20.  A 5:09 PR is impossible but 5:20 is great.  I run more than walk and don't stress about the time so much.  Fun to see the runners who have been 20 minutes or less ahead of me, now coming back from the turn around.  As I reach that place and head to the finish I can now see who is right behind me.  Then the final, super steep hill.  I have 8 minutes to climb it and I know that I can do that.  My left hamstring decides to cramp up, so I favor it and just enjoy the last bit to the finish.

Finish - 5:16:49 on my watch.  My third fastest of ten 50Ks completed.  Super happy about how it went.  I change into sandals and walk over to watch runners come up the big hill for their finish.  Love this course and event and will plan on running again next year.

22nd of 56
Race# 317, Marathon or Ultra#105, 50K #10

Monday, January 13, 2014

1/12/14 Roots Rocks Cinderblocks Race Series, Up and Over Rock Candy Mountain 5.5 miles

First of a three race series and I may or may not run all three.  First year for this Guerrilla Running event.  Back in 2008 I ran a Rock Candy Mountain race.  That one was 8 miles long.  Today's event is billed as 5.5 miles and I don't think it will take us all the way to the top.  The course map looks like a nice lollipop.  I won't have to worry about the fast guys screaming downhill toward me.  I plan to work hard on the uphill and be careful to not fall on the way down.

This area is just a small part of the Capitol State Forest.  So many trails and logging roads.  I have parked at this area a couple of times in the past year to do some training runs and to figure out the trail system.  I am excited about this race because it is another opportunity to get to know these trails.

For most people, the story of the race will be the weather.  It is awful out.  It has been stormy for two days now and it is particularly bad this morning.  39 degrees and raining sideways.  I register for the race and go right back to my car.  Just sitting in my car, it is rattling and shifting with the wind.  I have shorts but decide to keep my running pants on over them.  The pant legs will get wet if the puddles are deep, but I don't think that this material will hold much moisture.  I stay with my heaviest rain jacket and wear a hat and gloves at least for the start.

I am hoping to get in 40 miles this week and I would really like to do 7 or 8 today.  I had planned on an easy 2-3 mile warm up, just to get the miles in.  But 20 minutes before the start it is all I can do to get out of the car and shuffle an easy mile.  Now that it is near start time the wind and rain seem less.  Probably snowing up top.  I will keep all the gear with me.  At least I don't need to carry water on such a short run.

Start - We line up and start right on time.  I had thought that we would run up the road a little way to where there is a trail junction. But no, there is a trail right here that I have never seen before.  Craig did point this out to me as I was warming up, so it is not a total surprise. What is tricky is where to position myself at the start.  If it is a single track trail, I don't want to get stuck behind slower runners.  I also don't want to hold anyone back.  I think a wider start for a quarter mile or so would be a good idea.  But I will deal with whatever and when we go off I am about in the middle of things.

50 feet - Onto the trail and it is a puddly muddy mess.  As I feared some people are trying to pick around the puddles.  I know that my feet are going to get soaked sooner or later and I have decided to not hesitate around water today.  Splashing through gives me  a chance to pass some folks.  Start climbing.  There are some social runners, and it is wonderful that they are out here.  I just need to be patient and pass them when I can.  I knock off 4 or 5, then move up to the next batch.  Little did I know that most of them will finish ahead of me today.  Just when I am wishing that I had started closer to the front, I get into a good groove with some runners at about the pace I want to be going.

Mile 0.5 - My mile marks are total guesses.  I won't look at my watch much today.  The trail crosses the road.  Now we are on a trail that I took one sunny warm June day with three friends.  It is muddy and steep.  On that day, two of my friends just could not make it up and we had to turn around.  No problem for me today, except that I am walking a lot more than running. 

Mile 1 - Giant brown puddles.  It is such a fun experience to slosh through a deep puddle.  The water is so cold that my feet instantly feel frozen.  But in a few moments I am comfortable again, just in time for the next puddle. One puddle surprises me with water almost to my knees.  Now a raging rivulet where the trail should be.  Relentless uphill.  Wish I could run it, but I just have to grunt and walk.  I pass a couple of people.  Runners are thinning out now.  More uphill.  Course description said that we would climb 1,000 feet in the first two miles.

Mile 2 - Out of the woods.  The trail ends at a logging road.  There is a volunteer here who tells me to turn left and that it is all downhill from here.  What great news.  And now I have a wide road that is descending gently.

Soon my leg power comes back and I can run well.  I see two runners way ahead and I lose them around a bend.  I will see them one more time, but they are going as fast as I am.  I am so cautious on the downhills, fear of broken bones.  But this is wonderful.  Other that the many sharp angular large rocks that dot the logging road, this is very runnable.  I could turn an ankle for sure, but I am feeling good about this.  I probably would not drive my little car on a road like this but I am enjoying the running.

Mile 3 - Still a gentle downhill on the road.  Two things start to trouble me.  One is that so much of this course is on a dirt road.  I expected more trail.  Also the course markers are a little flaky.  I did see two blue ribbons recently, but are they there for some other reason?  Oh, good news, here comes a runner catching up to me.  She asks if we are on course.  Well I think so.  If I had seen a turn I would have taken it.  Hmm, now she has me really wondering.  We are still flying down this road.  Now there is a junction with a steep downhill road.  An orange flag there that might mean something.  I think we should continue on, but oh, here come three runners up the side road.  They report that there are no course markings there.  The four of us, including a nine year old boy continue on.

Mile 3.5ish - The four of us reach a major intersection of logging roads.  No markers of any kind.  Clearly this is not right.  Another runner joins us.  If we were still on course there would be about 40 runners coming in to join us here as we are now standing still.  Some discussion, but obviously we must turn back.  I have decided to only turn down a road or trail if I am absolutely sure that it is correct.  I will work my way all the way back to where the volunteer was and go back down the way I came up if needed.  That would disqualify me I guess, but better that than getting lost.

Mile 5 - Two more runners standing in the road, shouting about whether we think that steep road turn off is the way to go.  I say no.  The kid is still with us.  One woman and I are running pretty fast up this road trying to get back on course, we have left some of the others behind.  Now a trail turn off that is labeled "Rock Candy Mountain Trail" and it is going downhill.  But it is not race marked at all.  This can not be right.  I start to get thirsty. I can run 5 miles with no water, but how long am I going to be out here for?

Mile 6 - Another trail junction.  Now we see a branch and an aluminum can in the road, sort of pointing that way.  No other race markers.  But just a few feet in it is clear that this is the way to go.  Plenty of ribbons and an arrow.  Trail is heading down and in the right direction.  We wait until the kid and another runner catch up.  We are all sure that this is correct.  I will never know if the two runners that had been way ahead of me were part of the race or not.

Mile 7 - Rough muddy trail steeply downhill.  Time to assign blame?  Some runners were showing their frustration up there on the road.  Yes the turn off should have been better marked.  But really it is up to the runner to know the course.  I was provided with a map on line a few days ago.  I took a quick look at it, and I thought that I knew the route we were taking, but I was very wrong.  After the uphill slog, I was in the zone blazing down that road going as fast as I could.  I was also just plain unlucky that there were no runners right with me, there were two people way ahead who I blindly followed, and there was some random blue flagging along the road way past the turn off. 

Mile 7.5 - Down a rivulet trail, so wet and muddy.  Cinder blocks to prevent erosion perhaps.  Lots of cinder blocks on this trail.  My feet have good grip in these shoes and I never lose my balance.  In no big rush, but it is fun to go fast on this trail.  Finally catch up to two runners who are slower, but smarter than me.  They took no wrong turns.  Pass a couple more people, then a Dave Risvold sighting.  He is all done and just waiting for someone.  Must be close to the end now.

Finish - 8.56 on the GPS.  I think that I kept an OK attitude, but it certainly was not what I was hoping for.  Funny, I got those extra miles in for my weekly mileage.  And it sure was an adventure.  One woman wanderer and I finish together.  The kid and another lostie had gone way faster on the downhill.  Of the seven, there should be three behind me and another four that I passed near the end.  In the results page there are another 8 people who finished after me that must have also missed the turn.

One runner created a video recording and it is fun to watch:
 I am in that video at about the four minute mark.

I downloaded my GPS data to Google earth.  That whole long tail at the bottom is the extra out and back that I ran.   Clearly going off in the wrong direction.

Next race in the series is February 9th and I hope that I can run it.  If I am there I will try to not take the scenic route.

67th of 82
race# 316

Sunday, January 5, 2014

1/4/14 White Elephant 5 miler

Third time here.  Last year I ran with Jared and we took it real easy to protect my healing foot.

I ran the Steilacoom five mile race just three days ago (37:41) but as I warm up, I feel pretty good.  This is a tougher course, so I probably will not be as fast today.  I ran 37:56 here three years ago.

Cold and foggy.  So much fog lately for races.  I was slipping on frozen fog while driving here but as I run my warm up, the ground seems safe enough.  It is about 35 degrees.

Start - Nice to see familiar faces as always.  Great little event put on by the Stevicks.  We start on time and go roaring down the hill.  We have been instructed to stay on the sidewalk as much as possible and this will lead to some sharp turns and slower times.  I try to hold back a little on the steepest downhill to the Tumwater Historical Park.  I can hear footsteps slap, slap, slapping behind me, but they do not catch up.  In fact, no one will pass me from about a quarter mile in, all the way to the finish.

Mile 1 - 6:56. I sort of figured that a seven minute mile would be good and that I would lose enough on the uphill to average about a 7:30 pace.  Catching up to Oliver (9 years old). Multiple times I get to be just behind him, he senses me and puts on a surge.  He does not want me to get past him.  I feel no need to challenge his surges so I fall back about 20 feet and then start gaining again.  Four or five such surges and finally he relents and I ease past him at about mile 1.5

Mile 2 - 7:12 average pace.  Catch up to Ariel.  I think that she is the first place female and I ask if she is.  But alas, she tells me that there is a state champion runner somewhere way up ahead.  Not enough oxygen to chat so we run together for just a little and then I am able to move ahead.  I gain on and then run with another youth (Ben).  We stay together for a while but he starts to fade.  I can see Loren, who has beaten me by quite a bit recently, far ahead. 

Mile 3 - Up the horrible hill.  By the time I am at the top my pace is at 7:28 average so I really need to hold on if I want to finish in the sevens.  My stomach is starting to cramp up.  Through the Capitol Campus, past the Winged Victory Statue, continue on a gradual uphill.  Gaining ever so slightly on Loren but he is just too far ahead.

Mile 4 - Sharp turns and on to Capitol Blvd.  Hold on for a fairly strong finish.  The last two minutes I wonder if I can beat my time from three days ago, and I work hard to try to do so. 

Mile 5 - Finish. 5.06 on the GPS.  My watch says 37:44, three seconds slower than on the 1st.  I always start the watch as I cross the start line and that cost me two seconds today.  At Steilacoom I started 5 seconds back and all this is to say that me official times for these races ended up being equal.  I also beat my personal record for this course so overall I am happy.

Raffle - I win a pair of socks, yay!  I was attracted to the white elephant gift that I chose because of the cool guitar wrapping paper.  Pick it up and man is it heavy.  I should have known that it was an exercise ball.  Terrific, I can use this.  New year is off to a good start.

10th place of 69

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

1/1/14 Resolution Run 5 miler

40th annual event of the Fort Steilacoom Running Club and my 11th time here on January 1st.  My 12th January 1st race.  9th time running the 5 mile race.

Fog and low 40s, good running weather.

Goal - 37:30 would be great, anything under 38 minutes is fine.  OK warm up of 1.8 miles, but I do not feel super.  Traditional lack of sleep before this event.  Change into my racing shoes (Brooks Launch) and I feel a little faster.

Start - Smaller crowd than most years.  Overwhelmingly composed of fast males.  Three things about this race and series make it not the best for me.  1) Almost all fast men. People are friendly enough but there are very few slower/casual runners. 2) The same old course - it is good to run the same course every year so I can compare times, but I am just tired of the route 3) post race results/awards always take a long time to be announced.  Still no place that I would rather be on January 1.

Line up near the front, but with plenty of runners ahead of me.  Countdown and start on time.  Fast on the track, I go out at about 7/mile pace and will gradually slow as the outbound hills challenge me.

Mile 1.4 - Lead 5K runners coming back. I am breathing hard but the legs feel alright.

Mile 2.5 - Turn around.  Now an old running pal, Ron, catches up to me.  I have not seen him in quite a while.  But just like old times he gradually pulls away.  There are others around me.  Good incentive to run hard, but it is getting tougher.  I can put on small surges, but haggard breathing keeps me from sustaining the pace.  Catch one guy, run a short way with him, pass him, then he surges and leaves me behind.  Another guy gets past me.  I do catch one runner a few minutes before the end.  Gary Cooper sighting and then it is down to the track and the final bit.  Legs don't respond with speed until the very end.

Finish - 5.08 miles on the GPS.  Even split.  Feel like I ran well but a slightly off day.  The five miles is farther than the 5Ks I have been doing as "fast" races, and the plan is to work up the speed races to 10Ks and half marathons while continuing to run a long race about once a month. I do a longer cool down run, to get the monthly/yearly mileage off to a good start.  Hang around for a while but the results don't seem to be forthcoming any time soon.  I will update here when they are available.

 Next up - White Elephant Run in Olympia in three days.  Hopefully today was a good tune up for this other 5 mile race.

37:41 (4 seconds faster than five years ago, but a little slower than most of these races)
36th place of 88