Posts Tagged ‘Race reports’

Marin Country Tri

November 2nd, 2009 No comments


1 Mile in 36:26

The swim went well, which was kind of a big deal because 6 months ago I couldn’t swim a lap freestyle. Now I’ve done a mile swim in open water. There was a wicked current as you got further out, all the pros ended up swimming up current to get to the first buoy. Successive waves headed further and further to the right. I went around the buoy ok, but ended up kind of far out, not totally out, but I swam further than I needed to (or maybe the current kept pushing me out or something). When I made the final turn it was closer to shore and calmer. No more waves splashing on me and bobbing up and down, which I wasn’t so prepared for. My practice open water swims were calmer for sure. So for the last 1/3 mile I got into a pretty good rhythm and started to take a few places back. Open water swimming is pretty fun actually. It took like 36 mins, which I’m ok with. Work to be done there to stay with the pack, but it’s ok. I think for my level of open water swimming experience I did fine. I was a little surprised how fast everyone was. Not too many people behind me at all! Tough AG!

The bad thing was I cut my foot all up on the rocks getting into the water. Didn’t notice until the transition when my foot was covered in blood. Nice.



22 miles in 1:48:52

The bike was my worst event by far. People are so strong and fast and because there was 3 laps the pros (and strong AGers) were flying by continuously on their space age tri bikes. “leeefftt!” whooosh! I was doing about 15-16 miles/hr on average (it was really a very hilly course), about the speed I expected. They were doing 22 miles/hr. Most of the rest of my age group was doing 18+ miles/hr. I’m not going in another tri until I think I can ride 18 miles/hour over hills for 1.5 hours at least. And then, as if I wasn’t doing bad enough relative to everyone else, I got a flat back tire on the last lap! After working on that for a while a former Olympian (Victor Plata) came running by on the run course and offered to help. He changed my tire for me! Actually, like 10 people, all top athletes in the midst of their own race, pretty much offered to help me. In a way that was a highlight. Can you tell the guy who rides a mountain bike and never gets a flat?



10K in 1:00:36

The run was the run. It was 10K. I was kind of tired. A little dejected. Not really feeling like killing myself by then, although I could have moved up like 5 places pretty easily. By that time most people were walking and at least I was able to run the whole way. That’s some kind of achievement in a triathlon I suppose. Took me about an hour. It was a pretty run. There were deer.

At the finish line Kelly ran across with me. At least one person doesn’t think I suck, though she thinks I’m crazy.

Post race

Total time: 3 hrs, 34 min

Not my greatest event, but at least I finished as people keep trying to tell me.

Lake Chabot Trail Challenge 2009

June 8th, 2009 1 comment

Two down, one to go. Yesterday we ran the Lake Chabot Trail Challenge, the 2nd race in the East bay triple crown.

This half marathon was written up in runner’s world a couple of years ago as the best off-road half marathon in the country. I’m not really sure about that, but it’s nice.

The course is a very demanding, hilly loop with some technical ascents and descents. You won’t set a personal record here, but that’s precisely the appeal. The dirt trails you’ll cover are part of 315 beautiful acres surrounding Lake Chabot, about 25 miles east of San Francisco. You’ll run among giant California redwoods and fragrant eucalyptus trees. And each torturous climb comes with its own reward: some of the best vistas in the Bay Area.

In a way this race was a home coming. We ran this on the way to our first marathon two years ago, and it was a our first real trail run. We were shocked at how hilly it was, and how brutally unprepared we were, but at the same time completely elated with our result. This time, much has changed. I finished about a minute per mile faster than that last time, and felt in much better shape afterwards. The course was beautiful as usual and the weather was cool enough this time. The new organizers of the race, the Castro Valley Track Club, added a new level of organization to the event too. Here’s a few random thoughts about what has improved since I ran this two years ago:

  1. 13 miles is not a long run these days. I had plenty of endurance left at the end of this. Not enough to catch the guy who ran by me on the final hill, but enough to run the final mile in less that 9 minutes.
  2. Hills: I almost love them! I ran or walked by a lot of people on uphills this time.
  3. Downhills have gone from weakness to relative strength. You can make up a lot of ground on a steep downhill if you don’t crash, but you can’t be shaky legged from the previous uphill.
  4. I passed two people with ironman gear on (really, isn’t that just showing off? see Rule 13), the woman with the purple singlet who taunted me the whole way through Tilden Tough Ten only to beat me, and the crazy woman with the fake tan running with a rat dog.
  5. My HR was much lower than it has been in the past for most of this race. In fact, my HR data would tend to indicate I wasn’t actually that stressed running this.
Course Profile (+/- 2350ft)

Course Profile (+/- 2350ft)

I’ve been contemplating this race a lot over the past day, however, and here’s what I keep coming back to: the lack of elation. Crossing the finish line this time didn’t seem particularly noteworthy. There it was, its numbers ticking up, the time low enough to reflect two years of running and the effort of the past two hours. There were people clapping and someone yelling my name. How did I feel? Glad to not be running anymore, a little like throwing up, and generally wondering why I do this.

Patty didn’t have a very good run either, which is starting to become the norm rather than exception. I lost contact with her walking up the huge hill at mile 3-4.5. When I looked back she was nowhere to be seen. At the top of the hill was the first aid station where I waited for a bit, but she wasn’t coming, so I continued on even though I felt like I wanted to run this race with her. In the end she finished in basically the exact same time she did 2 years ago. Afterwards she declared that she’s given up running, though I might be able to talk her out of that. Even for me, with my list of things which have obviously improved in the last two years , shouldn’t there be some excitement associated with finishing a race? Perhaps those days are gone.

Anyway, while we ponder out motivation levels, we have another race in two weeks, the Woodminster race, then it’s on to try a tri in July.

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Tilden Tough Ten 2009

May 21st, 2009 4 comments

When we got out of the car, I knew we were in trouble. The shirt I’d put over my running singlet was already too hot. The temperature, at 7:30 am, was in the 70s. Heat pockets wafted up the canyon. Oh boy.

It’s been our plan this year to do the triple crown of trail races, this being the first, the Tilden Tough Ten. It’s a 10 mile race put on by our running club each year. It’s an out and back course, with the middle mile or so being on dirt.

We walked up the road to the start area. Already chaos had started with the race, in addition to the heat. The port-a-potties had not turned up. A long line stretched back from the two toilets available. We walked over to the registration table and picked up out bibs and discarded our shirts by a tree. Someone walked up to a volunteer and asked if they could fill their water bottle. The answer was no. They didn’t seem happy. The PA system was also not working, a whole other story. Len walked around trying to get people’s attention with a mega-phone. He was telling them about the port-a-potty situation. Right then the port-a-potties turned up, attached to a EB Regional Parks pickup truck.

Temperatures rising

Temperatures rising

We settled into the back of the waiting crowd of runners and were soon on our way. I set off at around 9:30 pace, thinking I could probably run 9:00ish on a less hilly 10 miles, but wanted to save some. I’d run 9:30 until the turn around, walk up the hill, and then see what I had left. The plan went well. For a while. The path rolled up and down and had some good shaded sections. My legs felt good and my HR stayed low enough.

And were off

And we're off

As I headed onto the dirt at mile four, with its steeper rougher surfaces, I was starting to feel it. The previous couple of miles had consisted of 1) an extended gradual downhill, although almost completely exposed to the sun and the hot easterly wind and 2) a good sized hill. The downhill had hid the fact that I was baking, dehydrating fast, and that maybe my pace had been too fast for the conditions. The hill I’d just come up had laid the truth bare.

Around here I saw the lead runners heading back. They looked pretty distressed, for the most part. By the time I hit the steep downhills there was plenty of the fast runners headed up. Some of them looked like they were about the keel over. Almost all of them were walking. I knew at least I’d be walking back up the hill.

I headed down to the turnaround aid station, grabbed some water, and then started my walk up. I walked by several people, but by the top I was cooked. My HR was up to 190 or so, which happens, but I was wondering to myself what that meant on such a hot day. I resolved to make my way back by keeping my HR in the 180s. Time didn’t matter. I walked for a bit, even though it was flat, and then slowly picked it back up to a run. It was survival mode.

On the way back lots of people were walking. I passed an emergency vehicle while it was assisting a downed runner. It looked like one of the lead runners. He didn’t look like he was conscious. Later a helicopter air lifted him out. (he recovered). There was numerous other emergency vehicles headed in too. I wondered what was going on behind me. The scene had deteriorated, obviously.

Emergency Vehicles

Emergency Vehicles

I mostly ran all the way back to the finish, though I took my sweet time at one of the aid stations. They had a hat dip, which was the best treat of the day. In the end I finished in just under 1 hour 46 min. By the end of the race the temperature was around 88 deg.

Runner down

Runner down

Although my time was way slower than my plan, I was happy enough to have got out there and finished such a brutal race. Or maybe I was just happy it was over and I wasn’t lying on the side of the trail being devoured by ants. In the end I suppose I’d call it good experience. We don’t have too many hot races in the Bay Area and now I’ve had two of them in a row to learn from. Who am I kidding?! If the forecast is for 90+ degrees when I have a race to do like this one, this is what I’ve learnt: stay home.

From the race we went to a brunch (changing a toweling down in a pullout), rushed home, showered and then headed to Patty’s graduation. She’s now a teacher!

Course map and elevation profile from my GPS.

Note: photos are from the LMJS website

XTerra Redwood Peak 2009

April 22nd, 2009 No comments

On the weekend we took part in the 2nd race of the XTerra Trail Running NorCal series. It sounds impressive, but we were really only taking part because Patty had won an entry at the LMJS volunteers dinner a few weeks ago. Despite Len trying to talk us out of taking it, the reality was it was in our local parks, Roberts and Redwood Regional Park, and we needed to get out and do a run anyway.

Going into this we felt like we were decently prepared. My two (non-running) injuries seems to be mostly healed and this year we’ve been concentrating our long runs on trails almost exclusively. Each weekend we’ve run between 2 and 3 hours, most around 3 hours. Plenty of time on the trails.

As the start time approached we realized there was one thing we weren’t prepared for yet: heat. We’d already discarded our top layer and it was getting warmer by the minute. Disturbingly warm for 8am. We walked over to the finish area and downed another cup of water for good measure.

The start was rather cramped with people crowded down a steep side trail the leads from the bottom of the Roberts parking lot onto the trail proper. The start line was a line of flour on the ground and a guy to yell “Go!” The next thing we knew we were off. Within the mile I’d lost Patty. I looked back and she was gone. At a mile I realized I was going a little fast (9:30ish for the mile). I guess that’s how I lost her. I kept going, slowing the pace a little to about 10 mins for the second mile as we headed over the west ridge and steeply down the Orchard Trail into the valley. Nobody really passed me here except for a guy who was just catching up to his girlfriend immediately in front of me. He pulled in and then slowed right down as she wasn’t moving very fast. After a few twists and turns I pulled back out and past him, never to be seen again. Patty later had an encounter with this couple: she was apparently not very happy later on.

Once in the valley there was some flat running as we headed into the first aid station. I filled my bottle up and then wandered back down the path to see if Patty was coming. No sign, so I set off again.

Immediately after the aid station was the first steep uphill, the canyon trail. We’d taken note of this in our practice run and decided to walk it from the beginning. A couple of enthusiastic guys ran by me here, only to stop defeated a dozen yards in front of me and start walking too. It was a rough hill and with the heat building it simply wasn’t worth running.

Onto the East Ridge I got back into a mostly running pattern. It was hot and exposed up there and my HR was pretty high as a result: over 190 on the uphills, which most of it was. There was a time when a HR of 190 would be a death blow. Now I seem to take it relatively well. At about 55 minutes into the race I started to walk in a shady section and took a shot of Gu and tried to get some fluid into me. I sensed dehydration had already set in. One woman passed me here and asked how I was doing. Fine I said. Me too she replied, then was gone. I was fine, but toasting quickly.

I worked my way up the East Ridge, walking more and more of the hills. I expected people to catch me, but it seemed the heat and the elevation gain was having the same effect on everyone. My pace stayed around 11:30ish through this section, which I was pleased with. Originally the course was supposed to drop off the East Ridge down to girl scouts camp and then back up to Skyline gate. I had mixed feelings about losing this part of the course, on one hand nobody was having fun on this exposed section of East Ridge, a drop down into the shaded depths would have been a welcome change. The downside, of course, would be the addition of another hill.

Finally I was at the top and running into the Skyline gate aid station. I wasn’t really feeling like much to drink (warning sign, I suppose), but took a cup, drank half of it, and poured the rest on my head. It might have been worth it to spend more time here, but I figured it wasn’t that long of a race. I’d just get it finished and rehydrate later.

From there we headed along the West Ridge, thankfully shady, and dropped down the French Trail into a gully filled with redwood trees and running streams. It was fun running downhill and I noticed in this race I wasn’t passed by anyone on the downhills, which is a change. On the other side of the downhill was the Big Uphill I’d been anticipating the whole race: the steep hiking trail up to Redwood Peak. I settled into a steady walk, working away at it. It was brutally hard going, but I passed two guys on the way up. One was slumped against a tree exhausted, the other I simply walked past. That mile took me over 25 minutes, to give you some idea!

From the other side it was mostly downhill to the finish. Kelly and her grandpa were waiting at the finish for me which gave me a little push up the final hill. Kelly ran through the parking lot, but didn’t go across the finish line with me. I think the finishing chute kind of freaked her out so she let me run across by myself. I vaguely remember the announcer yelling out my bib number and some people cheering. Patty came in about 4 minutes after me.



In the end it was a pretty fun race. I could go on about how aspects weren’t really worth $50, but the venue was world class trail running and they got my time right. In the final results we were pretty far down the field but we’re both totally happy with our results. I crossed the finish line (according to my GPS almost 10 miles from the start, not 15K) in 2hrs 2min. Patty ended up not very far behind me, finishing in 2hrs 6min. As a bonus, she was 3rd in her age group!

The course route and info is here.