That’s how you do it…

Thin Mint Sprint 5K FTW
Thin Mint Sprint 5K - Final Kick

Everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s the truth (yes, the truth) ~ Hot Chocolate

Jammed out to Vegas a couple of weeks ago and while I didn’t win anything at the tables, I did manage to yoink my first ever running race victory. Was not expecting that.

Prior to heading to the desert, I found a 5K to join and headed out there early Saturday morning after a fun-filled night with the GroundFloor Media crew at Tao. We were staying on the Strip in the Palazzo so I grabbed a cab and headed up to the North end of town to the Girl Scouts Thin Mint Sprint, got my warm-up on, met a couple of other runners, then coasted to a new PR and easy win.

The course was pancake flat with some tight spots and turns so I lined up at the front. Once the gun went off (actually, no gun), I surged ahead to avoid any congestion in the first few turns. That was the last I saw of anyone. I had one guy a few meters behind at mile 1 but after a quick surge, put distance on him throughout the rest of the race. Toward the end of the second circuit I started lapping slower runners which slowed me down a bit but I still finished with a new PR of 17:47. And yes, I receive a box of Thin Mints for my efforts.

Super pleased with this result and the opportunity to run hard and win!


Lunar Eclipse Run

Is this Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”? Whyyyy? ~ Rach

Some days, you just need to bail on the planned training and go have an adventure. Fortunately for me, I don’t have anything on the horizon in terms of “A” races so abandoning my plans for a solo tempo/repeat run to join a couple of Twitter acquaintances (George Zack and Tim Waggoner) for a very early long run was a fairly easy ditch. Certainly, had this opportunity arisen in the course of a specific training cycle, I would have had to think about it a bit more.

The plan: Meet at 4:00am, run for 3-4 hours on snowpacked dirt roads around Wondervu, enjoy the celestial show of the lunar eclipse.

My alarm went off at 3:00 and I hopped out of bed, ready to get my run on. It was about 18° with only a slight breeze when I slipped out into the night for a short drive to Tim Waggoner’s house in Wondervu. Tim is a coach and all-around kickass athlete who is gunning for the Leadman competition this year. A burly goal but if anyone is capable of accomplishing this feat, I am confident Tim can rock it. He finished 6th in the ’10 LT100 (about 5 hours in front of me) and has a strong Tri background which will help him immeasurably when it comes to the grueling Leadman competition.

After some confusion regarding the exact location of Tim’s house (I spazzed and didn’t store his info in my phone, stupidly relying on the expectation of a cell signal in the mountains), I managed to pull up an old email to get his house number and pulled up just as George arrived from the valley. We quickly donned our gear and started running just after 4:00.

George’s summer racing revolves around the Pike’s Peak Marathon where he has finished as high as 6th place as well as other races at a variety of distances (up to 100 miles). So needless to say, I was in fast company on this early morning adventure.

Tim had a 21-mile loop mapped out and we managed to make pretty good time during the early miles. The moon was bright enough that back-up lighting was only necessary on occasion and we were treated to an eclipse that won’t be visible again in the Western U.S. until April of 2014. Overall, we kept a conversational pace and just enjoyed the early morning running. Tim planned our route to top-out with a fantastic view of the Indian Peaks hoping to coincide with the full eclipse and sunrise. We were a bit early to get the full effect and winds had picked up to the point where standing around for 20-30 minutes would have been ill-advised so we stopped briefly for a peek then continued on our way.

In the end, we cut the overall distance down to 17 miles and then George added some bonus mileage. I needed to get home to get ready to see Gounod’s Faust on the Met Opera HD broadcast with Rach but it was fantastic to get in a solid run before most people are even waking up. Seeing the eclipse was a treat as well. Sometimes the best plans are those that have been abandoned.


ColderBolder Race Report

She said a bad day is when I lie in the bed and I think of things that might have been ~ Paul Simon & Art Garfunkel

Fun race yesterday in Boulder. I didn’t have a lot of expectations going in and that turned out to be a good thing as the weather didn’t really cooperate to produce anything resembling a fast run. I had a good time, however, and that is what matters.

Got up early to jam down to the race. It was just above 20°F and snowing when I arrived at the venue. It snowed about 6″ overnight as well making for interesting racing conditions. I jogged up to the Balch Field House on the CU campus to pick up my race pack and warm up a little before my wave started at 8:00.

The ColderBolder race features staged starting based on one’s BolderBoulder finish time. Since I had a marginal BB (see the full report here), I was able to line up with the 00:40-00:42 group. I have been looking for event staging of this type in hopes of really being able to participate in a “race” rather than just running for time. Sadly, this was not to be for me given the conditions (I really didn’t want to end up in a pile of broken Stus along the course) and the fact that the field was packed with fast XC kids (at least 5 of the 9 people who eventually bested me in this race were under 17). Guessing that most of these guys were 5K or shorter specialists who fade at longer events. And really, I am just the opposite so who am I to talk about sandbagging?

I spun some laps in the field house, donned my sexy trashbag and made my way to the start. I ran into a couple of people I know at the start, did a few strides on the very slick streets and generally formed thoughts of “let’s get this show on the road before my nuts freeze off” while waiting for the gun. As volunteers were still setting up the start banner, the starter announced, “30-seconds”. We lined up on the mat and were soon greeted by the starter’s pistol and were off.

As typically the case, there was an early surge and a quick gap formed. I was left in no-man’s-land for a moment until I decided to try to muscle up to the frontrunners. Just as I caught onto the tail of the lead group, we headed downhill and moved from the street to the sidewalk. At this point, there was another surge up front and I fell back, not wanting to go out quite that quickly and in fear of a fall on the slick surface. In the first major turn of the race (about 1/4 mile in), someone did fall in front of me. I came to a near stop to avoid him, asked if he was ok (he was) and we continued on our way – albeit further detached from the lead group.

I settled in with two other runners for a bit and just focused on good form and figuring out how to translate my new “active-push-off-style” stride to less-than-favorable surface conditions. We ran past the amphitheater, Kittredge Field, and made our way back toward Broadway. At this point, one of the other runners (and, coincidentally, a client’s husband) made a small move I was unable to cover and put about 5 meters on me. We headed back toward the start line and I noticed a police car in the race course. “No biggie,” I thought, and angled to go in front of it. Apparently, this was not in the cop’s plan, however, and he gunned it, cutting me off. Second complete stop of the race. Good times.

So now it was down to me and another runner as we made our way back to the Broadway bike path. I passed him shortly after the turn and quickly put in a good effort to gap him a bit. I ran down Broadway to University, navigated the last super-sketchy turn of the race (another near stop) and then headed back through campus for the final stretch. At this point, the 9th place runner was a bit too far ahead to catch so I focused on finishing strongly with good form. I wound my way through the final 1/2 mile, made one last slow turn back into Balch and then surged to the line in 20:30 and 10th place.

Given that this was only my second 5K and the deplorable conditions, I was pretty happy with this result. Post-race, I met the guy I passed on Broadway (Sean Wetstine) and coincidentally, we follow each other on Twitter, which was amusing. I packed up my stuff and then jogged back to my car to complete the experience. It was great to get out and run even if the weather was crappy. Beats not running any day.


SFO Marathon Race Report…

I have been taking a break from things for the past few months but wanted to come back with a race report from my last effort, the San Francisco Marathon, prior to running my next race. I have been struggling to regain my form since well before Boston, really and SFO was put down as an effort to not dig myself into a deeper hole. Though I think I was successful in not digging any deeper, I still didn’t have very much luck getting my mojo back and even took about 3 weeks off in September – running only 2-3 times per week – in an effort to get my feet back underneath me. I was just starting to feel my form coming back in late October when I caught a fairly aggressive cold that knocked me out for most of November. Finally feeling recovered from that endeavor, I am actually starting to feel sharp again. Just in time for next week’s Colder Bolder 5K.

The Colder Bolder is a seeded race that pits people of equivalent abilities (based on Bolder Boulder finish times) against one another. Fortunately, I had a less-than-stellar BB last spring so I get to run against the 40-42-minute group. Psyched to see how I can do but given I am just now ramping back up and the course difficulty, my expectations are fairly low. That has seemed to work in my favor in the past, however. So we’ll see how it goes.

And now, the San Fran Marathon race report…

San Fran is a crazy town. Way different than I expected but it lived up to its reputation in many ways as well. Going into this race, I had zero expectations. I didn’t even really know if I would finish and planned to race entirely on feel. I had some goals in mind but none of them weighed heavily on my mind as I ventured out to the Bay Area. Just wanted to have fun, run with good form and see where that took me.

I flew into SFO on Friday after about a 2-hour delay in Denver due to foggy conditions in San Fran. Upon landing, I was able to navigate the Bart easily and soon found myself in a throng of people on Powell Street, a short walk from my hotel. I jammed up to the hotel and was surprised to find my room available at a fairly early hour. Dumped off my stuff, headed to the expo, all good.

The expo was much smaller and more mellow than I anticipated. I bowed down to the retail gods and then made my way over to the MapMyRun booth to say ‘hi’ to fellow Colorado and #DenverLunchRun runner @boulderrunner (Todd Straka) who would go on to run an incredible half marathon on Sunday. I looked around for @sarahstanley with whom I have had the pleasure to run on at least one occasion but she was busy working as a race Ambassador so wasn’t available. After perusing the expo for a bit, I did a fairly intense yoga session put on by Lululemon then headed back to my hotel. A quick trip to the grocery store for some provisions and visit to Thai Stick for a bite to eat followed, then I settled in for the evening.

Saturday, I walked down to the Ferry Building to meet up with Todd for some coffee and to join the Lululemon shake out run. There was a decent sized group and several distances from which to choose. I had 2 miles + strides then 1-mile at pace on the schedule so, in standard form, Todd and I chose to run the full 3-mile warm up then do our strides and tempo. We got to run with Bart Yasso for a bit, which was pretty cool and checked out the new minimalist shoe from Saucony he was sporting (SUPER light). We ended up doing a couple of laps around Giant Stadium on the waterfront then I headed back to the hotel to put my feet up, ice my ankle and watch a movie and read. I headed back over to the expo later that day just to see what was going on and to get outside and see more of the city. Probably walked/ran a bit more than I should but again, I was here to have fun. Hit Thai Stick again for dinner then hit the sack.

The race starts early (5:30) in order to allow runners to run across the Golden Gate Bridge so I set my alarm for 4:05 to ensure that I had plenty of time to get my act together in the morning. I ate some food, downed some liquids, donned my gear and headed down to the Embarcadero for the start. It is always fun seeing the ever growing masses pouring into sleepy city streets as one approaches the start of an early morning race and as I made my way towards the event, more and more people joined me on my trek to the start. I jogged the last mile or so then found the bag drop area and then got in line for one last pit stop before the race began. As the start time drew ever closer, I didn’t seem to be making much progress in line and eventually, I just bailed. I had already missed my official start with the sub-seeded athletes and wanted to get in with the sub-3-hour pace group if possible. I was a couple minutes behind that as well and started the event at the back of wave 2. Not ideal and a little stressful but I rolled with it and quickly passed over the official starting line to begin my day.

The first few miles of the SFO are flat and run along the Embarcadero. It was still dark out so there wasn’t a lot to see and I was focused on trying to catch up to the sub-3 group so I just worked on staying relaxed, making up some time but not pressing things. I quickly caught the 3:20 group and shortly thereafter passed the 3:10 guys. The first hill hits at about mile 2.5 and it is actually the steepest of the race. I flew up this and kept rolling. When you are from altitude, running at sea level is like cheating. You can really hammer hills and actually recover on the downs, which is particularly refreshing. Good times.

I finally caught the sub-3 group at about mile 3.5 and settled in with them running comfortably at 6:45-6:50 pacing. We ran through a park then another medium-length uphill on the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. Running across the bridge was fun and we got to see the leaders on the way out then all the runners behind us on the way back across. After crossing the bridge, the course rolls for a bit then climbs up into Golden Gate Park. At this point, there was a little confusion about the pacer switch off and we ran sans pacer for about 3 miles through the park. I stopped to relieve myself but kept the people with whom I was running  in sight (knowing that I was actually a couple minutes ahead of this group on the clock) and ran comfortably through the remainder of the park (about mile 16). The course then merges with the second half course and climbs up into the Haight.

It was during this segment that I started feeling the effort and though I was keeping the 3-hour group close, was starting to struggle to maintain good form. The official 3-hour pacer came by me after a tight, sidewalk section and I latched on for a bit then let them go. Again, my goal was to keep them in my sight as I still had a couple minutes in the bank at this point but the race diverts runners onto parallel streets on a couple different points during the race and at the first of these, I lost track of the group and this, coupled with my form degradation, made me decide to back off. So I took some walk breaks, spent some time drinking water at one of the aid stations, and generally tried to enjoy myself and hold good form through the remainder of the race.

The last half is decidedly less interesting than the first with most of the course running downhill through industrial areas and neighborhoods devoid of architectural interest. I just jogged it in at this point, not worrying about how fast I was going or what time I might get and fairly soon was back on familiar ground with about a mile to go to the finish. I made sure my last mile was strong, again with the focus on form, passed Giant Stadium then under the Bay Bridge and home in 3:18:48.

I ran the first half in 1:29:04 and the first 20 in 2:18:31 (pretty close to sub-3 pacing). Very happy with these numbers and my race overall. I think that if I were healthy, I could definitely run a great time on this course. The second half is way faster than the first, I felt pretty great for 20 miles and the course suits me well. Perhaps I’ll run it again next year and see what I can do.

Post-race, I was actually fairly miserable. I had serious stomach problems for the rest of the day and am willing to blame these on the electrolyte drink provided during the race. I had plans to tour the city after the event but ended up just sleeping and staying near the restroom. I was able to rally, however, and jammed out to Berkeley to meet Pete, Edy and Todd for dinner. After a beer, gigantic salad and pizza, I felt MUCH better and grabbed the last train back to San Fran then collapsed into bed.

Up early on Monday, I packed up my stuff and hit the town. I did my own little walking tour of SFO and wandered through China Town, up to Telegraph Hill and back down to the Embarcadero for lunch. I got to see most of what I had on my list but would love to go back to enjoy more of what the Bay area has to offer. All in all a great trip!


Ankle ouch…

Ow, quit it. ~ Bart Simpson

So going into SFO, my right ankle was bothering me. Felt like I sprained it but I have no recollection of doing so. During the race (report to come), it felt fine. Seriously, zero issues. Post-race, however, is a totally different story. Not a happy runner does this thing make.

I ran last Thursday because I felt like running. My ankle had other plans, however and I had to bail a little early. So I jumped on the bike(s) for the next three days. Singlespeed Friday, Mountain bike on Saturday and a road ride on my ‘cross bike Sunday. Good times, actually. First time in about 10 years for me to log 3 days in a row on bikes. Ran again Monday. Not happy. So I am in recovery/rest/cycling mode for a bit. The ankle feels a lot better today (Wednesday) so I am planning to cross-train again today and then play tomorrow’s race by ear. It would probably be smart to skip it but you know how I am when it comes to being smart…