Golden West Classic 5K – 2019

September 20, 2019

This is probably the last time I hear about this race as Matt Simpson is retiring as the coach of Golden West College running. There are three races – boys, girls, and coaches. Of the three, the coaches race is usually the most sparse. It includes coaches, “ineligible” runners (maybe redshirts (in JC?)), and me. Everyone in this race is under 30 years old, except me.

This is a fun cross country race in Huntington Beach Central Park. I used to run races here several times a year but that has dried up somewhat. I know my paces today will be slower as it IS cross country and not street. Also, around mile 2, the course goes into hillier territory, so I know I will have to walk just a bit. Plus, totally unmotivating to run by myself way at the back.

I run splits of 7:37 (trying to keep up, ha!), 8:45, and 9:53, and finish in 25:53. Pretty happy with that and technically, I finish in the top 10!

I stay for a bit to watch the boys and girls races. There are only a dozen (more heavyset) boys that I would have beaten, and about 25 girls. I guess we will wait and see if they are still running 30 years later!

This race was supposed to be a rematch between me and GWC Assistant Coach Mike Kelter, but he was having some surgery. Matt gave me a special trophy, a horse’s ass. Haha.

Boeing 5K (8) – 2019

September 9, 2019

Just like last month, Alan and I went down to Julian to run another portion of the Cuyamaca 100K course. The race is less than a month away. Hope I am ready!

Both my knees hurt today (usually just my left one) and so again started out conservatively doing 12:34. However, on the way back, I did not have to walk and did a HUGE negative split of 11:39 to run a third consecutive month of sub 25:00. I wonder what I will do next month!

Boeing 5K (7) – 2019

August 12, 2019

Busy day today! First, I have the Boeing 5K. I had done little running last week because of the Skyline 50K, but Saturday, Alan and I went down to Julian to run part of the Cuyamaca 100K course (which we are running in October), so I am sure the 20 miles of trails we did will take something out of me. This evening I am putting on an LA Hash in Echo Park. My trail has over 800 stairs in it, and I will have to go out early to pre-lay the Eagle section which is two HUGE blocks of stairs.

For the first half of Boeing, I went out somewhat conservatively but try to stay close to Dave Parsel, and I felt pretty good – 12:22.

On the second half, I needed to stop and walk on two occasions. At least, my secret power is that I am able to ramp back into close to my original pace on the way back. (Also, there is a tailwind. It feels hot but you are pushed just that little bit more.) I manage 12:30 on the way back and do a second consecutive month of sub 25:00 5Ks.

Skyline 50K – 2019

August 4, 2019

I’m back in Northern California once again for my 10th consecutive Skyline 50K (and 12 running). Hard to believe that I have done this race so many times. I am one of the youngest runners with 10+ completions.

I feel relatively okay this year so I am not utilizing the early start. I have used it previously when I am only two weeks removed from a previous ultra. Hopefully, my current fitness level doesn’t put me on the cusp of cutoffs.

The course this year is somewhat opposite of my favorite course. I really wish they would bring back the suspension bridge and Honker Bay portion, but I don’t know what hoops they have to jump through or the logistics that necessitate the current course.

As the race starts, the pull of the crowd pulls me along at a faster pace, which is good for the times when I am by myself and unmotivated. Soon enough, though, I am on the flat boring section towards Bort Meadow and mostly by myself. Fortunately, I can maintain about the same pace until the trail heads uphill where I drop back to 18 minute a mile pace.

I enjoy this section despite the hills. There is always a friendly radio operator at the top of the hill that you get to see both ways. I always give him a shout out (particularly because since he is not in an aid station location, he will generally not get a lot of thanks from runners). Now a nice booming run (ish) down the hill and over to Redwood Road and a nice aid station with fresh melon.

Lots of single-track up to the Stream Trail and hoping to see my sister Marisa at the top. In the past, she and a friend have met me here and walked with me to the start of the French Trail. Sometimes the family comes to cheer me on (but not walk). Skyline Gate has always been the (almost) turn-around of the race. This year, it’s a bit past the turnaround. This is a bit confusing, because I’ll estimate my time based upon when I arrive here and now I really have no idea.

Marisa meets me (parking sucked) and walks a bit longer than she usually does. It’s nice to have that extra bit of company that isn’t quite the same from a random runner you met 15 minutes ago.

I could blame my pace slow down on my sister but there are so many roots in this section (and on the downhill) that I want to take it easier just to be safe. And, it isn’t all downhill; there are some really sucky uphills but at least the cover of the redwoods keeps the temperatures cooler (especially since the morning fog has burned off).

Once I get back to Redwood Road, it’s the usual reverse of course, up the booming hill (hot now), wave to the radio guy, and back down to Bort Meadow. Now out to the opposite side of the trail and down to Stone Bridge.

In the old days, we’d take the single-track to Honker Bay, run around the lake counter-clockwise, and go across the suspension bridge. Today, we are following the original out trail in, which means veer near Golf Links Road, cross the damn dam, and then significant up and down hill paved section to the end. Finishing on pavement hurts my feet!

I’m a bit disappointed with my second half, since I was just under 4 hours going out (3:48) and 4:17 coming back for fewer miles and more downhill and paved. But a finish is a finish.

NOTE: As I write this, I am still about 18 months behind and the way 2020 went, I should have spent more time catching up but was unmotivated. This post is fairly sparse because my running log only has splits and zero notes on anyone I met (and with no hints, I have no clue). I know that I did a few miles with my sister because I did a virtual of this course in November 2020 and my sister did about 8 miles with me. Also, all my griping about the course change, well, when I did this virtual, I included all of the prior course bits plus a wrong turn and did nearly 40 miles.

Rohring Around the Clock 6H – 2019

July 20, 2019

Decided to go down and support my friend Jim Tello and his timed race (timed versus distance). My intention was not to do a lot of mileage, but rather do a little bit and then drop by the Stone Brewing for either a beer or a tour. Laura, Mona, and I had stopped in last month en route to pacing Alan Sheppard in his 100 miler and it piqued my interest. Easier to visit a brewery in San Diego if you are in San Diego!

I had run this race a few years prior with Laura, but we did the 12 hour. I can still remember how bored I got doing the 5K loops, so I brought a couple of books to read while I participated. It’s flat and untechnical enough that I generally won’t trip.

My first book was a Bosch mystery and that took me about 3 hours to read and 20 kilometers. I got about halfway through a second book but ended up stopping short of the 6 hours because I wanted to check out the Rohr Park library book sale (the start/finish was at the library) and it shut down before the end of the 6 hours.

I ended up getting 5 books for about $3, including Pam Reed’s running book and a number of political pundit books for 25 to 50 cents each (read and recycle).

I thanked Jim for a memorable 30K and then drove up to the Stone Brewery. I had just missed the last tour of the day but I convinced them to let me join in anyway. It was fascinating learning about their process but I was bummed that the bottling line wasn’t working on a Saturday. I find the automation process so fascinating. I was, at least, able to look at the machines and imagine what it would look like.

Browne Rice 1M Kayak/5K Run Relay – 2019

July 12, 2019

The Browne Rice (ThomBob) Relay has become a summer tradition and the last few years, Alan has been my relay partner and makes it extra enjoyable, but I do refuse to run barefoot. I do kayak barefoot and that is my one concession (I don’t make him kayak in shoes, though).

I got in a little extra exercise by running to the start – less of a warm-up and more of a avoiding crappy parking issues.

I kayak first to get it out of the way and push us into last or next to last place and then it is up to our running or Alan’s kayaking skills to hurdle back into quasi-contention.

This event isn’t really about how fast we go – we certainly can’t compete with the Buchbinder family – it’s about camaraderie, fun, and seeing how much our kayaking skills have deteriorated in 12 months. Honestly, I think it gets worse and worse every year. Shouldn’t I be faster?

Alan, 10 years younger, is of course faster than I am in both disciplines, but I am pretty happy with 26:32 for my 5K, which remember, is about 1/2 mile on sand. Anything under 27:00 minutes is just fine.

Afterwards, we enjoy some brunch, gatorade, and beer (shh) on the beach as we celebrate everyone’s achievement.

Boeing 5K (6) – 2019

July 8, 2019

Had an interesting weekend. I volunteered at the Angeles National Forest Trail Race (which I like to call by the old name Mt. Disappointment). I got my preferred location of Mt. Josephine Aid Station with AS captain Debra Jorgensen, who I have worked with in the past. Very organized, interesting lady, and no repeat of the previous year where we were stuck at the aid station for hours until the sweep struggled through the heat to the next aid station. It definitely wasn’t as hot this year.

I gently encouraged every runner including a couple of young guys that didn’t want to continue (they did, but then they turned around and quit). And our last runner through, Nancy Tinker, desperately wanted to continue but just wasn’t fast enough. Quick rant on how you should just continue unless you are sick or broken, especially if you have enough time.

Anyway, rode back down the hill and I drove the two guys the seven miles back up the road to the finish line so they could slink home in their cars. I got some lunch and could have left at this point, but decided to stay to the bitter end… not just for the last runner but until we had packed the last bit of equipment into the truck. Not certain that I will run this race again, but I am happy to volunteer and let other people enjoy its beauty and difficulty.

i have been doing little on Sundays so I had a nice rest before doing Boeing on Monday. Not having too many issues, body-wise, but still trying to be cautious as I have had some knee issues and try not to go out too fast.

I started moderately and then worked my way through the field, getting to the turnaround in 12:54. There was a tailwind on the way back so I only stopped to walk once. I finished in 24:48, my first time under 25 minutes this year, so of course, I am very happy with this.

La Palma 4th of July 10K – 2019

July 4, 2019

Drove back down to Southern California after spending 10 days with my dad while my mom and sister are chaperoning the choir tour out of the country; I didn’t want to miss out on 4th of July festivities.

This event has become sort of a tradition for me and Dona McBride. We take turns driving to the race, wear something patriotic (usually flag shorts for her and a small flag (with stick) inserted into my hat. After the race, there is a pancake breakfast (for an additional fee).

I always have to mention the weirdness of this event. The 5K is the most heavily attended race with loads of walkers, and so they begin the race in front of the city hall, which is also where the announcement stand and the national anthem singer is located. The 10K, on the other hand, usually has 25% of the total (my guess is less than 100 runners). So, we are relegated to 0.15 miles down the road (also to make up the distance missed in doing two loops. We can hear the announcements and the national anthem, but we don’t really feel a part of it. The best part is the start when our starters are essentially listening to headphones or cellphone or something to coordinate us with them.

We take off and can see the “conflagration” in the distance of red, white, and blue bounding and swirling and slogging. There are lane lines down the middle of the street to keep the two races separate for a bit. Within a couple of minutes, I have passed probably 3/4 of the 5K runners and struggle to insinuate myself into the middle of the next level of runners who I am slightly faster than (trying not to stumble on the traffic bumps as my side of the street becomes open to traffic). The struggle is mostly because we are making a left-hand turn, but it’s okay to be on the high side because in another two blocks, we will turn right (except there are cones keeping us on the left side of the street). Despite being ahead of most of the masses, it is still a bit chaotic making all these turns.

This little zig (to make up to the 5K distance) goes through a quaint neighborhood and there are always locals sitting on camp chairs cheering us on and wishing us happy 4th.

Now we curve back out to the original street and prepare for another left-hand turn onto the longest straight stretch of the race. This is when I surge and slow, and take a couple periodic walks when my breathing is too much or my back or leg is bugging me. When I walk, the dozen or so people I struggled by earlier repass me with vindication… until I slowly recatch and pass them when I begin to run again.

At just about 2 miles, we make another left-hand turn, pass a few businesses and the local high school, and then one more left turn, past the 10K start (one more weird location for a water station so close to the finish), and then I move over to the far side of the street and pass by the finish, and most of the folks I have been competing against stay left and finish the race.

Up ahead is the vast wasteland of the 10K, less motivation to push the pace with almost no one around me, but I hesitate to take a walk break until after I have made the far left-hand turn.

Once I am back into the neighborhood, most of the locals have packed up their chairs and gone inside for breakfast, not content to watch the scant masses of 10Kers pass by in ones and twos. I do wish a happy 4th to each of those that remain and they wish me the same.

On the long straightaway, I take a couple more walking breaks (5 in total for the whole race (which in the past I wouldn’t have done 10 years ago). I am mostly not seeing a lot of 10K runners but there are still runners out here – 5K walkers that I am lapping. I am supportive to all of them along with the police and volunteers that are guarding the cross streets. I always make sure to thank all of them each time I pass. Sometimes they are directing traffic so I don’t worry if they acknowledge me back.

I end up having a nice sprint finish (no one needs to know about all those walks!) in 51:50. I am still (forever) in a competitive age group so that ends up being 4th in my division. Dona did the 5K and won her age group.

Afterwards, we wait in line for our pancakes, sausage, OJ, and coffee, greet fellow runners and random people that we always see on the 4th, and sit through the entire awards ceremony. They always do all three names in each age group for 5K, 5K Walk, and 10K (and read all the times). The Race Director and a city rep (mayor sometimes) shake their hands and present their awards. I think they gave medals this year, but I have duffel bags, 20 oz glasses, and other stuff from the past.

Dona and I drive back to her house and then I drive the two miles home. When I am a block from my condo, my car starts acting up at the penultimate stop light. (My car’s too new to be giving me problems.) But when I get home and turn on the TV, I learn there was just a huge earthquake in Ridgecrest 10 minutes ago.

DSE 4.5M – 2019

June 27, 2019

Last week, Mom and Marisa left to chaperone the Piedmont Children’s Choir Summer Tour and once again leave my Dad alone in Oakland. While they have done this several times before, he did have foot surgery fairly recently and is slightly less mobile (doesn’t like to drive as much). Since I don’t have much going on down here, I agree to drive up and spend a week keeping him company and helping out with a few things

Some of these activities include grocery shopping, but the bulk is either driving him to the gym or driving down to Piedmont so we can do a 2-mile walk. (Gym or walk every day!) Running-wise, for myself, I explore some of the trails around the area that I have not yet explored, including a nearby trail that is upwards of 15% grade for several miles.

I also am looking out for a local race and I do spot a DSE (Dolphin South End) summer race in South San Francisco. Since parking and traffic is usually pretty horrible, I decide that I will run to the race from Oakland (including some public transportation – I’m not crazy), do the race, and come back.

I wear a short sleeved tech shirt and running shorts and take the minimum with me: BART card, race entry fee, cell phone, a long sleeved shirt, and a paperback book (and a string backpack to hold the larger items).

It’s a couple miles down to Rockridge Station and few people are on the train heading into the city pre-rush hour. I read my book as I ride the train almost to the end (one transfer at 13th Street outbound, Lake Merritt inbound) and get off in Daly City. I look up the directions quickly on my cell phone (to save the battery) and then begin jogging over towards the start. It is confusing in places so I do pull out the phone two or three times to make sure that I don’t do any additional distance, but I think I did a little bonus trying to find the exact parking lot.

Of course, I allowed extra time and so there are few people hanging out or even setting up. I read for a bit more while they get their stuff together and then sign up.

This is one of these low-cost events with a single safety pin bib, but not as small as the LMJS runs I have done in the past. It’s a running club series and there is some kind of cumulative prize for best results. There are about 100 runners, all ages, and I am just going to follow people.

The race starts a little late (just making sure everything is totally set up) and I use that time to get my stuff comfortable. I find that if I cross strap the string backpack, it stays secure and doesn’t flop around a lot (put on normal, then pull left string over my head and repeat for right string). It pulls on my neck a bit, but I only have the long sleeve shirt and the book in there.

It’s a tough race because most people are fast and the course is on asphalt. I push as hard as I feel I can do without damaging my knees. Also, take into consideration that I ran nearly 7 miles just to get here.

There is a good combination of rolling hills to make me suffer. I walked a couple of times on some longer uphill stretches and manage to finish in 39:16, just slightly under 9:00/mile. That’s good enough for 5th (out of 5) in my division and 72nd overall. Hey, it’s just about running a fun event in a different area and getting in some “quality” miles.

Once I am done, I cannot dilly dally much as I would like to get back to Oakland at a decent hour. The walk back is through SF State by some dorms and all uphill. My feet hurt quite a bit and the distance is about the same as the entire race. Bag is less heavy as I have donned the long sleeve shirt over my sweaty running shirt (too sweaty to read and walk).

BART was a little bit more crowded and gets progressively worse as we move through The City, but I did get a seat at the beginning of the line and really only have to stand after I change trains.

Finally, the horrible walk back to the condo, because it’s all uphill, including that last 15% grade slog up Hiller Drive.

Boeing 5K (5) – 2019

June 10, 2019

Nothing particularly exciting to report about today’s Boeing 5K. I had a nice week and a half of recovery from my 50 miler and then one week later, I found myself cheering on, supporting, and pacing Alan Sheppard in his debut 100 miler (along with Laura and Mona).

Alan and I had talked extensively about his training and setting an appropriate pace. The debate was over doing a specific time or just with the goal to finish (though you can do both). i had created a pace sheet with a goal time of 28 hours (time limit 32), but didn’t go on straight pace but made best guesses based upon how other runners with 28 hour finishes had fared at each aid station.

Mona didn’t like my lack of confidence in Alan in finishing under 24 hours. (Let’s start with a finish first!)

The three of us drove down to Julian, picked up Alan’s drop bag from his mom and stepdad who were attending their grandson’s Julian HS graduation, and then made our way to the course to cheer him on and then have Mona pace him from 60-something to 80. Laura picked him up from 80 to 90, and I would take the homestretch.

I’ve only had a pacer myself in one race and I don’t really remember much of the conversation (and this was only a tough 50 miler), but the important part to remember is that you want to accede to the wishes of the runner – ie. stay with them, keep on the trail, not make them talk too much or suffer.

Our conversation was mostly about avoiding rocks (because Alan’s feet hurt a lot and rocks seem so much worse in sandals) and what flavor popsicle he wanted at a particular aid station. Later, Alan told me that he was going to talk about his recent job promotion, but his mind was fairly blank at that point.

I kept my eye on the total time. Both 24 hours and even our projected 28 hours was long since out the window, so we made the goal to finish under 30 hours (and as a subset, to finish in between my Rocky Raccoon 100 mile time and Kelly Motyka’s Western States 100 mile time).

Possibly the most exciting part of the run was tromping straight through the marshy swamp area (there was a mini bridge option but that would take some extra time) and then running up the final hill to finish to get to Alan’s entire family (and yes, his time was modestly slower than mine and slightly faster than Kelly’s!)

Although I didn’t run 100 miles, I had to rest on Sunday, and was not particularly in a great shape for a top Boeing 5K run, but I still managed a 26:29 time.