Monthly Archives: March 2014

Santa Monica Mountains 50K – 2012

November 18, 2012

I had previously run this race two years ago with the same racing company, Pacific Coast Trails.  This was the company that gave me food poisoning on the Headlands 50 miler.  However, the group had been bought out by a Northern California company and were going to put on the race (hopefully better).

Two years ago, it rained (a little) and I finished in 7:43… but this year I am 2 years older, and 10 ultramarathons in for 2012.  I’m not sure how it will go.

With any PC Trails run, the course consists of loops.  In this case, it is a 7.5 mile loop, then an 11.1 mile loop (with an aid station in the middle), the 7.5 mile loop again, and then a 5-mile portion of the second loop (2.5 up and 2.5 down).

The 7.5 mile loop is very technical.  At times it is rocky, and an early section involves stepping up narrow rock steps along the hillside.  About 3 miles in, there is a steep climb with an outstanding view of the coast, a turn onto a fire-road (very rough because it got muddy and dried out in a bad way), eventually working back to the rock step descent and the start.

I run when I can, but a lot of it, in my estimation, is unrunnable, at least for me.  I finish the section in 1:46, about a 14-minute-per-mile pace.

With the section being so rocky, the plantar fasciitis in my right foot is acting up.  I grit my teeth and work through it.

I don’t stop very long at the aid station, because I know the day could be close.  There is a time-limit of 8:30 (whereas the year I did 7:43, the limit was 9:00).

The first half of the second loop is a lo-ong uphill route.  It’s not super steep, but it’s hard to get anything going run-wise.  It is around 3 miles to the top.  At least it is not overly technical, but once to the top, there is a bit more climbing, and then it flattens out and then begins to go downhill steeply.  I’m not fond of this either, but I push a bit because I will probably need the time.

I pass a few people on the downhill, but don’t see a lot of people, probably indicating that I am towards the back.  At the bottom of the hill, there is still another mile or so to the aid station, but at least it is flat.  I cover the 5.3 miles in 1:32, about 17-minute-per-mile pace.

The second half of the loop backtracks to the base of the hill, but then it takes a different single-track course back up to the fire-road.  This trail is pretty technical and super-steep and unshaded.  To boot, I am starting to feel some hotspots in my heels.  Hopefully not blisters.

At the top of the single-track, it’s another mile to the top and then back down the 3 miles to the start.  I flew down the hill (hurts, but again, I am trying to make up time), and get through this 5.8 mile section in 1:35 (mildly faster than the pace on the first half section).

There were a couple of gals that I had been trailing that I caught near the bottom.  I am hoping to convince them to continue on the course, because otherwise, I am off by myself.  Yuck.  I am pretty close to 5 hours, which is the cutoff point, and it gives me 3-1/2 hours to do the last half marathon, but there is so much climbing! (and I’m tired)

In the end, the gals decide to quit, and I decide to continue… by myself.  I am mostly walking this section and hoping that I will catch up to someone else, to break up the boredom of going it alone.  It is now the heat of the day and the steep uphill section is taking a lot out of me and I just cannot move very rapidly.  I am also definitely getting heel blisters and dealing with my PF.

When I get back to the start, having taken 2 hours and 25 minutes to get through this section, I now have a scant hour and 18 minutes for the last 5 miles.

If this were a 5-mile race, I would say ‘no problem.’  But the reality is that I have already been up this hill once and if I go 2 minutes per mile FASTER than on the previous section, it will take me 85 minutes… too much time.  I should also mention that according to the map, the loop is 11K (but I have already done 40K).

In the brief time I am at the aid station, I am asking for a little leeway, but I am told that their permit requires that everyone be off the trail at 8-1/2 hours.  I plea again mentioning the discrepancy in the distance.  The RD says that I can turn around 0.5 kilometer early to make sure that I cover the 50K… but also adds, “Hey, we can’t really see the turnaround or enforce it.”

I would like to go to the correct turnaround, but I have a good idea how quickly I can descend, so decide that I will turn around when I have 28 minutes to get back to the finish.  Since I do not have a GPS, I will really have no idea how far I went.  I push the pace as best I can going up the hill (about 18:00/mile pace) and go as far as I feel I can still make it in on time – they’ve already said I can’t finish a few seconds over.

On the way down, I halve my pace, and finish in 8:27:41… guess I could have gone a few more minutes uphill, but it would have been even closer!

When I got to the finish, they saved me some lentil soup.  It was cold, but at least they didn’t try to assuage me with 8 cans of soda.

They also gave me a race shirt and PC Trails socks. This was unusual, because when you register for the race, you have an option to forgo the shirt (to save $5) and to order additional items like socks.  I didn’t order anything… but they gave me the shirt and socks because they said that I was inspirational for persevering, essentially by myself for the last 12.5 miles.  That was pretty cool, and now I have just one more ultra and I will have 12 for the year.  Hope my body will hold up.

Boeing 5K (11) – 2012

November 12, 2012

Last week, I tweaked my back.  It was also not a great week because I had to go to a memorial service for Mary Papavasiliou.  She had been undergoing treatment for cancer for several years, although in a different way than most people would.

I feel like I went through a similar issue 12 years ago when my mother’s sister and her husband both had cancer and tried alternative remedies… to no avail.  But with Mary, for the most part, it worked.  It wasn’t like she was going to suddenly do Radiation or Chemotherapy when she had been doing alternative treatments/raw food/juicing for 40 years.  She was one-of-a-kind and will be missed.

I woke Monday morning and I felt like crap.  I thought I might have to walk, but as the run progressed, I began to feel better.  I finished in 24:47, a smidge under 8:00/mile pace.

LA Cancer Challenge 10K – 2012

October 28, 2012

LA Cancer Challenge 10K is my 30th race of the year, and guess what number I got?  #3030!  Very weird.

Yesterday, Laura, Chuck and I did a 12-mile trail run near Azusa and it was pretty exhausting… and then afterwards, I am headed off to Long Beach Hash to do a Halloween run… so do not want to overdo it… and it’s not as if I am going to place in the top 3 in my age group anyway…

The course is two loops, starting with around a mile of up- and downhill, about a mile of flat, slightly downhill, and then a mile-plus of flat, with one quick uphill.

I did pretty well on the first mile or so.  Although I do try and avoid running hills in general, these hills aren’t horrible (after all, it is ‘just’ a 10K).  8:23.  The downhill-flat takes me 7:46, and I finish off with 9:06 for a first 5K of 25:12.

For the second half, I try and power-walk up the hill, because I am not feeling like running as hard and know I will not break 50 minutes.

The second time up the hill, I drop to a 9:26 mile, then follow that with 8:02 for the flat/downhill section, and finish off the last 1.1 in 10:55, for a net second half of 28:33.

In essence, it is a 8-minute/mile 5K followed by a 9-minute/mile 5K.  Nowadays I am good with that.