Monthly Archives: June 2014

New Year’s Day 5M – 2014

January 1, 2014

I got permission to run the New Year’s Day 5M.  I know that sounds odd, but tomorrow I have an all-day physical at the Cooper Clinic and I have to abstain from exercise for 24 hours (let’s fudge and say 21.5 hours) and fast and avoid alcohol for 12 hours.  I am excited that this race has a Clydesdale category.  I have a chance of getting an award (and they go 5 deep in Clydesdale, because it covers ALL age groups).

The course is slightly changed from the past.  Last year, when I was here, there was all sorts of construction going on.  The construction is finished, and part of the results is a nice pedestrian bridge.  Instead of running along a rather pot-holey road and a sharp turn onto the pedestrian path, there is a nice straightaway and a gentler turn.

It’s about 41 degrees out (despite the start time of 10am), which is a bit cold for me.  I take the first mile in 7:36, and the second in 7:54.

From this point to the turn-around, the wind picks up a bit.  I can start to see the runners coming back and I set my eye on various people that I think may be in my same category… and determine whether I will be able to catch them on my way back.  I slow a bit in this 3rd mile to 8:08, and further slow my pace on the fourth mile to 8:27.

I sprint in the last bit of the last mile, in a desperate attempt to break 40:00, but come up a bit short and finish in 40:08.  (It wasn’t as if I would have a PR, but it is nice to break 40 minutes).

When I looked at the results, they had placed me in the M40-44, and not in the Clydesdale (even though I registered in advance AND checked that box).  This race even has THREE different weight categories (Clydesdale 190 – 214, Rhino 215 – 239, and Hippo 240+).  Since they haven’t done the awards yet, I am able to rectify the situation, thus bumping out of first place the guy I was talking to post-race (though he did come in at least 20-30 seconds behind me).

The award, as usual, is a champagne flute with the race information etched on it.  And, as usual, we are the last ones to have our awards announced, so there are only a small handful of people to witness my “triumph.”

At my physical the following day, the physician comments that I must have done a race because the “recovery”  from an injury results show I caused some damage to my muscles (this happens every time anybody runs, and does not indicate an actual injury). Just like my dang sister, he says.  I KNEW I was as good as my sister at something!

Carrollton Runners 1M/5K – 2013

December 29, 2013

A second day of racing with the smaller clubs in Dallas (or actually, Carrollton), Texas.  This race WAS much smaller.

First, we start out with a mile, and then the 5K comes afterwards.  My concern was that I didn’t want to overdo it and not have a good 5K run, so I decided that I would race-walk and just see what I could do.  There were about 24 runners and I finished in 21st in 10:22.  If there had been age group awards, I would have won my age group (1 of 1).

For the 5K, it is basically the 1M route start and out to the far reaches of the parking lots to the turnaround.  The “chip” (RFID) timing has a monitor at the turn-around so that you can find out if you ran positive or negative splits.  I’m not sure how close my splits were because I didn’t register properly with the system.

At the awards ceremony, I was “only” 4th in my age group (no Clydesdale, again =(  ), however, they gave out some awards based upon (maybe) improvement between the mile pace and the overall pace in the 5K.  (They told me I had the best age graded course PR, but I didn’t run a course PR.  I had a better time in 2010.)  However, I will take a $10 Subway Card in a $2 race!

Plano Pacers Holiday Hustle 8K – 2013

December 28, 2013

Once again, I am in Dallas, TX, for Christmas with my family.  I try to make it a point to run 2-3 races while I am here… several small ones as well as the New Year’s 5M near White Rock Lake.

It is generally cold in Dallas in December (though it was warmer about a week ago), though the temperature is in the 40s (cold, but not horrible).

This Plano Pacers course (which I have done several times) is basically flat, but I am not totally back to normal.  As usual, in the weeks that followed the last 50K, I have low energy and a bit of sickness.

In the past, these races are pretty sparsely attended, but they are doing some kind of charity fundraiser for a girl who died tragically or had cancer (I’m not sure which). All I can remember was that the family name was Nichols, so they were handing out nickels.  The start was super crowded and I hung back a bit and on the few occasions that there were “hills,” I walked them (probably about 3-5 minutes of net walking time).

I ran a decent time of 40:42 for 5 miles, but there was no Clydesdale category (as there has been in the past), so I ended up in about 8th place in my age group (not like I need another medal or mini-trophy).

I visited briefly with a few “friends,” aka people that I recognize and may recognize me from past races, and then headed back to Dallas, since I have my parents’ car, and they may want it back.

Boeing 5K (12) – 2013

December 9, 2013

Since my legs are pretty sore from the muddy 50K 2 days ago, I decided to walk the (final) Boeing 5K of the year.  I didn’t know if I would have anyone to walk with (yes, there are walkers, but most walk slower than I walk), so I brought Book 2 of the Game of Thrones series – A Clash of Kings.

I was able to read about 30 pages. Seems as if my average reading speed is about 10 pages per mile (though I think I read about 15 pages per mile at my last 12 hour “race”).  I think I ended up annoying the other participants, though, since I finished in about 43 minutes.

Malibu 50K – 2013

December 7, 2013

Normally at this time of year, I am running the Ridgecrest 50K… but because they like to do their race on the first Sunday in December and that fell the weekend after Thanksgiving, I was not willing to zoom back down to run the race… but I still wanted to do a nice December 50K… so I opted for the Bulldog course which I have done loads of times.

I knew that I would know several people at the event, including Laura Sohaskey and Taffy Tingley (from the LA Hash) because I knew in advance they would be there.  I drove up on my own with the possible intent of visiting my aunt and uncle afterwards in Northridge. Laura also wasn’t sure what distance she would be doing… because of the impending rain.

As the race began, it was raining lightly and never really went into a downpour, but the fact remained that the rain made the ground super muddy and saturated.  This made for some slow going, especially on the initial mini-hill climb and descent.  After the water crossing (which was more raging than usual), I reached the first aid station (before the REAL climb) in 32 minutes (for 2.7 miles).

Heading up the hill, it was like skiing uphill and very tiring.  I was happy to get to flat (muddy) sections and then onto rock faces (not muddy).  The volunteers at aid station #2 said that people looked pretty worn out.  I did manage 18 minute miles which is not bad considering the hill and the mud.

From this point, I knew it was downhill to the third aid station at the M*A*S*H film site… however, I knew that I don’t do particularly well on muddy downhill. Yes, I know I keep mentioning how muddy it was, but it was difficult.  On the downhills (since it had stopped raining by now), the mud was thick and not super slick.  This created a problem as my shoes were caked with mud and I could not effectively run downhill.  I did my best to use any part of the hill that was not muddy, but there weren’t a lot of options.  It took me 55 minutes to go 4.5 miles DOWNHILL!

Once I got to the aid station, the rain started up again.  The creative folks at the aid station had stored the dry food in one of the rusted out “ambulance” trucks.  Fortunately, this section after the aid station is mostly on a creekbed and I had the opportunity to get the mud off my shoes… just in time for another muddy section.

I made it back to the start finish in 3:44, which meant I had about 30 minutes to spare to be on pace to finish in under 8-1/2 hours.  En route to the aid station, I saw John Hampton.  He looked the way I felt… waterlogged.  At the aid station, I saw Laura and Taffy… and they were going to throw in the towel (after they used it to dry off).

Laura, Emmett and Taffy at Halfway (or all the way).

Laura, Emmett and Taffy at Halfway (or all the way).

As I headed off on the second loop (argh), I saw Yolanda Holder (the World Record Holder for most Marathons in a year).  She was probably 20 minutes behind me and walking fast.

The mini-hill the second time was not as bad because it wasn’t raining, but I was tired.  The water crossing was much deeper than before, but it didn’t really matter at that point.  However, it did take me 11 minutes longer than before.

Heading up the steep hill was less muddy because it had dried out somewhat.  However, it was very lonely, as I did not see anyone, at all, for probably the entire ascent.  I couldn’t really get going up the hill, and ended up averaging 22 minutes per mile.

I kept an eye on my time knowing that I could lose a certain amount of time on each section and still finish under the time limit.  I had already lost 33 minutes on the course and could lose up to an hour and still finish in time.

I did a little better on the downhill section, ONLY losing 9 minutes.  I sure am cutting it close!

On the remaining section, I ended up getting passed by Yolanda (the “indignity!”) and ended up finishing LAST.  This seems to happen to me frequently on these courses, but more than anything, it usually points to people dropping out and my insistence on making it all the way to the finish.

Afterwards, because I like to save money, I limped out the 0.5 mile to my car, and then drove over my aunt and uncle’s for a visit and dinner.

Piedmont Turkey Trot 5K – 2013

November 28, 2013

Back to Piedmont for my hometown Turkey Trot.  The race has only been around for the last several years and does not date back to when I lived here.  It ran by my childhood home, which my parents sold back in 2005. =(

The race has always been pretty small and a 3M course.  When I was in middle school, it was a 5K course called The Feet Meet.  In my family, this course is known as “the route,” because it is what my parents walk for exercise when they are in California, and is a scenic 5K around Piedmont.  I almost used this course probably 30 years ago when I wanted to stage my own Ironman Triathlon (500 laps in our pool, 37 loops of “the route” on my bike, and 9 loops on foot) – I was not a runner at this point, but I thought it would be a good challenge… that would probably take me an entire summer.

The course is slightly different this year… I think, hence, why it is a 5K and not a 3-miler.  They have also put in reasonable age groups… since last time Mom and Dad “competed,” the top age group was 50+, which is hardly fair to people 60+… just like I don’t want to compete with high schoolers!

In the actual race, I did my best to run nearly all of the course.  The hardest part is the run up Wildwood Avenue.  It is not super steep, but is significantly uphill and goes for about 5 sucky blocks.  Then, normally, the course turns onto Crocker and continues straight for a 1/4 mile, but to add the extra tenth, we turn and go around a long block back to Crocker, which heads downhill (basically negating the uphill from before) to Saint James.

Saint James is another street with a slight uphill, which gets steeper and steeper before culminating in an extremely steep (but short) section up Hampton… but today, we turn a long block sooner (still uphill, but not steep) and connect to Hampton sooner.

Finally, there is the long slog up Seaview.  Again, with the continuous uphill for a half-mile, and then mostly downhill to the finish.

One part that I am used to is crossing over Highland Avenue, going about a block, and shooting straight into the high school driveway and finishing.  This year, we go THREE blocks (!) to Hillside, and that ends up with an UPHILL finish.

The race was super crowded and I did walk a little… but I am pretty good at maximizing my speed while walking and then being able to run faster when I am running… so I did do 24:43 (officially) which is right around 8:00/mile… but that was only good enough for 35th place in the 40-49 division.

Afterwards, I went back out on the course to try and find my parents and sister… and ended up walking and talking with a bunch of people I had not seen in a while, including a bearded Josh Eichhorn (Class of ’91) and his sister Rebecca (Class of ’88).  He was only just ahead of my family, so I wouldn’t exactly call him a runner.

Mom, Dad and Marisa came in around 50 minutes… and Mom & Dad ended up in the Pewter division (aka 4th), which resulted in no special prizes… except our own special prize of spending Thanksgiving together as a family.

Boeing 5K (11) – 2013

November 11, 2013

There is a larger group than usual for the Boeing 5K, because today is actually Veterans’ Day and some people have the day off.  It’s a prediction run, which I never do well on… though they do let us wear our watches.

It would probably be better if they only allowed people to make predictions that were somewhat faster than they could comfortably run, so that people could not do what I did and slow down quite a bit in order to hit as close to my time as possible.

I felt good (for once) on the run, but when I got to the last driveway before the final turn, I stopped to walk to come closer to my predicted time of 25:48, and ran 25:50 to achieve the Prediction Run “Win.”

LA Cancer Challenge 5K/10K – 2013

October 27, 2013

I like to run the LA Cancer Challenge run around Halloween as support for my late friend Heather Stevens and Pancreatic Cancer research.  We used to get a lot of AREC runners at this event, but another event has superseded the popularity of going to this event (maybe the Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon… and the Beach Derby (formerly Distance Derby)).  It is unfortunate that so many cool events are all on the same day.

I am still not completely back to normal.  I have had some back and knee issues after my 19 mile slog in the Cleveland National Forest, so I know I will probably not have my best result.

As is somewhat typical for this time of year, it is overcast and downright foggy.  I am running a little late, but I still get my typical street parking spot for free close by.  I am not late for the race, but I wanted to get an early start so that I get a good parking spot and don’t have to pay $10 to park on the VA ground and then be unable to get out quickly when I want to leave.

The 10K course and the 5K course are the same except the 10K is two laps around the course.  After YEARS of doing the course, I don’t like it any better, though it is a good challenge with all of the hills.  My splits are indicative of where the hills hit (8:27, 8:14, 10:32 (hill), 10:14 (tired from hill), 8:16, 10:18 (1.2 miles)).  Given the lack of conditioning, I am satisfied with any time under an hour.

About 15 minutes after I finish, I then toe the line for the 5K.  My legs feel off, so I decide that I will walk (somewhat racewalk) until the soreness recedes.  It never really does, so I decide that I will race-walk the 5K instead, and manage miles of 11:40, 10:53, and 12:34 (1.1).  I get a little applause, as I do pass several runners in the run-up to the finish line.

I am wet and cold (and in my tank top), so I decide to go to my car, change, and then head back home.  However, when I get to my car, I realize that I have not packed my run bag at all… so I figure, I will put on my new race shirt… but when I opened the packet, they gave me a CHILD’s large.

Fortunately, I had my HHH 500 Run jacket, so I stripped off my wet tank top, and zipped that up.  It was comfortable, but I am not usually the sort that wears no shirt and just a jacket (even THOUGH I was born in the 70s).

Twin Peaks Fat Ass 50K (DNF) – 2013

October 19, 2013

Despite not having done a long run of any kind (recently), I was making a decision whether to try the Twin Peaks 50M or 50K.  However, my decision was waylaid for a bit because of the government shutdown.  Yes, they apparently decided to close all of the National Parks because that takes a lot of work to keep the trees green.  Lots of manpower.

I ultimately did not sign up because they did not know if the race would go on or not.  Five days before the race, it was cancelled, and then the next day, the government shutdown ended, and so the race was (partially) reinstated.  Once the race had been cancelled, the Race Director freed her volunteers from their commitment, so once she reinstated it, most had made other plans.

Therefore, she decided to put on a “Fat Ass.”  Usually, a “Fat Ass” is when runners do their own unsupported race for fun.  In this case, they invited anyone to come out and do the event, but that the trails would not be marked and there would be minimal aid stations, and the total distance would be “only” 50K.

Against my better judgment, I decided to give the 50K a try.  Lauren and I were going to maybe run together, but when I got there, Lauren had decided to go straight to the top of Santiago.  I thought if I am going to drive all the way to Indian Truck Trail, I might as well go for the whole thing, even if it was an 8:00am start (it could get hot).

Probably a couple of dozen people set out.  I remember from last year that the first 6 miles uphill is pretty endless… so I just walk that entire section.  About two miles from the top, I think that I am hearing classical music.  I mean, I often hear it in my head, but not usually in the mountains in the middle of nowhere.

Around the next corner, is a Chinese girl with classical music coming from her backpack.  She is also attempting the 50K, but is a bit surprised about how endless the uphill is.  I give her an update about what is coming up on the course (hills, hills, hills) and we go together for a bit and chat.

When we get to the top (where last year there was an aid station), there is no aid station and I am pretty gassed.  Unofficially, about 2 hours to cover 6.5 miles.  From my notes, I see I have about 4 miles to the next aid station, and there is a net gain of 100 feet.  I already know about this section – there is another HUGE hill and then a bit of a descent, resulting in a net gain of 100 feet, but this is no flat section.

A little less than two miles into this section and the Chinese girl (Cherry) tells me that she has other plans today and has decided to head back (since it will probably take a while, despite there being a bunch of downhill).  I get a little further and I feel really off.

I am feeling, especially because there is no negativity associated with not finishing this event, that I should not continue, but I decide to sit down and try and regain myself (and possibly wait for the next runners to pass by).  I know that Jim Tello is sweeping and is still behind me.

I sit for about 15 minutes and eat 3 Clif Blox (of the package of 6 in my back pocket).  I feel a bit better, but continue to sit and recuperate.

After a few more minutes, I see Jim and a couple of other people a half mile back.  This reconstitutes me a bit and I decide to move on towards the next check-point and make a further decision there.

Turns out, that aid station was not that far around the corner, and is staffed by Steve Harvey, who puts on several trail events from Blue Jay Campground (notably my DNF’ed Old Goats 50 this year). I gulp down a lot of water and set for a while.  I think that I am going to quit here, but Steve reminds me that it is all downhill to the next aid station (and yes, there will be an aid station).  At worst, this is a long, tough trail run.  (10.5 miles in 3 hours and 15 minutes!)

I begin heading down the hill.  There are a couple of gals behind me (plus the sweep), but they are not THAT close.  Because the course is not marked, there are a couple of spots where I have to make a decision as to where the trail goes.  This is all from memory from last year.  I chose… wisely.  But it is slow going, despite being downhill (REAL downhill, not just perceived or net downhill).  The temperature is going up, too, which is not helping one bit.

When I get to the bottom of the hill, there is a mile-long slog through a cabin area (it’s flat, but HOT).  I am going about the same pace as some hikers (who I have a brief conversation with – they can’t believe I am planning on doing 31 miles).

Finally, I reach the aid station.  Unbelievably, it is at a slower pace (98 minutes for 4 miles) than the last section, though I think it may have to do with guessing which way to go.  This AS is staffed by Chris Harrison (only celebrity names on this run!) and I fill up on lemonade and sugar cookies.

I feel, again, like I want to quit, but Chris tells me that it is a LONG drive out of here and I will have to wait for her to pack up the aid station.  I figure that I may as well continue, but just take it slow.  I fill my water bottles full and begin my slog up the hill.

This hill is Holy Jim.  This is THE toughest trail out here.  It is 4.5 miles long and about 4000′ of elevation gain.

I did OK on the first bit of slope (which is part of the worst and in the direct sunlight), but as soon as I got to the (Endless) switchbacks, I started to fall apart.  Every time I emerged from the shade into sunlight, I got overwhelmed with the heat.  To combat this, when I got back into the shade, I would sit down and recuperate.

Unfortunately, these breaks averaged 10-15 minutes each.  I kept waiting for the 2 gals behind me to catch up.  I had been about 10 minutes behind the guy in front of me, but with each additional break, I was guessing he was getting an HOUR ahead of me.

I felt HORRIBLE.  At this point, I just wanted to get to the top and STOP.  (And hope that I could get a ride back down to my car at the start.)  I figured, once I get to the top, I would just wait for the sweep (Jim) and then he presumably had a walkie-talkie to radio a ride (or he could run up and ask for a ride).

At about 2 hours in (2 hours on a 4.5 mile trail!), I could see the top of the trail, but it wasn’t getting closer very fast.  Walk 100 yards, and stop for 5 minutes (and try to cool off).  Repeat. Repeat.  Repeat.

At about 2-1/2 hours, Jim finally caught up to me, sans 2 other runners.  He said that they had started out on the Holy Jim Trail, but were suffering in the heat and hills.  He persuaded them to turn around and backtrack 3/4 mile to the last aid station and get a ride out with Chris… then he trekked back up the hill himself to continue sweeping.  (I could not have gone up the hill a second time – bleh.)

Jim was very patient and stopped with me (but what can he do?  He’s the sweep.).  Just as we reached the downhill section… you basically get to the level of the top road and then descend into a shaded area (and then climb back out to the road)… Jim saw a runner he recognized and chatted with him for a bit while I continued up.

I finally reached the road (not an aid station, though), after 3 hours and 9 minutes.  THREE HOURS and 9 minutes for 4-1/2 miles!!!  Waiting up there was the guy who had been 10 minutes ahead of me at the last aid station… and he had been there about 10 minutes.  So, I was not the only one to struggle up the hill.  Jim joined us a few minutes later.

I asked if he would go on ahead and get a ride for us back.  I had nothing left.  Well, neither did Jim.  We all lazed there (“lazed” in the sense that we had all been on our feet for 7+ hours), while Jim tried to radio up to the aid station.  It was a bit frustrating because we could hear them talking about the sweep, but they could not hear us.  Eventually, he got through, and about 20 minutes later, a truck came down the road and picked us up.  Relief, at last!

When we got to the bottom, I hung out for a while with RD Jessica, Jim, and the finishers.  Those who finished did struggle a bit, so I wasn’t the only one.

I appreciated that despite the fact that the race was cancelled and then reinstated, the race director still put together a good event (albeit scaled down).  She has also told me she would give runners the benefit of the doubt if they were in good shape and could finish the race (a little) over the time limit. (She also likes a good beer, and that’s an excellent person in my book.)

I will have to give this event another try (maybe with a 5-hour headstart!) to see if I can get through this difficult course.  Not having hot weather would help.


Boeing 5K (10) – 2013

October 14, 2013

The last race I ran was one month ago… and it is pretty close to the last time I ran as well.

On September 19th (also my sister’s 40th birthday), I left for a few days in England with my parents and sister, Marisa.  From there, we flew to Tanzania and Kenya and went on a 12 day safari.  There was a lot of sitting, and not a lot of walking around.  (If I am running, I am running from a lion!  Though there was a “Masai Mara Marathon” the day we left.

The week AFTER I got back, I was on a screwed up sleep schedule and not doing a lot of running.  I also think that the Malarone I have to continue to take doesn’t help that much.

My body feels off from the lack of running (as usual), and it is a bit warm today (but not as muggy as Africa).  On the other hand, I am able to run the entire way!  I clock a 9:00, 7:33, and 9:06 (1.1) mile for my best showing in months.  It is NICE to have those electrodes off!

As a postscript, I got a follow-up on the month-long Holter monitor that they detected no irregular heartbeats.  I think I might have heat-related issues when trying to run faster… or I am just getting older.