Monthly Archives: October 2016

Summer Nights 5K (3) – 2016

August 4, 2016

My right knee has been bugging me the last few weeks.  I already know that I have Runner’s Knee, and it pops a bit when I leave it bent for too long.  Mostly, it is extra sore when I am pounding it extra hard on pavement (trails or dirt feel better, mostly).

The third (and final for me (not going to Brea)) Summer Night is being held for the first time at Huntington Beach Central Park (where I have run dozens of races).  It is an interesting set-up because there is some major construction going on in an area where we would normally run, so instead of a really interesting loop, it is basically running out to the far end of the park (by the arboretum, and not by the horse and dog area that we regularly run in) and doing three loops of mostly the same thing and a lot of paved path.

I was running a bit late and ended up signing in to race at 6:27pm, with a 6:30pm start.  I basically pinned my number on AS I started the run.  There were not going to be a lot of AREC folks, but I knew Birthday Boy Mark Vishnevsky was going to be there, so I wanted to at least go by and say, “Hi.”  Instead of the 15-20 folks, there were 6 of us.  Still a lot of high schoolers, though.

I decided to run with my GPS watch, because it can tell me what my average pace per mile is AND my best pace within that mile… so if I slow down, I can see what my fastest pace is (probably when I ramp back up).

Mile 1, I cover in 7:39, and my best pace is 6:46.  I’m getting my feel for the course and also I am amidst a lot of young runners.  The one section of unfamiliar grass is VERY lumpy and I do almost trip a couple of times.

For Mile 2, I slow down a bit (walk a tad) and do 8:35 (best pace 6:29).

And for the last mile, I want to finish strong, though I don’t want to overdo it, as I have an ultramarathon on Sunday and a 6-hour drive to Oakland tomorrow.  So I do 9:15 (best pace 7:02 – probably the last 200 yards) and finish in 25:09, a little over 8:00 pace.

Mark comes in 4th overall in the race (best 5K EVER at age 36!).

Summer Nights 5K (2) – 2016

July 21, 2016

Weather has been in the 80s in the evenings and humid (for S. California).  There is a larger crowd today at Summer Nights, probably because the high schoolers either have started Cross Country training or are not out of town for 4th of July weekend.

I don’t mind running with a lot of teenagers, though it makes you feel somewhat slow because most of them have endless energy and also have trained to go hard for 3+ miles (whereas I can do decently fast for 3+ miles but can go consistently (or at least, ponderously) for 31+ miles).

I held my own for the first mile or so (that’s never a problem), clocking in at 7:35, but then I mixed in some walking.  This is when I got passed by Kevin McKee (who said, “Lookin’ good!” – Love the enthusiasm; I try to do that, too, but I don’t think I was ‘lookin’ good.’).

I tried to make sure I stayed ahead of the speedy AREC ladies and I did that, even though my 2nd mile was 9:41 and my third mile (1.1) was 10:18 (probably around 9:41 for the mile).

With my fast early mile, I was able to keep my overall pace under 9:00/mile and finish in 27:44 (5th in the 45-49 age group – the winner of which also went to Piedmont High School, Class of 1989, Drew Sells).

After I chugged a half liter of water, I doubled back to find Kathy Massanet (about a half-mile back) and walk-jogged in with her.

Boeing 5K (7) – 2016

July 11, 2016

All weekend I volunteered at the Santa Barbara 100M/100K.  It’s always so inspirational to watch people finish this race, because it is so difficult.  (I have run some similar courses in here and had mixed results.)  You think of Santa Barbara of having a temperate clime, but this is not the coast.

Things went better this year, logistically speaking.  Less confusion, better radio reporting, less running around with chicken heads chopped off.

I was up almost the entire time (36+ hours), so I don’t expect a great run this morning, but would like something comparable to last week’s 5K or 10K races.

First mile was 7:37 and second mile was 8:01.

For my third mile, since I was destined to finish under 8:00/mile pace, I slowed down a bit.  Why?  Because today is a prediction run and I had predicted 24:47 (sub-8:00 pace) and knew I would be less close to that unless I slowed down… so last 1.1 mile was in 8:54 and I finished in 24:35.

Summer Nights 5K (1) – 2016

July 7, 2016

Third race this week.  Just weird timing, I guess.

Summer Nights format changed a little bit this year, mostly because the running store that hosted it is no longer located on Carson Blvd., across from Heartwell Park, where we have been running it.

Last year, you got a couple of soft tacos at the end of the race, and this year, you are getting shaved ice.  (Hope it is hot after the runs!)  Also, last year, there were 3 runs, all in Heartwell Park.  This year, there are four runs, with two in Heartwell, one in Huntington Beach Central Park, and one in Brea (probably won’t attend that one).

There are a bunch of young people at this race, but not a ton.  You have to sublimate your desire to go out fast, because you probably won’t be able to stay with all of these folks at the pace you think you can manage.  My immediate goal today is to run the whole race (though I could probably walk a bit and still finish close to 8:00/mile) and not have the heat-induced increased heart-rate that freaked me out a couple of years ago.

My first mile (which we all agree was not entirely accurate) was 7:23, with the second mile in 8:27 (slightly long).  I get that it’s tough to put the miles in the right spots, but don’t we all have a GPS system to get it pretty close to accurate?

After getting passed by “Check-Out-My-Abs” Jesus Rodriguez a little earlier in the course, I could not manage enough to catch him back up, and finished about 40 second behind him in a respectable 24:43.  (Comparable to my first lap at La Palma, and that was on a road, and this is cross country.)

I enjoyed the Shaved Ice, but would prefer to have a soft taco instead.

La Palma 4th of July 10K – 2016

July 4, 2016

Back again for another La Palma 4th of July 10K.  I would probably have a streak of 12 years, but one year, I ran a 15K with Mark and Michelle for free, but I do enjoy doing this local race.  I heard a rumor this year (don’t tell anybody) that this race might not continue.  The crowds look at big as usual, but I think there is starting to be a recession from people being excited about running (it ebbs and flows), so hopefully this race isn’t a casualty of this issue.

I used the GPS again, to see where I was at in the second half of the race, because being with everyone in the 5K tends to pull me along to a good first half time (and also it warms up on the second half).

My first lap (5K) was 24:23, close to my best runs for a 5K this year (within a minute or so), and so, on the second half, I did take some walking breaks.

Towards the end, I was passed by Nick Kincaid.  We usually finish close together, either with him finishing just behind me or passing me early enough that I can’t make up the stagger.  I did my best to stay within range of him and caught him right at the finish (timing showed we had identical times).

And, for the first time in a few years, I got an age group award.  My theory of being the youngest in my current age group holds up, I guess.

Stars and Stripes 5K – 2016

July 3, 2016

Decided I would walk down to visit Mark and Michelle, because they were putting on a holiday weekend series of races.  I also wanted to try out my GPS watch that Doug Atkin had refurbished, then given to me.

It was kind of fun to see minute changes in pace as I sped up or slowed down, or came to a stop.

Mark told me that I should run to the turnaround with Michelle and then he would give me credit for a 5K race (since there were still people out there).  When Michelle stopped for a powder room break, I decided that I would (race) walk until Michelle caught up to me (which never happened).

I felt pretty good (racewalk-wise) and maintained a consistent pace the whole way.  I was probably the fastest racewalker, except that they didn’t have that category.  I finished in 36:10, which is one of my better walking 5Ks.

I helped them clean up and then walked back home to rest before tomorrow’s race.

Boeing 5K (6) – 2016

June 13, 2016

Today is another recovery 5K after an ultra.  In case you are new to these posts, I am currently in the middle of a streak with these runs.  The runs are held once a month on the second Monday of the month at 11:50am.  If there is rain, the run is postponed for a week.  If there is rain the following week, it can get cancelled (or postponed to the following month).

I previously had a streak of 57 consecutive runs.  This was roughly six years (because there was a year where 3/4 of the runs were cancelled due to construction).  I was able to maintain that streak even through getting called to Jury Duty because I ended up with an extended lunch.

On my current streak, I was able to continue despite being released from the hospital a few hours earlier, as well as a few times where I was not going to be in town, but it rained and postponed the event.

There are two people who (currently) have longer streaks than I have – Peter Lew, with 120 consecutive runs (10 years!) and Nelson Slagle with 101 consecutive runs.  If all goes well, I should reach 100 consecutive 5Ks in September of this year (pretty much 8+ years).  Peter thinks I can reach his record, but it really depends upon what my life has in store in the next couple of years.

So, today, even though I am going to fully walk the course (and not really be competitive), I will continue my streak.  For the record, it took me 23 minutes to halfway and 19 minutes coming back.  SLOW.

Shadow of the Giants 50K – 2016

June 11, 2016

Two months and two days ago, I had emergency surgery on my left elbow.  Just before I went into surgery, I talked with the Trauma Surgeon, Dr. Tran.  He had done an Ironman Triathlon, so understood about the long training runs (but I had yet to convince him to run an ultramarathon).  He asked me what my next big run was and I said that I hoped to do Shadow of the Giants 50K in two months time.  He said that with the proper recovery I would probably have no problem being able to run the race.

Flash forward to two months and one day later, and Stephanie Harris and I are driving up from Long Beach to Fish Camp.  In the car we talked about the possibility of staying an extra day and driving around Yosemite (since Stephanie had never been).  I said that I was not interested, mostly because I had said that I would try to attend my friend’s 70th birthday party on Saturday evening.  (If we went to Yosemite, I wouldn’t get back in time.)  Maybe another trip.

We got up to Fish Camp a bit early.  It’s not a big town, so there isn’t a lot to do to pass the time, and once we got to the Outdoor School/Race Start, it would just be reading, napping, and eventually sleeping.  We picked up our bibs and then decided what we would do next. Stephanie suggested that we drive into Yosemite and that she would buy me dinner.  I didn’t have a ton of gas in the car (and didn’t really want to pay the exorbitant prices within the park) but enough that we could probably see a few sites (it had been nearly 20 years since I had camped in the park with my college friends Kevin, Cecilia, and Josh just before I moved to Southern California).

She paid the entrance fee (and noted that it was good for a whole week) and coasted down into the park (saved gas).  We stopped by a vista point to look at Bridal Veil Falls.  Wow.  What a beautiful time of day.  It was a little busy because some TV cameras were there talking about President Obama flying in to survey the park later in the month (and if it would be disruptive (Yeah, I think so.)).  We were nearly hit by a car going about 20 miles per hour over the speed limit (who zooms through Yosemite?), but my new car has great brakes!

We drove down a little further, and climbed up a path at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.  Wet, but beautiful.


We tried to figure out where the old Ahwahnee Hotel was.  The hotel is still there, but after a dispute with the old food vendor over trademarked names, the park renamed all the buildings, even though they had had the same names for 50+ years.  So, the result for us was that we didn’t know if the Yosemite Lodge was what we were looking for.  (Still not sure.)

Since we didn’t find what we wanted, I decided that we should drive back towards the entrance before it got too late (or dark), but we got caught up in a long line of cars trying to check in to their campsites, and we moved about one mile in 40 minutes.  So frustrating.

There wasn’t much to stop at where we could eat on the route back, except for the General Store about five miles from the exit.  We ended up getting cold sandwiches, plus Stephanie got some souvenirs for friends.

By the time we exited the park, it was getting dusky, so best for us to return to the Outdoor School in Fish Camp, find some bunk beds and get some sleep.

We found a nice cabin and got all settled.  I had planned to read (using my headlamp) regardless if the lights were on or off.  The lights ended up being on and off quite a bit, the primary offenders being a group of Japanese-American runners who didn’t seem to understand why the people trying to sleep in the dark would be upset with the lights coming on.  They mostly countered with, “We were here first, so we should determine when everyone goes to sleep.”  I guess, if you lack any common courtesy.

On perhaps the third time this happened, I said something like, “We’ve asked you about 20 times to not turn the lights on.”  Now while I am not an 8:30pm asleep kind of person, I try to stay with what the crowd wants.  (Back in 2011, at Javelina Jundred, my roommates went to bed at 7:00pm, so I went down to the hotel TV room and stayed there until I was ready to go to bed, rather than insisting that they follow MY sleep patterns.)

The “leader” of this group became quite irate with me (and the others in the cabin who agreed with me) and wanted us to get out of our sleeping bags and engage in fisticuffs with him.  Seriously?  He wanted us all thrown out.  We are ALL here for a race.  Why are you being such an a**hole?  I suggested he get the race director, my buddy Baz Hawley, to settle the situation.

So, Baz comes into the cabin (the light having been on this entire time with antagonistic Japanese ladies glaring at us) and tries to quell the situation.  The ringleader is being pretty unreasonable.  Baz offers a separate cabin for them to stay up as late as they want, and he keeps insisting that the rest of us move (because, remember, they were there first!).  Finally, they agree to move and start loudly getting their stuff out of the cabin.

I’m glad Baz did this.  I didn’t want to get into a fight over sleeping arrangements.  He and I have had a good rapport, and a funny memory from the 21K at Blue Jay Campground earlier this year.  He did a shortcut about a mile out from the start so he could high-five all the runners as they went by.  I offered a really high-five (so high he couldn’t jump up and hit it).  It was a funny moment between us.

So, as Baz leaves, I say to him, “High-five, Baz, high-five.”  The lead Japanese guy stops, turns to me, and says, “Had to have the last word, did you?”  Dude, I wasn’t even talking to you.  I’m talking to my buddy, Baz.

Finally, the lights go out, but it is a struggle for me to get to sleep now, because my adrenaline is thrumming, and I cannot relax.  Probably, I got 2-3 hours of real sleep, if that.

In the morning, the plan is for Stephanie to take the one hour early start, even though I do not think she will need it (but it helps for confidence to make the aid stations and not be stressed out about cutoffs).  A couple other gals in our cabin are also taking the early start so they can look out for each other.  The Japanese folks are milling around the mess hall area, still glaring at me, but I don’t really care.  I’m running my own race.

After Stephanie starts and I am waiting for my own start, I run into Rob McNair, from Huntington Beach, who I occasionally see at some ultras.  He has run every single Shadow of the Giants (30+) and even won some of them.  I always find the Legacy runners pretty cool.  We chatted about the previous night’s situation.  He was in the other cabin, but it was pretty loud, so everybody heard everything.

Baz made his usual ribald announcements and the bit (that I hate) where they make sure that everyone checked in and have their numbers and are on the course (why, why, why, do you not check in the 12 times they mentioned it prior to heading outside?).  I stand at the back, because I know once we get going, I’m not going to be running up to the front.

The course is familiar (because I ran it last year), but for some reason, I am really struggling with the elevation for the first 7 to 10 miles.  The hardest part was looking at my pace sheet and wondering WHY I am going so slowly?  Particularly hard was the opening out-and-back section, with the technical downhill and the lo-o-ng climb out of that.  I did see the same guy I ran with for a bit last year (with the wings tattoo across his back).

When I got to the water crossing (a little more substantive this year – feet had to get wet), I passed a couple of the Japanese ladies who left our cabin with the rest of our group.  Of course, when I passed them, I said, “Looking good, good job, keep up the good work,” because I had already let the situation go, and I would rather be encouraging than rude.  Hope they smiled back.

My second favorite section is from Mile 8.7 to 13.4, where we start out on a shady fire-road and then peel off into the single track that roams around all of the great sequoias (including the huge Grandfather tree).  I got on to this section just behind 3 or 4 gals all going together.  A couple of them struggled with the uphills and after a time, I achieved some separation from them.  This is when I got onto the technical downhill (not as much rocky as woody and rocky).  I was nervous about any technical downhill, because I didn’t want to reinjure my elbow with a fall.

Once I get out of this section, it’s a smooth fire-road through a camping area and a half mile or so to the Shadow of the Giants (a one-mile loop through trees).  I don’t like this section because the mile goes by so slowly, and usually there are also a number of sightseers (slightly) blocking the path.  I ran most of the section and it still took me 19 minutes.

From here, it’s the section that I walk 90%, because it is slightly uphill, and I can walk briskly faster than I can run.  What I like is that no one passes me on this section, and I can see myself getting closer to some people who are jogging or walking ahead of me.  The BEST part is that I have covered over 20 miles and still haven’t caught up to Stephanie (at Ridgecrest 50K, I caught the ladies after 10 miles).  Maybe I won’t catch her!

However, just after I turn off onto a steeper section (which will hook back to where the trail veered off into the single-track), I do catch up with Stephanie.  She is pretty proud, too, because she stayed ahead of me so long.  We will come in pretty close together, because there are probably 6 miles or so to go.  Once I pass Stephanie, I don’t see a lot of other runners.  Good ol’ no-man’s-land.

Once I begin the first bit of downhill heading towards the finish, I lose motivation to keep running (feet hurt, I’m well ahead of the cutoff, so no worries) and just walk briskly down the hill.

I am caught up by a tall guy and a short gal (in rapt conversation).  I slightly insert myself into the situation and we have a nice conversation about languages.  The tall guy is a few years younger than me and originally from Hungary with the common name of Csaba.  (While I never heard the name before, when I tried to find him on Facebook, man, there were a lot of Csabas!)  The short gal was 10 years older than me (but looked 10 years younger) was Iranian and a friend of Tam Premsrirath (and had started with the early group).

The three of stayed together until almost the final mile, and then they both slowed down through the wooded section just before the bridge crossing and the finish line.  I felt good and came in at 6:38:44.  I couldn’t remember my time from last year, but I thought I was within 10 minutes of the time, and I was well satisfied with that, given that I was only two months out from elbow surgery.

Stephanie came in 30 minutes later in 8:04:04.  With adjusting for the actual distance (29.2 rather than 31.0), her 50K time was improved by 20+ minutes.

Both of us took advantage of the showers at the finish and were well ready to head back to Long Beach not long after.  Stephanie said to me in the car that she was happy we sightsaw yesterday because she was super-sleepy in the car on the way back.

Even with an emergency bathroom stop at a gas station near LAX, we were able to get back to Long Beach and I was able to get to the 70th birthday party (and not just make a token appearance in the last five minutes).

When I got home, I double-checked my time from 2015, and discovered that my 2016 time was one second FASTER!  What a nice surprise.

A few weeks later, I had my final appointment with Dr. Tran and I reproduced a copy of my pace sheet, on which I dedicated my race to him, Dr. Glidewell (the Orthopaedic Surgeon), and Julie Oyanguren, my Occupational Therapist (who helped me with the rehab).  I didn’t have a good picture FROM the race, so when Laura, Chuck, and I did the Monrovia Truck Trail, I wore my bib to get a good action shot.

One of the nurses briefly interrupted Dr. Glidewell’s consult so we could talk (since none of my follow-ups had been with her) so I could hand her a laminated picture of thanks.  Probably not a lot of ultra-runners doing a tribute to their surgeons.  Both she and Dr. Tran really liked it.

This race also marked the final RD job of Baz Hawley.  One gal is taking over his Winter Trail Run Series and another is taking over this race.  I hope that both can continue to put on good trail events in the same spirit with which Baz always infuses them.

Naples 2.4M – 2016

June 4, 2016

Another Naples Fun Run with my friends.  Gary Altman put in a surprise appearance (I rarely see him racing, so it was nice that he was out there.).

There are not as many runners this year.  I’m not certain what the reasons are (other races, overcast day, who knows?).

I don’t have any particular expectations today, but since it isn’t really a 5K, I like to be somewhat competitive, even if it is 50% young kids sprinting.

I try to surge out at the beginning to avoid tripping over kids and this puts me at about 10th place at the first U-turn (maybe 0.5 miles).  From then on, I am steadily catching kids as they cannot maintain their paces for the duration of the event.

There is one kid I cannot catch, and that is Michael O’Toole’s son.  Michael is the former owner of Limerick’s, the AREC hang-out of auld.  Post-race, his mom says to me that he was pretty excited to beat “the tall guy.”  We don’t really know each other, but I met him when he was a little kid (now he’s a teenager).

My time of 16:25 is good enough for 2nd overall in the race and translates to a little faster than 7 minutes per mile.  I’ll take that as a success.

The rest of my AREC friends who run also get ribbons, mostly because there are not enough competitors to deny us placing in our age groups.

Ekiden 10M Relay – 2016

May 22, 2016

Once again, fun participation in the Snail’s Pace Ekiden Relay.

Refresher on how it works:  blind drawing for teams and for distances (i.e. if there are 5 teams, the first 5 names drawn run 1 mile, the next 5 run 2 miles, etc.).

I have never been drawn on one mile, and only once on two miles (though I asked to switch one year when I had to be somewhere).  I always seem to get 3 or 4 miles (which is fine), and your teammates expect you to “deliver.”

So, I ended up getting picked for 4 miles (of course).  My team had a FAST miler, and then a guy who professed to be “not that fast,” and was also my age (but I thought looked much older, who knows?), then my buddy Dulce Barton (fellow AREC runner) and myself.

The 2-mile guy seemed pretty gung ho about our chances, but I felt like we were really in it just to have fun (especially because Dulce is no speed demon and I gave myself low expectations given my arm issues (still only 6 weeks ago)).

Runners 1 and 2 put us into a good position, and then Dulce gave most of it up (this isn’t a criticism of Dulce’s running; this is reality that a 25 year-old man usually runs faster than a 6o year-old female), and then my team looks to me to regain our places.

Ha ha, right.  When I get to the section with the steep uphill on the street, I maneuver around the telephone pole, so I am somewhat hidden and can power-walk up the hill.  Runner 2 is shouting at me (sort of encouragingly, sort of in despair), but once I turn the corner, then I can go at whatever pace is comfortable.

To me, it is abundantly clear that I am not going to overtake any of the runners ahead of me, and probably, I will be passed by some teams that started pretty close to me (faster or younger runners).  We ended up being the 4th fastest team of 10 and I ran my four miles in 37:12, which is pretty good, considering.

Anyway, this was more about camaraderie and the giveaways, and I ended up with a Team-in-Training t-shirt, two women’s unmentionables-washing bags, and a DVD of an old movie.