High Desert 50K – 2016

December 4, 2016

Angela and I drove up to Ridgecrest yesterday.  We made arrangements again with Darrell and Megan to stay at their place which is only about a mile from the start.  Laura, Dulce, and Stephanie are coming up, too, but I felt bad that we couldn’t offer them a place to stay (we just need to ask Darrell and Megan ahead of time or offer something nice).  They are in a different house than last year, but it is in the same housing tract.

We did all meet to eat together, though, which was nice.  It’s particularly cold here, so that seems to bode well that it should be colder for the race.

At the start, I have a special gift for my friend Ethan.  I cut out a laminated “5” for him to pin on, since today is his 5th Ridgecrest High Desert 50K and will get the special pullover when he finishes.

Also present Ethan’s wife, a few other hashers, and Sandy Binder (whose husband runs ultras, but I haven’t known her to do so).  I jokingly ask Sandy if she is running to win, and she enigmatically says, “Maybe.

My goals today are to try and push it harder on the flat and downhill sections and not walk as much on the uphill sections (but listen to my body).

I start by running a little bit more on the initial paved hill and up into the rolling hills section.  Once you get to this part, it tends downhill so there isn’t a reason to walk as much.  At the first aid station (soon after which the 30K and 50K part ways), I manage 50:44, a 9:12 pace.  (Extrapolating out, 9:12/mile for 31 miles would be an hour PR on the distance!)

Once the 30K diverges, there is a long section of a slight uphill.  I have had the tendency to walk all of this, so I force myself to run stretches of it.  (Note:  Forcing myself to run and running slowly are different.  Here, I am pushing the pace and not running uphill slower than I can walk.)

I go a little slower on this section, a 9:48/mile pace, but still maintain an overall sub 10:00/mile pace (5:10 still would be a big PR, but it’s way early.)

The next 2.5 miles go up a considerably longer hill, which is also more technical and it’s not practical to run much of this at all, but once I get to the top of the hill, I can start jogging/running again.  This aid station is the famous “We Love the 49ers and Christmas” aid station, except no one is wearing Niners garb.  I ask if it is because they are so bad this year, and a gal surreptitiously whispers, “Yes.”  My pace in this section is 14:00/mile (a brisk walk) and drops my overall pace to 10:27/mile (In order to PR, I would need to average 11 and change.)

Now a mostly downhill, but dense dirt section for two-and-a-half miles and I maintain the 10-and-change pace.  I have been going back and forth with a lot of the same people.  I haven’t seen Angela yet (she started early, but I am hoping not to catch her until the end, if at all) and Darrell is behind me.  I saw Laura at the beginning, but I assume she is still behind and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Ethan or Sandy (who is MAYBE in front).

The one gal that I strike up a nice conversation with is Karin Usko, who used to live in El Salvador, but she is also German, so we can speak in Spanish, English, AND German (my first three languages).  She is local to Ridgecrest and I later learn that she makes Happy Gaiters.  (I also ran really briefly with Shannon Farar-Griefer, who is the founder of the Moeben sleeves (named after her sons).)

On now to another 3-odd miles with a mostly uphill bent.  I’m not running as much on these sections.  Feeling like I will not run a PR, but I would like to at least run a comparable 50K (to Cool rather than Twin Peaks), something in the sub-6:30 range.  This is another 14:00/mile section, ballooning my average to 11:12/mile.

Leading into the penultimate aid station at Gracie’s Mansion, where I have my first half beer, the sections seem to swing between generally uphill section, or generally downhill section and I am either doing about 11-12 minutes per mile OR 15-16 minutes per mile, but at least I am keeping my overall average under 12 minutes (which equals 6:24).  I would be happy to finish with that average.

From Gracie’s to Last Gasp is 3.7 miles, with mostly downhill.  I start to press the pace again, because it IS downhill and I can run downhills (when I am not cramping… and I’m not cramping).  Former race director Christopher Rios is there and I get my second beer, though I cannot hang out there too long.  I have pulled my interim pace to 11:06 and brought my overall average down six seconds, ending an inexorable slide to worse and worse times.

If I can finish the last 1.7 miles in 15 minutes (doable, but tough at this point), I would break 6 hours for the first time in over 10 years.

Alas, it is not to be.  I finished in 6:05:14, which is my best time in 12 years, so that’s pretty awesome.  Someone mentions that I should utilize Age Grade to compare this time with my best here (5:47:06) back in 2004.  Age Grade is a comparison tool that figures out what your equivalent time is if compared to the ideal age (which I think is 25).

So, if you run a 5:47 50K at age 34, it is like running a 5:44 50K at 25 (since your ability probably doesn’t drop off that much from 25 to 34).  But, if you run a 6:05 at age 45, the Age Grade equivalent is 5:43.  So in essence, given that I have aged, my High Desert 50K is my best ever (just not my PR).  Pretty remarkable that I did so well in a year when I fractured my elbow.

Angela came in about an hour after I did (2 hours, technically), Ethan got his 5-run pullover, and Sandy did not win the race… she was the second female, though.

Advertisements

LMJS 4th Sunday 15K – 2016

November 27, 2016

Since it works out that I am in the Bay Area for the 4th Sunday 15K, I should definitely run it.  The last time I wanted to do a 4th Sunday run, my flight got cancelled and the rebook was during the race, so I couldn’t go.

As a reminder, this course is a 5K loop, so in the 15K, you run it three times.  The effect is that you run with a bunch of people in the first lap, a few people in the second, and no one in the third lap.  (Technically, that’s not true, because there is a lot of pedestrian dodging on all the laps.)

I ran the entire race without walking (though felt like it a bit).  My first two 5K times were each a little slower than the last – 25:24 and 25:29.

On the third 5K, I pushed it a bit more in the last 1.1 miles and finished in 25:17.  My total time was 1:17:18, my best 15K in some time (since last year).  I came in 7th overall (out of 9) and 2nd in my division (out of 2).

Piedmont Turkey Trot 5K – 2016

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, I’m back in my hometown of Piedmont.  (Last year we were in Hong Kong.)

I seem to remember from years past that we would park in the lot by the park, but we end up parking about 5 blocks away near the terminus of Highland Avenue.

Riva is hurting a little so she says that there is a possibility that I will finish ahead of her.  (Yeah, like that will happen.)

My goal at this race is to try not to walk the hills (though it is a big temptation because there are so many).

I did situate myself at the front so that I wouldn’t get caught up in the slow crowd, and maybe the surge will take me along to the downhill at the far end of Highland and give me the impetus to climb up Wildwood (where I always tend to walk).  Mile 1 – 7:36.  (I am running UP Wildwood.)

From Mile 1 to Mile 2, there are a number of hills and I couldn’t quite not walk all of them.  I gave myself permission to walk up St. James to Hampton, and to walk a portion of the Seaview incline, but I still managed 9:22 (which is really good for walking hills).

Mile 3 to the end is mostly downhill (with a little dipsy-doodle towards the end) so I pushed the best I could, managing a 7:22 final mile, with a 47 second last tenth (about 7:50/mile).

My 24:59 was almost a minute ahead of Riva’s time.  (She still did well considering that she wasn’t anywhere near 100%.)

Dad was 2nd in his age group (out of 5 80 year-olds) but the rest of us didn’t factor into the results at all.  I was 238th overall and 29th in my age group, but consider that there were over 2,600 runners, so I’m good with the top 10%.

Boeing 5K (11) – 2016

November 14, 2016

Had a couple of long trail runs over the weekend, so I didn’t know how I would feel at Boeing today.

It was really windy and Nina was behind me for the first half (drafting off me, tricky).  But strangely enough, I felt pretty good, running 11:51.

On the way back, it felt hot (because there was no breeze in the face, but a tailwind instead), but I still managed to come in 11:56 on the return (pretty close to even splits).

With 23:47, and coming in 4th overall, I think I had a good run!

Hoka One One Postal 2M – 2016

November 10, 2016

A special event at Chittick Field was posted for tonight, so I met Laura at the field so we could participate in the rare 2 mile event.  It looks like most of the participants are high school students and they are breaking the race apart into heats based upon likely finishing time.

We aren’t put in the first race since that race is for students that are attending a dance and need to get going.  Our race is the second race and it is Laura, me, a 9 year-old girl, and three high school freshman (probably the “slow” ones).

Two miles is an odd distance and given that I have a hard time pacing in a 5K, I will now have one fewer mile to figure out pacing here.

On the first lap, the three boys went out fast through the first turn, and my immediate thought was that I need to stay with them, but by the end of the first lap, I had not only stayed with them, but pulled ahead and put some distance between us (too fast!).

My goal now was to hold on (not accelerate) for as long as I could.  Even if the boys caught up to me, I had still done well (as long as I didn’t have to stop and walk or fall over).

I came through my first mile in 6:55, but knew I could not maintain that pace for the final 4 laps.  I had also noticed that 2 of the 3 boys had made up some of the initial gap I established in the first two laps. Must… hold… on.

Laura was just a bit behind me (well, behind the boys, but in no danger of being lapped).  All of us had lapped the girl, but unless she was a star, it would be embarrassing if we didn’t lap her at least once.

My energy was flagging on that last lap.  The nearest of the boys was coming on strong and blew by me in the final 100 yards, but it was close, as I came in 14:12.  Laura was only 30 seconds back.  (The little girl came in under 18 minutes.)

The timer/LB Poly coach said to me that he couldn’t believe I had a sub-7 mile in me (my PR is 5:56 and all of my half marathon on down PRs are at sub-7 pace).  I smiled and hoped that he meant, “at age 45,” rather than he couldn’t believe I could break 7 minutes.

Laura got a trucker cap for her time or something about winning her age group (but honestly, we were the only Masters there).

We stayed and watched the other heats.  The best was the final one where they had a ringer (I think the only other one over 21.) who came through (by a bunch) under 10 minutes.  Fast!  (I wonder how he would do in a trail 50K…)

LA Cancer Challenge 5K/10K – 2016

October 30, 2016

Different location (again!) for the Cancer Challenge.  Ironically, we are back to the location we started at in the mid-00s, UCLA.  For several years, the run had been on the property of the LA VA and last year, last minute, they decided that we could not run there and so did a random street location in Woodland Hills.

Despite being back to their roots, the parking situation is kind of a mess.  Decided to pay for parking (or my carpool pal did), but we kept getting directed to lots that weren’t open and then once we were parked, it was not particularly close to the check in or the start.

The conditions are very overcast and very muggy.  It looks like it’s going to rain.  Yuck.  10K is first and it starts on the intramural (artificial turf) field.  During the warm-up session (the ridiculous jumping jacks and other work-out stuff that some of these races provide), it does start to rain and there is some concern that the AstroTurf will be difficult to run on (i.e. slippery).  There is also some concern (for me) about the hilliness, speed bumps, etc.

The race starts and it’s a mad dash across the slippery turf, and then immediately uphill out of the field area and onto the street, a little bit of downhill and speed bumps galore.  The speed of the initial dash takes me through Mile 1 in 8:18 and 7:45, respectively.

Next is a steady climb up a hill, and then a dash back down the hill back into the general area that we started in, an out-and-back along the quad and then up a rather steep hill, some flat, and then down to the finish line (except we do the loop twice).  My 5K split is 25:05, and now I have to go through the circuit again.

The second go-round of the first mile is 150 seconds slower, mostly because I am walking the uphill sections.  But my second time on Mile 2 is 20 seconds faster because I ran a little harder on the downhill.

The last time (or 1.1) is about 45 seconds slower for a net time of 54:16… but I need to circle back around (since the start and finish are in different areas) and get ready for the 5K run.

It’s already raining on the field and several people are debating whether they will run or not.  (Might as well… you already paid for parking, the race, etc.  At the very least, you should walk it!)  Maybe everyone in my age group will opt out (usually not in a 5K though).

My goal is to do better than I have in the past, which is sort of a don’t walk/speed-walk goal.  I used to be able to do a back-to-back 7:00/mile 5K/10K, but I don’t have that speed anymore.

The ground is a bit wetter than before and there are loads more people.  First mile, 9:38, is in between what I ran for the first and fourth miles of the 10K.

Second mile is in the mid-8s and the last mile in 9:38 which is pretty similar to the first and second times, but not bad for a steep hill AND being at Mile 9 of two “sprint” races.

Alas, the drop-out rate was not even strong enough for me to place in the Top 10 of my division (much less top 3).  A good run for a worthy cause and an extra mile or so trying to find where the car was parked.

Spooky Dash 5K (ABW) – 2016

October 29, 2016

Decided to walk down to visit with Mark and Michelle (A Better World Running) who were putting on a 5K/10K on the beach bike path.  I tried to time it so that I arrived after the start of the races, but ended up arriving probably 10 minutes before the start of the races.  Michelle asked if I wanted to run, and since it’s been 2 weeks since Twin Peaks, I feel like I can test to see where I am at in recovery/restart.

The race is just a straight out-and-back on the Long Beach bike path, and with many of their races (especially the bigger ones), you need to go out hard, otherwise you get stuck in the pack and not able to run the pace you want.

I tried not to go out too hard, however, and managed a respectable 13:00 outbound.  Hard to tell if I am in the top group because there are people turning around who could be in the 5K or the 10K or 100 miler.

Coming back, I tried to do equally as well, though it did feel a lot harder coming back, for some reason.  Maybe because it’s the first “sprint” race since my ultra.  12:50 on the return trip for a net time of 25:50.  Not too bad.