Tag Archives: Dad

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 (1) – 2016

January 11, 2016

Today I am not really ready for a 5K, given that I did a 50-miler on Saturday (or 49.3M to be exact), but I am continuing my streak.  If nothing untowards happens in the next 8 months, I will reach my 100th CONSECUTIVE Boeing 5K in September.  That’s pretty much eight consecutive years of running every race (or at least participating in every race).

Today is special for my family as it is both my mother’s 73rd birthday and my parents’ 47th wedding anniversary.  Since I am walking today, I brought a book.  It is by Jill Churchill… who shares the same birthday with my mother (so today is also HER 73rd birthday!).

Today’s Boeing is also a prediction run, so I decide that I will pay special tribute and predict 47 minutes, and I finish in 46:57 (close enough).  Happy anniversary, Mom & Dad!

Skyline 50K – 2015

August 8, 2015

A special milestone event for me.

I started running in April 1996, and ran my first marathon about 8 months later.  It took me about 5 years to get to 10 marathons, but once I started doing ultramarathons, the amount of long races I did each year started to jump, including a streak of 30-something months where I ran at least 26 miles in a race EACH month (a few were DNFs, but I still covered at least 26 miles of the race).

I had known for a while that this milestone was upcoming, so of course, I used Skyline 50K as my goal event and was able to contact the Race Director, Adam Ray (an acquaintance of mine), and get the #100 bib to help commemorate my 100th marathon or longer distance race.

It turned out to be a very busy weekend.

Usually, Skyline is run on a Sunday and then I end up driving back to Southern California a few hours later.  This year, because of scheduling issues, the race is run on a Saturday, and additionally, pretty much my entire family is in town, including my two nephews who live in Dallas (though Evan is at choir camp and we will pick him up on Sunday).

So, this means that I do not have a bed.  Not a problem, because the upstairs couch is a bit longer and more comfortable.  It’s fine.

Last year, I started an hour early, mostly due to the fact that I had run Harding Hustle a couple of weeks before and was not entirely recovered.  This year, I wanted to have a regular “official” start.  I know that I will have little problem in finishing under the time limit, but in certain circumstances, it makes me feel more confident when I am not at the back at all times… but starting on time, you do get the excitement of  the crowds at the start.

I happened to spot the gal I ran with for about 5 miles last year, Meg Cheng (who definitely didn’t need to start early last year, but did so because she was AT the start early with some early-starting friends).  I ended up catching up to her around 2 miles in and staying with her for about 5 miles again.  It’s always nice to have some company of people that you know.

On the other hand, I create some conversation with other runners, as well as with volunteers when I show off my pace sheet (which since this race 2 years ago, I have dedicated the race to someone special – 2 years ago was supposed to be my high school friend, Brian Kelly, in his honor, but he died two days before the race, so it was in his memory).

Because this is my 100th, I wanted to do something special and honor 10 people who influenced or helped me in some way.IMG_0146

First, I give a lot of credit to my sister, Riva Rahl, who famously told me that if I put my mind to it, I could run a marathon.  I thought she was crazy at the time.

Second, my college buddy, Kevin Krajewski, with whom I “trained” with to run our first marathon.  We didn’t do a lot of runs together, but he always motivated me to do better (until I finally bested him).

Next, Habib Torfi, who I knew from my first full-time job.  He worked at the Epithelial Autograft Facility and he got me into running with running groups.

Fourth, my running club buddy, Jennifer Aguilar.  We DID train together a lot and she was always positive and helpful.

Fifth, another running club buddy, “Tahoe Bob” Gilbert, who was known as the ‘crazy ultramarathoner.’ We are similar… not really fast, but persistent.  I always felt if he could do it, I could do it, and we did a number of trail runs together.

Sixth and seventh, Chuck and Laura Sohaskey.  Laura was always my training partner and I got HER into ultramarathoning.  Chuck has done a few ultras as well, and brings a certain je sais ne quois to our adventures, humor-wise.

Eighth is my running club buddy, Mitsuye Morrissey, who convinced me to run my first ultramarathon at Way Too Cool, a distance that I would have never considered.  We also had a fun adventure at Javelina Jundred (Miler) where we both finished the 100K.

Ninth is my ultrarunning buddy, Rafael Covarrubias, who has motivated me to a number of ultra adventures, including Mt. Disappointment 50M, Miwok 100K, Bishop 50M, and Shadow of the Giants 50K.  He is a better runner than I, and I try to run better so that he doesn’t have to wait too long at the finishline.

And lastly, but not leastly, my family, who support me and motivate me in all of my adventures.  After 100 marathon-plus races, they KNOW I am probably insane!

The weather was on the foggy side and I want to take advantage because I know that once it clears, it could get quite warm, especially in the hilly sections.  This next section is pretty flat, so I try to maintain a decent running and walking pace to get through.  All of the cattle gates are open, so I don’t have to stop and unlatch them (coming to a complete stop).

At the end of this section, there is a sharp turn, a short (but steep) road to a dirt parking lot and the 2nd aid station.  I am greeted by my Cool buddy, Sabine Gillert, who is volunteering/cheering.  Always great to see someone you know cheering you on at the race.

One of the volunteers says she recognizes me.  Says I look great.  Way better than when I was so FAT!  What?  I don’t ever remember being fat.  In fact, I weigh more now than I did when I started running, so maybe you remember me from the future?

I will make my way back to this aid station in about 11 miles, but for now, it’s a mile-and-a-half uphill and the same downhill.  My hope is to finish this section in about the same time that I finish it, in reverse, on the way back (even though the downhill section (uphill on the return) seems so much harder on the return trip).

I get into the 3rd aid station after completing the 3.1 miles in 36 minutes.  Now I cross the road and get into the single-track section, which is some uphill and some downhill, winding around to the hardest uphill section (steep and about a mile long) and then a continuous uphill fire road section up to the Skyline Gate aid station (aka Halfway, but really 14.5 miles) and where I may see some members of my family, depending upon if they time it right and can find a parking spot.

I somewhat exceed my goals on this section.  Usually on an uphill, I maintain 16-18 minutes per mile, but I was brisker and managed 14:20s.

When I get to the top, I don’t see anybody, but just as I am getting ready to take off, Riva, Marisa, and nephew Reagan show up.  The gals take off to park the car, leaving almost-8 year-old Reagan with me.  Now I cannot leave until they come back.

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I considered, briefly, having him walk with me, and hope that my sisters would realize where I had gone, but it was probably only 6 or 7 minutes total waiting.  I ate some food and we chatted for a bit.  I also got to chat with Errol “Rocket” Jones, working the aid station, who I had met at the Santa Barbara 100K last month (he was volunteering).  He is the co-race director of the Quad Dipsea, which I would like to run someday.

Now I head off to the right, which is mostly flat until it gets to the French Trail downhill single-track, on which I make good time, but have to be watchful, as it is rock-y and root-y and I am loathe to trip.  The general path of the trail is downhill, downhill, downhill, with occasional rocks and roots.

When I get almost to the bottom, it turns and takes a steep uphill turn.  I almost wanted to have not run the last bit to the bottom, if only to arrest my heart rate a bit and help out with the climb back up, but I just have to persevere.

This is the absolutely longest section (5.9 miles) and it’s often hard to tell how close you are getting to the end of the section, because you hear the road, but keep winding around and then, suddenly, you are there.  My pace on this section is about the same as the long uphill.  In other words, I am doing better because it is downhill, but worse, because I am getting tired.

Now I am back to the 3.1 mile section, where I would like to do something similar to the 36 minutes I did outbound.  (I don’t really have that expectation, but would like to.)  This is the first ultra that I have done in my new Size 14 Hoka Stinson shoes.  I am feeling less of the rocks, but it isn’t necessarily the ‘running on a cloud’ feeling that everyone talks about.  Maybe ‘running on a rocky cloud?’

I struggle on the inbound uphill section, as the sun is coming out and my feet are starting to hurt quite a bit.  I end up losing about 8-1/2 minutes on this section and make it back to the aid station where they told me I used to be fat.

From here, there is one more aid station before I get to the end.  It is mostly flat, but once you cross the Stone Bridge, you get back into the single-track and another part where you don’t have a clue of how far you have before you get to the aid station.

Part of this section I run with Julie Nye, for which this is her 15th Skyline run (this is my 6th).  Most of the people I talk with today are doing their first ultramarathon (it IS a really good beginner race because it is not insanely difficult and there are enough runners that you won’t have many sections where you don’t see anyone (unless you are at the very very back).

I am hoping to get through this section at a faster than 14:00/mile pace because then I will have a chance to finish the race under 7 hours (which I don’t seem to do as often nowadays).  I think the delay at Skyline Gate may prevent me from doing so, but I am not going to worry about it.

When I do finally make it into the aid station, I have left myself with about 35 minutes for the last 3 miles.  While this seems doable in a regular road 5K, it will be close.

I do what I can.  The first 1.4 miles of this is mostly flat and dirt, so I do a combo of running and walking.  I get excited when I get to the suspension bridge (truly my favorite part, because it means that I am close to the finish and it is bouncy!), and then it is about 1.5 miles to the finish and it is paved.

I am passed here by my friend, Clement Choi.  He and I ran together in the last few miles of the 2010 Dick Collins Firetrails 50M (with the same start and finish, but coming in from the other direction).  Great guy.  Today seems like a flashback of a bunch of my ultras.  But it seems like that happens at every race.  That’s what I love about ultras.  It’s like running a beautiful adventure with friends you see every so often.  You don’t get that with a big city marathon.  You may even know a bunch of people at the race, but you may not see them at all, maybe not at the end, either.  Bummer.

I make the turn across the little wooden bridge and suddenly remember that I still have another 50 yards to the “new” finish line.  I come in at 7:06:27, which is 40 seconds faster than Cool (or, in other words, virtually the same pace as Cool)..

There is no roasted pig this year (I think the roaster is sick, so no one stepped up.).

I got my shirt, a couple of cans of this Yerba Mate Mint Tea.  They also have a bunch of leftover items from previous Skylines (probably tired of putting them into storage year after year).  They are giving them away for free, but if they don’t have the right sizes, then what would I do with them?

I end up with a pair of socks (besides the ones from this year), another tank top from 2010, and a woman’s shirt from a previous year (for Riva).  I also pick up my shirt and then head back to my folks’ house.  When I get back, I realize that they have given me a WOMEN’s Extra-Large shirt, with the V-neck and the tighter cut.

I contact the race director and he says they are all out of Extra-Large shirts.  Crap.  They gave all of the rest out to volunteers… but then later, he tells me that he has one for me next time I am in town.  I will be in the Bay Area next for 2 days at Christmastime and again in March.  Hope he still has a shirt for me then!

All in all, I am really happy with how my 100th marathon or longer race went.  It took me 19 years.  I wonder how many years it will take me to get to 100 ultramarathons (I am at 74 now) and how many years to get to 200 marathon-pluses?

 

Way Too Cool 50K – 2015

March 7, 2015

Way Too Cool has become a special tradition for me, starting with the 2002 presentation, which was my 1st ever ultra-marathon.  The race always hits right around my birthday, but had never actually hit ON my birthday (One year, my birthday was on a Saturday, but the race was a week later.).  This year, I would have the treat of running it on my ACTUAL birthday.

Three days following my last race (Big Baz 21K), I had a hospital procedure (colonoscopy).  I’m not sure I have addressed this previously in my posts, but I had been suffering from hemorrhoids and a fissure since mid-November last year and it was determined that I should have the procedure done to rule out any internal problems.  The procedure went off without a hitch (if you call the prep (36 hours of liquid diet and 6 hours of toilet blowouts the night before), due, I believe to a great anesthesiologist, Dr. Choi… who also happened to be a protege of my good friend, Kim Gimenez.  We had a nice talk about running as the propofol took its effect.

The unfortunate side effect of the procedure was that my hemorrhoid issue was just about resolved, but the prep for the procedure re-aggravated the issue and it will probably be another 2-3 months of dealing with it.  The good news (for me, at least) is that exercise improves it, and sitting a lot doesn’t help.  Most hospital procedures keep you AWAY from the exercise.  I was able to resume training runs only one day later without any additional issues, even mounting an ascent of Holy Jim Trail with AREC 4 days later.

Way Too Cool was 3 weeks after the procedure and my biggest concern was the drive up north, since sitting in the car for 6 hours hardly feels great.  (Though I have my “butt pillow” for a little relief.)  I did my usual bit where I leave before 6am (to avoid traffic on the So. Cal. side) with the goal of arriving around noonish.

I had made a different arrangement than last year, where I had stayed with Mark & Joann Helmus (the latter who ran Cool last year on HER birthday).  They had made an offer of a stay, even though they were in the process of moving AND were not running the race.  I did get a last-minute offer from a new-ish GVH guy, who took me up on my offer of a ride to-and-from the race, especially because he is MUCH faster than me and would utilize the time waiting for me to down a few beers.  After the race, however, the plan was to drive down to the Bay Area and spend the rest of my birthday with my family in Oakland.

The drive up was fairly uneventful, except a little traffic through Santa Clarita (even at 6-something a.m.).  When I got just outside of Sacramento, I called my friend Lori so that we could meet for lunch.  I have known Lori since our freshman (and sophomore) dorm days in the Fall of 1990 (25 years ago this year).

We met at Dos Coyotes, a somewhat former haunt of mine, a place that has definitely stood the test of time (as have the two places I lived (other than dorms) – still look pretty hovel-y).  I had a paella burrito.  Pretty freakin’ delicious!  It was really nice to catch up with Lori.  To me, it feels like little time has passed, partly because we are friends on Facebook and partly because I still feel like I am that college guy still trying to figure out his life.

After a nice long lunch, I still had a couple of hours to kill before I could meet up with Travis.  I went down and parked in the Whole Foods parking lot, sat and read for a bit and then walked around town a little bit, stopping in the used bookstore that is at the old Fleet Feet location (and buying a couple good finds) as well as at the Helmus’ Optometry business so I could wish Joann a happy birthday and also drop off a little bread treat I baked for her.  Mark, Joann and I chatted for a little bit.  She had just returned from Arkansas, having run the Little Rock Marathon last Sunday.

I drove over to Travis’ house a little after 4pm (a little before he was getting off work) and sat outside and read until he arrived.  He is in his early 30s and has done a handful of trail ultras, mostly in Colorado, where he lived before Davis… and he is much faster than I am, more like a 3 hour marathoner.  He lives in a house with a roommates, one of which is heading out for pizza, but we end up opting for Chipotle (I am getting my fill of burritos today for sure!)

Afterwards, we watch Unbreakable, a documentary about the 2010 Western States 100.  It is pretty incredible to see these crazy athletes and how fast they can run difficult trails, accelerate in the end stages, and succeed mentally.  (Hint:  None of them is 6’6″ or over 200 pounds.)

Afterwards, we watch some movies about Anton Krupicka.  Some pretty terrain, but a little too hippy-dippy for me.  I had my encounter with Krupicka at the 2011 Rocky Raccoon 100M, where I think he volunteered at an aid station after finishing 2nd overall in the race (more than 16 hours before I did).

In the morning (my birthday!), Travis and I meet Annie Vogel-Ciernia (another GVH member running Cool) and then drive to Stephen Andrews’ house (his family will pick him up from the finish, but don’t want to drive up to Cool at 6am).  The drive is uneventful, but once we arrive in Cool, I realize that the increase in participation has caused an increase in parking as well (I’m guessing that most folks did not carpool.).  Last year, I drove up with someone not running the race, and in previous years, I never had to park more than a quarter mile from the start.  This year, however, we are parked at least 6/10 mile from the start. This means that I walk to pick up my bib, THEN take my stuff back to the car, THEN hike back up to the start.  I’m around 2 miles in before we actually get going.

My pace sheet has a picture of me on my 40th birthday, wearing a party hat.  I tell as many people as possible that today is my 44th birthday and I am running my 43rd 50K.  Also, on the back of my pace sheet is the weird fact I came up with, that along with this being my 43rd 50K, it is also my 72nd ultramarathon, so I included 4 of my friends who are 43 years old AND born in 1972.  Seeing as that it is only March, there are not a lot of candidates (a number of friends wondered why they hadn’t been included… “I’m born in ’72.”  “But you’re not 43 yet!”  “I will be!”  They’re missing my weird point.).  Anyway, my inspirations were Stephanie Harris, Kristen Womersley, Scott Casey, and Cynthia Mar (3 running friends and a college friend).  I think it is cool that I came up with this; it works ONLY for this race (for example, my 44th 50K, will be my 73rd ultra, and unless I wait until 2017, the numbers won’t work out); and the race IS Way Too Cool!

The “faster folks” are off at 8:00am and I am with the “slowpokes” at 8:10.  Even were I to run at the pace I ran my first Cool back in 2002, I would still be with the slower folks.  Anyway, I should have some folks to meet and to run with.

The longest stretch is the first loop, which leaves Cool, runs around 2 miles on the paved road (by my car) and eventually comes back through the start.  It includes 2 big water crossings – the kind that you can’t avoid getting wet on – and a few smaller ones… though for the most part, the course is drier than it has been in the past, due to the drought, but my feet do still get wet.

Early on in the course, I am having some difficulty with my posterior (still issues from the hemorrhoids and colonoscopy.  Runners can talk about anything, so I have been chatting with the person nearest me, but from the side, I get (as often happens) response from another runner who has been hearing the conversation.  It is further advice about colonoscopies as you get older.  I won’t repeat the conversation, but it is a bit surreal, because it is the Original Western States competitor, Gordy Ainsleigh.

I maintain a comfortable pace on this section; I will say largely due to the number of people on the single-track sections… once you are in a train of people, you cannot really stop and walk, you need to keep moving.  I manage around 11:15/mile, and then set off 3.1 miles to the Highway 49 crossing at the Quarry.

Lots of people are passing me in this section; it is mostly downhill and my footing is not particularly solid, plus downhill is not my thing.  The best part of this section is that it is 75% shaded, so the effects of the heat to come is muted a bit.  I cross the road and reach the 2nd aid station in about 38 minutes (or 12:25/mile).  It is decorated in a beachy, luau-y style and welcoming.  I make sure that I refill my water bottles at each stop so I can stay as dehydrated as possible.

This third leg runs mostly along the American River on a gravel fire-road.  It is rolling hills but not a lot of up for the first 2.5 miles.  On this section, I meet John and Jeff – one experienced ultramarathoner and his friend.  On the flats, we trade leading.  I mention that I would like to finish under 7 hours, so I have to maintain a certain pace.  They stay with me for quite some time… but then we reach a couple of extended hills (in the sun).  The motivating cry (fading into the distance) is “Stay with Emmett; he’ll get us to the pace we need to finish strong.”  I didn’t see them again after I ‘power-walked’ up the hill and beyond.

On part of this section, I also engaged with an older woman who was close to my pace.  Yes, I tend to end up with the older folks.  My pace is usually equivalent to the 55+ crowd (for women, maybe 70+ for men).  More importantly, most of these ‘older’ folks are not so preoccupied with music or other distractions and we can have a real conversation that is not tending back to “You’ll catch up with me,” which is said with the intent of stopping talking and getting back to the music.  Claudia and I trade leading throughout the race.  We reach the aid station around the same time, running 4.4 miles in around 52 minutes (12 minute/mile pace), but after this stretch, she disappears for quite a while.  I figure I won’t see her again until maybe the end.

This next section is about 5.6 miles of double-track.  It passes by my old nemesis/success Ball Bearing (0.7 miles; 700′ elevation gain) and continues fairly flat and then hooks into the old course return single track.   Some of this is runnable (even for me).  Sometimes I am in a train with a bunch of folks and sometimes I am by myself and antsy runners want to get by me. Though, invariably, not long after they pass, I recatch them tying shoelaces or slowing down (“Tag.  You’re it.”).  I do end up walking a lot of this trail, more due to a warm day than due to difficulty of trail, but still manage around 15 minutes/mile.  The wheels are starting to fall off, and I may not make my goal of sub-7:00.

This next section will take me up Goat Hill, continuing along the old course and up this dreaded steep hill at a particularly bad time.  Part of my “train” is an Asian gal.  I inquire about her ethnicity, so I can impress with my Chinese, Japanese, or Korean folk song… so of course, she is Indonesian.  Besides impressing her that I know two dozen words in Bahasa Indonesia, I sing for her on trail, saying basically that I can sing at whatever pace is necessary for her running speed (and I have a more eclectic selection of music than can be found on one’s I-Pod – Inspirational, Classical, and Oldies).  Unfortunately, Jenny is faster than I am, so eventually she pushes on a bit ahead of me and I lose contact before the bridge and uphill to Goat Hill.

The top of Goat Hill is really close to the marathon point.  I remember from my first Cool how flummoxed I was at my time… but really, it was about par with how it should be.  You cannot compare road marathon times to trail ultra times.  My nearly-marathon split is a shade under 6 hours.  Feel like I will be hard-pressed to get under 7 hours.  (And at a 16:00/mile pace, probably not.)

The next section is a lot of downhill, some wet (though, as previously noted, not as wet as in previous years), some slippery gravel, and a few short uphills.  I re-encounter Claudia in this section and pass her (she finishes about 5 minutes behind me).  I feel pretty good, and when I get to the road crossing JUST before the last aid station, I am at 6 hours 47 minutes, which means I have 13 minutes to do 1.4 miles.  Normally, not a tall order, but seeing as half of this is uphill and all of it is trails, odds are I will not break 7 hours, but I will be really close.

I don’t stop at all at the last station (it’s 1.4 miles to the finish, so hardly seems worth it unless I was all out of water on the last 3.4 mile section).  I go as fast as I can manage on the technical uphill, but it certainly isn’t sub-10:00s.  I do what I can and I will be really satisfied with my finishing time (at least it is well under the 8-1/2 hour time limit).

At the finish, the strangest thing happens (I swear I did not look at my watch and try to make it possible!) – my finishing time is 7:07:07 and there are 7 splits.  Seven is my lucky number and today is the 7th.  43-50Ks (4+3 = 7).  73rd ultra (3/7 is my birthday).  The “official” time comes out as 7:07:06 (stupid timing chips!).

Travis and Annie have been done for 2+ hours and are getting their drink on.  I do the finish line thing (get my frog cupcake, too hot soup, and pulled pork sandwich (and a couple of Cokes).  I am not particularly hungry, even though I probably only consumed half a banana, some potato chips and half of a Payday bar.  I carefully carry my cupcake and sandwich to the car (another 0.6 miles) and seal them inside a plastic container (formerly held Sprouts Gummi Coke Bottles) to eat on Sunday morning.

Annie and Travis drive back with me to Davis and then I continue on down to Oakland.  I am trying to work the timing out so that I have time for a shower before we go for dinner at Bay Fung Tong.  We are joined by Tom and Margaret (Tom’s birthday is Tuesday), Diane and John, Marisa, Mom and Dad, Bari, and Shauna (whose birthday was 6 days ago).  Marisa and Margaret are the odd women out as their birthdays are not in January or March.  We get our usual complement of dishes, including Black Bean and Jalapeno deep fried squid.  Yum.  I get some funny gifts from Diane and John (including yellow caution tape saying “Warning – Man in Kitchen” and a few other kitchen doo-hickeys).  A great way to spend my birthday!

On Sunday, after a trip to Chinatown for Dim Sum at Tao Yuen, I drive back to Long Beach, so I can continue my 80+ consecutive month Boeing 5K streak.

Mary Kay 5K – 2014

October 4, 2014

Following my cross country race mishap, I took it pretty easy.  I had a big ultra coming up in a few weeks, and my trip to visit my family in Dallas would be the perfect opportunity to give my sore body a break.

However, the whole family had signed up to run the Mary Kay 5K, and I opted in for it.  I figured I could see where my body was at.

Before the 5K, there was the Kids’ 1M (or whatever the distance actually was).  Reagan ran with Riva and did pretty well.  His time was super fast (hence my comment above).

Now we were all ready to start.  Riva lined up near the front and I lined up somewhat near the front… with Mom, Dad and Reagan at the back (Marisa was with Evan at his soccer game.).

The race was immediately downhill (many big buildings in Dallas have roads running underneath them, so THIS is the downhill… because Dallas is pretty pretty flat), so it was a mess, especially with speed bumps underneath the building.  I moved carefully and thoughtfully around everyone and got into a good pace.

Once through the building undercrossing, it was up the other side, a U-turn, and then back down under the building and back up on the parallel road.  Ugh.  A short time later was the 1-mile marker – 7:46.

Next was a half-mile out-and-back section which was slightly downhill and slightly uphill on the way back.  It looks like Riva is the 4th woman overall… so far.

Now another half-mile out-and-back (but flat).  Riva still looks good, but is still in 4th.  Not sure if she can make up the stagger.  I get my 2nd mile in 7:40.

The last 1.1 mile stretch is… another repeat of the under-the-building section… meaning down-and-up twice, with an uphill finish.  I manage another 7:40 mile (plus the extra tenth) to finish in 23:50.

Since relatively few people have finished, I get in the pancake breakfast line and get a few pancakes and some bacon for Reagan, in case he wants some when he finishes (since there is no one to watch him, he is doing the 5K with Mom until Riva can finish and go back and run in with him.

Once I have my pancakes, then I head back out on the course to cheer Mom and Dad (and Reagan) in.  Dad is the first one I see and he is walking briskly.  He is competing in the 75+ age group (so hopefully he won’t be beaten by a bunch of 75-year olds).  Next comes Riva and Reagan.  He has gotten a second wind, running with his mom.  And Mom is not all that far behind.  I walk in with her.  She was having to encourage Reagan (tired, for sure, after his fast mile), but now she can really stride in to the finish.

Reagan doesn’t want the pancakes so I eat them… and then we go see if anyone has gotten a medal, so we can high-tail it to Reagan‘s soccer game.

Looks like Riva won the F40-44 (but not first Master like last year), Mom got 3rd in the F70-74 and Dad got 3rd in the M75+.  I am in 4th.  We convince them to give up the medals prior to the award ceremony.

Later, when we look up the awards at home, because the top Master finisher for the men was in my age group, I have been bumped up to 3rd in my division.  I don’t get a medal, but I’m not worried about it.  I am just happy that I have been able to run a decent time only a week after banging myself up.

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.

Diablo 50K – 2012

September 15, 2012

In continuing my Ultra-a-month streak, I decided to go back up to the Bay Area and do an ultra up there.  The timing was a bit weird, because Mom and Dad were heading back to Dallas the day I would arrive, leaving at about 10am or so.  I left Long Beach around 4am and arrived a little before 10am… so I was able to hang with the folks for about 10 minutes before they got their ride to the airport.

The other “plans” I made for the weekend were to meet up with my old roommate Valerie Brons AFTER my race.  I figured at the worst, I would be done in about 8 hours, finishing at 4pm, and then I would either meet her around 7pm at her place in San Jose… or I would meet some friends (if I finished earlier) in the City.

On the day of the race, I drove up to Clayton (which was probably 20 minutes from my folks – a short jaunt through the Tunnel).  Since the parking was pretty sparse, runners were supposed to park in the community and then get a couple mile shuttle ride to the start.

Like Pacific Coast Trails, the Coastal Trails run was on the small side (like I like ’em), with most of the participants in the shorter distance races (4 miles, 10 miles, 13.1 miles and marathon).  The information about the course was the usual – which ribbons to follow and a basic description of the course.  The weather was moderate (i.e. warm-ish), so I hoped that it would not get too hot, being September and all.

The first four miles of the course were basically all uphill, not horribly steep, but about 100 feet per mile elevation.  I opted to walk, to preserve energy.  The last mile before the aid station flattened out a bit, but by that point, I was essentially at the very back of the pack. I found some company with Ramona Vogt, who was also doing the 50K and had some familiarity with the course (which is always nice).  We reached the first aid station (which we were to hit several times on the course) in 91 minutes (or about 18 minutes per mile).

The next section was a loop to the top of Mt. Diablo and back.  The first bit of it was trail, followed by a paved section, and then a woodsy single-track that paralleled the street up to the parking lot at the top next to the observatory.  I guess, to make it extra exciting, we were required to climb the stairs to the vista point, though stairs were the least needed part for me at this point.  When we got to the vista spot, there was a bag of rubber-bands.  I grabbed one, put it around my wrist – this was PROOF that I had actually climbed the stairs (or proof that someone had climbed the stairs and gotten me a rubber-band, but we both DID climb the frickin’ stairs).

Then we went back part of the way we came (but with an additional single-track loop) to the same aid station.  The 4-mile round trip took 84 minutes (now I’ve slowed to 20 minute miles).

Now we head out on a similar distance trek (though a larger overall loop) on a mostly flat fire-road surface.  Ramona is telling me about how this probably will go on a very steep downhill section (on which she has butt-slid one year when it was muddy).  I tell her that I struggle with very steep downhill, but like ‘how bad could it be?”  BAD.  It was probably a half-mile long and 1000’ of elevation decrease.  The trail had a lot of loose dirt, so I headed for the bushes, which unfortunately were the slick dead straw (not sure what kind of plant, but not much more helpful than the gravel).

My best bet was to zigzag down the hill, to lessen the steepness.  Of course, this takes MUCH longer than just straight running down the hill, but “straight running down the hill” blows out my quads, and I’m not even halfway through the course!  So, zigging and zagging is my best bet.

When we finally get to the aid station (basically at the bottom of the hill), the downhill has increased our speed to 17 minute miles, but now the temperature is in the mid-80s.  I refill my water bottle and we head off on the next section.

After about 15 minutes, I note that we haven’t seen any marks for awhile… which always concerns me.  Ramona isn’t certain we are on the right course, so we backtrack for about 5 minutes and don’t see anything.  While I don’t usually do this, I decide that we need to go ALL the way back to the aid station (uphill, too), and a worried captain tells us that she’s sorry that she directed us the wrong way (basically at least a mile extra, maybe 2… though knowing our speed at this point….).  So frustrating, especially in this heat!

The next section, which is 4-1/2 miles of single-track, with a bunch of uphill, really starts to get to me and I have to stop and sit down and try to cool off.  For a bit, I am ahead of Ramona, but then when I sit, she passes me, and I encourage her to keep going and I will “catch” her, even though I don’t have any confidence that I actually will.

The next aid station is Rocky City (18.1 miles) and there is an intermediate cutoff of 6 hours… and with the going-off-course-fiasco, there is NO way I am going to make it, and I am OK with missing the cutoff, because the conditions are so miserable (though I am not sure what I am going to find that will replace this race in the next couple of weeks).  So, when I arrive, the aid station captain tells me that ordinarily they would have to pull me… however, there is one person behind me and last year, he missed the cutoff and didn’t finish.  The Race Director wants him to have the chance to finish, so the cutoff is now wherever that runner is (behind me, though).  All I have to do is stay ahead of him and I can still finish!  (Despite the fact that 18.1 miles has taken me 6 hours and 45 minutes!)

Now I have a scant 2.9 miles back up to the original aid station… but of course, it is all uphill and there is no shade (temperature now in the mid-90s).  I have to stop a few times to sit down and cool off as best I can.  It takes me 91 minutes!  (30 minutes/mile)

Ramona is at the aid station and she has decided to drop back to the marathon (which means she is heading down the hill to the end at this point) and I am by myself with the mystery runner behind me.

Now I “get” to climb back to the summit (plus vista point) of Mt. Diablo once again.  At least I know what awaits me, trudge up, and get my rubber-band. When I get back down to the parking lot, I need to re-adjust my shoes, because my inserts have turned around backwards in my shoes and it’s uncomfortable.  I have a brief (since I am in a hurry) conversation with some tourists (who are impressed that I can speak Swiss-German).

As I head down the extra single-track loop (en route to the ‘same’ aid station), I encounter the sweep.  She tells me that the guy behind me (who they held the course open for) quit… so now I am in last place for sure.  She is heading up to the top to pull ribbons and will follow behind me.  (Pressure!)

Even though the single-track course is somewhat familiar from earlier in the day, I am a little gun-shy after getting off course earlier.  Because I am moving slower, I don’t see as many ribbons and more than once, I turn around and back-track because I am not certain that I am on course.  My biggest worry at this point is that the sweep will remove ribbons on the course when I get off and then I will really get lost.

However, this course does connect with the larger loop and once I see that connection, I KNOW where I am and that I am fairly close to the aid station once again.  This section takes me 103 minutes this time (about 20 minutes slower than when I was fresher and the weather was 15 degrees cooler).

When I get back to the aid station, I just need a few minutes to refill my water bottles and sit for a bit to gird myself for the last few miles (almost all downhill). Maybe I am there a bit too long, because the captain comes over with his phone and says that he just got a text from the race director and that he has to pull me.  I leap up and say, “Text him back that I left 5 minutes ago!” and start running briskly down the hill.

It is starting to get a bit dark at this point, but at this point, I want my finish… especially after the travails I have suffered.  When the ranger passes me down the hill, I make certain that I am running at a fairly quick pace when he goes by, so that there is no question that I don’t need to be pulled.  He doesn’t even really give me a look.

So, when I enter into the campground, basically everything has been removed.  The race was chip-timed, and the finish clock and chip-reader are packed away.  I am a little alarmed, and one of the volunteers tells me that I will not get an official time.  What!!??!

But then the race director says, “Don’t worry, I got your time… it’s just not going to be accurate to the exact second.”  Like I really care about that.

However, the greatest worry is that the shuttle isn’t running any more (the shuttle is also the supply truck for the race and is full.  One of the volunteers (coincidentally the nice guy who let me continue at 18 miles) offers to drive me to my car in his car.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

When I get back to my car, it’s already 7:30pm, and I am exhausted.  I call Val to tell her that I think I am just going to drive back to my folks, take a shower and go to bed… and not come visit at all.  She is annoyed and a little disappointed.  Thing is, though, it wasn’t like it took me 8 hours and I have energy to spare.  It took me 10 hours and 58 minutes!  In HEAT!!

For me, though, I have 9 ultras in 9 months in the bag and I “only” have 3 to go.