Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Double Dipsea 2012 Race Report

Last Saturday, I ran the Double Dipsea race with a group of friends I met on the Runner's World "Loop".  The pictures that Brad and Kynan posted in their blogs better describe the beauty of the race, the camaraderie, and the joy of running with good friends. Good running friends carry many of the same goals and dreams. And we know each other fairly well with all the personal blogs we have shared. Brad recently qualified for the Boston Marathon! How cool is that? Part of the beauty of the Loop is that we can live vicariously through our friends and their blogs on the Loop. And the connections we make are very real, as evident in nearly all the Loop-meetup and Loopfest stories.

We may have been running a race together, but most of the time, we weren't very serious about the race. Brad and Laura could have taken a 14 and 12 minute head start before Kynan and I even started, but they chose to run together with us, as one Loop pack.  And we ran as a pack for the first half of the race. We pushed the pace a little harder than what some of us were accustomed to in longer ultra races. We still hiked most of the steep stuff, but at at a moderately hard pace.  We chatted and enjoyed the beauty of the world around us. The redwoods were majestic, the ocean breeze was refreshing, and the volunteers were fabulous. But it was the company that stood out as the the centerpiece of the day. We were a small pack of wolves, naturally loping along in the forest.

At the halfway point, we got a little more serious about the race, and me and Bangle took off to shoot for a sub 3 hour race, and run a negative split.  I ran harder and blew through the aid stations without stopping. I was trying to give Bangle someone to hunt down. But then I ran into a man named Xerxes Whitney. Xerxes has a moderate form of Cerebral Palsy, but he was chugging along up some really tough hills.  I found his story really inspirational! He was also a high school tennis coach! I tagged along behind him and his guide for at least a mile or two. My brother also has Cerebral Palsy (although a much more debilitating form). I just found out that he is also "a three-time marathoner, a college graduate with a bachelor's in economics from UC Santa Cruz and a master's in applied sports science from Indiana University"! Seeing someone with Cerebral Palsy living his life so fully and successfully really touched me.  I was planning to run to the finish with him, but then Bangle caught up and passed us.  I bid Xerxes farewell and took off after Bangle. The hunt was on. Except now, Brad was the deer.

We ran together for a while, but Brad slowly pulled away. I hung around on his heels as best as I could.  Judging from how he descended the stairs, I knew his quads were already trashed. Brad would run better and faster going uphill and on the non-technical flats, but the stairs and the technical downhills belonged to me.  I kept him in my sights and on the final stretch to the finish line, I made my move. My goal was to cross the finish line with Brad, side by side. I pulled up beside him at the last second (literally) and we both did a Bangle pump at the finish. Unfortunately, there was no camera to capture the moment!

We hung around and I got to cheer for my new friend Xerxes as he crossed the finish line, and then witnessed Laura and Kynan duel some random chick to the finish.  They got chick'd! But they put up a good fight!

Me and Laura enjoyed some fabulous watermelon at the finish line, and then we headed off to the beach for an ice bath in the frigid Pacific Ocean! And Laura and Kynan brought some ice cold Blue Moon beer! And they brought technu to wash off any poison oak oils we might have encountered out on the trails! It was wonderful. There is no better way to have an ice bath.

We went out to lunch together at the Lighthouse Cafe in Sausalito, which makes some awesome blueberry pancakes. The special of the day was a Crab and Lobster Sandwich, which sounded pretty good, but turned out to be a little fishy.  Brad and I should have gotten the pancakes! Parting is such sweet sorrow. But we'll be back again someday soon.  And next time maybe some of you will be joining us! Quad Dipsea, anyone? =)

Other notes: I took one Vespa before the race. And even though I brought a handheld with me, it probably only contained no more than 5 ounces of water in it at any given time. Brad carried no water with him and relied solely on the the aid stations.  I was going to do the same, but Kynan scared me into taking the handheld just in case there weren't enough aid stations.I finished the race in 2:58:36, exactly one second ahead of Brad according to the official results.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Fun Run With Scott Jurek

The book Born to Run inspired me greatly. But it was more than just the book.  It was the people in the book; real life people; that I found so genuine and inspirational. I met Caballo Blanco in 2009, and I met Ann Trason and Jenn Shelton in 2010. And yesterday, I was privileged to meet another legend from the book - Scott Jurek, himself, in the flesh. And he did not disappoint, with his kindness and sincerity.

We went on a nice 4.25 mile fun run along the beach that felt simply magical. The weather was perfect and the scenery of the beach, the ocean and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance was just fabulous. I was able to run alongside Scott and chat with him about Caballo Blanco, and the Copper
Canyons Ultra. It all felt surreal. But I have pictures to prove it all wasn't just a dream!

We started taking pictures with Scott the moment he showed up.
The fun run came first around 7:15pm
Most of the miles were done at an easy pace of 10 minutes/mile, although a few of us were running backwards to take pictures.
 We had a lovely view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the beach!

Some of us took turns running next to Scott and chatting with him. 


 Here we are at the turnaround point in the run, where we decide to take a few group pictures.

 Beautiful, isn't it?

 Before the book signing, Scott talks about his book and then answers a few questions from the crowd.

And here is me with Scott Jurek himself, after my books are signed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Marathons are hard!

I have only run two organized road marathons (October and December, 2009), with my fastest being a 3:30 at the California International Marathon (CIM). Since then I've devoted myself to trail running and focused on going further rather than faster. 

Yesterday, I ran a marathon. It wasn't an organized road race.  It was just an out and back course from my house.  The course is run mostly on an asphalt bike trail with a few rolling hills.  My plan was to walk about 1 minute for every mile (also known as Gallowalking). I started with my trusty Nathan HPL 020 Hydration Pack filled to the top (about 70 ounces of water).  I also took one serving of Vespa before the run.  During the run, I used only one pack of Honey Stinger Chews (which in hindsight, wasn't enough).  Even though the Vespa reduces the need for fuel, I probably could have used at least another half of a packet (each packet contains 160 calories/ 10 chews).

I hit the turnaround point (13.1 miles) in 1:58, which felt reasonably easy.  And in the next 7 miles, I actually sped up a little, with most of my miles in the 8:50-8:55 range (the Galloway website estimates that a brisk walking break only adds about 15 seconds to your pace/mile).  Everything felt really smooth.  But then it started to warm up.  And then at mile 20, I ran out of water! One of my biggest problems is not drinking enough water so I was trying to drink more in this training run. I guess I executed that plan too well! I had no idea that I would run out of water so soon! And I was not expecting it to get so warm. Luckily, there were two water fountains in the last 6 miles of my marathon route (one 20.5 and another at 23 miles into my run).  Even though I had begun to suffer a bit from the heat (I needed more water), I was still on pace to run a sub 4 marathon at mile 23.  Shortly after gulping down some water from the water fountain, I felt pretty miserable (I had Saltstick Capsules, but forgot to take one at the fountain).  Running became much more difficult.  This was just a training run, so I simply abandoned the sub-4 attempt and took more walking breaks.

I finally made it home, at the 26.2 mile mark in 4:02:40. That was tough! If I had more water (maybe an extra handheld), I would probably have been able to run that sub-4 marathon. And a few more long, flat training runs would have helped. If I had started earlier, it would also have been cooler (I started at 6:52AM). And next time, I'll be stopping at the water fountain to refill my hydration pack, even if it means giving up a a couple minutes.

To prepare for the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February 2013, I hope to be doing more training runs like this - long flat runs with walking breaks worked in. Maybe the long flat runs will also help me build up some marathon speed. I'll be tempted to test out the speed (conservatively) at an organized marathon in the fall/ winter (maybe CIM). And in a race, I won't be walking so often!