A Trail Runners Blog
Scott Dunlap's blog of trail running, ultrarunning, triathlon, and other life adventures. I enjoy the physical, emotional, and spiritual journey of outdoor events and the chance to meet cool people. This blog contains interviews, research, original fiction, new product ideas, and all things trail running.Scott Dunlaphttp://firstname.lastname@example.orgBlogger798125
Updated: 1 hour 5 min ago
Last Saturday, 300 brave warriors stood together at the foothills of Rancho San Rafael Park near Reno, NV, shaking off the high desert morning chill. All eyes were on Peavine Peak, stretching 4,500' vertical into the clear blue sky, and the snake of trail leading to the top that would begin our journey. We were here to race the 28th annual Silver State 50-mile/50k/Half Marathon
, a beautiful and hilly trail run put on by the Silver State Striders
, and it was time to get moving!
(Last minute instructions before the 85 runners tackle the 50-miler)
I met some familiar faces at the start, many of whom were getting their last training cycles in before the Western States 100m and Tahoe Rim Trail 100m (TRT), two big summer races with similar terrain. The 50-miler had ~80 runners this year, including Chikara Omine (fresh off his win at the Quicksilver 50m [6:11] last week and hoping his sore hamstring would hold up), local speedster Peter Fain (also eyeing States this year after cutting his teeth at the 100-mile distance with a 23:37 at Wasatch last Fall), Thomas Reiss (training for TRT), Joelle Vaught (the favorite in the Women's race), Mark Lantz (going for #9 States this year), Bob Shebest (training for TRT #3, after getting 3rd in 2010 with a sub-20 hour finish), Lon Freeman (also targeting States), Erik Skaden (States), and Jim Magill (already his 6th ultra since late February). At 6am, we were off!
(Mark Lantz hydrates, as Thomas Reiss, Peter Fain, and the other runners stay warm)
(...and we're off!)
This was a cruiser race for me, hoping to sneak in a qualifying sub 11-hour time for the 2014 Western States 100 lottery without screwing up my last training cycle before the Chamonix Marathon. I don't want to end my streak as the most losing runner in the Western States lottery...7-time loser, SO PROUD!!! But it was nice to start the race knowing I had time to relax, take some pictures, and literally stop and smell the flowers.
(The climb begins)
(Eric Frome charges up the hill)
After a few miles in the shadows, a long line of runners broke into the sun and spread out. Chikara, Bob Shebest, and Peter Fain set the pace up front and soon were out of reach. In fact, it didn't take long before all of us were so spread out it felt like we were alone! I paced along with local runner Lisa Daane, tackling her first ultra after having her son just nine months ago. I love how new Mom's have such a high pain benchmark that a 50k just isn't enough...gotta go big!
(Out of the shadows)
(Lisa Daane climbs the single track)
(All smiles in the early miles!)
(Into the sun, with a familiar shadow pose)
The trails in this area are amazing, alternating between fire roads and single track, and all of it runnable. By the time we cruised through The Pond aid station (mile 8), civilization was a distant memory, replaced with vast stretches of desert grass sprinkled with wildflowers like the red paintbrush, blue violets, and purple sage. My soul drank fully from Nature's cup!
(Sharing the single track)
(Up, up, up!)
(Happy volunteers at The Pond, and more great trails!)
(Balsamroot, I think?)
(The best part of the race...this view goes on for miles!)
I walked a good chunk of the climbs, keeping my heart rate under 145 (my aerobic threshold) as much as possible. That was easier on my knee too, a minor soreness that appeared soon after Big Sur, and likely due to too much road racing. The liquids were going down fast, a sure sign of the dry, high altitude conditions, and we reached Peavine (mile 11) just as our water bottles were down to the final slurps. George Ruiz and his gang of super-volunteers got us set up, and we descended down into the back country.
(George and his volunteers ran a tight ship at Peavine)
(The gorgeous back country)
(Long easy descents make it fun!)
(Red paintbrush on the left, purple sage on the right...what's not to love?)
I stopped for an impromptu bio break around mile 15, and again at the Long Valley aid station (mile 22), both signs that I was not keeping my fluid levels up. I wasn't in a hurry though, so I spent a lot of time rehydrating at the aid stations. I think I had the same problem when I did this race the first time in 2007
. "Wait, you did this race six years ago
?" asked a fellow runner. Holy cow, I'm already becoming one of "those" old guy ultrarunners. And still making the same mistakes! ;-)
(Downhill is fun!)
(The ladies of Long Valley take care of us)
I shuffled along with Jay Kincaid, a local runner from Reno, who suggested walking a few steep hills so we don't un-Gu our stomachs. It had warmed up to the low 70's, so the heat was becoming a factor, but we did have some occasional cloud cover that seemed to hover right with us down the single track. We're surfing cloud shadows! I picked up the pace a bit along with Taylor Valentino, who entertained me with stories of his studies in Exercise Physiology and endurance recovery techniques. Taylor was really looking forward to helping out the great Dr. Marty Hoffman at Western States this year! Given what he is studying, I suspect his thesis will be a must-read for ultrarunners.
(Just gorgeous at every turn)
(Taylor tackles a big climb)
(At mile 29, we begin seeing 50k runners on the trail)
(The fun single track towards River Bend)
(Lisa makes her way back from River Bend, still smiling)
(Jay Kincaid begins the big climb at mile 34)
(River Bend aid station, mile 33!)
(Feeling great at River Bend, photo courtesy of Patrick McKenna)
I took it easy on the long descent to River Bend (mile 33), where the volunteers helped me swap out my hydropack and pointed me back up towards Peavine. One more big ascent bottom to top, and it's all cruising from there! I was just under six hours, so looking at a comfortable 9:30-10 hour finish. The clouds started to come in more frequently, giving us a bit of shelter from the noon sun, and we started into the climb.
(Awesome cloudscapes near the top)
I caught up to Eric Frome, and after chatting a bit we figured out that we had lived in the same area of Portland, OR, within a few blocks. Eric was training for the Leadville 100, his first 100-miler, looking to add to the family legacy started when his father did Leadville nearly 30 years ago. We chatted for an hour, making the climb go by quickly, and even found out that he had finished the 2013 Boston Marathon
just 17 seconds ahead of me. 17 seconds?!? How strange is that? Out in the middle of the desert, I'm running with a guy that probably next to me for all of Boston.
(Sharing high fives on the trail)
Josh Owen and Joshua Marks, two more Oregonians, caught us on the final climb and we all got a big refill at Peavine (mile 39) before the long descent. I leaned into the hill to chase after the pink top of Lynn Vanscholack from Meridian, ID, whom I had been seeing for the last four hours. My guess is that she and Lisa were duking it out for 2nd Female, with Joelle likely leading. The Oregonians bid me farewell, and the wind swept me down the single track.
(This aid station was singing REO Speedwagon at the top of their lungs when I arrived...awesome)
I caught Lynn at the Ridge View aid station (mile 44), who was smiling but suffering from pushing the last climb. When she heard we had 10k to go, she said "no problem!" and we headed out. The last few miles of single track were so much fun - just enough incline to lean forward and bank those turns. I was actually a little bummed when downtown Reno appeared on the horizon - darn, we're almost done!
(Civilization arises like a mirage...or the Mirage hotel, maybe)
I jogged into the park and crossed the finish in 9:37:39 for 31st place, feeling good and well under the 11-hour time I needed. It was so nice to take it easy! Chikara was there to great me at the finish, and let me know that he and Bob Shebest ran side-by-side for 33 miles before Chikara pulled away to win in a 3rd-best-ever-on-this-course 7:09. Holy cow, that's 3 minutes/mile faster than me! Bob came in second (7:23), and Christopher Wehan (7:30) came in third, with Michael McMurray (7:33, 4th) just edging out Mark Lantz (7:41) for the Master's win. Joelle Vaught had handily won the Women's division (8:13, 9th overall), with Lisa Daane (9:27) getting second, and Lynn Vanscholack (9:45) holding on for 3rd. Everyone mentioned miles 34-39 were the toughest, but the weather couldn't have been better. (all results
(Feeling good! Photo courtesy of Patrick McKenna)
(Chilling with winner Chikara Omine, photo courtesy of Patrick McKenna)
There was plenty of folks handing me beer at the finish, and I chilled out with Sarah Syed (tackled the 50k today) and Mark Lantz as we cheered on fellow runners and snacked on ice cream. I gave a final thanks to John Trent and the Silver State Striders for inviting us once again to frolic in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Such a great day! I headed home with the windows rolled down, breathing the sage-filled air deep into my lungs. Refreshed, renewed, and replenished.
Ultrarunner and hotel/restaurant magnate Karl Hoagland has acquired Ultrarunning Magazine
, and will be taking over as its Publisher starting with the July, 2013 issue. Hoagland is no stranger to ultrarunning, having finished over 40 ultras including a 15th place at the 2010 Western States 100 (he also serves on the board of WS).
Retiring Publisher John Medinger along with his wife Lisa Henson, who has been UltraRunning’s General Manager, will remain involved with the magazine as Correspondents at Large, contributing content on a periodic basis. John will also continue as the Race Director for the Quad Dipsea (which he founded 30 years ago) and the popular Lake Sonoma 50. Managing Editor Tia Bodington will retain her position with the publication, as will Subscriptions Manager Carol King. Ultrarunner Erika Lindland will join the team as a Contributing Editor with responsibility for race content and the magazine’s on-line content and presence.
[Ed Note - A few hours after this posted, the video became password-protected. Try the password "injinji" and let's hope it works!]
Photographer/filmmaker Matt Trappe
shot an amazing video for Injinji
at the Lake Sonoma 50m this year. Great footage, and commentary from Dave Mackey, Timothy Olson, Meghan Arboghast, Galen Burrell, and Jacob Rydman!
Couldn't agree more. I've been blister-free in Injinji's for nearly a decade now.
Truth in advertising, brought to you by SNL.
“Comfort. Support. Stability.
New Balance shoes, made for running…
…but worn by chubby white guys in their late 30′s to early 40′s.
New Balance sneakers have advanced cushioning in the forefoot…
…because if you were running, you’d need that.
That same cushioning helps me just stand here.”
My friend Johnny Lee said it reminded him of this clip from Crazy, Stupid, Love...another great NB nerd reference.
[Going micro-blog style for this one...thanks to a broken camera, whoops.]
(Want to know an easy cheat for getting a good picture? Take a photo of the cover of a coffee table book. ;-) )
: Kids asleep in the car, and Christi is a flurry of thumbs on her iPhone as we take the two-hour drive to Carmel and Big Sur. Birthday weekend is off and running (#44!), and we've got a full agenda. I'm looking forward to feeling worlds away on the edge of the earth. The silence is precious.
: Wide-eyed girls stare into the sea at the Monterey Aquarium, mimicking sea otters and giant crabs with funny voices. At ages 6 and 2, they play together more often now, and it overwhelms my heart every time. Runners stroll everywhere, many wearing the blue and gold of Boston, and our stories of the bombings become more and more abbreviated. I was at a bar, she was stopped at mile 25, they were in the finish tent...no elaboration required since we've shared them all in the last 13 days. Michael Wardian swoops by with his boys, back in running form, and one of ~400 doing the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge. A best combined time means more to me this year, and I want Top 5. Let's bookend those Boston memories with style.
: Sharing Coronas at Nepenthe with Kik Armstrong, Paige Alam, and friends, staring over the cliffs. I gained a full pound in one night of birthday fine dining revelry, but it was worth it. Gluttony is always a welcome guest at my annuals. We're near the starting line for tomorrow's race, and the 25-mile drive along the course did little to ease worries of the first timers at the table. We visualize the race - redwoods, wind, the climb at Hurricane Point, Bixby bridge, Carmel Highlands, beer and strawberries at the finish. It's guaranteed adventure no matter what the weather. Quinn, our 2-year-old, eats an entire stick of butter when we aren't watching, guaranteeing gag-worthy diaper changes on the hour all day and night. Good times.
: In the starting corral catching up with friends, trying not to worry that a hole in my bag resulted in a lost phone, no camera battery, no electrolytes, and no sunglasses. What-evah. There is no place I would rather be, and my smile knows it will be over all too soon. Defending champions Adam Roach and Nuta Olaru look fit, as does Wardian (only guy I know who can run sub 2:30 in Hokas), Ian Sharman (a California resident once again), Oswaldo Lopez (everything is easy after Badwater), Runner's World's Jeff Dengate, Brian Rowlett (50 and still fast), Chris Eide (go Team ITR!), Michael Jimenez (signed up yesterday), Sean Meissner (Durango-acclimated and faster than ever)...I am in quick company. A tearful moment of silence for Boston, and we are released along with the doves.
: Brian Rowlett lets out a happy yawlp as we cross Bixby Bridge (mile 13.1, 1:26:20), just as the lead women catch us. I'm getting a lot of help in the first half, working with Sean Meissner in the wind, and pacing behind Brian up a very windy and foggy Hurricane Point (Brian holds the Strava record for this climb). The mountains stretch to the sky like Middle Earth, and Brian tempts me with tales of old trails just a few steps away. The green and golden fields are barren of birds and cows....unusual. The grand piano sings to the seals.
(Working with Sean in the early miles, photo courtesy of Sean Curry)
: For eight miles I've been working with Nuta, the lead woman, heads down on a 2:50 pace. She's all business, I'm just hanging on, and our silence is evidence of a pace near our limits. My legs (heart?) feel heavy from Boston, and Nuta drops me as the hills of the Carmel Highlands (mile 21) rise from the coastline. Hundreds of joggers and walkers cheer us on, claiming Hwy 1 from the cars for an afternoon. I get a baseball-sized strawberry that takes six bites to eat. The juices stain my lips and cheeks blood red.
(Cruising the coastline, photo courtesy of Sean Curry)
: I find the finish in 2:52:13 for 19th place, my best time here, but 2 minutes short of a top 5 in the B2B Challenge or my age group. My girls are smiling at the finish, a wonderful treat, and instantly whisk away material desires. Adam Roach (2:27) and Nuta Olaru (2:50) repeat their wins, and everyone is in good spirits at the finish festivities. One sip of beer and a handful of strawberries, then Quinn butters up her last diaper to the seams and we have to depart.
(This relay team is stoked for the great handmade finisher medals!)
: I am woken from a nap by the whispered laughter of girls, already in swimsuits, swearing I promised them one last romp in the hotel swimming pool before heading home. The air smells of lilac and lavender, the birdsong has returned. My wife is effortlessly beautiful, smiling with her eyes from behind her book. Am I dreaming? My life is a dream.
[The following post is brought to you by the incredibly fast Gary Gellin...go Team inov-8 and Team Inside Trail Racing!]
"Run Your Own Race"Lake Sonoma 50 Mile - April 2013
Those of us who race almost any distance longer than a sprint have undoubtedly been advised by someone to "run your own race". Aside from the general acceptance that it is a way to run a personal best time at most distances, it is something not frequently achieved in practice. This has been on my mind since taking a different approach, and perhaps an experimental one, at the recent Lake Sonoma 50 mile rac
In recent years, Lake Sonoma - part of the competitive Montrail Cup Series - has drawn a growing field of elite runners while selling out all of its available entries in a matter of hours. Competition aside, it is a destination event with three days of fun including a Friday pasta feed party, a rugged and beautiful course to run on Saturday with gourmet tamales and microbrew at the finish line, and a Sunday winery tour and social gathering. It is the brainchild of Ultrarunning Magazine publishers (and patron saints of the sport) John Medinger and Lisa Henson. The somewhat intimate size of the event, at least compared to a big city marathon, provides a convivial atmosphere.
With a busy schedule this year consisting of one ultra a month from January through September, it made perfect sense to shift my focus for some of these races from what my finish ranking should be to an opportunity to refine pacing and fueling strategies. Every race is ideally a stepping stone. I felt that Lake Sonoma, with a relatively large number of top runners whom I might finish in front of or behind at other events throughout the year, was a good fit for figuring out how to race the clock while exercising the restraint of not racing other people.
(Start line mix of jitters and laughs. Photo by Holly Harris.)
It was expected that testosterone would take control of the pace from early on. 2012 was a course record year - one that saw the record fall by 50 minutes. What was a fast pace for the top 10 or so runners for the first half of the race in 2012 was an even faster pace for the top 20 this year. My approach, experiment really, was to attempt to run what should be my average effort for 50 miles for each and every mile along the way. The "go by feel" method doesn't work so well in this regard as pretty much no one feels very good at mile 49, and human psychology limits the ability to ignore the influence of the pace of runners around you in the opening miles. The approach I took was to run within a narrow heart rate range every step of the way. For 50 miles this works out to roughly 30 beats below my maximum heart rate and a span of about 7 beats to account for variation in terrain. It works out to about a 6:30 pace on a flat road.
(Gary Gellin and Karl Meltzer rolling past a group of equestrians. Photo by Holly Harris.)
The results along the way were somewhat promising. My splits through the halfway point were slightly ahead or even with those of last year, but that was probably due to having had a bit more fatigue going in to the 2012 edition. Running with steady effort as measured by heart rate produces an interesting effect on very hilly terrain. It's what Nick Clark (3rd place in 2012, 10th place in 2013) described as an "awkwardly choppy tempo" and I don't argue with his observation. I've seen the same thing with years of cycling while using a power meter. There is a natural tendency to dig deep on every climb and recover (or coast) through flat and downhill sections. I see it at every level of runner or cyclist from beginner to elite. My hope was that in avoiding a 50k effort on every climb, I'd have enough gas in the tank to run 50 mile pace in the closing miles. I knew from experience that hitting the red zone too early and often would set me up for a disastrous finish.
(Plugging away at the 30 mile mark. Photo by Holly Harris.)
The results were positive but mixed. I bettered my time by 9 minutes - most of that in the second half of the race. I went from 20th at the halfway point to 13th overall at the finish. Close scrutiny of the results puts me right in the middle of that fictitious category of runners I define as "semi-pro" or "expert". I was ahead, mostly, of those who suffered an "off" day. For much of the last 30 miles I ran, leapfrogged rather, with Karl Meltzer. Karl is arguably one of the best 100 mile racers in the world. 50 miles is not his specialty, but make no mistake, he can run hard and fast for the duration. Karl was on "autopilot" with his headphones on while I was "piloted" by my heart rate monitor, and we each
ran our own race in fairly close proximity until I succumbed to my all-too-familiar inner thigh cramps in the last 12 miles. Despite slowing down and even having to take a few brief stops, I passed four runners and somehow bridged back up to Karl with half a mile to go. I accelerated by him carefully and kept speeding up, for no good reason perhaps, all the way to the finish line. Max King, pre-race favorite who led the first half of the race at breakneck speed but slowed by 25% in the second half (while still finishing 3rd overall), teased me that I looked like I was finishing a 5k. In terms of effort, it's possible that slightly harder efforts on the climbs were warranted. On the other hand, muscular endurance (as manifested by cramping and reduction in speed) might have been compromised even more despite still having energy reserves to spare.
(Sprinting to the finish. Photo by Holly Harris.)
Endurance events of very long distance expose weak links in every individual in a way not seen as often in sub-marathon and even marathon distance - nausea, muscle cramps, biomechanical problems, exhaustion. This is apparent in the numbers of people who are able to run an even pace for an entire race. It is a vanishingly small number of runners in a 50 mile race who slow down less than 10% in the second half of a race. The median slowdown is around 20% and there is no discernible correlation between that number and whether the runner finished at the front, mid-pack, or in the back of the pack. You might expect that as records continue to fall, and as more runners take to the trails and run long distance, you will see front and mid-pack runners showing even splits. I spoke to Salomon International Team member Rickey Gates about this. He feels that a lot of the talent in the sport is not performing now to their full potential (himself included) and that split times in the future will be much more even or even negative. I think the ultimate parallel for this type of ultra distance runner are the top European bicycle racers. The famous bicycle racer and television commentator Bob Roll said that a Tour de France rider - after 3 weeks of incredible distance and intensity - becomes a machine designed to ride a bicycle. Some day soon we will probably see more of that same level of performance in ultramarathon running (and hopefully without performance enhancing drugs!). Sage Canaday is someone on his way to this level of performance
. Sage not only won Lake Sonoma in course record time, but was the only runner in the top 50 overall who slowed down less than 10% in the second half of the race. I helped Sage get last year's winning split times the night before the race which he promptly wrote down in magic marker on his forearm. Despite being 5 minutes behind the leaders at the turnaround he had a 6 minute cushion to break the course record and did just that but with only two minutes to spare. Max King assures me that his own time to the turnaround, albeit a full 5 minutes ahead of Sage, was the right one for him had it been his "on" day, so we are likely to see that lofty course record fall again.
(Holly Harris, Gary Gellin, and 2013 Women's winner Cassie Scallon. Photo by Chris Jones.)
The upside to the discomfort and the complexity of the challenges faced by every entrant in an ultramarathon is that it forms a common bond. Ed Ayres describes this well in his book The Longest Race. Ayres looks back at how it would have been anathema to his high school coach for a runner to think of his competition as companions. Decades later while running the JFK 50 Mile, he reminds himself how companionship strengthens the spirit and that running his best would be helped by his hope that everyone else ran their best as well, including his age group competitors. Two people that I was rooting for at Lake Sonoma this year include Joe Uhan and Myles Smythe. Joe ran the fastest final 12 miles of all but one person in the race. Myles covered the final 12 miles slower than all but one finisher in the race. Joe had a breakthrough day. He profited from hard work on his biomechanics, diet, and training and is poised to improve this year at the Western States 100 over his stellar time from 2012. Myles is a fit runner with tremendous enthusiasm for both participating in and photographing trail races. He is an acquaintance I had misplaced, but we connected online to share a campsite before the race. His demon is debilitating stomach issues. He has been tenacious and unrelenting in his quest for a solution and I'm sure he will find it some day. I am reminded that there is no easy formula for extrapolating outside our normal comfort zone. Experience through trial and error along with trust in yourself chips away at obtaining elusive goals.
It was a beautiful San Francisco day last Sunday when I joined 3,000+ runners for the annual Presidio 10-Miler
. This was my third running of this hilly and fast 10-mile (or 10k/5k) put on by The Guardsmen
, and it was once again the Road Runners Clubs of America
(RRCA) 10-mile National Championship. It would take a lot of sun and smiles to brighten up a week that began with the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon
, but thanks to great race directing, volunteering, ideal weather, and the solidarity of our fellow runners, our souls were alight with a healing warmth brought by a perfect day of running.
As soon as I arrived, I spotted the lean physique of last years winner, San Diego's Leon Medina, warming up along Crissy Field and joined him for a few warm up strides. We both commented on the clear skies and near-70 degree weather...despite being April, this race was going to be hot! Leon's heavy class load at HSU still left room for training, and this was his final fast tune up before a big half marathon in a few weeks. Given his fitness level and raw speed, he was definitely the man to beat today. The Women's race had at least five great runners to keep the mix alive, including defending champion and Chico speedster Sarah Hallas, SF runner Michelle Meyer (fresh off a 2:43 finish at the Napa Marathon), and the ridiculously fit and fast Verity Breen who is always in contention. It would all come down to who was ready for the sharp and steep hills around the Presidio, and who left enough for the two mile bayside sprint at the end.
(What a day! Click on any picture to see it in BIG format)
There was a lot of blue and gold in the starting corral as runners donned Boston Marathon finisher shirts going back as far as '78. Friendly hugs lasted a few extra seconds, always ending in smiles and an unspoken gratitude to be here and healthy. It was stunning to realize how broadly and deeply the Boston bombings affected everyone; Boston is a part of every runner in one way or another. But this is how we show our solidarity...we move on, we celebrate the day together, we send our prayers to those still healing. The RD's brought one of the original founders of the Presidio 10 on stage, who did an amazing job reminding us what our national anthem means and how it is one of the few anthems that asks a question...will that Star Spangled Banner yet wave? It is a sign of our strength to move on, to overcome. I couldn't help but tear up thinking about that.
(Understanding the Star-Spangled Banner, while new mascot Guard Dog pumps up the crowd)
With a minute to go, I reached to set a watch that wasn't there (best to go by feel this soon after my PR at Boston
) and laughed that my emotional state remains near-chaotic and changing every 10-15 seconds. I haven't gotten a lot of sleep this week, and as any new parent or mild PTSD
patient can attest, mood swings in this state can rival a bipolar caffeine-addict going through menopause. I thought I had it under control when the ringing in my head finally subsided, but at a job interview late last week I answered the question, "how do you think mobile and tablets will shape the magazine industry" with "your industry won't exist in six years, but not because of mobile; it will be because of pussies like you who are afraid to do anything about it except hire a new executive to take the blame for questions you can't answer, while you collect your bonuses and lie yourself to sleep every night grasping for any form of professional relevance. Sorry, time is too previous to say anything but the truth, as dark and consuming as it might be. And it could be I have some unresolved emotions from Boston. Maybe. I mean, it's possible.". Um, yeah. Haven't got a callback on that one yet. ;-P
But as the RD called out "5,4,3,2,1...", my head and heart calmed for the task at hand. Ah, the cleanse of purpose, especially a speedy romp through the Presidio! It felt awesome. The gun released us all, physically and figuratively.
(The back of Leon's head...I see it a lot!)
(Verity Breen [red] and Michelle Meyer [blue] side-by-side in the first mile)
Leon took it out fast (can he even go slow?), and began navigating some of the course changes required this year due to trail erosion. The hills were easier to tackle thanks to more flat sections between each climb, but I feared my trail advantage in years past would be lost now that it's all roads and bike paths. I settled into 4th place right behind Tiburon's Matthew Davies, who got an awesome shout out from a dog along the way (he really
wanted to join!). We zigged through the historic buildings of the Presidio and began the downhill plunge towards the Golden Gate bridge, as Leon and a neon-shirted Erik Jones continued to pull away from us (mile 3).
(Tackling the hills)
(Weaving through the historic Presidio buildings...oh, crap...my headband is on twisted!)
(Sarah Hallas grinds up the hills)
(Simple out and back to that island over there!)
(Runners are stoked for the hills!)
The GG bridge is majestic and beautiful, but I'll tell ya, it's a tricky for a fast run! The climb up is enough to get your arms pumping and it goes on FOH-EVAH, and the fog-coated manholes are slick enough to force you to weave back and forth. The day was amazing though, and it was hard not to stare over the calm of the Bay as we turned around and headed back on the ocean side of the bridge (mile 6). I passed up Matthew who was all smiles, and we both waved to the hundreds of runners filling the bridge on the opposite side, as well as the many honking cars giving their support.
(Here we go!)
(Matthew gettin' it done)
(Couldn't ask for a better day on the GG Bridge)
(Your speed is 11 mph...yeah!)
(Hundreds of runners enjoy the GG Bridge on a sunny day)
We worked our way down to the shore again, and I could see that Leon was cruising at this point with a solid 40-second lead over Erik, but Erik was still moving fast. I could also see some folks gaining ground behind me, in particular Doug Howard and Ryan Steer working together to move up through the ranks, so I picked it up to a 5:50 min/mile to try and keep them at bay. Hmm, looks like the legs still have some punch! The Women's race looked pretty tight, with Michelle charging hard just 15 seconds ahead of Sarah and Verity.
(Leon in great form)
(Time to go fast!)
I bombed down the shoreline trail and crossed the finish line in 1:00:34, feeling solid, and good enough for 3rd overall and the Masters win (same as last year!). Not my fastest here, but still pretty quick! Leon had won again (58:44), with Erik taking second (59:04), while Michelle won the Women's title (1:03:41), and Sarah (1:04:20) and Verity (1:04:32, Masters winner) filled out the podium. Matthew Davies got 5th, crossing the finish with the dog who had cheered him on! I'm sure his mutt appreciated him losing a few seconds to share that moment. ;-) [all results]
(At the finish, photo courtesy of some photo service I'm not paying)
(Michelle Meyers and Verity Breen, 1st and 3rd today)
(Winner Leon Medina and I trying to convince Sarah to do the whole Big Sur Marathon this weekend)
We had beer and bloody mary's (The Guardsmen never disappoint!) with our pancakes, while a blues band rocked the finish line. We got some pictures with the Guard Dog, the new mascot, and cheered in the waves of 10k runners. My sister-in-law, Jennifer Drue, had a great 10-miler with her friend, and I found out one of my Woodside friends was good friends with a Stanford classmate as well. See? We're all connected. It was great to talk with some of The Guardsmen too, and hear about how this race continues to raise funds to help at-risk kids and get them into outdoor programs. That would explain all the young smiling faces at the aid stations! All in all, it felt like we did some good for the universe today.
(The Guard Dog gets some love from the ladies...two paws up!)
(Lucy introduces herself as I nap on the grass)
I let the sun burn into my skin a bit to capture this day and these welcome moments of calm and clarity. I'm back home, back with "my people", grounded once more. It all feels fresh and new again. Thank you Guardsmen and your amazing volunteers for that, and congrats on another successful Presidio 10! I will see you again next year, my friends.
It's been nearly a week since the tragic Boston bombings, yet many of us still are wondering how we can help. Here are a few things you can do:
1) Join the One Minute of Silence scheduled for Monday, 4/22 @ 2:50pm EST
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Massachusetts Governor Deval L. Patrick, and One Fund Boston
are calling upon Boston and all communities across the Commonwealth to join together in a Moment of Silence on Monday afternoon, exactly one week following the Boston Marathon bombings.
The minute of silence will take place at 2:50 p.m. ET to honor the victims of the attacks and their families. It will be followed by the ringing of bells throughout Boston and the Commonwealth.
Mayor Menino and Governor Patrick are humbled by the support shown by the public and the business community, and the B.A.A.
will join in support and in honor of the victims and their families.
2) Make a donation to the One Fund.
to make a direct donation to help the victims of this tragedy.
3) Buy the Boston Stands As One T-Shirt.
Adidas created this t-shirt
and will be donating 100% of profits to the One Fund. The initial run sold out in hours, so they are making more.
4) Get the Wristband.
If Livestrong-like wristbands are your thing, head to runnow.com
to get one of the 100,000 to be made (all proceeds go to the One Fund).
5) Join a Local Boston Solidarity Run.
They are going on everywhere - just ask your local running clubs.
6) Get Ready for Boston 2014.
Come show Boston some love next year. Given the interest levels of qualifying (see graphic of Google inquiries for "qualify for Boston"), it may be tougher than ever, but I get the impression 2014 will be an amazing year.
7) Go Outside.
Get outside and make some tracks, and send your good mojo to the people of Boston. It's free entry to National Parks all week, so you have no excuse. ;-)
If we're lucky, we get a few days in life when we truly feel alive. A day when your emotional boundaries are stretched to their limits, exhausting the body and mind, exhilarating the soul, and filling you with gratitude for years to come. It's the reason many of us toe the line at marathons, triathlons, and extreme races, secretly hoping the day turns out to be anything but normal. The 2013 Boston Marathon
turned out to be one of those days for me in a "be careful what you wish for" way. I'm happy to have PR'd, but after the tragic bombing that occurred several blocks away from me at the finish line, I am far more happy just to be alive.
[The first part of this race report is going to sound unusually positive given what you already know about the bombings, but I feel it's important to capture the emotions at the time they happened. My apologies if you consider it inappropriate.]
The beginning of the 117th running of the Boston Marathon was its usual cauldron of optimism as ~23,000 runners piled into buses to head to the start. The weather was ideal - overcast and expected to be in the low 50's for most of the race - which was a relief after the 90+ degree heat monster from last year
. I had decided to go fast on my 9th running of Boston, thanks to being in good shape, healthy, and realizing this was a pretty good place to go for a PR given my familiarity with the course and the good company of many faster runners. My tapered legs (over-tapered
?) were screaming "GET ON WITH IT!", and corral #1 buzzed like a beehive as we counted down the last few minutes. My stretch goal was 2:40, a solid five and half minutes off my PR, but possible given how my training was going. We all counted down together...3, 2, 1...and we were off!
(Corral #1 gets fidgety)
(Excited and ready to go!)
(And we're off!)
Mile 1 was slow (6:21 min/mile, when I need to average a 6:08 pace) thanks to runner congestion, but probably did us all a favor by holding us back from bombing the downhill. By mile 2, I was back on a 5:55-6:08 min/mile pace, looking for any runner with a bib number between 390-440 that would indicate a 2:40'ish qualifying time. I ran along with Loren Wohletz (#415!) from Albequerque, NM, whose long brown Wardian-like hair was easy to spot in the crowds, and he said he was looking to sneak under 2:40 today. A perfect teammate!
(The weather was ideal!)
(Running legend Joan Benoit Samuelson on her way to a age group record 2:50 finish)
(Crowds were outstanding, per usual)
For the next eight miles, I just tucked in with Loren and a few others, smirking at how different it was to race without constantly looking for photo opportunities. The miles ticked off consistently around 6:00-6:08 min/mile, with the disturbingly quiet strides of the talented runners around me. I did bring a camera (of course!), but would be frugal with my usage; my new 3 oz GoPro Hero3
was in my pocket specifically to capture the famous Wellesley scream tunnel at mile 12. And it did not disappoint! (sorry for the shaky video..I did need to stay on pace!)
I hit the halfway in 1:20:20 perfectly, and was still feeling good enough for a negative split. The first half of Boston is easier than the second, so some reserves would be needed to keep the pace. Loren started clicking off 5:55 min/miles, so I had to let him go (he went 2:40:04!), and instead fed off the amazing crowds that came out in droves. Nothing like a few high fives to get your spirits up!
The Newton hills came, and I charged up best I could. My left foot started cramping right under my strike zone (a relatively new experience for me), and despite various attempts at altering my gate, it got progressively worse. By the time we hit Heartbreak Hill (mile 20), I had a peg leg stride that was adding 20-30 seconds per mile. Darn! I asked the guy next to me what he would suggest, and he said, "I suggest you sack up and deal with it". Hilarious! And also true. Words of wisdom from a fellow tough runner. This would all be over in 30 minutes and I could ice it all week if I needed to.
(Peter Gurney gets some love from his spontaneous crew of supporters)
I kicked it back up to a 6:00-6:08 min/mile pace, with a curse-laden Tourette Syndrome
whisper accompanying my rhythm. Lots of folks saved for a kick, so it was easy to tag onto faster runners as we entered the last miles. I had lost a 2:40 finish, but was within striking range of a new PR. We hit Boylston St. and I red-lined to the finish, good enough for 2:44:35 and 457th place. A 42 second PR! I'll take it. I took off my left shoe and hobbled my way through the finish chute with a big smile on my face.
(2013 Boston Marathon winners Rita Jeptoo and Lelisa Desisa)
The front runners had an epic battle, with Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa pulling away from two others in the last mile to win in 2:10:22, and Rita Jeptoo winning with 2:26:25 just over a year after having her first baby. American's Jason Hartmann and Shalene Flanagan each took 4th, respectively.
(Massage volunteer and 10-time finisher Donna Cormier assists the medical team in helping an elated Liang Wu from Austin, TX, who didn't let a pesky blister stop him from setting a new PR)
(World class service from Boston massage volunteers)
As we got our snacks and headed to the massage tent, it was clear that many had PR'd today. Everyone I asked had shaved off one minute, two minutes, even seven minutes...it was a day for champions. I got my massage, thanked the volunteers for their amazing service once again, and headed back to the finish line to get a beer and cheer on other finishers.
The finish line was packed by the time I got back there, and my functional alcoholism was getting impatient with a 15-20 minute wait for a beer. Especially on a PR day! I decided to walk several blocks down Boylston St and find a pub, and soon was clinking pints with fellow runners and sharing our stories. Then we heard it...a sound that will stay with us for the rest of our lives. (watch the first 10 seconds of the next video to get an idea of how loud it was)
(The first explosion was just 100 yards from the finish)
. A few seconds later, another one. BOOM
. What was that? A celebration? A gas leak? Within seconds we had our answer, as all we could see through the pub front window was thousands of people running with panic in their eyes. A crying woman stepped into the pub, saying something about an explosion at the finish line, bodies, and limbs...we all stood there in shock. A few minutes later, the TV's were turned to the live coverage and we got the unfiltered clarity of the horror. It was surreal to see it on TV while hearing the crowds outside, and seeing and smelling the smoke. My senses said to run, but I didn't think it made sense to go anywhere for the time being. But a few minutes later, the pub owner said they were closing. All of the blocks near the explosion were being evacuated.
On the curb, the scene was intense. Nobody could find their loved ones, and feared the worst. Names were being screamed out in helplessness. Local Bostonians couldn't believe what was happening in their community, and the tears streamed down their faces. Sirens echoed down the city streets, and bomb units moved their way in. I hustled across the Boston Commons park and stepped into another pub with lots of big TV screens, texting my wife and parents that I was okay before the phone lines jammed up. The efficiency of the Boston Police Department, medical teams, and volunteers was stunning, and the medical tents for the finish line quickly turned into MASH units
. The videos showed as many runners going TO the scene as running away from it, and it was clear there were 100 people helping on scene within five seconds. Then the counts started to come in...three dead (including an 8-year-old boy), 125+ injured, 10+ amputations already. Then another explosion at the JFK Library. It's not over, people.
Tragic. Senseless. I felt nothing. I couldn't even conjure up anger or denial. It was similar to when I narrowly missed the 9/11 tragedy twelve years ago
and couldn't feel anything for days. I needed to do something. I needed to help.
All celebration festivities were certainly cancelled so I couldn't go there to offer help, so I called Mass General Hospital to see if they needed help or blood, but they had plenty of both. I went online to offer my hotel room to any displaced runner, only to find a list of thousands of Bostonians opening up their houses. Boston was telling me "we got this, bro...we got this". Of course they do. This is Boston, one of the greatest communities in the world. Nobody takes care of their own like Boston.
I looked at my cell phone which said I had 53 texts, 25 Facebook messages, 30 tweets, and 18 phone calls. It was family, friends...it was you guys. Yes, I was okay. Yes, I had been at the finish ~30 minutes before, but my need for beer may have saved my life. In fact, let's have a few more beers. I opened up a tab and invited everyone to raise a glass to the families of the dead and injured, and to celebrate being alive. But in classic Boston form, the staff of the Beantown Pub just kept bringing free drinks.
(Runners were stopped along the course soon after the blasts)
As I got back to my hotel, another runner told me what it was like to be 500 yards away from the finish and told to stop (~5,700 runners were unable to finish). It was his first Boston, and like many who were coming in around the 4:09 mark when the bomb hit, he was running for a charity. I offered him my finisher medal, and he just smiled and said "you're the fifth person to do that in the last hour...no worries, mate, the BAA will take of us". His smile made me smile, and we hugged. Then he saw my watch and said "2:44? That's outstanding! Tell me about your race...".
And just like that, the healing began.
My senses came back quickly. I felt denial, and asked myself "why?" a few hundred times. I got angry, and blasted off a "#GFY terrorists" tweet (that's the Go F*** Yourself hashtag). I felt helplessness, realizing what an easy target the Boston Marathon is
and it was likely just a matter of time before some of that small sliver of crazy in all humankind would see this easy target. Munich Olympics, Atlanta Games...the pinnacle of sport will forever be in the crosshairs of attention-seeking zealots with a few loose screws. I FaceTime'd with my wife and kids and turned into a sobbing mess as soon as it ended. This was good. This was healing. Somewhere in the whirlwind of emotion I fell asleep, and woke up still fully dressed with a new appreciation for life. That day is done. This day is ours. We all move on, stronger than before and gracious to be alive. Heroes abound. We will remember this day forever.
I am sad for the victims of this terrible tragedy. I am proud of Boston for their incredible response and support, and to the B.A.A., B.P.D, and local hospitals for being so prepared they undoubtedly saved lives. But most of all, I am happy for today. Happy to the point of tears that I get live and be healthy, surrounded by caring friends and family. The world feels brighter this morning, the sounds and colors more vibrant. I will not take it for granted. This day is a gift.
Give your kids an extra hug, raise your glasses, tell everyone close to you that you love them. It might be a PR day, it might be your last day, but it's YOUR day. Cherish the gift, people.
I hope to see you all soon. And in case I haven't said it lately...I LOVE YOU!!!
) – A period of excessive
rest, often accompanied by voluminous alcohol consumption, brought on by a
planned 50% reduction of training volume. Side effects include endless
fidgeting, restlessness, deep fears of loss of form, sunburns, phantom weight
gain, engaging in pointless activities like jogging across parks to make Strava
art, ordering drinks served in pineapples, and a complete
inability to focus until race day.
See you in Boston! I am #712 if you want to follow along...
In a groundbreaking new partnership announcement released today, the innovation lab at the The Boston Beer Company
(who brews the famous Sam Adams beer) has revealed the results of their joint venture with the Boston Athletics Association
to develop a single beverage that can be used during a race to hydrate, as well as after the race to celebrate. The new Harriest Indian Pale Ale (IPA), is said to be fortified with electrolytes such as sodium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as fish oil rich in Omega-3's. The name is derived from the Hash House Harriers
, a club of "drinkers with a running problem" whose local Boston chapter provided daily test subjects over the last 12 months for the new concoction.
"It has a pleasant earthy flavor reminiscent of face-planting right on Bolyston Street," said BAA Race Director David McGillivray, "so even those who drink too much will get a taste of the finish line."
(The Boston Hash House Harriers provided testing for the new Harriest IPA)
"We put a lot of thought in developing a beer that could be easily chugged while running," explained Jim Koch, founder of The Boston Beer Company and 3:08 marathoner, "it is cask-conditioned to keep the carbonation down, but still has enough head to retain a beer mustache that can help you savor some electrolytes between aid stations. There are 150 calories in each bottle, so with a solid training regiment, it's possible to drink 1-2 of these bad boys per hour over the course of a marathon. Even if you overdo it, the flavor is light and hoppy, so it will taste good going down or coming up."
The idea for the new hydra-beer came from an impromptu brainstorming session between Mr. Koch, Mr. McGillivray, and Olympian/5-time 800-meter National Champion Nick Symmonds
"Nick was coming fresh off his record-breaking Beer Mile
(5:19), and was drinking us all under the table after a press event," said McGillivray, "His Olympic-caliber alcoholism was inspiring...seeing that dedication of training and his natural gifts in both running and drinking, I knew it was only a matter of time until extreme alcohol consumption would make it's way to endurance distance events. Plus it might level the playing field and give the non-Kenyans a chance to win Boston for once. We wanted to be first and make this happen for our runners, our Boston community, and America."
"To push limits like that, we needed better technology," explained Mr. Koch, "This was no different than all-weather track surfaces, custom-molded spikes, or other running technology that helped runners push the limits of human endurance. Jim and I looked each other in the eye, since both of us could only see out of one eye at that point, and knew we had to do it. We started working on it two days later when our hangovers finally subsided."
Mr. McGillivray also announced at the press briefing that new Boston Qualifying guidelines would include a Harriet classification for those who could finish a marathon in less than five hours while drinking 26 ounces of beer per hour. He stressed that these guidelines were quite challenging, and meant to screen out all but the top 10% of running alcoholics.
The Harriest IPA will make its debut at the Boston Marathon Expo, and will be available to all runners at aid stations along the course. The beer will also be available to spectators along the course thanks to a large donation provided by The Unibrow Club
, in exchange for Nick Symmonds getting a tattoo between his eyebrows to mimic the stylish look made famous by celebrities such as George Harrison, Bert from Sesame Street, and Noel Gallagher from the band Oasis.
(The new Nick Symmonds?)
"Spectating at a world-class event is really hard work, and requires keeping your hydration and electrolytes in balance for hours," said Mr. Symmonds, "just ask any of my 29,663 Twitter followers, many of who already have unibrows, and all of whom I know personally. I feel this is the perfect way to unite us all in brow hair, beer, and running."
[Happy April 1st, everyone!]
The Oakland Running Festival
, now in its 4th annual running, attracts over 9,000 people for its marathon, half marathon, and 5k races. It's already the second biggest Oakland city event of the year! When a spot opened up on my calendar for Sunday, I jumped at the chance to toe the line for a 3rd time at this race and see the hills and neighborhoods of Oakland and Berkeley, CA. I figured it would at the least be a chance to catch up with some friends and get a solid tempo day into the books.
(Runners take over Oakland, photo courtesy of Brent Ward)
It's a great course, and one with enough hills from mile 6-14 to give the San Francisco Marathon
or Big Sur Marathon
a run for the money in the "toughest California road marathon" contest. The hills are steep, in particular the descent from mile 13, which favors us trail rabbits. Given the short notice I didn't really have a plan, other than to go out at a fast aerobic pace (6:20 min/mile), slow it down for the hills, and assess my legs at mile 15. The same strategy had worked the first two times I ran the race (2:49 in 2010, and 2:55 in 2011), and had nabbed me two Masters wins thanks to their "no double-dipping roll down" policy that removes any Top 5 finisher from contention for Masters awards (otherwise Tony Torres, who placed 1st and 3rd with ~2:30 finish times would have also been the Masters winner the years I ran).
(Caitlin Smith and John Burton look AB-solutely fabulous)
(Penny MacPhail gets some love from Devon Yanko)
(Eric Lyman joins me at the start line)
(Mayor Jean Quan gets us rolling)
As I jogged up to the start, I found Devon Yanko
, Caitlin Smith
, and Penny MacPhail warming up and laughing together. They all looked incredibly fit and relaxed, and assured me this was not an "A" race for any of them. Devon and Caitlin were definitely capable of beating the 2:53 Women's course record, especially if they worked together, and I knew there were free tickets to Hawaii for winners (courtesy of sponsor Hawaiian Airlines
), so I wasn't so sure. We shall see! There were plenty of other familiar faces in the start corral as well - Ethan Veneklasen was running a relay leg, last years winner Chris Mocko had recovered "enough" from a glute injury to give it a shot, John Burton was fit and out for fun, and former 100k world champion Shinji Nakadai (who won the 2010 IAU 100k World Championships with a 6:43
...holy speedskates!) was in town as well. At 7:30am, the bikes lined up to lead us and we were off!
(Bike escorts were ready to roll...and had a challenging day!)
(And we're off!)
(Cutting through city center)
(Dashing by the Fox Theatre, photo courtesy of Brent Ward)
After a slight mix up with a cursing driver who refused to yield to the cops, we found ourselves on a new part of the course that cut through the city center, giving us a chance to loop back and see some of the other runners cross the starting line. There was a front pack of five at a 5:30 min/mile pace, and a second pack that included the top Women at a 6 min/mile pace, then the rest of us spreading out as we bid farewell to the famous Fox Theatre. I ran along with Ethan and a friend of his, catching up and thanking the early risers who came out to cheer us on.
(Plenty of runners in the front packs)
We cut through some cute neighborhoods and ran right town Telegraph Avenue, before climbing up to College Ave for a quick tour of a restaurant-rich section of town (mile 5). The locals were awesome, cheering us on with their coffee mugs in hand and clearly were ready to make cheering a big part of their day. At mile 6, the relay teams got fresh legs and the full marathoners tagged along to tear up the first of the big hills.
(Relay team Runner's Unchained on their way to a 2nd place finish, with Ethan keeping pace)
(College Ave all to ourselves!)
(Devon pulls away from second pack, throwing a San Anselmo gang sign in the process)
As we made our way through the quaint and charming enclaves of the Oakland hills, I had some deja vu moments as I saw the same people in the same chairs (using the same signs!) along the course. That's so cool they came out and made a day of it! Then again, it's not like they will be leaving their driveways anytime soon. ;-) There were plenty of waving palms from local church groups, ringing in Palm Sunday with cheer and smiles. I ran along with Luke Bell from Australia, who had traveled to the US for work and managed to fit this race into a jam-packed four day vacation in the Bay Area. Luke was definitely holding back his pace, but was all smiles taking in the sights, and getting to know every runner along the way.
(Luke Bell enjoys the early miles)
(We had the bike trails to ourselves)
(More great cheering locals!)
The climbs kept coming...and coming...and Luke pulled away as we passed through Montclair (mile 10). We saw the Mormon Temple and headed downhill in a "be careful what you wish for" plunge (mile 11). I caught up with local runner Ramon De La Rosa who was running his first marathon. First marathon?!? That is one helluva debut and he still looked good. We hit the halfway point in about 1:27 in full cruising gear, and I bid Ramon farewell and leaned into the downhill.
(There's the Mormon temple, and that means lots of downhill coming!)
(Ramon gets a boost from the relay teams)
By the time we hit Fruitvale (mile 15), it felt like they had cleared the roads for a five person fun run. Awwwkward! Many of the drivers were non-too-pleased, and the Oakland Police Dept had their hands full. Fruitvale already has a loud and eclectic flavor to it, so I'm sure it was all in days work for the OPD. I picked out a runner about a minute ahead and set my pace to get him, if anything just for some camaraderie.
(No, really....there are lots of people in this race!)
Scott Reisdorf from Livermore, CA, turned out to be perfect company. He has run every one of the Oakland Marathons, and was quite confident we were on a 2:55-ish finish pace. We talked about all the little course changes over the years, and how we found the changes thoughtful for variety and safety, but resulting in a more challenging course over time. We chuckled at the Gummy Bear Cadillac, back yet again, and found a new tempo to the beats of the DJ's along International Boulevard. After a couple of miles, I picked up the pace again to get it back to 6:20 min/mile pace, and Scott (ever the pacemaker!) sensed I was pushing him a bit hard and wished me the best.
(Go, go Gummy Bears!)
(Scott Reisdorf is cruising fast!)
As we turned towards Jack London Square (mile 18), the Oakland road rage had gone full f'ing ballistic. The streets were full of cars, and nobody was listening to jack (london?). It was great! They had shit to do, man, I get that. If you didn't get the memo about road closures, a city marathon can seriously mess up your day. So I just ran between the cars, waving back to the drivers that were giving me the middle finger, and knew this was likely the part of the race I would be telling other runners for years. Right? Couldn't be more different than the trails!
(Running through live intersections...the full Oakland experience!)
(These ladies were awesome and everywhere)
As we got into West Oakland (mile 19), I was alone on the road and the whole experience just got surreal. The same two amazing ladies with "Kick Assfault" signs were appearing everywhere and cheering at the top of their lungs, and I was beginning to suspect teleportation. Then a DJ was spinning some insane dubstep from a Road Warrior-inspired off road vehicle that was spitting fire to the beat. SPITTING FIRE TO THE BEAT. I shit you not, it was seriously cool. Just when I thought I had seen it all, five minutes later I was heading down an industrial backroad with a row of tents for the homeless who are just waking up and giving me confused looks and flagging me down for change. The amalgamate of Oakland defies your boundaries not to be stretched. And by the way, it's still 10k to the finish. Run, Forrest, Run!
(Still not sure what the hell this was...but it was awesome!)
(More fire! More warped steel! Welcome to West Oakland)
(Some of the cheaper housing of Oakland)
(Threat Level Orange tears it up)
(Now THESE are Raiders fans!)
As we approached Lake Merritt (mile 23), I passed Rogelio Antonio and Juan de Oliva from Reno, NV, two friends who were definitely looking at a sub-3 hour finish at the pace they were going. We cruised by Fairyland, where Christi and I had taken the girls the day before, and a number of welcome locals and their dogs who made room for us on the bike path. I caught Chris Mocko and Caitlin Twain, both taking walk internals so as not to amplify "issues" they were both having. Only those two could walk in a sub-3 hour finish time. ;-)
(Taking a walk break)
(More music! Photo courtesy of Brent Ward)
A couple of brilliant volunteers had bells and whistles to pull us along the right turns of the route, making it easy to navigate the crowds along the park (nice work, guys!)! I crossed the footbridge, and ran it in for a 2:53:45, feeling good enough for a beer and snacks. (all results
(Finish in sight!)
(Still smiling, with great volunteers)
(Oakland cheerleaders greet us at the finish, photo courtesy of Brent Ward)
At the awards ceremony, none of us had seen the times yet so we weren't sure of our places. All we knew was that Shinji Nakadai had won in 2:37:29, and Devon Yanko had beat the course record by minutes in winning the Women's race. I hung out with Penny MacPhail, most certainly the Women's Masters winner with her 3:16 finish, and we crossed our fingers for hearing our names for the ridiculously large Masters trophies. But in a confusing moment, the Masters winners were announced with times that were slower than ours. What? How can that be?!? We found out later that I was Top 5 Male - 6th overall, and since Devon had destroyed the Womens course record in 2:47:24, that made me #5 dude. Penny was the 4th Female, so both of us would be seeing checks but no trophies. The same rule that had garnered me a Masters trophy twice had now caught me in its web! That was worth a few rounds of humble laughter, I tell ya. But I remembered how it felt to get it when I wasn't really
the first Master, and knew that Berkeley's Daniel Kono would be thrilled to get hardware for his worthy 3:05 finish time.
(Shinji Nakadai celebrates his win, photo courtesy of Brent Ward)
I walked back to my car, race-provided Coors Light in hand, chuckling that I was in good company with the number of people with open containers near Chinatown. Everyone is welcome in Oakland's unapologetically strange and diverse culture, and we all celebrate it in our own way, whether that's running or chilling in the sun. It's that magnetic pull that keeps me coming back for more, which I will certainly be doing again.
When I hear "former college Steeplechase/Cross Country star is getting into ultras", my expectations are immediately off the charts. I think of Max King
(who just won Way Too Cool 50k in a mind-boggling 3:08), Sage Canaday
(USATF 100k Champion, who just won the Tarawera 100k), or Joe Gray
(just won the Caumsett 50k USATF Championships in 2:56). Now I can add one more to that list - Fillmore, Utah's Cody Moat,
who just won the USATF 50-Mile Trail Championship in course record fashion in his first ever ultra.
(Cody, just after winning the Spartan World Championship)
Cody Moat has been fast nearly all of his life. A high school Cross Country and Wrestling State Champion, he went on to Southern Utah University in the early 2000's to become a 4-time NCAA Div I conference champion in Cross Country, the indoor 5,000m, and outdoor 10,000m. After a 5-year hiatus from competitive running to have 4 (!) kids and begin his teaching and coaching career, Cody got back into competitive trail running through the Spartan obstacle racing series, and ended up winning the World Championship in two divisions and picking up a sponsorship from Team inov-8
. He handily won the USATF Trail Marathon Championships in 2012 with a course record, and debuted in the ultra scene at the Nueces 50-miler to win his first ultra, and his first USATF ultra title. With so much success right out of the gate, I was excited to exchange e-mails with Cody and see what he's up to.
1. First, congratulations on your win/course record at the Nueces 50-miler and your USATF Championship! I know you are familiar with trail running, but was that your first ultra? Any lessons learned to share?
Ya, that was my first official ultra marathon. I regularly do a 30-40 mile mt run on my own at 10,000 ft. every summer. I also won the Spartan Ultra Marathon which was only 27 miles but it took 7 hours because of the grueling obstacles. So in a way it’s not my first long run but technically its my first regular ultra marathon race. I learned that it’s a good idea to follow someone who knows what they are doing on your first Ultra. That’s what I did. I followed Jason Bryant for about 37 miles and then I knew I could make the distance and headed out after Paul Terranova. I also learned that it pays to have more experience coming into the aid stations. I was always the slowest of our leader pack coming out of each aid station.
(Cody sets a new course record at Nueces to win the USATF 50-Mile Championship)
2. How did you find your way from the track to obstacle racing, and then to trail and ultra running? Was it a natural progression?
Actually trail and ultra running came before obstacle racing. I spent several years running trails and mountains by myself because I love the outdoors. I lost a lot of good years that I should have been competing. I was running and was in great shape just not racing competitively. Then I got into trail racing and Obstacle racing at about the same time. I was burned out after college so I wouldn’t even run a 5 k for over 5 years. But now I’m back and wish I had never taken those 5 years off after college.
3. You have two boys and two girls, you are a full-time teacher, and a coach for wrestling and cross country. When in the world do you find time to train? What motivates you?
It’s so hard to find the time to train and do it all. Actually this year I’m the head track coach as well. The truth is I run every morning at 5:00 a.m. with a head lamp. Sometimes I’ll do workouts at practice. And if I feel like I need more, I train in the evening after everything else is done. I need to quit something. The upcoming races motivate me but even more than that is being able to run the Mountain trails on a Saturday that I have off. I’d rather do that than just about anything.
(How sweet is this picture?)
4. In you track days, what was your favorite event? Have you carried some of your track training into your off-road racing? What does a typical week of workouts look like for you?
In track, my favorite event was the 3,000 meter Steeplechase. I liked it because it broke the monotony of the laps. But I actually like Cross Country best of all. I like the hills and the change. I did okay in college but I always felt like they didn’t have my event. I knew my event was a trail run from 13-50 miles. I learned a lot from Coach Eric Houle at Southern Utah University. I still do many of the same workouts that I did in college I’ve just adapted them to my situation which is on trails or doing obstacles. I really couldn’t give you a mileage per week. It seems to change all the time. I have great weeks with high mileage and then I have weeks where I have to run in the pool because of aches and pains and injuries. I take it one day at a time. But if I had a choice of a perfect week, it would be all done at high elevation on a mountain trail. I would do my speed, my tempo runs, and my long runs all on a trail. Very seldom do I get a week like that though.
5. How about race day nutrition/hydration…what do you like to use and what is your strategy?
Sorry I’m so vague with this kind of stuff but every race varies a little. I always want to be hydrated and carbo-loaded but I don’t really have any particular method that I’m sold on. This is probably the area that I need the most work. For the Nueces trail race I used Gu and water when I was away from an aid station. At the aid stations I ate bananas, a piece of pbj sandwich, Pringles, and trail mix. I felt really strong the whole race, I never felt weak from a lack of calories like I have in other races or workouts. So whatever I did in Texas worked but there was no experience coming behind it.
When I run Marathons I usually don’t need much except for what they supply in aid stations but the 50 miler was a little different. So I guess I got lucky with my race day nutrition.
6. What is next on the race list/bucket list? Will we be seeing you at a 100-miler anytime soon?
As far as trail races I’m looking at the Speed Goat 50k, maybe Pikes Peak. Also later in the summer another USATF trail championship (I think it’s 50K but not sure). I have at least 8 spartan obstacle races planned. Also I’m considering running at the World Marathon Championships and the World 50 Mile Championships. All of that is up in the air right now because it seems like all the races I want to do are close together.
I do want to eventually do a 100 miler but probably not this year. I don’t know how I could fit it in.
Thanks, Cody! Have a great season and I hope to see you out there!
The annual Running USA Marathon report
is out for 2012, and at first glance, it appears that marathon participation was on the decline for the first time in over a decade. According to the study, the estimated number of U.S. marathon finishers declined from a record
518,000 in 2011 to 487,000 in 2012 (a 6% decrease), but like 2001, most
of the decline can be attributed to a unique situation; in 2001, it was
post-9/11 travel impacting fall marathons, and in 2012, the cancellation
of the ING New York City Marathon, the world's largest marathon with
more than 47,000 finishers or 9% of the 2011 overall finisher total.
If the sold-out NYC Marathon had been held, there is no doubt that the
2012 overall marathon finisher total would have exceeded the 2011 record
of 518,000. In addition, overall, there was a 1.6% increase in
finishers from the same 388 U.S. marathons for 2011 and 2012 (464,122
vs. 471,595); a slight percent increase (1%) from the same 367 marathons
in 2010 and 2011 (495,135 vs. 500,206).
Some other interesting stats from the study (be sure to read the full study
Gender and Age Group Breakdown
Masters (40 yrs+)
Open (20 to 39 yrs)
Juniors (under 20)
Median Age Overall
Median Times - U.S. Marathon Finishers
Year Estimated U.S. Marathon Finisher Total
Somebody slips and falls, and you bust out laughing because you can't help yourself. Cruel? Maybe, but it also turns out that a good fall has the essential ingredients for laughter, says Associate Professor Peter McGraw of the University of Colorado Boulder.
Peter and his colleague Caleb Warren work at the Humor Research Lab
(I know where I'm getting my PhD!) applying science to the world of humor. One theory of theirs, called the benign violation theory,
proposes that something is funny if three conditions are met. First,
ordinary life is somehow thrown off balance. Second, this violation is benign, meaning that no one gets hurt. Finally, these first two conditions must happen simultaneously. For example, a minor face plant on the trail is funny because it is (1) physically threatening AND (2) really quite harmless.
Another insight in their research is that "proximity is directly related to seriousness". If we see a stranger fall and break a finger, it's not funny, but if it's your best friend, it's hilarious. Similarly we wouldn't be able to laugh if a friend had a real-life tragedy, but when strangers do, it's all over YouTube and a candidate for the Darwin awards
.That explains a lot!
So the next time you witness a world-class digger and bust out laughing, just tell them it's not your fault...science made you do it. Then post it on YouTube for the rest of us. ;-)
Props to Christie Aschwanden
for the find!
And super kudos to Max King for his course record run at Way Too Cool 50k this weekend
(3:08!), Meghan Arboghast on her win (4:06, outkicking Rory Bosio), and Gary Gellin on the Masters win (3:36, 6th overall). You guys ripped it up!
I’m going to hurt myself today. No doubt about it.
I had to confess the high probability of a few face plants as my feet brushed the rocky trail for the first time, just a few
minutes before the start of the Nueces 50-Miler last Saturday. Even in the dark of the morning, the stark contrast of the rock-on-rock Texas hill country was ominous.
Yup, going to stick to the sheets tonight for sure.
I was in good company, however, as 100+ of us huddled in the
starter chute for this challenging 3-loop 50-miler in Camp Eagle, TX. Another 300 came along
for 50k/25k/10k options, and would start soon after. The genius of Camp Eagle’s “bring your own sheets”
policy was about to be revealed in all its scabby glory.
Race Director Joe Prusaitis and his merry band of Tejas Trails
volunteers were our hosts for this fourth
running of Nueces
(2nd as the USATF Trail 50-Mile Championships), so
there was no doubt it would be challenging, fun, and well-marked.
Many of the runners were from local Texas towns, still shaking out Bandera or
Rocky Raccoon just weeks earlier, and ready for more. Throw in some top
contenders such as Jason Bryant
(finished top 3 here the last two years), USATF Trail Marathon champion
, Austin star Paul Terranova (who just won a slot to Western States with his
3rd place finish at the Bandera 100k), course record holder Michele Yates
, Texas speedster Melanie Fryer, trail running power couple Brian and Amy Rusiecki, and more, it was
going to be a showdown!
As the gun went off at 6am, I found a couple of folks with bright
headlights to run next to (oops…I swear I packed a headlight) as we worked our way up the
first climb. Turns out it was Jason Crockett from San Antonio and fellow inov-8 teammate Amy Rusiecki
. Thanks, guys! We caught up and swapped stories, working our way
to the top through the tricky switchbacks at a casual but swift pace. Amy and I ran through the list of top contenders, suspecting that
the men’s race would likely come down to Jason Bryant (always a contender, and certainly for the Masters win now that he's 40),
Paul Terranova (the local star, still fresh after Bandera), Brian Rusiecki (familiar with rocky running from his
7 wins at Mountain Masochist, Bull Run Run, etc. in 2012) another Team inov-8 member Cody Moat (running his first ultra, but wicked fast as proven from his win at the USATF Trail Marathon championships). For the women, Littleton, CO's Michele Yates
was the favorite (just won Bandera, holds course record at Nueces), with Melanie Fryer, Pam Smith from Salem, OR,
and Amy all capable of fast times on technical courses. A fast crew all around!
As the sun peeked over the hill, I thanked my well-lit
friends and picked up the pace.
(Yup, that is actually a trail)
(The morning sun burns down the morning mist)
I was feeling fresh, enjoying the lightness of a stride that is eight pounds leaner thanks to training during funemployment
. The trails were technical for
about five miles, and then crested the hill and turned to bedrock-lined roads that were much more runnable.
I ran along with Californian-turned-Texan Willem Van Dam, who was pleased to be the young guy in the 50-54 age group this year, and he gave me some great tips on running these rocky trails - shorten that stride, stay upright, and never take your eyes off the trail. The hilltop view was amazing, with the expanse of Texas reaching to the horizon in every direction, and the cloudless sky warming quickly with the sunrise.
(Gorgeous sunrise...what a great day!)
I caught a few runners as we peeled off the hilltop and hit
some single track, and it didn’t take long to hear the first yelp of a fallen runner somewhere among the mesquite- and cactus-lined trails.
It sounded like a bad one, but quite honestly, none of us could figure out where she was. In the hill country, everything sounds nearby and looks impossibly far away. We let the volunteers know at the next aid station (mile 9.5), and they already had someone on the way!
(This trail goes on forever!)
(Heads down is the correct posture! Turns out it was this runner who fell, and she toughed it out for 22 more miles with what remained of her left knee)
The terrain was super fun on the next stretch, running along the stone river bed and crossing a footbridge that bucked harder than a bull if you didn't time your steps correctly. The variety of trails was delightful - technical climbs, weaving single track, dry flat creek beds, fire roads, and more. Most of the time it felt like I was the only one out there so I was thrilled to catch up to Eric Loffland from Athens, GA, and tackle the "fence climb" together before refueling at the Texas aid station (mile 14). One more descent, a few rock hops across the river, and one last crazy suspension bridge to finish lap #1!
(Rugged and beautiful)
(Single track was super fun!)
I completed the first 16.67-mile loop in 2:18, putting me roughly in 10th place. I knew I had lost a few minutes from the dark, but I was still a solid 10-15 minutes off the pace leaders. Paul Terranova had led through lap #1 with four others within range (Jason Bryant, David Brown, Cody Moat, Brian Rusiecki), and Michele Yates was out front for the women's race not too far off the men. Time to pick it up! Super volunteer Olga Varlamova
got me rolling quickly, and I charged up into the hills with Sydney Pitt from Austin, TX, and Houston's Olli Havvikko. We were still moving fast enough to run the uphills, so we traded off the lead over the next few miles and stayed on the hydration.
(Gravity feels good)
A javelina (or boar?) cut through the bushes a few yards away from me as I crested the hill, and scared the bejezus out of me. Those guys move fast! I reached for my camera to get a shot and instantly regretted taking my eyes off the trail, tumbling helplessly into the rocks. The stones were merciless as they dug into my elbows, wrist, fingers and shoulder, deep enough to bruise, and with little ability to "roll with it" and absorb the impact. I took a few moments to catch my breath and took inventory from the fall...not too bad, actually. I suspect every runner out here would have this much blood just as table stakes. Note to self - maybe no pictures on this section, javelina or not!
(So that's what a javelina is!)
(I loved this section where dead branches reached towards the 30 foot river wall)
I got through the next two aid stations easily (mile 21 and 26), pleased that my energy level was holding up nicely. There was plenty of company on this loop too as the 50k and 25k runners made their way through the course. One of them said I was in 8th place and that a couple of runners were less than a minute ahead, so I picked up the pace as we hit the dry river beds. It was warming up now, probably high 50's/low 60's, which mysteriously released butterflies all over the trails. Laughter was also plentiful as the kids at the Camp took to the zip lines, river swimming, fishing, and bouncing on the bridges. Wonderful!
(Running the river bed)
Just as I set into a fast tempo, I caught a toe and was airborne again, realizing I was about to fall right off one of the big steps in the river bed. Don't you love those moments when you are in the air, Wyle E Coyote style, tumbling in slow motion to your inevitable crash? I had just enough time to pick a spot NOT to land, and twisted my body hard to avoid the thorny cactus and crash into the best-of-two-evils sandstone. Ow. Once I got my breath back, I realized I once again had a lucky fall...little surface damage, but my back was jacked up and going into spasms. Crap. I knew I was only a few miles from the end of the second loop (mile 32), so I brushed myself off and walked/jogged it in to assess.
(Tackling the springy footbridge)
Olga was there to size me up, saying it was clear I was hurting, but happy to see I was smiling and still moving. Lap #2 came in a 2:27, so I hadn't lost much time, but given the intermittent back spasms that could steal my breath away in a moment, this was a different race now. It only seemed to lock up when I had to catch my balance (which is a lot on this course), but I felt like I could still run the flatter stuff at an easy pace. This day was so beautiful...a gift, really
...it would be a shame to stop. Success in ultras is often about how you overcome these mishaps, more so than finish place. So I popped some Aleve, let Olga know I was just going to hike it and get 'er done, and started walking the third loop.
Up front, Paul Terranova had come in first on the second lap, with Cody Banks, Jason Bryant, and Brian Rusiecki in hot pursuit. Jason had some swelling issues, but was still hanging with the leaders and toughing it out. I was stoked to hear that Cody was still in the mix - this was his first ultra! That guy is tough.
My ego took a few punches as a handful of folks passed me on my walk, all looking strong going into their third loop. Sydney Pitt was still running up hills, as was 54-year-old Charles Corfield from Boulder, CO, who was putting up a phenomenal pace so far (he runs 100 miles/week, it turns out). My head sank as Jorge Cardenas went by and I saw the M40-44 number on his back...a top Masters finish was certainly out of reach now. But I still had to focus on that finisher medal, so I kept at it.
The Aleve kicked in around mile 39, and I felt good enough to run an 8:30 min/mile pace along the flat and downhill sections. I kept coming close to Charles, amazed at his uphill pace even as both his arms were dripping blood from a fall on the first lap, but he would drop me at every climb. That dude is killing it! As we hit the last aid station (mile 47), he took one last look at me and exploded down the trail faster than a javelina. Well played, Charles, well played.
(A happy finisher brings it home)
I finished up in 8:03 for 16th place, and was surprised to find out I still got 3rd in my age group behind Jason Bryant and Jorge Cardenas. See? It pays to stick to it! I had just missed the Top 10 USATF by one slot, but didn't feel bad knowing that Charles had definitely earned it. Within minutes, I had a long neck beer in my hand, my feet were up, and we were cheering on the other runners.
(Code Moat brings home the win, photo courtesy of Running USA)
Cody Moat had broken away from the leaders in the last five miles to take the win and set a new course record, and Michele Yates squeezed a few more minutes out of her previous CR to score another win and get 4th overall. Jason Bryant braved through his swelling issues to take 3rd and set a new Masters CR, so he was pleased. Everyone said the race was challenging and fun, but you had to stick to your guns.
Top Results (all results
1. Cody Moat 6:26.03 Course Record
2. Paul Terranova 6:32.10
3. Jason Bryant 6:46.09 1st Master - Masters Course Record
4. Brian Ruseicki 6:55.22
5. Brandon Ostrander 7:08.46
1. Michele Yates 6:53.25 Course Record
2. Melanie Fryar 7:31.58
3. Pam Smith 7:39.19
4. Sydney Pitt 7:53.16
1st Female Master - Anabel Pearson 9:16.31
(RD Joe Prusaitis gets a hug from volunteer Olga)
(Well deserved beers at the finish...recognize the woman in the middle? She's the one who fell!)
(Great shwag and a couple of medals cap off the day)
Everything about this race was so new, so different, yet had all the pleasures we can expect from a well run ultra. It was quite an adventure! My soul was beaming. My thanks to Joe, Tejas Trails, and all the great volunteers for putting on a spectacular race. I highly recommend it!
(Running with camera, of course!)
I'm excited to be returning to Team inov-8
for 2013! This great brand has really stepped up their team this year, building an international roster that covers ultras, short course trail running, CrossFit, obstacle running, orienteering, triathlons, and even some road runners. Such an eclectic mix!
I am particularly excited they are "putting the band back together" by bringing back some of the old gang, while also pulling in some new talent. The line up includes stellar runners such as Way Too Cool champion Gary Gellin
, ultra animal Yassine Diboun
, world stage competitor Ben Nephew
, Gold medal mountain runner Amber Reece-Young
, Colorado alpinist Joe Grant
, 100-mile speedster Josh Katzman
film director and trail nut Alex Nichols
, current trail marathon national champion Cody Moat
, Pacific Northwest speedster Maria Dalzot
, the unstoppable DoubleJ Jim Johnson
, Masters superstar Mark Lundblad
, BGID (Beard Getting It Done) Peter Maksimow
, many more athletes I hope to meet soon, and a deep roster of international stars
I'm not sure if the new "#committed" campaign means "committed to win" or "needs to be committed to an institution". Given this team, either would apply. But I'm thrilled to be a part of these crazy band of warriors either way!
Also happy to be running for Team Inside Trail Racing
(awesome California trail races), Team Injinji
(socks that save your toes), and a proud ambassador of Vespa
(optimize your fat burning), First Endurance
(by far the best electrolytes on the market), and ZombieRunner
(store with the ultrarunning goodies). With all this help, I am seriously out of excuses. Time to get 'er done.
Digital artist Nick Criscuolo
has created an 8-bit video (think "old Nintendo") mini-biopic of running and coaching legend Alberto
Salazar. Great stuff, and I love the retro-digital-throw-back media.
Also, a quick note to set your DVR's for the Millrose Games, live on ESPN3 tomorrow @ 7pm EST, and again on ESPN on Sunday @ 8pm EST. The Millrose Games has a long history of record-setting at the wicked fast Armory indoor track
, and all the stars will be there.
Lastly, for those still hanging onto the Lance Armstrong/Oprah/confession meme, comedian Bill Burr has a nice summary:
Calling all shwag hags! The Phidippides Award
, presented by USA Track and Field
(USATF) and National Masters News
, is a gorgeous plaque given to Masters athletes who rack up lots of races in a single year. It's also, conveniently, free! If you're a USATF member, that is. But my guess is that most of the people reading this have been qualifying for years and probably didn't know this was available. Maybe another award is the last thing you need hogging up your "Me Wall", but for those who don't mind a little more bling-bling, this one ain't bad.
As you look at your calendar for 2013, be sure to download the Phidippides Award application
and fill in your races as you go. The points system is straight-forward, age-adjusted, and accommodates races from the 5k on up. Here's a quick glimpse of the scoring system:
5 km - 5 mile 1 point
10 km - 15 km 2 points
10 mile - 1/2 Marathon 3 points
25 km - Marathon 4 points
At the end of the year the following point totals will determine the level of award the runner is eligible to receive.
40-59 yrs. 60-79 yrs. 80+ yrs.
Gold Award 20 points 16 points 8 points
Silver Award 16 points 12 points 4 points
Bronze Award 12 points 8 points 2 points
Last year, about 340 runners picked up a Gold Award. Be sure to add your name to the list for 2013!
I finally had time to finish up one my favorite annual rituals - planning the race season on the new calendar for 2013 (see '06
). A cup of coffee, a lazy Sunday on the couch, and a list of 500+ races that need to fit into ~40 weekends. Well, maybe not all of them. But we can try! ;-)
For a few moments I like to peruse the list in its entirety and imagine the number of new friends, great pictures, and blog-worthy stories that await us in the miles to come. So much adventure! We choose to live IN this world instead of ON it, my friends, and that's what makes the ride worthwhile. Adventure is just a few entry fees away!
So, how to start? Reflecting on my 2012 season
, it was the variety and unexpectedness that kept the trail running fresh and inspiring. A few of those experiences affected me deeply, more so than I would have guessed, and reminiscing about them continues to make me smile and swoon as if I had just crossed the finish line. I love how memories like these become an embered hearth deep in my soul, warming my everyday smiles for friends, family, and co-workers. Best to double down on any race that can bring that kind of magic! It's also nice to have some races on the calendar where you expect to go fast, and others where you can just relax, be present, and take it all in. If it's all about racing and PR's, my assholism starts to spike, and then I have to attend those god-awful AA meetings ("Hello, I'm Scott, and I'm an asshole"..."Hi, Scott!").
I am longing to get back to the steep alpine back country of Europe and share more experiences with mountain people of other cultures. This time, however, I would like to actually SEE the mountains instead of slogging through a night of mud and rain (a la UTMB
) so perhaps a shorter distance and different time of year. There are still a solid 10 races on my bucket list (it never seems to get shorter!), so I would like to try and knock a few of those off too. Plus I find the more time I book for recovery, the better my season goes as a Masters athlete, and if I switch up the schedule with running, cycling, trails, and roads, the training never seems tedious.
So with that, I give you my 2013 season:
Crystal Springs Trail Marathon
, Woodside, CA, 1/5 - Pure fun right in my backyard. A good way to kick off 2013!
Fort Ord 50k
, Monterey, CA, 2/8 - When I see a brand new race pop up on the calendar, I'm always excited to check it out. Inside Trail Racing
added the Fort Ord 50k, the first ultra in the expanse of trails just behind the Laguna Seca race track, and promised to deliver hills, sand, and gorgeous views. And it indeed delivered
, Rocksprings, TX, 3/2 - The USATF 50-mile trail championship is at Nueces this year, deep in the Texas hill country. I have heard a lot of great things about the Tejas Trail races, and I haven't quite dialed the 50-mile distance, so what better than to target an "A" 50-mile race early in the season that can do both. Fort Ord 50k can be my test "B" race on the way.
, 4/15 - At my first Boston, I made a promise to myself to try and streak it 10 times. Why? I have no idea. I'm pretty sure beer was involved. But this historic race, flooded with eager first time runners who have earned their slots, never seems to get old for me. This will be #9!
Big Sur Marathon
, Carmel, CA, 4/28 - I can't seem to go more than 2 years without longing to run this gorgeous stretch of Hwy 1. The coastal town of Carmel is super kid- (and dog-) friendly, so we'll take the family down to celebrate my 44th birthday. I am signed up for the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge (fastest combined time of the two marathons), but likely will be cruising for fun. If I feel good, I'll throw in the Presidio 10-mile
in between to keep the tempo up.
, San Francisco, CA, 5/4 - The Lottery Gods granted me one race this year, and it's one of my favorites! The course is amazing, the race is always polished, and everyone seems to be in good shape as they prepare for the big races of summer. Every race I've had at Miwok has been crazy epic with all kinds of weather extremes. Let's do it again!
San Francisco Marathon
, 6/16 - My broken toe forced me to bow out last year, so I'm (hopefully) back to redeem in 2013. A fun race all around, and one that I feel us locals should frequent if anything just to remind us how lucky we are.
Mont Blanc Trail Marathon
, Chamonix, France, 6/30 - Back to Chamonix! Man, I love this place. This time I'm going to tackle a fast and steep race, the Mont Blanc Marathon. It will also be one of three races I will be doing in the Skyrunning World Series
, so I hope to get some points on the board. I also just love to tell people I'm on the "European circuit" this year. It sounds so bad ass!
, Markleeville, CA, 7/13 - Each year I take at least one century ride with my regular group of dudes, and this year it's back to the 5 peaks/16,000' feet of climbing in the Death Ride. This race continues to have the best shwag around, plus it's a good excuse to pick up the bike training for what is coming in September.
Pikes Peak Marathon
, CO, 8/18 - This one is on the bucket list, plus it turns out to be a Skyrunning Series race, the USATF Trail Marathon championship, and one that fellow teammate Gary Gellin is going to crush this year. I have a nice block of time prior to this date for race-specific training (like scaling cliffs while breathing through a straw), so I'm hoping to give it a solid effort. We'll see what running at 14,000' feels like!
, Zermatt, Switzerland, 8/24 - I'll head from Pikes Peak right to Zermatt for a Skyrunning trail marathon double-header. How crazy will that be? Crazy AWESOME, that is. When I asked trail runners in Chamonix where else to go for a unique mountain experience, Zermatt was most often the first race off their lips. I've got the frequent flyer miles, so let's do it.
Ironman Lake Tahoe
, Tahoe City, CA, 9/22 - After a bit of rest and transition, I'll be slowing it down for the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe. This one made my bucket list the second it was announced. A 2.4 mile swim at altitude, a 2x hill climb to 7,400 feet on the bike, and a marathon down the scenic Truckee River that ends at Squaw Valley for a party? Insanity! Gotta be a part of that.
, Henderson, NV, 11/9 - One last fast race to cap off the year, the Bootlegger 50k is the USATF 50K trail national championship and is set in the red hills of Nevada. I suspect this one will draw a great field (particularly given that the Race Director is Team Adidas Coach Ian Torrence), and there's always Vega$ for post-race celebrations. It rounds out my USATF national championship races to the 26m/50k/50m "middle distances", which sounds fun. DO IT.
As always, I will fit in other races/rides where the calendar permits, and will play it by ear as nature and my body allows. But this calendar is a full dance card, for sure. No 100-milers this year...after the Lottery Gods had ushered their will, there weren't any left that fit the social schedule, so we shall have to leave the hundy for another year. It can't stop me from volunteering!
I hope to see y'all out there. Let me know where you're going to be so we can get some pics!