Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Chesebro Half Marathon Race Report

 1,000 friends and I are off!

The weather was ideal for the race, 50's-60's with cloud cover.  I love how these shorter races I have run recently have a distinctly different 'race' feeling.  When running a 50 or 100 miler you can really let someone take off, and get way ahead of you.  No need to keep 'em in sight, you've got hours to reel them in - which is a fun, maybe more cerebral type of a race.  But in a race as short as 13 miles you really have to stay close if you want to be able to pass someone.  At the top of the climb that lead to the course's highest point, the races eventual winner, Scott Hambly, was a minute or so ahead of a group of four that I was in the middle of.  It's inspiring to chase someone 10 seconds in front of you, hear footsteps in your ears and see yet another runner 10 seconds behind him.  I like the way I have closed the final quarter of the race in most of my races.  I can't say that for my last two races - crumbling apart in CIM and Sean O'Brien was very frustrating.  As I pushed myself to keep the 2nd place runner from furthering his lead, and to keep the 2 runners behind me from catching me I thought to myself, "not this time."

When we reached the peak of the course and began our 5 mile rolling decent to the finish I knew it was time to make my move.  I passed the 2nd place runner in front of me only to watch him pass me back on each an every little incline for the next couple miles.  Once we hit the pavement and had two steep miles to go I passed him for the final time, knowing that I should pass with authority in attempt to squish any thought in his head about him being able to pass me again.  And it worked, barely.  I definitely picked the right shoes to wear.  The Rapa Nui Tarmac's are my lightest Hoka's and yet they still had plenty of cushion to run fast, pounding down steep road or hard dirt.  Excellent shoe for this mix of smooth trail and asphalt.

Me floating.

Elissa floating ( I love floating pictures).

Leading up to the race I was feeling fairly confident that I could run a 1:15 at this half.  I had been putting in some solid training since the Sean O'Brien 50 miler.  A lot of speedier stuff, hill repeats, etc.  I have recently started fine tuning my training by working with Sage Canady and Sandi Nypaver as coaches after checking out their VO2 max productions website.  I was feeling optimistic about the race.  A day before the race I woke up with a sore throat, but otherwise felt fine.  I kept denying that I was getting sick and ignored blatant symptoms that proved otherwise.  During my pre-race warm up I thought, hmm... I'm cold, clammy and light headed, but having a tiny cold wont really slow me down.

By mile 2 I felt tired.  I looked at my Garmin and realized I was running slower than I did during training runs earlier this week, even though I was pushing much harder now than I was then.  Darn.  For a split second I thought about scaling back a notch.  Why really push it if I can't run to my potential today?  Then I realized that I was only running 13 miles, and that I could still race for fun, and get some great training out of the day.  So I gave the race all I had and I would have regretted it if I hadn't.

This is the third race in a row that I've run and can't help but look back at my performance without a sense of frustration.  This is not to say that I didn't thoroughly enjoy each event.  Spending hours pushing myself to the limit, while feeling the love and support from friends and family, while supporting them as well is something that I cherish.  Last year I was more content with my running performances.  Part of me hopes that the rest of my races this year will be more fulfilling from a performance perspective, but I have realized that it is easier to dissect results I am less happy with than to critique a race where things went smoothly.  In other words, I am learning more from mistakes and misfortune.

While I ran MUCH slower  than I wanted to, a lot of things went well.  My hydration and nutrition plan worked well, I didn't have to frequent port-a-potties at all, and besides being sick, nothing was wrong with my body, i.e., strains, sprains, etc.  There are a lot of little things that have to happen to have a great race:  prudent training, smart eating the days leading to the race, being injury free, mental fortitude, not being sick, etc. etc.  We have a lot of control over much of that list but not all of it and there is a gigantic amount of ambiguity in each of those characteristics.

I was happy to pull off a 2nd place in 1:22 considering how I felt going into the race.  The post race festivities were great, as one might expect at the Great Race of Agoura.  Kids climbing a gigantic climbing wall, a band, hot pancakes off the grill, hanging out with friends like Keith and the Salingers - not bad way to spend a Saturday morning.

Alright, enough whining about the past.  Time to focus on the next race!


I love this race for a thousand reasons.  The technical trail, the crew of Arizonans that will be there, the beauty of the Mogollon Rim and the chance to run into Elk on the course (I had to stop to let three pass in front of me last year) are just a handful.  Naturally, since I love this course so much, I also love to train on similar type terrain.  I am stoked to abandon the asphalt and lose myself in some gnar.

Pictures of the course from ultraRUNNING website.

This year will be special too.  A huge group of friends from  SoCal will be showing up to party. After getting lost for a couple miles last year I'm eager to see what I'm capable of without getting that lost, but as anyone who has run the course knows, it's pretty easy to get turned around out there.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sean O'Brien 50 Mile Race Report

Photo by

Thanks Keira for another stellar event!  I love all your races, and since the Griffith Park 1/2 Marathon I've learned that your shorter distance races are just as much fun and will have to do more =)  Loved hanging out with tons of friends at the finish, eating good food and rehashing the race.

D-Bo, whoa.  Congratulations on your victory way to keep your SoCal streak alive.  Congrats to Cassie Scallon too for a stout W.

Predictions: I was spot on, predicting the male and female winners within minutes!  I'm going to start taking bets next race, house will get 10% cut...jk jk.

How'd my run go?  Felt like I paced myself well, might have pushed it a little too hard up the 2nd big climb coming up from Bonsall Aid Station.  Up to this point I ran a lot with my good friend Jesse Haynes, and then yo-yo'ed for miles with William Tarantino from Mammoth, watch out for this guy in the future.

Wolfpack Hustle
photo by Jayme Burtis

Approaching the top of the final big climb, I kept seeing Mike Wolfe a minute or too ahead and exerted myself to catch up with him.  It was an honor to meet Mike Wolfe, and I enjoyed chatting for a couple miles.  Good luck at Transgrancanaria next month Mike!  I felt great coming into Kanan Aid Station at mile 36 and got a little boost upon hearing that I was now in 4th place and a golden ticket for Western States had my name scrawled in pencil on it, I was only 5 minutes off my splits to finish in 6:40.

Photog. Erik Schulte "Fox"

A couple miles later the wheels started falling off.  The muscles in my legs just died.  I've never hiked so many gradual climbs in a 50 miler before.  Dom and Timmy Olson caught up to me just before the Corral Aid Station (6 miles from the finish), I briefly passed them as they filled up their bottles.

The way my race finished was very humbling.  Dom out raced me for the first time in our 7 races together.  He has stepped up his game big time.  He did not just got lucky this time, he has improved immensely and I'm looking forward to toeing the line with him again... but before that I'm sure we'll log a ton of training miles together.  He's a good friend and I'm excited to see that unicorn tear it up at other races this year.   It was also humbling to have Timmy Olson catch me, then meet up with his wife and father-in-law and cruise to the finish with them (which allowed me to pass), other wise I wouldn't have gotten 4th.  Upon getting caught by those two I was in a low spot physically and mentally so I told Dom, "just go, you can catch Wolfe and get on the podium, I'm not going to take the ticket to states," but in an act of generosity he cruised in to the finish with me, letting me cross a second in front of him.

Brothers don't shake hands.
Photo by Ivan Buzik

My shoes, The Hoka One One Rapa Nui's were awesome.  Best shoe's I've ever worn on the trail.  My feet felt great the whole race, better than they ever have after a 50 miler.  I'm looking forward to hitting the roads a bit as I recover with my Hoka Conquest's and start doing a lot more speed work for my wife and I's next race, the Cheseboro Half Marathon next month.

Thanks for covering the race Bryon Powell!  Nice getting to meet you and hang out a bit pre-race as well.

Thanks to Wolf Creek Brewery for sponsoring the race and giving us a 5 cent pint after the race.  Loved eating a delicious burger post race with a ton of friends there.

Congrats to Michael Ryan on a solid first 50 miler which qualifies you for AC!  Way to go Jim McClain & Jon Foley on your first 50k's!

I'd like to thank Rose for a couple amazing massages prior to the race.  She really helped me work out a couple kinks.  Anyone in the Pasadena interested in massages should hit me up for her contact info, she gives the best massages I've ever had.

My Garmin deets are here.

I'm sure some people think that it is kind of lame that I got my ticket the way I did, having a friend back off a little to let me finish in front of him.  I agree.  I much rather would have just gotten 4th place outright.  But should I pass up this opportunity?  I don't think I should.  The whole situation is unsettling, but interesting.  The best way for me to proceed from here is to train my ass off, have fun doing so and prove my worthiness by circling the Placer High School Track around 10pm on June 28th.

Speaking of training, time for me to head back to the mountains... here's a shot of my backyard training ground Echo Mountain, the former "White City," before it burned down:

If you've ever run up here you know how different it looks now, crazy hunh?  If I've learned one thing during my recent inhabitance here in SoCal it is that everything burns, it's just a matter of when.  The way the winter is looking so far, we better start doing some rain/snow dances (my micro-spikes are getting rusty).

Here's a cool video Billy Yang made of the race: