Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Great Day at the Spring Run 10K

Today, I joined a large group of local runners (not sure how many, but it was the largest group ever for this run) for the 22nd running of the Spring Run 5K and 10K. I won this race last year in 42:27 after a 41:40 Daffodil Run (Chris Badolato was running the 5K last year) and with Chris running the 10K this year and Larry Defeyter in the 5K, it was going be a fight for second or third place. The course was a lot hillier than the Daffodil Run, which was in my favor, because I have been running lots of hills recently.
Sean and Hayes Before the Start
On the other hand, I did not taper for this race (again) in an effort to keep running 10 miles a day for the entire month of April. (I did miss one day this last week though). There was going to be quite a bit of competition up front, with familiar faces like Greg Ngo, Austin Violette, V. Neelakantan, Troy Vahidi, and some other fast-looking contenders.
The Steep, Uphill Finish

The weather was fantastic and Chris, Larry, and I enjoyed an easy two-mile warmup run. Chris was aiming to go under 36 minutes on the course and Larry was ready to go hard for another 5K overall win. The race started with the ringing of the church bells. After a real steep downhill start (we had to climb back up that hill on the way back!), I settled into a steady pace, which took me to the first mile mark in 5:45 -- ten seconds faster than last year. Too fast? It felt comfortable, but I knew this course can really do you in on the way back if you go out too hard. Chris was already disappearing into the distance and I ran for a few miles with Greg and Austin. Both of them were looking fresh and strong. I knew V was not far behind us, so it looked like it might be a repeat of the Daffodil Run.

Sean, With One Mile To Go in the 10K
After the turnaround, which was slightly farther than last year's turnaround (but ultimately correct per my Garmin 205), Greg started pulling away. After another half mile, I pulled past Austin. By mile five I basically had third place locked up and I started speeding up to see if I could still catch Greg, but he was already out of sight. At the bottom of the last hill, I looked at my watch and noticed that I could match my time from Daffodil on this much hillier course, so I "sprinted" up the hill and arrived in third overall and third in my age group in (per my own watch -- the official times have not yet been posted) 41:42 -- almost a minute faster than last year and one second slower than Daffodil.

Zach Stoll Takes Second in His Age Group

Larry won the 5K easily and Chris had won the 10K within his goal time. I went for a cool-down run with Austin and Chris and we cheered on the other runners as they were heading for the finish. Hayes came in second in his age group and Sean took third. We hung around for the awards, had some coffee at the Broad Street Cafe (formerly Wisdom Cafe), and headed home. Many thanks to Mr. Boyer for organizing the race and to all the wonderful volunteers. We had a great time.

Chris Wins the 10K Overall

V. Bags Another Age Group Win

Chris With Joan Bumpus (Daffodil Run RD)

V and Steve Bond After the Race

Sean Takes Third in his Age Group (Hayes 2nd)

MotionBased Race Details:

Next Up: The Salmon Run 11K -- Time for some serious mountain running!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Windy Day at Ruth Anderson 50K/50M/100K

RD Extraordinaire, Rajeev

Today, I decided to help my friend Rajeev (the poetic runner), to ensure his first time as a race director for the Ruth Anderson 50K/50M/100K would be a success. Fellow ultrarunner, Hao, and I were assigned the timing the 50K finish line.
Fellow Volunteer, Hao, Ready to Time the Runners

Hao graciously offered to pick my up at the hotel where we were staying. We would help out at the race while my wife and the kids would go to the Malibu Grand Prix, which was located just down the road. We talked about upcoming races and, if his busy schedule allows it, Hao might come and pace me for a section of my TRT Speed Record Attempt in August.
Runners Circle the Course

We arrived early and as we drove up, we could already see many runners spread out over the course. I saw Alan Geraldi, Michael Kanning, Mark Tanaka, and many other familiar faces.
When we checked in with Rajeev, we found out it would be another hour and a half before the first 50K runners would finish, so I took the opportunity to run a lap on the course (4.5 miles) with Alan. It was great to catch up with him. We talked about Alan's upcoming races (Keys 100, Badwater, UTMB, and countless other tough ultras-- wow!)
Alan at the Aid Station
Later we caught up with Chihping and I met Steve Ansell in person for the first time. One thing was for sure: this was not going to be a fast day. The wind was howling around Lake Merced and on the back stretch, which also included some uphill running, strong gusts of wind would sometimes force runners to walk.
Lake Merced

After one lap, it was time to start the 50K timing. Jean Pommier came in first in a very fast 3:44. After that, we had to write down the time for everybody that either finished at 50K or continued to run additional laps in the 50K or longer distances. When someone finished the race, we would call in the official time to Stan Jensen who was keeping track of all the runners' laps at the finish line. At times it got pretty busy, so it was good that there were two of us.
Jean Pommier Wins the 50K
Steve Ansell, Looking Strong
Alan Finishes in 3rd Place (50K)
This Runner's Girlfriend Paces Him A Few Laps to a Successful 50K
After a while I started wondering why we had not yet seen my friend, Michael Kanning, who was going to shatter the 100K Jr. National Record. I called Rajeev and found out that he had dropped out. The 50K finish was located about a quarter of a mile away from the start area, which was unfortunate, because if I had been timing at the start area, I would have pushed him back out on the course! (just kidding!). We'll have to check his blog to see what happened, but I am sure he will be back later this year (Pony Express?) to rewrite the record books.

Mark Tanaka Floats By

As time went on, the wind would not let up and it started to take its toll on the runners. Many called it a day at 50K, but a few kept going. Mark Tanaka went on for the 100K and did a superb job, pacing himself. You could almost set your clock on it Every 37-38 minutes Mark would come gliding by, making it look easy.
At 1:30, another volunteer took over from us and Hao gave me a ride back to the hotel. After a quick bite to eat, we spent the afternoon in San Francisco, visiting SF MOMA and at night we went out for a nice dinner in honor of Vicky's birthday (tomorrow).

All in all, it was a great day and interesting to see the race from a different perspective for a change. Congratulations to Rajeev and all the other volunteers for all their hard work in putting this race together and congrats to all the runners who braved the stormy weather to run 50K or more.

Next up: The Spring Run 10K on April 26th.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team!

I'm very excited to announce that I'll now be running as part of the Wasatch Speed Goat Mountain Racing Team. This is a brand-new mountain/trail running team, founded and directed by Wasatch speedgoat Scott Mason and co-directed by Tim Barnes. The team not a shoe company or retailer, but a group of hard core trail runners from all over the country who really love the sport.

Kudos to Scott M. who was able to get sponsorship deals from Nathan, Nuun, Petzl, First Endurance, and I'm honored to be part of this team and will do my best to "represent."

Check out the site at:
(pictures of the speedgoats in their new team attire wil come soon)

Time to sharpen those hooves!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Daffodil Run 10K and a Field Trip

Start of the Daffodil Run 5 & 10K (Photo courtesy of Chris Bodelato)

On Sunday, I had the pleasure of running the Daffodil Run 10K in Penn Valley. Almost 500 runners showed up to kick off the Gold Country running season in this very well organized 5K/10K run and 5K walk. This event was the first in a series of 11 local runs that make up the Gold Country Grand Prix.

Sean and Hayes at the Start

I almost wasn't going to run this race, because I had signed up as a driver for a field trip for Rocky's (4th and 5th grade) class. The race started at 8:45. It would take about 45 minutes to run, and 45 minutes to drive back to Rocky's school. Since the caravan of cars was supposed to leave the school between 10 and 10:30, I figured I'd just barely make it, banking in part on the fact that these trips never leave precisely on time.

Rocky had to be at the school earlier, so he was sitting this one out, and with Sid Heaton out for this race, it looks like Sean and I are now the only two runners who have run every single race in the history of the Gold Country Grand Prix Series (This is the third year). This year, however, I will probably not be running all the races in the series, due to some schedule conflicts and my focus on the Tahoe Rim Trail thru-run. I feel that racing the short 5 and 10K runs ultimately came back to bite me last year at Tahoe Rim Trail 100 -- high speeds are not really required, instead it is time on the feet that is important.

My aim for April is to run at least 10 miles a day with approximately 2500' elevation gain and loss, so I did not taper for this race. Chris Bodelato, who is in phenomenal shape, was also running the 10K with an eye on breaking the course record, so I knew that a repeat of last year's performance would, at best, be good enough for second place. It would be interesting to see how I did compared to last year, when I went all out to win this race.

With Larry Defeyter and Chris Bodelato (The Eventual 5 and 10K winners)

Arriving at the race was like attending a small family reunion. It was great to see Joan Bumpus (RD) and all my running friends again after a long winter without any local races. I warmed up with Chris and Larry and I met Catherine who had just finished American River 50 Miler the day before, qualifying for Western States.

Catherine, Looking to Change this Bib for A WS100 F1 Bib Next Year

The race started off fast with lots of small kids blasting off up front. I settled into an easy pace right away and made it to the 5K turnaround point in about 5th place, running together with Kevin Baker. Before I hit the 5K turnaround, I cheered on Larry Defeyter, who was heading back already in third or fourth place. He cleverly paced himself and ended up outpacing all of the other runners in front of him to clinch the overall 5K win (his first overall win at Daffodil).

Ahead of me were Chris Bodelato (already out of sight), Austin Violette, who ran down the road as effortlessly as Anton Krupicka (the winner of AR50). V Neelankantan, and Greg Ngo. I reached the turnaround in 21:30 and had a lot of energy left. I kicked up the tempo a little bit and after I crested the last hill, I started running even faster down the long downhill (See race details and elevation profile here). I started closing the gap between Greg, V, and myself, but they were still moving fast and I would have needed another mile or so to catch them.

Chris Bodelato Blows Away the Course Record

I finished four seconds behind Greg in 41:41; a full second slower than last year, but with about 85% of the perceived effort (although I think it was a bit windier last year). That was good for 5th overall and 3rd in my age group. Chris Bodelato smashed the course record, winning the race almost a mile ahead of the rest of the pack in first in 34:50, and Austin ran a great race, coming in second place. Sean and Hayes ran the 5K. Hayes finished in 25:34 and Sean met his sub-30 goal for this first race in the season by running 29:42. I said goodbye to some of the other runners (see you at the Spring Run in three weeks) and jumped in my car to race to Rocky's school for the field trip.

For the field trip we went to Point Reyes and Fort Ross. We stayed at a hostel the first night and had a great time there. Just before we got to the hostel, there was a traffic sign that read 17% grade, so of course I went out there to run that the next morning before the kids woke up. There are some great trails all around the Point Reyes area.

Fort Ross was a blast (literally -- we got to fire an old canon). This is a living history field trip in which the kids dress up as characters from the Russian America Company that lived at Fort Ross from 1812 to 1841. They came to hunt the sea otters and unfortunately they almost made these beautiful animals extinct. We were divided into groups of artisans, hunters (Rocky), militia (me), and cooks.

Historic Fort Ross

The militia got to do lots of marching practice, which brought back some memories from my army days, and we stayed overnight in the fort with the different groups taking turns for the night watch. We also made a campfire and cooked in old cast iron pots. After the camp closed for the public, we had the fort to ourselves and we stayed overnight in the blockhouses and other buildings.

Rocky Guards the Fort with an Original (Unloaded) "1812 Charleville Smoothbore Flintlock Muzzleloading" Musket

At the very end of our stay at Fort Ross, we were allowed the fire one of the 13 original canons, which was the highlight of the trip, at least for the militia. Rocky made a movie of it:

Fire in the Hole! (Movie by Rocky)

Next Up: Volunteering at the Ruth Anderson 50K/100K on April 19th, helping my friend, Rajeev, who is the Race Director.

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