Saturday, May 31, 2008

Reno Runs Away With It at the Run for the Community

Photo from Last Year's Race Start -- My camera is (still) under repair at "Worst Buy" (Photo Courtesy of the Twin Cities Church)
Today, I joined over two hundred runners and walkers for the second running of the Run for the Community 5K/10K Run. It was, once again, an extremely well organized event. I won this event last year in 44:19 but this year Reno's Chris Badolato and Brandon Nied, who had come in second and first respectively in last year's 5K run, were running the 10K so I knew my "course record" was about to be disintegrated. Hey, at least I had my 15 minutes of fame, because the race poster had me listed as one of last year's winners.

I actually did not expect much coming in, because I had not run more than 10 miles since the Silver State 50-Miler two weeks ago. That's mainly because... I switched jobs! Yes, after more than eight years at Oracle, I joined Kaazing, a Mountain View-based startup specializing in technology that enables real-time web applications. I am really excited about this new job, but needless to say it's been a bit hectic just getting started and set up with everything.

I was not 100% sure if I would run this race, but then on Friday, I received my Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing Team team shirts and other gear (Thanks Scott!), so I felt inspired to put on my new shirt and "represent."

Before the race, Chris and I took a quick two-mile warmup run down the hill with Ryan from the Fleet Feet Racing Team in Sacramento. After that, we lined up at the start.

I decided to run the first mile a little slower this year and clocked it at six minutes (vs. 5:38 last year). I wanted to have enough gas left in the tank for the tough hills at the end of this race. I finished the first 2.75 miles in third place and I was feeling good.

The next mile was basically all downhill, so it was time to turn it up. I bombed down the hill at an even faster pace than last year (speeds up to 16 mph per the Garmin) and blasted past Chris and Brandon who were already on their way back up the hill. At the turnaround, I noticed that Robert Warner was not far behind me. In fact, he would have me looking over my shoulder for the rest of the race.

The steep hill was broken up by a nice one-mile stretch of trail parallel to an irrigation and the last part of the course went back up the hill and then flattened out for the last quarter mile on the road to the finish.

I came in third overall (still first among non-Reno residents) in 44:01 (yes, next year I'll have to break 44 minutes!) -- 18 seconds faster than last year and, given the circumstances, I was very happy with that. Robert Warner came in about 30 seconds behind me and Austin Violette and Ryan from Sacramento also finished not too far behind. Sean and Rocky had a birthday party to attend, so I was by myself.

Chris Badolato had won the race in an incredible 37 minutes and change, followed closely by Brandon (also in the 37-minute range). It looked like Chris and Brandon had already showered and eaten lunch by the time I rolled in ;-). Chris's young daughter was very happy to accept his ribbons and the winning trophy. In fact, it was a great day for the Badolatos, because Chris's wife took third in her age group in the 5K. Reno's Joe Parker won the 5K. Way to go!

Next Up: The Auburn 50K

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Heat Training at the Silver State 50 Mile Race

Photos courtesy of Collin Violette
Just a quick report to let you know I finished the Silver State 50-Miler. I have a very busy week coming up, so just a short report.

Austin Violette and Bill Finkbeiner Finish the Race

Originally I had hoped to run this race in about 9 hours, but when it became clear that it was going to be extremely hot (93 degrees), I adjusted my estimated time of arrival to about 10 hours.

Runners at the Start, Mount Peavine in the Background

I finished in 10:03, 10th place overall (4th in my AG) out of approximately 80 or 90 starters. Only about half of the starters actually finished the race. Eric Skaden came in first place, Sean Meissner came in third, and Tim Twietmeyer came in fourth place. Other finishers include Gretchen and Sigurd Asp (Tahoe Triple), it was great to see you guys again.

After leaving the prerace briefing, we all had some fear about the course markings, but other than a small third-of-a-mile detour at the very beginning of the race, everything was very well marked and easy to find. The volunteers were awesome and came running to mist the runners off with cool water. I ate lots of refreshing watermelon slices and soaked myself at every aid station.

Grass Valley's Donn Zea Brings it Home

I ran some parts of the last 11 miles with Auburn's Matt Lambert, which was a lot of fun. All in all, I was quite pleased with the result and, apart from a few bad patches, with how good I felt during and after the race. It was a very tough run, but I was able to keep a pretty good overall pace despite the heat.

Tim Twietmeyer (4th in 9:05) and Other Runners Relax After the Race

The course has more than 9,200 feet of ascent and more than 9,200 feet of descent. Most fun: the 5-mile downhill from mile 28 to mile 33, literally flying down the single track. Least fun: Turning around and going back up for a brutal, 6-mile stretch with over 3000' of elevation gain and running out of water with over a mile left to go to the next aid station.

Sweet Singletrack!

Congratulations to 16-year old Austin Violette, who finished his first 50-mile race in just over 12 hours. Way to go, Austin! Not sure if he could have picked a much harder course (elevation+altitude+heat).

Austin and I at the End of the Day, With the Race Course in the Background

Reno's Chris Badolato looked us up at the finish line and after the race he took us to the river to get the legs iced in cold water. Chris had traded places with Austin and me, and he had won the Animal Save 5K run in Grass Valley in 17:03 earlier that day (Great job).

Garmin Forerunner Details:

Friday, May 9, 2008

Racing the Salmon Run 11K

The Sierra Friends Center, Salmon Run 10K Race HQ

Today, I joined about a hundred+ runners and walkers to run the 9th annual Salmon Run 10K. The run is actually an 11K run and is definitely the toughest race in the Gold Country Grand Prix Series. Traditionally this run was held on Mother's Day, but this year it was, by popular demand, held the day before, which was certainly appreciated!
Some Grand Prix runners chose to sit this one out, because it has a reputation for causing injuries that can ruin the rest of the running season, but this is actually my favorite run of the series, because it is one of just a few local trail runs. The Salmon Run is sometimes referred to as the "ECO Challenge" of the Grand Prix. Take a look at the elevation profile and you'll understand:
Salmon Run Elevation Profile
There's only one way to do well in this race (I think) and that is to go super hard in the beginning to build up a good lead, hold on to the lead on the flat part, and then crawl back up the hill hoping the rest of the pack won't be able to pass you, because it is simply too tough to speed up on the final steep uphill section.
Knowing that Reno's Chris Badolato was running, this was going to be a fight for second place, unless something unexpected happened. My main goal was to break 50 minutes, and I wanted to at least break last year's 2nd place time of 50:42. I felt ready and even tapered by taking a day off (including a rolfing treatment at Rolfing in the Sierras in Nevada City).
Rocky had an earache and did not run, but Sean and Hayes were ready to go. I warmed up by running from the Sierra Friends Center to the race start (approximately a mile) with Chris, who told me that he had been feeling a little under the weather this past week. Either he was going to be extremely well tapered or I might find him somewhere on the side of the trail -- we would soon find out.
I had looked at last year's splits for the first 5 miles (5:15, 5:30, 10:02, 7:05, and7:05) and figured that the easiest place for shaving off time might be the downhill section a the beginning. My downhill running has greatly improved by all the recent hill training and I felt ready to go even harder than last year. Chris's plan was to shave off a few minutes on the flat part between mile 3 and 5.
The race started promptly at 9 a.m. without too much fanfare and I immediately tucked in behind Chris and after about a half mile of road, we took a right turn onto the steep 2+mile downhill section. We flew down the hill and the sound of the footsteps I heard right behind me was slowly becoming more and more faint. Miles 1 and 2 flew by in 5:01 and 5:13 -- on track for the sub-50 if I could run the same exact pace as last year on the rest of the trail.
The cliff-like steep part called the Salmon Ladder forced everyone to walk, but that only lasted for about a third of a mile. After that, a couple of miles of flat flume trail took us back on the rocky road that we descended in the beginning. Chris had been out of sight since the Salmon Ladder. I looked back a few times, but could not see anybody behind me. When I finally reached the top, it looked like sub-50 was in the bag. I crossed the finish line in 49:16, good for second overall.
Chris Badolato + Daughter After the Race

In the meantime, Chris had demolished the old (47+ minute) course record by running sub-44! The downside for him in setting course records left and right: you get stiff while you wait (ages) for your friends to show up for your cool-down run!

Austin After the Race

Austin Violette came in in exactly 50:00 (he'll need to shave off at least one second next year) and he was followed by Greg Ngo and V Neelakantan. Zach Stoll finished in 7th place.

Hayes came in third in his AG in 1:13, about 4 minutes faster than last year and Sean finished strong in 1:18 -- a whopping 15 minutes faster than his time last year.

Sean and Hayes Relax After the Race

The race was followed by a nice vegetarian curry lunch and they had some great awards. For example, I picked out a $100 gift certificate for a stay in Nevada City's Outside Inn, which will be a nice addition to tomorrow's Mother's Day gifts ;-)
Many thanks to the Sierra Friends Center and all the volunteers that made this race a success.
Next up: The Silver State 50-Miler next Saturday! Austin Violette is also running it and so is fellow Wasatch Speedgoat Mountain Racing team-mate Scott Mason. It should be a blast.
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