Friday, November 28, 2008

Mission Accomplished!

Yesterday, on Thanksgiving Day, I joined hundreds of people for the 3rd annual Michael Bratton II Turkey Trot in Nevada City. My goal was to run my first-ever sub-40 10K (see previous post). With 1300' elevation gain as well as loss (per the Garmin, which may be a little on the high side) the course was far from a PR course. In previous years it had been a bit short, but this year they added extra out-and-back sections to make it a full 10K. (Fortunately, because I did not want to go all out only to realize I had run a sub-40 six-miler!)

This was the last race in the Gold Country Grand Prix series. I was in fourth place in the 30-39 AG, four points behind Mark Epperly. Since this was the biggest race in the entire Grand Prix (last year, there were over 1000 participants), I could still get enough points to sneak into third place, because only the first 5 finishers get extra points.

On top of the elevation gain, there were two more things to deal with, which would make this a tough course to PR on. A good portion of the race was run on single-track and double-track trails and it had rained the day before. It wasn't too slippery, but there were lots of wet leaves on the course.

Also, the 10K follows the 5K course and then makes an extra loop and finishes by joining the 5K course again. By the time the 10K joins the 5K course again there are tons of walkers that you have to zig-zag your way through. Some of them oblivious to the fact there is a race going on. On the single-track this can really slow you down.

Troy Finishes 3rd Overall, 4 Seconds Ahead of Zach Stoll

I went for a good, two-mile warmup. Not sure why, but my legs did not feel too springy and I started to get worried about breaking the magic 40-minute mark. I told myself that that's exactly why I was warming up and decided not to waste time worrying about it. Trust the training!

Zach Stoll Finishes Fourth Overall

The start was fast and furious. Everyone tried to get in a good position to avoid the single-track traffic jam and I settled in in about 10th place, right behind Larry Defeyer. Brandon Nied, Andrew Primrose, and Chris (last year's top-3 overall in the 5K) charged up the hills ahead. Chris was running the 5K today, because he was slowed down by a hip problem recently.

10K Winner Andrew Primrose (Left)

At the 5 and 10K split, most people ahead of me turned left onto the track to finish the 5K. As it turned out, Andrew Primrose was running the 10K, but by the time I hit the split, he was already out of sight, so I was not sure if I was in first or second place overall. I decided not to waste any time asking the course volunteers--just keep running!

Neel and Daffodil Run RD Joan Bumpus at the Finish

On several of the out-and-back sections, I could see I had a fairly comfortable lead on Zach and Troy, so I just kept pushing forward, trying to speed up on the flats and the downhills. On the final downhill, while zig-zagging through the walking crowd at high speed, In my quest to "shave" a few more seconds off the downhill time, I almost ran over my hairdresser, Julie from the Mane Event hair salon and rolfing magician Kona from Rolfing in the Sierras--not a great idea to take out those key members of the race support team!

Larry Defeyter , Me, and Some Crazy-Looking Guy Who Won This Year's Grand Prix's 30-39 AG

I hit the final uphill that leads to the track at 38:51. The race finishes with a about 200 meters on the track and I felt I had the sub-40 locked up, but just kept running as fast as I could. I finished in 39:51, second overall and first in my AG--mission accomplished!

Robert and Callan Warner after Callan's first 10K--great job!

We hung out at the finish for a while. Unlike the previous Grand Prix run, awards were handed to all top-three age group winners and I even received a delicious pumpkin pie for finishing in the top-three overall!

Chris, trying to keep Hannah off the Football Field

The results are not in yet, but with an extra 10 points and Chris and Larry finishing first and second in the 30-39 AG respectively, I think I have 3rd place in the GP locked up as well (Thanks guys!). Chris won the Gold Country Grand Prix 30-39 AG and Larry finished second. I believe Chris came in second overall in the Grand Prix (congrats, Chris!)

Troy Takes Home Some Hardware

Thanks to all the volunteers for making this such a succesful run in only the third annual running. It was a nice season finale. It would be interesting to see what the 39:51 would translate to on a fast and flat course, but I don't want to go too far out of my way to try it, so I think I'll wait for the (local) Daffodil Run next year to try it again.

Troy and I Enjoy a Well-Deserved Snack and "Hemp-Milk Latte" at the Broad Street Cafe

Next up: Well, that's basically it for this year in terms of racing. I am going to Europe for work next week and if there is a fun run somewhere I'll run it, but the next race goal is a sub-3 hour marathon in Redding on January 18th. I'll write another post about my other 2009 plans soon, but a fast Jed Smith 50M (you better get out of bed to start training, Michael Kanning!), a sub-19 hour Super Triple (Yes, Jon, you read that correctly!) and a very interesting mega-ultra are on the list, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sub-40 or Bust!

This Thursday, I'll be making another attempt at a sub-40 10K at the Michael Bratton II Turkey Trot 5 and 10K in Nevada City. Last year, I ran a 41:51 (9th overall) on this course , which has quite a few ups and downs in it.

Turkey Trot Elevation Profile

I have tried to break the sub-40 mark a few times over the past years, and I think I would have made it on various occasions if I had picked a flatter course. The problem around here is that there are hills everywhere. This time, however, I feel like I am ready for it despite the terrain.

I surprised myself at the Run through the Colors recently by running a 40:01 and I have been running Yasso-800 workouts weekly to improve my leg turnover for my upcoming sub-3 marathon attempt (planning on going for it at the Redding Marathon in January).

The speedwork is going really well. I started with four 800 meter repeats and have now built up to 10 of these speed workouts at about 2:46 average pace on the track and 2:58 on a flat trail close to my place. I have been adding one to two repeats every week and it has amazed me to see that an effort that feels almost seems impossible one week feels quite easy the next week. I tried to talk Michael into joining me at the Homewood track last week while I was in the Bay Area, but he opted to stay in bed instead--well, you snooze, you lose!

As far as the Grand Prix points go, we'll just have to see how it pans out, but I am still hopeful that a good place in the 10K will allow me to edge my way into the top-3 behind Chris and Larry in the 30-39 age group. I don't think I'll have a much better shot at GP points if I run the 5K, so trying to break the elusive 40-minute mark this year will be much more fun.

Interestingly, Turi will be shooting for his sub-45 10K on Thursday, so wish us luck!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Rain, Mud, and Elevation at the Monster Trail Run 10K

2960' of elevation gain and 2960' elevation loss in just 10 kilometers! That's what my Garmin Forerunner registered for the Monster Trail 10K Run last Saturday (Note: The Garmin readings tend to be on the high side). To top it off, torrential rain had turned the course into a giant mud-slide, making for some very treacherous descents and slow uphill running. Fun, but not fast!

Despite the rain, there were lots of die-hard Gold Country Grand Prix runners at the start. I decided to run the 10K, knowing that this would probably hurt my chances of getting a higher Age Group place (currently in fourth place, 3 points behind third) in the Grand Prix with just two races to go. Bottom line: I did not really intend to go for points in the GP this year, so why start now? It was better to run the maximum distance and enjoy the trails.

I knew Chris was running the 10K and Larry Defeyter was running the 5K, so an overall win was unlikely. Fortunately, the race flyer promised awards for the top three overall so I was pretty sure I would be able to go home with some hardware. Or would I...

Chris and I went for a two-mile warmup, which gave us a frightening sneak peek of the course's first major downhill. Some parts were like a sheer cliff, made of mud. You had to grab trees to slow down or risk an epic wipe-out.

So, when the race started, I took the lead so I would be one of the first to go down the steep section of the slick trail (at least on the first of the two 5K loops). Once we arrived on a flatter part of the trail, Chris, Larry, and Zach passed me and I maintained 4th place for the rest of the otherwise uneventful run. I felt good most of the way and pushed it to the finish line to break 48 minutes, arriving in 47:54.

As usual, Chris won the 10K, despite having a back-ache (Check out his blog post with the race pictures here). the up-and-coming national class runner, Zach Stoll, who ran an incredibly good race took second (did I mention he is only 13?), and I came in third overall. Larry won the 5K easily. A quick dip in the nearby lake helped get all the mud of our clothes.

Chris and I Wash Off in the Lake After the Race (Photo courtesy of Abby Badolato)

Many thanks to the awesome volunteers that braved the storm to show us where to go. As for the awards, I received my age group ribbon, but I was surprised to find out that they were only giving awards to first overall male and female for each distance (not the top-3, as promised)!

When I raised the fact that the flyer, which I had unfortunately handed in when I registered, had said top-3, I was told that I was wrong and had misread it. Well, I went home and looked it up again and here is the exact text:

Awards for top 3 overall, age
groups, and additional prizes. Event shirts included if pre-registration received by 10/7/08; other registrants will receive shirts while supplies last.
Note the serial comma after "overall." So, you tell me. who is right...
Now, I don't do this for the hardware, but it's a matter of principal; you have to live up to your promises. I e-mailed the RD, so I hope this will be resolved somehow (Now a week later, I still have not heard back yet, but I'll post a comment if I do).

Motionbased Details:

Next up: I am skipping UltraCentric 24Hr in Texas this year. If you add up all the travel costs, it's just too much money for yet another weekend away.
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