Monday, August 24, 2009

Race to End Hunger 10K

On Saturday, I ran the first annual Race to End Hunger 5K/10K run--a new race in the Gold Country Grand Prix. I picked the 10K option to get some speed work in.

Troy, Robert and Callan Warner Before the Race

My training for the last month and a half had been focused on the Hotter than Hell 6 and 12-hour run; in other words, lots of slow and steady miles. Unfortunately, the day before the Hotter than Hell race, a massive forest fire broke out only about 6 miles from our house and we almost had to evacuate (talk about hotter than hell!).

Sid Heaton (middle) and Other Course Marshals Before the Race

Needless to say, I skipped the HTH race, allowing Jethro Smith and Matt Thau to come dangerously close in the overall points in that series. Congrats to both of them for clocking some serious miles in the 12-hour run and also to Lainie Callahan-Mattoon for winning the 6-hour race overall and setting a new CR in the process! Just don't get any ideas, Matt and Jethro, I'll be back for the next run ;-)

Ryan Ogliore and Jesse Bloom Cross the 10K Finish

I am happy to report that the fire is now contained, but unfortunately it left roughly 4000 acres burnt, including a lot of my favorite trails. The estimated price tag for the damage is 11 million dollars.

Larry Defeyter (4th Overall) Powers to the Finish Line

Back to the race. First of all, hats off to RD and local runner Ariel King Lovett and all the volunteers that made this race possible. You could not tell that this was a "first annual" race. From beginning to end, this race was incredibly well organized. There were great goodie bags, multiple aid stations, Taiko drummers (like the ones that line the climb up to Hurricane Point in the Big Sur Marathon), lots of volunteers on the course, and a fantastic finish line spread with gourmet coffee, pastries, and more. It certainly left me hungry for more and I hope the race will be back on the calendar next year.

Approaching the Finish

The course might have been a bit short (I measured 5.90 miles on my Forerunner), but there was no shortage of hills, starting right away with a steep 1.5-mile climb through Nevada City.

42 Flat

I think that it was on this first hill that the race went south for me; In trying to at least keep the fleet-footed front runners in sight, I went out too fast, covering the very hilly first mile in about 6:30. In the remaining 35 minutes, I could never quite recover from the deficit that I incurred in the first mile and a half. The damage was done and I just kept running as fast as I could and I finished in 6th place overall in exactly 42 minutes.

Neel (center) Took 3rd Place

Not a great time, but not too bad either, considering my primary training goals--I have about five weeks left to train and sharpen up before the Tahoe Triple and I am just a few pounds over my ideal race weight.

With Larry Defeyter (4th Place)

Larry and Neel ran a great race. Either one could have won the race on a good day, but we had two fast visitors from out of town--Ryan Ogliore and Jesse Bloom--that ran away from the local field.

Ryan Ogliore from Berkeley Wins the 10K Race

Ryan Ogliore had come up from Berkeley for the weekend to get married on Sunday. He won the race in 37:02--a great omen for the upcoming wedding. Congratulations, Ryan! Or, as some of my southern-Italian relatives would say, "Auguri e figli maschi." (Congratulations and may you have male children...)

Mike Buzbee (5th), Troy, and a (Fast) New Face on the Local Running Scene

Next Up
: The Lake of the Sky 50K--a final long training run before this year's Tahoe Super Triple.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Petzl Ultra Headlamp--Is It Worth $500?

The Petzl Ultra

Some of you might know that for a long time, I have been a big fan of the 85-Lumens Brunton L3 headlamp. I do a lot of night running and after trying out several headlamps for last year's Tahoe Rim Trail record attempt, I settled on this mega-headlamp as the lamp of choice to light up the trails in the dark. The only downside of the Brunton is that it is a bit heavy and that it does not come with a top head strap to distribute the weight more evenly.

In addition to the Brunton L3, I also wear a custom-made Brunton runner's belt with two bright Princeton Tec lamps. I find that the waist lamp gives you better depth perspective and the combination of these three lamps has kept me going smoothly on many night-runs. One additional advantage of running with multiple lights is that you have a backup plan in case one of your lights fails.

My Current Setup: Brunton Headlamp, Customized Runner's Belt, and Princeton Tec Quad Waistlamp

And then there was light.

I recently browsed the headlights section at REI recently and was shocked to find that there was a new, superbright 350-lumens headlamp--the Petzl Ultra. Initially, I was shocked by the fact that this new lamp packed so much more power than mine, but then I was shocked, again, by its equally stunning $500 price tag.

Mind you, this light monster was not on display with the regular headlamps (I found this information in REI's headlamp comparison brochure), but that's probably because REI still has to install a glass security case for this new breed of headlamp.

At first I thought the $500 price-tag must have been a typo, but some further research showed me that it wasn't. Sure, Amazon sells them for about $450, but still that is about $300 to $350 more that all the other high-powered headlamps on the market with the possible exception of the Silva Alpha 6, which does not seem to be available in the US. And then there are still some additional assecories, like spare batteries, a custom harnessm and more. Adding those can make the price rocket up to around $700. Wow.

Total Price: $445 + $49.95 + $125 + 49.95 = $669.90 (Add $64.95 for an Accu 4 Battery Pack).

So now the big question: is it worth it? Despite the outrageous price, I might still consider buying this headlamp if it was truly that much more powerful. The truth is that in night-running, more light translates directly to a faster time. Then again, 350 lumens vs. 85 sounds like a lot, but I don't know what that really works out to in reality and, unfortunately, I could not try the headlamp at REI.

Has anyone tried this headlamp? Please post a comment if you have or if you have tried out some other killer headlamps lately. Or simply let me know if you would consider buying this lamp if it would give you a significant edge in a night running race.

Petzl: I'd be more than happy to write up an elaborate ultrarunner gear review if you send me one to try out during the Tahoe 72-Mile Ultra, which starts at 10 p.m. this year (an additional two hours of night running)!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Who Needs Energy Gels?

Blackberries--(Photo by Ragesoss)

It's that time of the year again. Time to leave the energy gels and flavored sports drinks at home. These days, there are so many ripe blackberries to pick along my favorite local trails that it is hard not to stop and grab a handful.

Nutrition Stats for One Cup of Blackberries

Just make sure you bring some extra water so you can wash your hands after you're done picking and don't forget to watch your step in the blackberry bushes. The other day, I almost stepped on a rattlesnake while I was reaching for some tasty berries!

Here is the (remainder of a) blackberry pie that Vicky made the from the fresh berries we picked after a recent run. Yum!

The Starbucks Bear

You might expect an encounter with a bear like this one while turning a corner on one of the many rugged single-track trails in the Tahoe area, but, sadly, you're probably more likely to see one on your next coffee run.

As we parked at the Incline Village Starbucks recently, we saw this bear right behind the dumpster, looking for some leftover frappucinos (and bear claws?). Fortunately, nobody had left any trash around. Let's keep it that way.

Visit Tahoe Wild Bears for more information about keeping bears wild and alive.
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