Sunday, April 29, 2012

Confessions of a Stravaddict (or how I briefly learned to live with perceived feel)

Hi my name is Richard and I'm a Strava addict.  Yesterday my computer crashed while transferring Garmin data and I lost my ride.  Everything was gone in a flash - heart rate, duration, elevation, GPS - all of it!  I'd just ridden a hard effort up Rt. 9 from Saratoga to Skyline and hoped to put down a baseline against which future rides could be compared.  Now it was gone and I felt like the ride never happened.  How on earth did I manage to get to this point of data addiction?  More importantly, could I pull myself back from the brink and live with a few Garmin-free workouts?  (photo evidence of my supposed ride below).

I wasn't always like this.  In fact, I went many, many years training without a heart rate monitor, GPS tracking or even a training log - but first, a little history.  My first taste of training with technology came in 1986 when I got a Polar Quantum XL while still a young aspiring cross country ski racer.  Used in conjunction with a training log and heart rate zones calculated with the Karvonen method, this device logged many miles of skiing, running, cycling and roller-skiing.  

Sprint racing in Kiruna, Sweden (1995)

For the next 12 years a succession of Polar heart rate monitors saw me through NCAA division 1 college ski racing, the World University Games and US Olympic Trials in 1992, 1994 and 1998.  My routine was highly structured - coaches, training plans, training logs, heart rate zones, resting heart rate logs, Max VO2 testing, blood lactate measurements - all recorded, analyzed and fed into the next training cycle.  When I retired from ski racing in 1998 I still had athletic ambitions (in running) but was eager to shed coaches, training logs and especially the infernal heart rate, I needed a job.

Me (105) getting smoked by 1995 World Champion Vladimir Smirnov (103)

For the next dozen years I trained almost exclusively by perceived feel and ran whatever type of workout I felt like doing upon waking up in the morning.  Admittedly, the years of structure had trained my body to know approximately what heart rate I was generating during a given workout.  However, when the workout ended the feedback loop was severed and there was no data to analyze, obsess over or use to plan my next move.  It was a relaxed and opportunistic approach to training and racing......and I enjoyed it.

This changed a year ago when I discovered Strava and the addictive qualities of "social fitness".  I first dabbled with Strava's iOS app but my data obsession didn't fully gestate until I got a Garmin.  The Garmin was a big step up from the mobile app; it delivered accurate locations, ran for 6 hours on one charge and more importantly, it never failed to deliver the data to Strava.  For the past 4 months I've been main-lining accumulated mileage, leader boards, KOM's, total elevation, heart rate distribution, comments and kudos.

All this came crashing down with yesterday's missing ride.  So distracted by this loss I forgot to bring the Garmin to my afternoon 6 mile run and had to run naked AGAIN.  Was this a sign from the lobster god, a blessing in disguise, an opportunity for personal growth and reflection or just a cruel twist of happenstance?  Whatever the cause, the resulting Garmin-free run was refreshing - a nice change from the same-old, same-old and by the end of the day I'd made it through all 5 stages of grief intact.

Back to my normal Garmin connected self, today I ran 7 miles (see below) up at Sanborn Skyline County Park outside Saratoga, CA.  With elevations up to 3200' this might be a good "high" elevation training site for the upcoming USA 1/2 Marathon Trail Championships in Bend, OR.  I'll have to record a few more runs up there and analyze the heart rate vs. elevation data.  Maybe someone will even give me a kudo.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Uphill Awesomeness & Dynamic Weather

Ok that was fun and tiring.  I ran 13 miles including a 4.4 mile, 2200' ascent tempo run up Sanborn Road / Trail.  In my quest to prepare for the USA Mountain Running Championships / Mt. Washington Road Race this June I've been seeking out long continuous, steep climbs for training.  Mt. Washington is 7.6 miles and climbs 4200' on the auto road.  There is nothing exactly like that in the Bay Area but there are a number of shorter road / trail climbs with a similar profile.

Prior to today the best profile matches I've found have been Black Mountain from Moody Rd (5 miles trail, 2400') and Montebello Rd from Stevens Creek Reservoir (5 miles road, 2000').  Today's ascent would be a bit different as the middle third of the route would be steep trail - much steeper and technical than anything on Mt. Washington.  Regardless, it would be a fun challenge to have to change up tempo throughout the climb.

I started the climb at the intersection of Rt. 9 (West of Saratoga) and Sanborn Rd - about 800' above sea level.  Expecting cool temps at the top I wore a Salomon EXO top, hat and gloves but feared I'd over-dressed as I started up the first mile in the sun.

The first 1.5 miles is paved; first on Sanborn Rd and then into the park up the camping area access road.  After 850 vertical feet the pavement ends and the path briefly becomes a jeep trail before turning into a proper single-track.  It was about this point where I noticed that temps had dropped and a light drizzle was coming down.  Good thing I kept the gloves.

The next 2 miles were constantly changing in steepness as the trail wound up a ridge-line.  In a few places the trail was flat but never consistent enough to get into a rhythm.  Soon I reached the Skyline Ridge Trail and knew I was close to the high point.  What i didn't know exactly (cause I hadn't looked at the map) was which way to turn on Skyline Drive to get to the 3200' high point.  As I hopped up Biddles Stairway and onto Skyline Drive which way to go became obvious.  Left = downhill and right = I turned right.

At this point I didn't know exactly how far it was to the high point.  I knew what it looked like having been there last Fall with Dave Dunham to grab the Santa Clara County high point.  Finally, after a half mile on the road I could see it through the mist and rain - the road leveled off and passed through a deep cut.  My Garmin read 4.4 miles in 43 minutes and I was soaked.  Below is a view West from Skyline Drive - after it stopped raining.

Now for the boring part of the run - getting back to the car.  Since I'm a big non-believer in back-tracking I eliminated retracing my route as an option.  This left two options - loop South or loop North. Since I'd run the South route once before I opted for the longer North route which descends Rt. 9 - a road I've biked down many times.  Unfortunately what takes 15 minutes on a bike was going to take over an hour on foot.  No matter; I slammed a couple FRS chews, water and off we go.

Lucky for me it got drier, warmer and less misty the further down Rt. 9 I went.  By the time I reached Redwood Gulch Rd the sun was in full effect (pictured above) - nice!  After 13 total miles and 1 hour and 50 minutes I made it back to the car.  Looking at my heart rate data it was right in the zone 3/4 target.  Hard but not eyes roll up in the back of your head hard.  Mission Accomplished!

Beer me.

A face full of bugs & the rain returns

Oye, I'm tired.  It's been a productive but tiring last few days of training here in bucolic Silicon Valley.  On Monday - the day after racing the Zippy 5k - I trained just once, hitting the roads for an easy flat 8 mile run on the Stevens Creek Trail.  "Easy" being 7:40 pace and a heart rate kept entirely in zone 2 (113 - 141).

Tuesday was track day so I started with an easy 6 mile run on the roads.  Once again, 7:40ish pace at zone 2.  In the evening I met NB Excelsior teammate Dan Rhodes at the Graham Middle School in Mountain View for a track workout.  Like me, Dan is also over 40 and looking to recapture speeds of yesteryear and we were both happy to have company while running in circles.  On the menu was 8x 400 meters at 75 seconds with 200 meters of easy jogging in between.  After the first 4 intervals we took a 400 meter rest.  Again, not a super-intense track workout; we both just wanted to get some speed in the bank.  With warm-up and warm-down I ended up with 7.5 miles.

Yesterday (Wednesday) I planned two workouts.  In the morning I ran a flat 9 miles of the road at mostly sub 7 minute pace picking up face fulls of bugs near the Bay Trail.  Surprisingly this also kept me in zone 2 (113-141) but clearly at the upper end of the range.  That does get me thinking that Strava's zone calculator could use some tweaking (or I'm just not training correctly).  It feels like I never train in zone 1 which calls for a heart rate under 113.  I know I'm old (41) and my max of 175 is a far cry from the 200+ of 20 years ago but still, sub 113 doesn't even feel like training.  Maybe it's tailored for a non-fully weight bearing sport like cycling where there can be more low aerobic loads (downhills, drafting, etc).

The weather forecast called for rain yesterday afternoon and the skys looked ominous but I went ahead with a road bike ride without a rain jacket because it was pretty warm.  The plan was for 40+ miles of mostly easy rolling to flat terrain.  Mountain View (clouds) to Cupertino (clouds) to Saratoga (clouds) to Monte Sereno (first spits of rain) to Los Gatos (no rain!) to San Jose (clouds) to Santa Clara (light spits of rain) to Sunnyvale and oh shit it's really raining now!

All was soggy but swell until I got to Moffett Field and found Manila Dr was closed.  Great; it's pouring rain, rush hour and now I've got to brave busy roads and highway interchanges to get home.

Could be worse - at least it wasn't dark, cold and windy.  The ride took me on a nice big 42 mile loop around the South Bay in about 2:45.  Total training time for the day - 4 hours.  That night I cleared the contents of the refrigerator and made a deposit in my belly while trying to stay awake in front of the television.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

US announces squad for the NACAC Mountain Running Championships

Nancy Hobbs and I just completed the following press release announcing which US athletes will be competing in the North American, Central American & Caribbean (NACAC) Mountain Running Championships on July 21 outside Vancouver, BC.  Nancy will be attending the event as a representative of the World Mountain Running Association.  I will be travelling with the athletes as team leader for the US Mountain Running Team.  My friend Adrian Lambert from the Canadian Mountain Running Team is helping to organize the event.  Details of the race, which is also open to the public, can be found at   

U.S. Team Announced for the NACAC Mountain Running Championships

The 2012 NACAC Mountain Championships will take place at Cypress Mountain, just north of Vancouver, BC, Canada, on Saturday, July 21, 2012.  This is the ninth consecutive year that the NACAC Mountain Championship have been held, with the event rotating being the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. This is the third time for Canada to serve as host, having been the venue for the championships in 2007 & 2010 (Canmore, Alberta).

Cypress Mountain Ski Area was one of the venues at the 2010 Vancouver/Whistler Olympics. The proposed course is an all-uphill course that will be approximately 10k in length with approximately 1000 meters of climbing.

This uphill-only NACAC Mountain Championship follows the pattern of the World Mountain Running Championships with odd-numbered years being up and down races and even-numbered years being uphill races.

Meet the team members:


Maria Dalzot, 24, Morgantown, WV, (pictured below) is the defending NACAC Mountain Running Champions. She was a member of the 2007 Junior U.S. Mountain Running Team (USMRT) that took the silver medal at Worlds in Switzerland.  Dalzot competed for the West Virginia University Cross Country team that won the Big East Championships in 2007 and placed top ten at NCAA Cross Country Nationals.  She is currently a graduate student at West Virginia University.  More recently, Dalzot won the 2011 NACAC Mountain Running Championships in Ajijic, Mexico and finished second in the 2011 USA 10km Trail Running Championships in Laurel Springs, NC.  Dalzot runs for Team Inov-8.

Brandy Erholtz, 34, Evergreen, CO, is a four-time member of the U.S. Mountain Running Team and qualified for her most recent USMRT by placing third at the Mt. Cranmore Hillclimb in a photo finish.  In 2011, Erholtz’s results included a third place at the Dolomite Sky-Race, fourth at the Grand Prix Harikiri Race, fourth at the Mt. Kinabalu Climbathon and first at the 2012 America's Uphill – a winter snowshoe race in Aspen, CO.

Amber Moran, 33, Arden, NC, placed 7th at the USA Mountain Championships at Mt. Washington in 2010 and 5th in 2011 at the USA Mountain Championships at Mt. Cranmore.  In 2009, she took fourth at the USA 10k Trail National Championships and finished third at the 2011 NACAC Mountain Running Championships in Ajijic, Mexico. Moran is a two-time winner of the challenging Shut-In Trail Race and The Bear Hill Climb in NC.  She has a speedy mile personal best of 4:44, works as a school nurse and runs for Team Inov-8. 

Michele Suszek, 29, Littleton, CO, made her first U.S. Mountain Running Team last year with a second-place finish at the USA Mountain Running Championships; a race won by eventual World Mountain Running Champion Kasie Enman.  Suszek finished 21st at the 2011 World Mountain Running Championships.  More recently, she ran a 2:46:40 at the 2011 Omaha NE Marathon for the win and ran a 2:40:33 at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston – good for 43rd place.
Suszek is the 2012 USA 50 Mile Trail National Champion having run a 7:25:41at the Nueces 50 mile race in Rocksprings, TX, in March.


Joe Gray, 28, Newcastle, WA, finished 10th at the World Mountain Running Championships (WMRC) in 2010 leading the U.S. men’s team to its first ever team silver medal. At last year’s Championships Gray finished 11th and was a scoring member on the bronze-medal USA team in 2008.  In 2009, Gray was the USA Mountain Running Champion and was named the men's USA Mountain Runner of the Year in 2008, 2009, and 2010.  Gray is the first male to win the NACAC Mountain Championship three times with victories in 2009, 2010, and 2011.  Gray’s recent results include a 1:05 Half Marathon at the Carlsbad Half, a victory at the USA 50km Road Running Championships and finished 11th at the 2012 USA Cross Country National Championships.

Tommy Manning, 36, Colorado Springs, CO, is an uphill specialist. Manning made his first U.S. Mountain Running Team in 2010 and had an incredible performance to help the team win their silver medal at the WMRC finishing as the third scoring member.  Manning finished sixth at the 2010 USA Mountain Running Championships, and finished fifth at the 2011 championships to make his second consecutive USMRT. He was also runner-up at the Mount Washington Road Race in 2011, and a member of last year’s NACAC Mountain Running Team. In 2009, Manning won the Route 66 Half-Marathon with a time of 1:09.57 and finished 34th at Boston in 2:26.57.  He is teacher at Fountain Valley High School in Colorado Springs.   

Jared Scott, 28, Grand Canyon, AZ, was a member of the 2011 U.S. Mountain Running Team having finished sixth at the 2011 USA Mountain Running Championships to earn the final spot on the team.  Scott also won the 2011 La Sportiva Mountain Cup trail racing series and took fourth at the USA 10km Trail Championships.  An avid snowshoe racer, Scott finished sixth at the 2012 US Snowshoe Running Championships in Frisco, CO.

Ryan Woods, 32, Boone, NC,  (photo below by Joe Viger) earned a spot on the 2011 U.S. Mountain Running Team by finishing third at the 2011 USA Mountain Running Championships.  Ryan finished 49th at the 2011 World Mountain Running Championships in Tirana, Albania.  Woods won the 2011 Springmaid Splash 10k in Spruce Pine, NC, and was the overall 2010 La Sportiva Mountain Cup trail race series. He runs for La Sportiva as of April 2012.

Richard Bolt, 41, Mountain View, CA will be traveling as team manager. Bolt has been Team Leader for the U.S. Mountain Running Team at the World Mountain Running Championships for ten years including this year’s event to be held in Italy in September.  Prior to his leadership role, Bolt competed as an athlete at the World Mountain Running Championships in 1999 and 2002 and is a member of the Salomon Trail Running Team.  In 2008 Bolt founded the USATF-Oregon Mountain Running Series now in its fourth year and currently lives in Mountain View, CA, with his wife Kelly.


Photos of all the team athletes and staff can be found here:

More information on USA Mountain Running can be found at and on the USATF website at  Look for results and a recap of the NACAC Mountain Championships at the site.


Monday, April 23, 2012

The guillotine of road race distances - 5k

In longer races I've often found that the end comes slowly.  Sure, it takes longer to arrive at the finish line but if you're having a bad race the grim reaper tends to take his sweet time.  Not so with the 5k.  Go out too fast and you can fall off a performance cliff.  It was with this in mind that I pondered my race strategy for yesterday's Zippy 5k in Golden Gate Park - race #4 in the USATF-Pacific Association's road racing grand prix.

Several factors were ripe for consideration: 1) this would be my first 5k since......I can't remember, 2) my first track workout was the previous Tuesday and 3) I'd thrashed myself in a 42 mile / 2.5 hour road bike race 48 hours prior.  With all that in mind I thought it best to race under control for mile 1, hold steady and listen to my body in mile 2 and if all systems were "go" then drop the hammer in mile 3.  My goal would be to reacquaint my body with the 5k and set a decent baseline time for 2012.  16-low seemed like a reasonable time to hope for if all went according to plan.

They key to a successful race would be mile 2 - "listen to my body".  Listen for what??  The grim reaper of course.  He who wields the dreaded acid of lactic, the bonk, the wall and other infernal leg speed limiters.  In longer races - especially ultras - there can be time to recover from digging too deep too early.  Just belly-up to a trailside IHOP (aid station), re-load and keep on running.  Not so in shorter races.  Start generating lactic acid faster than your body can clear it and you'll lose time FAST.  The only good news is that the walk back to your car isn't usually that far.

With a plan in place I toed the starting line alongside 400 other runners and waited for the gun (above, far left, #33 - photo courtesy of Jin Ichiro Daikoku).  The first mile was pretty flat but with a slight headwind so I settled into a "comfortable" 5:15 pace and tucked in behind a couple wind-breaks (competitors).  It's hard to resist the urge to fight for places in a competitive race but I did and settled into the mid-40s.  Just before mile 1 the top woman glides past me (ouch!) but again I resist and stick to the plan.  Mile 1 clicked off in 5:15; right where I wanted to be.

All the hills in the race come in mile 2.  Nothing long or steep - just some rollers around Stow Lake and a net uphill; enough to make it the slowest mile for most competitors.  It was here where I really, really wanted to go faster but held back and maintained a consistent perceived effort.  My second mile came in slower at 5:21.  The top woman was about 10 seconds ahead of me as were 3 of my NB Excelsior teammates.

The final mile starts with a nice downhill before it rejoins John F. Kennedy Dr and a straight shot to the finish.  Feeling great I slowly ramped up my effort and started picking off other runners including 3 teammates.  I gave them all brief words of encouragement on the way past as this is a team competition and every place counts in the scoring.

(Me #33 getting schooled by Clara Peterson - photo courtesy of Jin Ichiro Daikoku). Mile 3 passed in 5 minutes flat and I was now closing on the top woman.  It wasn't necessarily a goal of mine to beat the top woman, but I didn't want to get out-sprinted by other top masters runners I knew to be lurking close behind.  In these final hundred meters she and I are running sub-4:30 pace and closing on a runner from Chico Track Club.  Clara Peterson beat me by the thickness of a race number and took victory in the woman's race in a time of 16:15.  Complete race results are here.

I did win the 40+ (masters) race and was the top finisher from the NB Excelsior running club.  Next up: another 5k, May 12 in Portola Valley, CA. Goal? Race faster and don't lose my head.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My First Sea Otter Classic

Ugh, I'm not a big fan of afternoon races.  Gives me all day to be nervous about the race.  In this case it was yesterday's Sea Otter Classic - specifically the Men's 35+ Cat5 Road Race at 3:30 PM.  Since I'm still trying to keep my running miles up I went out first thing in the morning for an easy 4.5 mile run (and distraction).  

My expectations for this race were tempered by a hard week of training.  The prior 5 days included 2 tempo runs and a track workout so my goal was to race defensively and conserve energy.  If I had strong legs for the finish I thought a win could be possible; if not I'd still push hard to the end.  Nothing like a good suffer-fest to improve one's mental toughness.

At the start line I saw Eric Lin whom I'd raced with 2 weeks ago at the Copperopolis Road Race.  Eric finished 1 place ahead of me at Copperopolis so I new him to be a strong climber and capable racer.  We both learned the same lesson from Copper and agreed that waiting till the final half lap to hammer would be the best race strategy.  About 20 guys wheeled up to the starting line but I didn't recognize any of them from previous races.  Good news for my stealth strategy.

While the race starts on the Laguna Seca racetrack, the organizers neutralize it for the first couple miles until the peloton reaches the first uphill.  A good idea since there's a fast downhill right off the race track and we're all just a bunch of unskilled and jumpy category 5 racers.  Once safely on the race course we started the first of our five 8 mile loops inside the Fort Ord Military Reservation.  

At the top of the first uphill we lost about 6 guys whittling the lead group to 14.  From there the next 4 laps were uneventful so took the time to contemplate advice from my more experienced teammates given at our February training camp:

Ron Castia: Rest your legs while coasting on the downhills.  Sit your arse on the saddle and relax.  Don't tuck (like a downhill skier) unnecessarily.  

Ken Gallardo: Stay close to the wheel of the rider ahead of you and anticipate changes in distance based on what's happening further forward in the pack.  

Everyone: Winning road races takes patience.  Be strategic.  Based on your strengths and those of your competition, think about where on the course to attack.  

Going into the final lap of the race it was becoming clear which riders were strong and which were just hanging on.  Big uphills have a tendency to do that.  Unlike the previous laps where we rode several riders abreast, the final lap was our fastest as the group strung out in a single-file line.  Halfway around the lap at the second (feed station) climb the group bunched and it was clear many were already hurting....and even more so at the top of the climb.

With 5 miles of rolling terrain ahead I thought it was still too early to attack so I stayed near the front and let others set the pace.  So far the race felt aerobically easy but I could tell my legs were beginning to fade.  I again considered the advice of my teammates, remained patient and stayed near the front.  On the final uphill roller before the descent to the 600' finish climb a strong rider launched an attack off the front.  Unfortunately I was boxed in about 6 riders back but managed to pull into 4th place as we crested the hill - about 50 meters behind the leaders.

After a burst of power and channeling my inner downhill ski racer I pulled back to the top 3 as we started the final 2 mile climb.  The other 8 riders were strung out but not that far back and just as I feared, my legs were down on power.  Time to dig deep and see if 60 miles a week of running can out VO2 Max the competition.  

As expected the top 3 slowly pulled away so I set my sights on keeping 4th place and shut the blinders on the pain cave.  At this point my legs are screaming and getting out of the saddle conjures up imbalance rather than power.  It's not a steep hill but I'm already slammed into my lowest gear (39*28), spinning like a madman and enlisting every fiber to move the bike forward.  At 200 meters to go I'm in 4th and the leaders are still in sight.  At 50 meters a rider goes by me but I've got nothing left in the tank.  Spinning as fast as my spindly legs will go I just want to cross that infernal finish line!  

Pain, like all good things must eventually come to an end.  In the final standing I ended up 5th (2:27:21), under a minute behind 1st.  Overall I'm satisfied with the result.  A hard workout was had.  Learnings from previous races were applied.  I kept the rubber side down and my brain bucket intact.

Today (Saturday), training continues.  I ran 7.5 miles on the trail and it felt way too hard.  Tomorrow I've got the Zippy 5k running race - part of the USATF-Pacific Association Grand Prix series.  I certainly won't be fresh but I will toe the starting line prepared to suffer....again.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Snakes on a trail. A rolling tubular gathers no moss.

Where is Samuel L. Jackson when you need him?  I thought I was going to have a heart attack this morning when I almost stepped on a large snake.  Basking in the sun on the Bay Trail this beast stretched out almost 5 feet long and several inches in diameter.  All this time I thought stepping on duck droppings or swallowing face-fulls of gnats were the most dangerous Bay Trail hazards.  Enough is enough!  I had it with these motherf***king snakes on this motherf***king trail! 

Anywho, that was at mile 5 of my 8 mile tempo run.  Yesterday was an easy run so today I wanted to up the speed and cruise at sub 6:30 pace after a few warm-up miles.  I felt really good - keeping my heart rate zones 2/3.  Another quality run on my path to not-sucking.  Nothing remarkable course-wise; just an out-n-back on a gravel section of the Bay Trail.

This afternoon I planned an easy 20 miles on my MASI with the tubular wheels to give them a little burn-in prior to tomorrow's Sea Otter Classic.  At the beginning of the ride the freshly mounted tubulars were making some frightening noises - like the sound glue makes when you tear off old tubulars.  I started to ride over to the shop that mounted them to ask WTF but after a few miles the noise went away entirely.  I'm guessing it was some sheering of the glue layers as the tires settled into place around the rim.  Since the tires ran straight, true and didn't roll off the rims in the corners I'm guessing everything is a-ok.  Fingers crossed.  Knock on carbon fiber.

Another boring route for the bike ride.  Some Mountain View burbs, the Stevens Creek Trail, the Google-sphere and Bay Trail.  Flat, flat and a little more flat.  I'm not going to get anymore fit between today and tomorrow so nothing to do but eat and rest.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Running and bicycle maintenance go together like......

........I don't really know.  Just throwing that out there.

I woke up this morning feeling not too bad after yesterday's 16 miles of running and a track workout.  Better than the morning after my first (running) road race of 2012 back in March - the Across the Bay 12k.  That race caused my calves to protest each step for the next 48 hours.  Better than after my first (cycling) road race of 2012 two weeks ago - the Copperopolis Road Race.  I thought my arse muscles were going to set up like concrete after that ordeal.

All systems go.  Time to run.  I headed out mid-day to work on my tan and run 10 miles at a comfortable 7:30ish pace.  Tanning was unsuccessful due to my common sense application of sunscreen.  The run up to the Bay Trail and back was successful and uneventful.

With that pesky run out of the way I set about prepping my second favorite Italian bicycle for this Friday's Sea Otter Classic race.  Step 1: replace the very well worn tires on my clincher wheels (to be available as spares).  I knew these Vredestein Tri-comps were worn square but didn't realize how worn until I took a close look:

Yup, worn down to the casing; certainly got my monies worth out of those.  I'm no connoisseur of fine racing tires but since getting so many miles out of these I opted to get another pair of Vredestein Tri-comps.  Being able to pump them up to 175 psi for races is a nice feature too........just be careful not to bust your spleen.

Step 2: break out my lightweight carbon fiber (a.k.a. "crabon fibre") tubular racing wheels.  Oh how I love riding these wheels.  The low rolling resistance of Vittoria Corsa Evo CX tubulars and motor-like acceleration.  Now if I can only do this fine steed justice in the race.  Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Let's take some speed

I don't always do speed-work, but when I do, I prefer to suffer.

Suffering on the track is - in my opinion - done best with a group of guys faster than yourself.  So with that in mind I got myself invited to a track workout session organized by a group of Lockheed Martin guys training for the Penn Relay's corporate race.  Prior to the workout my new friend Jon was making references to "Daniels" and "R pace" and "F pace" and other such things I don't have much experience with because.....well.....I'm a trail runner.

Which is of course EXACTLY why I need to be doing some track workouts.  I love trail running but this year I really want to improve my road speed and do well in the USATF-Pacific Association Road Racing Grand Prix races.  For me this means doing at least half my distance runs on roads at a good zone 2/3 effort.  To help with my top end speed I'm also planning to hit the track 2 to 4 times a month in addition to less structured pace and fartlek workouts on the roads.

Today: my first track workout of 2012.  Frankly, I don't know exactly how fast we were going but my goal was to stick with the group for the entire workout.  After a 1.5 mile warm-up we ran 600, 400, 400, 300, 300, 200, 200, 200, 200 meters with a full active rest between each interval.  Our speed was between 65 and 70 second 400 meter pace.  I managed to stay with the group for all except the final two 200 meter intervals.  Was it painful?  Yes.  Did such things seem easier 20 years ago?  Oh yeah!

Overall I'm happy with the outcome.  After a 3 mile run home from the track I finished with 8 miles.  I also ran on the trails at Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve this morning for 8 miles giving me a total of 16 for the day.  Beer me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Marathon Monday - So I Rode My Bicycle

Yup, today is that day.  Marathon Monday.  Patriots Day (in Massachusetts and Maine anyway).  The 116th running of the Boston Marathon.  Ah fond memories of my first and only road marathon.  Standing around in corrals with 20,000+ other people, taking 10 minutes to cross the start line after the race officially started (thank goodness for chip timing), running over a sticky road at the PowerGel feed station, getting sunburn on the back of my calfs and triceps and of course wall to wall humanity both on the course and watching the race.

I feel a bit guilty about my Boston Marathon journey for a couple reasons.  1) I ran under my friends name.  2) I was there to pace a different friend to his goal time of 3:45 and 3) I only really "raced" the last 10k.

There are many was to get into the Boston Marathon but mine was.....well....unique.  My good friend DoubleD was checking email that winter when a message came in from one of his sponsors - PowerBar.  "Who won the 1923 Boston Marathon".  Be the first person to answer correctly and get a free entry to Boston.  Dave reached over to the bookshelf, grabbed Hal Higdon's "Boston: A Century of Running", opened it to page 228 and within 30 seconds emailed back "Clarence H. DeMar".  Boom, done, we have a winner.

Unfortunately Dave was injured and knew he wouldn't be able to race Boston in a couple months.  Lucky for me Dave says, "Hey Rich; wanna run Boston"?  What?  I've never run a marathon and I'm not even training for a marathon.  "So what", he replies, "It's a great race and you'll have fun".  Cool.  I'm in.

A luck would have it, my friend John and his sister were registered to run the same year and we're looking for someone to pace them to a 3:45.  Right on - I can do that.  All the gory details of my Boston Marathon in 2003 can be left for another post but the net of the net was that John dropped in Wellesley with a injury and his sister stopped at 20 for a while to meet friends and drink some champagne.  Having already been out for over 3 hours I didn't want to wait around so I tried to race the last 10k which in hindsight was just silly.

If you have run Boston and didn't finish in the top or bottom 10% you know that the race is nearly shoulder to shoulder mass runner-ness for 26 miles.  Trying to run sub-6 pace through a crowd of people moving at 10 minute pace is like tree skiing in a dense forest.  I'm also quite sure the runners around me were thinking "who's this jerk", but my companions were out and I just wanted to end my longest training run ever and get home!!

So yeah, that's it.  Look up "Dave Dunham" in the 2003 results and you'll see he ran a 3:45.  Dave's slowest marathon ever!  Sorry Dave.  But don't feel too bad for him - Dave's PR is 2:19.  Oh and if the BAA ever finds out I ran as Dave, we both might be banned from the race for life.  Hopefully they'll be in a forgiving mood....or more likely they'll be busy with more important counting all the money they made today.

Today - 9 years later I commemorate my (Dave's) Boston Marathon run with a 55 mile road bike ride.  I was supposed to meet my teammates in Mill Valley for a ride but my train was held in Redwood City because an earlier train hit "a trespasser" further up the line.  Since I wasn't going to make it to Marin in time I bailed from the train and rode a loop back to Mountain View via Skyline Drive.

Oh what a great day for a ride.  Sunny, 60+ degrees, not windy.  I headed out of Redwood City to Woodside via Canada College.

Up Kings Mountain Road to Skyline Drive and turned South past 84 to Windy Hill (pictured above - looking West towards the Pacific Ocean).

Kings Mountain is always a bear but i forget how much climbing there is between 84 and Page Mill Rd - it's a 500' height difference.  Above is the view point on Skyline Drive just North of Page Mill Road - looking Northeast towards Palo Alto.

After Page Mill there is again more rolling climbing up to Route 9 - another 500' of gain.  The photo above was taken at about 2900' looking West into the San Lorenzo River watershed.

The high point - and turnaround point - of the ride was at 3150' above sea level at the highest point on Skyline Drive and only a few hundred yards from the Santa Clara County highpoint.  McPherson Mount is 3200 and change feet above sea level and is the county highpoint I "climbed" with Dave Dunham last November.  Thanks Dave for the highpoint and for getting me into the Boston Marathon 9 years ago.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Page Mill Road Ascent - Mt. Washington Prep

This year I don't want to suck at the Mt. Washington Road Race (MWRR).  Once upon a time (1999) I ran a 1:06 but since getting older and moving West my times have been pretty slow.  2010 saw my all time WR (worst record) of 1:20+.  Climbing 4200' in 7.6 miles Mt. Washington is a giant among mountain races and probably the longest, steepest road ascent race in North America (runners at mile 7 of the 2008 race pictured below).

I'm in better shape leading up to the 2012 MWRR than I've been in many years but to run fast I need more hill work.  Specifically long sustained efforts uphill - preferably on roads.  Page Mill Road is a good training ground ascending about 1500' in 5 miles so today that's the run that was on the menu.

I started my run on Moody Road before the final steep pitch to Page Mill.  My goal was to run a steady zone 2/3 over the "rolling" steep uphill route to the Monte Bello Open Space Preserve parking lot (high point on the run).

It took 45 minutes to run these 5 road miles (1500' of ascent).  Part 2 of the run was to find Kelly who was running up/down on the Bella Vista trail (pictured below) after having dropped me off at the beginning of my run.

If I wanted to add 500 vertical feet to my run I could have continued on Bella Vista to the summit of Black Mountain.  Today we had post run plans so I wanted to meet Kelly on the trail and run back to the car with her.  55 minutes into my run and here comes Kelly down the trail - perfect timing!

You couldn't ask for better running weather at Monte Bello today - sun, warm, no wind and great views.  Unfortunately with the summer-like weather come the crowds.  Not on the trails, but darn; I've never seen a full parking lot at Monte Bello prior to today.