Monday, March 30, 2009

PCTR Sycamore Canyon 50k

Yesterday I had the privilege of running the PCTR Sycamore Canyon 50k. When I say privilege I really mean it, these are great events, low stress, well organized, friendly and fun…well as much fun as running 50kms can be; lots! I had ummed and ahhed about whether to enter this event as I wanted to go into Leona Divide on as much of a high as possible and after such a good run at Malibu Creek two weeks ago I didn’t want to spoil the feeling. I decided to go for it but have the low key and realistic goal of finishing it around the 6:30 mark, no pressure no stress, just a long supported run.

The one thing that had me concerned was the weather which was forecast to be 70f, not as warm as during the week but warm enough. I noticed, driving to the race that the weather was not living up to the forecast and that the cloud was low on the hills and while there was some blue sky inland the course was predominantly based on the coastal hills, it stayed this way most of the day.

I arrived, parked my car and went over to pick up my number; on duty were Billy and Sara from the TRC, they diligently handing out race numbers. We swapped some stories and I headed back to the car to grab my gear and stretch out etc before heading back to the start area to await the brief etc.

After the pre-race brief, a quick countdown and a woop the 18, 30 and 50km runners all set off. The first half a mile or so was along the valley bottom and I ran with Rachel and Emil who I had met at Malibu Creek who is running, Rachel is no slouch; she's Boston next month. We turned off to start the first of the five climbs. The course is basically a figure of 8 with an out and back and goes up and over 5 hills, each hill is about 1000’ in elevation gain and off course a subsequent 1000’ drop, in fact the vertical division is 41% ascent, 45% descent and a whopping 13% on the flat…woot! The first up and over was finished in around an hour and I was pleased with the pace of 10 min miles, a little faster than planned but I was feeling fine and so I carried on. At this point we dropped the 18km runners and so the 30km and 50km runners carried on. The next section took me deeper into the canyon and having run this several times before I was very aware of what was coming up; essentially the climb up from the valley floor takes you up the valley side up short, sharp, singletrack switchbacks most of which are steps, some natural some man made cut into the rockface; the real objectives here are to not do anything stupid, twist an ankle or fall off the path and to keep going as fast as you can, I ran where I could and hiked up the rest. Once you exit this section you continue on an easier path which traverses across the side of the hills gradually climbing until you reach just below the summit of Point Mugu. From here I was treated to some of the flatter sections and I wound my way through the meadows on the top plateau. The trail then closes a loop and you head back down the way you came up. Here’s some very bad video of coming down.

I reached the aid station which put me at around mile 13 and the bottom of the third climb. Two miles later I was at the half way point and my Forerunner showed 2:43:00; some half an hour ahead of my projected finish time. Putting that to back of my mind I pushed up the climb. This would be the first of two times I made this trip and the trail; Ray Miller is steep and long, although being intimate with it I knew where the flatter sections where and where exactly the real top was, there are several false summits. At this point I had been playing cat and mouse with 3 or 4 other runners and had finally shaken them off…or so I thought. Coming down the backside I noticed someone on my heels and I struck up a conversation with a 30km runner; this was her first trail race and she had been copying my walk/run strategy to the top compared to another runner who had tried to run all the way up and then ground to a halt. We chatted as we ran the three miles down, you can see from my splits that my pace picked up and a clocked in three quick miles: 8:38, 8:21 and 8:17. I hit the next aid station at Mile 20 and caught up with Billy and Sara who were manning the aid station, Billy ran out with me for the first quarter mile and we chatted. He turned back and I turned onto the single track for the forth climb…onwards and upwards. That was theme for the next three miles; really just trying to push on up the hill at the best pace possible. As I reached the top I felt the first twinges of cramp and I took an extra S-Cap, my pace was solid but not fast, my legs felt ok but the cramping was a bit worrying, from this point I took an S-Cap every 30 minutes and stuck to my gel intake of one every 30 minutes, other than a cup of Sprite I had only taken water from the aid stations and I was running a little low on gels, I had some minor gastic irritation but nothing major. I reached the final aid station refilled one bottle with water and the other with Perpetuem from a baggy that I was carrying. The final climb was best described a “mofo bitch” three miles up and my slowest three miles; 15:24, 15:30 and 15:10 I walked 95% of the way up. At this point my left ankle was starting to give me some real discomfort, I topped out and I picked up my pace, with one eye on the clock it was all about just keeping moving; steady, safe and not too fast and other than tripping, stubbing my toe and hoping about as my hamstring cramped and the air turned blue I hit the bottom of the valley with around 5:40 on the clock and less than a mile to go. I knew the PR was on and made steady progress. With a couple of hundred yards left I picked it up and I crossed the finish line in 5:49:53 a new PR by exactly 9 minutes! I finished 22/57 overall and 7/14 for my age group.

So another race and another PR, I am not getting older I am getting faster. Knocking out two 50ks in three weeks really has given me the confidence for the sub 11:00 finish that I want from LD50 in three weeks time. Looking back over my races I have now reduced my 50k time by over an hour in the last 16 months...let's see what another 16 months will bring. My ankle is still a bit sore and I am icing it, I’ll skip tonight’s scheduled 10 miler and see how it feels tomorrow.

Thanks to Billy for the photos of me, my camera wasn’t playing but there are some photos here and here is the MotionBased data.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Note to self!

Go to bed! This week has been long and it's only Thursday. TGTF! My training has taken a hit. Monday I put in 9 miles, Tuesday I missed my bike and Wednesday I missed my intervals and pushed them over to today. I was home early and Spring has certainly sprung with a toasty 82f awaiting me as I started my interval session! Toasty my foot; 82f is damn hot! I could certainly feel my pace just bleed away as evident in the mile splits.

As you can see; the first 1 mile cut was the deepest!

This week is my last week at work (I actually finish next Tuesday) and I have been slammed wrapping up my project and a bajillion other issues! Add to the mix a teething child who is refusing to sleep through the night and I am as they say; banjaxxed!

I signed up for my second 50k for this month and that's this Sunday; no pressure, it is in effect a long supported run, I am targeting a 6:30 or thereabouts finish. And then we have three weeks to LD50!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

22 miles photog edition!

Twenty three miles was on the plan for this weekend, seeing as I have verbosely posted nearly every day for the last week I'll spare you the write up and you can have the pictorial version. I ended up a bit short on mileage and I was feeling it by the end which was the feedback from the 8 mile tempo run from the night before.

I ventured off onto a new trail on an out and back and then came back to finish off with running loops, I wanted distance not elevation, it was, all in all a good run. The trailhead is about a half mile from our house and I figured, with our move pending, it may be a last opportunity to run to around this area in a while, enjoy:
Mile 1: The start...

Mile 2: It looked a lot better with the crow on the tree

Mile 3: Damp views over the valley

Mile 4: A carpet of spring flowers

Mile 5: Recent rain and sunshine means everything grows quickly

Mile 6: California Whipsnake; a bit worse for wear

Mile 7: Ever onwards...

Mile 8: There are sulfur springs in the area that kill off the trees over time

Mile 9: This is actually a dried river bed!

Mile 10: climbing up from the valley floor

Mile 11: Disappearing into the mist!

Mile 12: Halfway...slight condensation on my glasses!

Mile 13: More damp views!

Mile 14: A sign!

Mile 15: Homeward bound

Mile 16: More spring color

Mile 18: Money can buy you a big house...but it can't buy you any taste!

Mile 19: Greenway trails

Mile 20: Last big view of the run

Mile 21: It's all about mind...

Mile 22:...over matter!

MotionBased data:

Friday, March 20, 2009

Review; Asics Gel Banditos

When training for Twin Peaks last year I tacked onto the end of my training program six weeks of speedwork; this time for Leona Divide I only have four as it is a more compressed training cycle. Last year as part of the mental prep for the speedwork I entered a 5k race which would bookend the finish of it and allow me to measure my results; you can read all about that here. I also purchased some running flats, these would be the first pair of flats I ever owned; I initially tried Asics GEL DSs XIIIs (now retired) they didn’t work out so I moved onto Asics Gel Banditos.

Once you get over the rock’n’roll styling, these shoes are pretty minimal! Weighing in a slim 7.9 oz (compared to my 13oz Kayanos and XT Wings) they obviously feel very light. Their construction is pretty minimal and the uppers are virtually non existent with lightweight laces and very thin mesh upper. The bulk of the weight is in the sole where Asics has included some of the technology found in heavier shoes including; SoLyte and Gel and the inclusion of DuoMax which aids in with support for your gait.

That being said as you would expect the ride is pretty bare, they force me to be much more of a mid/fore foot runner and that in my mind is a good thing as I am less prone to injury that way.

One thing I would say is that these shoes run small, I ended up sizing up 1.5 sizes over my day to day shoe; they are a fraction too large so I compensate with a slightly thicker sock, they are also very narrow and I am unable to get my orthotics into them.

So what’s my opinion, well overall I can only describe it as these shoes want you to run fast, if you’re not sucking Os and feeling like your gonna puke at the end of the run they’re disappointed and trust me you want to please them! Once you get over the “oh these don’t feel like my old shoes” feeling your left with a woah look how fast I can go!

I’ll temper the above by saying that the longest I’ve run in them is 10 miles (this run), I could probably go to a half marathon distance but beyond that I think I would really start to miss the extra support and cushioning of my other shoes.

I my opinion speedwork is a cyclical task; 70% hard work, 20% mental and 10% goals/results; put in the effort and you’ll see the results, that will give you the confidence that you can run fast and setting goals will give you satisfaction when you reach them prompting you to put in more effort and so on. Of course having the right tool is also going to assist you in and these are definitely something I keep in my tool-box.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Instant Gratification!

That’s how I view my speedwork sessions, I put in an hours worth of effort and I see the results as soon as I press stop on my Forerunner (sorry it has no name!).

Scrolling through the laps, looking at the splits and noting those quarter, half, three quarter and mile splits really gives me a sense of reward, especially after the set of intervals I had on Wednesday where I touched on running a sub 6 minute mile, I should qualify that by saying that my time for the 800m was 2:41 so if you extrapolate that to a mile that should give me a 5:57 mile, my unofficial mile PR is 6:15 so sub 6:00 would be great and not bad for a “Masters” runner! I use the McMillan running calculator, which gives you enough info to make your headspin! Interesting that 800m split gives me a 2 minute improvement over my half marathon time and a Boston Qualifier to the very last second!

So here is the speedwork sessions I have planned out over the next four weeks, I’d like to throw in a 10k race somewhere towards the end; that depends on finding one and it’s not crucial. Sorry I can’t code tables in html so you get a screenshot from Excel! Click on any image to make larger.

In other news we're moving house, not far, just 20 minutes up the road, what it does mean is that I will be further away from my usual trail running start point in Cheeseboro Canyon; boo! But the upside is that I will much closer to a relatively unexplored, bigger and much more challenging park at Pt Mugu/Sycamore Canyon; yay!

Who says living in the 'burbs is dull!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review; Pearl Izumi SyncroInfinity

So earlier this year I was approached by Pearl Izumi and asked if I would like to review a pair of their shoes…err hell yeah I replied! After perusing their website and a bit of dialog with their representative I opted for a pair or SyncroInfinity road shoes, here’s the pitch:

STABILITY. The SYNCROINFINITY is an excellent shoe for runners needing a stability shoe with maximum cushioning. The perfect shoe for runners who require a supportive, stable shoe for training and racing. •High Rebound SKYDEX® forefoot propulsion pad •SKYDEX® Heel crash pad •New Syncro Stability Frame - Stability Tuned Suspension System •Deep Rearfoot channel slows overpronation •High performance dual density EVA insole •PI Carbon Rubber Outsole for durability •Weight - Size 10 12.8oz/363g

I was attracted to these as the offer cushioning and stability and while I am no Clydesdale nor am I heavy on my feet I am striving to shift to being more of a mid or forefoot striker and the SKYDEX sounded like it had received some serious R&D dollars which would hopefully help me out in this effort; forefoot striking is more efficient and economical and the catalyst for less injuries.

And so here’s the reality: I was immediately impressed with the quality, well built, solid and slick. I mooched about them for a couple of days just walking about and the like before running in them to make sure there was not going to be any problems. The first thing I noticed was the lining was completely smooth with no seams and therefore minimal in any areas that could rub and/or blister. The lacing is very snug; it connect through to the sole of the shoe holding and supporting your foot very nicely, as it should for a stability shoe, initially the heel felt a little tight but that soon dissipated after an hour or two and I put it down to them being brand new and not formed to my feet. The toe box is nice and roomy (like my Asics Kayano 15s) and overall the fit was good, I sized up half a size from my day to day shoes.

I now have over 60 miles (approx 17% shelf life) on them with the longest run of 10 miles and I feel qualified to report on the ride. One observation is that the shoe is warm, that is my feet tend to get a little toasty in them, this I have to assume is due to the extra layer of fabric used to create the seamless liner; it could be a good thing in the colder months but in the summer may cause problems. Overall the stability is good and the cushioning is supportive…to a point and here is where they are a let down; the sole cushioning while good is not as good as the Kayano’s I reviewed both shoes websites and as best I can tell the SyncroInfinity uses a cellular shaped foam called SkyDex compared to the Kayanos which uses a SoLyte Foam and Gel insert and that gel would seem to be what makes all the difference. I would understand it more if the SyncroInfinity was substantially cheaper but it's within $10 of the Asics

In conclusion a good shoe, well built and with some nice features but if you looking for a fully cushioned forefoot and stable ride they might not be the shoe for you. So, sorry PI I am sticking to Asics for now.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Review; Go Lite Versa Force

Remember these, I posted about these shoes back in January, they were the bargain of the year…to date, well the truth is yes they were a bargain but that only counts if you keep and wear them and the fact of the matter is they do not fit. Unfortunately this was not to be found out until 10 miles into a 15 mile run, while they felt fine while running on the flat and uphill, it was the downhills were things came unraveled and my poor little piggies were being pummeled to death!

Now the fact of the matter is the sizing is a bit funky; they spread sizes - these are 11-11.5, I usually size up half a size to an 11 so I thought these would be fine, I think I needed the 11.5-12s if they do them, so that’s the first thing I have to say, they run a bit small.

The lacing creates a really snug fit and the cosset your foot very nicely, they breath well enough despite quite a lot of molded plastic and my feet were not warm in any way. The toe cover is protective enough all round they seem hard wearing.

And so onto the soles, as you can see the soles really are quite unique, they are very aggressive with the shark teeth like lugs and these are really effective at grabbing the trail and pulling you up, on the downhills they work equally well; although I wasn’t really letting fly in an attempt to not squash my toes too much. Surprisingly the soles are not as cushioned as you would think and the ride is quite harsh, from speaking to the salesman in the store, these shoes are specifically designed for muddy trails, something we don’t see too much off round here and the tread is designed to throw off the mud as you run, which from my limited experience on muddy trails would be a boon. I was running on quite a sandy/rocky trail and experienced no real problems.

Inside they come with a customizable footbed which is designed to allow you to maximize the fit, personally I just pulled all of that out and stuffed in my custom orthotics; no problem!

So in conclusion, a good shoe, designed for a specific surface, if you're ok with a hardish ride but like lots of grip they are the shoe for you, maybe if you're a lighter runner (I weigh in around 170lbs these days) they would be less harsh. Go up a whole size rather than the half and you’ll be fine…as for my pair, well they are looking for a good home; one careful owner and low mileage! They can be yours for what I paid for them ($30) plus postage, if you would like them email me at quadrathon at gmail dot com and you could have them by the weekend!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Living it up in Death Valley!

As noted in a previous post, my wife and I took off for the weekend, destination; Death Valley. We shot off early Friday and after a leisurely 5 or so hour drive we were at our destination. Obviously not the quickest of drives to cover 300 miles but speed was not of the essence; enjoying the scenery was.

My wife and I are fortunate to not only live in a state and corner of the United States that has a multitude of National Parks, but we are lucky to have also been to fair number of them however nothing prepared us for the vastness of Death Valley. The sheer immensity and scale of the landscape is beyond my descriptive powers and so I will save you my rambling adjectives and focus on the facts/events.

We arrived at Furnace Creek Ranch and checked in, unloaded the car and headed out for something to eat. I’ll spare you the details etc and fast forward to the next morning. The plan was to cycle from Furnace Creek to Badwater (approx 40 miles), this would be the first “long” outing for my wife on her new Christmas bike and so laden with water bottles and the like we set out.

Furnace Creek sits at -160’ and we were heading to -282’ so you would think that the road would be a gentle downhill, oh not so, roll after roll as you can see from the elevation profile below presented itself with long straight undeterminable distances to the horizon;

That being said there was obviously a net loss and after about 90 minutes we rolled into Badwater;

We asked a confused tourist if she would take our photo (my wife refuses to have her photo on the blog so you only have me) and after spending 5 minutes convinicing her that we wanted her to take our photo and not that we wanted to take a photo of her; confused is an understatement, she agreed. I have no idea what happened but somehow all the “by the sign” photos are blured!

Anyway we walked out on the salt flat someway and after realizing that it was really just a walk out onto salt flats we turned around and headed back to the parking lot.

All the salt crust had gunked up my cleats and so I spent so time de-gunking them, not long enough however and after several stops on the road later I was able to clip back in, not after shanking my finger with my multi-tool!

The way back was simply that, such is a ‘there and back’ route, this time we had a headwind that while being not overly strong was consistent and so we plodded on, not wanting to provide my wife with the fond memory of seeing my ass disappear over the horizon, I periodically circled back to ride with her and make sure she was ok. To her credit she muscled through the whole ride; although she is the first to admit that it was about 10 miles too long.

We had had some cloud cover for most of the ride but for the last 5 miles or so it lifted and the sun shone on the nearby mountain faces picking up all the colors in the stone…beautiful!

We arrived back at the Ranch and I dove into the General Store for Ice Cream and we sat in the sun relishing both the ride and the creamy treat! After depositing our bikes back in the car we jumped in the car for a quick whiz around Artists Drive and Artists Palette before the sunset, we were a bit late but could see why it was so popular with the mineral deposits coloring the sand and stone; hence the palette. After getting back to our room we headed off the warm spring fed pool and swam for about 20 minutes just to loosen up those saddle sore muscles. After this we headed to the restaurant for tea, medals...and beer!

The food was fair and honest with burgers and salads being the order of the day, there was a fine dining restaurant as well which basically served up the same food with a cloth napkin and an extra $20-30 per head!

The next day we had grand plans of taking in Titus Canyon and 30 mile off road drive and then heading to The Racetrack before heading home. Titus Canyon was spectacular and the drive was amazing, of course being off road we weren’t exactly eating up the miles and three hours later we exited. The trail takes you through two passes and along some pretty tight valley-side-hugging paths culminating in a giant slot canyon that is at places only 20' wide and approx 100' high.

With one eye on the clock we decided to make a quick dash to Ubehebe Crater; a volcanic crater some 600’ deep and a half mile wide. We arrived and were nearly blown over by the wind! With a knowing look we snapped some pictures and jumped back in the car and headed home.

The drive home was uneventful (just the way I like it) and we were home in time for bedtime stories as promised.

With still lots to see, we’ll definitely be back to the Valley…although we might wait till fall!

What a great weekend!

Yes I took my Garmin, and here’s the data, check out the elevation profile. Of course there are a lot of photos, this is the first batch taken with my point and shoot, I add a link to the better ones when they’re uploaded.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Review; Injinji Performance Glove

I picked up my Injinji Gloves at the LA Marathon last year and therefore it’s only been during the last 3-4 months I have actually had cause to use them. I have used gloves on and off during the winter months in previous years but have found that they are usually a little excessive in fabric and there really is little or no “fit”. Injinji address this with an anatomical design that conforms to natural curve of your hand that you create when running added to which they have added a pimply, grippy surface “Grip-Rite” to the palm and fingers. On the back there are some reflective strips. One big difference is that they are cuffless and end at the base of you palm rather than extending over your wrist. Warmth wise; afterall that’s why you wearing them right, they are made from wicking Tetra-Fleece; shiny on the outside, fluffy on the inside

So what’s the conclusion: well firstly they run a little small so try them on first, they are very snug and almost like a second skin, the anatomical fit does work and is mildly supportive. The inner fluffiness is very nice and the wicking seems to work but then I have never been a clammy hand sufferer. The Grip-Rite works but after one Winter is starting to wear off (or wash off) on the ends of the fingers. I liked the short cuffs but on cold days you may want to cover those exposed wrists.

All in all they work, however they are a lightweight glove, I wore them at Twin Peaks last year and I was cold, although I was cold all over by the end. So for SoCal on a normal winter’s morning/evening they’re great for somewhere colder they would be great for Fall or Spring.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Neglecting Walter

Well after the high of last weekend’s race the week sets in. As you would expect, sore legs were the order of the day on Monday, but I did manage to put in another 8 miles, Tuesday I skipped the bike and then last night I ran 9 miles at around marathon pace +20, (8:20; I am trying to quicken that pace for some things on next year’s to do list) my legs were at about 80% and this morning they’re closer to 90%. The plan was get up early and jump on the bike for an hour, but one thing or another has just led to a succession of late nights and I don’t think I have cracked the 6 hour mark for sleep in a night for over a week and so after some physical abuse on my alarm clock I got up late; it’s unlikely I’ll get on my bike today. Tomorrow I need to crank out another 10 miles; that will total 58 miles for the week and is the max miles per week for this training cycle.

The good news is that I’ll be able to catch up on my lost bike miles this weekend, with only a few weeks left of their 5 month stay (yes that’s months not weeks) my in-laws depart for the slowly thawing/drying out UK and so my wife and I are leaving the kids to look after their grandparents and heading out of town starting Friday afternoon, bikes, hikes, sights and hot tubs are the order of the weekend!

Next week I start speed work, four weeks of intervals and tempo runs…hard work but rewarding, and then I taper for LD.

On the computer front, it was terminal, a fried motherboard, I’ll be left trying to recover what I can and then dispatching the box off to recycling, and so for the interim I’ll be a Mac user; so far this is, well, some good - some bad!

Oh yes and finally next week I’ll be putting my best foot forward and, I’ll have reviews on Asics Kayano 15s, Asics Gel Banditos, Go Lite Versa Force trail shoes, Pearl Izumi SyncroInfinitys and maybe New Balance 768s.

Monday, March 9, 2009

PCTR Malibu Creek 50k

Sunday I had the pleasure to attend the PCTR Malibu Creek 50k. This is the first of three SoCal PCTR (Pacific Coast Trail Runners) races this year and my first time racing this one. As always Wendall and Sarah put on a great event; a relaxed vibe, glorious location and perfect weather (apparently Wendell had booked the weather in advance), all aligned to make this a really enjoyable day, if you live anywhere accessible to one of their events, go, do it, sign up now; it will most likely be the most fun you’ll have all year!

Anyway I digress…as usual! For me the race was a tune up for Leona Divide 50m next month and I was using it as a benchmark on my current state of fitness, readiness etc and my expectations were to gauge myself and not go too mad, I was, as previously mentioned, looking for a steady sub 6:30 finish and it was also the opportunity to meet up with some online buddies (Chris and Danica) and re-meet with some real ones, who I hadn’t seen in the longest (Billy and Sara).

I arrived early and found the temperatures were a little cooler than anticipated; 34f! (yes I know for most of this country (and Canada and the UK) 34f is positively balmy), but I live here for a reason and 32f ain’t it!

A quick think on the clothing front and a stab in the thigh with the number pin and I was set, I stretched in the trunk of my car grabbed all my gear and wandered off to the start line. I had bumped into Sara and Danica earlier and they weren’t exactly embracing the climate! At the start I hooked up with Billy and we wished each other good luck, and with a 3, 2, 1, woot we were off!

A mile or so in Chris and Billy found me, I’ve no idea how Chris found me; it must be the accent when I am huffing and puffing through the top of my head! And so we stuck together on and off for most of the first loop.

The course was two loops taking in Castro Peak (not quite the summit, as it’s all marked Keep Out, but close enough), so it really is an up-down-around-up-down-around course, in fact on 19% of it is level and the rest is 50/50 up and down. After another mile or so were met with a line of runners backing up the trail…oh that sounds like water I thought; it was! About 12-15’ across and 2’ish deep (it seemed deeper the second time?), there seemed to be several ways to tackle it and I went with ‘try the stepping stones’ and then, ‘well I am wet let’s just get on with it’ approach, my shoes would dry out after a few more miles.

After this crossing we faced to the long climb to the top which went on for about 6 miles with some little downs in between, it was all very walkable with some running on the occasional downs and flats, we swapped stories and generally shot the sh!t as runners do. Once we got to the top the downhill was runable all the way to half way point, Chris and I jabbered to each other most of the way down with Billy not far behind and before we knew it we were half way round. 2:48! Gosh that’s a bit quick.

I set out from the Aid Station on my own; Chris had said that he had only wanted to stay with me the first loop and Billy was refilling bottles etc. I pushed through the water crossing the second time round without even a pause and plodded up the trail, a couple of hundred yards in and things were not looking familiar, I back tracked and picked up the right trail, phew disaster avoided and only a few minutes lost. I passed through the next AS and set off up the hill again. This time I knew where the flats and downs were so I made a point of running them even if they were only a dozen steps or so, every little counts, right!

There were two runners/walkers in front and I set my sights on overtaking them before the first summit, I managed to pass one and then caught the second a little later, there was also a third further ahead and I finally passed him, this had taken 3 miles. Up ahead there was a group of three who were pacing off each other and I played tag with them catching another two over the next 4 four miles. The downhill run, which lasted about 6 miles and dropped us 1900’ started to hurt the quads and toes after the second mile and so I balled my toes up and parked my brain as I let gravity take me down the hill.

I passed the old 4077 MASH site (where they filmed the TV show) for the second time and I finally overtook the third runner from the group I had been chasing. At this point I had one eye on my watch, the sub 6:30 was well in hand and there was a slim possibility of a sub 6:00 finish, something that has been in my sights for over a year.

Eventually the trail leveled out and I found myself in the last mile and on the road back to the finish. One runner was in front of me and with 300 meters left I pushed as hard as I could, caught and overtook him just before the chute, the clock by the finish read 5:58:53!

And that remained my official time, I was 17/61 overall and 5/16 in my Age Group, I broke my old PR by over 20 minutes and ticked off a major “thing to do in 2009”.

Chris came in about 10 minutes behind me with a new PR and Billy 10 minutes behind him completing his first ultra!

We hung out chatting and enjoying the sun for a while and then all parted company. What a great day!

So as races go it really couldn’t have gone better, other than a few potato chips I raced on gel (6-7) and Perpetuem alone and popped a S-Cap every two hours, it wasn’t that hot but I was feeling a little crampy with a mile to go so one every 90 minutes probably would have been better.

Now I have to weigh up if I want to run PCTR Sycamore Canyon 50k in three weeks or pass on it and go straight to LD in April, it would be nice to get the longer mileage in but I can cover that on my own and going in on the back of such a great race will be a real boost; while I simply need a finish to fulfill my AC100 entry finishing sub 11:00 for entry into WS100 is always on my mind!

Other race reports: Danica's, Sara's and Billy's with more photos etc, Chris' deleted his and is re-writing it.

Here is the MotionBased Data and a few photos here

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Normal service will be resumed shortly…

Technical difficulties; read my pc at home dieing, has prevented me from getting online with any real purpose up subsequently delayed multiple posts include the second part of the MyTach GPS watch review, a review of my 3 course dinner made with a Vita-Mix blender both sent to me By the manufacturers (thank-you) and a shoe report on the Go Lite trail shoes I picked up in January.

Additionally all my review photos were on the pc, I don’t move them to external hard drives until I've used them, anyway hopefully all my data will be recoverable, I actually think it’s the power unit that’s died. I am left cobbling stuff together at work or fumbling around on my wife’s Mac.

This Sunday is the PCTR Malibu Creek 50k, it’s a tune up race for me and really only a supported long run, it’s been raining this week and while I don’t want it hot I don’t want it soggy and boggy, I am not 100% sure of the course, it’s two laps, but if it is where I think it is there are sections where you run alongside a creek which has been known to flood and there are at least two stream crossings; add to that there are sections of running on rock which if wet will be as slippery as snot! Fun times!

I am looking to finish sub 6:30, I ran the approx reverse route last year for one lap and it took me just under three hours and this time the way round I think will be tougher? It's a longer climb and a more technical decent which will be made all the more fun if it's wet and/or muddy!

Anyway it’s a Blogger/Twitter/RunCastTV meet up, Billy (LARunner), and Sara (Docs to Crocs..) who I know via blog and in person through the TRC will be crushing their first ultra, Danica (chicrunner) who I know via blog and Twitter is running the 25k and Autism Runner from RunCastTV is running the 50k, a veritable Social Media event!

Expect lots of photos, videos and race reports!

Monday, March 2, 2009

The road to nowhere...

Alternate (non pc title) "Triple poo Twenty Two!"

Saturday's long run was a 22 miler and I was until the night before unsure of where to run, I toyed with the idea of running the race route for next weekends 50k but to be honest I was unsure of the exact route, I could have gone back to revisit Boney Mountain but the drive was a bit too far and given that I expected to be out on the trails for four to four and half hours I wanted to minimize travel time.

I decided in the end to head back to Cheeseboro Canyon and run a trail that was new to me. I had seen it marked on the map but had never been along (or should I say up, up, up, down, up, up, up) it and figured that this was as good a weekend as any.

The whole household has been under the weather with cold, coughs, sore throats and the like circulating about in a maelstrom of sneezes, snorts and coughs! My immune system finally gave up the fight and I had a sore throat (my Achilles heel in the cold/cough environment) and so loaded up with a pocket full of Ricola I set off.

The first five miles clicked of easily enough, it was warming up fast and I stripped off a layer, the forecast had said 45f at 7:00am climbing to 67f at midday. I hit the junction that would take me onto the new trail; and an easy trail t’was not, switchback, climb switchback, climb, finally I topped out and discovered that I needed to drop into the next valley and climb up over the next ridgeline, I hate losing elevation but I was forced down into the valley floor and back up the other side, I reached the high point and shot some bad video for RunCastTV.

Find more videos like this on RuncastTV

I headed back onto the trail and continued down the backside, something was not feeling right directionwise and I was struggling to visualize how I was going to get to the trail that I needed to reach and that I had seen from the high point, a short while later I hit a gate which was liberally covered in “DO NOT ENTER” signs, I tried to see if there was a workaround…there wasn’t! And so with 9 miles covered I about faced and headed back the way I came…poo!

On the way back I met a mountain biker who was riding up and I asked if he knew the route; he didn’t but he figured he would ride to the top to enjoy the decent, we parted company and I set of back the way I had come. I reached the junction and backtracked to a point where I could pick up another section of the trail; 14 miles covered, 8 to go. I made my up to the next high point and who should I see coming down the hill, yep the mountain biker that I had spoken to earlier, turns out from where I had taken the video the trail continuation point was about 20 yards away…hmm double poo! Oh well there’s always next time.

At this point around 16-17 miles my throat was pretty sore and I was starting to feel a bit heavy legged, Thursday’s double of 18 miles was starting to take its toll. I reached the top and started on the long 4 mile downhill which couldn’t have come too soon. I cruised down the hill and hit to bottom where the trail flattened out, at this point the sun was out and it was getting pretty warm and I was running a little low on fluids. Due to the deviated direction my mileage was a bit short of where I thought it would be based on where I was on the trail and I was planning in my mind where I could add the extra mile or so, as I crested another ridgeline I bumped into some friends of mine who were hiking, of all the trails in all the parks in all the world…isn’t that a line from a movie? Anyway they were heading back to their car, they’d run out of water, did I mention it was getting warm, and one of them was cramping, I gave them a couple of S-Caps and they polished off one of my bottles. We parted company heading in opposite directions. I reached the parking lot with just over 20.5 miles on my Forerunner, so I ditched my vest refilled a bottle and headed back out to cover a mile or so out and back. After three quarters of a mile I turned around and headed back, to the car walking the last quarter mile for the 22 miles or so that I needed. I was pretty much tapped out at this point, the sun was high in the sky and the theremometer in the car said 85f! Holy smokes no wonder I wasn’t feeling so great!

So in conclusion not the best of runs; geographical embarrassment, sore throat, bit of sun; resulting in my first farmers tan line…across my forehead! But on the upside another 20+ miler under my belt, this is the first of six, five more remain over the next month leading up to LD50.

On Sunday my cold blossomed in full, runny nose, sore throat, body aches…sick; triple poo! A crazy early night (I think I was in bed by 9:30pm last night) and lots of drugs seem to be helping.

No Garmin info as yet; my PC blew up last week but I did take some photos of the views, which were awesome they're here.