Monday, July 30, 2012

Weekend Report: San Francisco Races

I picked up some serious hardware this weekend.  My goal of nearly 40 miles over two days went off pretty much as planned and today, while not as spry as usual, I'm feeling ok.  My calves are probably complaining the most, but my energy is good.  First off, check out these cool finishing medals!
Bad Bass Half, SF/LA Challenge (for completing both in 2012) and SF Marathon

On Saturday, I ran the Bad Bass trail Half Marathon.  My goal of 2:00 was just missed at 2:01.  The terrain was a great mix of loose and hard dirt and featured numerous ups and downs.  I found the downs the trickiest part as it was so, so easy to sprint them.  However, knowing that the SF marathon the next day would feature a fairly hilly first half, blasting my quads to pick up a few more seconds seemed stupid.  So, with every trick I knew, I focused on taking the hills in an easy manner.  My goal was to use the gravity assist to let my heart rate decrease from the strain going up the previous hill.

And speaking of previous hills, I have learned in my ultramarathon running that you pretty much walk the steep bits.  Everyone on Saturday - even in a half - was doing this.  The difference in speed in walking and running them is negligible, but the savings in exhaustion is huge.  I suppose the best and speediest of ultra runners do run them, but that's why they win medals and belt buckles.  I found that shortening my stride, keeping on my toes a bit and just plain holding back worked.  And in fact today, after the two races, my quads feel pretty good.

The race itself was beautiful.  We traversed lovely hills above Oakland and a lake/reservoir.  Finding the location was easy (I was an hour early so no stress there).  Temps were in the 60's.  The race staff was on top of it, and everything really just went well.  I had some nice chats with other runners along the way, and they had a great selection of food and treats.

You can see me in the yellow shirt as we start up this hill
I did also find the race director and ask why "Bad Bass?"  (See my previous post for the confusion.)  It turns out there is no real reason.  The lake has bass in it. And when he started this race (he puts on 20 different ones a year), he just picked Bad Bass.  He sort of does not like it, but he feels compelled to keep it.  Frankly, I think this finishing medal is the coolest of the three.  There is a Scottish Tartan thing to these guys too - they all had some sort of tartan clothing, and the race shirt had a subtle pattern to it.  The women all had tartan skirts on.  Brazen Racing is the organization, and if you are in the Bay Area, I recommend their events.
The Brazen Racing Race Director decked out in the kilt

Friday, July 27, 2012

Training for the 50 Miler Part 1: San Francisco Treat x 2

Training for the 50-Miler Part 1:  San Francisco Treat x 2
A SF Room with a View
How does one actually train for a 50 mile race?  Well, clearly, one runs a lot.  However, for me, I try not to run more than 3 days a week.  Instead, I cross train with cycling and swimming and (although I have been very absent) CrossFit.  In a good week, I complete 5-6 workouts.  If I am not traveling, I might go for 10 days in a row.

So, short of running marathons for training runs during my normal days, I have planned a series of weekend events to challenge and push me.  The thinking is:  If I can do these, then I can survive the 50 miler on November 17.

And I am sucker for achievements - both my own created ones and external ones.

That combination has lead me to one of my favorite places: San Francisco CA.  I called the Bay Area home from 1991 to 1994.  I rented my first apartment in Larkspur and lived in my first house in San Rafael.  And I got married there too.  I still have friends from the area, and work brought me here regularly.  As I type this, I am looking out my lovely hotel room at the Bay Bridge and the Embarcadero.  Earlier today, I went to the Wharf Market to buy food for my weekend here.

So, as you might have surmised by now, I am going to run the San Francisco Marathon on Sunday.  This long hosted event features a double traverse across the Golden Gate Bridge which celebrated its 75th birthday this year.  Indeed, the goodie bag given out with the bibs and race information features this iconic landmark.  Two years ago, I ran the first half with my college roommate Steve.  (The race is available as a full marathon, either the first or second half and a brand new Ultra Hurt where you run the course twice - once backwards at midnight and once forward with us mere mortals doing the full.  See, there are crazier people than me.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Destination Running: Lewisville Lake

Today's 9 mile run in Frisco, TX

This week finds me in Frisco and Plano TX teaching the final week of SMU's summer module.  My friend Elizabeth Stringer, full time faculty at SMU's Guildhall video game program, invited me to teach their first publishing production class.  The experience has been a blast in terms of working with some great students and learning to teach mostly remotely via Google Hangout.  With the final project of the class requiring me to be in person for the student presentations, I planned to stay here the entire week. Happily, Elizabeth and her family provide an excellent bed, breakfast and dinner, so I am able to enjoy hanging out with my friends.

With the Dallas area approaching 95 each day (actually below normal for this time of year), I only planned to run one day while in town and to visit the gym for other workouts.  I left the run for today, my birthday, since I always run on my birthday.  That starts the day off right in my opinion.
Today I planned to do 9 miles.  (20% of 45, my age.)  Next weekend, I will run and bike 45 miles.  Next year, I hope to be able to run 46 miles.  I see from looking back that I set out to run 45 and bike 45 this year.  Oh well.  Good thing I didn't make a big deal about that goal!  (In fact, I better be able to do 46 next year if I am going to complete my 50 mile goal later this year.  See 50-50 Foresight for more on that.)

But where to go today?  I poked around the internet to see if any good trails or running places popped out at me.  I know of the Katy Trail and have run part of it before, but that's over 30 minutes drive from Frisco down into Dallas.  A 90 minute run isn't great when you add in 1 hour of driving. showed me some local running on streets in Frisco, and what caught my eye was a lake west of Frisco - Lewisville Lake.  I could not tell if a path near the lake existed, so instead I decided to see if I could at least run to the lake and back.  The lake is huge, so I could just reach a finger of it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

50-50 Foresight

When I completed my goal of running a marathon on all 7 continents last October, naturally many people asked what running challenge would I tackle next.  I hemmed and hawed on that, and I even promised to write up something for the blog when I knew.  However, I did not imagine so many months would pass before I finally brought forth an answer.

And of course, one goal alone cannot satisfy me, so I am setting three - one short term, one medium term and one crazy one.

50 Miles
Ever since I ran my first 50 kilometer (31 mile) race in 2010, I knew I wanted to try for 50 miles.  In ultramarathon running, the standard distances are 50k (considered a short ultra), 50 miles, 100K (63 miles) and 100 miles.  I suspect 100 miles is outside my ability or at least my desire to train for that length.  100K might be doable, and I would love to try the Comrades marathon in South Africa (89K/56 miles).  50 miles in any case is the next step up.