Friday, May 14, 2010

Why Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 Mile Run is My Kind of Race (or Not)

Why Massanutten is My Kind of Race:
  • The lottery process was unique, transparent, and got me in.
  • The race is not at altitude, the high point less than 3000 feet above sea level.  I like oxygen!
  • It keeps all my Circadian adjustment from my job from going to waste, since I have to wake up before 1 am Pacific Time to run this.
  • The race recognizes my usual low maintenance style of running 100 milers.  I don't ask family or friends to schlep stuff around following me at these ridiculous and ridiculously long events anyways.(Only one exception, Headlands Hundred 2009, but this was unplanned.)  I am running in the Stonewall Jackson Foot Cavalry Division - No Crew, No Pacer. 
  • I was a good excuse to visit my sister who lives only a couple hours away and see my new niece before she ceases to be an infant and becomes yet another bratty toddler.
my niece, chowing on bamboo
  • The initials for the race are THE SAME as mine:  MMT, this coincidence is Most Magnificent and Terrific!
Why Massanutten is So NOT My Kind of Race
  • I am uncoordinated and tend to trip over rocks.
  • I am uncoordinated and tend to trip over roots.
  • I am uncoordinated and have been known to trip for no good reason.
  • Even if I don't trip, I'll probably blacken another nail or two.
  • Stonewall Jackson?  Will the buckle have a Confederate flag on it?
  • This ends my streak of 4 straight Quicksilver 50 milers and 6 straight Ohlone 50k's.
  • I am scared of lightning, and the forecast was for scattered thunderstorms while I am running. (Actually, this has since miraculously changed, now clear skies for Saturday and Sunday, in between days with a chance of rain or storms.)
  • That thing I wrote in the last section about keeping "my Circadian training from going to waste" is pile of BS and I really feel like crap waking up at what my body thinks is 1 am to run all night and the next day and into the next night.  I tried to mitigate this by working overnights last weekend and even taking an overnight call shift Tuesday night, but since my kids are still on Pacific time (3 hours later), while my sister's family get up early, and their daughter is not sleeping through the night, I think I just gave myself a massive extended sleep deficit leading up to the race.  But, I guess the extra challenge will make me tougher in the long run.  If it doesn't kill me.....

Well, I'm out here, so even if the Nots outweight the Izzes, it's happening, and we're going to have a century's worth of fun!  Gotta prepare my drop bags real fast...

If you have any downtime this weekend, you can follow me live-ish on the webcast, if it works.
I'm bib # 157:

race website

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Ruth Anderson 100k, v.4: another anti-PR

The skinny-- I am getting over-the-hill and slow.

Reasons I ended up running this race to complete my 43rd through 56th lifetime loops around Lake Merced in the southwest corner of San Francisco, on Saturday, April 17:
  • Diablo 50 mile cancelled-- PCTR helped accomodate by moving Skyline to the Sea 50k up a week for the following day but we'd already scheduled our son's already delayed birthday pony party in Half Moon Bay, and I felt even a flat 100k would be more beneficial training than a trail 50k.  Plus a friend's wedding reception was Saturday night, so logistically was undoable.
  • Rajeev is a great guy and RD.  I also missed his 50th birthday fat-ass run when I ran Jed Smith.
  • PAUSATF points for the Rhoquick Quicksilver team
  • figured maybe I could shoot for a PR, and another sub-8 (hour 100k)
Baldwyn Chieh had earlier in the week messaged me for a ride. He was going to volunteer at the race, then meet up with his family and go to the SF Zoo.

Joe Swenson was also going to run, so I had offered to drive him from my house. He drove past in his red truck, didn't get out.  I drove over to him, he opened the car door, "HEY, HOW'S IT GOING?!"  I was glad to see him too, but didn't want to wake up the neighborhood dogs.

With the GPS, no wrong turns to the start with getting to the start on the north side of Lake Merced.  While picking up my bib, everyone was already heading to the start half a mile away.

I needed to #2.  I was the last to get into the portapotty, didn't feel like I got it all out, but needed to move. On the way there, I passed a woman lamenting that she was going faster than her race pace.

Garmin recorded map of my 5 minute trot at a sub-11 minute mile pace to the start line

 I barely made it to the start where Rajeev was giving his pre-race talk.

Garmin Forerunner died on me. "BATTERIES LOW, PRESS ENTER."  But I'd just charged it. Oh well, I guess the course wasn't going to make that interesting a map on Google Earth, but was hoping to use it to help me pace.

I had a hydration system devised to save time and reduce waste-- (first time I had this planned out):  Three Ultimate Direction bottles to alternate between the two aid stations; so drop off one, pick up one a third to half full.

Garmin-less, I was pulled by the pack of runners shooting various distances, and including my two teammates running 100k, Pierre Yves-Couteau and Sean Lang.

Those guys soon pulled ahead, and I wouldn't see them for almost the whole race.  I ran and chatted a little with Brad Fenner (and got pace readings off his working Garmin). He had just run American River 50 mile last Saturday, before he dropped back, but 4:04 post-AR not bad.  Another AR50 / Ruth Anderson back-to-backer, Suzanna Bon, sporting her Team USA jersey, and who despite using this as a training runm, finished ony 53 minutes after me .  Good luck to her in Brive France this week for the world 24 hour championships!

To urge to dump started shortly after finishing my 2nd lap.  I barely made it to the south aid station dry.  Here's some of the many great volunteers there after I finished the whole race.
Vivek Rai, Chandrakala (CK) Kappana, Brajesh Upadhyay, Mohan Thirumale

This time I got it all out, but it took me half a lap to recover.

Ending laps 3 and 4, I asked Baldwyn for my iPod (as evidence of my impaired thinking, I kept called it a "Walkman").  I don't think he heard the first time, so he finally gave it to me at the end of lap 5.  But the earbud cord was too tangled for me to deal with, so I stashed it back into my pockets, and gave it back to him at the end of lap 6, then got it back from him untangled at the end of lap 7.  (thanks, B!)

Despite all the hassle, I had problems with what was loaded on the Nano-- some continuing medical education lectures I'd uploaded to listen to during my recent vacation to Hilton Head...

...and a lot of music in our collective iTunes music library.  But somehow I didn't successfully resynch my Nano to carry only stuff I wanted to hear.  Lots of pulling the Nano out and clicking the wheel to skip songs.

My 50k split was 3:55.  With how I was feeling I doubted I could make sub-8 hours, but figured maybe I could pull a 8:15.

But I started decelerating 2nd half.  Besides fatigue, my pace kept getting slowed by the feeling some part of me (calf, hip, low back, etc) would snap or spasm.  As I mentioned, needed the music. Anything to help distract me.  It's one thing to hurt and push it when you're running optimally, but when you're hurting and you're sucking, you're just trying to survive.  A lot of mental calculations (only 4 more laps of 18 miles left), but the problem was I would mentally anticipate X laps or Y miles left even when it was actually X+1 or Y+4.5 miles left, and then realize I was jumping the mental gun.

To my credit, I was determined to finish the full 100k.  In this race, you can stop at 50 kilometers or 50 miles and still get official credit for the shorter distance.   (For PAUSATF team points, I could have dropped, since Jim Magill was also running and we just needed three guys to go the distance to score.  Our Tamalpa rivals weren't fielding a team for any of these races.
Jim Magill, photo by Shishir Ramam

I just decided for myself, that I was not finishing the full 100k was not an honorable option.  Though I guess looking like I wasn't enjoying myself WAS my prerogative.
photo by Alan Geraldi

During the 2nd half of the race I was passed (often lapped) by several people:
  • Todd Braje (50k winner) during my 6th and his 7th lap
  • Joseph Binder (rookie 50 miler so didn't recognize him, winner in a course record 5:37:46) my 8th / his 9th

Binder with RD Rajeev Patel, photo by Alan Geraldi
  •  John Souza (doing the 50 mile) our 9th lap
  • Jon Olsen (won the 100k in 7:32:29), my 10th / his 11th.  Jon got injured last year and out of the race seen for a while, so I'm glad to see him coming back in good form.
Jon Olsen, Charles Wickersham,, John-Karma Souza , Leslie Antonis, Hoa C. Tran, Barbara Elia
(thanks John S. for the photo)
Pierre lapped me my penultimate lap and his last.  He just made it under 8 hours, but didn't beat my PR.
Jean didn't lap me, but cranking out a 6:07 50 miler, one week after AR50 is impressive.

I came in at 8:45:17, a quarter minute SLOWER than my anti-PR time 2 years ago, when gale winds were blowing from the ocean and I'd thrashed a few muscles playing paintball the evening before.  my 2008 Ruth Anderson report.  Go figure.

So there you see:  40-somethings getting faster:  Jean, Pierre, Scott Dunlap (not there at Ruth, not French, but you all know him).  Exception is moi.  I am senescing.

Comparison of my splits, this year and my PR in 2007 (2007 lap times were from my watch.  For some reason we didn't get 50k and 50 mile splits this year, and I didn't record them.)
Lap          2010       2007
 1             0:28:58    0:29:19
 2             1:02:35    1:02:35
 3             1:36:24    1:35:10
 4              2:09:23   2:07:20
 5              2:43:21   2:39:17
 6              3:17:04   3:11:14
 7              3:52:33   3:43:25
    (50k)                   3:45:22
 8             4:30:37     4:16:30
 9             5:10:21    4:51:30
10            5:51:10    5:29:38
11            6:34:54    6:07:21
   (50m)                    6:17:32
12            7:18:56   6:43:52
13            8:01:37   7:20:45
14 (100k) 8:45:17   7:57:09

Psychologically, I became resigned to inevitability of decline, deceleration, and perhaps no more PRs, except negative ones. I will welcome any surprises, but they will be just that-- surprise flukes.
But was I depressed about this?  Hell no-- Darshan's dhal soup was excellent.  Ten times better than your typical chicken noodle.  Some of the awesome volunteers at the main north aid station and 100k race finish line:

Daniel Taub, Diane Forrest, Darshan Thaker, Keara Forrest, Rajeev Patel, Kalyani Subra

But had to hurry back.  Baldwyn had gone to the SF Zoo with his family, Joe, who stopped at 50k and was recording finish times at the 50k mark, came back and I drove home, with only 17 minutes to shower, dress and leave again with my wife to BART to a friend's wedding reception (the wedding happened in Taiwan.)

The hors d'oeuvres at the reception hit the spot, and I think I managed to scarf 31+ to keep the mouthful to mile ratio above 0.5.  The servers were cool about letting me eat.  Then I could drink.  Glad I was aggressive about the foraging because dinner didn't come until after 9:30.  At least there are some things I'm still good at.....

Sunday returning from my son's birthday pony party, I went to pick up some milk at Trader Joe's, on a whim grabbed a bargain bottle of Australian Shiraz to see if it was good.  At checkout, the guy asked to see my ID, I thought initially to verify my credit card.  "I'm 43, born in 1967, I have a few grey hairs, see?" I told him lifting my cap.  He let it slide (I didn't have my wallet on me.)   Should this make me happy?  No! I'd rather have a head full of grey hair and be able to cut my PR by 21 minutes than be definitely slower while looking possibly under 21.
race website on
RD Rajeev Patel's Ruth Anderson race blog (includes links to other race reports)
results with lap splits

Saturday, May 8, 2010

My 2010 Quicksilver 50 Mile Unrun

As I write this, the lead runners in this year's Quicksilver 50 mile run are heading back from the Sierra Azul aid station and turnaround (I think mile 43) toward the finish to enjoy the great post-race barbecue.  I ran this race 4 straight years 2006-2009, but today the morning was spent finishing up dispositioning and charting on my last patients on my overnight and then 4 hours at my kids' preschool fulfilling some of my yearly work commitment requirement thing.  I've never gone to this work party they hold every spring because I either run Miwok or Quicksilver.  My mandatory slave labor during my first time at the spring work party was spent wiping down shelves (not too painful) and all the the wooden and plastic teaching aid toys on those shelves, most involving many small parts (very painful).  Plus the varnish stuff seeped through the latex gloves the school director provided so my hands burn.  Then I painted shelves.  Here is a staged shot of me in action taken by Christie, another parent who wiped with me all morning.  Check out my 2008 Sportiva Mountain Running jacket.  This needs to be put on the cover of UltraRunning.

I would like to mention that I didn't manage to fall asleep last evening before my overnight shift, so I have gotten maybe 4 1/2 hours of sleep since Thursday morning after a sleep deficit before that.  So, this is great training for my next 100 mile run, coming up really soon.  It is amazing I can type this.

By the way, I wanted to mention that I almost finished my Ruth Anderson 100k report soon after I finished the race, but my schedule got really crazy after that, including all these training runs I managed to fit in in between all this other stuff.  I was going to blog about these runs and fitting them into my hectic schedule, but the schedule stayed too filled for me to even do that.  Funny how that works.

By the way, I am running for the Quicksilver team in the PAUSATF Ultra Grand Prix.  But even if I weren't, I think I will go back to running the Quicksilver 50 mile every year.

my 2008 QS report (part of my Miwok-Quicksilver-Ohlone triple)
my 2009 QS report