Friday, August 26, 2011

You better be good to me

So far, this has been a pretty fun week.
On Wed. nights, I usually run with a group from Sports Basement. It's a fun diverse group of runners and while I really enjoy running alone, it's nice to have some company from time to time. After this week's run, there was a Fit Fest, which had about a dozen vendors and snacks and raffles. Raffles are always fun! There were also people there from Rock Tape taping people and people doing ART so I got my hip/leg worked on post run. And who doesn't love snacks?
And free socks?
I did win a raffle, it was a gift bag with a rather interesting array of items, including:
Asics running hat
Saucony tshirt
kid's teko socks (I really wish they fit me)
Rock tape
water bottle
tiny travel locks
comprehensive guide to marine first aid (total odd ball in the bag)
and the crown jewel: a gift certificate for a pair of UGG sneakers.
Now what I REALLY wanted (not that these things weren't awesome) was the steripen water purifier. Anyone who reads my blog knows Loren and I do a lot of hiking and backpacking so this would really come in handy. Well, I didn't win that. I sized up the couple that did win it to see if I could negotiate. I went up to them and asked what they likelyhood was that they would use it. The guy was like probably and the woman was like, why, whatcha got? I said GC for a pair of UGGS. The words weren't even totally out of my mouth and she was like DONE!
SCORE! I was pretty excited about this swap.

Last night was the end of the 12 week race series put on by DSE Runners. It's been a great 12 weeks of running. I've done 10 of the 12 races and have had a blast. Simple, no nonsense running, gotta love it.
Last night was a big turn out, most of the characters were there and a whole new team of HS runners. All I had to do to win my age group for the series was finish.
Last week, I actually had a conversation with Flowy Shorts (I now know her name!). This week, I talked to big legs, she was actually very chatty and had just run the Pike's Peak Marathon.
Before hand, I warmed up for a mile and a half and felt pretty good.
This weeks route was counter-clockwise which is the hillier direction. And the hills come at about 2.5 miles so late into the 4.5 mile loop. I don't like this direction. I had no expectations of PRing. Since missing last week by 1 second, I was bummed we weren't going the faster way.
Shorts and I line up together and ran pretty much the whole race side by side or trading the lead by a few feet. Around mile 2, tattoo guy from last week joined us.
When we got to the hills, the 3 of us were in a nice little pack. I think this really helped me. I'm a good hill runner and often pass people at this point in the race but the 3 of us working together pushed us all along.
With about a quarter mile to go, Shorts gapped me a bit. I had decided I was going to let her go if she went, but I wasn't too far behind. I also gapped Tattoo dude. I knew from last week he didn't have the gear to come get me.
I took peak at my watch and couldn't believe it.
I had a real shot at a PR. I really didn't think it would happen in this direction. I pushed.
While I was a few feet behind Shorts at the finish, I hit my watch at 33:06, a 9 second PR!
I felt slightly like I wanted to throw up but otherwise felt great. HIgh fives all around from Shorts and Tattooed dude.
I'm pretty sure there was a new woman in my AG ahead of me and I was prob. at least 4th. I did, however, pass Legs at mile 2, first time I beat her. Though, come on, she just ran that marathon.
With that, I locked up my age group for the series. I got a very generic medal that says first place, which I love. I love the low keyness of the entire thing.
Now on to the San Jose half in 5 weeks. I may do 1 more race before then to see where I am. It's a flat course, I think sub 1:40 is possible. This is also the LAST Rock n Roll event I do. They're overpriced and no same day # pick up which is a real pain in the ass.

Unless you live under a rock, no doubt you've seen the news of good ol' Irene heading for the East Coast. Even though I'm not there, I've been following news and weather. Be safe over there East Coasters. Batten down NYers, this could be a big one. And for the love of the running gods, stop complaining about the Bronx Half being cancelled and not getting a refund. It's minor in the grand scheme of things. Run now while it's still nice out.

Friday, August 19, 2011

After the boys of summer have gone

Things are coming to an end at Thursday Night at the Races. Here in SF, school has started again. Last night the fast redhead was gone, her cross country practice has probably started again (or she has 15 AP classes to study for). The HS boy's team was no there either. It's just back to the grown ups. There's 1 week of racing left.
There was, however, a new character. Rubber Band Man. He's an older gentleman. He was wearing earbud headphones, and to keep them in place, he has a rubber band wrapped around his head. I can not make this stuff up. Runners are total freaks.
I finally got to see WHO the faster woman in my AG was. I started behind her and she was clearly taking it easy since she wasn't very far ahead of me for most of the race. Flowy shorts was also there.
As we started I knew I just didn't feel like running very hard to I started off easy. I let fast chick go, I didn't try to stay with shorts.
Since this was my 9th week running here, I've gotten to know the course in both directions pretty well. This week was the direction I like, I think it's faster.
Just before mile 3. a guy passed me. A real macho guy. He was in board shorts and a cotton tank top. His arms were covered to the wrist with tattoos and I could see they covered most of his back and chest. I caught him and he would not let me pass, to the point of stepping over so I couldn't pass. I was like, ok, whatever dude and just stayed with him. Right before my garmin hit 4 miles, I did pass him. I knew when I did it would be for good. With a half mile to go I picked up the pace. I didn't want him out sprinting me just on principle. I looked down at my garmin. As I've noted before, I'm old school. Races I care about, the garmin stays at home and I run with a watch. It's just easier for my brain to deal with just the time and hitting lap. For these runs, I wear my garmin, mostly because there are no mile markers, though by now I have a good sense of the course and where I am. I knew that the best I had run this course was the first week, 7:24 pace. My garmin was telling me that's what I was averaging. I didn't know my exact time off the top of my head from that first week. I hit STOP at 33:16. When I got home and looked up my time from week 1, it was 33:15. So close. We'll see what the official time was in a few days.
Tattoo man came in behind me and I gave him a high five. He told me he wanted to stay with me at the end but just couldn't. Mwahahaha.
After the race, I actually talked to flowy shorts and speedy woman. Funny, big legs has not been there for the last 2 weeks.
I'm surprised by my time last night, I did not expect or plan to run as well as I did. This is a good sign, things are coming along. I'm happy about that, I thought I was just stagnating for a while but this seems to be a mini break.
On the first week, I was given #17, I've reused the same number every week. Man, I wish it was 4 since I think I've come in 4th woman more than any other place.
1 more week to go. I'm still leading my age group. This has been a fun series.

Monday, August 15, 2011

We'll get higher and higher Straight up we'll climb

Update on the lost day hikers from last week: Ok, I don't have one. I'm sure they got out, I'm just waiting for them to mail me back my stuff.
My training week the week of the hike was thrown off a bit because well, we were in the woods. I had done my long run before leaving and I was surprisingly sore when I got back. It threw a wrench in the start of last week. Though I figure 15+ miles of strenuous backpacking counts for something. Seriously, my calfs were oddly sore. I expected my hips to be sore, I haven't carried a pack in a while, but the calf soreness was a surprise. It left me shuffling my week around.
I blew off my planned Monday speedwork and took the day off from running. Tues. I did a recovery run. I was on the fence about Thurs. night's race. I was thinking about doing a 10k on Sat, mostly because it's called The Big Gay 10k. Since I wasn't feeling like I could really race it well, I decided to skip it. I did race on Thurs. I wasn't out there giving the effort I usually do but was surprised I finished in about the same time. I also wore my HR monitor, which I usually don't do. I averaged 175, which is a tick higher than I would be for a tempo run so that's all good.
This week I was 4th and 1st in my AG. The girl who has won ever week she's run is 16. I swear she shows up 2 minutes before the start, no warm up and churns out 6:30s. By the time I'm done she's gone. I imagine her mom waiting for her in the car, waiting to whisk her off to her next activity.
The last few weeks a group of HS boys have been showing up as well. It's very cute to watch them do all their drills together before the race. It's also very satisfying to pass most of them by mile 3 since they go out way too fast.
2 weeks of racing left!

In other news, Loren and I are plotting out more high points. Our plan this summer was to do Rainier (which Loren's done a few times already). We're lucky that Loren has a friend who is a professional guide and could walk up that mountain in her sleep. She has offered to take us up. With the move and everything, time is getting short for this season. We decided to put it off to next summer. I'm bummed but this will give me lots of time to get in shape specifically for that. We're also planning on doing Hood next summer with the High Pointers when they have their annual convention which will be in OR. (yes there is a club, yes we are members, yes Loren is mildly embarrassed by this). We still have some serious peaks to hit. WY and MT are very serious multi-day treks/climbs. ID has something called Chicken Out Ridge that has turned around more than a few very serious hikers, to say nothing of AK. We're hoping to take a weekend in Sept. to do either AZ or ID, both are day hikes. We are planning a Mid-Western trifecta this fall, going or MN, MI, and WI. So Midwesterners, be warned! We may be heading your way!

Monday, August 8, 2011

They'll have to make the best of things, It's an uphill climb

No Thursday night race report for last Thurs. Loren and I had tickets for the Giants/Phillies game so no racing for me. I checked the overall standings for the series and I have a thin lead for my age group. 3 weeks to go! It's been a fun series.

This weekend, we went on our first backpacking adventure since moving. This would be Bea's, our dog, first backpacking trip. We've gone car camping and hiking with her but this was new.
Friday afternoon, we headed up to the Snow Mountain area of Medocino National Forest for the weekend. We started out with some less than wonderful google map directions to get to the ranger station for a more detailed map. We hit the trail head at 4:30, later than expected.
Friday evening was our day of dumb. Nothing terrible happened, things just didn't go as planned. We hiked a bit further than expected up a really really steep trail with lots of switch backs. Bea was game. The ranger we spoke to hadn't really had a trail report for where we were going for about a month. There was less water than expected. Less being almost none. We took a trail in a different direction than our overall plan to get water. We still had about a liter, but for 2 people and a dog. more would have been better.
We found a very nice camping area at another trail head. It was clear no one had been here for months. Apparently the road leading up to this trail head isn't passable, leaving it unused. It's really too bad, it's an awesome camping area. We followed the map to where a spring should have been. It was a bit of a hunt. Then, there in a field, was a bathtub. No really. LIke an old clawfoot tub someone dragged up there. There was a hose coming out of it but no water. I guess in the spring, when the snow is melting of the mountain, there is a lot of water. For now, there was a trickle running down hill. It wasn't great, but it was enough for the night.
While it was clear no one had been up here in a while, a ranger did stop to talk to us as we were getting ready to hike in. He told us to be on the look out for growers (people go up into the forrest to grow weed). He said they wouldn't look like hikers, they would usually be alone and not carrying anything. I find it hard to believe people would hump all the way out there empty handed but I guess they have some nice set ups deep in the woods. I can understand why people would grow up there, everything grows up there. During our conversation, he said he didn't mind the growing so much as the pesticides which were killing other plants and trees and starting to kill the wild life. I said they could really use the organic label as a marketing tool if they stopped using pesticides. He chuckled, shook his head and said "yea, I really can't say anything about that".
By the time we got camp set up and ate, we were in the dark and pretty pooped. Even though Bea had been camping once before, she got a little freaked out if one of us went off to do some sorta chore that require breaking the pack up. For the first night and most the next day, we did everything together which could get to be a pain.
Once in the tent, we came up with a plan for the next day. We knew there was water where we were, but it sucked. We would hit the next trail split, and decide if we should ditch our packs, day hike for a while, then hike out or bring our packs and find a nice camping area along the trail. We ended up with option 2.
The trail we were on was 2 miles long then would split into a few different trails. At the juncture, there was an awesome spring. We refilled all our bottles, ditched our big packs, packed up a day pack, and went for a few more miles up the trail.
It was beautiful, lots of wild flowers and huge trees, old burnt out trees from a 1987 fire. It was getting warm and we were at about 6500'.
As the day went on, it was clear Bea was hot. She started running from shady patch to shady patch, sitting down every once in a while. We'd let her sit in a shaded area for a while then move on. This was a lot for her.
We got back to the site where we dropped our stuff, set up the tent, which bea could not wait to get in, and spend the afternoon lounging about, playing cards, snacking. The dog pretty much slept.
After a few hours, we went to scout a better campsite for the night.
In the back country, there really aren't campgrounds. Where we were for the afternoon was clearly a set camp, but other areas campers aren't suppose leave fire rings or make it seem like people have been there. But they do, which is ok by me, it makes it easier when the next person shows up as long as the area isn't trashed. At this point, we hadn't seen another person since we got on the trail.
We found an awesome spot. Tucked in behind some big trees off the trail, it had a fire ring, a cozy little spot shaded by some trees for our tent, and an AMAZING view.

Before we could even set up the tent, Bea wanted to be in it. She was so tired she was giving up on caring if one of us went off.
I decided to go fetch water as Loren finished up setting up camp, this way it would be done and we wouldn't have to back track on the way out the next day.
I'm walking down to the creak having a hippie moment in nature, enjoying the few minutes alone, the quiet, thinking about how I haven't seen anyone else.
And then
I see someone else.
A few someones actually, a youngish man and woman and their dog. They're right by the trail junction where the water is. I know just by looking at them they're lost. They're both in shorts, t-shirts, and sneakers.
I had looked at the map pretty closely and several times, I knew where all the trails in the area were. Loren and I had been hanging out in the same area for hours, we would have seen them had they come this way. There was another trail head much further north. I quickly figured that's where they came from. They were WAY off from where they wanted to be.
This isn't like a national park where rangers are patrolling the trails. National forests are more like, ok, here's a trail, here's a mark on a map where there's water, there are some established campground out there but you're not going to find much. HAVE FUN! And it is fun, until you're lost and have no idea where you should be going and it's 6:30PM. This can and does happen as demonstrated by the couple I just ran into.
We talked for a few minutes to try and determine where they were and where they went wrong, but they didn't have a map. I brought them back to our camp. Loren and Bea were both surprised to see other people. Bea was very surprised and not too happy to see another dog.
We figured out where they missed their turn around point, which was several miles away. Which was several miles away from the trail head where they parked. I gave them our map of the area, as we would be hiking out the way we came in in the morning and we were pretty familiar with where we were going. There was only 1 turn off to our trail and we had already passed it 3 times. We also gave them a headlamp since they had a dying flashlight, some food, and the space blanket out of our first aid kit. They had about 7 miles of hiking to go and about 2.5 hours of day light at most. I think they'd make it out, it just wasn't going to be a whole lotta fun.
My public service announcement for the day: if you go out hiking someplace unfamiliar, bring a map, bring water, bring snacks, something warms, a light, and let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back. It really doesn't take much to go from, oh lovely walk in the woods, to oh crap I'm stuck and drinking my own pee.
After our new friends were on our way, we settled in for the night, falling asleep before it was even totally dark. I wanted to get up early and head out before the heat of the day.
We all fell right to sleep. Some point during the night, I woke up to coyotes singing somewhere out in the woods. Such a cool cool sound.
The next morning we were on the trail by 7:20AM. It was a lovely morning and the hike out was mostly downhill. I hadn't realized just how steep those switchbacks were until we went down them.
Half way down the trail, we had our 2nd human interaction. We ran into a young guy with a big pack, he was headed out for 5-6 days. We gave him the lowdown on the water situation and good camping areas and we were all on our way.
Bea got some of her energy back for the hike out. There were squirrels and chippies all over making her totally crazy.
Once we hit our car though, she was in the back seat and sound asleep. She slept the whole way home. This trip took a lot out of her! I think it'll be a couple of days before she's back up to her normal energy levels.
On our way out, we stopped by the ranger station to tell them about the folks we saw, just it case. I didn't think to give them my # so we'd know if they got out. The ranger thanked us and said, well, this is more information than we usually have. Last time someone got lost out there they just sat on a rock until we found them. Im pretty sure they made it out ok.

I was due to do a speed workout today. But ya know what? My ass is sore and my calves are killing me which I'm a little surprised by. I'll either do a short recovery run or take the day off. Taking the day off is really winning in my head at the moment.

Monday, August 1, 2011

These are the people in your neighborhood

After 22 years of living in NYC and many of them as a runner, I got to know some real characters. NYC is a huge huge HUGE running city. Central Park is like the world's biggest track. I miss it more than anything in NYC. There were people I'd see all the time. Like this woman who had such a strangle gait, like every step was a struggle. I do think she has a muscular or nerve problem. I would see her everywhere, no matter what time of day or where I was running. Then there's the time I was running with my friend Ishii who is friendly to everyone. We ran pass a guy and Ishii smiled and said hi, he smiled and said hi in return. She says to me "he looks familiar, I think maybe I met him at the club". Me: "Ishii, he looks familiar because he's Anthony Edwards". So yes, there are celebrity runner sightings as well.
Then there's the local hall of fame of characters. NYers, I'm sure you'll recognize some of these favorites: Old Asian man with bells, Crazy old tattoo lady (who I think may also be known as the dinosaur), Ginny (those not familiar with her by that name may also know her as shitty pants), and one of my personal faves, the older black woman who more shuffles than runs. She's in her 70s I'm sure. A few years ago, I was working at a XC race the week after the marathon. There she was brining up the rear, running with her marathon medal on. I always made a point of saying hello to her when I saw her in the park. She would always say hello back and tell me I was looking strong or running beautifully. Good for the ego for sure.
Now I'm in a new city. So far my running has been more spread out and I haven't gotten to know all the characters yet. Doing the Thursday night race series I am coming up with a few. My new cast of characters include: The redhead (really fast HS girl, wins all the time) Mr 200 (ran his 200th marathon yesterday) Flowy shorts (we go neck and neck a lot) Crutches (the guy who was doing the races on crutches for the first few weeks. Who ran sub 3 yesterday). And my biggest character of all who goes by many names. My mom called her Blonde Pony tail when she was here visiting. I call her Big Legs. From her build I thought she was a triathlete but it turns out she's a body builder. She's always just ahead of me every week and she has never spoken to me. She's one of those women, one of those women who make me want to bang my head against a wall. I see her talk to all the men, and rarely any women, unless they are a lot slower than her. What is that all about? I think the next race I'm just going to go introduce myself to her, mostly because I think it will be unsettling for her.
Anyway this last week's race brought me 4th woman and 1st age group. Oddly, I was the only one in my age group. The turn out was smaller than usual due to the SF marathon being on Sunday.
Speaking of the SF marathon, I went and cheered at mile 22 with the folks from Sports Basement. I run with them on Wed. evenings and they're a fun crowd. There were about 7 people I knew from NYC running so it was a good spot to try and see everyone (I caught about 5 of them). I also saw some of my new SF characters: Mr. 200, crutches (I was really amazed how fast he was running), another fast woman from Thursday night. She was a pace leader. For the 3:10 group. That's impressive.
A shout out to Cenk, who graciously tried to pace me in the Brooklyn Half, PRed on this hilly course. So congrats to you my friend! And no tears this time! None that I saw anyway.
I am ramping up my training for the San Jose half and that is going well. I'm about to head out for a nice tempoish run, though my ass feels like a cinder block from cheering for 4 hours yesterday. Cheering is hard work I tell ya!