Saturday, April 18, 2015

Form Check

I decided against doing the full marathon in early May. I worked up to 17 miles on my long run, and it just didn't feel good. It stopped being fun. The extra miles of lactic build-up and muscle fatigue just made me think of things I'd rather be doing. eg, as I write this my four year old is nestled in quietly at my shoulder watching me type. Fleeting moments.

Runner's high is available any given moment. These are not.

That escalates my other goal of six tough trail half marathons through the year (elevation changes between 1,700-4,000 ft). Summit Rock last December was the first. The second one is tomorrow on Mt. Diablo.

Some recent running highlights:

  Age-group 4th place, Goonies 10k at Lagoon Valley

Age-group 8th place at Bay Breeze 5k San Leandro. Disney was on hand to promote their new movie.

 Avoided age-group dead last against a smaller, faster field at Lake Chabot Trail Run half. (This race was not part of the six half-marathon series.)
Finishing with the party, mid-pack at Coyote Hills 10k. Not the best pic, but a reminder of the perfect weather we had that late-winter day. Most of the course runs along the Bay, and it was crystal that morning.  

Get hype! Scenes from the Diablo course from earlier training runs.The bottom pic doesn't do the epic vista justice (from Wall Point). Those rock formations are the size of houses, and you can see the trail winding for miles behind you.

Monday, January 19, 2015

... Ready to Hope

When I started running longer distance again last fall, I loosely targeted Brazen's Summit Rock Half-Marathon in the Santa Cruz Mountains in December. The race date coincided with a neighborhood half that I would've otherwise supported (Walnut Creek Half), but its course was underwhelming (up and down the same major throughfares we use everyday).  

But we wants adventure, my precious. To Summit Rock! To dirt trails and dappled sunlight under redwood forest! This was the finish:

The best/worst feeling. This one was tough. To finish, all routes descended a technical single-track that was covered with forest debris from the Great 2014 HellaStorm that past the day before. It was cold and it was wet. And if you took your attention off the trail for a moment, you were a goner. 

In this pic, my left calf was cramping up and the only way I could finish was to keep it extended, limping across the line. I was so tore up, I didn't even notice the guy next to me.

Anyhow. I don't know what I was thinking when I started trail running in late fall with the weather worsening. It's tough to get up for a long training run when it's in the 30s or 40s and the sun stays low on the horizon. But these scenes make it worth it:

 Shell Ridge

Eagle Peak from above Deer Flat, Mt. Diablo

Mt. Diablo and Las Trampas Ridge from Rocky Ridge

 Pt. Pinole eucalyptus grove

Mt. Tam from Pt. Pinole

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Ready to Suffer ...

I would run from sun-up to sun-down if I could.

There are too many smiles in this pic (courtesy of Brazen Racing). I did a pair of Thanksgiving runs hosted by Brazen, a 10K in Point Pinole (above) and a 5K at Quarry Lakes in Fremont. While not among the most spectacular locales in the Bay Area, they still provide a "I-can't-believe-we-live-here" moment.

As a Bay Area transplant, part of the draw of trail running for me is experiencing the natural beauty of the region. (It'd be paradise if the beaches were warmer!) Point Pinole, above, is however almost entirely invasive eucalyptus, giving a weird feeling as if you'd run through a worm-hole and transported to the opposite side of the planet. Imagine if the place was coastal cypress and redwood.

Quarry Lakes below has potential. When the young conifers mature, this place will be quite lovely. Quarry Lakes is also host to Brazen's Western Pacific Marathon (full marathon option available) in May. I think I just might. I don't know if any other flat trail marathon exists so close to home.

Anyhow, I placed 9th in my age division for the Quarry Lakes 5K. I hadn't run for "speed" since junior high school. It felt good to let loose a bit and run over threshold outside of intervals on the gym treadmill. In the future, maybe when the timing and course are right (and I'm injury-free), I'll try more speed work and fast 5Ks. For now, my main goals are 1) a series of hilly trail half-marathons and 2) the full marathon in May.

I've been gushing lately about Brazen Racing's events. They are run so well while still maintaining an indie-like vibe. The events I've attended have had a distinctly East Bay flavor; laid-back with a welcome diverse group of runners; ethnic, age, fitness levels, etc. By all the past race shirts you see at the events, it's clear they have a large, dedicated following.