Friday, April 08, 2011

Headlands 50

Last Weekend… Janet, Abe and I went to the Marin Headlands and ran our very own 50 miler. We were registered to run Lake Sonoma 50, but it got cancelled. They said it was the weather, I was disappointed, and apparently the Lake Sonoma Gods were not going to have us run that race this year. In any event, we were pissed. What to do? What to do? Within an hour of the cancellation we had plans... We planned our “un_Sonoma” trail run. Abe, Janet and I decided to go run 50 miles in the Marin Headlands. We followed the course I know well from Headlands 100.

If you want to see the course, click on the picture above, this is a link to a google flyover.. Pretty impressive..

This course is pretty steep, we were planning to do 2 - 25 mile loops “washer machine” style (reverse direction each lap). Each lap consisted of approximately 5000 feet of elevation gain, which is definitely a challenging course.

Got up really early and after a quick stop at Starbucks, I was on my way to pick up Janet. Like always she was ready to go and excited about this little adventure of ours. This time, we picked our third amigo, Abe. He is currently training for WS100 so he was motivated to get this 50 under his belt.. The weather was awesome, it promised to be a great day.

Nutrition prepared the day before, GU, coke, bananas, chips, coffee, avocados, canned fruit, pickles, water and power juice.

Abe an I after the first 8 miles.. ready to tackle the next 42

We arrived to Tennessee Valley and got our gear ready, we knew there was a race that particular day so we tried to stay away from the area and took the smaller loop first, an 8 mile loop. We did it no time, and just like that we were back at Tennessee valley. We refilled our bottles, took some nutrition, I thought I forgotten my second water bottle, so I got my hydrapck filled with water and electrolytes and we were in our way for the first 17 mile loop. The day was glorious… it was beginning to get a bit hot. And it had been raining for a while so there were many areas where the water had accumulated and the only way around it was to run through it… which we did. Of course this might be horrible for blisters, but I was lucky and did not get one until the end of the day.

Abe feet after finishing the run... ha!

We had been running for 20 miles+ and all of the sudden I started to feel my plantar fasciitis acting up, I adjusted my stride, and just like that, it was gone. I forgot all about it until the end of the day. Janet asked me for ibuprofen and I swore I had some, but couldn’t find it. We ran for a mile or so then I remembered that I might had some in my hydrapack, I slowed down, took my hydrapack off and found the little plastic bag with ibuprofen and salt pills… score!!. She took some, I took some and we were rejuvenated. We came back to the car, mile 25 or so and ate in earnest.

I had brought pickles, coke, avocado, tortilla chips, gels, larabars, bananas, oranges, and I cannot believe I was eating all of it. I even drank the pickle juice Abe left for me. J We ate plenty and after we were satisfied, we took off for the next 17 mile loop in opposite direction. There are a couple of sections in the loop that are pretty steep. They are murderous on your quads coming down, and horrendously hard and demoralizing going up. Coming down from SCA trail I realized that one thing I will never be able to do, keep up with Janet on the descents. She is an awesome downhiller. Going downhill form the SCA trail, I felt my left toe slamming against the end of my shoe. I knew that mean trouble, I knew I was probably going to lose a toenail, it was painful and at one time I had to stop for a few seconds because the pain was really sharp. I had taken ibuprofen earlier, so I didn’t want to take anymore, but the pain was really bad so I decided to take another dosage I took it and once it kicked in, I could run with no problem. Janet and I kept the same pace; Abe on the other hand was always going ahead and then running back to get us. He didn’t seem to have any issues… I guess, I am just getting old.

The downhills were really hard on my poor feet... :(

And then after 17 miles we were back in the car again. This was a very short break; just enough to get our lights, eat some and get ready with the night gear including a long sleeve or something else. We also ate some more. The last 8 miles were glorious. Simply because we got to see the sunset form the mountain, it is an amazing sight. We also got to hear the crash of the sea and I realized once again how lucky I am of being able to be there and having such wonderful friends. Definitely something we all should experience.

People asked me what do you do and talk during such a long run, Janet and I know each other pretty well by now. Obviously I couldn’t repeat many of the things we have shared during these trail runs; it is great to have a friend whose interest aligns with yours so intimately.

Janet at mile... look at that big smile... I guess we were close to finish.

At the end of the run, we gave each other a hug, changed and when we were about to get ready to go, I realized that the car battery was dead. Yep, there was no way we were going to start it. We were in the middle of nowhere. Two things we were thankful for, a cellphone that had signal and Janet's AAA card. We called the tow-truck and I even took a little nap in the car waiting for it. The tow truck finally arrived, we started the car and we were on our way home. It was a great day... can't wait to do it again.
Now I feel ready for Miwok 100K in three weeks or so... wooohoo!!

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Oakland Marathon

On April 27 I went to Oakland to run the Second Oakland marathon. It has been a while since I ran a road marathon… and I had forgotten how hard they are... ugh!

The day before Rujeko, Jim and I went to get our packets. The drive was hard since Mexico and some other Latin American country were having a soccer match at the Oakland Coliseum, what usually would take about 30 minutes to drive. It actually took around 1 ½ hours. By the time we got to the expo we were already tired and moody. We got out packets, walked around the expo, bought some nutrition and, took a look at some shoes and then we were in our way out. I say we spent about ½ hour at the expo, no more than that. By this time we were already hungry and ready to get something to eat…

We drove back to the city and went to this really cool Italian restaurant. It is a family style... each small plate will serve 3-5 and a large plate will serve 8-10. Can you imagine the size of those suckers? Well, Jim, Rujeko and I decided to get some spaghetti and gnocchi (small servings), but between the three of us, it was pretty much gone pretty fast. We even had room for dessert, cannoli… awesome.

Rujeko and I waiting for our table at the restaurant... ready to carboload.

After a great meal and a good desert, we were ready to get going. We drove to the marina with the idea to take some pictures. You see, I bought a SLR camera a while ago and I have wanted to learn how to take pictures… so having Jim as a teacher was pretty nice. He is a superb picture taker guy.

Learning to use my camera... Look at one of my first attempts. Thank you Jim.

The following day, both Jim and Oliver came to my house at around 5:45 am. We packed my car and were on our way to Oakland. We found parking pretty easy and were ready to start running in no time. It was amazing that I actually found parking pretty nice. This is definitely a good thing about the Oakland marathon; it was easy to find parking. Easy to get to the starting line since there were not that many participants.

The San Carlos Crossfit Endurance Team ready to tackle 26.2 miles of running.. From left to rigth, me, Rujeko, Oliver and Jim

The starting line was fun, the announcer was exciting and then the national anthem, then the countdown and we were off.

And here we goooooo..

I came there with idea of pacing Rujeko to a Boston qualifying marathon of 3:45. Well within the first mile we both agree that it was not going to happen as she was having issues with her tummy. Nevertheless, we actually found a good rhythm and ran without much problem. Interestingly, I found many familiar faces at the run. People that I usually would see at ultras, so it was a real treat to say hello to friends that I only see at ultras

What I like about the Oakland marathon was the fact that I got to see a different part of Oakland. This place is really nice and most importantly, people were really nice too. They were genuinely happy to see us there. And I have never seen so many police officers in one race, and they were very friendly and cheering people too. It was simply awesome; I came out with a different vibe about Oakland. I think I will make this marathon an every year affair from now on...

The first half of this marathon is pretty hilly, the hilly part ended in a pretty steep hill. I mean pretty steep for a regular marathon. The last downhill was pretty murderous, kind of remind me of some ultras I have run, but in an ultra, those are expected… in a regular marathon? No bueno… And when you are trying to maintain a pace, that freaking downhill trashed my quads. I just kept going, hoping that I will not go facedown, as it was pretty easy to do. After this murderous downhill about mile 10, -11, the course leveled up and it was mostly flat.

The weather was glorious; I truly believed that the weather wasn’t that bad, it was just perfect to run 26.2 miles. I was feeling pretty good, Rujeko on the other hand was having some stomach issues thus we fell out of pace within the first mile. She is a trooper regardless and I felt I did my work as she kept saying, “If you were not here, I would have stop by now”. So I did my job, I kept her positive and most importantly, kept her moving. This is our first marathon together and we did not kill each other… So that is a good thing.

Obligatory finisher picture...

After the race we met with fellow runners, Oliver and Jim and headed out to San Francisco to enjoy a very “healthy” breakfast... It was awesome...

This was by far one of the best marathons I have run, not because I did it in certain time, or because I felt good or anything. It was great because of the company. Rujeko, despite her stomach issues, did great and I am glad she convinced me to do this with her. We are definitely coming back to Oakland next year.

My dear friends and SCCF team members, Oliver and Jim did great as well.. Our next marathon will be at the end of a 2.4 mile swim and 112 mile bike ride... yay!! Bring on the Pain!! ..