Sunday, May 22, 2005

Bishop High Sierra 5/21/05

Bishop, California is a beautiful blend of desert and snow covered mountains. Let me stress the mountain part for a bit. The races start at about 5,000 feet and may get as high as 9,000 feet above sea level. Now let me stress that I live at sea level. Despite that, I wanted to return for my third year of running the 20 mile "fun run" since my lungs would never forgive me if I attempted the 50K or the 50 mile distances. The morning was fairly chilly but the forecast called for a high of 93 F. I braved the start with a minimal amount of clothing thinking it would make me run faster to get warm. Considering the first 11 miles are soft, sandy and uphill, I warmed up faster than a microwave. The races started at 6:00am and once the sun came out, it got hotter than a pubescent boy near the girls' locker room. I could think of a lot more descriptive images to convey just how hot it got, but you probably get the point. I had a bit of a coughing fit as I started climbing but it was probably just the Los Angeles smog leaving my system. The magnificent views of colorful hillsides and the Sierra Nevadas gave me something else to think about between gasps of air. The aid stations were bountiful, in fact the race is basically a connect the dots type event from one cornucopia to the next. There's is absolutely no need to carbo load before this race. Instead, you should save room for loading during the race. As I arrived at the second aid station, I heard one runner behind me actually yell out his demand for chocolate covered strawberries. (Geez, he didn't have to shout, I would've left one for him!) As a female, I feel the sign of any good race is when it is won outright by a female and such was the case in the 50K event. Amy Grafius beat EVERYBODY in 5:15. Not so for my event. I was fifth overall but posted my fastest time on the course in 3:12:06. Must have been the chocolate covered strawberries!

Click here for Bishop High Sierra 20 Mile Race Results

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Malibu Creek Trail Challenge 5/7/05

About 400 people took place in the 14 mile Malibu Creek Trail Challenge on May 7, 2005. There were also about 175 participants in the 4-mile event. The weather conditions were ideal with a cool ocean breeze for much of the race. However, no amount of beautiful skies could help runners up the four-mile cliff known as "The Bulldog" which starts at mile two. As I trotted up this wretched hill, I passed a fellow runner who was wearing something that said "Jesus is my coach" and I thought to myself that even Jesus couldn't help us now - at least not until we got to his front porch located somewhere in the stratosphere at the top of the Bulldog hill.
After the Bulldog hill, the rest of the course consists of gentle sloping uphills with quite a few teeth chattering Kamikaze downhills. Then comes mile 12 - single-track switchbacks climbing up through a hot canyon. Remember how marathoners run into "the wall" around mile 20?
Somewhere around mile 12, I had slowed to such a crawl that it would have been physically impossible for me to "run" into anything, therefore it was "the wall" that actually ran into me.
In retrospect, I must admit that running this particular 14 mile event only six days after completing the Vancouver Marathon was not my most brilliant bit of race planning strategy... However, I actually managed to take four minutes off my Malibu time from last year for fourth place in my division. Naturally, today (Sunday) I've been horizontal on the couch, napping and eagerly awaiting my next dose of Advil.
Local Malibu resident Dale Reicheneder was present to run around his old stomping grounds. He won his division last year, but got fourth in his division this year, likely due to his extreme racing schedule. In his attempt to win a trip to Italy as part of Trail Runner Magazine's Trail Series, Dale seems intent on pushing his body's absolute outer limits. We ran together afterwards for a bit as part of our cool down routine. He mentioned he would be traveling to places like South Carolina, Colorado and Toronto - all within like the next few days as part of his racing quest. Suddenly, my poorly designed racing schedule didn't seem so bad...

Click here for Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series Standings

Click here for Malibu Creek Race Results

Monday, May 02, 2005

Vancouver International Marathon 5/1/05

You know you're in a cool country when the five-dollar bill has hockey players on it. No dead presidents! No Latin! Of course, there is that nationwide hearing loss problem: "eh?" Anyhow, about 15,000 participants were involved in the Vancouver International Marathon on May 1, 2005. Fortunately, about 10,000 did the HALF marathon (7:00am start) and only about 5,000 joined yours truly for the full 26.2 (7:30am start). The weather was a brilliant 15 degrees... Oh, that's Celsius, eh? A few uphills at mile 17 and 24. The only complaint I have is that the full marathon course was interwoven with the half marathon, so sometimes it was crowded and runners had to PAY ATTENTION to signs instructing some participants to turn and others to go straight. These signs were overhead, and I generally prefer to stare at the ground in front of me. Thanks to the race volunteers and their bullhorns for keeping me on course. My new definition of a negative split: You've just run the first half of a marathon on pace for a 3:14:30 finish, but then your physical energy level turns "negative." As the finish clock gets closer, you watch your PR time click by and then your mental energy turns "negative" for starting too fast. But then you celebrate your finish - even if it is six seconds slower than your PR - by having a banana "split" and thus turning a "negative split" into a joyful sugar induced coma. Oh, that must explain why I can't hear so well now, eh?

Final time - 3:20:20 (eighth in division).

Click here for Vancouver Marathon Results

Mile 12