Saturday, February 16, 2008

PCTR Sequoia 30K - Oakland, CA

I drove up to Oakland intending to do the 50K, despite my ongoing calf woes. Due to various toepad soreness the previous week, I switched to heavier shoes to protect my already sore feet from downhill rocks. This would turn out to be a mistake.


The race started at 8:30. I ran out a bit behind the lead pack. I hit the first aid station at Moon Gate at 23 minutes. Then up Tres Sendas to the French Trail. Once French Trail hit Toyon Trail a spur started. I hit this intersection right at the one hour mark.


Then down all the way to Canyon Meadow and the aid station. I was getting a hot spot from the rarely worn Terrocs. I got a couple bandaids from Bryan Wyatt. I also chatted with Garett Graubins who I had corresponded with frequently when he was editor of Trail Runner Magazine, and I was successfully pursuing winner of the Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series in 2006, but had never met.

On the way up I realized I was still feeling the hotspot despite the bandaids. So I decided to just do the 30K today. After climbing the spur I hit the West Ridge Trail (also site of the Epiphany Ultra and the Skyline 50K and the Golden Hills Trail Marathon, all of which I've done recently) moving at a good clip and encouraging all the 20Kers that I was now passing. I bombed down the last three miles from Moon Gate almost catching Ray Sanchez who was continuing on for the 50K. I finished in 2:48, eighth overall and second master.

I left to go meet Liz early for a day of shopping at Santana Row.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Los Gatos Fatass Marathon aka the Overgrown Fatass Results and Race Report

12K Distance

  1. Wendy Bernal - 1:25:15
  2. Jenny Chang - 2:00:00
  3. Sanjeev Mishra - 2:00:00
  4. Marco Garcia - 2:18
  5. Charles Degraw- 2:18
  6. Eleanor - 2:20

Half Marathon (22K) Distance

  1. Lourdes Cardona - 2:40
  2. Frank Kochinke - 2:40
  3. Tony Nguyen - 3:26 ** bonus miles

Marathon Distance

  1. Sean Lang - 4:22:25
  2. Jim Normile - 4:33:26
  3. Haiming Yu - 4:50
  4. Joe Murphy - 4:53
  5. Kyle Dando - 4:45.06
  6. Patrick Shuck - 4:56:40
  7. Mike Schuck- 4:58:06
  8. Jim Magill - 5:02
  9. Laura Murphy - 5:09
  10. Adam Blum - 5:14:59
  11. Vladimir Gusiatnikov - 5:20:41
  12. Keith Lubliner - 5:22
  13. Brian Hawkinson - 5:47 ** bonus mile!
  14. Christine Miller - 6:31
  15. Tom Kaisersatt - 7:09

I posted a few weeks back about my rationale of starting this race. Note that there is a new name. The race grew faster than I expected. Plus its run on the "Overgrown Trail" in Los Gatos. Hence its now (and in perpetuity) The Overgrown Fatass. (I don't know why I didn't think of this name before). It runs from downtown Los Gatos, at the Jones Trailhead in Novitiate Park, up Jones trail, to Alma Bridge Road, to the Overgrown (Limekiln) Trail. Then it climbs over 2000 feet on Limekiln Trail to the top of Mt. Sombroso. From there runners bomb down Woods TRail to Hicks Road and the border of Quicksilver Almaden Park. Returning back up the mountain, runners retrace their steps back to the Jones Trailhead. According to Keith Lubliner there is 5960 feet of climbing. I have seen 50Ks with more elevation change, but no marathons. Next year I am going to add a dogleg on Barlow Road towards the top of Mt. Umunhum to make it a 50K. My hope is to get the total climbing above 7000 feet.

The day before the race was sunny and actually a bit on the hot side. Luckily Sunday morning was still sunny, but now a bit chilly. Good running weather. I got to the Jones Trailhead with a vat of coffee, bagels and a case of water for the participants (yes, its supposed to a minimalist fatass race, but I like to underpromise and overdeliver). I met Haiming Yu around 8am as he headed out to do a 5 mile "warmup". As 9am approached, over twenty people were there at the start. I issued the fairly simple race instructions and sent the runners off at 9am exactly.

I took it easy at the start and tried to chat with each and every participant as we headed up Jones Trail. To my surprise I felt good despite my gimpy calf, and I worked my way to the very front where Sean Lang was setting the pace. Sean and I would run together for quite a ways. As we came to the top of Jones Trail, Jim Normile bombed down in front of us (as is his wont in many races). We reached Alma Bridge road and turned left where I had placed pink ribbons the day before. We then had about half a mile of rollers before reaching Overgrown Trail on the left (also marked with ribbons). Sean, Jim and I turned off the road on the Overgrown trail together. Sean and I pulled away on the uphill. But Jim and Haiming Yu were close behind. Sean and I got to where Overgrown meets Priest Rock and the water bottles that my friend Laurent had mountain biked up there were still there. We refilled filled our bottles from it, and took a picture.


Then onward and upward alongside the power poles, to the top of the mountain. After another half mile Haiming caught up to us and we ran together for a bit.


As we approached the turnoff to Kennedy near the peak, Kyle Dando caught up. Here's Kyle and Sean at the Kennedy Road intersection where Woods Trail starts, with Mt. Umunhum showing up in the background.


After we reached the highest point we started the steep decline down Woods Trail to Hicks. Sean eventually pulled ahead and I let him go. Jim Normile caught up as well as he excels at the descents and he and I ran together for a bit. When Kyle Dando came up Kyle and I ran together for a bit and caught up with Sean, before Jim passed all of us. Jim came in to the turnaround first, with Kyle, Sean and I shortly afterwards.


Brian Moore and Pavan were volunteering to give aid at the turnaround on Hicks. They were there with sports drink, water and chips stacked up on Brian's car trunk. This was a huge help! We couldn't have done it without those guys.

Sean and I left the aid station around the same time and ran together for a while. But my calf finally started twinging (I was pleasantly surprised that it had taken so long). So I slowed and let him go on ahead. On the grind back up to the top of the mountain, Haiming caught up again. As did the Shucks. As I approached the top my calf wasn't the only issue. I had clearly not brought enough gels. This was a good thing for training as I'm getting my body accustomed to running off of fat stores alone. But its a sure recipe for a slowdown. Thus, on the descent, I was passed by another three runners.

But I still enjoyed myself the whole time on this perfect day for a run. After bombing down for three miles, when I got back to the water stop at the Overgrown-Priest Rock intersection there was no water left, and bottles were missing. Clearly passersby must have been grabbing bottles. This surprised me. Next year, we need to have a dedicated aid volunteer at that spot. I finish bombing down the trail, stopping mountain bikers for water every once in a while. This got me back to Alma Bridge Road without dying from dehydration. Then back up the Jones Trail climb and back to the Novitiate Park/Jones Trailhead. I finished in 5:14:59.

Fifteen runners did the full marathon distance. The total distance turned out to be 26.6 miles with 5960 feet of climbing (thanks for the stats Vladimir). Sean Lang (who I always seem to run a few minutes behind at local ultras) won the race in 4:22.

Runners hung around in the perfect weather, watching other finishers, quaffing IPAs and raving about the beauty and challenge of the course. Despite its bootleg origins (and the assembled motley crew of sweaty beer drinking runners), the Park Rangers were friendly and helpful and even picked up bottles from the unattended aid stations before I could retrieve them. Amazing.

Again, thanks very much to Pavan Ramarapu, Brian Moore, Laurent Pfertzel, Wendy Bernal and Charles DeGraw for manning and stocking the aid stations and the finish.

Next year’s Overgrown Fatass will have a 50K option as well with even more climbing. If we climb Bald Mountain in the process it will of course be the Overgrown-Bald Fatass.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Woodside 50K - Woodside, CA

I love running the trails of Huddart Park in Woodside, one of my favorite training sites. Also, I won the short course there a few times as well. So, despite my injured calf, I decided to run this race anyway, treating it as a training run. Little did I know that I would more than get my money's worth as it turned into a 40 mile training run.

The sky was ominously cloudy, but it wasn't raining at the start as Wendell issued his announcements.


I took it easy at the start and chatted a bit with Chuck Wilson and his girlfriend Christine as we ran out Richards Road.


Then moving up the familiar climb of Chapparal and Crystal Springs to the Skyline Trail I ran with Taylor Valentino for a while. I hit the Kings Mountain aid station at mile 5 around 1 hour and, in the spirit of a training run, chatted with the heroic volunteers there for a bit.


From there, we continued on the rolling Skyline Trail to the Bear Gulch aid station. We continued on Skyline Trail, then down Alambique to the Bear Gulch trail, which was supposed to start a loop. However, I missed the turn for Redwood Trail which would take us back. Eventually I figured out that I had gone too far, and attempted to take some turns to get back. I spent about 90 minutes (conservatively I'm guessing 9 miles) on this escapade before finally finding the orange ribbons again.

At this point I fell in with Tom Kaisersatt who supplied me with some much needed snacks (potstickers yum!) Tom's good spirits buoyed mine, quite demoralized by the sidetrip. We stuck together for the next two aid stations.

But once we hit Chinquapin trail I had to have the fun of bombing down the hill. I ended up finishing around 7:23, something close to last. Apparently Wendell can't mark bonus miles as he once did or it would be marked as 63km.

I think this will turn out to be a great training run for several early season 50 milers that I'm committed to.