Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Wrap-up

Hey, look - it's the end of the year. For a running blogger, that apparently means an end-of-the-year post. Looks like I did one last year about this time as well.

It was kind of a roller-coaster year for me. I had just come off of a couple of good years, 2008 and 2009, but it looks like the end of 2009 and the first couple months of 2010 were kind of rough. I honestly don't remember why that was, though. Sometimes the motivation is just not there, I guess.

Here's a chart of my mileage for 2010:



Like I said, the year started slow, then picked up a bit when I began a solid streak in May/June. I was going to go for 100 days, but got injured a couple weeks before the TRT 50K, then had to drop out of that. Managed a bit of training before the Tahoe Marathon, which was a sufferfest, then barely trained for the Tough Mudder in October. Managed to get fairly serious since then, sticking to a couple of training plans up until the flu hit me the week of Christmas. Just getting over that now, and I think I'll be ready to get out for a run again on the first of January.

What else happened in 2010? Twenty-two races this year, down from twenty-five last year. Two of those were my first multi-stage relays, though, the Reno/Tahoe Odyssey and the Hood to Coast. Great fun, both of them, and I hope I can at least do the Odyssey next year - getting up to Portland turned into a bit much of a time/money investment for me.

NO PRs this year. I haven't been running long enough for that to happen. I think there's still room for improvement in all distances for me. Guess I'll have to work on that for next year. Don't want too many stale PRs sitting around...

Here's a funny bit of trivia - I had 3 (actually, 4) races this year where my bib number was 63. That was my team number at the Reno/Tahoe Odyssey, for the first one. Then I was given bib 63 at the Cold Turkey 4 miler in Carson City, the first race in the Winter Trail Series down there. They had us keep the bibs for the whole series, so I wore it again for the Running With Rudolph trail 10K. And for the Sparks Turkey Trot, I also ended up with 63. Kind of funny. New lucky number, though? Don't think so...

So my grand total of miles for the year was 906. Not the 1000 that I've tried to get to the last few years, but I'm not disappointed or anything. I feel like I'm in a good place now to get some good training and racing in next year, so I won't worry about what happened in 2010 any more. Looking forward here.

As with this year, I don't think I'll post any goals or plans. I have a few things kicking around, and if I feel the need, I'll put them out there. But for now they feel comfortable in my head.

(In other stats, I also had a good reading year. 130 books read in 2010. Just barely over last year's total. And my other hobby, baking, has been productive as well. Learned how to make bombes just recently - molded cakes filled with mousse and glazed with ganache. And my first ever macaroons are waiting to be frosted on the oven right now.)


(As requested, a photo of a bombe. This one is chocolate cake,filled with raspberry-white chocolate mousse, covered in dark chocolate ganache and drizzled with white chocolate.)

Hope everyone has a fun, safe and healthy 2011. Keep running!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Favorite Running Photo of 2010

Inspired by a post on Coach Jenny's blog at runnersworld.com, I decided to look through my photos from 2010 and see if I could come up with a favorite for the year. Many of the pics from the Fall Colors Half Marathon were tempting, as were any of them that included members of Team Library Dork. In the end, though - and despite the fact that it was one of my worst races in memory - I had to choose this one, from the Lake Tahoe Marathon. The calm, cool early miles by the lake are always sooo nice...

Friday, December 17, 2010

More Contests

Yikes - another amazing contest over at Running and Rambling. Donald's giving away three pairs of New Balance MT101s, one of the most talked about lightweight trail shoes out there!. Take a look!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Trails: Keystone Canyon and Evans Creek Canyon

Living in Northwest Reno, we're lucky to have a couple of classic Reno trails right out our back door. The trail up Keystone Canyon was introduced to me as an old favorite when I first moved here 13 years ago, and the part of Rancho San Rafael extending up Evans Creek Canyon has been very nicely developed during my time here. These trails have of course changed over time - sections wash out, abandoned cars appear and disappear, new improvements are made - but they remain popular for their accessibility, challenge and the access they offer to even more trails on the flanks of Peavine Peak.

In order to make a loop out of the two canyons, I used to run along McCarran Blvd. from the bottom of Evans Creek Canyon to Keystone Canyon. Within the last few years, though, a connecting trail has been built - called, plainly, the Rancho Connector. It allows you to stay on singletrack for almost the whole loop between the canyons - about six and a half miles, depending on your exact route.

So, here I'm going to lead you through the route that I take. There are many different ways you can run these trails; this just happens to be the way that I prefer it. I like to go up Keystone Canyon because I find it a little easier climb than up Evans Creek, but I know a lot of people like to do it the other way. And there are trails criscrossing the whole area - I'm sure some of them are wonderful, but I've just stayed on ones that I like and am familiar with.

So, here's a basic overview of my route. For a zoomable map, visit the Garmin Connect site.



And an elevation profile:



The trailhead is just off the parking lot for the softball fields on the northwest corner of the intersection of North Virginia and McCarran. This is where the disc golf course begins and ends as well; depending on the time of day you may need to dodge a few discs.



You quickly head past the Basque Sheepherder's monument:



before heading downhill and through the edge of a marked nature trail. After crossing what's left of Evans Creek, you'll veer to the left toward a house on the hill before coming to a sign for the Rancho Connector that I failed to get a picture of. Climbing uphill through some long switchbacks, a look behind you will take in the monument and the parking lot where you left your car:



The trail parallels McCarran Boulevard heading west for awhile, climbing up to a shoulder and leveling out for awhile, with views like this:



It's not too long, though, before you're looking up Keystone Canyon, about ready to drop down a couple switchbacks and start climbing up it:



It's a about a mile and a half climb up Keystone Canyon, but the terrain changes enough that it doesn't get boring. Through tunnels of bushes, on sidehills, and winding through rocky bits like this:



There's a short section of dirt road, which you hop back off of onto some more singletrack, and the a good goal comes into view: the radio towers.



After cresting the hill and dropping down to another dirt road, we'll turn right. More singletrack continues to the left, pretty much indefinitely into the Peavine hills, but today we're heading up toward the end of Hoge Road and then up the hill to the right:



Before the top of this hill, there's a singletrack trail branching off to the left. This is the one I like to take, because this is what greets you after the climb:



A little hazy down there in town, but beautiful up here.

At this point the trail starts to get a bit hazy itself. If you stay by the line of telephone poles and to the right of a big grouping of rocks, though, you'll soon be on track and heading eastish towards the top of Evans Creek Canyon.



A last couple of rocky climbs and the trail turns right for some long switchbacks down to Evans Creek. A hairpin turn near a housing development sends you flying into Evans Creek Canyon itself. There are trails on both sides of the canyon, but I usually stay on the right (west) side on the way down - here's what it looks like from there.



At one point, the trail dips back down near the creek, and you can choose to cross it and take the east side trail back in. I usually opt to take "Old Miners" for a little rocky climb out.



This section takes you just below the UNR "N" on the side of the hill, then back a nice downhill to where you first crossed the creek. Shouldn't be hard now to make your way past the Basque Monument, dodging frisbees, back to your car.

Hope everyone enjoys their runs out ther, and I hpoe to see more and more folks ou on the trails!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Running with Rudolph Trail 10K

There had been some threatening weather reports over the last couple days, so I packed a lot of different layers to head to Carson city for the Running with Rudolph 10K this morning, part of the Winter Trail Series put on by Ascent Physical Therapy. By the time I got down there, though, it was shaping up to be a beautiful morning. Standing around the start area, my hands were a little cold, but I knew they'd warm up once I started running.





(My Garmin managed to record the whole race this time, so I actually have a course to show you. click through to the Garmin Connect site for elevation profile and stuff.)


The elevation profile:


Basically, the first three miles was up Ash Canyon, and the last three came back down a slightly different route, with another little climb thrown in. I ended up running near people for the whole race - here are some pics of the climb:









After turning at the top, we started to come back down the canyon. Being a bit more protected, there were a few patches of snow, but nothing major.





After a short climb out of the canyon, there were some great views of Carson City:



Trying to follow Shannon there down hills is tough - she's lightning fast on descents. With a quarter mile left, though, we turned onto a paved path, a guy in surf shorts blew by us, and she slowed. I think she still finished first female, though - here's her finishing with second close behind.



After the race, I grabbed a gel and switched to a short sleeve shirt, because I needed to get a few more miles in - my training plan called for twelve today. Abbey, who didn't feel like racing a week after doing the Death Valley Trail Marathon. We took it a little easier on this loop, and even managed to chat a bit.

All in all, a wonderful day, and another great race in the Winter Trail Series. Looking forward to the next one - The Centennial Slug It Out on January 15.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's complicated


One of the things that you hear runners praise about their chosen sport is that it's uncomplicated. "Just throw on a pair of shoes and you're out the door." Having come to running myself because I was tired of dealing with mechanical problems with mountain bikes, I can identify with this. However, as I got ready to head out this morning for a run, I did the following:

Put on running-specific clothing - compression shorts, running tights, wicking shirt, windbreaker, light gloves and vented hat.

Put on running shoes, and special running socks.

Strapped on a heart rate monitor (first time in awhile I've done that.)

Remembered my GPS watch, which receives a signal from the heart rate monitor.

Fit my cell phone (which is also an MP3 player) into an armband and routed the headphone cord to my ears so I could listen to NPR's Science Friday as a podcast while I ran.

Filled an handheld water bottle to hydrate with, and slipped a gel into the pocket in case I needed it.

Double-checked to make sure I had everything.

Wondered when running got so complicated.

What do YOU do to complicate your runs?

Monday, November 29, 2010

New Contests

Looks like Donald over at Running and Rambling is starting a month of contests. His first giveaway is a pair of VivoBarefoot Evo IIs - Pretty spendy minimalist shoes, so get over there and take a look!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Scheels Turkey Trot

When I looked at the weather on the computer this morning, it told me that it was currently ten degrees, with a low of sixteen for the day. Not sure how that works - but it sure didn't stop a whole slew of people from coming out for the 2010 Scheels Turkey Trot.

People parking, checking in and milling around trying to stay warm were greeted by a hot air balloon. Can't imagine what the temperatures where like up there, because everyone on the ground was freezing.



I took a little warm-up jog, and couldn't decide if it was better to stand still with my hands in my armpits of run around and create my own wind. Pretty soon it was time to get corralled up:





They let the mayor of Sparks do the countdown, and he gave a strange little "On three - One, two three..." Everyone hesitated a sec, then started running. The first mile or so out of the Legends parking lot was still pretty cold - I had almost a brain freeze/ice cream headache - but then we settled into a pace and warmed up in the sun. When I hit the first mile marker, though, my watch read .8, which was when I realized that something might be fishy with the course.



Now, about a month ago, Scheels ran the Spark-a-delic 10K, which they billed as being a preview of the Turkey Trot course. It clocked as right at 6.2 miles for me, so I was optimistic that the distance and timing issues that I've had at the Sparks and Scheels races might be diminishing.

The course continued further out along Brierly Way than the Spark-a-delic course had, but then didn't do the out-and back on Lillard Drive to the north of Lillard. Instead, it headed right back west on Lillard and hopped on the bike path. At the intersection with Sparks and Springland, there was a funny spur loop that only added a couple blocks, but served to tie up that big intersection.







Obviously, I'm not a race director, and I don't know what kind of decisions go into making changes to the course like this. Changes don't bother me at all, either, except when they do something like this - make the course a whole half mile shorter. Yep, at the end, my watch read 5.78 miles for a 10K, and I saw a couple other people's watches that read the same. Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed.

Despite thinking I might try to break 50:00 today, my training has been going well, and I thought I had a shot to get nearer 45:00 for a 10K. So my watch time of 41:47 didn't help me with that - until I figured out that was a 7:14 mile average. Thanks to coolrunning.com's pace calculator, I see that's a 44:56 10K time. So I'm going to call this a successful race, despite the course.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Cold Turkey Run

Yesterday morning came early with about an inch of snow here in Reno, although none of it stuck to the roads. Nonetheless, it was a bit of a slippery drive down to Carson city for the Cold Turkey Run, the first in the Winter Trail Series. My wife and kids dropped me off at the start, and went and hung out with the grandparents while I was running.



The minute I hopped out of the car, a couple of people said hi - I swear, I seem to know more runners down here than I do at the Reno races. But I got signed in, dropped some stuff back at the car, managed to get my bib on right-way up on the second try, and lined up just in time for a quick briefing:



For some reason, it hadn't even occurred to me to think about what the course would be like. I had just thought "four mile trail run, no problem." I should have realized that this was pretty much all on the Escape from Prison Hill course - but with a bit of a climb to get up to it! Seriously, the first mile and a half was a 625 foot climb. I had to resort to my long-legged uphill walking pace more than a few times.

Had a bit of an issue with my Garmin somewhere in here - the GPS stopped recording right at the two mile mark. Later, I figured out what had happened - my long-sleeve t-shirt had triggered the bezel, getting into the GPS menu and setting the GPS to OFF. Guess I'll have to start locking the bezel now when I'm running with a long-sleeve shirt. At any rate, I now unfortunately don't have a course map or elevation profile to show you. Got the first two miles, at least - with the time data from the whole course. Maybe next year.

Once the course mellowed out a bit, I actually thought about taking some pictures. There was a lot of this, looking out over Carson City:







(My cell phone camera took a few of these weird stretched pictures. Anyone know why this happens? Is it because I was moving while taking it?)

Around the back side of Prison Hill, I tucked in behind Abbey and Shannon, two of the ccrunners that had come down to run the Fall Colors course a few weeks ago. I somehow managed to stay with Abbey, but Shannon kind of disappeared, especially on the downhill -







We finally crested the hill and retraced our route back down. I had to put the camera away then, because while the footing wasn't too bad, you really had to pay attention between the snow and rocks and stuff. Pounded back down to the start area in just under 45:00.



I wanted to get a bit of a longer run in, so after milling around and having some water, I headed out to run to my in-laws house on the other side of Carson. It was still a beautiful morning, and after about 5.5 miles, I reached their house. A few of the other runners that were training for a the Death Valley Marathon headed out south to add some more miles to their days.

So, a really fun race and a great start to the Winter Trail Series. I hope to get down to most of these, to run with a bunch of cool people and learn some more of the trails around Carson City. Thanks to Ascent Physical Therapy and everyone else who was out there putting this on - it was a blast.

And race results are up -

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hood to Coast Movie coming to Reno

For those of you who have done relays like Hood to Coast, the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey or the Lake Tahoe Relay, or are even curious about them, the Hood To Coast movie is going to be a do-not-miss event. It'll be at the Summit Sierra one night only - Tuesday, January 11, 2011. Here's a link to buy tickets, and a couple of teaser trailers to whet your appetites.

Hood To Coast Movie Trailer from HoodToCoastMovie on Vimeo.



Hood To Coast Movie Trailer #2 for Race Website from HoodToCoastMovie on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Marathon contest


It looks like our local paper, the Reno Gazette-Journal, is hosting a pretty cool contest. Open to people who are looking to run their first marathon, the prizes include an entry to the 2011 Rock-n-River Marathon, shoes from Eclipse Running, a training program through Reno Running and Fitness, and other stuff from Whole Foods, Scheels, European Fitness and Vitamin World. They'll follow the winner's progress in a blog and in the newspaper. If you're in Reno and looking to run your first marathon, definitely take a look at this.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Donner Lake Turkey Trot

Another fun race at the Donner Lake Turkey Trot. As much of Team Library Dork as could be mustered (Amber, Dave and I ) trekked up past Truckee - a little early, as it turned out. We somehow got ourselves up there at 9:15 for a 10:30 race, which made for some standing around time, as we aren't much for warm-ups. But we made the most of it, joking around and taking pre-race photos:



Before the 7 mile main race goes, they send the kids out for the "Mashed Potato Mile." Love watching these kids sprint out of the start, then come wheezing in a few minutes later -



Dave, is that a kid in a Bulldogs sweatshirt right in the middle? Didn't hear you cheering... ;)

I'd only run this race last year, and then they'd switched the course around to run counter-clockwise because of some icy conditions. this year they ran it the regular way, which put the hilly section first, and ended with a flat 3.5 miles heading back west to the beach. I pushed a little on the hills, and felt pretty good. After looping through the park at the east end of the lake, I fell in behind a fast older guy with a dog. I tried to stick with his pace, and ended up staying with him right until the finish, with a time of 53:30 - knocking about 4 minutes off last year's time.

Oh, funny thing about this race - I forgot my Garmin at home, and did the while thing pretty blind as to pace or timing, just on feel. Kind of a fun way to run for a change, but of course I don't have any pretty graphics of the course to put up here.

The other thing I forgot was the case that I carry my phone/camera in sometimes, and so didn't have that on course with me either. I grabbed it out of the car quickly after I finished, though, and was back in time to see Amber finishing:



Glad her knee didn't bother her too much today. Dave came through for the fist bump pretty soon after:



We hung around for the raffle afterwards - lots and lots of numbers were called, but the only one of ours was Dave's. All the yummy pumpkin pies were gone, so he ended up with a t-shirt. We also imposed on some poor guy to take post-race pictures of us with all our cameras:



We then called Gretchen to meet us over at FiftyFifty Brewing on the other side of town for lunch. Might have to find a new post race spot - despite being nice people, having good food and some pretty decent beers, we've had terrible luck with the service there. Lunch today was just a waiting game, and I ended up eating late enough that I'm not gonna be hungry for dinner.

But all in all, a great day out racing. Thanks everyone!

Race results posted here.