Saturday, October 30, 2010

Scheels Spark-a-delic 5K/10K

Despite today being a rest day on my training schedule, I felt like doing a race. Fortunately, there were a couple in town today to choose from, and I decided on the Scheels Spark-a-delic 10K. I did this race a couple of years ago, and the Scheels races are usually pretty good with the prizes and stuff, so off I went.

But first - there was a costume contest. 1970s themed. I rooted around in a box in the shed, found some disco pants and a big-collared shirt, accessorized a bit, and threw a wig on. Oh, and a mascara mustache. OK, ready to go.

The 10K route was a preview of the Turkey Trot course - it's moving from over by the Sparks Marina to being hosted by Scheels. It had a bit in common with the old course - the turnaround on Brierly, an out-and-back on Lillard - but then spends some time on the bike path next to Sparks Boulevard, doing a big out-and-back north to Springland Drive. That'll be interesting with the Turkey Trot crowd all trying to fit two ways on the bike path...

I held a pretty good pace, in the 8:20 range, and even passed a few people near the end. Made the rookie mistake of forgetting to stop my watch at the finish, though, so I don't have a good time yet - 51:something, I think. Gives me a good goal to break 50 at the Turkey Trot. At any rate, it was good enough for a 2nd place age group medal and a $10 Scheels gift card. The costume contest went to a fat Elvis with a much better wig than I had...

Update - my daughter decorated my disco medallions to match the race medal. Oh, and results are posted at

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween/Nevada Day weekend races

A few races going on this weekend in the area -

One of the two runs on Saturday is the Reno 5000 Trick-or-Treat 5K, in the South Meadows area. I haven't heard from anyone how the Reno 5000 series has been going - I think they've had one race already, back in early September? My impression was that it was for the fast crew - high entry fee, more about the prize money than anything. I'd love to hear how these are going, if anyone was at the previous on or makes it out there this weekend.

Also on Saturday, out in Sparks, Scheels is hosting the Spark-a-delic 5K/10K. (It's the weekend for hyphenated races, apparently.) The course will be a preview of the Turkey Trot 10K route, so I'm thinking about heading out for that. There's also a 70's themed costume contest, which I had fun with two years ago. Scheels usually puts on a good event, with gift certificates as prized and good swag. I've had some course measurement and timing issues there, though.

The New Balance Girls on the Run 5k Fun Run is up in Truckee on Sunday. It benefits the Sierra Girls on the Run program. It sounds like a couple of my fellow Library Dorks are going to head up and crash the little girls race - just kidding, it was confirmed that, despite the weird registration at, the race really is for everyone.

So those of you that have Nevada Day off, congratulations - get out there and run! And those of you who have to work Friday or Saturday - well, hope to see you out somewhere this weekend. Enjoy, everybody!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2010 Fall Colors Half Marathon

Rainy, windy, cold, muddy - and a great, fun race.

The weather forecast for this morning wasn't auspicious, but things looked OK as Chris, Dave and I rolled into the parking lot for the Fall Colors Trail runs. A little chilly, a little sprinkly, but not too bad. Here's what it looked like as we got registered, got dressed, and warmed up:

Before too long, it was time to line up and listen to a quick race briefing:

And get started. Wow, did it feel good to start moving and build up some warmth! The first hill took care of that pretty well - Click "View Details" to check out the elevation profile here:

Here's an elevation profile:

People were pretty speedy heading up the first parts of the climb:

But as it dragged on, everyone slowed up a bit:

And eventually walked up some of the steepest parts:

Still just a light drizzle, but it didn't matter as long as we had stuff like this to look at:

There were some stream crossings:

Some great running in the tall trees:

And then the faster folks started coming back from the out-and-back portion. There are pictures of quite a few people here at my Picasa page for the race, so if you were there, go and take a look - there might be one of you.

After the turnaround:

we made our way back downhill for a ways, and I fell in behind these guys going through the aspens:

It started raining a little more about here - the trail surface was getting muddy down in the valley:

Back to the road, then a sketchy stream crossing:

And some more climbing. But this time we were rewarded with a rainbow:

And after the climb, a descent on the other side:

Not long after this, the little break in the rain stopped and I didn't want to take out the camera anymore. By the time I finished, it was coming down pretty hard and I was soaked. But I felt great! Managed to keep my pace in the "feeling good" zone the whole time, and the smiles of everyone out on the course were inspiring. I was proud to be out there today with everyone, grinding out a soggy 10K or half marathon. Cheers to a great race, and a great bunch of people to be out there with!

Results are now up on the Silver State Striders website, in PDF form.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Rainy racing weekend ahead?

Looks like the forecast is for some pretty solid rain this weekend, but it's not going to stop us hearty northern Nevadans from getting out and racing, is it?

Saturday is the One Day on the Streets 5K in Idlewild Park, benefitting ReStart Reno, a non-profit fighting homelessness. After the run, apprently there is a " toilet paper structure competition." That, in the rain, might be something to see.

On Sunday I'll be at the 3rd annual Fall Colors Trail Half Marathon, in the aspen groves down toward Galena. Looking forward to getting some good pictures, like these from last years event.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tough Mudder

(In retrospect, this is really kind of a downer post. For a more upbeat look at the same race, please see Amber's blog. And the rest of the pictures are here.)

A disappointment on many levels, this race. Misnamed, for one - other than the hills, it wasn't all that tough, and really wasn't very muddy either. But let's start at the beginning.

This race crossed our radar quite a while ago, and sounded like a fun challenge. We quickly came up with a team concept, and despite the pretty steep price tag, got our team signed up. One of the main selling points was the headline sponsor, Dogfish Head brewery - one of the most interesting and innovative breweries in the country, who would be offering free pints at the finish. As the race grew nearer, I was actually more excited about that than the race itself - mostly due to my lack of training for it.

But the weekend arrived, and Team Library Dork carpooled our way over Ebbetts Pass, past Bear Valley to stay in the town of Arnold. Now, Tough Mudder had been sending out update texts to a few of us about the race, and one of them warned us of possible snow and road closures over Ebbetts Pass. We questioned this as we saw clear skies to the west as we left Carson City, but were a little worried nonetheless. Of course, the warning was completely unwarranted - there was no snow, no closure - barely even long sleeve weather when we stopped the car for a pee break near the summit. Not sure what that was about.

So, after a night at a somewhat disorganized hotel in Arnold and breakfast in town, we costumed up. Our team was "WWMD - What Would Magnum Do?" so those of us who could wear the mustache did so, and a couple of us wore fakes. A couple of group photos at the race area here:

As we got down toward the registration area, we had to walk past the finish area, where we spotted one of the first disappointments of the day - the beer tent, sponsored by Dos Equis. This was not Dogfish Head. Apparently something had changed with the sponsorship - and thus began the sour taste that was to be left in our mouth for the rest of the day.

The packet pickup lines were inside the ski lodge. Basically, the cafeteria was packed with a disorganized mass of humans, all trying to figure out what line to stand in and where to go. When, eventually, we made it through our line to pick up our packets, we had to cut across most of the other lines to get to the t-shirt pick-up and "body marking." Yep, they required sharpie marking on foreheads and one other body part. Not sure why, it was mostly gone by the end of the race anyway.

After getting organized, we made our way to the start in time for our wave - the Dark Purple wave - to go off. Actually, we had the privilege of standing on the side of a hill while someone with a microphone killed time by playing the national anthem and doing some silly military call-and-response stuff. Eventually they let our wave go - here's what it looked like from the start:

Little downhill there, which was counted as the first "obstacle." then some dirt road before the second obstacle. Or, in fact, before we got to wait in line to do the next obstacle. Despite the wave starts, there were still too many people at the obstacle and it got clogged up. Here's some of our people coming through it, you can see our hawaiian shirts.

Despite the wait, we were through before too long and on our way to the next obstacle, which turned out to be little more than some downhill switchbacks on the trail. Which there was a line for. Then a big climb, then a tunnel-ey thing which the line was fairly short for. More climbing, and a big line to go over a set of cable spools that we were directed to do only one of, instead of both. More climbing, through snowmaking machines, and to the top, where the next obstacle was the only real mud in the Tough Mudder - and which we were forced to wait for. Not just through a line this time; they were holding everyone back because the line at the NEXT obstacle was also too long. Eventually they let people go - and then stopped the group again just before we were about to go. FINALLY we slogged through the mud pit, then waited in line at the next obstacle as well. Here's the mud pit and the next one - can't remember the name they dreamed up for it, but again we were instructed to just do one of them instead of the set of two.

Down a big hill, up a big hill - the toughest parts of this were the hills. If not for them, it would've been a romp. After this hill, we had a good 15 minute wait in line to go over a silly pile of logs. Then on to a pretty good set of obstacles, involving a seriously chilly man-made lake. Into the lake, under some barrels, out of the lake, sliding back down into it, and back out again. It was really cold, and that was manageable, but this thing smelled like only slightly treated sewer water. I'm still surprised there wasn't an outbreak of some kind of plague among the contestants. Anyway, here's what it looked like:

Then there was some silliness with carrying a piece of wood about a quarter mile - looked like this:

Climbing over and back on a 10-12 foot fence a few times was actually a decent challenge - then we headed down toward the finish and last few obstacles. First there was another climb-under-something one that I don't much remember. Then the "Mystery Obstacle" which turned out to be drinking a shot of watered down hot sauce - pretty lame. And the last, dash through the fire (as hyperbolically pictured on the Tough Mudder logo) - which was basically jumping over a couple of gas hibachis. So challenging that I did a 360 spin over the last one.

So, the course wasn't really that tough, despite the hills. It might have been, had there not been all that time waiting to catch your breath - but as it was, it felt like doing a long set of intervals. And I hadn't really even trained for it.

I'm not even really sure how much more I need to complain about this race. It was a very expensive race, but then they dropped the price in the last month to try to pack more people into it, which lowered the quality of the event drastically. The obstacles weren't that challenging, the promised photography was minimal, they charged for spectator tickets and then tried to charge exorbitant amounts for food on top of that. It felt like going to Disneyland - once they got you in there, they were going to try to suck all the money out of you while making you stand in lines all day. Without the roller coasters.

The one good thing that I can say is that the charity that benefits from the series, the Wounded Warrior Project, is at least an above-the-boards organization. I looked them up on a couple of charity-watch sites, because I'd hate to have thought that ALL of my money went to some sort of scam. Unfortunately, they're not going to be getting any of my money next year, simply because of the way this race was organized and run.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Boston sold out

In running news, this just in: Boston Marathon sells out in a day. More like 8 hours, actually. Wow. Glad I'm not that fast...

Thursday, October 7, 2010


OK, a little guessing game. No prizes, just for fun. What do you think all these numbers are?


Yep, bib numbers through the last few years. In order, safety-pinned together by year, of course. Anyone recognize any good ones in there? I think I see the corner of a Fall Five Miler virtual bib peeking out...

Monday, October 4, 2010 contests this week

The ultrarunning website has hit it's millionth pageview over the weekend, and to celebrate, Bryon Powell is doing a week's worth of contests and giveaways. To quote:

Here’s how this week will play out on iRunFar.

Monday – The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships Contest – Win a TNF EC entry, a full Better Than Naked outfit, and a pair of Single-Tracks.

Tuesday – Chilly Weather, Hot Contest – Win fall and winter running apparel.

Wednesday – Cloud (Size) 9 Shoe Giveaway – An array of men’s 9-9.5 trail shoes up for grabs.

Thursday – Moving (From) the Motherload Giveaway – We’re getting rid of everything else we’ve got!

Friday – New Balance Contest – This contest is so good, we can’t tell you what it is!

So, head over there and take a look. Check out the gear reviews, trail guides, race coverage and their store. Subscribe to the news feed, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Kokanee Salmon Festival 10K

Headed up to South Lake Tahoe this morning with Chris and Dave for the Kokanee Trail Runs. Last year at this race we were greeted with about an inch of snow, but today it was all about the rain.

We got registered before the half marathon started, even though we had all decided to to the 10K. Here's the line up for the start of the half:

And the fast half marathoners heading for the first curve:

I couldn't get the camera set up in time to catch Abbey go past - she was here running the one-year anniversary of her first race. Great to see her. After this, I put the camera away, too - it was starting to rain a little harder, and we still had an hour to go before our start.

Eventually we were ready to go, got lined up, and took off. The first mile and a half of this course are uphill on the road, then not long after the 5K runners turn around and peel off, the dirt starts. Fun mix this year of puddles, mulchy barky mud and slippery rocks. No, really, it WAS fun - nice soft surface to run on, and beautiful views of Fallen Leaf Lake.

The elevation profile:

I was feeling OK, and other than a walking section up some steep rock stairs during mile 4, kept my pace fine. I even managed to pass a couple of guys that looked like they were possibly in my age group in the last quarter mile.

I finished in 53 minutes, and found that Chris had won the 10K in about 43 despite his, um, elective surgery on Friday. Pretty soon Dave came in, and Abbey finished the half, and we all stood around in the drizzle eating hot dogs and wondering how long the results would take.

Well, the weather had different ideas. The rain really started coming down, and the decision was made not to make everyone wait around for awards. Since the Camp Richardson Oktoberfest had been rained out as well, we headed into South Lake and The Brewery at Lake Tahoe. Despite their beers not being all that exciting, the food is pretty good (Thai pizza today) and we could dry out a little while watching some football.

Another fun Team Library Dork outing. Thanks, Abbey, for filling in for Amber, who had stuff to do back at home. And thanks to everyone who was out there making this a cool, fun race yet again -

Friday, October 1, 2010

Busy Weekend

Hi everyone -

A couple of good races coming up this Sunday I just wanted to remind everyone about.

The KomenNorthern Nevada Race for the Cure is going on out at Boomtown this weekend. A new course, so it should be interesting. Grab your pink accessories and join the crowds out there.

I'll be up at the lake, running one of the Kokanee Trail runs - the 10K, probably. Then hopefully grabbing a beer and a sausage at the Oktoberfest at Camp Richardson, right across the street. Last year there was snow, which made it kind of fun - doesn't look like it this year though.

Also on the calendar is the Sparks Half Marathon and 5K - but their website says it's been postponed. I've got an email in to see if there's any more information, and will pass it along if I hear back.

-UPDATED- Apparently the Sparks Half Marathon has been cancelled for this year - anyone who had registered has been transferred to their Stockton race on November 14. They're working on a date for next year. I'd suggest a summer date - there's such a shortage of races during the summer, and so many in the spring and fall...

Happy running and racing this weekend -