Sunday, May 29, 2011

CIM entry fee going up

Just a note for anyone in the area who's thinking about doing the California International Marathon this December. As of June 1st, the entry fee goes up from $85 to $105 - a pretty big jump. So, if you're committed to running this fast course at the end of the year, now's the time to pull the trigger. 

I just did.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Trails: Steamboat Ditch Trail

A few months ago, I posted a guide to Keystone Canyon and Evans Creek Canyon trails. This is another entry in what I hope will be a continuing series of trails around the area.

The Steamboat Ditch Trail is a classic Reno trail in the west part of town. Unlike the trails out of Rancho San Rafael, the "Ditch trail" is almost dead flat. This is because it runs alongside an irrigation canal that was engineered to take flowing water along the path with the least gradient possible. The section of the ditch trail I'll cover here - it does continue on, with breaks, throughout town - is at right about 4600 feet elevation.

To get to the trailhead, you'll need to find your way to Mayberry Drive in west Reno. Whether you are heading west, coming from McCarran or East, coming from 4th Street, you'll turn south on Plateau Road. This winds uphill for a ways, with only a few side streets leading off, until you reach a right onto Woodchuck Circle.

Taking this right, you'll find a small parking area - and depending on the time of day and day of the week, a few cars already lined up there.

The beginning of this section of the trail is pretty obvious. There's the parking area, some signage, the ditch (with differing amounts of water depending on the season), and...

The trail.

For the first two thirds of a mile, the trail winds past the backyards of some pretty impressive homes. It can feel a little intrusive to be here, but please respect people's privacy and this section goes by quickly.

Before long, the trail passes out of the neighborhood and into National Forest land. Now, because of the meandering nature of the ditch and the trail, it seems like you're always either entering or leaving National Forest of City of Reno land or something. You get used to seeing these signs and ignore them after a while.

The trail dips into gullies and ravines, then heads back out to crest around the shoulders of hills. Here's the trail heading out of a ravine, back into the morning sun.

Just some photos of the scenery here -

At one point, you come around a bend to see an industrial area spread out in front of you. The large building at the top center is the Patagonia warehouse.

There is another access trail heading up from near the Patagonia warehouse - it's pretty steep, and I haven't gone in that way in a while. Here's where it meets up with the Ditch trail, though -

At just under four and a half miles from the trailhead comes the turnaround point. Here the trail leads off to the left and dead ends at a hole in the side of the hill, out of which rushes the water that flows in the ditch. (In the spring, anyway. Tends to taper to a trickle in the fall.)

You can get pretty close in to this, but be careful - footing is precarious. And it wouldn't be fun to do those four and a half miles back in wet shoes.

The trail does continue from here - off to the right or straight up a hill, as you approach from the east. It no longer parallels the ditch, though - although it may meet back up with it at some point; I haven't been out past this.

From here, you can retrace your steps back to the trailhead. If you were out as early as I was on this day, you may actually see some other people venturing out on the trail at this point.

So there's another one of Reno's favorite running trails. A nice, easy one, with no hills at all - and an out and back, so you can bite off as much of it as you want to. Enjoy it!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A few pictures from the Silver State 50/50 Half

Much thanks to Jeri Dieter for these photos -she was there cheering on her son, Garrett. I ran quite a bit of this race with Garrett a couple years ago - I believe that was his first trail race. Strong running family, nice to see them at so many events around town -

That's Garrett in the blue, right-center, and me in the black, left-center. Fingers on watches, almost ready to start. Despite this picture, once we got out on the trail, it seemed like almost everyone was wearing blue - of the top ten, I'd guess eight people were wearing that same royal blue color.

This one was taken right near the radio towers aid station (hence the power lines.) About 2 miles into a 4 mile downhill - fun, swooping singletrack - I was really enjoying myself right about here.

Finally, shuffling through the grass in between the cones to the finish line in Rancho San Rafael. I think I look stronger than I really felt right there - I didn't have much left at the end.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Silver State 50/50 half marathon

The weather looked a little iffy at the start of the Silver State 50/50 half marathon yesterday - there were some sprinkles and some dark clouds - but it blew over pretty quickly, and turned into an awesome day. That's why I have no pictures, though - I didn't want to bring my camera/phone along if it was going to get soaked.

The course left Rancho San Rafael, went through the tunnel under McCarran, and headed up Evans Creek canyon. Kept climbing before a little downhill into the aid station at the radio towers, about 4 miles. More singletrack climbing, some dirt road for a while, and more singletrack before a big climb into the aid station at The Pond, about seven miles in. We had to loop around the far side of the pond due to a trail being washed out, but that didn't add more than a couple hundred yards. The comes the crazy steep climb, on which it's hard to even keep your feet from slipping, let alone keep your progress moving forward. Apparently, there was a junction near the bottom of this hill that led up on singletrack, but I was following the people that I could just barely see in front of me, who were up at the top of the hill. There were no markings at the top, but I knew the trail went to the right, and after a small rise I saw the Ridge View aid station. They let me know I had gone the wrong way (although there wasn't really any difference in distance.) At that point, though, the fun started - a few miles of fast, winding singletrack, swooping through gullies and over little wood bridges. I took one fall in here, but caught myself OK. At this point, I couldn't see anyone in front of or behind me - it got kind of lonely out there after mile 8. These trails headed back to the Radio Towers aid station, then back to the start/finish area by a slightly different route.

I was doing the maths in my head and thought I'd be coming in in the low 1:50s - hoping to break 1:55. I must have calculated wrong, because I had to double check my watch when I saw the finish clock saying 1:48 something. After recovering a bit, putting my legs up, and having a bite to eat, I figured out that that was about an 11 minute course PR - and good enough to win my age group. Somehow I missed what my overall place is, but that will show up soon enough.

As usual, I had to do a full day of errands with the family after the race - so I went home, showered up, and hit the road. Kind of worn out from all that now - but sure had a great day of racing yesterday. Think I'll take a break from races for a couple weeks now - at least until the Reno/Tahoe Odyssey -

Friday, May 20, 2011

Weekend events 5/21-22/11

A few good events going on in the area this weekend:

Silver State 50/50 and Trail Half Marathon
Starting at Rancho San Rafael and playing out on the slopes of Peavine, this event has a 50 mile and 50K distances, as well as a trail half marathon. Billed as a great tune-up or training race for the TRT endurance runs or Western States, I personally like the half marathon. The fact that the start line is only a mile from my house helps. Here are race reports from the last two years of the half. This year, proceeds from the race will go toward defraying medical costs for a couple of Reno running families, the Fairbanks and Roland Martin.

Reno 5000 - Race #2
The second race in this series, and again one that I won't be able to make due to a schedule conflict. This race benefits "Help Baby Isaac", more about which below. Hope everyone out there has fun and continues to support this series -

Help Baby Isaac fundraiser
Eclipse Pizza is hosting this raffle and silent auction to benefit Isaac, the son or two Reno area athletes who has been diagnosed with liver cancer. If you can't make it to the Reno 500 race or the fundraiser, take a look at the Facebook page to see if you can help.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Race photos from Rock 'n' River runs

Race photos are available from Valerie Lemiuex, a photographer who was at the Rock 'n' River events a couple weeks ago. Her website has galleries broken down by race, but unfortunately no way to search by bib number or name. Still, I was able to find my finish picture pretty easily by clicking through the half marathon gallery. Since the prices were so fair - From less that a dollar to around $5, depending on size - I went ahead and ordered a 5 x 7. Even though shipping was about $3, it was still a pretty good deal compared to some race photo sites that try to charge $20 or so for a race photo.

When the photo came, less than a week later, I could see why shipping had cost so much - First, it came from New York, and in an actual box! I had assumed I'd see an envelope show up. Kind of overkill for just  a photo. Still. a pretty good deal. If you're willing to search through the online photos for yours, it might be worth it.

Also found one of the back of my head in the start corral - apparently I like to look around to see if I can spot anyone while I'm waiting...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Avenue of the Vines Half Marathon

This wasn't really a planned race - in fact, I didn't even know about it until a couple weeks ago, right after the Rock 'n' River run in Reno. But Dave and Chris talked me into it, being a lower altitude, super flat course that I might be able to chip a little more off my half marathon PR on. Then, of course, Dave found a way to slip off and do some Warrior Dashing in Georgia, but that's a different story.

Chris, his wife Abby and I drove over the hill Saturday night, fueled up at a restaurant near Sacramento, and bunked for the night in Rancho Cordova. Had a quick hot tub soak to loosen the muscles from the car ride, and a fairly early bedtime. Up early to drive another 45 minutes to Lodi and the Woodbridge Winery, where the race was being held.

Apparently, the whole expo area was set up outside last year, but since the weather was threatening rain, the winery had put most of the tents up in their big barrel warehouse. It was kind of cool, picking up packets and wandering around in the shadow of all the wine barrels. Didn't get to do too much of that, though - the half started at 7:00, and I barely had time for a couple warmup laps around the parking lot before getting to the start line.

The half started only a couple minutes late, and after a quick left turn, we were on to one of the longest straghtaways I've ever run in a race. Four miles straight north, two or so east, then a few turns before three or so straight south. A couple more turns, and after a right at mile twelve, you could see the finish line a mile away.

Heading out for the first section, I hadn't realized that the wind was behind us. This made it deceivingly easy to hold my pace right around 6:30 miles. When we turned east and felt some of the crosswind, I realized that the trip back south was going to be a bit harder. It was on this east-facing section, too, that there are a few dairy farms right near the road. It smelled pretty bad for about a full mile. There were a couple of breaths that were so ammonia-ey I actually had to suppress a gag reflex - but it sure was nice to get past those and have fresh air again.

Fighting the wind heading back south, my pace climbed into the 6:40s, and I had three straight miles at 6:49. Chris, after winning the 5K, came out and found me at about mile 11, and talked me in. With his help, I managed mile 13 back down to 6:30, and finished with a chip time of 1:28:17, just under a minute faster than two weeks before.

Bizarrely, the 15 guys (and one girl) who finished in front of me were all in their 20s, 40s or 50s, so I won the 30-39 age group. Which was nice, because the age group winners of the half marathon took home a ginormous 3 liter bottle of wine - a "jereboam", I think it's called. Engraved with the race and "Age Group Winner" - a very nice prize. Still not sure when I'm going to be able to open it - that's a lot of wine. The winners of the half got the real prize, though - their weight in wine!

The 5k winners didn't do so well - there were no separate prizes for the overall winners that were different from the age group winners, so Chris only got to bring home a 1.5 liter bottle for his win. Same story last year, when he set the course record. But Abby made up for that in the tasting room, picking out a few other bottles to bring home.

After a nice post-race soak at the hotel and a late checkout, we headed back home. A stop in Grass Valley for lunch and a snowy drive over the pass, and I got to enjoy my PR beer. Thanks again to Chis for the suggestion there - gooood stuff.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Races I missed last weekend

Having just come off a couple long training cycles leading up to the Rock 'n' River half, I decided to sit out the two races that happened in town last weekend. Here's what I missed:

Saturday, May 7th - Run Amuck at the Reno River Festival

Did this one a couple years ago, got mud in my nose, and was sick for a couple weeks after. Fun event, but kind of crazy - it was pretty hard to figure out what you were supposed to do to meet your runner for the second leg of the relay. Lots of photos here (password "muddy"), some coverage from the Reno Gazette Journal here.

Sunday, May 8th - Pinocchio's Moms on the Run

I've never been to this local classic, despite the fact that it's an easy bike from my home. It always seems to fall on weekend that I've got other plans. Didn't really happen this year - and I might have made the effort had anyone else I knew been up for it. As it was, though, it is a bit later in the day, and we had family coming over for Mother's Day brunch, so it's just as well that I didn't.

Instead of these, I went out for a trail run on Saturday with Chris, doing a few loops around Rancho San Rafael and up Evans Canyon (and testing his limits with the New Balance Minimus Trail shoes.)  Sunday I took myself out for an early long-ish run, getting back in time to make cinnamon rolls from scratch for Mother's Day.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

More pics and results from Rock 'n' River

First things first - Peter, who was out spectating and coaching his sons at the Rock 'n' River, sent me a few pictures he had taken of Chris and I. It's rare that I have any pics of myself running to put up here, so I thought I'd share them.
Here I am near the start. Still feeling fresh, trying to find a good pace out of the gate.

 Chris - not actually dorking off for the camera.

My view for most of the race - the backs of Fred and Chris.

 Why does it look like Chris is walking? 

Mouth full after a water stop.

As for the results - we didn't stick around after the race to check them. Wanted to get out of the crowds, have a bite to eat, that kind of thing. Later that day, a friend on dailymile that had waited for the awards told me he thought I had taken an age group 3rd place, which I was pretty happy with.

It wasn't until sometime Monday, when the results were initially posted on the Reno Gazette Journal's website, that I noticed something else: I had actually won the age group they put me in, which was FEMALE 35-39. Oops. 

The timing people, Synergy Race Timing, had a nice form on their website to send in corrections, which I did. Even got an email back from them in less than 24 hours, telling me that it would be corrected on their next update, which would be then next day - which it was. Very helpful there.

I also emailed the race director to let him know about it, but haven't heard anything back yet. The results listed on the race's website still show me as female. Not sure if or when they are going to update that, or if I'll ever end up with the AG award (I should have been 2nd in Male 35-39.)

In a related timing confusion, Chris thought it was funny that there were four women who finished before me. (He was doing a much better job of keeping track of other runners around us; I was really just worried about my pace.) After a little detective work using and zinsli, he found that 3 of those 4 either had much slower times listed or had no previous race results at all. So - it's possible that some of those were 10K runners whose timing chips got confused.

Seems to me that a race like this - a bit larger than the small, local races I usually do - would be more concerned about getting results corrected. I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Wear testing

The other day, I stumbled across a comment on a blog, where someone mentioned that they were a "wear tester" for a shoe company and therefore got to try out different styles of shoes. I'd never heard of such a thing. Wear tester? Trying out free shoes? (Turns out you have to send most of them back, but might get to keep some.) Better get to googling.

As it turns out, there are a few major shoe companies that have wear testing programs. The two that come up most immediately with an internet search are Brooks and New Balance - and I immediately applied for them. Pearl Izumi also has a program, but they aren't accepting applications for it right now.

That was a couple weeks ago, and I just got an email from New Balance saying they were sorry, but they don't wear test shoes in my size. (But with a 10% coupon for their online store attached, which was a classy touch.) I guess test shoes don't come in 13s. Oh well. Haven't heard back from Brooks yet, but I'm assuming it'll be a similar story - unless Brooks is going to try to cater to the large-footed runner out there.

Anyway - has anyone else had any experience with these programs? Are they a good deal, an interesting way to try out a bunch of different types of shoes, or what?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Rock 'n' River Half Marathon

After two almost full 12-week training plans (since October), a couple of mid-plan races and PRs, and lots and lots of tempo runs, progression runs, long runs, easy runs and hill workouts, race morning came.

As I've done for the past four years, I rode my bike the mile or so downtown to the start area. This year I made it in time to see the start of the marathon, and got a few good pictures of it:

Got to say Hi to a couple of people before the race - A friend who's on my Odyssey team was doing the full, and I'm glad I got to say hi before he set out. Peter Lubbers was there with his sons, who were doing their first marathons and half marathons - great job, guys! And ran into Ryan of, who was doing the half as well.

So, I was feeling actually pretty calm as I got lined up a couple rows back from the start line. I think I've done enough races now that I'm kind of nonplussed by the whole race atmosphere - which can be a good thing. Said hi to a few people around me, and we were off.

Took off pretty fast through the initial downtown section - I kept my watch on "current pace" display for the first mile to try to keep it in check. Managed to hold it to a 6:36 to the first mile, right near the Booth street bridge - where Chris was waiting for me.

I'm pretty fortunate to have a friend like Chris, who's willing to come out and pace me. He was there also for my last two PRs, in Roseville and Davis earlier this year. This time, he brought along Fred, who's kind of Reno running royalty - and recently won his age group at Boston. They were nice enough to tow me along for most of the race.

After the first mile, I tend to look at the "cumulative pace" readout on my watch - if the overall pace creeps up, I know I'm slacking off. for the whole rest of the race, that number was right around 6:50 - 6:52 was my magic number to break 90 minutes.

(click through to the Garmin Connect website for more detailed stats)

The Rock 'n' River course is out and back - in this case, the first half heads upriver and the second half is overall downhill. That allowed me to keep the pace below 6:50 for the last five miles. I actually felt really good until about mile 11, when (right after telling Chris that I felt pretty good) I felt a twinge in one of my hamstrings. But that went away. After mile twelve I had to dig even deeper, but somehow managed the last mile at 6:43 pace to finish (according to my watch) at 1:28:12. Still waiting on official results, but that's a PR by about 4 minutes, and a goal of breaking 1:30 that I've had for 4 years.

Met up with the rest of Team Library Dork after - Amber did the 5K, coming back from a back injury, and Dave rocked the 10K. We all adjourned to My Favorite Muffin for some much-needed sustenance.

The we scooted back to my house for what some might consider the main event - a tasting of fruit beers. Amber had brought back a blueberry ale (and a couple others) from Boston, and Chris had a Dogfish Head Aprihop and a cherry and raspberry from New Glarus Brewing. Those two were the definite standouts - the cherry tasted and smelled like cherries fresh off the tree. Amazing stuff.

After the late breakfast and having no lunch (took the kids to see a matinĂ©e of Rio) I'm getting pretty hungry. I think I deserve a burger at this point.

Great to see everyone out there - thanks to all the race volunteers and organizers for putting on a fun event.