Thursday, June 30, 2011

4th of July weekend races

Wow, all sorts of stuff going on in the area over the long weekend...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Truckee Running Festival 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Kids runs
 "Come one come all and join us for a morning of trail running and fun at Riverview Park in Truckee, CA.  Try a 5 or 10K along the Legacy Trail or a 1/2 marathon featuring beautiful and scenic trails of Waddle Ranch.  Bring the kids as we have short race/runs for them as well.
The event is also a fundraiser for the Truckee Trails Foundation.  All the proceeds from the Kids Races will go to to the Truckee Trails Foundation, who's goal is to provide the Truckee area with a network of trails and bike paths for fun, adventure, and alternative transportation."

"For those looking for a good challenge that's not an ultra marathon. This is a 9.5-mile trek across the mountain tops from Spooner Summit to Kingsbury. The fire access road starts at Spooner Summit and climbs nearly 2,000 feet in the first 41/2 miles to its summit near Genoa Peak. The route is no easy chore, to be certain, but the view makes it worthwhile."

Sunday, July 3, 2011

"Northern Nevada's only Duathlon event! Close to Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The RENO 5000 Firecracker Duathlon is a challenging course. Participants start off with a 5K (3.1 miles) Run/Walk. The run will be on paved roads and off-road, technical, single-track trails. There will be an aid station located at the halfway point. The 30K (18.6 miles)Bike will be 3 laps of a 6 mile out-and-back route, with aid stations every 3 miles. The bike course is on-road and hilly. After the bike portion, proceed back to the transition area, where spectators will be cheering you on, for your final 5K Run, which is the exact same course as the first 5K."

Monday, July 4, 2011

"A fun fun event for the whole family - passing by the cheering crowds gathering for the parade!"

"The first annual Tahoe Firecracker Trail Trek, to benefit the Incline High School Boys and Girls Cross Country team.   The Race will take place on the 4th of July as part of the Red White and Tahoe Blue activities. 
This event is great for the entire family and is a great way to kick off your 4th of July festivities.  So grab your racing/running/walking shoes and join us."

Run to the Beach - King's Beach

Run To The Beach 5 and 10k starts at the North Tahoe Regional Park.  From the park you have an option of participating in the 5 or 10k distance both of which finish on the "Big" beach in Kings Beach, CA.

Kings Beach is a great place to spend your July 4th weekend.  Fireworks are scheduled for the evening of July 3rd! 

Firecracker 10K and 2 mile - Carson City 

Presented by the Tahoe Mountain Milers and Sagebrush Stompers Running Clubs, "This is a flat and fast course on all packed dirt." Run out of Korean War Memorial Park on the east side of Carson City.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Garmin Forerunner trade-in offer

Now that's exactly what I was waiting for.

From the Garmin blog today, a post that explains their new trade-in program. Basically, starting July 1st, you can purchase a new Garmin (from a "participating retailer") and send in your old one for a $50 rebate. They'll refurbish your old watch and donate it to Girls on the Run SoleMates.   

Sounds like a great deal. Not many details are forthcoming yet, but I'll keep an eye on this.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Run to Squaw 2011

Another Big Blue Race this weekend, the Run to Squaw - the second in the Tahoe Trail Running Series. Although this was less of a "trail" run than a "path" run - it was all along the bike path that parallels the Truckee river from Tahoe City to Squaw Valley. But hey, whatever - it was a great place and morning to do a seven point something mile run...

The morning started with a Team Library Dork carpool up to the lake, and a bit of confusion at the packet pickup at Squaw. Apparently safety pins for the bibs were in short supply - we were told they had some at the start, but when we got there, none were forthcoming. Eventually two out of the three of us found some already stashed away in our goodie bags, and I found some in my car for the third of us right before the race officials brought some in. I know - minutiae - but these are the things that one tends to remember about a race, for some reason.

We were ridiculously early, so spent some time trying to find an open coffee shop in Tahoe City (no small task at 6:30 AM), getting dressed and warming up. Which was tough - it was in the low 40s when we got there. By the time we ventured out of the warm car, though, it felt better - I was OK in shorts and a sleeveless shirt. Chris took off for a warm up and scout of the first part of the course, which was good, since the bicycle pacer tried to lead him on a wrong path about a quarter mile from the start.

By the time we gathered on the beach for a pre-race briefing, it was a gorgeous morning.

After this, we got started pretty quick. Off we went, and I fell into a good spot early on. I realized I was in 5th overall, and probably went a little hard to try to stay there , clocking my first two miles in 6:27 and 6:32. Here's what the "trial" looked like at that point - 4th place being up ahead there.

I was overextending myself, though, and pretty soon I heard the footsteps to prove it. A guy nd a girl passed me - at first I assumed they were running together, but they soon drifted apart - She left him in the dust. He was wearing a big warm-up jacket, but soon took it off. I felt I didn't have much chance of passing him back unless he died near the finish, so settled in.

After a while, another runner nipped at my heels - after a bit of chat, I learned that her name was Regina. Her husband was stopping and cheering for her at ridiculously small intervals - about every 3/4 of a mile, it seemed. We ran and breathlessly talked while enjoying views like this:

Eventually I pulled ahead on a small hill and was able to snap an over-the-shoulder picture of her:

she caught up as I tried to drink from an over-filled water cup at one of the two aid stations, and we continued on. We were passed just before the turn into Squaw, and then I lost her after a little uphill section. Are long legs (mine) an advantage on uphills? Seemed like I kept making up ground there...

Here are a couple of "artsy" photos from along the way...

After the turn into Squaw Valley, a very short dirt section, and a small uphill (on which I didn't make up as much time as I had hoped) we were greeted with views like this:

Pulling into the Squaw Valley parking lot, I wasn't sure where the race was going to end. Turned out they routed us through the village - so coming up to the finish line looked like this:

Pretty cool place to finish a race - although the Auburn Track would be a pretty cool place to finish, too...

Here's the elevation profile of the race -

And the Garmin map data:

My time was 52: 17, or thereabouts - putting me in at 8th overall, 7th male, 4th in my age group. Which, if I'm not mistaken, nets me a whole 2 points in the series totals. Chris got edged by another unknown twenty-something and ended up in second. Dave didn't do his second lap ;-) but finished strong and sweaty. Here he comes, getting ready to check his watch -

After this, there was some serious hanging out to be done. Chris modeled the shirt he picked up:

And missed the awards ceremony (which was just a "clap for the winners" kind of thing...)

We got to chat with Fred, who just blazed a half marathon in Seattle the day before and was doing a little 14+ mile training run at altitude the day after:

Back to pick up my car at Commons Beach, and a soak in the cold waters of Lake Tahoe. Kinda felt OK after the Truckee the day before - I swear, the snowmelt must be coming in lower than that. Some drying out on the beach, a couple sips of Moonraker, and back home. Another great day, and a fun time with TLD.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Salomon XR Crossmax review

Salomons have always boon good to me, as far as trail running shoes go. From an old heavy pair of Gore-tex ones, through a couple pairs of XA Pros, two pairs of Wings, and the Speedcross 2's I still use, I've always had good luck with them. So it was with high hopes that I tried out this pair of XR Crossmax Neutral's.

(These shoes came from a contest over on - Thanks to Bryon and Salomon for providing them.)

Right out of the box, they felt great - just like all the other Salomons I've worn. Almost zero break-in time is a great selling point for the brand. The lacing system was of course familiar - the lace was a bit long on this pair, but it tucked nicely up under the tongue flap. Everything felt fine, and I wore them to work for a day to give my feet a chance to settle into them before running in them. No problems - fit was fine all around.

After a series of runs, both on streets, trails, and combinations of the two, I was left feeling a little non-plussed. They felt a bit clunky on the road, and too squishy on the trail.  it was hard to picture taking these out for a serious road run, or equally a hard trail day.

 I think my reaction to them is a combination of two factors -

First, this shoe is inherently a compromise. Anytime designers try to combine two things into one like this, it's not going to do either quite as well as something purpose-built. Think of an enduro motorcycle - the on/off road kind. It certainly isn't as efficient around town as a road cycle, nor as good in the dirt as a motocross bike. Same idea here.

Second - is my fault. I've been moving toward more minimal shoes in both my road shoes and trail shoes recently. The Saucony Kinvara and the New Balance Minimus are my go-to road shoes these days, and on the trails I really prefer my New Balance MT101s. Even my Salomon Speedcross 2s - which used to be my light, race-only trail shoes - are feeling a little heavy these days (but apparently the lightened it and lowered it in the Speedcross 3 - intriguing...) And of course, I try to get out in Vibram FiveFingers about once a week as well.

So, really, I think the XR Crossmax is just "to much" shoe for me right now. If I wasn't heading in the minimalist direction, these might find more of a place in my shoe line-up. And if I was looking for just one shoe to run both trails and road in, I can see that this would be a good choice. But that's not me. I need to have lots and lots of shoes...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Burton Creek Trail Run 2011

Well, it's starting to be trail racing season.

Team Library Dork all managed to get together again yesterday, and made it up to Lake Tahoe for the Burton Creek Trail runs - just like we did last year.

Chris, Dave, Amber and I all got met up somehow early Sunday morning for the drive over Mt. Rose and up the east side of the lake. It was nice to get everyone together again - it had been a while - and the drive flew by, catching up and teasing Amber. Before we knew it, we were pulling into an already kinda full parking area.

As we picked up our packets and bibs, the Salomon truck was backing it to the lot. Soon they were dragging out bags and bags of brand new demo shoes - pulling the tags off and sending people out in them. As I ran last year in a brand new pair of demo Merrells (after I broke a lace on the shoes I had brought) I decided not to try them out. Chris did, though - he did his warm-up in a pair of the new FellCross - and thanks to his sense of direction, didn't make it back to the start area in time to change back, so he raced in them.

(Of course, he'll tell you it was Amber's fault - she insisted on getting a couple pre-race pictures, which delayed his warm-up for a couple minutes. They came out pretty good, though -)

 Since I had run the course last year, I decided to head off for a little warm-up (and pee in the woods) during the course briefing. This probably turned out to be a mistake, since the course was changed a bit due to snow and wet trail conditions. I did manage to find out about the changes while chatting with people at the start line, waiting to go. Apparently, instead of the big 13 mile loop, they were going to run a 10 mile loop, and add the 5K course on to it at the end. I'm glad I heard about this - there were at least a few people who didn't get the message.

Here's my Garmin data from the actual run - click through to the Garmin Connect website for more detail.

And some pictures from the course.

 Early on -

 Little lake -

 Heading uphill -

 A bit of snow -

 Awesome meadow -

Bit more snow -

There were a couple of places that the whole trail was like a shallow river, and you had to pick your way pretty carefully through it if you wanted to stay dry. I somehow managed to, until about mile 9 at least. I can't imagine what the portions of the course that we were routed away from looked like...

So, the big challenge on this course is a steep downhill followed by a steep, then grinding uphill. Last year the downhill ended right at mile 10 - this year, it was more like mile 8. Right before the downhill, a runner caught up with and ran with me for a while - I asked if her name was Sarah. She said "How did you know that?" I told her that had heard a few people cheering for "Sarah" as I went past - apparently, it was her husband, who was out trailing her on a mountain bike. 

As the downhill started, my legs still felt pretty good. I let them go on the downhill a bit, then hit the uphill and was able to run up the first, main part of it. As it crested, though, I felt what I'd heard people talk about before - apparently I destroyed my quads going too fast down, and lost any power for the rest of the up. Of which there was still plenty. Sarah passed me on the long grinding hill, as well as two other guys that I had passed earlier.

As I came down toward the start/finish area after the first, "10-mile" loop, my watch read about 10.8 miles. That's where I started realizing this was going to be long. There were two gates at the finish line - one for finishers, and the other that bypassed it, for people doing laps. I took the lap gate, and headed back onto the course. That "5K" (3.7 miles , actually) felt a LOT different from the first time around. A couple logs that I sprang over earlier, I really had to work to make it past. But I did, and thanks to the downhill finish, I put some good power through the line. 14.5 miles total - that was a loooong half marathon.

I found Chris and Amber, who had run the 10K - Chris coming in second overall, and Amber pulling an age group third. They had a nice picnic set up, with sandwiches, watermelon, pie, and some nice beers - including what should be this race's official brew, Dogfish Head's Burton Baton.I enjoyed some of that while we waited for Dave to finish the half, and a couple of other friends to come through on their marathon laps. 

 I happened to be at the finish when Dave pounded in. The first thing he said to me was "Glad the course was short." Apparently he missed the info about the extra loop, and I felt bad telling him about it. He had already handed his tag in, but, to his credit, went back out to complete the race. Not sure if I was in his shoes if I wouldn't have just called it there. But good job getting it done, Dave.

We all hung out and soaked up some sun, food, brews and silliness. 

There were some award ceremonies -

And we got to see Abbey and Sarah pass by in the Marathon. Unfortunately, we had to take off before they finished.

Great day out there, anyway. The course being long was an unfortunate surprise, but that's what happens with the crazy spring weather we've been having. Overall, a good start to the Big Blue Trail Series, which continues next week with the Run to Squaw.

Results are up! Looks like I was sixth overall in the half, third in my age group. Congrats to Darren, who won the men's marathon with the only time under 4 hours. (Though there were two fast girls under too.) 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Weekend events 6/18-19/11

Busy weekend around the area. Three events that I know of on Saturday, and one on Sunday:

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reno 5000 Race #3
Third in the series - 5K, 10K, Marathon relay and kids 1 miler. Same place as always, in south Reno at RC Willey.

A Legendary Run in South Lake Tahoe
Benefiting the rebuilding of the track at South lake Tahoe High School, which was used for the 1968Olympic track & field trials. "A mix of flat and gentle hill road and single track trail running along Al Tahoe Blvd and 
through forest and meadow..." 5K and 10K options.

Running with the Cows 5K - Fallon
"This is a running event for the "rest of us" runners. The more a participant weighs, the earlier you start the race. There are seven weight divisions in the race. Each division will get a 2 minute head start over the next group, with the last group starting from scratch."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Burton Creek Trail Runs
"The Burton Creek Trail Run takes place on a beautiful, fun and challenging trail system within Burton Creek State Park in Tahoe City, CA.  The course features miles of single track through pine forests and high sierra meadows.  Burton Creek drains the runoff from Mt. Watson into Lake Tahoe.  You'll see and hear the creek often and June is a great wildflower time of year as well." 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon distances. The first race in the Big blue Trail Run Point series.

New Balance Minimus Road

About a month and a half ago, I had a couple gift cards from Scheels burning a hole in my pocket. My wife needed some new softball spikes, so she headed off upstairs to check them out while I headed to the running shoes to try some stuff on.

There had been a number of new minimal shoes come out just before this that I hadn't had a chance to see yet. Merrell had its Trail Glove series, and New Balance had the Minimus line, in both trail and road versions. Uncharacteristically, Scheels had one of each of these in my size, so I set about trying them on. 

Immediately upon trying the Merrell on, I knew it wasn't for me. Just felt wrong on my foot, and the toe box didn't work for my longer second toe. The New Balance Minimus Trail felt pretty good, but pretty much like a toe-finger-less (you know what I mean) FiveFinger - which I have a couple pairs of, and am happy with. When I tried on the Minimus Road, though, I knew I had found a shoe I could fit into my road shoe rotation.

Despite the weird rockered look of the shoe, it felt pretty natural on my foot. I walked around a bit, but really wondered what it felt like to run in. The sales guy let me on to the treadmill, and I did maybe a quarter mile, paying close attention to how my footfall felt. Everything seemed great, so I decided to take the shoes home.

Since then, I've had the chance to do a few runs in the Minimus Road. A few short runs, a couple long ones, and a little bit of speed work. Even one leg of a relay race. Here's my overview:

This is a nice, light shoe. The upper is featherweight but not unsupportive - it does a great job of keeping your foot where it needs to be. The sole simply feels natural to me. Not a zero-drop shoe, but with 4mm drop from heel-to-toe, it feels pretty close. The tread pattern might not be great in wet weather, but we don't get much of that here. Everything else - arch support, heel cup, lacing system, breathability - seems just fine.

As far as where this shoe fits in my line-up - it's a great light trainer. I don't think I'd throw it on for a serious race, although I was happy to rotate in in on the middle leg of a 3-leg relay. It feels good going fast, so I may wear it for intervals or track work sometime. The longest I've been on it so far is about 11 miles - I'm wary of taking it much farther than that, but I'm not sure why. It was just fine at that distance; don't see why it couldn't go further.

So - really happy with this shoe. I don't have a rating system, but - 4.5 out of 5? Hope to be wearing this one for a while to come.