Saturday, July 30, 2011

Moonlight Madness 5K

This year's Moonlight Madness race - light on the moonlight, but heavy on the madness.

I've done this race three times before, in 2008, 2009 and 2010, which I think is all the times it's been run. The first two years it ran in December, when it was actually dark out in the evening. Last year they switched it to July, and the race started while it was light and ended at dusk or just after, depending on your speed. Most of those first three races, the moon was covered by clouds, but peeked out for an appearance now and then. This year, though, they chose a date for the race that was only one day away from a new moon - so there wasn't much more than a silver.

Not that the moon was visible, anyway. After a pretty nice day, some threatening looking clouds rolled in for the afternoon. During the kid's mile race, a few stray lightning strikes started off to the east. They started the 5K/10K as billows of smoke started rising from a fire in Keystone Canyon, just above Rancho San Rafael. A few raindrops fell on me starting about 2/3 of the way through my run, but I finished and got undercover before the hard stuff started coming down. The 10K runners got completely drenched with painful pelting raindrops.

To add to the "Madness", some of the front runners got themselves off course. As they came past the start line area on the way up the hill, a few people peeled off to the right instead of continuing on the path straight up the hill. As I came by that point, paced by Chris, somebody yelled at us to "Go straight up the hill." Of course, it wasn't at all apparent what they meant by that. Really wish there had been some better signage there. Since I had run the course before, though, I just stayed on the path I knew and ended up running exactly 3.1 miles. When I got home, I compared my watch data to the courses from previous years, and it looks to me like I ran the exact same route.

We bailed out of the zoo that the finish pavilion turned into, with everyone huddling out of the rain, and came back to my house for a Team Library Dork beer tasting and pizza. The results got posted at pretty quickly, and I see that after all the mess, they have me as 10th overall in the 5K, and winning my age group. (And finishing right behind 1st female, my usual spot.)  Dave toughed it out for a strong, soggy finish too.

Wonder if they'll get around to sending out awards to people who didn't stick around in the rain after the race?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Biggest races

Running USA has released their statistics on the Largest Running Events for the year of 2010.  This is part of their State of the Sport Series, which also includes Runner Profiles, the results of their Runner Survey, and breakdowns by race distance. Fascinating stuff.

In the Largest running events category, though, they have a place to break it down by state. For our lovely state of Nevada, the top 4 were in Las Vegas, and the next 4 in size were in the Reno area. They were:

1. Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon/Half Marathon
2. Race for the Cure: Las Vegas Festiva/5K
3. Ragnar Relay Las Vegas 195 Mile
4. Great Santa Run 5K
5. Race for the Cure: Reno Festival/5K
6. Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Relay 178 Mile
7. Reno's Rock-n-River Marathon/Half Marathon/10K
8. Moms On The Run 5K/10K

Check out all the statistics at the links above. But good showing, Reno area! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Training plans are like recipes

Do you remember the first time you tried to bake chocolate chip cookies? Even though you followed the recipe on the back of that yellow package, probably something went wrong. The butter was too hard, so it didn't mix right. (Or too soft, so the cookies spread out on the sheet too much.) You may have placed the cookies too close together on the sheet, so they all became one big blob that you couldn't get off the pan. Maybe you didn't have baking powder, so substituted baking soda instead, with weird results. Or maybe your oven isn't calibrated right, so the cookies came out burned or undercooked. Anyway, the point is that even though you followed the recipe, there is enough leeway in there that you still need to learn a few things about how it really works.

It's pretty similar with training plans. You can print out any plan from the internet or a running magazine, or even get a custom plan from a coach, but until you go through it and see how your body reacts to it, it's hard to know how you'll respond to it. Most of the time, too, you'll make some little changes to any plan - I, for example, do a lot of my speed work on a treadmill - and all of the changes you make can affect a training plan's efficacy for better or worse. Are you cooling off enough between intervals? It the hill you've chosen to run hill repeats on too steep, or not steep enough? Does the schedule that your plan has you running allow enough recovery time for your body? Most of these variables can only be figured out for yourself by trial and error.

The training plan that I'm using right now is one from Outside Magazine, and it's tailored to help you run a 1:30 half marathon. It took me three tries, and four total cycles through the plan, before I made that goal. Each time I went through the plan, I tweaked it a little bit, until eventually I think I have it in a pretty good place for me. When I needed a training plan for my fall marathons this year, I simply modified the half plan to include longer weekend runs, and to include some longer tempo and speed work during the week. So far it's working well for me; we'll see how it does this fall.

So go out and find a training plan for whatever race you're looking at. But pay attention to how your body reacts to the different workouts, and don't be afraid to change things around a bit to better suit you. And then, after all that working out, go make some cookies.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Simple Hydration on Kickstarter

Over on Kickstarter right now is a project which may be of interest to the running community - A designer named Brian Hock has come up with an idea for a shaped water bottle that can tuck easily into a pocket or the waistband of a pair of shorts, negating the need for a waistbelt hydration system. This looks kind of intriguing to me, so I've funded it at the basic level. Take a look at it - it's at least an interesting take on the classic water bottle.

Do you guys know about Kickstarter? It's a site where people put up projects to be funded, set a goal, and people pledge toward that. If the goal isn't met, no money changes hands. If the goal IS met, the transaction goes through and the project goes ahead. Pretty cool way to crowdsource funding, and there end up being some interesting things there.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Are soft surfaces that important?

There have been a couple of decent articles in the last few days regarding studies that show that running on soft surfaces (say, dirt instead of pavement) and more cushioned shoes don't really have any effect on whether runners get injured. Gina Kolata seems to have started it off in the New York Times with her article "For Runners, Soft Ground Can Be Hard On The Body."  Amby Burfoot at Runner's World gives it his spin as well, with "If Grass and Shoe Cushioning Can't Prevent Injuries, What Can?"

Both articles are worth a read - I'd encourage you all to take a look.

Outside Magazine weighs in as well...

And the Beer Runner puts in his always awesome two cents.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reno 5000 Race #4 10K

Well, I finally made it to one of the Reno 500 series races. Made it work yesterday as part of my long run.

The start/finish line and expo area was still getting set up when I arrived at RC Wiley, about an hour and a half before race start. I wandered through, then took off down Steamboat, turned right to go past the high school, and basically ran 4 miles out and 4 miles back. Because it was such a nice, flat run, I was able to keep it to around 8 minute pace. Arriving back at the start/finish area, I ran into Ryan Cross, who would also be running to 10K. Also found my parents, who were in town and had come out to watch a race.

Timed it just about perfect - went to my car, changed shoes, took off my headphones, and made it back to the start just in time to see the 5K head out. Five more minutes, a little stretching, and the 10K was off as well.

This was the first time I've ever done a 10K that was a double loop of the 5K course. Worked out pretty well - although I meant to check my split as I came through, I got distracted by grabbing some water and forgot. The course was well marked on closed streets, which made it easy to roam back and forth to run the tangents.

My first mile was a little faster than I wanted, but I was trying to keep a few people in sight. Stayed right behind Ryan for the first couple miles, and eventually snuck past him. For the rest of the race, I could hear him behind me, and kept expecting him to show up at my shoulder. Keeping pace in the low to mid 6:50s, we both passed a few more people, and finished in 4th and 5th overall. Big high fives at the finish:

Since my training plan called for 16 miles (8 easy, 6 tempo, 2 easy) I still had a cool down of 2 miles to do. The route I chose took me by some wild horses:

And I made it back in plenty of time for the awards.

 Kids race

5K Elite males 

10K Male 20-29
(Ryan took 2nd) 

10K males 30-39
(I took 2nd)

So, a good race - I'm sure this would be a pretty fun series to do, if the dates didn't conflict with a bunch of other stuff for me. Maybe next year...

(And thanks, Chris, for reminding me - this was actually a 10K PR. 17 seconds faster than my previous PR. Celebrated post-race with an espresso/oak aged Yeti Imperial Stout from Great Divide Brewing...)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Events this weekend (7/16-17/11)

Two main events going on this weekend in the area:

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Reno 500 series Race #4

Yep, these just keep coming. 5K/10K, marathon relay and kids races. I think I might actually make it to this one on Saturday, using the 10K as the tempo section of a long run.

Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs

50K, 50 mile and 100 mile ultras in some of the most beautiful terrain around. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted to try to get in to this last minute - this is the first year in the last three I'll be sitting it out. Plenty of friends up doing it, though - good luck to everyone out there!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Running - Away From Home

There are a few race-free weekends coming up, and last weekend was one of them as well. We used it to get out of town - we drove from Reno up to Vancouver, WA (where my parents live) to go to a birthday party in Portland and leave the kids for a week with Grandma and Grandpa.

Of course, this was the first week of the training schedule I had drawn up for the Tahoe Marathon, and I had a 16 mile run on the books for Sunday. Pretty sure that I wasn't going to be up for it after the birthday party Saturday night, I got it done on Saturday morning.

From my parents house just north of old downtown Vancouver, I headed west on 4th Plain. This took me on a bridge over a railroad yard, through a little industrial area, and eventually paralleled the Columbia River. At about the 8 mile mark, I turned around and headed back.

I had left pretty early - about 4:45. Just light enough to see at that point. Here's the sun eventually coming out, peeking it's way over the shoulder of Mt. St. Helens.

Most of the run was on the wide shoulder of the road, but after Vancouver lake Park there is a bike path to run on for awhile. This ends near Frenchman's Bar, another park area, so it was back onto the road after that. Mercifully, traffic was still almost nonexistent, because there was no shoulder here. The vegetation had grown right to the edge of the road, creating kind of a tunnel effect in places. Ran past a couple of houseboat parking areas, then turned around.

I made a little detour into Frenchman's Bar - my parents had said the water had been so high down there that it was covering some of the playground equipment. It wasn't near that high now, but it was definitely above average...

As I made my way back to the bike path and road, I spotted these - obviously remnants of a birthday party. They were in weird splash of color in the dull morning that was starting to perk up at that point.

The run back in had a bit more traffic - big double loader trucks, primarily. When I was on the road, I ran against traffic, and they were pretty conscientious about giving me a little room. Did a couple fartleks up the last hill and was happy to be done.

Fun to get a training run in somewhere than the normal Reno routes.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Salomon Speedcross 3 review

A few weeks ago at the Burton Creek trail race, I was happy to see a giant Salomon truck pulling up to the start area.  While we were picking up our bibs and whatnot, they were busy pulling some giant bags of brand new demo shoes out of the back:

They had a few different models - the Crossmax XRs, which I have a pair of, the Speedcross 3, a new version of the Speedcross 2, which I also have a pair of, and an aggressive new shoe called the Fellcross.

I wasn't into trying a pair out that morning -I had my MT101s all laced up and ready - but despite the colors, I was intrigued by the looks of the Speedcross 3.  A few weeks later, at the Truckee Running Festival half marathon, I was able to demo them during the race.

In chatting with the Salomon rep as I slipped a pair on, I learned that the changes from the Speedcross 2 to the 3 were minimal but important. Basically, he said, they lightened it, lowered it, and widened it. As that's what I've been looking for in a shoe lately, I was excited to run in them. The fit was, right off the bat, everything I've come to expect from a Salomon - perfect fit from the start.

The course that day turned about to be perfect to test these shoes. There was some dirt road, a bit of pavement, some easy trail mileage as well as some very technical, rocky singletrack. The Speedcross 3s held up to all of it wonderfully.

On anything covered with dirt, these shoes felt perfect. The aggressive tread plowed through the sandy stuff we had in some of the early miles. I know from my Speedcross 2s that this tread pattern will shed mud, too - not that we had any that day. Once we started the serious trails, climbing and descending, I could tell that the shoes had been lowered - they felt much closer to the more minimal models I've been running in recently.

Weirdly, it was on the sections of pavement that I was most impressed with how these worked. The fact that they were lower definitely contributed, but I think some subtle changes to the tread pattern at the heel helped as well. My Speedcross 2's felt - well, kind of "tippy" any time I had to run on pavement. The 3s had none of that instability at all. Very good changes made there.

As far as the shoe feeling wider, I didn't really notice - but maybe that's just because I'm more used to a little more foot splay from my recent footwear choices.

Honestly, the only thing that would stop me from buying a pair of these is the color choice. That neon is a little too much for me - I prefer a more "stealth" look to my shoes.

So, way to go, Salomon. That's the way to update a shoe - keep everything that worked, change the couple things that didn't, and maybe lighten it up a bit.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Big Blue/Zombierunner contest

Speaking of all the Big Blue races I've been doing recently, it looks like they have a pretty good little contest going on through their Facebook page. They've got a giveaway there for a $100 gift card to

If you haven't ever been to Zombierunner, go check them out right now. If you do any kind of trail running, they have an incredible stock of stuff you just have to have. Shoes, clothing, nutrition, hydration, all sorts of accessories – it's the kind of site where you just always find an extra item to add to your order. I've had great experience ordering through them, too – speedy delivery and always a little something extra in the box, like their ginger chews. Great company.

So get in on that drawing over on Facebook. Worth a couple of extra clicks...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Run to the Beach 2011

A flurry of races over the 4th of July long weekend. Finished it up with the Run to the Beach, yet another Big Blue race, run from North Tahoe Regional Park down to King's Beach.

Team Library Dork was a gain out in force, Amber (despite racing Saturday and Sunday) and Dave heading up to this one with me. Chris was at the Firecracker Mile in Truckee, who we tried to catch up with after - more on that later.

We all pulled into he parking lot at North Tahoe Regional Park just after 7, and we were about the third car there. Perfect timing - after we moseyed over and picked up our bibs, the lot was filling up and the line looked like this:

We wasted some warming up and dorking around (like we do)...

And, only about 15 minutes past the advertised start time, were rewarded with a race briefing.

Eventually we had an informal line-up and took off, 5 and 10K at the same time, for a lap around the soccer fields and then onto the course. it started with a mean little uphill:

And then onto a nice combination of fire roads and singletrack. Here are a couple pics from the early stages:

Pretty soon the 10K split off from the 5K. There was supposed to be a person waiting here guiding the runners to the right courses; unfortunately someone had slipped past him and he had run off to chase him down. As I came up on the turn, he was working his way back, telling people to head to the left for the 10K. I had already gone past the turn, though, because - the turn wasn't marked. At all. This was a pretty big fail right here in my book - although of course the plan was to have someone stationed there, things tend to happen - and a simple 5K/10K arrow sign really isn't that hard to come up with. I think a good 8-10 people passed me here as I turned back to take the correct trail - all but one of whom I eventually passed.

This is a good place to show you some maps. Here's the Google Earth view of the route:

And the map data from my Garmin:

The link to Garmin connect:

And the elevation profile that I teased out of Google Earth, which very closely matched my watch data. (After I flipped it - I think they did the mapping from the finish back, which is why the numbers show up backwards...)

After the 10K turnoff, we did the grind up to that high point. The last bit was pretty dang steep, and I did some walking up to the top - while still maintaining my position behind the guy in front of me, who was running. Yep, that kind of hill. Big downhill after, though, after which we tuned back onto the 5K course to plow down to the finish. I had stopped taking pictures to concentrate on running at this point.

Not long after we passed the 5K/10K split again, we hit the road for a couple rolling hills before more downhill. We passed the golf course, turned onto the main road by the lake, and crossed over toward the beach. From here it was half to 3/4 of a mile on the beach, which  was mostly on packed sand. Since it's such a high water year, though, we actually had to get in the water to get around a couple piers and things. Cool Tahoe water felt pretty good at that point, but I had some pretty squishy shoes going on.

We were passing a lot of 5K runners at that point, but I was sure I had a 10k person right on my tail, so splashed my way pretty aggressively through the last bit. An uphill finish in leg-churning sand had me putting my head down and gutting it out - to find , at the finish, that there was no one near me. Not sure what I was imagining there, but at least it was a strong finish.

The Big Blue crew was doing their best to get the finish area organized, but seemed woefully understaffed today. The RD, Todd Jackson, was handing out t-shirts from the trailer and promising that the shuttle back to the start would be there "soon" - at about 15 minute increments. This was of prime importance to us, as we wanted to try to make it back to Truckee in time to cheer/heckle Chris at the Firecracker Mile. (This was of course made less possible by the late start to the race in the first place.)  The van eventually showed up, and we sent Amber back to the start to pick up her car - Dave and I waiting at the finish to see if anyone won anything. But by the time Amber texted to say she was leaving the start area, they hadn't posted the results - so I'm still not sure where I finished.

A frantic drive over 267 to Truckee, and Dave and I jumped out of the car to jog up to the finish. We quickly realized that the Mile had already ended, but couldn't find Chris in the parade/race finish mess. Before too long, though, we found Amber again, and Gretchen, who had taken 3rd female in the mile (a week after smoking Western States 100.)

After a LOT more milling around, we spotted Chris - he had ended up winning the mile, and was coming back from his cool down. We hooded up with his family for a while, and got a picture or two:

But Amber, Dave and I were getting pretty hungry by this point, and had to take off to find some food. We made it to Fifty/Fifty Brewing and reinforced our opinion of the place: great beers, great food, but wow, it takes a long time to be served. We thought ahead, though, and ordered some nachos to take the edge off.

Don't know when my next race is - I may be sitting them out for a little while here. Training for the Lake Tahoe Marathon starts in earnest next week. But this was a pretty good wrap up to the early summer race season -

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Reno 5000 Firecracker Duathlon

Finally, I got to attend a Reno 5000 event. I wasn't running today, but got to tag along and pace my friend and fellow Team Library Dork member Amber - who was herself sitting in for a friend who was injured and couldn't do her running legs of the relay.

We met at the race start area about an hour before the start, and quickly found Richard and Emma - Richard would be doing the bike portion, and Emma was sitting out. Here's Richard and Amber, pre-race -

We took Amber through the pre-race stuff including the "body marking" - kinda weird for me - I'm a runner and have never witnessed this strange ritual...

Before too long, it was time for the start. I managed to get a picture before sneaking back onto the course to catch up with Amber.

The format of this duathlon was 5K run, 30K bike, 5K run. It was kind of crowded on the first lap of the run, and I didn't manage to get any decent pictures until we moved from the paved roads onto the dirt. From there it was a pretty simple elevation profile. We went up a hill:

Did some flattish stuff at the top of the hill:

And then headed into some rocky, technical downhill:

A little more on the road, and it was back to the start/finish for the first transition.

And Richard was off. Amber, Emma and I milled about for awhile, but Richard made good time on the bike, so before we knew it, it was time to run again. Here's T2:

I caught up to Amber on the other side of the transition area, ans she seemed to be feeling better - the nagging calf cramp that she had during the first 5K had gone away. It felt like we were moving faster on the second lap, though that may have been just the lack of people around us. So now, we just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery.

I had changed from road shoes to my FiveFingers Treksports for the second 5K, so was being pretty careful with my footing. Between that, keeping an eye on amber, looking out for other runners coming along, and looking out for good photo ops (trying to minimize shooting into the sun, etc.) I had a lot to think about. Here's what I came up with on the second run:

At one point, a string of faster runners came through. I had got out in front a little to get a photo, and was able to catch this. It looks like Amber is about to fall, but I don't remember that - I think it's just a trick of the camera.

Not too much longer, and I had to sprint ahead to get a finish picture. There was kind of  a traffic jam, though, and this was the best I was able to do:

After the finish, we had a lot of hanging around, trying on of shoes, rehydrating and finding of shade. Eventually, the raffles and awards were done - Amber and Richard ended up with 3rd in the coed relay division. Nice little crystal trophy for that. Richard won a jersey in the raffle - the last raffle prize awarded other than the Trek bike they gave away.

(You can almost see Amber's hat in there somewhere...)

All in all, a very well run race. I'm kind of curious about the whole duathlon thing (I don't really swim, so am not really tri-curious) and this made it look pretty intriguing. I'd also like to come out and run in one of the Reno 5000 races - seems like they've got a pretty good thing going on.

Thanks for dragging me out to this, Amber - had a good time. More pictures here, for anyone who's interested.