Saturday, August 27, 2011

Big Blue 10K

Well another weekend, another race in the Big Blue Trail series. This week was the Big Blue 5K/10K - and since it was another Saturday race, none of my Team Library Dork friends were able to come out and play. So, I trundled myself up to Incline Village this morning all by myself.

Did something different on the way, though - I stopped for coffee. I stopped drinking coffee at the beginning of the year, specifically to see what effect race-day caffeine would have on me. Up to this point, though, I've only used caffeine in gels while running, never actual coffee before a race. I waited unitl I had got up to the race area and checked in, then drank the small coffee (from Purple Bean) about 45 minutes before start time.

The Big Blue races took place on the same course as the running section of the XTerra Tahoe Triathlon. The triathletes went off at 8 AM, the runners at 9. My warm-up consisted of jogging down to the place where the swim exited the water and watching a wave come out, then following them back up to the transition area. I'd never really been at a triathlon before, so it was interesting to see. I threw in a few strides on the soccer fields before the runner's race briefing and start.

Since I hadn't done this course before, I wasn't sure what to expect. The maps on big Blue's website just showed the course winding around south of Incline Village proper. And, in fact, that's what it did - but what a great course! There was a little bit of everything - lots of singletrack, some dirt roads, a few sections of pavement across parking lots or along the sides or roads; rocky sections, a variety of bridges from single logs to bigger wooden ones, and even a wild swampy section right near the turnaround/finish.  Rocks and logs to jump over, trees to duck under - just a super fun course. Very winding, too - you could see other runners on different sections quite often, which is a feature that I like. This would have been a great course to have a video camera on - unfortunately, I left my phone/camera in the car. I did get out and take a few pictures after I finished, though:


Turning to head across the final bridge.

Coming off the final bridge.

Heading into the marshy section, over the log.

Still some sprinklers going here.

And across the finish line.

As far as how my race went - well, here's the stats (click through to the Garmin website for more detail) :

And, for the sake of completeness, the elevation profile. This is the 10K, so divide in half if you want to see the 5K. Some ups and downs, but not that hilly - at least compared to last week's race, the Northstar Mountain Run.

As far as how the caffeine affected me - I think I went out a little fast on the first lap.  Looking at it in retrospect, though, it wasn't really that bad. After some trading places int he first mile, I held my position pretty well for the first lap. About a mile into the second lap, I got passed by one guy, whom I stayed with. He passed someone else, who then passed him back. My strategy was to stay behind these two until the finial mile, then see if I had enough left to do any passing during the last section. As it turned out, I didn't. They stretched out a few feet away from me in the last quarter mile, and I caught most of that up in the last 200 yards, but we finished in the same order that we'd run the final mile and a half. That left me in seventh overall, and fourth in my age group. Only a couple points toward the series standings.

Here I am near the end of the first lap - photo courtesy of Ryan Evans (of, soon to be of Reno Running Company)

Not long after the finish, I was handed this:

Pretty slick timing tickets - I assume because they were piggybacking on the XTerra timing system?

At any rate, that was a really, really fun race. Of all the Big Blue races I've done this year, that's one that I might make an effort to come back for - mostly because I liked the course so much. It was pretty cool seeing all the triathletes out there as well.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Weekend races 8/27-28/11

Hey, there's another weekend coming up! That means at aleast a couple more races in the area...

Saturday, August 27, 2009

"Previously the location of the XTERRA USA Championship race, this is one of the all time classic XTERRA courses. Racers start with a swim in famous Lake Tahoe, one of the purest and deepest lakes in North America. The bike section test racers’ climbing and fitness levels. The bike starts up tunnel creek, a somewhat sandy gradual climb. Racers pop out from tunnel creek onto the area’s famous Flume Trail, which skirts the mountain side overlooking Lake Tahoe. Riders continue on past Marlette Lake and down a rocky and fast Tahoe Rim Trail. The views are breathtaking!  Both the Short and Long course complete the 22 mile bike with approximately 4000 feet of climbing. After the biking section racers transition onto a trail running course that is relatively flat, fast and scenic with tall pines, aspens, and creek crossings. 

Course Distances: 
Full Course: 2X 750 meter swim laps with a 50 meter beach run, 22 mile bike, 6 mile run
Short Course: 750 meter swim lap, 22 mile bike, 3 mile run"

This is one or two laps on the XTerra running course, run while the triathletes are out swimming and biking. Part of the Big Blue Trail Run series.

"For fabulous trail running at a Higher Level check out this Event in El Dorado County.  The course is 75% single tract, 20% dirt road, 5% pavement.  TCTRuns takes you to awesome high elevation in the Sierra where you can experience beautiful trails and spectacular views, plenty of sections for easy passing of runners.   All sections very runnable, some technical, tough sections with very steep, rocky terrain.  This is an extremely rewarding and challenging course." 10 mile, 20 mile, 50k and 50 mile options.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Northstar Mountain Run

Perfect weather greeted 50 or so runners this morning for the Northstar Mountain Run, put on by Big Blue Adventures. A little chilly before the start, nice during the run, and warm enough by the end that the winds on top of Mt. Pluto were refreshing.

Heading up from Reno, I got there early enough to wander around the village for awhile, pick up my bib, and do a bit of warming up. Eventually we all headed up to the informal start line for a race briefing:

Pretty soon we were off. And climbing. Here's what the elevation profile of this 10.2K (6.26 mile) race looked like:

It felt a bit more rolling than that, to be honest - I seem to remember some flatter areas in there that don't show up on the chart. There was even a funny section of switchbacks - which looked like this to the runner:

And this on my Garmin data:

Not long after that, we passed the photographer, who got these:

Hey, pictures of me! Novel concept -

But, yeah - it was a tough run. Most of it was looking straight uphill, like this:

Or, if you remembered to turn your head for a side view once in a while, you got views like this:

Nice, huh? The miles slogged by until I was pretty certain we were nearing the top - around 6 miles on my watch. With about a quarter mile left, runners were faced with this hill - I promise the picture doesn't do it justice. It was much more intimidating in person.

That hill took us to within about a hundred yards of the finish line. I was relieved and a little shaky at the top, and apparently wasn't watching my feet, because I took a pretty hard fall with about 50 yards left. landed on both my palms, rolled onto my right hip, and got pretty dusty and dirty. Here's the aftermath - a bloody hand:

Ah, it's not too bad. I hadn't had a good trail fall in a while, I was overdue.

I let my heart rate settle down at the top a bit, and had an electrolyte drink and some watermelon. Wandered to a good vantage point and took this panorama with a new Android app, Pano.

The first page of results got posted pretty quick, and I learned that the one guy that passed me on the course wasn't in his 50s, like I thought, but 39 - in my age group. (He looked older from the back...) That pushed me  to 4th in my age group, so I didn't bother waiting around for the awards. Besides, there was still a ways to go to get back to the village...

So we were a the top of the mountain - how were we going to get back down? Well, there's these ski lift things. Unfortunately, though, they weren't running the Pluto lift that we were right next to, so we had to walk back down a couple miles to the next one. (The RD said that if they have a bigger turnout for the race, Northstar might run the upper lift for them. That would be nice.) Anyway, I made it down and only had to wait a couple minutes for a "download" lift:

Now that's a good way to get down a mountain. Although, the big downhill mountain bikes we were watching on our way looked pretty fun too...

So, another Big Blue race out of the way. No series points earned for me on this one, but at least I got some good altitude hill training in. Now I hope this hip that I fell on isn't sore tomorrow...

(Huh, I forgot they do 5 year age groups - I actually came in third. There's another pint glass I missed out on...)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Weekend events 8/20-21-11

A couple of decent races going on this Saturday:

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Reno 5000 Race #5

Another in this series of 5K/10Ks - online entry closes 8/18, so hurry if you want to get in on that. Or register at the Expo at RC Wiley on Friday from 4-7 PM.

Northstar Mountain Run

If you missed the Squaw Mountain Run a few weeks ago, but still feel like racing uphill at altitude, give this one a try. Part of the Big Blue Adventure trail racing series, This is a 10.2K run starting at 6330 feet and ending at 8310. They say it's "runnable" - we'll see about that...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The best thing I've heard about the Saucony Kinvaras

Was yesterday, from Jelisa Castrodale - sportswriter, running blogger, Jeopardy champion and Golden Girls stalker. She says her new pair of Kinvara 2s make her feel "like I've strapped a pair of angel faces to my feet." Rest of her post on them here.

I'm still working on my original Kinvaras, which have some life left in them. Pretty soon, though, I'll have to start wearing the Kinvara 2s that I just got in the mail from Roadrunner Sports - they're the pair I plan to wear in my fall marathons.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I think I'm currently pre-registered for more races than I have ever been - 7 right now, if I'm counting right.
four Big Blue races, to round out their trail series - The Northstar Mountain Run, the Big Blue 10K, the Emerald Bay Trail Run (Bay to Bliss), and the Oktoberfest "Trail" Run (quotes are mine.) I just signed up for the marathon distance of the Lake of the Sky Trail Runs, which is two weeks out from the Lake Tahoe Marathon, my first fall goal race. And I registered months ago for the California International Marathon in December, to get the cheapest pre-registration price.

Feels kind of weird to have my fall running planned out so far in advance...

Local events 8/10-14/11

Getting the "Weekend Events" post out a bit early this week, because of the:


Thin Air Distance Festival
"The Thin Air Distance Festival is a four day staged running race, with its location in majestic and beautiful South Lake Tahoe. From the serious to the casual competitor, it offers a different way to test one’s fitness and abilities. "

The four days of running events are: Thursday 10K, Friday 11K, Saturday 10 mile (also a 5K event) and Sunday 5K. If you run all 4 days, the distance totals to a marathon.

Also this weekend: 


Scheels Spark-a-delic 5K/10K

Run outside of the Scheels store in Sparks, usually incorporating Sparks Marina as part of the course, this race always has great prizes and swag. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Guess the winning time

We're a couple weeks away from Big Blue Adventure's Northstar Mountain Run, and they're running a contest on their Facebook page to guess the winning time. Winner gets a Kleen Kanteen. Give it a shot!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Events for the weekend of 8/6-7/11

A few events going on in the area this Saturday, August 6th:

Squaw Valley Mountain Run
"For the past 30 years, on the first Saturday of August, hundreds runners and hikers have made the annual pilgrimage to the top of Squaw Valley to enjoy a great workout with stunning views of Lake Tahoe and the High Sierra.
Starting at the base of Squaw Valley USA (6200’) the course climbs the 3.6 mile mountain run to High Camp (8200’) where awards, raffle, music, light refreshments & beer are provided."

Pyramid Lake Sprint Triathlon

"The triathlon is a annual event sponsored by the Reno Area Triathlon club to benefit local organizations and charities. The Southwest Region of UAT is sponsoring a series of developmental sprint races to encourage youth (ages 13-15) and juniors (ages 16-19) athletes to participate in triathlons. 
Swim: 65-75° expected water temperature; wetsuits recommended. (1) .5 mile loop Bike: 14 Miles - Flat and fairly fast with a few rolling hills. Course goes north State Route 445 to the half way turnaround , then heads south back to the Marina. Run: Flat and Fast. Loop course goes south of the Marina via pavement and an old railroad grade. Sprint Distance: (1) 3 mile loop."

Run a 5K around Sparks Marina to benefit Nevada Breastfeeds.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Hey, whaddya know - another new social-network-for-active-people to try out. This one is called GoodPeopleRun - put together by a couple of guys from Ottawa. Looks like it could be pretty cool - they posted some screenshots here. Weird thing is, they're not "unlocking" a particular area until at least 25 people from that area sign up for it. As far as I can tell, I'm the only one in the Reno area so far. (Or is it done by individual zip code? It's hard to tell...) So take a look, people, let's open this up this and see how cool it could be.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Reno area scientist/ultrarunner featured in Popular Science

Flipping through last month's issue of Popular Science, I was surprised to read the words " Andrews and I lope down a path along the Truckee River that takes us away from the clutter of cut-rate casino hotels, strip malls and highway exit ramps that is downtown Reno, Nevada." It turned out I was reading an article on Bill Andrews, a molecular biologist who, with his biotech startup in Reno, Sierra Sciences, is part of a race to "cure aging."

Andrews is also an accomplished ultrarunner - the article quotes that he's run more than 100 races of 50 miles of more, including Badwater in 2009. While he doesn't directly attribute his running success to the anti-aging work he does, it does make sense to stay in shape if you're trying to live forever.

The article is pretty in-depth, concentrating on the human gene for telomerase production. I can't pretend to have grasped all of it, but it was pretty interesting. Wild stuff, happening right here in Reno's backyard.