23 March 2014

San Diego Hot Chocolate 15K

This morning I ran the 3rd Annual San Diego Hot Chocolate 15K Run. Only one word can describe it - Awesome!

I won a free entry to this race last month from Race Grader and it gave me an excuse to take the family to San Diego for the weekend.  We left Vegas after work/school and checked into our hotel six hours later on Friday night.  On Saturday, we went to the packet pick-up and got there about 20 minutes before it opened at 10AM which put me as one of the first ten in line.  It went smooth with us getting a square of chocolate at the door as we entered.  Once inside, I went straight to the check-in where the volunteer scanned the QR code in my e-mail and handed me my bib.  After that, I took the bib to the next station where another volunteer handed me my goodie bag which contained a nice long sleeved hooded running shirt that will go into my closet and see a lot of use as on outer layer on morning runs once it cools back down in the fall here in Vegas.  Total time from the door opening to me walking back to the car was less than five minutes.  Once that was done, we headed to SeaWorld to enjoy the rest of the day.

This morning, we got up early and headed to the race start and began to search for parking. Parking was found in a parking garage across the street and I found my corral spot after all the 5K starters (note - there were over 7700 5K finishers and a lot of corrals for them) had crossed the starting line.  I was in the second corral and hung out on the side chatting with my wife while we waited for my start time.  At the scheduled start time, the first corral took off and my corral moved up to the start line.  Three minutes later, we were off!
Starting in a corral was interesting, especially since I started at the front of the pack.  For the first half mile or so, I was in the top ten which hasn't happened in a race since I was running cross country as a senior in high school in 1992.  Also, right from the start it was obvious that the course was well laid out and well marked.  Additionally, we had a pair of cyclists leading our corral until we started to pass a decent number of runners from the first corral at which point they peeled off and served as safety for the mass of runners.

The first two mile were rolling hills that went through sections of apartments, condos, small storefronts and  part of the San Diego City College.  At Mile 2, we turned onto a road that bisected Balboa Park and began a long uphill section that ended just before the Mile 4 marker.

At Mile 3 was an aid station.  I slowed down, grabbed a cup, took a few sips and dropped it in the trash.  Shortly after that, we crossed the 5K mark and my watch showed 28:33.  I continued up the hill and entered a residential neighborhood shortly before the hill topped out.  From that point, the course went through a series of rollers that continued through Mile 8 as it skirted the golf course in Balboa Park and went through more residential sections.

Shortly after Mile 5, there was another aid station.  In addition to the water, they were handing out the same little blocks of chocolate that I got at packet pick-up.  Of course I grabbed one!  I continued on as I munched on my square of chocolate.

At the 10K mark, I checked my time. It was 58:05 which meant that I had slowed down a little bit - 29:32 for the second 5K.  I pressed on.  At Mile 8, we were treated to a long downhill section that winded through several neighborhoods and had another aid station in it (Note - There was another aid station between this one and the one with chocolate but I don't remember where it was).  This downhill continued until a short hill just prior to the Mile 9 marker before continuing downhill and leveling off just before the finish line.  As I passed the final marker, I knew that I was just a couple of turns from the finish and found a new gear to run at.  My time at the finish line was 1:24:50 which means that I covered the third 5K in 26:45 (major negative split - Woo hoo!).  Overall, I am very happy with that time.  It placed me 714 out of 3488 finishers, 347 out of 913 men and 63 out of 160 35-39 year old men.

After the race, I walked through the long chute and grabbed a couple of cups of Gatorade and a bottle of water from the volunteers before heading out of the chute to find my wife and kids near the play zone (Note - my youngest son loved that the organizer had this area set up).  Once we met back up, we walked over to redeem the voucher from my bib and got the plastic bowl full of hot chocolate, marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate fondue, pretzels and a banana.

Overall, it was a well organized event that supported over 11,000 runners between the 5K and 15K.  It was definitely the largest event that I have raced in and left me looking forward to another big race.

Next up - The Windy25 5K on April 5th and Rockin' Rabbit Half Marathon on April 6th.

16 March 2014

Six Tunnels To Hoover Dam St. Patrick’s Day Run

I ran  my fourth half marathon yesterday. It was the Six Tunnels To Hoover Dam St. Patrick’s Day Run near Boulder City, NV and was put on by Mountain Man Events out of Flagstaff, AZ.  It is safe to say that there was a lot of green being worn by the 350 half marathon, 60 half marathon relay and 341 5K runners.

In November and December, I ran a decent portion of this course on 12K and half marathon events.  The big difference between this race and the 12K on Thanksgiving was that we ran uphill for just under three miles and back down the same hill on an out-and-back paved trail (part of the River Mountain Loop Trail) before running the same course for the final 12K as I ran on Thanksgiving.

Six Tunnels To Hoover Dam Finisher's Medal
Overall, I really didn't know what to expect going into this race.  As mentioned in previous posts, my back has been sore for the last two weeks and has had a definite detrimental effect on my training during that time.  When I woke up on race morning, it was still slightly sore.  I took some ibuprofen and between that and the prerace adrenaline, the lingering pain subsided.

When the race started, I took off at what felt like a decent pace (ran GPS-free) and worked the uphill and downhill paved sections. I gave a high five to my wife (running the half as a two person relay) and some coworkers shortly after the turn around.  On the way back down the hill, runners were treated to a great view of Hoover Dam and were serenaded by a bagpiper as we went through tunnel beneath the Lakeshore Road which cuts through the Lake Mead National Recreation Area. After that part was done, runners turned onto the old railroad bed and headed towards the turnaround at the top of Hoover Dam parking garage.  Upon reaching the parking garage, I ran a few extra steps and got in a good view of the Hoover Dam before turning to start the uphill back to the trail.  After getting to the top of the hill, it was a push back through the tunnels to the finish.  I ended up with a 2:11:15 which was very solid considering how I felt prep-wise going into this but I wish I shaved those extra 15 seconds to get my split average under 10 minutes.

One observation from this race - It is getting borderline too warm for calf sleeves.  This popped into my mind around Mile 11.

Next race - San Diego Hot Chocolate 15K on March 23rd.

14 March 2014

back pain - a haiku

lower back still sore

another race tomorrow

pre-race Motrin, yes

10 March 2014

Daylight Savings Time

Today I saw a post on Facebook that asked "What's the number one reason we runners get so happy about Daylight Savings Time?".

When reading the responses, I realized that I am the exception.  A lot of people commented about being able to run in daylight or sunset runs. However, I love running in the morning before the sun comes up.  I love the quietness of my corner of the city before the commuters hit the streets.  I love seeing the lights of the Vegas Strip off in the distance to the south. I love seeing the sky changing color before the sun peaks over the mountains to the east of the city.  DST extends out the time that I get to see this for a little bit longer.

When I run in the morning, I wear an Amphipod Xinglet. It lightweight and virtually unnoticeable on most of my runs.  I also take a headlamp for the mornings that I am heading out to run on trails.  Both are a safety issue.

09 March 2014


My back aches.  Running didn't cause it but it definitely affects my running.

It started last Sunday when I torqued it putting my kayak on the roof of my SUV.  It hurt for a few days but I was still able to run on it and managed to get in four good runs over the week to include a solid speed day on Tuesday and an 8.5 mile run on Friday.

On Friday night, I spent the evening doing some volunteer work to set up for a local marathon.  Over a three hour span, I set up 1100 orange cones over 13.1 miles (out-and-back course).  It involved a lot of heavy lifting and lugging with the stacks of cones in the back of a moving van and early on I started to notice my back flaring up.  Two days later, walking around is OK but I am struggling to get out of a chair, pick something off the floor, etc.

Today was supposed to be a long run and it definitely did not happen.  With a hilly half marathon next Saturday, I need my back to feel better. I've already taken two days off and hope that I don't need to take off too many more.

This sucks.

01 March 2014

February running

February is in the books and another 100+ mile month is done.  I finished the month with 14 runs for 100.5 miles. As noted in an earlier post, I took a week off following the marathon on the 1st and got back into the swing of things on the 9th. I took off two more normal run days, the 15th and 16th, due to a family trip to Disneyland.

Training-wise, I am putting an emphasis on building speed back up.  To do this, I am pushing hard on short runs, working hard on hills and throwing surge miles into my medium and long runs,  I am specifically plugging in two short days a week (Tuesday and Thursday) to hammer from start to finish.  I am not neglecting the longer distances and got in a 15 mile run last Saturday at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

I am also getting back into crosstraining.  I knocked out a cardio class and spin class this week.  I am getting in some kayak time at Lake Mead tomorrow.

Oh yeah, last but not least, I turned 39 in February....two more weeks to half marathon number four.