Saturday, May 31, 2014

Double Dipsea Training Run : May 31st, 2014

I applied for both the Double Dipsea, now hosted by Brazen Racing, and the regular Dipsea since I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get into the latter.  Surprise!  I somehow managed to get into the second oldest (oldest trail) race in the United States and coveted by Mill Valley and many other runners.  Then, I had that head-slap moment when I realized not only was I running two Dipsea races in a month but I had never run ANY of the marine headlands and no clue what I was in for.  Thus began my investigation and eventual Double Dipsea training run one week prior to the Dipsea!

The Dipsea : Second Sunday in June : June 8th, 2014
Double Dipsea  : Two weeks following Dipsea  : June 22nd, 2014

I knew that The Dipsea is considered an 'Open' course where in theory you can use any route from start to finish and that the race is handicapped based on criteria such as Age.  However,  'short cuts' are only allowed IF you know them and don't violate any of the regional park rules, etc.  In other words, you better know the short cut well or don't take it lest you get lost or DQ'ed.

I needed to find an experienced Dipsea runner and fast!  I solicited FB trail groups around the Marin area and was lucky to find not only knowledgeable trail runners, but friendly and willing to show a newbie around.  Specifically, Leigh-Ann and Eduardo from 'NorCal Trailheads (mentias adventum trekkium) offered to help and I ended up running with Leigh-Ann because Leigh-Ann started later and at a non-suicidal pace I could maintain.

We agreed to meet at the Old Mill Park entrance on Throckmorton Ave at 7:30AM and sure enough Leigh-Ann arrived and was waiting 7:30AM.  Downtown Mill Valley parking is metered (2hr and some 4 hour) but outside the park is first come, first served all day.  I got there 15min early and managed to secure a spot right by the entrance.  Not sure what I'm going to do on race day other than get there hours ahead of the race start.

We waited for one other runner a Triathlete named Chris then off we started.  It should be noted that at the park entrance is a restroom and water fountain.  What more could a runner ask for?

We got about a few paces then bang stairs. Nothing but stairs and short stretches of road over and over again.  You basically climb for 70 min, then run down for 70 min as it is a mountain after all.  There are several neat things about running in this area that locals might not appreciate because they live there and those are:
  • Lush plant growth!  OMG there are redwoods, ferns, lichen and basically green everywhere.  In the East Bay we get about a month of green around St Patricks day then the rolling hills turn brown.
  • Incredible running weather!  It started about 54 degrees and warmed up to about 60?  We started on the Mill Valley (MV) side with partial sun but by the time we got up to about 1000 ft we were in the clouds with condensation forming rain drops that would rain down tree leaves but not quiet making the earth.  On the Stinson side it was a bit windy with mist and felt great.  In the East Bay at this time we are at least 10-20 warmer.
  • Beautiful redwood trees! OK that's plant/tree growth, but redwood groves are just in their own special category.
I was pretty busy trying not to trip on exposed rocks and roots so I didn't take many pictures going out to Stinson Beach but I did get these:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Western States training weekend : Day 2 - The best $35 ever spent on training

On my bucket list is to do all three days of the Western States Memorial Training Weekend but this year I did just Saturday which was enough of an introduction into the craziness called WS.

If you live in the area you can get a supported run complete with fully stocked aid stations and burgers/water melon at the 'finish' for $35 per day or all three days for ~90 via ultra signup. If you are local to the greater 'Auburn' area and a trail runner you'd be crazy to miss this.  You don't have to have won the WS lottery nor even qualified at one of their races to do the training weekend.  Just have an interest in running 70 of the 100 trail miles of the WS100 with other crazy like minded trail runners.

The three days are broken down like this:

Day 1 - Saturday : 32 miles from Robinson Flats to Foresthill Elementary School. This is by far the hardest and most popular days.  Why?  You scale one of the hardest peaks in the shortest amount of distance. Elevation change? Don't want to know.

Day 2 - Sunday : ~16 miles from Foresthill Elementary School down to Ruck-a-Chuky aka the 'river crossing'.  You start at an elevation of ~3200ft and run down hill.  There are 2-3 rather nasty climbs including '5 min hill'.

   Elevation Gain:2,955 ft
   Elevation Loss:5,512 ft
   Min Elevation:717 ft
   Max Elevation:3,285 ft

Day 3 - Monday  : ~20 miles from Ruck-a-Chucky (Green Gate) to the finish at Placer High School. This is normally done at night on the WS100 race. Elevation change is kinda like day two with rolling hills.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Product Review : Injinji medium-weight, mini-crew toe socks

On longer 10 mile plus training runs sometimes I'd get tiny blisters either between my pinkie and neighboring toe or on top of a toe.  The blisters are mostly likely due a perfect storm of cheap socks I was wearing, sweat friction and toes getting jammed to the front of my shoes.  I don't think my shoes are part of the problem per se since I wear a half size larger already and they have a wide toe box.  I think the friction was due to aggressive trail running and cheap socks that just didn't provide much protection from the roof of my shoe and none between toes.  I tried adding Glide which helped to some extent, but what finally prevented toe blisters was magic in the form of toe socks!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

[Video] Tuesday Trail Workout at Del Valle, Livermore, CA

Every Tuesday from Early Spring to Late Fall, our running club the Huffers and Puffers run roughly 7.5 miles covering 1300 feet of elevation change through the Hills of Del Valle State Park in Livermore, CA.  In Spring around St Patrick's Day the park is especially beautiful because it is green with life.  Folks outside of the California desert may take the color Green for granted but not us - we revel in the color green.  In this video is the tail end of California's 'green' season.  Yeah, it lasts about 2-4 weeks.

Here are some video snippets courtesy of a newly acquired GoPro Hero 3 Black with head mount.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Golden Gate Relay : Calistoga to Santa Cruz

I know many people who have done at least one relay in their running life, but I certainly wasn't one that could relate to 'them'.  The thought of being in a van for hours on end to run 'just a little bit' of a race, the sleep deprivation, and chaos of it all was just a turn off to me.  That is of course until I did one.

 I actually didn't sign up for the race and became a team member when one of the 12 that make up a relay group dropped out at the last moment.  I was days away from starting out on a 27 hour adventure and had no clue what was coming or really of what was expected of me.

The relay I ran May 3rd and May 4th of this year 2014 was called The Golden Gate Relay and 12 runners take turns running 'legs' from Calistoga to Santa Cruz : 198 miles!

Followup : Running the ITR 50K at Lake Folsom

Last year (2013) I ran Inside Trail Racing (ITRs) 50K and almost Did Not Finish (DNF).  You can read last years report here.

I spent a year consulting with many more experienced runners and trained, trained, trained.

I honestly had difficulty sleeping the week before the race in anticipation, reviewing how I was going to handle each leg of the race and if I could handle the warm weather.

Well, the running gods smiled on all of us cuz not only did it not rain us, although it had rained the night before, it was also cool!  Last year it was 55 in morning with high of 87.  This year it was 50s with high of 65!

Here's a front and back pics of the group getting final advice before we head out.  I believe it was a mixture of 50k, Marathon and 35K that head out first.