Sunday, December 14, 2014

Expect The Unexpected

Point Bonita in the Marin Headlands.

Sunday, December 14th was supposed to be a day this runner-blogger would do a long run.  I was going to head over to the Marin Headlands for, perhaps, a 16 miler and take some pictures along the way.

Well, I did go to the Marin Headlands late in the morning and did take some pictures. As it turned out, there was no 16 mile run after the events of last night.

After getting home from work on Saturday night, my neighbor in the building, Eric was in a spot.  He had to leave town and was supposed to do a 5K race in San Francisco's Crissy Field on Sunday morning.

I'm not currently in race shape, but from Eric's standpoint, I know what it's like to not be able to take part in a race that you've paid $40 for.  He insisted that I didn't pay him for it, but wanted the Sports Basement discount, the race t-shirt and the coffee mug. I had no problem with that at all.  It was just a matter of switching gears for Sunday.

Waking up to cloudy weather and a chilly morning, I made my way to Crissy Field doing a three mile warmup to Sports Basement for the 8:30 a.m. start.  The Winter Runderland 5K would be running virtually on the same course as the Run Wild race about three weeks earlier. The only difference was we would be running clockwise instead of counter-clockwise.

There was less than a thousand runners that took part.  Some were in Santa Claus outfits but the reindeer antlers were the theme of the weekend it seemed.  My intention running down to the start would be to run at an 8:30 per mile pace or something comfortable for the entire race.  

The first mile just past the Warming Huts was perfect.  I was in a pack of five to six runners and ran an 8:24 split.  The pack picked things up in the second mile as we were met by a slight breeze from the east.  Around the bridge near the bathrooms, the Garmin showed 16:47 (8:23 split).  I was definitely feeling good.

The third mile was a test only because I haven't done any speed work.  The base mileage has increased the last two weeks so I wasn't concerned at all.  As we were turning for Sports Basement, the pack became larger with about 12 runners.  It was decided at that point to pick things up a little.  Leading the pack was fine since the breeze was at our backs.  It turned out good because it started to split up.

The Garmin read 25:08 as we reached mile three and this runner-blogger could see the finish line.  I could actually hear a couple of runners breathing hard but there was no way I was going to let them by.  About 48 seconds later, career race number 1106 was history with a time of 25:56.

Shortly afterwards, there were many runners that were hitting the finish line in the 26 minute and just above range.  We were on a paved trail in the last portion of the race and things would have slowed down.  Getting a nice medal and some water was worth while.

After picking up a shirt and the coffee mug for Eric, I slowly jogged the three miles home.  It was fairly quiet in the Marina and Russian Hill districts after a busy Saturday in the city.

When reaching my apartment, checking the Run Wild times, I was 20 seconds faster than my top Run Wild time a few years ago.  That provided some confidence for the rest of this day!                

Friday, December 12, 2014

2015 Race Schedule (So far)

Since my race schedule for 2014 has ended, I'm looking ahead already to 2015. There are some races that I've already signed up for and there's some races that runners in the area are waiting for.  The Pacific Association schedule is not out yet but there are some probable dates.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

Sun. 1-11 - Fort Mason 5K

Sun 1-25 - Rainbow Falls 5K

Sun 2-1 - KP 5K (entered)

Sun 2-15 - Spreckles Lake 5K

Sun 3-1 - Windmill 10K

Sun 3-15 - St. Patrick's Day 5K

Sun 3-22 - Oakland Half Marathon (entered)

Sun 4-12 - Golden Gate Park 10K

Sun 4-19 - Ruth Anderson Ultras

Sun 4-26 - Across The Bay 12K

Sun 5-17 - Bay To Breakers 12K (entered)

Mon 5-25 - Marin Memorial 10K

Sun 7-12 - Six Hour Run

Sun 8-30 - GGP Cross Country 5K

Sun 9-27 - Lindley Meadow Cross Country 5K

Sun 11-15 - Lake Merced Half Marathon

Sun 12-6 - California International Marathon

Obviously, this is subject to change.  There are some races I like (The Giant Race 5K and a couple of others) that aren't scheduled yet.  However, I have an idea what races will happen in 2015!         

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Sports Performance

Yesterday, Sports Illustrated named Madison Bumgarner as the 2014 Sportsman Of The Year.  Though I'm a huge Giants fan and am happy to see MadBum win it, I would have felt better if the runner pictured above had won the award.

Meb Keflezighi was the first American marathoner to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years.  Meb's time of two hours, eight minutes and 37 seconds was a personal best for him in the event.

It was an emotional Patriots Day in New England last April.  After the tragedy of a year ago, Keflezighi's win lifted a lot of spirits amongst all of us.  Keflezighi was also the first American to win the New York City in 2009.  That ended a 27 year drought. The previous American, Alberto Salazar won the race in 1982 and set a world best at the time.

No marathoner has ever won Sports Iluustrated's year end award.  There have only been a handful of track and field athletes to win it period.  Kenya's Kip Keino was among the last track and field's athletes to win and that was in 1987.    

Celebration Run

Twenty three years ago while living in Livermore, this runner-blogger woke up on birthday morning and went out for a run.  Turning 40 at the time, I wanted to something different.  An idea came up to run at least one minute for each year of my life.  Little did I know that I would continue to do this again and again for the next 23 years.

There have been some interesting runs that I've done.  On three occasions, I raced on my birthday and did well enough to, at least, be satisfied with the run.

A couple of years ago, I started a run a little after 9:00 p.m. on December 8th and completed a 20 miler a little past 1:00 a.m. on December 9th here in San Francisco. It was preparation for an upcoming marathon that I did okay in.

This year, I wanted to do something different.  Getting back in shape after a three month layoff wasn't exactly going to produce a 20 miler.  However, last week, an hour and 40 minute workout went well.  Doing a two hour plus run was doable!

It was a decision to do a combination of four different courses done over the years to attempt the feat.  I started the run before sunrise, about 5:45 a.m.  The early start was done to avoid a lot of vehicle traffic since this was a weekday.  

Crissy Field, the Presidio and Golden Gate Park are among my favorite places to run. Of course, to get there, it would be through the city's urban neighborhoods. As long as it took me at least 63 minutes of running (my age), no problem.  The nice thing about the early portion of the run is getting an opportunity to see the Golden Gate Bridge and to see a beautiful sunrise.

It was quite a sight this morning when reaching the Marina Green.  There was the Golden Gate Bridge right in front of me and huge.  It was very serene with it being lighted and an orange look.  The weather, though with some fog, was very ideal for a run, especially in December.  Behind me, it was starting to light up a little bit with a some overcast conditions.

Getting past the bridge, The course was now on Lincoln Way down towards Baker Beach and the Pacific Ocean.  It was now getting close to 6:35 a.m., and not much traffic fortunately.  I could hear the waves banging against the rocks from the ocean.  It was a nice and quiet feeling.  There were a couple of cyclists coming up the other direction but we saw each other.  I had a light neon green colored shirt on so it was cool!

When reaching 25th Avenue, the next portion was to head south towards Golden Gate Park.  It was getting a bit lighter now and that felt good.  The sun was rising and another day was amongst us.  Reaching Geary Blvd, Golden Gate Park was on the horizon.  It's one of my favorite places on earth to run.  At Fulton Street, it was just a few yards to Crossover and a right turn.  The smell of the park was good after the recent rains that we've had.

At Kennedy Drive, we turned left and headed east.  I could see some peaks of sunshine breaking through the fog and through the trees as this runner-blogger headed down Kennedy.  Running this route hundreds of times, it never gets old! Some runner on the opposite side of the street recognized me and said hello from a distance. Unfortunately, I didn't know who it was, but nodded back as any runner would.

When reaching the Conservatory Of Flowers, I headed out of the park and back to the urban streets of the city.  There was more traffic now and nearing 7:45 a.m. The legs were feeling good and was running at about a nine and a half minute per mile pace. My intention was to finish this around 8:00 a.m. and no later.  Today would be a busy day with breakfast at the new New Village Cafe, a haircut, taking some pictures throughout the city and getting some new running shoes. Later in the day, I would be meeting my long time friend, Roger for dinner, usually it's seafood.

A little before 8:00 a.m., I was back in my neighborhood.  The Garmin watch was measuring about 13 miles and actually wanted it at about a half marathon or 21K. While going south on Leavenworth Street, I decided to run an extra four blocks so I could get the 13.1 or 13.2 miles in.  Perfect, it turned out what I wanted!

Finishing the journey in two hours, four minutes and nine seconds (2:04:09) and 13.22 miles, the runner-blogger was already thinking of bigger and better things as 2015 gets closer.

Hopefully, the running club I belong to will take note of the following.  They probably don't believe it because of the lack of racing with the club in 2014. Running two PA races doesn't exactly qualify in being an active runner.  Yet, the one ultra I did in the United States was with the club in April 2012 and was at Lake Merced.

The Ruth Anderson Ultras is a most likely (50K or 50 miler) race.  I'd like to get another long run in before the end of 2014 to confirm that.  Prior to the ultra, I'll likely run a half marathon (Oakland on March 22 or San Francisco on March 29). Right now however, I'm off to New Village Cafe for some breakfast.  French Toast sounds good!                 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Favorite Race

Undoubtedly, the favorite race for this runner-blogger is the Bay To Breakers.  The event has been run each year since 1912 when it was originally called the Cross City Race.

The Bay To Breakers is currently 12K in distance and the route actually cuts the city in half.  It starts on Beale and Howard Streets and finishes on the Great Highway between Fulton Street and Lincoln Way with a view of the Pacific Ocean to the west.

I'll be running the event for the 35th time next May and can't wait for the race.  My first B2B was on May 21, 1972 and was my first major road race.  Kenny Moore, the 1972 U.S. Olympian from Eugene, Oregon won the race for the fifth consecutive time.  He won again for the sixth and final time in 1973.  Moore went on to finish fourth in the Men's Marathon at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich later in the year.

The Bay To Breakers has gone through a lot of changes over the years that I've participated.  In 1972, the race had 2242 finishers.  Last year, it had over 10 times as many.  The Guinness Book Of World Records listed it until a couple of years ago as the largest race in the world.  It had over 100,000 runners (registered and unregistered) in 1986 when the race celebrated its 75th anniversary.

In 1972, it was a local and national race primarily.  That has changed in the 1980s through the present.  The last American winner was Ed Eyestone in 1986.  Since then, it's been mostly runners from Kenya who have gone home with the winning honors.

Up until the 2000s, the major sponsor would be one of the local newspapers. Today, ZOZI has taken over the lead sponsorship of the race.