Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Santa Rosa Marathon

Santa Rosa Marathon
Santa Rosa, CA
Mileage - 26.2
Time - 2:47:36
AEG - 255ft
Pace - 6:19/mile
Place - 4th Overall

A solid seventeen weeks of training specifically for this race would certainly land me a personal best, right?  Not the case at the Santa Rosa Marathon.  Described as flat and fast, "the highest elevation is 174 ft above sea level and 64 ft above at its lowest spot. It’s an imperceptible (subtle or very slight) 100 feet of change during 26.2 miles, which is almost as flat as it gets."  By mile 20, I wondered if their website was referring to the same race!  I've run a handful of ultras with climbs of 1,000ft up mountainsides that seemed more subtle than these 20-30ft inclines on the road.  Picture running up an on-ramp on the freeway.  Now imagine doing that about a dozen times.  

I think I made my point about the hills, let's discuss the actual course.  The big issue was course marking.  Over a bridge just past mile 7, the ground markers indicated a right turn (that was incorrect) costing me more than 30 seconds before realizing the mistake.  That 30-60 seconds was the difference between a 3rd and 4th place finish and winning my age group.  Frustrating.  I had a chance to make up that time and catch the third place finisher until I encountered the cluster of half marathon runners/walkers crowding the path in the final 3-4 miles.  It was poor planning to have two races converge in such a narrow space.  Needless to say, the last two miles of the race were my slowest, and not because of fatigue. 

The marathon wasn't all to blame.  Something didn't feel quite right during the race, my pace through mile 10 felt labored.  Then the internal dialogue began as I ran the first half of the race all alone.  Did I over train, am I under trained?  Should I have tapered more, were my long runs not fast enough? 

I just didn't feel 100 percent, which is a bummer because I thought those last seventeen weeks of training were great and I was very confident going into this event.  Had I reached my goal time I could have easily taken the win.  I tend to be critical (mostly of myself) when things don't go according to plan, but that's the beauty of the marathon, you never no what to expect.  Mentally, I am fine with the turnout and look forward to getting back on my feet...once these calves loosen up! 

A big thanks to all the volunteers and to those that put this race together.  I really had a great time over the weekend and look forward to my next trip to wine country.  Also, congrats to all those runners landing a Boston Qualifying time, that's a pretty awesome accomplishment!

Not the prettiest finish to a race - followed by a post-marathon check up from Dr. Ebel

Here's an article from the marathon mix up.           

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Woods Canyon Lake

Woods Canyon Lake Trail Hike
Apache Sitegraves National Forest
Forest Lakes, Arizona
Mileage - 3.4
Time - 1:05
AEG - 278ft

The wait is over!  I finally made the trip up to Woods Canyon Lake.  Well, actually Brittney and I left the valley on Saturday morning at 9:00am and by 11:30am we were at our campsite in the very popular Aspen Campground.  Once again, we drove North because Phoenix temperatures were near record high and by this time of year 110+degrees really starts to get old.  So we chose the Mogollon Rim for a couple reasons.  First, we wanted to camp.  Second, I've  wanted to check out the lake area for quite some time and see the view from the rim vista trail (below left - trail #622).  Lastly, I needed to finish my final long run before next weekend's race and this would would provide the perfect opportunity for that.  Even though it rained most of the time we were there, I will not complain for even a second when the daytime temps were literally 40 degrees cooler than at home!

The lake is crowded with people, but rightfully so given the proximity to the campgrounds and access to the highway.  It's still neat none-the-less.  Wildlife is abound as we spotted two Ospreys hovering the lake, and I saw over 20 elk on my morning run, including one massive bull!  We made a stop at the visitors center near the Highway 260 and Rim Road intersection and learned some interesting history about the area while enjoying the view from their observation deck.  A brief shower shortened our dinner at camp so we drove to the rim vista at twilight to take in in one last view of the mountains (pictured below). Now that I think about it, we really did a lot of fun stuff in the past 24 hours and have already discussed another trip in September.  I believe we may check out Canyon Point campground on our next visit.

Woods Canyon Lake Trail (left) and a beautiful morning run at 7,600ft on the General Crook Trail

Brittney and I catching the last bit of sunset over the rim

Monday, August 5, 2013

Peak Mileage

This weekend concluded my peak mileage build up for the Santa Rosa Marathon with a pair of runs totaling 30 miles.  First up, an early morning 10-miler through the Reach 11 Barrier Free Trail system of North Phoenix (pictured right).  This was a delightfully flat, smooth and surprisingly scenic run through town.  I was able to make three independent loops and only cross my own tracks when going through the overpass tunnels.  Besides feeling great, the best part of this run was seeing my first diamondback rattlesnake of the year!  

Around noon on Saturday, I took the LONG way up to Flagstaff for a little sightseeing around Mormon Lake and Lake Mary (pictured below).  My plan was to find an established campground near one of these lakes and run 20 miles on forest service roads above 7,000ft.  After four stops and no available campsites, I went to Flagstaff and stayed near the Mount Elden trailhead, which is where I would begin my run on the Arizona Trail.  At 5:45am Sunday morning I was off and headed South towards Walnut Canyon by way of trail.  At three miles into the run I came across roughly 20 elk grazing in a meadow that would've made an impressive photo.  I stopped for a moment to watch until they disappeared into the forest.  I continued onto the visitor's center at WC where I refilled my hand-held bottle and made the switch to a harder surface. I opted for a faster return on gravel roads in order to pick up speed towards the end of my run and average better than a 7:30 pace.  Check!  Even with close to 1,000 feet of elevation change, this was my fastest long run of the summer.  Conditioning is paying off!  Unfortunately, its now time to start tapering, so don't expect much until after the race on the 25th.