April 2019 Road Races

Thist post got put on the backburner as we went on our trip and then I kind of forgot about it.  However I wanted to make sure I documented it.

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Prior to April, I hadn’t done a race in over a year.  So this year I decided to try again at the Buzz Oates RunSac Race Series.  I had signed up for it last year (the mileage program) but never got past the one race.  It’s been a few years since I did shorter races (5K) and so I decided to do a 5K and then my coworker wanted to do a 10K so I signed up for one as well.  They all happened to be within a few weeks of each other so I decided to lump them all into one post.

First up was the Credit Union SacTown Run on April 7.  They have both a 10 mile and 5K option.  I had not been doing much distance work and wasn’t feeling up for the 10 miler so I did the 5K.  Starting at the beginning of the year my running has been more consistent.  I’ve been doing more treadmill running but this does allow me to do incline and speed work.  I wanted to see how my speed was given that I’m getting older.  My last 5K was in 2017 where I ran ~8.5 min/mi pace.  The race started just west of the Capitol and there was plenty of street parking within a few short blocks of the start/finish area.  They had plenty of portapotties and also various tents with vendors (other regional races, local businesses).  My one gripe was that the people who had set the portapotties put them against the curb and there was quite a bit of road camber (the curve on each side of the street to allow for water to run away from the street) and so the portapotties weren’t level and would rock when you got in and tried to sit down.  I knew it wasn’t me because every single person who went in or out of them commented about it and would tell the next person: “good luck” and then laugh.  lol.  Small gripe I know.

Otherwise the rest of the race was straight forward.  The course consisted of running through the streets near the Capitol and then crossing the famous Tower Bridge into West Sacramento by Raley Field (home of the minor league baseball team Sacramento River Cats) and then back across to the finish.

I went out comfortably hard for the first 2 miles and then still feeling pretty good I pushed myself hard the last mile to see if I still had some speed.  I crossed the finish line in 26:18.  This was actually 34 seconds faster than my last 5K in 2017 – not bad!  The other great thing about 5Ks is that the recovery period is minimal.

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Continue reading “April 2019 Road Races”

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2018 Shamrock’n Half Marathon Race Recap

2018 Shamrock’n Half Marathon Race Recap

Last weekend I ran the Shamrock’n half marathon here in town.  I had previously done this race 5 years ago and actually PRed it with my only sub-2.  I hadn’t even done much speed work and somehow just mentally pushed myself to a sub-2.   This year I had no time goal and just wanted to run a decent race.

Race overview:  Easy packet pick-up, good amount of porta-potties at race start, flat and fast course, good weather, nice finish line amenities.

The night before the race I had my usual pizza pre-race meal.  Initially we were going to eat at Federalist Public House, but it was packed and so we ended up just getting the pizzas to go.  Race morning came early as per my usual.  I hadn’t realized that this race fell on daylight savings time until the week before the race.  So with the “spring forward,” I was getting one less hour of sleep than usual.  I didn’t sleep quite as well because of anxiety of the time change but probably managed a decent 5.5-6 hours probably, which is a lot better than when I first started doing races.

In the last 5 years, technology has really taken off and this year for parking you had the option of reserving a spot in one of the local parking garages/lots before race day.  On the web site they didn’t list the parking structure I previously parked in that wasn’t too far from the race start/finish.  I made the decision to park in Old Sacramento, which was about a 3/4 mile walk to the race start.  I chose that lot because it meant not having to take the freeway and also I was hoping to avoid traffic and it was a success.  The trek from the parking lot to Raley Field and the race start took me across the Tower Bridge.

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Tower Bridge
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Pyramid building & Sacramento River
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River Walk

Continue reading “2018 Shamrock’n Half Marathon Race Recap”

2017 Surf City Half Marathon race recap

Last Sunday I completed by 19th half marathon.  It was the 21st running of the Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon in Huntington Beach, CA.  I grew up about 20 minutes from HB and so this was kind of a homecoming race.

I had originally signed up for the full marathon last year.  Currently my overall long-term running plans are to complete a full marathon every other year (to hopefully give my body time to recover and just  not tax myself too much given my history of injuries).  I had been contemplating between Surf City and the Carlsbad Marathon.  Eventually I settled on Surf City and my good friend KP was thinking of doing it as well (though in the end she couldn’t due to scheduling conflicts).  I was excited about the race and the course didn’t seem too bad.  One gripe I read about the full distance was that there was a lot of “looping” back and forth along PCH and the ocean.  So it could be a little disheartening because you see the people that are a few miles ahead of you and realize you still have a ways to go.

The Big Sur Marathon lottery came a few months after I signed up for Surf City.  I thought “why not sign up for the first timer/bucket list lottery and see what happens?”  Sure enough, I received the email that I made it in and could register for 2017.  So I did.  Now I had a decision to make.  Surf City was on February 5 and Big Sur is on April 30.  With such a short time between races I knew that I shouldn’t try to do 2 full marathons in such a short time (see above about me being injury prone).  I made the decision to drop to the half marathon for Surf City.

The race expo was set up in a large tent on one of the parking lots along the beach southeast of the pier.  The organization for the bib and t-shirt pickup was well done.  You had to know your bib number ahead of time because within the front of the tent, they had lines with a certain interval of number (1-1000, 1001-2000, etc).  And then they had a separate area with lines based on your shirt size.  So I was able to pickup my bib and shirt and tote bag within just a few minutes of arriving.  This was good because I only had a few minutes to check out the expo as we were heading to meet friends for lunch. Continue reading “2017 Surf City Half Marathon race recap”

Marathon Training Week 4

Marathon Training Week 4

Another week of training in the books.  I can’t say that I did a faithful job following my training plan but overall I am happy with what I did.  All of my training for last week was done in a different part of the state – southern California.  I had previously signed up for the Surf City Marathon in Huntington Beach last year.  After finding out I had made it into Big Sur, I decided to drop from the full marathon distance to the half marathon for Surf City.  This did require a small fee to change but I thought it was worthwhile and at least timing wise the 13.1 miles would fit into my training regime.

Since we were doing some of the touristy stuff as well as setting up times to hang out with friends, I shortened some of my runs and altogether skipped another one.  I won’t feel too bad about it though since I had a fun weekend.

Here’s a summary of last week’s running.

( ) = # of miles on my plan

Tuesday – 0 (3)

Thursday – 5 (5)

Friday – 2.7 (10)

Saturday – 0 (5)

Sunday – 13.1 (4)

Weekly Total – 20.8 miles (27)

First thing I did after getting off the plane and settled at my parent’s place is go for a run in my old hood.  Originally the neighborhood they live in was built in the 50s or so.  However, over the years people have demolished homes and rebuilt them in all sorts of styles.  In the last 5-10 years, there have been a lot of crazy houses that don’t fit into the area.  You can see the difference between more original housing and new housing below.

The race (recap to follow) took place on Superbowl Sunday so we decided to make a weekend of it.  Both our families live down in SoCal so it was easy.  My folks were out of town but let us stay at their place and use their car (yay for free lodging and transportation).  My wife had never been to the Getty Center in LA and has always wanted to go.  So this time we had some free time and decided to make a day out of LA since it is a good drive from where we were staying in the OC.

Normally SoCal is sunny like 95% of the time.  We happened to go down the weekend that it was rainy and overcast for 3/4 of the time.  After spending the first day down hanging out with the wife’s family, Friday morning we set out for LA and the Getty.  Due to the rain, traffic was slow going but at least we were moving so I can’t complain that much.  And then we arrived at the Getty and surprisingly there were quite a few people visiting as well.  Normally people go to the Getty less so for the art and moreso for the beautiful garden and views of the city.

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I had previously visited and thought it was nice.  Seeing the galleries and visiting the property is free except you do have to pay $15 for parking.  Due to the large amount of visitors, the tram that takes you from the parking structure to the actual facility was backed up.  The Getty sits on top of a hill and you park at the base of it.  Even though it was raining, they offered for people to walk up to the Center.  I grabbed one of the complimentary umbrellas (my wife brought her own) and we started walking.  Not 100 feet into the walk, another employee offered a free shuttle bus to the entrance.  Yay for free and no walking in the wetness.  We did kind of a speed walk through many of the exhibits as that is our MO.  Unfortunately the large garden was closed due to the weather and rain.  The views of LA were also obstructed due to overcast conditions.

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After leaving the Getty we made our way into Culver City to have a late lunch at Father’s Office, which is a gastropub that was founded by Sang Yoon, who has been on Top Chef.  He developed the Office Burger, which he calls the perfect burger.  Watching him on TV, he also talked about how much he detests ketchup and that you can’t ask for that at his restaurant.  We both ordered the burger and fries and had some beer (and I had a cocktail after my beer).  Overall the burger was filled with quite a punch of flavor and was very yummy.

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Saturday turned out to be a beautiful day.  Clear blue skies and sunny.  In the morning, we hit up the race expo to pick up my bib and shirt.  We were meeting up with some friends for lunch so didn’t get to hang out too long at the expo.  We met up at Ballast Point Brewing in Long Beach.  I thought Ballast Point was a San Diego brewery and it is but looks like they’re doing well enough that they have branched out their locations.  Their grilled fish tacos were delicious and I had the Sour Wench Blackberry Ale.  It was quite tasty and refreshing.  The views from the outdoor seating area weren’t so bad either.

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After Ballast Point, the wife and I weren’t done with our day drinking just yet so drove over to Belmont Shores to have some more beers.  We ended up at Belmont Brewing and enjoyed some beer and another great view.  I do love the ocean.

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I probably shouldn’t have had all that beer the day before a race, but I couldn’t pass it up.  And overall it didn’t affect my race all that much.

Up Next: Surf City Half Marathon Race Recap

-StewsCat

2016 Run the Parkway Half Marathon Race Recap

The Sacramento Running Association, who host the big California International Marathon (CIM), decided to put on a new event this year.  They timed this race so that it was about 4 weeks from the CIM.  They called it a “training race” because they had a 20-miler, in addition to a half marathon distance and a 5K.  For many marathon plans, a 20 mile training run is recommended anywhere from 3-4 weeks from race day and some plans call for more than one 20-miler.  The race also benefits the American River Parkway Foundation.  Since I live near the parkway I utilize it on a weekly basis for one or even a few of my runs.  I figured that it would be good to give back to this great resource.  As I am not training for CIM, I signed up for the half marathon (they had an option to change between the half marathon and 20-mile distance for free at the packet pickup).  When I signed up for the race I flirted with the idea of bumping up to the 20-miler but with my lack of proper long distance training I stuck with the half marathon.

Packet pickup was at the usual Fleet Feet in midtown Sacramento.  I had some errands to do beforehand so couldn’t make it to packet pickup until the mid afternoon.  The store was quiet and pickup was quick.  I realized this was a very no frills race as I literally was given a bib and a shirt and that’s it.  I’m used to at least a few other things to pickup like some other race flyers and such but this was barebones.  Being the inaugural race, I wonder also if they just weren’t putting a ton into the race like some other races (the CIM has a huge race expo at the Sacramento convention center).  The other slightly odd thing about this race is that it was being held on a Saturday.  I’ve done a few Saturday races but not usually half marathon distances.  I actually liked this because it would give me Sunday to recuperate before having to go back to work on Monday.

I had my usual pre-race pizza the night before.  We got a large combo pizza from a local place called Roma II (we haven’t actually been to the original Roma but have had Roma II a few times).  We also got a side order of some meatballs (not pictured).

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Roma II pizza

Then it was an early night for bed (which the wife enjoyed especially because she was feeling a bit under the weather).  I slept well and woke up early at 3:40 am.  I need some time in the mornings to get my stuff together (breakfast, bano, bano, bano).  Surprisingly this was the second straight race that I’ve slept fairly well.  Prior to these last 2, I almost always have a restless night of sleep and then get up.  I do wonder also if it has to do with the fact these last 2 were “home” races and I slept in my own bed.  Or maybe it has to do with the fact that this was half marathon #18 and I’m just getting used to it finally.  Either way I’m happy with being able to sleep before a race.

Since the start/finish of the race was at the familiar to me William Pond park and this is also where the start/finish was for the 2 half marathons I’ve done previously (American River Parkway Half Marathon), I was quite familiar with the parking situation.  After parking in the neighborhood by the park, I trekked into the park in search of the porta-potties.  They weren’t set up as well as I thought but since I arrived about 40 minutes before the start time, the lines were still short for the porta-potties.  It is quite hard to use when it is super dark outside and inside the porta-potties. People were using their cell phone flashlights as well as the better equipped who had headlamps.  The race officials understandably pushed the race start time from 7 am to 7:10 am so there was some more light on the trail.  Just prior to the start, the race people played a recording of the National Anthem – with recorded cheering and everything.  People were chuckling with the cheering that was from the recording.  And then we were off.

Immediately after the start, we crossed a long foot bridge that took us over the American River.  We’d also cross this bridge at the 13th mile just before finishing back at the starting line. img_20161105_092745

The first few miles were run in the pre-sunrise haze and fog.  It was quite beautiful and peaceful.  This section of the river trail is quite remote with the river on one side and fields on the other side.  I’m used to running in the area of the river trail that is relatively close to civilization (roads, buildings, other people).  I don’t know how comfortable I’d be running in that part of the river by myself.  But it was pretty and peaceful.

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Eventually we made our way off the river trail and did a very short stint in a small neighborhood.  Essentially we went through one exit on the trail and made our way about 2 streets over and onto the entrance of another part of the trail.  At this point, the trail was not paved and was more packed dirt and gravel, with a few areas of unevenness.  Eventually we made our way east and back onto paved roads.  And then at some point we hit a turnaround and came back the way we started.  I continued with my 4 minute running, 1 minute walking at an average total pace of about 10 min/mile.  Throughout miles 4-10 I continued to feel good.  I took a GU gel around mile 6.  I picked up another gel around mile 7 and then took my 2nd gel around the 10 mile mark.

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Overall I continued to feel good for the race and coasted into the finish line.  I didn’t do a crazy sprint like I often do with the last 0.1 miles.  I actually stopped a few times in the 12-13 mile range to get some good pics.

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At the finish line, I picked up a banana, half a donut and had a beer.  I went with the Erdinger because the Shipyard beer was an IPA and I thought that was a bit alcohol heavy for post-race.

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Final Time: 2:13:25

-StewsCat