On today’s 6 miler I almost ate it…big time. I was about halfway through the run when I found upper body flying forward much faster than my lower body.
A majority of my runs start and finish in my neighborhoods. This means I typically am running on asphalt and sidewalks. The sidewalks are typically well maintained but as with any neighborhood there are some uneven areas of the sidewalks.
I had run on this particular area of sidewalk multiple times prior to this. Of course there happened to be someone in their yard across the street when it happened. I kicked the raised area on the sidewalk with my right leg and immediately felt like I was falling forward. I reached out with my right arm to brace myself but somehow managed to stumble forward with my right leg and prevent me from going all the way down.
Of course I just kept right on running since I was embarrassed and didn’t need the person across the street from asking if I was all right. Luckily I don’t think any major damage was done.
That free hat that I received for the 2013 race? It served me very well. It was one of two hats that I used on a regular basis for training races. Over the last 3 years I used the hat on hundreds of runs. However, as with most good things, my time with the hat came to an end when I was washing it one day and ripped through it. Much of the previous sweat absorbing material had already come out so I knew it was on its way out. But this was the last straw.
On my run on Friday morning I was stung by a bee. About a mile into my run I felt something land on the back of my hat. I used my left hand to swipe at it thinking it was a fly. I felt a sharp pain on the inside of my left ring finger. When I looked at the finger, I didn’t see a stinger as I expected. The pain continued though seemed to subside to a little bit of a throb. I’ve been stung about 3 times prior to this so hoped that I wouldn’t have a severe anaphylactic reaction as I know can happen when you’re stung for a second time. Usually the first sting is a freebie but sensitizes your immune system. That 2nd sting is when the body mounts an overwhelming allergic reaction causing people’s throats to swell and people to not be able to breathe. Since I was only at mile 1 and planned to do at least 5-7, I figured I’d keep running and see what happened (I don’t recommend this to others). I could see a small round white area on my finger, probably where I was stung. Overall aside from some pain in my finger, I felt overall fine so finished my 5 miler. To be safe, I took an anti-histamine after I arrived home. The pain dissipated but then the itchiness began. The entire inside part of my left ring finger was itchy. There was also some mild redness. This continued for the next 48 hours. My wife looked up some things and suggested I take my wedding ring off because it was tight on that finger and actually trapping the histamines I think. Once I moved the ring to my other hand, the itchiness subsided almost instantaneously. Lesson from this run is that if something lands on you during a run, let it be as it will almost 100% leave on its own without causing any problems. I feel bad though if it was a bee because bees die after they sting something.
We’ve been having some great weather for Sacramento. It’s been in the 80s here and so has allowed me to get some good runs in. This morning I did either my last run or second to last run with my good friend KP. She’s moving to Portland in August for work. She will be missed. We were just in Portland and I still need to post an update on that trip – it was a blast.
There’s a new race coming to Sacramento. This one will be a 20 miler, half marathon, 5K, and untimed 3K. The host organization is the Sacramento Running Association (SRA). This is the same group that puts on the California International Marathon, which I ran in 2013 (race recap yet to be published). I think I may sign up for the half marathon and consider switching over to the 20 miler if I’m at that stage of training. Check it out here: http://runtheparkway.org/
Race summary: Easy packet pickup at the local Fleet Feet. Flat course running on the paved/graveled river trail along the American River. The two possible downsides include the narrow river trail and levy as well as the possible heat when the race is run.
One of the huge perks of where we live is that there is the American River bike trail. The trail runs for 32 miles from Discovery Park in Old Sacramento to Beal’s Point on the southwestern side of Folsom Lake. Along the river there exists a network of paved bike paths along with graveled raised levies as well as single track that runs between the paved bike path and the river. Since moving to Sacramento in 2011, I’ve been using and running along the American River Parkway. When I saw an advertisement for this race and saw it benefited the Parkway, I thought it’d be a great way to do a race and support the river trail.
Packet pickup as per most Sacramento area races was at the local Fleet Feet in midtown Sacramento. For the 2013 race, I had signed up early enough that I qualified for a nice little perk – a race emblemed running hat.
One interesting aspect of this race is that there is a runner’s course as well as a walker’s course. Having two separate courses for runners vs walkers is good because of the course and its width. Since the race course runs along the American River bike trail levy, it is rather narrow. If both runners and walkers were to run on one course, it would be so congested that runners would be quite irritated being stuck behind walkers. Even with the two courses, there were definitely a few spots that seemed congested with just runners.
The races from 2012 to 2013 were vastly different. The latter race date was moved back a week due to some problem that is evading my memory at this time. However, this put the race into the first weekend of May. The temperature in Sacramento in May can be nice or extremely hot. The 2013 race for me was marred by heat. The start (and finish) line area provided a large grassy area for porta-potties, various tents (run clubs, other races, refreshments) and plenty of room to spread out and stretch/warm up prior to race start. One tradition of the race involves a bagpipe group playing just prior to the start. The runner’s course heads west along the river toward Sacramento State University and Fair Oaks Blvd, while the walkers head east. As mentioned before, the race start and initial few miles of the course are very crowded and you’re either following someone closely and/or someone is right behind you. As I wasn’t aiming for a specific time goal either year this didn’t bother me as much. If you’re thinking of a PR though you may want to line up in the early expected race times (they organize the start line based on your expected pace (6 min/mi, 7 min/mi, etc)).
The overall course is relatively flat save for the few areas where you move from the bike trail up onto the levy, or when you have to take the Guy West Bridge across the river. The race is an out and back and one change from 2012 to 2013 is that the first year we remained on the north side of the river, while the second year we crossed over on the Guy West Bridge to the south side of the river trail and then came back over on the Watt Ave bridge. The 2012 race went relatively smoothly and with the end of April weather, the temperatures rose up into the 70s. The 2013 race was a slog and I really had to just keep telling myself to keep going as the temperatures rose into the 80s and then I think hit 90 by the time I finished the race. Course support was okay with water and sports drink. The supporters were scattered throughout and weren’t overwhelming.
Finish line perks at this race include a bag lunch (sandwich, apple, chips) as well as the usual bananas, water, chocolate milk.
My times below are deceptive. The 2013 race in terms of effort was much more than the 2012 race. For the 2013 hot race I definitely found my mouth parched and there wasn’t enough water on the course that year for me to stay hydrated. At one point with about 3 miles to go I felt like passing out. The other downside was the fact they didn’t come up with a new medal from 2012 to 2013.
As we approach the middle of the 2016, I wanted to look back at the first 6 months of the year. My run goals this year were fairly simple.
Stay injury free
Hit 70 miles each month
These are fairly modest goals, but given the last few years of running I thought it was time to take a step back and see if I can stay overall healthy. I’ve had a long bout of injuries each of the previous years that has sidelined me from running entirely or severely limited by activity level.
So far this year I’ve been running injury free *knocks on wood*. I have had a few aches and pains here, but nothing really to stop me from running and cause lasting pain. In years past I’ve done at least a handful (3-5) races and this year I said to myself that I’d concentrate on just running healthy. I am signed up for a half marathon later this year and then a full marathon in February of next year. One thing that I like about not having any imminent races is that I can take a rest day if I feel like my body needs it. I’ve had a few occasions where I’ll think about running but my body tells me that I should rest, so I take a day and then I’m back at it the next day.
I’ve hit my goal of 70 miles each month. In previous years I have had goals such as hitting 50 miles a month and felt that was tough. Somehow this year 70 actually isn’t too terrible. I’ve done it even when I lose multiple days where I’d normally run during that month. I’m already at 440+ miles so far. If I can continue with this streak of injury-free running, then I’ll have hit a new PR for miles per year.
So far I’m proud of what I’ve done thus far. Just need to keep it on up. I’ll leave you with a funny pic of the cat. 🙂
The Urban Cow Half Marathon is one of my hometown races. It started out as the Sacramento Marathon a long time ago, then became the Cowtown marathon. In its third iteration, the race was renamed the Urban Cow Half Marathon. However, they dropped the full marathon distance when it was renamed and now offer a half marathon and 5K Run/Walk option.
Packet pickup is at the local Fleet Feet store in midtown Sacramento. I like local races because the packet pickup process is usually fairly quick. It helps that they have two days of packet pick ups (Friday and Saturday) before the race. This is a non frills pickup and isn’t an expo by any nature. Usually you go in and pick up your bib, t-shirt, and sometimes a small bag (not actual swag usually, just flyers for other races and products). One year they had perks for people who signed up early (first so many runners) and in addition to the shirt, you received a handheld water bottle with the urban cow logo on it.
In the 3 years I ran the race, the course remained about the same. The start and finish line are in Land Park (a large well-known park south of downtown Sacramento). This is a nice start/finish area since there is plenty of room to have all the fun things for a race (lots of booths, tents, and beer garden at the finish). Parking is also not terribly bad as you can park around the park and there are neighborhoods nearby that allow free street parking.
The first mile+ of the race courses through the park and then you head north into the neighborhoods. These streets are lined with a variety of houses from the early 1900s to mid-century modern to more contemporary houses. Typically the race is run the first weekend of October, which is great weather here in Sacramento. It starts in the 40s or 50s and does warm up but not too terribly by the time the race is done. After heading north through the neighborhoods we moved into a more industrial area of Sacramento just south of downtown. You pass by the big Blue Diamonds almond plant as well as the Front street animal shelter. After this we found ourselves in downtown Sacramento between the “sky scrapers” (aka taller buildings of the city – not really sky scrapers). We run just west of the Capitol building so you get a nice view of it around 5.5 miles into the race. Finally the turnaround takes place in Old Sacramento.
I feel like all somewhat big cities have an “old” part of their city. Usually its very touristy and has some kitschy stores. Sacramento is no different and has a bit of a Western theme. There are some nice restaurants in this area and it also sits right on the Sacramento river.
We then continue south along the Sacramento river, passing by the famous Tower Bridge. From miles 6 to 11, the course runs on a bike river trail along the Sacramento river. This is a nice change of pace from running in city streets except if there are a lot of runners can get congested because the bike trail is fairly narrow. Eventually at mile 11 we make our way back to regular streets and head north and then east back towards Land Park. The last mile of the race is run through the park and that’s when you know you’re close.
I like the finish line because there’s always a large crowd of people cheering and they announce names of people as they reach the end. The finish line refreshments are usually good – bottled water, chocolate milk, bananas, bagels. The big perk is that all participants over 21 receive a free beer from a local microbrew. When I ran the races, it was Lockdown Brewery from Folsom, CA. Another unique part of this race is that the finisher’s medal is a cowbell. Each year it is a different color.
Overall I like this race because of a few things:
Good weather – usually, global warming may change this though
Relatively flat course – the course is almost entirely flat except for a few areas where you have to climb short hills (in the city).
Good crowd support and course support
Easy packet pickup
I’m registered to run this race again this year after taking last year off.