C Talley Run

Rumblings and mishaps of a Strava and runDisney obsessed trail and road runner.


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Race Report: Disneyland 10K

Dumbo Double Dare

The Disneyland Half Marathon has always been one of my favorite races. This year runDisney upped the ante by adding the Disneyland 10K and the Dumbo Double Dare for those wishing to do both. I’m always eager to run a new race through the “Happiest Place on Earth” so I was up for the challenge.

We started the weekend off by going to the expo right when it opened. We usually get there long after it opens but this time a few people in our party wanted to make sure we got there early before all the good stuff disappeared. It turns out a lot of other people had the same idea. There were huge lines just to get in the door when we got there at 9:30. 30 minutes before the expo was to open.

Once inside we went straight to the official event merchandise and it felt like Black Friday times ten. People were all over the racks like carrion ants on a carcass. Luckily I was able to find the one shirt that I wanted in my size on some random rack and a medal for my Vinylmation. Once everyone in our party got what they wanted we made our way to the checkout line which nearly stretched to the back wall of the expo. Fast forward about 45 minutes and we finally checked out and were ready to go pick up our bibs and shirts and then check into our room.

runDisney Vinylmation

runDisney Vinylmation Sporting Two Medals

Later that afternoon the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney was hosting a meet and greet with Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings, Rudy, and Goonies fame. One member of our party heard that we had the honor of meeting Sean at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon Expo earlier this year and as a huge Goonies fan was hoping to meet him too. We weren’t sure what time he was going to be there but somehow guessed correctly and she got to meet Sean.

Meeting Sean Astin

Meeting Sean Astin

Next up was an early dinner followed by an early bed time. All runDisney races have one thing in common. They start early and the new Disneyland 10K wasn’t an exception.

After a short night’s rest we were up before the crack of dawn to head down to the staging area and eventually our corrals. After a quick stop in the staging area to check a bag we headed over to the corral staging area. This year the Disneyland 5K preceded the 10K and we had to wait until after they cleared out before we could queue up.

Disneyland 10K Staging Area

Disneyland 10K Staging Area

After a some banter from the runDisney announcers Carissa and Rudy we were off! The plan was to go out easy for the 10K in order to save my energy for the half marathon the following day. It WAS a good plan. One that I quickly abandoned once I realized I was sitting in around 20th place after the first mile. The top three in each age group get awards and I figured I had a shot so I cautiously went for it. The new plan was to hold my position and pass anyone that appeared to be struggling with the heat and humidity.

Carissa and Rudy with Special Guests Alice and the Mad Hatter entertain the runners.

Carissa and Rudy with Special Guests Alice and the Mad Hatter entertain the runners.

Shortly after the second mile we entered Disney’s California Adventure. After a trip through Cars Land, around Paradise Pier, and Hollywood Land we headed over to Disneyland. So far my modified plan was working. I was holding position and passing an occasional runner. At the same time I wasn’t pushing the pace in order to leave something in the tank for the half marathon the next day.

Running Through Cars Land

Running Through Cars Land

Once inside Disneyland we headed down Main Street, through Tomorrowland, Toon Town, Fantasyland, through Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and finally out through Critter Country. In between some of the lands we made excursions backstage.

Disneyland 10K Course Map

Disneyland 10K Course Map

After exiting Disneyland we had a little less than a mile to go through Downtown Disney before reaching the finish line by the Disneyland Hotel. I picked up the pace for this and passed a couple runners including some of the final 5K runners who were still on the course being trailed by the infamous sweeper wagon.

Running through Downtown Disney

Running through Downtown Disney

After reaching the end of Downtown Disney you make a sharp right and the finish line is in sight.  With no one around me I casually cruised through the finish line with a time of 41:13. Somehow, with a pace slower than my half marathon pace at this race last year I was able to secure 3rd place in my age group. I think the combination of people taking it easy for the half marathon the next day and the stifling heat and humidity lead to some soft times across the board.  Regardless, I’m excited to have placed in the inaugural Disneyland 10K!

Disneyland 10K Medal

Disneyland 10K Medal

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Race Report: Ohlone Wilderness 50K

Ohlone_Wilderness_50K_Logo

Time to play catch up with my posts!

Finally! After two disappointing results at the Ohlone Wilderness 50K I finally have a result I can be satisfied with. Not happy with, just satisfied. The first year I ran this race I was an ultra virgin. My goal was to win the Zombie Runner Rookie Award given to the fastest male and female runner making their ultra debut. I under trained for the gnarly hills, mismanaged my resources, ran out of water, and ended up finishing in 62nd place in 6:45:44. That was about an hour and twenty minutes off the rookie award. In 2012 I didn’t fare any better. I once again ran out of water and puked my guts out on the course. My time got worse and I finished in 72nd place in 7:01:32 This year I took my vengeance.

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Ohlone 50K Start. Courtesy Jim Bahl

Earlier this year I had a bout of piriformis syndrome that hampered my training for Way Too Cool. It stayed in check for much of my lead up to American River but that race seemed to have set it back off. I was once again slowed down leading up to this race and I was hoping my fitness gains from the American River training would more or less hold.

This race starts out with a climb to Mission Peak. It is roughly 4.4 miles to the top and you gain 2,130 feet with an average grade of 9.2%. The smart thing to do here is go easy on this climb. Even though I thought I was taking it easy I ended up running my fastest time on this section by 1:22! That will come back and bite me.

For the most part I was able to keep the decent in check and reeled in a few runners who were paying the price from putting too much effort into Mission. I gave a quick hello to the Laurel Loop aid station crew and continued on my way without stopping. I continued to try to run at a controlled pace for the continued decent into Sunol and for the most part I accomplished my task.  I made my first quick stop at the Sunol aid station feeling much better at this point than I did last year.

Last year I more or less blew up after Sunol. This year I kept my pace slow and was able to run large sections of the course, only walking on the steepest of hills in order to conserve energy. I hit the Backpack and Goat Rock aid stations uneventfully which nice for a change. During last year’s race I ran out of water between Got Rock and the summit of Rose Peak. This year was a major upgrade from last year and I was able to reach the top with little difficulty. I received my Zombie Runner bracelet to signify that I reached the top and cruised down and over to the Magie’s Half Acre aid station. Last year I lost time here by having to sit to rest. This year I filled my water bottles and headed right out.

Shortly after Magie’s I started to hit the wall. I figured it would happen sooner or later on this course and I was happy that it was much later this go round. I ended up getting passed a couple times before I rolled into the Schlieper Rock aid station. I think this marks the the start of the most difficult section of the course. A steep, switch backing decent followed by a mile climb that gains 550 ft and averages a 11.5% grade. I ended up getting passed a few more times here but at this point I could care less and was cursing the course and vowing to never return.

After you reach the top of that dreaded climb it flattens out for a little before the final decent into Del Valle Regional Park. Hoping to break six hours I picked up the pace and pushed to the finish. I ended up crossing the finish line in 5:57:18. Good for 15th place and a 48 minute personal course record. I missed the coveted big wood trophy given out to age group winners by one spot or six minutes and change. Even though I vowed never to return I can’t imagine missing out on this Bay Area Classic next year.

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Ohlone 50K Awards. AKA Big Wood. Courtesy Jim Bahl

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Sub 6! Courtesy Jim Bahl

 


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Race Report: 2013 American River 50 Mile Endurance Run

ar50_clif

After a rough outing at the Way Too Cool 50K I had one thing in mind when it came to the American River 50 miler. REDEMPTION! I was well on my way to a monster PR at the 50K until I tripped and injured myself. I left that race a little disappointed even though I finished close to my PR. This time I planned on leaving everything on the course.

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The bulk of the first 27 miles of the course is run along the American River trail which is a paved bike path. My plan was to keep my pace between 7:45 and 8:00 minutes per mile and then run the trails to the best of my ability until the dreaded 3 mile climb at the end of the race.

After a casual start and a seemingly slow first mile in the predawn darkness I found myself running alone. Around the third or fourth mile a small group of runners passed by me running around a 7:20 pace. I decided to let them go and run my own race. I’ve only run one other 50 miler and that one didn’t end so well so as far as I was concerned it was better to stay cautious.

At the first aid station at William Pond a volunteer quickly refilled my water bottle, I grabbed a boiled potato and continued on my way. After such a quick stop I had gained a bit of ground on the group that passed me earlier. The next few miles were much like the first with the exception of getting to say hi to a fellow member at Running of the Ears, MomtoQ&E. Upon pulling into the Sunrise aid station I quickly had my bottle filled and departed shortly after arriving. This time ahead of the group that was in front of me.

The next section included a scenic crossing over the American River via the Hazel Avenue Bridge and the first trail section and climb of the course up to Hazel Bluffs. Climbing isn’t my forte but it felt great to hit this first hill. I even managed to put a little distance between me and the people behind me on the climb.

Greeting us at the Main Bar aid station was a cute group of kids directing us which way we needed to go. They brought a huge smile to my face and made me think of my little ones back home. The trend of a quick refill, grabbing a potato and heading out continued. After leaving this aid station I found myself running with a new group that pretty much stuck together. A large portion of this section was along some tree covered single track that I couldn’t help but run push the pace through.

I flew into the Negro Bar aid station and once again flew right out. The next section of the course was my least favorite. We ended up going along the road for some time and some uneventful paved trails. Along this section we crossed the marathon mark. According to Strava I ran the marathon in 3:25:45 which would be my third fastest marathon. At 03:28:10 I rolled into the Beals Point aid station at mile 26.5 in 26th place.

I spent the most time at the Beals Point Aid station. For the first time in a race I was using Generation UCAN’s CranRaz as a gel. I used one packet as a drink before the race and had one soft flask containing two packets in the form of gel. At Beals Point I needed to refill my flask but was only able to get one packet in. It was making a huge mess and taking too much time so I asked the volunteer to pour some water in the flask and ran out.

I took the first climb out of Beals Point pretty casual and tried to keep that mindset for the duration of the trails. I through the next few sections with Eduardo Vazquez before I started to loose steam and he took off to secure a 13th place finish. This part of the run included some semi-technical sections but nothing too gnarly. The whole time I was continuing to buzz through aid stations. One of the highlights of the aid stations starting at Horseshoe Bar was ice! It’s amazing how quickly ice water can make you feel better when you’re starting to burn out.

Shortly after leaving the Rattlesnake Bar aid station I crossed a trail runner going in the opposite direction and she informed me I was in the top 20. I was a little shocked to hear this but I wasn’t sure how accurate the information was. It really didn’t matter. I wanted to stay in the top 20.

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After leaving Dowdin’s Post I was shocked to see another runner up ahead. I wanted to pass this runner to help my standing and secure my top 20 finish so I picked up the pace. After easily passing him we started a short climb where I realized I spent too much energy trying to catch him. I told him to let me know if he wanted to pass me back. He responded, “aren’t you Steven? From the San Francisco Running Company meet up last weekend?” Turns out it was Jack Finn who I ran with for a large portion of that group run and talked with for about 15 minutes after. I’ll forgive him for forgetting my name since I forgot his as well.

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Jack and I ended up running together to the base of the final climb. From there we more or less leap frogged each other with me walking stronger and him running stronger. With about 3/4 of a mile to go someone told us we were runners 17 and 18. At that point we pushed towards the finish with Jack slipping in 31 seconds ahead of me. Apparently that guy meant we were the 17th and 18th men because we finished 19th and 20th overall respectively.

With a time of 7:21:13 that was easily my best ultra. The quick aid station stops saved me large chunks of time and allowed me to pass people at the same time. That wouldn’t have been possible without Generation UCAN. Aside for an aid station potato here and there it was the only thing I used as fuel and I never bonked. I can’t wait to see how it carries me through the Ohlone 50K in about six weeks!


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Race Report: 2013 Way Too Cool 50K

Way Too Cool 50K logo

This race was amazing but it could have been so much more. A series of unfortunate events conspired against me and I wasn’t able to give this race everything I wish I was able to. After my 50K PR at the Fort Ord 50K I was able to get in one more solid week of training before I developed piriformis syndrome which made it difficult to stand up straight let alone run. Once that cleared I was able to get in a decent week of training before coming down with a nasty cold that took away another weekend of training. Despite these obstacles I was still able to run my second fastest 50K. 

The starting line of the Way Too Cool 50K with Max King, Chris Vargo and Leor Pantilat
Way Too Cool 50K Starting Line. NorCalUltras

The first mile of the course is paved, downhill, and fast! From there you enter the Olmstead Loop Trail which is predominately single track and also contains the course’s first two creek crossings. You have two options at most of the creek crossings. Wait in line to cross on the rocks or bomb through the water. In most cases I chose the splashier option. I ended up running this first segment pretty conservatively but not by choice. Since most of the trail is single track it is very difficult to pass and the pace was pretty pedestrian at points. Since it’s a long race I stayed patient and didn’t pass until the trail opened up. 

On the Olmstead Loop during the Way Too Cool 50K.
Cruising along the Olmstead loop. Inside Trail Racing

After finishing the Olmstead loop you come through the first aid station where the volunteers quickly refilled my bottle, I grab a GU and then headed back out within a minute. The next section heads downhill to Lower Quarry and is about three miles long. Shortly after leaving the aid station I noticed a group of about five runners just up ahead. I quickly caught up to them and hitched myself to the end of their train. I was going to let the group do most of the work for me. We ended up averaging around a 7:00 pace for this section but it felt smooth and easy.

Heading into Lower Quarry aid station at Way Too Cool 50K.
Dropping into the Lower Quarry aid station. NorCalUltras

At the Lower Quarry aid station I grabbed a salted boiled potato, some GU Brew and headed back out. The next stop was Maine Bar around six miles away. This section features rolling hills and travels along the American River. During this section I tried to keep it easy and chatted with other runners. One of them was Bruce from Washington who had done this race before and finished in 4:20. I figured if I could stay with him I would have a shot of meeting my top goal of breaking 4:30.

I was feeling great as we rolled through the Maine Bar aid station. I topped off my water bottle and continued to keep what felt like an easy pace. Shortly after leaving the aid station I let my attention drift too far from the trail and tripped on a rock. I banged my knee into the ground but was able to roll with the fall so there was limited impact. I popped back up and received some kudos from Bruce for my roll and after a quick check I determined I was fine to continue running. Only after the adrenaline wore off a mile or so later did I notice my back was starting to tighten up in the same place I had been having issues with during my recent bout with piriformis.

Way Too Cool course map
Way Too Cool Course Map

Around mile 17 you hit the first steep hill on the course. Knowing that the was a long climb ahead followed by the infamous Goat Hill at mile 25 I decided to hike this one. Unfortunately this change of pace allowed my back to tighten further. At the top of the hill I had problems getting going again. At mile 18 I realized my A goal was not going to happen. Maybe I could still PR.

The next few miles went by slowly. I was able to run but was forced into taking periodic walking breaks to relax my back. I rolled into the Auburn Lake Trails (ALT) aid station in a mental funk. I saw another runner dropping at this point and briefly entertained the idea of dropping myself. The only reason why I didn’t drop is because I needed that damn frog cupcake that was waiting at the finish. My youngest daughter loves frogs and I promised I would bring it home to her. For those not in the know, one of the signatures of this race is their frog cupcakes you receive at the finish.

Way Too Cool's signature frog cupcake
Way Too Cool’s signature frog cupcake.

At this point I was focused on running aid station to aid station. The next one was a little over five miles away. At the top of Goat Hill. Ugh! Most runners hike a good portion of this hill. It climbs about 500ft in just under a half a mile. Oddly I felt fine going up this monster of a climb but I was relieved to reach the top and be at the marathon mark of the race. After breezing through the wonderfully staffed aid station at the top I started my trek down to the last aid station around three miles away.

This section was pretty rough. My back was forcing me to take longer walking breaks. During the first two miles of it I averaged 12 minute miles despite the fact they were downhill. I crawled into the last aid station at Highway 49 grateful that I was almost finished. 1.4 miles to go. One climb left.

Way Too Cool 50K Elevation Profile
Way Too Cool 50K Elevation Profile

With one mile left there was a sign telling you to go for your PR. Unfortunately I didn’t have a shot at mine. I cruised into the finish in 4:47:54. A little over five minutes off the 50K PR I set at Fort Ord earlier this year. This was my second fastest 50K. I had a great time on an amazing course on a beautiful day. The only problem is that I can’t help but dwell on what could have been if I hadn’t fallen. I loved this race and I’ll be back to see what I can do.

Way Too Cool Frog outside Ultra Village
Way Too Cool Frog outside Ultra Village.

Postmortem

There isn’t much I would do differently. I fueled up before the race with Generation UCAN‘s CranRaz and I felt like I was solid for the first 20 miles. For the next long race I’m thinking about carrying another bottle of the stuff or putting it in a drop bag to help during the later portions of the race.

My shoe choice for this race was the Montrail Rouge Fly. They performed well and dried quickly after the creek crossings. The only issue I have is that my toe is killing me after toe punching that rock!

My 4:47:54 was good for 120th place out of 852 finishers. Despite my finishing time, I’m pretty pleased with the results considering the hurdles I encountered going into and within the race. I’m now looking forward to the American River 50 miler and Ohlone 50K.




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Race Report: ITR Fort Ord 50K

Fort Ord Trail Run 50K

“It’s only a training run.” At least that’s what I had to keep telling myself as Inside Trail Racing hosted the first ever trail run at Fort Ord National Monument. With the Way Too Cool 50K, American River 50M, and Ohlone 50K coming up I was looking for a smaller race that I could use as a training run. I have a hard time going out and putting in 20 plus miles on the trail by myself and this race was the perfect opportunity to get the miles in with some company. Unfortunately I also have a hard time taking it easy during a race.

I toed the starting line with a friend from work. The whole time nervously joking that I didn’t want to be up front and freezing my butt off as the fog rolled in. There were a couple familiar faces in the crowd which led me to believe this was going to a pretty quick race.

Fort Ord 50K Starting Line
Steve and I as close as we’re willing to get to the starting line.

The 50K and 25K runners took off together and as expected, Leor Pantilat shot off the front and quickly disappeared into the fog. I decided to keep up with Steve for the first mile and then urged him to go on ahead without me. He was running the 25K and is a much faster runner so I was a little relieved when he took me up on my offer. I was then able to settle down into a more comfortable pace.

Around the 3 mile mark you come upon the Pilarcitos aid station. Having a full water bottle I waved and said good morning and continued upon my merry way. This is also about the point you start up the first climb before descending onto some incredible single-track. This was easily my favorite part of the race as the single-track snaked through old oak trees draped with moss.

Fort Ord 50K Single Track
Single track through the moss draped trees.

 
After a quick little loop you go back up the single-track and then down the road back to the Pilarcitos aid station. Around here I caught back up with Steve and another runner who had gone off course and added some bonus mileage and elevation. After Pilarcitos I ran with Steve for a little bit before I once again urged him to go ahead. Next stop was the Skyline aid station at the top of a short climb. At this point the 50K turns off and the 25K and 10K runners head for home.

Fort Ord 50K and 25/10K Split
50K and 25/10K Split

The next seven miles were scenic but largely uneventful. I got passed by a few runners on the way to the Creekside aid station as I intentionally brought my pace under control. I haven’t done a run over 16 miles since the end of December and I was more interested in finishing than gutting myself to stay in the race.

Despite my efforts to maintain an easy pace in the previous section of the course, my faster pace earlier in the race took it’s toll shortly after leaving the Creekside station. After 20 miles the wheels came off the bus and I started having to walk most of the hills I encountered. The next five miles were mostly rolling hills punctuated by a couple tough climbs. I spent most of this section looking over my shoulder as the eventual female winner Jennifer Goldstein stalked me before passing me a mile or so before the Toro aid station.

Fort Ord 50K

As I exited the Toro aid station I looked back up the hill and saw two runners heading down. I knew that I was sitting in the top ten and even though I wasn’t racing, I wanted to maintain my place. With around seven miles to the finish I was going to have my work cut out for me. In the last 10K there was roughly 1,500ft of climbing.

Fort Ord 50K Finish
Almost done!

Once I got to the top of the largest climb I looked back and realized that my pursuers had gained a bit of ground on me. I tried to use the following twisting single-track to my advantage and pushed myself to get out of sight. On the final climb to the finish I looked back one final time and realized I wouldn’t be caught. I rolled into the finish line in 9th place overall with a time of 4:42:42.

Fort Ord 50K Elevation Profile
Inside Trail Racing: Fort Ord 50K Elevation Profile

This was my first run with Inside Trail Racing and definitely won’t be my last. The course was well marked for the most part, the aid stations well stocked, and there was tons of energy surrounding the race. 50K finishers get a pint glass with the Inside Trail Racing logo on one side and the race logo on the other. I was able to put my glass to good use when I got home from the race.

Lagunitas Maximus and My Fort Ord Finisher's Pint Glass

 

Final Stats
Time: 4:42:42
Age Group (30-39): 2/7
Males: 8/37
Overall: 9/55

Gear
Shoes: Montrail Rogue Fly


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Race Report: 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon

2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon Start
Start of the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon. My mom and wife are in the front!

For the second year in a row I competed on a coed team at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon with my mom. Even though this is a women’s themed event a handful of guys run it too. This year there were 1,384 men that finished the race including Sean Astin of Lord of the Rings, The Goonies, and Rudy fame. Since this is a women’s race, the men let the women go first and have to start in corral C. Well, at least most of us do. Unfortunately there are a few men who feel the need to cheat by sneaking into earlier corrals. 

Sean Astin at the start of the 2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon.
Sean Astin joins the rest of the men in corral C. I’m on the far left.

The first mile is run outside the parks going down Disneyland Dr., Ball Rd., and Harbor Blvd. before entering Disney California Adventure. Inside DCA we ran though Paradise Pier, Cars Land,  Hollywood Land and Grizzly Peak before exiting the side gate in Condor Flats.

From there we ran over to Disneyland! We cruised down Main Street where Captain Hook, Mr. Smee, and Tinker Bell cheered us on. From there we visited Tomorrowland, Toon Town, and Fantasyland. We exited Fantasyland through Sleeping Beauty’s castle and proceeded to Frontierland, past the pirates outside Pirates of the Caribbean in New Orleans Square and then went backstage in Critter Country.  

2013 Tinker Bell Half Marathon course map.

Shortly after the 5 mile mark we exited Disneyland and headed into Downtown Disney. At the end of Downtown Disney is the Disneyland Hotel and also the stronghold of the ladies of the Red Hat Society. For the second year in a row these awesome ladies were out in force to cheer on the runners. Many people consider this one of the highlights of the race.

After leaving Disney’s property it was time to cruise the streets of Anaheim. I’m afraid that my race fell apart here. After the California International Marathon in early December I took most of that month off from running and it showed. I was able to maintain my pace for the most part but I got passed by a couple men. I really like the route that this race takes through Anaheim much better than the Disneyland Half Marathon. Running through downtown and the residential areas is a lot more pleasant than some of the industrial areas we run through in the Disneyland Half.

A little after 11 and a half miles we returned to Disney property and ran along the backside of DCA. Unfortunately I was passed by a couple more men in the last mile and a half of the race. This should have put me in 11th place of men. Unfortunately one of the guys that I mentioned earlier that crashed an earlier corral came in before me placing me in 12th place of men. Not only did this guy cheat by sneaking into corral B, he also was the first man to cross the finish line because of it! Luckily he wasn’t the fastest overall and fell to 6th place.

Ultimately it doesn’t matter because there aren’t any awards for men, but it still bothers me that this guy beat me. By sneaking into an earlier corral he had a huge advantage over the rest of the men because he had a lot less runners to maneuver around.

Tinker Bell Half Marathon Medals
Tinker Bell Half Marathon Medals

At the end I’m happy with my results. I finished in 1:28:07 which is my second fastest half marathon. Considering the handicap of starting in corral C I think I could set a new half PR later this year. Team Christopher Robin finished in 15th place out of 302 coed teams! I finished in 15th place overall and was the 12th man to come in. I would have finished second in my age group if they were any for this race.


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Race Report: Dec 2012 PCTR Woodside 35K

Earlier this year I ran the Pacific Coast Trail Runs 35K  as a training run leading into the Ohlone 50K. In that race I found myself in fourth place at the halfway turnaround point and went from training run mode to race mode to catch and pass the third place runner. I ended up finishing that one third but I wasn’t so lucky this time around.

The course starts out in a field and quickly hits a short single track section where passing is difficult if not impossible. Even though I’ve been slacking off since CIM I figured I had enough fitness to place in this race so I stayed with the leaders from the start so I wouldn’t get held back by a slower runner in this section.

After a little more than a half a mile the course moves onto a fire road for a long 4.5 mile climb to the King’s Mountain aid station. Realizing I couldn’t keep the pace for the long climb I slowed down and let my friend I was running with race by himself.

After the King’s Mountain aid station the course becomes is more or less rolling hill single and double track through the redwoods. Knowing my friend was up ahead I increased my effort a little to try to gain some ground.

Somewhere around the 10 mile point you reach the Bear Gulch aid station which also serves as the turnaround point for the 35K distance. The nice thing about having an out and back section is that you can figure out your position in the race, how far ahead the competition is, and how close the runners behind you are. The lead runner was about 6 minutes up on me with a chase group of two runners a couple minutes back. My friend was in fourth place another couple minutes back and I was two minutes off of him.

I had a quick turnaround at Bear Gulch thanks to the volunteers there and quickened my pace to hunt down my friend. Earlier this year when I was in fourth and caught the third place runner I had a bigger deficit to overcome so I didn’t think I would have a problem.

Unfortunately slacking off and only getting in a handful of runs for the month is not the best training for a trail race. About a mile or two after Bear Gulch my hamstrings started tweaking. After months of training on the roads for a fast marathon I don’t think they were ready for the hills of a trail race. Eventually they started cramping forcing me to walk and shuffle the rest of the course. As I stumbled along I was passed several times over. At the 3:11 mark, which was the time I finished the course in earlier this year I still had about two and a half miles to go.

With about a mile to go I found my friend on the side of the road. I thought he came back to see what was taking me so long but he suffered the same fate as me only in a more epic fashion. He ended up cramping so bad that he had to sit down on the trail and wait until he was able to walk again. We ended up walking the final mile in together.

There’s always next year! Photo courtesy of Allen Lucas.

It was a little sad to walk into the finish line of the final race of a year filled with monster personal records and my first Boston Marathon qualifier but I finished injury free and had a great time. I’m happy with that.

Final Stats
Time: 3:42:35
Age Group (35-39): 5/6
Males: 7/12
Overall: 11/32

Gear
Shoes: Montrail Rouge Fly