C Talley Run

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


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Race Recap – Quicksilver 100K – The Race I Needed

Quicksilver 100K

 

For the past few years I’ve felt like my best days on the trails were behind me. In 2013 I ran what I feel is my strongest ultra at American River, finishing the 50 mile distance in 7:21:13 for 20th place overall. I followed that up with a personal course record at the Ohlone 50K in 5:57:18 for 15th place overall. After that my results never lived up to my expectations for myself. Luckily that all changed last weekend at the Quicksilver 100K.

I’ll start by getting the one negative about this race out of the way. It starts really freaking early. 4:30 AM! Luckily I live pretty close by so my drive isn’t that bad. The 3 AM alarm was brutal. I quickly got dressed, grabbed my gear, and headed out the door to pick up my friend who was also running the race. If I’m going to suffer this early in the morning, at least it wouldn’t be alone.

We got to the Hacienda entrance to the Almaden Quicksilver Park around 4 AM. Plenty of time to park, pick up our bibs, and hit the bathrooms before the pre-race briefing. After a quick and straight forward briefing by race director John Brooks we were off and running.

One of the advantages of the pre-dawn start is that I got to try out my new UltrAspire Lumen 600 before I head down to San Diego.  WOW! I used it on the highest setting since I was only going to be using it for about 6 miles and it is BRIGHT! So bright that a nearby runner remarked that he didn’t need to bring his own light. It is also so comfortable that I didn’t even feel it around my waist.

The race features in the neighborhood of 14,000 feet of elevation gain so it isn’t surprising that we started with a big climb. About a mile and a half into the race I caught up to Mark Tanaka. I’ve raced with Mark several times over the years so it was nice to catch up with him. He has a robust racing schedule coming up including the San Diego 100 which I’m also running.

2017 Quicksilver 100K Elevation Profile

2017 Quicksilver 100K Elevation Profile

Mark is far more experienced at trail racing than I am and was pushing the pace a little faster than I would have doing by myself but it felt comfortable so I kept up with him. Shortly after rolling through the Lexington aid station at mile 17.9 we were joined by Amy Burton who happened to be the lead woman at the time.

One of the biggest climbs on the course was coming up and Amy knows the course well so I followed her cues and walked when she walked and ran when she ran up Priest Rock Trail which is affectionately known as “Dog Meat.” Somewhere along the way we lost Mark but picked up Jesus Garcia-Fernandez. Turns out that Jesus will be working one of the aid stations down in San Diego so I’ll have another friendly face down there!

Thanks to a trail closure on the trail that heads up to Bald Mountain, we got to do the Kennedy Trail instead this year. According to many, this added a bit of elevation gain to the course from previous years. The nice part is that we got to see all the race leaders as they were heading down. I should have been paying attention to how many people were ahead of me, but I really didn’t care since I didn’t want to push myself too hard this race.

After about a two mile decent and two mile climb back up we were greeted by Chikara Omine handing out popsicles. I would usually pass on them but I’m trying to eat more during these races and it looked pretty good.

Shortly after that, I hit my first low point of the race. I got really tired, really fast. I have sleep apnea and the previous weekend was a rough one for getting sleep in. I had been feeling tired all week because of it and I’m sure the early wake up call on race morning didn’t help. I let Jesus, Amy, and the rest of our small pack of runners go as I slowly jogged my way into the Wood Road aid station, hoping they had some caffeine.

I was in luck! There was a can of Coke at the Wood Road aid station with my name on it. After downing a couple cups I headed back onto the trail. There was one small climb left before we had a nice long downhill section but it was a steep one. Climbing up my quads started to shake. At around 30 miles into the race it was way too early to be feeling like this!

Thankfully, my quads got some relief on the long downhill and I was able to recover. I recovered enough that I was able to catch back up to Amy as we rolled back into the Hicks aid station at mile 37.8.

For the better part of the next 6 miles Amy and I clicked off the miles at what felt like an effortless pace. Then at the top of the last little climb before heading down to the Mockingbird  aid station My quads decided they had enough. Amy flitted down the hill as I entered my second dark patch of the race.

After gingerly making my way down the hill I came to the Mockingbird aid station. I couldn’t have gotten there at a worse point in my race. This aid station is also the finish line! 50K runners were finishing their days and the air smelled of BBQ. I had to get out of there quickly before I seriously started to consider taking a DNF. After a quick bottle refill and a few slices of watermelon I was back on the course.

Little did I know, I was sitting in 15th place leaving the aid station. Considering I wasn’t planning on racing that day and hadn’t really tapered for the race, I was having a pretty decent day. I’m actually glad I didn’t know how I was doing. I made the decision to walk a bit to see if I could recover my quads. I don’t know if I would have done that had I known I was in a decent position.
I was quickly passed by a runner and his pacer and then one more runner on the rocky Buena Vista trail. I really didn’t care. My only goal was to find some flat or down hill section and see if I could run and I knew I would get it after the Buena Vista trail ended.

Exiting the Great Eastern Trail

Exiting the Great Eastern Trail

Once on flat ground I discovered I was able to run as long as the pace was mellow. I was content with that and decided that finishing the race was my only goal at this point. Unlike the first 40 miles of the race, I ran the rest of the race by myself. The only exception was the occasional runner that would pass me.

At mile 52, Mark Tanaka caught back up to me. We had a nice long downhill coming up so I did my best to keep up with him for that section, knowing that he would leave me on the upcoming climb and I wouldn’t likely see him again until the BBQ at the finish.

The temperature wasn’t too high that day, but the next few sections felt warm and took their toll on me. After the McAbee aid station I got a bloody nose. Then at mile 56, right before the Enriquita aid station I pulled over to the side of the trail and puked relentlessly. I instantly felt better so I tried to run again but my quads sized up again. After hiking for a minute I somehow was able to work myself back into a slow jog. I didn’t know how far I had to go to the aid station but I wanted to get there ASAP.  I was overjoyed when it quickly came into view.

Rolling into Enriquita I saw Jesus. He mentioned the wheels fell off for him and I told him I was in just as bad of shape if not worse. At the aid station I was told that I had a 1.2 mile out-and-back and to mark my bib with a marker at the bottom of the trail. I was a little surprised that Jesus was only about 15-20 minutes ahead of me. Maybe I wasn’t moving as slowly as I thought.

Heading down the hill I realized I still hadn’t recovered from my earlier trail side purge. I started feeling light headed and a little dizzy so I started walking down the hill. Then I saw Amy and her pacer cruising up the hill. Again, I was surprised to see she wasn’t that far ahead of me. She mentioned that this was the worst section of the course as we crossed paths but all I could blurt out was a “good job.” Next Mark came rolling up the trail and asked if I was hurting. YES!

Not only was I hurting, I was getting more light headed and decided I needed to sit in the shade for a few minutes and take in some calories. 5 minutes later I was back up and walking back down the trail only to get light headed again. I sat back down and watched a couple runners bomb down the trail. After a couple minutes more I got up and finally made my way down to the markers at the end of the trail.

I was slowly making my way back up when I got light headed again and needed to sit for a third time. Then a couple more runners came shooting down the hill towards the marker and I decided I didn’t want them to pass me so I got up and made it back to the Enriquita aid station.

With one more climb to the top and only three mostly downhill miles to go I felt that I had recovered enough to push to the finish. I certainly wasn’t going fast for the next few miles, but they felt comfortable. I rolled back into the finish at Mockingbird at 12:28:29 and in 20th place.

With a solid race in the bag, it was time to congratulate friends that finished ahead and enjoy a ridiculous BBQ spread while waiting for more friends to finish. Thanks to UltrAspire for incredible gear, I’m looking forward to rocking my Lumen 600 in San Diego in a month and to ASO Sport for helping me recover quickly.  Huge thanks to the volunteers supporting the race and the Quicksilver Running Club for hosting such a quality event.

I think what has been holding me back at a lot of my recent trail races is that I had forgotten how or been unwilling to suffer. I’m proud of myself for hammering out the last 20 miles of this races with blown quads and pushing myself to run when it was very uncomfortable.  Most, if not all of us hit dark patches in these long races and knowing how to push through them is how you reach your goals. I feel really confident after this race heading into the San Diego 100 next month.

Oh yeah, this was also a Western States qualifier so it is nice to have that out of the way. I’ll #SeeYouInAuburn for my fifth consecutive lottery in December.

Quicksilver 100K on Strava

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Worth the Wait: Doctor Strange 10K Award Arrived.

The race may have been back on November 10, 2016 but my age group award from the Doctor Strange 10K arrived in the mail last night! This race was a part of runDisney’s Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend. You can read my race recap here.

doctor-strange-10k-age-group-award

runDisney Doctor Strange 10K Age Group Award


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Race Recap – Doctor Strange 10K

I’m not sure what motivated me, but I decided to dust off the old blog and post a new entry. From November 10th through the 13th runDisney hosted  their Super Heroes Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland. This time around I was only running the Doctor Strange 10K since I am still rebuilding after running the Cascade Crest 100 in late August.

My initial hope was to take a shot at the masters win but a few training set backs put that goal in doubt. I settled on goal to finish under 39 minutes which should at least land me in the age group awards. Given some of my training paces this should have been achievable, but again, some late training set backs may have made it an overly ambitious goal.

The first mile is mostly a straight shot down Disneyland Drive/West Street before turning left into the Anaheim Convention Center. I was slightly over goal pace clocking in at 6:18 and it didn’t feel as easy as it should have at this point. I was sitting in around 15th place overall and figured I needed to be top 10 for the masters win. At least I knew I could throw out my original goal at this point.

drstrange10kcoursemap

Doctor Strange 10K Course Map

The second mile of the race weaves through the Anaheim Convention Center and its neighboring hotels before dumping out onto Harbor Boulevard and later a left hand turn on Disney Way which takes you backstage of Disney California Adventure. While running through the convention center I was still feeling decent but once on Harbor I could feel my pace slipping. I found a comfortably hard gear that I thought I could maintain and clicked off a 6:27 second mile. Not even close to goal pace.

The third mile took us through the wharf and into Radiator Spring’s back entrance by Radiator Springs Racers. We then ran through Bug’s Land, up the parade route, and started cruising around Paradise Pier. Thor was hanging out on the parade route by the main Cars Land entrance. My race performance was holding steady at this point. I wasn’t where I wanted to be but I was maintaining pace. Mile three was in 6:30.

Mile four is the last in DCA finishing off the pier, winding down Grizzly Peak Trail, past Soarin’, through Hollywood Land where Black Widow was hanging out and past what remains of the Hollywood Tower of Terror, and going through a stretch of backstage DCA. 6:35 for that mile and I got passed a few times. I was likely sitting in around 18th place at this point. At the rate I was slipping, age group awards may have been out of the question.

Mile five takes us through the service tunnel between DCA and Disneyland, through a long stretch of backstage Disneyland before entering Toon Town, and by “it’s a small world” which was decorated for the holidays. This mile was slow and miserable for me. It seemed like there were a lot of sharp turns that wreaked havoc on my pace. I don’t even recall if there were any characters stationed along this portion of the course. Mile five took 6:55 and I lost a few more spots. I think I was sitting around 22nd place at this point.

dr-strange-10k-small-world

Mile six takes you by the front of the Matterhorn before heading into Tomorrowland. You exit by the hub and head towards Pixie Hollow and the back of the Matterhorn where Dr. Strange himself was waiting for runners. We took a quick jaunt through Fantasyland before darting through Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Finally we headed down Main Street, through the front gates, and started through Downtown Disney towards the finish. After a pitiful fifth mile I decided to make an effort on mile six. I ran it in 6:39 and even passed a runner.

dr-strange-10k-castle

The final two tenths takes you through the end of Downtown Disney and finishes by the Disneyland Hotel. I was able to pick off one more runner in this stretch who started his kick too early and finished in 20th place overall in a time of 40:24. Somehow that was good enough for an age group win.

dr-strange-10k-finish

While I was thrilled to get the age group win, I was pretty disappointed in my pace. Earlier this year I ran a half marathon at that same pace. I still have a bit of work to do to get myself back to where I was earlier this year before I got injured.

Doctor Strange 10K Strava Data

 


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#LVKickOffNight – 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Kickoff Night Virtual Run

Last year I did the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Kickoff virtual run in order to enter a contest for a free race entry. While there is no mention an entry drawing this year I still entered. I was going to run anyways and I might as well get a free shirt out of it. All you have to do is run a 5K, submit a photo as proof, and fill out this form.

Las Vegas Kickoff Run Shirt

2015 Las Vegas Kickoff Virtual Run Shirt

Tomorrow, April 2nd at 11:59pm is your last chance to enter.

Way Too Cool 50K Logo


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Race Recap: 2015 Way Too Cool 50K

Way Too Cool weekend started out a little different this year. I usually head up to Auburn on Friday and go straight to Auburn Running Company to pick up my bib. This year Auburn Running Company with help from Auburn Alehouse was hosting a screening of Journeyfilm’s latest short film, The Long Haul. The film documents Hal Koerner and Mike Wolfe’s fastest known time effort on the John Muir Trail.

Before the film Western States race director Craig Thornley let us know that the proceeds of the film were going towards the American River Conservancy‘s effort to purchase 10,000 acres adjacent to the Granite Chief Wilderness. Purchasing this land will help to ensure the continuation of the Western States Endurance Run and the Tevis Cup. Next was a quick intro from filmmakers JB and Jen Benna and then it was time for the show.

The film was put together as an afterthought from iPhone and GoPro footage but it doesn’t feel like it. The scenery is breathtaking and would have stolen the show if it weren’t for Hal and Mike. Hal Koerner is a known personality in the trail running world and the film portrays him as the goofball we expect. While I know who Mike Wolfe is I haven’t really seen much of him before and his personality really shines through in the film. It is a fun film and I would recommend it to anyone interested in trail running.

Since I chose to go to the film screening I didn’t have time to pick up my bib. That meant I would have to wake up a little earlier and pick it up race morning. Not a big deal and if anything I might get a better parking spot because of it. WRONG! I ended up getting there about 6:30 and had to park about three quarters of a mile away. Luckily bib pickup was a breeze.

The past two years I’ve tried to start this race conservatively and failed miserably. The first mile is on a paved road before hitting the Olmstead Loop Trail and everyone jockeys for position before hitting the single track. If you get stuck behind a slower person you could be in their conga line for a while as you wait for an opportunity to pass. This year I gave in to history and went out at a decent clip knowing I wouldn’t hold myself back.

After a quick mile clocking in at 6:43 we hit the trails of Olmstead. Shortly after the trail begins we normally have to cross Knickerbocker Creek.  This year someone carried a small bridge down down to the creek which was nice but in a way takes a little something away from the race. Two miles later I paid for my lack of time training on the trails and clipped a root which sent me rolling down a grassy hill. Luckily I was at the back of a line of runners and was able to easily hop back on. I’d end up falling on this loop one more time but it wasn’t as exciting but it was a solid reminder to keep my eyes on the trail. Around 6.8 miles into the race you have to cross Knickerbocker for the second time. This section is significantly wider and deeper and always fun to blast through. I ended up finishing the 8-mile loop in 1:01:33 which is about a minute and a half faster than I’ve done before.

Way Too Cool 50K Course Map

Way Too Cool 50K Course Map

The next section of course is mostly flat with a few rolling hills. I just cruised this hoping to recover a little and took the opportunity to down a GU before the biggest downhill section on the course began. Last year I pushed the downhill too hard which led to blown out hamstrings later in the race. This year I chose to float down the hill.

After crossing Highway 49 you run along the Quarry Trail which parallels the middle fork of the American River. This section is mostly flat with a few small climbs thrown in to keep it interesting. Shortly after grabbing another GU and exiting the Lower Quarry aid station around mile 11 I realized I was on a 50K PR pace. Knowing my history of blowing up on this course and the fact that all the climbing is packed at the end of the course I pushed the thought away. The one thing I couldn’t push away was a rock in my shoe so I had to make a quick pit stop to remove it.

16.7 miles in you reach the Maine Bar aid station. Unfortunately by the time I got here my stomach was starting to turn on me and all I could stomach was a boiled potato. I was planning to get down at least one GU an hour but the thought of one at this point wasn’t appealing. Onward and upwards!

Around mile 18 you hit the first climb of the course. It’s roughly two miles of climbing and then about a mile down to the Auburn Lakes Trail (ALT) aid station. In the past I’ve had to hike most of this for various reasons. This year it seemed relatively easy to climb and I passed a few runners here. Not being injured or sick for the first time here made a huge difference.

Way Too Cool 50K Elevation Profile

Way Too Cool 50K Elevation Profile

After a quick bottle refill and an orange slice at the ALT aid station I headed back onto the trail. This is another section I’ve always regretted not being able to run well. It’s a few miles of rolling downhill until you get to the infamous Goat Hill. Even though I was feeling really good I was running cautiously. I wanted a decent time on this course and I didn’t want to blow up for the first time on it. I locked into the easy pace of the runner in front of me and let him  lead the way.

Around mile 23 I looked back and noticed a group of three runners gaining on us. Less then a half a mile later they were on us and I stepped off the trail to let them pass. After stepping off I realized I recognized the group. Jen Benna was leading with JB Benna and Tim Twietmeyer (5X Western States champ) right behind her. The guy I was pacing off didn’t yield to them so I was able to hop on to the back of their group. Jen and JB passed the other guy and were quickly gone but Tim stuck with us for about a mile. It was kind of cool to run directly in his footsteps for a while.

The dreaded Goat Hill didn’t seem so bad this year. I still had to hike most of the third of a mile long climb but I ran some of the middle section where it levels a little bit and made it to the top about 45 seconds faster than I had in the past. It’s a small victory but I’ll take it.

After topping off my bottles at the aid station at the top of the hill I checked to make sure I was still on pace for a PR. In theory, I still could break my ‘A’ goal of going sub 4:30. The only thing standing in my way was one more rocky climb at mile 29. I ended up making it up that hill about a minute and a half faster than I previously had but it wasn’t enough. After a short run through the grassy meadow and I crossed the finish line in 4:32:18.

2015 Way Too Cool 50K Medal

2015 Way Too Cool 50K Medal

After crossing the finish line I headed over to the Athlete’s Village to grab some grub which was catered by The Cork and Fork and the famous Way Too Cool frog cupcake. Then I waited for my friend Kayden to cross the finish line and secure a huge PR of his own.

Way Too Cool Finishers

Way Too Cool Finishers

My previous 50K PR was 4:42:42 at Fort Ord and my fastest Way Too Cool time was 4:47:54 in 2013. After a pitiful racing year last year I’m celebrating every success this year and I’ve had a few good ones. As proud as I am of my performance, it is humbling to run in this race. Way Too Cool draws incredible talent and I finished 100th overall. Patrick Smyth of Nike’s Elite Trail Racing Team set the course record of 3:04:48 and Megan Roche set the women’s record of 3:41:56 that day!

Way Too Cool Frog Cupcake

Way Too Cool Frog Cupcake


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Monthly Miles: June Recap

June was the month that I was eagerly anticipating and dreading at the same time. It was to be my highest volume of mileage ever as I trained for the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July. The plan was to hit 400 miles for the month with 90 in the first week, 100 in the second, 110 in the third, and back down to 100 in the fourth. I had never done a single week of 100 miles so I was nervous and excited to see how I would hold out averaging 100 for four weeks.

The first week of June went very smoothly. I had taken the last week of May pretty easy in order to rest for what was to come. I ended up with 90 miles with 9,700 feet of elevation gain.

June Week 1 Training Volume

In the second week I finally crossed the 100 mile per week line for the first time in my running history. So far the plan was working pretty flawlessly. I was doing most of the running at relatively easy paces since doing this kind of volume was uncharted territory for me.

june2014-week2

During the third week the wheels started coming off the wagon a little bit. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I had horrible runs. I felt lethargic and like my legs were dead. Then all of a sudden I had an incredible run on Sunday and set a few Strava segment PRs. 110 miles in the book for the week which is my highest volume ever and probably will be for a while.

june2014-week3

Disaster struck on Monday of the fourth week. I was out shopping and when I went to grab a case of soda out from under the shopping cart to put on the register I pulled something in my back. This was on my rest day out of all days! I imagine it happened so easily because my body was fatigued. I took Tuesday off to nurse my injury. During this time I isolated the pain and figured it was my Piriformis and not my back. I’ve dealt with this problem before and know it actually helps to run through the pain. My week was somewhat salvaged.

After some serious massage on my Piriformis I was set to hit the road again. On Wednesday I put in a couple easy 6 milers to test out the back. It was still sore from the tension the tight Piriformis was placing on it but it felt better after I was done running. I fell short of my goal of 100 miles for the week but I was grateful to get some decent mileage after the back scare. It is still not 100% but should be by race day.

june2014-week4

I ended the month with 385 miles with 44,304 feet of vertical gain. I didn’t hit my goal of 400 miles but I’m fine with that. The more important goal is making it to the TRT100 starting line healthy. As an added bonus I ended up ranking pretty high on the Strava June Monthly Training Series (MTS) leader board. My 620km placed me at 16/39,702 runners participating. It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the first page of a Strava challenge leader board.

Strava June Monthly Training Series (MTS)

Total Activities: 32
Total Hours: 63
Running Miles: 385
Racing Miles: 0

Strava Challenges Completed

Strava Prove It 40K RunStrava Prove It 80K RunStrava Prove It 120K RunStrava Prove It 160K RunStrava Prove It 200K RunStrava Races 10KStrava Races 13.1


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Monthly Miles: May Recap

I finally started ramping up my training volume in May by logging 78 more miles than April. This is just the beginning too. I’m hoping for a huge June to set myself up for a shot of going under 24 hours at the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July. Speaking of which, I also finished the last four of eight required volunteer hours doing trail work on a new section of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. That means I’m fully qualified to run the 100 miler.

This month Suunto sponsored the Sisu Challenge on Strava. Sisu is a Finnish word that means going against the odds and displaying courage. For the challenge we were supposed to courageously go beyond our limits and log 65 kilometers (40.4mi) between May 17th and June 1st. 20 miles a week is pretty low to be considered a challenge. It looks like they kept the bar low for a reason. Anyone who completes the “challenge” is eligible to purchase a Suunto Ambit2 R GPS watch with a heart rate monitor for $250.

May was a good stepping stone in my training for Tahoe. June will be my biggest month of training ever and I’m looking forward to seeing how my body responds to the increased running volume.

Total Activities: 29
Total Hours: 46
Running Miles: 282
Racing Miles: 0

Strava Challenges Completed

Strava Prove It 40K RunStrava Prove It 80K RunStrava Prove It 120K RunStrava Prove It 160K RunStrava Prove It 200K RunStrava Races 10KStrava Races 13.1Strava Suunto Sisu Challenge 50%Strava Suunto Sisu Challenge Complete