Archive for the 'club stuff' Category

Race: Marin Memorial Day 10K 2010

This was a spur of the moment thing. LMJS recently formed a womens’ USATF racing team, and this was their second event. I’m planning to get the ball rolling for a mens team, so I wanted to cheer the ladies on and get a taste of racing at a USATF event. Most of the well known Bay Area clubs seemed to be well represented.

The conditions were warm and unusually humid for the Bay Area, plus I had not tapered appreciably for this race, and had done a fairly hard 9 mile trail run just two days before. I was unsure how this would turn out. At the worst I could just cruise it, but my 10K PR was quite soft so perhaps I could beat that.

I hung back at the start in order not to get pulled out too fast. This tactic proved a little too effective, since I was repeatedly boxed in during the first mile and had to run around more people than I would have liked. 7:06 at the first mile marker. Hmm, pretty close to my half marathon PR pace. Feeling OK, but wondering if I could maintain this. The course made it’s way through shaded residential streets in Kentfield and Ross, A sprinkling of residents had come out to cheer us on. Mile 2: 7:07. OK, holding steady, were we going slightly uphill? I was gradually passing faders, but figured it was too early to try to pass everyone in sight, so would simply run behind someone who seemed to be going at the right pace. I can push myself quite nicely doing this, but each of my unwitting running partners were slowing and disappearing today. 7:05 for mile 3. Definitely getting hot now! Someone had set up a hosepipe to mist us. Welcome but brief. My pace fell off: 7:21 for mile 4. approaching marathon pace! I was following a young woman in an all-black outfit. She faltered. Darn it, there’s no one else but a guy in a white shirt and he’s 30-40 yards away!. I drew alongside her and she sped up again. Good. She did not hold if for long, and I passed her for good at the 5 mile marker. 7:27 – my slowest mile of the race. I got within about 30 yards of white shirt, who seemed to have accelerated slightly now that we were in the final mile.
We entered the College of Marin campus and passed the 6 mile marker (7:18). I was distracted for a moment by a volunteer calling “Turn left and follow the lane markers” while turning onto the running track, and a young woman in Impala colours zipped by on the inside. I applied myself and closed up behind her as we went down the back straight. A group of her team mates were there yelling encouragement and things like “He’s drafting you, kick, kick!” I smiled and waved at them and the tone became less aggressive. One of them laughed, and I resumed my close up study of her shoulder blades. We caught white shirt going into the final turn. Impala-girl somehow slipped inside him and I went outside, thus losing close contact. Just as we approached the line, I heard heavy breathing off my shoulder. White shirt had been stung into action and produced a nice sprint for the last 50 yards. I think he beat me to the line, but the three of us finished in the same second and I beat both of them on chip time. 44:48. A PR. I covered the last 0.2 at 6:54 pace.
I should really be able to run this distance about two minutes faster with the right preparation. Simply avoiding that fade in miles 4 and 5 would help quite a bit. That tends to happen to me in 10Ks and it’s a between-the-ears problem. I’ll try again soon.



A friend sent me this. It’s a scanned clipping from the West County Times. That’s me on the left. This was last Sunday, when we ran 20 miles along the Marathon course. It’s funny how I often appear in photos like I’m out for a  relaxing jog!

Click on image to see a larger version.

An Evening With The Stars

I need to post here more often, I’m stating to accumulate topics to write about.
I got paced by a bus this morning. Yes, really. The Park Street bridge that I cross at the beginning and end of my runs is a lifting bridge and the buses are required to stop before crossing. And so I ran past the Transbay bus as it was stopped. When it started again and drew level, it stayed level. I could not see the driver in the dark, but waved anyway and sped up. So did he. So then I turned on the jets and drew ahead. By the far end of the bridge I was going full out (The Garmin recorded a few seconds at 4:25 pace) and the bus blew past. That was fun.
Yesterday thee marathon training group was hosted by Innersports Chiropractic in Berkeley, where we saw a demonstration of video gait analysis, and listened to a talk on Marathon training and prep by Perter Gilmore and Magdalena Lewy-Boulet. On the subject of the big hill in the Oakland marathon course, Peter remarked “You have two months to go. Be afraid of it now so you’ll be well prepared on the day.” This led to a discussion on hill work. Magda talked about specificity in training. Although she likes the treadmill, particularly for hill repeats, and loves the trails, sh runs the majority of her miles on the roads. It’s not just a matter of gait-tuning for hard surfaces, but the road miles strengthen you so that you’re less likely to get injured during an actual race. When I asked her afterwards what races she has coming up, it turned out she’s training for the cross-country nationals, so some of her miles are on grass in spikes. If she gets onto the U.S. team, she’ll go to the world championship in March in her native Poland, and her 98-year old grandmother will get to see her race. Here’s hoping she makes the team!
Nutrition factoids from the talk: Women don’t benefit much from carbo-loading, And don’t have your regular breakfast on race-day. You need to be vary low-fiber in the final 24 hours, to avoid those emergency bathroom breaks during the race.

Pace: December LMJS 10K.

That was the goofiest 10K I ran yet.
Some background – I have volunteered as a pacer for the Oakland marathon, but there’s a requirement to have paced before. This sounds a little Catch-22, but is understandable. It’s acceptable to have paced a non-marathon, like for instance an LMJS 10K. So I thought I would do that in the new year, and showed up for Sundays race all ready to deep-six my pathetic old 10K PR.
While we were standing around yakking before the start, I had a sudden realization. I can’t do it next month, because I’m co-directing that race, and there is no 10K in February because of the Couples Relay. Gotta do it today!
I found Melissa, the marathon pace coordinator. “OK” she said. “What mile pace do you want? We’re about to announce the pacers”.
“Um er, Eight minutes?”
And off I went to the start line. Argh! Why didn’t I pick 7:30? My legs know that one.
“Um anyone know what finish time 8:00 would give me?”
“50 minutes” said a voice, and we were off.
Hm. going to have to check that 50:00 thing. I was not wearing the Garmin, which has been a bit flaky lately. This is two laps around a 5K course, with mile markers at mile 1 and 2. These are of course wrong for the second lap, so I’d have to figure out something for that too. Is this too fast? Shouldn’t there be more people in front of me? It looks a little sparse up there. Worry worry.
First mile marker: 7:43. Ouch. Slow down, relax, watch the ducks and boats on the lake. Someones was passing me, good. It takes an effort of will not to speed up when there’s a sweaty hard-breathing guy on your shoulder.
Mile 2 split: 7:51. I really thought I’d slowed more than that. Gotta put on the brakes some more. I had a plan for the mile markers now. I’d simply hit the split button as I crossed the start line, so I’d have two meaningful per-mile splits during lap two. The field was quite spread out now, but I was catching someone who had slowed. “Are you the 50-minute guy?” he asked. “Yes. Actually I’m a little ahead of that, but I’m making adjustments”. He looked crestfallen. I thought about cajoling him to run with me, but it seemed hopeless. He had plainly gone out way too fast and was fading badly.
The first mile of lap two was 8:03, Good, giving some of that time back. Now, about that finish time... One benefit of running slowly is that I was still able to do math. 5K is 6.2 miles, so 8 times 6 and 1/5 is …. 49:36 exactly. Glad I figured that out.
Next split: 8:09. Good. Still need to slow a bit.
Dawdle dawdle.. Here comes the finish, with the clock. Maybe four seconds early. I slowed down and bunny-hopped across the line to the amusement of the timekeepers. Only two seconds early. So now that’s done.
I was amused to discover I’d placed third in my age group. It was a useful exercise though. I’ll need to go slower than that in the marathon – 3:40 is 8:23 average pace – but the hill will help. The time that it adds will probably mean running about 8:10 on the flat, and there will be 26 markers for me to keep track. I might even measure how far apart the streetlamps are on the first part of the course so I can get my pace accurately dialed in within the first few hundred yards – something Garmins are are not too good at. Speaking of Garmins, mine is having problems. It turns itself off mid run-even though it’s well charged. I’ll try the big reset, and see if there’s a software upgrade, but maybe its time has come. I’m in no big rush to replace it. It would make a change to time myself over measured distances for a while, and train my builtin pace-keeper.

2009 – Three marathons, two half marathons, a 10 mile trail race, 15K, a 10K, and a 5K, That’s all the racing I did. Not much, really.
Of these, just two were not PRs, The 10K was held in San Francisco’s Chinatown in wind and torrential rain in February. Fun in a splashy way, but not fast. The other one was the Big Sur Marathon, which rather famously is not a PR course!
So the newbie improvement curve is continuing with the help of some serious mileage. Last week I passed the 3,000 mile mark for the year. I must admit that these back-to-back marathon training cycles are becoming stale. So here’s the loose plan for 2010.

Boston is the next goal race, but just to make things a bit more interesting I’ll be leading a pace group in the Oakland Marathon three weeks beforehand. As my final long run of training it will be over-length and slightly fast, but I don’t care. My pace will be 3:40 over a course with a 600 ft hill in the first half.
The other marathon I run next year will likely be New York, which gets Cathi’s vote. I’ll skip San Francisco, maybe run the half. In the summer I’ll attack the shorter distances which I have so neglected in my training.
I’ll likely dip my toes into the barefoot/minimal shoe thing soon. My gait still needs a little work, and that should help it.


When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and when in the USA, pig out on turkey and all the trimmings at Thanksgiving, Whoohoo!
I’m thankful I discovered running, and the friends that come with it, and also thankful that I’ve made it to taper time in fairly good shape.

What have I been up to? Our club, the LMJS, is organizing a training program for the Oakland Marathon and Half. The marathon program started last week, so now there are about 75 people following three training programs drawn up by little old me (with some input from others). Eek! I hope they’re doing OK. The weekly supervised runs will be plenty hilly, since the course has a major hill in it.  I’ve run various bits of this course at different times. The uphill’s not too bad, but that descent down Lincoln is not be trifled with. It’s on concrete too. They don’t put asphalt on gradients that steep. The half-marathoners are starting their training soon, and I’m still working on those plans…

Today I’m taking a day off as part of my taper. CIM is the weekend after next, and I’m still thinking about a pacing plans For the first time I’m planning a negative split instead of doing it by muddle. I’m tinkering with a spreadsheet to get the splits out. I’m not sure if I’ll use a pace band, or try and memorize it all. The memorization trick would involve a set off offsets from 7:30 pace, hitting zero around halfway, then going negative. After mile 18-20 or so, it stops being a pacing plan, and becomes a schedule. “Hitting mile 20 in X equates to a finish time of Y” type of thing. Nice to know if you’re pushing to hit a particular goal.

Speaking of pace bands, I volunteered at the LMJS 4th Sunday Runs last weekend, and at the start Loraine showed me a small post-it note with three mile splits on it. Yup, a 5K “pace band”. It worked, and she got another PR, on her own this time. Good job, Loraine! Her husband, Dan, has been coming back from a knee injury that the docs seemed to think is degenerative, but maybe isn’t. He’s been running in a pair of Vibram Five Finger shoes, with good results. It looks like there’s something to this barefoot/minimal-shoe trend.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!


On Saturday I headed to Lake Merritt for my short easy run. Some of the LMJS members were entering a 5K/10K organized by the East Bay Front Runners, and it would be nice to shmooze for a bit before going for a run around the neighborhood. There are some nice hills there that are worthy of inspection. But I wasn’t going to race, oh no. This was an easy day, in between intervals on Friday and a 22-miler on Sunday.
Loraine’s suggestion that I pace her in her 5K was hard to resist, though. “What pace do you want to go? 7:45? OK” Oh well, it’s only 5K. That wont do much harm.
I didn’t join the crush at the start, but waited down the road a little way, running up and down to warm up. Loraine came by and I joined her. We ran around the end of the lake and started along the straight section of Lakeshore. Were we going a little fast? This felt like 7:30. I turned my attention to the Garmin. As I’ve mentioned before, Garmins don’t work reliably at Lake Merritt, and mine had been showing some weird paces. It had a period of lucidity and confirmed 7:30 or close to it. Hmm. Her breathing seems OK. There was another woman in front of us with a pacer of her own, so we tucked in behind them and picked off some runners who had gone out too fast. At mile 2, Loraine looked at her watch and said “I can’t think. What twice 7:45?” “15” I lied. Jeepers, she doesn’t know how fast we’re going. This had better work. I think it will. It’s a good sign that she can still talk. Just then the pair in front faltered and we passed them.
“OK, we’re into the final third. You’re doing good!” Loraine’s repartee was down to an occasional monosyllable, but she gave me to understand that this was not fun. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the third mile of a 5K race is not fun. She held pace, though. I slowed just a little for the uphill along Grand Avenue, and was gratified when she started to accelerate again when it flattened out. I waited until we were 100 yards from the finish and instructed “If you have anything left in the tank, start burning it now!”, but there wasn’t much left for a kick. I think the time was 23:33. Second woman and a PR. Plus I learned a few things about pacing. Things not to say include “This is about my marathon pace”. She later remarked “I thought about 26 miles and felt a wave of nausea”. Also not well received: “My Garmin says we just ran a 13-minute mile!”. I think she’s forgiven me though.

I had promised myself six miles so set off around the lake again, more slowly this time. I caught up with Jack C, my teammate at the Tahoe Relay. He had got injured at that event (achilles and calf), but six weeks of physio and cycling had put him to rights, and now here he was on his last long run before the NYC Marathon. He was on his seventh and final circuit of the lake, and was glad to have someone to run with to keep his pace up. Good luck on November 1st, Jack.

Sunny Sunday

This morning I was a volunteer at a prediction race at the LMJS, the “Time is on your side race”. That gave me a good excuse not to run it, since I’m terrible at prediction racing. The winner of the 10K event, Dan, revised his estimate downwards by a minute at the urging of Loraine, his wife. He then proceeded to run within one second of that time. Well done Dan!

Incidentally, volunteering is fun for it’s own sake, not just a someone’s-gotta-do-it chore. It has all the fun of a race without the sweat and bother of actually running. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but not by much.

Having thus occupied my morning, the sweat and bother was shifted to the afternoon. Hudson called for a 16-mile progression. That’s a fungible term, but today it meant “Last 20 minutes hard”. I somehow mis-read that as 30 minutes. Psychologists might raise an eyebrow on learning that I usually make these errors in an upwards direction.  The route I took was also a mile over length. Oh well.

It was sunny, windy, and fun. The kite sailors were zipping across the bay at speed, and there were plenty of people out enjoying the day. Most of my run consisted of two laps around Bay Farm island. I pushed it for the last four miles, ending up a little faster than marathon pace. All hay in the barn, as they say.

Race PRs

5K20:43 (LMJS 6/28/09
12K54:36 (Across Bay 3/21/10)
15K1:09:51 (LMJS 19/27/09)
Half1:31:28 (Kaiser 2012
Marathon 3;13:14 (CIM '11)


February 2019
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