Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Delightful 2nd Annual Oakland Marathon

I got a day pass from Christi (and 3-week old baby Quinn) to get my running fix this weekend, and joined a sold out crowd of 7,000 at the 2nd Annual Oakland Marathon in Oakland, CA. Mother Nature took a break from a week of torrential rain to give us a perfect overcast day, and we had a blast! Frankly, it was just so nice to make it to the starting line of a race, I would have been happy with any result.

I pulled into the parking lot on three hours sleep - not bad for a sleep-deprived, new parent zombie - with baby formula still on my unshaven cheek. Sexy! Not that it mattered. I was so happy to make the starting line of any race after two unexpected DNS's in the last month. Fate has a way of reminding you to appreciate the little things.

I ran the inaugural Oakland Marathon last year, and loved the hilly course that wound through so many fun districts of the East Bay. Some new course modifications promised to add even more hills plus a twisting section along the lake near the end. Score! I had zero expectations on pace, and lined up with my camera in hand.

(Geting ready at the start)

(Arlington's Devin Jones gets a hug from his biggest supporters)

(Ultra-God Ian Sharman, out for a training run)
I chatted a bit with Ian Sharman, now a known quantity among the front runners after a series of fast marathons (including a new world record for marathon in a Spiderman outfit, which only lasted one week before Michael Wardian got into the game) and a stunning 12:44 at the Rocky Raccoon 100-mile. He let me know there were three elites here (sub-2:35), including last years winner, Tony Torres, and the always-fast Jesus Campos. As the gun went off, I paced along with Oakland's Tim Stahler, back into marathoning after a 10-year hiatus (and hoping for sub-3!). We took it easy, passing under the Paramount Theater before heading towards the hills.

(And we're off!)

(The famous Paramount Theater)

(All smiles in the early miles)
We hit the first set of hills, and then onto Telegraph Avenue where Oaklanders cheered us on. It's so fun to run right down the middle of the street! I ran with Greg Rolfes, and when I asked where he was from, he said "right down that street". The local advantage!

(Tegenu Beru well out in front at mile 5)
Onto College Ave (mile 5), we had our first out and back section and a chance to see how the race was playing out. San Jose's Tegenu Beru was setting a wicked pace up front by himself, with Jesus Campos, Ian Sharman, and Tony Torres in the chase pack already 45 seconds back. The top three women were all pretty close too.

(Out and back on College Ave)
As we turned up into the hills, Payam Saljoughian hollared out "here comes the fun part!" and kicked down to his Moraga-tested climbing gear. I eased up to save a little for the backside, remembering that the downhills were the killer on this course. We had made it through the first six miles in a speedy 37 minutes, so there was plenty in the bank.

(Climbing alongside hwy 24)
Ian Sharman was crushing the hills, and I didn't see any remnant of him spending the last 14 hours moving out of his third story apartment. He should trade in his Spiderman costume for Wolverine - he can heal from anything! The rolling hills of Montclair and Rockridge were lots of fun, and the new course allowed us to see a few new neighborhoods. Every time I see "Rockridge", I can't help but think of Blazing Saddles..am I the only one?

(The swiss horns back for more!)
I got a course marshal escort on the downhill, just as Tim Stahler and Women's front runner Anna Bretan caught up to me. This was Anna's first marathon, and she said she was just hoping for a Boston qualifying time....um, we're running about a 2:50 pace, so I think she's safe! As we got down to Fruitvale, my strides were short and turning over quickly, as opposed to Anna's long and elegant leaps, and the two of us made our way down the long stretch towards Jack London Square. Barefoot Efrem, spectating today thanks to an injury, zoomed up aside us on his roller blades and captured some great footage. Geez, I thought I was hauling ass but I look slow!

(Video provided by Barefoot Efrem on roller blades! If you need a prescription, Fruitvale has MORE COWBELL)
(High fives from the Gummi Bear!)
West Oakland showed serious community spirit with their 9am DJ-infused jams, and we joined the rabbits from the half marathon around mile 19. Anna got on the tail of of some fast female half marathoners, and passed me by, soon followed by her brother in the half marathon, who couldn't have been more excited for her. She was on course record pace!
(You could hear these drummers from miles away)

(Under the flaming bridge!)

(Gorillas take over the underpass)
My pace eased up to a 6:50 min/mile as we approached the lake, and I chuckled that I found myself missing my little Quinn. Sheesh, we spend every minute with her! You would think a break would be nice. But there is no love as pure as that for a newborn child, and I didn't mind my heart swelling into a huge lump in my throat. I want to enjoy every minute of the yearning.

(The new course hugged the lake trail)

(Half Marathoner Dane Rauschenberg flies along the lake)

(You knew somebody would bring this sign!)

(Cloud cover was perfect all day)
Dane Rauschenberg gave me an atta-boy as he cruised by in the half marathon, and Greg Rolfes proved to have a strong finishing kick to get by me at mile 24. We hit the last two mile stretch, and it looked like I was in about 12th place. I hit the finish in 2:53:49, feeling good and tired. What a perfect day of running! Tegenu Beru had set a new course record (2:30:08), as did Anna Bretan (2:53:19), and the finish corral was full of people saying they had set PR's. Fantastic! (all results)

(Cheering into the finish)

(Anna Bretan and son tell the press about her course-record run)

(My masseuse and angel)

(Yukking it up with Sarah Lavender Smith)

(Oakland Mayor Jean Quan presents the massive trophy to Beru)
Two beers per runner (nice!), plus a chance to catch up with a number of folks as the band laid down some funk. But with a yawn and glimpse towards the Woodside hills, I longed to be home again with my sleepy little poop-machine. Ah, the joys of parenthood!

Thank you, volunteers and Oaklanders for a great day of racing, and I hope to see you again next year!

- SD


Saturday, March 19, 2011

RIP Sally Meyerhoff (1984-2011)

(Sally Meyerhoff, just after winning the P.F. Chang's Arizona Marathon)
On March 7th, elite runner, trail runner, and triathlete Sally Meyerhoff died in a cycling accident in Mariposa, AZ. She was a very accomplished athlete, setting the 10-mile American Record two years ago, recently winning the PF Chang's Arizona Marathon in 2:37 (qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials again in her 2nd marathon) just a month after winning the XTERRA Trail Run World Championships in course record time, and fitting in a Kona-qualifying 4:43 Half Ironman too. One gets the impression this Duke All-American 5k/3k runner was just finding her groove.

I had a chance to meet Sally at the XTERRA Worlds last year, and immediately loved her spunky and positive vibe. She had a thousand questions for me about Ironman Hawaii (which she was training for after qualifying in 2010), and wanted to know every place to party, eat, and have fun. She raced hard, and enjoyed every minute (be sure to watch the XTERRA video where she face plants off the trail, gets right up and wins). You can catch some of her positive attitude on her last blog entry, eerily entered the day before her death.

(Sally en  route to winning the XTERRA Trail Run World Championships)

Sally was "hit by a pickup truck after failing to yield at an intersection in Maricopa, Ariz. and died instantly". For all you cyclists out there, please be careful. We don't want to add any more names to the 700+ who die annually in cycling accidents.

Sally, I hit 10 x 1-mile repeats today in your honor, and will now toast your short but fabulous life. You will be missed!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Welcome, Quinn Carlysle Dunlap!

Quinn Dunlap, born March 7th. So glad you could join us!

I'm in that wonderful new-parent euphoria. Time has stopped, the world glows around me, and my face hurts from smiling all day/night long (which is largely spent cuddling and cooing). Christi proved once again that birthing a child is by far the most impressive endurance event one will ever witness, and she's doing great! We couldn't be happier.

Woodside 50k runners, expect the 7-lb wonder to join Sophie and me to cheer you on at aid station #1. ;-)


Monday, March 07, 2011

DNS x2

I can't recall which sound awoke me from my midnight slumber that Saturday - the thunderous boom of my wife's pregnant body hitting the hardwood floor at the bottom of the stairs, or the screaming that soon followed. Not that it mattered. The tsunami of fear coursing through me was beyond any nightmare, so it had to be real.

Christi had decided our narcotic-infused dog was in need of a pottie break, and being that her fear of cleaning pee stains is one of the few things more ominous than the delivery date of our second child less than two weeks away, she picked him up and felt her way down the dark stairs. But the ever-growing girth of that baby, combined with the jello-like weight of that pug, created enough vertigo to miss one crucial step, and in an instant she was at the bottom clutching her belly and ankle and shot-putting the dog across the room.

My first thought was for the baby, then for Christi, then for Ace the Pug, then...embarrassingly...for my 8am start time at the Steep Ravine 50k. My God, Scott, are you that selfish? The shame was quickly taken down a notch by the smidgen of pride felt from getting the priority correct. Christi's ankle was a mess, already swelling to the size of a softball, and we quickly got ice on it. Ace was fine - he had drunk-drivered the whole thing, being so relaxed he bounced off the hardwood floor and just curled up to keep sleeping. I thought we were in good shape, perhaps enough to entertain that 8am start time. But then Christi uttered the words no expecting parent wants to hear:

"The baby isn't moving."

I tried to calm her, but the vice grip of fear kept my sentences short and my eyes welling with worst case scenarios. We could barely look at each other, knowing our collective fear would be too great for either one of us to survive. Instead, we woke up Sophie and headed to the Emergency Room in the most painfully silent car ride i can remember.

An hour later, we all gave a sigh of relief. It turns out there are fewer safer places to be in accident than in the womb. Mommy's ankle was going to need some rest, but at least it wasn't broken. Sophie and i celebrated with pancakes at IHOP as the sun came up. Oh, yeah the race is starting...guess that's DNS #1. You know what, in the grand scheme of things, a race is a minor thing to sacrifice compared to what else could have happened today. Totally fine by me.

Then came yesterday at the Napa Valley Marathon, when i awoke in a pool of sweat, evidence that I had not completely shaken the minor flu bug from a few days earlier. Probably could run, but Christi and baby #2 are expecting me to be 100% for crewing for their big day today. That's DNS #2, a decision as easy to reach as the first one.

I can't believe it, but I'm actually proud of my little streak of DNS's. I'm glad my life is adventurous on its own to dethrone the race calendar, and remind me of the ever-needed perspective.

But let's hope they end soon. :-)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

XTERRA Trail Run National Championships Moves to Utah in September

XTERRA is moving their 21km trail run national championship to Utah, and shifting from August to late September to coincide with the XTERRA off-road triathlon championships. Sounds like great weekend of fun in the dirt!

I know some of you were saying the course in Bend, OR, wasn't mountain enough for a national championship - you will certainly get your fill here! Plus you can probably count on a lot of the Bend locals to stay put for the Flagline 50k (Max King?). XTERRA says they part with Bend, OR, on good terms.

BTW, how awesome is the guy in their promo picture? BGID...Beards Getting It Done.


[press release]

Ogden / Snowbasin to Host 2011 XTERRA Trail Run Nationals

The 2011 XTERRA Trail Run National Championship half-marathon is moving to Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah, on Sept. 25.

Located just 35 miles north of Salt Lake City, and just up the road from the adventure capitol of Ogden, Snowbasin is easy get to and an increasingly popular adventure travel destination. It also has an incredible collection of trails, which are nothing short of spectacular in late September as the fall colors start bursting in an array of red, pink, orange, green and yellow.

The race will be held one day after the XTERRA USA Championship of off-road triathlon, creating the ultimate XTERRA racing weekend.

The championship race is again a half-marathon, and will start and finish at Snowbasin Resort - a world-class ski resort that hosted the downhill and super G races for the 2002 Winter Olympics, and most recently served as the final stop of the Winter Dew Tour.

All 2010-2011 XTERRA Trail Run Series regional champions, like the recently crowned Arizona Trail Run Series Champs, earn a comp entry into Nationals and runners from the 12 respective regions in the U.S. Series can now focus on Snowbasin in Sept. as one of their goals.

The championship race is open to the public and no qualification is necessary, so one and all can challenge the best-of-the-best trail runners and race for a national championship.

As the final event of the 70-race XTERRA U.S. Trail Run Series, the race will be filmed for a nationally syndicated XTERRA Adventures TV show.

The half-marathon championship race will be accompanied by 5km and 10km trail runs along the same run courses that the XTERRA Utah short and long course triathletes ran the day before. In addition to the races, XTERRA will host an expo in downtown Ogden with free kids races, vendor booths, a Paul Mitchell hair cut-a-thon for charity, and evening dinner parties.

"We are terribly excited to bring our entire XTERRA Tribe together in Utah this September, the energy level is going to be off-the-charts," said Janet Clark, president of TEAM Unlimited/XTERRA. "Ogden and Snowbasin are proven winners - between the facilities at Snowbasin, the great restaurants and atmosphere along Historic 25th Street in Ogden, and the unbelievably supportive community - we couldn't have asked for a better situation."

For more information visit www.xterraplanet.com or www.xterratrailrun.com, or call toll-free to 877-XTERRA-1 (877-983-7721).


2011 marks the fifth year XTERRA has hosted a trail running national championship race.  In the inaugural season of 2007 nationals was a 10km race at Incline Village, NV.  In 2008 XTERRA switched the championship distance to the 21km half-marathon, and moved to Bend, Oregon, who played host to the past three trail run national championship races from 2008-2010.

The XTERRA USA Championship weekend is sponsored by the Utah Sports Commission, Paul Mitchell, and XTERRAVitality.com. Sponsors include GU, Gatorade, Zorrel, Snowbasin Resort, GOAL Foundation, MediaOne of Utah, U.S. Forest Service, ENVE Composites, KSL TV, and the XTERRA Alliance - Wetsuits, Gear, Cycling, Fitness, Flex, and Footwear.