Friday, February 22, 2013

Welcome back to Team inov-8!

(Running with camera, of course!)
I'm excited to be returning to Team inov-8 for 2013! This great brand has really stepped up their team this year, building an international roster that covers ultras, short course trail running, CrossFit, obstacle running, orienteering, triathlons, and even some road runners. Such an eclectic mix!

I am particularly excited they are "putting the band back together" by bringing back some of the old gang, while also pulling in some new talent. The line up includes stellar runners such as Way Too Cool champion Gary Gellin, ultra animal Yassine Diboun, world stage competitor Ben Nephew, Gold medal mountain runner Amber Reece-Young, Colorado alpinist Joe Grant, 100-mile speedster Josh Katzman, Indulgence film director and trail nut Alex Nichols, current trail marathon national champion Cody Moat, Pacific Northwest speedster Maria Dalzot, the unstoppable DoubleJ Jim Johnson, Masters superstar Mark Lundblad, BGID (Beard Getting It Done) Peter Maksimow, many more athletes I hope to meet soon, and a deep roster of international stars.

I'm not sure if the new "#committed" campaign means "committed to win" or "needs to be committed to an institution". Given this team, either would apply. But I'm thrilled to be a part of these crazy band of warriors either way!

Also happy to be running for Team Inside Trail Racing (awesome California trail races), Team Injinji (socks that save your toes), and a proud ambassador of Vespa (optimize your fat burning), First Endurance (supplements), S!Caps (by far the best electrolytes on the market), and ZombieRunner (store with the ultrarunning goodies). With all this help, I am seriously out of excuses. Time to get 'er done.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Alberto Salazar Story - Now In 8-bit Video! (plus Millrose Games, Lance/Oprah)

Digital artist Nick Criscuolo has created an 8-bit video (think "old Nintendo") mini-biopic of running and coaching legend Alberto Salazar. Great stuff, and I love the retro-digital-throw-back media.

Also, a quick note to set your DVR's for the Millrose Games, live on ESPN3 tomorrow @ 7pm EST, and again on ESPN on Sunday @ 8pm EST. The Millrose Games has a long history of record-setting at the wicked fast Armory indoor track, and all the stars will be there.

Lastly, for those still hanging onto the Lance Armstrong/Oprah/confession meme, comedian Bill Burr has a nice summary:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Who Wants a Gorgeous USATF Trophy for Free? The Phidippides Award Could Be Yours...

Calling all shwag hags! The Phidippides Award, presented by USA Track and Field (USATF) and National Masters News, is a gorgeous plaque given to Masters athletes who rack up lots of races in a single year. It's also, conveniently, free! If you're a USATF member, that is. But my guess is that most of the people reading this have been qualifying for years and probably didn't know this was available. Maybe another award is the last thing you need hogging up your "Me Wall", but for those who don't mind a little more bling-bling, this one ain't bad.
As you look at your calendar for 2013, be sure to download the Phidippides Award application and fill in your races as you go. The points system is straight-forward, age-adjusted, and accommodates races from the 5k on up. Here's a quick glimpse of the scoring system:

5 km - 5 mile 1 point
10 km - 15 km 2 points
10 mile - 1/2 Marathon 3 points
25 km - Marathon 4 points

At the end of the year the following point totals will determine the level of award the runner is eligible to receive.

                        40-59 yrs. 60-79 yrs. 80+ yrs.

Gold Award    20 points 16 points 8 points
Silver Award   16 points 12 points 4 points
Bronze Award 12 points 8 points 2 points

Last year, about 340 runners picked up a Gold Award. Be sure to add your name to the list for 2013!

- SD

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Planning My 2013 Race Season

I finally had time to finish up one my favorite annual rituals - planning the race season on the new calendar for 2013 (see '06, '07, '08, '10, '11, '12). A cup of coffee, a lazy Sunday on the couch, and a list of 500+ races that need to fit into ~40 weekends. Well, maybe not all of them. But we can try! ;-)

For a few moments I like to peruse the list in its entirety and imagine the number of new friends, great pictures, and blog-worthy stories that await us in the miles to come. So much adventure! We choose to live IN this world instead of ON it, my friends, and that's what makes the ride worthwhile.  Adventure is just a few entry fees away!

So, how to start? Reflecting on my 2012 season, it was the variety and unexpectedness that kept the trail running fresh and inspiring. A few of those experiences affected me deeply, more so than I would have guessed, and reminiscing about them continues to make me smile and swoon as if I had just crossed the finish line. I love how memories like these become an embered hearth deep in my soul, warming my everyday smiles for friends, family, and co-workers. Best to double down on any race that can bring that kind of magic! It's also nice to have some races on the calendar where you expect to go fast, and others where you can just relax, be present, and take it all in. If it's all about racing and PR's, my assholism starts to spike, and then I have to attend those god-awful AA meetings ("Hello, I'm Scott, and I'm an asshole"..."Hi, Scott!").

I am longing to get back to the steep alpine back country of Europe and share more experiences with mountain people of other cultures. This time, however, I would like to actually SEE the mountains instead of slogging through a night of mud and rain (a la UTMB) so perhaps a shorter distance and different time of year. There are still a solid 10 races on my bucket list (it never seems to get shorter!), so I would like to try and knock a few of those off too. Plus I find the more time I book for recovery, the better my season goes as a Masters athlete, and if I switch up the schedule with running, cycling, trails, and roads, the training never seems tedious.

So with that, I give you my 2013 season:

Crystal Springs Trail Marathon, Woodside, CA, 1/5 - Pure fun right in my backyard. A good way to kick off 2013!

Fort Ord 50k, Monterey, CA, 2/8 - When I see a brand new race pop up on the calendar, I'm always excited to check it out. Inside Trail Racing added the Fort Ord 50k, the first ultra in the expanse of trails just behind the Laguna Seca race track, and promised to deliver hills, sand, and gorgeous views. And it indeed delivered!

Nueces 50m, Rocksprings, TX, 3/2 - The USATF 50-mile trail championship is at Nueces this year, deep in the Texas hill country. I have heard a lot of great things about the Tejas Trail races, and I haven't quite dialed the 50-mile distance, so what better than to target an "A" 50-mile race early in the season that can do both. Fort Ord 50k can be my test "B" race on the way.

Boston Marathon, 4/15 - At my first Boston, I made a promise to myself to try and streak it 10 times. Why? I have no idea. I'm pretty sure beer was involved. But this historic race, flooded with eager first time runners who have earned their slots, never seems to get old for me. This will be #9!

Big Sur Marathon, Carmel, CA, 4/28 - I can't seem to go more than 2 years without longing to run this gorgeous stretch of Hwy 1. The coastal town of Carmel is super kid- (and dog-) friendly, so we'll take the family down to celebrate my 44th birthday. I am signed up for the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge (fastest combined time of the two marathons), but likely will be cruising for fun. If I feel good, I'll throw in the Presidio 10-mile in between to keep the tempo up.

Miwok 100k, San Francisco, CA, 5/4 - The Lottery Gods granted me one race this year, and it's one of my favorites! The course is amazing, the race is always polished, and everyone seems to be in good shape as they prepare for the big races of summer. Every race I've had at Miwok has been crazy epic with all kinds of weather extremes.  Let's do it again!

San Francisco Marathon, 6/16 - My broken toe forced me to bow out last year, so I'm (hopefully) back to redeem in 2013. A fun race all around, and one that I feel us locals should frequent if anything just to remind us how lucky we are.

Mont Blanc Trail Marathon, Chamonix, France, 6/30 - Back to Chamonix! Man, I love this place. This time I'm going to tackle a fast and steep race, the Mont Blanc Marathon. It will also be one of three races I will be doing in the Skyrunning World Series, so I hope to get some points on the board. I also just love to tell people I'm on the "European circuit" this year. It sounds so bad ass!

Death Ride, Markleeville, CA, 7/13 - Each year I take at least one century ride with my regular group of dudes, and this year it's back to the 5 peaks/16,000' feet of climbing in the Death Ride. This race continues to have the best shwag around, plus it's a good excuse to pick up the bike training for what is coming in September.

Pikes Peak Marathon, CO, 8/18 - This one is on the bucket list, plus it turns out to be a Skyrunning Series race, the USATF Trail Marathon championship, and one that fellow teammate Gary Gellin is going to crush this year. I have a nice block of time prior to this date for race-specific training (like scaling cliffs while breathing through a straw), so I'm hoping to give it a solid effort. We'll see what running at 14,000' feels like!

Matterhorn Ultraks, Zermatt, Switzerland, 8/24 - I'll head from Pikes Peak right to Zermatt for a Skyrunning trail marathon double-header. How crazy will that be? Crazy AWESOME, that is. When I asked trail runners in Chamonix where else to go for a unique mountain experience, Zermatt was most often the first race off their lips.  I've got the frequent flyer miles, so let's do it.

Ironman Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City, CA, 9/22 - After a bit of rest and transition, I'll be slowing it down for the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe. This one made my bucket list the second it was announced. A 2.4 mile swim at altitude, a 2x hill climb to 7,400 feet on the bike, and a marathon down the scenic Truckee River that ends at Squaw Valley for a party? Insanity! Gotta be a part of that.

Bootlegger 50k, Henderson, NV, 11/9 - One last fast race to cap off the year, the Bootlegger 50k is the USATF 50K trail national championship and is set in the red hills of Nevada. I suspect this one will draw a great field (particularly given that the Race Director is Team Adidas Coach Ian Torrence), and there's always Vega$ for post-race celebrations. It rounds out my USATF national championship races to the 26m/50k/50m "middle distances", which sounds fun. DO IT.

As always, I will fit in other races/rides where the calendar permits, and will play it by ear as nature and my body allows. But this calendar is a full dance card, for sure. No 100-milers this year...after the Lottery Gods had ushered their will, there weren't any left that fit the social schedule, so we shall have to leave the hundy for another year. It can't stop me from volunteering!

I hope to see y'all out there. Let me know where you're going to be so we can get some pics!

- SD

Monday, February 04, 2013

Blasting Through the 2013 Fort Ord 50k

Last Saturday, I had the great pleasure of joining 230+ runners for the inaugural Fort Ord 50k in Monterey, CA, put on by the fabulous folks at Inside Trail Racing (ITR). Long known by mountain bikers and hikers for sandy single track and Sea Otter Classic fun, this Army-base-turned-recreation-area made for a perfect location for a hilly afternoon romp. Thanks to great volunteers, nice running weather, and a flawlessly marked course, we had a great time!

(Beach, mountains, single track...what's not to love? Photo courtesy of Donald B)
The fog hung thick in the sky as we made our way around the Laguna Seca race track (not actually on the track, that is), forecasting a nice cool day for running. Everyone was excited to try the new venue, and we were thrilled to have some locals from Salinas, Carmel, Pacific Grove, and Monterey join in on the fun. I somehow snagged the pole position parking (a good omen!), so I had plenty of time to gear up and get ready. This was a test "b" race for me to see how well I was doing with my training for the Nueces 50-miler in early March, so no goofing off allowed. Well, no more than normal, anyway.

(Pole position! I can crawl my way here later)
(Ken Michal gets us collected at the starting line, still donning the Hawaiian shirt from his HURT 100 finish)

(Look everyone, I'm ahead of Leor Pantilat! At least until the race actually starts)
(Go Kart racing was going on at Laguna Seca down the hill)
We had 10k, 25k, and 50k options today, and the 50k had a reasonable 2600' of climbing with most of it on the back half. Leor Pantilat was here, as were a number of 4-hour capable runners likely running for second place now, so it would be a fast race for sure! Those looking to just have some fun were also welcome, and didn't need to look any farther than Ken's Hawaiian shirt, Race Director Tim Stahler's crazy cool Tom Selleck mustache, or the ever-present smiles of Danni, Lauri, and the great ITR volunteers. At 8:30am sharp, we were off!

(Tim's moustache and Ken's shirt = channeling Tom Selleck!)
(Brian Rowlett from Carmel, JR Mintz, and Alexis Smith are ready to roll!)
(Why does he keep holding up his camera?)
(And we're off!)
We had a few miles of downhill dirt road to settle into a rhythm and allow the 25k and 50k runners to sort themselves out. I caught up with Jason Wolf (25k), who was making good progress coming back from a late season injury, and Rudy Montoya (50k) who was getting a solid 50k in before tackling the San Bruno 50-miler in a few weeks. Gary Saxton (50k) joined us too, sharing his excitement for his upcoming trip to China, and we all leaned into the downhill the best we could and disappeared into the fog.

(A view of Jason Wolf I am used to...the back of his head!)
(Michael Jiminez leans into the downhill)
We hit the first aid station (mile 3), and the volunteers were amazing at getting us all filled up quickly. I had two water bottles filled with Vitargo goodness, and dropped one here knowing we would be back in six miles. Rudy found another Fresno runner, Domenic Andreotti, and the three of us paced behind local Judd Haaland as he took us through the twisty single track and short, steep climbs. The trails were super soft, alternating between sand and lightly dusted sandstone. Super fun!

(Carmel's Giles Healey gets a refill, photo courtesy of ITR)
(Volunteers rule!)
(I pace with Rudy, with my secret hand-that-fell-asleep technique)
The trails were a perfect clash of the nearby beach and oak-studded mountains, alternating between dune-like deep sand and gravel-covered sandstone . The fog and "witch's beard" moss hanging from the 50-year-old oaks gave it an other-worldly quality, and kept us all looking around to spot new flora and fauna like a 3rd grade science class. What a great area!

(Witch's beard 6-year-old daughter taught me about it!)
(Rudy moves fast down some single track)
(Sneaking through the trees)
The fog was as settled as a Superbowl party couch as we returned to the Pilicartos aid station (mile 9), making it tough to figure out who was ahead of us or behind us. We were all thanking the volunteers for the amazing course markings. If it wasn't for all the ribbons, we would be stumbling onto the track or highway for sure!

(Domenic celebrates topping another hill)
(Carol Lane tackles a sandy descent...)
(...and then climbs! Photos courtesy of Allen Lucas)
The sun slowly pulled back the reluctant fog, unveiling a treasure trove of hills and trails full of hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians and nature photographers. It was great to see so many people out and about! We had a brief stop at the Skyline aid station (mile 11) before Rudy kicked it up a gear and was soon out of reach.  I was doing my best to stay at the high end of my aerobic range, only allowing to speed up after the halfway point. For the next few miles I ran solo, wondering at each intersection if I was going in circles. These trails are sneaky!

(Downhill rules!)
We hit the Creekside aid station (mile 17), and I put my headphones on for some Soundgarden-powered energy while the volunteers filled me up again. My energy was good as I felt the Vespa kick in, so I dropped it into a faster gear as we got out of the scrub brush and hit a series of grass-covered hills that would take us to the finish. I passed a few folks, catching Rudy as well, pointing to my headphones as the culprit for the newfound speed. Everyone was still moving pretty fast, so no time to dawdle!

(Equestrians were nice enough to pull aside)
(LOVE these long trails! Hey, maybe I can catch that guy!)
(Carol Lane knocks down a mountain, photo courtesy of Allen Lucas)
(Rock and roll! Photo courtesy of Allen Lucas)
For a few miles, the hills belonged only to my feet as I couldn't see anyone in front or behind me. Gosh, the last time I felt this I was lost...uh, oh. But soon enough, I spotted another ribbon and sighed in relief. As we got close to the Toro aid station (mile 23), I spotted another runner in front of me and picked up the pace to catch him. It was Rob Houghton, the 53-year-old who just placed 3rd at the Kettle Moraine 100-miler last year (sub-20 on his first 100!). Rob was eagerly training for Western States this year, and welcomed the company. We cruised along together for a few miles, with him setting the pace on the downhills, much in thanks to his regular running of logging trails near his home, and me cranking the uphills thanks to my driveway. Man, I sure hope I've got his chops when I'm 53!

(Domenic manages a wardrobe malfunction in the final stretch)
(Catra Corbett climbs with ease on her way to a 5:42 it just me, or she a lot faster this year?)
(Gary Saxton cruises along clenching a bullet casing that he found on the trail)
(The smiles of Aron Eichhorn, Jessica Willamsen, and Joanna Reuland light up the trail, photo courtesy of ITR)
Rob guessed we were in 3rd and 4th place, but I had lost count in the 25k/50k start. My uphill pace had Rob red-lining a bit in the last few miles, and I put a 30-second gap between us on a big climb. I could hear the roar of Go Karts at Laguna Seca (these ones go 100+ mph!), but knew we had a few miles left. At mile 30, I could hear the Go Karts once more and went anaerobic to sprint to the finish.
(Rob Houghton making it look easy)
(Leor sighting! Photo courtesy of Allen Lucas)
The cheers at the finish were awesome as I crossed in 4:09, good enough for 3rd place. Leor had won in an astounding CR of 3:32, with Carmel's Giles Healey finishing 2nd just a few minutes ahead of me (Giles attributed his speed and Masters win to a heavy regiment of surfing, cycling, and running that Carmel has in spades). Jennifer Goldstein, a recent Bay Area transplant from Chicago, celebrated her 31st birthday by winning the Women's division in 4:25, with Alexis Smith taking second in 4:56 (all results). Everyone said the course was challenging and fun, and only a few wrong turns here and there. Not bad!

(Who-hooo, the finish!)
(Michael Jiminez brings it home for 5th in 4:18)
I felt solid the whole race, and was still smiling at the end. That must mean the funemployment-powered training is going well! But as I met new runners and chowed on apple pie, soup, and beer, I couldn't think of training and could only ponder how gorgeous this slice of nature turned out to be. I was really blown away! It is an honor and privilege to be able to race with such fine people and add a little adventure to our lives.
(Winners Jennifer and Leor pose with RD Tim Stahler)
(Super photographer Allen Lucas and I duel at high noon!)
(Allen! They are cheering your name!! Get going!!!)
My thanks to ITR and their wonderful volunteers for the great race, the awesome shwag (tech shirt with great design, pint glass), and a great day! I will put that pint glass to work at the Super Bowl tomorrow, for sure.

- SD