Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Rodeo Valley 30K Race Recap

So it seems that this blog is becoming a race recap blog, and for now that's alright with me. I may try to recap my trip to the west coast with Crystal two weeks ago, but even as I type that I know I won't. Mike and I do have a trip to the Adirondacks coming up and I will blog about that (but that will essentially be a hike recap).

Back in January, Crystal messaged me saying she was going to California and she had just booked her plane tickets. I said to Mike, "should I go?" and an hour later after searching for the cheapest and most convenient flights (I took JetBlue there and Southwest back), my flights were booked too!

At Baker Beach, the area to the left of the Golden Gate bridge is where our race took place

It ended up just being a girls' trip and while we missed Mike and Joe, I was really thankful for this time with my best friend. Crystal and I have never lived in the same state (we met through Twitter), but when they lived on the Cape it was a lot easier to meet up for races and trips. Now that they live in Alaska, we have only seen them a few times over the last two years.

Crystal and I raced the Rodeo Valley 30K and it was a beautiful, but extremely difficult course! I think that it was the toughest trail race I have done so far, and that even includes my trail 50K and 50 miler.

The Thursday and Friday before the race we walked 9+ miles each day, so that may have had something to do with the difficulty of the race! It was also hot, and for me I was surprised at how hot I felt since we had been experiencing 90 degree temps before I left for the trip. I think the direct sunlight and extreme lack of shade had something to do with it.

Our friend, Charmaine, was there to cheer us on at the start and the finish (before we went off for a hiking adventure in Yosemite) and it was great to see her again!

The three of us at Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park

Crystal and I decided that we were going to run the entire race together while taking our time and taking photos. Since training hasn't been going well for me and running has felt rather difficult lately, I was glad that she wanted to take it easy. I did worry that I would hold her back, but we had a great time and really tried to enjoy ourselves (I think we both had a few moments of, "this sucks", but we got through it).

 Photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography

We were able to run the first two miles without waking and then the "upness" began. The course has over 3,500 feet of elevation gain over the 18+ miles and we felt it. Even though we weren't that high up elevation-wise, after the first two miles you kept going up, had a brief break, and then went back up. Over and over and over.

 Photo courtesy of Crystal

I was happy to get to the first aid station and then we kept going. We chatted with people and we talked with these two older women (who Crystal said would be us in the future) and we saw the Golden Gate Bridge.

I think the race directors were trying to tell us something

 Amazing views!

The views during the race were spectacular. It helped, most of the time, to take my mind off of what I was doing. Before getting to the second aid station, we re-applied sunscreen (which was a good idea since we both got a bit of color during the race).

 Can  you see the Golden Gate Bridge? Photo courtesy of Crystal

 The views were so varied

The smaller 6.7 mile loop that we had to do was the hardest part of the race. We played music, chatted with some people and hiked the hills. I really started to struggle before returning to the aid station, but Crystal did her best to pull me out of it.

Not at the point of the race, but similar feeling, "are we done yet?" Photo courtesy of Crystal

We spent a few minutes at the aid station before continuing on for the final 4+ miles. We had a few more hills to do (ugh) and one guy we passed who was struggling said this was the hardest 30K he had ever done (agreed).

Photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography

I could have looked at the views all day, photo courtesy of Crystal

Once we hit the final downhills, Crystal got ahead of me a bit (I am very conservative on downhills). Once she realized we were separated, she waited for me and we ran the rest of the way to the finish. Charmaine was there waiting for us and cheered us on to the finish.

We finished together after 4:09:46, a respectable time for how we ran the race in my opinion.

While it was challenging, I am really glad we decided to race the Rodeo Valley 30K and I would recommend it to anyone who is visiting the San Francisco area!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Seneca7 Relay Race Recap - Part 3

Did you miss Part 1 and Part 2? Check them out, here and here!

Well, where were we?  Right. I had just finished my second leg of the day with the horrible uphill climb and Greg took off like a rocket.

 Off he goes on a 6.1 mile run!

We got into the van and made our way to the next exchange point. Greg's leg was the longest leg of the entire race, so even though he is speedy, we had some time to get to Note Fragrances.

At this point, I was getting tired, but I knew that I only had one more leg to run. We kept catching more and more teams, which was exciting since we had been alone for awhile in the beginning. I was hoping that we wouldn't have to deal with too much congestion in Sampson State Park later on, though.

Laura waiting for Greg

 Another leg down

 Off she goes!

We were almost 2/3 of the way done with the race! And time-wise, the last legs of the race always go the fastest since most of them are pretty short.

Last runner's turn to run!

 It was a great day for running

Gustavo was out running, and that meant our first runner, Jenn, would be starting her final leg soon. I started to pay attention to my needs since it wouldn't be too long before my final leg.

Looking strong!

Another exchange with a kiss, this time everyone around said, "awww"

Now it was time for Mike to get ready to run. His final leg was his longest of the day at 4 miles along some "trails" through Sampson State Park. He got to go around a snowplow, over some boulders and he ran by a state penitentiary. I made sure to use the bathroom at the golf course because there weren't going to be anymore port-a-potties before my final leg. Luckily, I got through the line before Jenn came through to the exchange.

Happy to be done for the day!

Mike's turn to finish up his legs

We had some time to get to the next exchange point, but I knew it would take a little while since we had to drive through Sampson State Park. Our theme for the day was, "be aggressive", and when we got to the exchange point we kept driving until we were right at the exchange and found a place to park.

I got ready for my next leg and then went out to cheer on Mike and Prem. Mike did great and finished out the day with a 4 mile run at 7:30 pace!

Finishing strong

 Prem's turn!

Next up, we had to be even more aggressive. Thankfully, the congestion wasn't as bad but we drove all the way until we could see the exchange before parking. Last year we had a bit of an issue and Greg made it to the next exchange before the van did, and we didn't want that to happen again this year!

 It's the truth! Photo courtesy of Jenn

 Here we go, photo courtesy of Jenn

I went over to wait for Prem and psyched myself up to run 3.3 miles. After a few minutes of waiting, we saw him running down the road toward the exchange point. I took the slap bracelet and took off for my final run of the day!

Admittedly, I may have started off a bit too fast but it was flat. My run took me through the tail-end of Sampson State Park and then back out onto East Lake Road. I hoped that the van would get through in enough time for Greg to be at the exchange point waiting for me!

I ran out of Sampson State Park and there were some people spectating and they cheered me on. As I ran by, they told me they liked my purple socks (calf sleeves) and that they wished they had my muscles! That made me laugh and I kept running toward East Lake Road.

I was still hoping that our team had made it out of Sampson State Park and I wondered if I was going to see them at all while I was running. I passed a few more people and after a little while, the van went by me and my team cheered me on.

As I got closer to the exchange point, I was ready to be done. I knew it wouldn't be too long before I saw Greg doing his wind sprints and after a few more minutes, I could see the exchange point.

"Take this slap bracelet, I want to be done!" Photo courtesy of Jenn

I ran as fast as I could at that point, and I handed Greg the slap bracelet. My fifth Seneca7 was done (almost)! I ran the 3.3 miles at an 8:12 average pace.

We got in the van quickly, because Greg didn't have a very long leg. We continued to be aggressive at the next exchange point and parked right near the road at the exit of the winery. After a few minutes, we saw Greg running up the road (I stayed in the van).

 This guy is so speedy and averaged under 7:00 pace all day!

Our team took off again and went to the final exchange point. Gustavo wore a safety vest because he would be running after 7pm. Once we saw Laura, we cheered on Gustavo and then we took off toward the finish line and team reunification point.

Last runner out!

 Off he goes!

The finish was a little different this year due to construction on the lakefront, but we were able to find a parking spot really close to the team reunification area. We waited for Gustavo to come down the lakefront path and we were able to see a few teams finish the race. Finally, we saw him running toward us!

We all joined him and ran toward the finish line. After 10:09:42, we were done!

 Crazy finish line selfie, photo courtesy of Gustavo

FIT1Runners! Photo courtesy of Jenn

Our team came in 31st overall and 17th for mixed teams, not too bad! We had originally been given a 27 minute penalty because we deviated from our predicted team pace by more than 10% (we put 7:00 and ended up averaging 7:50 pace), but the race directors decided to only give penalties to teams that were more than 10% faster than their predicted pace. This year did seem a bit unusual with all of the penalties and disqualifications, regardless, we still had a great time!

I love this race and I can't wait for our 6th time running it next year!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Seneca7 Relay Race Recap - Part 2

Did you miss Part 1? Check it out, here!

After I handed Greg the slap bracelet, he took off on his almost 5 mile run. However, since Greg runs at sub-7 minute pace, we knew we had to hustle a little bit.

 Off he goes! Photo courtesy of Jenn

We got to the scenic overlook and had some time to take photos. Some of our friends were on a bike team (they had to ride around the lake instead of drive in a van) and they decided to "goose-bomb" us! (They were on a team for Goose Adventure Racing).

What a lovely group of people!


Soon we saw Greg come flying down the road and Laura got ready to run. I remembered running her leg a few years ago and I knew she was going to enjoy it.

Our team went to the next exchange point and took some more photos together. Gustavo was about to run his first-ever Seneca7 leg! We waited for Laura and then in the distance we saw her coming (you can see the exchange point for a long time during this leg)!

 Fun times! Photo courtesy of Gustavo

 Last runner out on his first leg!

At Glenora Winery we were able to use real bathrooms (the only time during the race) and it was nice to be able to wash my hands! We were almost 1/3 of the way done for the day, and as usual the race was flying by. Jenn was nervous about her next leg (most of the runners have a challenging second leg), but I told her to just enjoy the waterfall and not worry about the uphill too much.

When Gustavo came running down the hill, they exchanged the slap bracelet (with a kiss) and Jenn was off. There is no van support for the runner during this leg, so we took our time and made it to the next exchange point.

Off she goes!

At this time, I knew I didn't have too long until my next leg. I had stopped eating and started to reduce the amount of water I was drinking (because I didn't want to have to go to the bathroom right before my leg).

Mike's next leg was a "gently rolling" 2.7 mile run. When Jenn came running down the road, happy she was done with that leg, he took off. We made sure to get in the van quickly since we knew it wouldn't take him very long to run this leg.

Jenn is happy to be done!

 Sprinting away!

Right around this time, we started to catch the earlier waves. This was nice because it gave us some extra motivation to try to run as fast as we could. We got to Lakewood Vineyards and waited for Mike to come running around the corner.

When Mike came in (at a blazing 7:15 pace!), Prem took off on one of my favorite legs of the relay that I have run so far. It is an amazing downhill into Watkins Glen. Unfortunately for me this year, that meant that I had to run UP out of Watkins Glen.

 Crushing it!

Our entire team (except me) is in this photo
Photo courtesy of Jenn 

We got to Clute Park, and parked "aggressively" (close to the exchange point), and I went to the bathroom one final time. Our team noticed that some runners were having trouble following the course through the park and also weren't sure how to start the leg I would be running. There were no volunteers there either, which was odd, but we made it work (and luckily, we knew what we were doing).

Prem came running through the park, and then it was time for me to take off! My leg was a steep uphill out of Watkins Glen to Hector Falls. The leg was a 3.5 mile run and I tried to not think about the hill too much.

Prem running the correct way on the course, photo courtesy of Jenn

 Smiling, but secretly terrified of the hill I have to run, photo courtesy of Gustavo

Right before the steep incline, photo courtesy of Jenn

I was able to have the van drive by me before we went separate ways on the split in the road, and I saw the hill coming. I tried not to walk, but I had to a walk a little bit. I was able to pass some people on this leg and the route did flatten out for a few miles as I ran by Hector Falls (so pretty). Another team's van drove by me, and cheered for me, but all I could think was, "you are going the wrong way" (vans weren't supposed to follow the runners on this leg).

My pace wasn't too bad for the middle miles of this leg and I just focused on the runners I saw ahead of me. I was able to pass three people on this leg (and almost caught a 4th runner).

Eventually the route started to go uphill again and I tried not to walk, but I had to walk one final time. I told myself to only walk to a mailbox, and then I ran. Eventually I rounded a corner and I could see the exchange point. Even though I was running uphill, I just told myself to keep running to Greg.

 Happy to hand over the slap bracelet!

I heard my team cheering for me and handed the slap bracelet to Greg, and he took off on the longest leg of the day.

I finished this leg in 32:22 at 9:15 pace, not bad considering the 300 feet of elevation gain!

Our team was on our way to being 2/3 done with the race!