Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pacifica 50K -- 5:09

Sorry, dear reader, but the only photo I have from the day is the above one and it wasn't a pretty sight.

But, back to the beginning, I ran the Pacifica 50K (31 mile) trail race yesterday, an event put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs. My motivation was that I needed to do a long training run and the race organizers had offered me a free entry to this race for all the problems in last year's Woodside 50K. So, in theory, this would be a long slow run with the added bonus of lots of other runners around plus an aid station. In practice, I just knew I couldn't hold back. I tapered for a couple days, but otherwise didn't take a break in my training. I pretty much gave it my best effort.

As far as my race performance was concerned, I'm very happy with how I did, and I finished a difficult 31 miles in 5 hours and 9 minutes. I was 5th place overall, but I was the 1st-place masters (40 or older) runner, and so I'll get a medal in the mail for that. I'm not happy turning 40, but I'll take the prize. :-)

The race is all on trails of varying widths, starting and finishing in San Pedro Valley Park in Pacifica. The 50K consists of racing up to the top of Montara Mt., then back down, then doing two loops of the Valley View and Hazelnut trails, then back up to the peak, then back down, then doing a shorter loop, skipping the Valley View trail and doing the flatter easier main pathway to the back of the valley. The organizers say there is 6700' of climbing.

Elevation profile, courtesy of Pacific Coast Trail Runs

I ran most of the beginning of the race with my friend and fellow running club member, Gary. I knew or recognized a few other people, too. I tried to take it easy, and monitored my heart rate. I felt great but when my heart rate got higher than around 160 beats per minute (my max is 186 ), I walked fast on the very steep uphills. My friend Gary passed me but we stayed within sight of each other.

I recognized a very fit and very fast woman -- she had finished the Napa Valley Marathon mere seconds behind me and she's the woman in the background picture as I neared the finish line! Funny coincidence. She said her personal record for the marathon was 2:47 which is fantastic. Verity Breen is her name and she was doing the 21K race. We chatted for a bit on the uphill, but she was wearing road racing shoes and didn't have a good grip on the dirt, so I pulled ahead on the downhill off of Montara Mt.

I felt great as I reached the aid station for the first time, except I was noticing a feeling of chafing. So, let's talk about chafing....

For the last several months, I've noticed an increased tendency for me to develop chafing during longer runs. I don't know why this has started happening. I've always used Body Glide, since training for my first marathon in December of 2005. I've worn these same clothes for more than a few years now. I haven't noticed any changes in my skin. Jennifer thinks the detergent has changed recently. So, I came prepared, knowing that chafing might be an issue, and I packed my stick of Body Glide in my "drop bag". But wow, the chafing hit early and was intense. The day got warm in the late morning and I was sweating profusely. My nipples started to hurt. Even though I reapplied Body Glide around mile 7.5, I soon started seeing blood on my shirt. This may have happened in college, but I can't specifically remember ever getting bloody nipples before. My thighs started hurting, too. I started day-dreaming about running naked. I wanted to take my shirt off, but I was afraid of getting a bad sunburn if I was exposed for several hours without sunscreen in the middle of a bright day.

So, I kept going. I noticed blood mixing with my sweat and running down my legs. My thighs were on fire. But after a while, the pain disappeared. I forgot to reapply Body Glide around mile 17.5, but I did reapply it at mile 25 and got a couple band-aids from the aid station. (When I first asked for band-aids at mile 17.5 they didn't have any, but they got them ready for me when I arrived at the aid station later on.) The band-aids couldn't stick to my sweaty skin and were mostly useless.

Coming down from Montara Mt. the second time, my side began to ache with a cramp. I eventually realized that my heart rate monitor, that is strapped around my chest, was the cause so I removed it and held in my hand along with my water bottles, until I could get to the aid station again and put the heart rate monitor in my drop bag. The side cramp disappeared shortly after I took off the heart rate monitor.

The last 50 minutes or so started getting difficult, going up the seemingly endless switchbacks of the Hazelnut trail. I felt like I was on the edge, with borderline cramps. But I held it together and didn't slow down dramatically. I never felt desperate to finish although I was certainly ready to stop.

I finally crossed the finish line. Yay!

I took my shirt off, washed myself off, and assessed the damage. I had chafed skin in all kinds of places I've never had it before -- my hips, my sides, my abdomen, and even a couple spots on my privates. Yuck. What a mess. Otherwise, I felt pretty good and wasn't terribly sore or in bad shape.

Jennifer and her sister Laurie showed up and then my friend Gary finished. We all chatted for a bit and then I headed home, with my skin now quite sensitive.

So, I've got to get to the bottom of this mystery soon. I suspect that a new detergent has made the clothes rougher.

Weight in the morning: 168.6 lbs. This is an all-time high for a race, I think. I don't know why, but I've been especially hungry recently.

And here is my Garmin watch data.

Pillar Point Half Marathon -- 1:21:46 PR?

David Lara and myself, after the race

I had a solid race on this local half marathon, the Pillar Point Run to Benefit Coastside Child Development Center, starting off on the fast side but managing to hold it together. The first miles ticked by at what is for me an especially fast half marathon pace, about 6:06 per mile. I checked my watch when I passed the early mile markers and I was consistent. I chased my friend and fellow running club member, David Lara, the entire race. I put in a couple of strong surges, but he picked up the pace, too. I had plenty of endurance, and never felt desperate to finish like I have for many other races. Towards the end my legs started developing this "jello" feeling, but I held on.

He finished first place, and I was second.

So, was this a personal record? On the one hand, by my Garmin watch, I ran longer and at a faster pace than ever, averaging 6:06 for 13.38 miles. (A half marathon is 13.1 miles.) On the other hand, the official answer would be "no" and that I was a bit slower than in 2009. (I skipped it in 2010.) So, was the course long or was my watch not very accurate? I'm going to guess that the course was a bit long. The race organizers don't give a USATF certification #, for example, so I don't think it was rigorously measured, but I'm just guessing. For myself, I'm going to count this as a personal record!

My Garmin data is here.

Here are the results, in a spreadsheet file that apparently has the wrong file extension, but newer versions of Excel can open it with a warning.

I weighed 166.2 lbs the morning of the race. Kind of heavy.