Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Xterra Black Mountain Trail Race Recap

Hello to everyone. It has been a couple of days since the race and I am surprisingly not as sore as I usually am after a tough race. Don't get me wrong, my legs definitely feel like they ran a race recently, but I am able to walk around without looking like I have wooden legs. The race weekend threw several wrenches into my race plan but I was able to persevere and was able to have a great race.

Before the Race:

The race start is 8:00 am on Sunday morning with race bib pick up starting at 7:00 am. To ensure I would get enough sleep, minimize driving on Sunday, and make sure I have plenty of time to get to the race start, the family and I drove down on Saturday evening and stayed in a hotel. We woke up around 6:30 am and because of my race jitters didn't sleep all that well but felt like I had gotten an adequate amount of rest. With the early wake up and because we weren't used to sharing one bathroom we were slow getting ready and out the door to check out the free hotel breakfast. I know that one of the most important runner's rules/codes is to not try or do anything different on race day, but I can't pass up free food. By this time it was 7:20 am, so I ate quickly and rushed the family through their breakfast. We got on the road and on our way to the race start by 7:30 am. Being so far behind schedule I was getting worried that I was cutting it too close and may miss the race. By 7:45 we arrived to the first parking area but we were greeted by a "Event Parking Full" sign. We drove a little further towards the overflow parking and again "Event Parking Full" sign. Now I am really worried and have already started thinking about whether or not I'm going to end up with a DNS (did not start). We drove a little further down the rode and saw the shuttle bus leaving the last parking area. Knowing that I did not have time to wait for the next shuttle I convinced my wife to drop me off at the race area and for her and the kids to find parking. So now it was 7:58 am, I got out of the car and decided I wasn't going to grab my new handheld water bottle or energy gels from the trunk of the car and started jogging towards the bib pickup. My Brother was kind enough to wait for me and came over to me as I was pinning my bib on and attaching my timing chip on my shoe as quick as I could. We jogged past the bag drop off area and I tossed my race shirt in and we headed towards the race start. The race had already started and everyone was already gone as we crossed the start mat at 8:03 am.

During the Race:

Miles 0-3: I ran along with my Brother for the first couple of miles and we caught up to the slower racers sooner than I expected. These first three miles were all down hill and I was able to quickly forget about all the stress of the prerace craziness. I got into a groove and was running at a good pace. Because I didn't bring my water bottle or race fuel I had to rethink my race plan. I decided that I would just kind of "wing-it" and go by feel at the aid-stations.

Miles 3-6: This part of the course levels out but has some good steep rolling hills. I was able to run up most of the hills but a few I power walked. All of the downhill parts I really tried to open my pace up.  I was passing several runners at a time and ended up losing my Brother.

Miles 6-8: By this time I think I caught up to the runners that were more my pace because I wasn't passing very many anymore. The course was still rolling hills and I was still keeping a good pace and going strong.

Miles 8-9+ (finish): This was the part of the course that I was worried about. It is a very long and steep climb up to the finish. I just was hoping that I saved enough energy to not be defeated by this incline. I dug deep and was able to run and power walk up the whole way. I just kept reminding myself that I am almost to the finish and that the pain will soon be over. My legs were burning but I was able to pass a few more runners and run through the finish.

Official Time: 1:29:50
Overall Place: 129 out of 326
Age Group place: 21 out of 36

Last couple victims that were passed by Captain Speedypants!

Bulging leg muscles.

I reached my "A" min/mile pace goal and came close to my "B" age group goal.

Finish with a 9:30 min/mile pace or better. - Success at 9:28 min/mile pace.

Finish in top half of my Age Group. - I was 2 minutes off. :(

Post Race:

This race had the most vendors after the race than any of the previous Xterra races I have been to. There were several companies giving out their products for free and there was amazing free food for the racers. I ended up walking a couple of laps around the tents hydrating and replenishing my calories with all the goodies.

After the race it was nice to head back to the hotel to take a shower and hit up the IHOP that was across the street for lunch. Afterwards, the family and I went to Pacific Beach where I soaked my muscles in the cold ocean water. I believe the cold water might be the reason why I am recovering from the race faster than usual. 

Post Race IHOP 

Please excuse my pastiness. I hope I didn't blind any of you readers.


Overall I really enjoyed this race and the course. The previous Xterra races were in locations that had recent fires and so the courses were burned and very dusty. The Black Mountain course was very green and pleasant. The weather couldn't have been any more perfect with cloud cover all day and temps in the 50's. My race went excellent and I am very happy with the end result. I was able to run at a very good pace and even though some hills I had to stop and power walk up, I didn't ever get to the point of death marching up the hills. I can see a definite progress and improvement in my abilities. It is always nice to see positive results in all the training that I have suffered through. Even though my race plans went all awry I still was able to adapt and overcome.

Next up is the local Apple Valley Bunny Run this Saturday which will help get me ready for the OC Half Marathon on May 4th.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Xterra Black Mountain Race This Weekend

As always, I am very excited for races. That is probably why I plan and sign up for so many. It really keeps me motivated to keep training hard. This Sunday is the Xterra Black Mountain Trail Run 16K (10 mile) race in San Diego. This will be my first time running this race. The last couple of years I have ran in the Xterra Lake Las Vegas Trail run that is usually on the same weekend. But because the race in Las Vegas switched the trail run to a Saturday and the triathlon to the Sunday I would not be able to make it. There will be plenty of other reasons to go to Las Vegas another time. The Black Mountain race was not my first choice, but I have no doubts that a weekend in San Diego will be equally as awesome.

 This race is described as the fastest Xterra race in the SoCal series. This is mostly because it doesn't have the crazy amount of incline as the others but it still is going to be very hard. Especially the last 3 miles, where it is a very long grueling climb up to the finish. With that in mind I have trained for both speed and running uphill on exhausted legs. So hopefully I have done enough to prepare for this race.

My "A" Goals

Finish with a 9:30 min/mile pace or better.
Finish in top third of my Age Group.

My "B" Goals

Finish with a 10:30 min/mile pace or better.
Finish in top half of my Age Group.

The reason I am using pace as a goal is because I don't know the exact course distance. Some parts of the website show it as 15k course and other parts 16k. So instead of being bummed out that I didn't make a certain time, I figured I will go by pace. I also have a couple of unofficial goals that I will share after the race in my recap.

What is the farthest you have traveled to participate in a race?
This will be my farthest to date at 2.5 hrs/160 miles away.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March Recap

The month of March flew by real fast for me. Overall I believe I had a good month of running and training. I have started incorporating a little more strength training and put some more time in on the stationary bike. I even started off the month with the Quest of Quests which was a 24 mile hike. Here are the numbers for March.

March Stats (running only)

Total Miles - 58.4
Longest Run - 9.08
Total Time - 10:28:53 (hrs:mins:secs)
Elevation Gain - 5,014 ft

January Stats
February Stats

March Races

March 16 - Sheriff's 10k Trail Run (recap)

Sheriff's 10k

March Things of Note

I did a 24 mile Quest of Quests hike earlier in the month. I also gave up looking for my bicycle air pump so I went ahead and bought a new one. So my mountain bike is ready now and I can't wait to get some rides in. My Son's little league games and practices have started. Woo-hoo!  I love baseball and I always look forward to this time of year.
Quest of Quests
Go Yankees!


March saw my overall running mileage drop a little. This was mostly because I took some recovery time off after the 24 mile hike and the 10k race. The last week of the month was also bad week of training. Even though my total mileage was down, I believe the quality of the miles increased. This is because my long runs have been getting longer and my total elevation gain has increased. 


I have signed up for one race in April. The Xterra Black Mountain Trail Run 16k on the 13th. I also have a local Bunny Run 10k that I would like to go to but will be a game day decision. If the weather cooperates I will take my mountain bike out for a couple of rides during the weekends, which I am totally looking forward to. Other than that it should be a good month of racing and training.

Tell me about your favorite thing that happened in March.

Friday, March 28, 2014

A Bad Week

Hello everyone. This week's training has not gone very well.  On Saturday I went for a planned easy 8 miles but my garmin watch froze after a couple of miles. So I ended up running randomly in the desert and I have no clue how far or how long I ended up going. Monday I ran a loop with several hills for a total of 4.5 miles in gusty wind. That run was no fun and was not my favorite. The rest of the week I haven't ran or worked out due to a combination of having a 24 hour plague and having self evaluations due at work. I actually can't tell you which one I enjoyed less. Needless to say, I am glad to put this week behind me and am looking forward to next week.

I have some news to share. I have signed up for my next couple of races. The first being the Xterra Black Mountain 16k Trail Run on April 13th. This race is supposed to be one of the easier Xterra races in the SoCal series. This is because it doesn't have the amount of incline as the other races but that also means it is going to be faster. I don't have much time left to really work on my speed, especially after not doing any training this week, so I am not sure how I will do. The race is in San Diego though and is sure to be a fun weekend nonetheless.

The second race I signed up for is the OC Half Marathon on May 4th. This will be my second half marathon but my first road half marathon. So I am excited to see how I do. Another fun fact is with the over 23,000 expected runners between the 5k, half marathon, and full marathon events at the OC race, it will be the largest race I have participated in. I probably should practice flailing my elbows around during my runs to ensure I have some running room during the race.

The OC

Thousands of claustrophobic runners

Tell me what your weekend plans are. Mine are nap, run, repeat.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Downhill Running

I really enjoy running on trails and because of this I have multiple trail races planned for this year. I have found that running on trails and trying to run them fast requires some unique training. One running skill that I have been avoiding until just fairly recently is running downhill. Running uphill seems to come easy for me, I have to thank the fact that I used to run while 100lbs heavier for that. Actually, losing weight has helped every aspect of my running except for the downhills. Since downhill running is my weakness and I have gotten tired of other runners flying past me on the downhill portions of races, I decided to do a little research.

A few tips that I found useful with Coach Google:

1. Don't lean back or over-stride.
2. Quicken your cadence and land mid-foot.
3. Keep your shoulders and arms relaxed.
4. Look down the hill and not at your feet.

I practiced these tips a few times in my training for the Sheriff's 10K trail race last weekend. I found that practicing the downhill technique was helpful but I believe that the biggest benefit was the increased confidence it gave me. Every trail race I have ran, I have witnessed several runners fall during the downhill portions. While falling down the mountain is a way to get down it, I remained very conservative with the downhills in hopes that I would stay on my feet. But now that I have added a little downhill training I have more confidence in my ability to stay off of my butt.

Downhill running does do a lot of muscle damage. This is because running downhill is an eccentric contraction. Meaning the muscle elongates while under tension. So it is recommended that you allow your muscles adequate time to recover.

Here are some pictures that I found from a study showing the damage caused from downhill running.

Muscle before downhill running. No Damage.
Muscle immediately after. Damage is present.

Muscle one day later. Damage is still occurring.
Muscle 14 days later. Back to normal. 

I, of course, am not an expert on running. I just did some research for myself and am sharing the information I have found. I will end this post with a list of some of the more useful links that I found below.

Perfect Your Downhill Running Form - Competitor.com

Downhill Running LIVE from Miwok - ultraufitness.com
This link has video from Miwok of one of the fastest downhill runners, Ian Sharman.

Don't Let Downhills Be Your Downfall - irunfar.com
This link also has strengthening exercises to help your downhill running.

Is anyone else also afraid of running fast downhill like me?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

2014 Sheriff's 10K Trail Run Recap

Last weekend I ran in the Sheriff's 10k Trail Run in San Bernardino, Ca. I had some big goals for this fun local event (read them here). I wasn't able to reach all of my goals but I still am very happy with how it turned out. Here is how the race went for me.

The race start was at 8 am which gave me and my wonderful family plenty of time to drive the hour to the race. We arrived before 7:30 and was able to pickup my race bib and use the restroom all before the Color Guard presented the colors and the singing of the national anthem. The race director then had a few announcements and described the course change. The race start and finish area had moved so the course turnaround would not be on top of the ridge but on the other side of it.

The strategy I had for this race was fairly simple. I wanted to average about a 10 min/mile pace until the turn around which would put me at about the 32 minute mark. Then I would increase my effort on the second half and then the last two miles where I know its all downhill I would use everything I had left. Hopefully finishing the second half in under 28 minutes so my time would end up being under 1 hour.

Miles 1-2: The entire first couple miles are at an incline. I ran at a comfortable pace and had to remind myself that all the runners passing me would be hurting later in the race. I was able to run most of the inclines but I did have to power walk up some of them.

Miles 2-3.1: The course runs along the top of the ridge and then drops down on the other side. I was able to maintain my good pace and continue running most of the inclines. This is where I was able to pass a lot of runners. Coming up to the turnaround I counted 16 runners in front of me. I reached the turnaround a couple minutes slower then I wanted at 35 minutes.

Miles 3.1-4: After the turnaround at 3.1 we had to climb back up the ridge. Now my concentration was on trying to catch the runners in front of me. I was able to pass one runner and I was getting closer to another.

Miles 4-6.2: This is the last two miles and it is all downhill. I picked up my pace quite a bit but I was still somehow passed by a little old man. I told him "great job" as he sped past me because I knew he had me beat. I was able to keep a fast (for me) pace of 7:50 min/mile for the last mile and sprint the last .2 mile at a 7:20 min/mile pace.

Finish Time: 1:05:33
Overall Place: 17 of 177
Age Group: 5 of 26


My "A" Goals

Finish under 1 hour. I did not succeed with getting under an hour but the course was harder than last year. So I am OK with not reaching this goal.

Podium for my age group. I was a distant 6 minutes off of third place. I am in a tough age group so I still have some aging work to do to be competitive.

My "B" Goals

Beat my last year time. I did succeed in beating my time from last year even with a tougher course, so I am very happy with this victory.

Beat my Brother. I did beat him. I don't think he brought his A game though so I don't feel this was a full victory.


Overall I was very happy with my time and how well the race went for me. First half of the race was 35 minutes and second half was 30 minutes. Which means I had a negative split of 5 minutes. Woo-hoo!

I liked the course change, somehow the race director was able to make a hard course even more tougher. The Color Guard and national anthem was a great touch for a small event. The volunteers were great and there were several aid stations along the course.

My Unofficial "C" Goal

Be more photogenic. Big fail.

At least I was smiling but I think I need a new shirt.  Source

Any tips on being more photogenic? I obviously need some help.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ready to Race

I am really excited for my race this weekend. I am participating in the Sheriff's 10k Trail Run on Sunday. The course has steep rolling inclines and declines and is a real challenge. Last year I surprised myself with a 4th place age group finish even though I was still new to the 10k distance. This year I feel like I am in much better shape because of my 20x20x20 routine, and some MASH up workouts (DVD I won from this great blogger) that I have been doing a couple times a week. My running has also been going really well. All of this is giving me a lot of confidence and so I have set some ambitious goals for this race.

Last years stats:

Finish time 1:08:01
Overall place 27 out of 139
Age group 4 out of 16

My "A" Goals

Finish under 1 hour.
Podium for my age group.

My "B" Goals

Beat my last year time.
Finish before my Brother.


Yikes, that is a bad photo. What is wrong with me? I think my third goal will have to be, "be more photogenic" 

I have a race strategy in place and have done my training. Now I just have to wait till race day.

Wish me luck :)