Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Season Review...aka...

...Eliot pretends to be a runner.

Executive summary: I ran a bunch this year. Longer version follows.

Well, getting hit by a car last year put a damper on any pursuit of triathlon, and running turned out to be the most achievable discipline to get back into, so I signed up for the Boston Marathon this year and structured my season around it. I wrote about that wild day shortly afterwards, but I haven't taken the time to write about any of the other races I did. I dunno; it seems easier to write about triathlons individually than running races, as the race report from a 5k would be along the lines of "Hurt lots for about 17 minutes. Didn't win." As such, I've lumped them together into a montage of sorts. In hindsight, it was a fairly eventful season from a variety of perspectives.

February 17 - You Gotta Be Crazy 10k - Verdi, NV

Time to get back into the race swing of things after a 9-month hiatus...ugh. It's called You Gotta Be Crazy because we used to have this thing called winter and this race was in the middle of it. Now it usually falls on a nice sunny day. It's a hard course with some significant-enough climbs on each lap and a big false flat, so it's not necessarily fast.

The race features a 5k and a 10k that start at the same time. One of our fastest local runners, I incorrectly assumed, would be running the 10k (I didn't think to ask him), so I go with him at the start. We are clear of everyone else pretty soon, and then he drops me like a baaaaaaaad habit, and then I see him at the finish line after peeling off after 5k. BASTARD! I'm now officially on my own in front of the race.

I spend the entire second lap simultaneously recovering from going out fantastically too hard chasing Brandon and preparing myself to vomit without breaking stride. Never puke, but manage to stay clear of the chasing hordes. Get the race win, a rad start to the season, and something a smidge under 37 minutes for the hard course. Yay!

Death face on the last climb

Our awesome friend Becky

March 17 - Leprechaun Chase 5k - Reno, NV

Can't seem to locate photos, so I'll be as descriptive as possible.

Cold Reno morning. Weakling masses (1500 of them) wear warm green shit. 8 of us buy gold speedos and rock those fuckers proudly, as a group. We are the Pot o' Gold, and nobody fucks with us. Drink whiskey before the race, as a group. Heckle aforementioned masses heartily, as a group. Heckle the chasing leprechaun heartily, as a group. "We've got your pot o' gold right here, you big sissy."

We do not run as a group. I run a high-16, a PR for me, especially given my blood alcohol content, and finish 2nd. Had no chance to chase down the winner.

Go to nearby Irish pub. Drink beer, as a group, without changing out of speedos. Retreat to our house, nearby, as a group, and start on the cocktails at about 10am. I BBQ 4 pounds of bacon in our front yard, still wearing the speedo, starting several grease fires. Driving motorists slow and gawk. I wave.

Asleep by 1pm. Majestic day.

April 15 - Boston Marathon - Boston, MA

I race well, except for breaking my foot at mile 19. 2:47 is still a nice PR. I've already written about the race here, along with my thoughts about the bombings. Here are some photos.

Happy and fast

We shall call this "Broken Foot Face;" no longer happy or fast

So Boston ended with a nice trip to Maine and the realization that I wouldn't be doing much of anything for a few weeks and wouldn't be running for quite some time.

This didn't feel so nice

May: hahahahahaha not a chance

June: hahahahahaha not a chance

July: hahahahahaha not a chance

August: hahahahahaha not a chance

What I can say about those intervening months is that starting fresh provided some nice perspective. Milestones like pedaling the bike trainer for five minutes or pushing off the wall in the pool with both feet, were momentous and wonderful, but I had no expectations of rapid returns to anything resembling fitness.

September 28 - Lost Sierra 50k - Graeagle, CA

On a Friday afternoon, our regularly scheduled plans for the weekend fell apart, and I knew that a neat trail race was happening the next day. I hadn't exactly run much since Boston, but I'd kind of wanted to do this race, so at 6pm, I said "fuck it" and threw my gear together. We left Reno at 5am and drove to Graeagle, and I paid the penalty for race day registration and tentatively laced up my shoes. There was a 14-mile option, but the "50k" option (actually 52 or 53ish km) seemed like a better flavor of destructo. Besides, I had nothing to lose.

Yay fun

I started at the front of the pack, fully aware that again, I had absolutely nothing to lose, so I figured I'd just see how things progressed. Within the first mile, there were three of us, and we three ended up being the overall podium. Ben went off the front at about mile 5, Adam dropped off behind me, and I ran approximately 26 miles of the race all by my lonesome self.

The course winds through the spectacular Gold Lakes Basin and surrounding mountains, and it's pretty fookin' hard. This was the first time I'd ever run a step longer than a marathon, and the 26-mile mark went by without any acknowledgement or drama. I just kept running.

Some blisters I had incurred during my only substantial training run the week before the race (a highly impulsive 21-mile mountain mission) fired up pretty early, and the last 8 or so miles of the race, all downhill, were nothing but damage control on the blisters. Mind, these were silver-dollar sized blisters on each heel, so this was less than pleasant.

With 5 miles to go, an aid station told me Ben was only 3 minutes up the trail, so I gave it everything I had, which wasn't much. I figured that if I was exceptionally lucky (AND Ben was having an exceptionally bad day), I might catch him, and that I at least had second locked up. So it came as a romping surprise when Adam appeared on my heels out of nowhere and blazed by me like I was standing still. I told him to go catch Ben, which he nearly did, and I had nothing left in the tank to even consider going with him. Besides, the persistent "squish-squish" in my shoes with every step was starting to get old.

Your podium

The three of us all ended up faster than last year's winning time, so it was a strong day for Reno runners in Graeagle. I managed 5:12, which is largely a meaningless time given the course. This is certainly the longest or farthest I've ever run, so that's cool. I hobbled to the ambulance to get my blisters bandaged and retreated home to lick my wounds.

The aftermath...this was the small one

September 29 - Mexican Tequila Mile - Golden Valley, NV

This was the day after Lost Sierra. I'll be damned if I miss a running+drinking race, so I grimaced through fucked legs and legendary blisters, got some tequila into me, and gleefully finished dead last. Hey, someone's gotta do the dirty work.

Triumphant return of the speedo; three of us represented!


Pobrecito Mannie

Still had an absolute blast.

October 13 - Bizz Johnson Marathon - Susanville, CA

After the impulsive thrashing I gave myself at Lost Sierra, my secret goal of smashing Bizz Johnson seemed to be more of a stretch with every passing day.

The morning before the race, I decided that racing the way I wanted to race would land somewhere between Impossible and Highly Destructive, so I pulled the plug. I was super super bummed about this, but I suppose discretion is the better part of valor, and I only pulled the plug after finding a couple of consolation races.

So I'd have a late season after breaking my foot anyway!

November 17 - Big Sur Half Marathon - Pacific Grove, CA

This was the first of two races I found after pulling the plug on Bizz. I really like the half marathon distance, especially the necessary recovery compared to a marathon, but I haven't raced it much.

Near the end

This race has an awesome course and is deliciously close to my cousin's house, so it was a no-brainer of sorts. I put in a good few weeks of specific training and raced well, finishing something like 16th amateur out of 7000+. Big PR of 1:16 and change, and felt great throughout. Well, not great, but the correct flavor of pain. You know what I mean.

December 8 - California International Marathon - Sacramento, CA

This was the second consolation race I planned after Bizz. My recovery from Big Sur took about a week longer than I was counting on (let's chalk it up to less-than-optimal training prior to Big Sur), but I figured I still had enough in the tank.

And then, no matter what you do, if you get sick race week, it's bound to be ugly. I woke up Tuesday morning with a scratchy throat, soldiered through til Friday, and then the wheels came off. Recovered a bit on Saturday, decided to go get my bib and see how I felt in the morning.

Woke up Sunday feeling OK, so decided to go ahead. The race started at 24 degrees, and would only finish at 31, so this counts as a kind of cold that does not produce smoking fast times. At least for little sick old me...

Already smashed at mile 10...ruh roh...

I feel like a rockstar for the first three miles. And that's about it. I hit the wall at mile 6 instead of mile 20, convince myself to pull out at mile 10, keep going, convince myself to pull out at mile 13, keep going, convince myself to pull out at mile 15, keep going, and then there just aren't too many miles left, so whatever.

I'm through the half in 1:19, but run the second half in a somewhat-hilarious 1:33 to finish in 2:52. Shit, I ran faster than that at Boston with my foot in a few extra pieces. When the 2:43 pace group came by me somewhere in the Dark Miles, it was so loud and rapid that I thought I was getting run over by a stampede of malnourished rhinoceros.

The only silver lining was drinking hot Irish coffee at the finish, redeeming myself after a week of no caffeine and no booze all in one go.

Slowest marathon to date...note to self...don't run sick. Idiot. Not quite the way I envisioned ending the season, but not much to say about it now. Well, what I can say is that the mental ramifications of skipping the race I only found after skipping another race would likely have been worse than the extra 4 days I was sick the next week. So really, in the long run, I made the right call. I just shouldn't have been planning to run fast :)


I'm not sure what next year will hold for me in the world of sport. I really want to get back to triathlon, so we'll see how that goes. I do enjoy running and it sure as hell takes less time to train for than triathlon, but it's not my true love. I'm also under no delusion that I'm any sort of elite runner, so it's not like I'm going to quit my job in pursuit of a sub-1:00 half marathon...

Cheerio from the end of 2013 and may you all have good seasons of racing, training, working, family, travel, and whatever else you gypsies may be into.


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