Sunday, July 29, 2012

Slo Triathlon - July 22, 2012

it's been a while since i've joined a relay team for the slo triathlon. it's been six years actually. i am hopeful we beat 1:28 and some change (that was my previous relay time).

heidi was supposed to be our swimmer, but due to an unfortunate minor injury, she had to pull out. thankfully, dan found a substitute swimmer from his work and we were complete. i was the default runner since running is about the only thing i can contribute to this team.

our start time was 8:00am. we were blessed with cloud cover throughout our race. the sun peeked out shortly after i finished.  jennifer did an excellent job swimming. her fiancee was the lap counter, however due to the confusion (someone had a heart attack at the pool, and by the way, he was okay after not breathing for 4 minutes!) we were not sure exactly if the officials recorded our start time exactly at 8:00am. it may have been shortly thereafter. in my excitement to get going,after tagging dan, i forgot to press the start on my watch. i was already in the middle of the eucalyptus groves by the time i got a satellite signal on my garmin. i fumbled to start it, however I knew it would be off by at least 30 seconds. so i was dismayed but i let it go, i didn't look at the watch anymore and i just kept running.   i passed about at least 7 people. it could have been 10 but it was a blur. i was very sorry i did, because obviously, the people i was passing were tired from doing all three events. there i was with my fresh legs flying by them. i wished i had a sign on my back that read: "sorry, don't mind me i'm on a relay team, and i'm only a third as good as you!"  i know how it feels to be passed by someone with fresher legs. it is demoralizing. (in oakland marathon, they have "relay" stickers on the back of the relay teams--which is a nice touch. SFO should pay heed--they have two sets of halfers: one at the start and the other at the 13.1 mile. that was two times more demoraling to the full. sorry i digressed.)

i thought i was going to end the race with no one passing me! the second to the last turn i saw heidi cheering me one with her sign! i threw her my water bottle at her feet so i can push it, after i passed her spot, i heard her yell out, "go aileen!" then shortly there after she yelled out "go kevin!"  my thought was, that better not be kevin cooper on my tail. if it was, i knew he's going to try and pass me. i was coming up on a downhill, so i put some more gas to create some gap. i passed a volunteer navigating traffic and shortly thereafter, i heard him yell out, "go kevin cooper!" rats! it is cooper! (background: kevin is one of those fast guys in our running club. he and his wife mary, would lap everyone else every wednesday night at the track. i don't mind getting lapped because i just accepted the fact that they're gifted and talented runners. very lovely couple, very humble and down to earth, i love the coopers.) but today not so much...kidding! i was almost home-free when he passed me just before entering the chute to the finish. and while he passed me: he talked some mad trash too! "i gotcha!"  aargh! i didn't have an answer, as i poured everything on the downhill section. (not again, this was reminiscent of the july 4th 15k race in santa barbara when a girl beat me by 1 second). oh but it was all in good fun! that was exhilarating when you know you have someone gunning for you.  i am so glad that i didn't race yesterday, otherwise i wouldn't be able to run as strong as i did today. i am very happy with my performance. i ran strong and only allowed one runner to pass me.  if there's ever anybody who was going to pass me in the end, i would rather have it be someone like kevin who normally runs a sub 19:00 5K. looking at it from that perspective, i really had not chance. just kidding. seriously it makes me feel kinda special--like really? little ole' me? i'm worthy enough to be chased down? good job cooper!

happy running!

Jennifer after her swim..Dan was off for this ride..

Me waiting anxiously for Dan to come back so I can run...

Done! Our official time is still pending..

Team name: Heidi's Heroes!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Stride with the Tide 5K

Stride with the Tide, July 21, 2012

man, this weekend is full of running activities! it was hard to choose. i almost gambled and did a back to back 5Ks. it was stupid, and finally i did something right: i asked my two running friends for advice: advice i knew would be sane. i just needed to hear it out loud. boy! after the the 5k, was i thankful i had fresher legs.

seeing that i couldn't race this 5k beach run, i decided to volunteer and cheer on my best buddy to her 5k age group win. being on the other side of the fence gave me a chance to appreciate the volunteers even more. they sure do a great job; without the volunteers, this race wouldn't be possible or any race for that matter.   check out this evidence from camarillo marathon 2010 with no volunteers, just water jugs, no cups. picture courtesy of
Can you imagine a volunteer-less race? Help yourself to the jug...

stride with the tide was held at pismo beach and to the sand dunes of oceano, a mile and a half turn-around loop.  Weather was foggy and misty. the race felt so fast, before i knew it, the fastest kid came back at 16 minutes and some change! all the fast ones started rolling in after him. there were some older men in their late 50s and a 65 year old contending with the kids, doing under 21 minutes! it was pretty entertaining seeing about 25 guys dry heaving at the finish, coughing, double over, spittle out of their mouths, and plain thankful the pain was all over.  i looked over at the other volunteer and asked, "do we ever look like these guys after a 5K?" Laughing, he commented it looked liked a war zone out there. maybe i need to push it like this next time? tomorrow?

i anticipated heidi to stroll in about 25-26 minutes. like clockwork she appeared looking as strong as ever. heidi earned a fabulous 3rd place finish in her age group!  this beach run is hard, even though it was hard pack sand, there's give so you still have to push hard. your achilles and calves are being worked at the push off.  i was glad i listened to my friends and didn't participate. my lower legs would have been sore and my effort for the next day would have been half-cooked.

the best part of the day was witnessing a great finish:  a 96-year old man finished the 5k.  long after every medal was distributed, after every walker, runner, spectator and even the volunteers packed and gone, he crossed the finish line and never gave up.  he inspired me today. he was flanked by two other volunteers making sure he was safe. he's was not my great-grand-pa, nor my grandfather. he was somebody else's father, uncle and husband, but i was proud of him just the same.  when i grow up i want to be like bill siler--still running strong and living what he loves to do...go Mr. Siler!

enjoy the pictures!

Volunteers Cynthia, Debbie and Heidi

Heidi and Debbie at the start

353 racers waiting at the start

5k runners woke up early Saturday to race Stride with the Tide

There they go! See the lone stroller? Matt Ruane would finish sub-19 minutes!

Matt Ruane from Los Osos with the stroller, he's just warming up!

'Lil kid has a perfect stride!

Is that my Summertime (my dog-those of you who don't know), what's she doing here?
Here's that crazy dog. That's how she sleeps.

Aww, was I wishing I was out there? Yup...

...but it's for my own to save the legs for the triathlon-relay tomorrow...

The familiar gait! That's Heidi!

Bring it home sistah!

Kick! Kick! Kick!

Debbie for her 1st place age-group win!

You got this Debbie!

Bill Siler on the left, 96 years young, proudly wearing his 1st place medal! Sorry I didn't get the volunteer's name, but this man and Kevin Cooper (not picture here) ran with Mr. Siler to the finish!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Semana Nautica 15K Race Recap

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It was weird going to a race in the middle of the week. It felt like a weekend. I was planning on running the Pozo 5K in Pozo until my neighbor, Peggy, talked about this 15K. She is training for her second half-marathon in San Francisco, and is using this 15K as a tune up race. I tagged along because it is the 4th of July, and frankly since this is a new course for me, I was curious to see what it's like to run this distance.

Shortly before the race our very own  SLDC newsletter editor Stan Rosenfield gave me some fascinating historical tidbit of information about this long time 4th of July race. Looking at the results from forty years ago, in 1972, there were only 2 women runners who finished this race out of 105 (Today there were 348.) Joyce Rowley (1:12:20) and Mary Carman (1:15:10), finished 86th and 96th place, respectively. Both these women are fast! They are my heroes!

The night before I went through my race routine and laid everything I would need for the race. It felt weird doing this and it's not for a marathon. It's a 15K, yet I was nervous just the same.
The race was put on by Santa Barbara Athletic Association. We left at 4:30 am. (That meant I had to get up at 3 to eat my breakfast and allow plenty of time for other stuff).  The race started at 8 am and it was prompt. Peggy and I got to the location at around 6:30ish. We wanted to scope out the course and pay respect to the dreaded Cathedral Hill. After seeing the hill for ourselves, it was a great relief. It was not as bad as we thought. I vaguely remember running a portion of this hill when I ran the Inaugural Santa Barbara Marathon in 2009, but what I couldn't remember was the slope. It should have dawned on me, that if the grade didn't make that much of an impression on me back then, then I had nothing to worry about. Seeing it again, was not a bad idea. It settled down whatever doubts we had that day.

The race was well organized. It had no frills and all business. We got to the packet pickup at San Marcos High School in plenty of time. Fetching our bib numbers, t-shirt and pins took less than five minutes. We got back to the car and drove to the start which was about 1/2 mile further, just around the corner from the high school. We found out that the start had no porta potties so we made sure we got our business taken cared of at the school. This was a very important tid-bit of information and runners appreciate this.
Peggy getting her gear on prior to her 15K PR!

Peggy and I noticed that this race for some reason drew so many athletic, beautiful people around (Sorry, no pictures to prove my point.) I mean, usually for weekend races, you see a lot different kinds of body types, as in all runners. I thought we crashed an elite party or something--talk about Ripped abs, sun-kissed-tanned bodies, muscular legs, you name it, they got it. Among these lean women, I recognized the winner of the Bull Canyon 10K I ran in May. Later I would find out that this was a USATF Road Championship Series, so no wonder it attracted out of town competitors. The men's winner crossed at 48:57 while the women's winner at 57:11!

The course wove its way around Santa Barbara. We started 1/2 mile from the high school on San Simeon, then off to San Marcos Road, Cathedral Oaks, Cambridge looping around the neighborhoods around Kellogg School.  The last 4 miles was on the bike path which reminded me so much of the Ojai Marathon. The finish was at Turnpike Road at San Marcos High School.

The weather was misty all the way from start to finish. It couldn't have been any more perfect.
One thing that wasn't perfect however was my pacing plans. I was a little unsure of how to pace myself with this new distance. It was a last minute race entry so there was not much I could do to prepare. I jumped into this race with the thought of pacing myself as in 8 milers that I've ran in the past as in the Thanksgiving Hunger Run and the Castle Coast 8.2 miler. My pace ended up being slower, which equaled to my 1/2 marathon pace. Nonetheless, I was satisfied that I kept it under 9 minute pace.  The last 1.5 miles was where I slowed down dramatically.  I blame it on my 3 a.m. breakfast. Although I had a bagel an hour and half before the race, my fuel was wearing off. I thought that since its only a 15K, not a marathon, I wouldn't need Gu.  Luckily I packed 2 honey packets to keep from bonking, however that was still not enough, as 2 packets was the equivalent of 1/2 of a Gu. I will note this for next time: a 15K is ran a little bit faster than a half marathon, therefore, I will need more fuel.  Once I was past the 9 mile mark, I felt great.  I managed to pickup my feet a little bit and tried to pass one last gal.

(Picture courtesy of Raul Merino.)
Right at your heels girl..

(Picture courtesy of Raul Merino.)
I'm closing the gap...

 I almost did.  I ran past her and just as I thought I had it in my pocket, I notice the crowd got louder. No wonder! She was trying to gain on me, but my reaction was too late. I ran out of real estate. Just before I crossed the finish line she swooped in front of me at 1:22:57. She beat me by one second. That sprint to the finish was so much fun. I thanked her in the end, told her "Great job!"  That goes to show me it ain't over until it's over! Kick all the way to the end Cota!
Thank you for the pictures Raul!

Happy to see evidence that I've finally learned to run on my forefoot.

I'm so glad that I did this race. It was something new and it was exciting. I was a little unnerved about my pacing at first, but so what? Just go with it. I will definitely do this again next year, now that I am armed with this experience.  By the way, my neighbor, Peggy? She kicked ass! She came in 4th in her age-group, coming in at 1:19! Go Peggy!

Happy Trails!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Memorial Day Hike

On Memorial Day, I took my two favorite people to hike Valencia Peak in Montana De Oro State Park. It was sunny and cool with a little bit of wind.  Hubby was a trooper while my 12-year old daughter complained every few feet of climb, but she did it.  We ran into a number of blue bellied lizard.  Hubby is a crafter when it comes to making nooses. So out of grass, he deviced a contraption to catch and release the reptile.  Daughter loved it and at the same time she screams and gets the willies.  I would have loved to see a snake or something, but it was just lizard city today.
Up at the top, we were greeted with a fantastic view of Morro Bay and the surrounding beach towns. The fog lifted.  Hubby even caught a glimpse of a whale which jumped out of the water.  What do you know, I missed it. What else is new?

It was a great day to unwind and enjoy the scenery. Funny how that is, when you live so close to someplace awesome you forget about it. Meanwhile there's folks out there who traveled from afar to experience this paradise. Here we are, it's in our backyard, and we can't even remember that last time we've been out here to hike.  Well enjoy the pictures!

Yeah, not a fan of cougars and rattlesnakes?

Good thing didn't bring Summer along...

Elena reading the caution signs...cougars, rattlesnakes...

Hubby, also reading the precaution...

I'm cheesing at the cougar signs...

You saw the sign?

Complaining...what else do 12 year olds do?

I keep telling these guys to look back to see how far we've come...

There they are...

One foot in front of the other...we're in the fog...

That's where we had to go, up the mountain...Notice we're below the fog?
Me running for a little bit... I can pose for this shot...

Looking backward to see what the hold up is...they found a lizard...also, now we're level with the fog.

Still got a ways to go....

Getting closer, I can make out the trails...

About 10 minutes to the peak...

Ah finally, they are close...the fog is almost below us...


...All smiles after knowing they are 10 minutes to the top.

Five minutes to the top

Me posing again.

Breath-taking view of the trails below and the Pacific Ocean on the horizon...the fog is below us...

The grass noose

Finally, a moment to rest...

We made it!

We're here!

Time to head down the mountain...

...But not until we make a noose to catch a lizard...

I can't believe they're on top of Valencia, and the noose is more important...

Don't worry little guy, they'll set you free...
Go in peace, young Jedi!