Monday, September 29, 2008

The Little Emperor Does it Again - 2:03:59

This is truly amazing!  Halie Gebreselassie does it again in Berlin, running a new marathon world record of 2:03:59. Very dramatic just creeping under the 2:04 mark, and still inspirational.  I think he ran his first half in 1:02:04, then came back like a mad man.  I can't even image running a half marathon in that time. Most Americans can't even do that! But it still gives me hope to improve my times and push the limits of human capabilities.  Truly, truly amazing!  It is a great time to be a runner and a part of this running movement or running boom or golden age of running, or whatever term they are calling it now...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

La Luz Trail Run

After a grueling 3 hours and 52 minutes of running one of the most difficult trails in New Mexico, I feel that it is in order to reflect on this monstrosity of a run.  It is by far the longest time I have ever spent running, and it could be the longest distance, totaling 22 miles, of which half that distance was at a 12% ascend (and the other half a 12% decent).  The La Luz Trail is supposedly a world famous trail and the La Luz Trail Run is considered the "12 Most Grueling Trail Races in North America" by the fall 2001 issue of Trail Runner Magazine.  Yeah, its tough I guess!

We (Kris, Dana and myself) started at 10:30am.  This time of year in new mexico is a beautiful time since the weather is changing and the colors are starting to take change with fall approaching. Its also been said that hiking La Luz is "gorgeous this time of year", whoever said that, was definitely hiking and not running the damn trail. Nevertheless, I was excited beforehand, and we trotted up the paved road 2 miles before the trailhead. The trail itself is 7.2 miles straight up!

This is where we started, at my little truck. The paved road lead us up the 2 miles to the trailhead, which is basically at the base of those Mountains in the foreground. Then its up, up, up the trail. There were some points where the views were amazing. Damn, I should have brought my camera. Or maybe we should have brought some water.  At least we were half smart enough to bring some Cliff bars, on this 3 plus hour excursion.

So, while running up the mountain we experienced all sorts of hikers troting along. You could also hear the wind howling through the ponderosa pines and blue spruce trees. It almost sounded like running water or maybe 50 foot waterfalls. At least that's what I was dreaming of....water!  So nearly 2 hours later we crested the trail and ended at the peak, where a quaint little gift shop at 10,678 ft seems to be very practical. So after meeting Kris at the top of the crest, all I could think of was some water.  As I staggered over, tripping over rocks here and there, a young couple were asking us if we ran the whole trail.  With a delusional look on my face, and halfway out of breath I told them "yeah.... in about an hour fifty".  They were impressed and thankfully gave us a water bottle with some water; most likely out of pity and the stupidity of us not being prepared.  Once Dana made it up, I was ready to charge into the gift shop and fill up our bottles. Without a moment too soon, Kris told me "they don't have any water in there." And I came back with a remark along the lines of "WTF?!?!!? How can they not have any water in there!"  Apparently the only water they had was for sell, to all the tourist that drove up from the back side of the mountain! The lady was kind enough to inform us that 2 miles south on the crest trail was the tram and the restaurant. No shit! That's what I was afraid of..... 2 miles there and 2 miles back just to get some water!  "Well, lets do it!"

After we crawled into the tramway station to gaze upon onlookers in amazement, I quoted Dumb and Dumber, "We're there!"  Oh, water never tasted soo good!  A quick pit stop and rummaging through trash cans looking for water bottles, we filled up and headed home.  I remember hearing one women state, "I am inspired by your insanity!" Yes, that's exactly what I was thinking, we are insane... 

Now, getting down was entirely different. We had water, we finished our Cliff bars and it was a rocky down hill for the first half. Not as dramatic as climbing up, but still a journey.  Drinking on the go, seemed soo much better than burning our legs up the trail.  Kris took off after a few miles, and Dana stopped with only 3 miles to go.  I was running
 alone for the last 3, and once I hit the paved road, all I wanted was to see my truck.  I started to pick up the pace down the hill and became a little more delusional.  Laughing in my head, and sometimes out loud. Once I saw the truck and Kris laying in the bed with his feet sticking up I knew it was over. I took a breather in the middle of the road and then grabbed some water/tea. Dana appeared a few moments later and collapsed on the hood of his car.

All in all, it was a great experience! The run was Epic and I am sure we shall do it again, but until then I am just going to take it easy for a day or two.  San Jose is in two weeks, so this should be good!  La Luz trail is a run I shall never forget, I am ever so glad of the experience and the safety we all had.

One last picture:

After the run looking down upon the rain over Albuquerque.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Burn After Reading

What a very cynical movie.  Sure it was funny, with Brad Pitt acting like a workout junky; which many of us runners can relate to, and George Clooney's character portraying a total sleazeball of a husband. Their anecdotes definitely made the movie funny in more ways than one. I just can't believe these actors nowadays, they are really good! I didn't really know what to expect from this movie, just the fact that it was good and a Coen brothers movie, and it had some dark humor. Nevertheless, it was a great movie. I recommended this one, and I can't wait to see some more of their stuff.      

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chips and Salsa 1/2 Marathon

My second ever half marathon, and it was in Albuquerque, so its a New Mexico style race. Which means it is very unorganized; running on the street for part of the race, then through a construction zone and then through some dirt, and finally on a bike path...yes a bike path. I can't believe these people pay to run these makeshift races, but lucky for me I got a comp entry. 

So as for the race, there was prize money involved, so whenever that happens in New Mexico all the Kenyans come out aiming to bring home some dough. It started off at what seemed like a pedestrian, but at the first sign of a mile marker; which was the 2nd mile marker, we hit it at 10:23.  Pretty good, I guess. At that point we had a good little pack of 6-7 Kenyans, 1 Korean stud, a Moroccan, Kris, and myself.  I knew before the race that I was going to have fun and practice my fuel intake. Which I did, and it went pretty well. I didn't get much water/gatorade out of the cups, since I spilled most of the liquid, but it was a good experience.

At around mile 4 some of the Kenyans started dropping off, so I was somewhere in the neighborhood of  7th place. Kris was right there with me, but backed off a little with another Kenyan/friend of ours.  I didn't really know what to think, so I just focused on the next guy in front. I finally caught him and passed him and worked on a few more guys.  Once we passed some shady dirt area near mile 7, I was in 4th place.  Seeing 3rd place a few seconds in front, I thought, why not go for 3rd and take home some cash while your at it? So, as Forest Gump would say, "I just kept runnin", and I caught 3rd. Once that happened Kris and Jay Young (the 2:10 marathoner Korean) came up on me. Now I was thinking, "oh great, I'm going to die now and crawl into the finish after these guys smoke me". But, I made a little surge and gaped them. Apparently, Kris dropped off the bike path and took a dumb; so that dropped him back a bit.  

From mile 9 to 10 we were now approaching the 10k runners on the same course. Damn New Mexico style road races. Once mile 10 came up, I just figured I had to hold off anyone for the next 5k. Its only a 5k... Well, that seemed like a long 5k, as the race volunteers directed us through a maze of residential streets, finally to come out on the last 2.5k of the 10k course. Crazy, I know. Well, from here on home Jay and I were battling quite a bit. I let him take the lead for a bit to gauge where he was at. At a few points he would surge a little, so I had to stick with him. The last 400m or so I took over the lead he had on me and just kicked it in. Dodging countless 10k finishers at the same time to finish in 68:49 for 3rd and a little prize money.

Overall, it was a great race, despite the organization. One of my buddies got lost, and once he finished he was cussing up a storm about how poorly the course was marked, which it was. But having this race as my 2nd 1/2 marathon, and a relative close PR, I was extremely happy. After the race, I spoke with many of the Kenyans and they are very impressed with my performance. It would be nice to train with them and learn a few things from them. Hopefully in the weeks and months to come I can learn some good stuff from them.

I plan on racing the San Jose 1/2 marathon next month, and hopefully run a personal best! It would also be nice to have a fun filled weekend like this one, with corny t-shirts and finishers medals...