Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor(ious) Day weekend: 4 stories, 1 post

As the kids get older, as Agnès teaches in high school this year, as I settle into IBM, long weekends are welcome to... work and catch up with our to do lists, barely taking a break. Not the typical American Labor Day weekend which usually means camping or barbecue parties! Oh well, another time...

There are four running-related storied I want to share with you tonight but I don't have time to do four posts. And you don't have time to read four posts anyway, right? Here they are:
  1. Last week's Stevens Creek Striders' Clambake
  2. More speed at Rancho
  3. Erik Skaggs' kidney failure after Where's Waldo 100K
  4. My Quicksilver double half marathon
And they make for a long post...

1. Last week's Stevens Creek Striders' Clambake

This is a summer tradition for our Stevens Creek Striders club. The event consists in a run from Saratoga Gap to the Ocean, followed by a picnic, a potluck format with the club providing clam chowder. I had too much work last weekend to go to the beach (and get Agnès to pick me up there), so I joined the group at 7 am for the start from Saratoga Gap, ran the first 7 miles of the beautiful Skyline To The Sea trail and 7 miles back to Skyline. We were 13 at the start, plus a few volunteers manning the mobile aid station. Some runners actually stop at Big Basin, when others joined to run the second and final Big Basin to the Beach section. Nice sunrise on the way to Saratoga Gap (Highway 9):
I posted a few pictures in Picasa, although, for once, I thought my camera was not very cooperative. It was a beautiful day, after a very hot day in the Bay on Saturday, and the light (not enough or too much) tricked my camera (and me too!). Anyway, here they are, at least they will help remembering who was at the start of the Clambake 2009 in a few years.
Also remember that Peter certainly did lead the group for a mile this year!
Michael has also posted a few pictures in his Facebook album. If you want more details on the format of the run, you can read my report from 2007.

2. More speed at Rancho

No, I did not get a speed ticket at Rancho this Saturday. If you read my previous post, you know that I was able to turn some stress at work into positive energy in speed work sessions, with my second fastest mile ever. This Saturday, I was back at Rancho again, driving with Max who met with his Cupertino High School cross-country team. They are training hard, preparing for their first meet this coming Thursday at Lynbrook.

I did my Rogue/PG&E loop (counter clockwise tour of the park) and started hard. On the way up, I stopped to talk to Patrick who was on his way back. I met Patrick two years ago at Wiskeytown 50K and Patrick told me he just moved in Sunnyvale so we should see him more often. At the top of Rogue, I stopped again, this time to chat with Mr. Stevens (the husband of Mrs. Stevens who had Greg for one year at Garden Gate Elementary School).

I was still feeling good and pushed all the way up, then flew down on (or over?!) the PG&E trail. At some point in the steepest downhills my GPS indicated 4:15 min/mile; I think I scared some of the hikers going that fast, and even myself! Bottom line I completed the loop in 1:03:38, which is my PR on this course (I'll take it as a PR although I stopped the watch when socializing with Patrick and Mr. Stevens for a minute or so). From time to time during this run I was wondering how I would do if there was a race organized at Rancho but, fortunately, I don't need a run to be an official race to push the pace! Yet, I'd like to see someone going under 1 hour, this is certainly doable (well, not me, but someone younger and faster!).

3. Erik Skaggs' kidney failure

I got the news last weekend in an email from a local runner, a very bad news and one big lesson to learn. 2 weeks ago, Erik won the USA Track&Field 100K trail championship in Oregon (Where is Waldo). He was not feeling well for the next two days and his boss figured out Erik had an issue with his kidneys. That was confirmed by the hospital which kept him for 5 days. If you don't know Erik, you may remember my post on his win at the Quad Dipsea last November. Here is a great shot from Agnès, right in the action!
Here am I with him after the finish:
The good news is that, after 2 weeks, Erik is getting better and his kidneys showing good signs of recovery. Phew! You can read health updates on the Rogue Valley Runners blog.

The not so good news is that Erik will incur huge hospital bills (I've heard around $30K), and has no insurance coverage except for $9K though his USA T&F membership.

And the lesson to learn? Not relying on Ibuprofen in ultras. Cobining anti-inflammatory and dehydratation is the best recipe to shut the kidneys down... My doctor had told be that a few years ago and I never used anti-inflammatory medicine during or close to a race. Besides, I find border line to use such medication in competition (like I feel guilty when I need to use my inhaler when I get asthma). Anyway, seeing what happened to Erik, you have been warned!

To help addressing Erik's critical situation, an Erik Skaggs Medical Fund has been set up by his friends at Umpqua Bank, 250 Pioneer St., Ashland OR 97520 (make sure to write "Erik Skaggs Medical Fund" on the envelope). A check is on its way from Cupertino; thank you if you can consider helping Erik too!

4. My Quicklsilver double half marathon

This is a weird concept, isn't it? Yes, I ran a marathon this Monday morning, on Labor Day. I actually ran two half marathons, twice the course of next weekend's race, the Quicksilver Challenge Half Marathon. After a few training runs there, and my great experience of the Quicksilver 50 miles in May, I am more familiar with the trail system of this large park in South San Jose, but I wanted to check the course to be sure of what to expect next Sunday.

Adam Blum is the race director and we made a deal back in May: he came to run part of my training run at Quicksilver during my Western States Memorial Day training weekend but made me promise to run his race in return. Deal, I'm in!

I studied the online map carefully last night and, stopping at each intersection today, was able to complete the convoluted loop (8 shape) without any mistake. I was back to the Hacienda entrance/parking lot after 1:41 of running. I had pushed reasonably hard although I was still feeling some soreness from my Rancho PR and my goal was to complete two loops this morning, and was therefore keeping some energy for the second round.

In the parking lot I met Troy again (I had seen him and one of his friends earlier on the trail), who advertised his Californian trail race series.
I couldn't find any water at the parking lot, nor on the course, so I left the parking lot with both my bottles half filled, which turned out to be a bit short with the rising temperature. I completed the second lap in exactly the same time, although I found the second climb up to English Camp to be much tougher than the first time, as I was getting dehydrated (and tired maybe?). Overall, I clocked 3:22:46 for the full marathon, not too bad given the hilly terrain (4,300 ft of cumulative elevation). Yet, it is going to be another story to match the best times ran on this course since 2000... I thought the course record was just over 1:30 but I now see that Martin Mumenthaler clocked an amazing 1:26:00 in 2002. This goal is going to be a stretch...

This is really a nice event if you want to give a try to trail running. First, you can pick a shorter distance (10K or 6.1 miles). Second, the views over the Bay are gorgeous. Third, if you are used to the crowded road events, you will be surprised about the friendliness and camaraderie of a much smaller group. With that, I hope you can join us; please check the Quicksilver Running Club website out! (If some links don't work in Firefox, they should work with Internet Explorer.) You can even register on race day.

Talk to you in a week then, about the official Quicksilver "single" half-marathon.

PS: oh, by the way, did you guess the number of words starting with an s in my previous post? I did a quick check tonight and, back to the title, that was laborious... I found 206! Granted, with some repeats, including a few "so", but... still... ;-)

1 comment:

Peter Lubbers said...

Sounds like a fun and busy weekend, Jean. Way to go.