Thursday, November 28, 2019

Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 2019: still in pain for v15.0

It was at that race that I injured the attach of my left quad, a year ago. One year passed and the pain is still there. Granted, it's getting better, meaning less pain, but what a long process. Of course, I might have not helped that I tried to race like nothing had happened, until May: 11 races with only one shorter than the marathon distance... 2 new Age Group American Records... and, with the 50-mile at Ruth Anderson, a 13th consecutive Age Group win in our North California MUT (Mountain, Ultra, Trail) Grand Prix; insane... Yet, I'm blown away that 6 months of rest have still not been enough. Wow, that's by far the biggest running injury I've experienced in my 21-year career. And, still, I have to appreciate that there are many more serious, some irreversible, injuries out there. After all, it's Thanksgiving, so better be super grateful for even being able to run, once in a while, short of training.

I registered a few weeks ago, for the 10K, hoping that I'd be completely healed. Without any training, my goal was to run with Greg. Agn├Ęs signed-up for the 5K. I flew back on Tuesday, after the most insane trip ever, 29,636 miles (50,801 km) in 2 weeks! Connecticut, Virginia, Florida, back in California for 10 hours, then France, Turkey, South Africa, Turkey, France, California, phew! As a reference, the Earth circumference is only 24,901 miles... Needless to say #FlightShame on me... ;-/ At some point, I was even not sure if I'd be back on time, so I'm really glad I was able to at least toe the line of this 15th edition, 11th consecutive one for me.
After a major rain and snow storm (yes, some snow on nearby Mt Hamilton!), the weather was gorgeous, albeit on the chilly side, with 38F at the start (2 degrees Celsius). At least, the asphalt had dried up this year, as opposed to last year (I injured my quad by slipping on a cross walk by less than one inch...).

I love the abundance of porta-potties at this event. 10 minutes before the start, no line/wait!
Greg and I started at the back of Corral A.
Greg said he could shoot for a 7:30 min/mile pace, maybe 7:00. Well, we were on for some slalom right off the bat, as there were young kids ahead, strollers, walkers, and many, many runners obviously in the wrong corral. Fortunately, Santa Clara Street is really wide and we got into some good rhythm, on the right of the street, before the first left turn. As a matter of fact, we were now cruising at 6:30 min/mile, and Greg seemed at ease, while I was really enjoying that pace and speed I love so much. We hold on to that pace for the first 3 miles, where the 5K runners turn left to the finish and we turn right. To my surprise, very few runners were on the 5K. Around mile 2, we passer Karl Schnaitter and Simone Winkler from Excelsior, MUT buddies.

My hamstring started hurting in the second mile and, in the fourth mile, I fell a few seconds behind Greg. We saw the front runners on their way back, something I usually manage to avoid, but not this year. I kept pushing, without giving it all, the stride being the limit today. After running with Greg, my second goal was not to pull too much on the injury. I crossed the finish in 41:34. This is my 54th 10K race in 20 years, out of 323 races, and my slowest 10K ever, by 3 minutes, OUCH! I know, I still need to be so grateful to even running that fast...

Here is Relive's 3D fly-over for an aerial view over downtown San Jose:
With 17,000 finishers, RunRaceResults does quite a phenomenal to publish results 6 hours or so after the race, see on their website. There will likely be quite a few updates and corrections but, at the time I write this, I'm quite surprised to see that this slow time still put me in 2nd in my age group. Although really far behind first M55-59, Raymond Rodriguez from Los Banos, in 36:36.

Speaking of first place, Adam Bodnar won the 10K in a blazing 31:42.
We had a chat in which I invited him and his fellow Googler, Zachary Medeiros (38:15), to compete in our 2020 MUT Grand Prix. Poor Zachary: I told him that our Quicksilver 100K wasn't full yet so he got excited and said he'll sign-up right away. I now see there were already 44 people on the waitlist... He is 45th, hope he makes it!
Despite the bright sun, it felt chilly in the Festival area, between the sweat of a good effort and low temperature, so we didn't stay for too long, but still managed to see a few friends.

Before our race, I was able to see the Elite Women and Men 5K races (women at 7:30, men at 8), impressive splits. Three women broke 16 minutes: Shannon Rowbury (15:41), Kim Conley (15:44), Emily Infeld (15:47). Three men broke 14 minutes: Aaron Templeton (13:54), David Bett (13:57), Brian Barraza (13:57), while 13 more men ran under 15 minutes! Our local MUT elite, Chikara Omine, ran 15:36, a 5:02 min/mile pace!



With that, see you all in one year, rain or shine! And hopefully on roads and trails in the meantime, in better shape for me, and good shape for you! Happy 2019 Thanksgiving!

PS: a few more pics of the Elite 5K race























Monday, November 25, 2019

2020 PA MUT Grand Prix schedule: the cat out of the bag, finally!

Phew, Nakia and I have worked on this 2020 schedule since August, yet we never seem to start soon enough as ultra runners need to schedule their year months in advance!

First, I want to give a shout out to the 114 women, 180 men, 20 teams and 10 clubs who participated in our 2019 Grand Prix and made it so engaging and entertaining until our very last races at Ruth Anderson Memorial Runs; what a great season between January and October! Among these runners, special kudos to the team captains for bringing their clubs together in this fun contest.

Second, all this won't be possible without all the Race Directors putting up first-class events. I often say that our Pacific Association (North California and North Nevada) is not only blessed, but also spoiled, with such an abundance of both very high quality events but an amazing dedication of these RDs to fuel such a sense of ultra and trail running community by linking runners' achievements to volunteers. Thank you for your hard work and support of our Grand Prix, RDs! Think, by event order in 2019: Paulo Medina, John Blue and Dennis Scott, Julie Fingar, Adam Ray, Tia Bodington, Pierre-Yves Couteau and Stuart Taylor, John Trent, Andres Vega, Greg Lanctot, Cliff Lentz, Wim Van Dam, Steve Jaber and Anil Rao. Wow, what a powerful list!

Before going straight to the schedule, let me share the main criteria which we are considering. As you can see, given the hundreds of potential events to chose from, this is quite a combinatorial exercise, a balancing act with many trade-offs. If some of you were wondering why it took us so long. For many years, at least the first 10 years I participated in the MUT Grand Prix since 2006, the schedule remained the same from year to year, that made it easier for everyone. But the world is changing around us and I'm grateful to Nakia for being such an agent of change and representing the modernization aspect in the "tradition versus innovation" trade-off in particular.

Again, you can skip to the schedule directly if you aren't interested in the details. For the hard core MUT folks, and potentially the next MUT subcommittee Chair, here are a few selection criteria...

Key pillars of the MUT Grand Prix selection:

  1. Tradition: keep the original spirit of this quarter century tradition
    1. Club support: prioritize PA club-organized events → Jed Smith (Buffalo Chips); Quicksilver (Quicksilver); Silver State (Silver State Striders); Star City (Excelsior); Tamalpa Headlands (Tamalpa)
    2. Traditional events
    3. Early season building-up toward the big summer 100s
    4. Spread across the Pacific Association region (region spanning from Monterrey, CA to Reno, NV)
    5. Leverage local Nationals when available
  2. Novelty
    1. Continuing on extending to/including sub-marathon Trail races (not just Ultras)
    2. Addition of Mountain races
    3. Addition of new events
    4. But, yet, less events overall (the GP used to have more than 20 events a year!)
    5. Potential inclusion of a relay (club teams)
    6. Finish earlier in the year to allow for early planning of following year
  3. Fairness, inclusion, diversity
    1. Events should allow enough PA runners to register for club to score teams
    2. Events distributed across RDs partnering and supporting our PA Grand Prix
  4. MUT/USATF Association excellence: remain a National model
    1. Engagement/level of participation (number of participants, number of age groups, number of clubs and teams)
    2. Competitiveness: provide high quality and sought-after events; minimize conflicts with National and International Championships, and/or other big/popular events
    3. Quality of events
    4. Attractiveness
    5. Embodiment of the MUT discipline: 3 running disciplines (M, U, T), plus the variety of ultra running formats: distances (50K, 50M, 100K, 100M), distance/timed (6hr, 12hr, 24hr, 48hr, 6 days, …), terrain (road, track, trail).
    6. Avoid conflicts with relevant events (other PA GP races from Road if not XC, MUT Nationals, other major and popular MUT races if not on our calendar).

With that... drum roll... here is your 2020 schedule, hope you see where this comes from, and that you get exited to compete, both individually and as a club team! The big scoop is the return of TRT (albeit without the Champs' discount) as our 100-miler in 2020.


Date
Sac
Bay
Mtn
Trail
50K
50M
100K
100M
Timed
Feb 1: Jed Smith 50K
X



R




Feb 22: Mt Umunhum 12K**

X
T






Mar 7: Way Too Cool 50K
X



T




Mar 14: Pioneer Spirit 50M (Nationals)
X




T



Apr 11: Mt Diablo 50K**

X


T




May 9: Quicksilver 100K

X




T


May 16: Silver State 50M
X




T



May 17*: Ohlone 50K

X


T




May 30: The Ridge 23K**

X

T





Jun 21*: Broken Arrow 26K or 11K** (TBC)
X

T






Jul 18: Tahoe Rim Trail 100M**
X






T

Aug 2*: Skyline 50K

X


T




Aug 15: Star City Half

X

T





Aug 29: Tamalpa Headlands 50K

X


T




Sep 26: Dick Collins Firetrails 50M

X



T



Oct 10: Ruth Anderson 50K & 50M

X


R
R



Total
6
10
2
2
7
4
1
1
0
*: Sunday
**: new events = 5

Nakia will publish the official pdf format on the PA website soon. Hope that now gives you enough notice and visibility to continue planning for your 2020 season, after our early announcement of the inclusion of Quicksilver 100K, where all of those who wanted to get in were able to do so in the first 48 hours.

See you, healthy, on the roads and trails in 2020!

PS: updated with:

  1. Correction of Mt Diablo date (Saturday April 11, not 13, which still allows for Easter celebration that weekend);
  2. Addition of the traditional only distance at Jed Smith (50K);
  3. TBC added for Broken Arrow as we are still waiting to hear back from the RDs if we can have the 26K (fallback option will be the 11K)