Archive for September, 2009

Day 3 Start -- Tahoe City

Day 3 Start -- Tahoe City

General Information:

87 degrees, 50 degrees at start. Tahoe City to Pope’s Beach in South Lake Tahoe. 6200 to 6200 feet, with a 6900 foot climb in the middle.

Wore the blue Triple singlet over my white long sleeve SurfCity jersey. Also wore gloves.


Got on the first bus. Instead of getting a nap, talked the entire way with Levi. Young guy about to graduate med school in Las Vegas. Talked about race strategy mostly, plus what went on the past 2 days. We got to the site at 7:18 and the race was at 8:00. So, we hardly had any time to stand around and get cold. Took the start photo again. I went back to the start line and began my race by taking a minute to turn on my GPS. Austin Angell did come over to shake my hand and thank me for running the Triple again–unexpected, but cool! Also ran into Lucia Lake at mile 6–she was running with a friend. She high-five’d me and we said our goodbyes.

I ran the first 13 miles at sub-10, maybe some near 8s and mostly 9s. I did the same walking stops to feed on Gu and two salt tabs at miles 6, 12, and 18. I didn’t take the salt tabs at mile 24–maybe I should have. Had a lot of great aid station support–they were loud and very helpful. Plus, plenty of runners came by and congratulated me on running the Triple. Kinda cool actually.

A mid-race goal formed around mile 10. Thought that since I ran the hills in San Francisco, no hill would be impossible for me. So the Hill from Hell (a climb of near 600 feet over 3 miles) became my first target. I ran the different sections at different paces depending on the grade (6 to 9%, 11-13 minute paces). I passed almost all the marathoners who decided to walk that section (especially those who passed me earlier). I mean, 3 miles is a long way to walk. I started getting some cheering from jeep-full of young guys who noticed me running the hill when everyone else was walking. They would move from mile-to-mile until mile 20, just to cheer for me. That was pretty cool. I did talk to one of the guys and told them that I wanted to “own” that hill!

I got to the top and had a spectator take my photo. Wonder why I didn’t think of that the last time. There is a long downhill section to Emerald Bay (about 1.5 miles), which I would normally take advantage of. But my achy leg muscles would have nothing of it. I ran that section in sub-10s again.

At the bottom of that downhill section, another climb beckons. This time, about 1.5 miles going up where the grades go up to 12% I think. I decided to own that hill too! Was a little slower–at the top where the grade gets steep, I saw my GPS record 14 minute pace. The volunteers at the aid stations helped a lot. They splashed me with water front and back, plus more on my head.

So, I officially ran every hill in the Lake Tahoe Marathon! I own those two big hills!

When I got to the park where we started Day 1, I was almost in celebratory mood. I actually started to run slower. My idea was, the Triple was ending and so I had to take it all in. Which was okay anyway, because by that time my expected ETA was in the 4:20-4:30 range. That was my primary goal–to run even times for all 3 marathons over 3 days!

From miles 22.5 to 26, you get to run on a bike path among the trees. Running under cover always makes me run slower somehow. I get so distracted, and my focus is on leisurely running versus a race. So I still don’t like this section, having revisited it twice already.

At mile 24, I splashed my face to clean up for the finish. Got to look good you know! A lot of people were cheering for me. Even Bart Yasso and LT were cheering in front of the announcer. Pretty cool!


I was getting congratulated by a lot of people who just thought running the Triple was too cool! Two notables–I spoke to two twenty-somethings (Mandy and Paige) who recently graduated from UC Berkeley. Paige is running the San Antonio Marathon in November, so we had plenty to talk about. It was just cool to be able to talk to great-looking womenz about something relevant–he he, used up my two seconds of fame!

Talked to quite a few Triplers and maniacs at the finish. We cheered the Triplers in, especially those who came in later. Levi finished in 4:55, down from his first Lake Tahoe Marathon finish at 5:30. He was very happy! Everyone got the Triple plaque and then we left maybe when the clock was showing 6:45. Plenty of stragglers were still coming in.

After the race, Levi had to race back to Reno for his flight. JQ, LT, Bart, and I went to Riva Grill to eat and get some alcohol. Ordered a lobster and sirloin special, which was awesome. The Thunderbird margarita I ordered was too strong, so I started to get lightheaded. It was great to hang out over the water. The special did cost a lot, but I would have paid any amount to eat lobster after the Triple!

The gang then went to Hard Rock Cafe at Harvey’s, which was supposed to be the post-race party site. Very informal, and not really exclusive to runners. Few showed up. We stayed there until 10PM having a few drinks and some nachos. We said our goodbyes when the yawns were getting the best of everyone.

Packed my gear and went to sleep at midnight. All done!

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Day 2 Start -- Spooner Point

Day 2 Start -- Spooner Point

General Information:

90 degrees, 38 degrees at start. Spooner Point to Tahoe City. 7100 to 6200 feet.

Packed my Camelbak 42 ounce, salt tabs, 3 Gus. Also took handtowel and shirt for the finish.


Woke up at 3:30AM. Felt good leaving on my compression socks while I slept. Need the whole leg compression though. The skin under my big toe was tender, so I placed some tape on both; did the usual tape coverage for the midfoot.

Went to the Horizon bus pick-up at 6AM. Found out that the Super Triple/72-mile ultra for Sunday would be canceled. Bummer for Yolanda and Jeannette. They will finish the Triple instead.

Took a nap on the ride to Spooner Point. The parking lot was already full of cars when the bus got there. After more discussions about the cancelation, the runners lined up while the course official discussed some race course details. Day 2 had more runners since a lot of people signed up since the course has 10 miles of downhills. Lucia did speak a few words about the cancelation, and urged everyone doing the ultra to attend the 4PM meeting for more information.

I took a photo of the start, and then proceeded to run back to the start line to begin my 26.2. Legs were a bit heavy and not warmed up. It took maybe a mile for me to get things going. I knew I would slow down eventually, so I decided to run the downhill in the 8:30s. You get in trouble if you ran this any faster while doing the Triple. So I repeated the pattern from the day before. I caught the second cluster and then proceeded to pass them on the way down. They would start catching up with me at miles 14-26.

Okay, so the 10 miles cumulative downhill had rises too. Easily ran up all of them. At the Incline Village turn, for some reason I lapsed into tourist mode. I went from 8:30s to 11s. Which is why the second cluster caught me early. Running by these palatial properties was distracting at best. We also encountered plenty of cyclists at Incline Village (ride around the lake event); most were very supportive.

Did the walking breaks–taking in Gu and the salt tabs. Same effect–never felt the need for water. Did get very hungry at mile 18, but that is a natural thing on multi-day events. The cramping wasn’t as pronounced, so I think I’m adjusting to the altitude. Stopped by when I saw Ed Walsh providing aid. I enjoyed the nachos very much. Took water from Lucia, and we briefly spoke about what a bummer the cancelation was. Also took a bottle of cold water from Todd; I drank half and poured the other half on my head.

I thought that Crystal Hill would be the worst of the climbs. At mile 23, there is an 8% grade climb that goes on for about .6 of a mile. It’s awful because of where it catches you on the race. There was no other way to hit this hill other than to walk/run it. If you walked it exclusively, it takes a long time to cover. You can’t run it if you have been neglecting hill training.

I remember most of the views coming into Tahoe City. What the streets look like, the profile, even the businesses. Not much has changed since 2007. Anyway, I found the park easily and finish in 4:23. In 2007, I completed it in 5+.

Changed into a clean shirt and got my root beer and water. Saw Deo come in at 4:40. He did well.


Lucia came to me and asked within earshot of a few runners if I wanted a ride back to the Horizon. Jumped on that quickly, and so did 3 others. John from Tierra Santa, Jeb from Iowa, Mark P. from San Jose. Lucia was kind enough to take us through the marathon route. Nice to see what’s in store for tomorrow. I’ve seen it before, but it’s just good to see again.

Lucia and Mark will individually attack 1:30 goals in the San Jose Half next weekend. I know they will do well. Mark did today’s run in 3:38. I found out Lucia is training with a run coach, so she will be good to track in the next few seasons.

Lucia drove us to the Pope’s Beach parking lot (the marathon finish). Nice beach in Tahoe. She also showed us the start of the Ultra (some unmarked spot on the trail). We then arrived at the Horizon where the expo was going on. After thanking Lucia for the ride, I went in and sat in at Bart Yasso’s presentation. He actually stopped the presentation to say “Is that Quicksilver? He is one of the guys doing the Tahoe Triple”. He asked how I did in day 1 and day 2, which I went ahead and shared. When asked to predict the outcome tomorrow, I said 5:30. Everyone laughed.

After having my cinnabon and soda, I showered and then went right back to the expo. Lucia was giving a 4-4:30 briefing for the ultra which was canceled. Anyway, Les Wright explained what happened and admitted it was all his fault. Everyone would be welcome back next year when the ultra permits will be top priority. Lucia wasn’t looking forward to the briefing (she is the ultra RD), but it turned out really well. I won’t go into the details here, just that it got canceled but it will be on again next year.

I did run into Yolanda and talked to Jeannette. Both are just doing the Triple. Oh, Jeannette/LT/Levi had to ask Guillermo for a ride; I remember having problems in 2007 (a guy from Reno gave me a ride). I was just lucky this time that Lucia offered.

LT is bummed about not being able to complete his Triple. He said he twisted his knee trying to adjust his footing to avoid blisters that were forming. Saw him hanging out with Ed Walsh at the Incline Village turn. Too bad really.

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Day 1 Start -- Inspiration Point

Day 1 Start -- Inspiration Point

General Information:

84 degrees, 38 degrees at start. Pope Beach to Spooner Point. 6500 to 7100 feet.

Packed my Camelbak 42 ounce, salt tabs, 3 Gus. Also took handtowel and shirt for the finish.


Met a few maniacs at the dinner. Most were excited, since it was their first Triple. Didn’t eat much–listened to Bart Yasso gave a talk. Was happy to see Yolanda do the triple again. LT, Levi, and Jeannette were our newbies. Ed Walsh would give course support to Maniacs. Said Hi to Lucia Lake; funny that I did see her with her son on the plane coming from Orlando back in 2008.

Woke up at 3:00AM. I don’t know–seemed the right call at the time. I just sat and watched the movie “The Hangover” in my hotel room at Harvey’s. Left for the bus pickup over at the Horizon (next door) at 5:45AM.

Day 1 start had cool temps. No problem. Didn’t line up as I took a start photo. No one seemed to care. I did stand near the start rifle so the blast was ear-splitting.

I started out in the back, and soon fell in to the second cluster. Last year I was with the first cluster who made it in to the summit first. This year, I didn’t mind holding back so I could keep my energy up for the three days.

I proceeded to pass the second cluster of folks, only because I’m a bit of a fool for running downhill. I knew most of them would catch me later because of my plan to come in at 4-plus hours. So the first 6 miles coming down into South Lake Tahoe near Pope’s Beach was around 8:30 pace. I then slowed it down to 9:30s in town, adjusting for the traffic.

I ran with a group of 4 quick runners, exchanging spots for the first 13 miles. At every 6 miles, I would take a walking break to take in Gu, two salt tabs (which was the right choice), and then water before continuing on. People would catch me during these breaks, but no matter. I didn’t feel my energy flag during the entire 26.2. I did stop by every time I saw Ed Walsh providing aid. Did it for Todd too. Good to shoot the breeze with fellow Maniacs anyway. One of the aid stations was run by Lucia Lake and Bart Yasso (yup, the man). Stopped there as well.

At mile 12+, I noticed my right calves cramping. Don’t think it was dehydration, maybe the effect of altitude. This would slow me down more than anything. No problems with breathing the air; wasn’t struggling at all. Ehhh, maybe there is some effect anyhow–since my muscles were quicker to fatigue.

As I planned, took some photos on the course. Didn’t cost any more time. Anyway, started slowing down due to the cramping after mile 15. My pace at this point was 10-ish, a little slow but I wasn’t too concerned. Called it my training run at altitude.

The runners in that second cluster would start catching me around miles 20-26. These are the climbing miles anyway. What was notable about these miles is that I ran 90% of it. Slow, but I still ran the hills. I pulled one guy up mile 23, but he was too fatigued to continue.

The heat made itself known at miles 22-26, which is a consistent climb at 6% grade. I was happy I took the salt tabs because I never felt like needing much water. But I also had the 42-ounce bladder which was 1/3 full by the time it was all done.

I finished the run at 4:29. Not too shabby. In 2007, I completed this first section in 4+ I think. I changed into a dry shirt at the finish line. Took a can of root beer and water. Hit the spot. Also had me some Powerbar Gel Blast (cola flavor).

Waited for the maniacs to come in. Deo made it in at 4:50. Levi came in at 5:15. LT came in at 3:43 (fast!). Jeannette came in at 5:45. Yolanda and her friend came in at 6:30. Ed Walsh and Bart Yasso offered rides back so that was super-cool!


I had minimal taping on my feet, just extra taping for the mid-foot. Worked out well. No blisters.

I bought a cinnabon bun and large soda. It really hit the spot! The maniacs group decided to stop by at Sprouts to eat. Ordered a vege burger, root beer, and a strawberry shake. Very nice meal indeed. Bart delighted us with some of his photos. Funny man. LT, Jeannette, Ed Walsh, Levi, Bart Yasso, and me. Plenty of stories.

Got my stuff ready for Day 2 before turning in.

(Photos when I get back)

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Hey, get off that couch and start working out will you?

I figure, I’m totally allowed to watch from the sidelines sometimes since I put myself through the ringer also.  Take the Ironman–it’s a day-long race lasting as much as 17 hours.  Following it is a blast because you get to see how fast people are going, how their nutrition is going, and generally if their energy is holding up through the long 140.6 mile race.  Plus, if you plan it well enough–you can see your teammates finish on live feed (at least for IM branded events).  Unfortunately, this is about the only type of race you can track someone like this.

Running events are too short, lasting under 6 hours for the most part.  So best one can do is to read through race reports that runners put on the blogs.  If written well enough, you can get a sense of how hard it can be to push yourself through miles of running.  Running may be natural for our forebears thousands of years ago, but many of us have began the slow integration into couch+technology.  Pretty soon, we’ll just be blobs next to our TV sets.

I figure too, I read the race reports of athletes I know to get intel.  Sometimes inspiration.  Sometimes encouragement.  Training for a race can be so monotonous.  And you do get interesting tidbits that allow you to avoid certain situations that may cause you some grief.

Yeah, a blog full of race reports become monotonous at some point as well.  After all, a sports blog is a sports blog.  If someone talks about sports in face-to-face conversation, anyone only has patience for a minute or two and then you want to get away.  A blog is pretty much hour upon hour of gee-whiz sports rambling.

From thousands of words, you can stumble upon something inspirational.  It strikes me sometimes when I run into my Kona posts.  Was I really there?  Damn dude!  It’s been a while.

Anyway, hope my one-dimensional sports blogging keeps you occupied for a while.  Hopefully, you’ll be so inspired you’ll spend more time outside than in front of the TV monster.  Maybe not.

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Haven’t thought about it much. But at the same time, am looking forward to going back to see the area again.

If you didn’t already know, this event is a series of 3 marathons over 3 days. Each segment is 26.2 which when added together amounts to slightly more than the whole length of Lake Tahoe. We start a little north of South Lake Tahoe and trace the highway around the lake going counter-clockwise.

The technical nature of this series is that it takes place at 6800-7500 feet above sea level. The air is thin but manageable. But you do have to contend with the hilly terrain and also the effects of altitude. And then add to that the wear-and-tear of running 26.2 miles over 3 days.

I’ve done it before. Knowing about what I’m facing makes me wiser I guess, but I still have to cover the 78.6 miles. So the plan is to run each segment as close to sub-4 as possible, but treat it like an ultra. Hopefully this plan will stick in my head. This series is one of those events that is unforgiving if you just do stupid running. Keep everything even and consistent, and you’ll get to the third day okay. There is no need to race this one. Just finish, day-by-day.

It’s going to be fun!!!!!

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Perceived exertion and pace

I’m studying this right now.  The idea is to match your exertion with your energy level.  When you force your way to a faster pace before your body is ready, that is an invitation to bonking.  Whereas if you start even with your energy level, then you allow your body to catch up to the exertion level.  So you can endure longer at race pace, than engage in a fight-or-flight type response.

The more difficult thing to get a handle on is how to relax into a fast pace.  Just about anyone can harness the natural energies to fly out of an emergency situation.  When you engage in a race environment, you want to stay at that fast pace longer.  Here is the irony–you can’t train like you race.  The race environment changes the body’s responses so that you can’t mimic these things in training.  So if you train at 5:15 pace (assuming that is your max) in training, it will not be the same 5:15 in a race–just because of all the things that come up.

I’m beginning to understand how energy levels affect how someone races.  Especially its effects in the latter part of the event.  I’m presently experimenting on getting a level of relaxation while running at 5:15 pace; it’s not easy because the normal response is that your heart rate goes sky-high and your breathing becomes labored.  I’m trying to see if I can delay these or maybe allow my body to manage it so I can stay at that pace.

Stay tuned…

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Who knew?  She is a fast marathoner who decided to try triathlons.  In her first IM (Ironman Wisconsin), she won her age group and also was fourth in top age grouper finishes at that IM-branded event.  Because of the level of competition, getting 1st in the AG is nothing to sneeze at.

She was 5th in her AG off the bike.  Going into her strongest skill, she reeled them in steadily until she was 1st in her AG by the 14th mile.  I checked the top 10 in her AG and saw that she was the only one maintaining that pace, so it was  a safe bet that she would make it to Kona at the end of the race.  And by golly, she did!  The gap to 2nd place was 35 minutes!

She could be visiting Kona over and over the way she’s going.  Have fun in Kona, Sue!

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The usual warnings–know your limits. Talk to your doctor before engaging in strenuous exercise. I know these things work because I experiment on myself, but results vary because each person is different. I’m just sharing, so no coaching relationship is implied. Use this information at your own risk.

Only got one speed? Often wonder why some runners suddenly leave you in the dust when you are already going on all cylinders? It may help you to work on accelerations.

At least initially, the quickest way to get introduced to it is to run the last 5% of a workout much much faster than the first 95%. If you are doing multiple intervals, then this percentage applies to each interval. If I have a 10 minute run, then I would hit 9 minutes at 80% effort and then the last minute at 90%. If I’m running 400s at track, I’d run the last 50 at 90%. Of course you can’t mix this with pacing work, so you have to make up your mind whether it is a straight zone 3 work or acceleration work. I use the percentages loosely–80/20 or 90/10 will also work.

The idea of being able to switch speed on is a matter of training your body to do it. I can handle spikes in heart rate easily. My training also allows me to lower my heart rate to more manageable levels even when running at 7:30 pace. So if your running is set up on consistent pacing, then chances are you can’t switch speeds mid-run. I think this is where the practice of fartleks allow the runner to run off-pace as the need arises.

Now accelerations can occur at any time of course. When training with intervals, you can make a game of it and put the accelerations in front or in the middle (first third, half, last third). The idea here is to sense 80% effort versus 90% effort. If it all blends in, then you lose the training effect of punching speed. If you can have this kind of workout once a week, then you will become a very different runner.

Yes it is true that the only way to run fast is to run faster. Consistent pacing gets you a finish time you want. But work on accelerations will allow you to respond to race conditions as the need arises. You might even have fun with it. In any case, you’ll rediscover the joy of running again!

Run safe and have a great time!

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It’s not pretty. The slow march to progress continues.

Post-track workout report.

I couldn’t sustain my usual Z3s at 6:30, so I decided early on to try to get some fast 400s in and just rest in-between. Weird stuff going on in my body.

0400 Z3 6:28
0800 Z3 7:47 7:47/7:47
1200 Z3 6:36 ~5:55/8:00/~5:55
1600 Z2 9:13
1200 Z3 6:29 ~5:55/8:00/~5:55
0800 Z3 7:36 ~5:55/8:30
0400 Z3 6:02

So I wasn’t sticking to the workout today. Instead, I tormented the faster guys by buzzing by them while they stick with the upper Z3 pace at 6:10 or something. A few did decide to use me as a rabbit today, which is all good.

I estimated that in the faster laps I hit sub-6s easily.  In fact, I was attempting to hit 5:15 or lower in the straight-away.  I finally figured out this breathing thing at Z3 or higher which allows me to run further, so running faster 400s is my way of removing perceived notions about how fast I can run.  In full-stride, I can get to sub-5s; the more pedestrian turnover gets me around 5:20.   I’m still looking at my Garmin 405 to find out how fast “fast” is, but I’m relying on it less and less to establish pace.  Now that is progress.

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Precise, careful, logical.  Shoots like an arrow, shatters the senses, pierces the silence, and impresses the soul with the point.

Unsheathed,  a dagger, reverberating, sending, marring.  Anger is general, poison, un-localized, un-gentlemanly.

Poetry, musical, artistic, indirect, minstrels, spires of melodies, strings of tones and thoughts, inspired, abstract, lingers.

Speech, leads, impresses, politics, teaches, mis-leads, thoughts of the few over the many, society, humanity, war, poverty.

Words, tools, eyes, mouth, mind, the senses.  Precise, careful, logical.

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