Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 Oakland Half Marathon Race Report

It was chilly and grey out this morning, i.e. perfect conditions for running.  A little bit of wind, but not too horrible.  The chilly temps had us shivering at the start a little, but I managed to resist the temptation to wear long sleeves or arm warmers.

Gun went off at 9am and we were off.  I lined up at the 8'00" pace marker, and so it took a little while to get across the timing mat.  Once through the arch, though, the field spread out a little, I found a line along the right side curb and zoomed off.  A combination of adrenaline + wanting to warm up contributed to a sub-7'00" first mile, but I managed to cool my jets and settle into a nice 7'26" pace.  Prior to the start, my intention was to aim for 7'45", but I was feeling good and HR was in the zone, so I decided to focus on stride and breathing and hold that pace for as long as I could.

Ran for a little while with a guy who was out from Utah visiting his family and decided to register, and that helped keep the pace nice and even.  I think he started to get a little gassed after we turned off Mandela Parkway, though, because I started to pull away form him once we got into some headwind.  The wind wasn't blowing hard, but it was annoying, slowing my pace down to about 7'36".

One difference from last year was our route around Lake Merritt.  Instead of running down Grand, we actually ran along the path that hugs the lake inside Lakeside Park.  I understand why they did it, but it had some drawbacks: 1) no spectators to cheer you on, 2) narrow pathway making for difficult passing, 3) more elevation change over the segment, 4) MUD!  Those factors contributed to a slightly slower pace through the park, but once out I got back up to 7'29".

Around mile 12, I was starting to feel my legs, but then I looked down at my watch and saw that not only was I totally on track for a PR time, but a sub-1:40:00 was within my reach, so I put my race face on and dug a little deeper.  Ran the final full mile at 7'23", and managed to eke out 7'13" for the final kick.  No sprinting across the finish, but man I felt good!

Just as I crossed the finish line, I saw the gun time clock tick over to 1:40:00, so I knew I had bested that.  My Garmin had me at 1:39:43 over 13.4 miles (because I think the Garmin counts all of your lateral movement across the road as distance, as well).

My official results:
  • Chip time: 1:39:38 (personal best Half Marathon time)
  • Gun time: 1:40:02
  • Overall placing: 180
  • Sex placing: 148
  • Division [M35-39] placing: 30
Splits from my Garmin (over 13.4 miles):
  1. 6:53
  2. 7:23
  3. 7:23
  4. 7:22
  5. 7:26
  6. 7:26
  7. 7:32
  8. 7:36
  9. 7:38
  10. 7:38
  11. 7:29
  12. 7:34
  13. 7:23
  14. 2:54 (7'12")

Thursday, March 24, 2011

One more great reason to ride with a GPS

Came across this great article by way of the Twitterverse today.  Needless to say, I agree 100%!  I've often thought that perhaps GPS data could be helpful in the event you have to fight a bogus ticket for running a stop sign, as well.

Here it is: Why Every Cyclist Should Ride With GPS

Thanks to @sfc750 for retweeting the reference to the article!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Almost there! Oakland Half Marathon in 4 days!

Well, here we are, 4 days to go before the Oakland Half Marathon.  Excited to run this race for a couple of reasons.

First of all, the inaugural 2010 Oakland Running Festival was a total blast!  The whole city came out to support the participants, even in parts of town where you might not have expected it.  There were church choirs singing for the runners going by, lots of unofficial water / orange wedge stations, cowbells galore, flaming steel and bronze arches, you name it.  The complimentary beer and massage at the finish line were pretty kick-ass, too.

Second, while running is fun, I want to focus on the bike!  This is my second (and last) big running event of my self-imposed short running season this year.  Once it's over, I plan on 4-5 days a week on the bike, with at least 3 of them being pretty hard days.  Even with just the once-a-week hard interval workout I've added to my regular Wednesday 55+ mile bike commute (that I try to ride at a reasonably fast/hard pace) and Friday group lunch ride (which includes one 4th category climb and a highly-contended sprint on Arastradero Rd.), I have noticed big gains in my fitness and perceived power (I don't have a power meter, so all I can go on here is performance vs. perceived effort).  This is getting me pretty excited about being able to lay a good foundation this year for some cyclocross racing in the winter and getting serious about road racing next season.  Of course, I'd still like to dabble a bit in road racing this season, but my crash during Early Bird Criterium #2 dealt me a small setback, both in terms of training and my own skittishness.  We'll have to see how the calendar works out.

Am I ready for it?  Yah, I think so.  I have to admit I've been pretty lazy about foot race training this season.  I was enjoying all the time on the bike and only really running 2 days a week (a long run on Monday morning, and a 5-miler on Thursday at lunchtime), while Wednesday, Friday, and the occasional Sunday were all about the bike.  Well, over the last few weeks, I've been putting in some harder efforts in my running shoes (but still only a couple of days a week).  Last Monday, I clocked in a tad over 11 miles at around an 8'00" pace and felt just great.  I can definitely push out 13.1 this Sunday, and maybe even at a 7'40" pace.  Though, in all seriousness, I just want to finish, have a good time, and not totally suffer like I did at the KP Half in February where got dehydrated out in the sun around mile 8, legs popped, and finished > +00:02:00 over the previous year's run.

Anyway, to any of my readers who live in Oakland, come on out and represent your city too all the runners participating in the Oakland Running Festival this Sunday, March 27!  And bring a cowbell!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

So, why DO I ride 55+ miles to work, anyway?

Wednesday is my regular "ride my bike to work" day, which may not seem all that exceptional except that I live in San Francisco and work in Cupertino, a 55+ mile one-way commute. After this morning's ride, as I usually do, I uploaded my GPS track to Strava and posted it to Twitter (which also forwards it to my Facebook page ... ah, the world we live in today).

While I was standing in line at the cafeteria waiting for my hard-earned spinach and artichoke pizza, I noticed that one of my friends commented on my ride's Facebook post:
"Dude!  You are crazy."
This got me thinking.  Am I crazy?  Sometimes I'm pretty sure my wife thinks I am.  But, if I'm crazy, then surely these other guys (and gals, from time to time) who I ride with must also be crazy.  Maybe there's something in the water...

As I thought about it some more, I decided that, no, I am not crazy (which is, of course, what most crazy people think, but that's beside the point).  I actually have perfectly good reasons for doing this!  Perhaps I should enumerate them!  So, here goes:

  1. Aerobic exercise is good for your heart, lungs, and a whole bunch of other body parts.  This, in turn, will hopefully allow me to live longer (and healthier), which, I assume, my family will appreciate.
  2. I have 2 young kids.  You need to be in pretty good shape to keep up with them.  See #1.
  3. It keeps me thin.  Pretty sure my wife like this.  See #1.
  4. If I'm not currently concerned about being at race weight, I can eat pretty much anything I want.  This includes ginormous piles of carnitas (which, oddly enough, I haven't had for a while... must take corrective action).
  5. Except for the rare occasion, I sleep really, really well.  Not enough, mind you (see #2), but that's a whole different problem.
  6. It's fun!  I really, really, really like to ride my bike.  I'd do this 5 days a week if I could afford the time.
  7. I often ride with some really cool people whom I probably would not have met if not for SF2G, which in turn I would not have found if I hadn't been riding 55+ miles to work from San Francisco.
  8. It makes me feel happy, good, at peace with the world, etc.  This is more than just the garden variety kind of happy you get from doing something fun.  This is more like the happy / good / at peace I imagine one feels after some quality meditation time.  Of course, I also like to ride hard, which puts pain in the legs (and and sometimes a number of other places), so maybe this is just the endorphins talking.  But hey, I'll take it.
  9. When I get to work, I feel like I've already accomplished something big.  Hey, I just pedaled my ass off for 3'ish hours!  If I can do that, I can take anything that work dishes out.  Never underestimate the value of this.  I work at a company that can, at times, be a serious pressure cooker, and so for me, this is huge.
  10. It gives me an excuse to fire up the stove late at night to mix up batches of tan liquid comprised of brown rice syrup, dextrose powder, sea salt, and water.
Well, there's my short list of 10 reasons.  I'm sure there's a few more lurking around in my head, but I'm kind of tired (see #5) and have to knock out a couple of things for work before conking out for the night.

So, dear readers... how about you?  Do you ride your bike to work a long enough distance that your friends / significant other think you're a little bit nuts?  Do you do absurd things like look for ways to make your commute longer, as I often do?  What are your reasons for doing it?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

This is the best way to get to work... Period.

Last week, 7 of us set out from Peet's Coffee at Fell & Broderick to embark on, hands-down, the best route into work in the known universe.

Although, to be honest, this post is mainly to check out Strava's new embed-ride-into-blog feature :-)