Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Holcomb Valley Recap

Holcomb valley 15 mile trail race.

I had originally signed up for the 33mile race, but at the last minute, changed my mind to race the 15mile option. I am happy I did.

After running the Shadow of the Giants, I thought it would be wise to not overdo it and run a good solid race with the 15mile option. Between the shadow of the giants and Holcomb I only ran once. I went to big bear on Saturday, and stayed at a local hotel. Other club members from the OCTRAIL club also stayed at the same hotel. I felt well rested going into the race.

Race morning, I set the alarm for 5am, and went to the local am/pm for a hot cup of coffee. Wow I did not realize how cold it was outside, I had the shakes… I noticed there no cloud cover, which told me that will be very clear and hot.

I arrived at the race site, and chatted with the other runners that were doing the 33mile race. 30min later our 15 mile race started. This was my first trail race where they put us in waves. I was of course in the last wave. The race course was very rocky or technical at the start which reminded me of one of my local training runs at Modjeska canyon trail.

At the 4 or 5mile mark it opened up onto a smooth rolling fire road. I tried to stay in the shade as much as possible. I tried to maintain a constant pace throughout, I noticed plenty of free range horses out on the field and I forgot where I was for a while. The course was well marked if you follow the arrows. Towards the end I realized I could break my 3hr goal. I couldn’t open into full stride going down a rocky single track, just too risky. I was using this lady way ahead to help me pace myself in…Then I passed here, BUT now I was in the front with about 1/2mile left I was lost track of the arrows and orange ribbons. Going into the parking lot of the finish I was supposed to make a hard right, well I went straight. They lady I passed said I was going the wrong way, at this point I was way off track. I finished at 3:01, now knowing the course next year, I should shatter that time. This particular race was very well supported with volunteers and post race goodies. I recommend this race to anyone considering do a short trail race in the mountains.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Shadow of the Giants Recap

Shadow of the Giants is not to be confused with Ave of the Giants that was my mistake when opting out of running a marathon in May. For other reasons besides not having any desire to run on the road, I thought running inside the forest would be fantastic opportunity to explore. After several dozen of emails going back and forth Charlie on how long it would take to drive to the race site. I soon discovered my assumption of the race he was talking about was about 450 miles in a different direction. Shadow of the Giants was held in a small town called Fish Camp, CA which is located 60miles away from Fresno, CA or about 2 miles away from the entrance of Yosemite Park.

Fast Forwarding to a few days before the event and again several dozen back and forth messages on our group board at OCTRAILRUNNERS.ORG someone that should remain nameless but resides in Riverside, suggested we take totally different route that would have added about the same time it would taken me to complete my journey at the race 8hr 29min. Nonetheless we managed to trim the drive time considerably by almost the same time it took iMichelle to complete the race.

Our carpool consisted of 3 outstanding athletes Eric, Jennifer, and Paul. When we arrived at our meeting destination in Irvine @ 8:28am, I believe none us read the memo on 1 piece carry on.

After taking off on the freeway I thought there was something very strange with the car, I thought to myself that the aliment was off because we kept swerving in and out the lanes or that Paul had too much of his “special brownies”.

On the drive up most of the conversation was centered on upcoming races etc… Once we arrived at Fish Camp, we quickly unpack and settled into our cabins. About the cabins, I had flashbacks to 6th grade camp. But for $12 bucks a person I am not going to complain. I recommend this race to the group all the way, I think next year we all should sign up early and have a strong presence on the course. We all checked in and I had the privilege of meeting #!O BAZ for the first time. I heard so much about him, he is very knowledgeable and likeable guy. I would like to have a beer with him and hear his stories. After receiving our race materials we were all very hungry and headed back to town for a bite to eat, haircut, and accessory shopping. After we ate at Round Table, we had some time to spare, Paul took the opportunity to get his haircut, this would help in aero-dynamics on the trails, and Eric passing time decided get some sandals. Being the metro-sexual males that we are- I was considering a pedicure next to hair place. I think Jennifer was wondering how and heck did I connect with these FREAKS! Jennifer handled it pretty well and went with the flow.

We arrived back at our cabin, and started to settle into our pre-race routine. BUT then came “Charlie and the Caffeine factory” I can only imagine how Charlie managed to drive x amount of hours with 3 children in the car. Being bottled up they had a tremendous amount of energy to unleash. Nonetheless, we decided to change cabins that way the whole group can sleep under the same roof. Time went by pretty quickly as we all were preparing for the race, my normal bed time is around 8:45pm, and I think our group was used to 10 or 11pm. I tried to go with the flow but couldn’t resist counting sheep.

Race morning went as planned, the air was crisp and cool. We all awaited last min instructions from the RD. Then we were off at 7:08am, the first 4-5 miles was a very steady climb. I wanted to conserve my energy and use it towards the end of the race but that will serve as futile. As I approached the first aid station, the volunteer told me there was no more water, huh? Apparently the big jug fell over; more water was on its way. I continued to run to the next aid station at mile 9. At this point I felt “FLAT” my legs lacked that extra pep maybe it’s the altitude? I found myself walking sections that I would normally run, and down sections that I would normally hull butt. Between the 2nd aid station and 3rd aid station is where I think I had a mental challenge. During this 7mile stretch, I left my fanny pack upon. I lost all of my “goodies”; these were goodies that I needed to finish the race. I stopped several times to look back and hoped that people behind me would pick it up. Finally I saw a small group they told me your stuff is about 2miles away.

I had no concept mileage at this point because my garmin was not picking up a signal due to the tall trees. I continued to trot to the 3rd aid station and there was Charlie, I briefed him on my empty fanny pack. He told me he would put something together, while I had to run a 1 mile loop. 11mins later, Charlie had gathered some goodies together and I was well on my way to the next aid station. At this point I was pretty tired, my legs were sore & I was tired of listening to my iPod. Mentally I think I checked out of the race when I lost my stuff, I just wanted to finish and enjoy the views. I finally reached the last aid station and it seemed like an eternity to reach the finish. When I finally finished I saw Jennifer, Eric, Charlie and iMichelle. It was great feeling to complete another ultra.

Post Race consisted of a lot of eating and laughing on our long trip back home. We made several stops at some very smelly gas station stops. There was one restroom were I think they had the heater on, and I paid $2.18 for a 16oz water. The ride home was very hilarious; Paul the driver was hesitant to ride in the carpool lane because it was too narrow. He also informed us that he had slight night blindness.

Overall I had a great experience, I was able to strengthen relationships, experience fantastic views, and learned how to deal with adverse situations. I will put this race on my race calendar for 2008.

Edited by Paul Nguyen

6 “weird” things about me

Since E-Rod tagged me, It's my turn to join in on the fun :)

“Each player of this game starts with 6 weird things about himself or herself. People who get tagged need to write a blog entry of their own as well as state the rule clearly. In the end, you need to tag 6 people as well and list their names. Don’t forget to let them know they’ve been tagged!”

1. I voted for the first time on American Idol this year.
2. I enjoy watching Dancing with the stars, House, Travel channel, and food network (Rachel Ray rocks)
3. I am a picky eater everything has to be customized. I am allergic to garlic, onion, green peppers etc..
4. On my iPod I have Justin's Sexy Back, and other yoga related music.
5. I am always late to work, but on time for training runs.
6. I associate myself with a cult running group.

So, I'm tagging Jon, Jeff,