Races we loved

Below is a slideshow of some of our favourite runs.

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Steve Skegg “Our Man in America” aims to run 50 races in 50 different states. You can find extracts from his race reports here.

Race number 36: Colorado

Beautiful day, sunny, no wind. Cold. About 46F at the start, but it felt colder with the dry air. So I wore gloves which I didn’t stow away until mile 5. Changed the singlet for a T shirt before the start but probably shouldn’t have. Temperature at the end was maybe 70  but it felt hotter, strange? A well organised race, lots of water stops & signs to keep you on the right trail.  Start / Finish area was well laid out with lots of signs so you knew where things were. Because it was all off road, not a single cop or traffic marshal. A nice low key race and a good getaway event. Everything from a 5km to a marathon, take your pick. All very small. The ½ was the biggest event at 113. There were only 56 in the marathon.

I was worried about the altitude, 5200 ft. and how I would run in that, as it was a new experience for me. So I started out slow & easy. After all my race was getting a BQ at the Santa Rosa marathon 3 weeks ago, so now it’s all about having fun, enjoying the scenery & moving along the goal of 50  ½’s in 50 states. BTW I have signed up for the 2017 Boston Marathon, so watch this space in April 2017.

The air was clean, fresh & definitely felt  “thin” so I just carried on slow & easy. Very picturesque course, definitely a trail, the start was on rocks……….. well stones, about a couple of inches square, so not exactly smooth and something you had to be careful running over. Over the course of the race ( is that a pun?) we had concrete, gravel, more stones and even some asphalt. Not a road race for sure. It was a small race, so most of the time you were on your own with another runner a few yards ahead and behind. There were a couple of turnarounds, at mile 5 and 8 as we ran along the edge of a reservoir, mountains in the background. I thought I was doing ok as you can gauge your place at the turnarounds but with the multiple distances, even though we set off at different times, there might have been an issue. The marathoners set off 30min in front of us and I think I was catching the tail end folks in my last few miles, I was for sure overtaking 10km’s as well, so it was a bit confusing as to what was going on.

The turnaround at mile 8 led to some downhill for quite a way as you can see from the splits. We met up with the “out’ part of the course around mile 10. By then I was feeling ok so just kept going, though still mindful of blowing up from lack of Oxygen. I wasn’t sure what to expect, (e.g.  is blowing up the right term?)  so I didn’t push it. As there wasn’t anyone around me, it didn’t make sense too. So the overall time was one of my slowest ½’s, but so what I wasn’t there for speed. The left heel was fine during the race but is not happy this evening as I type this up. Hopefully it will feel fine soon, maybe?  Otherwise no damage a rest can’t fix.

At the awards I won a raffle prize, so I now have one pair of new Gel Nimbus 18’s for free, thanks to Roadrunner Sports! A nice bonus.

Some interesting race statistics, 113 finishers, 71 female, 42 male. I was 13th overall  and 7th / the 42 males! So there were some fast girls out there.  First in M 60-69 ag but there were only two of us! The second placed guy was 28 minutes behind me. I also beat the first 50-59 year old male by 9 minutes and was the second 40-49 year old by 10 minutes.   8.18 average pace on my watch, 8.23 official. Slower pace than Santa Rosa, but there was this elevation thing going on!

So all in all it was a good day at t’ office!

Race nr 35:  Santa Rosa Marathon, California

This was my third and last attempt to qualify for Boston in April 2017, so the pressure was on. The first challenge was to find an August marathon with predictable cool temperatures & low humidity, I don’t run well in either, particularly high humidity.

Santa Rosa being just north of San Francisco seemed as good a choice as I could make and so it proved. Temperatures at the 06.00 start were right around 50 and it was still in the 50’s, just, at the finish. It was a bit on the humid side though. Very little wind and overcast, about as good as it could get.

So here’s the executive summary:-

First the good news. A very scenic course. In my top 3 after Big Sur and Napa. Essentially flat though some noticeable rolling downs & ups between miles 11 and 17. Miles 2.5 to 8 and 20 to 26 were on a trail next to a creek, very pretty, flat and peaceful. Between 8 and 20 we were out in the country looking at vineyards. Very nice. The second great thing was the speed the results went up, something like an hour after the finish they were being posted. The rest of the story is not so much fun.

I would have thought it would be well organised seeing it was the 8th annual (and had a race for everyone, from marathon to 5km), but it wasn’t, far from it. First the expo at a winery was nice & al fresco but used the scatter gun layout approach. Same went for the organisation of the start. I was allocated coral 2 but got into 1, which was the right place, easily enough. The first 2.5m were on city streets to spread out the pack before the trail. It wasn’t enough, not even close. It wasn’t until we came off the trail at mile 8 that it opened up & we could spread out. Next screw up was the front guys took a wrong turning just before mile 2. I got lucky & only lost about 50yds / 20 seconds or so, but I heard later some of them went a mile off course. We were still getting shouts of “runner coming through” and “on your left”  until we got to the end of the trail section. I feel sorry for those guys, particularly if they were chasing a BQ. The water stops were not great either. Not enough people and they didn’t know how to hand out water, so they tended to become log jams & pile ups. The finish was equally disorganised. The beer wasn’t opened when I got there………. A cardinal sin. Even when we went back after I had cleaned up at the hotel there was no sign saying “Awards” or anything helpful like that. We had to ask.  So organisation was not a strong point of this race to say the least, in fact probably one of the most screwed up races I have ever done.

As for my race, this is how it went:-

Started fine, it was still dark with sun up not due until 6.30. Apart from the directional SNAFU made it to the trail fine and cranked along. The intent was to run 8.00’s but I found myself settling in at 7.40’s and left it there. There were pace groups at 3.23, 3.28 and 3.33. I found myself pulling away from the 3.28 guys and then catching and getting ahead of the 3.23 ones, fine. After mile 12,  I needed a quick 75 second pit stop and returned right on with the 3.28 pacer, perfect! Again I pulled away from them & started to catch up to the 3.23 guys, but didn’t catch them. We were now back on the trail heading for home and I was fine with letting the 2.23 guys pull away. By this time I was starting to slow & concentrating on finishing without problems. The first calf cramp arrived around mile 21/22, just a twinge, but I knew what it meant so backed off a bit more. The 3.28 pace team came by around mile 23 and I was happy to let them go. I had to stay ahead of the 3.33 guys to get my BQ with 20min to spare, luckily I never saw them!. The second cramp twinge came around mile 25, the other leg this time, so I backed off even more. It was all about getting to the finish line running, the time didn’t matter now, it was going to be good enough. Crossed the line at 3.30.03 gun time & 3.29.26 chip & got a huge medal. Rose found me & helped me get a banana & water. I was hobbling and then the cramps hit. I was in agony for 20 minutes, trying to get salts into me. Eventually the worst past & I made it back to the car. For the rest of the day my calf’s & bottom left heel were on fire. Monday was a little better, Rose & I went for a four mile hike with some Redwoods to recover. I think that helped. Tuesday morning & the legs are still sore & tight but starting to feel like they are coming back to normal. The heel is improving as well, so it looks like no major damage has been done. However I know this has to be a slow & long recovery otherwise I will just be making trouble down the road.