DHS Alumni Cross Country Race

The 2011 DHS alumni cross country race turned out to be nearly identical to the 2010 DHS alumni cross country race. The course is a little bit tougher than a typical XC course, thanks to the addition of a long technical single track trail. There was a small handful of DACC/DHS/SHS runners ahead of me. I finished in 11:47 for the two mile course, just a few seconds faster than last year. I was once again the first alumni finisher, once again finishing a few seconds ahead of Jared Anderson, with Todd Orvis once again a few seconds further back. The major difference was this year I wore a hat.

1 mile into DHS alumni race

2011 halfway

First lap

2010 halfway

Finishing the DHS alumni race

2011 finish

Finish line

2010 finish

The race was a lot of fun. The whole extended family (parents, grandparents, aunt, cousins) came out to watch. I saw plenty of familiar faces, including my (now retired) high school coach who I probably haven’t seen since I graduated. Once again I went to the Custard Cup after the race, where I once again ran into Jared. And my grandparents.

The many hills of San Francisco

Last week the whole family was out in San Francisco while I attended Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). This was my ninth WWDC (two in San Jose and seven in San Francisco), missing out only in 2006 when Apple held the conference in August (for some reason) the week after we moved to Nicaragua.

The conference was good, even if the ridiculously growing size does get a little more frustrating each year. The technical sessions are all covered by non-disclosure agreements, so I won’t discuss any of them (as if you cared).

The keynote (which some of you may remember I participated in back in 2005) was also good. Unfortunately, due to the size of the conference I keep showing up earlier and earlier to get in line for the keynote and I keep ending up farther and farther back in line. I showed up a little over three hours early this year. The line was nearly one mile long, and I barely squeaked into some of the back rows of the conference room filled with over 5,000 people. The new iPhone looks pretty awesome. In fact, William just bought me one for Father’s Day. Wasn’t that nice?

Will in the big city

While we were there I purposely didn’t adjust to the different time zone so I would continue wake up early to go for a ride on the Pocket Rocket each morning before the conference. The first morning I tackled Twin Peaks, which, at over 800 feet above sea level, is one of the highest points in the city. Shortly after the climb begins it kicks straight up to 17%, which was a tough first hill for someone who lives in Illinois. It stays steep for a good long three city blocks before leveling out to a more reasonable 11-12%. Of course, it was super foggy that particular morning, so I couldn’t see anything at the top. If I could have seen anything it would have looked like this (photo from last year).

Market Street

Anyway, I had to hurry straight back in order to stand in a really long line for hours. It was just eight miles with a total of 850 feet of climbing entirely in the third and fourth miles.

The next day I rode up one of the steepest hills I’ve found in the city (Kearny between Broadway and Vallejo, the road is closed to traffic). It’s somewhere in the ballpark of 25-30%. I had to lean really far forward to keep from tumbling over backward. Yes, that steep… but only for a block. After that was Telegraph Hill up to Coit Tower. This climb was used in the prologue of the Tour of California the first few years of the race.

Financial district

But that was just the first few miles. I followed the bay shoreline to the Golden Gate Bridge and rode across to the Marin Headlands. I intended to climb Hawk Hill, but the road was closed half way up so I took a detour to somewhere I’d never been before, which was amazing.

Marin

Marin

Beach

Tuesday’s ride had 2200 feet of climbing in 26 miles.

Wednesday I took a break because I felt a little twinge in my calf after Tuesday’s ride and I didn’t want to risk making it worse. Fortunately the twinge only lasted a day and by Thursday morning I was back at it. I hit Twin Peaks again, this time better prepared for the steepness. Instead of turning around there I continued on through Golden Gate Park, Ocean Beach, past the Cliff House, the Legion of Honor, the Presidio (along the bike course for the Alcatraz Triathlon I did in 2003), across the bridge to the Marin headlands, and partway up Hawk Hill before turning around and heading home. Just for kicks I rode up Russian Hill and Nob Hill on the way back through town. Russian Hill on Hyde street is 23% for a few city blocks–too steep to sit, too steep to stop (you wouldn’t be able to start back up).

City

Grade

Thursday’s ride was 2800 feet of climbing in 27 miles.

Friday I tackled Mt. Tamalpais for the Nth time. Last year I rode Mt. Diablo instead, so I was happy to be back on familiar ground. After cool weather all week it was super hot on Friday. This made the mountain that much more difficult. I doubt I made my fastest ascent of the mountain that day, but I steadily knocked out each of the 10 miles from bottom to top.

Mt. Tam may not be as high as Mt. Diablo, but it sure is a lot more scenic, offering a lot more wooded areas, as well as ocean views.

Mt Tam

Mt Tam

Mt Tam

Mt Tam view

Mt Tam view

San Francisco from the top of Mt. Tam

Bridge and Mt Tam

Here’s the opposite view: Mt. Tam from San Francisco

Friday’s ride was 4114 feet of climbing (2500 on Mt. Tam) in 50 miles.

Saturday I skipped a ride in favor of lots of walking and hiking with the family. Here’s William and me hiking the coastal trail, which was part of the run course for the Alcatraz Triathlon I did in 2003.

Two sweaty guys hiking the Coastal Trail

We all had a great trip. Check out William’s blog for lots more family photos.

Danville Memorial Day 5K

Pondering

I ran my 3rd Danville Memorial Day 5K this morning. The race went well for me despite the hot and humid weather. I think I’m finally starting to acclimatize. Melissa was kind enough to let me borrow her girly watch when I discovered I’d left mine at home. I recorded my mile splits, but I tried something different (for me) by not actually looking at them and instead running solely on how I feel. It worked reasonably well.

#1 fan

My #1 fan

The pack started fast and I dropped into 12th place or so after ¼ mile. I moved up to 9th by ½ mile. I moved up to 4th by 1 mile. My split was 5:33, a bit fast. The 2nd mile was mostly into a headwind and I really worked hard to maintain my pace.

Easy come

Whoa, we’re half way there

Easy go

Whoa, living on a prayer

Spectators

Grandma Barb keeps an eye out for Will’s daddy

My next split was 5:55, a bit closer to what I expected. Amazingly, I still felt good at this point. That never happens. I continued to push the pace into the 3rd mile, but just a short distance later we hit a long wide open section with no shade and I absolutely baked in the sun.

Home stretch

The heat hurt me more the last mile than the running did. My 3rd mile split was also 5:55. One runner passed me around the 3 mile mark. I finished in 17:56 (I think, the results seem to be a bit off at the moment), 5th overall, 1st in my age group… identical results to last year.

This expression sums it up pretty well

This sums it up pretty well

Angelic

Will was enthralled

Award

It was a good race. Many thanks to Melissa, Will, and my parents for coming out to cheer me on. Also, thanks to my dad for taking the race photos.

ABQ

William already shared his insights on our trip to Albuquerque last weekend. I’ll add a few other random tidbits.

Albuquerque botanical gardens

I photographed the entire weekend with my (reasonably) new 30mm prime lens. Since it has a fixed focal length, zooming with this lens is extremely manual (i.e. the photographer must physically move). I was a bit concerned this might be too much of a burden, so I actually packed a zoom lens but I ended up not using it. Also, since it has a large maximum aperture of f/1.4 I was able to shoot a lot of indoor photos without a flash (which I didn’t even bother to bring).

Lying

The Albuquerque airport shares runways with an air force base. Fighter jets are super loud when they’re flying… and they’re even louder when they take off. It was kind of amusing to watch them take turns with the commercial jets. They were very loud even all the way across town.

Running at 6000 ft of elevation was definitely noticeable in the first few miles, though it didn’t seem to bother me much after that.

Albuquerque sunrise

New Mexico apparently has a lot of dinosaur fossils.

Snack

Albuquerque has Bicycle Boulevards with lane markings clearly indicating cyclists are entitled to the full width of the lane. Of course, this is true on nearly all public roadways… but most motorists don’t understand this.

Bicycle Boulevard

Bicycle Boulevard

Mexican food is quite popular.

The hand that feeds you

The Rio Grande has way more water in it in Albuquerque than it does downstream in El Paso/Juarez. I guess it’s all channeled away for irrigation.

Rio Grande

It’s really hard (impossible?) to get the white balance right when photographing an aquarium indoors with low light. Either we ended up too red or the water ended up to green.

Albuquerque aquarium

Dehydration, part two

Immediately after the finish of Hillsboro-Roubaix, when I felt like death warmed over, my only thoughts were “How in the hell am I going to run 20 miles tomorrow?” The Illinois Marathon is just three weeks away and this weekend was my last long training run before I begin to taper. Fortunately I recovered fairly well throughout the rest of the day and that night. When I woke up Sunday morning (after 10 hours of sleep) I didn’t feel completely terrible–almost like I could actually do the run.

I started running just after 8am. I definitely didn’t feel fresh, but I felt way better than I expected after the previous day in hell. The temperature was still cool (58F), but it didn’t feel cool to me. Just one mile in I was contemplating taking off my shirt. Ugh, here we go again. I had water with me and I drank regularly. I had chia gel (which is mostly water) with me and I ate regularly. It wasn’t enough.

I stopped back by home after nine miles to fill up my water bottle and drink a half liter of Gatorade. I went back out with a tank top, a new (dry) hat, and a soon-to-be-saturated wrist band to mop up some of the excess sweat. The temperature rose and I became more and more uncomfortable. What was I doing? I ran out of water at 14 miles, at the farthest point away from home.

I cut the run short… but not because of the dehydration. On top of the thirst I also experienced quite possibly the worst chaffing I’ve ever had while running. I don’t know how or why this happened, but I could do nothing about it. Every step was agony. One mile from home I drank for minutes at a water fountain on campus then I limped the rest of the way home. I felt refreshed. My legs actually felt no worse after 18 miles than they did at the start, which was one positive thing I can say about that run. The only other positive thing was that I covered most of the marathon course, including the one part I had never seen before. So now there can be no race-day surprises out on the course.

I spent the rest of the day eating and drinking everything in sight. My dad was nice enough to come over to help watch William while Melissa was running, because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. This was one of the more exhausting weekends I can remember, though my actual workouts weren’t that hard. The heat just got to me. I need to lock this down, otherwise this summer will be downright miserable.

The Great Room Swap of ‘010

For the past few months William has been getting up at night. A lot. Melissa heard from some of her friends who have babies Will’s age that they sleep better in a separate room. He’s been sleeping in our bedroom downstairs since he was born. We weren’t quite ready to put him in his own room all the way upstairs. After a brief conversation Friday evening we decided that we should move the office downstairs and move our bedroom upstairs right next to his. This way Will could sleep in his own bedroom and we wouldn’t be that far away. The problem is that our bed wouldn’t fit in the office, so we had to move Will’s room into the office and move our room into Will’s room. We basically decided to completely rotate the three bedrooms.

Great, so how do we do this? Each of these rooms has furniture (some if it quite large), and numerous smaller items. Also, Melissa is injured and can’t really carry anything. I arranged for my dad to come over on Sunday to help carry some of the largest items up/down stairs. But given the monumental size of this task I couldn’t wait until Sunday to get it started. All Saturday morning I pondered the best strategy to proceed while Will was napping in the Baby Bjorn strapped around me (which was just the start of a rough day for my back). When he woke up I got going.

Since three rooms would need to be rotated I started with an empty space in one room, moved one piece of furniture in, replaced that piece in the second room with a piece from the third room, then replaced a piece in the third room with a piece from the first room. And so on. Over the next 6-8 hours I disassembled our queen sized bed, a futon, a crib, a dresser, a desk, a filing cabinet, etc. and carried these items up/down stairs by myself. By the end of Saturday I was exhausted and my back was aching, but the move was over half completed.

Today I woke up and ran 12 miles. I took a short break to watch the Olympics 50km Cross Country Ski race. Then my parents arrived and we got to work moving the remaining desk, dresser, filing cabinet, changing table, and numerous smaller items. We got everything moved into the correct rooms. We still have a fair amount of work to go to get all the slightly differently sized closets organized.

We really should have done this move before Will was born, but we thought it would be too much work. Now that it’s (nearly) done I can say that it definitely was a lot of work, but I think it will be totally worth it.

The FOLEPI River Trail Classic

On Saturday morning I ran the FOLEPI River Trail Classic 4-mile race in East Peoria. This is a race that I had run once before (in 2003) and I liked it. This race is quite unique in that it is a point-to-point race which is almost entirely downhill (at railroad grade so it’s not steep at all, just fast Fast FAST). Since we were in Peoria for Thanksgiving I decided to give it another shot.

As Melissa pointed out to me before the race, yes, I am running a marathon next weekend. I’ve done very little speed work this fall, instead focusing on long distance. Still, what’s the worst that could happen?

Rob & Will before the FOLEPI River Trail Classic

Will and Rob pre-race

In my warm-up confusion I somehow caught the very last bus to leave the finish/registration area to head to the start. We arrived after the designated start time, though fortunately they waited. I hurried to the start line just in time to… stand around. After several minutes of waiting with little-to-no instructions a young woman (parade queen?) very softly said “Ready, set, go” at which point, I assume, the race started. I wasn’t really sure. My GPS had turned off during the long wait, so it was just as caught off guard as I was. I eventually got it going about 50 seconds into the race.

Every race has a handful of people who want to start at the very front who really have no business starting at the very front, and this race was no exception. In fact there seemed to be a greater number than usual, as it took me quite a while to pick my way through. I thought this would do well to slow me down, but it didn’t so much. The first mile was completely flat (the only flat part of the course) and I kept reeling in the fast starters. I crossed the 1-mile mark in 5:32. Hey, that’s the fastest mile I’ve run in probably six years. And I still had nearly an entire 5K race left to go.

On the one hand I thought I was probably going too fast. On the other hand I knew the next three miles were all downhill. That would help, but would it be enough? Instead of easing back I pushed on. I reeled in a few more fast starters with a 5:38 second mile. I hadn’t slowed down as much as I expected, but it took a lot out of me.

The third mile was much the same, slowing down a little bit to 5:43. As soon as I crossed the 3-mile mark a couple guys I passed earlier passed me back. Uh-oh. I was slowing down and the trail was starting to flatten out a bit. It was all I could do to not completely crack in the last mile. It wasn’t pretty, but I eked out a 5:51 4th mile. There were a few more runners hot on my heels by the finish, but nobody else passed me.

Rob finishing the FOLEPI River Trail Classic

So, I’m guessing my final time was somewhere in the ballpark of 22:44. Sure, it was mostly downhill, but still not bad for very little speed work. We left for Thanksgiving with my family right after the race ended, and the results haven’t been posted yet, so I don’t know my placing. Melissa and I both estimated somewhere around 15th place or so. In 2003 I ran 22:24 for 6th place, so the competition was much stronger this year. Anyway, I like this race for the sheer novelty of running three miles downhill, if nothing else.

Update: The results have been posted. I finished 15th overall (good estimate) and 2nd in the 30-34 age group.

The Gift of Brownies

Simpsons episode CABF14, Trilogy of Error:
Homer: Oooo! Can I have a brownie?
Marge: They’re for after dinner.
Homer: Oooo! Can I have dinner?

I am a brownie fiend. You all know it. I was fortunate to receive a very unique gift for my birthday a couple weeks ago, a gift certificate to an online gourmet brownie store (Vermont Brownie Company). I ordered a box of their Signature Brownies and a box of Peanut Butter Brownies.

Internet brownies

Oh. My. Goodness. Are they ever delicious.

Bittersweet

The first couple I ate cold, directly from the fridge, and they were good. But then I started to microwave them for 25-30 seconds, which is so much better.

Anyway, I love the brownies. Thanks so much to Michelle, Mark, & Logan!