Thought for the Day

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Longest Day 5 Mile

Apparently 6/19/2002 was the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. At least that's why this race was run on a Wednesday. There were a lot of unique things about this race. The setting is Coyote Point County Park, which has access to miles of paved trails on the edge of the San Francisco Bay. The race was on a Wednesday, in the middle of the week instead of a weekend. It was in the evening, after people got off work. It was age and gender handicapped. Because I was a male over 40, I got a two minute head start. Of course, there were similar head starts for older men, women, and children 15 and under.

I'm tired. It's late. Here are my splits:

3---22:29---4:33--8:48 for the 3rd mile?
4-missed it
5---37:16--14:47--7:24 avg for 2 miles

I'm not sure of the accuracy of the course measurement. Obviously the third mile was longer than the others. This was out and back on the same course, so miles 1 and 2 were the same as miles 4 and 5.

Unofficial time: 37:16
Official time: 35:16 (age handicapped)

I won a medal.
Well, they promised a medal to the first 100 finishers. There were only about 30 of us running. I didn't place near the top overall or in my age group. Well, you can't be totally out of the race with so few people there.
Not being sure of the distance, it's hard to know what this race means. It was a good workout, though.
There was a moment before the race. There was a strong cold wind blowing off the bay. I turned and faced the setting sun, and the wind was coming from exactly the same direction as the sunlight. I closed my eyes and stood still, feeling the wind and the sun warming and cooling me. When I opened my eyes a few moments later, everything seemed different. I was totally relaxed. That alone was worth the trip.
One more race. Five more race miles. With marathons in San Francisco and Silicon Valley coming soon, I should be able to keep up.

Tuesday, June 4, 2002

Nisene Marks Park Marathon/Redwood City Police 5K Foot Pursuit

This is a two race post with lots of background information. Sorry it's so long.

Forest of Nisene Marks Park Marathon

In the late '70s, and the '80s, my family lived in Aptos, CA, just outside of the Forest of Nisene Marks Park. We had four different ways of running from our house into the park. There were five of us Nairn brothers. Chris, being youngest, stayed there longer as the rest of us moved out.
Chris ran the Nisene Marks Marathon more than a decade ago. He says it might have been 1990, but it seems to me it must have been in the '80s. Even back then, I was running more than he was, but he's always been in pretty good shape. He did a triathlon and he once biked across the country for Bike-Aid.
I had been afraid to attempt a marathon. I didn't think I could deal with my blood sugar in a 26.2 mile race. Because of several things, technological advances like home blood glucose testing, the new, hometown Silicon Valley Marathon, hearing of other diabetic athletes, and starting to feel old, I finally became a marathoner in October of 1998.
When I ran the Nisene Marks Marathon in 1999, I asked my brothers if any of them would like to do it with me in the future. Chris promised that if I would come to Wisconsin to run a marathon with him, he would come to Aptos to run this race again, with me.
So last year we ran the Mad City Marathon together in Madison Wisconsin, and this year, Chris flew out here to run Nisene Marks.
Chris got here last Sunday. He said that he figured that he had three days to get in shape for the marathon. After I picked him up at the airport, we got lunch then went directly to the hills. Madison is flat, so Chris wanted to do some hill running. We did about six miles with some serious hills, and Chris did very well. It turns out that was the longest run he did in preparation for this marathon. He had only been doing about 4 miles on the treadmill two to four times a week.
The next day we went over to Aptos to join our oldest brother, Buddy, who was visiting with my Dad in Aptos. We went for a jog in Nisene Marks. Buddy kept saying he would do whatever distance we were planning to do, but looking at him, I knew that wouldn't work. We ended up jogging/walking about three miles. But we got a good look at the park again, experienced the terrain, and talked about lots of stuff. Buddy had talked earlier about possibly running the 5K, but after this trip with Chris and me, he decided not to.
Chris weighs about 200 pounds, but is fairly lean. He owns his own roofing business, and he does a lot of climbing up and down ladders carrying shingles and tiles. His arms are about three times the width of mine. I knew this wouldn't be easy for him, but I had seen him do many difficult things, including Mad City the year before, and I knew he would be okay.

This was to be my first marathon with my insulin pump, a good way to get started with it, a marathon I was just out to have fun with, not a race.
I gave some misinformation about this marathon earlier. I said that there was about a 1700 foot climb. Here is what the flyer for the race says:
"Marathon is out and back with an elevation gain of 2500 feet in the first 12 miles. There are two steep climbs on the course. One from mile 5 to mile 6 and the other from mile 10 to mile 11."
Okay, that might sound difficult, but I should inform you that that statement is not true.
The race starts in Aptos County Park, which is a meadow in a narrow ravine between steep hills on both sides. From the starting line, runners begin climbing out of the ravine, a rise of maybe 150 feet in 200 yards. Then the road levels out for about half a mile, where it comes to another ravine and dips down, following the curve of the hillside as you go down and back up, probably a 100 foot drop with the same climb on the other side.
So you see, the marathon really has two steep climbs in the first mile.
It is true that there are steep climbs from mile 5 to 6, and especially from mile 10 to 11, but these are just increases in the degree of the slope, which really begins around three miles and doesn't let up for more than a few hundred yards until you turn around just after the summit.
What can I say about the hill/mountain running in the Nisene Marks Marathon? How about this; my ears popped near the top going up, then again near the bottom on the way down.
We ran the first six miles in 1:04, and felt great with that. In Madison, Chris had started too fast even though I warned him he was ahead of the pace I would have run alone. This marathon, we started very conservatively, well to the back of the pack. After the first mile, the road is pretty flat for two miles. It goes from pavement to dirt, too. We made very good time there, and we really didn't slow down terribly as we started to climb. The steeper portion, on the former track of what they called the "incline railroad," is about 600 feet in one mile. We were feeling it, but running strong and reeling in runners who had gone out faster.
We reached Sand Point Overlook, 640 feet higher up at the nine mile point, in 1:37. There was no great view that day, though; it was too foggy. It had been somewhat foggy and drizzly at the start, and the weather didn't really clear until early afternoon. I ran the whole race in a short sleeve coolmax tee, and I was okay, but I would have been more comfortable in long sleeves.
After Sand Point, a sandstone outcropping that makes an opening in the redwood forest, most of the trees aren't conifers. It's oak and manzanitas. When it's not so overcast, the sun shines through more than it can in the redwood forest, and it can get warm. That was never a problem, though.
We maintained the same pace covering the next 4.1 miles and 900 feet in elevation change to reach the turnaround in 2:22. just climbing 900 feet would have been okay, but there were a couple of places where it dropped down and went back up again, just to make it interesting.
I think Chris was just awesome through this. There's something to be said for working hard for a living instead of spending your days working the imprint of your butt into an ergonomic chair.
I thought we would be able to coast down the mountain at pretty close to the same pace we went up. Actually, looking at the splits, we were doing very well as we went back to the Overlook. We hit it for the second time, the 17.2 mile point, in 3 hours.
But before we hit the next marker, six miles to go at 20.2, Chris started to run out of gas. We started to do a lot of walking. Looking at our pace through to the finish of the marathon, I realize that when we ran, we must have been running pretty fast. But we mixed in a lot of walking.
Here are the splits:


Time: 4:50:54
Place: 49th and 50th out of 63
Although I know I could run this marathon faster, I think this is a respectable time and position in this race. One of the reasons this marathon has a small field is the fact that a lot of people are justifiably intimidated by it.

Redwood City Police 5K Foot Pursuit

Like Nisene Marks Park, the course of this race had some history with me. I used to work at RealNames, one of those internet companies which just went out of business. It announced its "wind down" in May.
A few of my friends at RealNames used to run with me through that neighborhood after work. I wrote to a couple of them to see if they wanted to do this race.
I didn't put this race in the schedule because I wasn't sure I was going to be able to make it. First, I wasn't sure how I would feel the day after running Nisene Marks. Second, I wasn't sure if I could get my brother to the airport and get to the race on time.
Everything worked out. :-)
While I was trying to change into my running clothes discreetly in the parking lot by Oracle, where the race start and finish was, Benson and Will, the other former RealNames employees, walked up behind me.
We talked for a while about what we'd been doing. I'd just run a marathon. Benson had been running occasionally. Will had run a little, and had quit smoking, again, the day before. So we were ready to race.
We got to the back of the pack. The race director was up front saying something, but it didn't seem important. We heard a car horn and everyone started running. Oh, well, I guess it's time to go.
Although the course was certified, there were no mile markers or splits, which seemed really odd to me. I might have been perturbed by it if I cared about my time. I tried to run with Will and Benson, but Benson started to fall back on the one hill on this course, a bridge over a lagoon. I stayed with Will, who was doing a comfortable warm up pace for me until we got about a mile into the race. Then he started to slow down, and I slowed with him.
After what I think was the halfway point (the water stop) Will said he was ready to die. I suggested we wait for Benson, and he agreed. Will and Benson had gotten into pretty good shape while we were working together. When they expressed interest in this race, I was hoping they were still into running. No such luck, but maybe they'll get re-inspired.
After Benson caught up, we ran together for a while. Will always had a really good kick. With less than a mile to go, I told Will I didn't want him to pass me at the end, so I was going to start racing. I ran that last part at as near race pace as I could manage. It felt good.
Time: 27:59
After the race, while I was walking around, my quads started complaining a bit, but I think it was good for me. I don't really mind running the day after even a hard-raced marathon, as long as I do it easy.

All in all, it was a great running weekend with friends and family.