Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Price of Giving Feedback

In the majority of the races I have run, I have given feedback on the experience to the race organizers. I have always felt like if the race was well put together, then the organizers should know that. Same if the course sucked or had problems. I focus on what went well, what didn't and keep it constructive vs slamming or name-calling.

I felt that I had done this effectively when I sent a note to the race organizer of my recent 10K. I listed about 5 areas that I felt were lacking. At the end of my e-mail, I mentioned that I am open to being a volunteer next year if they need people with running experience who can offer insights.
I received an e-mail back from the race organizer yesterday thanking me for my note and in a nutshell telling me that the race sucked because of poor volunteers and not all of them are passionate about running, etc...

At the end of the e-mail back, she told me that she has submitted my name to the city committee in charge of the city festival recommending me to be the race director for next year. Ummm....wasn't expecting that! I guess there is a price to pay for giving feedback. I'll know in August if I'm going to be the man-in-charge next year. If so, then that means that I'll be organizing a 5K for May (kids school) and then a 5/10k in June.

Open mouth, insert foot.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lehi Roundup 10K Race Report

I mentioned in my post the other day, the frustrating information I received in regard to the 10K. I debated whether to even run the race or just do a long run without a 10K race in the middle. In the end, I opted to run the race. Here's how it went.

5:30 am: Up and having breakfast. The 10K doesn't start until 7:15 am, but I want to run to the course (3.5 miles) as part of my mileage for the day. This way I can run down, do the 10K, run home and depending on my legs do an alternate longer run home to get 15 miles for the day.

6:10 am: Out the door and on my way. The route down is a gradual downhill so I purposely take it easy.

6:40 am: Meet up with my sister, brother-in-law, nephew and my dad who are all running the 5K.

7:00 am: The 5K starts. I take a few minutes to visit with the owner of Smoothie King who is always one of the sponsors for the 5K that I put together for my kids school. I find out that they didn't know about the race until last Saturday.

Start 7:15 am: The race starts on time and we're off.

mile 1-2: I look at my pace and see that I am going about a minute/mile faster than what I should be. I tone it down a little. There are plenty of inclines in this course so I know I need to conserve my energy especially since I will be visiting it again on the second lap.

mile 3 right before the finish/turnaround: I've passed my sister and dad and saw my brother-in-law on a cross street. Starting so fast was a bad idea and i'm starting to pay for it. The inclines suck, but I'm on the downhill slope. As I close in on the turnaround, I see that the course is short of a 5K by .1 miles.

mile 4: I have to walk for a few steps after that last incline to catch my breath. 1 more incline and then it's downhill to the finish. The police presence that was there for the first lap is no longer around. I get to watch out for cars now.

mile 5-finish: Those hills took it out of me. I know I am in the top 20 and I'm pretty sure that I will place in my age group. I'm not going to PR, but it won't be a Personal Worst. I look at my Garmin just before entering the finish and it shows 47 minutes and change. The finish clock shows 48. I'm puzzled by this because I was right on the start when they said "Go".

Post-race: The timing group usually gives a printout as runners finish that shows the finish time, place, age group, etc. Nothing was handed out this time. I have no idea where I placed. I got one of the last of the sample smoothies, a water bottle and a piece of bread. I see a few other people from the neighborhood and find out that they too were frustrated by the race organization. We wait around to find out when they are doing awards. I finally ask the volunteers and they tell us that they are only doing 1-3 of the top finishers in Youth, Adult and Senior categories and these were awarded as people finish. No age division awards. Also, there were no raffles for prizes like they have done in the past.

Results: I finished in 48:11 according to the race clock. This puts me in 12th overall for the men, 1st for my age group. No Age group awards this year! I feel that giving feedback on a race is important whether the race is good or bad. I sent off an e-mail to the race organizer giving my thoughts on the race. Next year, I will hold off on registering until I see more information regarding the race.

Next race: Freedom Festival 10K. This is a much bigger race. I don't know how many are registered for the 10k. It may be a crowded course.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Somebody Dropped the Ball

I was looking forward to the 10K this Saturday. The city has always done a 5K, so to add a 10K this year was a nice change. With a 10K, I don't feel as exhausted and I have a good possibility of placing in my age group. I've been a little concerned that I haven't heard about race packets or t-shirts—then I heard from the race coordinator today. Here is the information I was sent.

Are you ready???? Round-up your running shoes, the Lehi rodeo days race is just about a week away! Here is the link to the routes...
Attention- 10k route had to be chenged...

I'm ok with the route being changed, but the section in parenthesis is what has me steaming. Not only do I get to run the same route as the 5K participants, but then they also went one step further. They are starting the 10K 15 minutes later than the 5K, so that means that all the 10K participants get to wade through all the 5K walkers and strollers not once, but twice because we get to run the same path two times. I'm wondering if someone was in charge and dropped the ball.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Random Bits and Pieces

The week after my pacing experience, I did no running. The weather was crappy, I took a group of scouts on a campout and I really didn't feel like running. This week has been a little better.

I signed up for the Running the Gap Marathon in Pocatello. I lived there for the first 9 years of my life. My father and aunt get together every year and run/walk either the 10k or the 1/2 marathon. My memories of living there include owning two Irish Setter dogs that were bigger than I was and being dragged on walks with them and the various drunks that would fall asleep on the side of our property on weekends.

On Wednesday, I went to a "Run with Pearl Izumi" event at a local running store. A Pear Izumi rep was there demonstrating the shoes. Everyone who came got to try on a pair and go for a run with the rep. I was able to try on a pair of their trail shoes and use them on my run. I've been looking into getting a pair of trail shoes, but haven't fully committed to it yet. After the run on Wednesday, I'll be looking closer at the Pearl's.

Tomorrow I am slated for 15 miles. Many of my friends are currently running the Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay. I was planning to run, but family conflicts prevented me from participating.

Coming up....

June 26: I will be running in the Lehi Roundup 10K. This is the first year they have offered a 10K. I'm looking forward to seeing how this new race turns out.

July 5: Freedom Festival 10K. This is a new one for me. My sister in law and her husband are coming into town to run the 5K. My wife and her other sister will be joining her.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Squaw Peak 50 race from a Pacer Perspective-The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Several months ago, my friend Supercords asked me to pace him the last 17 miles of his 50 mile Ultramarathon, I jumped at the chance. I've read race reports of people that do ultra's and seen photos, but I have never participated in some way. It was an eye opening experience.

The Good
The Squaw Peak 50 mile course is a monster. It's a 50.74 mile course with 14,000 ft elevation gain/drop. In our strategic planning sessions which mainly consisted of running through some trails and then a flurry of text messages and emails the last two weeks it was decided that I would wait at Aid Station #8 (33 mile mark) for him to appear. On a normal marathon route, it would simply be getting the cross streets an approximate time and then finding a parking spot. Aid Station #8 is accessible only by 4 x 4 and a firm grasp on how your vehicle will handle. Alas, my vehicle is a far cry from 4 x 4. Supercords went to the race dinner the previous evening and called me telling me that my only way up was with the radio and Aid Station crew.
The race began at 5:00 am. I remember waking up once during the night and realizing that the race was about to begin. I was grateful that I didn't have to be to the race start until 7:30 am to meet the crew going up to the aid station. When we all met up and arrived to AS #8, there were 12 Adults, 3 kids, 3 dogs all there ready to meet the runners.
We were set up by 9:30 am which was perfect because the first runner arrived a little after 10:00 am. It was amazing to see the condition of the first few runners as they stopped briefly at the aid station. We had set up the drop bags in columns of 50 digit intervals to aid us in finding a runner bag quick. A couple people spotted the runner, looked for a number or asked the runner their number and if they had a drop bag. This information was relayed to the crew that was marking off every runner and also to the drop bag runner. The top runners were pretty lucid and knew what was going on, but a few were in a somewhat crazed daze after 33 miles.

The Bad
Supercords came into AS #8 about 1:00 pm which is pretty close to what he had predicted. I was surprised and excited that he did thinking that we would be on track for a 5:30 pm finish. I've seen him look better, but after 33 miles what can you expect? I kept reminding myself that while my legs were fresh, his were jello. We took off for the biggest challenge of the course...Windy Pass and Bozung Hill. This is the steepest ascent of the whole course. 7120' to 8280' with a small drop to 7850' and a final climb to 9300' then a -368' drop to AS#9. This monstrosity is over the course of 1.25 miles. Oh, did I mention that there was a snowfield? Oh, yeah...it's hard to hike up snowfields. Kiss our 5:30 pm finish time goodbye right here. Add in the fact, that by this time Supercords was suffering from some mild dehydration/electrolyte depletion made it a difficult situation even more tough. We made it to AS#9 and the end of the ascents. The remaining 8+ miles were all downhill. At AS #9 we got the hydration and electrolytes we needed and headed down for AS #10 and then the finish.
This part was a mudfest. We were on the shadow end of the mountain so the temperatures were better, but the trail (i'm using that term very loosely) was a combination of mud/snow or snow/mud for the first 3 miles. We definitely picked up the past and down into a park for AS #10.

The Ugly
From AS #10 to the finish was 3 miles. It doesn't sound like much. After 47 miles, what is another 3. Those last 3 miles were all on pavement. Even though I had only been on the course for 14 miles, I felt a HUGE difference. Each footfall felt like a pounding was going on. I slowed down and let Supercords pass me as we turned to finish and I watched him finish the race. I slowed down and walked into the crowd with a few people pointing to me that I should be going the other way. 
In the end, the 17 miles was a good training run and gave me a good taste for what an ultra would be like. Am I up to the task of running this sometime in the future? It's something I'll consider in the future.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Ultimate Runner

Do you ever wonder why people are running? We all have our own reasons and sometimes when I am running by a person I think about asking them. I then think "What if I ask them and they had just found their groove and now I'm ruining it for them..."  Instead of asking them, I just politely say "good morning" or a friendly wave and move on all the time wondering if they are wondering why I am running. Maybe one time I'll just blurt out as I run by a person "Because when I don't run my family tells me that I'm grouchy.." If that doesn't break the ice, nothing will.

Why am I talking about this? Because Amy Hunold-VanGundy and Tom Green from the Runners' Lounge did just that very thing. No, they didn't go around screaming at people...at least they didn't mention that, so we'll assume they were very polite. They asked people why they run and then they took the stories, put them in a book called The Ultimate Runner and are now living in the lap of luxury. I've really got to break out of my anti-social runningness.

Tom and Amy sent me a copy several weeks ago to review. The first thing that struck me when I started reading the book was that every person who is in the book has their own personal reason why they run. There were the typical weight loss/exercise running stories, but those too were unique—some talked about how running saved their life. Many stories however went deeper than this and delved into the "why" they run.

The book is very well organized into several categories so it is easy to find an area of interest. One area that struck my attention was the section called "Must-Know Info." There was topics on stretching (which  I have mixed feelings on), nutrition (with charts and some math involved), injury prevention and more. Each of these articles are full of good information in a short concise format.

The articles carry the style of each writer so that the books feels more personal—as if the author is talking right to the reader.

The book also has photos. On the left page there is a photo of boys running through what looks like an Equestrian course. They are running with very intense looks on their face. On the right page there is a photo of the London Marathon where the lead guy has a London Pride Beer costume on. The runner bottle guy has a very pained and concerned look on his face. The runners behind him have very large smiles almost as if they have decided that getting the bottle is more important than the race. This is a great photo. When I put the two photos side by side I decided that the boys are running so that when they grow up they can be adults and chase a man dressed as a beer bottle too.

I do have one suggestion for Tom and Amy and their publisher—get another copy editor to go through the book. I found more than one typo in the articles I read. It didn't distract me from the overall feel of the book, but because I get a lot of flak when I misspell words I tend to find them often.

In the end, the book The Ultimate Runner is a good read and have around. I did do an informal scientific study of my own with the book. I didn't run for a few days, but I did read about people who did. The plan was to see if the actual running made me less "grouchy" or if it could be solved by "thinking about running." After a few days my kids told me to "stop talking about running and actually go running." I guess we know how that study turned out.