Saturday, August 27, 2016

2016 Run-de-Vous 100 Mile Race Report

Wow, I am still in a bit of shock after finishing Run-de-Vous (RdV) last weekend. Jotting down thoughts before I forget.

Race Prep
I've had a good training and racing year in 2016. I've been mostly injury free, and I've finished two 100s (San Diego and Tahoe Rim Trail), a 50 miler (Marin Ultra Challenge), and a few 50ks. TRT was about 5 weeks prior to Run-de-Vous, so plenty of time to recover, get some training in, and have a nice taper.

The Course
The race is held down at Harvey Bear Ranch Park in San Martin, about 35 minutes south of my house. It's a 2.01 mile asphalt loop that you do 50 times in the 100 miler. You could say I am familiar with this course. I've done four 50ks on this course, a six hour race, and the RdV 100m back in 2014. To boot, I did 40 miles out here for my 40th birthday run earlier this year. So, by my math, I've run this 2.01 mile loop about 145 times prior to race day. It's basically flat with a few minor ups and downs thrown in to keep things interesting. Here's a view of the backdrop you get to see on half the loop.

Race Day
I arrived about 45 minutes before start, setup my gear, and got registered. Given the layout of the course, getting lost, getting aid, etc. are not issues. I setup a couple of chairs near race central (the single aid station and timing booth) alongside the two bags and mini-cooler I brought.

Any minor pre-race jitters were quieted by milling around the start area and catching up with folks. I saw Vinod and Lynnard, both of whom I'd run with before. I had in mind to some day run a sub-24 hour 100, but I didn't figure today would be the day (I was shooting for 26-27 hours). But, Lynnard noted that 24 hour pace was a 14:24/mile, and I squirreled away that tidbit of information for later.

I had a rough plan to stay consistent with a mix of walking and running from the start. When I did this race in 2014, I mostly ran for the first 60 miles, and my last 40 were a death march. I was determined to not repeat that outcome. The map below shows the rough sketch of my walk/run plan (walk in red, run in green) - the best I can recall the running part was about 1.45 miles with the walking .55 mile. The plan was to run slowly/comfortably during the run sections, and 'power walk' during the walk sections. Rinse and repeat, with the knowledge I'd slow down throughout the day (possibly to a point where I was walking full time or at least more than planned.

The race got started, and I settled in. Ana had dropped me off and would be picking me up at the end, so the plan was to text her after each 10 mile split. Things went quite well and uneventfully for the first 20 miles. From there on, I realized I'd made a 'run' section a bit too long to be sustainable all day, so I added another 'walk' section (the red bit on the left side of the picture above).

Miles 20-40 were a little tougher as things warmed up. Nowhere close to as hot as last year (100+), I think the temp on race day this year peaked around 85. I made a wise decision to get some ice in my bandana sometime in the afternoon, and that really helped me cool down. I made it through 40 miles at a bit over 8 hours, which is what I did my birthday run in in January. That's basically 20 hour pace, which I knew I couldn't keep, but it did give me some confidence. I started calculating the miles I had left and what kind of pace I'd need to maintain to make 24 hour pace (the possibility was starting to enter my thoughts, though I didn't talk about it on the course).

The laps kept coming and going, and I was having a good time chatting with other runners and volunteers. As always, the support was excellent, and it seemed like the volunteers were even more friendly and helpful than previous years. I decided to change socks and shoes at 50 miles as a little bit of a reward. I made it through 50 miles at around 10:30 (itself a PR for that distance), put on the new socks and shoes with a bit more lube, and got ready to run through the night.

I wasn't having any issues, and it felt easier running miles 50-70 than some of the previous. I kept ticking off laps. As the moon rose around 10pm, I started doing a lot of the loop with my light turned off. It was a near full moon and very orange, and it was pretty awesome to run under.

Around midnight, my stomach went a bit south (couldn't eat solid food). This has happened before, and I can almost always down gels, so I stuck with those for the rest of the race. By midnight, I think I'd made it 85 miles or so (18 hours in, leaving me 6 hours to go 15 miles or so). I felt confident I could do sub-24, but anything can happen in an ultra. I did chat with Lynnard somewhere during this time, and he encouraged me to go for it.

I finally started to feel noticeably worse in the last 10 miles. Nothing severe, but the miles were catching up. I continued with the run/walk strategy, I was just moving slower. Finally, it was time for the last lap. I hustled over the line and somehow finished in 22:23:10 - almost a 6 hour PR (Personal Record)! I was beyond thrilled, except that it was only just past 4 in the morning and I didn't want to wake up Ana to come get me.

Here is the Strava for data geeks. I texted Ana on my 10 mile splits just after the aid station (first walking section). Those times were roughly:

  • 0-10 miles - 1:59
  • 10-20 miles - 1:56
  • 20-30 miles - 2:06
  • 30-40 miles - 2:13
  • 40-50 miles - 2:25 (counting time to change shoes/socks)
  • 50-60 miles - 2:19
  • 60-70 miles - 2:17
  • 70-80 miles - 2:20
  • 80-90 miles - 2:20
  • 90-100 miles - 2:28
I'll take it - my first silver buckle (some races give a silver buckle for sub-24, with a different color for over-24)!

Gear and Grub
The gear I used included:
  • Patagonia shorts
  • Patagonia shirt (from last years San Diego 100)
  • Ogio hat (swag from Netflix)
  • Buff around my wrist for sweat & snots
  • Julbo Aero sunglasses with Zebra Light photochromic lenses
  • Garmin Fenix 3 GPS watch
  • 2 pairs Injinji toe socks 
  • Pearl Izumi N3s (first 50 miles)
  • Hoka Challenger ATRs (second 50 miles)
  • Petzl Tikka headlight
Grub I ate/drank:
  • ~35-40 gels (mostly Gu 'Tastefully Nude')
  • 2 cans Coke I had brought, plus numerous other cups at the aid stations
  • 2 bottles Gatorade I'd brought
  • 4-8 quarters of PBJ
  • 10-15 pieces of watermelon (small)
  • Half a small can of Pringles that I'd brought
  • 2 bags of Swedish Fish candy that I'd brought
  • 2 slices of cheese pizza
  • Couple segments of banana
  • Lots of water!
Wrap Up
This is my fourth RdV - 2 100m and 2 50k. It's a great group of folks that put the race on - headed by Rajeev Patel and Anil Rao. Lots of great volunteers, and an awesome group of returning runners. I imagine I'll be one of them again next year. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Books of 2016 - #11 "Maus, Vol. 1" by Art Spiegelman

"Maus, Vol. 1" by Art Spiegelman

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Short Version: Graphic novel history of a father/son relationship via the author's father's experience in WWII Poland, etc. as a Jew.

I wanted to like this book more, and I did quite enjoy the format (graphic novel, with the characters as mice and other critters). The story the father was telling was interesting enough, but ultimately the author is not that great of a writer. I will check out Vol. 2 though, as I'm interested in the conclusion.

Books of 2016 - #10 "Ready to Run" by Kelly Starrett

"Ready to Run" by Kelly Starrett

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Short Version: Excellent holistic approach to healthy running by a physical therapist and creator of Mobility/WOD (CrossFit thing).

This was recommended to me by a running pal at work. The subtitle of the book is "Unlocking Your Potential to Run Naturally," and is aimed at getting your body ready to run for the long term, injury free. The author presents a number of standards (e.g. hydration, ankle mobility) as well as tests to evaluate your current state against these standards. Assuming your deficient in one or more, he also provides specific examples to get you to the point where you can meet the standard (e.g. getting a normal amount of hip extension).

I really liked this book - I've been having Achilles issues for a couple of years and have only recently realized how to get my calves stretched out a bit more to get the tendons healed. There are some great additional exercises in this book that have helped a lot already. A number of the other exercises have been helpful (e.g. couch stretch), and I'm going to start the progression soon so I can run in zero drop (flat) shoes. I'd tried this a few years back, and that gave me separate Achilles issues b/c I transitioned too quickly from standard shoes.

Highly recommended for all runners, especially if you've had any history of injuries!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Books of 2016 - #9 "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Short Version: Interesting story about an imagined future world where women no longer have control of their bodies.

I'd heard about this book a few times as I started to learn and read more about feminism, and decided to pick it up to read while on a recent trip. Atwood creates an interesting world where women's lives are heavily regulated, and I enjoy her writing style of revealing details bit by bit as the story unfolds.

For folks up to speed on gender inequality and feminism, this book won't seem too implausible.

Books of 2016 - #8 "The Culture Map" by Erin Meyer

The Culture Map by Erin Meyer

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Short Version: Excellent business book to help navigate and succeed across cultural differences.

This was a homework assignment for a work trip. We're expanding globally (customer-wise), and we've also got a fair number of international offices. This book helps people understand the differences between cultures, especially as they relate to business.

The author uses the idea of relativity across a variety of dimensions (building trust, giving feedback, making decisions) to educate the reader how countries across the world differ. Understanding where your culture sits on each dimension is critical, as is the relative difference between cultures if you're working internationally.

Highly recommended if you work in a multi-cultural environment.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Books of 2016 - #7 "The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey" by Ernesto Che Guevara

The Motorcycle Diaries: Notes on a Latin American Journey by Ernesto Che Guevara

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Short Version: Excellent travel diary from Che in his pre-revolutionary days.

I was in Cuba recently and picked this one up at the Havana airport. I was aware of the movie (hadn't seen it), but didn't know that it was based on a book by Che. Ana is a fan so I figured I'd pick it up for the 6 hour plane ride home.

A quick read - it covers Che's trip across South America in the 50s with his friend Alberto Granado. It's funny, touching, and gives a sense of how Che developed into the historic figure we now know. He observes life and struggles across South America, including many encounters with lepers and indigenous people, and he's transformed by his experiences throughout the book.

Books of 2016 - #6 "Men Explain Things to Me" by Rebecca Solnit

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Short Version: Terrific collection of feminist essays from the woman who made the concept of 'mansplaining' popular.

My first 5 star book of the year! I bought this for Ana last year while we were staying in Pt. Reyes at the house that hosts The Mesa Refuge. Rebecca Solnit had done a residency there and her Infinite City atlas of San Francisco was there on the coffee table (itself is a wonderful book).

Solnit is famous (for among other things) the title essay of the book, which is noted for originating the concept of 'mansplaining.' For some reason, Amazon categorizes the book as humor, but while it has funny parts, it's quite a serious book. Solnit does a great job exploring various aspects of gender, feminism, patriarchy, etc. All of the essays were great, and I especially enjoyed "Woolf's Darkness: Embracing the Inexplicable" and "Grandmother Spider."