Saturday, September 23, 2017

College of the Canyons Race #3; Race Report #12

     Just two days after the Bakersfield race we went back down to Santa Clarita for the third race in the College of the Canyons seven race summer series on Thursday nights. We tried to park where we normally do, but some studio types with Napolean complexes forced everyone to park in a tight grid so Nissan could film a commercial in the adjacent parking lot. Eventually, Keith and Ethan joined us along with Aden and Dave.
     We went through our warm-ups and drills, but I could tell tonight wasn't going to be my night. My legs still felt the results of the race just 48 hours earlier. Not as young as I once was. The weather was uncharacteristically cool for this time of year so I was disappointed I wouldn't be able to push the pace. We all lined up on the baseball field to await the starting gun.
     I went out easier than normal since I was feeling fatigued from Tuesday. I cruised through the first mile in 7:19, not fast but I felt within myself at this pace considering my tired legs. The second mile still had all the big hills. Funny, they just don't seem to go away. For over 30 years that hill by the Valencia Blvd. offramp has been there, and it's still just as steep and as long as it was the first time I ran it. I suffered up the hills and my second-mile split was 7:55. With the hills behind me, I powered down the hills to the track as best I could with a third mile split of 6:34. My finishing time was 21:55. I grabbed a quick drink and went back to find Robin. I cheered Keith on as I went backward on the course looking for Robin. I found her about a half mile out and finished with her. We all headed to the parking lot, changed and headed to Vincenzo's for some pizza and beer.
Ethan, myself, Robin and Keith at Vincenzo's

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bakersfield Summer Series Race #4; Race Report #11

     On July 18th Robin and I headed to Bakersfield for what was supposed to be the fourth race in their summer series. The third race was postponed and later cancelled because of a lack of volunteers to help put on the race. In my previous post, I mentioned that a runner suffered from a medical issue during the race, and unfortunately that runner passed away and I think that might have played into the third race being postponed. It's very sad that Benjamin Greene passed away, and its equally sad the Bakersfield Track Club had to put up with the negative diatribes from Mr Greene's family and acquaintances for simply providing us with an opportunity to run.
     This week the weather cooler compared to the last run, only 100 degrees out. The race had the usual misters and this week there was an industrial type cooling center set up. It looked like it was made for someone working in the Sahara desert, or in this case running in Bakersfield during the summer. Honestly, I don't feel much difference between 99 and 108, I think it's mostly mental. I did my warm up, drills, and strides before the race like always. I think I peed at least three times to make sure my bladder was as empty as possible before the race. Even Robin and Andrea did somewhat of a warm up by walking around the park before the start. Trevor did his usual warm up, he watched us. I again wore my hat and bandanna that I soak in water and carried a frozen water bottle to help keep my hands cool. I headed to the start area where I awaited my designated starting time and wished Shane, Joe, and Carl good luck.
     This time when the gun went off I went out faster than before, trying to take advantage of the mostly downhill first mile. I hit the one-mile mark in 6:42. Not too bad for an old fat guy. The second mile consisted of the only hill on the course and saw us go from pavement to dirt trails for most of the rest of the race. My second mile was 7:14 and I kicked it in for a 7:07 third mile and a finishing time of 21:40. I ate a slice of watermelon and filled my water bottle up since I had used my water to squirt on the back of my neck to stay cool during the race and headed out to find Robin to help her on her run in. I only had to go about a quarter of a mile, and there she was. I walked and jogged at her pace back to the finish again as a cool down and to give Robin moral support.
     After we had all cooled down we headed down the road to Ethel's roadhouse bar and grill for some adult beverages and sandwiches. The food there is really good, and the wait staff was prompt and courteous, definitely someplace I would be returning to.

The giant American Indian statue in front of Ethel's


Sunday, August 27, 2017

COC Race #2; Race Report #10

     Well the second COC race went much better for me than the first. On July 13th we went South to Santa Clarita for the race, and the weather was much cooler than before. With the temperature a cool 84 degrees and my legs somewhat rested I looked forward to the race. I did my usual one and a half mile warm up with some drills and stride and was ready to go. There were many more runners at the second race than the first. 
     When the gun went off I went out a little faster than the first race, hitting the first mile in 6:47. The second mile is the toughest still, and with all the hills my split was 7:56. The downhill third mile was my quickest, 6:37 was my time. I finished with a time of 21:25. This was a minute faster than the previous week. I was pretty happy since I still haven't done much speed work on the track this year. My average pace for the race was 7:05 and my legs felt pretty good. With a lot of races scheduled in the near future, I made sure to warm down a little before the quick drive to Vincenzo's for a quick bite of pizza and some beer before the drive home. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

COC Cross Country Race #1; Race Report #9

     With just 48 hours of recovery, Robin and I made the drive down to Santa Clarita for the first of seven weekly Thursday night 3-mile cross country races at College of the Canyons, also known as COC. This year it's the 44th annual happening of the summer cross country series, and everyone from high schools to us masters runners look forward to this event. We drove down, paid our money, got our bibs and timing chips, and warmed up for the first race. I could tell right away warming up that my legs were still feeling the effects of Tuesday's 5k so I knew this would not be a night for a fast time. Unlike the Bakersfield races, COC only matters on the finals night as far as awards go so just getting used to the hills again was my plan for the evening. Keith and Ethan also showed up, as this has become our annual weekly get together to talk about old times, and catch up on family. The race is scheduled to start at 7:00 PM after the kid's race which began at 6:45. I'm not sure why, maybe it was the 4th of July holiday, but there was a very small crowd there for the first race.

Keith and Robin before the start of the start of the COC Summer Series Race #1

     We all line up on the COC baseball field listened to the instructions and took off at the sound of the gun. A lot of the people were complaining about the heat but after running in Bakersfield the temperature didn't seem too bad. It was 93 at the start. It was fun running along and chatting with some of my friends during the race. I hit the first mile in 7:26, and continued up the first big hill to the freeway downhill but had no leg strength. I guess I'm not as young as I once was. Soon enough the fun was over and killer hill loomed up in front of me.

The view up killer hill at the COC Summer Series

     I trudged up the hill, made the right turn and continued on up the hill. A quick down hill, and back uphill we went some more. It wasn't long before I hit the second-mile mark in 8:15, and it was downhill or flat to the finish. I cruised along at a 6:56 final mile. My official finishing time was 22:35.2. Not bad considering the hills and the fact that I had run hard just two days earlier. I saw Keith finish in a 29:33, and I jogged back to run in with Robin as a cool down. Robin crossed the line in 37:31. 
     With the race over there was only one thing left to do. As it has become a tradition for us we headed to Vincenzo's Pizza on Lyons for some post run nourishment.
Vincenzo's Pizza was the scene of our post race nourishment.

     We split a family meal deal and a pitcher of beer four ways. While we ate we relived the race and caught up on various family and friend issues from the past year. Next week it would be race #2, and back to Vincenzo's Pizza.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Santa Clarita Runners Independence Day 5K Classic; Race Report #8

     The morning of Tuesday, July 4th found Robin and I getting up early and heading down the I-5 to Santa Clarita for the Independence Day 5k put on by the Santa Clarita Runners. The only problem with this race is the parking, it's alway bad, and this year was worse because of construction going on at Hart High School. We arrived about 6:30 for the 8:00 AM start and had to park about 1.5 miles away. We walked to the check in, got our bibs and swag then walked back to the car to change our shoes, put on our patriotic gear, and head to the start finish area. Being a recent prostate cancer survivor, the first place I hit was the porta potty line to make sure my custom Depends wasn't going to be over filled during the race.

The view from the porta potty line prior to the Santa Clarita Independence Day 5k

     I did a short warm up, some strides, and got in line for the start about 5 rows from the front. As always, there were people that had no business lining up where they did in front of me. A girl did a fantastic job of singing the national anthem live before the start, and as soon as the timers were ready Martin sent us on our way. 
     When the horn sounded (I miss starting guns) we all took off. I settled into a nice pace and worked around the slow people who had no business starting where they did. When I felt my watch vibrate for the first mile I looked down at my watch and was shocked to see 6:30. I immediately slowed my pace as I felt I had gone out way too fast for my training thus far. Because there is a parade following our race, the course is lined with spectators that cheered us on the whole way. The local high school teams also came out and supplied support by manning water stations, and cheering us on with signs and cheers.

The crowd was great on both sides of the course

     My second mile was a 6:55, a little slow, but closer to what I thought I should be running based on my recent training. I still felt pretty good, so I began to pick up the pace, looking more at my watch to help me speed up and get into a faster rhythm. My third mile was a 6:44 which was more like what I was shooting for. When I turned the corner and could see the finish line I tried to lift my knees and work my arms. I'm sure I didn't look any different, but my watch says I sprinted to the finish in under a six-minute pace. My official time was 20:48. 

Me hitting the finish in my patriotic attire. My legs were the white part of the three colors. Photo by Captivating Sports Photos.

     I congratulated the runners that finished around me, grabbed a water, and headed out on the course to find Robin and finish with her. I didn't have to run far as Robin was scorching the course.

Robin working towards the finish

     I met up with Robin as she rounded the corner towards the finish. She looked good and sounded great. I'm sure the lack of hills on this course had something to do with that. A local high school cross country team was stationed just after the turn, and it was great that they were cheering for everyone like they were battling for the win.  

The high school cross country teams were awesome with their support.

     Robin strode out to the finish and I bailed over to the park so as not to create any timing issues by running across the mat twice. She broke the tape in 35:15 which was one of her fastest times in recent years. Her training for the Wild Wild West Trail Marathon next year is starting to pay off.

Robin hitting the line at the Independence Day Classic 5k. Photo by Captivating Sports Photos.

     Since it was too far to go back to the car for the ice chest and lawn chairs we stood around for the awards and raffle.

Robin and I waiting for the awards. Photo by Captivating Sports Photos.

     Neither of us won anything in the raffle, but I did get first in the 55-59 age group even though my time was a minute and a half slower than the last time I raced here. The lovely Paola Howard presented me with my medal. By now we were both hungry so we headed just down the street to the legendary Saugus Cafe for some food and adult beverages.

 Tuna Melt and a beer after my race.

The view from the bar at the Saugus Cafe.

     The iconic Saugus cafe hasn't changed since the 60's. we went straight to the bar where we were able to order both food and drinks. The beers were ice cold and the food was tasty. It was a great 4th of July. The race had close to 900 participants total. We devoured our food and headed home to recover so that we could attempt COC #1 just 48 hours later.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bakersfield Track Club Summer Series Race #2; Race Report #7

     On Tuesday, June 20, we drove down to Bakersfield for the second race in the Bakersfield Track Club Summer Series. Since the weather forecast was for hot temperatures, I had hit Home Depot and bought both Robin and myself Enduracool hats and a new Enduracool neck wrap for Robin as well. The weather forecast turned out to be true as the temperature was 108 degrees at the start according to my Garmin app. We both made sure to hydrate extremely well all day long to prevent any medical issues from popping up, I know I did a good job as I had to use the toilet twice before the start of the race. I also froze our handheld water bottles we carry when we run about one-third full, laying on their side, so the cold bottle would be against our hands as we ran the race. When we arrived we found Trevor and Andrea already there, so I parked, changed my shoes, shirt, and shorts, and put on my bib number and custom Depends.
     I did manage about a mile and a half total warm-up before the race, and I felt pretty good despite the heat. As seven o'clock came up, we all gathered near the start line. Everyone was talking about running slower because of the heat, and the announcer kept reminding everyone to hydrate, carry water, and walk if you needed to. Robin was the first to take off, followed by Andrea, myself, then Trevor followed by all the fast runners. I felt that I had run the first race a little easy since I didn't know the course yet, so I went out faster on the downhill first mile this time. With the high temperatures, I was sipping and pouring water on myself starting at about a quarter mile into the race. It wasn't long before I passed Andrea, gave a wave, and was zeroing in on Robin. I went through the first mile in 6:48, and felt good. The heat didn't seem to be playing a factor, but I didn't want to push my luck, so I went to easy mode when I got to the hill. The water bottle was awesome. It felt great to be able to pour water onto my neck and head. The Enduracool products seemed to really help. My second mile, with the hill, was 7:15. The track club did an outstanding job placing five water stations along the course, one of which we ran by twice to make a total of six opportunities for water in a 3-mile race. this was in addition to the water and misters that were at the start-finish area. Most 5k runs provide one water station along the course if that. I continued along to the finish and got passed by a few of the faster runners that had started behind me. I finished the race in 22:05 which was about 35 seconds faster than the first race, and in 108-degree temperatures. I hung around and watched Shane, Joe, and Carl finish refilled my handheld water bottle and set off to find Robin and pace her back to the finish.

My Garmin screenshot from the Bakersfield Summer Series Race #2

     As I ran down the first hill, I stopped and chatted with some photographers and asked about using their pictures on this blog, which they said would be fine. Of course, I haven't been able to find them online yet. Soon enough I found Robin and Trevor running together, so I went back a little further to Andrea and paced her into the finish. 

Screenshot of the finish results showing our real times plus our handicap based on age.

     We all stood around and talked about the race, I was looking for someone from McFarland to ask about the upcoming Jim White Invitational. Naturally, I couldn't find him after the race. Everyone was talking about a runner that had a medical issue during the race. We changed into dry shirts and headed to Ethel's Old Corral Cafe for some food and cold adult beverages. 

My sandwich, salad, and beer at Ethel's after the race.

     Ethel's was a classic vintage roadhouse. I had never stopped in there in all my years of driving by. The food was great, service quick, and, most important when it's over 100, the beer was ice cold. It was definitely a welcome respite from the heat and sweat only an hour earlier.
     On a side note, I am sad to say that I found out the next morning that the runner who had the medical issue did not make it, and passed away at the hospital. My condolences go out to his family and friends in this tough time. I will touch more on this issue in a future blog post.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

PSA Test

    I recently had my second PSA test since my surgery. I used the same lab, and again I passed. My number was .03. My doctor said that since it's the new ultrasensitive test, that it's basically a zero on the old test.
My second PSA test since my prostate surgery

   Back in February, I had my first PSA test, and it was .01. My doctor said not to worry about it being higher, but that's hard to do. I don't worry about the tests like I used to. Last year, when I was trying to figure out if I even had prostate cancer, I would awaken at night, start thinking about the PSA test, and not be able to go back to sleep. So much seems to ride on these simple numbers. I know the PSA test has become controversial because of the anxiety it causes, but it caught my cancer early, and hopefully, I continue to have low test results like this one. I don't worry that badly anymore, but when I do think about it, I still worry a little. I think it's human nature. My next test will be in November. I know that when I'm waiting for the results, I will get nervous.