Sunday, January 7, 2018

Bakersfield Fog Run 2018; Race Report #23

   Yesterday Robin and I headed North to the outskirts of Bakersfield, CA for the 29th annual Fog Run. Unlike most years, there was no fog and it was warm. A few sprinkles greeted us as we arrived in Bakersfield but they quickly dissipated as we got close to Lake Ming where the race would start and finish. When we made the turn down towards the lake I couldn't help but reminisce about the 1980's when we used to come to the same exact spot for the Bud Light Triathalon that was an Ironman Kona qualifier back then.
     We were early enough to get lakefront parking close to the start and finish area. With close to 600 runners entered many who arrived late had to park outside of the gates and walk to the start/finish area. Robin grabbed our bibs and shirts, we filled out our raffle tickets and dropped them into the box hoping to win tickets to a Bakersfield Condors game. I started getting my stuff ready. I elected to wear my Nike Terra Kiger trail shoes for the race.

Runners getting checked in and ready at the Bakersfield Fog Run.

     I set off on a mile and a half warm-up while Robin elected to stay in the car. The temperature was 60 degrees, and it was the sixth of January. This was probably the nicest day for a Fog Run in the 29 years of the race. There were some high clouds and no wind. 
The view across Lake Ming towards the sunrise while I was warming up for the Bakersfield Fog Run.

     I finished my warm-up and decided it was too warm to wear my arm sleeves. I had sunscreen on already in case I went this route. About this time our friends Trevor and Andrea showed up and we all headed towards the start. 
     The race consisted of a 5 and 10k. The 10k would be starting first at 8:00 AM and the 5k started ten minutes later at 8:10 AM. All four of us elected to enter the 10k to get the mileage in since we are training for the Wild Wild West Marathon that would be happening in just four short months. 
     Before the race started we were treated to a color guard and a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by a local California Highway Patrol Officer. 
     My goal for this race was a sub 46-minute race based on my training coming in and the fact that I'm still afraid to run too hard because of my plantar fasciitis issues. My goal early on was to try and hit 7 to 7:10 per mile pace and not push the hills too hard so I could stay consistent throughout the race. 

The start of the Bakersfield Fog Run 10k.

The course was well marked. 

     I soon settled into a nice rhythm as the course wandered along the outskirts of the Lake Ming campground towards Bakersfield CALM Zoo and the Kern County Soccer Park. I hit the first mile in 7:06, mile two in 7:07, and mile three in 7:27. Mile three had the biggest hill, and soon after that, we got to run on some dirt and soft stuff for a while.

The 10k course took us through the Lake Ming Campground.

The paved part of the course heading towards the Kern County Soccer Park.

     Shortly after hitting the third mile we were back at the 5 and 10k split close to the start. Where the 5k runners went on a paved bike path going out and around the lake we were sent on a dirt path that paralleled the paved path before joining the 5k course and looping back around to the finish.

Running along the dirt path you can see the 5k runners heading back up on the paved portion of the course.

     My mile four split was 7:22, then I got back into rhythm for miles five and six running 7:08 and 7:06 respectively. The finish was a slight downhill and I got there in a time of 44:32. I was pleased with my time. I grabbed a bottle of water, reset my watch and headed out to cheer my wife and friends to the finish. I didn't go far before I found Trevor, then Andrea and Robin heading towards the finish. The three of them did a great job getting to the line so we could wait out the raffle drawing then head for lunch. The race did provide sandwiches, chips, bananas, and other goodies for the participants. The race was only 25.00 to pre-enter. 
     The 5k awards were first, so we all headed back to the parking lot to change and have some more post-race nourishment. My name was called for second in my age group but all of us struck out on the raffle so we headed to Pyrenees Basque Restaurant in downtown Bakersfield for some more food. 

My Chili Verde burrito and hash browns from Pyrenees Cafe in downtown Bakersfield.

     It's time to rate the race. The course wasn't very tough so this race will be rated in lager beers. I think the price, organization, timing, and porta potty availability(important for runners) were all top notch. The volunteers were very courteous and the music was decent for the most part. Did I mention the race was only 25.00 to pre-enter? The race was lacking a beer sponsor so there weren't any free adult beverages after the race. For this reason, I am knocking one beer out of the six pack and rating the race a 5 lager race. Happy running in 2018 everybody.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Mr. Toads Wild Run 20k Trail Race 2017; Race Report #22

     Every year on the first Saturday of December the Bakersfield Track Club hosts a trail race known as Mr. Toads Wild Run. The reason for the name is the last 3/4 mile is downhill in a curvy high banked turn trail known as Toads Gulley. This year the race start was much warmer than usual so we were all in shorts for the race.
     Robin, Andrea, Aden, David, and myself along with many other friends were entered in the 20k, while Trevor was attempting the 5k. At the last minute, Trevor opted to forego the race and drive to Clovis to help with some family yard work which left just us 20k participants.

Andrea, Robin and myself prior to the 20k start.

     I did my usual warm-up, but not too much as this would be a long race for me based on my current training situation. My longest recent run had only been 10 miles to date. The 5 and 20k started together, and I took off slowly, determined to not burn myself out in the first few hills. I also opted to carry Tailwind as my drink for the first time in a race. It wasn't long before the races split and I found myself out by myself for what seemed like miles. I was careful to make sure I didn't try to run up the big hills this time. I had made that mistake in previous years. I talked to runners that I passed as I cruised along the course. I felt better as the race progressed. Soon enough I came upon the infamous "bastard hill./" It was at this point I saw Aden who had already run the hill and was heading back looking good firmly in a top 3 overall position. I power walked up the hill, then ran the rest of the race. I think I even did negative splits since I walked the hills at the beginning. I ended up finishing 16th overall, third in my age group. Aden finished second overall and first in his age group. With some consistent training, he has loads of potential.
     Meanwhile, Robin and Andrea were busy having fun hiking the uphills and running the downhills. They amused themselves taking selfies, then adding special effects during the race.

Robin and Andrea playing around during the race. 

     I grabbed a quick snack after finishing and set out running the course backward to finish with Robin and Andrea. This meant I had to go uphill in Mr. Toads gulley. I mostly hiked as I encouraged runners finishing the race as I went. I found them about 1 1/2 miles before the finish laughing and having a good time. I ran and walked downhill to the finish with them.They both finished in a time of 3:22:57.  I checked the results and got my age group award which was a cool beer glass. We had a brief rest and snacks before heading to Pyrenees Basque restaurant for some post-race nourishment. 

We had lunch in the bar at Pyrenees Basque Restaraunt. 

     According to my new rating system, I give this race a 4 IPA rating.The course is tough enough to be an IPA course. I had to knock it down a beer because they held the raffle for prizes while runners were still on the course, and I knocked it down another beer for not having a free beer after the race for the adult participants. The race is fun and close, so I look forward to doing it again in 2018.


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Silver Falls Trail Races 2017, Silver Falls, Oregon; Race Report #21

     Planes, Trains, and Automobiles may have been a hit movie, but it's also how we got to the Silver Falls Trail Races in Oregon. We drove down to Burbank Airport on the Friday morning before the race for our nonstop flight to Portland. After we got through the TSA lines we ran into fellow Santa Clarita Runner Carl Stromberg and his wife who were also heading to Portland, but on an earlier flight. It turns out they were going up to watch their son Grant compete in the NCAA Cross Country Regional race. Our flight was uneventful and we landed in Portland a little early. The Portland airport was beautiful and clean as always. We grabbed our checked bag and headed to the Tri-Met station for the train ride to Beaverton way our son Kris would pick us up and take us to our hotel.
     Portland has one of the best ways to get into and out of an airport. No need for a vehicle at the airport, just buy a Tri-Met pass, hop on the train, and head close to your destination. The trip to Beaverton was about an hour and stress-free. We disembarked the train at the Beaverton Creek Station, the closest one to the Nike campus where our son was working.

The sign in the Nike woods next to the Tri-Met tracks

     Kris found us even though I was busy exploring the Nike running trails next to the tracks. We headed to lunch before checking into our room at the Marriott. One of the great things about the Portland area is there is no shortage of good brewpubs or restaurants. We stopped off at the Fireside Grill. The food was fantastic. I had my first burger of the weekend.

My burger and homemade chips at the Fireside Grill in Beaverton, Oregon

     After our great lunch, we checked in to the Beaverton Marriott then headed to the Value Village thrift store a few miles away for a couple of hours of bargain hunting before dinner. I did find vintage copies of Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, and Lord Byron's work published between 1895 and 1905. I got all three for under 10.00. 
     The closest place we could find that served decent food that wasn't packed on a rainy Friday night was McMenamins. Pizza and beer the night before a race has always worked for me, and this night would be no different. We ate heartily preparing for tomorrows adventure and Kris dropped us off at the hotel for a good night's sleep. 

Barbeque Chicken Pizza at McMenamins

     Kris picked us up in the dark on Saturday morning and off we went South towards Salem, then East into the mountains to Silver Falls State Park. We arrived shortly before 8:00  A.M. The first race of the day, the 50k had already started. The marathon was scheduled to start at 8, and our race, the 7 miler was scheduled to start at 9:00 A.M. We headed to the check-in tent, and picked up our bib numbers and swag. One of the many things I liked about this race was the t-shirt purchase was a 10.00 option. The race directors didn't force us into buying the shirts. After we checked in, we wandered around the check-in tent and there was a portable bar set up serving free shots of Fireball whiskey. Not the type of people to disappoint, we did partake in small shots of Fireball to warm us up on a cold morning. 

The check-in area prior to the start of the Silver Falls Trail Races

Course Map of the 7-mile race at Silver Falls State Park.

Doing our Fireball shots prior to the start of the Silver Falls Trail Race.

     It was nice seeing the marathon start promptly on time at 8:00 A.M. This meant everything else would probably be on time, and it was. I did my warm-up, hit the porta potties a couple of times, and was soon ready for the start. I told Kris and Robin I would see them at the finish and lined up towards the front. I wasn't sure how long it would be before we hit single track trails and I didn't want to get stuck in the pack. I wasn't in great shape since I haven't trained too much due to plantar fasciitis issues so I didn't push myself too much on the initial hills. Soon the course went downhill towards the water which meant we had to come back up to finish. The weather was about 40 degrees, overcast, but no wind. Perfect for running. There was a chance of rain in the forecast, but it held off for the race.
     The race description told of beautiful waterfalls along the course, and we weren't disappointed. The first couple wasn't much to see, but before long we were running along and under some of the most fantastic scenery I have ever seen. We actually ran under the waterfalls. In one of them I had to duck my head as I ran, and in another, it was so dark I couldn't see the ground, but I could feel the moisture through my Nike Terra Kiger shoes.

 Waterfalls like this were everywhere along the course.

We ran under the waterfalls

At some point in the race, Robin caught up with Kris who was busy stopping to take pictures.
Note the cool waterfall in the background.

     I checked my watch and we were nearing mile five, and still running along the river. The stairs and switchbacks out of the canyon would be upon me soon enough, so I slowed down a little hoping to make the best of what was to come. What came was I the fact I wasn't in good enough shape to run up the stairs and switchbacks. I did my best power walking up the stairs, using the banister to help propel me up. When we got brief downhill or flat sections I ran at a reduced pace, fearful of the infamous "nutbuster" hill I had heard about that was close to the finish. I was soon out of the canyon and running towards the finish area. I had survived the switchbacks by walking with purpose. My mistake was, I thought the switchbacks was the "nutbuster" hill, but I was mistaken. I could see the big white tent and hear the announcer, but the course took me suddenly to the right and straight up. This was the hill, and I was relegated to walking with purpose again. I got passed by a masochist who tried running up the hill, and I got passed again on the downhill which was wet and grassy. I survived the descent with the rubber side down and proceeded to pass back everyone that had gotten by me in the short but steep up and downhill section right before the finish. I finished 69th overall, third in my age group in a time of 1:12:27. I took my finishers medal and headed to the beer truck for my first post-race IPA. The beer was supplied by Seven Brides Brewing and was fantastic. One of the great things about this race was there was no limit on how many beers one could drink after the race. Since my son was driving I decided I would enjoy a few of the tasty IPA's, and I'm not known for liking that type of beer, but on this morning they were great.

Seven Brides Brewing provided the post-race refreshments.

I got third in my age group, the guys that beat me must have been in the beer or porta potty line.

     My beer cup was empty when my son Kris finished, but that was easily remedied. Not too long after he finished Robin came in. It was at this time that I learned that a runner had had a medical issue out on the course. For the second time this year, Robin came upon people performing CPR on a runner during a race. We later learned the runner passed away from an apparent heart attack. our condolences go out to his family. 
     Not only did the race have great beer, but they also had all of the homemade chili we could eat. We had chili and beer, waited around for the awards, and picked up our race receipts. I'm not sure what else to call them, but when I went to look at the results posted on the wall a guy with a laptop and printer called out my name and handed me a slip of paper with all of my race statistics on it. This was another cool feature of this race. It was time to head back to Beaverton.
     The race may have been over but the weekend wasn't. Kris dropped us off at the hotel. We hit the indoor pool for some cool down exercises in the water, showered, and Kris picked us up so we could hit the town. Our first stop was the Thirsty Lion. We all had a beer and split some appetizers. From there we went to Orenco to hang out at the Pizza Schmizza to watch the Ducks game. The game wasn't great for Oregon fans so we headed back towards the hotel, stopping at Room 122, a taphouse, for a nightcap. 

Appetizers and beers at the Thirsty Lion

     Sunday morning found us heading to the Tri-Met station for a quick run into downtown Portland where we would spend the day. Our first stop was at Jakes Grill for brunch where we would be meeting some friends of mine from high school 40 years ago. The food and drinks were great, but the laughter and memories were better. The meal ended way too soon and I can't wait to sit down and catch up some more with those two. 
I met up with Judy and Scott from high school at Jake's Grill in Portland

     Robin had one more spot she wanted to hit, and it was a bucket list place for her. Hanna Andersen is one of her favorite clothing lines and there was a store within walking distance. Off we went, it was only a few blocks. Fortunately for Kris and I, there was a fine looking pub called Life of Riley across the street for us to kill time in. Robin went one way, and we headed into the Life of Riley for a pint and appetizers. 

Beers and appetizers at Life of Riley. Note the Hanna Andersen bag, Robin was successful.

     From Life of Riley, we headed to Tilts for some more burgers and beers. It was a three block walk. Downtown Portland is full of fun places to eat and drink, and we were trying to hit as many as we could. The cool thing about Tilts is the decor is old school machine shop. I went with the jalapeno burger and a beer and it was very tasty. There were no paper napkins, just orange shop towels. I checked mine for metal chips before wiping my face. Old habits die hard.
My jalapeno burger at Tilts Portland

Tilts didn't have just burgers and beers. Check out the pie selection.

     The final stop of the night would be near the Portland Timbers stadium to watch the Timbers playoff game in a bar. If you've never been to Portland during a Timbers game you don't know what you are missing. Everyone is dressed in the team colors, and all the screens in bars are tuned to the game. NFL takes a back seat during Timbers games. We ate at Henry's Tavern, and the food was again delicious. Soon enough the game was over and we all headed to the nearest Tri-Met Stop for the ride back to Beaverton. Kris took us back to the Marriott where we said our goodbyes until Christmas. 
     Monday morning I did an easy run, then we hit Einstein Bros. Bagels next to the hotel for breakfast. The food was good, and they had the largest selection of cream cheeses I've ever seen.

My bagel sandwich at Einstein Bros. Bagels

     After breakfast, we packed our bags and checked out. Since Kris was working we used the bus to get us to the Tri-Met station for the ride to the airport. We didn't have to wait too long for the bus, and luckily it wasn't raining. We got to the airport, checked our bags, and settled down for some lunch at Henry's PDX.

The beers at Henry's PDX were about the same price as Henry's in downtown Portland,

     Our flight boarded on time, and if any passengers were wearing Portland Timbers shirts they got to board with the first class passengers. Unfortunately, I had a passenger sitting next to me that wasn't a runner, and he took up his seat and overflowed into mine a bit. I'm just glad the flight to Burbank was a short one. When we landed we got on the wrong shuttle, so that was exciting. Twenty minutes later we were on the proper shuttle headed to our car. You got to love small airports. By now we were hungry again so we decided to stop at Hoke Poke in Santa Clarita on our way home. Thank you, Bobby, for starting this place. It was nice to finish our weekend off with some healthy food.

 My spicy tuna poke bowl from Hoke Poke in Santa Clarita, CA

     Starting next year I have decided to give the races I do a rating. I'm going to rate them on all aspects of the race from the ease of check-in to course difficulty. Flat courses will be lagers, and trail runs will be IPA's. The rating will consist of one to six beers, with six being the best. If I were to rate the Silver Falls Trail races it would easily be six IPA beers. Stay tuned in 2018 as I work out the kinks in my rating system and travel around to various races.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Prostate Cancer Surgery One Year Removed

     Today is the one year anniversary of my prostate cancer surgery. It has been a rather eventful year. I had to potty train myself and learn to run again. I can kegel as good as anybody, but it was a fun few months learning how to do things I used to take for granted.
     Before I get into the highlights of the past year, I need to thank my wife Robin for everything she does for me. She was a big help keeping me positive when things were a little rough. I need to also thank some wonderful friends that went with me to various running races as I attempted to get back to my normal self. Okay, those of you that know me can stop laughing about the "normal" part. We all got matching shirts and went to various races around California, Nevada, and Oregon. We trained hard, raced hard, and celebrated finishing those races by partying hard. Okay, not like the 80's, but we all had a good time.No matter how the race went we made sure we had fun before and afterward, sometimes even during the race. Some of my friends would make me laugh so hard I peed myself, but I wouldn't trade those moments for anything.

Sporting our matching Running with Prostate Cancer shirts at the Wild Wild West Marathon

     Besides all of the running I did this year, I was also the Grand Marshall at our local Relay for Life. It was different being the person that stood up there talking about my experiences battling cancer. The event was cut short by a violent microburst, but we all made it back for the luminaria.
     I also became a grandpa for the first time when Brandon and Torri gave us Henry. I can't wait to teach him about the finer things in life from my perspective as he grows older. We flew back to South Carolina to visit. I ate at a Waffle House for the first time. Life was good that weekend. 
     Robin and I got up to Oregon again to visit Kris. We all had a blast and did a fantastic trail race up there. We sampled as many of the local dining establishments as possible.
     Through all of this, I have learned about how my body has changed because of the surgery. I don't pass up rest stops when traveling anymore. I'm able to consume drinks with caffeine again, but that has only happened recently. I can do anything without needing a diaper or pad except run hard. Running easy seems to no longer be an issue. 
     The best news of all regarding my cancer is it's still undetectable. I've had three PSA tests since my surgery and all of them have come back as undetectable. I still get nervous during the time between the test and the appointment to get the test results, but this is normal, and I will be nervous next June when I get tested again. Until then I plan to keep running, help Robin train for her first trail marathon, meet up with friends to practice, race, and consume post run nourishment, which is a good enough excuse to want to keep cancer at bay for the rest of my life.

2017 Rowdycon 5k; Race Report #20

     Ever since I did the SAR Bigfoot Race in Shaver Lake I had intermittent pain in the bottom of my feet. At first, I thought it was from the shoes I wore that day as I have not put too many miles in them. It soon became obvious that I was suffering from plantar fasciitis. I did a 10 mile run by myself up and down Mt. Pinos a week after the Howlin at the Moon race, and I had pretty good pain afterward. I took ten days off, then did a 4 mile run just a couple of days before a small 5k race in Bakersfield. I also started taping my feet with kinesiology tape and wearing some tight arch supports.
     The race I went to was called the Rowdycon 5k and was held at Cal State Bakersfield. It was a small race put on by the kinesiology department. I love the course as it was a big loop around the campus. Robin had other commitments so I made the drive down to the race by myself. I did meet David and Aden there so there were three of us from up on the mountain. 
     I did a couple of miles for a warm-up, and my feet felt okay. When the gun went off I stayed back for awhile trying not to go out hard and put too much of a strain on the bottom of my feet. I hit the first mile in 6:35. Since I hadn't done much running over the past three weeks I knew I would suffer towards the end of the race. My second mile was 6:53, and mile last mile was 7:00 flat. I finished 9th overall with a time of 21:12. The time was good enough for first in my age group. Aden and David also placed in their age groups so we all three got cool medals that actually turned in the middle.

Results from the Rowdycon 5k in Bakersfield, CA on September 30, 2017

     After the race, we hit Lengthwise Brewing for some burgers and beers, then we headed over to Sole to Soul Sports to purchase some more running goodies while we were down in town.

My post-race chili size from Lengthwise Brewing

Monday, December 25, 2017

Howlin at the Moon 5k; Race Report #19

     On Saturday night, September 9th, we headed down to Riverwalk Park in Bakersfield for the Howlin at the Moon 5 and 10k runs. This event is put on by the Bakersfield Police Department and is one of my favorite races every year. Robin and I met Trevor and Andrea there, along with Stan, Lisa, Aden, and David for a night of running fun. I did my usual warm-ups and strides. My feet were still hurting a little, and that soon subsided. The temperature was rather hot for a night time race, as the thermometer said it was a balmy 88 out, just dipping below the magic 90 number. We all had headlamps on for the race. The race was being chipped timed by the Bakersfield Track Club and post race meals were catered by Dickies Barbecue. We got all of this plus more for our 25.00 pre-entry.  This race is easily one of the best things going, yet there could be a lot more runners entered.
     The course was out and back on the Kern River bike path, and it was flat and fast. The lead vehicle is a police Quad with light strobes going. All of the runners are given glow in the dark bracelets and necklaces which makes everything look really cool when out on the course. The police put portable strobe lights on the ground at the 5k turnaround, along with a portable set of stadium lights and the aid station. It was impossible to miss.
     I didn't take off too fast at the gun, but I did settle into a quick pace, hoping to go sub 20:30. My first mile was a 6:21. I could see Aden not too far ahead of me still. It wasn't long before the turnaround point came into view. It was a bright beacon on the dark Bakersfield landscape. I watched in astonishment as Aden, who had already run a high school race earlier in the day, kept on going at the 5k turnaround, he just followed the runner ahead of him who happened to be running the 10k.
     I did the turnaround and headed back the other way, now running at people with their bobbing headlamps and glow in the dark accessories. The view is cool, but it was tough to concentrate on the people and ground while trying to maintain my pace. I saw Robin and our friends heading out as I headed back. I passed the only guy I was close to, as the other 5k runner was too far ahead for me to catch. When I went under the road and passed California Pizza Kitchen I knew the race had only a half mile to go. Stan was there cheering me on, but I knew I had lost too much time to still be able to break 20:30.
     I finished in 20:46. It wasn't under my goal time but it was my fastest 5k this year. I finished in second overall, and first in the 50-59 age group. It wasn't long before all my friends finished the 5k. I told David his son missed the turnaround and was now doing the 10k. Aden ended up finishing second overall in the 10k and received some grief from everyone for missing the well-marked turnaround.

Results from the Howlin at the Moon 5k

      The awards in this race are great. They are beverage glasses. Some would call them beer mugs, or pints. They have the race logo and finishing place on them. Remember, this race was only 25.00 to pre-register for. We got our awards and gave our meal tickets to David and Aden before heading to BJ's for some more fun, food, and drinks.

The really cool awards at the Howlin at the Moon 5 and 10k

     The race also holds a raffle after the awards. Every entry gets a raffle ticket which you place in the container for the item you hope to win. There's everything from bikes and T.V.s to spa getaways. You have the option to purchase more tickets. Did I mention the race was only 25.00 to pre-register for? The best part is all of the proceeds go the Bakersfield Police Department K-9 Department.

College of the Canyons 2017 Cross Country Series Finale; Race Report #18

     After six weeks of running every Thursday night at College of the Canyons, the big race was finally here. Unlike the Bakersfield Cross Country Series where points were earned every race, College of the Canyons came down to one race for all the marbles. It was August 17, 2017, and it was time to put up or shut up.
     This race was all about age group bragging rights, and a guy named Angel Guzman had dominated the 55-59 age group all year. He had run over a minute faster than I had to this point. This being a finals night I knew my SCR buddy Nigel Toates would be tough to beat as he always seems to run well at finals. One runner in our age group that had been fast early in the series, Greg Garmin, did not participate due to an automobile accident, but we're all looking forward to racing with him next year.
     I decided to go old school as far as shoes go for this race and I brought out my brand new pair of green Nike waffle racers. The shoes I have are actually replicas of the shoes I wore in high school and college. They even have 1977 on the insole. I don't think they are made for running, but I decided to bring them out and got a lot of great comments on the vintage nylon shoes.

My green Nike waffle racers

     I went through my normal warm-up, my legs didn't feel too tired from all of the racing I had done this summer, but the bottom of my feet hurt a little bit. That pain went away as I loosened up before the start. Robin, Keith, and Ethan also were there to finish off another COC summer series. It was nice to see some of the Frazier Mountain runners besides Aden show up for this race as well. The weather was fairly mild for August, only about 86 degrees out when we lined up on the baseball field for the start.
     I did some extra strides and lined up close to the front. I got a great start at the sound of the gun and went out fairly hard to beat some of the high school kids to the first turn. I felt good as we wound our way out and around the baseball fields.

Heading towards the center of campus early in the College of the Canyons Summer Series finale.
 Photo by Margaret Bates

     I tried to settle in at a decent pace but not hard enough that I would die when we got to the big hills during mile two. It always amazes me at how many runners don't hit the tangents or set themselves up for an upcoming turn so as not to lose momentum. The College of the Canyons course is fairly tight during the first 3/4 of a mile and some runners have no clue as to how to properly negotiate that type of a course. I have learned that when running this course, my best times come when I hit the first mile at a fairly good pace and I did a good job of that running a 6:28 for mile number one, by far my fastest time of the year. 

Feeling good rounding the turn to head up to the first-mile marker
Photo by Margaret Bates

     Now came the fun part, trying to maintain speed in the hills. I didn't try to go hard up the hill at mile one, just maintaining a nice steady pace. I was using my usual short strides and concentrated on the ground as I went. When we got to the freeway portion I was in a good place and floated along trying to miss the soft spots. Soon enough we were at killer hill. I started my usual short easy steps up the hill and got passed by people walking. I figured what the heck, and I went into the power walk mode. I'm still not sure what's better for me, but I passed those guys back as we topped the second half of killer hill. Little did I know that this was Angel Guzman, and we were actually battling for the age group title. In fact, we had been together since about mile one, I just didn't know who he was. I pushed myself down the hill towards the small hills on the top of the course. This is the hardest part of the race because your legs are fried from the steep uphills. My second mile split was a 7:35, by far my fastest of the year. From this point to the finish it was downhill to the track. No more uphills. When I got to the pavement Greg Garmin shouted at me to lean forward. I was just trying to maintain form and turnover to the track. When we got to the track I started pumping my arms as hard as I could and I got back around Angel Guzman that had passed me as we entered the stadium. I could feel him behind me and gave it everything I had, drifting out a little in the final turn, but still protecting the inside of the track. I held on to beat him to the line. My third mile was 6:14 but my pace on the track running to the finish was 4:48. 

I won my age group by a tenth of a second

     This was the most fun I've had actually racing since college. Most runs or races we do turn out to be time trials, not actually racing against another person. It was my fastest time at College of the Canyons by over a minute this year and I had a blister on each heel from my replica waffle racers for my effort. I quickly downed some waters and went out in search of Robin and whomever else I could find to cheer on to the finish. I ran and walked uphill backward on the course, cheering on the FMHS runners, some SCR's, and then there was Robin. She was looking great and powered her way to the finish with her best time of the season and a third-place finish in her age group.  
     College of the Canyons gives everyone who ran the series a free dinner on the finals night. Robin, Ethan, Keith and I elect to go to Loves Sushi and forego the dinner and awards ceremony. We gave our meal tickets to some high school runners and headed out. Our friends picked up our medals for us and we went out for a quick bite before our respective long drives home. 

Our post-race treats at Loves Sushi

     I survived the finals race without any Depends issues. I was still having leakage but nothing like the one race earlier in the season. My only issues were the bottom of my feet hurt and blisters on the back of my heels from the shoes. This also was the first time in years we had run all of the races. We are already looking forward to next year, but it's going to get tougher for me as I will be in the last year of my age group.