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Monthly Archives: February 2014

(Contributed by Steve Lloyd. Steve joined the Pamakid Runners in June 2010 after his brother in law convinced him it was the best running club in the Bay Area.)

I still haven’t seen the leaders.

This wasn’t my first time running down the seemingly endless Great Highway, eager to hit the turnaround just before the ten mile mark of the Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon. In previous years, I was always stunned by how early I saw the leaders on their return trip. But here I was, well past the nine mile mark, and the other side of the road was still empty.

By the time they finally went by, the turn was in sight. First, a lead pack of three just beginning to break up. Four, five, six, and seven were strung out, then a gap. Eight and nine rolled by as my pack of five was about 100 yards from the turn.

We’re fighting for 10th place.

I immediately dropped the pace to the low 5:20s and left my pack behind. I didn’t really think about the fact that there was still 5k to go, and six weeks earlier I had only been able to manage 5:27/mi for a 5k time trial. Or that I was about to hit ten miles almost 2:30 faster than I had in my 1:16:30 half marathon PR from 2011, when I faded hard in the sun on a tough grind back in to the finish. Or that there were at least ten guys within striking distance of me if I ran out of gas.

If I was thinking anything, it was that there was a reason why I titled my pre-race shakeout run ‘Countdown to #BEASTMODE’. That yes, my goal of 1:14:59 was being conservative, or ‘sandbagging’ as a couple fellow Pamakids might say. That I had been running aggressively since the first mile with thoughts of a top ten finish in the back of my mind. I was in unknown territory, but confident that my training would carry me to the finish.

The rest of the race was a blur. By the time I made the last turn onto JFK I was in 9th, and I passed two more guys going up the hill to hit the line in 7th overall with a 4+ minute PR of 1:12:13. My last 5k took 16:53, three seconds faster than my 5k time trial six weeks earlier. The most common word I heard others use to describe my race was ‘unbelievable’.

At the finish.

At the finish.

So how did that happen?

I have no training secrets. I post every single run publicly on Strava (Disclaimer: I am employed by Strava, Inc.). Every run, from my fastest workouts to my ugliest bonks, is online for the world to see. Here’s a view of my training in the lead up to the race:

January Training

January Training

More Volume, Fewer Workouts

I’ve recently been experimenting with higher mileage and less frequent workouts. In the past, my volume would generally range from 50-60 miles per week, with two workouts and one long run each week. In this training cycle, I pushed my mileage up to 75, but rarely had more than two harder efforts (one workout, one long run) in a week. The extra recovery has also allowed me to run my long runs a little harder. It takes me a little longer to get fit with this strategy, but it has paid off tremendously with late race strength. This was the first half marathon I have ever run where I actually felt like I was racing in the closing miles.

Race-Specific Workouts

I have a tempo loop in Golden Gate Park that I run at half marathon effort about once a month. These tempo runs have helped build up confidence that I can really push the pace on the downhill sections through the park. Two weeks before race day, I ran half marathon effort from Stanyan to Great Highway on JFK as part of a workout.  My three miles going downhill were 5:33, 5:17, and 5:19. On race day I hit those same miles in 5:26, 5:14, and 5:14, confident that I could attack the downhill without costing myself later on.

Stroller Resistance Training

“Beach and Back with Kaia” is my staple Sunday recovery 10 miler pushing my daughter Kaia in the baby jogger. I’ve yet to average under seven minute pace with the stroller, but I’m starting to get close. It’s hard, but it makes running without the stroller seem that much easier.

What’s Next

I’m currently forcing myself to run short and easy to recover from the half marathon before kicking my Boston Marathon training into gear. Boston is only 10 weeks out, and it’s tempting to try to really push my training even harder, but I know that I’m already in shape for a big PR. The important part is getting to the starting line at 100%, and I can let Beast Mode take over after that.

(Contributed by Danni Baird. She joined the Pamakid Runners in early 2013.)

For those who don’t know me, my name is Danni Baird. I joined the Pamakid Runners Club early in 2013 and have loved being a part of the ultra team. I have also run a couple of the other races too but my passion lies with the ultras. I’m not a fast runner but I love the endurance aspect of pushing boundaries.

Pre-race team picture.

Pre-race team picture.

February 1st 2014 was a chilly early morning with an amazing group of 18 Pamakid teammates gathered together ready to take on the Jed Smith 50k. Jed Smith is the first PAUSATF race of the season. This race is also unusually flat for an ultra marathon, which presents a different kind of challenge. The course consists of one short out and back, followed by 6 loops. Being able to see faster teammates and cheer for them is nice, and also having a personal aid station of your stuff can be quite handy. We had our little Pamakid rest stop/aid station just before the finish area.

I’m not usually crazy about flat races because the repetition really wears on me and I start to get bored. I like hills — using the uphills to recover and the downhills to speed up. But I’m trying to become a more versatile runner and have some big races coming up that are quite flat so this was a good challenge and preparation. And I really love running with the team! So I jumped on the opportunity to run this race.

Jenni and Danni after both getting new PR's!

Jenni and Danni after both getting new PR’s!

The first few laps went great, and the day went from chilly to pleasant running weather. The fourth lap was difficult mentally and physically as the miles were adding up, and I hit a bit of a wall. But I rallied, pushed through and kept it going. As I was nearing the end of that lap it dawned on me that I was well ahead of pace for my PR and it was possible to keep going and score a good PR, even if I slowed down some. The last two laps were challenging but exciting with the possibility of a PR, and knowing that the finish line was approaching. And then that amazing moment, I finished with a whopping 40 minute PR! And my previous PR had been a downhill trail 50k! Couldn’t believe it. Running with friends and teammates is so encouraging and it helps me push myself (and the flat course might have helped too!). The weather really was perfect — being cool but not too cold and warming up without being hot. To top it off we didn’t have drop of rain (unlike the Kaiser San Francisco Half Marathon the next day).

After the race there was a fabulous post race potluck of all kinds of great foods and lots of wonderful socializing. Truly a wonderful day!

Pamakids relaxing at the post race potluck.

Pamakids relaxing at the post race potluck.

Special congratulations to our Top 10 individual finishers:

  • Charles Wickersham- 4th place Men
  • Colin Alley – 8th place Men
  • Kyria Wilson- 3rd place Women
  • Noriko Bazeley- 5th place Women

Since Jed Smith had 91 finishers in the 50k and 18 of them were Pamakids, the course was quite covered in green! It was very encouraging to see so many teammates running, and fun to cheer for each other. GO GREEN!

(Contributed by Riya Young [Riya Suising in other clubs]. Riya joined Pamakid Runners in 2013.

This is my first year with Pamakids, and the Clarksburg Country Run Half Marathon was the most fun race for me with the Pamakids team so far.  I have been running for 5 years now, and I also run with DSE Runners and the Palo Alto Run Club, but it’s always fun and exciting to race with Pamakids in the green singlets and to join the post-race potlucks.  What better reason is there for racing?

The club-sponsored races are always a big motivation, but earning PAUSATF points for Pamakids is always an exciting and competitive thing to do, for both myself and for the team.  For Clarksburg (near Sacramento), I decided to join this for two simple reasons – I had some free time in my schedule that weekend (actually I had a client appointment Sunday afternoon which I was able to push out to fit in the race), and I had a very convenient carpool to join, to make it all the merrier!

Go Green!

Go Green!

The race itself was a major local event.  The event had 20-mile, half marathon individual, half marathon relay, 10K, and 5K categories, with the half marathon individual being the PAUSATF championship race.  So besides lots of other fast PAUSATF runners at this event, we also had a share of local runners come join the scenic course through the local Clarksburg vineyards.

The course was flat, fast, and scenic.  The half marathon course was an out-and-back route with several sharp turns, but coming back the exact same route, so we knew exactly where we were all the time on the return and could expect when to turn next and when the next aid station would be.  In my carpool to the race, Mike Axinn warned us of a small “hill” in the first mile where we would cross over a levee.  We never noticed that, but did notice a slight downhill decline in that area on the way to back to the.  The “hill” must have been at most 3 feet in elevation.  The only other change in elevation I noticed on the course was approximately a 6-inch dip in the shoulder on the tight turns.  Besides that, the course was super flat and mostly straight, almost to the point of being boring even with the colorful vineyards, but strategically useful for helping me focus on my own pacing or counting the miles or aid stations.   The out-and-back course was also tactically helpful, to let me watch the leaders come back in, and I could also count my place back from the leaders, and focus on whom to pass on the way back to the finish, if I was able to maintain my pace.

The final mile of the race was fast and exciting.  Even though I was tired and looking forward to finishing, I could hear the crowd in the distance cheering on the finishers, which gave me the motivation to put in a final boost rounding the curves in the road approaching Delta High School.  Scoring was done on gun time only, as there were no timing chips, and timing and scoring was done manually but very accurately by race officials as finishers were pretty well spread apart at the finish.

The race itself was simple and local, but very well organized.  Arriving at Delta High School, a number of volunteers were guiding us to the athletic fields for parking, lining up the cars efficiently into rows, Disneyland-style.  Registration and bib pick-up were clearly organized in the high school gym with the port-a-potties and start line visible right outside.  We all got a very nice black, colorful, long sleeve tech shirt, but small sizes all ran out, and just a few were lucky enough to trade down sizes post-race.  The finisher medal was nice and colorful, and all runners were treated to a complimentary yet modest lunch in the school cafeteria, which had some real restrooms in addition to the port-a-potties outside.  Volunteers were friendly and plentiful at the event and throughout the course, making it a great experience to attend for the weekend and worth the sub-2-hour drive from San Francisco.  Registration fees were only $50-60 for the half marathon, making it very affordable for all runners, even as a non-sponsored race.

Probably the best part of my experience was carpooling with some of the Pamakids runners and getting to know them better, as I was a new member myself.  Louise Stephens drove her Honda Pilot SUV, and was able to take a total of 6 in the car, including Andy Chan, Mike Axinn, Roy Clarke, Danielle Hashem, and myself.  I’ve learned from races that my most memorable experiences come not from the race itself, but from the weekend experiences I spend with my travel buddies.  Besides enjoying the running, we were all able to enjoy our love for Peet’s Coffee both in San Francisco at Potrero Center before departure, and at Davis on the way back.  I scored an extra brownie point when I got a $1 discount off my Peet’s holiday drink from my Yelp check-in, and helped my teammates get the same discount off of theirs.

Louise, Riya, and Danielle before the race.

Louise, Riya, and Danielle before the race.

At the end, our carpool got back to San Francisco right on time, and I was able to quickly shower and get to my client appointment in San Jose 2 hours later, right on time as well.  Besides my carpool, other Pamakids at the Half Marathon included David Ly, John Spriggs, and Theo Jones, who placed 2nd in his age division.  It was a great weekend for a very nice race, and awesome to be able to run with a talented and supportive racing team.  Thanks everyone and Go Green!

Event website at http://www.clarksburgcountryrun.com/

Results at http://www.clarksburgcountryrun.com/results/2013-results/