2009 ING Bay to Breakers

I'd like to welcome back the voice of Bay to Breakers (B2B) for this blog, our very own:  Ami Kelly Hodge. I asked her to be a guest blogger in early February when they announced changes for this year's B2B and she was kind enough to share her experience from a week ago at the 2009 ING Bay to Breakers 12k in San Francisco. Enjoy.

I said I probably wasn't going to do it. All the publicity about restricting alcohol and floats and nudity had me all up in arms over this year's Bay To Breakers. It's not that the restrictions affect me directly, it's just that these are all things I have come to look forward to in this annual event. If B2B was to become just a regular 12K cross-town race, I wanted no part.

But, as time went on and the public outcry became louder, I could see the people weren't going to just walk away from these restrictions. Groups of outraged participants joined forces and formed groups such as "Citizens for the Preservation of Bay2Breakers." They had meetings with city council members and held parties that had tag lines like "Death of Fun in San Francisco? Hell NO!" This was more than just a mere boycott…this was a revolt!

Now I was intrigued.  

I had a feeling that the outrage would actually push the limits of current restrictions even further. And, that was something I had to see.

Given the fact that Bay To Breakers usually attracts over 100,000 participants, it's fair to say I cannot expect to make any PRs (personal records). I have a habit of registering at the last minute, which automatically puts me in the back of the pack. Once the race begins, it usually takes me 10 minutes just to reach the start gate. Even if I try to run my fastest, I find myself dodging walkers, strollers, people in bulky costumes, old ladies trying to cross the street or some knucklehead who thinks it's funny to run at full speed...the wrong way! This year proved to be no exception. The other problem with trying to run fast is that you actually miss all the really outrageous stuff at the back. By the time I reached the incline at Hayes Street Hill, I probably had 50-60,000 people behind me. As I was trudging up the 11% grade, wishing it was 55 degrees instead of 75, I was also beginning to reconsider running at all. I remembered the main reason I caved and participated this year: the bawdiness!  

Where was it? The nude runners, the motorized tiki floats with frat guys pouring margaritas, the maudlin crowd who started drinking at 7AM, the multiple Elvises (or is that Elvii?). I had a hard time believing that the Save the B2B group actually relented and caved to the restrictions.
When I reached the top of Hayes St. Hill, I paused to consider walking the rest of the way. I turned to look at the crowd that was trailing me. It was a sea of bobbing heads for as far as I could see, which was about 10 blocks. I suffered an internal struggle: Should I see if I could make a PR from last year or submerge myself in the festivities and come home with something really good to talk about?! I noticed several TV and camera crews nearby which helped me with my decision.  

I continued running back down Hayes Street toward the panhandle of Golden Gate Park, taking in as much of my surroundings as possible. It was quite possibly at that moment I realized no one was going to change the true essence of Bay To Breakers, no matter what the outcome. The same people who probably complained about last year's debauchery and human excrement in their driveways were out yet again, cheering everyone on. The Victorians that line Fell Street were pumping out music and people were cheering from their windows, front steps and rooftops,. "Yay, runners!" was a constant yet welcoming chant that could be heard all the way to the beginning of Golden Gate Park.

At this point, it felt like the home stretch. Just a few more miles to go with a nice gradual decline back to the coast. The ocean breeze started to hit my face and I felt like this was where I was going to pick up speed and actually make that PR! But not a moment sooner did I feel my confidence kick in when a dozen joggers with salmon heads start weaving through the crowd and as tradition has it, the wrong way. Then, right when I untangled from that fray I almost collided with half a dozen naked male and female runners. And, yes, I mean runners! It was all I could do to refrain from asking awkward questions about comfort and support. I don't know if it was the heat or fatigue but I kept telling myself "I have to beat the naked runners! I can't let them beat me!" That just sounds so funny in retrospect.

In the end, I don't really know who was ahead or in front of me. I finished having beat my PR in 40 seconds and honestly felt I ran the best I could given the circumstances. I high-fived my friends at the end of the race and jubilantly exclaimed "Let's do it again next year!”. I was already giddy with excitement.  

When I had time to reflect on the day's events and watch coverage on TV, it seemed very little was different about Bay To Breakers this year. There was some compromise over how much law enforcement there would be over alcohol consumption and nude running. Flamboyant floats still passed through town, although not motorized. There was just enough police coverage to keep things pretty peaceful and yet have a few rule breakers slip through. It was refreshing to see headlines the next day focus on how subdued and fun the event was as opposed to the rudeness and lack of respect. All the pictures and videos show nothing but happy participants and spectators, including the usual suspects.

I am really glad I decided to run this year because now I know "death of fun" did not succeed in San Francisco that day. Bay To Breakers 2009 proved that is alive and well!

Thank you Ami for a wonderful recap and great insight (again) into Bay to Breakers. Feel free to share you comments or experiences below in the comments. Maybe next year I'll give it a go.


Hit the Road Jack 10k

It's official. I am addicted to speed (relatively speaking). I just signed up to participate in my second ever 10k. It is the Hit The Road Jack 10k in Santa Rosa and is taking place on June 7th. The Run begins on the north side of the historic Sonoma Plaza. Both the 10K and 2.2 mile are loop courses that wind through the vineyards and the beautiful Sonoma countryside, offering beautiful scenery and views of the Sonoma Valley countryside.

I am in no way considering myself "fast," but I am enjoying picking up my pace in shorter runs. I have found that my body has become too accustomed to cruising at 10 min. miles and if I want to improve on my marathon time, I need to re-focus on my pace. Over the past couple weeks I have been trying to bring my minutes per mile down between 7 and 9 minuter per mile for extended milage. It usually starts with a 9-10 min mile as a warm up, then once I feel "loose," I'll open my stride and speed up. So far it has been a success. 

Below are my recent average paces:
7.7 miles at 9:13 pace
6.0 miles at 8:30 pace
4.7 miles at 9:09 pace

This weekend I have a 10 mile run, so we'll see if I can keep the speed up for that long. I am also looking forward to making my way back to the track for additional speed work. Hope everyone has a fantatsic three-day weekend.


Summer Race Schedule

San Francisco is not known for warm temperatures, so when it hit 85 it got me thinking about everyone's summer race schedule.

The heat is upon us (some worse than others) and we are about to enter the month of June in a couple weeks. Graduations are taking place, summer school is around the corner and the baseball season is catching it's stride. All those things point to summer, so here is my tentative summer schedule:

June 7 - Hit the Road Jack 10k
July 26 - San Francisco Marathon

So there is it, what is on tap for you: 
Racing in cooler climates?
Taking on the heat one mile at a time?
Or focusing on training for a fall race?


Duvall Days

The 4th annual Duvall Days Fun Runs is weeks away and the word on the Pavement is that this is a race not to be missed.

On June 6 the city of Duvall will be hosting the 4th Annual Duvall Days Fun Runs. The runs will include a 5k and a 10k starting at McCormick Park. If I was fortunate enough to be in the area, or have the funds to make the trip, then I could see myself tackling the hills and elevation that surround the 10k, but let's start with the 5k information first.

5k Run/Walk; Start time 9 a.m.
Flat, fast 5K course on a wide, straight dirt-and-gravel path (no pavement). Scenic out-and-back course along the Snoqualmie Valley trail. Walkers are welcome, and encouraged to enter the 5K. This run is for everyone - fast or slow. Course Map.

10k Run; Start time 8:45 a.m.
Within the first 1.4 miles, the elevation goes from 46 ft. to 415 ft. and I don't know if it was the training for the Big Sur hills or running in San Francisco, but the last few months I have grown a passion for tackling hills. Over the next 3 miles of the 10k course, the elevation rises to 475 ft. followed by the remaining 1.2 mi. a (net) downhill route.

There will also be a variety of kid dashes held after the 5k and 10k events along with post-race food and activities with the centerpiece of the day being the Duvall Days Parade, which begins immediately after the runs. Post-race awards will be handed out in the finish area.

Registration is available online (mail in forms must be postmarked by 5/22) and day of race registration will be available from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

$20 before May 22, 2009
$25 from May 23 through June 4th. 
Day of Race registration is $30. 

All registrants prior to May 22, 2009 are guaranteed a T-shirt. 
Whether you are running, walking, cheering and supporting or simply out there to enjoy the festivities, the day seems to be filled with something for everyone. Registration is still open and the event is 3 weeks away, leaving you plenty of time to get ready. In the words of the event: 

Run Fast. Run Hills. Run Duvall.


Running Together

Last night, I was thinking of enjoying an easy 3-5 mile run. But one of the perks of running with friends is that they can increase your energy and get you to run harder or longer than originally planned. Both good things.

7.7 miles later at a 9:20 pace I arrived back at the Adidas store. When I arrived at the store earlier we were presented with the option of a 4-mile run or a 7.5-mile route. I thought four felt too short, and 7+ felt too long. A running buddy of mine asked me which I would choose and what my pace would be. She was interested in a 10 min pace, and I was looking to see if I could maintain a quicker pace for a longer distance. We were both on the fence about the longer distance unsure of what we would do.

Minutes later two other runners came by us and said 7.5, let's go and motioned towards us to join them. Done. Our decision was made. Neither of us were sure we wanted to run that long on a Monday after work, but that is what running friends can do; they help you get to where you
might not have gone alone.

Every weekend I train with an amazing group of runners and sometimes I rely on them to pull me along and other times it may be me that is asked to help pull a runner that might not be feeling it that day. Here is another runner, and fellow blogger, that recently had an experience in running with friends. (Girl Who Loves to Run)

Try it out, the next time you have a run scheduled on the weekend, invite some friends to join you. Then afterwards you can enjoy breakfast or brunch. Maybe it will be you that has to help motivate others, but runner's karma will always help you out when you need it.


The Relay 2009

12 runners, 2 vans, 6 drivers, 2 volunteers, the rain and 200 miles. The Relay. Results: 28:36:26, 62 of 225 and a weekend I will never forget. (more pictures coming soon).

A few months back, a runner in our group brought up the idea of putting together a 12 person team to participate in a 199 mile Relay. It was set to be a week after Big Sur, but seemed to be an opportunity none of us wanted to miss. Our team would be formed by 11 men and 1 woman under the name: Lori's Lusty Lads.

I tried to write this out as a story and it got way too long with too many details for even me to enjoy. So here is a timeline that will give you a general overview of our 30 hour adventure. I am leaving so much out that I will hopefully cover in future posts. Enjoy. (Time of day log is a rough estimate give or take 15 mins. and I can only cover what we experienced in Van 2)

11:00 a.m. (Sat.)
First runner starts and Van 1 is off.

1:00 p.m. (Sat.)
I arrive at our meeting point, have trouble parallel parking and am the target for ensuing jokery. :)

3:00 p.m. (Sat.)
Van 1 exchanges to Van 2 in Napa. Van 1 completes their legs 25 mins ahead of pace.

5:10 p.m. (Sat.) 
I start my first leg and finish 5.4 miles in 50 minutes. It's relatively flat and is my first run since Big Sur. My legs feel strong and am pleased with the results.

6:00 p.m. or so (Sat.) 
We receive a 4-letter text from Drew, our runner #10, who is running a 9 mile leg that includes a 1000 ft. incline over 3 miles (in the mud and fog). And the text was not duck.

7:00 p.m. or so (Sat.) 
We receive a voicemail from Drew that he lost our bracelet. (The Relay's version of a baton that each runner will carry.)

7:20 or so (Sat.)
We receive another voicemail from Drew (was he actually running, or on the phone?) that the bracelet has been found. We start laughing and coming up with ways he may have stolen a bracelet from a cow or a fellow runner.

7:30 p.m. (Sat.)
Diego and Thor make their first appearance. (inside joke)

7:30 p.m. (Sat.)
Van 2 realizes the coolers in our van have sandwiches. The coolers were packed by a fellow runner and we are so excited by the event, we have failed to look inside them. From here in out we can't stay out of the coolers for snacks and drinks (and brownies).

I notice that our van has been "tagged." Another Van wrote "TAXI :)" on our van window. It was their team name and they had been writing it on several other vans in good fun. Marc and I consider strategic maneuvers to retaliate, but they never come to fruition. Next year, TAXI is going down.

9:58 p.m. (Sat.)
Van 2 exchanges to Van 1 in Marin and the last runner in our van has a short, quiet conversation with their first runner. The Bracelet was officially lost and Richard, our runner #12, is ridiculed the remaining of the trip in good fun.

After each Van has ran their first legs, Lori's Lusty Lads are an hour ahead of schedule.

Van 2 heads for San Francisco for a short rest. Several shower and close their eyes for a quick nap and Tom packs (it was his home).

1:15 a.m. (Sun.)
Van 2 heads for the next van exchange at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Van 1 continues their speed through the night, rain and fog finishing their second stretch. 

Van 2 discovers that there is a PINK CD in the car and is immediately played (more than once). Enjoyment ensues.

4:00 a.m. (Sun)
I start my second leg and am thrilled to have the opportunity to run at night. I take some great advice from Tom, a fellow runner in our van, and keep the light of the headlamp several feet in front of me. I can't see anything except drizzling rain and what is in my general vicinity, so I point it ahead of me and follow the white bike line for 6.4 miles. I finish in 54 mins. well ahead of my projected time.

Drew (the phone guy) is off after my exchange. He has a short leg of 4.2 miles. As we leave to follow him, we see that he has taken off at an extraordinary speed and there is serious consideration that he may beat the van to the exchange point.

Chris, the next runner seems to have taken our reverence for Drew's quick start personally (joking) and logs the fastest min. per mile time covering 3.7 miles with 26 mins. He finished so fast, Richard, the next runner, is still in his warm jacket at the exchange and is startled when his name is screamed.

6:47 a.m. (Sun.)
Van 2 exchanges with Van 1 near Redwood City. We are an hour and half ahead of schedule, but enjoy a rest at a friends house. We all shower, some close their eyes for rest, but we all enjoy a wonderfully prepared breakfast.

Van 2 awaits for Van 1 in the rain there is no cell reception in the mountains, so it gets a little interesting as we await the exchange with a significant number of other vans.

10:36 a.m. (Sun.)
Van 2 exchanges with Van 1 after the final runner in Van 1 (our famed Lori) conquers a over 1000 ft incline over 3 miles. An incredible feet at a fast pace all things considered.

Van 2 is off with Tom blazing down a 6.2 mile stretch with 7 min. miles for his final run. Way to go Tom.

12:15 p.m. (Sun).
I begin my third and final run over 6.3 miles in the pouring rain. I finish in 50 mins. with my fastest min per mile pace of the event. Afterwards, I am soaking wet and steam is emanating off me like football players in the cold. Not just from my head, but my entire upper body. The locals and fellow runners stare and comment as they walk by. (including one guy who was holding a hamburger.)

1:10 p.m. (Sun.)
A tree has fallen and is blocking the course. Drew is re-routed adding a half mile to his already 6.2 mile uphill course.

1:30 p.m. (Sun.)
I see Dean Karnazes in the back of a van, changing his shoes. Dean is well known for running the 200 mile relay alone. Yes, alone.

Chris, finishes his final leg (uphill) and is relieved to be done. He developed a significant blister during his first run and had been limping in between runs and protecting it with mole skin. Considering he had difficult legs to begin with and to top it off with a blister — Chris was showing his heart and strength. He then emails us a picture of his blister several days later and I can't believe he was able to pull through it. 

3:35 p.m. (Sun)
Richard rounded off the final leg for Lori's Lusty Lads and in true fashion of The Relay, our team met him at the end and we ran the final 50 yards together and crossed the finish line as a team. Overall, we finished an hour and half ahead of schedule with the majority of the legs being run at faster than our projected pace.

It was quite an adventure and a weekend I will never forget. It is hard to top a weekend where you post a Marathon PR, but The Relay 2009 with Van 2 and fellow Lusty Lads was unforgettable.

There are so many inside jokes that filled the entire weekend that I was unable to share due to the length of the post, but let's put it this way. 6-7 runners in a van for 30 hours and under 2 hours sleep for each of us during the entire period. IT WAS SO MUCH FUN. Our Van had so much energy and supported one another and other runners the entire time. I couldn't have been happier with the enthusiasm of our crew. Thanks guys.

Look for (in future posts): a more detailed recap of my legs, more inside jokes, a heart-felt thank you to our volunteers, the importance of being organized and more.


Busy Running Around

Good morning everyone. I will be busy this weekend running around, literally. Starting today, I am participating in a 12 person Relay from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. It will be 200 miles over a 30 hour period. I will be responsible for 3 legs of the race and we will have two vans of six runners leap frogging one another.

It is going to be quite an adventure and Van 1 should be starting around 11 am. I'm in Van 2 (the Badlands Van) and we depart at 1:30 p.m. with my first leg around 5 p.m. I will be accessible through Facebook with frequent updates to our progress and would love any comments along the way. After all, I'm going to be awake for a good portion of the time... oh ya, and running a total of 18+ miles post Big Sur. Hopefully my legs have the energy. Party like a Rock Star!