Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hometown Win at the Manhattan Beach 10k

I was born and raised in Manhattan Beach California.  Every year on the first weekend of October the Old Hometown fair is held at Live Oak / Dorsey field.  The kick off for the fair is the Manhattan Beach 10k.  When I was a kid growing up friends of mine would run in the race but I never dreamed of running that extreme distance (lol).  I was a pudgy kid to say the least who enjoyed sports but never really enjoyed the running aspect of them.  In the year 2000 (sounds like the future huh) I started running at the age of 21 the goal was the Marathon and I ended running L.A, Palos Verdes, and Long Beach  But for some reason or another the Manhattan Beach 10k eluded me.  Most likely because that would be the first year I was allowed in the beer garden and my priorities were slightly different then.  I conquered my goal and gave up running.


From 2001-2005 I did not run.  It was during this time that my passion was Disc Golf  I played or competed at least 5 days a week, mostly 7.  In the summer 2005 while going through a break up and getting sick of the hustling lifestyle of Professional Disc Golf.  I set my sights on running once again.  Still well before I'd ever heard of Ultra, the Marathon was back on my mind and now I had no excuse not to run th MB 10k.

In the the 2005 race I finished in time of 39:35 61st overall and 8th in my age division.  They gave out awards to the top 10 in each age division, it was my first award as a runner and I wore it with pride at the beer garden.  It was great to run a race in my hometown and I was already looking forward to next year.

2006 I was now running on a somewhat regular basis I did the L.A. marathon that year and was planning to do Long Beach the following week.  I ran a 38:08 finishing 5th place in my age group and 45th overall.  I was happy with the improvement.

2007 I had my sights on getting my Marathon time under 3 hours which I ended up doing early in the year at P.V.  It was at that event that I first learned that their were races longer than 26.2 miles (The Ultra).  I figured I would never get any faster at the Marathon and that the future for me was too go farther.  I set my sites on the Avalon 50 mile held on Catalina Island in January 2008 as my goal.  I drastically increased my mileage from about 30 miles a week to between 60 and 80. I ran my first 50k that summer.  By the time then 10k came around I new I would do well. That year I ran a 35:50  finishing 16th  and 5th in my age group.  The whole race I was neck and neck with the first place woman Natalie Higley.  I would come around a turn and would hear the cheers "Way to go Natalie" or somthing like "First place woman woo."  What about me?  Nobody cared, nor did they have reason to.  I was not quick enough to compete with the fastest males but I was on par with top ladies.  Natalie is a much better runner than I, however she's about a foot shorter me.  I'm only about 6 ft tall but I've got extra long legs for my height.  Down the stretch I was able stride it out and beat her by a few seconds.  

2008 was year I became an Ultra Runner.  I couldn't get enough of running and was now up to 75-100 miles a week.  There was no method to my madness, if I had free time I spent it running. I was in better shape for distance and my 10k time took a small step backwards.  36:14 13th overall and second age group. My sister was competing to and we finished 6th in the cumulative Brother Sister division.  Once again I was battling it out with Natalie.  I didn't want to get "Chicked" (aka beaten by a girl) and she finished 1 spot behind me.
It looks so wrong to see me in shoes, Oh yeah Natalie is that girl on the left.

2009 was a year plagued with injury.  From May to October I did not race.  I had a100 miler planned for Holloween and my body was starting to come together.  Nearly all my runs over that summer were done Barefoot on the soft sand of the beach.  I had not done any training on cement or in shoes.  I had no clue what to put on my feet.  the night Before the race I settled on wearing a gold pair of Saucony street shoes that I hat not worn since the 2008 San Diego 100 mile race.  I figured if my feet could run 100 miles in them, I could handle 6.2 .  Finishing 13th the year before was nice but I wanted to crack the top 10 this time.  35:39 9th place 3rd age group and 3rd in the brother Sister division.  Natalie beat me earlier in the year at Redondo Beach 10k and I wanted some revenge, she was in the lead for the first 3 miles before I stepped it up beating her by at least 30 seconds.


It's been a pretty great last six months of racing for me.  Going into the hometown fair race I had won 5 out of last 10 races and twice finishing runner up.  My victories had come in different distance including 5k, 10k, Marathon and the 50k. I have won barefoot, in vibrams and while wearing Luna Sandal's the terrain has ranged from the beach, the mountains and from from flat paths to coastal peninsula's.  My confidence has been running high, pretty much each race I run has become a new personal record and I was ready to post a decent 10k time for the first time in my life.

Course map, Red stars represent places I lived growing up.

Race Day

Race day morning I was up by 4 a.m.  and ready to go but somehow forced myself into few more minutes of slumber. I went over to Mom's house (the star on the upper right of the map) just before 7 a.m. Where my friend's Jon and Kate (the bride and groom from a few weeks ago) would pick up my sister and I.  Jon would drop us and Kate (who was also running)  off at the starting line.  My left calf had been a little tight for the last few days.  I felt like I was at about 90% strength.  I was ready to give it my best and very excited to see how fast I could go in my Luna's.  I was optimistic that I could finish under  34 minutes. (about 2 mins faster than my previous PR) I knew the winner  would run around 33 mins flat maybe faster.  I figured if I did well I could crack the top 5, and maybe if the stars aligned right I would have a shot at something special. As added incentive a nice young lady friend of mine promised to put a smile on my face if I could run a a Sub 5:20 pace meaning 33 mins flat or better.

My recent success as well the few articles in the press have brought me some notoriety.  As I laced up my Luna sandals adjusting them to a perfect tightness to race in. I got a lot of strange looks and smiles. (I get the strange looks even w/out the sandal's) This time it was a little different people I didn't know, knew who I was and were wishing me luck, some even new about the sandal's.( although I was the only one smart enough to race in the them :). I saw about ten or so racing friends, we wished each other luck as we gathered behind the starting line to begin the race.
1/4 mile in getting away from the pack.

3,2,1, GO
 My  racing strategy has still remained pretty damn simple for these shorter races. Jump out in front, (if possible)  run fast, and if someone is closing in run faster.  For the first ten seconds of the race I was  second place.  Some out of shape Yahoo thought he was Hussain Bolt sprinting out the gate and was winning the first 100 yards of the race (It made me smile).  After he puttered out I found myself in the lead, but could feel the defending champion Rick Weiss breathing down my back.  People  everywhere were cheering "Go Rick" "You can get him."  but every once in awhile I heard " Go Pat" or "Sweeney" being hollered by complete stranger.  This was my first time as a contender  Rick had been winning over the crowd for years, there were quite a few bewildered looks wondering why or how this freak in his sandals was in the lead.  At the .5 and 1 mile mark I passed my my step mother Susan,  (the smile on her face was huge when she saw me in the lead) I didn't expect to see her and it was great surprise.

#1 looks more like #2 to me.

I finished the first mile in just under 5 minutes.  I had roughly a  one second lead (uh-oh) As we progressed in the second mile I kept waiting for Rick to leave me in the dust.  At about the 1.5 mile mark he tried to make his move.  He pulled up side by side for about for about 15 steps. I wasn't gonna give the lead away without a fight. I can remember seeing Rick last year during the race about 250 yards in front of the 2nd place guy by mile 3 (on his way to winning in a time of 33:02 and a margin of victory of over 30 seconds) I knew what he was capable of.  What I didn't know is just how fast I could go.  I pushed the tempo through the second mile marker running it in 5:08.  The cheers kept coming for Rick but I could feel the love from the spectators too.

The third mile I ran a 5:23. I was still in first place and still had a little bit of leeway towards being under a 5:20 pace.  I don't believe in looking over my shoulder to see where the next guy is, I find it shows weakness and psychologically gives power to the person whose trailing.  I didn't know how close exactly Rick was but the cheers for him came almost instantly after and encouragement I received.

During mile 4 I knew I would be passing my mother and nephews twice,  They would be really stoked if I was in the lead.  My nephew's were jumping up and down when I passed them, I didn't dissapoint my number 1 fan's as I held onto my lead.  My body felt great my pace was better than expected I was surprised to still be in first, thoughts of winning were creeping into my head, (danger) The race was not over I still work ahead of me and I had proven nothing yet. Mile 4 I finished in 5:13.

San Dune Park Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach is a city that was built early in the 19th century over rolling sand dunes.  Most of the course consists small rolling hills.  The fifth mile is the toughest with most climbing involved. We even pass through Sand dune park along this stretch. The final climb is up Roscrans Ave before a steep downhill to the beach.  Once at the the Strand (Beach walking path) it's a little over a mile of flat running to the finish line.  I was running strong on the uphill portion.  This is where the Luna sandals excel  they give me added grip on the ground while providing almost no extra weight.  I consider myself to be more of a climber than a sprinter. (kind of strange cause I don't train on hills just soft sand) When I made the turn at Rosecrans I saw Rick behind me.  What I thought was maybe a 50 ft  lead was actually 250 feet.  This is when I new it was my race to win.  Instantly I was up the hill  and flying down the back side.  As I bounded down the hill my stride seeded like it was about 20 ft per step.  It sounded like Indiana Jones was cracking his whip each time I struck the ground. I finished mile 5 in 5:23.

Not gonna catch this Rabbit

I was on it was the Homestretch all I had to do was spin my legs and not fall down.  I was running on fumes of adrenaline.  I could tell by the spectators cheers that second place was nowhere close, it was now a matter of grinding it out for a few more minutes. As I sailed down the strand I was met with many looks of astonishment.  Heads were shaking, It felt like I could read their minds.  "How the hell is this guy winning?" "Where are his shoe's"  Are those flip flops?"  And for the second year in row I heard someone say "It doesn't look like he's trying." What? I was putting everything I had into it,  I guess it can be taken as compliment to my efficiency.  Running should not look painful, it should be smooth graceful and look natural (all traits I do not posses in the real world, maybe that's the reason I run, lol)  Mile 6 I ran in 5:12 followed by a little faster pace in the bonus.2 at the end.  I didn't coast through the finish line I accelerated crossing it penetrating it with force.  I had won the race and set a new personal record 32:43.

Gps Data
Official results

After crossing the finishline I wanted to shake the second place finishers hand.  I expected him to be right behind me it seemed I had stretched my lead over the final mile down the strand.  A couple reporters quickly hounded me for an interview.  As Rick came through the tape in second place about 45 seconds after me (and 3rd place a minute after that) I tried to get his attention but he was off in his own world (oh well). I met up with my old friend Justin (friends since preschool)  and watched my running buddies began to trickle in.  I was being showered with  by love by my community.  Strangers were in ahh and my friends were smiling, I was more than happy to to sit there and bask in my momentary glory but I had to get back to the sidelines to cheer on my sister and good friend Kate.

Ever the diligent one (yeah right ) I missed Kate's finish as a pretty girl was congratulating me on the race.  Luckily a few minutes later when my sister came through I was there to cheer her on.  She looked strong ran a good race and we ended finishing 4th in the brother sister division.  Way to go Sis.

Fan, Me, Sister, Shellback's in the background

 Justin and I decided to hit up Shellbacks (Ercoles a better bar was closed) for a pitcher of beer.  Sure it was before nine A.M. but I was thirsty and we had another 30 minutes to kill before the awards were passed out. We ran into a few a friends and polished down the pitcher in under 10 minutes.  We met back up with my sister Jon and Kate  and it was Time to collect my bounty.

Every single self respecting shlub who lives in Manhattan Beach has a picture of the pier hanging in their house.  Artist John Post in the quintessential pier artist/photographer.  I ended up with 2, one for the win and one for being the first local. One for Mom and one for me.
two medals and a voucher to my local running shoe store. I got love for the Villlage runner, the workers are nice but I sure as hell ain't getting any shoes, most likely some new short shorts although my next race I may be in a Kilt  for all I know.

No camera, so all you get is one of my favorite pics from 4 years ago

After all was said and done at the race I took the walk up from the pier to the fair.  We met up with my nephews and my Mom.  My nephews were impressed with my win and my shwag for all of about 2 seconds. They were there for the games and rightfully so! I hung out for a little while watching them play remembering how much fun I once had doing the same thing.  A friend was meeting me at my house and I had to get going it was a bout a 1 mile walk back to my moms where I could clean and get ready for the beer garden (I mean fair).  

Famous Artist rendition of the Beer Garden

When I returned to the fair I was in search of my Step mother Susan who helps run  the thing (Possible free Beer tickets).  While looking for her I made a stop for some Kettle Corn and some free Lifeguard Fish taco's.  Eventually I gave up looking and entered the beer garden and to my Surprise (actually I was not that surprised) there she was.  Sweet! I gave her a big hug shot the shit with some of her friends and procured some free beer tickets in exchange for my left over Kettle Corn.  I thanked her for the generosity and for coming out in support that morning. I could tell she was proud of me which helped brighten my day.  I spent the next few hours drinking responsibly lol, regaling stories of the race and life with new friends and old. I left the beer Garden happy and hungry.  I stopped by the Pepper Belly booth (Frito's and chili with Guacamole, onions and Jalapeños).  It was time to leave the fair and go collect on a promise.

I would like to thank all my supporters that helped me out.  First off thank you to Barefoot Ted and the rest of Luna Sandals for providing me with the best running sandal's known to Man.  Thank you to Cep Compression for keeping legs spinning and feeling spry.  Thank you Sport Multi Vitamins and Christian Burke. I never was a huge vitamin guy before but since taking your product Iv'e won six out of 11 race's I'm guessing this somthing to do with it.  Thank you to NUUN for hydrating my drunk ass and getting me ready come race day.  Thank you to everyone who has actually taken the time to read the crap I spew out on this blog, if you've gotten this far I'm definitely stoked to have you here and aprreciate your patronage.  Thank you to my friend's that get stuck hearing my stupid spiels and tangents every time someone knew has question about my twisted logic or barefoot running.  Lastly thank you to my family you guys mean everything to me,  I am very lucky to have you, your support and love makes the loses tolerable and the victories that much more sweet.  I love you guys.

Race article

Entended Easy reader article

Of all the races I have won this one is the most special to me.


  1. You always have the best race reports. Congrats again on your win. I love that a local boy in sandals won the race :)

  2. Congrats! If your ever down in Carlsbad running hit me up.

  3. Per usual loved reading your report. You are blowing minds...and that is a perfectly good thing to do.


  4. Thanks for sharing some of the history that you have with the Manhattan Beach 10k and the exciting race report. I can relate how a certain race can be special for sentimental reasons. I'm about where you were at in 2005. You've really progressed a lot over the past year. Glad to see you're still having a good time with it! Congratulations!

  5. Congrats! You definitely have the most interesting race reports. You (and Scott Jurek) have inspired me to drastically cut back my consumption of animal products, I feel great, and am running about 30 sec per mile faster! (after about a week of the new diet.)

  6. I love your style of story telling in these race reports. It's so captivating to be in the head of a #1 runner mile by mile in a race...god knows I know what it's like in the head of a bottom half runner!

    Keep it up, you're an inspiring dude

  7. Great stuff! Seriously impressive, great report! Do you think removing the beard sped you up? (joke) Personally I'm keeping mine till winter is over here..

  8. Absolute legend Bourbonfeet. I love the report really get the feel for the progress you have made . Amazing job well done,

  9. Congrats on your MB 10K win. Thanks for the info on the Luna sandals, have a pair of Vibram five fingers, but Luna look great. Keep up the running (of course). Done about 25 of the MB's myself, living right next to Sand Dune. Keep up the fine writing and thoughts on your life.
    Cliff Phillips

  10. Number one looks like number 2? Seriously? I guess you will have to lead every step next year because you will be number one.

  11. I've exchanged a few facebook messages with Rick Weiss since the race and he is a really cool guy. I meant no disrespect that comment and yes that will be my strategy.

  12. I liked the way you made your history race report. Congratulations! you really deserve it. I used to go for marathon too. I planned to buy new smartwool socks, running shoes as well as chaco sandals.