Thursday, July 29, 2010

San Francisco Disc golf adventure, + a Marathon

One morning I was sitting around drinking coffee much like I am right now.  I had just become a member of team Jamba Juice and was going over a list of events that they sponsor .  There were only a couple in the L.A. market .  I noticed that they were a sponsor of the San Francisco Marathon.  I sent them an email and and next thing I new I was entered in the race.  I told my sister that I was heading up to SF, she was in need of a vacation and so was I.  I figured I could get a little Disc golf in along the way.


We packed up the car and were off in running by 6:00a.m. Friday morning. We decided to take the more scenic coastal route up the 101 rather than the quicker drive up the 5.  The first stop was Santa Maria to play Waller Park Disc golf course.  Waller is one of my favorite courses I have won tournaments their as an amateur and finished second as a Pro.
We got to Waller about 9a.m. the Marine layer was thick and the weather was a bit chilly.  I was able to to have a nice barefoot round of golf.

Waller has my favorite squirrels

Next up was a course I had never played before about 45 minutes up the 101 in  Atascadero
Heilmann Park

We were out of the marine layer that blankets Santa Maria.  It felt like we went from the forest to the desert. The course had some fun shots but was not very well designed.  Basket locations were a bit hard to find.  I started off playing barefoot.  There were thorns everywhere around the 4th hole I sat down to pull one out of  of my foot.  When I turned my foot over to my surprise there were about 10 thorns sticking out of it, at that point I reluctantly decided to put on my vibram's for the rest of the round.  I didn't want to mess up my feet two days before the race, but what do you know the stupid vibram's gave me a small blister on my heel , go figure.
It was pretty hot at Heilmann Park.  Thank you to my sister for putting up with disc golf obsession.  After the round I pounded a beer we jumped in the car, we drove a little ways stopped for a crappy subway sandwich and and some gas.  Another 4 hours in the car and we would be in SF.
Cool blimp hanger on the side of the freeway. near SF
Hotels are pretty expensive in the city.  We decided to stay in South San Francisco to save a little cash it's about an 8mile drive to the heart of town.  
The weather was pretty nice for most of the drive up.  A few days before we left I was checking out the forecast. Somehow I must have typed in the wrong city because it showed 85 degrees for pretty much everyday of the trip.  I packed my luggage  accordingly.  Luckily the day before leaving my sister informed me of my stupidity (she's good at that) and I was able to pack some warmer clothes.  In this pic you can see the soup that engulf's SF.
It was about 4 in the afternoon we could have checked in to the hotel but decided to keep driving into the city for the race expo that ended at 7 p.m. The expo was kind of ho hum.  I forgot to take any pictures but your not really missing anything.  I saw Bart Yasso who's book I've read (also kind of ho hum).  I picked up my number, shirt, goodie bag and found out I was in the the 3rd coral of runners that were slated to finish between 3:25 and 3:45 (not good).  I found the solutions desk,  I tried to finagle my way to the 1st wave of elite runners.  They said this could not happen and made me pay $10 to move to the second wave.  I was a bit worried that I would get stuck behind thousands of people at the starting line  (as has always been the case for me at L.A.) but come race day the first and second wave were merged and only about 3 people stood between me and the starting line

.  After the expo we decided to check out Fisherman's wharf and grab some chowder
We passed the SF Giants home field along the way
sky soup

We made it to the wharf walked out on some pier got the obligatory pic in front of Alcatraz.  We came for chowder and so we set forth to find our soup.

Along the way we got sidetracked  by a boardwalk arcade that had some of the creepiest attractions I have ever seen.  

Why on Earth was this ever built.  I couldn't resist seeing what happen when I put the quarter in.  The dirty old man shook his disturbed old man baby while it's cry sent shiver's down my spine.  This image shall haunt my dreams for the rest of my life
Luckily I found some rally Monkey's to cheer me up

Dinner at last.

 I was in good spirits. I went for a walk and made a new friend. 

 After the wharf we found our hotel got some rest and would continue being tourists the following day.  First on the list Golden Gate Bridge.
It's a big red bridge
You can actually see some sunshine
That's along drop to the bottom.  I decided to jump off the bridge and see if I would survive.
My sister gauging whether I would survive or not.
Amazingly enough I was able to land without a scratch.

After the morning visit to the bridge it was off to Golden Gate Park to play some Disc golf.  Normally I play a few times a week but In the 3 weeks prior to this trip I didn't play at all. (the longest stretch I'd gone in about 12 years) I played all day Thursday before we left, then the 2 courses on Friday.  My arm was getting a little sore (wussy) and I didn't want to overdue it before the race.  I thought about not playing on Saturday.  I at least wanted to see what the course was like.
 looks fun
One of the nicest courses I ever played.  I put together a solid round and will definitely stop by here every time I come to SF
One of the hardest holes on the course I threw a great drive that left me about a 70 foot sidearm putt from the bushes, which I sunk.  My best hole of the entire trip.
The soft mulch felt great on my bare feet.

After the round we headed to Chinatown to grab some lunch and some knick knacks.  We ended up at a Vietnamese noodle house and each had pretty good bowl of Pho.
My sister bought a whole bunch crap all I ended up with was some new sticks and some tiger balm for after the race.

 Last stop for the day was Lambert ST
Yep that's a windy road on a windy day.
I hope the hills aren't this steep during the Marathon.

after Lambert St we grabbed some Pizza from some hole in the wall and headed back to the hotel.  I took a quick soak in the hot tub and I was in bed and asleep by 9:15 with the alarm set for 3:33 official race start at  5:30.

We weren't sure how long it would take to get to the starting line with all the street closure's.  We ended up arriving at about 4:45 found parking no problem.  Everything was going smooth.  My body felt decent but not great.  The week before the race I had been thinking I may run in my Custom made by Barefoot Ted Luna Huarache style running sandals. I had never tried running fast in them until then and ended up pushing it a little too hard causing the loss of flesh between my toes on my right foot.  Although I wasn't that amped on wearing them, I ended up using my red vibram sprints (what the hell they matched my Jamba Juice shirt).  Interestingly my sprints have changed shape since using them while pacing at Badwater.  The heat of the ground had slightly flattened the contours of the sole.  I opted to wear my Cep calf sleeve's and a pair of injinji trail socks.  My Jamba Juice shorts are a little too long to be racing in so I wore my USTAF short shorts and my Jamba shirt and hat.
About 15 minutes before the race I saw my Buddy Barefoot Jullian Romero along with his brother and his friend Efrem who would all be running Barefoot.  Jullian was shooting for sub 3 hours and would succeed at his goal.  It was good to see some familiar faces.  We wished each other good luck and parted ways.
I entered my coral and easily moved up to the very front.  We were supposed to start 2 minutes after the elite runners but since there were only about 20 of them that had us all start as one group.  I was sizing up the competition I knew the likelihood of me running a perfect race was low but I was curious to see  how my gimpy legs would react to running fast.  In the last month both knee's have been giving my grief and my calves have been real tight.  My pre race goals in declining order from super optimistic to realistic.  Win, Sub 2:30, Sub 2:37, Sub 2:45, beat every woman, win my age division or at the very least run sub 3 hours.
Course map
I still have no clue how to pace myself in a marathon.  I would have to run a sub 6 minute pace to PR so figured I would use that as a good place to start.  I figured with fresh legs I could keep a pace of 5:15 to 5:45 on the flat's and moderate downhill's, this would give me some leeway for the steep uphills and hopefully I could bank some extra time in case the legs started to slow.
On the Golden Gate
The first few miles started near the water it was relatively flat as we progressed around the shoreline working our way to the Golden Gate Bridge which would come around mile 6.  I was running smoothly at about a 5:40 pace The leader's were distancing themselves from but I was hanging between 5th and 8th.  My pace slowed a bit as we climbed up towards the bridge.  I was hoping to watch the sunrise from the Golden Gate but cloud coverage prevented this indulgence.  The whole northbound lane of the bridge was closed off for us runner's and it felt pretty cool racing over this historic landmark.  After the bridge the course climbed through a few hills through an upper-class neighborhood before looping around toward Golden Gate Park.  I hit the 10 mile mark at about 59 minutes I was right on pace with my goal but could tell the legs were not going to last. At about mile 12 I saw a friend mine Ultra runner Jimmy Dean Freeman who was there to root on his wife who was also running.  He told me he wanted to see a negative split. I gave him a high five and laughed at the Idea.  I thought maybe if run my 13th mile in 20 minutes I could achieve that feat.  I kept on trucking,  I was not happy with my sweat soaked shirt.  Jamba had paid my entry so I felt obliged to wear their gear.  If I had my choice I would have started the race shirtless even though the temp was in the low 50's.  I decided I would ditch the shirt sometime after the 1/2 way point.  
I hit the 13.1 point at 1:18:36 the exactly 1/2 the time of my PR.  I was in 10th place and would only be able to hold that position for a few more miles.  I was getting slower, even on the downhills it was tough to go sub six.  I didn't feel broken I just didn't have the strength to push my legs as hard as I wanted.  My form was getting sloppy and my vibram's felt terrible.  My feet felt really heavy and my feet were soaked with condensation and sweat.  On the down hills I was landing with way too much force,  I made a thunderous clapping sound with each step.  Luckily my knee's were holding up and I new the race would only last another hour.  After the park we climbed Haight St. past Ashberry.  I kept pushing my body between a 6 and 7 minute pace for the rest of the race.  It felt like I was getting past by about 1 person every mile. (not fun).

A couple unique aspects about the SF are the volunteers and the fans.  At many of the intersection's the roads were blocked by Scruffy Hells Angel types strattling their hogs.  They were very helpful and I thank them for their support.  As for the spectators, the race started at at 5:30 a.m. While most SF resident were still in bed sleeping.  Along Haight St.  I encountered numerous Drunk Homeless men who had were screaming out nonsensical as well encouraging slurs.  This brought a smile to my face temporarily distracting me from my pain.  
The last five or so miles were mostly downhill.  In actuality the course was not as difficult as I imagined.  It seemed like it had  a lot more downhill than up.  I feel that PV was a much tougher course and that SF was piece of cake compared to nearly every trail Ultra I have ever run.  That being said I was still struggling my way to the finish.  Around mile 23 my right calf cramped up.  I had to adjust my form a bit, and it didn't hurt my time too much (because I was already going really slow).  I was near the finish and happy it was almost over.  I was counting down the minutes left to run in my head.  I had to run around a 6:45  for the last three miles to finish under 2:45:00 .  This at least I knew this was attainable.  I fought through my physical limitation's and approached the finish line with some time to spare.  I saw my sister on the sideline and crossed the line in 2:44:34 18th Overall, 1st in my age division and in front of the first place woman by more than 7 minutes.  It was not fastest race, my training was sub par but I had done my best and proud of my results.

I sure could use a Jamba Juice. 
It was freaking cold.  I threw on a bunch of clothes and felt better.
Bridge, sponsor, dumb ass
This is why my sponsor gave me a hat.

After the race we meandered a bit and then headed back to the Hotel.  I wasn't moving to fast but was pretty happy that nothing felt in injured. We had planned on staying the night in SF but had already finished our tourist duties.  On the way up we past the Gilroy Garlic festival and thought that might be a fun way to spend the afternoon.  We decided to forgo are final night, hit Gilroy and cruise Highway 1 along the coast till we found somewhere we wanted to stay.
 We stopped at some fancy Cherry Store called CJ Olson's that my sister had seen on Huell Howser's show.  I guess this place use to be on the actual orchard.  Nowadays there is no orchard and they didn't even have local bing cherries in stock (something every fruit stand on the side of the road has) but they did have lots of free samples.  I found out I really like chocolate covered apricots (I never would have known)

I figured the Gilroy Garlic festival would be a small white trash event where everything would be Garlic flavored.  I was part right.  Traffic was backed up for miles,  Garlic is big deal in Gilroy.  Eventually we made it to this big field filled with at least 1,000 cars. Parking was free and we proceeded to walk about 1 mile to the entrance of the festival.  It cost a pricey $17 to get in but at this point there was no turning back (at least I was smart enough to smuggle a bunch of beers in to save some money)

I quickly made a life long friend
Deep Fried Garlic with hot sauce.  My mouth was on fire and that required 2 things.  The first is obvious BEER. the second?

Garlic Ice cream of course.  Pecan Praline with Garlic.  Not bad.  other items I ended up consuming were Garlic chocolate (yuck) Garlic Kettle Corn (pretty damn good) Garlic stir fry and bread (also very good).
The Garlic festival was fun but a little too expensive for what you get.  On the way out we ran into some chickens that claimed they were Hilshire Farms.

We decided after the Garlic festival to check out the coastline.  first stop Monterey.
We thought about going but it was getting late and we had already spent most of our money.
While trying to find some shells for my Nephew's the combination of gimpy legs and and cold water lead to an impromptu Jig.

After I was done dancing we got back on the road.  We continued down the coast on Highway 1 through some of the most beautiful coastline I have ever seen.  I have wanted to run the Big Sur marathon for along time.  We drove through part of the course and I think I may run it next year.  Although extremely scenic we kept getting stuck behind some of slowest drivers in the world as we slowly progressed down countless miles of windy road.  By about 10:30 p.m. we hit Morro Bay grabbed a room and crashed out.
Morro Bay is named after this big rock that was once the plug of a long extinct Volcano.  First thing in the morning we set forth to check it out.
How cute is that?

The other thing people come to see is the Otter's
Bird watching is also very popular here.

After a quick bite to eat it was time to go play some Disc Golf.

Laquna Lake,  San Luis Obispo
The course looked pretty thorny, and my legs were in no shape to react quickly so I was forced once again into my Vibram's.

Local wildlife
Final putt of the round.

The legs were sore but the best thing I think of to speed of recovery was more Disc Golf.  We drove another 30 minutes back to Santa Maria to Preisker Park a course that opened up a few years ago and which I had never played
Grass and wood chips.  No shoe's needed.
a little to gimpy for backhands but the side arm is my bread and butter anyway
Nailed the putt

Santa Maria is known for their Tri-tip barbecue,  I saw about 5 of these giant grill's just in this park alone.

So the trip was pretty much over.  It was 3 in the afternoon and we were about 180 miles from home.  If we kept driving we would hit L.A. traffic for sure.  "Hey I got good Idea."  "More Disc Golf"  The final stop on our journey Evergreen Park in Goleta.  I haven't been their in years.  I have always liked this course.  I made the final 9 there once as a pro and had won there years ago as Am.  When we got there I saw an old buddy Rich Dionne practicing his putting.  I asked him if he wanted to play with and he agreed.

I never really found a groove at Evergreen I got a bunch of birdies but my drives were all over the place.  It was nice to play with Rich and he beat me pretty easily I think our scores were around -6 and -9 playing from the long tee's.

The trip was complete.  Thank you to Jamba Juice for getting me into the race and thank you to my sister for putting up with me.  The body preformed better than I expected and I am eagerly awaiting my next race.

Next up
Mt. Disappointment 50K 8/ 7
San Diego 1/2 Marathon 8/15