Friday, June 29, 2012

Manhattan Beach 5k Yet Another Barefoot Win

Time to hit the sand once again.

 Manhattan Beach 5k Run 
My mother was more than happy to come cheer me on.  She turns 70 this year and has been playing volleyball on sand of Manhattan Beach (Marine St.) for over 50 years.
The race starts at 7a.m. the weekend after or before the Summer Solstice.  It wasn't quite low tide but there was pleanty of room to run and this was the lowest I had seen in it in my 3 years of participation. It starts by the water at the Manhattan Beach pier and heads out to El Porto and back.

The first time I ran this race was back in 2008.  At the time it was my very first 5k I ever ran my only goal was to beat the first place woman.  As she slowed down through the finish line knowing she first in her gender wrapped up.  I closed 100 foot gap in the last 150 feet to sneak in in front of her with 2 steps remaining. (what a dork)
In 2009 I was in pretty good shape.  But was over training for the San Diego 100 and strained my left hamstring pretty bad two days prior to the 5k.  Against better judgement I decided to still run the race and I won. 
 (This pic was taken by my buddy John Moriello (I spelled his name wrong but am too lazy to look it up) who was working for and remains my favorite pic taken of me running)

 I was injured with bum IT BAND
They held the event the same day as the Hermosa 24, Part of me wanted to participate in both events but that would have been silly.
My nephews also came down to run in the kids race afterwards check out there cool shirts from the 100 mile club summer program 262 also check my awesome vegan body builder shirt my buddy Ravi gave me.  (pretty amazing I could fit into the thing with all my gigantic muscles?)
Pre race dinner
Whole wheat tortilla, garlic hummus, onion, cabbage, cherry tomato, orange bell pepper, mushroom,avocado, jalapeno, kalmata olive and sriracha. Served with salt and vinegar chips and washed down with an Oaked Arrogant Bastard
There is Avocado in it but it needs more to be to consider it "cado loading"
I'm don't like to say no to free beer but is Michelob Ultra really beer?

On to the race

Every year it amazes me how many runners wear shoes? It's pretty hilarious watching them scramble away from the incoming tide as we line d up to race.  In years past it was a serious disadvantage.  Since the course  is a there and back route you are you are forced against an onslaught of runners on the return trip.  If the tide is high you 2 choices, either run in the water or the soft sand, with the water being the easier option.   Part of the reason I won back in 2009 was than most of the runners who had a chance at beating me had worn shoes an didn't wan to get them wet.

Going into the race I was pretty confident in my chances although my legs were still beat up from the 5mile race I ran less than 36 hour prior. At registration the day before  the dude signing up people at the running store was just out of high school and told me he wanted to win.  I was anxious to see what he was capable of.

On your marks, Get set, Go.
I forgot my hat, and took the lead from the get go as usual.
I thought I was distancing myself from the other racers when up strolls the race director Jeff Atkinson) at about the 1/2 mile mark.  (Jeff holds the mile record at Stanford and ran in the 1,500m at the 1988 Olympics)  He was only running the first mile and I guess it was nice to have some company.

Because the tide was lower than normal the sand was softer making the course pretty slow. (yep I making excuses) I ran the first mile just under 5:30.  When I hit the turn around I din't feel very fast and had no clue how big my lead was.  I turned out to be about 150 feet.
(pretty comfortable if I was feeling good but that wasn't the case)

Nothing to do but grind it out (for a whole 8 mins) and hope I could hang on. the cheers from the other runners helped encourage me to a strong finish and they also let me now that the 2nd place runner still had some work to do since there was a pause in the claps.
I was much slower than the last time I ran this race.
But I was still able to come in first.
remember that kid I told you about I met the day before he came in 2nd just a few steps behind me.

Former World Record holder and Race director for the Hermosa 24  Christian Burke was in town to run in next weeks Ultra marathon.  I think he was with 5 minutes of winning. :)
After the the 5k they had an inaugural backwards run. it was supposed to be a mile but was closer to half that distance. Can you guess who won?
This event actually did occur.  I did make sure Christian saw me though. He was a good sport and went tumbling over me.
Another Icon of Hermosa beach showed the talented and Beautiful Annie Seawright. 
(she will also be competing in the Hermosa 24 but on a relay team.
Now it was my Nephews time to run
In an effort to limber up Lucas attempted the splits luckily he was unsuccessful.
The kids proved to be smarter than most of the adults by going out barefoot.
My nephews ran stride for stride on the way out
But on the way back the older one out strided his little brother
But I was equally proud of both of them.
.Next up were the really small kids
It doesn't get much cuter than that. This little dude was bringing up the back of the pack running barefoot in his Pj's.
I won a lee majors doll for the backwards race and 1st place cookie for the 5k.

Another great day living in paradise running races with my family.  
Life is good....

Oh yeah what about that free beer?  I could either go have a drink and walk home or get a ride and no beer. What to do, what to do?
If I say no to the free beer then maybe they won't offer me one next time.
Looks like i'm walking.
Well how bout a barefoot jog on the wood chips instead.

Bring on the Hermosa 24

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Watermelon Solstice 5k 2012 (Don't forget to check your knots!)

On and off the last 15 years I have spent the majority of my Thursdays at El dorado Park in Long Beach California.  Back in 1997 shortly after graduating High school I started playing frisbee golf.
 (some people call it "disc golf" but  wammo illegally pattended the name "frisbee" so I use that term in protest.)

(Old Disc Golf trophy)
Part of the reason I chose to go to Long Beach State for college was that my home course at EL Dorado was only 1 mile away meaning that in between classes, before and after school I could play frisbee golf. Throughout college I supported myself by gambling on just about every round of golf I played often times 7 days a week up 10 rounds in a day.

I could go to El Dorado at anytime or day and find friends to golf with from homeless dudes to doctors and important people such as teachers and less important people such a lawyers. It has served as my home away from and I even used the screen name Teameldo for years and still have the email address
El Dorado 2003
I have been taking my nephews to El Dorado since they were babies.  One of them even had a birthday party when he was 5.
As recent as last month I took my other Nephew to the archery range at Eldo for the very time.
"Hey Lucas stand very still while I shoot that Bulls Eye."
"So close, at least no blood was spilled."
El Dorado even plays a part in my Ultra Running career. (career Ha!) On the river bed bike path just outside the park I won my first Ultra the "2008 Orange Curtain 100km" Also they only time I have ever received a bouquet of flowers and the first time I met Barefoot Ted.
A few weeks ago I came across this flyer for a race.  "Thursday night at El Dorado and free watermelon! How could i resist?" Chances are I was gonna be there anyway to golf.  Upon further inspection of the flyer. I noticed that the late John Pagliano was a sponsor.  John was my foot Dr. who went out of his way to take care of me,  he saw me at his house and even snuck me into his office free of charge for X-rays.  To say he was a nice guy is an understatement.  He loved helping younger runners succeed and did a lot of pro bono work for those that could not afford to see a Dr.  Sadly he lost his battle with cancer just a few months ago.  I would run this race with thoughts of him in the back my head.  John was world renowned Dr. and I considered him a friend.
Race day
As expected I played 3 rounds of frisbee golf prior to the race.  The weather was beautiful and I had a few Stone Ales in the car on ice for after the race.  Although I was quiteparched I did my best to refrain from drinking before the race,

El Dorado is huge park. from reading the flyer it looked like the starting line was next to the archery range where it cost $6 to park.  It's about 1 mile from the frisbee golf park so I decided to walk in order to save a few  bucks.  It was about 5:15 when I left, the race started at 6:00 and I still needed to sign up.

When I got to the archery range the place was empty? Instead they had a series of signs directing traffic to the other side of the park, about 2 more miles away by car. (uh oh) If I knew the final destination I could take a short cut but since I had no clue I was forced to follow the road jogging barefoot to the starting line.

I made it there with a few minutes to spare but in my rush I forgot to but on my compression sleeves and check the knots on my Luna Sandals.
 Well the entry fee was $35 (kind of pricey for what you got) I normally pay around $.15 a lb for my melons so let's see if I eat 334 lbs I'll be turning a profit. I better get to it.  I'd only had yellow watermelon once before and it was nice surprise.  Before the race started I ate about 2 lbs of each only 330 more to go. 

If only they had some Watermelon music
One of my all time favorite songs
When you finish do you metal?
You get a melon I thought that was pretty cool.

I have no pictures of the race yet so I might is get on with what transpired.  In the past I had ran some of the bike paths through this park before but in this race we'd be running on the street and I wasn't sure how confusing it would be but I was't too worried.  The course consisted of  a 2 mile lap on the North side of the park then 1 mile on the southside before repeating the first loop a second time.

From doing a little research online this race draws some fast runners .  To win it normally takes an average of between a 5:05 to 5:10 mile.  My body felt like it could do 5:30 pretty easily a5:15 if all went good and 5:05 if something magical happened.

The starting line was full dudes wearing onesies for various track clubs (I found out after the race from a few the runners that would gladly give there track club for the Stone Ale Gargoyle.) Anyway these guys meant business and I was excited

With so many good runners we were packed in a tighter than i would of liked at the start.  I recognized a few faces from races I had ran in Orange and San Diego County's last year.

On your ,Marks get set, Go.

It was pretty warm out my legs felt a bit beat from playing disc Golf all day along with the extra couple of miles to the starting line but all that was behind me once the adrenaline started flowing.  It took a few hundred yards to break away from the main group (who honestly I thought would be going out at a faster speed) I ran the first mile just a little bit over a  5 min pace and found myself tailing one guy who looked to be of masters age. 

This dude knew how to run but  with that came a really loud heavy breathing. His gasps were encroaching on my bliss so I ran a little faster and jumped out into the lead which I held for the better part of the first lap. It was then that some track super stud came out of nowhere and left me in the dust.  During the second lap  a couple other guys pulled up next to me during the first half of mile three and we took turns jumping out in front of each other but we were about 150 behind the leader.  At about the halfway my right sandal started to feel loose?  The only other time I have felt this sensation is when I had my one and only blow out (knot coming undone or tearing off)

There was no time to check it it.  It felt like the lace was still stick through the sandal and I hoped it would hold up to the finishline.  I was running strong, the sandal felt awkward but at this point it wasn't hindering my pace very much.

All of sudden the leader out in front of  us pulled off the course? It turned out he was a bandit just out to get a few miles in. Personally that pissed me off a bit! He hadn't payed to race and his running had effected my strategy for better or for worse.

I was now in the lead  by about 10 feet over two strong runners.  Just as we passed the 3 mile mark my presumed blow out when from bad to worse and my sandal flopped off  to the side of my foot, still holding on the by the laces traditionally wrapped around my ankle.  Fixing the sandal was out of the question I would have to run with one barefoot for the final two miles and I would have to stop to untie the lace.

It felt like it took about 20 seconds to get the sandal off (realistically it took less than 10) the 2 runners i was battling soared out in front along with a third runner.

Once I finally got the sandal off I started to sprint. The road felt fine on my bare skin and I was going at about 4:30 mile (way to fast)  I caught back up to the leaders in about 90 seconds but I was  shooting my load too early and my pace slowed as quickly as it started closer to  a 6 min mile than a 5 min one.
The two runners regained the lead and I began to run a little more caution.  The discrepancy between the two feet made running awkward. I'd of been better off completely barefoot than in one sandal and I really did not want to hurt myself.I had another race planned  less than 36 hours away and the Hermosa 24 in less than 10 days and really this race was not that important to me.

Eventually the third guy passed me and I finished the race in 4th place running with my sandal in hand.
Time for some more watermelon.
What do you wash watermelon down with?
Watermelon juice (really it's mostly High Fructose Corn Syrup I presume) I drank half a cup because all the other kids were doing it.  
The highlight of the day was seeing my friends Laura and Tracy (you may remember them from my trip to Catalina back in January)  They are both big fans of Luna Sandals and they came out to watch me run.

Tracy the woman on the right is no slouch she has won a 100 mile race outright and also has the unofficial world record for women by running over 250 miles in 72 hours. She also does ceramics for living ans made me a few custom pendents and then cooked up sweet vegan dinner in exchange for a few Stone Ales.
Thanks Tracy and thanks Laura for putting up with her for over 12 years.

If you need some custom trophies or awards for your next race I highly recommend using Tracy.

I lost my race and my streak of wins had been broken once again.  Who cares I'd be racing again over the weekend and the outcome would be different.  :)

Time to watch the kids race
These little dudes look fast
How dare she stick her tongue out at me?
This little dude made a rookie mistake by forgetting to lube his nipples.

On to the awards

What was I gonna win this time?  I thought for sure I had won my age division(maybe second) the winner looked younger than me 2nd place was deffinetly a master and third place I could of sworn he was around 50 years old
 I was wrong.
Third place it as oh well, the flyer said merchandise prizes for 1,2,3.  First place got a pair of shorts (kind of cool) 2nd got socks (Ehh not too bad) and 3rd?  WHat would yours truly recieve .
They actually gave me choice.  Either bottle of antibacterial soap (something I try not to use) Or cheap plastic jug (something I try not to use).  I decided to be gracious and take the jug (gave it to my sister)
At least I got water melon.
My car was still a few miles away and I spent the jog (with a heavy back pack) on the Course for the Orange Curtain.  It turns out the jug was a perfect prize? As I ran i used it to hit myself on the side of my head as i spoke to myself  "Hey stupid don't forget to check your knot's next time, if you want a better prize your gonna have to earn it."

Luna Sandals
maybe the worlds greatest running sandal but they are far from idiot proof. But this idiot still loves them

 Parting shot:
The race was fun but a bit over priced. The race director seemed pretty stressed out and was unintentionally taking it out on the runners.  Unless yo are capable of eating 100's of pounds of watermelon in single sitting I would not recommend this race to anyone and will not be back next year although I really do have a soft spot in my heart for both El Dorado Park  and for Watermelon.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Wet and Wild 5k. Another win for Luna sandals

Every once in awhile I get in one of those moods where I want to race every weekend no matter what distance or what type of event it is.  Right now is one of those times.

After last weeks win at the beach I was thumbing through one of those freebie local running magazines and came across an ad for the Wet and Wild 5k which was taking place the following weekend at Knott's Berry Farm and it's adjoining water Park Soak city.  Where you must finish the race by running 1/3 of a mile through waste high water in their lazy river.
How could I resist?
Really horrible T.V. commercial I saw way too many times between my after school cartoons during the 80's
Stupid trivia:
In case you didn't know Knott's berry farm is an amusement park in SoCal with Snoopy as their mascot and there are no berries growing there anymore although back in the day it was the first farm to successfully cultivate the boysenberry.

For years I have going to the gym pretty much for the Sauna only!  Each day I stare out the window and often times I see my favorite Iranian HypnotherapisParvrese running laps in the pool.  He has had a debilitating spinal condition that would keep him bound to a wheel chair if it weren't for his daily water run  he has done for the last 20 years.
He's a real interesting dude and every once in awhile I'll join him in the pool for a few laps and full of bizarre conversations.
The Wednesday Thursday and Friday before after doing my Hermosa 24 soft sand training runs I headed over to the gym to run in the pool and put in about .5 miles each time running back in
forth trying to get feel for how to best move my body.  I even tried taking my Luna's in the water realizing that barefoot was the best way to go.  Running in the pool is an arduous task,  it's pretty damn boring, you move at snails pace and you look pretty stupid doing so.  I don't think any other runners in this event will be dedicated/stupid enough to to train in the pool 
 (a whole three days whoop dee doo)
If I win Parvrese will be very proud but if I lose I'll have to make water running part of my daily routine.
. By the way the dude is about 50 and can seriously kick my butt in the pool.
This on'e for you buddy
As usual  did some "Cado Loading" the night before
(maybe I went a little over board for a 5k)
Whole wheat dough rolled out on Masa corn flour, Onion, eggplant 3 types of tomato (homegrown cherry, greenhouse celebrity and organic grape) carrot, radish, kalmata olive, asparagus, red pepper, yellow pepper,jalapeno, on full bulb of garlic (cooked and raw) rosemary, flax seed, cooked broccoli stems, raw broccoli tips, cilantro, raw sweet corn, avocado topped with a bunch Sriracha .

Race day
 I arrived at the race ridiculously early.  I had woke up at 4;00 a.m., well before my alarm and was ready to go.

Instead of wearing my Original Luna's traditionally laced (which are my favorite to race in) I decided to go with a proto-type pair with a tactile goat leather foot bed (It should be available to the general public very soon)  with the ATS lacing system that I could easily slip off once I got to the water.
Although I may want some extra grip on the bottom of the lazy river the decrease in drag by being barefoot was the only way to go.  I pondered the idea of wearing Vibrams but even that would create too much resistance. 

Once at the race I finally got a chance to check out the course map. There sure are a lot of turns! I really hoped they had the course well marked.  Also it looks like there's about 1/4 mile of running once you get out of lazy river. Looks like I'll most likely finish barefoot.

While perusing the expo I found out that the race's main sponsor was local ministry and then when I looked in my goodie bag there were fliers for a Christian clothing and a Christian sticker company
(Holy Guacamole)
How will this play out in the race for a  Pastafarian such as myself?  You always see on T.V. when a dude hits a home run, wins a race,  or beats another guy nearly to death in a boxing match they always point to the heavens or thank god verbally.
(Although I don't wish to use any of there services thank you for sponsoring the event)

The Flying Spaghetti Monster on the other hand does not ask for any praise.  Would he intervene and help me run faster?  Hell no! I'm not that important and besides he considers that CHEATING.  For that I totally respect him.  The faith I have in myself is all I need.

There was'nt anything good on T.V. that Saturday morning perhaps the Flying Spaghetti  Monster would come out and watch.

I hadn't been to Knott's in a few years.  The last time I was was there I met a couple of hot chicks who I think are regulars? Maybe even Professionals?
I wondered if I'd get a chance to see  them again?
My nephew ended up getting a little too fresh
 And Snoopy Locked  him up in Jail.

Enough with the Shenanigans
It's time to race

 After being corralled near the starting line I  noticed a few fast runners. I stuck a conversation with up with a kid who ran the race last year and now runs for a local JR college.  Last year he said he got lost while in third place near the finish.  (yikes) He also gave me some sound advice about running in the water.  Basically he said to find a steady pace, and that trying to push yourself too hard won't get you to the finish any faster.
He told me  that he was prepared to run around a 16:30 5k but what that translates too this course I don't know.
He was a nice kid I thanked him for the advice, wished him good luck and then lined up to race.  
Was I gonna get my butt kicked by a bunch fast high school and college kids?
I had lined up right in front at the starting line 
Seconds before the race began a couple of furry costumed sponsors and about 10 high school track kids jumped in front. A  moment later a genuine fake cowboy Started the race with a blast from his authentically real shotgun shooting blanks.

After looking at the map and hearing the story of this other kid getting lost I knew I needed to stay near the front of the race (plus it's pretty hard to win if there's people in front of you).  
We took off from the water park down some side alleys scarring chickens along the way (yes there are wild chickens in suburban Orange county).  Because so many kids snuck in front of me I was having a hard time spinning my legs as fast as I wanted to.  Two kids jumped way out in front and I had to catch them before they disappeared

The course had one bicyclist leading the way.  It seemed like every 90 feet or so there was a confusing turn.  Now if your running in a pack of 100's of people your not gonna make a mistake but if the leaders got out of sight figuring out which way to go may get a little sketchy?

After about 1/2 mile I had finally broken out from the pack while they buzzed behind me like a swarm of killer bees pissed off that I stole there honey.

My legs were feeling good and the two kids in front only had me by about 50 feet.  I was running next to the dude who I chatted with before the race. I held back  for a little while watching the two kids in front duke it out. They were running hard at about 5:15 mile.  All the turns were driving me crazy.  I'd get my legs spinning real fast and then have slow down just to accelerate again.  When you run barefoot, in a sandal, or a vibram, you need to really slow down while cornering.  Modern running shoes have so much support they can allow you to turn at high speed by transferring the torque to your knee's. (something i'm willing to avoid) Most 5k courses have 1 or 2 tight turns, here there was one every ten seconds.

 The two kids kept looking back over there shoulder.  I decided  to push the tempo by getting right on there asses making them speed up out of their comfort zone and I could tell they were getting tired.  As for me I felt great.

I was running fast but my time was nothing spectacular due to all the turns.  I finished the first mile in about 5:20.
At this point I knew I was gonna take the lead sooner or later.  I let off the gas a little and dropped back again by 40 feet.  As the two kids pushed each other one of them soon ran out of steam and dropped back and I quickly passed him.  
Now there was just one kid in front.  He was running scared, looking over his shoulder every chance he got. Enough fooling around already it was time to take the lead.  at about the 1.5 mile mark I put my body into another gear passing the kid with ease.  I had plenty enough energy to run a fast 5k and would have felt invincible at this point if it weren't for the run in the lazy river coming up.

I finished my second mile in 
What I had looked so forward to before the race was now the only thing that could prevent me from a win.  Sure I had practiced a little bit in the pool but I was slow, perhaps some hot shot swimmer was gonna blast past me?  I really had no idea what to expect
When I hit the water I thought I maybe had about a 100 foot lead? I ungracefully removed my sandals it felt like forever but only took a second or two as a frantically got to my feet and started running in slow motion. 2nd place  was nowhere to be seen.  I settled into a very short stride trying push off the ground as many times as possible.  Going Barefoot was 100% the right call It turns out I didn't need any extra grip what so ever.
I felt sorry for the poor bastards who wore their shoes into the water,.

I kept a steady pace hugging the walls trying to take the very shortest path.  It was difficult but I knew it would be over soon.  During a few of the switchbacks I could see the runners behind me and my lead was growing?  
It was such a relief  to be out of the water.  Running in the water is like have a parachute tied to your back. Now the parachute was gone and I was running faster than any other time of the race. The race was mine to win if I can make in in one piece a measly 400 yards barefoot.

I had totally forgotten what my Mom and every other mom has yelled at her children since the dawn of Suburbia???

"No running around the pool!"

About 20 steps into my sprint to the finish line my left leg slipped out from under me knocking into my right leg. I thought I was going down for sure but somehow maintained my balance.  I banked around one final turn and flew through he finish line in first place about a minute before the next runner.
After the race I was really hoping to get my picture taken with Snoopy but sadly he was nowhere to be found. I decided to get my picture taken with the Road Runner Sports Shoe Dog instead.

 Snoopy was sleeping in and did show later for about ten minutes.  I have been more of snoopy fan than Woodstock guy but because Snoopy did not stick around for the Kid's race or the awards I'mjumping ship 
(and you thought my other artr work was bad)
Woodstock you are now my homeboy and hope we get to share a few Stone Ales very soon. 
Perhaps a sandal will be named after you someday????
People couldn't wait to see how the fared against me. 
Over 2,500 people participated in the race.  Part of the reason I ran as fast as I did was too get out of the Lazy river before it turned yellow.
After the race I sat around and chatted with a few runners including one kid named Richard whom had just recently ordered a pair of Luna Equus sandals.  His excuse for not wearing them in the race "My dog ate my laces."  
When I told Richard I run for Luna Sandals he got all excited and asked me if I was the dude who loves Avocado's?
This is what comes up if you try to find out about me from the Luna website.  Yo Dudes at the factory if you get an order from some kid named Richard for some new laces see you can hook him up for me he's a pretty cool dude.  Thanks
It was almost time for awards but first came the kids race.  (sadly they didn't get to go in the water)
About 100 or so kids ran the 1/2 mile lap I had blast watching them finish and cheering them on.  This little dude was the only one to run it barefoot.
At the ripe old age of 33 I was older than the second and third place finisher combined.
It's the first time I ever got 3 medals for one race. 
(1st place age division, 1st place overall and just for finishing.)

And was was the prize for finishing first you ask?

I had to right down my address my address so Road runner Sports can send me a free pair of shoes.
I sure hope it's a pair of these

I rarely run faster than ten minute mile while training and almost never run faster than an eight minute one but I've been running so many short races of late I think it's become a good supplement to my long distance soft sand running.
I have a 5mile race this Thursday night in Long beach at El Dorado Park and the then a 5k on the Beach on Saturday before heading off to the Grand Canyon at the crack of dawn this Sunday. I will return home the following Friday just before the Hermosa 24. Today will probably my last run over 3 hours before the event. I am not yet at full strength but my confidence is growing every day.