Saturday, February 21, 2009

10k Race Report and Round Valley in the News

Sage to Summit Winter Race 2

The second race in this winter series proved to be very challenging. If you take a look at the topographical course map you'll notice that the path goes over several lines. And with an out-and-back course, this means you have to go uphill in one of the directions. The 700 ft climb was made more difficult by the fact that it was done over a very sandy trail. I don't know how trail runners can stand the soft stuff, I'll take the roads any day.

I was hoping to get the 2nd win and be 2/3 or a way to a sweep of the series, but I had to settle for 2nd place as I was absolutely no match for Dan Yarborough who lead from the gun. I went off slowly from the gun and sat in about 5th place for the first half mile. I picked it up just before we left the harder park surface for the sandy trail. I didn't want to pass on the soft ground and risk having to leave the groove (the area of the path that was most packed and easiest to run on), however I quickly found that there was absolutely no groove. I entered the trail in 2nd about 10 yards behind first. I kept him in striking distance for much of the first few miles, but each time I planned to surge to catch him he simply put more space between us.

At the turn-around he flew past me and I knew it would be an almost impossible descent to catch him. I watched my competition after the turn and had a good 10-40 second gap on the next 4 racers. After running 7 minute pace up the hill I was now moving along in the mid to low 5's. Near the end of the race I heard the steps of someone behind me. I made a quick glance, and my heart sank when I saw my coach Andrew. He must have been absolutely flying, because I had a decent gap on him at the halfway point. I glanced at my Garmin (I don't usually wear this during a race, but there are no mile markers on this course) and saw there was just over a mile to go. At that point I felt I didn't stand a chance to hold him off. I began to push much harder in the hopes that he would tire.

I hit the hard ground again at the half mile to go point and I put in a surge. At the next 90 degree turn I took a quick glance and saw that I had opened the gap a bit more. It was certainly deflating to lost by such a wide margin (I'm not sure what it was as results have yet to be posted) but it was nice to hold of Andrew, who has out-kicked me in many a mile repeat.

Its hard to measure my performance in this race considering the conditions, but I'm happy to say my pace was a few seconds faster than race 1 and this course was certainly much harder. Next up: The Chico Half Marathon two weeks from today.

NBC article on Ryan Hall highlights Area Locales

I did a double take when I saw the byline on this article about Ryan Hall's current training. Round Valley is a very tiny place, and imagining a reporter there gave me a good smile. Having done several of my recent workouts there it was fun to read the article and glance at the accompanying photos.

ROUND VALLEY, Calif. -- It is lonely and harsh out here in the high desert of eastern California. In the winter months, it is cold and it snows, the wind howling across land so remote and forlorn that just a few miles to the south the U.S. government set up internment camps in the 1940s.

One main highway, U.S. 395, cuts through here, interrupted now and then by service roads, strips of asphalt laid down to access huge pipes that carry water far south, to Los Angeles.

This is where Ryan Hall comes now to test himself, in thin air, on high ground, on roads with no names, readying for the Boston Marathon this spring, hardening himself to the elements and the doubts and the question whose answer, as yet, remains uncertain.

While I don't relate to the religious aspects of Hall's running, I really appreciate his attitude and he carries himself very well.

From the time he had started running, more than 10 years before, Hall had dreamed of his approach to Olympic Stadium, and the tunnel, and the roar of the crowd. In his dreams, of course, he was first.

That day in Beijing, bound for tenth, he nonetheless experienced an epiphany.

"I remember thinking, 'You can choose now how you want to live this moment. Do you want to feel disappointment or do you want to pout? You can. Or you can enjoy it.' I just felt like I had this voice from God: 'This isn't everything you wanted. But it's everything you need right now.' "

A nice section about the effects of training around other great runners and a good thought on race strategy and the mental warfare all competitors enjoy.

Every day, too, Hall can see in and around Round Valley and nearby Bishop, Calif., in the high desert, and in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in the mountains that rise to the west off the valley floor, the evidence that what he's aiming for is possible. Meb Keflezighi, the silver medalist in the Athens 2004 men's marathon, lives and trains in the area. So does Deena Kastor, the bronze medalist in the Athens 2004 women's marathon.

"His form now is right on," Kastor said of Hall. "He is looking so impressive for so early in the season."

Mahon said of Kastor, and of the lesson her medal-winning tactics offers, "Deena makes you hurt as soon as the gun goes off," Mahon said. "If you're going to beat her, she's going to put you through an immense amount of pain. Why? Because she knows you're going to question that pain and question your will from the get-go."

Snow is Gone

Hello brown one, hello blue one
Last night's feathers exchanged for new ones
Hello blackbird, hello starling
Winter's over be my darling
It's been a long time coming
But now the snow is gone

-Josh Ritter

The blizzard from last week is done and the snow is beginning to melt here in Mammoth, but unfortunately it won't actually be gone for quite some time as its supposed to return tomorrow evening.

One last time...

Be sure to check out Jason's blog for pictures and a great story about his time in Austin.

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