Ran the 10K at the 6th Annual Aut2Run 10K in Camarillo Yesterday

The 6th Annual Aut2Run 5K/10K races took place yesterday at CSU Channel Islands in Camarillo. The last time I ran a 10K with a bit number on was this same race in April 2015, when I finished in 38:56 at age 50. This was the first 10K for me since then and was not planned for – it was a decision made about 10 days prior.  

Being leery of injuring myself, I ran within my means, finishing in about 45 minutes. Yes, I lost 2 minutes per year of age from 2015 to 2018. But…I was really not prepared for an all out performance. With about 10 to 15 miles per week at a slow pace, I could not fool my body into running anywhere near the 6:17/mile pace I ran three years ago. To get close to that, I’d have to run 30 to 40 quality miles per week.

But it was fun getting out there and testing the limits of this untrained body. My friend Craig was a couple minutes ahead of me. At age 65, he’s running quite well, doing speedwork on the track one day a week along with some downhill intervals on the trails. I, on the other hand, was running on a cup of coffee and not much else.

The first mile clocked in at 6:47, close to a 42 minute pace, I had a 7 minute per mile pace in mind, which would be a 43:24 10K. It wasn’t even close.

Perhaps, just perhaps, I will start upping the ante again….subject to my body revolting on me!

Felt Good at Today's 3rd Annual Aut2Run 10K at CSU Channel Islands

Today I ventured down the Potrero Grade to CSU Channel Islands to run the 3rd Annual Aut2Run 10K in support of the Autism Society of Ventura County.

This was my first completed race since the 2nd Annual Aut2Run 10K last year. My training has consisted of daily runs, but nothing fast or fancy, about 30 to 40 miles per week, mostly slow and unfocused.

It was fun to get out there today with no set expectations in mind, other than to give it a solid go and try to run a smart race. Last year I finished 3rd overall in 37:55, a time that reflected the fact that I was running with some 11-12 year old kids one day a week on the track. This year I managed a 38:56, which I was happy with given my training and my advanced age (I reached my 2nd half century of life subsequent to running last year's race).

In the posted race results, my time shows me at 4th place overall, but behind a 48 year old woman from Moorpark. Unless my advanced age has created senility, I know for 100% fact that that person in front of me in 3rd place was not 48 years old, nor a woman, but perhaps a 24 year old male over six feet tall. I know that quite well as he trailed me for several miles early in the race, before pushing ahead and leaving me in the dust on this part-trail run, though I had him in my sights the remainder of the race.

This is a well managed race and STARTED ON TIME. That's always a positive sign when race organizers, who have a challenging job managing any race, can nail that. Although I live only about 5 miles away from the race, I managed to barely drag myself out of bed and down the hill to reach the starting line with about 4 minutes to spare.

As the starter said "Go," the standard adrenaline-induced sprint took place, leaving me in about 40th position at the first turn. Having run hundreds of local 5K/10K runs over the years and finishing 3rd place last year, I smiled, knowing, all these sprinters would provide me some target practice over the next few miles. It only took about mile and a half to settle things out, where I landed in about 4th or 5th position for the remainder of the race.

This 10K is pretty much flat the entire way, though the 2 miles of dirt surfaces near the Scary Dairy along with a couple short hills provided for very brief challenges. Mile 5 is a very slight downhill on Camarillo Street. I tried to pour it on over that stretch, but when you're not used to running fast, it's hard to do so as you fear your body could implode. I was able to pass a youngster half my age who was running in, yes, a lab coat. I joked with him that he was doing the elderly (i.e. me) a favor running in that coat and that they should deduct a minute of his time for it. He laughed and we pushed on to the finish.

The winner of the race was Steve Cox of Newbury Park, who finished in a speedy 36:35. Steve is 18 years younger than me, so I figure, he would run 10 seconds per year slower over those 18 years, or 3 additional minutes, resulting in a 39:35, so I would have beat him, heh heh. Yes, one can become quite delusional once they reach age 50. Nice job, Steve!

A great race it is and an outstanding resource onsite with a number of autism and special needs organizations. Learn more at www.aut2run.org and the Autism Society Ventura County site at www.autismventura.org.

Finished Half of a Half Marathon Last Sunday and Ran Trails on Christmas

This past Sunday, I ran half of the Holly Jolly Half Marathon in Camarillo, ending the year of racing with a thud. So why is there a photo of a Santa to the Sea bib number below? More on that later.

The bib number that I did not wear

Why just half of a half marathon? Why not just run the 10K or 5K? Because I fully intended to run the full half marathon until my right hamstring gave me grief about 3 miles into the race. Not a sharp pain or pull or anything; just a tightness and soreness that gradually shortened my stride and caused some discomfort.

This was a low key local half marathon/10K/5K in Camarillo, mostly flat, about 80% on roads, 20% on a bike path, double loop course. I signed up for the half marathon about 4 days prior because earlier in the year I had purchased an entry into the Santa to the Sea Half Marathon on December 14th. That half marathon I didn't even make it to.

Let's go further back. On Saturday, the 13th, my wife requested that I put up additional Christmas decorations in the front yard. Somehow I managed to tweak my lower back while working on the candy canes. My back is not very forgiving...later that night I determined I would not be able to run 13.1 miles in the morning.

2014: A year that I turned 50 years old and...felt it! A year that had some promise at the beginning, but quickly fell into an abyss of lower back and sciatic nerve problems.

While the year was not a great one for my racing, I did manage a sub 38 minute 10K back in April and for the most part I've stayed healthy and my injuries, although frequent, were dealt with expeditiously.

So, back to last Sunday. This low key race started out fine. In fact, I found myself in the lead at mile 1, where I looked at my watch and saw 6:24. This pace seemed perfectly fine to me. It translates into a 1:24 half marathon, on par with the half marathon time I ran in February.

A younger fellow passed me by shortly after that first mile, and I made no attempt to stick with him. Having not done a wink of speedwork or shorter distance races for many months, I did not feel another gear in my transmission. But soon thereafter the sciatic nerve issue that caused me not to run the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon reared its ugly head.

The beauty of a double loop course is that it gives you the opportunity to call it a day mid-way into the race and move along with your day. That's just what I did. Having experienced this same hamstring / sciatic nerve issue in the past, I took it in (diminished) stride, stopped, stretched and drove off to enjoy the rest of the beautiful day that it was.

I do believe that sitting too much is not helping my problem. So I get up as often as I can, change chairs, sit on a pillow, occasionally work while kneeling on the ground on a pillow, etc. The issue appears to be a chronic one as it has taken me out of a number of races in recent years, so I'm grappling with how to deal with it. I do find my chiropractor is able to help. Perhaps more stretching would help.

BUT...today is Christmas, and after spending the morning with the family, I was able to take off for an hour long run on the trails, injury free. Just getting out there, running without pain, was enough for me to not have a care about the mediocrity which was the last 8 months of my racing, or lack thereof.

Trails like this take me to my happy place, regardless of how my latest race went.

Top 60 Year Old Runner at 2014 Big Sur Marathon Hails From Newbury Park

A good friend of mine, 60 year old David Louks, finished 42nd overall, 1st in his 60 to 65 age group and 2nd fastest age group performance of all time at the Big Sur Marathon held last Sunday, April 27th. This was Louks' 67th marathon and I'm certain it will not be his last. Big Sur is one of the most challenging, yet most beautiful marathon courses. Congrats Dave!

As for me, a few days ago I signed up for a local 5K, the 2nd Annual Run for Your Health 5K in Camarillo held this morning, along with my son. This was a small 5K, with only about 70 registrants, on a well marked course taking runners from the Camarillo Community Center, up Carmen to Las Posas to Arneill to Ponderosa and back to Carmen. Not the most exciting course in the world but with the help of local police they were able to cone off a lane for us the entire course.

Somehow I managed to win the race in 18 minutes, 22 seconds, slower than I felt I was running, but I was running all alone most of the way. This 49 year old body was followed by a 15 year old about a minute back. Fun stuff. I felt fine other than a bit of a stomach cramp that kept me from "pushing it" in mile three. My strategy with stomach cramping is to periodically breath in and blow out air quickly, though not too much (the last thing I need is to hyperventilate in a 5K). It kinda sorta worked for me, but not completely.

In any case, it was fun going out there on a whim today and my 11 year old ran a solid 22 minute race too.

It was not cool out today after week of hot temperatures but it was somewhat less hot than over the last three days, which was nice.

Pleasantly Surprised at My Time at a Last Minute 10K Race This Weekend

Last Thursday, April 3rd, I decided it would be fun to run the local Aut2Run 10K race hosted by the Autism Society of Ventura County on the campus of CSU Channel Islands.

There were a number of reasons I decided to run the race. My sciatic nerve issue that kept me out of the LA Marathon has subsided and I've been running pretty much pain-free once again. But without any type of race on the horizon, I've been running fairly aimlessly. The race is just miles from my house. And believe it or not I've never seen much of CSU Channel Islands. And of course the Autism Society is a worthy charity to support.

For the last two weeks I've run on the track Tuesday nights with my 11 year old son and some other kids that are part of the local youth track club. My goal was to teach them pacing by running with them, so they could later take that pacing with them when they run 1600/3200 meters in competition. I found it a humbling experience running with these 5th graders as a few were pulling me along with them...until I forced them to hold back a little.

The first night I ran, I was worried about my hamstring issue coming back, but somehow held it together. We were running about 6 min per mile pace, which is still within my comfort zone. Barely. It paid off for my son because he was able to pace himself to a new PR in the 3200 on Saturday and meet the "varsity" standard. His pace was 6:09 per mile.

I was running to help the kids, but on Sunday it was apparent the 400 to 800 meter track intervals I was running with the kids also benefited me as I was able to creep below 38 minutes in the 10K this Sunday in 37:56, good for 3rd place overall. This translates into about a 6:07 pace per mile for 6.2 miles. Damn! Training with these kids apparently helped me!

For no particular reason I don't run a lot of 10Ks. I generally opt for 5Ks. In fact, the last 10K I ran was on August 18, 2012 in 80 degree heat in the San Fernando Valley and before that, sometime in 2010. My 37:56 was faster than both of these. So at age 49, nearly 50, I'm running the 10K distance faster than I was running it at age 45. I guess a little speedwork can pay off...when done in moderation.

The start time of the race was 7:30am, though it was delayed until 7:39am (yes, they announced 7:39, not 7:40, not 7:45, but 7:39). The typical pre-race maneuvering took place. Though I wasn't treating the race like an Olympic Trial or something, I do like to get a decent position at the start so I don't have to worry about maneuvering around people that shouldn't be there at the VERY FRONT. I was standing next to a gal that clearly should not have been at the front of the race, but thankfully she was next to me, not in front of me. I wish everyone would use a bit of common sense at these races. But, time and time again, many do not. They think, cool, I'm at the front. Like being at the front of the grocery store line.  Not cool...unless you plan to finish near the front. Which, in this case, this particular woman finished nowhere remotely near the front of the race.

I digress. After the gun went off, I found myself in 2nd place, behind a young man who, for some reason, turned left after the first straightaway. I followed him, in my race mental zone

But several seconds later, I heard yelling, "HEY! HEYYY! OVER HEEERE! THIS WAYYY!" and sure enough, %^&* ^*%^&, 50 yards or so into the race and I've taken a wrong turn. UGGHH. Immediate mental letdown. A split second I'm thinking %^** it. I'm done. Dropping out. But another split second later I opted to ignore those lost ~8 seconds as we backtracked towards the group. I went from 2nd to around 40th but heck, this was just a fun run. Keep going. Get over it. I did.

As the fuming in my brain settled down, I was able to pick off runners like target practice. A mile into the race and I was still back in around 7th position, but I felt decent and it was actually kind of fun gradually reeling in people. I had figured that the lead runner would be out of range, but I could still clearly see him. He was not extending his lead.

If I had any "beef" with this course, I could not recall seeing a single mile marker on the course. Whether or not there were any, Near the 15 minute mark I had pulled back into 2nd place overall, within seconds of the lead runner. But at this point I felt unsure of how much to push this old body, not knowing how it would hold up. So for the next few miles I traded spots with one other runner, until roughly the 4.5 to 5 mile mark of the race.

As I pulled up next to the markedly taller (than me) runner, I said, "We can catch him." He didn't say anything back. I put the gas on a little, but the guy in front had a pretty significant gap on us. I was slowly narrowing it, clearly in 2nd place, but not quite knowing how much further we had to run. This knowledge gap is a problem when you're trying to compete.

Before I know it, an even TALLER guy passes me by, looking strong. It was a DIFFERENT really tall guy, even taller then the other really tall guy. At that point I was not able to respond. I was still pushing the pace, but I didn't trust my body to trail this guy. In hindsight, perhaps I should have tried. But without knowing how much further we were running, and with no recent 10Ks under my belt, I just kept my pace as the gap between us grew.

Minutes later I crossed the finish, feeling fine, about 20 seconds behind the winner, and 19 seconds behind Really Tall Guy. I am about 8 years short of equaling these guys' combined ages, so I felt pretty good keeping them company.

The day before, I volunteered to work the long jump pit at my son's track meet. I tweaked my lower back being one of the sand raker guys. So I gave that up and became one of the measurer guys. Little did I ponder at the time that bending down 200 times to measure long jump distances would make my quads sore the next day. That soreness was there with me on Sunday, but the Advil I popped in that morning seemed to take the edge off. My advice: THINK about what you're doing the day before a race or suffer the consequences.

I'm a happy camper that I can run a sub-38 10K race with the type of low key training I've been doing.

On that note, the Autism Society of VC did an outstanding job, had an amazing turnout, handed out outstanding looking medals and shirts to all, and raised $100,000. Very impressive. All while sharing useful information about autism. To learn more about the race and the organization, visit aut2run.org and www.autismventura.org.

Results From the 2nd Annual Marla Runyan Half Marathon on Sunday, October 20th

The 2nd Annual Marla Runyan Half Marathon took place on Sunday, October 20th. I ran the inaugural race last year and would have loved to run it again this year had my kids' activities not precluded me from doing so.

There were 243 finished in this year's event and top placing male finishers were Bradley Jones (36) of Camarillo in 1:19:45, Jose Lastre (29) of Oxnard in 1:23:46 and Greg Wondra (35) of Camarillo in 1:26:05. My 1:23:51 in last year's race got me 4th place last year but would theoretically have landed me one place higher in the 2nd annual event.

Top women finishers were Schatzi Sovich (46) of Ventura in 1:36:58, Rikako Takei (51) of Gardena in 1:37:31 and Jenny Loppnow (43) of Camarillo in 1:38:24. Wow, impressive showing by masters' runners in the women's race!

The oldest finisher in the half marathon was Ted Price Sr of Oxnard, who crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 30 minutes, 39 seconds. Nice job, Ted!

There was also a 5K event, where 37 year old Jesus Perez took top honors in 17:18. Not far behind was top femal finisher, Melissa Hernandez of Oxnard in 18:42 - that time got her 4th place overall in the race. A total of 220 runners and walkers completed the 5K.

Not a bad showing for this 2nd annual event, which benefits the Boy & Girls Club of Camarillo at www.bgccam.org. Hopefully we'll see a 3rd annual Marla Runyan Half Marathon in 2014 at www.camarillohalf.org.

Bodily Ailments in Process of Being Resolved at the Chiropractic Office

Good fridge or bad fridge? Maybe good fridge as it forced me back to visit my chiropractor.My training has been hampered for several months now due to a problem with my right hamstring that I tweaked at at 5K race in April. Additionally, I kindly yet ignorantly decided to help a friend lift a refrigerator into a truck without wearing some type of lower back support. The combination of the two left my walking like a zombie right out of Night of the Living Dead a few weeks ago. As a result, after a long hiatus from chiropractic care, I paid my favorite local chiropractor, Dr. Stanley Jensen of Jensen Walkin Chiropractic in Camarillo, a visit.

The first issue to resolve was my back. There was a delayed reaction between the time I helped with the fridge and the following day, when I felt the lower back "go out" (technical terminology). When I blamed my friend for my back ailment, he mentioned perhaps it was the two hours of swimming and messing around in the pool with the kids that did it. Nah. It was the fridge.

As is usually the case with my chiropractic experience, the day after my initial adjustment is often worse. I'm in more pain. I have less flexibility. I'm more miserable. But having gone through this cycle for so many years now, I know that the pain and suffering is part of the recovery process. Kind of like the day after the marathon, which is usually the day that I'm at my peak soreness.

So after my initial adjustment on Monday, by Wednesday my back was back to about 60% normal at my second adjustment, and on Friday, back to 90%. That was two weeks ago. Last week, after resolving the back issue, the goal was to remedy my nagging hamstring issue. I actually can thank my friend who asked me to help move the heavy refrigerator as the back spasm it caused forced me to finally get back to my chiropractor to resolve the chronic hamstring issue that wouldn't go away!

I pretty much run through all pain, unless it is practically impossible to do to, like last year, two weeks prior to my Malibu Marathon, when I developed a sharp pain in my lower left calf halfway into a long run. It the pain is sharp I stop running. If the pain is dull, yet nagging, I stil run. That's the mode I've been in since mid-April. I can't run fast and I can't run much more than an hour due to the annoying pain.

My hypothesis as to the cause for my injuries is often wrong. I thought I had strained my hamstring muscle. Nope, Jensen indicated it was a nerve issue, of which I cannot recall the name of the nerve he mentioned. He's resolved some extremely chronic, recurring issues for me in the past and I trust him to make the right assessment. Whatever he's doing now, it is very slowly...but surely...getting a little better each week. So I'm hoping to be back to running with a smile on my face soon.

Another 5K Race...at Least I'm Consistent at the 35th Annual Camarillo Kiwanis 5K

Today I ran my first race in about 6 weeks, the 35th Annual Camarillo Kiwanis 5K/10K. According to race organizers, this is the oldest race in Ventura County.

This is one of the most low key, mellow races you'll find. With only 134 total participants in the combined races, parking is not an issue. This year the race took place at a new venue, Pleasant Valley Fields. The course circles around the park onto the Calleguas Bike Path, where most of the running takes place for both races.

I felt fit a week ago but my hamstrings have been sore from sitting too much I think. Maybe I need to sit on ice bags or something. This morning my right hammie was a little sore and stiff before the race and stretching didn't do me any good. But the race started at 7:30am, I was paid for, so I was gonna run, sore buttock or no sore buttock.

First mile was 5:42 behind a youngster who was wall ahead of me. But I knew I would not be able to maintain that pace as my right hamstring at that point had an even more distinct pain. So I plugged onward for an 18:18 5K, good for 2nd overall. It was a disappointment for me because when I signed up I felt I could regain my sub 18 5K time today based on my recent training. But it just wasn't to be today. I believe a day or two off will help me more than anything.

Kudos to the Camarillo Kiwanis for running a nice local event while maintaining registration fees at only $25, including t-shirt and post-race eats. $25 5K races are a dying breed. $30, $35, $40 and even more is what I'm seeing out there. So for that fact alone, do consider the 36th Annual Camarillo Kiwanis 5K/10K in 2014! Visit kiwanisclubofcamarillo.com for updates. The Kiwanis uses all net proceeds from the race for local scholarships. A worthy cause.

First 5K Race in Over Four Months Was Not a Disappointment

The last time I ran a 5K was the Jason's Race 5K on October 14th of last year, over 4 months and a week ago. My time in that race was 18:18 for the win.

Starting line photo courtesy of the Camarillo Family YMCA www.ciymca.org/camarilloAs of Thursday of this past week I had no plans to do another 5K, but a friend of mine asked me if I would be stopping by the Camarillo Family YMCA 5K down at Pleasant Valley Fields. He said he may be there. Well a few hours later I thought, what the heck, and signed up.

This morning I arrived at the race with my 9 year old son, who decided he would make a go of the 5K himself. So my little buddy was with me, but my friend who prompted me to sign up for the race was nowhere to be found.

There were about 200 runners and it was a very casual little race that took us on an out and back course mainly through Pleasant Valley Fields and a couple streets. There was a section of the course on dirt near the west end of the park that I was not real fond of running on but it was a relatively short section.

The race started very typically. About a dozen youngster ranging from 10 to 20 by my estimate took off like it was a sprint. It took about 1/4 mile at most to slip by the group and I found myself behind one last guy who I was unable to rein in. This young man, 30 years my junior, was the ultimate winner of the race. Nice job!

My place in the race did not change from that point on. The first mile was 5:38, which felt fine and translates into a 17:28 pace, but I couldn't maintain that pace.

There was a pain in my chest as I seem to have an allergic reaction to chimney smoke that constricts my lungs. With all the cold weather we've been having, my breathing has been impacted people burning wood in their fireplaces. Just one of those frustrating things that I can't do much about other than to steer clear of neighborhoods known from personal experience are smoke pits. In any case, 2 hours post-race and my chest killing me!

That one annoyance aside, I ended up finishing in 18:16, suprisingly 2 seconds faster than the 5K 4 months ago! Now if I actually start training for a 5K, maybe I can get down below 18 minutes again...

My son ran his very first full 5K race in 24:27, sub-8 minute pace. He was hampered by side cramps and walked sections of the race...I think this kid has the potential to run me into the ground in a few years.

Now, time for a beer.

Marla Runyan Half Marathon Today Indicates Possible Sub-3 Hour Marathon Time

The Inaugural Marla Runyan Half Marathon in Camarillo Sunday morning started off on time and as planned, behind the Target store. Great weather was on hand - overcast, low to mid 60s, minimal wind.

Marla Runyan is a legally blind runner who graduated Camarillo High School in 1987. Stargardt’s Disease caused her childhood macular degeneration that took away her eyesight. But she didn't let this stop her.

Runyan is a three-time national champion in the 5000 meters and won four gold medals at the 1992 Summer Paralympics. She is the first legally blind athlete to compete in the Olympics, finishing 8th (top American) in the 1,500 meters at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She was the top American at the 2002 New York Marathon in 2 hours, 27 minutes with the second-fastest debut time ever by an American woman.

Quite an inspiration. And she was there at the start of the race, giving us a brief, yet memorable send-off.  The key words were "make sure to pace yourself." Solid advice.

My goal was to run a half marathon time of 1 hour, 25 minutes or less. Based on my 2.1 rule of thumb (projected marathon time = half marathon time x 2.1), a time of 1:25:43 or below equates to a sub-3 hour marathon time that has eluded me now for 8 years.  So I was thinking I'd be happy with a 1:24 to 1:25 run at a reasonable pace that wouldn't beat me up.

Cutting to the chase, I ran the race in 1:23:51, good for 4th overall and 1st in my age group. I just looked back and the last time I ran a half marathon was over 3 years ago on 9/19/09, in 1:23:53. So somehow I managed to cut 2 seconds off my time.

The words of Marla Runyan were penetrated my brain briefly but 1/4 mile into the race my body told me I was felt pretty light footed. So I pulled past 5 or 10 guys into 2nd place, within range of the 32 year old who ultimate won the race (and on that note, pretty much ALL of my personal best times were set at the age of 32).

To achieve a 1:24 marathon, all I needed to do was run a 6:25 pace the entire race. The first mile for me was 6:09 and my two mile time was 12:20. Five miles into the race I was under 31 minutes, around a 6:12 average pace. I had built up a minute cushion below my target time.

Then around mile 6 I started realizing that my body could not continue that 1:21-ish half marathon pace. While I was able to maintain the rate of my stride, my step became less bouncy and more labored. No breathing problems or anything, just muscles that started to show signs of fatigue. Not good!

Two guys passed me between miles 6 and 10 and one more nearly reeled me in at the end (in fact, I was surprised he didn't catch me but I gave it whatever I had to hold him off).

At mile 10 I was around 63 minutes or so, which translates translates to about a 6:46 pace for the final 5K, significantly slower than the 6:18 pace for the first 10 miles. I definitely struggled to keep my pace but I held it up through the finish....barely!

Lesson learned. If an OLYMPIC ATHLETE tells you to pace yourself before a race, well, dammit, LISTEN to him/her!

But it was fun making an attempt to keep it real with those 32 year olds. I'm 48, so you'd think at least I get to subtract a third of my time to even things out with them.

Would be interesting to run that exact same race again, but this time do the first 6 miles at the more appropriate 6:25. Perhaps I would have run negative splits and a faster overall time.  Next time...

Three weeks until the Malibu Marathon now. Considering one more slow paced 18 to 20 miler this coming weekend. I'll do it if I feel up to it.