Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay 2005

On Sunday, we ran the Big Sur Half Marathon on Monterey Bay. From a scenic point of view, this is my favorite race.

The race started at 7am, with 4500 runners in downtown Monterey. The weather was much warmer than the previous time I had run this race (2003), approximately 65 degrees.

We ran north for a quick three mile loop and then along the Bay past Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Once we reached Pacific Grove, we ran along the water on a Ocean View Blvd, which included a new (to me at least) set of turns and hills that took me by surprise. After the brief detour through town, we then continued South past Lover's Point and Asilomar Beach, then to the turnaround at Mile 8. The remaining five miles retraced our steps and we ended the race at Custom House Plaza next to Fisherman's Wharf.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization - The race was very well organized - clearly marked and staffed. Grade: A

Course - About as scenic as it gets. Grade: A+

Aid-stations - Located as billed - each had water and Gatorade. Gu available at mile 10. Grade: A

Swag - Long-sleeve dri-fit shirt, nice Finisher's medal. Grade: A

The Relay - 2005

On tap this weekend, the 2005 edition of The Relay. If you aren't familiar with this race, it consists of 12 member teams, running 199 miles for a non-stop relay. It is similar to Hood to Coast and goes from Napa to Santa Cruz.

We are well organized as this year we have the same team ("Desperately Seeking Santa Cruz") with the same team captains. Unfortunately, I had to drop out last year due to my ITBS issue, but I am raring to go this year.

I'll be running the 5th leg in Van One, with two 5 miles legs (at ~3pm and ~2am) and one breath-stealing 1200 foot climb over a 3 mile distance (at ~12 noon). The forecast shows a chance of rain -- here's hoping for sunny, mild weather!

Des Moines Marathon/Half Marathon

On Sunday, we ran the Des Moines Half Marathon.

The race started at 7am, with approximately 2600 runners. At the starting gun, the temperature was warm, in the 70's, with about 50% humidity. (Being from the cool, low humidity Bay Area, I consider 50% humidity difficult to run in :-))

We ran through downtown, past the new Wells Fargo Arena (Green Day played the night before the race, which garnered a lot of press in Des Moines) and up the hill (yes Virgina, there are hills in Iowa. Don't let anyone tell you it is flat!) to the state Capitol. After a quick run through town, we went south through the beautiful Water Works Park and then back north to the downtown finish.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization - The race was very well organized - clearly marked and staffed. Grade: A

Course - Southern end of the run through the Water Park was great, parts of downtown were quite scenic also. Grade: B

Aid-stations - Located as billed - each had water and Powerade. Gu available at mile 10. Grade: A

Swag - Short-sleeve shirt, nice Finisher's medal. Grade: B

Reggae Run Half Marathon

We ran the Reggae Run Half Marathon in Santa Cruz this past Sunday.

The start and finish lines were at the new Depot Park, near the Boardwalk. Approximately 300 people ran the half. Based on the fact that the race started 25 minutes late, I would bet this was the inagural event. Luckily, the weather cooperated and temperatures remained cool until about Mile 10.

The race course was very scenic - we ran past the Lighthouse and Steamers and then north on West Cliff Drive. The course wound through Natural Bridges, which was short, but beautiful. We then went along a County road, out to Wilder Ranch and back.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization - The race was not put together well (missing Mile markers and a very late start); however, it was clearly marked/staffed. Grade: D

Course - About as scenic as it gets. Grade: A

Aid-stations - Located as billed - each had water and Gatorade. The Gatorade was waaaaaaaaaaayy too strong - it had to be diluted with water. No Gu/gel available. Grade: B

Swag - Great short-sleeve shirt, nice Finisher's medal. Grade: A

Upcoming Halfs

A bit of running craziness has descended on my house. Without realizing it, I've been signed up to run 3 halfs in the next 3 months.

Jungle Run Half Marathon

We did the Jungle Run Half Marathon in Los Gatos yesterday. Although this was the third year Firstwave has put on this event, it was my first time running it. Firstwave also does several other events, including one of my personal favorites, the Santa Cruz Half

The weather was a bit warm as the usual Pacific marine layer was a no-show. The temperature for the 7am start was around 65-70 degrees. The race began on time (always a good sign) with about 300-400 runners.

The first 4 miles of the course were fairly uninteresting. We wound through parts of Los Gatos and then into Campbell. At the 5 mile marker, we entered onto the Los Gatos Creek Trail and ran back towards Los Gatos, passing through Vasona. The last 3+ miles of the trail were an out-and-back, almost to the base of Lexington (I was happy we didn't have to run to the top! I've done that before and it is a hike). Most of the trail was shaded and very scenic.

Overall, here's how the run rates in my book:

Organization - The race was well put together and the course was clearly marked/staffed. Grade: A

Course - The Los Gatos Creek Trail was great; however, the first four miles, including a not-so-great run down Winchester Blvd, detracted from the overall experience. I'd highly recommend re-doing this part of the course. Grade: B-

Aid-stations - The aid stations were located as advertised. All stations had water, some had Cytomax also. One thing to work on for next year - the sight of a 30-gallon trash bag in a garbage can being filled with water from a garden hose isn't that great. How about some bottled water out there? Grade: B

Swag - The short-sleeve shirts were nicely designed, as was the finisher's medal. I've run larger races with swag wasn't as good. Grade: A

North Olympic Discovery Marathon - Finisher!

Last week, I successfully ran the North Olympic Discovery Marathon (NODM).

Getting there

NODM starts in tiny Sequim, WA and ends in the just-a-bit-larger town of Port Angeles. We set out from SeaTac and drove for about 2.5 hours to Port Angeles, our stop for the night. The 3 or 4 block downtown area was nice, with plenty of local fare (food is always an important thing for a carbo-loading junkie).


We checked out several parts of the course, mainly the 20 mile area and the finish. We had been warned about the ravine (yes, ravine, not hill) at mile 20 and wanted to check it out. The area around Mile 20 seemed fine, so I figured, "how steep could the ravine be?" Boy, would I find out in the morning.

The finish line area was beautiful as it was right along the water in the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. In the distance you can see Vancouver Island. One problem though, the finish was going straight into a 40 mile an hour headwind. Hmmm, that might make finishing tough. After lunch, I asked the cashier what the weather would be like on race day. She told me it would either be windy or rainy. If the wind died down, it would rain. If it didn't rain, it would be windy. I couldn't decide which was worse, a 40 mile an hour headwind for the last 5 miles or rain for 26 miles.


The race started at an incredible 9am. Most of my long runs started at 5:30ish, so am usually enjoying a mocha by then. One of our worries was the race support. If the race only had 1600 entrants, our thinking went, would we be able to depend on the water stops that are so crucial in a marathon? There were shuttles to the start and a building to wait out the start of the race. People were very friendly overall; I met people from Seattle, Alaska and more than a few locals.

Once the race began, we chatted with quite a few people. I met my first 50 Stater (plus DC), a woman who had run 15 marathons in 12 weekends and more than one Canadian. Overall, things went great until we hit the first of 3 ravines. To say they were steep (both down and up) doesn't do them justice. Imagine running 17 miles and then encountering a 200 foot drop and rise in the space of 1/8th of a mile. OUCH! By the third ravine (at mile 20), my quads were fried (coincidentally, mile 20 is also the steepest of the three ravines) and I had to turn my iPod on extra loud.

The final six miles were incredible - two miles of dirt trails in a forest and then four miles along the Strait. The threat of wind/rain never materialized and I cruised to a solid finish. My IT band seemed no worse for the wear, although I had the appetite of a hiberating Grizzly that had recently awakened.


After an extended eat-everything-you-can-lay-your-hands-on session, we quickly showered, packed and drove back to SeaTac. A short 2 hour, completely overbooked flight on Alaska Airlines, and we were home.

Lessons learned

1. Make sure your iPod has both London Calling and Clash on Broadway. Listening to London Calling is just a great, motivating experience. Clash on Broadway has some great early punk, which always gets your feet moving. Just by chance, Complete Control was cranking when I saw the finish line a mile away. Talk about an adrenaline rush.

2. Get a good massage after your long training runs (20+). Going from a really bad case of ITBS to finishing a marathon pain-free (ok, relatively pain free) is a great thing.

North Olympic Discovery Marathon

6 days to go until the North Olympic Discovery Marathon. This is the first year this race has been a Boston Qualifier so it will probably have quite a few more participants than in previous years.

Training for this marathon was injury-free (no ITBS like last time) and overall went pretty well. I didn't quite stick to the schedule, but I learned at the Phoenix RnR that the long runs are what matter the most. This time I ran two 20's for my longs (one at Crystal Springs) and was ready to knock out a few more miles at the end.

Iliotibial Band Syndrome Treatment

I'm a fairly active runner, who seems to succumb to a bi-yearly injury.  Since I was healthy all last year, this was the year to go down. To make a long story short, I was (over)training for the Portland Marathon that was on 10/3/2004. I never made it.

Somewhere along the way, a few of us decided to pump up our weekend training mileage. (We had done Phoenix Rock n Roll in January and wanted to do 3 20-milers instead of 2).  The 16 week schedule had us ramping up fairly quickly, which I thought would be ok.  At the end of Week 6, I did a 18 mile run at Crystal Springs and felt fantastic. I remember telling my wife, "I've never felt better".  Probably jinxed myself...

Anyway, after our first 20 mile run, I was tired, but more than able to complete the run.  Later that evening, I felt an odd pain on the outside of my knee when going down some stairs. Not thinking much about it, I attempted my next run (18 miles) and was unable to go past mile 3.  Ice and Advil seemed to help, but I was not able to do anything. After a trip to Tahoe for the week, I sought some professional help.

A friend recommended the newly renamed Stanford Medical Institute. An initial consult found that indeed I had a major case of ITBS. I immediately began a twice-a-week course of therapy, combined with twice-a-day therapy at home.  The therapy was very very painful at the beginning, as my glutes/quads/<em>Tensor Fasciae Latae</em> were a trainwreck.

If this sounds like something you are suffering from, I highly recommend pursuing at least the foam roller treatment documented in this PDF It looks a little strange, but is very effective.

Twelve weeks later, I am doing a "long run" of 3 miles. The ITBS has lessened quite a bit, but hasn't left me just yet. 

Update: Fixed broken link to the .pdf