Monday, November 29, 2010

Game on!

For some reason everyone is in a tizzy about this North Face Race in SF but the big event this weekend is the WS Lottery down at Placer HS. I'd love to be there but I am going to a football game instead.

The great news out of Auburn is that 9 out of last year's top-10 have signed up to return. Oddly enough, the only guy from last year's top-10 to not sign up is Zach Miller who was one of only two from 2009's top-10 to finish there again in 2010 (can you guess the other one:)?

Anyway, it's great to see that Geoff, Anton, Killian, Nick, Gary, Glen, Ian and Dan will all be back next June. Now, we'll see who else gets in via luck or speed or both.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

2010 Hayward Field Mile

There are few places in the world of sports as hallowed as Hayward Field. Fenway Park, Churchill Downs and Placer High School come to mind but there are few, if any others. And, in that context, my family and I traveled to Eugene this week to run a mile on Pre’s home track – a place with ghosts all its own.

The race was between Craig Thornley and I -- one mile on the track, no pacers, no whining and no excuses. Two legendary runners were in attendance -- John Ticer was there as the official timer and Meghan Arbogast was there with the awards. The winner would go home with a USATF National Team hat and the loser would go home with a bottle of shampoo. And, the loser would also run Western States with a shaved head (in my case) or a full head of hair (in Craig’s case.)

Craig made no secret of the fact that he intended to stick to my tail for the first two laps (regardless of pace) before taking the lead and burying my sorry ass over the final 800.

And, that is pretty much how it turned out.

Off the gun I took the lead and ran the first 209 in 38. That felt good and I was happy to hit the 409 in 75. From there I dialed it down a bit not wanting to re-live last year’s catastrophe and we hit the 809 in 2:33. At that point Craig puffed by on my right and began to open a bit of a lead. I tried to hang on as best as I could and we rolled into the 1209 at 3:48. The race was on! While the string was getting stretched it was not broken.

Craig opened a pretty good gap down the back straight and by the 1400 mark he had the race in the bag. However, I was not feeling completely clapped and I thought I might be able to make it interesting. As we passed the Bowerman Building with 100 meters to go I felt him coming back to me ever so slightly. Channeling my inner Chris Solinsky I moved into Lane 2 and began my closing sprint. I heard Meghan telling Craig I was gaining on him and I even noticed his slight look back with 20 meters to go.

In the end, he beat me by 1.6 seconds (5:06:00 to 5:07.60) but I, clearly, had won the war. Given the fact that I have an 8-hour lead in the 10-year bet, the sheer fact that Craig was only able to take 1.6 seconds off me in the mile is further testimony of my dominance. That said, Craig was a gracious host in the post-race party that lasted in excess of 5 hours (what a great sport that a 5 minute race can be followed by a 5 hour party!) and we reveled in the ridiculousness of two washed up ultrarunners running a mile just for bragging rights on the day before Thanksgiving.

Best of all, we are now officially excited to begin training for WS 2011 which, for both of us, will be Finish #8.

PS -- I ran a Turkey Troy 5K on the day after Thanksgiving and was psyched to clock a 16:59. Not exactly Solinsky like but still pretty good for an old, washed up ultrarunner. Time to get ready for Squaw!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Mile

I am heading out to Oregon with my family tomorrow for Thanksgiving and along the way we plan to stop off at Hayward Field to run a mile. Readers of this blog may recall that last year I attempted to run a 5 minute mile at Hayward only to "fail epicly" and limp in at 5:14. This year, I have no illusions of running sub-5 but I am racing my good friend and fellow Western States geek Craig Thornley. And, unlike last year, we are running "mano a mano." No pacers, no spectators, just Craig, me, and, hopefully, MonkeyBoy with his video camera. The plan has the gun going off sometime after noon on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving.

Here's the video from last year's debacle. With post-race commentary:

Friday, November 12, 2010


Lots of chatter today about lotteries and the like and, I must admit, it gets me psyched for the season. In addition to all the usual suspects I am particularly pleased that Scott Jaime and Joe Kulak will toe the line at WS in June. It'll be a bit like old home week. (Especially so if Criag weasles his way into the race again after spending 90 mins on the cot at 49 in 2010).

But, more to the point, and more meaningful to me now, I am in Telluride, CO for a job interview this week and had a 90 min window to run this evening. It wasn't much but I got onto the HRH course and realized how great it is. Truly, there are no mountains like the San Juans. The descent off Imogene into the setting sun really did it for me. Yes, indeed...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Another WS Memory

The Awards Ceremony at the WS100, while a bit over-the-top, is always one of the highlights of my year. After all of the emotion of the race and the celebration of the finish the awards ceremony is the final chapter, the dessert, if you will.

This past year, my family found themselves in the front of the group and therefore we were right there when everyone received their buckles. In the photo above you can see the legendary Ian Torrence after he received his buckle.

Ian has always been one of the classiest guys in the sport and after chasing him through mountains, forests and deserts for the past 15 years I can honestly and sincerely call him a friend. His post-race congratulations accompanied with the words, "Impressive work, brother." will stay with me for a long time. Thanks Ian!