The Interval, 12/6/17

Cate Barrett finishing strong at CIM. Photo courtesy of Jacob Barrett.

A tale of two marathons this past Sunday.  I had friends running the California International Marathon in Sacramento and the San Antonio Marathon.  I grew up near Sacramento, my parents and sister live there, and my PR is on that course.  When anyone asks me for a marathon recommendation I go with CIM or St. George.  San Antonio doesn’t come up.  I haven’t run that marathon, but plenty of my friends have and the problem is always the weather.  This year the results at both races stayed true to my expectations:  glorious conditions led to loads of PRs at CIM and the warmth and humidity in San Antonio made a mockery of the goals of most runners.

CIM was also the USATF marathon championships this year and that, plus a good amount of prize money, attracted a strong field of elite runners.  The women’s race was won by Sarah Hall in 2:28, about a minute slower than her PR.  The men’s race was won by Tim Ritchie in 2:11, a 3 minute PR.  Each of the top 3 men set a new PR.  Parker Stinson (Cedar Park High alum), a pro runner now after finishing up at Univ. of Oregon, led for much of the race, going through the half under course record pace.  He ended up bonking, but still finished in 2:18 for 31st place.  Check out the race coverage by Runner’s World and Let’s Run.

A crowd of Austin runners were in Sacramento for the race, with big groups from Rogue and Gazelles, plus a trio from Trail Roots.

Rogue Running sent over 30 runners from Steve Sisson’s Team Rogue group and more from the Cedar Park group.  Steve emailed me a short note:  “All but one athlete who finished either BQ’ed or PR’ed. Two athletes did not finish but the remaining ran very, very well. Significant time drops occurred in most cases & an unbelievable sense of teamwork was felt by all. Good times.”  Two of Steve’s fastest runners were James Greenham, with a 2:42, and Krysten Tucker, with a 2:54.

I have blurbs from a bunch of happy runners:

Cate Barrett ran 2:54, a new PR:

I was thrilled with my race at CIM and know it was a massive positive step for me. I’m striving to hit the Olympic marathon trials qualifier for 2020, so getting within 10 minutes makes that much more tangible. I felt good the whole race, executed my plan pretty well, and even at the last 10K when I felt like I was moving backward, managed to hold pace.

Matt Fletcher of Trail Roots ran a 2:59, a PR by over 6 minutes and achieved a long-held goal of running sub-3:

After a string of marathons that just didn’t go right, CIM’s great weather, great course, and great pacers took away all the excuses and delivered a 6′ 22″ PR after 2 1/2 years of struggling to break back into new speed.  The upper 40’s weather was key to keep my heart-rate down, and the course’s very few turns and surprisingly kind rollers kept from overworking the uphill or downhill or flats muscles at any point, so I had the residual strength to pull away from 3 hour pace-group-leader- extraordinaire, Paul Terranova (huge thanks, Paul!), for my hoped for first sub-3 marathon!

Samantha Taylor and Amanda Bergstrom of Trail Roots ran together for much of the race.  Samantha describes their day:

We couldn’t have asked for better weather. It was cool and not windy. The course had some easy rollers in the first miles and thankfully flattened out in the last 6 miles or so. Amanda and I ran together for the first 20 1/2 miles and we were nervous because we went out faster than we had planned. We thought we would go out between the 3:22 and 3:27 pace groups aiming to run 3:23 overall but every mile when we talked about slowing down so we didn’t blow up too bad at the end, we just couldn’t do it! By 20 miles I was starting to fatigue but Amanda still felt good so she went on. I was nervous that the 3:22 pace group would catch me and crush my spirits but I managed to hold them off. Amanda ended up running just over 3:19 and I ran just over 3:21. We were both very grateful to our coach Erik Stanley for getting Amanda to a big PR and for getting me to a faster marathon than I thought I had in me right now!

Eric Snader ran a new PR of 3:17, easily meeting his goal of a Boston qualifier:

The weather was amazing. Cold at the beginning, and nice weather throughout. The course is great in that it offers gentle rolling hills for most of the course. I felt great from the time I started until about mile 24, but the support from the crowds and David Schwalm got me to keep my pace the last 2 miles, then speed up the last 2/10 mile. It was a PR, BQ, and negative split race for me. I’m super excited.

Full results for CIM are here.

Eric Snader after his BQ and PR at CIM. Photo courtesy of Eric.

The San Antonio stories are not as glowing, but my friends all finished in good style, given the conditions.  I’m especially happy for Shane Pitsch, a new runner that I interviewed in October, who finished his first marathon in 5:22.

A pack (pod, gaggle, herd, murder?) of Gazelles finished the race:  Peter Flemings (4:13), Jimmy McWiliams (3:35), Doug Dempster (4:05), and Ward Keeler (5:00).  Here are their thoughts:

Jimmy McWilliams:

There is not much to say. You could see the humidity. And I think we all had some demons to confront. The last time Peter ran a marathon they still gave out cotton t-shirts (okay, not so, but you get my point, it had been a while, and he did great to finish). Doug is still working out the proper hydration/electrolyte/alchemy/ voodoo strategy–an effort that had our AirBnB looking like a chemistry class–and this time the experiment did not exactly explode, but the results were not as hoped.  Good news is that his spirits were high afterwards and he was able to drive. Ward–well, let’s just say I sent him a text the next day that read “How are you feeling? Are you still crooked?” He actually felt fine during most of the race, but had some trouble at the end, likely due to hydration matters. When he walked into the house his torso leaned in the 10 o’clock direction. I was very weak on speed training but managed to find a groove until mile 22, then I struggled. I concluded the solution was to find a watch that counts backwards. Go figure. A motley crew we were, but with medals on our necks.

Doug Dempster:

The before and after-race company in this year’s San Antonio Marathon were great fun. The race itself was an exercise in humidity and humility that made me wish I had registered for CIM.

Peter Flemings:

An anthropologist, a philosopher, a geologist, and an historian ran the San Antonio marathon. The anthropologist fell over at the finish, the philosopher pondered the meaning of his cramped quads, the geologist ran at a glacial pace, and the historian ran alllllll the way home.  The conversation before and after were much more pleasant than the run.

Ward Keeler:

This was my twenty-fourth marathon and for the first time ever I completely bonked. I was running along at an unimpressive but consistent ten thirty or so pace for 20 miles. Then suddenly I was running unbelievably slowly. I didn’t hurt, wasn’t cramping, didn’t feel particularly bad. My legs simply refused to move any faster. And I was leaning back and to one side. I kept telling myself that I simply needed to straighten up and speed up. It never happened. I couldn’t even pass people who were walking. I’m mystified, especially since I took the same number of GU’s and drank a bit more Gatorade than usual. The one good part was that as I neared the finish line, the crowd went wild cheering on this little old man tottering toward the end!

Full results from San Antonio are here.

Ward Keeler, Peter Flemings, Jimmy McWilliams, and Doug Dempster the day before the San Antonio Marathon. Photo courtesy of Doug.

Closer to Austin, in Liberty Hill, was the Mosaic Trail Runs by Tejas Trails.  This is a new event and is designed to highlight the community and family aspects of running.  From the Tejas Trails description:

All of us are like pieces of a mosaic.  We’re all different sizes, shapes, colors, styles, ages…But when we join together for a common goal, we create a beautiful picture together, a mosaic of fun if you will!
So we created this trail running weekend right here in the outskirts of Austin to give us an excuse to play together.  All ages, ethnicities, backgrounds, and generations are invited to our new trail run at an awesome historic Texas ranch, right next to the city, on the San Gabriel River.  We are especially challenging families to make a common goal to exercise together, to finish a race together, to play in the dirt together, to try something new together, and to come together to help complete this massively fun mosaic with others in our community!

Katara and I drove up there on Saturday and had a great time.  The usual Tejas Trails scene of good fun and competition plus a lot of kids.  The venue, Indian Mound Ranch, is just off the highway and backs up to the San Gabriel River.  Tejas race director Chris McWatters set up about 10K of trails, much of it newly cut between the scrub oaks and cedars.  The terrain was mostly flat, with the occasional steep drop and climb out of dry creek beds or part way down the river bluff.  The loose dirt, leaves, and many turns required runners to pay close attention to avoid falls and stay on the well-marked course.

Sam LaBrie about to enter the woods on the second half of the 10K. Photo by Katara LaBrie.

There were open events of 5K, 10K, 15K, and half marathon distances.  Middle school and high school kids had a separate 5K race.  Younger kids had 1 mile and 2 mile races.  I’ll just list the winners below, full results are here.

Austin Smith and Nardos Southwick, winners of the Middle School and High School 5K races.  Take note of the tree in the background.  Photo courtesy of Tejas Trails.
13.1 mile
Caitlin Hill 2:15
Stephen Baumgartner 1:58
Aubrey Lindberg 1:27
Paul Weber 1:24
Marieke Dejongh 1:04:09
Sam LaBrie 49:43
Carolyn Langford 31:01
Michael Beatty 29:37
5K middle school
Austin Smith 26:56
5K high school
Nardos Southwick 32:21
2 mile kids
Kelbie Black (9) 19:17
Tyler Ecker (11) 18:17
1 mile kids
Jaidyn Warren (9) 9:18
Jack Healy (6) 7:10
Seth Kachel and Kyle Ecker compete in the 2 mile trail race. Photo by Katara LaBrie

Race Director Chris McWatters emailed me some of his thoughts on the event:

The way this whole thing happened was really cool.  The ranch contacted us a while back, as they were looking for some new ways to create a little revenue.  Their whole goal is to fight increasing land taxes and keep their family ranch.  At that time, I didn’t want to launch another event, but then I met Marathon Kids.  I love their staff and what they’re about.  You can see their passion in their eyes when they talk about getting kids and their families healthy and having fun running.  I was honored they asked me to become an Ambassador and at a training session, I decided I wanted to launch a new event to help raise funds and awareness of their awesome work!  Indian Mound Ranch was perfect.

I think everyone knows that I, just like Joe and Joyce before me, prefer tough, gnarly hilly, rocky, entertaining trails.  So it was fun getting to create trails on their ranch specifically for this event.  It was especially cool seeing new and old friends come join my efforts throughout the weeks leading up to the event.  I owe those few folks a lot!  We actually got more trail cut, but couldn’t utilize it all because the math wouldn’t work out.  So it’ll be fun to bring in more mileage next year, and it’ll be awesome to clean up what we started, better benchcutting, proper grading, better lines, etc. …still a lot to go.  But we made a good start this year for sure!

Medals for the open and kids events at Mosaic. Photo courtesy of Tejas Trails.

Chris also told me how he came up with the design concept for the medals awarded to finishers at Mosaic:

Susan, one of the sisters who lives there and runs the place told me about the huge tree in the field where we decided to make the main race hub.  She told me stories of her great grandfather and his family and friends carting water to the tree to keep it alive during a two year drought.  That’s why the rock wall was built around it.  And that’s why I decided to make that the focal point of the logo and Marathon Kids party/awards ceremony.  It was important to me to do a good job of respecting and honoring the ranch, their family, those who currently reside their, and especially those who are buried at the Indian Mound Cemetery onsite.

I created the youth medal to have an outer ring medal (for parents, grandparents, guardians, etc who ran with their kiddo) that fit onto the kid’s medal.  They become one medal in essence that reads “Better Together”.

Thanks to Chris!  I’m looking forward to running at Mosaic again in 2018.

Interesting Articles

A must-read is this report from Cat Bradley on her recent FKT on the Grand Canyon R2R2R route.  I really like that she dropped Jim Walmsley.

The London marathon should be exciting next April, with Olympic marathon champ and track superstar Sir Mo Farah racing Eliud Kipchoge, who came close to a world record in Berlin and nearly broke 2 hours in the Nike sub2 attempt.  Coverage from Flotrack.

A new record for a mile run in Antarctica.  Paul Robinson ran a 4:17 on the snow at about -13F (including windchill).  From Runner’s World.

Upcoming Races

This Sunday is the third race in the Austin Distance Challenge, the Decker Challenge Half Marathon.  Austin Runner’s Club puts on this excellent race, which features a hilly course around Decker Lake, starting and finishing near the Travis County Expo Center.

Trail Runners can join The Circus, if just for one day.  Spectrum’s third year with this event at McKinney Roughs should be a blast.  Individual races of 10K and 30K are available, but the more exciting event, in my opinion, is the 12 hour relay.  Teams of 1, 4, or 6 runners compete to see who can run the most miles in 12 hours.  Our Trail Roots team won the 4 person event in 2015 and the 6 person event in 2017.  I can’t be there this year and it burns.

I first met Thomas Orf at a Spectrum event, maybe The Circus in 2015, when he ran 63 miles in 12 hours in a solo effort.  Thomas is competing this weekend in the Desert Solstice 24 hour, near Phoenix.  This is an elite event, invitation only, and is a qualifier for the USATF 24 Hour National Team.  Good luck to Thomas!