Last Saturday, my Running partner, Melissa, and I embarked on a journey to run to the famous Hollywood sign. Once a month there is a group from our running store, A Runner's Circle, that makes the 13 mile round trip journey from the store to the sign. We have talked about going, but it never seemed to fit into our schedule. Last week, she had 18 miles "of hills" on her schedule and I had 13 miles on mine, so I volunteered to run the extra miles with her. We decided to try and make it to the Hollywood sign and I mapped out a route that would give us approximately 17.5 miles round trip.The weather looked to be in our favor as well, the forecast was 67 degrees when we started and predicted 77 degrees when would would finish.
We started out at 7:30am with 6 water bottles between us. We made our way past the LA Zoo and Travel Town before heading up the hill. At the top of the "hill loop", we turned onto an old access road that is no longer used by cars. The nice thing about that road is that it is fairly shady most of the way up. We continued on at a nice, easy pace all the way to the top where the trail starts to the Hollywood sign. We took a quick break and downed a Gu and some gatorade.
We started down the dirt trail that leads to the sign, now we were running in full sun and it was getting hot. The trail goes approximately 1.5 miles and runs into a paved (and I use that term lightly) road that takes you all the way to the top. This section was by far the steepest, the last mile to the top had about 400 feet of elevation gain. We would our way around the backside of the mountain and finally made it to the top.
At the top is an antenna array that is used by LAPD and LAFD. The area is highly secured, even the area where the Hollywood sign sits is off limits and gated. We took a few minutes to enjoy the views, take some pictures and rest up a bit for the 8.6 mile journey back.
We sent this tweet to Craig Moss, Just got to the Hollywood sign. 8.5 mi uphill. Time to go 8.5 mi down. Whose idea was this??
And this was the response we got... that was all you guys. I didn't suggest it Huh, who wrote the schedule?
We started back down and we could feel it really heating up. We tried to stay in any shade we could find but it was difficult along the trail that really had no shade. We walked a bit until we came to the end of the dirt trail and found some shade. We were now getting dangerously low on water/gatorade. I knew of a "water bubbler" (learned a new term as well) that I had seen on my Tuesday trail runs with Craig Moss and his group, but it would mean that we would have to take another route down. We got to the water tower and filled up all of our bottles and drank some water until we could drink no more. We headed down the path that would take us past the Old LA Zoo and eventually the Merry Go Round. It was hot and we were feeling it. When we got to the Merry Go Round parking lot, we realized we were going to be short on miles. We opted for a stop at the ranger station to pick up more water and then a loop around the golf course which hopefully was shaded. As we worked our way around the golf course, we were both feeling really tired and overheated. We even pulled out the phone to check the temperature and it was 85 degrees... a far cry from the predicted 77 degrees. We would do a run/walk interval, and eventually made it back to our cars. We fell a bit short of the 18 miles, but it was all good. In the end, we covered 16.63 miles with 1300 feet of elevation gain in 3:35:55
I would like to try this run again in the future, but I think I will wait until the temperature drops a bit. I will also bring a camelback with water as well as a water belt with gatorade.
Hansen Dam Sprint Triathlon (500 yd swim, 12 mi bike, 3 mi run)
I arrived to the Hansen Dam aquatic center about 5:45am and to my surprise, there were quite a few people that had the same idea as I did...get there early. I got some incorrect information about checking in but once I got the correct information, I headed over to the transition area. When I arrived I was told to rack my bike in one of two racks to my left. I found a nice open spot and took it. Only after I got everything set up, I learned I was in the wrong rack, I was in with the 44-49 year old group instead of the 40-44 group. I didn't think it made a big deal a decided not to move. I met up with Liana, Craig, Chris and JT and we stood around and talked for a bit. Once the lake opened for warm ups, we put on our wetsuits and headed into the water. The water was warm, 78 degrees is what was said over the loudspeaker, but I was determined to wear my wetsuit again. I did about 50 yards of warm up ad then headed back to transition for one last check of everything. I went back out to the start where I met up with everyone again before the National Anthem.
We watched as the first couple of waves took off and then I began to get nervous as it was approaching my time to enter the water. I tried to focus on my stroke and breathing and just think about finding a rhythm and keeping it. As the horn sounded, I entered the water near the back of the pack and once I rounded the first buoy that about 30 feet out, I was able to find a rhythm and got going. I made it to the first buoy and was feeling pretty good, once I rounded it, I started to run into traffic and had to slow up a bit and move around some more than I would have liked to. After the second buoy, I lost my rhythm and had trouble getting it back. I flipped over on my back and composed myself and kept moving. I was able to keep somewhat of a rhythm going the last 100 yards to the exit. I peeled my wetsuit down and made the short run, put on my socks, bike shoes, helmet and Garmin and headed out.
Once on the bike, I downed a Gu and some gatorade getting myself prepared for the ride. The first couple of miles were uphill, which I knew, but I just couldn't seem to keep up a pace that I was happy with. My legs felt very heavy and tired but I made it to the backside of the course and started to fly as it was mostly downhill. I dropped into the aero bars and was able to keep a pace of 27 mph for about 3 miles until we hit a sharp corner and an uphill section to get on top of the dam. Once I was up on the dam, I couldn't seem to go any faster than 19 mph and people were passing me. I put my head down and finished the bike course. I ran into T2 and racked my bike, put on my running shoes with Yankz laces, grabbed my bottle, and visor and I was off and running.
I struggled the first 1/2 mile and I felt my chest was tight and was difficult to breathe. Once I relaxed a bit, I felt the breathing become normal. After the first water stop, it was mostly on loose dirt with a mixture of rocks thrown in for good measure. It was getting hot and I was tired, but I kept moving along. I came upon JT who beat me off the bike, said hi, passed him and kept on going. The last hill was tough and I walked a bit but I saw the finish line ahead. I made one last charge, turned the corner and made it across the finish line.
Swim - 12:44
T1 - 2:29
Bike - 34:28
T2 - 1:21
Run - 26:08
Total - 1:17:12
Placed 30 out of 47
For me, the best part of this race was that I was able to race with a bunch of my friends (Craig, Chris, Liana, JT, Tianna, Cindy and Danny) and that my RP, Melissa, came out and took pictures, all of which were better than the official race photographers. I will definitely do this race next year.
I am working on the full race report, but since I am stuck in jury duty hell and haven't had any access to the internet, let alone cell service, it will have to wait a few days.
It was so much fun to race with so many friends...actually this was the first triathlon that I have raced with friends. I was pleased with my time but know where I need to make some improvements and look forward to next year.
Castaic Sprint Triathlon (400 yd swim, 10 mi bike, 3 mi run)
This was the second race in the series put on by the Canyon High School Cross Country program, the first was last month and you can read my race report here.
I arrived early so I could get my choice of rack space in transition, as usual, I chose
a spot on the end of a rack about half way in the transition area. I go set up and then registered. I made my way down to the water to check the temperature and found it to be rather warm. I had brought my new Xterra Volt wetsuit and wanted to use it, but with the water so warm, I wasn't sure if I would put it on. I decided that since I brought it and I have never swam in it before, I would use it. I got it on and went to the pre-race meeting. After the meeting I headed down to the swim start to wait for my wave (40-100) to start. I chatted with a couple of guys and then got into the water as we were about to start. I went to my usual spot, in the back and on the outside, and then the siren went off. I waded out until I could start swimming and tried to find a rhythm, which I was able to do. I found myself swimming up on people and would have to back off a bit. At one point I looked up and two guys in front of me were next to each other doing the back stroke and there was no way to split them, so I head outside a bit more and got around them. I made the turn at the buoy and headed to shore. My swim split was 5:10 which was 1:16 faster than last month. Could it have been the wetsuit? I did feel more bouyant in the water, but I think it has been all the work on my swimming that really made the difference.
I ran up to transition starting to take the wetsuit off as this was the first time I had done it in a race. I got to my bike and took the wetsuit off but a I was doing so, I felt some discomfort in my groin. Remember, I did injure it severly in January. I had trouble getting my socks on but finally managed to get going on the bike. After I got out on the main road, I took a Gu and a few sips from my bottle. As I was putting the bottle back in the cage, it came out and fell under the back tire and I ran it over. After I heard the crunch, I decided to keep going. I kept a pretty good pace throughout the bike, even through the uphill portion. I passed a dozen or so people on the way back and I was feeling pretty good. I saw my bottle on the way back and it was actually intact so I decided to veer off and pick it up. When I pushed off with my left leg, my calf had a sever cramp. I just stopped in the middle of the road and tried to stretch it out a bit. It loosened up and I started up again, but about 4 of the people I had passed, now passed me. One rider actually slowed up and asked if I was OK as he saw me stretching my calf. Bike time: 34:40, about the same as last time.
I racked my bike and put on my shoes using Yankz laces, grabbed a bottle, Gu and headed out on the run. The first portion of the run has a steep downhill section and it's a bit rough on the body, but after that it is fairly flat with a slight incline going out. For the first 3/4 mile, I felt my chest was tight and I was having trouble breathing, but once I got into a rhythm, I resumed normal breathing.I got to the turn around, downed a Gu, some gatorade and walked for about 15 seconds and then made the charge back to the finish. I sprinted to the finish and crossed the line in 1:09:46. Run Time: 25:47
Official finish time 1:09:46, which is a new PR in this race by 1:27 Just thinking if I didnt stop, pick up the bottle, cramp up and stretch, I probably could have shaved off another 30 seconds...oh well..what if??? I am still very pleased.
After the race I chatted with Liana and Bob(@fittorrent and @rcmcoach), who once again came out to support, cheer and take pictures. Than you once again for coming out! You two are awesome.
Next week, I will race the Hansen Dam Triathlon, which will consist of a 500 yd swim, 12 mile bike and a 3 mile trail run. I have never raced this race before, but I am looking forward to the challenge. Today was supposed to be a 6 mile run, but since my calf is still sore, I didnt want to chance it and I took today as an unscheduled rest day instead. This week, I will focus once again on swimming, trying to get 3 swims in this week along with a couple of runs and a bike ride.
This week I will attempt to do something I have never done before...run two triathlons back to back over an 8 day period. First up will be the second race of the Castaic Lake Tri series, I ran the first race back in July and you can read the race report here. The second race, will be 8 days later and that is the Hansen Dam Sprint. I have never competed in this race and I must say, I am a bit nervous about the swim. It will be a 500 yard open swim and it get about 1000 participants. Since I am in a very dense age group, I can be assured it will be a very physical swim. I think the best strategy for me will be to stay in the back and head for the outside. I may end up swimming some extra yards, but that is OK, my goal is just to find a rhythm and keep going.
I have spent extra time in the pool this week and will spend more next week as well working on finding a rhythm and endurance. I am not worried about my biking or running, although I have had a little hip discomfort over the last couple of days, but it should not affect anything. After these two races, I must then focus soley on my running as the Disneyland Half Marathon will be just 2 weeks away and I will be pacing my friend Veronica to a new half marathon PR. She has been working her butt off since I gave her a schedule back in May, so I will not let her down. The only other race scheduled is the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in October and I wont be adding anymore races to the calendar for this year. I will start my LA Marathon training with Craig Moss and the SRLA kids in September and I am already starting to plan next year. I think 2011 will be the year of big races for me...LA Marathon in March, Marine Corps Marathon in October and wedged in between those two...Vineman 70.3(Half Ironman). It's not set in stone but, I'll keep you posted.