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Friday, December 17, 2010

Death Valley Trail Marathon Recap

This is my 17th and final marathon of the year,  and my 73th marathon overall

Well, I have out done myself this year by completing more marathons than last year, in 2009 I have done 13 marathons,  it seems like I wanted to pushed myself a little further every year. So lets see if I could do more marathon in the year 2011.

The Death Valley Trail Marathon usually held on the first Saturday of Feb, but after 21 years, they had decided to switch with the Death Valley Borax Marathon, which held on the first Sat of December. The reason for the switch was because of the weather condition is using better for the trail in December than in February. So this year they actually had 2 Death Valley Trail Marathons in the same year, one is Feb and one in Dec, but next year they will back to normal with Death Valley Road Marathon in Feb and Death Valley Trail Marathon in Dec.

I got off work Friday night at 10pm, met at my parents house midnight and we were heading to Death Valley aroudn 1am. About 6:15am, we arrived at the Furnance Creek Ranch, where we would pick up our bib at this bar called Corkscrew Saloon, it's a tiny little bar with the restaurant right next door. While I was waiting in line to get my bib, I bumped into my Maniac buddy Kino from NY, he was doing this marathon AND RNR Vegas the next day. What a hardcore Maniac!

Before we take the shuttle bus to the start, the race director gathered us runners infront of the ranch for a little briefing, he talked about how the race started and how he used to be a sub 3 marathon runner, but now since he has titanium knee, he isnt the same as before anymore, but this guy is funny and he has the voice you can hear from miles away. So after all the info had been addressed, we all headed to the shuttle buses for about half an hour ride to the start.

The Race

The race started like around 9am instead of 8:30am. I was running comfortable the first 3 miles, but because of the elevation at 3500 feet, I started to slow down a bit, when I got to the first aid station at around Mile 5, the elevation jumped to 4000ft, they have aid stations every 5 miles so we all needed to carry our own bottles. The next few miles were rough since it went from 4000ft to 5000 ft elevation, I did a lot of walking and running.

Then I was relief when I saw 2 school buses on top of hills around Mile 9 cuz I knew that's our  next aid station, I filled up my bottle and was on my way. After that it was a little downhill, then about a mile uphill running thru this scenic trails and after that it was pretty much all downhill from there, as you can see the elevation chart below.

Running downhill can be fun but challenging on your quads, plus you have to watch where your foot lands so you wont trip yourself.

Running down this beautiful trail was breath taking.

 At Mile 15ish Leadfield, ele approx 4000ft.

At Mile 15 aid station

I heard this truck was behind me and I barely have room to get out of their way. Scary!

At Mile 20 aid station, 10k to go!!
At Mile 23 aid station, 5k to go!!!

Look back the around Mile 23.

With 5K to go, I was able to run my comfortable marathon pace since the elevation was down to less than 900ft. I crossed the finish at 4:45.13.

Here are my splits:

Mile 1 -9:26,                             
Mile 2 -9:34,                   
Mile 3 -9:40,                       
Mile 4 -9:59,                     
Mile 5 -11:34                      
Mile 6-12:03,
Mile 7-12:22
Mile 8-14:23
Mile 9-13:44
Mile 10-12:40 
Mile 11-10:34,
Mile 12-15:36,(it was a long way climb to this point)
Mile 13-11:26,
Mile 14-8:58 ( my lungs felt a lot as I was decending)
Mile 15-9:20
Mile 16-17:41 ( I was taking picture at Mile 15 aid station, so that's why it took me so long )

Mile 17-10:10,
Mile 18-9:42, 
Mile 19-8:59
Mile 20-9:10
Mile 21-9:32,
Mile 22-8:33, 
Mile 23-9:25, 
Mile 24-10:07,(was hanging around by the mile 23 aid station before I started to run again)

Mile 25-8:30,
Mile 26-8:40

After the race, we drove to Vegas to meet up with my Maniacs friends for dinner, they were doing the RNR Las Vegas Marathon the next day, I didnt run it but I was on the course cheering for them. Fun times!!!

At the Finish Line

Overall I really like this trail marathon, I think it's very challenging but only the first 9 miles or so, after that it's mostly downhill than uphill, very scenic course, I would recommend everyone to run this at least once.

Next Race....................New Year's Day Marathon, Kingwood, TX, 1-1-2011

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Malibu International Marathon Recap

This is my 16th marathon this year and 72nd marathon overall

I wish this was my 100th marathon, but not yet.

I just ran the New York City Marathon a week ago and I was ready for another race. This time was the Malibu International Marathon, it was their 2nd year organizing this race. I had ran this race last year and I had a blast!! The reasons I wanted to run this one again were the goodies that I got, the beach towel, the medal, string bag, and a little lunch bag, plus the beautiful scenic coastal view during the 2nd half of the race. Running on the PCH for 15 miles is definiately a Race to Paradise.

The Expo

I drove almost 2 hrs in LA traffic on the Friday before just to get to Zuma Beach to pickup my packet, the expo was REALLY small, there were only about less than 10 vendors in the parking lots, so after I picked up my stuff and my Maniac friend Deo's stuff, I hung around for a little while and talked to fellow Maniacs, James, Silver and Jessica, who were also there to pick up their bibs. Then I left later on and I drove almost 2hrs back home and went straight to work.

Race Day 

I left my house at 3am, drove about an hour and a half to Zuma Beach, the finish line, to take the shuttle to the start. The bus didnt leave until 5:30am so I was just hanging out in my truck and trying to get everything ready for the race. It was still pretty dark in the parking lot with only a few street lights. The finish line was just starting to set up.

At  5:30am, I started to head to the shuttle bus, it wasnt really too cold so I was wearing just my Maniac singlet and my arm sleeves with no extra bag to be checked, being in New York the previous weekend, I think this was the perfect weather, at least in the morning. There were a few familiar Maniacs on the bus, Nadia, Dave and Deo, who just finished the Catalina Eco Marathon the day before. So after about half an hour ride and a few wrong turns, we finally arrived at the start in Camarillo Airport. It didnt take me long to locate my Maniacs friends, since most of them were wearing their Maniac singlets.We chatted and took a bunch of group pics just to kill time before the race starts.

Click on all the pics below to see a bigger version
Maniacs invaded Malibu Marathon.

About 5 mins before the race starts, my running friend Andrea grabbed me while I was having my pic taken with the Maniacs, I totally lost track of time with so many photo opportunities, oops. Andrea and I had decided to run together since we both wanted to finished Sub 4, we kept a pretty good pace right from the start, I got my Garmin with me and she had her split time on her wrist so we kept each other in pace.

Me and Andrea before the race.
Me and Yolanda "Walking Diva", she is on her way to Gueniess World Record of Most Marathons in a year by a female

 Me and Casey, our bib numbers were almost right next to each other.

Mile 1 - 8:12, 

 Saw this runner around Mile 2

Mile 2-8:30, 
Mile 3- 8:44, 
Mile 4-8:32, 
Mile 5-8:47, 
Mile 6-9:06, 
Mile 7-9:08, 
Mile 8-9:03, 
Mile 9-9:17, 
Mile 10-9:26 (started to run on PCH from this point on)
Mile 11-9:19, (encounter a few headwinds right around this point)
Mile 12-9:26, 
Mile 13-9:44, 

Finished around 1:57.13 at halfway point

Mile 14-9:48, 
Self served aid station around Mile 14, this is what happen when they dont have enough volunteers for the race.

Mile 15-10:08 

Mile 16-10:27, (Andrea started to slow down so she wanted me to move on to try to get in Sub 4)

Mile 17-8:39, 
Mile 18-8:58, 
Mile 19-9:30, 
Mile 20-10:08, (a few sets of rolling hills started at this point)
Mile 21-11:17, 
Mile 22-10:43, 
Mile 23-11:19, 
A runner was down around Mile 23, Ambulance arrived in no time.

Mile 24-12:39 (all downhill after this point)
Mile 25 -11:18, 
Mile 26-9:46, (time to sprint to the finish!!!)
.2 Mile -1:03 

I finished in 4:14.37,, which was almost about the same as last year when I finished in 4:13.27, what a surprise!! Plus, I finished faster than previous week's NYC Marathon when I finished 4:21.11

Overall I really like this challenging course, although the medal look exactly the same as the previous year, only the year and date were changed, but the towel and the bag were a nice touch. I would definitely run this again next year just because it finishes on the beach.

Next Race................... Death Valley Trail Marathon, 12-4-2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NYC Marathon 2010 Recap Part 2

Saturday 11-6-10

Woke up early again just to get as much of  NYC has to offer, and this time I decided to to check out the Empire State Building, They open at 8am so I went to the McDonald's right across the street from it and get myself some breakfast, coffee, free WiFi so I can update my facebook statue on my iPhone before I head to the building.

When I walked in the building, there were already a few people lining up by the escalator to go to the top, they were mostly tourist, as so was I . I waited for around 10mins before they let us go up to the escalator, then to the  security check point before we even get to the ticket booth, it was $21 for just the 86th floor, but for extra $15, you will get to go up to the 102nd floor for a even higher view, I only went for the 86th floor this time. So after I bought my ticket, the guy lead me to an elevator and told me the elevator will take me to 80th floor, then after that I will have to take a 2nd elevator to get to 86th floor, I was pretty much the first one to get in the elevator since the people infront of me were making a stop at the restroom. So when I stepped out of the elevator on the 86th, the guy told me that I was the first one to the top, I didnt get anything special for that but it was nice to know. It was really cold early morning once I walked to the observatory deck, it was like around 40 degree, I was glad I bought my gloves at the expo or my hands will be freezen.

The view from the top was unbelieveble, I could see miles and miles from there, I walked around the building a few time and make sure I took enough pictures before leave.

I held on to my bib so it doesnt get blown away

I stayed up there for almost 2 hours before I had to go and get ready to go back to the expo and meet Deena Kastor and Ryan Hall around noon. So I walked back to the hotel, changed a little bit and take the shuttle bus to the expo.

I was glad to get to meet Deena Kastor and Ryan Hall again, plus Greta Waitz, 9 times winner of the NYC Marathon. I had all of them signed my bib also.

Pre Race Dinner

I met up with my Maniac buddy "Kino", who happens to lives in NY, and few of his friend for dinner at this little Italian restaurant nearby the Central Park, Their food and service was OK, nothing special to write about, no wonder they received a letter "C" for the health and safety inspection grade. After the dinner we all headed home and called it a night and get ready for the race in the morning.

Us four at the dinner, but only 3 of us were running the race the next day.

Race Day 11-7-10

Woke up at 4am, left our hotel by 5am, walked to the New York Public Library to get on the shuttle bus to the start. Got to the villages in Staten Island before 6am. I was suppose to go to my BLUE village, but my friend starts in ORANGE village, so I just stayed with her for awhile before I headed to my BLUE village.

Inside the Orange village, they have coffee, water, gatorade, baegals and powerbar for us to keep us warm and fed. Some even brought their sleeping bag to keep themselves warm since they wont start for another 3 hours!!! Some other were stay inside one huge tent, aka "refugee camp". We just sat outside on the grass by the light pole, the sun started to peak early morning.

View of the Verrazano-Narrow Bridge early morning

By 7am, I started to head to my BLUE village to get ready since I have to check my gear by 8:10am. I saw even more runners hanging out while I was on my way there, some even brought their tents!! I went to check my bag early so I wont have to deal with it later on, so all I had on me was my race outfit, plus a t-shirt and my sweatpant to discard when the race starts. I figured those will keep me warm until then.

Runner gathers around hours before the start

Runners inside the "Refugee Camp" before the race, looks like they just finished a marathon.

This runner even brought his tent with him.

About 8:45am, I got into my Corral since they will close at 8:55am, the race starts at 9:40am. Then around 9:15am, they open our corrals and let us make our way down to the entrance of the  Verazano-Narrow bridge and wait for the start, people started to throw away their clothes on the side while they were making their way there, some were even taking a pit stop by the bushes.

The race started around 9:40am, it was a thrill running on the bridge will thousands of runners, I can't help but kept taking pictures of the bridge and the runners infront and behind me, I can feel the vibration of the bridge with so many people running on it. I told myself I will stop taking picture after the first mile, then I will just concentrate on the race, hopefully I could PR. I tried to run on the right side of the road just in case I need to stop and take pictures. The view from the bridge was amazing, I wish I could just stop and admire the beauty of the view, but I gotta keep going. I was going a very good pace, maybe faster than 4 hour pace, I was suppose to run at a 9min pace, but I think I was running a 8min pace, I didnt want to slow down cuz I was feeling good and comfortable at that pace, at least for awhile. Below are my mile by mile split time.

Mile 1 - 10:15      
Mile 2 -7:13
Mile 3 - 7:56
Mile 4 - 8:04
Mile 5 - 7:59
Mile 6 - 8:00
Mile 7 - 8:08
Mile 8 - 8:21
Mile 9 - 8:25
Mile 10 - 8:24
Mile 11 - 8:50
Mile 12 - 8:37
Mile 13 - 8:41 ( had to run up this hill at this point.)

Finished in 1:50.35 at halfway point

Mile 14 - 9:05
Mile 15 - 10:27
Mile 16 - 11:40 (had to use the restroom after coming off the Queensborough Bridge.)

Mile 17 - 10:48 ( feeling really tired and sleepy from this point on.)
Mile 18 - 12:06
Mile 19 - 15:10
Mile 20 - 11:28
Mile 21 - 11:50
Mile 22 - 10:37 (start running inside Central Park, crowds were everywhere!)
Mile 23 - 11:56 (3 more miles to go, I was almost done!!)
Mile 24 - 11:51
Mile 25 - 11:50
Mile 26 - 10:23 (start giving high fiving to people on the side. =-))
.2 Mile -  3.17

I finished in 4:21.11, my goal was to go Sub 4, but with all those little hills here and there, I will accept my time, plus I had a lot of fun, I didnt want to finish when I crossed the finish line. 

After we finished, we still had to walk forever just to get out of the park, runner with high bib number get to get their gear earlier than us with a lower numbers, so I had to walk pretty much ALL the way to the end to get my bag since my bib number was 4083. AND after I got my bag I STILL have to walk for a long time to get to the subway, but I didnt end up getting on it, I just kept walking back to the hotel, plus I did pick up some food on the way.

Overall I really enjoyed NYC Marathon, the aid stations were awesome, none of them were more than a mile apart so I didnt have to carry my own bottle. The crowds were also amazing, I havent seen so many crowds since Chicago Marathon. I will definately want to run this one again whenever I got in the lottery again.

Next Race......................Malibu International Marathon, 11-1-2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NYC Marathon 2010 Recap Part 1

This is my 15th marathon this year and 71th overall.

WOW!!! I still cant' believe that I got the chance to run the NYC Marathon!! Every year many runners got rejected from the lottery system, I was very lucky to be picked on my first attempt. I didnt really expected to be picked cuz I know my chances were very slim, but I was glad to say "I'M IN!"

After I found out that I was accepted to run the NYC Marathon, I was thinking about postponed it until 2012 because once I got accepted, I could postpone it as many years as I want with quarantee entry, but I will still have to pay th entry fee. Because I have 3 other races in October that I have to run so I didnt want to travel too much and have to miss work.  But my mind changed a few months later that I would rather run a double that weekend in Indiana and West Virginia, I registered for both races but haven't booked my flight and hotel yet.

THEN about 2 weeks before the NYC Marathon, I had my mind changed again and decided that I really should run the NYC Marathon, I would be stupid not to run it once I got IN!! Many people are dying to run this race and that is no way I would skip this opportunity, plus I dont want to waste my money to have it pushed till 2012, that would be REALLY stupid.

So just A week before NYC Marathon, I made my flight reservation and motel stay thru flight and hotel). I did a lot of searching and finally found the flights, price, location that I wanted.

Wednesday 11-3-10

Catching an early flight from LAX to Philadelphia for a connection flight to New York at La Guardia Airport(LGA). When I arrived at LGA, it was around 5:15pm local time, I went to the Ground Transportation counter to wait for my shuttle  from SuperShuttle to take me to my hotel, they are only $19 each way!! Way cheaper than taking the taxi, although they had to drop other people off on the way, it's still worth it. They got to my hotel an hour later, and I was glad I wasnt driving in NY cuz the traffic was INSANE!!

I checked in this Hostel call Gershwin Hotel, they are only $39 a night, but of course it's a dormitory style with bunk beds, so I had to share a room AND bathroom with other people, which I didnt mind since I wont be doing a lot of sleeping anyway. =-)

Thursday 11-4-10

Woke up at 7:30am, left my hostel by 8am and walked to the convention center to catch my tour bus for the marathon course tour that I signed up a few days ago, it was drizzling that morning, plus a bit strong wind, my weak umbrella was blown out of shape!! The marathon tour lasted 4 hours from 9am to 1pm, the tour guide talked thru the whole course and told us the history behind all the popular landmark, It starts from Staten Island, then to Brooklyn, then to Queen, then to the Bronx, then to the finish in Central Park in Manhattan. It was a very fun 4 hours ride, I couldnt have driven the course myself if I was driving, plus the rain would make it even impossible.
Sitting at our tour bus

Passing by Chelsea Piers during the tour

After the tour I went to the expo and pick up my bib and everything. I was kind of suprised that the expo was as big as I thought it would be, I finished within an hour. All I bought was a apir of ASICS gloves with all 5 boroughs name on the fingers, and a few packs of Gel blasts from Powerbar, they actually came back with the cola flavor, which I LOVED!! I walked/ran back to my hostel afterward, which was only less than 2 miles. I didnt know how to take the bus since I dont know which bus I should take, so I just decided to walk instead.

Friday 11-5-10

Woke up early cuz I had to meet up with my friend Lan at her hotel, she just took an red-eye flight  from CA, we went to get some breakfast at this restaurant call Maxie, our omelettes were really good, a bit over priced but it was worth it. I decided to check out my hostel and stay in her room till after the race, so that saved me $80. =-) They werent allow us to check in early, but we could leave our luggages with them and pick them up when we check in later on.

My plans for the day were to visit the Status of Liberty Island, plus the Ellis Island. Then attend the New York Knicks vs the Washington Wizards game at night.

So around 12pm I took the subway down to the Staten Island Ferry station and took the ferry to the Islands, but when I got there, there was a LONG line waiting for the ferry ride because everyone had to go thru the airport-style security check before hand, so we all have to remove our jacket and everything and go thru the metal detector machine. It was really a hassle but I guess it's better safe than sorry.

When I got back from to the Staten Island Ferry station from Ellis Island, it was around 5:30pm, I took the subway back to the Time Square station and walked back to my hostel and get ready for the Knick game. Since everywhere are so close by, I walked to the Madison Square Garden just in time for the tip off, they were passing out t-shirt while we were walking up to our sections. My seat was in the 1st row of the upper level, so sometimes people were walking by many time kind of blocking the view just a little, but I did have a good view of the court from the end. The Knick won that game 112-91.

To Be Continued......................