I guess I'm still training. Actually, I wouldn't call it training. Right now I guess I'm just staying in shape. With no runs planned in the immediate future I'm just hitting the road logging my miles. Kristen and I ran with our club, AREC, yesterday for the weekly Saturday training runs. I ran 9 and she did 16. 9 is the longest I've done in months and I was surprised to find that I felt good the entire run. I try to tell my non-running friends that the longer you run (in terms of years) the easier it is to go on long runs and not be wiped out. They usually laugh and shake their heads. Oh well. Their loss.
I keep slacking at updates. That sucks. Okay, back to updating.
We were in New Orleans back in the middle of May and found a 3 miler to race called the Al Briede Gold Cup. It was a nice flat course through City Park with people at every mile yelling out times and encouragement. For a small race they did it up right. Friendly people, music, jumbalaya after the race(?!) and best of all a Budweiser trailer. Four taps, 2 Buds, 2 Bud Lights. Free. No one busting your balls for a ticket. No limits. Just drink after the race until the thing is empty. Nice. Kristen was 2nd female overall and 1st in her age group. I won a t-shirt so I got that going for me which is nice.
We signed up for the Laguna Beach Memorial Day Half Marathon, but we really didn't think about it enough. We weren't able to pick up our packets and bibs the day before which meant that we would have had to get there by 6:15 to give us time to park and get our stuff and get organized in time for the 7am start. We live in Long Beach so as any runner knows, there's a morning pre-race ritual and then you have to drive to the race. To be in Laguna Beach by 6:15am we would have had to get up at 4am. We had a party to go to later that day so the night before we decided to bag it and eat the fee. We offered it up to friends, but I guess they were all smarter than us.
On June 11th we ran the Long Beach Wrigley River run 5k/10k which I've done in the past. It's a nice event. Small, but well organized. Kristen had a bum toe, but still managed to PR for the 10k and win 1st place in her age group. I was off my 5k PR by 10 seconds again. Whatever dude.
So I picked up a new hobby. I've been brewing beer for a few months and have really gotten into it. I have a 5 gallon batch of Kolsch fermenting now that I will bottle tomorrow. It needs to condition in the bottle for 2 weeks and then it'll be ready to drink. 5 gallons equals anywhere between 43 and 48 bottles of beer. Sweeeeet! I have to figure out which beer to brew up next. Hmmm. Maybe I'll have to change the name of this blog. Winebeerandthefinishline?
I don't usually post about hiking, but sometimes a hike turns into a trail run and boom: Finish Line. Kristen and I went out to the beautiful Anza-Borrego State Park this weekend and hike some of the amazing trails the park offers. As usual we stayed at the Borrego Palm Canyon Campgrounds and scored one of our favorite sites: #105. There's a section of the campground where four sites are really secluded and provide a nice, quiet environment. Anyway, there are miles and miles of fantastic trails to hike (and run if the urge hits you like it does us) and most are easily accessed by standard two wheel drive cars with a few better suited to SUV transportation.
On our first day we set out on a trail called Hellhole Canyon which I thought was a bit of a misnomer given the lush beauty at the end. The 5.2 mile round trip trail was full of various cacti and some of the last natural Palm Tree groves in California.
The next day we set out on a trail called Rainbow Loop. The trailhead was a little hard to find, but once we did the desert unveiled its hidden beauty with a trek up a sandy, narrow canyon that showcased all kinds of ocotillo, teddy bear cholla and prickly pear cacti still blooming with bright red, orange and green flowers.
Feeling a little froggy, we decided that it might be fun to run the last three miles back to the car. The soft and silty ground made it a challenge, but easy on the knees.
Now, one of the great fringe benefits of going to Anza-Borrego is that on the way, there is a modest and very friendly winery called Shadow Mountain. The owners are great and even gave us a tour of the operation. If you ever go there I recommend the Old Gus Red Table Wine and the Syrah.
Of course, no trip would be complete for us if we didn't find another winery on the way home. In this case it was a wonderful vineyard/winery called Hawk Watch. Absolutely great wines for a fair price. Hey, you can't beat a camping/hiking trip with wine going in AND out right?
Last week Kristen ran the 115th Boston Marathon with her friend Wendy (from our AREC running club). This was her 3rd marathon with her 2nd best time, however, she kept it "slow" and fun so she could pace her friend (Wendy PR'd by almost 5 minutes - this was her 12th marathon) and truly enjoy the experience of Boston. It was an amazing event - what she calls a 26.2 mile long party with spectators lining the course the entire way. Exploring the city for the first time was an adventure as well. Lots of great wine bars in "The South Side" and a sweet (while super windy) running course right out the front door of the vacation rental in South Boston. You can follow the sidewalk and boardwalk all around Castle Island for a nice 5-10 miler. We see Boston again in the future (KJ was well within BQ time) but maybe we will skip a year. Lots of fun but a really expensive trip overall!
For the first time since I started running I won a medal. 3rd place in my age group for the Rabbit 5k held at Long Beach City College's Veteran's Memorial Stadium. Kristen won first place age group and overall women and she also broke her previous PR and posted a 19:30! Crazy.
The course was flat and pretty fast. I lost 10 second however, when I made a wrong turn and that was something that actually really pissed me off for awhile even though I knew I'd gotten 3rd place. I could have had a better time. The girl at the turning point just stared at me with a dumb look on her face even as I asked her as I was running if this was the right turn. She just stared as I ran by. So dumb. Anyway, I still received the medal and had a good run.
I plan on putting in a lot of hard work on breaking my current PR of 24:28. I got that time at the Surf City 5k which is a really fast, flat out and back race with no turns so I'll probably have to pick the races carefully. I will still be running 10k's and halfs, but I have my sights set on a new 5k PR.
Kristen and I ran the Timberwolf 5k which was held at a high school in Irvine, CA. I don't know what it is with us, but the last three 5k's we've run were all basically hills. This race started at the foot of a long hill and basically went up and down up and down slowly the entire way. Of course I screwed the pooch, couldn't get my pacing or breathing right and got a crap time. Kristen ran a 20:20 and 1st place in her age group. Whatever dude.
2 weeks ago Kristen ran the Lakewood Community Run 10k and got 1st female overall with a time of 41:27 which is ONE SECOND OFF HER PR! So close. I didn't run this time...because I was on a work trip...in Brazil...Rio de Janeiro...for CARNAVAL! So yeah, I don't feel so bad for missing it.
I can't believe I didn't blog about this yet. Kristen and I went to the El Dorado wine region up near Placerville, CA recently and discovered some great wines for ourselves. I grew up in Northern California and every summer and winter our family would take the 50 freeway to Lake Tahoe for vacation. Obviously since I was a kid I wasn't aware of wine or anything like that, but it was still a small shock to find out that there is a great, hidden region up there. People know about it of course, but it hasn't been overrun with "wine tourists" yet the way Napa and Sonoma and Temecula have. It's a great region not yet spoiled.
Placerville is basically a small community split down the middle by the 50 freeway. And so is the El Dorado region which is in Amador County. The lower elevation soil is granite while the higher elevation is lava. These two different minerals give the wines from both parts a different character which was really fun to discover.
We stayed in Placerville which has a historic downtown area that was interesting to check out. There's lots of antiquing for the women to do while the men contemplate suicide. Just kidding. Anyway, if you happen to be heading over to Lake Tahoe for skiing or for any of the runs they put on there, think about stopping in this area and imbibing. You won't regret it.
Ahoy landlubbers! Kristen and I ran the Palm Springs Half this past Sunday and had a helluva time. It wasn't the best course we've ever run, but it was a bit challenging. The course was promoted as one with slight hills, but it was "mostly flat". What a laugh. As it turned out, the course wound (and I do mean WOUND) through the foothill neighborhood of PS and sadly didn't go by the homes and landmarks that make you think of the city. Most of the homes on the course were behind walls and gates so that kept the sightseeing to a minimum (which was sort of a good thing since Kristen is an architect, loves PS, and would have mostly likely tripped and fell if she had more eye candy). Instead of "mostly flat" it was a series of long, gradual hills, woop dee doos, and two big hills interwoven with turn after turn up and down the same streets. It wasn't frustrating or horrible, but it was a bit of a let down. Most people that ran the race had the same opinion. The upside to all the hills is that you went up and then back down the same hill which was nice.
I didn't train for this race. In fact, my running as of late has been mostly 3 to 5 milers with one or two 8 milers in the last two months. The reason why this is funny is that I ran a better time (by almost 2 minutes) than I did at Long Beach which I actually trained for. Go figure.
Kristen, of course, ran a PR and came in 1st place in her age group and 10th over all! Amazing!
We ran with a bunch of people from our running group (AREC Long Beach) and two of our best friends, Paul and Wendy. Wendy kicks ass and Paul, madman that he is, road the Century bike race the day before and ran a great time.