Monday, April 02, 2007

Great Race of Agoura Hills Half Marathon

Without a doubt, this was the most difficult course I've ever run. A full marathon is tougher overall, but in terms of the actual course, this one was brutal. More on that later.

I got in my car at 5:30am; the temperature was 62 degrees. I park in an open-air garage which is usually a little warmer than the true outside. Fine. Along the freeway it was 50 degrees. Hmmm... that's a bit chilly, but the race didn't start until 7:00. When I got the race at 6:00, it was 37 degrees. THIRTY-SEVEN! I went skiing a few weeks ago and it was warmer than that. The sun finally came up a bit later but it was a very, very cold start.

I think I'm usually pretty good about seeding myself at the start. I tend to be a bit conservative, starting back a ways and then I pass quite a few people in the first couple of miles. But on Saturday, I could not believe how many people were passing me. I was doing 8:30s for the first couple of miles (a fast pace for me) and people were zipping by me left and right. So either this was an elite group of runners, or I totally misjudged the start.

My recent hill training paid off a bit when we hit the trails. About 8 miles of the race was off-road with a very substantial climb of about 900 feet over 2 miles, in addition to other ups and downs. On the trails, I passed more people than passed me, but no where near as many as had gone by on the flat roads. The path was difficult. Much of it was only wide enough for 2 runners; in many places it would only fit one person. So there was a lot of bottlenecking and it did get frustrating. At times the rocks we were climbing were so steep that - I kid you not - it would have been easier if they installed a staircase. It was tough.

My half-marathon time is around 2 hours even. With the rough hills, I was shooting for a 2:10 finish. At mile 9, I realized I was on track to break 2 hours. At mile 10, I was still on track. So things were looking pretty good. Then at mile 10.25 there was another small hill, maybe just a 50-foot rise. But I hit it and just said "2:05 sounds like a great time". I won't say I gave up completely, but I took my time going up that last hill. I wound up finishing in 2:02:14. Those are 9:20 miles on hilly terrain, finishing 70/109 in my age group and 380/1001 overall. Terrific, I'm very pleased.

After I finished I saw Tri Team Gerald who also ran. I wanted to know how this course compared to Wildflower. Yes, obviously you have to run Wildflower after a bike ride but the elevation rise was greater here. I was hoping for the response "oh, this hill is MUCH bigger than Wildflower. If you can do this, you'll be in great shape for May." But of course, by now I should know not to ask questions I don't want the answers to. When I asked Gerald "Is Wildflower worse than this?" he just stared at me. Dead silence. Eventually he muttered a very reluctant "well... no..." but by then it was too late. His delayed silence spoke volumes. I'm doomed.

There were about 10 of us on the Tri Team who ran the Half Marathon or the 10k, so it was really good to have a group to share war-stories with afterwards. Plus, as people finished their races we had a growing support group at the finish chute cheering on all the strangers coming in. I guarantee we were the loudest group there.

I could say the race was fun, or unique, or well-supported and all of that would be true. But if I had to sum up my overall experience I think the best thing I can come up with is this:

It was rough.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can I just blame my slow response on oxygen deprivation?

Honestly, from a course perspective, I think Agoura is a tougher run than Wildflower. Wildflower has a longer hill, but lots more flats and the trail is less rocky.

But, you can’t ignore the – I’ve already been racing for 3+ hours by the time I hit the run – feeling in your legs!


10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Knight Rider' Trans Am up for sale Mon Apr 2, 7:00 PM ET

DUBLIN, Calif. - KITT, the flame-throwing, river-jumping, talking muscle car from the `80s TV show "Knight Rider," is up for sale. Restored to its debut-season glory, the modified black 1982 Pontiac Trans Am is offered at $149,995 at a Dublin auto dealership. Johnny "Vette" Verhoek of Kassabian Motors has had the car, officially called Knight Industries Two Thousand, on display for about a month.

It is one of four documented "camera cars" used for close-up shots and scenes where David Hasselhoff, who played Michael Knight in the series, was behind the wheel.

Although it cannot achieve the 300 mph speeds that KITT reached, soar 50 feet in the air or throw smoke bombs, key features of the star car are intact. Perhaps most important, the red scanner light on the nose glows and makes a humming noise.

The car has two working video screens on the dashboard, and the cockpit features buttons that light up in green, yellow and red: ski mode, rocket boost, micro jam, silent mode, oil slick and eject.

Most of the buttons don't do anything, Verhoek said. Nor can the car hold a conversation or drive itself.

KITT isn't even street legal because of missing smog equipment and other modifications. Whoever buys the car will probably keep it in a private collection, or it may be purchased by a museum, Verhoek said.

The car belongs to Tim Russo of Livermore, a Kassabian customer who figured now was a good time to test the market, with the 25th anniversary of the show's debut coming up.

Russo purchased the car 10 years ago at an auction in San Diego, and has spent the last decade finding parts to restore it.

6:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just ran WF course on Sunday. Had to cut it short, just hard. Well, we rode 101 miles with 9500 feet of elevation on Saturday so running on Sunday was just plain suffering. The first part is not as bad as I thought/remembered, it is really only 2-3 miles section of steep hills. You'll be fine. Work on your bike, that is the key to the race. You have to come off your bike and feeling good, if not, it will be a long day and the longer you take the more heat can impact your overall conditioning.


10:48 AM  

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