Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

Another year, time flies don't it. I am most thankful at this time of the year. I have a good life.

Well it's almost that time. Off-season is about to end. No more sipping red wine in the evenings or eating chocolate on the couch. Heck I won't have time to do either anyway. My free time will be mostly taken up by training anyway.

I've already got two big goals for the new year; running the Western States 100-Miler at the end of June and visiting the Philippines for 2 weeks in July. Big goals, gotta train hard and put in extra hours at work for the trip. It's good to have goals. I'll figure out the rest of the year in Spring.

Well here's to winter. While we don't have snow in San Francisco it's cold, windy and rainy out, just the type of weather you want to exercise in:) Well it builds character.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Florida Day 5

I friend just emailed me recently, something about enjoying the sunny weather and thinking about them in the pouring rain while I swam in the warm weather. Something like that. Um...yeah...sunny weather is a yes but no swimming. Orlando is in central Florida, the ocean is a couple of hours away, at least. There are lakes, tons of them but there are usually alligators in them. Yup, alligators. The weather has been really nice though, sunny, clear and cool. The best weather I've experienced in all my visits. I feel guilty not being outside.

Anyway I've just been hanging with the family, playing monopoly, watching cable tv, mall shopping, reading, napping, blogging (like now), eating and movie watching. My sister is 16 so we ain't hitting any bars any time soon. My stepdad's grandson is 14 and he was supposed to sleep over the other night but he was grounded. Too bad we had a night of Playstation 2 gaming planned. My stepdad and mom works during the day and I don't really have friends here. So yeah, just plain ol'hanging out, relaxing and being a homebody. Not working is also a big plus. There's a reason why I never got a laptop.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


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Monday, December 26, 2005

Goodbye Fog


For my readers (and there ain't a whole lot of you) who have not seen fog, well this is what it looks like. This is coming into the San Francisco Ferry landing at the Embarcadero. I've been in thicker fog but never in a boat. The day before I left San Francisco I had lunch with a friend in Mill Valley, a town north of the Golden Gate bridge. I took the bus there and on the way back, seeing how wonderfully foggy it was, I took the ferry back. 10 minutes out of Larkspur landing there was nothing to see but fog all around. Without a compass you'd never find your way. I totally understand now how sailors of the past could run their ships aground on places such as this. Thankfully it was just fog, the past few days it had also been raining heavily coupled with strong winds. The ship sounded off it's foghorn every couple of minutes, which was deafening but neccessary, and we could hear the same from other ships. The weather in San Francisco has been pretty bad the last couple of weeks with more coming but less people mind it this time of the year because some of it translates to snow in the mountains. Good bye bike, Hello snowboard. The weather has also been blamed on the shortage of dungeness crab, it's bad enough that the fisherman have not been able to retrieve their crab pots. I'm allergic to crab so I don't care either way on the matter.

Well thankfully I made it out of San Francisco Christmas Eve without incident. I was worried that the heavy fog would delay my flight. I only had an hour to make my connecting flight in Colorado. I love the fog but I don't particularly like being stuck in an airport, who does!? The usual holiday news travel coverage showed a bunch of people stuck in San Francisco International so I prepared for a possible snafu in my travels. I brought books, magazines, newspapers and music for entertainment and a 32 ounce bottle of Tang for sustenance. Ya heard me, Tang. Yes I know, I know, oranges don't really taste like this. Anyway the whole trip went unbelievably smooth and my Nalgene bottle of Tang went untouched.

So now I'm in Orlando, Florida. The weather outside is clear, sunny yet cool. Perfect for doing absolutely nothing:) Which is going to happen today because my sister and I are stranded in the house with no cars. This is blessed relief from work, the phone, work emails, and the pressure to do something.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Merry X'mas / Happy Holidays Everyone


Christmas day is just two days away now! Merry Christmas everyone. And for my friends who don't celebrate Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Peace and joy to everyone this weekend, hopefully a respite for all before the crazy shopping continues and the debauchries of the New Year celebrations.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Free Publicity

So a good friend and colleague works for the design firm that does a lot of design/ad work for Keen. Anyway she clued me in to this "Hybrid Life" thing. She hooked me up with a pair of Keen sandals during the summer and knows how much I love them. She also knows about my extra-curricular activies so she recommend I write up something and send it. Well here I am.

Look for Rick from San Fran. The photo was from the Cascade Crest Classic 100-Mile trail race in Easton, Washington, on the last week of August. This was 86 miles and about 23/24 hours into the race. This is on top of Mt. Thorpe, our last major climb. Mt Rainier is in the background but it's real faint. It was taken by my new friend Russ Kline. We met halfway through the reace and ended up running and hiking together from mile 60 onwards. His company was a tremendous help on the course especially during the night section. We kept ourselves awake and from getting lost. Russ's wife was also great, she would check on me after taking care of Russ. She met us at the aid stations that allowed crew access. She even brought me chicken broth for breakfast while I was doing blister repair...that was painful. Anyway more to come on a run report.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


So you know how it says "chocoholic" in my profile box. Well I didn't put it there just to be comedic or cute. People I have to come clean. I ate most of the chocolates I got for my mom for Christmas. It wasn't a lot since she's watching her weight but I ate most of them anyway. I tried, I tried, but they call my name day and night. I should have bought them the day before my flight. Damn getting things done sooner rather than later.

feeling so...(chomp)...(chomp).... guilty

Close One or How God Saved my Christmas Trip

So back in November I bought my airline tickets to Orlando and I got the usual email from Cheap Tickets that contained my standard itinerary or so I thought. I didn't bother checking it. This evening while I forced myself to read my bible (I wanted to read my Tom Clancy novel instead) I had this urgent feeling to check my flight and so I did.

Well I'm on the phone now with a customer representative from Cheap Tickets. Holding and thanking God for the catch, while she straightened things out with the airline.

The note from Cheap Tickets was not the standard itinerary follow-up but a note of change to my itinerary executed by the carrier - United. So this is what happened. I was to fly out of San Francisco at 8PM on the 24th to Denver then from there to Orlando arriving at 5AM Christmas day. United rescheduled my connecting flight at Denver to 4PM, four hours before I'm scheduled to leave San Francisco. Genius no? Is there enough time to make the change? Aren't the flights booked by now?

This is just a mistake on both our parts. I should have caught the mistake. But what are they doing over there at United? I had this impression of United as over priced and stuffy. Now we can add disorganized to that. Poor United, they've has so many problems lately.

...sipping tea...

Okay so supposedly the change has been made on the United side but the rep at Cheap Tickets doesn't see the change on her computer and I have not gotten the email noting the change. So we are back to square one. I'm back on hold. By the way the rep at Cheap Tickets is super polite and nice.

...sips more tea...

Okay the change is done. And I'm coming out with a better schedule. I now leave at 11AM from San Francisco so I can make the 4PM flight in Denver arriving in Orlando on Christmas Eve not Christmas morning. Ah I will get some sleep after all. more tea...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Roll

This is not something delicious, it's the effect of eating tasty things. Yep, yep, it's not even Christmas yet and I'm already at the absolute limit of what I'm willing to gain for the holidays. Crazy. I weighed myself Saturday and I got an incredible urge to put on the running shoes. The more worn out I am at the end of the year from all the physical activities that I do the faster the weight comes back on in the off-season.

By this time next week I will be in Orlando. That's gonna be scary, it's gonna be a whole lot of; home cooking, ice cream, cable tv, and reading. Maybe I should cut short my off-season? Yeah right...I'm sticking to the program. It'll be tough to not exercise for another couple of weeks but I think I can handle it.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Orlando, Florida

About 3 years ago my parents moved from Honolulu, Hawaii to Orlando....yup, kind of tragic I know. But my sister now has a dog and I gotta tell you guys, I miss the dog first before the family. Truly man's, and in this case my sister's, best friend. That's one good looking shot if I may say so myself.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Le Grand Canyon: A Run Report

GrandCanyon1Day before our grand adventure; myself, Jason, Stephen and JP. Image Courtesy of JP Sulpizio, to view his photos visit his site at

The Quick and Dirty: It was a spectacular run. This was my first Canyon run. It was harder than I thought and a great test for any endurance runner. The views were amazing, truly a beautiful place. We started early at 3:30AM with the goal of making it back before sundown. The temperatures were cool and water was abundant on the trail except the top of the North Rim where the water was turned off in preparation for winter. We all made it back at the end of the day injury free and in good shape, albeit exhausted. We took a lot of pictures and had our own individual experiences and stories to tell.

For more images, take a look at JP's set.
I also uploaded a set of photos on Flickr.

The Complete Report: So this run took place at the end of October to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. Earlier in the year, in one of Golden Gate TriClub's trail runs, I met Jason and JP and through them Stephen. I kept in contact and in August they invited me to join them for a run they had planned in the Grand Canyon. This was an attempt to run from the South Rim to the North Rim back to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in one day. The prospect of it scared and excited me at the same time, how could I say no? Great things have happened when I felt this way. Jason and JP had done this run last year but split it in two days, a day for each crossing.

We had a good group. Jason and Stephen besides being Ironman Triathletes, had done the Marathon des Sables in 2004, a run across the Sahara dessert in Morocco. A monster trek that consisted of 151 miles/243km split over 6 days with runners being required to carry all their own food for the week on their backs during the run! I was also informed that the 4th day was actually a 50-miler, 1/3 of the distance in one day! They did give out water but since this was a desert you had to carry an ample amount with you at all times. These guys were no strangers to endurance running and suffering. JP is also an Ironman triathlete. Earlier in the year he had a personal best of a 10:51 in Ironman Austria. He also regularly runs long distances on trail. All three are capable athletes to say the least definitely capable of finishing the R2R2R (as it's commonly known) which is anywhere from 42 to 48 miles depending on the route you take. These were also smart guys who respected nature and the importance of the having the right gear and supplies, more important than sheer physical ability. As for me, I too have done the triathlon thing, even did an Ironman despite my horrible swimming ability. Ultra-marathoning however is my thing. I frequently train for and participate in ultra-marathons, from 31-miles / 50k to 100-milers / 160km.

So we flew out early Friday morning, landed in Phoenix and drove the 4 or so hours to the South Rim. On the way we managed to find a Whole Foods Market for supplies, a Target for a music adaptor, a late lunch and a quick sight seeing trip to a church that was built on a hill of red rock. When we finally got to the Grand Canyon the first thing we did was park the car and look at the view. How could you not? Amazing! Unlike a mountain that you can see for miles, the Canyon is only visible when you're next to it. We were wondering what it must have been like for the early pioneers. I imagined this scene in my head:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Scout: Umm Sir, Mr. Heah Honcho Sir we have a small problem. Well actually a big problem.

Mr. Head Honcho: What is it? Have you and your men not find a water source?

Scout: No sir, Mr. Head Honcho Sir, there's water enough but it's at the bottom of this Great Canyon

Mr. Head Honcho: Can't we just go around it. I mean, how big can this thing really be? I mean I can't even see it from here.

Scout: uh well it's great Sir...err grand, it's a Grand Canyon.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So maybe that's not how it really happened but it's how I pictured it. Even though I saw pictures of the Grand Canyon in books, I was still floored by what I saw. You know how they say that art is not the same viewed in books and pictures, well same thing here. What amazed me was how I could look down into the Canyon, grasp it's enormity and still not fully realized how big the place was. Maybe this isn't making sense, let me try again. I knew I was looking down into something enormous and grand but I still wasn't able to gauge exactly how big. Scale was hard to judge, even when I could see the thin trails leading down into the Colorado river. Jason was able to help me out, "see that small green area right there, that's actually Phantom Ranch". Whoa, so you say that tuff of green is a ranch, with campsites, cabins and a dining hall. I'd like to add here that the next thing I did was one of the dumbest things and common mistake that tourists usually do when they are in the Canyon. An act that has resulted in fatalities, mostly men. I picked the nearest ledge, sat on it's very edge and had Stephen take my picture. A strange thing really since I am actually scared of heights. I would never sit on the edge of a 2 story building but here I was. I can only explain that I had no grasp of exactly how far up I was. It's not a straight drop to the bottom of the canyon but it can be a few hundred feet in most places. It's enough to kill if you lose your footing.

So after picking up dinner and preparing our gear we hit the sack around 8ish, nice and early. Sleep was light and inconsistent but expected. JP was a great roomate, he wore earplugs! I snore when I'm tired and I'm always self-conscious about that. His earplugs put me at ease but not enough to get a good nights sleep. By 2AM we were up, eating and gearing up. By 3:30AM we entered the South Kaibab trail. This is the steeper but shorter way down to Phantom Ranch, a little over 6 miles and 5000 feet of drop. The other option was the 10+ mile Bright Angel Trail. It was about 25 degrees when we started and we were geared up for the cold, layers which quickly came off and became extra weight on our packs. I even had a poncho stashed in my Camelback, it had rained the day before and Jason thought it might be a good idea to be prepared for any more precipitation despite what the weather report said. He brought lightweight trash bags, I brought a heavy plastic poncho thing which reminded me of a shower curtain. With our lights blazing we made our way down the steep switchbacks.

On the way down, a mile from Phantom Ranch, one of the guys really had to use the bathroom. While waiting at the switchback we turned off our lights and was rewarded by the star lit sky. Inside the canyon it was dark, pitch black but the sky above was just glowing with stars. I saw at least two shooting stars. I could have stayed there looking at the sky till the sun came up. After 10 minutes we were soon on our way and in no time at all crossed the suspension bridge over the Colorado river. I could hear the water but not see it, it was stil dark by the time we made it to Phantom Ranch.

People were already up at the Ranch when we got there. We filled up our bottles, ate and were soon on our way again. As a substitute for coffee I downed some coffee flavored caffeinated gel, a poor substitute but I also needed the calories and sugar carbs. We connected with the Bright Angel Trail that took us through Bright Angel Canyon that had the Bright Angel Creek running through it. This smaller canyon is pretty amazing, in some parts it's only about 50 feet wide. The sun rose while we were on this trail. The trail continued for what seemed like 3 miles through the Bright Angel Canyon after which we found ourselves on open ground. JP and I brought our cameras and we shot and shot and shot. Stephen and Jason forged ahead and I brought up the rear. We regrouped at the foot of the North Rim, it's a 6000ft. climb in 6+ miles to the top. At the foot of the rim there is a home there, story says that the guy who lives there is an artist and was granted permission to live there provided he did maintenance on the water pipes. Even if the pipes were compromised, Bright Angel Creek running nearby provided clear fast moving water. Something a few water treatment tablets can make safe for consumption. I even have the Vitamin C tablets that kill the medicine taste of the Iodine. I drank lots and ate lots but I decided to fill only one of the two water bottles in my pack, that would turn out to be a mistake. This time JP and Stephen forged ahead, running up the switchbacks. Crazy guys I was worried that they might over extend themselves too early. We still had to make it back you know. Again I brought up the rear. I was already pooped at this point. I hadn't fully recovered from a couple races I had done two months earlier. I was walking more than I was running on the way up. Eventually I caught up with Jason. He wasn't doing very well. He was tapped and wanted to save what he had left for the return trip to the South Rim. Well I stayed with him for the next thousand feet, walking and running with him, encouraging him to keep going. I was hoping that maybe it was just a funk that he could eventually work through. We even stashed his backpack in some bushes at a switchback to lighten his load. He did hold on to one of his water bottles and a gel. We got to about 6500+ feet before he finally called it. Not wanting to push him further I let him go and forged ahead. He's an experienced endurance athlete and only he knows his body. If he really feels that he can't go on I'm not going to argue with him, especially here in the Grand Canyon where there are no "drop" options. This upper section of the North Rim is no more technical than the South but here there are large sections where the edge of the trail drops off hundreds of feet. I couldn't judge the distance accurately but it was a long way down, maybe even to the valley floor. "Don't trip, don't trip" I kept telling myself. By the time I passed 7500ft I felt the effects of the altitude, my heart was like a drum booming in my chest. Thirty minutes from the top I meet up with JP and Stephen making their way down. They looked great. I told them of Jason's situation and declined their gracious offer to wait for me. By this time Jason was probably already at the foot of the climb, starting the 8 mile journey back to Phantom Ranch. Finally I reached the top. It's hard to tell where the top is on the North Rim. You just keep going and going and going.... At the top there was no water available, damn! A sign informed me that the water had been turned off in preparation for winter. I was completely out of water, I couldn't hydrate or eat. Even the gels I had needed water to wash down. So I quickly turned around and headed down. No wonder those guys were in a hurry to get down themselves. Definitely faster going down, yet not too fast because it was rocky and technical. Tripping would be a bad thing remember. It was 10:45AM by the time I headed back towards the South Rim. I took a bunch of pictures on the way down, with my heart about to beat itself out of my chest the frequent stops did me good and the scenery was gorgeous. Down, down, down, I went, when I heard the waters of the creek I knew I was getting close. Back at the artist's home, I filled up on water and food. Recharged I prepared for the trip to Phantom Ranch.

By this time all three of them were miles away, with Jason leading the way. JP and Stephen wouldn't catch Jason until Phantom Ranch. It was just me at this point. There were sections where it was just me, no other runners or hikers. I felt alone and small in this great canyon. It moved me to pray and meditate, as much as I could while running. I did stop a few times just to express my gratitude for my life and this experience. From here the South Rim looked so far. Unlike the North Rim this section of the South Rim is like a giant wall, stretching left to right, gray and distant. It looked so far! Nevertheless I managed to keep chugging along. In fact I was feeling good and moving quite well. Bright Angel Canyon looked better in the light and as I got closer to Phantom Ranch I started to encounter more and more hikers. So something about hikers, some of them don't like runners. Some of them are hostile to runners. Unlike Stephen I actually did not have a run in with any of them but I felt the unwelcome vibe. Something about us ruining their peace and us taking for granted the view because we are moving too fast....blah, blah, blah. I run, I hike, they're both good. By the time I got to Phantom Ranch they were already gone, missed them by an hour. So I filled up my bottles again, took in more food and water. The final leg was daunting, 6+ miles and 5000ft of climbing back to the top of South Rim. It was a little after 2PM when I finally left and I was really, really pooped at this point.

From here it was all new to me visually, we missed all this running in the dark. The bridge was awesome and that's one big green river. There was even a small beach near the foot of the bridge. Snap, snap, snap, more photographs and I was off. I was feeling pretty done at this point. I had a deep down fatigue that was getting worse. Ah but this is the Grand Canyon, there's no dropping out at an aid station. I was tired enought to keep hallucinating seeing the guys waiting for me at some switch back or trail section. It would turn out to be rocks or trees. Anyway as I mentioned earlier, the South Rim is like one big wall and as I was climbing I kept thinking "how are you going to get up there?". Had I not come down this very trail this morning I would have doubted that the trail really did take us to the top. Up and up, sometimes running, mostly hiking and the sun was going down, lower and lower and lower. We started so early because we wanted to finish while there was still light out, this would be true for the other guys but not for me. I was losing the race against the dimming light. 3 miles to the top I got really hungry and had myself a little picnic on the side of the trail. Oooff, it was tough to get going again but I felt a lot better. The bottom part of the canyon was now getting dark with the top crowned with golden light. It was at this point that I used up all my water. I did save 2 ounces for a good gulp but nothing more than that. Note to self, going up takes more water. It wasn't even that hot, in fact the temperatures all day was moderate. I could see how someone could dehyrate trying to get out of this canyon in the summer. Anyway this was all running/hiking by instruments now. I couldn't see how much more I had to go but the altimeter on my watch told me exactly how much altitude was left and along with my chronometer I knew how many more miles I needed to go. I was traveling a mile per half hour at that point. I didn't care how far or how near things looked I just trusted my watch and it's readings.

About a half mile from the top I encountered a couple who were in trouble. The guy was fine but his girlfriend was hurting. She was complaining of achy legs and was very thirsty. She was complaining to her boyfriend who didn't seem to do much, in fact he didn't seem helpful at all. He was reluctant to talk or ask for help and he seemed embarrassed for his girlfriend. I gave her half of the 2 ounces of water I had left and continued on. 10 minutes out I realized that they didn't have a light. It was getting pretty dark now and as I pulled out my light, I left them my back up light lit on the side of a trail. I still had no idea how far we were to the top but the thought of them feeling their way in the dark worried me. At the top the guys were in the van waiting for me in the parking lot. Nice! No cars are allowed there but there they were. I informed them of the situation and came back down the trail with water. I gave her the water, gel and the good news that they were not too far from the top.

Turns out they originally planned for a short hike. They had a sensible plan, hike down 3.5 miles, then hike back up. They started at 10AM and brought 8-12ounce water bottles with them. Their problems started when once they got down to the 3.5 mile mark they continued down to the bridge. They made it down there easy enough since it's a downhill walk but was not prepared for the trip up. Worse they made it to the bridge but didn't continue further to Phantom Ranch where they could have bought more water and food. In canyons the way down is always easy, it seduces you with an easy decent and you only realize your mistake when it's time to go back up, by then it's too late. Well that's what happened to these guys. The woman also admitted that her longest hike in preparation for this trip was only 5 or 6 miles. I'm willing to bet none of those included a continous 6 mile uphill. Well they were fine once they got back to the top and we also ended up giving them a ride back to their lodge since they also missed the shuttle bus.

Back at the hotel, we quickly cleaned up and headed out for dinner. Dinner place was the same as Friday night's, a pizza and pasta joint. I had the same thing I had the night before, spaghetti and meatballs but this time it was chased down with a 22 ounce mug of beer. Sleep was a lot better until my phone woke me up at 2AM, I forgot to turn the danged alarm off. Again can I just say how great it was that JP wore earplugs. Not a stir on his side of the room.

The next day, still glowing from our adventure, we had ourselves a good breakfast at the El Tovar lodge, fancy place on the South Rim. After a filling and delicious breakfast we found our way to the bookstore where I bought a book and Stephen got his wife some jewelry. We were definitely moving a little slower, a little stiffer but happy. From the Grand Canyon we made our way to Flagstaff. Hung out there for a bit, visited some shops and had some coffee, even some people watching. A quick dinner at Phoenix then it was on to the airport for our trip back to San Francisco. What a great adventure!

Things Learned:
Water treatment pills are no use when there is no water available to treat. Like the top of the North Rim.
Elevation changes are much harder when they come in huge chunks.
You need more water at the end of a run than at the beginning.
You can't fear what you are oblivious to so read and learn, do some research. Fear in a place like the Grand Canyon is a healthy thing.
If you tape your foot to protect from blisters you will get blisters on the untaped part.
Going downhill is always better but sometimes not by much

Monday, December 12, 2005

Asian Art Museum

AsianArtThe Poster and Artwork is from the Asian Art Museum website.
And that's my friend Ann and I in front of the museum.

I love museums I just don't go enough. I prefer a 4-6 hour chunk of time for museum visits which means that it rarely happens. Who has 4-6 hours on a weekend? Yes I know it's all about priorities. Anyway I did get a chance to visit the Asian Art Museum this weekend with friends from my "Run Relay/Yosemite" group. With only 3 hours it was a bit rushed but wow! Some really nice stuff. Next up the new De Young Museum. I've walked around the exterior but I've been itching to go in. God Bless the off-season.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Out of Hibernation: A Run Report

So I broke my "No Exercise" in December rule, I went for a run with the guys I ran the Grand Canyon with back in August. Only one missing was Jason, something big came up which hopefully was nothing too crazy. Originally planned in November as 40-mile adventure from the Golden Gate Bridge to Point Reyes National Park it was toned down to a 2+ hour run followed by coffee and food. A much more sensible plan for the holidays.

It turned out to be a crazy, beautiful, sunny day. Leaving the city at 7AM we drove to Point Reyes. Our route started from the Bear Valley traihead which took us up and over the hills toward the ocean, continuing to the ridge that traveled above the shoreline which led us down eventually to a fire road that ran parallel to the shore, then back up the hills to Bear Valley. The start was chilly! 37 F /2.7 C. There was no wind but a low lying mist of fog. Deer was everywhere when we started, grazing, chillin'. We even saw a "white" deer which I was told by JP is not native to California. The start was a little too fast for me, did my best to keep up with JP and Stephen. It was my first run since the Quad Dipsea race two weeks ago. Since then I've been doing nothing, I don't even allow myself the quick jogs to the store or the post office. Ugh...sluggish, heavy, sore... After 20 minutes of this I had to let them go. I couldn't keep up and seriously thought of shortening my run so these guys can go off on their own. However by the 35th minute the funk lifted and I felt a lot better, the slower pace brought me back. Soon I was running strong and I continued to press towards the beach behind the two. In the valley and tree covered hills it was cold but out on the ridge it was quite warm. There were no trees on the ridge which gave us an amazing view of the Point Reyes shoreline. Just so amazingly beautiful - a cloudless sunny sky and no wind. Too bad I didn't pack the camera:( Here the trail went from soft, root and leaf covered to dry and rocky - a nice change. From the ridge we made our way down to the fireroad and continued on that for what seemed like 4 miles before starting the ascent back towards the tree covered hills and back to the Bear Valley Trailhead. My watch read "2:49" by the time I made it back, a little longer than I had planned but well worth the effort. The guys were gracious enough to wait for me at different sections of the run, especially at trail forks and intersections. They were out there longer than they wanted so it was definitely and act of grace and camaraderie on their part. When we started at 8AM there was hardly anyone there, now the parking lot was filled with people. The mist that hung in the valley was now gone and it was warmer. On the way home we stopped at the Bovine Bakery for some coffee and muffins. Sat on a sun drenched wooden bench, ate, drank and people watched. A lot of cyclists were also out, good to see.

Sometimes the good weather of the North Bay stops at the Golden Gate Bridge but not this weekend, sunshine and clear skies continued South to San Francisco. We arrived to a city in full swing under this beautiful weather. In fact shortly after I'm done here I am going to take a shower, get dressed, and head back out to Fillmore street for some Christmas shopping. Who wants to be stuck in a mall on a gorgeous day like this. A little urban hiking seems to be in order and this time I'll take my camera... speaking of gadgets, where is that iPod? Maybe some decaf as I cruise the streets? Now we're talking!

Back to Hibernation.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Holiday Ice Skating

IceSkatingFriends Ice Skating / Hanging out

What's an american christmas holiday without ice skating huh? So there we were last night on the Embarcadero, in front of the new and redesigned Ferry building, ice skating away. It was a church community related event with friends from the other churches joining us. It was also a toy drive, folks either made a monetary contribution or brought toys. It was nice. A beautiful night, no rain and we had our own little tent with coffee and food. Originally I thought I wasn't going to skate but I started to feel scroogish and forked up the bucks for skate rental. It's not that I can't skate I just hate small rinks with skates with dull blades.. .blah blah blah, get in the x'mas spirit Ricky. Well I actually had fun, just like riding a bike.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Crazy Weekend

So after a couple of quiet weekends I have a monster one coming up. In San Francisco, the first half of December is always more hectic than the last. My theory is that by the second half most San Franciscans are all doing their last minute shopping and taking off to their respective home states or vacation destinations Most people from San Francisco are not from here. Case in point I have one event in the schedule fo the weekend of the 17th but this weekend the 11th I've got 10. I'll only make 8 of those if I'm lucky. Let the craziness begin! I'll let you guys know how I do. Damn, should've done the x'mas shopping last weekend. Could've / Should've.

Filipino Podcast

So I work at home. I get up, I hit the coffee machine then it's off to my computers. I love it however it does get a little lonely working alone all day and to combat this I make sure there is sound in the rooms at all times. I've got my music, the news and old sitcoms on TV and podcasts. Today I found a Filipino podcast station, nice. I really miss the place, family and friends - it's a holiday thing. I try to go back every other Christmas. I grew up there, have tons of family and just really enjoy myself every time I go back. Anyway the podcast is a collection of different podcasts from various authors. There's an entry from Jessica Zafra, she's a Filipino writer, witty and humorous. My uncle gave me one of her books the last time I was there. Really enjoyed the book, reads like a blog.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Good Day for Running

Without actually running. Today I got my official Western States 100-Mile Race acceptance and informational booklet. Nice. I don't know why I'm so excited, I guess it's cause I've been trying to get in and finally did. It's the biggest race for american ultra-marathoners, a nice big race party. Then at the end of the day UPS delivered two pairs of my favorite trail shoes. They were on sale so I figured I'd pick up two pairs for next year. One to train on and one to race with. Yeah, a good day. In the meantime I think I just gained another pound. Damn my good apettite.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Flashback Curry

I was just making some curry a moment ago. Mmmmm...lots of vegetables and some pork - looks good! And while I was stirring it all up I remembered that during my first year here I used to make the same curry mix but only with potatoes. I couldn't afford meat or any other vegetables to throw in. I would also add too much water to make the mix go longer and added salt to season. Ahahaha, my first year in San Francisco and at the Academy of Art. I lost so much weight I looked good. My roomate Juan from Columbia was in the same position. What little we had went to our schooling; classes, supplies, yada, yada, yada. We got help from our families but just enough for the important stuff. I wasn't working then and neither was Juan. We were cramped together in a small studio where we constantly worked all night in our drafting tables which were at the foot of our beds facing the bay window and the street. We constantly talked about girls and food, none of the former and a meager supply of the latter. There was a nice girl that I met my first day in school, we became fast friends and I asked her out eventually, unfortunately she didn't feel the same way. Hey wait a minute, that's still happening! Crap! Ahahaha... Our sound system was Juan's personal cd player with two tiny speakers connected. We had like 10 cd's between the two of us and one of them was Kenny G. Okay I'll come clean, it was mines:( Things looked up towards the end of that semester though when my friend Kevin sent me his old handheld b/w tv with a 3.5" screen. That was the best. We cleared out my drafting table, hooked up the cd speakers to it, turned off the lights, prepared some Ramen and watched TV. It was magical, Star Trek the New Generation was on. I remember that I also got mugged a block from the dorm but it was totally my fault. We were out past 3AM and we lived on the edge of the Tenderloin. My friend Curtis in the other dorm had a craving for Lori's Diner (they were open 24h those days) and he was willing to treat. On the way back we split at the distance that was halfway between our two dorms and I got mugged on the way back to mine's. It took a couple of months to get over that one, until I did Curtiss would escort me in the evenings. Curtis was a skinny 18 year old and weighed like 115 pounds. I could beat up Curtis. However he did have that crazy look and watchout if he's carrying his t-square. Fall of 1993, bittersweet times. I hated San Francisco but loved my new school.

Now here I am, going on 12+ years in San Francisco, the longest I've ever lived in one place and I have no plans on moving any time soon. I love it here. I made it through that damn school but still spend many nights by a window working away.
Maybe I'll fire up iTunes and put on some Kenny G. Ahahaha heck no, I'll put on the Breeder's Cannonball from their Last Splash album. The first music I bought in SF and was recorded in the Tenderloin.

All this from a pot of curry.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Western States 100-Miler

4 years ago when I decided to give ultra-marathoning a go, I was aiming for the Western States 100-Miler. It's the oldest and most popular of the nation's 100 mile races. I gave myself 3 years to do it. Well here we are, I'm heading into my 5th year in the sport, I've run over a dozen ultra-marathons including a couple of 100 milers and I still have yet to run this race. The problem is in the race's popularity. There are only 349 slots and too many runners want to do it. So like the New York Marathon they instituted a lottery system, the only ones exempt are the pro's and the fast amateurs. Not being either I've been entering the lottery. The last two years my name has failed to come up but according to the rules if I qualified and applied for the third time my entry would be automatic. Almost didn't happen. I forgot to mail in the application and remembered it the night before the deadline. I was ready to drive to Sacramento to the race directors home to make sure it got in on time, fortunately I didn't have to.

Today was the lottery and even though I knew my entry was automatic it was still awesome to see my name on the list of entrants.

Here's to the new year.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Quad Dipsea yet Again!: A Race Report

My third Quad Dipsea, a 28 mile / 44.8k trail running race. I love this event. It's on Thanksgiving weekend, officially signals the end of my season, a great opportunity to meet other runners, get reacquainted with old friends, a beautiful yet brutal course and free food and drinks at the finish. And because it's 4 times across the course, you get to see everyone - from the lead runner to the last multiple times. The Dipsea trail is about 7 miles / 11.2k and very hilly, Quad runners cross it 4 times. As always by the time this race comes around I'm heavier, hardly training and looking forward to the "off-season", which starts promptly after I cross the finish line. Actually it's less of a race and more of a social fun run for me.

Well like last year I didn't have a ride to the race. I forgot what happened last year but this year I came late to the car rental place the day before. No car, no ride. My back up plans fell through as well so at 6AM Saturday morning I was on a street corner waiting for a bus which ended up dropping me off 4.5 miles / 7.2k from where I needed to be. So I ran, maybe not the smartest thing to do but I didn't have much time.

The first year I did this I came in at 5:40 the next year I came in at 5:45 but it had rained the night and morning before, so I was definitely faster the second year. The Dipsea course is gnarly enough in good weather, add in puddles, mud, slippery roots and rocks and it's a killer. Both years I also started in the back. This year I thought I could improve my time by starting closer to the front. The first crossing, the first 7miles, went well but I went faster than I wanted. Second crossing went even better but on the start of the third crossing, a mile into it, I hit a wall. I felt sluggish and I was hungry. Huh...hungry? I've been drinking and eating, how's that possible and only 3 hours into a race? I ate more, drank more and took in some salt as well. I'm a veteran of 100 mile ultras and here I am bonking at mile 15 of a 28 mile race. What the F?. By the time I got to Stinson beach, the end of the third leg, I had recovered a bit but not by much, plus my legs already felt trashed. Right knee was acting up and overall I felt like crap. On the last and final leg back to Mill Valley I hit another low and stayed there. My legs hurt so much I couldn't run down the technical downhills and I LOVE running technical downhills. I think I had what they called "blown-out" quads. It hurt to run downhill, especially the rooty, rocky parts. The final set of 700+ stairs back to Mill Valley and the finish was agony. I had to walk ,gingerly, the quads just wouldn't have any of it. I prayed on that final crossing. My final time was 6:12. That was pretty bad but not as bad as I felt physically.

Nevertheless I fully enjoyed myself. The weather was awesome and the views amazing. The volunteers were great as always and there were lots of people on hand to cheer us on. The other runners were great and there were even several cute girls running the race. Awesome, awesome weather. My friend J.P. Sulpizio had an amazing race. This was his first ever official ultra-marathon and he came in 7th at 4:36:57. I chowed on the free food afterwards; a hotdog, soup and soda. Got my free shirt and schwag. Met a couple of cool folks, Chikara Omine and Hector. Chikara is a fast runner, came in 8th and Hector was waiting for his sister and brother who were still out on the course. Also got to catch up with Brian who I met at this race 3 years earlier. He had a bad day, he was on his way to a personal best, passing me in the process when an old injury flared up. Anyway Brian had just finished his first 100 mile ultra back in September and he and his wife is expecting their second child. Nice. I ended up getting a ride back to the city with Chikara. Legs stiffened up badly on the way to the car..bad sign.

Back at the apartment I filled the bathtub with freezing cold water and sat in it. Heck I was already in pain anyway, what's another 20 more minutes of it. Besides the cold was going to make everything better in the long run. Damn I felt like shit, not even after the Cascade Crest 100-Miler back in August did I feel this bad and that was a tough race. That was the worst performance yet but I finished, I survived and I enjoyed myself. I've never not finished a race I started but had this race been longer it would have been the first. Next year...will better, hopefully.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Woke up tired yet again this morning. It didn't help that I went to bed at 2AM but it was especially hard getting up this morning. This is one of those mornings that I'm glad I work from home. From my bed to the kitchen to make coffee to my desk = 5 minutes. The best part is that I don't even have to get dressed. Had to unplug the camera though, now and then I get friends who want to do video chat in the morning. I do care that I look like shit in the morning and there's no need to share that with others.

Anyway the off-season could not come any quicker, my body is so tired and worn out from a year of Triathlon and Ultra-Marathon. This past weekend I did my last event, the Quad Dipsea(4 crossings of the the infamous Dipsea course in Marin, CA) and it pummeled me to a pulp. I should write a race report on, it will be my first one if I do. I'm still hurting from that one and the real reason why I've been waking up so tired. Shoulders are just sore as heck too. I'd pay for a massage but I just bought a bunch of stuff; two pairs of my favorite trail running shoes in preparation for next year:) Hey they were on sale!, some wine, new wine glasses, chocolate, cheese and a ton of other yummy fattening food. Bring on the rain, I ain't gonna be out there anyway. Off-season is the time when I don't work out, gain weight and enjoy life away from the sports that I love. Well except for swimming, I have no love for swimming....well maybe a little.

Monday, November 28, 2005

It's that time again...

Time to start a new journal. After a year off it's nice to start again, new format too. Let's check out this blogging thing. Seems like a great and efficient way to update a whole bunch of people. Well here goes!