Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

"Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tails - That's what boys are made of". This was the note I got back from my friend Kate this afternoon at church. Makes you wonder what I said in the first place. Yes there was a bit of grade school happening on Pew 8 this afternoon. I've been somewhat of a curmedgeon this holiday season and I thought I'd spread some of that love afternoon. Thank God for good friends though. I left church in a much better mood and plans for the evening. You see I had decided beforehand to spend a quiet evening in for New Year's Eve; some food, a good movie, the windows wide open and a warm blanket. Then just before midnight I was going to go for a walk towards the wharf to see the fireworks. I stayed the course for a good 20mins. I talked my way out of two invitations for New Years Eve festivities but eventually I caved. That's really the secret you know...if you want me to do something/to be part of something you just keep sending people to ask me till I say yes. How do you think my teammates convinced me to run for this year's Tri-Club Board as Run Director. So anyway I am now on my way to the Elk's Club for a few pints and hopefully some good conversation to welcome the New Year. The great thing is that it's only 2.5 blocks from my apartment. I promise to misbehave politely and safely...ha, actually I can't be out too late. I've got a run and a bay swim tomorrow to welcome the new year. Wasn't my idea but more than happy to join that group. The water is so cold this time of the year but nothing the body can't acclimate to with the help of a wetsuit. Well it's about that time...I hope you all have a great and safe New Year's Eve. See you in the next year.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Timeline on the Subway Wall

Ad's on the subway.

I've never been married but I have been a couch potato, a deep dish pizza restaurant waiter and patron, a disciple of the work hard party hard mentality, a tequila shooting/12 pints of beer drinker (usually followed by a heart clogging meal at Denny's), an Indian food buffet enthusiast...wait I still am. All types of buffets, I'm an equal opportunity kind of guy... so you get what I mean. I've never been really heavy but I've broken 170 pounds - I'm 5'-4". My mother used to show me pictures of myself in high school to try and shame me into losing weight.

Then in 98 I returned to my faith in Christ after a 14 year hiatus, took it more seriously a year later and decided to take care of my body in conjuction with everything else. I joined a 24hr fitness, stepped into the stair master, got a trainer to show me how to use the treadmill and the rest is history. I still remember the night I eschewed the treadmill for a night run along the Embarcadero. I absolutely loved it. My third or fourth time out I celebrated because I broke 35 minutes. I was out running for something like 37 minutes, a personal record at the time. Man, I felt like a million bucks then. I kept getting injured but I kept coming back. Everytime I was on injury timeout I would raid the shelves of Borders for all their running books, buying a couple of them. I wanted to know what went wrong and how to avoid it for next time. One time I was out for 4 weeks because of Achilles Tendonitis. By the time I returned to running I had read one of Jeff Galloway's books cover to cover, some chapters several times. Then there was that time I was running drunk along the Embarcadero at 9PM, I had to pee so bad but didn't want to do it in the bushes (this was pre-trail).I still had one foot in the old life and one in the new. I was out with my drinking buddy who was not happy with my new found Faith and life in running. To appease him I formulated a plan where I was going to go happy hour drinking with him then run afterwards. Bright plan right. Eventually I had to choose. I lost the friendship, then regained it a couple years later. History, always bittersweet.

This year, Spring and Summer, I felt I was at my strongest and fastest ever. In February my whole training plan changes with Olga's help, we didn't even know each other then just the occasionally blog comments...(this is why I like this person). The changes make a world of difference. Also, free from my obligations with the Presidio YMCA, I was able to throw myself full time into my triathlon club. I signed up for Track and Spin classes. I attended the Sunday Trail Runs and occasionally the Sunday Open Water swim sessions. The Spin classes was key to beating the 104 degree heat at Western States this year, too bad the new studio is cooler and better ventilated...too bad. 2007 could be even better. The future, always with hope for better and great things.

Am I suprised it has gone this far, with all the triathlons and ultras, clubs and organizations? Everytime I stop and think about it...which is often.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bring on the New Year


So here are my events. Some of these are not final. I'll probably drop/add races as the season progresses.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Belle

Christmas Belle
Iya, my cousin's adorable 2.5yr old daughter. She's lives in Manila but I might see her in May if they visit. She's pretty darn cool! Photo courtesy of Paul(dad).

There was never a time that I didn't like children, even when I was a child I loved children. Christmas is a great time because family and friends send pictures of their kids. Spending time with kids restores my faith in people and life in general. If you see me ignoring people at church and spending too much time chasing the kids around you know it's been a hard week:)

As an athlete I see energy, almost inexhaustible, spontaneous energy. I train for and run 100-milers, I'm triathlete to boot and they still wear me out. Everytime I visit my friend Rozanne and her kids I'm always knocked out on the train ride home. This is why I have much respect for Olga, Rob, Donald, Sarah and other folks like them who have children and still manage to train and run the races they do. As a graphic designer I see raw, spontaneous, creative power. They dance, draw, sculpt, act, make believe, construct, paint, sing...have I missed anything? With them there are no "boxes", everything is fair game. As a Christian I see innocence, how we once were before...hmm...before life took over. When we had short memories and trusted easily. When we were easily pleased. When fairytales were happy stories and when we actually believed there was a guy in a red suit giving gifts on Christmas day. When I believed I could be anyone I wanted to be.

Hope the holidays is going well for everyone. It can be so crazy I know.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I'm Back...

Today was a bizarre and miserable day. It started at 3AM when I got a message that something bad happened to one of my favorite people. That was the most nerve wracking thing. I can't divulge details but before your your imagination goes crazy, it wasn't bad, bad but it was bad and could have been much worse. I was going nuts. I had all these emotions and there was nothing I could do to help the person.

The first thing I did was pray and somewhere in there I got the message to run. Instead of silently going crazy under the sheets I decided to take it outside. I hadn't done jack for the last 20 days but it didn't matter. I threw some layers on, stuck some energy gels in my pockets and carried a single 20 oz. bottle of water. I was out the door running by 4:30AM. Being able to do something, anything was a relief.

The original plan was to keep it short but once I got started I just ran, ran and ran some was amazingly cathartic. My legs felt great from the extended rest but my heart was going crazy. My heart rate monitor was registering numbers I had never ever seen, in racing or training. I kept going until my legs started to hurt which was at mile 11 and being only 2 miles from 13, I pushed on. It started to catch up to me then, the best part was that 13 miles was only the turnaround point, I still had to get home from there. It started to get light on the return trip which was nice on the trail sections because I didn't bring a light. Running the trails in the dark the first time was tricky enough. I didn't say I was smart. But again I didn't care.

If the first half was run on emotions, the second was run on guts and plain ol stubbornnes. My legs were screaming bloody murder! I had to throw in walk breaks. The last 1.5 mile to my apartment was a walk. I showered, drank a glass of water and promptly slipped back under the sheets around 9:30AM. I only slept for a mere hour but woke up feeling fine. There was a moment when I thought I had dreamt the whole thing...that was until I moved my legs.

So I'm back on. The 07 season starts today. Can't very well take back what I did right. I didn't break anything but I'm sure I'll pay for this run somehow. Probably going to be sluggish in my runs until my body recovers. Put me down for 26 miles/4.5 hours.

I hope my friend's gonna be okay.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Mt. Tamalpais

Ivorjawa Moonlight Image
Photo courtesy of Ivorjawa.

Last night I was at a friend's place watching the Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life", I had never seen it. On one of my trips to the kitchen I just happened to look out the window and saw the city, looking East towards downtown where I lived. It was beautiful. The rain had stopped, there was very little fog and it was least in this part of town.

It reminded me instantly of Jan's photograph, I had meant to share it last week. I like this image because it shows Mt. Tamalpais in the distance. I love that mountain. It's not very high but you will have to run many hills before you can summit. The Quad Dipsea Ultra is run there among other races, a short 28-mile course that boasts 9000+ feet of quad breaking, hamstring cramping climbs in a mountain that only tops around 2,500. I love it. Reminds me of a great girl, beautiful to behold but........hmmm what's the words...complex and deep within. You pay for every mile and it's not for the unprepared. If you have the strength, endurance and perseverance well you might just have a great time. You just can't ever lose respect. The same trails changes with the season, they change as you change. Ah but what I'm I talking about? Don't listen to me...I've been single for a very long time and date very little...I know nothing about women.

Speaking of which, she's never beaten me. Not yet anyway! I've crawled out of there several times looking pretty bad but never beaten. It helps not having a car, when there is no option but your own two feet you make do:) No worries I do carry money in case of emergencies as well as extra clothing. I ran my best race on those hills this year, the Miwok 100k, with the help of my friends Jason, Olga, Stephen and Georgia. A sweet time. Last year when my training plan hinged on super long runs every 3-4 weeks, I would travel from my apartment to the top of that mountain and back. It's a 50-60 mile trip depending on the trails you take. Then there was that day I did a roundtrip plus a detour to Stinson Beach so I could get some food and an espresso. At the top, on a clear day, you can look East and see Mt. Diablo. That mountain is about 1000 ft. higher and a favorite with the East Bay trail runners. It's fun to go there in the Spring and Summer months to test out your heat training.

This year I made it the top once and it was on my bike, a 60-mile taper ride for WS. My new training plan focused on shorter long runs but with more frequency and intensity. Much, much better but I miss the view from the top. Maybe next year, a special solo trip for old times.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas Fun

Hippo the Christmas Ornament. Click here for more images.

So there I was, corporate in-the-box graphic designer and there she was out-of-the-box spontaneous dynamic creative. In between us an array of tools and random craft and art supplies. The Dremmel drill was plugged in, the glue gun was hot and ready. The challenge was to come up with random, ugly, tacky yet funny christmas ornaments. This all got started last Tuesday when Sharona took a trip to her favorite neighborhood and saw this at a Christmas shop; Elephant on base with wheels, clutching candy cane with a Christmas tree on top. So horribly tacky that it's lovely. Sharona you see has a weak spot for these type of x'mas ornaments. But not wanting to part with her $25, I suggested that we should just create our own. So this past Saturday, after a quick stop at the bargain toy section at Ross and the school supplies section of Rite Aid, we set to work.

So check them out. If you leave a comment please let me know which one(s) you liked. I did not, did not mean for the Panda to look like it was getting busy with the dolphin. I meant for the Panda to RIDE the dolphin like people do in Marine shows...but no one believes me. Enjoy.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Per BayCityWalker's request, a pic of said certificate.

That just made my Sunday, something worth calling out since this can be easily missed. So on the last post I was discussing my "Certificate of Appreciation" for running Western States, how I thought it was over the top but how it would make a perfect gift for mom. This morning I get this post to my blog:

Congrats! Your lola (grandmother) would love that...why not send it to her in a frame for X'Mas...

So Ma are you really saying you don't want a nicely framed slightly creased "certificate of appreciation" signed by a genuwhine US Senator? What if I threw in some trail running pictures of me? No? You're holding out for the chocolate fondue maker aren't you?

I found out just this year that my mom used to trail run, run races and volunteer. I didn't always live with my mom when I was growing up...a lot has been missed. My stepdad, who was in the U.S. Navy at the time serving in Taiwan, came over one time with his buddies to run one the races my mom's club sponsored. She was there volunteering but they never met. They met years and years later at a bar in Honolulu. They hit it off, got married and I came to live with them - I was 12. So a little more information than necessary but funny how it's still running related...for the most part.

I wish you all a good Sunday. I've refused to take part in the mass consumerism/hysteria that is a hallmark of our holidays so now I'm behind....trying to make the cutoffs! So I have to take part a little bit because there are some people I care deeply about, people that I would give gifts to regardless whether it was Christmas or not but especially on Christmas.

Friday, December 08, 2006


So I got two pieces of mail related to the Western States 100-mile run today. First was my rejection letter and my check back, I knew that was coming. The other was a "Certificate of Appreciation", this was the surprise. It's all official looking with the gold seal of the United States Senate and everything. At the bottom it was signed in blue marker by Barbara Boxer, United States Senator. Do senators really sign stuff like this or do they have one of their aides do it? Basically it says; Presented to Rick Gaston, 33rd Annual Western States Endurance Run, in recognition of your outstanding accomplishments, signed and dated. Kind of crazy. Olga do you always get one of these when you finish WS? Kind of makes me laugh. Yeah 100's are hard events and yes it's the most famous one of them all, the grand daddy...but a certificate signed by my Senator for finishing? Really?

Anyway it was mailed unprotected on a white envelope and so one side of it is all creased and messed up. You know who would love this?, my mother..."look what they gave me Ma!". I'm not sure why it took 6 months. Well they should also give these out to the Race Directors, of any distance ultra. Hmm...maybe they do already.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Back On!

Nope still not running but volunteering. Yeah I know, again. I did question the wisdom of being up early Saturday in what could be rainy cold weather especially since I'm still fighting this head cold but I was drawn by the promise of compensation; entries to a future race, some cash maybe, I think there was even a mention of an iShuffle. Well mostly I just wanted to be out and the guy putting on the race is part of the ultra community here. He broke his ankle in some "incident". This will be fun, I do a lot of runs in the area where they are having the race. So some schwag+local race+help out a local, it's good situation.

I Have Great Drop Bags

A nice girl just complimented me on my ability to think ahead. I can't wait to tell her all about drop bags, individually prepared servings of Carbo Pro and blister kits. I the only one who thinks that's cool? Ha...on second thought that might scare her off.

Maybe I'll just show her my shoe collection..."these are for long days when I have to run miles of asphalt besides trail and these are for racing on muddy, technical surfaces and these are for......"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Twiddling my Thumbs

It's amazing how I've got so little to say when I'm not running:) Actually I've been a little sick. A little because it's more of a minor inconvenience than a major pain. Perfect timing though, I get sick when I'm not training...perfect. I was healthy for pretty much the whole year until this episode which started Sunday. I think someone licked my coffee cup while I wasn't looking.

Anyway I'm already getting the itch to run especially now that I have this head cold. Nothing makes me feel better and clears me up faster than a nice run, something about the fresh air and exertion. I haven't worked out in 10 days and I plan on going another 10-12 days before I slowly turn the lights back on. I plan to start with short bike rides and weights on the 17th, then take my first run on Christmas day. The way things are going now though, I may start running sooner than that. It's seems kind of nutty how strongly I feel about total rest but I swear by it. I got big plans for the next year so I want to get my rest in now. It's not just about the physical, it's also the mental. I'm loving the break from all the planning and scheduling that goes into training. I like not thinking about all that stuff for awhile.

So far so good, no bad weather so far. We need it though, we need water afterall. Our streets could use some washing as well.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Running Art

BigHorn 100-Miler Poster
I was inspired after my trip to the MOMA today. I realize it's difficult reading vertical copy but so is running this race. I was trying to communicate visually that this race has a lot of elevation. Click here for the high-res copy. The type is actually readable, actually this isn't too bad.

Well I didn't get in to Western States this year. Kind of a bummer because it's a great party and an amazing experience but I already had a back up race planned - Bighorn 100miler in Sheridan, Wyoming. The great thing about this race is that there are multiple distances, besides the 100m they have a 30k, 50k and a 50 miler. My rematch with the WS trail will have to wait at least another year.

I spent the afternoon with my good friend Jason Arth at the MOMA and I suggested that he should come out and run the 50-miler. Our friend Stephen Goldmann might come and join us as well since he didn't get in either. It will be a bit tricky since he and his wife Amy are expecting their first child in May. We'll see, it'd be great to get some folks together for the trip and take advantage of the multiple distances.

The trip to the museum was an inspiring one. Soon as I got home I spent the next two hours crafting this poster. Not a lot of thinking, made it up as I went along. A great exercise. Before I left the apartment I already knew that I hadn't got in to WS (thanks Olga), so I spent part of the day already thinking about Bighorn.

Here's some info on the race taken from the event website.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
The 5th annual Bighorn Trail 100 Mile Run is an arduous trail run that will take place in the Little Bighorn – Tongue River areas of the Bighorn National Forest. Starting time for the event will be 11 AM, Friday June 15, 2007, with a 34 hour (average pace of 2.94 mph) time limit to finish the event. Runners must be prepared for potential extreme temperature variation and weather conditions during the event with possible temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the day in the canyons and being well below freezing at night in the mountains. The course is wild and scenic traversing territory inhabited by elk, deer, moose, bears, cougars, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes with the potential for wildlife encounters with runners. Crew access points on parts of the course are limited and the runner should be prepared to participate with a fanny pack and other necessary equipment to ensure their ability to safely traverse difficult remote mountainous trails in potentially unpredictable weather conditions. The course is an out-and-back consisting of 76 miles of single track trail, 16 miles of rugged double track jeep trail, and 8 miles of gravel road with approximately 17,500 feet of climb and 18,000 feet of descent.

And something that made me feel secure...
We are fortunate to have Sheridan Search and Rescue participate in our race. They provide difficult to establish communication links on the course which are necessary for the safety of our participants. Sheridan Search and Rescue were of vital assistance in a difficult rescue of a runner from a very remote location in the Little Bighorn Canyon in the middle of the night during the 2002 Bighorn Trail 100. The participant, who was in need of emergency medical attention because of hypothermia and seizures secondary to hyponatremia, fortunately made a full recovery after a several day hospital stay.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Friday, December 01, 2006

Looking Forward

The year's not over and already I've had to register for a couple of races. Well one of them, Western States is by lottery so I won't even know until later today if I got in. The other is the long course for Wildflower Weekend. Long course is another way of saying "Half-Ironman". With the registration for this race comes the finality of me not racing Miwok 100k this year. Sad in a way. I've raced it the last 3 years. This year's race was special though, so special I would like some time before trying it again. I ran for a PR of 10:47. I had Olga's 2005 run splits to guide me, Georgia to chase me up and down the hills and my friend Stephen Goldmann pacing me for the last 20 miles. Too special, I need some time. I'll be back but at least for 2007 I will be replacing the Miwok 100k with two races, the afore mentioned Wildflower Half and the Quicksilver 50-miler which is the weekend after. Back to back races? Whatever, with the proper strategy I can make it work. Thinking of all this stuff makes me want to cut out of "off-season" early...patience...patience grasshopper. All in due time.

Things could be worse, I could be an Ironman athlete and have to make up my mind a year in advance. Ahahaha that's for my Iron distance triathlete friends...hey you know it's true.

Quad Images

Hanging out after the race, feels a bit like a holiday party - ultra style. Click here for more images

Still waking up tired despite a good night's sleep...hehe must have given it 110%. You should have seen me Monday, two days after the race. I had a good case of the DOMS. All that pain is gone now, just waiting for the fatigue to go too. Anyway I've been savoring the memory of it, like a piece of gum chewed over and over again. Still stands as my favorite all time race. I'm aiming for 10 finishes, 4 down and 6 more to go. Next year is the 25th Anniversary, so I'm looking forward to that.

I'm where I wanted to be at the end of this year. Last year I was overtrained by September which made October and November hell. There was no way I was going to cancel out of the Grand Canyon trip in October and double that for the Quad so I just slugged through it. Oh I enjoyed them nevertheless, I just suffered more for it. It took me 15 hours to do the double crossing at the Grand Canyon and my time last year at Quad was 6:30. I blew on the second half of the race last year and was barely walking after the race. Lucky for me a fellow runner gave me a ride home, person I had just met - Chikara Omine. This sport is full of nice people. Because my training has gone well and I'm nowhere near over trained I want to keep going. I know better of course. I'm 6 days into my off-season and I'm actually enjoying it. The hard part is telling people I can't join them for their workouts, just today I got a call to go bike riding on Saturday. I feel like a kid who is forced to take a nap in the middle of the day.

All good things. Enjoy the pictures.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Scott Dunlap's Race Report

Scott not only ran a great race at 5:10:19 but he also wrote a great race report and as usual was filled with great images. Always thinking about his readers.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Race Inside

Another successful Quad race.

Scott Dunlap Race Report
Quad Images

Move! Move that fat as*! Your friends are way ahead. You'd beter start chasing now! It's only the first leg! Right, meaning there is only 21 miles left on this race. I know you can start chasing from at least 26 miles out. You did it at Firetrails 50-miler and at the Stinson 50k two weeks ago. This ain't no regular miles. And this ain't new to you. My calf is not 100% You're not 100%, just lay it on the line. You're what, 10 pounds over race weight, 6 pounds over normal. Nevertheless you have the strength and endurance to go for a PR. Screw the plan, go all out, that's the new plan. Look they are pulling away and I think they're even laughing at you as they go. No one's laughing. I'm laughing. Hey I'm ahead of Georgia this time, that matters. She raced cyclocross last weekend taking 2nd place in her division. I bet she catches you with all this jogging that you're doing. She's amazing. You can be too, if you just move your as* Jogging? I'm 12-15 heartbeats below my max. Then make it 5 below, go hard like the last 2 races. I'm gassing. Straighten out your posture, open up those lungs. I am. Okay camera in 20 yards. Look fresh...suck in that gut...put your tongue back in. Give him the Blue Steel*. I don't think I'll catch those guys today. Loser talk. Downhill. There you go, that's what I'm talking about! yea! yea! yea! what I've been saying all along. Now run this hard for the rest of the race. Whoa she's cute. FOCUS! I am. 2 runners up ahead and you're gaining fast. Take em but be courteous, shout a warning so they know you're passing. Passing on your left! Nice, keep going. The ride will be over soon, uphill just around the corner. Okay I said "gas" not "brake". Rocks or roots which would you prefer I fall on. Of course I'm going to stinkin brake on a technical downhill! Match your speed to your downhill skills. Sprinting and braking is wasting your legs. Like water remember, just like water, flow between or up and over everything. Be fluid, stay on top of your legs, watch the mud and only go as fast as you can handle. Too much braking wastes quads. I've got quads for days. Not on this course, not if you run hard like I'm telling you to. These miles are special. Amen. This loungey electronica stuff you got playing is too soft. Relaxes me. You want cool, calm and collected. You need fire, some Foo Fighters or some Mettallica even. None of that stuff loaded. Two more runners up ahead. Sloping downhill, your favorite, put it in overdrive.What car do you think you're driving?! I've run out of gears a mile ago. You just think that. I'm inside your mind and believe me when I say you've got more. My heart begs to differ. You are not your heart. So look the runners are close. Look at them, like bunnies they are on an open field. Pretend you're a mountain lion about to have them for breakfast. Those are grown men. I'm pretty sure they wouldn't like being called bunnies. They'll never know, besides they're playing the same game. Here we go. Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!, that's what I've been yelling about! Now make sure you stay ahead. I almost slipped on that one. Good catch but you should have warned them you were passing. I'm beyond polite at the moment. Besides I'm a loud runner, I couldn't sneak up on runners even if they were sleeping on the field snoring. They knew I was coming. You know behind that easy going exterior you can be really competitive. Besides had you warned them they would have given you more room. Ha. Reap what you sow. There goes your friends again, on to their 3rd leg. You didn't gain much on them. They are running very well as I thought they would be. You're also heavier than you were in the summer. That's a lot of us today. The game remains the same, spend it all, there's nothing to save. What are you saving the energy for? the bus ride home, the Niner game in your couch tomorrow? Off-season starts today, save nothing for tomorrow. I feel like praying. Go ahead but remember God loves your competition too. Just to say thanks. Say thanks by doing your best. Start line up ahead. So that's one roundtrip done, last half to go. Here's the real race. Aye, exactly. Get ready for the pain. Here we go, what's 14 more miles(eyes rolling).

I did end up going a bit too hard on the first half but not too much. I slowed down a bit on the uphills for the second roundtrip but my downhills felt the same. Finished strong, no cramps, no pain, just exhaustion which was quickly remedied by two sausage dogs, one bean soup and one soda, plus two hours of socializing.

Unofficial time: 5:34
Unofficial PR of about: 10 mins.

*For the Zoolander fans

Friday, November 24, 2006

Turkey Day

Top:Jason (6) and Sarah (8), creating the centerpieces for the tables. Bottom:Raisin and Fudge, Fudge is the rowdy one, obvious in this pic. favorite holiday and it didn't disappoint. Mine was filled with; mouth watering food, good friends, active kids and rolling dogs. It was a great time. I traveled South to visit my friend Rozanne, her husband Brian and their two kids, Sarah and Jason in Sunnyvale (20 minutes from San Jose). From there we traveled another 1.5 hours to Carmel to spend the holiday with their family. I know the whole gang but it's been awhile. I used to visit often but with all the running and triathlon stuff, not to mention work, it's been difficult. I've been slacking with the visits.

I used to work for Rozanne and she was the person that inspired me to run. She was an instructor of mine's at the Art Academy and along with my friend Dennis, would later take us on as interns then later as a part-time design staff. One day we discovered a picture of her and her identical twin sister Suzanne at the Honolulu Marathon. The thought about running a marathon crept into my mind that day but it seened so preposterous at the time that I quickly chased it away, "No, I ain't doing no crazy marathon". It just seemed so crazy back then. However the seed that was planted never went away and four years later when I returned to my faith, running became an important part of my reformed life. Is she surprised that I run ultras now? You betcha.

It really was a great time, my only regret is that I ruined my appetite a little by eating too much of the snacks that were put out. They were good. The kids were non-stop as usual, I knew these guys since they were babies - Sarah I held when she was only 5 days old. Growing like weeds these kids or maybe it just seems that way because I don't seem them often. The dogs were no different, there was 4.5yr old Chocolate Lab that kept jumping on the 8yr. old Black Lab. Now and then the old black one will slap down the brown kid to calm it down but the kid forgets too quickly. Anyway I think I have enough food in me to power me through four Quad Dipseas, hasn't stopped me from eating though. The off season starts as soon as I'm done with the race tomorrow and I'll deal with my diet then. I won't need all the calories during my off season but it is the holidays. I think I'm getting See's chocolate from one of my printers. This is going to be hard. One challenge at a time.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Partying Like it Was 1999

Top:I think the man with the camera has had too much to drink, actually it was just really dark. In between bars at SOMA. Bottom:Waiting in line outside El Farolito in the Mission at 2:30AM. The best burrito place I know in the city and apparently open all night.

It was a very busy week, work has been slow lately but everything else has been crazy. My friend Ange asked me if I wanted to do the slideshow for our Tri-Club's year end party. I jumped on the chance and it ended up being a 20 hour project, one that I was only able to work on at night. I had never done a slideshow but I've always wanted to and it turned out well. Next year I'll take it a step further and use a movie program, thinking of incorporating sound and video clips. It will be new territory.

But from Friday on it was celebrating time. Friday evening was steaks and red wine as we celebrated Stephen Goldmann's birthday and drinks at our Tri-Club's year end party last night. I hardly party nowadays and to do it back to back was exhausting...I don't think I'll make it through the holiday season:) I definitely was moving a lot slower today but I did get to sleep in. Happy Birthday Mr. Goldmann, I didn't even know.

The club party was great, I dare say that we clean up well. As I've said before, the guys look pretty much the same but the ladies with their hair down, dresses and makeup looked amazing. There was less talk about stuff we've done during the year and more excitement about the next. The slideshow was well received despite 1/4 of it was off the screen and the challenge for next year is to get more people to send in pictures. I got an award for "most inspirational" which had mostly to do with my running WS. The attention was flattering and it came with a $50 gift certificate to our favorite local discount sporting goods store. Much appreciated, I could buy a good pair of trail shoes with that - sorely needed. I also spent part of the time talking to folks about the run program and possibly leading some of my Sunday Trail Runs. I forgot to mention, I got the position I was running for. I'm the new Run Director for the club. Fun stuff but work like the slideshow. One of the things we discussed about in our first board meeting was to have more one on one talks with members we'd like to get more involved. Sending a general email on the email list asking for swim, bike and run leaders is one way but there's more that we could do. I've got a roster of about 10 members so far who are willing to lead, I'd like to grow that to a dozen or more. Bike Director, D'Anza, was out doing the same thing. People are excited, I'm excited. She doesn't know it yet but I will lead a bunch of rides for her this year. I personally plan to integrate more biking in my workouts for the new year, it will save my legs from some of the pounding and give some stronger quads.

So the party ended at 10PM and I ended up joining a group of folks to another bar/club for a b-day celebration and then yet another bar after that. We had a good group, marrieds (no kids), couples and single folk like myself. It was good to see some of the serious athletes, let their hair down a little bit so to speak. The night ended with my friend Mike and I getting dropped off at the Mission district for some authentic, no holds barred burritos - as big as your arm and with a calorie/fat calorie ratio that will make you freak. It ain't for the weight conscious. Mike is now my new Track Administrator, the person in charge of checking people in on Tuesday Track and collecting the necessary fees if needed. I didn't talk him into it, he volunteered and he was sober when he committed...honest.

So I cancelled my Sunday run in lieu of more rest. I can always do it tomorrow on my rest day, just switching things around. Since last week I've been on taper, 40-60 minute runs. I'm one race away from another great season and rest. Such a firm believer in time off and I've been preaching that to my friends who are willing to listen. I was even going off about it at the party; "so big plans for next year huh... gotten some downtime yet?". No burn outs.

Well I hope ya'll have a great Thanksgiving week. Personally it's my favorite holiday and I've got three options for dinner. Right now however the thought of a Turkey sandwich in the privacy of my own home seems more appealing. Maybe I'm just partied out. Time to rest.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Like a Wild Dog

I apologize if this whole sea lion thing is not your thing but I'm fully...what's the word? I'm interested in the developing story. So now they are saying that sea lion has bit 14 and chased 10 people out. No one has been seriously hurt but no one quite knows how to deal with this. Apparently this has never happened before. Here's a couple of my favorite quotes from todays news.

"Biologists are at a loss to explain the eccentric behavior that has forced the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park to close the lagoon to swimmers until the marauding mammal moves on. Experts say the animal could be protecting his harem of mates or might have brain damage from toxic algae."

"The sea lion followed her out of the water and then bit her again. They couldn't get out of the water fast enough."

Kind of crazy, I'm sorry for the victims but at the same time I'm amused about the whole thing. I'd rather take a sea lion swiming than a dog anyday. Here is the link to the full story, they even got pics. My money is on the harem theory.

Holiday Blues?

So the word on the grapevine is that it's one sea lion but multiple attacks. Now rumor has it that the swimmers that got bit were triathletes who refused to take some downtime for the season. Ha! Joking aside, tri-club member Malik posted a warning on the club list, the gist of it is; 6 people attacked so far, no swimming at Aquatic Park until further notice.

It's a good thing it's the end of the year with a lot less people swimming.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sea Lions!

A sea lion attack in my favorite swimming spot. Since the swimmer was a member of the Dolphin Club there's a good chance she wasn't wearing a wetsuit when she got bit. This is the first I've ever heard of an attack by a sea lion. Pretty crazy, makes you just want to jump right in.

Sea Lion Attack

Monday, November 13, 2006

Stinson Beach 50k

From Rain and Fog to Sunshine before the race started. Runners came prepared for both but most were thankful for the views that came with the clearing of the fog.

My Turn. So after all those hours volunteering it was my turn to race. It promised to be a wet, muddy day but in the end it turned out to be a nice sunny day after all. There was mud on the trails but no rain, it stopped an hour before race start, the fog cleared and we were left with amazing weather. It was an excellent, excellent run. I did have my share of problems which forced me to concede my time goal but it's lessons that will help me for my last race in two weeks. I gave 110% and got more than I deserved...heck I'm still receiving the blessings, still walking funny.The course used part of the Dipsea trail and I saw several ultra runners training for the Quad Dipsea, familiar faces from past races.

During the race I was up to my usual tricks, easy on the uphills, bomb like crazy on the downhills. The race started with a 6k climb from Stinson Beach to the Pantoll Ranger station. All the runners were together for this first part; 12k (75 runners), 20k (45), 30k (71) and 50k (26) runners and the doesn't include race day entrants like myself. At the Pantoll station we split up according to our distances with the 50k runners joining the 30k runners on their loop. From the first downhill I started I went hard. I was confident I could keep up the output based on my performance at Firetrails what I failed to account for however was the condition of the trail. The downhills were really sweet on this course but some of it was quite technical; roots, rocks, fallen trees, slick wooden stairs and a bit of mud to make it just a little sweeter. Those of you who have run/hiked the Dipsea know what I'm talking about. I loved all of it, my heartrate was highest on the downhills. I did my best to flow like water over every root and rock and even hurdled a few obstacles. At the bottom of one long hill, about the 18-mile mark, after chasing down a handful of 30k runners, my right calf cramped up on me suddenly and stopped my progress in seconds. I don't think it was nutrition or hydration, I just pushed harder than my legs could take. It was one small specific spot in right calf. All the tippy toeing, dancing and hurdling took it's toll. I stretched it out, took water, salt pills and Ibuprofen for insurance and continued on but had to concede my time goal. I'm right leg dominant, I lead with my right leg, switching to my left is a bit like writing with my other hand. Worse, preoccupied with a calf that kept threatening to seize for a second time, I took a wrong turn and climb a steep hill, nearing the top before realizing I was lost. I started laughing at that point, sometimes you just have to laugh it off. With 10k to go the cramp completely went away and I was able to run the last 6 miles at the most speed I could muster finishing at 6:09:54 for 6th place. My time goal was 5:30-45.

I haven't been doing much training on the technical stuff so I'm not surprised but I'm thankful for the revelation with the Quad only two weeks away. That race has a bigger share of the technical down hills with 3000+ plus more elevation gain. I don't think I can do anymore major training to prepare. But a lot of stretching and some calf massages while watching TV would definitely help. I'm also going to re-evaluate my strategy for the Quad, I don't want to finish limping! One thing that also helped was a trick that I learned in controlling my IT Band soreness, something I picked up from Yoga. I would focus on the calf and mentally relax that area, every time I felt a twinge I would relax the muscle and the pain would abate. Worked everytime.

So I definitely got more than my money's worth Saturday. I was only looking for some company for my last long run and got an excellent training run instead. Had a good time, a weakness exposed and a lot of camaraderie. I'd consider running this race again in the future.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Let the Heavens Open...

The weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow.

And turn the trails to mud. How much fun is this going to be. I hope it pours. My old Vasque Velocity's should be perfect for the job. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

Of Women and Cheap Beer

Before heading out for my lunch run today I got an email from some of the guys at church organizing an after work burgerfest. I said sure if I could make it since I had work commitments in Marin. So I go for my run and I come back to a number of emails on the matter. Apparently a couple of the girls found out and wanted to see if the guys would rather join them for a drink instead and have dinner later. Both ladies are members of the San Francisco Chapter of the Elk Lodge and rumor has it that not only is it a great, cozy, manly place to enjoy a brew it is also very cheap - forget happy hour. So what do you think happened next? If you guessed that the promise of cheap good beer by two young ladies was enough to derail the burgerfest of the men then you would be um...wrong. I know, I know, I was surprised too. The men will have their food and if their is time to hang with the women then so be it. Good to know there are some men who can keep their focus:) As one of the guys put it "one can’t be very suave with the ladies if one is famished…"

I think I will join them for some burgers, maybe a Turkey one for me and no beer at all. I'm racing tomorrow, alcohol the day before slows me down further.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Treasure Island Sunday

Keep Still
Keep still Barbara! Body marking my friend Barbara who is a TAG participant.

Treasure Island Saturday

Today was the Treasure Island Sprint, the shorter, smaller race. This event had a number of kids in it, they even had their own start. The youngest one I saw was 9 years old. Kids come in two sizes I've noticed, those large for their age and those who look like kids. This 9 year old was the latter, she was adorably tiny. One of my strides was probably two of hers and I'm short. Ah but she was inspiring to watch, I believe she was the last one to head out on the run. Her form was good and the look on her face was one of control - cool, calm and collected. She was great.

It was a much more laid back day and these were the newest of the new which resulted in some comical moments and a lot of rule breaking. A lot of leeway was given however, fun and enjoyment was paramount. First there was the one mom who entered the transition area to help her daughter transition from the swim to the bike. Mom was standing on the sidelines when she saw her daughter having a hard time taking off her wetsuit. So she rushed in there to yank the wetsuit off and help her with her things. Her daughter by the way is a grown woman. This went on for like 15 minutes before someone finally had to tell mom to go. Second there was the participants who had flats who didn't know how to fix them...seriously. Some of them probably racked their bike without checking their tires. I personally helped two participants with their flats during the race which is a big no no. There there were also the folks who go on the run with their helmet still attached to their heads, sometimes the helmet is even on backwards. I caught one with his helmet on and sent him back. The start was funnier, I had all these people who didn't want their age in their calf or looked so embarrassed. Sorry gotta put it on. One woman told me 29 to which I replied, "no seriously".

Ah it was a funny day but there were inspiring moments too like watching those kids race. I saw a father and son racing together. I met a Mom who was volunteering while her 12yr. old daughter was participating, something they do. I witnessed a single leg amputee with a prosthetic head out for the run while being cheered on by friends some of which were also single leg amputee's. The crowd went wild when this 18yr. old girl finished. And from yesterday, during the Pro race which started at 12 noon after most of the participants have finished, I saw the last regular participant finish along with the Pros. The elites were so fast that they caught up to this athlete towards the end of her run. This finisher, a member of team in training, comes down the final stretch with two pacers in tow. Most of us had been cheering the pros and were not even aware there was still a regular participant from the mornings race. As the purple jersey gets close the crowd goes wild again. One female pro had to swerve around her and her two pacers just to get to the finish. That was just the best.

Great day, great day, maybe I'm just easily pleased but I don't think so. These are truly good times and they have been inabundance lately like our weather. Remember that run I wanted to take today? I took it this evening under a full moon, it was so bright I could read the numbers on my watch. Clear sky and no wind with the bay glassy, the light of the Golden Gate Bridge reflecting off the water. Warm temperatures, my two layers was too much. I enjoyed myself so much I did a double loop out on Crissy Field before heading home. The weekend was home baked apple pie good and this evening's run was like pure genuine vanilla ice cream heaped on top, none of that low-fat stuff. It was the perfect activity in perfect conditions to unwind, release and think.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Treasure Island Saturday

Sasser Again
Sasser again, ran into her at Volunteer's Lounge. I had pasta in my mouth, thus the sour smile.

So I was up early, on my feet for about 9.5 hours followed by an 8 minute run and a 20 minute walk after I got home —so that's worth at least a 10k for effort right? Ok you're right, maybe even more say 15k. 15k run it is. Again volunteering was a lot of work but amazingly fun. After getting home, despite being tired, I went out for what should have been a 9-mile run. Tired but was eager to unwind outside with a nice run. Unfortunately my left achilles started to bother me and the pain didn't go away so I called it. Pushing forward with a run while tired with some nagging pain seemed like a recipe for an injury. I think I know how I did it too. At 5:30AM it was warm and the skies were clear, by race time at 7:30AM the fog rolled it and it got cold, even had some drizzle. To keep warm, because I didn't bring enough layers and was dressed in shorts, I would jump in place - think jump rope. Also while "body marking" I was constantly standing up and squatting down, even manuevering around people while in the squat position. I'm pretty sure those activities strained that area somehow. The good news is that it's minor and will probably clear up by tomorrow. Sunday will be a shorter day and I hope to get in a 3hr run when I get home. If the achilles is fine I shall be out.

Body marking was not as fun as I thought it would be especially when it was only me doing it at first. Luckily the long line was soon spotted coming out of the transition area and reinforcements arrived quickly. Marking people's arms are not a problem, having to get down to mark their legs is a pain, especially when you have to maneuver around them. Numbers with curves is a pain, more angles the better. I did get a compliment on my penmanship from one of the athletes, she said my numbers looked better than what she got. After all the body marking was done I was moved to traffic control in the transition area. We were constantly clearing the main path that the bikers and runners used, directing the bikers and runners and keeping them from running into each other.

So now it's off to a shower, a meal and a home movie. Turning in early tonight to do it all again tomorrow. Got lots of pics, will combine with tomorrow's before posting. Probably going to ice the achilles just in case...ok not probably, WILL ice the achilles.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Here We Go

Night Before
A toast, for great races this weekend. Everyone's so serious, that's non-alcoholic sparkling juice. Well except for Jan on the far right, he's having his beer no matter what.

One last meal before the race. So remember the TAG (Tri and Give) triathlon group that I've been hanging out with? Their race is this weekend. Most of the folks are doing the race on Saturday which is the Olympic distance (1.5k Swim, 40k Bike, 10k Run) and some are doing Sunday's Sprint distance ((0.5k Swim, 20k Bike, 5k Run). Not all are pictured, some have decided to be with their families. Noah the host, he's the guy standing making the toast, actually had a bunch of his family come down for the race; mother, nephew, aunt, and grandparents. A family event. It's a spectator friendly triathlon, great for family and friends to see you race. The swim area is visible to everyone, the bike path loops around six times and the run course loops twice. It's a pain for the racer but great for the fans. Treasure Island triathlon is unique in this way.

Sadly not everyone who started the program 10 weeks ago was able to make it in the end. We had a couple of people drop out because of injury. We got one who's sick. Actually this past week we've had a good number of them get sick. Were they licking each other's water bottles I've no idea. But the majority of the group is in. For most of these guys this is their first big triathlon, a few weeks ago they did a shorter smaller one for practice. They look good.

I'll see them all tomorrow hopefully. I'm doing the volunteer thing again. Originally I had planned on just coming down and taking photographs all day but the club really needed the volunteers. Volunteers are harder to come by this late in the year, lots of begging and cajoling from the race directors to get people to come out. I'm working in the Start/Finish/Transition area. We have to get there before the racers get in and do the final set up. I'm hoping to do "body marking" how fun would that be. Race numbers on one arm, one leg and age on the back of the calf. Maybe I can sign my work. The age thing is for the competitive folks and it works, I tend to chase harder when I spot someone in my age group. If not body marking maybe I can be one of the volunteers who help swimmers out of the water. Again another unique thing with this triathlon. Swimmers finish their swim at the bottom of a ramp, there are rocks that slow everyone down and volunteers help pull them out of the water to help expedite the whole process. How fun would that be. I don't have a lot of upper body strength but if I plant my feet just right I should be able to use my legs to do most of the pulling. We'll see.

At 12noon, after most of these guys are done the elite start their race - 15 Pro Women and 25 Pro Men. That'll be something, I'd like to see those guys loop around. Anyway time to chill a little bit before getting some zzz's. Another early day tomorrow. Graduation day for this fine TAG team.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Season's not quite over and already I'm filling up an application for a race. Well at least it's a whole lot better than trying to get into an Ironman. Those things, like the New York Marathon, you have to make a decision on a year in advance. Anyway I'm filling up my application for the 2007 Western States, I'll send it on my birthday for good luck in the lottery. Oh wait I don't believe in luck. If I don't get in for next year it won't be a big loss since I already have a backup race in mind. Bighorn 100-miler in Sheridan, Wyoming, another June race. The course description and elevation profile makes me want to stay home....but they all do that anyway. The great thing about this race is that it has a 30k/50k/50m/ along with the 100m. You can bring friends who may not neccessarily want to run the 100. I saw photos from a story Trailrunner did, might fine place for a race. My only trepidation about it is that there's a lot of running between 7000 and 9000 feet. Altitude, based on my experience at the Grand Canyon, affects me when I go past 7500 feet. On the Grand Canyon's North Rim last year my heart sounded like a drum and I started to feel a little light headed. This year at WS there was no effect I could discern since we were only at 9000+ for a short time.

Anwyay I want to go big next year, do more races, get involved and all that, it might be my last for a while. I've been thinking about my work situation lately and I think I am only going to do this freelance thing for another year. Next year will make 6 years I've been on my own and I'm ready for a change. Time to rejoin the collective. Resistance is futile (for you Trekkies out there)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Midweek Ramblings

RodeoBeach w:the ladiesGG Bridge
Top:Another nice Saturday. Sydney, Laura and Meredith at Rodeo Beach watching the waves and the surfers. Bottom:The view from the top of Hawk Hill.

Thanks, Thanks for all the well wishes. I may be the only guy running for the job. I'd like to tell you that it's highly contested and I will have to beat out so good folks but no, I think it's just me. What does a Run Director do in our club? Well the Run Director does what he can to promote running in the club. You know get people involved and excited. Right now we have our Tuesday track sessions and our Sunday trail runs.

So November is just around the corner. Amazing how time flies. Been thinking so much about races, events, volunteering, voting, holidays, trips, work and a whole bunch of other stuff that I forgot my birthday was coming up. I remembered the other day, forgot again and was reminded today by email from a friend. Crap another birthday if this continues I will be in another age group soon. I already in another age group?! Well that's not so bad, maybe I can run Boston one day. I'm not fast enough now, 3:30ish, but if I manage to hang on to most of my speed as I get older I may have a chance. Anyway don't ask me the exact day cause I'm not inclined to tell. Besides these days I don't really celebrate my b-day anymore, I don't really need to since my life is constantly blessed. I am celebrated, blessed on a constant basis, by others and myself and I don't need another day to remind me of that.

Tired today. For a late night snack last night I had half of a large watermelon. My first thought was cookies so it was a minor miracle I went for fruit instead. I knew what I was doing but I did it anyway, I've never let a little common sense get in the way of my mouth. So I ended getting up 4 times during the night to use the bathroom! Nothing ruins sleep like having to get up. That will be the last time I'll do something like that...well until I forget and do it again, this wasn't the first time.

And finally the rain is coming back, supposedly minor showers but with the coming of November we know there's more on the way. Soon it will be darker, colder, foggier and windy. So it goes, need to get the rain gear out. It's already raining in the Northwest and other parts of the country already have had snow...winter is fast approaching. Maybe I'll spring for one of those lightweight ponchos, especially for cycling. My approach to rain is to wear enough layers to stay warm but never to stay dry. Get wet, get it over with and just deal with it was my motto. But these days the thought of being somewhat dry is more appealing to me, maybe I am getting older.

All good things, lots to be thankful for.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rick for 2007

Stick a fork in me, I'm done! I sabotaged my own training this week by not sleeping enough...typical Rick behavior. Got 4.5 hours in today though, no walking on the hills either - ran everything. Got away with another one. So I'm actually here to ask for your help. I put my name in for the "Run Director" position in my tri-club. I have to write in 100 words or so my "platform". So I put one together and I thought I'd throw it out there to see what you guys think. I'm a bit uncomfortable about the last part, talking about what I've done in triathlon and ultra. Makes sense people need to know that I'm not all talk...Hmmm...undecided on the last part.

* * * *
As Run Director I would continue to work on the continued success of the track program and the Sunday trail runs. I would seek to get more people involved and excited about our club's great running program.

I joined GGTC back in 2003 because of the support and encouragement I exprienced from Golden Gate members who gave generously of their time volunteering (leading and mentoring) our triathlon group. I have since endeavored to follow their example. I've volunteered in races and mentored in training groups. I also helped out with this year's Fall TAG group.

As a triathlete I've participated in all the triathlon distances up to the IM. I'm also an experienced ultramarathoner, completing races from the 50k to the 100-mile including the Western States 100. I'm a regular at track and M2's spin classes.

I look forward to making our club an even better one for 2007.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Nike Women's Marathon

Only now do I feel recovered from the weekend...what are we know Thursday? Crikey. Well that's also because my weekend included Monday and Tuesday. After that great weekend with Nike I played tour guide Monday and Tuesday for family visiting from the Philippines. All great things, exhausting but fun. I ate a ton too, what else is new.

Speaking of Nike, that was a really fun weekend. I'm still thinking about it. The Nike Women's Marathon runners were some of the best I've ever served. They were polite, appreciative and for the most part clean - they didn't trash the course too badly. And most of all they were beautiful; sweat, running mascara, energy drink stains and all. It was fun having a ton of ladies running towards you as you tried to serve them Gatorade/Water. Well most of them weren't even looking at us, their gaze went right through into some point in the distance. Our aid station was at the 17 mile point on one side and the 25 mile point on the other. Runners see us twice, on their way to Lake Merced and on the way back to the finish.

One woman in particular helped make my day and I was already having a blast. I won't mention her name because she's a lurker on this blog. She came through the aid station, called me by name, introduced herself and congratulated me for my finish at WS. Thank you, sorry I couldn't be more excited. I was totally taken aback and in shock. There was a moment there where I was speechless trying to figure out where I had met you until you explained that you were a lurker on the blog. Whew...for a moment I thought I lost another pound of brain cells. Congratulations on Nike.

I would volunteer for this race again if given the chance, it was a blast. I thought Tri-California did a great job with the logistics. I didn't really get to see the entertainment part of the marathon having been at the aid station all day but I heard no complaints, only that chocolate is the last thing most people want to eat while at a marathon - chocolate stop was mile 19. Kristin Sasser was an excellent partner, she was cool, calm and organized. 45 minutes before the first runner was supposed to come through our station was only at 50%. Of the 30 volunteers we were supposed to have we only had 10-12. I wanted Kristin to get on the horn and ask for help but she was confident that we would be fine. She moved folks around, allocated our resources in the right places and we were golden. Speaking of which we owe a huge thank you to the Medical volunteers. They numbered about 7 and helped out when they saw we needed help. While I'm at it, huge thanks to YMCA Triathlon and their group leader Mario Duarte. They were the volunteers assigned to our station. I got involved in triathlon through the YMCA and it was nice to see some old faces.

My only regret about this whole event was that we couldn't stay out longer on the course. After we were given the OK to tear down the 17-mile side first, we had to move quickly. The roads were going to be opened to traffic and more importantly we were losing volunteers as the day went on. Kristin and I didn't want to reload the truck by ourselves! The 25-mile side came down a couple of hours later and we just about got everything in the truck when the CHP pulled up to tell us that the roads were about to be reopened. However the approval to tear down was given before the last set of runners/walkers was off the course. We had people coming through a torn down aid station. How disheartening it must have been to be in the last group and seeing things being torn down while you were still on the course. That doesn't happen in Ultra. You get timed out first before someone will tear down an aid station in front of you. That's my only regret.

After packing the truck, Kristin and I drove it back. Originally we were also supposed to unload it, thankfully that didn't happen. Besides back at headquarters they actually had forklifts and pallet movers, we had neither. We got cold pizza and all the Cliffshot Energy Gel and Cliffshot blocks that we could carry. I think I have enough energy food to last me all of next year! Sweet.

Overall a great and rewarding experience so much so that the next day I threw my name in for "Run Director" for our tri-club next year. I was asked twice and I turned it down. I got to thinking that since I'm going to be involved anyway I might as well go big. No guarantee, there might be others that want the job, more power to them. One thing I noticed about myself, if given the option to lead or just help out I would always just help out. I get all the fun without the responsibility. A bit of a chickensheet I know. Well I'm trying to change that. As the old Nike slogan used to go: Just Do It.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Nike Marathon


Is now a memory. Up the whole weekend, feels like one day. A lot of fun, much excitment, hard work but very rewarding. I was so excited about it I went down to the start line to help out at 1AM and just continued on till it was time to meet Kristin at my apartment at 4AM to start our shift. The work was definitely hard but the runners...they were so nice and thankful. Thank God for no accidents or major mishaps. At least in our station things generally went well. Zzzz...need a nap.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Schwag + Shoes

Tonight was meeting no.3 for the Nike Women's Marathon. Three entities are involved in making this happen, there's of course Nike, then there's Tri-California and an entertainment company who's name escapes me at the moment. Tri-California is race directing and responsible for bringing the majority of volunteers. Our tri-club has a tight relationship with Tri-Cal, providing volunteers for a couple of their races. Tonight was more details, more discussions about duties and responsibilities. So far I've been impressed with the level of enthusiam and organization by the organizers. This is going to be a good race. It's only on it's third year but it's quite popular. This year's race sold out in a month, if that.

At the end of the evening we got our crew tags as well as a big ol'bag of schwag from Nike; cap, long sleeve shirt, track jacket, and shoes. Sometimes you get schwag for volunteering. I didn't need the clothes but the shoes... I need new shoes. I wore out 5 pairs this year including my last two pairs of Montrail Leona Divides (rip). Need to replenish that quiver for next year. Why several pairs? I like rotating through different types. Makes me wonder how many pairs the pros go through....I wonder how many pairs Dean goes through or Scott, good thing they are sponsored. Hmmm....

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Screenshot of the GOTR website. To visit the site click here

Last night I ran, walked and walked backward on the track. I also crawled, laid and rolled on the grass. Somewhere in there was also a pretend picnic where small leaves represented H20 and lemon juice. I lucked out, my 11yr. old partner, Chelsea, was an out of the box thinker. It was a touchy start at first. She wasn't comfortable with me because I was a boy but she warmed up eventually. Besides I told her the truth, "Chelsea boys are scared of girls too".

Girls On The Run is a non-competitive after school program for young girls that combines a physical activity running with learning. If you click on the link there's more details there. They are one of the charities that is connected with our tri-club. Besides monetary donations, tri club members are also encouraged to get involved. It's not a big commitment, the current request is only for two Weds. The program itself runs 10 weeks at a time and they meet twice a week.

It was a lot of fun! The girls were full of energy. It was us, the triathletes who were the anxious, shy ones. In the beginning my friend Alyssa and I kept looking at each other with that "what did we get ourselves into look". Thankfully there were three teachers there, they made sure everyone was ok - especially the grownups. The lesson for the day was Alcohol, Drugs and Smoking and all the running exercises we did that day kept touching on this theme.

That was a good time and I'm actually looking forward to next Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lunch Run

Wow, it should be like this everyday. Almost makes me want to switch my evening runs to lunch runs. Been so busy lately, today was the first day I've been able to run this week. Eh it's okay my body needed the two day break. It's gorgeous out there, sunny blue skies, very clear and no wind. Low 70s. We are nearing the end of our Indian summer, soon the rains will come. Too bad I couldn't stay out longer. Legs were predictably tight and heavy but they should be better tomorrow after today's recovery run. I really should stretch more.

This weekend is the Nike Women's Marathon and it looks like we are going to have similar weather. That's going to be a long yet exciting day. I'm co-lead at an aid station with my friend Kristin. There's the set up before the race, clean up and tear down. I already volunteered Kristin for driving duty, driving the big white truck full of supplies to the aid station the morning of the race...yeah that was nice of me. However in turn I have to be the palette mover guy, with the help of some motorized gizmo that they will teach us to use Saturday stuff. Our biggest worry is where to get Peet's coffee in that part of town since we have to pick up the truck at 4:30AM, a couple of hours before our local Peet's opens. Hmm...very critical that coffee thing. Anyway back to work and some food. A nice break, I'm glad I carve out some time in the schedule to get out there even though it wasn't very long.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Still Recovering

Wow that run beat me up a little, 3:20 later I am back, sore and tired as hell. I guess even though my muscles recovered from that 50-miler my nervous system hasn't yet. I made the right decision shortening the run. What seemed like "slacking" was actually the correct action. This might seem like a no brainer to some, run a 50m don't expect to come back right away. Well it's possible, it's all relative of course so I should say it's possible with me. Initially I left the house with a lot of energy, in fact I had to slow it down. I crossed the Golden Gate bridge and did two hill repeats of Hawk Hill, a nice 20 minute climb for me. The hill ain't that steep and dodging tourists and cyclists is a huge plus - keeps me focused instead of drifting off. The climbs were good but the downhills weren't and on the second downhill heading home my energy was down for good. After that initial pop and good energy levels for about 2 hours it went slowly downhill from there. The last 6 miles from the bridge to my apartment was a bear, hard and slow. Overall it was a good workout, even though the last part was hard I made it home before I had to resort to walking. Perhaps another low mileage week for me this week.

Return of James

James and his new bride. He's looking great.

Yesterday I was planning on a 6 hour run, which became 4 before I went to bed last night and is now tentatively 3. If I feel better out there we'll see about longer. No pain, no fatigue, just feeling a valley between hills and mountains. Been dragging my behind around since Friday.

The perfect mood for a surprise. I have a step brother we spent part of our childhood together. We met when I was 12 and he was 9. I love him lots but I haven't seen or spoken to him in 4-5 years. Before that we were only together for one evening after not having seen or talked to him for 3-4 years before that. Basically in the better part of a decade I've seen him once. Last I saw him he was in the middle of a divorce, had just been stationed in South Korea after 3 years in England and was facing an unhonorable discharge from the Air Force. He ends up leaving the Air Force, goes right back to South Korea after spending a month in the states and has kept his distance from the family since then. Any news I hear is from his sporadic emails to my stepdad. Oh once or twice I got drunken messages on voicemail with him apologizing for being a bad brother and all that. Amusing. Both he and my stepdad are the same way, they have that ability to shut people out. We all do it well, putting ourselves first before other people but these two have mastered it and it's unfortunate when you are the side being shut out. I on the other hand am my mother's son, we tend to fight fire with fire. You put the two together and there's a whole lot of non-communication going on.

Well this morning checking emails over coffee I got an email from my brother - wedding pictures. I almost deleted it thinking it was spam. Good morning Mr. Gaston should I put this bomber right next to your coffee? And my mobile has three missed calls and one voicemail, you got it. If you're looking for a conclusion to the story, well I haven't got one for you (not yet). I'll share when I get there.

Nice. Just like the terrain over here, it's never flat for long.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Just Like a Race

"Hello PreK Team, Great news - we found our "1"! We are so very happy to report that Rick has stepped up and will be joining the PreK Sunday School team. Wahoo!"

Good God what did I get myself into?! I'm getting the same anxiety and butterflies that I get when getting accepted for a 100-mile race. I touched on this before, my church has shrunk considerably because of a not so smooth head pastor transition, so now to keep things going everyone is recommended to pitch in. In the past I've been involved, even going as far as being a bible study leader for a couple of years, but I've always skirted around helping with the kids, which is strange because there has never been a time in my life when I didn't like kids. I think it's because I'm not confident about my ability to control more than 3 at at time:) Those guys, some of you know, run on Energizers. It's truly a different kind of "shape", I can travel 100-miles at a time and they still tire me out.

This time around I tried to run from the job again, haha, even when asked a couple of times by good friends to get involved. Instead I signed up for the "Social Committee", you know the committee that organizes get togethers, dinners, hikes, etc. I was totally copping out, hey I'm good at running. Alas, while I can outrun my friends I can't outrun you know who so here I am. I won't bore with the details as to how I know.

So here I am, fortunately to my relief I will have a partner, there's a tutorial meeting and I have Pre-K kids. Besides while I'm anxious and worried I am also excited, just like a race.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Ultra Faces at Firetrails 06

At the finish with Wendell and Chikara. For the images click here.

Pictures of ultra friends at Firetrails.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Nice Surprise

Firetrails pictures click here

I actually came in at 9:03:28, 35th out of 150 that finished out of 162 starters. Wow I was much closer to breaking 9 hours than I thought. Where did I get 9:12? Had I known at the time....what's 3:28 over the course of a 50-miler? If I had upped the pace earlier, took less pictures, chatted less, ran harder on the flats, enjoyed the scenery less, walked less...So close! Alright shut up! shut up in there! It was a great racem, the final time will not change that.

I was chasing three friends and never caught them. Brian Wyatt at 8:46, Vladimir Gusiatnikov at 8:56 and Kevin Swisher at 8:58. I've never raced against Vladimir but I have against Brian and Kevin and I am inspired/impressed with their performances, especially with Brian. Last I saw him was at Rio del Lago 100 while pacing Olga. He was struggling to stay upright and according to Georgia, his pacer, cut his losses and dropped at the 83.5 mile mark. Well 2 weeks later here he is with a great time at Firetrails. I might see Brian and Kevin again at Quad, hopefully Georgia too.

Firetrails Unofficial 2006 Results

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Semi-Short and Sweet

Where's the fireroads?

I got my behind whooped by a lot of people yesterday, some of them friends. I in turn passed on the good deed and kicked some behind of my own:) en route to a PR on the course. But as mentioned, this was my first 50-miler and I had not run it since. I've come a long way since then and it would have been incredibly disappointing had I not beaten my old time. What I am ecstatic about is that I finished faster than I hoped. After an honest appraisal of my current shape, I predicted a 9:30-10 hour finish. I wasn't going to repeat my blow up at the Big Kahuna Tri with more unrealistic expectations. I crossed the finish line at around 9:12ish ( I forgot to turn off my timer after I crossed the finish line, exact results will be posted later). Considering I'm 5 pounds heavier and on a pared down training schedule I was more than happy. Moreover, I finished in excellent shape, it did mean however that I could have gone harder. I've come back from shorter training runs feeling a lot worse. I was overly cautious for the first half and on the second half my heart maxed out before my legs did. I was "redlining" from miles 40-47, running at lactate threshold and loving it but my heart couldn't keep up. When I crossed the finish line I felt great overall. I was able to run the 100yds to the car with no discomfort and this morning they feel fine. I could go a run today if I wanted to...but I won't:) Today will be a walk to the edge of the bay to watch the air show and the last show of the Blue Angels for Fleet Week. Lot's of walking and hanging out.

I'm very happy with my finish and my excellent condition after the race. In retrospect I could have gone harder, could've started attacking the course a lot sooner but overall I came away with a time that was much faster than I expected. Since my body feels so good I can go right back on training for my last race, the Quad Dipsea, without any downtime. I'll be a little slower for a few days but nothing more than that. Only one blister! After experiencing 16 at Western States, I'm pretty confident I can bully this one to do what I want.

The trails on this race were awesome. With a name like Firetrails you would think it was mostly fire road, nope. Lot's of beautiful, tree lined, soft single track - the type you encounter in Marin. The course was extremely well marked. 8000+ total elevation gain. Excellent post race bbq with enough picnic tables for tired runners to sit on. Chikara Omine won the race with a 6:54 beating his time of 7:04 from last year. Ultra legend and race director Ann Trason personally handed me my goodie bag at the finish, as she did for all the finishers - unbelievable.

Full report and ramblings later. As well as pictures.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Good Morning

The part I hate about races, getting up early - up at 4:00AM. I don't know how Olga does it year round, she gets up at 4:30AM just for training. Lady it's a good thing I don't live anywhere near you:) So I'm ready, feeling heavy cause I am but what the hell, it's fall. I'm well on my way to my "holiday" weight in October, just getting a jump on the holidays.

Well I'm ready to roll out. I smell like sunscreen and my feet feel funny from all the duct tape. Just checking the internet for the distances between aid stations. I didn't bother printing it out and taping it to my water bottle, I only do that for my A races, when I'm actually trying to PR. As long as I come in faster than 10:25...I think. I shouldn't be slower than my first 50-mile time. I'd like to be finished by 4PM at the latest, car rental needs to be back by 5PM. Keep your fingers crossed. I think I'm just going to go with one bottle today. The average distance between aid stations is 3.5 miles. Besides the weather is supposed to stay cool.

Great. Have a great weekend everyone, shaping up to be a great one here. San Francisco will be crowded with all the Fleet Week festivities which includes an air race and the Blue Angels.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Brian's Shot

Ah but Brian did snap a good one. Check this out. Just in case you missed the link he left on the comment section. I've seen them go even lower. Thanks for sharing Brian.

Thunder in the Sky

Blue Angels are in town and they are out practicing for Fleet Week. Brutal:) They fly low and over downtown, scaring the crap out of a lot of people. It's the noise, sometimes it comes out of nowhere even though you know they are out there. I had to run an errand to the post office and the bank. As I was leaving the post office I almost jumped out of my skin when a loud thunder came out of nowhere - real close! Can't be much fun to the anti-war protesters downtown.

I actually have a special place in my heart for our military. I spent time growing up with them in Honolulu. I went to a high school that was primarily made up of military dependents from three bases; Pearl Harbor, Hickam Air Force Base and Crater Marine Base. Every year we would lose and gain new students. My stepdad himself is a 23yr veteran of the Navy. So even I got to enjoy a part of the military life; hanging out at the bases, shopping at the commisaries and getting stitched up at the Army hospital. In fact my freshman year in high school, I was part of the Hickam Air Force Base waterskiing team. I wasn't very good but I was light enough to be one of the climbers when they did those pyramids. You've seen them, skiers on the shoulders of other skiers waving to the crowd...that thing. Eventually I quit in lieu of high school sports, besides the 6AM Saturday morning practices were killing me. Ah I could go on and on.

Anyway those guys are flying low and loud. I'd snap a picture if I thought my camera was fast enough to capture them over the rooftops.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


3 to the Bridge
Janet, Myself and Vladimir heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo courtesy of JP Sulpizio.

Just another day at the Headlands. Went out for another long run, met up with some friends who were doing theirs in Marin. Went shorter than planned but felt so good that I've decided to go ahead and enter this weekends race in the East Bay, the Dick Collins Firetrails 50-miler. Planning to do it as a training run. A little long for a training run considering the Quad Dipsea is only 28 miles but it'll be alright. Been itching to do a race. This was my first 50-miler back in 2002 but I've never been back since. I remember that the BBQ was really good or did it just taste good after 50 miles? Anyway I think a lot of first timers for the 50 mile distance do this race. Looking at the roster I'm surprised at the number of people attempting their first 50-miler. More power to them. It should be a nice day.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

First Group Open Water Swim

Activating the core before the swim.

Yes I did mention that Triathlon training was pretty much over for the year however since I'm a regular volunteer with the TAG Tri-Group I have to do what they're doing:)...well to a point, I refuse to go into the pool. Today was the groups first open water swim and since most of these guys are newbs, most of them had never been in open water let alone the bay. Most of these guys are using their suits for the first time. Needless to say there was a lot of anxiety, hyper ventilating and zigzaging (not sighting properly). do I explain this, it's the practice of raising one's head and looking to make sure you're going where you need to be going. Easier said than open water swimmers know. It was a fun morning. I swam out to the turnaround buoy and stayed there for the duration of the swim. They were doing loops, round and round, more instruction at the beach then round and round again. It was fun keeping an eye on them. My job was to spot those who might be having too much trouble and see if I can help them through the exercise. On my first open water swim I was one of those guys who hyper ventilated, could not put his head down in the water long enough to chain together a few good strokes and kept bumping into people because I was zigzagging through the course. It was in lake and while the group did 3-4 loops around the swimming area, I completed 1/2 of one loop before calling it a day. Fortunately none of these guys were as terrible as I was but there were several folks who were having a bit of a hard time relaxing in the water. Did my best to calm them down but ultimately they just need to keep hitting the bay until they feel more comfortable.

This was followed by an hour run where I chatted with the mid and back of the pack folks. The lead group was gone, fast suckers. These guys are great, nice easy going people and what's exciting is that they've started to gel as a group. New friendships have formed and some of them have started to hang out outside the workouts. Sweet, they are learning new skills, getting fit and making new friends. It's been great for me too. A good balance to the long solo miles of ultramarathon training.

After the workout a group of us went out for lunch and talked about things non-triathlon. A nice time.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Simply Amazing

Just got back from my usual 9+ route. Posting yet another slow time, so'kay, had great track workouts during the week which slowed me down tonight. Anyway the ultra email list community has been following the progress of Scott Jurek at Sparthalon. An ultra marathon from Athens to Sparta for a total of 246km....that's what 153.75 miles. Scott wins it with a time of 22:42:18. He's only the second person to break 23 hours and the first American to win the race. Just plain awesome.

Website link here.

Scott is also the 7 time champion and course record holder of Western States 100 and the reigning 2 time champion and course record holder for Badwater. In 2005 he amazed a lot folks by winning his last Western States and 2 weeks later setting the record for Badwater.

Guy is just amazing. An inspiration. Nice guy too, humble and easy going.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Little Red Riding Boots

Future Pacer/Crew...maybe

Kind of random I know. My cousin Rose's kid. Makes me want to fly home for a visit. Too bad I don't have relatives here in San Francisco. I'd put them to work. This year I utilized pacers and crew for the first time and I loved it. There are ultrarunners out there who feel you shouldn't have them. Some valid points on that camp but I personally do these events for fun and if having pacers and crew makes it more fun I'm all for it. But I digress...

Monday, September 25, 2006

Olga at RdL

Olga, day two and 92+ miles into the Rio del Lago 100-mile race.

For Olga's race report, click here

Made the mistake of falling asleep soon as I got home from RdL this afternoon, now I'm awake! Anyway it was a good time. Drove up there Saturday afternoon. Met up with George soon as I got there and with Olga 2.5 hours later at the 67 mile mark. At 10PM Olga and I left Cavitt Middle School, home base for the race, for the second and last part of the run - a 33 mile loop on the American River bike paths and trails. It was amazing out, not too cold, no wind and lot's of stars.

I was hungry all day and I ate tons out on the course. Since I wasn't the one racing I pretty much ate what I wanted, a good thing because the GU's that I brought with me I ended up giving up to Olga - they were the caffeinated type. Much thanks to all the aid stations, especially the one at the turnaround, they served butternut squash soup and chicken flavored crackers to go with it. Great stuff.

As for Olga, she had a fight on her hands. Everything was coming loose as she went. She's tough though and never stopped moving forward. Big congratulations to her.