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.