Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Simple Pleasure

I just got back from a run and it felt absolutely AMAZING. It was exactly what I needed.

Got back last night after midnight but I was still on vacation mode today. Wanted to sit on the couch after work instead of going for a run. I kept delaying and delaying but finally I kicked my butt out the door at 8PM. I usually run in the evening but not this late. Once I was out however, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The darkness made it peaceful and quiet, not many people were out.

I needed that run, head's back in order now. One more race to go before holiday break. Can't slack now. Besides I have to work extra hard to burn some of momma's cookin:)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Where's the Remote?

Like the family dog I've just been laying around for the last two days. Been eating and watching cable tv. What is it about being in Orlando, Florida that makes me want to do absolutely nothing? I turn into an instant couch potato the moment I get off that plane. Took the red eye out Wednesday night and I'm here till Monday. Just a little break to check up on the family and fill up on my mother's cooking. She fed me so much food Thursday I didn't feel like eating until dinner time on Friday. Not that I'm complaining or anything.

Anyway the weather is not too bad. It has been overcast with a little bit of rain. I bet it's still warm and humid to run in but I'll try to get out today. No, no, I will get out today. Just soon as I find that remote:)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nike Women's Marathon

Brian August, my co-aid station lead, doing a dry run with the troops; "alright guys hold out your drinks, call them out so they know what it is and don't step out too far - don't narrow the lane.

We had to pick our Enterprise truck, laden with supplies, at 5AM in Crissy Field - just across from SF One day. Eager to check in on the PCTR and the 24-hour runners I came in at 3AM. My friend Katy, who was also a Nike volunteer and my ride, agreed to head out early with me. She was reluctant to leave once she got herself settled at PCTRs race tent but she was needed at Union Square for Bag Check duty. 2 hours passed quickly and soon I was leaving for the truck depot but not before having some breakfast at the tent.

I and my co-aid station lead Brian was at our aid station by 5:30AM, an hour before we were meet our volunteers from Stuart High School. Red Cross was already there, the same folks who worked this station last year. The lead guy, Steve, turned out to be an ultra-marathoner. He did the marathon distance at Firetrails and was planning to do his first 50-miler at Helen Klein.

Amelia and Mary, bike escorts to the front runners.

It went like clockwork and the experience was a whole lot better than last years. We owe much of it to Stuart High School. They were a fantastic group. High schoolers are a funny lot. Focused, they get a lot done. Unfocused, things start flying all over the place. It was only a matter of time before they started playing "light saber" with the Gatorade mixing sticks. The adults leading them were on top of things however and they kept those kids going, no one was sitting around doing nothing. If Stuart High comes back to work this station, I could be convinced to return for a third time to lead it. They were a pleasure to work with. Thank you Stuart High.

It was a warmer day than usual and we ran out of water at the end of the day on the 25 mile side of the station. They hit one side going out for their mile 17 and came back the other side for their mile 25. We got resupplied quickly but it should have never have happened. We at least had Gatorade to serve them. I was keeping an eye out on the water so it was totally my responsibility. Brian and I put the call in for more before we totally ran out but because of traffic it took some time to get to our stations (the aid station before ours also ran out).

Cleanup and packing the truck went even smoother than set up and we were back in the yard 2 hours faster than last year.

I came home and crashed for 4 hours. From the door straight to the couch. I didn't do a single workout all weekend, only ran a single mile (one loop at the SF One Day), but felt like I had just come through an ultra. A great weekend of volunteering, I wouldn't change a thing.

Yours truly. It was a beautiful day...and yes I'm addicted to the visor - I don't like the sun in my eyes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

E-mail Postman

Handiong out emails at San Francisco One day. Photo courtesy of Leslie Antonis.

Another great thing about this race was all the folks visiting from the PCTR community. PCTR has quite a following and we had runners pop in to say hello. Leslie and friend Anita were in town for the Nike Women's Marathon and they stopped by to cheer on friends and runners. Leslie snapped this picture of me. Handing out emails was a tedious job since I didn't know all the runners but it was great to connect names to the faces.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

San Francisco One Day

SF 12/24
Today was the Pacific Coast Trail Runs "San Francisco One Day". A 12 and 24 hour run. It was held at Crissy Field where runners ran a loop that was just a bit over 1-mile.

My first job was giving directions and parking. That started roughly with me directing runners to park at an area that was roughly 100 yds. from the start, in the grass no less. Ooops sorry folks. I got my chance to apologize when the runners came back to move their cars. Everything from there moved pretty smoothly though. Helped out in the general area/aid station. At noon I left to attend my last Nike Marathon meeting. Thankfully it was just across the street, at the truck depot, couldn't be any more convenient than that. Instead of going home from there as I originally planned, I went straight back to the race and stayed another 4 hours. It was hard to stay away and there was lots of food, some were brought by runners and spectators - some really good stuff which you should only be eating if you were running. Didn't get home until 5PM.

This was my first experience in a timed/closed loop event and I saw a couple of things that I haven't seen in the trail ultra's that I've done. First there was the row of coolers, folding chairs, blankets, sleeping bags, luggage alongside the trail before and after the aid station. The personal aid stations of the runners. One runner had his own water cooler filled with his favorite sports drink. Second, there was email available for the runners. Supporters could go to PCTR's site and send a note, Wendell would print them and we the volunteers distributed them to the runners. People were genuinely pleased to receive email, it was a nice break from all the running but most read as they ran. The food for the event was great too. Runners and spectators contributed, it was like an ultra aid station potluck. However it was the kind of food that you can run with, eventually you wanted to step away from all the baked goods and get something more substantial.

The race started at 9AM. When I left a quarter after 4PM, Jon Olsen was leading the 24-hour race with over 50-miles and Akos Konya was leading the 12-hour race.

DC Lundell at the start. The official photographer for the race.

"Oh you're Michael Popov. We have a mutual friend, Olga, good luck with your race." Michael at the start.

Personal Aid Stations

Wendell and Vladimir at the timing tent.

Donato coming in after another loop.

Lastly, Flora and Lauren(?), hard working aid station volunteers showing off their new Firetrails 50-miler 25th Anniversary finisher's jackets from last weekend.

Friday, October 19, 2007

TAG: I am a runner because....

Grand Canyon 2005
Halfway up the Grand Canyon's North Rim, about 3000ft. or so with my friend Jason Arth (red). This was during our 2005 Rim2Rim2Rim crossing. Photo courtesy of J.P. Sulpizio. JP and Stephen pulled ahead, Jason and I brought up the rear. More hiking than running at this section.

I think about running when I'm biking
I daydream about running when I'm in spin class
I daydream about running when I'm swimming
I look forward to the run in my triathlon races
I take into account running form when I'm checking out the female runners
I like watching other people run but get jealous when I can't
I think the best time to catch up with someone is to go running
I run in the places I visit
I've traveled just to run, races or otherwise
Black/missing toe nails don't bother me anymore
Because running makes me feel like a super hero

Mostly because I've grown to love it. I am passionate and feel incomplete without it. While a tough race or a tough season will knock the love out of me, it comes back with my strength. Am I addicted? You betcha.

Tagged by The Bull Runner and now I tag...hmmm, eni-meeni-mini-mo: Addy, Sarah, and Jean.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Final Thougts

Initial Thoughts

I'm over my disappointment with not getting my first time goal, it only took 3 glasses of red wine, a sushi dinner and a bit of sleep. My sleep was short due to overall soreness. While I may take a couple of doses of Ibuprofen in a race I stay away from it during the recovery process. I got more sleep than Donald though:) I woke up Sunday morning in a good mood, laughed as I remembed the race. Got away with another good one.

So the last post was a bit melo-dramatic with me complaining about being too tired from all the racing, boohoohoo, poor me. Everything I said was true though and I wrote it so you folks can see that all this activity does take a toll on me. Seems like I'm always running here, running there, biking here biking there, racing this and racing that. Yes, there is a cumulative fatigue and tiredness that I feel after all that. Those of you with similar or even harder schedules can relate. People with kids can more than relate! That's a non-stop event with no finish line. I was reminded of that at the post race bbq.

Overall it was a great race and it was as social as I thought it would be with all the friends I knew who would be in attendance. I'd like to make one correction to something I said about this race though. Last year I said that the race is mostly single track trails despite the name. I must have been delirious, again, because it actually does have a fair amount of fire road. Some people don't care, I don't, but there are folks out there like my friend Olga who prefers single track. Crucial information for people like her.

Enjoy the pictures and the captions.

With the Donald himself.

Zombie Runner was proudly promoting their new line of coffee. Don and Gillian giving away free coffee. The happy recipient is Steve "downhill bomber" Ansell.

Chris Marolf and family. The race venue was family friendly. Lot of kids and parents everywhere post race. Chris told me that a picture of me that he took from Headland Hundred made it to Utra Running magazine, we're not sure. Neither one us has a subscription to the mag.

Finally met Eric. Life has been crazy for Eric, causing him to cut down on training but he came away nevertheless with a sub-11 hour finish.

Addy at the finish. Addy has a trademark sprint finish, it's a hair flying, grass tossing, dirt scattering finish. I heard the usual clapping given to finisher's raise to hootin and hollerin. A bunch of us looked over from the picnic tables and saw arms flying all over the place and I thought to myself, that must be Addy finishing. Like a tornado that girl. A runner with a good positive spirit.

Saturday, October 13, 2007


Lizzie, Jamie (just finished the race) and Susan. Susan is my ultra-running bartender friend. She was at the race cheering on runners. She wanted me to put up a picture of her and her friends on my blog. On her wrist is her brand new garmin that she's super psyched about - a gift from her fiance.

Came in at 8:51 or so. Missed the sub-8:31 but managed to come in under last year's time which was 9:03. I've been scratchin my head about it since I finished. I fully expected to come under that 8:31 time. When I set that PR at Quicksilver earlier this year I was still tired from the Wildflower Long Course triathlon the weekend before and it's still my opinion that Quicksilver is a slightly harder race.

It rained all day yesterday. The RD's, Ann and Carl suggested that this might not be the day for PRs because of the mud. It wasn't as bad as we thought but there was definitely a bad stretch, part of it uphill. The mud was thick and sticky. It stuck on your shoes and made them a couple pounds heavier. They stuck on the bottom, the sides and the front and back of the shoe. It was no use scrapping them off because it just built up again, you had to wait until you cleared the mud sections. Maybe I was also wrong about Quicksilver being a tougher race. Mostly though and I do think this, I'm just tired from what has been a great year of racing. I require longer recovery times these days and I hold less of a charge. I'm an old rechargeable battery. This year I made it a point to increase the intensity and it has been successful. I've been rewarded by PRs and great races. Intensity = more fatigue however and my body is showing it. Baby hold it together for one more race, two tops.

The people I knew who were doing their first 50-miler finished; Addy, Patrick, Eric....I'm sure I'm missing someone. Also got to meet up with the other bloggers, Addy and Eric is part of that group but also Donald, Mark, Chihping and Steve...again I think I'm missing someone, mind a little fuddled.

Good run, wish I was faster. Thing is deep down, I know I can be faster on this course. Something to work on for next year.

This is a great run, for veterans and first timers. It was my first 50 and it continues to challenge me to this day. A well supported, organized run. The race directors are phenomenal runnners. Ann Trason is a legend and Carl is no slouch either. You get great schwag and treated to a great post race bbq which is also open to friends and family.

Huge kudos to the volunteers. Special shout out to Will G. who was out all day despite a badly sprained ankle. Will my man, seriously, you've got to stop doing these crazy things like trying to hurdle a metal gate at 10 mph or toying with fast runners. Always living on the edge.

More pics and thoughts when I can think straight.

Is it 4AM Already?!

This is the part I hate about races, getting up early...zzzzzz. I'm up now though, once I'm up, I'm up.

Looking forward to a good day. I'm hoping/planning for a good race. I'd like to beat my 50-mile PR set at the Quicksilver 50 earlier this year in May, difficulty wise they seem about the same to me. There's more single track trail in Firetrails and I bet they're nice and muddy after all the rain we got yesterday. Forecast for today calls for cloudy skies but no rain, should be nice cool conditions. So goal wise anything under 8:31 would be great, that's what I ran Quicksilver in; failing that, I'll still be happy with anything under 9:03 which was time on this course last year. That's it, those are my goals. Oh, I'd like to beat some of my peers, it's a race after all.

See you all on the other side of Firetrails.

Special shout out to a couple of friends who are racing Ironman Hawaii today. For those of you who are not familiar, Ironman Hawaii is the Boston Marathon of Ironman triathlon. Top triathletes from all over the world are going to be there along with their sweet bikes. Those bikes, amazing little pieces of modern design and engineering. Anyway these two friends were already fast when I got into the sport, very friendly, supportive and humble. One of them was a volunteer in my triathlon beginner's group years ago. Just the kind of people you want to have, in any sport.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Vicky is Off

Vickster, enjoying her last party in San Francisco for awhile. No I'm not drunk.

This past weekend was gorgeous weather wise. Warm with sunny, blue, clear skies. Many things were happening. There was a weekend long Bluegrass festival at Golden Gate Park and it was Fleet Week. Military ships came in and there was an airshow on both days of the weekend. The Blue Angels headlined the show. It was in the midst of all this that we had to send off our dear Vicky. There was the social at a club on Saturday night and church on Sunday. Even got to meet the parents who came in from Arizona. Vick is headed to the front for 14 months. She's excited and anxious at the same time. I told her that at least she's going to a place where there are lot's of "men", to which she just rolled her eyes. We'll miss you Vick. There's a "care package" committee already taking shape but already there's talk of sending contraband. Hope we don't get you in trouble. I'll keep the job of "sushi partner" open until you get back.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

W2W Pictures

Phil, Benito and Spams, relaxing after the first days ride.

Pictures from last weekend's Waves to Wine MS150 ride.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Happy Birthday Lola

My grandmother around 15-16 yrs. old

This post goes out to my lola (grandmother). She just turned 90. Still healthy, good appetite, good memory, loves to garden, walks about, chatterbox and tremendously enjoys the new addition to the extended family over there - the first great grandchild, 4 months old. She raised me till I was a month shy of my 12th birthday so I am very close to her. I can trace the Spanish blood in me through her family, she's half Spanish, half Filipino. My mom and uncles had to learn Spanish so they can read the newspaper to their grand parents. I was the first generation to go straight to English, too bad, I could use the Spanish now.

I spoke with my lola on her birthday, they are 16 hours ahead. She said her only wish is to be granted more years to enjoy her new great grand child. That's sweet. My mom is there with her now. They threw her a surprise b-day party. In attendance was her older sister, 5 yrs. older. Good genes no?

I'll be in the Philippines for the holidays. Looking forward to slappin around the new kid and spending time with my lola.

A few more races to go till then.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Waves to Wine

Jessica, MS Director of Special Events. A great rider and triathlete in her own right. Too busy to be bummed that she couldn't ride with us.

My quads are shot, especially the left one - buckles underneath me when I walk: But what a ride. A weekend full of "a lot's"; lots of miles, lots of drinking, lots of eating, lots of great scenery, lots of camaraderie and a whole lot of fun.

Before I go on I would like to state that this was a very well run event. Jessica Fewless, her team, the organization put on a well supported, well organized event and while there a few improvements that could be made overall I was mucho impressed. Car and motorcyle support moved up and down the line constantly, there was a good amount of aid stations, California Highway Police was present, they served lunch mid-ride on both days, there were shower stations for both days, camping or shuttles to the surrounding hotels/motels on Saturday, abundance of food, same for wine and beer, a good amount of cheerful volunteers, a live band on both days and finally a great course that took us from San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge to highway 1 along the coast and into the wine country of Sonoma.

Waves to Wine. Miss Julia navigating a sweet downhill toward the ocean. From the Pacific Coast to the vineyards of Sonoma.

1600+ RIDERS
We had all types, from the folks who had very little experience with hills and had to walk their bike to the crazy riders who rode on a track bikes. Hmmm...how do I explain this? Track bikes have only one gear and if you don't pedal the bike doesn't move. There is no coasting. On a regular bike you can just stop and it will just coast on it's own, not so with track bikes. On the uphills there is no downshifting to make things easier, you have one gear and one gear only, good luck. Topping those guys and the rest of us was the female uni-cyclist! I saw her on the first day, on the hilly coastal road of highway one. Pacific Ocean and beautiful views on the left, hills and crazy uni-cyclist that will make you feel like a slacker on the right. She also rode barefooted. What amazes me is how she can control that thing on the downhills, must take a lot of strength to keep it from running away on a steep downhill.

Hanging with Benito and Spams at the Stinson Beach aid station

I had a great time. The first day was hilly but the views were amazing. The course opened at 6:30AM from San Francisco and folks had until 8:30AM to get on the course. As ride marshalls we were expected to space ourselves out in the group, so no riding with my friends but it wasn't a big deal. There were a lot of stops besides the lunch stop and I regrouped with some of the other marshalls there. The lions share of the work went to the marshalls at the front of the ride, for the most part fixing flats and such. There were a couple of crashes but support was readily available. I personally didn't have to help anyone, the riders I ran into were either riding with their friends or were competent enough to solve their own issues. I finished in the middle of the pack Saturday afternoon and wisely ate something first before partaking of the beer. That was the coldest, tastiest beer ever. I was warned that they go down too easily, I scoffed but agreed 3 beers later. Dinner was promptly served at 4:30; ceasar salad, pesto pasta, string bean salad, tri-tip or chicken. They also served wine, ice cream sandwiches, cinnamon twists, pretzels, danishes and water. Not camping I left with Spams and Benito, my roomies, at 6:30PM and we spent the evening watching cable before passing out at 10:30.

Heat, need more heat!

Sunday morning started out cold, brrrrr...people were shivering on the breakfast line, while I regretted not partaking of the evening festivities the night before I was happy not to be in a tent in this cold. They said it was in the mid-40s. Heat lamps were distributed around the pavillion and countless riders can be seen worshipping the structures. Course opened at 7AM, by 7:30 I and most of the other ride marshalls were still hanging by a heat lamp toasting. Julia sauntered over at 7:45 still in her jammies. Course was supposed to close at 8AM but they were not enforcing it. There were also a couple of men in kilts which amazed me, how did they not freeze their you know what off. I left with Spams and Benito a little after 8AM. By the time we left most of the cyclists were already on the road. Slow start but as soon as I warmed up I got into a groove. The day before was a little too easy and I was determined to get a better workout. So it went, after a good warmup I cranked it up. Everyone seemed to be in a great mood, there were a coupe of riders going about doing "smile checks" and lots of "gud mornin" tossed around. After the first aid station I got passed by a train of 6 riders, as they passed a group of 4 riders, the 4 riders jumped on their wheel and all of a sudden it was a 10 rider train flowing fast in a single file. At that point I chased and tagged along myself and we continued to pick up riders as we went. We were moving fast and grew to about 20. If you're the person up front you have the hard work of breaking the wind for everyone else, for the folks in the back it's like running with a tail wind. Eventually the train disintegrated, some riders got tired and dropped off, most stopped at the next aid station. I skipped some of the stop and wisely skipped lunch too. The day before I ate half a burrito and I was slow as molasses for the next half hour of leaving the lunch station. I also wanted to consolidate all my hanging out time in the end this time. Sonoma was spectacular although the condition of the roads could be better. We had lots of shade and the views amazing, nothing I could do justice with my dinky little snapshot camera.

Hustling to join the Conga line. Riding past Sonoma Valley vineyards.

After finishing the bike went straight to the bike transport folks who were going to take it back to our start point in SF. I came in early enough that there was no line at the shower stations so I promptly picked up my drop bag and cleaned up. Unlike the day before I went straight for the beer before food and waited for friends to finish at the finish line. I also partook of the excellent wine that was served. We regrouped for a quick lunch and took the shuttles home. By the time we were ready to go, I couldn't have ridden my bike in a straight line if my life depended on it - doesn't take much these days. I slept the 2 hours back to SF. Spams, Benito and I then headed out to dinner after picking up our bikes. Benito is Filipino and took us to a really great Filipino restaurant south of SF. We ate like hogs and I took dessert to go.

Beer me! Wine me! When in Rome...

As I already stated, it was a well organized, well supported ride. They even had maps made out of a synthetic substrate that didn't tear or disintegrate like paper maps. Running out of beer on Sunday was a huge bummer though. Many folks who finished later didn't get their share but I'm sure they'll fix that for next year. We probably drank most of our quota on Saturday night anyway. I would definitely do this ride again and stated so when the call went out for 2008. The fundraising is minimal at $250. I didn't have to fundraise to enter the ride because I was a volunteer but I could see myself doing it next year even if I have to fundraise. Great ride. Great destination event.

My quads are still very, very sore. Ice baths for the rest of the week!

More pics coming up.