Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Pirates Cove

Sassy (20k), Jessica (30k) and Sammy(30k), huddling in the car for warmth prior to the start. PCTR events are great because non-ultra friends can still join in the fun. Offering trail runners several distance options in their races have made PCTR a popular choice and combined with the laid back atmosphere and the warm welcoming community of trail running has made them a favorite with more of their races selling out now.

Spamsiwan set for the 20k. Despite being a vegetarian, our first conversations as friends centered around "Spam" - thus the name I call her by. I also call her the Iron Knitter and the Iron Baker because she is as passionate about her knitting and baking as she is about her training. You can check her blog here.

Jessica, Helen and Noreen, excited and ready. The hills in the background is our first climb. A @#*&% uphill start. I hate uphill starts!

GGTC Trail Running Ladies
Proud of the ladies, the gang hanging out at the finish. Except for Noreen and Jess (training for her first Ironman), all these guys have completed the Ironman triathlon distance. This year Spamsiwan is headed to Ironman Brazil at the end of April and Jess is planning on Ironman Coeur d'Alene in Idaho in June. Photo courtesy of Sammy.

Salty, Dusty, Happy 50k Finishers
Alright who's the short dude?! Finally me and the boys. Jon K (10th), Will Gotthardt (6th) and myself (11th) at the finish line. Jon and I were still catching our breath, Will on the other hand was relaxed and cool having finished 20+ minutes before us. Regulars at the PCTR scene especially Will who volunteers for the events when he's not racing - great runner, valuable community member. Photo courtesy of Sammy.

My camera was acting up so I had to ditch it at the start, thus the start and finish photos only. It turned out for the best anyway, I doubt I would have gotten under 5 hours had I been taking pictures. Except for my friend John B. (not pictured anywhere) It was me and the ladies again, the men of our gang were busy doing I don't know what. Hanging with the sistas yet again and I don't mind.

I am off to Florida today to visit the family. If I don't visit them now I won't be able to see them until the fall because of the race schedule. Might as well be now but not looking forward to hot, humid and FLAT Orlando, Florida. I can get used to the heat and the humidity but I'll never enjoy the flatness.

Before I go, the race report I promised on my last post:

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Race day found me feeling great and confident. I knew the course well, these are my training grounds after all. I've raced many times here, from the 50k to the 100-miler. I knew where I could push and where I could pull back to recover. I knew the terrain, from single track to fireroad. I was also in a great mood, came with a bunch of friends and giddy about the first race of the season.

The first 30k went like a blur, I was surprised to be back at the start line already and about to embark for the remaining 20k. The first hour I held back, slowly increased intensity in the second hour and went all out after that - as fast as I could muster. The last 20k was definitely harder but no less enjoyable. I ran the end of the 30k a bit too hard and was feeling it but I knew the rest of the field was feeling it too. I started catching up to some of the fast, hard looking guys and it was a psychological boost - I knew I was moving up the field. The last 10k I was chasing after Jon K. A healthy Jon would have already finished the race but he had just come back from illness and was not 100%. Chasing after him kept me firing on all cylinders and he's partially responsible for my sub-5 hour finish, him and the guy who was chasing me.

Nutrition, hydration all went like clockwork. I was quick at the aid stations, choked down my gels prior to arriving and only stopping long enough to get my H2O bottles topped off - something I picked up from Olga. Chatted with other runners but kept the conversations brief unless they were moving at my pace. All in all a well managed run on my part. I couldn't have asked for more.

Next up Mt. Diablo 50-miler. This one promises to be the exact opposite. Long, slow and arduous with 13,300 ft. of total elevation gain, same for the elevation loss. The uphills will be tough, the down hills will tenderize the quads. A good training race for the 100-mile runners.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pirates Cove Results

Results here. The 40-49 age group ruled the day with 1st, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 8th places in the top 10. Shout out to Will G. for his top 10 finish.

...about 20k into the run...
Vladimir: Hey, how you doin? Good to see you out here, you started late or something? What were you doing back there?
Me: Oh hey, didn't know you were going to be here. Ah you know, my usual slow starts. You should know this already:)
Vladimir: Right, right.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Short and Sweet

Okay so that race went really fast. I mean the whole experience felt like it happened in the blink of an eye. I started and then I was done. I think my training weekends has smacked me around so much this year that the 50k race felt like an absolute pleasure.

Pirates Cove 50k = Unofficial time of 4:55+
Total Elevation Gain 5640, same for loss
Perfect sunny but not hot weather

I pushed hard out there and it was uncomfortable at times but I was exceeding my own expectations and was totally psyched. I'm a praying man and I kept sending prayers of thanks - for the weather, the course, my friends, my health, the resources that made it happen, everything. It was an amazing time.

I pushed to test my fitness and I'm glad to say that it's where I expected it to be, well actually to be totally honest, I didn't expect a sub-5 finish. This is my first time running this race but my experience in these trails had me predicting a 5:30ish run time. I'm pretty pleased and besides a sore left abductor muscle (inner thigh) I'm good. I already hit the ice bath andeverything is fine and dandy.

Another fantastic PCTR event. A bunch of my friends came and did the shorter distances the 20k and 30k. They made me feel like quite the rockstar when they cheered for me when I came in to the finish for the first time after completing the 30k and again at the finish, this time for good, after finishing the 20k loop to make it 50. Met some really nice runners and got re-connected with old friends. I wasn't hungry afterwards but sat on the grass with the gang and chatted with the other runners in our vicinity.

Quick report and pics to follow. My camera was acting up at the start so I'm waiting for pics from friends Samantha and Jessica. Much thanks to Spamsi for picking me up and dropping me off after the race. With a lot of daylight left I think I'm going to go and do something normal relaxing like walking down to Yerba Buena gardens and reading a book. I got back my book,Lore of Running by Tim Noakes, MD from another runner today. Too bad the museums are already closed. I might even pick up that part I need to fix the cranky toilet. I tell ya that race was like a splash of cold water on my face, invigorating. Must take advantage before I crash.

P.S. To the non-runners and non-ultra types, I wasn't being facetious about calling a 50k short, it's all relative. Based on my experience in the US ultra scene, a 50k is a short race.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Running for Your Upper Body

Local speedster, Chikara Omine, fast in many distances. He ran the mornings Emerald 12k which finished at our swimming venue. I took in a quick Bay swim before a run. Some of the gang after the swim.

Speaking of swimming. I got back into it in a big way last week, hit the pool 3 times and got in my first Bay swim of the year...brrrr..... Anticipating a cutback/backdown week in my running I just swam and biked more. So in the end I was still draggin around all of Monday but at least my legs were not so beat up. After three weeks of building up my strength, endurance and speed, I backed down this weekend with a simple 2 hour run. It was worth at least 2.5 since I had to run with my pack filled with my wet swim gear; wetsuit, towel, clothes, googles and 3 x 25 ounce bottles of Carbo Pro. Sunday morning was definitely one of those times that I wished I owned a car so I would have a place to store things. Good workout though.

This week I am also doing a mini little taper heading into my first race of the season - Pirate's Cove 50k. Not much of a taper really but I'd like to do that race with a little more zing in my steps than I usually do in my training runs.

So yeah I've been hitting the pool. I'm the slowest swimmer I know but there is no "tri" without the "swim" and I wouldn't have it any other way. My good friend Jessica gave me some pool workouts to follow, she used to coach a high school team. Check this picture of her, this is another way to do an ice bath. Personally I prefer the tub and silent screaming in the privacy of my own bathroom but to each his own.

Getting excited about the race this coming weekend. I'm eager to pin a number in the old shorts and get one in the books for 08. It's exactly where I do most of my training so no surprises there but many friends are coming and I'm eager to catch up with Will G. and talk to him about his race at Cool Canyon 50k - he ran a quick 4:26. Tough competition though, real tough with Oregon sweeping the first three places. Those Pacific Northwest kids, so fast.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

6 Degrees

Jaymie, Coach Nonoy and Dondi. Image courtesy of Jaymie.

Here's a story I've been holding on for the past week that's kind of cool in a 6 degrees of seperation kind of way.

Last week I was at Jaymie's TheBullrunner blog reading about her swim classes. Unfortunately like Sarah and Addy she has been injured and finding new ways to get her workout fix. She started taking swimming classes in preparation for possible entry into triathlon pursuits. On the eight and last class, with camera in hand, she took pictures of her coach and classmates. One guy in particular looked familiar to me, he reminded me of someone - it was in his face. Detail oriented as Jaymie is, she had name and occupation down in the captions. After re-reading a light bulb went off in my head, "nah it can't be". I verified the last name with Jaymie and it turns out I was right.

My biological father has 7 children. Four from a previous marriage, 1 from an affair during said previous marriage and 2 from his second marriage. Yours truly is the kid between marriages - the love child (insert gasps here). I've met all except one. Dondi, the name of this half-brother, I have met once and briefly about 15 years ago. I still talk to Alex, our father and he updates me on the other kids. It's how I knew that Dondi was a lawyer, living in Manila, married with at least one child (just had his second recently). I don't know Dondi, we never kept in touch. I don't know what their side of the family thinks of me and frankly it doesn't keep me up at night; however, there is something exciting about finding him. He's my half brother after all. Pretty trippy I feel.

To this day I still have a connection to our dad Alex. I see him when I pass through Manila, he's passed through San Francisco a couple of times. We have a good friendship and I'm totally okay with that.

Growing up without a father did screw me up but it wasn't something I realized until later – after I was transformed into a better human being by my step dad who I now recognize as the father figure in my life. A retired Lieutenant Commander in the Navy with 22 years of service, I met him a month before my 12th birthday and he continued to whup my butt into shape until I moved out my first year of college. He never laid a hand on me once but he always got me to do what needed to be done. A leader of men, that's my step dad. My stepbrother on the other hand, yeow, he had his moments growing up and sometimes he paid for it, hahaha sucker. As you can see I turned out just fine. I run 100-mile ultra marathon's for pete's sake, it takes a sane and balanced person to do something like that. You don't have to be super athlete, just need to get your shiz together.

Anyway I'm starting to babble about old times. I'm glad to see that Dondi is involved in something healthy. Jaymie says that he's new to triathlon. I hope he keeps it up. In our dad's family there is a history of heart disease, diabetes and asthma.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Rides Continue

Video by jimbeisuzuki courtesy of Anthony E. The footage is rough but sweet, turn down your speakers because of the sound of the wind. You get a great view of the front and the back of a pack.

So it's been kind of a somber week for me because of what happened last weekend to those cyclists. I didn't know them personally but I can't get the incident out of my mind. Just tragic you know. Like that time 2 years ago this month, when a runner was killed here running in the Presidio. A victim of a hit and run, the driver responsible was never found. She was training for the LA Marathon. 2 years later the flowers are still there, I pass by the spot all the time when I'm training in the Presidio.

Anyway today Anthony E. sends me this video. He races bikes and on Tuesday nights they do this "Port of Oakland" ride which seems like, as I understand it, a big circuit around the deserted roads of the Port at night. Kind of like track for cyclists. One of the riders attached a camera on his bike and captured this vid. At first you think it's only him and two buddies until he slows down and you realize he was at the front of a pack. Soon he's surrounded and you get to feel what it's like to be riding inside a pack through the straight aways and turns. Lifted me up, thoroughly enjoyed it.

"This is how I spend my Tuesday nights. This is about a lap and a half. The main group does this for about an hour. lots of fun. :) If you look carefully, I'm in there rolling along. - Anthony"

The riding and racing will continue...

As for my running. The 6 hour "beat downs" on Sundays are in full swing and they have left me crawling out of bed on Mondays and Tuesdays. I haven't said anything because I'm afraid I'd start whining about the aches and pains and those endless hills. I had to skip track this week because the left hammy was tight and "biting", sa'll right now though, nothing a little rest and active recovery won't fix. The swims have started, I can't say it enough - I hate the pool!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sad Ending

It was another great weekend. The weather was the nicest yet and lots of great stuff all around. Unfortunately there was also tragedy. 3 cyclists leading a group out for a training ride were struck by a car in Cupertino, that's about an hour south of San Francisco - home of Apple. Anyway two died and another in critical condition. In light of that I've decided to shelve the stories for a couple more days.

Road cycling is a dangerous sport, you are out there with all these cars and often there's a lot of speed involved, sometimes on both parties. As a cyclist you are incredibly vulnerable and every time you go out you are trusting that these drivers are NOT going to hit you. You also have to have a lot of confidence in yourself and your bike skills to take care of yourself.

Before I bought my bike that was the one thing I spent a lot of time thinking about – Did I really want to get myself into a sport that raised my potential for injury or even death? In the end I decided that I wasn't going to live in fear. I'm always thankful though whenever I end a ride safely. Nevertheless accidents happen, sometimes it's the cyclist's fault, sometimes it's the driver's but cyclists always lose in the end.

My condolences to the family and friends of the victims. These guys were experienced cyclists and if it can happen to them, it can happen to the rest of us. You can get the story here.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Flying in Circles

This is the second time I've showed up to track draggin my behind and the second tIme I left swaggerin to the bus stop like some star athlete. The moment I entered the energy of everyone inside lifted me up and got me in the mood to work. Many teams, many individuals, a lot of fast people.

One team in particular is back on Tuesday nights. Two years ago they had practice the same time we did but last year I think they changed their schedule and I didn't see them at all. They are back this year and they are running circles around most of us - the all women Impala Racing Team. They are so beautifully fast. According to the info on their site, 3 of their members have qualified to run in the 2008 Olympic Marathon trials. While running our intervals for the night, 2 women blew by me like I was jogging, then two more, then one more before I completed one lap around the oval. With runners like this on the field how can you not get inspired.

If you are a runner contemplating getting some track workouts into your training, I say do it. If you have the time do it. Find a local team and jump head first. Running with people is inspiring and entertaining. Running fast will make you faster and it's not as boring as it looks. Is it painful? Absolutely there's pain but in controlled portions and if you do it right, you'll feel like a superstar. The speed will put a smile on your face (not while you are running:).

Monday, March 03, 2008


Thank goodness it's Monday, rest from the long workouts. Club meeting tonight with a Dr. Something talking and instructing about mental training. 8 years into running and 5 years into triathlon I've developed a little bit of that "I know all that already" and I'm fighting it. I'd like to grow old in these activities gracefully with an open mind for constant learning. Besides I'm not so sure I'm not losing some brain cells constantly pushing myself in these endurance activities, refreshers on topics I've already heard and read about is a probably a good thing.

I'd like to thank those who have shared their sympathies about my wind incident on my last post. I was feeling quite the wimp after that episode and I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about the wind.

The weather has been downright beautiful here, mid-70s and sunny, with just that slight bite in the air to remind you that you are in San Francisco. Marin's hills were full of people. We had armies of high school kids cleaning the beaches and pulling weeds on the trails. There were families having picnics in the hills overlooking the ocean. Fathers and mothers carrying small children in their baby packs while hiking on single track trails. Ran into Jason and his purty running partner at the top of a climb; "oh hello Jason, who's your friend?" Haha, Jason you sold me out man! Well actually it was the other way around. I needed 6 hours, they were going only for 2 so I excused myself.

Lastly I'm 7 for 7 for ice baths. I've gotten a lot of reading done in the tub this past week, although I always have to re-read the material I've read the first two minutes. The initial shock always knocks the comprehension right out of me.