Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rio del Lago Photos

Still Waiting
Pacer Jon Kroll, Volunteers Kristin and Johana and pacer Leslie Antonis. I hung with them as we waited for our runners. Kristin and Johana were in between shifs I think.

Pit Stop
Pit stop for Runner No.8, Clare Abram. Her pacer Jon and friend Leslie help her out of her shoes. She needed to do some blister repair before heading back out on the final 33-mile loop.

Go Runner!
Ray Sanchez heading back out for the final 33. Notice he has 3 lights. Is that a runner and a pacer in the distance? Nope it's only Ray. Also he has changed to road shoes knowing the last 33 is mostly flat with a lot of asphalt bike path sections.

The Lecture
Jonathan "Gundy" Gunderson, Chikara Omine and Gundy's uncle and crew, Andy. Jon had dropped and was requesting if he could "drop back" into the race, Chikara had dropped with no intentions of continuing and Andy is just hanging and listening. Not seen in the picture is race director Norm Klein giving them a lil talk.

Obnoxious Billboard
Mood killer, an obnoxious way too lit up billboard at 4:30am. See that red thing by his left hand, that's a package of now cold French Fries. Yumm! Hey they work for him. That's his second batch which he got off a volunteer, haha, we had someone's left over dinner fries. The night just kept getting better. Not a dull moment with Gundy.

Back on the Trails
Thankfully we were soon back in the peace and quiet of dark trails.

A Breather
I knocked him out for giving me some back talk around mile 91. No haha, I kid kid, this was one of our 60 second breaks and we were back on the American River bike path.

And I'm thinking of food as he's laying there.

Morning Revival
Gundy on his last and final wind on the last 10k of the race. With a new day came new energy.

Two Tough Women
A female runner and her pacer about 2-miles from the finish, they were moving fast but so were we at this point. I saw them finish and it was a touching moment. Runner and pacer hug, congratulatory remarks give way to smiles, crying and tighter hugs. That was sweet. Gundy and I shook hands and already that was too emotional for me.

Pacer + Runner
Yours truly and Jon. He looks like he ran 100-miles. Snatching back a DNF from Rio del Lago, he did great, what a great comeback.

Final Notes on my runner and the race itself.

Gundy is extremely focused on the trail when he runs. This guy probably never gets lost or he used to before and has applied his experience. He is constantly checking for ribbons and asking me to verify our direction. Eventually I took over in the front so I could stop verifying our direction to him and just do the leading already. He never got lost during the day, we only took a wrong turn once at night and we caught that right away.

There is a locker room and showers at the finish line. Perfect for pacers who get dirty but may not have a hotel room in the area.

There is NO food at the finish line, just drinks and it's for the runners. I'm totally serious. A group of us were munching from a bag of Doritos after the race.

Finally this race doesn't give out buckles. This is what they give out instead. Enjoy. Mine sits in my parents home in Orlando, Florida.

The picture set is here if you want to see more pictures and read more captions. Enjoy and thanks for stopping by.

Addendum: A link to Leslie's photos as well. Great shots of runners during the day. Thanks for sharing Les!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hot Day at Rio del Lago 100

100-mile runners return to Cavitt High after the completion of the 67-mile loop. Runners are weighed in, they re-stock, re-supply, change clothes/gear, take care of first aid stuff like blisters and head out for the final 33-mile loop. Third runner in this group is Clare Abram, eventually 3rd female finisher of the race.

I've been going non-stop since yesterday but I have some time now so I thought I'd give you guys an idea of how pacing at the 100 went and I'll post additional info and pictures later.

As I drove up early Saturday afternoon I noticed the heat as I drove further and further away from San Francisco Bay Area. I knew it was going to be a hard day for the runners and it was. Every time heat was involved things always get a little crazy. I heard it was around 100, we're not used to that here. Runners are dropping like flies and the winning time is nowhere close to the course record. The runners fought hard though, the volunteers and race organization worked over time to keep track of and serve the runners. RD Norm Klein was giving all the encouragement he could muster to the runners coming back to race central at mile 67 bedraggled and ready to drop. Families and friends worried for runners long overdue. Pacers, like myself anxiously scanning the darkness for the lights of runners coming in.

5:00 PM
I arrive at Cavitt High School, race central, start/finish and the 67-mile mark for the 100-mile race. All runners are still doing the first 67-mile loop, no leaders have come through yet. I chat with friends and some of the folks hanging around. Mark Lantz is icing his feet. He just won the 53 mile race and was preparing his body, especially his feet, for pacing duty later in the evening.

6:30 PM
All dressed and nowhere to go. I'm hanging out with pacers Leslie Antonis, Jon Kroll and with volunteers Johana and Kristin. Gundy's pace has him coming in earlier than his 7:30PM estimate, more like 7PM.

7:30 PM
No Gundy. Voicemail from his uncle Andy who is serving as his crew says that he is having stomach / gastro issues and is throwing up on the trail. By this time two front runners have already dropped from the 100-mile race and 53-milers are continuing to finish.

8:30 PM
Jon Kroll out with his runner Clare and still no Gundy. I chat with families and friends of runners who have gathered at the aid station. It's dark now and we can see runner's lights as they approach the high school which brings on the clapping and yelling.

9:40 PM
Leslie ready to go out with his runner Scott. Andy tells me in person that Gundy had dropped at the mile 63 aid station and is now sitting in the car recovering. I head over and talk to him. He is swaddled in a blanket and sipping Gatorade. In the course of our 10 minute conversation he decides to give it another shot despite having not had anything to eat in 1.5 hours. Apparently the rest from exertion had really calmed down his stomach and he was feeling re-energized. We head over to talk to RD Norm Klein.

10:15 PM
We are are back at the 63 mile aid station where he had originally exited the course. After telling Gundy that he can't drop again once reinstated, not unless he wants to have children in the future, Norm replaces his original race number with a handwritten one on a piece of paper. Gundy had surrendered his original number when he pulled out of the race. We start from there, slowly since he is also trying to catch up on calories.

A re-hdyrated, re-energized Gundy is haulin ass, hootin and hollerin down the trails. French fries! Andy gives him fresh hot french fries in a cup and the salty, greased up pud slices does something for him. Ultra runners eat the strangest things sometimes to keep going.

3:00 AM
Down swing again. He starts slowing down and complaining of very sore legs.

3:30 AM
We make the turnaround point for the 33-mile loop and he has 2.5 hours to travel 16.5 miles if he wants to finish under 24 hours. Considering he was actually out of the race at one point any successful finish would be remarkable. I give him two ibuprofens since he was no longer dehydrated to help with general muscle soreness.

4: 30 AM
It's still warm out and his engine is still sputtering. We had to stop many times so he can sit or lay down on the trail to rest, they were usually 60 second breaks. One runner actually joined us on one of our breaks. At one point he was shuffling next to me at the same speed I was walking and I have short legs! I looked at him and said, "Anytime you want to start running let me know". I was kidding of course and he knew it. He smiled or was it a grimace.

5:30 AM
My attempts to get him to speed walk instead of shuffling prove unsuccessful. We continue with the "breaks" and the slow shuffle.

6:00 AM
Only 6 miles left to go but the sun is now up and we missed the 24 hour mark. He's in a feisty mood, has a couple more ibuprofens and the legs start to turn over again.

7:10 AM
He is haulin ass again, running flats, hills, everything! We are moving and passing back some of the runners who overtook us.

7:40 AM
Full on sprint mode on the levee to the High School.

7:50 AM
Gundy pulls away slowly as he heads to the finish line and I'm on a full sprint. He clocks in at 25:50:35

That was it. Showered up at boys locker room. Got reunited with Leslie, Jon, Johana and Kristin and their runners Scott and Claire. Claire was third woman, missing 2nd by 1 minute 13 seconds with an overall time of 22:59. I hangout for a bit till about 9:30AM before taking off for home. Gundy was out on a lounge chair when I saw him last. The rest of the day back in San Francisco was just as eventful. I hit the afternoon service at church, joined the dinner crowd and pacing at Rio made for good conversation. A nice surprise. A good friend was back in San Francisco after spending the last two years in Stanford for school. She was like "so are you still keeping up with the running and stuff?", to which I replied "well let me tell you about this weekend".

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Headed out to Rio del Lago

Ah Rio, Rio, Rio, my first 100-miler back in 2004 and I almost didn't finish because of all the rookie mistakes that I made, before and during the event. It's two loops, the first 67-miles or so is interesting, trails and hills. This part of the course utilizes parts of the Western States 100 route and you are running with the folks running the 53-mile Sierra Nevada Run & Relay. The second 33 mile loop is a lot less exciting, it's mostly flat, by the American River bike path, and runs behind some homes and hotels. Yawn... Maybe it's just my preference, I like being deep in a hilly/mountainous trail in the middle of the night.

Well I get to run and run at night so I have no real complaints. Besides I'm not there for me, I'm a pacer my job is support. It's good for me, I haven't been volunteering as much as I have done in the past. Like Donald who I paced at Headlands 100, Gundy is a tough fast runner who is hunting for a fast time on this course. I guess he feels recovered enough from AC100 two weekends ago. So freakin crazy. I needed all 6 weeks between KM100 and TRT100 and this past summer and here are these guys popping off 100s like they are 50ks. I guess it's all relative. He also ran and finished Badwater earlier in the year, his third time. He's the guy who shared his heat training methods with me that allowed me to have a great race at hot and humid KM100.

So I'm gonna go early and take pictures. Got a new camera now. One of my favorite fast runners is also running - Mark Tanaka (pic). He was busy shifting his work schedule around, calling other doctors to work shifts, trading this shift for that shift, while saving lives and treating people. Always running around that guy.

I'm off. You all have a great weekend.

Update: Oh snap according to the update starting at mile 40.35, Chikara Omine (pic) is running the race and he is leading the field with the course record holder Jon Olsen (pic) 27 minutes behind him and Mark Tanaka 9 minutes Jon. This is Chikara's second 100-mile start. Ok I'm really getting out of here now. Have to get there before these guys blow by pacer central.

Pacing Olga at Rio del Lago 2006.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Race That Keeps on Giving

Miki and her shirt.

I wrote Sarah at PCTR because I need her help with an idea that I had and I got the nicest note(s) back with a fulfillment of my request. Now some of you might say, "well yeah she's your friend, you've known her for some time and you speak highly about their races". True, true, except that they've been like this to me since my first race with them years ago. That 50k took almost 8 hours! I wrote them the next day about how elated but positively trashed I felt and I got a nice note back congratulating me on my finish. Just how these guys roll.

And...more photos.

As I mentioned my camera stopped working at the end of the day and I wanted a shot of her with her artwork so I took it with her camera. Since I'm also the creative type I appreciate nicely designed things. Art being a subjective thing however I know it's not for everyone. There's also a shot of me cradling one of Mike's Black Butte Porters but you don't need to see that. I keep that up and some of you will really think that all I do is drink beer and eat sugar between races...er..not that there's anything wrong with that or anything. Well wait, except for you Dave. Put down the moonpie. Anyway I do hope what comes through is a runner that has serious moments but generally laid bak about everything else. Maybe I start mixing in some non-running posts, we'll see.

The legs are slow in recovering but they are getting there. I should ice bath them the next 3 days. They should be fine by the weekend, I hope so because I just signed up to be Gundy's pacer for the Rio del Lago 100.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Zoom Zoom at Skyline to the Sea 50K

R2e.PCTR STTS Art.jpg

01 Race Report
02 Official Results
03 My Piddly Collection of Images
04 Better Images and a Great Report on Scott Dunlap's site
05 Additional Reports on Mike and Victoria's site
06 Specific Race Notes

Showed up ready to race. Pumped up and excited since I haven't raced since July, did a mini-taper and everything. This was a tune up race for the Firetrails 50-miler in October and staged in the mountains of Santa Cruz. You start in the mountains and make your way to the Pacific coast. Total elevation gain is 3000 ft. and total loss is 5580 ft. Beautiful, mostly downhill with very little climbing, lots of soft tree covered single track, not too technical and the last 10k+ is flat fire road, perfect for the road speedsters, excellent aid stations and great competition. This inaugural race sold out all 210 slots and had 178 finishers. Perfect race for beginners, perfect race for veterans seeking a personal best.

Yours truly ran as hard as he possibly could. I threw everything into it with the hopes of finishing in the top 10. I lined up with the front guys, started out too fast, wisely pulled back and recovered, dropped the hammer for good around the 15k mark and finished 8th overall and 4th in my age group with a 4:24:53. It's also a personal best for the 50k distance. I was in my element in those long downhills.

I put all of my heart into it but it was my stomach that suffered. I couldn't comfortably eat food until the next day. Must have been engaging that core extra hard:) Legs are fine. Minor stiffness but nothing I could whine about. I have one yellow jacket sting on my back that was so itchy it woke me up the next morning and stayed itchy all day but no whining about that either since folks like Fred Ecks got 20 or so stings!

I spoke to Scott Dunlap after the race and he felt he could have gone 20 mins faster. After hearing about the little small mishaps that he had on the race I believe him. I got to meet Chris Ratliff when we were using the facilities at the Nature Center, he too felt he could have gone faster than his 3:49:10. Boy not me, I felt like I gave it my all that day but if there is a next time you know I'll be gunning for another personal best. Almost there...not quite 100% but I'm getting there. It's only been a month since I restarted my training.

One caveat: Don't race this if you are allergic to yellow jacket or bee stings or hate downhills or beautiful tree covered trails or nice people or competition or great race directors or nice race shirt or the ocean. Okay I'm serious about the first two.

Skyline to the Sea 50k Race Report

The adventure started with a train ride to my car ride and the breakfast of champions - a Starbucks chocolate croissant. I'm experimenting with beer and baked goods as ultra fuel. Ok not really, I was in an indulgent mood as I passed the coffee shop on the way to the train station.

Santa Cruz, how I enjoy racing and playing in this place, from the mountain to the coast. I've done a handful of triathlons, a couple of 50k runs and participated in the Calistoga to Santa Cruz Relay 4 times which finishes at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. In fact the race start is the last van exhange for the relay on day 2, it's where an exhausted sleep deprived van 1 and it's 6 runners hand off to an almost equally exhausted van 2 for the last push to Santa Cruz and the finish. With good memories swimming in my head I walked into the fog filled parking lot and into the open arms of the ultra community.

To say I was excited about this race would have been an understatement. I did a mini little taper the week leading into the race, no weights, took an edge off the speedwork and spin and took Friday off. My body tried to psyche me out with little aches and pains like it usually does heading into a big race. Lastly I couldn't sleep much the night before, always happens when I'm itching to race. This was my first event since the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 in July and it's been too long.

Santa Cruz mountains as viewed from the car, taken as we were heading to the start.

Bright eyed and ready; Marisa Walker, Jochen Horn and Jun Funaki.

Wendell advises everyone to arrange themselves according to their time goals. The race starts on a downhill on narrow singletrack. First up on the line was the folks who expected to go 4 hours and under. Normally my usual m.o. is to start towards the back because I'm a slow starter and I get a boost from passing people as I speed up. I took his advice however and moved a little closer to the front where Scott Dunlap spots me and calls me to move further up the front.

We start and the guys at the very front shoot off into the single track and I follow, I follow!!! I'm 10th from the front with a concerned voice in my head asking "What the heck are you doing? You don't become a fast starter simply by moving to the front of the line." I ignore it, it's downhill after all and I'm in my element. 30 minutes later I come to my senses when my body sends me the signals that I went out too fast, my heartrate is close to redline and my breathing starts to get ragged. Wisely I pull back and I feel better 15 minutes later but I lose sight of the 2-3 guys I was running with and get passed by 3 other runners. The problem with starting so far in the front is that I didn't have the thrill of passing many people and was in fear of being passed. That fear was like a whip on my back.

Lining up for the start. Should I line up in the front? Yes...No...Yes...No...ok yes already.

Feeling recovered I gun it again, this time for good as I was properly warmed up and everything is running smoothly. I pass Stuart before the second aid station. I also pass Ray Sanchez but there was no joy in it. Ray is a stud. He finished 23:07 at AC100 the weekend before and running Rio del Lago 100 this weekend. He runs to experience ultras but he ain't slow. Anyway my aid stations stop were quick, just long enough for a refill and an energy gel, very quick. On the second aid station I pass another simply by being faster on getting out and I'm on the tail of two runners who passed me earlier - Pierre and Paul. This part of the trail parallels the top of highway 9, meandering downhill and the footing gets a little tricky - smooth hard rock, even the dirt trails have get a little rooty and rocky. Haha so my element. I tuck right behind Pierre and Paul who were running very well. Feet dancing around root and rock is a beautiful thing to see. I redlined just catching up and tucking in behind them but as I sat back there I recovered. I pass Pierre when he pulled to the right at a particularly tricky section and tuck in right behind Paul. Paul and I pull away from Pierre but he surges forward to keep in front of me. This was good for two reasons: a) he was running my speed at this point and I didn't need to pass him because we are not even halfway thru the race and b) he could be over extending himself just to stay in front and was running my race and my pace. We've all done it, c'mon. I hoped for B and sat on his tail and watched him work. Nice moves, great foot work and we continue to move away from Pierre. Eventually he either slows down or I imperceptibly picked up the pace and I pass him. He shouts encouragement as I pass, I gave him my compliments and redlined it to put some distance on him. It was only when he was out of sight did I slow down and the way trails twist and turn it's not hard to be out of someone's sight. I wanted to seem "uncatchable" even though it was just an illusion - just smoke and mirrors.

I get to Gazos Creek aid station to a smiling Catra who marks my number. From here you leave the Skyline trail to do the Gazos Creek loop, they mark your number so they know if you've done the loop when you come back to the station. Most of the climbing is here on this loop; climb up to a ridge, roll up and down there for a bit then come down. The way up and the top of the ridge is fire road and the way down is soft, non-technical singe track. As I left Gazos Creek station no one was behind me but only a little while later I noticed a runner closing in on me - Pierre! He was chewing up the uphills, so that's his strength. I smiled even waved at him but I kept walking the steep uphill sections and he continued to close. He got to within 40-50 yds. before I eventually turned it back on and when I entered the single track trail for the way back down to the Gazos Creek aid station I lit up the afterburners. I did my best running on that single track, a little too much but I've never let a sensible pace get in the way of a blissful over driving moment:) I even took a video snipped of this section but it's quite shaky. That's how good I was feeling and how clear and non-technical the path was.

Gazos Creek.jpg
The loop.

Unfortunately I was so in the zone that I forgot all my manners. The Gazos loop reconnects to the Skyline trail a little over a mile before the aid station. You can see how it loops on the map. As I re-entered the Skyline trail I merged with a long train of runners heading for their first stop at the aid station. I gunned it. I passed on the left (the only thing I did right, always pass on the left if you can) and I passed the whole train without any greeting or warning like "passing on your left!" or a "hey guys!". At the head of the column were two guys crossing a muddy section on raised wooden steps spaced neatly across the mud and I ran across the mud right next to them, not wanting to wait my turn. I undoubtedly splashed mud all over. Rick was being a bit of a dick and I felt bad about that not too long after it happened. Not wanting Pierre to catch up to me was the dominating thought in my mind as I pulled into the now very busy Gazos Creek aid station for the second and last time.

Fleeting past trees.

I pass another runner lingering at the Gazos Creek aid station but I was in such a hurry that I only filled one of my two water bottles and half that bottle was consumed shortly after I left the aid station to wash down the energy gel that I just ate. It would be another 9 miles or 14 kilometers to the next aid station. Greeting me on the trail head was Will Gotthardt, a very speedy runner who is on an injury time out at the moment. Heal well Will. The downhills continued, the energy gel was kicking in and I was yet oblivious to my lack of water. I catch up to Scott Dunlap on a long downhill and my first thought was "Should I be catching up to this guy? Did I over extend myself to a dangerous point?". You see Scott is a faster runner than me, I've been tracking some of his race results. Yet there he was and I was gaining so I swallowed all self-doubt and kept going. I pass another runner who had no water bottles, who I later find out was Joel. He seemed exhausted but in gracious spirits.

The last 6 miles or so of the race is on flattish fire road, in great condition mind you. You could close your eyes and not worry you'll twist an ankle but flat is boring to me and I don't have great speed on flats. At this point I had three problems. One, my hamstrings felt like they were about to seize up in a cramp. I've been drinking and taking my salt so this was definitely from the strain of running the downhills hard not nutrition. Two, I had run out of water and I knew it was only going to add to my problems and lastly, I was slowing down. I'm not as fast on the flats and I had expended most of my energy on the downhills. Remember my note on the Gazos Loop.

A mile or so before the last aid station Scott catches me which surprises me not one bit. He's not only a great trail runner he is also a sub-3 hour marathoner. Believe me, this is why I go to track workouts, to improve my speed but I'm still not a sub-3 marathoner. He catches and passes me. I eye his sloshing water bottles with a little envy, just a little. Poetic justice for my rude behavior earlier? Maybe:) We arrive at the last aid station seconds apart. He greets Beat and Harry and takes off. I on the other hand was slightly dehydrated having run out of water 25-30 minutes before and in need of some pampering from Beat and Harry. Kevin was shirtless and on the table stretching his legs. I thought he was only cramping but he told me later that he was having a little mini meltdown.

Scott takes off on me and keeps right on going, he was ahead and out of my sight. Not too much fun being on the receiving end of someone's else running tactics, nicely played Scotty. The last 1.8 miles was flat and dusty but they were the last 1.8! I almost get run over by two ladies in mountain bikes because I was hugging the inside of a turn and completely in their lane. I didn't even see them because I was looking behind me seeing if Kevin had gotten back on the course. You don't see the finish line until you are about 15 yards in front of it. You pop out of the trail and there it is. I heard the clapping before I saw it, they were for Scott finishing. I got my own love 20 seconds later. Good enough for 8th overall and 4th in my age group with a 4:24:53. I finished feeling like I couldn't have run any faster. Should I even tell you the winning time, shared by Lon Freeman and Leor Pantilat because it's insanely fast. Alright I'll tell you, 3:38:33. They must have been just flying. First woman was Kelly Cronin from Yosemite with a time of 4:37:45.

Scott and family. Sophie is pointing with both hands to the dog, Scott's wife is chronicling the whole thing and the dog is playing with Scott, the dog is not part of the Dunlap family. I had to add this picture because of Scott's daughter Sophie. Camera broke after this so no more pictures. It was my old cam on it's last legs.

Scott and I shortly after our finish. Photo courtesy of Scott Dunlap. Scott is sporting the race shirt designed by Miki Higuchi. Nice job Miki!

I got cleaned up quick, hung out with Scott and family and later on made my rounds chatting with other runners. Got to meet some of the really fast guys. I was fine overall, my legs felt great, no major stiffness and only one yellow jacket sting. My stomach was not doing good however, I must have been really engaging that core throughout the run. I had some chocolate milk afterwards that was offered at the finish line but it only made it worse so did food. Chocolate milk is supposed to be a good recovery drink because of the carbs and protein but this time around it only hurt me more. So I was in a liquid diet for the rest of the day. I had a coke a bit later then Mike Bohi gave me a beer while I chatted with him, his wife and his parents.

The day got more festive as more runners came in and we all chilled in the grass. I met lots of folks including Victoria who was another blogger. Victoria fell and hit her foot on a rock and ended up fracturing a bone in two places but with the encouragement of fellow runners and a walking stick she walked it in the rest of the way, fractured, swollen foot and all. Victoria we will miss you at Firetrails, heal well.

This was an inaugural race for PCTR and it's a winner. They sold out the race, filling all 210 slots and had a wait list going. Fast course, mostly downhill and beautiful. it's great for both beginners and veterans alike. The only problem is those yellow jackets, everything else was just great. Oh and I love my Patagonia long sleeve shirt, the design by Miki Higuchi is a great one.

Much thanks to the ultra community and PCTR. Thank you to my friend Ed Swanson and his wife Dawn who gave me a ride t the start. Ed participated and completed his second 50k.

Skyline to the Sea 50K Race Notes

Mike Bohi and I at the start.

This is a great and fast course, perfect for first time 50k'ers. Only one caveat, you must like downhills and can't be allergic to yellow jackets or bee stings. Most of the course is run in gorgeous, tree covered, soft trails that aren't very technical. There are technical sections but far and few in between.

Not a lot of elevation gain. The toughest climbs is in the middle when they add a loop to make it reach the 50k distance. From the start you drop, drop, drop to about halfway where you enter the Gazos Creek aid station, you then do the Gazos loop, come back to the Gazos Creek aid station then continue on the Skyline trail to the finish.

Stock up on supplies before you leave the Gazos Creek aid station for the last time. It's a 9-mile haul to the last aid station. If you have two water bottles fill them both, if you only have one, tank up then refill before leaving. Don't forget to eat something!

Save some energy for the last 10k. This section is fire road and flat for the most part. I hate flats but a fast road runner can make up a lot of time here. The fire road is in great shape, you could close your eyes and not twist an ankle.

People got stung by a whole lot of yellow jackets out on the course. This was similar to my experience the last time I raced here. PCTR has three different races in this area. Thankfully I only got one since I was closer to the front. The rest of the field got hit by all the angry riled up stingers. I think it's the vibrations on the ground and moving air created by the front pack the gets them all excited and unfortunately the rest of the gang has to run through these angry clouds of insects. Marisa Walker came through the finish with 3 layers on; a shell, a thick jacket and her dri-fit shirt. She didn't get stung that way but boy it must have been hot.

There are no bathrooms at the finish but the Nature Center next door opened their doors to runners. Two bathrooms and exhibits to peruse. The volunteers were gracious and friendly and I got a quick lecture on the Santa Cruz mountains and the trails along with my bathroom stop.

Finishing on the coast on a sunny day is a piece of heaven. If you have a cooler bring it and stock it with beers. Thanks to Mike Bohi and family I got a cold one to go with all the socializing. We all hung out on the grass afterwards, a towel is a good idea. PCTR will transport bags from the start to the finish provided they are not too big.

According to Sarah the date for the next race will be moved up to the last weekend of April to avoid the stinging insects and since they expect to sell out each year they will probably institute some sort of lottery/selection process for the future.

Lastly, PCTR and the PCTR running community just plain rocks! The race race shirt is pretty sweet and printed on Patagonia Capilene. The artist is Miki Higuchi, runner and tireless volunteer. Between shuttling people from the race finish to their cars half a mile on the coast I got a picture of her and her artwork. Will post when she sends it to me since I took it with her camera.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Trails New Friends

Angela and Dan on the Ferry ride home. Angela is drinking a Lagunitas Brewing IPA. Finishers of the Miwok 100k get in their goody bag, amongst other schwag, a 22 ounce bottle of Miwok Trail Ale which is really a Lagunitas Brewing Ale. I always gave mine away and now I know what I've been missing all these years!

Saturday was supposed to be a run with friends that included the guys I ran the Grand Canyon with a couple of years ago. We all live in the city but hardly see each other these days. Initially I begged off thinking I wasn't going to be able to make it but my schedule changed and I rejoined. Unfortunately now the people I knew couldn't make it. I ended up hashing out the details and then running with runners I didn't know - Angela and Dan. Oh I ran with Dan once like 2.5 years ago and Angela I had never met. But we were excited, we were going to run no matter what the other folks were doing and it worked out for the best. Runners for the most part are great people and Angela and Dan were no exception, they were super to run with. They were easy going and just my speed on the trails or maybe they were just slowing down for me. Dan clocks in around 3 hours for the marathon and Angela has ran a 2:43. How glad was I that this wasn't a road run!

Coming from separate points in the city we met at the Golden Gate Bridge and made our way across to Marin. Our goal was to run North as far as Mt. Tamalpais, skirt around the summit and continue North to the town of Ross before heading East to the Ferry Landing and the Marin Brewing Company. Oh it was great. I usually run "down and back" type routes and this was "point to point", no trail repeated. It got me running farther up North than I usually go since I didn't have to run back and I got to run trails I hadn't run before. I finally found the famous German Tourist Club tucked away in the hills of Marin by running the Sun Trail, a trail I've passed many, many times while running the Dipsea trail. You have to hike or run in to this tourist club, not a place you can drive up to and they are having their final festival for the year this weekend - Oktoberfest. Yeah I know, an October festival in September. Think multi-story wooden structures with a beer garden tucked away up in the hills and surrounded by trails.

Angela and Dan on the trail. I missed the memo about wearing orange for our run.

Saturday Mileage map.jpg
From my place it says it was about 30 miles, more like 32 since I couldn't trace every twist of the trail with the pedometer, maybe even more. Let's hope for more.

So yeah these guys were great, gotta love runners. We had great conversations and nice stretches of silent quick running, times to bond and times to soak in the experience. A low point was when we got kicked out of Muir Woods. Haha, yeah it happened. See there was a trail we wanted to take but the entrance to it lay inside the gates. We either paid $5 for the 100 feet or so to the trailhead or go around. We tried sneaking around the entrance shack but that didn't work either. We were politely but firmly turned away by one of the ladies who worked for the park service. Slinking away like truant high schoolers, we grumbled our way up the Dipsea Trail. That was lame, we looked and smelled like runners, not tourists trying to get a free ride. Hmm... I wonder what would have happened had we descended the trail from the other side, would they make us pay $5 to get out of the park, I wonder... Well from the Dipsea however we connected to the Sun Trail and it ended up as one of the best stretches in our trip. A blessing in disguise.

Part of the plan was to finish early enough so we could enjoy beers and a late lunch at the Marin Brewing Company. We got there 5.5 hours after we started from the bridge. It was about 28 miles, not including the miles we put in getting to the bridge. The Ferry ride home was a sweet way to get back to San Francisco. It was full of tourists and the boat went especially slow so everyone could take in the views. It was sunny and pleasant by this time and we didn't really mind.

Sweet run, great weather, beautiful trails, tasty food and drink and most of all good company. My cup overflows.

Most of the way there! Angela and I on a fire road skirting around Mt. Tam. Our final destination, Larkspur Ferry Landing, can be seen on the upper left.

For more photos, Click here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Works like a Charm

So this new blogroll gadget is pretty sweet. You guys probably know this already huh. Where have I been? Blogs with new posts automatically shift to the top. So much easier to keep track of blogger friends. Change is good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Track is Done

Kezar Stadium after track practice, as seen through the lens of my mobile phone.

So that's it, tonight was the last night of track practice for our triathlon club. Where does the time go? I can't believe we are already halfway through September. It doesn't seem that long ago when we restarted track workouts back in February. Too bad really because I could use more track work, all the way to November. I spoke to a friend who trains with the other tri-club on Tuesday nights and he told me their program also ended tonight. A handful of them have fall races and may just come down anyway and run their own workouts. I'm welcome to join he added but there's no coach and they'll just make it up as they go along. Dunno, sounds like a good idea. I might be down on meeting some new people and continuing my track workouts. Spoke to Coach Duane before I left, he recommended longer intervals for the stuff I'm doing; 1600s, 800s and 400s. Maybe I'll download some track workouts online too.

Anyone know of a good site? First thing that comes to my mind is Runnersworld.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

New Template

So here it is. Nothing groundbreaking, in fact you've probably seen this layout many times on other blogs, might even be the template of your own blog. It's been about 3 years since I launched my blog and I'm surprised how blogger has made it so much easier to customize minor things. I know very little html but I did manage to make the content area a little wider. Slightly bigger pictures:)

Was Bob the only one waiting with bated breath for the changes:) Ha, well it took awhile because I went on a great run on Saturday and it took the rest of the afternoon and early evening to recover. Then I went on another great run today. It was a great weekend of running. I tell ya I'm enjoying the focus on simply running, no swimming, no biking, just running.

The lush beautiful soft trails of Mt. Tamalpais. Ran with a couple of new friends on Saturday. Tell you guys all about it next time.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Time for a Change?

You know I'm sitting here on a somewhat windy and cool Friday afternoon, getting ready for a run and thinking that maybe it's time to change the look of this here blog. I'm done with the brown and beige I think and the non-collapsible archive section is driving me crazy. Stay tuned. Don't be surprised if it looks different next time you visit. I'm worried it won't transition well to the new look. Ah well change is good and it seems right since I'm making some changes in my life right now anyway. Hope you all have a great weekend.

Big shout out to Olga who is starting AC100 this weekend. This run scares me, the kind of fear that tells me that I'd also like the opportunity to start this race one day. You know that fear mixed with excitement. We've talked about it but she's the one lining up on that start line tomorrow. Good luck my friend, hope everything goes well.

Oh and a second shout out to Rob and Eric who are tackling Plain 100. A little longer than 100 miles, no aid stations but you can restock halfway through and no course markings, finding your way is part of the challenge, no crew except at halfway through and definitely no pacers. Nice, a little rough no?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I've got nothing, nothing interesting anyway. Just grinding away, training hard, setting myself up for more great runs at some nice races. Oh Tuesday I showed up at track unmotivated and sluggish and after warm ups I actually looked at the sky and said "I don't know how this workout is going to get done" but I got er dun. 800s, 400s and 200s. It got faster as the distances decreased and the recovery got shorter. I didn't feel any better I just put my head down and used every trick I knew in the book to keep myself mentally motivated. I have to say, I love this track stuff. I wish I had gotten into it sooner. I'm finishing up my third year with track and indeed I'm faster than when I started.

So since I don't have much to share I will take a page from Marcy's game book and post a funny entertaining picture. Enjoy.

B2BThis is like Reno 911 meets Running. This is from this year's Bay to Breakers, where you are supposed to dress up for the run/walk. I went to church with one of these guys. Classic Jason R.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Have You Seen This?

I came home today from my long run and thought I would sneak in some Football watching before I had to clean up and head to church (we meet in the afternoons). What I saw first was this short ad and it made me want to go back out. It was the best thing I saw all afternoon cause the Niners stank it up.

The video is only a minute. Quick load, quick show. I like the music, the views, the message. Filmed in Whistler, British Columbia, this is one of the new Timberland ads. Looks like a nice place to run and hike. I think I need some Canadian running friends to visit:) This is just the kind of stuff that gets me going. This is my Podium, one of them anyway. This will make sense when you see the video.


The official ad mini-site. A higher resolution version of the ad is available here as well as some details in the creation of it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Happy Birthday Sammy!!!

Last night we celebrated my good friend Samantha's birthday. As it turns out she's also training for her first 50k with the Northface program. Sweet Sammy, I'm glad you're enjoying it.

Me: Here is the Northface hydration pack. You can have it if you want it. Free schwag from Western States 06 that I've never used. Happy Birthday.
Samantha: Thanks, so glad you could come, mua!
Me: So I had no idea you were in the Northface Ultra training program and you're running your first 50k?
Samantha: Well we haven't talked in like what, couple of months?
Me: Right, right. You know I'm supposed to work that race but now I'm thinking of doing it. Either way I'll be there.
Jess: Me too.
JP: (Jess' guy) No you're not, your knee is still tweaked.
Jess: awww:(
Samantha: Other people we know will be running the shorter distances.
Me: Jess maybe you can take my place at the aid station if I run it.
Server:Your friends at the bar bought this for you.
Me: Ugh Jaeger, okay I'll take one with you. I'll get one for Jess too, haha. It's your birthday after all.
Me: Uh so who are those three guys in the short shorts and rainbow apparel, more friends of yours Sammy?

DSCN4284Sam and I. Bear with my fuzzy photos. I broke the screen of my new camera at the Tetons so I'm using my old beat up camera that focuses like an ultra runner low on salt.

DSCN4281It wasn't as bad as I remembered it. Jess and I joining Sammy in her bday shot. This pic is for you Marcy, my trashtastic blogger friend.

DSCN4283The surviving members of the party, we did pick up two new members. See those guys in the rainbow sleeveless shirts with the tight short shorts, haha. Well they were working an event for Smirnoff. Something about a coming out of the closet vodka party, at least that was what was conveyed to me. We didn't stay much longer after this shot was taken.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It's Feeling Like Spring

I'm 2.5 weeks into Fall training. It was tough to get going again. Fast twitch muscles had to be reactivated, had to get motivated which was tough because nothing motivates me like a 100-miler in the schedule and there's none left in the year. This is the time of the year where my weight starts to creep up again (swings by 10 pounds, heaviest in the Winter, lightest in the Summer), and the time of the year where my training starts to slack.

Well not this year. I'm at my lightest all year, good news for my legs and the break has reinvigorated me. I signed up for my first Fall A race yesterday and I've got one more A race to sign up for, possibly two. I have to consider the third one carefully because it's the following weekend after the second and I'm supposed to be an aid station captain for that race. A couple of things to consider...

I've been working hard and hitting the weights. My problem knee gets a little sore but hasn't been bothering my runs. I just got back from a run and ran my fastest time for that loop ever - 49:42. I ain't ever got that under 50 minutes. I bolted out the door, running up hill and the first thing out of my mouth, like a gasp, was to exclaim "this feels amazing!!!". Finished faster than I started. Maybe it was Psalm 139:13-14 that I have been meditating in my head and the sounds of Crystal Method in my left ear but I ran fast and hard, didn't look at my watch, let my heart dictate the pace and day dreamed of strong, fast Fall racing. If it stays this good I'll be ready to race again in a month. Cross your fingers with me:)

It's feeling like Spring around here, bring on the Fall races!

• Firetrails 50-miler (Signed Up)
• Quad Dipsea (Signing up tomorrow)
• NorthFace 50-miler (Considering...)
Throw in some 50ks for training.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Psalm 139:14
Translation from "The Message" by Eugene Peterson

...Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother's womb.
I thank you, High God – you're breathtaking!
Body and Soul, I am marvelously made!....

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

Let's test that last line shall we, yet again!