Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Finish at the Quad Dipsea

Spectacular day at the Quad Dipsea race yesterday. Good weather, great turnout. I had a good race, a personal best taking 35 minutes off of my previous best time. Here's a couple of videos that my cousin Bing took. The first one is of the race start, you get to see the front runners all the way to the back of the pack. The second one is of me coming through the halfway point. Third and last is of me finishing. Check out that finishing time!

No results up yet, but I'll have that, a race report and pictures coming up next.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone

So many things to be thankful for, not enough words for all the emotions for all the memories. For the sake of brevity I'll just talk about two:

I'm thankful for all the great friends and family in my life. You picked me up when I was down, which was several times this year; blog friends, running friends, tri-club friends, work friends, church friends, everyone. Shout out to my pals Jess, Tonya and Olga. Jess I love how you listen to my misadventures with women and take my side all the time even when I'm wrong. Oh wait I forgot, in the wine bar, I'm never wrong. I remember now. Tonya love our once every two months catch up dinners. Enjoyed the work talk, life except when you get all Dr. Ruth on me. Let's take that down a notch because I realized deep down, it makes me queasy. Olga thanks for all the kind words, all the way from Oregon. Congratulations on your engagement! I better visit Oregon and the "gorge" soon.

And I'm thankful for the health and ability to run. Many people can't run. Many running friends can't run because of some injury or another and several more running injured. Thank you God for running!

Nice face Jess! Friends, my cousin (visiting from Manila) and I, got started early on the Thanksgiving holiday celebration. At Poleng Lounge last night. Good food, good service and great drinks. I'd comeback for the Ceviche alone.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Javelina Jundred

PJ, J~Mom and Mr. Bob Gentile during the pre-race briefing.

Tony, Leigh and Bob, ready to roll. Tony the New Yorker was quite comfortable in the cool morning while most had their layers on.

01. Kudos
02. Volunteer Report
03. Videos
04. Photos
05. Tony's Videos

Javelina Jundred Awards
This connects to the race blog with pictures of the winning runners in the different categories including best costume.

Javelina Jundred Results

One day in October I got an email from J~Mom saying that she had a dream that Bob and I were working on her roof and that it was a sign that I'm suppose to be there to join in on the fun at Javelina. As crazy as that sounded I called Bob at lunchtime to see if he needed a pacer, he said no but mentioned that his buddy Anthony may need one. An hour later we were on a conference call and Anthony offered to pay for my airline ticket to Arizona if I paced him. The rest is history. Those are some dreams J~Mom and I'm glad you kept pushing for me to come over.

I enjoyed my time there so much that now I'm seriously thinking of participating in this race next year. If my body holds together, better than it did this year, then I would definitely come and run this race. This year I had planned on three 100-mile races but after the second one it was clear that my left knee wouldn't let me do another one, not the way I want anyway. Walking the last 23 miles of the Tahoe Rim Trail race was like eating Chinese food with one chopstick. This is mainly the reason why I'm hitting the weights hard now, paid for sessions with an excellent trainer and have been slowly upping my overall weekly mileage. If I'm trashed at the end of the year I may still just come to hangout anyway. Next year it will be on Halloween!



Thanks to the race organization for putting on an excellent event. There were a couple of hiccups but I thought overall it was a great event. The schwag bag runners got was filled with goodies customized with the race logo: Moeben arm sleeves, bandana, long sleeve technical shirt and a water bottle. The buckle is quite nice too. Bob I wouldn't frame it, I would wear it but it is your first one.

Much thanks to George Velasco and Leigh Corbin who let us set up our site in front of their tent. George had come prepared, besides the tent he had a cot, 2 folding chairs and a lamp for the evening/morning hours. They welcomed other runners and their crew who set up wih us. George it was very good to see you again, it's been too long. The last time I saw George was when he crewed and I paced for Olga at Rio del Lago back in 2006.

A huge shout out to J~Mom and her posse, the East Side Cool Kids Triathlon Club. They came out in force to support their superstar runner, Paulette, who was running her first 100-miler. They had their own tent with about a dozen people in attendance. Paulette had a small army, changing, feeding and pacing her. We were welcome in their festivities and at night a place by their fire. When a friend of ours needed a pacer they provided one of their own. Congratulations Paulette and ESCK Triathlon for your amazing accomplishment.

Much kudos to Dusty and J~Mom for crewing and pacing Bob. He couldn't have done it without you guys.

Good fun hanging with Eric Burr, Brian Gaines and the other volunteers working the event. No event without volunteers! Eric would later pace Leigh Corbin after working all day.

Lastly thanks Anthony for a great time out there. I'm glad I came out to crew and pace. Congratulations on another 100-mile finish. Through you I met Chris, Susan and Lori and now I'm thinking of heading East to run with you guys in 09. I'm thinking Vermont 100-mile. I had such a great time I'm thinking of coming back to Javelina and seeing you guys in Vermont.

You'd think I placed in this race or even ran it the way I'm going on. Nope neither, just hella had a freakin good time.

Javelina Jundred Volunteer Report

What a roller coaster ride! From the first day to our last goodbyes it was another memorable ultra event. Old friends, new friends and a great setting for a deceptively hard and wicked 100+ mile run. I had so much fun I suffered withdrawal symptoms:) You know you walk around days afterwards, remembering something, laugh and wish the good time wasn't over so quickly. Now I'd like to do the race myself next year.

It's a bit more than a 100 miles, I heard 101.1 to 101.3, but not a lot of elevation change and on very runnable trails which actually causes a lot of people to under estimate the race. As you can imagine another mile matters when you're cranky and tired. I spoke with Dave Combs who has handled the timing for the race and he told me that about 80% of the runners go out too fast, about 30-45 minutes faster than they planned. Many people either drop or stop at the 100k mark. The loop format and the fact that 100k runners are also eligible for the buckle makes it easy for many runners to drop out. The start at 6AM when temperatures are still nice and cool only adds fuel to the desire to go out too hard and fast. The race course consists of 6 x 15.34-mile loops with runners reversing direction after each loop and one final 8.7-mile loop for the finish. It's single track and fire roads, not too technical and many participants opted to use their road shoes although there is an approximately 3-mile rocky section that has given some of the runners some grief. If you hate rocks you'd love this section. If you're suffering from blisters you'd heart x2 this section. It's not what I would call a hilly trail run although those hills will hurt on the second half of the race. Despite all that the finishing rate for this years race, 72 finishers out of 147 starters! I'm with the popular theory that many people go out too fast. I don't know what else it could be.

This would be an easy race to run without crew or pacer. You come to the start / finish area so often you have frequent access to your gear. Many runners simply had their bag o' stuff waiting for them at the end of each loop. The aid stations (3) was stocked with food and beverages. Curiously though, in the middle of the night, the main aid station at the start and finish area had no chicken soup, ran out of pizza, and only had leftover fare from earlier in the day. I saw only one volunteer working at the time too. Maybe there was a missed assignment, it's the first time I've seen that in a 100. Thankfully the ESCK triathlon club who was camped on the other end of the finish area had leftover pizza for my runner.

From Phoenix Skyharbor airport the drive to our hotel was about 45 minutes, from our hotel to McDowell Mountain Park was just another 25 minutes. From the race site it was a short drive to a Safeway and fast food chains in the area. The Safeway was great for supplies, ice and food healthier than what you would get at the usual fast food chains. It also had a Starbucks. I'm a Peet's Coffee guy myself but I'll take Starbucks over most coffee served in restaurants and hotels if Peet's isn't available.

Wear gaiters! The trails are sandy and gravely. I forgot my gaiters and had my low-cut Drymax socks. I had debri inside my shoe and inside my socks the whole time I paced Tony. Miraculously I only had one small blister on one of my toes undoubtedly caused by the sand and debri. I did have to empty my shoes and socks after every loop. That was a genius move forgetting the gaiters. Sometimes I stop and think to myself, "how did you get this far?". This was one of those moments.

Drink lots of fluids and watch your salt. The warmest it got out on the course was 78 degrees fahrenheit but it felt warmer than that. It felt hotter when the sun hit you directly. Lather up on the sunscreen unless you are one of those folks who don't fear skin cancer and thinks that sunscreen messes with your pores and sweating. I highly recommend a bandana. Ice bandanas during a hot day are a Godsend. They are easy enough to make and if you don't know how there is bound to be a volunteer who can help you. Think ice burrito wrapped around your neck where it makes the most good - icing those jugulars.

Susan getting some help with her ice bandana from Lori, her crew and pacer. You can see Tony fiddling with his in the background.

The temperature dropped a lot during the night, coldest in the hours right before sunrise. I have no specific reading but it felt like it dropped to the low 50s. I run in the evening fog of San Francisco all the time and it felt like that. Tony and I only had our long sleeves and we got quite cold on loop 6, approximately between the hours of 2-6AM. Curiously there were pockets of warm air that moved through the course and we stopped on more than one occasion to catch these warm drafts.

Halloween costumes are encouraged in this race.

At one point during the night I brought over some folks to meet "Wonder Woman", they ooh'd and ahh'd and a couple of the ladies squeeze his padded boobs. I think he enjoyed it even though he was busy eating, drinking and getting ready for another loop. He ran the race with no crew and no pacer, just his black duffel waiting for him at a table at the end of every loop. Many runners followed this format. He would finish 21:05, best male costume, and would make his 7am flight back to San Francisco.

Totally friendly, relaxed, easy going and low-key. Because of the loop format most of the spectators, crew, pacers and volunteers were all at one location it made for a festive day and a not so lonely night. I joked with the ESCK folk that I wished I wasn't pacing so I could continue hanging out by their fire and socialize all night. Tents were allowed for the entire event and some runners camped instead of booking a room at a motel. Personally I like my hot showers in the morning but I've done the camp and race thing myself and I've enjoyed that as well.

In between Bob and Tony's loops I got meals and supplies but for the most part I was just hanging out at the race site. I was like a top spinning to and fro. If socializing was an event in ultra like swimming and biking is an event in triathlon then I would place in the races all the time. I spent my time checking in on the runners I knew, meeting new people, talking with my fellow crew members, taking pictures, crewing for Bob, Tony and anyone else who needed it.

Tony's race was great the first two loops, his pace was right on, not too fast and not too slow. He was running with fellow east coast runner's Susan and her husband Chris along with Arizona local Paulette (PJ). However, somewhere on the third loop his stomach went south. "He's not eating" was the report I got from Paulette. That's bad, nothing increases your potential for a full meltdown like not taking in calories. Needless to say I was a little worried and after waiting for a bit at the timing matt I walked into the course to wait for him. Sure enough after about a half hour or so I see him with Susan, Chris had dropped back because of the heat.

Despite his protests to rest for a bit, I managed to get him to sit down for a few minutes while I filled his water bottles with Gatorade, prepared an ice bandana and got him something to eat. He needed to get out of the heat, stop moving for awhile and tank up on calories. Both he and Susan left together and I hoped he could continue taking in his calories.

Next time I saw Tony it was already dark, the temperatures were much cooler and he had recovered from his low point hours earlier. He was feeling good. He managed to stay together with Susan and Chris would come in only a few minutes later. He was able to catch up after falling behind earlier in the day. All three were in good spirits heading into the night. Chris was running sans a pacer but Lori was there for Susan, I was there for Tony and we all left as a group. I calculated in my head the times Tony needed to complete the remaining loops in order to come under 24 hours which was his main goal. From my first mile with him I pushed. I laid the plan out and told him what he needed to do to achieve sub-24. The first couple of miles were good but he would end up having trouble breathing because of some chest pain suffered from a fall earlier. After our first loop it became clear that we wouldn't make sub-24 so we settled on plan B, finish as close to 24 as possible. I let up on the pressure and focused to keep his spirits up. I ended up running/walking in front so I could guide him through the rocky, technical sections of the trail. This worked great in the beginning but not so much in the later miles when he started to fall behind.

Tony and Bob clowning around at race packet pickup.

The next loop was his darkest. We got cold because we didn't bring our shells and he was starting to sleep walk. Coke and Mountain Dew was no longer keeping him awake and the one caffeine pill I gave him didn't do the trick. As I kept traveling in front to call out obstacles, he kept falling back further and further which made him feel isolated and sleepy. Eventually he would call me back to keep him awake with conversation. Around this time I strongly suggested for him to take a nap at the next aid station, just a 10-15 minute quick doze. A quick one to reset, restart his brain. It didn't escape our notice that a couple of runners who were napping when we got to the last aid station had come back stronger and pushed past us. However by the time we had gotten to the next aid station he naturally woke up on his own. We joked that he would start sleep walking again a mile out of the station. Deep, deep, down he found new strength and we slowly came out of that hole.

As we left for our final loop I was battling some pain in my upper right quad muscle, just under the hip flexor. Strange pain, I had never had anything like it. Tony offered to go on his own without me, I laughed at him. Gracious but unnecessary. Sure it hurt but these guys hurt more. Besides how embarrassing would that be? DNFing my pacing duties. I would never let myself live that down. I would only pull out as a pacer if I became a hindrance to my runner. The last loop felt very long, mostly because we were anticipating the end. When you anticipate it only makes things harder, every minute you are not where you want to be only makes you more anxious and angry. I told Tony we need to stop thinking and just keep moving. The way back down from the top of the hill and the last aid station was mostly a run. It was hard for Tony but he did it and because of his hard work we didn't have to run like crazy in the final miles to beat 27 hours. He came in at 26:40. When we got in I looked like the runner and he my pacer. The pain wasn't too bad when we were running but seized up again at the finish. Nothing a little ice and Ben Gay patches didn't help. I already know what caused it and if I'm right it won't bother me in the future. It has something to do with my stride. My running stride is short but my fast walking stride is long. All the fast walking strained the muscle. Just a minor strain and nothing crazy. Tony kept apologizing for the slower pace and I told him he was being foolish.

Bob came out with guns blazing. He came in much faster than anticipated on his first loop running with Leigh. Looking at his eyes I saw wild eyed excitement, you know that look that says "wow that was freakin great". I'm glad he had a great time but it was only the first 15 miles! I counseled him to slow down and had him sitting at the aid station for awhile before heading back out for loop two. Bob knows his body best and he felt he could have kept going at a faster pace than we had planned but I wanted him to stick to the plan. I played it on the conservative side because I wanted him to finish more than anything else. Besides I felt he could always go faster once the sun came down if he felt good but not before. He looked very good during the day, despite the heat. Eyes were always clear and animated, speech was always coherent and upbeat. His composure continued like this into the night despite the onset of some heinous blister problems. Tony stepping on them was no help either:)

Bob was also fortunate to have had two great pacers, Dusty and J~Mom and they kept him going all through the night.

Bob and his superstar pacers.

Our new friend from ESCK Tri was having a phenomenal race while all of this was going on. Reading her report I now have a clue of how she was really feeling but from the outside looking in she looked just fine. No more the worse for wear in a 100-mile race. You're supposed to look a little twisted, beat, and in the later miles, ready to finish. She dug deep and finished. Sorry PJ, that was me who was putting ideas into your crew's head about finishing under 24 hours. I didn't know this caused you more stress!

PJ had the best support crew I've ever seen in a race, any race. She had an aid station all to herself with lots of volunteers and wiling pacers. PJ you are one lucky, spoiled runner:)

Tony and PJ at the start, PJ is in her "Rainbow Brite" costume. Did I say that right PJ? Who is Rainbow Brite?

Jen and Josh giving PJ's feet a little tlc.

Sore upper right quad, one tiny blister on my left pinky toe. Iced the quad right afterwards and Tony gave me some Ben Gay patches, it was fine by the next day. Weird problem to have. It hasn't bothered me since and I've been running, doing lunges with the medicine ball and squats, no problem. I was using my Drymax socks and they came through for me even though I had no gaiters and had to empty my shoes and socks periodically from all the debris. Considering all the junk in my socks and shoes I was very lucky. If I end up doing this race in the future, gaiters and Drymax's trail socks, which are specifically built to keep junk out of the sock itself is a must.

What an exceedingly good time that was. Thank you Javelina and to all the runners and volunteers. Kudos ESCK Triathlon Club. Mahalo Arizona.

One last final shout out to fellow bay area runner Marissa "Scrappy" Walker for finishing her first 100-mile ultra. Way to go Marissa!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Still Kickin' My Butt...

After all this time. This fine Saturday morning, cool, sunny and no wind, I had the pleasure of running with my friend Stephen Goldmann and "Little Goldmann". Despite living in the same city and having the same passion for running, I haven't spent time with Stephen in a very long time. I know it's long because the last time I saw him "little man" was not walking yet and now he's 19 months old. Crazy how time flies, crazier how we let a lot of time pass before catching up with good friends.

The first time I used a pacer it was Stephen who paced me and the race was the Miwok 100k in 2006. Towards the end of the race when I was exhausted, whining and being chased by a yelling Georgia Gibbon "rickeeee I see you!", Stephen took control of the situation and gave me the tough love I needed. Tired with my deteriorating pace he said, "I'm going to run in front of you and you follow". At one point he was as much as 15 yards in front of me but I followed. He made me cut down on my walk breaks the animal. Donald, Anthony, you can thank Stephen for my pacing style. It's not for everyone, works for me though.

And today he was doing it to me again despite pushing a stroller, "c'mon this is good preparation for your race next week, keep up the intensity on your taper". Despite being faster with all the training and racing...he dropped me at a nice long flat stretch in Golden Gate Park. Thanks man, you can pace me anytime:)

Now I'm going to prepare some lunch. Some scrambled eggs, whole wheat toast and bananas for my bruised ego and tired legs. I was kidding about the ego but the legs are tired. Catching up on sleep this weekend will be good too.

I hope you all are having a great weekend.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Animal Behavior

We are animals. I didn't leave for my run until 8:30 this evening because I was buried in work, still buried, but I finally managed to get out for a bit. A beautiful cool night. The last two miles is mostly uphill back to my apartment in downtown. I came upon a runner who was walking, looking exhausted. Hearing me come up behind him, he looks back and takes off. Without thinking about it I shot out after him. Like a predatory animal I chased, mmm prey. When I passed him I said hello and we had the nicest conversation. As he started to fall back we exchanged names and bid each other a good night. Five blocks later I met up with his friend who was waiting for him. We had a quick laugh about him lagging behind. Chasing and socializing on a nice Wednesday night. Now I can get back to my work with renewed vigor.

I'm still working on my volunteer report, just super busy with work now. I came home to several projects ready to start. It was really slow and now it's really busy. All good things, I'm thankful to have work.

News Flash

From Tropical John, RD Quad Dipsea

Quad Dipsea Volunteers Needed
Volunteers are still needed at the 26th annual Quad Dipsea on Saturday, Nov. 29. We still have slots available for traffic monitors, aid station volunteers, and post-race clean-up folks. Come help your fellow runners totally abuse themselves, and get some cool swag in the process. (volunteers at Quad get the same stuff as the runners do)

Let us know what your availability is:
8 a.m. to noon, noon to 5 p.m., all day or Sunday morning (post-race clean up)
Contact me if you can help out.

Aloha, Tropical John (RD):

Monday, November 17, 2008

Javelina Jundred Videos

I was going to compile everything into one post; videos, pictures and volunteer report. However that would take too long and I want to share these videos with you all now. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

ESCK Triathlon Club's superstar runner, PJ, zooming by, finishing her 3rd loop and 45+ miles. This was her first 100-mile ultra and she finished 26:11. It was a rough day with only 72 finishers out of 147 starters. Many runners under estimate this course.

ESCK Triathlon Club members entertaining us while we waited for our runners to come back from their loops. J~Mom showing how it's done, got a little bit of Jen doing the robot too. This is why it's sometimes more fun to volunteer and crew than to race.

Bob finishing the race! Look at all that love from his pacers, Dusty and J~Mom.

Bob doing the "squat test" Monday morning before we headed to the airport. There is no required squat test for ultra runners, this is Bob's own special masochistic test for himself:) Bob way to go, you finished the race and not looking too bad the day after.

Still Here

Still in Arizona, waiting at the airport. Anthony should be on his way back to New York and Bob back to Florida. This is the part I hate the most, the waiting and slow trip home. I'm writing my report and leaving funny comments on people's blogs. It was a great weekend. I met a lot of new people and finally got to meet J~Mom in person. The first time and last time I was here was to run the Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim, that and our 2 hours in Flagstaff was my only experience with Arizona - glad to have added to that this weekend. This time we were in Mc Dowell Mountain Park, a mere hour away from Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport and the location of Javelina Jundred. A beautiful place to run at night. In the 4 days I've been here I've experienced two sunsets and one sunrise (out on the course with Tony). Freakin beautiful!!! Those of you who know me well know how I love my coastal and mountain trails, my trees, fog and rain but these views also took my breath away. The sky was so clear, the temperatures this time of the year is not too hot for this San Franciscan and the light on the mountains from the rising or fading sun was spectacular.

I can see myself participating in this race in the future. The loop course is not as flat as I thought it would be and race management worked hard to make this a special experience for everyone. The locals are friendly, they don't bite and will share their fire with you if you are nice in return. J~Mom and the East Side Cool Kids Triathlon Club rocks.

I crewed, paced, socialized my way through this weekend. I'm tired, a bit loopy and ready for home and my own bed. I'm not proud to say that I've out eaten both Tony and Bob despite having only completed 40 miles of the course pacing while both successfully finished the 100-mile event. I even injured myself to the point that I looked worse than Tony when we finished. I looked like the runner and Tony the pacer. It's fine now, for the most part but I was limping around after the race. I have lots of pictures, some funny videos and a volunteer report to come. Ya'll have to give me a couple of days however. I laugh now as I remember some of the high points and even the low points don't seem so bad now.

Okay one more bathroom stop before boarding.

Made it home safe, tired, happy and sorry the event had to come to an end. Had such a great time I'm thinking of participating in the race myself next year. Look at what was waiting for me in the mail. Quad here I come. PS the volunteer report make take a little while. I've been chatting it up with my new Arizona friends on Facebook:)


Thursday, November 13, 2008

An Excellent Full Moon Night

It's warmed up again here in San Francisco despite it being dark by 5pm now. I don't know what's going on but I'm not complaining. I posted my evening run on the triathlon club calendar and I had three takers and it turned out to be an amazing night. My run was just okay but everything else was phenomenal. No fog, no wind, clear skies and a full moon, if you've been here you know what a huge blessing that is. Got to catch up with these three friends and there was no need for lights, many runners were out doing the same thing. We made it all the way to Fort Point which is underneath the Golden Gate bridge on the San Francisco side and there illuminated by bridge and moonlight were two surfers catching waves, their moving silhouettes being followed by the bright white foam from the chasing surf. It was quite a sight. We were there for a good 10 minutes watching these guys paddle out and catch waves with the lights of the city just beyond them calling us back. I could have stayed there for 10 more. With Julia and Lara getting hungrier by the mile as we headed back we planned for a meal afterwards. Picked a place with outdoor seating and chomped away, a little food to go with our conversation.

I know it won't be a full moon come Javelina this weekend but I think it'll still be pretty bright. I'll be crewing for Bob and Anthony, along with J~Mom, Dusty and a couple more folks I have yet to meet. Then I'll be pacing Anthony from 60 miles onward. He's got some big goals for this run and I hope I can help him achieve them. I will certainly do my best - my main big job for the weekend. The 40 miles will be a perfect last long run in preparation for my last two races. It will be flat but it'll be okay, I've been running the hills of Mt. Tam the last two weekends. It will be at night which I love anyway and I'll get to see all the costumed runners including some good friends from the bay area also participating in the race.

I'll leave you with some pictures from my birthday celebration. Next up, fun pics from Javelina. Cross your fingers with me!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Playing and Training Hard

"Karyn what are you doing down there?!"

The group looks up and I recognized two other people, her husband Mike and Jerome, there was also another runner with them who I didn't know.

There's a section of the Dipsea trail that is off limits due to a slide that happened early last year that has yet to be repaired. It's tricky navigating that section especially that there is now a large pipe going through there that you have to scramble over. These days I just prefer to run the short detour on the road that runs above the trail to bypass the whole thing, the same detour that most people use. Besides no one is supposed to be down there, there is a sign informing runners and hikers not to proceed down the trai. I was running with the Northface training group Saturday morning, runners who are training for the 50k / 50-mile event in December. I was supposed to train on the Dipsea again but I decided to join my friend Samantha and get in on the group fun. I was looking for some company on my weekend long run. As it turned out I would have had a lot of company on the Dipsea anyway. There were a good number of runners training on the course for the Quad event, at least for the brief moment that we were on the trail. The Northface group had it's own routes and it utilized part of the Dipsea.

So yeah there I was, running with folks, looking down on the washed out / ruined part of the trail from above and saw these guys clambering over the obstacles. I thought, "must be some of the trail newbies from the group who didn't know you were supposed to take the detour instead", but I was wrong haha! Just a group of ultra veterans ignoring signs and clambering over stuff like kids. We talked for a bit at a trail intersection where our group rejoined the Dipsea. It was a brief meeting and then they took off, they were moving fast. Had I been there by myself I doubt I could have latched on to their train, not after the night of celebrating that I had...oy, more on that later. Despite following right behind them with our group, they were out of earshot in a couple of minutes.

Mt. Tam 11.8 010.jpg
Admiring the scenery and thinking to myself, "I will never, ever over indulge on wine the night before a long run again, especially one that starts early in the morning". Photo courtesy of Sammy.

Mt. Tam 11.8 001.jpg
Yours truly, with Keira and Jenny in the background. Photo courtesy of Sammy.

Mt. Tam 11.8 006.jpg
Sammy and Jenny.

The run itself with the Northface group was a lot of fun. Start / Finish was the parking lot at Pantoll ranger station. There was a water fountain and bathrooms. The coaches had planned out a three loop course, each one exploring different areas and had each loop finish back at parking lot. The weather was foggy in the morning and showers in the early afternoon - great running weather. After two consecutive of weekends of running at Mt. Tam I've decided that for next year I'm going to do most of my training there and take the time to learn all the different trails. I know some but not many. Mt. Tam is further North than my usual training grounds in the Marin Headlands and usually by the time I make it there it's already time to head back to San Francisco. I'll just bus it up there and not waste any miles running from the city to the trailheads. While the southern part of the Marin Headlands is much more exposed, less trees and more shrubbery - which makes for great views, Mt. Tam's trails are tree covered, lush, fern lined in some parts quite technical. I'm enjoying the change of terrain and eager to extend my knowledge of the area. Jan, Feb and March should be wet and cold months, might as well be with the trees.

The birthday celebration the night before was a lot of fun and I was well behaved the whole time. I remember everything:) It was after the party was over however did I sit in the bar and tossed down a few with my friend Karen who was the last survivor of the night. Drinking wine too much too quickly is never a good idea for me but come 6:30AM I was dressed and ready to be picked up for the run. Good to know I'm still not too old to do something stupid and survive it gracefully....somewhat gracefully. It only hurt for an hour into the run but my legs felt tired and heavy the whole time. They are ready for the taper. Recently I've also been working with a great trainer in my gym. She has gotten me off the machines and more into exercises that not only strengthen my muscles but improve my balance and shore up my core. She had me do "air squats" and "twisting lunges" with a medicine ball on Thursday, amongst other things, which I still felt on the legs Saturday. Heck my whole body was still sore on Saturday; arms, shoulders, back, core and legs. She's cute and a taskmaster and I would recommend her to anyone. A big plus that she's also a runner, devising workouts that will hopefully increase my speed and stability. The training sessions was a gift to myself, you know for the birthday thing. It's kickin' my behind big time and I'm excited because every weakness she finds I have an opportunity to address. Fortunately the running on Sunday was better and I got to do a little speed work, got in a few accelerations that felt great.

Lastly, Happy Veteran's day. I have a lot of respect and love for our military, a sentiment that was already there before I came to live in this great country.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me

Ah yes, another year and I do feel a bit wiser. Now if I can just remember the lessons of this year so I can do better for the next. Thank God it doesn't put me in another age group in the trail races. Those guys in the next age group are FAST! Makes me shake my head every time I think about it.

Anyway over the years I've gotten into the habit of not celebrating the birthday thing and I've been guilty for saying something after the day has gone and past:) I still don't really feel the need to celebrate. As I posted last year:

"Since I got into ultra-marathons and triathlons I found even less need to celebrate the day. This will sound corny but since I've gotten involved in these sports I feel like I'm continually celebrating my life. "

It's true but I am doing much better these days. After all, as it was graciously pointed out, it's not all about me. It's also about family, friends and having another excuse to get together and have fun. It's about giving people the chance to say, "hey happy birthday, I hope it's a good day". It's about letting people in and having them mark the day with you.

So besides declaring it publicly I am also going to celebrate a bit, who knows I may like it and will want to do it again next year.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Done Voting

And the Elections are finally done! No more campaign ads, television, radio or mail. The post person is probably a lot happier. I certainly didn't enjoy getting all that mail in support of this proposition or that proposition. I'd also like to thank all those in my neighborhood who voted early or by mail, you guys made Tuesday painless. I showed up with a book, ready for the long wait and to my surprise, a short wait - less than an hour.

Tuesday was the second time I voted this week. Monday was the elections for our triathlon club. Much thanks to the outgoing board, thanks Jennie for being our Social Director this year. Big congratulations to Julia our new club pres and the rest of the gang. I know most of the folks in the new board and I think it's going to be a fun year next year. For starters the new run lead will also be running the Northface ultra with me in December. Maybe I can talk him into leading more trail runs for next year, that would be fun. Since my last triathlon back in May, I've been MIA in the club, something I plan to rectify for next year.

Ironically my break from triathlon is now official. I've told my tri friends that I'm done bouncing between ultra-marathoning and triathlon and that I've decided to focus on running. I've declared it publicly. I'm done with liberal arts and have decided to pick my major so to speak. Oh I'll still swim and bike, especially the bike but no more triathlon races, at least for the next 2 years or so.

Done voting for awhile.

P.S. Thanks for all the comments on the last post. Blogger won't let me leave comments on my own blog. I'm locked out.

Hanging with my good friend Julia who is now our new club pres. I'm trying to score extra drink tickets for future social events, pays to rub elbows with those in the know:) Julia is a pal who has given me many a ride home from track and has invited a dozen other people to my birthday celebration tomorrow.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Wet and Muddy

The view outside my bus, you can barely see the Golden Gate Bridge. It made me think of my warm bed.

Downtown Mill Valley, this is pretty much it. There's some shops behind me and on the right more shops and the local grocery market but for the most part this is it. This is the town square. The street on the left, take a left on it and 1/8 of a mile down you'll be at Old Mill Park, the start and finish of the Quad Dipsea - going on it's 26th year.

It was a gloriously wet, windy and muddy day on the Dipsea trail Saturday. Frankly I was surprised how well the trails have held up since it had been raining since Thursday. It rained the whole time I was out there, all 7 hours of it. There was only one section where the mud was thick enough that I was slipping and sliding for a bit. For those of you in the know, it's the short downhill section as you're heading towards the wooden foot bridge and into the parking lot of Muir Woods as you are heading back to Mill Valley. The rocks, roots and wooden steps along the trail were definitely slippery and that more than the mud was what slowed me down considerably. I was thinking 1.5 hours for each crossing for a total of 6 hours for the entire run but slowing down and ultimately taking an hour longer was probably the smartest thing to do. Twisting an ankle or suffer some crash related injury would have totally sucked especially 4 weeks from the race. My legs were definitely feeling it on the last crossing. Having to check my speed on the down hills was a lot of work on the quads and all the dancing around obstacles wore me out but it's all good training in the end. Imagine traveling down a flight of small stairs which you could take 2 or 3 at a time but you are forced to take them one single step at a time the whole way, move left to right as you come down. It's kind of like that, slower, safer but a lot more work.

In addition to the rain, wind and mud was the heavy fog that covered the whole area. Thick fog that took out the views and made you feel isolated and alone. It was eerie and beautiful all at the same time. Because of the weather it was quiet on the trails for the most part, most of the people I saw was on the first double crossing. There was a trail race earlier in the day but it was mostly done by the time I was running. The trail runners I saw actually outnumbered the hikers:) Ran into a runner I actually knew, Karalee Morris, heading the other way with three other runners. Undoubtedly training for the Quad Dipsea. She's a fast one. I haven't seen much of her this year, caught up with her for the first time at Firetrails three weekends ago. Last year I raced with her three times and finished behind her each time. At the Quad Dipsea I finished way, way behind. Her 7:37 at American River 50 last year was particularly impressive too. She's one of a dozen or so runners who has inspired me the last couple of years to work harder and race better. My recent obsession on speed is largely due to these friends and their great performances; Kevin Swisher, Scott Dunlap, Will Gotthardt, Brian Wyatt, and Donald Buraglio just to name a handful more in addition to Karalee.

Striving to always stay inspired, always chasing.

On this last photo, the young Redwood trees, there were a couple of runners so taken of the view that they stopped running and laid down on the slope clutching their water bottles, oblivious to the rain and mud around them. If I knew them I would have joined them for a bit.

By the time I finished the lights in the surrounding homes were already on; inviting warm yellows and oranges to the surrounding cold blues, blacks and grays that I was moving through. The smell of firewood burning was in the air and it made me think of warm blankets and cold beer. By the time I finished cleaning up and changing in the park bathroom the street lights were already on, the rain hadn't stopped but the cafes were still open. A good thing because I was starving. After 7 hours of energy drink and energy gel I was hungry for some real food. I had to apologize profusely for my very, very wet money though. It was inside the pack but the whole thing was soaked. Maybe my next one will have waterproof compartments. As I walked around I really felt the coming of Winter and the Holidays. No more Indian Summer weather and on to Northern California Winter weather.

I'm back again next week for another Quad crossing. Next week I'll talk a little bit about the history of the trail and races held there. If it's not raining I'll take pictures of an interesting set of stairs on the Mill Valley side. This is old hat to some of you but you may still find it interesting.

I forgot to add, the new gear works nicely. The Vasque VSTs worked like they should, water drained well in the shoe, no sloshing around in there and the treads kept me on the trail. The Drymax socks, despite being soaked for most of the run also worked. Not a single blister. What I would do differently for next time however, for days like this, is to wear the trail version. I used their regular running sock, cut low and ended up with a lot of junk inside the sock. The trail sock goes up to the ankle and keeps stuff from getting in.