Sunday, September 27, 2009


So on my last post I said something about the weather being a bit schizophrenic and how it seemed like it was always cold when I was running, well not Saturday. I was up North again where I usually am on the weekend and yeow it got warm out there. I headed out with Jon and Jochen, Jon turned back early after two hours because he needed to attend to his own birthday lunch but Jochen and I kept going and we suffered on the run back to San Francisco. We both run at night and have been enjoying the foggy weekends at the Headlands so we were not sure if it was just us or the weather, maybe both. We ran into East Bay runners Victoria, Suzanne and Jasper and I'd like to get their take since they are used to the heat in the East Bay. We were a wreck before the run was over and was pretty destroyed by the time we were across the bridge, so much so that we ended our run at the end of the bridge and walked ourselves another 30 minutes to a bus stop for a ride home. It took us 8.5 hours to travel 32 miles. To put this in perspective, my best 50k (31-miles) in the Headlands area is 4:37, my time at Firetrails 50-mile last year - 7:56. Sure you go slower in training but not that slow.

The whole experience just pointed to the fact that Jochen and I were ill equipped to deal with the heat. I don't know Jon's take on the weather since he turned back early. All three of us are racing Firetrails in October and there is a very good chance it will be warm there too. At least two of us isn't ready for the heat! Well with two weeks left before the race it's a bit late to get some heat training in but I'll see about spending some time in the sauna this upcoming week. I'm not sure it will do much good this close to the race but a little heat tolerance is better than none I'm thinking. It's amazing to me how the body can be incredibly strong and incredibly weak and fragile at the same time. We can get used to certain conditions but only briefly if we don't maintain it.

Next up, a day at Tilden Park. Our triathlon club had a run and swim training day in the East Bay today followed by a bbq. This was my first time training in the East Bay ever. All this time and I've never trained there. Ran into a couple of ultra friends, Brian Wyatt and Jeff Lang. Jeff was wearing a beanie and track pants. I bet he thinks 90 degrees is comfortable. Forget tomorrow, I should hit the sauna now!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Cold Runs, Warm Company

No shortage of good people to run with this fall season. Good company for the cold and foggy days. Seems like more and more folk are taking to the trails, short and long distances. In fact I had just gotten back from a 2 hour with Jochen Horn who lives only a few blocks away. We started late (7:30) and ran towards the bridge and the trails of the Presidio before heading back. It was cold, dark, foggy and perfect. Our headlamps were barely useful in the Presidio, the light scattered by the fog. Jochen is a great runner, put up a phenomenal sub-24 at a hot Western States this year and will also be running the Firetrails 50-miler in October. I sure hope Firetrails won't be warm this year, I have zero heat training!

The weekends have been great, this past weekend I ran with the Endurables, a great running group led by Jim Vernon. The weekend before that Suzanna Bon was in town from Sonoma, Florencia Gascon-Amyx, Pete Hazarian, Jon Gunderson and I joined her for a 5 hour run in the Headlands. We left late then too, 3:30ish in the afternoon and darkness had set in before we left the trails. Jon and I didn't bring our lights but thankfully the others were better prepared. On the way back, crossing the Golden Gate bridge back to San Fran cisco, a guy in a golf shirt, khaki pants and a baseball cap, caught up to and started talking to us. It turned out to be Tom Triumph from New Jersey. I met Tom when I crashed in the Hotel room that he was sharing with friends at the Kettle Moraine 100 last summer. It was quite a surprise, he was just walking on the bridge, in town for a conference. I told him that our little group doesn't usually run together and my long run usually happens much earlier in the day. What a crazy coincidence that was. Still smiling about it. And the past several Sundays I've been running with our triathlon club for the shorter 9-13 mile cluub trail runs to follow up the long stuff on Saturdays. The running has been good I must say with more to come.

The weather has been a bit schizophrenic lately though - warm and sunny one day, cold, foggy in the next and it seems like it's always foggy when I'm out running. We usually have spectacular weather this time of the year and it's either late or it ain't happening at all. Maybe October will be super with the sun just hopefully not on the day of the Firetrails 50.

So yeah just been quietly training hard for my next race, the Firetrails 50-miler which is on the second weekend of October. My favorite 50-mile race and my first back in 2002. Enough hills to make it fun at 8,000 feet of total elevation gain. A variety of surfaces from road to fire road and single track, exposed and covered trails. I didn't expect a long recovery from Headlands but it is what it is. The important thing is that I'm back to my old self again. One more long weekend and it's back to the taper.

Well you all have a great weekend. Soon I'll have more exciting stuff to post, nothing but the grind of training lately but with good company.

Jon leading the way at our Headlands run.

Jon, Suzanna, Florencia and Pete. We didn't quite make it off the trails by the time the sun set on our Headlands run.

Such a bizarre coincidence running into Tom Triumph, we don't even live on the same coast.

The Endurables and a couple of tag alongs, me for one.

Regrouping, waiting for the rest of the gang on Deer Park fire road during a club run.

Enjoying some Guinness and food after a club run at the Pelican Inn at Muir Beach.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Running for the Wells 11k

Saturday morning around 3AM I woke up momentarily from the sounds of thunder and rain. When I got up for good at 5AM I thought it was all just a dream - we don't have thunderstorms in San Francisco. Wrong. Even though they are rare we do have them from time to time. It didn't look good but by 6AM I was in the car with Jon and his wife Wilma headed north to the Marin Headlands.

Thankfully it wasn't that cold and it had stopped raining. The fog was heavy though and low lying. It was pleasant on the valley floor, foggy and blustery at the top of the hills. Days like this you really need to know your trails because there are no visible landmarks. While Jon and Wilma set up the start I took off to mark the course with flour. Do they really want someone who gets lost in races to mark the course? Ha, I made sure to make the arrows large and clear and I would make extra marks on the tricky intersections. It was beautiful out there despite the fog. I got back just before they were about to start.

Jon's parents came and helped with the cooking. His uncles came too to help with the finish line food and the one aid station on the course. Wilma would run the course with friends. There was a lot of food; regular pancakes, chocolate chip pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausages, cereal, milk, orange juice and donuts. Definitely much more than the advertised pancakes and Jon gave every participant Injinji socks courtesy of his sponsor.

Everyone had a great time, the only bummer is that it rained on and off at the finish. Everyone was a trooper though, the cooking kept going and there were no complaints from the runners. People left early however because of the cold so the hang out time in the end was a bit rushed. All in all a successful event for Jon and his family. Donations from this event, including those by folks who didn't run but donated money anyway, exceeded 3K - enough to build one well in Uganda. Pretty cool and it might just turn into an annual thing.

Great job Jon, hopefully you get even more people next year and no rain!

Cool day for a run.

And they are off.

Cooking up breakfast.

Wilma coming in.

Jon with Wilma and his uncles, enjoying pictures from the run.

Click here for the photoset.

Friday, September 11, 2009

From the Unpublished Archive

One of my computers has a folder called "stuff" and inside is all these miscellaneous notes, files, pictures, screenshots and unpublished blog drafts. Periodically I go in there and clean it out a bit. It's like a digital attic or storage closet. I usually find interesting stuff in there that I've forgotten about. This time around I found a couple. One was a folder of images of Madison, Wisconsin, taken when I was in the state for the Kettle Moraine 100 last year. I've already posted that baby to my other blog. Yeah there is another one but it's more for family and relatives, the ones who told me "Rick I've no idea what you talk about half the time. What is RPE, Splits, T1, T2, HRM and so forth? Why is it always about running?! Wouldn't it be better if you work more instead". The other find was this little note here, must have missed it in the previous times I've gone in and deleted stuff - it's from 2006. I wrote it at the beginning of the season. I remember, I was confirmed for my first Western States and especially psyched for the coming year.

January 1/8/06
• Maybe this is the year I finally break the 24 hour mark in a 100 mile race or go 3:30 on the marathon.

• Maybe I follow through with my plans to do track workouts and experience a new breakthrough, I'm not too old for track right? I've never done it.

• Maybe this is the year I don't get lost in any of my races.

• Maybe this is the year I run more than one 100 mile race.

a little maybe goes a long way....

It sure does with work. Well thank God I followed up on those plans! That's why on my blog header it says "there is no finish if you don't start". That actually has nothing to do with races but about training and working hard. About implementing and following through plans. I've always been good at ideas but a little less stellar about implementation and following through. I always catch myself doing what I'm not supposed to be doing and not doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I blurted that tagline when I was hee-hawing around the apartment one day, stalling on a long run workout.

Never did run that marathon. My last marathon was in 04 and it was part of an Ironman race a month after my first hundred - 3:59. I cut it close huh. The last 6-miles I was so hungry I stuffed my mouth with cookies pretzels at each aid station. In an Ironman there is an aid station every mile so you can imagine. I think on mile 24 I running while eating a small bag of pretzels. As for breaking 24 hours in a 100-mile race. It didn't happen until last year. Western States whopped my ass, soundly. I finished but I was a mess. In 07 Bighorn 100 picked up where Western left off and my longest 100 mile yet - 30:22. To be frank, even had there not been a snowstorm the week before the race that made the course sloppy with mud, snow and standing water, I wouldn't have been strong enough to break 24 hours at that time. Now and in a course in excellent condition? Maybe. Later that summer I would come back revived for my first Headlands Hundred but because of an IT Band issue I finished 24:37. It wasn't until last year's Kettle Moraine 100 did I finally break 24 hours. Been working hard to make it happen though since 06.

Started Track, Spin too. Dropped Spin this year since I'm taking a hiatus from triathlon but still in Track. I'm on my fourth year and wishing I had made the plunge sooner. I still get lost in races but a lot less these days. Didn't run another hundred after Western, licked my wounds for the rest of the summer. The following year however I did two 100-mile races in the summer and I've been doing that since.

It was good to see this note, 06 was a pivotal year. I would add to these goals and follow through on them. That's the reason why I've been breaking PR's the last 2 years. Breaking the top 10 on the smaller races was more than I hoped though. All this makes me think; what new plans can I implement now that will help me to go faster? Is it even possible? Has my speed already started to plateau? We shall see.

Ohlone 06, my one and only Ohlone 50k race, I've been a volunteer since. For those of you who ran it this year and the hot year last year I just want to say, it was cold my year. No kidding, it even rained! Myself, new friend at the time, Scott Dunlap, and good friend Jason Arth.

Top of Squaw Valley, first 5 miles of Western States 06. If I knew at that point how much I would suffer later that evening and into the next day I might have just promptly taken my camera back and walked down the trail. Okay that's not true...well maybe.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Shuffling Along

Not much moving on my end which is why I've been somewhat quiet on the blogosphere. Just been recovering. I'm having a prolonged recovery from the Headlands Hundred because I suspect I rushed the recovery or I was just really worn out after two summer 100s - going all out in both of them. Maybe it's both. I don't know how Brian Krogmann or Mark Tanaka does it. I don't know how these other ultra-marathoners roll 100s after another and doing them in a fairly fast time too. It's a mystery to me but I can't worry about that. I will focus my energy on the one person I am an expert at - me.

I was back to running the weekend after Headlands, in fact I was back on the course the following weekend for a 10-miler with friends after an easy week. I went hard on the run, bombing the downhills. The following week I was all sore and achy but by the following weekend I went hard again with friends on a 13 mile run on Mt. Tam/Headlands, bombing yet more sweet downhills. So in consequence I was sore and achy again the following weekend. Yeah I know. I've been going easy since then. Believe me I want to do well on my next race but admittedly I've been less serious with my training and recovery now that I have no hundreds left on the schedule. If this was the beginning of the summer I would have been a penguin with the ice baths and more serious with the stretching. 50-milers are something, so are the 50ks and the Quad Dipsea is merciless to those unprepared but they just don't put the fear of God in me like the hundreds do.

Seems like I'm coming back finally though, hope so because it's been 4 weeks. Had a really, really good run last night, speed and strength almost to pre-HH100 levels. Running was less of a chore and much more enjoyable. Let's hope it wasn't just last night. Mentally I'm also starting to come back as well. The "worn out" feeling wasn't merely physical. Been hitting the gym besides building my mileage back up and getting more serious about stretching. This weekend I have a run planned with Jonathan Gunderson. He'd like to get in 6 hours or so and I'm pretty sure I can handle that now, looking forward to it even. I was supposed to pace him at Angeles Crest 100 later in the month but as some of you already know, the race is now cancelled because of the huge forest fire. I'm trying to convince him to sign up for Javelina. The race was already closed but Jamil Coury, the RD, talked to the park supervisor in charge and he got 50 more slots specifically for the AC100 runners. Other race directors have followed suit, adding slots in their races for the AC100 runners. It's times like these that remind me why I love the ultra running community so much. All for one, one for all.

You all have a great holiday weekend! Careful on the roads you road bikers and road runners.

Hoping that the good weather lately is finally the start of our indian summer in San Francisco. Crossing my fingers for great weather this weekend, for running and picnics/bbqs.