Thursday, February 24, 2011

PCTR Chabot

"All, We have decided to postpone the 2011 Bike Kickoff ride that was schedule for this Saturday due to weather conditions. It's not often that we get forecast of snow in San Francisco."

Smart move by our triathlon club bike director. I can't imagine trying to ride my bike if there was going to be snow on the roads. They actually said that it might be possible for this weekend. Last weekend Mt. Tam got some snow, something that doesn't happen very often either. I didn't get to run on it but I saw photos from members of the Endurables who posted their run pictures on Facebook. I was jealous. I've always wanted to run on Mt. Tam when there was snow for the novelty of it. I opted to stay in San Francisco for a not so hilly 18 miles that Saturday since I was going to be in the East Bay Sunday to run the 30k race of PCTR's Chabot Event. It's all for training anyway but I didn't want really tired legs for Sunday. I was at least able to see the snow on Mt. Tam's hills from a distance when I ran out to the coast and back. I had never seen anything like it in my years in San Francisco.

Lake Chabot Sunday morning.

The Chabot race was quite nice, muddy but great fun. The race venue is similar to the Dick Collin's Firetrails 50-miler which I've run a few times and my favorite 50-mile race in the Bay Area. The early miles is the same and the last several miles is also the same as Firetrails. PCTR offered a 10k, 20k, 30k and 50k race, the 50k runners just ran the 30k and 20k loops. It had rained for most of the week but Sunday it was dry and the sun came out. The trails were fine until we hit a pasture where the mud was shoe sucking soft. It was quite a slog but it was what it was, I smiled and cursed my way through. I finished the 30k in 2:52. My energy and pace was all over the place on the first half and I had to hit the restroom twice but on the second half I settled down and really got going. I felt great and was able to really push those last 9 miles. Great run and I was happy with the way I felt. These sub ultra distances have been a lot fun, short but more intense. The training is going like clockwork, the only area I'm struggling at is my weight. I need to drop weight and it's coming off too slowly. I have it to lose. Anyway enjoy the pictures from the race. A young kid won the 50k in an amazing time but shredded his feet since he didn't wear socks. He said he always ran sockless but probably not in muddy conditions for so long. A lot of crap probably got in there between his feet and shoes. Also because of the suction of the mud I bet there was more play on the shoes than usual despite being tied on tightly. All conjecture on my part of course. I'm sure it stung in the shower but he seemed unfazed about the whole thing.

Lots of mud!

Marla Moresi-Valdes and Ian Sharman. Marla was the one who talked me into running the event and Ian was manning the shirt tent.

Speaking of shirts, here's one of my new designs - a collaborative effort between PCTR and I. I gave them a big duck they said they wanted trees and here is the result.

The 50k champ, that's not mud on his shoes.


The toes must not have looked all that better.

Zach Landman coming in second for the 50k.

Look who's back - Caitlin Smith.

Peter Duyan, another fast runner I've recently gotten to know.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I wanted to laugh this morning at 5:30 am. There we were at the parking lot on the Northeast side of the Golden Gate Bridge for our weekly early morning run in the Headlands, waiting to see who was going to get out of their car first. It was dark, raining, cold and windy. The walk to my carpool was with an umbrella, the drive to the bridge was with the heater on and I had three layers - the last thing I wanted to do was shed those layers and head out into the rain and muddy trails. Thank God for the group because I would not have done it on my own. Roughly five minutes later we were off, a smaller group than usual but joined by three new runners. Two of them I knew of by their reputation. They were sisters, twins, one of them won the female race at my first ultra - Headlands 50k back in 2002. I remembered her because she was local and ran for the club who hosted the race - Tamalpa. I didn' t remember the name of the male champion except that he was from Idaho and also broke the course record.

Headlands 50k what a blast. The website then clearly stated that it wasn't recommended for a first 50k but I signed up anyway. It was less about courage and confidence and more about ignorance about what seven hills and over 7000 feet of climbing really meant. I showed up to registration in my super baggy college jeans, hoodie, knit cap and deer in the headlights look. I must have looked so green and painfully new. The guy who parked next to me was surprised I finished the race, he actually said "oh you finishted?!" I don't blame him, not at all. I wouldn't have bet money on me either.

I didn't know what to expect but I finished and came away wanting more, the rest is history. Until that day at the Headlands I had no idea the place even existed despite having lived in San Francisco for nine years at that time. Seeing Mary Fagan made me remember that day all over again. When I got home I pulled up the results from the run and was blown away by all the familiar names on it. Wow! So many friends, so many people who inspire me now. I didn't know them then but they were there. The name that jumped at me the most was my pal Carrie Sisk's, 5th female with a 5:01. Back then she ran for the Vasque Ultra-Running Team and she was quite the ass kicker! I've seen pictures when she used to race competitively, focused with great form. I wish I had known her then but I would not have been able to keep up anyway. She's pacing me at Western this year, one of two pacers. I paced her in 2009.

It was a busy day today work wise but in the quiet moments in between I've been thinking about that first ultra. Nothing like your first right? When I started running in the gym treadmill I never imagined it would come to this. Glad to be here!

Headlands 50k 2002 results.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Coming Along

Heck ya! Runners are sexy.

Last week I was on my back down week which I desperately needed. I had been building for a few weeks and needed to pull back. Despite my efforts to pick up the training slowly for the month of January I still ended up feeling beat down the first week of February. I kept the long runs on the shorter side but I did a bunch of other stuff. So last week I rested more than I needed to just to make sure and took it easy on the weekend. The timing was perfect because it was also the weekend of the Kaiser Half-Marathon. I showed up fully relaxed and ready to cheer. I didn't have to do any work like running to the race or running back - forget that! I like the race but it's not something I would run. Just too tough for me to go all out on a half-marathon with only a month of training under my belt since I take the holiday's off. I did do it once though just to say I had done it, it was a couple years back and it ended up being a PR effort at exactly 1:30. I cranked hard at that race, lack of training and holiday pounds be damned. I started out too fast and hung on for the last half. It hurt but I was glad for the PR yet regretted not breaking 1:30. Since I don't really run half-marathons that record may stay for awhile.

Kaiser Half is a good time because it's the first big race of the year here in San Francisco. I heard they had about 10,000 runners. You have your triathlon groups and running clubs, mixed in with all the individual runners including the ultra folk. I saw many ultra people out there flexing their road legs. Overall a good time and the weather was phenomenal yet again - the paper would say "unseasonably warm" but I doubt we broke 70 degrees. Unfortunately someone collapsed by the finish line and eventually died. A couple of friends who finished just after him saw the emergency and were shaken up by it. He was a young guy at 36 and they haven't yet released details as to what caused his death. A tragedy indeed and a reminder that life is fragile - here today gone tomorrow. I didn't want to omit that detail but I won't end on that note.

Fellow San Francisco ultra-marathoner, Jon Kroll.

Jady Palko's enthusiastic endorsement of the Lake Sonoma 50-mile last year at Quad Dipsea made me sign up this year. Oh I was already mostly convinced from reports from other friends but he was the straw that broke the camel's back.

A quiet moment amongst the cheering crew, maybe they were talking about me, hmmm...

Cami sleeping through the first six miles of her first half-marathon while daddy pushed, probably slept the whole way despite all the loud cheering.

Marla on a mission, she's in the center in red and black. Hauling ass to beat her boyfriend and win a bet.

Zach Landman came out to support his fiance Geri. By the way that tie dye shirt is a Landman family tradition. Zach was wearing a similar shirt when he ran an 18:48:31 at Western States last year for 16th place, so did mom, dad and the rest of the crew.

Oh yeah now she's up. Good morning sunshine, enjoy your nap? Sometimes when couples have kids they disappear and do their thing with other couples with kids. I'm glad that Dave and Tracey still find time to hang with us "singles" and bring Cami along.

Part of the cheering crew ready to head home.

Despite not running Kaiser Half I attended my triathlon club's track practice this past Wednesday. I told coach Dorette Franks that I would be busy all January and part of February getting ready for her and I communicated the same to my friends who were wondering why I've been absent. Sure, sure I could show up to track practice out of shape and use those workouts to help get me into shape but what a waste of time. I can run around my neighborhood anytime but if I'm going to go out of my way to run track I want to be in shape to take advantage of the workout. I respect speed work, it hurts and can raise the potential for injury if you're not prepared. I jogged over the four miles to Kezar Stadium to get warmed up and despite feeling anxious about my fitness had a superb track workout. It was nothing long; 2 x 400's with 15 second rest in between, 3 x 800's with 45 seconds rest in between and we did that set twice. One minute rest between the sets of 400's and 800's. For those who are not familiar with track, 400 meters is one lap and 4 laps is roughly a mile. I didn't pay too much attention to my time for the 400's but every 800 was faster than the previous one. As I hurt and got tired I somehow kept moving faster and faster which was a surprise - it didn't feel like it, just the opposite. I was smiling every time I finished an 800. I was ecstatic after the workout because it showed I was on the right track and the back down week did it's job. I felt good about my progress and jogged happily the last four miles home day dreaming about this year's races. We had about 50 or so people for the workout which is huge for our club and there must have been another couple of hundred of people working out with us. I liked the crowd, so much energy. Booo on the two runners who would run really slowly on the inside lane. You're supposed to yell "track!" to clear the way and slower runners should move to the right but I hate doing that. They probably just didn't know.

Well the weekend is upon us. Many miles to go this weekend! Tomorrow is a trip to a place I've only been once, it was my first year here in San Francisco and my 22nd birthday.

A walk on the beach before heading home which was just a few yards from the race course.

Ironically it's not always like this during the summer!

You can view the rest of the photoset here.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


I've been saying that word since this morning and it has become the word of the day. First because the weather here, while the Midwest and Northeast are still battling through a winter storm, has gotten even better. Another sunny day, quite warm and most important of all, no wind. I've seen some beautiful sunny days ruined by strong wind. I put in a short run with my friend Jason and we around the Presidio and by the Golden Gate Bridge. Afterwards we sat around enjoying the views and all the female runners.

Then I just found out through the usual channels that Ian Sharman won Rocky Raccoon with a 12:44:35, averaging 7:38 minutes per mile. Wow! I've paced at Rocky, it's not incredibly hilly but it ain't flat either and there are a lot of roots. Ian is English but he resides in San Jose. Last I saw him was at PCTR's Pacifica race a couple of weeks ago where he ran and won the 21k event. He's pretty laid back and he was a bit sheepish that he was only entered in the 21k event. I thought he was just easing himself back into the season, not tapering for a 100 miler. That guy, not only fast but he can also handle a heavy race schedule.


Crissy Field was made for sunny days just like this.

Kids running around like dogs, dogs running around off leash like the kids.

This little lady puts me to shame. She may not have the fancy colorful spandex, a bike with a chain or a water bottle but at least she's out there riding her bike. The last time I was on my bike? Last February.

Oh yeah, a box of juice and the open trail.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Shorts on backward
Colin: Is your shorts on backwards? Me: No course not, wait...ah damnit! Photo courtesy of Colin Gardiner.

I need more help than others. In my defense it was:

• dark at 4:15 am when I got up
• still dark when I put the shorts on
• still dark when I left my apartment at 4:50 am
• still dark when we started at 5:30 am
• still dark halfway through our 2-hour run
• the inner liner was also black so it was hard to tell

Who runs around with their shorts inside out? Me. It was quite obvious back at the parking lot with the sun up. I hate making a spectacle of myself but it was a good laugh.

Every Thursday morning I run with the SF Ninjas. Devon and Larissa came up with the name, I think it's because we are out prowling in the dark or because Devon loves flying kicks - not really sure actually. Anyway those of you who have known me for a long time may know that I hate getting up before 8 am let alone 4 am. As much as I curse and drag my butt on Thursday mornings I really do enjoy the company and the workout. The best part is seeing the sun rise as we make our way back to the Golden Gate bridge - better than coffee. In the Summer it's light enough by 5:30 am that we don't need our headlamps so best to take advantage of these dark am runs now. The weather has also been phenomenal lately which has made these morning runs even more enjoyable. Sorry to hear about the folks back in the East Coast and the Northeast being hammered by more bad weather.

Well tomorrow is another morning run. You bet I'll be checking my shorts this time.

Thursday morning run
Last Thursday's group. We blocked the sunrise and San Francisco so no views. Drew on the far right was running in his homemade Huarache's which got some oohs and ahhs from the group. He's logged some serious on Vibram Five Fingers before making the switch. This is just off the SCA trail on our way back to the Golden Gate parking lot. Photo courtesy of Colin Gardiner.