Thursday, December 11, 2008

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50k (+)

Saturday, December 6th I had the pleasure of toeing the line at the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k being held up in the Marin Headlands area (this race turned out to be a 50k+, as they told us at the start line that the distance was somewhere between 33-34 miles, not the standard 31...ahh well, at least they didn't charge us extra for the bonus miles!!!). Actually, there were four distances available to runners - 50 miles, 50k, 1/2 marathon, and 10k. The 50 mile race was billed as the "championship," the final race in a series of events held across the country throughout the year. The top male and female finishers would take home $10,000 - the biggest payday in ultrarunning! As such, there were some fast folks lining up for the chance to get paid.

The start was near Rodeo Beach (actually, the start was from Fort Barry), and the 50k course took runners through Tennessee Valley, Muir Beach, and out to Pantoll before turning around and heading back on various trails, including a section of the Dipsea Trail. The views were gorgeous as the day was clear and sunny, though a bit windy in some areas. Cool temperatures made for ideal running conditions, and The North Face did a good job of marking the course and stocking the aid stations with supplies and volunteers.

I started out fairly conservatively, which was not typical of most of my races. About the nine mile mark we started on a long climb gaining about 1,500 feet over four miles. Up till then I was trading places with three friends running together, and just before the climb they passed me. I decided it was a good time to push my uphill pace a bit and attached myself to the back of their "train." They set a comfortable pace and before I knew it we were at the top, at the Pantoll aid station. A little bit before the top, though, I came up on a friend from the Santa Cruz Track Club, Diane Delucchi, who was looking strong. I found out later that she was having a tough time early on, but I would have never known from seeing her steady pace going up that hill. We exchanged cheers for one another – it’s always nice to get a little motivational bump from a friend on the trail.

Speaking of friends, I saw Carol Cuminale at a couple of the aid stations, and she always had a cheer for me as I came through. She was going to be pacing Diane later in her 50 mile quest, and was out meeting her at some aid stations to make sure she had what she needed in the early goings.

Just before arriving at the Pantoll aid station I was running alongside another guy and we started chatting. At one point he took a look at me and asked my age, which I was more than happy to share. He indicated we were in the same age group (40-49), and that he believed there was only one other person in our age group ahead of us. I was somewhat surprised at this, and figured he was being a bit optimistic. As we entered the aid station, I saw him veer off to the drop bag area, while I continued to the tables to get my water bottle filled and grab some food. I was back out on the trail within about a minute.

The next section was a blast, as we lost most of the elevation we had just gained (ain't it always like that?!?) running through the Steep Ravine section, next to a beautiful creek. This was a very technical section of trail, and you really had to pay attention here or you were bound to take a tumble and risk losing some teeth, or skin, or something! Before long, the trail headed back up, then down, then up, then down...there really wasn't much in the way of flat spots on this run - the overall elevation gain for the 50k was about 6,900'.

Winding around here and there, we eventually ended up back in Muir Beach and started a long, steep, grueling climb. This one kicked me in the stomach, so-to-speak. As I got to the top, I had a stitch under my ribcage that pestered me for a little while until it finally went away. I was getting a bit tired (imagine that). From here on out, I ran (if you can really call it that) the downs and what little flats there were, and walked as fast as I could muster on the ups. I passed a few people, and was passed by a few people, but managed to keep up steady forward progress. Hitting the last aid station, the final couple miles (except for the last half mile) were down hill. Though my stomach was a little sloshy, I ran as best my legs would let me, and sprinted the final 800. I crossed the finish line in 6:09, which I was quite pleased with, and immediately looked for a seat.

The North Face had a little "expo" at the finish area, with a nice spread of food. I spent some time chatting with people and sharing stories of the day before my appetite kicked in. After shoveling some food down, I wandered over to check the results, mainly to see who won the big prize in the 50 miler. To my utter amazement I finished in 19th place overall, and 2nd in my age division! I couldn't believe it. Now, I'm a decent runner, not really speedy, but I do posses pretty good endurance, determination and motivation - but 2nd?!? Then I realized why - most of the folks I would typically run against in my age division were in the 50 miler (and another 50k race being held in Woodside), so that left a little softer field. At any rate, I'll take a 2nd place finish any way I can get it, and am not only happy with it, but proud, too. I also got some extra stuff for the age division placement - thanks North Face!

As always, the ultra community was fun and supportive throughout the day. It was great to see all the spectators out along the course cheering the runners on. The North Face did a great job with this event, and if anyone is looking for a fun entry into trail running, or ultrarunning, this could be a good opportunity to give it a go. From what I understand, they will be having the championship event here again in 2009 around the same time. I think I may just have to run it again. Who knows, maybe I can improve my...time? ;-)

2008 Quad Dipsea

I first started trail running around 11 years ago, and my first trail race was The Dipsea Race. While training for it, I heard about the Double Dipsea and Quad Dipsea races. After running the Dipsea the first time I thought, man, I just don't know about running that beast two, much less four times! But it stuck in my head.

Last year, when I decided I wanted to run an ultra, I remembered the Quad Dipsea and thought to myself that I would really like to give it a try someday. Well, this year I vowed to make that happen. I even emailed the race director early this year to inquire about when race registration would open so I would make sure I wouldn't miss it. I wanted in! And I got in. It wouldn't surprise me if I was one of the first to register, as I hit as soon as I got the notification from the RD that registration was open.

Gettin my stuff ready.

Hangin with Will Gotthardt before the start.

Race day dawned clear and unseasonably warm. As we gathered around the starting area in Mill Valley I ran into some friends and had a chance to chat. I ran into Kate Morejohn and her daughter Keturah (who just got engaged, congrats Keturah!), and her son Justin. If I remember correctly, this was Justin's first ultra, and he rocked it, finishing in under 5 hours!!! There are some running genes in that family. Justin's wife Sara was there rooting on her husband and dad-to-be, as Sara was about ready to give birth to their first child. In fact, her due date was the day of the race so all were ready to bail if necessary. Fortunately, their son held off a few days to make his grand entrance. Kate's husband, I recently found out, shot a few videos of the race and those have been posted on the Quad Dipsea website. Check em out if you get a chance.

Of course, Carol Cuminale was there. We were chatting as the starting horn sounded, and soon enough we were on our the first set of stairs. The Dipsea Trail is notorious for its' stairs. 671 start the trail off on the Mill Valley side (no, I didn't count them, but someone did at some point). Up, up and away we went. After the stairs, the climbing doesn't end. You keep going up. But at some point you begin to go down - into Muir Woods. Only to go back up. Then down again. Finally ending up at Stinson Beach. At which point you turn around and head back to whence you came.

Carole Cuminale, my friend and ultra mentor. She is also taking me under her race directing wing, as I am going to help her with the Nisene Marks Marathon and Half Marathon this next June.

While everyone seems to mention the Mill Valley sides' stairs, and have counted them, in my opinion the Stinson Beach side is tougher going back up, and there just has to be more stairs. No doubt, it's tough going all along this course. The Dipsea Trail is 7.1 miles one way, so the Quad covers 28.4 miles and has over 9,200' of climbing. Which means 9,200' of quad busting descent. I think the name refers to this fact as much as the number of times one must traverse the course.

As is typical for me, I started out too fast, doing the first half in just over 2.5 hours. Towards the latter half of the third leg my stomach soured, and I slowed considerably. The final climb out of Stinson was very tough, and along the way I figured out my problem - too much sugary stuff and not enough plain water. GU's and sweet energy drink made my stomach feel bad, and I really had a craving for plain water, but with only one bottle, and it filled with the energy drink, I would have to wait until the aid station to remedy the situation.

I finally reached the aid station and chugged some water as I took a seat for a break. A very helpful volunteer filled my bottle and checked that I was ok. After a few minutes I felt much better and hit the trail, ready to finish. Amazing what a little water can do!

I was able to run most of the way to the finish, only slowing at a couple uphill sections and taking my time on the stairs going down into Mill Valley. I didn't want to do a header and tumble at that point, as my quads were feeling the burn by that point. I managed to finish in 5:51, coming in just shy of my expected target of 6 hours. My wife was volunteering at the finish line so it was nice to get a hug and a smile from her after I crossed the line. She was still "on the job" so I hung out, grabbed something to eat, and cheered in runners as they finished and chatted with some friends. I met another ultra blogger, Rick Gaston, who came up to me and introduced himself. I have seen him at a couple events, and have read his blog for a little while now. He is a pretty speedy guy, and really nice. The ultra community is just chock full 'o nice people - it's one of the things I really like about going to races.

Fin, finally! Now get me a chair.

Well, another challenge I've stuck in my craw for the future is to run all three in a calendar year. The hardest one to get into is The Dipsea Race, which fills most of the race positions through a lottery. Though if you write a good enough sob story, you may be "let in," from what I understand. I'll have to check into that.

This is a beautiful trail, and The Dipsea Race is the oldest trail race in the country - first run in 1905! While the Quad doesn't have quite the same history, it began in 1983, some history was made this year. The longstanding course record, set in 1992 by Carl Anderson, was broken this year by a young guy named Erik Skaggs, who finished in 3:52:16, beating Carl's record by about 13 seconds. Quite a day.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Battle of the Network Stars" video clip

This video clip is hilarious. Absolutely hilarious. Very worth watching.'s running related. It'll take about 10 minutes, but if you were around in the '70's and watched TV at all, you will appreciate this video clip (and even if you weren't around then, or didn't watch TV, you'll still appreciate it).

It's from the "Battle of the Network Stars" show. Telly Savalas, Gabe Kaplan, Farrah Fawcett(-Majors... :-( ), Robert Conrad, Howard Cosell, Lynda Carter(!!! :-) ), Penny Marshall, Ron Howard, Bruce Jenner...the list goes on. There is controversy. There is suspense. There is an exciting finish. There is Howard Cosell calling the whole thing.

I highly recommend reading the commentary, too. It's fantastic and will add some depth to the video. Read it before or after, doesn't really matter (unless you don't want to spoil the ending - then read it after).

I've watched it a couple times already. It's really a classic bit of TV from the '70's.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Terri Schneider and Racing the Planet: The Last Desert

A friend of mine, Terri Schneider, is participating in the Racing the Planet: The Last Desert run in Antarctica this upcoming November-December. And, she is raising money for The Conservation Alliance in conjunction with the race. It's a good cause, and Terri is a good person. Terri is a Santa Cruz, CA based triathlon and running coach, as well as an elite triathlete and adventure racer. Please consider supporting her in this endeavor. Here is a letter from Terri with details:

Most of my life I’ve sought adventure, physical duress and travel to far off wild places and the virtue that comes with these types of life choices. I’ve also witnessed the fragile relationship of human interaction with our planet. While the adventures I seek today seem to hold a much greater purpose, my time to give back is way, way, overdue. But the thought of running in 120 degree heat across the Sahara Desert is much more appealing to me than facing the terror of asking people to donate money for a cause…

Won’t you join me for my inaugural fundraising efforts and help dispel my fundraising fears! I’m raising money for The Conservation Alliance – an organization that directs their funding toward your community-based campaigns that protect threatened wild habitats. In this process we’ll embark on a big adventure – really big. I’ll be running 155 miles on one of the harshest continents on the planet – Antarctica. Join me! for Racing Antarctica, my fundraiser for The Conservation Alliance.

By supporting The Conservation Alliance, you will invest in an array of the most compelling conservation projects in North America—projects that support your favorite wild places and those of your children for years to come. The zeal of The Conservation Alliance and the outdoor industry companies who support this organization resonate highly with our lives and passions – like a cohesive family nurturing our planet. Help me in supporting your favorite wild places by joining me for Racing Antarctica. Contribute NOW!

The idea of running 155 miles in one of the most inaccessible spots on the planet for the cause of protecting your favorite places back home is a perfect fit. Scroll down for a bit more info about the cause, the adventure and what YOU get for joining our Team.

The Cause

Have you given back to the rivers, mountains and open spaces that move you? To the places that humble you and will nurture your children for years to come? The Conservation Alliance does just that. They defend North America’s last wild places by supporting grassroots conservation organizations. Since 1989 they have helped protect more than 39 million acres of land, stop or remove 26 dams, and preserve access to thousands of miles of rivers and several climbing areas. But their job is unceasing! NOW’S YOUR CHANCE to give back!

The Adventure

I am one of 30 invited athletes who will participate in Racing the Planet: The Last Desert, November 24-December 4, 2008. As the windiest, driest and most frigid continent, Antarctica is the largest desert in the world. The Last Desert adventure will begin in Ushuaia, Argentina where we will travel two days by ship across the perilous Drake Passage. For 6 days and a total of 155 miles we will run at several locations on Antarctica and its outlying islands. I will be running to raise money for The Conservation Alliance – the folks who help preserve your favorite wild places.

Our goal is $5,000 (but I’d love to raise much much more)!

Your tax deductible contribution:

As a Racing Antarctica team member you’ll receive the following:

- You’ll come along to Antarctica! Your name (or company’s name) will be placed on a shirt that I’ll wear during my Last Desert adventure. (orca and polar bear levels get top billing)

- Invitation to a Team Racing Antarctica post event slide show and party!

- Regular updates on my training as well as live dispatches from the event.

- All contributors will get well deserved recognition on my website, on my donation site, as well as in all PR materials.

Suggested contributions:

- Orca Level: $1000
- Polar Bear Level: $500
- Leopard Seal Level: $100
- Weddell Seal Level: $50
- Emperor Penguin Level: $25
- Other: Whatever amount you wish!

1. Online donation site: To donate quickly and easily CLICK HERE. Go to for more info.

2. Via email: To avoid an online fee, email – your contribution can be taken via visa/mastercard

3. Via mail: Send your check to Terri Schneider – Racing Antarctica, PO Box 1826, Aptos, CA 95001

I’m psyched at the prospect of running in inhospitable Antarctica to raise funds to support the wild places YOU love back home! Help me support this critical cause (and get a well deserved tax deduction…)!

Heartfelt thanks for your time in this,

Terri Schneider

Also, Terri is hosting an endurance event movie night. Details below:

This November I will embark on a 6 day, 155 mile running stage race in Antarctica, one of the harshest environments on the planet. I'll be competing as a fundraiser for The Conservation Alliance - the folks who give back to your favorite wild places in North America. Support me in this quest - Racing Antarctica for The Conservation Alliance - at an upcoming movie night!

My first fundraising effort has been both challenging and hugely rewarding and I am thus far astonished at the generosity of so many friends. Having passion for what the people at The Conservation Alliance are accomplishing keeps me motivated. But their job is unceasing - as is mine to gain funding for their cause.

So to add some fun to this fundraising process I've decided to host an "Endurance Madness" Movie Night. I'll show film clips from Hawaii Ironman, Eco Challenge and an excellent documentary on Western States 100 and I'm certain that unless you have watched these with me you have never seen them - all "never been seen on TV footage!"

This will be a night of fun, films and raffle prizes. Plan to be inspired!

"Endurance Madness" Movie Night - Long Marine Lab, Santa Cruz, CA. Thursday, November 6th 7:00 PM. Donations accepted at the door. Refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Headlands Hundred 50 Mile Endurance Run Race Report

After running my first 50 mile race this past May, I was looking for another to run this summer and having heard good things about the Headlands Hundred course, decided to sign up for the 50 mile option. The race is put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs, so it was assured to be a fun group, well organized, and a tough course - the 50 miler has a little under 8,200' of elevation gain with some pretty tough climbs. The race was scheduled for August 9th, which gave me plenty of time to recover from the Quicksilver 50 miler, and get my training back up for Headlands.

My training was going well and I was on track, until about a month before the race when inexplicably, towards the end of a long run, I felt a sharp pain deep in my right calf. Having felt this before, I knew immediately I had pulled a muscle and would probably be out of commission for at least a couple weeks. When this happened previously, I had tried to come back too quickly and re injured it even worse, necessitating even more recovery time. This time I was determined to not let that happen, so took my rehab seriously and with a different approach. I decided to give myself 3 weeks of no running, start swimming and deep water running, redouble my strength training efforts, lay off the bike, and do some self massage to try to speed healing.

A week before Headlands my wife Lori and I were signed up for the 12 Hours at Cool night race. We planned to run together and originally I planned on this being a nice, easy training run, thinking I would do maybe 4 or 5 loops. Part of me really wanted to see how I would respond with back-to-back long run weekends. Well, with the calf injury, I had to throw that plan out the window. By race day my calf felt pretty good - I had done no running, and as little walking as possible so my plan was to walk a couple loops, maybe jog a little to see how it felt, and call it good. Lori was hoping to do more, so I would crash in the back of my truck while she pushed on. About halfway through the first loop we met up with some friends and stayed with them for the rest of the night. I did my two loops and felt good, even with the light running we did, so was pleased with my prospects of toeing the line at Headlands. Lori, Michelle and her husband Morgan ended up completing 3 loops (9 mile loops = 27 miles...way to go!).

Even with the positive experience at the Cool race the week before, I was still nervous about running the Headlands 50, and my calf, while feeling good, was not 100%. I didn't want to re injure it and end up having to take another month or so off from running. The past month had been bad enough (though all the cross training, I must say, was great and quite beneficial). I was determined to run this race very conservatively, especially in the early stages. Additionally, I acquired a compression sleeve for my calf, recommended by another runner I talked to at the Cool race who said it had helped him previously. I think that played a big part in my day.

So race day I got up very early and made the drive up to Rodeo Beach. As is typical for summer in the SF Bay area, it was foggy and cool - great for a long run. I checked in and got my bib, then went back to my car for final preparations. My friend from the Santa Cruz Track Club, Carole Cuminale, was a couple cars over getting ready to run the 100 miler so I went over to chat with her for a few minutes. Another friend from the club, Howard Wood, stopped by and we caught up for a few minutes as well. Howard was running the 50, and he ended up placing 5th! He is pretty damn fast, though funny enough, he was sandbagging a bit as we spoke, saying he hadn't done all that much running lately due to work travel so was looking at this as a nice easy "training" run in preparation for his Trans Rockies adventure coming up in a couple weeks. Yeah, nice "training" run Howard!

Me at the start.

A few minutes before 7am the runners assembled in the road by the beach where Wendell gave us our instructions. Standing right in front of me was someone I thought I recognized, so I introduced myself to Becky, a frequent contributor to the Runners World Online Discussion Forum. She introduced me to a couple other forumites, Nancy and Danni. Becky and Nancy were running the 50, and Danni running her first 100 miler. She was actually supposed to run the Western States 100, but unfortunately that was canceled due to all the crazy fires. Just then, Wendell sent us off and the four of us took off together.

The course started on pavement for a very short time, then crossed over a small marshy/creek area to Rodeo Beach, then up a hill to more pavement. Getting back on dirt, we wound our way up, down and around until I could hear cars below and to the right. While the fog kept the temps good for running, it really messed up the views, as I was looking forward to the view of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco from the hill immediately to the west of the Marin side of the bridge. Oh well, it gives me a good reason to go back and run those trails again some time.

The inevitable first hill traffic jam!

I stayed with Becky, Nancy, and Danni for a little while, but at a turn off pavement to a trail, I had to make a pit stop (good sign I was well hydrated), and after that I ran solo for a little while, but not too long. On a slight hill section that I decided to run I ended up behind a woman who struck up a conversation. Turned out she was a frequent poster to PCTR's online discussion forum and recognized my name, as I did hers. Kate was running with her daughter Keturah (Keturah's blog), who was running her first 50 miler. We stuck together for a little while, and ended up leap-frogging a bit, seeing each other at various aid stations and throughout the first half of the course. They always had a smile and encouraging words for me when we crossed paths. I really do love the people I meet in the trail and ultra community - they are the nicest and most supportive people!

Running with Keturah and Kate - they ran a great race and were great company.

A little while later, I caught up to my friend Carol and we ended up running together for quite some time. She is an amazing runner, and has taught me a lot in the short time I have known her. She is actually going to take me under her wing in the race directing arena, as she has directed the Nisene Marks Marathon and Half Marathon, and needed someone to take over after she moves to Washington after next years' event. I am excited about learning all about the ins and outs of directing a race from someone so nice and experienced!

Coming it to Muir Beach.

Carol and I split up after the Pantoll aid station, as she needed to walk a little after fueling up there. I was feeling pretty good at that point - my calf was not bugging me, though my legs and feet were a little more sore than they typically were at 22 miles. Guess that's what happens when you don't run for a month. Since I was doing pretty well, I decided to try to run more over the next section, which would take me to the turnaround point at Bolinas Ridge, almost 29 miles into the race. This section was on a beautiful section of single track, but really exposed. The fog had burned off, and it was getting pretty warm. Since I had run very conservatively to this point, it put me on this section at around 12:30 or so, just getting into the hottest part of the day. The next 13 miles proved to be some pretty warm miles. I hit the turnaround at about 2pm. I figured that was pretty good, considering I was running conservatively, and my calf still felt good.

The views here are drop dead gorgeous, but you have to keep an eye on the trail or you'll do a faceplant. It also got pretty hot in this section, as I was running it in the hottest part of the day.

Heading back, I started feeling quite a bit more soreness in my legs, especially on the downhill sections. Additionally, the big toe on my left foot started to hurt. At this point uphills became my friend as they were easier to deal with than downs. Even with the discomfort in my quads and toe I still managed to run a pretty consistent pace and made good time, I even passed a number of runners along the way.

A little before passing through the Muir Beach aid station for the second time I caught up to Catra Corbett on an uphill section. Catra is one hell of a runner, and many know her, as I do, through her very popular blog. We struck up a conversation and ended up running together to the start/finish area at Rodeo Beach for my finish and her halfway point, as she was doing the 100 mile option. She really helped keep my mind off my barkin quads and increasingly painful Sgt. Hulka (big toe, for those of you who either have not seen, or don't remember the movie "Stripes").

The finish line is down close, yet so far down. My quads were not happy at this point.

I finished in 11:59:57, my longest run time-wise to date. My calf held up well, and while not yet fully recovered it certainly didn't get re injured from this run. I am very pleased with the whole day, as the course was just fantastic. Tough, certainly, but plenty of very runnable sections and drop dead gorgeous. This is an area I really want to get back to and run some more. And this race is at the top of my list as a contender for my first 100 miler next year. I also met and ran with some great people, and the volunteers, as always at PCTR races, were helpful, friendly and supportive. AND, they had PIZZA at the finish line!!! You can't ask for more (well, maybe a beer, but realistically, they can't supply everything!).

One final word about the calf compression sleeve I wore. It's from a company named Zensah. I really do think it helped quite a bit to keep my calf supported and blood flowing effectively in the muscle. A couple times I did feel a slight twinge in the calf, but it was because of an odd foot strike. I'll continue to wear it until I am confident my calf is fully recovered, even when not running. If you ever get a calf injury, do yourself a favor and try one of these compression sleeves.

The Zensah Compression Sleeves saved my bacon...err...calves! Give em a try, they feel really good.

Thanks again to Sarah, Wendell, Aaron, Marissa and the rest of the PCTR crew, all the volunteers and other supporters for a great day!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Summer Running and New Stuff

Lots going on lately, and I hope to catch up on all of it here in the near future. A couple races, an injury, new training methods and gear, and...a new puppy! I'm working on my most recent race report, and should have that up in a few days. Meanwhile, here is a picture of our newest family member - Murphy the Murphinator:

Murphy is a border collie/lab mix that we picked up from the Santa Cruz SPCA. He is a pretty smart guy, about 4 months old and 30 lbs. I'm guessing he'll go about 60 lbs. or so when fully grown. Our other dog, Maggie, gets a little jealous and possessive of some toys occasionally, but all-in-all they get along pretty well. It's really fun to watch them chase each other in the backyard.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Tagged - And I'm It (for now)

I have been tagged. Victoria (aka Victwa on the Runners World Discussion Forum) hit me, and now I get to share (hopefully not too much) a little about myself and my running with all of you good people. By the way, if you haven't checked out her blog I recommend it. She writes up great reviews of SF Bay Area trails, and includes pics. And she is really nice, too. And fast. And tough. Just visit her blog, already!

Here's how it works:

I answer 5 questions about my own running here, and then at the end I tag 5 more people and post their names. I then go to their blogs and tell them they've been tagged. When they've answered the questions, they go back to this blog and tell me.

1. How would I describe my running 10 years ago?

Ahh, 10 years ago, I can remember it like it was...10 years ago. I had begun running in earnest 11 years ago, and ran my first (and only) marathon in September of 1997. Two weeks later I was at the doctor getting a strange lump checked out, which turned out to be...cancer (HOOray? - not). So, after a couple surgeries, my running fell by the wayside for awhile and 10 years ago I was an on-again off-again runner.

I am happy to report that I have had no recurrence of cancer and my odds of getting it again are about the same as anyone else (HOORAY - for real :-) )

2. What is your best and worst race experience?

Let's get the bad one out of the way first, shall we? It has to be my first ultra, last December at PCTR's Woodside 50k. Now, it has nothing to do with PCTR, the race course, volunteers, weather or any other thing unless the other thing was ME! I was pretty well trained and felt good going into it. But I was concerned with being over hydrated and having to, um, well, "relieve" myself too often - a problem I had been having on numerous training runs. So, in my infinite(less) wisdom, I willfully under hydrated the previous couple days and paid for it with bad cramping and lots o pain. I ended up walking most of the last half, but still managed to finish.

My best race experience - well, that would be my most recent race and first 50 miler at Quicksilver this past May. I had set a number of goals for myself, and despite enduring cramps in my calves (I obviously need to work on that cramping thing a lot more in my training), I managed to exceed all my goals and finish pretty strong.

3. Why do you run?

I run for many reasons. It makes me feel good. I love the challenge. Being outdoors is refreshing, relaxing, wondrous, and inspiring among other things.

4. What is the best or worst piece of advice you've been given about running?

Best piece of advice: Don't get caught up in the excitement and go out too fast in a race - you will pay for it later.

Best piece of advice I have yet to take advantage of: see above.

5. Tell us something surprising about yourself that not many people would know.

I hated running earlier in life, primarily because of my experience with it while in the Army. Running in formation with a bunch of hung over fools who are sweating out the previous nights beer binge sucks (equally sucky is BEING one of the aforementioned fools sweating out the previous nights beer binge ;-) )!

So, I'm going to tag the following folks:


Thanks for the tag, Victoria. And I look forward to reading the posts from the 5 above!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Quicksilver 50 mile Race Report

Saturday, May 10th I did my first 50 mile run - the Quicksilver 50 Mile Endurance Run in south San Jose, California. I grew up in the area and spent a lot of time hiking with friends, catching snakes, and later, in high school, doing things our parents just wouldn't want to hear about. ;-) So when my brother told me a friend of his had signed up for it, and he was thinking about it and wanted to know if I would run it too, I said sure, let's do it. Unfortunately, due to injury, both of them couldn't do the run.

I trained pretty well for this run, logging quite a few training runs in the high 20 to low 30 mile range, along with a couple 50k races in the previous two months as well - the final one two weeks before the big day. My taper week went well too, logging just two fairly short distance runs with the last one an "easy" tempo run the Wednesday before the race. I was feeling prepared, and excited to push myself running a new distance. I had set 3 goals for myself: 1. finish; 2. finish in under 11 hours for a Western States qualifier; and 3. my "stretch" goal - finish in under 10 hours. I was pretty confident of meeting the first two goals; as for the third - well, that's why it's a stretch goal. I figured if I ran a smart run, and things went well, I had a chance of meeting the under 10 hour goal.

The race started at 6am, which meant my wife, Lori, and I had to leave the house by 4:15am in order to get there with enough time to for me to check in, get my number and have some time to all the little things necessary to get myself ready to run (for longer than I have ever run at one time). That meant waking up around 3:30am. Uggg! I'm not one to go to bed early, but with that kind of wake up time, I knew it was either that, or a really crappy night of (non) sleep. Funny, though, I awoke just a bit before my alarm went off, so getting out of bed was no problem. Coffee was already made (whoever first put an alarm mechanism on a coffee maker should be hailed as one of the greatest human beings of all time), and I jumped in the shower for a quick rinse to help with the waking process. I wolfed down my typical pre-race breakfast of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, raisins and a banana, and put the dog out back (poor girl had to endure a whole day - darkness to darkness - all alone). We were out the door in time and on our way.

Arriving at the Mockingbird Entrance to Quicksilver County Park at a little after 5am, the parking lot was busy and almost full. We parked and went to the check in area. The air was cool, but not cold and people were dressed in a wide variety of layers from shorts and singlets to full fleece coverage complete with stocking caps and gloves.

While in line I heard a familiar voice go by in the dark and Carol Cuminale - a member of the track club I belong to (Santa Cruz Track Club) - walked by. I said hi, introduced her to Lori, and we chatted for a couple minutes. Carol has been doing ultras for a while, and she does a lot of them. The weekend before she ran the Miwok 100k, sustaining a bit of a knee injury when she fell around mile 5. She was signed up for the 50 mile race, but changed that morning to the 50k. She had also signed up for the Ohlone 50k the weekend after. Talk about tough! Her picture should be next to the word in the Oxford Dictionary, if you were to ask my opinion (and even if you weren't to ask, it should still be there). We wished each other well, and went our ways. I got my bib and we returned to the car.

There was still about 40 minutes to start time, and as it was just a bit chilly, we climbed back in the car and got the heater going. I continued to fiddle with my gear, pinned my bib to my shorts, drank more water, and went to the bathroom a couple more times (a good sign I was hydrated well at least for the beginning of the race!). I also just stared out the window a bit, imagining my day, picturing the scenery I would run by and how I would feel. I wasn't nervous, just excited about this new venture. I wanted it to begin. I wanted to be running.

I got out once again to hit the bathroom (I typically go a LOT in the mornings anyway, and fortunately this morning was no exception, at least until the race started). After getting back to the car, I did a stretching routine making sure to hit all the major spots that have ever given me grief, then stretching them again. It was about time, so I grabbed my gear, and Lori and I walked to the start area where everyone was
gathering. It was about to begin.

All the runners crowded onto the dirt fire road behind the start line, and after a few words, and a minute to wait until the "official" start time, the go signal was given and we were off. I was on the road beginning my first 50 mile run! I was happy, and had a big grin on my face. I was also trying my best to not get caught up in the early adrenalin rush which often causes me to start fast (said as though I'm the only one that happens too - yeah right). The first couple miles are generally uphill, though not too steep. I did walk a couple sections, but ran most of it. The first turn came around 3 miles in, at a point only a couple tenths of a mile from the starting area, which allowed some friends, family and supporters to make a short walk to cheer us on. Passing by, I made an offhand comment asking "What place am I in" which drew some good laughs, as I certainly was in no way close to the front.

We turned onto single track, which we would be on for about 6 miles. The early morning light was beautiful, and the hillsides still had a fair amount of green grass, and plenty of wildflowers. Sunlight streamed through oak trees in places to create a warm, soft light that was magical. We wound our way along, and I passed the first aid station at about an hour in. After the single track, we turned onto fire road, which we would be on for almost the entire rest of the run (only one other short section of single track remained, run twice, in the final 19 mile stretch).

The next 10 or so miles had a fair amount of uphill to it. Passing through another aid station, I paused briefly to grab a little food. I had already been drinking some Cytomax energy drink that had been working well for me in training, and of which I had brought two bottles with me. I had also eaten a GU. I really wanted to make sure I was eating and drinking well, and had even started in on electrolyte supplements. On the way out of the aid station, I struck up a conversation with another runner, and he and I ran together for some time. He had run quite a few ultras, including a number of 100's, and was regaling me with an aid-station-by-aid-station description of the Western States 100 course. It was entertaining, but he was also running a little faster than I wanted to, so after he finished his description, I took the opportunity to "relieve" myself in two important ways, if you get the drift.

I finished the long uphill, and while on the way down I "ran" into a guy who had been kind enough to run part of a training run on the course a month earlier with one of the other guys who was supposed to be running that day (but had hurt his back) and myself, giving us valuable course info and guiding. His name was Mike, and we ran together for a while, all the way down, around some old Quicksilver mines (a site I was well familiar with as friends and I had spent a lot of time in that particular area as kids hunting for snakes and lizards, and drinking beer later in high school), and then back up the hill. Again, I could tell that Mike could run faster than I, so I told him I needed to walk at one point and he should go ahead. Mike went ahead, and I walked for a few minutes before picking up the pace to a run.

After my third trip through the Dam Overlook aid station, I felt a twinge in my right calf. Uh oh, I thought. I know what that is, and immediately popped a couple electrolyte pills, and drank some water. Cramps are not fun, and I was hoping I could head them off at the pass, but apparently, cramps had a plan of their own - one well thought out and executed.

The course at that point was heading up a long uphill section, after which a fairly good downhill section then a "nice" section of ups and downs into the finish of the 50k section of the race. The last two miles are really quite brutal, with some short but really steep ascents followed by equally steep descents. On fresh legs they are difficult; on tired legs they are many other things. I saw a number of people with cuts and scrapes on their legs, arms, hands, and a few on their heads from falls on these downhills. I made sure to be careful, and didn't push the pace through there. Partly because I had been getting some good cramps in both calves, but mostly my right one. In fact, coming into the 50k finish area aid station, my calves were really cramping up, so I decided to take a few minutes to take care of myself.

Coming into the aid station I saw a photographer on the side of the trail, and as I passed I noticed him taking quite a few pictures of me. Cool, I thought, I should have at least one decent pic of me at the race! A moment later, I noticed him running after me and just off my right shoulder. That, I thought, was pretty odd - I had never had a photographer run after me to take another photo. What the hell was this?!? As I looked over, I then realized was my brother (guess I get a little tunnel vision when I run, apparently)! I laughed, said hi, and explained my initial confusion and failure to say hi to him, which gave him a good laugh too.

I got to the aid station in about 5:15 or so, which was a bit faster than I thought I would be able to do, but besides the cramping calves, I felt fairly good. At the aid station, my wife Lori, my parents, and my brother all helped me out. It was obvious I was having some issues with my legs, and Lori started to massage them a bit. My parents and brother got me some food and filled my water bladder with ice and water. We chatted a bit as I took some time to recharge and let my calves settle. I ended up taking about a 20 minute rest. Heading back out for the final 19 miles, my dad walked a bit with me and gave me some wonderful encouragement - telling me how proud he and my mom were of me and how impressed they were of what I was doing. Great things to hear at that point and I was glad to have them all there, it really helped my spirits.

I was now getting to new running territory. Heading out for the final 19 we followed the same initial route as the start then veered off to follow a part of the course we had run nearing the end of the 50k, which was mostly uphill for a number of miles. I had to walk some sections I had run earlier, and it seemed my calves were on a 20 or so minute schedule of cramping. I would pop a couple electrolyte pills and drink some water, and in a minute or so I could resume running or power walking. This continued through the rest of the race.

At one point I came across another runner who was in obvious pain and distress, which I immediately recognized as cramping. I asked if he had any electrolytes, and he said no. I quickly pulled out my supply (I brought way more than I would need, just in case) and got him a couple and told him to keep up with some fluid. He was doing the 50k, and wasn't too far from the finish, so I think he was able to make it in ok.

At the next aid station I pulled in to refill my water bladder. There was a runner there who was off to the side really puking his guts out. He looked pretty bad, and the aid station volunteers were talking amongst themselves saying this guy shouldn't be allowed to go on. One of them pulled him aside after he emptied him stomach, saying he should seriously consider dropping. The guy said he had never DNF'ed, and wasn't about to today. He left just before I finished my stuff, and I passed him on the trail and offered encouragement.

The next aid station came quickly, and I passed right through and headed into the Sierra Azul Open Space Preserve section of the course to the turnaround. As I was running on this section, I kept expecting to hit the turnaround after rounding every corner. It seemed as though it would never come! I kept an eye on my watch, and with each passing minute I felt my chances of a sub-10 hour finish slipping by, thinking that there would be no way I could retrace the path back to the finish area in the time I had remaining.

Finally, thankfully, I got to the turnaround. I took a few minutes to grab some food and drink some water, and get some ice in my water bladder for the trip back out of Sierra Azul. While there, one of the volunteers happened to mention that there was a net elevation loss of about 1000 feet back to the finish. It had taken me about 2:20 to get out to the turnaround, and I had about 2 hours left to make a sub 10 hour finish. I just found my motivation. I told my cramps that I had a new weapon against them - motivation to finish in sub 10, to which they replied "Bring it on, buddy!"

I hit the trail, and picked up my pace considerably. It felt good to stretch my stride out, at times. At others it was really tough, but manageable. When the cramps would hit, I would have to slow down or walk, get some electrolytes and water, and pick it back up as soon as possible. I also started to just take electrolytes every 15 minutes, and that helped keep them in check a lot better. I even managed to pass a couple people in this section!

I stopped at the next aid station to refill my water and grab a little food. A few people I had earlier passed now passed me as they didn't stop. I headed back out, and pushed through the next section to the last aid station. I struggled a few times, having to walk a couple sections that I really wanted to run, but with full sun exposure heating me up, I didn't want to risk really overheating myself at that point.

Coming up to the final aid station I started to veer to the right, thinking we were heading back the same way we came out and not sure I could finish this last section in the time I had left in order to get in under 10 hours. Part of me was already letting go of that goal, and I was alright with it. This was my first 50 miler and finishing was a big accomplishment. And, I was pretty certain that, barring any major mishap, I would come in under 11 hours which would give me a qualifying time to apply for Western States in 2009! I was happy with that, certainly.

Just as I was starting to head to the right, a volunteer noticed and redirected me and another runner to the trail to the left of the aid station. She informed us both that the way to the finish was on the left trail, and the finish line was only 2.5 miles away! I couldn't believe it. At no other time have I been happier of my lack of course knowledge. Looking at my watch I quickly realized that I could crawl from there and pretty much finish in under 10 hours! Needless to say, I was quite elated, excited, ecstatic...not only would I finish in under 10 hours, I would finish in substantially less than 10 hours. I picked up the pace a bit.

Another runner and I were playing a bit of yo-yo the last few miles, and I had just passed her. We still had the dreaded, fun Ups and downs that we had coming in at the 50k finish to go. Heading up one of the steep sections, she passed me and I had to comment to her about how strong she was going up these hills. She said she just wanted to get into the finish and get it over with. We ended up chatting for the rest of the way in, keeping each other company and helping to keep our minds off the steep ups, downs, and pain in our legs. As we hit the final flat section coming in to the finish, she kept looking at her watch then said "If we push it, we can finish in under 9:15," to which I replied "Lead the way!"

As we neared the finish corral, my parents were waiting about 200 yards out and when they saw me coming, my dad literally sprinted out in front to alert Lori and my brother. I think they were all a bit surprised at me coming in at that point, not expecting me for a little while longer.

My new friend and I ran through the chute, and I finished a pace behind her not wanting to finish before someone who had helped me push through that last section and really had pulled me in to the finish with a great time. We high-fived and congratulated each other, and then my family came up, congratulated me and were very excited. Carol Cuminale came over too, and she was just great, saying she was really impressed with how well I did, and that she thought I looked good coming in. I was really happy, and proud of what I had been able to accomplish. And my calves had their last parting shot, too, cramping just 15 yards from the finish line and continuing for a couple minutes until I had a chance to settle in to a chair and get myself taken care of.

We hung around for a while, talking with some other people, cheering other runners as they came in, and I just soaked it all in and let the day sink in. I had just run the furthest distance I had ever done, and exceeded all my goals! I had some struggles, some ups and downs, but had persevered and accomplished something I had trained quite some time for, and had looked forward to for some time as well. After a half hour or so, I even got hungry and got some of the famous Quicksilver BBQ. They don't lie when they say it's good BBQ. I didn't have any ice cream or strawberry shortcake, as we had plans at my parents house for an early mother's day celebration, but it looked good.

And remember the guy I mentioned who was puking and looking pretty bad, and the aid station volunteers were encouraging to drop? Well, he finished, and looked pretty good, too. I went over to offer him my congratulations on persevering and finishing. The guy is tough, no doubt about that.

The next couple days I was sore, as would be expected, particularly my right calf which was cramping the worst of the two. My quads weren't too bad, and by the Tuesday after my legs were feeling pretty good, with only minor soreness in my right calf. I went to my track club workout Wednesday evening, as I didn't want to miss my chance to share my race results with the club. And I did my first recovery run, too. I managed to run a nice easy 4.5 miles around the track, including a half mile barefoot (I started running some barefoot a month ago to help strengthen my feet).

I'm back to running a fairly normal schedule this week, and feel great. There is no doubt I still have things to work out in training - I need to hydrate better on long runs, and I also need to do a better job of managing my electrolyte balance. The cramping calves really sucked big time, and had I not had that problem I most likely would have finished in under 9 hours. Something to shoot for next time, I guess. I think I could have also done a better job eating, though I never felt like I was bonking.

But all that aside, I am very, very happy with my first 50 mile race and the results. I am also looking forward to the next one, and the next one...and eventually, a 100k and 100 mile run. I really love running long distances, the challenges, the struggles, and what you can learn about yourself and what you can share with other people.

Thanks to the Quicksilver Running Club for putting on a great event in a beautiful place. Thanks to all the great volunteers who took time out of their lives to help all the runners - you are what makes these events happen and no runner could do it without your generosity. Thanks to my wife Lori, who was my crew chief and helped me get ready, helped me get through the 50k aid station, and helped me for the next couple days as I recovered. I KNOW I couldn't have done it without her and owe her a lot. And thanks to my brother and parents who came out to support me and help out - your assistance and encouragement meant a lot and lifted my spirits immeasurably.

Monday, May 12, 2008

UC Santa Cruz Conducting Mountain Lion Study in Santa Cruz Mountains Area

A group of researchers from UC Santa Cruz, in conjunction with the Felidae Conservation Fund and the California Department of Fish and Game, are beginning a study of Mountain Lions in the Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as locations in the North and East SF Bay area. The goal is to understand more about their movements, habitat needs, caloric expenditure and intake requirements, and other factors necessary to their survival in a world quickly closing in on them.

(I pulled the photo off the UCSC website. Credit goes to Daniel Stahler for it.)

Here is an article from the San Jose Mercury News about it.

And, one from the Felidae Conservation Fund about it, too.

While the thought of encountering one of these magnificent animals up close while running the trails around my home doesn't often come across my mind (thankfully), the possibility is there, no doubt. The chances are pretty slim, and most likely any "encounter" would not even be noticed by me, as from what I know most lions would be long gone before I had a chance to see them. At least, that's what I like to tell myself.

I have to say, I find the idea of this study to be pretty fascinating, and hope to be able to remember to check for the results in a couple years to see what they discovered. I hoping it won't be a high number of cats in the areas I like to run! I also think it would be cool if they could make some of the GPS data live and available to the public as the study is going on, as it would be nice to see if there is any recent activity before planning any long training runs on remote trails or at night.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Quicksilver 50 mile training

I have been busy lately training for my first 50 mile run - the Quicksilver 50 coming up this Saturday, May 10th. This race is held in the foothills around south San Jose, where I grew up. I used to hike with friends and catch snakes in the area as a kid, so have many fond memories of the trails there.

It can be hot in them thar hills, which is why many people around the Bay Area like QS for a Western States training run. It also has some decent hills, with elevation gain around 8,500' or so.

My training has gone well, and I am feeling very excited about running my first 50 miler. I am reasonably confident of hitting my goals: first - to finish; second - finish in under 11 hours to qualify for the Western States lottery; and third - I would like to finish in under 10 hours. While the third goal may be a stretch, I think it's good to have goals that make you reach a bit.

I did run a 50k recently - PCTR's Big Basin which had about 6,100' of elevation gain - and finished that in just over 6:30. And it was more than 50k for me, as I took a wrong turn on one of the loops and added a couple miles, and at least a half hour to my time. Gotta love bonus miles!

With that in mind, and considering I felt pretty good at the finish, I think my third goal is within reach as long as I make sure to hydrate and eat enough. My body is ready for the distance, I just have to do the right things at the right time and let my training take me to the finish line.

2008 Way Too Cool 50k Race Report

This race report is long overdue, obviously, since the race was early this past March. But better late than never. I'll add a couple photos soon, once I have a chance to resize them.

It all began early last December, on a Sunday morning, as people across the land were frantically trying to log in to their accounts, hoping to be one of the few, the proud, the randomly lucky who were able to gain entry to the Way Too Cool 50K trail race. Having filled the previous year in just over 7 minutes, my wife and I were at the ready. I was logged in, and she was futzing with her account when she told me, more than 5 minutes before 8am (registration was supposed to open at 8am PST), that she had just registered for the race and received an email confirmation. I was on it, and within a minute was checking my email for the confirmation. We were both in! Unfortunately, for those who waited until 8am to log in to, the 450 available slots filled quickly (just over 11 minutes this year) and many were left out. was actively thrashed on many online discussion forums for having opened up the registration "early." And rightfully so.

WTC is in the Sierra foothills east of Auburn and follows trails along and near the American River. There is about 3,600' of elevation gain (and equal amount of elevation loss), and a couple of pretty killer hills - both fairly late in the course. Nothing like a nice steep climb at mile 25 to keep things interesting! The hills were green, and fortunately the streams were low so crossing wasn't much of a problem. I did manage to get one foot wet twice, but with the nice temps my shoes dried quickly.

Way Too Cool was my second 50K race, and my wife's first. We drove up Friday afternoon to pick up our race packets at the Auburn Running Company, and had dinner before retiring early for the night at a local motel. I was glad to not have to drive up the morning of the race, only to run then drive back home. It was enough just to have to drive home!

The weather really held out, as the day dawned clear and bright. Not too cold, either. We arrived in Cool around 45 minutes before start time, what we thought would be on the early side. Wrong about that one. We ended up parking along a road about 1/3 - 1/2 mile from the starting area. No problem, this should be a good way to stretch the legs out both before and after. We did the ritualistic porta-potty line thing, then milled around until the start. Way Too Cool is a popular race, and with Montrail sponsoring it, and the top 3 men and women getting a free pass to the Western States 100, it was bound to bring out some pretty fast runners. And did it ever. Last year's Ultrarunners of the Year - Nikki Kimbal and Scott Jurek - were on hand with a whole host of folks who have won a wide variety of races. Over 450 people toed the line, and we were off at 8 am.

It didn't take long for runners to stretch out over a pretty long area, and after a short time on pavement, we turned onto a trail and I felt the trail mojo. I really do love running on dirt, and enjoy the race atmosphere, though it tends to cause me to start a little too fast. And it seems the chatting that goes on during trail races is not only more common, but friendly and often helpful, too.

The first aid station came up pretty quickly, and since I was doing well supply-wise I blew right through. Two things I was careful about for this race was to make sure I drank more water, and also take electrolyte replacements regularly. My first 50K - last December - and some of my long training runs leading up to the race, had not gone well, and after some research and consideration felt pretty confident I just wasn't replacing my electrolytes or hydrating properly. This time, I was determined to double the electrolyte intake, and keep drinking.

And it seemed to be working, by the second aid station, about 14 miles in, my hydration pack was ready for a refill and I was feeling good. I scarfed down a few brownies and a PB&J square, and off I went. This was a killer section - a six mile loop that brings you back to the same aid station. And also the steepest decent, followed, naturally, by the steepest (and longest) ascent. So basically, you thrash your quads running down the steep downhill, then peg your heart rate going up the ascent. Nothing like hitting mile 20 after that combo.

I again refilled my water (hooray for no dehydration!), and ate some more brownies and a PB&J square. One of the things I love about trail races and ultras, they have some good vittles at aid stations. I was still feeling good, too. No stomach problems like on recent training runs, and the legs and abdomen were, so far, cramp free unlike my first 50K. I was happy, looking at the last third of the race, and pleased with my time. Even with a pretty big slowdown, I could still crush my previous 50k time, though realistically, it shouldn't be hard as the first one was a disaster - with hydration and electrolyte problems alluded to previously.

Now, looking at a map of the course or an elevation profile on the website is one thing. Actually being out on the course, especially a "hill" at about mile 25, is another. I have come to believe that previous course knowledge is a good thing. Helps you plan your run a little better. Funny what a hill at 25 miles can teach you.

I think I just may have been pushing it a bit too hard, to try to finish in a time that I soon came to realize wasn't possible. Unfortunately, I realized that just after hitting the top of the hill and I just didn't have a whole lot left in the tank. I tried to eat a bit at the second to last aid station, but couldn't eat much then. I just refilled my water and hit the trail. I managed to run alright for a while, but definitely noticed a slow down, and by the time I hit the last aid station I just wanted to get to the finish line so I blew through that one again.

The last section has a nice little climb as well, and I found myself walking a good portion of it. Whenever the trail would level out, or go downhill I would run; whenever it was even hinting at an uphill, I was walking. Luckily, the finish area was all flat. And it was a good thing that I had decided to not stop at the last aid station. Coming in to the final stretch before the finish line, I could see the clock just about to turn over to 4:59. I managed to finish in less than 5 hours, and take more than an hour off my previous time! I was very happy, and not just because of my time...I could take a seat and rest. I hung out at the finish area for a few minutes, and then made my way to the car. As for the stretching the legs walking the 1/3 mile to the car after the race...I would have much rather the car been closer and did some standard stretching.

I changed clothes and rested for a bit before heading back to the finish area to wait for my wife. While waiting, I noticed a gentleman who had set up a chiropractor’s table, and was offering to make you a "well adjusted human being" for $1! That was a deal I couldn't pass up, as I had a bit of pain in my neck/upper back area. As I as watching him finish up with another person, I thought he looked familiar. When it was my turn I told him he looked a lot like Gordy Ainsleigh, to which he replied "That's because I am." I had a great back adjustment, and a nice conversation with the man who started the Western States 100 Mile Run. So far it's been a great day!

I meandered over to the finish area a little before the 7 hour mark. My wife always downplays her running, and had predicted an 8 hour-ish finish. Her work had been pretty busy lately, and she had not been feeling well with a sore throat, so she was a bit concerned about running up against the cut-off times. Well, I'm glad I decided to get there early, because she managed to run a fantastic 7:11 in her first ultramarathon, or for that matter, her first race distance longer than a half-marathon! Well, what a day indeed - we had both run well and had a great time. The race was well organized, the volunteers were magnificent, and the atmosphere was fun.

I try to take away a few lessons from each race, as there is always something to learn from each one. I know I could have done a better job hydrating and fueling during this race, even though I felt pretty good throughout, and managed to do a much better job than my first ultra and a number of my recent training runs. I also better understand the value of course experience and how it can help in planning a better strategy. Overall, Way Too Cool turned out to be a great day all the way around. I hope to run it again, and can highly recommend it to anyone thinking about trying to get in.

Good luck, and happy running!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Running Shoes and Research

I've been doing a lot of reading and researching about shoes lately - trying to learn as much as I can to make sure I get the right type of shoes for my feet, gait, and type of running - especially since I am starting to push my distances out past 50K. So far, I have found a few resources that have some good info, and wanted to pass these along to anyone interested.

First is The Lore of Running by Dr. Tim Noakes. The book is a brick - once you're done reading it, you can always use it in your strength training, it weighs that much. He covers all aspects of running, including physiology, ultrarunning, and, of course, shoes. It is considered THE authority on running, and Dr. Noakes is a highly regarded physician and research scientist, as well as endurance athlete. This book belongs on every runners bookshelf.

I've already written about this blog previously, but wanted to mention it again - The Science of Sport. It's a great blog by a couple of guys who got their Ph.D.'s from the University of Cape Town, where Tim Noakes teaches. They recently did a series on shoes. Click on the "Featured series" link at the top, as they recently did a series on shoes.

Here is a link to an article referenced in The Science of Sport post on running shoes: I'm still reading it, but so far it seems like some good info.

And here is a link to another blog referenced by The Science of Sport: This one is geared towards the barefoot crowd. I have recently started incorporating some barefoot running into my weekly training, as from what I have read so far it can help strengthen a lot of little muscles in the feet that don't get worked much due to the support shoes give. Since I have been working out with my local track club once a week - the Santa Cruz Track Club - I decided to do the barefooting after I'm finished with the weekly workout. So far, I have done it the last two weeks for about a mile each week. Can't say I notice anything different yet, but I'm not feeling any pain.

Another great book I recently bought is titled Fixing Your Feet by John Vonhof. This one is highly regarded in the ultra community, as I had seen it referenced in lots of places and seems to be "the reference" for everything feet, including shoes.

I can also recommend another book called Running Strong & Injury Free by Janet S. Hamilton. My wife has had this one for quite some time, and I just recently picked it up to see what it was all about. She has a nice section on "Understanding the Biomechanics of Gait" that is quite helpful and includes a section on shoes as well.

I'm sure there are lots more resources out there, and I'm hoping you will chime in with any you know about. I'm always looking for good, new stuff to read so lay it on me! :-) I'll update this post periodically if I come across anything new as well.

Good luck, and happy running!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

I've Been a Baaaaad Blogger

It has been way too long since I've posted here. I just haven't had the blogging mojo lately. That, and a few other things - I've been training quite a bit, and work has taken up a bit more of my "home" time too.

My running and training has been going pretty well this year. I ran Way Too Cool last month, and will post a report on that soon. My wife also ran it - it was her first ultra and she did great. I'm hoping she will write up her own report and let me post that here too! I've also been working out fairly regularly with the Santa Cruz Track Club. They are a good group of people and the workouts have helped me get some variety in my training.

I'm currently training for the Quicksilver 50 mile race, which is coming up on May 10th. I grew up in that area, and used to hike all over that park with friends as a kid. This will be my first 50 miler, and I can't wait. I will be doing a good, long training run out on the course this weekend so I can get to know it better. I feel having better course knowledge will greatly help in planning a good race day strategy.

There are some other fun things I've been up to, but I'll save those for later posts. Mostly, I just wanted anyone who comes by here to know that I'm still around, and I WILL be posting more often. I promise! :-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

PAUSATF Race Schedule Posted

The Pacific Association of USA Track and Field (PAUSATF) has posted their 2008 Ultra schedule. Seems pretty similar to last year. I'm hoping to make it to a couple on the list, starting with the Quicksilver 50M, since I wasn't able to get in to Miwok (hard to do with no power/internet access).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008 Race Schedule

Well, I've been looking at all kinds of races for 2008, and have come up with quite a few that I am interested in, though won't do all of them. I may also add a few here and there, depending on other travel/vacation plans. Here are the ones I'm looking at:

1/13/08 - PCTR Angel Island 25K. I ran this last September and what a great run it is. Fabulous views of the SF Bay all around, and a fun place to go. I probably won't try to race this one, as I'm still struggling a bit with injury.

2/2/08 - PCTR Woodside 50K. I have to run this one, as my first attempt 12/1/07 (my first ultramarathon) didn't go so well, and I really think I can run a much better time. PCTR has also started a race series for 2008 and I'm hoping I can muster a few finishes with points by the end of the year.

2/16/08 - Western States Training Run #1. I may try to run this, only because I would like to get out on the WS trail and begin to become familiar with it. Someday, I hope to run Western States, and there is no time like the present to start to get to know it.

3/8/08 - Way Too Cool 50K. - Both my wife Lori and I are in this one. Sounds like a fun time, though from what I have read it tends to be somewhat crowded.

3/22/08 - PCTR Pirates Cove 50K. This is a maybe on my schedule and depends on whether I decide to run the next one on the list (and how I'm feeling after Way Too Cool).

3/22/08 - Rucky Chucky 50K. This one covers part of the Western States trail as well. Additionally, it is part of the race series and I wouldn't mind participating in that.

4/19/08 - Sunsweet Tehama Wildflowers 50K. I have done some fishing on the Sacramento River in this area, and it is beautiful. This race is also part of the race series.

4/27/08 - PCTR Big Basin 50K. I was supposed to run this as my first ultra last September, but got a nasty cold the week before that knocked me out. Since I live close by, this is a no-brainer.

5/3/08 - Miwok 100K. One of my primary goals this year is to run a qualifier for Western States so I can throw my name in the hat for 2009 and this one would give me that opportunity. This is still a question mark for me, as I'm on the fence about doing a 100 Km. before doing a 50 miler. I have heard so much about the course though, that I really would like to run this one. I'll have to make up my mind soon, as registration opens in less than a week and it fills fast.

5/10/08 - Quicksilver 50M. If I bail out of doing Miwok, then this will be my first opportunity to run a WS qualifier. This race is run in an area I used to hike (and go searching for snakes with my friends) as a kid. My parents still live in the area, so even if I don't do this one this year, I will run it sometime just because it is in "my neighborhood."

5/24-26/08 - Western States Training Run #2. Not sure if I will do this, but it sounds like a fun time and great way to learn a significant part of the trail. Also, I may try to pace someone, and if so, I will need to know the course.

6/14/08 - PCTR Santa Cruz 50K. I ran this last year as my first trail race since I ran the Dipsea twice in the late 1990's. I also do a lot of my regular runs on parts of this course, and live just down the road from Henry Cowell Redwood State Park. Again, this is a no-brainer for me.

7/5/08 - PCTR Angel Island (not sure what distance, though). Lori and I really liked the Angel Island run last September, so even though we are running this in January, I wouldn't mind going back again (and again, and...). Not sure what distance, though, as I am looking at doing the Tahoe Rim Trail (not sure what distance there, also) and I may not want to push things too much.

7/12/08 - Siskiyou Out Back 50K. Again, this is a bit of a question mark due to other race interests. I love the Ashland, Oregon area and would love to get back up there, as it has been awhile since I have visited there. If I do go, I would probably try to take a couple extra days to go do a little fishing up on the Rogue River, or shoot east a bit and fish the Williamson River (great hexigenia limbata hatch going on this time of the year on the Williamson River - brings big trout up top and they can get stupid with the floating buffet going by every evening :-)).

7/19/2008 - Tahoe Rim Trail 50K/50M/100M. All the race reports I read on this one have made it sound like a fantastic race. And the scenery, well, how can you go wrong up in the Tahoe area? This also has the benefit of being part of the series, as well as being the national championship for both USATF and RRCA for the 100M trail distance, so there will be lots of speedy folks to watch and cheer on along the way. Not sure about the distance I will do if I go.

8/3/08 - San Francisco Marathon. This is on my list because Lori is planning to run this, so I will be up there to support her in whatever way I can. This will be her first marathon. Kinda funny, since she will have already done an ultra if everything works out well and she is able to finish the Way Too Cool 50 Km. in March that we are signed up for.

8/9/08 - PCTR Headlands Hundred (50M/100M). This may be my first 100 miler, though I am not sure I want to push myself that far this year. It will depend on how things go earlier in the summer and how I am feeling. If I don't do the 100M, then maybe the 50M. Again, I have heard so much about the course and this race in particular - and you can't go wrong with a PCTR run, as Wendell and Sarah (and Aaron) put on great runs/races (in beautiful places).

9/6/08 - PCTR Redwood Park (not sure about distance). Another question mark run. Depends on lots of things. I have heard lots about the great trails in the Oakland/East Bay area and this would be a great way to learn about some of them.

9/20/08 - Sierra Nevada Endurance Run. Yet another question mark. Sounds like a great place and race, and it is part of the race series. Guess it depends on whether I have any points in the series, and how I am feeling. This is done in conjunction with the Rio del Lago 100M race, which is also part of the race series.

10/5/08 - PCTR Carmel Valley (not sure on distance). I ran the 25K race in October 2007, and while I did well, it kicked my ass. I would like to go back and see if I perform better on those brutal climbs and descents.

10/25/08 - Whiskeytown 50K. This race is held in the mountains east of Redding, along Clear Creek. A beautiful area, I almost ran this in 2007, but decided not to as it would have been on the front end of a week + long camping trip that Lori and I took up to the McCloud River and we didn't want to start off all sweaty and stinky (we got stinky enough as it was). We will most likely do the camping trip again (it has become an annual trip for us) and so may just time it for the start of that.

11/8/08 - PCTR Stinson Beach (no link yet, and not sure on distance). This is a question mark, but I would like to run at least one more PCTR run before the end of the year, depending on how I am feeling and where I am points-wise in their race series.

11/22/08 - Quad Dipsea. A beautiful course, no doubt, and challenging. I have run the Dipsea twice, back in the late 1990's, and would love to do the quad - just for the sheer brutality of the climbs and descents.

12/20/08 - PCTR Rodeo Beach (no link yet, and not sure on distance). Again, this is a question mark, but it would be a nice distraction from all the holiday shenanigans going on.

So there it is, for all to scrutinize and hold me accountable for. Kinda scary. A number of them are question marks as I just can't say for sure that I'll be able to do some of them. And a few are in there as options if I don't do others. But still, there are a total of 24 races on the list. No way I'm doing them all, but I hope to be able to do quite a few of them.

Happy New Year to all, and I hope you have a healthy and trail running filled 2008!