Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Training Run : Galloping Goose and Lockside Trails, Victoria, BC

On a recent week-long family trip to Victoria, BC I had the good luck to get permission from my wife to have some 'me' time to explore downtown by foot. I used this opportunity to explore two local trail gems called 'Galloping Goose' and 'Lockside'.

Specifically, I ran a 20 mile out and back from the Hotel Grand Pacific in downtown up Galloping Goose to Lockside then out north all the way to the Red Barn Market near Cordova Bay.  The trail is mixed road, trail and some single track with water stops and a couple bathrooms.  If you are a cyclist there are tire pump stations as well.  Lockside is a particular treat because the route is largely shaded by tree canopy.

The start of Galloping Goose is actually at the intersection of Harbour and Esquimlat Roads just outside the Johnson St bridge (purple).   To get to the start from Belleville St, simply follow Wharf to Johnson St (red). I doubt you'll get lost since you can see the bridge most of the way.  A couple important notes.  Once you leave downtown it will become harder and harder to find bathrooms so take care of business before you start out.  The last bathroom/cafe is Caffe Fantastico on the left side of Harbour St just before you cross the street to continue on the trail.

You will continue on Galloping Goose trail along the harbour for roughly 5 miles then come to The Switch where Galloping Goose veers right and Lockside left.  Here is the overall map of what's technically called Galloping Goose 'East'.

Once you are past the switch you leave busy downtown behind for the more rural roads and farms along Lockside.

You'll go from city to country roads like below.

 Then to more narrow county paths.


Eventually treating you with cedar, Tom oaks and fern covered deer trails.


There are several surprises along the way; including:
  • A bronze statue honoring the early settlers of the Blenkinsop Valley.  The entire trail in this area is on a raised wooden platform.
  • Various kiosks treating passersby to free (or a small donation) flowers and vegetables.
  • Recycled material art
  • Beautiful views of the bay once you reach Cordova Bay

I picked the end of my run to be the Red Barn Market since it was almost exactly 10 miles from my hotel, had many organic foods/drinks to pick from.  I particularly liked once of their local ginger beers (non alcoholic) by Philips made with real cane sugar and ginger.  Very good.  And, of course their made to order sandwiches were excellent. 

I had to wait until I got to my brother 'n laws house to enjoy some of the local beers because a) you can only buy beer at particular liquor stores, b) I had no idea what was good.  Both beers below were excellent.

We had a fantastic week in Victoria eating too much, spend the day sailing on a 25 foot sail boat out from Sidney and explored many of the nearby islands, and other touristy areas like Butchard's Garden.  You can see and feel the effort city architects put into 'urban planning' to bring housing and jobs together whilst keeping the rural nature of the island.  Locally grown foods are widely available in the many markets and restaurants.  And, of course, trail running in the summer is just great fun.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Training and Recovery : Massage Envy Spa of Pleasanton, CA

What could be better than being part of the 2014 San Francisco Marathon Ambassador team and finishing the marathon on July 27, 2014?  A complimentary post-race Sports Massage that's for sure!

I had been contacted a month before race day by Massage Envy Spa if I'd like to enjoy a Sports Massage in exchange for reviewing the experience. Heck ya!

For the record, I had a three month pre-paid massage contract early in the year (Jan-Mar, 2014) and had already found Massage Envy Spa in Pleasanton and had my favorite massage therapist (Charles).  But, I got busy with life and training and didn't renew.  Since March I've run two 50Ks, a road marathon, did one day of the Western States (WS100) training camp up in ForestHill, CA and paced the last half of the American River 50 mile race.  I was beyond ready for a professional tuneup.

Based on my post-race sports massage on Aug 7th, I have officially started my next three month contract (Aug-Nov, 2014).  Here was my experience.

Meet and Greet

I arrived 15 min early to my appointment to sit down with Heather to review my Wellness Chart and based on my Survey to fine tune my session with Charles to pointed out any areas that needed special attention.  For me my calves were still a bit tight around the Soleus as well as my shoulders.  The session was to last 1 hour total and broken by:
  • 5 min discussion with massage therapist, dress down
  • 50 minutes of massage
  • 5 min wrap-up plus redress
Forms and fine tuning request with Heather
Tranquility Room

After my chit-chat with Heather to fine tune today's session, she lead me to the 'Tranquility Room' or waiting area where she offered my choice of infused or plain water while Charles finished with his other client.  The seats were comfortable, with pleasant music, faux waterfall (can't see but on the right) and a chance to just relax or chi-chat with other customers.

Chill 'er Tranquility Room

The Sports Massage

Sorry, no naked shots of myself nor Charles. [Thank goodness]  The large rooms have a massage table in the center, small table with mints (my favorite) and rear counter-top with cabinets.  The rear counter area has sink, towels, microwave for heating towels, etc.

Depending on if you requested a full-body massage or wanted specific areas worked on you could be on your stomach, back, side, etc.  I started on my stomach and Charles went to work first relaxing my shoulders (Trapezius muscles) by using his thumb/palm as point source then his arm to generally relax the area.  I requested 'deep massage' so yes initially it hurt but hurt good!  I get tense shoulders not only wearing a hydration pack on long runs but as an office worker spending way too much time sitting poorly in front of desk, staring at a computer screen.

If you want to keep from getting injured it is very important to keep your string of muscles loose since it only takes ONE to tighten up and start a snowball event on the other muscles getting pulled.  So, while on my stomach, the first series he worked on my foot arche (Plantar Fasciitis), Calves (Soleus, Gastroc) then hamstring. [Technically Gluteus would be the last but I normally don't get sore nor cramp up there]

For the last part of the session I flipped over and he worked on my quads and some of the minor shin stabilizing muscles.  I have a tendency to get shin-splints (inner shin) which is probably due to some muscle asymmetry in my quads. So, Charles helps to keep them knot free as I perform squats and step exercises on my own to build up my inner quads (v. Medialis, etc).

Lets dig deep (pun intended) on what I mean by 'worked on'.  It is one thing to merely apply light pressure up and down a muscle.  Fine for general work but does little to restore flexibility.  To get a tight calve to relax after a tough workout you need to search the muscle using a finger for either a tight spot or a clients face cringing (or audible 'ouch!').  Once a sensitive spot is found and if it is indeed a knot (which is probably is) the knot needs to be 'melted'.  The best way to melt a knot is to apply point pressure and hold until the knot relaxes.  The first time I saw Charles I had 4 knots in my Soleus junction.  This time I only had one.  It is hard to explain how you feel after having all the tightness removed from your calves and have your full or near full flexibility back.  Feels wonderful afterwards like you can run another 50K trail race!

Post Massage

Charles offered me the infused water then back to the reception area.  As I wrote in the intro.  I didn't realize how tight I was until my session with Charles and realized based on the amount of running and races I'm doing I really need a sports massage once per month and signed up for another three-month plan.

Charles - one great Sports Massage Therapist!


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Race Report : Skyline 50K, Sunday, Aug 3rd, 2014

The Skyline 50K is a local northern California Bay Area favorite which spans at least two great Parks : Lake Chabot and Redwood Regional.  According to the race website, the course is 31.3 miles long covering 4750 ft.of vertical climb.

This race is a typical 'trail' race in that is is small (~300 runners), laid back, very supportive with a very well marked course, Aid Stations (AS) and finishers table.  This particular race also features grilled hamburgers, hot links and BEER!

Bling consists of a finishers bag with socks and shirt imprinted with the race name. No, there are no medals except AG or overall top finishers.  Who needs another finishers metal to toss into a box anyway?

This race was recommended to me by my Forward Motion Race Club (FMRC) mentor, Dave Stark, as well as the FMRC Ultra Group lead, Todd Shipman, as a preview of what the Dick Collins 50 miler might be like.

The race starts at what should be the very familiar Lake Chabot marina and you go out from the left side heading for the dam.

Here is a pic of Dave and I not too long before the start:

The weather this morning was a very refreshing 63 degrees with overcast clouds - perfect running conditions.  I got there an hour early and had plenty of time to get my bib and use the restroom.  At the start the RD made a short speech, indicated the course would be marked in PINK ribbons this day then said 'GO'. And that was it. We were off!

The course itself is a figure eight with many rolling hills.  The foggy mist stayed with us for the entire morning and looked like this:

 You run a mixture of fireroads like pictured above and wonderful canopy-covered single track.  It is impossible to get lost on this course because you have:
  • Pink ribbons marking the trail
  • Flour markings indicating where to go and not to go
  • Course marshals at important intersections
In addition to rolling hills are several steep hills were all but the most elite athlets power walk up.  The woman below also happens to be wearing a pink version of OrangeMud's HydroQuiver.  Was fun chatting with her for awhile.

Eventually, the fireroads take you to the more technical and rugged Redwood Regional Park.  The trail twists and turns with exposed roots, rocks and steps until eventually becoming single-track. This area is frequented by The San Francisco Running Company trail runners.

Here we start to see the skinny, tall redwoods but the trail is still wide.  I don't actually have pictures of the fun single-track trails because I was having too much fun zipping down them and trying not to face plant or slip of the trail down the sheer sides

On interesting note.  There was very little poison oak that I could see.  Which was great.  However, I was asked by a course marshal around mile 13 if I had been stung by a bee.  What, no I replied.  He said that I was the only one that had not and nearly every other run had.  Some runners had been stung 8 times.  I have never heard of this happening before and luckily didn't happen to me. One runner in front of me had one bee sting on his right leg.   I'm not really sure what one should do on a trail with a cloud of angry bees.  'Run' sounds like a good start but where?

Dave finished in sub-6 hours and nearly PR'ed.  I took at least an hour longer to finish and was having a hard time with the final hill climb around mile 26.  We enjoyed the food, the keg of Anchor Steam beer and chit-chating with all the other finishers.  Pictured below is group shot with the very well known ultra runner, Sophia Shi, who finished in 5:30 and has run marathons or longer distance in all 50 states and nearly all continents - she plans to finish her last continent Australia soon!

Figure 8 course as captured by my Garmin 410 and reported on Strava.

And Elevation profile.

Looking forward to tackling the DC Fireroads 50 miler in October!

For a humorous writeup by a VERY fast trail runner, read Running John's review.


Product Review : Suunto Ambit 2R GPS sampling modes vs Garmin 410

If you would like very detailed analysis of various GPS watches then I suggest you read DC Rainmaker's reviews:
After running with both watches on a 50K trail race today, I'm specifically going to compare one of the Suunto Ambit 2R (2R) four GPS modes called 'OK' with that of the unchangeable Garmin 410 (1 data point every 4 seconds mode - Similar to 2R's 'Good' GPS mode).

The 2R has four GPS modes:

Mode Battery Life Sampling Frequency
Best 8h 1 sec
Good 12h 5 sec
OK 25h 60 sec
Off 160h N/A

The 50K trail course was 'measured' by the race director (RD) using Nike Tailwind and is believed to be 31.3 miles with 4,750 ft gain/loss (via USGS Topo! software).  Both numbers probably have 10% variance.

Here is what was measured by 2R and Garmin410:

2R Garmin410
Distance 27.3 30.2
Elapsed Time 6:52:32 6:52:42
Moving Time 4:41:13 6:43:20
Pace ?, 10:19/mi 13:38/mi, 13:23/mi
Elevation Gain 6106 ft 4219 ft

Clearly the 2R only recording every 60 seconds in 'OK' GPS mode was having a difficult time determining distance and elevation gain.  From an end-users point of view, I found the displayed 'pace' value more than delayed by just a minute and was often frustrated waiting minutes for the watch to catch up to my actual pace.  I ended up using the Garmin for pace feedback.

It is a long distance trail runners dream to have a single watch that can log GPS data for 25 hours!  However, the 'OK' mode logging data every 60 seconds is mostly useless (for me).

I have another 50K coming up where I plan to wear both watches again but this time I will use the 2R in 'Good' mode which logs GPS data every 5 seconds (comperable to every 4 seconds for the Garmin 410) and the 2R has a reported 12 hour battery life (again compared to 8 hours for Garmin 410).  I will update this page when I have additional information to share.

PS Both watches were charged to 100% full battery and after nearly 7 hours of running I had 13% left on the Garmin and 78% on the 2R.  Reducing the GPS sampling frequency truly has a remarkable impact on battery life.


Friday, August 1, 2014

Race Report : The San Francisco Marathon 2014 : Not your typical race report.

"You're a [track, road, trail] sprinter / runner / hiker / shuffler / walker!"  What?  Life can be so confusing and limiting for those that label and identify themselves by their means of a workout and preferred race venue.  If you are a track runner and normally train and race on the track then what you are not allowed to run on the road nor hike a state/federal park?  Sure from an equipment point of view there are specific differences in equipping, training and planning for workouts/races on track but isn't it your goal and how you strive towards that goal that ultimately matters?

If your goal is to set a Personal Record (PR) or Boston Qualify (BQ) by optimizing speed via minimizing weight, aid station (AS) time, interaction with fellow runners, spectators or the scenic views then great! In contrast, if your goal is to eventually finish whilst enjoying the spectacle and exclusivity of running on closed city streets (and bridges!),  taking in panoramic views, chit-chating with fellow adventurers from all over the world and just having fun.  That is fine too!  You could even be a someone who normally enjoys only running on trails using and using the course as a training run dialing in equipment and fuel/fluid replenishment procedures. Each is a specific goal which can be trained, planned, executed for and enjoyed.  

A friend of mine recently nailed this topic for me in his piece on 'Hike It Like It' site entitled, "Footprints in the Paella :Reflection on Backpacking, Trail Running, and Stereotypes" where he tackles stereotypes and argues that shouldn't we "not [to] identify our respective backpacking/hiking/running personas, but instead [to] focus on our goals trip by trip?"

My goal for Sunday, July 27th was to complete a 26 plus mile training run, dial-in equipment, fuel/fluid replenishment routines, socialize with other runners, enjoy the incredible scenic vistas and encourage others to find and strive towards their goals.  In full disclosure I was part of the 2014 San Francisco Marathon Ambassadors team and directly resulted in the registration of a number of runners to this event.

Below is my review of the 2014 San Francisco Marathon broken down by : Equipment & Supplies, Pre-race expo, Race Day, Post-race reflections.

I) Equipment & Supplies

This is my typical trail running attire that doesn't change much and is normally packed and ready to go in my 'go bag'.

  • Shoes : Hoka Stinsons
  • Socks : Injinji medium weight toe socks
  • Calf Guards : Generic mesh calf guards from Amazon used to protect me from brush and poison oak.
  • Shorts : Pocketed Nike DryFit - preferably with side pockets and rear zip pocket.
  • Shirt : long sleeved micro-weave technical shirt
  • Packs : OrangeMud single HydraQuiver, Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Essential
  • Hat : Technical 'head sweats'
Fluid, Fuel and Supplies:  I'm not a morning person nor a particularly big breakfast person especially before a race.  I try to get up at least two hours before a race start to eat something like a powerbar and get to the race one hour before the start to mix and mingle.  I carry my own food but I will eat from an AS table if they have boiled potatoes (my favorite) or freshly cut sweet watermelon.  For a race that is longer than three hours (which a road marathon is for me) I use a simple 50:50 mixture of UCAN's SuperStarch and GU Roctane.  The super starch lays down a minimal blood sugar level and the roctane with (MaltoDextrin and simple sugars) provides short and medium term energy.  I supplement with GU (or boiled potatoes) every hour.  I ended up refilling my 23 oz bottle once and ate four Gels.
  • 23 oz bottle filled with ice cubes, 2 scopes of UCAN SuperStarch, 2 scopes of grape flavored GU Roctane (no caffeine).
  • Extra set of powdered UCAN/Roctane in small baggies for refill at mile 13 AS
  • Two Hammer and three GU gels
  • Emergency pack with knife, band-aides, Ibuprofen, Imodium AD, Antacids, money and expired drivers license.

II) Pre-race Expo

Given the race had no same-day registration and an early 5:30AM start I booked a room at the Parc55 which is right off the Powell Street BART exit, not close but not too far from the Mission Street and The Embarcadero Start.  I enjoyed the 45min ride from Pleasanton to SF, checked into the hotel then ran the ~2.5 miles to the race expo held at the Fort Mason Center.

  Was treated along the way with the normal noise, hustle and bustle of The City on a Saturday; such as, street demonstrations, intoxicated locals and the quirky shops on Polk Street.

Please note there was a free shuttle that ran from the Hyatt Embarcadero to Fort Mason but I needed a shakeout run and really wasn't interested in queuing up for a shuttle and all that.

Along the way for the explorer was The Great Meadow which you pretty much have to go through to make your way to the stairs that brings you down to the Fort.  I actually stopped here for at least 20min taking in the many nice views, tons of people sun bathing, playing lawn games, picnicking, walking their dogs/children or just hanging out.  A friendly, clean and fun 'local neighborhood park'.

Once you start down the stairs from The Great Meadow you see this view in the distance.  A mass of cars/shuttles and runners with that determination in their eyes (Where's my BIB!)  It was your typical race expo with vendor and sponsor booths, a place to pick up your bib, shirt, information desk, etc.  Bart Yasso, running legend, was making his rounds chit-chating with lucky runners.

I didn't take many pictures inside the Expo except with Lark - head of marketing at SF Marathon and all around cool person.

[Tip - get your ID checked and yellow wrist band at the expo so you don't have to wait in line to the beer garden]

[Tip - there is a table of technical shirts from prior years races where you can score one for $5 each!  I bought two.]

 III) Race Day!

Rewind slightly to the night before race day.  Given I haven't lived in SF for about 20 years I forgot what downtown was like ... especially at night.  O'Farrell and neighboring streets are host to several VERY popular bars/nightclubs - including the one across the street from my room.  Party goers pretty much made as much noise with their mouths as they did honking from their limos until about closing time 3AM.  Not that I was going to get much sleep before race day anyway, but I pretty much only got an hours sleep before the alarm went off at 4AM.  The room did have curtains, shades to make the room dark and a complimentary pair of ear plugs!  OK, maybe I got two hours of sleep having gone to bed around 9:30PM.  It was all kinda a blur.

I knew it would take 20 min to walk from the hotel to the start, plus I wanted to be an hour early so subtracting 1.5 hours from Wave 5 starting at 6:01AM that meant I had to leave the hotel no later than 4:30AM.  So, up at 4AM, eat/dress then down to lobby to request late checkout (1PM) since I was running a Marathon after all and couldn't control when I'd finish and be back at the hotel.  The registration desk agreed and I hoped actually updated the computer.

[Tip : If your hotel isn't runner friendly and automatically give you late checkout, then request one which is normally complimentary and done with the morning registration crew morning of checkout day.  They should give you at least a one our late checkout, but could be extended based on their loading up to three hours.]

I arrived right on time and there were few people at the start around 5AM.  Used this opportunity to hunt down fellow Ambassadors (in Orange) and friends.  Got lucky and found several from Fleetfeet Pleasanton and ARMed and Dangerous race clubs.  Couldn't find my running friends from FMRC nor MountainHouse.  The porta-pottie lines were too long but I knew there they'd be much less busy on the course.  Sure enough I had my own private bathroom near the HM mark. Yeah, I took a two minute detour but used it also as a walk break.

At 5:30AM the elites took off and Waves started their march towards the start line.  For a race with more than 26,000 participants the process was amazingly well organized and orderly.  There were a few stragglers that missed their Wave but in the end if you really cared about your time you were chipped and probably had your Smart, GPS-enabled Phone/Watch anyway.  I stayed with other Ambassadors in our tent until my Wave 5 came by thinking I could scope out and catch my friends.  Not!  There were just too many people in my wave and I ended up packing near the 4:20 pace group and sticking with them.

Here is a picture of some Wave 3 Ambassadors lit by the Bay Bridge and with morning blue skies as background.  The air was thick with anticipation.

I also just happen to catch Pavement Runner who elected (was bribed, inebriated?) to run the Double Marathon.  Brian started at midnight and had just finished his first marathon loop before starting off with us on his second loop.  That's more than 50 miles of SF road running.  Rather hardcore and a testament to Brian's running ability, fund raising prowess and probably his sanity! Read his full review here.

The San Francisco Marathon group did something that VERY few large organized running events do and that was offer free photos.  Sure we are used to that in the small trail and ultra running community but in the road running arena by folks like Rock 'n Roll that is rare.  I greatly appreciated the free photos and more than one were actually well shot.  I hope this trend catches on!

Since, I don't run with music in my ear I chatted with several people and asked where they were from, their professions and their goals for the race.  I received many questions about the 'Orange Ambassador Shirt' and of course why was I wearing a pack and that sort of thing.  One friendly guy in his 50s had just qualified for Boston, was beaming with pride and was just enjoying being in SF and 'running with his friends'.

On course, there was one guy offering cups of free beer as well as another guy offering 'free hugs'.  I didn't take part in either but I did chase bubbles coming out of the baby stroller equipped with one huge bubble machine.  That was cool.  As well as the random house that had their hose angled so to shower us with cold tap water.  Sounds strange but felt great.

Bling for those that are into heavy medal included a finishers medal and several others if you participated in the various challenges.  A fellow runner reminded me that we ran the Inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon last year which qualified us for the second medal.

There were also the usual bagels, water, Coconut water, bananas, muffins, etc.  But for those that know me it all pales in comparison to a celebratory finishers beer!  There was Sierra Nevada on tap including Torpedo and another red/dark IPA that I had.  Yup, nothing speaks reward and accomplishment louder than a cold beer with friends after an completing an adventure!

[Repeated Tip - get your ID checked and yellow wrist band at the expo so you don't have to wait in line to the beer garden]

I used both Garmin and Strava app running on my iPhone 5 to track actual pace and route. Why? Mostly to make sure I didn't run too fast and to keep a nice and easy shuffle.

If you are into elapsed times...  I finished the marathon in 4:35 hours according to official chip timing (although Strava reported running time of 4:30) with a 2:13 first half and 2:22 second half.  I was perfectly fine with my run time, felt fresh at the finish, but somewhat disappointed that I let heat reduce my pace in the second half.  The morning was a cool 65 with a slight breeze off the ocean which let itself to a super easy early morning run.  [The first half is truly an enjoyable run because of the incredible views and cool breeze off the ocean]

Part of the second half from GG park through mission back to the bay bridge is basically running through exposed neighborhood and industrial streets in warmer 77 deg heat.  Yeah, I know we [trail runners] will and do run in 100+ deg degree heat with a smile on our faces but dang it 'felt' hot and I actually slowed down my pace considerably.  If I could do something over again I would  maintain my 9:30-10:00 pace throughout the second half.

IV) Post-race reflections

The San Francisco Marathon is a USATF certified and measured course complete with chip timing, aid stations (AS) nearly every other mile, spectators, bands and offers big city culture mixed with incredibly panoramic views of the Bay.  I achieved my goal of getting in a 26+ mile training run, taking in some beautiful SF scenery and yes had my celebratory beer. 

I was ogled on the course because I wore ‘trail’ shoes, mesh calf sleeves and my OrangeMud backpack/quiver. I was asked ‘Hey, where are you hiking too?’, ‘Are you a trail runner?’, ‘Why would you wear a pack when there are ASs every other mile?”.  I used these opportunities to talk about goals, how supportive the greater running community is in helping us plan and achieve our goals.  I also dispensed electrolyte tabs, salt pills and band-aids to those that needed them (from my pack).

I would definitely run The San Francisco Marathon again and also feel I'm ready for my next adventure in completing a local trail race named Skyline 50K this Sunday.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Training Weekend : Running with the Devil (Mt Diablo)

This past weekend was a blast for several reasons.

I recently joined a FaceBook (FB) running group named 'TrailTime!' that not only focus exclusively on trail running but also started later in the morning!  Many running workouts start 6AM or even earlier so runners can get a workout in and make their long commutes to work or are just early risers. And early mornings generally equates to cooler starts with more running before it gets hot midday.  However, for us running sloths (or at least non-morning people) getting to a training start by 6AM means waking up at 5AM and it is just not going to happen especially on a weekend.  Thank goodness for TrailTime! and their typical 7-8:30AM start times!

The two TrailTime! runs this past weekend were:

1) Saturday (07/19) - ~10 mile Mt Diablo loop from the Walnut Creek sometimes called the 'Northgate' side.  We started from Old Borges Ranch (1035 Castle Rock Road, Walnut Creek, CA ) which is very near, less than half mile, from the Castle Rock park entrance.

2) Sunday (07/20) ~16 mile Mt Diablo Summit run.  There were actually two options both starting from St Timothy, Danville (1550 Diablo Rd, Danville, CA) sometimes called the 'Southgate' side.  First option was a normal ~10 mile loop.  The second option was a 16 mile out and back: out 8 miles up 3,849' to the fist summit and 8 miles back.

Saturday ~10 mile loop run:
It was TrailTime! founder, Dina's birthday so yes many of us ran the entire distance with party hats on. We ran at a moderate pace with plenty of meetup and break-off spots for shorter routes which was consistent with a good 'no drop' training run. Dave was the trail leader and had us exploring several secret 'squirrel' paths that looked barely like hints of single-track trail of the main fire roads! 

Most trails in the area are tree lined with dry, brown grass.  It is summer in a desert state after all.  There are no water fountains along the way so typical routes circle back to the ranch which has both restrooms and water fountains.

Morning was cool ~60s with forecasted high of 85 for the day but we were done well before it got hot.  The trails were dusty and in some places you could find poison oak, the occasional rattlesnake and luckily thus far no ticks. There are plenty of rolling fire roads and challenging single track.  Here I'm wearing calf mesh guards to keep brush from scraping my calves, a singlet and a single 23 oz hand-held loaded with ice and GU's Roctane (grape flavored with no caffeine).

This was a perfect training day in cool morning air, running with friends, along hidden single track.

Sunday ~16 mile out and back summit run/hike:

Many of the same people from Saturday elected (politely peer pressured) into running 'The Summit'.  There was an official 10 mile loop that many people do on Sunday but the leader Carrie had been wanting to 'do the summit' for a entire season and her desire to 'Summit!' was infectious.  I knew I was tapering for The San Francisco Marathon on July 27th but sometimes the lure of adventure into the unknown is just too alluring.

We started from the Danville or 'Southgate' side about half a mile outside the park.  There were two Summit groups one that started at 6AM and another that started at 7AM.  We started with the latter mostly because we were not 'morning people' but decided we didn't want to kill ourselves with a fast pace and just wanted to enjoy the journey up the mountain.  Yes we got separated from the main group and yes we got lost at least 4 or 5 times as seen by the many 'spikes' of the main trail if you look at the Strava route pictured towards the end. But, man did we have fun on this trek.  Below I snapped a quick pic of Vivek pointing at our next potential adventure running up Mt Hamilton. Yeah right!

We zig-zagged up the mountain from one marker to another. Most of the major trails and junctions are well marked and very easy to follow.  We got turned around a few times but mostly because we were unfamiliar with the route and our maps didn't have all the street/trail names. We were, however, no more than 30 min behind due to wrong turns.  Not bad.

As far as fluid and fuel, there are few water fountains and many were shutoff due to the drought.  I elected to wear my Ultimate Direction AK vest equipped with 2 liter reservoir plus two 16 oz bottles. I felt secure that I had more than enough water but man even with only 1.5 liters of water it sure was heavy.  I filled the hydopack with just iced water and the two 16oz bottles with a 50:50 mixture of UCAN and GU Roctane.  For additional fuel I packed four Hammer gels but only used two.  There were water fountains and restrooms at the Mt Diablo campground (Mile 4) and at the Summit (Mile 8).  If the weather is cool, you can easily make the run with a single 23oz hand-held and the two above water stops.

After roughly three hours elapsed time including detours we finally crested the peak and were treated with an incredibly beautiful panoramic view of the area.  I am NOT posting the panoramic view because the picture just would not reflect the feeling of cresting the peak and the expansive view in all 360 degrees.  You have to trek up the mountain and see it for yourself.  It helped that it was misty, semi clouded and the sun had just broken through.  Just stunning views.  There were several cyclist also enjoying the peaceful vista.

In eight miles you cover roughly 3,450 ft of elevation climb, then the same coming down.  The level of workout you'll get is totally dependent on your elected pace.  You can cruise and get a good workout or sprint up then down and get an insane workout.  Our group generally opted for the former. Although it was kinda hard not to bomb down certain stretches of twisting single track.  Just fun trail running.