Sunday, November 22, 2015

Race Report (with video) : V3 Hopfest 60 mile ride : 09/19/2015

A friend of mine knew I started cycling again and was looking for a good local race to 'break in my saddle'.  Dennis recommended a local race called Veteran's Victory Velo (v3) that combines 30/60/100 mile routes that tour the beautiful rolling San Ramon, Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton hills with beer garden finish!  Earnings from the race primarily benefit the Sentinels of Freedom fund which helps severely injured veterans pursuit of higher education and integration into private-sector life.  Fun tour of the tri-county area, beer and benefit of local veterans group?  I was in!

Ride Stats: distance, start time, elevation gain, expected completion time...

Distance Start Time Elevation Gain Rough Completion Time
30 9:30AM 1,131ft 2 Hours
60 8:00AM 2,500ft 4 Hours
100 7:30AM 6,867ft 7 Hours

I brief step back.  Prior the 'race' I signed up with a local cycling club called, Valley Spokesman Bicycle Club, and rode one of their standard 60 miles rides.  It was nearly the same route as V3!  The spokeman group were experienced riders whom I learned proper bike etiquette from like hand signals to give warning of hazards or just turns/stops coming up, etc.  Getting back into riding you're going to look like a newbie, especially coming from another sport, but at least you can do so safely.

Race morning: There were three distances 30/60/100 with starting times of 9:30AM/8:00AM/7:30AM.  Sign in to pick up bib and goodie bag started at 6:00AM at Bishop Ranch.   My friend I agreed to meet there about 7AM to give the 100 milers time to get through the registration line and us another hour of sleep.  I woke up at 5:30AM, ate and was out the door by 6:30 and there by 6:45AM. There was ample parking and very clearly layed out signin.  First you signed you waiver then brought it plus your confirmation sheet with scan-code to the signin table.  I was in/out in a couple of minutes.  They didn't have the 4oz beer glasses and we were told we'd pick those up after we finished. Motivation!

Hit the porta-poties, store goodie-bags in the car and finish filing water bottles, pumping tires, etc.

Fifteen minutes before start at 7:45AM the race director (RD) called everyone over to the pre-race briefing tent (later the band stage) to go over why we were all there, Star Spangle Banner by local Pleasanton troup then were shuffled over to the start line. 

There were several Harleys that lead us out to the start. See short 1 min videos below to get a feel for the various road conditions.



Out to Sycamore Valley Rd (Mile 4.5):


Luitano Rd ( Mile 10):


Victoraine Rd (Mile 16):


Tesla Rd (Mile 35):


Rest Stops:
1)         23.2 Miles – Leo R. Croce Elementary, 5650 Scenic Ave, Livermore
2)         40.2 Miles – Lunch, Alden Lane Nursery, 981 Alden Lane, Livermore

First Rest Stop - Sausage, potatoes, fruit and electrolytes!


After the race, you could use your ticket to 'purchase' one lunch and use your beer glass for unlimited beer tasting - yes unlimited.  I believe I sampled four beers before calling it a day.

Several local brewers had tents including:
  • Schubros Brewery
  • Eight Bridges
  • Calicraft Brewing Co
  • Altimont Beer Works
  • Black Diamond Brewing Company
  • Knee Deep Brewing Co
  • Fieldwork Brewing
  • Angry Orchard
  • Deschutes
  • EJ Phair Brewing Company
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company
  • High Water Brewing
  • Aqotango Amber Ale
  • Sierra Nevada
  • Working Man Brewing Co
  • Bear Republic Brewing Co
  • SpeakEasy
  • Handles Gastropub
Summary : V3 is a relaxing tour of the tri-county area with beer/food finish.  You really can't ask for more. I would definitely do this 'race' next year.

One of my favorites : Lagunitas!

Dennis and I sharing post-race recovery drinks


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Race Report : First ever Duathlon : 3.6 M Run/22 M Bike/1.8 M Run

A couple months back I decided for no reason to train and race in a Duathlon.  I knew I wanted to do a muli-sport, knew I wasn't a competitive swimmer, and settled on a Duathlon.  A duathlon is a two-sport race hence the name where you run, bike then run again.  Not to be confused with a bi-ahtlon that combines cross country skiing and shooting things with a rifle!  There are various distances just like in a Triathlon from sprint, Olympic to full. Read official distances here.

I consulted with a talented triathlete I know named 'Jim' who recommended a local race held by 'Wolf' in the San Pablo Dam area, Orinda, CA.  I knew the area was hilly,  beautiful and given the next race was a month away jumped at the chance to race it.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

International Marathons : When there's not enough crazy locally

Tired of your local marathons and want to trick the significant other into a runner destination race?  Then here are some international marathons for you to consider, their ballot dates and fees to consider.  Three of these are all part of the World Marathon Majors (WMM). Link here.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Race Report : ITR Running 35k at Folsom Lake : Hydration Test #3

My friend and mentor, Dave, knew I wanted a longer sweat test time of 3-4 hours so being the thoughtful and clever runner he is suggested we run the Inside Trail Racing (ITR) Folsom Lake 35k (20 mile) race.  Dave was spot on and was one of the most pleasant trail runs I've enjoyed in some time. [Dave also had a good run but was suffering the aftermath of a questionable Ragu recipe from the night before]

I had completed the 50K twice before, knew the course, and how variable the weather could be this time of year in the area.  Two years ago the temperature had soared to 85 but last year was similar but more lush.  Race weekend it had rained all Friday night the night before. But, luckily it didn't rain on us and given the crushed granite composition of most of the trail there were very few muddy spots.

The weather race weekend in a word was 'perfect'!

Here are the 'sweat test' results (#3):

21 miles in 04:00:31 hours at 11:25 min/mile pace. Weather was cool with slight breeze. Average HR was 156 with peak of 168 BPM. Pee'ed once on course. I spent roughly ~6 min non-running (probably time standing at an AS refilling 20oz handheld and stuffing my face).

(161-156.6 #)*(16 oz/#) + (4 * 20) = 150.4 oz sweat loss / 4 hours : 37.6 oz / hr

After adjusting for 1# body mass loss per hour:

(37.6 oz -16 oz)=21.6 oz/hr

So, 20 oz / hour is close to what was expected. I also consumed ~250 cal/hr which also seemed to work.  100 cal/hr from Tailwind, then another ~50 cal/hr via GU Chomps, etc.

I never felt nauseous and ate two cheese quesadillas, two cups of mixed fruit, drank a can of ginger ale and nursed a Lagunitas IPA afterwards.

Next obvious sweat test will be Skyline 50k trail race.

Enjoyed Dave's fantastic parking karma - right at the start/finish!


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Race Report : EPIC AR50 DNF at mile 40 with hydration rate discussion

I learned alot about running while completing four 50k trail races and three marathons last year (2014) and was able to apply tweaks, tips and lessons learned on AR50. Many things worked just perfectly on Saturday, April 4th.  However, near mile 37 nausea started in and by mile 40 I was done. Not "ohh you're just uncomfortable you just need to push through it" but done done. Not being able to hold down any water for 30 min sucks.

Illustration by Daniel Yagmin


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Race Report : Way Too Cool (WTC) 50k, March 7, 2015

There are many race reports on one of California's most popular 50ks - Way Too Cool.  I'm not going review the reviews or review all the reasons why folks like the course.  I'm simply going to discuss what worked for this first timer and what I'm going to do differently next year.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Race Report : Part 3 - Running the 6th World Major, Tokyo Marathon, Feb 22, 2015, Three Days in Tokyo/Hakone

This is the third and final part of the 'Running Tokyo' series which will cover post race time activities. 
  • Part1 : How to get to the race and reflections on the race itself
  • Part2 : The two weeks we spent in Taiwan prior to the race
  • (This Post) : The three days we spent after the race in Tokyo/Hakone (Hot Springs Area) 
We only had the rest of race Sunday through Tuesday and were scheduled to leave that Wed night back to the States - so not a lot of time. If we had more time we would have stayed longer in Hakone and toured more of the Lake, Mt Fuji, taken the tram ride, etc.

Those three days can be broker down this way:
  • [Saturday] : Tokyo Afternoon Tour
  • Sunday : Recovery walk and shopping in Ginza shopping district
  • Monday : Train ride to Hokone, tour of Venetian glass museum, hot springs
  • Tuesday : Tour of park, stay at local business hotel

Tokyo Afternoon Tour

Day before the race, we booked an Afternoon tour via Sunrise Tours because the tour was about what I could handle before a Marathon, relatively inexpensive (¥5,500) looked interesting and had pickup at our Hotel (Keio Plaza). The stops were:
  1. Seaside Observation Deck
  2. Imperial Palace Gardens
  3. Senso-ji Temple (Asakusa) and Nakamise Shopping Street
  4. Sumida River Cruise
Front gate seen from marathon

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Race Report : Part 2 - Running the 6th World Major, Tokyo Marathon, Feb 22, 2015, Two Weeks In Taiwan

This is Part2 (of three total parts) detailing some interesting runs I had the pleasure of doing in Taiwan to prepare for the Tokyo marathon.  The three parts are:
  • Part1 : How to got to the race and reflections on the race itself
  • (This Part) : The two weeks we spent in Taiwan prior to the race
  • Part3 : The three days we spent after the race in Tokyo/Hakone (Hot Springs Area) 
 Knowing that jetlag would be an issue for any traveler crossing the international date line and sleeping in different beds, etc we planned on a couple of weeks first in Taiwan, ROC; which is only 1.5 hours by flight from Japan and only off by 1 hour in timezone.  This excuse also provided us with more vacation abroad, time to visit my wife's family and for me to try some new beers and hookup with hard-core trail runners in Taiwan!

I had the great pleasure of finding the informative blog (Taipei Runner) and connecting with its author Amber.  She also has a Facebook page you can find here.

Here are three fun runs you can do while in Taipei.  I'll provide links to other running groups also in Taipei that I didn't get a chance this time to run with but want to next time I'm in Taiwan.

  • Fun Run 1 : Riverside Park (JiLong aka KeeLung River)
  • Fun Run 2 : Da-An Forest Park
  • Fun Run 3 : YangMing Park:  QiXing Mountain Summit- aka Amber's Run

Fun Run 1 : Riverside Park (JiLong also called KeeLung River)

When ever I'm in Taipei, I also get in a run along the River Park aka along the JiLong River because it is well marked, paved, has periodic restrooms, occasional drink kiosks and is easy to get to from the subway (MRT).

Tourist Map + MRT lines
We happen to be staying at a local hotel at a discount (3D2N Special) called the Landis near the ZhongShan Elementary School and the 'Orange' Line 4 MRT.  So, to get to a good starting place on the River you could take the 'Orange MRT westward a couple of stops then transfer to the 'Red' Line 2 'DanShui' link up to YuanShan Station. If you exit the YuanShan Station you will be at the Taipei Expo center which also happens to be near a convenient north exit to the River Park.  Since I was so close to the Taipei Expo center anyway I just hiked from the hotel directly via JiLin Road there.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Race Report : Running the 6th World Major, Tokyo Marathon, Feb 22, 2015 - Part 1

It's 2:48AM, Saturday Feb 28th, six days after completing the Tokyo Marathon, and I'm wide awake sitting on my couch in sunny northern California wondering why did take a nap after landing at noon in the States!  Yes, major jet lag.
Since, I have nothing better to do on an early Saturday morning let's talk about participating in the 6th World Major Marathon as well as logistics of getting to the marathon and faux pah for the foreign traveler to be aware of.  Let's break this up into three parts:
  1. (This Post): This part about how to get to the race and reflections on the race itself
  2. Part2 : The two weeks we spent in Taiwan prior to the race
  3. Part3 : The three days we spent after the race in Tokyo/Hakone (Hot Springs Area)
If you have never heard of the World Marathon Major Races then you should read about each of them here as each has a rich history of their own.  Tokyo was the last marathon to be added and is the largest marathon in Asia.  Each year more than 300,000 people apply to get in and only about 35,000 are accepted.  It's even harder for local Japanese to get in.

When I found out about the race last year I added it to my 'bucket list' of destination races I wanted to run and knew it would be very easy to convince my wife to go with me.  I filled out the application, paid my non-refundable registration fee and forgot about it.  To my great surprise I received one of those emails congratulating me on being selected to participate.  I immediately informed my wife to start planning and put in a request in at work for a couple weeks off in February!

I started doing background research and came across a three part writeup on one runners experience running the marathon in 2013.  Michele Sun does a great job in summarizing her experiences as well all providing useful tips and tricks. Read about her journey here.

OK on to the discussion about three short days:
  • Friday, Feb 20th - arrive in Tokyo and check into hotel in Shinjuku, then visit expo
  • Saturday, Feb 21st - Afternoon tour of Tokyo, Shopping with wife
  • Sunday, Feb 22nd - Race and post race activities

I) Getting to Hotel Keio in Shinjuku

We were in the departure gate waiting for our ANA flight to leave Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan when we truck a conversation with other passengers waiting to board the aircraft.  We exchanged flight itineraries and asked them if they ever vacationed in Tokyo and knew the best way to get around.  One young gentleman said he had been to Tokyo many times and said we were in luck because the NEX was having a sell for foreigners where they could use the express train leaving Tokyo for half price.  And, that we could ride the bus to get back from Shinjuku.  We knew we were going to make mistakes since neither of us spoke Japanese and had never been to Tokyo before but now we felt slightly more confident because we had a goal.  Find the NEX train station!

Getting through customs in Narita was a breeze because we had learned from prior mistakes and:
  1. Left the energy bars in Taiwan - since energy bars have a density similar to explosives and set off alarms
  2. NO liquids and no lotions/perfumes greater than 100 grams
  3. NO knives
After we cleared customs we emerged in North terminal and successfully found the JAL counter to pick up our rental cell phone and managed to send our large luggage ahead to the hotel so we wouldn't have to carry it.  A very convenient service you'll find at the airport and nearly every hotel in Japan.  For about ¥1600 you can ship a large suite case to your hotel!  We used JAL but Black Cat (Yamoto Transport) is also popular.

Next, we scored an airport map and eventually found the NEX station on the level below the arrival gate (north wing).  There was a kiosk to buy tickets but we went strait to the ticket agent not trusting our luck buying tickets.  The agent spoke enough English to help us buy a ticket and sure enough it was half price (¥1500)!

It took the 'express' train one and half hours to reach Shinjuku station. Later we learned that the bus can get their in about 50min for half that price!  Oh man is Shinjuku station large.  When you see photos of crammed commuter trains, and bodies shoulder to shoulder racing from one platform to another that is probably Shinjuku main station.  We were lucky in that our hotel has only a couple blocks from the status but it took us more then 30 min to find the correct exist then tow our luggage there.

Celebration lunch aboard the NEX that we made it to the train station