Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Race Report : North Face Endurance Challenge (#NFEC), SF 50k, Dec 6,2014

I enjoy reading race reports. And, in most race reports where the runner runs in a race with the word 'Endurance', 'Challenge' or both 'Endurance Challenge' you get to read along as the runner suffers all that makes up the endurance challenge and the usual conclusion that if you are going to attempt it you better be prepared. The North Face Endurance Challenge is no exception to this classification of race and this years race on Dec 6th, 2014 enjoyed a deluge of rain the night before promising to make the challenging course even more so. Here are my results with muddy details to follow.
  • Distance = 32.10 mi
  • Avg Pace  = 15:56 min/mi
  • Time = 8:31:39
  • Elev Gain = 5,909 ft
  • Elev Loss = 5,915 ft
  • Avg HR = 156 bpm, 84 % of Max, 3.8z
  • Max HR = 174 bpm, 94 % of Max, 5.2z

    One of my favorite race reports was from Ginger Runner (#trainracebeer) after he attempted his first NFEC 50k back in 2012 and many of his observations and tips came true for us in 2014!

    The 50 milers started out first 2 hours before us 50kers and were broken into waves (1-4).  By the time I started 50k/wave 4 the trail was turned up mud and later just like GingerRunner noted as a slower runner you get to encounter the elite 50 milers coming back at you on the out-and-backs in a very physical way (more on that later).

    One advantage of being in wave 4 was that I was very relaxed and got to take pics before wave 1 went out at 7AM.

    Below are two super runners, Sunny to the left,  who eventually finished 1st in her Age Group and 7th overall female (5:10); and Veronica on the right who finished 100 miler Rio Del Largo (RDL) in 26:17 hours Nov 7th and was running NFEC 50k as a recovery run (6:35).

    Super fast, super fly runners Sunny and Veronica

    Wednesday, November 19, 2014

    Interview : Heli's sub three marathon PR and BQ

    Runner Background

    Name: Heli Carrillo (HC)
    Age: 38
    Location:Los Angeles
    Occupation: Programmer Analyst for Kaiser Permanente

    Race History
    Running Since: 2004
    Total # of Races: 38
    # of 5k's:5
    # of 10k's:7
    # of 13.1's: 14
    # of 26.2's: 12

    Dirty Trail Shoes (DTS) first interview with a badass runner, friend and colleague, Heli.  Heli has been trying to Boston Qualify (BQ) for sometime but with his young age and gender a 3:15 is a real tough bar to reach.  His last BQ attempt was LA Marathon back in March of this year and he came in 3:35.  However, after doing more strength training, loosing 5 pounds he killed his goal time of 3:10 with a 2:58:35.  Here is how he smashed his goal.

    Monday, November 17, 2014

    Race Report : ITR Mt Tam Half Marathon, Nov 15, 2014

    Before you remind me...I know I said I would never run Dipsea again and this year I sorta did.  However, Inside Trail Racing's 'Mt Tam' race isn't the entire Dipsea down to Mill Valley just the Stinson Beach side.  So, I only half lied!

    This particular half marathon is by far the most scenic, most lush, challenging and fun I've run to-date. Period.  I had so much fun on this run that I think I'll just run this next year instead of Dipsea/Double Dipsea for the following reasons:
    • Registration was $45 for the Half Marathon
    • Half, 30k, 50k to choose from
    • Weather was cloudy with temperature range from 45-65; low 50's on course
    • Course limited to just 400 (as opposed to the 2000 that get crammed on Dipsea).
    • Lush course across babbling brooks, redwood trees, lichen/moss and Ferns
    • Challenging workout over rocks, exposed roots, steps and one vertical ladder.
    • Lots of volunteers at well stocked AS 
    • Fast finish
     I took several shots before the 30/50K went out at 8:30AM but didn't realize my iphone was down to 1% battery and didn't have enough time to charge; so, no on-course pictures!! Ugh!

    Monday, November 10, 2014

    Race Report : Berkeley Half Marathon : 2nd year New Course!

    Last years (2013) Berkeley Half Marathon (HM) course was a point to point race where you either had to wait for a bus ride back or just walk it.  There were many complaints including:
    • the long wait for bus line back
    • how the half and 5K runners/walkers weaved between each other
    • residential area switch-backs for no reason
    • course didn't take in enough Berkeley high-lights: no Bears, no college spirit, no blue and gold!
    • the big hill which proceeded the finish

    I though the race was fine and really enjoyed the beer garden at the finish - then again I normally do.
    To the Race Director (RD) credit they listened and we had an even better course this year.

    • loop course that started and finished at park near parking and places to eat
    • 5k and half marathoners started at different times and finished different places
    • fewer residential switch-backs
    • several bands, golden bears and decent crowd support
    • much better course including Shattuck Ave, campus and some hills
    • no hill at finish
    Like last year I bought a parking ticket online at GoPark and parked at same parking garage near the start as last year. We had roughly 5000 runners in 2013 and I was expecting more this year after the course change so I arrived ridiculously early (6:30AM).  The HM started at 8AM (actually wave 3 at 8:10AM).  I knew going in that I was not going to PR and not run faster than last years 1:54 cuz I just finished the Morgan Hill Marathon the prior week and wanted to concentrate on supporting Michelle's very first half marathon (more on that later).

    Attire for this years race - no I only used two not four Hammer Gels.

    Tuesday, November 4, 2014

    Race Report : Morgan Hill Marathon, Nov 2, 2014

    Maybe it was because I entered into the MHM with such low expectations for the event (not my performance but will get to that later) that I really enjoyed the race.  A fellow running friend by the name of Andrea had a bad experience with the course last year for a number of reasons:
    • It was two weeks earlier and warm that day
    • There was little wind and her nose was assalted by the shikate mushroom and horse ranches smells
    • Local residents weren't too happy about runners clogging their rural roads
    • There were few vendors at the expo and not very much of a finishers table
    • Too many switch backs on the course 
    • She placed 3rd in her age group but didn't get her bottle of wine because staff said you had to be present to receive the wine and she had left before the winners were officially announced.
    This year (the race companies fifth year) I think the RD et al had made a number of important changes including creating a bib mailing option for $10 where your bib was mailed to you the week of the race and you were able to pick up your tech shirt (and bag) at a special VIP tent.  Very cool.

    Friday, October 24, 2014

    Training : Is regular exercise / improved eating habits worth it? Review of lab results over two year time span.

    I can honestly say that after two years of constant exercise and modified diet of more vegetables, fruit, less refined sugars/grains that I not only feel healthier but lab results confirm I'm incrementally healthier. Time to celebrate with a beer!

    Before I get too interested in my beer, let's review where I started.

    Sunday, October 19, 2014

    Product Review : Update : Skechers GoMeb

    In a previous post I looked at the now classic GoRun (GR) 2 versus GoRun Ride 3s and I promised to review the GoMebs.  I try not to disappoint.

     Overview of The Skechers 'GoRun' Shoes in this Roundup

    • Go Run 2 (GR2) : A minimalist, lightweight, flexible 4mm-drop racing shoe. (read the review here
    • Go Run 3 (GoRide 3) : A more traditional, generic 4mm-drop running shoe. (read the review here)
    • Go Meb : A minimalist, stability 4mm-drop racing shoe

    ModelGoBionicGoMeb Speed GoRunGoRun SonicGoRun RideGoRun Ultra
    Weight (OZ - size 9)
    Heel Drop (mm)044644/8

    Friday, October 17, 2014

    What's coming? What's on your mind?

    Here are some of the posts I'm working on:
    What topics are you interested in?

    Friday, September 26, 2014

    Product Review : Update : Skechers GoRun 2 vs 3

    I was one of those that bought the Skechers GoRun (GR) 2 when it came out and loved it.  So when it came time to purchase a replacement set I was shocked to find that they have been discontinued.  Fine you say, just find the 'next' generation that replaces it.  Well, that is easier said than done because Skechers has a million different models now and it is not exactly clear which replaces the GR2!

     Overview of The Skechers 'GoRun' Shoes in this Roundup

    • Go Run 2 (GR2) : A minimalist, lightweight, flexible 4mm-drop racing shoe. (read the review here)
    • Go Run 3 (GoRide 3) : A more traditional, generic 4mm-drop running shoe. 
    • Go Meb : A Minimalist, stability 4mm-drop racing shoe. (read the review here)

    I've read in some threads the following Skechers running shoe lineup in terms of cushioning from 'minimal' to the left and 'maximum' on the right:

    ModelGoBionicGoMeb SpeedGoRunGoRun SonicGoRun RideGoRun Ultra
    Weight (OZ - size 9)
    Heel Drop (mm)044644/8

    Wednesday, September 10, 2014

    Race Report : Inaugural Overlook 50K, September 6, 2014

    Be forewarned that this race report will be rambling account of what turned out to be not merely a training run for my first 50 miler but the biggest trail challenge I've ever faced and the first I should have DNF'ed. [DNF = Did Not Finish]  

    Short Summary : 31.2 miles of beautiful trail along parts of Western States and Cool covering elevation gain and loss: 7,000' gain / 9,200' loss.  Took me 9:10 hours to finish in the 98+ deg heat.

    Day Before Race Day I left work early around 3PM for an uneventful two and half hour drive from Pleasanton to Auburn and managed to get to the running store to pick up my bib with 15 minutes to spare. There were a couple of people manning a single table in the back handing our bibs, talking about the pasta feed at Auburn Ale House and chatting about the race. The Auburn Running Company is nice store with all the trail porn you'd expect for running store with moto, "The Endurance Capital's running source". The store even had the latest trail shoes by Atria which you rarely get to see at other running stores. However, I wasn't there for the pasta feed but to meet up with my mentor and his family at a nice restaurant named Joe Caribe known for pulled pork tacos, enchilada and beer. We chatted about the rather hot weather, the fact that one side of the highway coming in was on fire (not a good omen) and what the weather might be in the canyon the next day.

    Photo Credit : Norma Stark

    Wednesday, September 3, 2014

    Product Review : Finding the right trail shoe to support how you run

    OK, so we are not actually going to review a particular product but rather have an open discussion about finding the perfect marriage of shoe to runner. Below is my collection of running shoes I've built over the last two years.  Can you spot the trend?

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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 Skyline 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) on the loop course.  Both numbers probably have 10% variance.

    Here is what was measured by Ambit2R and Garmin410:

    Skyline 50K ('OK' GPS Mode)Overlook 50K ('Good' GPS Mode)
    Ambit2R Garmin410 (reference) Ambit2R (*) Garmin410 (reference)
    Distance 27.3 30.2 27.58 29.64
    Elapsed Time 6:52:32 6:52:42 8:13:12 9:03:05
    Moving Time 4:41:13 6:43:20 TBD 8:05:44
    Pace ?, 10:19/mi 13:38/mi, 13:23/mi 15:52/mi, ? 18:19/mi, 16:23/mi
    Elevation Gain 6106 ft 4219 ft ? ft 6484 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 (comparable 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.

    Update :  I recently ran the Overlook 50K and ohh what a test of battery life that was.  The race was a point to point race with RD reported elevation gain and loss: 7,000' gain / 9,200' loss.  I took 9:10 to finish the 50K due mostly to the 98+ deg heat in the canyon and extreme dehydration.  The Ambit2R automatically saved the race and shutdown at 3% battery at about 8 hours; the Garmin 410 amazingly was still going after I finished, then died 10 minutes after.  I don't know if you can disable the 3% auto save/shutoff 'feature' of the 2R and am currently investigating that. However, I did NOT get the advertised 12 hours out of the 2S only about 8.  The Garmin 410 actually performed much better. There is no point in trying the Ambit2R in 'Best' GPS mode given I only got 8 out of the advertised 12 hours of battery life.  I have purchased a Garmin 310xt multisport watch because I mostly run, found my Garmin 410 to be solid tool and the Garmin 310xt is supposed to have very good battery life (>12 hours).  We shall see on my next 50K!

    Update 11/02/2014: I just ran the Morgan Hill Marathon with both the Garmin 410 and 310xt and both performed flawlessly.  I started with both at 100% battery life and after 4:24 hours I had 26% battery left on 410 and 75% on 310xt. Time, Distance, Elevation Gain, AvePace are below and very similar.

    Elevation Gain
    BestPace  Battery%Left
    Garmin 410
    6:56  26%
    6:48  75%

    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.  These pics are from after the Skyline 50K race.

    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?

    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:

    Wednesday, July 9, 2014

    2014 : Mid-year race review

    Below is a brief 6 month review of 2014. Crazy but fun list of races and training has been all over the map. 

    - One 10 mile race
    - One Half Marathon
    - One Marathon
    - One 50K
    - One 200 mile relay
    - The Dipsea and Dipsea Double

    Distance 710.2mi
    Time 124h 48m
    Elevation Gain 51,988ft
    Runs 81

     For the second half I'm focusing on ultra distances.  Basically a couple of 50ks and Marathons leading to my first 50 miler scheduled on 10/11.

    Next year I promised to be more focused (well at least I can try)!

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Race Report : Brazen's Double Dipsea June 21st, 2014

    Once I heard that Brazen Racing was helping (taking up?) host the 45th annual Double Dipsea I signed up immediately.   If you are not from the greater San Francisco Bay Area you might not know about Brazen but they are amoung a handful of experienced trail race hosting companies known for high volunteer to runner ratios, well stocked Aid Stations (AS), finisher tables and good vibes!

    I previously commented about running The Dipsea and training for the Double Dipsea.  Now it was obviously time to put all that training and experience to work for the actual race...right?  Well not exactly.  Sometimes life throws you lemons and you have to attempt to make lemonade.  Here is my tale of lemonade making.

    Tuesday, June 10, 2014

    Race Report : The Dipsea Race Sunday June 8th, 2014

    In a previous post, I mentioned my appreciation for Northern Bay Area locals giving me the grand tour complete with tips and tricks for surviving a Dipsea run.  In that case it was a Double Dipsea training run from Mill Valley (MV) to Stinson Beach and back.

    Last Sunday, June 8th, I joined nearly 1500 other runners for the 104th annual Dipsea race.  The weather started unseasonable warm and got warmer.  Here is what I learned from actual race day.

     The race officially started (for some) at 8:30AM and according to my smart phone was around 65 deg, and  forecast was high of 90.

    I had contacted the race organizers days before requesting advice on where to park on race morning because downtown MV just doesn't have much (non-metered) parking. I was advised to arrive before 7AM and park just outside of down town around Bueana Vista Avenue off Throckmorton.  I'm happy to report that I did as instructed and had no problems finding residential parking within 3-4 blocks of the start.

    Saturday, May 31, 2014

    Double Dipsea Training Run : May 31st, 2014

    I applied for both the Double Dipsea, now hosted by Brazen Racing, and the regular Dipsea since I was pretty sure I wasn't going to get into the latter.  Surprise!  I somehow managed to get into the second oldest (oldest trail) race in the United States and coveted by Mill Valley and many other runners.  Then, I had that head-slap moment when I realized not only was I running two Dipsea races in a month but I had never run ANY of the marine headlands and no clue what I was in for.  Thus began my investigation and eventual Double Dipsea training run one week prior to the Dipsea!

    The Dipsea : Second Sunday in June : June 8th, 2014
    Double Dipsea  : Two weeks following Dipsea  : June 22nd, 2014

    I knew that The Dipsea is considered an 'Open' course where in theory you can use any route from start to finish and that the race is handicapped based on criteria such as Age.  However,  'short cuts' are only allowed IF you know them and don't violate any of the regional park rules, etc.  In other words, you better know the short cut well or don't take it lest you get lost or DQ'ed.

    I needed to find an experienced Dipsea runner and fast!  I solicited FB trail groups around the Marin area and was lucky to find not only knowledgeable trail runners, but friendly and willing to show a newbie around.  Specifically, Leigh-Ann and Eduardo from 'NorCal Trailheads (mentias adventum trekkium) offered to help and I ended up running with Leigh-Ann because Leigh-Ann started later and at a non-suicidal pace I could maintain.

    We agreed to meet at the Old Mill Park entrance on Throckmorton Ave at 7:30AM and sure enough Leigh-Ann arrived and was waiting 7:30AM.  Downtown Mill Valley parking is metered (2hr and some 4 hour) but outside the park is first come, first served all day.  I got there 15min early and managed to secure a spot right by the entrance.  Not sure what I'm going to do on race day other than get there hours ahead of the race start.

    We waited for one other runner a Triathlete named Chris then off we started.  It should be noted that at the park entrance is a restroom and water fountain.  What more could a runner ask for?

    We got about a few paces then bang stairs. Nothing but stairs and short stretches of road over and over again.  You basically climb for 70 min, then run down for 70 min as it is a mountain after all.  There are several neat things about running in this area that locals might not appreciate because they live there and those are:
    • Lush plant growth!  OMG there are redwoods, ferns, lichen and basically green everywhere.  In the East Bay we get about a month of green around St Patricks day then the rolling hills turn brown.
    • Incredible running weather!  It started about 54 degrees and warmed up to about 60?  We started on the Mill Valley (MV) side with partial sun but by the time we got up to about 1000 ft we were in the clouds with condensation forming rain drops that would rain down tree leaves but not quiet making the earth.  On the Stinson side it was a bit windy with mist and felt great.  In the East Bay at this time we are at least 10-20 warmer.
    • Beautiful redwood trees! OK that's plant/tree growth, but redwood groves are just in their own special category.
    I was pretty busy trying not to trip on exposed rocks and roots so I didn't take many pictures going out to Stinson Beach but I did get these:

    Monday, May 26, 2014

    Western States training weekend : Day 2 - The best $35 ever spent on training

    On my bucket list is to do all three days of the Western States Memorial Training Weekend but this year I did just Saturday which was enough of an introduction into the craziness called WS.

    If you live in the area you can get a supported run complete with fully stocked aid stations and burgers/water melon at the 'finish' for $35 per day or all three days for ~90 via ultra signup. If you are local to the greater 'Auburn' area and a trail runner you'd be crazy to miss this.  You don't have to have won the WS lottery nor even qualified at one of their races to do the training weekend.  Just have an interest in running 70 of the 100 trail miles of the WS100 with other crazy like minded trail runners.

    The three days are broken down like this:

    Day 1 - Saturday : 32 miles from Robinson Flats to Foresthill Elementary School. This is by far the hardest and most popular days.  Why?  You scale one of the hardest peaks in the shortest amount of distance. Elevation change? Don't want to know.

    Day 2 - Sunday : ~16 miles from Foresthill Elementary School down to Ruck-a-Chuky aka the 'river crossing'.  You start at an elevation of ~3200ft and run down hill.  There are 2-3 rather nasty climbs including '5 min hill'.

       Elevation Gain:2,955 ft
       Elevation Loss:5,512 ft
       Min Elevation:717 ft
       Max Elevation:3,285 ft

    Day 3 - Monday  : ~20 miles from Ruck-a-Chucky (Green Gate) to the finish at Placer High School. This is normally done at night on the WS100 race. Elevation change is kinda like day two with rolling hills.

    Friday, May 23, 2014

    Product Review : Injinji medium-weight, mini-crew toe socks

    On longer 10 mile plus training runs sometimes I'd get tiny blisters either between my pinkie and neighboring toe or on top of a toe.  The blisters are mostly likely due a perfect storm of cheap socks I was wearing, sweat friction and toes getting jammed to the front of my shoes.  I don't think my shoes are part of the problem per se since I wear a half size larger already and they have a wide toe box.  I think the friction was due to aggressive trail running and cheap socks that just didn't provide much protection from the roof of my shoe and none between toes.  I tried adding Glide which helped to some extent, but what finally prevented toe blisters was magic in the form of toe socks!

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    [Video] Tuesday Trail Workout at Del Valle, Livermore, CA

    Every Tuesday from Early Spring to Late Fall, our running club the Huffers and Puffers run roughly 7.5 miles covering 1300 feet of elevation change through the Hills of Del Valle State Park in Livermore, CA.  In Spring around St Patrick's Day the park is especially beautiful because it is green with life.  Folks outside of the California desert may take the color Green for granted but not us - we revel in the color green.  In this video is the tail end of California's 'green' season.  Yeah, it lasts about 2-4 weeks.

    Here are some video snippets courtesy of a newly acquired GoPro Hero 3 Black with head mount.

    Sunday, May 11, 2014

    The Golden Gate Relay : Calistoga to Santa Cruz

    I know many people who have done at least one relay in their running life, but I certainly wasn't one that could relate to 'them'.  The thought of being in a van for hours on end to run 'just a little bit' of a race, the sleep deprivation, and chaos of it all was just a turn off to me.  That is of course until I did one.

     I actually didn't sign up for the race and became a team member when one of the 12 that make up a relay group dropped out at the last moment.  I was days away from starting out on a 27 hour adventure and had no clue what was coming or really of what was expected of me.

    The relay I ran May 3rd and May 4th of this year 2014 was called The Golden Gate Relay and 12 runners take turns running 'legs' from Calistoga to Santa Cruz : 198 miles!

    Followup : Running the ITR 50K at Lake Folsom

    Last year (2013) I ran Inside Trail Racing (ITRs) 50K and almost Did Not Finish (DNF).  You can read last years report here.

    I spent a year consulting with many more experienced runners and trained, trained, trained.

    I honestly had difficulty sleeping the week before the race in anticipation, reviewing how I was going to handle each leg of the race and if I could handle the warm weather.

    Well, the running gods smiled on all of us cuz not only did it not rain us, although it had rained the night before, it was also cool!  Last year it was 55 in morning with high of 87.  This year it was 50s with high of 65!

    Here's a front and back pics of the group getting final advice before we head out.  I believe it was a mixture of 50k, Marathon and 35K that head out first.

    Friday, April 18, 2014

    Pacing the American River 50 mile (AR50) race

    I've been seriously thinking about running the AR50 next year (2015) and how to go about preparing for it then an opportunity came up that I could not turn down.  Pace an experienced running for the last part of the race!

    Pacing.  So what does that word actually mean with regarding trail running?  You've seen pacers on big half and full marathons holding signs that read '1:45' or '3:35' and a good pacer not only helps you reach your target finish but knows the course and how to warm up for those first couple of miles - or they should!

    In trail running especially 50 miles or longer a 'pacer' needs to do a bit more than just set a particular pace.  A pacer in trail running is a 'trail companion' and not only helps the runner stay on course and not miss critical turns but helps the runner refill water bottles in Aide Stations (AS) and most importantly provides motivation to help the runner think of something other than his or her brain telling them to just pull over and have a nice lay down in the grass.

    Here are some informative and humorous links my runner and I shared weeks prior to the race:

    Saturday, March 8, 2014

    Running Napa Valley Marathon (NVM) 2014

    NVM was my first full marathon I ran last year 2013 via FleetFeet's Marathon Training Program and you never forget your first.  I believe I finished in 4:36 and literally thought I was going to collapse right at the finish line - had nothing left.  Somehow I managed to drag myself to pick up the sweat bag in the Gym and have an ice cold shower.  The High School cafeteria had HOT minestrone soup and break which was just what I needed to restore some life back into the shell that was remaining after the race.

    This year my goal was to apply all the things I learned from the 2013 race and finish in 4:15 (or stretch goal of 4 hours even).  Some of the things I learned from last year included:
    • Take care of known hot spots before the race by using Glide or Moleskin
    • Consume calories and fluid on a routine basis
    • Make sure you 'take care of business' at least a couple of hours before you even get on the bus to the start line
    • Pace, Pace, Pace - don't go out fast and focus on your breathing/form especially past mile 20

    We stayed at our now normal hotel, SpringHill Suites, and met with some friends for dinner at Celadon in downtown Napa (across the river from the Oxbow Market).  Was a pleasant dinner of Seabass with beef satay skewers, rice, bread, and finished with vanilla bean crème brûlée
    with caramelized bananas.  Expensive fun, but very pleasant way to start the weekend.

     One of the reasons I like SpringHill Suites, even though it is ~10 miles from where the buses leave at 5:00AM to take you to the start line, is that the Hotel is freshly remodeled, has 1PM checkout for Runners and starts providing breakfast for runners at 4AM!  Many people complain about it's location being remote and far from restaurants/bars, etc but for a Runner the place is excellent.

    When we got back from dinner, I had a swim in the pool with my son, then settled in for the night.  The next morning my wife and I got up at 4AM to hit the breakfast (Toast, Bagel with butter, coffee) then my wife dropped my off a half mile from the high school and I walked to the buses (by 5AM). Talked with many runners in the bus line and saw a few familiar faces on the bus.  It's great that NVM still limits this race to less than 3000 and only marathoners.

    After drop bags were dropped off we had time for a group shot minutes before the start.  Nearly all the runners you see did NVM last year and this was our second or more together.  The weather was perfect for running : cool 55 deg, overcast, slight breeze and mist but no rain.  Couldn't have asked for better weather.

    The course itself is net negative but there are plenty of rolling hills especially for the first half.  You can see my recorded elevation profile below from iPhone5->Strava.  You could say it is similar to CIM but NVM has more rolling hills.

    My race strategy (this time) was to go out no faster than 8:30 min/mile for the first half, then no slower than 9:30 min/mile for the second half : average being 9 or 4 hr target finish.

    My first half pace was close at 8:45 min/mile. One unforeseen complication was a hotspot that developed on my right pinkie-toe because I didn't put the shoe insert flat. User error.  However, I just stopped a couple of minutes to take my shoe/sock off, wrap the toes in band aids, recenter the insert, then back to the road.  Whilst I was doing my shoe readjustment a fellow runner who just completed the Lake Chabot 50K a week before caught up with me!  Steve had no goal time whatsoever and was just running to recover and for the fun of it.

    Here is snapshot by the FleetFeet Race Team capton of me at mile 20.  There were also some howling wolves in the mountains to help keep us motivated past half way mark!

    How did the second half go you ask?  My target pace for second half was no slower than 9:30 min/mile; however, what I was actually able to do was a sluggish 10:19!  The second half is mostly downhill with the finish winding through neighborhood streets, so I can't blame 'the hills'.  It did start to sprinkle but not enough to interfere with running.  I was taking one GU every half hour with MD/water so my fuel/fluid was pretty much constant through out.  I simply 'bonked' again during the second half.  I now have a mentor/coach whom I'm working with 1:1 to figure out a better training and nutrition plan to help me handle the second half and my quest to run sub-4 marathon.

    Official finish time was 4:17:41 which was 18 minutes off last years race and 3 minutes off CIM.  I really cannot complain about this years race nor effort.  Was a very fun race spent with many friends and family.

    Wednesday, February 5, 2014

    Kaiser Permanente's Half Marathon, Golden Gate Park, SF, CA

    I've run this half marathon twice so far : once last year with a 2:01 and this year with a 1:52. OK fine, this year was a 1:52:58 so rounding up was a 1:53.  Here are some race highlights.

    Firstly, the race is in San Francisco (SF or just The City).  Not only do you get an excuse if you don't already live in SF to explore the many restaurants, bars, cafes, parks, tourist traps but you get to run in The Golden Gate Park (The Park). Secondly, well there is the Firstly.

    Last year the weather was perfect for racing with very slight breeze and cool ~58 deg by the ocean.  This year, a drought year, it had not rained the entire year ... except on Sunday morning race day.  In fact, not only did it start raining as soon as the shuttle bus came to pick us up from The Kabuki Hotel at 6:30AM but it was cold ~45 deg and windy.  Yuck.

    Luckily, we had gone out the night before to a very nice bar/restaurant called Umami on Webster off Union Street and enjoyed VERY nice Happy Hour 'bar' food.  I say 'bar' food with tongue against cheek because this is no ordinary bar food.  The Kobe beef 'sliders' are very tender and juicy.  The stack of ribs were just perfectly spicy and tangy.  And we had several sushi rolls.  IF you get there when they open at 5:30PM (highly recommended and/or get a reservation) and order before 6:30PM the prices are excellent.

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    What are your most effective exercies to prevent shin splints?

    There are no shortage of posts attempting to explain why part of the front lower leg is hurting but not nearly as many that I can find explaining effective exercises to help prevent the pain from occurring in the first place.  By 'shin splint' I mean the tingling or sometimes outright pain you get on your front 'anterior' lower leg 'tibia' normally after running longer or faster that you have previously trained before.

    So let's assume for the sake of this discussion that you have NOT recently changed shoes, you have seen a shoe expert and your running shoes actually support the way you run and you do not have any kind of stress bone fracture.  You recently increased your distance, changed terrain or increased your speed and now are experiencing shin pain.

    I talked to several long-time runners and have received the following exercise advice based on the assumption that the calves are too tight and shin muscle (anterior tibial), ligaments or helper stabilizing micro-stabilizing muscles were irritated by overuse:

    • Shin Muscle (tibialis anterier):
      • while sitting do repeated foot up raises
      • walk around the house on your heels in low cushion shoes
      • draw letters in carpet/sand with your toes
      • job slowly with your toes pointed in, then out
      • sit on your knees with toes pointed behind you and slowly put pressure on the front of your ankle/shin to flatten out on floor.
    • Calf Muscle (gastrocnemius / soleus)
      • have sports masseur melt any knots you may have in soleus junction or main gastroc muscle
      • stand in front of wall with one leg behind you slowly move your upper body toward wall and stretching out calf.
      • on curb facing sidewalk, slowly dip one foot and stretch out calf/Achilles.
      • foam roll calf muscle

    What exercises do you do to prevent shin splints?

    Some References:
    What is the Shin Muscle?
    How to get rid of Shin Splints

    Sunday, January 12, 2014

    Inaugural Foster City 10-miler Jan 12, 2013

    Race Director Gene said about 500 registered for both 10miler/5K races and up until 10 min before the horn blew there was no one at the start! Then, out of the woodwork they came and man we're talking some elite runners up front!