Monday, December 17, 2007

2008- A Look Ahead

Hello everyone,

It’s a little over a week until Christmas, which means a lot to celebrate. I know quite a few other bloggers have posted their “Christmas Wish” Lists, so I don’t want to bore you too much. Last weekend, I posted about my Top 9 favorite items/grub to use. This week, I’ll keep it short and list my Top 5 Bay Area running routes. Keep in mind that while I know there are other routes in the Bay Area, these represent routes I’ve run personally. In no particular order:
1) Mt. Tamalpais- Only 2600 ft. of elevation gain the ocean, but its compressed into a short distance, which makes this a favorite for training for big climbs in races.
2) Mt. Diablo- It’s much further away from me in San Francisco than Mt. Tam, but Mt. Diablo in the East Bay packs a close to 4000 ft. elevation climb which will definitely test me prior to major races with a large uphill component.3) Dipsea Trail- 7.1 miles one way, but a two way trip yields 5000 ft. of elevation gain and 5000 ft. of elevation loss. Its varied terrain, high difficulty, and quiet trails are great after a stressful week.4) Novato (San Marin area) to Pt. Reyes- 40 miles roundtrip from my parents’ home is a trip through wide open diary and farm land in Northern Marin. It is a road run, but peaceful nonetheless.5) San Francisco Twin Peaks- 7.7 miles roundtrip from my house. It’s 900 ft. of elevation up and down, combined with incredible views of the ocean and downtown, make this an easy choice for this road route.

I’ve also set forth my proposed 2008 race schedule in the lower right hand column, which doesn’t necessarily set it in stone, but it gives a clear idea of where I want to go and what I want to accomplish this year. One notable

Key Races:

2008 Rocky Raccoon 100
2008 Boston Marathon
2008 Badwater Ultramarathon (if accepted)
2008 Angeles Crest 100

These are races that I consider “review” points, races where I can evaluate my progress towards reaching my long-term running goals. While some of the other races in the year may prove to be more valuable in evaluating this due to the unpredictability of long-distance running (particularly ultras), each of these races represents very different types of challenges as well as premier events where the competition will hopefully fuel a higher level of performance. Rocky Raccoon is a flat, fast trail course which will give me a baseline for my speed on the trails in an early 2008 race. The Boston Marathon is a road marathon which, although challenging compared to other marathons, will give me a chance to “let it fly” compared to the ultra scene. My goal prior to Badwater is to run a sub-3 hr. marathon as a sort of speed development goal.

Accountability and Game Plan:

As a sort of accountability for myself, I have decided to post my training on a week-by-week basis in 2008. While I always give myself the flexibility to adjust to life events, I want to accountable for the type of training that leads to the type of results I desire. I will start at the end of next week with this past week and next week’s training.

I hesitate to put down specific hour goals here for each race. It’s not so much that I don’t have goals; it’s that I do not want to boast about things which I have not done. While I believe that I am capable of much more, I can not speak of “talent” that is unfulfilled.

However, to give you an idea of how I approach each race, I go into each race with specific race plans that are geared around multiple goal tiers. It might help in your own goal setting as you push the limits of what your body is capable of. I caution those that are reading this to make sure you apply this appropriately to the particular race.

The first tier is a very low baseline. For a 100 mile race, considering the unpredictability of the endeavor, the first tier is almost always to finish. I know there are other runners that would rather “DNF” than show a poor race time, but I believe this would hurt the integrity of my personal purpose in ultrarunning. While this does not preclude me from a DNF (of which I have 2), I consider a DNF only acceptable for me when my health is threatened or I miss a cutoff while recovering from an unspecified maladie.

The second tier is a more conservative goal tier. It accounts for the occurance of some bigger issues (nausea, major muscle pain, major joint pain). The third tier is the training tier, which my training has been geared for. It represents a bigger step forward and fits with my running development plan and yearly goals which I discussed in a previous entry.

Finally, the forth tier is a stretch goal. It represents a clean race, with few issues. With the emphasis this year on negative splits (faster second half than first half), this would represent close to even splits for the first half and second half of a race (dependent on the overall layout of the course). Anything beyond this is usually gravy on top. While I expect these goals to change as my running ability changes, this provides a framework going into a race. If I feel terrific after the first half, maybe I pick up in the second half. If I run into issues in the first half, maybe I have to reset the race goals. It’s such a fluid process. Going into the race, I examine splits from previous races and use them to match my tiered goals. I take into account the terrain and profile of the course as well, and how they play into my relative strengths/weaknesses.

Ok, that does it for me. As always, run strong, finish well, and God bless.


P.S. I found this inspirational story, which further reinforced my focus on “Finishing what I start”. It’s a reminder to me to follow the words of Paul in the New Testament about finishing the race:

October 20, 1968, Mexico City, Olympic Stadium, 7.00 P.M. The closing ceremonies had just been completed. The spectators and athletes, still warm from the euphoria of the celebration, were gathering their belongings to leave the stadium. Then the announcer asked them to remain in their seats. Down the boulevard came the whine of police sirens. From their vantage point, many in the stadium could see motorcycles with their flashing blue lights, encircling someone making his way toward the stadium. Whoever it was, he was moving slowly. Everyone remained seated to see the last chapter of the Olympics take place. By the time the police escort got to the stadium, the public address announcer said that a final marathoner would be making his way into the arena and around the track to the finish line. Confusion was evident among the crowd. The last marathoner had come in hours ago. The medals had already been awarded. What had taken this man so long? But the first sign of the runner making his way out of the tunnel and onto the track told the whole story. John Stephen Akhwari from Tanzania, covered with blood, hobbled into the light. He had taken a horrible fall early in the race, whacked his head, damaged his knee, and endured a trampling before he could get back on his feet. And there he was, over 40 kilometers later, stumbling his way to the finish line. The response of the crowd was so overwhelming, it was almost frightening. They encouraged Akhwari through the last few meters of his race with a thundering ovation that far exceeded the one given the man who, hours earlier, had come in first. When Akhwari crossed the finish line, he collapsed into the arms of the medical personnel who immediately whisked him off to the hospital. The next day, Akhwari appeared before sports journalists to field their questions about his extraordinary feat. The first question was the one any of us would have asked, "Why, after sustaining the kinds of injuries you did, would you ever get up and proceed to the finish line, when there was no way you could possibly place in the race?" John Stephen Akhwari said this: "My country did not send me over 7,000 miles to start a race. They sent me over 7,000 miles to finish one."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

2007 leading to 2008- Time for Boston

It’s the beginning of December, which normally represents the “slow” season in the running world. I’m working on my race schedule for 2008, which should be interesting. Most people go inside for the winter, with travel and family responsibilities taking precedence. While I have many of the same responsibilities and time constraints, I don’t want to lose the training base which I’ve developed. I also don’t want to just stop running, which during the sometimes stressful holidays can provide a quiet rest bit. Besides, I’ve always loved the feeling after a hard run in the cool winter when your breath looks like smoke and your exposed head and arms steam.

Last year, I ended the year with a flurry with the Quad Dipsea and the California International Marathon (CIM) in back to back weekends. This year, I skipped the Quad Dipsea so that I could just focus on CIM and not leave myself with any residual tiredness before the race. I’ve not really focused on marathons over the last couple years, instead using most of them as training runs for longer races. A couple times, I’ve tried to run Boston Marathon qualifying times, but the lack of consistent speed work left me tired during the home stretch at the end and in the end I failed. The Boston Marathon was always an eventual goal of mine when I started running marathons in 2001, so doing CIM was a way to get back to the matter and try to deal with some unfinished business.

Well, I finally did it. I ran the 2007 California International Marathon ( last Sunday and came away with a 3:07 finishing time. It was just a great moment, an opportunity to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Over the last 0.2 miles, I got a little emotional, thinking of how far I’d come in my running career and how I had finally achieved a long term goal that I had set aside for a time.

I’d been feeling rather lethargic the last week and a half, when I tweaked a muscle in my right lower back. It was so bad, that I could barely get off the couch at Thanksgiving. I even thought I might be at least 5-7 lbs over what I need to be to compete with those real skinny dudes. But, over the last 5 weeks since the Javelina Jundred, I honed my speed work in addition to the speed work I started in early October. I made the commitment to go to the track at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco and run 800m intervals on a consistent, weekly basis back in early October. The crazy thing about the race was that at one point I was almost 5 minutes ahead of 3:10 pace and if I hadn’t slowed to ensure I wouldn’t pull a hamstring I could have done a 3:05. It was by far the best long race of my life; With a 1:31:31 first half and a 1:36:20 second half, this was by far the most consistent long race I had completed. The first half of this race is always a little faster with the downhill sections. There will always be a decrease in performance from the first half to the second half of a race. But by aiming for negative splits (from the first to second half of races), I was able to produce a disciplined performance that was consistently under the goal pace. I do have to say that I was a bit surprised later to find out there was over 4100 ft. of elevation drop and 3800 ft. of elevation gain. That is still a significant amount of change, despite its reputation as a faster course.

It has been a long journey started when I trained for 6 weeks to run my first marathon (which was the first time over 4 miles in 11 years) in 2001. Now, I’ve done it and it felt incredible….and I’m ready go for sub-3, when I’m not running 50 or 100 milers! No Western States for me next year (didn’t get selected in the lottery, but Boston and Badwater in 2008 make for a mighty fine start to the 2008 Race Schedule. Remember to always run hard, stay strong, and God bless all who have made 2007 a great year, and 2008 a year I will never forget.
Since it is the Thanksgiving season, it’s only appropriate to give thanks for the things which we all enjoy. In running, our gear can make a world of difference, particularly when you’re doing a marathon, 50k, 50 mile or 100 mile run. It keeps our minds on the trails rather than our waist pack slipping or the nagging blisters in our shoes. I’m most thankful for my following Top 9 gear/grub list (in no particular order):

Injinji Socks (

These things come in all sizes and materials (coolmax and nuwool). I ran marathons and ultramarathons. My feet tend to sweat a lot, so getting these socks in time for my first Badwater Ultramarthon in 2006 was definitely a lifesaver. The only time I got a blister in them was when I ran in a shoe 1.5 sizes too big.

Brooks Cascadia (

The best part about being a part of the ID (Inspire Daily) Program with Brooks is the opportunity to work with their new products. When I was looking for a trail shoe which ran more like my road shoes, I developed an affinity for the Cascadias. I’ve used my current pair for three 100-mile races last year, and they’re so comfortable that I might be using them for my first 100-miler of 2008, Rocky Raccoon (

Brooks Burn

While I know many people who stay exclusively on the trails (because of wear and tear), I still love a good road marathon. I don’t use these shoes all the time, because the cushioning is less than what I normally need (at 175 lb.). But these have worked great for me, including during my marathon PR. They’re light enough to not drag me down, but just enough cushion to race without knee problems.

Garmin 301 (

I know many people have upgraded to the 305, but my 301 works just fine. I like the way the 301 fits on my wrist compared to the 305. The heart rate monitor, GPS system and other nice features keep my training on track. Plus, it fits just fine on my wrist.

CamelBak Classic 70 oz. (

Some people like using waist packs with multiple water bottles. While this works well for convenience to refill them at aid stations, the CamelBak takes the pressure off my lower back and puts it on my shoulders. With frequent muscle tightness in my lower back and my shoulders strong, this is the perfect long run tool. It works well in mountainous races where the distance between certain aid stations is over 7 miles.

Timex IronMan Watch (

This is an interesting one, I know. I also listed the Garmin, which gives a runner a tremendous amount of feedback about their running. Sometimes, though, it’s nice not to be “tuned in” to all the data. Especially during a marathon, it give me just enough information to keep me going. It can help me learn to listen to my body and adjust the pace accordingly.

Hammer Gel (
Nasty tasting? Sometimes. Do I prefer GU? Sometimes for shorter races (marathons). Despite what are its drawbacks are, I can’t deny that the stuff flat out works. While I do have to be careful how I use it because I do need to take solids with it for my stomach during ultras, it is the one thing that will get me going instantly “on contact”.

Jolly Ranchers (

Who can resist Jolly Ranchers? They give me the pep I need when my blood sugar level drops later in a race. An added bonus is that by letting one of them dissolve in my front lip, it keeps the salivary glands pumping to keep my mouth from going dry.

NUUN Electrolyte Tablets (

I’ve been having problems taking in electrolytes, dissatisfied with the various electrolyte pills out on the market which have started irritating my stomach. The NUUN tablets work great and make my water more like a fizzy flavored soda so I can take in electrolytes gradually.

Two Crazy Uncles

Honestly, I almost consider these two as performance enhancing drugs. Everybody should have a couple of crazy uncles willing to follow them to some pretty interesting locals (i.e. Death Valley). Where others won’t go, they’re there.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Javelina Jundred and 2008

I’ve returned from the 2007 Javelina Jundred (, which was a terrific 100 mile race, with almost 150 starters. It was successful from a number of different standpoints. In order to mix it up a little bit, I will shy away from the usual play-by-play and try to give you a brief summary of what happened.

-Ran terrific for the first 31 miles (two loops)
-Slowed on loop 3 due to increase in temperatures (over 100 in certain spots)
-Puked after completion of loop 3 and 5, as well as one other occasion
-Took recovery breaks of 1.5 hours total during race
-Recovered to finished the final 20 miles in 4 hours
-Finished well in 24 hours

Now you may be saying to yourself, “He puked again? I thought this was solved.” Well, one of the primary reasons I completely bounced back at mile 80 was the introduction of mass quantities of Lay’s potato chips and Ginger Snap Cookies into my diet. At one point, being my first ultra by myself, I let my mind run a little wild when I was hurting and thought about a) quitting ultrarunning, b) hated family and friends, and c) hated my own life. It was bringing out the best and worst of my emotions. I needed something with a little salt, some sugars, a bunch of fats, and some other carbs to top it off that my stomach would like. The salt came in quantities that my stomach could handle and it felt awesome. At some points, I was almost running away from my pacer, Robert Andrulis, who volunteered at mile 75 to pace me the rest of the way. I met Robert when we both ran Badwater in 2006, and it was nice to chat with a friend who knew how to send my mind on a vacation while my body started kicking into gear. I was just wired like crazy and running like a banchee up and down those hills. I am going to continue to pour on the solid foods in my future 100 milers, which will continue to help balance out my system and give my digestive system food it’s used to. I’m not going to completely abandon the gels and powder drinks, because I think some supplementing is necessary to get all the proper nutrition. But, the balance is shifting, and packing a light Clif bar is going to become more standard in my running repertoire. While never totally satisfied, considering I’ve been only running beyond the marathon for 2 years, I’m content to be where I’m at.

Right now, I’m slated to run Rocky Raccoon in February, which is a fairly fast, flatter course. I’ll be setting the following goals for myself, which I’m going to follow up in training with specific runs/target times that my uncle will hold me to.
· Sub-24 hours- Standard goal
· 22 hours- Good goal
· 20 hours- Better goal
· 18 hours- Best goal

While most of my training will target the 20 hour goal, in order to better incorporate many of the nutritional lessons I’ve learned this year, a conservative 1st-50 targeting 10.25-10.5 hours will be the goal. I am a closer; I love to turn n’ burn over the last 20 miles of a race. Psychologically, the last 20% of an ultra gets me incredibly excited and optimistic, which translates over into how I run. But, in order to do this, I have to have something left in the tank. I believe that I will both feel better physically (especially the stomach) and have the sustained muscle strength if I focus more on negative splits. This is especially true of a loop course (20 mile loops) such as Rocky Raccoon where you can accurately measure performance comparing the 1st 20 mile loop with the 5th 20 mile loop.

A few goals for 2008 include:
· Limit breaks at aid stations in 100 milers to 5 min./max, 2 min. preferred (which I’ve started implementing)
· Continue intense speed workouts at local track at least once a week
· Make better use of solid food to combat nausea
· Make the 100 mile race a focal point for training
· Run better marathons as a base for running better ultramarathons
· Use at least two-fixed time races as times of experimentation/refining
· Run a sub-20 hour 100 miler
· Use “Negative split” principle where applicable (not always true depending on terrain)
· Use 1st 2 Badwater experiences as opportunity to make big leap forward in 2008

Now, I know a lot of these will require a definite increase in my training regimen, but I think that, along with the natural growth curve that comes with the changes in my body to be more runner-like (rather than, say, like a lacrosse-player or basketball-player), I have a definite opportunity to grab hold of here.

It's November, which for most people means time to go indoors and hibernate for the winter. When I was living in Los Angeles, I always enjoyed when Daylight Savings ended. I used to run around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena when I was living in Los Angeles. I have run the Los Angeles Marathon every year since 2001, and with the race always slated for early March, the bulk of training occurred during the cold winter months.

I got a rush out of running in the cold darkness, punctuated by the filtered light of the fog-covered intermittent street lamps. It gave me a feeling of empowerment, that feeling of working hard while other retreated to their warm houses or to the treadmills at their local gyms. I wanted to work hard while others slept; I wanted to feel the coldness of winter to remind me of the cold nights I had suffered before. I always tried to out run that feeling, but I never could quite do it. I'd run myself into exhaustion, so that as I stood with my arms on my hips, I could watch my breath steam up in the cool air. I'd take my shirt and hat off briefly, allowing my body heat to continue to produce steam. It was then that I knew I was alive. I want the feeling rekindled in me once again.

Besides one marathon (CIM) and one 50k slated for December, this is a month to get well and work on speed. Speed is something a lot of ultrarunners lose because it becomes an afterthought in training. But, the more fit (correlating with heart rate/effort) I am at the 26.2 mile level, the easier it will be for my body at the 100 mile level. Stay strong, keep movin', take care and God bless.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Friends + Races = Timeless Moments

I'm back from the San Diego 100! I've been sick lately, so I ended up taking the 50-mile finish option and save my strength for another 100 mile race (Javelina Jundred) this coming weekend. This has been a year of triumphs and dissapointments for me, so Javelina provides me with another opportunity to finish off my ultramarathon season with a big finish. I'm just trying to run this race with discipline and focus, to run with a consistency of effort that will keep me moving well all the way to the end. The finish will take care of itself. One of the highlights of the race in San Diego was the opportunity to share the experience with my friend, Trish. Uncle Andy was going solo as my crew in San Diego, so Trish volunteered to come out and help. I think she really enjoyed the opportunity to see what many ultramarathoners go through with the ups and downs. I think the hardest thing for any runner who is pushing their limits (no matter what they are) is to manage the emotional roller coaster. It's hard to quantify the emotions and physical difficulties the roller coaster elicits unless you see it person. Having Trish there in person to see it and appreciate it was great. Being able to share you passions with others in a meanful way are moments worth remembering, and having friends to share them with is priceless.

Let me put in another plug to all you runners out there to check out the Runner's World discussion board ( Sometimes the hardest thing for me is feeling like I'm on my own planet, not necessarily surrounded by other runners who have the same goals. A lot of you are starting 5ks all the way up to 100 mile ultramarathons. Regardless of your distance, sometimes having a forum of like-minded people to bounce things off of is a great thing. I know for me, it's been invaluable in the way of just getting information as well as inspiration. You get a wide range of people with a wide range of goals, from finishing the race to trying to win the race. No matter what, you always seem to get treated with respect no matter what the question.

I am always truly blessed to be alive. I'm praying for those affected by the Southern California wildfires, which affect the victims and all of us who love and play in the outdoors. Getting ready to race next weekend, which will be a treat. Stay strong and keep movin'.

God bless,

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

AC100 and onward to San Diego

Latest Update 09/26/07
So, as I just celebrated my birthday this past weekend, I have finally had time to sit down and digest both the recently completed Angeles Crest 100 and the upcoming San Diego 100 in October. While I think most reports (mine included) often are filled with superfluous detail, I’ll try and cut to the chase with this one. If I had one word to describe the theme of this race, I would have to say “Reversal”. Let me use the word in a sentence about the race. “The cause of my 4 reversals was quite simply electrolyte deficiency”. There we go. For those of you who haven’t been exposed to the term, a “reversal” simply refers to throwing up. I used it quite liberally when describing my 2007 Badwater experience, but decided to use it again here to spice things up.

I counted reversals at miles 42, 49, 50 and 68. For the first 20 miles of the race, I moved rather effortlessly up and over the hills to the top of MountBaden-Powell (9300 ft. elevation) before starting the long, rolling descent back to a reasonable altitude. While I planned accordingly for the change in elevation, the one thing about a electrolytes is that the pills will often “explode” all at once, depositing their contents in the stomach. I had not been taking in the electrolyte drinks and solids which would have buffered my stomach while taking the pills. The result was a general weakening of my system that slowed things way down and could only be assuaged by finally stopping at Chilao Flats (mile 52.8) to get some help from the medic.

Amazingly, after a long break at the aid station, I was able to pick myself up and finish strong. While I did have to stop to take care of the reversal at mile 68, I finished with a flurry, ripping off 10 minute miles overall for the last 8-10 miles as I picked my way down the hill and up the uphills. I felt good to be free, free to run.

When people ask you, “What was your finest race?”, the first thought that runs into many heads is the race you had your best time or placed the highest. And while I am still learning and striving for that “perfect race”, for right now I am content with knowing that like life, these races are an imperfect science at best. The greatest expectation that I can have of myself is to “race to win”, leaving everything out there with only the expectation that where that takes is me is where it was meant to take me. The resulting race at the 2007 AC 100 has left me with an insatiable hunger to get out there in San Diego and race (race smart, that is). When I ran at AC, I felt very comfortable maintaining a 20 hour race pace overall. When I had to stop, I was left with the uneasy feeling of trying to reconstruct a body that had been thrashed on the inside.

Ultras are the act of placing the body under enormous stress for an inordinate amount of time. In many cases, it’s about maintaining that complex balance that only a complex body like that of a human would require. Run, drink, eat and digest all in the same motion continuously for hours on end. Perfect balance is impossible, and yet it is what all ultra runners are trying to achieve. Being perfect in the attempt is all to be expected. In the 2 years that I have been running ultramarathons, I’ve been learned a great deal about myself and my body. I charge on with the wisdom of Corinthians yearning me to “run the race to win”, stretching for the finish line with the knowledge that my best is yet to come…..Will San Diego be the place where potential meets reality? No matter what, I am always truly blessed to be alive. Stay strong and keep movin'.
God bless,

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A Time To Run

Hey out there,
This last week has been a good one, filled with adventure and training. A bunch of us from the Runner's World discussion board ( got together for a day of running on the Western States trail on Saturday. For some odd reason, we all decided to run the downhill course backwards. For those familiar with the area, we traveled 32 miles from the town of Forresthill in the Sierra foothill area to Robinson Flat, which is squarely in National Forest land. A couple people estimated an elevation gain of 10,000 ft over the course of the run, which is a lot! While some may question the judgement of such a run a week from the start of the AC100, we took our time to enjoy the scenery and not burn ourselves out. We ended up taking just a shade over 10 hours for the odyssey, which included stops to eat, jump in the rivers to cool off, and avoiding errant hunters in the area.I have to say, that was the most fun I’ve had during a training run in a long while. Training in a vacuum, the one thing I’ve missed as I’ve gone up to the ultramarathon distances is training with others. Granted, the pool of ultramarathoners is small to begin with. But, in the process of doing this run, I realized that I probably didn’t have the motivation to finish it one week out from the AC100 if it wasn’t for the company of my fellow Runner’s World Forumites. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t do a 32 mile run, but the fact that as a naturally social being, the lack of connectedness to others was in some ways stifling my training. It kind of got me nostalgic for those days when my good friend John Soggs and I trained for the 2001 Los Angeles Marathon, my first.

John was an accomplished runner, having posted a 4:06 mile in college and completed an Ironman competition only a year or so back. Considering that I had run only as far as a 12k (on two occasions), I was the one who was struggling to get up to speed with him during our 7 crazy weeks of training for the race. When we’d finish our training runs around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, I could feel that he was stronger than me and tried hard to keep my heavy breathing to a minimum. I didn’t want him to think that I couldn’t do it and pushed myself to keep up. The beauty of it was that by aligning myself with someone who would push me further, I had put my ego in a position to either “put up or shut up”. The fact that that training partner was a friend only made the choice to “put up” that much easier. Even if I wanted to let myself down, I could not let down my friend. I hope to continue to have opportunities to both train with others and help train others to reach their goals. I don’t know if I’ll ever love running, but I love people and running is just avenue to express that. I want others to have that feeling of being emptied of every ounce of energy you have, and still continuing to reach for that finish line regardless of whether you get there.

On this September 11th, I just want to remember all the people who lost there lives in the tragedy 6 years ago. As the years pass, the emotions brought forth by this day will change, but the fact that so many people lost there lives will not. God bless their families and loved ones as they continue to cope with the loss.


P.S. If you want to follow the race, the webcast is starting this Saturday at 5 am and goes through Sunday at

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Camping in Angeles Crest

Latest Update

Hey everyone!
It's been crazy at work, which has eaten into the time I get to do things like update the website. However, I've been training hard for the Angeles Crest 100. In addition to doing trail maintenance work for 8 hours as a requirement for the race, I spent last weekend in Angeles Crest forest camping with friends from church at SGVAC and the youth group at their end of the year trip. One of the primary benefits was a chance for me to spend a couple days at 7000 ft. elevation and above. We took the youth for a nice hike up to 8000 ft. elevation on Saturday. On Sunday, I had time for a 15 mile run from 6800 ft. elevation to the top of Mt. Baden-Powell (9400 ft. elevation) and along the ridge line above 8500 ft. elevation. I have to say, the 360 degree views of San Bernadino/Los Angeles County as well as Mojave were incredible. Too bad I forgot to bring my camera to take pictures and video. I really enjoyed the trip as an opportunity to interact with the youth I had worked with previously as well as see old friends again. The run was just an added bonus. Before the AC100 , I will have run two 50ks, a 50 miler and a 100k. These runs have been a great way to test out an antacid pill that so far has yielded great results for preventing upset stomach during runs. I'm confident they will allow me to push hard again and go for another 100 miler PR at the 2007 AC100. I'll just have to race hard and see what happens.

Thanks again for your support, keep movin', stay strong, and God bless.


Badwater 2007- The journey closes

Latest Update

Hey everyone!
I'm back. It's been awhile and I've finally gotten around to doing a race report and updating the website and communicating with all of you! The race was awesome; filled with unexpected challenges and pitfalls, but we perservered and finished in 42 hours, 8 minutes. That was an hour and half better than last year. It was incredible finishing the first 1/3 of the race to Stovepipe Wells in 7 hours, battling 3 bouts of nausea in the middle, and finishing up Mt. Whitney Portal strong. If I can get this stomach issue solved, next year the sky's the limit. Thank you to all of your for your support and prayers! You're the best. I'm posting my race report tomorrow morning so you'll have something more than just this little blurb to read. We'll keep the website open for any additional donations indefinitely. Thanks again, keep movin', stay strong, and God bless.


Update: You can read the full race report at ! There is also a picture slideshow there!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

7 days till Badwater.....

Hey everyone,
It’s Monday evening, less than 7 days till the start of the Badwater Ultramarathon. It’s a little hard to describe what I’m feeling, but the feeling will intensify as I get closer to race day. All the memories of last year are rushing back to me and it feels so good.

One positive going into it was the relaxed 4:53 50k I ran on Angel Island with 4200 ft. elevation gain. I felt very comfortable and very at ease keeping my pace at an even keel without stressing myself to the point of injury. I feel like I’m beginning to peak and my many late night runs will finally pay dividends.

It’s been a tough year overall, with my first two DNFs, experiences getting lost on course, altitude sickness at Western States 100 and overall sub-par performances from what I’ve been used to or been building towards. But in spite of that, this one race can change all that. One race. For me, this is the Super Bowl of my running year, the crown jewel of what I’ve been building towards. For all the things that haven’t gone right this year, one race can wipe that all away. While admittedly the sickness at Western States leaves a bitter taste in my mouth that I would love to wash away in 2008, right now this is the race. I want to rise to the occasion when the stakes were the highest. Last year’s race was about survival, but this year’s race is about taking it to that next level. One race, one journey, one moment (or one collection of moments). Whatever time goals or place goals I have, I’ll keep them to myself. Surpassing it all is the goal of representing the Lord well in all ways: strong when weak, wise when foolish and faithful when hopeless.

As I prepare to look down the starting line at my fellow competitors, I feel nothing but respect and love in my heart. I pray that the Lord would bless each of their journeys, wherever that may take them. While the competitor in me always strives to be number one, the respect and love in my heart is like no other competition I’ve every known.

That’s all for now; I’ll write more on Friday before I leave for the Valley. My uncle will update the site during the race. You can follow the webcast starting Monday morning at Stay strong and keep movin’.

God bless,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Badwater Looming

Hey everyone,

I know it's been a couple weeks since I last updated, and with the Badwater Ultramarathon closing in, I figured I probably need to update this more often. My Uncle Andy will be updating the site during the race, but for now, I want to let everyone know what was going on. The hardest part of training the last couple weeks has nothing to do with running. It's been the stretching. Stretching is by far the hardest thing for me to get better at. I've been diligent for a little while now, but even then trying to make sure I carve out the time to do it right is the hardest part. So, if you have any tips on getting more limber, please feel free to let me know.

The easy part has been the running. I've had a 70 mile week and a 100 mile week the last couple weeks, which has been great. I'm looking to get another 100 mile week in before an 8 day taper. Unlike some others, I enjoy staying sharp by getting those runs in, even a couple weeks before the event.I've incorporated into my training a lot of night runs. Over the last couple weeks, I've done three late night runs, starting anywhere between 10 pm and 3 am. This is because I'm trying to make sure I can fight through the fatigue of the Badwater as well as future 100 mile runs. Everyone slows down in the evening hours, but if I can limit that, it will make me that much stronger overall.I am so excited for Badwater! I can't wait to be out there with my crew. Most of my crew is new to the race, so I'm excited to introduce them to Death Valley and Mt. Whitney. Climbing Whitney when the race ends will be a new thing for me, and going back almost 4 years after I first climbed it will be special. The biggest aspect, as I get more and more of those pre-race jitters, will be my mental and spirtual preparation. In particular, when my prayer life and connection with the Lord is strong, I become a stronger runner. When it is weak, I can feel it when the hard times come running. So, I ask that each of you say a prayer for me as I pray both for myself as well as for my crew. The challenge of Badwater is unique, and being in Death Valley continually reminds me that my life is not my own, but rather belongs to the Lord to do with as he wishes.

Thanks again for all your support, I love you all out there and pray for you all. You are the best. Stay strong and keep movin'.

God bless,

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Western States 100 letdown and Badwater buildup

Hey everyone,
Thanks for the notes everyone. I really appreciate it. I know the notes they put on the western states 100 site can be a little confusing. I'm writing an entry regarding my DNF at the Western States 100. . I started getting sick around mile 14, but was still on a sub 24 hour pace past Red Star Ridge. I felt good going in, but somehow the altitude got me messed up and I lost significant time going into Duncan Canyon. My legs were fine but I wasn't taking in enough nutrition. On the way to Robinson, the elevation drops into the bottom of the canyon and I started killin' it, passing 15-20 people. I dumped the Hammer Gel, which was causing me to puke with the gel sticking in the back of the throat. My crew at DC gave me Boost, which went down smooth. I chatted with a number of people as I moved up the hill. My legs felt awesome, I was able to hit the downhills at 9 min/mile, and my climbing was quickened. But on the final climb to Robinson, going back up again in elev., I lost 5-7 minutes when I puked the undigested Boost in my system. I kept going, got into Robinson, and let me crew take care of me. I stayed for 15 minutes when I puked the water they gave me. Funny thing was, I was only 3 lbs. under weight from 177 lb. at start. Doctor said it was elevation, checked me out, and let me go. The bug hit me again on the way to Miller's Defeat and I had to slow down. I still got in there with 50 min to spare. Puked again, went to lay down and make final decision later, but they let me sleep until it was a couple min. after the cutoff. I drank some 7 up and perked up. With how that worked and how I was disgusted with how gu20 and gatorade were making my stomach feel, I should of had them fill both bottles with 7 up (for the short term sugar) and leave with 15 before cutoff. Felt bad, but what was done, was done. I've got Badwater in few weeks, I love heat, so I guess that will be my personal Super Bowl now. Not finishing WS, for me personally, just puts added importance on getting a time in the low-30 hours there. It sucks, but it is what it is. My legs felt great on the way home as I scarfed down a big burger, fries and shake, and feel awesome, so I went for another long run to keep it up. Every time I go out there in a race like this, I carry not only my own expectations of self, but also the support, prayers and well-wishes of a lot of people. I'm just praying for myself right now that I can get a little God-power to deal with all the challenges at Badwater again. I'll always know that I never quit and that no matter what I think about not finishing, it always pales in comparison to the other things in my life such as my family, my friends, my church and my work with children in Africa. My character is neither blemished by defeat or made golden in victory. I may be only as good as my last race, but Badwater and redemption awaits…… Jonathan

Friday, June 15, 2007

Western States 100 Buildup

Hello everyone,

It’s another week closer to the Western States 100 and another week closer to Badwater again. The clock is ticking. Many people running the race will often take the last two weeks off to taper prior to the race. However, I will continue to push forward, albeit at a slower pace than normal. Last weekend, I got in a 32.3 mile training run on a section of the Western States course from Robinson Flat to Forest Hill. It traversed a pristine area of forest north east of Auburn and Sacramento. Although there were patches of snow when I first set out at 6900 ft. elevation, it quickly warmed up in the canyons and valleys as the run went on. The highlight of the run had to be my chance encounter with a black bear. At the time, I had turned my Ipod on and proceeded to drift off into my own world with nary a soul in sight. While running down a section of flat fire roads, I looked up to see the fuzzy, plump creature scrapping at a stump on the side of the road. I quickly put the brakes on with about 20 yards to spare and proceeded to slowly walk back up the road while maintaining visual contact with the bear. Compared to other black bears, it was rather small. My biggest fear was that it was possibly a cub with its mother nearby. Most black bears will run away at the sound of humans, but in cases where a mother believes it is protecting its cub, the results can be vicious. However, once the bear turned at hearing my footsteps, it scurried off down the hillside. I waited a few minutes to be sure it was gone before continuing on my way. I immediately turned off the Ipod for the time being, weary of future encounters with the black bears and cougars that inhabit these forests. As I proceeded onward, I would intermittently yell or make strange noises to alert them of my coming presence. I felt like a bit of an idiot making these stupid noises, but better to look like an idiot than to end up the victim of an animal attack.

It was great to be outdoors and breathing in that fresh air. The only place to get air like that in the city is at your local oxygen bar. The neat part of the run was that there was really only one way in and one way out. That feeling of truly being alone was refreshing, giving me the time and space to relax, think, pray and enjoy. I’ve been tired and weary lately, so it’s hard to explain how such a long run can be invigorating. Sometimes, taking yourself away from the things that you like work or social obligations or cell phones ringing is just what the doctor ordered. Now that I am leading a group to Uganda for two weeks in September to work with schools, churches and other organizations there, the demands on my time and the responsibilities that come with that are even greater. Moments like these remind me that it is important to always remember that it is God who brings order and purpose to what I do, so that the demands and responsibilities of my life do not consume me.

This week, I have some shorter 10-12 mile runs with a 22 miler on Friday night and a 16 miler on Sunday afternoon. Also, just wanted to let you know that if you want to follow the WS100 on the web, they have live webcast updates starting 5 am on Saturday, June 23 at I hope you’re all doing well and will definitely lift up a prayer for all of you this week. Stay strong and keep movin’. God bless.


Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Marathon Fun in San Diego

Hello again from San Francisco,
It's been nice weather up here in the Bay Area. So, I spent the last weekend in San Diego at the Rock N' Roll Marathon. Uncle Jose and I went to spend some time hanging out with the Injinji crew and getting a solid training run in for preparation for Western States and Badwater.So, as is our custom, we traveled through Friday night to arrive in San Diego early Saturday morning. We decided to go straight to the expo and met up with the Injinji folks. Again, Joaquin and Randuz and the rest of the Injinji family treated us superbly. My uncle and I decided to help out at the booth, helping market the toe socks to fellow expo-goers. Having first hand experience with the socks, I could honestly convey the benefits of the socks to my running. I was also blessed that Injinji will be making a generous donation to my fundraising with World Harvest Mission, which definitely felt good. It always is great when the people who sponsor you help take the things that mean the most to you to the next level. Thank you, Injinji for the support in all ways. As for the race, it was an easy going, relaxed 3:22. I felt quite at ease running at that pace, balacing the needed for a good, harder training run for Western and keeping myself healthy overall. I even took the opportunity to help pace a couple people I saw struggling on the run for a little bit. The ride home gave us a great opportunity to have a quick dinner with some friends and get home in time to go to work on Monday. Monday, bad to be back. Going to the sierras for a training run on Saturday in preparation for Western, so hopefully that goes well. My legs feel great and the patella tendonitis is definitely subsiding. As long as it doesn't come back strong, I'll be very happy.

Take care, stay strong, and keep movin’.

God bless. Gundy

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

2007 Memorial Day Fun

Hello again from San Francisco,
The weather is seasonably cold out here, which is to be expected. It was Mark Twain who once claimed the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco. While that doesn’t always make for good training for the Western States 100 in the Sierras or the Badwater, it does make for an unpredictable summer, which is exactly how I like it.

Memorial Day Weekend was a time of training, volunteering and just enjoying the time off. For most marathoners and ultramarathoners, the hardest part is finding balance in one’s life. So, although I could’ve been at the Western States 100 training camp Saturday through Monday, I chose to only go Sunday. I spent Saturday in Napa tasting some wine and taking a train up to St. Helena. My dad grew up in Napa and my aunt lives in Napa, so it was a bit of a family history trip. As the designated driver, I kept my wine consumption to a minimum. I also didn’t want to adversely affect my training so far. Overall, it was a nice day around 80 degrees with clear skies overhead. The wind kicked up a little bit, but not enough to put a damper on a good day.

Sunday, I spent the day at the Western States training camp in Forrest Hill, CA. It’s about 15 miles east of Auburn tucked neatly into the surrounding forest. I ended up with about 21 miles worth of running on the race course that we’ll be on during the WS100, winding from Forrest Hill to Rucky Chuck. The most impressive part of the run was being on the hillside overlooking the Truckee river. We had the best views of the canyon below; I will post the pictures when I get them. It was a picture perfect day to go for a stroll through the Sierras.

Finished off the weekend volunteering at the Tamalpa Runners’ Marin Memorial Day Races at College of Marin in Kentfield, CA. I did all the miscellaneous stuff, from helping the announcer, preparing post-race goodie bags, and clean-up at the end. With about 700 competitors in the 2.5 mile and the 10k, as well as the kids races, there were a lot of people to account for. It always amazes me when the under-10 years old kids finish the 10k, with an overabundance of energy. Makes you wonder what we’re all capable of, in all facets of our lives. I was impressed with the number of volunteers that they had out there helping. Anytime you put on an event that big, organization is the key. I could probably learn a few tricks, if only so I can apply them to my crews at my other races. I’m off to San Diego for the Rock N’ Roll Marathon this weekend as well as a trip to the Injinji headquarters to visit with my sponsor. Road trips only mean one thing; long drives, good food (relatively speaking), and a great race. I’m hoping for a great race on Sunday.

Take care, stay strong, and keep movin’.
God bless, Gundy

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Greetings again,

Well, it’s the beginning of a new week. Here's a Silver State 50 Race Report......Myself, along with (I think) at least 3 other 50 mile participants (including Hal Koerner), missed the 50Mile race/50k race split (9.4 mile mark) and kept careening down the hillside into Boomtown. It was an unintended detour of about 4 miles. I had stopped to ask earlier on, but was waved on in the same direction. Needless to say, I arrived with two other runners at the 2:19 mark of the race, which was a 10:32 pace for those first approx. 13.2 miles. Of course, once I got down there, I was faced with a decision. Either finish the 50k or high tail it the approx. 4 miles back up the hill (approx. climb of 1600 ft. from 4900 ft. to 6500 ft.). I briefly paused and began leaving the aid station 100 ft. down the road for the 50k when I stopped, turned around, and started back up the hill. The intent of the run, for me, was to get ready for Western States, so in my mind the longer the better. I didn’t like having to make that decision, but the competitor in me wanted to go for it. What made it even more difficult was the soft, malleable trail I was climbing. For the most part, it was a moist sand, narrowly hemmed in to the hillside. It was probably the end result of each year’s snow/rain cycles. On the downhill, it was superb for taking the pounding off the joints as you kick up the dirt with each stride. On the uphill, it made for a more laborious climb, each foot sinking downward as the other foot was trying to climb upward. The other runner who initially was going up the hill with me ended up turning around at the sight of his father who was doing the 50k. He wanted to help him finish, which was understandable. Me? I was left with a race against the clock and a sense of urgency to push myself to get through. The aid station at Ranch Creek had doubts, but I pushed on to catch up to the aid stations and stay ahead of the course sweeper.

Even in the midst of hurrying up, there are always those moments which make you pause. Passing by a Boy Scout camp in the hills, I heard a number of Scouts yelling “Rattler”. To avoid the embarrassment of running into the snake unannounced, I asked the scouts where it was. They pointed to a fat, 8 ft. (I think) long snake shaded underneath a parked van 15 ft. away. It was not coiled and for the most part looked as if it just needed a cool place to slither to. The rattler was fattened, probably from a few meals of mice with it’s body expanded at various points across the length. After calmly walking past, I continued on my merry way. My stomach was growing quesy from who knows what food or drink or whatever, but I tried to ignore the nausea and continued to feed my body. Before heading into Boomtown, I had taken Rolaids and coke to calm it temporarily.

Boomtown- Mile Marker 29.5 Miles + almost 8 mile detour
Checkpoint cutoff time: 7 hours
Checkpoint arrival time: 7 hours
Perfect timing, I guess. It put me at around an 11:12 min/mile pace at that point, including the detour. I felt pretty darn good about that, considering that the race was meant as a test of a sub-24 hour WS run. The bad part? Going up that hill was the biggest pain in the arse ever. When you’re already nauseous, the last thing you want is to get a whiff of someone else’s nausea. Climbing up from Boomtown that 4000 ft. climb, I passed another runner who looked in obvious pain from throwing up. Watching someone throw up from afar is one thing, but being up close and personal is another. It’s not that I didn’t have sympathy for the man. But pragmatically, I didn’t want to get too close for fear that it would trigger my own reaction. For the most part, it kept the nausea at bay. I felt close to the edge, but far enough away that I could continue to put out the effort to keep climbing. Once I had finished the major climbs and had gotten back on the fire trail, I felt it coming again. This time, with only a quarter-mile until the aid station, everything came up. I had had very little solid food in the past 2 hours, so what came up was mostly water and a little bit of stomach bile to top it off. I was like a washing machine being drained of its dirty water after a full load. After a few iterations, I was done and sighed in relief.

It did nothing to address my lack of nutrition, but pulling my head up again to look around, the world seemed a bit more cheery. Heading into the aid station another quarter mile, there was a surprising spring in my step. I felt the overwhelming weight of the crud that was in my stomach removed. At a quick few minute stop at the aid station, I tried to stuff some solid food into my stomach such as turkey sandwich and jelly beans, and move on. Even after downing 20 oz. worth of water to rehydrate myself, I felt fine until I was back on the trail again moving onward. Once again, the struggle continued. After the first mile and a half, I felt it coming in my stomach. It was time for the washing machine to be drained once again. Again, a concoction of sports drink, water, and bile flowed from me like a Greek fountain. Not fun, not fun indeed. I kept moving, but continue to stop to rest on nearby rocks. After reaching another fire road, I let the course sweeps go ahead. They would get the next aid station employees to come on up and pick me up.

Even with plenty of electrolyte fluid on me, I stopped to get refreshed by eating some ice, carefully shaving off the top. Once again, this left me nauseous and once again, my body was having none of that. After picking it up a little to get closer to the aid station, the aid station crew picked me at the 42 mile mark after about 12 hours elapsed. At that point, I was content to go, having finished my “50 mile training run” including the detour. 12,000 ft. of climbing was enough one day. Heck, I didn’t even get to enjoy the downhills. My muscles felt fine, my body in good condition otherwise (minus nausea), and my training run over. The first time EVER I had not finished a race that I started. The only thing left bruised was inside. I was smiling, imagining how just last summer I had meandered through Death Valley without a care in the world, and here I end up getting sick. Are there things to re-evaluate? Are there ways to improve? Are there foods I tried for the first time that I won’t try again? Of course. I think that there’s this innate stigma attached to “not finishing” which is ultimately equated with “quitting”. Could I have chosen to go on? I probably would’ve kept going and finished if the time limit was different, even with my stomach calamities. Could I have made decisions along the way that would have made the difference? By making decisions to sit and rest and not “pushing through”, was I choosing not to finish? It’s true that I was sick and that on a relative scale, I was not anywhere near 100%. I don’t know about everyone, but I do know that for many of us who have seen people or things close to us fail, there is a general disdain for failure that develops. It’s not so much the expectation that I always have to “win at everything”, but rather the profound feeling of not measuring up that day. There’s room for improvement in everything that we do and although I’d love to win a couple races along the way, winning is also a product of the natural growth curve of our God-given talent as well as our character. Finishing, on the other hand, is often viewed as more a testament of our character rather than innate talent. The only thing left is to say I did most of what I wanted and the experience will elevate my performances later this year at Western and Badwater. The goal is still the same; finish Western in sub-24 and Badwater in sub-36. The bruising now will only make me callous over with strength for later. Thank God, that as always, I live to fight another day.

Alright, that’s all from me for now. I'm preparing for Western States and still training. Prepping for a dynamite run at the San Diego Marathon, maybe a P.R. around 3 hours now that my right knee feels good again. I have a garage sale at the end of next month to benefit my fundraising drive for World Harvest Mission. It's a lot of work, but definitely well worth it. Stay strong and keep movin’. God bless.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Graduating and Celebrating

Greetings again,
Well, it’s the beginning of a new week. This past week has been packed with all kinds of comings and goings. The end of the week was dominated with my younger brother’s graduation activities. There was the formal dinner on Thursday, the baccalaureate on Friday, and the graduation ceremony on Saturday. After the ceremony on Saturday, we went to this great dinner in Novato, CA at Rickey’s. The service was excellent and we had this private back lawn area all to ourselves. We ended up having over 20 people there to celebrate the graduation, which was a tremendous accomplishment for my brother. He worked incredibly hard and just kept pushing all the way through. His achievement and the celebrations were definitely well deserved.

Monday, I met up with Bob Redell from NBC 11 KNTV which is here in the Bay Area. He interviewed me for the late morning news telecast about my ultramarathoning, Badwater in particular, and my charitable fundraising. It was a wonderful opportunity to share about some of my passions in life, and even give a plug to World Harvest Mission’s website on-air. He was really nice, just meeting up with me before the interview to chat about the racing and pick my brain a little bit. Overall, the interview went well and I’m hoping to snag a copy of the interview soon to show here on the website. Just to have the opportunity to go on air and talk about some of the things I’m passionate about was great. We’re all striving to have purpose in all that we do and how we do it. This was just an opportunity to see the culmination of a lot of the work both out on the run and on the website come to fruition to get my messages out there. I invited him out to Badwater this year to get a little taste of the ultramarathoning community up close. It’s a little harder to do that at Western States because the trails are off-road and the access points are limited, at least for the type of story ideas that would work for them. We’ll see……

Alright, that’s all from me for now. Gotta finish the preparations for Silver State 50 on Saturday! I’m feel better and hoping for a great race. I'm also preparing for a garage sale at the end of next month to benefit my fundraising drive for World Harvest Mission. It's a lot of work, but definitely well worth it. Drop me a line and let me know about your running journeys. I love to hear how you prepare, what motivates you, and how you take that all out to the run. Stay strong and keep movin’. God bless.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Journeys Beginning and Ending

Wow…’s already May 9, 2007. I can’t believe in 2 and half months, Badwater will officially begin. On top of that, it’s only 6 and a half weeks until the Western States 100. Argh! I’m still working out the kinks in my right knee, so I’m looking forward to a great race in Reno on 5/19 to really test it out. A great run at the Silver State 50 may be just what the doctor ordered. You can never underestimate your body’s need to rest and recover from injury. While our bodies are amazing instruments, I’ve also come to realize that the body can be stubborn when necessary. The body is designed with self-preservation in mind, so it is never looking to put itself out of commission. It is the never ending dialogue between the body, mind and spirit that is the most fascinating thing. They are each stubborn in their own right, so it’s interesting sometimes to see who wins out. I wonder what a dialogue between the three would look like…..

Body: Ok, I’m done. I’m beat.
Mind: I’m usually not in agreement with you, but this time I have to agree.
Spirit: No way, I will not let you quit.
Body: Aw, come on, you’ve proved your point. You did 50 of the 100 miles.
Mind: What a minute, did you say 50? That means we’re more than half way.
Spirit: That’s right, which also means you have less distance to travel than
you’ve already traveled.
Mind: That’s right. Come on, Body, did you hear that?
Body: Oh, I heard it. I’m not very happy about it, but I heard it.
Mind: So, what do you say?
Body: Well, I guess I could give you a few more miles.
Spirit: Yeah! That’s what I’m talking about.

I’ll try to include about 40-50 miles of running in the week leading up to the Silver State 50, to give myself a 100 mile week. I’ll try to put in another 90-100 miles each of the following three weeks as a way to cap off the training cycle (which includes the San Diego Rock N’ Roll Marathon June 3) before the two week slow down leading to Western States. This week, it looks like I’ll probably get in about 60, which is a bit of an off-week. However, I’d say it was acceptable considering the circumstances……

It’s exciting to be able to share in my brother Daniel’s college graduation coming this Saturday. Daniel is earning an associate’s degree from Patton College in Oakland, and he’s definitely worked hard for it. There’s been ups and downs along the way, as in any journey. In the end, he was able to pull through and do so with excellent grades to show for it. I don’t know if future schooling is in the cards for him, but the rest of family and I are proud of what he’s accomplished. It’s all rather simple; talent + work = results. The work portion of the equation is always the hardest to master and the easiest to apply, and yet it is the talent portion that we desire the most. Go figure.

I think the graduation ceremony probably takes precedence of any long run on Saturday, hehe. Maybe, I’ll just have to run late at night on Saturday….we’ll see. For those that think 100 miles running is a long journey, make sure to thank all the mothers out there on Sunday. Being a mother is like running a marathon day after day, trying to take care of all the responsilities that come with it. So to my mother and to all of yours; Cheers!

Stay strong and keep movin’. God bless.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Disciplined Mind and Body

What’s up?
Wow…..what a weekend. It was packed with a lot of things going on. On Saturday in the morning, I helped take a group of high schoolers from my church down to a soup kitchen to help them prepare lunch and greet the people. In the midst of this, they were participating in a 30 hour famine as a way to raise money to help feed the hungry, develop discipline and self-control over something we consider a life necessity, and gain a greater appreciation for the blessings that God has given them. As you can imagine, being around food only heightened their awareness of the fast. But in the midst of that, being able to serve people whose daily transience is built around finding the next soup kitchen or the next homeless shelter is a humbling thing. There is a severe shortage of a continuous awareness of how we can serve those most in need. There is not a gated community or security system in the world that should keep these images out of our consciousness. It’s not just about giving the guy on the corner $1 every time you see him; it’s an awareness that everything I own and everything I do is an instrument to do God’s good works.

Sunday, it was off to the Mt. Diablo 50 Mile Run. It didn’t start off too well; I was almost late to the start due to a gasoline fire in the East Bay which melted a couple of overpasses (yes, I did say melted). But I got there and to the start a couple minutes before the approximately 7 a.m. start. The nice thing about getting to a race early is the opportunity to relax, stretch fully, and ease into it. This time, it was just arrive, put the gear on, put the bib number on the chest, wait a couple minutes and just get going.

The first 8 mile climb to the summit was long and treacherous at points. I was using a softer trail shoe to compensate for the tendonitis in my knee, which also meant a softer base. A couple of sharp downhills on the narrow trails left me struggling to keep my outside foot on the hillside. It didn’t help that my back wasn’t yet fully stretched out from the hurried start. While this muscle tightness would go way, every once in awhile I would stop and pause to bend my back backwards to loosen up the muscles on the steep inclines of this beginning climb.

The next 6.5 miles was a long, winding road down into the canyons. Most of this was a breeze, cruising down at a sub-8:00 minute/mile pace overall. At times, the gravel and rock covered trail was too steep to run, especially in the shoes I had chosen. For me, the pivotal point in the race came a few miles later between miles 17 and 21. My right knee was starting to throb and even the smallest of downhills was becoming a grueling chore. For the briefest of moments, 21 miles into the race, I even sat down on an uphill beneath an oak tree just after a stream. I sat there with my leg outstretched trying to coax it into being less painful. My physical condition as well as, to a lesser extent, the toll it was taking on my overall time was killing me inside. The mental and spiritual desire to keep driving and keep moving was coming in direct conflict with what my body was allowing me to do.

More and more, in all manner of races, managing the intensity of the race is as important for me as managing my physical condition. The individual who can manage the mental and spiritual is often the one who can snap out of “the funk” that often accompanies the relative physical low-points of any race. I am naturally a very easy-going individual, so when my sense of humor starts to go, the intensity can build expotentially. Despite the fact that I watched a few people pass me by, it was the chance meeting with a fellow runner that helped me immensely. I had told him that my knee was killing me, to which he offered a couple of Aleve tablets. He even offered me a little bit of extra fluid from his water container to help keep me a float. While the Aleve was a first step in getting my body back into it, it was the simple gesture of giving that really picked me up. I would end up having a brief 7-10 minute conversation with him, which helped brighten my spirits in general. I needed to get beyond my general malaise and see that there was a bright future in this race. Sometimes, we forget that no matter what race we are running (i.e. 10k, half-marathon, marathon, ultramarathon), there will always be those relative down times. I don’t think there’s been a marathon or ultramarathon where the thought of not finishing has not crossed my mind, even for the briefest of moments. It was good for me, both personally and for my future races, to experience that again. It’s often how we deal with being in those physical, mental and spiritual valleys that will dictate the end results. It doesn’t hurt that God seems to sends angels in the least likely of moments when we need it most.

The pain relief kicked in a few long miles down the road. By that time, I was mentally much more alert and took the time to more fully hydrate myself at an aid station. The pain became more tolerable and I was more relaxed and refreshed. I had sped past the half-way point around 5:47, which was a little slower than the 5:30 needed for a 11 hour pace, but felt light years ahead of where I had been just an hour and a half earlier.

I also employed a new running technique. With my right knee still in relative discomfort, I was still determined to speed up on the downhills, which is where my time was being hurt the most. So, I started to let my left leg lead jumping off ledges and would extend my left leg further on downhills. Once the left leg hit the ground, I would hold the foot planted to allow it to absorb a great deal of the energy of the impact. This would allow me to shuffle the right leg just above the surface and plant quickly before moving my left leg into position again.

Now, let me caution anyone out there from doing this on a consistent basis. This is not ideal physically, as it puts an uneven amount of stress on particular joints. While I have seen some people adapt due to limb amputation, running asymmetrically or even partially “off-balance” as a regular practice can only lead to bigger injuries. All of your supporting joints, particularly your back, are designed to work best with a upright posture.

That being said, it ended up working well for me considering my situation. The biggest benefit was the increased speed on the downhills. While the overall soreness of the tendons in my knee still suppressed my speed, I was able to move more fluidly which limited the herky-jerky slowing down I had done earlier. Over the last 8 miles of crunching downhill and gravel from Mt. Diablo’s summit to the finish, I was able to average 10.5 minutes/mile again. I even let gravity take me and really opened my stride on the flats and moderate downhills. Not to say that it was all comfortable on my right knee, but the fact I was able to find that more fluid running motion helped immensely. Of course, it didn’t help that I got lost and ended up doing an extra 3.5 miles didn’t exactly help. I was not very happy about that, but hey, an extra few miles for Western States training works for me. Even though my “official” 53.5 mile time was 13:16, when my GPS watch hit 50 miles, I was at 12:25. 12:25 for 50 miles in that state park considering my various ailments was a good step in the right direction. It was an excellent training race with my body still in the recovery phase from the tendonitis. It definitely bodes well as is a good marker towards the sub-24 hour finish I desire at Western States. With over 13,000 ft. of both vertical climbing and bone crunching descent, it is harder time-wise than most 100k (62.1 mile) races.

Priority number one for me, at this stage, has to be getting my knee well. That will have the single biggest effect on my overall time/well-being during the Western States 100 and eventually Badwater. The goals of a sub-24 hour (silver buckle) at Western States and going sub-34 hours at Badwater (135 miles) remain the same, but my body needs to be able to effectively function for that to become a reality. I feel much better in my legs today, and will continue stretching and going to the sauna to continue training. What I’m hoping is to get my tendon/joint issues sufficiently dealt with in time for the Silver State 50 in Reno, NV on 5/19. That way, I can get a much fuller picture of how I’m doing and what I can do to improve in the last weeks. This is my second year running ultras, so I’m definitely gauging it in relation to that performance curve as well. Everyone’s always looking for that perfect race or the perfect indicator of performance. I’m not sure if that perfect race actually exists considering most of us will have more “bad races” than “good races”, whatever that means for each of us. However, there are always things that I can do both training-wise and health-wise to bring me one step closer. I’d rather be one step closer to perfection than one step further away. Perfection is a journey, not a destination.

Stay strong and keep movin’. God bless.


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Greetings again,
It's game time this morning with the Diablo 50. The nerves are getting revved up and the stomach quesy. I love race day rituals, the things that always remind you that it's race day. For me, I get sick to my stomach until the first 15 minutes of the race is over. It's not so much that I feel nervous in my head, but my body just anticipates what I'm going to put it through. Usually, I feel a little better after a quick trip to the restroom before the race, which gets rid of last night's dinner. I'll put my clothes on, pray privately, get in my car and go to the race site. Usually at the race site before the race, I pray silently and quietly scan the crowd. It's just hard for me to be that social that early in the morning when most ultramarathons begin. I like to sit in my own world and really take in the journey that I'm going to go on. Today, with everything that's happened with my mom and her friend, I look forward to self-therapy. It sure beats paying a shrink $100 an hour when I can just run and listen to God and my own thoughts. Even when I'm moving during an ultra, the world just seems to stop and fade away. Who needs the ivory towers of man when God's creation awaits. Mt. Diablo is a reminder that even as man tries to create and re-create, perfection is already all around us. Good times, indeed (hehe).

Hopefully, a sub-11 hour race awaits! Stay strong and keep movin’.

God bless, Gundy

Monday, April 23, 2007

Mourning into Running

Greetings again,

Once again, a new week begins. This weekend was a tough one for running, with the bulk of my focus devoted to the funeral service for my mom’s friend. Helping out with the reception, getting things setup, helping my mom with her eulogy, and of course, the service itself, was emotionally overwhelming. My mom’s pastor handled the service in the best way possible, his words providing comfort to those there in a multitude of ways. I don’t think I’ll ever get “used to it”, although I imagine the feelings are somewhat different when you’re a little older than just 29. Relative to those around me, I feel like I’ve been to too many of these services, playing a different role in each of them. As much as I love to run, I hope that when I pass that my life will reflect a richness and an impact that stretches beyond just “what I do”, like my mom’s friend’s life. God rest her soul.

Next weekend is the Diablo 50, a challenging run up, over and around Mt. Diablo in the East Bay Area here in sunny California. Anytime you look at race results and realize that “being elite” in this race means sub-10 hours, you know this isn’t just a run in the park. I’ll try to set a sub-11 hour race plan and we’ll go from there. I’m cautious with my knee inflammation lately, so the first half will be to maintain and the second half to try and let loose. With over 13,000 feet of elevation gain, I’m sure it’ll provide some spectacular views of the East Bay at the summit near 4,000 ft. elevation. I’m sure some people out there from the Sierras or Colorado or the Appalatians will have other spectacular views to talk about, but I think in and of itself, Mt. Diablo is a pretty nice place to run.

My patella tendon seems to be healing up from its inflammation. I took it for a 10 mile hard run (6:45 min/mile), and it held up well. The breeze was very cool and crisp in San Francisco; it’s nice to workout outdoors, especially when the nasty rains can take some workouts into the gym. I like to go out there and explore, but in terms of keeping up fluids and nutrition, going out on the 4.5 mile loop at Lake Merced just makes sense recently. I’ve been trying my darndest to get used to Sustained Energy from Hammer, but that stuff just makes me want to puke sometimes when I really exert myself. If anyone has something they use in the heat that they love, shoot me an email because I’d love to know.

Alright, that’s all from me. Stay strong and keep movin’. If there’s something I’ve learned recently, it’s that even though life is movin’, make sure to take the time to enjoy the blessings around you.

God bless,

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sauna Time

Hello everyone,
Greetings from rainy San Francisco. Yes, it's raining again; I'm hoping it's not a repeat of last year, when it kept raining all through spring. It's almost that time again to begin sauna training. I know what you're thinking.....sauna's aren't always the most sanitary places. Thank goodness it's a dry sauna so I don't have to sit on people's sweat. With people sweating all over the place, that's a good thing. Other than that, let the random conversations begin. I don't know what it about being in a sauna that generates conversation, but I like the fact that this training can lead to interesting conversations again this year about everything and anything in life. This year's target: 180 degrees F for 75 minutes. If I train longer, go farther, and train faster, then the race will be its own reward. Right now? I'll go for 20 minutes tops at 180 degrees F by the end of the month. Onward we go...

Keep movin' and God bless. I'll write more tomorrow.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Hello everyone,

This is my once a week (at least the last couple weeks) update, so not a terrible amount to report. It's been a trying week so far, with my mother's close friend passing away from cancer. I can't say I understand it all, but it's there's little about how this world works that I do understand. Once again, it refocuses my commitment to use the resources and abilities that I have to try and postively impact the world we all live in. I don't want to run aimlessly, but be purposeful in how I do things. The thing that sticks out most about my mother's friend was just how generous she was. Even into my twenties, she has always remembered my brother and I at times like Christmas, always giving above and beyond her means. Too many of us give out of our surplus, but she always gave out of the best of what she had. She did it because to her, that's what Jesus would have done. Her tremendous courage never wavered unto the end, a testament to strength of her convictions. I know that our actions always bear us out, always revealing our hearts. Remember that next time you run a race or go to work or spend time with family or go to church or talk to a friend. Sometimes the wicked live long and the righteous die young, but our races all end at the same finish line.

I've spent the week keeping my runs to around 10 miles each day, to allow the tendonitis in my knee to subside. Moving on the uphills/steps after my workouts has gotten much better since I've been icing my knee down every night. The Mt. Diablo 50 is in 2 weeks, and I want to perform well. On each of my runs, I've kept my pace to sub-7 minute mile, which has been good for my conditioning. I'll try to add on track workouts of sub-2:50 800s to get my speed back in order. I still want to PR at the San Diego Marathon in June, so these workouts are also important for that. My uncle keeps hammering in my head that if I can get my marathon around 3:00 (or sub 3 at some point), it'll help a lot of the 50s, 100s and 135 miles at Badwater. I am looking forward to spending a night at Yosemite this weekend, which should be relaxing. The slower paced hiking should be great for my legs so that I can get a great long run in on Sunday night. Life is always a process, and it's important to peak at the right times. I just need to be patient in that.

My new logo is up, along with a new tab dedicated to my sale of some of these technical shirts. All profits from the sale of the shirts will go to benefit World Harvest Mission. Just to give you a little knowledge about the logo, it's a soccer-style shield that goes on the upper left of the shirt. The banners say Badwater United on top and "Ora et Labora" on bottom, which means "Pray and Work" in Latin. The motto, the Benedictine monks motto, is symbolic of how much both Badwater and other ultras in general are about things that are both in our control and outside of control. It definitely is how I do it, because if it was all just me, I don't know. The top left corner is three crosses, representing our faith. The top right corner is the Rampant Lion, a symbol of my father's heritage as well as heritage of many other nations. It represents family. The bottom left corner is a flaming heart, representing charity. The bottom right is a mountain with the sun rising in the background. It represents new beginnings and the sun rising out of the darkness. The shirts will be white with large orange stripes running from the underarm down the torso on the right and left hand side. The screened logo version will be $29 and the embroidered logo version (very cool, like the European soccer jerseys) will be $39. I've just ordered them, so the screened version will start shipping in 2 weeks and the embroidered logo version in 4 weeks. Graphics are located on The Store page above.I'm contemplating trying to see the fruit of my labors with a trip to Uganda in August (maybe) if we can turn those funds into a well project quickly. Last time I was there, I didn't get a chance to get out to the orphanage that benefits from WHM, so I'll have to do that as well. I can post the video and photos here for you all to see how you've enabled me to do so much in this world. We'll see how the schedule works out, but I'm hopeful. This is just another step in the process of engaging and getting more versed in working to do bigger and better things for others. It's all about doing unto others as Jesus has done for me.

Alright, that's all from me. Stay strong and keep on movin'; the race is long, no matter where it ends. God bless.


Thursday, April 5, 2007

Greetings again,
I hope everyone is well and that the new year is treating you well. As for me, it's a new season for a lot of things. First of all, I have a new job with a new company, so that's exciting. Anytime you go somewhere new, there's always a new challenge, and I'll definitely be challenged with some of the biotech process design and project execution work that I'll be doing. It's not always that exciting, but it's a great chance for me to step outside of the box. Special thanks to everyone at Barry-Wehmiller Design Group, which helped support my run last year at Badwater with a generous donation to help pay personal expenses. Hopefully, I'll be able to leverage that relationship to do some good fundraising this year for World Harvest Mission as part of my 2007 Badwater Ultramarathon adventure. Goal is to raise $4000 dollars this year. Let me know if you want to help; I'm designing some soccer style technical shirts to sell to help meet this goal as well.

I was too late to sign up for the Way To Cool 50k, so I just did the Ruth Anderson 50k on Saturday. What a beautiful day in San Francisco! I am convinced that a low 70s day with a cool breeze is probably as good as it gets at Lake Merced, close to the beach and the Pacific. It'll probably be cold as heck in the summer knowing San Francisco, but for now, it's all good. I ran a respectable 4:16, but was slowed over the last 1/3 of the race with soreness in my right knee. I was definitely picking up the pace at the end and felt good about staying below a sub 7:00 50 mile pace. My patella tendon was irritated and I've been going through a regimen of icing and heat to get it back to normal. I have the Diablo 50m in three weeks and the Silver State 50 in May, so I don't want be out of commission.

I pride myself on keeping my body in excellent physical condition, but I take extra precautions as it relates to my right knee since it was the one surgically operated on 9 years ago to repair a torn ACL. I do not want to tear other ligaments and keeping my muscles/tendons strong is a big part of that. I can still hear the tearing in my knee from that day 9 years ago while playing a stupid intramural flag football game, like tearing the fabric of a blanket in two. As the training ramps up for Western States 100 (in the Sierras) and the Badwater Ultramarathon, the hardest part is to continue to maintain the balance in my life. There is so much other stuff that contributes richly to my life, such as the work for World Harvest Mission, or my work with high schoolers at my church, and I don't want to marginalize it. The most exciting thing I'm looking forward to. I have a friend from Uganda who is visiting here in the States. He's staying in Texas but having problems getting the documentation so he can start working. He's trying to save up money to pay off expenses back in Uganda and help his family out, so if you can say a prayer for him, it would be much appreciated. I'm not quite sure how to help him, except to try to see what procedures were available for him to obtain the visa and work papers he needs to do it legally.

Alright, that's all from me. Stay strong and keep on movin'; the race is long. God bless.


Saturday, January 6, 2007

First Entry

Hey! As I transition to using this blog to interact with all of you, let me know what you think of the website ( so far, how I can improve, etc. Thanks.