Thursday, September 22, 2011

3rd Annual Running For The Wells

Here's the text of a run summary I put together for Injinji for a press release. Overall, it was a great, great day!

"The 3rd Annual Running For The Wells 5k/11k took place on September 10th, 2011 in the Presidio of San Francisco in the Community Area of the Sports Basement store. This charity fun run and BBQ benefitted the Uganda water well building projects of World Harvest Mission. Runners were taken along the trails and bike paths of the Presidio in a loop which eventually brought them back to Sports Basement. Over 100 people ran, ate or both on a perfect afternoon in San Francisco. Guests were also given the opportunity prior to the run to meet San Francisco Giants’ pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, who founded Generation Alive ( to help meet pressing global needs. Jeremy spoke to the group prior to the run about the importance of clean water and how he got involved in the movement to provide it around the world. All told, the event raised almost $5,500, which will be used towards the construction of 2 water wells in Uganda.

Guests who ran and donated took home a pair of Injinji Performance Toe Socks. In addition, all donors were entered into a raffle with prizes supplied by our other sponsors. The prizes included Brooks shoes, Brooks bags, a Diakadi Body of San Francisco gift certificate, and San Francisco Giants tickets. Our presenting sponsor for the event was Injinji with additional sponsor support from Brooks Running, Diakadi Body, Foods Co., and Sports Basement."

Event Info Address:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 Miwok 100k- The Recap and Looking Towards a Breakout SD 100

There’s now over a week separating me from the 2011 Miwok 100k and I’ve actually had time to think about what did or didn’t happen out there. First off, it was an absolutely incredible day to be outside running. It was mostly clear along the coast and even with the wind kicking in ferociously in certain spots, it made for a rather enjoyable view of the Pacific Ocean. That said, I didn’t spend too much time looking at the Pacific with the twisting and rapidly shrinking trail along the ridgeline often taking the bulk of my attention.

Don’t get me wrong; Miwok was good about 90% of the time. That percentage will probably go up over time largely due to where this race leads me this year, but for now, I’m comfortable with 90%. Going into this race, I had done quite a bit of work running each section of the course individually and/or part of much longer runs in order to try to find sustainable paces. While I first was thinking about 8:45-8:55 overall as a goal, I really wanted to see how this unfolded in training with each individual section to see if it was sustainable based on current fitness.

I would run the old course to give me a good standard of my current fitness as well as the portions of the course which had changed to give my fitness a context within the 2011 course. The middle 34.2 miles had stayed the exact same while the beginning 16.9 miles and the closing 11.5 miles had been flip-flopped with a more difficult, steep climb up Conzelman Road added to the opening 7 mile loop back to Rodeo Beach. All in all, the outbound/inbound portions registered 33.9 miles (-1.7 miles compared to 2010) and 28.7 miles respectively for a total distance of 62.6 miles. I felt comfortable enough with the runs I had done, the overall and individual section goals, and my knowledge of the terrain on that course by the time race day came around.

In the end, I even ditched the trusty Garmin in favor of a simple stopwatch. The trails that make up the Golden Gate National Recreation Area are often so well marked that you are constantly getting feedback on whether you’re going too fast or too slow. I had splits on a homemade band on my right wrist not only by aid station, but by various key points in between such as the top or bottom of a hill, turn point, geographical feature (like a particular tree) or even a particular trail distance marker. I knew exactly what to expect, when to expect it and how to attack it. Although my homemade pacing band called for a 8:58 finish, I left what I considered to be time buffers on the final ¼ of the race that I thought I had could definitely hit for that 8:50ish finish.

Having endured the cancellation of the Lake Sonoma 50 and having not raced since February 28th, the race start itself couldn’t come soon enough. The one nagging injury that had recently been plaguing me for the past 3 weeks was a calf strain that limited the types and frequency of my running. With most of the hard training in the bag, I worried less about my overall fitness than I did about how the injury would affect my ability to race hard. Still, I was very satisfied after a couple of short, quick runs on the course during the last week before the race that I would, at the very least, be able to maintain a comfortable pace and rythym without causing injury.

Although I’m not one for early race starts, I had plenty of energy for this 5:40 am start and felt calm and relaxed as the Rodeo Beach “Grunion Run” began with nearly 400 runners scurrying the first 150 ft. to make it to the Lagoon trail before the bottleneck began. I had my crew (Wilma, Uncle Andy, Mambo Jose) all set with their aid assignments, a couple of Tylenol already making their way through my system and nothing to worry about except putting one foot in front of the other. Let the race begin.

Start to Tennessee Valley – 11.1 miles - 1.29:00 split

I settled into the race early with Victor Ballesteros, who would later drop, by my side and Nathan Yanko just behind me in the distance. The climb up to the top of Conzelman Rd. has an 18% grade at its steepest, which I thought would be enough early to create separation between the runners up front. However, it seemed all the front runners (13-14) seemed content with allowing the pack to move along at a healthy, solid pace. I continued to sit right behind the lead pack with Scott Jaime and Phil Kochik just ahead of me.

I cruised back across the beach and towards the Rodeo Beach parking lot a minute slower than I expected at 56 minutes flat. At that point, I fully expected to take it easy going up Coastal Trail to the top of the hill (900’+ elevation), so I had built in a little extra time to get to Tennessee Valley. With the course in reverse, we did this extra climb early before heading down to Tennessee Valley rather than a climb up the Rodeo Valley Trail which overall was about 2/3 of the total climbing.

In some previous PCTR races which use this section up to Wolf Ridge and eventually to Tennessee Valley, I had generally timed out at 32-33 minutes at a decent effort which was exactly what I ended up doing this day. At this point, I strolled into TV in 11th position with Scott and Phil right behind me and the rest of lead pack about a minute ahead. I was a minute ahead of schedule, which was just fine by me and fairly consistent with previous training efforts.

Tennessee Valley to Pantoll 20.0 miles - 2.52:00 (1.23:00 split)

At this point, I was fairly comfortable being passed by Scott and Phil since I was continuing to hit my splits for each climb and descent fairly consistently. For me personally, this is where I felt like I had a huge advantage coming in

I knew based on my experience and relative strengths that the top guys would put gaps of time on me on the climbs but that the key to my race would be whether I would be able to hammer the new downhills and flats at the end. I didn’t allow myself to get pulled into anyone else’s race, instead just focusing on getting to each turn and trail sign as I had mapped out on my homemade wrist band.

There are two major climbs in this section: After the initial ~0.3 mile paved downhill on the asphalt, there is a steep 500-600 ft., 1.2 mile climb up Fox Trail. This is followed by 2.2 miles of meandering fire road on the ridgeline towards the Miwok Trail and Hwy 1. I hit the top of the hill in 14+ minutes, the Miwok trail in 20 minutes and Hwy 1 in 32+ minutes at the 2:02 mark which was again 1 minute ahead of when I wanted to be there. While Scott and Phil moved off into the distance and Nathan continued to move well behind me, I kept the focus on getting through each sub-section quickly and efficiently.

After crossing the Hwy and dropping down 2.2 miles back towards sea level at Muir Woods Rd., there is a long 3 mile, 1500 ft. climb to Pantoll Ranger Station. With the introduction of sizable portions of single-track trail and winding uphill fire roads in the lush Muir Woods section of the course, you can’t see too far in front of you like the more open expanses of the first ¼ of the race.

At this point, I really began to feel alone out there with time and space to keep moving at my own pace. Without much of a struggle here in the early going, it was the perfect opportunity to simple focus on the task at hand without pushing too hard on these early climbs. Once again, course knowledge had helped me remain relaxed as I came into Pantoll once again 1 minute ahead of schedule. It was definitely slower than what I was capable of, but very manageable and sustainable with an eye towards keeping my calf discomfort at bay. If I simply kept in motion at a reasonable pace, I could keep turning this into a shorter and shorter race to the finish.

Pantoll to Bolinas Ridge 26.7 miles - 3.49:00 (56:00 split)

After a half a minute to walk out of the aid station and compose myself, it was off along the ridgeline. This is by far the most picturesque portion of the course with the view of the Pacific Ocean unobstructed and a steep drop off to our left. Of course, the trail also narrows considerably which means the eyes are often focused downward. About a quarter of the way through, Nathan came up and passed me from behind. I sent him on his way, just trying to stay within that 8-9 minute per mile range. Eventually I would be passed by one other, but my stride was looking smooth at that point and there was little need to press the pace too hard. I let the momentum take me on the downs and kept the legs moving on the ups. Before I knew it, I was at the aid station, once again 1 minute ahead of schedule. Even though I was pleased with nailing the early splits, I kept a business-like approach and flew right through the aid station after another effortless bottle/supply exchange with my wife Wilma. Socializing could wait until afterwards and apart from a little soreness in my quads and calves, I had a good rhythm going so far and taking the GU Roctanes religiously every 20 minutes seemed to be going well.

Bolinas Ridge to Randall 33.9 miles - 4.44:00 (55:00 split)

Everything about this section is about the anticipation of the quad busting 1100’, less than 2 mile drop down to the turnaround. If you get there in good shape, the downhill is 12-14 minutes of just letting the legs go before hitting the aid station right at Hwy 1 on the way to Point Reyes.

I kept moving along much as I had done in the previous section, stopping only once on a particularly steep portion to walk as a bit of mental break. You start wondering at this point when you’ll see the leaders coming back from the turnaround, but as I made it gate which marks the beginning of the westward downhill jaunt, I still hadn’t seen anyone yet. In fact, I was a bit surprised as the lead pack along with a few stragglers finally started appearing in small groups of 2 to 3 about 10 minutes before I hit the turnaround. Another seemless exchange with Uncle Andy and Uncle Jose to get two new ¾ full water bottles with NUUN got me on my way. At this point, I thought about taking an Aleve to deal with the current soreness in the quads and calves, but decide against it in my hastiness to keep moving.

Randall to Bolinas Ridge 41.1 miles - 5.54:00 (1.10:00 split)

After starting on my way, I took a minute pit stop to take care of nature’s call before continuing on up the hill. In training, I felt like I needed to hit 20 minutes going up the hill to give me a reasonable chance and wrapping this section up in 1:05:00. On my timing schedule, I gave myself 1:08:00 in order to take some of the pressure off to really try and hammer it at this point. Again, I was waiting for the return to Pantoll from Bolinas to try to amp up the effort and pace. With the break and a couple of well-timed power hiking breaks, I hit the top of the hill in 22+ minutes and was off again to Bolinas. I was starting to wear a bit, but I was very pleased that I kept in perpetual motion on the ups and the time seemed to go by quickly. I even got a kick out of Ian Sharman, dressed as Elvis, passing me just before the aid station. I was 1 minute behind schedule into Bolinas, but still knew that if I could get into Pantoll in just under 7 hours, the ability to run the downhills and flats which have been a hallmark of my good races might just help me once again.

Bolinas Ridge to Pantoll 47.8 miles - 7.00:00 (1.06:00 split)

I left Bolinas alone with no one within sight ahead of or behind me. It would eventually stay that way until the final leg of the race, which left me in a bit of deficit for that extra push I felt I needed. I power hiked up a tiny hill to help get my legs going again, but let the momentum get me started on the first downhill down into a wooded abyss before the ridgeline. While I generally enjoy interacting and encouraging the other runners coming outbound, it did seem to take a bit of my steam away when a few people seemed to react to my presence suddenly which caused me to stop on more than a few occasions. This is really the most problematic part of the course as far as runner traffic is concerned with the ridgeline barely big enough for two feet side by side let alone two runners moving in opposite directions.

It quickly became apparent that I would not hit my 1 hour flat goal for this section, but I didn’t panic and tried to keep moving to get in under 7 hours. While I now wish I had added a pacer at Bolinas to help mentally push me out of this mental rut I was falling into, I simply pushed onward with the expectation that a big 3 mile downhill after Pantoll and the addition of my pacer would help kick it into gear. My legs definitely felt a bit heavier, but my energy and stomach continued to cooperate beautifully. I was banking on the momentum out of Pantoll to help return the spring and authority with which I was running with earlier to my legs. A late surge into Pantoll over the final mile only got me in there at 7 hours flat.

Pantoll to Muir Beach 53.5 miles – 7:50:00 (50:00 split)

Still in 16th place, the stop in Pantoll revealed major muscle soreness in quads, but again my mind got lost in thinking about my pacer, Pete, who had gotten caught in traffic as well as trying to screw my head back on straight to make a final push. I spent a minute walking through Pantoll and talking through a couple things with Uncle Andy and Uncle Jose before finally heading out onto the trail. After a slow 9 min/mile pace heading down the trail to start out, I tried to really let loose on the 2.2 mile long Deer Park fire road. I was hoping to catch some momentum to get into Muir Beach a little after 7:40:00. Having run this section as part of training runs, 40 minutes seemed very, very doable when my training runs had clocked it in the mid to upper 30s.

However, the quads didn’t seem to want to cooperate and every downhill stride brought with it a measure of pain. This brought with it the unforunate reaction to slow down and decrease my stride, which made me feel slow and lethargic on a section of the course that seemed to bring out the best in me in 2010 when I felt like I was flying effortlessly. Even the 2.2 mile mostly flat single track before hitting the pavement to Muir beach couldn’t cheer me up even though I could feel myself begin to run with a little more authority. I knew I needed some pain relief and Muir Beach couldn’t come fast enough, even if my average pace still hit 8:40ish/mile for the 5.7 mile section.

Muir Beach to Tennessee Valley 57.6 miles - 8.36:00 (46:00 split)

Once again, another section in 16th place without a soul in sight. I finally picked up my pacer, Pete, who was fresh from navigating some major San Francisco traffic to meet me at Muir Beach. A combination of running and walking helped my body recover after taking an Aleve at Muir Beach. The flats and downhills provided good opportunities to get my legs turning over again and extend my stride. While exiting Pirates Cove and descending into Tennessee Valley, I remember starting to feel stronger again and opening up my stride more and more while ascending the final gradual paved uphill from Tennessee Valley to the parking lot. The Aleve was kicking in and although I lamented not taking it earlier, I felt good going into the final section.

Tennessee Valley to Finish 62.6 miles - 9.20:10 16th place, 8:56/mile pace overall

I made another seemless exchange for fresh handhelds with the uncles and gave my parents a quick wave while ascending the first of the last two climbs up Old Springs trail southward towards the finish at Pt. Bonita. The winds began to kick up in the early afternoon, providing a nice cooling effect. This had to be the part of the race I was most proud of, considering that my goal of sub-9 hours was out of reach. Based on a budgeted 43 minutes for this final section, I refocused and reset my goal for sub-9:20.

A quick glance back at Tennessee Valley about a quarter mile into the climb revealed that I would have company if I didn’t start to kick it into gear. A strong push up the 1.4 mile climb created the separation I needed to leave the man in white out of my rear view mirror. Descending down the Miwok trail on the 8 and ½ minute decent into Rodeo Valley, I finally caught sight of another runner who seemed to be coming closer and closer into view. He seemed to be moving well, but I set him out there as a target to catch to keep me hungry and motivated.

Once across Bunker Road and into the final 0.5 mile, couple hundred foot climb up the single track Coastal Trail, I felt myself closing in on the runner in blue and his pacer with my body responding well to my hunger to pick up the feet faster and faster. Pete encouraged me to keep pushing harder to catch him. With the runner’s pacer looking back at me periodically, about the only thing that kept me from catching him on the climb was the overgrowth of foliage on the narrow trail that kept whacking me and slowing me down. Once on Conzelman Rd., he was no more than 50 ft. in front.

While I tried to hammer on the road and take the shortest line on the road to close the gap, the strong ocean gusts seemed to sap my energy and keep me at bay. The runner’s pacer kept looking back to gauge the gap, but the pursuit became more and more just two guys on treadmills with one treadmill set out just a little further. I kept trying to close but as the end drew near, I couldn’t seem to get closer. The runner in blue, Topher Gaylord, would end up finishing in 9:19:44, 26 seconds before I did in 9:20:10. A valiant way to end the race, in 16th place, just like I left Bolinas when passing a couple runners who stoppped there.

We did a lot of things right, which I think reflected the training and preparation which was supported heavily by Wilma and Uncle Andy among others. The pace overall was very sustainable (even for a longer effort) and the nutrition and electrolytes were spot on. The ability to sustain also leads me to believe that this is something that I could do in a longer race and gives me a wealth of confidence in what I’m putting together for the San Diego 100 in 3.5 weeks.

A couple of key errors I need to respond better to was the discomfort in my quads and pushing myself better when in my own space. The discomfort, in particular, really came into play on the flats and downhills between Pantoll and Tennessee Valley where a strong push through the pain in my quads would have gotten me very, very close to my 9 hour goal. It will be something that I need to respond to better particularly as I move to the 100 mile distance shortly. Getting the right amount of Tylenol or Aleve when I need it will help keep me pushing through all the way to the end. While the effort overall tells me there are great races to come as my calf gets back to 100%, I am thankful to God for the opportunity be out there doing what I do with great friends and family. The preparation helped me to really keep my head clear overall and just enjoy the experience making me hopeful that I can hit a top finish in San Diego to keep the ball rolling in 2011.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

2011 Miwok 100k- T-minus 10 days

On May 7, the long wait will be over and the first goal race of 2011 will begin. For what feels like an eternity, I’ve been training for the 2011 Miwok 100k with little reward beyond the post-long run trips to In-N-Out. With the Lake Sonoma 50 cancelled and the first 2 months of the year yielding a few opportunities to train by running some shorter distance races (3 half marathons, 25k trail race, 50k trail race), most of my training has been alone without much more than my thoughts, my prayers, my music and the sound of silence. And yes, every once in awhile, the sounds of wildlife rustling in the bushes. The races yielded a mixed bag early in winter training; the trail races were steady and crisp while the road races seemed more erratic and lacking in consistent rhythm/speed. This was a bit of conundrum, especially since it would seem more difficult on the ever changing terrain in trails races to develop a rhythym than the flatter, faster road races.

All the while, I simply kept making my re-acquaintance with the Miwok course (, using it for all my long runs in order to brand its twists, turns, ups and downs into my mind. Like a NASCAR driver at a race course, I’ve seen every angle and hopefully understand where to accelerate and where to lay off the gas. I ran the old course to help benchmark my fitness against previous racers and ran the new sections (most of which are the old sections in reverse) to help benchmark the time and effort difference. To say I ran out of gas last year after reaching the turnaround would be an understatement. What felt so promising over the first half of the race to finish around 9 hours ultimately became a grind. My legs became heavy on the returning climbs with only the finish line helping to spur me on in the last segment. The encouragement from runners still marching towards the turnaround and the views of Pacific Ocean expanding limitlessly on my right just weren’t inspiring enough.

In setting my goals for 2011, I shied away from predicting placing or time. This doesn’t mean I don’t have a time in mind for this race, but it does shift the focus to the process of building a foundation and that if I did that, good things would happen in biggest races. I wanted to put together a string of quality runs and quality weeks that reflected an honest attempt at developing consistent excellence while digging deeper into the core of who I am. I want this race to serve as a benchmark to come back to one of the principle reasons I started this crazy running adventure; engage God.

Maybe in recognition of this and simply the need to block out things which tend to distract me, I’ve tended to shun running with other runners this year in favor of running solo. While I’ve had company on a couple occasions and had a couple folks come out to crew some runs to simulate the race, I’ve spent significant amounts of time just being by myself. I rarely carry my phone with me on the run, so there have been no running pictorials to show. I’ve put few blog posts about the substance of my training, apart from the occasional Facebook status update. I think the only true record about my training miles is in a small Memopad file on my Blackberry. It was a time to still my mind and find peace in a world surrounded by chaos and uncertainty, much like it was back in 2001 running in the darkness on the perimeter road around the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.

I think in the midst of all this goal setting and experiencing the ups and downs of racing last year, I sort of lost track and kept focusing on what a clock or results sheet had to say about me. In the quest for faster times, I changed my focus. It showed up in ways that go unnoticed to most; the music I loaded into my iPod, the emotional swings during races and even in how I viewed the other racers. The things that I was using to focus myself were slowly pulling me away from reason I started this journey in the first place.

Sure, there are other reasons why I enjoy this long distance running, but none are as important to me as this one. In the Old Testament, I imagine what it must have felt like for Jacob wrestling with God and I see my own struggles with him played out in my everyday life as well on those select race days throughout the year. In my desire to engage God, there’s a desire to see the best in myself and the best in God played out on the landscape before me. All runners have their own reasons for taking on challenges like running 100 kilometers through hills of Marin County. Some want to see what their best effort yields, others may be wrestling with their own internal struggles and yet others may be simply seeing what’s out on the horizon. The answers to the questions may be coming soon.....followed by new questions, new journeys and new adventures. :) Godspeed.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Heading to the 2011 Lake Sonoma 50

With the 2011 Lake Sonoma 50 only 9 days away, it seemed like an appropriate time to take a look at what a month March has been and where it all seems to be heading this year. While I haven’t raced since the Redwood Park 50k, I have taken the opportunity to continue to heal from my arm contusion suffered in February and put in some quality miles. I have also done a number of track workouts and tempo/long runs on the Miwok 100k course in Marin, which have yielded promising results. As my weight has crept back down to 166-167, my stamina and resolve to maintain consistency in my running has improved. While the end goal for my weight is still 162ish, I can feel that as the season kicks into gear that a lighter body has meant an easier time going up hills such as the Rodeo Valley trail or Coastal trail. While I may never be 140 lb., I believe that I can still fly right around 160 lb. The improved strength in my core and toned down body that I’ve worked harder to develop for this season will hopefully lay the foundation to take the next steps in my running career much as I did between Dec ’07 and Dec ‘09.

The most important of these Miwok course runs could very well be this weekend as I lace them up for a run from Muir Beach to the Turnaround Point and back to Pantoll Ranger Station. For those not familiar with the race, this equates to almost 27 miles and encompasses the two most important climbs of the race: up Deer Park Fire Road and 1.5 miles up from the turnaround at the highway (from Stinson to Pt. Reyes) to the Bolinas ridgeline. Deer Park Fire Road and that climb back up to the ridgeline represent the two key points where people’s races turn due to their relative taxing nature. People seem to either finish them feeling renewed with confidence and strength or lethargic and beaten down as they get back onto the quicker, rolling landscape that characterizes the ridgeline. While there’s still a possibility that this training run will get moved to after the LS50 due to the weather conditions, the most likely scenario has me doing this training run once before and once afterwards. While it could potentially have a residual effect on my race at Lake Sonoma, I anticipate that an abbreviated taper period should be sufficient to keep me fresh for the race. I plan on using Lake Sonoma as a checkpoint for Miwok, so a full 2-week taper period is probably not appropriate until before Miwok. At this point, my Uncle and I have gone over the general race plan and are in the process of developing a more definitive goal; we are definitely eyeing sub-8 hours, but I’m going to let these last training workouts play a role in swinging it one way or another.

Also on a side note, I just wanted to thank the individuals who have helped make this year a success so far. Although it’s hard to see since I’ve been patiently taking the time to train, 2011 couldn’t be a year for breakthrough without the efforts of my wife Wilma and Uncle Andy who have sacrificed time and energy to help me get ready for this year. My wife gives me the time and space to put in my evening and long runs because she knows how much this year means to me. Uncle Andy has been putting in time to help make my weekly track workouts at Kezar Stadium a success by watching my form as well as keeping me honest to the clock. While keeping motivated is always a challenge, it makes it a lot easier when I know I’ve got two people who can give me the proverbial swift kick to the arse when I need it. Sometimes recognizing the commitment and sacrifice of others is a powerful reminder that there is always more at stake than one’s own ego.

I also wanted to thank those organizations and companies who have put their faith in me to represent their brands this year. To Brooks, Diakadi Body, Injinji, GU and NUUN, I hope that my running reflects well upon you as my successes are a direct result of not only your products and services, but of the personal relationships that have been cultivated with folks behind these companies over the years. Thanks again and cheers!

God bless everyone and happy trails,


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Redwood Park 50k and the first 2 months of 2011

Snow? Mud? Rain? Freezing Cold? While weathermen and weatherwomen around the Bay Area had everyone on edge with predictions of a local cold weather armageddon this past Saturday morning, reality wasn’t quite as dramatic. The Redwood Park 50k in the Oakland hills this past Saturday was a cold one with frost and a couple of ice patches on the ground. In spite of large residual pools of rain and muddy hills along the course, the sky was blue and the air was crisp for a great day of running. There would be some downhill sections where I would need to show caution instead of the reckless abandon that I love, but overall it was a good step towards a successful 2011.

I didn’t want to try and torch the first 20k loop; rather, I wanted to keep it steady throughout the entire run and most importantly finish the race healthy. I’ve torched the first half of 50ks before when my body wasn’t trained up enough, only to be plagued by serious fatigue later in the race. I was targeting between 4:15-4:20, cognizant of the fact that I need to dial down some of the descents to stay healthy and that there would be significant wet patches, particularly on the climbs. In my head, I was thinking 1:37:30 (20k), 2:32:30 (30k) and sub-4:20 finish would be a decent training race and be a good steady effort.

Cruising in to the main aid station in 1:38:30, I took a minute to reload before taking on the 10k loop. At this point, I started to see a number of other runners from the other distances out on the trail, particularly the slower 10k runners coming back to finish. As I try to slow things down and stay consistent, I continue to make it a point to encourage the other runners in their own races with a simple “Keep moving” or “Good job”. Sometimes, pulling myself out of my own competitive vortex is a great way to simply enjoy what I’m doing as well as focus on running this race the way it was intended to augment my training.

It’s also on this 10k loop that I was noticing an increase in the number and size of the pools of rainwater along the course. Surrounded by redwoods on the floor of the park, the moisture simply doesn’t evaporate as well after a storm as the open ridge trails which make up the bulk of the 20k loop. I was constantly checking to make sure that as my shoes dryed out, the mud wasn’t becoming a dried cake that would add weight. After a sluggish climb up to the Ridge trail due to the mud, I picked it up coming back down from Skyline Gate through the Redwoods to ease in to the main aid station in 2:31:30 at the 30k mark. This was a minute ahead of the basic race plan I had come into the race with, which was just fine by me.

Again, I spent 2 minutes getting my gels out of my box setup on a table next to the trail, which would be way to long for a really competitive race but was just fine for this race. Heading out on the initial half mile climb, I finally felt some real sluggish in my legs. Since bruising my right forearm and scraping up my leg and hands 2 weeks ago in a fall out on the Coastal Trail, the one element of my training that suffered most were the intermediate tempo runs of 15-20 miles. It was already a hole in my training that I needed to fill, but the fall seemed to delay that training further. As I closed in on the 20 mile mark of the race, it became obvious that this is one hole that will need to filled in March.

I kept trudging along and at times moved quite fluidly. I looked back occasionly to wonder if I would see any other runner with 1st place firmly in front. With about 3 +/- miles to go as I turned onto the Toyon Trail down toward the park floor, I was scheduled to finish 3 minutes slower than that 4:20 target assuming I finish the last section in the same time as the first 20k loop. After picking up some steam on the downhill and not seeing anyone within sight, I turned it back onto cruise control to finish the final loop in 1:53 and the race in 4:26, 2nd overall. It wasn’t a dynamite race perse, but it was effective enough considering my health not being 100% and the conditions being as they were. The results this year are slowly taking care of themselves with a 5th place finish at the Angel Island 25k (1:53) and now this 2nd place finish here. At least I know that I’m on the right track as far as getting effective training to start the year. Besides, it’s always nice to see running friends out there like Mark Tanaka, who is also dealing with health issues but had enough to finish 3rd overall.

The first two months of the year have seen me keep to my oft-stated goal to do 2-3 quality runs a week. Around those runs, I generally try to keep it easier in order to maximize my effort on the quality days of training. My wife has also been giving me the time and space to train properly, which has been a key factor in getting a good start to 2011 running-wise. I'm back down to 167 and continuing to trim down for the big races. It’s also been a really good thing for me and having my Uncle out with me at the track to keep my honest in my effort. This is just one step in the process, although I will look to a healthy Lake Sonoma 50 during the first week of April as a more serious gauge of what I should be able to do at Miwok. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to update some of my Miwok training here in the next couple weeks and give a more honest assessment for how I see the big race in May shaping up for me personally. For now, it’s back to training. :)

Cheers and God bless,


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Welcome to 2011

Goals for 2011

1) Raise $14,000 for development programs with WHM in Uganda
2) Speedwork or tempo runs twice a week

3) No less than 50 miles per week, including recovery weeks
4) Get weight down to 163 lb.
5) Finish well

6) Kick butt

Setting running goals for the year is often just an extension of the natural human desire to want to aspire to something. Even then, setting running goals is often a crap shoot. 12 months is light years away, making goals set in January seem rather outdated in April. Last year, I had a number of result-oriented goals that made good sense when I made them, but often failed to take into account current health and other conditions necessary to turn them into reality.

In the process of setting running goals for 2011, I realized that in order to get to where I want to go with this running experiment, I needed to do things differently. While the desire to compete well is still strong, there comes a point where you know that you can only compete well if you train well. I need my body to be at its peak condition, which means taking care to run for quality as much as it is to run for quantity this year.

Goal 1 is a given; it keeps me grounded so that whether I come in 1st or last, my passions stretch far beyond the race course.

Goals 2 & 3 are measures of consistency and quality in my training. I want to make sure that I put in quality runs every week and that every week has the quantity necessary to sustain an excellent performance from mile 1 through mile X. I want to limit those gaps where I am losing focus and losing ground.

Goal 4 is a measure of discipline and a recognition that being excellent at one thing (running) requires discipline in all things. Diet has never been a huge issue, but the goal is really to tighten the reins on what I need to do off the course to support what I do on the course. I am a whole person and although I still need to enjoy myself, I also have to be smart if running is something that I place as a priority at this stage in my life.

Goals 5 is there to remind me that the hardest thing is life is to finish well. That last 10% of any endeavor is always the hardest to do because of the temptation to be satisfied with the first 90% and not push the pain/discomfort threshold. It is the point where there is the most to gain and the most to lose. This year, I want to be most satisfied with the last 10% of each and every race because the race doesn’t end until I break the tape. Goal 6 is just one of goals that we all want to do in each and every area of our life. There’s no secret to it, although it really preceeds from the other 5 goals on my list.

As far as my race calender for 2011, I’ve streamlined it down trying to focus on a few key goal races for the year. I needed to stremline and prioritize if I wanted to expect peak performance at those goal races. I also needed to provide ample time between races to recover (minimum 5 weeks) and get back to 100%. As of now, my goal races for 2011 are the Miwok 100k, San Diego 100, Angeles Crest 100, Firetrails 50 and an as-of-yet unidentified marathon. Although Leadville is still pending depending on the timing of a mission trip to Uganda with my wife, it’s a reasonable healthy list of races. Miwok and Firetrails are especially good tests because I get to run the trails used in these two races all the time here in the Bay Area. Other than that, I am just looking forward to reconnecting with all my running friends again out on the trails and roads and wish everyone the best for 2011. The season is upon me fast and the Redwood Park 50k is 3 short weeks’s just about “go” time.