Archives For Running

April 2014: The build to Big Sur.

Yep, that’s what April was all about – the final stretch in training for marathon number four.  It was a great month of training.  Some quality runs, though none completed on trails.  Based on my Big Sur race, and in reviewing my April training, I need to do more hill workouts.

I also finalized my 2014 race schedule.  With a theme of “Let’s take it to the next level”, it definitely will be a solid 2014 and, for certain, a pretty challenging second half.  Woohoo!

I did have a quick biz trip to San Diego.  I worked in two runs while there: a 21-miler (last 20+ before Big Sur) and a 10-miler.  Both were great!


  • HIGH: Ran my fourth marathon and finished with a new PR by 18 seconds.
  • LOW: Not really a LOW; but, based on Big Sur, I discovered that my training needs to include more hill work.

As far as new equipment & such:

  • Altra The One shoes.  With the mileage on my Altra 3-Sums getting up there, I picked up a pair of their The One lightweight running shoes.  They actually are similar to the triathlon-focused 3-Sum and only a half ounce heavier.   I really like The Ones as they do fit similarly to the 3-Sum; however, they seem to be cut slightly different which results in a weird gathering of the upper when I lace them.  I still like the way the feel and run.  These are the shoes I wore for Big Sur and my feet felt great at the finish.  The one change I did make was switching out the stock laces with some Lock Laces that I got free a while back.  The stock laces were too long and I liked the speed laces on the 3-Sum version.  Altra just came out with a new version of this shoe that is getting rave reviews.  I am at 156 miles in these right now, so I will definitely get a pair of The One2 to have waiting in the wings.  I seem to have switched to mostly Altra shoes at this point, using their Lone Peak 1.5 for trail, the Instinct 1.5 for general training, and the 3-Sum and The One for training and races.  Altra has also recently come out with some maximalist shoes that I may try at some point, since I really like the zero-drop/wide toe box aspects of their design.
  • Lock Laces.  See above.  Like them and may use the extra pair I have on my Altra Instinct 1.5s.
  • Tailwind Nutrition.  This is a quick take on this, as I plan to write a review post about Trailwind at some point.  I had been reading about Tailwind on Twitter and Facebook a lot and decided to give it a try, looking at using it instead of my usual gels, salt tabs, and electrolyte drink mix for Big Sur and beyond, if it worked out.  This stuff worked as advertised.  I didn’t miss the gels, salt tabs, and electrolyte drink combo at all.  In fact, even though I didn’t really have stomach issues with the gels, salt tabs, and electrolyte drink combo, I always seemed to have mild diarrhea after a long run or race distances over 13.1 (since I would ingest more quantities.)  I think my stomach just couldn’t handle the combo, though the result was quite a bit milder than some I’ve read about who have switched to Tailwind.  I really like the mild taste (Mandarin Orange is my fav) and it dissolves very fast.  When I did my 21-miler in San Diego and again with Big Sur, I had absolutely no stomach issues and felt fueled sufficiently.  The biggest thing was that I didn’t miss then gels, salt tabs, and electrolyte drink combo at all, which was a concern.  I was nervous about not taking the salt tabs, as the have been good at controlling/minimizing/preventing cramping in my calves; but with Tailwind, I had no cramping on the 21-miler or on Big Sur.  Bottom line, this is a really great product, with a personable owner – they include a note in each shipment and even write your name on the packaging, just for that personal touch.  More to follow about my use of Tailwind in a subsequent post – probably after my June 50K.
  • The North Face Better Than Naked Long Haul Shorts.  My utmost, go to, favorite running shorts have been out of production for a while now: ASICS’ 55 Running Short.  I love having 5 pockets!  I have a good supply of them for training, even a few stashed for the future, but have been looking for an alternative short for a while.  I picked up a pair of TNF Long Hauls and liked them, though they did seem to cause some light chaffing on my left thigh because of a seam on the inner liner – nothing that some Glide couldn’t combat though.  They wear well and the pockets are great.  If I didn’t have a good supply of the ASICSs, I’d consider working these in, though probably only on long runs and races – they are pretty pricey.


Training Plan(s):

  • A run-focused training plan:
    • MON: 8-10 mile run
    • TUE: 20 mile bike
    • WED-FRI: 5-10 mile runs
    • SAT: REST!
    • SUN: Long Run – 12-26 miles


Race/Ride Reports:

  • 4/27: Big Sur International Marathon [report]


[this post is totally late.  i just have not been motivated to write it – or any other blog post, for that matter – but here goes…]


Do the work. Do the analysis.
But feel your run. Feel your race.
Feel the joy that is running.
Kara Goucher

I’ve had this quote from Kara Goucher on each page of my training plans for as long as I can remember.  January first through Sunday, April 27th, embodied it completely.

On April 27th, I ran the 29th presentation of the Big Sur International Marathon.  An event that sold out in a record 59 minutes last July and one which will, no doubt sell out again for 2015.  It’s just that beautiful of a race – or, as many categorize it, an experience.  All races have basic things in common: start line anticipation, on-course challenges and highs, satisfaction in crossing the finish line, and the R&R and camaraderie aspects of the finish area.  Big Sur has that and more.

Amazing scenery.  Camaraderie before, during, and after the race. Sounds of nature and music on-course. Quite simply, words or pictures just cannot capture the Big Sur experience – you have to do it to fully grasp, understand, enjoy, and appreciate.  A runner can watch endless YouTube videos, read race reports, listen to other runner’s descriptions, drive the course, and check out photo feeds; however, until one runs it on foot with 3300 fellow athletes, they just will never know the full experience.

I went in to the race with a plan [first line of the quote], but didn’t meet my goal.  When I knew things were not going to end up as I planned/hoped, I made adjustments along the way and refined my goal [second line of the quote].  In the long run, it was an awesome day – yes, I was bummed – but I finished my second Big Sur and my fourth marathon [third line of the quote].

So, I could end the report there; but then, it wouldn’t technically be a report…  Here goes:

Finishers. There are actually several distances and categories that make up the Big Sur event.  For the overall event, there were 6,522 finishers, for a male/female split 40/60.  For the marque marathon, there were 3,337 finishers, up from 2012’s 3,121.  The male/female split was about 50/50.

Weather. The weather forecast fluctuated all week: 80% chance of rain showers down to 20% chance of showers in the AM.  It ended up being a beautiful 54 degrees with little or no wind at all!  Perfect running weather.

2014_BSIM_courseCourse. The 100% paved course is a point-to-point, that starts at Pfeiffer State Park in Big Sur and makes its way North along Highway 1 and finishes in Carmel.  As is the case with most course elevation charts, look at the different versions of the Big Sur course elevation and you go away with different perspectives of the he course.  In my mind, it is a course made up predominantly of rollers – with one significant hill (the 2-mile, 500’+, Hurricane Point) and its corresponding downhill.

Management/Support. Course and event management, support, and volunteers were amazing!  It’s tough to get lost when you are running on the highway, so marking was not an issue.  The aid stations were spaced great and staffed by plenty of encouraging volunteers.  For some reason, I think they were a bit more enthusiastic this year than last, but that’s me.  I used the CamelBak “REFILL” program, which was spaced at every-other aid.  That went well, though I ended up filling my handheld one aid ahead of a “CamelBak station” once.

Post-Race. The finish chute and post race area had a great flow to it, as usual.  One thing I appreciated (which I don’t recall from last year) was that they gave small cardboard box trays to runners so they could tote their food around…nice touch.  There was the typical post-race food (bananas, bagels, etc.) and they also had minestrone soup and a beer tent, for those so inclined.

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a ceramic medallion that was unique to their particular event/distance (marathon, relay, 5K, etc.)  Event shirts (which are also unique to the particular event/distance) were picked up with bib packets and were actually pretty nice this year.  I also picked up a finisher’s shirt at the finish line merch tent, which was actually nicer than the one from last year.

My Race


  • Standings: #1 among 4 marathons
  • Strava



It’s funny, before writing this report, I re-read my 2013 Big Sur Marathon report and there are quite a few similarities in the “Recap” section.  I guess I’m consistent (which is the upside) – the fact that I made some of the same errors is the downside.

Since Big Sur is a point-to-point race, runners have to catch an o’dark-thirty bus to the start area.  for that reason, I drove to Monterey on Saturday afternoon, checked into my hotel, and then hit the expo/packet pick-up.  I ended up getting the same hotel room as last year, which was weird.  I walked around the expo, did some window shopping at a store, grabbed a coffee, then went back to the room.  My carb loading plans always have pasta for dinner one night and Chinese the other – usually in that order.  Last year i followed that order, this year I switched and got pasta take out and took back to my room.

I pretty much relaxed in my room all evening – watching TV, texting/talking with my wife (who stayed home), and basically vegging out/busying myself.  I got my kit set and went to bed by 9:00, since my alarm was set for 0230.


Hop on the bus, Gus!

I was in the first bus group (!) and left at about 0345 for the start area.  Like most of my fellow runners, I cat napped on the ride to the start – though mine came after I ate my bagel and peanut butter sandwich.  After I got to the start area, I headed to the same location I chilled in last year – it’s away from the food and bag check areas, less illuminated by the flood lights, and the lines for the porta-potties are short.  I hit the porta-potty first (love being the first user!) and then claimed a spot on the curb to sit for the next 1.5 hours.  With about 45 minutes to go before the start, I got kitted up – compression sleeves, arm sleeves, packed my sweats, etc.  I hit the porta-potty one final time, checked my bag, and headed for the second wave area of the start.

The start area is a great pre-race experience.  You get to hang out with people, swap stories a bit, and just veg until the start.  I actually like looking at shoes as people walk by – I noticed a LOT more Hokas this year.  Most of the time, though, people keep to themselves and probably try and calm the nerves…which is what I mainly did.

They called for runners to the start (which they do in reverse order, because the highway is closed and space is tight), did the typical announcements, sang the National Anthem, and in short order, the first wave was off…on time.  I was in wave two and we also were off on time too: 0650.

My goal for the day was probably a stretch.  It was actually more aggressive than the projected time I got using the pacing spreadsheet i got from; which, based on my best, flat marathon and their Big Sur factor, was 3:53:04.  I went with 3:50…it seemed doable, so I planned pacing for that finish time.

I stuck pretty close to the 3:50 pace plan for the first 18 miles – sometimes slower, sometimes right on target, but mostly slightly faster. After mile 18, I realized that 3:53 may have been a smarter goal/pacing plan. I didn’t really bonk – my legs just were tired.  Still, I had some high points:


Ultramarathon Man!

  • I paced Dean Karnazes for a few miles.  OK, I said “Hey Dean!” as he passed, he said “Hey!”, and then I ran behind him for a while.  He had actually already run the course backward (finish to the start line) and was on his way back to Carmel to round out a 52.4-mile day.
  • I had a quick convo with Ethan Newberry, AKA, “The Ginger Runner“.  He was wearing the new Altra The One2 in prep for reviewing them on his website…I was wearing the 1.0 version.  I ended up running ahead of him, only to be passed by him a after my mile 18 slowdown.
  • I ran the entire Hurricane Point hill, slowing down slightly at one point, but didn’t stop! (yes, this may have contributed to the mile 18 slowdown…but I RAN IT!  BOOYAH!)
  • Even though I was trying to maintain the 3:50 pacing, I really enjoyed the scenery.  I even took some photos along the way – though my on-course photography stopped at around mile 18 with a picture taken at Granite Canyon Bridge.  After that, I became focused…and tired…and left the iPhone in my Armpocket.

After mile 18, the race goal shifted to simply PRing – beating my 3:59:45 time from last year.  I ran/fast walked/ran after mile 18, monitoring my pacing on the Garmin.  At about mile 22, the 4:00 pace group caught up to me (!) and I ran with them for about a mile, which was nice.  The pacer was an excellent pacer, really encouraging people and providing constructive advice and coaching.  I’d run with him anytime!  That said, I was not able to keep up with the group, so I dropped back to a run/fast walk/run pattern…still monitoring my Garmin.  Things were looking OK and at about mile 25.5, I tried to give it one final push to the finish.  That lasted about a half mile and I needed to fast walk a bit…I was pretty tired at that point.  Again, I wasn’t bonked, just had tired legs.  Of course, I sprinted to the finish from mile 26.  I wasn’t sure what my official time was until I slowly made my way to the results tent, where I learned that I gritted out a PR by 18 seconds!

Was I bummed that I didn’t make 3:50?  Yes.  Was I happy that I PR’d?  Oh, YEAH!  Do I think I could have done 3:50?  Possibly.  Do I think I could have made 3:53?  Yes.

I crossed the finish line, picked up my medal, my food, and slowly looked for a shady place to hang out.  My leggies were tuckered out – all other systems were perfectly fine.

As I stood in a shady part of the finish area, I struck up a conversation with a woman looking for her husband.  I learned that Big Sur was his first marathon – at the age of 64.  He was shooting for 4:20 and she was on the lookout for him, since it was close to or just past that time.  I shared my “18-mile-slowdown” story with her after she shared that she’d heard from her husband mid-race and that he was getting tired (and she was getting worried.)  We chatted some more, I told here that I hoped I was still running marathons when I was her husband’s age, and then she asked me a question, “Is there anything you would have done differently in your training given the “mile-18″ thing?”  I quickly said, “Probably not.  I think I was prepared.”  I now realize that was a wrong answer.  In reality, I think I need to add a bit more hill training to my plan (instead of predominately rollers) and possibly some core strengthening exercises.  I think those two aspects will address the issue I had, certainly benefit my running economy, definitely help prepare me for the other races on the 2014 schedule, and hopefully lead to a new course PR at next year’s Big Sur (if I am lucky enough to run it again, since they are changing the registration process for 2015.)

Fueling. Pre-race, carb loading: I did my standard, marathon routine: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1100 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours, 1/2 a GU Chomps at -45 min, the other 1/2 of the GU Chomps at -15 minutes.  At race time, I had been trying Tailwind Nutrition’s product for about three weeks and used that exclusively for race fuel, supplemented by a cups of water from several aid stations.  Tailwind worked as advertised and, rather than detail it here, I will follow up this race report with a specific post about my use of Tailwind.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff cap, Tifosi Tyrant 2.0 sunglasses, tech shirt from the Livermore Half Marathon, Armpocket armband, Road Runner Sports arm sleeves, Garmin 910XT, tech touch knit gloves from Target, Picky Bars #TeamGreen wrist band, Road ID (Slim), Amphipod handheld, ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra The One shoes.  I took my The North Face Better Than Naked jacket to the start (just in case), but ended up stashing it in my checked sweats bag since the weather was awesome.


Had fun staging this shot in my hotel room…m’kay, I was pretty bored.

Here are some photos I took.  Again, on-course photography stopped at about mile 18 with the picture at Granite Canyon Bridge.  Again, after that, I became focused…and tired…and left the iPhone in my Armpocket.


  • Bottom line: NEW PR!  Learned about setting realistic goals and respecting the distance.  I need to add more hill work and some core strengthening exercises to my training plan.
  • Post-race meal: Drove home from Monterey, showered, and then went to Famous Dave’s for some RIBS!



I ran my fourth full marathon this morning: the Big Sur International Marathon.

It was a picture-perfect day for a run and it was Big Sur…’nuf said. It didn’t end up like I’d hoped, though I still ended up with an 18-second marathon PR for the day. Full details to follow later this week in my report.

20140427-191714.jpgOnce I got home, I saw this on Facebook:

To which I commented:

“Needed this today. It was a good day, wanted it to be great! I ran, which in and of itself was a privilege and something many can’t do.”

For now, I’m resting & recovering. Tomorrow too: PTO!


20140422-094047.jpgI’m not particularly driven or “cheered along” by catchy phrases or quotes while I’m running; thus, my “mantra” selection is usually limited to nil or a recurring 8-count.

That said, I picked up the acrostic in this picture while watching an great video about Brother Colm O’Connell and his coaching at St. Patrick’s High School in Iten, Kenya. This note has been sitting on my desk ever since.

If you’re a runner, the entire, 55-minute video is excellent (great lunchtime viewing.)  O’Connell briefly shares about the FAST technique beginning at 5:34.

He doesn’t dive deeply into it; but, to me, it means:

  • Focus:  How is my concentration – in total and on the mile at hand?
  • Alignment:  How is my line, my posture?
  • Stability:  How is my balance – core and overall body?
  • Timing:  How is my tempo – my footstrike?

I have found that cycling through this acrostic keeps me in check and my mind occupied while running.

I still do the recurring 8-count though…I actually find it calming.

Oh, and I’ve been known to tell myself to “embrace the suck” as well…


[so, this is three months late, but here it is…]

My 2014 race schedule is based on a phrase that a colleague of mine uses…a lot: “Let’s take it to the next level”

Since I started running in the fall of 2011, I have deliberately and purposefully taken things slow, working at increasing distance and skill of this this thang I’ve come to greatly enjoy.  I also set the goal back then to run at least one race each month, just to keep myself accountable to a training schedule/plan and to continually challenge myself.

2013 was a very solid year for me: one 10K, eleven half marathons, two full marathons, and a 50K (my first one.)  As I was looking at goals for 2014, I thought about sticking with a consistent core of half marathons that surrounded a couple of full marathons.  There was also the pull to run more trail ultamarathons, as well as having also registered for my first multisport (South Bay Duathlon in March.)  Running ultras was an eventual given and, depending upon how South Bay went, I figured that I would incorporate at least one additional duathlon (if not a triathlon) into 2014.  Finally, in 2013, I rode Foxy’s Century and had blast…should I do it again?  On top of all that, and certainly more important, there was the aspect of looking at home commitments (my amazing wife being #1) – oh, and work too.

So many options.  So many considerations.  What to do…and not do?

At the end of the day, I decided to focus exclusively on what I really enjoy: running (after completing March’s duathlon, of course.)  I really enjoyed duathlon and can see myself doing more of them – triathlon at some point, as well.  I also really enjoyed riding Foxy’s Century as it solidified cycling as another sport for me.  All that said, training correctly for duathlon/triathlon/cycling events would involve carving out a substantial amount of time from a run-focused training plan and, realistically, would not enable me to take my running “to the next level” in 2014.

So, with all that considered, this is the schedule I’ve planned for 2014 [updated on 5/9]:

  • JAN: Brazen New Year’s Day Half Marathon
  • FEB: Kaiser Permanente San Francisco Half Marathon
  • MAR: South Bay Duathlon [International] , Inaugural Livermore Half Marathon
  • APR: Big Sur International Marathon
  • MAY: Bay to Breakers
  • JUN: Big Basin 50K Lake Chabot Trail Half Marathon
  • JUL: The San Francisco Marathon
  • AUG: Tamalpa Headlands 50K
  • SEP: Coastal 50K
  • OCT: Skyline to the Sea 50K
  • NOV: Morgan Hill Marathon, Silicon Valley Turkey Trot
  • DEC: The North Face Endurance Challenge – San Francisco 50K, Brazen New Year’s Eve Half Marathon
  • JAN: Brazen New Year’s Day Half Marathon

The count: one 10K, one 12K, six five half marathons, three full marathons, four five 50Ks, and a duathlon.

So, a solid 2014 on tap and, for certain, a pretty challenging second half.  Definitely a year that will be a blast.  Of course, not all these will be run as “A” races.  Some will be preps for the following race (yeah, I’m learning that more and more); but, all will be run with the goal of taking it to the next level in 2014.  I also have one or two TBD events in my back pocket, but those are not definite enough to list… 😀


March 2014: Completed my first multi-sport and have now returned to a run-focused training plan/schedule.

Yep, I can now say I have tried multi-sport – a duathlon, to be specific.  Not just “tried,” I’m hooked…though I am not planning on doing any others in 2014.  I thought about doing others this year; but, at this point, I have too many other running-focused goals set for 2014 to insert training for duathlons and definitely don’t have time for triathlon training.  I will certainly be back for the 2015 South Bay DU and possibly give triathlon a go.

This month, I also decided on the rest of my 2014 schedule.  I’ll share that in a subsequent post, but it’s gonna be a fun and challenging 2014!

No biz trips this past month – WooHoo!


  • HIGH: First multisport!  More to follow for sure!
  • LOW: Took a spill/tip on my bike, which bothered me for a few weeks and affected my run on the Livermore Half Marathon.

As far as new equipment & such:

  • HydraPak Softflask.  Last month, I picked up a Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 and really like it.  The stock UD bottles are OK, but I’d read where people have used a few alternatives: whether other brands of bottles or soft/bladder-type bottles.  I gave my 20 oz. Amphipod bottles a try on a run and liked them better than the UD stock ones – mainly because they lay flat against my chest.  I decided to give the Softflasks a try and picked up a pair at REI with my annual dividend credit.  The Softflask’s capacity is less than the stock UD bottles (I went with the 500ML size since they would fit better in the vest;) but, since most of my runs/races are supported, that should not be an issue.  I actually like the softflasks best, though it took a bit to get used to them on the vest and how to place them in the vest pouches as I drink liquid.  They solve the “sloshing” aspect when compared with standard bottles, but they still make a rubbing noise on the vest as you move.  That wasn’t a huge deal and one that is solved by cinching the bottle tighter in the vest pouch.  They are certainly more comfortable when used on the vest since they conform to my body.  More to follow on them as I use them during my longer training runs.


Training Program(s):

  • After completing the South Bay Duathlon, I returned to a run-focused training plan – my happy place!  Actually, since I’ve planned my race schedule through the end of the year, I went ahead and planned my training schedule as well.  I switched things up a bit, swapping my Monday ride day with the Tuesday run day; just so I am doing a longer weekday run the day after my weekly long run (I read about training on tired legs in prep for longer distances.)  So, on a standard week, the program schedule is:
    • MON: 10 mile run
    • TUE: 20 mile bike
    • WED-FRI: 5-10 mile runs
    • SAT: REST!
    • SUN: Long Run – 12-26 miles


Race/Ride Reports:

  • 3/8: South Bay Duathlon [report]
  • 3/29: Livermore Half Marathon [report]


I’m on a quick biz trip to San Diego and, just like last year, my second 20-miler in prep for Big Sur fell on my Sunday away.  Not a bad thing though – last year it was Austin & Lady Bird Lake, this year San Diego & Mission Bay/the Pacific.

It was a great run – made memorable by a few things:

A trip

With an early-morning meeting and 20 miles on the schedule today, I got an early start (0400.)  Actually, no earlier than a typical workday, but early for a Sunday.  I must have been zoning out early in the run.  Just ahead of mile seven, I moved from the road to the dirt/sandy shoulder thnking that it would be easier on my legs early in the run.  At almost exactly mile seven, I tripped on a root or something and basically did a full-on, forward trip in the dirt/sand.  Luckily, it was mostly sand (and not pavement.)  I basically slid and wasn’t too skinned/scrapped up – just totally sandy on the front side of my body.  DOOH!  The funny part was that, after the trip, I sped up – running a pace just below or above 8:00 for most of the next eight miles.  Guess I woke up!


After reading about Tailwind Nutrition on Facebook, Twitter, and a few blogs, I bought some single-use packs last week to give it a try.  I’d used it on two runs prior to San Diego (10 miles each) and then on today’s 20-miler.  The two 10-milers worked pretty well – today went great.  I ate a half pack of GU Chomps before the run to get some pre-run carbs and only used/drank Tailwind on the run itself.  I used 500 calories worth on the run – 250 cals (2.5 scoops) in each Amphipod (18 oz) – basically the same calories I use in GU Gels.  I will say that the product worked as advertised.  Again, I didn’t eat any GUs and also didn’t take any Salt Tabs on the run.  I felt fueled sufficiently and didn’t have any cramping in my calves (which has been an issue) and for which Salt Tabs seem to do the trick.  I’m still evaluating Tailwind, but I’m seriously considering a switch for fueling longer runs and races.

More to follow on Tailwind, for sure.

Near Skunk’d

When I planned my route for this morning, it included running as far as possible along one side of the Pacific Ocean inlet to Mission Bay.  A fence prevents you from going all the way to the end of the point.  I spotted quite a few feral cats in the rocks while running – my headlamp illuminating their eyes.  At one point, after passing a group of cats, I spotted a furry creature ahead and to my left – only to realize that the furry part was an upright tail of a skunk!  I must have startled him/her, as they were prepping for a spray and not simply looking at me – no illuminated, cat eyes, only a black and white tail!  Needless to say, I picked up the pace considerably, darted right, and started sniffing to see if there was any change in the area’s odor.  No change…whew!


Twenty miles was the goal, but twenty-one ending up being the final route; just to get all of Mission bay in and to run along the Pacific.  This was my route this morning.  Very nice run: perfect weather, nice pacing for a long run, felt good after…just a bit tired, but not sore.  [Strava]


It was still dark for most of the run and when I was running along the Pacific, so no photo from the early sections; but, I did get a nice shot of sunrise on Mission Bay:


I have a 10-miler on tap for tomorrow morning – doing back-to-back longer runs.  Woohoo!



Last Saturday, I ran the inaugural Livermore Half Marathon – the first of what will be many more for this event, I’m sure. The event had two distances: the marque Half Marathon and a Family Fun 2.5K run/walk (which wasn’t timed.) I hadn’t been to Livermore in a while and forgot how picturesque it was…quaint downtown, suburban communities, ranches, vineyards, great parks system: the perfect venue for a race. I will say, for a smaller community, they pulled out the stops for this event, which will no doubt draw people back next year – I know I will be back for sure.

Finishers. I think they had a cap of 3,000 participants for the event. With rain forecast, I wasn’t sure how the turnout would be – I know I’m a “rain or shine” runner, but I wasn’t sure how many others would be given the 70-80% chance of showers. I’m sure the organizers were concerned as well. No worries – people showed up! I’m not sure how many ran the 2.5K, but there were 1,927 half marathon finishers. At the start, the announcer shared that 75% of those registered were female. Race finishers actually ended up being a 70/30 split (1,351 female/576 male.)

Weather. The weather forecast was 70-80% chance of rain/showers all day – particularly in the morning. At start time, it was partly cloudy, about 55 degrees, with an 11-MPH wind. It looked like it could rain, but the clouds were pretty high, so I thought it would hold off for a while. At the finish, it hadn’t started raining and was just a tad warmer. Bottom line, weather was great for a race!

course2 Course. The 100% paved course was a counter-clockwise loop that started and finished in the heart of downtown Livermore. It left city center, headed south through town and the suburbs, then at ~mile 3.3 entered the park/ranch/vineyard portion (which actually made up ~70% of the course.)  After that, runners returned to the downtown area for the finish. From an elevation standpoint, overall, it was a pretty flat course. Miles one through seven were light rollers, with the only hill coming between miles 7.25 and 8.8 (for about 160′ in climb) – again, not to bad…nice and gradual. After that, it was downhill all the way to the finish line.

Management/Support. Course management, support, and volunteers were awesome! The course was clearly marked and had signage and cones at the turns where traffic could become a problem (the local roads were not completely closed for the event.) The aid stations were spaced great and staffed by plenty of volunteers. The neighborhoods came out in force as well, cheering runners on as we passed homes and businesses.  Again, from my observation, Livermore really embraced the event.  The organizers also had photos taken along the course (courtesy of Project Sport and Gameface Media) and offered them free to runners – which was a very nice touch.  A few of the free photos are shown below – they are pretty nice and adding the event logo was a nice touch as well.

Post-Race. The post race area was well-planned – all in one: the finish line fed right into the food/SWAG/awards area. Livermore, being home to several vineyards, meant they had numerous booths for wine tasting.  As each runner crossed the finish line, they received a medal and an event wine glass. The wine glass also was used for post-race hydration – they had huge water dispensers at the finish line, ensuring a “green” race. They didn’t have the standard food fare (bananas, bagels, etc.), instead, a local donut shop gave out donuts to finishers – which could be chased by Muscle Milk, wine, water, or lemonade from another vendor/sponsor.

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal and a wine glass. Shirts were picked up with bib packets. The wine glass didn’t have the event logo, which would have been cool. Shirt and medal are pictured below.

My Race


  • Standings: #4 among 23 half marathons
  • Strava



A few weeks ago, I flatted while on a bike ride.  After replacing the tube, I mounted the bike, started to head out, lost my balance, couldn’t unclip fast enough, and tipped over falling on my left side.  At the time, I was fine – except for my pride (a guy was running by at the time.)  Later that day, my hip started to hurt and I’d been nursing it ever since.  At race time, it was pretty good but, as you’ll read below, it wasn’t perfect.

On a Saturday morning, Livermore is about a thirty minute drive from my house.  So, I didn’t have to get up too early!  That said, I did…it’s just a race-day routine.

I got to the event location early enough to park in a covered garage, just in case it did, in fact, pour rain during the race.  I thought I’d prefer a covered location post-race rather than an open parking lot.  I got there, parked, and walked to the start area to scope things out.  I hit the porta-potty (FIRST!), got a sense of the start line area and corral arrangement, and then went back to the car to get ready.  They had a bag check area, but I was close enough that I didn’t need to use it.  I chilled in the car for a bit, got the rest of my kit on, and then moseyed back to the start to get lined up.

The race started on time – which was nice, since it didn’t start until 0800…I much prefer an earlier start.  I lined up about 20 yards from the line – moving up about three times after looking at my fellow runners in the various areas.  I really didn’t want to weave in and out of traffic and have learned over time that most people do not pay attention to the instructions on lining up according to pace.  After I settled on a spot, the pacers came into the start corral.  I located the 1:50 pacer and lined up near him, decided to stick with or just ahead of him.

The countdown came and we were off.

My goal for the day was not a PR (since I really didn’t expect that I could run one), but a 1:46:48 – a time purely based on a WAG of pacing per mile after reviewing the elevation profile and knowing where I was at with my training runs.  The intent was to match pacing from my training and not go out too fast.  The day before the race, I considered revising my goal since I had had some good workouts the previous week and even re-planned the pacing (getting closer to a PR time.)  That said, I didn’t save the file – telling myself to “stick with the plan, dude.”

Miles one through seven were actually pretty good.  I was pacing faster than plan, but wasn’t feeling any impact.  Right at about mile six, we made a right turn and I stepped a little funny on the pavement and felt it in my left hip.  A quarter-mile later, we made a sharp U-turn to head north and I felt the hip again.  It wasn’t too, too painful – just noticeable.  I didn’t want to injure/mess myself up, remembering that I needed to stay healthy for April’s Big Sur marathon; so, from that point on, I tried to keep decent pacing, but took fast-walk breaks when needed.  Looking over my Strava analysis and the eventual result, I actually did pretty good overall.  I had an excellent first half and a decent second.  I probably could have pushed myself and still made or beat my goal, but again, I was thinking about Big Sur…and beyond too (i got a busy 2014.)

Overall, I am very happy with my race – 42 seconds off goal ain’t bad.  I always tell myself that not all races are or should be “A” races; even so, I usually train and run like they are.  In the end, and all things considered, I finished without much hip issue (I’ve had a good week of training,) with a great finish time, and surprisingly good placing in each category.

From an event perspective, this was a great one: small event, scenic and fast course, great pre- and post-race areas.  Given schedule, the Livermore Half will probably become an annual race for me.

Fueling. Pre-race, carb loading: I did my normal routine: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +500 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours, a GU at -45 min, a GU & salt tab at -15 minutes, and GUs (2) and an additional salt tab along the way. I drank 20 oz. of GU Brew electrolyte during the run, supplemented by a few cups of water from aid stations.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: The North Face Better Than Naked hat, The North Face Better Than Naked jacket (actually tied around my waist instead of wearing since it wasn’t raining), Brooks tech shirt from RnR San Jose, Armpocket armband, Picky Bars #TeamGreen wrist band, Road ID (Slim), Amphipod handheld, ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra 3-Sum shoes.

Here are some photos I took or downloaded.  As usual, I took no photos on the run portion…I’m too focused to stop and take ’em!


  • Bottom line: Excellent event, great race for me – I’ll definitely run it again next year…with a course PR as a goal!  If you are in the SF Bay Area next March, I highly recommend running this one.
  • Post-race meal: Did a quick clean up post race and drove to meet my wife and mother-in-law for a late breakfast: PANCAKES!!!



Half Marathon 23!

March 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

20140329-164311.jpgWell, I ran my 23rd half this morning: the Inaugural Livermore Half Marathon.  WooHoo!

I finished with a 1:47:30 @ 8:12 pace, which makes Livermore my fourth fastest half.  I’m happy with my race; however, it could have been better (not that 1:47:30 ain’t good.)  I’ve been nursing my left hip for a few weeks (story in my race report) and thought I could go all out for 13.1 – I made it 7.5 before needing to rethink things.

Complete details coming later this week in my race report.

Overall, it was a fantastic event (I’ll def run it again next year) and again, I’m pleased with my results.  Oh, and we even beat the forecast rain showers!

Enjoy your weekend!

Last Saturday, I ran/rode/raced/did(?) the 2014 edition of USA Productions’ South Bay Duathlon in Morgan Hill.  This was my first multisport event and, from the “go big or go home” camp, I went for the International distance (they offered a sprint distance as well.)  This event is the only duathlon that USAP offers and is billed as a “great opportunity to prepare for the upcoming triathlon season, the remainder of the duathlon season, or just enjoy an endurance event in the bay area.”  From my perspective, this was a dipping of the toe into multisport…and I’m hooked.  For sure on duathlons…and most likely on triathlons too – I just need to come to grips/train for the swim.  I do wish USAP would stage more duathlons or offer them as an option for their triathlons as other tri events often do.

Finishers.  This was a small even, which suited me just fine!  International: 113.  Sprint: 149.  There were also relay teams that did the duathlon as well – International: 2.  Sprint: 2.

Weather. The weather was forecast to be excellent for a race.  At start time, it was about 46 degrees with no wind.  At the finish, it was about 61 without any wind.  Again, weather was awesome!

Course. The run and bike courses were both flat loops on paved roads.  The run was a 3.1-mile, rectangular loop and the bike was a 5-mile loop that covered most of the run course, plus a nice ride along the foothills.  I said both courses were flat, but the bike did have a .25-mile “roller” at mile 3.25 of each loop that made the ride portion interesting and gave you a nice push to speed up for the backside of each loop.

DU Courses

Management/Support. Course management, support, and volunteers were excellent! The courses were clearly marked and had signage and cones at the turns where traffic could become a problem (the local roads were not closed for the event.)  The aid stations were spaced great and the volunteers were awesome!  At transition, there were course officials giving directions to make sure things went off without a hitch.

Post-Race. The post race area was great – all in one: the finish line fed right into the food/SWAG/awards area.  They had a great selection of post-race food, including burritos (though I didn’t partake of one.)  There were quite a few people just hanging out after the finish of the International distance and the faster finishers from the Sprint Du.

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal and a non-technical shirt (which was nice for a change.)  Both displayed the logo for the event.

My Race



Strava: Run 1, Bike, Run 2


As with my first marathon and 50K, this is a long and detailed report, mainly to capture my thoughts and other stuff about the race for myself.  Read on or skim!

So, SBDU was my first foray into the world of multisport.  The day I would link two sports I have come to love and enjoy: running and cycling. One I’ve become pretty confident at (running) and the other I’d still consider myself a dabbler (cycling.)  Honestly, I was pretty confident about doing well in each of the separate sports (more so with running than biking) – it was the transitions that I was most nervous about.  I had practiced transitions, but not in the space or layout that would be at the race – there is quite a bit of difference between my driveway/garage and the properly distanced/laid out transition area at a race.  First time or not, I did set a goal for the day, based on my overall training and two, dry-run 10K/40K/5K sessions that I did on two Sundays.  More on the goal later.

20140312-210458.jpgThe transition area opened up at 0600, so I got there at about 0550 to make sure I had time to set up, orient, use the porta-potty, warm up, and then calm down before the start time – I wasn’t leaving anything to chance.  As I parked, there were people starting to arrive, so I did the porta-potty thing first – love being “first user”!  After that, I got my kit and went to the transition area.  I thought transition location was supposed to be based on bib number, but when I checked in, they said people could set up wherever.  I decided to grab an end-of-row space in the middle of the area – thinking about having to run out and in wearing my bike shoes (read: less opportunity to slip.)  I set my stuff up pretty quickly, remembering to keep things minimal and also place some visuals to make sure I could easily locate my space: orange backpack and purple towel where I could see them coming in.  I didn’t want to have to count racks coming into transition.

After setting up, I went for a warm-up run up the course and then back into the event area scoping out the entry to transition from the road, the exit from transition, the start area, and the finish line.  I was basically killing time and trying to calm my nerves – most of the people setting up for the international distance looked pretty serious…at least in the eyes of this newbie.  When I got back to the transition area, I hit the porta-potty again, did my final set-up with fuel, and then chatted with a few people in the transition area.  I must have looked OCDish as I was repeatedly checking my transition set-up, on-board fuel placement, and kit so much – nervous energy!

I headed to the start area at about 0650 and hung out.  The international distance started first, with the first of four waves starting at 0700 and my wave (#4) starting at 0712.  The Sprint distance didn’t start until 0930, so most of those people were not even at the event at that point.  I watched the first three waves head out then lined up with my fellow “males 40 and over” competitors – a total of 48 of us.  As we all lined up, I looked at people’s placement and there were definitely three “sub-waves” in the final wave…I lined up in between the first and second ones, knowing that I planned to try for a Run 1 pace right around 8:00 or just slightly below.

Run 1


Lookin’ serious on loop 2 of R1

My plan was to go easy on the first run, keeping the pace at or just under 8:00/mile.  My pacing during the two dry-runs was faster, but I didn’t want to have an awesome Run 1 and sucky rest of the race.  “At or just under 8:00”…yeah right.  I went out like I was running a 10K only and when the first mile split buzzed on my Garmin, I saw 7:33…I thought, “dial it back, Dennis.”  I tried to slow and ended up with a 7:44 for the second mile.  The final mile of the 3.1-mile loop is a downhill, so I naturally sped up to a 7:23 pace.  For the second loop, I again tried to dial it in as best I could, but ended up with miles one and three being faster than the same segments on the first loop.  Coming into T1, I said to myself, “Hopefully I this wasn’t the best part of my race”…having seen the Garmin buzz mile 6 as a 7:16 pace!

One funny thing and one total goof happened on Run 1.

  • Akk!


    Funny: At about mile one, I noticed that my race number belt was positioned such that when I wanted to get to my GU packets and salt tabs from my jersey, it would be tough.  I decided to adjust on the run and ended up popping off one of the little tabs that secure the number to the belt.  I saw it fly off and spin around on the ground and instinctively kept running for about a few yards then decided that it would be disastrous to let the bib flap about during the rest of the race (~33 miles.)  I did a quick loop, grabbed the tab, and then picked the pace back up – securing the bib back on the belt!  I ended up twisting the belt when I put it back on, but the bib was at least secure.

  • Total Goof: Actually this was a dumb error.  One that, as a runner who knows his abilities and needs, should have never happened.  Truth is, I am a sweaty runner and have learned that I need electrolytes to avoid cramping in my calves on longer runs or training sessions.  Knowing this, I brought my 12 oz. handheld filled with GU Brew for run 1.  Before the race, looking around at my fellow runners, I noticed that most were not carrying any hydration – I assumed that they would be relying on the two aid stations that were on the run course for necessary hydration.  I caved to peer pressure (place on my by myself!) and left the handheld where it sat in the picture above…and paid for it on the bike.  Stupid, dumb, rookie error on my part.


“helmet, shoes, shoes, GO!” is what I kept repeating in my head over the final .2 miles of the 10K.  I wanted to make sure things went well in the first of two transitions – the aspect that I was unsure and nervous about for the race.  Things went pretty good on T1.  The only thing that tripped me up was getting my left bike shoe on and then mounting and clipping in at the mount line.  Ahead of the race, I pictured myself slipping while running in my bike shoes out of transition and purposely took the run out a bit slower to eliminate that possibility.  T1 = all good!



“OK, which loop is this?”

After getting clipped in my pedals (FINALLY!), I headed out for the bike.  The result of that total goof/dumb error above manifested itself within the first two miles: a cramp in my left calf.  It would nag me for about 15 miles until it finally worked out for the most part.  Cramp or not, I kept going;’ easing up when it started to pull too much, but still tying to stick with my pacing plan of about 17 mph.  I popped two salt tabs and drank most of my 20 ozs of GU Brew electrolyte drink during that time.  I did leave about 2 oz. for the final mile to hydrate up before T2.  I am not a strong cyclist, so I did not expect too much from the bike portion.  My training rides on much hillier terrain average about 17 mph, so I was at least hopping for something along that pace or better.  I ended up with an overall pace of 17.5 mph and believe I could have been faster had I not been nursing the calf cramp for 3/5’s of the bike.

As expected, the little .25-mile “roller” at the backside of each loop was the slowest portion of my bike – probably for most as well.  Still, I did pretty well on it, even with doing three iterations with my calf cramp.

All-in-all, the bike went well.  I gritted out a decent pace in spite of the calf cramp and ended up with a faster 40K than both dry-runs sessions.


Just as I did for T1, over the final .5 mile of the bike, I kept repeating my transition in my head: “Rack-It, helmet, beanie, shoes, shoes, grab visor, GO!”  Things went very smooth – no trips running in with the bike shoes.  My shoes straps didn’t give me too much trouble taking them off – my shoes have two Velcro and one clicker-type strap that can be a pain to get out of in a hurry.  T2 = excellent!

Run 2


Smilin’ in the home stretch!

Over the last mile of the bike, I weighed taking the handheld on run 2 or leaving it – knowing that it was still sitting on my towel in transition.  Since I had worked out the calf cramp and the final run was a single loop with two aid stations, I decided to leave the handheld.  I also decided to stick with my original pacing plan to maintain as close to a 7:30 pace as possible; but, decided that I would slow up or walk if the calf cramped again.  I felt good about that plan and went with it!

It’s weird, coming off the bike in my training, I am always faster…I may feel totally slow…but I consistently end up with a faster pace than on run 1.  I wasn’t sure this would hold true with the cramping I had on the bike, but I went for it out of T2.  I felt good on mile one, ending up with a 7:14 pace; however, I really felt tired on mile two.  It was around 60 degrees by then and that could have contributed to that feeling as well…it’s been a while since I’d run in temps that warm.  I ended up speed walking through aid station one, again at a point when the course narrowed through a dead end fence that separated two roads, and then again at aid station two.  I ended up with an 8:20 pace for mile two – still not bad in the scheme of things.  I probably should have flipped the mile one and two paces coming out of T2.  Mile three on the loop was flat/slight downhill and, since I was felling good again, I decided to go for it.  I went from an 11:00 min pace at mile 1.9 to an average pace of 7:20 for mile three and a final kick pace of 6:49 to the finish.

I crossed the finish line (smiling!) , turned in my timing chip, accepted my medal, took the ice-cold bottle of water and chamois that they were handing out, and kept walking to cool down.

First Duathlon complete: BOOYAH!

Overall, I am very, very happy with my whole race – each segment and transition.  The goof/dumb error was the only aspect that I would change, of course.  I believe the pacing on run 2 would have been different if I had not cramped on the bike.  Running in my bike shoes proved to be a non-issue and the transitions went very good for my first multisport.

Oh, back to my goal for the day.  My overall time goal was 2:40, based on times of 2:45 and 2:46 during my two dry-runs.  I beat that by 1:49 and expect my time would have been even better had I hydrated properly and not cramped on the bike (at least that is what I’m telling myself.)

Fueling. Pre-race, carb loading: I modified my normal routine, increasing my calorie intake by an additional 200 each day: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +700 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: I ran out of bagels, so I ate two slices of Sheepherders bread with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours, a GU at -45 min, a GU & salt tab at -15 minutes, and GUs(2) and additional salt tabs (3) along the way.  I drank 20 oz. electrolytes during the bike portion and took some water/electrolyte from the aid stations during the run segments.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Adidas running beanie (R1/bike)/Headsweats visor (R2), cheapo aviator sunglasses (SWAG from Picky Bars!), Pactimo Ascent bike jersey, Road Runner Sports arm warmers, Picky Bars #TeamGreen wrist band (more SWAG from Picky Bars!), Road ID (Slim), TYR Ironman Tri Shorts, FuelBelt Gel-Ready Race Number belt, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra 3-Sum shoes (R1/R2), Shimano SH-RO87 Road Shoes, 2012 Felt Z85 road bike.

It felt weird but, for the first time in a race, I did not wear my iPhone (in my Armpocket armband) during the race.  I read that carrying cell phones is against the rules in triathlon and I DID NOT want to be penalized…or look like a total newbie.  Because of that, I took a grand total of two pictures at the event – I didn’t even take the traditional start/finish line photos.  I was bummed after, but there will be other races.  Here are some photos – some I took, some I bought from the event photographer:


  • Bottom line: I did my first multisport!!!
  • Post-race meal: Did a quick clean up post race and drove to meet my wife and mother-in-law for lunch.  Treated myself to a big BBQ cheeseburger & fries!
  • More Multisport events?  So, I will admit it – I am hooked.  I confess, I spent a portion of my lunch on Monday looking at triathlons in the local area (gulp).  That said, I don’t know that I will do any other multisports in 2014 – at least as it stands right now.  I have some other running goals that I’ve set (blog post to follow) and don’t think I can work in the proper training for a duathlon – and certainly not for a triathlon.  I may re-evaluate in a few months (hehe); but I can definitely see adding multisport races to the mix in 2015 – both duathlon and (gulp) triathlon.


Race photos taken by Captivating Sports Photos