Archives For Running

The Marathon [great read]

November 11, 2014 — 1 Comment

great article by Dean Karnazes…

The Marathon isn’t about running; it’s about salvation. We spend so much of our lives doubting ourselves, thinking that we’re not good enough, not strong enough, not made of the right stuff. The Marathon is an opportunity for redemption. Opportunity, because the outcome is uncertain. Opportunity, because it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen.

There is no luck involved in finishing the Marathon. The ingredients required to tackle this formidable challenge are straightforward:

read the rest at: The Marathon — Medium.

Three Years

September 12, 2014 — 2 Comments

Three years ago today, I went for my first run.

I’d lost about 100 pounds at the time (all without exercising…counting calories worked very well for me) and, according to my doctor, needed to get active if I wanted to keep it off…this time. “Find something you will enjoy,” she said.

Being basically lazy (ok, i am generally lazy) and not having a desire to do the gym thing, I didn’t know what to select that would last.

On my commute one day, I saw a 2011 Silicon Valley Turkey Trot billboard and thought, “Hmmmm, maybe I’ll run.”  [wow, that sounds almost Forest Gump-ish…]

So, I downloaded the Couch -to-5K app, bought some running shoes, and started.

Day One Workout:

  • 1.53 miles, “jogging/walking” at a 14:52 min/mile pace – for a total of 25 minutes.

I don’t recall how I specifically felt after that workout; but, as a life-long (at least that far) couch potato, I bet I was winded, tired, and probably wondering simultaneously: “what am I getting myself into?”, “how long will this last?”, and “Hey, I might be able to do this!”

So, I kept going.

I finished or “graduated” from the C25K program and I ran my first 5K

…and have NOT looked back, checking the 5K, 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and 50K boxes off progressively over the past three years – with a total of 5,347 miles logged along the way.

Fast forward to today’s training run:

  • 10 miler at an 8:35 min/mile pace, for a total time of 1:27:35.


Three years ago today, I went for my first run.

Dr. Chang, I think I found something I like…


Six-Word Race Report*:

No PR, but best 50K yet!

Event/Race Details:

On August 23rd, I ran the Headlands 50K, which is put on by the Tamlpa Runners club.  This event only has the single distance, so it draws fewer participants than some of the other runs in the area.  It does have a limit on the number of runners and did have a wait list when I checked the website the week before the race, so it is a popular one.

Weather. My Garmin showed 59 degrees at the start and there was a nice cloud cover.  That was pretty much the weather for most of my run, though it did seem to warm up after mile 20 and the cloud cover burned off for good by mile 26.

My cheat sheet that I had on my iPhone...

My cheat sheet that I had on my iPhone…just in case.

Course. Beautiful and challenging!  The Headlands 50K course is a tour of most of the notable trails in the Marin Headlands: Coastal, Miwok, Matt Davis, Dipsea, Steep Ravine, Coast View, and the Heather Cutoff.  The combination single-track/fire road course takes runners through hills, valleys, ridges that have awesome views of the Pacific as well as redwood rainforest-type conditions – all with ~7,300′ total elevation change (though my GPS said 6,476′.)  Again, it is an amazingly scenic course – I can only imagine how much more beautiful it would be without California being in a drought.

Management/Support. SUPERIOR!  I recently read a blog post that mentioned the significant differences between course management/aid stations at ultramarathons and bug-name events/races.  This event was a prime example of how excellent things can be done with course management and aid stations.  The event itself was extremely organized and managed well.  Course markings and marshaling was spot on and aid station volunteers were up there with the best I have experienced in all races/runs I have participated in.  There have been great volunteers at races – I have shared that in my past race reports – but this event somehow seemed a little bit above the others.  The aid station fare was the standard for an ultra, but the aid station volunteers were proactive in making sure each runner was attended to and supported.  WOW and THANK YOU!

Finishers. In reviewing the results, there were 188 finishers – 136 men and 52 women.

Post-Race. In addition to a great spread of typical, post-race fare (fruit, cookies, water, soda, beer, etc.), all finishers enjoyed fresh, handmade pizza from Firetrail Pizza that was baked on site in their custom, wood-fired oven.  It was excellent!  I normally don’t partake of the post-race food, but it was hard to pass this up!  I even chased my four pieces with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale – hey, I’d just run 31 miles…i deserved it!

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal and bag of SWAG.  The medal was nice and the SWAG, which came in a branded, reusable bag, was pretty good as well.  My favorite item was the event-logo’d, Barking Frogs headgear – as I am a Buff addict/collector.  I’ll definitely be sporting this at upcoming races.  As for the event shirt, the WESR (Wife’s Event Shirt Rating) is a 2.5/5.  The color was basic (white) and the small logo on the front and sponsor’s names were nice and minimal.  It was a Brooks shirt, but just “average” in the shirt department.

My Race




This was my third 50K and, based on my review of the course profile, was going to be the most challenging one yet.  Mainly because of the elevation change listed on the website: ~7,300…which was ~2,700 more than my previous, challenging 50K.  Still, based on a review of the previous results and photos (which I will call INTEL gathering,) I knew that it was doable.  Oh, and I’d been training appropriately too…

With that, the goals for the day were:

  • Finish time: 7 hours.  Given the elevation profile, I did not expect a PR, so I adjusted accordingly.
  • Be intentional about fueling with Tailwind.
  • Push myself a little more than usual
  • Have fun – which is always a given!

I got to the venue early, hung out in the car for a bit, then cruised to the outhouse and took care of business (love being the first user!)  After checking in, I wandered about, went back to the car and put my kit on, then found a seat in the start area and chatted with a few runners.

We started exactly at 0730 (gun start timing make that necessary) and I placed myself in the top half of the group.  My intent was to get a decent position for the first section’s single track so I didn’t get too bogged down in the pack.  I kept a slower pace all the same, knowing that I would pay for a “fast start” later in the day if I didn’t.

I don’t really have a mile-by-mile recollection of the race – I just put it in gear when the RD said “RUN!” and kept the forward motion going.  I fast-walked/ran the hills and ran the flats and downhills, keeping an eye on the pace, but really going by feel and effort.  Again, keeping forward motion at all times.

I pretty much zoned out and just went forward on most sections, though I did chat with a few people along the way.  I paced/traded positions for most of the race with another guy wearing Altras, talking shoes periodically along the way – probably keeping our minds off the course as well.

As I wrote above, the course was beautiful.  I had never been to the Marin Headlands before (shame on me as a native to the Bay Area!), but it lived up to all the posts I’d read about: scenic views, challenging hills, awesome single track, etc.  I did shoot some pictures and probably would have shot more if this had been a training run – it’s that picturesque.

For me, the most memorable and enjoyable section of the day was the descent down the Matt Davis Trail to the Stinson Beach aid.  Don’t get me wrong, the other sections of the course were picturesque, but this was flat out FUN!  This section was a challenging, yet runnable, downhill switchback, with roots, stairs, muddy conditions thrown in to make it interesting.  Coming into it, I was running with two other people and paced with them most of the way.  I passed the other guy in the group and ended up trailing/pacing a woman who was absolutely hammering the thing.  I put it in gear and hammered it too – at least until I stutter-stepped and almost took a spill.  I slowed for a few seconds, probably yelled “WHOA!” in my head, did a quick “systems” check, and resumed hammering the downhill.  Reckless abandon!  That said, the woman I was trailing was looong gone.  It’s funny, as I reviewed the data from the run, I actually wasn’t going as fast as it felt I was; but the combo of the downhill, the short switchbacks, and technical/wet trail made it seem like it.  I felt like a pro!

The toughest parts of the day weren’t the Dipsea or Steep Ravine sections – which I thought would be in reviewing the course.  They weren’t a cakewalk, but the toughest section was the final two miles, and especially the last mile, which was the Heather Cutoff switchbacks.  Even though it was downhill, my legs were tiring and the final switchback section just seemed to slog on and on and on and on.  The thing that kept me going was a runner that was a couple of switchbacks behind me.  I could hear their footfalls and kept telling myself, “they are NOT going to pass me” repeatedly.  And they didn’t.

I crossed the finish line, got my medal, and walked to the car to drop my vest and clean up a bit.  I walked around a little more to unwind and then headed back to the finish area to enjoy some food, sit for a while, and talk with some fellow runners.

As for my goals:

  • Finish time: 7 hours.  I met this one, finishing in 6:33:39!  I missed a PR by 1:47, but with this being a tougher course, I was completely satisfied with my results and the effort.
  • Be intentional about fueling with Tailwind.  I met this one.  I think I have said before, I really love Tailwind Nutrition and it is working very well for me.  That said, I had not been intentional about using as a source of fuel.  In reviewing my use of it during races, I determined that I had been treating it as a drink only, sipping when I was thirsty instead of consuming as my single-source of fuel/nutrition.  Going into to this race, I planned my consumption based on the aid station spacing and necessary caloric intake.  I forced my self to stick with the plan, even polishing off the bottle a few times just ahead of the aid station, and things went great!  My energy/endurance level was consistent and I felt great over the course of the race.  Again, my legs were tiring at the end, but I don’t attribute that to my fueling – it was a 50K!  I think I have settled on a good Tailwind/water ratio as well: 1.75 scoops to 16OZ of water.  I used the Tailwind syrup thing that I tried on the Big Basin 50K again and it really worked well.  This time, as I came into an aid station, I asked a volunteer to open my pack, hand me the TW syrup bottle, squirted a portion into my flask, asked them to replace the bottle in my pack, then had them top the bottle off with water.  This worked fantastic and I don’t think I stayed at any given aid station any longer than two to three minutes…thanks to the excellent volunteers!
  • Push myself a little more than usual.  I met this one.  I mentioned above that I just kept moving forward through the race.  I really didn’t stop or slow for any extended period of time (including the aid stations), which I have done in the past.  I just pushed myself onward, keeping the effort going at a consistent pace/rate/effort.
  • Have fun! I met this one. As you can probably tell, this was a great race all around for me.  It wasn’t a PR, but all in all, it was pretty dang fun and why I enjoy trail running so much.

Some photos from the day:

Fueling. I did my usual, pre 50K-race, carb loading/regimen: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1100 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank about 128 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix and about 24 ounces of water.  I also grazed at two aid stations, eating some watermelon and bananas – and a couple of pretzel twists…which were so dry, that I choked on ’em and spit them out.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff visor, tech shirt from the 2012 San Jose Giants Race, Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest (with 2 Hydrapak soft flasks,) Ultimate Direction 10oz bottle (for Tailwind syrup solution,) SPOT 3 GPS Tracker, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Mio Link heart rate band, ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Injinji Run 2.0 socks, Altra Olympus shoes.


  • Bottom line: Fantastic day!  Third 50K in the books.  Not a PR, but my most satisfying 50K yet.  I’m running three more 50Ks this year in the Headlands, so this was also a great opportunity to scout some of the trails that will be part of those runs.
  • Post-race meal: Pizza and a beer at the race, followed by a pile of spaghetti after I got home and showered.  Oh, and I chased it all later that evening with a big bowl of ice cream and chocolate sauce!


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*Six-word race report is something I read about in a blog post (that I can’t find now); but, according to a Goggle search, finds its origins in two things: a 2008 blog post I stumbled on, which based the challenge on the book “Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure”, by Rachel Fershleiser, published in 2006.  Moving forward, I plan to include this in my reports as a challenge to succinctly synthesize my report…for those who are not interested in reading the oft-painful details!

Sunrise, v09072014

September 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

From this morning’s sixteen mile, out and back, blissful run





On July 27th, I ran The San Francisco Marathon. Yep, another late run report post – bad blogger!

Anyway, on to the details…

Event/Race Details:

The San Francisco Marathon event is THE marathon in SF.  OK, there are others, but this one is the official one!  The SFM boasts runs through most of the sections of the City and is the only event where you actually get to run on the surface of the Golden Gate Bridge – all other runs/races and walks are run on the pedestrian walkway.  It draws all levels of runners, which makes it a fantastic event.  The SFM is actually made up of five distances: the marque marathon, the “First Half” 13.1 distance (which, according to this year’s finisher count, was the most popular distance), the “Second Half” 13.1 distance, a 5K, and the “Worth the Hurt, 52.4” double (which starts at 12AM and has entrants run the marathon course in the reverse direction (replacing the Golden Gate with an out and back on the Great Highway), only to have the finishers join the regular marathon when it starts.)

Weather. The weather was on the warmer side for San Francisco, 63 degrees at the start and I’m positive that it warmed up to at least the mid 70s over the course of the day.  It was overcast at the start and bright and sunny when I finished.  No real wind on the Golden Gate, which was nice.  Heading up to the Golden Gate, it sprinkled a bit, but that was shortlived and mainly because of the fog and low clouds blowing through.  All in all, an excellent weather day for running.

courseCourse. The challenging, but doable marathon is a loop course that starts and finishes on the Embarcadero near the Ferry Building, then running through Fisherman’s Wharf, the Marina, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the Presidio, then into Golden Gate Park (which is the first half.)  After meandering through Golden Gate Park, runners head to the urban portion of the course: down the Haight Street, through the Mission, Potrero, and Mission Bay Districts. Passing behind AT&T Park is the sign that runners are almost done.  Merging back on the Embarcadero, runners cross under the Bay Bridge and give their final kick to the Finish Line (which is the second half.)

Management/Support. Course management and support was great, by my observation.  I carried my handheld, so I only made use of the aid stations at miles 10 and 18 to refill and restock my Tailwind Nutrition mix.  I’ve heard that there were issues with water shortages at a few of the aid stations later in the race.  As for course marshaling and management, this was excellent!  Volunteers were abundant and the SFPD and Biker crews made sure all runners were safe and supported.  Another benefit this year was free race photos – such a cool thing…thanks SFM!

Finishers. Again, SFM is a group of events.  By my review of the results, the finisher counts were:

  • Full marathon: 6,625
  • First Half: 7,256
  • Second Half: 4,502
  • 5K: 1,630
  • 52.5: 42
  • Grand total: 20,055 motivated runners!

Post-Race. The post race area was average for any event – good flow for the finish and the usual food and SWAG booths.  Because the shut down the Embarcadero, there are plenty of places to hang out and recover, which is always great.

Medal/Shirt. Each marathon finisher received a coaster medal, which is specific to the 26.2 (the other distances are unique to that particular distance…and smaller.)  As for the event shirt, the WESR (Wife’s Event Shirt Rating) is a 3.5/5.  The color was basic, but the logo on the back was great this year, so it raised the rating.  I didn’t like the official race apparel that they offered this year.  IMHO, it was boring.  The shirts were all basic colors and only text this year – I miss the cool shirts over the past few years: course map t-shirt from 2012, orange sunburst t-shirt from 2013.  Needless to say, I left without any t-shirt souvenir.  😦  Bring back the cool shirts SFM!!!

My Race




This was my fifth marathon and I had PR hopes coming out of my training.

BUT, exactly one week out from the SFM, on my final, pre-race, long run, I jammed my foot on a speed bump.  Of course.  I didn’t have a bruise or any swelling; however, it was pretty sore on the bottom outside of my left foot – enough to cause a noticeable limp when walking that Sunday (no hiding it from my wife.)  I didn’t go to the doctor, but did R.I.C.E it throughout each day until the SFM.  I did a few short & easy check-out runs and rode my bike to stay loose that week.  By the end of the week, I was feeling better and decided to stick with my original pacing strategy and goals, but also be flexible enough to adjust mid-race and forgo my goals to ensure I’d heal properly and be able to run the other runs I have scheduled for the remainder of 2014 (4 50Ks, 1 marathon, 1 half marathon, and a 10K.)

Bottom line: I certainly WAS NOT going to NOT run.  Mainly out of stubbornness and also because this year was the final leg in my 52 Club challenge and I wanted to earn that sweatshirt.

With that, the goals for the day were:

  • Set a new marathon PR – my specific goal was 3:55
  • Follow my pacing plan – which factored in all hills and aid station stops.
  • Have fun – which is a given!

In the end, I accomplished only one of the three: I had fun.  The details about the other two are below…

Amidst the throngs of people, I was able to meet up with a friend at the start and run with her.  This was Ruth Ann’s first SFM, so it was great to be able to run with her – especially since she was shooting for a sub-four finish.  In the end, she made her sub-four…huge congrats to her!

My story didn’t play out as I had hoped/planned, though I still gritted out a time of 4:07:43 – which, after the initial, post-finish bummer attitude passed, I decided was a respectable finish time (even though it was my slowed 26.2 to date.)

If I said that my foot was pain free at the start, I’d be lying.  It was “there”, but not enough to abandon my goals. So, at the horn I went for it!

I’m won’t recount each mile (you’re welcome), but I stayed pretty close to my mile-by-mile pacing plan through mile 15.  In fact, my 13.1 split was actually just 18 seconds slower than my planned pace.  My foot issue was noticeable, but not painful; however, as the first-half miles went on, it started to increasingly bug me.  Ruth Ann knew about my foot, but I didn’t tell her it was starting to bug me as the first half went on.  After we hit the mile 15 marker, I told her that that my foot was bugging me, I needed to pull over, and for her to keep on going.  I was bummed, because I wanted to pace with her and be there when she finished sub-four, but it wasn’t meant to be…  😦

After we separated, I transitioned to a run/walk/run pattern and still kept up a decent pace; however, I eventually realized that there was no way I could recover the pace or earn a PR.  I considered just “sucking it up”, “embracing the suck”, and “running through the pain”, but didn’t’ want to aggravate my foot, given that I would be running a challenging 50K four weeks later.  It’s funny, I actually thought I saw Ruth Ann ahead and increased my pace for a bit to catch up with her, only to discover that it was someone else wearing a similar singlet! WHA WAH WAH WAHHHH

It’s funny, once I accepted that a PR wasn’t happening and the race was about finishing with a respectable time, I was actually quite content.  I won’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed that I missed the PR, didn’t get to finish with Ruth Ann, or even grit out a sub-four.  It smarted.  But at the end of the day, it was about finishing, keeping the foot as healthy as possible, and positioning myself/it for recovery and running of the Headlands 50K (plus the other races through the end of the year.)

So, I crossed the line with a 4:07:43 finish time – again, my slowest to date – but knowing that I earned my 52 Club sweatshirt, still with a decent time, and positioned to heal and run well another day.

Some photos from the day:

Fueling. I did my usual, pre-race, carb loading/regimen: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1000 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank about 45 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff, tech shirt from the 2012 Big Sur Half Marathon (I seem to wear this for races alot!), Armpocket armband, Amphipod handheld, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Mio Link heart rate band, Brooks Essential 3.5″ Split Short, CEP Compression Sleeves, Injinji Run 2.0 socks, Altra The One(2) shoes.


  • Bottom line: Good day by any standard, even though I didn’t make my 3:55 goal.  Earned my 52 Club status!
  • Post-race meal: Red Lobster 4-Course Feast – soup, salad, talapia, and a triple-Chocolate Brownie à la Mode!


August 10 Trail Run

August 13, 2014 — 2 Comments

Some video from my August 10, 2014 trail run.  The 20-miler went from my house, through Alum Rock Park, into the Sierra Vista Open Space Preserve, up to the turn-around at Vista Point,…and then back home.

Since it was dark when I left and foggy/cloudy most of the way up to Vista Point, all shots in the video are from my run back down…

This was my first time trying a P.O.V. pole.  Yeah, I know, I need to work on my stability skills…


Make sure you watch in 1080p HD…

Video created using GoPro Studio and one of their templates

Love that I’m blessed to live where I can step out our garage, head east, and in about six to eight miles enjoy views like these.

Even with the drought-induced brown hills, it’s still beautiful.




Big Basin 50K Report

July 31, 2014 — 2 Comments


Back on June 15th, I ran Coastal Trail Runs’ Big Basin 50K.  Yeah, this report is a late – I just haven’t been motivated to blog lately…plus, I wanted to get this posted before my SF Marathon report…which will be out sometime next week!  really.

Event/Race Details:

The Big Basin Marathon/50K is actually the second day of a two-day series of trail runs put on by Coastal Trail Runs.  The day before the marathon and 50K, Coastal holds the Berry Creek Falls Trial Run, which is a three-distance event (10K, 15K, and 25K) held in Big Basin.  The marathon and 50K event travels the popular Skyline to the Sea Trail  that runs from the crest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, through Big Basin, and ends near the Pacific Ocean at Waddell Beach.  I had never hiked Skyline to the Sea, only visiting Big Basin proper, so running through the tall redwoods and high chaparral was an awesome treat.

Since this is a point-to-point run, they bus runners from a parking lot near the finish line to the start area.  That made for a later than normal start (0900) to account for travel time to the start.  I prefer starting at or before 0800; but, oh well.  The ride to the start was a nice way to take some of the edge and nerves off by talking with fellow runners for the ride to Saratoga Gap.

Weather. The weather was on the warm side, 68 degrees at the start and I’m positive that it warmed up to at least the low 80s over the course of the day.  It was foggy at the coast-side parking lot where we all parked though…meaning no picturesque views of the Pacific!

courseCourse. The course was along the Skyline to the Sea Trail, starting at Saratoga Gap.  Start to finish, the course/trail is a marathon.  To make it 50K, they add a loop, which takes runners up to some rocky sections that are not as shaded with sequoias.  On a hot day, that made for a long run.  It is a beautiful course none the less – rich, green vegetation, amongst towering sequoia trees.  It’s a net downhill, though that doesn’t mean easy!  In fact, I was chatting with a guy before we boarded the buses from the finish area parking and he commented how many people saw the “net downhill” and selected this as their first 50K – only to be outsmarted and often miss the cutoff.  I finished the extra loop at the cutoff and there were quite a few who were being told to go straight (and opt for the marathon distance) vs. taking a right turn to complete the 50K.  There were others who were simply dropping – mostly because of the heat that day.

Management/Support. As with all Coastal events, they have awesome course management, marking, and support.  Each aid station is well stocked and staffed by awesome volunteers.  Management and support is a HUGE reason why they attract so many people to their events.  We are spoiled in the SF Bay Area – we have at least five high quality race directors…if I wanted to (and physically and mentally could), I could run an event almost every weekend year round – LOVE IT!

Finishers. Again, there were actually two distances for the event: a marathon and the 50K.  I do know there were some drops at the Gazos Creek aid station when I came through the second time (you hit it at 25.5km and 32.7km), but there ended up being 112 marathon and 127 50K finishers.  I’d say a pretty decent showing by all!

Post-Race. The post race area was fantastic – great food and in a large area just perfect to chill and recover.  There were quite a few families there waiting for runners to finish.  They had the usual assortment of finger foods, as well as burgers and hot dogs.  I passed on the meats and stuck with a bunch of watermelon slices – they just hit the spot…plus I had my Picky Bar waiting for me in the car!

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal with the event logo and all 50K finishers also received a event coaster – as is the standard at Coastal events.  As for the event shirt, with this report, I am implementing what I’ll call the “Wife’s Event Shirt Rating” or WESR.  Here’s the deal: most event logos are pretty cool, creative, and unique; but, according to my wife, are often displayed on a black or dull colored shirt (read, “the shirt must “POP!”.)  Thus the WESR.  In practice, I’ll go with a scale of one to five (one being meh, five being “it pops“.  The WESR for the Big Basin event shirt was a 3/5: the logo was great, but the shirt color was so close to the logo color on the mens shirt that it is almost lost in the shirt.

My Race




This was my second 50K (my first was Horseshoe Lake in 2013), so I did set some goals:

  • Set a new PR
  • Aim for a 6:15 finish time
  • Have fun, of course

In the end, I accomplished two of the three: I did PR (by 2:51!) and had a great time (though not without some challenges.)  I didn’t make 6:15 (I too fell for the “net downhill, I got this” mindset that the “veteran Skyline-to-the-Sea/Big Basin” runner mentioned that morning.)  Oh well – live and learn.

Because of the lateness in writing this report, my detailed recollection of the Big Basin 50K is sketchy now…so no mile-by-mile recount of the day (which is probably a good thing anyway.)  Still, here are a few thoughts/experiences from the run:

  • The curse of the last song listened to.  You probably have had this happen to you – you’re driving somewhere, listening to some great music, and get to your destination.  Inevitably, the last song you were listening to sticks in your head and that is all you hum, sing, whistle, hear in your head for hours or, in my case, 31 miles.  For me, it was Coldplay’s Ink.  OK, I don’t’ know the lyrics completely, but the lines “Got a tattoo said ‘together thru life'”, “Got a tattoo and the pain’s alright”, and “All I know, Is that I love you so, So much that it hurts” – along with the main, catchy, underlying riff being repeatedly hummed – kept my entertained.  For. 31. miles.
  • With a pacing goal of an average of ~12:00/mi, I ran the first six miles way too fast.  I don’t know if this factored into missing my time goal, but it probably burned some energy too soon in the overall run…certainly energy that was needed later in the day.  I wasn’t too far off goal, but still, managing pace is something I’m learning.
  • 20140729-143414-52454773.jpgI tried something different for carrying my Tailwind Nutrition fuel on this run.  Carrying multiple bags of powder fuel is fine, but can be a challenge – I’ve done it and it works OK, but it can be bulky and also messy.  On Facebook, I saw where a guy had mixed his Tailwind with a small amount of water and created a syrup that he carried in a 10oz bottle.  He had marked out the portions to squirt in his empty handheld and then topped it off with water.  This seemed like a great idea, so I tested on a few training runs and went with it for Big Basin.  It actually worked pretty well and I will be using this method moving forward for trail runs where I wear my running vest.  One key is remembering to close the valve on the bottle after you dispense the syrup – which I forgot to do at the last aid station.  I had unused Tailwind syrup in the back pocket of my running vest – which I did not realize until I got home and discovered it also all over the trunk area of my car.  DOOH!
  • Gazos_aidI think I mentioned above that it was HOT that day – from a northern California, SF Bay Area standpoint.  At the mile 20 aid station, I can honestly say that I came the closest to “bonking” as I ever have.  It’s weird, but after 20+ half marathons, 4 marathons, and a 50K, I have yet to bonk.  Call it luck, call it proper nutrition and race economy planning – I have avoided the dreaded “bonk.”  When I got to the mile 20 aid, I was pretty tired and hot.  OK, exhausted was a better description – just look at the comparison of my first pass through the Gazos Aid (red) vs. my second (blue)!  I pretty much hydrated, wandered around, put ice in my Buff, talked with a few people, ate some pretzels, and basically assessed how I was doing.  There wasn’t really any place to sit, since most of the “sitable” spots were taken by others in a similar or worse condition (there were a number of people who were dropping that really needed to sit.)  Actually, I didn’t want to sit, since I knew that if I did, I would stay longer and may not want to get up!  Eventually, I felt better (hydrated, somewhat rested, and cooler,) grabbed a PB&J quarter, and plodded onward.  I felt better about two miles later…
  • This run solidified my love of a number of products:
    • Buff Headwear: I have a growing collection of Buffs – Original, Half-Buff, UV Buffs, Visor Buff, and Polar Reversible Buff.  I think I am up to about eight in my drawer now.  For Big Basin, I wore the Visor Buff – knowing that it would be sunny and hot.  Over the course of the run, I wore the visor in four different modes: cap (with visor flipped up and down), headband, saharine, & neckerchief.  At the tough mile 20 aid station, I even tucked a handful of ice cubes in the saharine to stay cool as I left (it felt soooo good.)  This is such a versatile product – I actually have not worn a running hat in months…
    • Tailwind Nutrition: Similar to not wearing a cap in months, I also have not eaten a gel or chew for run fuel since April.  I’ve converted to using Tailwind exclusively and have used it on a marathon, a 12K, this 50K and all runs longer than 10 miles – with no GI issues, no hunger on long runs, no cramping, and no major bonking, etc.  I have settled on the Mandarin Orange flavor and a mix of 1.5 to 1.75 scoops per handheld seems to be the right mix for me.  Bottom line: this stuff works – I actually have given away the gels and chews I had on the shelf!
    • Altra Shoes: I’ve pretty much switched to Altra shoes now – road and trail.  I have a few other brands in my closet, but have not worn them a a while…  I was planning on wearing my Altra Lone Peak 1.0s for Big Basin, but found that after about 15-20 miles, my feet started hurting near the big toe area.  I picked up a pair of Altra Olympus about a week before Big Basin, thought I’d give them a test to see if they would be OK to wear for the 50K.  I put about 20 miles on them and was sold…and, against the “no new equipment” rule, wore them without any run over 10 miles.  Having worn maximalist shoes before (Hoka Stinson EVO Trail) and already adjusted to Altra’s zero drop made the choice low risk.  The shoes rocked!  My feet felt great at the end and I really didn’t notice any real “grip” issue, which some have said was a difference between the Olympus and the Lone Peaks.  Great shoe!

Some photos from the day:

Fueling. I did my usual, pre-race, carb loading/regimen: 36 hours of >80% carbs and +1000 calories above my normal day. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank about 108 ounces of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix, plus a few chips, PBJ quarters, and some Coke at various aid stations.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff Visor, tech shirt from the 2012 Big Sur Half Marathon, Armpocket armband, Ultimate Direction Scott Jurek Ultra Vest (with 2 Hydrapak soft flasks,) Ultimate Direction 10oz bottle (for Tailwind solution,) SPOT 3 GPS Tracker, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra Olympus shoes.


  • Bottom line: Second ultra completed, new PR, ready for the next one – which will be the toughest one I’ve done so far!
  • Post-race meal: I got home late afternoon because of traffic on highway 17, so we went to Denny’s for dinner and I devoured a bacon cheeseburger and fries!


This is totally late.  Forgot it was sitting in my drafts queue…


New Equipment & Such:

  • HydraPak Reversible Elite Reservoir.  In February, I picked up a Ultimate Direction SJ Ultra Vest 2.0 and really like it.  In March, after trying several bottle options on the vest, I picked up and really liked HydraPak’s SoftFlask, as it solved the “sloshing” effect encountered with standard bottles and was certainly more comfortable when used in the vest since they conform to my body.  This month, I picked up a 2L Reservoir to enable myself to run unsupported for upwards of 6 hours or more (depending upon the climate.)  I wore the reservoir quite a bit on my weekly runs before carrying it on a longer, trail run…just to make sure about fit and ease into carrying the weight on my back.  Overall, I really like it and carried it on my 4-hour long run with no issues.  I didn’t really notice any adverse affect on my posture or any soreness after my run – probably because I had carried it enough to prepare myself/body.  One thing I did notice was that the fluid heats up based on body temp.  When carrying plain water, it can result in a pretty bad taste.  When carrying water with Tailwind, the taste was actually great.  I probably won’t use/carry this on all runs, but will work it in occasionally to make sure I am still OK with the added weight on the vest and my back.

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:

  • 5/18: Bay to Breakers [report]




Back on May 18th, I ran the 103rd Bay to Breakers; or, as aptly described in the tweet below:

@arasmusKTVU Favorite analogy: #BaytoBreakers is the “mullet” of races. Business (elite runners) in front, party in the back

In my recent Big Sur race report, I wrote how that race was an “experience” and not just a race or run.  The same can be said about the Bay to Breakers, though in a slightly twisted way.  It is something to be experienced: the beauty of running through the City over to the coast, the challenge and notoriety of Hayes Street Hill, the smell of eucalyptus through Golden Gate Park, hoping to see the Bison in the Paduct as you run by, and the relief when the Pacific is in sight…all chased with the scenery of wild and crazy people in creative costumes (or nothing at all), various scents along the way (food, urine, marijuana, etc.), blaring music from official and unofficial bands/DJs, and people from the neighborhoods (or those just hanging out along the course) cheering, yelling, high-fiving, twerking, etc.

Yep, Bay to Breakers is a crazy, crazy event and experience.  I will say that it seemed crazier this year – and I was in corral A. I can only imagine what it was like in the other corrals.

All that considered, it was a blast and I will run it again…and again.

Finishers. It’s not obviously stated, but, after a review the results pages, for the overall event, there appears to be 28,253 “official” finishers, for a male/female split of about 45/55.  Of course, there are the hundreds, if not thousands, of bandits – which is typical of B2B.  When I crossed the finish line, there was a couple of guys who were collecting their third medals of the day!

Weather. The weather was perfect for a run: 63 with a light breeze.  Once at the coast, it was pretty windy…but you’re done at that point.

2014_courseCourse. The course is a point-to-point from the Bay side of the City, through various districts, neighborhoods, and Golden Gate Park, to the seaside part of San Francisco.  The course was slightly different at the end from the 2012 route.

Management/Support. As I mentioned above, this year’s race seemed to be a little crazier than the last time I ran it – an observation that has been shared by many.  Still, the management was pretty good.  The biggest fail I noticed was when a group/crowd of several hundred slowly, en mass flowed onto the course at the Moscone Center.  They effectively choked the route down to about 1/4 or less, forcing runners to move to the sidewalk or simply dodge and weave through the mass.  I personally ran into a few people.  It was a pretty bad scene and one that could have resulted in people be trampled or injured.  Not sure if there was even any security or PD on that part of the course, though I’m not sure what they could have done.  Aside from that, things were pretty good.

Post-Race. The finish chute and post race area had a great flow, though I read on a blog or two that later in the race, things got pretty backed up with people.  One thing that I felt was missing were more food vendors and a merchandise tent for B2B stuff. They had a stage for the awards and bands later in the day, but I was gone by the time that started.

Medal/Shirt. Each finisher received a medal and event shirt.  Both were pretty nice – pictured below.  One thing I did notice was that the shirt did not have the event date on it. Hopefully, this doesn’t mean that the design will be recycled next year.

My Race



This was my second Bay to Breakers.  My first was in 2012, when I ran it with my brother.  He’s a bit slower runner than me, so we agreed to stick together.  This year, since it was just me, I planned to make good time; so I seeded myself in corral A when I registered.  It was pretty nice being up front.

As far as goals for the day, I had three:

  • Run Hayes Street Hill without stopping/walking
  • Try and finish under one hour
  • Of course, have fun

In the end, I accomplished two of the three: I ran Hayes Street and I did have fun.  I missed one hour by 2:57…oh well, next time.

In an image, here was my 2014 Bay to Breakers:


I kept this race pretty low key.  I caught the race shuttle in Millbrae, got to the start line (finally, after our driver got lost twice), was user #1 on a portapotty (always awesome!), and then just hung out in the corral until the start.  Unfortunately, the start was delayed by about 30 minutes, due to a “unstable archway” at Hayes Street hill.  People were antsy – I just hung out, threw a few tortillas, people watched, and chatted with those around me.  I really felt bad for the elite runners as they had all warmed up for an 0800 start time and now had to effectively cool down.  Most of the elites finished under 40 minutes, so they still made it home before breakfast!

The race itself was a 12K blast.  Being in corral A meant that I missed the more serious partying, but that was OK with me – I still saw my fair share of wild and crazy costumes and nudies: all part of the experience that is Bay to Breakers.

I will say that this year, there seemed to be more crowds infringing on the course and interfering with runners – at least when the corral A group ran by Moscone Center.  I read one article that seemed to advocate a “pause” of at least two to three years for the event so organizers could “reset” and gain some control.  I don’t think that would solve anything.  They have put more controls in place for the neighborhoods; but there are and will still be people who simply don’t care, ignore the controls put in place, and mess things up for everyone else.  That is the way it is in life…B2B is no different.  In the end, short of them cancelling the event, it will go on and I will continue to run it…always seeding myself in corral A, of course.

Fueling. Since this was a short distance race, I didn’t really do any structured, pre-race, carb loading. Race-day fueling: Bagel with 2T peanut butter at -3 hours. During the race, I drank one serving of Tailwind Nutrition’s Mandarin Orange mix.

Equipment/Kit [head to toe]: Buff cap, tech shirt from the 2012 San Jose Giants run, Armpocket armband, Garmin 910XT, Road ID (Slim), Amphipod handheld, ASCIS 55 Shorts, CEP Compression Sleeves, Road Runner Sports Dryroad socks, Altra The One shoes.

Some photos from the day:


  • Bottom line: Fun event.  Ran Hayes Street Hill.  I will finish in less than one hour next time!
  • Post-race meal: Got home and went to Sweet Tomatoes with the fam.  Not the traditional, post-race, big meal, but this was a shorter distance…