Friday, November 13, 2009


With a week to go before CIM, I broke myself playing with the kids on a trampoline over thanksgiving. As such, the racing year ended with kind of a thud rather than a bang. I haven't quite wrapped my head around my feelings about this: I was entering CIM with a lot of ambivalence, knowing that I wasn't as fit as I could be to do the race. On the other hand, not being able to excercise for a couple weeks has not been the greatest thing for me, as I find myself a little lost without the routine of a long workout on the weekend. I love the extra time, but since endurance training has really become my "hobby" along with a chance to see some friends, I've noticed the void. On top of that, I launched myself into the non-excercise regime and have quickly gained five pounds in two weeks... holidays, eh?

That said, my back is on the mend and my mind is racing with ideas for goals in the coming year. There are a lot of options, and I need to think it through and focus. The short list includes:

1) Spring marathon, fall event (half iron or marathon)
2) Spring triathlon, fall event (half-iron or marathon)
3) two marathongs
4) more short races and more trail runs
5) cycling centuries

So, we'll see.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Soft Hardware: 2nd place at Troy's Trail Runs Quicksilver 20.8 Miler

Choose the right races and you may end up on the podium! Yesterday I had an 18+ mile training run on my schedule, so I decided to jump into the "Troy's Trail Run Quicksilver Challenge" 20.8 mile trail run.

My goal for the day was to spend a long time on my feet (accomplished) and the idea of a supported run through Quicksilver was strangely appealing. It was a last minute decision, so I had no time to research the race or get nervous, I just showed up, paid my $45 and shoved off.

In short, the run was a lot of fun. The course started from the Mockingbird entrance, which I've never run before, and I was stunned to find a 15% grade for the first mile. I took it slow, "ultra-walking" up the path with the knowledge that the course would level out at the top. Once I got past that first hill though it was a really glorious run for about the next 10 miles. As you can see from the map, the organizer strung together nearly 21 miles with very little overlap on the trails. In addition, the run was well supported, with at least 5 stocked aid stations with GU, coke, nuts, and other snacks and sports drinks.

The field stretched out and I had no idea how I was doing relatively, but I was enjoying some scenic running and a great playlist on the iPod, and for a while the miles clicked off. When I pulled into the mile 10 aid station, I was surprised to hear that I was the first 20.8 runner through (the folks in front of me were apparently all running the 8 or 13 mile courses) and with that inspiration I started focusing a bit more. Towards the end of the race the climbs and downhills were starting to hurt, but I had not been passed and from the last aid station home I ran pretty strongly along a flat to mild downhill path.

I finished to a smattering of applause from the race support crew, but alas they told me I was the second finisher, not the first. Ah well, the podium is the podium and I will treasure my red ribbon for a very long time, or until I lose it, whichever comes first.

Overall I covered the 21 miles in ~ 4:37 which is probably 1:40 or so longer than a 20 mile training run would've lasted, so it's clear how the hills impact a runner like me. But hopefully it's good strength training for the rolling downhill course at CIM.

The course itself was great: there was a lot of single-track, some technically challenging running, and enough fire roads to let me run uninhibited for long distances. It's tough to get into a rhythm when trail running, but there is sure a lot more to distract me from thinking about my tired legs all the time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Big Kahuna 1/2 Ironman - Unfinished Business

Let's cut to the chase shall we?

1) I didn't complete a 1/2 ironman yesterday


2) I bonked

DNF you say? Not so quick. I finished the event and I got my medal. I finished slowly, and painfully, but I finished. I just didn't start it.

(cut to 4:30 AM, race day)

Up with the first alarm, didn't need the second. As usual, there was enough chaos in the bedroom to keep me from that perfect pre-race sleep: a restless dog, a sleepwalking child. But I slept well enough. I stumble into the hallway, into the bathroom, and find that the restless dog was restless for a reason. He had peed on the bathroom floor, which he does very rarely (and credit to him for using the bathroom right?). So, race day is off to an inauspicious start, I'm cleaning the bathroom floor while my coffee brews. And sadly for you readers, that isn't the last tale of an improvised bathroom that you'll read about today, but I digress.

I enjoy my banana, bagel with PB&J, and coffee, and soon enough I'm in the car for the drive over to Santa Cruz. Everything goes well at the transition area, I have a decent spot, I set up the gear I think I'll need, I get my body-markings, and I start to pull on the wet-suit. I head to the beach with 45 minutes to spare, and begin the search for friends, no easy task when everyone is in a wet-suit and cap.

Eventually I hook up with a few familiar faces: Monique, Russ, Pat, and we catch up on our recent activities as we wait for the race to start. Monique is regularly reaching the podium in her age group triathlons, Pat became an Ironman this year in Idaho, and Russ is keeping his calendar full with 4AM workouts and races. I share my Death Ride stories and am met with disbelief when I tell them of the 50+ MPH descents: I guess going that fast downhill is hard to imagine on a tri-bike. We continue to wait for the start.

And we wait.

Well, apparently the race officials don't feel safe getting the race underway, what with all the fog and the risk of losing a few swimmers, so after an hour of standing on the beach they officially cancel the swim leg, and the race gets started from the "swim out" area. The triathlon has quickly become a duathlon. I don't think any of us feel relieved at this point, and for me it just means I'm not going to complete a half-ironman. I'll be coming up just a mile short, but not just any mile...

My inner competitor knows this is not ideal, since my friends are faster on the bike and my only hope of beating them is to leave the water first and hold them off. But heck, this is just a race against the clock right? Bragging rights don't matter do they?

So the race starts and we run from the beach to transition and get started on the bike. I have actually been pretty anxious about the bike leg. When I pre-rode the course a month ago, it took me 3 hours 15 minutes, which seemed at least 15 minutes too long, so I was curious how the race day environment would affect the ride. thankfully, it's positive. I ride to the turnaround in a quick time of ~1:24 and am surprised to be so far ahead of my last pace. 20MPH average, nice! Russ and Pat are up the road, as expected, as is Monique who started with an earlier group. I learn later that Russ and Pat finish the bike a full nine minutes in front of me - I start building a mental case for buying a tri-bike next year.

On the return trip I get slower as I progress, and I assume I am losing power from a quick start. It's a little discouraging to get passed by so many in the last 10 miles and I'm blaming my training as I get off the bike, but I do a quick check of my wheel and realize my rear brake has been rubbing. Doh! Hard to say what this cost me, a few minutes a few calories, whatever. It was fine when the ride started and I think I may have knocked my wheel out of alignment with about 15 miles to go.

And now to the run. I get off the bike and feel some cramping immediately, but it seems manageable. I start conservatively and settle into a mid-to-low 8 minutes/mile pace about 4 miles into the run, hoping that I can keep this up and start pushing after mile 7 or 8. Alas, my stomach has other ideas.

I had fueled as much as possible on the bike, and apparently I had over-fueled. There's a lot of "stuff" sloshing around in there, and I am feeling more and more nauseous with every step. I slow and eventually walk to try to let the feeling pass, however it doesn't help. I still feel some hope at mile 7, having passed the half-way point at about 55 minutes, so I decide to skip the porta-potty and gut it out, but with another half mile it becomes clear to me that something's gonna have to give. I look desperately for the next aid station, but with nothing in site it's clear I'll have to improvise - time for what Phil Liggett tastefully terms a "natural break", in some well covered bushes separating the course from the artichoke fields.

I'm less nauseous now, but I'm heading into full bonk territory unable to take in any more nutrition, so the last few miles are a painful death march. It's a very frustrating feeling for me, knowing that I can't test my fitness and resolve at the end of this race, have missed any time goals I set out, and have to suck it up. But I've watched enough of those Ironman Kona recaps to understand that I must respect the race and bring it home, knowing that the karma points may come back sometime down the road. Plus there are no taxis in sight. So I keep moving, half walking half jogging. Russ catches me at mile twelve (I'd passed him at mile 5 on the run) and we silently push each other to keep running to the end (he is "one big cramp" at this point he tells me). The Big Kahuna race ends cruelly, with a half mile run on the beach to the finishing chute.

Justine is there at the finish and I'm happy to see her, but pretty wrecked, frustrated and disappointed too, so I spend the next few minutes stumbling around, saying nothing, pounding some sports drink, acting emotional, but I slowly start to feel reasonable again. I had hoped that with the walk-run pace at the end my legs would feel OK, but they're in bad shape as well.

Final stats:
Bike: 2:54
Run: 2:20
Transition 1: NA
Transition 2: really?

So there it is. A bad race, they happen. I'm doing some post-mortem and I think I have a handle on some of the major issues/mistakes I made: basically, I treated each leg as a discrete event, eating as I normally would on a bike ride, and expecting to eat as I normally would on a run. What I came to realize though is that you can eat plenty on the bike, but if you come off with a fairly full stomach you'll not be able to finish the food absorption while running. Duh! Ironically, by eating too much, I blocked absorption and ran out of fuel halfway through the run (or more accurately, the fuel ran out of me...).

The last time I had a bad race was Big Sur Marathon in 2006, and I wallowed for awhile, but no time for that this year. I signed up for Cal International Marathon in December, and have to crank out a few long runs between now and then. Once that's done, I'll figure out the plan to recover my bruised ego and solve this triathlon distance. For now though I'll dwell on a good bike ride and the good feeling I had in my legs for a short while before things went south.

As always, thanks for your indulgence.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

on the eve of big kahuna

It's been a long week of waiting and wondering what I'm in for. It's been a year + since my last triathlon, and I've never gone this distance, so suffice it to say I'm a little anxious. My general feeling is that I'm gonna be fine in the water, and I've trained adequately for the run, so I'll need to get through the bike portion fast enough but without too much energy depletion. The basic plan is to swim at about 75%, go out easy on the bike, hope for a tail wind, and then ease into the run, see how I feel, and work hard the final 6 miles.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Race Day Lessons Learned - The Marathon

Several of the "RunDisk" group are running their first 26.2 this weekend. This is an exciting event for me since I've been running with this group for the last couple of years and have seen first hand the progress from a few lunch time five milers every week to toeing the starting line of 26.2. Wish I could be there but I have my own event to deal with. Best of luck guys! I wanted to pass along a few tips that I've garnered from the races I've done:

Race Week: Rest and relaxation is the key this week. Eat well but don't overeat. Prioritize sleep over low-value activities like watching TV, cleaning the kitchen, checking the kids homework (wait, scratch that one... check the homework). Remember, BEER IS NOT A HYDRATING BEVERAGE. Those of us who partake (we know who we are ;)) should hold off until Sunday afternoon.

Mental Aspects: If you're like me you will feel a little sluggish and have some doubts about your race prep. You're worrying that this taper is costing you some fitness. Don't sweat it, you've put the work in, you're fine. You may lose a trace of fitness, but you'll gain a lot of form - your legs will be fresh for the race. "You're fit enough, you're fast enough, and gosh darn it you're gonna do great." My best practice for countering this feeling is ...

Final Week Running: Don't run a lot of miles this week - 50% of normal max. but do go ahead and do a few miles (2 or 3 on Tuesday/Thursday) at a good pace. You'll notice the effects of rest combined with months of training. It helps calm the doubts and it's good for the legs. Don't overdo it of course, but don't underdo it either.

Race Weekend: Friday night is the night that matters, sleep wise. Eat some protein for dinner, and get to bed at a reasonable time. Odds are you will not sleep Saturday night. Carbs for dinner on Saturday are always good, but do what you've been doing. Just make sure you are hydrating, and drink some sports drink during the day. Get your gear together before Friday if possible: pick out your shoes, socks, shirt, nutrition, etc. and get it organized. One less thing to keep you awake Friday night...

Race Day: It's gonna be chilly on race morning. Bring a throw-away shirt that you can run in for a little while. I actually take a pair of my wife's thick hose (knee-high) cut the ends off, and turn them into disposable arm-warmers. Those worked great at the Napa Valley Marathon. Don't overdress, don't wear a jacket, any extra clothing besides your shirt and shorts should be DISPOSABLE .Put band-aids or body glide on your nipples, don't be this guy. I use body glide on my inner thighs as well to eliminate "chub-rub". Vaseline works for this too.

The Race: Have a plan, and stick to it. For first-timers you can be aggressive or conservative, just know that the more aggressive your first 15 miles, the more you'll suffer in the last 6. There are a lot of water stops, but it's harder to hydrate appropriately than it seems. Make sure to get a full cup of sports drink at least at each water stop. A lot of times I'll find myself drinking maybe 4 ounces every 2 or 3 miles, which really isn't enough. Walk through the first few stops if necessary.... my eating plan is to eat one GU just prior to the start, one GU after 45 minutes, and one every 30 minutes thereafter.

Mistakes I've Made:

1) Spicy noodles and a micro-brew the night before the Big Sur Marathon. Nuff said, I think I spent 20 minutes in the porta-potties that day and had my slowest day ever

2) Spending Energy on non-running related activities: OK, so this was New York Marathon, and there were so many people I couldn't resist giving high-fives to as many as I could. I probably ran an extra half-mile that day. IMPORTANT: run the inside of every turn. Marathon courses are measure from the inside of each turn, so run as close to the curb as possible to minimize your distance.

3) Starting too fast: Truth be told, this wasn't necessarily a mistake. At CIM in 1999 I ran the second half 8 minutes slower than the first, and I still PR'd. But those last few miles were painful!

4) Listening to my body in the final 6 miles: when you're on the doorstep of the finish line, you have to stop feeling the pain and just push through to the end, unless you're legitimately injured. Everybody feels it at the end of the race, but that's where the race is made.

5) Stressing: The marathon is a big deal, but you guys are ready for it. Pain is temporary, the medal lasts forever.

Post Race: Don't forget, what you do Sunday after the race helps determine how you feel the following week. 2 words, ice bath. Suck it up, you just finished a marathon. Eat right after the race, and make sure you eat some protein within the first hour.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Perspective, Part I

This is part I of a yet to be determined epic series.

Wow. So much has changed in the last month for me, and in many ways it makes me realize I have a lot to be thankful for. From november until July 20, I was unemployed. It's hard to even write that term in describing myself: I spend a lot of energy in my work, and a lot of my pride is wrapped up in my job, so not working was definitely jarring. But finding an identity apart from work was important, having more time for my family was great, and realizing that a job and a paycheck are not a given was eye-opening.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

First Brick of the Year

As my plans start to gel, I'm having to focus my training accordingly. For the past few Saturdays I've been building my long runs back up, now at 13 miles. But this week I decided a decent brick would be a good status check for the Big Kahuna Half Ironman, and accordingly that's what I did. In short, I did 30 on the bike followed by a 7.6 mile run. Happily, it went very well. I am still dialing in my bike position, and so I stopped twice to tweak my seat height and position as well as my bar position. It's tough to stay down in the aero position for so long, but by the second tweak I was feeling pretty comfortable. For 13 miles, including a gradual 10 mile climb
(pretty flat but gaining elevation) a 1 mile climb over Bailey, and then the race back home, I maintained 18.7 MPH. When I got home, I took about 8 minutes to transition, and then ran my local loop up a short climb and then around into Los Gatos. Surprisingly I really hit my stride on the way back, and covered the last 3.5 at a pace of ~7:35.

good confidence builder, just what I needed. It's tougher now to be regular about my workouts, so knowing I have a decent run in me is a good motivator to make a push in the next month.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New Goals

Time to put it in writing:

Big Kahuna Half-Ironman, October 25

Santa Barbara Marathon, December 5

Monday, August 10, 2009

Still here!

The Blog has been quiet, but life has not been. I am back to bike commuting once or twice a week, mainly because I have a job to commute to. I'm setting my sights on a half-ironman in October, more to come on that. And I'm back to running 25+ per week and getting about 2 miles of swimming in at least every week. So the transition off the bike, out of the house, and etc. is in full swing. Missing my old, short-lived life, but embracing my new one.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Death Ride Report

A year ago, Justine and I did a vacation cycling camp together called "Kiss of Death Cycling Tour." Over 3 days we covered about 140 miles and 14000 vertical feet, including Sonora Pass, the second highest Sierra Nevada pass and a road with grades exceeding 20%. This was my introduction to "real" cycling, and I was both awed and intrigued. As a long-time follower of the Tour de France and an erstwhile cyclist who thought a 20 mile ride on flat ground was at least respectable, I realized that I had a lot to learn. Over the next few months, I shelved the idea of coming back for the official Death Ride, but I continued to spend time on my bike, commuting, hitting some of the minor SC Mountain climbs and increasing my mileage slowly.

In early 2009, I wasn't thinking much about the Death ride. I was in job search mode and training for my Napa Valley Marathon, but I was on the bike and starting to explore some of the more respectable local climbs (having no job can do wonders for the cycling ...). At some point I came to the conclusion that this was a great year to train and complete the Death Ride - I had the time, I had a partner to train with (Loren) and I had no domestic conflicts. Justine was focusing on an August half-ironman, so we had no logistics issues to resolve should we both be inclined to do the Death Ride.

In March, I finished the Napa Valley Marathon and turned my attention to the bike. A week after the race, I logged a 60+ mile ride, and the training picked up from there.

My training this year has been pretty good: if my log is accurate, I rode 1,850 miles and climbed about 150,000 vertical feet this year prior to the ride. I had bagged a good number of the "Billy Goat" climbs in the area, and I had logged 4 rides of 90 or more miles in the last month and a half. I also ran nearly 500 miles in that period. I completed the Primavera Century and the Sequoia 120 miler as preparation rides.

I arrived in Markleeville on Thursday night, pulling into the Carson river Resort at about 9:30. I had a chance to fish the Carson river Friday, hauling in a number of moderate trout and hooking up with what would've been a personal best fish had I kept it on the line. Alas, it's just another fish story, still swimming freely in the Carson river (my guess is it was 24 inches or more...)

Loren and his family arrived Friday and we game-planned our ride logistics while enjoying a relaxing day by the river. By 9:30 I was down.

Saturday arrived early. We were up at 4 and on the road at 4:45. We were waiting for a small group to join us (they had started at a different point) but they blew by us with a quick "let's go", and rather than try to catch them I settled into a rhythm and started towards Monitor Pass.

Now, for me the trick about these climbs is to just disassociate, not think, and pedal smoothly while chatting with whomever is around. Monitor West went by smoothly in this fashion. It was still dark and so I had my lights on, and I got up and over the 3K + foot climb with dusky conditions still present. The descent down the back was fast, but for whatever reason I came up short of my speed goal of 50 MPH, hitting the brakes at 49.8....

At the bottom, I stopped for a quick bite (ate potatoes mostly) and then it was back up and over. As expected, I didn't have much trouble with Monitor. It's long but not too steep. On the front side, I hit another long speed patch, and I delayed hitting the brakes as long as possible. My odometer confirmed that that was the right choice, 51 MPH! I remember being sketched last year at 43, this year I felt as stable as could be at 50. Amazing what a few changes and a bit of practice will do.

Ebbets is steeper and tougher, and I started to feel it on the front side. Nevertheless I got over the top and was pleased that the back side climb was only 5 miles. A tough 5 miles, but doable.

The second time up the top of Ebbets I was feeling pretty spent, and I knew that the ride to and up Carson would be tough. Luckily, I hooked up with a small but quick train through the valley and hammered my way to Carson, enjoying the ride. By the base of Carson I was in good shape and ready for the long and tedious climb to the 5th pass.
Carson is where the Death Ride gets tough. This climb goes on forever, and it's where you start asking yourself the questions. Luckily, it's the last one, so the answers to those questions are pretty easy: "get over it, get your ice cream at the top, and get back to camp" (Ice cream at the top of pass 5 is apparently a tradition).
I was clearly a lot weaker going up Carson, using my lowest gear on most of the climb, but I wasn't worried about speed at that point, just getting to the top.
Getting to the top was a great feeling, kinda like hitting mile 26 of a marathon and knowing you just need to kick it home. I was done with the climbing, I had a great descent to look forward to, and I had accomplished what I'd set out to do. I didn't linger, but had a snack, sat for a couple of minutes, and then pointed downhill. the descent down Carson did prove to be a blast: I hammered past a small group and picked up a rider and he followed me all the way down and across to the finish. I again hit the 50MPH barrier and we also ran into just a touch of rain, but the return was quick and painless, and I ultimately brought my average speed up from 11 to 12.1 during this period.
That's about it. Very satisfied with the effort and the result, and I didn't feel too wrecked afterwards. My main cycling goal for the year is done, and now I'll start focusing on a fall/winter marathon, probably Santa Barbara. It's also possible that I'll try for Big Kahuna half ironman, but not sure yet.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Death Ride Preview, or, Well, I'm certainly tapered

Ready to go. 5 days and counting till the Death ride. The mental preparation is a lot different for me than approaching a marathon. I don't feel any time pressure, no worry about how fast to go, pacing, or any of that. I'm just starting to focus on being ready for the time on the bike, getting through each pace one at a time, and enduring the challenge of doing five passes. My training has been good enough, I'm sure, but in a sense this race may be a week or 2 too late for me. Once summer starts, the family travel schedule heats up, and as a result, my bike riding has gone down while my relaxing, beer in hand, riverside time has gone up. So... my legs are rested, but I'm probably up a couple of pounds from a few weeks back.

Nevertheless, I'm ready, I have a few personal goals, and I know it's gonna be a lot of fun. I did some of these passes last year and was amazed at the scale, but after a year on the bike and a bunch of great local climbs I am looking forward to seeing them again and realizing what a difference a year makes. The idea of a few days in Markleeville is also appealing. I have my fishing rod at the ready and hope to catch dinner at least one night.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

262 Mile Week

With another big day yesterday, that brings my weekly total (Sunday - Saturday) to 262 miles. Certainly an epic week. Yesterday was 4 climbs: Quimby West, Upper Mt. Hamilton, and then back over Mt. Hamilton and Quimby East. Our clmbing gauge registered about 9500 vert feet, so it was a big day.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

new milestone

The cool thing about the bike is that you can hit milestones going downhill. Today I smashed through the 45MPH barrier on Summit road. My top speed on today's ride was 46.5! It is a section going south just prior to taking a left turn on Old SC Highway. I decided I'd just overshoot the turn and see how fast I could get going, and was surprised when I scrolled through to find my Max Speed. Another good indicator for next month in Markleeville.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cross Posting

I liked this post.

You read a blog for a few months and then you learn something that surprises you.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Quite a week: Sequoia Metric Double Century Report

Even without work, that was a hectic week. Chloe graduated from Junior High on Friday and the frenzied activities on both sides of the day were both fun and gratifying as well as a little tiring. Nonetheless we had a great week and were proud to see our baby finish her junior high school experience. For me Jr. high graduation was not a big deal, but for Chloe and her classmates, they have attended the same school for 9 years and will all split up and go to different schools next year, so it was truly the end of a significant chapter in all our lives.

Friday night, we attended a late graduation party and followed a rest and nutrition regimen not recommended by any of the training books I've read. Ah well...

So that brings us to Sunday morning: I was unsure of my form and how I would feel, but Justine convinced me that if I was doing the Sequoia Century I just could not cut it short and do the 100 miles. Basically, her message was: "OK, you've got the whole day, don't come back and tell me you just did the century." My cycling muse!

She was absolutely right on this one, it would be important for me to stretch my limits and see how the body and mind responded, pre-Death Ride, so I went in with the idea that I'd do the double metric.

Long story short, the ride went really well. I am starting to learn understand how to manage my energy and nutrition on these long rides, and clearly the long training rides I've banked are helping (as well as the 27 tooth rear cog!) . I'll skip the blow-by-blow and head straight for the highlights:

Redwood Gulch - a good way to start the day and begin the dialogue with the legs. Everything feeling fine. Except that the guy I was climbing with told me the most harrowing cycling story I'd heard in awhile. I was asking him about his frame (custom carbon from the east coast, the name escapes me now) (ed. note: I just remembered, it was a Parlee) and he told me that it was a replacement for his first bike that he cracked when he was forced off the road on Mt. Hamilton last year on father's day. He broke his neck, was in the hospital for three months, and was back on his bike by December. Titanium plates in his neck, rehab after they had to completely open up his throat to operate, completely crazy. He said that if the driver hadn't stopped and helped, he would've died. My legs stopped hurting the more I listened. That said I did enjoy hearing the visitors to the ride complain about Redwood Gulch, a climb I do at least twice a month these days. That hill got a lot of respect yesterday.

Climb # 2 was the backside of Hwy 9. Not a highlight but it is the kind of moderate and sustained effort that can wear you out.

Descents at the ride this year were quite technical: down Alpine road on the backside, down Kings on the front side. Kings is in dreadful shape and I can't stand going down that road, and it was worse on a Sunday afternoon. Thankfully we stayed upright. Nice to have a car pull over for me to pass ;).

Nutrition Management and Lunch: I think this was a major improvement for me. There is so much food on these things that my natural instinct is to just eat a lot at every stop and then get a big lunch. This time I was pretty judicious with the calories I consumed. Lunch was actually really tasty - chicken wraps and veggie wraps - but I didn't overdo it and I was back on my bike pretty quickly. Food at this ride was outstanding overall. Not too heavy on the baked goods, a great lunch, HOT COFFEE at one stop, and Coke at the top of Tunitas.

The Coast: for all the drippy fog in the mountains, once we got to the coast it was just spectacular. Add to that a tailwind and the ride south to Pescadero was a real joy. I hooked up with a couple of groups and made some good time on this section until I flatted in Pescadero. The Metric Double had 230 riders, so losing my pace group was a bummer, but I was able to hook up with a couple others and rode with them to the finish. coming back up the coast I was a little burnt, but I grabbed a can of coke (16 OZ for 99cents !!!) in Pescadero and that helped a bunch.

Tunitas: I rode Tunitas with the San Francisco crew and held their wheels as long as I could, which was until about 2.5 miles from the top. I was happy with how much I had to give on that last climb, I hadn't been able to hang with those guys earlier in the day. Tunitas also got a lot of appreciative comments from the riders, it is super pleasant at the end of a long day. I really don't know why the Tour of Cali went up this one though.

Bunch Sprint: Coming back from the Kings descent to Palo Alto, we started hammering the flats and picking up riders as we went. The result was an all out sprint for the last several miles, a really good way to burn off the last bit of energy and test the fast twitch muscles. I'm certainly more sprinter than climber (climb like a sprinter!) and elbowed my way to a 3rd place finish (third in the bunch, not third overall).


Miles- 124

Vertical Feet - 10,600

Avg Speed ~13.8

Riding Time ~9:10

Total Time ~10:15

Top Speed - 42 MPH

Monday, June 1, 2009

Mental Fatigue

OK, I'm starting to wonder ... today I spent 5 riding hours, covered 60 miles, and did it solo. I couldn't get out over the weekend, so Monday became my ride day. I threw a new climb in (Soda Springs) and was treated to 5.6 miles with no flats, and overall climbing of over 6K feet. I have to say though, I just wasn't feeling it. Honestly readers, don't you just get tired of climbing sometimes? Thankfully my next long ride will be Sequoia, therefore supported and plenty of company.

I don't ever remember having that kind of day while running. Plenty of shitty runs, believe me, but rarely if ever did I feel like I just wanted to be done after the first 5 or so miles, especially if I got through the first 2 miles of whatever malaise of the day I was feeling.

So I'm a little whiney. But the reality is I'm a bit of a rookie at these long rides, so I had hoped that every ride would be thrilling and fun. sometimes though you just have to put in the miles.

there were some great parts though: hit a new speed record, 44.9 on summit approaching Old SC highway. great descent down old SC (hit the brakes only 4 times, two corners I just don't think I can get through without them) and the bike handled everything with aplomb.

I picked up my death ride ticket Saturday, so I'm committed through July, then I'll probably enjoy a brake. I ran 7 last Saturday though, and still trying to keep sharp with that.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Interesting Day on the Bike

The five stages of Saturday's hill day.

5 flat tires

4 salt tablets

3 big climbs

2 crashes on Lexington (and 2 new climbs)

And a drug-addled autograph seeker

I will think twice next time I suggest we go over Lexington. On the way up, Loren came unclipped on the first dirt ascent and crashed hard enough to jam his wrist, scrape his knee, and twist his seat.

As we cut across the single-track, we were victimized by the first of many flat tires: Chris punctured in the dirt just before we got to concreta firma.

So far so good for me though, I was pleased to get up the dam without dismounting, though I was gassed by that climb!

Then it was up Black Road, first time for me. The morning was chilly and I was happy to have my microfiber jacket and knee warmers. Over the course of the day I only took in 4 bottles of fluids and four salt tablets, which is half of what I took in last weekend in the heat.

Up Black, and across Bear Creek in the dripping fog, passing a couple of great SC Mountain Wineries (Byington and David Bruce) before descending to climb Alba. I ran over a big piece of metal on the descent, blowing up my tire and dinging my rim as well. Hopefully no long-term rim damage there!

In Boulder Creek, the autograph hounds were out. I can't decide whether to feel guilty or pleased for making somebody's day. A guy approached us, certain we were professional riders. I thought he was putting me on but he looked just off enough to be serious, and what with me rocking my Freddie Rodriguez jersey I could see where he could get confused. So he got an envelope and I signed "Fred Rodriguez USA" and then handed the paper to Loren "Levi Leipheimer" and Chris "George Hincapie". And we were off like a flash... wait, no we weren't, we were fixing another flat tire. Where's that damn team car???

At the base of Alba, Chris flatted again, and I attacked! That is to say, I built up a little cushion so that they wouldn't have to wait for me at the top. The climbing was going pretty well. Having the 27 tooth sprocket was a welcome relief, and cooler weather helped a lot as well. The Death Ride is certainly seeming less ominous.

The last climb was Mountain Charlie's, since we had to go to Scotts Valley for more tubes, and thus skipped the tougher Zayante. No issues on MC, that climb isn't too tough. Chris flatted again somewhere, but I no longer remember where. Sucked for him, especially on a new tire, but at least it gave me some breathers every so often. We opted for the full descent down Old SC highway. I had planned to try running it without touching the brakes, but I scared myself early on when I hit a rock in a corner and nearly went down. After that I rode just a bit more conservatively, but only hit the brakes 3 times.

Sadly we came on another crash on the way down Lexington. Two guys (who we think were handicapped) were coming down, and one flipped his bike and hit his head on the big pipe that comes down from the dam. I think he was OK, and there was a good samaritan helping him out and calling 911, but it was a fitting end to a slightly off day.

Overall a fun day. I'm heading for 500 miles and 40-50K feet this month if I get in some decent rides this week.

Today we enjoy the weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Gearing for the weekend

my 12-27 cassette is in! Let's see if it makes a difference.

Monday, May 18, 2009

you know it's hot when...

Add Image
...the sweat marks reach the bottom of your shorts.

When your water is so hot it's undrinkable

when you prefer having your helmet on for the shade it provides

When the squirrels keep running out in front of your bike tires trying to commit suicide (yes, that happened three times).

Saturday we started training for the death ride in earnest. 3 tough climbs, 9K feet and 90 miles. And if that weren't enough, Loren and I missed the Zayante Creek Road turn off and did an extra 10 miles from Felton to Scotts Valley and back (Mt. Herman road at noon on a Saturday is nowhere you want to be). But a great ride overall: the descent from 35 down 9 and through Big Basin is really nice, Jamison Creek is as steep as it looked on mapmyride, and we both agreed that Zayante Creek was tougher than we'd expected. Probably due to the heat (approaching 90 at 1PM) and the point we were at in our ride. The route was basically as follows: My home -> 9 to Mt. Eden over Redwood Gulch. then down 9, to 236, through Big Basin, up Jamison Creek, Felton Empire Grade over to Felton. Lunch. Felton to Scotts Valley. Scotts Valley back to Felton (Mapmyride gave us the wrong directions, neglecting to mention that we couldn't hit Zayante from Mt. Hermon). Up Zayante, then over and down Mt. Charleys and Old Santa Cruz, back to my place. I walked in, grabbed a cold glass of water, and laid down on the floor for 5 minutes, wrecked. I have decided that I wasn't dehydrated but I may have been over-heated, because after a cold glass of water I felt just fine. I'm going to invest in some lined water bottles for the Death Ride. Great ride overall.

This was my first trip up Zayante and Jamison Creek. In the past three months I've added the following rated climbs (5/6)to my Resume:

Mt Umunhum
Hicks East
Eureka Canyon
Mt. Charlie
Harwood/Santa Rosa

Along with a bunch of others including Overlook (with the dirt trail by-pass); Calaveras; Palemares;

Not bad. At this time last year I had only done Hicks East. And Pearce/Mt. Eden...

Friday, May 15, 2009

not a lot of writing but plenty of riding

I've been doing plenty of climbing in the past few weeks and have 90 M scheduled for tomorrow. This weekend I'll post all the new climbs I've gone up in the past two months. I've bagged quite a few.

I haven't run much, but was able to do an easy 5 miler at sub-8 pace. Next week I'll put in a few more running miles to gauge my current running form.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Progress on Montebello

Went up in 43:18 today, 3 minutes quicker than my previous best. Form is better but I also scoped out the route a bit and figured out a better way to ride it. I rode hard the first two, rode quick but recovered the flat part, and rode hard the last part. Nice to arrive ahead of schedule.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thoughts on Boston 2009 from the US Perspective

i finally finished watching the 2009 marathon race today. Wow, that was certainly one for the ages on the women's side. On the men's side, it was nearly a classic, but at the end of the day the smartest runner took it. Hall went out way too fast, if not for that he might have had a real chance. To go out that fast and still finish third says a lot about his strength and fitness. I have to say, what a knucklehead move. He tried to go Prefontaine, running a pace that would've put him at the half at 1:01:30... this in a race that is usually won in the 2:09 range. Still he showed a lot of guts in the second half, and he makes me think we'll see more of him as he figures the race out.

The Women's side was unbelievable. Goucher really threw everything she had at the two other leaders. Proof of that was the total collapse of Tune just 1 step after the finish. I don't see how she could have run any better tactically, but the other two were just strong enough and clearly they showed that will at the end.

Great race and exciting to see US runners perform so well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Primavera - hot day on a beautiful course

A short preamble: detailed memory of events has never been my strong suit. I have friends from high school who can remember details of basketball or soccer games we played it, for me I can't even remember the final scores. My mind seizes on certain events, plays, scenery, etc but I don't as a rule record the event in my mind. I note this only because I've read some blogs and talked to some people who do this very well. I suppose it just isn't my style.

Anyway, I finally I got a chance to ride the hills that I've driven past for most of my life. Whenever I head up 680 I'm always impressed with the scenery around Sunol and Livermore, and Justine has been telling me for awhile how nice it is. Well, she was right, it's really nice. The trick of course, is riding there before it gets super hot. Yesterday was borderline.

Here are some highlights: I headed out with a group of about 6 - my friend Loren and a group of riders from Western Wheelers, including Laura, who I rode with last summer at the "Kiss of Death" cycling camp (I like to call it a camp, sounds cooler). Both are strong riders (Laura was second in the Everest Challenge last year), so I could only hope to catch them on the descents. Thank goodness for rest stops where I could hook up with the group.

The climbing on this ride isn't crazy if you're used to riding the Santa Cruz mountains, it's just long, hot and windy. The ascents included the following: "The Wall", up past Ed Levin County Park (one rider called it a "National Park"... uh, not quite). This one came early, and was a nice long grind, broken up by a rest stop. Not too bad; Altamont Pass, which was windy and exposed. We probably hit that one around 10 or 10:30. I unhooked from the group on this one and just stayed in my saddle, climbing slow and steady; and finally Palomares, from the Livermore side back over to Union City. Again, not too too bad, a bit steep at the end, but I felt pretty strong since we were re-integrating with the shorter course riders at this point and I was passing folks going uphill for a change!

The highlights of the day for me were the pacelines and trains on the flats. We had a great 10 person line going through the ugliest section of the day (Stanley Blvd.), which was a blast. Coming down next to 580 I tucked behind another small group and we averaged well over 32 for about 3-4 miles. Descents were also pretty fun, it was nice to hit 43MPH after Altamont and feel no wobbles at all. I think that flipping my stem has given me a little more stability as well as comfort. Nice!

Calaveras was quite nice also, saw a fox out hunting, and then spied the Bald Eagle nest and one of the eagles (I didn't take this picture)

Food was fine, support was great, temperature was hot but not July hot. Just unexpectedly hot.

Riding with the group was a good time. They're all good riders, and you have to focus and pay attention. I have taken to thinking of Laura as the "Matron", the one who keeps order in the Peloton. Pretty funny to hear her scolding riders, etc. I was on the sharp end of it in Markleeville once or twice, glad it isn't just me! She's great to ride with though, damn strong. One guy whose name I never caught just kept taking monster pulls. Probably pulled 4 miles through Livermore in the mid 20s. Riding a steel Lemond from probably the late 80s?? When did 1 inch threaded headsets go from standard to obsolete? Any bike historians care to comment?

Right before Palomares, some kids had set up a lemonade stand. I think I was about the only one who stopped in all day, and they were so darn excited that I got a little adrenaline boost for the climb. I pulled in and said "hope you guys have some change" and they assured me: "No, it's all free!" Lemonade, water, strawberries... total race support was awesome.

Lowlights? Loren ending up in a bush was a little unnerving. I think he was looking back waiting for me to catch up, and when he looked forward again there was a dead raccoon and a sewer grate in his path. He went down in slow motion, his fall broken by some significant shrubbery on the side of the road. I think he's OK, save some ripped shorts. Without the shrubs it would've been bad, it was a steep embankment. The raccoon though... still dead.

Besides that, great day. I felt pretty strong, and though I need to keep working on climbing I felt better overall than my only century last year. Not sure what the next one will be.

The bike was great also. I put on the aero bars to give me a few more positions, and while I wasn't in them a lot they were very handy in the windy sections and when leading the pull. and like I said, the flipped stem is both more comfortable and more stable...

Totals (approximate)

102 miles

16.5 MPH average

43.3 Top

4.0 Low

~6,000 feet climbed

~ 168 ounces of fluid consumed

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Residual Speed

My training this week has been half-hearted in volume, but I am experiencing the after-affects of marathon training, tapering and running: residual speed. Monday at the track I was running 400 repeats with my fastest at 1:24 (during training I was running 1:35s). Saturday I did 6 miles with a few of them at 7:15/7:30 and feeling just fine thank you very much. It's a tough after affect of running a marathon: I've lost the running motivation, I've changed my goals, but I'm fit and as fast as I've been in awhile and wondering if I'm just gonna waste it... so the goal will remain: 20 miles of running per week on top of my cycling, with the miles being quality (tempo, track, 10 mile longs...) until late summer when I'll re-dedicate myself to running.

For the time being though, more cycling, more hills, more miles....

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I flipped over my stem for today's ride. I've been having some neck/shoulder pains and I wanted to see whether being slightly more upright would reduce that. It ended up working great - I did 63 miles, riding in a slightly higher position, and my neck feels just fine. I planned today's route to spend a fair bit of time on the bike and not kill myself on the 10+% grades, and it worked out great. Old Santa Cruz highway to summit, down summit to Soquel, and then across and back up via Eureka Canyon, a 9+ mile, 2000 foot climb; not a killer, just long and sustained. The best part of the ride was coming back down Old SC highway, trying to chase down a heavy guy in a Cafe de Colombia jersey (nothing like the throwback kits). That descent is very enjoyable, windy but not so technical that you can't get a good pace going. Ended up with 63 miles and 4000 feet of climbing to bring my annual riding total to 488 so far.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fractious Horses

I'm still around, I'm just having training confusion as I try to up the bike miles and move away from running. My rough plan as it's shaping up is to train for the Death Ride in July by upping the cycling and doing some supported and unsupported centuries starting with Primavera in a couple weeks. Should be challenging. After July I'll get back to running more seriously, training for a fast fall marathon. I'm hopeful that I can figure out a way to keep some running fitness, at least two days a week, one fast, while I ramp up the cycling, but I haven't figured that out yet.

I liked this quote from Wilbur Wright, from the book: "To Conquer the Air", a book I'm finding very enjoyable despite taking my sweet time getting through it:

"There are two ways of learning how to ride a fractious horse. One is to get on him and learn by actual practice how each motion and trick may be best met; the other is to sit on a fence and watch the beast a while, and then retire to the house and at leisure figure out the best way of overcoming his jumps and kicks. The latter system is the safest; but the former, on the whole, turns out the larger proportion of good riders. It is very much the same in learning to ride a flying machine; if you are looking for perfect safety, you will do well to sit on a fence and watch the birds; but if you really wish to learn, you must mount a machine and become acquainted with its tricks by actual trial."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bike miles pass Running Miles

for the first time this year, my biking miles are more than my running miles:

Run: 322
Bike: 353

Courtesy of 44 miles today including Montebello and Redwood Gulch

I suspect that trend will continue

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Benchmark Workout

Run results for 20 minute TT

Course: Home to Almaden Los Gatos Blvd, 7:30 PM
First 10 min - 1.24 miles; AHR ~140
Second 10 min - 1.3 miles (7:45 pace); AHR ~ 150
Third 20 min - 2.88 miles (6:56 pace); AHR ~ 155

Decent pace, seems like heart rate isn't that high
Maybe by running in the dark I limited my speed?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

good swim workout

While I'm not really in the habit of posting the details of my workouts, I liked the way this swim went, and since it's kind of a benchmark workout I figured I'd post it for posterity. I'm not swimming much, maybe once a week. I am trying to up that a bit but since I do it ad hoc I don't have a schedule to fall back on when I don't feel like swimming. So I blow it off. I usually make up my workouts on the way to the pool. Typically I have a 2000 yard minimum and 2100 maximum - sounds like another barrier I need to break through eh? Today was 2,200 yards (!!)with 500 warmup, 500 with a pull-buoy and paddles, and then 10 x 100 descending splits and 200 warm down. The pull buoy 500 was good, I was shooting for 8 minutes and did it in about 7:45. The 10x100 was tougher. I had to remember to go easy on the first one, last time I did this I started at 1:31 and couldn't really do much better. Here are the splits:
1:32.5 (I lengthened my stroke here and went faster without much effort - interesting)
1:32.46 (still going down, if barely!)
1:25.2 (cranked up to 90%)
1:23.2 (gave it whatever I had left)

Just over 1:30 for an average.

Pretty satisfying to see that progression.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Do you have the signs? PMD

If you have postmarathon depression, you have had five or more depressive symptoms (including one of the first two listed below) for most of the past 2 weeks, including:
Inability to look at, let alone put on your running shoes
Lack of concern about the moldy marathon day gear still sitting on your hardwood floor.
Loss of pleasure in all or almost all of your exercise choices.
Appetite change-usually a need to keep eating well past your full point, with a focus on fats, simple carbohydrates, chocolate, and alcohol (usually a lot of beer, often in place of your morning run).
Significant (like 5 pounds) weight gain.
Depressed mood-tearfulness, hopelessness, and feeling empty inside, with or without severe anxiety.
Trouble waking up, even at noon.
Noticeable change in how you walk and talk-usually limping and sluggish.
An inability to hold, cuddle or clean your finisher's medal
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, based on your complete and utter 4 month focus on preparation to the detriment of all other activities, work, friends and family.
Considering running in the Clydesdale/Athena class in your next race.
Difficulty concentrating and making decisions, especially if you are trying to pick your next event.
Dry heaves at the mere mention of the word "Gu."

While marathon programs cover in great detail your training plans, pre-race nutrition, taper, and race plans, they are woefully short on addressing the runner's post race needs. Frankly, the only know remedies are either 1) swearing off marathons, in writing or 2) hitting the trails as soon as your legs say yes.

How do you deal with PMD?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Runnin' for nothin'

I thought it would be a great break to just go for a run without any pace goal, distance requirement, or purpose in my overall plan. Mentally, I needed an easy run. I am very pleased with the how the Furman Method worked out for me: by reducing my running schedule to three days a week, making every run count (1 long, 1 temp, and one track session each week), and mixing in two days of cross-training the training was very efficient if not voluminous. I only felt over-trained when I got off the schedule by racing, and I never felt injured. I was on the 3:30 program and came up a little short of that, but it wouldn't be fair to attribute that to the program: I got into it in week 6 and like i said I also raced when I shouldn't have.

What the program lacks (duh!) is the relaxing, run how you feel element that all runners appreciate. So yesterday was my first chance to relax and enjoy a nice trail run.

Sounds good in theory, but in practice the muscle soreness started to come back after a couple hills, and I realized that I'm still in recovery mode. Or maybe it was the 60 mile ride with Chris and Jason over the weekend? Either way, I'm still sore and not ready for any serious running. I covered about 6 miles in Quicksilver at a decent pace, but I had to back off towards the end. good to know that I really did empty the bucket...

What a great time to run now though. It's chilly (sub 50 at noon today) but the valley air is clean, the rains have done a number on the hills, and everything is really beautiful right now. Get thee to a trail immediately.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Post Napa

It's Wednesday and my legs are feeling reasonable. Justine and I (and Pepi) hiked up Sierra Azul and I added a mile very sloooow on the treadmill, and everything feels OK. I'm looking forward to getting back to running and setting a new goal, not sure yet what it will be.

This, by the way, is my official finishing shot. Seriously, did nobody think to move the yellow and orange pylons out of the shot?

Marathons are funny, everyone has a different experience and a different feeling afterwards. I talked to two different people who were on the course for the exact same amount of time, one loved it, one hated it. Justine said and I agree that it's a real shame to train for something so long and then leave it feeling unsatisfied or unhappy - I've been there and it sucks. It's a long day out there and there is always something you know you could have done better, but it's not like a hundred yard dash where you don't decide anything, you just go. With the marathon, for me each step feels like a decision: push now or hold back? run the hill hard? Run the downhill hard? Stop for the restroom? Man, all day it's one thing after another, and if you make the wrong decision at mile 2 you pay for it at mile 22.

As a runner gains experience they learn to concentrate and recognize what to do and when, but when you blow it you have regrets.

Speaking of experience... major shorts dilemna prior to the race. I have been running in the compression shorts throughout training, but if you'll notice I have a custom singlet on. One of the SJFit crew designed the shirts and had them printed, so most of us raced in them. Problem was that between the shirt and shorts there was just an alarming amount of tightness and my stylistas agreed that I looked a little weird.. So I went a little old school and threw on racing shorts over the compression shorts in a minimal gesture of modesty. It was a compromise, functional enough yet discrete enough. For weight savings I ripped out the inner liner in the race shorts, not really needed with the tights and all.

There was a lot of complaining about the weather, which indeed was bad. But to be honest it didn't bother me. Some wore jackets or even trash bags the entire race (one guy I passed was all flushed and over-heated and yet still had his trash bag on). I went with short and tank top. I doubt you can see too well from this shot, but there were points where it was dumping.

Anyway the point is that everyone has a different day, some feel great, some suck wind. I've been on both sides. Feeling great is better.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Napa Valley Marathon 2009 data

I charted and graphed my mile splits to get a sense for the race. The data is a little hard to see in this format, but what you are looking at is as follows:

Red columns are my mile splits
Green Line is my overall adjusted pace trend (i.e. what direction was my overall pace trending at each mile)
Blue Line is cumulative time
X-axis shows miles

Final Time = 3:36:47

Pace: 8:15

For comparison I charted my 2000 Silicon Valley Marathon data.

Final Time: 3:24:32

Pace: 7:48

Besides the obvious pace difference, I think I ran the 2000 race a bit more evenly, but that makes sense since the course was dead flat whereas Napa was bumpt at the end after downhills in the beginning. At Napa I didn't need to stop at all, but I did walk about 20 seconds through the last 3 water stops, so that affects the pace at the end.

One last chart. This one compares my average pace across three different races, SF 2000 (red)(notice the big drop-off at the end) SVM 2000 (green), and Napa 2009 (blue):

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Napa Valley marathon, the short report

Not everybody needs the data-crunching, blow by blow detail, so here's the short of it:

Race conditions: Wet, rained the whole race, temperature probably 57 degrees all day
Race Result: 3:36 and change
Subjective Analysis: I feel really happy with the race. My plan was to run about 1:43 in the first half, and I was a bit behind pace at 1:44 +; The overall goal was 3:30 but my realistic goal was 3:30 to 3:40 and I hit that. Since this is my first hard race since 2002 (I have a hard time believing it's been so long) I wanted to see whether I'd learned anything, and indeed I have. It was one of the best final 6 miles I've ever strung together, never dipping much below an 8:30 pace, never stopping, and even throwing in some crazy surges. According to my Garmin i was below 7 min/mile more than once towards the end.
Key Learnings: 1) Nutrition is key: I consumed a salt stick tab every 45 minuets and didn't cramp; I consumed 4-5 gels and ~400 calories worth of Accelerade and Sports Drink; Pepsi Rocks! I drank a flat Pepsi prior at mile 18, and it hit me at mile 22 and i picked up my pace probably a minute/mile for a bit; 2) Intervals are good training: I definitely benefited from my track work, especially at the end where I relied on my new found ability to ignore pain and keep grinding; 3) more Tempo woulda' helped - I think i coulda' used more temp running
Negatives?: Improvement is always out there. Overall i need to just keep running and building my base consistently if I want to get back to and below my old times. Key here will be volume and consistency, and setting the next goal which I haven't done yet.

Number crunching will follow.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Napa Marathon nutrition plan, or, "how I used up a 3 month allotment of plastic bottles"

It's been bugging me for weeks: my original plan was to just go "ultra-style" and carry an amphipod belt with a 10 oz water bottle and a 5 oz Gu holder. I would refill the water whenever it emptied, and in the process do my best to take in 40-50 oz of fluid over the course of the race. But recently I've been waffling on that, not excited at all at the thought of having a belt hanging from my hips. So I've come up with a plan, and I'm really psyched about it. It took me a couple shopping trips to find what I needed, and a special Napa marathon service to help me out. As it turns out, they take bottles out on the course for you, so I plan to prepare a bunch of bottles that I will have them place at the various water stops. That way I have my water waiting for me, can carry it and drink it for a bit, and when I'm done deposit it neatly in a nearby trash can (I hope - it's not easy being green!).

First a little bit about the bottles: my criteria were, should be between 8-12 ounces; needs a drinking nozzle. As it turns out no bottles fit this criteria, so I had to go with a hybrid model: I bought a 6-pack of these (notice the nozzle) :

and an 8-pack of these sweet little 10 oz football shaped bottles:

Next I swapped the caps.

After that I rigged up a duct tape based handle:

Which I'll use like so:

And finally, I attached an orange marker, so I can see it clearly at the water bottle station, and a gel:

I haven't completely decided what to put in them, but most likely the first 4 will be accelerade and the last two will be Coke. I plan to leave them at miles: 4, 19, 14, 18, 21 and 24.

For nutrition I will carry probably 4 gels (hammer and/or accel gels) with the plan of eating half a gel every 15 minutes. I'll also be carrying salt tablets for extra electrolytes, probably one every 30 or so minutes. And finally I'll have a couple advil. Should I need anything additional I'll get ir on the course, either taped to my bottle or from the gel stations.

As a side note, as I mentioned back in December we Americans go through 25,000,000 h20 bottles every day. Since I came across that statistic I've just about stopped using disposable bottles, but if you think about it it only takes one bottle every ten days per person to maintain status quo. I am really cranking up my allotment, using 3 or more months worth of bottles for this marathon, so I have some making up to do...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Gettin' my ass handed to me

Here's the truth: I've been running with guys who are faster than me on my long runs - and they've been kicking my ass. I haven't pushed like this for several years. Mark and Alberto are 3 hour guys, and they're in that kind of shape. Ian and Ethan aren't there yet with their P.R.s but I think Ethan at least is primed for a breakthrough run - Ian has been travelling a bunch, interviewing for a job at a university, and so he might not be primed. I met these guys through San Jose Fit, and since I was joining so I could run with faster people, I hung with them as best I could, and it's been rewarding and enjoyable. It will also be really interesting to see how the training translates into race times since we'll all be doing Napa. Mark and Alberto are going to try to duck under 3, and Ethan is going for 3:30. He is quite capable of that, but had a bad blow up in his first race - he has problems drinking on the course and I suspect he dehydrated.

Anyway, I thought I'd mention this, since I don't think I've mentioned it in my previous blog posts.

Here's how the long runs go: if it's flat, we run together for first 5 or so. I remind them of the intended pace. They agree, yup we should slow down. We go faster. After 5 miles I slow back to a reasonable pace, the field scatters. They wait for me at the turn. We go again, and we meet up at the end.

If it's hilly, we run the beginning together, I fall back on the ascents, and I chase and try to catch them on the downhill. Then we repeat.

I start feeling slow, but I'm probably getting faster; if I run with the next group the pace is too slow for what the book tells me to run. So I suck it up. The only run I think this may have back-fired was the 23-miler. I was coming into very good form, but running the half marathon and then running a 23-miler was too much. I may not have maximized the benefit of the 23-miler.

Because of the Furman program, I haven't had a relaxing run in probably 6 weeks. It's been interesting. This race is a bit of an experiment so I'm open-minded and I don't mind running hard. Let's see how it feels.

One week till Napa, all systems go

It's been a long time since I ran a serious marathon, really over 7 years. Big Sur was nice, but if I look back on my training my poor result should come as no surprise. With Napa I feel like I did all the work I needed to do, and though I wasn't monk-like in my approach to diet and so on, I feel like I've done enough to ensure a solid performance. In particular I've done track sessions every week, have three 20+ long runs, and have done a long-distance tempo or MP run every week as well. Basically I've done what I can do, and in doing it I haven't injured myself. This week I will do two short but relatively intense workouts, including 6 x 400 meters tomorrow and 3 miles race pace Thursday.

I am also considering race strategy, and rather than worry about mile splits I'm thinking of a positive split approach, running the first half in 1:43 so I have four extra minutes on the back-end to get to 3:30. If I hit 3:30 that will be a good indicator that my training was right on, and in addition I feel there is some head room to get faster in the future. I'm not thinking "what if I miss", but I am mentally giving myself ten minutes of cushion (3:40) to judge the race a success. And I'll give myself ten minutes of upside as a stretch goal. Basically, the last 6 miles are a mystery to me: I've worked a lot on my mental toughness this time around, and I'm hoping I can use those lessons at the end. Obviously though there is no way to know until we get there.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Front Row Seat at the Suffer Fest

Woody Allen once said showing up is 80% of success. So I knew when I showed up at Robert's market on Monday morning in the pouring rain, that we were going up to watch the Tour of California. The fact that neither Chris not Pat had called to cancel meant that they were in too, and I was impressed that we were all too macho or stupid to call it off. Pat pulled up in his car, followed shortly after by Chris, who had ridden an extra ten miles from his house and assured us we'd be just fine (the fact that he'd already been riding made any remaining thoughts of bagging this thing moot).

The route we took was Portola Valley Road to King's Mountain and then up and over Skyline. The first 6 or so miles were enough to test our gear - I don't ride in the rain too often and so was undecided on what jacket to wear. I started with a microfiber jacket but quickly realized that, unlike in running, the wet from the rain was going to chill me to the bone, so I threw on a two-layer (think fleece inside, water "resistant" polyester on the outside)jacket. It soaked in a lot of water but was warm enough to insulate me and my four other layers underneath. We saw no other until we got to King's mountain, and then the die-hards started appearing. Plenty of folks were going up on their bikes, others were making the drive. All-in-all I think riding the bike was less stressful, especially afterwards when traffic was at a standstill.

Nice climb and we were nice and warm by the top. Up there it was pretty serious chaos, with CHP all over trying to control things, random volunteers directing traffic, and cyclists, hikers, etc hanging around in the cold. Down the backside of Tunitas we went, descending into progressively colder environs. We wet up camp about two miles down and waited for the parade.

After all the work it took to get up there, the race was by in a flash. Seeing the pros ride these roads is impressive. Seeing the convoy pass by is, well, frightening. If I wasn't wet already, the Rock Racing driver might have done the job. How more spectators don't get run over is a mystery. the Rock team car is a two-door Cadillac, and the driver was driving like he was on Highway 9 rather than a one-lane back road, built mainly for cyclists and pot farmers. and full of cold, wet, screaming fans.

The descent and ride home were, well, cold, but we got into a good rhythm following each other's rooster tails, and got back in one piece. Round trip was about 26 miles, with a one-hour interruption.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

In Case you Missed it...

it sounded like a good idea when he announed it in September, but Lance Armstrong is backing off on his transparent drug-testing program. Read about it here. really that's a shame, because having that kid of tranparency would have been good for the sport. Of course, the reality is that public data doesn't always clarify, apparently reading the data is quite complex and specific to the individual, as we learned last year with the Slipstream testing - basically the layman can't understand it.

Too bad for cycling, too bad for Lance.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

races I might medal in

I was always unusually fast at pounding a beer. In my college days there were few faster, large or small. I practiced my freshman year in the cafeteria. I would pound 8 ounce glasses of milk with my dorm-mates and rarely would I lose. I quit the milk circuit after my friend Kevin surreptitiously spiked my milk with about a half cup of salt before the race, leaving me gagging and in second place. But I bumped around the beer pounding minor leagues for a couple more years before hanging it up for good.

The reason I'm thinking about this is that now that I'm back running on the track, I might have a chance to run a respectable "beer mile". The point of the beer mile is as follows:
1) Drink a beer
2) run a lap
3) repeat 3 more times

Now this race is not for big slow beer drinkers. Honestly it probably favors running athletes (ultimate, soccer) more than ascetic distance runners. The local winner last year went a 6:42, obviously no slouch.

If your specialty isn't drinking, maybe you can find a local doughnut run. Basically, this is a 5K with donut stops. The first donut you eat takes 15 seconds from your overall time, the second takes 30, and for each successive donut the time bonus increases 15 seconds. So if you eat, say, 5 donuts, 3:45 comes off your finishing time. Think you could break 15 minutes?

Suffice to say I won't start training seriously for either event before I finish Napa, but we all have dreams.

Monday, February 9, 2009


it's official, the last of the long training runs is in the books. freaking finally! We did 23 on Saturday, Coyote Creek trail. Much nicer than I'd thought it would be, it gets so dang hot in the summer but right now it is lush. For a long flat run it isn't bad...

as for the run itself, well my fears were justified. It's been a heavy week, with 13 on Sunday, 7 Tuesday and 6 at the track Thursday, and my legs were beat up going into this one. I hung onto a brisk pace for about 16 miles, but slowed considerably towards the end, finishing the entire 23 with an 8:30 average. Still and all it was a good week, totalling 49 miles. I'm ready to bring it down a bit, race like hell in a few weeks, and then switch out the shoes for the bike for a little while.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Gettin' inside my head

Ack, 23 miles tomorrow and I am freaking NERVOUS. This one is looong, longer than I really feel ready for. It's my 3rd 20 plus, though, I'm ready, right???

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Note on this week's workouts (last big run week)

I worked pretty hard Sunday at the SF Half Marathon and was expecting this week's workouts to be sub-par. Still, mentally I needed to try to hit the schedule, which called for an 8 mile tempo run (7 at 7:30 pace) and 10x400 at 1:35.

Tempo was Tuesday, but I wasn't a stickler for time or distance since Sunday was basically a 7:34 tempo pace for 13.1 miles. I got through 7 of the 8 miles at about 7:45 pace without too much strain. The Intervals also went well, hit 9 out of 10 on pace, with the fastest being 1:31 and repeat #3 being at 1:37. Mentally it was good to get through these workouts, because this is the stage where missing a workout affects my mental as much as my physical condition. Not good to leave excuses on the table, e.g. "I might not run as well as I could since I missed a few workouts last month." I have one last long run this weekend and then we taper. Taper on this program is not that light however:

Week 3:

Heavy Track session: 8 x 800 @3:13 (1:30 rest)
6 mile tempo, 5 @ 7:29
13 miles @8/mile

Week 2:

5 x 1000@ 4:03 (400 Rest)
6 mile temp: 2 easy; 3 @ 7:14; 1 easy
10 miles @ 8/mile

Week 1:

6 x 400 @1:35
3 mile run, 1 easy, 2@8/mile

I'm feeling ready now, but I like the taper in this program. If I include a bit more biking I should feel great.

And now a note on the economy:

This feels like very historic times we're in. As an economics major I've always had a bias that, in general, deregulation and allowing the market to work were most always the right choice - you know, good old-fashioned capitalism. For as long as I can remember those in charge of our country have felt relatively the same way. So what happens when we see a recession this big, caused by what could be called a lack of regulation? Do market principles no longer apply? Did the market fail us or was it something less benign? In my attempts to better understand these questions, and move my focus away from the personal misery so many are feeling and try to think about it at a higher-level, I've been listening to Bloomberg's "on the Economy" podcasts, which i highly recommend. The podcasts are occasionally sobering, but always interesting. This is a time when economists will be scrambling to answer some big questions and this program has some of the best minds I've heard in awhile.

Yesterday's program with James K. Galbraith was focused on the less benign side. He makes a serious argument that conservatives have really abandoned the market and grabbed control of government as a means of generating more wealth for a highly select and protected class. Get a sense for that in this article:. let's just say I love the title: "The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Kaiser Permanente SF Half Marathon Report

The tune-up race is in the books and I have to be pleased with the results. My goal for this race was to go under 1:40, and with a 1:39:20 I met that. In terms of what I had hoped to accomplish, I am definitely on track; at the same time, I am am wondering just how predictive this race will be on my Napa marathon. I'm running as well as I'd expected, and hope to really take advantage of my current training base at Napa.

I met up with my friend Kalei in the morning and we got to the line with plenty of time to spare. It was an uneventful morning which is always good: had a good breakfast, slept well enough and felt ready. It took us both about one and a half minutes from race start to cross the line, and from there we ran together for awhile. He went up the road aways and I stayed relaxed, choosing not to spend energy winding around the runners - the course was quite tight in the beginning.

My first mile was my slowest, which is always good sign - I like to stay relaxed in the beginning and not let the adrenaline take over. It took me over 8 minutes to get past mile 1. As we wound through the park I clicked off a series of 7:30 to 7:40 miles, and then tried to pick up some time on the downhills as we headed to Ocean Beach (mile 7). Mile 6 was sub 7:20, and mile 7 was 7:26.

Running along the ocean is a bit of a mental challenge as the course is straight out on Ocean beach for nearly 3 miles, and then back along the same course. I tried to quiet my mind and keep pace. Things went well here as I maintained a 7:25 to 7:35 pace along this stretch and felt really strong. I think the hammer gel and caffeine were working together to overcome the fatigue. At the turn I saw Kalei on his way back, and used that as motivation to keep working. I caught up with him at mile 11, a bit surprising as he had expected to run 1:46 and actually went 1:41. Mile 12 was 7:24, so pace was strong. The last two miles I simply shut my mind off and worked. There is a climb at the end of the course for about 1/3 of a mile, and I was able to push past a bunch of folks on this stretch which was a nice surprise. Then like that it was done, 1:40: 50 on the gun, 1:39:19 start-to-finish.

From now to Napa, on the training side I will keep up the weekly track sessions along with a 23 miler next Saturday. I would like to be lighter than I am, but haven't had any weight-loss success and am still tipping 180.

I have to admit to coming to a conclusion during the first couple of miles of this race: headphones and races DO NO MIX and I am now in favor of banning them, as Napa is doing. In the beginning of this race, too many runners were not able to hear me coming from behind and it made passing quite difficult. In addition, I'm convinced that there is some cocooning effect that the iPod has on the runner. The headsetted runners just didn't run straight, didn't look back to merge, and basically were a nuisance. I felt like a grumpy old man for awhile and though I held my tongue I am now venting...

One more nit I have to pick: my time is not recorded in the official results. Don't worry, I have witnesses, but still a bit of a disappointment.

Other notes:
+ even though I ran with a 10 oz watter bottle I still didn't even drink that whole thing. I will need to do better at the marathon. On a long run I drink at least 40 oz...
+ I loved not having to deal with the water stops. that in itself made the belt worthwhile
+ My favorite piece of the belt is the gel bottle. So much better to take a shot of gel out of a bottle than dealing with the little pouch
+ Per Hawk's advice I didn't wear a hat for the first time in a long while. I think that definitely kept some heat off
+ re-connected with Arbin, my old Intel running partner, at the finish. Will hook up with him at Napa
+ I have to confess to a bit of wistfulness when comparing my times to a few friends: Chloe's former teach Monique Tobbagi continues to tear it up, running a 1:34; Luca Fasoli, a guy who's first marathon was 4:20, went 1:28 and is working towards another sub 3 hour effort this year. He really preaches the track work...
+ this week's track session will be interesting: 10 x 400 at 1:35. Short, intense pain, here it comes!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ouch, what was that?

It's that time in training: the point at which the workouts stack up, the niggling aches and pains surface, and the doubt creeps in. It's also that time where I live by the watch, with every workout being a benchmark of my conditioning and speed. No long aimless runs in the hills, no 5 miles around the block; break out the Garmin and measure your pace as often as possible (hey when will we be able to project our pace on the inside of our sunglasses?).

It's also a time to run alone on these days, as I like to prioritize hitting the pace vs getting in a social run.

Today's workout was 11 miles at marathon pace, which is 8 min/mile. I didn't have trouble with the pace, aerobically I wasn't working too hard. But my knee is still hurting from the 20 miles I did on Saturday. It was painful from 3 miles on, not a grit your teeth and try not to stop pain, just the level of pain that tells you not to tempt fate.

My back hurts too. Sore all the time. At night it takes me a few seconds to stand up straight. It isn't so bad that I can't get through it, that I know. No killer injuries, just normal pain after going 20. But it made getting through today's workout a challenge, mentally and physically.

Hopefully the rest of the week will be fairly uneventful. I have a track session Thursday (3 x 1 mile a 6:40) and the Kaiser Permanente Half in SF on Sunday. That should be fun, I know probably 10 or more runners and look forward to seeing them on the course. This race is perfect for that due to the out and back along Ocean Beach. Goal time is 1:40, which is doable but will definitely be an effort. PR for the distance is 1:32 but that was 10 years ago, so I don't plan to get back there immediately... Race prep tomorrow, race report coming.

IN OTHER NEWS: So what do we think of Obama so far? He conducted his first TV interview of his presidency this week, and he chose an Arab network.

Part 1
Part 2

He is definitely acting quickly, apparently signing executive orders during the inauguration. The interesting thing is that this meltdown may give him the same support for tighter regulations that Bush had for clamping down on national security post 9-11. Economists and conservatives will be chomping at the bit to criticize the rollbacks in free-market poicies, matched with economic stimulus, but they will have to bide their time, there is no political support for laissez faire ideas at the moment, who wants to trust the free market to get us out of this mess?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In other alternative sports news....

+ It's the year of the comeback at the Amgen Tour of California. A long list of accused and or convicted dopers will make their "triumphant" returns to the peloton in the hills of California:

Ivan Basso
Floy Landis
Tyler Hamilton
That guy on Astana who would likely sue me if I wrote his name on my blog.
No comment from the Ulrich camp.

This will be one great race.

+ The Home Depot has discontinued its practice of hiring Olympic hopefuls to work part-time while training. Is 2012 the year that china finally overtakes us in the medal count

+ US Soccer fans enjoyed a 3-2 beatdown of the Swedes tongiht. Get on board now, next game is versus Mexico

+ A very respectable week for me as I round into marathon shape:
- half-marathon pace run (7:30) for 6 miles on Tuesday, not too diffcult
- 1000 and 2000 meter repeats on Thursday at 6:28 and 6:44 pace on Thursday
- 20 miles at 8:25 today
- Plus master's swim class (got to do that more often) and a spinning class

+ Next week is a heavy week, with 11 miles of marathon pace and about 4 miles of track work, then the Kaiser Permanente Half on Sunday. Goal time will be sub 1:40, let's see where we stand...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Things no one needs to tell you

Still, having the data is helpful, cuz God knows I'm tempted:

A group of Swiss investigators have shown that adding a small amount of alcohol to your sports drink produced a "significant decrease" in performance while forcing a higher "heart rate response and perceived exertion." We recommend the Swiss next try adding chocolate to a sports drink; it seems more their style and more likely to improve performance. On the other hand, a highly regarded British team found that caffeine added to a sports drink improved an endurance time trial performance by 4.6 percent when compared to a carb-only sports drink, and by 9 percent when compared to water. Those are big numbers in sports performance.
Source for Alcohol study: Alcohol Alcohol (we're not making this up).
Source for Caffeine study: Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The things we carry

I set a new record for drops today. First, my key popped out of my back pocket. Despite claims to the contrary, my hearing is very accute and so I stopped when I heard the sound of the key hitting the gravel. Lucky. That would have been a disaster. About 2 miles later, a women rode up from behind with my glove, which I had dropped as well. How I missed the sound of that falling I'll never know. And finally, the water bottle popped off my belt probably four times. Each time was a nice excuse to stop for a moment, but after 10 or so miles it gets tough to bend over and pick my stuff up off the trail.

We ran through the Guadalupe downtown trail, which is a surprisingly nice weekend trail. It has a bit of a "San Jose downtown" feeling as we run past junkyards, Alviso, the airport, the homeless encampments on the river, etc. It's quiet, flat, and with no traffic there is little smog. Today I did 16 at about 8:15 to 8:30 pace. It was more of a "long fartlek" since we were constantly yo-yoing between the prescribed slow pace (8:30) and a 7:30 pace, which for some in the group feels more natural (I can hang but it feels quick...). Thank God for GPS watches - whenever things got too quick someone would look at their watch (occasionally prompted by yours truly) and recommend an easier pace. Ian had the route downloaded on his watch and it kept us right no track, very nice feature and, well, I FREAKING WISH I HADN'T LOST MY GARMIN!!! Ahem...

Today was also the day to break the news of my lack of employment to the group. This is not an easy thing for me but it is beoming more natural and quite necessary since we never know where our next job will come from. Maybe I'll start carrying my resume with me on these runs too.

Which beings me back to the title of today's post. The point here is that as I've gotten back to long runs, I've become much more self-contained, preferring to bring gear with me and not sweat the extra poundage. Today's list is a bit shorter than normal as the weather was a bit warmer, but here it is, with a tip of the hat to Tim O'Brien:

1) wicking "muscle shirt" champions brand from target. Possibly my favorite running shirt ever and also one of the cheapest at less than $12 bucks. They need to stick to solids though, black, grey or navy. Their color combos are hideous.
2) Long-sleeve Big Sur Marathon Shirt
3) Sugoi Short Tights. I've switched to short tights for the long runs to help with groin pain
4) Asics socks
5) New Asics 2130s, bought for just $54.99 at Sports Authority
+ A quick not to the Brooks Adrenaline. They have been my favorite shoes in a long time. My last pair was also a favorite. They wear great, they are comfortable, the fit is perfect for me, and stability is apparently just what I need
6) Super Feet Insoles
7) Acrylic gloves, light cheap and warm enough
8) Amphipod belt loaded with
+ 1 ten ounce bottle of H20
+ 1 ten ounce bottle of Accelerade (whatever flavor we have at the moment)
+ 1 five ounce bottle of Hammer Gel (4 ounces gel, 1 ounce water to make it easier to drink. I am SOLD on this method of Gel intake and it is the main reason I will wear a belt at the Napa Marathon for the first time ever - I hate opening gel packs and sucking half the gel, then carrying them for 15 minutes and sucking the rest, then stuffing the sticky empty in my shorts for lack of a convenient trash can. See, I can change!)
9) Descente Ear Wrap. Perfect weight for a day like today, warm enough to keep the chill off, easy to stick in the belt when it warms up
10) Five Salt Stick Salt Tablets
11) 1 Ibuprofen
12) $5 (actually I forgot to carry $$ today, but usually I do)
13) 1 NUUN electrolyte replacement tablet that goes into a 10 ounce bottle when I refill
14) Car Key
15) Nike running hat

No MP3 player today since I was running with a group. No Nike running vest either (I love that thing).

I think that's everything, so I guess dropping stuff once in awhile is forgivable.

Heavy week: 19.5 miles on Saturday, which took over five hours due to a very hilly course; 1 x 11 mile marathon pace at 8 min/mile; Spinning Class Monday; 4.5 track miles, 6 x 1200 at ~5 minutes each Tuesday(that one was tough); and 16 flat today at steady pace. I should've gotten in a swim day or another ride but, well, I didn't.

As my son Graham said to our Italian cousin last night: "Ciao for now!"