Monday, June 27, 2011

Bulldog Trail Run Training

With my friend R. we attacked the Bulldog Trail in Malibu Creek Park in an attempt to do back to back long runs. The course itself has some serious elevation and we were hoping to prep for the Bulldog 50k in August. The trail itself has a few nice looking points. The first and most famous being the MASH site from the TV series about the Korean War (I thought it was Vietnam but was corrected) and then the actual top of bulldog there are a few interesting rock formations. One of the rocks is called elephant rock and it seriously looks like an elephant eyes and all. Day one we completed the 14 mile loop and day two (heat training day) we cut it down to 8 miles. I was in no condition to attack it. B was in good shape and he def held back for me, but I was hurting a lot. I had gone out and celebrated Saturday night…the Gold Cup Final…Western States 100…and subsequently a show in LA that ended with last call at a bar, ergo visa vi id est no bueno on the hydration front.

On the trail we did see a group of 3 guys who passed up on the uphill who were all minimalist (2 Merrell Trail Gloves 1 NB Minimus). The trail is very technical at some points and the downhill with its loose footing must have been tough with minimal shoes. One of them was running up the hill at an impressive gait the other two were valiantly pushing but I am not sure if they were aware of uphill distance or of the amount of effort they were expending. One of them dropped back and B and I caught up to him. He had almost run out o water and there would be none for a few more miles. Two of them had packs and one only a handheld and the pack guys were up the trail and probably waiting for their friend. I filled the struggling runner’s bottle and gave him a gel and B gave him some salt caps. He was really struggling and it just reminded me of how many times I have struggled. I actually saw them again later in the day. At the top of Bulldog we thought they were not going to come down because we simply did not see them for a while. But I saw them on the drive away from the trail…they were out there for a while.

Things learned…
Don’t skimp on water on new trails.
Don’t expect all trail users to be well prepared to better to over prepare.
Enjoy it.
If running form goes dodo and you notice it happening ease back into proper form (per R.).
Humility is a trail runners best friend, keeps you smart and alive.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 Western States Info and Predictions

This weekend is the Western States Endurance Run. In case you did not know this is the one race that I really hope to someday take part of (and get me a belt buckle). As Boston is to the marathon, as Kona is to the Ironman, Augusta to Golf so is the Western States to Ultra Marathons. It is pretty much the Godfather of Ultras. I know that’s a big claim and I get pretty excited about it..but here is a little history and my predictions.

In 1955, Wendell T. Robbie started a horse race from the Squaw Valley to Auburn to show you could still cover 100 miles in one day on horseback. This race also was known as the Tevis Cup “100 miles - One Day” Ride.

In 1974, Gordy Ainsleigh joined the horses to see if he could complete the course on foot; 23:42 later he arrived in Auburn and the Western States was born.

1977, 14 runners participated in the first Official Western States Endurance Run and now a few decades later the race is the arguable the Mecca of Ultra Marathons. There is so much demand by runners to challenge the 100 mile course that a lottery system for entrants was established.

2011, one of the deepest most competitive fields in the history of this race is descending on the Squaw Valley. The athletes running this year have won 50mi and 100mi races and many of them have set course records during their wins. Examples are Goeff Roes winning the Western States last year in 15:07 (~9 min miles) or Ian Sharman destroying the field and the course record at the Rocky Raccoon 100 Miler finished in 12:44 (under 8 min miles for 100 miles !!!). These athletes compete at a level that some of us only can dream of on trails where heat, snow, dehydration and wild animals are a constant threat with nothing guaranteed.

Below are my picks in order for both the men and women. It is going to be fun to follow and I expect amazing.

Kilian Jornet
Goeff Roes
Nick Clark
Hal Koerner
Jez Bragg
David Mackey
Ian Sharman
Tsuyoshi Kaburaki
Masters Winner: Tsuyoshi Kaburaki

Ellie Greenwood
Anita Ortiz
Tracy Garneau
Joelle Vaught
Amy Sproston
Aliza Lapierre
Kami Semick
Nikki Kimball
Masters Winner : Meghan Arboghast


Friday, June 17, 2011

Nathan HPL #028 Race Vest Review

The first time I saw this vest was at the American River 50. A few people were using them to store their gels and extras and running pretty light meanwhile I was sloshing around with 3L on my back. The light bulb went off and I realized that I could have carried a handheld for this race because the stretches between aid stations were manageable without having to carry as much fluid. I did my research and found that Nathan had discontinued the pack. NOOOOO!

Naturally the fact that it is discontinued made me want it even more. In trail running I have discovered trails cannot be run the same way. Some trails will push your physical limits and others your nutrition limits. #028 fits in that happy place where you can carry all you need but not bog yourself down with the water weight or if you prefer to run with handhelds. I said this pack was discontinued…why review it? Well I emailed Nathan directly asking if it was coming back and/or if they had one in the back somewhere. I never got a reply from them but a few days later dirtdawg50k tweeted that Zombie Runner had them in stock. So I picked one up.

First Impression
It weighs nothing. I can fold this vest and fit it in a pocket. Guaranteed this is going into all drop bags from now until forever because its light, takes little space and is versatile.

-Lightweight: 4.5 oz. = 4.5 oz. remnant of the overpriced warm beer you’ll simply not let go of, nurse status.

-Material - Breathable mesh - you can sweat a ton and this will keep the air flowing.

-Vertically adjustable sternum strap and adjustable side straps. This system is the Pythagorean Theorem of pack adjustment. No one cares how much theory and thought went into making it…but we all know it and it works.

-Dual front essential pockets - 1 mesh, 1 zippered

-Power Stretch Mesh back pocket for stowing jacket, gloves, and/or sleeves and has a reflective logo for those early morning/ late night runs.

When travelling to Chicago I elected this pack because of its versatility and weight. I knew running in a new city I would take pictures (camera) but I would have to have all the essentials (salt, gels, first aid kit, phone) because you never know what the climate (96 and Humid then thunderstorm) will do to you. The vest did not disappoint. I even used to run with Ray from the Geeks in Running Shoes podcast. The vest was light and I could adjust while on the move which is a big boost since I never felt I lost time or momentum. I have also taken it on trail runs and it has performed well. If you are a handheld runner but need more space than the credit card size pocket most handhelds give this is a product with your name on it (figuratively unless you own a sharpie).

Love the vest. It is a go to for me for night running when I am going a short distance but need to carry a headlamp. The only thing I would add to it is a waterproof pouch (like the new Endurance Pack) for salt caps. Besides that it is a perfect vest for its niche.

Monday, June 13, 2011


Lived in the late 6th and early 5th centuries BC. He is mostly remembered as one of the first Greeks who advanced the theory of monotheism (via implication not explicitly). However one of his most famous testimonia (fragments, likely poems) is B34:

…and of course the clear and certain truth no man has seen
nor will there be anyone who knows about the gods and what I say about all things.
For even if, in the best case, one happened to speak just of what has been brought to pass,
still he himself would not know. But opinion is allotted to all.

This fragment may be what got the “opinion” vs. “truth” ball rolling. Philosophy tended to stick to observation and wonder, but the distinction between “what is” and “what you think it is” quickly took center stage. Plato argues with the Sophist until the cows came home. Sophists argued to win via rhetoric and classic philosophers argued to learn via truth…today we deal with the same nuance.

Many times we see our own opinion as truth…because “I really know what happened” (sure buddy). The fact is, even if present the complete truth still hides from view. How do we reconcile this? The two extremes are (1) hide under rock never look anywhere but ourselves for truth or (2) live so free that the amount of “truths” is overwhelming and never believe anything. There is of course…moderation. We can accept there are valid points of view that may be different than our own. Acknowledgment that something is valid and has value does not mean you make it your own.

Many athletes have a different lifestyle than mine but want to achieve similar physical and health goals. It does not make their method or mine any better or worse, simply different. Example; crazy hippie vegans, they don’t eat meat or animal products which is fine. I love me some Carne Asada grilled on the BBQ with some garlic salt and beer as prep. Not their style. We both want to live healthy happy lives; I simply go about it a different more delicious way (in my opinion). I am sure they say the same about me. We have different opinions, but is it a different truth all together or just splitting hairs? Ultimately we both want to be healthy and happy so where is the rub?

Food for thought (animal products may or may not be included)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Running / Walking Form Chat

When I nerd out and talk “running form” and “minimalism” it tends to be with other runners, i.e. preaching to the choir.  Last night I spent a little over 2 hours chatting with my dad about running form.  He has recently started walking in the afternoons and we stumbled upon the topic when I told him there were runners who cut the heels of their shoes off to make them as flat as possible.  We talked about Kilian Jornet’s Quests particularly how he seemingly flies downhill, Anton Krupicka’s running form that looks like he is cruising (in reality he is crazy fast) and David Goggins who is a Badwater Ultramarathon winner.  What do all of them have in common?  They land with a bent knee and their muscles not their knees take the impact all the while being efficient so there is no wasted movement.  The coolest part of our conversation is that he noticed they were not stuck up people.  They all seemed to be pretty down to earth guys that just put in the work.  We discussed how an ultra marathon will humble anyone no matter how much of a stud they think they are.  It was nice to share with my dad about things I am passionate about and that he was able to get into it a little.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Unbreakable: The Western States 100 - Journeyfilm Official Trailer

Running Chicago - AVON Walk

The AVON walk against Breast Cancer this weekend faced brutal humid heat and even rain.  First of all, the AVON walk is a wonderful event that raised a lot of funds for breast cancer awareness and research.  Walkers were treated to a marathon on Saturday and a half-marathon on Sunday.  Nope, I did not envy them at all.  The conditions were unlike anything I had ever been in…walking outside felt as if I was wearing a parka in a sauna.  I am amazed at the amount of support the walkers received from everyone including bystanders.  The Chicago population was very supportive of the walkers and I think the organizers did a great job in putting on the event.  There were a lot of blisters, sore legs, and water was flowing…but everyone was having a great time cruising around town brining attention to the fight against cancer.  What was my part in this? I was a human shopping cart, cheerer extraordinaire and general well wisher.  Admittedly, I did not do the best job but for a first time crew person but I gave it my best shot.  Hopefully next time I am able to help out some more.  On with the jogging talk.

I was able to get some running in because I was following the AVON route and I was able to meet up with Ray from the Geeks in Running Shoes Podcast on Sunday.  Chicago is a very cool place to run.  I expected to dislike running in the city because I am more of a trail nerd, but the impressive architecture and generally nice people won me over.  I snapped a lot of pictures of buildings and even got a chance to run along Lake Michigan (which is huge).  I ran with Ray for 1.5 hours roughly and I am still incredulous that it snows there because of the gnarly heat wave.  I ran with my new pack the Nathan #28.  It’s a pack designed to carry stuff and to be used with handhelds instead of a hydration bladder.  This design worked well in Chicago because I could re-fill at water fountains along the lake and it saved on weight.  Talked with Ray for a long time about running and the running community definitely would like to go back to Chicago sometime, maybe a marathon or the Mojo Loco Chicago but who knows…for now its San Francisco prep, which reminds me..i should work out the details about staying up there sooner rather than later.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Training Update - Next Race SF Marathon

This weekend I was pretty bad in regards to training and diet. It was Memorial Day weekend so the mental calorie intake regulator (i.e. brain) took the weekend off. I am feeling a bit on the sluggish side but happy. A calm and restful weekend to kick start training for the SF marathon was just what the doctor ordered. S. and I also had a chance to take my nephews (4 and 2) to the park. It was really fun to see them run wild and then after some eye rubbing knock out for the night.

The marathon itself is 9 weeks away and I am hoping to shave some time off of my current marathon PR, which is a touch under 5 hours. The original intention with the marathon was to go sub- 4 hours. I have come to a place in my running where the marathon time is not as important to me as the experience. Sidenote: this week on 3 Non Joggers (podcast) I finally listened to the piece on the Western States 100. It made me tear up because I understand where Russ is coming from. When asked why anyone would run an ultra marathon there really is no answer. Unless you have given it a shot and been out there at the aid stations it is hard to imagine; friendly and personal yet lonely and alien all at the same time. More specifically why I do… I have no clear cut reason. I do it for the community, the feeling for being close to the edge, pushing the limits of my endurance, dropped on my head as a child…no se…anyway I digressed.

I only have one official marathon time and trying to run the distance better will be good for me to build up some speed for the buildup for the Rockin’ River in October.  Everyone who I have spoken to says that it is a very scenic course that offers amazing views of SF. The caution for everyone is that the course is very “hilly”. I am not going to take that survey lightly. When I read Bishop Race reports I thought “sandy” trails were nothing to worry about and I was dead wrong. So I will learn my lessons and hopefully put in a good albeit short training cycle.