Sunday, December 23, 2012

Low Key Week, Except For The Sprained Ankle

This has to be one of the most boring weekends in a long time. On Thursday I pulled a bonehead maneuver and tripped running dogs downstairs in my building. I was rewarded with a sprained ankle and some rug burns on my arm. No running for a few days, although tomorrow I'll test the waters a bit.

Update: Arrgh! 4 1/2 miles and now my ankle feels broken. Christmas day and I can't even walk. Bonehead maneuver 2...

I probably needed the break anyway. My body needs rest seeing how I've tortured it  for the past 51 weeks!
Hopefully I'll feel re-energized after a few days off. 

I'll do some light running, biking and core work outs for this week and then start hitting it hard again January 1st.

I signed up for the Oakland Marathon in March, San Francisco in June and thinking possibly the Santa Rosa just to make sure I get a chance to qualify for the Boston Marathon in 2014. The costs of race registration have gotten to a point where they're breaking the bank. The good thing though is I have a premium membership with "Strava" and I can still compete on a virtual level. It really helps with the motivation. I'm going to start hunting down the leader board ladies and gentlemen going into the new year. 

I have to say it's been quite an experience getting into running this year. I hope to get a good balance of running and bike this year and with the racing experience over the last few months, I'm feeling more confident and hope to take it up a notch.

My New Years resolution is get a better grip on life, financially, athletically and just pull myself together and become more disciplined and dedicated to my goals.

I've met some amazing people over this past year. I feel inspired and bit humbled. The North Face Challenge Marathon was a huge event for me. It was the toughest and I felt like I was involved in something so much bigger than anything I've ever experienced before athletically.
Yesterday I received a package containing a cool running hat and note congratulating me on placing in my age group! That was a good feeling.

Update: "Buzz Burrell" 60 year old trail blazer, who kicked my ass at the NFC 26.2, facebooked me back today and congratulated me and said "let's meet some time when I'm up that way"! FUCK YEAH! That was a nice Christmas present.

Well there you have it...a very boring week aside from the dogs we've had all week which, has made it somewhat lively at times...

Here's our favorite guest "Charlie"!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Finite Existence and Riding Ronster Style!

Today the plan was to ride with my friend Ron over to the Marin Headlands (some serious climbing) then, on to Tiburon for lunch and hoping to do this all before the rain came.

The reality of our "finite existence" seemed to be the ongoing theme repeating it's self over and over in my head today. Along with the tragedy in Newtown CT. yesterday which my mind is finding it impossible to come to terms with, It has finally come to a time where revisiting an old dark shadow from the past would be impossible to avoid.

I have not ridden the Marin Headlands since the mid 90's. I did run a Marathon there two weeks ago. "The North Face Endurance Challenge". So, when Ron mentioned this week about doing a ride there on Saturday, I decided it was time to go back there again to enjoy that scenic and challenging place.
Courtesy Rons Photo

The Dark Past: 
Through the late 80's and into the 90's there was one particular friend of mine who I basically rode to the Moon and back with. For a period of two years we rode every bike century and a couple of double century rides together. We joined the same bike club and kept up a close friendship together with his wife and my wife riding with us a lot of the times.
He had a bit of a crazy side to him. Loved the downhill speed and was always trying to do one better on the descents.

As it goes so many times in life, friends get involved in other people and places and my life and work situation forced me to drift away from the the bike people who together with, I had spent so many years rolling through thousands of miles of beautiful Northern California.

Around July 1997 I got a call from one of the old bike group members. She was shaken to the core and was barely able to get out the news to me that my friend had died in a horrific bike crash going down the backside of the Marin Headlands descent.
This was the first time that "a friend" had un-expectantly passed away. It was a reality check, a wake up call and realization how death could be so devastating to people who are close.

Over the years I just could not bring myself to revisit the site where he lost control of his bike and met an untimely fate. It just weird-ed me out and I had to put it out of my mind for for probably too long...Until now.

As we began the climb from the Golden Gate bridge I began to feel some anxiety and queasiness... We descended down the backside and eased into that infamous turn...

As it turned out as I rode my brakes and took it all in. I felt only a sadness and actually looked at it analytically realizing how this happened and how easy it could happen to someone who took these type of extreme chances in life.
I thought how much I missed those times riding with him and experiencing the challenges together. He was with me when I won my first race, first century and first double century.
Such a tragic thing in such a beautiful spot. I forgot about how majestic and serene this amazing place can be.
Here I am now riding with another great friend (who I don't worry about as much).

The good thing is, I've moved on now. Come to terms with something that has been hidden away for too long.
Such is life. We get past these horrible moments in life and do the best we can to not let it happen again.

Everything must pass...

The Ride: Ganghem Style with Ron

I met up with Ron at Sports Basement, as always so good to see my friends. Since the weather held no promises, I think most of the sane people decide to stay home and keep dry.
Not a Hell of a lot of tourists crisscrossing the bike paths or the bridge way. It was quite cold but after the Bridge we began the ascent to the top of the Headlands and warmed up pretty quickly.
I was surprised at how much easier the climb was on my one speed. Probably from all the running and building a lot more core strength in the past few months.

Seeing the bunkers, gun turrets and feeling the echoes of the war years gone by brought back those feelings of finality and futility. What's that shit all about I think to myself. I don't get it. This human drive to annihilate one another and ourselves. I'm so lucky to not have gone through all of that like my father did...Wait a minute...I am and we are all still going through this. It never ends...

Man, I just want to get off my bike now and RUN! I love this area and all the beautiful trails.
Finally we head down towards Sausalito and out along the bike paths sloppy from the "King tides" we've experienced this week.

We make good time rounding the loop and as we come back into Tiburon Center I realize I'm getting a flat in my rear tire.
We decide to stop at our favorite halfway restaurant "Casa Manana". Great call. Delicious meal. I fix my flat and it's getting really cold and starting to rain, we head out.
At this point I'm ready to be done. I don't do rain very well. I actually promised myself I would never ride in it for the rest of my life...I lied!
We blasted through Sausalito and up the grind to the Bridge. I was passing a lot of riders so I knew I was making good time.
When I crossed the bridge I only saw one person coming towards me. Pretty amazing for a Saturday!

I met up with Ron back at Sports Basement. The last time I did this ride with Him I adopted a dog at a mobile adoption event there and this is what I went home with...

My little Layla at Sports Basement, almost exactly 2 years ago.

This time I rolled in and lo and behold...Doggies!

Unfortunately or fortunately how ever you look at it they were someone else's dogs so, not a chance for me to claim them.

Oh well, you win some you lose some.

We did close to 50 miles for the day, got completely soaked but it was well worth it and I was able to move through a painful memory and come out the other-side with a better perspective and a shot of confidence to boot!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Year Of Personal Goals Completed

A week ago today I had the great fortune to participate in the North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon. It was an event where I finally reached the pinnacle of personal success following a year of hard work, sacrifice, pain and some pretty neat accomplishments along the way.

As I wrap up a year long foray into the the world of running (something I never would have thought I would experience or be interested in the least). I'm happy to say that this year has truly been a life changing adventure and  turned out to be one of the tipping points and created a giant change in my life. 

Since my early teens when I suffered the embarrassment of coming in dead last in my small towns annual 4th of July four mile running race, after which I swore to myself I would never ever run again and turned to the bicycle and guitar as my go to escape vehicles.

Jump ahead a million years...

One year ago I just happened to be on a 24 hour fitness "expletive deletive" treadmill due to the fact all the crappy lifecycles were occupied as usual! I thought to myself?

"I wonder if I can actually run a mile"?

Cyclists in general hate to run. At least that's what the consensus seems to point to.

The next time at the gym.

"I wonder if I can run 2 miles at 8:30 pace"?

Then, the following week while heading into mile 4 on the treadmill.

"I wonder if I can run a Marathon in six months"?

"I wonder if I can run the Boston Marathon when I'm 60"?
"Who's this -Dean Karnazes-"

...and so it begins...

Cycling, in the beginning really was all I needed. At the age of 17 I saved up all the money I earned bagging groceries, flipping hamburgers and mowing lawns to finally accumulate enough money to head down to "Quinn s Service Station" in downtown Hingham (New England) and finally purchase that (crappy) french racing bike I'd had my eyes on for the past year. Even though it was a big piece of shit right down to the stupid uniquely French threading and parts, I found my heaven!
I'd ride 10 miles to and from Burger King and everyone would think I was crazy. I started riding into Boston during my days off without telling my Mom and Dad then cruising the city streets just for the thrill. 17 miles there and 17 back! I felt like the Cat's Meow...

When I finally got to California I landed a job as a "Bike Messenger". At the time I thought, I've found my dream job. Little did I know. You can't make a living on it...Next!

I got an almost real job and started club riding and racing at an amateur level through the 80's. Around 1990 I fell back into my involvement with writing and playing music...oops drugs/alchohol, got deeply in debt, began driving a cab which had me "spinning my wheels"for a decade, gaining a considerable amount of weight (borderline obese) and sliding into the deepest darkest depression which nearly killed me!

On top of it all I had put a lot of personal problems and issues which I had been dealing with most of my life on the back burner but, unfortunately were simmering, growing worse and finally coming back to bite me big time!

...and so began the rebuilding. Inspired, determined, I began again with losing 45 Lbs. in 3 months, club riding, racing, centuries, double centuries and so on.

From 2002 to 2007 became my personal apocalypse inter-weaved with some grandiose athletic achievements, amazing musical creativity and culminating in a life threatening illness which took me 2 years to come back from followed by the 2008 financial meltdown, another huge bout of depression, shutting down from friends and family, working myself to the bone for nothing, moving from building to building, salary cuts and on and on and on...

Then came my dogs...

That changed me. Innocent, loving, honest beings that needed me in every way. They loved me un-conditionally, they were there in good times and bad. This all happened at the right time. They took the focus off of my own misery and somehow in a strange way forced me out of myself and on a new path filled with some optimism, satisfaction and the  true person that I think I could be if I just put in the effort.
Sometimes I think if only I had children I may not have had to go through all this bullshit.
Unfortunately, genetics, my horrible self image and so many other issues tossed up just an overwhelming amount of red flags and killed that idea from the get go!

Here I am now. Some new direction, personal tragedies, including losing my beloved younger brother which is something I just can't seem to come to grips with (that just cut the legs out from under me), more and more beautiful animals in my care, a best friend who has been with me for almost 40 years, a whole new Universe of running, personalities, inspiration, adventures, discipline and hopefully onward and upward.

Maybe I will spend the rest of the month contemplating, building myself back up mentally and  physically and just flow with where 2013 takes me...

Who knows...

I just have to thank so many of you and you know who you are because I annoy you frequently. I'm working on it all and maybe by the time I'm laying in my deathbed I'll have figured it all out.
In the meantime...Enjoy the ride...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

North Face - Chasing Mindy...Rebel Girls Tearing It Up!

"What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Night before NorthFace Marathon
I hear the the loud belch from "Mindy the Foghorn" and I think "thank Dog we haven't hit any rocks yet".
I had been rabbit hunting "Mindy" or as I like to call her "Rabbit One" since around about mile  6 or 7. Rabbit hunting consists of keying into runners that run at about my pace or a little stronger. Most  of these rabbits (my title for them) end up being 20 to 40ish age women. Guys that run my pace most times tend to be weary of me and seem to know or feel they're being hunted down in fear of being vanquished which varies their pace too much. Woman I think feel less intimidated with this friendly old fart seemingly trying to keep up with them. The conversations are better too. The chattier the better. The banter keeps my mind off the pain in my body and is somewhat soothing like listening to music. I guess in almost 40 years of marriage I've grown accustomed to a woman's voice in one ear at all times. Women in a most consistent way have a metronome like rhythm which helps me stay on pace. At least that's how it feels. Woman are better to look at too, of course. By the way when these woman "chick me" in the end, they get the title "Raven" which means they've become warriors and choose to slay me! Such are the games I play in my head to get me through the many miles. I've met many, many Ravens in my year of running...

Around the first half Marathon split I passed Mindy for the 10th time and mentioned that we were making really great time for what we had already had to endure. Our split time was around 2:25. I told her to keep up the pace and we would do a 5 hour finish. She exploded with glee over the information!
"I was figuring I'd be out here for at least 7 hours"! she exclaimed.
Within the next 2 miles I realized how "Core" of a chick Mindy was.
She was a multiple "Leadville 100" Veteran mountain biker/runner from Colorado and began rapid fire list of her athletic accomplishments, her passion for her dog, outdoor life and good friends. As we moved along she would stir up conversation with many people we passed and just had a beautiful colorful personality.
We talked about racing diet and how I was now again suffering with nausea which seemed to be ebbing at this point after drinking some warm chicken broth and potatoes with salt. She laughed and said that most things just make her belch really loud! Around that time she let one rip which could easily be heard by every mariner within 100 miles!
Even though I would gain on her on most of the climbs, (I have a pretty long climbing stride). I could still keep track of how far she was behind me as she periodically signaled everyone around her.

As we finally crested the endless climb and began our descent down to what I believe to be "Pirates Cove" the real trail running began. Slippery, muddy and treacherous and this was just the beginning of a many miles of slop running.
Mindy would just be going on about how much fun this was which finally began to make me laugh and lose some of the anxiety about getting through all this. Before the turnaround there was a long, long descent which was just plain ridiculous! It was bascially a river of endless mud and moving water which we had to negotiate our way down with many runners returning up! I then realized how tough this would be on the return trip.
I had a high point on my way down when I looked up and saw the great "Sarah Lavender Smith", Bay area famous Ultra Runner/Writer. "Sarah's Blog Here"

I called out "Hey Sarah"! as I careened down the chute. I heard her say my name but didn't catch what she was saying as I turned my attention back to saving my own life. 

One observation at this point...I noticed a lot of runners had that "dead look" coming up the mud trail. A telltale sign that my wall was coming soon. When I finally made it to the bottom and the Muir Beach turnaround, I spent some time making sure to fill up on more chicken broth, potatoes, and some fruit. I also started hitting the cola, knowing I was soon going to be in need of sugar and caffeine.
In the time that I spent at the rest stop my rabbit Mindy was long gone back up the chute. The climb was intense and long and every step and foot placement had to be correct. At times I actually had trouble pulling my feet out of the mud suction. I also noticed I was developing hot spots on my left baby toe and under the ball of my foot. Obviously blisters from my Cascadia running shoes that I chosen to wear. I'm glad I did just for the fact of the fortified tread and extra sole protection. Just wish I had had another week or two to break them in before this run. The other issue I had in which was driving me crazy was that my shoelaces kept coming untied. Unlike my Pure Grits the laces were not crimped on the Cascadias and the moisture was allowing them to slip loose and now they were just covered with mud.
I'm learning more and more about these little things that need to be learned and the little skills you develop from experience. Trail running is an "art" and I enjoy this aspect of it. There are so many things to learn in so many way's. It makes me feel like how I feel when I'm writing music. It's all about details and creativity unique to oneself.
Let me change direction a little and mention someone I met earlier in the week...

I watched a trailer for a movie about Nikki Kimball that was truly inspirational. As I explored her resume...Shit! Amazing and it really hit me the balance of Mind, Spirit, Science and Reality!
I have so much to learn about life, people and human spirit and in this running, as like when writing music, I'm just seeing the tip of the iceberg...

I thought about her words, Dean Karnazes, Scott Jurek and so many more athletes that have inspired me in such a short time. A Universe and I'm in it now with both feet, like this viscous pudding in which I'm now up to my ankles in as I stand here...and begin again, chasing Mindy...

...After what seemed like an eternity I break away from the crowd behind me and push to the top and there she is! My silly wabbit! 

At this point I become self-centered and the pain is breaking me down. My hamstrings scream, my blisters are now full blown volcanoes of pain...I put the pain in it's place. I know what I need to do and  I center my focus into the core and push harder. I'm not even sure of the conversation with Mindy and somewhere through the running river of mud I lose her but when I finally get to the last major rest station i quickly go for exactly what I need and go! 

There she is! Rabbit number two. Since my brain is shutting down now I develop facial aphasia and for the life of me, I cannot remember her name so, I'll call her pink! (Pink jacket, with braids like Sarah Lavender Smith).

I strike up a conversation and I see in her very young face the "Death mask". She's finished and ready to be done with it. Her tempo is excellent as she negotiates the mounds of mud already traveled so many times.I talk to her about the wonderful future she has and at such a young age to be this focused this intently on her passions. 

I tell her about Sarah who she reminds me of and  my kidding Sarah about her braids with the catch phrase "Be afraid of the braid"!

I sense I'm melting down and lose track of what I'm talking about as I push even harder now as I pass the running zombies and "cat and mouse' them. Anything to keep me moving forward

I glance at my Garmin at the last water break, 4 miles, I grab two cola's and hammer down the last 2 mile descent as fast as possible. Flexors, hamstrings, blisters, back and ankles scream for me to stop. All the rabbits are gone and I'm on my own...

I think about my younger brother who is gone from this world, my wife who is wondering if I'm OK and the feast that awaits, my dogs waiting to greet me and lick off all the mud, my older brother, my Dad who is so proud of his middle son and I push. "Do not stop"..."Run"!
Maybe if I'm lucky I'll win my age group?

I see the road to the finish, the people cheering...Don't stop!

I'm a basket case, all systems begin to fail but I sprint with whatever I have left and I cross the finish and bow my head as the medal is slipped over my hat and around my neck.
I'm "shell shocked"...I made it.

I limp like a lobotomized Lizard through the slop to get my bearings. The idea of hanging out to meet some of the Ultra finishers, pick up my race shirt and converse with anybody is far removed now. I'm done. All I want is my free beer, by drop bag, the warm shuttle bus and cell reception...FINITO!

I finally track down my bag and realize I'm wearing my coat around my waist already. I zip up and struggle to the beer tent.
Suddenly I hear "HEY"! It's Pink! My rabbit two. She jumps up and gives me a huge hug!

Wish I could only remember her name. I think to myself. "I hope she has a wonderful life" and that short time we were together in a moment in time sharing our humanness will stay with me to my final day in this world...I'm so grateful. I wish her well and point to the beer tent...we snap a moment in time.

"HEY"!  It's Rabbit one! Mindy! Again, I'm lucky twice. I think, this is so cool. I just wish my mind was clear and I wasn't so trashed and able to think of something to say and I think she's feeling the same so we hug and snap another moment in time...

I love these "Rebel Girls tearing it up". 

What I expected from this challenge and what actually transpired are so far removed from what my mind was telling me a month ago.

No matter what your expectations are in life. Open yourself up and just let things happen the way the Universe intends...relax and just let things flow.


Onset of hypothermia at the start. Ankle deep in mud soaked to the bone.

Dean Karnazes counting down.

Tiny Hispanic girl who I kept running into for the first 12 miles and lost her soon after I met Mindy. Hope she made it OK. So many of her family there for her send off.

How beat up some of the 50 milers looked.

Realization of how ridiculous the climbing is in "Real" trail running.

The guy who beat me in my age group. Hated him for it till I read his resume! Holy Crap!... 
    Buzz Burrell 
He kicked my ass Big time!!! I am humbled before you. I wanna be like you when I grow two years!

So much more I could tell you...

Race results link

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Enchanted Forest In My Backyard...What a Lucky Guy

Since taking up running last January, I've settled into running a lot on trails. Trails are less boring, keep me engaged with nature and my surroundings, much less dangerous and with softer terrain forgiving on the feet and legs .
It's been an awakening to see such beauty and the amount of landscaping and design that has been going on in the past couple of years to beautify the National Seashore, Presidio and many of the trails that weave and meander through those areas. 

For training purposes it can't be beat. San Francisco is a runner, hiker paradise in such a small area. Kind of the equivalent of a "Velodrome" for trail runners!

I can easily get in a 20 mile run and barely touch pavement! The terrain and surfaces are quite variable, from mud loose sand, wood chip to hard pack and grass. I especially like the wood chip. It has a nice feel to it and is very forgiving.
I've been exploring over the last two weeks in the Presidio and just making new discoveries all the time. I researched some of the ongoing projects and unfortunately some of the grand ideas have been put on hold due to expenses including huge environmental impact studies, maybe too much public input to. Too many opinions from opinionated people tend to bog down just about any creative idea.

The timing has been great. I'm feeling a little more confident with trail running with all the experience I'm getting on my runs through the San Francisco forests and beach trails. Who would of thought.

Going into the Northface Endurance challenge this weekend I'm feeling a little more confident with my technique. Just hoping I can take the punishment over 26 miles and live to tell about it.

Thanks to smart phones with a built in "Dork Shot" mode for this one. Lined it up pretty well with that spikey stump...

I've been testing my Brooks Cascadia trail shoes. So far in two good runs I find them comfortable but, a bit clompy and a little on the heavy side. They just don't have the flexibility of my Brooks Pure Grits. The bottoms have a lot of protection but come up a bit stiff. I think they'll make for a great training shoe but, not sure I'll wear them for NorthFace.

I'm trying to tame the competitive side of me for this upcoming race. I think I'm actually a bit out of my league even in my age group. I would really just want to run this race smart and not blow up completely. The weather is going to be pretty nasty and I have to just stay in the survival mode. If for some strange reason I feel great at mile 18 or 20 I'll just go for it...

Well, good luck to my body and may the force be with me. I'm super, super excited to meet my Ultra Running heroes! It's funny most of them a less than half my age?...again, who would of figured. Life is pretty cool and unpredictable...
Here's the women's line up for the 50 mile! Jeeesh!

... Running Chicks Link!...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

I'm A Beat Up Old Chevy And Proud Of It!

As the time get's closer, I'm trying not to feel intimidated with the scope of what I'm getting my self into. The North Face Endurance Challenge Marathon will probably be the toughest physical challenge in my life. I've ridden a lot of Double Century's, competed in 2 Marathons, a couple of Half Marathons, fast 10K and so on.

The truth is it's been really tough keeping up training, a job and all the stuff in life. I'm tired! I have to force and play a lot of mental games with myself to stay motivated and keep on keeping on. I snap easier when stuff gets in my way. I'm a bit of a grouch lately. I just don't have a lot of patience.

Don't get me wrong, all this work does make me feel great but, keeping focus and an organized plan is draining and then those thoughts and doubt creep in all the time...

"Why am I doing this"?
"What the Hell am I doing anyway"?
"What is life all about"?

I think I'm cramming to find balance in my life. I want a healthy body, mind and spirit. A healthy vehicle will make it easier to find balance in the other two. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

What really helps me along though has been immersing myself into this world of running and lately , trail running. I forgot about how much I loved it when I was young and would spend hours with friends or by myself running through the woods, up and down hills through meadows and swamps! So free! Why did I ever stop doing that I ask myself? The people, athletes that I've met on the way, with their adventures, amazing accomplishments and words of encouragement and wisdom. More on this in a bit...

If you're not interested in hearing about my life before running skip this next bit and resume reading when my thoughts flow back to where I started this rant...

Why I'm a retired musician. (because so many friends and family have asked me about this)

My years and years beating myself up and trying to establish a musical career has just left me flat and disappointed, bitter and I'm just done with it. Sure I achieved a high level of proficiency and created music that was somewhat unique (as much as possible) and I learned how to fully express myself in the musical language. From the time I slid into my forties I rapidly lost my motivation to increase my proficiency and questioned the point of doing it at all. In a 12-15 year period I allowed myself to just be used by meg-lo maniac, egocentric people to push their "so called art" and their personal agendas forward, and what for? A pat on the back? I was their fucking mule! What a douche I was! Zero confidence in myself and a horrible self image created far back when I was a much younger idiot brought me to this point. I was afraid to take charge of my life. What a mistake!
I lost a lot of time when I should have been concentrating on myself. These characters used me up, spit me out and it's really my own fault. I own that one!

There's another reason I got burned out with it all. I have a thin skin and a fragile ego. Art comes along with a very judgmental audience and I began to doubt the musical path I had chosen. Playing guitar was just too much akin to being a gunslinger.
I spent a bit of time branching out on other instruments but, that just began to take up yet more and more time in my life. When I didn't have the time I would get horribly frustrated and depressed.
 To go to that next level at this point would take too much time, energy and motivation. I don't have time to do that work and keep myself healthy. Sitting all day long trying to develop finger muscle memory, trying to dig down deep in to my creative center became exhausting, time consuming and I felt like I had lost touch with other things that I enjoyed in life. No matter what I did someone would already be ahead of me and so much better. I always wanted to be at a higher level. It came to a point a few years ago when my life went to shit that any free time and energy dissipated completely. The road back has been filled with too many distractions, work, people and other obstacles.
I think what really has happened is I accomplished what I set out to do. Write and play some good music. It all became a dead horse to me and I was still beating the shit out of it.

I've realized at my core is the need to compete. I had problems because my personality would see music in that way. I can't help that, it's in my blood. It's just the way I am. I'm very, very competitive.

When I run, ride or whatever, the feeling I get when trying to get ahead and moving to the front is my drug. I thrive on it, it's who I am. The harder I push my self physically the stronger my mind and spirit become!
I need my freedom. I couldn't find that anymore with my music.
I like to compete with myself. It's geeky, interesting seeing what I can make the body accomplish. I'm a beat up old Chevy and I love tinkering under the hood. It makes me feel good and I've become more social as a side benefit and it  keeps me away from the dark places that I fear so much.


I got to run with Scott Jurek again!... I've now pondered the idea that maybe I could be considered his "Running Buddy"! I thought that was funny.

He's a really cool dude, with a kind heart and a true soul. An inspiration.

Quite a few people showed up for his speaking presentation. He had his new "Ultimate Directions" Running vest for sale. Mounted water bottles on a very light weight vest and plenty of room for other items to carry on a long haul.
Unfortunately for me I don't have that kind of cash right now but, It would sure come in handy!

His presentation was inspiring to say the least. He's spent a lot of time soul searching and you can just tell he enjoy's life, loves to share his wisdom and still is a highly motivated athlete with real practical goals.
Just a side note: I felt like a hero of the evening when he was having a problem with his video presentation. With my decades dealing with sound systems and audio equipment I ran up to the front of the stage and showed him something really simple and quick for an easy work around which brought cheers and a lot of appreciation from Scott!...Aahhh! My moment to shine : )


I did put a pair of shoes on hold while I was there. The "Brooks Cascadia's", a superb high caliber trail shoe. 
I felt I would be a bit more confident having a little more under my feet for my trail marathon. I love my "Pure Grit's" but, they're a little thin in the sole and I've had a couple of close calls stepping hard on rocks. They seem to be almost coming through the bottom of the shoe at times. Don't want to break a foot.

By the way they were designed along with Scott Jurek's insight.

Today was my last long run before the NorthFace event in two weeks. I did a punishing run through Mountain Lake trail, GG National Seashore, Beach run and some muddy trails through Golden Gate Park. Punishing in a muddy, slippery way. I had wanted to do some training up in Marin but just really didn't have the available time or fortitude to ride my bike up to Marin. I mainly just wanted to concentrate on pacing and other techniques so it didn't really matter where I was  to do this.
My run sucked. I was slow, messy and my legs are a bit beat from last weekends self imposed Marathon. I need to cool my jets for a couple of weeks and work on some active recovery. 
If I run at the pace I was at today I could end up doing a very lame, slow 6 hour Marathon.
I did do a PR through Lands End which got me on the Strava age group number 1 slot. The beach killed me too. I had to run through a lot of deep sand because the tide was high and it just beat me up.
I hope I'm more together in two weeks. I really have a plan to just try and enjoy the experience and I keep reminding myself this is only my third official trail run!
Well, onward and upward I hope.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew...Going For A Personal Record

I think we've all been here at one time or another...

I felt like this guy all weekend and knew I had probably bitten off more than I could chew. By last Friday I was feeling a bit beat up from the previous weekends half-Marathon trail race and had done a bit of over training during the week, when I really should have been practicing some active recovery.

I had been planning on doing an un-supported "Full" Marathon on Sunday for a pretty cool "Strava" Challenge. Strava (Athletic GPS training site) would kick in a donation for the Hurricane Sandy relief fund, if Strava members committed to running a full 26.2 mile Marathon within a two day window. The Marathon would have to be completed in one day. 

Saturday I got a late start for my recon ride on the one speed, or what I should really call "The Steel Canon Ball On Wheels"! I had mapped out a somewhat reasonable Marathon route on "" and planned to review the course for any uncertain anomalies. I probably should have ridden the road bike with gears. My legs were still a bit slodgy from the previous weeks events.
After the recon I realized that the last 3 1/2 miles would be some considerable up hill that I knew I'd have some problems with being at the end of the run. I was going to try and make this my first sub-four hour Marathon. This would only be my second Marathon, for the record...What are the chances? I'd have to go 10 minutes faster than my San Francisco Marathon time.

Saturday night we had plans to go out with friends for Pizza in the Marina. One of my friends had been trying to find a decent pair of cross training shoes for her arobics, yoga and possibly some running. She'd had a history of shin splints so, I suggested "Fleet Feet" and Pizza afterwards. The trip to Fleet Feet was great as usual and they really helped her find a great pair of Nike cross trainers.
I'm not going to give a review for the Pizza restaurant...It sucked! Which was suprising since we've been going there for a couple of years without issue but, the were having a bad night and one bad experience isn't going to make me hate the place enough for a bad review.
The pizza was underdone and took way too long. They also skipped some of the important ingredients!
We sat for too long drinking wine, on top of scoffing down the pizza with underdone dough gave me a serious case of indigestion which made getting a good nights sleep impossible.

Sunday morning came too fast and what little sleep I did get was interrupted by drunken fools partying across two buildings complete with fireworks and police sirens.
I didn't get rolling till around 9:15am, an hour late from the time I wanted to start. Right away I felt heavy, bloated, slow and achy! Not the best combination for a Marathon PR.

By the time I was 4 miles in I actually felt a bit better and started to warm up. I enjoyed the drop down through Golden Gate Park and when I hit the Great Highway my dream came true. The Highway was closed to cars for cleaning off the sand from the beach. I felt good, GU'd up belted down some water and started hitting some low 8 minute miles. About mile 17 I hit a pretty good wall just at Lake Merced.

I could not get my ass in gear around the lake. I actually stopped and walked about 100 yards and downed a couple of Sport gels and more water, then began running again. When I hit the return along the beach I started feeling pretty good for the next couple miles. I thought I might surely break the 4 hour barrier...then I hit the uphill through Golden Gate park...Goodnight ladies and gentlemen. It wasn't a brick wall. It was the "Iron Curtain"!

I started panicking and my time was tapping the nine minute mile range. I started feeling very old, dark and full of self pity.

Pretty young girls were bounding past me like antelope on Cappuccino! I imagined the guys going by with smirks and praying not to ever get as old as this old fart.
With two miles to go I was done but still felt like I could bust the 4 hour mark. I got a little hung up at the traffic light on Stanyan getting onto the panhandle. I compulsivlely kept looking at my Garmin and the digits seemed to never change. When I got to the end of the Panhandle I still had a half mile and I just couldn't get my legs to move any faster. I was kaput!
Trying to cross another intersection and running up a sidewalk distracted me from my Garmin and when I shut it off it was just a few seconds over 4 hours! I couldn't believe it. Part of me was so bummed and the other part was just relieved to be done!

I limped into a corner store, got a big Gatorade and grabbed a cab home.
I could barely make it downstairs to roll out on the Styrofoam roller and shower.
When I got up and plugged my Garmin in the event came up at 24 miles!? WTF! Thankfully since I've had this problem before I also ran my Droid Strava App which came up with the correct milage. A little over 4:00:15. It was 26.4 miles and with the traffic light stops, I feel like it was an honorary sub 4!
Either way the real win was that I made myself do it and I was satisfied with that.

Today I got up and was a bit stiff but my recovery seems to be a lot faster these days. I've learned a lot of tricks. The right food, lot's of protein, roller and all the core work I've been doing are paying off.
I took an active recovery ride today. Just a nice easy 17 miles on the bike and a little free weights. Now I feel great.
My dog's were happy to have two parents home most of the day and relaxed like champs in front of their favorite perch.
Beyonce, Gaga and Layla...Sister wives!
I forgot to mention, quite a while back I had to cancel my 24 hour fitness membership. Due to making shit money these days (yes I've hit the age ceiling and nobody wants me anymore). I happened to be cleaning out some of the catacombs below the buildings I manage and came across a full set of weights complete with leg lift, barbell bench and stretch cables!... Dog provides! This has really been the cornerstone in my training. The injuries are less and my speed, endurance and well being have improved immensely.

Finally on my ride today I stopped at the GG Bridge and it was just one of those days when the Sun, time of day, Bridge were in perfect picture taking convergence!
So lucky I moved here...

Friday, November 9, 2012

ruh roh! Controversy...Diablo Trail Pt. 2


Drop an Roll!

After a bad beginning today, including double dog fights in doggy day care, a full day of maintenance issues in the buildings I manage. I get this inquisitive email with somewhat snarky overtones...

Hi Peter, I would really like to hear back from you today.  There are many that are questioning your 34 minute deduction from your time.  Could you please get back to me and let me know which race you ran and when you left.  Thanks, Buzz

Sounded pretty frightening on my first read! 

So, I explained to "Buzz" how things went down with my logistical nightmare, and the merciful time judges that went way out of their way to re-sync my timing chip and configure finish times so I was able to still compete and achieve a 1st place in my "Old age group". 
I kind of felt how "Lance" must of felt when people started catching on to his game. The only thing was I wasn't playing any game. Just a victim of time circumstances.
...Original Diablo blog pt. 1 here

At least Buzz seemed to accept my alibi and I did refer him to my blog for the low down. He may or may not have read it.
By the way I beat the guy who came in second in my group by over! 10 minutes! So there...
Jeesh, wait till the next time I do this. It's two GU's with caffeine!
I worked wicked hard for this one...

Some highlights I forgot to mention from the race.

1. Towards the end of the race, (within the last mile), I totally ate shit when I glanced down to check my heart-rate, (why I bothered I knew it was maxed out) and my right foot caught a boulder and POW! My recovery was pretty quick, mostly due to embarrassment.
2. When I dropped and rolled at the finish line my left hamstring seized up and the pain was agonizing on top of the fact I felt like an idiot and tried not to show a my painful expression.
3. Since discovering Ultra, Trail and Marathon running back in January (when I started running), I've had an epiphany, a revelation and a whole new Universe has opened up to me full of personalities, excitement, motivation and competition!
As I've been exploring trail running I happened to discover a truly inspirational group of people who I had never heard of before and I'm learning of this amazing world in which they live.
I've become a fan of "" a local podcast which is now one of my favorite resources. 

I recently listened to an interview with a woman named "Sarah Lavender Smith" who writes for Trail Running Magazine and has her own blog...

which has just an astounding wealth of information and very interesting and entertaining writing, pictures and links.

Sarah actually sent me an email after contacting her regarding the Diablo Adventure Trail Run.

I had hoped to meet her Sunday but she finished the race so freaking fast and was probably home having a glass of wine and blogging about it before I even crossed the finish line!
She finished seventh overall out of a field of 170 with a ridiculous time of 2:01:06!

She has an amazing background in running and manages to juggle a life of family, business and running quite nicely.

Courtesy Brazen Racing

This is Sarah who actually has developed a technique for flying whilst flapping her braids to acquire lift...
I'm looking forward to meeting her along with Dean Karnazes, and many other world class athletes at the NorthFace Endurance challenge. I'll be participating in the Full Marathon Trail. I'm absolutely looking forward to my first Trail Marathon and it's been so exciting falling into this crazy Universe of running.

Man, I could sure use a "power gel" here!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

My Mt. Diablo Trail Race

Courtesy Brazen Racing

My adventure started the night before the race when I checked the Bart schedule for Sunday only to find the first train would not leave San Francisco till 8 am!...The race was at 9 am. That would leave me 20 minutes to time trial 6 miles from Walnut Creek station to the Castle Rock Park, grab my bib, pin it on, lock up my bike and belongings, warm up, fill my bottles get in line and GO!.
Didn't happen...
I turned on to a street with the same name (lots of things that have "Walnut" in Walnut Creek) and ended up riding another 5 miles uphill only to get to a dead end and have to turn back.
By the time I got to the Start I was 35 minutes late and everyone was gone. The family walk was about to start in a few minutes and I couldn't imagine getting stuck behind a ton of people walking up steep single track so, I had to go now!
I got my timing chip, put "A" pin on my number and took off.

I would just like to say the people who helped me from "Brazin Racing" were so incredibly nice. The water/fuel stops were great the volunteers manning them so helpful.
I was disappointed to miss the start but just decided to use this as a training race and work on trail technique and utilize all that I have learned in the last few months.
Right from the beginning I climbed and with the heat my heart rate was already getting into the red zone! I just focused and concentrated on transparently moving around the 10K/5K people walking up the single track.
I figured 3 miles and I'd be ahead of it all which turned out to be right on.

Around mile 6 I actually started to pick off 1/2 marathoners! That was a confidence booster. by mile 7 I had no water left and just started to hit the wall. The climbing was pretty tough and so much of it. I cat&moused a mountain biker and was actually able to pass him 3 times on three different climbs. That felt good. 

Finally I reached the turnaround and took my time loading up with salt tabs, GU's water and pretzels. Add one banana!
I felt better instantly and just started to put some time and distance down.
The downhill was like nothing I've ever experienced and it was just pounding me pretty hard but , at this point I really started to pick off the rabbits and a lot of them were guys that looked like me!
I started passing 20 and 30 somethings which invigorated me even more. Even though I was beat to crap I just kept hammering and got faster in the last 4 miles. I think the training and especially all the core work I've done lately are really paying off.
In the last mile I was sprinting up and down and runners would try and hang with me but I just dropped them like excess baggage! Must have been that last GU with caffeine!
I spotted the finish and as I came up the announcer recognized me and made mention of the guy who was a half hour late!
As I crossed the finish line and did my drop and role across the line, ala "Chrissie Wellington".

I spent some time afterwards with the person in charge of the timing chips and they compensated my start and I found out that I had the best time of my age group. Another first which I wasn't expecting.

I got my medals and ate some well deserved real food. I thought about how much I'm enjoying all this running and it's been a real confidence booster. It's very odd that last year at this time I couldn't have fathomed ever even wanting to run.

I just let the rain come down and make a brand new ground...
Thank you Universe...and Save Mt. Diablo!