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!