Thursday, April 24, 2008


For a fun project, I gathered a bunch of images from the past year-plus of ultrarunning. I placed them mostly in groups related to the races, but mixed in a few random images here and there, mostly of various scenery. Races include Tahoe Rim Trail 100 miler; Rio Del Lago 100 Miler, SF One Day; Fear & Loathing 50m (most of the SF city photos); Sunmart 50 miler; Rocky Raccoon 100 miler; American River 50 miler; Ruth Anderson 50 km/50mile/100km; Quad Dipsea; and various marathons, mountain races and training runs.

This first one is my favorite - I was able to use all my selected images, I think they are in pretty good order, I like where the scenes fall within the music and it ends at the perfect time. Rajeev Char was at the Ruth Anderson runs volunteering but afterward was going to a Pink Floyd cover band show. This song is a great cover of a Floyd classic.

This one is nice too, the images work well with the music & lyrics, shows most of the Ultraholics, and a good mix of scenery and people grouped for the most part by event. Plus, I really like the song:

Coming back from American River 50 miler with Rajeev, we listened to a lot of classical music, so in honor of that drive, the second format is set to Beethoven (sorry Raj, the Mozarts were too short), with a fade-out to silent images.

The last selection is shorter, to a punk-ish song:

Monday, April 21, 2008


I entered this year's Ruth Anderson race with the goal of doing the 100km. I thought that after the American River 50 miler 2 weeks earlier, a 62 mile finish would be a nice stepping stone to the Keys 100 next month. Well, my plans were not to be this year - but with Rajeev Patel as Race Director, the event was still fantastic!

I got to the race start a bit later than I would have liked. I was rushing around, still putting on my shoes when the racers starting walking to the start line. It was cold, so I had my tights on plus gloves, head cover and three layers of shirts (those 3 layers stayed on my entire race). But I didn't have time to grab my water bottle or camera. I knew the water bottle would be OK as I could get it at a later lap and there were aid stations every 2.5 miles or so (one good thing about a loop course). I never did get my camera so all images here were politely "borrowed" from the works of Peter Lubbers and Chihping Fu.

Chihping all happy at the start:

At the start, Rajeev said a few words and everybody shouted thanks to the wonderful volunteers who braved the cold and very windy morning. I saw a lot of Ultraholics such as Chihping, Yuki, Dr. Mark, Steve, Michael, etc. I tried to do some last minute adjustment on my shoes as they weren't feeling right.

We lined up and we were off. From the get go, it was Mark, Michael, a very established ultra runner named Jean Pommier, and me. Before the first aid station, Jean opened up a lead. I decided to see if I could follow him. So I slowly started catching up and we entered the second aid station together.

The windy Ruth Anderson Base Camp with RD Raj (far left in Red):

Jean stopped for something and I kept going. I had the lead all to myself, but with runners such as Michael, Jean and Mark "the Machine" Tanaka running, I knew that would be a short lived fantasy.

I kept running right at or slightly under 7 minute miles. That is what I ran the first 4 1/2 laps in last year, but this year it felt much harder. As I was coming up the west side of Lake Merced, the gusts were so strong they literally would stop me in place or push me to the side. And I am not a light runner.

As I approached the "base aid station" I was the front runner. But Jean was merely seconds behind me. I stopped to drop off some gear and grab my iPod, Jean didn't stop. Soon he had 10 seconds on me, then 30 seconds. By the time I reached the south end of Lake Merced, Jean was on the other side approaching the south aid station. It was as we both had rockets on our feet - but his was pushing him forward while mine were facing backwards :)

Eventual 50km winner Jean Pommier (photo by Chihping):

Anyway, I kept running. My legs were feeling heavy and sore. I think it was in part due to the 50 mile race 2 weeks earlier, but what really bothered me I believe were my shoes. I noticed it at the American River 50 but put it down to the shoes being too new. However, here again my legs were fatiguing way too early. Later I was discussing this with Peter Lubbers and he suggested that it may be the inserts I have in my shoes as he experienced similar things when he tried them. So I will try pulling the inserts and just using the shoe-issued insoles. Soon I came up along Yuki and said hello. He looked strong and gave me a smile and words of encouragement.

Yuki (photo by Chihping):

Anyway, I continued fighting the wind and doing my laps. I came through the marathon at 3:30 flat. Not bad, but a tad slower than I would have liked. On the 5th lap as I stopped at the south aid station, Mark Tanaka passed me. I was surprised it took 5 laps - assuming he would have passed me earlier. But he was running a very smart race and went on to win the 100km in a great time. I wished him well and off he went.

Base Aid Station Raj and Volunteers (photo by Peter):

South Aid Station and Volunteers:

I begin to reconsider the 100km. I was feeling fine, but my legs were just plain tired. The wind and cold were not making my day too enjoyable, but everyone had to deal with that.

I came into the "base aid station" to finish lap 5. There I saw Peter Lubbers. Peter and I ran the final 30 miles of TRT100 together where we both completed our first ever 100 miler. Peter is training to try and break the run-through time record for the entire Tahoe Rim Trail this August. He snapped some photos and decided to run with me a lap.

Approaching the Base Aid Station at the end of lap 5 (photos by Peter Lubbers):

We ran together a bit. Twice I decided to walk awhile and we chatted about various things. I learned that Peter had volunteered to be the 50km timer. After a bit we entered the South Aid Station (photo by Peter):

Then we started running again. Soon we came up on Chihping. Chihping was in his 5th lap but had decided that he would stop there due to a possible injury. Since he has the Grand Slam coming up, I know he made a smart decision. Chihping snapped some photos too.

Me and Peter Lubbers running lap 6 (photos by Chihping):

Me, Peter and Steve (photo by Chihping):

As I entered the base station Rajeev asked how I was doing. I told him that I had decided to stop at the 50km mark. It wasn't anything major such as my dehydration at AR50 or the piriformis at RR100, I just didn't have a longer run in me that day. So I opted to enter my last lap and promised myself that I would go out and do one final 50 to 62 mile training run between now and the Keys Ultra.

I sat down and changed my shoes for the final lap to see if that helped. Sure enough, the shoes (even though they were an old pair I had with worn out soles) felt much better. I even toyed with the idea of running 50 miles, but decided I would be risking injury doing that in the old shoes. So I pushed the last lap.

I came up on the 50km timing point. There was Peter and Hao doing the timing. I crossed it in 4 hours 14 minutes 27 seconds. I found out that I had taken 3rd in the 50km.

My 50km Finish (photo by Peter Lubbers):

Jean Pommier had decided to stop at 50km too - with an awesome 3:44 time. As I was changing shoes, another runner Ron Duncan passed me to take second.

Eventual 50km Second place runner Ron Duncan (photo by Chihping):

All in all, I was pleased. I would have liked to have done the full 100km, but some days just aren't to be. Still, managed a 3:30 marathon, a 50km slightly above 4 hours despite less than stellar conditions, 3rd place overall and 2nd in my age group. I'll take it :)

Rajeev did an awesome job race directing. The volunteers were unbelievable - suffering through horrible wind and cold. The wind was so strong, it ripped out the tent stakes from the base aid station tent and almost blew the tent into the lake, knocking over one of the great volunteers too. The south aid station had to give up on their tent - the winds made it impossible to stake it down and even with 5 people holding it, they had trouble even trying to set it up. Looking it up, it appears thatgusts reach nearly 40mph, while sustained winds averaged between 26mph and 30mph. The temps barely cracked 60 F. Source: Weather.

At the finish I saw Rajeev Char who had come down to help with timing the 50 mile event. He is training hard for two Ironman events this year. Our friend and co-Ultraholic Anil was in India at the time, so he did his own self-supported Ruth Anderson 50km run! He ran in Lalbagh Gardens in Bangalore with his wife Rashmi serving as sole crew and aid station. See his story: India RA

All in all, this was a great event!

Friday, April 18, 2008


Well, tomorrow is the Ruth Anderson Endurance Run. This unique format race consist of 4.5 mile loops around Lake Merced in San Francisco. One can choose between the 50km, the 50 miler or the 100km race during the actual race (although once continuing into a longer distance, the runner is bound to that race distance). Last year I was entered in the 50 mile option, but ended up doing the 50km race due to a pre-race injury. I was very pleased with my 3:52 and 2nd place. Report from last year is here: 2007 RA Race
This year I am leaning towards the 100km option. I toyed with the idea of dropping to the 50 miler and shooting for my first sub-8 hour at that distance; or doing the 50km again and seeing if I can get a new p.r.

However, since this is really a stepping stone race towards my Keys Ultra 100 miler next month, I think that I will stay with the 100km. I won't be racing it as much as getting the legs ready for the long mileage (base building). Plus, with AR50 only 2 weeks behind me, my legs still aren't 100% and I don't want to risk any re-injury. Hopefully I can get to that 62 mile finish line with relatively mild discomfort so that I am ready for the Keys 100!

This year, Rajeev Patel, my friend from many races such as TRT100, RDL100, and recently the AR50, is the race director. Weather should be cool and a bit windy. So, its off to pack my race gear, carbo load and get some sleep.

Monday, April 14, 2008


Sunday Run Flora & Fauna
I am trying something new for my Blog. I took about 15 to 20 images that I snapped during a 13 mile training run in the bay area hills. The photos are basically the plants and animals I saw during that single run. In a simple way, I hope this video helps show why many of us love to run on nature's trails. The website I used to create this is called Animoto - and the song is called "Finally" by a band called, appropriately enough, Sunday Runners.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


After dinner at the Klein's house, Raj and I took a quick ride out to look at the finish line area and then checked into the motel. We set up our drop bags and turned in for an early morning wake-up.

The next morning we got our gear together.

I taped the bottom of my feet as I was wearing relatively new shoes and I had felt some hot spots earlier in some training runs. Soon we headed to the finish line. We parked the car there and caught a shuttle to the start.

We met fellow Ultraholic Mark Nassi and rode to the start.

On the shuttle I was chatting with a guy next to me named Martin. He was from Marin and it turns out he crewed Gillian (from Zombie Runner) at her Badwater 135 event. Really nice guy.

We arrived at the start and stayed in the bus to keep warm until the last possible moment.

Then we dropped off our drop-bags. At the start we saw familiar faces and met up with fellow Ultraholic Mark Tanaka.

Soon it it was "3-2-1...GO!" and the race was off.

I started mid-pack and began slowly mindful of my piriformis. This had caused my first ever DNF at Rocky Raccoon and limited my training since then. The race started on a footbridge and turned onto a bike path.

I was slowly passing people and around the 1 mile point saw Chihping. Chihping is training for the Grand Slam this year. We chatted for a bit and I headed off. I soon saw the back of the Western States legend Tim Twietmeyer in front of me.

I kept the same pace as Tim for the longest time - we were running between 7 and 7 1/2 minute miles. The bike path was flat with ups and downs here and there.

I was surprised to see a lot of wild/feral turkeys on the route.

I was right next to Tim Tweitmeyer when I heard a voice in front say "that is the marathon" - he had some GPS device on. I looked at my watch and it was a 3:16:13. Not bad I thought. But my legs were really starting to feel sore from my new running shoes. I began to wish that I didn't change shoes that close to a race.

Soon, Tim began to pull away from me.

A few minutes later I came across Ray Sanchez. Ray, like me, will be running Badwater 135 this year. We chatted for quite a bit and came into the first drop bag zone together. This was at the 28 mile mark and our time was exactly 3 hours, 30 minutes.

I decided to change shoes and down an Ensure for energy. Ray however took off. He said he had a plane to catch for a southern California race ( I am the crazy one).

Soon I got up and started running. The first mile was tough, but I got a second wind and took off. The trail now was basically the morning part of the Rio Del Lago 100 mile run, so I knew it pretty well.

I ran/walked up the trails and after awhile I began to realize that the forecast of a 65 F degree high was WAY off. I was pouring water over my head. It wasn't like it was 100 degrees, but there was little shade, canyon walls and a bald head to deal with.

Soon I went into a shadey trail section and started running faster. Cruised past a carcass that I later found out was a deer that was killed by a mountain lion right along the route. The wildflowers were in full bloom and the course was beautiful.

Then it became a downhill towards Rattlesenake Bar - the 40 mile drop bag station. My legs were pretty thrashed by this point. I realized that I am no Dr. Tanaka or Michael Kanning - I can't run my 50km pace for a 50 mile race. So I lotioned my feet with some Swiss sports balm that I swear by, slapped my shoes back on and took off.

I started the trail tired, but within 2 minutes realized that my feet/legs felt better. So I took off. Within the next 3 miles, I passed a half dozen people and felt great. I was having so much fun and feeling good, I forgot to make myself drink or take electrolytes.

Then around mile 42 I started feeling not so hot. Next thing I knew, I was bent over throwing up. A runner whom I passed 10 minutes earlier came pass and slapped me on the back and said "This is a great place - I threw up here a year ago." Despite being the funniest words I heard in awhile, I couldn't run that fast. Still, I went off. I looked at my watch and thought that if I really tried, I might go sub 8:30 and get a new P.R.

Once I hit the final climb however, I knew my p.r. hunt was over. I was throwing-up/dry heaving about once every 800 to 1000 meters. By the time I hit the last aid station with just over 2 miles to go, I couldn't keep anything down. I couldn't run and even walking I had the dry heaves every 400 meters. God I love this sport!

Nevertheless, with a lot of runners giving me words of encouragement as the passed by, I finally made the final turn onto the road. I saw the Dam Overlook parking lot and walked toward the finishers line. I tried jogging across, but it was just a shuffle. My name was called out, but not by Norm Klein as I was expecting. I found out later Norm came down with laryngitis the morning of the race. Helen was probably very appreciative :) I crossed the line at 8 hours 52 minute (my second fastest 50 miler).

At the finish line I sat on a chair and had my timing chip removed. When I went to stand up, I couldn't. A volunteer finally helped me up and I barely remember being lead over to the medical area. The two people there were awesome. One was the lead medical coordinator at Western States. They took my vital signs and the next thing I knew, I had my first ever ultrarunning-induced I.V. My body sucked through it so fast - I was given a second one (you can see my IV hanging from the tree).

God I love this sport!

Chihping finished, going under 10 hours, and came to sit next to me. We chatted a bit. Anyway, about an hour later I was feeling much better. But, after two IV's, water and 4 helpings of vegetable soup, I was still not peeing. In fact, it wasn't until after driving all the way back to the bay area and being home for about 30 minutes did I finally need to go. This was actually a valuable lesson for me. With some hot races coming up such as Keys Ultra and Badwater, it reinforces in me the need to really monitor my electrolyte intake. I had some electrolyte pills on me, but I was concentrating so much on running, I only took one pill and that was in the first 10 miles.

After leaving medical, I strolled around and Chihping and I watched Yuki finish the race.

I then saw the ever colorful and fun Dirt Diva Catra Corbett come across the line. I congratulated her and Norm came over to congratulate her and snap some fun photos.

Then it was Raj's turn. He approached the finish line but the announcers were talking about something else, so he just stopped and did a silly hula-like dance until the announcers saw him and called his name. Norm tried to state over the loudspeaker in his barely-audible voice, "Raj is the ugliest runner in the race today". LOL

I looked at the results and saw that Mark Nassi did a great finish of around 9 1/2 hours. Michael Kanning, the Ultra wunderkid, did a low 7 hour finish and Mark Tanaka took 16th overall.

My next race will be the Ruth Anderson Ultras. I had planned on racing the 100km as a final tune-up for Keys Ultra 100 miler, but I am toying with dropping to the 50km and trying to get a new p.r.....or maybe the 50 miler to see if I can get my sub-8 hour.....or maybe I'll just do the 100km. Hmmmmmmm.


Raj and I hit the road and arrived at Fleet Feet to pick up our race ribbons/racers packet. We saw quite a few familiar faces and managed to decrease the weight of our wallets thanks to a blow-out sale at the store.

Afterwards, Raj needed to call Norm Klein regarding some race directors material. Norm, as many of you know, is the race director of the Rio Del Lago 100 miler. He was for many many years the race director for Western States 100 and transformed that race into much of the present structure including aid stations, food for the racers, etc. He is also a 2 time finisher of the Hawaii Ironman race and one hell of a nice guy.

So we planned on a quick stop over at Norm's place (he was helping Raj with the Ruth Anderson ultraraces as Raj is now the race director. YOU ALL SHOULD RUN RUTH ANDERSON - fast course, great format of a 50k/50mile/100k options and strong race support see: Ruth Anderson)

Amyway, we stopped by and were met by Norm and his wife Helen. For those who do not know Helen Klein, let me tell you we were greated by a living legend. Helen is a finisher of multiple 100 mile events (100+ ultra finishes), the oldest person to ever finish the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, a member of a top finishing team of the eco-challenge, top finisher and winner of Marathon des Sables, a finisher of almost ANY race that has ever been run and the holder of over 10 age group World Records! see: Helen Klein The walls of their home were as if an exhibit from the Endurance Hall of Fame.

We spoke with them for a bit and were invited to stay for supper. Helen made a great salad and pasta dinner. We were entertained with stories of Helen's and Norm's athletic accomplishments, their lives together and past race directing.

Norm showed us around his home which included his very impressive cactus gardens.