The legs feed the wolf.

The legs feed the wolf.
Equine Trail looking south: Kamran, John & Travis. Photographer: BykViking

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 24 - Recovery is not an option

After running 11 days in a row, I got it into my head to try to run 30 straight days.  At the same time, I ramped up my average weekly mileage from 35 miles to 60 miles a week.  I also put in my biggest week ever, hitting 70 miles.   The first two weeks or so, I was okay.  Then it began to get ugly.

The beginning of the end of was Day 22.  I did a tempo workout and hit some decent mile pace times.  Apparently that was all I had left to give.  The next three days I continued to run, but each day became progressively harder, both mentally and physically as I was irritable, had no interest in running, was beginning to feel pain in both my Achilles and my right foot felt twinges of plantar fasciitis.   

Day 25 would have been a Saturday.  An easy day to get in an easy run.  My body told my mind, "No, this is ridiculous.  You run today, you're going to get injured."  So much for mind over matter.  I realize that running 30 straight days is not the best training, as I never let my body absorb the training I was putting in.  As SEHRC club mate Kamran says, "Recovery is not an option," meaning you must give your body a break.

But this wasn't about training, this was a test of willpower.  I don't look at my decision to stop running as a failure of willpower.  Rather, I'm proud of the fact that I listened to my body and took a day off.  Moreover, along the way I put in the best three weeks of running in my life.

Running happy with Kamran and Travis

Today, after a day off, I had a killer run with the boys of SEHRC (Travis, Kamran, Eric and Kevin).  I felt strong and light and enjoyed myself.  It's amazing how different you can feel after 36 hours of rest.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

Days of Old - D.C. Courier - A movie about being a bike messenger

After college I moved to D.C. and became a bike messenger.  For awhile, I thought of going to film school, so I made my first and only movie:  D.C. Courier  (Part One)


Friday, October 3, 2014

Motivating with a new hat from Black Sheep Endurance

Last night my phone starting going nuts.  Cam was trying to organize a run via text.  About every 10 minutes, bzzzz, another text.  The texts soon degenerated into comments about "length of the run", but interspersed between the size jokes, I was told the winner of both Endure the Bear 50K and Nobel Canyon 50K, as well as the 7th place finisher of the Leadville 100 would be in the posse.

This was not a welcome sight.  I was on my ninth day of running and my legs were screaming for a break.  I normally tend to run 4-6 days straight and then take a day off.  However, I couldn't resist the chance to run with some elite runners.  Ten days in a row it would have to be.

At 6:00 a.m. we met at Questhaven Park, headlamps on.  There were nine runners, including three Ironman finishers, six ultras and me.  Although, I have run a 50K, so I guess I'm an ultra.  One dude parted ways pretty quick, but the remaining eight ran down into Elfin Forest.

Walsh, Joe, Casper, Cam, me, Rich and Chris (kneeling) on Andy's Trail.
Dax is photographer.
Around mile five, a few of the guys had to head back.  The rest of us continued on, putting in 11.4 miles with 2,000' of gain in about 2 hours.  During the run, Hoka Cliftons, Nike Tigers, head lamp lumens, hydration, nutrition, Leadville 100, Nobel Canyon 50K, Northface Endurance Challenge, Whoo's in El Moro, pacers, and mountain lions were discussed. It's the kind of run that makes you want to run ultras even if you really don't.  At the same time, it's the kind of run that you want to have every day, as being surrounded by guys who love to run, really motivates you to want to go longer and faster.

Cam in front, me in green and Rich in foreground, heading up towards Melissa's trail.
In addition, I got to meet some new people, especially Rich Airey of (soon to be  Rich took 7th in this year's Leadville 100 on his first try.  Not only is Rich a super cool dude, we also grew up 25 miles from one another in New Jersey.  At the end of the run, proving what a nice guy he is, Rich gave out the hat pictured below to everyone.

Thanks for the hat Rich!  Looking forward to wearing it with pride.  Speaking of motivating, I just got a text from Greg, who coincidentally wears trucker hats on runs.  Tomorrow at 6:30?  Sure.  Eleven days in a row?  No problem . . .

Friday, September 26, 2014

Peaks of San Elijo Hills and surrounds

The Peaks of Three Peaks

Mt. Whitney - 1,732'
Frank's Peak - 1,692'
Double Peak - 1,644'

The Medium Size Peaks

Elfin Forest Overlook (Equine Trail) - 1,342'
Cielo Peak - 1,226' (on trail, near water fountain)
Elfin Forest Way Up Trail - 1,206' - (high point)
Radio Tower - 1,210'
Mt. Tapatio - 1,182'
Via Ambiente South Side - 1,171'
Denk Mountain - 1,053'

The Lesser Peaks

Yellow Truck Trail Peak - 965' (West side, near BMX jumps)
Dump Climb Peak - 846'
Punta Arroyo Peak -795' (where concrete hits gravel, west side)
Ridgeline Peak (Box Canyon) - 656'
Paint Mountain Peak - 607' (where the trail (which one?) meets Suerte del Este)


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Boston Marathon - so it begins

I ran my first marathon, the Carlsbad Marathon, at age 41 in 2013.  My goal was to finish.  I ran it in 4:07 or 9:26 a mile.  After finishing, I vowed never to run a marathon again.

I ran my second marathon, the Carlsbad Marathon, at age 42 in 2014.  My primary goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon.  To do so I needed to run 3:15 or less.  My secondary goal was to run a 3:00 marathon.  I figured if I shot for 3:00 and failed, I'd qualify for Boston.  I ran it in 3:06 or 7:06 mile.

The Boston Marathon accepts registrations on a rolling basis, based on qualifying times.  I was allowed to register on Friday, September 12, 2014, as I qualified by more than five minutes.  On September 14, 2014, my entry was officially accepted.

This made it real.  For nine months, it wasn't real.  It wasn't concrete.  It was like a baby in my wife's belly. Now it was real.  Now I had to plan.  First up, I needed a plane ticket.  My wife, aka travel agent, took care of that.  Second, place to stay.  I texted my Bostonian brother and told him I was coming.  Next up goal pace.

I ran a 1:20 half-marathon in January.  In my mind, I could have run it a bit faster.  Double it, add a few minutes and voila, I decided on 2:45 goal pace or 6:17 a mile.  Can I do it? I think so.  Will I do it?  That depends on the training.  Was I crazy.  Sure.

But so it begins.  On Friday, I was on my way to a run on the coast.  As I drove west on the 78, I looked to my left and saw a billboard.  "Low fares to BOSTON" was the message.  That was my sign, both figuratively and literally that I had made the right choice.

If you are interested in following my training journey to Boston, check it out at

Monday, August 25, 2014

Top Climbs in San Elijo Hills

San Elijo Hills offers multiple climbing options right out your doorstep.  There are the long climbs, short climbs, abrupt climbs and technical climbs.  They each have their own character and play to the strengths of different types of runners.

I am in the process of posting the climbs and wanted to share with the reader my categorization process.  For a climb to be placed here, it needs to start at the beginning of the climb and finish at a peak.  Climbs that start 100 meters before the ascent or finish half-way up the climb make no sense to me and will not be posted.  I also don't want to duplicate portions of climbs too much and don't think much of climbs less than a half a mile.

I am now in the process of offering some comments on the climbs and their difficulty.  I originally placed the Telescope Climb at #1.  However, after running James Walsh's Melrose to Double Peak, I have to place this at #1.  This is a climb that has everything and forces the runner to use all their gears.

It begins with a slap in the face at 10-20% grade and immediately forces the runner into a series of switchbacks.  The runner then has to bust their quads running downhill before they assault the radio tower, which includes a short portion at 25% grade.  Upon reaching the radio tower, lungs busting, the runner gets a brief respite, but needs to open the pace up before hitting two sets of short steep hills.  At the same time, the runner busts their quads running down the backside of these climbs.  The climber then confronts the last bit up Double Peak, which includes a technical uphill finish at 15% grade.  This is 4.2 miles of pain and total elevation gain has to be greater than 1216 due to the descents, which I do not believe are factored in.

The Telescope Climb is much more pedestrian.  The runner runs uphill the entire way and uses one gear.  Don't get me wrong, this is a hard climb, it's just the JW climb forces the runner to climb, descend and sprint.

With that said, I hereby challenge all SEHRC members to run the JW.  One word of advice, study the course just a bit, as there are some points where you could take a wrong turn, especially: (1) after super steep portion of radio tower climb, but a little further up, get off asphalt towards left and go on trail (2) when going up Double Peak head up the steep dirt section and (3) when almost to the top of Double Peak and trail flattens out a bit, make a left into a narrow trail, which brings you to the top.  Good luck!  

1.  JW - Melrose to Double Peak - Cat 2

2A.  Telescope Climb (dirt paths) - Cat 2

2B.  Assault on Double Peak! - Cat 2
(Same as Telescope Climb but on North side for pavement lovers)

3.  Jeep Trail - Questhaven to intersection of Frank's Peak/Mt. Whitney - Cat 3

4.  Creek to Water Tank - Cat 3

5.  Via Ambiente / Cielo Climb 2.2 - Cat 3

6.  Radio Tower & Beyond - Cat 3

  7.  Denning Road Climb - Cat 3

8.  TOV @ Craven to SE Road Peak - Cat 3

   9.  Double Peak Climb - Cat 4

10.  Backside Water Tank Climb - Cat 4

11.  Whiptail Climb - Cat 4

12.  Quest to Attebury 2.1 Climb - Cat 4

13.  Black Dog Climb - Cat 4

14.  Post to Pillar

15.  Old Rug - Cat 4 

16.  Creek to Cross

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Hat or no hat Phd Dissertation

This's Sunday's run was a fun one.  Around two hours, 12.5 miles and 2400' of gain.  We had eight today, Greg, Vince, Kam, myself, Martin, Kevin and Melissa in the pic below, plus cameraman Dennis.

While posting the pic I noticed five of us wearing hats and two not wearing.  Dennis, camera, was also hatless.  Today was hot and humid, so humid it in fact rained a bit at the tail-end of the run. But the sun wasn't out.

In looking at the picture and realizing I look old with a beard, I begin to think about the trade-off for wearing a hat, which seems to be decreased rays on the noggin vs. increased retained heat under the hat.

Then I thought do hats hinder or help?  Are they more protection for the face than a heat saver for the head? Under what conditions should a hat be worn?  Should hats be worn in races?  At what distance do they begin to make a difference?  What type of hat works best?  ( I think Kevin's green hat, which is lightweight and has venting is probably the best - I have the same hat from the Foxy Trail Half Marathon.)

I'm calling on an aspiring PhD student in exercise physiology to give me some answers.  I did a cursory search on google for "wearing a hat or not during running", and didn't find much. The best was, which actually cites scientific studies.  However, no studies are cited in relation to hats.  As a bonus, I'll post the dissertation here.

Keep it sweaty.