The legs feed the wolf.

The legs feed the wolf.

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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.  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.


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Encinitas Youth Cross Country Invitational - August 30, 2014

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My friend Brian Culley is putting on a great running event for kids on August 30, 2014.  It's called the Second Annual Encinitas Youth Cross Country Invitational.  Please help support this event by entering your kids or spreading the word.  The event is for kids 5-14, who will compete at the below-listed distances:

Ages 5 & 6 - 500m ● Ages 7 & 8 - 1,000m ● Ages 9 & 10 - 1,500m ● Ages 11 to 14 - 2,000m

Awards are given after each race, so you can watch your kids run and head home all in 30 minutes!  The invitational is held on the grounds of the historic Olivenhain Meeting Hall! (423 Rancho Santa Fe Rd.) Entries are $10.00 per child in advance ($15.00 on race day). Register online at or email at

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger Trail Shoe Review - First Thoughts

I recently picked up a pair of size 10.5 Nike Zoom Terra Kiger and offer my initial thoughts.  First off, I wasn't dying to buy these shoes.  I was given a gift certificate to Road Runner Sports.  I don't really like this store.  They seem to always have about twenty plus people working there, which would be great, except most of them stand around in little packs doing nothing, rather than actually getting people shoes.  The day I bought the shoes was no exception, as I had to ask for my shoes three times and wait 20 minutes before trying on my first pair.  

Therefore, once I entered this store, I was going to buy something, as I didn't want to come back.  I first tried on a pair of Hokas and ran a mile on a treadmill in them.  They just didn't work for me, as my foot moved around too much and the next size down was too small.  I then tried on the New Balance Fresh Foam 980. The sizing of these were off for my foot, so they weren't going to work either.  I was interested in trying on a pair of Altras, as these shoes look like a shoe that would work for me.  Except, they didn't have any.

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger 10 miles in
Reluctantly, I tried on a pair of the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger, which is Nike's high end trail shoe.  The Nike Zoom Wildhorse, which I also own, is a step down.  For review purposes, its beneficial to compare the two. Here are the stats:

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger  
8.6 0z
4mm heel to toe drop
Heel: 26.5mm
Toe: 22.5mm

Nike Zoom Wildhorse
9.6 0z
4mm heel to toe drop
Heel: 27.3mm
Toe: 23.3mm

First off, I don't get the name.  "Terra" means land and "Kiger" is a substrain of the Mustang horse located in southeastern Oregon.  Why add "Terra"?  Nike didn't stick Terra in front of Wildhorse, why do it for the Kiger?  I'm a fan of consistency, either do it for both or not at all.  Also, is "Terra" really necessary?  Is this to help avoid confusion with the Aqua Kiger, which is a strain of seahorse found off the coast of Oregon?  

Getting beyond the name, the Kiger fits me incredibly well.  It has a wrap around (burrito) tongue, which provides for a snug, sock-like fit.  I much prefer the fit of the Terra Kiger to the Wildhorse.  I'm not sure what the specifications are to be considered to have a narrow foot, but I'm a skinny guy and I think I have a narrow foot.  If you have a wider foot, the Wildhorse may provide a better fit.  You'll also notice, I don't untie my shoes at the end of the run.  In the running world, I'm what is known as a "Keep 'em tied" as opposed to an "Untier".

Wildhorse (top) and Kiger (bottom) 
While I have you looking down at the shoes, also notice the lace interface with the shoes.  The Wildhorse laces through a piece of shoe that is folded over and stitched back into the mesh rather than a traditional eyelet.  This adds some unnecessary weight and does not provide for the best cinching of the shoe.  My Wildhorses never feel quite tight enough.

The Kiger use the Nike Free method, which consists of normal eyelets reinforced with two loops.  I think the two loops help to pull the shoe around the foot.  Whatever they do, they seem to work.  However, if someone has enough energy to unlace their shoes, lace them back up without using the two loops and go for a run, let me know if they actually make any difference.

Two eyelets of uncertainty and confusion
The other difference between the shoes are the top eyelets. The Wildhorse actually does have two eyelets, at the very top of the shoe.  These are the two eyelets where you have to make a choice, as the shoelace is not long enough for both.  Do I go with the bottom eyelet?  Should I go with the top eyelet?  Is there some secret to which one I pick?  Was there an instruction manual in the box that I missed?  Will the bottom eyelet provide a better fit?  Why are there two f**king eyelets?!?  Why not design the shoe so I don't have to make a choice?

One eyelet of tranquility
The Kiger has only one eyelet.  I don't know if two eyelets would actually be better.  Quite honestly I don't care.  I prefer not having to wonder if I'm not tying my shoes in the most optimum manner every time I go for a run. 

The Kiger shoes have "Sticky Rubber", which in a technical sense translates into the rubber sticks to the "Terra" and not to the shoe.  This means the soles begin to wear away immediately.  After 10 miles, notice the rubber is already wearing off the blue traction pads of the two top sets of three on the left of the Kigers. The shoes are grippy, but for how long?  A hundred miles?      

Kiger "Sticky Rubber" soles
The Wildhorse soles are equally as bad.  They apparently don't come with "Sticky Rubber", but check out the wear on the shoes below.  I bought two pairs of the Wildhorse back in February 2014 and wear both.  I also wear other shoes on the road.  Only six months later and not that many miles, check out the wear.

Wildhorse soles
Since I have a worn pair of shoes, I checked my wear pattern.  Apparently, pursuant to, I have even wear, which means "[t]reads across the heel and under the ball of the foot are both worn, with additional wear marks underneath the big toe."  (If my reading of my wear pattern is wrong, let me know.)  This means I'm wearing the right shoes.  

Lastly, the jury is still out on comfort.  I haven't run more than 10 miles in the Kigers.  I don't know how my feet are going to feel when I go long.  Admittedly, I bought these shoes to race half-marathons in, so I didn't by them for comfort - that was why I was trying on the Hokas.

That's all for now folks.  Keep it dirty. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Kyoto Trail Run at Fushimi Inari Taisha aka the Best Place to Run up a Mountain

I can't say I've run up many mountains, but Fusimi Inari Taisha has to be one of the best places to run up a mountain and it makes a nice acronym (FIT).  FIT is the head shrine of Inari, the god of rice and is located in Kyoto, Japan. 

The main thing about the shrine that will blow your mind are the thousands, and I mean thousands of torii, which are essentially gates without doors that are painted bright orange.  The front side of the mountain is lined with steps, which makes for a great workout.  Once atop, I found two trails, one going north and one south that help round out the run.  

The trails are conveniently marked with numbered signs that help keep you on track.  On the sides of the trails are shrines, ranging from a handful of rocks to a mini-temple.  The other cool thing are the stone markers that can be found alongside the trail.  In this case pictures are worth a thousand words, so check out the pictures below and the run   at

At the bottom, there is a picture of a rabbit, my spirit animal.  After the run, I took my kids to a local noodle place that I passed on the way to the shrine.  At the end of the meal, the owner of the restaurant presented me two children's books.  One of the books concerned animals finding a fur mitten in the snow and turning it into a house.  One of the occupants was the rabbit.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mount Tapatio, Cinco Loco and toponomastics.

Have you ever wondered how things get named?  Onomastics or onomatology is the study of proper names of all kinds and the origins of names. The words are from the Greek: "ὀνομαστικός" (onomastikos), "of or belonging to naming" and "ὀνοματολογία" (onomatologia), from "ὄνομα" (ónoma) "name". Toponymy or toponomastics, the study of place names, is one of the principal branches of onomastics. (See

This week I've been in a naming frenzy, as my local running trails have been enlarged due to the work of bulldozers that fought the Cocos fire.  As a result, new trails were created and new trails need names.  

On Sunday we did a club run to check out a new trail I named the Ibex after club member Chris B., who is part mountain goat.  The Ibex, after descending off Lakeview Trail, reaches a high point of 1,186'.  The group stopped here for a moment to regroup.  While there, I decided we had to name the peak.  I asked the group to come up with a name.  A few lame names were offered up. Then Dennis found a used Tapatio hot sauce packet on the ground.

The packet of inspiration
Voila, Mount Tapatio was born.  The great thing about the Ibex trail is it drops the runner down to the beginning of Double Peak Trail.  Prior to the Ibex existing, the Double Peak Trail was effectively an out and back trail for a runner from San Elijo, unless they were willing to run at least another five miles alongside roads.

As a result, the Ibex affords the opportunity for the runner to do what I have christened the "Cinco Loco" or stealing from Princess Bride, "The Five Peaks of Insanity".      

Cinco Loco starts at the the beginning of Jeep Trail at Questhaven.  It then climbs Frank's Peak, Mt. Whitney, Mt. Tapatio, Double Peak and and ends at Radio Tower.  I attempted the run today, but had to pack it in at about three and a half peaks.  The four hours of yard work before the run probably didn't help. Once I decided to pack it in, I took Secret Trail, rather than the trail that takes you up the back side of Double Peak to the amphitheater.  (I'm not sure of the name).

Regardless, here is a portion of the uncompleted run, coming in at 2,850' of gain:  I'm guessing the entire run will be close to 4,000'.  If I can actually finish it, I'll post the route.  In the meantime, take the Cinco Loco Challenge and let me know if you finish it.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Dax Trail and Ibex (Chris B's Trail)

After being taken to task by my wife for naming a tenth of a mile of a newly created trail after myself, I had to atone for my sin (not that I believe in the concept, but I am a recovering Irish Catholic).  I decided to name better new trails after other people.  In my mind, this would balance the scales.

First up was Dax.  Dax is my running guru.  It's not a position that he strove to obtain or even knows he holds.  Dax is a few years ahead of me when it comes to running.  When I started the running club, I found out that Dax had been there and done that in San Elijo.  Dax had also grappled with the dilemma of people showing up for group runs who needed their hand held.  Dax would hold their hand, turning a Sunday run into an interval session, running from the front to guide the runners and then back to shepard the lost sheep. My method is a bit different, I basically tell them to fuck off.

Dax started the North County Running Meetup.  Dax started track sessions at San Elijo.  Dax knows everyone in the running community.  When I write a blog post, Dax writes a better one.  Who is this guy?  He's my running guru.

The day I named a trail after myself, Dax and I had a blog comment session.  There was a bit of back and forth, with Dax commenting that having a trail named after yourself needs to be earned, like a nickname.  I told him he sounded like my wife.  Both of them doing their best to keep my humble.  The odd thing is, later that evening, when I left my house with my dogs, who should I see?  Dax, dropping off one of my neighbor's kids.  When the student is ready, the master appears . . .

Dax's last blog post was about the fire, Double Peak, his emotional connection to it and rebirth.  The trail I choose for Dax is mostly an old fire road that was hidden in plain sight.  The fire exposed it, causing it to be reborn.  I couldn't think of a better trail to name after Dax.  The entire trail is contained within a burn area and will rise again like the Phoenix.

In scouting out the The Dax Trail, I felt like a 10 year old running in the woods.  I was running in the Forbidden Forest, in a foot of ash, getting dirty, not caring and not exactly sure where I was going.  I was reborn.  I was having fun.  It was pure running.  My guru was doing his guru thing without even doing it.  The Dax Trail can be viewed at  The trail isn't exactly mapped out, it's a bit of a work in progress, like my spiritual journey.

After Dax, I had to name a trail after Chris B.  Chris is my running buddy and friend.  He's the guy who trains with me, goes to races with me, travels around to other locations to do runs, talks to me on the phone about running, gives me advice and encouragement and has an occasional beer with me.

Chris is also a mountain goat.  The man likes his hills.  He might be better served to live in Colorado, but for the moment, we've got him in San Elijo Hills.  For Chris, I wanted to find a hill trail.

Last week, on the way to a beach soccer tournament (I eat, sleep, run, work, walk my dogs, have sex, read and watch my kids play soccer - that's my life - it's pretty good) I took the 78 freeway.  The 78 offers a good view of the backside of Double Peak, which suffered heavy burn damage from the Cocos fire.  In the car I was sure I saw a new firebreak trail made by a bulldozer coming down from Lakeview Trail.  I got excited like a dog on a scent and since then have been waiting for a chance to explore.

A bit of singletrack existed here, but it didn't go very far before it hit a fence.  I discovered today that the fence was run over by a bulldozer.  Again, I felt like a child.  The wonder, the exploration, the excitement of being where I'm not supposed to be.  I ran on or rather hiked up a vertical wall, one portion having a grade of 47.7%, of ripped up shrubs, piles of rocks and thick piles of soil.  Dirty and sweaty, I was running pure and loving it (thanks McDonald's for ruining that phrase).

At the end of the work of the bulldozer, I was feeling good.  I knew I was going to being able to keep going forward.  I dropped down into an old quarry that was fenced off (until last week) and then spotted two v-ditches that ran alongside two hills.  When there is no trail, run the v-ditches bitches (sorry - I couldn't resist). The v-ditches led to a ten foot high gate, behind which sat a maintenance road with a "No Trespassing" sign. The sign may as well read, "Enter Here."  The gate was missing a fence to go with it, so I walked to its edge and onto the road.  The road then connected to a trail that leads back to the Lakeview Trail.

I had done it.  I had linked up the trail.  I had lived up to the club motto of "above, beyond and through."  1.2 miles of solitude and trespass. It gets no betta.  The trail can be seen at and is called "Ibex (Chris B's trail").  The Ibex being a wild goat that lives in the European Alps.

 Thanks Dax and Chris.  Hope you enjoy your fame.  Keep it dirty.