Sunday, December 29, 2013

San Diego Holiday Half Marathon Race Report - 2013

The inaugural San Diego Holiday Half Marathon took place on Sunday, December 29, 2013.  I originally decided to skip it in order to prepare for the Carlsbad Marathon.  But on Thursday, I started to get an inch to run it, especially since my fellow SEHRC club mate, Chris Bryan, was entered.  I checked the website and the race was sold out, but USA Endurance Sports were going to release 100 bibs, first come, first served on Saturday at 7:00 p.m at RoadRunner Sports.

The previous week I had run 11.8 miles on Saturday, 12.1 miles on Sunday, 11.5 on Tuesday, 4.7 on Wednesday and 9.5 miles (at 6:53 pace) on Thursday, with over 5400 of elevation gain on trails and road - not exactly the best taper.  I told myself I'd do the race as a training run and not run on Friday or Saturday. 

On Saturday, I became a little anxious, wondering if I would be able to get a bib.  I made a pasta dinner with peas and to keep things casual, I had a bit of wine and beer.  After dinner, I drove down to RoadRunner, arriving at 6:40 p.m, where there was already a line for the 100 bibs and it was moving!  My anxiety rose, as wondered if I'd get a bib.  Twenty minutes later I had one and knew that this would be no training run.

I called Chris and we decided he would pick me up at 5:45 a.m. for the race that started at 7:30 a.m.  Our big decision was whether to drive to the start and take the shuttle bus back or drive to the finish and take the shuttle to the start.  To keep my pre-race anxiety in check, we thought it best to drive to the start and prepare for the race under our own timetable.    

I then got home and went through my pre-race ritual of pinning the bib on my racing singlet, laying out my shoes, socks, shorts, warm-up gear and Vaseline.  I also attached the timing chip to my shoes.  I then charged my watch and tweaked my running songs on my iPod Nano.  I ate about half a pound of X-mas chocolate and then went to bed.

I woke up at five, got dressed, rubbed on the Vaseline, made coffee and ate two fried eggs and a bagel. Chris showed up at 5:45 and off we went in his Mini.  We pulled into the Albertsons' parking lot around 6:10, parked near the port-o-potties and sat in the car for awhile.  
Chris and John - all smiles at dawn
Chris and I then ran a 1.7 mile warm-up around the parking lot, hit the potties and then dropped our sweats off at bag check.  We then did four 60m strides and with that we were ready.  We walked over to the start and had no problem getting in at the front of the race.  I got a little annoyed when a fifty year old man wearing a lifting belt used by movers, two knee braces and carrying an extra 20 pounds decided to stand in front of me in the sub 1:25 corral.  Really?  I moved.    

People we don't know at the start
The National Anthem was then sung and away we went.  As usual, I went out a bit too fast, but I have a hard time holding back the adrenaline rush.  We went up two hills and then connected to the 56 bike path. Once on the path, it was pretty much a straight drop to the finish near Torrey Pines State Beach.  Around mile six there was a half a mile of hill and around miles 10-12, there was some rolling hills, but that was it.  

Around the second mile, a guy named Brad Calder ran up alongside me.  He kindly informed me I had a piece of toilet paper sticking out of the side of my shorts.  With that breaking the ice, we ran side by side for the next 7 miles or so, each pushing the other.  I kept looking at my watch and couldn't believe my mile paces, 5:44, 6:05, 5:49, 6:01, 6:04, 6:01.  I was flying.

During this segment, I grabbed an energy drink, which had the consistency of cough syrup.  I had to drink a bit, as I needed something, but water would have better.  

At mile nine, I told Brad I had to dial it back and for him to go for it.  Brad who is 45 and had traveled from Washington State, went on to take first in his age group.  I then ran alone for a mile before Rashaad Forehand, a guy I had passed around mile 7, caught back up.  I was then faced with one of those make or break moments, stay in my comfort zone (my pace had dropped to 6:43) or see what I could do.  I hung on to the back of Rashaad and we ran the next two miles in 6:18 and 6:05.  

A little over mile 12, Rashaad was starting to fade.  Rashaad had gotten me through two miles, it was my turn to return the favor.  I started telling him he could do it.  His breathing was labored, his form was failing, but Rahaad pushed on.  "800 meters!"  "600 meters!"  Every time I said something to Rashaad, I forgot about my own pain and actually felt better.  We ran mile 13 in 6:09 and crossed the finish line together in 1:20:45.6, a 6:07 pace for the race.  

My Superman crystal
I couldn't believe it.  My La Jolla Half Marathon (4/28/13) was 1:34:52, a 7:15 pace.  In eight months, I had dropped 14 minutes or over a minute a mile.  Running in San Elijo Hills baby!  It makes you strong.  My time was good enough for me to win my age division (40-44) and I got a sweet trophy.

Chris Bryan pulled off a personal best, running a 1:26:16.5, a 6:34 pace.  To celebrate, Chris and I had a pint or two at Stone Brewing Company and a plate of hummus.
To the victors, goes the beer @ Stone Brewing Co in Escondido
Definitely a great race and a great time.  Thanks San Diego Holiday Half Marathon, hope to see you next year.

Post-race:  The day after.  I went to work today, which involves sitting, reading and typing, and my legs got progressiviley sorer as the day wore on.  Funny how my legs don't hurt immediately after a race and it takes some time for the soreness to arrive.  It's a good lesson to remember to keep me from running on sore legs the next day and damaging my muscles.

The race also gave me one another insight.  Around mile 9, my abs got tight and were having difficulty with the pace.  All my training is running.  I don't do anything else and I barely stretch.  If I'm going to get faster, I'm going to have to work on my core and do more speed work to get my abs used to it.  

San Elijo Hills Running Club


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Passing mountain bikes while running

This morning, after running for a little over two hours, I was on the Copper Creek Trail aka Post to Pillar, where the trail does an "S" turn. At the same time, five mountain bikers came down from the San Elijo road access point and went up the trail towards Brightwood.

I continued running and got a little extra energy when I realized I could catch the last mountain biker.  I reeled her in and as I came up alongside her, she said, in a friendly voice, "You're not allowed to pass me on the hill."  In response, I said, "You don't want to know how long I've been running for."  She replied, "I'm sure I don't." I then passed her.

It is one thing to pass runners, it's a lot more fun to pass cyclists!

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Friday, November 22, 2013

Running & Drama

This week has been interesting.  I'm on the board of a soccer club and much drama has occurred this week at the club.  Without going into specifics, I've spent the week being called a liar, who is engaged in a witch hunt.  The name calling doesn't really bother me.  I've got a thick skin.  I'm an litigator.  My job is to deal with people in unpleasant circumstances.  Usually, people conduct themselves as professionals, occasionally they don't.  I can play either way.  I prefer dealing with professionals, but I'm just as good as dealing with people who like to throw mud.

In any event, I've spent hours, tens of hours dealing with a situation, at the same time, I have to work.  All this has left me really tired.  I crave sleep.  I dream about sleep.  All I want to do is sleep.  But I can't.   I have to work my job, then spend all my spare time dealing with what is such an obvious, no brainer situation that I cannot understand how anyone in their right mind could take a contrary position.

What does this have to do with running 50 miles a week?  Everything.  I have no energy to run.  My normal cycle is something like sleep, work, run, eat, walk dogs, watch kids play soccer, repeat.  Throw in countless telephone calls and meetings about nonsense and I have to take out running.  My body may be willing, but my mind isn't.  I just want sleep.

End conclusion?  Running is a physically and mentally challenging sport.  To run 50 miles a week, work and raise kids, one must be absolutely ruthless and focused with their use of time.  Throwing in constant board activities was too much for me this week.  That's okay.  Since I run so much, its okay to give my body an unforeseen break every now and then.

But for the professional runner and record chaser, one must make a decision to either live like a monk with a a singular pursuit of that record or not.  There is no middle ground.  Yes or no.  Black or white.  Drama or no drama.  So if you want to be the best, be ruthless with your time and focus on that single goal, otherwise you may as well get a position on a board and forget that record.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The legs feed the wolf

The other day, while watching a soccer match,  I was having a conversation with Sam Lauris, Technical Director for FC Sol, a soccer club in San Marcos.  Sam was talking about an expression one of his coaches, a man from Minnesota, used to say during training: "the legs feed the wolf."

Apparently, as the spring thaw comes, the caribou migrate north to give birth, find food and escape heat and insects.  As the wolf eats the caribou, it too must go north. But the wolves without the legs to follow, fall by the wayside, starve and die.

I love the expression, both for soccer players, especially strikers, as well as runners.  If you want to score, wear down your opponent with repeated attacks, until finally you break them and score, feeding the team.  With a little bit of googling, I came across this quote attributed to Herb Brooks, coach of the U.S. Men's Hockey Team who beat Russia in the 1980 Olympics, from the movie Miracle:.

Herb Brooks: Red line, back. Blue line, back. Far blue line, back. Far red line, back. And you have 45 seconds to do it. Get used to this drill. You'll be doing it *a lot*. Why? Because the legs feed the wolf, gentlemen. I can't promise you we'll be the best team at Lake Placid next February. But we will be the best conditioned. That I can promise you.

The next time you're out running, imagine you are a wolf, running for your dinner and your life, perhaps you'll find a bit more energy.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Independent Middle School League Cross County Finals 2013 - Guajome Park

The 2013 Independent Middle League Cross Country Finals took place at Guajome Park on November 4, 2013.  The course was approximately 1.7 miles and the same as at a meet earlier in the year.  Again, Zach was nervous and expressed a desire not to run.  At this point, having gone down this path with Zach before, only to have him tell me afterwards he was glad he ran, I ignored him. 

Zach had a good start (see video).  He pulled away from the pack within the first few seconds and maintained a healthy gap for the remainder of the race, finishing first in 10:07, which works out to a 5:57 mile pace and a nice improvement over the 10:45 he ran for the same course in September. 

After the race, Zach told me he thought he'd like to run in middle school, so apparently winning chases away the nerves. 

Good job Zach!

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Temecula Half Marathon Recap Part Deux

After the paparazzi and running groupies gave Chris B. a moment of rest following his top 13 finish in the Temecula Half Marathon (1:33:37, 7th in the 40-49 age group), which took place on October 20, 2013, we sat down in his kitchen for an interview.  Chris described the race as follows:

I decided to run this race as a rust buster of sorts as it has been a year since my last race. I've been having problems over that time with a chronic ankle issue that will continue to bother me until I elect to have surgery.

My training lately has been decent but not as consistent as I would like. I’ll get in a couple decent weeks and then need to cut back to let the inflammation in the ankle settle down. This may not be such a bad thing though, as in the past I've had a tendency to over train…Recently moving to SE Hills has been a good way to get back in shape, I've always liked running hills and there sure isn't a shortage here! It is definitely good training ground for the endless and steep rolling hills in the Temecula Half Marathon.  

It’s a tough course, 3/4 on gravely and rutted dirt roads that made me wish I didn't wear flats because my feet got sore from rocks poking them, and the rest on pavement. Strava says the gain in elevation was 1282 ft. 

My legs were fried at the turnaround (halfway) and I was in 15th place at that time. I felt like I was slowing drastically but moved up 2 places on the way back to the finish. I guess the people in close proximity to me were hurting too. 

Around mile 9, I could hear people right behind me cheering for the first woman; she was good motivation to keep giving a strong effort so I wouldn't get passed. I think she ended up finishing about a minute behind. It was cool to not be running a time trial but to be racing, due to the out and back nature of the course I knew what place I was in the whole time. 

I didn't look at my watch on the way back; I didn't want to get discouraged if I was drastically slowing, which it felt like. I just focused on running as hard as I could. I was surprised I wasn't getting passed by a lot of people. Overall I'm pretty happy with this race. I think it indicated I've got a good shot at PR'ing on a flat road half marathon course in December. Running hills every day has me pretty fit. 

Chris B.
Victory Pose

Chris B. for San Elijo Hills Running Club

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lake Hodges 2013 50K Recap - Running with the fear

Back in a former life, I was a hardcore surfer.  This week brought back memories of that life.  I used to live in San Francisco and Ocean Beach, home of 48 degree water, 45 minute paddle outs, six wave sets and double and triple overhead waves, was my break.

To get to the beach, my friend Sam and I would drive down Lincoln Way, which runs alongside Golden Gate Park and hits Ocean Beach.  On big days, especially on dawn patrol, Sam and I would drive the three miles to the beach in his silver Nissan Sentra, quiet as church mice.  We knew we were going to get worked, that our arms were going to burn and that we would paddle straight up waves, hoping we would just make it over the top, before the wave crashed on top of us, sending us into a world of pain.

On the bigger days, as we got closer, not only could we see the waves from a mile out, we could hear them. Sam and I may have had the fear on those days, but we never spoke of it.  We pulled on our wetsuits, waxed our boards and trotted off into the surf, dealing with the fear.

This week, the fear rose up in me.  I had signed up for the Lake Hodges 50K, which is 31.06 miles and took place on Sunday, October 27, 2013.  Prior to Lake Hodges, the longest I have ever run was the Carlsbad Marathon in January 2013.  The six weeks prior to the marathon, I was injured and ran a total of about 40 miles.  During the race itself, I had to walk the last three miles and was in a considerable amount of pain, finishing in 4:07.  Once done, I swore I would never run a marathon again.  

Despite all that, here I was, a few days away from running 31.06 miles!  What was I thinking.  Was I ready, could I do it, would I survive?  The closer I got to the race, the more the fear rose up.  There was nothing I could do.  I was either ready or I wasn't.  I could either run or not run.  I chose to run with the fear.

The race itself began in a very foggy Rancho Bernardo at 7:00 a.m.  Just prior to the start, while sitting off the back of my car drinking coffee, my spirit animal, a rabbit, ran into the parking lot, over to my car and then back into the woods.  I took it as a sign that I was in the right place.

At the start line, about 150 runners were lined up.  The race began and about seven or eight runners got out in front of me, some of them appearing to go way to fast (apparently at least one runner eventually dropped out).  I eased into the race and a long train of runners formed behind me.  Over the next two miles, three runners passed me, placing me into about tenth.  I let them go, knowing the race had barely begun.

I felt good and the next five or six miles no one passed me.  I slowly reeled in a guy in front of me who was carrying two water bottles.  I couldn't quite figure this out, as there was water on the course.  One water bottle I could understand, but what was the point of two - that's a lot of extra weight for a four plus hour race.  I decided I had to beat him.  I passed him, going into ninth and up next was a guy who looked strong, but probably weighed 190.  I'm six feet and weigh 150.  I knew it was only a matter of time.  I caught him around mile 9, putting me into eighth.

Next up was Tracy, a women I spoke to after the race.  Tracy ended up winning the woman's division in 4:25.  I caught her, going into seventh and for the next 8 miles, I passed no one.  Finally around mile 16, I caught my last runner, placing me into sixth.  At the turn, at 18.75 miles, I felt good, but my body was tiring.  At the same time, my Garmin died and I was running blind so to speak.  I had a vague idea of course distances, but I like my watch . . .

I turned around and headed back up Raptor Ridge.  At the crest, Tracy caught me and I put in one last effort, trying to fly down the hill and put some distance between me and her.  It worked for a bit, but soon enough Tracy passed me and she was gone.

I soon began to struggle.  My right butt cheek had been tight since mile five.  Now it was creeping up into my back.  Each step with my right foot was beginning to hurt - why was I doing this again?  I wanted to stop, but I kept going.  Finally around what I figured was 26.2, I began to walk for a bit and then run.  I was now into new territory, I had never run more than 26.2 before.  I was almost there.  For the next four miles, I stayed in seventh.  Finally, with about a mile to go, a man caught me and another one was gaining on me.

However, the guy who caught me had two guys following him on mountain bikes for the last bit of the race. They were carrying his water and I had to step off the trail to let them pass.  I imagine this is the sort of thing that can get a runner DQed and it annoyed me enough to find some more energy.

I decided to give it my all and run the last bit.  The race finishes with a climb up a hill and then a downhill section.  The man who had just passed me, was walking the hill a little further up.  I was running it.  He was looking back.  I had a chance.  I caught him at the top of the hill.  I sprinted.  He tried to keep up with me. He couldn't.  I poured it on, I felt no pain.  I was almost there.  And then after four hours, thirty-five minutes and twenty-four seconds I was done.  I had never run so long in my life.  I finished seventh, could barely speak or walk, but I was done.

The race itself was well organized, had a friendly vibe and had fantastic people manning well-stocked aid stations out on the course.  If you have never run a 50K, this is the place to start.  Thanks for the experience and a huge medal!  

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Running nervous - hey it's normal

On Monday, October 21, 2013, the fourth meet of the Independent Middle School League (IMSL) took place at Miramar Lake at approximately 4:00 p.m.  At 1:41 p.m., I received the following text from my son Zach: "I don't wanna go to the race".  Texts back and forth soon followed, with Zach texting me he did not want to race and me encouraging him to finish the season.

What brought this all about was Zach was nervous.  To put this in perspective, Zach has won the prior two races he entered this season by 20+ seconds.  These were not run to you puke type efforts, but more like jogs for Zach.  It's hard to fathom, but a kid dominating the season, was still getting nervous.

But hey, we all get nervous, its normal and only natural.  Races, whether or not we are running to win or for a personal best, involve putting ourselves out there.  We don't want to disappoint ourselves and our expectations.  At the same time, running is a difficult and solitary sport.  There is no one to rely on but yourself and you never know if your legs are going to show up.

Shana, the mother of Zach's teammate, Colin, was scheduled to drive Zach to the meet.  I called Shana and explained the situation.  Shana graciously agreed to convince Zach to run.  Shana and her husband, a former ski racer and motorcross racer, then spent the car ride giving Zach a pep talk.

Among other texts, Zach sent me ones telling me not to come to the meet.  I texted back that I would come, but would not talk to him.  I got to the lake before Zach and stood off to the side, keeping my promise.  Zach soon arrived and came over to me.  I gave him a hug and he told me he wasn't nervous anymore.

Starting line (I know, I need to take better photos)
Once the race began, Zach sprinted to the front, stayed in first the whole way and won by 20 seconds on the two mile course.  Remember, everyone gets nervous - even the winners.

Zach with his #1 stick

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chris B. Fast - Temecula Half Marathon Recap

Congratulations to SEHRC's own Chris B. who on October 20, 2013, took 13th overall in the Temecula Half Marathon in a time of 1:33:56.

A blurry picture of Chris, who is in the federal witness protection program, from another race. 

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Raptor Ridge Trail Half Marathon 2013 Recap

On October 13, 2013, I ran my first trail race, the Raptor Ridge Half Marathon.  The marathon took place in Escondido and started across the street from the North County Mall.  The race was limited to 400 people, which gave it an intimate feel.  I was pumped up for the race, feeling well prepared and ready to go.

I walked right up to the starting line and got a position in the front row without a problem.  Standing next to me was Nick, a guy I remembered from winning the UCSD Triton 5K earlier this summer.  At that point, I knew at best I was taking second.  The race began and I got on Nick's back, running the first mile in 5:24.  I knew this was unsustainable, so I let Nick go, but noticed there was no one behind me.  I was wondering what was going on - I was in second place!

The next two miles I ran around 6:20 pace and stayed in second.  Around the fourth mile, a man named Matias caught me.  We chatted for a bit and then the 300' climb up the single-track began.  I said, "go for it," but Matias told me to set the pace and that we would push each other.  Up the climb we went and a third runner joined our little group.  We crested the peak, tore down the backside and floated into the turnaround at 6.5 miles. Matias made pace for the next mile or so and then I took over going back up the hill we had just ran down.

As we ran back, we started to pass all the runners behind us.  They all yelled "good job" and "way to go" and encouraged the three of us to keep at it.  This type of positive encouragement from the runners we are competing against always amazes me.  After the race, a guy named Marcus called this the "warrior spirit."

We then flew down the front of the hill and as it bottomed out, my right side got a massive cramp and I told the two other runners to leave me.  I walked for about a minute, my side aching and my mind thinking about there goes my good finish and self-pity began to creep in.  Then the cramp started to go away.  I turned around and saw two runners approaching and decided to drop the hammer, pushing myself to a 6:05 pace and opening a gap.

Up ahead I could see Matias and the other runner, but they looked too far away to catch.  I just wanted to hold onto my fourth and maybe win my age division.  I concentrated on pace and broke the remaining three miles down in my head into twelve 400 meter segments, then eleven, then ten, etc.

As I ran, I opened a bigger gap on the two runners behind me and I started to pull in Matias.  The other runner having dropped Matias.  I didn't think I had enough race left to catch Matias, but slowly and surely I was gaining and he looked to be fading fast.  Finally, at the last 200 meters I caught him and gave it everything I had left, sprinting by him and to the finish line, finishing third!  I couldn't believe it. A podium finish.  I timed myself at 1:26:35, but the official time has me more around 1:29.

It was a little ironic that I finished one place ahead of Matias, because I don't know that I could have beaten him without his encouragement.  Thanks Matias, I owe you some help next time.

Receiving my free sneaker coupon and extra large beer.
(Thanks to Sean Reynolds for the picture)
Then it was off to the Hess Brewery in North Park for the awards.  I was looking forward to a medal for coming in third, but I didn't get one.  Instead, I was given a coupon for a free pair of Merrell shoes (worth about $100), a $15 gift certificate for RoadID products, an extra large Raptor Ridge beer and anti-blister cream.  Not bad and completely unexpected.  

A beer well earned

Thanks to Dirt Devil Racing and the San Diego Running Institute for putting on a great race.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Running like Frankenstein on a treadmill

In my never ending quest to categorize people, I identified another type of treadmill runner, while running on the treadmill this morning.  The first was the "Noisy Runner", who lands on their heels and makes a ton of noise.  I've since, in my mind, renamed them "Elephants".

The new category of runner is the "Frankenstein".  Frankesteins place their arms on the front portion of the treadmill and just shuffle their legs.  I'm not sure why they rest their arms.  I've never seen anyone run with their arms not moving, why do it on a treadmill?  Why give up the extra calorie burn and workout for the arms?  At the same time, the Frankensteins also destroy their running form.

I suspect Frankensteins do it, because it generates the illusion of being able to run faster than they actually can. Running on a treadmill, for a variety of factors, enables a runner to run faster than they would be able to on a track.  If a runner takes it one step further and lays their arms on top of the treadmill and supports their body weight, they can literally float along the top of the treadmill belt.

I suppose running like a Frankenstein is better than not running at all, but if a runner goes to the trouble of going to gym, changing their clothes and getting sweaty, why not at least try to run like a runner as opposed to a Frankenstein?

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Running to win

On Monday, October 6, 2013, the third meet of the Independent Middle School League cross-country season took place at La Jolla Shores.  The race was a 1.7 mile out and back course, the runners going a bit past Scripps Pier and then turning around and coming back.  For Zach, this was like a home meet, as he used to go school a few miles away and has raced the course a bunch of times.

Unfortunately, I wasn't at the meet, but my wife snapped the below photo of the start.  The thing I notice first about the picture is that Zach has a big smile on his face, as if to say, "this is going to be fun!"

The start
Zach then took me through the race, explaining the race had a start line about 30 yards wide, marked by two cones. Zach lined up at the cone closet to the water.  His closest competitor choose the cone closer to shore.  This was important, as the race course ran along the water, so his competitor had to run a few more steps west to reach Zach.

Zach got out to a good start, took the pole and kept at least 10' between him and the next racer, as he wanted to take away the ability to draft.  The boys behind ran in a chase group, but did not run in an echelon in order to help cheat the wind, which was blowing sideways to the course.  As the race progressed, Zach cruised along at 70% pace and slowly increased his lead. Zach was running just for the win, as running for time was meaningless, especially on a beach course.

Prior the boys' race, the meet began with the girls heading out first.  Initially, Zach was opposed to this idea, but after the race began he appreciated it.  The reason being that as Zach caught the tail end of the girls, he began to pick them off, one by one.  Each time he passed another girl, he focused on catching the next one. At the end, he sprinted the last couple hundred yards and brought home another gold.      

Bringing home the bacon in the new uniform

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When running at the track, respect the track

As a runner, I'm lucky to live a few miles from the track at Cal State University San Marcos.  At the moment, I'm into Phase 2 of Jack Daniels' running formula for a marathon.  Daniels has two types of runs at this stage, easy running and quality workouts.  The quality workouts consist of running certain distances at different paces, which he calls easy pace, marathon pace, threshold pace, interval pace, etc.  Daniels provides a table for runners to figure out what their various paces should be for certain distances.

Running at the track helps me run at my target paces without worrying about elevation changes, running surfaces, cars or stop lights.  I therefore consider myself fortunate that CSUSM chooses to not lock its track and lets the general public use it.

Whereas the track half a mile from my house at San Elijo Middle School is locked up, along with the basketball courts.  God forbid that people might actually play basketball or run around the track - no wonder the country has a weight problem.   I surmise they do it to stop the "vandalism".  Oh yes, I forgot, its super easy to break steel poles, asphalt and dirt.   No, no, the taggers.  What are they going to tag?  A few poles? Buy some paint.

But I digress.  Last Sunday I was at the track doing a workout when a family of five showed up.  The mother and father did a work-out that seemed to mainly consist of stretching and the kids walked/jogged around the track once or twice.  However, the kids then proceeded to take a four-wheel steel cart, with hard edges, used for moving hurdles and equipment, from one end of the track, across the soccer field, to the other side of the track.  Along the way, two of them would ride on the cart.  Once on the other side of the track, the kids proceeded to play on top of the cart.

I can't blame them.  As a 10 or 11 year old, I'd probably do the same thing.  Although, I do blame the parents.  Hey, guys, do you want to control your kids?  You are guests at the track, treat it and the soccer field with some respect.  Of course, if the the kids got injured, you know the family would sue CSUSM.

Another runner at the track, who I later spoke with, just shook his head in disgust when later on the father pulled the cart, along with the three kids, back across the middle of the soccer field - can you say rip up the grass?  At least pull it on the track, not the grass.

Anyway, the next time I show up at the track and the gates are locked, I won't be surprised and I'll know who to thank.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Monday, September 16, 2013

Winning at Guajome Park

One month ago, Zach pulled out of the Wild Duck 5K, which was run at Guajome Park, due to injury. All healed up, Zach returned to Guajome Park for the first cross-country meet of the Independent Middle School League for 2013.

The course was 1.7 miles long, over mainly dirt trail, with a bit of grass, and a small hill.  Zach, who is the one bringing home the medals for the San Elijo Hills Running Club, ran the course in 10:45, which is a 6:19 mile pace, and took first place.  He finished 20 seconds ahead of the next competitor - the way I'd like to win a race (good luck).

Zach told me he led for most of the race, but allowed one runner to pass him when they turned into the wind. He deliberately drafted off the runner for a bit, before passing him on the hill.  Zach said he could hear the runner breathing really hard as they ran up the hill, so once Zach crested the hill, he picked up the pace and never looked back.

Congrats to Zach!

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Monday, September 9, 2013

Running, soccer and life

At the moment, my life is a whirlwind of running and soccer.  Somewhere in the middle I find the time to work, keep up my house, service my cars, walk my dogs, garden and do all the things necessary to keep my life moving forward.

I am trying to simplify, if simplify means not doing anything but run and watch my kids play soccer.  Last weekend I went to eight soccer games!  This went beyond a healthy dose.  Watching my kids play soccer is stressful.  Watching my daughter play goalie is even more stressful.  Doing it all in 90 degree heat just adds to it.  After doing nothing but stand and watch, I came home exhausted.

But this is the window of time I have to watch my kids play sports and there is nothing better than watching my son score goals and my daughter make saves.  If my running suffers,  so be it.  I'm in the middle of following Jack Daniels' Running Formula and am trying to run 50+ miles a week.  I did it for six straight weeks.  This week I felt tired.  I only ran 45.  I let it go.  I can't be a slave to my running spreadsheet or I'm going to end up hating running.    

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Wild Duck 5K Recap

Wild Duck 5K

The Wild Duck 5K, which is put on by North County Road Runners, is part of the USATF Dirt Dog XC Series. The race took place on August 24, 2013 at Guajome Park in Vista.  I was originally slated to run the Wild Duck with my son Zach and pace him. However, Zach has been having pain in his heel, perhaps Sever's Disease, so we felt it best to rest him.  As a result, I switched from pacing him to racing the event.

The first 5K I ever ran was the UCSD Triton 5K in June 2013.  In that race, which has a relatively flat course, I paced Zach and we ran it in 20:43.  The Wild Duck course I knew would be a bit hillier, but I wasn't sure of the course and didn't realize it was posted on the SDUSTAF website until about five minutes ago, which was Mistake #1.  Always know the course, before you race the course.


The morning of the race I left with plenty of time to spare, as I knew the parking situation would be difficult, as there is not much room to park at Guajome.  Although, the internet flyer for the race indicates that "you must park inside the park".  Of course when I got to the entrance to the parking lot, per the directions on the flyer, I was told the parking lot was full and I was going to have to park on the other side of the park.

Gee thanks.  Next time don't tell people you have to park in a specific place and then not have enough parking.  Instead of driving to the other side of the park, I parked a quarter of a mile away in a housing development and walked to Guajome. No big deal, as I used the walk as part of my warm-up.


The vibe of the race was good.  It's a low key event that benefits the Mission Vista High School cross country teams, so the boys and girls teams were out in force, along with some other schools.  In addition, members of the San Diego Track Club, North County Road Runners, PRT (Prado Racing Team), Jamul Toads and other local clubs were present.

Gathering intel

The first race was the Masters's Race (age 40 and above) at 8:00 a.m.  I should have been running in that race as I'm 41, but I lied about my age to be able to run with Zach.  Instead I was "37" for the day, which felt great, and competing against the youngsters.  In running, if you're going to lie, it's better to make yourself older than younger.  The Master's Race started a few minutes late, but I got to observe the start to know what to expect for the Open race at 8:30 a.m.


The race started with a typical cross country start, with a mass of runners lined up on the grass, which after 70 meters funneled into a dirt trail ten feet wide.  The race did not use personal electronic timers that recorded times as runners ran past the start and finish.  Therefore, once the horn sounded, there was no waiting - you ran.  At the starting line, I was in a quandary: start my Garmin a few seconds before the race began or wait for the horn, which would mean I would not be poised to get out in front.  I choose to start it about five or six seconds early.  I think it was the right decision.

The race then began with "runners set" and then a "brrrran" sound from the megaphone.  I took off and tried to get relatively close to the front, as there were a lot of high school students I would need to pass if I got off to a slow start.

I started to settle in to a decent pace about 200 meters in and was then kicked from behind.  I high kicked my way of it, but no apology was forthcoming.  I settled into my pace again, but was then confronted by a bunch of runners who were already fading a quarter of a mile in.  I moved up a bit, but ended up behind a man I wanted to pass, who was running zig-zag across the narrow trail.  If I went left, he went left.  If I went right, he went right.  I finally went to the outside of the trail, revved it up and passed about 20 people, before I settled back down.

Of course, this was Mistake #2, as this was within the first mile.  Strava has my mile splits as 5:33, 5:40 and 5:43 for the race. (Although these numbers are somewhat suspect.)  This is the exact opposite of how I should have run the race, my slower splits should have been at the beginning.  No matter, I relaxed and settled into a pace behind a pack of three runners, who I drafted.  I spent the next mile and half behind these guys, before they dropped me on the last hill.

As I came down the hill, I regrouped and readied myself for the final 200 meters.  I kicked and had just enough left to sprint hard to the finish line.  I finished at 18:05 per the course clock or a 5:50 mile pace.  I was pretty happy.  I met my goal of running under 20:00 and I had taken 2:38 off my best 5K time.  (Interestingly, Strava places me at 17:11 for moving time.)


Upon finishing, I really began to sweat as I walked over to where I had left my water and pullover.  Race tip: if you are at a race alone and there is no bag check, place your things near the finish line, so after the race you have a short trip to get that water!  I then walked  back to the race start to watch the other runners finish and was given an ice cold Muscle Milk, which tasted so good.  Another race tip: make sure you have a change of shirt at the end of the race and a towel.

All-in-all the race was a fun event and will help me set new training paces for the coming months.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Running on the treadmill sans shirt

Okay.  I admit it.  I'm the guy at the fitness club running on the treadmill sans shirt.  As there is no wind inside to cool me down and aid in evaporation of my perspiration, I end up dripping with sweat. During one such shirtless session, I was told  by one of the staff members that I needed to wear a shirt.  I get it, my sweat is getting all over the machine, but it gets all over the machine even if I wear a shirt, just not as much. Anyway, I wipe it off when I'm done.  If I do wear a shirt, by the time I'm done with a 50 minute run, my shirt has absorbed two pounds of sweat.

But my question to the fitness club is, where's the sign that says shirts must be worn inside?  Is it generally known that shirts must be worn inside health clubs or am I just being ridiculous?  We are there to work out and when people work out, they sweat.  I know, I'm being ridiculous.

Now last night I ran at the treadmill I have in my house.  I didn't wear a shirt.  By the end of the run, my running shorts looked like I had just gotten out of a pool.  I guess all the sweat that my shirt would have absorbed ended up trickling down to my shorts.  Either the shirt absorbs half the sweat or the shorts absorb all of it.  Basically, its six of one, a half-dozen of the other.

Okay, I'll wear a shirt at the club, but I don't have to like it.

San Elijo Hills Running Club 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Running at Fiesta Island

Fiesta Island is an island located in Mission Bay in San Diego.  The attraction for runners is that it is flat and has a one-way road, about four miles long,  that circles its circumference.  The island is also popular for dog walkers and cyclists.

I'll take the dogs, but could do without the cyclists.  When I run Fiesta Island, I run clockwise, which is against the cars and cyclists which travel counter clockwise.  Generally, there is almost no traffic on the island, at most there are drips and drabs of vehicles circling the island, especially at seven in the morning.  As a result, the typical cyclist has the freedom to navigate the entire width of the one way road without fear of being run over by a car.

However, rather than move over two or three feet when they encounter me, most cyclists, who are apparently on a world record pace and don't want to deviate from their line, can't be bothered to move more than 12" from my shoulder.  I don't really get scared by this behavior, but I am somewhat concerned that one of them is going to plow into me at 20 mph.

I find this a bit ironic, as I used to do training rides at Fiesta Island back when I was a roadie.  I don't recall buzzing runners and pedestrians on my rides, but then I had no illusions that I was breaking Chris Boardman's hour speed record.

I'm not exactly sure when the attitude and sense of entitlement crept into cycling, but I think it was the 1990s. I remember being a bike messenger in San Francisco and was having a conversation with a guy who had a bike on his roof rack.  He told me he had drove in from Marin and was going to ride in Critical Mass that Friday night.

I thought it funny that he drove his car into the city, so that he could ride his bike in Critical Mass.  If you're going to ride in Critical Mass, ride your bike into the city.  Otherwise, it sorta misses the point.  I'm sure he thought himself pretty cool for riding in Critical Mass and pissing off all the motorists trapped in their cars as 5,000 cyclists ran stop signs and red lights.

I considered him a poser and felt like I did a one-man Critical Mass every time I got up  in the morning and went to work.  To top it off, I felt as though on Mondays following Critical Mass, the cars paid me back for Friday night's Critical Mass ride.

In any event, if you ride a bike and you're not in the middle of a UCSF sanctioned event, the next time you pass me, to paraphrase Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Won't you give me three feet, gimme three feet mister, and you'll never see me no more."
San Elijo Hills Running Club

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Olivenhain Cross Country Invitational

The Olivenhain Cross Country Invitational is a USA Track & Field certified cross country race specifically designed for kids 6-13 being held in Encinitas (Olivenhain) at the Meeting House off of Rancho Santa Fe Road on Saturday, August 31st.

The organizers are putting on 8 gender-separate races from 8am-10am (youngest kids run first). They will have free PowerBar product, free New Balance goodies, free professional photos for downloading, t-shirts for the top finishers, unique olive-themed awards for overall winners, and most importantly, the full professional cross-country experience for the kids (e.g. a fully-lined, "European-style", all-dirt, multi-loop course).

They will even have 50 cowbells for Mom and Dad to borrow and ring!  Plus "The Flash" will be leading the younger racers.  How cool is that?

Make it a family day by running in the morning and stopping by The Pancake House for brunch afterwards. The event itself is just $10 per kid!

This is a great opportunity for kids to experience a true cross-country race.  Please help the organizers achieve their goal of 200 entries, so that they can provide this event on an annual basis.

For further details, check out

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Monday, August 5, 2013

Running with the lead dog

I played rugby for two years in college.  One year at Rutgers in New Jersey, one year at Exeter University in England.  I wasn't the most dedicated player and kept getting my ear ripped open, but the drinking kept me coming back.  One of the things that I always remembered about rugby was one of the coaches made us run with a Lead Dog.

The coach, a former USA Eagle, took the slowest guy on the team and put him in the front for our warm-up runs.  No one was allowed to pass the Lead Dog.  I always wondered, why pick the slowest guy?  Why not me?  One of the faster guys?  Eventually, I realized the coach wanted the slowest guy to be Lead Dog, so the warm-up didn't turn into a race.

I've recently had the good fortune to run with a few of my son's teammates on endurance runs.  I've incorporated the use of a Lead Dog on the runs.  The purpose is to keep the team together and prevent the slower players from trying to match the faster players.  On an endurance run, especially at age 12, it's not about how fast or how far you go.  It's more about how much time did you spend running.  On the runs, I only have one rule - don't pass the Lead Dog.

Respect the dog!

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Running with Encinitas Express

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to lead a few of the players from my son's soccer team, Encinitas Express, on a training run I call the Mini-Q (Questhaven) (  It's a 3.2 mile run on dirt trails with 440' of elevation gain.

While on the run, the first thing I noticed was all the boys had good form, with their feet landing on the front or mid sole - none of them were heel strikers.  The second thing was the ease in which they ran the route. When I was 12, I'm not sure I could have run it, let alone in 34 minutes.  If you want to find the next batch of cross-country runners, raid your local soccer club.

The last and most important thing I noticed, was their attitude.  The boys were not concerned about time, pace or mileage.  Rather, their primary concern was calling out all the horse and dog poo on the trails. Throughout the run, the boys cracked jokes, talked and had fun.  For example, after I told them how runners bump one another in track races, they began to elbow and push one another in a playful manner.

Next time you go for a run, run like a kid - you'll have more fun, which is what it's all about anyway.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Monday, July 22, 2013

Running spirit animals and speeds

Cheetah - 71 mph
Panther - 71 mph
Tiger - 60 mph
Pronghorn - 57 mph
Springbok - 50 mph
Wildebeest - 50 mph
Blackbuck - 50 mph
Lion - 50 mph
Brown Hare - 48 mph
Red Fox - 48 mph
Gazelle - 47 mph
Greyhound - 46 mph
Rhino - 45 mph
Jackrabbit - 45 mph
Horse - 45 mph
Elk - 45 mph
African Wild Dog - 44 mph
Kangaroo - 44 mph
Onager - 43 mph
Gray Fox - 42 mph
Hyena - 40 mph
Zebra - 40 mph
Coyote - 40 mph
Mongolian Wild Ass - 40 mph
Whippet - 35 mph
Rabbit - 35 mph
Jackal - 35 mph
Reindeer - 32 mph
Giraffe - 32 mph
Grizzly Bear - 30 mph
Leopard - 30 mph
Cat - 30 mph
Wart hog - 30 mph
White-tailed deer - 30 mph
Human - 27 mph
Elephant - 25 mph
Gorilla - 25 mph
Panda - 20 mph
Squirrel - 12 mph
Chicken - 9 mph
Mouse - 8 mph

Running on a treadmill next to a noisy runner

I like running on the treadmill at the health club across the street from my work.  It gives me a reason to get up and drive to work super early.  There's a certain peace to the club in the early morning.  Not that many people are there.  Everyone is sorta of quiet, as they are all waking up.

I like the treadmill, because I can concentrate on one thing, speed.  The course never changes, there are no stop lights and I have to keep pace or I'll fly off the back.  I plug in a pace and I can just concentrate on running.

Another great thing about the treadmill, is that I can hear my footsteps.  Am I quiet?  Am I loud?  I try to have whisper feet, that just glide across the belt.  The quieter my steps, the more efficient I am.

However, there is one woman who runs regularly in the morning, who I will call Ms. Clomper.  Ms. Clomper overstrides and lands on her heels with noise so loud, you can hear her running on the floor below, 100 feet away.  Luckily, I wear headphones and can drown out a bit of the clomping, but I have the continued urge to give her advice.  I desperately want to tell her to shorten her stride, just a bit.

It's a bit like a Seinfeld episode, some people are "close talkers", she's a "noisy runner."  If I tell her she's a noisy runner, will she become self-conscious and stop running?  Will she tell the health club management that I'm harassing her?  Or will it just create a bad vibe, so that every time I see her, I'll feel uncomfortable.

For now, I'll do my best to keep my mouth shut and just run.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Monday, July 15, 2013

Running Nicknames

I was looking on the internet for a list of nicknames for runners, but was only coming up with names in drips and drabs.  To remedy that, I've created the below list, in no particular order, of nicknames for runners.  I look at this as a work in progress and will attempt to add to it, as well as take suggestions in the comments section.

Galloping Ghost


Speedy Gonzalez






Flying Finn


San Elijo Hills Running Club

Friday, July 5, 2013

Running on the boards

I’m on a stop and go journey of trying to become a better person. One of the reasons I run is to keep pushing myself towards that better person off in the distance.  I lack patience, get irritable and generally want people to behave in a manner that accords with my preset notion of how people should behave.  Unfortunately, not everyone subscribes to the Book of John.  However, when I run, as the miles tick by, I find I have more patience, my mood improves and I begin not to care or be bothered by how other people act.

This week I’m lucky enough to be on vacation in Ocean City, New Jersey.  Of interest, Ocean City is a dry town, where there are no bars or liquor stores and restaurants can’t serve alcohol.  If you want a beer, you have to drive over a bridge to Circle Liquors, pick up a six pack and drink it in your house.  Since it’s a dry town, it ends up being a town full of families.

The two big attractions in Ocean City are the beach and the 2 ½ mile wooden boardwalk which abuts the beach on one side.  On the other side of the boardwalk, for about 1 ½ miles, are t-shirt shops, pizza joints, miniature golf places, ice cream stores and the like.  For this mile and a half the boardwalk has bike lanes, surrey lanes, pedestrian lanes and lanes for runners going north and south.  The lanes are clearly labeled and marked.
However, not everyone stays in their designated lanes and others drift from east to west without looking to the north or south.  No big deal, right?  Just run around them.  For Mr. Irritable, it can be a big deal and as I begin my run, my mind is besieged with thoughts like, "Why can't people just stay in their lanes".  I lose my patience and struggle to hold my tongue.  

After five days of running the boards, I've managed to let go.  I just run.  If someone is walking at me in the "RUNNERS" lane, I run around them.  If someone walks in front of me without looking, I avoid them.  I've shut my monkey mind off and let the experience of being surrounded by runners, walkers and cyclists wash over me.  Of course, now that I've let go, its time to go home.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Running with a group

My next door neighbor Paul runs with a bunch of guys in San Elijo Hills on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings.  Paul has invited me to run with them a couple of times, but I hadn't ever gotten around to it.  Normally I get up and drive to work in downtown San Diego as early as possible to avoid traffic.  If I want to run, I run downtown along the water or on a treadmill in a health club.

Today, after having been sick for more than a week, I needed to go for a run and decided I could deal with a little traffic.  As it turns out, the running gods have been smiling down on me, as the group meets up a quarter mile from my house, at the end of my street.

This morning there were four runners and a dog waiting on the corner.  We set off right about 6:00 a.m. and headed south down the dirt path alongside Questhaven.  On the way, we picked up four more runners and another dog and headed into the dirt trails off Questhaven.  Chris, who recently finished a 100 mile run, led the group, which allowed me to zone out and just go with the flow.  Even though I knew exactly where I was, it's nice to have a tour guide.

This was the first time I had run with a group since my junior year of high school and I had forgotten how much I liked it.  Since I started running again a year ago, with the exception of running with my son, I've been a lone wolf runner.  I was now part of a pack, and a hardcore pack at that.

We ended up running a little over six miles, and although my legs were a little sore for not having run for awhile,  I felt good.  After the run I realized I should have done this months ago.  As a result, I encourage everyone who is a lone wolf runner, to run with a pack every now and then, as it enriches the running experience.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Saturday, June 8, 2013

UCSD Triton Cup 5K

The Race

The UCSD Triton Cup 5K took place on June 8, 2013.  This was the first event the San Elijo Hills Running Club entered, with club members John and Zach competing under the club's colors.  Hats off to UCSD, this was a wonderful event to run in and the vibe was fantastic.  The race itself is a USAT&F certified course consisting of a relatively flat circuit that takes the runners around the campus.  I paced Zach throughout the race and he received many compliments from the other runners both during and after the race.

Lesson Learned

Zach and I started at the front, behind the eventual race winner.  I told Zach to go hard the first 100 meters, in order to get out  front and avoid the need to pass runners.  Next time, I'll need to refine my advice, as Zach sprinted the first 100 meters in probably 16 seconds.  I got caught behind a few runners and it took me a bit to catch up and tell him to slow down.  This explosion probably dented his time a bit, but Zach was still able to finish 103rd overall in 20:43.4 or a 6:41 mile pace, a personal best for Zach.

John, Kat, King Triton and Zach post-race

Lessons Imparted

Throughout the race, I provided a steady stream of instructions and motivation to Zach.  Perhaps the easiest thing a young runner can do is take the take the shortest path and find the correct line, e.g., rather than run on the outside curve, run on the inside and save a step or two.  I also encouraged Zach to let gravity help him  and to open his stride when going downhill.  To that end, I told Zach that he was in a raft and all he needed to do was float down the hill.  All in all, the purpose of the run was for Zach to have fun and become comfortable in race situations.  We succeeded on both counts and Zach and I are looking forward to running it next year.  

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Running Books

I have read a bunch of running related books, but many of them I would not recommend.  I am interested in how to run, how to run faster, how to run without injury, how to recover, nutrition and the science of running.  The local bookstore is filled with books about how to train for a 5K or marathon, but these books only offer daily training volume and tables of times.

I don't see the point of following training programs like a robot unless you understand your body and the effects training has on it.  The books listed below offer training advice coupled with the science behind it.

The first book, Sports Speed, I used when I coached the girl's and boy's sprint teams for Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco for one season back in 1998.  This was my first time coaching a sport and both teams did extraordinarily well.  I credit the success of the teams on Sports Speed, as I relied on it to create the warm-ups, plyometric drills, form drills and sprint training.  I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in running faster.   (Dintiman, George, Ward, Bob and Tellez,  Tom.  Sports Speed, Second Edition.  USA: Human Kinetics, 1998.)

The second book, Lore of Running, is the one book you should buy if you could only own one book on long distance running.  It delves heavily into the science of running, including muscle fibers and oxygen uptake, as well as how to train for specific races.  It also provide a history of running's best runners and their respective training routines.  (Noakes, Tim.  Lore of Running, Fourth Edition.  USA: Human Kinetics,  2001.)

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Trail Etiquette

This morning I was running on flat single track and encountered two mountain bikers coming the other way.  The mountain bikers, contrary to the International Mountain Bicycling Association's Rules of the Trail decided not to yield and road straight at me.  As a former bike messenger, mountain biker, roadie and track cyclist, this type of behavior annoys me, but I've come to expect it.

The question then becomes do you continue running straight at them as I did, or do you yield?  As the two riders came an inch from hitting me, along with their unleashed dog in an area where no dogs are allowed (I own two dogs), I opened my mouth, as I generally do, and told them, "you are supposed to yield to runners."  No response came back, but I then spent the next few miles reflecting on my behavior.

Luke, one of my two dogs.
At the time, I was wearing my San Elijo Hills Running Club singlet and therefore representing the club. As I continued to run, I mulled over what the club should represent: outlaw runners or courteous runners?

Although it pained me, I came to the conclusion that members of the club should strive to be courteous runners.  If 40 year old rookie mountain bikers won't yield the trail, step aside, let them pass and live to run another day.

San Elijo Hills Running Club   

Friday, May 31, 2013

Uniforms arrive

Like a kid at Christmas, I was super excited when the package with the new uniforms arrived at my work.  I ripped it open and immediately had to run to my office and try it on.  I don't know about you, but putting on a team uniform definitely amps me up.

Zach & John in their new uniforms
I'll be sure to wear the uniform on the trails in and around San Elijo Hills.  If you see me, please say "hello", so I can convince you to run the Post to Pillar.

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Triple

The third version of the Post to Pillar is the "Triple", a 2.85 mile run with 562 feet of elevation (subject to revision).  This run is the same as the Post to Post, but rather than finishing at the Post, the run circles the Post and returns to the Pillar.  The clock stops when the runner touches the Pillar.

The triple is the last permutation of the Post to Pillar.  The first version touches the Pillar, the second adds a turn at the Pillar and the third adds a turn at the Post.  From here, runners can run multiple circuits ad infinitum, e.g. the "quad" (3.6 miles), "quint" (4.5 miles), or "hexa" (5.4 miles).

The Triple, due to its up-down-up topography, creates a natural interval run and provides an opportunity to extend the stride on the "down" leg.  The Triple also gives the runner a chance to work on pacing, providing two splits for the "up" leg.  Finally, the Triple is also a good tune-up run for a 5K, as the elevation gain more than makes up for the shorter length.

Triple record:

Men's:      23:15  John F. (41) - 5/27/13 Strava link

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Monday, May 27, 2013

Post to Post

The Post to Post, also known as the "Long Course" and the "Double", is a 1.89 mile trail run with 281 feet of elevation gain and no street crossings.  The Post to Post is the out-and-back version of the Post to Pillar.  When the runners reach the Genoa Way Access pillar, they circle the Pillar and return to the Post.  The clocks stops when the runner touches the Post.

POST - return view
Post to Post records

Men's Record:       16:12  John F.  (41) - 5/27/31  Strava Link
Women's Record:  Open
Boy's Record:        16:12  Zach F.  (11) - 5/27/31
Girl's Record:        Open

San Elijo Hills Running Club

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Post to Pillar

The Post to Pillar, also known as the "Short Course", is a .95 mile trail run, with 222 feet of elevation gain (subject to further confirmation).  It has no street crossings.  The run begins on the Copper Creek Trail, across from the middle school, where three posts are located.  

The Post 
The runner begins with their hand on the middle post, the "Post".  The clock starts when the hand of the runner comes off the Post.  The run starts at an elevation of 620 feet.

POST (middle) - Start of Post to Pillar
(Runner view)

Snake Bite 
The trail starts with a gradual ascent, passing the elementary school.  The trail then lurches from 6-8% grade to 13-20% grade, with a hard left and then a hard right at the trail intersection.  This section is known as "Snake Bite".

Snake Bite - the approach

Snake Bite - left turn
Snake Bite - hard right at the intersection

Snake Bite - the right turn
(downhill  view)
The Pause 
The trail continues to rise, with Copper Creek down below on the right.  Further up, the trail makes a wide right turn, before reaching the "Pause", a short flat portion, just before the Brightwood Drive Access to Copper Creek pillar.  The Pause is at 811 feet of elevation.


Brightwood Drive Access
to  Copper Creek Trail pillar

The Plunge
Immediately after the Pause, the trail plunges at 12-15% grade into the Garden Trail.  Runners take a hard left at the intersection onto the Garden Trail.

The Plunge - close view

The Plunge - far view - begins on far left
and intersects Garden Trail (right side)  
From here, it's all uphill, with almost a straight shot to the Genoa Way Access to Garden Trail pillar, the "Pillar".

The Pillar
The clock stops when the runner touches the Pillar, which is at 843 feet of elevation.

PILLAR - Finish of Post to Pillar
Genoa Way Access to Garden Trail pillar 
(Runner view)

The Post to Pillar run was created and first run on May 26, 2013 by Zach and John in a time of 8:56.  John currently hold the club record with 6:50.  The Post to Pillar run is a segment and all record times will be verified via Strava, which is free for this purpose. 

Post to Pillar records


1. 6:50  John Fraher - 6/14/13
2. 7:24  Jeremey Odom - 6/12/13
3. 8:01  Jeremey Odom - 6/4/13
4. 8:56  John Fraher (41) - 5/26/13




1.  8:56  Zach F. (11) - 5/26/13

Girl's:        Open

Post to Pillar history

The "Genoa Way Access" portion of the Garden Trail sign was originally called "Questhaven Road Access."  In 2012, the metal signs from trail pillars were removed and replaced with synthetic signs after thieves began stealing the signs for scrap value.  I guess somewhere in the process the access point name was changed.  I must say, Questhaven sounds much cooler.  Also, notice the gray rock that appears in 2010, has gone missing by 2013.  

Genoa Way Access - 2013
Questhaven Road Access - 2010

San Elijo Hills Running Club