Thursday, October 30, 2014

Do you Strava?

When I meet new runners, in an effort to get them to join SEHRC, I ask if they're on Strava.  The typical response is, "Huh?  What's Strava?"

Strava uses GPS (Global Positioning System) data from satellites to track athletic pursuits.  The data is recorded via GPS watch or smartphone and then uploaded to Strava.

 Strava was originally used by cyclists and has since expanded to running and other sports, like swimming.  As Strava evolves, I imagine it will become a social media website for athletes, that tracks not only times and mileage, but food, heart rate, sleep patterns and anything else that can be measured and quantified that relates to a person's health.

Strava has a number of components that are appealing to me as a runner and running club founder.  From a runner's perspective, Strava helps me tie my shoelaces and go out the door.  With Strava, I can track what my friends, as well as professionals, are doing.  It helps me connect with people, as I can comment on their runs and give kudos.  I can also observe other people's training methods and then see how they do in races.

Additionally, Strava has a weekly club leaderboard that tracks total mileage, total elevation gain and total time spent running, which is updated as people upload their runs and is reset every week.  Once you belong to a club of a decent size, it feels good to end up on the week's final leaderboard, which only lists the top three in each category.  During the week, all runners are listed.

The other cool thing about Strava are the crowns or CRs (course records).  People can create run segments.  Then, as people run them, Strava tracks the runs and records and ranks the fastest efforts.  Chasing crowns can be a dangerous thing, as many a neophyte to Strava has been more concerned with course records, then proper training.  However, like anything new, once a runner becomes accustomed to Strava, the desire to nab CRs ebbs.  Instead, a runner can look at their past efforts on segments to gauge their fitness and see if they're improving.

From a club founder's perspective, Strava allows me to easily have a running club online.  Runners can find SEHRC on Strava and join if they want.  I can also invite people to join.  Strava automatically compiles all emails for club members, so I don't have to track them.  (I don't even know what they are.)  I can send posts to members and set-up group runs.  I can also make others "Admins" and they can also set up group runs.  Members can start discussions.    

What's really neat is that for upcoming runs, members can RSVP.  This is cool for races, so everyone can see whose running what.

So the next time some random guy asks you, "are you on Strava," hopefully the answer is, "yes".

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Shirt Orders Being Taken

Dear SEHRC members,

The shirt design has been finalized.  Please thank the Bykviking (Erik) for designing the shirts and securing a 40% discount.  

There are two options: (1) tank tops and (2) tech tees, each costs $30.  These shirts would normally cost at least $50.

The deadline to ORDER and PAY is November 12, 2014.

Payment may be made to either John Fraher via cash/check or via Paypal to Erik, Paypal name:  If you wish to send me a check via mail, my address is 1053 Brightwood Drive, San Marcos, CA 92078.

Please send all order/sizing information and questions to

The delivery date will be 12/19 or sooner.

I will have sample sizes on the group run on Sunday, otherwise we are setting up a group meeting (TBD) to try on sizes and hopefully, drink beer.

Don't be shy about ordering one of each.

Tank Top - $30

Tech Tees - $30

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Club shirts - like a kid at x-mas

I am a child at heart.  Sometimes when I put my big boys pants on I forget that.

[Allen Gamble: Do you wake up in the mornin' and say, "I'm puttin on my big boy pants. Look, I'm wearin' a belt. I got big boy pants on."]

One of my journeys in life is to uncover the boy that is still there, like a moon obscured by the clouds, the boy never went anywhere, it just got buried.  Well, I'm digging the boy out and like a kid at x-mas, I have to unwrap the presents a bit early.

The BykViking has spent the last week designing a club jersey at Canari Custom.  They are not quite done, but I can't wait anymore.  I'm ripping off the wrapping paper . . .    

The jerseys / tech tees will look largely like immediately below.  The only difference is that the side panels from the second set of pictures will replace the side panels in the front.

               Front                                        Back

      Side panels                                                   

When the shirts are finalized, I'll start taking orders.  Let's go barking dogs!


It's 3:48 a.m.  I've been awake since about 1:30 a.m.  I went to bed at 9:30 p.m.  Only four hours of sleep.  Why am I awake?  Got a text that Chris B., Greg O. and Greg F. running Elfin Forest at 5:00 a.m.  Am I in?  Didn't think so when I went to bed.  Set the alarm for 4:30 a.m., but figured I'd turn it off and run at 7:00 a.m.  Instead, here I am, trolling Facebook, eating breakfast, drinking coffee and itching to go running.

I get this way when it comes to running now.  Anticipation pulses through me. [Bruce: Don't rush yourself! Sometimes anticipation can heighten the... pleasure.]

I need that run.  It's John-crack.  Things have changed a bit, but not much.  My crack used to be surfing.  If I went to bed and the winds were howling off-shore, the tide was going be low and the buoys were up, there was about zero chance of sleep.

Same thing with cycling.  Group ride into Marin? Nice day in D.C. as a bike messenger?  I'd dream about riding, grabbing onto buses and trucks and playing in traffic.

Now I'm starting to dream about running.  The other night my running shoes were too big and my feet kept slipping out.  But after running 70 miles that week, it wasn't enough, I was running in my sleep.

Now I'm awake.  Time to run.

 John, Chris & Greg

John, Chris & Greg

Fast forward.  It's 7:46 p.m.  All the runners are home.  Except all crack is not created equal.  My crack is more road marathon crack.  I put in 14.9 miles with 3,142' of gain.  The crack of Greg F. and Chris B. is twice as strong, 50K crack, they put in 32.6 miles with 5,336' of gain. Then there is Greg O. crack.  38.3 miles, 8,041' of gain.  It's fuckin' madman crack.

[Now this is Panda, from Mexico. Very good stuff. This is Bava, different, but equally good. And this is Choco from the Hartz Mountains of Germany. Now the first two are the same, forty-five an ounce -- those are friend prices -- but this one...(pointing to the Choco) ...this one's a little more expensive. It's fifty-five. But when you shoot it, you'll know where that extra money went.Nothing wrong with the first two. It's real, real, real, good shit. But this one's a fuckin' madman.]

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 . . .