Friday, August 31, 2007


Welcome to the first ever (un)OFFICIAL, (il)LEGAL, "ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK 12 HOUR FUN RUN!"

Don F. from EastBay Frontrunners and introducing Jeff Johnston, fellow ultrarunner will be joining me for the entire AYAOTD12HFR!

(Oakland Hills: 9pm - midnight)
On the dark trails in the hills.

(Lake Merritt: midnight - 4am)
Come join in the fun at Midnight! After 3 hours of trail running (in an undisclosed location, shhh!), we will move down to Lake Merritt. We will setup my vehicle as the Aid Station at EBFRW's regular meeting spot. Check street cleaning signs so you don't get a ticket!!

(Alameda: 4am - 9am)
After 4 awesome FUN! hours of going in circles, we will be moving over to Bay Farm Island (aka Harbor Bay, aka Alameda). Again, we will be parking in the usual EBFRW meeting space, on Veterans Court.

In Alameda, we have others that will be joining the FUN around 6am, maybe Fred & John T. (do I hear other names?) Give me a call when you arrive (or when you are on your way.) I'll let you know where we are at so you can come join us! Keep in mind that we'll have been running over 8-10 hours by this time and might not be making a lot of sense! ;)

You can send a text message any time of the night to send encouraging words.

I will have food/gu/gel/bars/water/aspirin/advil/tums and what not, but feel free to bring something to share (do I hear donuts and coffee in the morning hours???)

Brad Niess,

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Woo hoo!

I get to run tonight! I sometimes worry that I'm getting burned out on running but today I feel anything but burn-out! I can't wait to get out there again and do some running!

Pretty warm today (85+), so perfect for some heat training. Ok, so it's not 95 and going uphill at mile 40 (RDL), but it's better than nothing!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In recovery mode

After Sunday's run, I've been a little out of it. I was a bit more dehydrated than what I thought. Clouds, fog and cool temperatures created an illusion that I didn't need to drink. Lesson learned, keep up the hydration! Drink! I remember going to fill up my water bottle at the second aid station and noticing that I still had a full bottle. I looked down, took a few big gulps and then refilled it. I even said out loud, Uh oh, I'm not drinking enough. Should have listened to myself!

Monday I took it easy. Tuesday (today), I'll be taking it easy once again. While most people would take a few weeks to recovery from Sunday's race, I'll be back on the road Wednesday with the EastBay Frontrunners running around Lake Merritt for a slow 6 miles. No need to take anything fast right now!

Preparing for Friday night's run. I'm really excited. Sounds like Don is really going to try and go the entire time and Jeff, someone I met at Headlands on Sunday will be joining us. It's going to be great. I have two more EBFRW members joining us in Alameda around 6AM to finish out the run.

More rolling on the foam roller, another pair of trail and road shoes and I should be good to go! I hope that I'll be receiving my package from Zombie Runners soon! I ordered a flashlight and hope to have it for Friday!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Golden Gate Headlands 50k

What a course!

I got to the start line nice and early at 6am (I hate being rushed!) I quickly got my number and went to the bathroom. If I've learned anything from running races, get to the restroom as fast as possible, the lines can get long. I went back to my SUV and put on my number, ate the last of my Cliff Bar, drank some more water and read over the course description one last time. One thing I didn't want to happen was to get lost and have to back track up those steep hills!

We moved down to Rodeo Beach about 5 minutes to 7AM. The temps weren't that bad, but the wind kept things a little cool. With a quick countdown we were off across the beach. This is the first time I've run in sand/pebbles. It was a good 3-5 inches deep in places. Since I started very close to the back, I watched the footprints to see which path had the most compacted sand. I thought the last thing I need to do is wear myself out on the first 1/4 mile!

The first part of trail was uphill, something that would happen quite often in this race, uphill and downhill. Not quite as much as Diablo, but darn close. As we crossed the road and headed up Wolf Ridge. Here I caught up with Charles Savage. I had run with him off and on at Skyline 50k and had given me some good advice for my upcoming 100 miler. What a difference running (well, at this point walking) with someone else makes. Charles was describing the course to me. I had asked him what his expected finishing time would be for this race. He thought it would be around 7 hours. Since Charles finished a few minutes ahead of me at Skyline, I figured it would be good for me to keep up with him.

About 35 minutes into the run, a guy in front of me ate dirt. Luckily his hands caught most of his fall and not his face. It sounded pretty rough. 10 minutes later, a woman about 5 feet in front of me somersaulted down the trail. I've never seen someone roll down the trail before. I backed off a little bit after that happened. The trails had some loose rock so I decided to ease up a little and not follow so closely. The last thing I needed was to run into someone that fell.

Quick little steps going up the hills, controlled strides going down. After the second Aid station, we crossed Highway 1 up yet another hill. The next section of downhill has to be one of my favorites. The trail was overgrown with vegetation, but that just made it even that more exciting. I flew down the hill. I put the image of water flowing down the trail and I was that water. It felt like I was floating. As I passed another runner, she asked if there was poison oak on the trail. I told her probably, but not think about it. There was nothing we could do until the end. I told her if she needed, I had lots of Technu in my car...I've had my fair share of poison oak this year!

As I was heading up the next hill, Charles had run into a friend of his that he hadn't seen for quite some time. As they were catching up, I started to pull away. Lots of uphill and I was feeling aggressive, so I pushed on ward by myself. Soon, there voices faded and I was all by myself. It's amazing how you can be only 30 seconds ahead/behind someone and feel completely alone! There were a few times where I felt nervous that I might not be on the right trail. I'd slow down a little until I saw the next ribbon and then push forward.

Finally made it up to next aid station. Quickly grabbed some food, filled my bottles and was off. At the parking lot, were we go from trail to road through the parking lot over the road and back onto the trail...I got a little confused. As I was running into the parking lot, I had no idea where I was going. There were no ribbons, no flour markings. All of a sudden I hear a "Hey, over here!" I looked up and there was a guy waving both hands on top of the road. Thank God. I'm always worried that I'm going to get lost, and I probably will one of these days!

Up and over the road and back onto the trail. This was another great trail. A little wet from the trees collecting fog but still great. Here I caught up to a woman named Amanda. She had also run Skyline 3 weeks earlier. We talked and talked as we coasted down the trail into Stinson Beach. As we ran down the road to the aid station, one of the volunteers motioned up to the hill we just came down. Wow, that was a pretty big hill. I told him I preferred not to know how big the hills looked because I knew I still had to go back up!

Out of Stinson Beach you back up the Dipsea Trail. The views are awesome with the Pacific Ocean off in distance. Here I again pulled away from the group and ran by myself. I was still feeling pretty strong and pushed myself up the hills as quickly as possible. I knew the hills would eat up a lot of my time. Up, up, up. There's actually a spot in the trail that has a ladder. I've never been on a trail that used a ladder. This stuff was steep!

Passed a few more people on my way up and over to Pantoll aid station. I got out of there pretty quick and back on the Coastal Trail. Another great trail. Ran most of it with just a little walking near the crest of some of the hills. Down to the Heater cut-off trail with some assistance of another great volunteer showing us the way. Thanked him for being out there to point us in the right direction and started my descent into Franks Valley. Again, another fun trail. Tons of switchbacks down, down, down. I again pictured water flowing down the trail and I just floated down. It was a blast. Finally at the bottom, there's a horse stable and up and over onto another trail. By this time, Charles had caught back up with me and we continued on to Muir Beach.

Out of the Muir Beach aid station, another steep climb up on the Coastal trail, some nicer rolling along the side of the hill and then a drop down into a valley and back up the other side. I was very happy with my downhill running. There were many rocks and roots to trip on, but my legs stayed controlled and my feet were fluid. I had a few moments but was able to recover quickly.

Back down a fire road and across the valley to the last climb of the day. This is where running with Charles saved me. This hill is insane! The nickname "killer coastal" trail. I wanted to stop and rest several times, but told myself that I had to stay with Charles. No matter how much it was starting to hurt, no matter how out of breath I was, I was going to be on Charles' heals. Thank god I did! There were a bunch of false summits as we made our way along the ridge. There's just nothing worse than coming up on what you think is the last hill and then looking up and seeing yet another hill to climb. There was a little hairy spot here when the trail drops down along the side of the cliff. The trail was full of loose rock and had a steep drop. About lost it, yet again, but was able to maintain my footing.

Finally, we made it up and over the last hill. Here the trail starts it's descent to the finish line. There were a few more switchbacks and staircases. I just opened up my stride and flew down the trail portion. I really didn't have a sense of how far away the finish line was but decided to push it all the way through to the finish. The trail dumps onto a road which is downhill to the finish line. I let my stride open up and let gravity do the work (well, my legs were certainly doing a lot of work too!)

I had a nice strong finish and crossed in 6:26:21. I was very happy with my time. I was expecting around 7 hours and to finish a good 34 minutes faster was awesome.

Great race, lots of great volunteers, and a great finish area. Certainly a race to have on the schedule for next year.

Thank you Charles for letting me tag along with you. Thanks Amanda for conversation as we descending into Stinson Beach. And Steve, I'll see you at Rio del Lago! If you need crew members, send me an email...perhaps I can find some people.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

News article on Headlands 50k

As I was reading through this mornings Ultra List email, I clicked on a news link about the upcoming Headlands 50k.

Since this race is the 2007 USA 50 Kilometer Trail Championship, it's given more press than other races. In the article, they talk about potential winners of the females and males. Well, oh my God! if I didn't see my name appear. Now, I know why it's there, but reading the article, it actually appears that I have a chance of winning the race. (Which is not going to happen...unless everyone else gets hurt or completely lost!) The reason why it's there, is because I'm currently in 1st place in the 29 and under, 2007 PA/USATF Ultrarunning Grand Prix.

Still cool.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

And things come together

One month. Wow, 1 month before I attempt my first 100 miler. Seems quite daunting but not impossible. I remember back in June when I thought about the upcoming Run Across Iowa, "What the hell am I getting myself into. I'm never going to be able to do this!"
Well, It has been two months since I was nervously lying down in a motel in Sioux Falls, SD, looking up at the ceiling thinking...holy crap, no turning back now. Amazing how quickly I have achieved goals I never thought were possible and here I am one month from achieving yet another goal. (And isn't it interesting that the goals quickly become larger and harder than the previous one??)
I started feeling the pressure of getting things together for RDL 100 when I was asked if I still needed crew members. Huh? Crew..pacers...drop bags...hotel rooms...oh no! I had been procrastinating as much as I could, but realized I had to get things in order and quickly!
Happy to report that the hotel room has been reserved, two pacers have been found and confirmed (Thanks Paula & Don!!), crew is almost there, and drop bags...well, I need to do a little research about what should go in them. Still a few items to purchase, shoes for starters. But, everything is coming together and I am feeling pretty good about it.

Now, time to refocus my thoughts to Sunday's upcoming run, Headlands 50k. Scary looking hills.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Upcoming race Headlands 50k

"Walk the uphills, shuffle along the flats and run the downhills." This was the first bit of advice that I received when I did my first ultra marathon (Skyline 50k, Aug. 2006)

This profile was recently uploaded on the Headlands 50k website. All I can say is Where's the Flat part?? There weren't kidding when they said this was a hard course. 7,500 feet of climb! That's 15,000 feet of climbing and descent! Holy ____!

This isn't the tough course. Mt. Diablo 50k has 8,900 ft of gain. So I guess another way of looking at it, it's 1400 ft easier! Right?

Another positive: Rio del Lago 100 mile has 9,000 ft of gain. So it's like Diablo, only it's flatten out over 3 times as much distance (well, 3x plus 6 miles).

Yesterday, Johan and I hiked Diablo starting from Mitchell Canyon. A good 12 mile roundtrip up to the summit and back down. We'll see if that was too much to close to Headlands or if it's just fine. My legs feel fine, so that's a good sign!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Hill training on the street

Had a great 6 mile run last night. Up Keller Ave to Skyline Blvd, along the trail to Grass Valley Staging Area and back. The first 1.8 miles has about 700 ft of climb. And I ran the entire way. That's a first for me! Usually I use the "walk up hills" mantra that I do in Ultras, but last night I thought I would go for it. I shorten my stride, almost to the point of running place in the steepest sections.
Feeling pretty good this morning, just a few pains that I usually have.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

What is routine??

The past few days I feel like I just might be back into a regular running routine. Monday was a rest day since I ran 50k on Sunday. Tuesday a fast 6 miles around Lake Merritt. Wednesday another good 6 miles around Bay Farm Island. Seems like I'm getting back into decent weekly mileage. Of course I am totally busy Saturday and Sunday with chorus stuff, but I think I'll be able to still get in (dare I say!) a 20 miler this weekend.
I think I may have found a pacer, Paula (from Castro Valley). I ran into her on the trails at Skyline 50k and happen to come across her email in a mass email I received. I think tonight after hitting the trails for some needed hill work, I'll be working on my schedule for Rio del Lago. This probably should have been done about 4 months ago, but hey, last minute, under stress seems to really motivate me!
17 days until my next 50k! (or 9 days if I do Mike Palmer's run).

Monday, August 06, 2007

Another 50k sign-up

Give an ultrarunner some down time and all of a sudden his schedule becomes even more busy!

I just signed up for the Headlands 50k which takes place on August 26th. Should fit in pretty nice with training for the 100 miler.

More later!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Skyline 50k

Always a fun race! Right away I met the person that I would run almost all of the race with, Meg. This was her second 50k but had been runner for quite some time. She was worried that she was holding me back, she did anything but that! It was probably her that helped me run as quickly as I did.
More details later...

Finish time ~6:04:xx. Very happy with the time. I wasn't out to break any records!

Off to the trails

Getting ready to go run Skyline 50k. Funny how after a year I'm still all nervous. I've been up since 4am, even though I could have easily slept until 5. Feeling a little stiff this morning, but I think the energy of the race will loosen my legs right up. Amazing how the energy at a start line can really invigorate me. I usually need to watch that I don't go out to fast though. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement.
Plans for today:
Remind myself this is a training run. I'm not out to get a new PR. I haven't been training on hills all that much and need to take it easy and build up to Rio Del Lago 100!
Practice what I learned yesterday at the Chi Running workshop. It made a lot of sense so time to practice. I will practice keeping good posture, keeping my legs behind me and keep a constant cadence.
Remember to stay well hydrated. It's suppose to be fairly cool out so, but sometimes the sun can really heat up some of the valleys.
Have fun! Isn't that what it's all about!?!
Off to the races!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Rio del Lago 100 Mile...not as easy as first thought

Using the word "easy" around a 100 mile race (especially since I haven't run one!) probably isn't a word that most people wouldn't use. But when looking for my first 100 miler, Rio del Lago was one that was mentioned to me as being easier than most 100 milers.
Well, there is a great LISTSERV for ultras that has been a wealth of information. On that list this morning, a list of many ultras and IronMan Triathlons were listed according to difficulty, with Western States 100 mile as the 100% benchmark. Same person completed both the event in the list and WS100 in the same year. The relative percentage is averaged over the samples:
According to this list, RDL is 92.6%. To give you an idea of where other races fall on the list:

Badwater 135 mile 158.7%
Leadville Trail 100 mile 104.2%
IronMan Wisconsin (140 mile): 57.5%
IronMan Hawaii World Championship 44.6%
Firetrail 50 mile 36.8%

That really gives me a new respect to the 100 mile distance. I've watch IronMan Hawaii on TV many times and thought wow, that's really tough and I probably could never do that. Now to look at this list and see that the "easy" 100 miler that I'll be doing in September is 48% TOUGHER than IronMan Hawaii!

Off to the Chi Running Workshop.

Friday, August 03, 2007

One month and One day!

That's how long it will be from when I finished running 306.9 miles to running my next race, Skyline 50k. I remember hearing people would only run one marathon a year, because any more than that and it was too much. Are they crazy??? Or am I?

I had a nice run Tuesday on the trails and Wednesday around Lake Merritt. I took yesterday off and have yet to decide what I'll be doing tonight. Saturday morning I'm taking a Chi Running workshop at Innersport in Berkeley. I'm interested to see what I'll learn and what/how I can apply the concepts to my run on Sunday.

Since getting back on the trails I've noticed I'm having more IT Band issues. I'm wondering if it's my trail shoes or if I'm just running too hard on the hills.