Saturday, November 11, 2017

The hectic life continues: Heroes Run 5K and more

I feel so bad when I can't keep-up with my weekly blogging rhythm and, if I can't find or make the time to write a post during the weekend, it's really challenging to set time aside during the work week.

Last weekend was one of these challenging one, stuffed with so many activities.

  1. It started right off the bat when I was double booked at 9 am: 2 years ago, my boys offered me a TEDx session to attend; because I travel and race so much, it was for me to select one fitting my schedule and it took all this time to get the stars aligned, ironically with a session at Agnès' new employer, the famous Harker School. Yet, I also wanted to race the Cupertino Heroes' Run 5K right in my backyard, as a pre-Turkey Trot speed test. Both events scheduled to start at the same time, 9 am...
  2. I also had to work on our USATF Pacific Association Ultra Grand Prix schedule for 2018 and spent more than 4 hours on this, Saturday afternoon and evening, creating a sophisticated spreadsheet and a few emails to race directors.
  3. On Sunday, I spent almost 7 hours at the Earthquake stadium in San Jose, at an amazing tournament of Rugby Sevens, with 12 teams from all over the world (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Chile, Japan, China, England, Ireland, Canada, USA) plus the top US College teams, what a show!
  4. Before that, was able to squeeze a 17-mile long run of course...
  5. Church, a date with Agnès, a Marriage Encounter meeting and a few more hours of work to wrap the weekend up, phew! But not much time to blog indeed...
The SCC Heroes' Run is organized by the Sheriff's office and Fire Department of our Santa Clara County, to raise awareness and funds for the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center and the VMC Foundation. While this is mostly a popular and fun event, with many costumes, a few days after Halloween, last year's top runners clocked 2 very impressive times, 15:05 and 15:18. I was back from a sesamoiditis last year and was happy to be running again and placing 6th. My main goal this year was to run fast then rush to the TEDx event right after so I was fine if I didn't make the podium again this year. (Credit for race photos: event's Facebook page.)
The race started late last year and, this time again, the gun fired at 9:08. Despite the small field, the start got pretty hectic actually. First, there was this couple next to me who looked more interested in getting on the pre-start pictures than running.

On the other side of the pack was a tall runner who was wearing headphones and speaking loudly about how fast this race was with times of 15 to 17 minutes, so I assumed he was going to stay a bit behind as we started. No, he actually started in a 45-degree diagonal and cut several of us off, the obstacle race had just started!
It had rained during the night and up to a few minutes before the start so the course was wet. After passing half a dozen of runners who couldn't hold our initial 5:15 min/mile pace, I took the lead and settled on a 5:35 pace. I could hear someone just behind me but didn't want to lose balance by turning my head back. We were also pretty close to the Sheriff's motorcade which consisted of 2 motorcycles opening the road for us. But I didn't feel the policemen were paying much attention to us, they were talking to each other, waving to the volunteers we were passing and watching to incoming traffic. At full speed on Blaney Avenue, around .8 mile, we turn on Price Avenue. As I was trying to avoid a slippery crossroad band on the ground, I almost hit one of the motorcycle who changed direction to stop a big truck which was getting out of a garage, yikes!
Short after this emotion, my Garmin watched buzzed to indicate I had run the first mile in 5:33, good! Well, 5:40 wasn't fast enough for the runner on my heels and I was surprised to see Elliot passing me so early in the race. I know it's just a matter of time that he runs these short distances much faster than I, but I thought this was a pretty aggressive move. I maintained a 5:40 pace and that allowed me to pass him after a few hundreds yards and maintain a lead.

After quite a few turns on this convoluted course, I had lost my sense of orientation and, when getting back on Pacifica, I saw the motorcycles going left and thought this was the wrong way so went right, then stopped to see what Elliot would think. Must have been only 4 or 5 seconds before remembering the course and resuming my sprint for a win in a time of 17:47, Elliot crossing the finish line right on 18:00 (versus 17:31 last year).

Between the lack of competition and the wet road, we both ran slower than last year.

You can see both of us finishing (and the motorcyles! ;-) in this Facebook video.

The third runner was also under 16 (Elliot is 13!), what a strange and unusual podium that was from an age perspective: 53, 13, 16!

All results available on the chip timing company's website.

I apologize to the race director for having to leave right away and he assured me he'll find a way to pass the award to me. Or maybe it ended up in other happy hands! ;-) (Photo credit: Brian Daniels)
A well organized event overall, certainly worth spending the whole morning to enjoy the full experience which includes especially an obstacle course for kids and the popular landing of the Sheriff's helicopter as I mentioned in my blog post last year.

Last but not least, the 3D flyover from

I was in the shower by 9:37 and parked at Harker by 9:55, seated in the amphitheater by 10 sharp, just in time for the second speaker, what a rush!

I wish the talks were already available on the Harker School and TED websites but they need to go through TED's approval first. I'll post on Facebook when I hear about their availability. We heard from:
  1. Ryan Evans, CEO of Inboard Technologies, about an electric skateboard to solve the last mile problem of public transportation as the city centers around the world keep closing traffic to cars;
  2. Julie Campistron, CEO and Co-Founder of Stop, Breath & Think, on the benefits of mindfulness in all aspects of our hectic lives (pun intended for me...);
  3. Alan Kropf, Executive Director of Education at Anchor Distilling Co., about tips to create your own career through passion and love for what aspires to you;
  4. Last but not least, Andy Semenza, a Senior at The Harker School, on the danger of over-specialization and the benefits of team work to break the silos to address global challenges and complex problems.
Respective pictures (challenging lighting):

There was also amazing exhibitors at the expo:
  1. Giacomo ONO, a $99 3D printer which uses your phone to control the polymerization process;
  2. Serafilm Keybo, a laser-operated virtual keyboard to type text or play the music;
  3. Sesame from Candy House Co, a remotely-controlled widget which can open your existing door locks;
  4. Conduit Sports, headphones which plays music through your skull, not your ears;
  5. Nomiku, providing food to be cooked sous-vide with their device;
  6. And the popular Inboard which gave test drives of their electrical board to students.
I really enjoy, check this amazing set of inspiring resources in case you haven't heard about it!

As for the Silicon Valley Rugby Sevens, I managed to see 14 games on Sunday, a lot of action with only 7 players on each side but a full-size rugby field. Games only last for 15 minutes but may players looked exhausted at the end of each game. Kudos to Team USA for reaching the finals in such a competitive field, and Australia for their win!

2 mini videos for you to see the kind of action with so few players on such a large field:

One of many Team USA tries against England in semi final:

And, a heads-up, the 2018 World Cup of Rugby Sevens will be played in San Francisco (AT&T Park) in 8 months! Oh, and it has been an Olympic sport since Rio 2016, too. More champagne rugby to flow, yeah!!

And the hectic and ultra life goes on, nice to catch-up a week later! ;-)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Almost recovered

Everything is so relative in life... On one hand we have these many people who are coping with catastrophic events, many called natural although they are so connected to industrial consequences of global warming. They have lost their home to fire or floods, all their belongings, maybe their job too and they are still struggling many weeks later to get back to a normal life if there is such thing given the circumstances and the impact these events will have financially and emotionally for many years.

Me? It just took me two full weeks to recover from a serious cold I contracted again while in Europe., that's all... Was it the fatigue after the 50-mile Nationals three weeks ago, or the international trip including a red eye, or the lack of sleep during the conference in Berlin, or bugs which I'm not used to anymore after living for almost 20 years in California or... just the fact that I'm less resistant with the years?

Running in Berlin was hard because of the soreness in my legs but I was able to run a decent 50K training run while in Paris, before contracting this virus.
With the cold though I couldn't run for 6 straight days, I was completely wiped out. Ironically, after reading some comments on Facebook, I had decided not to get a flu shot 5 days before Tussey 50-mile for the fear of getting side effects on race day. I'm all for vaccines in general against serious threats but I'm still debating the usefulness of that particular one.

I'm still not back to full steam yet but I didn't feel the shortness of breadth in my lungs on my run today, this is progress! And that allowed to finally have a handful of sub 7 min miles, finally, almost breaking 6 min/mile at the end of my 12-mile run this morning.
I think I'll enter a local 5K next week to see if I can hold onto that for 3 miles, then it will be the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 10K which will likely be my last race this year. By the way, it's not too late to register for that Turkey Trot if you are in the area for Thanksgiving. Look at the cool t-shirt you'll get!

The part which hasn't recovered yet from my recent trip is a sharp pain in my elbow which I can't explain at all and barely self-diagnose on the web. I hope it's just a tendonitis, not a strained ligament. Meanwhile, I try to minimize the use of my right elbow, I wish I knew what it was to see if I should fully immobilize it or not (sling). Another reminder of how complex our body is, a tricky joint in this case when you think of all the movements an elbow allows, and the forces going though it when you weight something.

Although these small setbacks are irritating and frustrating, there are nothing compared to the struggles I mentioned at the beginning of this post; what a blessing to still be able to run 68 training miles in a week, I should certainly not complain! And I'm thinking of those going through so much trouble these days, courage and hold on out there!