Sunday, December 9, 2007

The French Connection: views over Silicon Valley

I often wonder who reads my blog. Recently I started using StatCounter and found out that many of you stop by, from all over the world, without leaving a comment. Anonymously. Which is the beauty of the asynchronous and open model of the world wide web.

Last week I was exchanging some emails with Phil, the editor of UltraFondus, a wonderful magazine on ultra running, in French. And Phil introduced me to one of his friends, Vincent Toumazou, who was trying to reach me to see if we could meet this weekend. Vincent was coming again in California to attend the AGU Fall meeting, which has been hold for 40 years in San Francisco and gathering 15,000 geophysicists from around the globe! I saw quite a few of them on the plane on my way back from Europe last Saturday. Reading and annotating scientific publications, preparing slides, quite an unusual studious ambiance on a flight to Silicon Valley. Per their website: "AGU is a worldwide scientific community that advances, through unselfish cooperation in research, the understanding of Earth and space for the benefit of humanity." Right on for my interest in sustainability!

As a matter of fact, I had read Vincent's account of the Cannonball ultra race a few days before we connected. And Vincent knew everything about my 2007 season from my blog. Vincent has his own website too but composed of static pages, not a blog, so more maintenance work to keep it up to date. The usual saying is "small world" but I prefer the expression "connected world" to describe these coincidences and unforeseen connections.

We were both flying from France to San Francisco on Saturday (December 8), although on two different itineraries. I emailed Vincent instructions to get on the train, picked him up at the Mountain View station on Sunday morning and 2o' later we were set to go for a run in Rancho San Antonio Park.
We decided to take it easy as Vincent was still recovering from a 24-hour event (where he ran 200 km!), and I am recovering from last week's Saintélyon, and officially in an inter-season break (shh!). Well, looking for some sun and heat in this clear and cool morning, we ended up at the top of Black Mountain, while talking all the way (something I'm not used to) and stopping for some stunning views over the Bay. Up North to San Francisco (see below, over the Palo Alto and Standfor hills), Mount Tamalpais and beyond.
Mount Diablo and Hamilton on the East side, and the Pacific Ocean on the West side.
I rarely saw that far in every directions, Vincent is quite lucky.

We climbed to Black Mountain via Chamise Trail, through Rogue Valley. On the way back we used the shortcut getting us back on the Upper Meadow trail, then the Wildcat Loop down to the Farm and the parking lot (see the map). For a total of 14.8 miles (~24 km), 2,500 vertical feet (~760 m) and amazing views, perfect for this guided tour of trail running in Silicon Valley.
Shower and lunch at home, captivating discussions about our passions and projects, and it was time for Vincent to head up North to meet with his colleagues at the AGU symposium in San Francisco.

Let me know if you are interested for such a tour when visiting the Bay Area!

Au revoir!


Anonymous said...

Jean, I could not run up the hill talking all the way. After a while, I was not able to speak anymore but it was my only way to be sure you would not run too fast...

Quoiqu'il en soit, ce fut une bien belle journée.
Merci encore pour votre accueil et je vous souhaite à tous de bons moments et des foulées pleine de bonheur.
Evidemment, je te rends la pareille à la première occasion.



Anonymous said...

Hi guys!
what beautifull views...
I have been travelling a lot of times through the valley, from north to south and from south to north. I'm always fascinated by the tremendous space surrounding everything. It gives you wings.
Anyway, Jean, I will keep an eye on your blog...and we could also have a run together next time I will be over there!

Amitiés de Belgique de la part des coureurs célestes, à toi Jean et à tous nos amis UFO.

Anonymous said...

mon seul et unique marathon fut celui de New York, à force de le voir passer sous mes fenêtres, mais je n'ai pas honte de mon temps (3h40) et continue à courrir pour avoir la pèche en catamaran...

Anonymous said...

Hi Jean!
Just wanted to say hello and leave a comment since you mentioned about visitors reading your blog and leaving without a comment. I'm a regular visitor and a big fan of your blog. Glad to hear you are recovering well from your injury. I can't wait to run with you sometime next year!


Jean Pommier said...

Luka, let me know if you have the opportunity to visit the Bay.

Phil, 3h40 at NYC marathon, I know many who are still trying to break 4, despite hard work! Enjoy sailing!

Toshi, thanks for leaving a note. Looking forward to hearing more about your passion as well in the future.


Michael Kanning said...

Lo siento, no hablo fránces. Solo puedo hablar contigo en íngles o en español, entonces... have discovered "the secret trail!" Very nice...Although I've run at Rancho more times than I could count, I would love the "tour" :) In other words, we have to run together soon. I'm afraid 5:45 A.M. is a little early for my teenage brain to go to the track, but send me a note at if you want to do the PG&E trail or something soon!

¡Adios! (adieu?)


Andy B. said...

Just thought I would leave a comment, instead of just visiting and reading (lurking). I enjoy reading your blog, and hope to see you at a local run/race sometime. Also glad to hear you are back running and feeling better.

Cheers and happy holidays!

Unknown said...


One of the things I like the most about your blog is tour guide like description of different runs. I have yet to do the Black Mountain run, but your post has me interested. If you are doing another Saturday morning Rancho run anytime soon let me know and I will try to keep up with you!!

Jean Pommier said...

Michael, Andy, Sean,

See you in the hills between Cupertino and Santa Cruz then.

Sean, we've a group of ultra runners meeting every Saturday morning (the ones who can show up at least), rotating through four locations between Woodside and Los Altos. Send me your email address if you want to be added to the weekly email notification (my name at ILOG).

See you,