Sunday, February 27, 2011

White break and cross training

After last week's fat ass in the snow, we left the Bay Area on Tuesday night for Lake Tahoe. The weather was perfect on Wednesday and we knew about a storm coming so it was the day not to be missed this week. We skied with our friends at Northstar. The resort was quite crowded in the morning at the base of the mountain but the domain large enough to find less busy runs and shorter lines on the other side of the mountain.
The storm reached Lake Tahoe as expected on Thursday and we took the opportunity to snowshoe, which was a first for me. The snow was super soft and a few feet deep, providing a wonderful experience as well as a great workout, without impact in such conditions.
We spent Friday inside while the weather websites were reporting wind gusts up to 156 mph over the ridges. I did some work, edited our 4th issue of The Orbit, my Toastmasters Club's newsletter and a few other projects on the computer. The workout of the day consisted in one hour on the elliptical, another first for me!
Even more unusual, I spent this hour watching CNBC which I found super stressful, especially this past Friday before the closing bell. It was all about mixed signals, with the markets going up despite the experts' incredulity... If it is not a real recovery of the economy, then it sounds like another bubble is forming...
Alex, Greg, our friends and I were back on the slopes for downhill skiing at Mt. Rose on Saturday morning. Exceptional snow conditions attracted quite a few people in the morning yet not much wait at the ski lifts especially in the afternoon once all the powder around the mountains got "broken" and the local skiers satiated...
We skied in the cloud in the morning and it was very cold (around 5F) but, thankfully, in the sun the whole afternoon. Then, around 2PM, Greg saw my name on the large display at the start of Northwest Magnum, in a message indicating I was the lucky winner of a 2010-2011 unlimited season pass! That sounded like casino
With that, I skied at Mt. Rose again this Sunday morning before we drove back after this short but wonderful vacation with the boys. Leveraging the snow for some cross-training instead of logging much miles this week. And combining activities so Agn├Ęs could still enjoy this first winter without skiing for her after 36 years!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

2nd Saratoga Fat Ass: humbling workout

We are rich in the Bay Area. I am not talking about the elite of the Valley who had dinner with President Obama on Thursday night. I mean that, us runners, we have so many trails nearby and many opportunities to run on them in races or social gatherings. We even have two Saratoga "fat asses" now, the traditional one on the first weekend of the year, and a second one in February. Since I missed the January 1st, 2011 one when I did my own fat ass version, I was excited to join this one on Saturday. Especially as I knew the weather was going to be challenging, hence representing a good opportunity to train for Way Too Cool, after our clement winter so far. Little did I now that it was going to turn into a real winter event...
Snow was announced on Skyline on Friday and a few inches felt during the day. Any snow on these hills is a rare enough event, more so two days in a row. But it did snow during the night again and I was quite surprised to see several snowplows going back and forth on Skyline when I reached the Saratoga Gap parking lot.
I arrived one hour early to secure a parking spot but, with this bad weather, there were only 2 cars parked. A few local runners had said they will go for an early start but they had probably changed their minds at the last minute. John and Greg left around 7 AM on the first loop.
About twenty other runners gathered around Keith and we started running at 8 AM, as scheduled. I had planned to run with Pierre-Yves who completed this convoluted course in the first two editions. Unfortunately, Pierre-Yves was not here this Saturday but, thankfully, I had spent some time on Friday evening printing out the numerous instructions, directions and turn sheets and placed them inside plastic folders. On Skyline Trail, I took a right at a fork and got on the road, slightly before the recommended crossing of Hwy 35 and the trail head of Loghry Woods Trail. It took me several minutes to get back on course, and I then passed 6 runners on the way down to Castle Rock Trail Camp.
At the Camp, I forgot to look at the detailed map and got confused with the instructions about the Saratoga Gap Trail which I could only see on one side of the Camp and which I felt was the wrong direction. I decided to wait a few minutes for the rest of the group and Keith showed up first, leading me to the trail we wanted, Ridge Trail. Less than a mile later, I caught up with Michael who, again, showed me the right direction at the next two trail intersections I was uncertain about.
We passed Castle Rock Falls and I took off but figured out I will see Michael again next time I was going to get lost...

I saw Christina and Penny coming down the shortcut/connection trail by mistake and they decided to complete the original loop in reverse.
The rest of Loop 1 was easy from a navigation standpoint as it consisted in retracing the same route in reverse. I was stunned it had taken me two hours to complete it as the profile indicated it was the easiest loop. My GPS showed 10.7 miles and the parking lot was then super full with many families who drove to the top of the mountain to see and play in the snow. The nice thing with this run is that we get back to our car every 10 miles, so there is no need to set up aid stations. I ate the content of a small bag of potato chips, some nuts and raisins, refilled my bottles and went on the second loop without seeing Michael.
The sun had made a few short appearances after the start, and I thought it was going to be a gorgeous day, but that did not last long. With all the drops falling from the wet trees and melting snow, I don't recall exactly when it started snowing again, but I think I was still in my first loop. After the stop at the car, I was cold again, especially my arms and hands. I shook them vigorously to get the blood flowing and it took me 2.5 miles to be ok, after passing the Sempervirens Point. 10 minutes later I passed John and we chatted a bit. First, a good and bad news about Western States, with the good news first. John has changed car, going green with the Ford Flex. Other good news: he will be able to help out at last Chance again, albeit leaving shortly after as he is pacing this year. And now the bad news: without his truck, the Striders will have to find other ways to haul the aid station supplies up there (I will be in Europe in June and will miss the party unfortunately, for the first time since 2005...). John also shared his satisfaction with the cool Brooks Green Silence, with which he ran a 10K PR this January! Thankfully, we were both wearing Brooks Cascadias today, it was certainly the day to get some good grip in the snow and the mud. Before leaving John I reminded him to watch for the nearby turn on Beekhuis Road Trail which I almost missed myself.

Since I had left Michael, I was paying much more attention to the instructions, reading them several times at each intersection, stopping and looking all around when I thought I had reached the mileage corresponding to a turn, checking the map over and over. I figured out that, given the slow pace of the first loop, I'd rather lose time being conservative than getting lost. After the physical challenge of this course, especially in this cold and wet weather, the most important thing was not to get lost in this maze of beautiful trails. As I told you at the beginning of this article, we are rich here... ;-)
The Travertine Springs Trail is amazingly beautiful, even under the snow and rain. It is really a single track and a narrow one. With all the wet branches and grass across the way, my legs and feet got really wet and I got cold again. On the way up to Castle Rock Trail Camp, it was snowing really hard which didn't help. More and more snow was layering on the ground, up to 4-5 inches at the entrance of the Gun Club. Snowplows kept passing on Skyline Boulevard but the road was getting white again shortly after their passage.

I ran up to Skyline Trail but got confused about the instructions when I see the post talking about the Summit Rock Loop and I decided to come back on a trail closer to the road until I found the real Skyline Trail at the next parking lot. I reached the main parking lot for the second time after 2 more hours of running for the second loop: the "course record" of 4:42 that Pierre-Yves had set last year was very safe...
The parking lot was still full but Michael's car and a few others from the starters were gone. Before the end of my second lap, I had passed Jerry who started late, taking picture along the way and was finishing his first loop. Another bag of potato chips, some trail mix again, bottles refill and here I was on the third and final loop, wishing that I had prepared and brought some hot chocolate or hot tea this morning... Hands and arms were numbing again, I could tell every time I was crossing/passing the 2,000-foot freezing limit (the parking lot is at 2,600 feet and the course goes up to 3,000 feet at place). I was too cold to really fly down Charcoal Road but at least I was moving. I had some hesitations again around Table Mountain but, again, stopped long enough to internalize Keith's instructions and managed to stay on course and get on the right single track, the Saratoga Gap Trail again. Despite the tiredness and the challenge of climbing back again up to Skyline Boulevard, I thought this was also one of the nicest parts of the course. My top 3 sections therefore from a trail running perspective: Loghry Woods Trail on loop 1, Travertine Springs on loop 2 and Saratoga Gap Trail on loop 3.
I saw Keith at the top of the hill, on the Bay Area Ridge Trail and gave him high five as he had just started his final loop. I reached the parking lot after 5:42:27 of running. Happy to have run in such winter conditions finally this year, with wonderful snowy views, but humbled by this slow time for a 50K (my GPS indicated 21.7 miles at the end of loop 2 but only 30.2 at the end of loop 3, so a short 50K).
I saw John in his car. He had completed the second loop but got completely lost and his GPS was marking 26 miles. He changed, tried to warm-up in his car, hesitated going for a third loop before deciding to call it a day. Still a great achievement in such conditions! Chau and Mylinh arrived from their second loop and decided to keep going for their final loop. Later on Sunday, Penny posted on FaceBook that she and Christina completed the 3 loops and had a blast, phew!
The overall conclusion for me is that I'm probably not fat enough to run in the cold... Which is why I do much better in extreme heat, when others cannot remove any more layers... ;-) A few additional pictures in my Picasa album, although it was not the ideal day for a photo shoot. Keith is still gathering data about who finished and when. A big thank you, Keith, for (not...) having organized this unofficial run; one to remember for some time in the history of this new fat ass tradition. As you said on FaceBook, "a run that will be remembered for a long time – perhaps as long as it takes to thaw!" For me, thawing required soaking for 30 minutes in the jacuzzi, but the memories will last much longer thanks to this post and the pictures in particular...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Yet another busy week, for a change...

First, a lot of running with 97.8 miles since Jed Smith last Saturday. Quite a good recovery week, isn't? As a matter of fact, I was joking with Bob at the track on Tuesday morning: "Now that I have ran more than 50 ultra races, nobody really cares at work or in the family. I need to find bigger challenges..." Some people ask how I do to remain free of injuries and my first response is that you have to not only vary your types of workouts, but also rotate shoes throughout the week. Some people think that it means buying and using several pairs of the same model, but that's not what I would call rotation. For instance, this week, I ran in 5 different models (albeit all Brooks of course): my new Launch on Sunday, the Ghost 2 on Monday, Racer ST4 on Tuesday, the Launch again on Wednesday and Thursday, the cool Green Silence on Friday, my old Cascadia 3 for 35 miles on the trail on Saturday and the Ghost again for more hilly road running this Sunday.
And, yes, I have other models to chose from (the Launch is my 28th pair of Brooks)!
That's one of the reasons I keep track of each particular model I use in my running log, so I know how many miles each pair have been through. I know, I should be able to tell just by the feelings, but I'm not expert enough for that, or too much of an engineer...

Back to the running, we had an exceptional good weather all week and it really makes it easy to go out in such conditions. We expect bad weather to come to the Bay Area this week but, in the meantime, the Spring has arrived in our Valley of Heart's Delights and flowers and trees are blooming.
Speaking of Valley of Heart's Delights, the week would have been perfect if not for the environmental disaster, right in Cupertino. If you missed my last post, the hearing at the Board of Supervisors of our Santa Clara County was supposed to last for one hour. Not only it started late but went on for 4 hours. Certainly the matter was critical and worth at least 4 hours. I thought the Board was really looking at the issue seriously until the meeting wrapped up in the most unexpected manner, with a last minute motion submitted by Supervisor Liz Kniss who had evidently no intention to let her fellow Supervisors sneak in the special relationship she entertains with the Lehigh Permanente cement plant in her district.
To the Board's defense or credit, it is true that the public missed the point. The decision was about the use of the land and potentially removing another hill from our foothills, not about the pollution caused by the related cement plant itself, although this pollution is indeed an outrage to the people of Silicon Valley. As a consequence I heard one of the Supervisors say: "well, I didn't hear any complaint from the public about the mining activities, so it doesn't seem to be an issue." With that profound mismatch, I'm not sure who supervises what? I thought it was the role of the Supervisors to be on top of things, not the aggregated public.
Anyway, since Tuesday when I had to spend 5 hours standing because Lehigh had used its 150 employees to fill in the entire auditorium so we were denied entrance to the room, I can't stop thinking how bad this story is for the protection of our environment, and what a chance the County has missed to step up in favor of sustainable development. Out of the 60 or more testimonies in favor of Lehigh, it was all about "we have mined these foothills for 3 generations so there is really no reason to stop" and, "yes, it was the intent of our visionary founder, Mr. Henry Kaiser to mine the whole area, so leave us alone" or, from a 42-year employee "I am in good health so this is a proof that the plant doesn't represent any danger." This is the point with sustainable development, it requires that we change some of the past behaviors, and get smarter.

So, what was a stake on Tuesday? Basically the right to use the remainder of the grounds that Henry Kaiser had purchased without a mining permit, 70 years ago, to now dig a second "pit". Or, rather, scoop another of the Cupertino foothills! Look at the red ellipse below and imagine this hill replaced by the same scar than the current pit above. And if you think that the Stevens Creek Reservoir is big, look twice on the right of the current pit, how small it actually is in comparison. We are not talking about small impact here... (click on the picture for a full screen view)
Here are additional readings about this major issue:
  1. Committee for Green Foothills: a good coverage of the issue which was already threatening in 2004 and only worsen since;
  2. An article about the nearby Permanente Creek which shows Henry Kaiser. From his living in a cabin in the woods, I think it is pretty clear that his so-called "vision" was not to denature the area which is fortunately almost all protected except for this huge scar in the Peninsula;
  3. The NoToxicAir organization which, with very limited means, hold the charge during the public hearing;
  4. The 1st Mercury News article after the hearing;
  5. A follow-up Mercury News article on Friday (what I like, sort of, about the proponent of the plant is that they evidently recognize the noxious impact of the plant since their advice is that Cupertino residents were just too stupid to buy a house in the neighborhood! At least we all agree on the environmental issue. So, what do we do? We displace entire cities like they do in China when the soil and air are so spoiled?!);
  6. The AD-HOC website, a public interest group fighting pollution in the Western part of Silicon Valley;
  7. The perspective of the other neighbor community, Los Altos Hills;
  8. The connection between the site and the suicide of a German billionaire, Adolfe Merckle, who had acquired Hanson, the owner of the cement plant.
Again, the week would have been perfect if the matter would have gotten a better issue, there will for sure be other debates about the lack of vision and responsibility of such decision. At least, the Lehigh officials recognized that the plant was indeed producing 20 times the maximum amount of mercury authorized by the EPA (Environment Protection Agency). They also pledged to reduce the pollution by 95% at some point, yet recognized that ir was very challenging given the high concentration of mercury in the extracted rock. Maybe something Henry Kaiser had not "envisioned..." The most ironical news of the rest of the week was when Republicans were said that, since ir was too difficult to comprehend the immensity of the budget of the Department of Defense, they would simply start with eliminating the 40-year EPA! How convenient would that be for Lehigh, wouldn't it?!!
My Picasa photo album of this week combines pictures from our group run on Saturday, which ended up to be 35 miles. And a few pictures from Montebello Road and Peacock Court of Lehigh's quarry. I am so thankful that most of the Peninsula foothills are now protected, thanks in particular to POST (Peninsula Open Space Trust). Almost all but one, worth the fight...

    Sunday, February 6, 2011

    Bay Area residents, how much Mercury do you like?

    This is not my typical blog, running experience or race report but time is of essence for this post. If you are checking by blog once a week, I did post my Jed Smith 50K race report last night.

    This post is to invite Bay Area residents to (1) be aware of a global environmental situation we have with the Lehigh cement plan in the Cupertino hills and (2) join a special action event at 1 PM this coming Tuesday (February 8th) in San Jose.

    When I first heard about the issue, my reaction is that we had enough businesses leaving Cupertino these past years (Symantec and HP recently) and we did not want more. But this is not a reason to let a local employer violate environmental and employment regulations, hence the call to action below.

    Although this does not appear fully aligned with the running theme of my blog, it is a lot about air and water pollution which is of course very annoying for us running in the nearby foothills. I have always praised the quality of life and unique protection of our hills but, certainly, the cement plan is the exception in this idyllic picture.

    The fact is that Lehigh has other plants and, in Germany for instance where green voices are stronger and businesses take sustainability very seriously, the Lehigh cement plan only emits a maximum of 100 pounds of mercury per year (still above the EPA limit of 80 pounds). In Cupertino, the plant emitted 1,284 pounds of mercury in 2005 alone, just a couple of miles from our homes and schools, something which is extremely damageable for our health as you can imagine.

    The matter on the table which will be discussed on Tuesday afternoon is the ongoing process for the Santa Clara County to approve Lehigh's request to dramatically expand the facility in the Cupertino hills.

    Here is a video clip about the issue:



    Again, please look at the call for action below and, if you are also concern about the issue, act and join us on Tuesday in San Jose. It is not about preventing businesses to thrive in the Bay Area, it is about doing it in a sustainable manner and aligned with the environmental values of the Bay Area. So we can keep running and breathing safely in the so-called Valley of Heart's Delights... See you all on Tuesday! 1PM, 70 W. Hedding street, East Wing, Board Chambers, 1st Floor, San Jose, CA 95110.

    --------------
    Call to action from the NoToxicAir.org association.


    URGENT - Please Take Action To Save Our Health NOW!!!

    The Santa Clara county Board of Supervisors are holding a public hearing on Feb. 8th at 1:30pm to discuss Vested Right for Lehigh Cement Plant, in the hills above Cupertino. It only takes three votes (out of five) to grant the Right.  If Lehigh gets the vote, which means Lehigh (the nation’s 4th biggest mercury polluter among cement plants) will not need a permit from Santa Clara County for a second 200 acre pit mine. Lehigh is also applying for a 20 year Land Use Permit, renewable every 20 years, to mine limestone from this pit. 

    What does that mean? 

    Lehigh seeks approval for all of the above in one public meeting with little community input. They have political backing at many levels.

    Lehigh's expansion will release additional Mercury, which is toxic at very small amounts, let alone hundreds of pounds*.

    *In 2005 alone Lehigh released 1,284 pounds of mercury into our air. By contrast, its plants in Germany emit less than 100 pounds of mercury per year.  EPA limit for Mercury for Lehigh Cement Plant is 88 lbs. max per year.

    What can you do?

    The only way to prevent Lehigh from getting the vested rights is by TAKING THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS:

    1)     Before Feb. 8, 2011. Email and call all five county supervisors and elected officials (See contact info. below) with the following talking points:

     As a voter of Santa Clara County, I urge you NOT to grant Vested Rights to Lehigh Cement Plant. Granting these rights will result in 

           Additional mercury and other toxic pollutants in the air we breathe. This will endanger the health of millions of Silicon Valley residents and in particular children. 
           Limited oversight of a mining operation with a shameful history of disregarding laws designed to protect the environment and public health.
           Increased health care costs. 
           Reduced property values, which will add to the budget crisis. 

    Name: 
    Address: 

    Copy and paste County Supervisor’s addresses into your email.

    CC: District Attorney Jeffrey F. Rosen and County Assessor Larry Stone  (copy and paste)

    Call the Supervisors
    Mike Wasserman - 408-299-5010 
    Dave Cortese -  408-299-5030 
    Liz Kniss - 408-299-5050 
    George Shirakawa, - 408-299-5020
    Ken Yeager - 408-299-5040 


    2)     Attend Feb. 8th at 1pm (Rally), for 30 minutes media exposure. Meet in front of the County building main entrance. 70 W. Hedding street, East Wing, San Jose

    3)     1:30pm -2:30pm(public hearing) at County Board of Supervisors, 70 W. Hedding street, East Wing, Board Chambers, 1st Floor, San Jose, CA 95110

    4)     Send a letter to the editor(125 words)  to:  letters@mercurynews.com 

    5)     Send this information to all your friends and neighbors. 

    ==============================

    Help Us Win the Fight:  We thank many people that have contributed their personal time to the NoToxicAir cause.  However, there are areas that require professional legal counsel so the NoToxicAir legal committee has obtained professional legal counsel to represent the residents.  We need donations to fund the legal effort from residents who are concerned and want to seriously push for more oversight of Lehigh to protect our community's health.  Because of you we can win this fight -- we need your help now.

    At www.NoToxicair.org, there is information on how to donate.  We are asking for a contribution of $200 or more if you can but any amount is appreciated.  If you have questions, email Linda Sell, NoToxicAir Secretary at lsell.notoxicair@gmail.com.
    ============================================
    Attend the upcoming meetings -  Optional RSVP

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Jed Smith 2010: a new and sunny course

    With some shame, I'm going to start with an anecdote which shows that I was not raised here and I still have some work to catchup with the history of my new country... I ran this race, Jed Smith 50K, in February 2009 and 2010. 2009 was the last year the event was held at Gibson Ranch State Park before the Californian budget crisis led to the closure of the park to the public. I had a tough run, finishing in 3:51:03. Last year, we ran along the American River and I set a PR (Personal Record) on that distance in 3:25:13. Anyway, the anecdote is that I always thought that, like Ruth Anderson, Dick Collins or Helen Klein, Jed Smith must have been a pretty famous ultra runner in the area to have an ultra race named after him. Until... two weeks ago; Greg had left his History book open in the living room at the Life of the West chapter. I read the whole chapter and learned a few interesting facts about the Californios, the Mountain Men, Missionaries, Pioneer Women, Mormons, Forty-Niners and Chinese, all these groups who shaped our current environment and our trail system in particular. And I then switched to the previous chapter which mentions the discovery of Oregon at the time California was still part of Mexico quoting History Alive!: "The route that Lewis and Clarke had followed was too rugged for ordinary travelers. There had to be a better way. In 1824, a young fur trapper named Jedediah Smith found that better way. Smith discovered a passage through the Rocky Mountains called South Pass." Here is my ultra runner, the founder of the Oregon Trail!
    After last year's great performance, and some good speed work in January, I had high expectations for this year's edition of Jed Smith. I had exchanged emails with co-Race Director, John Blue, about the new course and the only thing I needed was a good weather, something which is not a given in Sacramento in February. Sean and Heidi picked me at Meridian Avenue and we had a smooth ride to the start, getting there 40 minutes before the start of the 50K (the 50-mile had already started 20 minutes ago and the 30K starts one hour after the 50K).
    The time to park, get the bib and timing chip, setup a "base camp" near the start line as we were going to pass through the start/finish area 7 times today, visit the restrooms, I was barely ready when John called us on the start line. I'd say we were about 50 at the start, with quite a few familiar faces and many Buffalo Chips members (this is their race and the club has more than 400 members!). Sean, I and a tall runner from Fleet Feet Racing Team took off fast. We were joined by Jason Reed who hanged with us for half a mile like last year. Each lap was 4.88 miles (certified course) so we had to run an 1.72-mile out and back to make it 31 miles. I had seen Chad Worthen's name at the top of the list of entrants on Ultrasignup, but the site was only showing 5 or 10-mile races in his results pate, and I thought he was quite aggressive to start at that pace for his first ultra. Well, read on...

    After three miles, I let Sean and Chad take some distance, trying to settle on a more reasonable pace (we were at a sustained 6 min/mile pace) but they both slowed down a mile later so I took the lead again. However I stopped at the end of the first loop to grab my GU2O bottle and this time, stayed behind. I wasn't actually sure of my average pace because I had messed up my stop watch at the start. I think I started it 3 minutes before the start then stopped it when we started and it took me 2 minutes into our fast start to find that out. With that, my GPS was showing an average pace of 9 minutes/mile, which was certainly off. It took me 2 laps to get it below 6:30 min/mile, while I was hoping to run today's race around 6:22. As for Sean, he was running without even a watch, just following his instinct. He stayed with Chad for three laps, still at a very fast pace, slightly over 6 min/mile.

    In the fourth lap, I started seeing Sean again at a distance but no more sight of Chad. I caught up with Sean at the end of lap 4 and my calves started cramping really bad as we started lap 5 together with 10 miles to go... The clock was showing 2:20 (after subtracting the hour of the earlier 50-mile start). At that point, my laps were around 31-32 minutes, but there was no way I could sustain that with the frequent cramps. I took a second GU and another S!Cap (4 in all), but the thing is that I had not drunk enough fluids, not even 1 16-oz bottle of GU2O and a few cups here and there at the aid stations. 55 ultra races and still not doing this properly, getting caught up into the speed, shame on me! Sean was apparently not getting better than and I had a 500 yards lead at the end of lap 5 with still no sign of Michael Fink behind. Still cramping, I tried to maintain a good pace although my stride was quite impacted and not as smooth. I started the 6th and final loop after 2 hours and 52 minutes of running, right on the marathon mark. At this point, I knew that I would miss my goal to be faster than last year as this was requiring to run the last 5 miles under 6:30 min/mile. I indeed crossed the finish line in 3:28. Less than 6 seconds per mile slower than last year which doesn't seem much, yet I wasn't satisfied with my performance given the perfect conditions. In addition to the inappropriate fluid intake, I still have to lose these 4 extra pounds I mentioned last week... (I see people smiling and not believing me...) Everything counts when you are chasing seconds... The good news is that I lost them today, just need to keep them away!

    Chad had won the 50K in 3:18 and I'm sure he can do much better/faster than that under more pressure. A few web searches show that he is a 2:22 marathoner and 1:08 half marathoner so, indeed, a local and national elite! Speedy Michael Fink finished 3rd in 3:32 followed by Sean in 3:38. Jennifer Pfeifer won the Female division finishing 5th overall in a blazing 3:45!
    I did not take a picture of all the runners (more than one hundred for the three events, according to John), but you can check who got in the box and in my Picasa album. And see for yourself the wonderful weather we had today! Here is teammate Jim Magill finishing right under 5 hours (4:59:43).
    I wish more people join us next time. This is a very professional organization, a gorgeous tour along the American River (we even had views of the snowy mountains East of Sacramento) and a nice loop format for crews and spectators. Granted, a lot of asphalt, but nice trails sections in alternation. Kudos to race directors, John Blue and Dennis Scott for such a new course and organization. And to the many volunteers and Buffalo Chips members for welcoming us in their backyard.
    Have a good week all. Good luck for the ones still under the snow and, to the Califonians and Ground Hogs checking on their shadow, enjoy the exceptionally warm weather (73F in San Francisco today which beats the 1917 record of 71F. I know this sounds strange to all the people on the East Coast and Mid West but, yes, global warming is real, and even includes trouble weather such as blizzard and tornadoes, not just hotter summer days).