Sunday, February 24, 2013

Pacific Association Long Distance Running 2012 Awards

It's always great to see one of our local clubs step up to perpetuate the tradition of these annual banquets to recognize our local long distance leaders (see a report on the 2008, 2009, 2010 season editions). Last Sunday night, at the Pyramid Alehouse in Berkeley, the annual LDR awards banquet was hosted by the illustrious Impala, certainly the most competitive all-women club in the country, if not in the world. Per the program: "The Impalas are proud to have over two dozen sub-3 hour marathoners, 6 Olympic Trials qualifiers in 2008 and 14 Marathon Olympic Trial qualifiers in 2012. The Senior team (W50-59) has won the Club Cross Country National title 6 out of the last 7 years." And, naturally, the Impalas got more than a dozen awards this year again. It's good for our Quicksilver gals that the Impalas haven't ventured into the ultra world... ;-)

Speaking of ultra, the ceremony actually started with us, before the three other LDR categories which are: Cross-Country, Road Racing Long (>10K), Road Racing Short (<=10K). Our Mountain and Ultra Trail (MUT) committee co-chairs, Bill Dodson and Hollis Lenderking, distributed the 12 individual and 4 team awards. After an amazing 2011 where our club took home the 4 team awards (Men, Women, Mixed, Overall), our Team Captain, Greg Lanctot, thought it was a good idea to leave a few to others to ensure a more open competition... ;-) We ended up grabbing only the Women division title this year as a result yet, 8 out of the 12 individual awards.
Here are all the MUT award recipients (a few of us had run a fat ass 50K in the morning and Kat was still on the course in the afternoon, missing the photo opportunity by a few minutes), from left to right: Bill Dodson (M70-79, Stevens Creek Striders), Charles Savage (M60-69, Tamalpa, 20 times Western States finisher!), Jean Pommier (M40-49, Quicksilver), Dan Decker (M50-59, Quicksilver), Amy Burton (W30-39, Quicksilver), Clare Abram (W40-49, Quicksilver) and bending in the first row, Toshi Hosaka (M30-39, Quicksilver):
The three missing awardees from our Quicksilver Club were: Marc Laveson (M20-29), Karen Bonnett (W50-59) and Kat Powell (W60-69)

The award ceremony was orchestrated by our new LDR Chair, Tom Bernhard, who took over this key role from his club mate, Tyler Abbott who was recognized this evening with a Lifetime Service Awards for his 12.5 years of volunteering at this positions. Tom shared a few facts and numbers to illustrate how strong our association is, and how fortunate and grateful we are to have such an amazing support organization for our sport in North California. The Pacific Association is the oldest one out of 54 associations in the country. Most of the other associations don't even have the concept of Grand Prix, much less any staff to support their operations. Certainly, we must be the association to have 4 active Grand Prix, involving 1,400 participants out of 4,600 adult members. 1,200 of these participants actually compete in at least 2 Grand Prix with 100 logging points in 3 Grand Prix. The MUT Grand Prix counted 265 participants this year.
The other Lifetime Service Award was given to Hollis Lenderking who has been the MUT Chair since 1992, that is the year after the MUT Grand Prix started. With 20 years in this position, Hollis has become the icon of our North California ultra running community. He remains very close to it as he only stepped down last year to become co-chair, sharing the position with Bill Dodson. We are very grateful to Hollis devotion to our Grand Prix and the thousands of hours he has spent organizing our competitions when not volunteering at aid stations himself. A huge thank to Hollis for these 22 years (and counting!), and to Bill for stepping up!
After the MUT and cross-country awards, Mark Winitz introduced the two keynote speakers of the evening: Lisbet Sunshine and Dena Evans.

As an Impala herself, Lisbet spoke about the challenge and gratification of balancing an elite running career with a full-time job and raising children. She particularly insisted on the importance of a support network and gave credit to the Impala coach for discovering her talent while she was just a recreational runner and proudly logging 15 miles a week at the time. Lisbet earned a spot on the Olympic Trials with a marathon PR of 2:45:11 at Twin Cities.
The second keynote speaker, Dena, shared her passion for coaching at Standorf and her long family heritage and connection with this illustrious academic and athletic institution. Dena showed us a scrap book where her great grandfather collected artifacts about the track and cross-country Standford teams in the early 1900s (e.g. some race results from 1906 and 1909).
Born in Panama, Dena's mother also attended Stanford in 1965 and transmitted to Dena epic stories and anecdotes of that time (e.g. the Pan Relay and Armory races, or the potholes in the dirt track). Dena's speech was fun, enthusiastic, passionate, fast flowing, picturesque, including many anecdotes both personal and from other elite athletes and showing a lot of experience as well as caring for the legacy she inherited; all the best ingredients for a successful coach!
My teammates were nice enough to stay until the end of the ceremony where the Runners Of the Year were announced. And the wait meant a lot to me as some were exhausted. Toshi has spent the whole weekend mixing back packing (2 nights in the woods) running (2 back to back fat asses, the 2nd Saratoga and the Los Gatos Overgrown) and hiking for a total of 90 miles on the trails. As for Judy, his wife, she had been working for 2 days (nurse) and slept for only 2 hours before picking Toshi in Los Gatos. An ultra and exhausting life and weekend...
And, yes, my name was in the envelope again, for the 4th time since 2007, how cool!

Jon Olsen has an amazing track record which his 95% UltraSignup ranking reflects. Most of his finishes are in the top 3 and I'm amazed as the progress he has made these past years. So much that he made the 24-hour USA Team last year, with the second longest qualifying distance for Team USA with 158.53 miles at the North Coast Spring event in 2012. He also placed 7th overall at the 100K world championships with an amazing 6:48:52!

As for me, I'm just a Grand Prix "stud." After several years with the FFA (Fédération Francais d'Athlétisme) I became a USA Track & Field member in 2006 and earned my first points in the ultra Grand Prix when I ran my first 50-mile at Firetrails (and winning the Rookie Award, a very special bottle of wine autographed by co-race directors and ultra legends Ann Trason and Carl Anderson ;-). Needless to say, the race happening in October, it was too late to compete in the Grand Prix but this race plus Helen Klein 50-mile and Quad Dipsea triggered the idea to give a full try in 2007. I won my age group in 2007 which led me to try again in 2008 and the pattern has repeated itself 6 times... Overall I ran 4 of the Grand Prix races in 2006, 9 in 2007, 11 in 2008, 12 in 2009, 11 in 2010 and 2011, 8 last year and 1 earlier this month, for a total of 68 out of the 78 ultras I ran so far. Evidently, I'm... hooked! ;-) And, per Hollis' nice words, just getting better and more consistent.

I was nominated and awarded the UROY in 2007. Nominated again in 2008 when Erik Skaden was chosen. 2009 was Victor Ballesteros versus Chikara Omine, with a repeat in 2010. Last year, I was on a business trip in the Middle East and didn't even know I was nominated again (Dave Mackey was the obvious winner). Anyway, the 2013 PA UROY award naturally went to... Jon , not for his participation in our local competitions (none in 2012 as he was focusing on the world championships) but for his elite achievements at the international level. Congratulations to him and Suzanna Bon who is our other 2013 Ultra Running of the Year (Suzanna was 5th overall at last years' 24-hour world championship in Poland with 231 km or 143.5 miles!):
A big thank to the Impalas for stepping up this year to host this ceremony. And to the volunteers who give their time all year around to support our sport, and all the competitors who provide so much emulation to strengthen our association and make it so prominent, nationally and internationally! See most of you on the roads or trails again, the 2013 season is on already!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Los Gatos Overgrown: Back to Back Fat Ass

Back to Back Fat Ass? No, this isn't a intimate position (oops!), just two fat ass races in 2 days. Yesterday I told you about the 2nd Saratoga one, today was the 6th Los Gatos Overgrown run organized by Adam and Sean. I ran it for the first time last year and, without knowing the course and profile, hammered it with one of our newest and youngest Quicksilver Ultra Running Team mate, Marc Laveson. After yesterday's hilly run, and given my chaotic start of the season, I wasn't trying to match the 4:05 of last year. I actually ran with my camera again which always gives me a good excuse to slow down...
After his briefing, Adam sent us off 2 minutes before 8 am. I must admit that, as the picture shows, this was the more hilarious and confusing of a start I had ever experienced (not that John knows where he is going, straight to the right trail...! ;-).
I let everybody go which allowed me to properly warm-up before pushing in the hill and also take picture of all the runners as I passed them. As usual, John (Burton) set a very aggressive pace at the front. He was joined today by Chris Wehan from Santa Cruz. With my slow start, I actually only saw them at the turn around where I had a 18-minute gap already. They were running together but Chris ended up covering the distance in 4:08 followed by John in 4:20 (or maybe 2 minutes more as they noted a finish time of 12:08 and 12:20 pm respectively and we started 2 minutes before 8).
The format allows us to see everyone, one way or another. Lisa, Sean and Heidi offered us a fully stocked aid station at Hicks Road, at mile 13.5 and 17.3, approximately. I didn't stop the first time but enjoyed a water refill, a cup of Coke and a few potato chips before the final climb.
Like last year, I walked a lot in this last climb. My average pace was 10:48 min/mile by mile 8 (long initial climb) then down to 9:20 by the English Camp turnaround (mile 15.1), then up again to 9:50 at the top of Wood Road/Woods Trail. Despite the 100K of this weekend, I had a reasonable run on the way down, getting the pace to 9:30 at the bottom of Limekiln Trail and 9:24 at the finish (4:46:28). 46 minutes slower than last year, what a change one year makes. Granted, I usually don't race 50Ks back to back and I wasn't pushing to preserve my calf (which didn't complain this time!), yet there is much work to do to get back to the great fit level I was already at in February a year ago.

Overall, yet another great run in such an amazing weather. It wasn't as warm as yesterday thanks to a nice breeze. Thanks again to Adam and Sean for organizing this unofficial training run! And please visit my Picasa album for more pictures and many smiles!

See some of you at the Pacific Association Award Banquet tonight. After a shower, please...! ;-)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

2nd Saratoga Fat Ass: is it summer yet?

It was my 3rd 2nd Saratoga Fat Ass today. I know, a bit convoluted as a statement. First, for those who don't know, a fat ass is typically a 50K run which is scheduled at the beginning of the year to mark the start of a new season and a test for the body after some indulgence over the Year End Holidays. You've heard me talking about running a few of them either in the Bay Area or in Normandie, France where I introduced the name (no literal translation required... ;-).

According to Stan Jensen, the original Saratoga Fat Ass was in 1983 but the records resume in 1996. I ran my first one in January 2005, a very humbling experience but a great learning opportunity thanks to the many tips the experienced ultra runners shared with me (my mentors and sources of inspiration back then included Charles Stevens, 6 Western States finishes, Mark Williams, who was the first ever to finish the grueling Barkley 100-miler, Flyin' Brian Robinson, the first to be "Triple Crowned" as he hiked the three major US trails in 1 year, his wife Sophia Lewis-Robinson, Mike Topher, Pierre Tardif.

A Fat Ass is not an organized or official race: it's a social opportunity to meet others, timing is left to the participants, there may or not be aid stations, runners can start earlier depending on their goals or schedule constraints. On our team, Mark is known to do such runs when his ER duty allows, that is usually not on weekends. This year, the (1st) Saratoga Fat Ass changed date at the last minute and I was on a plane at the new date so I ran it on my own, one week earlier.

A few years ago, one member of our team organized another fat ass starting from the same point (Saratoga Gap at the crossing of Hwy 9 and 35), about 6 weeks later than the original one and on another course made of 3 different loops all conveniently starting from the parking lot, hence offering the opportunity to come back to your car to refill your bottles for instance. I ran it the past 2 years. In 2011, we got caught in a snow storm and that made for a very challenging and humbling run (5:42). Last year (2012), we started in the rain and got lost on the second loop but finished in the sun.

This year, the weather was perfect. Actually, it turned to be slightly "too" warm (sorry for those reading from the France or the East Coast... ;-). Because Park Rangers don't like these semi-organized yet unofficial group runs, the run isn't advertized on the website and that made for a small attendance.
 We started just after 8am, Jeremy, Pierre-Yves, Toshi and I, all from our Quicksilver Ultra Running Team.
The trail was really dry (we are definitely missing rain in the area) and the views gorgeous.
We did a few stops to look at the views on the first loop which made it to a slow pace (~11 min/mile) for the first 10 miles, a nice way to get my right calf warmed up.
I could feel it at the end of the first loop but it wasn't too bad. Although flying in the downhills and the rocky sections in particular with unmatched agility, Pierre-Yves couldn't keep the pace in the uphills so he told Jeremy that he'd ease the pace and we should go on.
Jeremy pushed the pace at the start of the second loop, on the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail and our average pace was down to 10:15 by mile 15. However he bonked before our second passage through the Castle Rock campground so Toshi and I continued and actually ran the whole uphill back to Skyline Boulevard. I ran half the 3rd loop with Toshi and went ahead in the last 4 miles of climb back to Saratoga Gap, clocking a 5:13 for about 29.5 miles. Toshi arrived 10 minutes later and Pierre-Yves about 30 minutes behind. Jeremy had dropped after the second loop and was waiting for us, and Toshi especially, at the car.

Indeed, they were the real heroes of the day. Not only were they running this fat ass this Saturday but also one tomorrow, in Los Gatos (my calf held on so I will join them for the back to back fat ass too). And, it wasn't enough, they were backpacking the whole weekend, starting with a 15-mile hike from Palo Alto to Table Mountain, spending the Friday night in the woods, running 30 miles, hiking another 15 miles to get closer to Los Gatos, then 30 hilly miles again tomorrow, for a total of 90 miles, and no shower!
Needless to say, they were happy to find Mister Mustard and his hot dogs at Saratoga Gap! ;-)
Overall, a wonderful weather for this 50K training run and, although it wasn't a fast one, I'm happy my calf held on. After last Saturday's long run (27 miles), I was able to run 17 miles on Sunday, 12.5 on Monday and Wednesday. Some bad sensations in the calf again after the Wednesday run so I skipped Thursday and ran 10K on Friday (some pain at the 5K mark which then disappeared, this is so confusing...). More tomorrow then with news of this second fat ass, then the USATF Pacific Association Long Distance Running Award Banquet on Sunday night in Berkeley. In the meantime, have a good night, sweet running dreams...
PS: a few additional pictures in my Picasa album.

QSURT 2013 Kickoff: thank you ZombieRunner!

Busy week, work wise of course, but on the running side too. So many events that I will do 4 short posts this weekend.

First, for those intrigued by the acronym in the title, QSURT stands for Quick Silver Ultra Running Team. We started competing on the the North California ultra running circuit thanks to both an idea and the sponsorship of Adam Blum then Founder and CEO of Rhomobile, a company he sold to Motorolla before the Goggle acquisition. Naturally, Rhomobile was our sponsor and we were wearing black singlets back then. In 2011, our new team Captain, Greg Lanctot got us a sponsorship by The Running Revolution in Campbell. We switched to the famous Royal Blue or Magenta tops from Brooks, highly recognizable at races. Starting as a Men team initially, we started scoring in the Mixed division when a few ladies join us and in the Women division when we had enough to score in both. In 2011 we took the 4 top spots in the 4 divisions: Men, Mixed, Women and Overall, setting new records for the total of points!
This Wednesday night, we met as a team for our 2013 kick-off at our new sponsor, ZombieRunner in Palo Alto. If you run in the area, you certainly know about this very cool store which is essential to any ultra runner. They indeed sponsor most of our ultra races and provide nice goodies in addition to an amazing selection of products in their Palo Alto store as well as online with nationwide and international deliveries. ZombieRunner has been founded and is managed by two long time ultra runners themselves, Gillian and Don, also called the Chief Zombies.

Gillian welcomed us as their new team, then Greg led our meeting, starting by passing the mic to Jim who reminded us of the 30+ years of history of our running club (Quicksilver RC of San Jose) as well as the recent changes such as the creation of an official board and a brand new website.
Each of use introduced ourselves which gave an opportunity to learn about new members (we now have almost 40 men and 20 women on the roster!).
With some emotion, Greg announced that he had to take care of some family business this year and he was passing the baton to Toshi and Mark who have accepted to serve as our new 2013 co-captains!
Here is to a new successful season of our South Bay ultra running team and the fun of meeting the other teams engaged in our Pacific Association Grand Prix in particular or the Ultra Running Racing League (URRL). See you all on the trails!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Trails, thank you for waiting!

Dear Trails,

Thank you for your patience and understanding. Trust me, I wasn't trying to avoid you but my calf forced me to take a break in January... I missed you SO much for a month, it was great to see you again this morning! Thank you for being out there when we need you. Thank you for staying in great shape thanks to such a dry winter so far. Thank you for letting volunteers groom you. Thank you for letting trees grow on your side to provide shade and prevent erosion. Thank your for making our hills accessible and runnable. Thank you for crossing each others to provide us with infinite options for our runs. Thank you for winding throughout our parks so we can enjoy new and amazing views at every corner. Thank you for allowing us to use you to approach wildlife. Thank you for letting rocks and roots play tricks on you to ensure we remain alert. Thank you for your uneven surface which brings much more variety and fun than road running. Thank you for what you are... :-)

I look forward to spending the year with you now, and many more years actually!


Dear Readers,

As you can see, I'm thrilled to be back on the trails...! ;-) It has been an interesting week. After Jed Smith 50K last Saturday, my legs were so sore that I had to wait until Tuesday to go for a run (I know, it isn't smart to use a race to resume training after a 3-week break...). The calves were still so tight that I thought it was too dangerous to run so, after 500 feet, I stopped and walked 2 miles in the neighborhood. I must say it felt a bit awkward to just walk but, with the slow/snail speed, I discovered many things about the nearby houses and streets, details that I can't pay attention to when I'm too focused running.

I tried again on Wednesday and, this time, I was able to run 10K, woo hoo! At 8 min/mile it felt like I was back to learning how to run again. It made me relate to what beginners experience. As you know, I didn't run for 3 weeks in January to take care of a nagging pain in my right calf, hence the prudence and reserve I have to push too much while resuming training this time.

On Thursday, I extended to 15K and 7:35 min/mile. Too much work on Friday to run so I was anxious to see how the calf will behave for my Saturday long run. I even took my cell phone with me, which is very rare, in case I had to call Agnès for a remote pickup. Every Saturday we have a group run at one of 4 locations in the Peninsula, one of which is Rhus Ridge, one of the entrances of our local County Park, Rancho San Antonio. It was freezing this morning but the sky was crystal clear, so long for the rain we are in dear need of (it just rained a bit on Thursday, and one day only in January). I left the Rancho main parking lot at 6:30 am and ran up Chamise Trail to meet with the group at the top of Rhus Ridge. Instead of a group, it was only Dave and John.
They let me know that the others couldn't park their cars at the Rhus Ridge entrance so they parked further and were doing the reverse loop (like I called the "anti Rhus Ridge" back in October 2011).

I kept going up to Black Mountain and figured I'll meet the rest of the group in Foothills Park in Palo Alto. The sun was rising over the Bay and we could see way beyond Mt Diablo, it was gorgeous.
I ran most of the trail up to the top of Black Mountain, along with another runner who joined from the top of PG&E (the connecting trail is now officially open, it has a... gate! I find that ironic that the trail did exist all these years but the "closing" gate shows that this is an officially "open" trail now). Anyway, without pushing much, my average pace was around 9:30 min/mile and went down as I ran down Bella Vista. It was great to be back to the top of Black Mountain, especially with such a clear sky and amazing views.
I ran into the rest of the group finally at the beginning of Foothills Park. Gary, Mike, Chris, Lina and Charles. My GPS was indicating 13.5 miles so I decided to turn back and run with them back to Rancho, which made a nice social run and opportunity to catchup with everybody, talking about our running season, family or work. We took the traditional group picture thinking of Craig who has moved to Sweden for a few years.
Great run overall, 27 miles alternating some work in the hills and some easy running. I feel my calf has switched from telling me: "no more run please" in January to "hey, boss, let's go and play on the trails!" Phew, it was time to start running some hills again before Way Too Cool in March and American River in April. And it feels so good to be out there to enjoy the trails in such a gorgeous weather! See you on the trails, and Run Happy, all!

PS: a few other pictures in my Picasa album.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jed Smith 50K: a good tough training run

I like how my blog keeps my memory honest (along with my running log or sites like and I was convinced this was my 6th Jed Smith but it was only my 5th. In 2007, I wouldn't have dared to run a 50K one month before Way Too Cool, I was still listening to my sister, still my best medical adviser, who told me "only one marathon a year!" Interestingly enough, that's one of the key advice too in the Hanson's Method book which I recently read and which I will review hopefully in a few weeks on this blog. Then, in 2008, I was still in Costa Rica early February, running the stage Coastal Challenge (the 2013 edition just started today). Bottom line, my first Jed Smith was in 2009, the last year if was hold at Gibson Ranch and the year Todd Braje ran the 50-mile in 5:30! While my debuts where challenging, I did learn over the years to get ready so early in the season: 3:51:03 in 2009 (better start training), 3:25:13 in 2010 (the birth of a new season), 3:28:16 in 2011 (a new and sunny course) and yet a new PR of 3:19:09 in 2012 (can I still improve)!

Now, as some of you must have read in previous posts, I missed the start of my season so far. After a 3-week break in December, I resumed training just after Christmas with a few easy runs but had to stop with a small nagging pain in my right calf. 5 days not running while we were skiing in Tahoe around New Year's Day then a solo and slow Saratoga Fat Ass (hilly 50K): the calf didn't complain that day but a sharp pain the next day cut my run short to 4 miles. I took the rest of January off, logging 72 miles for the month. I went the gym several times, mostly spinning and some weight training, but nothing replaces for me the work at the track or more importantly now on the hilly trails.

Needless to say I was both anxious and excited to run again this Saturday. I had of course no intention at all to clock a good time, my main goal was to see the calf holding, and finish the race. I drove early to see the 50-mile start at 7:30 am. Less than 30 runners in that event with 2 favorites: Victor Ballesteros and Chad Worthen. A specialist of long distance running on road (2:22 marathon, 1:08 half), Chad uses Jed Smith as his ultra lab. 2011 was his first 50K (I placed second... ;-), and 2012 his first 50-mile, but he dropped after 4 hours of very fast running. He was back for some unfinished business. As for Victor, he got some strange sensation with his hamstring during the week, so he wasn't going to push for a PR. (Victor next to the clock, Chad with the orange top.)
We started the 50K on time at 8:30. As usual, Chikara exploded and rushed into a 6-6:15 min/mile pace. I had promised myself not to start faster than 7 min/mile and settled in 10th position. After the 1.5-mile out and back, I maintained this pace for the next two 4.9-mile laps. Running his first 50K, a sub-3 marathoner and Brooks aficionado, Omar Amir ran along me for half the race. I usually can't chat much while running, to preserve my breathing, but the pace was comfortable so we exchanged a few words and I learned for instance that Omar's dad had ran the Olympic marathon, in the 60s, placing in the top 20 for Afghanistan. Good genes! Here I am with Omar, photo credit to Eric Shranz from (make sure to visit this informative website!):
At the beginning of the third lap (mile 12) I felt good enough to pick the pace. Omar followed me and we clocked a few miles under 6:40, getting the average pace now down to 6:50. Still no sight of Chikara of course but we passed 2 runners (nice chat with Charles Wickersham who was surprised to see me behind today) and closed the gap with the runner now in 2nd place. Unfortunately, my calves starting hurting by mile 17 and I had to ease the pace a bit, letting Omar going on. In the fourth lap, a bit of nausea add to the growing discomfort of my legs now expanding to my quads and hamstrings. What was I thinking? It was my first real training of the year, my body wasn't ready yet...

At the end of the 5th lap I had to go to the bathroom and it was worth the stop (sorry, no more details...). Omar had bonked in that lap and was thinking of dropping but I encouraged him to finish, albeit more slowly. Charles passed me while I was in the bathroom but I passed him again as he had to stop to the next one... I passed the 26-mile mark around 3:07 and tried to keep a decent running form in the last lap despite the leg pain. Galen Faris passed me at mile 28 but stopped twice to get rid of a cramp of his hip muscles. He managed to keep a good pace and a 2-minute lead in the last 3 miles. I was actually surprised a 7:18 min/mile average pace was good enough this year to place 4th overall and, more importantly, first Masters. Of course, having Victor running the 50-mile and Rich Hanna and Mark Lantz the 30K event helped tremendously! ;-)
Rich placed 2nd to Gary Gellin at Way Too Cool last year. One of the fastest distance runners in North California, he improved again his own course record at Jed Smith with a 1:47:35! That's a 5:47 min/mile pace for 30 kilometers (18.6 miles). All that at 47! Yet another promising season for Rich.

We were 6 from our QuickSilver Ultra Running Team today, with a strong representation at Ray Miller 50K and 50-mile the same day in South California. For his first ultra, Marc Klemencic clocked a PR (sic!) at 4:21. Without much training either Joe Swenson was happy with his 4:34. Keith Lubliner ran 5:12, missing his goal of finishing before Victor by 5 minutes (Victor clocked 6:07 on the 50-mile and they started one hour earlier). For his first run at Jed Smith, 8-time Badwater 135M finisher Dan Marinsik ran a 50K PR right on 6:00. And FiveFinger Kat Powell finished in 7:08 allowing us to score points in both the Men and Mixed divisions in the Grand Prix.

Speaking of Grand Prix, that was the event of the New Balance Excelsior club in the Men division, a team which is usually focusing on shorter road races. Starting with the blazing time and win of Chikara in 3:10:37, most of the team finished under 4 hours, kudos!
My other club, the Stevens Creek Striders, had also 6 representatives and will score in the Men and Women divisions. Lina, Penny, Peggy, Christina, Peter, John and Bill who, at 77, lost his M70-79 course record to his 5-year "junior" Hans Schmid (5:05). Here is Hans, sprinting to the finish:
A big thank to the local and organizing club the Buffalo Chips whose members were mostly volunteering instead of running, starting with co-Race Director John Blue. I like in particular how both professional and yet low key this event is. Professional with the chip timing, the sound system, the aid stations, the registration, the parking management, the website. Yet a very friendly atmosphere and an opportunity to reconnect with many as we resume the ultra running season and Grand Prix in particular. A great opportunity to discuss plans and projects for the year, and reassess our own shape.

I also like the humor of John and Dennis (the other Race Director) who transpired in this text on the 1st Master award:
Let all who read this know: you've still got it! Despite unseasonably warm weather, blisters, chaffing, squirrels, dog walkers, uppity youngsters, coyotes, absentminded cyclists, nausea, failing eyesight, chronic injuries, and the nagging of all those years of running, you ran as far as anyone, and faster than everyone over 40 on this day.
Although it was prepared before the race, is is actually almost a prefect summary of my event, well done, John and Dennis!

A big thank you to all the volunteers who spent a long day at one of the three aid stations, directing car traffic or at the key turns on the course!

As a conclusion, it was a good but tough, or tough but good, training run for me. My legs are so sore this Sunday that I don't know if the injury is really gone and I'm not going to take the risk to go for a recovery run today. The good news is that both legs hurt (!) and the right calf not more than the other, so we'll see in a couple of days how it evolves. But, needless to say, with this slow start this year, there is a lot of work ahead... Including reinstating the racing routine (I ran this race on only 2 GUs, 1 half banana, 1/2 cup of Coke, 3 S-Caps, 1 bottle of GU2O and not even one bottle of water, which wasn't quite enough). I used Vespa and, after 3 weeks of low physical activity I had quite a few extra pounds of body fat to draw energy from so I didn't really bonked, but my legs clearly lacked conditioning. And it was just a flat 50K... I know many would have been very happy with my time and place, but, as I wrote a few weeks ago, running is all relative, I look forward to the next races and seeing more of you at Way Too Cool to start with!

See more pictures in my Picasa album.