Monday, August 30, 2010

Black Mountain: did I see you up there yet?

Two weeks since the last post. Time flies and I missed the weekly pace, sorry about that. It's not that I was short of thoughts to share about my running. As a matter of fact, I did run 159 miles and climbed 13,400 feet since my last post about this first dad-son half marathon. Not as many miles as I wanted but cannot complain too much, when others would like to log that in a month or two.

Between lot of work (for a change...), meetings, conference calls, slide ware, emails and one sales call in Salt Lake City (it's always cool to meet prospects), my free time got split between training hard for my upcoming 100-miler, my Toastmasters Orbiters Club Officer duties (including officer training, organizing our summer picnic and the design and editing of our very first newsletter), family before Max leaves for Yale and friends (two picnics last weekend). With that, very little time to write, or even sleep...

I had great runs over the past two weeks:
  1. The day after the Wild West Half Marathon with Max, I took the afternoon off and, after sailing with our friends on Lake Tahoe, left Incline Village by 5 PM to climb Tunnel Creek trail and run 6 miles out and back on the Tahoe Rim Trail to the top of the Diamond Peak lift. What a treat to run on this amazing trail going all around the Lake for some 185 miles. That really gave me the bug to run the whole trail one of these days. Ahh, one more item in the to do and Bucket list...
  2. A couple of days later I was in salt Lake City and having dinner in Sandy, just below the Wasatch mountains. There again came another bug to run the hard Wasatch 100 (miles) and here you go, one more project...
  3. This past week, I was in town and so was my running buddy Bob, so we managed to get "back on track", meaning back to the Moutain View High School track for some speed workouts. It felt so good to get some fast laps. On Tuesday we did a series of 4 1,200 meters and my fastest was 3:57. On Thursday, a series of 3 miles, clocking 5:13 for my last one. I could feel muscles and fibers in my hamstring which I didn't feel for a long time with the fast leg speed and longer stride. Speed work is really something important to include in our training, and I didn't do enough of it these past months with all the racing, insanely early calls, and travel. Fortunately, the five high schools of our local Cupertino High School District are building 5 brand new tracks in the area, so this will give even more opportunities to get... back on track!
  4. A nice run last Wednesday at Alviso with one of my colleagues, with temperatures close to 100F. Finally some heat training!
  5. Quite a few loops in the neighborhood, some neighbors must get bored to see me passing by... I actually found a new 3.1-mile loop (5K) minimizing road crossings, which I did 8 times over three runs in the past two weeks.
  6. Last but not least, I had three long 30-mile runs gravitating around Black Mountain. Enough miles to come with a series of thoughts and anecdotes, so here you are in a special section of this post.
Here is a panorama I took in March 2010 from the top of Black Mountain (click on the image to enlarge):

Popular Black Mountain

Black Mountain dominates Cupertino and is situated within the city boundaries. Yet, for many years, I have rarely seen anyone up there but a few adventurous hikers and the usual ultra runners whom I'm quite connected with through various groups and clubs. Well, I'm not sure what happened recently but this has changed, at least for the past two weeks. Here are some vignettes illustrating the newly popularity of the place.
  1. A week ago, I was doing my solitary, tough and long run starting from home and climbing to the top of Black Mountain on Montebello Road (asphalt), then looping on Montebella Vista before coming back through Rancho San Antonio. As I was completing the Montebella Vista loop, I ran into teammate Sean. He was with another runner, Michael, and it was their first clinb to the top of Black Mountain, after many runs within the Rancho San Antonio vicinity. You see, that's at least two new people visiting this amazing spot where you get a 360-degree view on the Bay, Mount Hamilton, Mount Diablo, San Francisco, Oakland, Mount Tamalpais and the Ocean. It was a short 15-mile run for Sean, twice as much for me, yet we both hammered the trail down to the main parking lot. I told Sean that I would have never pushed that much on my own and he replied that it was the same for him; that illustrates the benefit of training with a fast partner... I completed the 29.5-mile loop just under 4 hours (3:56), right on 8 minute/mile pace which is good given the 4,200 feet of cumulative elevation.
  2. Last Saturday, I parked at Rancho San Antonio and was pleased to actually find a parking spot at 6:30 in the morning (the lot usually fills up even earlier on weekends!). I was rushing to meet with a group of ultra runners strating from the Rhus Ridge entrance on the other side of the Park. Just after the Farm, I passed a group of about a dozen runners and Louis called me out. I had seen him at the start of Skyline 50, it was his second 50K. I asked where they were going and he replied... "to the top of Black Mountain!" And that I will probably be there before them. I don't know if it was their first time, but there hasn't many runners doing the 15-mile round trip from Rancho San Antonio, so way to go guys and gals!
  3. I did meet the other group at the top of the steep climb from Rhus Ridge. It has been a while since I did this run and it felt great to reconnect with Mike, Chris, Charles and David. As we were approaching the top of Black Mountain we crossed quite a few Indian hikers coming down. It wasn't even 8 AM so that mean they must have started their hike around 6 AM if not sooner! Again, very unusual to see that many people on the trail, that high and that early in the day.
  4. Just before the summit, we ran into two runners, Doug and Susan who stayed with us for the remainder of the 20-mile loop (I did 10 more miles from and to the main parking lot). They recently moved back to California, Doug's home state after years spent in other countries and states, the latest being Utah. Doug admitted nothing beats the Bay Area weather and they had a lot of fun enjoying again our treasured trails. Welcome back Doug and Susan!
  5. It was even more suprising to see so many hikers this morning that the weather was really not good. After the heat wave of a couple of days ago, the wind was blowing hard at the top, pushing fog and clouds, and it was really getting chilly, likely in the low 60s. Fortunately, we ran the rest of the loop in the sun. Anyway, as we stopped at the Black Mountain camp ground to take some water, we ran into the other Mike. And to add more to this illustration of the popularity of Black Mountain, there were at least 8 tents on the campground. Even at Memorial or Labor Day, I never saw that many.
  6. Our Saturday run continued through the Foothills Park, open to Palo Alto residents only. After a short stop at the Interpretive Center, we went on Coyote Trail, Chris leading the way. I was with Mike and we were talking about our professional careers when we saw Chris turning back with another runner: they had just seen a moutain lion crossing the trail in front of them and camping in a nearby bush just above the trail. I wanted to continue and take a picture, but Chris and Mike said it was really a bad idea and joked saying that would be my last picture and make a great final post, yikes! So we turned back and found another trail to avoid this section. Doing so, Charles, Doug and Susan caught up with us which made a larger group in case we were going to encounter this beast again. We stopped at the Park entrance to warn the Rangers and tell them about our encounter, in a park which is really busy on weekends and many kids playing out there. Sorry, no picture of the animal, but better this way.
  7. I said bye to Mike, David and Charles near the Rhus Ridge parking lot. Indeed, with this affluence, they could not find a single spot so they all parked in a nearby street. Running across the small lot, I saw a Police car and policeman and noticed that the gate was opened. I was wondering what what going on and, as I was pushing hard on the way up to Windmill Pasture, crossed a Ranger. He stopped his huge truck to let me go, but I stopped by to tell him about the mountain lion incident. Before I could even start, he asked which car I had as he was looking for the owner of a car which just got broken into on the parking lot. Damned, with the popularity of this park and this mountain comes the insanity of insecurity, how sad. That's why some "hard core" ultra runners are against promoting the joy of our sport and would rather keep our community exlcusive. A dilemma... At least, my running budies got lucky this time that they could not park on the lot that morning! Back to the Ranger, I told him about our encounter and he was not surprised. He said that if you see deers, then this is mountain lion's food so the lions aren't far (and indeed, several deers we saw during our run). He also said that mountain lions are rarely seen but they are out there and watching us. Brrr, I thought they were all sleeping during day time...
  8. On Sunday, I left home for another of my Montebello Road and Rancho San Antonio loop. I carried my camera the whole way, hoping for great views from the top. There wasn't clouds like the day before, except over the Ocean as most of the time, but the air was not pure, so we couldn't see very far. No pictures of that run then. I passed a couple of bikes on the way up on Montebello Road but got passed by one, a mountain biker who I saw in a few occasions before. Tall and long legs, he is amazingly fluid. In the steep sections, he is going back and forth between the side and middle lines of the road, a sinusoidal trajectory along imaginary switchbacks to be more efficient. I thought that I'll ask him his name if he comes down the same route and, close after the Ridge winery, I saw him coming down really fast yet yelled "Who are you?" He put on the brakes, passes me but stop shortly behind so I run back and, getting to my camera, told him "I need to take a picture of you!" At these words, he leaves promptly and without looking behind at me, so he clearly wants to remain anonymous, oops! I've heard about an ex Ironman champion and triathlon coach living on Stevens Creek Canyon Road, maybe that's him.
  9. At the bottom of my Montavista Trail loop, I saw two hikers looking at a map and I stopped to help. They were looking for the Table Top Mountain, but were off the map so I sent them to the top of the... popular Black Mountain since there were just 1.5 miles away from it (albeit steep miles). However, before leaving them as I was completing the loop clockwise, I made sure they knew that there was water at the campground if they needed any (it says that it is not potable but we do drink it and Charles said that it is going though two UV filters, as long as the electricity is up at the campground). I actually saw them at the campground as I was leaving after refilling my Gu2O bottle, and I indicated the shortest way back to Skyline Boulevard where they had started in the morning. Again, new people on Black Mountain!
  10. At the campground there was also 2 horse riders, which is also uncommon. They were coming from the Stevens Creek Canyon road I believe. Busy camp ground this weekend! On my way down to Rancho San Antonio I saw a handful of runners and then of course many people around the Farm, which is one mile away from the parking lot. I completed the loop again in a record time in 3:55:59, pushing all the way through the streets of Cupertino. In addition to 2 bottles of Gu2O and 2 S!Caps, I had taken only 1 Gu (100 calories) and a Snickers bar (240 cal) while SportTracks rated my run at 2,900 calories spent. Needless to say, I was starving and enjoyed a chicken Caesar salad with Alex. Still 20 minutes after my run and a short hot shower my lips where blue and I weighted 124 pounds instead of the usual 127-128. I was much better after soaking for 15 minutes in the jacuzzi and a 30' nap, ready to work for several hours on presentations and catching up with emails. Not much time to rest, life goes on.
You can see a few pictures of our Saturday run in my Picasa album, as well as previous runs from Rhus Ridge: August 2010, October 2009, April 2009. As well as other pictures taken around Black Mountain in March 2010,

Ok, that's it for the Black Mountain news. Until I see you too up there, ok?

One last thing: this weekend was the Angeles Crest 100-miler and also the UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc). Being familiar with the course, it is the latter that I followed partially. Actually very partially as the race was stopped after 20 miles (out of 104 miles) due to bad weather conditions (rain and snow) and a major mud slide on the course on the Italian side. To make up for the disappointment of the interruption, the organizers proposed to the participants to run the second half, also known as the CCC for Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix, the part of the course which I ran solo this past July (except for the finish through La Flégère). Unfortunately, not all runners received the text message. Jim Magill did and ran the CCC instead then, but not Mark Nassi from the Bay Area, creating a double frustration for him. It was the 6th edition of UTMB and they had bad weather before but that was the first cancellation. The alea and hazardousness of mountaineering...

I'm on my way to Austin, TX, for business and I will be tapering for the next two weeks. Take care, stay healthy and run happy!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Dad son wild west half-marathon

If you have not figured out by now, the family has been quite busy these past months or even years. Sometimes it is hard to fit everything we would like into our schedules, that is meeting with friends or traveling to new places for instance. Our Bucket List is long, we have enough on it for many years to come!

From time to time the boys offer us very personal gifts such as a one on one movie night or scrap booking, or the more classic car wash.

Last year, Max gave me a very special voucher for Father's Day: to run his first half marathon togehter. Between his cross-country schedule and college applications, and my busy race schedule, months passed without us coming with a good date for such an event. In May, I realized we had better hurry up with only a few weeks left before Max leaves for the East Coast. I went on several race schedule websites and found one half-marathon which was not already full, in August and close to our friends' place in Incline Village, Nevada, as we have planned for a weekend with them mid August. After checking with Agnès and Max, I registered the two of us on
As the date was approaching in July, Max and I were excited about the opportunity to realize his gift, finally. Max started training again after his graduation, including the 16 miles he paced me along at Western States at the end of June. Going the distance was really not the concern. As a matter of fact, we did a 13-mile run in Paris in 1:48. The unknown was how much we could push the pace. Unfortunately, Max' foot started bothering him at the end of July, a sort of inflammation under his right foot. Instead of running, he focused on swimming and did some biking as he is now dreaming of triathlon. With that, I really did not know what to expect. Just before the race, Max and I agreed on a conservative start at 7 min/mile pace, and we would pick up the pace half way if he was feeling good. The goal was to run under or close to 1 hour and 30 minutes. That was before seeing the course...

The other unknow this Sunday morning was the course as the website description was rather succint:
Out and back on fairly level streets, fire trails, and single track trails, rolling, no major hills! Magnificent High Sierra scenery. Four aid stations on course. Awards to all that complete the Half marathon or 10K.
The third unknown was the size of the field. We reached Donner Summit/Soda Springs around 8:15 for a start scheduled at 9 AM and, with the event called "Wild West", I was worried that would leave enough time to get our bib numbers. Well, there were barely 5 runners around the registration table and the field increased to a total of... 18 runners! It has been a long time since I did not compete in such a small field.
We all listened carefully to the pre-race briefing of race director, Big Al. After a few series of "take right, then right, then up, then straight, then turn around", several of us looked at each other, puzzled. Max asked if I had followed the instructions as he was relying on me. By the way, Big Al's motivation for putting up these races is to get more people healthy and he asked all of us that we take our own share and drag other people into running. A message which I'm very happy to spread through this blog and which corresponds well to the philosophy of the Brooks Inspire Daily program which I am part of.
We started by a short down hill and Max and I took the lead at the first turn. Max had forgotten his GPS but did not mind as I was going to pace him anyway.
A quarter of mile into the race we were at 6:35 min/mile pace and slowed down in the first hill. We were followed at a distance by Bau who was leading the 10K race. The hill from Soda Springs to the first aid station around 1.6 miles kept slowing down and we left the aid station with an average pace of 7:45 min/mile which we will maintain for the next 11 miles.
We crossed the third runner of the half two minutes after the turn around, then about ten other runners. Then we passed a few 10K runners who were on their way back. I kept reminding Max that we had another 4-mile out and back along the rail track before the finish, but he was too tired to realize. His back was cramping and he had GI issues which made him reluctant to drink. We saw Agnès at the end of each out and back and at the finish (in the meantime she drove up to Royal Gorge Inn, a place we enjoy in winter when cross country skiing).
As a perfect Dad-Son run, we reached the finish line together for a tie win of the event, in 1:41:57.
It was obviously not a competitive event yet it was not a flat one either and the altitude did not help as we the course was oscillating between 6,700 and 7,000 feet. And it was mostly on trail too. What a treat for Max to win his first half marathon race and for me to have been on his side to encourage and motivate him.

Please note that the event will be held the second weekend of August in 2011 and Big Al hopes this will bring more people by synchronizing with another local event or celebration.
A big thank you to... Big Al and his two volunteers manning the two aid stations! And congratulations to all the runners who joined them for this very friendly in a gorgeous and healthy place to run (except for the dust when crossing cars on the trail... ;-). And to Agnès for crewing and covering the event with her camera once again.
No food at the finish but the winner of the 10K race, Beau Barrett, and his wife, Shani, offered a sandwich, a cereal bar and an orange to Max who was most needing some fuel after pushing hard. Bean and Shani will be running the Lake Tahoe Marathon as a pair, one half marathon each and passing their baby at the mid point. They create glass art, wearables and lampwork in Fernley, Nevada, and I invite you to visit their website!

Here are three screen shots from my Garmin 205 recordings loaded in SportTracks. See you all on the road or the trails and... Run Happy!

PS: can't make the scale more realistic for the elevation chart. From 6,700 feet at the start to 7.000 at the first aid station, it was not as hilly as this chart implies...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The week of a runner: a true blog post

A short post tonight, no race report, no pictures, but a come back to the original concept of "blog", a "web log" of my week with a couple of running-related anecdotes (for the ones who didn't know, blog is the contraction or blend of web log, that is diary or a series of ideas, news and comments posted over the web).

Monday. No running, still too much soared from yesterday's great race to run, or even walk without pain... Still hard to believe I got faster on this course and that fast on a 50K despite the hills, and savoring this feeling of accomplishment. I'm usually considering that it's reasonable to lose 1 minute/age year on the marathon distance so I was really glad to be that close to Tom Johnson's course record he set up at 39 (3:32) and his 3:36-performance at 41. Some time spent before going to bed to respond to messages on Facebook related to our Quicksilver race and the recent 3 IronWomen we got in the Striders Club in July at the Vineman (Penny, Peggy and Christina). Way to go gals!

Tuesday. Still quite soared with painful quads going downstairs. Surprise, my Brooks order arrived today including 2 new pairs of the Green Silence! I love this catchy and comfy shoe so much... Got my first pair the month they were released, in February of this year, and have run 700 miles in them since. I owe you (and them!) a dedicated post in this super innovative and eco-friendly shoe from Brooks.

Wednesday. Third day commuting to work this week to make up for all the time I was away in July. Nobody to run with at the office and I enjoyed a slow 7:50 min/mile run at the nearby Alviso Marina Park (7.2 flat miles). Saw many birds including white pelicans and egrets. I even crossed the rail track this time and ventured into the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge where I got attacked by low-flying birds protecting their precious nests. Impressive and scary, it made me think of Hitchcock... In the evening, I registered for the San Jose Half Marathon, the first weekend of October (complimentary entry from Brooks) and to FireTrails 50-mile the following week (thanking the ultra legends Ann Trason and Carl Anderson who still direct this race after more than 10 years in a row). The ultra running season is far from being over...

Thursday. I was looking forward to meeting again with Bob at the track and get Max to join us for some speed training before our half-marathon of August 15 at Donner Pass but no luck, not this time again... First, and that's really a bummer, Max has been injured since we ran a half-marathon together in Paris (inflammation of the outside of his right foot). Not sure how our first race together is going to turn to knowing that he goes for a hike the following week with other Yalees as a way to bond. And, of course, being a Pommier, he selected the most strenuous of the hikes... The second reason I didn't go the track this morning is that I went to bed way too late to work on two presentations, one for work (Friday morning), one for my Toastmasters Club, the Orbiters. My speech was titled "You can do it" and the goal was to inspire the audience. As you can guess, I used some of my running history to illustrate the power of setting incremental goals and getting the appropriate support structure in reaching new goals and heights. And you, blog readers, are part of my support structure!

Friday. Working calls from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM with a short break to run 10K in the neighborhood. Plus one hour with the surgeon who is going to replace Agnès' hip as the pain has become unbearable again. Despite me running for two... Agnès is postponing the procedure so she can still crew me at Rio Del Lago, what a dedicated supporter!

Saturday. Some catch-up work and a 7 min/mile half-marathon in the neighborhood. Then, in the evening, all the boys were out (Alex is in New York for a 2-week internship by the way) so Agnès and I watched two documentaries on running. The first one called "Running to the Limits" which is mostly about Alex Vera's story transforming himself from not being able to run at all to deciding to qualify for the Olympic Marathon for the UK, that is to run a marathon under 2:20! After 2 years of very hard training including the support of renowned coaches, he ended up running a half-marathon in 1:14 (a few seconds faster than my PR) and running a marathon under 3 hours. Unfortunately, as he was back from training in Ethiopia and benefiting from a great boost from the altitude training, he injured his ankle and couldn't run the London Marathon who was supposed to be his qualifying race. Now, the interesting part is that, while in Ethiopia, he met the same runner I ran into there last December, by luck, Mengsitu Abebe. Not without trouble, Alex got Mengsitu a visa so he could compete in the UK and build his international notoriety. The second documentary was called "Vidéo UTMB 2005: code FINISHER" and about UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc), a place familiar to both of us that we enjoy so much. I even have more respect for this race, definitely much harder than Western States with much more cumulative elevation in particular. Thinking of teammate Jim who is on his way to Chamonix this month.

Sunday. More catch-up work to prepare for the week in Austin but a great run to the top of Black Mountain (23 miles, 3,000 ft cumulative elevation, 3 hours and 3 minutes). It was reasonably hot and I started conservatively to then push after the Pichettis'. The views at the top of Black Mountain were magnificient, it felt like I was in the air, on my way to landing at SFO, or like I could grab/touch the City, Bay Bridge, Treasure Island, Oakland as they seemed so close. There were clouds over the Ocean but you could still see the sea underneath. And then Mount Diablo and all the summits around the Bay. Sorry, no picture, just words, you have to trust me on this one...

Monday. A quick 6-mile run before getting on the plane to Austin. Probably not much running while being there, but more miles in Tahoe over the coming weekend then. It feels strange that I will be running a "short" half-marathon on Sunday while my next goal is a 100-mile in 5 weeks. I am a generalist...

Well, here are a few notes about my second job, a normal runner week, you can imagine what the first job is like... ;-)

Run Happy and have a great week, all!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Skyline 50K 2010: a perfect #4

This is ultra running: sometimes it does not work like you had planned, sometimes you have a blast and perfect race. You have to keep trying, learning, guessing, pushing. In any case, it is hard, but rewarding.

It feels good to be back in the Bay Area and on my now familiar trails. Apart from the tough Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (only 57 miles but as much cumulative elevation as Western States), most of my runs there were on the road, and against heavy traffic. What a blessing that all these well groomed trails we have around here! Overall I ran more than 250 miles over there and did quite a few blogging as you might have seen in my previous 5 posts.

It was my 49th ultra this Sunday and I had a perfect race, a great way to start August. Perfect weather, perfect company and competition, perfect trails (some sections improved from last year), perfect organization (a big Thanks to the Rays), perfect support form the volunteers on the course and at the aid stations, perfect marking, perfect crewing by Agnès (saw her 7 times on the course!), for a great performance. Here is the overview, and here are more details and account from the front of the race.

I like this race not only because it is a fast course but because the timing works really great for me as I have always came back from France a couple of days before and the jet lag works really nicely on this end: it is easy to go bed at 8 PM and fall asleep quickly, and wake up at 4 AM, well rested. A bit pricey as a preparation if you do not have the opportunity to fly there to visit family and friends, but France is always a great destination to visit, especially in July!

Anyway, Agnès drove this morning and we reached the Lake Chabot Marina just in time to grab my bib number, meet a few familiar participants and get ready for the 7 AM start. RD Jennifer Ray delivered a short race briefing, basically that the trail was marked with yellow ribbons (like at States) and asking that we all remain well hydrated despite the cool temperature at the start (overcast like last year).
And here off we were for a few hours on the trail:
With Chikara (Omine) and Victor (Ballesteros) quickly taking the lead, the start was fast, in the 6:20-6:30 min/mile pace range on the bike path.

A group of 7 quickly formed and that would be the same 7 at the finish, although you have to read on to figure out the final order! In addition to Chikara and Victor, we had Joe (Binder, 2nd last year), teammate Sean (Lang) and Ian, from the UK. Around mile 3, I saw that another QuickSilver/RhoQuick teammate of mine was close behind, Toshi. With this fast pace, and being the oldest of this gang, I settled in 6th between mile 2 and 3, thinking that I was going to lose sight the duel between Joe and Chikara. A few miles later however, I had more power in the hills and ended up taking the second position, wondering it was really reasonable that I pass Victor and Chikara in particular. Joe was now leading with a pace around 7 minute/mile, with Chikara close behind. Chikara actually passed me when we were going through the Bort Meadows aid station but I did pass him again in the following up-hill.
The next 7 miles up to Skyline Gate (turn around) were pretty much the same with me wondering if it was reasonable to keep contact with Joe. But the pace seemed right as we were now down to an average 7:15 with the up hills.

Both of us did a quick stop at the aid station, with Agnès giving me two new bottles, and here we were down on the rooty French Trail.
At some point I saw Joe passing two mountain bikers who stopped for him then I was following the bikers but I lost sight of Joe in the meantime as he must have accelerated in the up hill to Westridge Trail. at this point, I was still feeling great, so much better than in my three previous runs, but not to the point to accelerate. With this convoluted trail, my pace was down to 7:28 when I reached Toyon Trail on our way back to the Big Bear aid station where Agnès and Jenna were again.

I did not even stop at the station and passed Mark (Gilligan, master) before the steep climb. Mark was really excited and could not believe I was looking that strong and still in second position. He mentioned that Joe was just a couple of minutes ahead. To be honest, I was not racing again Joe but again the clock as I kept thinking of Tom Johnson's course records. I have never known Tom but he is the one who kept me pushing in all the uphills, not walking any step on the course today. A while back, Tom set an overall course record of 3 hours and 32 minutes, at 39, and repeated his fate two years later to set the Masters record at 3:36:20, that is a pace just under 7 minutes/mile! With the downhill to Bort Meadows and the following flat section, I was able to get my pace down to 7:21 again, then lose a few seconds again in the ups and downs to Honker Bay, then down again pushing the pace under 7 minutes/mile in the final 3 miles along the Lake Chabot, back to the Marina.
I pushed, pushed, and stopped just under the banner right under 3:43 (3:52:58), to realize that the finish line was 2-3 yards after the banner, costing me 2 seconds and an official finish time of 3:43:00 and 2nd overall. Ian came in 3rd, then Chikara, Victor, right under 4 hours, followed by Toshi and Sean, making a great team performance (team ranking takes the first three finishers).

Like Adam, who missed the start, said to Sean and I: "You don't look so good!" to which I replied with a friendly "I don't run hard to look good..." Indeed, I did run hard today and I'm really glad it worked out (no asthma, barely a cramp, very short stops to two aid stations, no falling). That's for such perfect runs that I keep competing...

The BBQ was great and abundant, providing us with the perfect opportunity to recharge while connecting with the ultra community, in the shade or the sun. Many stories, misfortunes or successes about the recent 100-milers in the area (Western States and Tahoe Rim Trail), and sharing about what was coming next (yes, we are hard core and insatiable ultra runners, it is the next challenge which counts...!).

Agnès was glad for me and she admitted that she really likes and prefers these short and quick races! She and Jenna did quite some manoeuvrings and driving to show up on time at 7 places on the course, including the start and the finish, thank you, Agnès! With that, we only stayed for another hour or so after I finished, with many participants still on the course. Something to note on this matter is the very first appearance of Team in Training on the ultra circuit. In a field which is never large for this race (surprisingly for such an accessible and well managed race), there were indeed many ultra rookies this Sunday, not all with TnT but a dozen or so wearing the purple attire now familiar at marathons. Way too go and congratulations to these new comers to our sport!
As for me, before Rio Del Lago 100-mile in September, I have a special event, albeit not an ultra: a half-marathon with Max (his first official one) at Donner Pass on the 15th. In the meantime, enjoy the trails and the outdoors all!

PS: see a few pictures of the start and the top 7 finishers, credit to Agnès (sorry she could not take more runners this time, moving from one aid station to another and out of batteries at the finish).

An exhaustive tour of Anthony Chabot and Redwood Regional Parks (all the green area on the map!) above Oakland:
Not super high elevation (1,200 feet only, the scale and image ration are misleading) but still about a cumulative 4,500 feet overall: