Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Had to shorten our stay in the mountains. No run up there and the conditions were PERFECT.
A child's allergies, a dusty ass cabin and there you have it. However, we had an incredible xmas eve with incredible eats. And the gifts were spot-on.

My favorite is the little flask I got for flat coke I'm going to use for that last climb at Mission Gorge. The field is toast.

Got home today and hit the cross-country course in Mission Bay, rolling grass in my new shoes. The shoes felt light and so good. So I got after it. Glycerin 8s. Used for $20, I kid you not. I think they're $120 retail, new. Love them.

5 miles in sub 38min with a mile cd. Fartlek. Never that uncomfortable.
Now it's REALLY time to mix-in my long run. The program is steady now, time is ticking (early Feb. mountain run). My feet will really benefit from the longer efforts.

The jump-roping is helping a lot. And don't even get me started on the hoola-hoop.

At home, cabbage meatballs made by my Albanian father in law and a very solid double IPA. Cheers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


A great time of year!

Huge winter swell . . . in the air?

Monday, December 19, 2011

I just read some commentary on a running blog

about how commentary on running blogs can symbolize a kind of pathetic voyeurism. He vaguely references all matters of blog discussions that people have about, I suppose, all kinds of topics relating to, in this case, the trail. He doesn't like the fact that the sport of trail running is being treated like a sport, as in the kind that people watch on TV.

This kind of bullshit mightier-than-thou player hating is retarded. Some people think this sport is being taken more seriously. People naturally "over think" certain issues when this kind of maturity occurs in a culture or business. There's more going on, more coverage (by more mainstream entities, not just blogs). I'm sure people like that can continue to find the blogs that only talk about VO2 max or a wet trail in Florida where there were weird noises coming from the bushes.

The bottomline is all of this blogosphere is commentary and analysis. It might be about training. It might be about a pair of shoes or a hydration pack. The blogger might even be talking about how a race went down. Hell, there might be a movie review that takes a critical turn and readers debate said criticism. The discussion might get spirited. That's the blogosphere.

But to hypocritically commentate about the commentary and in-turn stick your nose up at it and call it misguided, unwarranted, or somehow the work of some impostor or fake, said in the most vaguely targeted manner possible, generalizing the entire blog community minus your BFFs, is weak, poorly executed, and a cop out at best.

For Now

I am very stoked about last week's running. I got in about 50 miles (49.7 according to my log). I am battling a little PF niggle in the left foot that is, I'm almost positive, related to that foot's issues over the past 6 months. The PF niggle started back in 2008 when I blew it out descending a ~2000ft hill in my first trail half marathon. I've started jump-roping again and I think that will help. The various shoes I wear and of course the various surfaces have something to say about how my foot feels as well. I will do mostly flatter surfaces for now, but sneak-in some up and down trails for that kind of business. The priorities are clear. I would rather show-up to my first mountain race (15k, 2/8) without a lot of climbing/technical trail, than to show-up with a bunch of trail vert in my quiver but a gimpy foot. Thinking long-term here.

I really want to get into some Trail Commentary right now, but for now I need to organize my thoughts. AJW got everyone scrambling about some issues in the 100 that seem very interesting. I argued over the last few months that the sport has a split personality. That split manifested in another way on his blog and I want to pour myself all over it. I will write about it for an up-coming article I'm writing for a trail pub. Either way, it will find its way onto the screen. I am geeked for this. I can not wait for that 50k in March. 2012 the beginning of a huge bash consisting of long runs and long beers.

Yes the beer is flowing. I will post some pics but for now it's still Olympias between double IPAs. On that note: Rick Merriman is a fitness genius and an incredible mountain runner. He posed a routine of doing 50 crunches for every beer. That's my routine now. I do about 150 crunches every (other) night :)))

Thanks, Rick! This is no joke.

Let me machine-gun a few thoughts on the mainstream sports landscape. A few things there that have me trippin.

1) Interesting L.A. developments: The Clippers are eclipsing the Lakers and the Angels the same to the Dodgers. It's happening before your very eyes. Arti Moreno is a marketing genius. Pujols is a marketing tool, period. But they should do pretty well in the box score, as well. The Lakers and Dodgers are a mess. Make no mistake about that. Their leadership is in transition and/or in the toilet. The Clippers. Wow.

2) The media missed the big issue with the whole Lakers/Clippers/Chris Paul trade. No one is recognizing the fact that Kobe Bryant is, essentially, done. I hear people say he has another 4-5 years. These people are so diluted is funny. Did you see last year? He can't close games the way he's supposed to. The league is younger, he's banged-up, the shortened season will accelerate the demise and the team around him pretty much sucks. Kobe is done.

3) Tebow continues to ruffle feathers, which still I find fairly astounding. The guy is just doing a good job. He works hard. But he is as polarizing as the Kardashians New York Yankees. The best discussion I heard recently revolves around the necessary expertise (analytical skill) of those who have played the game. Indeed, people are posing that question: just because you played does not mean you are necessarily qualified to analyze the game. You might say that reverberates beyond the Tebow scenario.

That's it for now.

Oh, and if anyone has any thoughts on this (but I'm probably ordering them by the end of the night): I want a pair of inov8s that I can use on technical trail and grassy hill (I have found some local fell), but also run longish. I've owned one pair in the past, loved them, but forgot which ones. Santa is stud!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I am fat

We have so much food in this house. It's good food, I think, but my God. So this week is a bender of home cooked madness. Lots of killer salads. Stay. On. Track.

I'm trying to really drop some weight. And I am not going to not have a beer or two every other day. I ran today, the foot feels like it's back on track, so I am going to up the mileage and continue to lift a little, a little core, etc. I'm afraid that should read ". . .a lot, a lot . . ."

Maybe I'm just doomed to be the slightly chubby guy. I think the push of volume will solve a lot of this mess. I do like to eat. Period. And I like beer. But this guy has to get lighter sooner than later.

I'm like the guy with a 15 lbs weight vest who wants to return it to Sports Chalet but he can't find the receipt.

Cheers to that run today and getting after some longer stuff starting this week.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The North Face EC Championships Wrap

The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile Championship 2011 is in the books. So, what happened? As far as my picks were concerned, I didn’t do too shabby. Although I mentioned D Jones as an outright favorite in SF in a recent post digesting his R2R2R FKT, paired with the rest of his nutty and gutsy 2011, I balked and fell for the ole Geoff Roes will find his big stage big race form once again. Roes at or near his best has so much appeal, I might spend another year looking for that immaculate into the wild form.

In the aforementioned “recent post” I called Jones the future of competitive American ultra. His 2nd and HR100 2011 and his shorter ultra chops make him so dangerous on just about any track. Only world-class studs (Chorier, M Wolfe, etc.) will be able to run him down on a good day. Remember the early century K Skaggs and Krupicka? Welcome to Jonestown. He’s only 21.

Then there’s Mike Wolfe. In the discussion that ensued post-race, there was talk of Wolfe for UROY. His 2nd at WS100, the win at Way Too Cool, strong showing at Miwok among others and, indeed, this guy is right there, especially considering the other candidates. Granted, I picked Wolfe to possibly win SF50, but I had the wrong dog. Jason Wolfe finished 8th.

The Endurables’ fantastic portrayal of the day gives us a nice perspective on how things unfolded out there in the Headlands. Stunning scenery. The gorgeous landscape was pretty fine too. Yeah, the scenery to which I refer is the peloton of world-class runners that battled across that dirt roller-coaster consisting of 10k of climbing, forest canopied trail, technical sections and the like. Jones and Wolfe exchanging blows for what seemed about 20 miles, with some of the literal who’s who of ultra and mountain running in their wake, makes SF50 an instant classic.

Mike Wolfe – the grinder who seems really smart and calculating (I think he’s a lawyer for God’s sake), strong and not someone you want to tangle with even if you do plan to inflict head wounds.

Mike Wardian – how can his race schedule have been auspicious at all going into TNFSF. I think a lot of people had him winning. I thought, in the end, he’d implode at the start. Pretty gutsy to run like that. . . almost every weekend!

Adam Campbell – A classy guy who ran an absolutely classly race. I am very disappointed that I didn’t see that although we all certainly missed a runner or two due to this incredible depth. I am really stoked for this Canuck mountain runner. And will continue to enjoy his stuff.

Jason Schlarb, one of my lucky 7, had a nice race, finishing 10th.

Alex Nichols, a popular pick amongst some Coloradans was apparently running really strong at the front when he twisted his ankle. Very unfortunate.

What about Laborchet off the front through about 20 miles with another Salomon runner (Vollet?) and then pulling-out? What was that?

We could go on and on. The bummer for me is still that Roes didn’t quite have the goods. I thought he did have unfinished business. I thought he was ready to crush some demons, salvage 2011 massively. Hey, top five is still fantastic; I just like his style and wanted to see him carve off the front. I remember seeing a tweet from iRunFar at about 25 miles, Geoff in about 3-4th place and Bryon saying Geoff looks “chill.” That sounded perfect. But it sounds like his energy waned and he just didn’t have the boost to stay with the mad dogs fighting it out for the win (and again, iRunFar’s coverage was great).

Other than those menial thoughts on the men’s race, overall I thought Salomon and mountain running showed-up big-time. Anna Frost is a huge talent. The fact that she in very recent times has competed victoriously with the women Skyrunners, and is now doing very well at the ultra distance seems pretty remarkable. I like Adam’s 3rd for Salomon, as well. The white suits continue to represent where ever they “lace them up.”

I did get a chance to see Rickey Gates' race report. In sum, he was calling for more of these ultra guys to step to some of the shorter, more classic mountain races ala Sierre Zinal and Mt. Washington. I love to hear that as it seems against the popular train of thought, the one that goes: "yeah, my grandma got chosen for HR100, so I'll be pacing her and the whole family is getting involved." Long live American mountain running.

What does this race say about 2011 and 2012? Last year, this race dawned an incredible trend of Salomon dominance that’s well chronicled. What trends might we see in 2012 hatched from the Headlands of 2011? Any thoughts on that?

I think last weekend’s race is a kind of coronation for Mike Wolfe who seems like a very legitimate world-class ultra marathoner. Maybe (other than Kilian) the best in his sport given what he’s done on big stages. Last Saturday had to be a big pint of confidence. I’ve heard others talk about him. I’ve gathered bits and pieces of some of his training that seems utterly world-class (big volume, big hills, blue-collar ballz). Certainly TNF has a fine leader in Mike Wolfe.

I’ve already waxed about Jones. He’s the future of the sport if he continues to enjoy it as much as he currently does. Mad game. Can run all kinds of tracks.

Adam Campbell is just another reason I want to visit Canada. That big block of ice, that purports to offer fantastic culture, spits out some pretty classy and down-to-earth athletic talents, specifically of the endurance tribe. We’re rooting for Adam all the way. Here’s to a big 2012.

Geoff Roes will be a very compelling athlete to watch in 2012. I’m sure he will have some superb races and results. No need to say anything else, really. Other than we're rooting for Geoff big time.

Looking forward to it all. What do you think about 2012? Especially as TNF50 Championships may have produced a couple of trends we can watch develop perhaps over the next year or so?

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Tis the season. My odd job is going on break, the weather is cooler (as in I might want to ask for a new cooler for Christmas) and the children are giddy (which would include me).

Just had a birthday; got to spend a little time in Bevmo, a couple of sweaters, and a beenie. Oh, and a gift certificate for some running shoes. Pretty much as perfect as it gets.

The foot/ankle got a little spun when I twisted a couple of weeks ago in the midst of pushing some hills (~8000ft on the week which is like Himalayan for me). Running every other day to get this thing straightened-out. Just getting old.

This study was pretty conclusive. Not a huge fan of Hercules Double IPA. No head, good dark amber color, syrupy and a little hoppy but not that hoppy. I guess I'm just SoCal conditioned. No one beats our big hop style. Hercules reminds me of the Gubna, definitely a style issue.

Olympia kicked its ass.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco Championship 2011

It’s Friday (well, Thursday night really), the day before the biggest ultra of the year (2011 The North Face Endurance Challenge San Francisco Championship). There are a few reasons why we should consider this race ultra big, or this ultra race big. That’s what I’ll spend the next hour or so chipping away at, that idea that we’ve reached at last the Marin Headlands and a field of runners will assemble in just a few hours that could absolutely, in the spirit so poetically described by Geoff Roes, explode trail lore. Imagine what’s at stake. We are witnessing a sport get defined, re-defined as its precocious limbs mature before our very eyes.

The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships San Francisco represents the other half of this sport’s split personality. About a month ago, I explored the meaning of UROC and think some of those words apply here to this weekend’s race.

“What is the intent of [UROC]? This is a rhetorical question. The race is about the competitive nature of the sport. Period. Even more interesting: Geoff Roes is at the front of this campaign to create a race where elites are treated like elites and the race is centered around highlighting that competition at the front. Again, this sport is suggestive of two worlds: the down-to-earth just run and have fun and finish vibe, and the world-class Micahael Wardian v Geoff Roes vibe, or Jornet v Wolfe and Clark or Heras v Roes and Mackey vibe. It’s tough to deny this split personality in the sport.”

That is what is happening in San Francisco this weekend.

All year, every weekend, runners gather on myriad national and international trail to “race.” Most of these are friendly battles between friends and family members, or new and familiar faces just enjoying the outdoors. These events might more represent the local endurance challenge. The “race” might be inaugural or it might be 35 years-old. The spirit is better reminiscent of fellowship, of sister or brotherhood, of people of all walks of life sharing in the stewardship of our natural world and getting fit and having fun at the same time. “Winning” might not even be part of the local lexicon. A podium might be replaced by pints of craft beer; but the sweat and the beautiful feelings associated with giving it a go out there circulate like the good vibes of a people engaged in what I would call a new civic duty.

TNFSF50 certainly includes this same kind of friendly praxis, even amongst the elites (perhaps even more amongst the elites). Be that as it may, there’s a race going-on, one of world-class proportions, one so big it’s more germane to the competitions of ancient Greece, where epic battle preceded a celebratory feast.

This race has been well hashed and rehashed by the blogs. The folks at iRunFar produced a fine preview of the men’s and women’s race. The aforementioned renderings of Mr. Roes have people spinning on their bar stools. Adam Chase has been keeping us abreast of the Salomon scene, as well. Here we are, still in the tryptophanic aftermath of Thanksgiving, and, indeed, we have a lot to be thankful for. I am certainly thankful for the access we are all granted to so many stellar peeks at this sport’s elites (the runners, the managers, race directors, publishers, etc.). I am thankful for the blog as it seems to give us all an opportunity to articulate whatever odd ball single-track idea we’ve developed and hope to share with a few passersby.

The idea that this sport is indeed schizophrenic or of two minds (whatever you want to call it), is supported by this online presence. As AJW essays on the future of the sport with certain fundamental changes happening all around, in terms of corporate influence, etc., we have to be reminded that the sport is largely defined by the casual, neighborly discourse that exists on these webs, just like it is during those trail runs, at and after those hundreds of weekend races. Significant commercialization of all of that would be a tall order. Is some of this white-collar share-holder cologne distorting or undermining some of the trail discussions or the competitions? Perhaps. But the positive effects of these dollars are on display, as well: This weekend and any such opportunity we have to watch these elites battle it out on world-class trails has to be welcomed by even the casual fan. Viewing the MUT world in this open-minded way, I think, is imperative at this point. The sport is clearly changing, and Saturday’s race is another such example. But the sport is also staying the same, and every weekend of the year marks occasion for this argument in the abundance of ultra and mountain “races” in which we all get to compete.

Both worlds will be on parade tomorrow in San Francisco.

And this is how I see the men’s race going down: Above, I referenced a passage from an article I wrote about UROC. I make note of the role Geoff Roes played in that race’s organization (of course he played a pretty big role in the actual race, as well). I referenced that passage to evidence the parallels we see in UROC and TNFEC50. These two are especially similar in that they are geared toward attracting a large field by offering substantial prize money. Looks like we’re building a parallelogram: I see Geoff Roes winning this race, convincingly. He’s definitely had some close-calls at this race in the past. Sure there’s his back-to-back runners-up finishes in ’09 and ’10, but don’t forget about 2008. He was right there when the shit went down between Steidl and Carpenter. This is a must read from the event website archives:

At the bottom on the bone-crunching descent, at the seaside hamlet of Stinson Beach, Carpenter met his crew – his wife, Yvonne, and his six-year-old daughter, Kyla. “Last year, I’d come into a station and scrounge around a little bit for my drop bag,” he explains. “I’d lose a few seconds. And at this level you just can’t do that.” Still, Carpenter lost ground as the pack passed by like greyhounds, weaving through the quaint town’s streets before vanishing up the Matt Davis trail, heading 1,700 vertical feet uphill. This is when many runners felt Carpenter, who has built his legendary status running up the steep slopes of Pikes Peak near his home in Manitou Springs, Colorado, made his move and took control of the race. He quickly passed Steidl and soon came upon the others. “By the top I had wheeled everybody in again,” recalls Carpenter. “It was Geoff Roes and Shiloh (Mielke).” Carpenter, unsure of whether there were still some others ahead, turned to them and asked, “Gentlemen, who’s still ahead?” They replied, “Nobody.” And Carpenter pushed on. After a short out-and-back segment, during which runners could measure exactly where they stood (Carpenter, Skaggs, Steidl), they passed through Pantoll once again. Now Steidl had passed Skaggs, who had become somewhat dehydrated. At this point, Mile 30, Carpenter still held a two-minute gap on Steidl, but, entering the stretch run, and heading down into another deep valley, spectators wondered if Steidl could catch Carpenter. And, lurking only a few seconds behind, was Geoff Roes, hanging tough. They all dove 1,000 feet down the famed Bootjack trail, devouring technical trail like Tour de France riders descending the Alpe d’Huez.

Roes finished 5th that year in 7:12:35. That was the awakening of Geoff Roes if you ask me. His entire 2009 and 2010 were legendary. We all know that’s quite a run, which had already begun in Marin County in 2008 under the no less watchful eye than that of the great Matt Carpenter.

Team Salomon, which includes Rickey Gates, Christophe Malarde, Adam Campell, and the recently signed Matt Flaherty and Jorge Maravilla, look very well represented; and who knows if they might implement some team tactics to break-up what will be a very loaded peloton. Can Gates hang with Roes for 50 fast undulating miles? Can the Frenchman, or the talented Canadian? I don’t see it. Some see Flaherty as a real dark horse. If he were to win, that would be a huge upset. Some are picking Maravilla top 5.

The other runners I like this weekend are Dakota Jones, Michael Wardian, Jason Wolfe, Jason Schlarb, Leigh Schmitt and my big dark horse is Galen Burrell. Jones might have won last year and his 2011 campaign has been really solid. Knowing he can compete really well in such diverse conditions as Hardrock (2nd) and Sierre-Zinal (17th), races really well at this ultra distance, and just nabbed the R2R2R FKT, I really like this guy’s chances. Wardian is there because he’s Wardian. He absolutely could win this thing, but I don’t see him climbing with Geoff. Wolfe is a bit of an unknown to me, but I sense he has gobs of speed and climbing enduranc; he has some nice road and off-road results to his name, namely the Trans Rockies win. He could be tough. Schlarb was top five here last year and is apparently very fit and ready to rumble. Schmidt seems like a lock for this distance; he should have a solid showing. And, of course, the ultra inexperienced Burrell who can climb with the best of them and just spanked Leor Pantilat at a trail marathon in the bay area (and Pantilat doesn’t lose). I’m getting really good odds on my Burrell pick. There’s my lucky 7.

For the women, I’m really going-out on a limb here and picking Frost, Greenwood and Hawker to claim the podium. Based on recent racing though, how do you not pencil in these ladies.

A quick shout-out to Max King, wishing him luck this weekend going for another win at the Xterra Worlds in Hawaii; and a helpful reminder that TNF SF 50 would also offer some lovely trail travel this time of year, say, in 2012.

But it’s Roes with the huge win this year. He has unfinished business in Marin, and that is, I’m afraid, the way it is.


This is also over at Trail Commentary.