Thursday, September 29, 2016

Headlands 100 Miler 09-10-2016

Before I start off talking about this run, I want to thank my parents for all their love and support, especially over the last 2 years.  When life has gotten crazy and has started spinning out of control, they have always been there for me.  Since I started running these 100 mile events back in 2010, they have seen me run 18 out of the 19 events that I have finished... and countless 50 mile and 50k races.

I need to thank Chris Cupp for coming out to the race for the last 5 years and helping crew and pace me.  He has gotten my through some pretty difficult mental and physical times during this event.

My girlfriend Samantha... You came into my life when I was least expecting to find someone.  You've shown me that you love me when I'm at my lowest, and that you will help me reach my highest.

I also need to thank Saucony for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their ambassador program and for supplying me with shoes and apparel for these events... and a special thanks to Sunny Arada for doing speed workouts on the track with me in the middle of summer here in Fresno.

...And now, I'll start the story of my 7th running or the Headlands 100.

On September 10th I set out on my 7th consecutive running of the Headlands 100 mile ultra marathon.  Back in 2010 this was the very first 100 mile event that I ever ran, and I've been lucky enough to run it every year since that.  It is the one event that I make sure I'm able to run every year.  It is the course and place that I feel most at home when running.  I love every step of this race.

Mile 0-25

At the start of the race I had a goal time in my head.  I've wanted to finish the race in 26 hours for the last few years, and I really wanted to hit that goal this year.  The race started out on a good note.  I saw a few friends at the start line, the weather was nice and cool, and I was feeling mentally and physically good.  I felt like everything was going well and in my head I wanted to finish the first 25 miles loop in 5 hours and 30 mins.  To my surprise I was able to finish the first loop a little ahead of the time I was expecting.  5 hours and 15 mins into the event I was leaving the aid station at mile 25 and starting on my 2nd of 4 loops.

Mile 25-50

It was good starting the 2nd loop off on a positive note.  I was 15 mins ahead of my planned time and I was feeling pretty strong.  I wasn't just feeling physically strong, but I was feeling mentally strong.  I was really focused of the run, the course, and I was feeling very happy out to be out there running.

During this part of the run I still had the 26 hour finishing goal in my head, but I wasn't trying to let it stay in my head too much.  I wanted to hit this goal, but I wasn't 100% positive if it was attainable at this time.  While I was very well under the average pace I needed to be at to finish under 26 hours, it was still early in the race and I knew that as the mileage increased that my pace would slow down.  I knew that when I finished the 2nd loop it would still need to be daylight, and it would still have to be daylight when I hit the mile 54 aid station if I was going to realistically hit a sub 26 hour finish.

Mile 50-75

I left mile 50 with my headlamp, but knew that if I wanted to hit sub 26 hours I needed to be pretty far before I really needed to even use my headlamp.  Every year that I've ran this event I've never made it to mile 54 in the daylight, it's always been dark.  My goal from mile 50-54 was to run as fast as I could and try to hit the Tennessee Valley aid station at mile 54 while it was still daylight.  I have to honestly say that I was surprised when I sowed up at mile 54, and my headlamp was still off.   I had made it to Tennessee Valley... and there was still some daylight out.  This really boosted my confidence, and I left mile 54 in a hurry so I could see how much further I could run in the daylight.

At mile 62 I was able to pick up my first pacer.  While I was running mile 54-62 it felt nice to know that I would soon be running with someone after a long day of running by myself.  I was also having a really good run so far, and I knew that having someone to run with would help me maintain the pace I was running.  It would also give me a nice mental break.  Sometimes it's nice to let someone else set the pace while you just run behind them.

Samantha picked up with me at mile 62 and she paced me up until mile 75.  It was nice having her out there with me.  Samantha did an awesome job pacing me.  She led the way for 13 miles and kept me at the pace I need to be at for a 26 hour finish.  We had a blast running under the Golden Gate Bridge in the middle of the night, and it was nice having her push me to meet my goal.

I figured that if I wanted to finish in under 26 hours I would have to reach mile 75 within 19 hours because I felt like I could run the last 25 miles in 7 hours and that would give me a 26 hour finish.

Mile 75-100

Samantha helped get me through the end of the second loop, and now it was time for Chris to take over for the last loop.  We left mile 75 well under my goal time.  I wanted to arrive at mile 75 within 19 hours of the event, and I was happy to have arrived early with Samantha's help.  Chris and I left mile 75 at 18 hours and 38 mins into the event.  This was awesome... but I was starting to doubt if I would maintain my pace.  I was still worried about falling off of pace and not hitting my goal.

Chris and I were somewhere around mile 80 when I started really thinking that a 26 hour wouldn't happen.  I started talking to him about secondary goals.  I told Chris, "I really don't think a sub 26 hour is going to happen, but as long as it's under 27 hours I'll be happy.  26 hours and 30 mins would be nice... but 26 hours and 45 mins would be fine..."  I had it in my head at this point that I wasn't going to make my goal of finishing in under 26 hours.

In order for me to finish under 26 hours I would have to hit the Muir Beach aid station (mile 92) before sunrise.  Typically I arrive back at Tennessee Valley (mile 88) just after sunrise.  Reaching mile 92 in the dark sounded totally unattainable.

After discussing options with Chris, I told him that I still wanted to run as hard as I could, and that I still felt like I should give a sub 26 hour finish a shot.

Chris and I pushed the pace from the Golden Gate aid station to the Tennessee Valley aid station.  When we showed up to Tennessee Valley I was feeling pretty pumped up.  We come into the aid station and it was still dark... I had beat the sunrise!!!  We left that aid station just as fast as we arrived.

I told Chris, "Let's see how for we can get before the sun comes up."  I was feeling strong and the uphill sections weren't slowing me down very much.  We were making good time and it was still dark, but the sun was slowly starting to come up.  As the sun was rising we could see the mile 92 aid station.

We made a quick stop at the Muir Beach aid station and took off as fast as we could.  I looked at my watch and was surprised to see that I was just a few mins off from where I needed to be for a sub 26 hour finish.  I knew that I had one really hard section from Muir Beach to Tennessee Valley that I usually self-destruct on, but I was making good time, and I was feeling pretty strong.

We came up to Pirates Cove and I looked at the uphill stairs I had ahead of me.  This is the part where I tend to fall apart... but not today.  I attacked the stairs and didn't let up on my pace.  Somewhere on this uphill I has lost Chris.  I got to the top of the uphill and took off.  At mile 94 I looked at my watch and realized that this was going to be the day that I finally broke 26 hours at this race.

I was now running as fast as I could.  I came up to the Tennessee Valley aid station (mile 96) and saw my parents and Samantha waiting for me.  I gave them my hydration pack and took off running with just one of my water bottles.  I didn't need the pack weighing me down for the last 4 miles.  I told them that Chris was right behind me and that I would see them at the finish line.

24 hour and 52 mins into the run I was leaving Tennessee Valley... and I was heading to the finish line.  This was very emotionally overwhelming for me.  I was finally going to meet a goal that I've been wanting for so long.  There were moments during the run where I didn't think it was going to happen, but I kept pushing through anyway.

When I arrived at the finish line I couldn't believe it... 25 hours 44 mins and 32 sec.  I had not only made it well under my goal time, but I had crushed my previous best time on this course (27 hours 28 mins 58 sec) by about by 1 hour and 45 mins.

Until next time...


Friday, August 12, 2016

Yosmite 2016

A few weeks ago Samantha and I went with a few friends up to Yosemite to hike Half Dome.  We set out on a late Saturday night so that we could see the sun rise from the top of Half Dome.

During our adventure on the trail we were getting more and more excited about getting to the top of Half dome.  With about 3 miles left we accidentally took a right turn on the trail instead of a left while we were hiking in the dark.  We started second guessing our direction, but kept hiking.  After awhile it was very apparent that we were traveling on the wrong trail.  We could see Half Dome, but it wasn't in the direction we were heading.

We decided at that point to just keep seeing where the trail went.  We got to the top of the trail we were hiking, and I could see that Samantha was pretty upset that we were in the wrong spot.  At this point our group had split up... Samantha, her coworker Dave, and I were hiking together with Dave hiking a little bit behind us.  Samantha and I started to wonder once we got to the top of the trail, at what time Dave probably figured out we were on the wrong tail, and headed back to find it.

Samantha and I sat down to take a break and get something to eat.  We were in the wrong spot, but we saw an amazing sunrise together.  I told her, "I don't care that we got a little lost, I'm just glad that I'm out here getting lost with you."

As we sat there looking at where we were, looking at Half Dome and the sunrise, we heard someone coming up the trail... it was Dave.

When we saw Dave I started laughing.  Samantha and I pointed at Half Dome and yelled we're in the wrong spot.  Dave was pretty confused.  He got closer and I told him, "We should have taken a left down there, 2.5 miles ago."

At this point I think Samantha and I were fine with not getting to the top of Half Dome and just hiking back to the car, but Dave really wanted to get to the top of Half Dome.  So, we decided to head back down and go up to Half Dome.

I remember when we finally made it to the base of Half Dome.  We were making our way up the cables and the incline was getting a little difficult for me to handle.  I have a slight fear of heights, and figured that this wasn't going to be easy for me.  At one point my feet started slipping on our way up the cables and I was ready to turn around.  We were about 3/4 of the way from the top.  I called out to Samantha, "I think I'm going to head down.  I think I'm done."  Samantha looked at me and basically told me, "I'll see you at the top.  You better keep going!!"

At this point I felt like Samantha's faith in my ability was overpowering my fear of what was going on at that moment.  I realized at that moment, Samantha wasn't the type of person that would let me fail.  When we made it up to the top of Half Dome I was happy to finally be done with this part of the hike.

We went off trail for a little bit, we were super tired, but we eventually got to the top of Half Dome.  It wasn't an easy journey, but it was our journey.

Until next time...


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dirty Dozen 07-09-2016

On July 9th, 2016 I ran the Dirty Dozen 12 Hour Race at Point Pinole Regional Park.  This was my 3rd time in 4 years running this race.

The race is a loop course.  For the first 11 hours you run around a 3.37 miles loop, and for the last  hour they open up a .76 mile loop to insure that all your mileage is counted for the entire 24 hours.

This year my parents went to the race with me (like always) and so did my girlfriend Samantha.  While I was running Samantha hung out and gave me whatever supplies I needed... water, sports drinks, food, etc.  Not only did Samantha help me out during my race, but she was also there to run as well.  Samantha ran 2 separate 10k races while I was running my 12 hour race.  One of her races started at 10:30am and the other started at 4:00pm.

My goal was to run over 65 miles at this event, but I fell short of my goal and only finished 58.49 miles at the end of the day.

I did a lot of things wrong at this event.

The first thing I did wrong was wearing a new race vest and not testing it our prior to the event.  I played with the straps a little, and I thought I had it fitting pretty well... but I never took it on a run before the race.  I ended up ditching my Nathan race vest about 3 hours into the event and just using a handheld bottle instead.  I had plenty of opportunity to run with the vest before the race, but for some reason I didn't.  Over the last couple weeks I have taken the vest out on a couple runs and made the proper adjustments to the straps, and now I'm confident that it will fit really nice at The Headlands 100 this September.

My other mistake was something that I easily overlooked.  I never do my really hard training runs with music, and I've ran my best times without music.  I like being in the moment and paying attention to my run and not having outside distractions when I'm trying to hit a PR, or if I'm just trying to put out a difficult effort during a run.  For some reason I decided that I would listen to music during this race and I honestly feel like this was the worst decision I made the entire race.  After realizing how far behind I was on hitting my goal about 8 hours into the event I decided to run without music, and that seemed to help me gain a little bit on the ground I had lost during the race.

I've found that I really need to focus on running if I want to run well.  Music at times is nice to have, but most of the time it becomes a distraction for me.  I tend to perform better the more I can become focused on my stride, my breathing, and my run in general.  Once I ditched my mp3 player I defiantly felt like I started running better... I just wish I did it sooner.

I have the Headlands 100 coming up on September 10-11, and I feel like I will be ready to run a good race that weekend.  I am a little concerned about the fact that I have never gone this long in between 100 mile events.  My last 100 miler was the Headlands 100 last year (2015).  Ever since my first 100 miler back in 2010, I've never had more than 6 months between 100 mile events.

My hard training for the Headlands 100 will actually start today, right after I take my kids to the all you can eat pizza buffet at Round Table Pizza.  I'm looking forward to the next 6 weeks of training and pushing myself to get ready for the next event.

until next time...


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

4th of July Race (2016)

On July 4th I ran a 4 mile race that was put on by my local running club Sierra Challenge Express.  It's a fun 4 mile race that they hold every year at Woodward Park.

Last year I finished in 26min 30 secs, and I really wanted to run faster this year.  In preparation for the Dirty Dozen 12 hour race that I had coming up a few days after this race (The Dirty Dozen was on July 9th), I started hitting the track with my friend Sunny a few times a week.  The two of us would run 400 meter repeats in the nice 100 degree (usually warmer) Fresno heat.  I was starting to slowly get comfortable running fast again.

On the day of the race my girlfriend Samantha and I got to the park with enough time to relax a little bit before the race and warm up.  I was excited to see how fast I could run at the race.  The course is relatively flat, with just a couple hills in it.  I hit the first mile way too fast (6min 06secs).  I started to ease back on my pace and relax.  I knew a couple miles into the race that there would be a hill coming up, and I didn't want to be burned out by the time I got to it, so I slowed down just enough so I would have some energy for the last part of the race.

Samantha & I after the race.
I ended up being smart during this race. I did not get caught up with beating the person in front of me, but I was more focused on beating last years time instead.  I stuck to my game plan and didn't let my ego get in the way.  Doing this allowed to run more relaxed and I finished the race this year in 25 min 24 secs.  This was 1 min and 6 secs faster that last year.

I felt pretty good at the end of the race.  All the speed work on the track and being patient during the race had paid off.  I finished 12th overall and 3rd in my age group (30-39 years old).

I took a lot of time off from running the shorter local races when I started running ultras, but right now I'm having fun jumping back into the local races and trying to run fast again.  There's a 5k coming up soon that I might jump into so I can try to beat my old 5k personal best time.  I feel like my speed is slowly coming back, and I want to see what I can do.

Until next time...


Hanging out with Sunny & Jason after the race
Sunny designs running shirts and jewelry.  You can check out her stuff at 

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Spartan Super 06-04-2016

On June 4th I did my first Spartan Race.  It was very different from any other race that I have done in the past.  We had walls to climb over and under, buckets of rocks to carry up and down hill, barbwire to crawl under... and a bunch of other obstacles that we encountered along the way.

My girlfriend, Samantha, is really into doing these races.  While this was my first one of these events, this was her 17th event.  She really enjoys doing them, so I wanted to share the experience of doing one of these events with her.  I decided to join her at the Monterey Spartan Super.

I really enjoy activities that test my strength and endurance.  I run trail races pretty regularly, I do jiu jitsu a couple times a week, and I workout about 4 days a week.  I enjoy seeing what my physical and mental limits are, and I enjoy trying to reach and push those limits.

This event was 8.75ish miles, and it was pretty fun.  Samantha and I did the entire race together.  We had a lot of fun on the course.  There was a good mix of trail running and obstacles at the race.  The part I enjoyed the most was just having Samantha there along the course with me the entire day.  This type of race was a nice change from running ultras, and having Samantha there to joke around with the entire day was awesome.  It was nice to experience something with her that she loves so much.

I'm planning on running a few more of these races this year with Samantha, but that doesn't mean I'm changing my race schedule for this year.  I still have The Dirty Dozen 12 hour event in July, Headlands 100 in September, The Ronald McDonald House 135 miler in October (Kyle and I are going to make it an easy run and do it as a 2 person relay team), The Joshua Tree 100 miler in October, Two Cities marathon in November, and the San Joaquin River Trail 100k in November.

I will still have a busy ultra running schedule for 2016, and I'm still planning out the route for my Fresno to Washington D.C. run that I'm planning on doing to benefit Free Tibet next year.

I'm pretty focused right now on my training for the Dirty Dozen event, and I hope to put in some pretty high mileage during this 12 hour event.

I also plan on running a few more Spartan Races with Samantha as well in September and November... and maybe December.  It's defiantly going to be a busy year of running.

Until next time...


Monday, May 23, 2016

Training For My Next Race

After a very lack luster run at this years American River 50 miler, I did a lot of thinking about what went wrong during the race.

The first thing is my weight.  I like to eat, and I like to eat a lot.  I went into AR50 a little heavier than I wanted to.  I wanted to go in at about 175 pounds (the weight I feel most comfortable running) but I was closer to 185 pounds.  The extra 10 pounds makes a difference, especially over a 50 mile race.

The second thing that I feel like my training was lacking was good old fashioned speed work.  At the end of AR50 I felt like my legs had no turnover in them.  I feel like my lack of speed work was to blame.

After AR50 I decided to take the rest of April off from hard training.  I ran, but it was just for run.  I ran with a few friends that I had not ran with for awhile, and we just did easy miles with each other.

Now that it's May I've started training for my next race, The Dirty Dozen 12 hour race.  The event is in July and I'm looking forward to putting in a lot of miles at this race.  I've started training, but I'm easing into the hard workouts.  I'm doing weights and H.I.I.T. workouts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning.  I'm also starting to incorporate speed work into my runs once again, along with some long runs.

I'm trying to make my workouts as uncomfortable as I can.  I know that the weeks that led up to AR50 I held back a lot on my training.  I'm going to keep my training for this event as demanding as I can make it.  I need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable again.  I need to bring back the training I was doing when I ran the Woodside 50k back in December of last year.

I feel like I'm not as distracted as I use to be.  The last year had a bunch of ups and downs, and I had no idea last year that my life would be like it is right now.

A couple months ago I went on a trail run with a local runner who wanted to check out the San Joaquin River Trail.  I do a lot of my training on this trail, and when Samantha showed an interest in checking out the trail I offered to take her out on a run.  I'm very introverted and find it hard to talk to people most of the time in "normal" settings.  Sometimes I come across as an ass hole, or a snob... but it's just that I feel very awkward and out of place in most social situations. Luckily for me I am able to hold a conversation with people while I'm running.

After getting to know Samantha a little better on the trail, we started hanging out more... and more... and more.  She's very active, trains a lot, is very focused on her goals, and can be very competitive..  After a few weeks a relationship started to develop and we started becoming more than friends.

I'm excited about this years Dirty Dozen race.  While I'm out running for 12 hours, Samantha will run the 10k race that is in the morning, and then she will run the 10k race that will take place in the afternoon.

We are both training hard right now.  Samantha is focusing on a triathlon she's doing this coming June, along with her upcoming solo hike on the John Muir Trail this August.  I'm very focused on the Dirty Dozen and the Headlands 100.

Life is crazy.  At one moment you can feel like you're at the bottom, then at the next moment all of that can be turned around.  You never know what life is going to give you.

until next time...


Thursday, May 12, 2016

American River Run 04-02-2016

So... this blog post is coming very late, but oh well... let's jump right into it!!

On April 2nd of 2016 I ran my 7th consecutive American River 50 miler.  Back in 2010 this was the very first 50 miler that I had ever ran, and I've done this race every year ever since.  This race takes place close to my birthday, so I like to do this event every year.

I had big goals this year.  I really wanted to finish in 8 hours and 30 mins this year.  This would cut about 20 mins of my best time at this event.

I felt that my training was pretty good prior to the event.  I was getting in some good long runs, I was cross training regularly, and my rib was finally healed.  My weight wasn't quite where I wanted it, but it was close enough.  I wasn't back down to 175 pounds (the weight that I like to run ultras) but it wasn't so much over 175 pounds that it made a huge impact on my run.

I was feeling pretty good for the first 25 miles of the run.  My goal was to get the first half of the race done in about 4 hours.  When I hit the mile 25 mark I was only 10 mins behind the my goal of 4 hours.  It didn't feel like that big of a deal at the time, because I really enjoy the second half of this race and was wanting to try to push the pace the best that I could.

After mile 30, the course started getting to me.  My pace kept falling back more and more.  I expected this to happen, especially in the Meat Grinder section of the course.  When I hit mile 37 I was about 6 hours and 30 mins into the race.  At this time I figured that I would have to run a 2 hour trail half marathon, and on fresh legs that's a goal I would totally try to nail... but I was 37 miles into a run and had been running for 6 hours and 30 mins into my run already.

At this point I knew I was going to fall short (very short) of my goal.  The last thing I wanted to do was just lay back and feel defeated about not hitting a time goal, so I did my best to keep running as best as I could.  Unfortunately as I ran past mile 40 I started feeling more and more exhausted.  My legs were feeling super heavy and the desire to run really wasn't there.

During the later miles I felt like my legs just weren't there.  They felt like heavy bricks.  When I would try to run they just wouldn't move.  Looking back on my training, I realized that I didn't do a whole lot of speed work during the last 6 weeks leading up to the race.  I think this was a huge mistake on my part.  My lack of speed work left my legs had no turnover during the important later miles of the race.

At the end of the day I finished the 50 miles in 10 hours and 35 mins.  This was a good 2 hours longer that I wanted to take.

The weeks after AR50 I was able to reflect a lot about what went right and what went wrong at the event.  I took almost all of April off from any hard running and made it a point to just run with some friends and have fun on the trails.

I have my next race this coming July and just started for it earlier this week.  I'm excited to make some adjustments to my training and have a solid run at this July's Dirty Dozen 12 hour race.

Until next time...