Sunday, December 31, 2006

Races in 2007

I wrote up my 2007 race plan long ago, but finally posted it here when I started my blog weeks ago. Now it's time to put down some notes about them.


I'll start my training in mid-Jan when my families are back (I'm homeschooling my son now). I'd like to do some 30-40 mile training run on Onlone Wilderness Trail, while my friends Catra Corbett and Jerry working on HURT.

02/03 Woodside 50K
02/17 Sequoia 50K

These two are my favorite runs. They are nice courses and convenient - only 30 min drive from my home. I can use them as a warmup for the season and also meet other ultrarunners. Perhaps I can see Scott Dunlap, Brian Wyatt (the hippie runner), Clement Choy, Yuki Negoro, Shige Takada, etc.

03/03 Palo Alto Vista Trail Marathon
03/** Trail work for Wasatch Front 100M and Angeles Crest 100M
03/31 Ruth Anderson 100K (80%) or Pony Express 100K (20%)

Not many runners in this trail marathon in the past, so I might be able to get some prize to show off when I come home :-)

Two similar 100K settings, Ruth Anderson 100K and Pony Express 100K, happen on the same date, so I have to choose one. I ran Ruth Anderson 100K in 2006, so I desire to run Pony Express 100K this time. Also it's the first race in the Fuelbelt series, which I won the age division in 2006. The problem is it is too far - 3 hour drive each way. Unless I can find a ride, I'll still do Ruth Anderson 100K. Hopefully I can finish 100K.

This is probably the only window that I don't have many races and am able to do final training and perform trail work requirements for Wasatch Front 100M or Angeles Crest 100M.

04/14 American River 50M
04/28 Diablo 50M Endurance Run

Every year, April and May is my (sub-100 mile) ultra season. The races normally come week after week. I still do American River 50M and would like to make it under 8 hours this time. The other is Diablo 50M Endurance Run. I signed up in 2006, but could not do it because of the date conflict. This is a tough one (27,000 ft altitude changes), but can be a test or taste for coming even tougher challenges. I found people usually have 30 min faster than Miwok 100K, so hopefully I can run 10 hr 30 min in Diablo 50M Endurance Run when I plan to run Miwok 100K under 11 hours.

05/05 Miwok 100K
05/12 Quicksilver 50M
05/19 Silver State 50M
05/20 Ohlone Wilderness 50K

Miwok 100K, Quicksilver 50M, and Ohlone Wilderness 50K are the races I don't want to miss. Everyone is a unique experience. I also consider Silver State 50M in Reno. Despite its 20,000ft changes in altitude, it looks like a wonderful course. However, it falls on the day before Ohlone Wilderness 50K. I'm not sure if I can make up the travel or whether my body can handle these back to back tough ultra's, but I still keep a little faith. With the thought of our Ohlone ultrarunners, Catra Corbett, Joe, and Mylinh running 100 miles on the Onlone course at the same time, I should have less whine.

06/02 Old Dominion 100M
06/21 Oracle 5K
06/23 Western States 100M (safety, crew, pacing)

The 100 miler season now begins. I'd like to try Old Dominion 100M, although I don't run any ultrra slam series like Last Great Races this year due to the WS100 lottery. It's my favorite point-to-point course and on the scenic Massanutten Mountains or Shenandoah National Park. I have got everything ready, but need to have my wife's approval.

Oracle 5K is my traditional fun run with Thuesday friends in Oracle Corporation. I've got to do it and, yeah, collect the T-shirt!

Although I don't get in Western States 100M, I want to participate the great event as much as possible. I signed up the safety patrol for the first 29 mile section - Squawl Valley to Robinson Flat. I should be able to easily finish the job by 2pm, take a rest, and pace/crew my friend Yuki Negoro later (starting 8pm from Michigan Bluff or Foresthill School), who is so lucky to get in two years in row.

07/** Run JMT or Hike East Sierra
07/21 Tahoe Rim Trail 100M

I'd like to do Tahoe Rim Trail 100M again after finishing it in 2006 as my first 100 miler. This year, many will have their frist 100 miler there - Scott Dunlap, Peter Lubber (winning Lake Tahoe Super Triple in 2006), Alan Geraldi (an Ironman and fast runner), Anil Rao, etc. A group of Ultraholics, including myself, will have a party - from 50K to 100M!

I had a little altitude issue in 2006, so I plan to do some altitude acclimatization over Sierra Nevada - Run JMT or Hike East Sierra before Tahoe Rim Trail 100M.

08/04 Burning River 100M
08/11 Cool Night 12hr
08/18 Leadville 100M
08/26 Redwood 50K

I finally signed up Burning River 100M yesterday. It's an inaugural 100 miler. Again, the course is my favorite point-to-point and looks like another pretty one, so I don't want to miss it. However, I might have to cancel my plan to visit families in Taiwan. Perhaps I can schedule the trip at the end of the year when there are no races around.

Cool Night 12hr looks like fun and will be my first try on the timed run - shouldn't be boring on the 9 mile trail loop. Redwood 50K is a nice run near my home (30 min drive), so I'd like to do it whenever I can.

Since my friend Alan Geraldi mentioned Leadville 100M as a substitute for Western States 100M, I would like to try this - running at high altitude. It can be a training or acclimatization for Wasatch Front 100M three weeks later. However, I need to settle the travel cost because it seems more expensive going Leadville.

09/08 Wasatch Front 100M (85%) or Stevens Creek 50K (15%)
09/15 Angeles Crest 100M
09/22 Rio Del Lago 100M

Wasatch Front 100M is my target run in 2007. It is very challenging (53,000 ft altitude changes) with stunning beautiful course. If I win the lottery, I hate but have to skip Stevens Creek 50K for this year, where I enjoyed a few creek crossings. Hope they are not on the same weekend next time. Rio Del Lago 100M is a nice one, but don't treat it as an easy one. After I finished it in 2006, I had a conclusion - There is no easy 100 miler! It's the closest 100 miler to my area (2.5 hour drive) so I'd like to do it again.

In between, I schedule Angeles Crest 100M. I'm not like Catra Corbett who runs 100 milers week by week, but I am purely attracted by the beautiful and challenging course. Unfortunately, it may approach my wife's limit on the number of days away from home, so I probably cancel it. Since I'll be in Western States 100M in 2008 (two time loser), I'll run Angeles Crest 100M regardlessly as part of a couple of ultra slam series.

10/06 Dick Collin's Firetrail 50M
10/13 Lake of the Sky 33M
10/14 Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon
10/20 Skyline Ridge 50K
10/28 Silicon Valley Marathon

Dick Collin's Firetrail 50M has wonderful course of varieties and is also nearby, so I just do it every time. I'd like to try a few marathons every year, so Silicon Valley Marathon is my top choice.

Skyline Ridge 50K is a good one but I'll try to overcome the climb on the winding road to the race start. I may want to try Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon and join the festival. It got a lot of good comments this year.

Lake of the Sky 33M runs on the Tahoe Rim Trail - from Tahoe City to Brockway Summit and back. This part of the trail is pretty. This race is also in Fuelbelt series. If I feel good in winning the series, I'll consider doing it.

11/03 San Francisco One Day
11/10 Helen Klein 50M
11/24 Quad Dipsea

Not sure if I dare to try the 24 hr in San Francisco One Day, but the 12hr should be doable. A week after, I'd like to run Helen Klein 50M to see if I can improve on the "flat" bike path or have a win in Fuelbelt series. Perhaps my family can come with me like 2006 and we'll be in the same mood of racing :-) I'd like to do Quad Dipsea only when I can drive that far to Marin County, but the race should be fun.

12/01 Woodside 50K
12/02 California International Marathon

No doubt I'll do Woodside 50K. I'll see if I can take California International Marathon as well. The course is fast and the race is famous, but I have not had chance to run it because of its long drive. Hope I can find a solution this time. If I'm in good speeding shape, maybe I can get qualified for Boston Marathon in 2008.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Best Towns in 2006 (from Outside Magazine)

Outside Magazine has the following best towns in 2006,

  1. Bellingham, Washington - paddling
  2. New Paltz, New York - rock climbing
  3. Boulder, Colorado - all-around
  4. Sebastopol, California - green/eco/health
  5. Madison, Wisconsin - road biking
  6. Bend, Oregon - trail running
  7. Asheville, North Carolina - white water
  8. Durango, Colorado - mountain biking
  9. Truckee, California - skiiing/snowboarding
  10. Haleiwa, Hawaii - surfing
What's the living like in the ultimate town Boulder, CO? Check The Gore-Tex Vortex

No wonder there are many great ultrarunners from Bend, OR - Kami Semick, Rod Bien, Tracy Bahr, Jeffrey Browning, etc. So are Seattle and Oakland, of course.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Thrifty Travel Plan for Wasatch Front 100 Miles

Wasatch Front 100 Miles is a point-to-point challenging but pretty course. It is in quite a few great ultra slam series - Grand Slam, Last Great Races, Western Slam, Rocky Mountain Slam, and All American Mountain Slam. I was attracted by its claim "The Toughest Footrace You'll Ever Love". I eagerly put it in my 2007 race plan at my second year of running 100 milers. Perhaps to save the efforts, this race has only one week opened for registration - from 1/2/07 to 1/8/07. I need to make decision by the end of the year, so I have been thinking about the logistics these days.

I just found it as easy as my local California 100 milers - WSER, TRT, AC, and San Diego. But don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about the course. According to its course profile, Wasatch, with over 53,000ft in altitude changes, is definitely more difficult. I think it may be second only to Hardrock.

What I mean is about travelling - how to get there and come back after finishing it. I remember clearly in AC100 FAQ about shuttle service from the finish in Pasadena back to the start in Wrightwood, "The most difficult part of the race (meaning AC100) is getting to the Finish area, not getting back to work on Monday". To me, nevertheless, it is getting to the race start from my home that I need to plan in great details. I have concerns about driving, travelling expenses, and environment impacts, i.e. air pollution.

I went through the same process for TRT this year and I successfully rode Amtrak without driving (thanks for the ride back from Ohlone Ultrarunners). It was a nice and fun trip that I enjoyed a lot. Besides, I was glad to spare the air and the wear on my car in such 500 mile trip - no way can we produce any bit of fossile fuel for it. In case I can not find a ride for the TRT in 2007, I'll be pleased to do the same again!

The Amtrak service to Salt Lake City, where Wasatch run is closeby, is on the scenic California Zephyr. The train goes 2,438 miles between Emeryville in California Pacific Coast and Chicago in Midwest, including touring the grand Rockies mountains. I love taking trains and California Zephyr is actually one of my dream rides. However, it takes almost 18 hours each way on this trip (check schedule). With the race on Saturday and the mandatory briefing on Friday, I obviously have to take more days off - Thursday and Monday. I guess this choice is probably only perfect for sightseeing, despite the fact that it helps environment and cheaper - only $67 each way.

Therefore, I checked the flights at Orbitz and found taking flights is so fast, convenient, and not much more expensive. I can leave on Friday morning for the flight and complete the pre-race meeting on the same day. Salt Lake City has a very wonderful public transportation system (Utah Transit Authority
), so I can also save the rental car expense. I'll be able to move around by bus and even get to the race start at East Mountain Wilderness Park near Kaysville (via bus 70 - schedule and map, or express 73 - schedule and map), where I plan to camp for Friday night before the Saturday race. When I finish the race on Sunday, I should be able to hitch a ride to downtown/airport, where there is bus. I'll be able to catch the flight home and stay with my family in a few hours and ready for work on Monday. It totally takes only three days, which is the same as how I went for TRT this year. So I conclude that going for Wasatch is about the same effort as those California 100 milers.

The following is my itinerary,

9/7/07AC Transit 232Home (8am)Union City (8:20am)$1.75
BARTUnion City (8:30am)Coliseum (8:30am)$2.95
AirBARTColiseum (8:30am)Oakland Airport (9am)Free
Delta 110

Oakland (OAK) at 9:41am

Salt Lake City (SLC) at 12:24pm$104
Bus 50 (schedule, map)Salt Lake City (SLC) (1pm)320 SOUTH WEST TEMPLE ST (1:30pm)$1.5
Bus 7 (schedule, map), or Bus 11 (schedule, map)100 SOUTH & STATE (1:40pm)2100 SOUTH & 1300 EAST (2:10pm)$1.5
Pre-Race MeetingSuger House Park at 4pm

Bus 70 (schedule, map), or Express 73 (schedule, map)Suger House ParkEast Mountain Wilderness Park$1.5
9/8/07Run 100 milesEast Mountain Wilderness Park at 4am
Wasatch Mountain State Park by 4pm
Hitchhike/BusWasatch Mountain State ParkSalt Lake City (SLC)
Delta 4235Salt Lake City (SLC) at 9pmOakland (OAK) at 9:58pm$104
AirBARTOakland Airport (10:30pm)Coliseum (10:40pm)Free
BARTColiseum (10:40pm)Union City (11pm)$2.95
AC Transit 332Union CityHome (by 12am)($1.75)

The total travelling cost can be found about $220. It's only $74 more than by train, while I save a lot of hassles and precious time. I think Wasatch is not too far as an out-of-state 100 miler and I am happy to do it every year!

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Challenges in 2007 and Western States Lottery

I wrote up the challenges in 2007 as shown on the calendar at the lefthand side of this blog. I'd like to do more 100 milers (up to TEN 100 milers), including the Western States 100 Miles. I have done my first two 100 milers this year - TRT and RDL. My times are not fantasic, but I have been learning from those mistakes. I believe I can run slowly and still finish a 100 miler with strong will. Then I had an idea for 2007 - do Grand Slam, Last Great Races, Western Slam, and California Slam in one year. These slam series all center at WS100.

There are over 1000 WS100 applicants this year fighting for about 400 slots. The WS100 lottery results is now final (on 12/2/06). Not to be optimistic about these numbers, it turned out to reflect its even lower chance to get in. Excluding the guaranteed entries from top ten male/female finishers, foreign entries, two-time losers, etc, the chance was generally predicted to be about 25%. Lower chance to get in these years also contributes more two-time losers, which further lowers the chance. I believe it's getting more difficult to be picked up in coming years!

In our case, 20% is not boasting because only Yuki Negoro out of five of us (Thuesday ultrarunners) is in. Congratulations to Yuki, a two time winner! I paced Yuki this year. I was glad to be part of his crew team. It was a wonderful trip. So I'll be happy to become his pacer again if he needs me next year - I need to learn some Japanese conversations/jokes for the night time :-)

Now I become a two-time loser. The "good" news is I'll have a guaranteed entry for 2008 - hope they won't change this policy. I'll pass out if they decide to use three time loser to promote the chance. Next year, I won't need to rub rabbit feet, pick 4 leaf clovers, wish upon the first star every night, and neither think about the tricky way of using my foreign address in Taiwan to enter as a foriener entrant. However, I actually desire to run for Taiwan and see my National flag at the start/finish area.

Perhaps running ultra's has helped me set up positive thinking. I thought about removing most of the 100 milers from my race calendar since I won't be able to do any "slams" at all without WS100. At the end, I still keep them. Doing a "slam" is not really important, what matters is to enjoy these beautiful 100 milers and learn the gists of ultrarunning. I may still run some of them and enjoy, while staying with my family more. I hope one more year of ultrarunning in 2007 will help me in better shape - better chance to complete the challenges in 2008!

Before the lottery date last week, my "lucky" friend thought about a backup plan - running Hardrock 100 miles instead. Thank you, it turns out to be mine. I start to consider this option even though HR100 is the toughest 100 miler in USA!