Sunday, January 13, 2008

Looking Back at 2007 (Trail Running Blog Tag)

My friend Alan Geraldi (a hell of an ultramarathoner and blog owner of: EnduraZone ) "tagged me" with this list of questions. So, I will try to respond below (and then figure out who else to tag):

1. The most memorable moment on the trails was…

Every race is special to me, so this is a tough question. Cascade Crest Classics 100M has the unexpected cold mountain rain at the night, the pierogies saving me from complete exhaustion, the rope rappelling along the steep muddy trail, the 3 mile rail-trail tunnel, the 2.5 hour effort on the 6 mile Barkley-like "trail from the hell", the cardiac needles dwarfing the infamous steep hills in Rio Del Lago 100M, and the unexpected "racing" with the 100 miler legend Hans-Dieter Weisshaar. These are the most memorable moments, while the nettle whipping, native American tribes, anti-oxidant rich huckleberry feast on the run, and bush whacking, are just icing on the cake.

On the other hand, Wasatch Front 100M has tough climbs everywhere and exhausted me many times. I sleep walked and fell down on my way to the Desolation. Those are great and miserable moments.

2. The best new trail I discovered in 2007 was…

I have run quite a few new races in 2007. Every trails was great, so this is another tough ask. How about the worst shape "trail from the hell" that I cursed all the way in Cascade Crest Classics 100M? Trails at Wasatch Front 100M course are also out of this world!

However, my best new trail in 2007 should be 11-12 miles virtually flat Alameda Creek Trail. It runs along Alameda Creek as a border of Fremont and Union City. It connects between the Bay and the East Bay hills. It has trail markers at every half mile showing two numbers for distances to Bay or the hills. I always run 1.5 miles from my home to get to mile 6.5/4.5.

At the south side of the creek, it is an 11 mile paved bike path, belonging to Fremont. I'd been very familiar with it. Its half mile painted trail markers were my training run for road races. When I got to the trail, I always ran to one end without any gut to run the entire trail out-and-back 22 miles, plus 3 mile home trip. I knew every bit of the trail, so this trail is not new to me.

Across the 100 ft wide creek from the paved bike path, I could see the dirt trail at the other side. Until I started to run ultras for a while, I had never tried the north side of the creek, belonging to Union City. Somehow, it is 12 mile long, 1 mile more than the south side. The painted trail markers are replaced with real trail sign posts.

This dirt path was completely new to me until I ran the inaugural Fremont Fat Ass in 2007. I was amazed at such a wonderful dirt path to a trailrunner's mind. I was also surprised why I had no temptation even to try it for so many years before.

Since then, the north side 12 mile became my training run area. I set my training distance record - 40 miles (See Finishing a 40 MileTraining Run). I was able to run the entire out-and-back 24 miles, which I never dared to dream about it. Getting to one end at Bay was such an inspiration that I felt like being the center of the Universe with sensible civilization surrounding me to the farthest.

Being easily accessible with 1.5 miles from my home and scenic with Bay, wilderness, City street, and convenient water spots, Alameda Creek Trail was the best new trail I enjoyed in 2007.

3. My best performance of the year was…

Although I was bothered by the frequent ankle twist issue in the first half of the year, I was fortunate enough to have one race that I was proud of. It is American River 50M, in which I made my 50 miler PR - 8:31:56.

I don't know how I signed up my first 50 miler in 2005 American River 50M. Being a mediocre road marathon runner (3:19 PR) usually hitting the wall at mile 22, I was really scared at the concept of "running 50 miles".

Me and a good friend Yuki Negoro, who was in the similar situation but a better runner, decided to do 10 min run/ 1 min walk. He had a timer, but we both agreed from our legs at later miles that the 1 min walk seemed getting shorter every time. Also being passed by many runners in the beginning was a hurt on our morale. Luckily, I seemed to turn on my engine when we hit the trail at mile 27. I kept passing people and was able to have a 9:39 finish.

After proving that we can finish a 50 miler, we would like to further explore our limits. Next time in 2006, we got rid of the run/walk by running from the start though at reasonably slow pace. We found we were still alive when the trail started. I loved the trail section and was able to do 9:01, while at the final climb talking with now Cool Night 12hr RD Nancy Warren about breaking 9hr.

Last year I ran alone and decided to push myself even more. I barely made my 4hr goal at the 27 mile bike path, and I was more tired than ever at the trail section. I found I was passed by more runners later. Still I was able to continue the streak of 30+ min improvement by finishing it 8:31:56.

Therefore, for three years in row, I was able to run more than 30 minutes faster each time - 9:39, 9:01, and 8:31. I should be looking forward to an sub-8hr in 2008, but it will be extremely difficult to continue the three year streak and make a sub-8hr at American River 50M.

This year I have no particular goal in mind (perhaps just finish it) since American River 50M is two weeks after Coyote Two Moon 100M. Also I'm afraid 8:31 is too fast and will be my fastest 50 miler for my lifetime. But who knows?

4. I do not know how I previously survived without...

This is the most difficult to answer of all the questions. I really had thought of quitting for a times, but I was able to keep going with my mental strength to the finish.

In Miwok 100K, I was bothered with too many ankle twists for the first 10 miles and nearly dropped. I kept faith and gave some chances to myself, while adjusting my footing and running style. I finally finished it, though missing a turn cost me an over-12hr finish.

In Cascade Crest Classics 100M, I was struggled and exhausted by the unprepared cold mountain rain at mile 30-ish. Knowing quitting was not a better solution under cold rain without shelter, I was grateful for a rest and some food (pierogies) that I was able started to walk and run again. I finished the run.

In Wasatch Front 100M, I felt very sleepy due to cold, altitude, and exhaustiveness on leaving Lamb's Canyon (mile 40). It was a very tough night that I sleep walked through it. My body gradually woke up as the daylight came in little by little on my way to the Brighton mountain resort. The rest 25 miles were not easy at all, but I was able to gut through them and finished it.

I guess my mental strength is a little tough to beat!

5. The person I would most like to meet on a trail in 2008...

Although there are still many ultrarunning celebrities that I have not met before, I don't have any strong desire to see any particular folks. Actually, I think I love to meet anyone running along with me or just us passing each other. Anything on the trail are fun enough and I'm very satisfied with these.

However, I found out the one I like to see at trail running after finishing this post. It is Yuki Negoro. Yuki and I have been training and racing for many years. He was one of those who inspired me a lot in running.

However, he has been bothered for injuries in past two years. He expects to recover in Spring and becomes our familiar fast Yuki. Just saw his name on the Hardrock applicant list along with Alan Geraldi and myself.

If I have to pick one particular person for this question, it will be Yuki Negoro! Go Yuki!!

6. The race I am most excited about for 2008...

Of course, it will be Western States 100M after three years of waiting. Since I'm pursuing Grand Slam and Last Great Race, I'm going to do some new races. I'm looking forward to have exciting thing on my trip and the courses that are completely new to me.

On the other hand, the scary Hardrock 100M, the wonderful Cascade Crest Classics 100M, the Grand Slam final Wasatch Front 100M, and the Last Great Race final Angeles Crest 100M, are all exciting to me.

Other Tagged Fellows

Steve Ansell (Mountain Man Steve) - I'm it!

Adam Blum (Course-Trained - Ultra) -
More 2007 Retrospective and 2008 Plan

Scott Dunlap (A Trail Runner's Blog) - Looking Back at 2007 (Trail Running Blog Tag)

Paul Charteris (Do more trailrunz) - Trail Running Blog Tag

Alan Geraldi (EnduraZone) - LOOKING BACK AT 2007 - TRAIL RUNNING BLOG TAG

Pete Lubbers (Run Lake Tahoe) - Looking Back at 2007 (Trail Running Blog Tag)

Rajeev Patel (The Poetic Runner) - Tagged! You're it!!

Mark Tanaka (Mark Tanaka's Trail & Ultra Running Blog) - My Running 2007 in Review (Tag Answers Part 1 of 2), waiting for his Part 2!

I'll try to tag the following friends and spread the tagging - Steve Ansell (Mountain Man Steve, Thanks!), Ron Duncan (sub-3hr marathon runner), Adam Blum (Course-Trained - Ultra, Thanks!), Keith Blom (, etc


Donald said...

Have a great 2008! I'm in WS, too - maybe I'll meet you there.

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

Thanks Don! I bookmarked your wonderful blog.

Just added Yuki Negoro to be the person I like to see this year!


Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Nice summary, thanks for blogging again. You'll make me jealous with all your racing again this year, I think.