Friday, July 31, 2009

Blog Tag

I was tagged by Alan Geraldi on this topic. Please check my responses below and how this tagging works.

"It has been awhile since us Ultraholics and friends have played that old game called Blog Tag. Here is how it works (or should work in theory). I pose a few questions, answer them and then tag three other blog owners to answer the same questions, and so on and so on (they also have to tag the person who tags them). So, here it goes:"

1. Do you have a favorite race you ran this year - if yes, which one and why.

That would be finishing Western States 100M. No doubt this race stays high in almost every ultrarunner's wish list and always my favorite race. However, it also means a lot to me this year as my first time doing it.

First, as many of you know, I have had a couple of 100 miler DNF before that. I had not finished a 100 miler race since Sept 2007. In between I DNFed ALL 100 milers, closed to 10. I don't want to count the number for there are a few reasons behind them. Job changes, natural disaster, and, especially, my stress fracture injury. So finishing Western States 100M after so many DNFs is important to me.

The Fu family finishing WSER 2009

Secondly, because of another injury, I was not well prepared for Western States 100M such that my hope was to go as far as I could. This was named as "Chihping style" by Martin Casado recently when Martin decided to run the coming Headlands Hundred in the same attitude. For me, I had no other choice, so show up and go is the only thing I can do.

As usual, there were some lows or devastating lows through Western States 100M such as the altitude and muscle cramp before Duncan Canyon, becoming exhausted at Eldorado canyon climb, extremely sleepy at Peachstone. I even planned to drop to get a ride back to the hotel and stay with my family.

There were also highs in the race such as flying after Robinson Flat, speedy climb at Devil's Thumb, cruising after River Crossing that I was able to pass 52 runners before the finish.

These highs and lows made what Western States 100M is my favorite race this year so far. Plus with my latest plantar fasciitis injuries with nearly record high temperature make it my most memorable race that I was able to overcome these adversities and finish it.

2. Have you selected any race goals for 2010?

I like to be in Barkley Marathons as my friend Alan Geraldi, but I'm always short of budget and vacation. So I think Barkley Marathons is not in my list for next few years.

Currently I don't have any specific goal in 2010 except being selected in Western States 100M and staying healthy to improve my base training if I want to pursue my best performance. If there is no surprise, I think I'll have my goal to be finishing those favorite mountain ones or unfinished 100 milers such as Massanutten Mountain Trails 100M, Old Dominion 100M, Vermont Trails 100M, Cascade Crest 100M, Wasatch Front 100M, and Angeles Crest 100M.

My exhausting trail work at Bishop Ranch

Btw, I really don't like so many trail works involved. Don't get me wrong. I highly esteem the value of trail work. I simply have difficulty performing that many trail work among my other busy commitments.

I'll participate in Hardrock Hundred lottery and will seriously consider doing it.

3. Did you discover any new (non-race) trails this year?

During my 2+ week family visit in Taiwan two weeks ago, I really loved the trails in Taiwan mountain - gnarly, rooted, muddy, slippery, rope rappelling, stairs. Very challenging, full of O=O but no PO (ouch, I have to be careful not to wake up my PO spots). See one of my video

But don't be scared. There are also very nice groomed trails. Visitors will be amazed that there are so many trails with lots of varieties in Taiwan, considering its size is smaller than Florida or about 1/300th of USA.

Btw, if you need altitude or snow, there are over 100 mountains of over 10,000 ft connected with trails to be explored and take your breath away.

4. Why do you run?

One simple reason that I usually tell others to run is running is a very efficient and effective exercise - you don't spend much time and can achieve the results or goals. And running is simple ad cheap, a kind of freedom. A pair of shoes/socks and a short, and You're ready to go anywhere just from your house. These fit myself - a cheap busy over-achiever. :-)

Also running does not need much skill. It is said that we were born to run. I myself am not good at sport skill, so running is becoming to me.

However, this may need to go back to why I started my running. It was mostly from healthy reason. My Dad passed away with with heart disease. I was told that this is genetic, so I wanted to pick up exercise to improve or overcome any of my heart defects, which had been found by my doctors. Also at that time, I started to feel going down in my overall fitness condition. I wanted to improve it. Therefore I ran. When running started to show the positive results, I became addicted since then.

5. There are extreme ultramarathons - Spartathlon, Run Across America, Badwater, etc. are you planning any?

Sorry - Nope.

They are beyond my limits. Spartathlon may be possible as it's not far from the 100 mile distance I've usually done. I'd love to do some 120K or 400K cross Taiwan before considering it. However, the other factor is the expenses. Currently traveling to out of state is the most I can afford. I never think I'll be able to get to Europe to do races there. Perhaps wait another 10 years!

I guess when I am able to run the 1,000K around Taiwan, I'll have much confidence in doing Running Across America.

Badwater is probably impossible too for it is expensive and requires too much resources other than running.

Oh, forgot to mention, road running is currently not my favorite. I'm very addicted to mountain trail running.

6. Favorite food during ultras and favorite post-race food?

I'm a little minimalist regarding this. Gel is best. If not, I'd like to have the food easy to chew and swallow. Somehow my mouth and teeth are exhausted through the miles like my legs. Grilled cheese sandwich is great at night running.

My favorite post-race food will be hot cheese burger. Two come into my mind - Quicksilver 50K/M burgers and Ohlone 50K burgers.

7. Are ultrarunners part of your life outside of races?

Ultraholics bound closely

I consider some ultrarunners my best friends. I have known some ultrarunners for many years because we worked in the same company or near to each other that we had run together since the early days.

I usually make friends with ultrarunners over the trail. There is nothing to hide or shameful. We share our laughters and suffering, talk about everything, sad or joyful, like siblings or parents with children. After the race, we normally keep close touch and look forward to meeting again in future races since we usually live far apart. They are all my friends.

8. What do you consider the most beautiful ultra course you have run?

Me running

To me, doing ultra is not only to test my limits, but the same important is to experience it as a journey. I think those mountain 100 milers are beautiful, and that's why I keep doing them every year. Wasatch Front 100M is very beautiful, so is Angeles Crest 100M. Cascade Crest 100M in the Pacific Northwest is also pretty. In the East, there may not be that mountainous as in the West. They have the other kind of beauty - lush green with a bit of history - Vermont Trails 100M, Massanutten Mountain Trails 100M, Old Dominion 100M I always want to do them if I have chance and can afford to.

9. Favorite race director?

Ouch - that is a tough one. I have not up close relationship with race directors. I can only just tell from the race quality and they mostly have done great job.

10. What is your longest streak at running the same race?

Unlike some of my friends like to do different races each time, I will do a race in streak if I like it. I have run Quicksilver 50K/M 6 times since 2004 though the first time was a 50K, my first ultra. The entry fee is reasonable and course design wonderful, race overall is top notch. This should be my longest streak and will continue to be.

I have run American River 50M 5 times with my first 50 miler in 2005. However, it is becoming an exception to what I said above. I'm getting to have difficulty doing it because of its high rising entry fee and 2hr driving each way for the event. Perhaps this year will be my last one :-(

I have done some other races in streak. 4 times Ohlone 50K, one of my favorite races, but I have stopped my streak to volunteer again due to the high entry fee. 3 times Miwok 100K, same reason such that I skipped this year and probably future years.

Ruth Anderson 3 times. The race Director is our best friend Rajeev Patel. and the fee is very affordable, so I'll continue to do it. 3 times Firetrails 50M, The entry fee is reasonable, so I'll continue to do it.

I will tag Steve Ansell, Mark Tanaka, and Jean Pommier.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

090422 - Taste of Grouse Grind

I had a wonderful chance to be on my first business trip to Vancouver for one week. I worked hard and did some running for the first few days. I may write stories on them, but on Wednesday ....

I did not went to Trans Canada Trail section in Burnaby since it was said it might be flat. Just kidding, but I was thinking between running in North Shore or strolling in Vancouver downtown to see if I can buy some souvenir for my family after being away for a week.

When I wrapped up my work and got back to my hotel, I decided to go to Grouse Grind. It was about 6:30pm and I quickly changed into my running gears. Off I went and I did not get lost for the first time, thanks to carefully and repetitively studying the direction before I left.

Entering Grouse Grind

Finding a FREE parking, just next to the pay parking lot, I was glad to made there and also saw the Baden-Powell trail sign, but sadden in no time when I was told and saw the sign that the trail is closed.

The trail was closed.

I got a tip from other snow athletes that there is a trail nearby to get into. I had no difficulty to find the entrance - Wow! it's a steep climb up that I imagined it the entrance to "Trail From the Hell" at the roadside. Whatever, just go!

But there was a "backdoor", class 3- climbing?

As I went up, after giving up running on it, I thought that it would be more difficult going down. At the top, I quickly found a real trail nearby. It's the Grouse Grind trail winding up from the other side of the fence, which stopped here. I now went on the Grouse Grind. It was steep with stairs, just like the trails in Taiwan, an island of the size as Florida but with 100+ mountains of over 3000m. I saw a few more signs about the trail closure and the exciting Baden-Powell trail signs along the way.

The trail - steep, rooted rocks, and stairs.

I now remembered a miss - I did not bring my flashlight. I peeked through the deep forest to estimate how much time I had before sun dived into the back of the mountain far away. It certainly would be soon sunset. From a hiker coming down, I understood what I had worked hard for don't-know-how-much time is only a quarter of the trail for I did not carry a watch either. I figured out that I can't get to the top and come down safely without a light. While I kept moving up as quickly as I could, I had to make a decision when to turn around.

Right turn with a bridge ahead

I started to see loose snow field not far away from the trail. I also crossed a simple bridge. The trail was challenging rooted with irregular dodging-ball size rocks and even more, as I imagined, when coming down. Oh well, after I thought I can come back early morning tomorrow, I felt comfortable to be ready to turn around to save my legs. In deed coming down did not make it much faster than going up with fresh legs and aspiration. I had to be very careful not to trip or fall for any fall could have me rest for a few days, which I never liked.

A snow field at the side of the trail

Still I ran into a couple going up. They were prepared, so could kept going without worrying like me. After some time, I started to notice that I should look for the side trail so as not to get to the closed fence on the regular trail. I was usually not good this, but I was lucky this time. I found the trail and started to be on the steep down. I imagined it the rope rappelling in Cascade Crest 100M but without a rope on "easier" surface. Still I had to slowly place my foot at safety spots. With a camera in one hand, I essentially had only one hand left for emergency to grab not-too-many branches in case I lost my footing. Finally, I got down to the ground, i.e. the free parking lot.

Finding my car, I enjoyed the scenery around for moments. It was still bright but, I was afraid, not for next hour. While I thought that I should have gone even further, I was glad to have a taste of Grouse Grind and truly experience the technical trail in Pacific Northwest, compared with which the technical trails in my area were simply too mild, just as I was told the other day.

Crossing on Lion's bridge to enter Vancouver downtown

Since it was still early, I planned to strolling Vancouver downtown by crossing Lion's Bridge for the first time. Remember that everything in this Vancouver trip had been somehow totally new experience to me like being in a country much foreign to me. Keeping my finger crossed, I carefully looked at every traffic sign along the speedy down from Grouse mountain. I came to the bridge without problem and entered the downtown.

The skyscrapers in Vancouver downtown

At one corner after Stanley Park, I spotted a running store and a couple of female runners stretching outside. I thought they are ready for a group run and I had a urge to join them, but I had difficulty finding a free parking. Not that I was cheap (I indeed try to save $$ once in a while), but I had only little Canadian money. As I returned to the same corner after some time, they were gone. I had to continue to return to hotel as a quick decision. Along the way, I drove into Gastown and Chinatown to have a glimpse of them so I could return to visit them later.

It was nice to return to the hotel so "early" - before 9pm. I had all my time. After a shower, I found TV was not so interesting, so I got back to my book - War and Peace. I had read it for more than a month and I brought it along in this trip. I had not read it when I arrived since I read in in the flight. Now it's time to pick it up so that I won't forget the story at my last page. I guessed it was the whole day work that my eyes were sore after an hour or so. I also finished the leftover from our delicious "Penne..." pasta. I decided to go to sleep early since the network access in the hotel room was down.

I was hoping to get up at 4am so that I could finish Grouse Grind before work. However, I wanted to sleep more. I missed the time today. I had good time finishing a few more pages in my book.

Still hope to finish Grouse Grind before coming back California on Saturday.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mission Peak Repeats 12hr (Training for Barkley, etc)

Date: 7pm, Feburary 26, 2009

Just came back down from Mission Peak while waiting for my son in the writing class nearby. I'm thinking about doing Mission Peak repeats some time. Each repeat is 6.5 miles out-and-back with 2500ft straight up and down.

PointElevationChangeTo NextMileage
Peak Meadow junc1460ft+480ft0.65M1.79M
Peak Tr. junc1940ft+90ft0.30M2.44M
Eagle Tr. Junc2030ft+487ft0.51M2.74M
Mission Peak2517ft


1. It will be mostly at night, so you won't miss work or miss less from family.
2. We'll park on the streets about 1/4 mile down from the trailhead to avoid possible vandalism.
3. We'll use the main trail instead of the Ohlone 50K course. The main trail is wide and obvious, while we don't want to disturb cows mostly resting at the Ohlone 50K course, where you know has more dung.
4. If your company has shower, we can start from the time after work and finish at some time next day when heading to work.
5. Your car will be the AS on your visit every time, or can cache a ice chest near the trailhead.
6. There is a water fountain and a restroom at the trailhead.
7. Do as many repeats as you want.
8. I plan to do this at the end of Feb or Early March because I'd like to have our Barkley Alan lead us for his training run. I know this is not as steep as Barkley Marathon, but this is the steepest trail I know nearby.

These are just some rough ideas when I plan to do some training on my quads and legs. Anyone interested? Or any other suggestions?

Now I need to do more hills so I can do more repeats then.

Comments from Ultraholics emails

Endurazone Alan plans to join

Wow - with all these people volunteering to flog me I am overwhelmed by the love! Must be "beat the sh!! out of your favorite attorney week".

MountainMan Steve - plans to join to train for Coyote Two Moon

"a little piece of single track off the Peak Meadow trail that goes up 456ft in just a quarter mile. ... to practice a 35% grade, its a good place for some repeats." and "some swatches when he trims my rose bushes." to "whack him (Alan) about the body with the thorn-covered branches. "

Can park at Steve's driveway (3.25 miles away) and run or carpool to trailhead. If running there, I can help by taking all drop bags to the trailhead.

Martin Casado plans to join.

Outdoorzone Anil plans to join

Dirt Runner Bill Cotton from Monterey plans to join.

Running and Rambling Donald from Carmel plans to join.

The Poetic Runner Rajeev will start late.

Bob Becker - Can't find such steep hills in S. Florida

Ultrailnaka Mark not sure due to work schedule, but who knows.

"And everyone has to run to work. Doesn't anyone have to stay awake when they work?"

Farther Faster Jean won't join but plan to do it in May.

"Only you, Mark, in case someone gets in trouble and needs a visit to ER. In which case YOU have to stay awake, PLEASE!!! =:-o"