Monday, October 31, 2011

Zombies Hunt Runners at Run For Your Life 5k

Here's a new twist on the trail run 5k - the Run For Your Life 5k not only has obstacles, but flesh-eating zombies along the course grabbing your "health flag". You gotta make it past them all to be eligible for prizes!

The web site says:

Run For Your Lives is an apocalyptic 5K obstacle race. You’re not just running against the clock — you’re running from brain-hungry, virus-spreading, bloody zombies.

Nice! A dozen city tour is already in progress...DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES?!?

Or maybe they just bust into song...

Friday, October 28, 2011

"Marathon Boy" Documentary Follows Greedy Tale of 5-year-old Marathoner

Imagine running 48 marathons in one year...and being only four years old. Now imagine that the weight of an impoverished nation rests on your little shoulders, as greed, temptation, and corruption come at you from all angles. This is the story of 5-year-old Budhia Singh from India, featured in a documentary called "Marathon Boy" airing on HBO on Nov 3rd.

Set your DVR's, people! Sounds like a riveting tale.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Oktoberfest + Half Marathon = Oktoberun Awesomeness

Props to the local geniuses who launched the inaugural Oktoberun Half Marathon/5k, a fundraiser race that starts and ends in downtown Redwood City, CA, and kicks off the local Oktoberfest celebration. I had a great time, and easily ended the morning "calorie positive" with all the great beer and German food. Such a fun event!

(Silicon Valley embraces Oktoberfest, and why not? It's perfect pre-race hydration!)
The race was a local affair, big enough to raise some $$$ for the Redwood City Education Foundation, but not so big that we couldn't park right next to the start. The day was perfect for running, and ~300 of us eagerly chose the half marathon to take advantage of the sunny 70 degree morning. I caught up with friends Shira Shane (just back from a summer in Jordan), Warren Packard (recent born again entrepreneur), ultra star Erika Kikuchi (with me feeling the need to apologize for staring endlessly at her Web page - I dare you not to!), and super master Kermit Cuff before we were called to the line. With a raising of (empty) mugs, we were off!

(Me just ahead of John Munene, photo courtesy of my cheap ass not paying $30 for a non-watermarked digital photo)
Local Jesus Campos quickly made his way to the front, joined by John Munene and a half dozen others well under a 6 minute/mile pace. The local police routed us through downtown and over the highway to a bike path that weaved along the waterway, where Munene found a ridiculously fast gear and headed out on his own. He managed to take the correct path, while about 30 of us took a half mile detour through a parking lot...gotta look for that chalk! Warren Packard timed it just right, getting everyone else back on track as the rest of us shrugged our shoulders and said thanks for the "bonus miles." Honestly, if that's the only wrong turn in an inaugural race, they are doing a stellar job!

Campos went a bit farther off track than the rest of us, but quickly turned his frustration into a banshee blur and flew by all of us. I settled into a rhythm with Roheem Moore, an Air Force pilot finishing up a 140+ mile/week and looking great, and we traded off pacing a 6:10 min/mile groove, picking up a couple of spots along the way. I could see Kermit Cuff 30-40 seconds ahead of us as we hit a long straight bike path (mile 4) but we weren't gaining any ground yet. If I knew Kermit, he would hold his pace to the end!
(Flying on the dirt bike path)
The happy volunteers steered us onto the last out-and-back section along the Bay, where we could see Munene waaaaay out front and Campos finding no challengers for second place (or first place for the 14-miler, depending on how you look at it). We hit the turnaround, and Roheem eased up a bit to enjoy the warm breeze. Shira was looking great, well on her way to a half marathon PR despite no training in Jordan, and a smile big enough to prompt every single guy to ask her about her status.

I tried a few 30-second sprints to reel in Kermit, but each one only got me a few seconds, and I had little runway left. As we crossed the highway one last time (mile 11), I realized that 4th was my destiny and eased up to give some high fives to the beer-clad residents. Yummm...just a few more miles for some alcoholic carb replenishment!

(Let the festivities begin! Photo courtesy of Luke Mertens)
I crossed the finish line in 1:24:47 for 4th place, guessing the wrong turn had cost us about 3:30. A bit slower than last weekend, but still in range for a sub-2:50 marathon at NYC, fingers crossed. John Munene had won in a screaming 1:12:03, with Campos coming in second with a 1:21:53 (also with 3-4 bonus minutes), and 53-year-old Kermit schooling us all with a 3rd place 1:24:05. As I refreshed with beer and big German pretzels, we cheered on Women's winner Shannon Cody (1:30:27), a local school teacher at Clifford School that must have known everyone given the raucous celebration. She had plenty of hugs for everyone! (all results)

And with that, the Oktoberfest celebration began, with huge steins of beer, lots of great food, and The Internationals and Golden Gate Bavarian Club busting out authentic Oktoberfest song and dance. Thanks so much to the volunteers and race directors for bringing back a downtown half marathon, and throwing the best finish line party around. I will be back next year for sure!

- SD

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Found a Body On My Run Today

Just finishing up a 12-miler in Purisima Open Space Preserve on a beautiful Saturday morning, and there it was...just a couple of feet sticking out of a grassy section, and a perplexed fingernail-biting cyclist who had clearly recently stumbled upon it. Before I could even get a few words out, the Sheriff was making his way down the fire road in his cruiser and pulled out a body bag. Whoa.

The police quickly summarized it looked more like a suicide than an accident. I selfishly thought "that's too bad...he missed one of the best sunrises all year long". But I suspect he was in the shadow of bigger demons.

So in case this doesn't go without saying, if you're thinking about ending it all in one of the parks near my neighborhood, at least wait long enough for us to have one more sunrise run and a breakfast beer. It just might be enough to live for.

Give your loved ones an extra hug today...

- SD

Monday, October 17, 2011

100-year-old Marathoner Completes Toronto Marathon

(Fauja Singh becomes the worlds oldest marathoner, photo courtesy of Frank Gunn, Canadian Press)
100-year-old Fauja Singh became the oldest marathoner in the world when he completed the Toronto Marathon in eight hours and change this weekend. He was "thrilled" with his performance, and was the last official finisher. Singh also broke eight world age group records along the way.

Sunday's run was Singh's eighth marathon — he ran his first at age 89 — and he's now setting his sights on carrying the torch for the 2012 London Games. This guy is amazing!

Congrats, Fauja! Age is nothing!

- SD

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Don't Throw Away Those Blurry Photos Yet...Adobe Has a Cure

In a simply shocking demo of Adobe's new "unblur" capability for PhotoShop, the below video shows how a new algorithm can determine the motion of the camera that caused the blur while the shutter was open, and correct it. Voila, a clear picture!

For guys like me who get 100 blurry photos for every one that works, this is a miracle. Don't throw away those blurry photos, folks!


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Craig Alexander Sets New CR at 2011 Ironman Hawaii (8:03:52), Wellington Takes 4th Title

Australia's Craig Alexander had a "perfect day" on the big island of Hawaii this Sat, claiming his 3rd Ironman World Championship with a course record 8:03:56, and becoming the first athlete to ever win both the 70.3 and Ironman World Championships in the same year. Oh yeah - he's the oldest winner too at age 38!
(New CR and he can levitate! Photo courtesy of
Alexander was so focused on his race, he didn't even realize he was going to beat the course record until he heard announcer Mike Rielly say "I think he's going to make it!" and sprinted for that crucial 13 seconds. Wow! Experts attribute his course-setting race to his phenomenal peak shape, a bike split that was 13 minutes faster than any of his previous races, and a 2:44 marathon that put him in the lead by mile 6. Ironman rookie Pete Jacobs, also from Australia, was second in 8:09:11. Germany's Andreas Raelert was third in 8:11:07 after being in the Top 3 for most of the race.

(Chrissie does 4, photo courtesy of
Britian's Chrissie Wellington (8:55:08) added a fourth crown to her collection after chasing down early leader Julie Dibens at mile 16, and then barely holding off 2nd place finisher Miranda Carfrae (8:57:57) who had bested her marathon record while in hot pursuit. Wellington was still healing from a bike crash just two weeks previous, and was very pleased to have enough left to win. Leanda Cave (9:03:29) held on for third after being in the Top 5 nearly all of the day.

Another great race from the Ironman World Championship. Looking forward to that NBC special!

- SD

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

"World Best" vs. "World Record" - Wha?

Last month, the IAAF (track and field's international governing body) ruled that, in women's marathoning, only times recorded in women-only races would qualify as world records. If a faster time is run in a mixed-gender race, it's now a "world best". So Paula Radcliffe's 2:15:25 in London in 2003—set in a mixed-gender race and aided by two male pacesetters—has become the world best, while her time of 2:17:42 in London 2005—in a women-only start—is the new world record. WTF?!?

Very confusing, I think, and seemingly unneeded. If the course is sanctioned as 26.2 miles, should it matter? The SF Chronicle says the ruling is insulting to women. The World Marathon Majors says it's confusing. Radcliffe says it's unfair. But many agree a male pacer is worth about two minutes.

The New York Road Runners media team has a great "head to head" debate about this topic featuring Neil Amdur, former sports editor of the New York Times, and Tim Hutchings, a British Olympian and TV commentator. It's worth a read.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Groovin' at the Rock n Roll San Jose Half Marathon

Over 12,000 runners enjoyed a perfect autumn morning at the Dodge Rock n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon this Sunday, and I was thrilled to be one of them. The theme was F-U-N, 1,000+ volunteers and over a dozen bands made sure the mood was perfect, the competition was insanely fast, and there was free beer at the finish to chug while Big Head Todd and the Monsters put on a show. A nice little Sunday morning!

I hadn't originally planned to do this race, but jumped at the last minute when I realized it would be a rock-soaked tour of my new work neighborhood. My long runs are pretty lonely these days, so it's nice to have some company! I knew the guys at put on a solid show - their Rock n' Roll Series is quickly becoming one of the biggest and most successful in history, and one employee told me they were expecting over 42,000 runners at Las Vegas next time (making it the 3rd biggest race in the world). It's a nice formula - 13.1 miles of partying, and $125 x 40,000 (plus sponsors) = a lot of cheddar!
(T minus 2 minutes...)
(Defending champions Meb and Deena, photo courtesy of PhotoRun)

(Meb leads 'em out!)
(and we fill the streets! Photo courtesy of Ryan Bethke)
I lined up in Corral 1 a few minutes before the start, saying hi to Caitlin Smith and getting to know some new faces. I asked what everyone was hoping to run, and got a lot of "1:08", "1:10", and a handful of women eyeing that 1:15 Olympic Trial qualifying time. Ahem! I slowly backed up towards Corral 2....

The pack took off quickly at the gun, with 2-time defending champion and Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi dropping a 4:35 mile right out of the chute. Whoa! Local speedster and 2011 USA Marathon Champion Sergio Reyes stuck right with him. Deena Kastor, Olympic bronze medalist and American Record holder for the marathon was setting the pace for the Women, showing little evidence that just had a baby in February. She was running 5:10 min/mile...phew!

(Sergio Reyes, photo courtesy of PhotoRun)

(Runners take over San Jose, photo courtesy of Maria J Avila Lopez)
(Not hard to find a cheering section at this race!)

(Living the HEALTHY rock and roll lifestyle)
My first mile was quick (5:40) and I quickly settled into a rhythm around a 6 min/mile pace. We zipped through the streets, where rock bands played everything from Maroon 5, to Aretha Franklin, to Judas Priest. Every junior high and high school had their cheerleaders and dance squads out, and if they weren't dancing, they were handing out goodies. This town came out for their race!
(Angus Young rocks out)

(Local cheerleaders giving us a boost)
(Getting a boost from the crowd, photo courtesy of Ryan Bethke)
We cruised through the first 4 miles in 23:45, coming back through town before heading north past HP Pavilion. Just as one female runner blew up, Jessica Brothers came by with her super-pacer Dave Easa, and I latched onto them to draft and take my mind off the pace. Jessica was all business, hoping to crack into the 1:18's, while Dave had enough reserves to cheer the bands and even grab a water balancing on a volunteer's head. It sure felt fast! Then at mile 7, we saw Meb cruise the other way (~mile 9) just flying along out front. He makes it look so easy...
(Jessica gets some Tex Mex rock to keep her going)
(Costumes abound, photo courtesy of Maria J Avila Lopez)
(Meb out front, photo courtesy of PhotoRun)

(All smiles after mile 13!)
At mile 11, Caitlin Smith caught up for a moment (she was having an "off day", but was still on a 1:19 pace) but decided to ease back when we all picked up the pace in the last few blocks. Jessica and Dave bolted like cheetahs, finding that extra gear (she did PR in 1:18:40, 5th Woman). I crossed the finish in 1:19:36, way back in 68th place! Good enough for 2nd in the age group, but still...pretty impressive crew of runners.
(Brian Ball gets the crowd roaring, photo courtesy of PhotoRun)
Meb went for win #3, finishing comfortably in 1:02:17, over a minute ahead of Giliat Gehebray (1:03:38) and Sergio Reyes (1:04:19). Deena Kastor also repeated in a speedy 1:12:23, over three minutes ahead of Clara Peterson (1:15:22) and Brooke Wells (1:16:14). The Top 10 finishers were all under 1:10...holy cow!

American River 50m champion Mike Buchanan found me at the finish, and we finagled our way into the VIP tent for some food and beer. It turns out super pacer Dave Easa is a good friend of his! I thanked Dave for his pacing efforts, and he was clearly pleased that his runner had a new PR today.

(Deena enjoys a laugh with 7-month old daughter, Piper; camera courtesy of Mike Buchanan)
(Just me, hanging with cool is that? Camera courtesy of Mike Buchanan)
Meb was a total champion, happy to take photos and sign autographs, as was Deena, who did so with the now-familiar baby Piper on her hip. Both commented on how great it was to see this city out and enjoying the great weather! I told Meb I would see him at the NYC Marathon in a few weeks, and wished Deena well with her training for the Olympic Trials in January. Then got some pasta with NFL star Roger Craig...gotta love crashing the VIP tent!

The beer was flowing out in the courtyard (MGD64, so you had to drink about five just to quench your thirst), and my hands subconsciously played the guitar chords of the great Big Head Todd riffs filling the air...sooo many college afternoons spent playing those songs. I had a few laughs with new friends, then walked the course backward to cheer on the walkers. So many first-timers, it was just wonderful. I just love talking to folks who tackle their first long race. It's kinda crazy to sign up for something of that magnitude, and the pride at the finish line, runners and family alike, could save the world if you could bottle it up.

(Sharing a toast with Sunnyvale barefoot runner Bala Subramanian, who also ran at Half Moon Bay last weekend)
(Bring on the bling!)
(It's like Woodstock, only more gel wrappers and diet beer)
(Big Head Todd rockin' it)
Thanks to the Race Directors and volunteers for a wonderful day of play in San Jose, CA. Best of luck with your Rock n' Roll Empire!

- SD

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Transitioning from Road to Trails (Running Times), Getting Chicked, and That Dreaded Treadmill

Ian Torrence does it again with a great article in Running Times interviewing road elites who have excelled in competitive trail running. Check it out here.

Speaking of transition, for those of you having to get on that winter treadmill, it turns out it's not as bad as one would think.

Does getting "chicked" mean they are going to pull your man card? Grow up, boys! Happens all the time!

Here's a nice infographic on interval training - print that sucker out for your treadmill!

Anyone know the inside scoop on what's going on with Pacific Coast Trail Runs and their recent cancellations? I'm getting a lot of requests to write something up, but would much prefer to have more facts first.

Happy running!