Monday, May 30, 2011

Wardian, Semick Score at 2011 Comrades Marathon

Michael Wardian posted his best finish ever at the 2011 Comrades Marathon, finishing 11th overall (1st American) in 5:52:51 for the hilly 87km race. Although he was disappointed to miss "gold" (top 10 finish), he was happy with his time. You can see a video of Wardian at various parts of the course at MySports starting on May 31st.

Kami Semick, also running her 2nd Comrades, won "gold" with her 3rd place finish in 6:26:25 just behind the Nurgalieva twins that have dominated this race the past few years (her video). Ultrarunner Ellie Greenwood finished 4th in 6:32:47.

The 2011 Comrades Marathon was won by Stephen Muzhingi (5:32:46), who finished a hat trick of three consecutive wins. Olena Nurgalieva also repeated (6:24:11), just 14 seconds ahead of her twin sister, Olesya, just like last year (and 8 of the 9 last Comrades). Their spirits were high, despite the fact that thieves robbed all of the winners while they ran (a countrywide manhunt is currently in progress).

(The twins win again)
 Shout out to Ian Sharman (56th, 6:25:31) and Jon Kroll (7:41:24), who both had great finishes. Know somebody else you ran? Check results and videos here.

Congrats, you guys!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Which Trail Has The Best Cell Phone Reception?

A classic cartoon from the folks at The New Yorker. Well, at least they are outside. ;-)


Monday, May 23, 2011

How To Meet Women On The Trail (Guest Blogger Vince G.)

[Ed - This post brought to you by guest blogger Vince G., who is seeking advice from both men and women trail runners. All feedback appreciated!]

Dearest trail running community, I need your advice. I'm a newbie to the sport, and although my slightly overweight, plodding-but-smiling form could use some pointers, it is in regards to our social norms that I seek your counsel. It's going to sound cliche, but you see, there's this girl...

I know, I know...pathetic, right? It's bad enough that I'm 44 years old, divorced (and thus knowing a thing or two about what NOT to say to women), and trying to get in shape for the first time in my life, but now I'm as fear-frozen as a teenager trying to get up the cojones to ask a girl to the prom. She appears like an angel once or twice a week on my daily trail run near my house, and just the obligatory nod-and-hey gets my heart rate going faster than the fire road climb. I take a breather and try to convince myself that sweaty palms, a dry throat, and inability to make eye contact are all a part of trail running, but who are we kidding...I've got a crush with a capital "C".

But how do I start a conversation with her? What can I say without being creepy? When greeting a woman on the trail, I get the impression there's a thin line between "friendly" and "that's when I doused his face with bear spray". Plus I want to be respectful of our sport and not break the rhythm of her run or solitude. All of my ideas either sound too cheesy ("leave some flowers for her where you last met eyes"), or just downright ill-advised ("casually follow her to car so there's a natural place to start a conversation"). HELP!!!

Before you answer, I feel like I should clarify one thing. When I say "girl", what I actually mean is "age appropriate female with a youthful spirit". It's bad enough I may be "trail trolling", lest the additional agent orange mist of mid-life crisis perversion. Scott will vouch that I am far from that guy (right, wing man? Buddy?). She is something special, though. Her effortless smile is always present, with kind green eyes nestled in a tapestry of tan lines that bare proof that she has laughed in the sun at every opportunity. Her face wouldn't dare, or require, a single spec of make up, and her pony tail joyfully bounces to its own beat, unable to contain it's wild grey strays. This is a women in touch with her youthful spirit, and by God, she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

I'm a bit of a romantic, which makes this a particular challenging conundrum. If you ask my ex-wife, I'm an "unrealistic romantic" at that. Unfortunately, I have to agree with her on that one, at least in that I used to be unrealistic with my expectations of love and romance. I had that belief that love could cure anything, including any issues with the marriage itself. But it turns out that a marriage, like any relationship, needs time and attention, not belief in a superhero that comes swooping in to save us in the nick of time. It's a lesson I understood too late, but one I certainly will not replicate. Oh no, I will NOT fuck the next one up. Like the trail runs that are part of my daily life, I am ready to invest fully in my greatest adventures. For that, I am already a better man.

The trails had a lot to do with unearthing the better me, digging deep, having faith in every step, finding solace and discovery in even the muddiest, coldest days. It is my sanctuary, my springboard, and my double-dare all rolled into one. Perhaps I am obsessed with this woman simply because she is out here, finding her own source of joy, adventurous in her own right, and on her own terms. Or maybe it's because I'm old enough to know that women like her are far too rare, and from what I understand, men who can appreciate that are even more so. Life, and the trails, gives us opportunities, but it is up to us to see and grasp them.

I guess I could just say that the next time I see her. But odds are I'll get the bear spray. :)

Thank you in advance for your help!

- Vince G.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dog Bandits Half Marathon, Then Starts Blog

3-yr-old Dozer the Dog knew a party was happening when the Maryland Half Marathon went near his house, so he jumped the fence and joined the fun at mile 5...then finished!

RD's were so impressed, they gave him a finisher medal. Now he's got his own blog for fundraising. Pretty impressive pup! Now let's see if we can get him into the ultra scene. ;-)

- SD

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Naked-tastic 100th Bay to Breakers

Every May in San Francisco, the Bay to Breakers 12k takes over the city streets with enough beer, nudity, and costumed craziness to rival Mardi Gras. This year marked the 100th running (my 6th), and despite more constrictive rules and the doubling of police to curtail the Bachanalia, it was as crazy as ever. Let those freak flags fly, my brothers and sisters!

I had originally planned to take Sophie the whole way in our new running rickshaw, but found out the day before that there would be no parade floats or wheeled vehicles this year. In fact, baby strollers weren't allowed! Oops. That put us in a tough spot since 4-year-old Sophie isn't quite old enough to walk 7.5 miles in forecast wind and rain, but heavy enough that a 3-hour piggy-back ride was out of the question. Poor Sophie was heartbroken, sulking through the Expo with a lower lip pushed out so far that it was tripping other runners. But then she found the booth for the new Hell Run in Half Moon Bay and decided mud, fire pits, and river crossings sounded waaay better. That apple don't fall far from the tree, I tell ya.
(Let the mayhem begin!)
So with no costume and no rickshaw, I picked up a Seeded number (just bring a copy of a fast finish time, and you can get one too) and decided to just run the damn thing for once. I didn't bring the camera due to projected rain, but grabbed my iPhone when the morning weather broke enough for a dry start. I made my way to the front, thrilled to warm up alongside of Olympic medalist Meb Keflezighi (promoting his new book), Boston Marathon winner Deriba Merga, local Olympian Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, Mario Mendoza (fresh off his 3rd place finish at the 15k national championships the day before, here to run in the Asics Aggies centipede), a dozen Kenyan and Ethiopian gazelles, and the usual mix of costumed characters like the ape, the busy bees, and some naked dudes in racing flats. Now THAT'S a starting line!

(Here we go!)
(The elite women go first)
The elite women went off first, and I had a chance to catch up with Ian Sharman, who oddly was not in costume. Perhaps running the Miwok 100k as Elvis and the Napa Marathon as Spiderman was too much for him this year? He just laughed, saying he needed to get some "actual" speed work in before Comrades in a few weeks. We did the countdown, and we were off!
(The pink ape was white this year...)
Despite clocking 5:28 for the first mile, I was at least 100 people back. The speed of the centipedes in particular were simply amazing, given that they were all hooked together with less than four feet between them. By the time we turned onto Hayes St, they were already heading up the hill nearly a mile ahead! That was easily a sub-5 min/mile pace. It was odd for me to go through this section of the course without seeing tens of thousands of people around me, the salmon people going in the other direction, and I think it made Hayes hill even more ominous. No problem...I just tucked in behind SF Giants pitcher Tim Lincecrum (costume, that is) and tried not to red line.
(No B2B is complete without naked vikings...let THAT etch into your retinas!)
Once we got over the hill, I tucked into a small group with Lincecrum, Waldo (from the book, Where's Waldo), a guy running barefoot in a sequin tunic, a Japanese runner singing karaoke out loud, and a guy with a t-shirt that said "DJ's love BJ's". We had good momentum (5:50 min/mile) for a group of misfits, and were making ground on the next group of runners which included the towering 6'6" naked guy, and a dude dressed as a Raggedy Anne doll. Spectators were out in force, also in full costume, cheering us on. Did I say this race was awesome? How fun is this?!?

(Which is more cool - that hat, or the Beat It-era Michael Jackson behind him?)
(Flower power!)
(City firemen do their best not to get caught up in the revelry)
We entered Golden Gate Park (mile 4), where the downhills spread us out. I checked my watch - 25:30 - surprised at how much Hayes hill had slowed us down, but also astounded that this race would be over before 8am. Do they still serve beer at the finish at 8am? Let's hope so.

(Muppets rule! Animal looks a little hungover though)
(Two cookie monsters making out...hmmm, maybe it's best that Sophie wasn't here this year)
I had to slow down a bit, much in thanks to a dry hack reminding me that last month's cold hadn't quite worked its way through my system yet. There's nothing like fast running to flush that out! We passed a slowing Ian Sharman, who quickly got on the tail of our pack to keep pace. As we glided through the final downhill section (mile 7), we all realized a sub-6 minute average was within reach if we kept at it. Ian passed me and ran straight into the headwind, and I drafted off him to the finish line in 44:34, roughly 132nd place (14th master), just behind Waldo and a naked guy. ;-)

("Objects under kilt may be larger than they appear")
(There was a lot of THIS going on)
(Just another day on Fell St)
Phew! That was fun, but tiring. I should be running faster these days, but then again, I should be sleeping more than 3 hours at a stretch (thank you, baby Quinn!). Honestly, I'm just so excited to be running anything these days you couldn't get the smile off my face. There is a lot of ambiguity in my life this Spring - no job, no start up company to define my Silicon Valley identity, a new kid and the change she brings to our family dynamics, etc. - it's nice to know at least some adventures in my life have a definitive beginning and end. Start here, end here, celebrate!

I did the cool down walk, making friends with Dusty from San Luis Obispo as we became the first to enter the beer tent. Beer at 8am? Abso-f'ing-lutely. I am unemployed after all. ;-) As the sun warmed us up, I met a lot of great people, including Reggie and Lisa from New Jersey, a couple from the Russian River Valley tackling their first B2B, and many others who trekked far and wide to be a part of this event. There's no doubt that Bay to Breakers is a "must do" race for a lot of people. Once I got a few beers in me, I walked the course backwards to take in the revelry - ain't nothing like it!
(Raggedy Anne does a warm down stretch in GG Park)

(Dusty and I enjoy a bit of sun at the end)
My thanks to the race organizers, police, and citizens of San Francisco to allow this city to celebrate its weirdness. I will certainly be back! Sophie won't possibly miss another one after seeing these pics...

- SD

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Our New Toy - A Running Rickshaw!

We've got a great new toy - a rickshaw! Here is Sophie and I tooling around the Stanford campus...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Trail Runner Robert Brown Kills Wife with Hammer

Avid U.K. trail runner Robert Brown stands trial this week for murdering his wife with a claw hammer last October and burying her in his backyard. Sorry, I should correct that - although he admits to killing her with a hammer, he is pleading "not guilty" to murder. Not sure how that works, but there you go. I've always thought trail runners are do-it-yourself kind of people that make the most of nature, but YOWZA.

(Robert Brown, photo courtesy of Daily Telegraph)
If you've raced trail runs in the last decade, you've probably met Robert. He was a British Airways pilot, and was known to show up regularly at US races in his flight schedule in LA and San Francisco. I raced with Robert in 2004 at the Castle Rock 10-miler (soon to be a distant memory since this park is slated to close in September due to California budget cuts) and in Malibu as well, impressed with his speed and charming 007 vibe. In fact, he was the one that introduced me to Inov-8 shoes! I was surprised when the press contacted me about his case, but I guess it just shows you can only learn so much about a person on the trails.

Charlie Engle, Robert Brown...Ack! I'm turning into the gossip rag of trail running.


Monday, May 02, 2011

No food, no bed, broken shoes - but a winning 65k time in 6:22!

Check out this story from the Sun Star:

21-year-old Aivan Villalon was the last to enter the Labor Day: Coast to Coast Run 65k, and could only do so after the town mayor picked up his travel expenses and entry fee. He then used the pre-race dinner for his only meal that day, slept in a cardboard box across the street from the start, and ran the race in his 3-year-old broken shoes.

He won the 65k race in 6:22.

Wow! That's the last time I complain about my hotel room the night before a race. ;-)