Thursday, August 17, 2017

Smart Clothing Expected to Hit $4B by 2024

The era of smart clothing is about to break open, according to a new market study from Global Insights that says this industry will grow 50% annually to $4B+ in the next eight years. Sensors and haptic feedback are expected to move from watches, bands, and independent devices to be an integral part of the t-shirts, shoes, and jackets of the future.

Fitness is just one industry driving the trend, with health care and military applications also providing a big boost. They all share the desire to use real-time feedback and artificial intelligence to determine health levels, track goals, monitor form, and prevent injury. A seamless integration of tech and clothing also has the potential to rapidly change industries - imagine getting lower insurance rates for clocking your daily workouts, or custom supplements shipped to your door based on your chemical balance and level of workout.  Prices are still a bit on the high side, but if these projections are accurate, these should quickly become affordable.

(Projected growth in smart clothing, according to Global Insights)
If you like to track the intersection of tech and health, you've probably seen a few of these products announced. Here are a few that I find interesting:

The Australian company makes a yoga pant called the Nadia X that gently pulses to help you adjust your form and hold your yoga poses properly.

Lumo Body Tech makes a pair of shorts that helps you optimize your stride by measuring cadence, bounce, pelvic rotation, and braking and giving you audio clues in real time.

Canada's Hexoskin makes a complete triathlon suit that measures heart rate, breathing, and more to provide insight into intensity and recovery, calories burned, overtraining, and sleep quality.

Athos uses micro-EMG sensors in clothes to detect how much your muscles are working, heart rate, and breathing to get your workouts dialed. This is one of many "muscle exertion tracking" technologies coming to the market.

The market study says it is good 'ole t-shirts and shoes that will lead the way, but we clearly are going to see a lot of cool breakthroughs across the board. Data junkies will get their fill for sure!

For the rest of us, I'm sure regular old t-shirts will continue to be available and culturally accepted. Whatever it takes to get you outside and running is cool by me.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

New Skyline Trail In The Works for Woodside/San Mateo?

Good news! The San Francisco Planning Department is investigating the environmental impact of a new trail that would allow hikers/runners to run all the way from Huddart Park/Phleger Estate to Hwy 92 (and potentially beyond)! It's part of the Bay Area Trail initiative to make a 500-mile loop around the entire Bay Area.

(Excerpt from the proposal - red is the new trail, yellow is a new easement, blue are trails that exist but on a permit basis only today)
Those that know this ridge can attest this would be some great trail running. Here's a snapshot of the view of this spot from last night, with the sun setting into the marine cloud layer as it rolls in from the ocean. Once the air cooled, the clouds came in like a flume...this will make for some epic hikes and runs!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The 2017 San Francisco Marathon 52.4 Mile Ultra - Two Sides Of A Great City

Have you ever been to the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco at 1am, weaving through the loud and crazy nightlife revelers, only to have those city vampires stare awestruck and say " THAT guy is strange!"?

Ever run through the eerie calm of an empty Golden Gate Park and Presidio, dodging nocturnal wildlings of all shapes and sizes, and having to sprint from an owl attacking the glow of your headlight?

How about tracing that same route the next morning, joined by 29,000 others and cheered by a half a million more?

Thus is the unique experience that is the 2017 San Francisco Marathon 52.4 Mile Ultra, a double marathon option of this iconic big city race. Run the San Francisco Marathon course backwards at midnight with a crew of mobile aid stations, then join 29,000 runners at 5:30am to run the full marathon as the sun rises...a true urban ultramarathon to show you two sides of the same city.

It was Dean Karnazes who cooked up this scheme six years ago (he's known to run to the start of many of the big city marathons), and I've always wondered what it would be like to double up. Is it similar to back to back long runs? Or more like a 50-miler with a reaaaally long aid station break half way through? This was a chance to find out, and do so in the experienced hands of Race Directors Karen Tancuan, Lauri Abrahamsen, and Jason Clendenning, with the Immortal Race Crew handling mobile logistics. I was definitely in!

San Francisco Marathon Ultra - The First Lap

The run format shook up my normal race routine from the moment I left for the midnight start. I put the kids to bed, left my pajama-clad wife watching Game of Thrones with a glass of wine in her hand (and shaking her head in disbelief that I would opt for running over this), and suited up. About 60 other ultrarunners were there at the start, and I heard lots of different planned approaches to the race:
  • Four-time 52.4 winner and marathon fanatic Graham Hedger was going out fast with the ideal low 60's weather. 
  • Kowsik Guruswamy was going to take it easy so he could pace his friend through a first marathon in the morning. 
  • Abel Alejandrino was raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, proudly displaying his daughters picture, and prepping for the Angeles Crest 100m in a month. 
  • Another runner planned to make it back in time to officially pace the 5-hour finishers (or not!).
  • A young man from L.A. (with mother in tow) said he wanted to check the boxes for "saw San Francisco" and "ran an ultra" before he headed off to college in Pennsylvania in a few days. 
(Dean gives us a few words before the race starts, photo courtesy of Kowsik)
Dean Karnazes was here to make friends and enjoy the day, and was well on his way to both when he welcomed everyone at the start. The horn sounded right afterwards, and we headed down the Embarcadero. Let the adventure begin!

(There are friends who cheer, and then there are friends who show up at midnight with signs to cheer...Gabi wins!)
(The few, the crazy, the SF ultrarunners!)
("When the lights...go the city", we run!)
I cruised along at my aerobic 7:30 min/mile pace (my goal for the whole day), and within two miles was well behind Graham Hedger in the lead. The lead bike had to go with the fast Brit, and the next thing we knew we were on our own for navigation! There were arrows and signs, but the city was alive and bustling with traffic, so you had to keep your eyes open (ears too - RunGo's turn-by-turn navigation of the course was a must). Abel and Carlsbad, CA's Stefan Asbock were smart enough to pair up a half mile behind me, as did most of the other runners.

I had foolishly thought the streets would be empty, forgetting this is a perfect summer night for clubbing in the Dogpatch, Mission, and Haight districts. The sidewalks overflowed with bacchanal on busy corners, and given the roads weren't blocked off for the marathon yet, we did our best to navigate through them. Luckily the cop-like brightness of my headlamp split most packs like Moses through the Red Sea. I'm sure a "you there...freeze!" would have been an order of magnitude more effective.
(City night running is fun! When it's empty...)
A few enlightened souls joined me running down Haight Street (mile 6), happy to share wine, herb, laughter, and song. My water bottles were empty, so it was tempting, but soon enough I found Robert Rhodes managing the mobile aid station (mile 7.5). He filled me up and sent me into Golden Gate Park, where I poorly navigated the sprinklers popping up everywhere.

(Dean gets a refill at the mobile aid station, photo courtesy of Robert Rhodes)
The park was eerily quiet and foggy, and aside from a few large raccoon and deer, there wasn't a soul to be seen. Usually this park has thousands of people in strange to find it empty! Like the zombie apocalypse had drowned out the sun. Somewhere in the fog around the lake I made a wrong turn, but RunGo had me back on track within a half mile, and Chris Blagg and the Immortal Race Crew magically appeared to point me downhill towards the ocean and get back on track.

(Raccoons get to work, ha, ha)
I got one last glimpse of Graham (easily two miles ahead of me now) at the half way point, which I hit in 1 hr 44 min. That seemed like a good pace - fast, but not so fast I couldn't hold it through the next 1.5 marathons. The ocean tugged the fog in ebbs and flows as I ran along the Great Highway, and the headlights of fellow ultrarunners sparkled in the distance. I ran back up into the park, and made a quarter mile detour to get another runner back on track (she would have done the same for me) before hitting the neighborhoods. There aren't many neighbors out at 2am, but surprisingly, those that are walk their dogs and meet each other just like any other time of day. There wasn't anything strange about a guy running with a headlight and a number either - they just nodded!

As I got to the Presidio (mile 18), the street lights were few and far between, amplifying the solitude. I felt the wings of a bird come within a few feet of me....then again....then on the third try I realized it was an owl going for my headlight! Wha?!? What is the proper defense strategy for owl attacks, anyway? Go big and loud like you do with mountain lions? Play dead like with grizzly bears? I opted for the former, throwing in a sprint to the next aid station (mile 20.5), where Robert and the gang said they had been seeing that owl for the last 10 minutes. I guess we are on his turf!

(Robert Rhodes mans the mobile aid out for owls!)
I took the familiar path down to Crissy Field, watching the lights of the Bay Bridge reflect in the still waters of the Bay. This was fun! As I crossed into Fisherman's Wharf, dozens of rats scurried away from the trash cans set outside the chain restaurants, pretty much guaranteeing I will never, ever eat down there. Mary the bike guide rescued me and pulled me down the idle trolley tracks and into the finish in 3:36:29.

I had two hours to collect myself for lap #2, so I followed Graham's lead and got a full breakfast, plenty of water, and a 15-minute massage. Graham had finished in a screaming fast 3:05(!), but was already worried it would cost him in the second half. We were both far too energized from runners coming in to take a nap, so we changed into dry clothes and got ready for part two! The fresh pair of Injinji socks felt great, and the cushy inov-8 Trailroc 285's were handling the uneven pavement with ease.

San Francisco Marathon Ultra - The Second Lap
The SF Marathon, now in its 40th running, is a BIG race these days. I've run it a few times, but the record setting 29,000 runners who showed up today for 10k, two half marathon options, and the full marathon distances leave no doubt this race is now one of the biggies. In the starting corral, I heard no less than six languages, all of them excited to see the historic sites, and more than one busting out Journey's "Lights". I was feeling tired from the all-nighter (I am no spring chicken), but their energy was better than an espresso double shot!

(And the marathon begins!)
The rats were gone by the time this army of runners made their way to the Golden Gate Bridge (thank god), and I wondered if they were under the grates looking at us in a similarly disgusted fashion. The weather was cooler and windier now, the bridge a faint dusting of red in the fog. I assured the tourist runners "it was just there a few hours ago, I swear" as we climbed our way up into the wind.

(Friends find each other in the fog)
Four runners came across the foggy bridge in diamond formation, leading the race like the Blue Angels as we begin our out and back. Our own Jorge Maravilla was the lead jet, confidently pulling the pack through the headwind. The fog had a nice cooling effect, and most of the runners around me said it was preferable, despite missing the scenery.

(Kowsik has some fun crossing the bridge with runner cops)
My friend Joe Palubeski miraculously spotted me among the runners (he has a gift!) as he paced his buddy through his first marathon and captured it all on his GoPro. As we made our way across and back on the bridge, I realized this pace was going to keep me close to about two dozen runners around me. A Canadian women with rainbow braids, a 70-year man from Mexico with the coolest mustache, a 30-year-old guy from the Tahiti Tri Club, and a husband/wife couple from Spain with matching outfits, right down to the lycra pants covering their respective thongs (yes, you read that right). Hey, whatever makes you go fast!

(Runners take over the bridge, photo courtesy of Chris Lundy)
Once we entered the park (mile 10), the SF Marathon applied its genius logistics to infuse new runners from half marathons every mile or so. Some were fast, some were slow, and everyone was having a good time. I ran along with a group of 1:45 half marathoners, enjoying the look on their face when they asked "half or full?" and I responded "double". "What the faaaaahhhh.....duuuuuude!!!". ;-)

(Watch for sharks...)
It was easy to get around the lake correctly this time, and soon enough we were heading through the Haight again and downhill towards the Bay (mile 18). My energy started to wain (much like it often does at mile 40), and it was fascinating this felt exactly the same as if I hadn't taken a two hour break. I gorged on Stroopwafels, and leaned into the hill.

The sun burned bright in the last few miles, and I slowed to a 9 min/mile pace as the sun drained what little was left in my tank. It felt anti-climactic, right up until the announced said "an ultra finisher!" and the crowd went crazy. How fun! So rare to have such an audience at an ultra finish. I had crossed in 3:41:02, good enough for a combined time of 7:17:21 and 2nd Overall in the ultra. The volunteers jokingly gave me two of everything (water, bagels, protein bars, etc.), and when I took them up on two beers, I was asleep on a cot within five minutes. Whoops!

(With Penny "rubber chicken lady" Macphail, who said Jorge's son had stolen her chicken and hadn't been caught yet)
I woke up 20 minutes later, and rallied to come out and cheer on the other ultra finishers and thank the volunteers. Graham Hedger added his fifth win with an outstanding combined time of 6:31, and Stefan Asbock had an 18-minute negative split to come in third in 7:28. Abigail Cannon (9:50), Gabriel Anderson (10:18), and Alyssa Perry (12:32) filled out the Women's podium. (results) Jorge Maravilla had won the marathon in a crazy fast 2:28:23 (!), with Stanford student Devin McMahon winning the Women's in 2:52:49. (all results) The finish line was full of bling, with all kinds of extra medals for completing both half marathons, all distances, at least 40 miles, and more. The celebration was in full swing!

(Jorge Maravilla for the win!)
Was the double worth it? Hell yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely. I have two new sets of memories to broaden my perspective on this great city. One thing for sure, with vampires, scavengers, swooping giant birds, and an unstoppable army, Game of Thrones has nothing on the San Francisco Marathon Ultra. My thanks to Dean, the RD's, and Immortal Race Crew for making it happen!

- SD

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Butte to Butte 10k....Short Races Are Fun Too!

"I don't know what the Butt to Butt is, but it sounds amazing." 
- Guy In Line Behind Me At Starbucks Reading My Shirt

Well, the race is actually called the Butte to Butte 10k, but I had to agree that it was amazing. This July 4th event in Eugene, OR (Track Town USA!) follows a point-to-point route between the two big hills in town, Spencer Butte and Skinners Butte. Now in its 43rd year, this race attracts top track and road runners, costumed locals, and plenty of families for some early morning fun. I know it as a staple race in my former hometown (go South Eugene High!), but one I had yet to run. Great course, lots of smiles, and you're done within the hour...a perfect way to break up a week of vacation in Oregon.

(Back in the day...Olympian Kenny Moore wins in 1974)
My Dad, Larry Dunlap, joined me to toe the line for his 20-something'ish running of the B2B, even though he was just coming off of a 360-mile week of cycling. What a bad ass! In any other town, he may be the only one in the M75-79 age group, but here, competition is stacked all the way up to M85+. And they look fit! That's Track Town USA, for ya. We jogged our way to the uphill start, as the warm 80 degree day got cooking.

(32 minute runners up front? Everyone step baaaaack....)
In the starter chute, they asked "sub 32 minute runners to step to the front" and about 30 complied. Wowza! This is a fast town. In fact, there have been many sub-30 minute finishers, starting with Olympian Kenny Moore's 28:34 inaugural win in 1974. My untrained-for-speed body was thinking a sub-40 minute finish would be nice, which I quickly found out was the pace of some 12-year-olds, fast grandmas, and a costumed teen playing a ukulele. Humbling, to say the least.

(Locals represent)
(Happy 4th!)
(This family wins best coordinated costume!)
The pace was fierce from the get-go, but I was able to catch many others on the long descent at mile 2-3. My top speed on the remaining flat stuff was about a 5:50 min/mile, and it sure felt like I was red lining. I caught up to Melissa Todd and Betsy Bies going stride for stride for 2nd Woman, and hung on their shoulders until they gave each other that steely-eyed look and kicked hard to the finish. They gapped me by 15 seconds in two blocks...that's some real racing!

(The original race...a trail run!)
(Thanks for those genes, Dad!)
I did manage to finish in 38:39, second in my age group (darn you, speedy Cameron Hanes!), but more impressively, my Dad cleaned house in the M75-79 group with a 56:28! Tony Clement (30:45) and Jenn Randall (36:16) won overall, keeping this race extremely competitive yet again. It all seems so impossibly fast, particularly as I see the Cascade Crest 100m next on my race list. But it sure is fun!

It seems like every time we visit Oregon, it deepens our yearning for the Pacific Northwest. The next couple of days were filled with nostalgic runs, days at the Oregon Country Fair with the coolest hippies around, beach trips, and a dozen new stamps in our McMenamins Passport for visiting pubs and breweries, and some gorgeous thick trails along the Portland skyline. This is a truly beautiful place! Let's find a reason to come back soon.

(The Country Fair is a wonderful gathering...)

(...of all shapes, sizes, and colors!)
(The Wildwood Trail of Portland never disappoints)
(I guess I wore the right shirt!)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The 107th Dipsea Race - Lessons Learned

"Oh, you're fast just didn't want it enough."

Such was the feedback given to me by a 24-time Dipsea runner at the finish line, soon after I gasped to a personally disappointing 126th place (1:00:51). This was just after he scolded me (loudly) for NOT pushing him to the side when careening down the crooked stairs of Steep Ravine, an act that would be considered an assault charge on any other day of the year. But on Dipsea day, you have to give everything for every place, and my new friend was correctly pointing out that I had not. This was a day of lessons learned.

I had high hopes for the 107th running of this 7.2 mile classic cross country race, even though it was only my second time running it. Last year I was in the "runner" section, and had finished fast enough to get an "invitational" entry this year where I assumed the pace would be faster. I was old enough to get a six minute head start (the race is handicapped by age), so if I just took a few minutes off my raw time from the previous year, I had a shot at one of the coveted "black shirts" given to the top 35 finishers. My fitness was good (more tuned for marathons or longer, but still) and the weather was felt like the stars were aligning.

(I'm coming for you!!!)
My inspiration was on full stoke as well. I started running the Dipsea in honor of my great uncle, Ray Morris, whom on his death bed two years ago made me promise I would honor his 17 finishes and 3 black shirts by "giving it a go" (thus gifting me the right "sob story" to actually be accepted to run the race). I had a fancy new Rabbit singlet covered with inspiring women ultrarunners that was worth at least a 45-second boost, and the brand new inov-8 TRAILROC 285 shoes that had quickly become my favorite downhill running shoe. One of my running heroes, Amby Burfoot (winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon and editor of Runner's World), was going to be running along with us, and a one week sit-on-a-boat-and-drink-beer vacation was lined up the day after the finish. What more could I need?!?

(Hanging with Amby Burfoot!)
(My Uncle Ray, running the Bay to Breakers with my Dad in the early 70's)
(Time to do this!)
(The famous Dipsea stairs, photo courtesy of
(If you've got road, PASS!!! Photo courtesy of
(77-year-old Hans Schmidt en route to 35th place, photo courtesy of
Well, as it turns out, I needed more race experience, ferocity, and training specificity. Here are a few things I figured out:
  • For a fast runner, the "invitational" section is actually more crowded than the "runner" section. Last year as a "runner", I was able to enjoy a few miles by myself in the second half, but it was butts 2-3 wide the whole way this year. 
  • Unlike the "runners", most "invitational" runners don't step aside for faster runners, even if you ask. I got caught up behind 10-year-olds on Suicide, and 70-year-olds on the Swoop, and easily lost four minutes waiting for places to pass. The runners who got by them (and me) didn't wait at all, even if it meant a few elbows and some bushwhacking in the poison oak. 
  • It's not enough to be familiar with the Dipsea Trail, you need to know it cold. Particularly the left eight inches of the Dipsea Trail where you will be passing people. 
  • The climbs are everything. In comparing my splits with black shirt finishers, they were taking the steeper climbs like Dynamite and Cardiac 1-3 minutes faster than me. That means they were full red line and had the leg cannons to back it up. 
  • There really are some undocumented shortcuts out there. I kept seeing the same runners popping up in front of me like a glitch in The Matrix. Time to train with some locals! 
  • You get your "old person" extra minutes because you need them. Even Galen Burrell, a many-time Dipsea top finisher (5th here today) commented "I thought with one extra minute I was going to crush it...turns out I needed every one of those 60 seconds to hold the same place I got last year". 
  • You have to pass while running down stairs. You HAVE to. Just make that decision before you start. 
So, plenty of lessons learned. My Uncle Ray had tried to tell me this, saying I shouldn't expect to do well in my first 3-4 runnings. I guess I'll have to come back again and "give it another go". 

(Chris Lundy lines up with previous winners)
(Chris gets the champagne shower)
(Runners of all ages!)
(50 finishes!)
(The top finishers)
Personal setbacks aside, the Dipsea Race was a great experience, and once again a tremendous source of inspiration. I got to run with Amby for a few steps, climbed Hogsback with some wicked-fast 12-year-olds, watched Chris Lundy become the first women to win the Dipsea in decades, see Alex Varner pick up 2nd place (his best yet!) and his 7th fastest time award, and talk to former winner Hans Schmidt, who at age 77 took the coveted 35th place black shirt. In the grand scheme of things, 126th place isn't bad (and it is auto-entry for "invitational" next year) and much like all of these superstars, I am grateful for health, adventure, and perspective.

This is one of those races that seems to allow fitness to defy time, both young and old. I will certainly be back, hopefully in black!