Make that a Double...

The weekend plans were figured out as I was sitting around with the rest of my coworkers enjoying our last day at the old office. A conversation started to see who would be interested in a long run the following morning. Obviously I was game to try and run a new route, as the nice lake by my house is starting to get that…summer smell.

Mile Markers
The decision was made and we were going to run a Double Dipsea. I had never heard of the Dipsea Trail but I was game...even though I was told there were 700 steps to contest with...I was ready to run/walk/crawl...whatever it took.

Over 3000' of climbing...
The run started at a local elementary school in Mill Valley and from the beginning we started climbing…and climbing…and climbing. Here are a few pictures of the steps within 2 minutes of the run, I was sure were getting those 700 steps out of the way early.

Looking Up
Looking Down

After navigating our way up the steps and through a couple neighborhoods, we finally made our way to the “trail” part of the Dipsea Trail. And just like the previous millions stairs we climbed, there were more. We would go down a ton of steps...and roots...and then more steps...and more roots only to head right back up some a few minutes later. This was by far the toughest run I have ever done. I wish I could say that I didn’t walk but I would be just play lying. I was walking up steps left and right...well kind of more straight forward but you get the point.

Amazing View (Pacific Ocean in the distance)

But just like every trail run I have been on around here, there are moments when the views make all the pain and suffering TOTALLY worth it. After winding our way through a couple valleys, down some super steep steps and along some very cool paths, we were greeted with a view of the Pacific Ocean. Absolutely amazing.

Stinson Beach in the distance...we ran to that too
See :)
Now since the Dipsea Trail is a point-to-point trail and we were doing the “Double” Dipsea, we had to head back. I definitely think heading back was easier, if you call running that trail easy, and seem to go by quite a bit faster. I am guessing it is because I was able to mentally prepare myself for the torture I was putting my legs through.

A cool bridge we ran across!
Steps Down...and Up I guess since we ran them both ways :)

The trail is just under 7.5 miles long for a total of 15 miles of up and down stairs, roots and dirt trails and WAY more than 700 stairs especially if you count the thousands of roots along the way. Still it was a very cool run and just the beginning of a long weekend of training.

The Landscape Architect in me LOVES the simplicity of this sign...Very Cool!


Running the trails of Redwood Park...

With the asphalt roads and concrete sidewalks getting rather boring, I have been trying to get out and see what running trails are near my apartment. Now by near, I unfortunately don't be just down the block like back home but close enough to drive and not feel like I am in the car all day.

A couple weekends ago I was feeling pretty recovered...or basically I skipped a few workouts during the week and thought it might be best to go torture myself on a long trail run. Having no idea where to go, I googled 'trail run east bay' and came up with a local race that happened back in February. The website had detailed descriptions of the course, maps, elevations and turn-by-turn directions...basically a perfect fit for a guy who has no idea where anything is around here.

Not sure this elevation map does ANY justice on exactly how steep some of these sections were.

I had rode past the entrance to Redwood Park on "My Favorite Loop" ride a few times and when I found the trail run online, I knew this was where I was going to go. I loaded up with a few gels, a camera and my directions and was off for a 20K or about 12.5 miles. This was going to be my longest run in basically forever and throw in the difficulty of trails, I knew it was going to be tough.

Nice clear path after a super steep climb to start off...but I am starting to understand
no mater what sport you are doing here, it is uphill. I am just waiting to swim uphill next.

Another Amazing View

Cool Cover Trail

Loved this part.

Stream Trail- 3 miles home
West Ridge Trail- 6 miles home
Only one way to go...
Some single track trails...was definitely worried about Poison Oak but
pretty hard to tell with all the other plants. 

I really enjoyed the run. I might have been a bit overzealous when I picked the 20k loop as I was struggling quite a bit near the end but I made it back to my car in one piece. And with any trail run will come a bath for my legs in rubbing alcohol to make sure I do not get another case of Poison Oak. 

The smell is intoxicating...I should probably start
marketing it as a body wash, Axe has nothing on me :) 
I do feel like I am finally getting some running legs under me and though I can't say that I love running, once I get out there no matter how hard it gets, I am really starting to enjoy running...though it could definitely use a touch or sounds of my peeps from the northwest to make it even better.


San Jose Metro Triathlon - Race Report

First of all I want to start out by saying how impressed I was with this entire race. From the organization of transitions, to the music and announcements but most importantly, it was the in-race efforts that I most appreciated. I am not kidding when I say there was a police officer at EVERY intersection, cones and arrows at EVERY corner and people telling you exactly where to go. I have done many races, Ironman included and this is top-notch. I didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony but the 3 tables full of bottles of wine were a sure bet that this event was legit from beginning to end.

Swim and Expo Area
There is always a little bit of fear when getting ready for your first race of the year. Not knowing where your fitness really is, will you remember to do all the “small” things leading up to and during the race, will you take your helmet off before you head out for the run…you know, all the things that you might just forget.

My last race was in September, I spent much of the last month getting over a cold and poison oak, so much of my training was hit and miss. Riding has been most consistent but nothing more than some base miles. Running has been going ok but I never get out as much as I need to, but honestly that has been the problem since I started this sport. And swimming…well let’s just say I forgot the smell of chlorine…Yeah it’s THAT bad. I swam last Thursday just to see if remembered how to do it. Another athlete at the race made a funny comment and referenced it to that “Last Chance Workout” they do on Biggest Loser…that was my last chance swim workout before the race.

Swim Course (out around the island twice)
Just like every race morning, the alarm goes off WAY to early and I was out of bed by 4:05am and out the door 30 minutes later. It was about an hour drive down to the race site and like always, wanted to give myself plenty of time. I was ready to go with over an hour to spare…perfect in triathlon time.

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So with a little extra time, I took a moment to familiarize myself with the transition entrances and exits along with the first parts of the bike and run course. Mentally I was ready to go…it was only a matter of time until I would see if I was physically ready as well.

After struggling into my wetsuit and a quick warm-up swim, I was toeing the water’s edge ready to go. With a lack of confidence in my swimming fitness, I really forced myself to go out easy. I usually try to start fast before settling into a hard but good pace. I didn’t feel that would be a good approach at this race since it could leave me doggy paddling the rest of the race.

Photo by: Tom Vo

I was surprised on how comfortable and strong I felt throughout the swim. I knew I wasn’t going real fast but at the same time, I felt like I was working hard and didn’t feel like I faded…definitely a plus considering the last month. And if it wasn’t for the guy who kept touching my feet the ENTIRE swim, it would have been perfect and considering it was a 2-loop swim, with quick beach run…Ironman CDA-esque, well minus the few thousand fans cheering you on. I exited the water knowing I might have been able to go just a little harder but knew that I could have easily gone too hard and suffered the rest of the race. Swim Time: 25:31 (but I think this counts the run up to transition too).

Photo by: Tom Vo

Up and into transition I went. This is kind of my self-proclaimed specialty and for the first transition of the season, it went surprisingly smooth. I even did the whole flying mount onto the bike...SUCCESS!!!

Photo by: Tom Vo

Once on the bike, I still had to force myself to hold back. I wanted to push myself but at the same time REALLY didn’t want to blow up on the run. The course was flat and fast which can easily lead to pushing yourself harder than you really should. This was my fastest 40k (1:04:57) to date but I contribute that to the fast course and to these damn hills surrounding the East Bay.

Photo by: Tom Vo

Coming off the bike, I really wanted to see where my run fitness was at. So far I had only done 1 transition workout and that was after a 3 hour ride. Not a real good gauge on 10k fitness. I was surprised to feel my legs under me right from the start. I was passed pretty quickly by a couple of guys who disappeared in no time but I was just focused on putting together a solid run.

Photo by: Tom Vo

Without a watch, all I focused on was my effort. I wanted to make it to the turn-a-round and then begin to pick up the pace with each passing mile. This was by no means my fastest run off the bike but I really felt it was my smartest. Each time I wanted to speed up, the legs responded…especially when I heard one guy chasing me down.

Photo by: Tom Vo

I was able to hold him off and finish with a 43:23 or what I like to call… sub 7’s at 6:59.8!!! It felt like I was running faster but it was nice to “feel” what this pace felt like and now I know I can begin to push myself more and more.

Photo by: Tom Vo

All in all, this was a great race. I think this is my second fastest ever Olympic (2:15:37) and for the first race of the season with all that has been going on over the past 2 months, I will take it. I was impressed by the race itself and glad to get my first race of the year under my belt and finally some numbers to look at.