Friday, November 30, 2012

The North Face Challenge Weekend and Drakes Bay Oysters!!!

So this weekend we will be heading up to Marin for the NorthFace Challenge, to watch our kids 10, 8 and 6 run.  No not the 50 miler (even though our 10 year old swears she probably could!), but for the kids race.  We went last year to support our ultra-running buddy Ryan at the finish line and discovered the kids race.  However, the other reason to go this year is to see so many of the elite runners that will be running this year.  It is a deeply packed field with the likes of Mike Wolfe, Lizzy Hawker, and Ian Sharman. With the speedsters vying for records against the more patient runners, it should be an exciting race.

What will be even more fun this year, compared to a dry year last, is that we are experiencing our first major storm which is dumping over 6-inches of rain over the course.  At the time of the writing of this blog, the course had to be modified, which has eliminated Cardiac Hill and shortened the course by 4.5 miles.  The course is really muddy which now favors the more patient runners. You can find the race preview as well as the play-by-play on as well as  In fact the guys from Ultrarunnerpodcast will also be running the race.

The rain is supposed to be the heaviest during the kids race, which should be fun.  It is only 0.5 miles but the kids love it.

If you are also in the area, you might take the extra 45 minute drive north to Olema, and eat at the historic Farm House Restaurant for some of the last Drakes Bay Oysters.  A couple of weeks ago we stumbled upon this place and I experienced the fried version of these succulent creatures.  They also come grilled and, for the more adventurous in my mind, raw versions.  This is probably the last chance you might get since the Drakes Bay Oyster company will not be able to renew their lease and must cease operations today. You can find the story here.

So hope to see you there, fully waterlogged for the North Face Challenge!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Why Are Runners Facinated by Loosing their Toenails?

So what is the fascination with runners and toenails?  I mean, I will admit, it is kind of cool when you run a hard race and your reward, besides the tech shirt and medal, is the loss of at least one of your toe nails.  In fact, you have to question whether you have run as hard as you could have if you do not lose at least one.

What inspired the following Twitter post by You Mght Be a Runner

 “If you can’t remember the last time you had 10 toenails.”

Source: Scott Dunlap's
This is so true.  We as runners celebrate the loss of these small abused shells at the end of our toes.  Our friends and families cheer us on the side of the road with billboards that foretell their imminent demise or to plead to stop their abuse. Even Scott Dunlap blogged about Jan Ryere's toenail necklace.  Gross for sure. 

See my problem has been that I have always had awful toenails.  When I was heavier, I would get a lot of infected hang nails.  Now that is not the problem.  Now it is how my socks rub against my Morton’s toes which mean these are the first nails I loose.  But once they are gone, what returns is, well, not pretty.

So why the fascination?  It is probably one of the few outward signs of what our bodies have gone through.  Yes, we may complain about our varying aches and pains, IT Band problems, shin splint, etc.  However, pain relative to everyone. A blister on the other hand is just a blister due to poor socks or wrong shoes.  

No, when we loose our toenails, we love to talk about them because, like scars, they are battle wounds that we can build a story around.  In fact there are several scars on my legs that I love telling (to the horror of my kids) of my cycling exploits, or the scars on my face when I was a kid.
So next time you lose a toe nail, celebrate it.  Yes its gross, but you’ll grow more!!!

UPDATE!!!:  I would be remiss not to mention URP's Black Toe Nail Hall of Fame which you too can compare your war wounds with others.  Thank to URP's shout-out in their Daily News!!!

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Wonderful Trails at Point Reyes

We have never been to Point Reyes, but it has always been on my list of places to visit in California.  There is so much history here, Sir Francis Drake landed in 1579 to repair his ship, the Golden Hinde, the Point Reyes Lighthouse was completed in 1879, and the epicenter of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake was located here.

But it is funny how, while I have always wanted to visit these areas, running the trails of this National Seashore is what I enjoyed the most.  It has been a month since Beth and I have run on Mt. Diablo, and this was the first weekend since our oldest daughter was born over 10 years ago that we have spent it just us.

We picked up the trail at the Bear Valley Visitor Center.  We followed the Bear Valley Trail, to the Meadow Trail, where we picked up the Mt. Wittenberg Trail where we ran a very fun but technical downhill, and then back to the car.  This also equated to a little under 1,400 feet of elevation gain just under five miles.

I would have to say, this is a very beautiful area to run.  It had been raining up to the point we arrived, so the trail was a bit muddy, but not sloppy.  The uphill Meadow Trail was wonderful.  A lot of ferns, and groves of redwood.  It was very quiet and peaceful.  We came across very few people, which was not surprising with the weather as it was, but when we did, we they were either hiking in to camp at many of the campgrounds in the park.  
The downhill on the Mount Wittenberg Trail was awesome!  Not quite single track, definitely not fire-trail, it was full of ruts, steep drops, rocks to launch yourself off of.  For 2.2 miles, and the drop of the 1,400 feet you just climbed, it was just long enough to make your quads begin to ache but not long enough to take them to the final breaking point.

I would love to know why there aren't any trail running races here.  There are so many trails that it would make an excellent place to host.  I found that between 1995 to 1997, there was the Point Reyes 50K and was somehow related to the Headlands 50K; however, I don't know if it ended because of lack of support, the distance (it is a little out of the way), or if the park decided not renewing the permit or give permission, etc.  But this is an excellent area to have a race.  And since most of the races are concentrated in the Headlands / Sausilito area, there isn't much competition here.

So if there are any Bay Area race directors reading this blog (and there may be a couple),  you might consider Point Reyes for your next event.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cycling or Running at Night

Wouldn't miss me in with this outfit!  Photo:
I also am happy that the East Bay Regional Park district has finally repaved a lot of the Contra Costa Canal Trail.  It used to be when I road in the morning that I would find myself riding into the ruts and divots.  So now I can focus on pine cones and unlit walkers.
So now that the time has changed, I am now riding my bike home in the dark.  Riding in the dark is nothing new, over the past few years I would ride in the morning to work.  However, I am amazed on how many runners and bicyclists I see on the road.

I don’t know if it is because of the influx of new lighting technologies or if people have always exercised in the evening.  But, it sure is nice to know there are other folks on the trail with you.

I am also finding it is pretty peaceful.  Your senses are heightened while you are focused on the lit pavement ahead.  I have to slow down a bit, of course, so my cycling has become a less about beating my last ride home and more about how the ride feels.  I have found I have added four minutes to the ride in the dark.
I have a halogen light that beams a couple hundred yards in front of me.  I also find that I have enough warning if I am coming up on someone or thing.  It also strobes for when I am actually on the street instead of the road. I would have to say though, I really hate having it on or when another cyclist is flashing there headlights toward me. As a courtesy, I typically have the light pointing straight and to my right.  That way I am not blinding any runner or cyclist heading my way.
I also use two red flashing rear lights as well as a reflector.  I put one under my seat as well as one on my backpack.

I take safety seriously.  You have to realize that, whether you are running or if you are cycling, drivers are definitely not looking for you.  It doesn’t matter if you are lit up like a Christmas Tree. So you always have to be looking out for drivers.

So, I am definitely finding my ride in the dark enjoyable.  I also now can see why so many runners us this time to run. If you take the proper safety precautions, and are aware of your suroundings, it can be pretty fun.
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