Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Farther and faster in Runner's World: consecration?

Just kidding, the traffic on my blog is so low compared to some others, and the one of my blog master, Scott Dunlap, in particular, nothing to brag about. But...

What a good surprise to see the two words associated in one article title in Runner's World, a prominent magazine in the running community! Well, maybe not the ultra community, "just" the "up to the marathon" running community. Which is not too bad, several tens of thousands of people. And a community I still belong to, splitting my 2007 season between 7 road and 10 ultra trail races. Yes, I've one foot in each community, I subscribe and avidly read every issue of these publications, on both sides of the 26.2-mile "fence":
  1. Runner's World
  2. UltraRunning Magazine
  3. TrailRunner
  4. California Track & Running News
  5. UltraFondus (in French)

Here is the introduction to the article as published by Active.com, the text which caught my attention:

"As runners, we all want to increase our endurance, but we're often referring to two different things: speed and distance. Here are seven simple plans for running farther and faster."

And the full story: BOOST YOUR ENDURANCE - Seven simple plans for running farther and faster, by Amby Burfoot. A piece of a series of Training Essentials must-read articles.

Farther and Faster, that's what I am talking about! ;-)

PS#1: just received my December issue of Runner's World this afternoon, see you later...

PS#2: this image comes from my last adventure in Costa Rica where I got my wallet stolen, so could not leave the country for several weeks. Just a private joke at my company for making the cover page of Runner's World!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Whiskeytown 50K: F as in...

F as in...

A strange title, isn't? This week I was attending the 10th Business Rules Forum for ILOG, in Orlando, Florida. Between the time spent on the plane or in the hotel, such business trips provides opportunity to read newspapers I'm not used to at home. On Thursday, one article caught my attention Personal Best - Keeping The Gauge Off 'E' (E as in Empty). Or maybe it was the nice pair of legs next to it, illustrating an article on fashion and lingerie, in the ThursdayStyles section... Anyway, it was indeed an article on running, the NYTimes getting geared toward the upcoming big weekend of the New York Marathon (November 4), preceded by the US Olympics Marathon Trials on Saturday 3rd, gathering la crème de la crème of US marathoners in Central Park.

The article was actually nice, about the need to pace yourself, not a bad advice when you have 38,000 runners on the starting line of such event. A side column, 26 Miles of 'Om', included some tips from champions such as Meb Keflezhighi, Rod Dixon, Bill Rodgers. But the one I liked the best was this paragraph:
KATE O’NEILL, a member of the 2004 United States Olympic 10,000-meter team who this month ran her first marathon in Chicago’s heat, managing a 2:36:15. “I had a fifth-grade teacher who loved alliterations and encouraged us to use them as much as possible. So my mantra is ‘fun, fast, fluid and focused.’”
Fun, fast, fluid and focused, you see where my F as in... is coming from!

F as in... flying and freedom

Let's get back to the Whiskeytown 50K. It was the first time I was running this race so, on the starting line, I told Bev (Anderson-Abbs) we just have to follow her as she is so fast and almost local (from Red Bluff, about 35 miles South of Redding, Redding being 15 miles from the start at Whiskeytown Lake). Ron (Gutierrez) was there too. The race starts on the road for 1 mile and road racing is my specialty so I took the lead right off the start after exchanging a few words with Ron who was delighted with the colorful autumnal leaves. Flying like on this picture at mile 20, getting separated from your shadow, the key difference between running and walking:

F as in... feline

Around mile 6 I had the joy to see a bobcat. He was walking up the hill and I was running light enough so he didn't see me approaching from behind. I was less than 50 ft away when he finally heard me and ran off. Maybe not in fun way for him, but surely fast and fluid!

F as in... food and fluids

Not Kate O'Neil's fluid way to run. Or the one you can experience in the runner's high, which I did for instance from mile 16 to 18, flying down. But the various drinks so essential to maintaining your form through out such a long and strenuous exercise. I decided to run with one bottle, with my favorite lemon GU2O. Taking water and Coke and filling in the bottle with water at each aid station. Of course this dilutes the ideal proportion of the electrolyte so I carried with me a bag of powder (2 spoons) from which Agnès put half in my bottle at the 12-mile aid station and the other half at 20 miles. Was it enough electrolyte? If not, does that explain the nausea I experienced hiking up the Mill Creek trail between mile 21 and 23?

As for the food (yet another F as in...), I took 1 piece of banana, 1 GU and 1 S-cap every hour. And some potato chips at mile 20. On the low side for an ultra, but trying to hand as shortly as possible in aid stations.

F as in... fatigue and fear

I had no strategy to race against anyone but me here. Even if Mark Lantz would have shown up, I would have let him go ahead if he wanted to do so. Like some others, I read with amusement the suspense of the final match between Mark (Tanaka) and Ron at the end of Firetrails 50-mile: Early Halloween Horrors at Firetrails 50 (a must read! ;-). I took the lead without thinking, like I did at Skyline 50K. Like I was on my own, like it was an intense training run.
By mile 20, I was still on a 8:07 minute/mile pace, enough to match last year's course record set by Hal Koerner, who won Western States this year. And, looking at the course profile before the race, I thought the toughest was behind us in terms of climb. What was I thinking?

Getting in the 20-mile aid station then (Tower House Historic District), Agnès tells me Ron was 4 minutes behind me at mile 13 (aid station #3). I said "ouch!" and she asked "isn't it a lot?" I replied it was nothing on such a long race and ran off, after leaving my gloves, buff, and ZombieRunner's Moeben sleeves to her.

At the start, race director John Luaces told us that the creek was low this year so we shouldn't get our feet wet. Or maybe did he say or mean, not too wet. Anyway, between aid station 1 and 2, we had to cross a creek 3 or 4 times and I indeed managed to keep my feet dry, losing a couple of seconds at each crossing. Right below the 3rd aid station (mile 12.8) I slipped in the creek though; I was hoping we were done with creek crossing, not my favorite part of trail running in general and Way Too Cool in particular. And, indeed, no more water until... mile 21 for this infamous Mill Creek trail. Is it 20 or more epic crossings over one mile? I was not counting, but I'd say definitely more than 15. Some where you could barely see the trail on the other side and had to jump through bushes. A barely runnable section. However, I feel we were lucky with the weather, as I can't imagine how harder this section must be under pouring rain, which must happen often at this season given the proximity with Oregon and some nearby mountains.

Pretty much following Mark Tanaka's story, I was then taken by the fear of seeing Ron rushing on me as I was struggling restarting the machine after each crossing. To add to the fear, I was feeling a bit tired but more importantly, really nauseous. In the last mile before the 6th aid station at Boulder Creek Trail, I walked and jog, thinking of Tim Twietmeyer's advice: "if you get sick, get sick!"(see my Western States training camp write-up). I was thinking of making me throw-up and decided to wait for after the coming aid station. Which was wise as the nausea disappeared in the final duel with Ron. So the nausea might have just been caused by some sea sickness caused by going back and forth on the short switchbacks. Sea sickness which I'm subject to on boats, enjoying firm ground much more than water and sea. Sea sickness, likely not something which came in trail ultra running discussions before!

F as in... fight and frustration

Here we are, mile 24.5 and losing the lead to Ron who barely stopped at the aid station as I was trying out what to do to fix the nausea. And 7 hilly miles to go. Plus Bev who I imagined close behind us, although Ron said there was a guy coming 1 minute or so behind him (Agnès told me later that Patrick Dellapace and Ron were indeed together at mile 20).

A section of the race which shown my lack of training over the past two months. Some cramps were coming like at Skyline 50K, but it was more the lack of mental toughness which was letting me lose ground to Ron on the uphills. And catching up on the downhills, to the point I caught him at the final aid station at mile 28. Although I could see him in a distance, I lost 1 minute and a half in the final uphill, which I couldn't make up in the final 2 miles down to the lake and marina. 1'25" between us at the finish, and Bev 1'31" behind me, that was quite a close finish and we all benefited from some pull or push from each other. Exchanging some of our frustrations with Bev:

23-year old Patrick DellaPace came fourth, 50" before Alan Abbs who smashed his personal best on this course. See the complete results on the SWEAT web site. Below are the top 5 finishers at the start, from right to left: Ron (1st overall, bib #6, white cap and top), Alan (5th) and Bev (3rd) Abbs running for Team Sunsweet, me (2nd) and Patrick (4th, bib #24):

In retrospective I'm ashamed to be frustrated with such a result. Especially as I had no precise goal, so it's frustration against dreams which got formed during the run, once everything was going fine. Like Agnès says, a few years ago I was just running to finish and now I turned to being so competitive. A good lesson to keep the fun in perspective... By the way, even Bev seemed a bit frustrated not getting under 4:30. Despite setting a new course record for her age group and all the women age groups actually, taking first overall and the PA USA Track & Field 50K title (after the National title on this distance at Headlands 50K in August).

F as in... running flats

Seems a bit off topic but just a mention of running flats as there has been some related discussion in the ultra mailing list recently. Although there are some parts very runnable, and not just the road sections, definitely not a course to use flats on with all the creek crossings. As for me I wore my Brooks Trance which were perfect for the rolling sections, and ok for the creek crossing although more grip would help in this section.

F as in... friendly

How not to be friendly with all these volunteers giving their time so we can enjoy the trail and competition. From the organization, registration, website, check-in, the all you can eat and drink buffets along the course, and the soup at the finish. Despite the intensity and pressure of the competition, I try to be as friendly with everyone, at least I feel I'm getting better at it.

Two weeks ago I was getting my bib for the 20K of Paris. When I thanked the guy hanging me the packet, he looked surprised, but not even positively surprised, almost feeling assaulted. He replied "Hey, I've been here and doing that for 15 years!" I apologized... Although this may contain some cultural difference with regard to customer service, this also shows a major difference between our friendly ultra runs and the anonymous multi-thousand crowd events. Here are the nice --and cool as you can tell from the outfit-- aid station #3 crew:

F as in... foliage, forest and fall

By fall I mean Autumn, not falling. Well, falling leaves. The course is very shady, going through a wonderful and very diversified forest. With wonderful color tones at this period of the year, and dead leaves softening the trail. Being focused I missed the advertised views of the nearby summits and dormant volcanoes, but not the spectacular colorful foliage. Here is a compilation of some of Agnès' photographic works while waiting for me at aid stations 3 and 5:

F as in... friend, fidelity and faith

On our (long) way back to the Bay Area, we learned that Pierre-Yves, the son of Agnès' best friend, was hospitalized again and in very critical conditions. Agnès and Vivy have been best friends since elementary school, an example of fidelity. Just one year ago, Pierre-Yves has been diagnosed with lymphoma and went through so many chemotherapy sessions we lost count. Earlier this month he received a marrow transplant from a donor in Germany and has been in a sterile environment since then, and until doctors see if the transplant worked. Our friends called during the race to share the news, that Pierre-Yves got an infection of both lungs so he got put into artificial comma and breathing. We keep praying for him and I was thinking of him when battling in the Mill Creek trail.

Pierre-Yves plays and loves basketball. Thanks to the Make @ Wish foundation, he was able to spend some time with Tony Parker in August, fulfilling a wonderful wish. Here is a picture from the Make @ Wish website:
And with some of his friends in July at the Villejuif hospital:

I'm usually not too keen on mixing spiritual things with others but I can't resist in quoting one of this weekend's readings in this context:
"I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith."
Again, putting things in perspective, as these were Paul's words to Timothy (2 Tm 4:6-8) at the end of his life, not the end of a mere run.

Go Pierre-Yves, go, fight and win, the basketball match is far from being over, like your mother says!

F as in... farther and faster

When I told the family I was going to blog on the F letter (and not on the F word, Rob!), they were really wondering about the connection before they all see it: farther and faster, of course. Oops, it didn't come to mind during my run, but I can't escape the natural association indeed.

The nice thing with trail running is the variety of the courses. It's a 50K but not like any other. This provides many more opportunities to set PRs and improve on a particular course, not a particular distance. Like Bev set the course record for F30-39 at 4:40:57 the improve her time to set the CR for F40-49 at 4:32:44 two years ago and 4:30:34 this year!

Unlike at Ohlone, I knew the course record for M40-49 before the start (4:36:34 by Dave Covey in 2003) and thought it would be nice to improve it. Which I did, so that can be called faster. unfortunately not fast enough as Ron was 1'21" ahead of me to set the new CR for our age group. Will need to come back, like Bev...

As for the farther, here too, each course provides an opportunity to dig, if not farther from a distance standpoint (see the farther-further discussion), further in your mental and physical capabilities. Certainly the Mill Creek trail for me on this course.

Oh, another farther though, with yet another F as in... freeway. This is the first time I drive away that far for a race and an ultra. 570 miles in 24 hours, that's a lot of driving miles to offset with running miles (carbon footprint speaking)... Anyway, I'm so thankful to Agnès who has decided to come with me at the last minute and drive most of the way; that certainly helped alleviate some of the fatigue from the previous three weeks on France and Florida.

F as in...

So to recap, here are some "F as in..." words/alliterations: fun, fast, fluid, focused, flying, free, fearless, fatigueless, friendly, faithful, feline, not to forget the farther and faster of this blog. And let's keep frustration and fear out of this list, right?

Is it an exhaustive list? Not tired with these alliterations yet and have others to suggest? Let me know by dropping a comment!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

20 km of Paris: fast but not fast enough

Last year I had a thrill at this race, the International 20 kilometers of Paris. I was not blogging at the time, so let me write down my recollection of last year's edition. It was 8 days after my first 50-miler, the Dick Collins' Fire Trails, where I placed 3rd overall and won the rookie award (first timer). I had therefore no expectation, I just happened to be in Paris that weekend for our yearly company Sales Kick-Off. Despite a preferred bib number (1116 out of 20,000 runners), I didn't get a good placement at the start because I couldn't find the entrance of our corral. The crowd was so dense and I was particularly upset to have to pass a guy with a stroller in the first 400 feet. This was my first "adrenaline shot." Because I missed the start, I pushed the pace in the next kilometers. At km 7, I saw a group of runners accompanied by a motorcycle and camera guy. That was the lead female group I was catching up with. First I thought I was going too fast and I'll kill myself later if I pass them. But running with such "gazelles" provided a second short of adrenaline so I really felt strong and kept pushing. Later, along the Seine, I guy stayed for a couple of kilometers on my heels, to take advantage of the pace and the protection against the wind. So close that he touched my foot twice which really made me mad. That was the third electrical shock or adrenaline shot, enough to again increase the pace around km 17. Last but not least, two guys I was running with, and appearing as masters, started sprinting at km 18, which was way too soon. I passed them at the km 19 mark to finish in 1:10:06. Good enough for a podium for 3rd master, and a nice cup. 38th out of 18,751 finishers.

Same setting this year with our annual Sales Kick-Off in Paris again. On the running side though, a much different picture: no training for the last 4 weeks due to the shin splints injury, and no 50-miler the week before as the Fire Trails race was held the same weekend in California. Just a short 5K, the Running of the Bulls. I was not sure what to expect then. On one hand I always want to do better when I enter a race which I already run (the Faster of this blog name...). On the other hand, I was wondering what was my strange training regimen would provide as a basis for this year's race: no training for 4 weeks, but a 10K (Trailblazer) and this 5K race.

The start was much better than last year, I knew where to get in the corral, on the right side of the bridge. I was just a few rows from the Kenyan elite gang. Yet, that meant dozens of runners to pass in the first kilometer. My goal was to run at a 3:30 minute/km (5:38 min/mile), like last year. First km was 3:42 so I had to accelerate which I did. At km 5 I had an elite gal in sight, Hafida Gadi Richard from France, so I thought I was good to repeat last year's story. But no motorcycle though, no camera, she was "only" going to finish fourth in her category. I was too far of the first gal to get my adrenaline shot this year...

I passed the 10 km mark in 34:44, quite fast and faster than last year's 35:17. There was still hope for a PR then. Except that, as you know, pacing is key in running, and was probably going a bit too fast based on my current form. Around km 16 I passed two Kenyan gals: Florence Chepkerui who placed 5th, and Emily Kimuria, a world-class 2:28:18 marathoner, who took 6th.

I finished in 1:10:23, 17" more than last year. Or 1.4 seconds per mile slower than last year. When every second counts... I was 54th at km 5, 10 and 15 but finished 57th out of 19,217 finishers. And 5th in the Masters division, not good enough for a podium this year.

Here is a satellite view of the finish, right next to the Eiffel tower in downtown Paris:

Among other finishers, Ludovic, a colleague from ILOG France covered the distance in 1:38:26 and my cousin, Francois-Xavier, in 1:54:39.

Overall results:

  • Men :1.Musau Mwansia (Ken) en 58’7’’ ; 2. Jonhatan Maiylo (Ken) 58’8’’ ; 3. Philemon Terer (Ken) 58’9’’ ; 4. Sammy Kibet (Ken) 58’10’’ ; 5. Jacob Kitur (Ken) 58’12’’.
  • Women : 1. Merrien Mangari (Ken) 1 h 7’35’’ ; 2. Maru Ptikany (Ken) 1 h 8’33’’ ; 3. Christine Chepkonga (Ken) 1 h 9’20’’ ; 4. Hafida Gadi Richard (Fra) 1 h 9’53’ ; 5. Florence Chepkerui (Ken) 1 h 10’43’’.

So many Kenyans, they are really unbelievable, it feels good to see them running so smooth. Or should I say flying? This is where I know I'm not a real ultra runner, because I still love speed and road racing.

The good news is that the shin splints is gone. I ran 14 fast kilometers on Tuesday, and 12 on Wednesday before flying back to California on Friday. And 29.5 hilly miles this Saturday. It feels so good to get back on the trail, although my calves had forgot about the effort, based on how they complain this Sunday through soreness. By the way, today is a special day, our 18th wedding anniversary and I will jog with Agnès as she practices Nordic Walking. Then another business travel, to Florida, before the Whiskeytown 50K next Saturday, which serves as the PA USA Track & Field 50K championships.

PS: a journey in the West part of Paris (15 and 16th districts/arrondissements and Bois de Boulogne):

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sustainable running: in for the long run

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Monday October 15. Today is blog action day, with a special focus on environment, so "hello world, hello Earth!"

This year, within our francophone networking association in the Bay Area, SiliconFrench, we made sustainable development, or sustainability, the main theme for a seminar series.

Next month, on November 8, I organize one of these events with the topic: "Sustainability and you, sustainability and I." Or what does sustainability mean at our individual level and how can you and I contribute to it. Please consider joining us if you are in the Bay Area on the 8th.

I have been really intrigued with the opportunity behind sustainability. Or should I say challenge? As we become more powerful with technology, something which is called progress, we have created major trade-offs and issues now requiring our human intelligence to get resolved. If I was to name only one difference between humans and animals, that would be this one: we are given the luxury to resolve the issues we create. God gave us this freedom, let's see how smart we are to use it for many more years, centuries, million years.

On Friday night I went to see Un jour sur Terre (www.loveearth.com), an amazing documentary about our blue planet, also called the miracle planet in the movie. See some images for yourself on the website, and go see it when it hits your movie theater. To be honest, I'm still uneasy with the fact that $47 million to make such a movie though. After all, it's only about nature and animals. Not even a Hollywood cast to pay! Just animals trying to survive in our changing environment. With a budget like this, not to mention the hours spent in cars, planes or helicopters, such education on our very own environment doesn't seem very... sustainable to me, but if this is what it takes to change the world... What it takes to each us, grown-ups, to pass on a sustainable planet to our kids and the coming generations...
Environment is the topic of today's blog action day. And what about the connection with running and the title of the post, then?

Well, running, and more precisely ultra running, are highly connected, mingled to environmental issues. Such as through these concepts:
  1. Open space and trails. There are 24 or 48 hour-races, even 6 day running events taking place on stadium tracks. 100 miles on track? That's 400 laps! And what about the many marathons in megalopolis? If it is to cover some distance, would it not make more sense to actually travel through the countryside instead? Like Phidippides getting the news of the Battle of Marathon. But for that we need our environment to be protected, prepared, and saved by smart urbanization. Sustainable urbanization.
  2. Water. No taste, no nutrition facts on a box or a bottle, just potable water. This summer while training on the Ultra Trail of Mont Blanc course, how lucky I feel to be able to run at every village's fountain. Water from the evaporating and diminishing glaciers. What a luxury which is very fragile. Something which isn't possible with most of the water streams I've seen on the trails in the US. And that's only the beginning, we may all miss water at some point if we are not more careful about usage, and efficient with recycling. On his first Western States 100-mile runs, Gordy Ainsleigh, the inventor of ultra trail running, did not need aid stations to get fluid. Nowadays, we have aid stations every 3 to 5 miles...
  3. Air. Running without breathing, which plan is that? Yes, we need air, a lot of air, a lot of good and fresh air.
  4. Temperature. Have you tried to run in Singapore? Singapore is one of the rare places where I prefer running on a tread mill. Too hot and too humid, all year around. Raising temperatures, or disturbed weather, will impact our ability to run in some areas. Like the unprecedented hot and humid conditions at last week's Chicago Marathon... An occasion to be thankful for the many places on Earth which are not too hot to run. And the Bay Area in particular which provides excellent and optimal conditions all year around.
  5. Food. Everybody can run, really. Just look at any back of the pack of a marathon. OK, unless you have issues with your joints. I know, it doesn't mean that everybody should run, I'm the first one to say that you have to love it. After all, it's a hobby except for a very limited elite field. Anyway, the point here is that food has a lot to see with running. Good food and good eating habits really help. And I'd rather have this good food coming from our natural environment, rather than synthetized, not you? Like Hervé pointed out in one of our SiliconFrench meetings, bio food was used to be the only one we had, and cheap as it came down to picking the free food growing naturally in our environment. It became the most expensive food, only affordable to the wealthy in our so-called developed countries...
  6. Wilderness. What a pleasure to encounter a bobcat, a coyote, deers, rabbits, birds, at the corner of the trail. Or an uncommon tree or plant. Something which you don't see in our urban lives. Without having to fly around the world. Without having to go to the movie. Just enjoying our close by environment. This makes the run so much more enjoyable. This too requires sustainable urbanization, when urbanization is required...
Gordy Ainsleigh offering free massages during the 2007 Wester States pre-race briefing, before his 22nd run and finish, out of 34 editions:

Like any activity, running can impact the environment as much as it benefits from it. This is a reason the number of participants to most of our ultra races is limited by organizers or park rangers (e.g. ~370 at Western States).

But sustainability is more than environment. It is about the interconnection between the environment, the business and the social development which makes any development, any progress, durable.

Similarly, sustainable running is more than protecting or enjoying the environment. There is a social aspect to it, e.g. running in a club or with friends. Running for a cause. Running for the community. Running to raise money. Running to be healthy, for your personal ecology. Running smart so you can run longer. Farther and faster...

Sustainability is complex, let's see how 14,000 blogs on environment helps us gathering ideas to change the world. For the better. For the long run!

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ultra blog: passing the cap of the 26.2th blog

26 posts. 26 like in 26 and... 0.2 miles (or 42.195 km for the ones not counting in miles).

Interesting that I decided to start this blog on a 26-mile training run back in March during a get away weekend with Agnès in South Dakota (below in Badlands National Park).

26 posts in 26 weeks. On one hand, it isn't much, some bloggers are much more prolific. On the other, it is sometimes a drag to spend time on writing these stories, especially the formatting side. Time added to already a lot spent on running, training, racing. Time taken from family and weekend time.

On the bright side, some of you have left comment proving there are some readers out there. I also got to know some runners, on line. Even Mom is reading, but the English doesn't appeal much to the rest of the family in France. Or is it the paranoiac focus on running...? ;-)

Anyway, more running tomorrow. "Only" 20K, "just" under a half-marathon, whew! In the meantime, let's try to sleep after this frustrating and raging defeat against England in tonight's Rugby World Cup semi-final. So close, but a great fight on both sides.

Bonsoir de Paris!

PS: and Monday is Blog Action Day, see you online!

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Running of the Bulls 5K: not farther, not faster, but fun!

A short blog to report on this fun event in Palo Alto, last Sunday. I don't have much time as I jumped on a plane to Frankfurt and Paris the next day and will be on the road in Europe for 10 days, then Florida for 4 days. Just enough time in between to get back home and celebrate our wedding anniversary (18 years, not even a special symbol for it, but always a nice time and memory).

I can actually be short as my blog master and guru, Scott, joined the crowd and already shared his account of the fun. For sure, with this race name, all the eyes were on the cows and bulls. But Scott couldn't resist to steal some of this hype with a provocative costume, a matador!

As usual, and as opposed to Scott, I didn't race with the camera, and the family couldn't come this weekend, so the photographic coverage is pretty limited on my end. Here are two of the fastest (and cutest!) cows on Earth, during our warm-up, :

That's it for the pictures. Again, see Scott's blog for more.

On the starting line I met Kris Paaso and Amanda Trotter, wearing a Brooks top. I told them that I was part of the Brooks ID (Inspire Daily) program. My favorite show brand, Brooks, sponsors their club, the Peninsula Distance Club. They seemed to be of the "cow level" (aka Olympians) and indeed ran respectively 17:45 and 18:11, taking 1st of their age group. I also met Jeanne, from my company, to whom I mentioned the race on Friday. Two, not yet enough to form a corporate team!

Quick start and the result was pretty much set after the first two turns. I tried to follow Matthew Tompkins whom I know from the annual Big Bunny Fun Run 5K of Cupertino, just before Easter. Kept Matt in sight all the way, and saw him passing Alan Liu just before the finish, for 3rd overall. I fisnished in 16:47, 31 seconds more than two years ago (I also ran the 2004 edition but it was 8K then). Fast enough to win the Masters' division, but not fast enough for a PR or to see the first two youngsters finish (see the overall results).

Like Scott said, it feels weird to be done after a quarter of an hour of running, when you are used to run for 3, 6 or 20 hours and many miles. I actually hanged up for a while after the finish, for an hypothetical award ceremony. I feel bad for the race directors when people don't wait for such ceremonies but, this time, there wasn't any. It was fun though to see the kid races, one for each year from 2 to 12!

After the finish I also met Elliott Wright whom I passed in the first mile as he had to stop to tight his show lace. We discussed and exchanged emails as he is interested in joining the mid Peninsula ultra training group. Elliott works for a great cause, the Semperviruns Fund, acting at preserving the redwoods of California's Santa Cruz Mountains. So appreciated and cherished by us, ultra runners of the Peninsula.

With that, what about the injury (shin splints)? Again, I didn't run at all the week before, just biked 100 miles over the week. No pain on race day so I went for 4.5 miles on Monday, an easy run during which I could feel the inflammation coming back again. Bottom line, nothing more this week before the big race on Sunday (20K of Paris, 20K for 20 kilometers and 20,000 runners, quite another setting!).

More news from Paris next week and, in the meantime, au revoir!

PS: shh, that's the cow bell, a very unique and cool finisher's "medal!"