Sunday, December 9, 2012

Week in Training - December 3 to December 9

Sick.  I hate being sick.  It's been a stressful last 2 weeks so I suppose it was bound to happen.  A job interview last Tuesday followed by a quick 3 day trip to the USA Track & Field annual meeting in Daytona Beach, FL followed immediately by 4 straight days of snowshoe presentations at REI stores - Saratoga (20 miles round trip), Berkeley (100 miles), Sacramento (260 miles) and Manhattan Beach (720 miles).  Fortunately for me and much to the disbelief of my wife, I only missed one day of training from this "sickness".

Attendees trickle in for my Get Going! presentation

Monday: Flat 10k run in Mountain View before driving down to Saratoga, CA.
Tuesday: 15 mile roller-ski on the Shoreline Trails before driving up to Berkeley, CA.
Wednesday: 1 hour of Dailey Method core strength followed by an easy 4 mile run in the rain. Left early to beat rush hour on the long drive to Sacramento, CA.

Cooler temps brought out the arm warmers

Thursday: 5.6 mile road run before flying down to Los Angeles for another snowshoe presentation.  That evening I lost my appetite and started feeling like shit.
Friday: Flew back from LA, made a massive bowl of chicken veggie soup and sat on the couch for the rest of the day.
Saturday: Forced myself off the couch and ran 4 miles with Kelly.  Made more soup - Potato Leek.
Sunday: Feeling slightly better. 25 mile flat road bike ride.

Getting fit for snow skiing starting next week in Bend, OR.  Can't wait!

Sunday's ride was my first in 2.5 weeks after I had some really unnerving sharp pain and swelling in my right knee.  Having already had 2 knee surgeries (Right in 2006 and Left in 2009), I was really worried I damaged the cartilage during one of my core strength workouts.  After seeing an ortho and my regular PT it was determined to be misalignment of the patella - something easily fixed by rest and some patella mobility exercises.

Felt good to be back on my bike again.

So, not a horrible week of training all things considered.  20 miles of running, 15 miles of roller-skiing and 25 miles of cycling - a total of 7 hours of training.  My carbon footprint was not so good - 400 miles of driving and 700+ miles of flying.  As payback perhaps I should compost myself.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Week in Training - November 26 to December 2

I felt pretty good this past week and bagged 39 miles of running.  That included taking Sunday off, a strength workout, plus roller skiing for 12 miles.  I didn't ride my bike as that's what kicked off my recent bout of knee pain but I do plan to try it again this week.  Fingers crossed.

Monday: 7.5 mile flat run on the Shoreline Park trails.
Tuesday: 12 miles of roller skiing on the Shoreline Park trails.

Wednesday: a rainy 6 mile run in the morning and 1 hour of core strength in the afternoon at The Dailey Method.
Thursday: Ran a flat 5 miles on the roads before flying to Daytona Beach, FL for the USA Track & Field annual meeting.

Dave & Jason at Tiger Bay State Forest

Friday: Dave Dunham, Paul Kirsch, Jason Bryant and I ran 5 miles in the morning at Tiger Bay State Forest.  It was flat but we found some nice dirt roads, single-track trails and a small lake to run around.  In the afternoon we ran another 5 miles at the Spruce Creek Campground.

Spruce Creek Campground

Saturday: Race Day!  Every year at the annual meeting USATF organizes some kind of low-key race for attendees.  Last year is was a cold & painful 1 mile race around downtown St. Louis.  This year's race was a out-n-back 5k on the beach - nice!  Dave, Jason, Paul and I got 3 miles warm-up and warm-down for a total of 9 miles for the day.  Having not raced or done speed since mid-September, my goal was to finish without getting hurt.

Dave picked up an awesome speed suit on sale.

With that in mind I started out at a comfortable 6 minute pace for the first 1/2 mile.  At 1/2 mile Dave & Jason were about 15 seconds ahead with the eventual winner & runner-up while I ran behind the top woman.  When we turned around (at 1/2 mile) the wind was at our backs, the pace felt too easy and no muscles or joints were complaining so I picked up the pace to close he gap on Jason.  As we approached the next turn around at 2 miles I passed and gapped Jason so he wouldn't be able to draft once we hit the headwind.  At the turn I think I was about 15-20 seconds behind Dave and running in 4th place.  With a headwind and running in sand against an encroaching high tide, the last mile felt pretty hard.  I was also working harder since I wanted to close the gap to Dave and run a respectable time - somewhere near 17 minutes.  At the finish Dave was 3 seconds up and I crossed the line in 17:13 for 4th overall.  While the warm-down run felt painfully slow, it was good to have a race under my belt without getting injured (again).  Now I feel comfortable starting the process of getting speedy again........very carefully.

USATF Beach 5k Race - 17:13 - 4th place - 5:42 pace - Max HR 172.

The clock tower at Daytona Beach

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week in Training - November 19 to 25

My recent knee issue is feeling much better this week.  A visit to physical therapy hooked me up with the exercises to stretch my quad muscle attachments and mobilize the patella.  There's still some tissue inflammation but no pain and I stopped taking anti-inflamatories.

My pelvic injury from last Summer still causes some aching in the morning but whatever I did to my calf back in September is 100% better. So, with everything going so well I actually got some decent running miles in this week.

Monday: 6.5 mile easy run - point to point from Kelly's office to home.
Tuesday: 11 mile roller ski on the Shoreline trails in the morning.  I saw Vitor Rodrigues out for his morning run.  He said I was easily recognized since pretty much nobody else in Mountain View roller skis.  In the afternoon I went up to Los Altos for a 1 hour Dailey Method core strength workout.
Wednesday: After a rainy night, it was muddy on the unpaved Bay Trail where I ran 6.5 miles out and back along Moffett Field.
Thursday: Thanksgiving Day.  1 week after some pretty acute pain in my right knee I wanted to test it on the bike again.  18 easy, flat miles on the road bike was pain free but I did experience a little increased irritation and inflammation later in the day.
Friday: Since runs to date hadn't exacerbated any of my injuries I went out for a "long run".  In this case, 9 flat miles on the road.  No post run pain - mission accomplished.
Saturday: In the morning Kelly and I went up to Menlo Park for a 1 hour Dailey Method core strength workout.  Normally I might go for a long bike ride on Saturday but with my recent knee issues I settled for a 4 mile easy run.
Sunday: Nothing fancy - just another 7 mile run on the roads.

Not a bad week of training.  I'm happy to be back up to 35 miles of running in a week but disappointed that this knee issues is limiting my cycling.  Next steps will be to slowly ramp up the running miles while adding a little speed.  As for cycling, that will depend on how my knee responds - fingers crossed.  In the meantime, there's always roller least until we head to Bend, OR in two weeks for some real snow skiing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week in Training - November 12 to 18

The week started well as I was "graduated" from physical therapy for my pelvis and calf injuries.  Good news until I managed to injure my right knee on Tuesday at a Dailey Method core strength class.  It was most likely caused by quad & glut strength exercises that require deep knee bends.

I had the same issue with my left knee in 2009 after a crossfit class.  That injury eventually required surgery.  It appears that my 25 years of running, cycling and skiing has made the cartilage in my knees susceptible to damage from deep knee bending under heavy loads.

Monday: 6 mile bike ride to physical therapy, 6 mile bike home from PT, 26 mile bike ride up/down Page Mill Road where I made this cool short test video.
Tuesday: 1 hour of Dailey Method core strength, 7 mile flat road run.
Wednesday33 mile road bike ride around Woodside and Portola Valley.
Thursday: Day off - right knee pain.
Friday: 12 mile skate roller ski around Shoreline Park.
Saturday: 1 hour of Dailey Method, 4 mile easy run to test my right knee - feels ok.
Sunday: 6 mile flat road run - knee still feels good.

My goal for this coming week is to get my training back on track.  I'll be going back to physical therapy on Monday where I hope to get some exercises to help my right knee track more efficiently.   

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Forest fire threatens USA 50k Trail Championships

This is the complete story I wrote about the Flagline 50k with photos.  It originally appeared in edited form on

A fire information board just yards from the startline

The Pole Creek forest fire in Central Oregon started two weeks before the third annual Flagline 50K, giving race director "Super" Dave Thomason heartburn every time the winds changed direction. “Smoke from the fire was literally was making me crazy. When winds were out of the North it felt like you were standing downwind of a campfire” said Thomason.

Race Director Dave Thomason

The fire grew rapidly, and within a few days spanned to 26,000 acres with the edge of the blaze just one ridgeline away from the most scenic sections of the race course. With smoke encroaching on the nearby town of Sisters, visibility decreased to several hundred feet and residents were advised to stay indoors. According to local runner Mario Mendoza, “I had to run in some pretty nasty smoke most of the days leading up to the Flagline 50k. At times it was so bad I honestly thought the race would get canceled.”

Another fabulous Superfit production

South of the fire, air quality on the course varied dramatically in the days leading up to Central Oregon’s newest and fastest growing ultra race. Almost 300 runners were signed up for the event, which was to be the 2012 U.S. 50K Trail Championships, and as race day approached, nobody knew if it would happen. All eyes were on social media updates posted by Dave Thomason.

Five days until the race, Thomason posted on Facebook:
"Smoke, smoke, smoke. Depending on the wind we either have lots or very little."

Everyone looks happy before the start

The shifting winds meant conditions were fluctuating between apocalyptic and perfect. “I had been up on the course several times the week of the race and air quality was great in the morning but would start to turn ugly after 3 pm. On the one hand most folks would have finished by 3 but seeing how fast smoke conditions changed, this kept me from sleeping well“ said Thomason.

Three days until the race:
"The race start and finish area is now a staging zone for 10 helicopters fighting the Pole Creek fire"

Max King, Tim Van Orden, Ryan Bak & Mario Mendoza at the start

The 31 mile course is run in the shadow of 10,000-foot volcanic giants Brokentop, Bachelor and the Three Sisters mountains. Starting 6400’ above sea level at Sunrise Lodge, runners traverse this rolling high-mountain course in a single loop that is snow-free for just a few months each year. The race begins with a smooth, fast, and dusty 8-mile descent before taking runners up the first of two stout 1,000-foot climbs. The rest of the course features old growth forests, above-tree-line single-track, and a creek crossing to cool sore feet.

Two days until the race:
"OK folks we are getting close and I still can't say with any certainty that the race will be able to go. This is due largely to the smoke being blown in at a moments notice."

Natalie Bak

Thomason and his merry band of mountain-bike-riding course markers had to blaze the course two days before the race. Unable to make a definitive call on whether the race could be held, Dave still led them on a full day of course marking armed with hammers, stakes, directional arrows and surveyor tape.

One day until the race:
"Very hopeful for tomorrow. After being up their today and having clean air and sunshine. See you all in the am."

Finishline under clear blue skys

As the sun rose on race day, clear blue skies awaited the runners and not a whiff of smoke could be detected. From race headquarters, just one hour before the start, Thomason made the call: Game on.

In addition to elite runners competing for national championship titles, athletes from ages 15 to 73 and coming from 10 different U.S. states toed the starting line. On the men’s side, 2011 World Mountain Running Champion Max King pulled away from fellow Bend speedsters Mario Mendoza and Ryan Bak to take the win. A few hours later Max would be on a plane to Utah where the next day he would also win the XTERRA Trail Nationals. “I was feeling pretty relaxed and comfortable during the 50k race and I'd done the double last year so I wasn't too worried about Xterra”, said King.

Max King

Former US Mountain Running Team member and 5-time winner of the Pikes Peak Marathon, Erica Barton from Los Alamos, New Mexico, took top honors in the women's race and finished as the top woman over 40. Barton bested Bend resident Natalie Bak who also finished 2nd the prior year when she was out-sprinted by cross country skier Stephanie Howe. “I thought the course was beautiful and the trails were a lot of fun to run on” said Barton, “my greatest strength right now is climbing, so the hills suited me”.

Erica Barton

As the fire burned on distant ridges, favorable winds kept the course smoke free all day. A race director’s nightmare was averted but that didn’t stop Dave Thomason from thinking about what challenges the race could face in future years. “I know we are going to have a snow year at some point so that will be fun to tackle.”

Complete race results can be found here:

Additional race photos can be found on my Google+ page.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Not your grandfathers BENGAY (Ben-gay).

I recently returned from a run to find a FedEx package at my doorstep (sweet!).  What could it be?  More running shoes from Salomon?  A new energy drink from FRS?  10 million dollars from Publishers Clearinghouse?  None of the above - instead it was an updated version of the unofficial scent of cross country running - BENGAY.

My first experience with BENGAY was as a 14 year old cross country runner in upstate New York.  Cross country running season meant Fall foliage was in full kaleidoscope, ankle twisting roots hid beneath a thick blanket of fallen leaves and cold temperatures blew down from Canada.  We had two weapons to combat the chill; scratchy polyester long sleeve warm-up suits and a large shared tub of BENGAY.

Your's truly rocking the cycling cap in 1985

Our stiff blue & green matching polyester suits would be ironic hipster gold today but back in the 1980's we thought they were cutting edge - a vast improvement over simple gray cotton sweat suits.  Their only liability was exposure to open flame, a hazard that would cause the fabric to become a napalm dripping inferno.  Our BENGAY was equally vintage. It came in a large, unbranded team issue tub and was dispensed with wooden tongue depressors.  Sanitary?  Perhaps not, but it was an essential tool for getting some heat into our spindly leg muscles.  Our coach would often yell, "put on some BENGAY; I don't want you pulling a hammy out there!".  It wasn't just our team, all the coaches seemed to have BENGAY in their cold weather essentials kit.  At large invitationals with hundreds of athletes, the starting line smelled like a BENGAY factory.

John Wilkin and I at the 1986 McQuaid Invitational 

Known as "Ben-gay" until the year I got my first email address (1995), this 114 year old topical analgesic is now missing a hyphen (and tongue depressors) and is available a blue colored "zero degrees" formula.  Unlike our old white tub from the 1980's this new formula comes packaged in a convenient deodorant style applicator with it's own zip-lock bag.  This seems like a good idea because when I broke the seal on the bag I got a strong whiff of menthol powered nostalgia.

Yeah, that's me winning the 1985 Section 5 Championship race

So, what's this fancy new Johnson & Johnson product supposed to do?  According to the BENGAY website it "blasts away pain", provides "medicated pain relief", "lasts for hours", has an "instant icy-cold sensation", a "vanishing scent" and is "ideal for muscle and joint strain or sprain pain relief".

Top step of the podium in full polyester glory

Since I love testing new products I gave it a try after this mornings Alter-G treadmill run.  Unfortunately, I wasn't sore so it was impossible to validate any of the pain relieving claims.  That said, it does have an instant icy-cold sensation and the scent does vanish but, what's the best feature of BENGAY?

It induces nostalgia. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

World Mountain Running Championships - A cross country skiing & running blast from the Past

I recently returned from my 12th trip to the World Mountain Running Championships (WMRC) - a trip that brought back several connections to my early career as a cross country ski racer.  My first trip to the  WMRC was to Sabah, Maylasia in 1999 as an athlete on the US Mountain Running Team (USMRT).  I had just retired from ski racing and was looking for a new racing challenge that didn't require as much gear, travel or snow.  Road racing was fun and highly available in my then home of New England but running up mountains really caught my attention.  Most runners hate hills but these races were ALL HILLS complete with a rewarding view at the finish.  I was sold.

Me at Pack Monadnock - one of my first mountain races

Why are cross country skiers good at mountain running?  Skiers don't have the leg speed to compete with the pure runners on the roads but they do have substantial aerobic power and leg strength - assets in any uphill or hilly, technical mountain race.  Also, when cross country skiers do run, it tends to be on trails and in the mountains so they come to mountain races with experience on rough and technical surfaces.  Before I knew what mountain running races were I raced up Stratton Mountain in Vermont - a benchmark run that local skiers used to test their summer fitness.  

For me my transition to mountain running was also a refreshing low-key change from a decade of structured ski training, chasing snow around the world and the high pressure I put on myself trying to make Olympic teams in 1992, 1994 and 1998.  My trips to the world mountain running champs in 1999 and again in 2002 (Innsbruck, Austria) were fun adventures.  We all wanted to race well, but we also wanted to explore the host cities and experience different cultures.

The 2002 USMRT - Innsbruck, Austria (I'm 2nd row, 4th from left)

This year my cross country ski connections came roaring back with the selection of two athletes to the US Mountain Running Team who were far better skiers (and runners) than I ever was.  Morgan Arritola (Ketchum, ID) had been on the U.S. Ski Team in 2010 and represented the USA at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.  I'd met Morgan in 2010 and again in 2011 at the USA 1/2 Marathon Trail Running National Championships where she finished 2nd and 1st respectively.  Earlier this year she came to our USMRT women's selection race at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire and won her first ever mountain race.

Morgan finishing 2nd at the 2010 Half Marathon Trail Championships

On this trip I learned that Morgan and I shared the same employeer, coach and celebrity customers in her hometown.  Morgan's local coach was Rick Kapala from the Sun Valley Ski Education Foundation.  After my sophomore year in college WAY BACK in 1990 I spent a summer in Ketchum with several college friends and trained with Rick.  As a newbie to the 6000' elevation I vividly recall suffering on the first several days of training with Rick.  Morgan also worked at local bike/ski shop the Elephants Perch - my employeer during my summer in Ketchum.  When I recollected a story about being told off by movie star Jamie Lee Curtis for using plastic bags Morgan just laughed saying, "yeah, she still comes into the store".  Let's hope she brings her own bag now.

Glenn Randall (Mesa, CO) was also an elite cross country skier turned runner.  Glenn had been on several U.S. Ski Team trips to the World Junior Championships and was known in Colorado running circles as an athlete with a massive aerobi motor.  In his first time at the Mt. Washington Road Race - the USMRT men's selection race - Glenn went up against the best field ever assembled to finish 4th.

Glenn hammering home to 9th at the 2012 WMRC

Going into this years world championships I knew Morgan and Glenn would finish well, but as first timers against very strong and large fields of elite mountain runners, I didn't know they'd do as well as they did. Morgan was quietly nervous in the days leading up to the race - understandable since she's new to the sport and didn't know any of the other runners.  Glenn didn't seem at all intimidated by the hundreds of other athletes staying & eating in our hotel.  He was relaxed, jovial and getting along well with his new team members.  That said, Sage Canaday and Joe Gray were much faster than him at Mt. Washington and Joe has lots of world championship experience.

On race day our cross country skiers came across the finish line as top Americans in 3rd (Morgan) and 9th (Glenn).  Both fantastic results against very strong fields in both races.  Morgan was only 51 seconds behind 4-time world champion Andrea Meyr (Austria) and led the US team to a gold medal.  Glenn was only 38 seconds behind 6-time world champion Marco De Gasperi (Italy) and led the US team to a close 4th place finish.

While I was proud of the results my fellow skiers posted they also brought with them connections to people I knew from my days on snow 15+ years ago.  Morgan's U.S. Ski Team coach was Chris Grover - someone whom I raced against in the 1990's.  Chris' brother Todd was a Dartmouth grad who I spent a summer with in 1992 at the Stratton Mountain School when I was training with former U.S. Ski Team coach and Olympic skier Jim Galanes.

Coach Mike Reif with Glenn and Morgan

Glenn's father is a former U.S. Ski Team skier who is close friends with one of my skiing mentors - Bernie Gardner, the long-time ski coach at the very successful Honeoye Falls-Lima high school in upstate New York.  Bernie wasn't my coach but I raced against his team in high school and he was very supportive and encouraging.  Bernie has known Glenn since he was born and was up early in the morning to catch coverage of the world championship race on the Internet.

Tim Chichester (Mt. Morris, NY) talks with Nancy Hobbs

The final blast from the past connection came via team member Tim Chichester from Mount Morris, NY.  Mount Morris, like Honeoye Falls, is in the greater Rochester (Section 5) area where I grew up running and skiing.  Tim's coach Mike Reif came on the trip with us to Italy and recalled several times that he watched me race when I was in high school 25 years ago!  This was several years before 23-year-old Tim was born.  Ugh, do I feel old?  Yes, but it was great to rekindle these old memories and see the next generation of mountain runners kick some butt at the world championships.

Me (sitting) at a high school running race in 1986

Friday, September 7, 2012

US Mountain Running Team's Media Coverage at the World Mountain Running Championships

I'll write separate post with my own photographs and experiences at the World Mountain Running Championships.  Here is a compilation of media coverage the team received.  Summary: great trip, didn't loose any athletes along the way, women win GOLD (again), Morgan Arritola wins bronze.

Morgan, Brandy, Stevie & Melody wear gold   

On Friday before the race we did a Google Hangout on Air with several of our athletes to get their impressions of the trip so far and their expectations for the race.  That video can be found on the US Mountain Running Team YouTube page here.

I tweeted live updates on race day (Sunday, September 2) from the gondola stops along the course (Ponte di Legno, middle station and Passo del Tonale):

Morgan on her way to 3rd place

Between tweets I took still photos of the race leaders and US athletes which can be found here.

Gerry Brady from the Irish Mountain Running Team took the following pictures:
Junior women's race
Junior men's race
Senior women's race
Senior men's race

Professional photographer Dan Vernon also took some photos of the race including this awesome one of Morgan Arritola at the start of the senior women's race.

Sage Canaday on his way to 12th place

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post our senior women's team won the gold medal - Morgan Arritola, Stevie Kremer, Melody Fairchild and Brandy Erholtz.  Paul Kirsch put together this collection of still photos with video of the US women at the podium ceremony.

Additional event videos:
Sage Canaday - VO2Max Productions
Sport di Montagna (Italy) (several videos)

In the days after the race with accolades and congratulations rolling into the team, the following news stories were published:
Running Times - US Women Earn Gold at Mountain Running Worlds
Trail Runner Magazine - US Women Win Gold at the World Mountain Running Championships
Crested Butte News - Stevie Kremer Represents US at Mountain Running Worlds
The Genesee Sun - From Mt Morris to the Alps, Chichester competes in World Championships
Runner's World - U.S. Women Triumph at World Mountain Running
Fastest Skier

Nancy Hobbs penned several Examiner articles including the following:
US senior men
US senior women
US junior team
Former team member Pablo Vigil part of US delegation

Stevie Kremer shows off her Salomon Sense

Friend of the team Italian Alberto Stretti posted this video of Morgan Arritola on FloTrail.

Official results from the races were first posted here.

Several websites picked up Nancy's press releases including, and

Of course the World Mountain Running Association also posted its own story.

World Champion and friend of the team Marco De Gasperi

Overall it was a great event in the Dolomite mountains of northern Italy.  The cool, rainy weather cleared for race day, all our US athletes put in fantastic efforts and of course our women brought home some shiny hardware - congrats to all!

For continuing coverage of the US Mountain Running Team as they train and race around the world please visit:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cross Country Running Season - California Style

Ahhhh, cross country running season - cool, crisp weather, Fall foliage, the smell of Ben-Gay, mud and even some hay bales jumps if your lucky.   

Portland, Oregon XC Race - Fall 2009

In California, yesterday, we had none of that.  The USATF Pacific Association XC season starts early in NorCal with race number one on the campus of UC Santa Cruz.  The race started and finished in a dusty field surrounded by tall coastal pine trees and featured a somewhat hilly 4 mile loop on wide, rocky dirt roads.  Not exactly classic grassy XC but more like a nice trail race.

Since I'm recovering from an injury my expectations for todays race were low. Goals: have fun, don't get hurt, go out slow, see what happens. I still don't know most runners in the masters field but I didn't see old guy speedsters Jaime Heilpern and Brian that was helpful. 

Ready to race in Santa Cruz, CA

The pace was slow for the first mile - lots of guys jockeying near the front as we climbed towards mile 1. First mile 6:21. Pretty much the same pace up to the turn-around. At mile 2 (6:00) a couple guys started to pick up the pace a bit (a River City Rebel and a Pamakid). At 2.75 miles the RCR runner made a solid move to pull away on a slight uphill and I went with him. A 3 miles I glanced back to see that we gapped the Pamakid and other runner wearing a red singlet. At this point we're running about 5:30 pace and not knowing what kind of kick the RCR runner had I decided to press the pace even faster at 3.25 miles. RCR slid back a few seconds and by the final sharp right turn appeared to be about 5 seconds back - comfortably out of striking distance. I crossed the line just as the clock struck 23:00 - my last mile was a 5:10.

I'm happy to get the win but more pleased to be able to run 5:45 pace on 25 miles per week. 150 miles a week of cycling certainly helps bridge the gap but I'll need to work the mileage up and hit the track to be competitive with Jamie or Brian.......assuming they're not also injured.  Getting old sucks.

Race results have been posted here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The world is getting smaller

Maybe you didn't notice but I did.  It happened yesterday at about 2:00 PM Pacific time.  

Back in the olden days if you wanted to get a group of people together for a chat you could have a conference call on something called a "telephone".  You've probably seen them - just imagine an iPhone that only makes voice calls - only MUCH bigger......and sometimes connected to a cord.

Every year between June and September myself and other staff members of the US Mountain Running Team prepare for the World Mountain Running Championships using these telephone devices and also email and Facebook.  These's also been Skype video chats but like all the aforementioned communication methods it's one-to-one (or asymmetric).

Team athletes conduct a "hangout" back in 2006

We call this a mountain running "team" but we only see each other all together in the same place once or maybe twice a year.  At the world championships we gather primarily to race but also get to hangout in hotel rooms catching up on a years worth of happenings.  

In an effort to builder a stronger sense of team and to promote the athletes as they prepare for the World Mountain Running Championships we tried out a new-fangled technology.......and that's when the world changed.

Dave Dunham & Nancy Hobbs emailing a press release way back in 2006 (Bursa, Turkey)

Yesterday the US Mountain Running Team held its first ever press conference broadcast live on YouTube.  Using Google's Hangouts multi-person free video conference we were able to have 3 staff members 6 athletes and 1 reporter all in the same virtual place at the same time to talk about the teams preparations for the world championships.  

The small world part?  Consider this; we had people on the hangout from Germany, Washington state, California, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Oregon.  Aside from some users with low bandwidth it was a very high quality video conference experience.  The video quality was good and the audio clean with almost no delay......across thousands of miles!  Gosh the Internets is cool.

Thank you Paul Kirsch for helping pull the event together.  Our athletes who joined included Tommy Manning, Sage Canaday, Joe Gray, Glenn Randall, Stevie Kremer, Morgan Arritola and staff member Ellen Miller.  Conducting the Q&A we had Mt. Washington Road Race veteren Jeff Dengate who works for Runners World magazine.  

You can watch a replay of the press conference on YouTube here:

Follow the team at this year's world championships in Ponte di Legno, Italy on September 2.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Patterson Pass Road Race

In my first race as a Cat 4, teammate Jim and I were the only IDTB's in the 25 rider field and agreed on an ambitious race plan - DON'T CRASH.  I proceeded to f-up that plan at mile 2 with a spectacularly un-Hoorgarland style fall as we really slowly inched up towards Patterson Pass.  Somehow I got my front wheel in the gravel off the edge of the road and went straight down hard on my left elbow........and then I got run over.  I don't remember getting run over but after the race I noticed chain grease across my jersey and chainring divots in my back.  I popped back up quickly, straightened my left brake lever and took off after the pack which had sped thousands of centimeters up the road.  

Now, as the resident pelaton dufus I took my place at the back of the pack and tried to get my stunned and frozen little fingers to work again.  With the stiff headwind nobody wanted to lead so we proceeded up to the pass in leisurely 25ish minutes.  The rest of lap 1 was more of the same - nobody wanted to work so we came by the start/finish line with the original starting group intact.  

After passing under the railroad tracks Jim took the lead and began to pick-up the pace.  As the group strung-out I moved up into the top 5 riders to be ready if anyone attacked.  No attacks came but a couple other stronger riders came to the front to push the pace.  I continued to suck wheel until 100m from the pass when I moved off the front to ensure a clear (safe??) road for the descent.  As we turned onto Flynn I saw the group was down to 8 riders but unfortunately Jim was not among them.  

I stayed at the front and pushed the pace up Flynn hoping to spit out any weaker riders.  We lost only one on the ascent and a Mike's Bikes rider who over-cooked the downhill hairpin left on Flynn Rd.  The remaining all moved the pace along pretty well for the next few miles.  Nobody wanted to do a ton of work at the front but all wanted the pace fast enough to keep any stragglers from re-joining.  

As we turned right onto Midway Rd the cross-wind struck and a little jockeying ensued.  1 rider finally put the hammer down as we passed under 580 and it was game on.  I found a good wheel in 3rd place sheltered from the cross wind but started to get dropped as we neared the crest of the hill.  Seeing a possible win slipping away I sprinted like it was the finish to catch the two leaders before the downhill.  A fourth rider also bridged up and we stayed out front until the final 2 corners.  I was well positioned in 3rd as we started the sprint but just didn't have the legs to "meep, meep bitch" or even keep up with the first 2 riders.  The 4th rider came around with 50m to go leaving me in 4th overall at the finish line.  

Regardless of the 4th place finish and crashing, I had fun and got another road race under my belt. Thanks to Hans for the birthday cake for me (42) and Eric (41).  IDTB was looking good on the roads of Patterson Pass and hogging the it should be.