Monday, December 22, 2008

Rodeo Beach 50K

It is my birthday today...… YAY…. I cannot believe one more year is gone… (crap, I am on a schedule here and I am not getting any younger)

Once again I had the joy to participate in an amazing run thorough the trails of Marin, The Rodeo Beach trail run 50K.. Another incredible event put together by Wendell, Sarah and Aaron ( This is my fourth ultra in four weeks, I never thought I could do this. I got to say I have to thank Janet for being such a great running partner/inspiration and Saul J, my crossfit coach ( This thing really works. Since I started crossfitting I have lost some unwanted weight, my running times have decreased considerably and I feel so much stronger.

The days was simply amazing, the weather could not be any more perfect. The forecast was right on the money… It rained the day before and it rained the day after, but for 24 hours, the conditions were just perfect for a perfect run. Unfortunately Janet, my running buddy was not able to make it, so I ran this race solo.

But there were lots of familiar faces there… including Sabrina Okada, she did her first 50K. She is a seasoned runner, but never had done anything larger that a marathon. This day she went out and conquered… More on that later..

As usual, after getting up and devouring a not so healthy breakfast, I brew myself some tea and got on the road. It was cold in San Mateo and I was a little afraid that the weather was going to be too frigid, but fortunately it was a glorious day. In my way there I missed a turn and ended up in Sausalito. I turned around and in my way back I saw one of the most amazing views I have ever seen. I actually had to stop in the side of the road and just stare… it was glorious.

As soon as I got the the site I went to check in and of course had to say to the regulars. I loved to see the familiar faces and the new ones too. I saw Sabrina and we started to talk. She was a little nervous, but I knew she will have no problem finishing the race, in fact I was watching over my shoulder most of the race. She is a tough cookie.. She will be running the Tokyo Marathon soon if I had some money laying around, I would love to go do that one too..

And we were off!! Of course this is one of my favorite parts of any race, the start. After hearing the usual instructions regarding the course markings we were given the signal to go. I started as usual… S L O W. At any race, this is when Janet and I start our 6+ hour conversations about nothing and everything.. Well, I truly missed her today and she missed out an incredible day.

Check out the trails... beautiful aren't they?

One of the many hills... pretty steep, technical and beautiful

It was déjàvu, just the weekend before we ran many of these very same trails specially coming into and out of Tennessee Valley. Going for the first 30K is fun because you have company at all times. Going out for the last 20K could get pretty lonely and it did. Nevertheless, the views were amazing and it is a really an incredible privilege to be able to see all of this. We ran through what it appears to be some sort of old military buildings. I kept thinking to myself, I wonder how much concrete was used to build this place. Steel doors, tunnels, and watch towers, an incredible spot, I wonder what it looked like in its prime.

Check out those doors, I wonder how many secrets they hold?

Sabrina finished her first 50K in 6:32... you go Sabrina.. woooohooo!

I cannot describe what it feels to run these trails and what does to my soul. As I was running by myself, I did a lot of soul searching. Thought about my life, my goals accomplished for this year and about the next year. I thought about my parents and the fact that I am not going home this Christmas and the reason why I am not.. I thought about what the next year will bring and I think I even had a couple of emotional moments. No, I am not sad just amazed of how my life has turned out to be. This year has been a great year, my life has been a great ride.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Muir Beach Trail run 50K

Muir Beach Trail run 50K

This is why I run the trails... look at the view... Amazing huh?

Another great run this past weekend… Sara and Wendell ( put together these races that are just amazing. They truly know what they are doing. I guess that is what happens when you love what you do. Amazing organization, they truly have changed the way I see running.

But on with my little report for this race, it turns out that I have been nursing a bad throat for the last three weeks. It all started when I felt I was losing my voice at the end of the days, especially after working out. In fact during the Woodside 50K I was already not feeling well. Janet also was not feeling good; she had some issues of her own as well. We decided to play it by ear… and by Wednesday I got this little note from her.. She simply said… “Ready to sign for muirwods? I got the registration page open” . I remember I was drinking tea and when I got that email I just laughed out loud so hard and I spilled my tea all over my desk... It was hilarious... But on with the story, my response to her note was “lets do it” and that was it... We were on…

Happy kids... we did great considering we were sick. Here we were at the ridge, don't let the smiles fool you... We were damn cold, but it was sooo much fun.

As the week went on, I seriously had doubts about even starting the race. My throat was not getting any better, but I managed to keep a positive outlook. Saturday came and I was up and ready to tackle the trails. Picked up Janet bright and early and we drove to the starting line. It was cold and night before it rained. In fact the forecast called for rain and we were worried about it, but neither of us wanted to be negative about the race.
As always we met a bunch of regulars.. Fred Ecks who decided to dress as Santa and ran the whole race like that.. It was great to see him. We have decided that next year if Fred runs as Santa we will dress up as elves..

Fred Ecks running as Santa... Look at him go..

But back to the story, we got to the starting line and as Janet went to check us in I sat in the car thinking.. Damn it is cold out there.. But hey… we are here and we are going to do this thing. As I was getting ready, I met this guy from France, Olivier Nepomiachty… He was soo excited and happy to be there. Unfortunately, he twisted his ankle really bad, the remarkable thing is that he finished anyway. It took him over 7 hours and change but he finished. He is definitely a real trooper..

The day was cold indeed, thank God I was wearing enough clothes.. Janet let me borrow her arm warmers and I am glad I used them. This run has lots of open spaces and it windy and cold. However the day did not turn out as bad considering the forecast. It was supposed to rain and it did rain for about 10 minutes. As we were getting back to the starting line to finish the first loop it got rainy and cold. We turned around and went for the second and last loop. Sometime after we got to Tennessee Valley, Janet told me that she thought about telling me to call it quits at then end of the first loop. I am glad she did not say anything because that is what I was thinking as well..

Janet at the ridge..

Luis in his way down to the finish line... :)

Went for the second loop and as we were finally making our way back to the end we realized that we were running at a speed that would be faster than this very same run last year. We did this in 6:46 and this time we finished in 6:22 which was fast considering that we were not feeling 100%.

I can see that I am getting stronger I love so much to run in these trails.
As I said in previous posts, this trail running thing has been a blessing for me. We are definitely a pair of tough crazy kids. Janet and the trails have been a blessing..

Hapy kids just before the start... It was damn cold I tell you..

As I prepare for the next one (next weekend) I am going to miss my running partner. But I’ll do my best to make her proud.. She is definitely a very bad influence and I love her for that. Our running adventures for the next year will be amazing.. We have a 100mile race in March and she will be running Western States 100…. Woohooo!!

Me at the ridge... Look at the view.. Isn't this incredible.. Man I cannot believe how lucky I am.

A view of the Golden Gate bridge from the trail... It was an amazing day, look at the view!! Damn.

An view of what Janet called Heart Attack hill.. People were breathing sooo hard here it was almost painful to hear.

What is next? see you on the 20th of December at Rodeo Beach 50K.. Yeah Baby!!

Wanna see more pictures? click here

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Woodside 50K

Damn… another great run today.. I am sooooooo freaking happy and excited about my performance yesterday.. I simply cannot believe how strong I am getting. It must be all the weight I have lost over the last 2 months.. Went from 154lbs to 142, that is right 12 lbs lighter and I can feel them off.

So last year I went to run this race in February. The day was miserable, raining and my IT band flared up really fast. I walked to the finish line after a miserable 30K, Janet drove me to Isabel’s house and I had to wait for about two hours in the cold because a miscommunication with Isabel. So it was not a great day, this course owed me a good run… damn it.

Taking in consideration that we ran the Quadruple dipsea trail last weekend, we were prepared to have a long day racing the Woodside 50K. Janet picked me up this time and drove to the race start. There were not too many of us for this particular race. We saw two people wearing the quad dipsea shirts, we acknowledged each other. Met Brian Harvey, my scar buddy, this guy is also a great runner and he and I share a commonality, brain surgery and a passion for trail running


Scar buddies!!

We started slow since we knew we were going to have a long day in the course. Many people passed us really quick and we settle for a nice easy pace. As the day went by we started to pick up the pace without realizing it. We thought we were going slowly. There was this guy who stayed with us for a big part of the race. We talked for a while and shared running stories. My shoe become untied and he took off really fast; we finally caught him a few miles before the end of the race. At that moment we realized that we could go under 6 hours, we could not believe it. What the hell, I personally could not believe it since if I did go under 6 hours it would be probably a PR for me. So with that in that in mind we picked up the pace, really picked up the pace and went for it. At one point we saw a runner in the distance and we were probably doing 8 minute miles or so, we were cruising and I remember her face as we passed her. She made one of those faces that say it all, “how can you run that fast after so long?”


Janet and I were so happy, in our way back we could not stop thinking and talking about it. Went to get some Jamba Juice to celebrate, she dropped me home and we talked about doing it again next weekend. Yes, another 50K next weekend, that will be three ultras in three weeks… we are soooooo bad asses.

The highlight of my day wasn’t the fact that we ran a great race, or the fact that I felt good. The highlight of my day was at the end of the race. I was talking to this guy who also did Quad last weekend and he asked my name, I said Luis. He said, “Luis Velasquez?” I was like… wow… he knows who I am. It was a great feeling indeed.

I am excited about this race, I am really happy about the outcome. Yet I see myself humbled by the experience. When we saw the leaders coming back and see how fast they were running it was amazing. 5 hours 52 minutes is a decent time, but when you compared to the winning times it is just a turtle pace. But it does not matter, a PR is a PR and I take that any day.

As the end of the year approaches, and I am about to see another number added to my age, I realize that I am a blessed individual. I have lived a full life and I wish with all of my heart that next year will be better than this year. I have gone through a lot in my life and I know that no matter what, the only thing we have today is today. People in my life bring joy and I hope they always will.