Tag Archives: Piedmont

Piedmont Turkey Trot 5K – 2016

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, I’m back in my hometown of Piedmont.  (Last year we were in Hong Kong.)

I seem to remember from years past that we would park in the lot by the park, but we end up parking about 5 blocks away near the terminus of Highland Avenue.

Riva is hurting a little so she says that there is a possibility that I will finish ahead of her.  (Yeah, like that will happen.)

My goal at this race is to try not to walk the hills (though it is a big temptation because there are so many).

I did situate myself at the front so that I wouldn’t get caught up in the slow crowd, and maybe the surge will take me along to the downhill at the far end of Highland and give me the impetus to climb up Wildwood (where I always tend to walk).  Mile 1 – 7:36.  (I am running UP Wildwood.)

From Mile 1 to Mile 2, there are a number of hills and I couldn’t quite not walk all of them.  I gave myself permission to walk up St. James to Hampton, and to walk a portion of the Seaview incline, but I still managed 9:22 (which is really good for walking hills).

Mile 3 to the end is mostly downhill (with a little dipsy-doodle towards the end) so I pushed the best I could, managing a 7:22 final mile, with a 47 second last tenth (about 7:50/mile).

My 24:59 was almost a minute ahead of Riva’s time.  (She still did well considering that she wasn’t anywhere near 100%.)

Dad was 2nd in his age group (out of 5 80 year-olds) but the rest of us didn’t factor into the results at all.  I was 238th overall and 29th in my age group, but consider that there were over 2,600 runners, so I’m good with the top 10%.

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Piedmont Turkey Trot 5K – 2013

November 28, 2013

Back to Piedmont for my hometown Turkey Trot.  The race has only been around for the last several years and does not date back to when I lived here.  It ran by my childhood home, which my parents sold back in 2005. =(

The race has always been pretty small and a 3M course.  When I was in middle school, it was a 5K course called The Feet Meet.  In my family, this course is known as “the route,” because it is what my parents walk for exercise when they are in California, and is a scenic 5K around Piedmont.  I almost used this course probably 30 years ago when I wanted to stage my own Ironman Triathlon (500 laps in our pool, 37 loops of “the route” on my bike, and 9 loops on foot) – I was not a runner at this point, but I thought it would be a good challenge… that would probably take me an entire summer.

The course is slightly different this year… I think, hence, why it is a 5K and not a 3-miler.  They have also put in reasonable age groups… since last time Mom and Dad “competed,” the top age group was 50+, which is hardly fair to people 60+… just like I don’t want to compete with high schoolers!

In the actual race, I did my best to run nearly all of the course.  The hardest part is the run up Wildwood Avenue.  It is not super steep, but is significantly uphill and goes for about 5 sucky blocks.  Then, normally, the course turns onto Crocker and continues straight for a 1/4 mile, but to add the extra tenth, we turn and go around a long block back to Crocker, which heads downhill (basically negating the uphill from before) to Saint James.

Saint James is another street with a slight uphill, which gets steeper and steeper before culminating in an extremely steep (but short) section up Hampton… but today, we turn a long block sooner (still uphill, but not steep) and connect to Hampton sooner.

Finally, there is the long slog up Seaview.  Again, with the continuous uphill for a half-mile, and then mostly downhill to the finish.

One part that I am used to is crossing over Highland Avenue, going about a block, and shooting straight into the high school driveway and finishing.  This year, we go THREE blocks (!) to Hillside, and that ends up with an UPHILL finish.

The race was super crowded and I did walk a little… but I am pretty good at maximizing my speed while walking and then being able to run faster when I am running… so I did do 24:43 (officially) which is right around 8:00/mile… but that was only good enough for 35th place in the 40-49 division.

Afterwards, I went back out on the course to try and find my parents and sister… and ended up walking and talking with a bunch of people I had not seen in a while, including a bearded Josh Eichhorn (Class of ’91) and his sister Rebecca (Class of ’88).  He was only just ahead of my family, so I wouldn’t exactly call him a runner.

Mom, Dad and Marisa came in around 50 minutes… and Mom & Dad ended up in the Pewter division (aka 4th), which resulted in no special prizes… except our own special prize of spending Thanksgiving together as a family.

Skyline 50K – 2013

August 11, 2013

In the 24 years since I have graduated high school, I have lost one classmate to electrocution (Tim C.) and one to cancer (Carrie Y.).  Additionally, two more of my classmates have had and survived cancer.  I suppose, in the grand scheme of things, as time passes, people suffer freak accidents, die of cancer, etc., and this will only increase as time goes on.

It seems more significant to me because of the close connection I had with many of my classmates in our years of school together.  The size of my hometown, Piedmont, is only about 10,000, so there were 5 schools – 3 elementary, 1 middle and 1 high school.  A majority of my graduating class went through school with me from 6th grade through 12th grade.  Another third of them I have known 10-12 years, because we all attended the same elementary school.  Additionally, some who I only went through 7 years with, I knew through a youth church group or children’s choir.

There were only 163 of us to begin with, so losing someone is a major blow, even when, as adults, we do not see each other as much as we did as kids.

Earlier this year in March, at the Piedmont Choirs Gala (a fundraiser for the choir my mom founded in 1982 that my entire family attends), I learned that one of my classmates who had previously beaten cancer, Brian Kelly, had cancer once again.  He had had a persistent headache and a cold that would not go away (I think you would have to be a hypochondriac to go to the doctor with that condition!) and it turned out to be a brain tumor and lung cancer!

I was super-concerned because usually with people who have cancer, it gets worse the second (or third) time around.  Brian was cautiously optimistic, having been through treatment before.  Of course, there were some issues with how to treat the lung cancer while also dealing with the brain tumor.  The chemotherapy (as always) was extremely debilitating, but Brian at least had Facebook as a virtual visit from all of his friends.

On August 1st, Brian’s wife posted on CaringBridge that Brian had been accepted into a study where he would receive a new medication that had had good results with certain kinds of patients (read: it might work really well… or not).  He received his first dose and would find out within a few weeks if there was any progress.

However, only a few days later, she posted that the treatment had not had a chance to work and that his doctors had decided that the best course was for him to enter hospice (so many ups and downs within a few days!), and that he might only have weeks of life left.

A dozen years ago when classmate Tim Cutler was electrocuted the day before his wedding, I scanned his senior picture and pinned it to my back in a race, so I could run in his memory.

Now, this week, I thought, I shouldn’t wait until Brian is dead to run for him.  Even though I didn’t know the extent of his decline (obviously, going to hospice is pretty dire), I felt that maybe from his home bed, if he read about that I was running for him, he might fight that little bit more. I thought a lot about the wording and thought my run would be an allegory for his struggle (ups and downs, slowing down at the end, but NEVER stopping).

I created my pace sheet for the race, and on the back was a picture of Brian and his wife (in better days).  I would be thinking about him during the race, and I would have him with me to inspire me.

I left to drive up to Oakland at 4:45am, and I figured I would post to Facebook just as soon as I arrived.

But when I got to my folks’ place at 9:00am, my mom relayed a message from Brian’s sister, that he had passed away an hour or so before.  I had not yet posted my message and he would never get to see it.

Once I knew that the news was “official” (we found out before a lot of other people so I didn’t want to be the first person posting R.I.P.),I  posted that I had planned to run in his HONOR, but would be running in his MEMORY.  I would enjoy my sojourn with nature and just think about the good and bad times we had.

At the start, I ran into a few old friends that I see at all of these races, but for the most part, I told people that I was running for my friend and showed them the picture.  I used a pen to write in the dates of birth and death (he was 2 weeks shy of his 43rd birthday) and tucked my laminated pace sheet between my water bottle and the hand-grip.

As per my usual, I managed my expectations for the day by walking all the hills and running when I could.  The first section, which circumscribes Lake Chabot is mostly flat, and the rush of the crowd pulls you along at a faster pace than you want to go.  I did 11 minute miles (FAST!).  For pace comparison, if I averaged TWELVE minute miles, I would do 6:18 (my PR on this course from 10 years ago is 6:05).

However, I figured that if the morning fog lifted halfway along the course, I would need some banked time to make up for the time lost to heat-induced high heart rate.  Cardiology had wanted me to come in this past Friday to get fitted for my Holter monitor, but I am glad that I did not have to deal with it in this ultra.

I stayed under a 12 minute per mile pace through 9.5 miles, but then got to the long hill up to Skyline Gate and the turnaround at 14.2 miles (longer on the way back).  The fog continued and kept the temperature cool.

Despite walking much of the hill, I kept my pace under 15 minute per mile.  I was kinda hoping to see Shauna Revelli (friend of my sister Marisa and now me), but she didn’t come to cheer me on.

Once I passed the “halfway” point, it was mostly downhill, though the clouds were parting and it started to get warmer, evidenced by the fact that I averaged 16 minutes mile going downhill!

The sun truly was out and hot on the hardest section of the trail, which is a mile-long ascent with limited shade, followed by a gentle downhill but on a hard rock surface.  At this point, I was essentially by myself and had some more time to think about how Brian impacted my life.

I don’t remember precisely when I met Brian, whether it was in church or in Piedmont Choirs.  Brian was a bit of a troublemaker, and we were never “besties,” but we toured together to Canada for the Kathaumixw music festival (where I won the Under 16 Solo Competition).  On this section of trail, I was singing some of our favorite choir songs to myself.

Once I cleared the hilly section (surprisingly at a faster pace than the downhill section – must have been the singing), there is the second-longest section – 5.3 miles – that in my estimation, goes on and on and on and on.  It is hard for me to tell how close I am getting to the aid station because everything looks the same.

On this next section, I reminisced about high school.  Brian and I sang in A Capella (the choir class) which did a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta each year and 3 big concerts a year (including the Messiah sophomore year).  Our senior year, we acted together in The Music Man, and were both part of the Barbershop Quartet.  Mark McDonald was the bass, Brian was the baritone, Phil Kim was the first tenor and I was the lead (because my voice still hadn’t changed).  It was different because we had to blend with each other (not just blast out as the chorus) and we worked separately.  Also, it was special for Brian because his dad sang in a barbershop quartet.

During this long section, I sang through the various Music Man songs we did – Rock Island (the train song – “Cash for the Merchandise, Cash for the Hogshead… Whaddya talk Whaddya talk Whaddaya talk!”), Lida Rose, and How Can There Be Any Sin in Sincere?

That last song was especially poignant because of the words:  How can there be any sin in sincere?  Where is the good in goodbye?  I got a little emotional on this section because the words rang true.  This was my goodbye to Brian.  I would never see him again and never sing with him again.

When I got to the aid station, my time was already slower than my time from 2012, but I didn’t really care.  I just wanted to get to the end, battle to the finish, and do it for Brian.

It was super hot at this point and most of the last 3 miles are exposed to the sun.  The beginning of the section is a steep downhill on dirt.  When I got to the bottom, a familiar runner came blasting by me – Kat – and took a tumble.  I stopped and helped her up.  She thanked me and continued on.

I was reduced to a walk at this point.  Each time I tried to take a running step, the heat and my heart rate forced me to walk again.  After the suspension bridge about 1.5 miles from the end, I got onto the paved and was able to shuffle to the end.

Although I was 50 minutes slower than last year, in a way, this year was equally as satisfying, though sadder.

I needed to get on the road to drive back to Long Beach by 6pm, so I could continue my Boeing 5K streak the next day, but I returned to my folks for an early dinner, to post my finishing time of 7:32:53, and to snap a photo commemorating my memorial run.  Rest in Peace, Brian.

Post Skyline 50K with Brian in my hand.

Post Skyline 50K with Brian in my hand.

Piedmont Turkey Trot 5K – 2011

November 24, 2011

After nearly 10 days off of running, I am not quite back to normal… but it feels a little normal being back in my hometown.  The race, of course, starts with a slight uphill, and I started walking immediately.  Yuck.  Basically, I had to walk all of the hills.

Everyone in the family is in the Bay Area, including my two nephews.  Evan, 6, decides before the race that he wants to run with me.  We are trying to explain to him that he will not be able to run with me at the pace I want to go.  I think, he thinks he does, but he doesn’t.  He ends up not even doing the entire event, but cuts it short in order to get back to the start with my folks.  If they gave out age group awards with a better top group than 50+, I would have encouraged Dad to make Evan tough it out, but even a skilled 77 year-old cannot outkick a 50 year-old.

About 1.3 miles in, I saw a high school classmate pushing a stroller (Vince Saunders, I think).  He said, “How’s the race going?”  I said, “Horrible!” as I passed him.  Afterwards, I thought, ‘Why did I say that? It’s not going horribly… I just haven’t run in days and feel a bit off.’  After the race, I found him and said that I had just finished 100K, so I felt off… and that I was exaggerating.

I was satisfied… if not pleased with my time of 26:20.  Not like I am going to be a top Master in this race…

Piedmont Turkey Trot 3M – 2010

November 25, 2010

A few days after my ultra, I drove up to the Bay Area for Thanksgiving with my family.  A tradition the past few years is the Piedmont Turkey Trot.

Of course, I am not in the right shape to do well at it… this is another try-and-recover (almost) 5K run.  I decided that I would walk fast (pace walk) and see how it went.

The difficulty in doing this race as a racewalk, is that the course is not flat.  Race walking is great on a flat course; it is difficult to keep form with lots of ups and downs, and that is what this course is entirely made of.

I am pretty happy with my times (splits were 10:13, 11:45 (the really hilly section), and 10:16) which totaled 32:11.  That’s close to my 5K PR, except this was only 3 miles… so about 30 seconds off.

Piedmont Turkey Trot 3M – 2009

November 26, 2009

I spent Thanksgiving in the Bay Area with my family.  It is weird, because I am going to be back next weekend for The North Face Ultra, so I will have two drives up and down California in the span of 10 days.

I ran the Piedmont Turkey Trot (which is really a version of the first race I ever ran in 6th grade – when I didn’t run) and my parents and sister bandit-walked it.

The best part of this race is that it is my hometown race, and anyone who is visiting their parents (yes, even 20 years after graduating from high school) will probably show up to run this event, plus some random people that I didn’t know lived in Piedmont.

One of the “random” people was Mark Gilligan, who I met in June in Santa Barbara for the Blue Canyon Trail Race.  We are about 4 months apart in age, but he is a much better runner than I am.  He is also the founder of UltraSignUp.com, which had been handling a number of online payments for ultramarathons.  We struck up a conversation about how I like his website so much better than Active.com, because they ask you a million question that are not germane to whatever you are signing up for.

We ended up figuring a way to utilize his website to process AREC memberships at a lower credit card charge than Active (and still use it).

Piedmont Turkey Trot is very hilly (Piedmont is named for “Pie d’ Mont,” which means ‘Foot of the Mountain,’ go figure), but I felt decent in the beginning, and even with walking the hills, I finished in 23:06, good enough for 78th overall (they listed the top 100 finishers online), but not good enough for top 3 in the 30-39 (never going to happen).

The highlight of the weekend, however, was going to the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.  Fascinating.

Boeing 5K (7) – 2009

August 10, 2009

Since the triathlon, I have not raced.  This is not due to some kind of exhaustion, but rather the advent of my 20-year high school reunion.  I was able to do the triathlon because I opted against doing the Skyline 50K (which is often the same weekend), because then I would be in the Bay Area two consecutive weekends, and that ends up being a lot of driving.

Friday night of the reunion, many of us gathered at the old Kings X bar on Piedmont Avenue (now a Tiki Bar).  I had never been there, but drove by thousands of times in my life.  I tried to drum up some support for people to join me the next day and run trails up at Skyline Gate.  Some said they might go, which is code for, “Absolutely not.”

I went up by myself in morning and was just running on my own, when a runner asked me if I knew the way to Bort Meadows.  I did, in a sort of fashion (having to do with running by it on several Skyline 50Ks).  We ended up running together (and never finding the Meadows), but the pace was nice and I had a good time.

The other runner turned out to be the wife of a former Seal Beach Boeing employee… and ironically, I was running the Boeing 5K on the Monday after the reunion!

The reunion was great.  Probably unlike most people (unless you went to a private school), I knew EVERYONE in my graduating class.  This is not to say that I was close friends with all of them, but most of them I had known for at least 7 years of middle and high school, and probably 3 dozen of them I had had 3-6 years of elementary school with them (or we went to the same church).  People who know me now know that I am pretty good with names and faces, but this was more due to the fact that there were only 162 people in my graduating class (I’m from the era known as the “Baby Bust,” so there aren’t as many of us).

We had a good turnout – probably about 120 people (maybe 80 classmates, plus spouses).  I made the name tags, which were their names and their senior pictures (and laminated).  Most people looked the same to me (but with Facebook and other social media, we are not totally out of touch with one another).  Two of my classmates had died since graduating – one of pancreatic cancer, and the other by electrocution (while out on a run the morning of his wedding).

On Sunday morning, we had a picnic, which was attended by classmates, any kids, parents of my classmates, and a number of my teachers from elementary, middle and high school.  Very fun to reminisce.  I drove back in the afternoon to Long Beach so I could run the Boeing 5K in the morning.

The run itself did not start out too great.  The time in the car, having a long weekend, headwinds, etc., contributed to a slowish out- time… but I recovered on the way back and posted 22:13… the identical time from last month (which was my best of the year).