Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wharf to Wharf PR, San Jose half marathon PR

Wharf to Wharf PR:
Wharf to Wharf is a race that I've done in the past, but not recently since SF marathon events take place on the same day generally.  This year I decided to not do SF marathon events since last year I had hydration problems, mainly caused from not drinking enough fluids since the course provided liquid was Nuun (which has no calories).

Wharf to Wharf is one of my favorite races because it takes place in Santa Cruz, with generally perfect race conditions.  And there are always tons of bands on course for entertainment.

This year was no different - it was a great time.  My girlfriend Andrea dropped me off at the start line and met me at the finish line, which was awesome.  My best overall Wharf to Wharf time ever is 37:38 from the year 2000 when I was in phenomenal shape.  I don't think I will ever beat that time, but who knows.  I got somewhat close to it this year, setting another post 2000 PR.

Mile 1 - 6:40

Mile 2 - 6:36

Mile 3 - 6:31

Mile 4 - 6:28

Mile 5 - 6:35

Mile 6 - 6:30

Wharf to Wharf
6 miles
Time: 39:30
6:33 mile pace

San Jose half marathon PR:
While my girlfriend Andrea and I are training for the New York City Marathon on 11/1, my main target race for time was the San Jose Rock N Roll half marathon on 9/27/15.  I realize that training for a marathon can sap your speed at shorter distances, making it harder to set a PR at shorter distances.

So in general while the NYC marathon training was going pretty well overall, I felt like I was getting a little bit slower, despite continuing to do speed workouts every Wednesday.  Another note going into this race is that the previous Sunday I was intending on doing a 13 mile run, but around mile 10 I started feeling really dizzy and like I couldn't go any further.  It was hot that day, and I didn't sleep the best the previous night because of this.  So I ended up taking a Lyft ride home (glad I had my phone with me).  So since I bonked on a 10 mile run, I had no idea if my body was going to be able to respond with a good race performance or not.

My goal intention was to run a 1:34 or so, as my PR from last year was a 1:35 at SJ RNR.

On race day, I started out slow the first couple miles, and then gradually settled into a pace that felt comfortable.  It was surprising how well my body responded after last weeks bonking on the course.  I saw tons of people from my running group, and other running groups that I've started to get to know - I probably saw 20 people total that I knew!

It seemed like during the race that I was constantly passing people, it wasn't until the very end that I found a couple people to run with that were running my pace.  I started in Corral 2, so I didn't start too far back, but maybe I should have started closer to the start line?

It was an awesome day and race overall - ran a perfect race to set a PR, saw tons of friends, the crowds and cheering on the course were awesome.  A fantastic day. It probably is my best race post high school.  I was shocked at how well I ran considering that I bonked the previous week.  I realized that simply doing miles helps you with any race, and continuing to do speedwork helps as well in maintaining your speed.

Mile 1 - 7:22 (175 heartrate)

Mile 2 - 7:03 (185 heartrate)

Mile 3 - 6:54 (183 heartrate)

Mile 4 - 6:59 (183 heartrate)

Mile 5 - 6:55 (180 heartrate)

Mile 6 - 7:08 (179 heartrate)

Mile 7 - 7:01 (179 heartrate)

Mile 8 - 7:03 (179 heartrate)

Mile 9 - 7:09 (179 heartrate)

Mile 10 - 7:01 (179 heartrate)

Mile 11 - 6:59 (180 heartrate)

Mile 12 - 7:03 (185 heartrate)

Mile 13 - 7:00 (184 heartrate)

Mile 13.1 - 7:10 pace

San Jose Rock N Roll San Jose half marathon
Time: 1:33:38
7:09 mile pace
257/8276 overall (3.1%)
38/721 division (5.3%)
211/4256 gender (5.0%)
180 average heartrate

5K - 22:43
10K - 44:48
10 miles - 1:11:40

My running is going great recently, next race is NYC marathon!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Bay to Breakers 12K PR race recap

Bay to Breakers 12K race recap:

Bay to Breakers race was in May, this has always been my favorite race of the year - maybe because of how unique and chaotic the race is, and also because I've now done it 14 times (more than any other race by far).  My 2012 race recap is probably the best for some background on the race, and other useful info.  2011 race recap is here too.  As well as last year's recap too.  This year I was fully healthy (or healthy enough) to race it full out just like last year, so I was really excited for this race.  

My fitness in general was better than it was in 2014, mainly due to doing speed workouts regularly. My base mileage was about the same as last year.  So due to that, I figured that I would be able to beat my PR from last year by a little bit.  Though I was curious to run the race and find out what would happen.

This year I was able to get a sub seeded number, maybe due to posting a good time last  year?  I was pumped to actually be able to be in the sub seeded corral on my own accord, instead of sneaking in to the corral like I did last year lol.

My girlfriend Andrea wasn't running the race, but was gracious enough to drop me off at the start line and then meet me at the finish line.

It was a great day for running - maybe 60 degrees, and I simply walked towards the start line from the opposite direction - cool to see the streets completely empty

Now I know for the future that if you simply walk towards the start line from the opposite direction, you can walk right into the seeded and sub seeded corral lol

I finally got a number in this corral lol

I had no idea that the race had a VIP area, apparently its a part of the warmup area for the seeded runners

the seeded corral was pretty empty even as race time approached

it started to fill up a bit, but still wasn't very crowded at the start line

Mile 1 - 6:59 (168 heartrate)        (last year 6:57)
When the gun went off I got out pretty well, just trying to settle into my pace a bit, and avoid the chaos of the early miles at B2B.  The first mile wasn't as chaotic as last year's race which was nice lol.  The race also started on time this year (as opposed to the 30 minute delay that took place last year).  It was cool being in the front of the race again, and seeing the massive crowds on both sides of the course.  Bay to Breakers is my favorite race due to how big the race is, and just the zany costumes and chaos that takes place among the spectators along the course.  All kinds of beverages are consumed by spectators along the route, many of them likely imbiding well before the race started at 8 lol.  

Mile 2 - 6:48 (175 heartrate)      (last year 7:00)
I was trying to settle in a bit to a pace that felt appropriate for me, seemed like that was about 6:50 ish pace or so give or take.  I kind of forget the costumes on the side of the road that I saw - they were all over the map.  

Mile 3 - 7:29 (183 heartrate)      (last year 7:36)
The main hill on the Bay to Breakers course is called the Hayes Street Hill, which is basically a big incline hill that has 10 street landings on it.  Last year they timed you on how long it took to run it, which is a cool feature.  Apparently I'm a better hill runner than I am a flat runner, since I always seem to get a higher placing on the hill than I do on the actual race.

This year I ran it in 4:14, which ranked 393rd overall, and I ended up finishing 470th overall on the race itself.  Not sure what entirely that means, maybe I should have tried to run it even slower and push more on the flat parts?  

The hill seemed to hurt about as bad as last year, near the end of it I definitely hurt a lot.  

Apparently there was a photographer at the top of Hayes Street Hill this year?  The pink ladies in the background which is cool

Mile 4 - 7:02 (184 heartrate)        (last year 7:14)
Miles 4 and 5 are basically all flat, with a slight incline on mile 4 that is a deceptively big incline because you are still tired from Hayes Street Hill.  I ran past the Conservancy of Flowers, more parts of the park, and was trying to keep up my speed.  

Mile 5 - 6:51 (182 heartrate)        (last year 6:56)
From mile 5.2 onward the course is basically downhill or flat, so I tried to push as much as possible to let my legs go out there.  Just like last year, it seems like my legs simply could not go any faster, and I was steadily being passed by other runners out there it seemed like.  It's like I don't have another gear that other runners have in them or something on the flats or downhill parts of the course.  

Mile 6 - 6:35 (177 heartrate)       (last year 6:37)
More of the same - downhill or flat - just trying to keep the legs rolling and going as fast as possible. More of Golden Gate Park - I was surprised not to see a photographer at around mile 6 like last year, apparently they didn't have them out there for some reason this year.  

Mile 7 - 6:43 (172 heartrate)      (last year 6:36)
I was working really hard the entire race to try to beat my time from last year - I was just thinking about that in order to set a PR in a race, you need to work really hard.  I was at my physical limit trying to beat my time from last year.  I like to think that in order to achieve something, you need to pay to play.  Are you willing to make that sacrifice to get that achievement?  Almost always, I am willing.  And the reward was another PR on the course.  Which makes the physical pain worth it.  

Mile 7.45 - 3:19 (6:25 pace) (173 heartrate)        (last year 6:23 pace)
Luckily the race was ending soon, and my girlfriend Andrea would be at the finish line, which is awesome.  I didn't know my exact time, but I felt like I was ahead of my pace from last year, which would be a PR.  Though I didn't know exactly how much I had beat it by.  I saw my girlfriend Andrea as I rounded the last corner which was awesome!  

After the race ended, me and Andrea met up in the finish line area, and got some snacks and headed to the Beach Chalet for a post race beer.  

dying down the home stretch lol

Bay to Breakers
12K (7.45 miles)
51:46 (PR)
6:57 mile pace 
XXX average heartrate
 470/29971 overall (1.6%)
42/1652 age group (2.5%)
405/13884 gender (2.9%)
Hayes Street Hill time 4:14 - 393/29971 overall rank, 31/1652 division rank (I beat my Hayes Street Hill time from last year by 2 seconds)

I ended up beating my time from last year by 30 seconds, which was nice to see.  That now makes 10 races in a row that I've set a PR if I wanted to set a PR.  Which is pretty crazy to think about. 

elite post race hangout spot

this was hilarious - a dunk spot filled with those plastic balls lol

probably the best post race stand I've ever seen - Little Debbie cakes!

a nice medal for this year, along with a cowbell!

Race overall thoughts:
This years Bay to Breakers might have been the most organized of any Bay to Breakers that I've ever done.  I saw virtually no problems at all anywhere - either on the course or in the crowd.  Though I may need to qualify that since I finished so close to the front compared to everyone else, and much of the race chaos is at the back of the pack.  Though even in reading the SF Gate articles about the race, they said there were fewer arrests, and fewer complaints from the neighbors than in prior years.  I kind of wish that the race didn't need to basically try to ban alcohol due to all the craziness that had happened in the past, but race participants pushed the envelope too much in 2009 and 2010 with floats and alcohol madness that they forced race organizers to take drastic action in 2011.  Maybe things have finally stabilized this year so that the race is fun, but it's not too over the line.  

Monday, July 27, 2015

Coachella 2015 recap

This is again an old post that I should have done a long time ago lol

My annual concert pilgrimage to Coachella took place in mid April, right after tax season ended.  This was my 10th year, with my first year going back in 2006.  Hard to believe that it has been 10 years of going to this festival, I still look forward to going to it every year.  It is exciting to see how the festival has changed over the years - generally the changes made have enhanced the festival experience for us.  The festival has definitely become way more popular than it was back in 2006 - back then sometimes the festival didn't even sell out, whereas now it sells out in 45 minutes online.

Our group camped onsite again, which has gradually become tougher for me to take, since the sun turns your tent into an oven around 8 AM every day, waking you up whether you want to or not.  Though it is convenient to be able to simply walk into the festival grounds when the gates open at 11 AM.  Sometime I would like to stay off site in a hotel or house, and take a shuttle into the festival, to be able to sleep in an actual bed lol.

I ended up seeing parts of 32 bands over the 3 days.  Sunday was overall my favorite day of the 3, it was overall a good Coachella, but I'd rank it somewhere in the lower half of my all time rankings.  There simply wasn't a ton of bands that I was really excited about as in prior years.  Still though, Coachella is always an awesome experience for the people you go with, and the bands you see.

Here are the prior recaps - 201420132012, and 2011.

The Do Lab is the DJ performing tent or art tent where you can go to cool down with water misters - They designed it more like a ship, which looked cool.  Only problem is the design limited the amount of people that could be in the tent this way (cool part is they had a pirate ship elevated in the tree off to my right here)

Outdoor stage is always one of my favorite stages to go to for the backdrop against the palm trees

Saw the son of John Lennon (Sean Lennon) - his band Ghost of a Sabre Tooth Tiger put on a good performance (psychedelic rock sound)

in 2013 Poetic Kinetics company made a moving snail which made its way around the grounds
in 2014 the company made a moving spaceman - which to me is the best thing I've ever seen at Coachella
this year, they made a caterpillar, which is pretty amazing, but I'm not sure anything will beat the spaceman from last year

I saw some of Kimbra (who sang guest vocals on Gotye's song "Somebody I Used to Know" - a nice flamboyant performance

The Sahara tent has changed the most of any stage since 2006 - now is it 5 stories tall, and filled with tons of lights and everything.  Pretty amazing tent now

Hard to beat a Coachella sunset

AC/DC put on an amazing performance - hearing Thunderstruck live gave me goosebumps
Angus Young is an amazing guitarist, here he is on a levitating platform

nice to see some punk with Radkey - great stuff

Coasts put on a great set as well - reminded me somewhat of Bastille

the caterpillar transformed into a butterfly on day 2 which was really cool (I liked the butterfly more than the caterpillar)

Ryn Weaver put on a good pop performance - she is from San Diego and had some family on hand

Awesome to see Bad Religion live - though the lead singer reminded me more of a biology teacher than a punk rock band lead singer lol

Sunday was punk rock day - started off with a great performance from Touche Amore

punk rock day continued with Joyce Manor at the Outdoor stage

Danish singer MØ (on the right in this pic) put on a great performance - she sort of reminds me of Madonna, with some nice dance moves and catchy tunes

I saw The Cribs at Coachella 2007, nice to see some Brit alt rock again this year

I got pretty close for Kaskade's DJ set on the main stage (reminded me of the scene at Calvin Harris from last year) - great set from him

Kygo had some great graphics, though his beats were fairly repetitive

Thursday, July 9, 2015

1955 BART plan review

1955 BART plan review:
My girlfriend Andrea and I went to the Environmental Design Library in Berkeley to view the original 1955 BART plan. I've always been fascinated by how BART wasn't fully approved, so I wanted to view the entire plan myself. It was awesome to check it out. The basic story is that Santa Clara County supervisors opted out of BART in 1957 - preferring instead to build expressways. This resulted in both San Mateo and Marin County not being able to proceed forward, resulting in the current system that we have now. It is amazing that after reading the dire predictions for commuting in the future that elected officials in Santa Clara County opted out. Shameful. Can you imagine taking BART from Campbell all the way to Santa Rosa? If the transit system that Parsons Brinkerhoff proposed in this report had been approved in full, the bay area would be way better off. We would spend less time talking about driving and traffic, and more time enjoying life.

It was fascinating to read the report and see how accurate they were in predicting how the bay area would look like in 1990, when they were writing the report in 1955. It's like a real life version of the movie Back to the Future II. It also shows how important each and every one of our votes are, and that things need to be understood before voting on them. Elected officials back then seemed to be swayed by the auto industry lobby, which might be one reason that it didn't get built in full. Also why I always read the actual text of what is being proposed, instead of what a politican is saying about a measure. Hopefully public transit can still have a future in the bay area.

It is hard to imagine that any elected official in power would not take that report seriously - and that the bay area needed a viable public transit system ASAP with the growth expected.  Santa Clara County supervisors should be ashamed of themselves for declaring that they don't want BART, and they will build expressways instead.  They probably never sat in traffic on 880, 101, 85 or 87.  

Crazy that the entire BART plan (1st stage, 2nd stage and extensions) cost only $1,545,000,000 in 1955.  If you inflate that number to current day it is only $14 billion, which seems like a small number compared to having an amazing public transit system in the bay area.  

I took about 50 pictures of the BART plan as well - I put them below along with captions for each one.  

Some other links that you might find interesting:
Here is a brief history of BART

Here is the wikipedia on BART

Jake Coolidge map of BART as proposed:

Jake Coolidge thesis about BART as compared to other transit plans

Some great info from a Princeton article

When the Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission was created in 1951, there were massive amounts of Federal and State funding available for highways —and none for transit.

In addition, the State legislature was unwilling to finance even a major portion of the transit planning, except through a loan matched by local funds. Thus, no State money could be counted on to help pay for the cost of construction, which was bound to be many hundreds of times the cost of planning.

1957: Santa Clara County supervisors say no thanks to BART, preferring to build expressways.
1961: San Mateo County supervisors vote to leave BART, saying their voters would be paying taxes to carry mainly Santa Clara County residents. Real estate agent David Bohannon influenced the supervisors to drop out, fearing it would affect planned development along I-280.

the original BART plan from 1955 was massive in size!

the cover page

Parsons Brinkerhoff''s title page letter to the SF Bay Area Rapid Transit Commission

If the entire 1955 plan had been adopted, BART would have literally been all over the bay area. All the way south to Campbell and San Jose. North to Santa Rosa, Napa and Fairfield. East to Brentwood and Livermore. And across every bridge - Bay, Golden, Dumbarton, San Mateo, Richmond, Carquinez, and Benicia.

The key for the previous picture - the first stage was a solid line. 2nd stage was a dashed line.

This picture perfectly illustrates the problem of more people coming to the bay area. "With the population foredcasted to increase by more than 50% in the next 15 years, they loom as staggering."

"The dominant question for the Bay Area is whether to accept the stagnation and decline of interurban transit and to prepare for drastic decentralization and repatterning of its urban centers to meet the avalanche of automobiles that will result."

Travel times between cities based on the 1955 BART plan - wouldn't it be amazing to get from San Jose to Santa Rosa in 2 hours, 15 minutes on a train? (Centerville is Fremont FYI)

The current travel times between cities in 1955 by fastest available transportation - mainly by car. Way slower. The south bay travel times are still basically the same in 2015. (Centerville is Fremont FYI)

The first stage of the system cost $717 million in 1955 - which equates to $6 billion in todays dollars. A lot of money, but to build an amazing public transit system that seems cheap to me. The entire system would have cost $14 billion in todays dollars. Again, this is a lot, but to have an outstanding public transit system would repay the area with growth.

the bay bridge in gridlock with car traffic

The report forecasted the bay area to grow to 7 million people by 1990 - which is remarkably accurate. Based on wikipedia there are 7.56 million people in the bay area based on the 2010 census. Maybe less people came here than projected due to the high rent and traffic? 

bay area was relatively empty still in 1955

This photo is hard to read - but it lists various industries and the forecasted growth in each industry in the future. Little did they know that technology would soon rule this valley

This population forecast is remarkably accurate as well - it forecasted a high of 31 million people in CA in 1990 - ended up being 30 million. In Santa Clara county even the 1990 high forecast was too low - ended up being 1.5 million people in 1990. (compared with 1.15 million as the highest forecast) 

Current automobile traffic in 1955 was highest at the same spots that it is now - though maybe the east bay and 580 are more packed now.

The report predicted a big expansion in business and people to Palo Alto in the future - and that would be correct.

A close up view of land use in 1955 - green meant that it was farmland. Cupertino isn't even on the map yet. Lots of land available.

The key for the previous map picture - the bay area was still relatively empty in 1955. Though apparently even with the current population it seemed like traffic was already bad in some spots.

Zoomed out map of the whole bay area land use (see previous picture for key). A lot of green farmland still in the bay area. Though apparently there was still traffic despite not being very many people in the area?

Interesting paragraph arguing that mass transit should get a dedicated lane away from all other traffic (thus the elevated and separated BART train tracks). 

This is basically the whole BART plan that was proposed, if it had been built to the fullest extent based on the report. It would have literally gone everywhere.

Southern Pacific railroad is the precursor to Caltrain, so the Peninsula's needs for transit were somewhat addressed - but not fully addressed in my opinion. I wish BART had come all the way down to San Jose

Southern Pacific railroad is the precursor to Caltrain, so the Peninsula's needs for transit were somewhat addressed - but not fully addressed in my opinion. I wish BART had come all the way down to San Jose

Southern Pacific railroad is the precursor to Caltrain, so the Peninsula's needs for transit were somewhat addressed - but not fully addressed in my opinion. I wish BART had come all the way down to San Jose

Southern Pacific railroad is the precursor to Caltrain, so the Peninsula's needs for transit were somewhat addressed - but not fully addressed in my opinion. I wish BART had come all the way down to San Jose

Caltrain does help somewhat with the problems listed here - though even with Caltrain driving 101 (former Bayshore Highway) at almost anytime of the day is gridlock. 

The key for the next picture - apparently Oakland used to have a Key rail system? In reading about it, GM and the tire companies bought out the Key System and dismantled it in 1950. Awful. Southern Pacific is now Caltrain 

In 1955 the bay area had very few public transit options - the Key System in Oakland, and Southern Pacific rail along the Peninsula.

Current peninsula commuter conditions - and with the forecast for 1970 as well. Interstate 280 was relatively new, so when they question whether they will need more freeways or not - they didn't factor in that BART wouldn't be built on the Peninsula side.

This was the first stage of BART construction, with all the stops listed. 

Contrary to the actual BART operating hours, this chart shows that BART was supposed to operate 24 hours a day. I'm still baffled why this is not possible. It would cut down on drunk driving a lot.

The draft car design looks very similar to what they actually look like now. 

Car parking was planned at almost every stop on the line. 

Pretty impressive drawing of what BART actually looks like now.

The first stage of the BART plan would have cost $717 million for all stations.

A more detailed breakdown of the previous cost schedule of the first stage of BART construction - $717 million total. 

This paragraph describes the bay area now - stagnation during rush hour.

"Concepts of large metropolitan cities served only by private automobiles are in the realm of physical and economic fantasy."

Annual public cost commitment of $33 to $38 million per year for 30 years to build BART. Total cost of $1.05 billion. 

This paragraph about the future sort of describes the current bay area traffic situation - buses unsegregated from other highway traffic. And more trips being accomplished by private automobile.

"One of the most significant advantages of rapid transit to bay area travelers would be the savings in travel time." 

A chart of example costs during 1954 - we spend $50 million on highway construction but can't spend the $35 million for BART? 

"Certainly, were the problems of rapid growth and congestion to be solved less economically by vastly increasing the program for relatively low-capacity freeways, the bay area as a whole would pay this cost."

Parson Brinkerhoff staff who wrote this report - amazing report

The actual report book was massive

We actually took BART on the way to Berkeley lol

The actual BART system that was eventually built. I'm glad that they at least approved part of it, but I wish they had approved all of it.