All posts by sweat tracker

Get to know Matt Dockstader, the Race Director for The Hallowine Run (formerly known as The Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon)


The Hallowine Run ( includes a 10K, a 7 miler, and a half marathon. While the 10K is sold out, the 7 miler and the half marathon are still open! You can get $10 off this awesome, local, wine infused running party with the SWEAT19 promo code through EOD 10/15! Sign up at the Hallowine Run ( website.

The Marathon Du Medoc served as a catalyst for you to create your own iconic, wine themed race. What did you experience at this event that inspired you to create your own event?

I was fortunate to connect with the race director of Marathon du Medoc (a heart doctor). He was very generous with his time and gave me a peek behind the scenes. I saw all the awesome elements of this unique event including 8,000 bottles of wine they distribute at the event (one for each finisher).

I was struck by how the region of Medoc supports the event. The “water stops” in the towns all have locally produced food items set up alongside not only water, but also small cups of wine. Many of the famous wine chateaus open their gates to the public and let runners on the grounds as part of the course.

Each year, there is a different theme for Marathon Du Medoc and nearly everyone runs in costume. The event is quite a spectacle whether you’re running or spectating. My experience at Marathon Du Medoc inspired me to create something similar in Sonoma County. The seeds for the Hallowine Run were planted.

Your event has been around since 2008. It was formerly known as The Healdsburg Wine Country Half. But, it’s back this year as The Hallowine Run. Aside from a new name, what else is new for the event this year?

I elected to change the name of the event to better represent what this event is all about, a celebration of wine, harvest, and Halloween. Additionally, the race is held in the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys, a few miles from the towns of Healdsburg and Geyserville. We’re also returning to the original half marathon course starting at Francis Ford Coppola Winery and finishes at the Warm Springs Recreation Area and the Lake Sonoma Visitors Center.

The course is surrounded by multi-colored vineyards and runners will pass over 20 wineries along the way up Dry Creek Valley. We’ve added a 10K and runners will now have the option of running the first half or second half of the course.

Once you cross the finish line, the Wine & Music Festival begins! All runners receive a commemorative Hallowine Run wine glass for wine sampling from many of the wineries in the area. The festival includes local bands, food trucks, awards ceremony and exhibitors, yoga stretching, and a costume contest where the best team and individual costumes can also win wine.

We also have a special wine stopper finisher medal this year that all half and 10K runners will get when they cross the finish line!

The Hallowine Run always falls on the last Saturday in October. Not surprisingly, you attract a ton of costumed runners. What’s the craziest costume you’ve seen at your race? BTW, what’s the prize for winning the costume contest this year?

The idea of running in costume was inspired by my experience at Marathon du Medoc. In an effort to encourage this at the Hallowine Run, we added a costume contest to the post-race Wine & Music festival. This provides a fun way to showcase the creative costumes we see every year. There are so many clever (and crazy) costumes, that it’s hard to pick just ONE.

So, I’ll give you a few. Several years ago, a group of four women ran as the ‘four seasons’ (summer was fastest and winter was the slowest). Another large team would run as their favorite SF Giants players when they were in the midst of winning their 3 World Series in October. And some guy actually ran the entire race in a gorilla costume as Curious George. He was drenched in sweat when he finished, but he kept his monkey suit on during the entire awards ceremony!

One of the things we love about your race is the finish line festival complete with WINE, live music, and food trucks. Can you shed some light on what wineries will be pouring, the musicians who will be performing, and what kind of post race food will be available?

T-Luke and Tight Suits are a fun, dance-inspiring Zydeco band playing the festival. Yea, Paella!, Farmer’s Wife and Bruschetta Bar will be the food vendors and our wineries are listed on the website as they come in. We expect close to 20 local wineries and we’ll also have the Lagunitas beer garden.

I once heard someone describe producing races as akin to being a ‘kamikaze pilot’. You’ve got everything flying at you simultaneously and you just have to stay focused and keep your eyes on the prize. Does this description resonate for you? If so, do you have any crazy race production stories to tell us from your decade plus of doing this kind of work?

Oh, for sure! You can do all the advance planning you want, but on race weekend unexpected stuff always comes up. I call it Murphy’s ‘Event’ Law. You need to be able to react on the fly using common sense and your experience.

I have many crazy stories from various races I’ve worked on. At this race we’ve had a house fire on course just prior to the start of the race. Another year we had a major rain that turned the winery parking lot into mud. We had no choice but to move the wine tasting indoors. But, it was ultimately still a great post-race party, just a lot more intimate!

In 2017, I had to cancel the race due to the massive wine country wildfires. But, we still held an informal run on race day and handed out shirts and other goodies. Many of the wineries hosted anyone that was registered for the race and was in town, which turned out to be a lot of people.

I never go into an event expecting a disaster, but you do need to be prepared to handle adversity. There are a lot of moving parts coming at you simultaneously. It’s exciting, but not something to fear. It’s a great feeling once the race is wrapped and you’ve successfully managed the inevitable adversity. I think that’s where the Kamikaze Pilot reference ends.

The Road to Boston, 2016 Edition

Road to Boston

Marathons are tough!!! Seems like I’ve said that before. And I suppose that is not always true, but lately I’ve been running toward another BQ, so maybe that is the issue. Let’s revise my statement to be:

Running a BQ is tough!!!

As you may remember, my first BQ occurred last year. I was a “squeaker” and beat my qualifying standard by less than a minute. I was excited to submit my registration for Boston 2015 and did so early on Monday morning of Week 2. And then I waited anxiously to find out if I would be accepted. After weeks (not really) of anticipation, I found out that the cutoff time was 1:02. Meaning that I would NOT be running in 2015.

I decided that was OK, and that I would simply wait until 2016 to make my Boston début.

I ran several marathons in the last three months of 2014, but didn’t really follow a training plan. First up was the beautiful, challenging MDI Marathon in my home state of Maine, followed by the equally beautiful, pristine Antarctic Ice Marathon on Union Glacier in Antarctica. A few weeks later I ran the scenic, fairly fast Tucson Marathon, but didn’t push too hard. I closed out the year with the SF28.2, then started seriously planning for the next BQ.

The goal race was Mountains 2 Beach from Day 1. I set a PR there in 2012 and again in 2013 (when I almost BQed without even realizing it). 2014 was a slow year, but it was also a week after I ran the Great Wall Marathon, so that was to be expected. I know the course well and it has a lot of downhill miles. The temperature is generally close to perfect. It gets hot in Ojai where the race starts, but by the half way point you’re well on your way to Ventura, which is on the coast and much cooler. Much of the first part of the course is shady which helps as well.

In January, Coach Val and I worked out a plan to have me BQ ready by May. I was impatient and we wound up adding in two marathons along the way. I think that in both of those first two marathons some aspects of my training were not complete, but each was a good learning experience and a way to measure progress.

I ran the Napa Valley Marathon about 8 weeks in. I was logging around 50 miles/week at that point. My base was pretty solid and I had run some very consistent tempo runs so I was able to get the green light from Coach Val to go for the BQ if I was feeling good. I wound up having some weird stomach issues the day before and morning of the race, so I was definitely NOT feeling good. I started the race fairly strong, but ended up slowing down a lot. Napa is a beautiful race, but the rolling hills have always been tough for me. Around mile 15, I decided to back off and save it for another day. Finish time: 3 hours, 46 minutes.

I took a week completely off, then jumped back into training. I wanted another opportunity to test things out before Mountains 2 Beach so I assumed the role of “pushy client” and signed up for the Modesto Marathon, which was 4 weeks after Napa. That basically gave me time to recover, then taper. My fitness level was probably about the same going into Modesto as it was for Napa, but there were no stomach issues and the course was pancake flat. Unfortunately it was also super hot with no shade at all. The course was essentially an out and back with the sun behind you for the first part, then in your face for the final miles. I ran a pretty strong, consistent race for the first 16 miles, then started to gradually fade. The sun was a factor, but my mental game was also not quite ready. Finish time: 3 hours, 27 minutes.

With 8 weeks to go until Mountains 2 Beach, we had plenty of time to fine tune my training. We added more running on tired legs and more speed work at the end of long runs. However, I also had some mental fatigue to work through. I had been running 6 days/week for months and making training a huge priority. I had some bad runs and some bad weeks in the final stretch and I wound up taking time off. Coach Val helped me through those tough weeks and made sure that I was ready for race day both physically and mentally this time.

A few days before the race I received the perfect pre-race note from Coach Val. It said, among other things:

You have worked so hard, you have learned a lot, you have grown as a person and as a runner, you are ready! Believe in yourself as much as I believe in you, as much as everyone around you believes in you. You can do it! Give it your all, tears, blood and guts.

I was calm the entire week before the race. There were no stomach issues and the weather was pretty much perfect. But the most important thing was that I was mentally ready.

I ran a good, solid race. I started out a little slow, then picked up the pace for the bulk of the race, then slowed down a lot at the end. Wait, scratch that. Slowing down a lot was NOT part of the plan. But it did happen. The last 5 miles were tough and I had to really push to keep my pace under 8:00 miles. I missed my “A” goal of a sub 3:20, but stayed mentally tough, pushed through, and hit my “B” goal of a solid BQ. Finish time: 3 hours, 22 minutes.

I just want to wrap up by giving a HUGE thank you to Coach Val. There’s no way that I could have done this without your guidance, your encouragement, and your belief in me. In addition to Coach Val I also have an amazing support crew. Thanks for being there and supporting me through this crazy process.

boston_jacket boston_shoes


Cue the goofy grin…

The SF28.2

a [new] Sweat Tracker tradition

Way back in 2008 my mom bought me a copy of Ultramarathon Man for Christmas. I had run 10 or 12 marathons at the time and it was the perfect gift. I started reading the book that night and continued the next morning. Eventually I got up to eat breakfast and decided to go out and run until I got tired. I confirmed that a friend would be able to pick me up if I needed a ride and headed out with my phone and a general idea of where I wanted to go. Twenty-eight miles later I was back home and the first DK28 was in the books. I’ve run pretty much the same route six out of the past seven years on the day after Christmas.

The run has become a time to reflect on the previous year and to look forward to the challenges of a new one. It’s a time to enjoy running just for the sake of running. San Francisco is a beautiful city and the route takes me through some of my favorite spots.


This year I realized that Dean Karnazes was no longer my inspiration to get out and do the run. I’ve never even met the guy and I only heard him speak once, so other than the book he’s had very little influence on my life. Given that, the DK28 was officially retired as of 12/26/2013 with thanks to Dean for five great years.

To be honest, I’m not sure that I really need inspiration to run any more, or perhaps I inspire myself. San Francisco is an amazing place to live, work, and run, so it’s probably the city itself that inspires me. At any rate, going forward the DK28 will be known as the SF28.2 (due to a small route change to get around some construction).

2014 was an incredible year with lots of inspiration. I ran 6 miles with Pam Reed in beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I spent 5 days with Richard Donovan in Antarctica. Coach Val helped a bunch of people reach their goals in 2014, including me (finally qualified for Boston). My buddy Brian got me to run my first obstacle race and we completed the Spartan Trifecta. I completed my 50th marathon and then I ran 9 more including the BQ.


Sweat Tracker did some work with Bob Anderson, founder of Runner’s World. I worked with Dave Rhody over at RhodyCo and learned a lot about race management. Each month I worked with Kyle on City Beer Runs – what a great guy and what a fun event to be involved with! And we did online coaching for the Tucson Marathon and helped people reach their goals.

Here’s to a great 2015, filled with lots of inspiration, lots of running, and more cool people to work with. With SF as a backdrop, you know it’s going to be another awesome year!


On Thick Ice

The amazing story of the Antarctic Ice Marathon. Unless otherwise noted, all photos in this post are copyright, 2014. We’d like to thank the folks at the Antarctic Ice Marathon for putting on a top notch event and for allowing us to share some of the incredible photos that they captured this year.

Union Glacier is located in the southern Ellsworth Mountains of West Antarctica. During the summer months (November to January), it is home to more than 30 people who staff the Union Glacier Camp. The camp is located about 600 miles from the South Pole at an elevation of nearly 3,000 feet.

Antarctica map
the white arrow on the map indicates the location of the camp

The camp is near a rare, naturally occurring, blue ice runway that allows wheeled jet cargo aircraft to land. At the beginning of the season, aircraft drop ANI (Adventure Network International) personnel and equipment off via parachute to clear the runway and start preparing the camp. Once the runway is ready, the aircraft returns with additional staff and equipment. For more details about the camp, please visit

Russian Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft are used to transport equipment and personnel to the camp. The flight from Punta Arenas, Chile is around 2,000 miles and takes a little over four hours.

boarding-punta-arenas russian-safety-briefing
boarding the plane in Punta Arenas and safety briefing by Russian crew (emergency exits)
ilyushin-standard-seating ilyushin-jump-seats
“standard” seating for 48 people plus some jump seats located in the rear cargo area
view from the cockpit

Upon arrival in Antarctica, visitors are transported to Union Glacier Camp via specially adapted 4×4 passenger vans. The camp is located about 5 miles from the runway in an area that is generally sheltered from the wind.

first steps on the frozen continent
warm-vans luggage
warm vans quickly transport visitors to camp and luggage follows soon after

Union Glacier Camp is amazing!

We slept in double walled, unheated tents. A polar sleeping bag was provided and it kept us quite warm. However, a bottle of water left beside the bed overnight would freeze. The same was true for a pee bottle left beside the bed (yup, that’s really a thing). The temperature inside the tent varied between 25ºF and 68ºF depending on the amount of sunlight that was available. The sun doesn’t set in the summer, but cloud cover can keep things on the cooler side. We arrived on Tuesday and didn’t see the sun until Friday afternoon, so it was definitely cool for most of our stay.

The dining tent was heated and we spent much of our time there. In addition to dining, this was the place for group meetings, socializing, or just relaxing. The full kitchen served us delicious, fresh-cooked meals that included fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and meats. Snacks and beverages were available anytime.

The bathroom facilities were not heated, so each trip was a quick one. We’ll spare the details, but the ANI crew leave nothing behind on the continent. All waste is returned to Punta Arenas. They are dedicated to keeping the environment pristine and beautiful. There were also heated shower facilities that used melted snow for water. We were allowed one shower during our five day stay.

base-camp dining-tent
the accommodations (two people per tent) and a view of the long blue dining tent behind the crowd
showers safety-meeting
the shower facility and a view of the inside of the dining tent (at a safety briefing presented by the doctors)
taking life easy while drying out my boots


The schedule was a bit unpredictable. Everything was based on the weather and the safety of the guests. After the first few delays, people seemed to settle in and accept that things were beyond their control. We were initially supposed to fly to Antarctica on Monday (11/17), but poor weather conditions pushed our departure out until Tuesday afternoon. Once we arrived, we were supposed to run the marathon the next day, the 100K on Thursday, and return on Friday (our original return date). However, very soon after we arrived the small window of good weather closed and things got cloudy and windy. We were not able to run the marathon on Wednesday, although we were allowed to go out for a quick 4K run to test out our gear.

The 100K actually took place first, starting on Thursday at 9:00AM. The weather was still very windy, but the 100K route stayed closer to camp and the runners were a bit tougher than us mere marathoners. Six people started the race and six people finished. The winning time was just under 14 hours and the last runners finished in just under 24 hours. That’s right, 24 hours. We cheered for them at the start, then at various points throughout the race, then went to bed while they continued to run. We got up the next morning, had some breakfast, and then cheered as the last people finished. Here are the six brave souls that took on this incredible challenge.

the 100K participants: Richard, Adriana, Penbin, Oscar, Kenichi, Willy

The marathon started on Friday at 2:00PM, just hours after the 100K wrapped up. The wind had died down and the sun came out around 3:00PM or 3:30PM, so we actually had very nice conditions. There were 57 runners with times ranging from about 4.25 hours to 9.25 hours. And again, everyone who started the race finished it. This is a testament not only to the dedication of the individual runners, but to the support that we received from the ANI and Antarctic Ice Marathon staff.

start-marathon-1 start-marathon-2
the start of the marathon, still overcast, but with low wind
and we’re off!

The race itself was incredible! The crowd broke up very quickly and I spent much of my time running by myself, listening to the sound of snow crunch beneath my feet. This was the most peaceful, pristine marathon that I have ever run (and it was #58).

here I am solo, enjoying the scenery – this is the back stretch of the first loop and the sky has started to clear

We had prepared for the race by running on a treadmill in a walk in freezer, so I knew pretty much what to expect in terms of gear. The main advice from the race veterans was to take things slowly in the beginning and avoid overheating. Getting soaked with sweat and then getting cold later in the race would be a very bad thing. The marathon was two loops of 13.1 miles. Each loop had two manned checkpoints and an unmanned aid station. My plan starting out was to strip off all my wet gear midway through (in the heated dining tent) and replace it with dry gear. Given how nice the conditions were, this may not have been necessary, but I stuck to the plan and started out fresh at the halfway mark.

checkpoint-1 hydration
the first checkpoint

We had done some initial prep to get used to the temperature and the gear, but hadn’t really done much to prepare for the conditions underfoot. I would recommend logging some miles in wet sand before taking on this race. The footing was always slightly unstable and this definitely sapped your energy more quickly than during a normal road race. The course was very well marked and packed down, but not quite solid. There were places where you could run in vehicle tracks and places where you could run in snowmobile tracks, but I found the best footing to actually be on the edge of the trail where the wind had blown the snow and made it firm. It still wasn’t totally solid, so you were always aware of your feet, but it was the most predictable. There were also sections with drifting snow that you pretty much needed to walk though.

check out the footing… and the clear, blue sky!

About 5.5 hours after I started, I was very tired and very happy to be done. I was looking forward to my one shower for the week and some time by the fire. But even more than that, I was looking forward to receiving my finisher medal from Richard Donovan, winner of the first marathon ever run in Antarctica back in 2002 (he actually finished at the South Pole, under much tougher conditions).

finisher-medal-1 finisher-medal-2
the toughest marathon medal I have ever earned was personally handed out by the race director
finisher photo with Richard Donovan, winner of the first marathon ever run in Antarctica

There was quite a bit of celebrating Friday night and the weather was the best that it had been all week around 2:00AM, so naturally we needed to capture one final photo with the finisher medal…

Yes, that’s me wearing just my boots and gloves, about 600 miles from the South Pole. How many people have been there? And how many of them have run a marathon?

(censored by my Social Media Director – you’ll have to wait for my book to see the “raw” photo)

The following day was Saturday and we had an official awards ceremony with champagne. A bunch of people had completed their final marathon in their #quest4seven and were officially welcomed into the 7 Continents Marathon Club. Others were welcomed the Marathon Grand Slam Club (seven continents plus the North Pole).

winners 7-continents
winners of the marathon and 100K – Penbin (100K), Frederique (marathon), Adriana (100K), Marc (marathon) in the left photo, members of The 7 Continents Marathon Club in the right photo

all the runners

The weather was favorable for the plane to return, so we left that afternoon, one day later than planned. This was actually a good thing because we gained the day back that we had lost with our outbound delay.

prepping the plane
boarding the return flight

For those of you who plan to join us on the #quest4seven (more info), here are a few additional thoughts.

There are other marathons that claim to take place in Antarctica. If you have already run one of them and are happy with the experience, then congratulations! We are happy for you and in no way want to diminish your accomplishment.

If you are still looking for a marathon in Antarctica, then we can’t recommend this one any more highly. First of all, it actually takes place on the continent. If you are going to put in the effort to complete marathons on all seven continents, then why short change yourself? Second and most important, we think that the #quest4seven should not just be about checking off a box, but about actually experiencing each continent.

We spent five days in Antarctica, sleeping in an unheated tent. We woke up at night to the wind howling and the tent shaking. That very first morning when I woke up and it was so incredibly cold that I didn’t want to get out of the sleeping bag to pee, the feeling of isolation was almost overwhelming.

I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything.

Make each continent a destination, not a layover. When you look back at the memories that you have made, you will be glad that you did.

– Coach Larry

Marathons – The Mental Part

Marathons are tough! I’ve run more than 50 of them so I’ve got a pretty good idea of what is involved. About 15 months ago I set my sights on Boston. I made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to qualify on my own and realized that I could use some help.

I started working with Coach Val in March. She did an initial evaluation and worked with me on running form to improve my efficiency. She built a custom training plan designed to make me faster and managed to squeeze some pre-existing races into the schedule. We looked at both heart rate and cadence and set targets for those. We discussed diet and worked to improve the type and quality of food that I was eating. We also looked at sleep and I made an effort to get more consistent rest.

My training went really well. I had one week where I missed most of my runs, but otherwise I stuck to the plan. During the final two months of training, I put an even higher priority on getting the miles in. There were some aches and pains along the way, but Val managed to keep me injury free. She also worked with me on mental preparation towards the end, which is crucial to marathon success.

When race day came, I arrived at the start line better prepared than I have ever been. The course was mostly flat and the weather was cooperative, a bit humid but overcast. I was excited to get started and had a fairly high confidence level in a successful outcome.

The plan going in was to run even splits and focus on individual miles, not overall time. It is good to have some checkpoints, but it’s far too easy to get obsessed with overall time. Everything is great when you have time “in the bank,” but things often get challenging mentally when you start to use some of that buffer up.

I’ve always said that marathons can be divided into thirds: the first 10 miles, the next 10 miles, and the last 10 kilometers. 

The first 10 miles went well. I kept an eye on pace and things were fairly consistent. I felt good. Towards the end of the next 10 miles I started to feel a bit of fatigue. My splits were still in the target range, but I was working harder to maintain pace. Looking at the data after the fact, my average pace was 7:43 for the first 10 miles and dropped to 7:45 for the next 10 miles.

The last 10K was tough, especially miles 22 and 26. Those were the miles where I reminded myself that Coach Val believed in me and replayed in my mind all the times that she had told me “you’ve got this.” I also thought about the conversation that I would have after the race with Coach Val and didn’t want it to be about what I could have done differently. I knew that I had to dig deep and push through. Average pace dropped to 7:52.

In the end, I was able to run a strong race and meet my goal of qualifying for Boston. My second half was 30 seconds slower than my first half. That’s not the holy grail of negative splits or my race goal of even splits, but it’s pretty amazing based on my history.

Training is about more than just knowledge. Even if you know what to do and how to do, you need an external force to hold you accountable and keep you motivated. That’s where a coach comes in…

It’s also a huge benefit to have someone knowledgeable assess your readiness. Again, look to your coach. They know you, they know what your training has been, and they’ve helped you every step of the way. If they say you can do something you can be pretty certain that they know what they are talking about.

It’s great when your mom tells you that you can do it, but she’s your mom. What’s she supposed to say?


Coach Larry

NOTE: If you plan to look at individual splits on your watch rather than focus on overall time (which I highly recommend), you need to take 2 – 5 seconds off your target pace. That’s because of the extra distance that you wind up running. My Garmin always measures longer than the stated distance. In this case it was 26.34 miles which is pretty efficient, but this was a small marathon. That extra distance translates to about 2.5 seconds per mile, so my overall time was about a minute longer than predicted by the individual mile splits.

Running By Feel

SweatTracker TTT7/15/14

Tuesday Training Tip:

In “Run – The mind-body method of running by feel”, Matt Fitzgerald talks about striking the right balance between listening to your body and following a training plan to the letter. Learning to listen to your body is really important in running. Some days, you’ll have the energy for a tempo run even if your plan calls for a short run and other days, you will barely make it through a few miles when your plan calls for a long run. Be ok with it! As long as you complete all of your workouts and you don’t overlook rest days, running by feel will allow you to better understand how your body reacts to external factors (lack of sleep, bad food, tough day at work) and adapt. Mentally, you will still get a sense of accomplishment and you will look forward to the next workout knowing that there is an option to do something different based on how you feel that day.  – Coach Val

#TuesdayTrainingTip #SweatIsSexy #TrainingTip #Fitness #Coaching

Hot Sauce Is Boss: The Secret To Eating Healthy

Hot Sauce

Tabasco, Tapatio, Cholula, Frank’s, Sriracha, Crystal, Valentina. Besides sounding like a reunion of my father’s side of the family, all these names share only one common description, hot sauce.

As an athlete, personal trainer, and run coach, I realize the importance of fueling your body with the proper nutrients in order to replenish the muscles and promote increased strength. Do I enjoy eating steamed broccoli and carrots, with a side portion of brown rice? Um, no. But can I dash a few drops of my traveling Tapatio 5 oz. bottle on top before? DOWN!

3 Reasons To Add Hot Sauce To Your Meal

  • Eat Healthy Foods!

You’ve been listening to it for years, in order for you to have the six-pack like the peeps on the Abercrombie poster, you have to drop the burgers, hotdogs, and pizza for healthier foods such as cauliflower, tofu, artichokes, quinoa and spinach!?!? It’s not the fact that we don’t want to eat healthy, it’s just that double bacon cheeseburger, dripping with extra ranch and bbq sauce tastesso much better! Well, coming from somebody who didn’t have his first onion until his girlfriend made him eat one during junior year of college, I have found a solution! Mask the flavor, or should I say lack of flavor that veggies, grains, and beans have, with a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce! The best thing of all, hot sauce contains ZERO calories! So, if you’re still tasting “healthy,” just add more!

  • Kickstart Metabolism! Burn Fat!

The reports of two separate studies, Oxford Journals in 2011 & American Society for Clinical Nutrition in 2006, found that “capsaicin and capsiate both augment energy expenditure and enhance fat oxidation, especially at high doses.” Capsaicin is the active component found in chili peppers and is responsible for the burning sensation you feel when consuming them. Enhanced fat oxidation is a fancy way of saying, you’re burning more fat! It’s simple. Eat hot sauce, kickstart your metabolic system, burn fat!

  • Increase Daily Water Intake!

The recommended daily intake for water is 1/2 of your body weight in oz. For example, if you weigh 180 lbs. then you should be consuming at least 90 oz. of water daily. The human body is roughly 60% water, and needs water in order to maintain a state of homeostasis and keep all the body’s processes, pathways, and systems running smoothly. Most people don’t even drink half the recommended amount of water they should, and certainly not every day. Spicy makes our mouth burn, and cold ice water cools it down. Eat Spicy, Drink Water!

Can you say, having your cake and eating it too? Let’s recap, you get to enjoy eating a healthy meal by adding some spice to it. Then, you get to kickstart your metabolism and burn some fat. Finally, you get to ensure you’re getting enough water by constantly relieving yourself of the fire occurring on your tongue. That’s it! I’ve solved the roadblock to eating healthy
Instead of ending this article with a cheesy 90’s song title reference, I will simply encourage you all to take a tip from one the greatest pop bands ever, and “Spice Up Your Life!”
Bon Apetit!


– Coach Jon

#Quest4Seven: Athens Classic Marathon Recap

This feels like the most important marathon that I have ever completed. Boom! Probably should have built up to that, but I had to get it out. Let’s rewind a bit…

The night before the marathon was pretty much sleepless. That wasn’t really because of nerves, more an issue of not adjusting to the time change. We’d been in Athens for five nights and I was feeling like a local, but not sleeping like one. The marathon didn’t start until 9:00 AM, but there were some logistics involved and I wound up on a bus at 6:00 AM.

It was still dark and I sat quietly with a sense of anticipation, listening to the conversations around me, trying to convince myself that I was rested enough to complete the marathon. There were some people speaking English, a lot speaking Greek, and many other languages mixed in. The two people in front of me went up front to speak with the bus driver multiple times and eventually we stopped the bus so one of them could pee on the roadside. Otherwise the ride was uneventful and we arrived at the start right around 7:00 AM.

As we approached the end of the trip, they started announcements in Greek followed by English with details on what to do when we arrived. They also talked about the history of the marathon and the route we were about to run,  telling us:

Today as you follow in the footsteps of Pheidippides you will go beyond your limits to honor his memory.

Powerful words.

It was cold when we got off the bus, but they handed out plastic bags which helped a bit. I located the portable toilets. They were marked separately for men and women. The men’s version had no toilet seat. Interesting. I made my way to the stadium and found a spot to wait where I could be off my feet. I watched people and relaxed. They announced that we had 30 minutes until the start. I dropped off my clothes at the clothes check, peed in the bushes with a bunch of people I didn’t know, then headed back to the stadium which was packed with people warming up.

tons of people warming up on the track

I continued to the start line, where the “blocks” (corrals) were starting to fill.

Athens Classic Start Line

Again we had announcements in Greek, then English. There was a minute of silence for the Boston tragedy (some official from the Boston Marathon was present), then we released balloons.

Balloons More Balloons

There were a few more announcements, then fireworks as each block started. We were told:

Watch out for one another and have a fine race!

The first two kilometers were packed and slow, but there was a sense of camaraderie and it wasn’t frustrating at all. I was gradually able to speed up to about an 8:00 minute/mile pace and chose someone who seemed to be running at the same speed to help with pacing. He was checking his watch every kilometer and I was checking mine every mile, but the net result was the same.

It was warm almost immediately, but the countryside was beautiful. As we passed through each small town, there was a lot music and crowd support. It felt very festive. People were clapping and there were cheers of “bravo, bravo!” Many of the people had medals as they had already completed a shorter distance. Some passed out olive branches.

When we reached the 10 kilometer mark, the course started to go uphill and I left my pacer behind. I found someone else who looked strong and stuck with him. The sun grew hotter as we continued up the hill. The course was pretty much as advertised, and was steady (relentless) uphill for 20+ kilometers. At some point, I left my second pacer behind and chose a third. As we passed the halfway point, the hill and the heat took their toll on me. I did a walk break at 22.5 kilometers and lost my pacer. I continued on, taking another walk break at 30 kilometers.

Soon after that, we started the downhill into Athens. There was some shade. There were many people out, but no music. The crowd support was still helpful, but didn’t feel quite as festive. I took my final walk break at 35 kilometers. Somewhere in the next 5 kilometers my watch died and I was totally on my own in terms of pacing. The heat started to bother me more and I couldn’t stomach another Gu. I took Power Ade at the 40 kilometer  mark and it did some nasty things to my insides. I powered through it.

We finished in the stadium where the original Olympics were held. The last 200 meters were on the track. There was an overwhelming sense of history as I entered the stadium and heard the cheers of the crowd. I actually slowed down for the final stretch because I didn’t want it to end.


After the finish, we continued walking around the track and received our medals. There was a huge feeling of accomplishment, much more  than usual (and this was my 48th marathon). There were some tears, then I continued on to some amazing photo ops in the stands.

Finish - Stands Medal


In 490 BC

The first battle for democracy was fought at the Greek village of Marathon. Though overwhelmingly outnumbered by an invading Persian Army, the citizen-soldiers of Athens prevailed and in so doing allowed the first democracy to be established and preserved the classical Greek way of life that became the foundation of western civilization.

Legend has it that, when the battle was won, the Athenian messenger Pheidippides ran twenty-four miles to Athens, carrying news of that stunning victory. The modern marathon commemorates this feat.

The Sweat Tracker team will soon participate in our first International race: the Athens Classic Marathon on 11/10. We’ll officially kick off the #quest4seven in Greece in about two weeks. Things have been busy around here getting ready for our first PR Challenge at Run Wild San Francisco on 12/1. As a result, marathon training has taken a back seat to staying on top of all the deadlines and keeping our members happy. Don’t expect any PRs this time…

The course looks a bit challenging:

Athens Classic Elevation Profile

But the total elevation gain isn’t much worse than the San Francisco marathon. The course follows the original route from Marathon to Athens. It starts in Marathon Stadium and finishes in Panathinaikon Stadium.

Athens Classic

Full details are here:

For those training with us for Run Wild – I’ll be monitoring my email so keep that feedback coming. Coach Jon and Coach Val will hold down the fort while I’m gone and Sweat Tracker will still host our regular Thursday speed workouts.


Larry Rich
Chief Runner