Category Archives: random thoughts

stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else…

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

Quest 4 Seven

Seven Continents

I’ve been toying with the idea of doing a marathon on all seven continents for a while now. My research brought up several questions. Are there seven continents? Maybe. Does a marathon count if it is on an island? Maybe.

I’m an old guy and I was taught geography in the US, so I think that there are seven continents. That one was pretty easy to decide. The other question was slightly more difficult, but I’ve decided to be literal in my definition of a continent. That means I’m not going to run a marathon on King George Island or New Zealand. That’s really just to be safe. I think that they are both lovely places and I may run the Antarctica Marathon after I complete my quest. The trip looks fantastic!

So the Quest 4 Seven is officially on! The starting point will be Marathónas, Greece in November 2013. That seems like a logical choice. I’ll do another post later with more details on the race. Other marathons I’m considering are:

Europe: Athens Classic
Asia: Great Wall
Africa: Big Five or Kilimanjaro
Australia: Australian Outback
Antarctica: Ice Marathon
South America: Rio, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Inca Trail (but it’s too long)
North America: Big Sur?

And the North Pole Marathon looks interesting too, but I’ll save that one until the Quest 4 Seven is complete.

Feel free to make recommendations for races or join me in the quest.


Larry Rich
Chief Runner

Ragnar Relay – Sweat Tracker Style

It’s been a while since I did a relay. And I love a challenge. So when I looked at Ragnar Napa Valley, I immediately found the ultra appealing. When a friend asked about it I started strategizing about who we could get involved. Then I looked at the legs and realized that this will be a tough one. So I’m throwing out the challenge – who wants to do a Ragnar Sweat Tracker Style?ragnar-napaThere are a couple of options for how to break up the legs, but the one that makes the most sense to me is for each runner to do two legs back to back.

The breakdown would be as follows:

Runner 1: 10.7 miles, 10.4 miles, 11.5 miles
Runner 2: 11.1 miles, 14.6 miles, 6.6 miles
Runner 3: 7 miles, 17.2 miles, 8.8 miles
Runner 4: 9.1 miles, 10.9 miles, 5.1 miles
Runner 5: 11 miles, 12.6 miles, 15.9 miles
Runner 6: 12.5 miles, 13.2 miles, 10.4 miles

The dates are 9/20 and 9/21. Hit me up if you want to have some fun!


Larry Rich
Chief Runner

Summer Race Series

The Sweat Tracker staff love to run and we love it even more when our friends are involved. That’s why we created an unofficial race series. These are the races that we plan to do over the next few months. Check them out, check your schedule, and sign up for at least a few of them. We’ll see you on the course!

6/29, 9:00AM: Pride Run – 5K or 10K
This is a must do race and we’ve done it for as many years as we can remember.

7/13, 6:15PM, Davis Moonlight Race – 5K, 10K, or half marathon
We did this one last year and it was fun. I was going to ask for a coupon code, but it’s only $50 for the half marathon (i.e. practically free). If there’s enough interest, we’ll get a van and drive up together.

8/4, 7:00AM: Giant Race – 5K, 10K, or half marathon
Haven’t missed this one yet. We love the course and the finish on the field. The 10K is sold out, but the other distances are still available.

8/25, 7:00AM: Santa Rosa Marathon – also a 5K and a half
This is a flat (redesigned) course with only 236 feet of total elevation gain and an average finish time of 3:58 (typical is about 4:30). It’s a small pack, looks like a beautiful course, and you get to run through a working wine cellar. What more could you ask for?
(use coupon code “sweattracker” at checkout to get $10 off; a limited supply of codes have been issued but you can email us if they run out and we’ll try to get more)

9/15, 7:00AM: Clo-Cow Half Marathon & 5K
The finisher’s medal is a cow bell and the course looks challenging but beautiful. I know, I know, we had you at cow bell.

If anyone wants Sweat Tracker gear, contact us and we’ll get you some. We have technical t-shirts and tanks in three colors. If you wear your shirt to one of these races and let us know in advance that you’re running, we’ll make sure that you get at least one race photo to share online.

One other race to watch for – the Big Gay 10K. This is a fun event that we did last year. The date hasn’t been announced, but it will probably be 9/14 if they have it this year.