The Minimus shoes are remarkably lighter than the already light H Streets.
Exercise, Journal, Running

New Balance Minimus HI-REZ Shoes

For the past several years, my running shoes of choice have been the Puma H Streets. These are a favorite of the POSE running crowd, although they were never meant to be used as running shoes. Today, they are harder to find in my size (women’s size 10, since I can’t seem to find the men’s version anymore). So, when I finally decided that the holes in the shoes were getting too big (check out the photo below), I started looking for a new pair and brand of running shoes.

Felix was telling me that a few of his friends were using New Balance Minimus shoes, so I went over the NB site to check them out. The Minimus is actually a series of lightweight, minimalist running shoes, and the one that struck my eye was the Minimus HI-REZ. The specs show it to be lighter than the H Streets, 3.7 ounces versus 5.8 ounces. Judging solely from the photos, I liked the thicker sole in the front; one drawback on the H Streets was that the bottoms wore out so quickly. I tend to strike the ground on the outside front part of my foot, and that’s where all the holes formed.

The shoe is not inexpensive at nearly $100/pair. While the HI-REZ in black looks better, the green was cheaper. Found a $10/off coupon on the Internet and a few days later, they were in my hands. At first glance, the shoes were as light as advertised, and I can see where New Balance was able to shave the ounces from the shoes. The tread does not cover the entire bottom of the shoe. Rather, there was little hexagonal EVA pieces glued onto the bottom. The shoe seems to be constructed out of one piece of fabric and wraps around your foot almost like a slipper.

I went for my first run this morning in the shoes, and I could easily feel the weight difference. This was surprising to me since the H Streets already felt like I was running barefoot (and with those holes in the soles, that’s not too far from the truth!). I went at a moderate pace and was pleased to see that I finished my typical 3.1 mile around the block at an 8:07 pace with a fast mile of 7:57.

As far as wear goes, it’s too soon to tell, but I did notice the outer part of the sole was already starting to wear. The little rubber nubs under each foam piece were almost flat on that part of the sole. This happened to me with the Puma’s as well, so I’m not too worried yet. I’ll keep monitoring it to see how quickly the foam pads go from full height to zero.

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Exercise, Journal

Half-Marathon – San Tomas Acquino Creek Trail

I completed my third half-marathon this morning, running along the San Tomas Acquino Creek Trail near my house in Santa Clara. The first time I ran this far was way back in ninth grade, when I was fourteen years old! I was pretty fast (and light) then, averaging each mile in about 7:51 for a total time of 1:43:00. I didn’t run another half until a few years ago, when Rae and I did our own self-supported run to Cupertino Village and back.

I did today’s by myself, starting out at 9:00 am and returning two hours later. We only recently found out about the San Tomas Acquino Creek Trail, even though we’ve lived in Santa Clara for four years now. It’s great in that you can do most of the trail without ever having to stop at a crosswalk or light. I ran all the way to the old 3Com/Palm headquarters (now it’s the Atheros corporate offices). The first part of the run was much quicker than the return trip, as I was slowed by blisters on my forefeet. I guess I haven’t run long enough to develop callouses on that part of my feet yet. Every step back was somewhat painful, but I managed to truck back home. Fortunately, the return trip always seems shorter (to me at least) than the initial leg.

There were a number of people on the trail today, from walkers to runners to bicyclists. I passed by the parking lot where the San Francisco 49ers and the City of Santa Clara want to build the new 49ers Stadium. I can easily see the trail being used by Santa Clarans to get to gameday. I’m still torn whether to vote yes or no on Measure J. Part of me is still not convinced that the stadium deal works out financially for the city. For instance, there really not much parking around the proposed stadium, unless the Silicon Valley tech companies are going to open up their parking lots of Sundays. I can see traffic being a killer because of this. Second, there’s not much to do or see around the Great America area without driving. With AT&T Park and the Shark Tank, there’s ample shops and restaurants within walking distance in San Francisco and San Jose respectively. I can see people driving to attend after-game parties and events outside of Santa Clara; that doesn’t really help the city then, does it?

If you judge the stadium vote based on the number of Yes on Measure J versus No on Measure J signs around town, you’d think that Yes is going to win by a landslide. They definitely have the money and the backing of the 49ers and City behind them. Still, there’s a part of me that leaning towards voting no come June. What are your thoughts on bringing the 49ers to Santa Clara?

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Exercise, Journal, Running

Running in Fort Collins with Felix

Running with the Fort Collins Running Club

Following the completion of my work with Jared, I drove up with Rae to Fort Collins to meet up with our friend Felix Wong. He’s been living in Fort Collins for the past three years. After resting from the long drive (about an hour from Boulder), we headed out to the Old Town to eat some Ethiopian food. Felix told us about a race that he participates in with the Fort Collins Running Club called the Tortoise and Hare. With our great dinner, we hoped to have the speed of those great Ethiopian runners!

The race was a 5 mile (4.78, according to one runner’s GPS) out and back course in Edora Park. Rae and I were going to take it easy on the run and told Nick the organizer that we would be running a 10 minute mile. The race was neat in that it featured a staggered start. The slow people (tortoises) would go first, followed by the fast ones (hares).

I felt pretty good as we were running, so at the halfway point, I told Rae that I was going to go ahead. I increased my pace and felt for the first time what it was like to lead a race. Of course, my finishing time was slower than many others, but because of the staggered start, I completed the course first! My overall time was 40:51. Rae’s finishing time was around 45:41; if she ran the same pace for both the beginning and end, she ran roughly a 9:35 mile. By my calculations, then, I was running roughly a 7:35 pace on the way back! I don’t think that I could have kept up that pace for the entire 5 miles, but I’m still proud of my performance!

Click on the link below to see the photos!

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Cycling

Low-Key Hillclimbs 2008 #3: Quimby Road

Low-Key Hillclimbs: Quimby Road

When last I climbed up Quimby Road in San Jose, it was during training for the 2007 Death Ride. A very difficult climb it was, with 18% switchbacks! And, we still had yet to do Mt. Hamilton that day!

Today, the Low-Key Hillclimbers went up Quimby Road for race #3. I had missed last week’s climb up West Alpine because I was in San Diego for David and Audrey’s wedding. For Quimby, I had signed up to be a volunteer, as once up Quimby is enough for me!

I armed myself with my cameras and shot photos of the riders as they climbed up Quimby. Thanks to Christine’s nimble driving up the narrow roads, I was able to get some good photos of the action in the front. I wonder if I had a hybrid hub like one of the Week One riders if I could keep up with Tim, Clark, and the other top finishers. Somehow, I think I would still need a little more power to keep up with the big boys and girls!

Christine and I drove up to the top, where we waited for the cyclists to come to us. Similar to the finish at Mt. Diablo, I waited patiently in the same position, letting the cyclist come into my photographing firing zone. I’m pretty happy with the shots… out of 811 photos, I have posted 263 onto my SmugMug gallery for Quimby, a 32% hit rate. That’s out par for the course with regards to sports shooting.

Christine was protecting this cute tarantula which was trying to cross the street over and over again. We were afraid a car or cyclist would end its life! That tarantula really need to watch where it was going!

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Cycling, Exercise

Low-Key Hillclimbs 2008 #1: Montebello Road

Adam up Montebello Road

The 2008 Low-Key Hillclimbs started today with the usual climb up Montebello. Unlike the last two ascents up 5.3 mile road in Cupertino, the weather was decidedly cooler and wetter. Rain threatened the start of the race and only began to come down near the end of the ride for me.

While I have been running and swimming this summer, I have not been doing any cycling. As the weeks ticked down to the start of the LKHC series, I wondered how my fitness level on the bike would be after a steady diet of 3, 6, and 12 mile runs. Let me tell you right off the bat, running is no substitute for hill climbing on a bike!

I decided to take it “easy” up Montebello today, since I didn’t want to hurt myself seeing this was my first climb of the year. Other people, like Murali, Stephen, and Richard have been cycling throughout the year, so I knew they would do great. Murali completed the Death Ride this year and the California Triple Crown (three double-centuries). He certainly looked much fitter than last year, and I predicted a stellar time of 40:30 for him. Stephen, as always, looked very strong, and I calculated he would fly up Montebello in 37 minutes. Richard was humble about his training, but I knew the tiger was waiting to pounce on the hill; for him, I guessed 43 minutes.

As for me, I would be happy with 45 minutes, though I knew that would be difficult to accomplish. As the climb began and I saw Murali, Stephen, and Richard fading in the foreground, I knew I was in for a long, wet day in the saddle. I sat back and just chugged my way up Montebello. Once again, the false summits fooled me, as I continually thought I was closer to the end only to see another hill appear before my very eyes. As the clock ticked passed 45 minutes, I knew that a reasonable time would now be 50 minutes. Sure enough, according to my clock, I just made it under the 50-minute mark. I suspect the official time will be right at 50-minutes. That’s a far cry away from my personal best of 39:30, but hey… not bad for someone who hasn’t been riding all year!

As for Murali, Stephen, and Richard, they almost to the second hit the times that I predicted. I wish those skills would have come in handy last week before the whole stock market meltdown!

At the top, it was cold and very wet. Stephen and I took our dear time getting down to the base. My hands hurt so much as they were on the brakes nearly the entire time. I’ve never liked wet roads, and so the combination of the steep descent with the rain made for an unenjoyable descent. Before the ride, we paid our respects to the two cyclists who were killed very close to the start of the ride earlier this year. When we lived in Cupertino, Rae and I used to ride by the spot of the accident all the time. Life is precious… enjoy every second of it!

This year, I won’t be able to complete all of the climbs, breaking my two-year streak. I’m off to San Diego for a wedding next week, and I’ll be volunteering on Quimby Road the week thereafter. That said, there’s still the possibility that I can snatch the Endurance Award this year!

Photo of me finishing Montebello by Josh Hadley

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Exercise, High School, Running

Half-Marathon

Nineteen years ago, when I was just 14 years old, I ran the San Dieguito Half-Marathon in a time of 1:43, which translates to a 7:51/mile. I remember the weather was rainy and cold… I fell shivering into my Dad’s arms at the end of the race! Until yesterday, that was the first and last half-marathon.

On Sunday morning, inspired by all of these fantastic Olympic performances we’ve been watching in Beijing, Rae and I completed our own self-supported half-marathon. We ran our normal neighborhood route, to Wolfe Road in Cupertino, back to the house, and again our neighborhood route. Going at a fairly leisurely pace in perfect running weather, we completed the run in 2:04, or just under 10 minutes per mile. We stopped twice at the house to resupply our water bottles and were delayed at stop lights just a few times, bringing our total time out running to about 2:12.

I’m pretty happy with our performance, seeing that our longest run to-date this year has been 6-7 miles. Normally, we just do our 3-mile neighborhood run, so it was definitely a stretch to go 13.1 miles. The actual run went by a lot more quickly than I remember, but that’s probably because I had someone to talk to. That said, my legs today are a bit sore, so I won’t be running consecutive half-marathons any time soon!

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Cycling, Rants

Bike Safety – Accident in Mexico

This photo really pissed me off when I saw it this morning after waking up in Providence, Rhode Island.

An American drunk driver, apparently asleep at the wheel, plowed into several cyclists during a race in Mexico, killing one and injuring the others. The photo is absolutely terrible, but this is the reality when cars collide with cyclists. I can imagine this is what happened when a similar accident occurred near our old house in Cupertino, when a California Highway Patrol officer killed two cyclists along Stevens Canyon Road.

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Cycling

RIP, Sheldon Brown

Cycling aficionados mourn the passing of Sheldon Brown. I never met the man, but I am very familiar with his website and his cycling tips and techniques. His online gear calculator helped me understand the mystery of my road bikes gears as I went from an 11-21 to a 12-25 to a 12-25 compact crankset. Without him, I would be huffing, puffing, and pushing my bike up the Low-Key Hillclimbs.

Rest in Peace, Sheldon. You’ll be missed.

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Cycling, Journal

Low-Key Hillclimbs 2007 #6: Welch Creek

Welch Creek Climb - Genti Cuni

Weeks before, I signed up to coordinate Week 6 of the Low-Key Hillclimb Series up Welch Creek Road. Three weeks prior to the race, I drove up the climb with COBA member, David B., and remarked how glad I was that I wasn’t going to be riding this one. It’s a beast at 3.9 miles and 1923 feet of climbing! Some have said that this climb is tougher than Bohlman-On Orbit, which I found to be extremely challenging.

This was my first-time coordinating a race, and Welch Creek offered some challenges from the get-go. First off, there’s no parking alongside Calaveras Road. Permit parking is only available at Welch Creek, due to the fact that the first few miles is through parkland. Thus, my first task was to find a place to stage the race. Talking to other Low-Key members, I discovered the Sunol Glen School, located about 5 miles from the start. The school offered bathroom facilities and ample parking, and it turned out to be a perfect spot to stage. There was a little confusion getting permission to use the facilities, but the school staff and I eventually squared things away after a couple of back and forth trips. Thanks to Dan and Pat for getting me the proper insurance forms to give to the school!

Coordinating Welch Creek - Kwan Lo

The second challenge was photography and videography. Initially, I had wanted to have this climb well documented in the style of the epic climbing stages in the Tour de France. Unfortunately, the narrow roads and lack of adequate turnouts up Welch Creek made accomplishing this goal very difficult. In the end, I took one car up quickly to the top of the hill and Ron “Dick Demol” Brunner, took the another car filled with three photographers to follow the action. From what he said, it was difficult to follow the action because of the roads and because the leading pack of riders, led once again by Tim Clark, was going to darned fast!

We were first to the top in the Car Division, reaching the summit in 12 minutes. We barely had time to park the car and eat a snack before Tim arrived only 12 minutes later! I had originally thought that the winning time would be 34 minutes, but I must have been thinking about my time up the hill!

The top riders are certainly working for their fast times. I was heartened to see that at the finish, everyone was huffing and puffing. Usually when I get around to finishing 10-20 minutes later, everyone looks so relaxed, sipping on juice boxes, eating pretzels and cookies, and shooting the breeze. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “They suffer too! Muahaha!” Of course, they suffer much more quickly than I do :(

Coordinating a Low-Key race turned out to be pretty fun. I’ll probably do it again next year!

Next week’s it’s time to ride a mountain bike. We’re going up the Windy Hill trail in Portola Valley.

Thanks to all of the volunteers who helped make this ride possible: Marty, Howard, Helen, Genti, Kwan, Ron, Christine, and Pat! Also thanks to Genti who used my camera to take the photos in this gallery.

Welch Creek Gallery - Genti Cuni

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Cycling, Journal

Low-Key Hillclimbs 2007 #5: Hwy 84/WOLH

Adam at the end of West Old La Honda

In Week 5 of the Low-Key Hillclimbs Series we did a time trial up the backside of Highway 84 and West Old Honda road. After volunteering for the previous week, I was eager to get back onto the saddle and test myself against the clock. Unfortunately, I almost pulled a Pedro Delgado and ended up putting it one of my worst efforts. Every year, misfortune seems to befall me on one of the Low-Key climbs!

The start was at the San Gregorio Store at the near Highway 1 and Highway 84. Since I was coordinating the following week’s ride up Welch Creek, I planned to park my car up at the finish on Skyline and West Old La Honda Road. An early ride and drive up to Skyline via Woodside gave me plenty of time to descend 15 miles to the start — a good warmup plan in my mind. I parked at the Windy Hill Preserve parking lot, unpacked my bike, and… inexplicably… went left. I had thought that the intersection of Old La Honda and Skyline was to my left, but in reality, it was less than one mile to the right. I rode… up and up Skyline for over five miles before I saw the signs for Page Mill Road. I realized at that point that I was seriously lost, thinking in my mind that I couldn’t have possibly have missed the turnoff to Old La Honda.

It was already well past 9:00 am, and my time trial had already begun. I had to go 21 miles to get to the start in under an hour. Could I make it? The initial five miles back to the car was fortunately downhill. The mile to the corner of Skyline and Old La Honda — I still don’t know how I missed it while driving — was slightly uphill. By the time I had gotten to the intersection, I had a little over 30 minutes to go the final 15 downhill miles. I estimated my average speed to get there exactly at 10:10 am would have to have been 28 mph. It’s windy, not straight, down West Old Honda, so I had to manage my speed properly so as not to spin out and crash. My legs were already tiring from the effort I had given up to this point; I was openly wondering how much energy would be left in the tank for the time trial. By the time I had passed the 10:10 am mark, I was even questioning whether or not I was on the right road to get to the San Gregorio Store, as I’m not very familiar with rides on the other side of Skyline.

Fortunately, the yellow stickers on the helmets of the riders going the other direction gave me solace. These were Low-Key Riders. I even recognized them as we passed each other: Kelly, Stephen, and Tim. After my little 11 mile detour, I was going to make it to the start!

I ended up being the third to last rider to leave the starting gate at roughly 10:30 am. With such little recovery time, I didn’t have much energy left for the hammer-on-the-flats initial portion of the ride. Looking at the split time results, I came in last place, covering the 7.5 miles in 25:51. My time up 84 and West Old La Honda was a little better, and I finished the remaining 6.5 miles in 34:17. Had I not taken a 25-mile warmup, I think I could have bested both of those times by a few minutes. Next year!

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