Tuesday, July 29, 2014


“Some seek the comfort of their therapist's office, other head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.”

-- Dean Karnazes

One of the things I love about trail running is the peace and solitude. The stress and frustration from a bad day at work just melt away on the trail, seemingly exiting my body through the sweat from my pores and the carbon dioxide from my lungs.

My daughter performed in a hula competition during a recent weekend in Sacramento. I missed Saturday, while doing my long-run, and joined them on Sunday. My wife mentioned to the other parents that I was doing my long-run on Saturday and the “18 mile” distance came up in the conversation. They asked what I was training for and she explained, “Nothing…he just does it.”

I’ve been running off and on for the last 30 years (since I was an infant), but it wasn’t until last year that I really ramped up and started running year-round. I volunteered (sort of) to pace a friend in last year’s Leadville 100, trained hard to get into shape quickly, and just kept the running program going after the race was over. Now, with no special race in mind, I “just do it” because it’s fun and relaxing.

Interestingly enough, while on my 18 mile run, I bumped into another runner on the trail and we chatted a bit. He asked if I was training for a marathon or something and I mentioned I was just running for fun (don’t people run 18 miles for fun?). I explained that I enjoy self-supported, fun runs because organized races are expensive and I don’t need more t-shirts (just ask my wife) – and I get to visit cool locations that I’m interested in seeing, the scheduling is totally flexible (and can be rescheduled in the event of injury, etc.), and it’s free.

My friend Faye and I have a few fun runs scheduled this year. We’re running Desolation Wilderness next week, near Lake Tahoe. Our original plan was to run in Yosemite National Park, but we changed the venue due to a forest fire in the area. We also canceled a Yosemite run last year due to a forest fire, so the fire gods must be mad at us – or perhaps it’s because California’s in the middle of a multi-year drought and the summers have been extraordinarily hot. I’m also planning a Lake Del Valle to Sunol Regional Park run, traversing 20 miles along the Ohlone Wilderness Trail. There may also be another run later in the fall (I can always be “convinced” to do something fun).

Peace out.

Here are a few more photos from the Pleasanton Ridge trails.

Sheep grazing and enjoying the peaceful day (at least until I ran upon them, causing them to scatter off the trail). I tried counting them, but I fell asleep...

Chris dashing through the oaks.

Chris running off into the distance.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Anything but the Omelet

I recently traveled to Guam on business. While Guam is a wonderful place to vacation and relax, my business travel there has usually consisted of long work days, starting at 4 AM to support conference calls with North America, and ending late with customer dinners. Now that I’ve completed this trip a few times, I decided to compile a few tips for travelers visiting the island.

United Airlines pretty much has a lock on air travel between the US and Guam. The real choice is whether one connects through Honolulu or Tokyo. I prefer connecting through Tokyo because it offers one long flight from San Francisco to Tokyo (10 hours) and then one short flight from Tokyo to Guam (3 hours). Flying through Hawaii results in two medium-long flights, which isn’t as good for sleeping. I also enjoy the food and shopping at the Narita Airport.

The food on US air carriers is generally bad, at best. When flying United Airlines, I generally opt for ABTO (anything but the omelet). The texture and flavor of the “egg-like” food product is horrendous, but it complements the “cheese-like” food product enveloped in it surprisingly well (in a disgusting sort of way). On the flight to Tokyo, the chicken and rice was gourmet compared to the omelet-like food product. My ABTO theory/practice was proven incorrect on my flight home, however, as the pasta was actually worse (although by a narrow margin).

Tumon is the “Waikiki” of Guam, with a lot of shops, restaurants, hotels, and beaches to cater to the tourist. Historically, the Japanese and Koreans furnished the bulk of the tourism; however, more Chinese and Russian tourists appear to be flocking to the island lately. One tip for the business traveler (and tourist) is to buy a $13 mask and snorkel at K-Mart, and spend some time in the water. Floating in the warm Pacific Ocean, viewing the colorful tropical fish amongst the coral will soothe your soul. Sixty minutes in the water after work cleared our minds, melted our stress…and prepared our appetites for dinner. We repeated this day after day and the fish – the bright blue starfish; the brilliant yellow puffer fish; the school of angel fish; the colorful trigger fish; and the sand-colored flounder – always amazed us.

When in Guam, or any tropical island, take the time to chill out. Drive a little slower, enjoy dinner a little longer, and don’t sweat the small stuff. My flight from Guam to Tokyo had a projected three hour delay, jeopardizing my connection in Narita and the connections for many other travelers. While waiting at the gate, a group of locals opened their guitar and ukulele cases, and started playing music. The band entertained the crowd and the music helped pass the time (and gave the Asian tourists something to photograph). What would typically be bummer ended up being a nice experience, with live music, and drinks and snacks provided by United Airlines. Who knew hanging out at the airport could be so fun!

Fortunately, the flight left Guam after a two and a half hour delay, and the airline held my connecting flight in Narita. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to shop and eat at Narita….and I was so looking forward to the ramen.

To wrap things up, when traveling to Guam, remember -- ABTO and relax a little.

Here are a few pictures from my trip (Nikon FM2, 35mm f/2 AI-S, Fuji Pro400H film):

View of Tumon Bay from my hotel room.

Afternoon view from Two Lover's Point

Here are a few photos from my iPhone5:

Morning view from the hotel

Another photo taken from Two Lover's Point