Monday, November 12, 2012

197.6 miles. Margin of victory: 12 seconds

Anyone who has run competitively before has a scenario they play in their head.  It's a scene you live out on countless runs causing that spike in endorphins and a quickening of the step.  For each runner this scene is unique and changes throughout their life.  Whether you have competed in high school and college or picked up running later in life, you know what I speak of.  It's a scene of heroics and redemption.  That ideal race where everything is on the line and, despite all odds and past failures, you overcome and deliver.  You yearn for that day.  It's what drives you.

I write now to speak of such a day, and, as with all in life, the scene I had played in my head countlessly veered from the intended script.  But what would be life if everything was scripted and without spontaneity?  It's these unintended diversions from the script that make it ever more meaningful.

I'm running the anchor leg.  Not because I'm our fastest runner.  But it's the card I've been dealt, and I'm happy to play it.  We've run near 200 miles throughout the night and on little sleep.  I ran legs 12 and 24 earlier.  The first was short and fast.  The second long, downhill, and fast.  Our lead has fluctuated between one and three minutes for most of the night.  I'm ready to have this race done.

As I loosen up, I get a good look at my opponent as he readies with form drills.  Young, legit.  I've maintained or extended the lead slightly on my prior legs.  But now the sun is up, and they can see us.  It's tough running in front, not knowing where your competition is.  Knowing the sight of you ahead is giving them all the motivation to push harder.

They are whittling down our lead.

Eddie's filling in for the injured Andrew on leg 35.  He comes up to me while we wait for Larry to finish leg 34.  "Down to just you and me," he says.  He has a short leg, roughly 3 miles or so.  I ask him to give me as much cushion as he can.  Larry soon comes in, and the exchange is made.  We wait for their runner to hand-off.  54 seconds is the gap.

We drive to the next exchange.  I shuffle around a bit.  Any more warming up won't help me any.  I stretched after each leg.  And I've felt much worse going into my final leg before.  I'm not nervous, but I'm anxious.  We both wait at the end of a tunnel, just outside where the handoff will occur.  I verify the course with the volunteers.  5.2 miles starting on hard trails, rough terrain on either side.  Toughest part is at the start where we will climb nearly 150 feet in the first mile.  It levels off a bit and rolls, right turn at 2.9 then again at 4.7.  Second half is a gradual downhill.

I hear our number: 301.  Theirs is called a bit later but I don't think about getting a split.  There is a long wait then Eddie appears from the tunnel with Ben and Larry escorting him through the final stretch.  Here we go.

I tell myself to hold back on the climb, and I do.  I have a slight shortness of breadth mainly from the nerves kicking in.  First mile is 6:08.  Slow but expected.  I work the downhills where I can, picking up the pace.  5:40s or so, the descent steepens and I hit a turn around 1.5 miles.  This is unexpectedly early.  It's clearly marked with a Ragnar sign, so I don't worry.  Eddie gives me water and yells encouragement.  I glance back and see their team running back up the hill.  Yelling for their runner, Jesús.

He's catching me.

I later find out our lead was 70 seconds at the exchange.  I keep pushing, hoping he went out too hard.  Then I hear yelling.  "YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!"  There's confusion.  I look back but keep running.  Their team is running down the hill chasing me as is ours.  I don't know what to think.  I know I followed the sign correctly, but I also know the map was different.  I'm on the road instead of the trail.  Jesús appears, also making the same turn.  Whether he ignored his teammates seeing me ahead or didn't hear them, I don't know.  But they are able to direct him back before he goes too far.

I start cursing, "Which way am I going?"  I'm at a practical standstill.  Eddie and Larry direct me back up and across the road and onto a gravel trail, leading up to another path.  Just like that our lead has evaporated and I'm back a good 100 meters or more.

I finally get back on course and gather my wits, but I'm not disheartened.  If anything a sense of relief comes over me.  The fear of getting caught, the anxiety, it's all gone.  This is how the scene is suppose to play out.  This is the chase.  This is what I've been waiting for.

Adrenaline kicks in.  I tell myself to stay in control.  It's still early.  I have time.

I'm running 5:20 pace.

He's in reach.  I know it.  I keep telling myself to run smart.  We are on a hard trail with an expanse of grass buffering the road in front of us.  The gap is closing steadily.  The path turns, but at the end Jesús cuts off to the grass and beelines to the road.  I take pursuit.  There's standing water in places, but not enough to waterlog my shoes.  We are soon back on the road.  The gap can't be more than 20 meters. 5:10 pace.

I reach him and settle in behind to recover.  The pace slows significantly. About 5:50.  We are near 2.5 miles in.  At least I am.  The pace quickens to about 5:25-5:30.  He's not content letting me sit on him.

Then he throws in a surge.  I respond, hanging just off his shoulder.  Sub-5 pace, but it's short lived.  This is a relief as I'm not sure how long I could hang with him.  We settle back into 5:45 pace.

I move up next to him. "Do you know where you're going?"

"No," he replies.

"Neither do I."

We run abreast, stride-for-stride, each sizing up the other.  What does he have left in him I think.  His breathing doesn't appear labored, but who knows what's left in his legs.  Neither of us really knows how much distance is left in the race or if we're even on the course.  It doesn't matter.

There's a median dividing the road.  Our van drives past on the opposite side as we run against traffic.  Someone yells that we are back on the van route.  Turns out this was also the updated course route, so we both had made the right turn in the first place.

The pace starts to quicken.  5:30 and falling.  We are more than 3 miles in.

The van stops ahead to direct us at a traffic circle.  Some of his teammates had hitched a ride with our van.  They start yelling for Jesús and at least one jumps in to help push the pace.  We're running close to 5-flat.  I yell over at them, "Hey, let us race!"  They back off a little but run with us still as we start hitting a downhill.

Eddie and Blake, I think, are there, too.  They join, running along side us as well, all while yelling encouragement.  Whatever's gonna happen, it's happening now.


Traffic cones are flying past either side as we race down the road.  There's a slight uphill before the road plunges again.  I find myself with a half-stride lead.

It wasn't a conscious decision.  But this is when it was made.  I open up my stride and go with it.  The gap is immediate.  The pace blistering, dropping from 4:50 to 4:20 with the aid of the downhill.  I don't look back.

I soon see the other half of our team at the bottom on the opposite side of the road, cheering wildly.  They direct me to cross.  I jump the median and make the turn as they block traffic.

The finish is right in front of me.  Andrew directs me around a few obstacles.  At this point I'm in an all-out sprint, arms pumping furiously.  I hear our team name announced.  And just like that, It's done.

Hands to my knees momentarily, then I keep walking.  I look up into the sky and mouth, "Thank you."  Then the runner's high sets in.

I turn to see Jesús finish, 12 seconds behind.  I walk over and we embrace, exchanging congratulations on a hard-fought race.

Our teams arrive, and details of the race come forth from my lips, likely incoherently.  Eddie comes running down the finishing stretch with an expression of jubilation on his face, having run the last 3/4 of a mile watching the finish unfold.  He grabs me in a bear hug.  Someone else, Loren or Larry maybe, help him hoist me on their shoulders.

Nearly 200 miles and it comes down to the last kick.  Insane.

Both teams loitered around the finish, a sense of camaraderie evident as we talk and take photos together.  Over 19 hours of racing will do that to you.  Despite the loss, they are in good spirits.

Having experienced that sort of defeat before, I know it isn't as tough as it sounds.  It's the journey that matters.  A hard-fought loss is better than an easy victory.  It provides the motivation and that scene to play out in your head.  They'll have their day again.  But this day is ours.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Food organization system

Thanks Craig!

The race is on

Must say a) it's more fun doing relays when they are close and b) our competition is absolutely lovely. Great group of guys despite their questionable clothing choice: speedos. Not flattering. Brent is running now and started with a 2:35 lead. He's got 9 tough miles then hands off to Larry. Eddie is doing a 4th leg to close the race. Andrew's stress fracture got the best of him leg 2. It's an exciting race. Van 1 just had delicious breakfast and are heading to the finish line / Ragnar park.

Go Google 1!

It's a dog fight

The differential has been no greater than 3 minutes all night. We fell behind once but managed to push back up to the front.

Now we are up 1:20 with 6 legs to go. It's gonna be a dog fight all the way to the finish. The long legs remaining should bode well for our team.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Van 2 extending the lead

Van 2 just completed our first set of legs.  The competition is tight between Google1 and Pants Optional, the only other team to start with us.  We took over from van 1 with a 2-minute lead.  Blake led off leg 7 tackling a tough uphill climb and managed to gain about a minute in the process.  Next up Ben L cruised through his leg, impeded only by those pesky traffic lights.

The remaining set of legs were short and fast.  Brent ran his 2.9 miles hard, the distance being practically a sprint for him.  Larry took an extended leg of 4 miles managing a solid time despite running a marathon less than a week earlier.  Andrew tested his injured foot out on an abbreviated 3-mile leg and it proved sound.  Jeff closed out leg 12's 3.3-mile distance, not letting the challenger's anchor gain any ground.  Van 1 takes over with a 3-minute lead.  Still anyone's race though.

Earlier at the airport

Van 1 looking sharp

A bit minimalist this time but still hot and ready to cruise the
200 mi strip.

Balmy las vegas

Around 21 degrees at the ski resort start

Ben feeling lucky

Virgin airlines prior to our flight offered an impromptu craps game at the gate. Guess who won the grand prize. See other post ...

Ben's winning s

Ben was a winner before we even started the relay. He still has yet to cash in I believe.

"The nicest exchange I've ever seen"

Reporting from van 1 as we wait at exchange 12 for van 2 to finish up. We currently are in the lead by 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

L-train: thoughts on Exchange 12

Loren, a veteran relayer, just commented that this is by far the nicest relay leg he has ever seen. It's not every relay that you get to pass the relay baton beside a black bentley convertible after using the restroom at a posh Marriot hotel casino. Loren, wearing his running gear, admitted he may have received a few strange looks as he passed a few octogenarians, dressed to the nines in suits and ties listening to 1950s lounge hits.  


Ragnar Las Vegas kick-off!

Apologies, this post is long overdue and quite outdated at this point, but we finally have internet connection. Someone forgot to bring his 3G-enabled Chromebook (ahem perhaps this blogger.)

We made it to Vegas! But our stay was short-lived. While most passengers on our flight booked it straight to the casinos upon touching down, Google1 had no time to party (despite "party mode" being enabled on the Google+ event we created). After picking up our two rental vans, we began the hour drive to the relay start in Lake Mead ~200 miles away from the finish near Vegas. We were warned by the van rental folks that we'll be running through a wind storm. Now as we pass struggling runners, who started earlier today, it's clear that the wind will be a force to be reckoned with. 



Vegas baby!

We officially started and it is officially freezing in Reno.

Correction: apparently we were at Lake Mead and not anywhere near Reno.

Back in action

Flights are out of SFO at 8am tomorrow. Its gonna be an early morning, so thanks daylight savings time.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Unofficial results

From the results tent this afternoon. Nice work team. Off to a celebratory dinner at Bridgeport Brew Pub in Portland.

The end of the road

Van 1 is in Seaside contemplating the Lewis and Clark statue and a dip in natures largest ice bath.

On our last leg

Thanks to everyone in van 2 crushing their legs and Jeff beasting it on his last leg, we're now about 2.5 minutes ahead of GE, the team that was leading most of the night. Blake's bringing us home to the beach. It's not over yet!

Some motivation to hold pace

There is a team of Yale alumni runners featuring the most famous Eli track runner. Don't get passed by him.

Friday, August 24, 2012

We have angered the wind gods

I don't know what we did, but this headwind for van 1 legs 13, 14, and so far 15 is unwarranted. Sacrifices welcome for anyone still up on this otherwise beautiful Friday night.

Chocolate coconut twinkies

Why is Craig jubilantly gesticulating Usain-bolt style? Is it because van 2 completed all of its legs and is on its way to get some much needed sleep waiting at exchange 18? Or is he celebrating because we're (likely) in front of team Tarahumara, only behind Toyo University, Bowerman, Knoxville, Portland University, and New Zealand? Or is he just pointing out the chocolate coconut twinkie on the menu of the Japanese stir fry restaurant we stopped at in Portland?


En route to Mt Hood

We have landed! We have eaten! We are driving! Last stop before Mt. Hood!


Van 2: Leg 8

The sun was setting over the Oregon Alfalfa fields as the (now very well used) baton was passed on for the 8th leg. The route was overall downhill,  but there were a few rolling hills to keep one honest.

Being the Google team we are always interested on how technology marches forward and changes lives.  In this case, technology marched forward rather slowly - and caused much stress in my life. The technology in question here was the Motorolla Aktiv sports watch with GPS. I have little / no experience using such black magic and was eager to have it keep me on track to meet the Big Cat predicted pace. (Actually - I more worried about missing the Big Cat required pace....;) ) Well, it started giving slow splits.....45seconds slower than planned. 'Well, just relax and pick it up'....still slow.....'ok...stretch your stride, lift the hips, stride out'......still slow....."go faster"....still slow..."go even faster" get it by now. The one gets to thinking.....was it the kale in my all organic locally sourced salad I had the day before at the raw food bar?! Am I missing a massage? Perhaps I am missing a shot of caffeine from the sneak attack barrista? oh - the decisions and uncertainty of working at Google!

In the end the GPS was the source of uncertainty and was short on the distance. The time looked ok.....apparently cut a few seconds its onward and upward to the next leg!!!

Google1 artist in residence

Kerry is to van decorations what Claire Stapleton is to TGIF emails.

Van 2- Leg 1- Kismet, serendipity or just plain luck?

Coming to the YouTube Mother Ship for training, I bumped into a friend and new teammate, Crosby Freeman. One of the first things he said was, "How long you out here for?"

My response: "Here  until the end of the week and up to Portland to see my family."

Two blinks and eyes widening he smiled, "Yeah?! We're running Hood-to-Coast on Friday...... Hey, I think we might have a spot open.. You interested?"

I paused, thinking back to work plans... I may be able to squeeze in all my meetings by Thursday... Wait, I thought. The last time I ran that race in 2005... I couldn't run for 3 days, or was it 2? However, remembering the camaraderie, feeling of accomplishment and IPAs waiting at the end of the run in beautiful Seaside I was like, "Let's do this!"

Always wanting to run with the Google team, but being in San Bruno at the time, I couldn't logistically make it down to MTV. This was my chance though.

Changing my ticket, I left early Friday to meet the team in Portland. We picked up the vans and headed straight for Timberline. We got off to a good start and watched our first three legs run solid down the steep decline.

My leg, the first of our second van's started at the Sandy(for track fans, home of Art Skipper) Safeway. Meeting my folks for coffee, I'm thinking that this is my day. After a shaky warm-up, I went to the exchange zone to meet Crosby for the hand-off. He came blazing in quicker than our projections and pumped up, I started striding out down the hill and feeling rough(mind you the day before I kayaked an hour on the team offsite), I pushed through the first mile in about 5:20.

From there, I was just not going to maintain, so I slowed and just focused on running it as if it were a tempo run. Around mile 3 my shoe lace came undone and I had to stop. A mile later, the other one came undone and disgusted with myself, I stopped again to re-lace. Then came the undulating hills.

I repeatedly hammered up and tried to relax down the hills. Focusing on maintaining the rhythm and taking scalps took my mind away from the creeping lactate. The folk that lived in the area we're kind enough to turn their sprinklers on to cool us off in the blazing, setting sun.

When we got to 1-mile out, the course began to flatten out a bit and the finish came to sight. Dropping down another gear I focused on passing the three people that stood between me and our next runner, Craig. Coming down to the final 100-meter stretch the lady in front of me turned her head and she too, hammered down beginning her sprint. Surprisingly fast, I thought about letting her have her glory, but that would not be sport. So I passed her, but it was not as easy a task as I had thought.

My final time was slower than anticipated and I rolled in at 34:14 for my 6.32 mile leg. Not stellar, not bad. I hope to redeem myself the next two legs and help our team win the corporate division.

Van 1 wraps-16.7% down

The YouTube handoff went like clockwork. Van 1 is off to Portland. We'll be back up at 9:45. Blog is all you, van 2.

First set of legs ..almost complete

Van 1 is off to a great start. The weather is fabulous, albeit a bit hot, and we're 6 minutes ahead of pace.

There is *a lot* of competition this year including my favorite new team from Japan. They're about 15 minutes ahead of us and looking great.

First set of legs almost wrapped up in Van 1.  We are collectively six minutes or so ahead of schedule - good start, but the truth will be told in the second and third set of legs.

Some details:

Leg 1: Chris. led it out down a brutal descent and beat down his projection by almost 4 minutes... nice!  And only a few blisters, not too shabby!
Leg 2: Big Cat took the baton and finished the descent down Mt. Hood.  That downhill bought us another couple minutes!
Leg 3: Ben C followed up with a nice fast 4 miles.
Leg 4: I wasn't feeling all that great, but I managed my 7.18 miles without losing any time... that's a win!
Leg 5: Loren had the hardest of our first set of miles: a hilly 6 miles, which he seemed to gobble up.
Leg 6: Crosby is out there now doing what he does best.

Looking forward to dinner!


Van 2

Just chillin like villains. Behind a dumpster.


Exchange 2

We're now about 4500 vertical feet below where we started. While the downhill takes a toll on one's legs, we have been treated to some amazing views of Oregon forests. Added bonus: 4:50 miles are a cinch. The pack we started with is beginning to spread out but this is gonna be a race this year.

From the pictures, I'd say ben looks like he's got his second and third legs in the tank (he's finishing) and Larry looks ready to go for #4.

Exchange 1: Baton and water balloon toss

After descending 6000 feet, Chris handed off to Eddie (Big Cat). From the group that started with us at 3:15 pm, here are the teams ahead: Toyo (elite runners from a university in Tokyo), Nike Bowerman, Knoxville, New Zealand, and Tarahumara -- though perhaps not for long at the rate Big Cat is moving. The perennial group of young locals at the exchange didn't disappoint in the heckling department, this year armed with water balloons in addition to PBR tallboys. Though Chris' lightning speed allowed him to dodge the bullet. Though it might have been a welcome relief in this heat.

Nice work Chris! Time to stretch.


Mt hood

Winston getting the ship ready to sail.


Esther, fearless van 2 driver, in the zone on the way to the mountain.


Waiting for Winston at the airport. Beautiful day in Portland.

Dawn #1

Of 2. Stay tuned for a shot from Mist, OR or thereabouts.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The night before

It's an early morning for us tomorrow, as we all head to Portland (early flights from SFO and drives from Washington). We've drawn the 3:15 start time and Chris Holstrom will be kicking off this year's bid. #Pumped.

The Mother of All Relays

Before the start of Hood to Coast 2011

Galen Rupp's fearless kick during the last lap of the 10K. Poetry in motion.
Meb Keflezghi, 37, proving that he still can compete with the best of them. Downright inspiring.

For track and field fanatics, this summer's Olympic games lived up to the hype. Yet they still served as only a warm-up for what we all recognize as the biggest running event of the year.

"Hood to what??"

Well, maybe not everyone keeps Hood to Coast irremovably blocked off on their "running" Google Calendar in all caps. But for many of us, tomorrow marks the start of the "Mother of All Relays" (as the relay modestly refers to itself).

We'll do our best to keep the blog updated throughout the night to satiate the thirst of our loyal track and field-a-holic followers riveted to computer screens during the wee hours of the morn. Of course you can just read our final post on Saturday morning.

Either way, for now I leave you with a profound quote from Johann Blake, sprinter and teammate of Usain Bolt on the Jamaican Olympic team:

Basically, we are not human, we dropped from space like Mr Bean. Mr Bean is not a normal guy, he makes jokes. We are not normal guys. We are from space, I am from Mars.

While we may not be as fast as Blake and Bolt, we're certainly far from normal. After all, we're running an all night race from Mount Hood to a coastline 200 miles away -- for fun.

See you out there!


Blake and Matt hoisting L-Train after his final leg during Hood to Coast 2011.
1st place? No. From space? Perhaps

Monday, June 4, 2012

Corporate Challenge results!

Corp. Challenge & Chicago

When a few of us ran the JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge Championships in Johannesburg back in 2010, the global nature of the event felt a bit like the World Cup, which was happening in South Africa at the time. This year, the upcoming Olympics came to mind as seven Google runners and I toed the line in Chicago alongside athletes from seven countries on five continents.

Pre-race reception
At the reception the night before the race, we chatted with runners representing companies from Sydney, Tokyo, Frankfurt and ten other cities in the Chase tower overlooking the Chicago skyline. We even rubbed elbows with Chicago celebrities like Mike Ditka, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan and Harry Carey. After realizing that Mr. Ditka as well as the other four were impersonators, ESPN-junkie Eddie gradually regained balance and picked up his dropped jaw. Good thing since there was plenty to munch on, albeit not your standard pre-race fare: delicious tootsie rolls, hot dogs served by vendors clad in Cubs gear, and other Chicago classics. We even cleansed our palates with Wrigley's gum manufactured nearby.

Race day
Race day was unseasonably warm and windy, even for Chicago standards. Of course, the strongest headwind had to be in the final mile as we entered the homestretch back to gorgeous Grant Park by Lake Michigan. After the race, we kept the adrenaline levels high dancing to a rocking soul band. We learned that the mens team had finished in 3rd place overall, just seconds in front of Swimming Australia Limited from Sydney, and the mixed team had finished in 5th place in the mixed division! Here are the full results.

After accepting the awards, we resumed grooving to Blues Brothers covers along with runners from around the world. Then we hung out with Googlers from the Chicago office who had run the open race, which started shortly after the championship, along with about 23,000 other participants.

I have to hand it to the JP Morgan race organizers not only for their fine taste in blues music, but also for their incredible hospitality throughout the event and for putting on a fantastic race series that benefits a number of awesome charities.

However, JP Morgan's caption-writing could be improved :) The site includes a photo of the Google mens team, featuring Eddie with hands outstretched in post-race jubilation and Loren doubled over after clearly leaving everything on the course. The caption reads: Members of Google have some fun as they warm-up for the race.

Video highlights from JP Morgan Corporate Challenge site.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Corporate Challenge Championship in 5 hours

Time to break out the 5 hour energies? Too soon.

Tonight, eight Google runners will join dozens of other corporate running teams from around the world in a race through the streets of Chicago. I'm praying for no headwind. Chicago's not known for being a windy city, right?

During the annual JPMorgan Chase Corporate Challenge Series, hundreds of companies compete in 3.5 mile road races held in 13 cities, including Singapore, New York City and Johannesburg. To qualify for the 2012 championship and earn a round-trip flight to Chicago, each corporate team of four, either men’s, women’s or mixed, won its local qualifying race in 2009. This year Google won both the mens and mixed divisions of the SF race.

In the elevator on the way to the pre-race reception last night, I met Bradley Croker, a runner from Swimming Australia in Sydney. When the subject of Bay to Breakers came up, he mentioned he had run it too. As we chatted further, I discovered that the race directors had put him up in a hotel in SF as an elite runner and he had finished around top 10. Needless to say, he wasn't running with a stinger and centipede twinkie feelers.


Photo of Google mixed team (From left: Cedric, Gretchen, Jeff  and Elizabeth)

Bay to Breakers results!

Google1 successfully "launched" Beta Breakers on Sunday, covering the 12 kilometer course in 49 minutes (6:34 pace per mile). The 15-Googler 'pede nailed its pace goals while, more importantly, still being able to stomach smiles during the photo checkpoints in the final miles. We're definitely saving the $1 package of Office Depot binder clips and flag football belts for next year.

Below is a photo from the Project Glass Google+ page. As you can see, Blake got the Glass while I wore the "twinkie feelers" (see previous post). He clearly got the short end of the stick.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Announcing the B2B Google1 centipede. In beta.

At Google we sometimes give nicknames to new features and products in development. A fellow Googler told me that when he first started working in Mountain View, he kept hearing about a mysterious product called Beta Breakers. He eventually discovered that Bay to Breakers was actually one of the largest road races/parties in the world -- not a feature on the horizon.

Conversely, Team Google1 eventually realized that this year was in fact time for a Bay to Breakers beta, the first Google1 centipede (that I know of anyway). 15 Googlers connected by bungee cords, office depot binder clips and flag football belts will be running the 12 kilometers (that's 7.4 miles) from San Francisco's Embarcadero to Ocean Beach during tomorrow's 101st running of Bay to Breakers. Most importantly, we secured two of the essentials. According to the official centipede guidelines, "adopted by the International Centipede Congress long, long ago," rules 5 and 6 are as follows:

  5. Twinkie feelers on the head of each segment are required.
  6. The final segment of each centipede must wear a stinger of appropriate design and toxicity.

Considering that the race starts in less than 8 hours, I probably should head to bed. Then again, Google1 runners are used to running on low sleep.


Photos from The Relay are in!

Calistoga The Relay '12

Sunday, May 6, 2012

We made it! Strawberry fields forever

Jeff brought us home crossing the finish line at 10:49 am at a strawberry farm in Davenport CA (not Santa Cruz as I mistakenly mentioned earlier). We finished in second place and are heading to refuel at a local breakfast spot to refuel.

Huge thanks to pilots Kerry and Christine for navigating through ambiguity, putting up with the van stench, and keeping us alive! Big thanks also to Jeff and Loren, along with Kerry and Big Cat, for stepping up and leading the charge on organizing this thing -- it makes my head hurt to think of all the logistical details that go into putting something like this together.

Gotta run (figuratively) and join the rest of the crew inside at the breakfast spot. Congrats Google1, the other Google running teams, DSE (the winners), and everyone else who participated in the relay!


Chrome fast.

Rude awakening

Loren looking rested and ready to run. Moments later he kicked off van halens last set of 6 legs

5 star accommodations

Van Halen rocked our second set of six legs. We're on the long drive to the next big van exchange where we'll wait for Morrison and catch a little sleep. However, it's highly unlikely that the van seats, ground, or in Loren's case, car roof, will provide as comfortable accommodations as Blake's apartment.  We slept in his basement earlier tonight where we managed to get a full night's sleep of 45 minutes while being serenaded by his roommate singing "Waiting for a funeral" by Band of Horses.

We're happy to see that we won't have to wear bulky headlamps and reflective vests, based on the sunrise time.

I forgot to mention that earlier we had a mobile phone hangout with a few members of Van Morrison as we were waiting for them to meet us on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Angie has conquered the Golden Gate bridge and Van Morrison is off for a well-deserved nap. Driver Christine is leading us to the place, while most of the rest of the runners are already starting to doze off. Good luck Van Halen! See you in a few hours.


We are rested and back for more

Another glorious and hilarious nap at Blake's. While all intruders stayed fully clothed this year, we did get to enjoy a lovely serenade from the new roommate. Blake, further proof we should hang out with your friends more often.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Golden Gate Bridge under the supermoon

Van Halen is currently passing through Marin. We've broken out the pop tarts on the long drive to exchange 24 where we'll catch a few hours of sleep at Blake's pad (praying that there's not a late-night, noisy party) and wait for Van Morrison.

After a few zzz's Blake will likely uncork the first five hour energy of the night after depriving himself of caffeine for this past week to ensure maximum impact. Bracingly crisp.

We're all finished with our first set of legs, after stomaching a day's worth of pre-race jitters. Earlier, the Benz ran mighty fine miles, Ben "the" Carr completing his first relay leg ever. Blake cranked through his miles at an impressively brisk pace, especially considering that he was wearing worn-out running flats wrapped in tape to prevent them from disintegrating. He handed off to Jeff, who tackled the challenging hills that loomed early in leg 12 and then flew on the downhills. We're in second place, about 10 minutes behind DSE. The night is young and we're crossing the Golden Gate Bridge under the supermoon.

Nothin' but a G thang just started on the ipod. Time to chill til the next episode.


Back ahead of Stanford

Matty Kane is crushing it.  We are back in front of Stanford. Another item reclaimed, our van name. Van Dam formerly Van Halen is now back to Van Halen.

Van Gogh-ing

Buganizer Loren killed it on his first leg, ripping off his singlet, and finishing with his chest covered in flies. Yeah buddy!

We're about 4 minutes behind Stanford Running Club. Dolphin South End (DSE) is about 10 minutes ahead.

The Benz have commenced their back-to-back legs. Rookie Ben just cruised by at a blistering pace, soon to be followed by Big Ben.

Andrew taking off

From the start. Also important update: van halen = van dam
van morrison = van gough

Say cheese in wine country

Sorry for the lame title. The posts will get cheesier as the night goes on.

The lead is reclaimed! Cedric is out for a blistering 7.4 miles with DSE close behind.

Off to a great start

Google 1 off to a great start in The Relay. Andrew ran a great leg one and Larry a fantastic leg 2 moving the team into 1st. Also off to a great start...107.7 The Bone playing all my favorite classic rock hits.

Andrew and Larry wrapped up legs one and two maintaining a brisk pace, and Chris is currently wielding the baton on this whirlwind wine tour. We're currently in second place, behind Stanford Running Club.

For those about to run ... we salute you!

I'm posting from Van Halen, along with the two Ben's, Loren, Blake, Jeff and our veteran van pilot Kerry. Andrew starts rocking at 3 pm PST in Calistoga. He's riding in the other van with Angie, Gretchen, Larry, Cedric and Chris in Van Halen, driven by pilot Christine. We're decked out in our new team jackets (thanks Jeff!).

Eddie, aka Big Cat, who typically captains these events, is in Australia, where I trust he'll be devouring each post immediately as they go live, and +1'ing each compulsively. We'll miss you Big Cat!

Good luck to all the other Google teams and everyone else in the Relay. For those about to run ... we salute you!

On the way! View from Van Halen

Friday, May 4, 2012

Super pumped for The Relay ... and supermoon

It's that time of year. The stars have again aligned to bring together 12 fast, fun-loving Googlers from across the company for one 200 mile journey. As an added bonus, Saturday night's supermoon, the biggest, brightest moon of the year, has kindly agreed to shed its celestial rays on these insomniac harriers and their two fearless van pilots, as they race from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. And it looks like the weather gods will cooperate.

Yes, it's that time of year again. The Relay is once again upon us, kicking off the Google1 team's racing season. Time to pile into two vans and race through vineyards, cross the Golden Gate bridge under a full moon and, if all goes well, finish with legs intact in Santa Cruz on Sunday -- all in the process of raising money for a great charity that promotes organ donation through athletics (Organs 'R Us).

One crazy Google1 runner mapped the hilly course two years ago using Google Earth and My Maps. Awesome, and it looks like I got stuck with one of the "Very Hard" rated legs.

On a Saturday night, what could possibly be more exciting than following a bunch of crazy, nerdy runners as they run a ridiculously long race? Well, perhaps running The Relay, but then again, the sweat smell in the vans get pretty bad starting around mile 12 ...

See you out there!


-MK10K (aka Matt Kane)