Sunday, May 3, 2015

We've reached the beach!

We all joined Peter in a sandy sprint to the finish, crossing the finish line in second place with a time of 19:39:44!

We congratulated the Stanford team on their victory, and now it's time to celebrate another great relay finish by Google 1! Cold brews await...

Flying down to Felton

Hopping on the local public library WiFi here in the charming town of Ben Lomond for a quick update: Craig just handed off to Jeff, and we are still on track for arrival in Santa Cruz around 10:30am. Let's finish strong!

The beach beckons

We're so close I can almost smell the salty air... Brent, Dawit, and Craig blazed with a quickness down Highway 9 into Boulder Creek, and now Jeff will attempt to ignore his shin pains as he climbs up the quarry out of Felton. After a healthy balanced breakfast of Snickers, potato chips, and a Rockstar energy drink, I'm ready for my final 3.5-mile ascent to Empire Grade, where I'll set Peter up for the final approach to the finish line. I hope Van 1 is already enjoying some cold beverages... we'll see you soon guys!

Kick the tires and light the fires

06:15: "Good thing that alarm went off," Craig said, "I sure wasn't enjoying that sleep." We drowsily awoke from one of those naps that was too short to make you feel rested but just long enough to make your body really resent your sweet slumber's abrupt end. These are the moments of the relay when you question your sanity, since it sounds so much more pleasant to roll over and go back to sleep than to hightail it up to Saratoga Gap at sunrise to cover the final 40 miles of running to Natural Bridges Beach.
But Van 1 has been fighting the good fight throughout the night and now it's our turn to bring it home! I'm not exactly looking forward to my final run, but I am excited to take a cleansing and invigorating dip in the Pacific and have a celebratory beer with my superstar teammates. And hey, at least we'll be racing in daylight again.
We'll likely lose reception in the mountains, but I'll update with our ETA as we approach Santa Cruz! We're currently looking at a 10:25am arrival with a finishing time of 19:25.

Lovely night for a run

The air is crisp and the moon is shining bright over CaƱada Road as Peter grinds out his last few miles. We're about to hand the very sweaty bracelet back to Van 1 after another successful round of late-night running.

Brent was once again ahead of schedule, and
Dawit finished his hilly 5.9 with a huge grin on his face. Craig and Jeff kept the momentum going, and Kirk got his chance to shine on the 2-mile "van bridge" segment, during which he expertly maneuvered Minnie to a sub-2 finish. I leapt out at the stop sign with adrenaline surging and had the novel experience of redlining it for 1.8 above-threshold tunnel-vision miles, giving me a painful reminder of why I prefer endurance events.

Now it's up to the speedsters in Van 1, who will continue along Foothill and begin our ascent into the Santa Cruz mountains, with Vitor "Hot" Rodrigues gunning it straight up the staircase that is Redwood Gulch. With 2/3 of the race complete, we remain only a few minutes behind our projections. Keep it up guys! We're gonna search for a place to snooze.

In praise of Kirk and Ben

I wanted to take a moment to thank our amazing drivers, Kirk and Ben. Out of the kindness of their hearts they are sacrificing their weekends to stay awake all night in a smelly van, acting as chauffeurs, cheerleaders, timekeepers, and soigneurs.
These guys are faster than I'll ever be and I'm sure it's killing them that they can't run with us tonight... but thanks, fellas for making such a valuable contribution to our team and bringing all the positive vibes to our vans!

Across the Bay!

There's a celebratory atmosphere here at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, where the teams that started at many different times are beginning to bunch up. We chatted with Patrick, who was here volunteering and resting his legs after his Boston debut, and we cheered on a bunch of runners as they came across the bridge from Marin.

Stanford's lead has increased to 27 minutes and is unfortunately unlikely to be surmounted; it's clear that they fielded a dynamite team this year. Nevertheless spirits remain high and we are still on track for a finish in a very respectable 19 hours and change. Van 2 engage!

Like David's toilet, Google 1 won't stop running

... and Stanford ain't gonna jiggle OUR flush handles. That was an extended toilet metaphor, not an inappropriate sexual reference.

After murdering a chicken sandwich, self-administering  a back-of-van baby-wipe sponge bath, and taking a 30-minute power nap at David's place (thanks David!) I have to say I'm feeling pretty awesome, ready to jump back into battle for the Goog.

Van 2 is on our way to the T18 halfway point, where David "bring it" Ahn will hand off to Brent and we'll give Van 1 a well-deserved break. They've been pushing hard this evening and sticking close to our optimistic projections, but Stanford maintains a considerable lead. We'll see if they have staying power; we certainly won't be slowing down!

(And don't worry David, your toilet did eventually stop.)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

1/3 of the way done

With the baton (actually a rubber bracelet) passed back to Van 1, the crew of Van 2 is invading David's place in the hope of catching  a brief snooze.

Jeff "can I buy a vowel" Czyz crushed his 8-miler with his customary velocity, Peter "bat out of hell" Battaglino ran his 4.8 miles in a speedy 31 minutes, and I chased down blinking lights for 6.9 dark and hilly miles, doing my damnedest not to blow it for the team.

We continue to lag behind Stanford (or more accurately, the joint Stanford-Berkeley alliance) but the mood is optimistic and our van doesn't smell TOO bad yet. We are ready to run hard through the night!

O Captain! My Captain!

Jeff is taking off as night begins to fall. Craig had a solid run and we are back on track with projections, but we remain about 7 minutes behind Stanford's very strong team.

Dawit can't be beat

Stanford finished leg 8, a hilly 10k, in 36:28. But then Dawit came in at a blistering 35:46, chipping away at their lead.

Dawit looks so speedy that when he finished, a random stranger asked to get a picture with him, our Google running celebrity.

Time to bust out the cowbell

Brent blazed through leg 7 thirty seconds ahead of projections, but the gap remains. Dawit is looking strong. It's a long race and we're not out of the running yet.

Van 2 is in full effect

We took the handoff from David trailing Stanford by 7:20. We've got our work cut out for us but we're going to do or best to close the gap. Van 1, thanks for your hard work! See you later tonight...

Holy smokes!

Stanford's fourth runner ran at a  5:22 pace for 7.4 miles, widening their lead to four and a half minutes. We've got some work to do! Go Vitor and David! Van 2 is ready for you. They have some delicious cookies here at the van exchange.

Stanford pulls ahead

We're on to the fourth runner in our rotation, Al,  and Stanford is looking strong; they closed the lead and then pulled about a minute ahead.
Van 2 is waiting nervously at the T6 exchange, getting ready to spring into action.

Off to a strong start

Todd opened up a 32 second lead, and Andrew extended it to 2 minutes. An auspicious opening, but there are still many miles to go.

And they're off!

The race has begun! Go Todd!

The starting lineup

Competition is looking fierce!

At the start

Todd is warming up and we're scoping out the competition. We got a pretty awesome team number.

Provisions acquired!

Just 1 hour until the gun. Getting super pumped! Does this come in a 20-hour variant? Not sure if drinking four of them will have the desired effect.

Stocking up on sandwiches

We're gonna need plenty of fuel in the next 20 hours. Meanwhile, Brett's trying out a new look.

Van 2 is pretty cozy

We were supposed to get a bigger van but the rental company said it had issues. So we got this little guy at a discount. Somehow we all packed in with our gear and we're gonna make it work. Maybe we can have 2 people run each leg to alleviate the crowding a bit. Instead of Van Halen or Van Damme we may have to christen this vehicle Minnie Driver.

On our way to the start

Signaling problems on the Caltrain. I hope we can run faster than this train is moving...
At least we have some delicious breakfast burritos.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Back to the roads!

Another year has gone by and the Golden Gate Relay is finally upon us!  Google1 will toe the line at our typical 3pm start time and attempt to defend our title once again.  There will be many new faces in the group this year.  Hopefully there will be many familiar faces competing along side of us.  Here's to a close and thrilling race, the best kind there is!

As always, a big thanks to the volunteers that make this race possible and for those who have come out to support Organs 'R' Us.  See everyone in Santa Cruz!