All posts by Hugh E. Williams

Founder, Advisor, Professor, and Investor. Former Tech Exec.

Race #37: Rescue Run 5k

We took a vacation to the southwest of Colorado this week, and hiked for several days around the mountains.  But the week wouldn’t be complete without another race in our journey to 52 races to raise funds and awareness for the GBS-CIDP Foundation.

We found a small race near Castle Rock, Colorado, and decided it fit the bill perfectly for race 37. The Rescue Run 5k was a fundraiser to rescue orphans, and made for a good cause and an interesting Saturday morning.

A quick selfie before the Rescue Run 5k. You can see the hill in the background
A quick selfie before the Rescue Run 5k. You can see the hill in the background

The race started innocently enough in a park. Then, it wound its way uphill over a 350ft climb onto the top of the hill in the center of the Rhyolite Regional park.  From there, it was a run around the top for a mile and a half, and then we retraced our steps down the hill to the finish.

Selina finishing the Rescue Run 5k in Castle Rock, CO

I’m not sure whether it was the elevation of 6200 feet, the 250 foot climb, the 80F / 27C weather, or all three, but it was sure a tough race. Selina and I were both wiped out at the end, and spent the rest of the day rehydrating, eating, and sitting around. In any case, I’m sure glad it wasn’t a 10k race!

That’s 37 races in the history books, and only 15 to go to reach our goal! Yes! See you next time.

Race #35: Brazen Racing Rocky Ridge 10k

We heard down the grapevine that the Rocky Ridge 10k was a tough grind. And the rumors were true — while it’s always magnificent to run Brazen’s races, this was one of the tougher ones. (I can only imagine how hard the half marathon is — maybe that’s a project for next year.)

Getting started on the Rocky Ridge 10k
Getting started on the Rocky Ridge 10k

The race started with a single track, undulating cruise through woods, and short return back down a fire road. And then the fun began — a 1,000 foot climb over 1 mile up onto the aforementioned Rocky Ridge.

I always say to Selina that “Williams’s don’t stop”. The reality is I’ve probably walked maybe six times since 1992, and usually for pretty good reasons; there was the time I’d given blood and that other time when I was dizzy and the world span. Well, make that seven times — there’s no way I could run that 1,000 ft climb.

Walking up the hill. I wasn’t the only one…

Once we were up on top of the Rocky Ridge, the views were magnificent. The fog filled the valleys, and a gorgeous day spread out in front of us. If I wasn’t so darn keen to get the race finished, I’d have taken a photo or three. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

The end result was (as usual) Selina won her age group, and I didn’t. I’m pretty sure I was 4th in mine, and power to the guys who beat me! We’ll be back running this one next year — in fact, I think I’ll retire from running road races and stick with the trails in 2016.

Race #36: Montclaire 5k

Q. What do you do when you’re a few races behind your goal, and you’ve run a brutal 10k trail race the day before? A. Run a fundraiser 5k race at the local elementary school!

Family shot at the end of the Montclaire 5k
Family shot at the end of the Montclaire 5k
And they're off! The start of the Montclaire 5k in Los Altos
And they’re off! The start of the Montclaire 5k in Los Altos

And so we ran the Montclaire 5k in Los Altos as race 36 on our journey to running 52 races in the year to raise money for the GBS-CIDP Foundation. It’s a great little race: a run around the streets of Los Altos, and a short sojourn into the magnificent Rancho San Antonio preserve.

Settling into the first mile of the Montclaire 5k
Settling into the first mile of the Montclaire 5k

We took along Selina’s parents and our daughter Rosie, and all three were definitely (and defiantly in Rosie’s case) in the walking category. Selina and I intended to just cruise along, but you know how that sometimes goes — a slow first mile, and then the accelerator goes down.

Crossing the finish line
Crossing the finish line

Selina was the first female. Really, can the girl stop winning? And I guess I was in the top ten guys. This wasn’t a competitive race, and we probably should have just been enjoying the day like everyone else. But, hey, we’re competitive with ourselves, and that’s what happens.

See you next time.

Race #34: Trailblazer 5k

Our third race of the weekend was the 21st annual Trailblazer 5k in Mountain View, CA. Similarly to the Moonlight 5k on Friday, it was a race along the edge of the San Francisco bay, but this time in bright sunshine on a Sunday morning.

About half a mile into the Trailblazer 5k
About half a mile into the Trailblazer 5k

This was a really nice mid-sized race. Super well organized, plenty of parking, great crowd, nice course, and a beautiful day to be racing. If you’re looking for a fun race, this is one to pencil into your calendar for next year — and there’s both a 5k and a 10k, and runs and walks too.

We started off slow, promising ourselves we’d aim for 25+ minutes for the 5k race after two races in the two previous days. As usual — and Selina claims it’s my fault — we sped up as the race ran along, and wound up traveling at just over a 7-minute mile for the final mile. Sigh.

Anyway, the result of our labors was that I came 27th out of 300+ folks, and Selina came 28th. As is common in our racing adventures, she was the 5th woman and won her age group, and I didn’t; in fact, I was 10th in mine. Sigh again.

Well, that’s 34 races done, and 3 in one weekend. Only 18 more to go this year, and around 13 weeks to do it! Wish me luck!

Race #33: 5k9

The Hoofin’ and Woofin’ 5k9. Get it? A 5k race with your canine, right? And for a good cause too,  benefiting the City of San Jose’s Animal Care Center.

In my case, the canine is question is our faithful dog Buddy. He’s never been a fan of running, but I figured I’d take him out, he could sniff a few other dogs, we’d give running a shot, and worst case we’d walk. (And the rule is: if there’s a timer, it’s a race, and it counts on the way to 52 races in 2015.)

Buddy doing his best smile for the camera at the 5k9
Buddy doing his best smile for the camera at the 5k9

Buddy helped me set an all-time slowest 5k time of just over 39 minutes.  The first mile was great, and then he put the brakes on. We walk-ran the 2nd mile, and then walked the rest — with a little bit of a jog at the very end. But he got some treats, met a few other dogs, and took a nap afterwards — so I think he had a fine time!

Starting the 5k9. Buddy's already dragging, and we're only 50 feet into the race
Starting the 5k9. Buddy’s already dragging, and we’re only 50 feet into the race

The bizarre thing is I came 2nd in my age group, so I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one with some dog running issues. In fact, if you think about it, if you’ve got dog running or people running issues, you’re not going to set a great time.

A reasonable first mile with Buddy, and then he put the brakes on... but we made it!
A reasonable first mile with Buddy, and then he put the brakes on… but we made it!

Anyway, we made it, and that’s race #33 done on our way to 52 races. And it’s race #2 of 3 in a single weekend!

Race #32: Moonlight 5k

We ran the Moonlight 5k on Friday night. It’s the 31st running of this unique event that weaves its way through trails surrounded by marshland on the edge of the San Francisco bay. The race is at the Baylands Athletic Center in Palo Alto, and our 5k race began at 8:45pm in darkness under the Harvest Moon.

Headlamps set for the Moonlight 5k
Headlamps set for the Moonlight 5k

We were told to bring headlamps, but we noticed at the start that only a few people had them. I put mine in my pocket, and headed out without it. About half a mile in, it was pretty much dark, and we’re on an unpaved trail traveling along at a sub 8-minute mile. So, I quickly put mine back on and lit up the trail. Power to the folks who didn’t have one, but I’d recommend it if you’re running the race next year.

Anyway, this was the first of three races we planned to run on the weekend. So, we didn’t exactly crank up the pace to maximum (and you couldn’t anyway — there was over 2,500 people out there and plenty of traffic jams, and it was very dark). So, with those excuses declared, I’ll tell you that Selina came 124th and I came 126th. She was 2nd in her age group (how does she do that every week?), and I was 11th.

Race #32 is officially done, and that’s 20 more to go in this 52 race adventure in 2015.

For those who’d like a little more, here’s a write up from the Palo Alto Weekly.

Race #31: Awesome 80s 5k race

We ran the Awesome 80s race in San Francisco on Sunday morning at 7:30am. Getting out of bed on a Sunday at 6am isn’t that awesome. I’m renaming it the 80s race.

Crossing the line. That must have hurt...
Crossing the line. That must have hurt…

One thing I’ve learnt over 30 races is to be wary of novelty races. They’re either lame, badly organized, or run at some of the least pleasant places you can run. (I’m looking at you The Super Run.)

This race was actually a nice surprise: there were more than 500 people and they took the costumes seriously. We saw everything from a transformer to Slash from GnR, from Tetris pieces to a Star Wars stormtrooper, from bad aerobics costumes to Richard Simmons.

Plenty of costumes at the start
Plenty of costumes at the start

We got a bit lost in the middle of the race. So, the badly organized piece was a little true. Put some chalk down, guys. But, other than that, this was a pretty nice way to spend a Sunday morning: running along a marina near the San Francisco bay, lots of people having a fun time, and a very amusing DJ and announcer guy.

Selina crossing the line in 2nd place overall
Selina crossing the line in 2nd place overall

Anyway, Selina and I ran the 5k, and I guess the few serious runners that were there must have run the 10k. Selina came 2nd overall, and I came 3rd. And it wasn’t like I let her win — she just blew me away at the end.

Good costumes. See what I mean?
Good costumes. See what I mean?

Have a great week…

Weekly update: 30 races and $42,914 raised!

We’re very close to $43,000 raised on our way to $52,000 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. And we’ve run 30 races, so there’s only (cough, cough) 22 races to be run in three and a half months. Wish me luck with that!

Weekly stats: 83% of the way to our fundraising goal, and 58% of the way to our running goal

What’s been happening?

My friend and colleague Marc Delingat very generously donated $150 to the cause this week. Thanks Marc for getting our fundraising out of a serious rut and back moving again. You’re the man!

We’ve run two races in the past two weeks. We really need to get moving, but they were tough ones! Race #29 was an especially challenging trail race in the hills, and Race #30 was a nice lap around Lake Merced in San Francisco.

See you next time!

Race #30: DSE Runners Single Lake Merced 4.5 miler

The Dolphin South End Runners host more than 40 races each year throughout the greater San Francisco area. We decided to run their Lake Merced 4.5 mile race this morning, and enjoyed a cool, foggy San Fran start to our summer morning.

A foggy SF day at Lake Merced. Selina came 3rd in the women's single-lap race.
A foggy SF day at Lake Merced. Selina came 3rd in the women’s single-lap race.

Lake Merced is a large lake in San Francisco, with a popular paved 4.5 mile pedestrian trail around its perimeter. The area is largely residential, and it’s surrounded by reasonably busy surface streets. That’s probably under-selling it: when there’s hundreds of runners circling the park at any one time in both directions, it has a great feel of community and it’s a fun thing to be doing on a Sunday morning.

This was hands-down the cheapest race of the year. Race day sign up is $5 for non-members, and $3 for members. For that, you get a bib and a ribbon when you’re done, and they set up a finish line and it’s timed (without the chip — just remember your time when you’re finish, it’d not that hard). And there was watermelon and a water station. A sweet deal!


Like Race #29, we put in a slightly-less-than-max-speed effort, in the spirit of surviving another 22 races this year. Even with that, and Selina’s unscheduled restroom break in the middle of the race (that’s a first!), she managed to finish as the 3rd woman. I have no idea where I finished, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t in the top 20 men.

See you next time for Race #31.


Race #29: Brazen Racing Trail Hog 10k

The good news: this was an amazing trail race. The bad news: thieves got into my car and stole my wallet and phone, and ran up $3,000 worth of expenses before we even got close to home. The good news: the card companies removed the charges without an ounce of hassle. The bad news: I have to buy a new iPhone, and good old AT&T is taking 10 days to send me a new SIM card. Sigh.

The Race

The Brazen Racing Trail Hog 10k is awesome. It’s within the Joseph Grant County Park on Mt. Hamilton Rd in the hills east of San Jose, California, and takes you on a run with magnificent views of the surrounding hills including a close-up view of Lick Observatory. This was our second time running it, and you can be assured I’ll be back a third time.

About a mile from home. A gentle climb to the finish.
About a mile from home. A gentle climb to the finish.

It’s a challenging, beautiful trail race. I’d imagine the Half Marathon is a tough grind, because the 10k certainly is (starting with the fact that it’s actually about 6.6 miles or 10.6 kms). At the 1.5 mile mark, there’s a pretty tough 500 foot climb — and after that it’s an undulating run that ends with a gentle climb back to the start. But, overall, it’s pretty hard to beat for scenery as the pictures show.

If you put a camera near the lady...
If you put a camera near the lady…

I was the 4th male in my age group, and Selina was the 2nd in hers. We didn’t crank it out — we’re trying to get in the habit of running the races at a below-competitive pace in the spirit of making it through 52 races in the year. Anyway, that’s 29 races done!

The Theft

I opened the trunk of my car, put my phone inside, and closed the trunk. I walked away from the car without locking it, since my car locks automatically in 30 seconds or so when I take the key with me. I’m guessing as I walked away, the thieves quietly opened one of the doors a few inches.

Once I’m out of sight, they popped the trunk, grabbed the phone, and then emptied out the console in the front and found my wallet. With the booty stolen, they jump in their car, and head for two different Walmarts to run up $3,000 in charges on one card. They also stop and buy $50 worth of gas on another card.

Once I’m done with the race, I figure out I’ve been robbed. But we can’t call anyone from Selina’s phone, since there’s no cell coverage in the park. We drive back, cancel the cards on the ride, use the “Find iPhone” app to erase the iPhone, and suspend the phone service through AT&T.

The card companies cover all the losses (thankfully!), and AMEX even sent me a new card within 24 hours.  Fidelity are taking their sweet time. And AT&T still hasn’t delivered my new SIM card.

You live, you learn. Smart thieves come to races — since racers are definitely not coming back anytime soon. And you should lock your car manually — don’t wait for it to auto-lock, even though that’s a cool feature.

See you next time.