Category Archives: races

Race #12: Wildflower Run 5k

We ran the 32nd annual Wildflower Run at the Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, CA on Sunday. What a great race — well organized, flat, fast, and a beautiful day for running. You should get along next year for the 33rd running; I’ve a feeling we’ll be there too.

Third place in the 40 to 49 division today. Pretty happy with that!
Third place in the 40 to 49 division today. Pretty happy with that!

I wore my prototype FiftyTwoFives running shirt for the first time today. We’ve been printing a few different versions, and testing them out. We’ll be printing an official shirt in a month or two, and including names of sponsors who’ve donated more than $100 to our fundraiser for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. If you’d like the shirt, it’s not too late to donate — come on, you know you want to head over here and help a great cause!

Selina came 2nd in the 40 to 49 women's division. Speed demon!
Selina came 2nd in the 40 to 49 women’s division. Speed demon!

Anyway, this morning, just over 500 people ran the 5k race, and around 250 ran the 10k. The race had a friendly, family atmosphere — and a club racing atmosphere too in the form of a large contingent from the Wolfpak running and triathlon club.

I ran into 3rd place in the 40 to 49 age group (and 16th overall), with a reasonable time of 21:40. I have a sneaking suspicion that the race was closer to 5200m than 5000m, but maybe it’s just wishful thinking that my time was actually a little better. My wife Selina ran into second place with a 22:20 (and came 22nd overall, and 5th in the women’s division). The ladies from Wolfpak looked impressive, but Selina didn’t have too much trouble taking all but one of those ladies down. She’s low key but fast.

The start of the pre-race kids' 2k race
The start of the pre-race kids’ 2k race

The race was won overall by 27-year-old Stephanie Pancoast in a time of 17:24. I haven’t seen a female overall winner in my races for a few years, and 17:24 sure is humming. Impressive stuff.

Next weekend, I’m taking a short break from racing. We’ve got seven or eight races lined up in April including a run around the coliseum before the Mariners @ A’s game (Go M’s!), a run across the Golden Gate bridge, and a race up and down the hills of Mt Diablo. Should be a fun month!


Race #11: Zimbabwe Run

Race 11 wasn’t as exotic as race 10. After my long flight back from Argentina on Thursday, I decided to keep it simple and run the Zimbabwe Run One Mile race on Sunday. My youngest daughter ran it the past couple of years, and this year I ran it with my wife and eldest daughter. Family running is great fun — what’s better than spending time with your family and getting some exercise in too?

Family fun at the Zimbabwe Run. Hugh, Lucy, and Selina. The girls have their new shirts!
Family fun at the Zimbabwe Run. Hugh, Lucy, and Selina. The girls have their new shirts!

Watch the video above to get a feeling for the race — this is my eldest daughter Lucy in action, running in the seventh and eighth grade girls race. (Click the HD icon at the top for a better viewing experience.) We’re very proud of her — she’s taken up running in the past year, and grown to love it.

The Zim Run is unique and for a great cause: it’s a fundraiser for orphans in Zimbabwe. As you’ll see in the video, it’s mostly on grass and two loops around St Joseph’s school in Mountain View. It’s run in age groups: first and second grade, third and fourth grade, and so on up to high school and post high school.

The good thing about running one mile is that it only takes between 5 and 8 minutes for most people run regularly. Mentally, it’s easy to say to yourself at the half way mark that the pain will stop in three minutes and to keep going. I was whispering encouragement to myself after 3 minutes. You can’t do that in a 10k or a half marathon.

Anyway, I came about seventh or eighth (the results aren’t available yet). I ran the race in 6:20, which isn’t too bad given the course, and isn’t too good given it’s a mile. The winner ran it in around 4:30. I beat my wife by about 19 seconds (that’s important!). But, most of all, we’re very proud of Lucy’s efforts!

It’s a great family event — I might see you there with your family next year. We’ll be there.

So, what about next weekend? I’m glad you asked. I’m looking for a race to run on Saturday, and I know I’ll be running the Wildflower Run in Morgan Hill on Sunday. Might see you there!


Race #10: Carrera UNICEF por la educacion

This race was an 8 out of 10 on the exotic scale. I flew 14 hours to the second-largest city in South America, Buenos Aires in Argentina, and raced with around 20,000 people on Sunday. All in the spirit of raising money for the GBS/CIDP Foundation and the great work they do. Which reminds me — if you haven’t donated, I’d love you to join the wonderful people who have.

That was a fun race! A festive atmosphere, plenty of sponsor booths, lots of families, and almost everyone wearing matching UNICEF t-shirts. All along the course there were cheering crowds, who were probably two or three deep along the railings over the last quarter mile. The course itself was flat and wound through parklands on closed roads and past the Antonio Vespucio Liberti stadium, home of C.A. River Plate, the famous Buenos Aires soccer team.

Selfie at the start line
Selfie at the start line

The warmup beforehand was an experience. Perhaps 5,000 people joined in a choreographed aerobic stretching session with (I presume) a local fitness personality. He was accompanied by loud American rap and dance music, and a costumed hippopotamus. Following that, everyone shuffled into the start chute and lined up over a quarter mile waiting for the start. Fifteen minutes later, we were underway.

We're ready to race. If you look carefully, you can find me in my trademark sunglasses
We’re ready to race. If you look carefully, you can find me in my trademark sunglasses

The 10k race itself felt like a half marathon. I was glad it was over. The humidity of roughly 80% and the temperature in the 80s was tough on a Californian who’d just arrived. I ran a relatively slow time, but that wasn’t really the point — it was an amazing experience.

Crossing the finish line
Crossing the finish line

This week, I’m thinking I’ll keep it simple, and run a race I’ve watched for the past three years. My daughters and wife will probably run it too. It’s a one mile time trial that raises funds for a Zimbabwean orphanage, and it takes place at an elementary school in Los Altos, CA. Looking forward to it!

Race #9: Jenny’s Light 5k

Some races are just races. Others give you insight into someone else’s life and important causes. This is a race that matters.

Jenny’s Light is a charity formed after the untimely death of Jenny from postpartum depression. It aims to improve and save lives through increasing awareness of postpartum mood disorders. Since its inception a few years ago, they’ve raised over $400,000, and it was our pleasure this morning to contribute by running their annual race. If you’d like to contribute too, head over here. (We sent over a few extra dollars too.)

Speaking of things that matter, my fundraiser to fight GBS matters! We’ve raised nearly $11,000 in less than a month for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. I suffered from GBS — which wasn’t fun — and I’m working to help others who have the misfortune. Please head over here and donate to support the cause.

The Race

This race was at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos in California. It’s a beautiful park, built along the Los Gatos creek trail, with the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad as the center piece. Very flat and all pavement.

It was a cooler morning in Northern California. It took a while to warm up, and we wished we’d brought along running gloves. If you live on the east coast of the US, you probably hate me now. Sorry.

It was a fun race. A family, mothers, strollers friendly vibe. There was a kids run, a 10k, and the 5k that we ran. The 10k and 5k had regular runner and people-pushing-a-stroller divisions. The 10k took off at 10am — a daylight-savings-started-today friendly time — and 5k at 10:05am. What made it extra special was two families from our girls’ school, and other friends being there — it’s great to see families out together, and you can’t beat exercising as a family.

The start wasn’t a ton of fun, but that’s Vasona Lake for you; I’ll come back to Vasona Lake later. Lots of kids running like crazy, then stopping, tying shoelaces, waiting for Dad, and generally trying to get themselves hurt by fast moving “running back”-like guys like me. Anyway, survived that, and had a fun race on a meandering course.

The Jenny's Light 5k race at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos, CA
The Jenny’s Light 5k race at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos, CA

Super well organized race. It started on time, no problems with the timing and awards, and the friendly vibe flowed through. I’ll run this one next year, and hopefully for many years to come.

As to a time, well, I came seventh overall in 21:46. I wasn’t feeling the best with a slight cold, and just never quite got in the groove. Still, I was happy with the result, and I’m looking forward to Buenos Aires next week — a 10k through the streets of Argentina’s capital!

Selina and I are ready to run the Jenny's Light 5k
Selina and I are ready to run the Jenny’s Light 5k

Running Races at Vasona Lake

Races at Vasona Lake in Los Gatos tend to meander. It’s a beautiful place to be, but its designers clearly weren’t thinking about 5k racers when they laid the trails. I reckon I’ve run around ten races at Vasona, and everyone’s been different — and they all involve lots of corners, doubling back, and generally running a snaking trail.

Which reminds me of the worst race I’ve run. It was at Vasona Lake, and maybe in 2012, and was a “first annual *something* race”. (Pro tip: don’t sign up to run in the first annual anything.)  There were no course markers, and no marshals on the course. I’m moderately confident that the leader of each pack of runners ran a different course, leading to maybe ten different races being run. I crossed the line in a suspiciously slow 25 minutes. Several slower looking people had been over the line for 10 minutes, and several faster looking people crossed the line at the 30 minute mark. I’m mellow about that king of thing. Several people weren’t. Chaos ensued.  Anyway, got a nice t-shirt.

Well, that’s race #9 in the books. I hope you’ll join in supporting my fundraiser for the GBS/CIDP Foundation, and follow my journey to 52 races in 52 weeks.


Race 8: Brazen Racing Hellyer County Park 10k

We started this fundraiser seventeen days ago, and fifty-three people have helped us reach $6,150 for the GBS/CIDP Foundation.

Working up a small hill at the Hellyer 10k
Working up a small hill at the Hellyer 10k

It’s an amazing start and they’re amazing people — but we’ve still got a long way to go to get to our goal of $52,000 in 2015. I’d be thrilled if you’d join in donating — just head over to and then give us a Like over at

Race medals and bibs. The Hellyer bib is in the middle at the top, number 2862.
Race medals and bibs. The Hellyer bib is in the middle at the top, number 2862.

Today’s race was the Brazen Racing Hellyer 10k. It was time to step up from the 5ks to a 10k, and see what we could do. It turns out that the 10k distance is pretty competitive — I came 21st overall with a time of 46:46, and that only got me 5th place in my age group. My speedy wife Selina came 1st in her age group, and 5th overall in the women’s division.

The Hellyer 10k. A lap around the lake, and then an out-and-back on the paved trail
The Hellyer 10k. A lap around the lake, and then an out-and-back on the paved trail

While Brazen Racing is best known for their trail runs, this was a flat and fast run on a shared walking and cycling paved trail. The race starts with a lap around a small lake, and then it’s an out-and-back on the paved trail for the remaining five miles. The last mile and half was a little crazy — I was cranking along passing tens of the 5k runners who were mid-pack, and dodging hundreds of the back-of-the-pack 5k runners coming the other way. Kind of like playing chicken, except I weigh more than a chicken and I’m racing like a NASCAR truck.

All up, a fun race and it felt good. I can’t decide whether or not to race tomorrow. Let’s see how the legs feel in the morning.

I’ll update the post with photos when they’re published.



Race 7: Mardi Gras Madness 5k

Cruising across the line
Cruising across the line

I felt blessed to be out running today. It must have been 60 degrees at race time, with a light breeze, and on its way to a low 70s day in the Bay Area. I feel doubly-blessed to be running with my family and for a great cause: the GBS/CIDP Foundation. As always, I encourage you to like my Facebook page at, and donate over at IndieGoGo.

Rosie, Lucy, and Selina ready to race the Mardi Gras Madness 5k
Rosie, Lucy, and Selina ready to race the Mardi Gras Madness 5k

After yesterday’s crazy time of 20:15 for a 5k, I took it a whole lot easier today. My left calf has a knot in it, my quads were tight, and I had to take a few deep breaths as I warmed up with a yoga-inspired downward dog. I probably should have stretched, rolled, and drank less champagne last night — you’d think I’d have learnt by now.

New shoes, old shoes: ready to race the Mardi Gras Madness 5k in San Jose
New shoes, old shoes: ready to race the Mardi Gras Madness 5k in San Jose

The Mardi Gras Madness 5k is a well-organized, small, local event that has a small town, happy crowd feel. There were around 150 folks at the race, and no-one was looking too fast or competitive at the start line. I ran with my youngest daughter Rosie, who’s nearly 11, and let her set the pace. My wife Selina took off with the leaders, and my eldest daughter Lucy ran in the middle of the pack.

I ran a 27:05, and enjoyed the streetscape, parks, and ambling along in the middle of the pack. Selina won the women’s and was fourth overall. The girls did great, running with the family is pretty special. Cool t-shirt, nice medal, and a good time had by all.

See you next week for race #8.

Race 6: The UjENA Double 5k

It’s been an amazing week. I’m blessed to have so many friends and colleagues supporting my fundraiser for the GBS/CIDP Foundation. As of this morning, we’re at $5,124 raised on our way to the $52,000 goal. Please like my Facebook page at, and donate over at IndieGoGo.

Working as hard as I can -- just after crossing the finish line
Working as hard as I can — just after crossing the finish line

This morning I ran the UjENA Fit Club Double 5k race in San Jose. It’s a new concept in running: run part of the race, take a “half time” break, and run the rest of the race. In the case of this 5k, it’s a 3k race, an hour break, and a 2k race. You sum the times from both races to get your overall time.

Getting ready for the start of the UjENA Fit Double 5k in San Jose
Getting ready for the start of the UjENA Fit Double 5k in San Jose

I ran the Double 15k race last year at the same location. Afterwards I decided this wasn’t the greatest new concept in road racing. It’s tough to stop running for an hour and start again: the legs seize up and you don’t feel great on the second leg. It’s boring to stand around for an hour waiting for something to happen. Throw in that it was badly organized, and it didn’t make for a fun day. I mean, what’s the point?

So, why run it again? Well, I promised if we raised $5,000 by midnight last night, I’d run two races this weekend. And there wasn’t any other nearby race to run. So, Double 5k it was.

The good news was I cranked it out. I ran the first 3k in 11:58 and the second 2k in 8:16. They gave me a 20:15 for the 5k total. By far the fastest I’ve run 5k since I started racing or timing myself. I don’t know whether it really counts — having a one hour break makes it rather non-standard. On the one hand, you could argue taking a rest break is an unfair advantage. On the other hand, you could argue it’s a handicap and I would have gone faster without it. Who knows. In any case, it’s the fastest I’ve run a Double 5k (and, er, the only time).

Got a slight calf tweak in the last quarter mile. Another good indication that it’s not a great idea to have a “half time” in a running race. Hopefully, I’ll be ok for the race tomorrow — the whole family is running with me in the Mardi Gras Madness 5k in San Jose. See you then.


Race 5: Bay Breeze 5k

I’m 9.6% of the way through 52 races in 2015. Only 5.3% of the way through the fundraising for the work of the GBS/CIDP Foundation — but that’s only the first week! I know it’s hard to find time and that you want to donate — so please help me out. And give me a Like over at

Running the Bay Breeze 5k. A gorgeous day for a race in San Leandro, right on the San Fran Bay.
Running the Bay Breeze 5k. A gorgeous day for a race in San Leandro, right on the San Fran Bay.

I ran race 1 in 21 minutes, 32 seconds. Race 2 in 21:21. Race 3 in 21:06. For a 5’9″ guy who’s 45 and who has legs like tree trunks, I’m moving. Kind of like the NASCAR truck series.

Race 5 was the Brazen Bay Breeze, a flat and fast course. Beautiful day by the Bay. Not a cloud. Not a breeze (false advertising I guess).  Great crowd — hundreds of runners in the 5k. I was ready, so was Selina. It was Valentines Day, and every couple at least starts Valentines Day happy. You get the setup — this is going to a fast time, right? (By the way, the girl who sells us flowers at the Farmer’s Market works in the service industry — she says over her years working in restaurants, she sees more couples arguing over dinner on Valentines Day than any other day of the year.)

Oh sorry. Anyway, I ran 31 minutes, 37 seconds. About 10 minutes slower than the first four races of the year. I wasn’t actually supposed to be running — the doctor said no strenuous exercise for a week. I had surgery on Monday — so it was more of a shuffle than a run. I recommend it — running slow, not surgery — it’s nice to smell the roses, look around at the beautiful Bay Area, chat while you run, and have no pressure to get faster.  Don’t tell my doctor. I’ll be faster next week.

Crossing the finish line in a blistering time of 31 minutes and change.
Crossing the finish line in a blistering time of 31 minutes and change.

The race was one of the Brazen Racing series. These guys put on a great show — packet pickup is fast, the races start on time, the courses are marked carefully, they take *free* photos, they have the best medals in the business, and the food afterwards is amazing. Most of their races are hard, in state parks on trails, and with climbs that burn your legs. This race wasn’t like that, it’s probably their flattest and fastest, and their most urban and accessible to everyone. Throw in Valentines Day, and you get a crowd of thousands running the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon.

Starting the 5k at the Brazen Bay Breeze
Starting the 5k at the Brazen Bay Breeze

Oh, what was the surgery? if you donate $100 and ask me, I’ll tell you 🙂

Several amazing people donated to my campaign this week. Thank you to (in order of donation): Nate Lyman, Luis Gaitan (best limo service in the Bay Area),  Prathibha Alam, Jay Weiler, Katy Chu, Antoine El Daher, Mike Mathieson, Angela Lau, Oliver Hurst-Hiller, Brian Johnson, Wilson Pang, Gene Cook, and Matt Madrigal. You guys are amazing.

Please donate — help people who are debilitated by GBS and its related conditions. It’s a great cause. See you next time.