Smooth Flow


Beer is good. And when I was trying to come up for a new blog name I thought “smooth flow” fit the bill, though, admittedly, beer was not the inspiration for the name. From a Google search I learned that smooth flow (also known as cream flow, nitrokeg, or just smooth) is the name brewers give to draught beers pressurised with a partial nitrogen gas blend (source: wikipedia). So that’s great, ’cause I enjoy a smooth, flowing brew from time to time.

Late in endurance events, when the shine’s worn off, and I’m just tryin’ to hold myself together, I often will concentrate on a word or phrase to keep me centered and motivated. So, years ago, I was in a triathlon, just dying on a hot run. I found myself dwelling on smooth. Be smooth. Flow. Flow like water. Smooth. Flow. Smooth.. Flow… Smooth flow.


Smooth is important in endurance events because in order to be smooth we must have put some forethought into how we want things to unfold. Think Ocean’s 11. We must see it before we do it. Then, when we arrive to the transition in triathlon or the aid station in an ultra-run, we move through it calm, cool, and collected. There is no dilly dallying. We’re smooth. We stay in the flow >>>

Now, flow on the other hand. Man, that’s a word. A gem. One of the most significant reads of my life came to me in graduate school, when over the course of a semester the same book popped up in three different classes. The author’s name is a mouthful, but Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience changed the way I looked at the world. Read the book sometime and you’ll connect with many things like I did, such as:

“Attention is like energy in that without it no work can be done, and in doing work is dissipated. We create ourselves by how we use this energy. Memories, thoughts and feelings are all shaped by how we use it. And it is an energy under control, to do with as we please; hence attention is our most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience.”

Now, as I look ahead at a fresh, new season of ultra-running, I’m reminded that a flow state of mind cannot be forced. But, I try to create the conditions for smoothflow by arriving to my key workouts ready to be patient, present, and positive. I can also use technology in creative ways to encourage flow state. Do you remember the last long effort where time just seemed to vanish, you had a strong sense of well being, felt powerful, fiercely alive? What were the conditions that encouraged that flow experience?

So a new year, a new website. I needed it. Originally, I had a personal blog, which I’ve come to despise for its lack of functionality. Then, I created a coaching site. Then, I couldn’t really find time to post on either (another monkey on my back). So, this site is an attempt at a harmonious marriage of the two. I’ll share personal accounts on events and the like, as well as more didactic posts for athletes I coach. Learning and teaching go hand in hand.

The site will serve as another tool I can direct friends and athletes to when they’re looking for a new podcast to listen to, or an interesting blog to follow, or a race to sign up for, etc. Consider it a resource. I’ve transfered all my old posts from each site into this one. Use the search feature to find something specific (maybe it’ll be there!). The blog component, of course, gives me a forum to scratch my itch for writing, even though, like racing, sometimes I take a wrong turn, or, wander around in circles, whatever the case may be. Thanks for visiting and for reading. Stay in the flow.

Cover of
New skills to meet new challenges! Shebest says read it.

Golden Gate 50k + SF Running Co. Visit

“It’s not the age baby, it’s the miles.” -Indiana Jones

Today’s Golden Gate 50k served me up a nice bowl of mental toughness training. So, two weeks of struggling to get over 6th Grade Teacher Funk culminated with 31 miles of stumbling toward today’s finish line at Rodeo Beach. Happy to not have gotten off course, a beautiful Bay Area day, gorgeous trails, and a first place finish (it wasn’t exactly a North Face 50mi field). We went off with the 30k runners so I wasn’t even sure I won it until the finish, and not really then–these are more training races than anything. I was content just to sit down, have some soup, and let the results come to me. Someone megaphoned that the first place 50k runner had taken 30min off the course record! Wow, I thought, I was way behind that today. Anyway, we got a good laugh out of it since it turned out the initial 50k results had a runner from some other distance (there’s four races goin’ on–hard to keep track).

Once they figured out that first place didn’t actually average 6:40/mi on a 31mile course with 6500′ of gain, yours truly slipped in the highly coveted top position. I got my beverage coaster, limped the mile back to my car, and drove up the road to visit with more of my ultra-running brethren at San Francisco Running Company.

Good to see Brett & Larissa Rivers, and Jorge Maravilla at SFRC. I picked up a t-shirt and my fave NF shorts. Their shop is sweet, right off the 101, with great trails right out their door. This will quickly evolve to be the next Rogue Valley Runners, serving up fresh new talent daily. Stop by the next time you’re in Marin and/or go for a run with ’em! I’m gonna try and get down for something longish over my spring break. 



Congrats to Sonoma County’s Jady Palko and Suzanna Bon, top finishers today. And congrats as well to all the runners that made up today’s largest Golden Gate 50 & 30k fields. Finally, thanks to The Black Keys for providing moral support today via my, shall we call it, “shuffle.” 

2013: Take a Flying Leap >>>

fish bowl

Happy New Year! I hope this post finds you healthy and excited for things to come. Please contact me if you’re interested in triathlon or running coaching this year. I currently have the bandwidth for a few more folks. In 2012, we enjoyed a ton of success, on and off the race-course. We also continue to learn a lot about metabolic efficiency training, and how to best integrate it into an athlete’s lifestyle to encourage optimum athletic performance. The body and mind only learn what we teach it!

Point Positive athletes continue to push the limits, in distance as well as establishing personal bests across the triathlon and ultra-running spectrum. I know just in two years, I’ve taken almost two full hours off my North Face Endurance Challenge 50mi run time, while enjoying personal bests at many events, including Wildflower, Vineman 70.3, and Full Vineman triathlons. In 2013, I’m going back to my favorite event of all time:  the Tahoe Rim Trail 100mi run. I have faith I can take an hour or more off my best time there, while on a fun and challenging adventure in self-discovery.
We’re never defined by our results but how we live our lives. Sport brings much peace, joy, and happiness, which naturally spills over into all our other life roles. I look forward to maintaining–and creating a few more–cool connections with more awesome humans in the coming year.
Take it from me:  being consistent and flexible with an effective training plan goes a long, long way toward achieving what you know is inside of you. So muster the will to take that flying leap of faith, and simply believe in your ability to improve. The greatest contest is always with ourselves.
It’s all in front of us; let’s go chase it down >>>

Bob Shebest, M.A. / USAT Level I Certified Coach
Point Positive Coaching
707.331.0571 (c)

“He knew that it made everyone perfectly equal, and that the treasures of the earth were movement, courage, laughter, and love.”  -from “Winter’s Tale” by Mark Helprin

Rodeo Valley 50k – Coastal Trail Runs

Well, sometimes you just gotta get after it a little bit. At the Rodeo Valley start this morning I was psyched to get goin’ at 8:30 from the picturesque beach with a solid field of 50k and 30k runners. I was hoping to run the hilly course at about 8min/mi, giver ‘r take. It wasn’t a problem finding motivation, or a rabbit because one manifesting himself as smilin’ Jorge Maravilla, who’s been blazin’ the ultra-running scene for quite sometime now, showed up to throw down. I got about 9mi on the Maravilla Express before the conductor found out I didn’t have a ticket.

Photo compliments of Rick Gaston!

I figured I’d sit on the nice average pace I’d established, keep the cadence up, run smooth, and flow to the finish. Then I took a wrong turn, with another dude. It wasn ‘t so bad ’cause 1.) I got to see my Windsor neighbors, Julie and Greg Yaeger (again) and 2.) I ran into Victor Ballesteros of Victory Sport Design. Victor’s a seasoned ultra-runner and completed the entire Tahoe Rim Trail around Lake Tahoe in 2012. We finished up the “pink loop” and were headed out for round two of pink, when, climbing up from Rodeo, I was feelin’ like I had a shopping bag around my face. Suffering’s good; suffocation not so. I watched Victor motor away, makin’ it look easy.

With Victor Ballesteros – Photo compliments of Rick Gaston!

I then ran a few yards passed a turn at “Hill 88.” I ran back down, saw the turn I was supposed to take and went barreling down the trail, all the way down, to the bottom (see Strava map below) in the wrong direction (insult to injury). Anyway, I was zapped and since having a respectable North Face 50mi just a few weeks back, I wasn’t upset in the least. “Yeah, it’s okay to be done. It’s not 2013 yet. I reset my Garmin about 23mi in, took my number off and started up the mile climb back to the point where I’d gotten off course. It was then clear which way I should have gone. I’m good at a few things, but d*mn, navigation is surely not anywhere on that list. Something I’ll really need to focus on. Either improve focus, or don’t get dropped. Two sets of eyes are better than one!

I’m dwelling on all the positives that happened today, like, for instance, I dropped my bottle early when running and bounding with another dude chasing Jorge. The guy actually went back and got it for me. That’s good stuff right there. Thanks bro, good karma for you in the 2013!!!

Here’s the fancy Strava data from the portion of the 50k I raced today:

Today’s effort finished up my goal of completing the iRunFar Holiday 50mi Challenge. I think I’m going to continue using Strava, only for running. It’s a bit more work since, when incorporating Strava into the mix, I’m using three online tools: Workout Log, Garmin Connect, and Strava. Anyway, I dig the connections to other ultra-runners that Strava creates. It’s fun, and motivating!

Now, my sweet nurse, Amanda, just walked through the door from her day-shift. Time to relax and enjoy a DiGiorno pizza (it’s not delivery), a few “Snow Day” winter Ales from New Belgium Brewing, and the made-for-tv movie…


‘Tis the Season…

…to be running… and finding time to squeeze in an annual blog post…  😀

Man oh man, The North Face Endurance Challenge back on 12/1 got my ultra-running juices flowin’ once more. What a wet-n-wild ride! That rough-n-tumbler went well, all things considered. Recovery’s been good. We’re enjoying our new place just 10mi up the road from where we were in Santa Rosa. Now getting in some good morning spin classes at local Airport Club to supplement the running. Can’t say it’s not especially splendid living a stone’s throw from work either. Less time traveling to-n-fro means more quality time doing the things I love; namely hangin’ out on the couch with the bulldog!

Living in Windsor puts me about mid-way (give-or-take) between some of the best running Sonoma County has to offer, namely Annadel/Hood/Sugarloaf to the south and Lake Sonoma to the north. Local parks at Foothill and Shiloh scratch the trail-running itch throughout the week. It’s been pretty cool getting to run with lots of local folks these past few months.

Leigh Schmitt–North Face ultra-runner, fellow pedagogue, and H-Burg resident–and I have gotten to picturesque Lake Sonoma for some fabulous long runs. Today’s, in fact, ranks as the most epic I’ve ever done. I’ve basically signed up to be Leigh’s punching bag during his build to HURT 100 in Hawaii next month. Today, as I found myself underwater and/or being swept downstream on at least three occasions, grasping at low-hanging tree limbs and generally scrambling to stay with Leigh, I was totally diggin’ the adventure, even if it did take six months off my life-expectancy.

Yeah, so too bad for me that the iRunFar 50mi Holiday Challenge on Strava starts tomorrow, ’cause I’m beat to s*nta from today’s effort and pretty much feel like I should join some other challenge more suitable to my current state of being, like the iSleepLots 24hr Holiday Slumber, starting… now.

Happy Holidays!! 

Wildflower 2012

I give thanks for this world as a place to learn and for this human body that I’m glad to have earned.” -Adam Yauch (August 5, 1964 – May 4, 2012), from the B-Boys song, Bodhisattva Vow

Out there on that blasted speed machine, clawin’ for minutes yesterday, tryin’ my darndest to knock some time off of last year’s performance. 2011 was my Wildflower debut and also my first tri back in a long while, so it wasn’t too terribly hard to improve this year over last. But, I’m pretty sure my swim and bike are indeed more solid than last year this time. So, things are going according to plan. Now, if I can keep this body holding together. It’s starting to be more and more like getting the Millennium Falcon to make the jump to light-speed; sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not.

One thing’s for sure: doing HITS Napa Valley a few weeks back really helped me believe I could work considerably harder on the bike and still be able to have an effective run. It’s always a gamble. But with these B-priority half-IMs, rolling the dice a bit, is how I’m going to keep growing as an athlete. I like to sometimes dwell on these impactful words from T.S. Eliot, “Only those who risk going too far, find out how far they can go.” Yeah sure, sometimes I go to extremes, but h*ll, you only live once. So, with Beastie Boys lyrics in my head, I rode hard through the field in charactistic low-swimmer fashion >>> “mowin’ down MCs like I’m mowin’ the lawn.”

Chart: top row 2011 / bottom row 2012 [click to expand]– a 3% improvement over last year, in both my time and age-group results. Realistically, I really can’t ask for more than that!

And here’s my race-week training leading into Saturday, along with some race notes. Now, back to some more food that’s not good for me. Carpe diem!! ;D

Soar Luminous

“Charlie Brown” [from Mylo Xyloto; the new album]

Wooh, ooh ooh ooh / Stole a key / Took a car downtown where the lost boys meet / Took a car downtown and took what they offered me / To set me free / I saw the lights go down at the end of the scene / I saw the lights go down and they’re standing in front of me / Wooh, ooh ooh ooh / And my scarecrow dreams / When they smashed my heart into smithereens / Be a bright red rose come bursting the concrete / Be a cartoon heart / Light a fire, a fire, a spark / Light a fire, a flame in my heart / We’ll run wild / We’ll be glowing in the dark / Wooh, ooh ooh ooh / We’ll be glowing in the dark / All the boys, all the girls / All that matters in the world / All the boys, all the girls / All the madness that occurs / All the highs, all the lows / As the room is spinning goes / We’ll run riot / We’ll be glowing in the dark / Wooh, ooh ooh ooh / So we soar luminous and wired / We’ll be glowing in the dark /

Here’s how training shaped up this week. The Wildflower Long-Course Triathlon now a week out. The objective is to absorb the last race, sharpen a bit, and come in to the next one fresh. I’ve got a good feeling about Wildflower. I’d like to crack the top-25 overall. We’ll see…


“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” -Ernest Hemingway

Racing at HITS last weekend was a blast and gave me some answers on where my fitness was. And this week really showed me that the ability to recover is as good of indicator of fitness. Bouncing back from hard efforts is key. With four half-ironmans leading up to the Full Vineman in late July, I’m looking to race a little better each time I toe the line at each of these 70.3 distance events. The idea being, that the speed from half-ironman will carry over into a faster Ironman. That’s the theory at least. And, above all, I just want to have a blast with the training and racing and see if I can catch some folks on the run!

How about that heat? What a delight!! I marvel at what great weather does for motivation. It has a powerful affect on me. Friday, the hills were calling and I got to do one of my favorite things: climb Pine Flat on a hot day. And even better, descend Pine Flat for 16min with the warm air wooshing by. Then, it was a nice, hilly, hard group-ride out of Echelon. Surely, if endurance sports would have been around for Hemingway, and even Valley of the Moon’s Jack London, they would have met with a contentment that can only be referred to as happiness. I think these guys, two of my heroes, spent too much time in their heads. I think they would have liked a nice, hard climb out on King Ridge. I think it would suit them nicely. But who’s to say?

Still finding a balance with regards to keeping the good fuel coming in. After Saturday’s ride, all bets were off and the Di’Gorno pizza (with a tomato and two avocados) was on!! Good food is good but sometimes it’s all about quantity. Recovery was good and subsequently, I was able to have a strong Sunday swim. Monday’s diet again looks pretty healthy!

HITS Napa Valley – Race Report

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” -Emerson

The first edition of the HITS Napa Valley Triathlon was, from my point of view, basically successful. Hopefully, HITS will thoughtfully listen to and be responsive with participant feedback. In its current form, it doesn’t yet live up to the hype, nor is it truly worth the price of admission.

But, for me, racing is the reason for the season. And I was shooting for a top-3 at HITS. Race morning I was excited to see Ted Simpkins there. Ted’s a powerful athlete who puts a ton of time into me on the swim and bike. So, he makes a great rabbit once I get to the run. Except, I’ve never been able to catch him in the two opportunities I’ve had in the half-iron distance. But, it’s a heckuvalot of fun to chase!

The swim both days at HITS was a bit long; it seems the turn-buoy over in Berryessa is susceptible to wind being dragged across into the deeper section of the the lake (river bed). So, our time in the 53deg was not too terribly unpleasant other than being a little long.

The bike course is dynamic and fun. Getting my ultra-course legs to fire outta the swim was, as typical, a challenge. At almost 38, I wouldn’t suspect I have any fast-twitch muscle fibers left. My legs are like a bulldog, they go when they want to. Anyway, the bike course rocks and after about 30mi, the sun started coming out and I was up over Howell Mountain and making a charge for the bike finish. The bike course had about 5000′ of cumulative gain. Pretty good prep for both Wildflower and Auburn coming up here soon!

As is characteristic, I was pretty darn happy to hit the run and go hunting. I think I came off the bike in 5th place and was confident my run would be solid. Quick steps and feeling goooood >>>

I picked off a few guys early and moved into 3rd. The run course is a 6.5mi out-n-back. A few miles from the turn-around, Ted came cruising back and told me 2nd place was just up ahead and looking rough. He also told me that he was 24min in front of me. So, deflated I had no chance of catching 1st in 8 miles, I kept on >>>

Moving into 2nd I hit the turn-around and saw that Reno’s Eliot Drake was about 3min back and closing. Alright! I thought, we have a race for 2nd. So, I took a 50mg Mocha Clif Shot, hit my Garmin for the half split and dropped it down to 5:40 pace for about a mile and a half. Looking back I didn’t see Eliot any more so I settled in and concentrated on my average pace coming home, which turned out to be 6:20pace (a nice negative split since I averaged 6:40 on the rolling course going out). There was only 1200′ of cumulative gain on this quite beautiful run course.

Anyway, a good first-of-four half-ironmans this year, as I continue to build toward a peak performance at Full Vineman in July. Please see below for my race-week training log, along with more details on the race itself.

Wrapping up, it’s always a big thrill for me too, to be out on the course with athletes I coach. Nick Abbott, coming off his recent Oakland Marathon, had a strong race at HITS. Bill Severi and Doug Wilson also had solid performances as they build to their summer Ironmans. Good showing fellas! And great to be out there workin’ hard with you!!

“Today is a 5.0”

“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” -John Wooden

The Sacramento Bee newspaper did an article on my father-in-law, Stan Harms, whose 1985 boy’s basketball team won the state championship. Since my UConn Huskies are out of the running, I was happy to follow hoops for a while longer, since Coach Harms was revisiting his glory days. I just thought it was cool that he wore the Ironman polo we brought him back from Kona last October to the SacBee interview. Epic!!

Sacramento Bee article on Coach Harms ’85 State Title

Wrapping up my spring break training week today. I’ve been keeping better logs this week since I’ve had the extra time (and energy), so check out my workout log below. I post it primarily for the benefit of the athletes I coach, as a way to model my own training process. Glean for yourself what you find interesting and/or fun. Then, make it your own. As I learned in college: good teachers steal [ideas] liberally.

I just got some new batteries for an old Polar heart-rate monitor I had squirreled away in a closet. I’m now using it upon waking to measure my waking pulse. I usually plan to hit the snooze button as least once in the morning. So, at the first alarm, I’ll just put on the heart-rate monitor strap and go back to bed. What better way to get an accurate reading of waking pulse?

So, this weekend turned out to be a bit of a wash on the bike. So, I just set myself up some swims and runs. Looking at a resting HR this morning of 42, I know I’m absorbing training because I’m getting good sleep. As I filled out my Health Log (inside my online workout log, I noticed something else cool today: the other data also suggested I’m doin’ okay. On a scale of 1-5, 5 is the best. I listed sleep a 5. Fatigue got a 5, Soreness 5, and Stress also, without any hesitation today, got a 5.

Heart-rate’s looking good, weight’s back up after dipping a bit with new “fat-adapting” (Ben Greenfield) diet. After I hit Enter, the Health Log told me “Today is a 5.0.” Dumbfounded, I realized this had not happened all year and probably won’t until school’s out again in June. But boy oh boy, does it feel good today. Today is a 5.0. Wow…

Here’s my spring break triathlon training week. Just click on the pics to make ’em bigger.

PS: Good job Crowie busting 8hrs at inaugural Ironman Melbourne. Boo-YAH!! Whattiya think o’ that Macca?!? ;D

PPS: Be sure to check out some of my meal pics below. Trying to put the best fuel possible into my engine.

And a special guest appearance by your friendly neighborhood bulldog…

RUBY (aka: the unofficial Folsom Bulldog mascot)