photo: Luis Escobar

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Born To Run

On May 14th at East Creek Ranch in Los Olivos Luis Escobar hosted the inaugural Born To Run Race. Distances included 10, 31, 62 and 100 miles.  The course can be described as rolling fire roads and single track through a working cattle ranch of around 8000 acres and is 100% runnable on 100% dirt.  This weekend also marked a new beginning for my involvement in running because instead of toeing the line I volunteered.  Overall the run was an overwhelming success (for those who didn't DNF) and for me a great learning experience.  This is the account of a runners perspective and now a first time volunteer experience (note: I said first time, not only time volunteering...semantics or not I will volunteer again).  This time, I was going to be First Aid Guy!

First Night:

Early Friday evening the Honda minivan was loaded and dinner complete.  My kids were finished with dinner and bath time and set for bed.  I said goodbye and headed south to Los Olivos.  The drive time was a short 50 minutes and pulling into the ranch was like a step back in time.  My previous experience with one of Luis' runs was this past November for the Red Rock 40 where the run was fairly remote and camping was the best option.  In November about 35 to 50 people camped out.  It is what I somewhat expected, ya know a low key, love to run, runners for runners camp time. Coming down the hill I could sparsely see the actual number of people.  Pulling in to the left and looking around I found Thomas and Benjamin hanging out by a little fire.  Good thing too because there was at least 300 people there.  Runners with families and loved ones were scattered along a couple flat spots along the road to the start finish line.  This is where I found Lou.  He gave me a spot and so I parked the van and set up for tomorrow.  Jeepers there were a lot of people.  All kinds of barefoot people, kind of like a renaissance fair without the idiots fighting with sticks.  Hay bales, fires, some buzzed people, various food stuff, a lot of laughter and great stories that were typically run related.  My time was short for the  evening festivities.  Ultimately I spoke to those who I knew, took a shot of Yeagermeister with Thomas and then went to bed.  It was fairly noisy at first and then Lou put everyone to bed.  He got on the microphone and told everyone to go to bed.  At this point I can only guess that the time was about 10pm.  A short evening was fine, tomorrow is going to be long.


4:50am.  Music fills the cool, moist air and then Lou once again gets on the mic and tells everyone to get up.  Country music followed the announcement and kept everyone awake....I am sure of it.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Chamberlins heard it.  I stayed in the van as long as I could and then I just had to get up and go pee.  TMI? too bad.  Coffee, coffee, coffee....OH YEAH!!!! coffee.  Kept that shit rolling all morning.  Never too much coffee, until you get heart palpitations.  I digress.  The morning time went by pretty quick.  This is when I noticed I wasn't running.  No need to eat right away, no worries about porta-pottie lines.  Just relax and do whatever is asked of me.  Luis was checking people in and other people were getting their perspective jobs done.  So I set up the first aid area and then waited.   I snapped a few pictures here and there.  Then it was time to get going.

The Start:

At around six, or a few minutes before start time, I started walking down the road in the direction which I hoped everyone would be running.  I made it a half mile down the road and I could still hear Lou giving the instructions like he was standing next to me.  Then the countdown and 'bang' Mr. Chamberlin got the event going with the advice to follow the "tittie pink ribbon" and a single shot from his shotgun.  Yes, he was walking around with a shot gun.  Did he look out of place?  No! Not really, not at all.  Luis was in a chicken suit, Chris Scott was in a cow suit, some guy (Jacob) was in a dress, Tim had sweats and a cowboy hat, a dude with a propeller hat and a bunch of normal ultrarunner looking people, so a guy in jeans and a flannel shirt walking with around with a shotgun actually seemed kind of normal.  I could hear the yelling and pretty soon they were coming in waves.  I had brought my camera to try and take some pictures.  It was dark for six in the morning, the clouds were gray and we were in a small canyon so the light level was limited.


(I can't figure out how to arrange these photos, so they are how they are)
This is the reason I couldn't take very many photos with my auto-granny cam and some of the ones I did get were out of focus.  The damn thing just wouldn't go.   Whatever I am going to post as many as I can.  After the nearly 130 runners passed I made my way back to camp.

The Barefoot Effect:

This event is very special in that it hosted a barefoot or very minimalist shoe category.  I have to think that is why there was the 10 mile category.  The course is on dirt, ranch type service roads.  In other words they were sun hardened and covered in loose pebbles and embedded with rocks.  Really NOT comfortable to run on and the barefoot  running  was more like barefoot walking.   A lot of people were wearing sandal type shoes.  Some crazy dude even went 62 miles in them.  Seriously, I am friken impressed as hell on that one.  Not to be out done, except he definitely was, Mauricio ran the ENTIRE 50 kilometers sans shoes, sandals or even socks.  The dude went with what he was born with.  In the end, or after he finished his 30 miles, he smiled and went about his business.  What a cool cat!!!  As far as 100K sandal man, I am also very impressed.  Your feet are going to hurt after running 62 miles on almost any surface with shoes on, this guy put only 5mm to 10mm of material between his feet and the hard pack and finished it.  Plus he provided the wake up music and I liked it so he's cool in my book.  Some of the other barefoot people sorta rubbed me the wrong way.  Typically I am not a shit talker:  when you scratch someones car you say sorry, if you want to be part of a conversation you work your way into it you don't friken interject your out of place thoughts on half information and you don't use other peoples events to schlep your shit.  Just sayin.'  I should say more because this is my phuqin blog.  Like I said he rubbed me the wrong way, came across as arrogant, self serving and a phuqin know-it-all.  What an ass-ho.

The barefoot aspect of the race brought to my attention that there are a lot of people out there trying to get into the au-natural.  I support it completely.  A really good book that I read on this is "The Barefoot Running Book" by Jason Robillard.  It is a fantastic book with a ton of drills and safe, stepwise directions to bring you into barefoot running slowly.  It was free from Running Warehouse (   So you don't end up in a boot with a stress fracture read as much information as you can before you forget your shoes.  On that note, some of the people using minimalist shoes or sandals probably shouldn't have.  The idea is to let your foot work naturally and efficiently, that just wasn't happening with everyone in minimal wear.  If you are going to go this way you need to do it right.  Get the book. 

Helping the Runners:

When I found out I didn't have to work this weekend I told Louis I would help him.  After an exchange of notes through facebook he told me to help with the start finish line aid station and be the first aid guy.  Perfect, I can do that, it will be just like work...only different.  I know what I like when I come into an aid station and I have taken note of the workers' demeanor and attitude while visiting aid stations.  So, all I have to do is keep smiling, tell each runner they look awesome and ask, "what do you want in your bottles?"  So that's what I did or I should say tried to do.

Tim Cullum at the table before it was raided!

The end of the 10 miler was sorta frantic.  People were finishing and crowding the start/ finish area and the others who were trying to continue their journey were struggling to get their bottles filled (one water jug & one sports drink jug), get marked and accounted for before heading out.  Actually, the busier it was, the more fun it was because I didn't have to struggle with my ADD.  Busy is kind of fun.  This went on for a while and then about every hour and a half to two hours there would be a string of runners coming through.  So this is what I did.  And drank coffee.  After a few hours my first hurt individual came in.  The persons problem isn't so different that what I hear from runners at my work.  I get information regarding an on going problem about a muscle that hurts when running but not otherwise so it is forgotten when the run is over and not ever dealt with.  So I helped this guy out as best as possible.  He eventually dropped.  That sucks, until I saw him pilfer a couple gu packets to take with him after he dropped.  What a dick.  If you toe the line, it is better to go at it a little out of shape and healthy than a little hurt and sorta in shape.

With regards to the types of injuries, it was really a reoccurring theme.  The day was cool so there weren't any heat related injuries.  One very minor blister problem.   I mostly saw muscle imbalance problems and I actually helped one guy finish with some muscle therapy work and another with a modified arch tape job.  Other than that, I helped out where I could.  Some of the time I read my book.  Lou made an announcement that I would do massages, which is true and I did for two people.  I think overall I helped about a dozen people.  I am glad it wasn't more which means that if I am working hard, that means people are hurt.

There wasn't a defining event, a special case or even an overly interesting case to mark my help with the aid station and first aid table.  A couple people had some pretty bad problems that had started long before they showed up to Born To Run.  I did try to help Benjamin Bruno.  He had a little stomach problem he couldn't shake.  He is a cool guy and I wish the best for him the rest of the season.  Too bad BTR didn't work for him.  Some of the most fun I had was with Thomas in the morning.  One great moment and a first for me was when the ice cream sandwiches were brought out.  Man o man!!! I couldn't resist.  Most couldn't!

Thomas and I were there to help support Luis.  Both of us have run in his events and Thomas was actually on the shirt and logo for Red Rock 40.  Luis is actually the reason why I get to run with Thomas.  So I should be really thankful for Luis because since I met him my running has improved a lot.  Anyway, Thomas and I talked about all kinds of stuff.  We had a good time watching the runners go by.  We would analyze their running mechanics (also known as gait pattern), noting footwear and body type.  we talked about which ice cream we liked best, education, Rinconada Trail, how slow of a runner I am.  We also chatted a lot about Tahoe Rim Trail run coming up in July and the training camp we are doing in early June.  I got some good pictures of Thomas in front of the barefoot poster. 

We were under the influence of a lot of coffee, or at least I was so I thought a ton of stuff was funnier than it actually was.  Like this poor dog that was trying to puke.  Poor guy looked like he got hammered last night. 

Ultimately we helped the runners as needed and watched.  Thomas had Dylan with him so he had to keep an eye out for him and ultimately needed to leave early because of him.  They left around noon or so and that ended my fun.

I tried to read my new book, "Relentless Forward Progress," so far it is a great book and also worth reading.  Mostly, as soon as the reading started someone else would need help so after a while I gave up on reading.  So that was it.  I smiled.  I filled bottles and I chatted to some people whenever the chance presented itself.  This went on for about 10 or so hours.

Chance of  a Lifetime:

At 60 miles in Guillermo Medina was having a little trouble and requested Luis to maybe find him a pacer for 70 miles to the finish.  Luis asked if anyone would be interested in pacing him on the next round .  No one was stepping forward.  The guy is going to be 70 miles into his run, how friken fast can he be going?  Really, no body came forward.  I was a little reserved because I ran Miwok last weekend...Then Lou asked if I would, so I said hell yeah!  At 6pm I was ready to go and waited.  Guillermo came through and decided to wait until mile 80 for a pacer.  Good thing, I had to shit.  TMI? too bad it is integral to this part,  then I had to go again.  Once more.  AND, are you friken kidding me.  What the hell was in the chicken noodle soup?!!!!?  Anyway, I tried to chill out and eventually continued my aid station duties in between running off to the outhouse (Don't worry, I used lots of hand sanitiser and rubbing alcohol). At 7:45 a wave of fatigue hit me so I went to my van to take a little rest.  At 8 or so Topher knocked on the van and said, "Guillermo is pretty wasted, you ready to go?"  I was, sorta, and the sweats came off as I tried to get myself together.  It was getting cold and the sky was getting dark.  The moon was three quarters full and provided some light.  That would be short lived.  We started moving away from camp...I was in it, I really wanted to do this,  I couldn't back out no matter what was happening with my gut.

The run was cool.  I asked him what he wanted.  He just didn't want to quit.  I couldn't help but laugh because I thought that was the main duty of a pacer.  He also requested a half hourly alarm so he could fuel and take an S Cap.  We took off slowly.  You have to feel for a person that has put in 80 miles.  His stomach was good, energy was up but his legs were hurting.  He had been dealing with a calf issue that considerably hacked away weekly miles.  This put him out of shape and his legs were feeling it.  I know his pain and the irony of us running together is fitting.  At the first aid station I saw Ethan, he looked shitty and I wish I could have helped him too.  I tried to give him some encouraging words.  He was fighting himself and he needed someone to push him. We didn't stop for anything, just looked and then kept moving.  Around three miles in my take home prize from last week came back to haunt me.  My IT band reminded me that this was recovery time.  Too late now.  We chatted about all kinds of stuff, running, life, injuries, soccer and his legs.  When it finally got dark enough we put on the headlamps.  His battery was dead, luckily he had another...aaaaand that battery was just about dead.  He put it on and we went.  I ran beside him and behind a little so he could benefit from my lite.  Eventually I just gave him mine and I used his and followed behind.  90 minutes in my stomach paid me an unwanted visit.  This is a nightmare!!!  I am supposed to be helping this guy and my knee hurts and I have stomach this point I feel like a total douche bag.  I caught up and we continued the journey.   We passed the last aid and then headed up the hill where he told me a great story how he was touring the property on his bike when a bull approached him.  He was trying to get off the ranch and he was forced to turn around and find another way.  Every time he would go forward, the bull would close the gap.  Scary deal and once again I can relate.  At the top we fell into a cool running rhythm and spoke very little.  The weather turned a beautiful night dark and it began to sprinkle.  Coming into the camp I told him I was embarrassed that I was broken and I my stomach had me doing the duck walk again.  He stayed at his camp spot and I went ahead to find another pacer.  Just my luck a guy was waiting at the start finish with Guillermos wife and that was it for me.  As he left for his last lap I thanked him for the opportunity...then he finished.  Congratulations Guillermo, you are a model for all dads, husbands and runners. 

I changed my clothes and the rain picked up a light but steady pace.  I stood under my little pop up tent and then said phuket, I am going to sleep, it was after 11 and I could feel a cold coming on. 

Clean up:

At 5:30 am I woke up for no apparent reason.  I needed way more sleep.  It just wasn't going to happen.  I got dressed and then started cleaning up my shit that no one really needed.  The I started helping Lou who was already hard at the process.  He, Tim and a few others pitched in to help.  Hell, even Micah, who had finished the 100 miler came and helped.  Once again we drank lots of coffee.  mmmmmm coffee!!!!!  Beverly came out and joined us too.  I am glad I had the chance to talk with her again.  Her and Lou are good people.  After the clean up was completed Lou was heading out to get some markers and other stuff from around the course.  He shook my hand and said thanks and "sorry I don't have anything for you."  Meaning no thank you gifts and honestly I did expect anything.  The experience was a lot.  I am not gona lie, I would have liked a shirt because they were bitchen...except he ran out.  So I left.  Went home and took a nap.

Lessons Learned:

1-  If you aren't ready to be a pacer, didn't plan on being a pacer, your stomach giving you troubles and your body isn't ready to run at least 20 miles.  Don't be a fukin pacer.  I am embarrassed and ashamed of myself for doing it and obviously it was hard to say no.

2-  Next year if I don't get into Miwok I will run the 100K.  If I do get into Miwok I will offer my services again.  Only this time do it on a more limited and defined basis.  I felt like it was too long and I also felt like I didn't do enough.  I hate that feeling.

3-  Next year advertise my pacing services for those in the 100 miler for the last thirty.  This way I will be expecting to do it and will eat and drink accordingly.  That is if I get into Miwok.

4-  Dont camp by the start/ finish line. 

5-  Bring a friend or wife and kids or someone who will give me entertainment for the whole time.

6-  Be ready for all day eating.  Having all that crap food sitting in front of my face is hard to resist.  OK impossible to resist and reaching into communal food bowls when you know there isn't running hot water for 5 miles is asking to get sick.  Hand sanitiser only works if you use it.

7-  Bring pitchers and my own water jugs to the next event, even if I am running it.  Two little five gallon jugs just don't do it well enough.  Hell, I may even bring my electric pumper next year.  AND!!! For sure I am bringing a sign that says first aid. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Miwok 2011

May 7, 2011
Miwok 100K will stand out as a very humbling experience and I learned 62 miles is a distance I clearly am not ready for.  Sitting here a little over 12 hours after the finish finding words to describe the experience is challenging.  Awesome, fun, exhilaration, difficult, mentally challenging and painful begin to describe the experience.  Some of the sections, most, are so beautiful I would consider making a trip up there just to run for a weekend.  The trails were in good shape, the weather was good (high 50's with a mellow breeze that picked up to a nasty one at sundown) and the people were outstanding.  In the end I clearly was not ready for 15 hours of movement, the climbs didn't bother me but the descents ruined my knee....and foot!

I stayed at the hostel at the Marin Headlands.  This is a 20 minute walk from the start.  There were a lot of runners there.  There were also a lot of girl scouts.  My room happened to be Redwood.  This is the room right next to women's restroom.  The main dormitory is upstairs, along with the women's restroom and of course the 30 or so tweenagers.  Luckily quiet time was 10:20pm and I am pretty sure I fell asleep before that.  I forgot to set my alarm so it really was a blessing to be put next to the bathroom.

I had 35 minutes to get ready and get moving so I arrived at the start with enough time to check in, drop off bags and do whatever else I needed to do.  I was frantic and tried to do everything in fast motion with only 6 or so hours of sleep.  I still got my usual breakfast in me without the coffee.  That was a bummer.  I cleared my room, organized the stuff and drove to another, closer park spot.  I didn't want to walk so I hitched a ride for the remaining mile.  I guess I am just lazy.

The start was cold, dark and crowded.  If a person didn't take care of business before arriving, you were gona stand in line for a while.  The chaos had a rhythm and it seemed as if a large part of the people had been there before so they new what to expect and better yet what to do.  I dropped of my drop bags put my number on my shorts and waited.  A wopping five minutes went by and then we were moving.  It was time.  A short and cold walk to the start for the 400 or so of us went easily and this is where I ran into Cody and Kristin.  hard not to see the big FLUID arm sleeves Cody had.  We chatted for the walk.  I broke off to go find Larissa and actually walked in front of everyone (aka the front runners, elite, fast peeps) to try find her to say 'Have Fun.' No luck, which is alright because shortly after that we were sent on our way.

The last instructions were, "..go to the lantern and head up..."  This turned out to be a fiasco.  400 people trying to get up a single track at about the same time.  Tchahahahaaa! Right!  Well then eventually we all got in line and kept moving.  The top is where I was able to put my stomach at rest.  A bathroom! Yeah, and while everyone was going to the perspective sexes, I chose to use the unused family closet.  When I got out, I was DFL.  Well, my stomach kept it's unease for the first two hours.  The first leg followed a paved road the top we dropped down along a manicured dirt type bike trail and from there worked our way back to the start along overgrown single track and roads.  Not before we passed by the restroom one more time, I had to get this off my mind.

I passed by the first aid station thinking I had enough water to make it to the next aid station.  The four plus mile section had us climbing up to a ridge line and moving along it until we dropped into Tennessee Valley.

There is a trail here.  Leaving Rodeo Lagoon to Tennessee Valley
 Half way there the last slurp of my water went down my throat.  i nervously asked the person in front of me if she new how far to go.  She didn't and right after I asked I remember seeing the friken trail sign a little ways back that said, 'Tennessee Valley 2.2 miles' that solves  that.  The weather was still reasonably cool and I wasn't worried about it.    I made it to the TV aid at 8:30.  Almost 3 hours to go 11 miles.  No bueno!  I kept repeating what Thomas had said to me earlier this week, "Take the first 40 miles easy, then if you have anything left, go!"  I kept my promise to him and kept my urge to get going suppressed.

Leaving TV aid I asked one of the very nice people how far to Pan Toll.  The reply was 9 miles.  So, I asked is it a long 9 or short.  He smiled and said, "Oh, it's a long one."  A few hundre yards down the road another volunteer directed us up.  Up we went, the climb wasn't too bad and went by reasonably quick.  Some boring fire road action and then tada, single track fun time!  This part was so awesome I took a movie of it.

This section started slow but ended nicely.  Some of the prettiest flowers and trees.  For a while there I thought I was trippin' on something.  Really felt weird.  Then it ended and we were back on fire roads.  This is where I started feeling a rock in my right shoe.  Piss!! I didn't wana stop.  I had to.  Shook my shoe brushed my sock and put the NB 101's back on.  Back on track and feeling good...wait...shit!  I thought the rock came out...I couldn't shake the dang thing while I was running.  Ya, know how you movve your foot around and try to get the rock anywhere but where it's causing a nasty hotspot or something, well it didn't work.  I waited until I got to Pan Toll.
Heading toward Pan Toll
Awesome, soft and fun single track

What a cluster fk Pan Toll was for me.  I couldn't out figure anything.  I kept trying to get the rock out of my shoe.  Finally, I gave up 10 minutes later and put on my Montrail Rogue Racers.  Hmmm feels good.  I loaded my pack, drank my Boost and headed out.  Looking back on PT Aid, the volunteers ran the place very efficiently, I should have taken advantage of that but I didn't.  Over all they were all freekishly kind and very willing to help out with anything.  I saw it in action and it was almost like taking advantage of someone who is always nice and smiling for no apparent reason.  If I had asked for help maybe I wouldn't have spent soooo so so so much time there.

From PT Aid to Bolinas Ridge can be described as a picturesque Sound of Music, grassy hillside single track goodie time mixed in with some fast shaded areas.  This is the part where the elite peoples put on the 6 minute pace and feel the wind going past their faces like they were hanging out a speeding car window.  I can just imagine.  This was a very runnable section and so I did to the best of my ability.  It was fun and I couldn't help but smile like an idiot.  I was singing and huming for a while too.  I think I scared some people.  A little while after leaving PT I caught up to Kristen and Cody.
Kristen and Cody heading to Bolinas Ridge
Kristen knee was bummin'.  Rightfully they were concerned about Tahoe Rim Trail 100m she is running in July.  I am too, so hopefully she takes my advice and gets into formal physical therapy.  We exchanged words for a couple minutes and then I left.  Kristen dropped at Bolinas Ridge.  The entire section seemed pretty mellow, unlike the first two where you were either going up or down.  This sectin moved quickly and was primarily single track.  This is also where the front runners, four of them, blazed by me.  Such a humbling experience, these guys are so friken fast, it really is fun to watch them go by.  Sporatically they would pass and we would move to the side to let them keep pace.  At this piont in the run I still felt really good and having them blaze past kept buggin me to go faster.  I would catch myself speeding up and then I kept hearing TR's words so I would slow to an overly comfortable pace.  On this section I think I was doing a little better than a 10 minute pace.  As long as I could sing and not be out of breath I was doing OK.  As time went by it became easier and easier to stay mellow.

Bolinas Ridge Aid was set perfectly along the trail side.  It was very busy and I guess I got there at a good time.  A large group of sponsored/ elite/ much faster than me/ crewed runners were prepping for their last 20.  I grabbed a ton of stuff.  I ate a whole PB&J, three or four potatoes, grabbed some chips and asked one of the wonderful volunteers to put some peanut M&M's in a cup to take with. This time I also asked someone to help me get my pack filled.  I wasn't in a hurry and being more relaxed seemed to make this pit stop go faster.  Good enough. 

A lot of two way traffic on this section.  Good thing it was a fire road.  The whole thing if I remember right.  Most of the trail is covered by old coastal pines leaving a somewhat softer, duffy type surface to run on.  Once again we were met with a very runnable almost all downhill section.  Rolling dirt roads are kind of fun.  Here I saw a lot of people I had seen or met at different places.  Almost everyone who went by said something.  It's really cool.  Most everyone had something encouraging to say and an occasional high five or knuckle knock made the journey a little sweeter.  I took my camera out so I could get some photos, then I forgot to use it.  I did take two.  One of Gretchen B and one of Larissa P.  Two very happy, solid runners.

Larissa P. cruising back to Bolinas Ridge
Just when I was beginning to think, how friken long is this section gona take, I came across another fantastic volunteer who said, 1.7 downhill to the next aid.  Sheeeeeeeeeit!! That guy wasn't friken kiddin'.  Downhill?? Phukme, he shoulda said, "Sorry the elevator is out, just jump!"  This was a harsh down hill.  I could feel it going to work on my legs.  I got passed left and right by those who were willing to mash their quads.  My quads were fine, at the bottom my right knee was starting to feel a little achy. 

At the Randall Trail AS I checked my knee out as best as possible.  Tight at terminal flexion but strength is normal and no obvious swelling.  Ha! Good To Go!  The wonderful volunteers told me I was in at half hour until the cut off.  CUT OFF!!! WTF I hadn't even thought about that.  Not making because  of a cut would be just to to shitty a deal.  He then mentioned hard cut off was 6:00pm at Pan Toll.  I had plenty of time.  With the pack full and a few more food items shoved in my face I headed back up the elevator shaft.  Going up was surprisingly easy.  I found a rhythm early and stuck with it.  A few minutes into the climb I saw Cody.  He didn't look too happy.  He had a patellar tendon strap on and apparently this was given him some trouble.  That is no bueno, not much fun to deal with.  Hope he gets that one dealt with before States.  At the top of the climb I went back at my mellow pace.  Since I hadn't reached the 40 mile mark I had to still keep it under wraps....ya know keep the big guns hidden till the end, save the best for last...blah hoooo!  I did.  I fell in behind a couple of guys who were keeping a good enough pace for me.  They were chatting about this and that and that.  They would roll ahead and then I would reel them back in.  Turned into a fun little game.

The road rolled with an uphill slant.  The tiny downhills that followed the little ups began to give me more and more trouble.   My knee was starting to chat at me a little more every time I took a step downhill.  I don't usually hope for climbs but at this point I would have traded in all the downers for uppers.  I could see the outside of my knee was starting to get a little swollen.  A small case of tendonitis working it's ugly friken head into my run-fun.  Worrying about my knee made me wana drop.  Phac No! I want my T-shirt.  I kept at it.  Bolinas Ridge came quicker this time and I made it to my magic 40 mile mark.  Actually it was 41.1.  It was the furthest I had ever been.  Yeah for me.  Luckily there were all kinds of motivating signs...

The stop was once again as quick as I could make it.  More pots, pbj and chips.  I took a to-go bag of pots and chips, filled my sac and left.  Piss.  I forgot gu.  I had to turn around.  I contemplated for about 5 seconds.  I was only 30 yards out of the aid station. 

The next section was heading back to PT.  This was fast as it was going out. Only this time you could see the weather coming in.  The marine layer and on shore breezes cooled things down on the exposed trails. This time I met a cool lady named Marissa.  She is a spunky lady with a pixie haircut and a fantastic attitude.  We hung out for a bit then she bolted.  I caught up because I was feeling good and we spent the rest of the fun time trail trading stories and passing people making the time go by faster.  At this point I found that if I kept my weight underneath me, kept as efficient as possible and picked up the pace my knee didn't hurt as much.  There really wasn't a lot of downhill so it rolled and I went with it.  We pulled into Pan Toll before 5pm.  I just couldn't remember how much before or if it was at 5.  I prepped myself for the cold weather I saw coming in.  Wind breaker, sleeves, gloves and a headlamp.  The excellent people helped me get my shit together once again.  I drank another Boost and grabbed some gu and pancakes from my drop bag.  There weren't that many left...that tells me I am one of the last runners.  By this point, I really didn't care.  I just wanted to finish.  Pan Toll is 47.8 miles into the run.  I came this far, I was gona make it the rest.  Then the nice gentleman told me, "the next part is an easy 2 mile downhill and a flat run to the next aid." Wow! Talk about pissing on my parade.  I asked if there was any ups and he responded with a not for a while comment.

Marissa left and anyone who I latched on with,left me because we were going downhill and we were supposed to be going fast...I just wasn't.  That two mile section to Muir Beach Aid flat out sucked.  Really, I was walking most of it slower than I would have gone up it.  This was miserable and once again i thought about dropping at Muir Beach.  At the bottom of the hill I stopped to take some rocks out of my shoes.  They were friken killing me once again.  i guess if it isn't one thing it's another!  Got the rocks out.  Nope, they never seemed to get out and I didn't bring any extra socks.  The next trail was soft ground under cover of oaks and other coastal trees and shrubs.  This is also where the onshore breezes came up and gave us a big ugly kiss...that never ended.  This is also where I met Jim Magil.  I needed this guy to come a long.  I recognized him from the hostel and he recognized me as well.  He asked if I was the "pizza guy" and I remembered him calling my pancake that in the morning.  We chatted off and on.  Finally I asked him how he had delt with his 'dark spots' during longer runs.  He had great words at the time, I just can't remember them now.  One important thing he said was he often felt like that when he was low in fuel tank.  Makes sense, so I started eating.  Duh!  Anyway we kept in the conversation for quite some time and with the help a another couple of runners we made it into freezing cold Muir Beach Aid.  Sweet!  Mile 53.5.  Hell yeah I just completed a 50+ mile run.

The Muir Aid station went quick.  I started feeling this internal urgency to get done.  That and I didn't want to get too cold.  Leaving the aid we headed up and back to Tennessee Valley.  This is a good thing because at this point I could make up some time going up and so I went at it as hard as I could.  This section is where I would once again latch onto Jim and another guy named Bobb.  At the top of the climb it was cold and windy and it was not a barrel of monkeys.  The trail moved along a cliff top and moved with the contours of the mountain.  The trail took a turn down toward the ocean, yep that's right, more down hill!!!  It was short lived but painful none-the-less.  After the brief down we headed up a set of never ending stairs and then a steep little single track to once again follow a ridge line.  This ended when we began to head into Tennessee Valley.  A short one mile decent and we were on the road to the last aid station.  Five miles left.

The aid people were very nice for being there all dang day long.  I tried to drink some way, blah...puke, yuk.  No chicken noodle just some other vegetable stuff that just didn't smell right.  I grabbed one more gu had my pack filled and then I left.

Bobb took off just before me and Jim was well behind.  So I started up the gentle incline by myself.  It was getting dark and spooky.  I remembered this section of the course on the out trip.  It was gentle and flowed well.  Pretty soon Bobb and I were hanging out and we stayed that way until we crossed the finish line together.  The last few miles were as unpleasant as can be.  Every turn seemed to go away from the finish line and it just kept getting darker and colder.  The wind was relentless at the top of the hill where the finish line and the YMCA were located.  The last stretch of road went quick and looking at the numbers on the clock I thought of nothing.  There in bright red numbers 15:11:something something.  I wanted to kiss the ground but couldn't bend over.  I just wanted a shower.  All I could think about was sitting under a nice hot friken shower.

I love my new shirt.  I suffered a little for this friken shirt!

Lessons Learned:
1-  Take care of blisters early. Or they will mess you up later.  I felt my first blister at mile 12 to 15.  I should have taken care of it at tone of the aid stations.  I didn't and by mile 35 my gait changed and subsequently my IT band flared up a messed up the rest of my run.  Fix the blisters...end of story!!

2-  Use the aid station volunteers.  That's what they are there for and at the same time never count on anyone for having anything FOR you unless they say they will have it for you.  Packing light is easy unless you are high maintenance like me.

3-  Weather dictates electrolyte needs.  Figure out what you need and don't exceed it.  I had puffy hands (water retention) for two or three hours.  It feels weird and ultimately it is better than hyponatremia.

4-  Pick a pace and stick to it.  This was a new distance for me and it took longer than I expected.  Today (three days after) I feel great and almost feel ready to run.  I kept a completely manageable pace.

5-  It is better to show up to a race a little out of shape than a little hurt.  I had a calf problem which pretty much took me out of running the last four weeks before Miwok.  This definitely took it's toll on my finishing time but I knew that going in and I adjusted for it.
6-  Water, food, electrolytes, mental stability and conditioning are the five parameters of ultra-running.  Jim Magil and I discussed this at my "low" point and he stated these five as listed, in order of importance.   It is important to full realize all aspects and know how each works for you before going out for a good run.

7-  Enjoy the surroundings, the people and the running especially.  It is easy to get caught up in your own pity party and throw in the towel.  Just go get it done.  If it's mental...get over it; if it's physical..slow down; if your gut hurts, stop>analyze>fix>go; etc.  Running is fun!!!

8-  Thank everyone!  Especially the old guys who have been around for a while and depart valuable pieces of information on you.

9-  Do it again.  I plan to try this again next year.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Miwok prep week

Since Skyline to the Sea on April 10th I haven't had a really good week of running.  And to top it off, last week was a big goose egg.  That's right, zero miles.  First whole week off since I started running five years ago.  So, I was bummed and Thursday night I was ready to call off Miwok all together.  I just couldn't shake this calf problem that has plagued me inconsistently since New Years Eve.  Despite my overall lack of miles I have been able to improve my running times and general 'feel' for running.  I pr'ed Way Too Cool by an hour.  So my confidence was high and then was slowly chipped at during April, culminating last Thursday with conceding a much anticipated race.  All stories have a happy ending.  Lets hope this one does on May 7th.

The turn around happened on Friday April 29 when I went to see Scott, a running friend and chiropractor.  We had been hashing at the 'calf thing' for a few weeks and it finally dawned on both of us (mostly him) that my calf was having problems functioning like I want it to because my ant. tib was acting like a selfish A-hole.  In other words, the anterior tibialis, must work with, not against, my gastroc soleus or talo-crural complex.  Think of all joints working like a mrianette.  Meaning there is a push and pull, or agonist antagonist.  They have to work together or one is gona take a shit!  Well, my calf did.

Fast forwar to Sunday.  I ran 6 and felt good. No calf problems.  Two more days and we are at Tuesday morning at Cal Poly track at 5:50am.  This is the mornig to see if I can really handle mountain running.  Thomas kindly offered to take me on an easy final run before the race.  How can I resist?  So at 6 we met up and off we went.  Off we ran into Poly Canyon.  Service road, no problem.  Past the farm and through the gate, through another gate and up a little bump...again no problem.  Admittedly,  a small reminder lingered in my lateral soleus.  No big, no pain, just a small reminder.  We kept a steady, albeit slow pace goin up the steeper part and walked one of the steeper parts.  At the top I felt good and ready for more.  We headed back.  I'm in!

Wednesday I had a nice little hour of fun in the pool.  I wouldn't even call it a workout.  I did move and got my heart rate up a little but not for any extended period of time.  When my quads started burning I would shut it down or slow it down.  I saw Scott for one last adjustment.

Thursday I saw Hannah.  She did some trigger point work and some myofacial work and some of her own methods.  You can call it what you want, it is effective and it feels good.!  Now it is time to pack my stuff up and get ready to roll. 

Friday is travel and Saturday will take care of itself.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Thoughts on Miwok

Is running long distances scary?  Well, I guess it's all relative.  When I signed up for my first 10K I thought it was a long way...blah blah blah!  Who gives a crap about that.  On another note...The thought of covering a new distance brings about new fears and questions about whether my body is ready to do such a thing.  62 miles in one day.  For some it doesn't even get real until after 80 miles.  Tony Krupicka even said, "anyone can run 30, 50 or 60 miles, its when you get to one hundred...."  Maybe he's right.  I have run in quite a few places in my young trail running career and each person I manage to have a conversation with answers THE question the same way.  What's THE question???  What does it take to make through a 50 miler or a one hundred mile foot race?  The response boils the race down to an eating, hydrating and electrolyte balance contest.  Really?!? Yes really.  The human body can endure just about anything for any length of time providing it is properly nourished.  Not entirely true.  The body also needs to move at a comfortable speed (pace) or it will break down.  So...pace, food, water, electrolytes.  Got it!  Now go out and figure out what you need at mile 50 when you have only run 40.  Better yet, what is your stomach going to say to you if you try to feed it Gu for 15 hours.  How do you figure a pace to cover 62 miles.  I once ran a 5K in 19:21.  So does that mean that I will be finishing the 62 in less than 7 hours? No! That'd be very cool, just isn't going to happen.  Back to food.  Luckily I have been trying some other things while running, like pb&j, animal crackers, apple pie, burritos, sun chips, pancakes, jolly ranchers and my favorite..chicken noodle soop!  So now I have to get some palatable  protien in the mix.  I have been suggested Boost.  We'll see about that one.  I guess you can say I have a lot to think about.

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation.  So when some one tells me good luck for my upcoming "race" I can either respond, 'Thanks' or 'yeah, I am going to need it.' Which translates to, 'I am not sure if I am prepared for this.'  Thanks would mean that I have it figured out and come the morning of May 6th I will have a plan in place that I am ready to stick to...Any suggestions?  Just don't say good luck.

Today is Tuesday, April 12th that leaves me 24 days until Miwok 100K.  This also means that I have only this upcoming weekend and the next (Easter weekend) to get in sufficient long runs before I have to start tapering.  I kinda like my chances for finishing.  50K races in March and April and several successive weekends with good long runs.  Lots of good cross training.  I am ready.  Good thing too because time is runnig short...Ha! I made a pun.

Wed, 23 days...another good pool workout today after 10 hours of work.  I still don't think I am ready to run yet.  I'll find out on Friday. Maybe tomorrow.  I don't know.  I felt a lot better, my left calf is tight.  Whatever.  Time to go.

Thursday...another day of it.  Work can get on yer nerves.  Not today!!! I got to work met with football coaches, called a parent the went and had an awesome workout in the pool with my consistent acl rehab buddy Dave.  We worked for an hour straight.  He of course did more because I have to time during the sprints.  I did find my legs were still a little sore and so todays run will be short.  Shorter than I wanted it to be.  Work for the rest of the day was just work...a four letter word.  After, I set out for a shortie shortie.  Four miles was it.  At a recovery pace.  Ready for more....except my left calf is STILL fucking buggin me.  What do I have to do?  REally, I will take any suggestions at this point.  I have tried, stretching, 2-3 x/day at 2x20 to 30 seconds each, ice, massage, rest, exercise easy, TP therapy, rolling, hot rub, fish oil.  If any one wants to throw a suggestion in the hat, I am game.  no acupuncture. 

I have two long run days before Miwok.  I have to be right this weekend and next.  Then I am on my own.

Confidence is a daily grind.  One day I think myself into the tank and the next I am jumping over it.  Can I finish Miwok? Yes! Will it be the time I want, probably not.  Why?  First time on course and first time at this distance.  Having to observe a game plan and sticking to it for 13 hours or so is not an easy task.  If I can pay attention for 13 hours.......I'm good!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Skyline to the Sea - April 10

I was excited for this race like I was excited for Way Too Cool.  On one hand the prep hadn't been done and on the other it was similar to 2009.  One thing that has changed this year compared to last is the long run.  Since getting in with SLO Trail Runners my weekends now hold over 60% of my weekly miles.  We would get 18 to 24 on Saturday and on Sunday I would go out and get another 10 to 15 at a go by feel pace. During the week I would cross train another three to five hours.  Usually at a pretty good effort.  So the work is getting done, just differently.  Around 45 miles with "extras."  Regardless, the confidence has been lacking when I get to the start line.

On the day of the race everything followed the path of 2009.  Once again Dr. Tanaka shared the bus and once again he had to lay down on the curvy sections to avoid puking.  The start line was pretty close to being the same too.  50+ person line at the porta potty, people meandering around for 45 minutes before the race and sunny yet chilly weather. When the time came, the march to the sart line was erily similar.  OK not erie but similar.  The same group of La Sportiva people at the front with some other fast looking people.  Larissa Polischuk was there and so I said hi and talked to her for a minute or two.  Then I backed up several rows of people and moved to the side.  I new I wasn't going to finish with these guys so I figured I would let the fast go ahead without getting in their way.

A little past nine we were sent on our way.  At 20 minutes in my right calf started hurting.  I am a bitch sometimes but seriously, can't a brother catch a break?  I kept at it, shifting my foot strike every once in a while to keep my leg somewhat comfortable.  It worked well enough.  I went out too fast and at the first hour mark I felt tired.  Stooopid!  So I swollowed my pride and kissed a sub 5 hour 50K good bye.  The thought that stuck with me was what I wrote about last week, and that was, stay within myself.  Easier said than done.  Last week was an anomaly.  Even Larissa agreed that it was the most fun she has in a while.  For me the run was not only a confidence booster but just so much fun I can't wait to do it again!  The next hour or so flew by and most of it is a blur.  The running wasn't fast, I just can't really remember it.

Two and a half hours in and the Gazos Creek aid never looked so good.  I felt tired and almost wanted to continue on and just do the marathon.  What a sack!  Filled up the pack and went.  Some lady in spandex left right after me but decided to run up instead of hike.  I chose the later and made the pace as hard as tolerable.  There it is, the pace was as hard as tolerable again!!!  I guess I just can't not go at it that way.  Thomas' words kept ringing in my head, 'This isn't the race that matters, just go easy and have a nice long training run."  There must be a switch absent from my noggin that allows me to do that.  The loop from the aid station and back was 6 miles.  In my head I had to do it in an hour to keep on track.  On track for WAHT??!!!? Yeah, on track.  I left at 2:30 and got back at 3:24.  The loop included a nice single track  climb up to a ridgeline fireroad.  We were to follow the ridgeline up and down and up and up.  Then it started heading down again and there was my gift.  More downhill single track.  What fun!!! Here I caught uphill run girl and never saw here again or the others that passed me on the way up.  Back to the aid to fill it up one more time.  There, now my legs are sufficiently beat up with another 11 or so to go.  Swell.  To get out of Big Basin you have to climb, not a lot but just enough to remind you that the course still had 3000' of elevation gain even though the loss was 5000'.  Honestly the downhill claimed more people than the up hill. 

At the top, or at the end of the last climb, the last gift that layed out infront of you was a pine covered single track wet dream heading down a mountain in switchbacks and through a natural drainage.  It was fast and soon you were running creekside.  An undulating trail sided by ferns and poison oak along with coastal pines and shrubs to the left and a swollen creek to the right.  Here is where I found my groove.  I fell into a solid pace and just went...within my self.  I passed a few people along the way but also got passed, by one or two.  This section went really fast.  At the final creek crossing,  there stood a guy saying, "three miles to the next aid, five to finish."  Shit! I wanted to be done now.  This next part stuck in my mind as being a little boring.  It isn't, it is just a fire road back to the horse camp so comparitivly speaking to what was behind, the future just seemed a little boring.  This was a long road back.  I met up with a guy, who was passing me, and spoke with him for a few minutes before he continued on his way.  This made the time pass.  Every once in a while I would come around a turn and spot someone else a head of me.  This passed the time pretty good too.  Finally made it to the last aid station.  Cute gal, old guy.  She made me smile he filled my pack.  What a life this is.  They said less than two to go. Cool, the sign said 1.3 so they really weren't kidding.  Solid, found my groove again and finished this one painfree but the price had been payed already...tomorrow will be a sore day!!

Finished in 5:17, a new PR for me.  Larissa said hey to me at the finish, she is cool and that was a nice gesture.  We talked for a couple minutes as she got her quads worked on by one of the ART people.  Hmmm looks good.  A little body work is in order for me too!  I sat, I stood, I ate chili and soup and drank a coke and got some ART.  Then left....

Take Home:
When you have a race plan...stick to it.  5:17 is cool but I am sore.  31 miles is going to make you sore, but less sore if you run smart.

Do this race again at sub 5 in 2012 or 2013

no photos for this one, i forgot my camera and there wasn't a photographer on course...bummer

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Skyline 2da Sea prep

Monday I did nothing and liked it.  Work had me in at 5am and didn't leave until 4pm or so.  I did go see my favorite chiropractor and that made me feel better.  Other than that my body was tired.

Tuesday I was in the pool again.  It was a gorgeous day and some pool cross training was in order.  Luckily four others, my usual rehab suspects, joined me and we went at it hard.  I almost made Dave puke again.  He really gets into the sprints.  Alex worked her ass off and ended up with 65 minutes of plyo's, sprints and core work.  I love my job.  This pool thing came at the right time and I think it is all from Daves suggestion or as a result of multiple conversations with his rehabilitation as the subject heading.   I ended up with about 80 minutes of good movement.  My body was alittle tired but moved well enough to get a good workout.

Wednesday my mother-in-law was picking up the girls so I went for a 10 mile spin up poly canyon towards shooters.  I didn't feel like running any of it.  I am glad it was a really nice day because  it made staying out there easy.  If you have never seen rattle snakes mate it is a trip.  Intertwined like a pretzle bangin into eachother, falling on the ground.  I was on my way back to Poly and two snakes were in the middle of the road 'doing it!' I had to watch for a second because at first I thought they were fighting.  After a couple minutes of amazment and disbelief I carefully went around them.  The rest of the run went easy and as I finished I noticed I had spent almost two hours out there.  I knew I spent some time watching the snakes, retracing my steps because of cows and contemplating what route to take after nearly five miles in, but I didn't think I was running that slow.  It really doesn't matter and my body felt good, so I guess it's a good thing.  Heading down poly canyhon is fun and this is where I finished my run and then left for home.

Thursday:  Pool work for an hour 15 minutes.  Varying intensity levels.  Good work, got a good sweat.

Friday: see Thursday.  Wanted to run, just didn't get the chance.

After football practice I started thinking about the race.  Mostly because I have to leave and get up to Santa Cruz sometime today.  For some reason my legs feel heavy and I am not into this at all.  Could be that I ate like shit this week.  I absolutely couldn't help myself.  Chips, candy, doughnuts you name I was eating it.  What an idiot.  My thoughts for tomorrow now are just to finish and get home. This kinda feeling is so defeating.  less than a month out of Miwok and I feel like crap and don't want to deal with training.  I am not burned out, maybe it's work or home...fuck me! my routine is week better be better.

Monday, April 4, 2011


I finished the week with a mellow paced run.  i wanted to get at least 8 and just go from there.  I started at Mott Gym and went out to second farm.  At second farm I decided to atleast go up to the intersection of Shooters and Morning Glory.  At the intersection I decided to give myself 15 minutes of climbing and then I would turn around regardless as to where I was.  I made it to the broken glass turn.  Literally less than 50 yards from the top.  I had to get back.  The down hill was actually harder than the going up.  Whatever.  I made it down in 10 minutes and headed along the single track toward Poly Canyon. four and half miles to go to get back to Mott.  Easy.  At two and a half to go I started bonking.  I forgot enough food.  One gel for a two hour run is not smart for me.  I just haven't trained that way and this two hour is following a four and a half hour fun run.  I made it back even though it took a little longer than it should have.  I didn't feel too bad, except my legs were crying foul!  Too much I guess.  Ha! screw them, they do what I want. 

Two days 36 miles ~7800' elevation, 6 hours 45 minutes of running.  Cool Beans!!!!
42/3 means 42 miles over three days.
The week ended up with four good cross train days and 3 good run days.
Running by myself gave me plenty to think about.

My aside note:  The more people I meet through ultrarunning the more faith I have that people generally are good.  I honestly think that if people stripped themselves down to some essentials and just ran, they would be better because of it.  Part of what brings people down is inactivity which in turn breeds laziness which turns to negativity which turns to pessimism which leads to cynicism and so on.  Not a social theory, just a thought.  People generally are good and would rather be altruistic than self serving, it is just harder now to take a step forward because of fear of rejection, litigation or someother negative outcome.

Take Home:
1- Run
2- Run Happy
3- Be good tothe next person you see