Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Welp, since there aren't enough of 'em out there, I've done gone and created a new blog to clog the arteries and veins of the internet, strangling it once and for all.

It'll be more well-rounded than this running-only blog, and the title a little more "me" than rustyboybitches.

Now all I have to do is write.

Damn.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kids, the results have been posted: It turns out that, yes, FIFTY runners dropped during this sucker. That's a hair shy of 50% of the field. Bud landed first in the 60+ age category with an official finish time of 28:35, and Karl Meltzer was first men's finisher with 17 hours, 45 mns for his time, which is 2 hours longer than his record last year on the old course!

I guess we all struggled on this one.

34 runners dropped after the 50 mile mark, which means 16 didn't even make it that far. It looks like Jonathon (good ol', nauseous Jonathon) waited to drop for TWO HOURS at the 50 mile aid station. This tells me that, during my 6 mile trek to mile 56, Jon sat there in his chair and wondered if he could keep going. That's one tough, puke-covered warrior.

Many of the volunteers, including the race director and his wife, live locally, and many of them couldn't return home on Sunday after staying awake for 40 or so hours lending us aid. On the flipside: None of their homes were lost, miraculously.

The race was SO well organized, and the volunteers incredibly helpful and cheerful, so my hat's off to them, and I hope they and their loved ones remain safe.

Monday, October 22, 2007

IMG_2186

Firstly, very firstly, I need to post a thank you to a very special crew indeed:

Ann , Renee, Jen, Dave, Liam, and Steph: If it hadn't been for you, my sad, sorry ass would have been aimlessly digging through drop bags, spilling much-needed water bottles, overlooking specific food needs, and generally whining a helluvalot more than I needed to.

Ann and I drove down from LA on Friday, picked up my sister, Renee, who'd flown in to San Diego, and headed to our cabin, which was about 25 mns from the start/finish.

We immediately drove to the start/finish after changing clothes to test out my sprained toe on part of the race trail: After 15 minutes, I declared, "Feels great!", thinking that the swelling in the toe at the end was a result of keeping it immobile for 6 days and finally, now, stretching it out.

We whipped up some pasta, shared some gut-wretching laughs (not that my guts weren't wretching already), and hit the sheets around 10pm. Tossing and turning, I awoke about every hour on the hour until the wakeup at 4:15, when we puttered off to the start in the dark.

I found Bud, my 100 mile running hero (20 years at it) at registration, met his pacer Garret (a 20 year old, 2hr 35mn marathon runner) and pinned on my number. The air was dry. DRY. And I live in a desert, so you know I'm not f*cking with you. I knew I'd have to keep ahead on my fluids during the daytime portion (one loop of the 20 mile and one loop of the 30), figuring I'd hit 50 miles in about 12 hours (6pm). There, I'd pick up my first pacer, my girlfriend Ann, and head off into the night with her.

I couldn't believe it: I stood toeing the line at my first 100 mile run. I was thrilled and scared sh*tless. LIterally, and I knew eventually, I'd be squatting somewhere off the trail, but before I knew it, we were off into the mountains, as Paul, the RD, yelled "GO!", and someone responded, "Mommy!"

I hung with Bud and Garret and planned to for the entire, first of two 20 mile loops, to keep my pace. We ambled along comfortably, laughing, Bud and I catching up, Garret terrified at this, his first run on ANY trail, trotting into the growing sunlight, like well-tuned bicycles.

At aid stop 1 (Sunrise Aid Station), I handed my crew my headlamp and noticed the growing winds as we crested the ridge. Bud had heard gusts were supposed to swell up to 50 MPH on Sunday morning in the Cleveland Mountains -Santa Ana winds: Hot and Dry. My lips were already chapping, even beneath tons of balm, so I figured by noon, we'd all be pink faced.

As always, the next miles came and went without much event, save for watching my step as I sprained my toe 6 days prior, and this course was ROCKY. In fact, some parts were so littered with little boulders that we were slowed to walking even downhill portions. I kept this in mind for the nighttime loops and pressed on to the end of the first 20 loop ahead of Bud, and ahead of my estimated time of 5 hours...DAMN! I was at 4 hours! I had to shift gears and slow down.

I'd run the next 30 mile loop once already with Bud, and I knew the tough uphills were to come, and there they were. We were reduced to walking, the lot of us, but spirits were still up, as we crawled and slid over fallen, burned out trees that had tipped over in only the last 3 days due to the wind storms.

It dawned on me, now at hour 6, that I hadn't peed in 3 hours, yet I was downing over 20 ounces/per hour and keeping up with electrolytes.

Uh oh.

I met another runner, Sean, a Cincinatti cop originally from Boston, who I clicked with immediately (read: potty mouth, ironic humor, and...did I mention potty mouth?) on that stretch, but I left him behind at the mile 25.8 aid station as I downed copious amounts of water and electrolyte drinks and took off towards the BIG climb of the race.

I passed another runner, Bob, who was in from Cincinatti too. I asked if he knew Sean, and he said they were buddies, but his quads were killing him. I quizzed him about what he'd been eating, taking in, and it all checked out, so I pushed ahead, hooking up with another runner, B.J., a lawyer from San Diego. He was planning on listening to the USC/Notre Dame game in a few minutes, and this was also his first 100, so we talked strategy, nutrition, hot spots, the works, but he needed to slow, and I felt great, so again, I pushed ahead to the 50k aid stop, where I'd see my crew for the first time.

Then I realized I was still an hour ahead of my planned arrival.

I had shifted gears but hadn't slowed down.

At the aid stop, I met my sister, Renee and Steph for a pit stop, who treated me to a bottle filled with Perpetuuem and the news that 4 runners had already dropped. I admitted that the course was FAR tougher than the elevation profile had dictated, and they laughed, as I'd just done a 50k in 6:30. As I refilled and readied to go, Sean, sitting a chair and eating, who had somehow passed me (I have NO idea where), said, "Let's go!" and headed up the steep climb. I chased after him as I saw Bud and Garret coming up to the aid station. I yelled, "Hurry the hell up!", to which Bud responded, "Get a move on, Candyass!" (a cherished phrase we bark at each other at every ultra we do together when one of us lags behind).

Sean and I shifted into granny gears and climbed into the thinning air - well, for sea-level dwellers like us (6000 ft) - and talked about Boston, Chicago, being Irish, being a cop, being a runner, and just, being. Talking really passed the time, but I STILL hadn't peed (onto hour 4 1/2 of not going), so I kept pushing fluids, getting a little bit more than nervous about it, but shaking it off, knowing that stress was NOT the solution.

I stopped to empty some pebbles from my shoes when we met up with another runner, and Sean and he pressed ahead as I banged my Brooks out and tried to calm down about not urinating. Did I already mention: IT. WAS. DRY. I took some deep breaths and relaxed, trying to take in the moment. Winds were picking up, and 2 miles of downhills were ahead before the next aid stop, where I promised myself to sit for 10 mns, drink 40 ounces of water and eat, before hitting the next climbs.

The downhills were steeper than I remembered from my training run, and FAR rockier. Again, I was reduced to walking stretches, for fear of banging my toe or just plain slipping and busting my @ss. I stopped to try and urinate, and did, but it was a short attempt and appeared dark. I thought maybe I'd hear Bud and Garret shuffle from behind me, but before I knew it, I was climbing to the mile 36.5 aid stop and my drop bag.

Sean was sitting in a chair at the stop, drinking and eating, and said he was "brown" as well (pee-wise). I told him my plan was to sit and drink too, and before I knew it, B.J. came walking in, saying he'd covered some hot spots and that USC was ahead at halftime.

I guzzled fluids, ate, and then saw Bud and his pacer wander in. Garret limped over to me and plopped down, saying that his STRESS FRACTURE was hurting. WHAT?!? It turns out he's had a tibial stress fracture the last few months and was just seeing how far he could go, but this was the end. I told him that he had more guts than I as Bud refilled his bottles and congratulated him. Bud came over and took him by the arms like a son and said he was sorry they would go further, but he was "damned proud" of him. Had I not been so emotionally exhausted, I know I would have teared up as we said our goodbyes and headed up the long uphill ahead.

It was like we were reliving 5 weeks back when we'd done this loop in training. Bud is not only an ultra running hero to me, but as a human being as well, as his heart is the largest and most open I've ever known, and his willingness to share his feelings and knowledge are nearly unsurpassed. We never ran out of conversation as we climbed and dipped, crawled over more fallen trees (my response to sliding my butt across one: "Think of all the sweaty @sses you're about to rub yours on"), and floated down the rocky descents.

We arrived at Sweetwater Bridge aid stop (42.8) as I told him I had to sit and drink more, as I STILL had no urge to "go". Ann, Renee, and Steph all tended to my needs without pause as I sat and took down more and more ice water and electrolytes, trying to figure out what element was missing from the balance. Everything else felt GREAT on me: Strength, mentality, the works, but not having gone to the bathroom in nearly 7 hours yet drinking non-stop was beginning to concern me. I told Bud I'd see him ahead and to get to his lights, as nightfall was coming and his lights were at the next aid station.

In a chair behind me, a younger runner named Jonathon began to puke all over the place. His crew member, his father, said that this is normal protocol for him, but Jonathon looked miserable. Conversely Sean, from earlier, had just downed a McDonald's cheeseburger and fries and told me to meet him at the halfway point in 7 miles, and to look out for Bob (who was complaining to me earlier about muscle fatigue): "The guy's a MACHINE. He does this every time - complains about being tired, and then passes half the field in the last 40 miles."

Sure enough, Sean rolled out and a few minutes later and in rolled Bob, looking just fine. I checked out with the aid workers and followed him and Jonathon up the trail, who was still looking mighty green.

We stuck together, as the next aid was still 7 miles away, and darkness was going to descend soon. Jonathon couldn't keep any food down at all, and Bob, who was now quite chatty, kept the conversation going. It looked like Sean was right: Bob was going to be just fine.

I'd switched from 2 handheld bottles to my Nathan pack, which gave me 2 liters of water plus one handheld of Perpetuuem. I knew I HAD to pee soon, or something very bad could potentially go wrong. Mostly on my mind (and also Bob's) was keeping Jonathon moving. He already knew he was cooked and that he'd drop at mile 50, but he had to make it. As I began asking him about his training, I found out that, not only does he run 100s all the time, he'd just run a sub-40 hour at Badwater! He and Bob both concurred that this course was tougher and more technical than Western States (which they'd both run many times), which didn't surprise me, as thoughts of 2nd loops of the 20 and the 30 seemed ominous, particularly in the dark.

Jonathon continued to dry heave, and after darkness swooped in on us, I felt that all too familiar twinge:

I HAD TO PEE. BADLY.

SWEET!

Everything was light-colored and strong, and suddenly, a weight lifted from my shoulders. I felt steady, alert, and prepared to tackle the night, knowing my crew was waiting only 2 miles ahead.

The pace was slow due to Jonathon's condition, but neither Bob nor myself were leaving him. We sloughed in the final mile to the 50 mile aid stop, having to traverse stepping stones across a creek, where I opted to just dash through, as I had spare shoes and socks awaiting me, and we charged Jonathon in, as he screamed victoriously and, frankly, very sarcastically, as all he wanted was to crash and pass out.

My crew emerged from the darkness, dragging in tow a surprise guest! Our friend Liam, who'd decided to see why in the hell I do these runs. Before I knew it, I was in my chair, and Liam was pulling off my gaiters, filthy socks, and shoes. Unbelievable. I downed soup and got my night gear strapped on. Bud had passed through only 15 minutes ahead of me and told my crew that he'd see me on the trail - he wanted company as this 100 was more about survival than anything else.

As the winds cold whipped across the 50 mile point, I was ready to tackle the darkness.

Ann was dressed in her cold gear and headlamp, and I called to Bob beside me, "Hey, want company?!" He excitedly replied YES, and, as I was still somehow 30 minutes ahead of schedule, I stood, dashed off to the shadows for another pee (yeah, it's all about the pee, isn't it?) and stated, "Let's go!"

We power-walked the steep to warm up my legs to the applause of onlookers, and I introduced Bob to Ann as the canopy of stars covered us. My left I.T. band was stiff, so I told Bob to run ahead if he'd like and we'd see him in a few. Off he jogged, and damn, if his buddy Sean wasn't right about his stamina.

My I.T. had only started bothering me after I stood out of my chair, so I figured it just needed blood flow and a few good stretches. Ann and I marvelled at the skies, the trails, the weird wonder of 100 miles of running as we wound up switchbacks towards my second stop at Sunrise Aid Station, ironically, now after sunset.

That's when I began to realize that my I.T. wasn't loosening. In fact, it was worsening. I theorized that it was likely I'd been unconsciously favoring my right foot (the one with my sprained toe), and I now felt the repurcussions. I stopped and stretched, but the pain grew with every step. Dammit! I feel GREAT! I thought. I began walking the flats and downhills, but no matter what my course of action, the pain grew more intense, to the point I was nearly walking stiff-legged on downhills.

With 40 miles to go, I didn't see this making for a very enjoyable night.

Ann and I agreed that at the aid station I'd get it massaged in my chair, walk around, stretch it, and asess, but as we saw the lights grow closer, I was wincing in pain. I found myself saying, "When the hell are those lights going to get closer?!", imagining a chair and some pressure on my knotting band.

As we trotted in, my crew cheered, as did the enthusiatic and slightly drunken aid workers. They pointed me to a chair by the fire, but I told my crew to pull it away , as I didn't want to be drawn in by the warmth. I still had a chance of going on.

My sister massaged my I.T. with The Stick™, and Steph applied Icy Hot to it, but nothing was working. I could feel the bunched up mass of tendon on my thigh, and it stung when I even put a finger on it.

All emotion left me, and I thought about the moment: Was it worth hobbling along to the next aid station (6 miles)? Was pressing forward another 6, 12, 20, or 40 miles to the finish worth not running for another month, two months, or six? I know enough about anatomy to realize that this injury could be made MUCH worse by pushing it.

"What's the mileage at this stop?" I asked one very helpful worker.

"Just under 56 miles."

"Good," I said, "this is my 56 mile PR."

And with that, the clock reading 9:20 PM, I offically dropped from my first 100.

And I felt great about it.

Steph pleaded with me, telling me I'd trained 3 years for this, to keep going, Relentless Forward Motion, DO NOT QUIT! My heart warmed as I saw what she wanted: I'd told my crew to not let me drop if I complained about being tired, scared, afraid, exhausted, but this? This was different: My mind screamed yes! My entire body screamed GO!, but my I.T. just plain screamed, YOU AREN'T GOING ANYWHERE, JACKASS. I'd already rehabbed an I.T., and it took me away from 3 months of running and enjoying the woods and mountains.

There would be another 100, because, in my heart, I was on my way to taking this one down. My I.T. band had other plans this go 'round, but there would be another 100.

I hugged my crew and thanked them, hobbling to the car. During the drive back to the cabin, my mind and heart took solace in how fresh I felt; strong, alert, and alive. Winds pushed the car back and forth along the two lane highway, and after I showered (seated on a plastic lawn chair and scrubbed clean by Ann - I'm sure it looked pathetic), I lay down on the mattress, knowing I had put out my all and had plenty to spare, but, as in cycling, you can't keep riding on a flat tire.

Post Script - We stayed an extra night in San Diego, and, when we checked in to our downtown hotel, news of fresh fires engulfing the very race course began pouring in! In fact, the strong winds had built up and, as of this moment, are still sending many areas of Southern California up in flames. Truly humbling news, and it puts into perspective everything that I went through those last 5 miles.

50% of the field dropped this race, and by the final cutoff time of 1:00PM Sunday, people were being evacuated from the area.

Bud finished the 100 miles in 28:30 or so.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It is 9:50 PM. Tomorrow morning, Ann and I leave for San Diego. We'll pick up my sister when we arrive and head to our cabin. I'll run about 20 mns on the trails of the 100 to loosen up and test how my foot feels.

I'm trained up.

The drop bags are packed.

My toe is healing.

And so it goes: My dream of nearly 3 years.

The journey is the destination.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Woops.

Last night, I was helping Ann move her bedroom furniture into a more "feng shui" layout. We hoisted the mattress, dragged around the bedframe, scooted her dresser from one side of the room to the other, and in the end, the room seemed cheerier and more open.

More "feng" and less "shui".

I think that's the literal translation.

So I exited her bedroom, rounded the corner and BLAM!, mashed my next-to-pinkie-toe on my right foot. To the point where I tumbled 8 feet into her kitchen, curled up in a ball, and begged God to end it all.

It hurt.

I iced. I moaned and bitched. The toe swelled up. For a change of pace, I bitched and THEN moaned. For about 2 hours, all I could do was sit and berate myself for not wearing shoes while moving furniture 6 days out from a 100 miler. What the hell was I thinking?!? As the mantra goes: Take NO NEW CHANCES on race week. Normally, I would have put on my shoes to avoid damage, but last night, my brain was somewhere else. I wonder where, eh?

I awoke to a bruised toe that was painful to put any pressure on. Luckily, I'd scheduled a PT appointment for this morning last week, for some last-minute tuning up, so I figured I'd see what she thought and go from there.

"It is what it is."

Although I wasn't quite so level-headed at the time.

I hobbled in and showed her my swollen piggy (I think he's the one that "gets no roast beef", if my memory serves me). She did some ultrasound on it and some pressure tests and determined that it's not broken: Only a sprain/strain. She informed me that today is the worst of it, and by Wednesday I should turn a MAJOR corner. She taped me up, hugged me a well-wish (whose PT does that, huh? She's amazing), and sent me limping out the door.

Scott Jurek, 5 days before crushing the course record at the Hardrock 100, massively sprained his ankle playing soccer with a group of kids. He later brought up the point, "We can't just give up our lives for these races," and it's true.

So now (as I just accidentally stubbed my wrapped toe on a chair leg), I'll rest, relax, and heal, and look at this injury as another "story point" on my way to 100.

It's just another challenge. And life's all about how you see it.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

And now, time for Rustyboy taper freakout #1:

Ann is recovering from a bout with some strange flu-like thing that's left her sleeping 12 hours/day. It hit her last weekend, got incrementally worse with congestion, although she's rebounding now, but is still exhausted.

I've been fatigued lo these last few days. No other symptoms, but I've now convinced myself that I have it, only milder. In fact, if I were supposed to run the 100 Monday morning, I seriously doubt that I could. I sleep 8 1/2 - 10 hours a night and wake up tired.

This now ends freakout #1.

Look for more to come!

Monday, October 8, 2007

10 things to do while I taper

Last week, I started my taper. No biggie: I ran only 5 hours, 45 mns, compared to my highest weeks of 10 1/2 hours. Today marks the start of a 4 hour run week. This is exactly 1/2 of the minimum amount of training I've been doing.

Which means the crazies start abooooout....nnnnnnnnow.

Which is why I'm compiling this list of activities to do with all of that extra energy for the next 10 days until the 100:

1. Finish my novel's outline: I started writing the concept a year ago and am 2/3 through the outlining phase. I figure with the extra (counting on fingers) SIX HOURS I'll have away from running this week, I should be able to at least get the skeleton completed. Shit, I should be able to outline The Bible™ in that time.

2. Clean my apartment thoroughly: Seriously, there are enough potato chip crumbs beneath my sofa to construct a raft. A *delicious* raft made of cheddary goodness...

3. Go running: Oh. Wait...

4. Take photos: I don't know if you know, but I have a flickr account that I upkeep. I've been a member for YEARS and have posted a grand total of (drumroll, please) 84 pics. This makes me "LAME", methinks.

5. Stop using the word "methinks".

6. Purchase a game console and play Halo® for 78 straight hours. This is a constructive use of spare time, no?

7. Become a drug mule: I've always wanted to visit Central America.

8. Come up with 2 more creative and ultra-hilarious ideas for the "10 things to do while I taper" list.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Yesterday, I did a 7-ish mile run at Griffith Park. And took my camera. And uploaded the footage and edited it down.

It's my firs time editing anything, which is ironic, considering all the years I've spent in edit bays. Also, the new iMovie is rather limited audio-wise.

Okay, there are my excuses. Glad I got those out.

Some of the zoom-ins are grainy as well.

Okay, that was the last one.

Click ri'cheer

2 NSFW moments in there as well, for my sailor's mouth.
I haven't posted in my other blog in quite awhile, but I've written a reflections on a trip I'd take last year:

Blah Blah Blog

Please excuse the formatting problemos. Blogger no likey copy-and-paste.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I found a photo of the aforementioned steps beside the waterfall at Big Basin.




That's some steep and slippery sh*t.

Since the photo is not mine, I've removed the face of the woman to protect the innocent. Protection from *what*? I have no idea.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Big Basin 50k race report



RUSTYBOY SAYS: DRINK COKE®!

For my 2nd to last long-ass run before the 100, I opted for the Big Basin 50k run up in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Ann was set to do the 17k - which somehow, overnight, became a 15k - version of the race, so we headed northon Saturday, arriving in the UNBELIEVABLY GORGEOUS, LUSH, GREEN, AND AWE-INSPIRING redwood forests around 4:40pm. We changed clothes and ran/hiked the first mile/mile 1/2 of the course to get a feel for what we'd experience only 15 hours later. I was blown away by the vegetation and trail conditions: Technical, well-kept singletrack winding through thousand year old redwood trees, shooting 100+ feet straight above us.

We finished and drove 15 minutes to our hotel, the Brookdale Lodge. The place. Was. Amazing.

Amazing in a, wow, this place was built in the 1920's and has been cobbled together over the last 50 years without real, professional or thought out renovations, kinda way. We settled in the dining room that an actual brook trickles through the center of, put some pasta and risoto down our gullets, had some beers in the room, and passed out.

Up at 6:30, we got dressed and headed to the trailhead. It was a cool morning, the marine layer blanketing the massive forests surrounding us. As we gathered at the start, Miki introduced herself. We know each other through the blogosphere (I now officially hate myself for typing that word). It turns out she'd be running the 50k as well, even on a twitchy ankle she'd injured back in December that was giving her issues.

The 10k, 15k, 25k, and 50k all started at the same time (weird), so on the word "go", about 200+ of us were off....walking up singletrack in a traffic jam that would rival the 405 freeway on any Friday afternoon.

Ann and I stuck together the first 5 or so miles, as I wanted to use this as a training run and not a race, and we both wanted to enjoy the sights and smells of the forest. After only 1 mile, we saw people huddled on the side of the trail, in an all-to-familiar "somebody's hurt" gathering. Sure enough, it was Miki, and she'd rolled her ankle and was NOT happy. About 5 of us hung with her 5-10 minutes, I tied her bandana snuggly around her ankle for compression, and another 50k runner headed back to the trailhead to get help.

This was another weird thing about this race: The first loop was 9.5 miles, with no aid stations in that loop.

We wound up and down the track, when suddenly, a group of screaming women echoed from ahead, who were being attacked by a gang of pissed off wasps! We sprinted through the area they pointed at as the nest without so much as a buzzing in our ears. As it would turn out, nearly EVERY runner would be stung by yellowjackets or wasps by the end of the race (except for us. Seriously), the record being 17 stings! Shit, another element of danger, and I'd be doing this loop a second time: Twice the chance to get attacked.

After scaling a massive incline up the sheer side of a rocky cliff (complete with a tow-line to prevent your tumble down a 100 foot drop), I told Ann I was going to run up ahead a bit and see her at the top.

That's when the itch hit me. I was feeling really strong and knew I'd been holding back enough. So I took off at my steady, comfortable pace, keeping in mind this was a training run, not wanting to trip or injure myself 30 days out from the 100.

More wasp attacks on runners ahead and behind, but again, nothing on me. I popped out the first 15k loop in 2 hours and hit the aid station table for water refills and some grub. Miki was there with her boyfriend, her ankle on ice, cheering us on! She said she'd gotten over the feeling-sorry-for-herself phase, which I was glad to hear. The aid station workers pointed us to the 10k loop and promised "no wasps", and off I ran...not 10 feet before a 25k runner told me she just got stung below the eye.

Oh Jesus.

The 10k loops was FAR steeper than the 15k, and somewhere along the way, I met with "Grant"; a 55 year old runner of 100s. We climbed the steeps together, him regaling me with stories of his Western States and Leadville runs, explaining to me what to tell my crew during my first 100, and before I knew it, we'd crested and were running back down singletrack towards the start/finish for our 2nd loops.

I heard Ann yell, "Go, Rusty!" up to us, to which I yelled back, "Did you win?!". It turns out she'd finished her 15k only 12 minutes behind me! She ran with us the 1/4 mile back to the aid station and told us they'd re-routed the 15k so we'd miss the wasps. Thank. God.

More water refills, a Coke®, and I was back out, now doing an out-and-back of 9.5 miles. I was starting to pass 50k runners now and still feeling strong, but I reeled it in and held back my pace (plus, I was still a little low energy since I'd run a 50k a week prior), did the turnaround and managed to get back to the aid stop in 4:47-ish, 25 miles in. Not bad, considering the difficulty of the course, I thought. Ann filled my bottles (my brain was a little mushy to make decisions) and I choked down some calories and dashed back out for the final 10k loop, saying I'd be back in 1:30...a very hopeful estimate.

After passing two runners, my stomach started giving me issues (too many calories at too fast of a pace), but I knew it would subside, and it did, and I was relieved...and then came the climbs. Not as easy second time around and by myself. The steeps, now that I was paying attention, were around 20% grade at some points, and LONG, but I power-walked up and eventually hit the ridge. I'd reached the OKAY, I'M DONE NOW point, now around mile 29, and my eyes scanned ahead as I ran, searching for that singletrack that signaled the final mile, and once I hit it, I took off.

Dropping out of it where Ann had met me the first time, I knew jeep roads for about 6 minutes were my path until the finish, and then, ahead, I saw another runner. Thank God, a rabbit to chase! I poured on the gas and caught up, asking how she was feeling. "DONE!" she yelped, and we laughed. I pulled away, hitting the bridge before the finish to the cheers of roughly 6 spectators (these races aren't for the ego-driven), and passed the finish in 6 hours, 42 mns.

We stole away to the campground showers, cleaned up, ate a couple of Foster's Freeze burgers, and hit the road, back towards Los Angeles.

Perfect. Weekend.

Coming in to the finish amidst the "cheers" of the "crowd":

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Friday, I drove down to San Diego to visit Bud and train on 30 miles of the race course on Saturday.

Friday night, we loaded up on sushi and rice, hit the sack, and before I knew it, my alarm was screaming at me at 4:30AM, we were up, stopped for coffees, and headed out an hour's drive to the start/finish area.

Fires had stripped about 500,000 acres in the forest about 5 years ago, and the damage was still quite evident: Burned out and fallen trees, not a lot in the way of shade or cover, and singed, blackened and brown mountainsides. It was awesome, in one of those, "Seeing that violent car accident was really...awesome," kind of ways.

We packed all the water and food we could carry, course descriptions and a map, and off we trotted, starting out at 7AM to beat the heat.

The starting elevation of the course is 4,000 feet, and both of us, living at sea level, felt the altitude change immediately. We were running what will be miles 30-50 and then, on the second loop, 70-100. We gained about 1700' in the first 5 miles, and BOY, I felt it. I was short of breath, slightly (barely) nauseous, and exhausted the entire climb. The terrain was, for the most part, very rocky due to erosion, but the views were stunning, and as we wound our way down from the steep climb, I was better able to enjoy them, as oxygen, apparently, makes me happy.

Who knew?

The course rolls steadily for the most part, and I was glad to run what I'd be adventuring on mostly overnight, now, in the daylight. But then the daylight turned into the noonday heat.

We were really hydrated, and there were plenty of water refills along the way, so no problem there, but the sun slowed us waaaaay down, and it wasn't even all that hot (82 F). We'd stopped periodically at trail junctures and rechecked the direction, and at one point, took a little "detour"...also known as getting "lost", which added about a mile to our journey. Finally, after 7 hours 22 msn on the trails, and a bee sting to the thigh during the last 1/2 mile, we returned to the finish area dusty, exhausted, and smelling not unlike a goat wrapped in camel crap (I'm guessing). I figure we did the 50k in 6:30 of actual running, subtracting our map-stops and little side-adventure, and I must admit, I got a little panicked by the thought of how beaten up I was after only 31 miles. But Bud reassured me, explaining that it's a whole other deal when you have a crew, pacers, are power-walking every incline you hit, and know that 100 miles is the final destination.

We stopped at a store at the foot of the mountain and drank the best two, God-damned Cokes® I think 2 human beings have ever slugged back in the last 100 years. Well, at least since they removed the cocaine from the recipe.

So next week, another 50k up north with Ann, then a down week, and then possibly (maybe, if it's not shut down due to fire hazards) the Noble Canyon 50k.

Then, the taper.

Then, the panic.

Then, the 100.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I returned a few hours ago from my home town of Westchester, Illinois, a mere 13 miles from downtown Chicago, visiting with my sister and her girlfriend. Since they're both training for a marathon, we decided to take our runs, as my sis reported, on a bit of land that's near the last of the prairies in Illinois.

A trailhead greeted me about 14 minutes into my run, a trail that I'd traveled down about 50 feet many times as a child. It was singletrack, wet, green, and beautiful! I rushed in at full sprint, dodging several fallen trees, tip-toeing past 2 deer, and rushing across piles of poison ivy. This was unbelievable! This had been here my entire life as a kid? It smelled so damned FRESH everywhere! Well, and incredibly stinky, due to the creek, but I was awed by the sights and smells of something I'd taken for granted my whole life.

I breezed along the shady track until I came upon an asphalt bike path that stretched along Salt Creek, where my sister and her girlfriend and I converged, shared some typical "how's it going?" words, and then split off.

After 1 1/2 hours, I emerged from the woods and decided to tack on another 30 minutes by running up to my high school. I was a tourist, on foot; in my hometown for the first time in at least 6 years, and it was eye-opening. All of the views I took for granted in my youth were opened to me with an outsider's eye; all the little, strange intricacies that constructed my past became blaringly apparent and unique.

Aslo unique and eye-opening:

Westchester's old motto:

"A good place to live."

Westchester's improved motto:

"A good place to live...and shop."

No joke.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Motley Crew

Last night, Ann, Julie, and my friends Jen and Dave came to casa de Rustyboy for our first crew meeting about the race. Sadly, my sis' couldn't fly out from NYC for Thai food and beer to discuss the run with the rest of the crew, but I'll be inundating her with info this weekend in Chicago when we meet up.

As I sat answering questions, asking questions, watching Julie and Ann figure out my approximated splits from aid stop to aid stop, I began to think:

100 MILES?!?!

The reality began setting in as we poured over elevation charts, figuring which climbs would be the toughest at specific miles; who would be pacing me when I hit said climbs, what I would need when daylight disappears and night sets in, and on and on.

FYI: 100 miles is a long f*cking distance.

I know, duh, right? But as the run grows closer and I have to begin considering what goes into which drop bags (REI is gonna learn to LOVE me!), how much nutrition I'll want to take with me, what kind of liquid-carrying-systems I'll need at specific times of day, it's dawning on me: What an adventure I'm embarking upon.

Crowded around my coffeetable last night, I looked into the eyes of those whose hands I'll be placing myself in, and to them, I say this:

My deepest, warmest thanks. I would never have asked this of anyone but the 5 of you. I asked this of you because of the trust and love that I share specifically with each of you. You'll be my support, my brain, the pat on the shoulder when I ask for it, and the swift kick in the ass when I need it.

You'll swap out grubby socks, lance blisters, refill bottles and remind me to eat. You'll be my guides, my distraction, my cheerleaders, and my shoulders to cry on.

You'll say things like, "When did you last pee? What color was it?", "Just puke it up and let's keep going.", "Get a move on, candyass!", "Where does it hurt?", "What do you need?", and "You're tired/sore/bonked? I didn't drive 4 hours to watch you drop out. Unless you're bleeding, you're running."

And, at the finish line, you'll know I couldn't possibly have crossed it without you. The victory will be as much yours as it is mine.

That said...

100 MILES?!??!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Big Basin

Last week, Ann and I signed up for the Big Basin Redwoods trail run. I'll be tackling the 50k and Ann will rock the 17k.

I don't mean "rock" as in "Dude, you totally rock that hat!". That kind of talk makes me feel pukey.

I've never visited the Redwood Forest in the 10 years I've lived in California, which is a crime, I believe; an actual one, like a moving violation or something. Ann camped there her entire childhood and has regailed me with tales of soft, shady trails, cool temps, and lush, green surroundings, so we're heading up in a couple of weekends so I can fall in love with it and never desire to step foot in smoggy, hot, dry, brown Los Angeles ever again.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

"Pacer's" report

I don't like the term "pacer" for someone who runs with you for support. "Support runner" seems more in line, as you never actually dictate the pace for your fellow runner; you encourage and offer moral support.

So "support runer" it is. Ignore the title of this entry.

Today, Ann and I ran the Bulldog 25k in the Santa Monica Mountains. I've run the race twice before, and it is an ass-kicker, with (roughly) 3,000' of elevation gain, maybe even more. Ann had mentioned wanting to try it earlier in the year, so I told her that I'd run alongside her if she did. Five clicks to Active.com later, we were both set to tackle Bulldog!

We arrived early enough to watch the 50k runners take off an hour earlier than our own start. Before we knew it, we were toeing the start line (actually, we were about 100 people deep in a big blob of runners) and off we went!

Chatting and joking, we wound deep into the canyons where the old set for the camp from M*A*S*H is located. Ann was starting out conservatively, which was smart. We fell back in the pack aways, but I assured her that we'd be seeing the people passing us later on as we whizzed by them.

We hit the climb for Bulldog, which in actuality isn't AS horrible as everyone claims it to be (I don't recommend sprinting up it, though), power-walking past handfuls of runners here and there. I tried to get Ann to run the shorter, flatter sections, which she did, without so much as a complaint, using the old "let's run to that tree up there" method. As it turns out, my girlfriend is hardcore.

We crested on the ridge and noticed we were passing a 50k runner! Yeesh. A long day was awaiting her, as she had an hour's head-start on us and was this far back, only at mile 7 or so. I kept minding the time, out of curiousity, and calculated we were on course for a sub-3:30 finish! I held in the info, though, and merely stated that we were making excellent time and to keep doing what we were doing.

Two minutes later, the male 50k leader raced past us - he was SMOKIN'! It turns out, he'd miss breaking the course record by 2 lousy minutes. I imagine after he was done crying and icing his legs, he'd have a lovely afternoon.

More shuffling uphill, more hydrating, a few Gu's here and there, and we hit the descents, where I knew we'd make up a ton of time. Ann's incredibly quick on the downhills, and even then, 11 miles into the race (and at the longest distance she'd yet run!), her steps were quick and light.

I'd hate to use the word "hardcore" here again, but c'mon: Girlfrien' has some wheels on her!

*snaps fingers above head twice*

She complained about a sore hamstring that's been bugging her the past few months, so I gave her an ibuprofen which did the trick in a matter of minutes, and down, down we went, hitting the final aid station with 2.5 miles to go. I knew then that our time was going to be excellent, most definitely under 3:30, and even though her legs were beat to death, Ann pushed and ran every last flat and downhill we encountered, without so much a word of encouragement to do so.

I wish there was a word to describe someone with this sort of tenacity, strength and will...."hard"-something would work...

The last 1.5 miles of the course are punishing: Nearly all uphill, save for a stretch of flats, but on she ran, steady as a clock. As we broke out of the woods, I described to her how much further we had and what to expect; that we'd hit the asphalt road and climb to the parking area where the finish is. Still cheery, we joked some more, and I have to say, I have never laughed as much or as hard as I did during this race. Face it: She's hysterical, even under physical diress. And covered in dust and sweat. With a little bit of chocolate Gu on her chin.

We trotted up the final incline, took a hard turn with about 150 yards left to go. That's when I asked: "How much have you got left?"

"Yeah?" she smiled, picking up the pace. "Yeah?" she asked again, and sped up even more.

She crossed the finish just ahead of me in 3:21! Unreal!

We ate some pizza, downed a Coke, and before we knew it, were on our way back to my place for Indian food and showers.

While I was out picking up the food, my apartment manager shut off the building's water as Ann stood in the shower, conditioner in her hair. She currently is slumped, knocked out on my bed, with a head full of dried conditioner.

That's hardcore.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Keep on movin'

I just checked the race's site, and HOLY SHITE, they moved the s'umbitch!!!

It's been a horribly dry year out west, and the forestry-folk couldn't guarantee that the National Forest wouldn't be closed due to fire-safety hazards, so the RDs have shuffled the race course to the Cuyamaca Mountains , up the road a piece. It appears to have a bit smaller elevation gain/loss, which is lovely, BUT, instead of the race being out 50/back 50, I'll now be running two, 50 mile loops! Gah!

Good news: Save for my sister , my crew/pacers are supposed to meet with me this week so I can debrief them.

Bad news: I have no idea what to tell them.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

OMFG I ALMOST DIEDED!!111!!

Seriously, I had an experience yesterday that was soul-shaking...

I decided to run an out and back totaling 25-27 miles on mountain trails as one of my two final, big motherfuggin' runs before my taper. Let's face it: It's hot. Scary hot, all over. I'll spare us all the lectures about global this-and-that and eco-somethin'-DeCaprio/Gore, but it's blazing out there for us all. I scoped the weather for Santa Monica, location of my planned mountain run, and saw that it was to top off at a comfortable 78f degrees on Saturday.

I arrived at the trailhead fully prepped: It was 8:45 AM, 68 degrees. I had with me my trusty Nathan pack (holds 2 liters of water), my UD handheld (20 oz) filled with Perpetuum, 5 Gus, and 3 Clif bars. Seriously: What could go wrong?

*cue creepy, decending music sting*

The first 2 1/2 hours went amazingly. My legs were strong, so strong that I had to reel in my pace quite a few times. I was drinking, fueling, singing, sailing, and when I reached my turnaround point at Will Rogers trailhead (mile 14 or so), I filled my pack and bottle, rested a minute or three, and trotted back up the steep ascents without so much as a care in the world.

*cue creepy, descending music sting*

The sun rose in the canyons and not an ounce of shade was provided. I continued along, happy as could be, sucking down fluids, muching on gels, when I felt the first blast hit:

I'm irritable.

This is the first sign of dehydration for me. Actually, the very first sign was that I'd downed about 60 ounces of fluids (with electrolytes) and hadn't peed more than once in 2 hours. The sun beamed down upon me like God's searchlight as I trotted up the steeps and glided down the descents.

My handheld went empty. "No worries", I thought, as I had at least 1 1/2 liters of water in my pack, and several bars awaiting my consumption.

Then it hit: THE heat.

Temps topped off at *92*, far above the predicted 78 degrees. I guzzled from my water pack. I revelled in the shade. At one point, I lay back and chewed on a powerbar, looking out at the mountains, smiling and humming in the shade of an Oak.

I had no idea.

Within 30 minutes more of running, my pack's water bladder emptied! I STILL hadn't peed, now at 3 1/2 hours, even with heavy fluids and electrolytes. I found myself on familiar singletrack that is rarely traversed by hikers and mountain bikers, and that's when the panic hit:

Oh MAN. I'm ALONE and starting to feel woozy.

My cell had zero reception. I thought of calling Ann to tell her to contact the rangers that I'd be looking for a ride but had no available service. My head began swimming. I downed a gel and drank down the last drop of my fluids to chase it.

I was confused an irrational. Whenever I opened my mouth to talk myself down, I slurred my words and couldn't think of others. I remember consciously thinking about being airlifted, about IV fluids, about collapsing in a heap on the trail to be found dead days later.

Then, I slapped myself out of it and faced the reality: I had 4 miles left. I had been running for 4+ hours and had several more to go, no water, and in this heat, I knew few hikers/cyclists would be out. Without water in the next 30 minutes, I'd be screwed.

Press on, Russ. Press on, I told myself.

I kept hiking/shuffling.

My lips were dried like raisins. I emerged from the singletrack to the familiar jeep trails, hoping to find help. No one. A single biker loomed in the distance. I screamed, "HEY!". He turned his head, paused, and pedalled on over a ridge.

Shit, Russ. Press on.

I focused only on left, right, repeat. Other negative thoughts treaded water outside my mind, but I pushed them aside and focused on the matter at hand: Find hikers, get water, get to the trailhead, kick my own ass for not being prepared.

I tromped down a loooooong series of switchbacks and came to a junction where I knew I'd find some sign of life...and I DID! I saw a handsome man about 200 yards ahead.

"Hey! HEY! i'm behind you!!!!!" I rasped, at the top of my lungs.

I sprinted up the trail and saw a group of 5 hikers with him about 20 yards ahead.

"HEY!!!! WATER!!!!!"

They paused, and then I remembered the magic word that captures any human being's attention.

"HELP!"

The incredibly sweet family on a day hike supplied me with 2, 16 oz water bottles and well-wishes. I assured them I was going to be fine (I was sure I was lying) and sent them on their way down a different trail.

1.25, VERY EXPOSED MILES, to go.

I ascended the jeep road, more coherent but exhausted (the bars in my pack sounded less than satisfying) when a hiker approached. I weighed the option of asking him to get a ranger, but then, he offered me his water.

His name was Adrian; a young guy on vacation from Seattle, who was on a day hike. He poured his water into my handheld and kept my attention, letting me hear his history as an athlete, understanding of my situation, and awe at what I'd accomplished for the day. Then, he muttered those magic words I had no idea I needed to hear:

"Do you want some juice?"

I imagine my eyes shot out from my head when he asked. I guzzled down his "fruit juice" box, chatted with him a few minutes longer, and suddenly, I felt like myself for the 1st time in an hour. I stood and said, "I gotta move on."

Adrian shook my hand and smiled. "No problem, dude. Karma. It's all downhill from here."

My brain recovering, I replied, "Next time, it will be me helping you. Promise."

I (painfully) shuffled my way to my car where I refilled my water bottle, drank my carb-replacement mix, and sat in the shade. And lost my iPod Shuffle. Meh. They still sell 'em. No biggy.

I learned many lessons that day, about myself, about being over-prepared for long runs, and about the amazing brotherhood that is humankind.

To the man that sat with me on the trail, comforting me, keeping a watchful eye, I say to you, from the bottom of my soul, thank you. And I quote from Rocky 2:

"YO ADRIAN! I DID IT!"

Friday, August 17, 2007

I was introduced to Holly by my friend Julie, who, I've mentioned, was the kick in my ass that got me rolling in the world of running. Holly is a fantastic physical therapist; laid back, personable, funny, and possesses the singlemost important trait a PT could offer me:

She doesn't tell me that running ultras is stupid.

This morning, I went for my second visit with her, just for a tune-up. I expect to be stretched and rubbed by her at least once more before the 100, and as I lay stretched on her table, her fingers drilling into my tweaked lower back muscles (I bent over last night to pick up my laundry basket and - surprise!), I remembered something I learned in massage therapy school a few years ago:

Take care of yourself. Nuture yourself. Be soft to your personal needs, and this, in affect, will soften you to the needs of others.

Too often, we're in a million places all at once, instead of within ourselves. We tell ourselves we "aren't good enough", that we failed, that next time we have to "try harder".

I had a dream the other night: I was in a pool, doing laps. Now, as you may or may not know, I'm a lousy swimmer. In the dream, I was trying to remember all of the stroke form-stuff I'd read, looked at, watched on DVD, etc, and I was clunky in the water; slogging along, out of rhythm. Then, suddenly, I relaxed in the water. My stroke became fluid, even, my hips rocking back and forth and at one point, my feet never once flutter kicked, yet I stayed afloat with arms long and languid.

I finished this peaceful lap, turned in the lane, and started back towards the other end of the pool, and at that moment, my dream went from 1st person to 3rd person. I saw my body softly gliding along the water's surface, gentle, calm, and at peace.

We all find ourselves beneath the water; thrashing, trying to stay afloat, battling the current, when all we need to do is relax, float to the surface, and enjoy the experience.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I've been tagged by Steph, so here goes...

Job's I've Held: Oh God. This is gonna be weird...

Comedian, children's show performer, barista, TV writer/producer, production assistant, bartender/juicemaker, boardgame question writer, Tshirt silk screener (2 days!), sandwich maker, freelance massage therapist...and I imagine there are more if I put my brain into it.

Movies I can Watch Over & Over

This Is Spinal Tap, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Young Frankenstein, Running on the Sun

Guilty Pleasures

Painting my toes and wearing sundresses.

Places I Have Lived

Chicago, Nashville, Los Angeles

Shows I Enjoy

I don't have television, but I love MASH, The Prisoner, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Office, Extras, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiam.

Vacation Spots

Seattle, England, Scotland, Ireland

Favorite Foods

This regulary changes, but one constant remains:

Bacon double cheeseburger

Websites I Visit Daily

coolrunning.com, all of your blogs, flickr.com, and I can waste countless hours on wikipedia.

Body Parts I have Injured

plantar fascitis (left foot), sciatica (right leg), I struggle with both knees with tendonitis, and strained my ITB (right leg).

All the aches and pains: Ain't nothing free!

Awards I've Won

I got a trophy for the Pinewood Derby in Cub Scouts...but I think they gave one to everyone.

Nicknames I've Been Called

Rusty, Ralph, and "NICE DRIVING, *SSHOLE!!!!!"

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

photo by Ann


I've been wanting to tip my hat to a special someone, and why not now? I mean, the internet is always open.

My friend Bud, ultrarunner extraordinaire, wrote to me today (responding to a panicked email with the theme of: SHIT, AM I READY TO DO 100 MILES?!?!?!?) with:

This is a selfish endeavor. Dayle (his wife)
puts up with my long training hours and my being tired
afterwards, my many meals of carbohydrates - I owe her big time for putting up
with all this stuff.


I would like to take this moment to thank my girlfriend, Ann. Not only has she been patient with early weekend wakeups (we've delayed only 2 Sunday runs until late afternoon so we could actually have a weekend day together), and not only has she dealt with my bouts with irritability, aches, pains, and other nonsense due to overtraining, she has also joined me for nearly every weekend back-to-back long run I've done in the past 4 months.

This woman has also been there cheering me home for 2 ultras, snapping amazing photos along the way to document my idiocy.

She's trotted alongside me (and vomited alongside me) for many-a-run, is running with me for at least 13 of the final miles of the 100; nerds out about nutrition, hydration, pace, and what the online splits are for the Hardrock and Badwater races, talks me out of anxieties, freaks out with me about the unknowns of racing high mileage, pats my back when called for, and kicks my ass when needed.

Ann: You are an amazing woman and a dear and wonderful partner. I realize that what I'm putting myself through affects not only me but you and our relationship. Please know: I appreciate your patience, your understanding, your love for me AND your enthusiasm.

You believe in me and my dreams. Thank you.

So let's poop our shorts together at mile 96 in celebration. Whaddya say?

Saturday, August 4, 2007




On my quest to avoid any-and-all catastrophes during the race, I'm now experimenting with sockwear. Normally, I wear black or dark grey technical socks, most of which are advertised as "trail running" socks, in that...well, they're dark and don't show dirt, I imagine.

A couple of weeks ago, I bought 2 pairs of Injinji socks, which have have separated toes, to avoid rubbing and, thusly, blistering. Not being tough enough of a kid to pull off these when they hit the scene in the 70's, this was my feet's virgin journey into the 5-toed unknown.

Once on, I couldn't stop laughing.

I wriggled my toes and yelped: "MY FEET ARE WEARING GLOVES!" and "THEY'RE NOT TOES, THEY'RE FINGERS!", and "I SHOULDN'T BE ABLE TO SEE MY TOES, BUT I CAN!"

Today was my second run in them, and I really do enjoy the comfort they provide: No chafing, and if dirt does manage to get into my sock, the grit doesn't rub in between my sweaty toes.

However, about 2 1/2 hours into today's 4 hour run, a pebble worked it's way into my shoe. Having forgotten what my sock of choice was, I removed my shoe, looked down, and started cackling as I flexed my 5 little piggies in their individual blankets.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

It's official!

The list.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

I love running trails. I do. And if you've been following me, I know you know this: The fresh air, the beautiful views, time away from technology and the modern day; only my shoes, my water and my will to deal with...

...well, those things and the decapitated deer head I came across.

Obviously the prey of a local mountain lion, I turned a switchback to discover the severed, and severely gnawed upon, head of a deer this morning on the trail's edge. No signs of struggle were apparent, nor was the remainder of the deer. Ann and I actually spent 10 minutes discussing how the head would have wound up on the trail and concluded that the lion was most likely trying to pull the head from the body and eventually did, violently tossing it from the ridge above to the trail below in the process.

It was quite the violent scene to come across but also served as a sobering reminder of what life in the wild involves.

Ain't no Burger King in the woods, kids.

Well, eventually, there will be. Right beside the Jamba Juice and the Starbucks.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Badwater

OK, so the 2nd/3rd-ish sporting event I follow per year started yesterday at 6AM.

Badwater

Jorge Pacheco, who held a strong lead (and who has kicked my ass on many-occassion on training runs and in races alike ) has dropped to 3rd somewhere around the 130 mile mark, and it looks good for Valmir Nunes to take Scott Jurek's Badwater record and destroy it: He's on course to break 24 hours, which is unheard of!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

As promised, I took my new pal Nathan out for a spin on Saturday.

Go ahead and read the description on the web page; please note the existence of an ultra runner named "Dana 'Mud n' Guts' Miller". I can only assume he didn't deem himself "Mud n' Guts", which brings to my attention: When you're a famous athlete, do you get saddled with a nickname, no matter how little you personally find it applicable to your persona? What if Dana is a member of Up With People (making him him quite the talented minstrel)? Golfer Jack Nicklaus most certainly didn't pick "Golden Bear" himself, did he? If so, did he have ANY idea what a "bear" means to a member of the gay community? And his being "Golden": wouldn't that make having sex with him, like, winning the Oscar of the bear sect?

I digress.

LOVE the pack! Zero bounce, plenty of storage (I packed in my cell, 4 Gu's, 1 Clif Bar, 3 electrolyte capsules and had plenty of room left over), and constructed with lightweight material that kept it much cooler than a camelback.

I was out for 3 hours, 42 minutes with it and a handheld, and I had fluids still remaining when I finished. My only issue is that the back of my shirt kept rising up periodically as it bunched up beneath the pack, but this was easily resolved by tucking in the back of my shirt (GENIUS!).

Also, I had yet another shoe-blowout: After 3 weeks, my Asics 2120 trail shoe's sole peeled right off, just like the Sauconys! The hell is going on here?

I actually blamed global warming last night, on a myriad of levels. I'll spare the details.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Okay, trail geeks, yesterday I received my Nathan hydration pack, and it's embarrassing to admit, I tore open the packaging like a rabid dog on a toddler, strapped it on, and went ballistic with excitement.

"LOOK AT ALL THE STORAGE POUCHES AND OMFG IT HOLDS SO MUCH WATER AND THERE'S NO FRICTION WITH THE STRAPS!!!111!!!"

I'm giving 'er a try this weekend on a 4 hour run. A full review will follow.

Also, I received this email the other day:

Denis to me Jul 16 (4 days ago)
Russ,

Thanks for your application. Will you be going to the Pre Race Dinner? Please reply to this email.

Denis T.


My confirmation for the SD100! Holy shite, it's for realz, yo!

Whoa: I'm so excited, I said "for realz, yo!".

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

During my run this morning, I was passed on a steep uphill climb by about 15 cross-country high school runners. Their 30-ish feet thundered past me at an impressive pace, and I recalled my school years as an athlete:

I was never an athlete.

In fact, when I was 5, my gym teacher, Ms. Neibher, told my mom that I "wasn't competitive". We're talking dodgeball and cartwheels here.

In high school, I opted out of gym class my junior and senior years and took a study hall instead...which I ditched with impressive regularity. I suppose I got a psuedo-workout trying to evade the Truancy Officers.

In college, I gained about 10 pounds due to frequent inactivity and continued to avoid exercise at all costs. Finally, at 21, I began hitting the gym, dropped the weight, and kept active with weights and cardio machines. I'd reckon to guess I logged about 10 miles/week on treadmills and the like.

Then, 3 years ago this past April, I met my friend Julie, who had, just 2 days earlier, run the LA Marathon. As she hobbled in to the story editors room, I voiced my amazement that anyone could run a marathon. Her reply?

"You kidding me? You could run one."

And that's all it took.

10 months later, I ran my first 50k. 6 weeks later, I ran the LA Marathon. I guess she was right.

So, from an incredibly unathletic past, I now find myself regularly finishing in the top 25% of the pack in ultras. Kind of amazing.

Maybe I'll give Ms. Neibher a jingle and see if she wants to hit the track with me sometime.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A watershed moment:

Last night, Ann and I walked down my street to Cafe Stella. It's a beautiful French joint with excellent food, atmosphere...and Chimas on tap.

Work has been stressful for us both, so we let loose: Ahi tuna and steak were ordered, beers were poured...more beers were poured...and then we poured ourselves onto my sofa, watched the Badwater doc "Running on the Sun", capped off the night with a whiskey and turned in, knowing full-well that 7 hours later, my alarm would be ringing and we'd be heading to Temescal Canyon for our respective 2 hour and 2 1/2 hour runs.

You can guess where this is going.

We both cracked our eyelids at 8:15 and uttered, "Unnnnnghhhhh...". The Hangover Fairy had payed a visit! Hurrah! Dragging ourselves out the door, coffees and homemade breakfast sandwiches in tow, we drove to the ocean, hit the trailhead, and realized, "Oh SHIT, this is gonna suck ass!"

It hurt SO BAD. SO.BAD. We ran together for about 30 minutes before I realized, "Man, if I puked, I'd feel a helluvalot better." I told Ann, to which she replied, "Me too! If I hear you puking, I can puke too!"

This is the part where it gets gross. And surreal. But mostly gross.

I ambled off to one side of the trail and gave it a go. Just water. Dammit! Ann, however, had great luck digging deep and getting out most of her breakfast. I was actually jealous of her puke. So I gave it another go. More water. Shit.

Somehow, we separately completed our runs. All I could do when I finished my 15 or so miles was sit on the curb beside the car and shake my head at how stupid I'd been. We then consumed McDonald's cheeseburgers and ice cream because it was the blandest, saltiest, greasiest thing we could think of eating.

Quite a defining moment in our relationship, to say the least.

SCOTT JUREK WINS!!!!

A new course record at Hardrock, beating Karl Meltzer by many-a-neck!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Hardrock 100

The runners are off - Jurek, Denesik, and Meltzer are neck and neck. My friend Bud's about halfway down the field!

Insane!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Today marks 100 days until my first 100 mile race - kinda cool to say, eh? I suppose the fact that I can never say that again (without being a complete liar, I suppose) kind of astounds me; how I've planned, trained, taken slow steps towards this goal, and now the magic 2 digit countdown begins only hours from now.

I'm pausing to reflect: How do I feel? Anxious? At times. Prepared? Not quite yet. I've got at least two 40-50 mile long runs I want to hit prior to the race. Scared? I'd be a massive liar if I didn't say yes. Excited? Again, massively lying if no was my answer.

I fully expect to machine-gun-through all of those and the other ten thousand emotions out there on the trail come October.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Had a fantastic 22-23 miler yesterday, starting out at the famed Will Rogers trailhead (thank you, George Michael, for making the bathrooms here so world famous), traversing the Santa Monicas to Trippet Ranch in Topanga Canyon, and heading back, all in 3 hrs 45 mns.

What's great about running near the ocean is the temps tend to stay about 8-10 degrees cooler than where I live, just east of Hollywood, and the marine layer hangs around to provide cover pretty much until 2:00pm, which yesterday, it did ever-so-nicely.

As I wrapped it up around 12:30 (yeah, I actually kept my promise to hit the trails earlier than usual on a weekend), I was washing off my feet and toweling away the caked on layers of salt, when another runner, obviously done conquering the hills, strolled up to the water fountain.

Asked I, "How long did you go today?"

Him: "About 8 miles. How about you?"

"I think about 22.5, but I'm not sure."

His eyes swelled: "What?"

Me: "Well, I just dropped an application for a 100 miler in 3 months in the mail, so I can't mess around."

Him: "Ohhhh...you're one of them."

"Them" meaning "ultrarunners". I had yet to have been told I was crazy by another runner, and truth be told, I'd been waiting for this day for years.

Being called crazy never felt so good.

Thursday, July 5, 2007




Here we go!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Sunday, I was running at Temescal Cyn, beneath a canopy of trees that lead you to - when we aren't in a drought - a lovely waterfall, I saw a woman standing in the middle of the singletrack. I yelled, "Comin' up!", and she scooted to one side, and that's when I saw her sternly speaking to a large-ish man who had backed as far away from her as possible. He truly looked like a 6 year old caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Or playing Wii out of turn. Times have changed after all.

It's then when I smelled smoke.

"Are you smoking?!" she demanded as I trotted past them.

This hiker, a mere 8 miles from ground zero of the Griffith Park fires, in an area of forest that's seen 2 inches of rain in the past year, decided to, during his commue wih nature, light up. The young lady was still laying into him as I climbed beyond them. I figured the point was being made, so I continued up while yelling over my shoulder for him to please extinguish his cigarette.

Every weekday morning when I drive my way into Griffith Park for my morning runs, I am still awed by what has happened and what is left behind. I posted awhile ago, on a different blog, immediately following the fires, my reflections on what had happened. I include it below with one added memory:

In the past 24 hours, I've watched over 800 acres of Griffith Park burn. The footage and photos are devastating to LA residents and confusing to others across the country ("What? There's a park in the middle of Los Angeles?"). Throughout the myriad of feelings I feel welling up inside of me, I'm pausing to reflect on a park that, over the last 3 + years, I've run - literally - thousands of miles in.

Once, I encountered a homeless man, beard to his waist, carrying a cardboard suitcase, sloughing up an incredibly steep incline. I remember considering, "Lucky bastard - what a great place to live!"

Another time, I came across a cross-country high school runner who'd strained her Achilles tendon during a group run and was camped out in the shade, wincing in pain. Another runner and I advised her, "No running for 6-8 weeks." She replied, "Bullshit!", and we both understood where she was coming from.

Time and again, I found myself being passed on the Griffith trails by ultra running champion Jorge Pacheco, who nearly broke the 100 mile world record, missing it by less than ONE minute(!). His wife, Maria Lemus - another ultra running machine prone to running Griffith - and I eventually began to recognize one another. At the Avalon 50 miler this past January, while walking past her on my way to the hotel, she smiled and said, "Hey - HI!"

I recall a week prior to Christmas, running my 2nd long run of the weekend (of 3 hours, preceeded by Saturday's 4 hour run), out in the woods as the sun began to set behind the peaks and hills. I clomped along The Old Zoo trail as darkness settled in and heard the caressing voice of Nat King Cole singing "The Christmas Song" as I looked down the ravine at the park's mile-long display of Christmas lights.

My first 2 rattlesnake sightings were at Griffith. Actually, one week ago, for the first time, a rattler shook it's tail at me. You don't forget that shit, let me tells ya.

One morning, bright and early, 2 men on horseback approached me and wished me a good morning as I stepped aside. Once they were clear, I started again to realize that one of the riders, bearded, wearing a baseball cap, was one Steven Spielberg.

2 years ago, during my first run over 3 hours, I stopped after a steep ascent and squatted at a trail's edge, completely out of gas and an emotional trainwreck. I said to myself, "What - are you gonna live here?" and hoisted my body back up, continuing another half hour to push through, possibly, the most emotional moment I've had as a runner.

I know the next time I strap my shoes on, grab my water bottle, and hit the trails in Griffith, I will not see what I'm used to seeing. It probably will be shocking, stirring, disturbing, and absolutely amazing.

I also know that from death, something more beautiful can - and will - emerge.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Word of warning:

My new trail Sauconys completely died last weekend, with only about 300 miles on them. I'm not talking, "I was getting aches in my joints, so I knew I needed new shoes." No. The soles were completely tearing away from the rest of the shoe.

I miss my Asics Trabucos.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

During all of the "controversy" (there truly isn't) surrounding Dean Karnazes
and his feats, motivations, etc, I stumbled across this trailer for a documentary that will hopefully finish editing this fall.

This resonates with me because of my own mother's battle with breast cancer and how I have drawn from that fight time and again as I trudge along, hurting during a painful ultra.

Karnazes has been quoted time and again that he wants to see what the human body is capable of accomplishing. I'm coming to discover that I'm more interested in the human spirit's endless possibilities.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Had two insanely fun runs this weekend. Today's was a particular ass-kicker. After 18 miles in the mountains yesterday, Ann and I hit a new trail today. Well, it's new to us. I don't think someone dug out Zuma Canyon into the sides of the Santa Monicas last week.

The description of the network of trails claims "easy" for the mostpart. Ann and I huffed this word repeatedly in between fits of panting as we climbed higher and higher in elevation, sweat pouring off of us, switchback-upon-switchback offering us new and exciting ways to destroy one's calves and quads.

Sighted during today's run:

• One family, father, mother, daughter, running at breakneck speed

• Two deer

• One blonde-haired man, with jet black handlebar mustache

• One girl in orange bikini, hiking.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

There are 2 sporting events/year that I follow: The webcasts for Badwater and Western States.

Good luck, runners!

Monday, June 18, 2007

There is this bizarre situation that occurs sometimes on trails. I can't quite finger it, but it does exist: The "non-nod"; aka, "I don't see you even though there are only 2 of us on the trail" moment.

This Saturday, I ran Temescal Cyn, and on Sunday, Will Rogers Park. Saturday was a lovely, hilly 2 hr, 45 mn run, and Sunday, a sweet, 90 mn dash before work (yes, on a Sunday - did I mention that I LOVE working in TV?). On both days, I encountered "non-nodders" and "non-hello-ers".

I tend to get out to remote trails on my runs, so when, after 30 minutes of pounding along alone, I come across someone else on the trail, I normally blurt out an enthusiastic "Hi!" as I approach fellow human beings marching along on their own, separate adventures. But, yet, on these specific trails, I'm usually met with a lack of eye contact and silence.

I suppose it's a strange sight, to see someone scrambling up a hill, covered in salt, gripping a water bottle or three, and huffing a, "Hey!". It's most likely off-putting. But seriously: A simple smile? A nod? Ummmm...a wink and a fart?

Nada, for the most part.

I loved my back-to-back long runs this weekend. I just hope the frowny dude I passed in the light blue Polo shirt, Dockers, and bluetooth cellphone earpiece had equally as much fun.

Saturday: App'x 17 hill miles.

Sunday: App'x 8 hilly miles

Friday, June 15, 2007

Today, I repeated yesterday's idiocy, except this time with a USMC dude at Elysian Park.

The hilly run that normally takes me 53 mns was reduced to 50 mns thanks to my, "I HAVE TO BEAT HIM OMFG!!!!" attitude.

Thank God tomorrow's an off day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Yesterday: A nice, hilly, 1 hour run at Elysian Park.

Today: I hit Griffith Park. Part of the trails around the golf course are open (none of the hiking trails are as of yet), but I got some amazing views of the burned out areas. Holy shyte! The hills are BARREN in some spots. Truly beautiful, in such a strange way.

I also nearly had my ass handed to me: As I was tying my shoe at the start of my run, a 20-something woman ran past me at a pretty good clip, so I decided I'd have to chase and pass her. Turning the corner after 50 feet, I saw that she'd met up with another, young woman running, and they were both pushing their pace, so I had to floor it. I managed to pass them and slide ahead (running about a sub-7 mn mile) when I heard them talking:

"How did you do?"

"I ran a 17:08...I was happy."

"Great! Last year, I did it in 17:38."

This is when it dawns on me: They're talking about their 5k times. To put it in perspective, my 5k PR is 20:12 or so. So now I'm ahead of track stars. And I'm not about to let them pass.

I keep my pace and tell myself this is now a tempo run and I'll flip around at 23:30 to do a 45 mn speed run. BUT THEY'RE STILL RIGHT ON MY ASS, about 50 yards behind me...and they're still capable of having a conversation.

I scramble. I push. My legs are burning and my breath is coming in gulps, but I keep up the pace and flip around at the designated time. I pass by them within 20 seconds, turning my legs over even faster, trying to look relaxed as my heart is about to pop out from my ribcage.

I finished the run in 45:33, figuring I ran about 6.5 miles total.

I can't move.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Saturday, Ann and I headed to Topanga Canyon for our long runs. There is some singletrack towards the back of the mountainous park that I love to run, although the 2 times I've run it alone, I've both heard and seen mountain lions.

We ran the first uphill mile together and then I headed up the next massive incline to Eagle Rock, a lookout point that hangs roughly 200 feet over a side of one of the hills. I dashed ahead to scope out the singletrack entrance, and by the time I was back, Ann was stopped, drinking from her handheld, so we turned our toes to the entrance and hopped in.

Each time I've run it, the trail is under-maintained, as no one really hikes back there that often, so our faces were constantly swiped at by branches and the like. We whizzed down the switchbacks, laughing like 2 kids playing in the woods the entire way down into the canyon, where I told Ann that the climbs back out can be rough and pretty steep. She told me to run ahead, that she'd likely hike up most the climbs. I warned her that she might want some of my water (I had one bottle filled with water, the other with Gu20), but she declined, stating she had plenty. After asking if she wanted another gelpack or some of a Clif Bar, she pointed out she already had a Gu and demanded that I to go ahead and have fun, so off I took...completely paranoid about running into one of my 4-pawed "old pals".

Of course, I sang to myself the entire run up, clapping my hands, yelling out to the lions that I'm rather lean and stringy, nothing worth pouncing on. And then, the piles started: Piles of lion scat, in total about 10, all over the trail for the next 2 miles.

I ran the rest of the 15k course and tacked on an extra 3-4 miles at the end (a total of around 14 miles), finishing in 2 hrs, 15 mns. Sitting for no more than 5 minutes, I saw Ann trudging down the trail toward the car, shaking her head. She'd bonked, HARDcore. I grabbed a Gu from my bag and handed her a Clif bar. Within 10 minutes, she was less shaky but exhausted. This was easily her toughest run to date, and once I got over the feeling that I almost killed her with it, we hit In and Out for 2 celebratory double-doubles, fries, and Cokes.

Sunday, I hit Temescal Canyon for 1 hour, 30 mns of intense hill running by myself: Sunny skies, ocean breezes, and dead quads.

Whatta weekend.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Cross-trained yesterday at el gym. Damn, it KILLS me when I have to hit the moving steps and treadmill. I sometimes look around me in wonderment at all the people strapped to these machines, not training for anything in particular, and realize they're here every day, moving in place. I guess it beats sprawling out on the sofa and jamming your face with Chips Ahoy! brand cookies.

mmmm...Chips Ahoy! brand cookies...

Today, on my 1 hour, 5 mn run on Elysian's trails (Griffith Park is basically closed indefinitely for now), I turned a switchback (above the 5 freeway, as explained previously) and, from the corner of my eye, saw a giant, golden and brown figure about 10 feet ahead. It was only when it expanded is 6 foot wing span that I realized I'd just come across a hawk, easily the size of my torso! It spread it's wings and took off upon seeing me, drifting about 20 feet away, 100 feet above the freeway below; soaring, soaring, unmoving...

I remembered then running into a hiker at Griffith Park earlier in the year, and as we stood and watched another massive hawk float gently on the whipping winds, he said:

"Sometimes I have to watch hawks in their effortlessness to remind myself to stop fighting and let go."

This came at a profound time in my life and has stuck with me ever since.

By the way: The hell was that hawk looking for food-wise over the 5 freeway?

Ah: Minicoopers.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

It's here: June Gloom. Overcast all day, with the feeling that it could drizzle any second, although it never will. I personally love it, because it's the last rest stop on the freeway towards HOT FUCKING SUMMER VILLAGE.

I ran beneath the grey skies in Elysian Park, 53 minutes, just under 7 miles on rolling hills with a few, abusive ups and downs. I'm gaining strength and speed again, closing in on the fitness level I had prior to the Avalon 50, but I'm very consciously cranking my long runs up and then backing off every other weekend.

Wow, it's like I'm *thinkin'* or somethin'!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

mskpfgqph9rg89w9rhth3

Today, I am beat. I believe it's the culmination of jet lag, yesterday's 3 hour mountain run, and shots of Irish whiskey last evening, but today's 4 mile recovery run was an ass-kicker. I began thinking about how the final 10 miles of the 100 might feel.

Also, my friend Bud has planted the thought of running Hardock - one of the toughest 100 milers in existence - in my head next year. Bastard.

Me need sleepy-time-now, kthnxbye.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Tonight, on "Lost"

It finally happened: the inevitable. I've been running 30+ miles per week for over 3 years, trails being a major portion of that. I've headed out for 4 to 5 hour runs, alone, in unknown, unmapped territory, with only a handheld bottle and pockets filled with Gu packets. I've encountered rattlesnakes, mountain lions, coyote, and the single most dreaded sight on the trails....Cub Scouts. And yet, up until today, I'd never completely lost my bearings to the point of utter confusion.

Best of all, this happened at Malibu Creek Park, a park filled with trails that I've traversed countless times, twice during 25k races. And yet, at the end of my planned 14 mile, 2 hour, 20 mn run, I found myself confounded as to the whereabouts of the final 3 mile singletrack I'd run so many times. I even asked a passing family if they knew where the main trailhead was, but received only a, "Well...we parked right there," as they pointed to their SUV, sitting at another, smaller lot. Not to mention that earlier, right around mile 7, I continued up a climbing trail that dead-ended and had to back track about 1.5 miles to the turnoff I'd missed, tossing on another 3 miles. This, on a run that hands you 2,000+ feet of climbing.

I finally shot myself out onto the canyon 2 lane road and trucked up to the next parking lot, which I recognized from prior races as the final sight before the finish 2 miles later. At this point, I'd hit the wall, big time, probably at mile 15 of incredibly hard running, knowing my water supply was shot as I baked beneath the noonday sun. I was forced to walk-run the last mile, but of course hauled ass the final 50 feet, so the local hikers could be amazed by me...or something.

Planned run: 14 miles, at around 2 hours, 20 mns

Actual run: About 17 miles, finishing in 3 hours, 8 mns.

Das fotos




Some pics of the run sites:

Me, at the trailhead, after running Diamond Hill in the Connemaras, sweat still visible. After looking up distance and elevation, I've discovered that no one is very sure of the actual climb and distance of this hill. People estimate it ranges from between a 400 to 500 meter climb (only about 1/3 of a mile) and 7 kilometers in distance (about 4.3 miles). *cough* bullshit *cough*.




Also pictured is the service station where muscley-Mark pointed us towards the Burren run. His left quad barely fit through the front door.

Friday, June 1, 2007

I...have...returned

If you've never experienced proper jet-lag (anything over 4 hours, I'd say), it's difficult to describe, but I'm running on basically coffee and fumes at the moment, even after 11 hours of sleep, so here's some bullet-pointed run description from Ireland:

• Thursday: Ran 40 mns around St. Stephens Green in Dublin, a 1/2 mile loop. Yes, I was bored, but watching the junior high school-aged kids makeout and the homeless smoke joint upon joint kept me fairly amused. App'x 5.5 miles.

• Friday: Ann and I found Phoenix park, about a 2 mile run from our hotel. It's roughly 6 times the size of Central Park, with rolling singletrack trails that I ran for about 1:10. Deer? Oh yeah - I saw about 8 of them 10 feet off the trail, snacking on their hind legs from the tree branches. A cricket team was also practising on one of the freshly groomed fields. We ran back in a cool drizzle along the River Liffey through rushhour pedestrians.

• Sunday: In Galway, ran about 9-10 miles along the Atlantic Ocean inlet, total time, 1:22. Galway's water was tainted by parasites similar to the ones that plague Mexican water, so I used my handheld contents sparingly, since refilling at local water fountains would have caused a massive attack of the irish version of "Montezuma's Revenge"...although a fair amount of Jameson would have the same effect.

• Monday: Run in the Connemara Mountains, to the north and west of Galway. Holy. Mudder. Oaf. Gawd. I still have to check the elevation changes, but at one point, I was power-hiking up a sheer cliff for about 20 minutes, only to descend the same steepness for about 15 minutes straight down. Ann and I split off about 12 minutes into the run, but the loop we ran was somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 miles, so I tacked on another, smaller loop for an extra 1.5-2 miles. Quad-busting.

The Burren: It's like another planet: Rocky, rolling...just plain bizarre. At our hotel in Lisdoonvarna, we asked the hotel manager if she knew where we could go on a trail run. Her reponse: "Hell if I know, but ask 'Mark' at the service station." We ambled to the service station to find Mark, and when he emerged from the garage, we knew we'd found a goldmine of info on running: The guy was SOLID muscle. Seriously. His quads were as big around as my waist...excentuated by the incredibly short, cutoff pants he was wearing.

After quizzing us as to our skill level, he sent us on a 6 mile loop through the burren, and it was GORGEOUS. Running towards the sea as the sun set, we could see castle ruins in silhouette along the Atlantic as a dog raced up from behind us, keeping pace with us for 2 miles. We bonked hard (probably from the day prior's intense climbing) around mile 4 and shuffled back to the hotel for showers, beers, and steak and Guinness stew and chicken and mushroom pie.

All in all, whatta trip. And now, to drag my ass out of my apartment and walk about LA in a zombie-like state.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tomorrow...to the Emerald Isle!

Today, for my last LA run until next week Thursday (or Friday, depending on jet-lag), I headed over to La Tuna Canyon, located about 8 miles north and 2 miles west from me. I'd tackled the steep climbs on my mountain bike a few months ago and really enjoyed the amazing, fast gain the trail features (roughly 1,000 feet in about 3.5 miles).

I ran the switchbacks at a conservative pace and climbed into the low clouds that had yet to burn off at that altitude. I'd say the temps dropped a good 5 degrees from the trailhead to the peak where I stopped to enjoy the view before turning back. I said a quiet goodbye to Los Angeles from my turnaround point and hustled back down the mountain, finishing in 1 hour, 17 mns. When I got to my car, I removed my shoes to knock out a few pebbles and was greeted with a handful of dog shit.

I guess that's LA's way of wishing me bon voyage.

Monday, May 21, 2007

ah, the DREADmill

Technically, I didn't run on the hamster wheel today, but as I'm flying out to Ireland Wednesday and will most likely only get in a short run Thursday, I thought I'd do some quick cross training today at the gym; something to lessen the bang-bang-bang of running.

17 mns on the moving steps, and a whopping 8 mns on the elliptical.

Seriously, how do people do this day in and out?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Shufflin' along

This was my first back-to-back long(ish) run weekend since December. I aimed the car at Topanga Canyon and took my time and enjoyed the picture-perfect weather.

I head out for Ireland on Wednesday, so training there will be a trip - I mean, Bushmills in my hand-held water bottle? SWEET.

Sunday: 1 hr 12 mns of WICKED hills.

Emilia

Yesterday morning, my grandmother, Emilia Cavorso, took her first step towards life's greatest adventure.

Emilia passed away at 98 years old.

I ran 2 1/2 hours (about 15 miles) at Will Rogers State Park in the Santa Monica Mountain Range, the part of which runs alongside the Pacific Ocean. I had a lot of reflecting to do, and what a wonderful and perfect day to do it: Cool breezes, sunny skies, and miles and miles of silent, uninhabited trails to run.

People have often asked me, "WHY 100 miles?!", and I suppose the best explanation, for me at least, is this:

Beginning. Finish. In between, anything can, and will, happen: Pain, joy, fear, bliss; people will come and go, and once you start it, the race doesn't stop until you do.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Phidippides

That's the name of the marathon-legend Greek-dude who supposedly dropped dead after running 26.2 miles to deliver the news that the Persian army had been defeated. In fact, the original marathon distance was 24.8 miles, changed in 1908 by Queen Alexandria and King Edward because they wanted the Olympic race to begin at Windsor castle, which added another 2 miles.

Assholes.

Phidippides is also the name of my local running store. Yes, there's some bizarre music playing on that site - don't ask. Yesterday, I sank some dough into some new trail shoes, Saucony Omni Trails, to be precise, a switch from my favorite trail shoe of all times, Asics Trabucos...which have since been discontinued.

Assholes.

I hit Elysian this morning in 'em, and I like 'em! They're pretty cushioned and grip the trails really tightly. And they stopped on a dime when I came across a 2 foot long rattler.

Oh, and as promised, I tied one on with a couple of friends last night, so today's run proved a hangover remedy as well. yay me!

Thursday training: 1 hour of hilly trails (app'x 6.8 miles), 2 miles at tempo pace

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Cross training wheels

I hit the streets for a 1 hour, 15 mn, hilly ride. It was windy as all get out: At one point, I was pushing tiny gears just to keep my legs moving. Traffic was abomidable in Glendale and Burbank. It's taken me a year, but I'm finally comfortable with cars whizzing by me, but today, a few came too close for comfort, and with the wind rattling me around in my aero-bars, I felt like getting sucked into a swerving SUV would be relatively easy, if I let it happen.

I'm implementing cycling 1 day/week in my training at my PT's suggestion. Apparently, studies have shown that there's a point of diminishing returns when running 5 days/week, and runners that bicycled once a week actually became stronger runners than those who ran exclusively.

But biking is as far as I go. It'll be a chilly race day at Badwater before you see me in a pool...without some fruity drink in hand.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Elysian park

Since Griffith Park is still officially closed after the fires, I've taken to running in Elysian Park, a 600 acre park located about 10 minutes south from me.

There aren't as many trails as Griffith (in total, only about 12 miles worth), but what exists is shady and beautiful and...kinda weird.

Part of the rocky, bumpy and rolling single track runs on the sheer side of a series of hills that looks down over the 5 Freeway, easily one of the busiest areas for traffic in all of the country. So, as I plod along the dusty, desert trails, when I look to one side, I get to watch lines of commuters on their ways to work, coffeeshops, and, being in Los Angeles, coke dens.

Run total: 56 minutes (app'x 6.5 miles)

Monday, May 14, 2007

The journey of 100 miles begins with 1 step...and a sharp kick to the ass region.


I'm beginning this living record of my training for my first 100 mile race, strangely, on a non-training day. I bet it's symbolic or something like that.

My interest for running a hundred miler was initially sparked after I'd seriously taken up running for only 6 months. I was on the boards at coolrunning and in the "ultramarathon" forum, when I stumbled across a runner's race report from the Western States 100 miler. It was EPIC. I'd never heard of the race, although I had heard of people running distances longer than marathons, and reading his descriptions of his journies, both inner and outer, really spoke to me.

After finishing his report, I said it out loud: "I will run 100 miles someday."

In fact, the first race I'd ever run outside of a single 5k a few years prior, was a 25k (15.7 mile) trailrace in the Santa Monica Mountains. It was INTENSE, and I was hooked. I banged out a summer/fall of 15k-20k trail races, and somewhere around October, signed up for my first ultramarathon, a 50k race, at the Calico Ghost town. It was around mile 20 during this January race that I hooked up with my soon-to-be-bud, Bud, a lanky 59 year old who'd been running 100 milers for 20 + years. He referred to our 31.4 mile offroad race as a "training run". The hell was this guy smoking?

"50ks, those are fine; 50 milers, now you're gettin' somewhere, but 100 miles? That's where it's at!" he grinned at me as we padded along.

I ran the LA Marathon 6 weeks later and continued to train and race throughout the summer, hitting that original 25k race a 2nd year in a row, cutting 30 minutes off my finishing time. I signed up for my first 50 mile race on Catalina Island in January late that summer, and in September, was asked by Bud to run the last marathon distance of a 100 miler with him in October (race report located rightcheer). It was during the overnight portion of this race that I realized: This was the one.

I ran a "training run" 50k in Decemeber and ran my 50 miler in January, placing 42nd out of 160 + finishers. I knew I had it in me to do a 100, although I did manage to strain my IT Band enough that I was exclusively cross-training for 3 months, only in the past 4 weeks getting back to running 35+ miles/week and cycling one day to recover.

So here I go!

Above is me, after an hour + run 9 days ago at Griffith Park. The trees you see behind me have been burned to the ground in the brush fire that started last Wednesday!