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.


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


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.


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.


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!