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


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.