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


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


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.