Friday, September 25, 2009

End of the week update

Well, ironically after posting the picture of my toe and musing about the nail still being attached, off it came on Wednesday, with the nail on the little toe on the same foot following on Thursday. It has been a really hectic week as I am trying to prepare a Petition for Review to the California Supreme Court, so it is eating up my time, but I have gotten some dcent runs in. Yesterday was an hour and a half through Knott's Grove and into Poway on the trail system. The trees in Knott's Grove are planted in honor of dead children, and they are covered with trinkets and have little Christian symbols and statues around the base of the tree. Its pretty creepy at night. Very Blair Witch-esque. But yesterday was warm and sunny, so it was more poignant than scary.

Today was the usual Friday run. My record up and down the Fortuna Spine and back was an hour and 18 minutes. I was able to do it in an hour and 21 minutes tonight, and that included about 1/2 hour in the dark with flashlight. It was great to get a fast run in again tonight. Another sign of recovery, now that we are about 3 weeks out. I'm going to take a day off tomorrow, then a hard pre-tailgate run on Sunday which should be fun. I need to start thinking about another race . . .

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Random pictures downloaded from my phone

I actually mounted this buckle then wore it out to a celebration dinner. I was told I looked like an oil baron.
This was my toe one day after the race. You can see the bliter and the edge of the nail on the bottom. Amazingly, the nail is still on. Bizarre.

This was a quick shot of sunset in the Tetons during the run. Pardon the finger in the shot.

This was sunset in the Cuyamacas running up Stonewall Peak in my last long run before the race.

This was on the flight out to the Tetons. Larry Johnson is my co-pilot.

Erica v. Turboproppy. Who will win?

Erica and Justin at the Chargers game. Remarkable because Erica actually took a good picture. She must be drunk . . .

From the Stone Beerfest, held at Cal State San Marcos, home of the Cougars. Step right up, all you eligible bachelors!

Yes, another Cougar joke. I'm that immature. Can you imagine the comedic potential of actually going to school there?

A week's worth

Normally, I would have more to write after a week, but its been a slow running week as I recover. My main interest this week is how fast I can recover. So I'm going on my third week of recovery, and I figure if I'm ever going to do the Grand Slam, that's probably about the amount of time for recovery that I would have. Last week, I got a run in on Tuesday, as I blogged, and then did my usual run with a few twists on Friday night after work. Good to get in the hills and back on Fortuna, but it was brutally slow, as I expected. Was stronger on the uphills than I expected and no significant knee pain, all of which was obviously a good sign. Starting to get dark here for after work runs, so a light is mandatory equipment. Did see a scraggly looking deer about 3/4 of the way up South Fortuna. Weird place to see one, but it headed down towards the San Diego River when it saw me, so at least it knew where to go.

Sunday was a taligate run. My tailgate run is a 3 to 3.5 hour run starting in the canyon and doing a complete loop through Marian Bear and Rose Canyons, closing the loop by cutting through Miramar Nursery and running next to the dump to drop under the 805/52 interchange. Its more scenic than it sounds.

Anyways, I was nervous on this one for a couple of reasons. One, I forgot my phone, so if things went bad at any point, I was on my own. Secondly, I needed to leave by 9 AM to get to the tailgate in time for the festivities, so there was a bit of time pressure. My worries, thankfully, were unfounded. I was up at 5:15 and out the door by 5:25, light in hand and Gator by my side. The run was completely and mercifully uneventful. My favorite part of the run comes when I get on the other side of Gennesse, where I stop at University City High to hit the water fountain. From there until I hit the streets by the house, it is extremely unusual to see anyone, even at the nursery. Saw 2 coyotes this time around, and when I got to the nursery along the fence that edges the Miramar runway, there were about 30 ravens all lined up on the barbed wire. As I ran the gauntlet, they didn't even move, just sat there and croaked at me. Eerie. The only other problem was that the hole in the fence I usually cut through had been partially repaired, meaning now I have to crawl through it. Difficult after 2:45 of running. But I made it in about 3:05 total with tired legs.

Tuesday was an hour run in the morning with Gator in the canyon which felt pretty good. Overall, I would say I"m not recovered, but I'm close. I think its safe to say that I need 3 full weeks to even think about being recovered, but given how tired I was after the canyon run, I need another week to say I"m ready to go. I think I need to figure out a way to speed up the process . . .

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm back, baby!

Well, after an aborted attempt on Sunday, I tried again yesterday to get a few miles in, and although slow and laborious, I was able to get a good hour of running in with only a little pain behind the knee. The biggest pain was in my eardrums as I listened to the Chargers struggle unnecessarily with the Raiders. By the second half I was home watching the game, sending negative texts as I watched yet another listless performance by a team that just doesn't seem to care. Frustrating, but tempered by my successful return to the trails. I'll take at least one day off if not two before trying again, with the goal being a 2 - 3 hour run on Sunday AM. Here's hoping . . .

Sunday, September 13, 2009


So its a week after the race, and the recovery is ongoing, to be generous. I tried my first run today and didn't even make it half a mile. I was slowed by pain behind my knee, of which I'm particularly wary. I figured discretion was the better part of valor, and packed it in. I probably won't try to run again until next Saturday, giving it plenty of more time to recover. I may do some more active recovery, trying to ice it, etc.

The week went as well as could be expected. It was difficult getting through the airports, and I needed someone to drive me around for a few days, but I settled in before long. My gait finally returned to normal sometime around Thursday or so, which was about the first time I was able to put my feet back in shoes. I hit the exercise bike hard on Saturday. It felt good to get a sweat on again. I'll probably get on the real bike for a while today to get some outside time. At least that's the plan. Or maybe I'll hit the kayak. Something like that.

We'll see what happens for the rest of the week.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wrap up - the long version . . .

I was up before the alarm went off at 4:45. Having gone to bed at 9, I actually got a lot more sleep than usual before these things. It helped that the start line was 200 yards from the hotel room. I did my usual pre-race shower and actually was able to use the facilities. Twice. Mentally, I went over everything I had done up to that point, including the night before. I had pasta alfredo and grilled chicken for dinner, eaten pretzels and other salty snacks like a fiend all day, and couldn’t even count the number of cups of water I drank which led to the same number of night time trips to the restroom.

At 5:30, I woke up Erica and walked over to the check-in and gave them my name. I had weighed in the night before at 210, down 15 pounds from Wasatch. And that was after all the snack binging. After a few minutes, we wandered as a group out to the start line. The shadow of Fred's Mountain loomed in the darkness as first light barely started to filter through the pre-dawn. We all knew that soon enough, we would become all to familiar with every step up to the top. Erica took a few start line photos as we milled about nervously in the chill air.
Yours truly, ready for a day or two of ass kicking.

The course was a loop course. Each loop consisted of 3 parts. The first was a climb up Fred's Mountain, a 1900 foot climb in 2.8 miles made up of steep slippery pitches followed by short flatter periods of recovery. The second loop was Mill Creek, in which, after a short climb, you descended 1600 feet or so on single track through aspen and pine forests. You then made up 700 feet of that on a 3.3 mile paved climb, followed by rolling hills which gradually led you upwards followed by about a 900 foot climb over a mile before a final long sharp drop back to the base area. The final loop was Rick's Basin, a series of gradual climbs and descents through fields strewn with wildflowers and aspen stands with views of Mt. Moran dominating the landscape.
At 6, with little fanfare, we were off up Fred's. The day before Erica and I had taken the chairlift to the top and hiked down to get a feel for what I was in for. Actually, upon arrival at the Grand Targhee resort on Wed. I had tried to climb to the top, but got on the wrong trail and ended up on a nice peak across the valley. Be that as it may, I knew the climb had several steep pitches of 100 yards, followed by more mellow climbing. The key was to power through these steep stretches and recover on the rest of the climb. On the way up the grind, I fell into conversation with Ryan. Our pace was easy but steady. We talked about football, about God, about raising kids. A pretty far ranging discussion about everything for being in the middle of a very long race. About 3/4 of the way up, someone yelled, "Turn around!" I spun around to see the majesty of Grand Teton and the surrounding mountains aglow in the first pink dawn. Certainly worth slowing down for. Looking back at the Teton's on the initial Fred's climb. About 5 minutes from the top on the first lap.

Finally, the rocky road made a final turn to traverse the side of the mountain and under the chairlift, with a final steep switchback to the top. Once there, the buffet was set out. Grabbing a quick banana and handful of Cheezits I was running down the mountain. Ryan went to hit the porta-john, and I leaned forward, letting gravity carry me down the mountain. I ran hard but watched my step. I had seen Erica take a tumble hiking down the day before, and before the race was over, I would see double digit wipeouts on the slippery gravel inclines, including a kid taking a head over heels roll. At about this time, the 50 milers started on the course, and I got to see every one of them as they began what we had just finished. Many were even running up the slope. I gave everyone some encouragement but saved some good words to a runner I had just met, a Gator fan living in Atlanta - Lane, which would be repaid in spades later on. I put my head down and concentrated on my footing. Suffering only a few missteps, I made it back to the base aid station in about 1:15. Stopping only to strip off my vest and light, I attacked the Mill Creek section.

It started with a 400 foot climb over about a mile or so. It seemed pretty easy after Fred's, and I had already run it as part of my misadventure in attempting to scout the first climb on the previous Wednesday. There was a single track traverse of about 400 yards, and then a bombing downhill on double track. Towards the bottom was set up two gatorade style water jugs, so after a quick refill, I ran hard all the way to the bottom where the double track went through a cattle gate and became rolling, mostly downwards single track. I ran this entire section, even the uphills, using my downhill momentum to push me up the brief ups I encountered. The single track wound its way through aspen stands and sage brush fields. The track was mostly cambered with difficult footing, but I soon found myself with company in the form of a runner from Washington DC. We scooted down a few switchbacks and out onto Teton Canyon road, a dirt road that led directly into the heart of the Teton wilderness. We headed the other direction, towards an RV .7 miles down the road that made up the next aid station. I expected to see Erica here, but was about 15 minutes ahead of my best projected time. I stopped there briefly to get a banana and Cheezits and off I went onto the pavement for the 700 foot climb.

The traverse to the long drop into the Mill Creek basin.

Coming into the aid station at the bottom of the paved climb.

This ended up being my strongest section throughout the race. I found I could get into a fairly good rhythm and keep it up. There were several switchbacks which allowed me to cut lines to curves to save some time, although my head was on a swivel for cars. There were also marvelous views of the Tetons. About ten minutes in, Erica came driving by, disappointed she had missed me at the station. I asked her to meet me above and put my head down to keep climbing. As I talked with the racer from DC, he revealed that he had aspirations of sub-30 hours, but he had done no aclimatizing at all and was not used to elevation. I had my doubts if he could do it, but altitude affects different people in different ways. I also was worried for myself that I was hanging with the sub-30 crowd, but didn't feel as if I was pushing it, so I decided to keep going at my pace. Soon we reached the aid station at the top of the hill where I grabbed a snack from Erica, grazed yet again, grabbing a turkey sandwich and a PBJ and headed off into the last part of the Mill Creek section.

Headed up the second and steepest switchback of the paved climb with the runner from DC.

I had heard bad things about this section but I didn't find it to be as bad as I was expecting. The trail was in poor condition, and it was rolling which made it hard to find a rhythm, but again running the shorter uphills made it go by fairly quickly. My DC companion had lingered at the aid station, so I was on my own as the trail rejoined the single track I had left a few hours before, and as I went through the cattle gate, the big climb out awaited me. I called it the hidden climb because it doesn't really show up on the descriptions of the race, only in the elevation profile. It wasn't too bad - just a steady slog. However, once you crested the ridge, there was a "bonus" climb of another few hundred feet. I say that because while you were back on the trail you went out on, this was a little side trail that took you up even further, so just when you thought you knew where you dropped in, you actually had to keep climbing a little further. A shock the first time, not so bad after that. I was able to make some good time dropping into the base aid station and then went out into Rick's Basin.
Out of the aid station and onto the rolling hills . . .
The beginning of the big climb out of the Mill Creek Basin.

Coming into the base aid station to refuel before Rick's Basin.
There wasn't much to this section. Somehow, even though you ended the same place you started, it seemed to be more climbing than dropping, including a nasty little climb towards the end to get you out of the basin. I managed to run this entire section and ended up doing the first 25 mile "lap" in 5:45, about 15 minutes ahead of where I wanted to be. I used some of that time at the aid station to get some real food in me, turkey sandwiches, and then headed back up Fred's for my second trip.
Flowers in Rick's Basin. You can see the return trail on the far hill.

This second time up was about the same as the first, which I took as a good sign. I felt about equally as strong, although this time I didn't have any company on the way up except sports radio. Thankfully, cloud cover kept it cool for the race, and my food and liquid strategy was working perfectly. I drank almost exclusively water on the course, relying on salt pills every 20 minutes and drinking Nuun, a calorie free electrolyte drink at the aid stations. I also took Gu Roctaine pouches every 45 minutes or so, and ended up eating a lot of bananas and potato soup.
View going up Fred's - about 1/4 of the way up.

On the traverse to the top. This is about 10 minutes from the end of the climb.

View from the top of Fred's. You can see the base station at the bottom of the lift.

On my way down Fred’s, I got a piercing pain in my right big toe that got worse and worse every step. Soon it was clear that there was a serious problem. I tried adjusting my gait, but with every step my toe was jamming into the end of the toe box causing excruciating pain. I had no alternative but to gut through it, which I did for the next 20 minutes before reaching the base aid station. By the time I got to the bottom, I was clearly limping. I quickly asked Erica to grab my other shoes and changed out of my expensive Mt. Masochist shoes which I had been trying and training in and went back to my cheap ass outlet Addidas shoes and headed down to the Mill Creek section again. I noticed as I changed shoes that the front of my sock had worn away against the toe box. Not a good sign. I definitely made the right decision to take the extra time.

There was nothing much eventful that happened the second time around Mill Creek, although the change of shoes helped tremendously. I kept my pace as high as I could. It helped that on the rolling hills after the paved climb, I felt a pop on my right big toe meaning the toenail had finally given way, easing the pain instantly. I could feel it flapping around in my sock, which was a little disconcerting, but better than the pain on every step that had been there before.

Typical section of Mill Creek single track.

By the end of the rolling hills, I was beginning to feel a little fatigue, but it was manageable. Pretty soon I found myself going around Rick's Basin for a second time and then working towards the halfway point. During the two previous sections, I had been swapping places with a Japanese guy and an ultra veteran named Hans. Hans, I knew, ran races almost every week, varying in distance from 50K to 100 miles. He's a complete hardass. The three of us swapped spots for a while as came around to do lap 3. As I returned to base, it was 6:45. I had completed the first two laps or 50 miles, in 12 hours, forty-five minutes which was about fifteen minutes faster than I had thought would be my absolute best case scenario. Excited, but wanting to make sure I was rested for my third trip up Fred’s, I took a few minutes to change into night clothes, putting my vest back for the climb.
Rick's Basin, the second time around.

The third time up Fred's was beginning to turn into a grind, but I knew if I just kept it up, I would put in a really good time. This was the time to focus, think about all the training I had put in, and run a race, not just survive it. With renewed energy, I made it up the final steep traverses, catching the Japanese runner and his wife who he had picked up as a pacer. On the descent, I dropped him for good, not to see him again until the finish, taking chances on the steep slopes and taking advantage of all the training I had done out at Mission Trails with hills just like these. Towards the bottom, I had run out of light, and it was time for night running mode. I pulled my little blue flashlight out of my pocket for the final pitches down to base.

At the bottom, I realized that it was going to be a warm night, relatively speaking, and I decided to stay in short sleeves and a baseball hat all night. It ended up being a very good decision. I also realized, as the OU - BYU game faded into the night, that it was time for the Ipod Shuffle and put the radio away, for good, as it turned out. With Art Bell as my companion, I said good bye to Erica who was headed to bed, and I headed out into the Mill Creek section. I was stopped about a half mile up by a coughing spasm that turned into dry retching. Bits of phleghm pellets came flying out of my throat and literally bounced like superballs off the packed fire road. I am assuming that this was from the dust I inhaled, and I gravely hope that I never see anything the likes of that again.

I ran as fast as darkness would allow. The footing on the trail was very difficult but I had practiced night running and was able to keep it going at a decent pace. It was on this section that I first felt some pain in the back of my knee. As I pushed it down towards Teton Creek Road, it got worse and worse, but because of the nature of the trail and the darkness, it didn't slow me down relatively speaking as I could only go so fast, and soon I was through the aid station at the bottom of the paved hill and making good time up the paved climb, where I passed a few more runners although got passed once myself. As I began the rolling hill section, I realized that I didn't have too much left. I was actually looking forward to the long climb where I put in some running, trying to empty the tank while I still had the will to do so. The full moon cast out long shadows through the trees, and a few raindrops fell as the night lengthened. While I had meesed up taping the Gators game, I had the Chargers game from the night before and listened to that to help pass the time.

Coming back down to the base aid station, I went right out into Rick's Basin. As I went out, Hans was coming back in from an aborted start at Rick's to change shoes. I didn't realize it at the time, but I had seen the last fellow hundred miler I would see for the rest of the race. It was about 2 AM. Hans was the first runner I had seen in 2 hours, and I would not see another until the first trail marathoner passed me some 6 and a half hours later.

It was now that I had my lowest moment of the race. I felt completely outside of my body, like I was watching myself run instead of experiencing it. I couldn't feel my feet hitting the ground. It was nice in a way because it kept me from suffering, running in this dreamlike state. My whole body felt like it was at the dentist’s office. On the top of one of the rises, a deer stood silently watching me run past her. I stopped for a minute to watch her, then kept going when she bounded out of site. I realized my good time was in danger of slipping away unless I refocused. I started slapping myself in the back of the neck and pinching the inside of my arms as I ran, trying to get it back together. I didn't really feel like myself again until I came out of the basin and into the aid station where I didn't dare say a word about it to any of the aid people. I was not going to get pulled now. It was 3:30 AM. I was done with 75 miles in about 21 and a half hours, the last lap taking 8 and a half hours, which was about what I was expecting with the dark.

I took a few moments to sit down and pull myself together. I ate some pizza, took some mouthwash, and drank some Coke. Giving myself a mental once over, I felt pretty good considering what I had been through. If I could just keep up the pace, when the sun came out, which was about 2 hours away, I should be able to pick up the pace and have a shot at even breaking 30 hours, something that I thought would have been impossible. With a deep breath, I launched myself up Fred's for the last time just as the clock passed 4 AM.

I made a nice slow steady progress and eventually made it to the top without stopping, meaning I had done the climb 4 times without taking any breaks, one of my main goals for the race. I surprised the aid personnel on top who had all been sleeping. As I announced myself, they all jumped up and scrambled to get me whatever I wanted. I was quizzed about how much salt had I eaten, how much had I been drinking, etc. They sent me down the trail, where I had to make a quick pit stop, which went much better than could be expected, then down Fred's the final time. It was here that I realized that something was wrong. I literally could not run downhill. I couldn't put any weight on my left leg without searing pain behind my right knee. Before it had been an annoyance, but now I knew I had a problem. As light began to filter through the scattered pines, I hiked as fast as I could to the bottom.

Going through the base aid station, stopping only long enough to shed my vest and light, morning broke cloudy and windy. I ran with soup in hand up the climb to Mill Creek, figuring that if running downhill was going to be difficult, I could at least take that energy and try to run uphill. I could only go in stretches, but in between I pushed hard on my hiking. Coming to the start of the long downhill, I tried again to give it a go, but the pain stopped me in my tracks. It was no good. Resigning myself that 30 hours was no longer possible, I hiked as fast as I could, running a few steps here and there when I could, but paying for it dearly every time I did. By now I was listening to Edgar Allen Poe which clashed with the bucholic beauty of late summer in the Tetons, but yet kept me alert and moving forward, head on a swivel for ravens or a cask of amontillado.

View of the Tetons from where the Mill Creek Trail meets Teton Canyon Road. Ready for breakfast!

At the bottom at last, I saw Erica who had just missed me at the bottom of Fred’s. Glad to see a friendly face, I sat down at the aid station for a quick breakfast of French toast and sausage which hit the spot. However, trying to get up from my chair, my knee locked, and I was barely able to get up. That worried me, and I realized that if I wanted to finish, I needed to go conservative for a while. With my sore knee now bothering me vaguely even on the uphill, I hunkered down for the paved climb, which went as well as any of the three times that preceded it. It was here that I began to be passed by the trail marathoners who had started at 7. Every one of them gave words of encouragement as they passed, remarking at what a hardass I was for doing a hundred miler. This was exactly what I needed to hear, and after each one left me in his or her wake, my pace would pick up for a few steps spurred by their energy.

I figured at the top I would give my knee a break, so I sat down and ate some bacon, but getting up again was much more difficult than even the bottom of the hill, and I could not extend my knee for at least 10 minutes after leaving the aid station. I knew that was my last sit, and was glad that I only had about 10 miles to go. Shortly after this, I was passed by a trail marathoner who took a nasty spill. I helped her up, dirty but unbroken and off she went. Finally reaching the base of the climb out of Mill Creek, I looked at the time and saw that breaking 31 hours was still possible if I could pull any downhill speed at all. Knowing this, I put some Frank Zappa on the Ipod and tried to attack the hill as best I could. I actually passed a couple of trail marathoners, and pulled them up the hill in my wake. Coming to the descent to the base aid station, they left me behind, and I realized that I could not run downhill even a single step. I had used up my emotional kick to pull me as fast as I could up the hill, and even my reserves were now spent. Looking at the time, I knew that it wasn’t enough, and that 31 hours was likely out of reach as well. I settled into a rhythm to ensure that I would finish without hurting myself to the point that I would be forced to drop.

Finally I came on the base station for the last time. I did not stop, giving Erica my pack and grabbing my Gator shirt on the fly. I knew if I sat, I literally might not be able to stand up with my knee. Making one last attempt to run, I realized now that my knee wouldn't even let me run uphill, so I hiked as fast as I could. I managed to keep up a good pace and had put on my running music, but I was ready to be done. It was frustrating being limited. I was able to give it a push the first mile to mile and a half, but soon fell back into a steady pace, completely spent. The alpine heat that we had escaped the day before was bearing down on the back of my neck, and I quickly went through the bottle I had. At the base of the last climb, I passed Chirag, a 100 miler who had trained entirely in Florida, mostly on stairmasters. He was finishing his second lap, having been felled by altitude. I admired that he had come back out after a nap to finish as much of his journey as he could, and his pacer was by his side helping him along. I gave them a quick pat on the back and a good word and struggled up the last climb.

Trail through Rick's the last time through . . .

Finally, I was on the dirt road to base and could hear the finish line. As I emerged from the final Aspen stand, I stumbled down the grass hill to the finish, with the announcer saying "Here comes another 100 miler!" There was a loud round of applause, and I let the emotions of my finish take over as I started to shake crossing the line. One of the race directors put the medal around my neck while the other shook my hand and gave me my buckle, which always cracks me up. I had finished in 31:18, almost 2 hours better than my best goal time I had allowed myself to consider. It was good for 11th overall, which given the number of entrants isn't near as impressive as it sounds, but was easily my best finish even percentage-wise in an ultra to date.

At a crawl down the last hill . . .

About 5 minutes after the finish. Still living off of endorphins. Wait for it . . . Wait for it . . .

OK, they're gone. Ow, ow, ow! Contemplating the act of getting into the tub. It would take a while.

So, overall, the run was a tremendous success. I regret that I suffered an injury that took sub-30 or 31 hour times from me, as I still felt decently strong over the last 30 miles or so, but perhaps that injury was caused by my speed on the first 70 miles, so who knows. I could not get treatment for knee after the race, and it is still very sore today, meaning I can't even extend my knee half of its normal range of motion. As for my toe, the nail is barely on, being held by the skin cuticle, and a blister the size of my thumb has formed at the base, allowing me to see the outline of the base of the nail. Needless to say, it’s a matter of time before that goes.

A tremendous thanks to Erica who was out there almost the entire race at every aid station making sure I had what I needed and who helped me throughout the week making sure I was rested and ready and who shepherded me back through the multiple airports on the way back to San Diego, making only a few wheelchair jokes and stepping on my toe only a few times. Also, thanks to those to who sent texts or calls or thoughts my way while I was out on the course. Every little bit helped, and I needed every one of them.

Was all the time, sacrifice, and pain worth it? Damn straight. To run a strong race reflecting the amount of training and work that I have put in has been tremendously rewarding. Thanks to all who have followed along and helped along the way. I could not have done it without all of you.
As for what's next, well we'll wait and see . . .

Monday, September 7, 2009


Just a quick note that I finished the 100 miler. My time was 31:18, good for 11th overall. Full wrap up coming . . .

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day before . . .

I'm sitting in my room watcing Tulsa v. Tulane thinking about the run. I have to eat dinner around 7 and then go to bed. Have my drop bags ready. Its supposed to be hot tomorrow, mid-70's, which is even warmer when you are at altitude. Took the chairlift to the top of the climb today and walked down. The climb will be harder than I thought, as it is sections of flat followed by steep uphill. The footing is also questionable. Wish I could calm the nerves.

The presentation was quick and painless. Interesting video from a 60 year old nun that is running the 50 about how she helps AIDS orphans. Something to think about. Trying to eat and drink and stay off my feet. Good swag in the bad. Nice long sleeve, but I love the beanie cap with the race logo down by smartwool. Superior. Now I have to go out and earn it.

Talked with a couple of the other runners. Two were from Florida. One has never been at altitude before. Like him, I just have to keep remembering to put one foot in front of the other and it will be over soon enough. As long as I can keep moving forward, I should finish. The cut offs are pretty generous. Any good running I get in is a bonus that will knock the total time down. Oh, and one of the aid stations will have bacon. How much sweeter can it get?

More on Monday . . .

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

In Wyoming . . .

Well, I'm here at the race site. Pretty nerve wracking. Today I tried to do the trail that was supposed to be the first climb. Unfortunately, I took the wrong trail and went to the top of the next mountain over. But it ended up being the first 1.5 miles of the next section of the course, and the total climb was the same as the main climb, just on rougher trail. It went pretty well. The bummer is that I wanted to do the exact climb so I knew the clues as to what I would be looking for as I went up. Thinking about taking the ski lift to the top and walking down on Friday early to get it done once. I was able to see the entire trail from where I was up on the next mountain over, so I know where it gets steep and can look for the clues, like the big switchback starts the last push for the top. Anyways, sort of a bummer, but nothing I can't deal with. Breathing was OK at altitude, legs felt pretty good, all systems relatively go.

Scouted out the course and saw the aid stations that I could drive to. Overall, I'm feeling pretty good about it. The trail looks gorgeous. The views of the tetons are everywhere and look fabulous. Temps are comfortable, trails are in good condition, so we'll see what happens. Tomorrow is a drive through the Tetons and Yellowstone National Park with some walking around Old Faithful, etc. Friday will maybe be a walk down Fred's Mtn. and check in for the race. Already went to the store for water, snacks, etc. Pretty soon its put up or shut up.

Goals: The best case scenario as I see it is 33 hours given that the elevation is exactly half between San Diego and Wasatch and 33 hours would be the average between the two finishing times. I'll be stoked just to get a finish period.

Other good news: ESPN radio comes in well here with live football from 8 PM to 11:30 or so. Of course, its Idaho State v. ASU, but whatever. Have a shot of getting the Wyoming game as well which would be right in the middle of the afternoon. We'll see about that.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Last few runs . . .

It was a quiet week. Nothing special. Decided to buy my first pair of trail shoes. Went Montrail Mount Masochist. They've gotten great reviews, so I figured what the heck. It feels like running in clogs. I tried them on a one hour jaunt in Mission Trails on some of the rockiest stuff I could find. It was great not to have to watch my step. But they felt really weird on the fire roads. I did another 4 hour night run in them in the mountains on Sunday. Liked them a little better. The run was fantastic. Did the Cuyamaca ascent and then turned it around and did the Stonewall Peak climb, went down the backside in the dark with my backup light and then back around to some more trails behind Paso Picacho. From Stonewall I saw a fantastic sunset between the Cuyamaca peaks and it was beautiful, red and purple. And from Cuyamaca at night, the entire Milky Way was out. Looking back, I saw the lightning flashing every 10 seconds over the desert in distance. The way back was populated with lots of kangaroo rats. Super cute with big eyes and ears. I was even able to pick one up and hold him before he hopped away. A fantastic run, but I"m still not sure about the shoes. They are so damn stiff. Picked up a new pair of my cheap ass Addidas just in case. The run is less than 2 weeks away. I'm nervous as hell. Crap.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

NFL Predictions, Part 2

So the taper is going fairly well so far. Did 1:45 yesterday at 6 AM. Legs were really sore at first from the 50K the Sunday before, but felt better as I went along for a few minutes and worked out the kinks. I will go for night runs for the rest of the week to practice, and then back to early AM runs for the 2 weeks before the race.

Now, back to the NFL . . .

NFC East:

1. Eagles

2. Giants

3. Cowboys

4. Redskins

I think the Eagles have upgraded the offensive line which was already good. They should have some depth now at running back, and I think will play some inspired D all year for Jim Johnson, although they will miss his game adjustments and scheming. The Giants have a great OL, and that will be their strength, running the ball, but I can't see Brandon Jacobs making it a whole season and they lost Derrick Ward. In addition, without Plaxico, they just don't have the receivers, and Eli is terrible at keeping hold of the ball. Completley overrated. The Cowboys will be the same old mess with Wade Phillips in charge and Romo at the controls. And I don't know what to make of the Redskins, but they are a revolving door of free agents that never seem to get it together. I think Jason Campbell will be improved, but I don't think it will be enough.

NFC North

1. Minnesota

2. Green Bay

3. Chicago

4. Detroit

This was a hard one. I think this is the best division in football. Minnesota was missing a QB and has one now along with the best line, defensive line, and running back in football. If Percy Harvin can come through, they could be really dangerous, even though Favre will turn the ball over and his arm is becoming a noodle. I think Green Bay has an improved DL and will produce points. I like Rodgers, GB's OL, and the receivers there, but the OL isn't as strong as teh Vikings. Chicago will be improved on the OL with Pace, the QB with Cutler, but their defense has been declining and is more reputation than anything. And Detroit, well will be Detroit, but I think they are going to be better and can't lose 16 games again. Kevin Smith is going to be a fantasy stud.

NFC South

1. Saints

2. Falcons

3. Panthers
4. Bucs

I think the Falcons may benefit from having balance and experience. It depends on if Matt Ryan can keep growing and if Roddy White keeps playing after getting paid. I'm suspect. I think Turner is going to get dinged up after so many carries last year. Add it all up, and I see the Saints maybe scoring as many points as last year, maybe a few less, but with Gregg Williams running the D, I think they tighten things up. The Panthers D will get them places, but Delhomme is too streaky, and the runners both had career years. I don't see that happening again. As for the Bucs? Pathetic. I'm too disgusted to talk about it.

NFC West

1. Arizona
2. Seattle
3. 49ers
4. Rams

I think Arizona is the best team in the division. But that's not saying much. Kurt Warner is the fantasy football version of musical chairs. When the carousel stops, and Kurt ages 30 years overnight, don't be the one holding the bag. Seattle still has Hasselbeck and has other talent around, but an aging offensive line, a questionable running game, and a bunch of medicore receivers. Their defense is OK, but I can't see them doing better than 8-8, maybe 9-7 considering their division. The Niners will be better, and I like their new philosophy to pound the ball, but they are still a few years away. But the Rams - they may be the worst team in the NFL. No receivers, an aging Bulger, no line, a suspect defense - the Rams have no hope anywhere in their future.

Wild cards? I'll say Falcons and Green Bay. And I'll say Green Bay goes to the Super Bowl. In your face Favre.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Let the taper begin . . .

So, I'm on my second day in a row without running. I will run again tomorrow, but for now . . .

NFL Predictions!

AFC East
1. Patriots
2. Jets
3. Dolphins
4. Jets

OK, consider me an unbeliever. The Dolphins have that "we were good once, but with a harder schedule, we will struggle to go .500" like the Bears a few years ago. I think the Patriots are older and not what they used to be, especially on defense, but I think they are the class of the division. I like the Jets draft and I love their line, but I think think they are a year or two away yet. Rex Ryan is the Lane Kiffin of the NFL.

AFC North
1. Steelers
2. Ravens
3. Bengals
4. Browns

I always think the Ravens are going to be better than they are because of their defense and their running game, two elements that I always overvalue. They might miss Rex Ryan in the end, and with a sophmore slump QB and no receivers, I just don't think they have it. I like the Bengals who have a good offense and have improved their defense, but there just isn't the character to make a serious turn around on the team. I think the Browns are a joke, and I'm not a fan of Mangenius. Too many mediocre QB's, RB's and DB's.

AFC South
1. Indy
2. Houston
3. Tennessee
4. Jacksonville

This is a hard division to pick. I think Indy will miss some of the coaching they've lost, and I don't think Anthony Gonzalez is a Marvin Harrison, but they still have Manning, and I think they've improved their defense. I think they are in a crap shoot with the Texans. If Schaub can stay healthy, they finally have a go to running back, and their defense has made big strides. Tennessee I always underestimate, but Fisher always does a great job. I just don't think they have enough receiving talent and a questionable quaterback in Collins who doesn't seem to come through in the clutch. Jacksonville doesn't have a plan other than hand the ball to Jones-Drew and has lost too much along the defensive front to be competitive.

AFC West

1. Chargers
2. Raiders
3. Broncos
4. Chiefs

No doubt Chargers are the class of the division. Yes, I'm biased, but they are teh super bowl favorites and better play like it. Too many people are down on the Raiders. Yes they are a joke of an organization. But they have a decently stout defense and a good running game. A-ha, those two magic elements again. Unfortunately, Russell is a joke and will turn the ball over too much as for all of his talent, he is a terrible decision maker. The Broncos will need a while to make whatever changes they need to make, and they will miss Cutler and who knows what is going on with Brandon Marshall. The Chiefs have been the worst team in football the last 2 years. I can't see anything changing this year.

Wild Cards - Houston, Tenn
AFC Champ - Chargers

Tomorrow - the NFC!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Goofy as Hell 50k

Good last weekend! On Saturday, I knocked out Cuyamaca Peak after doing trailwork that involved a climb up Stonewall Peak, which is a nice 2 mile climb up to a place where you can view the entire SD 100 course which really puts it in perspective. Trimmed a bunch of brush on the way up, then made it back by noon to do Cuyamaca Peak. Knocked it out in 1:12 and did the 2.7 mile 1700 foot climb in 49 minutes. That put my hopes up, but last week my long run was difficult.

However, today was a different story. I did 3 of the 9.3 mile loops. Temperatures were perfect, low 80's with a breeze. First, I figured out that what I eat the night before is apparently not influential on my results. Last night was a chargers game, so my preparatory meal consisted of about 7 pieces of spicy fried chicken, half a container each of dirty rice and mac and cheese, 3 biscuits, and 2 or 3 beers and a giant mountain dew. The only adverse effect that I could tell was I had burning farts during the run that were slightly uncomfortable, but not as much as for someone who would have been running behind me.

Lesson 2: No Gatorade. I'm a big supporter, especially as they every bottle sold means money in the pocket of Urban Meyer and the boys. However, it seems to make me feel a little off every time I drink it, so I think that's enough of that, at least for now. I think at GTR 100, I will skip out on the carb drinks and just go for water, salt tabs, and Rocktaines, which is an expensive proposition as those things cost 2.50 a pouch. Apparently made with liquid gold, it sits well with my system and always seems to stay down. I could care less about the freaky amino acids or whatever else they put in there that's supposed to be helpful. As long as it sits in the stomach, I'll keep shelling it out.

Anyways, the run went great. Did my 15k loop 3 times and a 5k loop after that. Total run was 50k with 5000 feet of gain in exactly 7 hours. My pace was 13.5 minute miles. I was aiming for 14 to 14.5 minute miles, so obviously I was successful. That puts me in the back of the mid-pack for some of the 50k's with similar elevation gain, and this was a training run, so I was encouraged by that. I wanted an 8 hour run, but that did not seem to make sense after getting through 31 miles. I figured better to underdo it then push it at this point only 3 weeks out. I kept thinking that it was great knowing that this was exactly 50k (actually I think it is actually a little bit over as the 15k loops I think are more like 9.6 miles than 9.3, but whatever), but who the hell would run a race where you loop the same trails 3 times and then do a 5 K that covers the exact same course. Pretty goofy. Good practice for me, but I can't see this race catching on. But if anyone wants to shoot for my time, well, there you go.

Philisophically, I'm not sure whether I should be this excited, because while I pushed it, I never felt lousy or had to push through anything extraordinary, so not sure if it toughened me up. However, it was really good for my confidence, which goes a long way for me. Did the last 5k with 200 feet of gain in 30 minutes, so finished strong and felt like I had some left. We'll see if it means anything come race day.

The other thing that was notable was on my 3rd time up South Fortuna, some guy passed me like he was standing on an escalator. I don't know who this guy was, but he was clearly a runner and clearly a hardass. Whoever he was, if he's not on top of trail races right now, he will be soon.

Now, the taper begins. Let the laziness erupt!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Final Push

So, the final push is here. Kicked it off on Sunday with what was going to be 3 loops of my Mission Trails course. Didn't turn out that way, unfortunately. The first loop went well and did it in 1:55. Then it started getting hot. I was drinking as much water as I could, which led to my feeling sick. My body couldn't process enough water to keep my hydrated, so I ended up with side cramps and feeling bloated and sick the whole run. Even with that, I finished the second loop on pace, at about 4:15. On the third loop, I got to the bottom of the last climb in 6 hours, pretty close to on pace for my goal of 25 miles in 6 hours. However, I was feeling really sick, so I laid down. Just then I stumbled across a pair of lost runners, so I guided them back to the visitor's center, which still gave me two climbs, but much different than pushing up South Fortuna one last time. Sort of disappointing. After doing the climb and run into the visitor center, I hiked the last climb and the road back to the car. Total time about 7:30. Total miles was probably about 30. Not bad, but not as strong as I would have liked.

Monday was a day off, then Tuesday was an 1:45 with Gator in the Canyon at a decent pace. Pretty fun and good to run with the Big G, who was a superstar. Yesterday was 3 hours without a break in Mission Trails. Did the Quarry Hill, South Fortuna, down the saddle and game trail up to Telephone Line Hill, then out to Mission Trails Dam, then up Oak Canyon back to the Saddle Trail which I took up and then up to N. Fortuna (which is about a 900 foot climb in 1 mile) then down through Shepherd's Canyon, up an unnamed hill to the rim trail, which I think is one of the hardest trails in the park but is still one of my favorites, then down the trim trail back to the car. Not sure of the mileage, but I'd guess between 2500 and 3000 feet of climbing.

My legs are tired today, but not too bad. Short run planned, then Saturday will be a repeat of the Cuyamaca climb. Last Saturday did this climb after a morning of trail work, which is identical to the biggest hill in GTR , in 1:15 up and down, a great time. I will try to match that. Sunday wil leither be Vivian Creek, or another 8 hours in Mission Trails. Then comes the Taper! :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Catch up time . . .

When last you heard from me, I was talking about the glory of Monserate. So what have I been up to? Well, glad you asked. On Thursday, it was an easy run with Justin E. A lap around the Piedras Pintadas trail (actually less than a lap), and we decided to call it a day. As a result of this, Justin has pledged to get in shape. As an incentive, I've offered him a dinner at Donovan's if he runs twice a week between now and October 1. How hard is that? We'll see if he accepts . . .

Friday was 2.5 hours on the trails of Mission trails. I did the Gorge Trail and Hill, the Fortuna double, down through Shepherds' Canyon, bushwacked up to the top of Portabello Hill, then out the rim trail. Not too fast, but satisfying to be out there and still feel strong.

Saturday, I decided to do Mt. San Jacinto. This is the second highest peak in Southern California at 10,840 feet. Originally, I was going to do Mt. San Gorgonio, the highest peak. However, the main access trail, Vivian Creek, was closed due to "bear activity". When I hear this, I think about 1000's of bears running all around the trails, doing bear like things like eating picnic baskets, shitting in the woods, and generally causing mayhem. Apparently, the real story is that there was one bear who was threateningly hanging out a lot. They don't really know how to deal with bears in So Cal . . .

So anyways, San Jacinto it was, via the Marion Mountain trail. On the drive up, it was 70 going through Hemet and after my 20 min. drive to gain 6000 feet to Idylwild and the trailhead, it was 73. Huh? Gotta love microclimates.

This trail is a 12 to 14 mile (depending on who you believe) slog with 4800 feet of gain. The first two miles are horrific, but really, it doesn't relent. Most of the first 2.5 miles is on broken single track with lots of fallen logs and loose dirt. Then you go through a series of switchbacks covered in pricker bushes. Then through a campground and the last switchbacks up to a scramble to the top. There were some groups, but the top was crowded with all the people who had taken the easy way on the tram from Palm Springs and then 4.5 miles from there. San Jacinto tops out at 10,800 feet, pretty good for So Cal. Took me about 2:45 to get to the top.

I don't know about a hard hat. I'd rather have a rocket up my ass to help get me to the top.

Great views from the top. You can see from the Pacific on a clear day all the way through Joshua Tree and out to the Salton Sea.

I spent 10 minutes at the top eating a sandwich. I had actually brought too much water (it was a very comfortable trip up), so gave out a couple of frozen bottles to people at the top who were grateful for some refreshment to cool them down. Then back down. Had hoped to get down in an hour, but took about 1.5. Felt like I was going decent, though. I always wonder just how long this trail really is.

The drive back is through Hemet, which may be a fine town for all I know, but I sincerely doubt it. It was about 96 going through. Hemet is a collection of stoplights specifically designed to slow your progress and frustrate you to the point that you pull off at one of the chain restaurants and drown your frustrations in a plate of fries. My favorite spot there? The Colonel's Buffet. That's right. All you can eat KFC. And the best part? It has a drive thru. I'd like 14 buckets of chicken, 43 biscuits, extra gravy and a diet coke. To go.

Sunday was a fun 2 and half hours in the evening. Was going to do the loop, but wanted to get some actual running after the climb on Saturday, so did the Spring Canyon to Oak Canyon loop. This is a long run up the canyon with a real gradual elevation change, then a climb up to the roads that run on the military base for a quarter mile, then a drop back down and back under the bridge to Oak Creek Canyon. The run down Oak Creek is a ball where you get back that subtle climb the whole way. Nice to strech the legs and ran the whole way, taking a 1 minute walk break every 10 minutes, just like I plan to do in the race.

Monday was a day off and Tuesday and Wednesday have been good runs in the Canyon. Trying to rest up for a big push this weekend. Only 1 month to Grand Teton!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monserate Moment

On Tuesday, I climbed Monserate. For all of its beautiful Italian name, I would venture to say that it is easily the most grinding mountain that I train on. Located about 20 yards from the freeway, its an old hardscrabble eroded trail that climbs 1200 feet in 1.9 miles. It is surrounded by avocado farms, and the whole way up, I have to crank up my radio up to 11 to drown out the trucks on the freeway. When you get to the top, I'd like to say that the whole horizon opens up, with stunning views from Palomar to the ocean available. Instead, essentially you look down into some guy's pool. I've never even seen a hot chick sunbathing next to it. Even Jerry Schad has nothing nice to say about this trail.
Having said all that, I love to train on it. It is hardass. There's no flowers, no wildlife, no distractions. Just hot climbing. Bring it.

Did an up and back during the middle of the day on the way back from a meeting, which is always nice to break it up. Did the climb in 32 minutes which is a good sign. Was going to do a double, but duty called at work, so had to hustle back after just one trip. Made up for it by doing a good hour with Gator in the AM at a decent tempo, then 2:15 in the western fortuna hills including the Fortuna double north and south, shepardson canyon, and a bushwack to the top of Portabello hill. The highlight may have been finding a small horned lizard, my second in a week. These little guys are hard to find, so that was a good spot. Still no good pics however.

Run tonight felt pretty good. It was much cooler for some reason (only low 70's), so my frozen water didn't melt, leaving me pretty thirsty. My latest trick before runs has been nibbling on pretzels to up my salt intake to avoid cramps. So far, so good. I've felt a little full, but no cramps at all, so I'm going to stick with it for now. I'll leave the chia seeds for Scotty.

A lovely view from about 1/4 up Monserate. This was taken in 2006 just after everything burned, making it even more lovely than it is now . . .

The beautiful commanding view of the water tank from the top of Monserate.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mission Trails Hero, Part 2

So, my goal on Sunday, after two days of partying with my favorite pseudo super heroes and manga loving perverted old men was to crank out 3 laps of my course. Unfortunately, with guests in town, I didn't get out there until 1:40 PM. By that time, the temps were in the mid-90's. Gulp. So I loaded up my pack with 4 bottles and off I went. I was at the saddle in 35 minutes, which is my first goal, but things started to go downhill from there. With the heat from the clay soil baking my face like a piece of tandoori chickent, my legs got heavy and my bottles got emptier. I believe I had the early symptoms of heat sickness, getting lighthead and nauseous. My pace slowed to a crawl as I forced myself over South Fortuna and down the backside through Oak Canyon to the car. Ah, sweet AC. I had gone through 100 oz of liquid in 2 hours and 20 min.

With 60 oz . of water left, having spent 20 min bringing my temps down in the AC, I headed out again, with the temperature having dropped to a chilly 89 degrees. The second lap actually went better than the first. I made it around again in the same time, 2 hours 20 min., which tells me that a lot of that first lap was problems with the heat, not my legs, so that was good.

My adventure this time was on the second lap. As I came through Oak Creek Canyon, I ran into a lady and her dog. The woman was obviously upset and kept shifting from one foot to another. "There's a snake up there," she said, "and it won't move."
"What kind?" I asked.
"I don't know," she said. Since she didn't say rattlesnake, I figured it was probably a king snake or gopher snake coming out. Wrong. On the thinnest section of trail in the whole park sat a 2 foot ornery rattler, easily the orneriest one I've ever come across. The woman said she had thrown some rocks at it. Well, again, rattlers move when disturbed, so she must have hysterically chucked some gravel at it and missed.

I'll take care of this, I figured, picking up a baseball sized rock. An underhanded lob and PLOP it landed right on his midsection. The snake did not budge. I couldn't believe it. I picked up another and threw it with some velocity, nailing it again. Again, it held its position, rattle going full speed. There was no way around this guy either. The trail was probably 18 inches wide, and he was smack in the middle of it. We could have gone back over a hill, but I thought I could take care of it.

Looking around, I found a dead tree branch, about 4 foot long with some branched at the end. I picked it up and used it as a snake handling stick, entangling the snake in the twigs at the end and then lifting him off the trail. As I did so, he struck 4 TIMES at the branch, the whole thing shaking each time with the violence of his bite. Finally, I used the stick to trap the snake and urged the lady to come through while I still had control.

Unfortunately, the lady had freaked out by this point and froze right behind me.
"How sure are you that you have it?" she asked.
"Well, ninety-five percent sure." Wrong answer. She wouldn't budge. Finally, I picked the snake up again and forced it another two feet up the hill, but I could see him squirming.
"Lady," I said, "this is it. Now or never." She finally went behind me as I used the stick and my body to shield her and her dog. Then I left that crabby snake to himself and picked up my run home with some extra pep in my step.

Never a dull moment at Mission Trails. Tomorrow will be a double ascent of Monserate, which is 1200 feet of gain over a little less than 2 miles, then a run down the ridge, a few hundred more feet of up just for a kick in the pants, then all the way down to start one more time. Think it will be a good one. A lot like Fred's, and it will be hot, but I've done it before, and its not too bad, just steady. Again, good practice for Fred's and the rest of the race. Wednesday will be speed work, probably in the canyon, while Thursday will be an easy day. Loose plan is to get up to the mountains on Sunday for a San Gorgonio climb. We'll see how that goes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two laps!

Finally, two laps! As a reminder, each lap was about 1600 feet of climbing and 9.3 miles. My goal was to do the first lap in 2 hours and to do the second lap in enough time to equal 25 miles in 6 hours. My general plan is to do the first Teton lap in 6 hours, and try to get 8 hours in each subsequent lap. That would be 30 hours, which I think is not going to happen. I think I'll be a little over 8 hours at least, but if I can get the first lap in 6 hours, that means that I have to run about 20 minute miles to put me in at 31 hours. That would be pretty sweet and certainly plausible.

Anyways, to meet that pace, 25 miles in 6 hours, I needed to be able to do the first lap in about 2 hours and the second lap by 4:25 (figuring that I will need to do about 14 minute pace). It was a bit cooler than it has been (only 83 at the start) so that helped. I made it to the saddle in 35 minutes, which was about what I had planned. The climb up Fortuna was a grind, but on the way down I saw a San Diego Horned Lizard, which are relatively hard to see. They are getting rarer because their food source, which are native California ants, is disappearing due to competition from invading Argentine Ants. San Diego Horned Lizards won't eat them for some reason. Just fussy I guess. According to the web site where I found this picture, the poor guy pictured below had a honey do list.

The trip down from the saddle went well, and I was back at the truck at 1:55. I took 5 minutes to reload my water and gu's and grab my flashlight. Heading out again, my legs felt all right, and I was on top of the saddle again in the same time it took me to get there on the first lap. Unfortunately, it started to go a little south from there. I really started feeling tired on my next trip up Fortuna, and had to break out the flashlight.

The technical trail at night started to slow me down at night. It was difficult to pick out a good line as there was not a lot of depth perception. As I got to the saddle, there was a group of people coming up in the pitch dark with glow bracelets around their heads and wrists and no lights. I don't know who had the idea to have a rave on top of Fortuna, but I can think of better places. Don't know what kind of sound system they could carry up there . . .

Footing down the saddle was difficult, like skiing in the dark with a penlight, but made it down and stumbled through the tech trail, making it to the road, where I almost got hit by a bat. The run ended with the coyotes calling on Kway Paay. Total time: 4:15, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. Had it not been nightime technical trail, I think I could have shaved another 5 to 10 minutes off of that, so the run was a success.

By the end of the first lap, I was soaking wet. I think I sweat more than anyone I've ever met. So I was changing in the dark parking lot at 9:30 PM when a couple of guys pulled up in a jeep and got more of a full moon than they were expecting. Oops.

Probably no run today to give me some time to recover. I will try to grab a short one in the AM, but want to rest for a 3 lap effort on Sunday . . .

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Overdue update!

Man, its been a while. Sorry about that for the 3 or 4 people that actually stop by and spend some time reading this. So it started with my attempt at a double on Thursday. I wanted to do 2 laps of the Mission Gorge course in 4 hours, which I knew would mean 18.6 miles with about 3400 feet of climbing, right on par with the first 2/3 of a loop of the hundred. The run went pretty well, but real life intruded and I had to abort the second loop after making it up to the saddle, but I did the first loop in 1:50 and was on the exact same pace on loop 2. I had to leave off the loop from the saddle through the third climb and South Fortuna, but was able to do the rest and felt strong. Here are some pics looking down the saddle and back up the saddle. They don't call this the wall for nothing! And the footing is extra treacherous with loose DG all the way down so it is more like skiing than running. This was demonstrated all too clearly, but we'll talk about that towards the end of this entry.

Looking up the saddle.

Looking down the saddle. Not a fun run down, as you will read . . .

After that was an easy run to end my training week on that Friday morning just to stretch the legs. Then it was a long trip to Chicago. The drive from Chicago to Holland, Michigan was super boring and full of construction. It was a shrine to orange barrels, although the way back, where you could see all the rusty buildings, power lines, and burned out housing projects was probably worse. Anyways, took Saturday off and Sunday was an easy run with my brother and brother in law up Mount Pisgah, which is a sand dune you used to be able to run up, but now have to take stairs. Lame. Anyways, its about 160 foot climb in a quarter mile up some steps, so it was a good workout with some really fun sandy rolling trails through the woods afterwards.

Mount Pisgah Stairs looking down

Mount Pisgah Stairs looking up

Monday was 1:45 in the canyon with speedwork. Felt good to stretch my legs.

Today was an adventure. I was going to do 2 laps, but was thwarted again. Was a little slow on my first lap, but doing OK when I was coming down off South Fortuna. Suddenly, I saw a red and white helicopter circling North Fortuna which then came straight for me. He looked at me, then flew back towards North Fortuna. Then I started down from the saddle. I was about halfway down when a woman came running up towards me. "Are you the medic?" she asked. "My brother is unconscious and covered in blood." I said I wasn't, but sprinted for the top of the saddle to signal the helicopter. Reaching the saddle, I was able to get the helicopter's attention, and they lowered a guy via a cable. We then made our way to the fallen mountain biker who had gone over his handlebars when he wiped out on the loose DG I had been talking about earlier. We all pitched in to help to get him secured. They then hoisted him out, and I helped bring the bike back to the parking lot, but my 2 lap run was shot again. Hmmm. I'm hoping the karma will help me more than the extra lap would have. The guy looks like he's going to be OK, with just a minor concussion and a lot of road rash. Yikes!

Arriving helicopter.

His sister and friend helping to get him secured.

The guy was messed up with the biggest fat lip I've ever seen and lots of nasty road rash, but still managed to try to smile for his picture. Tough hombre. Nicely done.

Hauling him up to the helicopter . . .

. . . and off to the hospital.

Comic-con week. We'll see what goes down running wise. I'll be getting my geek on all week.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Daily Double

I forget what the title is from, but doubled up today, and put myself in jeopardy. Get it? HA!
I am training every day, for several days in a row, because I am going to miss out on a weekend of training. But last night, real life got in the way, so that meant two today to make up. I went out on a rather flat 2 hour tempo run in the canyon in the AM that went remarkably well. However, because it was extra muggy out, by the time I got back, my clothes were all a different color from all the sweat gathered in them. Ringing out my shirt, I was able to almost fill the sink. Cool.

For my afternoon run, I headed out for an easy hour at Mission Trails. The legs took a while to kick in, but then I settled into a slow rhythm. On the way up the Quarry Trail, I saw a guy frozen in place. Looking down, I saw the rattler along the trail between him and me. I would say during summer, I see one a week, either in the canyon or at Mission Trails. Seeing two of us, the sucker realized he was outnumbered and headed back into the bushes. However, this was, as you will see, just part of his master plan.

I continued up over Quarry Hill, then down to the Rim Trail. However, where you had been able to skirt the construction earlier, they had constructed a new fence to stop poachers like me. Jerks. So I decided to retrace my steps back to the car as that was going to be about an hour anyways. As I came back down Quarry Hill, I looked off to the left just as my foot was landing. There in the bushes, at the same place I had saw him before, head sticking out maybe, MAYBE, 3 inches was my friend from earlier who had taken up ambush position in the low lying scrub. He made a strike at me but came up just short. He then high tailed it back into the safety of the bushes. WHEW!

This is my second close encounter with a rattler since living in San Diego. The first came running down the Dripping Springs Trail where a red rattler, fairly rare for San Diego, made a strike, but didn't get his mouth open in time, bouncing instead off my ankle. So far, so good.

Tomorrow night is a double loop of the Mission Gorge 15k, which will be 18.5 miles and 3400 feet of climb. The goal is 4 hours. We'll see.

I owe an NBA post. There's big doings on the horizon. I promise one tomorrow.

Did someone say Daily Double?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Recovery day

Today was an easy recovery run. My quads are totally busted up, which is actually a good feeling as its been a while since I've been really sore. The Cuyamaca Peak fire road is all paved, so running down it twice can definitely put a hurt on. Did a nice bike ride home to loosen up, then met Justin for a run in the canyon. Took a nice, easy pace and then a climb up The Slide. Not much else to report.

Oh, and a shout out to Who?!