Monday, December 12, 2011

Backbone Trail - Fastest Known Time

We met at Jayme’s pad in Woodland Hills at 4am.  He was generous enough to offer to crew us on our mission to set a new fastest known time on the Backbone Trail.  We loaded up his truck with all our gear and headed for the coast.  It was absolutely gorgeous, crystal clear skies, calm sea and bright full moon. 
Eric Wickland, the wholesome Ohian Jay Smithberger and I started our run at the western end of the BBT, at the Ray Miller Trail just a couple minutes after 5am.  As we climbed out of the La Jolla Canyon up to the ridge we weren’t a mile from the start when a ground owl flew up between Eric and I, bumped into Eric and hovered a foot in front of my face blinded by the light of my headlamp.

As we continued out of the canyon we caught the beginning of the lunar eclipse and got to watch it until it was 90% eclipsed before we started our descent into Sycamore Canyon.  Once we reached the canyon floor there was frost on the grass, so stoked to have cool temperatures for this long fun run.  The sun started to rise as we started our biggest climb of the day up to Sandstone peak.  Half way up the climb we cleansed ourselves of our sins by slipping through butt rock.  Up at the top we made a little detour off the BBT up to the peak, stunning views.  Jayme met us up there and took some photos, can’t wait to see ‘em.

We cruised downhill aways, met up with Mr. Santa Monica Mtns., H’ard Cohen, and continued down to Mishe Mokwa.  Filled up bottles, ate a bit and continued on through a couple miles of rollers, then 5 miles down to Kanan Rd. where we were met by Jayme again, snagged a quick bite, refilled bottles and left for Malibu Creek State Park with a marathon under our belts.  Half an hour later Jayme rode out to meet us on his MTB and take some more pictures and let Eric and Jay know that they both made it into Western States!
Dropped onto the Bulldog Loop feeling good and were greeted by awe inspiring ocean views that never get old, no matter how many times I run up there.  I’ve got fond memories of this section of the trail, from running the Bulldog 50k a couple years ago and the Malibu Creek 50k last year.  We met up with my buddy Keith Yanov 5 miles out from Las Virgenes and quickly began a descent down a rock hard fire road that I tenderly remember as my least favorite part of the Bulldog race.  We reached the parking lot, grabbed a quick bite, refilled and headed out towards the longest climb of the day, 6 miles up Piuma.  I was surprised when the most veteran ultrarunner out of the three of us, with many fast 100s under his belt, started to slow a bit.  Jay was having stomach issues and decided to pull the plug at mile 50… either that or he couldn’t tolerate Eric & I’s juvenile/immature senses of humor any longer.  Either way the three of us had a great nine and a half hours together.  Can’t wait to see you tear it up at WS100 Jay! 

After crossing Stunt Rd. we cruised down five miles of playful, shady downhill to Topanga Canyon.  Realizing that there was less than a marathon to go gave me a little mental boost and knowing that the warmest part of the day was behind us made running seem even easier.

photo by Jayme Burtis

Made our way up the gentle climb into Topanga State Park, meandering through little meadows and eventually through the Musch Campground that Elissa and I spent a couple nights at last year.  When Elissa and I ran around here last year the trails were a bit overgrown and the poison oak was unavoidable.  Someone had put in some work between then and now as the trails were easy to enjoy without rubbing up on oak.  The whole trail in general wasn’t too overgrown with poison oak anywhere… but I’m sure I’ll still get some patches of rashes on my legs.  Pushed on up to Eagle Rock in time to look back and see the sun setting over the Tri-Peaks/Sandstone that we were climbing during the sunrise.  The dropping temperatures gave me a rockstar like energy boost, knowing that all of our climbing was over was a relief as well.

As the sun went down LA lit up and the twinkling lights outlined the gradually curving coast from Santa Monica out to Palos Verdes.  The last handful of miles were fun, rocky, somewhat overgrown technical miles that forced me to wake up a bit and focus since we were running with our headlamps at this point.  Petzl myo rxp headlamp worked flawlessly as per usual.

Made it to the end of the trail, then half a mile down to the parking lot where Jayme and Jay were waiting for us.  I was excited to be done with gels for a while as I inhaled a banana and pounded my bottle of FLUID recovery drink.  Also drank FLUID’s new performance drink during the run today, loved it.

Looking back at my equipment/clothing choices for today, things went pretty well.  Rudy Project Sportmask Sunglasses were put on (after the sunrise) and stayed put, didn’t have to adjust or keep sliding them back up nose, didn’t even notice they were on.  I knew my InkNburn shorts were good for a 50k, but didn’t know if they’d start chaffing further down the road, they didn’t at all, super comfy the entire run.  Pocket in front was perfect for holding ziplock of TP and saltsticks (took about 10 capsules).  My Drymax socks worked well of course, no blisters, even after running through a couple creeks and intentionally getting my feet wet.  I do think I chose the wrong shoes for today though.  I love my Inov-8 Rocklight 295s for technical trails/shale and mud, but they don’t have any cushion, and I really could have used some towards the end when we were pounding down the few miles of hard fireroad that makes up the BBT.  I should have worn my Cascadias, even if they’re a bit bulky.  I’m sure my feet would be feeling a bit better today if I did.  Eric was sporting the new Pure Grit’s and loved them.  I definitely want to try them out.  Need to get my feet into the New Balance 110’s as well as I search for the right shoe(s) for next year’s long races.

Thanks again for crewing for us Jayme.  Too bad that you’re on the DL and couldn’t run it with us this time, hope you heal quickly. 

So how long will this BBT FKT of 12:47 last?  It’s not like 14k of climbing over 68 miles constitutes tons of climbing, and it’s not like the trail is crazy technical, but there is enough climbing and a lot of the trail is technical enough to slow you down a bit.  I think it will be at least a couple years until someone can crack it. It’s not that I don’t think the talent is out there, I know it is.  There are a handful of locals who are capable of breaking it.  BUT, it takes planning and knowledge of the trail to get it done efficiently.  Eric’s knowledge of the trail allowed us to run all day without stopping to look at maps and kept us from getting lost even for minute down the wrong trail.  Jayme’s familiarity with the trails also made our run 100x easier.  While I do like the idea of running the BBT unsupported sometime in the future, being able to run with handhelds instead of a pack, and not having to drive out the night before and stash food and water makes the run more about running and less about the less fun stuff.

Someday it’d be fun to run it in the opposite direction, as most people consider it the faster way to run it.  If you’re reading this, and you’re a fast cat... BRING IT!  I want someone to raise the bar.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Santa Monica Mountains 50k Race Report

It was rainy and windy from the start.  Perfect temperatures for running and great trail conditions, except for a little slip'n'sliding on the muddy downhills.  It was awesome seeing so many friends racing and hanging out:  David, Evan, Timmy, Christian, Sarah, Tim, Sean, Josh, Jayme, Todd, Patrick, Robert, Vanessa, Todd, Keira, Jesse, Dom, Katie, Jimmy, Kate, Eric, Howard, Keith, Mari, Jorge and many more.

I jumped out in front at the start, I think I run better being chased so I put myself in that position.  Trucking up the first climb, it's easy to look back and see how close people are behind you on this course.  Marcelo Mejia and Dominic Grossman were a minute or two back at this point, definitely too close for comfort.  Heard some people up on the peak cheering as I neared the top, they started singing happy birthday to me (it was in fact my birthday).  Then I saw it was Kate, fully clothed, with Eric, Jimmy and Howard all mooning me.

I couldn't help but do a 6 cheek run by spanking, turned back around and saw the amazing photographer Jayme Burtis catching it all through the lens of his camera.  Thanks for the amazing shots Jayme!

Photo by Jayme Burtis

Wound around the coast before heading inland to the little valley, all gentle rolling hills through here.  Then back into La Jolla Canyon for a nice gentle rocky downhill back to the start/finish area.  This really is a gorgeous area, even in the rain.  Can't wait to run here again in February at the Ray Miller 50/50.

After grabbing a new bottle I headed up the beautiful Ray Miller Trail and I loved how much easier it was to run up this climb in the cool temperatures.  I was able to run with just my InkNburn shirt and shorts, which worked perfectly.  I didn't quite get cold enough for a jacket/windbreaker, but was too cold to go shirtless, unlike the toughguy Keith pictured up at the top.

After cresting the RMT we took the fire road down to Sycamore Canyon and it was super muddy.  I was hoping to clock a sub 5 minute mile on this section, but it wasn't in the cards this year.  Shortly after the turn around I saw Marcelo about 3 minutes behind me, and Dom just a minute behind him.  Dom looked as fresh and goofy as ever so I decided to push it up the fireline trail climb, which connected to the fire road, then back onto the RMT and down to the start/finish area to do it all again more or less.  My wife and I crossed paths at this aid station when she was coming down the RMT and I was about to head it up, stole a quick kiss and we were on our ways.  So proud of her for finishing a tough, muddy 50k with 5k + of climbing for her first ultra!  And today I'm watching her limp around like a 90 year old =)  Love ya honey.

It was great seeing the PCTR RD Sarah again.  Always fun running her races, especially at this race since I won a cash prize, other goodies and she had a birthday cake for me at the finish!  Can't wait to watch PCTR grow and I'm stoked to be the newest member of their racing team.

After we finished up racing 8 of us met up at the Wolf Creek Brewery for delicious brews, grub and goofiness.  Special thanks to Mark for driving all the way out there with only one good arm!

Thanks to all my friends for making this birthday a special one!

THANKS FOR THE UDO'S OIL DOM!  My whole body feels like a zillion dollars today, ah ha ha ha!

Monday, November 14, 2011


My mood is a little weird, as it's taper time.  I've been having great time with friends and family as you'll see in the pictures below.

Nailed the clay, I swear!
Wife & Father in law BOTH outshot me, again.

My wife and I  purchased a sweet little new ride, a Honda Fit, and were loving it.  Kinda weird that neither one of us have a pickup since we both did when we met... But I do see a Tacoma in our distant future.

Elissa & Lucille

I'm excited and nervous about this weekends race: PCTR's Santa Monica Mountains 50k.  Excited because there will be tons of friends there and Sarah always puts on a fun run, not to mention it's a gorgeous course:

A group of us are meeting up at a restaurant, the Wolf Creek Brewery, for amazing food and delicious craft beers post race, can't wait.  It will also be my wife's first ultra, and she's been training in the mountains a bit, so I'm excited to see her trear it up.

I'm Nervous because I haven't put in many solid long runs since Los Pinos and it's too late to sneak any long runs between now and race day.

I'm going to give this race all I've got, then forget about training for three weeks or so.  I'm not going to stop running or anything, but I am going to push the reset button, letting my body and brain soak up the experiences from this year before jumping into planning/training/strategizing for next years races (already have four tentatively scheduled but I'm not supposed to be thinking about them).

After a run a couple days ago, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to a couple friends discuss fun and running long distance races.  The first friend mentioned how he's been racing for awhile and doesn't feel compelled to run races in miserable conditions anymore, that he just wants to run and have fun, sounds pretty logical right?  The second friend chimed in that part of HIS fun with running ultras is being able to keep pushing himself towards goals in the face of high mileage ennui and other times when running flat out sucks.  Note:  this is my skewed perception and faulty recollection of a conversation that took place days ago, so the accuracy of the statements from the participants  may not be 100%.  Regardless, I guess it all depends on your perception of fun.

Cruising down Sam Merrill Trail

So where do you stand in the all run V. all fun spectrum?  I'm presently right about here:

The balancing act of life is tricky and I can't help but be critical of myself in my choices:  why am I wasting so much time running, I should be working on a MSN (masters in science of nursing) degree.  BUT, I am kind of in the prime time of my athletic age, why not spend a lot of free time training and competing while I can?  I love spending time exploring wilderness and it helps balance my life while relieving tons of stress.  This has alway been a facet of my life for as long as I can remember and its important to my being (whatever that means).  I can always get my MSN in a couple years... but it would be smart to do it BEFORE having kids right?  So when exactly are we going to start trying to have kids?  What to do, what to do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Los Pinos Race Report

Wow, since last years race I totally forgot how tough this course is.  Unlike last year, this year was much warmer and less torrential downpoury.  While you were able to see the beautiful views this year, it was easier to run in the wet cold last year than in the moderate heat this year.

Miles 0-12:

I was nervous toeing the line with quite a few fast cats, and when the race started I took off in the lead, probably a little faster than I should, just because it felt good.  One simple strategy I had going into the race was to get to the Los Pinos trail and its 8 miles of climbing before all the other guys, because they are better climbers than I, and I didn't want to try and keep up with them all the way up.  The idea of trying to keep up with Jorge on that climb, or catch up to him on that climb sounded improbable.  Like Noble Canyon, the first 1/3 of the race is rolling flats and downhill, super fun stuff.  So I enjoyed it and didn't worry to much about saving some gas in the tank for later.  Used one bottle for this section and it was more than enough in the cool shadey air.  Averaged a 6:36 pace up unto this point, now time to slow down A LOT.

Miles 12-22:

It was a relief to get to the Lazy W aid station before the other racers.  Threw on my 2L Nathan pack and took my time running on the short section of road to the Los Pinos Trail.  Ran the first couple miles then started to hike.  Looked back and saw Jesse Haynes looking very fresh.  Oh well, I thought, at least I'll get a little farther up the climb before he passes me. 

I slowly kept plugging away at the climb, appreciating each little saddle and occasional short steep decline until I tripped at mile 17 and landed on a cut off stump.  I just layed there for a couple breaths as I assessed the situation.  Wow, one second I'm running downhill, the next I'm laying on the ground in a bush with a smashed thigh.  I walked it out for a minute, then was able to start running slowly again.  A couple miles later I stopped to pee.  I thought my leg was just crushed a bit but saw a nice little wound:

My leg was hurting a little bit, but not enough to really slow me down, so I kept going, slow and steady up the climb.  Where's Jesse by the way?  He couldn't possibly be going as slow as I'm going right now, I've got to see him, Jorge, Dom, Tom or Michelle any second.

I finally got to the top then descending on my way to the Trabuco Aid station, passing by Carl Tedesco who was working the aid station and had run out to alert the rest of the station when we were coming through.  Thanks Carl!  Thanks to all of the other aid staion volunteers, your hard work is greatly appreciated, even when I'm too weak and confused to say so.

Miles 22-30:

It was refreshing to be done with that long, slow, hot climb.  The shade and downhill on the Trabuco Trail was just what my mind and body needed.  Then I got to the Horsetheif Trail and the fun and games were over.  Time to hike again, in the hot sun.  A couple weeks ago I ran the whole climb, no problem at all.  Today I walked the entire climb.  Near the top of the climb I looked back and saw Jesse, still just a couple minutes behind me and looking way better than I felt.  Well, at least I led the race for the first 26 or so, hopefully I'll still get 2nd or 3rd.  Made it to the Horsetheif Aid Station and was stoked to see Dean Dobberteen as he filled my bottles with water.  Since it was warm and I was drinking a lot, all the sugar from my Gu brew was getting to me, should have diluted it a bit when I was making it.  Slowly kept running on the rolling, rugged Main Divide fire road, wishing Jesse would just pass me and get it over with.  Strolled into the Trabuco Aid station again and got a little water for the short descent back into the Bluejay Campground and the finish, which I crossed just a couple mintues before Jesse.

What a sick event!  Once again Keira put on a great race:  awesome aid stations, cool race shirt, unique medal, and tons of other swag, including some new Ink'n'burn shorts to replace my ripped ones:

It felt great to sit down and be done with this race, forever!  Yes, this was the 2nd and final year of Los Pinos 50k.  I do think it suites me, technical steep stuff and not too much flat fast stuff that would let speedy people take off on.  Even so, I felt utterly misserable for most of the race it's nice to know that I won't be racing it again anytime in the near future. 

I couldn't believe how many friends and running acquaintances were at the race!  It sucked to see so much carnage, Harald cutting his leg up much worse than mine and having to drop.  Katie getting sick and dropping, hope they both get healthy soon.

Top 6: Jorge, Dom, Me, Jesse, Michelle & Tom

I'd like to thank my sponsors: Drymax's Maximum Protection Trail Running socks held up flawlessly.  My FLUID recovery drink was the first thing I grabbed to drink after the race, and my new Rudy Project Sunglasses were super comfy and worked perfectly.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Running in purdy places... time to taper.

Hit 90 miles with about 18k of climbing for the first time in months… and I’m feeling fine, no real issues to speak of. These aren’t super solid #’s, but I’m sticking to my plan of slowly & steadily increasing mileage and my body seems to like it.

Besides boring treadymill/stairclimber mornings before work, Elissa and I snuck up to Pt. Mugu for some fun running in preparation for the Santa Monica Mountains 50k.

Ray Miller Trail (Santa Cruz & Anacapa Islands in background?)


Got another good run in from Eaton to Hogees and back in the cool, moist clouds (a big thanks to the
woman who shared the bottle of water she had for her dog with me, would’ve been a tough trip back
out of the canyon w/out it).

Finished off the week with 23 miles on the AC course from Islip to Mt. Hillyer with Dom and KD.
Mountains keep calling, I keep going.

Climbing out of Islip Saddle

The more I think about it, the more likely I am to run AC 100 and not even throw my name in the hat for WS 100 this year. We have friends getting married on the Saturday that WS is being held. At first I was a little bummed to see this, but then I thought to myself that being there for this marriage is way more important than a race.  I could throw my name in the hat, knowing that my chances of getting in as a one time loser are pretty low, but I'm just going to focus on AC.  Furthermore, its rugged course with more climbing and descending suites me better than WS, mostly because I’m slow on fast flat stuff and relatively faster on slow steep stuff.  And if I didn’t have enough reasons to run AC, it’s right in my backyard. It’s also fun when a buddy has thrown down the gauntlet with a good time, to give me something to shoot for.

In two short weeks I'll be running Los Pinos 50k:  I'm hoping to push myself really hard and see what I'm made of, but I'm being realistic as well.  The major contenders on the men's side:  Jorge, Tom, Dom & Jesse have won 67 ultras between the four of them.  While I think I'm in good 50k shape, and in good shape for this type of course, I'm going up against some studs, who'll also be pushing it.  While I do plan to be in the mix for some of the race, I don't think I quite have what it takes to take down the monster that is Jorge Pacheco, or the other guys for that matter, but it'll be fun trying. Competing with this caliber of runners will push me to my limit and I’m looking forward to it.  I'm hoping to improve on my time from last year on this course by 30 minutes, which would be a time of 4:45ish, I think I can do this, IF it’s cool.

CHLA just had a nice health fair at work so I got to see how my blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, body fat %, bone density and other health indicators are doing.  Everythings pretty good, except my systolic BP is a little high (130's).  Probably related to stress and drinking a wee bit too much caffeine. 

I'm stoked to be running for the Rudy Project Sunglasses' Ultra Team now.  I've been running in a pair of Sportmask Performance Running Sunglasses and I love 'em.  Super light and comfy.  Definitely an upgrade from my last pair of expo specials.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Noble Canyon 50k Race Report

all photos by AnaMaria Hardel

I chose to drive down the night before the race and camp in the back of my Subaru.  I got to see a handful of friends who were also camping out, like John Hockett, who graciously let me graze on some good food he brought.  A big thanks to the Shriner's for letting us runners use there camp for the San Diego 100 and Noble Canyon 50k, their camp and lodge make for the perfect race venue.

Always nice to wake up at the race site and not have to wake up at a ridiculous hour to drive there.  Checked in and got my bib from the sweetest(sauce) RD Keira and finally met her beau the fastcat Jesse.  I couldn't help think as we shook hands and said our "nice to meet you's" that I can't wait to try and make you suffer at Los Pinos 50k.  He's got better climbing skills than I, so it'll be me suffering as I struggle to chase him, Jorge and Dom up the 8mi climb.

Elevation Profile:
31.3mi, 4k' of elevation gain.

Miles 0-6

The race started and I was stoked with the cool temperature, fingers were a bit numb and I was surprised to see frost on the grass in the first flat miles as we weaved along the forest edge through the pines, looking down on Big Laguna Lake.  Dean Dobberteen took the lead early on, with Fabrice Hardel on his heels and myself keeping them with in 10 yards or so.  We kept a 6:30 pace, which seemed reasonable in the flats in this cool air. 

Miles 6-13

As we began to descend into Noble Canyon Dean started to pull away from Fabrice a little and I felt comfortable keeping up with Dean so I slipped past Fabrice and we continued to fly down the canyon.  Considering how rocky and technical these miles were, I couldn't go much faster without being totally reckless, we snuck one mile in under a 6min/mi pace, which wouldn't be fast on a smooth downhill singletrack, but on this trail I was happy with that.  Ditched a waterbottle at the Big Tree Aid Station where the bad rat Tracy was holding it down.  If it weren't for Dean running ahead of me I doubt I would have ran down as fast as I did.  I was tempted to hold back a bit but I thought to myself... this is going to be the funnest part of the course, I might as well enjoy it, so I did.  We got to the bottom of the canyon, to the turn around with a 6:45 avg pace.  I filled up my waterbottle and snuck out of the aid station before Dean, taking the lead, as I headed back up Noble Canyon.

Miles 13-26

Before the race I was concerned about the turnaround and how I'd be coming up this technical singletrack with about 200 people coming down and how all of us would keep from running eachother off the trail.  It wasn't an issue at all, and I totally got a boost from all the people cheering me on, and I enjoyed cheering everyone else on and watching them cruise down the canyon.  I saw Fabrice about 4 minutes after leaving the turn around and I knew he'd make good time coming back up the hill.  I was a little releived to have this lead on him, but I knew it wasn't a lead he couldn't quickly overcome.  Knowing that he ran UTMB 3 weeks prior (in a stellar time) eased my worries a LITTLE bit.  Picked up the bottle I ditched on the way down as I ran through the Big Tree Aid Station again.  Kept cruising up to Penny Pines Aid Station that Pam Everett was running, got some gatorade and headed out.  Thanks Pam!  Enjoyed a short flat stretch before the gradual climb towards monument peak where I was spooked by Jesse Haynes out on the course.  Finally, done with the 13 miles of climing and time for some rolling hills.

Miles 27-31

Snagged some water from my homie Keira at the Rate Hole (aka Honey Badger Hole) Aid Station.  When I asked how much of a lead I had she said 4 minutes.  I was a little worried because I was starting to feel worn out.  Then at mile 28.5 I tripped, felt on some rocks hitting my shoulder and head, and my hammstrings totally cramped up.  I goofily rolled over and made it to my feet and started to walk/stretch for a couple minutes.  Great I thought, had the lead up until 2mi from the finish then cramped up to give it away.  Fortunatley, the cramping subsided and I was able to cruies to the finish in a time of 4:03 and change.  I couldn't help but remember running these last 6 miles or so, which were the same as the last 6 of the SD100 course, except this time it wasn't dark and I didn't have Jimmy Dean Freeman pacing me in his argyle Giants pants.  For anyone who ran Noble Canyon 50k and loved the course, you should give SD 100 some serious consideration as it is very similar, just 70 more miles.

'bout to kiss the rat
RD Brian Gonzalez, Fabrice, me, Scott Mills

You know it's going to be a well run race with guys like Brian and Scotty running the show.

Had absolutely no blisters and I still love my Drymax Socks, only feet issue was repeatedly stubbing my toe on rocks.

First thing I drank after the race was a bottle of pre-made chocholate FLUID recovery drink, perfect post run beverage.

Time to start training for Los Pinos!

Saw some camels near Julian on the way up to the race:

Those guys made me think of a great old song, enjoy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fire in my belly re-ignited

It's been awhile since my last post, mostly because Elissa and I recently moved from Thousand Oaks down to Pasadena.  We were kind of living out of both places for a bit and didn't get the internet hooked up for awhile.  A lot has happened since my last post, good times were aplenty.

Mt. San Antonio w/ Doberteen & Wickland
Hit up 9 peaks on that run pictured above (W. Baldy, Mt. San Antonio, Thunder, Telegraph, Timber, Bighorn, Ontario, Cucamonga, Harwood), I was suffering but Eric was nice enough to take it easy so that I could keep up.  He's looking great for Wasatch 100 coming up.  Here's the profile of the 32mi/11.8k hike/run:

Shortly after that jaunt Elissa and I snuck up to the motherland, Northern California, to visit my parents, brother, aunt, uncles and friends for about a week.

Spanish Peak with Mom

End of August and Spanish Peak still has snow, Elissa can hardly believe it.

Even snuck in some fishing at Buck's Lake with a couple new friends.

Now that we're finally settled into our new place in Pasadena, I've been able to get into a routine with running:  hitting up the treadmill and stairmill before work on work days, and running around the San Gabriels on my days off.  I've started to up my mileage a bit, nothing crazy yet but some decent weeks and I'm stoked to race again.  While I only have two races offically scheduled, Noble Canyon 50k and Los Pinos 50k, I'm also eyeing the Santa Monica Mountains 50k, Ray Miller 50/50, Leona Divide 50M and I kind of feel AC100 calling me.  Seems like yesterday I ran my first hundred and loved not having ANY races on the horizon.  Now that I've seen some closely contested races go down at Mt. D and the Bulldog, I want to get in on that.

Living closer to work makes life less stressful and gives me at least an hour of more free time everywork day.  Work itself has been trying lately, emotionally draining and the frustrations from moving into the new hospital building continue, but I'm working to fix the things that can be fixed and trying to accept the things I can not, but it is getting better and I'm determined to help fix things so that I can be more like my old self at work and less like the grumpy guy I frequently am.

Seems like everyone ends their blog posting with some silly music video.  So here's what was hot in Australia about 15 years ago when I was lucky enough to be a Rotary Exchange Student for a summer:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Finally a decent week... but poison oak returns

75 miles last week, which isn't anything to write home about, but it's more than I've run for awhile, and I had 2 good climbing runs this week.  The first, Eaton to Mt. Wilson and back:

I really like running down in the San Gabriels because you can run long uphills and long down hills, really lets me lock into a rhythm and hone my climbing and descending.

Saturday I ran with Dom and Tom, and Tom's dog Cormac, from Chantry up to shortcut, then to some other aid station of the Mt.D course, and back down to Chantry:

Absolutely loved watching all of the Mt. Dissapointment 50k runners pushing hard in the heat.  Saw a ton of familiar faces racing and helping out at aid stations.  Glad I wasn't racing it though, not quite ready yet.  I'm ready to run that far, but I want to seriously compete at my next race and it'll be a few weeks until I feel ready.  That next race will be Noble Canyon 50k, can't wait to go camp out and run a competitive race.

Got some poison oak running around with Dom again, hopefully it'll subside quickly.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Favorite Local Run - Elissa's Triathlon - New Hospital Building

(pic from last time I was up there)

I was stoked to run up Boney Mtn. in the Santa Monica Mountains this morning.  I haven't been up there in 5 months!.  Why the hiatus?  The last time I ran up there I got some nasty poison oak rashes.  The trail is overgrown, so I've patiently waited for the foliage to dry out a bit.  The poison oak didn't LOOK to bad today, and I scrubbed with Tecnu immediately after the run, my fingers are crossed.

Here's an elevation profile of my slow journey this AM... when I'm in shape, a couple pounds lighter, and do this on a cool day I can run every step to the top, not the case today unfortunately.
2,000' up in 3 miles, love it.  Didn't love the heat though, guess I need to start hanging out in the sauna again.

IF I don't get a gnarly poison oak rash, my plan is to run this route a lot in preparation for the Noble Canyon 50k coming up in September.  The competition will be stiff with the likes of Fabrice Hardel, Dean Dobberteen and Eric Clifton toeing the line, not to mention 220 or so others, and I'm sure someone I haven't heard of will tear it up... as per usual.

This trail is also great training for the next two races I plan on running: Los Pinos 50K & Ray Miller 50/50.  My route today didn't quite include any of the Ray Miller course, but I was able to look down on a lot of it.  It's going to be such a sick, tough race.  Stoked to have an awesome event coming up right in my backyard!  And I'm sure it'll bring out all the top dogs: it's a Keira race, there's a ca$h prize for the winners, and it's a gorgeous/brutal course.  BRING IT!

Elissa's First 70.3!

There she is, yellow cap, turquoise suit

I had a great long weekend crewing/photag'n my beautiful wife up in Windsor last weekend as she competed in a 70.3 mile triathlon.  Her fan club was rolling deep: me, her mom & dad, grandma, my aunt, cousin and cousin's daughter.  She finished well under her projected time and was walking around the next day in wayyyy too little pain.  Then we celebrated her dad's birthday and her birthday and dental hygiene graduation with her family up in Stockton.  It was great finally getting to see all of them again!  And of course we ate tons of delicious food.

Greg looks great for 15 doesn't he!

New Hospital Building:  most of the units at Children's Hospital Los Angeles have relocated to the new hospital building on campus.  I knew it would be difficult and there would be a lot of changes, but wow.  I had no idea it would be this different and that the move would require so much time, effort and resources.  I feel EXTREMELY fortunate to work with so many great people, and my hat goes off to all of my managers, putting in ridiculous hours to facilitate the move.

I had a tough time last shift, I didn't have a crazy assignment, or super sick patient, but there are many little stressors that pop up when so many actions I took for granted in the old unit, are now different, or require a couple phone calls before I can do what I need to do to take care of my patients.  

I'm telling myself that it's like running a long race... there are times when you feel great, times when you feel like throwing in the towel, but persistence and tenacity will pay off and things will get better.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'M BACK... almost

After about a month of nagging injuries stemming from an awesome experience at SD100, I am almost 100% recovered.  After running 100 miles I think that I should do more leg strengthening exercises like lunges, calf raises, etc. to prevent shin splints like I got after the race.  I think I'll wear shoes with a little more cushion than the New Balance 101's as well.  It could be that running 100 miles is just hard on the body, and running in cushier shoes with slightly stronger legs won't leave me feeling any better after the next 100 I run... but there's only one way to find out.

Man, after watching Hardrock 100, I really want to run that race, but doing so will require traveling to another qualifying race between now and this time next year... then getting lucky enough to have my name drawn in the lottery.

Can't wait to see how Angeles Crest unfolds, have a lot of friends and acquaintances running it and I'm sure the're be countless stories to hear when it's all said and done.

Elissa and I just got back from a sweet 10 day trip to Colorado.  We both got a lot of training in for a vacation.  She's got a 70.3 coming up at the end of this month and I'm training for... uh... I don't know yet.  Mt. Disappointment 50k?  I put in about 50 miles of running last week, about 30 miles of biking and even a little swimming.  The biking seems like a good way to build endurance and strength back up while taking it easy on my improving legs.

While 50 miles isn't much running for a week, most of it was up in elevation and included some slow, steep stuff, and even some glissading.  Here's a fun 10 miler I did out of Boulder, CO up to Bear Mtn. then over to Green Mtn.:  Bear to Green by at Garmin Connect - Details

Elissa frolicking through the Garden of the Gods
Red Rocks amphitheater in the far left of the pic

Rocky Mountain National Park
Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs

Had a great time on vacation.  It was nice to explore Colorado, but it also felt good to go back to work, doing something that I enjoy with a bunch of coworkers that are great friends and a pleasure to work with.