Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hardrock &/or Western States

I'm fortunate enough to have the 'problem' of having to decide which of the two most sought after 100's I should run this coming summer.

Borrowed from HR website

Many people are thinking, what problem?  Just run both.  Others might say, "States is the oldest, most competitive 100, how could you pass that up?"  Others, "Hardrock is the hardest to get into, you could try to win your way into States again via a Montrail Cup race."

States Start - Borrowed from Scott Dunlap's blog

A lot of people quickly point out that many people have done WS and HR back to back.  Nick Clark even got 3rd at each event back to back.  I kept thinking, yeah, but he had more time to recover between the two races, there are only 13 days between the two races this year.  No one has done them that close together...  Then I chat with AJW who corrected me, and talked about his running of both in '09 when only 13 days separated them.  And of course he did very well and it wasn't that big of a deal (for him).

I'm leaning towards 'running' Hardrock, and only Hardrock.  Sure, part of me REALLY wants to run my ass off at States, see if I can crack top ten.  Running with that caliber of athletes is very inspiring, and the buzz of the event is something I long to experience.  BUT, Hardrock is more my type of race.  I love rugged mountains.  I grew up in the Sierra Nevada's of Northern California.  Racing in them at States would be special, but after visiting the San Juan's of Colorado at Hardrock last summer I haven't been able to stop thinking about the race and the giant scale of everything out there.

I would hate to run States, then show up at Hardrock, only to DNF.  Sure,  I might slowly slog my way to the finish line.  I don't want to risk dropping out of Hardrock.  Right now, a solid effort at HR is more important that a solid effort at WS.  It wouldn't feel right to not give that race 100%.

Furthermore, I have other, more important things going on in my life.  One of my best friends is getting married the weekend between the two races and I am honored to be one of his groomsmen.  I am contemplating going back to school to earn a Master's in the Science of Nursing.  Doing both races could easily put a strain on more important things in my life.  I love running in the mountains, but it is a hobby.  Maybe a hobby that gets a little out of control at times, but it's just a hobby and means to keeping me in decent shape.


What do you think I should do?
      - Race Western States 100 only.
      - Race Hardrock 100 only.
      - Race Both!
After being selected for both races via lottery, I did go out and buy a lottery ticket.  If I do win millions of dollars, I think I'll do both races.  I could buy an altitude tent, seriously focus on recovering.  Flights to and from races wouldn't be an issue for me, family and friends.  Other wise, I think I'll just stick to the race with the saw-tooth profile below:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I Had A Tumor

I am in nurse in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.  I finished the Angeles Crest 100 mile race early in the morning on July 22nd.  Three days later I was at work, caring for a child who was severely injured and required an MRI of his brain and spine.  While the MRI was in progress a technician mentioned to me that our hospital recently purchased a new MRI machine, and that they were asking staff to volunteer to test it out.  They had to run some volunteers through it to fine tune some things before sending patients through it.  Free MRI?  Sounded great.

I came back on my lunch break and had the MRI done.  When I came out the technician had a worrisome look on his face and he pointed to the screen.  An image of my brain, with a huge lump of something where it didn't belong.

Do you see it?

How about now?

Yikes.  I knew this wasn't good.  Up on the top of my brain, looked like a tumor, or maybe an old bleed I thought optimistically, considering the fair amount of times I've banged my head while playing sports over the years.

Through the help of Dr. Powell, a family friend and brilliant physician, I was seen at City of Hope by Dr. Badie who ended up being my neurosurgeon.  He and his team, including Roger, NP and Rosalind, PA, were and continue to be amazing.  My surgery couldn't have gone smoother.  It only took the team an hour and a half to knock me out, remove the tumor - which was attached to a huge vein, and put me back together.

Dr. Badie I presume, holding my tumor.  Skull cut open, brain tissue looking good.
Going into the surgery I was under the assumption that my tumor was most likely a meningioma, which are very common and not cancerous 90% of the time.  Upon awaking after surgery and coming to, I was informed that they were surprised upon digging it out to find that it was not a meningioma, but instead a chondroma or possibly a chondrosarcoma, both of which are very rarely found in the brain.  How rare?  They make up 0.16% of brain tumors.

In the ICU with my good luck charm 'Little Frank.'  Thanks Megan =)

After surgery I was wheeled into my ICU room, where I was cared for by an amazing nurse, Bonnie, then Shay, my stellar night nurse.  The next night I was moved to the regular floor.  The following morning I was preparing to be discharged home when Dr. Badie entered my room with the news that the preliminary diagnosis of my tumor was in, and that it was in fact a cancerous tumor, and a fairly aggressive one at that.  Yikes.

Fortunately, he and Dr. Powell advised that I obtain a second opinion on the pathology of the tumor, from a facility with specialists who are familiar with these extremely rare tumors.  About a month passed between me hearing that my tumor was cancerous and my consultation with the doctor at another facility, UCLA.  Within this month I was preparing for radiation, telling friends and family the news - I had had cancer, I need radiation.

My imagination would occasionally run wild when I thought about my future.  When Elissa and I sat down with the doctor at UCLA and heard him tell us that they were quite certain that the tumor was not cancerous I was very surprised.  I didn't know what to think.  It took me awhile to realize that this was the best news I could have heard.  A week later, the 3rd "tie breaker" opinion came in from the Mayo Clinic, also considering my tumor to be a non-cancerous chondroma.  What a relief.  I no longer need radiation, in fact it could potentially turn any left over non-cancerous tumor cells into cancerous cells.  Glad I got a second opinion!

It took me a long time to write this.  So much has happened since I first saw that lump in my brain on the computer screen that I found it nearly impossible to write a semi-short blog about it.  There are thousands of details that I had to sort through.  Writing this brief synopsis of my journey over the last three months was difficult.  In order to make the story short and sweet I omitted thousands of important facts.  Stories of my wife, Elissa, my parents (it doesn't hurt to have a mother with decades of nursing experience when you're sick),  my in-laws, my brother and his girlfriend Vanessa, all of my aunts, uncles, cousins, co-workers, friends, cancer survivors, and others spending countless hours of there time and energy helping me out in my time of need.

Brain Tumor Fundraiser Walk last Sunday

Last Sunday my wife and co-workers surprised me by making team shirts with "Team Ultrarunner RN" shirts and completing the Brain Tumor walk with me.  I really have the best co-workers, managers included, in the whole world.  I am so proud to be an RN in the PICU at CHLA.

To all of those who have checked in with me, taken me out to eat, sent me cards, etc.  Thank you.  I have been overwhelmed with support, making it a little difficult to show my appreciation to everyone who has been there for me.  Just in case I have not been able to get back to you, or meet up with you yet does not mean that I don't appreciate you kindness.  Thanks for everything.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Angeles Crest 100 Race Report

photo by Jason Healey

0500 start, running a mile or two on pavement through the beautiful mountain town of Wrightwood, en route to the Acorn Trail.  In the first mile I realized that it was already warm and I was already sweating, a sign of things to come.  5 of us were in a little lead pack: Jorge Pacheco, Ruperto Romero, Raphael Arceo, Robert Whited and myself.  The four of us were a little insecure running with Robert and all his muscles (and of course he had his shirt off already) so we ditched him near the Acorn Trail trail head and we hung pretty close together as we ran/hiked up the steady incline, clicking our headlamps off as the sun began to rise.  Raphael was in the lead, hiking like a mad man, as we crested the ridge and jumped onto the Pacific Crest Trail.

I was excited to finally have some flatter dirt where I could speed up my leg turnover and open up my stride a bit.  Jorge, Ruperto and I pulled ahead of Raphael slightly and the three of us leap-frogged through Inspiration Point to Vincent Gap at mile 13.

Buzzing Blue Ridge, Baden-Powell looming on the left.  Photo by Katie DeSplinter.
Ruperto and Jorge were a minute or two ahead of me at Vincent Gap.  I made sure to drink a lot of water in the miles before VG and chugged a little water in the aid station because I knew the 12 miles to the next aid station were going to be a little slow and my plan was to run with 2 hand held bottles today, no pack.

I kept reminding myself of all that I've heard about the big climbs early in this race:  Tommy Nielsen, Scott Jurek, Ben Hian, Keira Henninger and other ultrarunning rockstars all preached the importance of taking it easy on these early climbs.  So as exciting as it was, to be janging with Jorge up in front, I hiked a lot more than I wanted to, ran less and tried to remain patient.  After passing Ruperto half way up the climb, I was surprised when I looked up 3/4 of the way up the climb and saw Jorge 10 yards in front of me.  We passed photgrapher Larry Gassan as he shot away and began the rolling descent to Islip Saddle.  Jorge would pull ahead of me a little on the climbs and I would catch up on the descents.  "Glad the course ends going downhill," I thought to myself.

We strolled into Islip together and I was greeted again by my awesome crew of Elissa and Andy, handing me my bottle of Chocolate FLUID Recovery and throwing a wet ice cold towel on my shoulders.  I heard that Jim O'brien drank protein drinks every 25 miles when he set the course record back in '89, I like my FLUID Recovery, so I followed suit and it worked out very well for me.  I weighed in at 159lbs, a couple down from the pre-race weight, but nothing to be concerned about.  Threw on my new Rudy Project Zyon sunglasses, left the aid station a couple steps ahead of Jorge and was surprised when he stayed behind me the whole climb up Williamson as we hiked nearly every step.  Passed my buddy Jayme who was out catching amazing photos of the race, as he always does.  I stopped to water a tree and Jorge took the lead down to Eagle's Roost Aid Station.

I drank up at this aid station, think I even downed a little coke as I prepared for the drop into the dreaded Cooper Canyon and it's stagnant hot temperatures.  As I ran this two mile stretch of the Angeles Crest Hwy towards Buckhorn Campground and the Burkhart trail, Dom Grossman drove by, pulled over and told me that Jorge was a minute ahead.  Made it through the CG, crossed the creek at the bottom and slowly made my way up the incline to Cloudburst aid station.  The climb isn't that steep, but it is very exposed and hot.  I alternated frequently between running and hiking, and was surprised to catch back up with Jorge while I was hiking. He was hiking as well so I stayed with him for awhile until he pulled of the trail and let me pass. I was excited to be taking the lead again at mile 36, but I knew the race was far from over.  I was feeling great, but that doesn't mean much when you've got 2/3 of the race to go.

AC legend Tommy Nielsen, crew/pacer Andy Salinger, pacer Eric Wickland and pervert Marshal Howland - spraying me EVERYWHERE with cold water at Cloudburst, mile 38.  Photos by Pam Everett.
After the hot climb out of Cooper Canyon, the gradual decline to Three Points aid station was a welcome change.  Cruised into Three Points, Elissa hooked me up with coke, watermelon, cold/wet towel and I was off again.

Had fun on this curvy/rolly section of trail, turned off onto the PCT and made my way towards Sulfur Springs CG.  Yes, it was toasty, but my silly hat and fluid guzzling abilities kept me from boiling over.  Ran into photographer Jayme Burtis again:

Ran up the hot, paved 2 mile climb to the Mt. Hillyer aid station.  Inhaled some watermelon, chatted with Dom Grossman a bit and was on my way.  Loved running through all the boulders en route to the Chilao aid staion.  The twisty and rocky terrain woke me up a bit and got me pumped up.

My crew loaded me up with watermelon, FLUID Recovery, new bottles, etc. at Chilao CG, mile 52.  I enjoyed resting for a minute or two, receiving encouragement from lots of friends.  I tried to laugh off the paparazzi, but it got a little overwhelming when Jonathon Stewart took a picture of Billy Yang filming Jayme Burtis taking a picture of me.  My first pacer Eric Wickland came to my rescue, pulling me out of there towards Shortcut aid station.

After running by myself for 52 miles, having a buddy now was a nice change, especially since it was Wickland filling me in on his stellar performance at Western States and his latest shenanigans.  Got to West Fork of the San Gabriel River and I jumped right in, water felt great.  Then the slog began, hiked most of the way up to the Newcomb Saddle aid station, in the hot afternoon sun, baking on the fire road.  I was right on my splits, shooting for a sub 19hr finish until I met this climb.  The aid station people were extremely helpful, filled my bottles and dropped into the canyon towards Chantry Flats.  Once we got down by the water at the bottom of the canyon, the temperature finally dropped a bit and I sprung back to life, weaving back and forth over the creek like it was just another training day.  We hiked right back into the heat up the short paved road to the Chantry Flats parking lot.

Beautiful wife/crew capt., photo by Unicorn.

Pounded another bottle of FLUID recovery and slowly left the aid station with my second and final pacer Andy Salinger.  I was lucky enough to have Andy crew all day and pace me last year at San Diego 100.  He generously volunteered to do the same this year.  We ran most of the trail until we got to Hogees and had to turn left up the Winter Creek trail.  Uggggggggggggggggh.  Prior to race day I was looking forward to getting to Chantry, thinking that the thick forest and setting sun would bring cool temperatures.  I was wrong, so wrong.  The air remained hot and still the entire 3 mile climb up to the Mt. Wilson Toll Rd.  My heart was racing and I felt like a baked potato.  My stomach wasn't wanting to work at all.  After turning my headlamp on at the top of the climb, I ripped open a Gu packet, looked at it, and puked.  I felt better after a couple minutes of puking and dry heaving.

We were welcomed by Trey Barnes and his Fleet Feet Encino staff at the fully stocked Idlehour aid station.  I sat for a minute as Andy mixed up a new bottle of Vitargo for me.  We dropped down into slightly cooler temperatures at the creek before starting the climb up to Sam Merrill aid station.
photo by Stuart Fingerhut
I was promptly admitted to the Sam Merrill aid station by an efficient medical staff of doctors and nurses, who administered PO fluids of water and red bull, fed me some melon and gel and discharged me down the upper Sam Merrill trail.  It felt so good to be running in my back yard at this point =)  Andy and I cruised into the final aid station at Millard CG.  I grabbed some more watermelon and we made our way towards the El Prieto Trail and the final 4 miles of the course.

I thoroughly enjoyed splashing through the creek repeatedly as we neared Alta Dena.  My feet loved running in my Drymax socks with Hoka - Bondi B's under foot, didn't take my shoes or socks off once during the race - definitely a good combo for a hot mountain hundred.  The dirt changed to pavement as we closed in on the final mile of the course.  Andy and I hit Lincoln St., ran into my buddy Jesse Haynes and we made the turn into the park.  Ran up the grass under the finish line and it was all over.
Photo by Chandra Farnham
I don't remember the last time I saw so many friends and familiar faces all in one day.  And the fact that I saw all these friends while we were literally running around in the mountains created a very memorable day.  Can't thank my wife Elissa enough for all the support during my training and all the help crewing during the event.  She was extremely organized and helped me out tons in aid stations, but got me out quickly too.  I've got to thank Eric Wickland for pacing me through the heat, and Andy for crewing all day Saturday then running into early Sunday with me.  I'm blessed to have the family and friends that I have.

Even though I was a bit delirious after the race, it was pretty sweet to watch so many friends cross the finish line after such a grueling day or two on the trails.  Congratulations Keira Henninger (RD extraordinaire) for winning the woman's race and finishing well under 24 hours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And last but not least:  Thank you volunteers!  Your long hard hours of work made this weekend a special one for hundreds of runners, crew and pacers.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer time and the blog’n’s… difficult.

Summer time and the blog’n’s… EZ  difficult.

Is it just me and my small circle of blogging buddies, or has the blogging world slowed down a bit lately?  Yes, people did blog about WS, but other than that it has been pretty quiet, right?  Maybe everyone is racing less as they train for hundo’s and they have less to blog about, or people are taking summer trips and have less to blog about, or we’re all enjoying the longer days and are too busy doing things more worthwhile?


Can’t wait to follow HR100 this year.  Yes, Tony and Geoff won’t be toeing the line, which is disappointing, but it will undoubtedly be a good show nonetheless.   Can’t wait to watch my buddy the Unicorn represent CA Mtn. Runners.  I will be the medical volunteer at the Pole Creek Aid Station at mile 80 and look forward to checking out the San Juans… in preparation for racing next year’s race perhaps????

My picks for winners: 

Male – Dakota Jones

Female - Diana Finkel.  I haven't been following the entrants list that closely this year.


With 12 days until race day I guess I’m officially in taper mode.  About 3 weeks ago, while running near the Idlehour Campground I drank some questionable water that left me with giardia in my gut, nearly through my antibiotics I’m almost back to normal and hope to have a strong belly by July 21st.  Nothing like a little intestinal parasite during a taper to keep weight down.

Despite my stomach issue, my training has been pretty good lately, I guess.  Haven’t been able to rack up as many miles as I’d like, but I have gotten in a decent amount of steep training up at elevation, including some great camping trips at 8k’

Felt bad about killing him, but with it being our first of 3 days at this site,
and with all the kids camping out next door, don't feel that bad.



Jorge Pachecho (of course).  Justin Angel has multiple AC finishes in 20 hours.  Raphael Arceo, saw him training near Telegraph Peak awhile back - looked and sounded focused this year.  Word on the street is that Dylan Bowman isn't racing AC after states now, but is going to toe the line with a thickening field of fast cats at Speedgoat in Utah.  Brett Rivers won't make it either.  Bummer.

I hope to be somewhere in the mix, but with my limited experience with this distance, if I were a betting man I’d place my $ on Jorge and Justin.


This race is going to be much more exciting.  Keira Henninger is my top pick.  She's run the course, she's in great running shape right now and she's uber fierce.  Angela Shartel will definitely be a contender up front as well, as long as she hasn't been disqualified for arguing so much with RD Uncle Hal during the trail work day, we'll see.  Sada Crawford, from the looks of things, has been training like nuts and is super talented.  I don't think she has raced a 100 yet, but has the potential for setting a new CR if a hundo isn't that big of a deal for her.  Paulette Zillmer, yeah, she's really good, won AC last year.  While Wendy Barth isn't thought of as being as speedy as the women mentioned above, she's a smart & steady long distance runner and I see her on the podium because I know she'll finish.

While it's exciting to think about who'll finish in front, the day is more special that that.  Hundreds of runners, with hundreds of crew/pacers are going to spend a day to day and a half running around in the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains and lifetime memories will be made.  Can't wait to see all my friends out there in a couple weeks.

Happy Tapering.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Why older runners out run younger runners:

Guess that changes the meaning of "running hard" doesn't it?!

While I have been running hard lately, in preparation for Angeles Crest 100, it has been the difficult exertion kind of hard.

Looking over at Taqhuitz Peak as we came down from San Jacinto Peak (10,800' sans Viagra) with Jesse and Chandra.

Loved returning to SD100 to pace this year, after running it last year for my first 100.  Was planning on pacing the uber fast Fabrice.  Unfortunately, he has been plagued by injury and unable to train adequately, resulting in a drop at 50 miles.  This was serendipitous though, as I snagged the first pacerless runner to come through the Sunrise aid station and run the next 49 miles with him.  Have never met Joe Rowland before, but got to know him pretty well in the 12 hours we spent running into the night and into the next morning.  What a stand up guy, and solid runner.  His fiance, Alison, was very motivational and fun to see at each AS, what a crewer!  Thanks for putting up with me for the second half of the race Joe!
Stonewall AS

I've been sneaking in a lot of fun runs with different circles of friends, love seeing everyone running races lately or training for WS, HR or AC.  From the Wolfpack up in Idyllwild, to the Badrats at SD100, running all over the AC course with PT extraordinaire Michael Chamoun, the 3 T's with Wendy and Elissa, camping at Guffy with Elissa, Dom, Jesse, Mari and Jorge, running around San Gabriel Peak with Billy... I've been getting after it, running hard, and loving the company.  Also enjoyed my solitary run today up to Mt. Wilson and back.

Allllmost to Telegraph Peak.
Chamoun on the way to Mt. Wilson, Baldy looming.
Elissa climbing San Gabriel Peak, Purple Poodle Dog pre-bloom.
Dom training for HR, Wick for WS and AC for myself.  
Eric, Jesse, Dom - Baldy via Bear Creek

Good luck to everyone at States this weekend!  Go out too fast and Eric Wickland will real you in fast!  He's a smart runner, smarter than he looks.  You've been warned...  

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Miwok 100k Race Report

Brother and Mom patiently waiting for me at Stinson Fire Dept. Aid Station

Elissa and I spent 5 days at Muir Beach with my parents, brother and his girlfriend Vanessa.  We ate plenty of good food, relaxed a lot, explored the negative tide - tide pools a bit, watched a breaching whale from our living room window.  Went for some hikes.  All in all, it was a great family vacation and the race was a small part of it.

Driving up to the dirt parking lot with Elissa the morning of the race, I still wasn't sure if the defending course record holder Dave Mackey was going to toe the line today.  I joking told Elissa, "keep your eyes out for Mackey,"  2 seconds later we saw him walk by in his Hoka One One shirt.  I was stoked to get to run with him, but knew that winning the race today would be a much harder task.

Jonathan in orange, Mackey, Owen, Jesse, Me
photo by Glenn Tachiyama

Start to Randall Aid (miles 0-12)

353 of us donned our headlamps and/or grabbed flashlights and took off in the dark at 5am in the dirt parking lot at Stinson Beach.  We made our way through the streets of town for a mile or two before hitting the dirt for a 2 mile climb up to Bolinas ridge.  There was a nice pack of ten or so of us, running up most of the climb, throwing in a little hiking here and there on the steeper sections.  As we neared the top I looked back and saw the huge full moon illuminating the Pacific Ocean.  Point Reyes was easy to see and below it on shore were two miles of hundreds of lights, slowing winding up the switchbacks of the trail I just ran, runners grinding up the incline.  As we reached the ridge and it leveled off Dave took the lead and I slipped in behind him, and Jesse Haynes behind me.  There were a handful of other guys behind us at this point, Owen from Alabama, a local Jonathan Gunderson, and I think a Tamalpais team runner.

We wove through grassy sidehill single track for a couple miles before ducking under the canopy of Redwoods.  Dave and I were running together through the Bolinas Ridge Aid Station at mile six and stayed together through the redwoods on top of the ridge.  Looking off the right side of the ridge the sun rose over the rolling coastal mountains and Kent Lake... absolutely gorgeous.  At mile 10 we turned off the ridge and descended towards HWY 1 and the Randall Aid Station.  I felt very comfortable cruising downhill and pulled 15 seconds ahead of Mackey as we made it to the aid station.  Elissa handed me a full bottle as I gave her my empty and headlamp and we were off to retrace our steps for 10 miles.

The day before the race my family and I hiked/ran around on the course a bit and I was so inspired by how brilliant green everything was that I had to wear my INKnBURN Lucky Charm's Shirt.

Photo by Unicorn
Randal AS to Stinson Beach Fire Dept. AS (12-26)

I knew my lead would be short lived because every short climb up until this point Mackey would pull ahead a little bit, then every decline I would catch up and sometimes pull ahead for a little.  He did quickly catch me and I hung with him back up to the top of the ridge and for a little while once we got there.  Then I let him creep ahead, but kept on seeing him just around the bend for the next couple miles.  I kept thinking about Ray Miller 50M and how I shot out off the gate and blew up at mile 14... wasn't going to let that happen today.  Before the race I was concerned about an out and back so early in the race with so many people.  Turned out that we were on the cushy duffy fire road when we all crossed paths and it was great cheering on so many friends and being cheered on in return.  There was plenty of room for people to be running both ways here.

The descent off the ridge to Stinson did not retrace the steps we took up to the ridge a couple hours earlier. Instead we took the damp, rooty, rocky Matt Davis Hiking Trail down to the aid station.  I love technical terrain like this and I think I made up a little time on Mackey as people at the AS informed me that he was 100 yards in front of me.  Did another bottle swap with Elissa, was cheered on by Mom, Danny and Vanessa, gave my dad a high five and took off.

Photo by Panda Lover
SFD AS to Muir Beach AS (26-34)

After a hundred feet or so on the PCH we stepped off the asphalt onto the Dipsea Trail for a couple miles of steep, frequently staired climbing.  But it was mostly shaded so I was feeling good.  Made it to the top? of Cardiac Hill and descended down Deer Park Fire road to the Redwood Creek Trail, over a handful of old bouncy wooden bridges to Muir Beach.  I was greeted again by my family and friends, swapped bottles with Elissa and made way for Tennessee Valley.

MB AS to Tennessee Valley AS (34-38)

I kept seeing Dave, about 3-4 minutes ahead.  My desire to catch him waned a bit as we ran for miles on exposed rolling fire road and the temperature kept rising.  It never got truly hot, but I perform better in the rain and cool temperatures.  Once it gets warmer than 70 I start melting.  It was unseasonably warm, the coastal breeze felt great when it was blowing.  Occasionally I'd enter a sheltered area of stagnant air, but these never lasted long.  I'VE GOT A LOT OF HEAT TRAINING TO DO BEFORE ANGELES CREST 100M!!!!!

Speaking of AC100, I made it to the TV AS and was greeted by the Queen of AC, good friend, and significant other of my buddy currently chasing me, Keira Henninger.  She pumped me up a bit, helped me through the AS, told me how "close" Mackey was and I took off.

Tennessee Valley AS to Bridge View AS (38-43)

Started out with more exposed warm climbing, then rolling trail, on the SCA trail and Coastal trails.  Snuck a little peak of the Golden Gate Bridge and dropped to the Bridge View AS, filled up my bottles and was on my way.

BV AS to TV AS (43-51)

Still kind of in a funk, ever since the climb out of TV.  Not feeling terrible, just not a lot of energy and I had to keep reminding myself to pick it up, it's a race not a leisurely run.  As I ran past a non racing runner we exchanged a little small talk, both appreciating the breathtaking day and scenery, then as I passed him he said, "wait... isn't that your turn?"  I had run right past a left-hand turn.  I ran back to the turn, thanked him profusely and continued down an overgrown poison oak infested path, but it was a fun section nonetheless.

Arrived at Rodeo Beach, ran across it and looked jealously at the surfers bobbing in the cool ocean water ( I was still hot).  Did a fair bit of hiking up stairs as I made my way up past Battery Townsley.  Looked down on the beach and lagoon, no runners in site... might as well take it easy to the finish, or so I thought.  Later Jesse said he saw me here, I didn't see him though.

Made my way up and down steep pitches back to TV AS.  I realized that a lot of these steep declines were too steep to go fast down, and tiring since I had to use my muscles more than if I were cruising quickly down a gentle slope.  Keira helped me out at the aid station again.  I asked her how Jesse was doing, having no idea that he was probably 5 minutes behind me at this point. "Uh... good," she said, and I was off.

TV to MB (51-55)

Gradually descended down Tennesse Valley road to the coastal trail where Elissa and I ran a bit the day before.

Elissa on the Coastal Trail, wearing my Rudy Project - Sportmask sunglasses that she seems to have commandeered.
At mile 53 I was running out of a switchback and out of the corner of my eye saw a runner flying down the hill about half a mile behind me.  What?  Where'd he come from?  Couldn't be a racer.  Looked closer, saw he was wearing a bib, and that it was my friend Jesse Haynes.  This definitely sparked me to wake up a bit and pick up the pace.  Made it to Muir Beach to see my family again (thanks for taking tons of great pictures Vanessa)!  Elissa took care of my bottle, helped me out with fluids and I was off, the less I let Jesse see me the better.

Danny running into Muir Beach with me:

photo by Vanessa Garcia

MB to Finish (55-63)

My friend and 50k speed demon, Chandra Farnham, ran out of Muir Beach with me for a minute to give me a little pep talk and techniquey things to focus on.  Thanks Chan-chan, it helped!

I kept up an honest effort, making my way back over the little bridges to the base of "Cardiac" and kept my momentum up the climb, peeking over my shoulder on the longer straight stretches hoping not to see Jesse.  Hit the top, jumped on the Dipsea trail and quickly yet carefully made my way down the steps.  At this point I knew Jesse probably couldn't catch me unless I fell, so I didn't.  Made it to the road to friends and family cheering and shortly after heard people cheering for Jesse.  Yikes!  Ran through the finish in 9:28:30, a mere 25 seconds ahead of Jesse, and 14 minutes behind Mackey.

Hoka One One's on the feet of the first two finishers.


  • I run better being chased than chasing, need to work on that mental game.
  • I was a wuss miles 38-53, need to maintain focus and become more comfortable in the heat.
  • Other than those 15 miles, I paced myself well for my first 100k finish.
  • My INKnBURN shorts worked perfectly.
  • My new Rudy Project sunglasses with photochromic lenses worked flawlessly.
  • I should dilute my sports drink with more water, so that when it's hot and I'm chugging it, I don't get sugar overloaded.  If it were more dilute I would have drank more, and I think my body could have used it.
  • Jesse Haynes is an animal.  He has been injured and hasn't run much lately, yet busts out a solid performance.  Way to hold it down for the Wolfpack!  
  • I like the 1/4 crew height Drymax Socks I wore.  The extra height helps keep rocks out of my shoes and socks, and I didn't get a single blister.
  • I am definitely wearing my Hoka's for Angeles Crest 100M.  My feet and legs have never felt better after running this far.  Sure I probably could have pushed it a little harder, but usually after running this long I've felt much more beat up.  The Bondi B's fit my feet very well, drain well when they get wet and have good traction even though they are marketed as road shoes.
  • I'm feeling great less than a week after running 100k, and the little bit of running I've done felt pretty good.  I'm going to stick to my routine of drinking my FLUID Recovery after all my longer runs and I'm going to keep running in my Hoka's!
  • Loved having family at so many aid stations cheering me on.
  • My wife is awesome!  Crewed perfectly for me all day, kept my spirits up, and already has a game plan for AC.

Nice video of the race by Jim Vernon:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Miwok 100k – Young Money / D-Bow Paradigm Shift - NorCal V. SoCal

Mackey or Honeyfield.  For a more comprehensive list of Male and Female contenders, Tim Long posted good lists here:
While this field isn’t 1/10th as stacked as Lake Sonoma and Leona Divide were, there are still a lot of solid runners and I look forward to leap frogging with them throughout the day this weekend.  Speaking of Sonoma and Leona… daaaaaannng.  Pretty much a trail running paradigm shift led by Young Money and D-Bo.  And what about Timothy Olson and Jorge Maravilla running so well at two fifty milers only two weeks apart?  Who do they think they are?

I hope to finish around 9 hours?  With the new course this year I don’t really know if that’s too ambitious, we’ll find out.   I am feeling great right now, but was not able to run a whole lot for a month after Old Goats 50M because of shin issues.  Luckily, a friend and aspiring PT extraordinaire, Michael Chamoun gave me great advice and his working on my legs, albeit painful, seems to have done the trick.  Thanks Michael!
So while I’m feeling so fresh and so clean, clean… I haven’t logged enough miles lately to keep me afloat for 62 miles and I expect to fall apart kinda early and then trod along till then end and consider it good training for AC 100. 
More important than how well I run is the fact that I’ll get to hang out in the Marin Headlands for a good stretch with my wife, parents, brother and his girlfriend.  Looking forward to hiking, cribbage, delicious food and avoiding poison oak.  I’m also stoked with how many friends will be up there racing/hanging out.  When Jimmy Dean Freeman comes to a party, he rolls deep and good times are aplenty.  Maybe his charisma can help us SoCal folk redeem ourselves against the usually faster half of the state on their turf?

Why is it that runners from NorCal are faster than runners from SoCal anyways?  Being born and raised in NorCal I’d like to think we’re bred tougher… but the mountains in Socal are bigger, we (I live in SoCal now) have more days of easier weather to run in, and we have wayyyy to many people down here.  You’d think we’d have the upper hand.  Maybe it’s because of ultrarunning having a longer history up there?   

Monday, March 26, 2012


First and foremost I've got to thank RD Steve Harvey for putting on a flawless event.  You can tell it ain't his first rodeo, and with the help of his wife, daughters and many volunteers they made it a great day for the hundreds of people racing and hanging out in the mountains.  I highly recommend running any of his races.

photo by Il Flaco


The clock counted down to 0 and we took off 20 minutes before sunrise, just light enough to see without headlamps/flashlights.  Fabrice, Jorge, Dom, Eric and I jumped out in the lead and stayed together, winding around the Bluejay Campground for a mile before reaching the San Juan trail.  For 5 miles the five of us stayed together on the gentle rocky downhill rolling single track.  Jorge, Dom and I pulled away from Fabrice and Eric right around when we veered onto the Chiquita trail.  Dom and I were laughing, hooting and hollering saying things like, "ah man, we're gonna have so much fun today," as we billy goated down the boulders.  Gee I started to have some GI feelings come up all of the sudden.

I pulled away from Dom and Jorge a couple miles before the first aid station so that I could hit up the port-a-potty without falling behind them.  Both stalls were occupied so I grabbed my handheld that a nice volunteer at the Candy Store AS topped off and decided to jump back on the trail with Jorge as Dom yelled, "come on guys, wait for me, guys...!"


The first mile after the AS was a flat mile that looped back onto the Chiquita trail, sending us back up the trail we just came down.  Jorge was running too fast for me to comfortable keep up at first, but I hung with him anyway. Luckily he slowed down a bit a mile later, but I was still feeling my hamstrings straining a bit.  I kept telling myself to let him go, but it was fun running with him so I hung on.  We both stopped for some water at the Chiquita Falls aid station.  He tried to let me take the lead but I declined, if I learned anything from running Ray Miller a month ago it is that I shouldn't go blazing trail early on.

photo by Pedro Martinez

As we reached the short stretch of asphalt in the campground leading us back to the start I told Jorge to have a nice race, that I had to stop at the toilet.  He said he thought he might too, what a relief, I won't be left behind... yet, I thought.  I ran past the aid station up to the toilet as Jorge took off on the Falcon trail, damn, there he goes.


I was peering around every turn of the steep Main Divide fire road, trying to spot Jorge.  I barely spotted him before he got to the Trabuco Trail AS.  They topped off my bottle, told me Jorge had 4 minutes on me and they yelled at me to get going already.


After running uphill for the last 12 miles I was really looking forward to these 5 miles of mostly rocky technical downhill.  I was surprised to see Jorge and pass him at mile 25, I knew he must not be his normal Campeon self today.


Lucky for me there was a nice big port-a-potty at the Holy Jim AS.  Then Bazz filled by bottle up,  Greg Hardesty offered some words of encouragement and inspiration in his bright pink outfit.  I slowly headed up the Holy Jim single track and remembered Fabrice and I were talking about this climb before the race started this morning.  I said, "yep, that climb is going to separate the men from the boys."  Yikes, I wasn't moving too fast up this gradual climb.  I pictured Fabrice passing me any minute, turning around and laughing at me.  I reached the Main Divide fire road where I THOUGHT the Bear Springs AS was going to be (this is where it was last year I was told).  Dude, no aid station?!  I have to climb up 3 miles to the peak without any water, uh oh.  Fortunately, the aid station was just a couple bends up the road.  I kindly asked the volunteers to throw rocks at Dom Grossman when he came through and I continued up the steep rocky road.  I drank a little too much water at the aid station and after swallowing a gel I felt like I was about to loose all that water.  I stopped running for 500 feet, my stomach corrected and I started to run again.  Saw a couple patches of snow as I neared the top, then you guessed it:  topped off my bottle and headed back down the 3 mile out and back.


Saw Dom with his nipples all taped up (I didn't know unicorns had nipples) about 9 minutes back from me, looking as strong and energetically goofy as ever.  Great, he can totally catch me, gotta keep pushing it.  A couple minutes later Fabrice, Jorge and Eric were all right together.  Dang, no cruising into the finish today, gotta push it all the way in if I want to stay in front of those guys.

Grabbed a bottle out of my drop bag as I passed through Bear Springs AS again.  It was pretty nice having so many well manned aid stations that I could get away with just having one bottle all day.  Thanks volunteers!!!

I kept popping my saltstick pills every 20-30 minutes, gulped down a gel every 30 minutes and maintained a controlled pace down Main Divide.  I think I got a little water from the Trabuco Peak and Horsetheif Trail AS's, ran past my buddy John Hockett (thanks for taking me out here for a course preview a month ago John).  Pushed up the last little climb to the Trabuco Trail AS, George Velasco gave me back my shirt that I left here on the way out and congratulated me as I cruised down towards the campground.  Saw my buddy and amazing photographer Jayme Burtis on the Falcon Trail just before the finish.  THANKS FOR ALL OF THESE GREAT PICTURES JAYME!!!!!!


Made it across the finish in 7:24 and got the 50 mile monkey off my back!  Up until this race I haven't been able to run a race longer than 50k without going out too fast and/or blowing up way too early.

It felt sooo good to pound my bottle of FLUID recovery drink, put my legs up, watch my friends Dom, Eric, Fabrice and Jorge, Tom, Michael, Kurt, Dan and others cross the finish line.  And who was going to be the first woman???!!!!!  I heard that the leaders were pretty close all day....  And Keira crosses the finish line sub 9 hours for the win!

So stoked for her, after recovering from injuries she showed up and held it down for the Wolfpack.  I wasn't sure if she was back to her badass self yet, guess she is =)  Then six minutes later my friend Marianne trots across the finish of her first 50 mile race like it was nothing, she's soooo talented!  Maggie cruised in in 3rd, then my homie Katie Desplinter - proving that her knee is biggity back in action.  Tiffany and then Diana came through, wow.  So many friends throwing it down today!

GEAR - from the ground up

Almost went with my LA Sportiva Electrons, but decided to wear my Brooks Pure Grit shoes, and I made the right choice.  They are super comfy and light, yet have a decent amount of cushion for pounding down rocky terrain and traction was never an issue.  They dried out quickly after running through a handful of creeks too.  My Drymax 1/4 crew trail running socks were perfect, no blisters, even with wet feet for half the race.  My INKnBURN "Zen" shorts were great, no chaffing or rubbing and the pockets in the front are super functional: one for saltsticks, one for gels.  My INKnBURN shirt kept me cool and dry the first 20 miles, then I ditched it and decided to soak up some sun until I ran back through the Trabuco Trail AS for the second time.  The Rydon Rudy Project sunglasses fit extremely well, and the photochromic lenses are very practical:  early on in the race the lenses are lighter, then when it got lighter and I was out on a sunny exposed fire road, the lenses get darker, love it.


My foot is in my mouth.  On the way home from the race, Eric Wickland sent me a text informing me that our Backbone Trail FKT just got demolished by Mark Hartell in 12:08.  Here's his report:  Why is my foot in my mouth you ask?  A mere 4 months ago Eric and I set a new FKT and I foolishly stated that it would be years before it would be beaten.  Well, I guess there's nothing left to do but go run the BBT sub 12hr... or at least try =)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012



1. Jorge Pacheco - He's Jorge & he has the CR here.
2. Fabrice Hardel - He will definitely give Jorge a run for his $.  Could pull off a W.  Ran an uber solid Chimera 100M so he can boogie on these trails.
3. Eric Wickland, myself or Dom Grossman.


1. Amber Monforte - Pretty impressive track record.
2. Maggie Beach - Could come away with the win, we'll see.
3. Marianne Barosa & Keira Henninger will be fighting for third.  I've run a couple times with Marianne and she's solid.  50 miles is new for her, but if she's half as tough as I think she is, she's gonna kill it.  Keira's legit in the mountains.  The tougher and the longer the race, the better she does.

There are plenty of other talented runners that are good enough to wind up of the podium as well, but I'm about to crawl into bed so I'm keeping this short'n'sweet.

Any thoughts on my thoughts?

Can't wait for this race - some good competition and a day in the mountains with tons of friends, bring it!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ray Miller Race Report

Photo by Natalie Kintz

Miles 0-5:

I was a little too excited at the start and took off ahead of everyone.  While my plan all along was to just follow Jorge Pacheco and Jorge Maravilla right from the start, I didn’t for the first couple miles.  After I was done running off my nervous energy I ended up running and chatting with Maravilla for a little while.  Didn’t take me long to realize that I was speaking in short sentences a little short of breath, while he was speaking as if we were just chilling at a cafĂ© sipping on coffee as we pushed it up the first climb of seven climbs spread out over the next 50 miles.

Photo by Jayme Burtis

Around mile 3 Maravilla passed me, and right after he did we came upon a little turn in the trail that wound around a bush that was 4 feet tall or so.  Instead of running around it he just leapt over it like it was nothing.  Sweet, I’ve got to try and chase this guy for another 40+ miles.  Just before we got to the aid station at mile 6 Jorge Pacheco had joined us, along with Jonathon Toker (Mr. Saltstick) who was running the 50k.  The aid station was well run, and it was great seeing friends Eric & Faye Wickland, and Eric’s parents, even if the aid station theme was all about the Dodgers.

Miles 5-11:

I stayed with the Jorge’s and Toker for the 6 mile loop up Guadalasca and down Wood Canyon. 

Miles 11-19:

I was about 30 seconds behind as we hit the Dodgers AS again, but I caught up after hopping on a fun winding downhill section of the backbone.

Photo by Jayme Burtis

Once we got to the coyote trail around mile 14 I realized that I was hurting wayyyyy too much for it being this early in the race so I started running in “damage control” mode.  Maravilla took off with Pacheco and Toker about a minute back.  Kept eyeing Toker and Pacheco around longer straightaways and as I got to the Sin Nombre trail I saw them across Sycamore Canyon pulling into the superhero themed aid station a couple minutes ahead of me, and got report that Maravilla was 6 minutes ahead.  I probably felt the worst right around this point of the race.  I realized I went out too fast and I felt like the 2 guys running the 50 miler in front of me were going to leave me in the dust. 

Miles 19-28:

I was dreading the climb up to Sandstone Peak, a steady 6 miles uphill.  Not super steep, but steep enough to slow you down a lot.  I actually started to feel better running up this though.  I knew I wasn’t running fast, but I thought to myself, well… most of my training consists of running up long ascents at a slower pace like this, so I guess there’s no reason I couldn’t bounce back a little bit right now.  Upon reaching the top and rolling along for a couple miles, hikers were informing me that there was a guy just a minute in front of me.  That boosted my spirits a bit knowing that Pacheco hadn’t left me in the dust quite yet.  It was a relief finally coming to the 2 miles of downhill to the Yerba Buena aid station and hearing Kate Martini-Freeman yelling for me as I came into view from the road. 

Miles 28-34:

The 3 miles out and back to the turn-around weren’t too bad.  I saw Maravilla coming back from the turn around, looking super fresh and cruising along pretty fast.  I calculated that he was 18 minutes ahead of me at this point.  Then I saw Pacheco and figured he was 3 minutes in front of me.  Again I was relieved that even though I felt like dog meat, his lead wasn’t growing.  Got my bottles refilled by Katie Desplinter, Monica and Sim then made my way back to Yerba Buena.  I knew my buddy Dom was dealing with a calf issue, so I was a little surprised to see him about 8 minutes behind me at this point.  He was looking pretty smooth, which motivated me to keep moving.  Jimmy Dean and I crossed paths, he was looking fresh and spry.  Saw the top for women, Amy Sproston, Shawna Tompkins, Meghan Arbogast and Angela Shartel, as I neared the aid station, all within a couple minutes of each other, looking very solid.  Pacheco was entered the aid station about 30 seconds in front of me, but I lollygagged a bit as I filled bottles and taking a gel, so he was out of site pretty quick.

Miles 34-45:

The nice cool foggy morning quickly turned to a sunny warm day as I climbed up the steep pitch back up to Sandstone peak again.  I kept on seeing Pacheco around a lot of the turns, but told myself not to get caught up with keeping up with anyone yet, that’s what got me into trouble in the first place.  I was stoked to start the long descent towards Serrano Valley and get off the hot exposed tri-peaks area as I entered the shade of the thick brush.  I reached the valley and canyon and soon realized that my legs were pretty close to cramping up, I maintained by Saltstick every 30 minutes regimen and staved off cramping, but couldn’t push it as hard as my mind wanted me to.

Miles 45-50:

Refilled the bottles at the Orange Aid Station, was informed that Pacheco was 3 minutes ahead, but I didn’t have it in me to chase him down.  I wish I did, but I was overly worried about cramping and really wanted to hold onto third place.  As I climbed up the Fireline trail I looked down on Sycamore Canyon and saw that Dom was not within striking distance behind me.  While that was a relief, it also gave me less incentive to push it the last 4 miles to the finish. 

Photo by Jayme Burtis

Slowly made my way up to the Ray Miller Trail, saw Jayme Burtis snapping some pictures with Sandstone in the background (the mountain pictured above that we went up and down twice), and leisurely made my way down to the finish, taking in the mesmerizing views of the Pacific.

Lessons learned:

I need to integrate more speed work into my training.  Not being able to run kinda fast on the flats without totally straining my legs in the beginning trashed my legs for the rest of the race. 

DON’T GO OUT TOO FAST.  I can get away with doing this in shorter races, but ended up paying for it this race.  I am realizing why I had the little bit of success that I had racing 50ks last year:  you don’t have to worry about pacing yourself as much in that distance and you can just run hard.  Also, the big dogs are more likely to come out for 50 milers versus 50ks.  

Drymax socks worked great, as always.  Love the lite trail running 1/4 crew height model, the extra height seems to help keep rocks out of my shoes.

Realizing that I went out too fast, and couldn’t hang with Maravilla was demoralizing.  After all the hours of training and thinking about this race, I really wanted to do better, or at least be in contention for longer than 14 miles.  On the other hand, it was inspiring to see him run as solid and in control as he did, and it looked like he was having a great time.  I’m looking forward to hitting the training hard and seeing what I can do when we meet again at Miwok.

Can't thank Keira and all the volunteers for making race day a big all-day party.  Loved seeing my wife out running around on the course taking pics as well.  Ray Miller 50/50 is definitely going to be a classic early season 50 miler for years, glad I can say I ran it the inaugural year.

Up next:  OLD GOATS!!!!!!  I have heard nothing but good things about Steve Harvey's races and I'm excited to jump into this competitive 50 miler.   Really looking forward to running with Jorge again, trying to outlast Fabrice, and seeing the look of pain on Wickland's grill on the out and backs - regardless of who's chasing who.