Friday, January 25, 2008

My Running 2007 in Review -- Tag Answers Part 2 of 2

Last year Scott Dunlap had tagged me, so I had to answer 6 questions:

1. Most memorable moment on the trails in 2007.
2. Best new trail discovered in 2007.
3. My best performance of 2007.
4. I don't know how I previously survived without...
5. The person I would most like to meet on the trails in 2008.
6. The race I am most excited about for 2008.

I answered the first 3 earlier this month. I even tagged some other runners before finishing the assignment. (I tagged Don Buraglia, Jean Pommier, and Catra Corbett. Catra hasn't answered yet, but I'll excuse her since she just ran HURT and is organizing the Fremont Fat Ass 50k tomorrow. I tagged Chihping, but he'd already been tagged.) Then I had to work something like 100 hours in 9 days. It was horrible. Then I went to Mexico for a week. Life's tough.

4. I don't know how I previously survived without...

Ultra trail running! Handheld bottles! Arm warmers! Lube! But I guess this is supposed to be about something I adopted this past year, not the past half-decade.

Hmm, I just got a a Garmin 305 at a really great price. It's fun, but definitely something I can survive without. Gadgets are gadgets, running is running.

So that leaves me with...

Blogging! --as an outlet of minimally censored self-expression, goofiness, reporting on my races and keeping connected. Plus, I started reading more blogs too after I started writing myself. So for a guy who has weird work hours and basically trains alone all the time, and never gets to race as much as I'd like, I feel more a part of the community.

5. The person I would most like to meet on the trails in 2008.

I'll like to avoid a lot head-to-head sprints with Ron Gutierrez at the end of 50 mile races, but I guess it makes for faster times. (Click for my Firetrails 50 report--I keep inserting links to this one, so you have to read it if you haven't.) Most of my training runs are during the week and alone, so hell, I'll meet anyone.

I'm so lonely on the trails....

Hey, how about meeting that Miss France 2008? Nice, woman, you think? Looks wholesome, the kind you'd bring home to see your mother.

I was thinking this. But now I know better. In case you haven't heard, regardez! check out these links:

one of many on-line articles about the...the...scandal!

link to the provocative and racy dairy-themed image (Okay, about half of you are going to find this too lurid, so you've been warned!):

I would NOT want to meet this woman on the trails. No way! Spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E with a REALLY strong French accent! ne rien pas! I know what would happen. She'd wait for me to approach, lie down in the mud and feign some injury. Once I found her squirming on the trail, being the good samaritan that I am, I would ask what was wrong and try to help her. She would barely gasp out something in French. I would kneel down to hear what she said, prepared to assess and manage her airway, breathing and circulation using Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation and Advanced Cardiac Life Support protocols. But before I could even start to assess A for airway, she would grab me by the neck, moan, how she has this insatiable hunger-fetish for skinny dorky Asian ultrarunners and was thinking of me when she had those photos taken, how she threw away her chance to be crowned Miss World for me "pour toi," and using those wicked claws and insatiable tongue, start grabbing at my pocketed shorts, looking for gooey gels to lap up. As she's been working her tongue out, I would not have the stamina to resist her slurps. My knees would give out. I would try in vain to get up and run away. I would not be able to translate or sing the words "Leave me alone, I'm a family man." No one would hear my cries as the wind and my will would leave the last gel on my legs got lapped up and I crumble lifeless to the ground, ashamed, guilty of moral decrepitude, I would wish I had never gone out on the trails that day. I might even wish I had never taken up ultra trail running as my main hobby.

Gosh, I hope my wife is not reading this. This brazen Eurohussy is going to ruin my marriage even if I don't meet her on the trails.

6. The race I am most excited about for 2008

Well, I tell you what races I'm NOT excited about:

I would've been automatically in Western States, but I hadn't applied for 2007 because we thought our 2nd baby was going to be born around June. He didn't come until after summer, so I probably could've gotten away with it. I must start the lottery over. Maybe they will do away with the 2 strike you're in rule. Thus, I will probably make my debut in this granddaddy of all ultras in 2017. Just in time for my fiftieth birthday.

You trying to blame something on me, Daddy? I thought you loved me unconditionally! What kind of daddy do you think you are?!

For a few weeks I thought I was going to be able to do HURT 100, but there was no way my wife was going to let me leave her with a toddler and an infant on a Hawaiian island unless there was family help available, which was too hard to get at such late notice.

I would've entered the Tour de Mont Blanc, but I refrained from applying to save my marriage, because I think it takes place in France, which is filled with women of questionable morals.

I'd like to go back and defend my only ultra title, at Kettle Moraine 100 this June in Wisconsin. However, this is up in the air due to an information systems rollout at one of my hospitals. So maybe.

Despite this, lots of great runs, even if none are new:

I haven't done Miwok in 3 years, and feel confident I can shave a lot of time off the 10:44 I ran in 2005.

I look forward to an injury-free Rio del Lago 100, which will be my 4th consecutive year at this race.

But I am looking for a new race that would require travelling to in August.

Next post: The Inaugural Miss World 100km/150km Trail Series.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Injury Prevention 101, Patellar Injury

This is the first of what I hope is a very occasional series of injury prevention tips, based on personal experience.  By showing you all how incredibly stupid I am, I may prevent you from doing the same.  But you probably aren't that idiotic anyways, so maybe I'm doing this more to ensure, through public self-humiliation, that I don't demonstrate the same stupidity again.

Protecting Your Patella

The patella, otherwise known as your kneecap, is that nummular bone on the anterior of your knee joint. I think it slides up and down as your knee bends. I didn't invent this nifty bone, so I won't pretend to be an expert on it. All I will say, is that messing it up, the bursa overlying it, or the cartilage underneath it, tends to make walking or running downhill or down stairs painful, since 7 times your body weight is born by it when you descend. Here is a link to a popular web article on the patella, by Jonathan Cluett, MD.

So, if you are a trail ultrarunner staying for a week in a tropical resort in say Mexico, and you find that any running you do is limited to short expanses of sandy beach, so that to get a long run in, you go back and forth on a 6 mile paved bike path from your hotel, trying to stay on the grass, but that after several days of this, you get sick of the path and decide to go the other direction, where there is no path and end up running on sidewalks, up and down hotel driveways, through outdoor shopping malls and parking lots, and then you see a roped barrier at the end of a parking lot and you decide it's too much trouble to run around it and it's not high at all anyways.

When you find yourself in front of a rope barrier and decide to jump over it,


You will either clear the rope or you don't. If you don't, it's not like you will hit the rope with your chest or something and bounce back and land on your butt. What more likely will happen is you will snag one of your feet on the rope and your whole body will slam down on the concrete at the other side. You will probably land on a combination of the following body parts: face, arm/s, knee/s. In my case this past Saturday, I landed hardest on my left knee.  If my patella isn't fractured, its associated soft tissue is really pissed off at me.

Although it doesn't hurt at rest now, I'm finding it still very painful to walk down steps, much less run faster than a relatively slow 10 minutes per mile on a level surface (attempted cautiously the next morning).

This could present problems if it doesn't get better soon. Like before my first race in less than 2 weeks.  Or maybe I will get a lingering reactive arthritis, that will screw me up in my longer races.

Skinny Asian runner will take a few notes on this guy,  Liu Xiang, the 2004 gold medalist who set a new 110 meter hurdles world record in July 2006 by 0.03 seconds.  If not blessed with his hurdling talent, I will try the angry scowl.  (Better yet, I will skip this type of cross training.)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

My Running 2007 in Review (Tag Answers Part 1 of 2)

Looks like the Runtrailsbloggerman himself, Scott Dunlap, has tagged me, so I have to answer 6 questions. Just as well since I've gone more than a month without posting. Dunno, maybe something to do with the holidays...(btw, Happy New Year!)

Here are the 6 questions:

1. Most memorable moment on the trails in 2007.
2. Best new trail discovered in 2007.
3. My best performance of 2007.
4. I don't know how I previously survived without...
5. The person I would most like to meet on the trails in 2008.
6. The race I am most excited about for 2008.

Since I'm still reeling from the holidays (I actually started the New Year butt sick), I will answer only the first 3 now. You will have to wait for the second 3 another day

1. Most memorable moment on the trails.

I should've started blogging the year before last, as I had a bunch of these really memorable (crazy and/or pseudo-tragic) moments in 2006, but not nearly as many in 2007. Still, many memorable memories.

Going down (collapsing on the steps overlooking the Pacific Ocean after each of my calves spasmed in quick succession) near the end of Headlands 50k definitely is something I should never forget, and make sure I avoid (link to my original post). Also, my sprinting with Ron Gutierrez at the end of Firetrails 50 mile (link to that post) was quite an ordeal.

But it's not all about racing.

In the fall I had a surreal hour-long run on some trails near my house the afternoon after my 2nd child was born really fast (he came out so fast I missed it, while parking the car which I'd initially left in a no-parking zone with the lights blinking). I did this run while my wife was still in hospital.

We had left home with less than half an hour of contractions at 2:30 a.m. without our bags, and had no time to deliver our toddler Peter to anyone. Given the circumstances, the rule about no kids in the delivery room got waived.

Apparently my wife wasn't looking or sounding nearly as cordial or happy a short while earlier, during her precipitous delivery much more natural and anesthesia-free than she was planning. Peter should be in bed.

So almost 8 hours later, realizing he wasn't going to snooze, I drove him back home, fed him lunch and then put him in his day care for 2 hours just so he would nap. Before taking him out of the preschool, I ran the trails around there, foggy from lack of sleep, elated from having a new baby (and disappointed I missed his coming out, but more relieved it didn't happen in the car), and weirded out that I was doing a run hours after our new baby and no sleep. It was sort of perfect.

Richmond Costco parking lot, 4:30 pm: post-nap big brother still in same pajamas with cousin and my sister-in-law before going to their house, and before daddy goes back to mommy and new baby brother at hospital after bringing home new large screen TV he just bought, a surreal shopping experience to match the surreal run on trails

I went to attend an educational conference in Santa Rosa in November and made it a little famly trip. The day before my wife, her sister, the kids tried to get a hike in at nearby Annadel State Park. We started out too late, and before reaching a lake on top of the hill we were climbing, my wife and sister-in-law decided to head back. This was my last chance to exercise in 2 days, so I thought I should seize the moment. We continued up to hit the lake,

(whoopee), and then we had to get back down. I could go down the same way, but it was probably going to be really dark, and the hike would be too short. So we opted to go a longer way down. My son is on a carrier, skinny like me, but still weighing over 25 pounds with the carrier. I think I was in hiking shoes. He screams for me to step in every puddle he sees (there are lots) and perfects a new technique of jerking back and forth in the carrier, upsetting my balance, that he now uses on all our hikes. The sun is setting. It's getting cold, and it's not clear we'll make it before it dims too much to see. We laugh all the way down the winding trail.

I'm out of breath when we catch up with the rest of our family at the car, and sore all over, but at least we never wiped out. Perfect timing. Perfect unplanned trail run.

2. Best new trail discovered in 2007.

I won't count new trails on new races, since I'm discovering the races more than the trails.

Recently the East Bay Regional Parks opened the southern extension of Las Trampas Ridge Trail in the Regional Wilderness of the same name, west of Danville. This gives me a more southern connection to that most awesome collection of hilly trails, so I don't have to run so much along the Iron Horse Trail to get there from San Ramon. I think this photo is from the Corduroy Hills Trail, which I ran for the first time in October.

Close was an other East Bay Regional Park, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve, which I got to hit twice when out in Antioch to work a few shifts in the new Kaiser Permanente hospital at the end of November. Has a little bit of everything--steep hills, rolling meadows, views of Diablo and the Delta. All totally new to me, as it's sort of far from home. And even after 2 days of 3 hours each, didn't hit half the trails.

looking north from Ridge Trail

view from Star Mine Trail, in the southeast corner of park

3. My best performance of 2007.
Well, the only race I've won is still Kettle Moraine 100 mile, when I beat Joe Kulak. Hard to say if it was a fluke or something to better, but despite bad ankle sprains that I feel to this day, ran a great race. Still very happy about:

* coming 6th in the American River 50 mile, the 2nd largest 50 mile race (12th last year, 100-something in 2004)

* my sub 5-hour Ohlone 50k (didn't think I could do that, and especially because I went out to celebrate a friend's 30th birthday the night before and we didn't start eating the very un-carbo loading meal until after 10:30pm. I decided friends are more important than a race I'll do every year. However, maybe I'll bail on her 31st birthday celebration...)
* my sub-8 hour Ruth Anderson 100k (outlasted Jean Pommier, lapped Karno), and

* that hellish finish at Firetrails 50 (mile) essentially for a bottle of wine and not even a mention in the official report in Ultrarunnning.

Okay, enough for today. I have to find untagged people to tag. Please patiently wait for the last 3 answers. I promise it will be worth the wait (think: hot French babes!)
addendum, as of January 7th, I've tagged
Don from Monterey County-- -- great writing, always very thoughtful and interesting
Chihping from Fremont-- -- raced a LOT last year and is way behind on his blogging.