Friday, May 16, 2008

Heat Training with Power Tools on My Local Stretch of the Bay Area Ridge Trail, & My Extreme Green Ultrarunning Lifestyle, an Ohlone 50k Prelude

My older son's preschool requires all parents to put in 6 hours of volunteer work a year. The last "parents' work party" scheduled was once again a race day, May 3rd, the same day as Miwok, so that was out. I still needed to put in my hours for the school year.

The school director thus assigned me the task of fastening brackets to several desks with unstable legs. On Friday after my son entered his classroom, I unloaded my electric drill, set up outside in the front, and got to work.

sexy screw shot. I hope this is not too explicit for anyone.

I soon found that many of my screws weren't quite matching up with the holes on the brackets, even though I was drilling small holes in first. From installing a curtain rod years ago, I remembered that using a nail set kit (designed for countersinking finishing nails) to start a hole made drilling and screwing a lot easier and more accurate. Plus the drill I was using had this huge attachment that made it impossible to keep the drill perpendicular to the desk surface. Problem was, all these other tools were at home. If I weren't running all the time, I'd be more useful around the house and would've realized this earlier.

It's only a 2 1/2 mile drive in the Prius each way to home, but why drive and add even a little more carbon to the atmosphere on a super hot smoggy day, when I can run trail? I had rested enough after my Quicksilver 50 mile race on Saturday, my only exercise being 2-3 hours of bicycle commuting on Monday and Wednesday. And since the high in Livermore would be 90 this race Sunday, I thought it would pay to do a little heat training.

Face it, 99.99% of people in the same situation, not being in the crazy subset of the already unusual subset of ultrarunners, would drive.

I ran home slowly mostly down the trail (which I will illustrate below), hydrated, stuck the hammer and nail set in a small backpack, found the other electric drill, refused the lunch offered by my wife, then set off for the preschool.


So, now you get to see the section of the yet to be completed 550+ mile Bay Area Ridge Trail close to where I live. I call it mine, because the first 1/2 mile of this short 2 1/2 mile stretch to near my son's school is rarely maintained, so I end up doing a lot of trail maintenance (mainly trimming back poison oak). Volunteer work, I guess, but mostly in self-interest.

This segment is very hard to find and follow, and despite the East Bay Regional Park District's name of Chabot to Garin Trail, you can't really get all the way to Garin from Chabot (I tried once years ago, got stuck in a cul-de-sac and almost got mooed and trampled to death by a mob of angry cows.)

Most of the way from my house back to the school is uphill.

It has single-track...

...poison oak hanging from above or the side, as well as below, to make things challenging. I'll have to do some trimming with my shears soon.

After a short stretch of road in a residential subdivision, there is dirt path alongside this road. You can go under a major highway this way, but

there is the lower trail option as cars, trucks and trains thunder above.

uphill in shade...

and further uphill out of the shade...

Okay, maybe I look scrawny, but you try 25 minutes, mostly uphill, on a sweltering (upper 90's Fahrenheit) midday, carrying this baby....don't mess with me!

After running out of brackets to attach, I worked on a few chairs. My back is killing me from doing all that drilling while sitting in a chair sized for 3 and 4-year olds. My son and most of the school was in their midday nap. I was thinking of taking him out early to head to a nearby playground with a fountain, but still they wouldn't be for at least an hour, and maybe I should work out the pain in my back. So I stashed the tools in my car, and ran back home on the trail for the 2nd time that day, taking the photos above for this blog.

After a quick rest, my wife asked me why I left the car at the school, and I had no answer that would make her respect me any more than she already doesn't, despite doing the righteous, green, healthy, ultrarunning thing. "You probably ran so you could blog about it" she accuses me.
After more fluids, and whipping out some moves on Facebook Scrabulous. I head out again to jog the mostly uphill trail back. By this time, it was even hotter. I was starting to feel it a little in my legs, and having some doubts about the wisdom of all this running (it was ending up totalling to more than 1 hour 40 minutes), less than 48 hours before Ohlone 50k this Sunday, so I took it slow, but really, having left the car at school, I had no other choice.

My son was okay with my not running the AC on the ride home, so I could get a few more minutes of heat training before my wife and other son joined us in the car.

After playing in the water fountain at a playground in San Ramon, I could finally eat a real meal.

Our younger son enjoying the fancy melon soup soup of the day at one of our favorite local restaurant's, Mudd's in San Ramon, after which he seemed not to appreciate his usual baby food as much. I'm sure he would've enjoyed the Chardonnay had we given it to him.

first published Saturday, May 17th, 2008 at 3:10 pm


Bob Gentile said...

"You probably ran so you could blog about it" she accuses me.
Haha ummm I guess that was a taper day huh :-)

Good luck on Sundays Race !!

Tony Overbay said...

Bob beat me to it, I was going to agree with the wife, done in the interest of the blog. As a therapist I'm guessing I'll start hearing that excuse in session. Good luck, Mark!

PS, I swear the word verification I'm about to type is a bad word!

Baldwyn said...

Nice job!! I'm looking forward to checking out your stretch of the Garin Chabot trail one of these days.

I do love dual-purpose runs!

Gretchen said...

Truckiies definitely drive Subarus, no joke. All wheel drive is indispensible in the winter here. It's funny how a certain region and lifestyle can match up with a certain type of car.
SS was hot, but it actually went really well for me. I'll get a post up in a couple days. Hope Ohlone went as well for you!

One of these days I'll track you down at a race when your bodyguards aren't around and say hi. :)

Eudemus said...

Cool day from the sounds. I love those runs that we can use to actually get us from place to place. Of course, as for your real motivation, all I can say is "our wives see right through us."

Congrats on 3rd place yesterday. Can't wait to hear the tale!

Verification word:
I bring you gu!

rdljon said...


Thanks for props. I hope to finish this year what I started last year. It is put up or shut up time. By the way, Are you running K.M. in a couple of weeks? I know your registered but you said there might be a work conflict. Good race at Ohlone under brutal conditions. Send me some positive vibes June 28th. I will need them.

Chihping Fu 傅治平 (超馬阿爸) said...

I did hike through Chabot to Garin trail before. I loved hiking before I took on trail running. I once walked from Castro Valley BART to Cull Canyon park. From there I hiked to Lake Chabot park via Chabot to Garin trail without problem. Then I kept walking on the East Bay Recreation trail all the way to Wildcat Canyon. Then walked to a BART (Richmond?).

Anyway, nice to hear you mention about this trail. It reminds me of that tough day hike.