Friday, December 18, 2009

Woodside-- My Last Race of the Decade

Pacific Coast Trail Runs Woodside 50k, Saturday, December 5th

November was a race-free month, so by December I was itching to race. All the long races I'd finished August through October had taken a toll on my body, and I thought my family would appreciate my consistently being there for a change (aside from the mandatory weekend work shifts). I got in some nice long training runs in the two weeks prior, so didn't feel too out of shape.
Somehow I thought I could go to bed later and get up at 7, but because of my recent work schedule, my circadian had set so I was up before 5. Well, at least I wouldn't be late. I remembered to bring everything, including $5 to get into Huddart Park, but when I saw a volunteer collecting money before the entrance, I couldn't find the bill and had to pull over and search my car and my pockets to find it.

Driving in my Prius, I found the first grouping of parking spots full, though I saw a very large SUV truck parked in two parking slots-- maybe I could park in one of the spots? But I soon dropped the issue, since they were still unloading and indeed their SUV was fat, and at least they carpooled. After the next grouping was full, I came across a smaller car double parked in two spaces, with at least two passengers but no doors opened. I found this inexcusable, since it was at the very end of the row, with grass to the right. So the driver easily could've parked not only in the space, but farther to the right. As a public service to my co-participants in a line behind me, I got out, knocked on the car's window. I think they were sleeping, but they lazily just look at me. Impulsively, I open the door, and try to politely ask them to park so someone can have a spot, at which these inconsiderate, selfish mistakes of evolution, started acting all upset, but luckily they had no gun. I got back into my car to eventually find a group of spaces, which I'm sure quickly filled up.

Some people are way dumber than cows.

At the start, saw the usual mix of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Included in the former was recent transplant from North Carolina Trey Barnes, with whom I ran several miles near the beginning and end of Cascade Crest 100 in August. He took off ahead, not to be seen until the end.

4:05 on the dot, good for 2nd

1st split -- 9.7 km from Werder Shelter start to King's Mountain Rd. (first downhill about 300 feet drop to 500 feet elevation, then all up to over 2000 feet)

On the ascent, I talked a while with Jason Reed. He asked if I knew how the elevation profile went. I said "it basically goes up and then it goes down," a gross simplification. He then proceeded to give me a detailed elevation description of the course, which I appreciated, although I only absorbed part of it, since I swear it was more detailed and precise than the elevation profile charts on the website. He ran Quad Dipsea last weekend, and races more than twice a week on average, so I'm not too surprised when he eventualy dropped back, never to be seen again, even at the finish, so I had to use his current facebook profile photo.

After losing Jason, I later chatted with Paul Taylor, and some guy I'd never seen before, a Bryce Hoefer from Monterey, who later I learn is a young 19 years old (so he was in junior high when I started doing ultras) and enlisted in the Navy.

The trail kept climbing, and Paul and Bryce both pushed the pace, so I lost them both before I reached the 1st aid station. Bryce would end up finishing in 3rd in 4:13.

2nd split -- 9.1 km from King's Mountain Rd. to Bear Gulch (rolling up and down)

I ran completely alone. Serene rolling up and down in the woods, with 1 tree in the path that I chose to go around.

I soon realized that I never clipped my gaiters on, so they were hanging from my ankles, not doing anything. There wasn't a lot of gravel on the course, but on this split little pebbles started to get into my shoes, so at the aid station I took the time to fix them.

3rd split -- 14.3 km out and back with lollipop loop from and back to Bear Gulch

The longest split, the elevation dropping down to 1000 feet then back up the ridge. Though not that technial, I managed to invert my left ankle twice. Once on the return ascent from the loop, I began to see runners going out, beginning the pleasant ritual of short mutual greetings and words of encouragement.

4th split -- 9.1 km from Bear Gulch to King's Mountain Rd. (rolling)

At the aid station, they had run out of gels, so I grabbed about 4 Cliff Shots with my gloved hand. I haven't figured out which ones (red versus yellow) have the caffeine in them, so I was a little nervous of getting too wired and having a diuretic effect if each I was going to down 200mg of caffeine in the next 90 minutes. The lint from my gloves wasn't too bad.

Since Bear Gulch was the 35k turnaround, On this stretch I started overtaking runners in that race, or seeing increasingly slower runners still heading the opposite direction.

About halfway through, I landed screwy over my right toe and not only inverted but also forcibly plantar flexed my ankle. Probably my worse sprain in a long time. I hobbled pretty slowly for a couple of minutes, wondering if this was the end of my race, or worse, the end of my season, but then bemusedly remembered that this probably was the end of the racing season anyways. Fortunately I was able to resume running, but I took the pace down a notch.

5th split -- 7.3 km (more direct and shorter) from King's Mountain Rd. back mainly downhill to the Werder Shelter finish.

I thought Paul Taylor was going to keep ahead of me, but for the 3rd or 4th time in a PCTR race, I passed him during the single track switchbacks, feeling a little guilty, since I really thought he would beat me today.

Although when I climbed the asphalt earlierI thought I would hate pounding down it, I and my ankles really appreciated the even paved finish. Even more did I enjoy the surprise shorter distance-- I knew the return would be quicker than the outbound, but I didn't realize by about 2.4 km. Finish time 4:26:20, good for 5th. (Yeah, I know, most of the really fast guys were at the Northface 50 Miler....)

Slick PCTR 50k finisher's coaster, with another unique race logo

Along with the post-race food and chatter, RD Wendell Doman had been printing up Western States lottery results as they came live from Auburn. No surprise-- another year I'm not in. But this volunteer was all smiles, and probably would've been happy ladelling chili all night.

jubilant Woodside 50k volunteer and 2010 Western States 100 mile participant Heather VanNes

I later thought of running PCTR's Rodeo Beach 50k two weeks later (as I finish this, tomorrow), but unable to clear my work schedule, the race season, and my racing decade, would have to end with Woodside-- I guess I've had more than enough fun this past year. Thanks Wendell and Sarah of PCTR and La Sportiva for the comp, and to all the volunteers! Everyone have a great holiday season!

PCTR Woodside Trail Runs race website
more photos (on facebook)

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cows Are Stupid

small gathering of cows between Mission and Monument Peaks, above Fremont and Milpitias, CA, earlier this week

Here is my official statement on cows: They are stupid.

Many of the East Bay Regional Parks, in which I do most of my running, are open for cattle grazing, so I am often running by cows. I've learned to slow down and talk to cows when I pass them; sometimes this works to keep them calm, but too many are too skittish.

Today, I startled a lone grazing cow and despite slowing my pace to a walk and trying to act like a friendly Hindu, she freaked out and fled down the winding fire road I was running. After about a mile, she finally veered off the trail. But after I crested a small hill, I saw her ahead running back onto the fire road.

Cows are one of the few animals I know who will let you chase them for miles on a trail. Skunks will let you chase them but even they aren't so stupid as to get back in front of you on the trail you are running. (See the final third of my Rio del Lago 2008 report for my experience chasing skunks.) Even the lowly fish knows to veer to the side when pursued. But cows? Idiotic!

To make things worse, the heifer caught up to a large herd of her friends, and so I found myself chasing not just one but about 30-40.

This situation always makes me nervous. Several years ago, early in my explorations of Bay Area trails, I chased a herd of cattle until the trail dead-ended into an impassible barbed-wire fence. Even before the trail ended, a few of the alpha cows (bulls?) were starting to moo angrily, occasionally giving me the evil bovine stare. When I was forced to turn around and head back, several of the angrier larger ones took this as a sign of weakness and fear and soon started chasing me, at which point I actually did become filled with fear, as I wondered how long it would take for some rancher to find my gored, trampled body.

To avoid riling up today's mob, I veered to the sloped side to try to bypass them, and had to go up and down several steep inclines, but as often happens, the herd continued to run parallel with me, which always pisses me off because this is so obviously a stupid maneuver. Luckily I was able to lose them when the trail split. Turning to look, I saw at least one bona-find steer with the really long, sharp horns, that could've easily impaled me had the stupid creature figured things out.

I try to keep my consumption of red meat down mainly for ecological reasons, and then we'll pay extra to eat either organic or free-range cattle. But in terms of killing a sentient creature, I will feel just as guilty about eating crabs than cows.

For what it's worth (I know this stuff, but it doesn't always work), safety tips for cows.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Love (Occasionally) My Car Pool Lane Sticker

Most of my shifts are at odd hours, and to commute to Fremont, the farther of the main hospitals at which I work, I either run the whole way, or to and from the BART station. So I rarely get to take advantage of the car pool lane sticker we got with our Toyota Prius. Today I had to attend a short training session in the evening in Union City, so had to drive. I got really lucky with my ED shift (the only one with normal hours-- 8 to 5), so left 90 minutes early (another unusual occurrence). I drove the gym, worked out in a group class, then made my way north on 880 starting at 5:30.

A Porsche doesn't run quickly when you're stuck in traffic. What a blast driving at least twice as fast as everyone else (who were sometimes slowed almost to a halt), 12 miles to the meeting, and feeling relatively green.

Though maybe not as fun the occasional joy of flying past multiple competitors late in a race...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fourth Quarter Slow-Down (From An Unexpected Cause) and Eventual Recovery During My First Race Being Paced at Headlands Hundred

It would've been nice to sub-20 at a tough, hilly race, less than a week after finishing my
Ironman distance triathlon. Actually, not just nice, but bad-ass. In fact, for the first 75 miles of this past weekend's Headlands Hundred, I was pretty pleased with myself. Perhaps too much so. So, maybe what ended up happening was well deserved.

Earlier this year when I finalized my August-September race schedule, I knew that I was flirting with the chance of injury. Therefore my first goal going into
PCTR's Headlands Hundred on August 8-9, just a week after Vineman, was not to hurt myself, so that I can finish not this 100 mile trail race, but the other two runs of the same distance in the following six weeks. I knew that optimizing my fitness for any one race was out of the question. My goal became just to get through them.

Friday August 7th, I drove my family up to my brother's, the usual routine for races in Marin. I came with my face fittingly made-up in war-paint they serendipitously had out that afternoon when I visited Adventure Park in the Berkeley Marina with my kids.

Although staying relatively near the start of the race offers an obvious advantage, the downside is the usual late night rambunctiousness of my kids and their cousins, and the cramped sleeping arrangments. But, again, going up there is not all about me and my silly race.

Saturday I get up before my alarm and walk downstairs to my pile of race clothes-- my meticulously prepared pile that somehow was missing one of my two gaiters. Despite wasting a lot of time looking for it, I'm able to make it to Rodeo Beach at about 25 minutes 'til the 7 a.m. start, which more than one fellow runner notices as an improvement over my many last-minute appearances.

I do have to blow a few minutes calling and texting my wife and my brother to see if they can find the gaiter, and if so, bring it down to the start, maybe on the way back from my nephew's tennis match in the city.

I decide I must settle for experimenting to see how well gaiters work, though it's not the gold-standard, blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, the strongest support for evidence based medical practice.

Since I always race in gaiters, I guess the variable is on the left, and the control on the right. Hypothesis: not having gaiters results in pebbles and crap to get into your shoe, which becomes irritating, and sometimes results in time wasted taking your shoe off and on, and definitely reinforces the observations that you are a disorganized idiot for not being able to find it this morning.

Lastly I make final adjustments of the contents of my two drop bags, one for the start finish (which we access 3 times) and Tennessee Valley (visited 8 times-- so I put most of my stuff in this one).

Here are links to the course map and course description and a course flyover. The first 50 miles was originally going to be a Miwok 100k-like out-and-back atop Bolinas Ridge, but with the California state budget crisis, no races can get permits for races through state parks.

1st loop--can't believe how fast I'm running

Wendell Doman starts the race before I am mentally ready. (I have been so busy running around with my kids and nephews all week, I had little time to think about the race.) I see Nathan Yanko and Joe Palubeski, two guys I predict will be at the front, despite this race being their first attempts at the distance. I would intend to keep up with them, but I'm not stupid, and have my sand-bagging Vineman excuse.

All the fast guys start the race intelligently so there are a bunch of us chatting and climbing through the two batteries and atop Hill 88. Only the fastest 50-milers dart ahead.

Morning fog keeps things cool, but fog also imvolves humidity, so we're soon all still working up a sweat.

As runners are less spread out in the beginning of the race, lots of little conversations. I chat with Sean Lang, who I know is doing Cascade Crest 100 with me in 3 weeks. Before I can suspect he is as stupid as I with my compacted race schedule, he tells me he today is running the 50 miler AND he's going to control his pace with his heart rate monitor, to keep it in the 140s. I also talk a bit with 22-year-old 50-mile rookie Jeff Burdett from NY; San Jose's John Burton about kids; and Ray Sanchez, the one guy I know is fitting a lot more long races in a short time than I am.

The last few miles of the clockwise 25 miles is paved. We see all the lead 50-milers heading back up the roads. I recognize none of the first three, who I calculate are flying (and indeed did their first 25 miles under 3:30, quite fast for this hilly course; Josh Brimhall would win with a 16-minute gap in 7:03:34). Prudence L'Heureux is the first female; she would end up finishing in 7:52:00, good for 5th overall.

Finally the stretch of sand on the beach, a real decelerator.

photo of me coming into mile 25, courtesy Toni Lambio

My split was 4:20ish. Say what?! This is crazy. I honestly was thinking that 24 hours for the entire race would be tough. But even if I slowed down, I had money in the bank for maybe a sub-20. And I've been holding back.

2nd loop--okay I slow down a bit

I go to my drop box, to see if the gaiters have arrived-- none yet, which I sort of expected since it's still morning. So more sand in my shoes when I go out to cross the beach again.

Starting from the ascent off the beach onto the paved roads and trail up to Conzelman, I run into Dan Fish, a relative newbie runner and 100-mile rookie from Southern Cal. We chat off and on. He tends to get ahead on flats or downhills, but I catch up on uphills.

a view from Conzelman

Eventually on the long descent to Rodeo Valley (mile 33.5), he accelerates way ahead.

Sunday morning view near Rodeo Valley, photo by volunteer JoLynn McCabe

Later this loop, I catch up with another Dan, last name Fabun from Oakland, who recognizes me (from this blog?) and is stoked he is running my pace. We talk for a while, until Muir Beach, when I use the Portalet. He had offered to give me some ibuprofen (my quads are really started to hurt), but luckily David Combs informs me they have some on the table. I pass Dan F. on the uphill out of Muir Beach.

The pavement on the downhill to Rodeo Beach is harsh. Just like the end of Headlands 50k and Miwok. Okay if the race is almost over, but it's only half done.

Arriving at the pile of drop bags, I'm relieved to see my missing gaiter that my brother had delivered (although he didn't quite put it in the box, so it was laying to the side). No more sand/grit/rocks in my left shoe. The nonblinded, nonrandomized experiment show that gaiters work (although since the number of subjects n=1, the confidence interval is pretty wide). This pair was race swag, so extra thanks, Dirty Girl Gaiters!

3rd loop--feeling better, beating nightfall

I run into Alan Abbs walking his dalmation, who will be pacing his fellow Red Bluffian Joe Palubeski the last quarter of the race after his super-talented nationally-ranked wife Bev finishes pacing him the third 25 miles. Good thing he was there-- perhaps because I'm feeling so good about having my missing gaiter back, I run right past the turn-off to through the first battery. Alan shouts at me to turn left, limiting my time loss to about a minute. Thanks, Alan!

Later I catch up and pass Dan Fish (Dan #1) again, now with a pacer. For someone so new to ultras, he's running a great race.

Heading out of Muir Beach (mile 58) to the highest point on the course, I catch sight of a runner attacking the uphills. It takes until the ascent up Marincello Trail after Tennessee Valley (mile 62) to catch up with him. Shan Riggs, who holds the PCTR San Francisco One Day course record (for which I'm signed up this October). We talk for most of the stretch until I lose him (once again, as I lost Dan Fish 30-something miles earlier) on the sustained downhill to Rodeo Valley.

I wonder if my casually and gratuitously dropping "yeah, I did this Vineman thing last week..." sort of inspired him to pick up the pace and move ahead. Way ahead-- so regardless, great job! Since Shan is soon moving back to (flat) Chicago, I want him to run a strong race on these hills.

Earlier on the loop, I ask other runners and at the aid stations when they think I will need a light, and I get different answers. I decide I should play it safe and carry one from Tennessee Valley (mile 62), but the thought of carrying it 13 miles and maybe not even needing it doesn't appeal to me.

Coming into Tennessee Valley, a man comes asking if Dan (Fish, Dan #1) is near behind. I tell him only a few minutes. I then ask him if he thinks Dan's wife can carry a light for me. He (Roberto) and Dan's wife Gretchen end up carrying my light to the next 2 aid stations, until I take it at Conzelman (mile 70), saving me either the anxiety of not having a light or the annoyance of having one while not needing it. Thanks you two!

Before Conzelman, as the the sky turns orange over the Pacific to the right, I get an equally gorgeous view to the left of the city, and the lights of cars crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. It's all so perfect.

not quite the same angle, but gives you the idea...

Volunteers at Conzelman (mile 70) include Steve Holman, recent Marathon des Sables finisher who has had to pull out of the Grand Slam with a stress fracture and still in his foot brace) In addition to the usual spread, he offers me a slice of pizza. I hesitate. I'm mildly lactose intolerant, which means I can eat 1-2 slices and not feel much discomfort, but if I eat more than 4-5 slices (which I do occasionally, especially if it's free), will sometime get gassy and mild runs. But nothing severe and no belly pain. It's not like it ever makes me vomit. Still, I have never tried pizza during a race. But it looks and smells so good...much yummier than yet another packaged gel, dry quarter of PB&J or cold potato. We decide on about 1/3 of a slice, vegetarian. I head down the hill. The pizza actually settles well, and my stomach seems to appreciate the feeling of real, warm food. So at the time I think this was a good move.

I'm much closer to the leaders, Nathan, Joe, a few others I don't recognize that I'd thought I was, as they head back up the hill.

When I have to empty (#2) at restroom near the end of the paved descent to Rodeo Beach, I don't think too much of it.

Crossing the bridge after the sandy beach close to the start/finish aid station, I catch up with Dan Fish (Dan #1) and his pacer, who probably passed me while I was on the toilet; we come in together tied for 4th place.

My time is under 14:40. Even with some expected deceleration, I'm still under a 20 hour race pace. I'm sort of blown away. I was thinking that coming under 24 hours would be great enough, but now I'm top-5 and with a fair shot of sub-20ing (which I haven't done for my past several 100-mile races). Wow, cool!

4th loop--things get tough

At the aid station, I switch out my headlamps, and eat several bits of cut avocado. I remember reading in someone's blog about avocado, good fats, great race food. In fact, I clear off the plate.

I see Jonathan Gunderson, who asks me if I want a pacer. Of course, I'm totally caught off guard. David Schoenberg, who had saved me from fashion disaster at Skyline to the Sea 50k in April had offered to pace me a week earlier, but then had to withdraw the offer (for a pretty legitimate cause, mind you). Not having thought about it at all, I hesitate. Having run the 25 mile course 3 times already and having a fair amount of familiarity with the trails from other runs and hikes, I don't feel I needed any navigational aid. I've never been paced before, so I would be sullying my pristine, unpaced virginity. But then, I've never asked anyone, nor has anyone ever specifically asked me.

Um, Jon seems like a nice guy.....

Oh, what the heck. It's dark and I'm not going to get any less tired or sore.

"Hey, so if you really want to do it, sure." Or something like that. If it was "Uh, okay, sure" then they could've been one of the smarter three words that's come out of my mouth in my life.

As I leave the beach, I start to feel bad. Really bad. My stomach doesn't feel right. To counter my nausea, I pull out a ginger candy. This will pass, I tell myself.

But it doesn't. It continues, and I find that any exertion over a fairly low threshold exacerbates the malaise. It becomes a slow slog up the long hill.

To my new pacer, repeated apologies and thanks. Mostly apologies. I keep thinking about how Jon was probably planning a fun, aided, 5-something hour night run, and instead was getting an all-night march.

On top of my malaise, Jon and I haven't figured out our communication thing, so he's tending to ask me how I'm doing a little too often, which gets me more tired, and I'm not sure how to politely make him back off. Eventually I learn just to say something short, and he adjusts. I enjoy hearing about Badwater, which he's finished the last 4 years.

As we approach Conzelman aid station (mile 80), I'm exhausted; it's taken almost 90 minutes just to go 5 miles. It's not that late at night, so I know it's not from being up too late, but because I'm feeling sick and exhausted fighting the sickness. But before I can get to the chair, I have to empty my ass. Jon helps me find a semi-appropriate spot around the corner, as there is no Portalet.


Conzelman volunteers Larry & Christina the next morning

Then in the chair with blanket since it's getting a little chilly. I try to sleep a few minutes, get some fluids down, but it's all slow going. Finally, Jon cajoles me to get up, and we leave the station over 23 minutes after arriving.

I can't remember when Jon lends me his jacket he's been carrying; I had carried one from Rodeo (mile 75), but it was windy on the ridge and are not moving fast enough to stay warm. I feel bad because I suspect Jon is a little cold. At one point Jon is on the phone with his wife and I ask to talk, can't hear her at all, but manage to tell her that her husband rocks.

Things get worse. More nausea with exertion. A few times I start swerving. I think I take another dump. I start seeing double for lights in the distance, but if I'm conscious of it at the time, I just think it's my glasses. I'm not much good on the downhills either. We arrive at Rodeo Valley (mile 83.6) after another 90 minutes, despite being over a 1.5 miles shorter than the climb to Conzelman, and more downhill than uphill. That's slower than 25 minutes per mile!

I am too out of it to remember to hit the lap button of my watch, so not sure how long we spend there. Maybe 20 minutes. Same routine. Try to sleep. Get fluids in. Several people pass through while I'm in the chair. I remember Julie Fingar, who would be the first female, Rick Gaston, and maybe others, some that I'd run with, others I'd been in front of the whole race.

part of Rodeo Valley station crew, later that morning; head volunteer Ted at right

If I am feeling optimistic that I'm going to turn the corner with my illness, once we start the uphill, it ends. The double vision thing gets worse. However at times I get moments of reprieve from the malaise, and am able to say something to better entertain Jon. But what typically happens is that Jon takes this as a sign that he can push the pace, which unfortunately is not the case. However, he patiently persists in pacing me. Tell me to try to jog a little when it's flat, making sure I keep drinking from my bottle, making me swallow a gel or shot every so many minutes.

We get to Tennessee Valley (mile 88.2) and I'm beat. I get my extra jacket (my Sportiva jacket from last year) and give Jon back his. I tell him I really want to sleep. For real. Maybe at one point he says we have to go soon, not sure, but I think I ignore him. At one point I wake up from my half sleep, afraid he's going to make me get going, but luckily, the volunteers inform me-- he's asleep! I feel like I won the lottery and doze off some more.

After an unknown length of time (unknown because because I'm too out of it to press the buttons on my stopwatch), we both get up and are ready to go. The nap might have been just the trick I needed. The nausea threshold has moved up, way up, and I'm able to start jogging more. A few times I start jogging without being prompted by Jon. It's all good. Because we're moving I actually start getting a little warm.

The descent to Muir Beach is trippy. It's constant fog rolling in from the ocean as we head west downhill, and so it keeps appearing that we are going to reach the top of the cliff where the Coyote Ridge trail T-intersects the Coastal Road.

Two surprises at Rodeo Beach (mile 92). Skunks rummaging through trash left besides the cans around the corner from the aid station, and then seeing my almost-neighbor Baldwyn Chieh, who snaps a couple pictures of Jon, all smiles, and me, chewing something, maybe per his command. I give Baldwyn my extra jacket since it's too warm now that we're actually moving again, but fail to Mean Joe Green him with "Hey kid, catch."

On the Coastal Trail/Pirates Cove stretch, I'm feeling even better. I'm running some of the uphills and push a good walking pace up the and out of the steps. Jon has started asking the time and we know that I still have a decent chance to finish under 24 hours. We push it to Tennessee Valley (mile

part of Tennessee Valley station crew, later that morning: John Fors, Carol (who really took care of me earlier, Theresa & Kevin (sorry don't know last names)

In contrast to the last time we passed through, when we stayed maybe upwards to to an hour, we are in and out, probably in 30 seconds. We aim to run to a point 20 yards ahead, but I keep going 5 times longer. While I'm feeling better as the sun is coming up, moving faster brings back the soreness. I start running uphill stretches. I'm finally giving Jon a real workout.

It's butt kicker of a climb up Wolf Ridge trail. We get to the top and I'm actually not entirely happy about this. Pavement, downhill, ow my quads.....

Up ahead we see a woman running with a pacer. Since I have no idea how many times I've been chicked while crawling or asleep, perhaps I think I might be completely unchicking myself. In any case, it somehow seems important to pass her, which I do really fast.

left to right: Jon, skinny guy in tights not to be trusted, Dorothy Galubski (2nd female overall), her pacer

We continue pounding it down the hill, chasing a secondary goal of 23:45. For the hell of it.

customized finisher's coaster

Thanks to Jon (big time, cannot be overstated), all the volunteers, RD's Sarah and Wendell, my La Sportiva and associated sponsors, the citizens who in the 1960's prevented the beautiful Marin Headlands from being ruined by development, and all the runners who took pity on me as they passed me that last lap.
final 50 mile race results (including 100 milers who DNF'd at or after mile 50)

Other blogged reports
Rick Gaston
JoLynn McCabe (Rodeo Valley aid station volunteer)
Shan Riggs
Nathan Yanko (winner, new course record holder)

first published Tuesday 10/6/09, not quite 2 months late

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bay Nature Institute Photography Contest Winners

Throughout the past spring and summer, Bay Nature Institute (and magazine) and Sarber's Cameras cosponsored a photo contest to mark the East Bay Regional Park District's 75th Anniversary. Click the link below to see some beautiful winning photos taking in some of my favorite parks to train and race.

Pictured above is grand prize winner's Jerry Ting's photograph, taking in Coyote Hills Regional Park, which serves as the turnaround point for Catra Corbett and Mike Palmer's Fremont Fat Ass 50K held in January. (Actually, the course does a loop in the park.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

RDL Stands for Many Things Part 3......Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Run

(RDL = Really Delayed Log)

Since this upcoming weekend is when the Rio Del Lago 100 Mile Run has been traditionally held, I thought it would be a good time to finish and publish the third and last installment of my report from last year's race. (Actually, maybe not the best time, since I haven't finished packing for PCT Hundred in the Hood starting in less than 39 hours, but better now than say, next February, which would be totally random.)

previous installments:
part 2

At No Hands Bridge (mile 26), the 53-mile competitors turn around, while the 100-mile runners head up K-2, a very steep hill and then run a modified version of the Olmstead Loop at Cool, before returning to the bridge down a gentler grade. I turn on my Garmin Forerunner here with the goal of making it to the south turnaround, Mountain Lion Knoll (mile 83). This way I will capture the whole course within the 10-hours the battery lasts. Or at least I hope.

I feel like I'm not able to attack the K-2 hill as agressively as the last two years.

With the 53-milers off this part of the course, I finally feel I can get a reliable sense of how far ahead of me are Jon Olsen, Jean Pommier, Michael Kanning and whoever else is with them. (Jon and Michael would both drop around this point.) At the Cool Fire Station (mile 33), I am surprised to hear that I'm about 10 minutes behind, which is about the same as I was for the last few aid stations.

Cool is never cool, it's generally hot and largely uncovered. This year there are more equestrians out on the Olmstead Loop; most let me continue running past, and no horses kick me. I have this magical way with animals. You'll see later.

After No Hands Bridge, Greg Bomhoff, whom I met earlier in the race, catches up with me and we talk for a while. I know he's in the lead for Robert Mathis' race series, so we talk about the mattress, which I had won two year's earlier, and how that year, neither I nor Jon Olsen would admit openly to hoping to win the mattress. (Ironically, I think Performaire pulled their sponsorship or maybe went out of business, and so no mattress was given.) Greg obviously has been pacing himself better than I, and he pulls away from me to eventually win the race and this large bear statue that my wife would have been really ecstatic about (insert sarcasm) if I had brought it home myself. He would also win the 2008 series.

During the 20+ miles back to Cavitt School, the start and finish and 67-mile mark, I learn to wet the awesome, custom-printed white Moeben sleeves we all got as race schwag from Shannon Farar-Griefer, and put ice under my cap. It would hit 97 that afternoon on parts of the course. It was tough, but I didn't cramp or crump. Unlike 5 years ago at Diablo 50, I'd long since learned of the need to take salt tablets. I have things so under control....

requesting my bottle be filled at an aid station

RDL = Rigorous Drenching-- Luscious!

The head volunteer at one of the aid stations takes a drenching wet towel and places it over my shoulders. Aaaaah! This hits the spot. Thanks!

Back at Cavitt, I make sure to call my wife on the cell in my drop box. Unfortunately, Norm Klein isn't outside-- he's made my "25-minute phone call" (actually 2 or 3) regular fodder for his pre-race talks.

Then for some unknown reason, I decide I should change my socks. Mark Lantz, who won the 53-mile race both last year and this year, is there again.

with his wife Rena trying to keep from freezing to death before the start of the 2009 Quicksilver runs

The year before (2007) he had told me not to waste time doing it. This year for some reason he doesn't say anything. Bending down to take off my shoe, my left shoulder suddenly goes into spasm. My anticipated 5-minute stop grows to 20. Oh well, the great thing about this sport is that even after 5 years, there is always more you can learn. The lesson here: don't fix what isn't broken.

As I head out of the school, my shoes feel tied too tight (I had to ask volunteers to tie my shoes since I felt trying myself would cause more cramping). I feel my calves will tighten up if I don't loosen them, but trying to put my first foot on a rock to adjust it makes my hips feel like they are going to spasm. Somehow, after another five minutes without forward progress, I manage to loosen the laces and head out to the levees, where Homeland Security had fenced off the dams, and the trail makes an extensive detour.

Despite all that, (perhaps it was inevitable) stepping up a short steep incline, each of my calves spasms in succession, then the rest of my body, and I fall onto my back, in utter, excruciating cramping agony. I amnot a pretty sight, lying on my back, trying futilely to breathe it out.

RDL = Totally Screwed! (okay, so the letters don't match)

I try to see the humor of the situation ("I fell and I can't get up!") but the logistical and physical challenge of getting back up without spasming again soon takes precedence. After a lot of forced, focused relaxation, I am able to turn over and stand up after maybe 15-20 minutes. As for running-- well, I am forced to a very slow jog. I am fearful that the spasming will return and have serious doubts that I will be able to finish. Despite my slow pace, I even manage to get confused by the detoured and waste more time navigating.

The 17 miles out to the turnaround and back are flatter than the hillier first 2/3 of the course, largely going along two sides of Lake Natoma, into which feeds the Middle Fork of the American River. Normally, this is considered very untechnical and fast, but with half of my muscles tight, the going is very slow. I even have to ask the volunteers at the Folsom Dam station (mile 70) station to finish the work of loosening my shoes. At the next aid (mile 73), I get a quick massage from a volunteer. I finally work out the cramping enough where I can run the whole 4.5 miles to the Hazel Bluff station (mile 77). Recovering this much feels so good. I'm over having lost any chance of catching up with Jean Pommier.

By the time I ascend the bluff, I am elated from having come back from the dead (I really had doubted I would be able to finish as I lay there on my back by the dam). Probably manic. "I feel great!" I shout, all smiles. Apparently I appeared crazed and was a bit too loquacious. A few minutes late when it was clear I was done with my drop bag and fueling, ubiquitous volunteer David Combs and the others, have to request that I quickly move on.

RDL = Rascally Dohbutsus -- Lento! (sorry, that was forced. Dohbutsu is Japanese for animal, lento is Spanish for slow)

After crossing the Hazel Avenue bridge the course goes along single track with a few stretches of paved bike path to the 83 mile turnaround at Mountain Lion Knoll. On the trail I see a furry bushy-tailed creature close ahead in the beam of my headlamp. A skunk! This really messes up my pace, since it frequently stops, and like the stupid cows I encounter on many of my training runs, it chooses to stay on the trail rather than escape to the side. I have to back off to prevent it from assuming the spray pose, while wondering how dangerous it would be to try to run past it. Probably too dangerous-- it's not like I can tell it "excuse me" and tiptoe past. This goes on for well over a mile, maybe two, before it finally takes the alternate route at a fork in the trail.

After buzzing through the next aid station, Willow Creek (mile 81), I spot another animal ahead on the trail-- and as I come close, I can't believe it-- I'm chasing yet another skunk! Same stubborn stupidity--it keeps going straight ahead. After this one finally veers off, I pick up the pace in a way you can only after being forced to run way more slowly than you wanted to, running a couple of sub-9 minute miles to the Mountain Lion Knoll turnaround (mile 83.6), achieving another goal of recording the whole course with my Garmin Forerunner before the battery runs out, which I'd turned on at mile 27 at No Hand Bridge.

(Ironically, the file was too large to upload, but I was happy about this at the time.)

Coming back, I noticed that my gaps on the runners in 4th through 9th place are all within an hour. My vivacios pep soon runs out, probably blown with my sprinting to the turnaround. Fortunately, I am able to keep the lead on most, but not all.

At mile 94, Jimmy Freeman, who I'd run with for several miles leaving him behind twice in the early part of the race, flies by with his pacer. Good for him. Aside from the time I've lost writhing on the ground 20 miles earlier, I just don't have that sort of speed left in me to even think of giving chase.

RDL = Recommended Dean Links

Only 9 months later, did I see and understand, for the first time, what he was talking about when we first met early in the race, when he asked me "have you heard of Jimmy Dean meat products?" Me: "uh, no...." He: "You've never heard of Jimmy Dean bacon or sausage?"

With less than 2 miles to go looking up the hill to the levee, I suddenly see lights behind me. I know it is John Souza, since I had seen Jon Olsen at all the aid stations, crewing him the last 1/6 of the race. I am able kick and lengthen a nice gap on him, to stay in 4th place overall.

With all the time lost on my back or going slowly, I'm unable to come under 20 hours, as I'd hoped and expected. Clock says 20:15:26, making this the my third 100 miler this year finishing between 20 and 21 hours. But honestly, I'm just happy I didn't give up and am able to cross that finish line.

After a while, I go back to the medical research study volunteers, so I can advance science. They find the blood sample that once again they have to vigorously and painfully milk my earlobe for 15 minutes can't be processed. Oh well, at least not as bad as whole body cramping. I chug a bottle of water, perhaps too early, feeel nauseated and the urge to defecate.

RDL = Race Director Livid

While doing my thing, another person comes into the adjacent stall, followed by race director Norm Klein. "How you could you even think of dropping out?... How tall are you?...I'm only 5'4"and probably weigh half as much as you, but believe me, I will kick your ass if you don't get youself back on that course, so you better do it now!" Or something like this. (Norm actually would get his own watered-down account into the December issue of Ultrarunning.) I'd heard similar in the past three years running the race. If you make it back to the school, he's not just going to let you drop. And usually he's correct. The prodded runners thank him after they've finished for not letting them quit like sissies.

I anticipate I will wait about 90 minutes for Joe Swenson to come, but it ends up being more than five long hours before I see his wife Debbie, who had done impromptu crewing for me early in the race, and then Joe, who tells me how he dropped out at mile 90 at the return to Hazel Bluff, 15 pounds overweight, and had Debbie drive him back to the school, to have Norm yell at them both to drive right back to Hazel Bluff and finish. Which they did, though it took Joe quite a long time.

Joe already having problems earlier

I had no idea it was him next to me while I was sitting on the john. Had I known, I would've bummed a ride back to our shared hotel room and slept a few hours instead of waiting up all night, trying unsuccessfully at times to be an interesting conversation partner or sleep on a cot in the locker room.

looking a bit disheveled, in a smelly long sleeved shirt another runner graciously lent me

Sure it's exemplary sportsmanship to stay up and applaud all runners as they come in, but
1. After I get home I have to hang out with my kids and make up to my wife for my prolonged absence.
2. I think I have to work 17 hours the following day.
3. Everyone's pretty spread out still.

This race will definitely not be the same without Norm Klein directing it in the future. Thanks to him for starting and growing this race into a northern California autumn staple, and until maybe two years ago, the only northern California alternative 100-miler to Western States. And to all the volunteers, especially those helping me with my smelly shoes-- I love you, thank you thank you thank you (I know they're probably not reading this, but need to write it.)

RDL = Results of Days-- Lost!
I already briefly posted when I lost this final installment almost a year ago. Man that sucked. But at least I finally got it done!

RDL = Reduced to Dumbed-down and Lousy
As an added kick in the butt, I offer Tia Bodington a quick race report if she wants it, and she tells me to go ahead. After working on it, she asks me to get it down to 600 words. This is a bit painful, but I hack and hack and do it. Then her final email:

From: Tia Bodington
Subject: Re: UR article, Rio del Lago
To: "Mark Tanaka"

Date: Friday, November 7, 2008, 7:00 PM
Mark -
Here's what I think I'll have room for - these parts made me laugh out
loud! Feel free to tweak, trying to keep it to 300 - 350 words. I'll need it
back by Sunday midday to make deadline - hope you're not on call all weekend.

I reply, early during my overnight shift:

Saturday, November 8, 2008 12:55:30 AM
From: Mark Tanaka

To: Tia Bodington

I can't consent to this. Too much hacked and it's not true ("I didn't cramp or crumple"). The only reason for mentioning the Diablo 50 experience is to set up the expectation that I no longer screw the lytes up, and then to contrast it with the self-deprecating admission that I did screw up my lytes in this race. Otherwise there is no point is mentioning Diablo. I need you to give me the space to describe my cramping up and falling down. I can improve this, but I want this in here.

After which I hear nothing from Tia and then find in the next issue of Ultrarunning, one of the stupidest pieces of writing ever attributed to me, totally devoid of any meaningful context I can imagine. Hopefully no one read it. It makes absolutely no sense-- why devote half my words to a race I did five years earlier?

Although I like most of the changes to the magazine and will probably renew my subscription, I haven't volunteered any more submissions, even though I personally like reading more goofy first-person reports than bland accounts by race directors (not that all RD reports are bland).

Besides, it's hard enough for me to crank out these rambling reports for my blog...

Other Blogged Race Reports

The results page has disappeared from the web. Hopefully this will reappear with the resumption (after a hiatus this year) of the Rio del Lago 100 Mile in September 11-12, 2010, under the co-direction of Molly Sheridan of the soon to be formed Desert Sky Adventures.

this installment first published Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Underestimating Recovery Time-- My Anti-PR at the Quicksilver 50 Mile

Despite warmer weather than last year, records fell and some awesome performances at this year's Quicksilver 50 Mile Endurance Run (not to slight the 50 km race held simultaneously), held Saturday, May 9th. As for yours truly-- my anti-PR! More than 35 minutes slower than last year, when I ran still injured seven days after straining my calf at Miwok 100k. This year I didn't run Miwok, just the shorter Skyline to the Sea 50k two weeks earlier. So what's up? Is this proof that I am in decline?


Maybe I could use the sleep excuse.

My schedule was not so bad after Monday-- noon to midnight Tuesday, off Wednesday, phone shift 6am to 3pm Thursday, and a regular 6-3 ED shift Friday. The two early morning shifts are usually a good transition to the early rising required for this race which begins butt-early at 6 am in the hills of southwest San Jose.

Early morning Friday I woke up from some nightmare, stemming from the fact that I was freezing after my well-intentioned wife turned the fan on in the room. I have to sleep in the other bedroom before my early morning shifts so my alarm clock doesn't wake her and everyone up.

I couldn't get back to sleep and then next thing, both my kids were screaming after my recently potty trained older son had an accident and then my wife went downstairs to get new sheets. So Friday I went to work feeling sleepy, worried that the there is truth to the belief that sleep the night before the night before is more important than sleep the night before.

After I picked up the kids and brought them home in the afternoon, I had a headache, felt nauseated and just wanted to go to bed. Normally I help put the kids down, but two things happened: First I got this piece of food stuck between my back upper molars and couldn't get it out with a variety of dental instruments, shredding 3 pieces of floss. I finally found a floss threader and after 5 attempts managed to get it above the stuck food.

Then I couldn't find my cell phone. I needed my phone for several reasons: the plan was to drive to Chihping Fu's house and get a ride from there; my wife was going to pick me up before we went to friend's that night, and I needed the phone as an alarm clock backup, without which I probably wouldn't sleep well since I would be worried that there would just happen to be a power outage and I'd oversleep and miss the race. But I couldn't find the damn thing. I went through both cars, took apart my race bag, my other bag, looked in every room in the house. was exhausted and cranky and feeling guilty that I wasn't helping bathe and put down the kids, but I had to find the damn phone. I messaged Chihping and told him I was phoneless and then went to bed, and of course I couldn't sleep, so I dropped an Ambien, and a Pepcid. A few minutes later my wife handed me my phone, which she saw on the seat of my bicycle attached to the Kinetic fluid trainer I had just assembled on Thursday for me to start using during my phone shifts. She was reading to my older son when he started playing with the bike.

Luckily I got about 6 hours of sleep, still not ideal, but in the back of my mind I am worried about the night before the night before sleep issue.

They had been doing construction on the 92 and 880 interchange for over a year, but I don't realize they actually close the ramp at 4:30 am, so I have another detour delay and arrive at Chihping's (which involves a lot of turns) almost 10 minutes later than we'd planned.

this year's Chihping driving photo

Luckily we get there in time. It's not freezing like last year at the start. As at most races, the line to the Portalets is too long, so I do the dig-and-cover-with-foot bush thing (there are plenty) and as bonus, there are these portable sinks with soap and foot-pumped water in the corner of the parking lot. Sorry to be so explicit, but this comes up again.

The Race

The really fast guys-- Chikara Omine, Jean Pommier, a few others (all 50 mile rather than 50 km competitors), all shoot off ahead. I talk with Victor Ballesteros, who surprised the pundits by finishing 2nd place at Miwok the week before. We have the gradual downhill to chat briefly, before I predictably lose him on the ascent.

Victor Ballesteros

It's a solid 15 minutes of climbing, and I fall into a rhythm, careful not to thrash myself like I have in the past. The fire road then predictably heads downhill more than up. A large gathering of maybe 15 people, a few snapping photos is on the trail. I smile and wave, see single track to the right and turn. "No not that way" a few shout, and I turn around and see the trail heading left on the other side. Somebody tells me incredulously, "You've got to be kidding me," like it was so obvious that it was impossible to miss. Yo! -- if there was a pink ribbon somewhere, several people were probably standing in front of it.

In years past I was always chasing or being chased by runners through the next few miles of single track, but for some reason this year I'm running more alone. I do pass a guy with a blue shirt running the 50k race.

Klas Eklof, actually photographed several weeks later after Mt. Diablo 25k

Increasingly, my moving bowels start bothering me. I try to remember if the 2nd aid station has portalets, but soon realize as the pressure builds, I'm not going to make it even 1/4 mile. Unfortunately, there are no trees to hide behind with the narrow single track on the hillside, dropping off on the right.

While I squat right next to the trail sort of behind a tree and do my nastiness, the guy in the blue passes me.

I'm carrying a slip of paper with my split times from my 2007 PR race of 7:17, and my first two splits I'm behind about 2 minutes each. But no problems-- I'm trying to run conservatively.

I catch up with a guy wearing a Team Diablo shirt, and recognize Troy Howard from one of the photos at the start of the Skyline to the Sea 50k we both ran two weeks ago. We chat a while about work (we are both work at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals) and other stuff. We go through Dam Overlook aid station (mile 9.7), but after the next one, Capehorn (mile 14.5), Troy loses me on the initial sustained climb.

Troy Howard (at Skyline to the Sea), who in his first attempt, would finish 2nd at Hardrock later this summer with the 3rd fastest time in the history of that race.

Somewhere around here, I have to unload again, and I'm a little irritated. Like what the hell did I eat yesterday? After enjoying the views during the descent to the 2nd visit to Dam Overlook (mile 19), we do an out and back loop returning to Dam (mile 23.7). During this loop, Jeff Riley from Oregon passes me almost at the same place he did last year. Then a couple of 50K runners pass me, including the guy in the blue shirt, Klas, who comments that this would be a bad place to unload-- this section of the course is always filled with lots of day hikers. Two years ago 50k racer Ron Gutierrez and I started running together around here and pretty much kept up with him until the last descent to 50k. In contrast, I'm being left behind my multiple 50k runners not going as fast, including eventual winner Pastor Bejinez, who is so nice as to compliment me on this blog. (Thanks, again, and congrats again!)

Before getting to Englishtown (mile 26.8) for the first time, I see Chikara Omine (about whom I blogged an interview shortly after the race) running the other direction, after already hitting the start finish at the 50k mark. He is ahead of where I would see Graham Cooper the past two years, but then I realize that I'm going a lot slower, so I can't tell if Chikara is actually going faster than Graham's record-setting pace or it just seems like it.

new course record holder Chikara Omine

Approaching the descent to the start finish for the 50k split, I hear two people conversing behind me. One's Bev(erly Anderson-Abbs) and the other is Joe Palubeski, who passed me at the end of Lake Sonoma 50 mile in March after I bonked from caloric depletion. It looked like I was going to get chicked AND Joed.

Beverly Anderson-Abbs

Of course when it's Bev, no shame getting chicked.

Ron Gutierrez' 50k time in 2007 was under 4:20. So this year, when I notice my 50k split is something like 20 minutes slower, I know I'm not going nearly as fast. Bev and Joe take longer at the aid station, so I start up the hill ahead of them. I catch up with a mountain biker working it and he and I pace each other, with only enough breath to utter a mutual short compliment.

he: How long you guys running?
me: Fifty (puff) miles
he: Whoa!
me: Well, dude (huff) I don't think I could stay (puff) on my bike trying to get up this (huff) hill.
he: Yeah, well I'm impressed

It is a lovefest. I consider slappoing him on the ass and asked him "Dude, doesn't it hurt your ass to sit on your seat for so long?" but I decide I don't understand mountain bike culture enough even though I occasionally enjoy doing it myself. I don't want him to misread my intentions, so I refrain.

The course then turns left instead of right at the top of the hill (or at least I think), and then does the roller coaster hills again. My ankle is sort of hurting on the downhills, so I back off a bit. Bev and Joe catch up. We run and chat up the hill to the Englishtown aid station (mile 35.25). On the fairly flat and fast stretch toward the turnaround, they both dart off ahead. Literally, I watch them pull away and put distance on me and my legs.

Joe Palubeski

In years past, I would also make good speed here, but now, I just don't have the energy. It isn't the heat; dipping my sleeves in the water buckets at aid stations is working well to counteract the rising temperature. I haven't been nauseated, and my earlier bowel problems have resolved by evacuation. I just can't move any faster. I wonder-- am I still tired from McNaughton? Four full weeks after? Before I would've doubted it, but now I have no other explanation, especially when I had run Miwok the week before last year's race AND got injured.

But, no worries, I'm having fun.

At the next aid station Hicks Road (mile 37.2) I get my photo taken by Pauline Ludwig, the girlfriend of another runner, who later sends it to me on facebook.

I'm able to keep running up the whole hill to the turnaround. I count the runners coming back ahead of me as I greet each with "Hi," recognizing all except the one right ahead of Bev. At the turnaround at Sierra Azul aid station (mile 41.4) Yves-Pierre Couteau fills my bottle and then it's time to figure out who's on my tail. I have a gap of about 4 minutes on the next guy, but after him is Bree Lambert, looking strong. I've never seen her so close behind on this course.

post-race with Bree, who would also win Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile two months later

Lest I worry about getting double-chicked, I'm feeling pretty good and aided by the downhill, run one of my first splits comparable to last year's time; however I figure this is only because I was running all the previous splits so much more slowly this year than last.

To preserve my knees, I exercise some restraint on the final descent after Englishtown aid station (mile 47.6), ready to sprint if someone starts gaining on me.

I had switched my Garmin to lap time (instead of overall time) early in the race (using it mainly to know about when to expect the next aid station), so when I see the finish line clock was approaching 8 hours, I am a bit surprised. I knew I was going slower than last year, but a full 40 minutes slower? Whoa!

After thinking about it post-race, I can only conclude that it is indeed the McNaughton effect, and that, 4 weeks after running 150 horrendously muddy miles, one's body is not close to fully recovered.

So no worries. And I am happy to be done, and to have enjoyed another beautiful day out on the trails.


I go around the finish picnic area greeting everyone as I hyperventilate and recover, before attacking the excellent food choices. Since my family hasn't come yet, I have plenty of time to socialize. Among people I had never met before, I talk with this finisher of the 50k race.

Nan Nguyen from Modesto

After a while I decide I should text or call my wife. As after my previous race, my older son surprises me first. My wife gives me my younger one to watch, because she must stay on her cell interviewing a potential teacher for our public Montessori elementary school we have been helping to found over the last year and a half. So I'm running around. One of the volunteers tips us off to the frozen juices in the freezer (how many post-race picnics feature a freezer?-- this race is high-end!)

In between many brief conversations interrupted by my wife telling me that my younger son is headed toward the hot grill-- ("get him before he burns himself!")-- I and my kids do a quick hike back to the course. My older son and I bond my peeing in the bushes (no photo), and a few times I have to move my younger one from being run over by a finishing runner.

my kids coming into the finish chute

I check out the division award plaques. I've gotten an age group award my first three years. Not this year. But at least I didn't miss it by one place. I'm the 4th male masters finisher, and the awards only going 2 instead of 3 deep (times are tough!), so no plaque this year even if I had come before master male #3. But everyone gets a nice finishers medal, and I'm pleased the shirt is long instead of short sleeved like the last two years.

Our plan was originally to go to our friends who leave nearby in Sunnyvale with sons the same age as ours, and spend the night, but apparently one of them has just spiked a high fever after they thought he'd recovered from Strep throat, or maybe they just said that because I smell bad after these races. So our plans change to driving to Marin to stay at my brother's since it is Mother's Day tomorrow (which is now months ago, but who cares-- Happy Fall Mother's Day!)

Mother's Day morning at the San Rafael Farmer's Market

Official results:
50 mile
25 kilometer (I never meet any of these runners, but what the heck)

Other blogged reports:

Steve Ansell (really short)

Jean Pommier (new master's course record holder)

1st published Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 3:00 p.m.

Monday, September 21, 2009

My AC100-- Running To And From the Magic Kingdom

I haven't made a habit of blogging my training runs, but my road runs are all that are left of my epic 100 mile run in Southern California this past weekend. Here is an example of how I was able to fit some running in with the time and location restraints of a family vacation to Disneyland. Originally the last day at the park was going to be today Monday, after the AC 100 Mile Endurance Run, but the Station Fire changed "AC" from "Angeles Crest" to (like the 2008 Western States) "Also Cancelled." So we decided to do Disney 3 days straight and then head home.

We drove down to Garden Grove on Tuesday, hitting a bit of rush hour traffic after the last hilly pass in Santa Clarita. The NĂ¼vi GPS and the road map showed clearly that the Angeles National Forest lay on both sides of us. I wistfully looked to the left and tried to guess at the base of which mountain the race would have ended. I also tried to see if there was any smoke from any fires still burning. (I couldn't.)

Our hotel was about one mile from the southern edge of the California Adventure Park. There was a shuttle you could pay for, but it came only every 20 minutes, plus appeared to make many stops and get crowded quickly. This was confirmed by the lines of families in front of all the hotels on Harbor Boulevard with no shuttle in sight. Of course we could afford to pay for the official Disneyland parking lot but it wasn't very close to the park.

To maximize the time my kids got to spend in the park already curtailed by their obligatory afternoon naps, with the bonus of being frugal in tough economic times, I decided that I would drop off and pick up my family, and run to and from the park. I wasn't looking for a lot of training, since I was still recovering from Cascade Crest 100 even as my PCT 100 in the Hood loomed soon. But I didn't want a complete exercise hiatus.

So the routine was this:

Eat the complementary hot breakfast at hotel. Drive family 2.2 miles to park (had to go past the 15-minute parking area and U-turn),

drive back 1.5 miles to hotel. Run over 2 miles into park, directed by text messages from my wife. A little sweaty, but everyone there would be equally sticky in an hour or two.

When either kids shows signs of melting down in the early afternoon, run back to hotel, pick up car, and pick them up. The highs were in the upper 80's so counted as some heat training. Lunch and late nap at the hotel.

Early evening, get complementary dinner from downstairs, bring it back to room.

no free dinner on Fridays, but was more than happy to pay for a tastier meal at Joe's Crab Shack

Drop off family at park. Drink a beer or take a bottle to go (didn't want to miss free beer and wine), run back to park (immediately after eating) and meet them again.

Repeat the return of running ahead at close of park. The beginning of this last run was more technically challenging, weaving in and out of the crowds, pretending I was a running back , avoiding the motorized wheelchairs and carts, and small kids.

To avoid the traffic and save more time, my wife would keep pushing the double stroller and text me her location.

(Note: despite a lot of skillfully jayrunning, still a lot of waiting on the corner for the light to change.)

So, guess I made this work, and barely ran a marathon doing these runs over three days. But I do look forward to the day our kids no longer need the naps, not to mention when my younger son is tall enough to get on the more interesting rides.

one of several rides that go round and round, after a painfully and disproportionately long wait