Boeing 5K (10) – 2019

December 9, 2019

Today, I am doing the race with poles. It is an interesting running style. I don’t plunk the stick down with every step. It’s more like every 3-5 steps. Also, it gets very tiring swinging my arms so much, especially as my arm is not fully back to the regular range of motion. 18:49 out, and 17:54 back, about 1/3 of it walking. Happy to be “back to normal.”

Saddleback Half Marathon – 2019

December 7, 2019

So I have been rehabbing my arm/shoulder for about a month post-surgery. I am mostly just walking, haven’t done a lot of trail runs. My friend Lauren Miertschin who often coordinates volunteers for Dirty Feet Racing or Steve Harvey, took over the reins for some of the races near Blue Jay Canyon. She offers me a free entry in the Saddleback Half Marathon. I tell her that it will probably be slow as I am not fully recovered from my fall.

Marisa helped me source and size some hiking poles that will give me some stability and help with balance in getting back into running again. I picked up a pair of carbon fiber poles from REI a couple of weeks ago and have been using them on the track and pretty much on every walk/run I can.

The Saddleback Half is on trails from Blue Jay Campground so I am familiar with them, but I have never done a trail race with poles.

First of all, single-track with poles is difficult because they hit things and drag. I tested out untelescoping the poles and carrying them on my back but at their shortest, they are nearly three feet long! They hit me in my butt… and lower. Not great.

There was some confusion on the turnaround, so I think the race might have been 0.7 miles short. But… it’s not like I was going for a PR or anything.

The second half of the race was less single-track but it was also pouring. It was a bit muddy at spots and some ducking.

I was certainly the last finisher (3:52) and came in after the award ceremony (glad everyone didn’t have to wait) but had a nice time visiting with Lauren and her family (and friends who all volunteered) and happy that I managed to finish a long-ish race post-surgery.

Boeing 5K – 2019 (DNF)

October 14, 2019

I had a nice recovery week in between my 100K DNF and the Boeing run. This means I can run and not walk, though it may be slower due to not running much last week. This will be my 132nd consecutive Boeing 5K. I broke the all-time record of 120 in a row about a year ago and not much can stop me…

The beginning of the run is going well. I know I am doing about 8 minutes a mile and I feel great.

After the turnaround, I am heading down under PCH chasing one of the younger runners when I catch my foot in a pothole and I fly headlong into the pavement. I do what I can in the two seconds I have to react but hit on my right hand and scrape my left knee.

When I try to get up and continue, the pain is excruciating. My left shoulder feels off and I am unable to walk straight and I am extremely dizzy. I am bleeding a little bit but not significantly.

Jim Scianni who is the next person behind me stops and sits with me for a bit, but leaves me when his 8 year-old grandson passes (because he doesn’t want to leave him alone at the end). He says he’ll send someone to pick me up from PCH unless I decide to call 911.

Raji is the last to come by and she stops and sits with me and tries (gently) to convince me to call 911. I don’t really want to do that but I don’t know how long I will have to wait for someone to pick me up (and probably take me to the hospital). Eventually, I do call 911 and they are there in about 15 minutes.

They assess me, wheel me on a stretcher to the ambulance on PCH and I say goodbye and thanks to Raji. I ask that they not give me opioids because I don’t want to deal with the constipation afterwards, so I do not get any painkiller. What a mistake because I am unable to lie down because of my shoulder and every bump is really really painful.

They take me to Los Alamitos Hospital and I wait a bit to be assessed. I ask if I can have some kind of whatever painkiller and I groan myself hoarse waiting for it (yes, opioids). It takes some time but eventually helps a little. They told me I probably broke my pinky and definitely dislocated my shoulder. They splint my finger and are working on getting my shoulder back into its socket.

They say they will “Propofol” me and try and get my shoulder back in while I am unconscious. I wait and wait and wait and finally ask when they are going to make the attempt. They say, “Oh, we already tried.” I guess Propofol is short recovery anesthetic (what Michael Jackson took that he overdosed on – knocked him out and quick recovery).

They say the next step is to wait for the OR to have availability so they can try something surgical. First, they will try with general anesthetic. If that doesn’t work, a scope, and if that doesn’t work, surgically repair.

Around 7pm (!), I finally get into the OR and am back out by about 8pm. The first bit worked and I am free to go if I want. Having spent a bad night in the hospital when I broke my elbow, I would rather sleep in my own bed.

I take an Uber home. Fortunately, I run with my keys and my cellphone. My wallet is locked in the trunk of my car in the Boeing lot.

In the morning, I decide that I need to get my car back, so I walk the 3 miles to Boeing in my sling and get my car. I run a couple of errands because I don’t want to get stuck at home with no food and no transportation. (Also, no ID.)

When I get home, I call Kaiser and schedule an appointment for the next day to get a referral and pain meds. I walked to Kaiser to be safe. Then I get an appointment the next day to look at my shoulder and pinky. I can’t get an appointment with an Orthopaedist but with the next step down which was fine. Appointment was in Harbor City, so I did have to drive myself.

She says that I have to have a half-arm cast for my pinky to keep it from moving (3 weeks) and once I have the x-rays, they determine that I Have to have surgery on my shoulder. (When you dislocate your shoulder, you usually fracture your humerus. If it is 1-2 centimeters, you just let it heal on its own. My break was 18 centimeters!)

I schedule my surgery for the following Tuesday. I am a little bummed because I am supposed to fly to Dallas the Thursday after to see my sister inducted into the Rice University Athletics Hall of Fame. I may have to cancel that. Boo. Hiss.

My friends really step up. Inger takes me to my pre-op appointment on Monday. Angela drives me to the OR on Tuesday, and Alan will pick me up from the surgery afterwards, with Inger on call if the surgery goes long and it’s too late for Alan.

The day is really long as the room I am scheduled for doesn’t open up for 2 hours past my original starting time. Surgery is always potentially dangerous (the anesthesiologist told me the initial muscle block could cause paralysis or death) so waiting longer just makes me more nervous. Everyone was really nice and helpful. I chatted with the admission folks and sang to the nurses prior to the surgery.

I guess everything went well; I don’t have any memory. (Probably a good thing.) Alan was there to pick me up even though it was after 9pm. He was very patient and helped me carry my icebox cold water circulator back into my condo afterwards. (I’m sure he didn’t get home to his family until 10pm!) At least, I didn’t have a lot of crap to carry in… as a runner, I just dressed in running shorts and only took the minimum (credit card, ID, house keys) so I didn’t have to worry about a bunch of items.

The first day pain was bearable; thought I might be able to still go to Dallas, but decided against that. Later in the week, I flew up to Oakland and stayed with my mom for a week. She helped me shower with a bag on my arm. Not a great week as high winds shut down the power for the first few days of my stay.

Rehab took a while. I didn’t affect my feet but I couldn’t really run for sometime.

At my last recovery appointment, I visited with everyone at Kaiser – the initial Orthopedic doctor, the surgeon, the OR nurses, the admission staff, and made them all a thank you card and chocolate chip cookies. I remember them saying, “Oh, we’ll share this with the other nurses,” and I said, “Oh, no, I have something for all of you.”

I promise my next Boeing post will be a finish and not so awful.

Cuyamaca 100K – DNF – 2019

October 5, 2019

After venturing down to San Diego last year to help “pace” Alan in his inaugural 100K race, I had some interest in trying out the race myself. However, it has been many years since I have completed or even attempted 100 kilometers.

I’m not certain if the training that Alan and I did will be sufficient but one of the bonuses of this event is that they offer previews of the course four times during the summer in 20 mile increments. Alan and I attended two of these (involving leaving Long Beach at about 4:30am) and I struggled on both – lots of climbing and descent and technical trails. The nice part of the tuns is meeting people, getting to know the trails, and beer and snacks afterwards… but long drive both directions!

On Friday night, I was fortunate enough to be able to stay with Alan’s brother in Julian and get an OK night of sleep (though I never sleep that great the night before). It was a sight better morning situation than in 2018 when I punctured my tire and Alan had to bicycle pump it back because I was still recovering from a broken wrist. In other words, no tire trauma or distractions.

We picked up our bibs and giveaways – green tech shirt and orange hoodie jacket – and prepared to start the race. I always hang towards the back because I know that I will be slow and don’t want to hinder the other runners.

The “gun” goes off. We run maybe 100 yards and then slow to a crawl as the trail cuts from two-lane road to single-track in a matter of feet. I am always concerned about cutoffs and it doesn’t help that I am pretty much at a standstill one minute into the race.

Once I get onto the single-track, I am able to run for about 30 seconds before I come to another halt. Now we have two creek crossings over a narrow log. I suppose I could try and jump ahead and just go through the water but the entrance to the water is narrow as well and all that will do is put me ahead of folks that will want to immediately pass me on the next bit of single-track.

I think I have maybe traveled a half mile in 20 minutes and now I have to seemingly make up this time and quickly.

This early section is fairly flat single-track through overgrown weeds (path is clear but weeds block view of my feet) and I am in a long serpentine single file somewhat struggling to keep the pace of those around me. At one point, I step to the side and it’s 20 people passing before I can edge back in. There are a few gentle slopes and a few rocky sections but nothing major. We parallel the main highway for a couple miles before crossing the highway (no traffic to speak of at this hour) and get onto a wide uphill fire-road for a few miles. Of course, I briskly walk the uphill and fade further behind everyone else.

Eventually, I turn off onto some single-track (downhill) which leads back to another wider fire-road, the familiar mile-and-a-half downhill to the first aid station. I ascertain that I am a good 10 minutes behind Alan already (out-and-back section). I make quick work out of the station. I am doing OK on time but probably one of the last ones to arrive.

Now back up the hill to the more technical section. My knee is acting up a bit so I don’t overdo it and I am mostly by myself for the next five to six miles. Again, I am one of the last people into the aid station. I am still ahead of the cutoff but the times become more stringent the further I get into the race so I would rather bank time.

From this aid station, Green Valley, I am getting into unfamiliar territory. Just prior to the race, they announced that due to construction, we will not be able to climb up Cuyamaca Peak but will do something different (elevation-wise, not as high, but climbing-wise, more gain). I feel like I am doing well going up the hill, not suffering from the elevation too much but the rockiness of the trail is not to my advantage. Also, it is getting pretty hot and I don’t do real well in the heat.

I get to the “Peak” aid station and a volunteer named Angela (Schatz?) is here in beach wear (read: dorky inner tube and wade pool) offering cold water and aid station stuff. I decline the offer of being doused but hustle on.

After the aid station, the terrain seems a bit familiar but I get frustrated because I constantly see signs for Paso Picacho (the next aid station) but the ribbons and flour arrows are always pointing in the opposite direction. It seems like I’ll never get there.

With each passing minute, I get more nervous that I will not even make this cutoff, which would be disappointing. With about 10 minutes to go, I can see the aid station, but not sure if the trail will take me there in under 10 minutes. I increase my speed as best I can and make it through with less than 5 minutes to spare. (They are already packing up!)

Now I have just about 90 minutes to go 3.5 miles, but I remember it being somewhat technical and a lot of little ups and downs. I am not worried about making the cutoff, but I am worried about the next section and making those cutoffs.

I get back to HQ start/finish in around 9:30, made it with 30 minutes to spare, but I know I have to hurry through in order to have any chance to finish.

The next loop involves going through the same creek but then making a left turn. There is a little traffic on this section as it is also part of the return on this section. I see Chris Ferrier heading out on Loop 3. He says something like “Great job,” until he realizes I am 13 miles behind him. (I don’t think he rescinded his “Great job,” but was concerned for me.) It’s nice to see some people until I turn off for the climb up to Harvey Moore Trailhead and I see no one for 45 minutes. I keep hearing voices but I assume it must be hikers somewhere ahead (above) me.

Once I get to the top of this taxing section, the trail flattens out quite a bit and it is very similar to the early can’t-see-me-feet-because-of-weeds section earlier (but less technical). On a couple parts, I can actually see other competitors wa-a-a-y off in the distance. Far away but visible!

Eventually, I catch up to one of the runners. He is suffering some intestinal distress which is how I managed to catch him. He is about 30 years old and named Jesse Ellis. I have run into him at a number of other ultras but usually he is taking pictures or volunteering. Nice guy.

I see a few other runners including one that blasts past the turnoff clearly marked with chalk (don’t see him again). This downhill section is similar to West Horsethief near the main divide, with several switchbacks and semi-technical rocky trail. I am chasing another cutoff (not as dire as Paso Picacho but still). I seem to remember that you get to the aid station at the bottom of the hill, but that is not accurate. It’s the bottom of the hill, a short climb, another flat trail, some more descent, paralleling the highway, et cetera, et cetera ad infinitum. Frustrating that it seemingly doesn’t get any closer as time ticks away.

I grab a few things and I know I need to get going. It’s definitely dusky and the further I can get before it gets totally dark will be to my advantage. The volunteer tells me that I need to get going. Got it. I appreciate the encouragement. I like the fact that this volunteer knows what the cutoffs are and where we are in the race.

I hustle along this section of trail which is somewhat familiar – some of it was trod on this morning. Unfortunately, there is a different turn at one point and this wouldn’t be a problem except that there are no glow sticks and the ribbons are not visible in the dark. I wish that race directors would place reflective ribbons based upon the possibility of where the slowest runner could be, not where they hope they might be.

It is slow going especially because I have to swing my headlamp with my hands to make sure I am not going off trail. I do manage to get to the water crossing but I need my hands for balance but then that plunges me into darkness and I can’t see where to balance myself. It takes me some extra time and even then, I do end up splashing into the water a bit.

I get back to the HQ start-finish in 13:50, about 20 minutes beyond the cutoff. I am disappointed not to make it further but not sure how well I would have done stumbling around in the dark for the last 18 miles by myself.

I help out at the finish line and watch people come running in, including Alan in a time about an hour slower than he ran in 2018.

I am hoping to work on my speed and technical trail running and attempt this again next year. Hopefully, no health issues or injuries!

Golden West Classic 5K – 2019

September 20, 2019

This is probably the last time I hear about this race as Matt Simpson is retiring as the coach of Golden West College running. There are three races – boys, girls, and coaches. Of the three, the coaches race is usually the most sparse. It includes coaches, “ineligible” runners (maybe redshirts (in JC?)), and me. Everyone in this race is under 30 years old, except me.

This is a fun cross country race in Huntington Beach Central Park. I used to run races here several times a year but that has dried up somewhat. I know my paces today will be slower as it IS cross country and not street. Also, around mile 2, the course goes into hillier territory, so I know I will have to walk just a bit. Plus, totally unmotivating to run by myself way at the back.

I run splits of 7:37 (trying to keep up, ha!), 8:45, and 9:53, and finish in 25:53. Pretty happy with that and technically, I finish in the top 10!

I stay for a bit to watch the boys and girls races. There are only a dozen (more heavyset) boys that I would have beaten, and about 25 girls. I guess we will wait and see if they are still running 30 years later!

This race was supposed to be a rematch between me and GWC Assistant Coach Mike Kelter, but he was having some surgery. Matt gave me a special trophy, a horse’s ass. Haha.

Boeing 5K (8) – 2019

September 9, 2019

Just like last month, Alan and I went down to Julian to run another portion of the Cuyamaca 100K course. The race is less than a month away. Hope I am ready!

Both my knees hurt today (usually just my left one) and so again started out conservatively doing 12:34. However, on the way back, I did not have to walk and did a HUGE negative split of 11:39 to run a third consecutive month of sub 25:00. I wonder what I will do next month!

Boeing 5K (7) – 2019

August 12, 2019

Busy day today! First, I have the Boeing 5K. I had done little running last week because of the Skyline 50K, but Saturday, Alan and I went down to Julian to run part of the Cuyamaca 100K course (which we are running in October), so I am sure the 20 miles of trails we did will take something out of me. This evening I am putting on an LA Hash in Echo Park. My trail has over 800 stairs in it, and I will have to go out early to pre-lay the Eagle section which is two HUGE blocks of stairs.

For the first half of Boeing, I went out somewhat conservatively but try to stay close to Dave Parsel, and I felt pretty good – 12:22.

On the second half, I needed to stop and walk on two occasions. At least, my secret power is that I am able to ramp back into close to my original pace on the way back. (Also, there is a tailwind. It feels hot but you are pushed just that little bit more.) I manage 12:30 on the way back and do a second consecutive month of sub 25:00 5Ks.

Skyline 50K – 2019

August 4, 2019

I’m back in Northern California once again for my 10th consecutive Skyline 50K (and 12 running). Hard to believe that I have done this race so many times. I am one of the youngest runners with 10+ completions.

I feel relatively okay this year so I am not utilizing the early start. I have used it previously when I am only two weeks removed from a previous ultra. Hopefully, my current fitness level doesn’t put me on the cusp of cutoffs.

The course this year is somewhat opposite of my favorite course. I really wish they would bring back the suspension bridge and Honker Bay portion, but I don’t know what hoops they have to jump through or the logistics that necessitate the current course.

As the race starts, the pull of the crowd pulls me along at a faster pace, which is good for the times when I am by myself and unmotivated. Soon enough, though, I am on the flat boring section towards Bort Meadow and mostly by myself. Fortunately, I can maintain about the same pace until the trail heads uphill where I drop back to 18 minute a mile pace.

I enjoy this section despite the hills. There is always a friendly radio operator at the top of the hill that you get to see both ways. I always give him a shout out (particularly because since he is not in an aid station location, he will generally not get a lot of thanks from runners). Now a nice booming run (ish) down the hill and over to Redwood Road and a nice aid station with fresh melon.

Lots of single-track up to the Stream Trail and hoping to see my sister Marisa at the top. In the past, she and a friend have met me here and walked with me to the start of the French Trail. Sometimes the family comes to cheer me on (but not walk). Skyline Gate has always been the (almost) turn-around of the race. This year, it’s a bit past the turnaround. This is a bit confusing, because I’ll estimate my time based upon when I arrive here and now I really have no idea.

Marisa meets me (parking sucked) and walks a bit longer than she usually does. It’s nice to have that extra bit of company that isn’t quite the same from a random runner you met 15 minutes ago.

I could blame my pace slow down on my sister but there are so many roots in this section (and on the downhill) that I want to take it easier just to be safe. And, it isn’t all downhill; there are some really sucky uphills but at least the cover of the redwoods keeps the temperatures cooler (especially since the morning fog has burned off).

Once I get back to Redwood Road, it’s the usual reverse of course, up the booming hill (hot now), wave to the radio guy, and back down to Bort Meadow. Now out to the opposite side of the trail and down to Stone Bridge.

In the old days, we’d take the single-track to Honker Bay, run around the lake counter-clockwise, and go across the suspension bridge. Today, we are following the original out trail in, which means veer near Golf Links Road, cross the damn dam, and then significant up and down hill paved section to the end. Finishing on pavement hurts my feet!

I’m a bit disappointed with my second half, since I was just under 4 hours going out (3:48) and 4:17 coming back for fewer miles and more downhill and paved. But a finish is a finish.

NOTE: As I write this, I am still about 18 months behind and the way 2020 went, I should have spent more time catching up but was unmotivated. This post is fairly sparse because my running log only has splits and zero notes on anyone I met (and with no hints, I have no clue). I know that I did a few miles with my sister because I did a virtual of this course in November 2020 and my sister did about 8 miles with me. Also, all my griping about the course change, well, when I did this virtual, I included all of the prior course bits plus a wrong turn and did nearly 40 miles.

Rohring Around the Clock 6H – 2019

July 20, 2019

Decided to go down and support my friend Jim Tello and his timed race (timed versus distance). My intention was not to do a lot of mileage, but rather do a little bit and then drop by the Stone Brewing for either a beer or a tour. Laura, Mona, and I had stopped in last month en route to pacing Alan Sheppard in his 100 miler and it piqued my interest. Easier to visit a brewery in San Diego if you are in San Diego!

I had run this race a few years prior with Laura, but we did the 12 hour. I can still remember how bored I got doing the 5K loops, so I brought a couple of books to read while I participated. It’s flat and untechnical enough that I generally won’t trip.

My first book was a Bosch mystery and that took me about 3 hours to read and 20 kilometers. I got about halfway through a second book but ended up stopping short of the 6 hours because I wanted to check out the Rohr Park library book sale (the start/finish was at the library) and it shut down before the end of the 6 hours.

I ended up getting 5 books for about $3, including Pam Reed’s running book and a number of political pundit books for 25 to 50 cents each (read and recycle).

I thanked Jim for a memorable 30K and then drove up to the Stone Brewery. I had just missed the last tour of the day but I convinced them to let me join in anyway. It was fascinating learning about their process but I was bummed that the bottling line wasn’t working on a Saturday. I find the automation process so fascinating. I was, at least, able to look at the machines and imagine what it would look like.

Browne Rice 1M Kayak/5K Run Relay – 2019

July 12, 2019

The Browne Rice (ThomBob) Relay has become a summer tradition and the last few years, Alan has been my relay partner and makes it extra enjoyable, but I do refuse to run barefoot. I do kayak barefoot and that is my one concession (I don’t make him kayak in shoes, though).

I got in a little extra exercise by running to the start – less of a warm-up and more of a avoiding crappy parking issues.

I kayak first to get it out of the way and push us into last or next to last place and then it is up to our running or Alan’s kayaking skills to hurdle back into quasi-contention.

This event isn’t really about how fast we go – we certainly can’t compete with the Buchbinder family – it’s about camaraderie, fun, and seeing how much our kayaking skills have deteriorated in 12 months. Honestly, I think it gets worse and worse every year. Shouldn’t I be faster?

Alan, 10 years younger, is of course faster than I am in both disciplines, but I am pretty happy with 26:32 for my 5K, which remember, is about 1/2 mile on sand. Anything under 27:00 minutes is just fine.

Afterwards, we enjoy some brunch, gatorade, and beer (shh) on the beach as we celebrate everyone’s achievement.