Author Archives: edrahl

Browne-Rice Kayak-Run Relay – 2017

July 15, 2017

Browne-Rice is back… under new management.  Of course, Browne and Rice are still around, but TRH is going through the motions of taking some responsibilities from Paul and Bob in the event they are incapacitated (or not around).

Since January, I have become closer friends with Alan Sheppard (not the astronaut, but his head is definitely in the clouds).  I stayed with his family when I did Avalon 50M, he came to Hashtravaganza, and he is a good guy to talk with (has good ideas and also listens).  Since he always seems to want to try new things, I thought him the perfect partner for this event.  Who knows how he will do with kayaking?  (Will he wear shoes in the boat?)

In the morning, I walked down to the start (off of Ocean Blvd, the usual spot) and met up with the usual crowd.  This event always “sells out,” and it always has plenty of open spots for participants who missed out originally (because of no shows).

I always insist on kayaking first because I know I will be useless after running.  I did kayak second once and hated it.  Plus as the senior member of our team, I should get first choice.

I did my usual back-of-pack demonstration with the kayaking, but I did manage to beat a couple of old ladies and corpses.

Alan took off on the run, giving me just enough time to rinse off my feet and put my shoes on without getting too much sand into my shoes.  (and I cheered him on from the street)

I was definitely the slower half of our team, but I did manage 25:16 for the 5K (which is around the same exact time I ran for Boeing last week which doesn’t run on the sand or in sandy shoes).

We finished in the top ten (of 22) and had a good time doing it.

I hung around for quite some time afterwards (not just drinking the beers) as Alan’s whole family came to enjoy a day at the beach.  I had sort of met his wife and kids before at a distance, but got to know both his boys a lot better.  They are super-cute and kinda look like him (bald and quirky).  Looking forward to doing some more events with Alan.  Seems like we have similar mindsets.

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Boeing 5K (6) – 2017

July 10, 2017

This is turning out to be a hot summer.

Spent part of my weekend volunteering at the Mt. Disappointment 50K.  Alan Sheppard was running it so I carpooled with him and had him drop me off at the base of Josephine.  I ended up caravan-ing up to the Josephine Aid Station and working there.  Met some really great people including the Aid Station captain, Deb Jorgensen (IT professional with the Dodgers) who really had a good set-up – ice, ice crushers, fake grass, lots of chairs, avocado, potato, pickle juice – really anything anyone could want.

When Alan came through, he looked like death warmed over (later, said he wanted to quit, but our good attitude got him through).  Not sure how hot it was at that point, but when Alan dropped me off at 5:30am, it was 85 degrees out!

After the last person went through, we just had to wait for word of the sweep getting into radio range to Red Box Aid Station.  We waited for a really long time and even the Search and Rescue people abandoned us.  Apparently the sweep got into difficulty and it took him over 3 hours to do 8 miles!

When I finally was dropped at Mt. Wilson around 3:45pm, I was certain Alan had finished, but couldn’t find him anywhere.  Thought he might have left (oh, no!) but then I noticed his truck was still there (maybe he got a ride with someone else… no, wait, that doesn’t make sense – heat was getting to me).

See, I had asked when I got in whether his number had come in, and they had said, “Yes,” but I said the wrong number.  Oops.  He hadn’t come in yet.  He was still struggling up the last stretch of Westfork Trail (2,500′ gain in 5 miles), so I did get to see him finish (and be really pissed about his time).  We watched some other finishes and then it was time to head down.

I was so tired on Sunday that I literally slept for 10 hours… so that was the situation going into the 5K today.

12:48 going out and 12:24 coming back (and I even walked a little bit).  Just a tad over 8:00/mile pace.

La Palma 10K – 2017

July 4, 2017

Usually carpool with Dona McBride for this race, but she had already committed to go with someone else (though later, I saw her there and she had gone stag).  But, I just drove myself and parked in the usual spot behind the medical center and right next to the Community Park where the run starts.

I had registered several months ago for something like $30 including shirt and pancake breakfast (better than in person and paying twice that).  This is at least my 10th time running this race.  Don’t love the course but it’s a good smallish local race.

My knee has been bugging me for a while and it didn’t help that a few weeks ago two large bull mastiffs crashed into my legs when I wasn’t paying attention.  I am still running fairly stiffly to ameliorate the issue.

It also doesn’t help that there is no marine layer today and it is starting out HOT!  I don’t like running when it’s particularly hot; I just don’t.

I have on my AREC tank top and I am soaked through fairly quickly.  I take it easy (for me) and do 25:30 (or so) for the first 5K.  (The “or so” is due to the fact that we start 0.15 miles behind the 5K and don’t know precisely where the 5K mark is for the 10Kers.)

I definitely slow down on the second loop, walk just a little to feel better, but I still manage 27:05.  I wanted to be under 8:00/mile pace, but given my circumstances, I am well satisfied with that result.  Even better, I placed in 2nd my division, so I have a nice medal to show for my efforts.

Talked for a bit with a new AREC guy, Ray Hernandez.  He ran the 5K and is training for the Long Beach Half Marathon.  Hope he has some success (getting over a divorce after a long marriage).

AREC Prediction 5M – 2017

June 21, 2017

Just the regular fun run, except you can’t wear your watch (Boeing occasionally does these, but we just look at our watches and decide whether we are going to hit a good time or just run whatever).  Inger and I had done a practice last week to see what our actual time would be.

However, it is really hot out this week, so both of us do a prediction that is substantially (meaning 45 seconds to a minute) more than what we did last week.

And holy smokes, guess what?  I ran 21 seconds FASTER than last week, so I was WAAAY off.

Boeing 5K (5) – 2017

June 12, 2017

Yesterday I ran all around Chavez Ravine and tweaked my right knee a little bit, so today I am seeing if I should take it easier.

I ended up running fairly stiffly to favor my knee a bit and did a 12:10 outbound, and returned in 12:14.  (Total 24:24)

Even though I finished in sub-8:00 pace, my knee still feels a bit off.  Just need to nurse it a bit and not overdo things.

Shadow of the Giants 50K (29.2M) – 2017

June 3, 2017

Decided to travel up for a third year and run Shadow of the Giants 50K again because it is a nice drive, nice run, and beautiful terrain.  Stephanie Harris accompanied me once again and this time, we brought a parks pass with us so we didn’t have to pay the fee to drive around Yosemite Park (Jessica Centeno was to come with us but got sick at the last moment, but thanks for the pass (and dinner!).).

We did much of what we did last year, which was look at Half Dome (more crowded), and go view Bridalveil Falls (really crowded, but we did get a parking spot where all the wheels of my car were submerged).  We couldn’t even really go up to the Falls because there was so much water coming down.

Instead, we ended up hiking a bit away from the falls, hoping to get a better view.  We kept saying, “We’ll go to the Capitan Bridge, but we never found a Capitan Bridge.”  (Hmm…)

We texted briefly with Laura and Chuck.  Thought they might join us in the park but they may have left too late to do so (and I think, planned to go afterwards).

When we got back to the Outdoor School (the staging area for the race and where we spend the night), Laura and Chuck were just arriving.  We staked out a claim in one of the cabins (don’t see the Japanese folks this year, so maybe no drama) and then headed over to the mess hall for dinner.

I had not paid for dinner but ended up with Jessica C’s dinner ticket.  The cook made two huge lasagnas (one vegetarian, one meat) and both were really good, plus some salad (which I ate a ton of).

They were showing footage of Western States stuff on the screen (something about the guy that DNF’ed (while leading at Mile 99.9) and then coming back and completing the race 10 years later with his son watching.  Then Baz talked about the race and the new race director talked about the course. Nothing special different.

At the dinner, we also saw Megan Stone and Darrell Price (from Ridgecrest).  They are running tomorrow but not staying here (nearby, though).  Tomorrow will be Megan’s first ultramarathon, so we talk the usual strategy (walk hills, drink plenty, etc.).

We go to bed relatively early (say, 9pm) and an older (55) Asian lady in our cabin is talking about starting early with Bill Dickey.  There is an early start at 6am, but they are planning to go out at 5am.  Even though Stephanie would probably be fine starting out with everyone else, it IS easier not to be at the back from the get-go and all the way to the finish.  I guess I’ll find out when they leave whether she went early or EXTRA-early!

I sleep OK, at least not stressfully and dreaming of being punched by some Japanese jerk (like last year).  I am able to roll out of bed and utilize the toilet without having to wait.  When I get back into the room, someone’s alarm is going off (for over 20 minutes).  When Laura gets back from the bathroom, we realize it’s her alarm (what alarm continues to go off for 20 minutes?!?).

We go and hang out in the mess hall awaiting the start.  I see several familiar faces – the aforementioned Megan and Darrell, Rob McNair (Legacy of this race and my buddy from HB), Tricia Keane (LAH3), and Karin Usko (Ridgecrest).  It is pretty seldom now that I go to a race without recognizing at least one person (or someone recognizing me).

Looks like it is going to be a hot day!  I am not concentrating on improving my time (by 1 second last year) but just finishing and not falling and breaking another limb.

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Race starts out and we immediately start climbing the paved road and then onto the dirt road.  Everyone passes me (pretty much) except those like me who are walking.  Running uphill is  not the answer (especially if you’ve started out at 5,000 feet already!), people!

At the top of the hill, the 20K folks veer away (pretty much everyone around me) and we start running downhill to the turnaround, where we are sometimes greeted by Baz.  I finish this 3.3M section in 49:51 (or around 15 minutes per mile).  For an added stat, I am wearing my Garmin and after the fact, it tells me what my fastest per mile pace was on any part of this section (and it says I was doing 5:24/mile at one point – maybe for a nanosecond!).

At the turnaround, we.. turn around and head back up the hill, so I am walking until I get to the top.  I have forgotten how this section goes.  Feel like you get to the top of the original hill and then it flattens out, but really, it continues climbing, and there are endless turns to the aid station (which I have marked as 3 miles away, but it is really 4.6, which is somewhat aggravating).

Because there is so much uphill, I average 15:50 per mile (8:50 fastest pace for another millisecond).

Now it does flatten out and there is a lengthy downhill section, both on paved surface and on somewhat technical surface.  At the bottom of the hill is a campground, and a water crossing.  In the past two years (of drought), this has been a mild crossing, almost possible to get across without getting your shoes wet, but this year it is considerably deeper.

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I arrive about the same time as Laura so we hold hands as we go across (more balance for her as it is waist-deep on her).  It’s super COLD!  At the other side, we are greeted by Baz, who has his usual colorful language (both by mouth and by signage) – something about ladies can cool off if they remove clothing.  His buddy, at the aid station sees me and remembers my high five with Baz at his Bluejay Campground run a few years back.

I spy the back of a truck bed and suggest that Baz can stand on that if he wants to do another high five with me.  (He scoffs at me and lovingly calls me a love-making term.)  This is a short 2 mile section which takes around 30 minutes.

Now we ascend out of the area, the uphill serving as a method of shoe draining.  Laura and I are briefly together, but I forge ahead with the knowledge that she will catch up to me at any time.

At the top of the hill, you head back down for a time, and then turn right onto a fire road and climb until you get to the aid station – a long four miles (again around 15/mile).

Here it is where we turn onto the single-track and into the woods.  I keep going back and forth with a kid in odd running clothing.  It is the sort of back and forth where I catch up and then he takes off.

Eventually, we have some conversation and he is 18 years old and when his mom decided to do this race, he and his siblings wanted to run as well (but only he was allowed to go).  Think this is his first race ever.  And his name is Zenyn, so of course, the two weirdly named guys get along.

It’s nice because neither of us is changing our own pace in order to run with the other; we just catch up, slow down, whatever is needed for our own run, and if we are together, we have a nice talk.

This section is the part where I do have to watch my step particularly, because in the past (and this year is no exception), it is technical and covered with small twigs, low-hanging branches, and varying up- and down-hill sections.

When I enter the soft dirt of the fire road, and pass by a number of parked cars and campers, I know that I am getting close to the next aid station.  This is the longest section, with 5.6 miles between aid.

I catch up to a female runner, Debbie Sexton.  She recognizes me from the Sunmart 50M. (See?)  She is also FB friends with my buddies from Sunmart (Dave, Jerry, and Gary).  We walk/run together for a while, almost until we get to the Shadow of the Giants Aid Station (another ~15 minute/mile section).

This the aid station where you can leave your stuff behind for a mile, if you want, because it is only 1.1 miles for the Shadow of the Giants loop.

I kind of hate this section because it has a lot of up and down, usually a bunch of tourists and seems to take forever, and sure enough, I do have to stop twice for tourists for photos (of the real sequoias, not me).

When I get back (16:49 per mile, see?), the aid station is totally out of water.  To rehydrate in this hot weather, at least I have some pieces of watermelon to keep me sane.  Megan is just coming into the aid station for the first time as I am leaving.

Now I exit out of this section and begin the long slow ascent back to the aid station we encountered before the turn-off into the single-track.  I catch up to an elegant black lady in a pink LASAA shirt named Egzine, but she later passes me when the angle is more to her liking.

Again, this section seems endless (4.6 miles, mostly uphill) but when I hear Russian-sounding music in the distance, I feel like I must be almost there, and I’ve maintained a 15:52/mile pace (pretty consistent on the 14-17/mile pace I have to say).

Now all that remains is 3.6 miles to the finish, with my favorite section (not just because it is at the end) which is single-track, lots of turns, climbing over logs, slipping on pine needles, and crossing a bridge.  It is also mostly downhill and most of the previous finishers will be there to applaud me in when I arrive.

Zenyn and Egzine beat me by two minutes (which is not much in the scheme of things), and I finish in 7:19:55 (about 40 minutes slower than last year), but in running downhill in the last section, I do get my total average time under 15:00/mile (14:57/mile).

Megan comes in about 5 minutes later, followed by Laura 30 minutes later.  Laura had some difficulty because there was no water at the Shadow aid station.  She ended up drinking water from a stream flowing across the road (and by stream, I mean, lightly flowing puddles). Wow, bad.

We wait basically until the last finisher comes across and that is Zenyn’s mom, 90 minutes after me.

I am pretty happy with my time given that I ran at almost identical pace to what I did one month ago at Wild Wild West 50K.  I did run 12 ultras in 12 months, but it does take its toll.

My next race should be Skyline 50K in August (but I am planning to volunteer at Harding Hustle next month).

ASP Ekiden Relay (2017)

May 21, 2017

I always have fun doing these but I got started a little late from my house and arrived just as they were doing the drawings for the teams.  As usual, I got picked last (meaning I have to run the longest distance (first teammate runs 1 mile, second, 2, third, 3, fourth, 4)), but I am on a team with Jim Kelley, so maybe we will be fast.

It is a bit warm out (nearly 80) and I am not the same runner I was the first time I did this relay a dozen years ago.

The best part about this run is getting to see a number of people I don’t see all that often, as well as the kids that keep coming back to these events, but are starting to grow up.  Sandy Draper’s daughter used to watch the runs, and now is a bit of a powerhouse in the mile sprint (think she is a decent 5Ker as well).  The littlest kids from 12 years ago are all in their 20s (kids of Beverly Andrew)!

After our first three legs are run, we are in 5th place and it is my turn to run.  Course is a little different.  We used to run straight up the hill, along Ellis, left on Goldenwest to the edge of the park, but now, they want us to turn around sooner, so we do an extra little loop by the lake on the uneven pedestrian path.

We are just behind 4th place and I easily pass that runner, but I know that behind me, probably 45 seconds to a minute back (at the handoff) will catch and pass me just as easily.

I manage to stave off the passing until midway down Ellis (and that included walking up the hill on Edwards) and then I was walking and running alternately trying to stay ahead of the 6th place runner.

I feel like I am not running that well (evidenced by being passed so easily by certain runners), but I manage to finish the 4 miles in 33:24 and basically maintain the 5th place finish.

They have a good post-run brunch and I also win Horton Hears a Who in the post-race video raffle drawing.  Pretty good run and pretty good haul for “free.”