Piedmont Turkey Trot 5K – 2017

November 23, 2017

Once again back to Piedmont for the Turkey Trot.  Course used to be the same as the Feet Meet which probably technically was my first 5K as a (non-running) youth.

They’ve changed the course in the past few years to make it a true 5K and also to eliminate the Hampton hill (like 10% grade for a short distance).  It is still a hilly course, though.

Last year, Mom did not participate because she had hives and exercise just made it worse.  Last week, Mom, Myrrh, and Dad were walking the course and Mom stepped on a low-to-the-ground palm frond with one foot, hooked her other foot under it and did a face-plant on the sidewalk, so guess she is not participating again this year, but Myrrh and Dad are walking the course behind me.

As before, the course starts along Highland past our old house and then down Highland to Wildwood, which is a quarter-mile steady uphill (not steep, but annoying).  I force myself to run this entire section (lungs burning) and come through Mile 1 in 7:50.

Now we turn up Crocker and a little more uphill, then do the (new) loop around Florada and back around to the St. James section.  I do walk the few hills here and do Mile 2 in 10:58.

Now it’s the long, steady climb up Seaview by all the huge houses.  I powerwalk as best I can and then as soon as I get to the top, run down the hill.  I give myself a small walk up the Craig hill (Mile 3 in 7:30), and then run the rest of the way to the finish in 26:56.

Since they are doing 10 year age groups (with 3,000 racers), I come in 46th in my division, but 307th overall (I like the number 307 for some reason).

After I recover a bit, I hike back to find Myrrh and Dad and walk in with them.  Surprisingly, there are 8 competitors in the 80-89 age group and Dad comes in 7th (though 2nd through 7th are within 3 minutes of each other).  The shame was had he come in 8th, he would have received a big bag of chocolates (courtesy of some “8” Chocolate sponsor).

We saw a few classmates, some of Riva’s friends (though Riva was not here), got our share of yogurts and Clif Bars (in Riva’s honor, though she would have come home with a case) and then went back to enjoy a nice Thanksgiving with my family.


Boeing 5K (9) – 2017

November 13, 2017

Feet are extremely sore, but I want to see if I can modestly run the race today.

Started out and ran mostly with Jim (who is in his 70s but still a great runner).

14:40 outbound and a wonderful tailwind on the return for 12:05 and net time of 26:45 (sub-9:00/mile is good these days, especially 2 days after a tough ultra).

Chino Hills 50K – 2017

November 11, 2017

A few weeks earlier, at the AREC Pre-Marathon Awards party, I put all my raffle tickets in for the Chino Hills 50K (you get a certain number of tickets and you put in for one or more drawings for prizes – I only put in for ones I know I might attend).  Surprisingly, I won (or not surprisingly, maybe no one else really likes trail running as much as I do).

Just as a precursor, I should mention that Chino Hills is not one of the places where I like to run.  There isn’t a ton of shade, the ground surface is hard, and there are a lot of hills.  Probably the last time I ran here was a memorial run for my late friend, Hwa-Ja Andrade.  Even for a memorial run, I wasn’t terribly jazzed about running there, but, free is free.

The race is put on another good friend (and similar pace runner) Yen Darcy, so at least I knew that she would have our best interests at heart (despite making us run in this unforgiving landscape).

Alan was running, too, and we made a plan to carpool (but I also suspected he would kick my ass) and also new-ish AREC runner, Janadel Harris, who said that she would just be “jogging” it. (Note:  Maybe not her precise words, but she was nonchalant, almost self-deprecating, when she said it.).

We arrived extra early and got a decent parking spot (not too far a walk from the start/finish).  Check-in was a little chaotic and besides the numbers, there were items on the table you could take (or not).  I ended up just taking the pair of fancy white gloves, a Chino Hills plastic bag, and the included long-sleeved turquoise tech shirt.

There is really only one ingress/egress into Chino Hills Park, so of course, this was the start of the event, across the gravel parking lot, around to the right and up the paved/dirt trail that hugs the edge of the park.  After it began to ascend more than I was comfortable running on, I began to walk and everyone passed me.  I watched Alan and Jan soar off ahead.

I tried to make sure that periodically (if it flattened out), that I would run a little bit to make sure I would stay ahead of the cutoffs (generous, by the way).  The first aid station was 4.5 miles in and I got there in 53:12 (a decent, if a bit “fast” pace).

Then, we turned to the right (a direction I had not run within the park) and it went endlessly uphill.  I set my goals as trying to catch people WAY ahead of me (walking briskly, of course) and I ended up catching a skimpily dressed woman with a cast on one arm (who looked a bit familiar).  Turns out, I had made her acquaintance at some A Better World Running Events.  She was doing this event as a precursor to the Revel Marathon tomorrow!  Thank goodness I was able to pass her!

When we finished climbing the hills (more like rolling hills with an uphill tendency), there was a quick descent on an awkward single track down to Four Corners (a section familiar to me).  Even though I was towards the back, lots of people passed me on this section – the 30K runners who started a bit later.  Bad timing.  I covered this 3 mile section in 47 minutes or about 15:00/mile.

Now for the bulk of the course – the double loop section.  First, a short 2.7 mile section, mostly downhill to the aid station we would hit three times.  I accelerated to a 12:30 mile for this section, knowing I would probably lose the majority of that going forward.

The first loop was the worst, though the good part was being able to see other runners (in our own race) at various stages.  When they were above me, I could see the horrible trail ahead, and when they were below me, I realized that there were still some folks behind me (yay!).  This was definitely the longest gap between aid stations at 6.2 miles (an eternity in any race, but especially on trails) and harder yet as the temperature climbs along with the grade.  Nearly 90 minutes passed (still around 15:00/mile) on this section alone.

The second loop I enjoyed more, but it also had its pros and cons.  There was a brief section on paved road where I was around a number of other people (most in the 30K who turned around just before this aid station).  I was a bit confused and almost turned around with them until I saw the station a little further down the road.

I saw some people coming from a dirt trail to the left (and discovered that would be the inbound trail and I was still heading outbound).

For the opening part of this section, I began on a mesa of sorts by some farm equipment, a bathroom (!), and then worked over to a single-track which gently undulated for a small section, but then it swooped up extremely steeply, to the point where I walked up it sideways (too narrow to zigzag).  When I got to the top (pretty exhausted now, more than 10 miles to go), I looked back to see someone far behind me just spotting the horrible hill.

From the top, a bit of a turnaround and then somewhat paralleling the outbound trail but more downhill and very overgrown with weeds and plants.  I did get passed by one guy on this section, but it was a relief to see another human being after 40 minutes of run/walking by myself.

Also came across some people looking for the Rolling M Ranch.  I had seen signs for it throughout my run, but didn’t want to direct them in the wrong direction.

After all this descent, I felt like I was just about to the road and the aid station, but alas, another turn, another annoying uphill single-track (not as steep) and back up to the aforementioned mesa with a slightly different return path, down a dirt trail and back to the aid station.  4.5 miserable miles in 80 minutes, but at least now I am on the way back to the end.

Now I head back on the paved road, back down to the dirt road, by a whole bunch of people on horseback, and then finally make the right turn to head back to Four Corners.  Only 3 miles this time, but another 50 minutes (slow-going).

Now a “fun” route over the top of the hill (a section I am familiar with; we went up here for Hwa-Ja’s memorial).  I just keep on soldiering on and cover the 3 miles in 63 minutes, but finally I am back onto the outer road and just have 4 miles (mostly) down to the finish.

It’s pretty excruciating.  Not that I don’t enjoy a good downhill, but my feet are really sore and the ground is just rock hard (and lately, my knees have really been bugging me, so downhill feels horrible).  I do some galloping and skipping to ease the difficulty of the downhill (I am a great galloper!).

A lot of the path looks familiar, but then I turn another corner and I don’t feel much closer.  Then I see the turn for the first uphill section, then I see the paved sections.  Less than a mile now, then the left-hand turn into the parking lot and cross the finish line in 7:50:00.

At the finish, my good friends Linda and Jakob Herrmann are there (volunteering, of course).  I did manage to get the last of the food (pulled pork sandwich) and some soda.

“Just Joggin’ Jan” finished in under 5-1/2 hours, and was the second female.  Alan finished in 6:21 and just left with his family (wife and sons drove out a few miles to see him finish).

I wouldn’t recommend this as a great first 50K but it is a tough local course that makes for a good challenge.  Looking forward to Ridgecrest in a month or so for an easier time.


LA Cancer Challenge 15K – 2017

October 29, 2017

The Cancer Challenge returned to the UCLA campus for the second year in a row.  One year it was randomly in Woodland Hills after the L.A. VA told them they would not hold it after at least 8 years at that location, and I ran at UCLA the first LACC I ran.

Last year, I carpooled and we paid beaucoup bucks for parking.  Since I am driving by myself, I don’t want to pay $15 for parking and I’m going to figure out a cheaper option – I don’t mind walking in a bit.

The other change for this year is that they offered a 15K option.  I have done a 15K option (of sorts) the past few years, because I’ll run the 10K and then the 5K, but this is an actual 15K race (aka 3 loops).

I mapped out where to park and gave myself a lot of extra time to navigate around that area and also to walk in to the race start.  Where I thought I would park was too close to dorms and there was pretty impacted parking and a number of permit signs to prevent parking.

Another 3 blocks away, I found lots of parking in the neighborhood (and no signs!).  It was probably about a 15 minute walk (as compared to the 10 minute walk from the paid parking lot).

The weather is quite a bit better this year (last year, ran in a torrential downpour), but it is a bit chilly.  There is a decent crowd from AREC doing the 15K – Laura, Chuck, john Ellis, Stephanie, and Jessica Centeno (in matching outfits).

My thought is that I want to run a decent first 5K, a slower next 5K, and a horrifically slow third 5K (or just run decently).  It’s certainly not a flat course, with one long uphill in the first mile, and a steep uphill at about 2.5 miles.

First loop – 24:56 (decent first 5K!)

Second loop – 25:56 (slower, but decent)

On my third loop, I stumbled on the speed bump when I got distracted by a driver wanting to drive on the course (but stopped by course monitors).  This caused my inserts to turn completely around (and wrenched my back).  So then I stopped completely to readjust the inserts and Laura passed me.

Third loop – 32:12 (horrifically slow 3rd 5K – but I did trip AND stop to fix my shoes).

Total time was 1:23:27 (way off my best) but good enough for 4th in my division and 46th overall (any time you overall your age, it’s a good day).

On the walk back to my car, I ended up meeting a UCLA alum who placed in his division in the 5K – under 18:00 for the race.  He was either a PT or in training to be so we talked about rehabbing injuries and running, etc.  Helped to pass the time on the walk back to the car.

Twin Peaks 50K (33M) – 2017

October 14, 2017

Back again for another Twin Peaks 50K.  I got a deep discount because I volunteered all day for the Harding Hustle this summer, but I also like to help out as much as I can for this event as well, which means showing up early to help with the set-up, checking in, and all that fun stuff, before I myself go out and strive for a good result.

Laura and Angela show up fairly early, too.  There are a number of starts for this event:  early 50 milers go out at 5:00am, regular 50 milers off at 6:00am, 50 kilometers off at 7:00am, and 30 kilometers, probably off at 8:00am (I’m not sure, because I am always long gone by now.).


There were probably 8 early starters on the 50 miler, and Laura and Angela get special consent to leave with the regular 50 miler crowd.  (Good idea, because it’s supposed to be hot today.)

While I am hanging out, I go to adjust my glasses and pull my hat off, forgetting that my headlamp is still on there.  When it falls to the ground, the plastic casing breaks and the light won’t come on any more.  (Thank goodness I’m not in the 50 miler, because I would really need the light.)  (Afterwards, at home, I try to fix it, but it hit so hard that I can’t remove the batteries and once I am finally able to do so, I have to completely break it.  Time for a new headlamp.)

Tsehay and I leave with the regular group and keep hoping beyond hope that the shadows continue to stay over the course (because once they lift, the heat will increase).

If you read previous posts of this event, you will note that I usually walk the entire first 6.5 miles of this section, because there is just so much climbing.  My goal is usually to do sub 2:05.  This is just a time I came up with that’s mildly faster than 20 minutes per mile, and usually around the range that I usually run.

I strike up a conversation with another guy towards the back.  I think this is his first ultramarathon (why’d ya pick such a hard one?) and he says that he does not like uphills… but he will definitely catch me on the downhills… a downhill specialist, he says.  I will keep an eye out for him passing me.

I would like to break 2 hours, but that has yet to happen.  2:03 makes me pretty happy, and when I get to the top, Tsehay is there.  She runs some of the uphill, but she loses a bunch of time at the aid stations, so that’s where I can catch her.

Now over to West Horsethief, which is indicated as fairly flat, but is really about a thousand feet up and down, the up section being very technical (loose gravel or tephra surface).  Four miles, one hour, and I don’t sprain my ankle!

Down West Horsethief is the section I do not like, very technical, makes me nervous.  I set out ahead of Tsehay (gabbing at the aid station) and get through the “easy” part of the trail, though some of it has washed out, making for a precipitous downhill section early on.  (Some runners slide on their butt.)

I just try and maintain a smooth descent and not trip and not bang my head (do both of those several times but moderately).  A number of folks pass me by as downhill isn’t my thing.

By the time Horsethief connects with the trail at the bottom, the sun has really come out and upped the heat, and even when I have a whole fire-trail to myself, I am just modified race walking, moving forward.  4.2 miles, 1:24… an even slower pace than that last extreme uphill/downhill section.

Now onto the dreaded Holy Jim (or Holy! expletive!).  This sucks.

My one advantage this year is that I am so familiar with this trail that I know how many turns, I recognize “checkpoints,” and so I can manage my pace more comfortably.

I may have talked about the dual water bottle situation in the past, where I always carry two, but rarely use both.  One is usually totally full the whole time… but not always.  I have been able to milk one water bottle for an eight-mile section (I guess that means two bottles will get me through 16?), but today?  Too hot for that.

I do end up going through both water bottles in this 4.5 mile section.  I am hoping that the “unmanned” water station will still be here.  Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t, but I could certainly use a refill before the 3 miles to the top.

When I get up to the road, it is water station-mageddon.  There are/were cases and cases of gallon jugs (you know, the boxes with 6 one-gallon jugs inside?).  I have a spare Nuun tablet in one of my water bottle pouches and I drop this into one of the unopened gallon jugs.  I use it to refill both of my water bottles.

Then, I grab one of the bottles that is probably 1/4 full and down the whole thing.  Then I find a completely full box and sit down on it (ahhh) and find another partially filled bottle and drink that.  I was probably there 20 minutes and drank AT LEAST one gallon of water. I must’ve been pretty pretty dehydrated. 2 hours and 16 minutes to this point.  I am excited about doing 20 minute miles on this section (especially when my personal worst one year was 45 minutes per mile).

Tsehay catches up to me here and we set off on the long slog (3 miles, 1600′ climbing) to the summit of Santiago Peak.  It is steep at the beginning, but when it levels off, we are into the sun and out of the shade.  Just keep moving forward is what’s important.  We stay together for a bit but I am a little faster on the uphills.

The first 1.5 miles takes 46 minutes and then onto the steeper section (and more technical) for another 51 minutes.  When I get to the top, a couple of the leaders in the 50 miler are coming up for their second summit (somewhat sad realizing that I am going to run 20 fewer miles and slower than these guys).

I open up my drop bag (in which I have stored spare Nuun, duct tape, and a ice-cold beer).  I have been looking forward to this cold beer for miles now, but don’t hold out a lot of hope that it will still be cold 8 hours later.  Sure enough, it’s warm to the touch.  I have a bottle opener in my water bottle pocket (just useful to have and doesn’t take up much space).

It’s pretty foamy when I open it (maybe the elevation?) and the beer is extremely hot – not room temperature hot, but hot soup hot!  Nevertheless, I am going to drink this well-earned beer.  Neither Angela nor Tsehay are particularly interested.

Time to head down.  I have about 10.5 miles to go, and pretty confident that I am not going to cover the distance in under an hour, so not going to break my PR on this course.  It’s 90% downhill from here, though a lot of it is technical, so it won’t be fast going.  I am also mindful of the “downhill specialist” overtaking me, so I am not going to pussyfoot it.

I take the initial 1.5 miles (to the “parking lot”) easily.  The “downhill specialist” is still on his way up, so I can use this opportunity to stay ahead.  It takes me about half the time (but this does include my beer stop) in 27 minutes.

Now to head down Upper Holy Jim.  This section has its pluses and minuses.  What I like about the trail is that it’s mostly single track and not terribly technical.  What I don’t like is the sections where I have to bend in half to get through, the couple of gravely downhill hairpins, and the “quarter-track” sections where I have to walk single-file, because I cannot fit both feet on the path (my balance isn’t THAT great).  But what I also like is that this covers essentially the same distance as the uphill from (regular) Holy Jim to the “parking lot” and this is WA-A-A-Y easier – 25 minutes versus 46 minutes.

Once I reach the Main Divide (and the radio folks, there’s a little over a mile to get to the top of Indian Truck Trail and the 6.5 miles downhill to the finish.  It’s rolling hills.  I struggle on the ups and shuffle on the downs (’cause my feet hurt now) and it takes me about 20 minutes.  Tsehay is there and chatting and just about to take off for the last stretch.  (She’s the “real” downhill specialist and my only chance to beat her is to leave her chatting there.)

The last stretch isn’t purely downhill (a half-mile uphill stretch about a mile out) but it is pretty endless.  I run when I feel OK and I walk briskly the rest of the time.

The whole way down I spot these carved out hearts in the middle of the road (with a stick, presumably).  I want to preserve for whoever these were carved for, but most encompass the entire fire-road and I’m not going to run off a cliff for something so fleeting (more on this later).

I manage to cross the finish line in 11:16:39, less than 10 minutes behind Tsehay and about 3 hours behind Laura (started early AND beat me by an hour).  Angela’s not far behind us, though she did have that hour head-start.  And the “downhill specialist?”  He finished about 15 minutes behind me, but he said that all he thought about was catching me.  Well, this “uphill specialist” beat ya!


After I get myself rehydrated and fed, I continue to help out with finishers and with packing stuff up.

As it gets dark, there is some concern about the final straggler in the 50 miler.  His wife has been pacing back and forth at the finish line (she ran the 30K and carved out all those road messages) wondering why he hasn’t finished yet.  It’s the usual, “But he left the last aid station 2 hours ago.”  I can tell you that when I did the 50 miler, it was a haul when you are so tired and even harder in the dark.

When the time limit came and went, we packed up most of everything just to be prepared, but left the finish line up (and the timing’s just on computers).  Suddenly, we spot a headlamp bobbing down the trail – the final finisher.  (Unlike some races, here if the RD lets you continue, you get a finish and a time, even if you are over the limit.)

His wife was beside herself, but couldn’t help asking him if he saw all her little love messages.  His answer, “Nope.  It was pitch black out there and it was all I could do to stay on the road.”

2017 marks 5 total Twin Peaks finishes for me (4 50Ks, 1 50M) and I can still say that this race, this trail, this wilderness is still a total challenge for me.  I would recommend any trail enthusiast to try it but not expect to run your best.

Boeing 5K (8) – 2017

October 9, 2017

My last race was Boeing last month, so I have had a little time to recover from my 50 miler.

It is an interesting day, because there is a major fire about 25 miles away, and there is resultant ash and something weird going on with the tide.

For the first half, it is extremely windy and flakes of paper and ash are floating down, but it is pretty intermittent, not enough to have to cover my face with a Buff.

Then, when I get to the section under PCH, there is a considerable amount of water on the path… not flooded, but enough to splash when I go through.  You can sort of edge around it, but not worth it to veer onto the rocks to avoid splashing.  12:30 to the turnaround.

On the way back, less wind (so probably at my rear).  On the return trip, there is even more water and not a simple splash but enough to spill into my shoes and have wet feet the rest of the way.  Some of the outbound folks are trying to go around it, but as I said before, not worth it.

I finished in 24:34 but Kevin McKee came sprinting right by me at the end.  Partially, it was lack of motivation and partially, Kevin is a really good runner.  The non-Boeing boys finished 3, 4, and 5, so a pretty small crowd.

Afterwards, I ventured back down the course to find and usher Nelson in.  He had not “run” in several months due to age and an injury, so is taking it extra careful.  Usually, I meet up with him around the bridge after we get back onto 2nd Street, but he was well into the bike path and a bit banged up and wet.

He, like many others, made the ill-advised climb onto the (cement) rocks under the bridge to avoid the water, but Nelson took it a step further and lost his balance and fell into the water, landing rather hard on his side. (His car key was in his pocket and got so bent it wouldn’t fit into the ignition, but a Boeing engineer happened by with pliers and bent it back to an acceptable shape.)  Glad to have gotten you back safely.

Boeing 5K (7) – 2017

September 11, 2017

Ironically, 16 years ago today, I was working at Boeing in I.P. on a temp job and had no idea what transpired in NYC until I got to work.  I certainly wasn’t the Boeing 5K “Ironman” I am today.

Since I have just completed a 50 mile race this weekend, I am not in any particular shape to be competitive in a 5K… just to finish another one and keep my streak alive.

I brought a book with me, figuring there wouldn’t be anyone moving at my particular pace.  I managed 26:20 out and 24:00 back (tailwind).