Tag Archives: Dulce

High Desert 50K – 2016

December 4, 2016

Angela and I drove up to Ridgecrest yesterday.  We made arrangements again with Darrell and Megan to stay at their place which is only about a mile from the start.  Laura, Dulce, and Stephanie are coming up, too, but I felt bad that we couldn’t offer them a place to stay (we just need to ask Darrell and Megan ahead of time or offer something nice).  They are in a different house than last year, but it is in the same housing tract.

We did all meet to eat together, though, which was nice.  It’s particularly cold here, so that seems to bode well that it should be colder for the race.

At the start, I have a special gift for my friend Ethan.  I cut out a laminated “5” for him to pin on, since today is his 5th Ridgecrest High Desert 50K and will get the special pullover when he finishes.

Also present Ethan’s wife, a few other hashers, and Sandy Binder (whose husband runs ultras, but I haven’t known her to do so).  I jokingly ask Sandy if she is running to win, and she enigmatically says, “Maybe.

My goals today are to try and push it harder on the flat and downhill sections and not walk as much on the uphill sections (but listen to my body).

I start by running a little bit more on the initial paved hill and up into the rolling hills section.  Once you get to this part, it tends downhill so there isn’t a reason to walk as much.  At the first aid station (soon after which the 30K and 50K part ways), I manage 50:44, a 9:12 pace.  (Extrapolating out, 9:12/mile for 31 miles would be an hour PR on the distance!)

Once the 30K diverges, there is a long section of a slight uphill.  I have had the tendency to walk all of this, so I force myself to run stretches of it.  (Note:  Forcing myself to run and running slowly are different.  Here, I am pushing the pace and not running uphill slower than I can walk.)

I go a little slower on this section, a 9:48/mile pace, but still maintain an overall sub 10:00/mile pace (5:10 still would be a big PR, but it’s way early.)

The next 2.5 miles go up a considerably longer hill, which is also more technical and it’s not practical to run much of this at all, but once I get to the top of the hill, I can start jogging/running again.  This aid station is the famous “We Love the 49ers and Christmas” aid station, except no one is wearing Niners garb.  I ask if it is because they are so bad this year, and a gal surreptitiously whispers, “Yes.”  My pace in this section is 14:00/mile (a brisk walk) and drops my overall pace to 10:27/mile (In order to PR, I would need to average 11 and change.)

Now a mostly downhill, but dense dirt section for two-and-a-half miles and I maintain the 10-and-change pace.  I have been going back and forth with a lot of the same people.  I haven’t seen Angela yet (she started early, but I am hoping not to catch her until the end, if at all) and Darrell is behind me.  I saw Laura at the beginning, but I assume she is still behind and I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Ethan or Sandy (who is MAYBE in front).

The one gal that I strike up a nice conversation with is Karin Usko, who used to live in El Salvador, but she is also German, so we can speak in Spanish, English, AND German (my first three languages).  She is local to Ridgecrest and I later learn that she makes Happy Gaiters.  (I also ran really briefly with Shannon Farar-Griefer, who is the founder of the Moeben sleeves (named after her sons).)

On now to another 3-odd miles with a mostly uphill bent.  I’m not running as much on these sections.  Feeling like I will not run a PR, but I would like to at least run a comparable 50K (to Cool rather than Twin Peaks), something in the sub-6:30 range.  This is another 14:00/mile section, ballooning my average to 11:12/mile.

Leading into the penultimate aid station at Gracie’s Mansion, where I have my first half beer, the sections seem to swing between generally uphill section, or generally downhill section and I am either doing about 11-12 minutes per mile OR 15-16 minutes per mile, but at least I am keeping my overall average under 12 minutes (which equals 6:24).  I would be happy to finish with that average.

From Gracie’s to Last Gasp is 3.7 miles, with mostly downhill.  I start to press the pace again, because it IS downhill and I can run downhills (when I am not cramping… and I’m not cramping).  Former race director Christopher Rios is there and I get my second beer, though I cannot hang out there too long.  I have pulled my interim pace to 11:06 and brought my overall average down six seconds, ending an inexorable slide to worse and worse times.

If I can finish the last 1.7 miles in 15 minutes (doable, but tough at this point), I would break 6 hours for the first time in over 10 years.

Alas, it is not to be.  I finished in 6:05:14, which is my best time in 12 years, so that’s pretty awesome.  Someone mentions that I should utilize Age Grade to compare this time with my best here (5:47:06) back in 2004.  Age Grade is a comparison tool that figures out what your equivalent time is if compared to the ideal age (which I think is 25).

So, if you run a 5:47 50K at age 34, it is like running a 5:44 50K at 25 (since your ability probably doesn’t drop off that much from 25 to 34).  But, if you run a 6:05 at age 45, the Age Grade equivalent is 5:43.  So in essence, given that I have aged, my High Desert 50K is my best ever (just not my PR).  Pretty remarkable that I did so well in a year when I fractured my elbow.

Angela came in about an hour after I did (2 hours, technically), Ethan got his 5-run pullover, and Sandy did not win the race… she was the second female, though.

Ekiden 10M Relay – 2016

May 22, 2016

Once again, fun participation in the Snail’s Pace Ekiden Relay.

Refresher on how it works:  blind drawing for teams and for distances (i.e. if there are 5 teams, the first 5 names drawn run 1 mile, the next 5 run 2 miles, etc.).

I have never been drawn on one mile, and only once on two miles (though I asked to switch one year when I had to be somewhere).  I always seem to get 3 or 4 miles (which is fine), and your teammates expect you to “deliver.”

So, I ended up getting picked for 4 miles (of course).  My team had a FAST miler, and then a guy who professed to be “not that fast,” and was also my age (but I thought looked much older, who knows?), then my buddy Dulce Barton (fellow AREC runner) and myself.

The 2-mile guy seemed pretty gung ho about our chances, but I felt like we were really in it just to have fun (especially because Dulce is no speed demon and I gave myself low expectations given my arm issues (still only 6 weeks ago)).

Runners 1 and 2 put us into a good position, and then Dulce gave most of it up (this isn’t a criticism of Dulce’s running; this is reality that a 25 year-old man usually runs faster than a 6o year-old female), and then my team looks to me to regain our places.

Ha ha, right.  When I get to the section with the steep uphill on the street, I maneuver around the telephone pole, so I am somewhat hidden and can power-walk up the hill.  Runner 2 is shouting at me (sort of encouragingly, sort of in despair), but once I turn the corner, then I can go at whatever pace is comfortable.

To me, it is abundantly clear that I am not going to overtake any of the runners ahead of me, and probably, I will be passed by some teams that started pretty close to me (faster or younger runners).  We ended up being the 4th fastest team of 10 and I ran my four miles in 37:12, which is pretty good, considering.

Anyway, this was more about camaraderie and the giveaways, and I ended up with a Team-in-Training t-shirt, two women’s unmentionables-washing bags, and a DVD of an old movie.

Bun Run 3M – 2015

August 29, 2015

A few disasters leading up to this race.

My training for Twin Peaks 50M continues and I have had some balance issues with the Hokas on technical trail runs.

Lauren Miertschin and I went out about 2 weeks prior about to do a loop up and down West Horsethief, a trail that has a steady climb for about 2 miles, then a 15% climb over the next 2 miles.

On my way down, my feet went out under me and I went down pretty hard.  I managed to hold on to my water bottles, but my thumbs and pinkies hyperextended.  I may have sprained them…

But the real problem was 4 days later, when Angela and I went for a really early (4:45am) planned 28 mile trail practice.

Everything seemed to be OK, and then about 3 miles in, the soles of Angela’s shoes began unraveling.  So, she stopped and turned around and we planned to meet on the opposite side of the course.  I continued on to the top of Santiago Peak.  It was wonderful… no one out there whatsoever.  No bikers and few hikers (it WAS a Monday morning).

I went over along the Main Divide and headed towards the top of West Horsethief when I heard a sickening crack.  I thought I might have broken my ankle.  It hurt really bad.  I sat down for about 20 minutes, freaking out, trying to staunch the flow of adrenaline and calm down.

Since I had not seen a soul for about 20 minutes, I figured I had to get back down on my own (about 6 miles to the car) and hopefully I would run into Angela and she could help me cover the final distance to the car.

I thought I might have to crawl, but ended up being able to put a little bit of weight on my foot.  I refilled my Camelbak from the secret supply zone at the top of the trail and limped really slowly down the hill.  No sign of Angela yet.

Finally, I got down the 12 steep switchbacks and back onto the Holy Jim Road.  I spotted a roll of duct tape (what Angela was going to tape her shoes up with), so I hoped that she hadn’t gotten lost.

About a half mile out from the car, we finally connected.  She couldn’t find the trail, so she wandered around for a while.

In the car, I propped my foot up on the cooler and we filled a bag with ice to keep the swelling down.  My ankle was the size of a softball.

When I got back home, I called the advice nurse at Kaiser, and then spent a good hour on the phone trying to figure out my best bet to get an appointment.  My options were either going to Rosemead at 5pm and then waiting 2-3 hours to get in, or go to Harbor City and get in as soon as they determined my level of need.

I opted for Harbor City, because I would be in at least 3 hours earlier, or so I hoped.  It was a bit of an awkward drive, because of course, it is my right, or driving foot.  I took it really easy.  After about a 3 hour wait, I got in to see the doctor.  She sent me for an x-ray, and fortunately, it was not broken.  But, it was what they called a Grade 2 Sprain.  I think that the side of my foot folded over.  Doctor said it might take 6-8 months to heal totally and that I should take it really easy.

Dulce loaned me some RocTape, but I ended up buying some KT Tape and also finding my old ankle brace.

For 4 days, I tried to stay off my foot entirely, ice it, and keep it elevated, but I was also pretty desperate to test my ankle out and see what I could handle.

So, Saturday is the Bun Run, and worst comes to worst, I have to bail in the middle of it.  I found a book to read and figured I would just walk it comfortably.

It seemed to be OK on the flats, but on the up- or down-hill sections, I could feel some tension.  In the latter stretches, I was able to pass a few people, too.  I didn’t come in last, but it was a good 44 minutes.

For the few days after the incident, I worried that I might have a long recovery.  Now I am more confident that I may still able to do Twin Peaks in 2-1/2 months.

High Desert 50K – 2014

December 7, 2014

For several years, I have been encouraging a few of my AREC friends that they certainly could do a trail 50K race… and always I hear of interest in doing so.  However, it is much like posting an event on Facebook… people like it, seem interested, say they are going, but few actually show up.  I was hearing redoubled interest, but I wouldn’t actually believe it unless I actually saw them AT the race.

Eric Villalobostold me that he signed up for the race (but ended up not going because of a hip problem).  I had heard that Jesus Rodriguez (who had run it in 2013) would be going… though he tends to be one of those gung-ho, sign-up for everything types.

A couple of gals who had interest did a “see if we would be fast enough” test run at El Moro at the beginning of November in light rain. Maria Robinson, Stephanie Harris, and Dulce Barton joined me.  I said that we would do a 9.5 mile loop… and if we could get under 3 hours, then they could do 31 miles in 10 hours. (It doesn’t divide precisely evenly, but THIS 9.5 miles is WAY worse than anything that you find in Ridgecrest.)  This was a tall order on this particular day, especially because of the mud and hills, but it could be a confidence builder IF they made it out to Ridgecrest.

Despite the mud (and stopping to take pictures of several full rainbows and double rainbows), we finished in around 2:55.  The cheap entry deadline was a few days later, and Dulce and Stephanie both signed up (plus Angela Holder, who did not make the test run with us).

The following week, Stephanie and I ventured into the Open Space Preserve and took the wrong (up) hill back… but, in the spirit of “there is no bad training,” she took it in stride saying that it will just give her more confidence with hills.

As the date loomed closer, I had still not made my plans to drive out.  Eric wasn’t sure of when he would drive out and Laura was not going to go at all.  I thought I might do what I did about 10 years ago which is drive out, and then sleep in my car at the start.  However, I contacted Stephanie to see what her plans were (and offered to sleep on the floor of the hotel room) and the other gals were OK with me driving up with and staying with them.

Meanwhile, I was having some problems – TMI alert!!!

I was very constipated, to the point at which I could not sit down without pain.  I thought maybe it might be hemorrhoids.  The sitting pain was so much that I walked to and from the doctor’s office (2 miles each way) to avoid sitting.  The diagnosis was two hemorrhoids (one internal, one external) and perhaps an anal fissure.  The recommendation to fix the issue was an extremely high fiber diet AND exercise (though I am certain that probably didn’t mean 7 hours of exercise in one go).

I took medicine and had creams to apply, but the problem did not get much better.  (At press time, I am awaiting a surgical consult and I have been dealing with this issue upward of two months.)

END of TMI section!!

On Saturday morning (December 6), the three ladies and I met at Stephanie’s house to consolidate into Angela’s car for the drive up to Ridgecrest.  We left in the early afternoon to accommodate Dulce, who was running the Venice Marina Xmas 5K AND 10K!  (Is 50K not enough?)

My special gift to the ladies were personalized laminated pace sheets.  Since none of them had ever done this distance before, I gave each two goals – the first was to finish and the second was a faster goal, which I based upon their worst-marathon-time-plus-one-hour pace (since trails slow you down a bit).  On the back, I had something inspirational for each of them (Stephanie and her kids, Dulce and her mother, and Angela (who I don’t know well enough to pull the right photo from her Facebook)’s picture of the giant yellow rubber ducky.).  For myself, I had a picture of my two little sisters (dressed in the work outfits of each other).

The drive went pretty well (save some traffic from LAX to the Hwy. 5/Hwy. 14 intersection).  I had mapped out where we might go for dinner (this place we went to a couple of different times that served Peanut Butter pizza (not as gross as it sounds)), if not at the check-in location.  (In the past, the food looked kind of crappy, which is why we went elsewhere.)

We arrived before the packet pick-up time, so we checked into the hotel.  Angela had e-mailed us earlier in the week to tell us that we were so close to the start, we could just jump out of bed and walk to the start line.  Since I had run the race 4 times before (most recently in 2012), I didn’t remember there being any hotels within 4 miles of the start.  Turns out, our hotel, was within walking distance of the packet pick-up location.  (I guess within walking distance of the start, but no one wants to walk 4-5 miles leading up to a 50K…)

A little before 6, we headed over to St. Ann’s Parish to pick up our packets.  They were efficient and the shirts were really nice.  We decided to stay and have the $8 spaghetti dinner (because it looked OK this year). A bunch of my (older) hash friends were there, including Chris Spenker.

Suddenly, Jesus showed up and “forced” most of the people in the room to pose with their numbers.  Anyway… after dinner, the ladies took a look at some of the old race shirts on sale.  While I don’t need any more shirts, it was a pretty good deal for a first-time participant. (Cotton long-sleeved shirts are nice if it is cold and you want to toss the shirt away at some point.)

We went back to the hotel and got ready for the next day.  Lights were out at 9pm (so EARLY for me).  The race starts at 7am (6am early start), but I don’t think I’ve ever slept 9 hours the night before a race (especially when I am antsy).  I did end up lying in the dark and staring into space for a few hours.  The highlight of the night was each of the three ladies waking up around 2am in succession and using the bathroom.

I woke up earlier than I needed to (except that I had to drive to the early start with them anyway), so I could use the bathroom.  I usually try to evacuate my bowels completely, but with the issues, I didn’t want to have pain all day, so I let nature take its course, applied my Lidocaine ointment, and took two Advil.  My plan was also to carry the tube of Lidocaine with me, if the pain got really bad.

It was pretty cold at the start (but not the 32 degrees in past years, maybe 40s), so I stayed inside and chatted with friends for the hour preceding the regular start.  Angela, Stephanie, Dulce, Jesus and some others left at 6am, to give themselves every opportunity to finish (Jesus should have no problem, but he was pacing a newbie himself).

I chatted with some folks I knew from other ultras, plus a hash couple that ran here last year.  I tried to find a comfortable sitting position, but that didn’t really exist.

A little after 7, we headed off into the cold.  I ran on the flats and downhills and walked the uphills.  My friend Ethan passed me early, saying I would catch him momentarily (but I didn’t think I would).  I also saw Yen Darcy… figured we would be near each other most of the race.  She gave me a little grief for going so fast, but I said I would lose it on the uphills.  I had a good pace to the first aid station at Mile 5.5, in a 10:43 pace.  (Much of this is on paved road, so that helps with the pace.)

I maintained an even pace through the second aid station at Mile 8.5.  I kept hoping that I would not catch up to the ladies soon, because that would mean that they were well ahead of the pace needed to finish.h

However, when I got to the Mile 11.0 aid station, I got there at the same time as the ladies did.  I had said that at one point, I would run with them if I caught them with about 10 miles to go.  This was a little too early for me to drop my pace, but I calculated that they were still on par to go under 9 hours (and they had 10).  Stephanie and Dulce were together and Angela (with her tights that looked like blue jeans) was a few minutes ahead of them.  They seemed happy and were having fun (which is important, especially early on).  I ran and walked with Angela for a few minutes before continuing on.

This section is fairly short (only 2.6M) and mostly flat.  Of course, when I say flat, this does not include the washboard aspect of the trail.  Mountain bikers would (and probably do) like this section, because they could do lots of little jumps.  Although cool, it gets to be quite annoying because I cannot put on any kind of speed, unless I go a bit off trail to lessen the effect of all those dips. In the distance, I can see an occasional car split the landscape.  The aid station is just before the road crossing, and the moguls end at this point, too.  Because of the flat nature, I am still maintaining a nice pace (11:32/mile).

I refill my water bottles, grab some PB&J and chips and do not waste much time.  I had been running and talking with a couple of ladies – Madonna and Clancy, but on the washboard moguls, Madonna and Clancy had surged ahead of me.  While I have no aversion to getting “chicked,” I didn’t want to waste time just hanging around.

From here, I can see the hills coming up.  I know “my ladies” will be a little annoyed with me, since I termed this race as “flat.”  Just a note on the amount of climbing and difficulty of courses:  Ultra Magazine has a scale, both for amount of climbing and for difficulty of surface.  If a race is flat and paved, then the climbing rating = 1, and the technical rating = 1.  If the elevation gain exceeds, say, 10%, then the climbing rating would probably be a 5, and if the surface is full of rocks and not that runnable, then the technical value would also be rated a 5.  The High Desert 50K is rated at 2,2… so I also rate it as “flat.”

There is some cruelty to this section as well.  Clancy (who I caught up to again) and I head straight out on the trail, but when the trail itself veers right (where we can see runners going uphill in the distance), we stay straight to add a little distance (running the two sides of the triangle, rather than the hypotenuse).  At least it is flat to this point.

Now the longer hill begins.  I have found, today, that when I am running, my rear-end problem is less annoying, but when I am walking, it irritates me severely.  So… as I am climbing this hill, I am walking in a manner that is similar to running, hoping that it will lessen the issue.  When that fails, I look a ridiculous sight, punching myself in the ass… but hey, it makes it feel better… and there are not a lot of people out here anyway.

It is a long slog to the top of the hill… at least it is not windy, as it was two years ago, swirling dirt all the way up.  At the top, a turn to the right along the ridge and then some downhill into the Mile 16.9 aid station… which is decorated for Christmas.  Because of the hill, my pace slowed to 19 minutes per mile (not bad for uphill).

Now I have 3.7 miles with a general flat to downhill slant.  I just keep on maintaining until I reach the aid station.  I am back to my around 12 minutes/mile pace.  About a half mile out from the AS, I start seeing a plethora of stuffed animals (Snoopy, Bananas in Pajamas, etc.).  The 3′ long cougar made me jump a little, though.  (The aid station volunteer said next year he would put in a speaker and roar at people.)  When I get to the aid station, Jesus is there, along with the gal he is pacing. I am almost out of the aid station, when Jesus wants me to take pictures with him, so I have to stop, turn around, and get some pictures.  If it had been just a quick stop, that’s one thing, but it was about getting the light just right, making sure I’m in the frame, etc.  I’m up for mega-pictures at the end, but not wasting a lot of time on the course.

Out of this aid station, it’s an immediate turn uphill (nothing steep, as is the case on this course), and then once I get to the top, it’s a bunch of downhill and then mostly flat to the next aid station. I end up striking up a conversation with Darrell, a pretty beefy guy doing his first ultra.  He and his fiancee split their time between Long Beach and Ridgecrest, so maybe he will run with us at AREC when he is in (our) town.  He struggles on the downhill because he recently injured his leg.

So, now into Gracie’s Mansion aid station, where they are blasting music.  This is a few tenths short of a marathon.  My overall pace is right around 13 minutes per mile.  My “A” goal is 13 minutes per mile, but I will be happy with a time under 7 hours, since it would be my fastest 50K this year.  On the other hand, I am out here enjoying myself and so I get a cupful of beer…and I am not really worrying about my time.

Now there is about 3.7 miles to the last aid station… Last Gasp.  Flash back to last night and a conversation I had with former RD Chris Rios.  He promised me that he would have a beer for me here… so I was looking forward to it.  En route, Darrell took off.  I ran a bit with Clancy before she took off as well.  I ended up having another cup of beer (a Newcastle blonde) and a quick (maybe slightly drunk) conversation with Chris.

From here to the end, it’s a run around the school and a run around the parking lot.  For the first mile of the mile-and-a-half, I ran/walked with a heavily tattooed pierced dude, who had broken his foot a few weeks earlier.  (Tough people, these ultra folks.)

For the last half mile, which is downhill on paved and then a circling of the parking lot, I probably ran at a 8:00-9:00 / mile pace and finished in 6:48.

After finishing, I saw several of my friends finish; Yen was just a few minutes behind me. I also saw a few people that I didn’t even know were there (like Jakob Herrmann – we became so much closer friends after working the SB100 event).

The timing was particularly good because the award ceremony was at 2pm, not long after I finished.  I was able to get a piece of pizza and a soda and find out if I won a door prize (NEW Gaiters!!!) and then go in and hear how fast the leaders were.  Madonna got third place in her age group.

After the awards were handed out, they gave out participation awards for people who had completed 5 or 10 Ridgecrest events.  10-time finishers got a jacket and 5-time finishers got a zip-up collar sweatshirt.  Eleven years after my first High Desert 50K, I completed my 5th event.  It is a really nice giveaway.

Now for the ladies… based upon their pace at Mile 11, I figured they would be pretty close to 9 hours.  At about 7:40 on the finish clock (or 8:40 on the early clock), I headed out backwards on the course to find the ladies and run them in.  I had every confidence that they would finish under 10 hours, but would love them to finish under 9 hours.

I only got to about a half mile out, when… Stephanie appeared.  This was somewhat surprising given that she and Dulce were a bit back of Angela at Mile 11 (and Angela has the faster marathon time)… but more probably, they stayed together all day and then whoever was feeling it at the end took off.

Stephanie was in a state of euphoria; what I LO-OVE seeing at the end of a race.  She handed me her phone so I could go directly to the finish line and snap her photo… but en route, it somehow switched to video, so I videoed her finishing.

Two minutes later, Angela finished, and 90-seconds after that, Dulce finished.  8:51, 8:53 and 8:55, respectively. I was so proud.

The best part was that they genuinely had a good time and maybe wanted to do another.  All of the initial worries – no port-a-potties, getting lost, not finishing in time – never materialized.  (Technically, there WERE no port-a-potties, but a big rock and some T.P. was close enough.)

This was my 70th ultramarathon and I had a great time, and the gals I introduced to the sport of ultramarathoning had a great time, too.

Browne-Rice Kayak Run Relay – 2014

July 12, 2014

Another “final” year of the Browne-Rice Kayak (1M) Run (5K) Relay.

Last year, I got a ringer teammate (Mark Vishnevsky) only to discover that we could not establish a big enough lead with either of our kayaking skills to figure in the final results.

So… this year, I wanted someone who might enjoy the event as a first timer, since the event is about having fun (though there are always the same teams that win… in a fun way).  So, I invited my friend Dulce to participate with me.  She was concerned that we might come in last, but I said that even if we do so, that’s OK with me.

Enrica, Dulce and me before the start.

Enrica, Dulce and me before the start.

I let Dulce go first on the Kayak leg because as a newbie, she wouldn’t know the course that well, but she could follow people, whereas, if she kayaked second, she would probably be on her own… and having done the course at least 10 times, I have a better idea of the course.

She had a decent kayak (didn’t finish last) and then handed off to me for the run.  It must be a high tide time of year because there was a huge berm and not a lot of hard-packed sand to run on.  I did my best with the amount I had and hoped that I wouldn’t lose too much time in the loose sand.

I passed a few folks whose partners had better opening kayak legs, but was still far behind the really fast folks. After 24:55 (right around 8:00/mile, including SAND) of running, I handed off to Dulce and she ran a nice comfortable time and didn’t give up any of our “lead.”

While I was waiting for her, Jackie Davis came in and said that she had “gotten” lost.  I was incredulous because, well, there isn’t anywhere to get lost.  What had happened is that she tried to short-cut to the beach path, but ended up in the yacht club parking lot behind the gate and couldn’t get out.  Later, her partner did the exact same thing!

Finally, Dulce handed off to me on the kayak leg.  I left about the same time as another kayaker, but I am a terrible kayakist.  Part of the problem is that I am too big for the conveyance and cannot get any leverage.  Too boot, the back support kept slipping, so I appeared as if I was practically lying down and lazily paddling.

"Laid-back" paddling.

“Laid-back” paddling.

I ended up with the second worst paddle time (surprise, surprise), and we finished 3rd to last… but who cares?  We had a great time.  The prizes (which mostly went to the same 5 or 6 people) were Runners High pint glasses.  Then they did a drawing for two sets of free shoes at Runners High.  Each person had one entry, plus an additional entry if they volunteered to paddle one of the 18 kayaks to the start.  Despite only having one entry, I won one of the pairs of shoes!!

LASAA West Hollywood 10K – 2010

December 11, 2010

After a week of recovery from my DNF at Northface, I agreed to go and do the LA Sheriff’s Mug Run 10K in West Hollywood.  This is a no-brainer… even if I have to walk, because the course is totally worth it.  A bunch of us carpooled up, because it is a bit of a long haul to get there (not that near freeways, limited parking, etc.).

All of us were doing the 10K (even Ed, even Kathy) because the 5K course doesn’t do that much, but the 10K  runs along the most scenic part of Sunset Boulevard… with police escort.

The first couple of miles are fairly flat and through a neighborhood setting, then it turns to the left and begins heading up a relentless (though not in the ultra sense) consistent uphill to get to Sunset Boulevard.  Because I am not really recovered from the race (even though I didn’t finish, I did do 10 hours for 37 miles of trails), I opt to walk up the hills because I cannot get any speed running or breathe normally.

Sunset Boulevard itself is not particularly flat, but doesn’t really have any sort of hill until the very end of the race (I walk that, too.) and then you turn left to head back down the (relentless) hill to the finish.  While I am not really fond of steep downhills, this is such that you can just let gravity take its course, and I just take big loping steps down the hill, pass a couple of people and finish in 51:50 (not bad, considering).

After I regroup and cheer Ed in, I decide to hike back up the hill and find out where Kathy has gotten to (10Ks are not really her thing, but we convinced her to do THIS one).  She is coming up to the last uphill on Sunset, so I run/walk in with her to the finish.  I bet she REALLY likes the downhill (and she appreciate having some company for the last half-mile).

Everyone (except for me) manages at least 2nd place or better in their age divisions.  Kathy’s birthday was yesterday, so she is in a different age group than her (friend and) competitor Dulce for a fortnight or so.  That’s pretty cool.

After the awards (which are held once again at the gay bar The Abbey), they give out a bunch of raffle prizes.  They are always pretty good prizes, like tickets to NHL games AND parking.  I win a Mr. Coffee (ironic, because I don’t drink coffee, but I can give to my parents, whose coffee machine recently broke after many years).

LA Cancer Challenge 10K – 2010

October 31, 2010

Ever since my friend Heather Stevens was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, I have made it a priority to run this event and to get others to run this event, too.  However, because it hits on a Sunday in the fall, the tradition is that the Long Beach Hash has their Halloween run on the same day and people don’t like to do the long drive and do both (but I’ll do it).  Back when Heather was still alive, we made a concerted effort to either have the hash be closer to West L.A. or have a late start.  Since I am the Trailmaster for the Long Beach Hash, I worked it out to have the start be around 2 miles away from the Los Angeles VA (where the race takes place).

Leading up to the race, I have not had a good time of it… my back has been hurting and maybe I tried to come back too soon from the trying No. Cal. 50 miler.

The LACC course is a 5K loop, with an uphill (but gentle) slope for the first half mile, then a roaring downhill (with a few dipsy-doodles) to the Wilshire Blvd. undercrossing.  When you emerge from the tunnel, there is a mile-long loop around the hospital end of the VA.  It is a gentle downhill for the first half and a gentle (read: annoying) uphill for the second half.  Then you recross under Wilshire, head uphill for about a block, and then a quarter-mile flat dash to complete the loop.  The 10K is two loops.

On the first loop, I feel OK… or at least I think I feel OK.  I run the initial uphill, but I have to walk a bit on the subsequent uphill sections around Mile 2.  My first loop is a respectable 23 minutes and change.

On the second loop, I walk the entire beginning hill, and every subsequent hill, and I feel terrible, and my back hurts a lot (so best not to run the hills).  My second loop is around 28 minutes.

While 51 minutes is a decent time (about 8:30/mile), I am disappointed that 3 weeks after my race, I am performing sub-par.

After the race, I head over to the hash.  Since it is Halloween, I am hoping it is the usual short trail, with numerous beer stops… but it turns out to be the complete opposite.  There are no stops (not even for water) and the trail is 9.79 miles long.  I think a lot of people turned around early because they were wearing costumes!

I walked most of the way with Dulce Barton (who had also run the 10K) and Chris “Undercover” Spenker.  What is notable about doing this hash is that we three had an in-depth conversation about feasibility of doing half marathons (Dulce and I both had done halves and Chris had not.).  Chris had walked/jogged a few 5Ks and wondered if he could do 10Ks or longer.  Of course, by the time we got to the conversation, we had already covered 7 or 8 miles (which is longer than a 10K), and after doing 10 miles… well, what’s another 5K, right?

Chris was just short of his 70th birthday and here he was, thinking about doing half marathons.  It’s like I always tell people… it’s never too late to start running!