Tag Archives: Laura

Twin Peaks 50K – 2016

October 15, 2016

Prior to committing to running the North Face Challenge Race in Utah, I committed to volunteering for the Twin Peaks race, as there is no race director I respect more than Jessica DeLine.  She always does her best to put on a great event, tries to get anyone who wants to get to the finish to the finish, and charges a reasonable amount for her events.

However, once I was unable to finish North Face, I still wanted to do an ultra for this time period.  I told Jessica I would like to run the 50K (and I had already volunteered earlier in the year for Harding Hustle and obtained a 50% discount), but that I would also like to volunteer before and after the event.

So, instead of just rolling up a little bit before my start at 7am, I arrived at the start at 4:30am.  I helped to set up EZ-Ups, tables, and then began checking everyone in.  I think I handed out almost every number for the 50M and 50K.

I also helped getting together supplies for the aid stations and loading them, and then I got myself ready to go.  Also joining me at the start line was Tsehay (who I helped convince drop down to the 50K), Jeffrey McKinney and Yen Darcy.  Angela Holder and Laura started earlier (for more time and to beat the heat).  I would prefer to start earlier, too, because I like to avoid the heat, too.

If we flash back to a few years ago, when the race was cancelled and then reinstated, I did a post-dawn start and only made 19 miles before I got severely overheated.

The very first hill is 6.5 miles and 2000’+ climbing.  I know I have to take it really easy.  In the beginning, I am with Yen and Tsehay, but they are actually running up the hill.  I know this course too well to be running up the hill.  If I can get to the top between 1:45 and 2:15, I will be very happy.  (1:54, awesome.)

The next section is the flattest section, with about 1000′ of climbing and 900′ of descent.  This is also the section last year where I severely twisted my ankle, so I just want to move at a respectable pace (anything under an hour for four miles).  (58 minutes, good).  I am still behind Tsehay and have not caught up to Angela (go, Angela!).

Now, the “fun” part.  This is the West Horsethief section.  I am super-familiar with this and can tell you each of the twists and turns.  Although it is significantly downhill, I know that much of it is not that run-able (more so for me because of low-hanging branches), but at least it is downhill.  My 1:16 on this section is considerably slower than the last hillier section but I make it through safely.

If you compare  my times on these first three sections to how I ran the first three sections last year, I have picked up a bit of time and am about one hour net gain at this point.

On the beginning part of Holy Jim, which is “relatively” flat, I do finally catch up with Tsehay.  She is so surprised about the difficulty of the downhill section of W. Horsethief.  She thought she would pick up all sorts of time running down the hill, but it was quite the opposite.

I told her she would have a very special celebration when she finishes the race (which is really 32.5 miles and not 31.0), because 2016 marks 32 years in the USA.  She really liked that idea.

So, now to the tough part of Holy Jim.  Three years ago, it took me 3:07 to do the 4.5 miles.  Stand alone, I have completed this section in under 2 hours.  Today, I do 1:53, but on the last scramble up to the road, I am pretty tired, and not at all ready for the next 3 miles.

I hear a familiar voice.  “C’mon, Emmett, I’m waiting for you.”  I don’t think Angela was very pleased with the expletives that ensued from my mouth, but I was in a bad mood and didn’t need encouragement.  I just wanted to get through it.  I sat down on the water bottles, drank a bunch of water, refilled my bottles and endured flies dive bombing me.  I was in the shade and they don’t venture as much into the sun, but I wasn’t about to sit in the sun.

Now, up the endless 3 miles to the summit of Santiago Peak, almost all in the sun, and almost all steep and steeper on difficult terrain.  One hour, 37 minutes.  A loss of about 10 minutes over my time last year.  (Net gain, though.)  We did get to see Laura briefly, but she is way ahead of us (because she is faster and started early).

Angela and I are still sticking together and encouraging one another.  She is going faster than I am down Upper Holy Jim, but the downhill single-track is not my greatest skill.  Still, I do better on the 3 mile section downhill than uphill (54 minutes versus 97).

On the last 6.5 miles, Angela and I mostly stay together.  I do wait with her while she takes a potty break (can’t believe they didn’t cart a port-a-potty right up to where she needed it mid-course), but after a while, her pace is a bit too slow for me, and I take off on my own.  (I do have a chance to improve upon my best course time from 4 years ago, if I press my pace a bit.)

My final time ends up being a bit slower than my up pace (surprisingly) – 1:59 – to finish in 10:34, only 10 minutes slower than my best.  (I know 10 minutes sounds like a lot, but it’s 20 seconds/mile.)

Once I am a bit more recovered, I head back a bit to meet Angela and “shepherd” her in.  I grab her hand and run in with her.  It’s a really nice moment.

For the next couple hours, I assist finishers with food and drinks, and I perform some gopher duties.  One of the most exciting moments was the finish of Randall Tolosa, who gets his first finish after 5 tries (and he didn’t start early).

Once the last finisher comes through and the drop bags come down, now I start helping with the packing up of everything – dismantling EZ-ups, tables, packing up food, etc.  As a treat, I get one of the In-N-Out Burgers they bought for the volunteers.  Even though it’s cold, it’s really good.

I get home at about midnight, so I had almost a 24-hour day.

Looking forward to next year’s event, whether I run it, volunteer at it, or both.

Boeing 5K (4) – 2016

April 11, 2016

A few events that led up to today made it this run particularly memorable.

First, on Thursday I went to the Long Beach Hash in San Pedro.  It was rainy and I had gastro problems.  I had to make a pit stop at a bathroom by the USS Iowa, and when I came out, most of the pack was gone.

I continued following the trail and when I got to the beer check, it looked like no one had been there.  I thought I might carry the beer to the end, because it probably wouldn’t be too heavy or really far, but it turned out to be over 3 miles and weigh over 20 pounds.  I was the last one in, but lauded for bringing in a nice surprise.

Saturday was the Seal Beach 5K/10K, which I had not planned to run.  Instead, I made plans with AREC Greg to run the Redbox to Kenyon Devore to Wilson and down to Redbox route, which he had not run before.

The first 4 miles went relatively well.  It was a bit wet and foggy out and even though we did not step in any puddles, the wetness of the bushes got us completely wet.

We tried to follow the West Fork trail instead of the Gabrielino Trail that Stephanie Harris and I ended up on last year, but somehow we made a wrong turn in a certain section and ended up backtracking DOWN Gabrielino to the cistern where you turn UP to head up Kenyon Devore.

This continued well under we reached the “waterfall crossing,” which is something I have crossed many times before.  It is a small waterfall crossing the trail… with a little water a few feet up and continuing down two to three feet below. So, not a major cataract.

Because I am usually not fleet of foot, I usually just jump across.  In all three iterations of Mt. Disappointment (50K, failed 50M, successful 50M), I have jumped across and gotten cramps when I reach the other side… so, this time, I thought, I’ll just walk across like a normal person.

I took one step on the slick rocks and my feet dropped out from under me.  No chance to swing my arms or try and regain my footing.  Just slipped straight down and hit pretty hard on my left elbow, right on the funny bone, right on another rock.

Since it was cold and wet out, I had Moeben sleeves on and they kept me from seeing if I was hurt badly or not.  A quick glance down the sleeve seemed to me that my skin was puffy and that I was bleeding a bit, but no need to alarm myself.

It took me a little bit to extricate myself from where I had fallen, because I was blocking the flow of water and I couldn’t push up on my left arm to get any leverage, and I certainly didn’t want to fall again.  I ended up sliding down the waterfall another foot or so (scraping up my leg through a branch on the ‘fall) so that I was at a spot where I could stand up without any leverage.

Once I was back on the trail, I needed to lie down for a bit because my adrenaline was pumping and I felt a bit faint.  A few runner-hikers passed through while I was lying there and offered up some Advil to deal with any pain.

Once I calmed down, Greg asked for the plan, because it was probably 6.5 miles down a technical trail back to the car, OR 3.5 miles up a meandering trail to the top and then 4 miles down a paved road to the car.  (Being stupid), I suggested we go to the top, because they might have first aid, plus it would be a smoother ride heading down on the road and better opportunities to sit down if I had issues (or to get a rescue).

At the top, they had a first aid kit, but no one who could administer anything in particular, so we headed down the road.  My arm hurt a little bit, but I generally felt fine.

When we got back to the car, Greg offered to drive.  This was probably for the best, because my arm was still bleeding and the roads were winding quite a bit.  While I can steer with one hand, it was probably for the best.

We wrapped my arm in the toilet paper we brought in case we had a bowel emergency and I also cupped my arm in a manila envelope, to keep the blood off of the upholstery.  We also had a couple of beach towels on each seat to keep them relatively dry.

Greg drove me the 90 minutes back to his house in Long Beach, and suggested that I might go to the hospital to see what the situation was.  I was reminded about my issue with my ankle in August last year where they told me to go to Urgent Care, but that it might be hours before I was seen.  It was a shade quicker in Harbor City, but I felt like I should go to the closest facility ASAP, which was in Downey, about 10 miles straight up Bellflower Blvd.

I got there and parked without too much difficulty and then went to go check in.  While waiting in line, one of the receptionists said I needed to see the nurse immediately because I “was dripping blood on the floor.”  She removed the envelope and TP and iced down my arm as best she could.

About 10 minutes later, I got in to see a doctor, priority one because my arm was still bleeding.  My pain level was not high but I did get a little woozy (probably out of concern, because I have little issue with blood or needles), so they put me in a wheelchair.

Then I was wheeled over to Radiology to be x-rayed.  It hurt a bit but I was not too concerned.  If it was broken, the pain should be so much more, right?

While I was waiting for my ride back to the Urgent Care waiting room, I sang Disney songs to the receptionist (Frozen was playing on the TV.).  One guy waiting with his girlfriend recognized me as volunteering at the Harding Hustle aid station on Santiago Peak.  Small world, and weird that he recognized me sitting down.

When the physician got back with me, he had a look of alarm on his face. He showed me the x-ray, which showed negative space at the end of my left elbow – two flakes of bone had chipped off the end, were floating around in my arm, and were not letting my blood clot.  I needed to be admitted for emergency surgery.  Bleh.

I wanted to get my arm wrapped up and go home and finish a project I had been working on for 6-8 hours on Friday. I had captioned the whole thing, but just needed to sync the last bit by 10am Sunday morning.  The chance was that I wouldn’t be able to do it, nor contact the company that I couldn’t get back to my computer (and all the work I put into it, well, I wouldn’t get paid for a partial project).

First, I was wheeled over to the E.R., which was super cold, and that was multiplied by the fact that I still had on a wet shirt, wet socks, wet shorts, and wet shoes.  Eventually, they got me some dry socks to put on.

I tried to call Greg or my parents or Laura, to let someone know I was OK.  Cell coverage non-existent.  Someone offered up a cell phone with a bar or two, and I left a message for my folks (but of course, they didn’t check the voicemail as it was some random SoCal number).

There was a possibility that they could do the surgery today, as I had not eaten or drank anything all day, even before midnight the day before, but when it got pushed forward to Sunday, they made me up a TV dinner (as the cafeteria was already closed) and finally got me admitted by around 9pm.

By then, I couldn’t dial out any calls on the room phone, but I was able to call Greg, my folks, and Laura on my rapidly dying phone, and let them all know I was OK, but having surgery tomorrow.

The bed was on the small side and to make matters worse, they had to put these leg “exercisers” on to keep my blood flowing.  They were hot and super noisy.  My feet weren’t comfortable and were on the bed control panel (which the night nurse did not like).  I had to keep my right arm at a certain angle, also, because that’s where the IVs were set.  They offered me some morphine, but the pain wasn’t that much and I would prefer not to take it as it will wreck some havoc with my GI system.

Didn’t really sleep all night.  Kept the TV on, and bugged the nurse a couple of times to go the bathroom and to reset the alarm when I moved my right arm too much.

Around 10am on Sunday morning, they finally came and told me to get ready for surgery. This involved finally taking off my running shorts and just having the hospital gown on.  I don’t really understand this, because you are not going anywhere near that area. Can’t I just leave them on?

They let me keep my glasses on, because I said that I would be nauseous with them off and it would make me feel better if I could pop them on when I came out of the anesthesia.

Besides, there was a bit of a wait (about an hour) between when I got to the O.R., and when the surgery took place.

I had a nice talk with both surgeons.  One is Dr. Maylene Glidewell, the Orthopaedic Surgeon, and she was bringing on the Trauma Surgeon, Dr. Huy “Wesley” Tran.  Dr. Glidewell is “old school” and had a way that she would do the surgery, and Dr. Tran is “new school” and has a braiding technique to bind the bone fragments in and have it look good.  I’m to have about 10 permanent pins in because the bones will not just grow back together where the fragments chipped out.

Dr. Tran and I talked a bit about running, as he recently completed his first Ironman triathlon.  He asked me what my next race was going to be.  I had hoped to do the Wild Wild West 50M, but that is only one month off, so I said I would like to run the Shadow of the Giants 50K in two months time. He said that I would probably be recovered by then.

I watched the Masters Golf tournament on a monitor until they were ready to do the surgery.  I didn’t fit really great on the operating table (no surprise), but much like my colonoscopy last year, all I remember is counting down and then waking up a few “minutes” later.

When I did come to, my arm was really sore, so they did give me a blocker to numb my entire arm.  Laura and Chuck came for an evening visit and said that they would get me home tomorrow as it is now too late to release me.  The hospital won’t let me drive myself home, someone has to come pick me up and take me, so because my car is here, two people have to drive me back.

I do get some dinner from the cafeteria and “sleep” as well as I did last night, with the leg exercisers and nurse helping me unplug so I can go the bathroom.

In the morning, after I get some breakfast, they say I can be released.  I call Chuck and of course, Laura has forgotten she is going to pick me up and gone off running or spinning or something.  Chuck doesn’t know where she went.  Oh, gosh, I want to go!

I call a few other people who might be home on a Monday morning who could connect with Chuck, and no one is really available (though Angela says she could come around noon, three hours from now).

Finally, I call Chuck and suggest that he make a big “show” of picking me up in front of the hospital, and drive me around to my car.  Since I have Bluetooth in the car, we will stay in contact the entire way back to my place, and we will totally stop if I am having any issues.  It’s literally 10 miles all on one street, so I am not really worried.

So, Chuck comes and picks me up… “I’ll drive the big man home.”  And then we drive over to my car, I put my stuff in the trunk and drive back to Long Beach without any problems.

When we get near the University, Chuck asks, “What do you want to do?”  See, it’s about 11:20 now.  I have two options:  1.  Go home and sit down for the rest of the day, or 2.  Keep driving down PCH and do the Boeing 5K and continue my streak.

Since I am going to be doing pretty much nothing for the next two weeks, I take the Boeing option.  Why end the streak when my feet are still working?

Nelson says I am probably the first person to come straight to the run from surgery.  Even though my legs and feet work just fine, it is still slow going, because I need to support my arm (also in a sling) because it hurts a bit.

On a couple of occasions, I worry that I will be able to finish, and finally, I decide to turn around… OK, it was at the 5K turnaround.

My time is 55 minutes, which is a tie for my personal worst 5K, set when I “ran” the 5K two days after running a 100-mile race.

12973420_1260152483995251_4809112708967226896_o

I may yet reach 100 consecutive Boeing 5Ks!

Rahl-Rose Quintennial 5K – 2016

March 7, 2016

Drove back to Long Beach on Sunday in order to make it back for my birthday race with Todd Rose and friends.

Today was also the day I had set aside to go car shopping, as I have to take the rental car back tomorrow.

I did my shopping on TrueCar and found the make and model of the car I wanted and printed out the offer sheet, then drove over to the dealer that had that car, which happened to be in Torrance.

I actually parked over at Trader Joe’s figuring that I would get a sandwich for lunch, because I had not eaten anything all day and would be hungry prior to the 5K.

I got to the dealership at 10am, test drove the car, and then worked on all the paperwork.  There were a few snafus, including them charging $50 more (despite saying that the TrueCar price was the actual price – they refunded me a month later when I asked), and wasted my time with detailing packages and dicking around with the warranties.

Since I still had the rental, the salesman drove my car – Hyundai Sonata Sport – back to Long Beach.  By the time everything was settled, it was 5:45pm… barely enough time to go and mark the turnaround on the course.  Fortunately, I had stopped and got a Cuban Pork sandwich at TJ’s.

By the time I got back to the BBC parking lot, a few people were already there.  Not as many people as I’d hoped, probably because it was so cold and windy, but we still got 20 brave souls.

I made special commemorative bibs for everyone, small bibs for “new” folks, and big bibs for Legacies (who ran in 2006 and 2011) and for Todd and myself.  Two Legacies did not make it – Tam and Zack.  Laura and Chuck did make it back for a third consecutive run (guess they’ll move up to Numbers 1 and 2 if we have another event).  Todd had Number 49, and I had Number 45.

Normally, I would not run any race post ultra, because my muscles and their microtears have not had a chance to repair themselves.  But this is a special deal.

This was reminiscent of 2006 where you couldn’t even talk because it was so windy, and everyone ran negative splits.

Immediately, four of us went out pretty fast, but I could not hold on with Tom, JT, and Brian Conboy, but they got me off to a fast start.

There was certainly wind swirling around and there were sections of the pedestrian path which were totally covered by sand (and one section with a paved path to tiptoe through).

The Bensons caught me around the turnaround.  I let Emily go.  Even if she doesn’t run a PR, I don’t need to go that fast.  I also let Ralph pass me.  Maybe I have a chance to comeback on him if I have anything left.

Just before the pier, Todd catches up to me. (This race is never close, but I always make a go of it, so to see Todd less than a mile from the end… well, this is a close race now.)  He says that he has nothing left.  I’ve been at “nothing left” for most of the run and I am positive that I cannot catch him.

Well, and especially because it’s a slight uphill to the pier, a couple of bends and then a downhill finish.  I think I might be able to catch Ralph, though, and do, just before the finish.

Because of the wind, I am 13 minutes out and 10 minutes back.  Todd beats me by just 12 seconds this time.  Five more years before I can try again.

Afterwards, we head inside the BBC for some post-race refreshments.  One Long Beach Crude and that’s it for me.

So happy birthday to me and Todd and welcome to the family, my beautiful cobalt blue Sonata!

Mt. Disappointment 50M (?) – 2007

August 11, 2007

Today is my big test for being able to do the 50 miler and marathon on back-to-back days.  Mt. Disappointment should prove to be WAY harder than the course I am doing in December (10-15 times the elevation change)… but I need to remember what it is to run 50 miles.

At the start, the conditions are not ideal… it’s already about 75 degrees out… and the race is not starting on time.  The RD says that he will give us some extra time at the end, but the problem is that we won’t get much in the way of cool temperatures to get ourselves going.

For the first section, which is the descent off Wilson, plus the crest over Mt. Disappointment itself, I take at a mild pace and feel OK.

On the second section, from Redbox to the bottom of Josephine, again, I am pacing conservatively and feel decent when I get to the base.  Of course, much of this section is shaded, so I am not yet feeling the “heat,” so to speak.

Once I start heading up Josephine, the temperature is in the mid-80s.  I remember how bad it had been 3 weeks earlier, so I decided that I would walk the entire hill and walk like it wasn’t important to get to the top – it was… but I was trying to keep cool and stay relaxed.  Unfortunately, I still felt overheated at the top of the hill and hurried into the shade for some protection.

The next part of this section is Strawberry Saddle.  It starts about 2 miles descent from the top of Josephine.  I felt OK on this transition section but really struggled up Strawberry.  It’s a red surface and it reflected a lot of heat back onto me.  I finally had to sit down, take off my hat and try to get myself back to a normal heart-rate and not feel like I was about to pass out.

A number of people I know passed by me and didn’t realize it was me.  Hwa-Ja said, “I have never seen the top of your head.”  A few people gave me Blox and Sharkees (?) and said they would let the Redbox aid station know that I was struggling and coming soon.  Once someone poured some water over my head, I felt a lot better and continued down to Redbox.

When I got there, they tagged me as “the guy who is going to drop out.”  I said, “What?  No.”  I just needed a break.  ‘Don’t feel bad about dropping,’ they said.  I said, “I don’t feel bad, because I am not dropping.  I am still pretty far ahead of the cutoff – 2 hours – and I am going to sit here and relax for a bit, drink a bunch of water and continue.”

They mentioned, as I left, that I could always opt for the 50K distance when I got to Westfork Station.  I said I would consider it, if I was falling behind the cutoff times… but when I got to Westfork, I was STILL 2 hours ahead of the cutoff, so I decided to forge ahead on the 50M course.

Just ahead of me was another 50 miler competitor.  I slowly caught up to her and we continued together for a bit.  Her name was Summer Wesson, and she had recently been in a car accident and was occasionally blacking out during her runs (I remembered some of the earlier single track and worried about her safety.).  Both of us vowed that we were going to finish this freaking race, ‘no matter what.’  (Basically they would have to drag our lifeless corpses from the course to stop us.  Dramatic, I know.)

The section out of Westfork is mostly shaded and a lot of uphill.  I just took it easy and reached the next aid station about 90 minutes ahead of cutoff.  There is a small out-and-back section here of about 1.5 miles (and you mark your bib with the pen at the turnaround to prove you were there).  On my way back, I suffered really severe cramps… and my shoe inserts had turned around inside my shoes.  Yow.

When I got back to the aid station, the cramps were gone, but I still needed my shoes adjusted.  I worried that if I sat down and tried to do it myself, I would cramp, so I asked the volunteer if he would assist me in sorting out my shoes… but the minute he touched my foot, I cramped up from the tips of my toes, to my waist.

I ended up spending around 45 minutes at the aid station, with a VERY nice volunteer cleaning, then massaging my feet (and I drank a lot of water and consumed a lot of salt to help with the cramping).  Then they said that I’d better get going because the cutoffs were going to be a whole lot closer.

The next section, to Shortcut, is 9 miles long.  Three miles downhill (with about 1000′ loss), and then six miles uphill (and 2000′ gain).  The downhill section is extremely technical, rocky as all get out.. and I worried about cramping if I stumbled too much… but I had to basically run down the hill to bank time for the uphill climb.

The uphill section was unbelievably difficult… not as technical, but there was no shade of any kind and by now, the temperature was close to 110 degrees.  I could not cool off at all.  And I was continuing to cramp.

Around this time, the sweeps caught up with me.  They were removing the ribbons and picking up any trash or planted water bottles.  They (Lonnie and Andrea (an Italian guy)) stayed with me and encouraged me to keep going.  I entertained them (when I could) by singing Italian folk songs that I knew.

The going was extremely slow and I feared I would not make the cutoff.  According to what I could remember, we had 11 hours and 30 minutes to get to Mile 41.  I estimated that I reached Mile 38 in 12-1/2 hours.  So… no good.

DNF (did not finish)-ing is one of the more devastating results in race.  I think there are people that are satisfied with making the attempt, and a DNF is an option always.  Then there are those of us who will finish at any cost (maybe even messing up one’s body by using a muscle, limb or body part that needs to recover) or find that umpteenth gear to push through and get there… but no amount of pleading was going to get me out of this one.

I had to accept it.   Summer had to accept it.  And the gal who collapsed on the trail (who Summer had stopped to help) unconsciously accepted it.  (I think that Summer would still have DNFed, even without helping the troubled runner.)

I got back to the start/finish and waited for my friend Ben Gaetos (to conserve parking spots, I had carpooled up with him from the 210 freeway) to finish, and also looked at the results of Laura, Chuck and Todd Fanady.

** Laura… well, her health was bad that day… and she didn’t start (so her result was equivalent to mine).

** Chuck finished 7:25.  That’s reasonable… but not great coming from a guy who had done a tough trail marathon in under 4 hours.

** Todd Fanady finished in 9:25.  My time in 2006 was 8:55 and Todd is a MUCH better runner than I am.

Ben came finished under the time limit.  Today… that was all that mattered.  However, he felt horrible – maybe worse than I felt because he had done the additional 12 miles.  He was fading in and out of consciousness… which was bad news for a hairpin turn-filled mountain drive… so I drove down, but my lanky legs kept hitting the nightlamps and plunging us into darkness… on the hairpin turns… as my legs were cramping.

There are lessons to be learned from this race.  I know that one is that I have to figure out how to deal with the cramping.  Eating a lot of Clif Shot or salt doesn’t totally do the trick, but I don’t know what does.

This leaves me more than a little concerned about my December adventure.  I am hoping that the weather is cooler and that I don’t cramp as much… but now I am less confident that I can even finish a 50-miler… much less a 50-miler AND a marathon in consecutive days.

Halloween Marathon – 2015

October 31, 2015

Earlier this month, my friend Gilbert Barragan (Jr.), ran his first marathon.  I helped a bit with the training (bringing him needed ice-cold beers on the long runs), but his real assistance came in the form of Eddie Hahn, another hasher, who is also a Marathon Maniac.  Eddie ran with Gil the whole way and sent him on to a 5:00:22 marathon, a really good debut run.

I first met Eddie at a hash several years ago and we bonded on the fact that we had both had published articles in Marathon & Beyond Magazine. I think he got extra copies for me when his was published, too.

Eddie and I often have discussions about who has run more long distance races (he has, by far).  Mostly the discussion gets into actual mileage on races.  With my last ultra, my total full marathons and ultras totaled 101 (with 26 being marathons).  I think I have figured the total mileage is equivalent to 143 marathons.  Long Beach was Eddie’s 198th marathon.

All that being said, Eddie’s 50th birthday is next Saturday and he is running the Revel Canyon Marathon, and he wants it to be his 200th marathon.  Thus, he needs 1 marathon in between Long Beach and Revel so the numbers work out.

He decided to do a Charlie Alewine event, which is going to be loops somewhere in Long Beach.  I have done several of his races, but nothing recently.  I had told him that if he needed extra bodies to make the race “official.” (Marathon Maniacs has some standards as to what counts as an official race.  I think people were running “Virtual Marathons,” which is just you running and telling someone your time – to me, that is NOT a race, that is training.)  I was not wild about doing a cement loop marathon, but I was game to help out a friend… if I could get a decent deal on the race.

I made an arrangement with the race director (can’t tell you the rate, I promised) for a time-only rate (no shirt, no medal, no trophy – I don’t need those anyway), and I was in.

Because I am nuts, I decided to walk down to the race start from my house (about 2.5 miles).  When I arrived, Eddie (and Laura) were already out on the course.  I thought they were all doing the regular start, but everyone started early (except for me).  Laura’s marathon apparently included the mileage to and from her house (kinda that Virtual thing again).

The loop course started at the start of the bike path and then ran basically out to the end of the bike path (plus 200 yards past by the marina), and back.

I felt OK at the beginning, but started to get tired as the race progressed.  Each half loop was about a 5K (a little longer), so I could see how I started to fall apart as the race progressed.

First two sets:   32:13 and 31:42
Second two sets:  40:50 and 44:15

On my third set, Eddie walked with me.  I know it was really really slow.  He was pretty tolerant, but then again, he wants to run a good race next weekend, so why push it?
Third set:  48:34 and 51:57

Eddie finished and I went on to do my final loop.  I started seeing all the folks doing marathon training from TRH plus some TRIBE folks getting ready for the Arizona Ironman.

I had horrible blisters in such a bad place that I actually did at least a half mile by turning my right foot completely sideways and walking normally with my other foot.  Awkward.  Literally awkward.  A number of my friends out training asked if I needed assistance.  No, thank goodness I’m almost there!
Last set:  40:32 and 45:58

Total time was 5:36:53.  Pretty good considering that I walked 60% of it.  It also cements the fact that I don’t like running on cement.  Ouch.

Now I did have another 2.5 miles to walk home, but when Laura ran home to finish her marathon, she convinced Chuck to come pick me up and drive me back home.

Later that day, I walked to Chipotle for my free Boo-rito and then to K Dubs Halloween Party, and then homes, so I ended up getting in 35.6 miles for the day.

Afterword:  Since I was the only regular time marathon starter, I won the marathon (but I didn’t have the fastest time).  Eddie ran his fastest marathon in several years for his 200th/50th birthday run, and qualified for Boston.

Skyline 50K – 2015

August 8, 2015

A special milestone event for me.

I started running in April 1996, and ran my first marathon about 8 months later.  It took me about 5 years to get to 10 marathons, but once I started doing ultramarathons, the amount of long races I did each year started to jump, including a streak of 30-something months where I ran at least 26 miles in a race EACH month (a few were DNFs, but I still covered at least 26 miles of the race).

I had known for a while that this milestone was upcoming, so of course, I used Skyline 50K as my goal event and was able to contact the Race Director, Adam Ray (an acquaintance of mine), and get the #100 bib to help commemorate my 100th marathon or longer distance race.

It turned out to be a very busy weekend.

Usually, Skyline is run on a Sunday and then I end up driving back to Southern California a few hours later.  This year, because of scheduling issues, the race is run on a Saturday, and additionally, pretty much my entire family is in town, including my two nephews who live in Dallas (though Evan is at choir camp and we will pick him up on Sunday).

So, this means that I do not have a bed.  Not a problem, because the upstairs couch is a bit longer and more comfortable.  It’s fine.

Last year, I started an hour early, mostly due to the fact that I had run Harding Hustle a couple of weeks before and was not entirely recovered.  This year, I wanted to have a regular “official” start.  I know that I will have little problem in finishing under the time limit, but in certain circumstances, it makes me feel more confident when I am not at the back at all times… but starting on time, you do get the excitement of  the crowds at the start.

I happened to spot the gal I ran with for about 5 miles last year, Meg Cheng (who definitely didn’t need to start early last year, but did so because she was AT the start early with some early-starting friends).  I ended up catching up to her around 2 miles in and staying with her for about 5 miles again.  It’s always nice to have some company of people that you know.

On the other hand, I create some conversation with other runners, as well as with volunteers when I show off my pace sheet (which since this race 2 years ago, I have dedicated the race to someone special – 2 years ago was supposed to be my high school friend, Brian Kelly, in his honor, but he died two days before the race, so it was in his memory).

Because this is my 100th, I wanted to do something special and honor 10 people who influenced or helped me in some way.IMG_0146

First, I give a lot of credit to my sister, Riva Rahl, who famously told me that if I put my mind to it, I could run a marathon.  I thought she was crazy at the time.

Second, my college buddy, Kevin Krajewski, with whom I “trained” with to run our first marathon.  We didn’t do a lot of runs together, but he always motivated me to do better (until I finally bested him).

Next, Habib Torfi, who I knew from my first full-time job.  He worked at the Epithelial Autograft Facility and he got me into running with running groups.

Fourth, my running club buddy, Jennifer Aguilar.  We DID train together a lot and she was always positive and helpful.

Fifth, another running club buddy, “Tahoe Bob” Gilbert, who was known as the ‘crazy ultramarathoner.’ We are similar… not really fast, but persistent.  I always felt if he could do it, I could do it, and we did a number of trail runs together.

Sixth and seventh, Chuck and Laura Sohaskey.  Laura was always my training partner and I got HER into ultramarathoning.  Chuck has done a few ultras as well, and brings a certain je sais ne quois to our adventures, humor-wise.

Eighth is my running club buddy, Mitsuye Morrissey, who convinced me to run my first ultramarathon at Way Too Cool, a distance that I would have never considered.  We also had a fun adventure at Javelina Jundred (Miler) where we both finished the 100K.

Ninth is my ultrarunning buddy, Rafael Covarrubias, who has motivated me to a number of ultra adventures, including Mt. Disappointment 50M, Miwok 100K, Bishop 50M, and Shadow of the Giants 50K.  He is a better runner than I, and I try to run better so that he doesn’t have to wait too long at the finishline.

And lastly, but not leastly, my family, who support me and motivate me in all of my adventures.  After 100 marathon-plus races, they KNOW I am probably insane!

The weather was on the foggy side and I want to take advantage because I know that once it clears, it could get quite warm, especially in the hilly sections.  This next section is pretty flat, so I try to maintain a decent running and walking pace to get through.  All of the cattle gates are open, so I don’t have to stop and unlatch them (coming to a complete stop).

At the end of this section, there is a sharp turn, a short (but steep) road to a dirt parking lot and the 2nd aid station.  I am greeted by my Cool buddy, Sabine Gillert, who is volunteering/cheering.  Always great to see someone you know cheering you on at the race.

One of the volunteers says she recognizes me.  Says I look great.  Way better than when I was so FAT!  What?  I don’t ever remember being fat.  In fact, I weigh more now than I did when I started running, so maybe you remember me from the future?

I will make my way back to this aid station in about 11 miles, but for now, it’s a mile-and-a-half uphill and the same downhill.  My hope is to finish this section in about the same time that I finish it, in reverse, on the way back (even though the downhill section (uphill on the return) seems so much harder on the return trip).

I get into the 3rd aid station after completing the 3.1 miles in 36 minutes.  Now I cross the road and get into the single-track section, which is some uphill and some downhill, winding around to the hardest uphill section (steep and about a mile long) and then a continuous uphill fire road section up to the Skyline Gate aid station (aka Halfway, but really 14.5 miles) and where I may see some members of my family, depending upon if they time it right and can find a parking spot.

I somewhat exceed my goals on this section.  Usually on an uphill, I maintain 16-18 minutes per mile, but I was brisker and managed 14:20s.

When I get to the top, I don’t see anybody, but just as I am getting ready to take off, Riva, Marisa, and nephew Reagan show up.  The gals take off to park the car, leaving almost-8 year-old Reagan with me.  Now I cannot leave until they come back.

11826026_886944714716732_1304771942668808571_n

I considered, briefly, having him walk with me, and hope that my sisters would realize where I had gone, but it was probably only 6 or 7 minutes total waiting.  I ate some food and we chatted for a bit.  I also got to chat with Errol “Rocket” Jones, working the aid station, who I had met at the Santa Barbara 100K last month (he was volunteering).  He is the co-race director of the Quad Dipsea, which I would like to run someday.

Now I head off to the right, which is mostly flat until it gets to the French Trail downhill single-track, on which I make good time, but have to be watchful, as it is rock-y and root-y and I am loathe to trip.  The general path of the trail is downhill, downhill, downhill, with occasional rocks and roots.

When I get almost to the bottom, it turns and takes a steep uphill turn.  I almost wanted to have not run the last bit to the bottom, if only to arrest my heart rate a bit and help out with the climb back up, but I just have to persevere.

This is the absolutely longest section (5.9 miles) and it’s often hard to tell how close you are getting to the end of the section, because you hear the road, but keep winding around and then, suddenly, you are there.  My pace on this section is about the same as the long uphill.  In other words, I am doing better because it is downhill, but worse, because I am getting tired.

Now I am back to the 3.1 mile section, where I would like to do something similar to the 36 minutes I did outbound.  (I don’t really have that expectation, but would like to.)  This is the first ultra that I have done in my new Size 14 Hoka Stinson shoes.  I am feeling less of the rocks, but it isn’t necessarily the ‘running on a cloud’ feeling that everyone talks about.  Maybe ‘running on a rocky cloud?’

I struggle on the inbound uphill section, as the sun is coming out and my feet are starting to hurt quite a bit.  I end up losing about 8-1/2 minutes on this section and make it back to the aid station where they told me I used to be fat.

From here, there is one more aid station before I get to the end.  It is mostly flat, but once you cross the Stone Bridge, you get back into the single-track and another part where you don’t have a clue of how far you have before you get to the aid station.

Part of this section I run with Julie Nye, for which this is her 15th Skyline run (this is my 6th).  Most of the people I talk with today are doing their first ultramarathon (it IS a really good beginner race because it is not insanely difficult and there are enough runners that you won’t have many sections where you don’t see anyone (unless you are at the very very back).

I am hoping to get through this section at a faster than 14:00/mile pace because then I will have a chance to finish the race under 7 hours (which I don’t seem to do as often nowadays).  I think the delay at Skyline Gate may prevent me from doing so, but I am not going to worry about it.

When I do finally make it into the aid station, I have left myself with about 35 minutes for the last 3 miles.  While this seems doable in a regular road 5K, it will be close.

I do what I can.  The first 1.4 miles of this is mostly flat and dirt, so I do a combo of running and walking.  I get excited when I get to the suspension bridge (truly my favorite part, because it means that I am close to the finish and it is bouncy!), and then it is about 1.5 miles to the finish and it is paved.

I am passed here by my friend, Clement Choi.  He and I ran together in the last few miles of the 2010 Dick Collins Firetrails 50M (with the same start and finish, but coming in from the other direction).  Great guy.  Today seems like a flashback of a bunch of my ultras.  But it seems like that happens at every race.  That’s what I love about ultras.  It’s like running a beautiful adventure with friends you see every so often.  You don’t get that with a big city marathon.  You may even know a bunch of people at the race, but you may not see them at all, maybe not at the end, either.  Bummer.

I make the turn across the little wooden bridge and suddenly remember that I still have another 50 yards to the “new” finish line.  I come in at 7:06:27, which is 40 seconds faster than Cool (or, in other words, virtually the same pace as Cool)..

There is no roasted pig this year (I think the roaster is sick, so no one stepped up.).

I got my shirt, a couple of cans of this Yerba Mate Mint Tea.  They also have a bunch of leftover items from previous Skylines (probably tired of putting them into storage year after year).  They are giving them away for free, but if they don’t have the right sizes, then what would I do with them?

I end up with a pair of socks (besides the ones from this year), another tank top from 2010, and a woman’s shirt from a previous year (for Riva).  I also pick up my shirt and then head back to my folks’ house.  When I get back, I realize that they have given me a WOMEN’s Extra-Large shirt, with the V-neck and the tighter cut.

I contact the race director and he says they are all out of Extra-Large shirts.  Crap.  They gave all of the rest out to volunteers… but then later, he tells me that he has one for me next time I am in town.  I will be in the Bay Area next for 2 days at Christmastime and again in March.  Hope he still has a shirt for me then!

All in all, I am really happy with how my 100th marathon or longer race went.  It took me 19 years.  I wonder how many years it will take me to get to 100 ultramarathons (I am at 74 now) and how many years to get to 200 marathon-pluses?

 

Run the Runway 1M – 2015

March 31, 2015

About two weeks ago, I received a cryptic e-mail about running on the Long Beach Airport Runway.  This does not sound like a good idea, since the traffic on the runways always exceed 100 miles per hour.  Even Usain Bolt is not that fast!

Well, apparently, the surface of the runway needs to be re-asphalted every 15-20 years due to wear and tear.  One of Long Beach Airport (LGB)’s runways just was completed and the city figured a good way to show it off and to celebrate would be to let people run on it.

To do so, you needed to register online with your information and include your shirt size (free shirt – just what I need).  The timing of the run would work OK for me because it was at 2pm on a Tuesday, but I would be very surprised if a lot of people showed up because it is in the middle of the day.

Since the runway is only a half-mile long (roundtrip 1 mile), I figured to get in a little extra exercise by walking to and from the airport (though tonight I also have my speed workout with TRH on the track).  I brought along a (used) book I had recently purchased (a short story by Solzhenitsyn) and timed it so I would arrive about 45 minutes before the event.

When I arrived, there was already a rather long line, but I spotted a few folks I know (some in front of me and some behind).  Once we got inside the gate (didn’t even have to show ID), the check-in was alphabetical by… FIRST Name.  This was a total zoo and a lot of folks didn’t even have their pre-registered information.  There were a LOT of people here (over 500).

There was a bit of a delay getting started and I lined up with Chuck and Laura.  The race was not going to be timed, but I still wanted to see what I could do a mile in (with meanderers around me, no less).  It was a weird surface to run on (macadam?), slightly better than concrete, obviously not as forgiving as packed dirt trail.  Both Chuck and I finished in the Top Ten, right around 7 minutes (7:02 for me, Chuck slightly slower).  They were interviewing and had minor prizes for the top 3 (wish they had said that… maybe I could have run a little faster).

After I finished, there were still lots of people who had not reached the far end yet, so I decided I would do another 1 mile loop, race-walking this time to see if I could catch up to the slow pokes.  Yes, 12:38

Chuck and Laura offered me a ride home, but in getting my free lemonade, muffins and cookies, I misplaced them and ended up having to walk home on my own (well, not all of the way; a friend passed me on the road and waved… and then offered me a ride the final mile).

My take-away was a free mile (or two) run, a flat orange water bottle, an orange commemorative shirt and 5 airplane pens.