Tag Archives: Riva

Bagel 10K – 2017

May 14, 2017

It’s Mother’s Day in Dallas, so of course, we are doing a Mother’s Day Race.  Think Riva ran this before, and it could be on the small side in terms of competitors.

I am just over a week past completing Wild Wild West 50K, so I don’t have any great expectations, but feel Dad has a great chance to place in the 5K and Riva will most certainly get a top 3 finish in F40 or Masters.

The course is a teensy bit hilly and it is muggy and hot out.  10K is going to be two loops, so I expect to do OK in the first half and not as good in the second half (probably walk a bit).  I have on my AREC shirt which doesn’t seem to fit very well.

We start out immediately downhill (and this is also the section of the race where you avoid kids going out too fast), so my first mile is 7:30, and then it’s a gentle flat and climb through a neighborhood, mostly shaded and I slow to 8:26.  The last 1.1 is a descent along a bike path, a small climb to the street we started on, and then an out-and-back section to make up the discrepancy between the 5K and 10K and back through the start.  8:28 on this section (25:10 for the first 5K+).

On the second half, I do run the downhill part, and jog/walk the uphill – 8:47.  The neighborhood and uphill slows me to 10:25, and then I try and press the last section.

I pass Myrrh and Dad in the middle of this section, along with a number of walkers in the 5K.  Mom and Riv are waiting for me at the finish line when I come though in 53:13 (not too bad in this heat).  They don’t have my time, though, and it gets busted up to 53:56 somehow.  I missed out of placing in my division (F40-49) by about a minute (but it would have been closer if they had my real time).  (When I see the chintzy awards, well, it’s not a big deal to miss out).

Riva runs 46:53 (below average for her, but she may be injured) and that it is good enough for 5th overall and the female winner of the race.

Myrrh and Dad come in around 57 minutes.  Dad would have been first place in the M80, but they decided to lump them in with the M70-79, too and he is only 5th.  (70+ is sometimes OK, but not when you have a separate race for 90 year olds!)

Afterwards, we get a nice bagel and cream cheese, and a truckload of Kind bars (two Kinds of Kind bars).

When I take off my AREC shirt, I realize I have been wearing a Women’s XL. No wonder it fit so badly.


Piedmont Turkey Trot 5K – 2016

November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year, I’m back in my hometown of Piedmont.  (Last year we were in Hong Kong.)

I seem to remember from years past that we would park in the lot by the park, but we end up parking about 5 blocks away near the terminus of Highland Avenue.

Riva is hurting a little so she says that there is a possibility that I will finish ahead of her.  (Yeah, like that will happen.)

My goal at this race is to try not to walk the hills (though it is a big temptation because there are so many).

I did situate myself at the front so that I wouldn’t get caught up in the slow crowd, and maybe the surge will take me along to the downhill at the far end of Highland and give me the impetus to climb up Wildwood (where I always tend to walk).  Mile 1 – 7:36.  (I am running UP Wildwood.)

From Mile 1 to Mile 2, there are a number of hills and I couldn’t quite not walk all of them.  I gave myself permission to walk up St. James to Hampton, and to walk a portion of the Seaview incline, but I still managed 9:22 (which is really good for walking hills).

Mile 3 to the end is mostly downhill (with a little dipsy-doodle towards the end) so I pushed the best I could, managing a 7:22 final mile, with a 47 second last tenth (about 7:50/mile).

My 24:59 was almost a minute ahead of Riva’s time.  (She still did well considering that she wasn’t anywhere near 100%.)

Dad was 2nd in his age group (out of 5 80 year-olds) but the rest of us didn’t factor into the results at all.  I was 238th overall and 29th in my age group, but consider that there were over 2,600 runners, so I’m good with the top 10%.

Boeing 5K (8) – 2016

August 8, 2016

I walked today, some with Raji and some with Andy Born.  My feet are still sore, but we broke an hour.

I leave this afternoon (basically as soon as I get home, I leave for the airport) to spend a week with my sister, Riva, in Dallas, visiting my nephews also.

Fort Worth Resolution 5K – 2016

January 1, 2016

My stay in Dallas was an unusual one.  For the past few years (except in December 2011 when I went on a Christmas cruise), I have spent Christmas in Dallas and participated in runs with Carrollton Running Club, Plano Pacers, and done the New Year’s Day White Rock Lake run.

This year, after taking a special trip with my entire extended family to Hong Kong for Thanksgiving, we spent Christmas in the Bay Area.  However, I did end up going to Dallas after all, two days after Christmas to spend a week with my sister and (sort of) babysitting my nephews while my sister worked and they were out of school.

We were to have a late flight out of San Francisco on the 27th, so I would be able to run the Lake Merritt Joggers & Striders 15K in the morning (I even pre-registered for it – $5.).  Unfortunately, there was torrential rain and thunderstorms in Dallas and our flight out of SFO got cancelled.  Because my sister has traveled pretty extensively on AA, we were able to rebook onto another flight (that hadn’t yet been cancelled) earlier in the day, albeit out of San Jose Airport and at 10am, making it impossible for me to do my race.  (The other downside was that I was to be upgraded to business class, but now I was back in coach.  Alas.)

Marisa drove us down to the airport and just before we boarded the plane, they announced that the flight was  over-heavy and would anyone be amenable to giving up their seats.? Although Riva really needed to get back before 8am Monday morning, she negotiated that both of us would give up our seats (and take a slightly later flight), plus each of us would get a voucher for $600, because Riva was giving up a business class seat.

It was a moot point, because the weight issue resolved and we were able to get on the plane.  Also, had we ended up taking that later flight, well, it ended up getting cancelled as well.

As we got closer to Dallas, they announced that DFW and DAL (Love Field) were closed due to storms, and we were being re-routed to Houston-Hobby.  In all probability, it looked like we would have to rent a car and drive the 4 hours to Dallas to make it back in time, but after a couple of hours on the plane in a heavy rain storm, DFW opened for a small window and we were able to get into Dallas.

Because of the timing of the visit, I had missed the Plano and Carrollton runs (which are usually the fourth weekend of the month) – I arrived Sunday night, but I hoped to do the White Rock New Year’s Day Race, which strangely enough, I could not find any information about.  After several years of having this fun 10am New Year’s Day race (with mimosas, beer, and spiked egg nog post race, plus champagne flutes as prizes), it was defunct.

I looked around and found a Resolution Run in Fort Worth (about a 45-minute drive).  It was a 5K, it was timed, and had a 10am start, so I wouldn’t have to get up super early (kind of like leaving at 7am for an 8am race), and there wasn’t too much traffic at that hour on New Year’s Day.

The race was in Trinity Park, which was part of the Fort Worth Cowtown Marathon course, except that the year I ran it, the Trinity River overflowed and we were routed an extra half mile to get around the flooding, so it is kind of cool that I get to run in an area that I should have run in nearly 11 years ago.

The registration is pretty  easy-going and there are not a lot of people in line (maybe bodes well for placing in the race, though there is no Clydesdale category for me to dominate).  I also got a decent parking spot, since I arrived with 30-plus minutes to spare.

By the way, it is January in Texas, which should be read as COLD!!  I have two shirts on plus gloves, plus my Buff, and I am still cold.

The race is an out-and-back past the start, then further around the park, under a railway trestle and then back around part of the original course again.  I try to run in a controlled manner.

My first mile is in 7:26, and I get myself out of the crowd (especially because we are mostly on a pedestrian path and there are 200+ runners here).  I catch up and pass my Carrollton Runners friend Kim Andres.  I always see her and chat up briefly.  She and Riva have run with the same groups in the distant past, I think.

I slow down a little on the second mile, trying to get myself into a comfortable pace and stay ahead of whomever I think might be in my age group.  (I am a terrible gauge of this, because it seems to be the salt-and-pepper guys, but heck, if I can stay ahead of those who I think are in my age group (aka the young guns), then I may place in my own group.)  My second mile is 7:45, and I pass Frances McKissick, someone who I have seen in a few Dallas races in the past.

The last mile takes me under the railway trestle which is probably less than an inch taller than me.  I duck under the entire thing just to be safe.  There is also a bit of a hill leading up to the final 1/4 mile, and I am struggling trying to catch up to some kids and stay ahead of Frances.  I manage the final mile (and 0.1) in 7:44 (so probably around 7:00 even) and finish in 23:10.

Afterwards, I head over to the covered picnic area to get some post-run snacks and champagne.  They have fruit, and some crackers and Frito-Lay chip bags.  There is one lady over there pouring champagne (and sparkling cider, Cold Duck, and Rose).  She can hardly get glasses poured before people snatch them up, and I am in the first quarter of finishers, so can imagine how bad it will get as the crowds come in.

I park myself behind her and start opening bottles.  This involves scraping off the foil cover, pulling off the metal band, and then popping the cork.  It’s pretty much impossible to do with gloves on, but I continue so that she can just pour, and I go until all of the bottles are opened and poured (at least 25 bottles).

This volunteer turns out to also be one of the award presenters, so when I pick up my award for 2nd place in my age group (out of 15, it wasn’t that small), she also announces to the crowd that I pretty much opened all of the bottles for them after I ran my race.  Starting out the New Year on a pseudo-good deed (and running a good time).  I did also get a glass of champagne (and try out a sip of the other “flavors”).

In the afternoon, I went to the Pretty in Pink DFWH3 event – I wore yellow and had a fun run around Dallas with a bunch of hashers dressed in pink, so I got to start my year out with nearly 8 miles of runs.

I was sad to miss the White Rock run, especially because it is so much closer to my folks and sister’s houses, but this was a nice replacement.

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.


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?


Mary Kay 5K – 2014

October 4, 2014

Following my cross country race mishap, I took it pretty easy.  I had a big ultra coming up in a few weeks, and my trip to visit my family in Dallas would be the perfect opportunity to give my sore body a break.

However, the whole family had signed up to run the Mary Kay 5K, and I opted in for it.  I figured I could see where my body was at.

Before the 5K, there was the Kids’ 1M (or whatever the distance actually was).  Reagan ran with Riva and did pretty well.  His time was super fast (hence my comment above).

Now we were all ready to start.  Riva lined up near the front and I lined up somewhat near the front… with Mom, Dad and Reagan at the back (Marisa was with Evan at his soccer game.).

The race was immediately downhill (many big buildings in Dallas have roads running underneath them, so THIS is the downhill… because Dallas is pretty pretty flat), so it was a mess, especially with speed bumps underneath the building.  I moved carefully and thoughtfully around everyone and got into a good pace.

Once through the building undercrossing, it was up the other side, a U-turn, and then back down under the building and back up on the parallel road.  Ugh.  A short time later was the 1-mile marker – 7:46.

Next was a half-mile out-and-back section which was slightly downhill and slightly uphill on the way back.  It looks like Riva is the 4th woman overall… so far.

Now another half-mile out-and-back (but flat).  Riva still looks good, but is still in 4th.  Not sure if she can make up the stagger.  I get my 2nd mile in 7:40.

The last 1.1 mile stretch is… another repeat of the under-the-building section… meaning down-and-up twice, with an uphill finish.  I manage another 7:40 mile (plus the extra tenth) to finish in 23:50.

Since relatively few people have finished, I get in the pancake breakfast line and get a few pancakes and some bacon for Reagan, in case he wants some when he finishes (since there is no one to watch him, he is doing the 5K with Mom until Riva can finish and go back and run in with him.

Once I have my pancakes, then I head back out on the course to cheer Mom and Dad (and Reagan) in.  Dad is the first one I see and he is walking briskly.  He is competing in the 75+ age group (so hopefully he won’t be beaten by a bunch of 75-year olds).  Next comes Riva and Reagan.  He has gotten a second wind, running with his mom.  And Mom is not all that far behind.  I walk in with her.  She was having to encourage Reagan (tired, for sure, after his fast mile), but now she can really stride in to the finish.

Reagan doesn’t want the pancakes so I eat them… and then we go see if anyone has gotten a medal, so we can high-tail it to Reagan‘s soccer game.

Looks like Riva won the F40-44 (but not first Master like last year), Mom got 3rd in the F70-74 and Dad got 3rd in the M75+.  I am in 4th.  We convince them to give up the medals prior to the award ceremony.

Later, when we look up the awards at home, because the top Master finisher for the men was in my age group, I have been bumped up to 3rd in my division.  I don’t get a medal, but I’m not worried about it.  I am just happy that I have been able to run a decent time only a week after banging myself up.

Harding Hustle 50K – 2014

July 19, 2014

Lauren Miertschin and I had talked about this race for a while.  I completed it a few years ago and the weather sucked (HOT!!), but I finished.  It was so-o hot that I actually walked DOWNHILL because heat was radiating from the road.

Lauren has good endurance but (like me) can tend to be a little on the slow side, and she was concerned about finishing under the 9:00 time limit.  I corresponded with the RD, Jessica DeLine, and convinced her to let us start an hour early (or basically as soon as she arrived at the start).  The extra hour was both for the extra time and for being out of the hot sun for one hour less.  I was mildly concerned with my ability to finish under 9:00, but with an extra hour, I felt that I would not have to stress out over it (because I KNEW I could finish under 10 hours!).

On Friday, I rested most of the day and figured that I could go to bed early; however, I am having trouble falling asleep (maybe because it is summertime).  I was IN bed, but just could not fall asleep.  Around midnight, I finally turned the lights back ON and read until I dropped the book, which was at 2am… and woke up 75 minutes later to get ready.  Yuck.

I left my house around 4am and drove to Modjeska Canyon.  It was dark and foggy out and I was worried about finding the turnoff in the dark.  It is a bit hard to find when it is not dark out – I always want to turn about 5 miles before the actual turnoff.

I arrived about 4:30am and parked a little down the road.  In actuality, we were supposed to park offsite and get bused in, but buses weren’t running yet, and Jessica told us we could park along the road (just not at the actual start line where volunteers would be parking and staging vehicles to drive up to the aid stations along the Harding Truck Trail).

Lauren plus another gal, Natalia, arrived about the same time as I did, and both of them already had their numbers, whereas I had to wait until Jessica arrived to get mine, but I did have safety pins attached to my shirt in case the pins were in some unreachable container.  I was also prepped with a “thank you” gift for Jessica, consisting of a nice can of IPA beer and a little loaf of bread I had made on Wednesday.

Lauren was antsy to get going and said she would start at 5am, EVEN if Jessica had not arrived, but Jessica arrived right around 5am, so Natalia and Lauren set off immediately.  I still had to get signed in, get my number pinned, and then I could set off, so it was about 5:05 by the time I got going.

It was dark out but not enough that I needed a light to make my way up the hill.  I tried to estimate how long it would take for me to make up a 5-minute stagger and go with or overtake two middle-aged ladies.  I thought actually that it might take 30-40 minutes, because I was not going much faster than they were.

I passed Natalia in about 45 minutes and Lauren in just about another 5 minutes.  Lauren was still really nervous about making cutoffs, but I said that she should refer to her pace sheet I created for her (necessary pace on the front, picture of her family on the back).  She pointed out that we were already losing quite a bit of time off the necessary pace, but I pointed out that it did not take into account the grade of the course – it was straight time versus miles.  If we were a little behind on the time, we could probably make up the difference when the downhill came.

I reached the first aid station at 4.6 miles in 78 minutes or about 17 minutes per mile.  There wasn’t actually anybody AT the aid station, but there was a table with some boxes of water underneath it.  I think I had beaten the volunteers to their aid station.  When I made the switchback turn up the hill, however, I could see a little bit in the distance some trucks heading up the hill (presumably each of the aid stations’ staff).  About 15 minutes later, two trucks passed me (the third presumably stopped at the first aid station.

The trucks knocked up a considerable amount of dust from the road, but fortunately, I had my Buff and covered up my mouth and nose before they drove by.  It was still a little annoying because I didn’t have a lot of room to move over, or if I did, it was the very rocky section of the trail.

I was passed by a further two trucks about 20 minutes later.  One truck was a little too close to me and bumped my elbow with its passenger side mirror.  Fortunately, it was slow enough that it didn’t really hurt me.

At about 6.5 miles, the road makes a big turn to the left.  In February, when AREC came out to do Harding Truck Trail, this was where I turned around to head back down the hill.  A few years ago, when Laura and I did our training run, this was where the snow began.  Today, no snow, and no turn around, but this is the approximate section where I can get an idea on how far I have to go… and I can also see far down the trail to see where the other runners are.

My guess is that I will be passed by the lead runners, who started at 6am, maybe around 7am… certainly before I get to the 2nd aid station at mile 9.1.  But, when I look down the hill, I can’t see ANY runners heading up the hill… but I do get a good glance at Natalia and Lauren.  Natalia is now ahead of Lauren, but still a bit behind me.

I can also glance ahead to see how far I have yet to go to get to the 9.1 mile aid station… it is basically where the radio towers are.  The trail goes on and on and on, is a little rockier, and continues at a fairly steep rate.

Finally, I can see the locked gate ahead, which indicates the end of the Harding Truck Trail and the location of the aid station.  I rather thought that the gate would be open (and was when I last did this race), but perhaps the folks doing the aid station didn’t know to leave it open for the runners.  I cannot really climb under it (just a bit low for me), so it looks like I can go around it, but as I do that, I am on the outside of the railing along the path… so I still have to climb over or under something.

A minute or so later, I am at the top.  I am amazed that I have still not been passed by the lead runners.  I covered the 4.5 miles to this point in 82 minutes (about 18 minutes per mile).  The aid station is still just setting up and all they can give me is water (I could really use some mix and I have drunk about everything that I have) and a gingerbread Stinger waffle.  At least the ‘waffle’ hits the spot and gives me a little energy to continue.  At least the next aid station is not as far away and maybe I can get some better liquid supplies there.

From this aid station, it is a tight hairpin turn up to the right.  Pretty soon after I leave the aid station, I am overtaken by Natalia.  I am surprised, because she didn’t look that good early on, but I guess she got a second wind after a slow start.  About 5 minutes after that, I am (finally) passed by the lead runner, about 2 hours 45 minutes in.  I can’t believe that their pace is so slow!

The lead runner is DRENCHED in sweat.  His shirt is soaked and he is dripping everywhere.  I am mildly wet, but not soaked like this guy is.  John Hampton doesn’t even sweat this much (a friend of mine who weighed his shirts after a triathlon and they weighed 18 pounds)!  There was a bit of a gap to second and then third place, but then a nice slew of people are continually passing me (not scads, but an additional runner every 4-5 minutes).

When I get up to the Modjeska Base Aid Station, they are finally all set up and I get another Stinger waffle, some potato chips, melon and a complete refill of Nuun in my water bottles.  I am technically NOT at this aid station yet…  I have to still make the climb to the top of Modjeska Peak.  This is the section that I am least looking forward to, because it is extremely technical (read: rocky) AND steep.  Also, I know that I have to do it twice in the race.

I have a brief conversation (as I am going up the hill) with a 50- or 60-something Korean runner who started 30 minutes early, who caught me at this point.  It’s nice to have someone to talk to or at least to have someone around me after nearly 3 hours of walking by myself.

The additional bad part of this section is that the lead runners are speeding down the hill, so I have to continually move over into the rockier part of the trail.  I have some muscle memory of this section, where it flattens out for a bit, and then turns sharply, with a steep scramble to the top.  There are a couple of volunteers here directing us to see how the turn around works (literally, turn around and go back down the hill).  It’s not that easy, either, because it is more bouldering than runnable. Mark Vishnevsky also passes me here (didn’t know he was doing the race).

Lauren is coming up the hill behind me and she is still nervous about making cutoffs.  I remind her that we have 6 hours in total to make the summit of Santiago Peak, we are at 3-1/2 hours now, and the location is less than 4 miles away.  I think she will be OK, and so much better WHEN she makes that cutoff.  She is only about 15 minutes behind me at this point.

When I get back to the aid station, I have now done another 3.4 miles in 68 minutes (20 minutes per mile), and now will make my way to the top of Santiago Peak.  I have 2 hours and 12 minutes to cover the 5K distance.  I SHOULD make it.

The funny part about this section is that between the top of Modjeska Peak and Santiago Peak, the height difference is only about 100 feet; however, with the descent to Modjeska Base aid station, the descent along the Main Divide Road, and then the ensuing climb, it is about 700 feet of climbing.  At least the trail is not technical, but just a steep uphill.

When I get to the top of the peak, my friend Jim Tello is there and a nice crowd.  I covered the 5K in 56 minutes (back to 18:00/mile) and made the cutoff by 1 hour and 15 minutes (if I had started on time, I would be 15 minutes ahead of the time, so I am feeling good about myself).  I don’t waste a lot of time hanging out because I would rather not spend much time in heat, once the sun comes out.

Heading down the hill, I run into Lauren, and she is totally making the cutoffs, and she seems pretty happy.  I also see Laura Sohaskey; I was certain she was NOT doing this race, but here she is again.  I assume she will pass me momentarily and I await our chance to run together.

As I head down the hill, I am a bit concerned for each person I see heading in the opposite direction, because when I am 45 minutes out from the top, that means 5-1/2 hours have passed for me (and 4-1/2 hours for the rest of them).  Six hours is the cutoff, and I don’t have confidence that some of the slower runners can do in 30 minutes uphill what has taken me 45 minutes to do downhill.  Hopefully, Jessica will give them the benefit of the doubt.

When I get back to Modjeska Base, I have to go to the top of the peak one more time (yuck) before I am truly at the aid station.  It hurts my feet more the second time, even though I know where to run to try and avoid the rockiest parts.  When I get back to the bottom, Lauren is just arriving (now about 25 minutes behind me), but she says to me that even though she is a bit behind the schedule, she now knows she can make it.  I think the picture of her family gave her the little extra she needed to make it through the race.

As for me, I sometimes run the race in honor (or memory) of someone. At Skyline 50K last year, I was going to run in honor of my friend, Brian Kelly, but he died two days before the race.  Today, I am running in honor of my sister, Riva, and my two nephews, Evan and Reagan.  The three of them have had a bit of a trying summer.  Riva should get some of the glory of my successful running, because she put the bug of it into my head 18 years ago.  Just thinking of them gives me a little extra energy.  It will probably help a bit when the sun comes out!

I show off my picture to the aid station folk, a bit of braggadocio.  Now that I am back to Modjeska Base proper (Mile 20.5), I am at 6:07 (maintaining a net pace of 18:00/mile).  Now there is a fair bit of downhill coming up.  There is only about 1.5 miles back down to the radio towers and I cover that in 26 minutes.

The aid station here is now set up and I can get something other than water.  Also, the gate is open, so I don’t have to climb under or over it!  I should be really excited about all of the downhill, but I do still have over 9 miles to the finish.  I am hoping to run some of it with Laura and am surprised that she hasn’t passed me yet.

Now I make it down to the last aid station.  I need to tell the volunteers that I had passed the aid station before they set it up this morning.  They said that they weren’t told about me and assumed that I was a “DNS.”  No such luck.  My pace had increased here to 15:00/mile, but the sun is starting to peek around corners, so I hope I can continue to accelerate and maybe even finish under the (real) 9 hour time limit.

With about 3.5 miles to go, I can finally spot some landmarks.  I know from past runs on this trail that once you see a house by itself, that is basically where the finish line is.  The bit of heat is starting to get to me but I know I am almost there.  There is one last uphill about a mile from the finish, and I walk this and then run pretty strongly all the way down to the finish, coming in at 8 hours and 45 minutes.

Afterwards, I get my picture taken, eat some pasta salad, drink some soda, and then get a free massage (that REALLY hit the spot).  Jessica did a drawing for some prizes and I won a nice coffee mug that said “Age Group Winner,” ironic, considering that I probably came in last in my age group.

About 45 minutes after I finished, Lauren came in, and then about 75 minutes after I finished, Laura finished.  However, what I didn’t know (and this explains A LOT) was that the race started 15 minutes late, so Laura and I finished with nearly identical times.  This also meant that all of those folks that I worried so ardently about DID all make the cutoff after all.

My next ultramarathon is in just 2 weeks, so I am happy that I did take it relatively easily today.10498280_10152219449492055_7394725569015028691_o