June 26, 2008

Western States 2008 Race Cancelled

The 2008 Western State 100 mile endurance run has been cancelled. The official announcement was made last night around 8 pm. Fires, smoke, danger to the runners, crews and support personnel contributed to the decision. When I heard the official news, I was not surprised, given the briefing we had yesterday at 3 pm. I couldn’t bring myself to post anything until now.

I’m not quite sure what to say, as this kind of thing is difficult to put into words. I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve focused more on this race than any before. Just to get to the race took two years. Qualifying, the lottery, training, now its gone. Just like that. My disappointment is shared by thousands of other runners, crews and volunteers. Many of these folks have come from overseas.

But the world continues to turn. And the running gods will speak to all of us another day. Sure, we all lost out to mother nature. But no one can challenge her when her mind is set. As they say in ultras, there will be times when you feel terrible, and times when you feel good. You just have to keep moving forward. I must now set my sights on another race, and move forward, for another day.

Unofficially I was told that all the runners that were in this year will have a slot next year if they choose to run. That is a long way from now, but if it turns out to be the case, I’m in for sure. In the mean time, I’m looking to get into another 100 miler this summer or early fall. I need to put myself on the line, and waiting a whole year won’t cut it.

I want to thank all the people that got me this far. My wife, Jen, who has made so many sacrifices for me to be able to train. Rob McNair, who has been there without fail to train with me from the day I got into Western States. My two daughters who don't have their daddy to “hang with” on weekends when I’m out running all the time. Jeff Padilla for running my first 50 with me and being part of my WS crew along with Jen and Rob. And everyone else who has offered their words of encouragement and advice along the way. Thank you all. I’m saddened yet appreciative of all that its taken to get here.

The journey continues.

June 25, 2008

Holy Smokes--Update Number 2

Hold Your Breath. Drum Roll....

Hiking up to Emigrant Pass. Race Still On?

First Time WS Runners Receive Briefing on Fire Situation

When I awoke his am, it appeared to me that the negotiation between the running gods and mother nature was progressing fairly well. Coffee in hand, I strolled outside around 7 a.m. From the base of Squaw, I looked up to the summit, which was not visible yesterday as it was shrouded in smoke. Today I could see it clearly, despite a light haze that still hung from the sky.

I jumped on the tram to high camp and hiked the rest of the way to Emigrant Pass. Again, the air seemed decent, and the visibility good as well. I could see for what seemed like 10 to 15 miles. The wind was also starting to gust a little from the west, and seemed to be pushing the soot over Lake Tahoe and hopefuly all the way into Nevada. At High Camp I glanced at the weather instruments and noticed the wind speed was 10 miles an hour, and moving the smoke along. Could the running gods be making progress? Is mother nature willing to concede the weekend to a few thousand people?

What hope I had was dashed at 3 p.m. today when we received a briefing from a Western States board member. “It doesn’t look good” was all I remembered from the “official” presentation. Off the record I heard there was only a 10% chance the race will be held. Fires are burning on both sides of the trial and they are not being fought by firefighters due the sheer number of fires still raging in Northern California and the lack of fire fighting resources. Access roads for crews are being shut down. We were told that we will be given a definitive answer on the race this evening.
Yea, I know yesterday I said “whatever happens, happens”. But that was before the nasty, poor, brutish and short reality was delivered to me today. I’m now trying to pick myself up off the floor. The Sierra Nevada in my hand makes that difficult. From my vantage point down here it would appear that the running gods are being outmaneuvered by the almighty, mother nature.

My fingers remain crossed. But my spirit is beginning to fade.

June 24, 2008

Holy Smokes!

First Day in Squaw Valley. Not what I expected!

View From WS Trail 1 mile from The Village of Squaw Valley

As I sat in the back of the plane in my window seat, I glanced across the horizon when we started our decent into Sacramento. I nearly did a double take. Do I see what I think I see? What appeared out the window had me baffled. The sky was enveloped in a thick, grayish/brown layer of soot. Was it smog? Couldn’t be. Way too thick. Fog? No way. This was smoke folks. Thick smoke. The kind you’d find at a Cheech and Chong bong party.

First 3 miles of WS Trail. The Mountain in middle you can't see? 1 mile away.

Being from Orange County, CA, I’m not easily alarmed by a fire, or soot filled skies. Last October I had to train indoor on a treadmill two weeks before my 50 miler because of the dreadful fires near our home. So I decided to take this one in stride. I picked up my rental car and set forth on the road to Squaw Valley.

“There is a health advisory in place, people are advised to not engage in any physical activity” the radio man clamored. “The air quality is hazardous”. Oh boy. I continued down the road trying to find pockets of blue sky. But there were none.

As I drove along I decided to pull off the highway to stretch my legs. I happened on a ranger station. Big Bend ranger station in fact. The ranger explained to me the reason for all the smoke was that there were, as we spoke, 10 fires burning in Placer County, or more specifically in the forest area where Western States will be run this Saturday. These were set by hundreds of lightening strikes over last weekend. The good news, as I interpreted it, was all but two of these fires were “contained”. The other good news is that today is only Tuesday, and there are three days for this stuff to clear.

Once I arrived to my hotel in Squaw Valley, I hiked about half way up the face of the mountain, doing my best to stay on the WS trail. I stopped several times to look around and assess the sky, the wind, wondering along the way what the running gods might have in store for us come Saturday. As one must often do when mother nature rears her head, I continued along the trail with some solace that what ever happens, happens. Will the running gods speak to her? Will they convince her to calm these raging blazes and push this soot through with her winds? As I write this, I look outside at the graying sky from my bar stool in the Blue Coyote Sports Grill less than 100 yards from the start. I cross my fingers. Tip my Sierra Nevada. And hope these formidable forces of nature and fate take care of us runners this weekend.

June 21, 2008

Tapering Up High

Countdown…One Week to Western States!

Yes, I’m starting to feel a little anxious. What is one to do? I can’t run much because I’m tapering. Uh oh, does that mean I should starting worrying about the race? How hot will it be? What will I feel like at mile 80? Will I be able to run? How will my stomach perform? Will it help me along the way? How will my legs perform. Will they stand strong? Yes these thoughts have crossed my mind. At this point, though, I figure what happens, happens!

Here are a few photos of some hikes and runs I did this last week in the San Bernardino Mountains. My favorite was a 5 mile hike that took me to the foot of Sugerloaf Mountain, a dome shaped peak that stands an elusive 9,952’ feet (I made it to 9,000’). I took the 2E18 trail which approaches Sugerloaf from Bear Mountain ski area. This is really cool single track trail that gently rolls up and down from 8,500’ to over 9,000’ in elevation. It’s the highest I’ve found in the Big Bear area.

Sugerloaf Mountain (9,952') from the western ridge

Big Bear Lake in distance. Standing at 9,000' on 2E18 trail to Sugerloaf Mt.

All I can do now is reflect on the work I’ve done and the fun I’ve had along the way. I’m pretty confident that, regardless of what happens on race day, I will be able to look back on this experience with a smile. Its been a great ride!

Tree People...Run!

June 12, 2008

Running Central Park, New York

Start Spreading the News

When my plane touched down on the runway at Kennedy Airport, I glanced at my watch. Traveling cross country takes its toll on a runner. This trip was no exception. It was after midnight. And the trip to my hotel was far from over. After passing through a logistical labyrinth just to get from my seat on the airplane to my hotel, I finally laid my head down on the pillow. It was 3:30 am. My morning running plan was now officially scrapped. Yes, it looks like an evening run tomorrow.

So Many Runners

Central Park is one of my favorite places to run. There is an energy that seems to emanate from here, maybe because there are always so many runners in the park. I’ve run the park in the heat of summer and the coldest of winters. And I’ve never run alone here. With dozens of Central Park runs under my belt, I’m still exploring, still in awe of a scenery that lifts my senses every opportunity I get to come here.
Only In New York

Yesterdays run was no exception. As I strolled into the park an hour before dusk, I made my way toward the Jackie Onassis Reservoir. I meandered through the Sheep Meadow, The Boat House on the Lake, Belvedere Castle, and around Turtle Pond. Once to the reservoir, I began a series of intervals ranging from a half mile to a mile.
My legs turned in a relaxed rhythm as my mind wondered, back to my distant past. I pushed the pace. My legs responded. My stride lengthened. As I strode toward the last turn I remembered, long ago, when I was able to run with so little effort, so swift.
Its good to be back in the saddle.
Jackie Onassis Reservoir

Around the Reservoir At Dusk

June 8, 2008

San Diego 100

Congratulations to my friends that finished the San Diego 100 mile endurance run. Bill Ramsey finished 6th overall with a time of 23 hours and 29 minutes. This guy is a 50+ year old stud who simply keeps churning out great times and results. He also brews a mean beer I hear. I checked Bill's time as I was tipping beers in his honor yesterday, and he was WAY back in the pack. Things changed quickly though, as temperatures rose, Bill moved through the pack quickly and into 6th place overall. Bill has given me major input for WS 100, and the main focus is of course to run very conservatively during the first 50 to 60 miles.

Also completing their first 100 mile run where Gina Natera-Armenta (26:44), 1st overall woman! and Greg Hardesty 26:57. Good job guys, you rock! I've run with both Gina (Unknown ultra) and Greg (Saltwater and Unknown Ultra) and both of them are great talents. Gina picked up running less than just couple of years ago and Greg did his first ultra run (over 26.2) at Saltwater 5000 in 2006. These two have been gunning ever sense.

June 1, 2008

Mountain Miles

Saturday, May 31, 2008

No long story here. Just some glimpses of my run in the San Bernadino Mountains.

Total miles: 26.02.

Average elevation during run (est): 7,500'.

Total Climbing: approx. 3,200' (Big Bear Lake to top of Snow Summit 1,200', down Clarks Grade back up to Snow Summit 2,000').

Water consumed: 5 x 20 oz. bottles (had to lug 4 up the mountain!)

Total time: 5 hours, 55 minutes.

Est. Calories Burned: 3,968.

Muling Water


Mt. San Gorgonio

Clarks Grade from Hwy 38.

Clarks Grade from Clarks Grade