March 28, 2010

Endurance is Patience Concentrated

No Hands Bridge -- Mile 96.8 of the Western States 100 Mile Run

Today marked the end of my first 80 mile week for this year.  A sweet milestone, yes, but also a reminder of the demanding road to come.  From where I am today, all I can say as I look ahead to the next couple of months is bring it on!

It's taken a while, this build-up to my current level of endurance.  Months in fact.  I wouldn't do it any other way.  Endurance is Patience Concentrated.  When I read this quote by Thomas Carlyle (1795-1891), I surmised this man understood what I finally have begun to grasp.  Give it the time, and the time will come.

The will to finish means nothing without the will to prepare.

March 23, 2010

Close Encounter--Western Diamondback

Dear fellow trail runners, its snake season! Beware.  I stumbled upon this Western Diamondback Rattlesnake this afternoon on a solo run in Blackstar Canyon.  I didn't even notice him until he sent a shudder down my spine with his intense rattle.  I was only a few feet away when I heard his warning and it scared the hmm hmm out of me.

Unlike other rattlers which can be lethargic or non-aggressive, the Western Diamondback will coil, rattle fearsomely, and stand its ground when threatened. And that he did! It bites hundreds of people a year, more than any other venomous snake in the United States. It hunts from late evening to early morning, crawling either sinuously like other snakes or rectilinearly like a caterpillar.

According to, "the Western Diamondback, especially the juvenile, often comes under attack itself. It may become a meal for an eagle, a hawk, a roadrunner or a wild turkey; for a kingsnake or a whipsnake; or for a coyote, a fox, a badger or a feral hog. Regarded as an enemy and a threat, it may be trampled to death by a deer, an antelope, a cow, a horse or even a sheep. The Western Diamondback lives in a rough neighborhood."

I think I'll be paying a little more attention to the trail in front of me now that it's snake season.  

March 20, 2010

Training Race #2 -- Rucky Chucky 50k

Getting to the finish line.  One foot in front of the other.  Forget everything else.  Just keep moving forward.  It’s the experience that matters! That is my race report for today. 

More importantly, I missed my flight and now I’m sitting in the bar at the Sacramento Airport waiting for the late flight back to the OC.  Problem is my running shorts under my pants are still filled with discarded half-full gel packs. I totally forgot about them!    Segue: I just got to see the biggest upset for the year in college basketball.  Northern Iowa spanked number one ranked Kansas!  I’m always rooting for the underdog, and those dogs got their due. 

Two beers and a bloody down…What if the late flight is delayed?  

March 18, 2010

Western States 2010--100 Days and Counting

Here it comes. Like a freight train at night; careening rapidly down the track in the silent darkness.  I'm on the track, in its path.  I can see it, in the distance, its tiny lamp, glimmering.  But it's getting closer.  I begin to feel my time dwindling. Closer still.  Now I hear the hum of its steel lurching down the track.
The Western States is in 100 days, and now I begin to feel my time dwindling.  Am I prepared?  Have I been doing enough to get ready? What should I be doing over the next 30 to 90 days so I don't get run over?  As I stand "on the track" here is what I see....

Training to date:  overall its been on target, not stellar, but not bad.  My miles are a little less than ideal to date, but I'm trying to emphasize quality a little more than quantity. Hills (more of 'em) have been the main difference over last year.  My weight is right on track compared to last year, even a little more ideal, which is good since I want to run 5 lbs lighter than last year.  That will put me around 157/158 lbs, the same weight I was at 30 years old when I grabbed my marathon pr.  Right now I'm 164. 

Training Next 100 days: Now is the time I really have to start to executing on my plan.  There will be some changes over last year.  First, I want to keep my weekly milage in the same range, peeking around 90 miles per week, but focus more on race day conditions.  After battling my quads for the last 30 miles in last year's race, I plan to focus much more on running downhill.  Once during the week and at least once on the weekend I will be doing downhill workouts.  One or more mile long downhill intervals will be the focus, and I plan on running in the Santa Ana mountains every other week.  I'll also be supplementing this with weight lifting twice per week, again with an emphasis on building quad strength.    

Another part of my plan I'm on track with is to complete four races leading up to Western States, two more than last year.  I completed the Malibu Creek 50k two weeks ago, and I'm running the Rucky Chucky Roundabout 50k this weekend.  Malibu was a gritty course, with nearly 6,000 feet of elevation gain, right in line with Western States.  Rucky Chucky will be run on the later stage of the actual Western States course, a great opportunity get more experience on race day trail.  I'm planning on running Leona Divide 50 Mile in April, my third year, and possibly the Bishop High Sierra 50k or something similar in May.  That will put me at 4 races leading up to Western States. 

There is more, but these are the pillars that I'm building now that I can hear the steel lurching down the track.

March 14, 2010

Spring Rushes In

"Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."
Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Once in a while on long runs I find myself just staring at the scenery around me.  Today was one of those days.  It made for an easy run.  

California Fan Palm and Wildflowers 
Upper Newport Bay Eco Reserve

Ice Plant 

      Southern View -- Upper Newport Bay Eco Reserve

March 8, 2010

Malibu Creek 50k

Today was my first race of the season, the second 50k I’ve ever run, and a good test for my training regime over the last couple of months.  It was also a great effort for some major hill climbing, waist-high creek crossings, and some very muddy trail sections.

Jeff P joined me at 5:30 a.m. for the 75 minute drive from Orange County to Malibu Creek State Park.  As we drove under a foreboding sky, brilliant white-topped mountains loomed to the east, a reminder of yet another storm that doused our soggy coast.  Clouds lingered and I wondered if we would be spared the rain’s wrath.  We exited the freeway, and then decided it was perfect timing to pull over for a hot cup of black coffee under the golden arches.    

Malibu Creek 50k is one of thirty races put on by the Pacific Coast Trail Runs (if there is a business model to make money in ultra running, this might be the winner!).  Anyway, Malibu Creek is a formidable course with over 5,900’ of elevation gain that consists of two loops with single track trail limited to the first couple of miles and fire roads making up the balance.  Not my first choice of terrain, but what this course lacked in comfort, it more than made up for in grit. 

Following a gentle, almost sleepy couple of miles after the start, the course turns up, and up, and up.  This was when the runners began to separate. 

As I was huffing up the first climb, somewhere between mile 5 and my anaerobic threshold, a youngish runner started to pass me.  As he ran buy me he said something about having to “defend his title”, suggesting he was last year’s winner.  Cool, I thought, but last year’s race didn’t have the same line up as this year.  It occurred to me that this young runner who thought he was racing to win from the back was actually loosing ground to Evan Hone who was in the front, and the ultimate winner of the race.   

During the two six mile ascents, it wasn’t enough to simply put my head down and grind out the miles.  I tried to keep my feet turning over quickly, with rapid, sure steps.  Developing and maintaining a rhythm seemed to get me on my way up these slopes.  Today I learned a little more about my body’s limits. I’ve been training on hills more than usual lately and it has paid dividends.  Listening to my body rather than relying solely on a heart rate monitor allowed me to push through several hours on these hills at or around my anaerobic threshold.  I felt good and in control throughout the entire event which I'm pleased with since I ran all the climbs.  

The descents were a little more technical than expected, with fire roads washed out from the rains, but all part of the experience.  As we made our way down the first “decent” section of the course, I couldn’t stop often enough to scrape the mud off my shoes.  Can I lug this stuff around for another hour or two? 

I reached the finish line in five hours and twelve minutes, 6th place overall and 2nd in my age group.  Overall, a run to remember with some great climbs, great views and excellent terrain to endure.