May 16, 2010

Get'n It Done At Six Years Old

Charlotte and her dad crossing the finish 

At the 
start of yesterdays 5k run/walk, throngs of kids, parents, dogs, strollers and razors converged on a four foot wide sidewalk.  Yet, before most even crossed the starting line, a little girl with blond hair wearing a white tee shirt was out in front pushing the pace.  "Wait up", I heard Abby saying to her cousin Charlotte.  Abby and I ran for a while until we caught up with her cousin.  Then, like children, we started skipping! And a tune entered my mind.  And we were singing...Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou; Lou, Lou, Skip to my Lou, Skip to my Lou my Darlin!

Things started heating up a bit along the course, so we stopped at an aid station for some cold water and I poured a little over Charlotte's head to keep her cool.   The volunteers were great and had stations set up at three different spots along a pretty course in El Dorado Park.  

We moved along well through the back stretch.  Then, around the half way point, I looked over my shoulder and saw a little guy approaching quickly.  Sure enough this little guy no more than 3 and half feet tall danced by us with his grandfather to take the lead.  But Charlotte remained undaunted.  She continued to run through the hottest section. I grabbed a few cuties at the next aid station and handed her some bite size pieces.  

Then, just as things started to get really tough, Charlotte's uncle Al joined us for the final mile and half. Jokes and behavior only a six year old could appreciate ensued.  Our pace quickened.  Al and his wife April helped organize the event to raise money for a cure for Tuberous Sclerosis, which afflicts their daughters Abby and Amelia.  What's amazing is they made over $100,000 for the event!  Congrats Al and Apes.    

As we rounded the corner to the finish line, Charlotte kicked it into another gear and made a bee line to the finish.  What a race!  Six years old and get'n it done in 44 minutes.  Rock it Char!  Thanks to all the volunteers, especially Al and Apes, for putting on a fun and successful event!                          

May 9, 2010

Race Report -- PCT 50 Mile 2010

As the sun rose over the Laguna Mountains yesterday morning, I was locked in stride with a pack of runners climbing the long, meandering single track of the PCT 50.  After crossing Kitchen Creek road we pushed upward more, then turned northward.  As Moby's "Whispering Wind" played in my ipod, I looked across the sun-drenched Cameron Valley that appeared before me like a freshly painted mosaic. This, I thought to myself, is why I run.   

The PCT 50 mile is run on deceptively difficult terrain.  Packing mostly rock strewn trails, heat, long climbs and 6,000' elevation, the PCT 50 easily trumps the Leona Divide 50 on a scale of difficulty.   But what this course lacks in comfort, it surely makes up in splendor.  Dramatic and panoramic views lurk throughout this mountainous run, constantly beckoning runners for a precarious glimpse as they run along the rocky trail.

My pack of runners stayed together until the first aid station at Cibbets Flat campground, but started to splinter as we made our way up the steep fire road leaving the aid station.  We continued climbing until around mile 14, where we pierced 6,000' elevation.  Knowing I was going to be running at this elevation for several hours to come, I slowed things down a bit.  Long runs like this can bring on a host of ups and downs, both mental and physical.  I stayed focused on my water, salts and gels, consuming each meticulously on the hour and half hour. It was good to see Scott Mills at the Todd's Cabin aid station.  We traded a few words about Rob M and probable snow conditions at this year at Western States.  

As the day wore on, this trail took its toll on me.  I went down face first after kicking an invisible rock around mile 28, punched a huge boulder with my right hand to break a free fall around mile 40, and rolled my ankle a couple of times (ok, this is getting old).  After last year's Western States ankle episode, I'll admit I have a creeping sense of paranoia about the subject.  Are my ankles at the mercy of every trail I run? I have a sneaking suspicion that the cause might well be the lofty soles of my Asics trail 2140s.   They're acting more as rickety podiums than soles that ground my feet on uneven terrain.  Next step?  Check out the Inov 8 line which carries a boatload of stable, low-profile shoes designed for trail running in every condition.  More to come on this.

Working your way up in elevation on an out and back run like this would lead you to think it's a quick way back.  But don't be fooled.  Most of the single track is riddled with rocks, making it difficult to get a rhythm on the long 14 mile decent.  But as I neared the finish line, I knew this was a good day for me.  My homework is beginning to pay off, allowing me to run all the climbs, stay on a tempo on the flats and downs, and  capture 4th place overall.

"I stand in the way of the things I can be" 

...Moby, Whispering Wind  

Today I stood aside.      

May 2, 2010

Kids Will be Kids

As runs go, I’ll chalk today’s up as an ad-hoc-zany-security-breach kind of run.  Ad hoc because when Rob and I started we had no idea where we were going. Crazy?  Maybe. But I love this kind of run.  It reminds me of when I was a kid.  Leave the house and just go.  Make it up on the fly.  Explore.  The only objective for me was to put down 23 miles.  Didn’t matter how.  Didn’t matter where.  Just get thru 23 miles…to get my 90 miles for the week.

Zany because we crossed over the soft grass of suburbia, in and out of a university campus, along green and yellow hills glistening with spring flora, over fences guarded by a city cop, into a gated community with 24 hour security, thru skin piercing thickets and loose scree, onto a 65 mph toll road, then back!  But I love this kind of run. It reminds me that I’m still a kid.  And this is MY playground! 

Security breach because we jumped a fence right in front of an Irvine cop!  The cop was out of his vehicle.  As he stood waiting for us to pass by, Rob simply said “we’re going in”.  “In there?”, the cop replied, referring to the closed park on the other side of the fence littered with no trespassing signs.  “Yup”, Rob replied, and then he simply jumped over the fence and started running up the trail.  “WTF”?  I’m thinking to myself.  I followed my partner in crime over the fence, just waiting for a yell from the blue man for us to get out of there.  But there was nothing.   Not even a peep. 

As we hurried up the trail, we stopped for a second to see if we were being followed.  Again, nothing.  Laughter ensued, with a few comments from Rob about how police have better things to do than chase down ultra runners.  But our jovial jog soon turned sour when we heard the sound of the cop’s SUV pulling up behind us.  Damn!  We almost pulled it off.  The boy-wonder-looking sergeant kindly asked us to turn our tails around and go back to where we came from.  Rob’s fence hopping gusto quickly turned to diplomacy as he tried to rationalize with boy-wonder why he should let us proceed.  “Proceed?  I could site you guys right now”. 

But I love this kind of run.  It reminds me that kids will be kids.