Nov 092012

“The word adventure has gotten overused. For me, when everything goes wrong, that’s when adventure starts” -Yvon Chouinard

the 68 mile long Backbone Trail stretches from Will Rogers State Historic Park to the Ray Miller trail

A couple of things:

I’m looking at what adventures/races the mountains and trails will bring my way in 2013. Angeles Crest 100 is a given, and is the focus. Other than that, several other possibilities: Ray Miller 50M (fun and local), Old Goat 50M (would make four years in a row), Backbone Trail (the inaugural race, or perhaps an unsupported fastpack), R2R2R (Grand Canyon rim to rim to rim), Bishop High Sierra races always looked cool as well. Anywho, plenty of time to ponder all that.

Here are a couple of cool projects of other people in contrasting mountains.

Kilian Jornet travels (quickly) over Mont Blanc from the Italian town of Courmayeur to Chamonix, France. So cool. Check out the video.

Nikki Kimball + the Long Trail record attempt= awesome.

Finding Traction Trailer from Partnership Productions on Vimeo.

 Posted by at 11:01 pm
Nov 052012

Approaching an aid station, mile 30

My first 100M finish is in the books. My running of Rio del Lago was born from the ashes of my AC100 DNF earlier this year. I listened to a very wise person, my wife Nicole, who said “You can’t wait until next year to try your next 100″. I had already signed up for the 2013 AC100 race, but had a great base of fitness that did not need to go to waste. After narrowing the possible races down, I picked RdL. It turned out to be a great choice.

I had a lot of support in NorCal for the race. Jimmy and Kate, of the SoCal Coyotes, are familiar with the course and coached me through training and the race itself. Stan (and his wife Mary), who live near the course hosted an amazing dinner for folks Friday. They also put me up for the night, and then Stan crewed and paced me for the day, night, and next day. Last but not least was Marshall who made the drive up the night before the race and slept about two hours in the back of a car before crewing and pacing for 30+ hours. Incredible. Tons of additional Coyote love up there including but not limited to Alison, Chandra, Kevin, Zanne, and Jason (the of whom are also responsible for most if not all of the photos in this post).

Now for a not so brief report, followed by stats. The first 11 miles or so I ran with LA area friends Amy, Grant, and Donnie. It was a nice relaxed pace with a good amount of cheery chatting by headlamp. From that point we spread out and I hung back going conservative and aiming for around a 30 hour pace. That would put me at 15 hours to get to Cool Fire Station at mile 50 when I picked up my first pacer.

Nothing special other than some scenic trail and meeting a few people for the next several sections. Eventually the heat of the day starting to take it’s toll. Luckily I had done some heat training in 160+ degree dry saunas leading up to the race. Ice bandana’s don’t hurt either. It was during this time that I caught up to Donnie at an aid station and we ran together to mile 50. Unfortunately he had to drop at that point due to a persistant injury. As for me, a change of socks was in order and I took my windshirt and pack with nutrition. Marshall and I were off to run into the night and would not see Stan for 20 miles. This was easily the slowest 20 miles of the race for me.

Everything started off okay leaving the halfway point of the race. I was a little concerned that I was through the first half in 13 hours, about 2 hours faster than I was going for. That could spell disaster later with dead legs that were asked to do too much too soon. It was maybe 4 miles into the loop with Marshall that my stomach took a turn for the worse and I had already reported to him that I was barely taking in fluid or calories so this was a full on tailspin. Marshall was a champion pacer encouraging me to eat the tiniest morsels of food every 10 minutes or so, but I could not make it more than 20-30 minutes before throwing it all up. We repeated this process as well as me swerving side to side on the trail from pure exhaustion and some hallucinations setting in. What seemed like a lifetime later we finally made it back to Cool Fire Station at mile 70. This turned into the defining pit stop of the race for me.

I thought for sure I would not be able to go on without crashing for a 20 minute power nap. The danger, of course, is that your body can cramp up and you may not start moving again. Also, the lack of calories and cool night air had made me cold to the point of uncontrollable shivering when I stopped at aid stations. I sat in a chair and someone brought a blanket for my legs, my fleece windstopper hat, and my micropuff pullover. Surprisingly this actually kept me warm even though I was not moving. Jimmy looked me in the eyes and asked, “What’s your mental state?” I replied honestly, “Solid.” I had every intention of getting to the finish line and stopping was not even a consideration, now that nap was out as well. During the next 10 minutes I ate a couple or pretzels, small cubes of watermelon, and drank 3-4 ounces of rocketfuel – I mean Mountain Dew. This was my first caffeine of the race and I rarely drink anything caffeinated in the real world so its effects were felt almost immediately.

I had 5 miles to go with Marshall until we got to No Hands Bridge where Stan would pick up the pacing duties and Marshall would crew. I wouldn’t say I moved well through this section, but it was certainly better. My stomach was still iffy but calories were staying down and that was a huge win. I was also no longer staggering or hallucinating which makes forward progress much easier.

I arrived at No Hands Bridge, mile 75, with plenty of time in the bank against the cutoff. I knew at this point as long as I keep moving I would make the 34 hour cutoff. Mile by mile I was getting in more calories and getting stronger. Up to mile 80 I was still fighting the rebelling stomach, but winning. Sometime around 80, the sun was coming back up and I was a new man. Somehow I also had fresh legs. I’m thinking it was the sloooow pace of the previous 25 or so. When I say fresh legs, I mean I felt like I just woke up and was a mile into a run. Stan had been encouraging me with the game of, “We’re going to run up to that next big tree”, and so on. Now I was running the ups, coasting the downs, and felt smooth on the flats. We starting passing people that looked like I felt overnight.

That last 20 miles were fun and felt easy. Stan asked if I had any music I wanted to listen to. I had my iPod with me since the start but never turned it on. I told him I would listen to one album once through. It was more of a celebration than an aid. I listened to the Matthew Good “Vancouver” album. Particularly motivating were the following lyrics from the song “Last Parade“. Vancouver was THE go to album during my 2010 thru-hike of the PCT.

“It feels like time to let it go,
It feels like time to break or show,
It feels like time to cut your brakes.
Shut your mouth, do something, anything”

After listening to the album, I put away the music and enjoyed Stans company and the scenery which was now in full morning light. The final aid stations clicked off the chart and my legs continued to enjoy the final miles to the finish line. About a mile from the finish Kevin met us and “ran” best he could while taking pictures. He completed the gnarly Bear 100 one week previous.

I coasted the last stretch savoring the approach to the finish line. Cheers from friends and the Coyote tunnel of love (see video at bottom of post) directed me in. With that, 30 hours and 39 minutes and one belt buckle later, a long run came to an end.

Miles run: 101 (official race distance)
Finish time: 30 hours 39 minutes and some odd seconds
Race low point: 5+ hours of nausea, vomiting, and sleep deprived hallucination in the cold of the night
Race high point: experiencing the support of friends, strangers, and crew/pacers all day-night-and the next day
Biggest concern: leaving Knickerbocker aid station for a 9 mile night section with nothing in my stomach, really freaking cold, hallucinating, and not being able to keep eyes open, and vandals removing course markings
Favorite hallucination: a loaf of garlic bread on the trail at 2AM
Tunes: ~mile 80 I listened to the Matthew Good “Vancouver” album once through (compulsory listening on the PCT)
Shoes: one pair for the duration of the race, my trusty Inov8 Roclite 315’s. No foot issues.
Socks: 3 or 4 pairs of Drymax TrailLite 1/4 length. I repeat, no foot issues.
Nutrition: First 40+ miles was Vitargo, by the last 20 miles it was pretzels, banana, an occasional bite of PB&J, and soda
Electrolytes: started with saltstick, then elete, then gatorade and pedialyte, for the final miles it was HEED
Trail wipeouts: 0 (not bad considering the exhaustion and stumbling overnight)
Recovery: fantastic, VERY little soreness, huge appetite, mentally strong

Click the picture below to view the entire album.

2012 Rio del Lago 100
2012 Rio del Lago 100Oct 6, 2012Photos: 18

 Posted by at 1:58 pm
Sep 282012

Let’s quickly catch up shall we? When I last posted it was around the time of AC. Well, that didn’t go as planned and I DNF’d around mile 40. Without getting into the details/excuses for not making it to the finish line, I’ll tell you that I am signed up for 2013 and looking forward to the challenge.

Also of note, I will be towing the line at the Rio del Lago 100 in a next weekend. Training has gone well, and I’m excited for a chance to run on new (to me) trails. Okay, there you have it.

We’ll be in touch soon.

P.S. It’s going to be warm the next few days on the Rio course. It should be cooler by next weekend, but I guess even in October you can never get enough heat training.

 Posted by at 9:53 pm
Jul 192012

The drop bags are prepared. The crew materials are organized. Meetings with pacers and crew complete. The checklist has one thing left. Run.

Two days until the 2012 Angeles Crest 100 mile endurance run. If you wish to track my self imposed suffering starting Saturday at 5am through Sunday at 2pm –

See you on the other side.

 Posted by at 1:19 pm
Jul 112012

altitude training in Zermatt, Switzerland

AC100 is in 10 days. The bulk of the physical training is done and taper is in full effect. A bit of heat training remains in the next few days. Yesterday was my last “speed” workout for the foreseeable future. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be and am now planning logistics like drop bags etc. Last but not least is the mental preparation. I’m more excited than scared, which may be foolish but I’ll take it.

Along with a few fellow Coyotes, I’ve logged about 200 miles on the AC course in the past couple months along with several ascents of Mt. Baldy and various runs in the Santa Monica Mountains.

The most recent training included some epic running and hiking miles in the mountains of Switzerland.

A couple pictures below…

 Posted by at 3:06 pm
Jun 062012

45 days until the Angeles Crest 100 mile endurance run…

10,000 feet on Mt. Baldy

Training has been solid. I had some high miles and high altitude weeks. A few weekends ago I met up with others including Stitch to do the Chantry to finish section. Great heat training and fun to do that stretch on fresh legs (rather than 75 miles into the race). The next weekend Kam, Cassidy, Christian, Balmore at Baldy Village to do the Bear Canyon route (peak and back). Dom, Chris, Jessie, and Erik were there to do the same route up (then on to Guffy CG and back). It was good to see those guys and get a briefing on the route since none of our group had ever been up there.

We had a great time exploring the new trail and running through the clouds. It got colder as we climbed and there was some ice on the sparse trees. Eventually we were above the clouds and got some views. Also, it never got so cold that my trusty windshirt couldn’t handle it. The next day was a great 31 miles primarily on the AC course between Islip and Chilao.

Mixed in the training has been a little bit of road running and some nice jaunts along the boardwalk. Mostly it has been the mountians…you know train for what you are going to race.

Next up is more Mt. Baldy action for the 10k+ altitude and steep climbing, a couple rounds of Chilao to Chantry runs and generally ramping up the mileage. Three more big training weeks before things start to taper for race day. So far so good.

sunset after a long day on the course

 Posted by at 4:00 pm
May 142012

Welcome to Lake Hughes

There were 25 DNF’s at this years Leona Divide 50M. I was not one of them. That is to say, I finished, but it could have been in a more glorious fashion! And now for a brief account of the day and some pictures.

The alarm woke me up a little before 3am Saturday morning and thirty minutes later I was on the road. Just after 4am I met up with Stitch in a random parking lot that he found on Google maps as a location to ditch a vehicle and carpool the rest of the way. Once we got to the Lake Hughes Community Center I could not keep count of how many friends were out there running and supporting runners.

Pre race Coyote pack

The first several miles is mostly climbing up the Leona truck trail to the Pacific Crest Trail. Gareth was on hand to photograph all through the day including a ton of shots at the finish line. Check out his work here.

climbing the Leona truck trail

The plan was to take it easy the first 35 or so (to have something left for the last 15) and test out some new nutrition that I might use for AC in July. I had a great time chatting and joking around with Stitch for 30 miles or so.

who is that behind me racing in sandals?!

All fun and games

After that (in hindsight) I started to get low on electrolytes and did nothing to remedy it. Big mistake. I did have the pleasure of going through the Coyote 80’s aerobics themed station twice (out and back course) which temporarily helped out. Especially the high fives and ice water dumped on my head. No, seriously, it was amazing!

prepping to work the aid station

After 42 miles with Stitch we parted ways. He was feeling good and able to power up a climb where I was crippled to a crawl. Because of the electrolyte error, fluid sloshed around in my stomach and was not absorbing. A few on the go stomach emptying sessions (puke sessions) helped clear that up and I was able to go at a decent pace again. Unfortunately I was unable to consume calories or fluid after that so it was a little rough.

elevation profile

At the last aid station I downed a whopping 30-40 calories in the form of a third of a gel and a swig of water with a crushed saltstick capsule. That was enough to get up the last hill and amble down to the end. Near the finish, there was tons of cheering and a Coyote tunnel of love to greet me. Somehow I squeaked out a 50M PR as well.

a little love before the finish line

All in all, it was a great day. Amazing trails courtesy of a whole lot of PCT, fantastic volunteers, and a very well organized race. My biggest regret was missing out on ADZPCTKO (Annual Day Zero Pacific Crest Trail Kick Off) as it took place the same weekend. Huge props to Stitch for finishing his first 50M on virtually no training and in his killer homemade Luna sandals.

Take home points:

-keep up on electrolytes fool! I ended up losing 11 pounds due to the stomach emptying and being unable to replenish.
-the nutrition fueling plan is looking pretty good
-gear (shoes, socks, shorts, jersey, etc.) was solid
-running an ultra on 3 hours of sleep is hard, but stopping to throw up on the side of the road on the way home is way tougher

So that’s that. I’ve been sort of looking forward to getting Leona behind me on the schedule. It completes my roller coaster of three 50 milers in three months, but more importantly I have a solid base and can now focus on the 10 weeks ahead which lead into AC. I’m very excited to get back to Wrightwood this year, and to cross the finish in Loma Alta Park.

 Posted by at 1:09 pm
Apr 022012

In 2007 I thru-hiked the 2175 mile Appalachian Trail. That is where my love for endurance activity was born, which of course led to running ultramarathons. Of course? I had never run more than 3 miles in my life. Of course it was only natural that now my goal was to cover 100 miles of mountains in one continuous run. Of course. Then in 2010 I thru-hiked the 2650 mile Pacific Crest Trail. It was before that hike that I reached out to Adam Bradley aka Krudmeister. He was kind enough to provide advice and gave me a big mental boost on what was sure to be an epic adventure.

BLC to the Bering Sea

So who is Krudmeister? Well, he is the man who is about to set off on that he is calling BLC to the Bering Sea. Bike. Hike. Paddle. Three modes of human powered transportation to go from Reno, NV (Biggest Little City) to the Bering Sea. His website outlines the adventure. Go there to check out the details. Leave comments. Follow the journey.

Also, for a great podcast interview on Krudmeister, go HERE.

If you still aren’t hooked, here are the numbers.

Bike 2,847 miles
Hike 33 miles
Canoe 1,858 miles
Total 4,738 miles
 Posted by at 12:47 pm
Mar 292012

I just did some quick research and found that today is three years since my first ultra. Time flies… I didn’t need to look up the fact that this year was my third Old Goats 50 mile run. I wouldn’t keep going back if it weren’t a great event on fun (technical) trails.

I stayed with family before and after the race as has been the tradition for this race since it saves me quite a bit of drive time on both ends. After a good pre-race strategy call with coach Jimmy it was time to get some sleep around 10:30pm Friday. 4am came quickly. Time to get up.

Around 6am I was parked at Lower Bluejay Campground, stuck the Adventure Pass for parking in the windshield and headed for the registration. Pin the race number to the shorts, dump the race schwag back in the car, say hello to Chris, Robert W, Deb, and a few others.

Chris and Jorge jump off the line for a little run...

0-21 Candy Store Loop

RD Steve Harvey counted down and sent us on our way. First would be the Candy Store loop. A 21 mile lollypop loop that put us back to the start finish before heading out on a different set of trails for the rest of the day. I started conservatively and felt good. Around eight miles in I saw Pedro and Chris standing at a turn in the trail taking pictures and cheering runners as they went by. That was a pretty cool unexpected sight as I think we were miles from the next aid station. The rest of the loop was pretty uneventful and went smooth. I made sure not to push and was still a bit ahead of where I thought I would be in terms of time.

photo: Pedro M. somewhere around mile 8

21-29 to Holy Jim…the canyon

After a quick stop at the car to load up my bottles with HEED and grab some shot bloks I headed out for the next section. There is a good climb before the huge drop into Holy Jim. Everything was still feeling good and I went back and forth with Andy, Catra, and a couple others which helped me keep a comfortable but honest pace. I was also sure to concentrate on form and not blow up on the down hills as Jimmy told me to make sure I had something left to run all of the downs after Santiago.

photo: Victor Tello (taken during CS loop?)

29-37 canyon to Santiago Peak

This section is the big climb. It goes on, and on, and on. It’s nasty because in the seven or so miles you gain somewhere around 4000 feet. What that means is lots of it is very runnable, but if you’re not super fit you need to be careful to avoid getting lured into burning up on it and trashing yourself for the last 13 miles, a lot of which is downhill. I saw Deb volunteering on the way up which was pretty cool as it is the same point in the race that I met her two years ago when we were both running.

photo: Deb A. least technical trail of the day

This time much of the climb was with my new friend Sheryl who said this race is harder than the many Ironman triathlons she had competed in. Yikes! It was cool to see little remnants of snow on the way to the peak, but nothing like the slush and fog that were there last year. Unfortunately, later in the climb my stomach started to rebel a bit and was not as eager to accept calories. Up to that point I had kept a good schedule with caloric and electrolyte intake as well as water…but that was changing. Water was still easy, but the rest was a chore.

37-45 to Horsethief trail

The views continued to be incredible and my stomach continued to be angry with me on the way down from the peak. I needed to make sure to keep as smooth as possible and sneak in whatever calories I could, probably 80-110 calories an hour. I also had to resort to biting open the electrolyte capsules and washing it down with water since I could no longer swallow them without gagging them back up. I was in full on maintenance mode, but still running, mentally clear, and well within the cutoff so finishing was not a concern. Since I didn’t know how long the last miles would take I grabbed my headlamp from the drop at Bear Springs and my windshirt as it was getting a little chilly even with the sun still out.

45-50 the final push

It was at this point I saw that if I pushed hard I should be able to pull off a PR for the course. The last five miles were easily my fastest of the day and I crossed the line with a new PR just under 12:18. Afterwards I chatted a bit and  bundled up as it was getting chilly and dark. I also ran into Dom and Katie as they were leaving and got some good nutrition tips. Then, I had the pleasure of talking recovery and other adventures with Tatu Joe who recently finished up an insane trip deep in Florida wilderness. A great day indeed.

I know I’m capable of a faster 50 miler, but felt good about how that day on that course panned out. I learned more nutrition lessons, covering the miles was very manageable, no injuries. Yesterday I ran a few flat miles with the Coyotes and felt good. In another week I’ll pick up the training for the Leona Divide 50M which takes place April 28th. It will be Stitch’s first 50M and I’m excited to run with him again.


Here is the super condensed version of this post: “I ran Old Goats over the weekend. Went pretty well. PR’d. I’m recovering well and running Leona next month.”

 Posted by at 4:56 pm
Mar 212012

No, I didn’t run it, but Nicole and I got out to mile 22 and cheered on runners for a few hours this past Sunday. It’s inspiring to see so many people competing and supporting the runners. Great job everyone! Here’s a few pictures from our adventure.

Apologies for the not so awesome photo gallery interface. I’ll get around to putting something better in place. Any suggestions for clean and functional WordPress galleries?

In closing, a video for your enjoyment (it has nothing to do with the marathon…or LA for that matter).

 Posted by at 1:23 pm