Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Pleasant Pennsylvania Run

I'm writing this from Pennsylvania on my father-in-laws lap top computer on this the last day of 2006. I had intended orginally to compile the year end stats today but hadn't really considered the fact that all my data is on my desktop computer at home in Californina. So the big year end wrap up will folllow sometime next weekend.

Last Friday we flew non stop from LAX to Philiadelphia on Southwest Airlines. My wife found very good fares that we couldn't turn down and if you've ever flown Southwest you know that a non stop flight across the US is unheard of. My in-laws live in Annville near Hershey and Harrisburg, PA. Friday night we pick up pizza at CC's Pizza and then drove over to Hershey to see Sweet Lights, a drive through Christmas light show. The lights were really cool. There were some fun animated displays of roller coasters, snowball fights, etc. I took some pics but will have to wait until the return home to download them.

Saturday we drove to Stamford, CT to have lunch with some relatives. Getting to Stamford is a 3.5 hour drive through PA, New Jersey, New York and then finally CT. We had lunch at Pellici's. I had the tortellini pesto; wonderful. I've waited at least 8 years to return to Stamford just for the tortellini pesto.

Today I was able to go for my final run of 2006. My in-laws live in a small, quite, rural community so I was able to just run out the front door and head down the road. I saw a total of 14 cars in the 6 miles. I ran out their little neighborhood, took a left on Louser Rd and the next left on Mount Pleasant Road. It was 42° and cloudy when I left the house at 11:30 a.m. I wore shorts and a long sleeve, My father-in-law thought I was crazy going out in shorts. At first my hands were freezing. It was a little windy. It took a little longer than normal to warm up. I was starting to think that maybe my father-in-law was right. When the road turned south, the wind was at my back and the comfort level improved significantly. When I hit Route 322, I turned around and went back.

Later today we visited Chocolate World for the Really Big 3D Show and the Chocolate Tour. After each attraction you get a free piece of Hershey's chocolate. The end of the tour conveniently dumps you into the biggest chocolate gift shop you've ever seen. We spent nearly $60 on chocolate. Later tonight after dinner and board games we may go over to Lebanon to watch the bologna drop. That's not something you see everyday.

Today is the first official day of training for the next marathon but with the travel I may postpone things a week. I would like to explore the Lebanon Valley Rails to Trails and some trails in Mount Gretna before we leave if it fits into the schedule.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

22 Mile Legs

We enjoyed absolutely beautiful weather through Christmas. And yes, Michelle, I did get to go for another sleeveless Bonelli run between opening gifts and breakfast in the morning and our Christmas dinner in the late afternoon. It was wonderful. I really enjoyed the mid 70's temperatures. I just threw on the shorts and shirt and got the run in without any second guessing clothing layers like Saturday. I did the loop counterclockwise this time and felt much better than the day before, finishing in 48:39.

I've wanted to incorporate a map into this site somehow. I was thinking as a header with the states I've done colored in but I didn't really know how to do it. I came across a cool alternative on Scott Dunlap's blog and borrowed it. Check out the "My Maps" link on the right.

One thing on my Christmas wish list was entry into the Eugene Marathon and my lovely wife came through for me. I'm officially registered and have been assigned bib number M509. So far that is all that's on my calendar for 2007. I started 2006 with only SEAFAIR and ended up with three other marathons and miscellaneous other races so I'm not too concerned. Dr John and his wife are trying to convince me to sign up for a couple of other races, but I really want to concentrate on qualifying for Boston at Eugene.

Christmas's Bonelli run was the third day in a row of running. I haven't done that for nearly a month, since before Tecumseh. I took Tuesday off in keeping with the reduced year end thing I've got going, but I ran tonight. The same loop from home I did last Thursday. Boy, did I feel sluggish. My legs were toast from the very beginning. They felt like they feel at the 22 mile mark of a marathon. I really wanted to walk, but I wouldn't allow myself. I figured I could muddle through 4.5 miles one way on the other. I made it but never really felt the rhythm. My overall pace was 8:45, which I guess isn't that bad, but.... I think this is just my usual post marathon slow down. I may only get one more run in before the end of the year so that should give my legs a little bit of down time. I'm going to have to be careful ramping back up after January 1.

Friday we are traveling to Pennsylvania to spend a week with my father-in-law and his wife. No marathons that weekend in PA or I might have signed up. I may get a run in on New Year's Eve so I'll wait and tally up 2006 then.

Just in case I don't make it back here before the New Year, I wish you all the very best in 2007. Set some high goals and go after them.

"There's no point in not trying. " - a wise 7 yr old -Thanks, Sarah. I hope you don't mind me borrowing your quote.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Words of Wisdom

I was looking through my log book for a specific route and I just read the quote of the week for the week between Tecumseh and Otter Creek.
"You have to forget your last marathon before you try another." - Frank Shorter
I should have paid more attention to that a couple of weeks ago.

I found this weeks quote to be appropriately timed.
"Run slowly, run daily, drink moderately and don't eat like a pig." - Dr. Ernest van Aaken
(Bold type is mine). I've got the run slowly and drink moderately down pat. I need some help with the run daily and an intervention on the eating like a pig part.

I committed to running less through the end of the year. This coupled with the eating has the potential to be a very dangerous decision. I can definitely feel the difference on my recent runs. I can account for some of the sluggishness from the recent marathons and maybe some to the travel schedule but the the rest is clearly attributed to the ginormous (gigantic + enormous) quantities of food I've consumed of late. I've noticed a definite bounce around the middle and on Saturday's run my shorts were riding up in places they've never ridden up before. If I'm going to achieve my goals, I've got to get serious about food again. I know I've gotten lazy, but dang that sweet stuff tastes so good.

I ran three days this week, true to my scaled back plan for a total of 20.5 miles.

Wednesday I ran a 4.5 mile loop beginning at my front door. Back in 2004 this was a regular run for me. I checked back through my log this year and I've only run it twice, once in August and once in February.

Saturday, I met up with the Cruisers at Huntington Beach. We were a very small group, just four of us. But we were joined by 6 runners and 4 walkers of the 6:42 group. The weather turned out to be fabulous. Before I left I checked the weather and the chart. The weather called for 50 warming to 60°F by 10:00. I decided on a long sleeve tech shirt. When I first got started my hands were cold, but I've learned that gloves are not necessary after about the first mile (even in the 30's at Tecumseh). A couple of miles into the run, I wished I had chosen a short sleeve instead. The day was so wonderful. The sky was blue. We could see Catalina Island off the coast and lightly snow dusted mountains inland. As the run went on I even ended up seeing more than one guy runner shirtless and girls in jog bras. I felt pretty silly in my long sleeves. I ran most of the time with Jim and Randy and put in 11 miles at 8:44 pace overall.

I was surprised later that day about how sore my quads were. This was unexpected based on the morning run on flat land at a relatively relaxed pace and it seemed to come on pretty quickly. I'm not sure what was going on there.

Sunday, I hopped over to Bonelli (where else would I go on a Sunday?) in the afternoon to take advantage of the warm, sunny weather. The temps were in the high 70's and I pulled a sleeveless out for the occasion. It's Christmas Eve, December 24 and technically winter, running in a sleeveless tech shirt. How can you complain about that? My legs were still pretty fatigued. I walked a couple of the hills at the end of the loop and finished the 5 miles in 50:00. I didn't see another soul in the park, but I arrived back at the parking lot at the same time as another runner. He must have been elsewhere in the park. A third guy was just taking off into the park as I cooled down.

Last night we were over at my mother-in-laws for my wife's sister birthday. Tonight we are spending a quite evening at home with pasta for dinner. We'll go to Christmas Eve service at 11:00 and then home and into bed so Santa can come.

I usually like to get a run in on Holidays. The weather is expected to be beautiful for Christmas. I can already hear Bonelli calling me.

Merry Christmas to all. Isaiah 9:6-7

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

He Cooks

Unlike Saturday, Sunday morning broke bright and sunny. Bonelli beckoned me to come play. I hadn't been home on a Sunday morning in a couple of weeks so I opted for making breakfast and a leisurely morning before church instead. Mr Culinary Student came home for Christmas break early in the afternoon and we all went to pick out our Christmas tree. I pulled the lights and ornaments out of storage, draped some lights on the tree and headed off to Bonelli before the sun faded away. I did my usual 5 mile loop, counter clockwise in 48:18. While I was gone Lisa put the myriad of balls and ornaments on the tree. My snail medal from Saturday's Jingle Bob was front and center. The ornament we picked up in Seattle this summer was also prominently displayed.

Tyler told us about his final cooking assignment that brought his grade into the A range. We convinced him that he needed to cook it for us. So off to the store he went with Mom and returned with onions, carrots, celery and two whole chickens. He cut up the chickens and made chicken stock with the veggies. He started with about 2 gallons of water and over the next 24 hours that was reduced to 2 cups that went into a rice pilaf and another very concentrated cup that served as the glaze. Monday night we enjoyed pan roasted "airline" chicken breasts with rice pilaf. Tyler spent a better part of the afternoon preparing this. I think he dirtied almost every sauce pan we had in the process. He even got out the white plates and used his presentation skills to plate the food. He mounded the pilaf just so on the center of the plate and used a towel to clean away any stray bits, then the chicken breast was placed atop the rice. It looked good and tasted good. This was his first official meal for us. I think he got a sense of satisfaction out of doing this and we certainly appreciated the effort he put into it. I'm really glad that he seems to be enjoying his schooling.

The remainder of the week so far has been spent nibbling away at bake goods that were meant to last a week and are basically already gone at this point. I certainly picked the wrong time of the year to cut back on the running. Come January 1 and Eugene is 17 weeks away, so it will be time to get down to business. Hopefully at that point I will be able to lift my sugar laden hind quarters out of the chair.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Jingle Bob

Whew, what a week. I made it home Friday afternoon after a week away, 8 airline flights, 3 hotels, countless hours in airports, 3 orthodontists and a trail marathon to boot. I realize this is just a normal week for some people, especially in sales, but for me it was way out of the ordinary.

In Louisville I was pretty much out in the suburbs. My observations of KY is that they must be the most patient people in the US or we in California are the most impatient. The traffic lights last longer than any lights I can remember, up to 2 to 3 minutes. Here in CA if you wait 60 seconds before it changes you've waited a long time. The other observation is that its a good thing I only spent 3 days there, longer than that and I might have become a country music fan.

I arrived in Montreal on Tuesday in the dark and spent all of Wednesday in an orthodontic office until after sundown again. The sales guy and I made the three hour drive to Quebec. He drove me through old Quebec City for a quick tour. It is a very beautiful "Old World" City, decorated very nicely for Christmas. The following day was spent at another orthodontist, then off for the return to Montreal again in the dark (the days in Canada are quite short). We had dinner in the old section of Montreal. It is a very eclectic mix of old multi-story town homes and all manner of shops and boutiques for blocks on end, a very walkable city. I would definitely like to visit again under different circumstances. I was also quite lucky with the weather in the 30's and no snow. The product was well received by orthodontists and staff alike. I feel very fortunate that this is the case, it is not always so and would make my job far more challenging.

I came home to multitude of emails and phone calls that needed to be returned. Being out of the office isn't all its cracked up to be.

On the running front, I took the week off since Otter Creek. I usually take a week off after a marathon but this week there simply was no time to run even if I had wanted to. This morning I met up with my old Cruiser buddies for the "4th not so annual" Jingle Bob. It was started back in 1999 but has not run continuously. This was a 3 mile fun run organized by the coach at Snail's Pace, Brea for the benefit of the underprivileged in Santa Ana. Entry fee was $5 and a gift certificate or unwrapped toy. Several of the cruisers assisted as course volunteers. There was no on course aid station and post race food was potluck style. The finisher's medals were clay snails hand made by the 6th grade students of a CA Cruiser, each one unique in size, color and decoration. Awards were given out to the first and last male and female, as well as first dogs and most festive costumes. About a dozen door prizes were given away. I won a gift certificate for a free haircut.

The course was a three mile loop through Yorba Linda Regional Park. The park is adjacent to the Santa Ana Bike Trail that we run most weekends. It turns out that there is a small lake in the park that I've never been aware of in three years of running the trail. The lake is within sight of the path if I knew to look for it. There were about 60 racers. We took off and we fell into sequence almost immediately. There were two men, two women and two 12 year old guys ahead of me. I overtook the two kids within the first mile and continued to trail the adults for the remainder of the race. The route took us east along the dirt path for a loop and a half around the lake then back west down the dirt path. I ended up finishing 5th overall, with a time of 22:06 (7:22 pace). My original goal was to just have fun but once I was off near the front of the pack I had to keep going. I'm pretty happy with this result coming off two marathons and no speed work and the fact that my 5k PR pace is 7:04.

Pix from Otter Creek

The finisher's medallion
A frozen water cascade around mile 2 of the loop
Me along the trail, Otter Creek in the background
Along the trail on a small bluff above Otter Creek on the right
Lightning Strike?
A shear rock cliff on the left, Otter Creek on the right
The Ohio River

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Otter Creek Trail Marathon

Well, I did it. I completed two marathons in two weekends. Not just any old marathons, trail marathons. And frankly I'm pooped.

As you know my current work responsibilities have me traveling throughout the country and Canada to visit orthodontists that are trialing our newest product. The doctor in Louisville was able to see me tomorrow, December 11, which would require me to travel on Sunday. A quick search of the internet (isn't technology beautiful) led me to the website of the Otter Creek Trail Marathon. The allure of another state was almost more than I could bear. Besides the $40 entry fee is a bargain too good to be missed. So I booked my airfare to arrive on Saturday (the same price as the airfare on Sunday, so I don't feel too badly that my company paid for the flight).

Last weekend I ran the Tecumseh Trail Marathon in the company of fellow blogger Joe Ely. The Tecumseh Trail Marathon was a very tough course that was further compounded by the muddy conditions brought on by the heavy rains just prior to race day. I would say that Otter Creek is the kinder, gentler, more civilized cousin to Tecumseh. It still has its challenges, but not nearly to the degree of Tecumseh, not nearly the elevation gain and loss and definitely not the mud.

Last year was the first running of the Otter Creek Trail Marathon, or at least the first time it was reported on marathonguide.com. There were 31 finishers in 2005. I would guess there were probably equal number of participants for the 8 and 16 mile runs as well based on this year's attendance. The race directors were a little overwhelmed this year. There were probably triple the number of participants from last year.

Dean Karnazes's blog stated that getting to the race "required some doing". I found getting there from the Louisville area quite easy; three highways and done I was there in about the exact time that mapquest had predicted.

The race consisted of three loops of the Otter Creek Trail and an additional 2.2 mile loop for the marathoners. Due to the unexpected volume of people the RD's decided to send the marathon out on the 2.2 loop first at the same time as the 16 milers went out on the 8 mile Otter Creek Trail. The 8 milers started about 5 minute later. This helped clear up the single track trail considerably. We were glad that the extra loop was done first. Last year it was done last after having survived the 3 loop Otter Creek Trail.

There were two aid stations, 1 at the start/finish line and 1 half way around the loop at a place called Blue Hole. There were two porta-potties at the start and really that's all that was necessary to accommodate the runners.

The weather was just around 30 degrees at the start. The prediction called for highs in the 50's. I wore the exact same gear that I had worn the weekend before (all washed and dried, of course), minus the beanie. I took it off early last week and carried it the rest of the way. I didn't want to do that again. After the 2.2 mile loop I discarded the micro-fleece pullover and was plenty comfortable.

After the 2.2 loop the main trail run started through a pine forest for about a mile. It was reminiscent of the woods in Findley State Park where I camped often with my family. The trees were obviously planted by the Corps of Engineers or other government body; in perfectly symmetrical rows and columns. We then crossed over into woods predominately oak based on the leaves on the trail. Thankfully no problem with mud, at least on the first loop. The ground was frozen solid. We ended up on a trail that parallel Otter Creek then ultimately parallel the Ohio River. The major challenge of Otter Creek was the tree roots. The trail was criss crossed with roots. They sometimes served well as staircases but mostly they just need to be watched closely as they had a tendency to reach up and grab you. I fell once and I saw the guy in front of me during the first loop fall twice.

The first loop went smoothly. I felt good. I stayed with a pack of half a dozen or so runners up to the Blue Hole aid station. I left the station before them and ran the next four miles pretty much alone except for the occasional 8 or 16 miler that I would overtake. There were many walkers in those divisions. There was one significant hill and it occurred on the back 4 of the loop.

I passed the start/finish aid station the first time in 1:48 (including the 2.2), for 10:36 pace. I fell in behind two other guys for about 3 miles of the second pass until I stopped to take some pictures. By the time I hit Blue Hole for the second time my legs were feeling pretty beat. I soldiered on and made it through the second loop with out falling. I stumbled a few times but never fell. The temperature had climbed and I was beginning to warm up.

I finished the second loop in 1:25 (10:38 pace). Nice and consistent so far, albeit slower than road races. By this point I knew the third and final loop was going to be a struggle. I had thought about leaving my tights behind at the start but didn't and was glad to have them on the first part of the loop. For some reason the first half of the loop was cooler than the second. My legs were getting seriously fatigued and even doing the downhill portions was difficult. I felt like I had no real control, so I went slower. I resorted to walking the few uphills there were before Blue Hole. At Blue Hole I had a tough time getting going again, especially knowing that the biggest hill was yet to come. A few minutes after leaving Blue Hole I stopped and took off the tights. I thought maybe if my legs were a little cooler they would respond a little better. The bad part about taking them off is now I had to carry them. I really wished I had taken them off at the start when I originally intended. A little life lesson there: you have to live with the choices you make.

By now my legs were completely shot. I began to take walk breaks even on the littlest of inclines and it became increasingly difficult to begin running again. I really began to question the sanity of trying to run 2 trail marathon in 2 weekends, but I had to finish. I rationalized my dead legs with talk of Tecumseh, of my work travel schedule, of crazy sleep patterns. It was all just negativity that wasn't going to get me to the finish. I passed a couple of walkers but other than that I ran the last 8 miles virtually alone.

The nice thing about repeating a loop three times is that you know where you are in relation to the aid stations and finish. I was very happy to see the pine forest which signaled nearing the finish. I made it through the last loop in 1:54 (seriously slowed from the first two in 14:15 pace) for a finish time of 5:08:34. I was the 28th finisher.

I'm not sure I've ever been so wiped out after a marathon and based on they way my legs felt I'm really pretty happy with the 5+ hour marathon. I was greeted at the finish by the wife half of the husband/wife RD's. She printed my name on the bib tear off with my time and had me take it to the husband half who printed my finisher's certificate. On the spot, no waiting 3 months like those big races. The finishers medallions are three inch disks of tree limb with the logo branded into the wood and a leather strap. They were made by kids at a local high school, pretty cool and unique.

So now I've completed nine states and I'm ready for a rest, at least for the rest of 2006. Beginning January it will be time to start training for the Eugene Marathon. The completion of two marathons in a 9 day span qualifies me for membership in the Marathon Maniacs. I may have to give this serious consideration. I'm not sure I would ever meet the criteria again, I should take the chance while I have it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

A Maniacal Coincidence

Recovery from the Tecumseh Trail Marathon has gone smoothly. I continue to travel for work making my way to Calgary and back earlier this week. Thankfully the temperatures in Calgary were in the 30's on Wednesday. Everyone told me that the week before the temperature was -40°. That's cold no matter what scale you're on.

Work travel continues next week with a trip to Louisville, KY to visit an orthodontist on Monday followed by a flight to Montreal, a drive to Quebec and back and then home to fill all of next week. I was going to have to fly on Sunday to be at the office on Monday morning. Curiosity kicked in and I snooped around the internet just to see what I might find reasonably close to Louisville.

I came across this. Dean Karnazes had run the Otter Creek Trail Marathon as his 40th the day after he ran the Tecumseh Trail in Indiana. In an email to Joe at the time (around the end of October) I had joked to him that I should just hang around Indiana for a week and run my next marathon. No way that was going to happen, right?

Wrong. The doc I needed to see in Louisville, KY had suggested I come out on December 11. The plan was to fly in Sunday and back out Monday afternoon. Otter Creek is run on Sunday, December 10. The town of Brandenburg is 45 miles southwest of Louisville. Was it possible to run two trail marathons in the span of 9 days? I was going to be there any way. Why not fly in a day earlier and tackle marathon #11, state #9? You gotta love adding a state to the total with Corporate America subsidizing the airfare. This is a really small race and the weather looks to be ideal with cloudy conditions and highs in the 40's.

Now you know "What's Next?" and come Sunday if all goes well "Eight Down" will be the shortest lived title of this little blog.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tecumseh - The Race Report

This report is almost two reports in one. The marathon report and the Joe report.

As I said earlier, who’d have thought I'd travel across the country to run a marathon. My perspective was why else would I go to Indiana except to run a marathon. In fact why have I gone almost anywhere in the last couple of years that didn’t involve running (or lately work)? Better yet why would I travel across the country to meet another runner I knew only from a blog? Kind of like internet dating for runners, huh? More than one person thought I was crazy to travel that far to meet up with someone I didn’t really know. I stopped telling people that we were sharing a hotel room. I guess they were all afraid to read accounts of the ax murder from Indiana or other such insanity. When I went to Washington and met Rob, Lisa was with me. I guess people felt better about that. Funny she doesn’t come off as the body guard type to me, but anyway.

I’ve met nothing but stellar folks through the RBF and had no worries. Everyone has been genuine. Joe and I have shared a few emails behind the scenes so I was comfortable in meeting up. I got the feeling that Joe would do just about anything for you. He is a host beyond compare. I wish I could run every race with the support of someone like him. He took care of everything, down to the smallest details. All I had to do was show up and run. He was concerned about me staying warm and reminded me to drink during those first few miles we spent together. Joe is engaging, personable, spiritually grounded, an adoring husband, father and grandfather, a real class act. We did in fact talk for nearly the entire 26 hours that we spent together. Our work shares many common themes and family was a large part of our conversation. There’s no way I can adequately thank him, except to say that I would be pleased to do it all over again (I might have to make Indiana a repeat state) and to say that I would gladly be host to he and his family in California should the opportunity arise. A race wouldn’t have to be the reason of the visit.

My greatest fear about the Tecumseh Trail Marathon was the weather. Winter has come very late to southern California and I was running in 70-90 degree weather up until Thanksgiving. I spent a great deal of time the last couple of weekends before the race scouring the local running store, sporting goods stores and discount retailers for the best deal on cold weather running gear. I ended up with a pair of Asics Tiger running tights from A Snail’s Pace. I was happy to know that the running store had a better price than the big box sporting goods store. I did get a Nike Thermal Fit half zip pullover at the big box. They had one on the sales rack in my size. I bought another water resistant Champion C9 jacket from Target as backup. My son donated his old Under Armor t-shirt as the base layer. A long sleeve tech top, a beanie and gloves rounded out the attire.

The torrential rain in Bloomington on Friday made getting to race HQ difficult. Joe and I had quite the adventure getting there. I can honestly say I’ve never driven washed out gravel roads on my way to packet pickup before. We even saw a deer sneaking into the woods.

Race morning dawned early. Having arrived at race HQ the night before in the dark, the parking situation was unknown. We decided to get there early to assure a good space. We both tend to obsess a little over things like that. It turns out by the light of day that there was plenty of parking but the early arrival allowed for watching the sunrise and enjoying the parade of runners coming in.

This was the first trail race for Joe. We noticed a pretty significant difference in the crowd from the standard road marathon. Trail runners in the Midwest seem to be predominately male, older and of sturdier stock. There was a noticeable lack of lanky and lean. The logistics of getting 500 runners to the starting line took longer than planned. The 10:00 race start became 10:45. More than one runner was concerned about finishing the course in the allotted amount of time. As I looked around at the trees and hills I was excited to get going.

We stayed on the warm buses as long as we could. Standing around waiting for the race to start was rather frigid, but once we got moving I was warm and soon began to wonder if I had overdressed. The beanie came off first, followed by the gloves. I thought about taking off the micro fleece but was afraid that I would get chilled from the sweat I had built up underneath. I ended up wearing it the whole way. Around mile 15 or 16, around 2:00, the weather began to cool again and I put the gloves back on.

Joe and I ran together for the first 6.5 miles. At this point the crowd was still bunched up. Joe and I filed in single file. The single track demanded this. When the lead runner walked we all walked, mostly on the uphill, which in a trail race turns out to be a really good idea. Joe stopped early on to stretch. I continued on slowly at his request and he caught back up. It was then that I started worrying about his IT band issue. I had really hoped to run together as much as possible but I’m afraid that I didn’t do a very good job of maintaining a suitable pace. I had fun running ahead and taking pictures of Joe running up the trail.

Many times I felt like a kid again. Running through the woods seemed to me to be a perfect way to spend the day. The hills, the terrain, the trees all reminded me so much of family vacations in Findley or Mohican State Parks in Ohio and running around the Boy Scout Camps on Jones Road and at Firelands as a kid. I couldn’t help but smile and have a blast.

I was at first at ease with our decision to split up. Joe had mentioned this point more than once in emails and I have run with other partners that would expected the same. After the point that Joe and I separated ways the crowd thinned out considerably. It would have been easier for us to run our pace without being passed or having to pass on the single track trail. The farther I went the more I second guessed my decision to march on. I spent considerable brain power debating whether I should have gone on or stayed back. Early on I caught up with a group of about 6 other runners. At a stream crossing the group broke up and broke up completely at an aid station.

Aid stations in a trail race are quite the different affair than a road race. Rather than grab and go, runners stop and take a break, drink their fluids standing still and enjoy the cookies, crackers and pretzels. I could get used to this laid back approach to racing.

The remainder of the run was spent nearly in solitary, slowly catching up to other solitary or pairs of runners. Walking the hills became a survival tactic after mile 13. The conditions of the trail deteriorated as the day wore on. A couple of hundred people in front of you leave a muddy trail even muddier. At times the mud was so slick that running was nearly impossible, gingerly walking through was the only option if you wished to remain upright. All the extra work maintaining balance was taking its toll on my legs.

The farther I went the more people I ran into that were really struggling. I caught up to one guy that was hobbling along. I asked if he had sprained an ankle or something. He commented that it was his darn IT Band. I really turned my thoughts back to Joe at that point. With the way others were feeling and the continual deterioration of the trail I really hoped that Joe had decided not to go on. The trail crossed and recrossed the same stream multiple times within a half mile with no real rhyme or reason. We would also climb hills only to circle back down the other side. The trail seemed to be designed by someone on a maniacal, sadistic rant. A quarter mile stretch of shoe sucking, slippery mud nearly ruined my day.

I chatted with a few people along the way. I met up with Marc from Washington DC. Joe and I had met him at the race HQ that morning. Marc had recently run the Marine Corp and Philadelphia marathons and his first triathlon this summer. I ran for a half mile or so with an ROTC cadet from the University of Indiana. He was the only one of his group that had accepted the challenge from his captain. He had three weeks notice and only got in one 12 miler as training. He is a swimmer and bike rider and was doing great aerobically; his legs were really tired at mile 13. He had already taken a fall in the mud but I was confident he would make it. I saw both Marc and ROTC finish in about 5:50 as we were driving away. I was glad to see ROTC finish. I joked with another guy wearing a back pack about planning for an overnight stay. I shared the trail momentarily with three girlfriends that were testing the limits of their friendship out there. They finished about 5 minutes behind me.

There were no mile markers along the way, only at the aid stations. This made determining pace very difficult. I had started my watch at the beginning and just let it run. I think I was at 15 miles at around 3 hours. I wondered whether I could get 10 more in 2 hours. Around mile 22 my legs were getting very tired, feeling like Jell-O. I began stepping more deliberately over the trees across the trail and across the streams. At some point I just completely gave up trying to stay out of the mud and water. I remembered an older guy telling some kids that their feet would not get cold. He was right. They were cold with the initial shock of the water and then warmed right back up. Although the trail had taken its toll, I never felt as though I couldn't go on.

Sometime along the way I was able to hear the cheers of the finish line in the distance. Then they were distinctly off to the right. The trail approaches a gravel road which I assumed I would turn right on to the finish, but no. There was still about a mile to go on the trail before we came out on the road farther down. As I rounded that last corner the crowd was small but loud. There was a man with a camera taking pictures that I assumed to be the official photographer. Then he moved his camera and I recognized Joe. I was both glad to see him and sad that his race had obviously ended early. I got a high five and then he met me at the HQ and made sure I had food and water. I told you this guy takes care of people. I had some warm tasty vegetable soup and a chocolate chip cookie. After changing into dry warm clothes we headed out for burgers and Cold Stone ice cream. Joe had never had Cold Stone before. It was fun to treat him to his first. We discussed the race, his IT band, his decision to drop and his plan to seek qualified medical care at this point.

My final time was 5:24:29, my longest marathon ever and beyond my original goal of 5:00, but the experience was worth every extra minute that it took. I was however, first in the 45-49 year old male from California division, go me! There were actually three Californians in the race. The first to finish was a female and the third was another 45-49 male. I didn’t get to meet them, that would have been fun.

If you’re looking for a fun and challenging romp through the woods, put the Tecumseh Trail Marathon on your planner. If your travels take you to Indiana look up Joe, I’m pretty sure he’d be thrilled to meet you and you’d certainly be blessed to meet him.

Tecumseh - The Thoughtful Post

Eight hours or so traveling home alone can do this to you. Having made it home in time to go to church and out to lunch with my family, its time to sit down and put some thoughts down.

I had a superbly enjoyable weekend in Indiana at the Tecumseh Trail Marathon in the company of fellow running blogger Joe. My current thoughts can be summed up in a simple word: Grateful.

Grateful that I am able to run what many think is a crazy long distance. You know the comments - “I don’t even like to drive 26 miles.”

Grateful that I found running in the first place. Running is a physical activity that this life-long couch potato enjoys. There are no losers in running.

Grateful that running allows me to pursue another passion of mine, eating, without too much guilt. No, I don’t run more to make up for over eating, but if I’m offered a piece of chocolate cake I don’t have to turn it down.

Grateful for the support of my wife and kids in pursuing this pastime. They allow me the time to train. The fact that my boys are in their late teens, one is away at college, affords me a certain freedom. They also encourage my crazy 50 state adventure. As much as possible, Lisa and I turn an out of state marathon into a mini vacation. There’s something special about seeing her face pop up throughout a race. The ones she’s shared with me have been the most fun. Even my in-laws, recently moved to Pennsylvania, went looking for marathons in PA as an excuse to get us to visit (as though they really needed one). My little sister visited and my Mom showed up unexpectedly (from OH) the first time I ran Los Angeles.

Grateful for a job that provides me the resources of time and finances to run more than one marathon a year. Pretty much everyone at work knows of my passion for running. My boss interjects the fact that I run marathons into every introduction.

Grateful to Brian my first running partner. Although 20 years my junior he helped me achieve my initial dream of running a marathon and went on to run 3 more with me before he went off to dental school to pursue his career dream. Fellow coworkers Celeste and Terry were also there through the first couple of years and marathons.

Grateful for the great people I’ve met through A Snail’s Pace Training and the CA Cruisers. It is Dr John’s 108 marathons, including all 50 states that inspired me to pursue the 50 state challenge. Between us I’m sure we’ve run nearly 300 marathons.

Grateful for the people I’ve met through the Running Blog Family. The internet connects people in ways not probable before. Who’d have thought that I would get to run a couple of training runs with the a Boston Qualified Amazing Hip Jeff, or meet the ultra adjective ultra runner Nattie, or run the mountains with the race directing queen of the OC trail runners Jessica and her pals. Who’d have thought I’d travel to Indiana, of all places, to meet up with the ever persevering Joe. All people I would not have met had I had not taken up running and blogging in particular. There’s also all the bloggers I read faithfully and that seem to come back to my blog time and again. Their adventures in running and in life inspire and make me want to be a better runner, a better person. They are all the real deal. I’m truly grateful to be part of a community such as this.

I guess a quick trip across the country to Middle America, a place that reminded me so much of my roots, can make a guy a little introspective. Now it’s back to the regularly scheduled race report.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An Early Chill

I flew off to Long Island on Monday on Southwest out of Ontario Airport with a stop in Las Vegas. The local sales rep picked me. Tuesday morning we met with the doctor who was installing our newest product on a couple of patients. The install went very well. These trips are as much about establishing relationships as they are about evaluating the product. It turns out that we had accomplished our goals by lunch time so the doc gave me a ride back to the hotel. I originally planned on flying home on Wednesday. I was able to change my flight and got back home by 10:30 p.m. and got to sleep in my own bed Tuesday night, Yeah! I got an extra day at work on Wednesday rather than a day spent traveling.

I woke up Wednesday to temps in the low 40's. This is cooler than Long Island just the day before. My wife had turned on the furnace for the first time while I was away. Wednesday night was the coolest it has been this season. The temp was hovering right about 60, but to us it felt cold. I changed quickly and went on over to Via Verde for an easy 3 miler.

While I got started, in shorts and a long sleeve T, I definitely felt the chill in the air. I was beginning to wonder that if this felt "cold" to me, what was I in for in Indiana? Who's idea was that anyway? The current forecast for Saturday is:
The rain was originally to be gone by Friday. It looks now like it may hang on until Saturday. This makes 60°F look down right tropical. If Indiana is anything like Ohio (my home state), I know it may change again before Saturday. I think I may go looking for a warmer, water-proof running jacket tomorrow at lunch, just in case. It looks like this thin-blooded southern California boy may be in for quite the experience at the hands of Mother Nature.

The run tonight went smoothly. I tried to keep the pace easy just based on my breathing. It was a little breezy on the way out and warmed up considerably on the turn around with the breeze at my back. I was pleased with my 8:44 pace for an easy, shake off the dust kind of run three days before the trail marathon.

Now I'm off to hit the pillow and say my prayers for a warming trend in southern Indiana this weekend. Feel free to join in.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ready or Not

Am I ready for the Tecumseh Trail Marathon, the race that Dean Karnazes describes as “hardcore”? Well I guess we’re about to find out. It will be 8 weeks since my last street marathon. I’ve done marathons two months apart before and would have gotten in at least one, if not two, 20 milers before the next big race day. Not this time. This time I concentrated on trail running and the hills that go with them. I ran:
Up to the Top of the World in Aliso/Wood Canyon for 14 miles
North Ridge to Four Corners in Chino Hills State Park for 13.5
The La Jolla Canyon Legend 18K around the Santa Monica Mountains for 11.2
Bagged Santiago Peak via the Holy Jim Trail in the Santa Ana Mountains for 16
and hit the beach for a 4 miles at Crystal Cove, part of an 11 mile run.
Not one 20 miler in the bunch. I followed Hal Higdon’s Multiple Marathon schedule for the midweek runs.

I’m confident that I will finish TTM (maybe I shouldn’t be). I have very little idea about predicting a finish time. This one is not about setting a PR. I think the biggest challenge for me is going to be the weather. The average high temperature in Indiana at the beginning of December is 40-ish. Although the forecast says rain early in the week, you never know. The current prediction is high 30’s and sunny. I’ve purchased a pair of tights just in case.

The fact that I am running TTM is pretty much serendipity. I have already completed the two marathons planned for this year. This one is just icing on the cake. Tecumseh has been on my list since I started this odyssey three years ago. Joe’s casual mention of a trail marathon in the fall was all it took to put TTM on my radar. I knew he lived in Indiana. I sent him an email and before you knew it we were signed up to run a marathon just two months after our last. Joe ran Portland, with a PR effort, the week before I ran St. George.

Joe has proven to be a most gracious host. He is picking me up at the airport, made our hotel reservations for the night before the race and even offered to pick up bananas and Gatorade for me. I really look forward to actually meeting him in person and sharing as many miles as possible out on the rolling hills of southern Indiana.

These last couple of weeks has been quite hectic at work. I planned trips to visit four orthodontic offices over the next three weeks. In fact I visit my first one on Tuesday next week on Long Island. I fly out tomorrow, returning Wednesday and then leave again on Friday for Indiana. Today may have been my last run depending on how I feel on Thursday. I may feel the need for at least a three miler that night.

The Thanksgiving holiday has led to some nice runs this week.
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 4 miles in Via Verde
Wednesday: unplanned day off
Thursday: I met up with 16 CA Cruisers and friends for Rochelle’s Run around the equestrian trails of Yorba Linda including a loop around Eastlake. I had intended on a nice easy run with Dr. John as taper run for the marathon. Little did I know I would end up in the lead pack with Julie, Gary, Suzanne, John, Yihfa and Cheryl. So much for good intentions, but it was a nice 9 mile run.

Later that day I enjoyed delicious turkey dinner guilt free. My wife’s cousin’s family was in attendance with their 7 month daughter. She is just the cutest thing. I tried to kidnap her but Mom and Dad weren’t having it. I promised to bring her back when she started talking back but they still weren’t persuaded.

Friday: 3.6 miles at 7:00 a.m. in Bonelli, much to the wonderment of my wife and mother-in-law. Apparently I had enjoyed my fill of fermented grape juice along with the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. They expected that I would not be feeling well, but there were no lingering ill effects.
Saturday: 9.5 miles with the Cruisers on the Two Park, Two Loops Run in Brea. I ran this time with Dr. John and Jay at a fairly easy pace. I was more than happy to let Michelle, James, Mike, Rochelle and Jesse take the lead.
Sunday: the same 3.6 miles in Bonelli as Friday at 3:00 in the afternoon under partly sunny skies. The weather in SoCal has finally turned fall-like. Up until this week we were still enjoying highs in the 80’s.

Miles for the week: 29.7

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Running the Beach

First the really, really big news. Well, not so much, but...today is the one year anniversary of my first post, my blogiversary!

After a week of relative non-running, I knew I would be back at it on Saturday. My wife was away at a scrapbooking weekend with seven other women. Can you imagine. The only honey do list she left me was to make sure that Bryan vacuumed the rugs. I think I can handle that. So I really had no excuse for not running this weekend.

I haven't been running much lately with the CA Cruisers since I've been trying to maximize my trail miles. The Cruisers aren't all the whacked out about trails and that's OK. My schedule called for 15. I've got a nice rolling road route, Brian's Loop, that I thought I might do. In the meantime I got word from the Cruisers that they were planning a run at Crystal Cove. It involved some beach running. I wasn't sure about the mileage but couldn't pass up the opportunity to try something new with my old pals.

We met in Corona Del Mar. CDM is a great little beach we used to take the boys to a lot when they were younger. The Cruisers were represented by me, Dr. John and Dorothy, that's all. I'm not really sure what happened to the rest. A pretty decent group of 6:42 runners joined in.

We ran towards the beach on city streets and crossed a really neat little pedestrian bridge at Goldenrod to get down to Ocean Blvd. Ocean Blvd is on a bluff with wonderful views of the Pacific. The ocean that morning was amazingly calm and serene. After a quick jaunt down Pacific Coast Hwy we headed onto the bike path at Crystal Cove State Beach. We followed a boardwalk and trail down the to the water. The lead pack was Randy, Jim, Dave and I. We ran on the sand along the water line dodging the waves. It was a perfect sunny day, with the calm Pacific on our right and the bluffs on our left. Because the tide was on the high side we were forced to run in softer sand than we might have liked. It was quite the workout and I didn't miss all the waves. We went out about 2.5 miles on the sand until we reached a cliff that juts out into the ocean blocking further progress. We were at about 5.5 miles at that point and headed back. The return trip was easier as the tide had subsided some so we could run on harder packed sand. Once we reached the Crystal Cove Cottages, about 1.5 miles of sand running, we headed back onto the bike path. The total run was just over 11 miles in 1:49, nearly 10:00 pace, I attribute to the sand. We hung out afterward at Bruegger's Bagels. This was way more fun that running the asphalt alone. I put my vote in for making this one a regular addition to our repertoire of routes.

Later that afternoon, Tyler showed up from San Diego. I wasn't expecting him until Tuesday. He doesn't have class Thursday or Friday (obviously) and his teachers cancelled his Wednesday and Saturday classes. He decided to skip his Monday class, in favor of spending a full 10 days at home. I wish he hadn't skipped class, but can understand.

Sunday morning dawned sunny and 60° degrees. Wonderful running weather. Of course I headed over to Bonelli. Since I had been rather lacking in miles this week I decided to put together a couple of my shorter runs. I ended up running most of the perimeter of the park for some good hills and 9 miles. I had forgotten my watch, but figure I was gone about 1:45. So it was a fairly slow one but I felt good and enjoyed every step.

Final tally for the week: 24 miles
2006 tally: 1499.9 miles

Almost makes me want to go run a tenth just to get there. I surpassed my previous highest mileage year (2006 at 1456) last week.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Whole Lot of Nothing

As of Friday evening, I've run a whole 4 miles this week.

Monday - scheduled day off
Tuesday - 4 miles on the equestrian trail in Via Verde
Wednesday - when I got home from work I was exhausted from planning trips to visit docs in NY, Kentucky, Montreal and Quebec. The scheduled called for 6, with at least some of it at Marathon Pace. My legs were still a little lackluster from summiting Santiago (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). And as if I need another excuse I felt a twinge of a sore throat coming on. The rest of my family has been battling this cold for a couple of weeks. I can usually dodge them. So after all the excuses I decided to skip the run.

Thursday - about 9:00 pm on Wednesday I remembered that I couldn't run on Thursday night either. The CA Cruisers were getting together for some food and frivolity. We swapped race stories. Some of us clean up pretty well. Thanks to Jesse for opening his home to us. We tried to plan some runs for the next couple of months and a future race we could all do together in 2007. We are leaning toward Marine Corps. Kitty, Margaret, Jaymie and Dennis ran it this year. It's a year away we'll see how it goes.

Friday - I committed to getting up and getting in at least 4 miles before work on Friday. I set two alarms. Come Friday morning I turned them off and rolled back over. Good intentions, but the run was not going to happen.

Call it extreme tapering, call it laziness, call it poor planning, but as of Friday evening my weekly mileage remained at 4. I haven't done that in awhile.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Holy Jim!

What a great little adventure today!

My plan had me running my one and only 20 miler before Tecumseh. Since my one recovery week after St. George, all my Saturday long runs have been on trails. I wasn’t quite sure whether I wanted to do a 20 mile trail run or a 20 mile flatlander run. Each had its merits and benefits.

Before I made up my mind I received an invite from Jessica for a trail run in the Santa Ana Mountains. The planned distance was 15-16 miles but she told me there were options for making the run longer. A run on new trails with a guide who knows the trails so well was not to be missed. The route she had planned was part of the Twin Peaks Ultra Marathon. Jessica is the race director.

We were joined by some of Jess’s OCTrailRunning buddies, Greg, Mike, and Pete. A friend of Mike’s, Salvatore, also came along. This was going to be his first trail run. Although I’ve been reading her blog for months I hadn’t met Jess or any of the other guys until today.

We met at the parking lot just of Trabuco Canyon Rd. This is a very rugged lot. I don’t exactly drive the best car (Miata) for off roading. From the lot it is a 5 mile drive up the same rugged, rocky road to another lot. Luckily Mike has one of those big SUV’s and gave the 6 of us a ride to the top. It is here that the adventure began. Jess’s description of the planned run: “Holy Jim is the main climb in this run at 2600' over 5.5 miles. Holy Jim has a bunch of switchbacks which help make this trail less steep and one of the easiest ways to get up to Main Divide Road. After we top out at Main Divide Road we run that for about 5 miles with some ups and downs. By the time we hit our turn at West Horse Thief we will have been going downhill for about a mile and dropping 500 feet. West Horse Thief drops another 1500 more feet over the next 1.5 miles. 2.7 more miles on Trabuco Trail and another 1000 foot drop puts us back in the parking lot.”

One funny observation I made, on the way up there the rocky road we passed a runner that was going in from the bottom lot. I recognized him as a guy who ran the La Jolla Legend 18K last weekend. He and his buddy had parked right in front of me. I ended up seeing him later as we climbed up Holy Jim while he was on his return trip down. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, though.

The first mile or so of this run continues on the rocky road, officially Trabuco Creek Road. There are several privately owned cabins along the road. Some are in better repair than others. At the end of the road is the trail head for the Holy Jim Trail. The beginning of the trail is marked with 3 or 4 creek crossings. At this time of the year the creek is a trickle, so crossing is easy. During the rainy season it is easy to see that creek crossing would be more challenging.

Mike took the lead and I followed. The others fell in behind. The trail eventually becomes a series of switchbacks that gently, but continually work their way up the mountain side. There are many place with shade and most of the trail is a very soft and cushy, really nice running surface. All singletrack. I followed Mike’s lead and took more walk breaks than I normally would have allowed myself. I was in the mood to just enjoy the run and not worry about time. Trail runs will do that to you. I stopped using my watch at all when we hit Main Divide Road. At that point Mike and I probably had about a half mile lead on the others. It had taken us well over an hour to complete the first 5 miles, don’t forget that 2600 feet of elevation gain.

When Jess, Greg, Pete and Sal reached Main Divide, Jess suggested that Greg, Mike and I head left up Main Divide and summit Santiago Peak. Greg and I were completely into it. Mike took a little more prodding but joined us in the end. The trip up and back is 6 miles. This would give me plenty of extra mileage. The plan was for Jess, Pete and Sal to continue to the right on Main Divide and follow the original plan. She felt that the three of us would be able to catch up to them before they made it back to the parking lot.

Main Divide is a rocky service road that is open to vehicular traffic. It is pretty much straight up for 3 miles with an elevation gain around 1500 feet. The peak is home to many telecommunications towers, so it is not extremely scenic, but the view out towards the east is pretty incredible. You also get a great look at the many trails below that crisscross the Santa Ana Mountains. Greg and I made it up first. It took us nearly an hour to get up there, including a few walk breaks and some stops for photo ops. Mike followed shortly thereafter. There is a maze of little roads around all the towers. When we first saw Mike he was covered from head to toe all down his left side in trail dust. He had taken a spill. The trip up had taken its toll on our legs but we were headed down knowing that the hard part was over.

We ran down Maid Divide three abreast. It was a lot of fun. Mike had run the Mount Disappointment 50K this spring and swore off road races. Greg had recently moved to Silverado Canyon and has been running almost exclusively trails since spring. Trail running is contagious. It seems to me that trail runners are pretty laid back people and that the terrain and footing keep the mind more alert and occupied than running on pavement.

When we got back to the junction with Holy Jim we discussed our options. It didn’t seem possible to us that we could catch up with Jess, Pete and Sal on Horse Thief and Trabuco Trail. We were at about 11 miles. If we followed the others we would end up with around 21 miles. We opted to take Holy Jim back down mostly because we didn’t want the others to have to wait for us. Our plan was to run the road back to the main lot if we really felt up to a 21 mile run. I ended up taking the lead and setting the pace down the switchbacks. We kept up what felt like a decent pace but I felt like I was slowing down the farther we went.

The three of us ending up making it back to the SUV before the others. Our total mileage was about 16 in somewhere between 3:30 and 3:45. Our pace was a slow 13 to 14 minutes per mile. It was pretty unanimous that 16 miles was enough for us today. We ended up waiting about 45 more minutes for the others to come down Trabuco. I guess Pete had missed the cutoff for Horse Thief so Jess and Sal waited for him to connect back up. Ironically Greg, Mike and I probably would have caught them had we continued down Main Divide and would have ended up with 21 miles. In the end only Jess and Pete ran the route that was originally planned and even that was cut about a mile short since we drove up the road as far as we could and picked them up a little early. Sal ended up thoroughly enjoying his first trail run and is looking forward to doing it again. The rest of us want to go back some day soon and run the original course that Jess had planned. That should be fun.

In the final analysis this may have been the slowest 16 miles I ever ran, but it was one of the most enjoyable. The trail was very runnable. The scenery was magnificent with panoramic views of the mountains, canyons and urban sprawl below. Meeting five new runners, including the RBF’s on Jessica was quite a treat. I really hope we can get together for some more of these runs.

If you are looking for a race in February you should really consider making your way to SoCal to run Jessica’s inaugural race. From the preview I got today, I’d say it’s going to be an epic race.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Gift

I started my day today by meeting my boss at the Park & Ride lot off Grand Ave. We were on our way to Escondido to visit an orthodontist to evaluate our newest product. I have just recently taken on this position of administering customer evaluations after 20 years in the Research & Development Lab. The product is one of the biggest things we're working on. It is a pretty big responsibility for me to be running this evaluation.

The evaluation went splendidly. The orthodontists, the assistants, even the patients were very happy with the product. The product performed just as we had hoped that it would. We spend countless hours designing and testing these things but you never know for sure until the first orthodontists puts it to use on the first patient. Maybe most importantly for me was that my boss was very happy with the outcome and my handling of the evaluation. What a relief. We finished up in Escondido about 2:00 and headed home. My boss dropped me at my car around 3:30 and told me I could just head home for the day. My office was only about 15 minutes away and I could probably have gone in for at least an hour but I opted to call it a day and enjoy the successful evaluation. I'll have plenty more long days as I travel the country visiting docs from coast to coast.

I got home, changed and was over in Bonelli before 4:00 to put in a 6 mile run on the trail out and back along the west side of the park. I was back at the car just after 5:00, well before the sun disappeared into the Pacific. The perfect ending to a positive evaluation experience. Thanks, Boss! I really appreciate the gift.

Monday, November 06, 2006

La Jolla Canyon

The La Jolla Canyon Legend 18k Race was in a word - legendary. Trite, I know, but all the other words I might used to describe it are over used as well. Words and phrases like awesome, fun, a good time, a kick in the pants. I really enjoyed this run. A trail run to me means a more laid back attitude. I decided to treat this as a run rather than a race. I did have a time goal and I did keep an eye on the watch but mostly I just enjoyed myself.

The race was scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. The trailhead was about 1.5 hours from my house. I wanted to arrive around 7:30 so I left home at 6:00. One nice thing about the race being postponed from last weekend is the earlier sunrise of Pacific Standard Time. The sun was up at 6:00 and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day. Unfortunately where I live is no predictor for the weather at the beach. The only bummer about the postponement was that I was missing out on an awesome trail run planned by Jessica. Jeff, Nattie and a couple of blogless trail runners joined her. You can read about the adventure at both Jess and Nattie's blogs. This would have been a great long training run for Tecumseh.

The drive over to Pt. Mugu was bright and sunny until about half a mile from the beach on Kanan Dume Rd. Kanan Dume connects the 101 freeway with Pacific Coast Highway through the Santa Monica Mountains. At that point the fog became so thick it was difficult to see. As I continued west along PCH the fog thinned and by the time I reached La Jolla Canyon the sun was shining beautifully again. It was at this point that I realized that sunscreen might have been a good idea.

An odd thought struck me about how places are named in southern California. The Santa Monica Mountains are miles from the town named Santa Monica. And the town of La Jolla is near San Diego nearly 180 miles from La Jolla Canyon. I guess whoever named all these places back in the day wasn't the most creative thinker.

Back to the run, I parked along PCH and had plenty of time to take care of business at the facilities, walk to registration, and take the goodie bag back to the car and get back to the starting line.

The run takes off up hill right away, no warming up mile on this one. The group was small, 118 finishers, and we fell into a single file line pretty quickly. Right out of the box we hit the rock stairs. We were basically forced to follow along single file until there was a hint of widening in the trail to get by. By the end of mile 2 we were pretty spread out there wasn't much passing going on or necessary for that matter. There was a relatively flat section between mile 1.5 and 2 then a long slow climb up to mile three. As I looked ahead nearly everyone in sight was walking the hill. I did the best I could to keep some semblance of running pace. I did walk some but passed at least two people. Mile 3 brought us out to a spectacular view of the ocean and a flat section of trail along the hill above the beach. I saw the mile marker and checked the watch. 38:24 for 3 miles of pretty brutal up hills. Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMile 3 to 4, was run in 8:35 on a pretty nice downhill section that started to take us back inland. I mentally prepared myself for some more uphill. Somewhere along here was the first water stop. I actually stopped and drank a cup of water, mostly just for the rest. Mile 4 to 6.5 or so were run through a large grassy meadow. At times when I looked ahead I could not tell where the trail went. The only clue was the 12 inch swatch of dirt on the ground that was clear. Occasionally I would catch a glimpse of a runner or two in front of me. I covered mile 5 in 9:32. This put me at just over 11:00 miles, about right were I expected to be based on my recent trail runs. Somewhere along here I took half a Clifshot.

We eventually connected with a fire road that climbed up from mile 6.5 to 9. Running the fire road was very familiar, reminding me of my runs in Bonelli or Chino Hills SP. Mile 6 and 7 went by in 21:03. My total time was 1:17. I was pretty proud of myself for actually being able to do the math while running to determine that I was exactly on 11:00 miles.

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Mile 8 was kind of rolling and still on the fire road at 9:56. It was at this point that I began leap frogging another runner. I would motor up the hills and pass him, and then on the flats or downs he would bop on by me. We kept this up for a least a mile. Somewhere between 8 and 9 we left the fire road and headed back onto some single track. I polished off the Clifshot around here. The last aid station was between 8 and 9 and my frogger buddy stopped and I kept going. Mile 9 in 9:18.

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Mile 9 marked the beginning of the home stretch. We came back around the front of the mountain and had a wonderful view of the ocean down below. The next two miles were a nice long down hill. The trail was switchbacks at a nice decline. The downhill wasn't so steep that I had to put on the breaks every step. It was the kind of downhill where I felt like I could just let it fly. Mile 10 came up at 8:17, followed by mile 11 at 7:54. I had passed at least three people on the down hill; nobody had passed me, at least until the very end. I was within 0.2 mile of the finish line when my frogger buddy came up from behind and beat me to the finish by 10 seconds.

La Jolla Canyon Legend was 18K (11.2 miles) of pure running joy. The course was well marked and the mile markers seemed to be pretty accurate. Sure the uphills were tough, but the 18K distance was just enough so that I wasn't completely worn out at the end. I had beaten my goal time of sub 2:00. I had determined, worse case at 11:00 miles, that I would finish in 2:01. I was fairly confident that I could. My watch was 1:53:28.

We were treated to a medal and breakfast of scrambled eggs, fruit, coffee and a Krispy Kreme donut. I hung out for nearly 1.5 hours after the race. They gave away a lof of door prizes. I didn't win anything. I was waiting for the awards. I really had no feel for my placement but I was curious none the less, due to the rather small field. The organizers were having computing problems so I ended up leaving without official results.

Since then the results have been posted, 1:53:26. 68 out of 118 (58% finished ahead of me). They used 10 year age groups so I was 14 of 23 (61% ahead of me). If they had used 5 year age groups I was the 4th M 45-49. The 3rd place guy beat me by just over a minute. A minute is a long way on a trail run. So it wasn't my fastest race ever, but it was one heck of a run. I can still claim an 18K PR!

I ran Bonelli, 5 miles as usual, on Sunday but I waited until the late afternoon. The park was deserted and it was nice to enjoy the cooling air of the evening. I finished up well before sunset.

Final miles for the week: 30.2

Sunday, November 05, 2006

October 2006 Wrap Up

October 2006 miles = 119.7

This is the lowest monthly mileage yet for 2006, yet it is right on par with my average for 2005. Months with a marathon in them really suffer for overall mileage, with the big taper week before and recovery week after. The remainder of the month I've also purposely cut back to give my hip some time to recuperate. For the most part it seems to be working.

I think I am going to continue to keep my miles on the low side for the rest of 2006 and then begin to ramp things up in January 2007 for my spring marathon.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Me and My Shadow

I was accompanied last night by an ever changing set of companions on my easy 4 miler in Via Verde. As I proceeded from street light to street light I was aware of my shadow. I was fascinated watching my shadow appear at my side then race ahead of me getting taller and taller as it went, eventually fading away only to be joined by a new version right next to me. At some points I had a partner on my side and in front. I imagine I had one behind me too, but I don't have a 180 degree swivel neck so I can't be sure. I can't really know why I noticed this tonight, but it was fun to watch and made the run go by pretty quickly.

Wednesday was 6 miles with at least a portion of that at marathon pace. Because of the time change I don't run on the bike path at the dam after work. I depended on the mile markings there. For the next few months I will fall back on the 6 mile route around neighborhood streets. As an alternative to running a known distance I ran for time. After about a 1.5 mile warm up, I picked up the pace. I set my watch for 8 minute intervals. I ran at the faster pace for 24 minutes followed by about a 1.5 mile cool down. While I can't be sure of my pace I guess I put in about 3 miles at a faster pace. It felt pretty good to be moving along like that.

I moved my Tuesday run up to Monday. I figured there was going to be enough traffic out on Halloween, I didn't need to add to it. I ended that run at my mother-in-law's house. My wife and son met me there. We broke into Grandma's stash of Halloween candy. You know after an easy 4 miler, a guys got to replace those carbs!

I looks like we are on for the La Jolla Legend this weekend. It should be fun.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Postponed

The La Jolla Legend races were postponed due to "Fire Danger & Red Flag Warnings" There are no specific fires in the area that I'm aware of, but with the dry hot Santa Ana winds blowing the conditions are right for a fire and for it to spread rapidly. The new race date is next weekend, which makes a little better sense schedule-wise anyway.

Thursday, I came home from work in a crabby mood. I was frustrated about the way a couple of things at work are going, about my darn hip bugging me most of the day and number #2 son procrastinating with his homework. I started to change into my running stuff and then decided the heck with it. Instead, I stayed home and shared my crabbiness with my wife and son. That was nice of me, huh?

Because my running plans for Saturday were postponed, I decided to go for a run in Chino Hills State Park. Friday evening I tried rounding up a partner. I gave Terry a call, but she was suffering from a pretty bad cold and had missed work the last two days. I tried Jesse, but he had an appointment at 9 on Saturday morning and had hurt his knee just a couple of days before.

My schedule (self imposed) called for 18 miles. With the planned 18k race that day, I originally thought I might make up the difference later in the afternoon with a jaunt through Bonelli. Last time I had run Chino Hills with the Cruisers and Jeff was a pretty tough effort at 16.2 miles so I didn't think I really wanted to go that far. I decided to just play it by ear, or I should say by legs, and determine the mileage as I went.

I got a slightly late start at 8:00 a.m. and headed into the back end of the park. I started up the North Ridge Trail. Within a mile, I ran into a runner heading out. He turned out to be the only runner I saw for the rest of the day. The North Ridge Trail is a relentless uphill for a good 4 miles before even a hint of down hill. After that there are a couple of down sections but overall the trail continues to climb. The last time I ran this with Jeff, Jesse, Michelle and Jim we headed down Sycamore Trail. Today I decided to keep on going out North Ridge until it eventually descended into Four Corners, the central hub of CHSP. This section of North Ridge had the steepest ascents yet, followed by a pretty steep decent into Four Corners. My efforts were rewarded with some amazing panoramic views of the valley and the mountains to the north. It was worth the steep hill. On this whole section I hadn't seen another soul for 3 or 4 miles. It was quite peaceful. I figured I had gone at least 6.5 miles. It had taken me 1:10, nearly 11 minute pace. I wasn't exactly sure how I felt about that.

My legs still felt really good at that point, much better than they had felt last week in Aliso Woods at 7 miles. I contemplated continuing east on Telegraph for a couple of miles before making the trip out, but ultimately decided that I should get out while the getting was good. I took a little break and talked to a couple of mountain bikers. They headed up Bovinian Delight to South Ridge and I headed back up North Ridge.

I intended on making my way out of CHSP down Telegraph, but before I did I added the little section back up the steep single track at the end of North Ridge and connected to McDermott Trail which led right back to Telegraph and added about a mile onto the run. Once I hit Telegraph it was a straight shot, roughly 6 miles out through the canyon back to the car.

Telegraph was way more popular than North Ridge. There were probably 20 or so bikers on the way in, in groups of 1 to 4. Near the end of the trail I came upon at least two groups of people hiking in. One biker I came across commented, "Hey, what happened? Did you lose your bike?" I thought that was pretty funny, maybe a little lame but better than being ignored. At one point I heard a pretty loud rustling to my left. More rustling than the birds would make. I looked up in time to see a deer crossing a small clearing. I stopped and ended up watching two more deer cross the clearing before I continued on.

My legs held up pretty well. They began to get tired but never to the state that they had the week before, i.e. no walk breaks required. I was a bit surprised at my time,at 1:14, on the way out considering the relatively flat to moderately downhill nature of Telegraph. This makes two weeks in a row that I've done the second "easy" half of a run in longer time than the first "hard" half. This doesn't make me feel too good about my current level of stamina. All together, I figure I covered about 13.5 miles at about 10:40 pace, way slow for my normal flatlander pace.

Sunday morning, I beat the alarm out of bed thanks to the end of daylight savings time. I drove over to Bonelli and got started at 7 PST (8 PDT). There was a significant line of cars trying to get into Bonelli. Some of them were parking in the Park & Ride lot. I was able to find a space. I asked someone in the line what was going on in Bonelli. It was the Muddy Buddy. They told me the race was scheduled to start at 8:30. This gave me plenty of time to get my run in and be out of there before it got started. The race route was marked and was only on the northern half of my loop. I got done today in 49:59, nearly 2.5 minutes faster than last week. By the time I left Bonelli around 8 there was still a significant line of cars waiting to get into the park. The backup extended onto the 57 freeway as well.

Someday I would like to try the Muddy Buddy. I've talked with two friends - both Bills, both better bikers than runners - about teaming up to do this thing but we never get anything solid together. Maybe next year. At the very least maybe I'll volunteer, since it is so close to home.

Miles for the week: 28.5

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Preview

Dean Karnazes ran the Tecumseh Trail Marathon today as #39 in his 50 state challenge. Reading his blog entry gave me a better idea of just what Joe and I are in for in 5.5 weeks. Challenging and fun, but then I already expected that. Don't think I didn't take notice of his finish time of 4:45:21.

Check it out here.

So far this week its just been an easy 4 on Tuesday over in Via Verde on the horse path and an easy 6 tonight on the Santa Fe Dam bike path. Mile 2 came in at 8:08, closer to marathon pace than I wanted to be. I forced myself to slow down a little and ended the run with a 8:24 overall pace. I've got another easy 4 tomorrow then the Xterra Scramble La Jolla Canyon Legend 18k on Saturday.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

ReShredded?

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Bryan, our son, wanted to spend the day at the NPPL tournament at the Orange County Fairgrounds on Saturday. He wanted to be there about the time that I would normally be in the middle of my run. My wife would also be at her yoga class. I can run anytime so I got him there around 9:00 and then drove on down to Laguna Niguel for my run in Aliso & Wood Canyon.

I was surprised at the number of cars there around 9:45. I had thought that maybe a lot of people would have gotten out early and been done. I had checked by log and blog entry from the last time I ran this with the Cruisers and Jeff. The trip from the parking lot up the canyon trails, up Cholla and Westridge to the Top of the World was 14 miles roundtrip. My schedule called for 12. Since I wouldn’t be able to tell where the 6 mile turnaround was I decided to do the whole 14.

About 3 miles into the run I came upon a lady runner. We exchanged greetings and I commented on our late start. It was at least 10:00 by then. She asked me if I was going to Cholla and back. I told her my plans to make it to Top of the World and back. She commented that I had a long day ahead of me. I wouldn’t realize until later just how long.

It was pretty warm out there. We are having a pretty typical heat wave for October in SoCal. When I got to Cholla, I determined to make it all the way up without a walk step this time (Jeff!). I made it and then took a nice little break at the top. Up to that point I had only seen about a half dozen runners, most of them heading out and a couple dozen bikers. I’m not sure who was in all those cars in the parking lot.

On the way up Westridge, I started feeling the toll of the heat and the up hill. Basically the run is 7 miles up, from the canyon to Top of the World, followed by 7 miles back down. I crested what I thought was the last hill, even walking part of it, to find that I still had another section and hill to go before I got to TotW. I thought about calling it 6 but kept going. I really needed to refill my water at the fountain at the Top. I walked part of that hill too. Last time I commented that the hills on Westridge weren’t too tough. Saturday I’d say they were a lot tougher. I took another break at the top and then headed on down.

The run down was pretty uneventful through Cholla and about halfway down the Canyon trails. About 11 miles into the run, I was getting really tired. I began to take 1 minute walk breaks and then shuffled along. The walk breaks stayed at a minute but came closer and closer together. Finally, the last mile I think I walked more of it than I ran. I had absolutely no gas, no steam, no nothing left. I remembered feeling like this at about the same point on my runs after SEAFAIR. Here I was two weeks post SGM with nothing in the tanks. I promised myself that after Tecumseh, I would take some time off.

As I approached the last 100 yards of the trail or so, I began to run again. It was a joke. I wasn’t fooling anybody that would have seen me. I certainly wasn’t fooling myself, but I just couldn’t “cross the finish line” walking. My time up was 1:11; my time down was 1:22, pretty pitiful. I had expected to negative split considering the downhill return.

I learned that Aliso & Wood Canyons are more challenging than I first remembered. There is almost no tree cover so running in the middle of the day is not the best idea. Having a partner along would have kept the motivation level up. I was also happy to find out that my legs didn’t end up with that shredded feeling of the last run.

I followed up today with my usual Bonelli loop (clockwise). I woke up on time and contemplated going later in the day to ease the Sunday morning breakfast/church crunch. Then I remembered how warm it got yesterday and jumped up to take advantage of the morning coolness. I’m glad I did its 85°F right now at 4:30 p.m. I didn’t break any land speed records this morning (52:21), but my legs felt good.

Miles for the 31.

On a random note, on the trail Saturday, I came upon a couple walking the coolest dog. It turns out it was a Labradoodle. It looked like a curly haired Lab. It had a super easy going personality. I like larger dogs. We currently have a German Shepherd mix, Boomer. I doubt that I would actually seek out this breed, especially since they are considered designer, but this particular one was intriguing.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Back at It

Did anybody notice that my oldest son, the one off at cooking school in San Diego, commented on the blog after SGM. Very cool. That brought a big old smile to dear old Dad's face.

Well, this week I'm back at it, albeit, with a fairly relaxed attitude. December will be here like tomorrow.

Tuesday I had planned an easy 3 miler. I had already determined not to wear the watch. My back and neck have been kind of all tweaky since the marathon. I hate to keep harping on it, but I think this hip/muscle thing has everything a little tweaked. Before I even started the run, I had the twinge of a head ache. I sometimes get these nasty headaches that start on the right side of my neck and then circle my head and make my eyeballs feel like they are going to burst. Sometimes these are brought on by dehydration, but I had tried to drink a lot of water throughout the day. Once I get running everything usually loosens up and I'm alright. Tuesday's easy 3 turned into THE worst run EVER. Even before I hit the first mile the pain in my head was so severe, each step felt like my head would explode. I finally had to walk for about a quarter of a mile. I was too stubborn to turn back early. I finally was able to start "jogging" again and finished up most of the run. I ended up walking the last quarter as well. Its a good thing I hadn't timed this one, I hadn't "run' this slow ever. After a couple of acetaminophen when I got home and dinner I felt a little better.

Wednesday, my back and neck were sore most of the day. Wednesday I headed over to the Dam right after work for a 6 miler. The multiple marathon schedule called for 6 miles at marathon pace. I've never really tried to do a pace run so decided to give it a try. I had just been reading about them here when I was figuring out my schedule. I decided to see how my head would feel after yesterday to determine just how far I would go at pace. I also had planned on a mile warm up and another cool down. The first mile I took it easy for 9:30 which includes the hill to get up on top of the dam. At the mile marker I ramped up the speed, attempting to get to 8:00 miles. I hit that 2nd mile in 8:08. Not too bad, I thought, since I don't have a really good feel for this. I kept going on pace for mile 3 and finished that one in 7:32. Whoa, how did that happen? I actually felt pretty good. A headache did not appear. At this point its a turn around to retrace my steps back to the car for 3 more. I opted for mile 4 as a recovery mile at 8:54 including a 30 second walk break at the beginning. Mile 5 I jumped back into the pace part and finished that one in 7:30. I finished up the last cool down mile in 8:23. I was pretty happy with the way the whole thing worked out. I think next time I'll try to put 3 miles together in the middle with 1.5 miles on either end at a slower pace. Eventually kicking it up to a full 4 at marathon pace over the next few weeks before Tecumseh. Since I'm not focusing on speed there, I thought this relaxed cycle would be a good time to try something new. Ultimately I need to extend those pace runs farther and farther. I need to string together 26.2 miles at less that 8:00 to get that BQ.

Tonight I went out for another easy 3 over in Via Verde. Everything felt pretty good. After the run I picked up Veggie burritos from Taco Ready. That definitely hit the spot.

I'm not sure what Saturday's run will be. Bryan needs a ride to a paintball thing in the OC so I may head out to Aliso and Wood Canyon late in the morning.

My check for registration for Tecumseh cleared the bank today. Everything is coming together.

In reply to some of your comments:
Wes: me worry, no way! and I'll pretty much guarantee I won't be spending that kind of change on a pair of aluminum running spikes that I'll wear once.

Rice: I actually love hills. Although I'm more of a mule than a mountain goat on the way up.

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Prediction of Things to Come

I track my runs in one of those spiral bond running journals. The top of every week has a motivational quote. This week's is:

You entered a marathon with hills? You idiot. - Don Kardong (American writer & Olympian).

I thought that was pretty curious timing since today starts the "official training" for Tecumseh, which reportedly has its fair share of hills. Ironic? But wait, to top things off in today's mail I got a flyer for this snazzy little item. Should I start worrying? It hasn't snowed on Tecumseh in its short 3 year history, but the northern and eastern part of the country have been experiencing unusually early snowfalls this year. Makes a 24-year So Cal transplant shiver to think about it.

With only 8 weeks between marathons I had to work up a schedule. I took the first week off as recovery from St. George, so now I've only got 7 weeks left. I've decided that I will take this cycle easy. I took my cues from Hal Higdon's multiple marathon schedule. During the week I'll be putting in 14 miles over 3 days, with a long run on Saturday and my favorite Bonelli 5-mile loop on Sundays. I plan on keeping the pace easy during the week and hitting as many trail runs as possible for the long runs.

I got an email the other day about the La Jolla Canyon Legend 18 and 11K races next weekend and am considering running it. The 18K is less than the 18 miles I had planned for that day but I can hardly pass up the opportunity to run the trails. This race is put on by the same people that put on the Malibu Creek Trail Challenge I did in 2005. I enjoyed that one, I expect that I'll enjoy this one too.

Maybe I am an idiot, but I intend on enjoying the next 7 weeks. I'll start worrying about the weather around week 5.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

My Aching Calves

Hate is a strong word,
but I really, really, really don't like you.
- Plain White T's

This song came on the radio within minutes of reaching the Rio Java Cafe, our designated run start today. With my propensity for replaying the last song I hear over and over in my head during a run, I changed the channel as fast as I could to blot that one out. To me that song has the lyrical depth of a third grade poem. When someone has to resort to using the same word three times in a row they apparently don't have much to say. The station I switched to was playing "Chasing Cars" by Snow Patrol. I don't really care for that song either, but it was far less objectionable than the first one. Too bad the CD player in my car doesn't work any more.

The Cruisers were a small group today, only 7 of us. I ran for 3 miles with Cecil before he turned around. I was planning on 10, so finished the last 7 on my own. One week post marathon, I had no time goals. I started out slow, >10:00 miles and finished up around 8:30's for an average pace of 9:00 (90 minutes for 10 miles). By mile 2 my right calf was giving me the business. The left one caught up a couple of miles later. I've never experienced this kind of stiffness and tightness before. By mile 6 or so, my quads were complaining too. They were saying "Hey, we just ran a downhill marathon last week, what are you doing to us?". Luckily they didn't let me down.

So, if you've seen the new title of the blog you know that I'm off to Indiana next. When? Where? Why? you may ask. Well Indiana is a state right and they have a marathon there right? So of course I would eventually end up there. What follows is my attempt to explain the answers to the 5 W's of any good story.

Who: Me of course. And Joe from Run with Perseverance.

What: the 4th Annual Tecumseh Trail Marathon

Where: Bloomington, IN

When: December 2, 2006 just 8 weeks after St George. From the FAQ's on the website: "How difficult is it really? Hmm... Pretty difficult. Try it and find out!" Since this will be my first trail marathon I won't have a time goal. I'm just going to enjoy the run.

Why: Here's the long part. Why this race and why now? Way back in the fall of 2003 when I was training with Snail's Pace for my first marathon, Dr. John completed his 50th state. I hadn't even completed my first marathon yet, but I was enchanted with the idea of doing this myself. I spent hours that fall scouring the internet, especially marathonguide.com for races in every state. I started a list of the races I wanted to do. I first picked the states where I had relatives. Ohio would be Cleveland to visit my parents. I planned Hartford, CT to visit my in-laws. Now they live in PA so I've got Harrisburg on the list. In Florida I've planned Clearwater or Tampa and my parents will come down to visit my aunt there. Of course, Chicago and NYC are on the list as well. I got SEAFAIR in Washington this year as a birthday present.

Anyway back to the original story, during the fall of 2003, I came across an article about the inaugural Tecumseh Trail Marathon. I just sounded really fun and challenging, something different to do rather than a road race. It made it onto my list as my Indiana marathon of choice.

Back at the end of this July, I commented on Joe's blog after he had hiked up Pike's Peak with his son David, asking when he was going to run the marathon version. He replied it was a serious maybe and in preparation for it was considering a trail marathon in Indiana in the late fall. Another email confirmed that the marathon in question was indeed Tecumseh. Joe graciously offered to be my host in Indiana, so the plans started brewing. Joe was running the Portland marathon just a week before I would be running St George so we both had about the same amount of time to rest and prepare. While Joe was in Portland, I bought my airline tickets and mailed in my race entry and state #8 was officially on the schedule a week before #7 was on the books.

So, in December I'm off to Indiana to run what looks to be an unforgettable marathon along with Joe who I've come to admire and respect through the blogosphere. I'm looking forward to it. Now if I could just get my calves to catch up with my brain, I'll be good to go.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Some More of SGM

Here it is Tuesday evening and my legs feel almost normal again. I mentioned that my right quad was sore even before the race was over. There was this strange discrepancy the rest of that day. By Sunday morning that had pretty much evened out. Monday the quads and calves were still sore, big time. I think this is pretty much how they felt after my first marathon. In July I was ready to run the next day. Not this time! I think I'm going to take the whole week off and then join the Cruisers somewhere on Saturday morning. I was able to get an adjustment and massage on Monday night. Very well timed and deserved, I think.

This picture is me almost to the finish line. I'm all stoked about the fact that I'm actually up on my toes mid run. I never did resort to the dreaded marathon shuffle in this one.

Here's a one of me and Dean. I'm not exactly sure what's up with me and the "attitude" pose. Say what you will about Dean, but he's a pretty darn nice guy. He was getting a little panicked at this point. He needed to get back to his bus for a 12 hour drive to Albuquerque for number 22.

There's something about the St George marathon that keeps people coming back year after year. There is a large 10 year club and even a 20 year club. The volunteers at the expo pasta feed was super nice. The starting area was very organized. The bonfires were a really cool touch that I've never seen anywhere else. Those clothes that I was so worried about; my wife picked them up for me at the end of the race in about 30 second flat. The course was breathtaking. Starting in the dark and witnessing the day begin was very memorable. Because the course is not spectator friendly, the people of St George hang signs of encouragement on every road sign along the way. It was fun to read these messages. Someone had scrawled a marriage proposal in chalk on the road. I wonder if she said yes? At one of the ranches along the way I saw the most magnificent dark gray horse running along the fence. I saw a sign that said "Run, Bee-otches, Run". That one made me laugh out loud. I've got to admit that running 26.2 miles is a pretty absurd hobby. The sign seemed appropriate. The medals are really unique. They are a stone medallion with the race logo each one is slightly different from the next.

After some Blue Bunny ice cream at the finish line, and a shower, Lisa and I headed over to Zion National Park for a quick drive through. We didn't really have enough time to take the scenic tram tour but we did drive through the mile tunnel and then back through again. We took a lot of photos. The rock formations are just incredible in size, texture and complexity. It is amazing the difference in the rocks on opposite sides of the tunnel. It is almost as though you've left one park and entered another. Someone said "They're just rocks" but they are some pretty amazing rocks. On our way out we stopped in Springdale at the Bumbleberry Inn and had a slice of Bumbleberry Pie, ala mode of course. I just ran a marathon, I could eat pretty much anything I wanted. I love that!

We met up with all the CA Cruisers for dinner and had a great time reliving the events of the day. After dinner Lisa and I got to see a production of Cats at the Tuacahn Amphitheatre in Ivins, about 25 minutes outside of St George. Tuacahn is an outdoor amphitheatre nestled into the red rock canyons. At dinner and at the show there were many people sporting their long sleeve technical burnt orange shirts. Kinda cool. Sunday morning we went for breakfast at the Bear Paw Cafe. You know how much I love breakfast. I would definitely recommend this place. It was full of runners, too. Very large portions. I had the Bear Paw omelet. It came with home fries and a biscuit. Yummy. We made the drive home in 5.5 hours. We did stop for ice cream at Diary Queen in Barstow. I was still giving myself permission to indulge.

As some of you have commented, now I need to update the name of this little blog. I could go with the obvious "Seven Down, Forty Three To Go". I've also contemplated something like "The Countdown Continues" so I'd never have to change it again. What do you think? I've got #8 planned but I'll save the reveal for another day.

Y'all come back now, you hear! Don't go a-losin' me just 'cause I change my name.