Wednesday, December 15, 2010

CIM Report and 2011 Plans

I can tell it “Tis the season”, I’ve had no time to write since CIM. Regardless the world has been interesting since CIM.


The race did not go off as planned, but I kind of expected it. Being sick after Clarksburg 20 mile threw me off my game a lot. Regardless I went into the race with the plan I had for some time, go with the 3:10 group and see what happens. By the half I was a little off on time, but feeling smooth enough that I thought I could hold on. I figured I would fade into the 3:15 area.

It was a warm day and I was drinking and eating a lot. My hammies were twitchy by 22 miles and I was slowing. I had to stop and shake them a few times, but I finished feeling good, but crampy. I decided against an all out finish push to save time. My Ultra Training group was starting up the following week. I wanted a quick recovery since my goal was not to be met (3:10 or under).

I learned and re-learned things I had forgotten about run training for CIM. Mainly you can’t go easy (aerobic) all the time. Sometimes you got to go hard and varying your pace is key to improvement. I had gotten into a rut training for Ultra’s.

I look forward to expanding my training in 2011. On the plus side my weight for CIM dropped without trying. I was hovering around 175lbs (I’m about 6’3”) since Clarksburg.

Ultra Training Group

We ended up going well over our 30 person limit. With some more coaches helping us out I think we will still give a great level of attention to all the runners. I look forward to the coming weeks as we get to know the new runners. I should have some pics weekly now as we delve into the trails.

2011 Plans

The Western States 100 Lottery was the day before CIM. I was not selected this year, very sad. The Lottery was a lot of fun catching up with people I had not seen in a while. I know I’ll be back to the race again, so no worries. Kirk got in so I plan to help him train, it will be his first 100 miler.

With the holiday season still kicking me in the head, training has been minimal. It is for the best since 2011 is going to be epic. I turn 40 in April so I want this whole year to be full of fun.

Since States is out I needed to find another 100 miler to run. Tahoe Rim Trail 100 came to mind and is still in orbit around my brain. Other contender’s are The Canadian Death Race, The Trans-Rockies (or the 3-day version) and Rio Del Lago 100. RDL would be fun mostly because it’s local and low key. TRT100 is at the top because it scares the shit out of me; it’s beautiful and is close.

I have also looked at not doing a 100 miler in favor of more races, namely 100K’s. PCTR has a new September 100K in Tahoe that could be fun. Where’s Waldo 100K has been on my radar for years, I hear it’s tough. And finally there is the Bishop 100K. I have wanted to go back and race Bishop for some time. The last time I was there they did not have a 100K.

That would also be the beauty of RDL or another late season 100 (Javalina??). I don’t have to decide now and if the 100K’s go well I can probably still decide to do one later and get it. Locking big races in 6+ months in advance can kind of suck after a while. So the preliminary 2011:

Way to Cool 50K
Lake Sonoma 50 mile
Bishop 100K
TRT100 ???
Where’s Waldo 100K
Lake Tahoe 100K or RDL100??

Some people have told me to just do it all. A very good idea, but I have some big family vacations in 2011, (Disney Cruise for a week in the Bahamas).  I also want to get some fast packing done.  Mt Whitney and a few 14’ers are also calling me and the wife’s name.  Oh and I'll be doing the R2R2R in April, going all the way this time.

Decisions decisions, 2011 will be a great one.  Time to get my butt in motion.


Monday, December 6, 2010

This just in about Way to Cool 50k

The course has changed go here to check it out:   WTC Course  The Lottery opened today so get your entry in, it's going to be a barn burner.

More on this and my CIM later.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Up next the CIM, but “THE LOTTERY” is first and Waffles

It’s been an interesting life since Clarksburg. I got a nasty stomach flu that has derailed my running. My daughter had it first, then me and now Lily has it. Like me Lily is running CIM this Saturday. I’ve kicked my sickness, but life and running just can’t get in the groove.

Saturday I found my cat had the boots put to him by someone. That and typical holiday family stress have made life BLAH, for lack of a better term.

I’m more than rested and tapered and last Saturday’s 12 miler felt good. So we will see what I’ve got in me Sunday. The final plan is to go with the 3:10 group. The body will dictate any further changes come race day.

Lottery Time

Saturday’s Lottery for Westerns States will have the biggest effect on my race. If I get in I’ll be that guy smiling with the care free attitude regardless of the 25deg temps. If I don’t get in I’ll probably be a bit more focused, but still having a good time.

The past few CIM’s I’ve run have been to pace Lily or someone else.  Last year I picked up the fashionable item around my neck from the side of the road.  The scarf will be in full effect Sunday have no doubt.

I had the pleasure of recently trying out the new Honey Stinger Waffle

Holy Mother of Calories (160) these little suckers are awesome.  They are based on a Dutch stroopwafel. 

I want a homemade one like this, YUM I suggest you go over to Fleet Feet Fair Oaks and try one out.


Monday, November 15, 2010

A perfect day

Yesterday was a perfect day, (in case you were not aware). How did this rare event in the cosmic pinwheel of existence happen you ask? Well here are the ingredients:

1. A glorious sunrise, think purple, orange, red, yellow

2. Excellent weather

3. LOTS of friends, both new and old

4. A well executed race

5. No stress

The Story of how it all came together

Yesterday was my last big run before my goal of running the California International Marathon for time. The Clarksburg Country Run has been around forever. I first ran it as a junior in High School. I have a photo from the run, but the scanner broke before I could post it. Just visualize a big haired 168lb version of me in red split sided nylon running shorts.

My plan was to run a controlled race to nail down my pace for CIM. My recent training indicated a 7:10 - 7:15 pace was a definite possibility for the marathon. I figured I would go out around this pace and go for even pacing. If the legs felt good then I would try for negative splits.

Prior to the race my buddy Nick Bingham came to town. I’ve known Nick since high school. Nick is the guy you love to hate (from a running perspective). Nick is super talented, his marathon PR is in the low 2:20’s. He placed 5th his 1st year at Western States 100, he has notched a lot of wins in his career, you get my point.

Nick’s daughter Sarah and my daughter Izabella were born 7 days apart and get along great. So Saturday they dropped by so Sarah could spend the night with us. Nick and his son Andrew spent time with Grandpa. We have done this in past when Nick is in town for races. I knew from experience that I would not need to run Saturday before the race, the girls tax me enough. Who knew building fairy houses out of leaves in the backyard could be so taxing.

I awoke early race morning after going to bed early. Nothing like 10 hours of sleep to recharge your batteries before a race. As I drove to the race start I found myself looking at a glorious sunrise across the valley. It was at this point I realized my camera’s battery was dead. So this perfect day had one negative, no photos, but it was the only negative of the day.


The weather was perfect, sunny but cool. There was a head wind on the way out, but nothing too drastic. After a warm-up, I put my watch on and was ready to go. No drop bags and loading of gear. It’s just you and your socks, shoes shorts and shirt. No packs, or bottles, flasks, iPods. I had gels, but only two. I actually used that little pocket inside my shorts (a first) to hold one gel; I held my other gel in my hand.

At the start I saw Lainie Mattoon and Ray Sanchez. Off we went and I settled into 7:15ish pace for the first 3 miles. I felt a bit dead legged, but relaxed. After mile 5 I settled in with another runner and my pace began to comfortably hover around 7:10 most of the time.

I ate a gel at 6 miles and again at 10 miles. At the 10 mile mark the guy I had been running with picked it up. It felt good so I went with him. As we moved along I realized we were pulling some guys back. I later realized we were now running about 6:50 pace. It felt fine, but it was intimidating running this fast with 7 miles to go at point. I felt good but after a few miles I settled it down to 7’s.

The remaining miles I held strong, no problems. I thankfully took another gel they offered at an aid station. If I hadn’t I think I might have had a bonk issue at the end of the race.

At four to go I thought about speeding up again just to see what I had. When I did it seemed to take too much effort so I just stayed put. At two to go I up’d the pace again to see if I was close to the end of my rope. A slight cramp at one mile to go told me to cool my jets, so I did.

I finished feeling strong and in good form, no feet slapping or labored breathing. I definitely still had 10K of running in me at the pace I was moving at. I grabbed some water and ran/walked a few miles for a cool down. My time was 2:22 and change, good enough for a 7:08 paced run.

I spoke to Kuni and Dasie Yamagata before and after the race. I also ran into Ralph and Sharon from my trail running group. I also ran into Jacob Rydman and his wife Sara. Sara won her age group, nice work!! I saw Mark Lantz, Eric Skaden, and John Blue and just about everyone else from the area. I was surprised to see my buddy Thor Anderson. He came up from Monterey at the last minute to run in prep for CIM.

I really enjoyed seeing everyone and having a great time running. The day got better after I drove home, two words: ice cream. A perfect day, the ice bath didn’t even faze me.

What next

I accomplished all my goals for this event. I learned valuable information about my fitness and my pacing for CIM. I believe I have a solid 3:10 CIM in me. At this point I think I will go out with the 3:10 pace group and see what develops.

Next up, the dreaded taper and then CIM.


Monday, November 1, 2010

The new black, cool Blogs, and of course, cool gear

Black is the ubiquitous color in sports and general fashion.  Black running shorts are a mainstay for me and many other runners.  Cyclists are worse than runners when it comes to wearing black shorts, only the elite hammerheads wear the colored spandex like theses guys:

I personally think colored spandex cycling shorts are for another reason, but the photo illustrates that…..

Regardless, like the popularity of the color black, compression sock are all the rage now.  But unless your Paula Radcliffe and have yours color matched to your skin tone, the choice is of course, you guessed it, BLACK.  Now some guys and gals are running in white compression socks.  I’m here to show you that the new black are these babies:

As the sexy (and VERY hairy) model demonstrates neon green is the new black.  And the brand to buy is CEP.  Now pink is availble also, but neon green is what the cool kids wear.


I recently saw the review of this pack: Salomon Advanced Skin Lab Pack at The price tag is steep, but it looks to be a very functional and comfortable pack for those epic runs. I’m planning to ply my masculine persuasion on the wife in the near future to obtain one for 2011 adventures.

I recently switched GPS watches after tiring the big red Garmin 305. I love my GPS, but sometimes it just felt too big to wear. It has some draw backs, but the Garmin 110 looks and feels like a watch, but is a GPS. If you’re looking to try a smaller GPS check out the 110 or the just released 210 and 410 that have more functions than the basic 110.


Here are a few blogs and website I’ve picked up on recently I think you should check out:

Jacob Rydman, All round nice guy and someone to watch in 2011.

Rhonda Sundermeier, Great race reports

Sacramentorunning, All things running in and around Sacramento.

Jaymee, Sacramento stud who just qualified for the Trials. She sounds very dedicated to her training, a great read.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Running, it’s a new world when training for the marathon

Eight plus years ago I decided to take up running full time again. I was fed up with cycling in general, (Sorry but yes, everyone dopes in cycling including Cat 3’s). So beyond the occasional ride I was no longer interested in racing. Lily and I were trying to have a baby. The whole “bike riding kills your boner” ad campaign was in full swing in the media, so I was taking a lot of heat for the lack of results. In my own defense, I just thought we needed to do as much practicing as we could. I wanted to get it right when we really wanted to be pregnant.

I always ran a little here and there, but not with any frequency. For almost two years I got fat and out of shape, (making babies is stressful). So when Lily became prego I was out of shape and looking for a running goal. Having lived most of my life in Sacramento I knew all about the Western States 100. Sacramento has a large and diverse running community. I signed up for the American River 50 mile as my first step back to a running career. I figured the bigger the better. The rest is history; I’ve had ups and downs.

With my return to running I changed the way I had run in the past due to a few factors: a.) I was older, b.) I was SLOW and fat and c.) training to run REALLY far was different than anything I had done before. I followed what ultra veterans told me and followed suit. Ultra running in general is pretty basic. Lots of aerobic running and lots of long runs in beautiful places, not a lot of quality running. Mile repeats and threshold running were not needed, 4-5hr runs on a regular basis were.

In recent years I’ve noticed that I was in a rut. Training was fun, but the results were not what I wanted. Don’t get me wrong trail running still beats any other type of running for scenery and location. But lots of runs at about the same pace always worrying about being aerobic and if you ate enough can really start to blow. When I was a tri geek and raced shorter distances and a few marathons we ran all sorts of paces and distances, why not in ultras?

I began to notice that a lot of other runners faster than I were not training the same way. Sure with ultras you got slow down and go long. But these guys would still do some paced runs.

So I began to change up my training and realized I had been (still am) a lazy fool when it came to training. So early in the year I began to change things up. This got me thinking about the road marathon again, that holy grail of pain and discomfort.

With the California International Marathon (CIM) running right by my home the choice for me was easy.

Training Changes

My plan was to begin a structured marathon training plan after SNER. I cobbled together a plan from various marathon greats, mostly Pete Pfitzinger. I’m now a couple of weeks into the plan and I’m enjoying the change of pace, literally. If you haven’t run a tempo or threshold run in a while, do it. Talk about clearing out the cobwebs and learning some things about your running.

Things I’ve learned:

As most runners know, drills and working on running form can help you become more efficient. Not just road running but on the trail. But when was the last time you heard a trail/ultra runner talk about running drills? By bring these aspects into my training I’ve already noticed that I ache less, regardless of running surface, I have quieter feet and feel way more relaxed running at different paces.

Running different paces is helping me immensely. Every workout has a point. When it’s a recovery run I keep it slow. Time to run fast, then I go fast. I’m finding better fitness, but I’m also becoming better in tune to my body. I’m also becoming more efficient using fuel. One gel for 20 milers, with no fade is nice. I look forward seeing if I can carry this over to my ultra training.

Gear, sometimes it’s needed, but I think we ultra people go too far some times. Sure you need bottles and packs sometimes on the really long stuff. But a recent trail 20 miler was two gels and a watch, I felt naked. I’m also coming to the conclusion that my iPod is sabotaging my training.

Will this change in training make me a better ultra runner, who knows? But it has improved my running which has made me really motivated to improve myself and race better. A good place to be prior to 2011.

I ran across this ongoing series of articles from Eric Grossman at Running Times. They are a great read, check them out:

Grossman Motivation Series #1


Oh yeah and I bit the bullet and I'm now on Facebook.  So I have to take back everything bad I ever said about FB or I'd be a bigger hypocrite than I already am.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Sierra Nevada Endurance Runs 52.4

This past Saturday I competed in Julie Fingar’s Sierra Nevada Endurance Runs. I ran the double marathon (52.4 mile) event. Lily and I volunteered to help Julie with packet pick-up the day before. It was fun to meet so many other runners. Lily also helped with other aspects of the race, did post race massage and ran the 12K, (she worked harder than I did that day). As always Julie puts on a great race.

In accessing my fitness I thought I had a 9:30 or under in me, (10:53 pace). Regardless, my main focus was to finish since I needed a WS100 qualifier for the Lottery.

Training of late had been consistent, but I would have liked more long runs (+25 miles). Heat running and acclamation felt good. Hill training had been good, I’d been doing hills a lot more than even I realized. I will definitely be going back to the big hills near my Echo Lake cabin for next year.

September weather leading up to the race was ever changing. The Sunday before the race it was cold and I got rained on a little while running. The cool temps we had made me hope race day would be the same, NOT! 96 degrees was the forecast. It was that temperature at least, but it felt more like we were 10 ft from the sun.

The Race

From the gun I hung with a group of runners I knew or had just met. They included Tony Overbay, Lainie Callahan, and others. The pace we relaxed and everyone seemed content. From course knowledge I knew I needed to be on my own before the gnarly single-track hit. I slowing left on my own before Buzzards Cove. I find running with a group through this section can make you run other runners paces. I soon hooked up with Eric Toschi. We ran together for a while and keep the pace conversational. Eric had just run the TRT100.

The HRM was reading right where I wanted it to be and I was running relaxed. I walked a few of the short steeps to make sure I was running within myself. Eric went on his own after Avery’s Pond when I had my prerequisite pit stop to make. I later found out we were running in 2nd and 3rd place, (never been there before).

The section from Avery’s Pond to Cardiac went well, but the heat was coming on. I ate and drank everything I planned to. I stuck to my plan and hiked Cardiac. I ate and drank as I hiked after loading up at the aid station. Just prior to the Overlook I felt a twitch in my inner thigh, not good. So I went into overtime with the salt/water. In hind sight I needed to do even more. Regardless I felt great at the Overlook. I got a surprise; Lily was there taking photos. On the back side I stayed in control to keep from running the downhill too hard.

The ascent back up was uneventful, but the twitches were there and then gone, again not a good sign. I concentrated on staying relaxed and drinking, etc. I saw Kuni Yamagata on the way up and told him about my issues as I rubbed my leg for a second. Kuni is one tough runner, so in response he sprayed me with water and ran off.

From the Overlook and back to the bottom of Cardiac I stuck to my plan, but the twitches were there. I jumped into the canal twice and it felt so good. I really love that canal, most of the year it’s a free ice bath. In the summer it’s a life saving cool off.

At Rattlesnake Bar I was having serious issues. Mark Lantz was there and told me to take even more salt. Thinking I was taking enough (2-3 an hour) I threw caution to the wind and just downed it like candy. Mark is an Ultra god so I’ll do what he says.

The remaining miles had a LOT of hiking involved. Regardless I keep at it and didn’t lose myself. Around Avery’s Pond I got more nauseous than I ever have in a race. At one point I looked at my finger and thought about doing IT, but I didn’t.

Coke, ice water, salt and lying in all bodies of water defined my life from Rattlesnake Bar aid station to the end. If you have run near Avery’s Pond you’ve seen the horse troth by the bridge. Oh yeah I swam in that, (sorry Mr. Ed).

I finally felt better right before the Twin Rocks aid station. A bit too late to matter, but I was able to run from there to the finish. At least I could finish like a runner and not a hiker at the end. All said a tough, but rewarding day.  10hrs and change for 5th over all.

Afterwards it was great to hang out and watch my fellow runner’s finish. The men’s winner will be someone to watch. I briefly meet Ronda Sundermeier whose blog I have read in the past. I got some great photos of her and some other runners.

Melisa had a super tough day. She was dealing with physical issues that would have made me a DNS. Regardless she continues reinforce her new nickname I have for her, Tough As Nails (TAS). Her report should be coming soon here.


The Nike Pegasus (road version) continues to be a great shoe for me even on the trails. Only one blister, which I didn’t know was there till it was over.

My Nathan waist pack was great, I’m glad I switched to it.

I had been toying with using a Patagonia white long sleeve to block the sun and keep me wet longer. I had tried it in training and liked what it did for me. I guess I didn’t do it at the race because I’m dumb. Next time I’m going to give it a shot.

Drymax socks: Best damn socks ever.

I know the following about me: Heat = no appetite. I used Ensure at the race which I hadn’t done in a while. It worked for me even when my stomach went south. This reinforces to me that liquid food works the best for me, especially in the heat. Looks like its back to Ensure and the Hammer liquid food products.

iPod: I went without music for most of the race. I’ve been doing in training and I think it’s a good idea. I definitely pay more attention to myself and the race without music.

A few photos of the race.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Woozy Again and a Labor Day Cabin Weekend

So Friday was my second test at UC Davis Sports Medicine. I had all my food intake cataloged and I was again starving my ass off. As I had posted a few days ago. I got a bit woozy when the arm catheter was put into my arm for the blood draws.

I felt better this morning so I figured I was past it. Well I was wrong, as soon at I laid down to have my 3ml blood draw my stomach dropped. So after some discussion with the staff I dropped out of the study. I was really bummed, but it was just too much stress.

I also found that after the 80min test the day before I was REALLY depleted. This made getting back to work a bit of a challenge. I was dragging for a while and all I wanted to do was eat. Another few weeks of that and my boss was probably going to notice.

Cabin Trip

So after Izabella got out of school at noon we drove up to our cabin at Echo Lakes for the Labor Day Weekend. My mom, sister, her husband and my two nephews came along also.

As always it was a relaxing weekend, when at the cabin the Brantley’s know how to chill. It was a little more “energetic” around the cabin than most visits. My mom and family are a bit more tied to the urban life than us. Regardless we had a nice visit together.

I ran to the “Y” (10 miles) on Saturday to meet Lily who hit up the Pearl Izumi Outlet for a great deal on this jacket: Pearl Izumi P.R.O.  It was a great run, cool temp’s and I didn’t feel the altitude.

Lily and I then got out early Sunday for a big run. It was odd to be cold at the start, temps were about 50deg, with lots of cooling wind. Lily set her sights on Lake Aloha or 3hrs, whichever came first. I was going to do 3-4hrs, but later I wanted to hang with Lily so I looped back after hitting Lake Aloha. It was a good choice Lily rocked the run and we had some great Husband/Wife time together on the trail, (no sex just running).  The trail we ran had it all, rocky single track, climbs, sand, and altitude. Lily was smiles the whole time. She even stuck a “1up” Pose at the top of the climb to Haypress Meadows:

I later ran on a head and later met her at the Echo Chalet for a leg soak. We concluded later that the cooler temps and the Paleo Diet she been following has helped her fitness and health. Lily loved the run, she’s got the trail bug for sure now. We talked a lot about Way to Cool 50K.

The trail:

Lily rocking the switch backs

A low Lake Aloha

Weight loss has affected how my clothes fit, (OK that's a lie, I'm just being a dork, but only because the shorts are too big and when I do this it embarrasses Lily):

All smiles:
My Moment of Zen


Thursday, September 2, 2010

UC Davis Study 1st Week test #1

So I did my 2nd trial today as part of the UC Davis study. As directed I showed up with an empty stomach ready to run. The past week of food cataloging was interesting. FYI, chicken sandwiches are NOT a good idea a fast food joints if you’re pressed for lunch. The next couple of hours were interesting to say the least.


First up was my weight, 181.2lbs, (NICE!). Last week it was 184lbs, the staff was suspect that I was changing my diet for the tests. I reminded them that I had eaten breakfast before last week. I also had to share that I was not so “regular” for a few days last week at that time. (T.M.I, but hey it’s all about the science)

Next up was a catheter in my wrist for the blood draws on the treadmill. Gretchen did great, I didn’t even feel it. Also set to go I took it slow and got up. The next feeling I had was WOOZY. So I lay down and played the please feel better game for 15 minutes. This was unexpected and sucked. Eventually I was up and running. The staff was great and said it happens a lot. Hopefully this won’t be an issue again.

Treadmill Test

So we get going with the test which was a bit more involved than the stated, run 80 mins, take food protocol every 20mins with a blood draw. I also had to wear the head and mouth gear for 10 minutes prior to the blood draw for breath testing. The head gear sucks, but I brought a hat which really helped to hold it up.

Per the max test I would be running at 7min mile pace, (OUCH). With the summer here I have to run when it’s really hot 5pm. As such 7min miles for 80mins haven’t been on the plate too much in the past months. So I’m thinking to myself, “This will be fun on an empty stomach”.

Change #2 was that I didn’t get a lot of food as part of the protocol. Today was Clif Shot Bloks. Shot Bloks are 100 calories for 3 Bloks. I figured I would get that much at least, nope I got two. Did I mention I started the test with a growling stomach? I will say the Bloks are pretty good, something to look at for a future race.

So the test went good, I would put the iPod on when I wasn’t wearing the head gear. No problems with the blood draws. Towards the end I was feeling a little drained, but I felt I good still go for quite a while. If I can build on my current fitness my C.I.M goals might work out.

The 5K run after the 80 minutes was at any pace, but they cover everything up. I went about the same pace at the 80 min test, but slowed it a bit towards the end.

Post Test

My weight was down 2lbs. Gretchen checked the blood work and said my electrolytes were great even with the water loss. She told me I must be a good sweater, but efficient when it come to electrolytes use. (HHmmmmm that sounds like a good skill set for a certain hot 100 miler I know).

I now have to do post test evaluations about soreness, etc at 2hr and 5hrs. I started fueling right away with an Endurox shake and a Clif Bar soon after. About an hour after the test I really bonked as I was getting ready for lunch. Taco Bell was my lunch choice, I back at work and in the field. I must say the tacos were perfect, all four of them.

Tomorrow will be a small blood draw followed by a 10K time trial at pace. After the test tomorrow the family is going to our cabin at Echo Lake. I foresee a lot of relaxing this weekend; the planned 20 miler might be adjusted.


Monday, August 30, 2010

UC Davis Study 1st Day

Last Friday I started my 3.5 week life as a guinea pig for the UC Davis Raisin Study. The first day was not too bad a lot of paperwork and medical tests. This was followed by a max heart rate treadmill test. For the EKG I needed a little “Manscaping”: 

Superman had an "S", I have a "P".

My 7yr old daughter later gave me the "I told you to shave it" talk about my chest carpet.

I am quickly finding that a hard part of the study will be tracking what I eat. The hard part is not looking up what I eat and writing down the calories, etc.  It’s more the grim reality that I could still improve this area of my life a lot.  Since Friday I've been writing it all down.  If I don't lose weight doing this I'll be amazed.

Another part of the study that will be difficult will be the night and mornings before the tests. They want me to eat a Clif Bar at 10pm the night before.  I then can’t eat anything else unless it’s part of the protocol during the run test.  I was told the day that it’s a water only protocol the run is very tough.  Everything else checked out and it was time to get on the treadmill. Here is what the training room looked like:

I was unable to get to my previous max HR of 198 bpm (2009). I made 200 bpm in 2006, but its hell to get old.  The test showed a VO2 of 54.3, nice! That better than the past few years, (VO2 50). The printer wouldn’t work so I’ll get a printout of my training zones, and paces later.

Next up on Thursday:  An 80 minute run at 75% VO2 followed by a 5K as fast as possible with either water, gel, or raisins for fuel.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guinea Pig

Beginning Friday August 27th, that will be my new title for the 3.5 weeks after. I just found out I was accepted to a research study conducted by UC Davis Sports medicine. The study is looking at the effects of different carbohydrate supplementation types on exercise performance in marathon runners.

I didn’t quite fit what they were looking for in an applicant, since I do more Ultra running. The study was looking for marathoners. But after emailing and giving them some information about myself I was accepted.

I have gone to UC Davis Sports Medicine in the past for my VO2/lactate testing. I got the tests done to better use my HRM. These tests helped me get ready for 2007 WS100. The three tests I took over the months leading up to the race showed how my training was going where I need to take it. The guys also gave me advice on how to tweak my training and eating.

So here is what the two-day a week protocol will look like as sent to me:

“You will be asked to come in the first week for a maximal exercise test. Two hours after consuming a predetermined breakfast snack, you will come into the lab where we will take skin folds to assess body composition and we will perform a resting electrocardiogram. After a 15 minute warm-up, you will be asked to complete a graded exercise test.

You will be participating in sub-maximal testing and 10K time trials either on Thursday/Friday mornings (~8:00AM – 11:00AM) for 3 weeks to test 3 different types of carbohydrate supplementation (raisins, water, and gels). On your first testing day of that week, you will be asked to run at 75% VO2 for 80 minutes and then run a 5K as fast as possible. During this time, VO2 and blood samples will be taken every 20 minutes. You will also be asked to consume a carbohydrate supplement at that time.

On the second study day, a 3 ml blood draw will precede a 10K time trial. Two drops of blood will be taken after the 10K as well. Each week you will be consuming a different carbohydrate supplement and each testing day you will be asked to do a 24 hour diet recall.”

In review I figure the all out 5K at the end of the 80 minute run at 75% V02 is going to sting a bit. The next part that will sting is the skin fold fat test.

Regardless I’m excited to be a part of this trial. My hope is that this will help me move my training forward to another level.

I’ll be posting my results as I go, but I might leave out the skin fold test results.

They are still looking for applicants if your interested look here:

Flyer with information:


Monday, August 16, 2010

Cal Street running instead of racing

In place of running the canceled Wildest Run 100K race on Saturday I had plans for an all day mountain bike ride on the Flume Trail in Tahoe. I haven’t really broken in my new Specialized carbon hardtail so I figured this would do it. But like the race my plans were canceled when my partner in crime had to back out.

My other idea was do speed hike in Desolation Wilderness like I’ve been wanting to. Well I wasn’t looking to be solo boy all weekend so I scraped that for later.

Running Option #2, (I always seem to have one). Run my favorite part of the WS100 course, California Street or Cal St. as the cool people say. I was able to gather a great group of friends for the run. There was Melisa, (Pigeon), Pam (Trailmomma), and Paula (Mrs. P). All three were part of my AR50 training group earlier in the year.

Check Pam’s blog and Melisa’s blog for great photos and run reports. If you haven’t run Cal Street the photos between the two blogs will give you a good idea what it’s all about.

****Disclaimer***** The photos of me at the start in my Charlie Brown t-shirt and knit scarf are a LONG story. Just laugh at me like I did, (Thanks Pam).

Here is a list of things learned on the run:

• I’m afraid of spiders, Paula is not.

• Paula can move trees with one hand, I cannot.

• Melisa has a very large pain threshold.

• Pam is afraid of all birds.

• I’m a dork, (too much evidence to post, read the blogs).

• You can’t run with Pam, Melisa, or I without striking a JC Penny pose

Weekend racing

Friends Jenny and Kirk Edgerton rocked it at the Cinderella trail marathon in Oakland. Both won their age groups and took 4th and 5th place overall. Nice work you two.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vacation #2

Vacation #2 at the family cabin in Echo Lakes was refreshing as always. Lily and the Cheetah went up on Monday morning. I had to wait till Wednesday a.m. due to work and call-out status, as always.

The first two days Lily had the Brown Family up. The Cheetah attends school with Abby the youngest daughter. We learned last year that cabin vacations now require friends to play with; parents don’t cut it any longer with the Cheetah.

Wednesday night my long time friend Thor and his daughter Sienna came up. We had a lot of fun hiking, fishing, playing.

I was curious to see what the body would do after TRT 50K. I took Sunday and Monday off due to a swim meet, packing the family and then work. After that I planned to run while up at the cabin and train thru for Wildest Run 100K. This week and the next would be my final push before a taper.

Most of the time at the cabin you do a lot of walking. I’ll hike with the kids, walk to the lake which is a little over a mile one way. Just walking/hiking around a couple of days I did 5 miles before my run, (I wore my Garmin because I was curious).

I found some nice loops on the TRT/PCT to run while on vacation. I planned to do a big run Saturday down the Hawley Grade trail and back up the old highway as a final big workout.

Running at altitude wasn’t bad, I noticed it, but compared to past few years it was not too bad. The biggest problem I have at altitude is eating. It just kills my appetite. This would hurt me on all my runs I did over hour half in length while up at the cabin.

The Hawley Grade trail runs 1.8 miles down to the cabins in Myers. I did a loop on fire roads near the cabin so it was 3 miles total to the bottom. From there it was a flat road run to the base of the old highway. Along the way I found a pair of $5 cross country skies for the Cheetah at a yard sale, SCORE!! The old highway road is closed to vehicle so you can run up the middle of the road. This route was obviously popular with area cyclists and walkers; there were a lot of people doing intervals on the lower climb.

The climb is pavement and completely exposed. To aid the training effect I went mid-day on this run. It was mid 80’s but that sun sure beats down on you at 7000+ ft.

I was able to run the first half of the hill about 15 mins of running. After that it got steeper I had to mix in some power walking. After crossing Hwy 50 I ran the remaining mile to the top, OUCH, switchbacks. At Hwy 50 I realized I was a bit low on food which made that last mile extra fun.

The total loop was approximately 10miles with a lot of downhill and uphill running. I wanted to go father but I was bonked and hey, it’s vacation. I ended up with 30miles of vacation week running which was fine with me.

I will be coming back up for more training in the future. The altitude running is difficult but it’s a nice addition to the training load.

As always I had some interesting things occur to me. This usually occurs anytime I take a vacation. Usually right before or after vacation I have a crazy situation at work. This time it was something really good during vacation and really bad after vacation happened.


In January Thor came up and we did a family winter vacation at the cabin. While there Yahtzee was brought out and a vacation ritual was born. It can get ugly at the table. If the kids weren’t playing there would be some serous smack talking laid down by the adults.

This go around was the most incredible Yahtzee game I’ve ever played or heard of. The game had seven total Yahtzee’s, (which is all six dice the same number if you didn’t know). Sienna had four of those Yahtzee’s, including her last roll of the game. Let’s just say she won the game. I took her the next day to buy a Lotto ticket with her picking the numbers, we didn’t win anything.


The bad news greeted me as soon as I got home. After not viewing email or the internet for a week, the first thing I did was check my email. The first email I read stated the Wildest Run 100k I had been gearing up for was now canceled. Lets just say I was pissed off, not a nice way to end a vacation.

The RD was very nice and sent me a refund and explained why he had to cancel. Basically it was cost and I think a lack of registered runners. I fumed for a while and then got over it.

So I have decided to run Sierra Nevada 53.2 and maybe some other races. CIM is still my late season goal, but I need a WS100 qualifier before November.

I have yet to decide what to do in August, but I’m leaning towards a long speed hike in the Tahoe area.

Below are some pictures of how we roll on vacation and yes I got the wife doing the Catalog Pose now.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Tahoe Rim Trail 50K

This past weekend I competed in the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K. I was initially entered into the 50 miler event. Recent issues and the difficulty of the course made me change my mind. I figured the 50K would allow me to train up and through the event without taper. That way I could continue to train for my 100K, while still testing my fitness.

I accomplished both plans the week before was definitely not a taper week. I completed a flat 10 miler with some tempo miles, Hazel hill repeats, and a crazy hot run with Kirk and Jenny on Wednesday.

The day before the race I did my usual routine of driving up and car camping in the remote parking lot. I brought along Melisa who was looking forward to her first Ultra since AR50. A nice two part race recap is in the works from her. She had a camera that I forgot so go to her Blog for photos.


Race morning was cool, but you could tell it was going to be a warm one. My race plan was to go sub 6hrs if the body had it in it. 2008 was a painful 6:28hr bonk/cramp fest that took weeks to recover from. My thinking was a 6hr or under on this course without too much damage would help me plan out Wildest Run 100K. Looking at past split’s I thought I had 5:45 in me on a good day.

I saw Tim Twietmyer was racing the 50K so I planned to use his superior pacing to see where it got me. Tim ran 5:40’s last go around, I hoped he was planning a similar time this go around, (he wasn’t).

The gun goes off and I latch on to him and Julie Young another very fit runner. The beginning miles to Hobart are one sustained climb on sweet single-track. By mile 4 I waved goodbye to my pace setters and went my own way. I could tell I wasn’t going to have the legs for whatever they were going to run, (5:26 and 5:33).

The run to Tunnel creek was uneventful I ran a bit with some runners I had not seen in a while and ran my own race. As usual my inability to #2 pre- race necessitated a quick stop. As luck would have it an oasis in the form of a pit bathroom was conveniently located just before Hobart, soooooo nice.

The run to Tunnel Creek aid station is a long downhill. I think of myself as a capable downhill runner. At one point a female runner blazes by and I heard a guy behind me say something about her being a 2:45 marathoner whose gone to the Trials, blah, blah, she’s going to tear it up today, blah.

So of course I immediately think: Well the race isn’t just a couple mile downhill guy and we’re already OTB of the front runners. I hope she run’s fast uphill to she’s going to need it to live up to the hype.  I know not nice thinking, but I was getting into race mode. I would see Mrs. Trials later…….

So into Red House loop I go, left leg quad is twitching so I up the salt, it helped. On the steep ass drop into the Red House loop I see some of the 100 mile people. A few look like they are pushing it too hard for a 100 mile, but what do I know.

Just before the creek crossing at the bottom my body told me I needed to make a pit stop NOW! I have no idea where it came from but after that I felt great, (and a lot lighter). Seems cold bland rice, broccoli and chicken is still too volatile a pre-race meal. I chocked it up to the altitude and moved on. I ran the rest of the loop except for the backside steep and started the climb to Tunnel Creek aid station #2. Waiting for me were Kirk, Jenny and Pam.

I’ve done a lot of racing solo, seeing your friends at a race is a very welcome site, THANKS GUYS!! Pam got some photos, check her Blog.

The climb out of Tunnel Creek was ok. I ran a lot more than 2008 which I had hoped to do. I played it smart and power hiked the steep pitches and ran everything else. Even so I was slower running than I wanted, my hips were tight.

As I was finding my way up whom did I see up ahead of me, Mrs. Trials, oh hello there. Well on the DESCENT to Hobart from Marlette Peak I caught Mrs. Trials. No I wasn’t trying either. Ok so I’m deep into the race and hurting a bit, so I wasn’t thinking so nice again. Here’s what my brain said to her: WOW you’re a fast downhiller just like your boyfriend said, now work on everything else.

I saw her behind me till Snow Valley, which I admit made me hurt more because of the trash talking I did inside my melon. I figured she had a bad patch and would again smoke me on the descent to the finish just like Tunnel Creek.

At Snow Valley I freaked because everyone was calling me by my first name. I was told after a blunt,”How do you know who I am”. I was told they had a race roster. I apologized and gulped some Coke and got moving.

The 5.5 mile decent to the last aid station at 1.7 miles from the finish is brutal. It’s completely run able and trashes quads worse than a WS100 Canyon. I knew I would need energy to get down it fast. My increased salt kept cramps away, but the legs were a bit stiff. Almost to the end I bonked a little. The final aid station came into view I had planned to blow thru but I needed a Coke jolt which saved me from a complete break down.

I was able to finish in 6:07hrs. I was upset on not breaking 6hrs, but I feel I did as well as I could. While sucking down two Cokes in rapid succession at the end Mrs. Trials came in. I was able to chat with her and found her to be a super nice person. I felt like an ass for the trash talking her, but I figured explaining my mental trash talking would have sounded far more bizarre than what I said. I figure we all do it so why apologize we don’t really mean it when it all said and done.

As always the views at the race were spectacular. I feel ready for the 100K with another few weeks of hard training before a taper. Next up, 5 days with the family at our cabin in Echo Lakes. I plan to get some more high altitude running in the greater Lake Tahoe area.

On a side note I raced with my new waist pack I've been trying out, the Nathan X-Trainer.  I realy liked having a free hand and the gel flask.  I used the Pegasus 27 for my shoes.  They continue to live up to my expectaions of them, a great all around shoe.


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Vacation and Running

So since my last post I've seen my running improve and I went on vacation.  I don't know why I feel better running, but I do.  I have found with some informal tests that I've improved my fitness.  This will help with TRT 50K on the horizon and my goal race in August, Wildest Run 100K.

Due to work and an oversight on my part my vacation plans were messed up.  The original plan was for the family to spend a week at our cabin.  My friend Jim was going on vacation and offered us a room when he heard my problem.  Jim and family were going to the Hyatt in Incline Village for a week.  The family and I had gone in 2008 it is the place to be to relax.

I was able to run a bit and experience the effects of altitude before TRT.  The next to last day I ran a 10 miler with part of the run the Tunnel Creek Trail which is an approximate 3mile climb.  Here are some photos for the run:

Along the way I met Vicki who is in the second picture.  She's a local stud, yoga instructor and all around nice person who runs TWO repeats of this climb as part of her standard running.  As we talked and ran, I was huffing and puffing and she was just fine.

I was pleased to find I wasn't as worthless as usual at altitude.  I'm hoping this holds true for next weekedn at TRT.

I finished the run at Sand Harbor where the Cheetah was the Goose whisperer:

While there the Cheetah completed her first cliff jump off large rock piles in the lake.  The final jump we did was a long drop to the water, I was scared the first jump but she was all smiles.

The fun we had also included a Jetski run the previous day where we ejected ourselves on one run.  The kid had smiles the whole time, I think she is evolving into daredevil.

I used to own a Jetski, after seeing how much fun we had I think I'll be looking for a new one for next season.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Ok so last Saturday was the Western States 100 (Big Dance). As always this well put on race is the one to watch. This year’s epic saw the previous CR broken by the top two finishers. The master’s record was also broken. The hype leading up to the race and the race itself are something to behold for a sport that is considered fringe by most.

Here are some great links related to the race: WS100 interview roundup (Lots of pre/post race interviews)

Craig Thornley race report (A must read)

AJW race report (always good reading)

Recently I’ve been able to train regularly again. The backyard project, etc is done. Even with the heat I’ve really been enjoying my running, things have been clicking. Reading the pre-race hype online and watching the race itself has reborn my running and motivated me even more.

The stories about what occurred in the race, the DNF’s, the finishes; all the stories just motivate me to run. Like others have said, it’s about the journey, not the result.

Now more than ever I want another shot at the race. Here’s to hoping the Lottery gods shine on me in 2011. A year out and I’m already motivated to run.

Here's to reproducing this look in 2011


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Whats bugging me now??

Do you ever find that some things just bug you to no end? No matter how much you avoid commenting on it some things just get under your skin and you have to say something. Well I have a lot of things that bug me. I’m a pretty honest person so I need to vent from time to time. I haven’t vented since February. Some of the things that bug me are funny (to me) some are just annoying and rude. Some no one but me will understand. And some people will just flat out disagree with me and dislike me after reading it. Regardless here is my current list of things that bug me:

1. People in your workplace that talk to EVERYONE using speaker phone.

2. Disabled licenses plates on motorcycles. Wait your disabled, but you can hold up and balance a Harley Davidson. I’ve got ITBS can I get one too.

3. People who tell me when I retire I’ll have no knees left because I run too much. Yeah but I bet your Santa Claus belly kills you before I lose my knees.

4. Drunk people who tell you they can drive because they’re just “buzzed”.

5. People who look at me funny because I don’t have a Facebook page. I have this blog isn’t that self glorification enough?

6. The trail runner that looks like a cross between Scuba Steve and Inspector Gadget on the trail. You know the one, no matter the run the gaiters, back pack and compression socks go on.

7. Guys with 1990’s Pamela Anderson type arm band tattoos. Laser removal was made for you bro.

8. Runners who complain about not getting enough attention for their accomplishments. If you’re as awesome as you think you are people will know douche bag.

9. People who can’t laugh at themselves. This is me last week running Cal Street. I was going for that buck toothed hairy armpit crazy guy look that day. I had a good laugh out of this photo.

I only needed this to complete the look: Beards

10. Runners who belittle slower runners. You were there once and you might be there one day, be nice.

11. Smokers that throw cigarette butts out a car window. I thought this stopped years ago, but just the other day I saw it, GGGRRRRRRR.

12. The Vespa die hards that preach to you every run about it. If it works for you cool I’ve tried it, not convinced. I’ll save a bag full of green backs instead and just find time to run more and get the same results thanks.

13. People who text or fiddle with their cell phone as your talking to them RUDE!

14. Over use of the terms “blended family”, addictive personality”

15. People you complain they have no time to workout. Kill your TV, I guarantee you workout time the following day.

16. Yes Crossfit and P90X can help you get more fit, but you still need to RUN!

WOW I had more than I thought; I sure complain a lot huh? Maybe I should add that.

What’s bugging you, besides me?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Running, Yes I really do run

OK so I might have been a little a head of myself when I recently posted I was back running. The backyard project still needed a gate, etc, etc. I have been running regularly, but still not what I wanted, (need to) be running.

Besides life intruding I was having some issues with my legs. When I went back to consistent running they always hurt whether I ran short or far. Most of the running I was doing was on pavement. I chocked it up to too much pavement running and a lack of flexibly due to the backyard project. Well I was partially wrong. The Nike Motos I bought a few weeks ago were defective. Seems the forefoot cushion was not there, NICE!

Kristy at Fleet Feet Fair Oaks showed me the new version of the Pegasus, which was my standby shoe for years. Seems they tweaked it a bit so it’s not so stiff any longer. They felt good out of the box so I’m going to give them a try.

In nine weeks I’ll be running my goal race of the summer the Wildest Run in the West 100K. I will be adjusting my plans for the race due to the lay off in consistent training. Regardless I still plan to leave it all out on the course. As I’ve stated before in addition to wanting to run this race. Its use of the WS100 course will help me to excise some personal demons from last years DNF.

Speaking of WS100 it’s coming up soon. The snow is still high so the snow route could be used. It should make for an interesting race if they do. Due to the annual work weekend for my cabin and on-call status at work I can’t help out at the race as planned.

I think this is for the best, distancing myself from the race and the people training for it has ready stoked my desire for the 2011 race. Of course The Lottery is a challenge, but I believe in positive thinking even this far out. I turn 40 next year; the whole year will be about big adventures and living it up, WS100 is defiantly a big adventure.

Sierra Nevada Ultras Training Group

The week after WS100 Kirk and I will be heading up another training group, this time for Sierra Nevada Ultras. We will have training groups for all distances. If you’re interested here is the link: Fleet Feet Fair Oaks trail-training.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

10yrs together

It will be 10yrs this saturday that Lily and I have been married.  I tried to scan in some of our more classic photos, but they were really terrible to look at as a scan.  SO here is the last 6yrs highlights since we went digital.


This showed up at my home a few hours ago as my gift.  MTB, SWEET!!!!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Project Backyard update #2

I'm almost done, one more area to plant. Then next week it's landscape fabric, water lines and rock groundcover and I'll be done. The above are some updated pics'.

Last week my daughter Izabella turned 7.  We had her birthday at the ranch she is going to do summer horse camp at.  She got to ride for 2hrs.  I threw together a green marble fondant cake.  The top is colored coconut.  The flowers were made by Izabella out of gum paste and colored with an edible pen.  She wanted to try out the pens.  Here are some pic's. 

I've been running when I can or when I'm not worn down.  When this project is over I won't know what to do with all the extra time.



Monday, May 10, 2010

I’m know I‘m old, but how do you know?

I received and email today where my friend Pam stated she was old. This was a comment made after Pam went out to 2nd Saturday in Downtown Sacramento this past weekend.

Since my Monday workload just wasn’t holding my attention like it should this got me thinking, i.e. wasting time. I wondered just how do you know your “Old”. I know I’m old, (I just do OK), but how do you know.

Before I reveal my thoughts on this globally important issue I must state that yes Pam you are old but so am I, (that was for you Vans, BoM Unite!!).

Here is my list of how to know your old:

You’re married.

You have no reason to go into trendy clubs/bars, (see #1 for the reason why).

You like Bon Jovi.

You’re waiting for neon colors to come back in style.

You remember when chest hair was sexy, (I’m waiting).

You find yourself saying, “Remember when” a lot.

You remember Tab soda.

You pass up sex for sleep.

Staying up late is 10pm.

You remember eating fast food everyday and not gaining weight.

You like 80’s music.

You think grey hair is “distinguishing”.

You can no longer run with your shirt off.

You remember being able to do anything on 4hrs of sleep.

Current fashion trends make no sense to you.

You remember when kids played and I don’t mean video games.

You walked or rode a bike to school.

You played Atari.

One of your all time favorite movies is one of the following: Foot Loose, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Breakfast Club and Weird Science.

This is in no way a complete list; please feel free to comment with additions or disagreements you may have with the list.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Back on track

Well after weekends of labor I’m about done with my backyard renovation. Beside the trip to the Big Ditch, I’ve done little running of late. This was mostly due to my injury and then the backyard project. When I did run I was usually too broken down from the digging, etc to go far. Between the constant physical work and planning I was pretty drained mentally and physically.

This Friday I should complete the path and patio. The flagstones are dry set in sand over a gravel base. Instead of fill sand for the joints like I did in the backyard pre-home addition. I’ll be using polymeric sand this go around. When you wet the polymeric sand it hardens like mortar, (nice). This should be my last back yard renovation. This is the 2nd time in 10yrs I’ve had to renovate my backyard.

All that will remain to complete the project is a little more planting, a drip system, low voltage lights and ground cover. Lily and I also bought a HUGE 6ft fountain at Potteryworld that I have to hook up. (Ok so I still have a lot to do, but the labor intensive stuff is done).

My plan now is to get back on track with some consistent running and recover my lost fitness. A plus to all this work has been a little boost to my muscular strength. You don’t know how weak you are till you try to dig and shovel for days and hours on end.

I will probably pass on the Auburn 50K in favor of training. The Canyons are calling for me to go run them.

In June my next training group will be starting up. I’m becoming anxious for this to get going. The structure the training group gives me is helpful to me. It will be interesting to see what the new group will be like. If you or someone you know is interested check here: Fleet Feet Fair Oaks

Tahoe Rim 50 mile will be my next event as I build to the Wildest 100K in August.

Here are some pictures of what I’ve been up to:

Here what things looked like early on, you can see one messed up backyard:

Then it changed:

This is the BBQ patio add on, the installer is a stud:

The rough lay out of the stones, the big ones are 3-4ft wide and F*^n heavy:

What I looked like at the end of each day:

This weekend I'll have some great pic's of the finished patio and walkway.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Grand Canyon R2R2R

This past weekend I took part in what is on many ultra runners “Bucket list” of runs to do, The Grand Canyon R2R2R.

I went with James Barstad who organized the trip. James has done the R2R2R 3 times. He handled all the camping reservations and overall logistics. This made all the difference and took away a lot of the stress of doing a run like this for the 1st time. THANK YOU JAMES!!

There were 15 runners in all on the trip. Most carpooled up together, I elected to fly. The weather prior to the run was uncommonly cold and wet like the weather we have had in Sacramento. The South Rim where we were camping and starting from had been receiving intermittent snow. The day before I arrived the group had freezing temps in the teens and snow.

I arrived Friday around 5pm to temp’s in the 30’s with a light wind which made it colder, thank god for down jackets. James took me to scout the Bright Angel Trail where we would be finishing. This would give me a chance to see just how bad my “issues” with heights would be tested the following day. The picture in my previous post was taken at the TH. From there you can see down pretty well. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, regardless I was ready to give a go.

R2R2R or thereabouts

The plan was for a 5am start at the South Kaibab TH. We would then follow the trail to Phantom Ranch. From there we planned a side trip to Ribbon Falls, then on to the North Rim TH. The return trip would be up the Bright Angel Trail to the South Rim and done.

Due to recent injury, lack of running and the need for a vacation I decided I would only do Ribbon Falls, (30ish miles). Others were already doing this also.

The morning came quick and we headed out a little behind schedule at 5:40am. James’s sister and nephew drove us out so a car was not left at the TH.

I really like the South Kaibab Trail great views and great trail. Right from the start it was straight down. We stopped often to take pictures. So far no real height issues, but I did hug the sides a bit in a few spots.

Later after having gone up Bright Angel Trail I can say I like South Kaibab more than Bright Angel Trail. The views in my opinion are much better on South Kaibab. I could tell on the trip down I hadn’t run much, the legs and hips were stiff. My injury area was stiff, but no real pain.

On to Phantom Ranch with a short stop to top off water, etc. The temperatures were very cool. I had stripped my long sleeve off but could have left it on.

We continued onto the North Kaibab Trail. The going was good and we were all together talking and taking photos. I found out later what felt like a flat/rolling trail to Ribbon falls actually climbs 1000ft in 5.6 miles. It’s never flat on this run. The creek we followed up the canyon to the Falls was roaring the whole time.

Ribbon Falls

This place is magical, you see it from the main trail, but up close, WOW. Once inside the Falls enclave the temps drop 10degs and air becomes moist. I would highly recommend visiting this place if you come to the Grand Canyon.

After a lot of photos and video we headed back out. At this point we had been on the trail for approx 4.5hrs give or take.

On the return to Phantom Ranch I felt the best I had all day. I had some GI issues that finally cleared up at the Falls. The trail pulls you downhill, but no too much so your can run normally without effort.

I left my fellow runners telling them I would wait for them at Phantom Ranch. I ran a relaxed yet quick pace which felt good. I could tell my body was remembering what it felt like to run.


The group came back together soon after I arrived at Phantom Ranch. After a great siesta and the ubiquitous Phantom Ranch Lemonade (YUM) we headed out. The weather was still great, maybe 80 deg with a light wind. Sitting at Phantom Ranch I got a little cold.

The bridge crossing we did next was probably the first real heights issue I had so far. Your up high over a churning Colorado River on this swaying galvanized steel bridge where some of the grates move and are loose, nice.

After the bridge I began the ascent up Bright Angel Trail at my own pace. My plan was to run/hike my own pace to see what I had in me. As I had done all day I was taking a butt load of photos, the terrain just begs for it.

My Garmin later told me the told ascent was just under 10 miles, but the maps say its 7.7 miles from the river where I started recording.

From the bridge to Indian Garden I ran more than I thought I could. The erosion controls and switchbacks on the Bright Angel Trail really start to bug you after a while. If you’ve done Mt. Whitney the 99 switchbacks are cake in comparison. I was wishing for an iPod a few times going up.

Near the top I could tell I was a bit off my water/salt, a cramp hit and slowed me for a bit, but I was able to shake it off eventually.

The Bright Angel Trail is very popular a few miles out from the top I was seeing a lot of people on trail. It was especially funny to see people at mile 2 using their cell phones on the trail. I even passed a guy playing a video game on his iPhone, so much for enjoying the great outdoors.

Once I was up top James’s family were waiting to ferry runners back to camp. With all the uphill I declined a ride so I could run some flat terrain to shake out the legs. Once back in camp the $2 shower was heaven.

Later when the R2R2R group returned they said the North Rim was awesome. Sounds like the R2R2R is on for 2011.

On the way home I had time to kill in Flagstaff.  I hung out in Flagstaff's historic downtown, my kind of place.  They have gear shops and lots of great food and drink places.  Check out my reward for the trip, that's right, a whole lot of cheese and bread:

and of course a margarita

Personal observations:

We got lucky with the weather, had it been normal temps, ouch much harder day. Make sure you have what you need.

If your going to do this try to go with someone who knows the trail or has done the R2R2R before. James’s info and planning made the trip a lot less stressful.

Treat the route as you would any big event, train for it. I didn’t do the whole thing, but it still hurt the next day. I heard people who did the whole route say it was harder than Miwok 100K.

This was a great trip, made even better by the great people I was able to hang out with. Make sure you have fun if you attempt a R2R2R. I want to do a R2R2R, but even 30+ miles in the Grand Canyon was an epic.

Here are some photos, I uploaded them backwards so go to the end to see them in chrono order:

Photos at Flickr


The Grand Canyon

I got it last night, what a trip. Snow, COLD temps, even in the bottom of the ditch. 
Here is a taste, a report to follow later today:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Melisa's AR50 Race Report

My good friend Melisa was part of my Ultra Training Group for AR50.  This was her first 50 mile race.  Melisa was the pet project for Kirk and I.  Here is a little backgroud.  Melisa was VERY new to running.  With no running background Melisa comlpeted her 1st marathon and race in December 2009.  Melisa completed the C.I.M in 4hrs+.  This was done on minimal training due to injury.  She spent the final training weeks in a cast, see what I mean.  She approached me about AR50 and off we went.  Here is her race report she allowed me to post.  It's an epic that will put you right into her shoes.  If you want to run AR50 one day, this report is for youI was very honored to be a part of her day.

American River 50: My Journey

Race day was here!!!! I wanted to get up at 3:45am to get ready, but I could barely sleep and woke up well before the alarm went off. I was up at 3 a.m. I rode with Anthony and Jim and Lily dropped us off at the start. We meet up with Greg and Kirk and than we headed to the start. We meet up with Pam and Paula, Mark, and Ralph. Anthony gave me a huge hug and wished me luck and off he went. The rest of us were just talking away when we heard a horn and off we went. We ran together for a few miles than Pam made a break for it and I never saw her again. Paul took off and Jim did as well. Pretty soon I was running by myself and we hadn't even gone 2 miles. I was not feeling that great when I started running my right side flared up, hip (butt pain) and low back pain which made running pretty painful.

I soon saw Mark and caught up to him, we talked for a bit until he speed up, and I couldn't keep up. At this point I turned on my Ipod and listened to music. I reached the first aid and refilled my water bottle. My hip wasn't feeling great and I was still in a lot of pain. But I continued on at a slow shuffle a little bit slower than I originally wanted to run. I made it to William pond aid station at 8 miles or so, and I was just cruising along when I heard "there she is" in a familiar voice it was Anthony who dropped out due to a injury, and than there was Lily taking pictures.

Anthony asked if I wanted my long sleeve, I said no, took it off, and gave it to him. He said I looked pretty good and asked how I was feeling; I told him I was hurting. He said it was probably just the bike trail no hills with the same muscle groups being used. He would have Tylenol at Sunrise for me. I ate a half of peanut butter sandwich, downed a GU and kept moving forward.

This aid station was special because it was run by Fleet Feet. I saw Jenny and the crew who yelled for me, cheered me on, and took photos. I picked up my pace thinking it would help loosen me up; it seemed to help for a little bit, but I also knew I had a long ways to go. I would be lying if I told you that I never once thought about DNF, because I did a lot during that stretch to Sunrise, but I just kept going, knowing that Anthony and Lily would be there.

I reached Sunrise and again I heard Anthony “there she is" I saw Lily taking photos and Anthony had a thumbs up or thumbs down. I hesitated for a second and put a thumb up, I walked over to them with watery eyes and Lily kept taking photos while Anthony worked on my right side, rubbing it out. He gave me Motrin a salt tab and said I could do it, keep going it’s the bike trail making you feel this way. Lily told me to think positive.

What a huge inspiration it was to see them both there waiting with aid that I so desperately needed. And to just think in the morning I was cracking jokes at Anthony for packing a zip lock of pills. But I sure did use every last pill he packed. Thank you Anthony and Lily.

Anthony and Lily walked me to aid table where I refilled my bottle and ate half a peanut butter sandwich and I was on my way. I still had my music on which kept my mind distracted and I plugged ahead. I knew at mile 18 my entire family was going to be there. I just kept moving forward.

As I was coming upon mile 18 I looked at my Garmin and noticed I was way ahead of pace. 20 minutes faster than that what I had original predicted. Then I started getting sad that I was going to miss my family. But I came around the bend and saw them, I waved and immediately my spirits were lifted. I ran to them smiling the biggest smile of that day. Bradyn (my nephew) made a sign that he wanted to say Trick or Treat and Quinn was there with Lianne and Dan and Michael and Jenny and Kristina and Brent. Brent sprayed me down with sunscreen and I stopped to say hello. Michael said I looked really good, better than I did at CIM. Lianne took a picture and off I was after giving Bradyn and Quinn a hug.

Up the Hazel Bridge I walked and the bluffs which was huge, I had been waiting for this part. What a huge mental relief to be climbing and using different muscles. I power walked the Bluffs like I was in no pain, because by now it was a dull ache. At the top of bluffs was aid, but I was a little delirious here. They didn't have peanut butter (I didn't see any) but they did have Paydays. I grabbed a Payday, downed a Coke and grabbed a GU. I was off, feeling a little better and descended down the trail like a bat out of hell.

I kept it in control until we met back up with the bike trail. Here I choked down a GU and walked a bit and ran some more. I came upon the single track and also a conga line. There were about 5 runners total in front of me. The pace slowed down, almost to the point where it was painful for me. But slowly one by one they stepped aside to let us pass and next thing I knew I was leading the line, with one guy saying: “OK someone has to take the lead and pace”. That would be me, very welcoming. I took lead of the group and took us up the hill power walking it, at the same time passing others who seemed to be just getting up the hill. I was feeling strong and mentally positive. That all came crashing when I re-connected with the bike trail.

I don't know what it is but that bike trail took so much out of me, mentally and physically. But all I heard was just keep moving forward and I did. I approached Negro Bar aid station and here they announced you name which was uplifting to hear #416 Melisa Mahon. At this aid station just like the rest I ate peanut butter and jelly, downed 2 Cokes (small cups), grabbed a GU, and filled my bottle and off I went. The next aid was Beals where I knew Lily and Anthony and my pacer would be waiting for me. A surge of excitement came to me at this point because I knew I would be changing my shoes, shirt and hat. Sometimes it’s the small things that keep me going.

I just kept moving forward. I was feeling OK not great but OK and realized that I was running a huge hill. What the hell was I thinking I was on auto pilot which could have cost me, I quickly re-grouped and walked and took in GU and drank some water. I need to pay attention that was a huge hill.

Mile 26.2 was emotional because I knew at that point I was very close to Beals. My body was on auto pilot again and I wanted to walk but my brain said no, keep running. I listened to my brain and ran into Beals, I rounded the corner saw the clock and when I went under I was at 4:55, 5 min. faster. I had predicted 5 hrs, I was on pace.

I saw Michelle, Lily and Anthony. Anthony immediately told me to sit down, took my shoes off, Lily applied body glide around my shorts, Michelle gave me a cracker with peanut butter, Anthony rubbed my legs down, They all said I looked good only later to find out I looked like crap. I felt OK but was delirious. Anthony cracked my back, rubbed my back down and noticed I was extremely tight, reminded me to try and stay relaxed. He than asked me if I was cold, I said I was freezing out there, I was silent then. Lily asked if he had his arm warmers, they were trying to figure it out, when I quietly piped in I had a pair of arm warmers in my bag. Lily quickly ran to the car and got my entire bag, Anthony put my arm warmers on and off Michelle and I went. We hit the aid station, Michelle grabbed my usual while I filled the bottle and we hit the single track.

Once on the single track I was talking a bit, asked her if I took Tylenol and an S cap (salt) and if I ate. I couldn't remember anything besides the huge hug I gave Lily and it felt like I collapsed into her. Michelle said yes I did all of that and it was her job to make sure I continued to do that along the next part of the course. It was great running with her. She would keep me chatting, so I could forget the pain I was in from my hip and right side. She kept me eating and hydrated because I had stopped drinking water.

Along the way though she was asking me what was working food wise and talking about food made me nausea, solid foods became my enemy. Each aid station though Michelle made sure I ate and drank some Coke. She ran me from aid station to aid station. At one point along the way, I stopped talking completely and she immediately told me to eat something, I said I could do a GU, but nothing else. My stomach was a wreck.

We hit mile 30 all too soon it seemed or maybe not. She just kept me going, when I needed to walk we walked, which wasn't that bad, and got me running again by lightly asking "you want to run?" She kept me on my goal pace in between aid stations.

Granite Bay went by in a blur, as did most of the rest of the race. I was on auto pilot. She got me through Twin Rocks which is gnarly terrain with lots of step ups and downs. This is where I had her take the lead. The ups hurt but not as much as the downs. My right side was screaming at me but we kept moving forward. We approached buzzard cove where here I heard they had ice cream. This aid station is boated in and hiked up the hill side. And like I heard there was ice cream. Once there they said they ice cream I laughed and the attendant said "you laugh?" "yes" I replied," I have heard so much about the aid station." I filled up on water and I think Michelle grabbed some food for me and we moved forward. The next aid was only 3.47 miles but it was a long 3.47 miles.

Horseshoe Bar aid station was approaching, you could hear the drum and that motivated me and kept me going. It felt like it took forever to get there. But we made it up the big hill with people cheering. One of the aid attendants took my bottle filled it I ate some sandwich walked 5 ft to the trash can saw the bathroom and realized I should use it. After using the port a potty I was standing at the top of the hill looking down to where I needed to go and just stood there. Michelle asked if I wanted coke, I looked back at the table and said "it’s too far." (5 ft really it’s too far????) But like a true trooper she said "don't move I will get it." I didn't move and just kept staring, she gave me my coke I drank it threw the cup a way and stood there some more. Mentally here I was fried. I heard her say "OK let’s keep going, let’s try walking forward" and physically I felt my body move forward. Down the hill we went, the coke kicked in because pretty soon after I was running at a very steady pace.

I knew Rattlesnake was the next aid about 3 miles and from there it was, another ten miles to the finish. I had already come so far mentally physically that it seemed like we booked it to Rattlesnake Bar. We ran the last 3 in I think. It sure did feel like it. The encouragement along the way from Michelle was fantastic.

At Rattlesnake Bar it was like a party. A ton of people were cheering you on saying go blue team (we wore blue shirts) go fleet feet. We rounded the corner and I hear Anthony “there they are." He and Lily were there totally surprised we had come in so quickly. They thought they had at least 30 minutes because Pam who was ahead of me the entire time just left. Again I was confused at this aid, I wondered in circles the aid attendant filled my bottle and told me to eat something, I wondered over to Anthony, and Lily was getting finalized because she was pacing me the last 10. I had to go to the bathroom waited in line for an eternity, but the ladies in front of me were nice enough to let me go next. Thank goodness because my legs were getting very stiff. Here I felt like I was in high spirits only 10 left, piece of cake. 10 miles left out of 50 I can do that. Lily had everything I needed Michelle gave her valuable information, as to peanut butter was working nothing else was besides GU. Tylenol and S cap in 45 minutes. Anthony had me walk with him to the hill, he said "I look a little low on energy, drink Coke at the aid stations, walk this hill, and at the top run." He also said "he knew I would bounce back from my previous low and I looked good." That is all I needed to hear, those were golden words. Just seeing them was fantastic. Here is where Michelle hands off to Lily.

Lily and I power walked the hill, and at the top I took off like a bat out of hell. The last part of the single track we were holding steady with 10, 9, 8 min paces. Wow after 40 miles I can still run an 8 min pace on rolling terrain. Yes I sure can.

Lily did great, she ran behind me and all I really wanted to do was walk, I was emotionally spent. I wanted to walk so bad. But Lily was behind me and that was all the motivation I needed. I did have a tense moment where I yelled at her. She was giving some great advice in hindsight but after 40 miles I didn't really want to hear relax your arms, elbows in. I yelled "shut up", she did. Lily I’m so sorry about that.

She made sure at 45 min. to see if I wanted s cap I refused. She made sure I ate at the aid stations and cleared the trail for me of the slower runners. I was on a high here only 8 miles, than 7 miles, 5 miles I told her. I knew what was coming and I planned it out in my head. The last 3 miles a vertical climb. We hit the gravel road, and I immediately told her 2 GU’s, I inhaled those GU’s, power walked the gravel road and asked her if she was ready. I wanted to get up that 3 mile hill and own it. I told her the plan and off I went. I ran and ran and ran. I started walking, Lily told me to go without her if needed.

I approached the final aid station at Last Gasp 47.22 miles, the attendant sprinted down the hill and refilled my bottle, I was walking and thought if he can run so can I so I did I ran to the table. The guy there saw me standing and said if I kept walking I could use the trash can up a head. I didn't see it. So I did, that was all I needed. I walked to the trash can threw my cup away and off I went.

Lily never saw me again. I was gone. I was so motivated to own that hill. I did own that hill, as I passed runners (walkers) they cheered me on saying good job, I told them good job, and I kept going like Anthony taught me cutting back and forth as the road curved. next thing I knew I heard the voice (Anthony) " No way!!!! Where is my wife??? I just pointed behind me. He was thrilled; he was surprised to see me. “You left your pacer?" Big smile on my face as this hill was effortless for me. He ran down to me told me to toss my bottle and I did. I kept running up with Anthony by my side, encouraging me telling me Pam was maybe 35 seconds ahead. I could catch her. That was motivating. Up the hill I went. I saw in chalk .5 to go. It was emotional to see, just knowing that I had come so far and overcome so many obstacles to get there. .5, stay focused I told myself own the hill. The entire time Anthony was there. I quickly rounded the corner and a little down hill and than my final hill the hill most everyone walks. Not me I crushed it effortlessly, the spectators couldn't believe, some of their mouths dropped open to see me running here. Cowbells were ringing, people cheering it was overwhelming. I passed runners and than there it was the final stretch I could see the finish was within reach.

I kicked it into high gear, and was determined to finish strong. Than I saw Anthony some how he made it to the finish to take photos. Kirk called out "great job kid" and I was across the finish line. I did it, I ran my first 50 miler.

I was overwhelmed. I couldn't believe. My body went numb I didn't know what to do. I wondered through the finish shoot for at least 5 min. Julie (race Director) congratulated me, I was given my finishers jacket, and they took my race chip off. I did it.

I ran 50 miles, overcame the highs and the many lows, and kept pushing forward as I have heard throughout the training. It is amazing how mental this run was and how physical it was. It is amazing how you can overcome the mental and push your body like you never thought you could. I am so grateful for my family and friends for being there. It was emotionally up lifting and kept me moving forward just knowing they would be there. Only the rare few will complete this epic journey, and I am one of those few. That journey is mine and one that will change my life forever. Just keep pushing forward. You can achieve what others think you can't.

Thank you to my friends and family for their support during the many long months of training and for putting up with my many highs and lows during training. Without you this wouldn't have been possible.


*** If you look at the photos from my last post, Melisa is the runner I've got my elbow jammed into**