Friday, December 26, 2008

Over 50 mile training week

It has been a long time since I did it last, but I pushed over a 50-mile week in my run today.

Today, I ran from Newhall to Canyon Country, over Whites Canyon Pass, up Copper Hill Drive, through the riverbed and past the mall for a return home. This was strictly a road run; all the trails are too muddy. At 13 miles a high school running group passed me and I kept up at a sub 7:00 pace for a mile or two, but then had to stop because I was about to pass a planned stop for water and food. What blasted fun!

The shin splints and swollen ankle won't go away, but hopefully it isn't too serious.

The stretch along the Santa Clara River is ghastly ugly -- the running trail is just a sidewalk along Soledad Canyon Highway, a grimy cross-town roadway. The City's running trail then forces you to cross at a cross-walk near the bowling alley, which I don't do and just continue on the sidewalk. The ascent up White's Canyon is no more attractive, but things improve on the downhill from the pass.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Signed up for first 100

Here, I've signed up for my first 100.

Well, it is only a 100K but it is a start. It is the same race ran in December 2008, the OC Twin Peaks 50K, but doubled somehow. I was in excellent condition at my 50K finish, except for mild hypothermia, as well as my three 50M finishes in 2008, so I am optimistic. And, my marathon time in October 2008 was personal best by 20 minutes.

My spinal injury continues to afflict me but doesn't seem to change with the running. Just painful whether running or sitting, so I might as well be running.

I've been out this week running long distances, 20M yesterday and 14M today, trying to recover from the twisted ankle suffered in the December 50K below. My ankle is getting worse before it is getting better, but as long as run straight it doesn't affect my performance.

Running this week has been slogging through heavy and frosted mud, slipping and sliding along the trails. We've been experiencing very cold conditions for Southern California, and I've been hitting the trailheads at below 32 degrees. I've been running through areas where it has snowed but the snow has melted into mud.

My favorite runs this week have been from my house up East Canyon, to the top of Newhall Pass, and back home. Also, from my home through Towsley Canyon. Modest elevation gains, less than 2000 feet. I'll be returning soon to Whitney Canyon and the Nike Base ascent.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The OC's Twin Peaks 50K -- 6:56:45 and 11th Place Overall

Casey and I ran the OC's Twin Peaks 50K on December 13, 2008. Casey picked this as his first ultrathon.

Thanks to Jessica for putting on a great race despite the terrible weather. The weather made it fun, the threat of missing aid stations challenging. (At one aid station, I was told to "prepare" for the fact the next aid station might be missing. I prepared by drinking more water. I thought about eating more food but didn't want to get too far behind the three runners who left the aid station, whom I quickly passed.)

We started at 6:30 a.m. The 50K runners started at different times, 6:00 a.m., 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. My start time was 7:30 but I elected to start with Casey at 6:30. As a consequence I was running with first-time ultrathonners.

It wasn't quite sunrise when we started. The weather was moderate, in the mid-50s, so I elected to run in summer running attire.

The leg to the first aid station was an immediate ascent. Following my normal pattern I never study the course in advance, so the immediate climb of the first peak was a big surprise. The first aid station was near the first peak; a long ascent. To my surprise, I was the first in our running group pulling into the aid station, although Casey was ahead of me all the way to the peak itself. I made up time on the small downhill right before the aid station. But, leaving the aid station, another runner beat me out of it and I could never catch up to him. I dropped Casey running out of the first aid station.

Eventually, one more runner from my group passed me near Santiago Peak.

After the first aid station I started to pass some 6:00 a.m. starters.

By far the greatest part of the run was the descent down the 4-mile single track known as West Horsethief. This was a challenging rock-strewn twisting descent; I couldn't quite barrel down this one. The ascent up the single track known as Holy Jim right after the descent was a whole lot of fun; I passed several racers from the 6:00 a.m. departure on this climb as well as about 30 hikers. This was a beautiful ascent; it then hooked into a fire road three miles below Santiago Peak.

There's an aid station right at this connection to the fire road. One guy standing there; it looked like he had just arrived. I begged for a trash bag and I felt lots better in the cold rain. I should have dressed for cold weather It was really cold at this aid station and I was looking at a three-mile ascent to the peak.

At Santiago Peak the fog, rain and clouds obscured vision so much it was often difficult to see the path right in front of me. The aid station volunteer looked like she had just arrived as well; she was pulling stuff out of the camper shell in her pickup truck and it wasn't a lot of stuff.

The wind and rain were roaring. The wind was screaming through the communication towers on the top of Santiago Peak; we ran right below the towers.

On the descent out of Santiago Peak I saw Casey on the out and back. He was only about 40 minutes behind. He was looking great but he was walking with some other walkers. (I had made the entire ascent of Santiago Peak running; it wasn't easy but I was afraid of hypothermia and thought that if my pulse rate dropped I might get too cold. If I kept eating and running I thought I'd be OK.)

In the poor weather I missed a turn and added almost two miles and 20 minutes to my run. I was pretty unhappy when some experienced Twin Peaks runners about an hour behind me were telling me that I was on the wrong descent.

I finally rejoined the right trail and booked it for the really long downhill back to the start. The descent from the last aid station was a seven-mile downhill on a fire road. I was in heaven. Trail wasn't too rugged so I could really lay it out. Not too hard, warming up a little, even a little sunshine.

Here are the results; second in my age class.

At the bottom, I waited for hours and Casey finally arrived by truck. In the poor weather when he saw me wearing my trash bag on the out and back, he asked for one as well, but instead of my see-through bag he got a black one. It hid his bib and so the race directors guided him into the 50-mile route. He was ten miles into it when an aid station alerted him to the fact, and since the last 20 miles of the 50 is a re-ascent of one of the peaks he wasn't prepared for, he caught a ride back.

Once again, as I have done my last three races, I had twisted my ankle and taken a bloody header, with folks up and down the line commenting on it and trying to help.

I spent an hour talking with Andy Salinger, an avid reader of brother Dave's blog. Andy had come in second place, was a 7:30 starter, and actually passed me near the finish. Three 7:30 starters passed me. Andy knew Dave's 2008 runs far better than I did, and I had run a couple of them. Andy said that Twin Peaks was quite a run to use for a beginner.

Dave's friend Jim Skaggs DNF'd on the 50M. I heard that he had stopped to help somebody in a car accident up near Santiago on the fire road.

One week later my ankle is still bruised and swollen. It also took me about five days to recover from the effects of hypothermia. It was worse than I had thought. I had experienced the same symptoms in two prior runs where I got too cold -- several days of feeling like I couldn't warm up and feeling a little ill.

It seems the 2009 Twin Peaks Ultra will be run in its normal month February, and it is offering a 100K. Hmm. If I want to tackle the 100M Big Horn I might want to do this one.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Birthday Run

Well, I turned 42 today. I went running one of my absolute favorite runs today, an ascent through Whitney Canyon (SR-14 and San Fernando in Newhall, CA) to the Nike Base (Fire Jump Station No. 9 at the top of Bear Divide), down to Placerita Canyon Drive, through Walker Ranch and to the Nature Center and back again. Twenty something miles with a lot of vertical.

This time I ran it with Son-In-Law No. 2 Casey. He and I are planning to run the 50K in Twin Peaks, Orange County. Casey pushed me extremely hard so we ran this route faster than I had ever done it before, shaving 1/2 hour off my best time. It was a great run; a little muddy from the recent rains. Parts of the trail were close to getting washed out due to the recent fires in the area; the northern slope of this portion of the Angeles National Forest was burned out three years ago but there was enough growth to fuel some of the fire from the Sayler fire burning on the southern slope.

One of my favorite sections is actually on the road coming down from Bear Divide, where I usually book it for about two miles. Some Dire Straits, Cheap Trick, Def Leppard or the Scorpions (but not too much of them; I find most of their music repulsive) is all I need for motivation.

I also love this run because there is a water fountain at the jump station at the very top and water in Walker Ranch at the bottom on the way back.

Twenty miles of real hard running and not sore one bit! Nor was I hungry at the end; one breakfast bar and two Hammer Gel packs was enough. My legs still have it for the big one coming up..

Monday, November 24, 2008

November's Post

So, I haven't posted much. I continue to battle a nerve injury I've had for 20 months. A compression in my spine at C5-C6 has caused my right hand to be numb and painful, and the docs are divided as to whether running has anything to do with it. So instead of preparing for my 50K in December I've been doing low impact workouts at the gym. Basically, stairclimbing and some treadmill work. All sorts of traction, therapy, spinal injections and drugs have not made a dent. Not a dent, I tell you.

The month layoff of running has done nothing to improve my condition.

So, I continue to browse on-line for prosthetic hooks. They come in different colors now, instead of stainless steel.

But, I am still signed up for the 50K and may run it cold. I say, cold, I tell you. That will play heck on my hamstrings, which are hard to keep up in the gym in any way with aerobic machines.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Recovery from St. George

I've been out running a few times this week. Sore hamstrings!! Haven't quite recovered from St. George.

I've got to put in 50 miles next week to get ready for the Santa Barbara half.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

St George Marathon: 3:40:27

Chip Time -------------03:40:27
Overall Place ---------1221 / 5030
Gender Place ----------901 / 2850
Division Place --------89 / 309
Age Grade -------------65%
Pace ------------------8:24.6

I completed the October 4, 2008 St. George Marathon with a 3:40.27 finish. I ran with wife's friends Mandy and Belinda, who beat me by two minutes, but they are like more than 20 years younger. (Big whoop de doo, therefore.) My previous best was at St. George at 03:56:12 in 2005. So, this was 16 minutes better than my best time. My later marathons were struggles around 4:00, and as late as 4:11.

I attribute my improvement to race conditions -- it was raining the entire way and cool but not cold. I also attribute improvement to better uphill conditioning. The last St. George Marathon I had lots of people pass me on the three major uphills. This year I generally kept up with my group or passed people. Lots of stairclimbing and trail hills helped.

One thing I did differently on this run is that when I was feeling good I simply booked it big time rather than holding back for fear of getting tired.

I also do not believe in tapering, having run 30 miles in the Big Bear 100 seven days before. I think all that tapering stuff is nonsense, but I did lay off two days before the marathon.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Running Parts of Bear 100

<--- BROTHER DAVE at about mile 35.

My brother Dave invited me to pace him once again on parts of the Bear 100 Mile Run.

I ran two segments, a 14.94 mile segment from Right Hand Fork to Tony Grove, and a 14.34 mile segment from Franklin basin to Beaver Lodge. Thus, about 30 miles.

It wasn't too tough; I suffered from some shin splints in my right leg but the next morning neither legs nor feet were worse for wear. I suffered more from lack of sleep than anything else. This will be a good tuneup for the St. George Marathon, one week away. I will be forced to run with shin splints, but running on the road is less impactful on the shins than running on a trail.

The race crisscrossed Logan Canyon Road, which runs between Logan, Utah and Bear Lake. My first segment started at the Right Hand Trail Fork about 3:00 p.m. The second segment started at the Franklin Basin about 10:00 p.m. and ended at 4:00 a.m.

The second segment was naturally longer because my runner, Dave, was now in his 70th mile and pretty shot. I very much enjoyed hanging with him; he was in incredible shape and especially in the first segment I had to work to keep up (it didn't help that he was trying to smoke me).

The run through the night was beautiful but occasionally cold. There were parts of the run, especially in the basins, where it was in the 20s, and we were both running in light gear. Stopping for more than 5 minutes meant great trouble.

I so much loved the night running. We pulled into the Beaver Creek Lodge at 4:00 a.m. and it was about 24 degrees. Dave's crew was there to help him. I didn't want to stop and wanted to push to the end for another 25 miles, but Dave picked up another pacer and told me to rest myself for St. George.

My brother eventually came in 30th place with a 30:51:00 finish. This seemed like a tougher race than last year. There were lots more ups and downs, as well as trail obstacles.

I ran 39 miles last year with Dave from mile 50 and he seemed to be doing much better that year. Lots of vomiting this time. (Gee, do I really want to do my own 100? I don't know. I don't like to barf.)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Smoked Again

OK, son-in-law Casey and I ran up from SR14/San Fernando on September 6, 2008 to the Nike Base at the top of Bear Divide. After beating him in the July 4 Santa Clarita 5K, I thought I'd have a chance, but he smoked me to the top and to the bottom. It was about a 16 miles round trip and was hot at the end.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Nebo Peak

Son Rob and I made the western ascent of Mt. Nebo near Mona, Utah on August 31, 2008. See a good map of the area and the Willow Canyon trail head yonder

We arrived at the trail head around 4:00 a.m. The trail head is at around 6500 feet; the peak we were aiming for is at 11,877. It was dark but we had headlamps. We got off to a bad start, thinking the creek bed was the trail. We spent 20 or 30 minutes on that fruitless exercise and got wet, returning to the trail head only to see that we had missed an arrow pointing to the real trail.

So we were off. The trail followed the creek bed for a short way but then started ascending and it was very steep. The trail was loose, so footing became difficult on the steep terrain.

The trail then took a sharp bend to the west but we lost the trail when we became misdirected into a campsite. Instead of backtracking to find the trail I made the error of pushing off up the hill hoping to find the trail. We didn't, and instead bushwhacked to the top of the ridge -- a ridge very apparent on the map. We then bushwhacked for a mile or two north along the ridge. At that altitude, 10,000 feet, the conditions were spring-like. The vegetation was lush but, fortunately, there was no scrub oak at that altitude. We spent lost of time following elk trails, but they weren't all that organized.

We finally connected with the trail on a saddle on the ridge, where the trail from the eastern slope connected with the ridge trail to Nebo. The ridge trail to Nebo wasn't all that difficult, in terms of obstacles, but it was steep and at over 11,000 feet the air was thin.

Mt. Nebo is really not the highest peak in the area; South Peak (or what is called Mt Nebo on the map I reference above) is about 50 feet higher. Mt. Nebo (or Nebo Peak), the one we climbed, was for decades considered the highest peak until a recent geological survey fixed the error. At the top of Nebo Peak is a mound of rocks that climbers are adding to in the hopes that some day Nebo Peak will reclaim its glory. But, the mound is only about three feet high today.

It would take an experienced mountaineer to climb the ridge between Nebo Peak, where we were, and the South Peak. It was a very narrow razor-thin ridge with steep talus slopes on either side.

The descent was not all that fast due to blisters and the very loose soil which caused me to slip and fall several times. Rob was in pretty good shape, so it was a great day. I think we may have lost a couple of hours or more with our getting lost.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Honolulu -- Diamond Head at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

I was in Honolulu on business. I had to be at my appointment at 9:00 a.m. the next morning. I though I'd get up and do an hour's run.

My alarm went off; unfortunately, it was the wrong one and I had failed to turn this one back by three hours. I was off and running before I realized it was about 2:00 a.m. in the morning. Oh well, I guess I could do a long run.

I pointed myself towards Diamond Head. My Garmin took about a mile to locate the satellites. I stopped at a gas station about 3.5 miles into the run and fueled up and took off. I had my Blackberry with me. I needed it to navigate Honolulu's difficult streets.

On the backside of Diamond Head (where the state park entrance is located) I hoped to find the trailhead to the top. I couldn't. It was dark, the park entrance closed and the tunnel locked. I had to try it another day.

Back to the hotel along the canal in Waikiki where the hookers were plying their trade. I saw the cops bust one of them.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Ninth Circuit Victory

Today at Center for Biological Diversity link.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

July 4 Santa Clarita 5 K

The results are in for the Santa Clarita 5K on July 4, 2008. I was 108th overall, fifth in age class. Brother Davy was 56th overall; daughter Linsday was first in her age class. Wife Debora was fifth in her age class. Brother in law Ed Johnson was 23rd overall. Nephew Ryan edged me out at the last second to take 106th. Son Rob was 225th overall and 17th in his age class. Son in law Casey Bingham, who usually smokes me on our runs, placed 118th overall.

The first photo is wife going for personal best.

In the second photo I'm passing Casey, my 20-something son-in-law, who had previously smoked me in a major way in the Muir Beach (Marin County) 10K in December and the Malibu Creek 6-K a few weeks ago. It looks like I'm going slower than he is, but that is simply my stride at that point. All in all a good day when I can beat Casey.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Big Horn 50 June 23, 2008

View Larger Map
(The map is incomplete; the Garmin lost power at 46 miles).

My Big Horn 50 experience began with being "denied boarding" on my flight from LAX to Denver on the morning of June 22. The gate attendants were so frustrated with the overbooking that they refused to talk to those of us who were denied. When I called United, they told me they couldn't help me because I didn't have a denial of boarding form and thus couldn't prove that I wasn't just late to the gate. So, I debated just calling the whole thing off, but after my fourth call to United (all to somebody in India), I found somebody willing to believe me and I was routed to Sheridan, Wyoming. The problem was that when I made it to Denver for the connecting flight to Sheridan, I was denied boarding once again due to overbooking. United routed me to Billings, so I made it -- several hours late but I finally pulled into Sheridan to make the very last pre-racing briefing at the high school in Sheridan.

We boarded the bus in Dayton at 4:00 a.m. It was ominously warm. One hour later we arrived at the Dry Fork aid station. The race route had been changed to avoid snow conditions at Porcupine Ranger Station, the normal start.

At 6:00 a.m. we started. I was in great shape; no injuries, but packing maybe 15 pounds I couldn't quite shed.

We descended from Dry Fork (7480') to Foot Bridge (4590'). I wasn't paying attention to the course route to know that I was going to have to make this ascent, and that we were in an out and back.

The descent was fierce and my toes were getting jammed. My feet were wet from all the river crossings, and I discovered that socks that I thought were synthetic were actually 50% cotton. My socks were getting bunched up. The more tired I got the more I tended to stub my toes on the rocks; my new shoes are not all that well armored.

Fortunately, I had followed my brother Dave's advice and had synthetic socks waiting for me at Foot Bridge in my drop bag. That was all I had in my drop bag. I made the change and off I was on the climb back to Dry Fork. My feet felt a whale of a lot better with the new socks.

The ascent was horrific. It was warm. During this ascent I began to hang with the runners I would be passing and who would pass me, over and over again, all the way to the end of the race. After chowing down a sandwich at Foot Bridge, I had grinding nausea the rest of the race as the ascent came down to steady plodding up the mountain in warm temperatures.

My one major physical weakness -- a weak back -- began to plague me. My back gets sore in an extended ascent. All I need is a mile or two of a descent to stretch it out, but this particular ascent had me yelping in pain.

Finally, I arrived back at the top at Dry Fork. It was a very exposed ridge, but we were favored with thunder clouds and slightly dropping temperatures. At the aid station I stayed only briefly, and heard comments from the volunteers that a couple of the runners who preceded me were dropping out as a result of the effects of the climb. I saw one fellow in his thirties surrounded by his wife and two kids.

I blasted out of the station, passing in the aid station about 5 runners who had been in front of me but couldn't bring themselves to leave the station. One of them caught me about 10 miles later and we joked about how hard it was for him to catch me, but away he went and I never saw him again.

Between Upper and Lower Sheep Creek I passed many runners. Most, but not all, were 100-milers who were walking. One woman I passed recognized me from Leona Divide 50. (The ultrathon crowd is truly small.)

Other than a few fierce climbs I steeled myself to run and never stopped.

I looked at my time and started worrying. This was the toughest 50-miler I had ever run, and it was apparent that I was going to be 2 hours longer than my best 50-mile time on Antelope Island.

Between Lower Sheep Creek and Tongue River (45 miles) was a tough ridge to climb and then a grinding descent of many miles. I passed several runners, but was passed by one runner with whom I had been dueling for 20 miles. He passed me and was out of sight by a mile or more. My descent skills lacked something.

But, at the bottom along the Tongue River I caught him! I was pretty happy and he was pretty sad to see me go.

At the Tongue River aid station, my brother Dave was there to greet me! He had finished his 100 miles several hours before (I was still passing 100-milers on the run). Aid station workers sprayed me down with a hose. It was 90 degrees. The last 5 miles was on the road in sizzling heat. My brother followed along in his car.

I was in great shape -- no injuries; no tendonitis. A few blisters but nothing significant I ran well the last 5 miles and caught and passed a runner I had been dueling with for 5 miles. I caught him at the footbridge in Dayton near the finish.

I finished in Dayton at 12:13:35, fifth in my age class. The winner of my age class beat me by two and one-half hours. My brother was there to cool me down to make sure I didn't pass out, but I had been carefully taking my salt tablets during the race and drinking more than usual, so I had no problems with low blood pressure.

I hung out with my brother's race friends. Matt teased me about my blog. Said my picture made me deceptively young. Matt, some day you'll pay for that slight.

The scenery was amazing, but unfortunately I lost my camera at the first aid station. Oh well.

The Big Horn race volunteers and organizers were wonderful. So nice; so cheerful. This is really the way a race should be run. They had medical personnel at the major aid stations, making sure each of us was capable of going on.

Then it was up again at 2:00 a.m. to make my flight in Billings, and then back to Church to run my ward as an LDS bishop for the day. I was beat. My seventeen-year-old daughter teased me for falling asleep on the stand during Sacrament meeting. And then a couple of emergencies later in the day in my role as "transient bishop," where I attempted to take care of the homeless in my stake boundaries.

So, once again at mile 17 I vowed never to run again, but today on Monday I look forward to the next one. No muscle soreness. I have a jammed toe which makes it painful to walk, but nothing more.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Three Days Before Wyoming

And there is three feet of snow at the start of the 50 mile run. And I'm told that the end of the run is hot. I just hope the trail is wide enough the entire way to accommodate my wheelchair.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Musings Before Big Horn 50

Today is Father's Day, June 16, 2008, six days before I have to run the Bighorn 50.

Some thoughts on being a father. I'm lousy at it. But, I have the greatest kids one could possibly imagine.

Some thoughts on the Bighorn 50. This time I am injury free, but I weigh about 5 pounds more than I did for Leona Divide. I guess I'll prefer the pain-free run.

The flights to an obscure place in Wyoming are a bear. I'm not a true ultrathon go-getter and so the logistics of a run in the Big Horn mountains tear a big hole in my schedule. But, I look forward to the scenery. My brother Davy says he'll be finishing the 100 at the same time I finish the 50 so I'll look forward to seeing him there. I saw him yesterday -- he's almost my build exactly but has 15 fewer pounds. He does it right.

I'm tapering down. I'll do a 12-mile run on Monday and then it will be just a few little runs here and there.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Say it Isn't True, Alex

Today is a bad day for my hero.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

June 7, 2000 Run

Today's training run was one of the finest I have ever done. It was one of my longer routes.

I whipped my Suzuki GXR into a high speed to the trailhead. I love its light weight and handling.

I then ascended the Newhall Beast (Manzanita Peak, a peak in the Angeles Mountain Range, a range between the San Fernando Valley and the Santa Clarita Valley) and descended the single track into Walker Ranch. Once in Walker Ranch it was a run through the canyon to Placerita Nature Reserve, and then another 2 miles on the road through Placerita Canyon back to the trailhead where I parked my GXR.

I encountered two friends on bikes on my ascent, one was my son-in-law and the other a member of my LDS ward whom I sometimes ride with, a former BYU wide receiver.

I have made this 14 mile run before without water or food, but this time because I started later in the day (7:00 a.m.) I hydrated frequently and downed some gel. It was great.

The last few miles through Placerita Canyon listening to my favorites Dire Straits and Def Leppard, and thinking about the brief I have to file on Monday in the California Supreme Court and the argument I have make in the Ninth Circuit in a few weeks was the greatest; euphoric. Life is worth it! Running is an incomparable experience! See the discussion of the Ninth Circuit case I'm handling here.

I got back on my GXR and whipped through heavy traffic, held a short business meeting at home and then started to pass out. Low blood pressure once again -- I passed out for a long time after Leona Divide. Dang it. I love it.

I then took my bicycle for an ascent of East Canyon, a tough and grinding ascent to a water tank peak that gives a view of the Los Angeles San Fernando basin, a peak in the Santa Susanna Mountain Range -- about three miles up and 1800 feet gain. I was lacking in the 80 degree heat, lacking big time in a bike ascent I do all the time. Losing consciousness once again at the rests. Weak and old, is all I can say.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day Run -- 27.3 Miles

Duration: 4 hours, 50 minutes
Length: 27.3 miles
Vertical up: 7722.8 ft
Vertical down: 6978.4 ft
Average speed: 5.6 mph

This was my Memorial Day training run. I ascended both Mentryville/Pico Canyon and the Towsley Canyon trails.

Mentryville is an historic site in California.

There were very few hikers and bikers on the Mentryville/Pico Canyon trail. It isn't as pretty as Towsley Canyon. I passed by a 1958 plaque honoring the first oil well in California. The plaque -- 50 years old -- said the pump was still operating, but in 2008 almost all of the oil field equipment has been removed.

My goal was to take the trail off the top of Pico Canyon (at the Odeen oil platform) down into Towsley Canyon, but it had changed since I saw it in the winter. The descending trail was covered with heavy brush and it was the middle of tick season. I spoke to a hiker at the Odeen platform who knew the trail and he said it is impassible in the spring and summer. I'll try again in the winter.

I then ran back down Pico Canyon. A runner who had just run to Thompson Park, only somewhat up from the trailhead. passed me and I struggled for about 2 miles to keep up. Running back up the Old Road to the Towsley Canyon trail head, I did the outer and inner loops. I ran into old friends making a day out of the hike. There were lots of hikers on the trail.

With little food (only two breakfast bars), it was a struggle. But, I didn't bonk! I'm ready for Wyoming.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Deb's Garden

Here are pix of part of Deb's garden. As usual, it is quite amazing this time of year.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Round Trip Home to Towsley Canyon Park

Duration: 2 hours, 18 minutes, 39 seconds
Length: 12 miles
Vertical up: 3702.9 ft
Vertical down: 3628.8 ft
Average speed: 5.2 mph

This typical round trip run from my home to Towsley Canyon runs both the outer and inner loops there. Towsley Canyon (or Ed Davis Park) is a locally-famous mountain biker's park, but there are many runners like me on the trail. The trail head is immediately to the west of I-5, on the Old Road. The trail head is about two miles from my home; everything east of I-5 is boring road running.

The outer loop is about five miles, and the inner loop is about 1.5 miles. The inner loop still has one of the species signs my son Sean put up for his eagle project 10 years ago. There were four others but they were wiped out in the fire in this canyon about three years ago.

The west side of the outer loop consists of some very tough switchbacks. When I was in my biking days, I biked the trail only once without having to leave my pedals.

I've run this four times this week, mountain biking it a fifth day. It was raining May 23 and 24, 2008 and I emerged from the trail completely drenched. The 24th was in the low 50s -- cold.

The flowers are still blooming. It is really wonderful.

My injuries from Leona Divide have almost disappeared. I have an annoying "shoelace" tendinitis on one foot. My 14-month nerve injury in my neck that has numbed and very slightly disabled (don't like to hand write because it hurts and can't be read; can only weight lift at 80% of my left) my right arm and hand persists, but I otherwise raring to go.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Malibu Creek Run May 2008

A 6-K. Deb, Casey and I ran it. I came in fifth in my age group, only a few seconds off of second place. However, with the numbness in my right arm due to a nerve injury of 14 months, I can't handwrite my name very well on the entry form. Deb, running on a stress fracture as crazy as it sounds, came in eighth.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

My son's birthday!

My sixth son, Owen, is 10 years old today! We love Owen.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Post-Leona Divide Taper

What a drag. Shin splints to keep me off my feet. Icing and more icing.

And then, to top it off, I was motorcycling to a church meeting and my GXR slid out from under me in a wet gutter as I turned into the parking lot. Now, some unresolved bloody parts and foot injuries. Members of my stake were surprised to see a bishop lying bloody on the edge of the parking lot, much less riding to a meeting in the first place. That's what I get for a rice rocket.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Running the Leona Divide 50

Finished: 10:47:37, 94th place out of around 200. 13th in my age group.

This was a difficult race. It was my fourth ultra, third 50 miler, and second 50 miler in five weeks.

According to a statistical study performed by Greg Wang Leona Divide is one of the more difficult ultra races. I didn't know that when I signed up.

I arose at 3:15 a.m. to eat an easy breakfast and tape up my feet. It was a quick drive to the start. I live 30 miles away, down San Francisquito Canyon Drive and McBean Parkway.

We all assembled in the Lake Hughes Community Center. Everybody was friendly. It was nice waiting out the race start sitting in a nice warm building on a chair talking to people. I am usually huddled around a barrel or campfire.

We started at 6:00 a.m. It was light enough to see without a lamp. I was concerned when almost all the runners were running in colder weather gear; I was running in lightweight summer gear. The starting temperature was about 50 degrees.

We were off. There were more than 200 runners at the start. It was like starting at a marathon, so many people. The beginning was a wide truck trail with a long ascent. On the descent on the truck trail as we approached the Pacific Crest Trail, I did one of my two face plants as I was looking behind me for the runner trying to catch me. A severely scraped knee with blood pouring into my socks attracted the attention of race volunteers and other racers the rest of the way. Much later, a very kind volunteer mopped me up and a fellow runner gave me some Neosporin at an aid station.

We connected with the Pacific Crest Trail. I stuck to the running guides painted on the trail but I was totally disoriented. As I later examined my route from the GPS marks, it does not resemble what I thought I was doing.

As we got into the more technical parts of the Pacific Crest Trail I started to lose ground against other runners. Lots of uphill and switchbacks. As the race wore on, the interior corners of the switchbacks in the dry stream beds were tough on the legs. On one of the descents a 20-something woman passed me and I had a great time keeping up with her for about 5 miles. I blew out of the aid station leaving her behind, but she passed me about three miles into the next ascent. At about mile 25, the woman who would become the lead female finisher passed me in a blaze of speed. I guess I can say I had a good head of steam for the first 25 miles or so.

The country was dense chaparral, a very dense brush composed of several different kinds of vegetation, including acacia, Manzanita, and some bushes I couldn't identify. The high country included a few pines here and there. In some parts of the more cool and shaded areas there was lots of poison oak, a vine that would intrude into the path or drop from a bush or tree. For parts of the run I had to dodge this stuff.

I could also see why the other runners were dressed more warmly. On the very first major ridge we crossed it was darn cold; we ran in fog and clouds and wind. I needed long sleeves and gloves.

Two things began to plague me. Shin splints in the left shin. I had taped up the right shin where I had some problems and it was fine. At the end of the race the left shin was swollen and looked reddened, almost like a broken leg.

I also swallowed a Gu packet about 15 miles out. I never use gel but I thought I'd try. I suffered from a really bad case of the runs for the rest of the race and probably became dehydrated. I lost 1/2 hour dealing with the runs problem not to mention groaning in pain, especially in the pounding descents. Too much information, I know. I will spare you the gross details.

The most interesting part of the race was near the end as we ascended to the last ridge. This was running on top of a mesa. The trail was twisty and technical, and in bright sunlight. In days past I have frequently bicycled through the area and it looked familiar -- something over 4000 feet.

Our turnaround at about mile 30 was a campground.

As one can see from the chart, I really labored up the last ascent. Four or five people passed me. Two of them, whom I had been in front of by over an hour previously (based upon seeing them in turnarounds) asked me if I was OK because I was going so slowly. It was sunny and warm. But, did I passed a couple of people. I was probably dehydrated and my left shin was killing me.

The last four miles or so was back on the truck trail and semi-fast running. I needed more water but I didn't spend much time at the very last aid station. I wasn't carrying enough water -- just 1 liter. Three more runners passed me; how unfair life was.

I finished at the Lake Hughes Community Center and had a nice rest. The volunteers asked me if I was going to pass out but I sat in a chair and downed about three liters of Gatorade and soup.

I came in 94th place. Nothing to write home about, but all in all it was so much fun -- almost every mile. There are times in life when it is wonderful to be alive -- on my board with one of my sons at the top of Shireen at Snowbird, jumping the Cornice at Mammoth with another son, and dozens of miles into an ultrathon. Today was one of those days. But, dang it, an hour too slow.

I came home, passed out cold, and freaked out my wife when she had a hard time reviving me. I came to, hearing "I'm calling 911" and then for the next three minutes I stumbled around trying to demonstrate that there was nothing wrong with me. Doc said -- low blood pressure.

Recovery, however, has been tough. Every day in the week after the run I suffer from miserable shin splints in the left shin. (What the heck are those, anyway? Painful way to bedevil somebody in complete shape.) I can’t run; I can’t prepare for my next one.

April 27, 2008: One of the comments is from a chiropractor who recommended new shoes. I saw a running specialist, Phidippides Encino, and Jeff there said I was overpronating with my Soloman XAs, and recommended heavier Brooks. We'll see. I have to ice. Meanwhile I am limited to my bicycling.

But, I love the run. I love it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Musings Before Leona Divide

This Saturday, I'm running the Leona Divide 50. It is about an hour's drive from my house, northwards. Part of it will be run on the famous Pacific Crest Trail, which I hiked as a boy in Washington State and have occasionally crossed and recrossed in the Sierras.

We've had almost record heat temperatures this week, and I worry because I do not like running in heat. When I ran the Salt Lake Marathon a couple of years ago in 80 plus temps, I came in at 4:17, my worst time by far. But, I'm hoping things will cool down.

As I gear up in the weeks before, especially last week, I get my odd instances of tendinitis and wonder if it will beset me. But, I'm pushing it. Twelve miles 4/14/08; I rode my GXR (whipping it up to 90 up the Old Road at 5:00 in the morning)to the trailhead at East Canyon, ascended to the water tank and descended Weldon Canyon to the Oak Tree Gun Club area, with about two or three miles of road work down the Old Road. Getting dang hot; I am getting dehydrated and I don't like carrying water.

For the rest of this week (April 16), I am in what is known as "taper" mode. Sleep in, no running, eating well. Life's great.

And, then, there's the Lakers. Atop the Western Conference. Really, isn't life wonderful? Who could ask for more except that they really must commit mayhem against the Nuggets or Dallas or the Warriors. I'm hoping my partner whom I split my season tickets with will let me have some playoff seats.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Signing Up for Future Runs

So, I've signed up for the Leona Divide 50. April 19, 2008. Maybe if I post this here I won't back out. My first-place age finish at the Buffalo Run 50 gives me a little more incentive.

I've also signed up for the May 10, 2008 Malibu Creek 14 mile run, which I will run with my wife and son-in-law, as well as a June 20 Bighorn 50. My brother Dave will be running the 100. I just don't have the guts to do a 100 yet and am probably getting too old.

As of Saturday, April 5, I'd been battling the flu for five days. I went out running ill and made a lackluster ascent of the Newhall Beast. An old injury, a shin splint, is starting to affect me as well. But, I hope to put in 60 miles in the coming week.

I was able to make the 18-mile ascent April 8, 2008 to Ye Olde Missile Base, but the next few days are going to be consumed with work. Feeling good, though. The miles just melt away.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

50-mile Buffalo Run Ultrathon, Antelope Island, Utah

Duration: 9 hours, 43 minutes, 03 seconds
Length: 50.0 miles
Vertical up: 3231.4 ft
Vertical down: 3218.7 ft
Average speed: 5.2 mph

The above picture with my arms outstretched shows me with my shorts falling down, which they did completely about 200 yards later. I was wearing shorts because it is not cool to run only in tights and I need pockets to carry the various analgesics and salt tablets needed to get through the day. (Sounds like a Rolling Stones song.) I am at about mile 20 in that shot, and mile 26 in the other shots.

Race day arrived March 22, 2008 for the Antelope Island (Utah) 50 mile Buffalo Run. The race is organized by Jim Skaggs, whose attention to detail made the race very enjoyable. I came in first in my division; see here.

Antelope Island is a 42 square-mile island within the Great Salt Lake. The island was previously owned by one of my clients, a railroad company, but was later acquired by the State of Utah. Aside from trees in commercial or park operations on the island, I am aware of only one tree on the entire island.

I was not ready to go. I had been suffering from a sore throat and had a hearty Mexican dinner the night before with my college kids. Upon waking up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready, I seriously considered a “Did Not Start” status. But, I had come all this way from Southern California and I thought I had at least show my face.

It was nippy and dark right before the start at 5:30 am, around 30 degrees. I was glad to see my brother Dave, who was doing volunteer work and runs the website for the race.

The worst part of a race like this is standing around getting ready to go; we are all dressed in light running gear huddled around the fire. At the start of an ultrathon, it is rare to see stretching or pre-race exercise one sees at marathons or shorter races. We are all just cold. Stretching and limbering up would just take us away from the fire.

We all stare at each other and wonder who will be losers and who will be winners. I see the same runners at every race; the ultra crowd is really kind of thin.

We were off at 6:00 a.m. Fortunately, this year I remembered to bring my headlamp. Last year we had a quarter of a mile bushwacking in the dark.

It usually takes me about four miles to get my blood running fast enough to feel comfortable. The first few miles to the first aid station basically involved getting acclimated to the altitude and shaking out the stiffness.

The race headed up to the 50K course, which I had run two years before. Starting from a campground at White Rock Bay, we ran up the White Rock area. So, we have an immediate ascent of some physical challenge. I am only 6 or 7 off the lead; I look behind me and there are dozens of headlamps stretched out for a mile or more as we head up to "Lone Tree."

Dawn broke as we all ran a very technical out-and-back loop at the first aid station. As we came back to the aid station (meaning, it became the second aid station) the drinks they set out for me were frozen on the top.

We ran up to Split Rock and the Red Rocks, which took us up to the Bay Loop and Beacon Knob, a vantage that let us see both sides of the island. Much of this trail was very steep, with several switchbacks and obstacles. I was very glad that I had spent lots of time climbing hills, doing trailwork and working on a Stairmaster. As I climbed towards Beacon Knob, I was only 6 or 7 off the lead. But, the younger runners were gaining on me on the ascent as I was laboring up it.

But, then as we descended from Beacon Knob, something happened. Going downhill, I felt like bonking and people I had beat the year before began to pass me.

In the middle of my worst feelings, as I was considering quitting, Brother Dave (and who wasn’t running this year because he had a 100-mile race in a week), ran up from the campground about three or four miles to meet me on my 17th mile. He was pushing me to run faster, but I wasn’t interested. I was sore and tired and my stomach was upset from the Mexican feast the night before.

Brother Dave urged me to drink more water. He said that my soreness may have come from inadequate water intake. Hmm, he might have something there. We hit the third aid station near the causeway as we swung north, and I tried to eat something. I gobbled down a salt pill. I drank lots more water. We turned south along the East Side Trail. At the fourth aid station, at approximately 27 miles, I was feeling grim but not as badly as I had felt the previous hour. This is where I would drop Dave so that he could work at the station. I downed a peanut-butter and jelly sandwich and a couple of Cokes. I headed south towards the Ranch, about 5.5 miles away, and as I approached the Ranch I realized I was feeling much better and starting to catch some of the runners who passed me.

At the Ranch, or mile 32, my stop was very brief. I was amazed to see the number of runners sitting or standing around; some changing their shoes. I left several runners at the aid station, and then passed three more out of the station. I was feeling my oats and would not walk again, only running, for the remainder of the race.

My conditioning kicked in; when I did this race last year I depended mostly upon long time on my feet in the roads in my home town of Newhall, California. For this run, my runs were exclusively on technical and steep trails, usually summiting the low mountain ranges around my house. When I didn't feel like going out in the weather, it was intensive 60-minute Stairmaster training along with some very heavy weightlifting for the quads and back. I also followed the recommendation of an ultrathoner I had read about in Running magazine who suggested that during training runs one conditions to drink and eat as little as possible to train the body to draw upon fat stores when under stress.

Mile 32 to 43 was pretty flat stuff on the edge of the lake. The sun was up but the weather in the low 40s -- absolutely perfect running weather. I shed my outer synthetic shell and ran in lighter gear. We had a perfect view for miles of the bay with Syracuse and Farmington on the other side. My brother Dave came out to meet me for a run of a few miles back to an aid station and he remarked about how well I was running. He was running sweep. The slowest runners were coming upon me from the opposite direction. I eventually passed the last runner coming the opposite direction, a fellow who had started an hour late.

At mile 38 I came within one hundred yards of three runners in their 30s who were walking. They turned to see me gaining on them and they picked up their pace. I came up to them at the second to last aid station at mile 43, but they left me and I could never catch them after that.

The last seven miles was a loop around a small peak next to Buffalo Bay. It was very technical work -- the most technical in the entire run. I very much enjoy technical ascending trails on a run because it gives me an opportunity to slow down and rely more upon anaerobic muscle conditioning (which I am good at) and less on raw aerobic resources.

I ran past many day hikers with their dogs and families. Then, back to the starting campground.

I came in running strong, although I was passed by a runner at about 48 miles, and earlier by another runner at 41 miles.

I received my award for first in my age class at 9:43:03.

It was a beautiful day. The race organization was wonderful. Fortunately, my tendinitis which afflicted me at mile 40 in Idaho in October 2007 did not flare up. For this race, I merely lost a toenail -- the ultrarunner's affliction.

It was worth it. When I run marathons, at about mile 17 I swear that I will never run another race. With this ultrathon, the terrain was so varied and the scenery was so wonderful, I was glad to be running at most every mile. Although, in truth, in the ultra one usually misses a lot of scenery due to the need to keep one's eyes on the trail to avoid a trip or turned ankle.

[The map isn't quite right because the Garmin 305 took awhile to acquire the satellites. the start point, not shown, is the same as the end point.]

My recovery was very fast due to my previous conditioning. By Wednesday I was back on a 70 minute Stairmaster regime although my toe hurt. By Friday I did a round trip of 18 miles or so to the Nike base (see below, where I did a roundabout ascent to the same place). I'll post above about my two pending 50 miles in April and May.

Photos from the Buffalo Run are above; thanks to Brother Dave for taking them. (He finished the week thereafter first overall in the Moab 100 -- this after running over 30 miles with me at Antelope Island. Go Dave!!).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Twenty-eight Mile Ascent to Ye Olde Missile Base -- Newhall, California

Duration: 5 hours, 38 minutes, 40 seconds
Length: 28 miles
Vertical up: 6620.4 ft
Vertical down: 6688.2 ft
Average speed: 5.1 mph

The route was my peak training run 10 days before the ultrathon. This is not the proper timing; peak should be three to four weeks before the race, but because I had compressed my training and relied upon my high mileage base, I didn't have a choice.

This started at my home in Newhall, California. I ran the first 11 miles in pitch dark, which was tough because there were segments of Sierra Highway which were not lit, and I had to deal with on-coming traffic. In Canyon Country I became lost in the Santa Clara River riverbed for a mile before emerging on Sand Canyon Road. A brief fuel stop at the 7-11 wasn't really necessary for me at the time but it paid off later in the hours to come. Unfortunately, I forgot to switch on my GPS after the 7-11 until I had made most of my ascent up Sand Canyon Road, but it seems the software attempted to make the computations for speed and distance. At the top of Bear Divide I turned right onto the Forest Service Road in the Angeles National Forest and made the ascent to the old Nike Missile Base which is now Fire Station No. 9, a helicopter fire suppression unit at the top of the mountain. The firehouse dog, who seems to have been there since the mid-90s when I climbed the road on my bike, came out to chase me at the fire station but I had my stick ready. (I love dogs; one chased me on my bike when I was 45 and I broke my collar bone. As I lay unconscious in the street, the dog's owner in our leash-law city shrieked in grief and rushed to attend to her dog. The dog recovered nicely in about a minute. Another dog chased me and bit me, which became infected a week later when we were on vacation in Alaska; another dog beloved by our wonderful neighbor bit me and the horrified neighbor saw me raise a large rock ready to do damage if the dog bit me again.)

I descended the Forest Service road. I didn't have the energy to take the ridge trail down, which is my normal route when I take the much shorter ascent to the Nike Base directly from Newhall instead of the the circuitous route through Canyon County and Sand Canyon.

The miles just rolled off me, even with the fierce ascent. No soreness; I went into work and put in a full day and was back running 10 mile days two days later. I'm ready for the ultra.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Riding (well, sort of) to King's Peak

So, friends my age ride Harleys. I ride a Suzuki GXR and a Honda VFR and am not welcomed in the Harley crowd. At least I can pop wheelies.

I load my Honda onto the back of my trailer and haul it from California to Alpine, Utah. Piling camping gear on the back, I ride towards Wyoming with the Kings Peak trailhead in mind for a quick run up and down the trail; I recall it would have been a 28-mile round trip. I had climbed Kings Peak before, but had taken two days to do so.

I whip my bike up close to 130 on the straight Wyoming freeway. I am impressed with its stability. At that speed, my Corvette would have felt unstable and light.

It was August, mind you, and warm in Utah. On the high plains of Wyoming, and approaching the Ft. Bridger exit, the temperature falls. With my GPS I navigate my way to try and find Henry's Fork. Around 10:00 p.m. I stop in the advance of a thunderstorm to recheck my GPS and I lay my bike down as my feet slip on the gravel. Dozens of miles from civilization and with a brand-new bike I wonder how it was I would right it. A great fellow in a pick-up drives along the lonely road and sees me standing there with my bike down and the light on, makes a remark about being crazy, and helps me back on my tires.

As I approach the trailhead (which is found after 30 miles of dirt roads) the thermometer on the dashboard shows the temperature dropping to below 30 degrees. I am not prepared for such cold weather. I arrive at the trailhead, pop my tent and dive into it. The weather is rain and snow. My plan is for a 3:00 a.m. departure.

The morning arrives. It is colder and wetter than I imagined it would be. I drag myself out and start running up the trail at a good clip. At approximately the nine-mile mark the trail crosses the roaring, but not too deep, river below. The bridge is two or three slippery logs tied together. Crossing the bridge, and wondering what would happen to me if I were to fall in the river, I fall in. I am saved from injury on the rocks because I fall on my backpack which contains dry clothing (no more) and food. Two hikers in rain gear ask me if I am OK.

Sopping wet, I quickly change into all synthetic gear and continue running up the trail.

Alas, the mountain pass between the flats and the peak has been snowed in – about two feet of snow. I am forced to return the way I had come, but it is raining fiercely all the way to the trailhead. I pack my tent, climb on my bike, ride over thirty miles of extremely muddy roads and then two hours or so of freeway in the rain to Alpine. I feel like I am freezing for weeks thereafter.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bob's Running

I’m an occasional ultrathon runner, 54 years old. I’m slow but sure. I’m too big for a real runner. Running gives me time to think about problems at work and with clients. It is exhausting, painful, blissful and exhilarating. When I’m on my 25th mile at 2:00 a.m. running in the moonlight in the mountains of Idaho dressed in warm weather running gear at the beginning of autumn, knowing that if I break a leg or otherwise stop I’ll suffer from hypothermia, I feel glad to be alive in a way that is impossible to describe.

When I was 39 years old I picked up bicycling. I did it at the invitation of my brother Dave, who ran an annual bike tour of the Uintahs. I bought a used road bike and a used mountain bike (a great handbuilt Answer) and put thousands of miles on each one. In my first two months of riding I dropped about twenty pounds.

Having been invited to climb Mt. Rainier at the age of 45, I started cross-training with running. Despite biking over a hundred miles a week, I found I could not run more than two miles without fatigue. I was pleased with myself that, after a week, I had pushed my runs out to two miles.

After my climb I strapped on my tennis shoes and started running more and biking less. I learned that running, like biking, requires reliable equipment. After going through shoes that had metal in them, shoes that blistered and shoes which ran too hot, spending lots of money along the way on cheap shoes, I came to learn that money needed to be spent on reliably-built shoes.

I also learned that running required time on my feet. The tough runs which I started doing in my late 40s which left me muscle-sore and fatigued I can now do with ease — sometimes doubling or tripling the run. But it took me months and years to get to the point where one’s body has the miles to absorb more miles without complaining.

From age 45 to age 47 I was satisfied with six miles a day, three days a week, but I noticed I could not control my weight as I had as a bike rider.

Preparing for my first marathon at age 47, my resting heart rate fell too low (between 20 and 30 bpm) and a pacemaker was installed to keep me conscious – a discouraging problem. It is now set to kick in at 40 bpm. Exercise leads to electrical problems in the cardiac system.

My first marathon was Death Valley, in December 2004. I ran 4:00, and was terribly disappointed. I have also found that the better I have become at preparing for marathons, I was not able to improve upon that time by more than 90 seconds, and sometimes I have slipped 12 minutes off that time. I figure I am slow but sure. In 2005 I ran the St. George (Utah) Marathon, my first real super-crowd marathon. It was a great experience. I particularly enjoyed miles 20 through 25 running with essentially the same crowd of people, usually thirty-somethings. The last mile was a change of pace, as there were people passing and being passed. At the end of the race, we were funneled into a chute with not enough room to walk around and relax; the crowds were thick. I had a hard time staying conscious.

A few weeks later I had my first long distance experience as I ran a 48-mile double-crossing of the Grand Canyon with my brother, Dave. He writes about it here, but don't believe anything he says about me. I then ran an ultrathon of 50K in Utah, coming in 35th place. I ran a 50 mile ultrathon at the same location in Utah, coming in 21st. My brother's write up is here. I ran scattered marathons, a half, a 10K and several 5ks in the meantime. I have also done 40 miles of pacing on one of my brother’s 100 milers, here but here don't believe him; I was the hero in the story and not the butt of jokes.

In 2007 I could not improve my marathon times. I rant the 2007 Salt Lake Marathon, where I came ran a heartbreaking 4:00:03 (Oh why, why could I not run four seconds faster? The runner's unhappiness.) coming in 12th in my division. I ran with my son Rob, who ran the half. The race plagued me with several blisters, something to which I am not accustomed. I walked over the Dick's Sporting Goods at the end of the race, threw away my shoes, and purchased my new Nikes.

I became particularly intrigued with long-distance ultrathons when I paced my brother in an October 2007 100 miler at Bear Lake, Utah. I ran about 40 miles. I then laid off until December to try and overcome a spinal compression problem plaguing me since February 2007 (which still afflicts me).

A December 2007 11K at Muir Beach in San Francisco caught me running way behind my son-in-law Casey, and further laying off to try and get my nerve issue resolved led to increase weight, and I was a tub of lard at 205 pounds when I took my family to Cancun in late December 2007.

I responded to my brother's invitation to run the Antelope Island 50M in March, and I did it without a lot of training and came in first in my age group. Inspired, a ran a 50M at Leona Valley in April, where I was severely afflicted with diarrhea and shin splits. I ran a 50M at Big Horn, Wyoming and did fairly well. My time at the St. George Marathon in October was 20 minutes better than my best time. Finally, for 2008, I ran a 50K in Orange County, running in 11th place overall.

My neural pain continues on a day to day basis; pain is part of my life. But, at 54 years of age, it is a wonderful experience every day.

The ultrathon experience is really quite different than a marathon. I am not a physiologist, but it seems to me that the marathon uses different and fewer parts of the muscle and bone structure than a trail ultrathon and can be more painful than an ultrathon, although one cannot run an ultrathon with the preparation typically necessary for a marathon.

An ultrathon is more grueling, in that it demands many more hours of intense physical labor. It also requires better resource management — one must care more for the risk of chafing, blisters and fuel consumption. Whereas I don’t have difficulty running a marathon without intrarace water and fuel, running an ultrathon basically requires being fully fueled at all times past mile 15. Around mile 30, the last thing I want is food, but I must force it down. In these last 20 miles, soup and peanut butter and jam sandwiches hit the spot. Liquid gels and Power Bars -- forget them. Carry the gel only for a time of desperation on a training run.

Preparing for the Ultrathon

Central Park and Harlem at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks

Trip Stats
Duration: 1 hour, 39 minutes, 3 seconds
Length: 11.2 miles
Average speed: 6.8 mph

I'm preparing for my ultrathon on March 22. This run was a double loop of Central Park with a short run through Harlem. Unfortunately, my GPS lost power three-quarters through the last loop so I have nothing to show for it.I left the Waldorf and finally got the GPS to connect to the satellites as I entered Central Park on 58th Street. It was a Friday so the park wasn't that crowded with runners, but there were certainly some very capable and fast runners to compete with, so my pace at time was fast. Even in the Winter, the park is a great place to run.

Whitney Canyon to Oliveview Hospital at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:Share GPS tracks
Trip Stats
Duration: 4 hours, 36 minutes, 10 seconds
Length: 21 miles
Vertical up: 7503.6 ft
Vertical down: 7524.1 ft
Average speed: 4.6 mph

This trip starts at the Whitney Canyon trailhead, or San Fernando Road and Highway 14 in Newhall. It ascends to Mt. Manzanita, descends along Los Pinetos trial to Olivewiew and the reascends to Mt. Manzanita's base, with a return through Walker Ranch, Placerita Canyon with the last two miles on the road.The descent down Los Pinetos trail was rough; it is a very steep descent and it appears to be used only as a horse trail. There were no bicycle tracks and the horses have torn it up. The ascent out of Los Angeles was an easy fireroad. I needed more than one liter of water for this, but didn't have it.