Monday, December 31, 2007

A Review of My 2007

2007 is about to close so I’ll take this opportunity to reflect back on my adventures. Unlike 2006 when I was sidelined for a few spring months with Illial Tibial Band Syndrome (ITBS), 2007 was essentially injury-free. I met many of my goals this year, and missed a few others.

Favorite moment being an ultrarunnerBoston Marathon – With a furious Nor-easter bearing down on Boston, it was comforting to know that 40-mile-an-hour headwinds, 40 degree temperatures and torrential rain didn’t really bother me. I figured I only had to run three and a half hours! I’d be done shortly after lunch. In the end the rain and wind let up. I had great fun.

Most memorable DNFJedediah Smith 50k – I went out with Eric Dube and while chatting on the second lap found out he was running a sub-4:00 pace, far too fast for me. I was aiming closer to 4:15-4:30. Yet, I felt comfortable so I stayed with him and felt really well clicking off the miles - until mile 23, when I suddenly, totally blew up and knew it was over. It sure felt good to run like that for 23 miles. I’ll be back to Gibson Ranch to try again.

Stupidest DNFWay Too Cool 50k – I didn’t want to race, so I went out to have fun. This led to picking newts off of the trail so runners wouldn’t step on them, which made me miss a turn (stayed on the WS Trail). Once I knew I was possibly off-course, I didn’t turn around. I wanted to see if I was correct that the trail would lead me to the bottom of Ball Bearing Hill. It did. I sometimes need to take things a bit more seriously.

Best performanceMiwok 100k – With a goal to run sub-11:00, I kept about 10 minutes ahead of pace the entire race. No low moments, except for the 2 miles on the Coastal Trail where my contact folded under my eye-lid. Then at Pan Toll losing it in the dirt, cleaning it and getting it back in my eye (thanks Pete). Passing a few very good runners on the last leg out of Tennessee Valley let me savor my accomplishment.

Most Unmemorable MomentWasatch Front 100 Mile – Leaving Brighton aid station (mile 75) at 4 am with my pacer Rob Evans. After tossing my Cliff Bloks and walking a few hundred yards, I don’t recall how I got to the top of Point Supreme (10,500 feet). I remembered following a light, Rob’s. When we were among all the rocks on the crest I recall wondering how we had gotten up so high. I do remember running down in the morning light 20+ miles to The Homestead. Simply the hardest thing I have ever done.

Best Time PacingTahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile (USATF National Championship)– Running with Rob Evans on the last 50 miles, through the dark, cool, starry night with Lake Tahoe glimmering below. Our Tuesday night running group finished 1st (Jasper Halekas), 2nd (Mark Gilligan) and 2nd Masters/10th overall (Rob Evans). It certainly helped me during the year to run with such talent.

Paris Hilton Moment - Showing Skin in a Dirty Magazine - I had the privilege to run up and down, several times, the Claremont Hills in Oakland for photographer Corey Rich. He was contributing pics to a Trail Running Mag article on the trails of the East Bay Hills penned by Garett Graubins. I still stand behind the rope line at all the clubs, but not at my local running store, Transports.

Best BlogpostScott Dunlap’s Fighting My Demons at the Mt. Diablo 50k - Simply the best thing I read on the Internet in 2007. It captures Scott’s unique struggle on a difficult course with the help of his fellow runners. The cast of characters and the quality of their camaraderie is a testament to the ultrarunning community. After reading the post, make sure to read the comments. It’ll show you why runners set out into the mountains with such people. You don’t run alone, but with a compassionate band of sisters and brothers.

Tomorrow is a new year, full of adventures, friends and surprises behind every bend in the trail.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why We Run In the Rain

Yesterday was my last long training run before the HURT 100. It rained pretty much the whole time. Sensible people are said to know when to come out of the rain. Cautious people consider which clothing and accessories, like an umbrella and hat, would be appropriate for going out in the rain. An ultrarunner considers rain a gift of nature, a weather-training variable, and just another opportunity to experience what the jungles and skies are going to throw at him on the muddy, rooty, rocky trails of Oahu.

Running in the rain in a redwood forest is one of my favorite pastimes. It brings out the little-boy spirit in me. Mud? Run in it. Puddles? Step right in them--once your feet are wet, they can't get wetter. Pouring rain? Just more of nature's infinite drama.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Across The Years

At Nardini Manor in Litchfield, Arizona, outside of Phoenix, Across the Years consists of three fixed-time races of 24, 48 and 72 hours beginning today at 9 am. Since each race starts one day apart, all the runners are on the track as the New Year passes with the races ending on January 1st at 9 am.

See how the runners are doing by following the real-time posted standings. You can even send greetings to the runners, which I heard from friends last year were greatly appreciated.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Hardest Ultramarathon in the World

There are hundreds of ultramarathons held all over the world. Many like to claim that their run is the most difficult, the most challenging, and only for the most finely-trained athletes. You could polish-off quite a few beers arguing the finer points of the matter, but there is one run that stands far above the rest - The Barkley Marathons run in Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee. It is a 100 mile race essentially composed of five 20-mile laps. With almost 53,000 feet of climbing and descent, all on what can only be marginally called a trail, there is very little actual running. Other quirky elements, such as the books hidden throughout the course from which you must retrieve a page to verify you've covered the course, add to the general mayhem that makes up the run. Since the race started in 1986, only 6 out of over 600 long-distance runners have ever finished the course.

In 2007 The Washington Post sent an intrepid reporter to cover the run. He did an admirable job in trying to explain the sheer insanity of the challenge and tenacity of the runners - Why We Compete - Curiosity. Make sure you look through the interactive map and audio features, which use impressive web technology to give you a sense of the run.

My favorite story about the Barkley is Blake Wood's account of his 2001 run. Endurance Planet provides an mp3 audio of Blake's story, which was featured in Running Through The Wall: Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon. It gives the Barkley's rich history and Blake's blow by blow account of his amazing adventure and descent into...well, you decide.

Would I ever attempt to run The Barkely Marathons? Oh yes! Would I expect to finish? Hell no. I'm not an idiot. I'd be happy to complete two laps without laying down in the middle of the trail and crying for my Mommie.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Oakland's Native Son - Jack London

"I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Blogging in 2008

For 2008 I am going to keep a weblog of my adventures in ultrarunning. This blog will include commentary about my running experiences, interesting pictures and videos, inspirational quotes and stories, and links to others' ultrarunning blogs and their stories. It is meant for my friends, family, and other ultrarunners.

For those not familiar with the sport, ultrarunning is defined as any running event longer than a marathon, or 26 miles, 385 yards. The typical distances are 50 kilometers (31.06 miles), 50 miles, 100 kilometers (61.12 miles), and 100 miles. These can be run on the road, track or trail. I run almost exclusively on trails, which include the additional factors of elevation gain and descent, as well as altitude, i.e., running at, say, 8,000 feet. There are also events based on time, such as 6, 12, 24, 48 and 72 hours. These are generally run on a closed circuit such as a track or loop course. There are other types of events too, in a myriad of configurations, all defined by exceeding the traditional marathon distance. David Blaikie wrote a wonderful article that goes into more depth if you're interested.

My intent is to keep my blog light-hearted, eclectic and informative. If you feel like commenting on a post, please do. I'd appreciate the feedback, questions or suggestions.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Morning Run

The dappled morning view of the National Skyline Trail just out of Redwood Park on the way north to Sibley Volcanic Preserve.


Everything starts somewhere, and my weblog starts here.