Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Will to Continue...

"The will to continue isn't about choosing reasons to take the next one hundred steps; it's about connecting with the forces that give one's life meaning, that which one values about all else. Success on an expedition, as in life, isn't about brute strength, or even endurance, but resilience: the ability to remind oneself, over and over, of the joy of living, even amid the greatest hardship."

--From No Horizon Is So Far: Two Women and Their Historic Journey Across Antarctica by Liv Arneson, Ann Bancroft, and Cheryl Dalhe

Find out more about these two amazing women, one American and the other Norwegian, who dazzled and educated more than 3 million elementary school children from 65 countries by connecting them to their expedition with internet and satellite phones.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How To Survive In The Wilderness For 72 Hours

Since I was a small kid, I've always liked reading Popular Mechanics. This month they have a good article on How to Survive in the Wilderness for 72 Hours. Perhaps this information would come in handy when I get lost during a run.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

In The News -- Take A Run And Drink Up

You can't make this stuff up.

Then again, I've read an awful lot of scientific and cultural garbage in Time Magazine, like Vladimir Putin being named Man of the Year.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Angel Island 25k

Right before I left to run the HURT 100 in Hawaii, one of my favorite local trail runs was here smack dab in the middle of the bay - The Angel Island 25k - put on by our friends, Wendell and Sarah of Pacfic Coast Trail Runs. It's three different loops around the island, one including a route to the summit. All around there are magnificent views of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Scott Dunlap went out with his family and has a wonderful write-up with the usual panoply of pictures.

(Picture courtesy of Scott Dunlap)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Time For Recovery and Rest

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace."

--Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time to train, and a time to run; a time to rest and a time to recover.

I missed having December off to relax. So I'll take a few weeks off, get in some easy walks and runs, and work on healing myself from a memorable 2007 season. Then I'll begin my new year of training with a bit more patience, a lot more determination, and just a slight bit wiser.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

HURT Race Report

My training and taper went fairly well. The only downside - I came down with the stomach-flu early in the week and developed a rasping cough two days before the race. In an effort to rid myself of the cough and congestion, I took Robitussin, on Thursday and Friday. This helped me sleep and cleared my chest, but I was still a little bit under the weather for the start.

After the Hawaiian blessings and last words from the race director, 90 runners crossed the bridge at 6 am running off up Hogsback, a steep, rooted climb which we would become quite familiar with throughout the race. With my headlight beaming forward, I followed the runner in front of me, but consciously didn’t try to pass anyone. I could see the antsy runners squirt by when an opening occurred. I wasn’t going to chase anyone this morning. As we turned left at the top and trotted down some nice single-track, I found myself behind Kathy D’Onofrio and Charlotte Vasarhelyi. I was in my groove and we moved easily at a good pace. Even though Kathy tends to run the uphills, which is quite a feat at HURT, I just walked behind her and Charlotte as they did most of the talking. I felt relaxed and began eating and drinking. All systems seemed fine. Turning down from Manoa Falls, I saw Paul Hopwood, the eventual winner, and Rob Bien, both looking strong. At the first aid station I ditched my headlight in my drop bag, grabbed some potatoes while the volunteers filled my water bottles, and scooted back out onto the trail. On the way back up the trail, the runners get a great view of the Manoa Falls, a 150 foot waterfall. It was covered in light morning sun. The temperature was fairly mild and the trail was in fairly good shape.

Every time you leave an aid station in the HURT 100 you have to climb back up the long trail you ran down. With 15 long climbs, it’s good to keep an easy, steady pace. As I started the second long climb, I kept behind Kathy and Charlotte and bided my time. As we completed our climb and skirted through the bamboo forest, we would have to turn right after part of Pauoa Flats (which is flat, but intertwined with myriad roots creating a dizzying maze). I missed this turn twice in the race and ended up at the top of the hill, only to have to retrace my steps back down the hill and, worse, back across the dreaded Pauoa Flats.

At the top of the ridge, a very narrow grass-lined knife-edge with views of Honolulu, we came across a bench in honor of Rod Bien’s dad. That was nice to see. After another steep descent, we eventually reached the Jackass Ginger aid station in Nu’uanu. I saw Beverly and asked her how Ben, who was running in Kuwait, was doing. She said he finished 100 miles in 18:54. I was impressed and quite happy for him and his soldiers.

I crossed back over the river holding the rope, and headed back up the long climb out of Nu’uanu. On this section you get back to Pauoa Flats and turn right again, and head back up a high ridge, working your way down through some muddy, lush single-track before eventually arriving at the Start/Finish at the Nature Center. Trailing faithfully Kathy, Charlotte, and by now Ed Bugarin, I was surprised to have arrived at 4:47 into the race. I was going too fast, even though it felt quite easy and comfortable.

For the second lap I determined to go significantly slower, so I took my time talking with Sarah, eating some food, and restocking my bars, Fig Newtons, etc. Suzanna Bon was also leaving about this time, so we walked out together and headed up Hogsback. It was decidedly warmer this time around. Everything went very well on this loop until I missed the turn at Pauoa Flats. This meant I had to cross this crazy section twice more than I should have. On top of that, it rained lightly at the end of the first lap, and midway through the second lap, so the mud was getting slushier, and the runners were turning it all up to add insult to injury. Still I hadn’t fallen, but this was soon to change. At the river crossing, I decided to just walk through the water since my feet were already soaked. It helped in getting the layers of mud off my ankles and legs. Then on the short rise up to the aid station I slipped and fell on my ass right in front of the camera-lady, Heather. “Don’t worry, I didn’t get that.” “Sure, right.”

As I returned back to the Start/Finish I felt fine with my stomach handling food well, as well as processing water successfully. The second lap had taken 6:02 but included an additional mile or two from missing the turn. I was quite ok with the time. I decided I wanted a similar pace for the third lap as the night would be falling in a couple of hours.

I like running at night, so I enjoyed the slow tropical sunset. And then it started to rain. Not just the light, warm rain of earlier in the day, but a torrential rain, with sheets and sheets of water just dumping from the sky. It hit me about the time I came to a bridge before the Paradise Park aid station. It’s the only section of the course with a paved road, about 200 meters. Even with two high-powered ultra-bright LED flashlights I had to stop and stand still because the light simply reflected off all the raindrops. I couldn’t see 10 feet in front of me for about three minutes. It was a complete white-out in the rain. It was so amazing I just stood there laughing to myself. I knew the aid station was within 100 yards. I just couldn't safely move forward. When the rain slowed just a bit, I ran gingerly into the aid station to the huzzahs and clamoring of all the hearty volunteers. “That was amazing,” everyone was gasping. I filled up my hydration pack and headed back out leaving three runners in the aid station deciding when to leave. I was already soaked to the bone, so what was more rain.

When I returned up the trail to Manoa Falls, the trail turns left, and climbing up some steep boulders ascends sharply. At this point, the water coming down the trail created a rather beautiful waterfall all its own. And then I realized that I had to run up this fall and creek to get back up the mountain. The trail was becoming a slippery, sloppy mess and it became very treacherous with the sudden steep drop-offs. I was determined to make it through this third loop, because I knew it was the fourth loop that was the most difficult. So I plugged on, slipping and falling numerous times. I didn’t even bother anymore to wipe my hands off on my shorts, since they were so muddy anyways.

At this point seeing other runners was a bit of a hoot, since everyone looked like a thoroughly drenched dog which had been dragged through the mud. The trail itself had deteriorated so much from the first loop that each section had to be approached with more caution. Although wet and muddy, I pushed on and returned back to the Nature Center by just after 11 pm. It had taken me 7:28 to complete the third loop and I was in 10th place. The whole field had been slowing down. The heavy rain and deteriorating trail were taking their toll on everyone.

Having completed the third loop, the plan was to change my shoes and socks, reapply Desitin to my feet, and eat some soup and drink a Frappacino. With diligent speed, Sarah had all the gear in place, and we swapped out and changed “my tires” like a true pit team. I was off on my fourth lap before 11:30 pm.

I felt quite well on the first leg and passed Charlotte and Mark Swanson, both of whom had gotten out of the aid station faster than I did, but were moving slower. Eventually I would also pass Jamie Donaldson, who was running as first woman for much of the race. Knowing that Suzanna Bon had been running second, since I saw her happy smile each time she was hiking up a climb as I was trotting down, I knew she now had the lead. Picking my way through the thrashed trail, I came upon Suzanna and her pacer, Kelly Ridgway, coming back up the trail. She was looking strong and I congratulated her for having a widening lead.

On the way out of the bamboo forest on the second leg, I again missed the right turn at Pauoa Flats and went all the way to the top of the ridge, and had to retrace my steps. I was distracted near the turn by a woman runner who was bemoaning that she was running alone and had no one to talk to, felt stuck in the maze of roots, and was just tired of the whole adventure. I wanted to help her, as I knew how she felt, but she was going a different way. It’s just one of the odd things you see at 2 am in the forest. Anyways, the wind was really blowing in the early morning. The bamboo trees were clacking amazingly loudly so you could hear the forest well before you approached it. When I reached the grassy knife-edge ridge with the Bien bench, the wind was blowing so hard all my clothing was whipping around frantically. I was beginning to get cold. I kept eating and drinking on the descent, but by the time I got to the long flat section near the river, I knew I was getting early hypothermia and had to get warm at the aid station.

Beverly was there and gave me some hot soup and a few blankets. I laid down on a cot and even though I also drank hot cocoa and cup after cup of hot water, I couldn’t keep the chill off of me. I also borrowed an extra jacket, but I just couldn’t get my body to generate heat. After over an hour of trying whatever I could think of my legs were getting stiff, and I knew I couldn’t get back out onto the ridge without putting myself in trouble. The trail was just a chaotic mess. I was a bit frustrated and tired. I decided I couldn’t reasonably go on. The HURT trail won.

I had come into the aid station in eighth place, and my time for the 100k marking put me in second behind Rod Bien. DNFing wasn’t how I wanted this run to end, but it seemed like the best decision. Initially, I didn’t care to come back and attempt the 100 miler again. Though after sleeping on it, I decided I would.

Friday, January 25, 2008

HURT Results

The winners of the HURT 100 Mile Trail race were:

Men's winner: Paul Hopwood 27:17
Women's winner: Suzanna Bon 31:56

Even though the 100k distance isn't a formal race, these were the fastest times:

Men: Rod Bien 17:02
Women: Jamie Donaldson 20:30

90 runners (Mark Gilligan isn't in the results) toed the starting line.

21 finished the 100 Mile Race for a 23% finishing rate.

51 finished the 100k distance.

Conditions were particularly bad this year as there was a torrential rainstorm at around 11 pm. For perspective, the men's winner was 6 1/2 hours slower than in 2007, and the women's winner was 5 3/4 hours slower. It was extremely muddy and sloppy.

I finished the 100k in exactly 20:00, taking my mark at the 67.3 mile aid station. This was the second fastest 100k time. When I dropped at Nu'uanu, the 72.8 mile aid station, I had been in eighth place in the 100 Mile race.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

HURT Photos

Just a couple of HURT photos taken by Sarah in between all her other duties.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Ultrarunning For The WWP - Update

As I've mentioned earlier, Ben Cavazos participated in the HURT 100 Mile Trail Run by running at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, twenty laps of a five-mile loop. The Honolulu Advertiser had a nice article about Ben the day before the race.

After the race briefing for the runners, there was also a touching ceremony as Ben started his run in Kuwait on Jan. 19th at 6 am. Like the HURT 100, it was preceded by Hawaiian blessings and had traditional Hawaiian food at the aid stations. There were a lot of soldiers and staff out there supporting him.

The next day, when the official HURT 100 started we were told that Ben had completed 60 miles. I thought about him out on the trail, as we were both raising money for the Wounded Warrior Project. Ben raised over $6,000, and my wife and I raised about $1,000.

When I came into the Nu'uanu aid station at mile 17, I saw Ben's wife, Beverly, and asked her how Ben was doing. She told me he had finished his 100 miles. I looked at my watch, and she continued, "in 18:54" (I think that's right). Hearing that, and seeing the pride on Beverly's face, lifted my spirits.

Great Job, Ben! We were all cheering for you out in the jungle. Next year we'll hopefully be able to run on the same trails and share some stories.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Theodore Roosevelt - The Man in the Arena

From "The Man In The Arena" Speech at the Sorbonne Paris, France April 23, 1910

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

Seemed appropriate after giving my all out on the trail and came up short. Still, it always feels right to step into the arena. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, January 21, 2008

HURT Too Bad

The HURT 100 served up the knarliest trail I've ever run/hiked. Although through a beautiful tropical jungle, bamboo forests and windswept ridges, it was just too much for me. I stopped after 73+ miles at 5:00 am at the Nu'uanu Aid Station. DNF - Did Nothing Fatal. This is not a course to take excessive risks on. I was in eighth place at the time having had almost no problems the entire race. My stomach just wouldn't calm down and process food, and I had the early stages of hypothermia. I rested for over an hour, with three blankets and a loaned jacket, ate hot soup, and drank hot cocoa and hot water, but just couldn't get my body temperature up to set back out into the jungle. The wind up on the ridge was furious, and I knew it wouldn't be smart to get stuck out there on the trail. When I reluctantly told the aid station captain I would have to drop, they graciously told me I would get credit for 100k (62.2 miles).

It was brutal, but Sarah and I had a great adventure. The course is unimaginatively beautiful but all the same absolutely unrelenting. At the end I didn't think I would ever go back and submit my mind and body to this kind of pleasure and punishment. Having slept a night, I know I'll be back. With a better understanding of the challenge, I'll be better prepared and ready to finish the 100 mile race. I'll write up a full race report later in the week, when I'm better rested and have sorted my thoughts.

A big thank you to Pete Hazarian and my wife, Sarah, who posted here during the race. It warms my heart to see the pictures taken, their posts, and the comments from friends and family. Even my feet feel better.

For another view of the race, its difficulty, and his unexpected dissolution, check out Rob Bien's DNF post on his blog. He was running second most of the race and, like me, the roots, rain and mud just got the better of him.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

And The (Female) Winner Is

(Hawaii) -- Sarah

Congratulations to Suzanna Bon for a stellar performance. A fine run for a fine lady. Suzanna was pure melody out on the trails with a smile and joyful spirit the whole way. You were amazing.

Kelly, awesome job bringing her in safely -- you deserve the rest of your vacation here on the island! :O)

Cheers to you both,


I'll Get You My Pretty.....

(Hawaii) -- Sarah -- 7:00 a.m.

Wind and Pain and Chill, Oh My!

Back at the hotel after a hard decision to stop at Jackass Ginger and complete the 100K. Pete's last post explains it all. Thanks to everyone for your support. Really meant a lot to Sam and ME! ;O)

We're off to sleep for a few hours and perhaps come back to see Suzanna win the women's race. I don't think much can stop her. Jeffery saw her a little while ago, and she was in first and doing well. Hope it holds!

Cheers to a nice warm bed!

Flying Monkeys From Oz

(Mainland, USA) - Pete

08:25 PST - Sarah is now with Jeffery at Jackass Ginger (2nd aid station). I talked to him and he is in good spirits, but then again, when is he not. On the climb to Jackass he tossed his cookies and could not keep anything down. He said around that time it was raining and was on a ridge with very strong winds which cooled his core and was shivering when he entered the aid station. He lied down for awhile to try to get warm and get his stomach to settle but after a couple of hours decided it not best to head back out in his condition. He knew what to expect on the next leg and did not want to risk it.

He said it best - "Pete, it is a brutal course. It is like the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz were after me. It is a fantasy land....made by devil."

Congrats on your 100k Jeffery and a very fine effort indeed.

It's all good...

(Hawaii) -- Sarah -- 12:17 AM

Before falling completely asleep -- here is the first update of the new day! Suzanna was looking good as she left the aid station sometime before 11:00. As Pete updated earlier, she was indeed having "bladder" issues, but nothing that Team Suzanne couldn't overcome to get her back out on the course in record speed. Kelly and Suzanna were all smiles as they left to close the gap between themselves and the lead woman.

Jeffery came into the Nature Center about 45 minutes after Suzanna looking better than ever. Another "ten out of ten" moment. He washed up, changed shoes and was out on the course faster than I could keep up with him. No dilly dallying in the aid station today!

I'll be back again with another update sometime after 5 AM. Hope everyone is sleeping well.

Three Down, Two To Go

(Mainland, USA) - Pete

0141 PST - Our friends, Jefferey and Suzanna have each completed 3 loops and are doing very well. Suzanna has picked up some time on the first woman and headed out with friend and pacer, Kelly in 7th place overall.

Wrong Way Wrogers has managed to stay on course and is now in the top ten through 60 miles and looking great. Sarah says this is the best she has seen Jefferey at this point in the race.

Way to go Jefferey and Suzanna!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Bladder Issues? Is it Serious?

(Mainland, USA) - Pete

23:22 PCT - Rod Bien rolls through lap #3 (60 miles) around 8:45 PM (Hawaii time), looking a little tired but in good spirits. Brother Adam was there to take care of him and then was off with his pacer into the darkness.

Sarah tells me that she hears Suzanna has been having bladder issues. Is it serious? No, she says. She has switched to bottles and everything is fine. Don't ya just hate it when your bladder leaks?

Should get another update from Sarah when Suzanna and Jeffery complete their third lap.

Night Decides to Come...

(Hawaii) -- Sarah -- 7:20 p.m. (update on runners as of 5:00)

End of loop #2 found most runners feeling good, but definitely more muddied. The trail is “wicked” as someone so eloquently put it. And yet another comment: “The roots on the trail are like cobras reaching up to pull you down.” More than one runner had arrived bathed in mud – obviously pulled down by the “cobras” on the ground.

Suzanna came in particularly strong – stating that she was feeling GREAT, eating and drinking, and finally running on “HURT” legs. Just 10 minutes or so behind the lead gal, and leading Kathy D'Onofrio by at least 10 minutes.

Jeffery, although he took a wrong turn (Rob, what have you been teaching him?), came in strong and happy; ready for lap #3 and what promises to be a long night.

Heading out again in an hour or two and will re-post as soon as I learn more. Thanks again everyone for the well wishes. I’m passing them on! Enjoy the photos.

Rod Bien Update – Special Report for Katie Bien

As of the second loop, Rod was in second place behind Paul Hopwood (by just a few minutes). The two ended up passing one another as one left the aid station and the other entered. Rod didn’t spend much time in the aid station, and was back out on the trail pretty fast after “refueling”. I think Rod got some extra encouragement as he came into the aid station and met his crew and a longtime friend (although I’ve forgotten his name, the guy came with his dog named “Squash”). Rod seemed to be in really good spirits and ran out of the aid station strong. I’ll pass your message along if I see him again.


(Mainland, USA) - Pete

18:09 PST - Suzanna finished loop #2 and is now headed back out for another one. She is feeling good - eating, drinking, and has in her words, "HURT legs" - in a good way. Suz informed Sarah that our wayward friend, Jefferey has lost his way once more (WTC revisited?) adding a couple of bonus miles and about 30 minutes. We should see him in 25 minutes or so.

18:14 PST - Kathy D'Onofrio (#22), third woman, has just finished loop 2.

HURT 100 - Waiting is the hardest part

(Mainland, USA) - Pete

17:56 PST - First woman, Jamie Donaldson (#21) just came through about 10 minutes ago. Suzanna should not be too far behind....

16:54 PST - Update from Sarah...Paul Hopwood (#40) came in on the 2nd loop at 2:26 PM (Hawaii time) and left for loop number 3 when Rod Bien (#6) came in around 2:40 PM. She has no word on Jeffery and Suzanna but will call me as soon as they come in. Jeffery suggested that he would not mind a pacer for loops 4 and 5 so Sarah is scouring the island for suitable partner, but no luck so far.

Ten Out of Ten

(Hawaii) -- Sarah -- 11:00 AM

Just five hours into the race and already a dozen or so runners have come through the Nature Center aid station; completing their first of five loops. Arriving earlier than expected, Suzanna and Jeffery have already come and gone – both looking AWESOME, and as Jeffery puts it, feeling “ten out of ten”.

Seeing them look so good was heartening to say the least. Mark came in about 10 minutes before Jeffery and Suzanna and has made the right decision to stop here. He intends his next aid station to be Waikiki Beach and his next drink to be a Mai Thai with an umbrella in it.

Jeffery and Suzanna were in and out of the aid station in about 3 minutes – leaving together and looking GOOD! The weather continues to be great about 78 and breezy with a just a light sprinkle every now and then, and in the end, is a welcome mist to the runners.

Enjoy a few photos of the front runners and we’ll be back soon with more updates!

HURT 100 - First Aid

(Mainland, USA) - Pete

They have just posted the runners coming through the first aid station (7.3 miles) and our three amigos are running strong with Mark in 2nd, Suzanna in 8th (1st woman), and Jeffery in 16th.....

And the fun is just beginning....

And They're Off...

(Hawaii) -- Sarah -- 7:00 AM

Runners came to the start line in good humor and short sleeves. That’s right, when you show up to the start at 5:00 a.m. in Hawaii it’s a “low” of 74(!); no bundling up necessary.

Spirits were high as the conch shell rang out and the tiki torches glowed at the start of what appeared to be a “dry” course. Although there was a slight drizzle this morning, and a short shower last night, rain has been minimal the past few days. Word around town was that the trails were going to be good to the runners this year.

At the start, Suzanna was all smiles as usual; Mark provided advice to those that hadn’t run the course before; Scott looked relaxed and was looking forward to running a race that he had crewed last year; and Jeffery was happy to find himself in good health on race day.

Enjoy the pre-race photos. They’re out there now and are thankful for all of you who are sending good thoughts and prayers their way. They’ll need every bit of it as the day wears on. Thanks to everyone for your support!

More updates to come as the day wears on…


(Mainland, USA) - Pete

07:30 PST - Just got a call from Team J&S from the starting line...all systems are go, including Jeffery's intestinal issues with the flu earlier this is cooperating and trails are in good shape -for a tropical rain forest...talked to briefly to Suzanna Bon...remembered her orthotics this time...

Friday, January 18, 2008

HURT 100 Strategy

Keeping the strategy simple works best for me at 100 mile races. The HURT 100 Mile Trail Run will be no different especially since it has so many variables I will not be able to control.

  1. Go out slow to finish fast. The race is likely to take me 32 or more hours. During the first two laps I will focus on eating well, drinking lots, and keeping my body systems feeling well-engaged and my powder dry. Then keep moving well on the third and fourth laps as nighttime darkness slows me down further. Finally, slug out the final twenty miles by keeping energy levels up.

  2. Run like a girl. Two examples about running well come to mind: Krissy Moehl's wonderfully even-paced 2007 HURT run, and Suzanna Bon's 2007 Angeles Crest negative splits. I don't run as well as either of these women, but their experiences and lessons are good examples of quiet restraint.

  3. Keep my feet under my head.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

HURT, Hope and The Human Spirit

When reviewing the previous runners' performances at the HURT 100 Mile Trail Race, I came across the inspiring story of Paul Sibley, who completed the race in 2007.

One year earlier, Paul had been diagnosed with cancer, the day after having lost his father to cancer. He battled surgery, radiation, and numerous other ordeals, supported by his wife, infant son, family and friends. While still recovering from all this, he toed the start line at the 2007 HURT 100. Pretty gutsy.

Read his race report to get a sense of his story battling cancer and the HURT 100. It will make you reconsider complaining about your latte being too hot or cold, or your car battery being dead, or just about anything.

And check out his video of his run in 2007.

If I have learned anything in my time running long distances it is not to bet against the human spirit. Stand at the finish line of any 50 or 100 mile race, especially as the final cutoff approaches. You will see many stories unfolding happily to their conclusion and just as many indomitable human spirits.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


With the terrain of mud, water, roots, rocks, climbs, drop-offs, and then more mud, water, .... keeping your feet in good shape is key to finishing and doing well at the HURT 100 Mile Trail Race.

Over the years, I've picked up tips from various runners. For a wet race, I stick with what Rob Edde told me about what Blake Wood recommended for Hardrock - Baby Diaper Rash Ointment (zinc oxide). Since I've used it three years ago, I haven't had so much as a blister due to maceration or water. Coupled with Injinji socks to keep my toes from fighting, and a thin cover sock, I'm confident my feet will do well at HURT.

Of course your feet may vary.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

HURT 100 Training

The HURT 100 is the first time I will have run a 100 mile race outside of the summer/fall season. Normally, I take the month of December off, rest, eat, drink and gain weight - perfect preparation for snowboarding, when I can benefit from the added insulation.

This year was different. With my base miles from training and running Western States and Wasatch Front, I worked at recovering in the months of October and November. Still, I was able to run the Dick Collins' Firetrails Fifty at a leisurely pace and the Quad Dipsea in a PR of 5:42 (without a nap). The Dipsea was also a great course to train on given the redwood roots, stairs and constant climbing/descent. It's trail running at its best.

December brought a decision not to run a 50 miler as I normally would prior to a 100 mile. Instead I ran two Pacific Coast Trail Runs events in the Marin Headlands, the Muir Beach 50k and the Rodeo Beach 30k. With lots of climbing and gorgeous views, I could feel my legs absorbing the punishment, as well as the lack of seasonal rest. When the rains came in late December, I took to my backyard trails in Redwood Regional Park, where I could run up and down from the ridges to the streams on muddy, rooty trails. For miles and miles I would just loop through the drenched forest, imagining myself in Hawaii, slightly overdressed for a little heat training. It's a great way to spend Saturday mornings. Finally, during these last few weeks, I have been sitting in the sauna twice a week for more heat training.

I probably could have run more during my taper, but I was tired. With the seasonal light diminished and the California foggy-cold setting in, I kept telling myself it was better to be rested than getting in more miles. It's also my reward for training during December when most of my friends are nursing injuries or weight gain. ;)

Monday, January 14, 2008

Ultrarunning For The WWP

I usually run my 100 mile footraces with the goal of simply finishing and having fun. This coming weekend, I am running the HURT 100 Mile race in Honolulu, Hawaii, to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.

The HURT 100 is one of the hardest 100 mile footraces in the world. In its history only 27 percent of entrants even finish. Given the run’s reputation, I want to use my attempt to honor our men and women in the armed forces, especially those who are wounded and use sports to aid in their recovery, through soliciting donations to the Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project.

I ask that you visit the website for Wounded Warrior Project (click on the preceding name) to understand more about the benefits they provide to our servicemen and women, and their families. I am asking our friends and family to make a generous donation, via the website, to support these American families that every day defend our freedom and our American principles.

I believe you understand the importance of supporting our armed forces not just when they are on the front line of battle, but also when they are wounded and need our continued support in their recovery. Your donation will mean a lot to someone trying to put their own, and their family’s, life back together.

Two runners for the HURT 100 will be running in Kuwait. Ben Cavazos, 8th HRSC, has run HURT all six times, and will be joined in the desert sands by Paul Allen. Below is an email I received from Ben, who can be reached at ruben.l.cavazos (at) :

I have a group of Soldiers in my unit taking this project to another level and we hope we raise quite a bit in donations for the WWP. Anything your friends can donate is greatly appreciated, because I know that we're going to make a difference in some Soldier's life as they fight their way to recovery. My logistics chief will get in touch with you and do what we have to because we believe in what we're doing.

Thank you so much for supporting our Armed Forces in these trying times.

"Pain Is Temporary....Glory Is Forever"


If you've found sports, especially running, a transformative influence in your life, imagine what it can do for an injured service person and their family. When ultrarunners feel the chips are down, they know how to push on. So do our Soldiers. Help them out.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The HURT Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run

On Saturday morning, January 19th, in Honolulu, Hawaii, 100 runners will set out into the mountainous jungle for one of the world's most difficult foot races - The HURT 100. Comprising 5 20-mile loops on what were originally wild pig trails through the forest, the 100 mile race has an elevation gain of almost 25,000 feet, with a similar amount of descent. Since it's run in January, there is more darkness in a jungle day than light. To give you a feel for just how difficult this race is, in the six years the race has been run, only 27 percent of starters have finished the 100 miles. Only two have finished under 24 hours. To throw a handful of salt on probable mental anguish, it is run in what can only be described as an island paradise.
This year I am one of the runners. It's difficult to prepare to run in a tropical forest when you don't have a tropical forest to run in. With roots and rocks and slippery mud, steep climbs as well as precipitous drop-offs, the course is as much a mental challenge as a physical one. When exhausted the long January night takes its toll. Many runners get to the end of the third lap, call it quits, and take the option of a short two-mile loop to get credit for the 100k. But I won't.

Over the upcoming week before the race, I'll discuss here my training and strategy for the run. I'll also outline how I'll take care of my feet, a key component to finishing what is essentially a wet, muddy, ankle-twisting feat of endurance. With the help of crew and friends we'll also experiment in live-blogging the race. We'll have one correspondent, Sarah, at the race, and another, Pete, checking in through the HURT 100 live race feed.

Running 100 miles is difficult in the best of conditions. The HURT 100 is a special blend of a beautiful course, nearly impossible running, and the best hospitality (Aloha) imaginable. Together they assure a memorable adventure.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What We Wear To The Office

Jim Thorpe cufflinks, of course, provided by none other than my wife and consumate crew chief, Sarah, for the holidays.

A childhood hero of mine, Jim Thorpe has been called "the greatest athlete in the world." As a native American he faced considerable hardship and discrimination. Today he is remembered as America's greatest athlete, a tribute to his innate abilities, gracious sportsmanship, and quiet persistence.

When I was growing up, I knew him as Jim Thorpe, All-American. And that's how I always think of him.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Ultrarunning Views at the Bighorn 100

Never underestimate the psychological uplift of running downhill for two miles knee deep in sunflowers and lavender.

A lot of races are filling up fast this year. If you're still looking for a beautiful run in the mountains, check out the Bighorn 100 Mile, 50 Mile, 50k, and 30k. It looks like there's still room. But don't delay too long. All these races always fill up.

I first saw this set of races browsing through Don Charles Lundell's photography. When I came across the Bighorn 100 Mile in 2004, I knew I had to go. The Bighorn Mountains are one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my travels. And the friendliest cowboys and cowgirls around volunteer in aid stations so remote that everything is hauled in on horses. And DNFs are hauled out the same way.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Sail Away - Mark Twain

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

Happy Birthday, Eli ! !

Many years ago I started running to keep up with Elijah, my Vizsla puppy, on his trail adventures. Today he turns 9 years old.

He keeps his runs shorter these days, somewhere between 3 and 7 miles depending on the heat. Yet he's run in the Sierra, Death Valley, the Mendocino Headlands, and the feared "Trail from Hell" at the Cascade Crest 100 Mile, in the middle of the night with his pacing buddy, Eorl. In his hey-day Eli could run up to 25 miles at a stretch, carrying his own food, and stopping for water at all the streams.

Thanks buddy. You've earned your gray hair.