Thursday, July 2, 2009

The weekend ahead

The holiday weekend is just about upon us and what a weekend it should be. I got back from an incredible weekend up in Tahoe/Auburn and now it is time to focus on Angeles Crest. This weekend, if all goes well, will be spent running the AC course. Friday Sean and I will run from the start in Wrightwood and continue up and over Baden-Powell (9,400 ft) and then to the Cloudburst aid station; which should be about 37.5 miles.

Saturday will be another night run from Chantry Flats to the finish. There are two climbs over the course of the final 25 miles and that is out of Chantry Flats and then the climb to Sam Merrill. I did this last week and had a lot of stomach issues and fog to deal with so hopefully this one will go a little better.

Sunday will be 15-20 miles with Sean and I will leave that one up to him on where we run or at that point where I walk/hobble.

Some people enjoy the 4th with BBQ but I guess for myself it is going to be the trails where I will be celebrating the 4th. I need to start and really focus on this race so that I can successfully complete the race.

I am also going to start to work with Meredith (ultra runner/nutritionist) to get my diet in order for my upcoming summer of running. I tend to eat way too healthy and I am probably missing out on a lot of nutrients... that I need to keep up with my running. I know that the diet will be a complete makeover but that is what I need if I want to compete at the next level. I am really interested to see what she has in store for me and can't wait to see the dividends that the change in my diet and focus on AC will bring about. I guess only time will tell.

Enjoy the 4th.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Espresso Gels, Jimboy Tacos, 100 miles - Finally WS is here

Man I have never been so excited for a race and I am not even in it! This weekend all the hype will unfold starting Saturday at 5 am at the base of Squaw Valley and some 15 hours later a champ will emerge. The carnage and glory that will unfold over those 100 miles should be spectacular to witness and with temps hovering around 100 degrees the runners better be prepared to deal with some serious heat. 

I am going up to crew/pace Kyle (Bib #252) and to meet up with some new running friends as we share stories and watch the runners come through. Even though WS is not my favorite course I really enjoy the 3 day camp and pacing the last 38 miles of the race. Kyle is gunning for 18 hours and I am going to do my best not to let him down. He pushed me the last 30 of San Diego and will probably be by my side at AC pushing me up Chantry and Sam Merrill so I better be able to pay him back 10 fold at WS. He does not know it but I am bringing a stash of espresso gels to put in his water bottle to repay him for SD.

Will provide all the fun and exciting details on Monday when I return from Auburn and will probably get to witness a new course record as the talent is just too deep and everyone seems to be getting faster by the day. Who will win old school 100 mile veterans or the new school 50k/50m track guys; for what it is worth my money is Jurek as he is too smart, knows the course and can handle the heat.

Follow the action live at

Enjoy the weekend as I certainly will.

Just want to give one more shout out to some of my friends running this weekend:

Kyle Hoang #252
Jimmy Dean Freeman #216
Michelle Barton #103
Ben Berkowitz #43
Kevin Sullivan #401

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Need to get a camera

Not like that would have helped capture all the moments from last nights run from Chantry Flats to the finish on the AC course but at some point would have gotten a few good pics. The plan was to run the 26 miles last night and then get up this morning and run it again but unfortunately last nights run did not go as planned.

I am getting a little better at running at night but once again had to contend with heavy fog and light mist and couple that with the fact I did not know where I was going was a recipe for disaster. Still the run itself was rather enjoyable as I got to catch up with Jamil Coury and his brothers who were just out there for the fun of it as Jamil gets ready for Hardrock next month and his two brothers will be along for the crew/pacing duties. The downfall to the run was that I missed a few turns and over the 26 miles I probably went to the bathroom more times than miles ran and I only drank a bottle and a half of fluids. Not sure what that means but it did worry me enough not to go out and run again this morning. Oh well tomorrow morning before work I will put in another 7 or so trail miles and get ready for WS. Even though I am not running the race I need to be in solid condition to get Kyle the finishing time that he wants.

The upside was that I think I found my liquid calories. I was out testing the new version of Succeed's Amino drink and had great results. The lemon lime flavor was spot on and felt like I had energy for the entire training session. The flavor of their original Amino drink did not work well for me so this could be a good sign. Will test it out again when I am pacing at WS and hopefully this will be the missing link.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The weekend ahead

Before I start I want to send out my thoughts to Ben Hian and wish him a speedy recovery. Even though I did not have a chance to meet him at the SD race I have only heard wonderful things about Ben and hope one day I get a chance to meet him and when he is healthy again run with him. He was a great trail runner and champion back in the day before I even thought about running. He put in a gutsy performance at SD given the fact that he took 11 years off of running and that was his first 100 miler since the layoff. The whole thing did teach me a lesson in that this is only running and even though we pushed our bodies to the extreme and some point we must listen to them. Best of luck Ben and hope to see you soon.

Speaking of listening to the body if all goes according to plan this weekend it will be 7 straight days of running for me; which if you know me is something that I do not do very often nor enjoy. I really like to break it up with swimming, spinning, weights and core but if I am going to see myself running with the likes of Ben, Jorge, Scott, Hal... I need to find the hills and keep running them - we will see how that goes.

This morning I was to get up and go for a swim and hit the weights but I decided to listen to my body and give it the rest that it deserves. This evening is the run from Chantry Flats to the Finish for a total of 26 miles and then I will drive home get a few hours of sleep and drive back to run Chantry to the Finish with another group of runners. 2 loops and 52 miles out of Chantry so I need to be well rested. For both runs I will be testing a new version of Succeed's Amino drink so hopefully that goes well or else the runs could be in trouble. For you ultra runners no pun intended.

Finally - huge congratulations to the US Men and Women for their performance at the 100km race in Belgium. The women dominated and Kami took first and Devon took fourth and the US women overall won the gold. Kind of hard to top that. Here is a link for a little recap of the results from ultrarunning

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The accidental runner

Life is very interesting when you take a moment and look back on where you were and where you are potentially headed. Just a few years back I was living in San Francisco before making the move to Los Angeles. The first time that I came to LA I thought that I could never live in the city and there are still days when I think the same thing. After a short stint in LA my gfriend of a few years decided to move to SF and take a job in her dream city. To be honest I was crushed and thought that the world had come to an end. 

Before that the mere thought of running was not something that I enjoyed. Growing up I played all kinds of sports but once in SF I became a foodie and rather lazy. My Saturdays were comprised of a few donuts, some coffee with cream and college football. 

To get over the fact that she left LA for a job in SF and another guy I took to running or a half ass attempt at running. I did a few marathons with very little training and got tired of that scene. For a new challenge I took up triathlons and that offered a real challenge because I can't swim worth jack and the bike, well lets just say that does not have many miles on it.

I think got tired of the triathlon scene and fast forward to ultras. I went to watch my first ultra event (Leona Divide 50 miler) and I was hooked. You just cannot beat the people and the scenery. It is more important to just get out there and do your best then always worrying about your finishing time. 

In the two years that I have been running ultras I have completed a few 50ks, 50milers, 100milers and one 24 hour event. I look back after my first RnR Phoenix marathon and thought 26.2 miles was enough and now I think that 100 mile race is not far enough. There is something very relaxing about being out on the trails for that distance. One that is very hard to explain to others but for 100 miles I can turn my brain off and be myself. 

Now that the results for my races are getting better I am trying to become more serious about my training but we will see how that goes. Last month I did 300 miles which is a lot for me but I felt great so that is a good sign to come. I try to get my monthly mileage between 175-225 with spinning, swimming and core workouts spread throughout the month as well. 

Oh well that is enough of a background on me for now - more to come later

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Recovery? What is that?

Finally after almost a week off of running I was able to get back into the swing of things this past weekend. Then again, the month of May and the early part of June was the most that I had run in my entire lift. That stretch included the Keys 100 Mile race, Western States Training Camp (72 miles) and the San Diego 100 Mile race. I guess my body needed a break; so I opted for more spin classes and swimming.

This past Saturday was the Goats Graduation run; which is a 16 mile run through Sycamore Canyon followed by a potluck and a small little award ceremony on the beach. The Goats just happens to be a running club with runners and hikers of all different levels and interest and they run mostly through the Santa Monica Mountains. I was not able to make as many Saturday morning runs as I did last year due to my heavy race schedule and tax season but it was nice to be there on the final day. It is really hard to ask for a better group of people to spend a Saturday morning with. Afterwards I hit the gym for a little swim and a core workout. Nice way to get back into things.

Sunday was a relaxing day with a little over 6.5 miles through downtown LA (my neighborhood) followed by some light swimming, a spin class with weights, and a 15 minute session in the sauna in sweatshirt and sweat pants (heat training). All in all it was my own little sprint triathlon.

The legs are starting to feel fresh again and that is good becasue I have some big races/training runs to get ready for. The races I will only be pacing/crewing for but they are important as you never want to let a fellow runner down. This weekend is the night training run for AC 100 - Chantry Flats to the finish; which is approx 26 miles, the following weekend I will be up at WS 100 pacing Kyle and watching all the excitement unfold amongst the elites and then in the middle of July I am in Death Valley for the Badwater Ultramarathon. I did not get in this year (too new to the ultra scene) but could not be happier to be out there doing whatever I can to help Tony Portera to Whitney Portal. I ran the Keys 100 in preparation for this race so lets see how that plays out.

So much to come in the next few weeks so stay posted as I should have some really good photos and stories to share. Now I just need to find someone to share them with.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Keys 100 Race Recap

Once again I just have to say thank you to everyone because each one of you was crucial in one aspect or another to this finish; especially the one person crew that I had for the first 76 miles and due to scheduling conflicts must remain nameless and out of all photos!

Here we go at my second attempt at a race report so if you get bored just delete and when I get more photos to send you can just look at those.

A few days before the race begins I am scrambling to find another person to round out my crew of 1 and get a call from the RD Bob Becker who hooks me up with Bob Gentile. We exchange a couple of emails and a phone call and we have a game plan set for the day. The day before I leave for the race I get a call from the RD and he wants to switch my crew around and offers me a mother and daughter team and since being an RD is an extremely difficult task I agree. From the get go I did not get the same reassurance from them that I got from Bob but it was out of my hands.

We arrived in Key Largo 2 days before the race to get all settled in and stock up on supplies. On Friday I go to the pre race meeting and meet up with Bob Gentile and Tony Portera (who I am crewing at Badwater) and afterwards head out for your typically pre 100 race meal – plain grilled chicken breast and some steam broccoli. While at dinner I get a call from the mother and daughter and all of a sudden they have car troubles and will not be able to make it down to the race. It is now 9 pm and the race starts at 6 am. I was not concerned with the running just someone to keep my one person crew occupied for the next 100 miles.

Enough of the prologue and to the event itself. We all meet at the Publix parking lot to meet up, get in some last minute strategy and fuel and then we take a short walk down US Highway 1 to the start at mile marker 101. The race starts off slow as there really is no need to hurry things up as you have a 100 miles to go except for these two guys who take off like it is a 5k championship. I thought to myself that these guys will either burn themselves out or they are US National Team 100k road runners and in which case I would not be able to hang with them. I settled in early to a pace and was soon between an 8 and 8:20 pace and slowly moving up the ranks. The first 18 miles are brutal as the scenery is just plain boring and not at all what I thought the Keys would look like. After 18 miles or so and you hit the first of about 40 bridges that all changes and everything that you imagine the Keys to be it was. The change of scenery helped me picked up my pace and the miles started to go by and by mile 24 I had passed both 5k track superstars and checked into the first checkpoint at 28 miles into the race in a little under 4 hours. At this point my one person crew is working their tail off and we are well in sync – ice bandanas and ice water ready at each stop. As the bandana would be changed out I would grab some food and off I would go. 72 miles left and I was in the lead; that was extremely tough on me mentally as I did not know how to hold a lead for that long and I had no way to find out where the other runners where on the course.

The race from mile 28 to mile 51 was uneventful as I kept my focus on knocking out the miles and a few times I caught myself talking with the relay teams and I can remember crossing a fishing bridge and seeing a relay guy in front on me and I was trying to catch him. Here I am at mile 40 running across a bridge at a sub 7 min mile trying to catch a relay guy. There were a few times when I got caught up in that but quickly would settle back down into my pace.

After the check in at mile 50 is where the real fun begins. You have about 3 miles to go before you hit 7 mile bridge and as the name implies it is just that 7 miles long and since it is US Highway 1 there is not place for your crew to stop. There is a place to stop about a mile before the bridge but basically it is 8 miles unsupported with a few small climbs while on the bridge. It hit the bridge around 2 pm and by that time the ice bandana and ice water that I just filled up were already melted and the sun was getting hotter and hotter. I had to take my time across the bridge and conserve my fluids to last me for the entire 7 miles; so I did a combination of running and walking and an hour and 20 minutes later I had survived. Lesson learned next time take 2 handhelds and a camelback to get across that bridge. That was the only point in the race when the sun actually became an issue

Nothing really exciting to report from mile 60 to 76 as my focus on steady and pace was solid. Still 76 miles in my one person crew was on top of their game and I was more impressed with the crewing than my running. That person has been with me before but not as my only support out there so that was a new experience as well and it was handled very well.

At mile 76 my mood got even better as Bob Gentile appeared out of nowhere with gels and two other crewmembers Natalia and Jenny. The crew for closing out the race would be a 4 person crew and they kept me in line for those last 24 miles.

This is where I picked up my pacer superwoman Jenny; Bob said she can run a 9 to 10 min mile easily (3:30 marathoner) and thought it would be a great fit, she was game so off we went. We started out making a lot of small talk at keeping a pretty good pace with a few walk breaks scattered in between.

We would make stops every 2 to 3 miles depending on crew access and would take whatever fuel and caps Bob thought would be best and man gels never tasted so good. I kept asking the team to let me know where the next runner was so I could make any adjustments necessary and that is when it happened – they lied!!

My lead was down to 45 minutes they informed me and superwoman and I did not even look at each other and instead left the aid station in a shot. We were running 7:30 to 8 minute pace for a while until I thought I was going to throw up as I could not hold that pace much longer. Miles 87 to 99 seemed to take forever and really do not recall much of it other than a lot of road construction and one final gel – chocolate and was that nasty but it gave me the final boost that I needed. I really wanted to walk across that finish line with the entire team that got me from Key Largo to Key West because without them I would still be in Key Largo pushing my food and water to Key West. With about a tenth of a mile left though I heard from my team to sprint it in and somehow that is just what I did. Someone mentioned that my last mile was done at a 5:30 pace!

I had a great time out there and met so many wonderful people from the east coast and to all of you thank you but once again especially to my one person crew for the first 76 miles I do not know how you did it.