Wednesday, May 25, 2011

indulging midlife at the vineman

Over some wings and beer last night, Sandra, a 20-something triathlete in my Tri Training class asked why is it that, generally, athletes in their mid-30s and over seem to be more competitive than their younger counterparts.

My gut and verbal response was "mid-life crisis." This brought about laughter with nodding heads in agreement from my fellow over 40-something friends. I said it jokingly, but it really is not that far from the truth. As I feel aches and pains that never existed before in my 20s, I'm shooting and gunning for physical accomplishments now before I lose interest in endurance sports or my body is not willing to reach some of those goals.

So, when asked why go for the full Vineman now when I haven't even done a half iron distance yet -- well, I guess that is my version of the hot sports car and 18 y.o. girlfriend.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

a very late update: a beast of a monsoon hits the 09 chimera 100

Dec. 12, 2009

The problem with recapping events a year after it's happened is that sometimes you forget details, or in this case forget about the event itself. My apologies to RD Steve Harvey, but here's what happened from our point of view at the Trabuco Gate aid station of the inaugural Chimera 100 Race.

The Chimera 100 logo featured a fearsome beast which undoubtedly made its presence known through the elements that the race had to deal with. So I was wondering what the aid station situation was gonna be like. Were we going to assemble the EZ ups in the rain and get soaked in the process? Much to my delight, when Skip and I arrived at the Trabuco gate, we saw a fully enclosed tent cabin waiting for us. There was even a little space heater in there. Inside were the volunteers already setting up -- Eric K. and his mom on the ham, Marla H., the twins, Corry and Kelly, and Deirdre E. prepping the aid station food. I gotta commend Deirdre; she took charge of getting the food and drinks ready, and before too long, the aid station was ready for our first runners to come by in no time at all. It was like she was running a mess hall – such efficiency.

The first runner to come by was… hmmm, it's been a year now, so not really sure. I think it might have been Hal Koerner, though I could very well be wrong. He may not even have been running that race. Anywhoo (as my midwestern sister-in-law would say), he just cruised on by and waved at us. The next runner wasn't going to be here for a while.

The rest of the morning was spent waiting and amusing ourselves so we would forget how wet and cold we were. But the rain and the wind were just too strong to ignore. Think downpours and gale force winds. It wasn't stopping and there were no signs that it was going to let up. There was so much precipitation that our tent was leaking everywhere. To protect our ham radio equipment from our indoor condensation, we rigged up an umbrella right over it.

We slowly had some runners trickling in, and most of them were wearing some of the biggest smiles. The endorphins must've been really kicking in because I wouldn't be that happy running in those conditions. Or maybe they've been miserable the last couple of hours that seeing our aid station probably lifted their spirits. Whatever the reason may have been, they were extremely grateful. I saw several friends, most of whom asked me why I wasn't running. The knee, I said. A few minutes later, they were off.

I was thinking about my friends, Molly and Michelle who were taking over the afternoon and night shift. If the conditions continue to deteriorate, I didn't think it would be safe for anyone to be out here at night.

We heard over the ham that one of the aid station tents was blown away. I thought, uh-oh, I have a feeling that the whole race itself will DNF. At about noon, we got the official word that the race had indeed been called off.

The Trabuco Peak aid station, before and after. ©Larry Goddard.

We packed up, closed up the aid station and headed back down the hill to the relative safety and comfort of race HQ at Blue Jay Campground.

Sorry for the late report, Chimera. How could I possibly have forgotten about you.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

recapping the last year – 1 of 2, otherwise known as the rest of 2009

OK, when I mentioned in my last post that I was going to retire from ultras, I was just being facetious. I didn't mean it. I meant to come back the following year and get back into it. But somehow it must've been a self-fulfilling prophecy. More than a year after that post, I have not run any ultras, but that's not to say I've exactly been laying around.

So to dust this blog off once again is a recap of last year's adventures and races which I'll break into two posts.

2009 San Juan Capistrano 10K Trail Run
October 3, 2009

Ah, yes! It feels great to hold the trophy for 2nd place overall.
Next time, I'm going for 1st place.

Since Mt. Dis, I've been on and off running so I haven't been in the best shape. When I saw this race, I thought that this would be a great way to get back into racing again. I've never run a 10K before – road or trail – so I was pretty excited about doing this run.

The race is sponsored by the City of San Juan Capistrano and the local Rotary Club. The R.D. for the event was the infamous Baz Hawley who's been around the local trail running community since around the time when Orange County actually had oranges. Because this was a family event in the 'burbs and the mayor of SJC was present, as well as a ranger whose name isn't Virgil, Baz struggled in choosing his words carefully rather than spontaneously spouting off his normally colorful language. And he behaved long enough to keep his hands to himself; the young ladies were safe for now. It was a hoot to see him there, especially under those conditions. A few familiar faces were also present – my favorite Czech runner, David C., Charlie, and rocket scientist Doug aka iDad also ran the race.

The hills proved to be challenging for me, but the nice wide fire roads were a lot of fun to run on. I finished the race in 1:04:07 (45th out of 90). It certainly wasn't the best time, but that didn't stop me from stealing David's 2nd place trophy when he wasn't looking and posing with it for a photo op. David, you gotta keep a closer eye on your hardware next time.
How I schemed to get my hands on that trophy.

Grand Canyon Rim to Rim
October 17-20, 2009

Somewhere along the Kaibab Trail.

Croc Lady Lo of the SoCal Trail Headz organized a trip for several runners to meet up at the Grand Canyon to do a Rim to Rim run. The idea is to start from the South Rim, descend more than 5,000 feet down to the Grand Canyon then come back up to the South Rim again. If you were hardy enough, or crazy enough, or both, you do the Double Crossing where you head up to the North Rim instead, before turning back around to descend back down to cross the Colorado River again before climbing out of that big hole up to the South Rim. I'd say it's about a gazillion feet of climbing and an equal number of miles. Ok, it's really about 45 miles and somewhere in the neighborhood of about 10,000 feet of elevation gain.

But because I'm a lazy bum, I opted for the short route. Doug and I started from Mather Campground which was a few miles from the top of the Kaibab Trail. Running down was a blast. We passed several hikers, but we also stopped a few times to enjoy the beauty of the canyon and take some pictures. To get from the rim down to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon took us about 2.5 hours. Doug and I each enjoyed a cold Tecate at the Ranch where we saw Sue, Greg, and Jon.

After a nice lunch and relaxing for like forever, we headed our way back up, this time taking the Bright Angel Trail. Sue, Greg and Jon sped up the trail, while Doug and I opted for a more relaxed pace. It took us about 5 hours to get back up to the South Rim. All in all, Doug's measurements came back with a 23 mile day and about 4600' of climbing. As a long distance runner, the Rim to Rim has to rank up there as one of those must do's – truly epic!

Click here for more Grand Canyon photos and Doug's recap of the day.

Superheroes Run
October 31, 2009

Jeff S., aka the amazing hip, put out a call for superheroes (the non-commercial kind) to come out and protect the dangerous streets of Corona del Mar and Newport Beach from would be evil doers. Three crime fighters reported for duty – the amazing hip, sooper aqua dump and e-rod (yours truly) on Halloween morning. They were joined by Shannon Shenanigans, who was with her hubby and their little daughter, Andrea, and Michelle Mayhem to document this most prodigious event.

We ran along PCH where we encountered an alien life form (ALF) much to the entertainment of drivers, cyclists and Starbucks customers. We continued our patrol of this crime-ridden neighborhood on Newport Center Drive up to Fashion Island, a place where humor and Halloween apparently don't exist. We were determined to change that, but alas! Even three superheroes don't stand a chance against the man – the FI mall cops. We were told there's no Halloween at the mall and that flying (er, running on walls) was not allowed – so off with the masks (which compromised our true identities) and harsh instructions to leave by walking like mere mortals.

Fortunately, our partners in this world saving enterprise, this time joined by Molly Mischief and daughter, Payton, were there to record the whole thing.

Enjoy the video and Jeff's recap of the event.

The recap for 2010 is coming soon...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

disappointed. for now.

My tweet on Saturday night post-Mt. Disappointment 50-Mile finish read:

After today's masochistic race, am seriously thinking of retiring from ultras and spending weekends golfing and surfing instead.

And I was pretty damn serious too, especially considering how my golf game sucks and I have yet to catch a real wave.

Somewhere along the course as I was battling light-headedness, nausea, a bad knee, and the heat, I thought to myself, "Where the ƒüç˚is the fun in this?" Really now! I had one of those soul-searching questions, and I could not give myself an honest answer.

Now I may sound like I'm whining and crying like a little sissy, which I probably am, but before time erases the painful reality of this experience and sugarcoat it with a "job well done" kind of memory, I feel the need to jot this down. This race was not fun at all. Sure there were some bright spots like the beautiful trails and the spectacular views, and running with friends and seeing some of them cheering at the aid stations. But when I am contemplating doing this race again in a year, I must remind myself that this was a specially brutal day for me.

It wasn't purty, and it might've been my toughest race to date.

My first mistake came at the first 20-miles of the race. I felt I was going too fast especially on the downhills. I had pounded my knee, and now it was letting me know it wasn't happy about it.

Refueling at the Red Box aid station at Mile 20. Photo courtesy of @andrea122887

I was also having tummy issues early on and was doing a poor job of nourishing myself with my gels, aid station food and my own drop bag nutrition supplements. By the time I rolled down to mile 26 at the West Fork aid station, I was feeling pretty low that I was contemplating taking the 50K option and shortening my day.

Lori smiled all the way for a great finish to place 2nd in her AG.
Photo courtesy of Ben G.

Then I heard a little voice behind me say "E-Rod!" I turned around and it was Lori. We joked around for a bit, I took a seat, got myself some refreshments and we soon headed out. Jakob H., who I met at last year's PCT50 came up and decided to join us. He, too, was hitting a pretty low point but decided to move on with the race instead of doing the 50K. The three of us stayed together until the Newcomb aid station. There we found Thomas K. who was having some race day issues of his own.

The climb up out of West Fork to the Newcomb station. Lori and I met up with Ryan S. who I met at the SD100 training run and Jakob who ran up ahead to take our picture. ©Jakob H.

Jakob is enjoying a seat at Newcomb before tackling the next 9 miles to Shortcut Saddle. He and I always looked forward to the seats at the aid stations. ©Jakob H.

What followed must've been the one-two punch that knocked the wind out of me–a knee-tearing downhill of about 4 miles followed by the long and hot climb up to the next aid station. Lori had long since disappeared, apparently finding her wings and flying to the finish so it was just me and my compadre-in-pain. When I mentioned to Jakob that I was feeling a bit light-headed, the EMT from the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue asked if she can do a BP reading. It was low, but not low enough to DQ me for medical reasons. Dang! "Move on then, shall we?" I indicated to Jakob. The next 2.4 miles were drudgingly slow as Beiyi and Fred P. caught up with us. We arrived at Shortcut Saddle where they had a buffet which included pizza, boiled potatoes, fruits and the "original sponge baths" or something like that. I tried to eat some potatoes but they didn't stay in very long. I know, it's gross, but it happens.

Beiyi leads Fred, me and Jakob to Shortcut Saddle. ©Ben G.

Ben G. gave us each a wet sponge to cool us off. Jakob looks like he just stepped
out of the shower while I look like I could seriously use one. ©Ben G.

I got a second wind for the mostly downhill run to the last aid station at West Fork 2. We were there for several minutes until Gabor ran us out. Ahhh, I didn't want to leave yet!! I had done the final 4.5 miles before and I knew what was in store–the Kenyon Devore trail. It's the RD's idea of a sick joke. And I was doing my best to prolong the inevitable.

The worst of the worst came for me with less than a mile to go. I was reduced to the walking dead. Beiyi passed me up as I was violently trying to puke my guts out on the side of the trail. Again, I asked myself, "Where is the fun in this?" I had not been able to eat anything solid for the last several hours and now I could not even keep water down. Damn! I had not experienced anything like this before.

When I came out of the woods and into the parking lot, my friends, bless their souls, started chanting "Eric! Eric! Eric!" A couple of camera flashes disoriented me and I must've stumbled like the zombie runner.

Where am I? Oh yes, near the finish line just up that last climb.
Behind me are Jack C. and Fred in the neon green shirt. ©Jakob H.

Crossing the finish line, I didn't experience any of the post-race euphoria that normally accompanies the completion of an ultra. Relief that this was all over was probably more what I felt.

What I get for my efforts. This one will live in infamy for awhile.

Apparently, the EMTs were aware of my condition and decided that they would give me some TLC, serving me up with watermelons, soup and some good old-fashioned O2. That shot of oxygen sure did wonders.

The day after

I went to bed and I was knocked out for about 12 hours. Whew! I needed that! When I weighed myself in the morning I found out that I lost almost 10lbs. from the previous day's run. No wonder I felt so sick. So I spent the next several hours gorging myself with rice, lechon, veggies, halo-halo, taquitos, horchata, tiramisu, and whatever else I could get my hands on to put back some weight. I also went for a light swim and a little bit of pool jogging to help with my muscle recovery.

Someone asked me if I would do the race again, and I didn't hesitate to say "No!" After all, I still could not see where the fun in it was. But I know I will be back, if only to settle the score, and especially if my golf game doesn't improve and the waves continue to wipe me out.

Thanks to all who were out there lending their support, either running or helping out at the stations. There were plenty so please bear with me if I forget someone--Jakob who I ran and walked with for 25 miles, Lori S., Beiyi, Ben G. who was injured but was at almost aid station, Carmela, rePete, Andrea E. and friend, my carpool buds , Wilson and Jack who patiently waited, the DP who was there in spirit, and all my T-Headz friends, too many to mention. Big props also go to the Mt. D volunteers, to Gary for putting together a great event, and to the Montrose and Sierra Madre SAR for making sure all runners got off the trail safely.

For more photos of the race, check out Jakob's SmugMug gallery and commentary.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

seeing blue

So about a month ago, on a trip to the great white north, I was walking with my cousin on our way to the ROM when we passed by the bluest track I had ever seen. I guess it makes since this belongs to the University of Toronto, known in the collegiate circuit as the Varsity Blues.

Kinda makes you want to run around in circles, eh?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

a pr day at san juan trail 50k

This is going to be part of a series of “catch-up” posts, one of a few ultra late recaps. The race was held on March 14, 2009, but sometimes life gets in the way of blogging which partly explains the gap of entries...


When the week of the race came I was pretty excited about it. I wrote on my Facebook status that I was "looking forward to kicking off the ultra season with the SJT50K." Well wishers who knew what I was talking about sent me some cyber good luck.

I met Alexa at the Starbucks cafe on Ortega Hwy so she can follow me to the race start. We arrived in plenty of time to get our race bib, do some warmups and mingle with some of the runners we knew. We saw Lori S. who was running her first ultra with her friend, Rick. We took some pictures and after Baz's pre-race briefing, we were given the signal to start.

The first part of the course starts with the 9 miles to the Ortega Candy Store for the first aid station looping back to the campground for a total of 18. I was taking it easy for the first part of this run. By the time I reached the first aid station manned by Dawg and Annie, I caught up with rePete who was on a mission to have a "perfect" pi race, that is finish the race at 2:59pm. Race day was March 14. Of course math geeks would immediately make the connection that pi is 3.4259. Pete's just funny that way.

On the way back from the candy store, I was shadowed by another runner who I recognized to be Bud P. I was going faster than I'm normally accustomed to and in hindsight, I think this is where I may have let the race get away from me. I'd let myself forget that this was a long run and should've done a better job of pacing myself. Also I normally take an energy gel every 45 minutes of running but because I was so concerned about the runner behind me I neglected to do so. I could not keep the pace and had to let him pass me. By the time I got back to the campground for aid station 2 at mile 18, I was feeling pretty tired.

The next part of the race was essentially a repeat of the WTRS 21K. There was the climb up Main Divide, the drop down Trabuco Trail, and the hated crawl up W. Horsethief. It was nice to see T-Headz Keira, Jamison and Robert Schipsi working the aid stations cheering the runners and offering their support. During this part of the run, I also met and ran with Thomas K. who will be running Leona Divide 50M. This is also where rePete caught back up with me saying that he can make it. I said something to the effect of "He's inspired by math."

I usually save some kick for the end of the run for a strong finish, but on this day, I was pretty spent. Baz had already handed out top dog awards and was in the middle of doing his "world famous raffle" when I crossed the line.

21 y.o. Alexa told me of her 6:00 finish. Wow, she kicked my butt by almost an hour. I was impressed and wondered, what could her parents be feeding her, because I want some of that.

I did set a PR time of 6:52:32 going under 7 hours in a 50K. Then why did I place in 49th place out of only about 80 starters? I like to think that this was just a strong field which from the looks of many of the runners, it certainly was. But I also think that the course was shorter by at least a mile or so, at least according to my Garmin.

Race lesson:
Next time I really need to do a better job at sticking to my pace and my fueling schedule. Hydrate often and take my gels before I'm hungry to keep myself from bonking. Aim for a strong second half of the race–it seemed to have worked for me in the past.

Click here for my race day photos.
Click here for official RD recap.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

hills, thrills and spills

What's an ultra without a little bit of these? Put them together and you've got adventure. Matt Hart of the Montrail team created this video montage that makes me want to just lace up and head for the hills.

UltraRunning from Matt Hart on Vimeo.

Sit back and enjoy while I procrastinate a bit more in writing some recaps and updating my blog.

Thanks to Bee for turning me on to this video.