Wednesday, May 30, 2007

a giant weekend with a lil bit of rock n roll

It's Wednesday, and I went on my last run this morning--a Whiting Ranch 5-miler--before this weekend's Shadow of the Giants 50K and San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon.

“It's Magic!” as Baz would say. The Shadow, another one of his events, will be my 2nd ultra race. It’s set to happen at Fish Camp in the Sierra National Forest which is just at the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. Giant redwood trees, pine-covered trails, fresh mountain air, and 31 miles (more or less) of calorie-burning, quad-burning and endorphin-yielding running await me and at least 3 of my compatriots from OCTR. Tri-geek and Ironman finisher Pete is renting the van which will transport us from Irvine. Also joining us are Paul A., a 2-time ultra finisher and sub 2-minute 800m runner, and Jennifer F. who just recently finished her first 50-miler in less than 10 hours. I'm basically the newbie in this bunch. Chaz, who is unable to run will be driving up with his kids and reporting on the race.

I’m not too sure how I’m going to do in this race. The cutoff time is 8 hours which is at least my goal. Mild weather seems to be in store for us so if that prevails, I'm hoping to set a 50K PR which means coming in at 7:12:49 or less. Judging from the course map it doesn't seem as hilly as the San Juan Trail 50K. Someone also told me too that it's “easier” than SJT so I’m staying optimistic. However, my tendonitis on my left ankle is acting up today, and both my knees were pretty sore this morning. I'm hoping that they'll all feel better by Saturday morning. If not, I'll have to rely on Vitamin I to help me get through the day.

Soon after the race, we’re heading back to OC, but my drive won’t be done. I’ll continue on down to Solana Beach to Skip's chill crib where several other OCTR runners are staying for the evening. Skip, Wendy, and Alexa are running their first marathon the following morning at the San Diego Rock N Roll. Other runners are Addy, Mary, Maz, Mari, Kim, and Eric KP. I’ll be there for support with Jess and Abbie. I’m scheduled to meet up with Skip at around mile 21 to “bring him home” for the last 5 miles to the finish. I suppose I can look at that as my recovery run after the Shadow. Hopefully I’ll be up to the task.

The Shadow and the RnR promise to make a great weekend, but by Sunday afternoon I would've logged in about 36 miles on my feet and about 800 miles on wheels. I'll be way ready for a different kind of R and R by then.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

another hiking post

Ok, so I've been hiking more again these past couple of months-- more than I have in the past few years. I used to hike every weekend, but kinda fizzled out after a while. Since I'm not a strong uphill runner (yet), I draw on my hiking experience to help me get up the hill, stump, mountain, stairs, or whatever that makes that gravitational pull even stronger.I think I originally got into trail running when I saw people actually flying up and down the same trails I was slogging through with my heavy boots and 15 lb. pack. I thought...hmm...I can actually cover the same amount of miles on the same trails and see the same views and vistas and be back to my car way sooner than if I were hiking.

So anyway, I was supposed to go on the Mt. Baldy run organized by Jessica for OCTR on Saturday. Unfortunately due to a family issue, I couldn't join them, but I needed some high altitude training in preparation for my Mt. Whitney trip in less than a month. So on Sunday, I invited my brother, his wife, Karen, and their house guests from Germany, Ute (K's cousin) and John for a day up in the mountains. Here are several pictures of our hike up Mt. Baldy.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

weekdays runs recaps (friends, hills, and beer)

Boy, I sure missed running with my OCTR buds. The last couple of weekends I couldn't join them on our Saturday long runs due to other plans-- (1) Cactus to Clouds hike the weekend of Mother's Day; and (2) the Joshua Tree Music Festival the following weekend.

This past Tuesday, Pete scheduled a run up Modjeska Grade Rd past Old Glory and going towards Old Camp then turning back at some point to be back at our cars by 8am. The run was scheduled for 5:30am (damn that's early). I got up at 4:30, and I was still 5 minutes late in getting there. This trail is pretty nice in that it is a nice steady uphill. I slowly jogged up with the group, and I was very pleasantly surprised that I didn't really walk while going uphill which has been my regular mode of ascent. Am I getting to be a stronger runner?

The following morning, I joined the group again for another run, this time at Black Star Canyon. Runners in attendance were James aka Vinnie, Pete, Gregorio, Skip, Wendy, Abbie, and Alexa. At one point in the run there was a hill that steadily went up for about a mile and three quarters (well, actually more than that but that's how far we went up it). Greg, Abbie and I jogged the hill together till we got to our turnaround point at about 4 miles. I was amazed again that I did not walk at all at any part of this hill.

Hills, specifically going up them, have been the bane of my fledgling trail running “career” (a little over 3 months at this point). When I see a hill coming up, my natural response has been to walk up it. To be able to jog at least part of it and still feel strong gives my running confidence a boost. There's pleasure in thinking that I may have reached a small milestone here.

Of course the funnest part of going uphill is turning around and zooming downhill. My legs felt great to stretch out and turn over as fast as they can after the initial grind. After a little over 8 miles we were back in our cars and a few of us celebrated with a carb-loaded cold one. Now that's what I'm talking about.

(Photos courtesy of Wendy)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

cactus to clouds

Kiron, Pierre, Eric, Kirk, Verdi, Claire, Miki, Naro, Annie, Richard (photo courtesy of Verdi)

On the weekend of May 12, I didn't join the OCTR on our regular Saturday long run. Instead I was out in the desert hoofing it up a very tall and steep mountain with the Outdoors Club.

The hike is called to Cactus to Clouds. Cactus because you start on the desert floor in Palm Springs, and Clouds because you ascend all the way to the summit of San Jacinto Peak at 10,800 feet above sea level.

Backpacker Magazine rated it as the 5th toughest day hike in the continental U.S. According to BM, "Two fun ways to put your pain in perspective as you churn up the unmaintained trail: The trek to San Jacinto's 10,804-foot, boulder-strewn crown is only 800 vertical feet shorter than the climb from Everest basecamp to summit-and comparable to doing more than a thousand flights of stairs."

Our adventure began at the Palm Springs Museum at 4:15am. Everyone had their headlamps on and it's quite a sight to see little firefly-like lights heading up the switchbacks in single file. I was still feeling the effects of our previous night's bit of revelry and the approximately 2 hours of sleep (I'm being generous here) so I stayed in the back. The sun came up a couple of hours later and by 7am it was starting to get pretty warm, especially since most of the trail was exposed. Pretty soon, each hiker was going at their own pace and the group had opened up. I passed several people and was in the middle of the pack where I'll be through the end of the trek.

I was keeping an eye on my Garmin and it looked like we were going at about 2 miles an hour--decent for a trail this steep. We arrived at "Lunch Rock" which is at mile 8 after about 4 hours of hiking. Two more miles and we'll be at Long Valley. After that, the rest of the hike should be a "piece of cake." Well, that cake was not about to be easily had. I call this part of the hike, the 2-2-2. 2 miles with 2,000 feet of climbing which took me 2 hours to travel. No sh!t--2 hours to walk 2 miles!!! This was brutal. Everything seemed vertical. I was literally dragging my feet up the trail, that is if we could find it. I would take 3 or 4 steps up, pause, take a quick breather, then repeat. When I finally made it out of the trail up to Long Valley, I was so exhausted and just ready to call it the day. I stopped for lunch with Iyad, with whom I was walking the 2-2-2. We deserved one after slogging through 10 miles and climbing to 8,000 feet.

The next 6 miles to the peak was relatively "easy." The climb was gentle, the trails were well-maintained, and Juniper Trees provided plenty of shade from the sun. Still after the agonizing first 10 miles which sapped most of my legs' energy, I wouldn't quite call this section a "piece of cake." With just about 2 miles to go to the summit, I felt myself bonking. Eventually I made it to the top with Claire who caught up with me shortly before the last mile.

About 13 and a half hours after we left the cactii on the desert floor, we were off the peak and at the tram station at Long Valley sharing the day's adventures while enjoying well-deserved beers.

What a great feeling it was to have done this hike. It was challenging but definitely doable. I think that my legs were still tired from the speed runs I did 2 days prior. I could've sworn that I kept saying that I was not doing this hike EVER again. I am, however, now looking forward to the next time I trek from the Cactus to the Clouds.

Click here for more photos.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

inaugural octr jr 1-mile trail race

The temps were in the 80s with some Santa Ana winds, but they did not deter the field of runners participating in the inaugural OC Trail Runners Kids 1 Mile Trail Race held in conjunction with the OCTR picnic today. The oldest participant was 13 y.o. Rio while the youngest must've been Gracie at 2 years old. Race director Jessica Deline gave final instructions before setting the fleet-footed off on the horse trail as
it climbs up, quickly gaining elevation. Out on the course, front-runner Rio was closely trailed by 10 y.o. Jake and 6 y.o. Tim. The runners quickly spread out, some running alone like Reina (11), Tiana (6) and Kayley (11) , while others like Joseph (6) were paced by OCTR members. In 3 y.o. Toby's case, he had none other than Grandpa. Austin and Elise showed great form, dusting me in their tracks.

The eventual top finishers were Rio, Jake, and Tim. Bringing in the love from the back was Team Vara with Gracie, Lorraine, and Pete. All finishers received a medal, and judging from their smiles, I'd say that the First Annual OCTR Kids 1-Mile Trail Race is a success.