Monday, July 30, 2007

life is good

Enjoying a late summer afternoon at the beach with two beauties, Allyson and Michele. Yes, life is good. (Thanks for the photo, Michele).

Ingredients for a great day...

1 part southern california summer day
a fun trail run with friends
a barbeque/pool party at the vinmeister's house
hanging out at the beach with some cool people

Start off the day with an 18-mile morning trail run through O'Neil Regional Park with a mix of OCTR runners and the all-female contingent from the Sole Mates. Follow it up with some cannonball drops in Vinnie's awesome pool while enjoying some ice-cold Corona. Mix it up with some fresh- off-the-grill salmon and carne asada. Top off the day with a little beach volleyball and bonfire with some friends. Enjoy. Serves one :)

Sunday, July 29, 2007

virtual training run #2

With the first virtual training run between me and hitme tucked away in history, we've decided to do one again. Because hitme trains in the ghostly pre-dawn darkness, he would be left to running without a "live" partner were it not for our virtual training sessions.

Here are the deets...

When: Wed. Aug 1, 1:30pm (Los Angeles time)
Where: Where ever you are
Distance: 10k/6.2 miles (or whatever distance you need to train)

On this run, we've doubled our number of participants. Woohoo! We've added Manila-based runners, Ben and Jaymie, and they'll have the "fun" starting time of 4:30 am since they're in the same time zone as hitme.

As with most training runs, it's more fun to have more runners, so I'm extending this invitation to any and all to join us on this virtual training run. We've set the base distance at about 6 miles, but you can do however many you need to. All we need for you to do is show up, smile and run.


Thurs, 4:30am (Manila) start time
Hitme - Quezon City route
Jaymie - Alabang route
Ben - Metro Manila-Makati BCD route
Renz - Makati
Banggi - if she gets up
Marga - Parañaque

Wed, 1:30pm (US West Coast) start time
Steph - Balboa Park (San Diego)
Gretchen - Sammamish River bike path (Seattle Area)
• E-Rod - Back Bay dirt trail (Newport Beach)

any more runners wanna join?

taking the next step in this idiocy

Before I started running ultras, I saw this quote printed on the back of a t-shirt.

Any idiot can run a marathon, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run an ultra-marathon!

After having completed two ultras in the last few months with another one coming up soon, I'm taking the next step in this idiocy. I've decided to break my 50-mile cherry at the Dick Collins Firetrails 50.

The check is in the mail, and there's no looking back now. This idiot is going over the edge. See you on the other side, Addy and Steph.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

my first dns

I can't remember if I've ever signed up for a race before and failed to start it. For all intensive purposes, the 195-Mile Wild West Relay is going to be my first DNS (Did Not Start). I joined this race back in January when it was first proposed that we put the team together. By February, we had 6 runners committed to the 6x6 Ultra–each runner doing 6 legs, completing an average of 30-35 miles. Unfortunately due to injuries and other commitments, runners had to drop out of the team, and we could not recruit enough runners and the requisite volunteer to fill the roster.

Long story short, the team is not going to Colorado and will have to drop out.

Needless to say, I'm disappointed, but the fortunate thing with running, as in life, is that there will always be another race. For now, I'll focus my energies on my next challenge, the Mt. Disappointment 50K. Now how's that for irony?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

running with the hitman, well kinda

So if you've missed the hype (right), today was the first ever OC-QC Virtual Synchronized Training Run between me and fellow runner/blogger hitme64. At 1:20 pm today, I laced up my nearly forgotten road running shoes and headed out the door to "meet" him for our training run.

Our training session was quite simple— total distance of 8k (1k warm up walk, 6k run, and a 1k cool down). Since this is a buddy training run, he and I were running at the same time, well except his time was 4:30am, while mine was 1:30pm. His training venue was Quezon City, mine was Orange County, literally continents apart.

I arrived at the Back Bay at 1:25 and waited another 5 minutes. It was a balmy 75 degrees with full sunshine and a nice breeze. At precisely 1:30 (my time), hitme and I started our run (or at least I hoped he did). My route started at the Back Bay interpretive center in the direction of Jamboree, hung a right to get on the Irvine Creek Trail (a bike path really), went under the bridge towards UCI, then turned around at the half-way point to return to the start.

At about 2 miles in, er, I mean 3.2k, I heard a runner's footsteps gaining on me. I picked up my stride but sensing this person was right behind me, I knew that it won't be long before he or she would overtake me. But no runner passed, so I turned around and realized I was alone.

Or was I?

The strange thing was hitme once posted on his blog that because of his pre-dawn track workouts, he'd been spooked by running ghosts. So I thought— has this idea of hitme and I running "together" somehow allowed this spirit to travel here and run with me instead? Hmm... the things you think of when you're running alone.

It's been awhile since I've run this course. I used to do it all the time when I was training for my first marathon over five years ago. It's pretty flat while passing views of the bay, Irvine Creek, the university, and the neighborhoods of vanilla Irvine. The bike path itself is actually nice; it even has a water fountain along the way, just in case. I kinda missed running here and am glad that I chose this route for this momentous event (insert fireworks here). You gotta watch out though to avoid stepping on some horse crap on the equestrian section of the Back Bay Loop.

At the end of my run, my Garmin registered 8.02k in 49:25. I thought "WOW! I'm fast," till I realized that I was in kilometer mode and not miles. Damn!

My average HR was 152bpm and I burned 609 calories. Since this is a training run, I thought I'd post my splits for you number lovers out there.

1K = 9:23
9:21 min. km.

1k to 4k = 16:10
5:23 min. km.

4k to 7k = 15:31
5:10 min. km.

7k to 8k = 8:20
8:15 min. km.
Well, I'd say that I had fun running "with" hitme today. Check out his blog for his training recap. Next time, we'll get Jaymie to join us, though at 4am she'll probably stick to her velveteen treadmill.

Hey, if you'd like to join us on our next training run, the more the merrier. And if you happen to be on a different time zone, even better.

virtually synchronized training run

Poor hitme. Because of his schedule and other life commitments, the only time he gets to run is in the wee hours of the early, early morning (so early that most still consider it night time), when only his companions are his ipod tunes and 3am ghostly apparitions.

Half-jokingly, I proposed to him that since his 4:30am is actually 1:30pm for me, I will be his virtual running partner. We will run at the same time, though separated by half a world away. I'm in OC; he's in QC. We'll communicate via YM and SMS to ensure that we are running together, virtually at least.

He agreed to this scheme, and so our first OC-QC virtually synchronized training run is set to take place in a few hours. The agreed upon distance is 5K though he's considering going longer. Full report and photos to follow.

Monday, July 23, 2007

the skipster's birthday run

This post is a bit late, but i just want to share some photos we took for Skip's birthday run. On Saturday, the 14th we drove down to his chill crib in Solana Beach which sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific. After the previous weekend's tough run at Harding, I was ready for a relatively easy jaunt. This one called for mostly beach running with only one hill climb, Torrey Pines Road.

Here we were at the top of the bluff before the start of the run. Runners in attendance were E-Rod, Bee, Sue, Abbie, Wendy, the birthday boy, and Tracie. Photo by Jake G.

Wendy gave pre-run instructions to the group prior to the start–a few miles on the sand to Torrey Pines Road, then down Parry Groves Trail to get back to the beach and a run back to the chill crib. There was also the option of adding more miles by going to the infamous Black's Beach. For those who's not familiar with this stretch of sand, let's just say BB is not for the prudish as it's a haven for the naturist beach lover.

Sue, who at 60 and holds an impressive running resumé that includes a Western States 100 finish, made easy work of Torrey Pines Road. This hill climb challenges many La Jolla Half-Marathon runners every year.

The Parry Groves Trail is a beautiful groomed trail that looks out to the wide blue yonder. It's also fun as you're heading down fast on the forgiving dirt surface with a view that's hard to beat.

At the bottom of PGT, the two groups split up. Skip, Bee, Sue, and Tracie headed back to Solana Beach while Wendy, Abbie, and I elected to turn towards Black's Beach to increase our mileage for the day (yeah right).

To run this stretch of sand is just divine with a wide flat beach that's easy on the feet and the knees. On one side are 100-foot high bluffs, and on the other you can enjoy the sight, smell and the sound of the surf. Wendy and Abbie quickly hit their stride as they race to find a naturist in their natural element.

Wendy boldly approached a Black's Beach local (if you know what I mean) and asked him to take our picture. You could say we were using a "tripod" for this shot.

On the way back from Black's, Wendy and Abbie took some time out from this very "tough" run. The only way I could describe this is "Life's a Beach."

But what is a run without a bit of misadventure? This happened about a couple of miles before arriving back at Solana Beach. I'm not gonna go into details, but because of the tide having gone up, we had to take a slight detour that inadvertently took us through someone's front yard as the home's residents looked at us in disbelief with their dogs yipping and barking at our heels. (Dear Del Mar home owners, if you're reading this, we are truly very sorry.)

Finally arriving back at the start, we end our run with a frosty dip in the water. Aaah, nothing like a cold water bath to soothe these muscles and joints after a 14.5 mile trek that included a clothing-optioned beach and other people's property.

To honor our host and the birthday boy himself, we had a little celebration with Rubio's fish tacos and some of Tracie's home-made cookies. At 59, Skip aka The Don is primed and ready for action.

Friday, July 13, 2007

summer workout week in review

Monday, July 9

Coming off the tough and hot Harding run just two days before, I ordinarily would have just done an easy recovery workout. But a posted OCTR run was just too good to resist—a sunset beach and hill workout followed by a splash into the ocean. We would start along the strand at Crystal Cove, then hang a left into El Moro Canyon and do two loops up I Think I Can and down BFI. "B" stands for "big" and I for "incline." You can figure out what "F" means. A few of us OCTR runners were there—me, Greg, Alexa, and WS100 veteran Sue. Guest runner Wendy also joined us for part of the run.

Because of the high tide we had to run on the loose deep sand, instead of the wet and packed part of the beach. I found this 3.5 mile section tough and was glad to get to El Moro's relatively stable dirt trails. I pushed myself up I Think I Can and was able to make it up the top of the hill non-stop, my first time doing so. And to make it more fun, we went up the same hill again, before returning to our cars about four miles away—a challenging, but rewarding effort of 15 miles.

Tuesday, July 10

Did a little cross-training today at Rockreation. I haven't been going to the rock gym much since I started running especially since I'd been having a bit of shoulder soreness. This was my second time in in the rock gym in as many weeks. OCTR mate, Abbie and her boyfriend, Eric were there too. Abbie, scaling up the wall (rated 5.10d+) so effortlessly, is poetry in motion. With her long limbs and slight frame, she is a natural. I, on the other hand, was struggling up just to make it up a couple of 5.10a routes, but it was good to hang out there again (bad pun). I would have been satisfied making myself feel like a rock stud going up and down 5.7s and 5.8s, but Abbie would have none of that. She "pushed" me making sure I challenged myself.

Wednesday, July 11

Well, my brother and his wife convinced me to do the Cool Breeze Metric Century Ride with them. I'm not a cyclist really, but I figure I can do 60 miles on a relatively flat terrain. In return, my brother agreed to run the Bulldog 25K with me.

So I was back at El Moro Canyon. To get my brother ready for some trail running, we joined Suki's 8-mile hike and run workout. I kinda took it easy since I was running a race the following evening. But I couldn't resist the call of the challenge when I came upon Poles, the notoriously steep hill climb that gains about 500 feet in about a quarter mile, with the toughest part waiting and taunting you at the top of the trail. I wanted to stop and walk here, but I sucked it up. I ran up Poles non-stop for the first time—another breakthrough in El Moro in two days.

Thursday, July 12

I had forgotten about this, but I just received my cool Brooks tech shirt from Charlie. Now, I too, can be a running/walking/gabbing billboard on races and training runs.

Today was the second installment of the Peters Canyon Summer Trail Run Series. The first time I did this 5-miler a month ago, I timed in at 42:32. I was hoping to do better today, maybe breaking through a sub-40 minute time.

, who I met today, lit up the course in a blistering 35+ minutes, good enough for 7th place. Mari, struggled with cramps and dehydration, but still came through for a strong finish. I was behind her for the last mile-and-a-half and was able to appreciate her speed, form and efficiency on the trails. I came in approximately 30 seconds behind her at about 41 minutes, not quite the goal I was shooting for (#%@ hills), but better than the last race. Wendy G., who was cheered on by her entourage of Dave, Jake, Tiana, and Kelly, finished at about 47 minutes. It was especially warm, but I told Wendy to look at it as heat training for the Bulldog where she's signed up to do the 50K.

After the race, I hung out with Wendy and the kids for the barbeque, the awards ceremony, and the raffle. At the last race I won a pair of running socks. This time around I won a year's subscription to Trail Runner magazine. Awesome!

Friday, July 13

On the OC Hiking Club calendar I posted a 6:15am walk/jog. I wrote:

This is designed as a friendly introduction to running for those who would like to try it, but don't know how. We'll start with a warm up walk to get our heart rates up, followed by a short easy jog, then walking again, and so forth. The short term goal is for the novice runner/walker to eventually be able to comfortably run 5K/3.1 miles.

I had a good turnout of nine other early birds, some from the July 4th boat crew—Kip, Eusebio, and One-L Michele. Other familiar faces of Rita, Erika, and George were joined by newcomers Michelle, Jody and Ron. It was fun, and most did not seem to find the running part too tiring. They went as far as suggesting I do this on a regular basis, and even requesting for an earlier start time of 6am.

Little do they know that my ulterior motive is to get them addicted to this sport also. Gotcha–hook, line and sinker :)

Tuesday photo from Rockreation web site. Thursday photos courtesy of Wendy G.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

podcast interview with the iMichelle

Thanks to Jessica for posting this on our message board.

Orange County's and OCTR's very own ultra superstar, Michelle Barton aka The Energizer Bunny aka the iMichelle aka The Red Blur is featured on The Final Sprint's Podcast interview.

Michelle has had a phenomenal year so far, at one stretch setting five ultra course records in a matter of six weeks. She consistently finishes first woman, and in a couple of cases, have beat the entire field.

Her energy and enthusiasm for the sport is infectious. Listen to the interview, and no doubt you'll agree. You can also read more about this running phenom on

Besides Michelle, TFS Podcasts also feature other great athletes like Dean Karnazes, Grete Waitz, Scott Jurek, Khalid Khannouchi, and more.

Photo of Michelle taken by Mark Haymond at The 2007 Shadow of the Giants 50K.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

it's getting hot out here...

Summer has definitely arrived in Southern California—beach goers swarm the coastline in droves, convertible tops come off among other things, the magic kingdom in all its mousey glory stays open till midnight, and the Santa Ana Mountains sizzle with hell's breath itself.

Looking down the canyon from Harding Truck Trail

I knew that this Saturday's training run was going to be a tough one. We were running entirely on parts of Jessica's Twin Peaks 50/50 course. The first part of it was going to be a brutal 9.5 miles up Harding Truck Trail to the Main Divide, a constant grind of over 3,650 feet of elevation gain. Some in our group were heading out even further and higher towards the towers of Santiago Peak about four-and-a-half miles away, dropping down to Holy Jim, then trekking back out to the end of the planned excursion at Blue Jay Campground. Their total mileage for the day would have been around 31 miles.

I opted for the "shorter" out-and-back course up Harding Truck Trail, then back down to the start for a cool 19 miles. At least this was the route when I started my run.

When I got to the top of Harding at the Main Divide however, there was a slight change of plans. Alexa, who I've been running with, and I decided that we would run up to the towers then drop down to Blue Jay where we can get a shuttle back to our cars from one of our OCTR mates. We were still feeling pretty good, and it would be nice to get in over 20 miles for the day and a more interesting run down. We also regrouped here with late starters Kevin, Keira, and Jenn. Jessica rolled in on the dirt road in her pimpin' brand new ride with a payload of smilin' Kayla, water, and cheers for the hot and dirty runners.

The towers at Santiago Peak, a distant four miles away

By this time, it was already after 10am, and the sun was starting to really beat down on us. The mercury continued to climb, and the ascent to the towers became more difficult. But we made it eventually—almost 15 miles of hot, steady climbing with over 4,500 feet of gain. Whew! I'm getting worn out right now just thinking about it again.

The rest of the run was all downhill from here—three more miles on the wide and uninteresting Main Divide, then five more on Holy Jim single-track to the end of the trail. The faster group of K, K and J went ahead, while Alexa and I stayed together so we wouldn't miss the turn for Holy Jim.

With a little under five miles to go, we discovered that we only had less than 20 ounces of water left between the two of us. Yikes! I started the day with 100 oz. in my Camelback and another 24 in my handheld, while Alexa had over 70 oz. with her; however the blazing heat made us consume more water than we'd anticipated. Parts of HJT were shaded, but it was still exposed for the most part. Scorching updraft blowing up from the canyon stifled us even more. The Holy Jim Trail, reputedly a joy to run in the cool winter months, now felt like a furnace. Jessica, in her blog, commented that temps registered in the mid-90s. Ouch!

Though we were conserving our water, we eventually ran out with about two miles to go. Fortunately, other late starters Michael, Marisa and Lisa caught up with us and generously shared their water. Further down, trail angels Keira and Jennifer were hiking back up with ice cold fluids for Alexa and me when they became concerned that we hadn't arrived at the Holy Jim trail head yet. We weren't in any real danger, but it just wasn't cool not having enough water to finish our runs. Thanks for the support, guys!

Because of the extreme heat, the long group decided to cut their run short at Holy Jim as did everyone else. Approximate mileage for the day – between 22 to 23 scorching miles.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

the fourth of july

Unfortunately, I had to miss Addy's bon voyage run on the fourth. Addy's been one of the most positive and nicest people I've met during these last few weeks. Fortunately for us OC'ers, she's a home-grown girl, so I'm sure we'll see her on these trails again when she visits her family.

Instead, I played in our annual July Fore Golf Tournament. Wouldn't think of bailing on this one. Already missed last year's because of traveling. My cousin puts it together, and it's been a little family tradition now for the last 7 or so years.

Now if only I put in as much time playing golf as I do on the trails, then trying to sink that little white ball in that little white cup wouldn't have been so embarrassing. Fortunately we only played 9 holes on an executive course, though from looking at my score, you'd think I was shooting 18 holes. It was actually a comedy of errors, with me losing 5 balls to the omnipresent Aliso Creek. All in all, it was still good fun.

In the afternoon, I went down to Eusebio's place in Dana Point for a little get together. What a host. He had a little spread on the table that would rival a Love Boat buffet. Met a few cool dudes and dudettes for the first time—Stephanie, Rachael, Michele, Flora, and Chris. Kip aka RJ and his wingman, Ivan were also there. Eusebio surprised Steph by busting out an ube birthday cake for her from Goldilocks (the pinoys' fave bake shop). Awwwh...

After filling our tummies with pancit, pasta, salmon, adobo and Kip's iced tea concoction, we walked down to the harbor to board Lola. We motored out to the ocean with several other boaters as we watched the sun setting over the horizon.

Viewing the fireworks shoot right over our heads as we're anchored just outside the harbor was an amazing experience. There was a little over a half hour delay because of tech problems, but once those pyro experts got it on, they got it on. The finale was awesome. Check it out. You can hear everyone screaming with excitement at the end.

No running today, but what a fun day it was, and a great way to celebrate the fourth. Happy Birthday, America!

Group photo courtesy of Eusebio.
July Fore graphic © 2007 JOD.