Thursday, September 16, 2010

I'm Doing What??? :-O

Its been a bit since my last post! Things have been busy, training hectic but progressing really well. I completed the Run on the Sly 50K on Sept 5th as a training run for my 50 Miler, the Dick Collins Firetrails 50 on Oct. 9th. Run on the Sly was a beautiful fun and aside from the nasty regurgitation of some watermelon at mile 26.2 I fared well. I tell people I coach again and again not to try something new on race day and yet there I was at the mile 26 aid station thinking "wow.. that watermelon looks good!"... BAD idea.

BUT!! The big news is getting selected for the 2011 Marathon de Sables in Morocco!! This has been my dream event ever since I learned about it! MdS is a stage race through part of the Sahara for 156 miles in April. Aside from the obvious challenges of heat and distance runners have to carry all of their food, clothing, sleeping bags etc and "compulsory items." Technical checkpoints ensure that all runners are carrying the requisite calories and equipment which includes a "venom pump" because of scorpions and snakes. Yeah.. not quite like any other race I have ever done. For me its like Mt Everest.. in the sand and heat.
I will be using the blog for the next few months to chronicle my training and then the race so stay tuned!!!

In the meantime here are some great videos relating to the event
MdS- Part 1
MdS-Part 2
MdS-Part 3

Run Happy

Thursday, May 6, 2010

First Time

You always remember your first. It’s almost always awkward and you’re nervous, having never done it before. There is lots of fumbling around a bit, not really knowing what you are doing Though if you are like most, you have imagined exactly how it will be and probably practiced on your own so everything goes just right. There is nothing wrong with that, its natural and no one wants to go into this kind of thing unprepared. You dreamed about it, thought about it, and you are absolutely sure you are ready. Most of the time though, you still start out too fast and pay the price later. It’s rarely how you thought it would be and some parts are downright disappointing. Still, it is your first time, and that lives with you forever.

That’s what your first ultra marathon is like, and that’s exactly how things went when I ran the Sunsweet Tehema Wildflower 50K. I didn’t think I was nervous but friends later told me that I had absolute tunnel vision at the start, and hadn’t quite shaken it at the 16 mile turn around point. I had everything planned out, right down to the ziplock bag with replacement energy gels, enduralyte capsules and a Cliff bar. I had practiced for hours running the hills near where I live and was fortunate enough to get to run half the course with race directors Alan and Bev Abbs prior to race day.

This is where I have to take a moment and give serious props to these two. Despite full time jobs and demanding pro ultra running careers of their own they take the time to put on this amazingly beautiful race through the spring time hills above the Sacramento River in Northern California. Not only do they do a magnificent job of orchestrating the event (a 10K, 50K and 50K relay) they are unbelievably gracious. Several weeks before race after corresponding with Bev regarding the course and explaining I was new to ultra running, she invited me and several of my friends to come up and run the course with her and Alan. Along the way they pointed out where stops would be, provided tips on ultra running and served up brownies at the end. Truly remarkable people Alan and Bev.

And, like most first times, everything is magnified. During the ultra I found that there really seems to be no “slightly” anything. If you are low on fluids or fuel, the resulting bonks are intensified. If you haven’t trained properly, you will know it early on. And, everything positive is intensified too. The beauty of the wildflowers, the friendliness of fellow runners and aid station volunteers and the finish… oh the finish is exquisite and indescribable.

And when you are done, and reflecting on what just occurred, one wants to brag, but do try to respectfully refrain. It is unseemly to boast and ruin the special moment. You do wonder if people will be able to tell by looking at you what you have done, and you ponder if it will it make you run differently.

I fared well for this first time out, and when things settled down I was able to actually enjoy the run, reap the benefits of all those hill runs I did during training and generally came out of it with my dignity intact. I posted a respectable time, coming in 16th overall with no injuries and can’t wait to do it again.

There will most certainly be others, and I will do better, last longer, and fumble less. Some perhaps will be even more beautiful. But none will ever match my first.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

Holy googly moogly! It's already the first week of February! It seems like the holidays were just yesterday and here we are full on into 2010! This year has been extremely busy so far and full of promise for amazing new adventures, goals and opportunities.. ALL good!

Close on the horizon my "baby" girl is graduating from college this spring. This is something I have yet to wrap my head around since quite clearly she can't have come so far so fast. But setting all fatherly bias aside, here is one of the most amazing and bright young women I have ever known and the vista ahead for her is bright and sunny and full of promise. Watching her as she figures out whats comes next gives me such excitement and confidence for the future.

As I write this I have settled on my big goal for the year; running 50 miles to commemorate that same number of years chasing my own adventures. It hardly seems that long... the list of my birthdays.. not the distance of the run. Supported by friends and family running parts of the journey we will start where the Navarro River dumps into the Pacific and wind our way along Highway 1 south through Pt. Arena, the coastal towns of Elk, Manchester and Gualala before ending on a particular bluff that has become one of my favorite places on the planet. This expedition of sorts has been dubbed "The Coast N 50".. my very good friend Alan prefers "The Ed To Bed".. but he does have that wry British humor.

To get there, I have refocused my running from "how fast can I finish".. to "I just have to finish" ( I think this is where Alan is getting the Ed to Bed comment). I am upping my miles and undetaking my first ultra event this spring. The Sunsweet Tehama Wildflowers 50K in April will be my first step towards my 50 mile fall goal and I plan on at least one more this summer.

As if things couldnt get better... I was invited to be part of the local Fleet Feet inagural coaches training program! We get all kinds of more formal training on nutrition, hydtration, biomechanics and gait analysis, training philosophys etc. Now aside from getting to mentor through participation I can really get involved in helping people reach their goals. It's really amazing and emotional to be there when someone runs their first mile, or 5K non stop. Last weekend several people in our current group ran their first 10 miles! I read somewhere that some people never run a total of 10 miles in their entire lives and here these folks have worked up to being able to do in a couple of hours.

So this looks to be an action packed year. Lots of stuff on the horizon and hopefully some tails from the trails as I chase down ultra running!
Tight laces