Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Boston Bound at CIM with Turkey Tom and a Sweet Victory!

Ahhhh I can finally say that I am officially a Boston Qualifier. I ran CIM on Sunday 12/2/07 and posted a final 3:14:06 chip time (which meets my Boston Qualification of 3:15 by just seconds!).

Of course it only took me 18 marathons, 3 ultras and 1 Ironman 70.3 to get here... but none the less I made it and am proud of the sore victory I am enjoying today. Truthfully I'm not sure if I am going to go (though everyone says I should) because it was just knowing if I could actually do it before I am considered in the Masters Division. '08 is already shaping up to be a very expensive and exhausting race schedule so I may postpone Boston until '09 since I have the 18 month window; we'll have to wait and see but if I do it in '08 it's going to be a bit last minute.

The CIM race in itself was an interesting adventure. Two major things were accomplished in this race: 1st I ran a 14 minute PR while also qualifying for Boston, and 2nd my brother completed his first marathon with a time of 4:25 (which bests my 1st marathon time by 20 minutes!).

What made it so interesting beyond that?
The first 13 miles were very predictable because I knew that holding a 7:20 pace was going to be tough even for me, so I held back and did the responsible thing by sticking to my pace from the start and not going out too fast. So the first half of this race was very nice, comfortable and relaxed. I even had managed to stay just an edge in front of the 3:15 pace group.
After the first split things got interesting. What I learned about Sacramento is that they actually have a sort of small country charm to them around Folsom (yes, the same Johnny Cash Folsom Prison Blues place). You know what else you find in country settings? how about wild fowl and animals... The weirdness began when at about mile 14 when a wild gobbling Turkey came out from behind the small town store and starting chasing the marathoners up the road. It took a moment for me to do the double take before I kicked my heels a couple of times and decided I needed to get out of dodge and away from the gobbling mayhem running up behind. The turkey was an odd and funny distraction and helped me relax a little and find my rythm again (wish I had video because it was a bit hilarious to see runners trying to scramble around and away from this "Tom"). Once I got my 7:20 pace and rythm back in place I was starting to feel a bit lagged but nothing unusual, I've been here before and kicked my own ass back into gear, I mean this is what all the tranining was for right?! So all is going well and we are nearing the 17 mile marker, perfect water stop, and I needed it. Should have been the typical stop and usually you would think the folks running around the 3:10-3:15 pace are not rookies... oh my mistake! Did anyone tell that guy that you are not supposed to stop in the water line once you get your cup, "Ouch"!
I was at a nice clip coming into the station and made my usually planned entry point about 3/4 up the water line which was just past where most people were making the water line exit. Unfortunately as I tried to slow down for the exiting runner in front of me, he decided to stop, yes STOP. He took his cup of water and took about two steps to the left (into running traffic) and planted himself to drink, so naturally you can ascertain the next event which was me plowing straight into him trying to make my path in. I was fairly worked already at this point and was all I could do to stay on my feet and keep moving... no water for me this time because I knew that I had no time to stop if I was to make the Boston cutoff. So I hobbled a bit out of the station with a cramped right foot but I knew I could work it out and there were more H2O stops so onward it was!

Things were still moving along nicely but at 21 I was starting to dwindle and really could have used some inspiration or a running partner. As I had gotten fairly close to the 3:10 pace group around 18 and 19, I knew the last couple of miles I was dragging below my required pace. The sound that made my heart drop and my feet kick was the huff and puff of the 3:15 group right behind me. At that point all I could think was there is no way I can let Boston slip away with less than a 10K to go. I dug deep and as the 3:15 group sidled right next to me I knew that I had to stay with them, then inspiration came from my blind-spot, literally. As the 3:15 group (which was about 20 guys and 1 girl) slowly grew around me a gentleman of my age who was in fantastic shape and looked amazingly relaxed passed me. As he made his way to be in front of me I was staring at his yellow vest that read "BLIND"... He was not running with an attached partner and seemed that he was intently listening to feet and breathing of those around him because he was completely in stride with the group and almost meticulously perfect in his stride. This gave me courage and realization that anything is possible that you put your mind to so I found another kick in me and stayed with the 3:15 group to mile 24. By now this group had dwindled to about 10 guys, most looking like this was just a simple 5k. I was starting to feel the sweet victory of seeing anything less than 3:15 on the clock and was digging in deep to visualize the finish, knowing that my family was at the finish watching and my brother was out there doing his first marathon I was feeling pretty high on life. Something hit me again though just yards before the 26 mile banner, and again I began to sag. I was using all my might to keep a visual on the 3:15 pace leader but I could not find anything in me to keep it going and as the 26 mile banner drifted behind me I was watching my Boston hopes in the form of the 3:15 group create a gap in front of me that I could not close. It was about this time with 2/10ths or less of the race to go that I spotted Tom, Jan, Leslie and my mom Shirley screaming and yelling to "Run Forest Run!!!" and wouldn't you know it that was exactly the inspiration I needed at that moment. In that split second of eye contact I had no energy to shout back or even raise my arms in acknowledgement but my shoes lit up with the wings of Mercury and lifted me to the banner where the clock read 3:14:45... yep just 15 seconds away from the cutoff! I crossed the line with my chip time of 3:14:06 and I could finally give the appropriate tribal "WootWoot" allowed to finishing athletes along with the raised fist pumping to show not just a finish but a "I'm going to Boston" confirmation.

The California International Marathon was a fabulous event. The Expo itself was hap-hazard and has need to improve in many ways, but the support, cheering and policing of streets along the way was very impressive and assured every participant along the way a safe and perfect opportunity for the perfect race. Co-incidentally our weather that day was also fantastic and the race become only about you and the connection to the road in front of you, whatever was accomplished this day was because of your inner drive and spirit, nothing would get in the way.

With this running high of Boston and CIM now accomplished I need to double time the mileage as I prepare for the Avalon 50 on 1/12/08!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Quicksilver 50/50 - Memories from my first ultra

Ok, I know this is old information but I am about to embark on some very new territory and distances. But before I did I found it helpful to relive the memories of my first "Ultra" distance event with my uncle Bill Eilers. Now It will be Jennifer Henderson (AC100 winner amongst many other events) who will I will be on the heels of for my next adventure; the Avalon 50 miler!

Quicksilver Ultra (50k) - May 13, 2006 - Crazy? probably. This is the race that Uncle's running club sponsors, and it should be a worthy adventure as it would be my first Ultramarathon! Stay tuned for updates. WOO HOO - Not only did I complete my first Ultra Marathon but I took 3rd place overall of first time Ultra runners and 3rd place in my division with a time of 5:41:45. A shiny new 3rd place plaque and Quicksilver medallion proudly adorn my running wall . If you have some pictures from this even that you would like to share please send them to me for posting.Check for some Race Pics from Quicksilver 50k 2006 5/15/06 - Well, it took me a couple of days to figure out where I am, not to mention what I did just a couple of days ago. Turns out that all the warning and advice about running a trail ultra-marathon were totally accurate. Now if only I had taken ALL of the advice no doubt I would have faired even better. Though I must tell you that this was yet another incredible and emotional time for me. To think, sleep, eat, and dream Ultra Marathon for six months made the reality that much sweeter. Many many thanks go out to everyone for there amazing support during the day. My mom for coming out to see the big finish and my Bro for skipping away from work to also catch a photo-finish. Uncle and Auntie for putting me up for the night and great pre-race dinner of home-cooking. My crazy wife and her parents for driving 500 miles overnight just to be at the finish line. I love all you guys for helping me to make this happen. Uncle Bill and his running club were a big help by not letting me get off my ass all day on Friday, so all I did was fill water jugs. While I watched them enjoy beers in the sun on a hot day I got a lot of 'rib poking' and must admit it was the best fun i've had in a long time and I really took a liking to those guys. I would run with any of those gentlemen any day of the week as they are the tightest knit group of running friends I've had the pleasure of meeting. When I passed them at the aid stations along the way they were quick to look out for me by making sure I was headed the right direction (of which I usually was not) and they kept me well fed with potatoes and salt. One way I knew what direction to head was by hearing the Oscar Meyer Weiner song by non other than Ephraim Rosemberg, "Thanks Ephraim" I now know why you are an inspiration and 'guru' to my Uncle Bill Eilers. I have so so much more to tell about this race and what an affirmation it gave me that it may show up in "Huckleberry 2000" because it would make Wins proud!... But for now it's back to drinking beer and learning how to walk again since my whole body aches.

Friday, October 26, 2007

All Clear and trying to get back to running!

It has been a long and challenging week for all residents of Southern California. Fire still blazes around the county but most of them now have a sufficient containment that we are no longer threatened.

The air quality is going to be poor for a while so we are trying to stay indoors and minimizing aerobic activity while in the smoke filled air.

All of us have felt very cooped up and we continue to host an evacuated family in addition to Leslie's parents who were also in an evacuated area. No structure damage to any of these folks, but the cleanup of ash and soot will require some effort.

As I have returned to work and start to get back in touch with families and friends we are continuing to listen of saddening stories and frightening experiences of evacuations and what it was like to be so close (some just within blocks away). Also sad is that one of my favorite Ultra training runs in Blue Sky Reserve has been burned away and it will be some time before I can return there for trail running. This is not uncommon in much of San Diego county though. Most trails anywhere within where I or the club will run has been devastated and leveled by fire.

Just like anything else though we are determined as a society and will rebuild and move on because today is a new day. Today is one more day of healing and recovery for our beautiful city, and in time this will come to pass as a memory that we have learned from. Our strength of community and endless outpouring of support and volunteering makes us stronger.

Thanks again to all the friends and family who have been calling, it feels great to know all of you are watching out for us. We are safe and have no problems and will spend this coming weekend with respirator masks for the cleanup of ash that is all around the house and street.

..next time I log in here let's hope we are able to be out running again and can get on track for CAL International which is just a few short weeks away!


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Still Burning...

Well they did warn people not to become too complacent in all this craziness of wildfires. Of course I come into the office today, which is the first day we have re-opened for business since the fires began, and now I am continuing to see updates of just 20 minutes ago that fires around our area are still burning. Thankfully much of the ones still burning are on Camp Pendleton property, which means no political BS or lobbying for air support. The Marines are very quick and efficient and dousing these fires within their own boundaries.

While I sit here trying to get updates I have found this map quite handy at learning of any new activity: Google FireMap

Whew! we are safe and not evacuated

Yesterday was quite a frightening experience. About 2pm a third fire broke out on Camp Pendleton at the Back (East) gate entrance. It just so happens that we actually live approximately one mile from that entrance.
*picture at left was taken while standing on my porch and it was a stone throw away in height, with the fire not much further away it seemed.
It only took a casual glance out the front window to see the bellows of black smoke quickly filling the sky. It grew in proportion and darkness exponentially quick, making it even more disconcerting. We did not want to jump to a conclusion since these things always look closer than they may be, so we hopped in the car to drive about three blocks away to the top of our hill for a peek... only to discover that the streets had already been closed and blocked by our local police. They were allowing people to leave the neighborhood but nobody was coming in!

We drove back to the house and got the cars facing the street and started to pack up. At that time the neighbor across the street came over to tell us, and everyone else standing outside wondering what to do, that he could now see the flames from his house. No sooner was this mentioned and about a dozen huge military helicopters with water drop buckets began circling the new fire with attempts to extinguish.

As our evacuee family staying with us and myself stood on the front porch while helicopters flew about 50 feet directly overhead of our house, we stood in amazement, and after a couple of loops of this we again realized we have to get our gear packed and ready to head. The black smoke and fire was obviously running running towards us as we could determine not only by the winds blowing South of us (which was bad) but also the circles the copters were taking for their drops.

When we turned our attention away from the sky we then realized the size of the ash falling was a little smaller than a dime and continuing to give us new ground cover over the existing ash already on the ground.

In any case though we quickly became grateful for being so close to a military encampment because we realized they have an amazing set of resources. All of the above transpired in a matter of 30-60 minutes and they had set an operation in motion that doused the fire extremely quickly, and giving us a great level of relief. The major downside though was that being it was on a military base we had absolutely no news coverage or reports other than what we could see. Watching helicopters with water buckets you don't need to be a scientist to know the best thing is to get out!

Through the night though we stood watchful shifts for flare-ups and wind shifts; not to mention the Fallbrook fire still burns with minimum containment. Fallbrook is still our neighboring city to the East so all of us are still on watch and our evacuees are still under formal evacuation and their streets are closed.
To all my friends and family we cannot thank all of you enough for the incredible outpouring of support and offers of housing. We are also getting word from most of our friends and co-workers in the devastation and evacuation areas that they are returning to their homes and to this point have not heard of any major losses in personal safety or homes and belongings.

We continue to watch and be prepared but we must get back to our lives and keep the city running.

Thank You again to everyone who has been in contact with us over this difficult time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yikes it's my street and were all packing to evacuate since this housing development is within the evacuation zone.

Firestorm San Diego 2007

Just four years ago, we lived through a huge wildfire situation where it almost felt like San Diego itself was on fire from all vantage points. Hard to imagine that we could find or experience anything worse in such a short amount of time again.

Now it's October 20th, 2007 and I'm heading home after spending 30+ hours volunteering at the Sunrise Aid Station for the 100 Mile San Diego Endurance Run through the Cuyamaca Mountains, yes, the very one which has pretty much now burned. Sunday 10/21 I was driving home through highway #79 listening to live fire reports about a little fir burning which at the time was not hardly news worthy. By the time I got home (and had a little nap) the fire turned into an out of control blaze that was growing wildly with the Santa Ana winds that began to whip up on Saturday evening.

The blaze continues even as I write this. At this time we are still in a 'safe' zone, one of the few in teh county. Our worst experience so far at this point is that the fire burns to the South, East, and North of us and the winds have been blowing West but the onshore flow is bringing them back around to the East, causing an uncomfortable continuation of the smoke filled air and everyone is still coughing and hacking, but we have not been under mandatory evacuation.
At one point on Monday evening we were under a voluntary evacuation. The notice was about 2AM but lifted shortly after so we remain in our own home with all windows sealed for smoke and ash which also continues to rain down on us. It has made for the last several days to be almost surreal but thankfully this morning (10/24/07 8AM) I can see some patchy blue skies and the sunrise is visible though still hazy.

Most of my friends and co-workers have all been displaced and are evacuated at all different areas around the county. We have continued to be a safe haven and are also housing an evacuated family and pets in our home. We are proud and thankful to still have this to offer to those who have or may still be in danger of losing their 'shelter'.

My company has graciously (and even mandated) that all San Diego employees remain home and telecommute if possible. This has been a big help for us to be able to help others. The fires in Camp Pendleton are still quite close to us and at one point actually crossed 8 lanes of the 5 freeway. Reporters and firemen were reporting that these fires would likely burn out when they hit the oceans coastline...scary!

We have had limited cell-phone coverage and intermittent internet access but all of that is stabilizing as of late yesterday, so I'm thinking and hoping that this brings us closer to better containment. We continue to vigilantly watch the progress but are confident all will be welll by the end of the day or week. The fires will not be out or fully controlled until the end of the month but each passing hour puts further and further from harms way.

* I was not able to get some good pics, but their are many albums already posted with some good images of the events as they unfolded.. such as this album (where I got the image above)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sunrise Aid Volunteer @ SD100

On 10/20/07 I volunteered with the SD100 at the Sunrise aid station. It started back at Mt. Disappointment when I had the pleasure of running with Jennifer Harris (AC100 is just one of the many wins and runs she has completed).

Jennifer runs an aid station at the SD100 that I though would be a lot of fun to take part in plus I really wanted to see what it took to run a 100 miler. Our station was at approximately mile 56 of the race. I reported to my station at 1pm on Saturday which was only about 2 hours before the first person came through which was also the race winner, Karl Meltzer, he was clearly on a mission as I barely had time to refill the water bottle before he cleared our station.

What I saw was an amazing determination of all the runners and their spirits were high. The combination of runners spirit the great ham radio vounteers and the other volunteers at the Sunrise station which included David Henderson and Norm Haines (a Badwater Solo finisher). We had a great time and although I found it to be a hectic pace the volunteers and the individual race crews did a fabulous job and keeping things running efficiently.

I now can say that I understand what it's like to be on the other side. Typically I have run the events but now as a volunteer it was enlightening to see the level of work, planning, and donations that go into this... So continue to tell your race volunteers "Thank You!" because it never gets old and everyone whether running or volunteering deserves a pat on the back.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Infinite Road to Somewhere

Being healthy is something all of us want but running is not really the method all of us choose to get there; for myself running does the trick but the important thing is that you find something to get aerobic! Running does not have to be extreme but for some reason I’m on a mission to find the limits of my own body and have found the world of Ultra Trail Running to be just the thing to push my buttons lately (Ultra Marathon is defined as any foot race which exceeds the Standard Marathon distance of 26.2 ).

The inspiration to keep putting one foot in front of the other at a rapid pace (sometimes called “Running”) shows no sign of letting up. The last couple of months were rather interesting since it included two more Ultra Marathons at the 50K distance, very aptly named “Mt. Disappointment” and “Noble Canyon”, kind of a sick joke… but then again what kind of person runs that far in the first place!?

Clearly for those who are on the other side of the fence you can see that Ultra runners are in a class by themselves and a little mental to boot, and I’ll be the first to admit it. Which leads me to the fact of how I am absolutely shocked at our abilities to find ourselves cheerleaders, particularly spouses and partners, who in their own right I think are a bit mental as well. I say this with an air of being in slight awe that someone is willing to sit on their duff for a very long period of time in the middle of nowhere while wondering just where in the heck you are (as they are foot tapping with anticipation of getting to see the slightly uneventful finish).

I could go on and on here and it’s easy to find plenty of antecdotes on the internet about running; but my main purpose is really to prove that even mere mortals, myself included, can perform amazing goals. Whether you do a 5K walk or a Full Ironman triathlon the key is to get out there and support your community. It does not matter if it takes you 24 minutes or 24 hours because the real heroes here are the ones just brave enough to toe-the-start-line.

Happy Trails,

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

It's Noble to finish Noble

Yep, another one down and it feels great! Well no PR (5:41) for the 50K it was still a great race that I'd like to do again. In fact it has me considering the 100 miler....mmm maybe a little too ambitious but we shall see.

Though if I keep getting the great support from Leslie that I have been, then anything is possible. At this race we had good friends and a cool swimming pool to heal in after words, and the pool even had a floating bar! what could be better after a 50K but red meat, beer, and a swimming pool.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My "woobie"

Way tougher than expected

Wow, Mt Disappointment is done... finally!
Don't get me wrong it was an excellent race with great support (Thank You to all the volunteers and RD Gary). The challenge of this course was legendary, and had I known in advance the level of challenge over the last 5 miles I may not have convinced Kristen my running-mate of the day to be taking on her first Ultra.

But hey it's all part of why we do these things, personal fulfillment and the can-do attitude. Here's proof of our finish to an excellent day.

Read an excellent write up as I could not describe it any better than "The Run Down"

OK time to get some rest before the next Ultra this weekend at Noble Canyon. Happy Trails friends

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Races so far in 2007

I knew I was feeling a little tired and it made me start thinking about not the training miles covered; or even the time and mileage that I spend coaching; but just about what crazy accomplishments we had so far this year!

And if that's not enough their is still more before the year is finished out!
Whew... maybe less races next year, we'll see. So many great races to still accomplish I can't stop now.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Not that I really intend to maintain this on a daily basis, I do hope to at least make some interval comments. It's a way for me and you (whoever you are) to make an appearance in webland.

Recent Events to speak of:
8/11/07 Mt Dissapointment 50K - Finished!