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. 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.