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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Marin Headlands!

On top of Mt Tam, SF over my left ear.

Hiking above Sausalito.

Our accomodations.

I spent three days at the Marin Headlands Hostel (great place and cheap!) just north of the Golden Gate Bridge with Mrs Runalong. One day was really windy but we still had great hikes and drives around Muir Woods, Mt Tam, Muir Beach, Stinson Beach, Rodeo Beach, etc, etc.

We fixed breakfast and dinner at the Hostel and ate lunch in Sausalito. On Wednesday I ate a little kid for lunch.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Superhumanly fit and slightly deranged. Moi?

Seed Magazine:
Ann Trason, Scott Jurek, Matt Carpenter. These are the megastars of ultra-distance running... If their names are unfamiliar, it’s probably because this type of extreme running is almost universally seen as a fringe sport, the habit of the superhumanly fit, the masochistic, the slightly deranged.

Every Run is a New Adventure

Steve and I did a 3 hour run north of church that included a lot of off-trail running/hiking/probable trespassing. But we had some great views and didn't get shot! We heard shooting, and got chased off an isolated site with a shed and well by two guys in pick-up trucks full of high-quality planting soil. Ran through an abandoned vineyard/winery (Redding is probably not the best climate for that). The wildflowers were amazing, the grass was green, the snow-capped mountains glistened in the deep blue sky on a perfect - sunny but cool - spring day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Help me identify this mysterious blonde!

I put out my camcorder and caught a little bit of her- some sort of ground squirrel? not native to Redding, CA! about 18" long, 600' elevation, diurnal, lives in a burrow. Note coloring, ears, tail. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

I'm a Runner and I Don't Get It!

My last couple runs I was surrounded by wildflowers and trees blossoming. I saw wild turkeys, two bald eagles, a great blue heron, a golden marten, deer... I enjoyed the greenery all around me and the snow-capped mountains on the horizon. I exulted in the changing seasons and in the feeling of being able to run up and down hills with pleasure.

Within a linear mile of me, thousands of people sat in front of their TV's or computers in their hermetically-sealed dwellings. They have to watch their diets (I eat as much as I want, which is a lot); and still gain weight (not me). They complain of being tired all the time and of the various aches and symptoms and conditions associated with growing older. I have lots of energy and am in the best shape of my life (going on 55). Running isn't work, it's a joy.

If I meet one of those people, and they learn that I like to run long distances almost daily, they will often look at me with something like pity and say something condescending like, "Good for you, I just don't get why anyone would choose to run like that." I think they actually feel sorry for me!

Yeah, well, I used to be a non-runner and I remember symptoms and chronic tiredness and staying cooped up because getting out was just too darned demanding and having to watch everything I ate and still adding inches to my waist and worrying about my heart and all that other stuff that was happening to my peers.

I can understand friends who say, "I wish I could run but I can't because (legit reason)" or "I prefer biking/swimming/pogo-sticking" or "I really should but it's hard to get started" (that was me for 20 years). But the ones who think that vigorous exercise would detract from their well-being and enjoyment of life?

Maybe I'm dense, but I just don't get it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Run, Grandpa, Run!

So last Wed we got a call from our daughter in Sacramento- the baby they were seeking to adopt, which they were told would be hospitalized for three more weeks, was suddenly released to go home and surprise, I'm a grandpa. My wife headed down immediately, I planned to follow Friday. Naturally I was thinking about where and when to run while there and thought of AR50- not to enter (too late, too much time commitment), but to pace- but alas, none of my local friends were going down this year and I couldn't find an entrants' list.

Then Robert posted, at that very moment!, a request from a girl who had lost her pacer last minute and wanted a reasonable facsimile to get her through her first 50M, which she had been training very very hard for. I called her, did the interview, and got the job as the best qualified applicant out of a pool of one.

Lainie's parents, sons, husband and various others were crewing her and a friend wanted to pace her but wasn't very fast. Lainie is fast.

My sole pacing experience was for Klas Eklof at Hardrock in '06 and I didn't mess up his run but since I don't generally use pacers I wasn't totally clear on the concept. But I made some guesses and basically figured out what was expected of me- keep her on pace, eating, drinking, peeing, electrolyting, etc. Distract her if she was in pain, help her focus if she wasn't. Encourage, prod if necessary, shut up when uncertain.

She was aiming for a finish between 8 &9 hours, I did an 8:35 last time, so that seemed a good match. She told me she was really aiming for 8:20 (10mpm avg); and based on her prior results that looked like a good goal. I found her parents about 5 seconds before she reached Beal's point (I didn't know what she looked like except 32, 5'0" tall and 97#) and they pointed her out. It was about 9:50 AM, 3:50 into the race. Right smack dab on schedule.

She had been planning to run the first half at a 9:30 mpm pace (which would have got her to BP at about 10:10) and the second half at 10:30 pace but I told her that wasn't realistic at AR. (AR is 27 miles of flat pavement to BP, followed by 23M of rolling trails). With her speed she should be looking at about 3:55 to Beal's and 4:25 from Beal's to finish. So far so good.

We took off from BP and started to get acquainted. When I felt she was a little slow I told her we should stop talking and she should focus on her pace. She got back in the groove and eventually we were able to converse without her slowing down. Eventually she asked me what I do for a living and I told her and she didn't freak out.

I almost committed the unforgiveable sin when she stopped suddenly for a log across the trail- we were moving fast and I was close behind her while we chatted and when she stopped I crashed into her- she managed to get over the log OK, I smashed my shin and fell over the log and onto her foot. I feared I had twisted her ankle or caused some other dream-ending injury. It was a horrible moment. But she was OK. As soon as she got her shoe back on.

The trails were dry, the weather was perfect and it was so fun to run that section of trail faster than usual and feeling better than usual (I've run AR 4 or 5 times). Despite over 700 people in the race, it wasn't at all crowded up here with the speedy people.

Worried about her other pacer's abilities (she was going to take over at Rattlesnake- mile 42) I agreed to come down the big hill from the finish and meet her (the RD assured me it would be OK for her to have an extra pacer after Last Gasp). When I met her, about 2 miles from the finish, she was all alone, having left her pacer at the bottom of the hill.

It is amazing how easy that hill is when you haven't run 48 miles to get there. I spurred her on and she made good time to the top, passing several more runners on the way up. Lainie finished in 8:05, 10th woman overall, and she moved up from 6th to 3rd in her age group after Beal's Point and from 94th to 68th overall.

I'd like to think that this is due to the excellent pacer she had, but it probably has a lot more to do with her 100-mile training weeks. She was consistently strong and steady and really didn't need much from me. Maybe just a little on the hill. Maybe.

Still, I'm 2 for 2 as a pacer at not-screwing-things-up, and once again I had a blast. If there was a place that had ultras every week, and if I lived there, I'd be volunteering for pacing duty every time I wasn't racing. It's about as much fun as you can have for free!

I may be a grandpa, but I've still got my wheels!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Welcome Joshua!

My oldest daughter and her hub have been trying to adopt one or more special needs children. Last week they were told of a baby that would be available and Lori began visiting him in the hospital. He was born in December, three months premature. We have reason to believe his birth mother was a drug user.

He's had several operations, but appears to be doing very well. We were told he might be ready to go home in three weeks or so. Then yesterday when Lori went to visit she was told she could take him home that day! And it wasn't an April Fool's Day joke.


Mrs Runalong is already down there and I'm heading down to Sac tomorrow. Naturally, as long as I'm in town the day of the American River 50 I offered to pace someone during the second half of the race. And I'll be taking my sermon and taxes to work on. But that's all trivia. I can't wait to meet our boy!