Monday, November 26, 2007


Saturday was the Santa Barbara 9 Trails race, "the 35 miler that runs like a 50." With ~11,000 feet of climb and warm afternoon temps, that statement was accurate although I'd say it runs like a HARD 50. My finishing time of 8:42 (!!) was 45 minutes slower than JFK the previous weekend! Of course, that -- having just run JFK -- played into SB's difficulty for me. The scenery was beautiful, however, and I enjoyed running many miles with Diana, Gretchen, and Juliet. Here I am, happy to be finished, thinking "damn, that took a lot longer than expected!"

Giggling with buddy Diana at the finish line. She flew out here from PA to run 9 Trails and stayed with us for the weekend. Even Diana thought it was difficult, and SHE completed Hardrock this year. (I think she got her money's worth -- heehee.)
Gibraltor aid station angel and masseuse Deb working on my back at mile 26. It was hard to leave! (This and next photo courtesy of Deb.)

Trying to keep up with fluids and electrolytes, only marginally successful.

Big thank you to RD Luis Escobar and his crew. They even had miso/seaweed/tofu soup and New Belgium brew at the finish line -- yum! Results

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

JFK -- finish #12

The JFK 50 miler was my first ultra in 1992. This was back in the day of Buzz Sawyer's RD'ship, no aid stations, & an entry fee of $15 which got you a 50/50 T shirt emblazoned with the profile of JFK himself. I was 26 years old and a total ultra greenhorn having completed only one marathon -- that being my longest run -- prior to the event. My plan was to go as far as I was able, thinking about 30 miles, but ultra vet friends Richard, Dennis, and Mary showed me how to incorporate walk breaks, how it was possible to eat and continue running, and how to -- I hate this term, but -- dig deep to make it to the finish line. The four of us ran most of the race together, with Richard and I crossing the finish line in 10 hours & 10 minutes. I cried (in fact, it's been the only finish line where I've cried!) and was on Cloud 9 for weeks afterward.

Over the years I completed a bunch of ultras but none as many times as JFK. Looking through old training journals, I recorded JFK finishes in 1993 (9:21), 1995 (9:15), 1997 (8:23), 1998 (7:39), 1999 (7:48), 2000 (7:22), 2001 (7:19), 2002 (8:07), 2004 (7:40), and 2005 (7:24). I won the event in 1999 and, thus, received free entry for life, one of the perks of JFK.

Chris and I decided to return this year only because friend Anstr (#1134) was running his 25th consecutive JFK 50! (Wow, he must be nuts.)

All things considered my race went well. I started off pretty conservatively on the initial road and Appalachian Trail sections, hitting the Towpath around 2:45-2:50. From that point on, I don't believe more than a couple of people passed me -- I ran negative splits. :) Chris did a super job of crewing. I ran the Towpath in a rather leisurely ~4 hours and upon hitting the asphalt at mile 41.5, had about 1:15 to make it to the finish in under 8 hours. I made it with 3 minutes to spare. It wasn't my fastest JFK, but for whatever reason I've never felt better running it. Results. I was 77th out of 1,079 (!) finishers -- Hey, this is "AMERICA'S ULTRAMARATHON" (in RD Mike Spinnler's mind at least).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom

I had a good time running some of my old routes in Vermont last week. These photographs were taken in the middle of the Kingdom Trails network in Burke and Lyndon. Kingdom Trails has, hands down, THE best singletrack for mountain biking I've ever ridden (this includes Moab and Crested Butte!). The running is pretty sweet, too. I waited for the morning drizzle to abate before getting in a few miles.

Monday, November 5, 2007

A trip back East

I spent the past 2 weeks back on the East Coast: 4 days in Virginia, 8 in Vermont and New Hampshire visiting family, friends, and my old stomping grounds.

The skies were clear as we flew into Dulles on October 29, providing views of pretty--though perhaps less spectacular than usual due to drought--fall foliage over West Virginia and Virginia. I knew I would have to get out of the metro area and head for the mountains at least once. This year's never-ending summer and high temps on the East Coast seemed to have finally broken after a hefty dose of much-needed rainfall. Indeed, the weather was perfect for running all week. :)

While in Virginia, I got in 3 good runs: the first, a quick 8 miler on the paved Mt. Vernon Trail; the second, 4 hours on the fun, meandering trails of Prince William Forest; and best of all, on Halloween Day, the Browntown Loop in the Shenandoah Mountains. This loop starts on the east side of Shenandoah National Park and is accessed by cruising bucolic country roads the last few miles, a welcome sight for me after going completely and utterly the WRONG way on I-95 upon leaving the hotel in Alexandria, necessitating the, uh... scenic route through DC morning rush hour traffic, adding an extra hour to my anticipated drive time. Gosh, what fun! But I digress...

The Browntown Loop traverses SNP by first climbing the Jordan River, Mt. Marshall, and Bluff Trails, crosses the Appalachian Trail and tops out on Skyline Drive before the payoff: a gently switchbacked cruise down the Browntown Trail and country roads into the tiny hamlet of Browntown and its general store. Here I downed a Coke and refilled my bottles before reclimbing the ridge via Jenkins Gap and descending back to the car. I later found out that the "official" Browntown Loop ascends Lands Run Gap further north, so I cut the loop short by a few miles.
All told I did somewhere around 17-18 miles. The day was a beauty, and I had the entire loop to myself.

The next day I flew to Vermont and had a nice weeklong visit with family and friends. Hurricane Noel stayed far enough south and east of New Hampshire's White Mountains, such that on Saturday 5 nutty friends and I were able to complete the Pemi Loop, 31.5 rough miles with over 9,000 ft. of climbing, including 8 of NH's 4000 footers--Mts. Flume, Liberty, Lincoln, Lafayette, Garfield, South Twin, Bond, and Bondcliff. This was my 6th or 7th time around the Pemigewasset Wilderness, one of my favorite long hikes in the Whites. (The above photograph is of Franconia Ridge looking south.)

The following day 4 of us negotiated Ice Gulch in the Northern Whites. Ice Gulch is a boulder-filled ravine similar to its more famous neighbor to the east, the AT's "most difficult mile," Mahoosuc Notch, and one must employ similar bodily maneuvers in order to traverse its length. The gulch was so named because ice can usually be found deep in the rocks year round. It was a real treat to hike with buddies Michelle and Dave (AT thru-hikers, Class of '05), who are planning to thru-hike the PCT next year!