Gear Review: Badlands Impact Jacket
Posted by

During the 2012 Wyoming Elk Season, I had a chance to test out the new Badlands Impact Jacket. On the hunt we traveled from 7500 to 9900 feet in elevation in temps that were at a high of 65 degrees F in the beginning down low and as low as 10 degrees F on the final days of the hunt.

Continue…. (more…)

Hunt Report: 2012 Wyoming Elk with the “Martin Boys”
Posted by

A fire in the woodstove on a 10 degree F morning makes it easier to leave your sleeping bag in elk camp.

The second year of hunting a “new” part of Wyoming brings a certain sense of having to prove to one’s self that any success the previous year was not beginner’s luck. There is also the element of not wanting to repeat mistakes from the previous year as well. In many ways hunting this year was more stressful than last year now that there were “expectations”…

CONTINUE…….

(more…)

Mudman 2012 (First Annual)
Posted by

Headed for the finishing chute. Photo by Leigh Meyer

” I don’t enter events during Hunting Season”

These were my words in June when the organizers of Vineman (the best 70.3 and 140.6 mile triathlons on the West Coast) announced they were going to put on a Mud run, aptly named “Mudman” just a mere 2 miles from my front door.

Continue….

 

(more…)

2012 A ZONE Deer Season comes to an end
Posted by

So I had chalked up Azone last weekend as another Weekend of honeydo’s. Worked until 1:00 pm and then went to the Mexican restaurant for a midday Margarita and burrito. As I take my first sip of my “no salt, on the rocks” concoction my phone rings. it’s my bowhunting buddy inviting me on a last minute hunt in Sonoma County. So I get the Burrito to go and hustle home to grab my bow and my bedroll. I’m crunching along in the Madrone leaves that night by 5:30. No game spotted except the remnants of a turkey spread over a half acre.

Continue….

 

(more…)

Fall is a Busy time…
Posted by

You may have noticed my posts have tailed off. In August and September, the local deer season is open, the kids are back in school, We have two kids in sports after school, so time is at a premium.

Running: I don’t enter events that I need to train for after August 15th. My training schedule is often interrupted with weekend hunts. I run to hunt better. That said, I will be doing the MudMan Obstacle course On Sept. 23rd 2012

Hunting: Forest fires have really impacted access to some of my local spots. If they didn’t burn, then visibility is so bad from smoke, glassing is pointless. We did ride in Modoc County to get eyes on some country for a draw tag for my father. We will leave for Wyoming elk on September 27th.

Product reviews: Look for words and pictures on the Impact Jacket, and Badlands Element Base Layers in a future column…

PCTR Refund Update
Posted by

True to their word, John and Maureen Brooks refunded the entry fee from the Skyline to Sea Trail race in June. I received the check dated September 5th.

Let it be clear, they are rectifying cancellations that occurred PRIOR to them taking over PCTR. I have to give them credit for doing their part to improve the reputation of the Brand PCTR. Best wishes in their upcoming races.

PCTR Dead or Alive?
Posted by

Pacific Coast Trail runs, owned by Sarah Spelt has had a rough year or more financially.

A Trail Runner’s Blog, by Scott Dunlap detailed the difficulties faced by Pacific Coast Trail Runs (PCTR) in the end of 2011

.

To say that 2011 has been a tough year for PCTR would be an understatement of ultra proportions – cancelled races, a no show for an event, tens of thousands of dollars in refunds in limbo, a rotating door of co-RD’s, and more – any one of these would be enough to set the tombstone on even the best event management company.

Despite the difficulties, I saw the fact that the organization was trying to rectify the situation (no-shows and cancelled races) and I registered for the Skyline to Sea 50k. From January to May, reports rolled in that the events were happening without a hitch. Then on June 5th, six days before my race a status popped up on my Facebook Page.

Pacific Coast Trail Runs
I am beyond sorry to announce that I am forced to close the doors at PCTR, effective immediately. As many of you know, I have dealt with some very difficult obstacles these past few years which have taken their toll, in many ways, on me and on PCTR. Although they were exacerbated at the end of last year, I truly believed that PCTR could be turned around through the influx of money, the hard work of a few of us, and the support of my friends, but it just wasn’t to be. As a business, PCTR can no longer function.

I know that many runners/entrants will be upset with this decision, but please try to keep in mind that, for each of you, this is a race in your life, but for me, for over 12 years, this has been my life. Moving forward, I am hopeful that other RDs who are friends of mine will take over the upcoming events, and that those of you who have already planned to run will still be able to do so. Thank you for your understanding.

The Words “I am forced to close the doors at PCTR, effective immediately” meant to me that the company was out of business with no ability or intent to refund fees they had received. The would put on no other events. I was SOL…

Fortunately Coastal Trail Runs (the former husband of PCTR owner Sarah Spelt) took over the permit and put on the race, at no additional cost to the registered runners. I was able to finish my first 50k and my first Coastal trail run. I was perturbed that I never received an official email from PCTR, and that I spent two days of mental anguish thinking that my six months of training was for naught. I was resigned to the fact I would never see my Skyline entry money. I imagined that the head of PCTR had left in the dark of the night and was living in some small beachside town in Mexico under an assumed name.

Fast forward to August 20th, 2012. Seventy five days after PCTR declared itself DEAD. When the following words appeared on the PCTR facebook page:

We are happy to announce that PCTR is up and running again! Registration is now open for the Headlands Marathon, 50 Mile, and 100 Mile Endurance Runs. Registration for other 2012 races and early 2013 races will open soon.

We are excited to have new management with the same fabulous courses and friendly atmosphere.
You can expect the same and new spectacular venues with well-marked trails, fully stocked aid stations, and distinctive shirt designs. In addition, we now have the best refund policy in trail running.

As you know, PCTR has grown tremendously with the support and dedication of Sarah Spelt since 2000. We would like to introduce John Brooks, as our new race director, and Maureen Brooks, who will be taking care of runner customer service and administration. John is a lifelong endurance athlete. He has participated in Ironman World Championships, Western States Endurance Run, and is a two-time Ultraman finisher. He is experienced in sports event management, and has helped at many PCTR events over the years.

Last, you will notice that Mt. Diablo is no longer on the calendar for next month, as that date was released before the transition to new PCTR management. We will be contacting the entrants in the next 48 hours with their options.

I commented that I wished PCTR no ill will, but the history of cancelled races, no shows, and no refunds had tarnished the PCTR name and that I would not be participating for that reason. My comment was deleted, but luckily a few friends called them on it.

A few moments later a post read “to discuss a refund for a past event, please write to: pacificcoasttrailruns@gmail.com. Thanks!”

I sent off an email and I await the response of PCTR. If they come through with a refund I will certainly pass the news along. To my way of thinking that is the first step to recovery of the company. Restore the faith of a disenchanted group of over 300 runners who had to change their plans and are owed fees from a company who did not deliver. This attitude of “everything is better now, let’s forget the bad stuff that happened in the past” (75 days ago) angers me.

The name of PCTR has been tarnished by the actions of an owner and race director who let down a number of people three times in six months. Had it not been my good experiences in my prior five years running PCTR races, it is unlikely I would have given them the benefit of the doubt.

Race Report: Skyline to Sea 50k
Posted by

 

This was the race that almost didn’t happen.

I had been training for months, and it was the Monday before the race when I got the phone call from my training partner Liana. She told me over the phone that the Race Director, Sarah Spelt had cancelled the race, and shut down Pacific Coast Trail Runs.

I felt as if I had been kicked in the stomach. All that time spent training with June 10th in my sights. I began to downplay it as if the race wasn’t important. “I didn’t want to run it anyway” I told myself. I started thinking about what mileage I would run locally that Sunday. Friends offered their condolences as if I had lost a close family member.

Within two days we received news that Wendell Doman, of Coastal Trail runs, had permission from the Head Ranger of Big Basin State Park to put on the race. In four days Wendell put together finishers’ awards, tech shirts, volunteers and buses to the Start. This race was going to happen. In a mad scramble we re-booked our hotel rooms and the show WOULD go on!

On Saturday afternoon, I met my training partner Liana and her beau, Shawn for the drive to Santa Cruz. We stopped in Palo Alto at Zombie Runner to pick up our Race numbers and technical shirts. We checked into our hotel, drove out to the Finish area, and had an Italian pasta dinner, before we turned in early. The Weather prediction was clear and warm

Sunday morning we arrived at the bus pickup point at 6:15 am. It was clear and warming even at the coast. The runners filled two school buses which took us to Saratoga Gap, 75 minutes north. 30 miles inland it was sunny and warm as well, with a slight westerly breeze. I tried not to think about what the high would be as we were on the trail.

Liana is all smiles at the start, despite the warm temperatures.

I had my Camelbak 3L reservoir filled with ice in my Badlands Reactor pack, as well as a 20oz. handheld Camelbak Podium Chill bottle. Six energy gels were in my pockets along with a small handful of Endurolytes. I planned to take one capsule every 30 minutes.

Over 200 runners lined up at the Start of the Skyline to Sea trail, and at 9:00 am sharp we were on our way.

The first 10k was downhill. 1710 feet of elevation loss, and only 455 of gain. I let gravity pull me along and I passed runners who were more cautious on the down grades. I made sure to monitor my respirations and only go at a pace that I could maintain conversation. I arrived at the Waterman Gap aid station 10.5 km later in 68 minutes, refilled my handheld and snacked at a trot on graham crackers from the table. Then the trail began to climb.

Headed out after the Waterman Gap aid station thinking about the uphill ahead. Photo by Dan Walters.

In the next 7.4 km the trail climbed over 1000 feet with seldom flat or downhill portions. I walked long climbs with focus and resolve and the euphoria of single track downhills was quickly forgotten. As I picked up the pace just before the China Grade aid station, I felt the twitch of my calf muscles starting to seize, and I thought to myself….”Uh oh, that can’t be good.” I quickly downed two Enduralytes and grabbed boiled potatoes and table salt. I had 32 kilometers (19.2 miles) left and my leg muscles were rebelling.

As I ran/walked/ scrambled along the most technical portion of the trail, my legs felt as if they had snakes moving through them. Stepping up caused the muscles to catch and cramp, and stabbing pains developed in my quadriceps and Ilio-Tibial area. I didn’t enjoy the 1,100 ft descent into the Gazos Creek Aid station. No longer was I worried about pace, I was focused on surviving. At this point I knew walking was my only hope. I walked with focus and purpose even as faster runners passed me. I began seeing orange ribbons before the Gazos aid, and knew that a four-and-a half mile loop (that was rumored to feel like six) was the next leg.

After miles of cramps I added sports drink to my Camelbak Reservoir at the Gazos Creek Aid Station. Photo by Dan Walters.

At Gazos, I made the decision to tackle the loop rather than bypass it as the marathon runners were. I’d signed up for an ultra, and I was going to do it until I could go no more. I switched to sports drink to try to gain ground on the electrolyte front, ate more potatoes and salt, and told the attendants, I’d be back for my orange rubber band that indicated an ultra runner.

My mind set at that point was only to get that damn rubber band. I just had 4.5 miles, and 775 feet of elevation gain and loss before I was back there. I was well ahead of the cutoff time and I was determined to go until I could go no more. The long hot climb was brutal, and I couldn’t run downhill without cramps ripping through my legs, but I still managed to put one foot infront of the other repeatedly.

On my second time into Gazos I was more upbeat. I managed to pass other runners at a walk along this stretch. The cramps, while painful, became constant, and more bearable, although no less severe. I joked to another runner that we were discovering new levels of pain tolerance. With 8.5 MILES of trail before the next aid Station, and 10 miles to the finish, the volunteers recommended I fill up all my liquid. I obliged with sports drink in my reservoir, and water in my handheld. I headed towards Berry Falls at a determined pace, running when I could, but power walking much of it.

After finishing the 4.5 mile loop we loaded up with food and liquid and had ten more miles to finish. Photo by Dan Walters

I drained every drop of my liquid on that stretch. The pain in my legs was constant now. As I made my way down rock steps cut into the cliff I saw people sitting on a bench enjoying the view of Berry Falls I remember saying “Oh, that’s nice” when in my mind I was happy that it meant I was only six miles from the finish.

While the upper portion of the trail was a goat track, the lower portion widened into a fire road. I overtook more runners who had run out of steam, and it buoyed my spirit. I WAS going to finish, and it was relentless forward progress that was going to get me there. Miniscule rocks felt like boulders on my throbbing toes, ribbons that were ten minutes apart for runners along the trail, took me 15 minutes to see. I was alone for much of the time and when I felt anxious about not seeing ribbons along the trail, I would ask hikers coming the other way “Runners ahead?” and they would nod dumbly. I must have been a sight.

When the trail broke into the open, I could see the valley below me and smell the ocean. I could hear the crowd cheering and Wendell announcing names on a bull horn. Other runners also commented about this point of the trail when they thought the same as I, “Oh no I’m too high! I missed the trail!”

At the finish line after a long day. Photo by Coastal Trail Runs.

I was thankful it dropped into the valley and I saw my friends Liana and Shawn as they pointed to the finish to their right. I crossed the finish line at 7 hours and 11 minutes. To say I was happy would be an understatement. Instantly the pain was gone from my legs it seemed (not really but it was sure dulled).

Liana, Suzanne and I at the finish line. Friendships forged on the trail. Photo by Dan Walters.

After a celebratory beer, and a hug from Liana (who finished in 6:48), we watched fellow Fleet Feet Santa Rosa runner Suzanne finish. Her husband Dan, (a multiple Ironman distance triathlon finisher) congratulated us on our finish, and Suzanne finished shortly after.

From the finish line we walked to Waddell Beach where we soaked our sore tired legs in the surf, as kite surfers rode the wind and waves. It was a great finish to an epic day.  On the drive back to Santa Cruz for the night I thought about all the people who made achieving this goal possible.

  • Rhonda Roman and the Staff of Fleet Feet Santa Rosa.  You constantly encouraged, admonished, and evaluated us as we prepared for this journey.  I felt like I had an entire support crew at my fingertips if i ran into any issues.
  • My traveling partners, Liana and Shawn. You two were great companions on this adventure.  Shawn, I was so glad you were there for us especially when it came time to drive home.  Your support was a vital part of getting this done.
  • My training partners, AKA the “Headlampers” .  Knowing you guys would be with me at 6:00 am to mark the trail kept me motivated on Long run days.  Doug, Ericka, Jeff, Lori, and Patrick constantly set the performance bar high and challenged me to improve to keep up.
  • My Trail Training Group buddies.  Thanks for all the words of encouragement and even your challenging my readiness for this event.  It kept me motivated to continue to train hard because I knew you all were watching.
  • My family for putting up with late nights, early morning runs, me running somewhere, picking you up sweaty and tired from school or practice.  I appreciate your patience and tolerance  of my training schedule even if you don’t understand.
  • Wendell Doman, of Coastal Trail Runs.  You my friend are a class act and what you did to allow the 200+ of us who registered to run this event is the single greatest thing I have witnessed in race management.  Readers should know Coastal did not charge any registered runners a single penny in addition to the fees paid to the previous RD.   You have gained a new volunteer, publicist and frequent runner from your actions last week.  Thank You.
Daily Running Log May 28-June 3 2012
Posted by

This wek was my first official Taper Week of two weeks where I reduced my mileage to store up energy and have well rested and repaired legs for the Race June 10th.

Monday– Around the block run that just got done.  Think I was coming down with something.

Wednesday–  A windy run that reminded me; No matter how poorly I feel at the start of the run, I ALWAYS feel better at the end of one.

Sunday– My first real trail run of my taper week, and a great chance to hang out with my fellow trail runners whom are training for the Angel Island 25k on August 18th.  many of them I’ve trained with in past years so it is enjoyable to catch up with them again.

Since I was doing a 75 minute max run, today’s 6.8 mile course was perfect.  Some elevation, lots of single track and plenty of rocks to dance around.  I was pleased that my mile splits got shorter and shorter the further I went.  I found my rhythm once I crested the uphill, and each mile got easier.  i have to admit though, in the downhill sections the 2 miles before the end, two of my female trail partners kept me motivating  since I didn’t want to get “chicked”.  Finished feeling good with plenty left in the tank.

Weekly total 18.2 miles

May Mileage total; 146 miles

The Trail Runner Greeting: “Hey Bud, Bub or Babe”?
Posted by

We are going to pass on the trail in opposite directions, which greeting should I use?

When running or hiking with a purpose along a trail, inevitably you will encounter someone going the opposite way.  This is significant in trail running, as opposed to running on an urban path where you come across too numerous amounts of people to address.

We seek out trails for the solitude, but we should have the politeness to acknowledge other runners presence in the same place doing the same activity at the same time. An acknowledgement of kinship if you will.

Now especially if running, there is not time, or breath for an extended greeting and salutation to our brother of the trail. A short one to three syllable greeting is preferred.

“Mornin’ “
“Evenin’ “
“Nice run”

Seem to be the run of the mill greeting between strangers. But what about those regulars you see usually at the same time in some far off spot known only to those trail runners hard core enough to seek them out? You may have met them socially at a race or at the shoe store picking up packets for a local event. You wouldn’t say you are on a first name basis, but you recognize them.

This is where the “Hey…” greeting comes in.

When I see a fellow male trail runner I recognize (usually because he finished before me and was drinking a beer at the finish line when I crossed ) from a couple of weeks ago. I will say in one breath with a a forceful exhale as I pass

“Hey, Bud”

This could be interpreted as being the equivalent of a Tinyurl for :

“Hello Brother in Arms. I recognize you and our joint pursuit of trail running excellence. Continue your conquering of this trail on this glorious day, and may you live long and prosper in good health.”

As you can see, my abbreviated two syllable greeting may not be literally translated word for word, but it is like the Harley riders low wave, or the knights salute, or the jockey raising his crop to another. A greeting of comrades in arms.

If the person being addressed is the junior in the exchange, the senior may use the greeting

“Hey Bub..”

While this may seem like a disparaging remark, it really is acknowledging that the junior in the exchange is an up and comer, and the senior recognizes their talent and potential. When an octogenarian who has logged over 300,000 training miles says “Hey Bub!” to me as we pass going the opposite direction on a single track, I feel honored to be addressed by the Old Guard.

The trickiest greeting to master tone, timing, wording and emphasis has got to be the opposite sex. Nothing is creepier than some sweaty guy breathing heavy saying “HEEEEY LAAADIES…” This is where I tend to be very conservative.

Now there are women who run the same trails I do who do it in a manner I truly admire.  Their female friends tell them things like “Bitch, you are HAWT” as they are truckin’ down the trail. I obviously cannot say that in good taste but I want to convey my respect in the same way I would to a male counterpart. So in addition to saying

” Hello Sister in Arms. I recognize you and our joint pursuit of trail running excellence. Continue your conquering of this trail on this glorious day, and may you live long and prosper in good health.”

I want to add:

” You look absolutely wonderful, and your Husband/Boyfriend is lucky to be seen with you, oh and tell him we need to have a beer sometime.”

in the brief moment we pass in opposite directions along the trail that is all distilled into;

“Hey Babe”

How chauvinistic can I get?  I can imagine the horror of the unfamiliar runner to be addressed in such a flip and demeaning remark!  Rest assured, it is a small sorority that is addressed in such a manner.  usually a close friend, or the significant other of one.  Generally a female, I would choose for a sister.

One of the guys…only pretty… and with class.

In the opposite case, when I get a “Hey Babe” from a female runner it usually means:

“Glad you made it back out here again. I thought I ran your ass into the ground last week but it looks like you might be tough enough hang.   I’ll run with you again sometime and I’ll give you the last gel out of my running bra if you promise to save me one wet wipe I know you have secretly stashed because you had to cut off the top of your sock that one time, but I won’t tell anyone.”

It all takes familiarity and the common goal of being out on the trail, chasing excellence.  So if I have addressed you with one of these terms, and there was any doubt to the inference, let there be no more.

Infolinks 2013