Category Archives: run

2011 Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer update

The 2011 Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer meets at Sunset Blvd/Griffth Park Blvd at 745am on Sunday April 10th.

 

Infamous Eldred Street. Hill number 2. (photos from Shawn Bannon)

Since setting the date for the 2011 Feel My Legs, I’m a Racer, I’ve gotten a few questions from people unfamiliar with the event that I want to address.

While there are a few riders ‘racing’ for points, the majority of the people who come out are challenging themselves to the 10 hardest hills I could find in Los Angeles.  We usually get about 50 folks starting, but only 5, maybe 10, actually get any points on the hills.

Obviously being able to climb steep and/or long hills is a requirement to finish this event, but so is a desire to explore neighborhoods and places most people will who live in this great city will never see.  It’s less of a race and more of a group of friends (or soon to be friends!) out for a day of hard riding and exploring.

Is there an entry fee?

No!

Can I ride fixed gear?

I doubt it. We ride together from hill to hill and any gear that you could get up these hills with will be too low to stay with the group. You are welcome to come out and prove me wrong though.

Will I get lost?

No! Well, probably not. We ride as a group from hill to hill at a chill pace. At each hill it will be obvious where to go. At any turns or confusing parts I’ll have chalk and/or a volunteer. We regroup at the top only after the last person has made it up.

How can I prepare?

Familiarize yourself with the route and with the history of the ride. A good start is the write-up from 2010. A good gauge hill is Micheltorena off of Sunset Blvd. Originally it was the finishing hill, but I made some changes a few years ago and now it is number seven. It’s long with steep sections. If you can make it up that comfortably I think you can hang on this ride. Another test is Fargo St, which is a monster of a hill…

Do I get a meal or picnic or something out of this?

I wish. In the past we’ve done everything from pancake breakfasts to full-on picnics. This year we’re going to head over to CicLAvia and probably eat, hang out on the route. There will be a spoke card!

Who puts this on?

My bike club, known as Swarm!. We ride everything from alley cats to international UCI track events. We think the world would be a better place if people rode bikes and ate vegan more often.

My friend wants to watch, can he drive along the course and stop at the hills?

No. Definitely not. We’re going to be on some narrow roads in quiet neighborhoods; I don’t want to add to the car traffic. He can ride a bike along with us and I’ll help navigate the best places to see and how to get around. By the end almost half the people with us are just there to watch and cheer on the riders!

How long is this ride?

I hope to be done between 12 and 1pm.

Why did you stop making fun of Bryan Farhy?

After 5 years of naming vegan events after him over an anti-vegan email, he recently sent me an apology and I’m letting it go. Don’t tell any of my east coast friends that I let  go of a grudge.

Anything I can do to help?

Thanks for asking! I need help getting the word out. Please send this info and links to the pages to your bike club/crew/gang. I also may need some volunteers the day of. Getting up and down the hill may or may not be required. Photography is always appreciated, but again, by bike and not cars.  Get in touch at bikeswarm [at] gmail.

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Trail Run Balti

Back in December when a crew of us ran the Ridgecrest 50k, Morgan ‘Goat‘ Beeby suggested a Run and Curry Day: a trail run in the San Gabriel mountains and post-run Balti at his place in Pasadena (recipe below!). This past Saturday opened up for a few of us and we decided to go for it.  Stoked.

Ends up my friend Maria from Chicago, fresh off her win at the Rocky Raccoon 50-miler, would be in town hanging with the Moeben crew and free to join us. A friend of a friend who just moved here from Pittsburgh via Colorado met her and I at Union Station for the train ride to Pasadena. In true Morgan style and British politeness, he met us at the train on his bike, took our extra stuff and rode it to his house while we took a rapid bus to the base of the mountains. Minutes later he rolled up, locked his bike and we were ready to run.

 

They look a band! L to R, Morgan, Chris, Maria, Matthew.

 

I love the San Gabriel mountains (I was devastated when the fires hit them hard). So much adventure has been had there, but mostly by mountain or road bike. I’ve hiked there a few times, but, like many cyclists, hiking feels too slow. Could trail running be a ‘slower than riding but faster than walking’ mix of adrenaline and nature?  We headed through Alta Dena on streets before hitting Eaton Canyon and heading up steep, exposed, Mt Wilson Toll Road.  I hate the first climb of the day! Especially in the heat. I wanted to call the WHAAAmbulance, but I knew I’d settle in and we’d be out of the sun shortly. Poor Matthew had a stomach issue from the start and never recovered, but continued on.

At Henninger Flats we saw some ultra runners on their way down (I imagine they don’t start at 1pm! haha). They may have thought we were making fun of them, but our excitement is genuine! From here we climbed a dirt road for another mile before it turned left across a bridge onto Idlehour trail. Here we met Morgan’s friend Chris and the single track began. I had never been on this trail and it was super fun to run. Almost two miles of technical downhill. Morgan dropped the hammer in his boat shoes and I could barely hang on.  Within 15 minutes we hit the beautiful Idlehour campground, located deep in the canyon, almost completely tree-covered. Morgan and I couldn’t resist the draw of the open water and took a very quick, very cold dunk in the stream.

 

All three photos are on Upper Sam Merrill Trail, above Echo Mountain. This is looking West.

 

A few miles uphill, doing a mix of running and fast hiking, and we were at Inspiration Point.  From here we hit Upper Sam Merrill trail, which I have ridden before.  Again Morgan set the down hill pace and it was exhilarating!

Morgan and I separated from the others and we were chatting away, jumping off and over rocks and railing the tight turns, when we heard someone yelling from a canyon deep in the mountains. We stop and notice someone waving their arms. Is someone hurt? Shit. Then we hear, ‘It’s Jeff!’ Crazy! He was going to come on our run, but had decided that morning to ride road to Mt Wilson instead. When he got home and it wasn’t dinner time yet he drove up to Pasadena and tried to run toward us. Ha! He was descending from Inspiration Point on another trail but had heard our voices. I guess being loud and talking a lot has its advantages? We all headed toward Echo Mountain and regrouped before the final 2.5 miles of trail down to the road.

 

It's hard to see, but this is looking South-ish toward downtown Los Angeles. You can see the Palos Verdes penninsula and Catalina Island in the distance.

 

Back at Morgan’s we all helped with the final steps of the Balti. It has been so long this I have eaten this dish! We grubbed hard and reflected on the beautiful 15-mile run.  Friends, trail running, cold water, huge mountains, huge views and curry = awesome day.

This Balti is from an old-time LA bike activist named Oisin, who I believe moved from LA in 2006. He raced the very first Feel My Legs (photo here). I really had to dig to find this recipe!  I kept the weird UK English for authenticity.

 

Oisin’s Balti

The Balti Sauce

Makes 1L (~1 3/4 pints)
3 Tbsp veg oil (olive preferable)
2cm cube (3/4 inch) grated fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove pressed or minced
5 onions chopped fine
4 tomatoes (plum/roma are best)
2 tsp ground coriander seed
1 tsp ground cumin seed
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 bay leaves
4 brown cardamom pods (slightly broken open by crushing w/ knife blade)
1 1/2 tsp dried methi (the leaves of fenugreek)
1 1/2 tsp salt

1. Heat oil in large saucepan
2. stir in ginger and garlic
3. add onions, saute til translucent
4. add 250 mL water, bring to boil while stirring
5. add tomatoes, all spices
6. cover pan, turn heat to low, simmer for 30 minutes
7. remove bay leaves and cardamom pods
8. cool and liquidise

You can make a still very tasty version with just oil, onions, ginger,
garlic, tomato, turmeric, paprika, cumin, coriander, chili, salt, fresh
coriander (1/4 cup)
—————————————————————————————–

Pepper, Potato, Mushroom Balti

1 lb potatoes peeled
1/2 – 3/4 lb mushrooms sliced
4 large green and/or red peppers sliced
8-10 Tbsp veg. oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 onions chopped
4 cm cube fresh ginger grated
6 garlic cloves crushed/pressed
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 pt (600 mL) Balti sauce (see above)
1 heaped tsp garam masala
2-4 Tbsp chopped fresh coriander

1. boil potatoes in salted water until just tender.  Drain.  Cube.
2. heat 4 Tbsp veg oil add onions and saute until translucent.  remove from pan.
3. heat remaining 6 Tbsp oil. add potatoes and lightly brown for circa 8 minutes
4. add garlic and ginger and cumin seeds
5. stir vigourously making sure to coat potatoes for about 30 seconds
6. add chili, salt, stirfry 1 minute
7. add mushrooms, green peppers, stirfry 2 minutes
8. add Balti sauce, stir
9. add garam masala, coriander
10. turn heat to low, simmer for 10 minutes stirring often

Note, the oil content can be reduced to make it healthier, but I figure I’d rather just eat less of it and have it taste good.  I use olive oil because I think it makes it taste richer, but you can use any vegetable oil.  If using olive oil then bear in mind that it burns at a lower temperature than canola/sunflower.  I also add lots more red and green peppers and sometimes okra.

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Running in San Francisco

I don’t always take my phone/camera with me when I run, but I’m glad I do when I get shots like this.

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of the longest slides I’ve ever seen! Brilliant placement. Run stairs, slide down slide, repeat.  And running shorts are the perfect fabric for fast descents.  Perfect for intervals!

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Calico 50k Race Report

[Update Fri Jan 21 10:11am: Wanted to link a few other race reports with great stories and photos! Don’t Try This At Home at Runner’s World | Bourbon Feet (fast dude who wears the Air Jesus sandals!) | Kylie at TriFuel.com | Trail Bum ]

 

In my continued attempt to not gain an unsightly amount of winter weight and lose all of my fitness I signed up for another ultra-run, the Calico Ghost Town 50k. The race is a benefit for Discovery Trails, whose focus is education about the Mojave desert. Their tag-line is Learning From Adventure, which I can get behind!

Speaking of adventure, I’m sure some people drive to a race, race it and then go home. Seems too simple. And boring, really. We make it a huge adventure: camping, stopping at places of interest on the way, eating at great places and generally using the race as an excuse to get away and do rad stuff. First on the list: stopping at a vegetarian restaurant. One World Cafe is in the burbs of the San Gabriel Valley, the part of the ‘Los Angeles Area’ that is the sprawl associated with my city. When I go on a long bike ride I head north, south or west, rarely east into Sprawlville. But when we’re driving out that way, it’s a treat to hit up one of the Supreme Master vegan restaurants.  And yes, they have a Supreme Burrito, but I stuck with the Pan-Asian stuff. I can’t get enough of these spots lately.

Calico ghost town is located half-way between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, in the Mojave desert.  It’s just too far to drive morning of without getting up stupid early. Last weekend Mike and I drove down to South Orange County to ride a PCH Randonneurs 200k that started at 630am. Needless to say, him and I did not start at 630am. At least it made us hustle to get to the first control before it closed. But then luckily we could take the remaining 110 miles at the Swarm! ‘Can Stop Will Stop’ chill pace. Riding in South Orange County is very beautiful, but the only photo I have is of this crazy cockpit:

Back to the run! We rolled up to Calico in time to check in for the race and scope the town. I’ve been to a few and I appreciate the throwback to olden times. We learned that Calico was bought and preserved by Walter Knott, the founder of Knott’s Berry Farm amusement park, who was a far-right wingnut that had racist policies at his amusement park. It has long since been sold to San Bernardino County, but we couldn’t help but notice that the Welcome sign was in English, French, German and Japanese, but not Spanish and that there was no brothel!

The goodie bag was provided by an outlet mall which may have something to do with the pose I’m striking.

Checked in for the race and content with seeing most of the town we headed down to the campground to set up camp and make dinner. As I’ve said before, I love when you can camp at a race start! So Max, Donovan and I got a fire going and whipped up some pancakes and beans in honor of Burro Schmidt, whose tunnel we visited the last time we drove out to an ultra-run.  I was nervous about making pancakes on a camp stove! The first time I ever camped in my life was at an Earth First! forest defense thing in Pennsylvania and I was blown away that you could camp and still eat pancakes. Still, I had never done it. The photo below is proof that it can happen!

Even though we were in bed at a reasonable hour, that 6am alarm felt too early. We sprung up and got water going for coffee, took down on our camp and drank said coffee in time to swing by the bathrooms (to avoid a Have To Poop scenario like my first ultra) and run to the start with a whopping 4 minutes before the gun. Nice. Max had hurt his ankle the day before so he decided not to run. I’ve never run with Donovan before but we decided to stick together as we both had sub-6hr times in mind. Ends up I avoided the dreaded Have To Poop scenario, but he did not! Two times ducking into the desert for him would be the difference in our times. Now I had looked at the course photos from the website, but I was not expecting the course to be so beautiful. It was magnificent! We ran through red canyons, down washes, over tight, rolling hills, through two tiny tunnels (!!); much of it with unbelievable views of or from the desert mountains. There was a technical section that took me ten minutes to slowly climb down using my arms on rocks for balance. SO fun. Not sure I can go back to road running….

At mile 22 I decided I was going to run every hill that was left. Felt good to push. Since I train on hills a lot just because of where I live, that came easy, but I’d struggle to keep people I had passed from catching me on the down hills or flats. Still, my descents definitely improved from the Ridgecrest run last month. So I’m rolling along, feeling good, running everything and I get to the last aid station. Now one note about this race is that it is supported by the locals. The folks at the aid stations are not runners. They were SUPER FUN. They loved it. Constant jokes (‘We got some meth in the back if you need a boost!’). So at the last aid, I say, ‘3.1 miles, right?’ Nope, 4.5 miles. Oops. I’m tired, it’s getting hot. I have no idea what time it is. Whatever. I run past some dudes in 4×4 trucks playing on some hills. They say hello. Then I see the campground! Sweet. The course went through it, which is now two out of two times that has happened. Should we make it a ritual to sleep on the course?

A few more ups and downs and then I’m in town and I see Max! He jogs along for awhile and then splits off to meet me at the finish. I pushed on the last hill to pass the triathlete I’d been back and forth with. Holding him off on the descent I cross the line at 5 hours and 47 minutes. Stoked (ended up 31st out of 121).  Donovan crosses 5 minutes later and we head into the saloon for our post-race meal. The young lady working was kind enough to give us french fries instead of pizza….

On the way home we stopped at Viva La Vegan, an all vegan grocery store in the Inland Empire that has a grip of frozen pizzas (good for National Vegan Pizza Day):

But I bought some chocolate hazelnut butter and we finished the drive back to LA for some pizza from a pizza shop.  This race is part of the So Cal Ultra Running Series, which I signed up for, just for fun. I was already to tell you about the next crazy run I’m signed up for, the Twin Peaks 50-miler, but I just found out that it’s postponed until October! Wtf? Look at this elevation profile:

I’ve been gearing up for this and using it for the fear I need to train properly and now it’s not happening! Bummer. It was scheduled for February 12th, what should I do instead?

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The New World of Ultra-Running: The Ridgecrest 50k

Do not wait until all the conditions are perfect for you to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect. -Some Inspirational/Spiritual Dude

My close friend Morgan decided at the turn-off to run the 50k instead of the 30k! Kick-ass attitude.Who needs training? Photos credit here.

I have a 50-email conversation in my inbox with the subject ‘2011 is to Ultra-Running What 2005 Was to Double Centuries’ and after racing the Ridgecrest 50k it has already begun! Two-hundred mile cycling events (calendar) were my introduction to paying for events and eventually racing. My double century tag has over 25 posts, including the 10 I rode in 2005. These rides were an opportunity for Morgan and I to travel around California, sleep in sketchy places and spend the day on our bikes. We got obsessed and by the end of the year he raced the Furnace Creek 508 solo! Fitting that we ran our first ultra-run together.

With my friend Catra in the tattooed division…

 

Pre-Race = Awesome

I talked our crew, 5 in our car plus a few others, into camping at Wagon Wheel, which is a free BLM campground on both the Furnace Creek 508 course and the Ridgecrest 50k course. Just a 20 minute drive to the race start! After checking in and seeing a few folks we actually knew (mostly from bike events!) we headed back to Wagon Wheel to cook. I love camp cooking. Maybe it’s all the bike touring I’ve done over the past 1o years (!), but there’s something about a meal in the open that rivals what most people, if they’re lucky, make at home. We had 3 stoves and 8 people and collectively and easily together made Spicy Peanut Sauce Ramen with Broccoli and Tofu. YUM. Favorite meal of all-time? We sat around the fire eating, talking and catching up. One of the best things about getting away is the time it opens up. Creates such great memories!

 

At our Wagon Wheel campsite.

 

Race morning

One of the bargains I made in picking the campground was that I’d get up earlier than everyone else and start the coffee. 5am alarm. BUT Maxwell, Mr. AdventureSNORE himself, beat me to it! Before my alarm went off I heard the familiar hum of an MSR stove heating water….score! Thanks Max! We (somehow) got to the start not only before everyone had left, but with enough time to eat and get properly prepared. And even get nervous! We found a few more Los Angeles cyclists also at their first run and got a group photo in.

 

Team Los Angeles Cyclists!

 

Race!

I was less nervous about this than a marathon. How is that possible if the distance is longer? Trail running. Low-key. Like a fast hike. Out in the world, exploring. I ran with Morgan and Jeff’s friend Hoffman for the first 15 miles! We’d jog, run some hills, walk some hills and generally take it easy and enjoying the world around us. More experience, less exercise (maybe this should be my tagline?)

 

Mandatory Couch Hang

I split from Morgan and Hoffman around mile 15 and was feeling really good. Running the hills. Though there’s one detail I just cannot write this report without mentioning. I really had to drop a deuce. The whole time. Yeah. I assumed there’d be porto-poties at the aid stations but I was wrong…Not fun. I thought I could hold it, but then on a long downhill…..I guess it could be worse……I made it off the trail at least! No mess. Phew. You know the Ice Cube verse about feeling ten pounds lighter? That was me.

Refreshed (in a way!) I got my pace back up and was holding ten-minute miles or so. Earlier a runner exuberantly told us that the last 5 miles were downhill. But he was obviously a runner because to a cyclist 5 miles of downhill on foot is not something to celebrate! I was struggling. And for the first time of the race I went awhile without seeing anyone. It was beautiful and I was taking my time descending. Then Catra and her boyfriend caught me! They had been so supportive of me the whole run and immediately said, ‘Stay with us! We’re going to finish under 6 hours!’ So I did. And we did! The last mile was (thankfully!) not downhill but ran around the parking lot before finishing in order for everyone to get a chance to see the condition you are in.

 

Morgan’s boat shoes. Apparently the barefoot-like running shoes that cost $80 are a based on these $15 boat shoes. I’ll just say that as I write this weeks later his feet still hurt…

 

At the finish Sasha (ran the 30k- her first run race!), Max (volunteered), Jen from the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition (ran the 30k) and Jeff (first ultra, finished in just over 5 hours!) cheered me on.  I was tired and sore, but smiling and stoked. It was not a death march.

 

What I learned

1. Trail running involves serious hills- up and down! This is helpful, in my opinion. You use different muscles and it’s much less monotonous than a road run.

2. Train on hills! Duh. See above.  In ultra-cycling many people make the mistake of only doing super long rides. You have to strength train on hills. For running this means up AND down.

3. Know yourself. I know what my ‘forever’ pace is like and I rarely ran faster than that. The key to finishing your first long runs.

4. Start slow! Relax. It’s a long day. Unless you are trying to win, which in that case you shouldn’t be looking to me for advice.

5. Have fun. How do I get these events done? I know I’m out there because I want to be. Keep smiling.  Enjoy it the highs AND the lows.

 

What’s Next

January 16th Calico 50k . Another desert run. A training run for this:

February 12th Twin Peaks 50-miler. Nervous. 17,000 feet elevation gain in 50 miles. I’ve ridden much of this area when I raced the Vision Quest mountain bike race in 2009 and it turns out I actually ran some of it a few years ago.  The fear of this run is real and it’s been the kick in the butt I need to train a little harder.

 

Well, a 50k was a great last event for 2010. What a year! And 2011 looks to be something special.  Thanks for reading, happy holidays and good health to you!

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From Ultra to Ultra

After not doing a running race for two years, I was fortunate to ‘PR’ a half marathon (that I rode my bike to!) and even improved on my best marathon time during Vineman this year. Yay! It’s a amazing what a little extra effort and some speed work will do, isn’t it?

In an attempt to keep some momentum from this year through the winter (and not gain a ton of weight!) I’m signed up for my first ultra run the High Desert 50k in Ridgecrest, CA. As of now, our Swarm! crew of cyclists turned runners is heading out there 5 deep. It’s fitting because it is not far from Death Valley and the Furnace Creek 508 course, which is the last event most of us have done.

Ultra-running is appealing for a number of reasons. The most obvious is that it parallels the type of cycling I do. Not just in distance or time, but in the philosophy that the journey is as, or more important, than the destination. Sure, people run in circles in ultra-runs (A 3-mile loop 33 times? No thank you.), but many of them are point to point. Oh, and almost all of them are on trails. In beautiful places. With only hundreds of people. Much, much different than, say, the Los Angeles marathon with its 40,000 people pounding the pavement.

The question is, can I still get away with only running three times a week? I think I can. Will I have to do really long, slow runs that take all day? As of now, I don’t think I will. The idea is to use long races to build up to even longer ones. I’m already eying the Avalon 50 miler that takes place on Catalina island in January. Is the goal to run a 100-miler? Yes, it is. More on that in another post.

If anyone else is with me here, I’ve compiled some resources (with daylight savings time making it dark before 5pm I’m having trouble leaving the house so this is what I do). First is No Meat Athlete’s 63 Ways to Shake Up Your Running Routine. Got to keep it fun. There are a few magazines like Ultrarunning and Trail Running to keep the stokedtivity levels high. Ultrunr.com has the most information for training for longer runs and this NY Times article discusses ‘pushing past the pain’.

Are you ready to sign up for a long run? The best listing of ultras I’ve found is at ultrasignup.com. I especially appreciate that they show the logo for each race. Maybe it’s the punk in me who loves show fliers! It says so much about what the race is like. Also ultrarunning.com has a calendar with a bunch of races.

I’ll be sure to post updates about my training, though it’s getting down to the wire. I had some trouble getting out to run in Boston (rain) and New York (got tattooed), but am still feeling confident. Safe riding and running! See you out there. And don’t forget to sign up for my twitter if you haven’t already done so.

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Los Angeles stuff this weekend

I’m a little late on this as some it starts in fewer than 12 hours, but hey, that’s how I roll. The first is Saturday morning’s LA premiere of Ride the Divide, a documentary about the Tour Divide mountain bike race 2700 miles, mostly off-road, from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border. Through the Rockies. Unsupported. Awesome. I’ve ridden most of the route as a bike tour from the Canadian border to Silver City, NM. Like the ride, my my blog posts about it are unfinished. Here’s the trailer:

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=9654326&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0

Ride The Divide Movie Trailer from Ride The Divide on Vimeo.

Later on Saturday is the Tour De Fat in the Not A Cornfield state park in Chinatown/downtown. I’m not exactly sure what it is. Sort of a ride maybe, but mostly a beer party? Biking In LA does the best job of explaining what happens that I’ve read. Check it out.

There’s also a half-marathon on Sunday right here in LA. I normally wouldn’t promote such a corporate event, but the site says, ‘Take a Running Tour of the Real LA!’, which I appreciate. A lot! It hits the eastside of the city which is near where I live and it starts in Griffith Park, my favorite place to run.

Now if I can get over the Yankees losing and actually leave the house maybe I’ll see you at one of these events. Ride safe this weekend!

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