The gnarliest blister I've ever had. Or seen, really.
Anyway, Vineman went really well! Thx for the love, folks. More
details soon, still whirling from Sonoma-Oakland-LA-to work post-race,
but my time was 11hrs 19min with a 4-hour marathon in there at the
Category Archives: run
The gnarliest blister I've ever had. Or seen, really.
I’m here helping with the Badwater 135-mile Ultra-marathon and the top runners are finishing- just over 24 hours after they started. I’m updating regularly on the Swarm! twittersphere and there’s always the AdventureCORPS webcast (run from where I’m sitting right now).
The distances these runners cover and the landscape they cross…there really are few words to describe it. Driving the course at 4am and seeing folks running up hill, so touching! I get all choked up seeing people look confident and smiling after running 100 plus miles. In Death Valley. In the summer.
I can’t remember the last time I did a running event! At least two years. When I was mapping out my training for Vineman I thought it’d be a good idea to run a half marathon in late June or early July. And what better place than near Portland, Oregon? The Foot Traffic Flat takes place on Sauvie Island (Sauvie means delicious berries) 15 miles north of Portland.
So we, as in famous artist Lacy J. Davis and I, decided to ride our bikes there, duh. Yes, I love to ride bikes and I’m an environmentalist blah blah blah…but there’s only one bridge onto the island. Lots of cars. It just made sense to ride! The last 3 miles we rolled past bumper to bumper traffic. AND it was a great ride and a good way to warm up. I suggested this to the race organizer but he didn’t think it likely anyone else would ride…
After locking our bikes to a barn and eating some fruit, the half was ready to start. I started with my friend Eben, who works at the 7th Friendliest Store in Portland, who just ran a fast half the weekend before. Needless to say I let him go after the first mile. By mile two I realized that the majority of my running races have been the LA marathon and this race is the exact opposite, in a good way! Since I don’t have a watch and only recently began pacing at a track I was nervous about my time. Was I going too fast? Too slow? I set the timer on my iPhone and checked it at mile 3 and mile 6. Turns out I was running just about 7.5 minute miles, as I hoped.
There’s no coasting in running! I’d find myself lost in my thoughts and my pace slowing…and I’d have to catch myself and see where I was. Runners may be worse than cyclists in avoiding hills, but the monotony of the flat course was getting to me. I like hills! I felt good at mile 10 so I picked it up and finished in the punk rock time of 1hr 38min. Eben finished about 4 minutes ahead for 107th place overall. If he knew, he probably would of let that one person pass so his time could be punk and 108. Lacy finished the 5k, her first running race, in 28min30sec, not to mention the 30+ miles of riding. Awesome!
After some lounging and watching the fast marathoners come in we headed back toward Portland, but took a detour over the St. John’s bridge to eat at Proper Eats, which is basically a restaurant in a health food store. The service and smell are like you’d expect from a restaurant inside a health food store, but the food was terrific. Tempeh breakfast scramble!
Recently I was in Powell’s ‘City of Books’ in Portland and while perusing the Food/Sustainability section I finally got to see in person, my good friend Temra Costa’s book about women in the sustainable food movement. Temra rules. We met, obviously enough, at a conference on food justice. She lived in Davis at the time I was traveling for work to Sacramento every few months or so and we’d hang out. She’s a super hard worker and very busy, so that often meant I was tagging along in what she was already doing- like scavengering the city for figs. Have you ever ate a fresh fig straight from the tree? She’d climb the tree, pick one and eat it, pass one down, which I would eat and then every third one would actually make it into the bike basket.
I ran into him last at the Echo Park Farmers Market (duh, right?) and they are working on a new book right now. I’ve been on a tour of his house during the 2009 Big Parade Staircase Walk and it is super amazing. A small farm right in the city!
Now any of you vegans out there know that the sustainable food movement not only includes animal products, but actively promotes them and are often anti-vegetarian. It’s very frustrating. Sustainability aside, it is still an ethical issue. As if eating local makes a difference to the animals raised and killed! I don’t want to be the militant vegan that no doubt has fueled the fire for localvores, in fact, I want to do the opposite. Vegans need to be more in touch with these folks and understand this movement, because it is a very important part of the puzzle.
The book I was looking for was On A Dollar A Day. I knew about the blog and hadn’t realized it was a book until a friend in Portland recommended it. Turns out that the authors are not only vegan, but old hardcore kids! (Out of context ‘hardcore’ kids sounds funny, it’s a sub-genre of punk rock that was very influential to me as a youth, and today).
Can someone eat on a dollar a day? What about on Food Stamp allocations? I love books where the authors are actively figuring something out as they write. You feel their struggle in trying to not only create meals from the resources they are limited to, but also to vegan-ize them. I’m most of the way through it and I highly recommend it.
The next day I was in the Powell’s that’s in the airport (Portland, I love you!) and what do I see? My friend Kalee Thompson’s book Deadliest Sea. Full circle, as she’s the partner of the guy who organizes the Big Parade Staircase Walk! On last year’s walk I had just started the book I am working on and I bugged her with a million questions about the process. I haven’t read this yet, but she’s a former editor of National Geographic Adventure (RIP!) and an awesome person so I know it’ll be good.
So stoked on my friends! And I can’t write a post about books and not mention Born To Run. I could not put this book down, except to go running. It’s about more than running and ultra-running, it’s anthropological in his look at the Tarahumara, but also about us, Western Culture. The author looks at the shoe industry and is not afraid to name names. It all comes together when a mysterious desert dweller organizes an ultra-run in Copper Canyon. So rad.
This book takes running out of the athletic realm. I see it now like back-packing or bike touring. We are born to run and to move, so get out and do it. I can’t wait to run an ultra-marathon, which I guess is obvious to anyone who knows me…
“Somewhere around mile 70 or 75, it started to feel good. I finally got warmed up, I guess.”
Today was overcast and unseasonably not warm; a great day for a 2.5
hour run in Griffith Park. It's no secret that I live in LA primarily
for the sun, but I miss weather changes. Too much sun is monotonous!
I'm sure those of you in less awesome climates (anywhere not here I
imagine) have no pity for 'too much sun'. It's like photography,
everything gets washed out.
Anyway, this is a sketchy ladder that leads to a technical scrammble
on one of my favorite routes in the park. This still counts as
In case you have not seen it, ‘the Times’ has an article up about vegan ultra-runner Scott Jurek called, Diet and Exercise to the Extremes.
I met Scott Jurek in 2006 when I was helping at the 135-mile Badwater Ultramarathon, which he won. A super nice guy, I chatted with him and his crew about his vegan diet and his training. I wanted to get an interview, but it just didn’t work out.
The article mentions the 24 hour championships in France and I’ve found the live feed showing results. Looks to finish up at 1am, California time. Running in circles sounds absolutely miserable to me, but I imagine it is meditative in its repetitiveness. And it’s not like he only does these races; quite the opposite. The Western States 100 and other 100 milers are trail runs, getting out in nature way more than most runners ever do.
In this terrific ESPN article he says, in regards to coming across a bear during a race,
Awesome. I agree.
From our good friend Stephen, the organizer of this and previous versions:
An urban cyclocross ride/race through the Eastside of Los Angeles where participants pedal to stairways, portage their bike and climb ‘em, before heading to the next one. It’s fun, challenging (but do-able) and eye-opening: you’ll probably see parts of LA you haven’t. And if you don’t want to race, no problem. During the inaugural event a few folks stopped at a garage sale and picked up a messenger bag for cheap!
Fast folks should finish in 60 to 75 minutes and more leisurely riders can complete it in about 90 minutes or so. I think. Haven’t nailed down the course yet.
This is a Swarm! event.
The name? The first event was held on Nietzsche’s b-day.
The flier? Courtesy of Chris. He rules.
On the facebook at bit.ly/thusclimbed
I got the idea for this adventure in the Spring when we rode out and back on Gabrielino. Lots of guys ‘shuttle ride’ this route. They meet at the bottom, pile into one truck, drive to the top, ride down and then drive back to the top for the first truck. Four additional motor vehicle trips on the narrow and windy Angeles Crest highway. Could we do this human powered without being irritatingly self-righteous?
Easy. A group rides road 30 miles up Angeles Crest to Red Box (about 5000 ft elevation) towing mountain bikes. Another group trail runs 15 miles to Red Box. At the top group one passes the mountain bikes to group two who then ride the 15 miles of single track down to JPL.
To start I was up from 3am on 2 hours sleep and Max had stayed up the entire night. Brian rode out from El Segundo on his mountain bike (30 miles) and we met at JPL at 8am. I had posted the ride to Midnight Ridazz so we did not know who would show up. Our original plan was for Jack to ride road pulling the bikes with some sort of Rock Lobster rack, but that didn’t work out and Jack didn’t make it. Now Max is no slack rider, but he hasn’t been riding too much beyond commuting. Could he take 50 pounds of mountain bikes on the Big Dummy? Yes he can. With Michael on as support Max did an epic road ride with 50 pounds of cargo.
Brian and I set off on foot along the Arroyo-Seco to the Gabrielino. It’s a beautiful trail with stream crossings, boulders, canyons with full cover and exposed, dry ridges. I love it. Below Brian is picking some wild berries as the mountains we are about to run up loom in the distance. Yes, he is wearing his bike helmet. Said it was the easiest way to carry it.
Brian and I ran together the first 5 or so miles and then inevitably he dropped me. I ran almost all of the first 9 miles to Switzer Falls. There I begged some picnicing folk for water as I had run out about 45 minutes previous. The last 4 miles up were quite difficult, as expected. I hiked most of this section at a good clip and ended up at the top only 30 minutes or so after Brian; about four hours after we set off.
Gabrielino is not an easy trail to ride down. For a number of miles the trail is between 1 or 2 feet wide with the mountain to one side and a huge drop to the other. Some sections are a little washed out (I like to bunnyhop them cause it’s easier than having to unclip and get off your bike).
We were back and forth with a group of three mountain bikers who were all really cool. They told us about a sweet swimming hole only a 1/4 mile off the main trail.
After 8 hours in the wilderness (just like a 9-5, only fun) we headed over to Pasadena to take the Gold Line to Chinatown. From here I had a short ride home and Brian, after buying some durian fruit, took the train back to El Segundo.
Next time: I’d like to film this. It is so gorgeous back there and so accessible from Los Angeles. In my mind Sunday was a beautiful combination of DIY, adventure and wtf? Sure, there is an environmental component, but that is a secondary benefit to some friends getting together and thinking about new ways of exploring an amazing area and what is possible.