Monday, November 30, 2015

Red Rocks 50: The Dropdown Was The Upgrade

"I don't drink Lite Beer, decaf coffee, or shoot blanks"…RD Luis Escobar prior to the Red Rocks 50 free-for all.
Red Rocks 50's first 12mi out n back was like taking Salma Hayek out on a date and getting an ice cream cone. The next section was where she rips off her human face revealing a ravenous crocodile.

The third section down to Romero Cyn turnaround is where she eats you. Slowly. And thats what I avoided when I took the late downgrade to the fat-n-girthy 36mi “50k” at Mile 23.

We all started with good intentions etc, and gradually the more-talented pulled rapidly away from me. No bullshit story from the Late Halogen Epoch was gonna keep them down on the farm once they’d seen Hokas.

I didn't have the game needed that day. Period. More on that, in a bit.


Patrick Sweeney administering an esoteric oath. Interpreter: Mr Trail Safety, for the beer-impaired.
Photo by Nancy Kaplan, don't hold it against her.
The Dirtbaggers held their usual Beer Mile, and it was astonishing to see people pounding down cans of whatever swill and bust out the mile. I totally leave that to the experts. No doubt it helped many the next day. They all passed me too. 


The half-marathon, full M, 50-mile, and the newly added 50k/36mi Dropdown assembled in the near-freezing dark. All of you from latitudes north of anywhere will snort, but it was a brisk 33F in that grove. RD Luis Escobar appeared in full running regalia with a shotgun. I'm sure the newby half-marathoners wondered WTF was going on, but that's the biz at at a Luis event. 

Mad props to the halfers who were curious enough to drive all the way to hell and gone in the SB back country for their first trail event. But just to calm them, the first mile was on curated asphalt.

The shotgun had already gone off, and the shivering bolted down the road. I was drafting in the wake of heat and vaporizing estrogen, but kept my Gristle Visions To Myself.


On the long approach up the Forbush Trail to Camino Cielo I had time to crunch the numbers. It wasn’t looking bright n shiny. Despite what Lisa said about keeping happy thoughts, I was a heartless estate appraiser. I’d missed the Camino Cielo [23mi/noon] cutoff. Then I was behind cutoffs for getting down to Romero [31mi/2pm]. I’d miss the return thru Camino Cielo [39mi/4pm]. I would be out in the dark, freezing my geezer ass off. Fuck that shit.

I turned around, nosing forward into a brisk breeze, anticipating a semi-daylight finish. This was a delightful change from the incendiary summertime experiences I’d had here. And I had time to think about all of it.


I hove back into the Gibraltar Dam[17/45] Aid Station, ably captained by Micah “218-KOI” White. Micah is all business and low-key hilarity, with his lovely wife, and Ben and Alexander as his Very Tall Assistants. Paused there while Micah and I recited from Ancestor Scroll of Ultra-Memory, punctuated by fart-jokes and such.

“You guys ever hear how Micah came to be called 218-KOI?” Of course not, too late now. 

A long time back, Micah had brought home two teeny koi from Walmart in a plastic bag for his young daughters. Turned out they were boy and girl. They grew, and the tanks got bigger. then one day, the koi took over. They exiled Micah & family from the house, waterproofed it, and ran up a $3,000 water bill when they turned the house into a 3-bedroom swim thru aquarium. Then when they’d mate, the male would slam the female to the bottom, to release the eggs, causing the house timbers to flex alarmingly.

Ben looked thoughtful at this. “I tried that once, didn’t seem to work…”

Sometimes chocolates and flowers have the same effect. In any event, one fine day, Micah and the Koi had The Conversation. They were moving. The van pulled away, and the Koi angrily thumped the sides of the house as the girls stared wide-eyed from the family car.


Putting the final touches on my SKT Special Day, I lurched across the finish line, passed by 50-mile finishers with way more talent. That’s what 5mph looks like from the 3mph cheap-seats. Crista Scott trapped all the horror with a GoPro as the temperatures continued their merry plunge to 32F. I was over-under-done, and very happy to be done with all this. 

I got to meet a lot of really nice people, some of whom I'd only been pen-pals with on social-media. Its embarassing to be recognized by name and I'm grinning thinking "fuck me, what's your name again?"

Now it was back to the campsite, knocking all that down before total darkness, and thence to the delights of Chinese in Santa Barbara, awash in pots of tea. Otherwise it’d have been a cold and skanky night in a tent trying to warm up in a pile of sleeping bags.

But that’s another story altogether.


Because you don't give a fuck.
36.9 mi SKT Times To Greatness

Red Rocks Fat n Girthy 50k. Out n back Left, Out n back Right.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Ray Miller 50k: Inwardly I'm Smiling

Inwardly I'm smiling. Photo courtesy of Louis Kwan. Don't hold it against him.

After yesterday's Ray Miller 50k, I've only got two stiff legs. I've achieved a certain level of accomplishment when I heard shouts of "show us your balls!" seconds from the finish. But that was after I’d hurt the vert, run my own race, and had a great day; well in the future after the rosy-finger dawn rose over the whine-dork sea.

The race is one of a cluster run that day at Pt Mugu State Park: 30k, 50k, 50 miles and 100k. Something for everybody, and if getting like worked hard, RD Keira Henninger will deliver, in spades. The 50k course is a lopsided 3-leaf clover and stem, in an approximate clockwise direction. If it was run counter clockwise, it would easily add 2 hours to the average finish. Keira has other things to do besides wait on your sorry ass, so be grateful. I was very glad I didn’t strap on the 50-miler. This will have to wait for a later date. Meanwhile, here's a diagram and chart—weird science.
Ray Miller 50k course. Pretend to understand it.
I’ll spare you, gentle reader, the usual broccoli and ball-bearings of the typical race report. Suffice to say I felt I was a 60-watt light bulb in the harsh-light of day. The race course has vistas broad and intimate, and you'll have plenty of time to ponder Life's Mysteries.

Instead I got to meet guys like Jim; who is one of the fiercest uphill power-walkers I’ve yet met. A waterskiing accident 30yrs prior tore the fuck out of one his legs, and left him with no downhill running to speak of. I passed him twice, yet at 28 miles he roared past me on the uphill Fire Line Trail, and was never seen again. Fucker aced me out of the top podium spot in my age group. Not that I’m resentful. Nope.

Or another guy named Luke, who told me that he discovered this very blog, and had lost the previous two weeks of his life reading every post. This was early in the race, and he promptly disappeared into the La Jolla Canyon loop to well-deserved early finish. 

You fight like you train, and this was painfully obvious. I was having many dark thoughts about my upcoming Red Rocks 50mi, end of November. I’ve made decent progress in the short training season of this year; that’s the game I brought to the race. That, and the inexorable hand of time.

So, after making all the checkpoints in reasonable time, and looting as necessary, I put my shortening stride to work getting this fucker done. The volunteers were happy to see me, and happier to see me depart without unleashing impromptu vision-tests. The finish line came into sight, and I was greeted by more worthy finishers heckling me by name, and it was good.

Well after I finished, I discovered that I’d gotten 2nd in my age-group. This hasn’t happened since 1991. Fucking-A! 

More weird science:

Garmin & Strava ruthlessly remind you how slowly you're really traveling. Pretend to be impressed.