Trails of Glory

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Journey to My First 100 Mile

The Journey to My First 100 Mile Run

The following entries are a compilation of diary entries from September, 2001 through September, 2002. I entered the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run for 2002 and kept a log of all of my longer training runs for the entire year before the race. The majority of the runs are from the TTR trail schedule. After perusing through these entries almost 8 years later I found some interesting insights; especially where there is mention of glucose and salt tablets and my reluctance to use a Camelbak. I will publish these entries one at a time over several weeks in order to avoid overburdening the reader. There is a twist at the end of this story so if you have the patience…read on!

10SEP2001 Wrightson Ascent I want to run my first 100 mile run next September at Angeles Crest in Wrightwood, California. The following journal will describe the training runs and events that I did from a year out to the race. Today is September 10th and I consider myself in fairly good physical fitness when it comes to the 50K distance on trail. Yesterday was the first trail run on the Tucson Trail Runners series for 2001.

Mt. Wrightson Ascent starts at approximately 5,000 feet elevation and ascends Old Baldy Trail to Josephine Saddles covering two miles. At this junction the trail continues to ascend another 2.5 miles up to Old Baldy Saddle. From this saddle the runner turns right and travels uphill again another .9 miles to the highest peak in the area at approximately 9,500 feet. The trail gains 4,500 feet in 5.4 miles.

My trail season did not start off as well as I had hoped. The previous weekend our family went camping at the Black River in the White Mountains of Northern Arizona. During the camping weekend I hiked and bushwhacked up a mountain near our campsite. Later that day I discovered some red inflamed areas all over my legs. I have never experienced poison ivy, oak or sumac in the past so I didn’t give these red spots much consideration. That afternoon I went down to the river to bathe and wash with soap. Two days later three-quarters of my body was blistered from poison oak.

As the week progressed I went to the doctor and was prescribed a topical steroid lotion. Eventually by the end of the week I caught a cold and my chest and back broke out in hives. By Sunday, the morning of Wrightson Ascent, my condition could not have been worse with swollen itchy feet, ankles and legs and barely able to breathe from chest congestion. I laced up my shoes anyway and decided to head out on the trail.

At the start there were almost 20 runners. We were warned about the presence of bears in the area. As I climbed the trail my breathing was very difficult which in turn caused my legs to fatigue quickly due to lack of oxygen. I made it to Josephine Saddle in 34 minutes even though I walked at least a half a dozen times. The next 2.5 miles to Baldy Saddle was even more difficult. Eventually Ken Greco and Tom Wiper caught up to me within a mile of Baldy Saddle. This bit of company did me good as I pushed harder to stay ahead and once Ken passed me I pushed harder to keep him close. The most interesting comment came from Tom as he asked from behind what run I was recovering from. Everyone hates excuses, especially me, so spewing off my list of ailments crossed my mind before I spoke. Eventually I said, “I’m just a puss and I’m having a hard time breathing. That’s just the way it goes.” Tom pushed up the last .9 miles and finally within 100 yards of the peak he passed on by and we both clocked a time of 1:25.

After some chatting and picture taking with everyone at the top we made the descent back. I opted for the Super Trail route from Josephine Saddle. This trail section is about 2 miles longer than Old Baldy Trail and less steep. By going this way, my tired quads received less pounding and made it capable to get a couple of extra miles in for the day.

My next trail run is in two weeks starting at Sabino Canyon Visitor’s Center and run to Sabino Basin via Phoneline Trail and back. The trail length is 13.2 miles roundtrip. I think I should be feeling better in two weeks…

23SEP01 Sabino Basin The poison oak has almost completely cleared up and my chest cold has subsided. Boy, I never want to see that stuff again. Today is the 2nd run of the trail series. This run is a 13.2 mile round trip to Sabino Basin via Phoneline Trail starting at the Sabino Canyon Visitor’s Center parking lot. The entire trail is contained in the front range of the Santa Catalinas.

Twenty four runners showed up for the 6am start. The air was slightly warm with no clouds in the sky. I’m still wearing my worn out Montrails as they seem to still providing good support. Bill Cuculic took off at a fast clip down the flat groomed beginning. I followed with patience at an easier pace. Once the trail begins to ascend it becomes very rocky and gets rockier as it continues up. It is a popular trail for hikers because it parallels the tram road which makes it more accessible to pedestrians. After the first major hill climb, Bill has gained about 2 minutes on me but I maintained sight of him to the turnaround at the basin.

The trail descends into Sabino Basin then for this route you must turnaround and climb back out. At this point Bill has four minutes on me. My turnaround time is 1:01:14. I figure I can still break two hours coming back. With about 3 miles to go my quads are weakening as well as the beginning of a stomach ache which both conditions cause my pace to slow just at the time I should be picking it up. Yesterday I hashed an 11 mile trail on the road in 100 degree heat. I only consumed 4 beers the entire afternoon and evening. Apparently my hydration level and leg strength are low from those activities.

The last downhill was slower than usual due to my inability to lift my legs to their full capability. I still managed to run a negative split for the return trip and clocked 2:01:38. My cumulative weekend mileage is 24 miles so I feel good about that. The next run on the schedule is Bear Canyon 16.8 mile loop in three weeks. I should run this in two weeks because my wife and I have a trip planned to Cabo San Lucas the weekend of the TTR event.

03OCT01 Injury Report I have run once in the last 5 days. I have been experiencing pain I the heel or arch of my left foot. I have had plantar fasciitis in the same foot eight or nine years ago and fixed it by getting custom made orthotics, not running for two months and cross country skiing over the winter. I do not believe this time that I have a plantar issue. The pain began to develop around last July. I have done two 50Ks and other various hard efforts without this pain affecting my running. The only association I can make with this is speed work and possibly worn out shoes. I started regular speed work on the track in late May and continued throughout the summer. During these workouts I wear lightweight less supportive shoes and run off of my toes. On a normal run I start out with slight discomfort, less than pain, and can run roads, track or trails without this injury slowing me down. Like plantar fasciitis, the area tightens up from inactivity or lying down but unlike plantar it is not painful when I begin to walk on it. Maybe it is the beginning of plantar?

Either way I have decided that October 1st and on I would make an attempt to let this thing get better since I don’t have anything really going on running wise. I think I can still run dirt trails on weekends without worsening the condition and ride stationary bike and lift upper body weights and leg weights during the week. I will also use a night splint that I borrowed from my friend Garrett Ford. Driving on I will get through this. I read yesterday that only 64 out of 119 starters finished AC100. Great odds, huh? This is going to be fun.

28OCT01 Agua Caliente Loop Today’s trail run starts at Ross Zimmerman and Pam Golden’s house off of Old Soldier Trail in the northeast side of Tucson. This is a good place to start this run because it breaks the 6 miles of road in half by running two and a half at the beginning and three and a half at the end. We used to start at the trailhead on Fort Lowell and do the last 6 miles on the long straight road.

The weather was a bit warm today. The runners who finished by 10am experience wispy clouds at the end of the run but once they cleared out it got hotter. The trail is a 15 mile loop with an out and back section in the middle that climbs Agua Caliente Hill. My left foot is still a pain but I am managing it wearing a night splint at bedtime and not walking around barefoot. We started on the road slowly warming up until we reached the trail in around 20 minutes. The trail climbs steadily for two miles and then drops into Agua Caliente Canyon then climbs to the saddle and heads east for about three miles topping out at Agua Caliente Hill. If you have never run this hill it seems like you should be reaching the top a couple of different times but there is always another bigger hill behind it. Finally, the top-out climb to 5,364 feet is up a loose rocky face but you are rewarded with awesome 360 degree views. I waited here for Garrett Ford and Ken Greco. No reason to run too hard prolonging the healing of my foot. I’m probably not doing it much good by even being out here but at least it doesn’t hurt when I run. It actually feels better the day after the run.

It is slow, tedious descent from the hill back to the saddle. From here the loop continues down the north side from the saddle into LaMilagrosa Canyon and runs through the wash to the north side of the canyon. Then it heads back west a couple of miles on trail until finally reaching the road. The canyon views are beautiful as we ran along the couple miles of wilderness to the streets. Only three and a half miles of street and road remain to Ross’s house and we finish up in 2 hours and 49 minutes. Garrett wanted to push the pace in the last two miles so I picked it up a little and finished with a good kick. Ahhh, my favorite Pale Ale at the finish!

04NOV01 Romero Pass Garrett Ford organized this morning’s run starting at Catalina State Park, 2715 feet elevation and turning around at Romero Pass at 6014 feet. It was an overcast morning with humidity in the air. The trail starts on an uphill and climbs relentlessly and is very rocky for the first three miles. The run is advertised as 14 miles although the trail signage says 13. Overall timewise told me it was 14. There are many smaller trails that turn off of the main trail especially around Romero Pools, about three miles into the run. I took a wrong turn here and after a couple of minutes ended in a wash. I decided to turnaround and go back but still uncertain the trail might have continued on the other side of that wash. The wrong turn was worth it as I viewed a large tarantula climbing into a hole. I quickly discovered my mistake and continued on in search of the pass.

It seems the last three miles to the turnaround is where the majority of the elevation gain is to be found. After some very rocky and steep climbs the trail momentarily drops into a narrow wooded area. Right in here I spotted several fresh bear scat piles. I spotted cat droppings also but those appeared dried out. After the copse the trail climbs endlessly until finally reaching the pass. Before turning around I looked up to see the Mt. Lemmon Trail that we will see in two weeks as we ascend Mt. Lemmon.

I picked up the pace coming back due to the downhill even though it is steep. Eventually the rockiness of the trail slowed my pace too not much faster than I ascended. A welcome light rain began to fall but not enough to make the rocks slippery. My return trip was only several minutes faster due to the excessive rocks. I finished in 2:56.

Afterwards we all swapped stories about past trail conditions and PRs as we stood around a grill and a cooler of drinks. Ken Greco had a tough day as he fell three times. Trish was doing real well and then bonked but got back on top of it and ended up with a good run. My foot doesn’t seem to bother me on these trail run and is only a slight nuisance during my weekly runs on dirt surfaces. It does hurt a little when I am walking around. I am trying to focus on stretching more and icing my foot when I am watching television. This may take some time. As I mentioned earlier, Mt. Lemmon is in two weeks.

18NOV01 Mount Lemmon Ascent We arrived early to Sabino Canyon Visitor’s Center at 6am in order for Trish, Pete, Charles and Alli to start up Mount Lemmon early. Meanwhile I watched the meteorite shower leftover from the previous night until the 7am start. The weather turned out great with the temp around 50 degrees, no clouds and a light breeze. I carried three 20 ounce bottles; two were filled with water and one with XLR8 electrolyte replacement drink. I also had a CLIP 2 packet in my waist belt along with two Gus and a package of Gummy Bears.

Feeling good, I ran up the road fairly quickly and arrived at Sabino Basin in 55 minutes. I decided to stretch it out from here and pick up some time between the Basin and the Cathedral Rock turnoff. I always forget how much uphill there is leading up to the Cathedral split. At the junction I ate a GU and two salt tablets. After the split the trail is a fairly runnable uphill to Romero Pass. The pass is 12.5 miles and my time here was 2:16. From the pass the trail climbs steeply for a couple of miles. While walking most of this section I mixed my CLIP 2 into my 3rd water bottle. My stomach had begun to feel queasy and the CLIP helped settle it down.

I am moving again and continue to climb. After the Wilderness of Rocks Trail junction the trail descends for a quarter mile and then climbs again with relentless switchbacks until reaching the backside or north facing side of the mountain. I am trying to at least walk briskly and jog the gradual inclines and flat places. Eventually the trail leads to a clearing that has a trail sign indicating 1.5 miles to Mt. Lemmon. The rest of the trail is a jeep road that is runnable. There is no snow or water on the trail which makes the footing easier. At the trail sign my watch says 3:43. I have 17 minutes to 1.5 miles in order to break 4 hours.

Finally, I come around a bend and see Julie’s red sweatshirt and I sprint up to her in time of 3:58:30. This is 9 minutes off of my best ascent which makes me feel good especially since my training has not been optimal of late due to my foot strain. The next run is the Sabino 50K in two weeks.

02DEC01 Sabino 50K A crisp, clear morning greeted the runners at 6:30am for the start of the out and back 50K through Sabino Canyon. I began the run wearing gloves, stocking cap, long sleeve shirt and shorts. I kept in sight of Bill Cuculic for nearly nine miles up to the Sycamore Reservoir junction. It was quite chilly and frosty at this point. I backed off the pace through this area since I’ve only been through here a couple of times and recall some long climbing sections out of the reservoir area.

I reached Prison Camp and then descended into Molino basin. Ross Zimmerman and Jennifer Avriles set up an aid station in the parking lot of Molino Basin. I dropped my bottles here and ran to the top of the saddle 1.5 miles away on the other side of Mt. Lemmon Highway and then turned around and returned to the parking lot. I traded my long sleeve shirt and stocking cap for a singlet and hat. Total time spent here refueling was 7-8 minutes. My quads are spent. I left the aid station slowly to try and gather some much needed energy and ran back up the hill out of Molino back to Prison Camp. After reaching the top-out I was relieved to be able to run downhill back to Sycamore Reservoir. From there I basically shuffled down Sabino East Fork and before I knew it, Ken Greco came storming down a hill and went ahead of me. He was looking much fresher than I was feeling. After Sabino Basin I found that I needed to walk any inclines and my quads were really trashed. I eventually completed the run in 5:39 and was very happy to relax at the finish.

08DEC01 Solo Bear Canyon I ran by myself on the Bear Canyon loop (16.8 miles) starting at 7am. I am doing this run as a make-up for missing the originally scheduled run in October. I took off quickly and felt comfortable. I encountered a stiff headwind as I entered the canyon. I breezed over the seven stream crossing leading to Seven Falls and climbed out easily. I stayed with the pace up the grinder and when I reached the top-out overlook my time was 1:08. I was surprised at how quickly I made it here without intentionally pushing the pace.

From the overlook which looks back down into the canyon I have never clocked a negative split to the finish. I have come as close as one or two minutes over but really need to push to make this happen. I decided today was a day to go for it and I really smoked the rest of the trail to the top of Sabin Canyon Road. The road is 3.7 miles of downhill except for one short, steep hill with 3/4s of a mile remaining to the end. With 2 miles to go I began to feel fatigued. Without looking at my watch I kept plugging to the finish. I crossed the line in 2:17:37. This is one minute and 26 seconds over my top-out split. This run gives me confidence that in 6 weeks at the January Bear Canyon run I might have a shot at my 2:14 PR.

16DEC01 LaMilagrosa Canyon Loop The days are shorter and the mornings are freezing cold. We started at 7am with a 30 degree temperature. The rain and snow storm over the past couple of days have left a blanket of snow in the mountains. All of us anticipated seeing and running through the snow by the time we reached Prison Camp.
Ken Greco and I ran the entire trail together trading the lead several times. I wore tights, gloves, stocking cap and a long sleeve shirt and never felt hot.

This run starts at the Suzenu Trailhead near Snyder and Old Soldier Trail on the northeast side of Tucson. The route heads west on a dirt path to Soldier Trail and turns north to Catalina Highway. It then ascends 1.5 miles up the highway to the Soldier Trail intersection. From here the trail goes straight up for about a mile and then becomes runnable in spots as it nears Prison Camp. The views this morning were purely awesome. Fog and low clouds had set in the hills over a light dusting of snow on the ground with no ice. As the elevation increased we ran through and above the fog at the same time the sun began to rise. The backdrop of snow covered hills against a blue sky and hazy clouds on the fringes was probably the most beautiful sight I have witnessed on a trail. Upon reaching Prison Camp is where we first encountered ice and hard pack snow.

After crossing Mt. Lemmon Highway across form Molino Basin we climbed 1.5 miles to the saddle and descended the backside. This is the first time I have run this portion of the trail. Because of the snow and steepness of the trail we were able to glide over sections of the trail all the way to LaMilagrosa Ridge. The trail follows the ridgeline for 3 miles and then connects with the Agua Caliente Trail. From here the trail descends to a back road that runs east and west to the original starting point of the run. While still on the ridgeline, Ken and I encountered a herd of cows ambling down the trail heading in our direction. I wanted to get off of the trail and give them the right of way. Apparently Ken has had this experience before and stayed on course. They spooked easily and ran off of the trail.

This trail is one of the best runs of the series so far. It is 15.2 miles long and our time was 2 hours and 50 minutes. In the future I think 20 minutes could be trimmed off of this time. What a great day for sightseeing.

04JAN02 Wasson Peak Twenty-one runners gathered at the Sus Picnic Grounds in Saguaro National Monument West at 7am in order to run the Wasson Peak figure eight version of trail. Just before sunrise we ran north on the dirt road for about 2 miles and then made a right at the first T-intersection. Then run another 2 miles east to the Esperanza Trailhead. This trail meanders to the south towards the mountain range for about a mile and gradually increases in elevation until ascending switchbacks until topping out at the saddle junction. I ran fairly hard tot his point in an effort to complete this run listed at 15 miles near 2 hours. Just prior to the start, Ross Zimmerman claimed he had GPS’d the route and it showed 13.6. I personally feel the trail is 14 or 14.25.

I reached the saddle in 38 minutes and descended the backside of the hill. The trail here is very rocky so I had earlier decided to wear brand new Montrail Wasatch II trail shoes. They felt great travelling down the loose, rocky trail. These shoes seem to have better traction than the Vitesse. I continued at a fast pace around to the southside of the mountain range in an effort to beat the sunrise from blinding as I eventually turned eastward.

The next portion of trail starts to gradually ascend as it gets closer to Wasson Peak. There are many steep switchbacks and sharp turns on the climb to Wasson. I finally reached the trail split and ran the dog leg out to the peak in 1 hour and 20 minutes and returned to the split again. It is close to 5 miles back to the finish so I swiftly descended on the Hugh Norris Trail. Eight minute miles from here would net me a two hour finish. The Hugh Norris Trail descends quickly with two or three minor uphills along the ridge. Upon reaching the hills I found it hard to change muscle groups on the fly so I came to a walk on the climbs. I seemed to be developing a blister on my right heel and only now noticed it on the uphill sections.

Continuing to push the pace I eventually came to the step portion of the trail and realize that I have only a half mile to the road and then a short distance to the finish. As I reached the road I felt weary and wanted to stop. I kept churning my legs as I only have a half mile to go. My finish time is 2:03. I feel good about the effort. Three years ago I ran 2:16 and two years before that ran my PR in 1:58. Since I am 10-12 pounds heavier now than five years ago I view this as a good sign that some of my trail times are getting back to times of the past. The winter Bear Canyon loop is in two weeks and I feel I have a good shot at breaking my 2:14 PR.

19JAN02 Winter Bear Canyon It is a 7am start on a clear, cool morning. 34 runners took off from the parking lot of Sabino Canyon Visitor’s Center for the January version of Bear Canyon Loop. I hit the first part of the run at a brisk pace in order to bank time before hitting the trailhead. I am thinking I can run a PR today but know that I have to reach certain points at predetermined times. I ran quickly through the lower seven stream crossings and worked the ascending switchbacks nicely. I began to push the pace after the switchbacks until I reached the creek crossing below the grinder in 49 minutes. This is a good sign because it normally takes 15 minutes or less to reach the top.

I topped out at 1:03:50. I have never run a negative time from here to the finish. My closest effort was one minute to the positive; today is the fastest time that I have ever topped out. According to my predetermined time goal I must reach the top of Sabino Road by 1:50 which means I would have to run a 5:20 mile pace for the 3.7 miles of road to the end which would be extremely difficult coming off of the trail. So, not to get ahead of myself, I flew down the backside of Bear until I got to Sabino Basin and the East-West Fork junction. From here to the road I just don’t want to crash on the various small uphills along the way.

So far, so good as I descend to the road. After finally coming off of the trail a glance at my watch says 1:48:45. With a minute and 15 second cushion over 3.7 miles I should have to run a 5:40 pace to the end. As I pass the big rock near the Tram station I am under 2:10 but I still have to reach the original starting point in the parking lot and end up with a 2:10:40. At first I felt disappointment that I didn’t break 2:10 but then quickly realized I just took 4 minutes off my PR from five years ago.

02FEB02 Fort Eustis, Virginia Tomorrow, the Tucson Trail Runners are running Cowhead Saddle from the east end of Speedway. I will miss this run because I am spending three weeks in Fort Eustis, Virginia for military training. I located a half-marathon in Hampton on Saturday, February 9th. The race is the RRCA National Half-marathon Championship for the Pomoco Running Crab Club.

It was a sunny but frigidly cold day with a starting temperature of just under 40 degrees and a windchill under 20 degrees. I wore my National Guard Marathon Team singlet and road training shoes. Since I didn’t anticipate racing when I packed for this trip I neglected to bring racing flats. High hopes said that I could break 1:15 but the wind and the shoes would not let that be reality.

I went out at 5:45 mile pace and then settled into a 5:50 pace feeling comfortable. The course had multiple turns and occasionally I ran straight into a chilling headwind for a lengthy distance. My pace suffered to near 6:00 pace. I managed to hold steady through the entire race even though my mind wanted to back off and take it easy. I sailed into the finish at 1:17:27 averaging 5:55 pace per mile. Considering the conditions and lack of training due to my plantar issue, I felt happy about my effort. I placed 2nd in my age group and 18th overall with one female placing ahead of me. The top eight finishers were awarded cash as well as the top three Masters.

09-10FEB02 Leesburg, Virginia As I am still in Virginia I decided to take a three hour drive to the north and visit my friend Sean Andrish who is living in Leesburg. Leesburg is about 50 miles northwest of Washington, D.C. and is near the Appalachian Trail.

Sean and I headed out for a difficult 22 mile out and back portion of the Appalachian Trail aptly named Roller Coaster. Over the length of 11 miles in one direction there are eight hills. I had lifted leg weights in the gym yesterday and paid for it early in the run on the long ascents. We reached the turnaround in two hours and refueled. We carried one water bottle each which proved to be not enough even though the trail was mostly shaded and cool. The trail also proved to much rockier than I had anticipated.

On the first climb after the turnaround I knew I was going to be in trouble. I was walking on the second hill and by the third hill I was walking the downhill. Ultimately, I bonked big time between miles 14 and 19. Sean decided to take it easy and hung with me through my hour long spell. We eventually reached a stream and filled out bottles and ate a gel. Within ten minutes I was feeling better and was able to run out the last 3.5 miles. We had spent 5 hours on trail. Runs like this have to make you stronger somewhere.

The next morning after a good dinner and lots of rehydration we headed over to a different portion of the A.T. and ran a 10 mile out and back. We were on a ridgeline in a cloud with ice crystals falling from the trees. Today’s route had gently rolling hills amongst large oak trees. My legs felt a little sore from the last two days but I found I could still extend my stride over the rocks better than yesterday. Sean and I ran briskly over most parts of the trail and ended up running 1:45 on a cold, moist morning.

17FEB02 Tanque Verde Loop Another clear morning with a forecasted high of 75 degrees greets us for the 28.5 mile Tanque Verde Loop. This is the 3rd time that I have run this trail. The trail starts at the east end of Speedway and ascends to Douglas Springs. I felt a little rough during this stretch mainly due to drinking six beers last night and running 13 miles two days ago on Blackett’s Ridge. My legs were tired on the climbs so I buckled down and shuffled up the hills and tried to make up time on the flats and descents. There are no flats and descents from Douglas Springs to Cowhead Saddle. This 2.4 mile section gains about 1500 feet in elevation. I walked a few portions of uphill nearing Cowhead and to my amazement reached the saddle in 1:34:30.

Without stopping I turned right on to the Tanque Verde Peak Trail and drank some water. I carried two bottles to get me to Javalina Picnic area around 20 miles into the run where Rick Kelly has an aid vehicle. The 2.5 mile section to Tanque Verde Peak is rough and rolling and hard to follow in some places. There is little or no snow on the trail this year. After the peak the trail drops 2.1 miles to Juniper Basin Campground which is nestled in amongst large Juniper trees. After reaching this point in 2:31 I took my first salt and ate a tiger bar. For some odd reason I neglected to use anything but water to this point just to see how I would be affected. I was feeling a little nauseated until I used the electrolytes.

I continued down the ridge, slowly at first since the trail seems disconnected in spots. At first the trail gradually drops in elevation and then climbs and dips like a rollercoaster. The sweat on my legs is stinging the scratches I incurred from the overgrown section from the peak to the basin. The Manzanita trees don’t budge even though they look like they should. The ridgeline from Juniper to Javalina is 6.9 miles and is relentlessly downhill at times and seems to take forever to be done. I said “Hi” to my beautiful wife who was coming up the trail from the picnic grounds. She has a slight knee problem after running Pemberton 50K last weekend and cannot go the distance today. Rick Kelly asked me at the start how long I would be to Javalina and I told him 3:30. I was 10 minutes off and arrived in 3:40.

At Rick’s aid station I drank a Pepsi, mixed a CLIP drink and talked with Rick. I left the parking lot at 3:43 and had a decent chance of finishing under 5 hours wit 8.5 miles to go. When I got to the visitor’s center of Saguaro Monument East Headquarters I used the cold drinking fountain to wet down my head and then headed north on the pavement of Freeman Road. The last 8.5 miles of the run are paved unless you opt for the slightly shorter trail alternative. Over the last 7 miles I employed a run 5 walk 1 minute strategy. I wasn’t really feeling bad; I just wanted to keep from feeling bad by pushing it too hard. Ultimately I reached the finish or the original start point in 4 hours and 56 minutes. I ended up running a 6 minute PR and actually felt pretty good.

With two trail PRs in a row I will next run Esperero Loop, 21.3 miles, on the 10th of March. I have never really put forth a good effort at Esperero so running a PR shouldn’t be too tough. I’m not sure what to expect so I will try for 3 and a half hours…

10MAR02 Esperero Canyon Loop As you can see, my lat sentence was “I will try for 3 and a half hours.” I didn’t come close. Coming into today’s 21.3 mile Esperero Trail run I began experiencing a little quirk in my upper left leg. This feeling is reminiscent of a debilitating injury I incurred a year and a half ago. Once I tore the tissue in the upper left hamstring, inflammation put pressure on a nerve in my lower left back. I thought today would be a good ‘feeling’ out day prior to next weekend’s Crown King 50K.

After two-thirds of a mile jog up Sabino Canyon Road I turned left onto Esperero Trail and began the rolling section of hills for about a mile. After this the trail climbs significantly eventually climbing up through a draw. It’s pretty cool that there actually is a trail through here because the trail basically climbs over and around rocks all the way through the draw. Catching occasional glimpses of Cathedral Rock; it looks so far away. After the draw the trail crosses an area filled with oak, juniper and pine trees as well as the unbending Manzanita. Today’s forecast is for 80 degrees and the sun is already up high and bright but for now, this section of trees is cool and shaded. After gradual and sometimes steep climbs I reach an exposed section of trail where if I turn around I can see Tucson splayed out before me. I basically hike up through this portion until I approach the south face of Cathedral Rock. The trail still ascends until the top-out on the eastside of the tip of Cathedral Rock. I got here in 1:47 and went over the other side and sat down on the trail to eat a glucose tablet and some salt.

I started the run with two hand held 20 ounce water bottles, one filled with water and the other with XLR8. I have drunk half a bottle of water and a quarter of XLR8. On the backside the trail descends steeply through the bushes and trees. Luckily there is some snow. Without foot prints I don’t think I would have been able to follow this trail. Under the branches I spied the tricky switchbacks and several times overshot the trail only to quickly discover there was no trail. After coming down to the Romero Pass Trail junction I turned right and continued to run downhill more gradually and with less vegetation. I consumed very little fluid since the top except for a few sips of XLR8. I still have 2.5 miles of exposed trail to reach Hutches Pool where there is water. I take little sips of water through the sunny parts of the trail just to wet my lips.

Upon arrival at Hutches Pool I still feel good and decide not to chance the water since it is not flowing but standing in pools. This is a popular place for campers. The trail continues for two miles to Sabino Basin then ascends a small hill onto a 2.4 mile section ending at the top of Sabino Canyon Road. I start to feel nauseated through here and my quads are hurting at every step. I began walking small sections and finally reach the half mile downhill to the 3.7 mile long road. Sipping on the XLR8 is not helping as it has sugar in it and is just upsetting my stomach more. My time at the top of the road is 3:37. Normally I could run down this road in 23 minutes but after the initial seven tenths of a mile descent my quads give out and I walk and run when I can.

I am comforted by dipping my water bottle into a slow flowing, clean looking water under a bridge crossing. The water tastes good but is too late as my stomach rejects it. With a mile and a half remaining I decide to walk it in because if I run I want to puke and don’t really want to vomit around all of the hikers. I reached the finish in 4:21:44. Two years ago I ran this trail in 4:32 with Gene Joseph. Three years ago I ran it around 4:15 with Rick Fenno and Benito Gonzales. That year we ran out of water at Hutches Pool and took a dip to cool off. I guess the moral of the story is that I should use my Camelbak on this run in the future. Next weekend is Crown King 50K.

16MAR02 Crown King 50K Here it is; the big event we all train for and travel to Crown King to scramble the 50K or 50 mile and then party at the cabins after the race. It is colder this year than the previous five years. The 50K starts near Lake Pleasant, northwest of Phoenix. The first mile is on the highway and then turns into gravel road. The first half of the race is an undulating dirt road. I started the race running stride for stride with my old friend, Sean Andrish, who is visiting from Leesburg, Virginia. Sean and I tied for 2nd place last year behind Karl Metzler. This year, Sean thinks we can make a run for the 4 hour record. I do not have the same feeling due to all the past years I have run this course it has been hot.

Shortly after the first aid station at 8 miles I let Sean go ahead of me because I feel like I’m working too hard on the early hills of the race. By mile 11 Sean is out of view. My hip began aching a little but no real pain. I am still in 2nd place as I come upon my wife Trish around mile 14. She started an hour early. As I reach her the thought enters my mind to bag the race and finish with her and just enjoy myself the rest of the way. Why is it that if I don’t think I can win this race then I don’t want to run at all? After slowing down momentarily with my wife I realize that I can still run and who gives a shit whether I win or not. Why not enjoy this race for once rather than treating it as a death march challenge every year?

I took my time at the 15 mile aid station. Then I jogged up the long steady climb at an easy pace and began to feel better. At this point a runner came by and asked me how far ahead Sean was. He looked intent on catching him so I told him at least 10 minutes. Now, in third place, I reach the top of the masochistic 19 mile hill and stop for a GU gel and water. I turned and looked back down the hill and seen Carl Anderson and Ann Trason climbing up to me. I bid them both good luck on the way by and told them the next four miles are smooth sailing to the 23 mile aid station.

After 23 is where the real work begins. The road climbs in and around the mountain to mile 27 and is rocky and difficult to run when you are wasted. I took my time again at the 27 mile aid station until I could see one or two runners approaching. I still have two more miles to climb to the top of the hill and then two more down hill to the town of Crown King. After the top-out I ran one mile down to a level area in the road that is about 200 yards long. This is where James Bonnett passed me. The kid looks fresh and is striding better than I am as I can’t match his pace and he gets away from me.

I finally ended this journey in 4:55 good for 7th place. Breaking 5 hours in my mind is alright especially on a bad day. My competitive juices are drained as I do not feel like running another race again. Or maybe it’s that I don’t want to ‘race’ another race. I’m not sure how capable I am of doing this. I believe the Angeles Crest 100 miler is a good place to start. I will have no choice but to run and not race. I have no idea how to race a 100 miler and really don’t want to know. I want to finish and if I finish strong or ahead of anyone else then who cares. The 100 mile journey is my soul’s search for another adventure and it does not benefit from arriving at the finish line in any predetermined time or place. Time and place are both wants of the ego. I believe that if I am going to be successful at completing my first 100 miler then I need to put the ego to sleep and allow the soul to guide me through its wishes and desires and to run down a single track trail in the San Gabriel Mountain Wilderness.

I have cancelled my plans to run the Lincoln Marathon in May. It would have been my 11th consecutive year at Lincoln, Nebraska and my 27th marathon. I have no desire left to run a 6:00 pace for 26 miles on a hard road while competing for something my ego has already achieved 10 times over. I don’t know how long this has gone on but I figure back to my early teens when my soul has whispered wonderful ideas and places to go but I let my ego guide the way and make ill-fated decisions.

March 31, 2002 is Easter Sunday and also the Mica Mountain Marathon. I chose to sleep in and continue to take a break from the long trail.

13APR02 Mt. Bigelow On Saturday, April 13th at 6:00am I ran up the road of Sabino Canyon with my friend Tom Boyle as we commenced our ascent to Mt. Bigelow. Since I knew it was going to get hot later that morning I carried a 100 ounce Camelbak. It seemed to be pretty comfortable and it was nice to have water at my lips anytime I needed it. My pace felt leisurely for most of the run. I really took it easy today and enjoyed the views of the Palisades trail.

This route has several options. The main distance is the 50K by reaching the top of Mt. Bigelow and then returning to the visitor center usually around 1:00pm in the heat. Tom and I decided ahead of time that we would go to the peak and come back to the aid station at the trailhead for a total of 18 miles. After about 7 or 8 miles into the run I gradually pulled ahead of Tom. I still slowed to walk the steeper sections and continually kept my eyes out for snakes. Amazingly, I never spotted a snake the entire morning. As I got higher in elevation the pines kept the trail shaded all the way to the trailhead near Palisade’s Ranger Station. Here, Rick Kelly and Bob Bachani’s wife, Mary Alice, were set up with a full aid station. I reached this point of 15.5 miles in 3 hours and talked with Rick for several minutes as Tom and Tim Varner came up behind me. The three of us left together for the 2 mile jaunt up to Mt. Bigelow and then descended back past the ranger station on Mt. Lemmon Highway. Tom and I bid Tim farewell on his trek back to Sabino and then we waited for Tom’s wife, Suzanna, to pick us up with beer and sandwiches.

The trail series is coming to and soon. Multiple Wrightson Ascent is May 18th, but I will miss that due to attending Pet and Tonja Chagaris’ wedding at Lake Tahoe. You can bet that I will get some miles in on the Tahoe Rim Trail that weekend. The last run on the series is during the first weekend in June, organized by Julie Arter in the form of Santa Catalina Ascent. By the first week of June I should be mentally and physically rested and ready to commence my summer training for the Angeles Crest 100 miler.

29MAY02 Since the Mt. Bigelow run I have spent a little extra effort on speedwork now that my foot is feeling better and my hip is no longer a deterrent. Initially, this diary started out as a synopsis of all the trail runs in the Tucson series but as I get closer to AC I feel my training focus needs to be broader. I went to the track a couple of times and ran a 5K and 7 mile tempo run. I ran a low-key 5k cross country race at Lincoln Park in 16:59 and place 3rd overall. I was please with this effort considering I ran 35 minutes before the race and another 20 minutes to get home.

After another track workout and another 7 mile tempo run I entered and raced the Cinco de Mayo 10K at Starr Pass. I have never taken part in this race in previous years because it is on the same weekend as the Lincoln Marathon for the National Guard trials. I warmed up for two miles with my friend Joel O’Bryan; then we lined up and started the race. My first mile was 5:45 and I averaged 5:40 pace per mile for the race finishing in 35:10 and 8th place overall. The course is hilly which explains my slower time. I was still happy with the effort.

The following weekend I ran an easy Bear Canyon loop with Bob Redwanc, Pete Gonzlik and Chris Fall. The weekend of May 18th, my wife and I travelled to the Lake Tahoe area for Pete and Tonja’s wedding. We were able to spend a small amount of time checking out some of the Tahoe Rim Trail. The Tahoe Rim 50 Mile is definitely a must do event for the summer of 2003. The weekend after that, Trish and I drove down to Madera Canyon and I ran the Super Trail up to Baldy Saddle and turned around for a 2:15 run and then returned the next day and checked out Vault Mine and Josephine Saddle for a 1:30 effort. Vault Mine Trail is an extremely difficult, completely uphill hike but the views are well worth it. This kind of back to back training is what I am going to have to employ over the summer. I could feel the previous day’s Super Trail downhill in my quads.

Over the past three weeks I have been lifting more weights. Once or twice a week I lifted for upper body and arms and once a week I put in a major endurance session for legs which entails 4 sets of 12 repetitions at 35 pound single leg extensions, 4x12 at 35 pound single leg curls, 2x12 at 115 pound squats, and 2x12 at 95 pounds lunges. My legs are fairly sore and stiff for a couple of days after this workout which means I’m either out of shape or I’m overdoing it. Last Friday I rode my bike 19 miles into work in the morning and returned to in the late afternoon. I am planning on continuing this Friday routine throughout the summer. Also, for the past three weeks I have consumed only 4 beers and strictly stick to wine for weekend relaxing. In addition I have significantly reduced my simple sugar end enriched flour intake. Since then I have lost 7 pounds.

The Santa Catalina Ascent has been cancelled this upcoming weekend due to a major forest fire in the Santa Catalina – Mt. Bigelow – Reddington Pass area. The Forest Service has opted to close all of the Coronado National Forest which also eliminates all other trail options in places like the Santa Ritas, Huachucas, Chiricahuas, and Mt. Graham. For now, the National Park Service has not closed the Saguaro Monument so I will make an attempt to run some of the lesser used trail out by Happy valley on the eastside of the Rincon Range and plan to start by going over Heartbreak Ridge down to Grass Shack and back up to Happy Valley Saddle.

13JUL02 It has been some time since I posted to this journal. After my run in the Santa Ritas the forests were closed except for the Saguaro East Monument. Joel O’Bryan and I took quick advantage the following weekend and ran an easy paced trail to Cowhead Saddle and then down to Grass Shack Campground and returned for a total 22 miles. The weekend of June 8th I did a solo trek starting at 5:10am up to Manning Camp at 8100 feet elevation. This run is 25 miles round trip and virtually all uphill going out and downhill coming back. It took me 4 hours and 46 minutes so I was finishing near 10am and the heat was coming on. It turned out to be a beautiful day with no dangerous animal sightings. Upon reaching manning Camp I saw a dozen or so “hotshot’ crews up and about eating breakfast.

So far for five out of six weeks I have kept up with the weekly ride into work as well as six weeks of leg weights. Between June 18th and July 9th I ran weekly track intervals on Tuesdays ranging from 5x1 mile, 2x2 mile, and 12x400 meters. One interesting span of training that I did over the 4th of July period was for five consecutive days I ran a 14 mile loop, “Three Tanks Trail,” on the lower Saguaro East Monument trails. My initial plan was to run three Bear Canyons or five Douglas Springs but since everything virtually closed except for these lower trails my mind was made up.

The first day I ran by myself starting at 5:15am. The loop starts at the east end of Broadway on the Cactus Forest Trail and heads east past the dam and up to the gold fish tank then continues toward the Douglas Springs Trail intersection. At the junction you head back west toward the Speedway trailhead and take the split up to and over Bajada Vista. Run down the Westside of the vista and follow the trails back up towards Speedway and follow the trail around west then south and west back to the start. I ran this counterclockwise in just under two hours. The next three day Bob Redwanc joined me and we ran counterclockwise the next two days and clockwise the fourth day. Our times were 2:25, 2:26 and 2:28. The clockwise direction seems to have more prolonged difficult climbing although our times were almost identical. The fifth day I went alone in the clockwise direction and ran 2:01 in a hard effort. Thanks to Bob I had good motivation to show up every day especially after a 4th of July party at our house. During these runs Bob convinced me to travel with him and Eileen and run the White River 50 mile National Trail Championship on the 27th of July in Washington State. I found airfare for $185 on Alaskan Airlines and decided to run my first 50 miler in two years.

The second weekend of July Bob and I went out again for an easy Three Tank loop. Three miles into the run I stepped on a thorn just under my left big toes on the ball of my foot. God did that hurt. I pulled it out and finished the run with a little remaining pain. Later that morning after the run my foot swelled up and I could hardly walk. This persisted for two days when I finally bought some Ibuprofen and the swelling and pain subsided. Apparently these thorns contain some kind of poison and since this thing went to the bone, I was injected. Luckily, 50 mile race is a week and a half away and I have time to make this better.

20JUL02 One week before the race in Washington, Trish, Alli and I drove to Mt. Lemmon to get our first run on the trails since the reopening of the national forest. Actually this was my second trail run since the forest reopened July 18th. I had run an out and back to Sabino Basin on Phoneline Trail. It has rained every other night for the past two weeks so the dryness in the forest is getting quenched.

We parked at Sunset Trail across from the closed Butterfly Trail on Mt. Lemmon Highway. I ran from Sunset to Marshall Gulch up to Mint Springs and back down to Marshall Gulch. I ran fairly easy just to climb a few hills and not wear myself out before the 50 miler. We had all planned on only running less than two hours. Since I had gained a mile or two on the girls I could take a mile long detour on the Aspen Draw Trail. To my dismay I misjudged the direction of the trail and ended back up at Mint Springs. I thought I might be going in the wrong direction as I was climbing a hell of a lot. I persisted though, and after awhile I was past the point of no return – about 30 minutes, and hoped for the best. Eventually after 40 minutes I came to the saddle and the four-way intersection. I couldn’t believe one of the signs said Mint Springs. To my recollection the only Mint Springs was back at Marshall Gulch. After reading the other trail signs it dawned on what had happened. I was now 2.8 miles away from where I needed to be and my watch said 1 hour and 43 minutes. From here I ran hard because I figured if I was over two hours the girls would get worried. I ended up back at the car in 2:10. The mistake added 3.7 miles to my run and a lot harder effort than I initially planned for.

The last week before the race I took Monday and then Friday off and biked 44 miles over two separate rides on Tuesday. The afternoon ride was brutal die to strong headwinds and side gusts. My quads were smashed for two days after this ride. I ran six and seven miles easy the next two days to loosen my quads. My big toe still hurts a little so I have still been using Ibuprofen.

27JUL02 White River 50 Mile I woke up at 5am at the Crystal mountain Resort about 80 miles southeast of Seattle, Washington. The sky is clear and clean, just beautiful. The race start is at 6:30am and the temperature is around 50 degrees. The only thing going through my head is “Wow, I can’t believe I haven’t run a 50 miler in over 2 years.”

My goal today is to use this race to gain some mental strength for Angeles Crest. I figure if I have a good day I might be around 8 hours but the worst case scenario would be anything under 10 hours on a difficult course. I would still have the benefit of completing the distance and time on my feet. The first six miles are basically flat with little dips on single track, densely wooded trail with abundant roots and rocks. I felt comfortable near the lead pack so I kept contact while running in a single file. Once we started climbing some serious switchbacks, the pace eased up. The climbing was relentless. The race start is at 500 feet elevation and this first part of the course tops out at 5600 feet. I worked a little to stay with the lead group at times but for the most part I was able to relax and followed my plan of using electrolytes at half hour intervals.

Prior to the start I drank an Ensure with two salt tablets. One hour into the race I consumed one electrolyte cap and another a half hour later. At 1:45 I ate a Clif shot. At the 16.9 full service aid station I took two electrolyte caps and let the front pack go. The next 2.9 miles after the aid station are slightly downhill except for one or two annoying uphills. After that the trail drops precipitously for almost 8 miles. At this point I reached the 27.1 mile aid station which is also the start right at 4 hours. I did not place a drop bag here so I wasn’t able to grab a hat or sunglasses as I originally planned for the second half of the more exposed second half of the race.

From the midway aid station I ran a couple of flat miles before beginning an 8 mile ascent to Sun Top. The Sun Top trail is the second major climb of the race topping out at 5200 feet. I walked the majority of this hill due to fatigue. Several runners passed me during this section. After the 33 mile aid station I passed a couple of runners and also a couple that decided to drop out. I was able to shuffle a little more after 33; maybe the orange slices helped. Eventually I came to a summit with an awesome unclouded view of snow covered Mt. Rainier. The trail then dropped for a mile, crossed a road and then climbed 400 feet in half a mile to the 36.4 mile aid station atop the actual Sun Top Peak. From here the course descends for 7 miles down a dirt road that you could actually lean forward and make some timely progress.

The last couple of miles before Sun Top and most of the way down the gravel road I was running with Tom Possert from Ohio and Dink Taylor from Alabama. I got to the 43.4 mile aid station about a minute ahead of them and spent only 30 seconds here in order to get out before they could see me leave. The last 6.6 miles of the race is undulating single track in heavy forest along the literally White River. Except for a couple of steep small hills, I ran the entire way believing I had a remote shot at breaking 8 hours. I also wanted to maintain my place. After a couple miles my shoulders felt tight so I made a conscious effort to relax. My paced slowed a bit but mentally I felt better. With only one or two miles to go I forced myself to push again for fear of someone behind me. Finally I came to the gravel road that leads to the start / finish area with only .4 miles left. A quick glance at my watch said 7:57:45. I ran as hard as I could and made a left turn with no finish line in sight. Another couple hundred yards and out in a clearing were the orange cones as my watch said 7:59:43. I cleared the finish line in 8:00:14.

What a relief to stop and eat and drink and relax. I feel very good about this effort today. I finished in 15th place with six guys all within 20 minutes behind me. I don’t feel so bad having guys in front me like Nate McDowell in 6:50 and course record, or Hal Koerner, William Emerson, Karl Meltzer, Scott Jurek, Dennis Poolheco, and Mark Godale. Only four weeks remain before Headlands 50K in Marin County, north of San Francisco and nine weeks left before AC 100. I feel I’ll need at least a week to recover from this 50 mile. After that I need to start working on a couple of nighttime runs.

09AUG02 Night Run I organized our first night run for a Friday night. Trish and I bought refreshments for the end of the run and stashed our Suburban at Molino Basin. It has been raining pretty heavily for the last couple of hours in the Catalinas. As we head back over to Sabino Canyon Visitor’s Center for the 8pm start the rain has just moved out. This is my first time running trails at night. I just purchased two new flashlights; one handheld Princeton Tec halogen beam run on 2AA batteries and a Petzl Tikka headlamp lit by LEDs. There is a new moon tonight but with the remaining cloud cover and the reflection of the city lights we are able run up most of the 3.7 miles on the road without using our lamps. I ended up turning mine on halfway up the road after spotting a skunk or two out of the corner of my eye. For water I carried a full 100 ounce Camelbak with no handheld bottles. I am also breaking in a new pair of Saucony Gird Xterra trail shoes. I settled for a pair a half size too large and paid for it. These shoes sucked even if they had been the right size. They were very slippery on wet rocks. I figure these shoes must be a gimmick by Saucony to break into the trail running market with a flashy yellow pair of shoes with a few lugs on the bottom of the shoe. They went back into the box and were returned the next week. At least the lights worked real well.

Our route took us to Sabino Basin, over to Sycamore Reservoir, through Prison Camp and then down to Molino Basin; approximately 15 miles. There were plenty of stream crossings and slippery rocks after the monsoon. We turned onto the Sycamore Reservoir Trail in pretty good shape. As usual there were a few Manzanita trees bent over on trail that were hard to budge. We ran out of trail halfway in near a washout. Chris, Pete and I tried all kinds of options. I discovered a left turn up a scant trail prior to getting lost so we decided to take it. No luck. This route emptied us onto a sandbar so we turned back. After rechecking the washed out area we found the proper left turn right on front of our eyes. After 25 minutes of searching we were back on but only for a short while as we took another wrong turn. This time our detour was only five minutes but enough for Paul and the girls to catch up with us at the intersection heading up to Prison Camp.

Our total time out was 3:48. I felt this run to be very beneficial and discovered night running was not as difficult as I originally thought it would be. Although we were awake until 1:00am I’m sure running until sunrise will be another experience.

24AUG02 Doctor’s Visit The week after the night run my left foot had experienced recurring pain and swelling from the thorn puncture of five weeks ago. Although I can run with discomfort it does not seem to be getting better. I finally visited the doctor in hopes of getting a prescription for an anti-inflammatory. I walked out with an X-ray that showed nothing. I decided not to run for five days during which time I biked three days for 120 miles. I also used Advil and soaked my foot in hot water a few times. Nothing seemed to have changed so I called the doctor’s office and told them I still had pain. A day later they called back and actually gave me 10 day sample of VIOXX. This is supposed to be the newest anti-inflammatory on the market mostly used for treating arthritis pain. I took the first dose one day before Headlands 50K held north of San Francisco in Marin County. I don’t know if it did any good or not so I took one more tablet that evening and then took the regular dose the morning of the race.

25AUG02 Headlands 50K The race starts at 7am on Rodeo Beach. We ran across the sand and funneled onto a short uphill single track trail. After a mile or so the trail follows the Miwok Trail up a long steep uphill. After topping out, the descent on the other side is just as long and steep dropping into Tennessee Valley. I passed about 5 or 6 runners on the first uphill and settled into about 20th place by the first aid station which I blew right through.

The course consists of eight major climbs and six descents. After the first aid station 1 we began the 2nd climb. There were a couple of runners around me that backed off on this hill. I am able to run the hill and ignoring the consequences later in the race and have created a gap between me and the next guy as I went into the next long downhill segment. I figure these guys I just passed will probably catch me before the bottom as I back off a little on the downhill to save my quads. I was right, by the third aid station three guys caught me as we prepared to climb up the Dipsea Trail. My hill climbing ability isn’t fast but it is relentless today and I am able to maintain a steady pace all the way up Dipsea to the double aid station prior to Stinson Beach loop.

Running this race last year and knowing the course has given me an advantage. Last year I ran early downhills with reckless abandon and paid for it late in the race. This year, by saving a little early on the descents I was able to climb out at the end pretty effectively. One interesting thing about this race is there is actually a 10 foot ladder to climb up at mile 19.

Once around the Stinson Beach loop I arrived back at the double aid station and was instructed that the next 5 miles are downhill with about 10 total miles remaining. As I leave and begin to descend I can feel the fatigue in my quads. This will be a section not to hammer. Finally at the second to last aid station there is a runner recuperating when I get there and a runner coming in behind me. The first guy and I leave at the same time and climb a steep hill while talking to each other. After this nasty hill the trail picks up Coastal trail which is fairly runnable except for a couple short steep spots. I walked away from the guy I was with and noticed another runner seemingly gaining ground. I continued to walk hard and fast on the steep uphills and kept moving to the downhill dirtroad to the last aid station. At this point it was very difficult to run hard downhill so I tried to relax and stride out. I grabbed a gel at the bottom and began the last major climb of the race at 28 miles.

Initially when I looked behind me while going around turns, there was a runner back about 150 feet. As I got further up the hill into some steeper portions my walking pace must have been faster than his. Actually I was jogging some sections that I had bonked on last year. There are a couple false summits before topping out but finally I reached the pavement, indicating half a mile left downhill. I ran in as fast as I could and even passed one more runner 200 yards from the finish. I finished in 4:22:41, 15 minutes faster than last year and a new PR for the course in 17th place.

My foot problem turned out to not be a factor today although I was aware of it. The practice of consuming a gel at the first sign of hunger worked well. I took two salt tablets before the race and a Luna Bar and a can of Ensure. I thought that I had messed up by not taking electrolyte tabs after this but apparently the full finger pinches of rock salt at the aid stations worked. The weather turned out mostly overcast with wet fog in many areas unlike last year’s sunny warm day. I feel ready now for the 100 miler which is only five weeks away.

Four days after the race my foot pain is still an issue. I may have to implement a bike plan with minimal running over the next few weeks. The bike seems to be keeping me fit aerobically and leg strengthwise. All that is left now is tickets to Disneyland and don’t get injured.

08SEP02 Here I am, a year past my first entry into this journal and once again the Mt. Wrightson Ascent. I haven’t run in 9 days due to rehabilitating my toe problem. Instead of running I have been vigorously biking, stair stepping and lifting weights. This morning is cool and humid. We get started at 7:06am and begin the ascent from 5400 to 9400 feet. Due to the continuous climbing at the start I do not notice if my leg speed has been affected by the lack of running. They are accumulating lactic acid quickly though as my lungs go into oxygen debt. I reached Josephine saddle right at 30 minutes. I believe this is my fastest split to this point. As I continue to Baldy Saddle I have to power walk a few short stretches. From Baldy to the top is fairly runnable except that by this time you are usually beat. I check my watch a few times and it appears I may be able to go under 1:15. Each time I walk my chances become slimmer. With two switchbacks left my watch says 1:14:32. After the last final charge I stop my watch at exactly 1:15. The run up to Mt. Baldy is only 5.4 miles; 5.2 according to some. Instead of coming back the same route I decided to take a longer trail called Super Trail which is about 3 miles longer in length. I ended the day with 13.5 miles.

10SEP02 Yesterday I was notified by e-mail that the Angeles Crest 100 mile run was being cancelled this year due to forest fires in the Angeles Forest thus the Forest Service was denying the permit. Obviously this was an emotional blow. I knew there was a chance this could happen and sometimes actually wished it would since my toe was still in pain. Until it actually did happen though, I continued to prepare myself the last couple of weeks more mentally than physically. So when the news finally arrived I cried to myself as this past year’s training did not result in an ultimate effort. Yes, good things did come out of the past year. I ran a PR in the 50K. I ran my first 50 mile race in over two years and I am probably the most fit I have ever been. My entry has been rolled over for next year. Right now I don’t really know what I want to do. Thank God for our wonderful trail series in Tucson. They all start over again this month. So until next spring I will try and keep myself fit and injury free and maintain a good mental attitude. I think next year may be a good year to run five or six 50 mile races as I once again prepare to run the AC100. This time I believe I may be able to run a little more competitively since I’m bound to be stronger than I am now…famous last words.