Month: April 2007

Marathoner and daughter attacked

There was an amazing story in the LA Times on Sunday (and today) about a runner and his daughter who were attacked by a grizzly in Glacier National Park, Montana. Johan Otter suffered most of the injuries between the two — his scalp was completely torn off from his hairline to the base of his neck, he had a detached muscle from his right eye from a blowout fracture, 28 lacerations, puncture wounds, fractures of the second, sixth, and seventh cervical vertebrae, and broken ribs. Then only 10 months later, and after being in a halo, plus a new scalp made of skin from his thigh and muscles from his back, he ran a 3:39 in the R&R Marathon in San Diego.

Part 1 of the story here.
Part 2 of the story here.
Also check out the incredible video footage and photos of their rescue and recovery.

OD confirmation

Well, I’m now officially entered into Old Dominion.

Ray Waldron wrote:
> Andy,
> check recieved today! We’ll have your confirmation and rule book is in
> the mail to you tomorrow! Take care and see you soon!
>
> Wynne Waldron
> Co-race Director.

Gonna take it easy…


That’s what I said I’d do before I headed out beyond the Curtain Saturday morning for an OCTR-sponsored training run in Chino Hills. There was a good turnout — I think Krissy and I were the only foreigners amidst a Grove of Oranges (I don’t know what the collective term is for people from The OC, but I like the acronym — GOO), but I felt safe, since among them were Michelle, Keira, Jess, and Kim, who are so cool that I sometimes forget they’re from The OC. 🙂

I’d never run in this area before — the only previous visit was during a mtn biking excursion with some adventure racing friends several years ago through Carbon Cyn. Anyway, after a group photo (it almost seemed there were more cameras than runners at one point), we were off on our first 7 mile loop. We ran mostly together at first, then started bunching up with others who were going at similar paces. When we got to 4 Corners (equivalent to The Hub in my neck-of-the-woods), we stopped to let some of the others catch up.

I think from there, it was Greg, Eric, Krissy, Kyle, and Michelle the rest of the way. Once we got back to the car in just about an hour, we refilled for the next 10 mile loop. We stayed together until the climb up North Ridge, at which point there was a clear separation between the elite runners, and everyone else — I was of course part of the latter group. Just before we hit Sycamore, I caught up with the former group, then ran together the rest of the way back to our cars, finishing right around 3 hours. Krissy, Michelle, Greg, and Eric went out for more, while Kyle and I hung out and chatted. The conversation was diverse, but mainly focused around my dayjob as a massage therapist — perfect profession to take advantage of my sinewy forearms and supple hands. Right Keira?

Afterwards, we headed down to grab some food/drinks nearby, then went our separate ways. So I’m happy to report that I made it back to LA safe and sound, and there is proof that the OC isn’t so bad after all. Oh yeah, and the trails aren’t that bad either…

So who’s brave enough to venture into LA? What’s everyone’s doing for Memorial Day? I’m still planning on a picnic/run out in Rancho PV — details to follow.

First AC training


Sunday was the first official AC100 training run from Chilao to Chantry Flats — miles 53 to 75 on the course, totaling 22 miles with 3000′ gain and 6000′ of descent. A lot of that downhill consisted of the near 1 hour quad-buster from Shortcut to the bottom of Newcomb — very similar to the Harding Truck Trail, but much shorter, yet equally boring. The good thing (?) is that during the race, we (at least I) go through there when it’s dark.

There was about a dozen of us who started the run, including last week’s Leona finishers Kyle, Michael, David, Carmella, Ben, Xy, and several others, including some rookie AC hopefuls who I didn’t recognize. Barefoot Ted ran in his custom Vibram Huaraches — I opted for some regular shoes instead. We met at Chantry, then carpooled out to the start at Chilao, so our run didn’t start until close to 9am. Gary Hilliard and Tom Nielson had marked the course earlier, so Kyle was relieved of his ribbon duties, but even still, a few people managed to get lost anyway — same turn Bill and I missed during last year’s training run, and ended up running down Angeles Crest Hwy back to Shortcut. This time, Hal drove over there to make sure everyone stayed on course — it was good he did, since a couple missed the turn just as he drove up.

Kyle caught me just before that turnoff, then we ran into Shortcut together where Hal was waiting — just over an hour into the run. I ate some bite-sized pizza and pig-in-a-blanket (I still think it wasn’t real meat), then we took off down the long fireroad. It was hot. I had a 50oz bladder and a 20oz handheld — I hardly had anything left when we refilled at Sturtevant. From Newcomb Pass to Chantry is nice rolling single-track, zig-zagging along the creek until we reach the bridge (which was taped off) at the bottom, then it’s a short steep climb up to the parking lot. About a couple miles out, we saw JR heading in the opposite direction on his training run.

We finished just about 4 hours, as the temperatures peaked into the 80’s. Hal was waiting for us again, and after a cold Mtn Dew, I took off for my friend’s b-day party.

Next up will be the PCT50 in San Diego next weekend. It’s the first 25 miles of the SD100 starting from Boulder Oaks out to Penny Pines and back. This will be my first time running this race, since I’ve been out at MMT the last two years, but have done this section 3 times while doing the 100 miler.

Del Cerro Park — Memorial Day Run

This morning was my first run back in the ‘hood — that meant heading to Del Cerro Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, a 5 minute drive from my house where I moved back to on Wednesday.  I hadn’t been there in at least 2 years, and last I remember, it was pretty barren from the wildfire that scorched a lot of that area.  Ever since I’ve lived in the South Bay (1986), I’ve been training there, from the days I was racing mountain bikes in the early 90’s, until I moved away over 2 years ago when I started getting into trail running.  There is a relatively large network of trails there, and it’s popular within the mountain biking community as well.  The area is directly adjacent to Palos Verdes Dr, and thus, you will have a magnificent view of the ocean almost anywhere along those trails.  It’s also pretty easy to find and get to — just make your way to Crenshaw Blvd (for most, that’s off the 405, north of the 110), and head south until the road ends right at the trailhead.

So I started my run like I’ve normally done, and even when I was still biking — a steep single track that starts on the west side of Crenshaw, just north of the parking lot entrance.  It looks like there was very little regrowth from the fire, and the drought that we’ve been hit with hasn’t helped.  Usually around this time of year, the brush is pretty high and thick, but there was hardly anything green this time.  What makes these trails so nice is the proximity to the ocean, so you get the cool breeze (which was much appreciated today in the 80+ degree heat), not to mention an almost 180 degree view of the Pacific the entire time, very much like the Santa Monicas.

The single-track trails criss-cross the main fireroad that cuts through the middle, all the way down to PV Drive.  It’s mostly runnable, and fairly non-technical, with a couple very steep but short sections.  I took my usual route, then veered off onto a couple newly cut sections, which were nicely groomed.  I continued heading south towards the Ladera Linda Community Center where I would be filling up with water.  On the way, I noticed a couple new signs, indicating that I was entering the Forrestal Nature Preserve — this was put up within the last couple years.  They had cut some switchbacks up to a mesa, and also adjacent to the quarry.  All the trails had names now, and indicated the distance and elevation gain.  Look here for some photos of the area.  Eventually, I made it out to the community center, filled up my bottle, then headed back.  On the return, I took some other trails that I was familiar with, and eventually made it back to my car — 2 hours and 3000′ later.  I don’t know the total mileage, but guessing it was around 10-12.

So the whole time I kept thinking how it’d be nice to introduce other runners to the area, and decided that I’d put together a fun run on Memorial Day.  I’m still tossing around some ideas, but it would definitely involve a picnic/BBQ at the park, which overlooks the ocean.  I’ve been in touch with the Dept of Park & Rec at RPV, and they seem to be ok with the idea.  They want some more detail, so I’ll be sending it to them shortly.  In the meantime, mark your calendars — Monday May 28th.  I’m headed out with Carmella next Sunday to scout some more trails, so if anyone else is interested in a preview, come on down.

Ok…time to go to bed so I can get up for the OCTR run in the morning.  I still need to decide what to wear…hope there’s no dress code.  🙂

Del Cerro Park — Memorial Day Run

This morning was my first run back in the ‘hood — that meant heading to Del Cerro Park in Rancho Palos Verdes, a 5 minute drive from my house where I moved back to on Wednesday. I hadn’t been there in at least 2 years, and last I remember, it was pretty barren from the wildfire that scorched a lot of that area. Ever since I’ve lived in the South Bay (1986), I’ve been training there, from the days I was racing mountain bikes in the early 90’s, until I moved away over 2 years ago when I started getting into trail running. There is a relatively large network of trails there, and it’s popular within the mountain biking community as well. The area is directly adjacent to Palos Verdes Dr, and thus, you will have a magnificent view of the ocean almost anywhere along those trails. It’s also pretty easy to find and get to — just make your way to Crenshaw Blvd (for most, that’s off the 405, north of the 110), and head south until the road ends right at the trailhead.

So I started my run like I’ve normally done, and even when I was still biking — a steep single track that starts on the west side of Crenshaw, just north of the parking lot entrance. It looks like there was very little regrowth from the fire, and the drought that we’ve been hit with hasn’t helped. Usually around this time of year, the brush is pretty high and thick, but there was hardly anything green this time. What makes these trails so nice is the proximity to the ocean, so you get the cool breeze (which was much appreciated today in the 80+ degree heat), not to mention an almost 180 degree view of the Pacific the entire time, very much like the Santa Monicas.

The single-track trails criss-cross the main fireroad that cuts through the middle, all the way down to PV Drive. It’s mostly runnable, and fairly non-technical, with a couple very steep but short sections. I took my usual route, then veered off onto a couple newly cut sections, which were nicely groomed. I continued heading south towards the Ladera Linda Community Center where I would be filling up with water. On the way, I noticed a couple new signs, indicating that I was entering the Forrestal Nature Preserve — this was put up within the last couple years. They had cut some switchbacks up to a mesa, and also adjacent to the quarry. All the trails had names now, and indicated the distance and elevation gain. Look here for some photos of the area. Eventually, I made it out to the community center, filled up my bottle, then headed back. On the return, I took some other trails that I was familiar with, and eventually made it back to my car — 2 hours and 3000′ later. I don’t know the total mileage, but guessing it was around 10-12.

So the whole time I kept thinking how it’d be nice to introduce other runners to the area, and decided that I’d put together a fun run on Memorial Day. I’m still tossing around some ideas, but it would definitely involve a picnic/BBQ at the park, which overlooks the ocean. I’ve been in touch with the Dept of Park & Rec at RPV, and they seem to be ok with the idea. They want some more detail, so I’ll be sending it to them shortly. In the meantime, mark your calendars — Monday May 28th. I’m headed out with Carmella next Sunday to scout some more trails, so if anyone else is interested in a preview, come on down.

Ok…time to go to bed so I can get up for the OCTR run in the morning. I still need to decide what to wear…hope there’s no dress code. 🙂

Zane Grey

It is billed as the toughest 50 Miler, and it’s this Saturday. The race definitely attracts some talented runners — I see that Anton Krupicka, last year’s Leadville winner who holds the second fastest course time next to Matt Carpenter’s record-breaking performance in 2005 will definitely challenge Dave Mackey’s 7:51. Also can’t ignore Karl Meltzer or Hal Koerner, and a few others who I can see in the lead pack.

Will any of the women beat or come close to Nikki Kimball’s 9:14? Tania? Sue? Olga?

Can’t wait for the results — hopefully I’ll make it back out of the OC this Saturday to see them.

Be back soon…

8:30 — I’m going to do my final load of laundry. Lucy is still getting ready — she has a Dr’s appt, so didn’t go into work this morning. She’s sitting on the floor with her laptop open, frantically searching for American Idol news, because she couldn’t watch it last night since her TV is now in Boise. She yells — Lakisha may be cut tonight. Good…I never liked her anyway. I wish Haley or Antonella were still in — who cares if they couldn’t sing. Oh wait — am I supposed to know who these people are?

9:15 — Lucy left, and I decide to load the rest of my stuff in my car after I head out for my last run through the neighborhood. I lace up my shoes, lock the door, and head east on Sierra Madre. The sun is warm. There’s Mt Wilson to the left — wait, no, that’s Mt Harvard…very distinct three-pronged antenna sits on top there. I push play on my iPod, which masks the usual hum of the morning leaf blowers.

Where will I run today? I never have a plan — just run where/when and however far I feel like for the day. This morning is different though, since it’s my last day here. I want it to be special. I have a few favorite streets. Hmmm…which one shall I do today? I know — all of them! I’m going to run through all my favorite sections. I start with a slow jog to warmup. Why do my legs feel tired? Oh yeah…it’s only been a few days since Leona.

First stop sign — turn left on Sunnyside. I can see all the way to the base of the mountains, where the Catholic retreat is. Long gradual uphill. My cadence is smooth now. I hear a bird sing — what a musical voice it has. I wonder what it is. I see a pair of wild parrots fly across. It can’t be them — they don’t sound like that. They’re so annoying. Maybe I heard something else.

I reach the gate. Turn right onto a dirt footpath that runs parallel to the backyard of homes on the adjacent street. Nice pool — wish I lived there. Hop a log, and squeeze around the gate, then along the chain link fence that surrounds Bailey Cyn Park, where I had a little fun run 2 years ago. This was one of my favorite trails, and only a handful of people know about it. Very few are ever on it, but I’ve seen Hiker Bob there several times during my runs. It’s only 5 minutes from my place — at least it was.

I continue east on Carter. A short steep climb, then a nice downhill to Baldwin. The road cambers to the right — stay left. More leaf blowers. I cross the intersection, and continue downhill to Mira Monte. A sharp left, and one block to the Mt Wilson trailhead. There are a couple hikers in front of Lizzie’s — they’re sweaty. I run by, and notice the construction still happening at the park — I wonder when they’ll be done.

Left on Sturtevant. Sound familiar? The AC100 skirts around a campground of the same name as the course veers south down the canyon. The road sharply turns left. Hop on the sidewalk — just in time as a car screams around the corner. Surprised? No — it’s happened enough times before.

At the 4-way intersection, I turn right, then left across a bridge. I notice there’s still water flowing — soon, it’ll be bone dry. Down a hill, and right at the bottom — there’s Gary and Pam’s place. They hosted the SoCal Ultra Series party a couple months ago. I continue to the end of the street, then turn left on Grandview. More downhill, then it starts going up. Just before the road crests, I turn left. There’s the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue headquarters, I continue bearing to the right. Wow I don’t remember it being this steep, but it’s been a while since I’d been through there. Should I walk? Yeah…no one’s watching. Oh wait, here comes a lady walking her dog — looks like Sean’s lab Sam who I’ve introduced to the trails up here. I remember him pulling me up Bailey Canyon one time. That was fun. Gillian came up too, and I remember there was a lot of snow up at the top. They couldn’t believe I lived so close to such wonderful trails — I couldn’t either.

Ok, the lady saw me, so better start running. Good morning. I run by. I look around — it’s clear, so I walk again. It’s a short hill, so I already reached the top. Turn right, down to the bottom. There’s the yellow gate to head up to Chantry Flat. Anyone who’s done AC or heard about it know that it’s the 75 mile mark where the race really begins. It’s 3 miles to the parking lot, which is now drivable — just before last year’s AC, they finally fixed the road a third of the way up that was completely washed out from the storms a couple years ago.

30 minutes now into the run, I turn right and head down Santa Anita, then a quick left onto Elkins. This is now Arcadia. Lots of big expensive homes. Big trees too — the kind where you can hang a tire and swing from, the same kind Turbo drags on trails. I think she needs to read the manual again.

I go as far east as I can — the road ends at the LADPW gate into the Wilderness Park. I’ve explored that a bit, but there wasn’t much. It’s pretty hidden, so hardly anyone goes there, but they have nice facilities for a picnic/bbq.

I head south now on Highland Oaks to Doshier — time to start heading back. A left then a right puts me back on Sierra Madre — 1 mile to downtown, where I’m going to stop for a Starbucks. I look down the street to see if there’s a radar trap today. Nope. On the right is Sierra Vista Park — time for a pit stop. Baseball diamond, tennis courts, swimming pool, rec center. In the rear, is where the Sierra Madre Rose Parade float is built and housed. Adjacent to the park is the town cemetery — I bet it’s been around for a while. Yup. I see that person passed away in 1933, there’s one that says 1941.

The sun feels warmer now. No, the temperature’s the same — it’s just me. I see Mt Wilson to my right this time. The road to the stop sign is an ever so gradual uphill — barely detectable when fresh, but feels like a wall after several miles. It reminds me of The Boulevard at Leadville. I pretend I’m running there. I remember it very well from 2005. I was struggling. Racing the clock. Veteran ultrarunner Bob Boeder was next to me, but no one behind — I was the last person on the course. Today, I was in no hurry — no clock to beat this time.

I reach the intersection — downtown Sierra Madre. There’s not much, only things that matter the most — Starbucks, ColdStone, Curves, Dominos…but no signal. There are none. Locals call it Sierra Mayberry. I walk into Starbucks, but I don’t place an order, because they already know what I get — grande caramel macchiato and an LA Times. I sit at a table outside, enjoying the gorgeous day, trying not to think about having to give this up. I never would’ve thought that I’d ever fall in love with this city. How can you resist? It’s almost perfect.

There’s Jim and his dog Squirrel — I met them at the Buccaneer (or the Buc as the locals call it). Calendar. Sports. Business. California. Whatever happened to the Metro section anyway? What about the Herald Examiner. You’re probably too young, or not from LA. Nothing left to read other than the classifieds. No more coffee either. I check the time — it’s 11. I better return to finish packing. It’s just a short 1 mile back home. I start jogging. No, I’m going to walk today. I don’t want this run to end too soon.

There’s Memorial Park with the City Hall, police station, and the volunteer fire department side by side. I keep walking. I hear music, but my iPod isn’t on. It can’t be the leaf blower. What’s that smell? Must be those purple flowers. They weren’t there before. I think I would’ve noticed if they were.

Across the street, there’s the new coffee shop that’s supposed to open soon. It’s called Steamers. I was looking forward to it. There’s the BofA — where I do my banking. I’m only 2 blocks away now. I pass by the women’s club. My driveway is now in view. I turn in. Unit 29, 28…17, 16, 15.

I see my next door neighbor. She lives alone — well, not really, if you count her dogs. She likes to chat — almost too much. I say hello, and quickly walk inside and close the door to avoid getting into a long conversation. I started taking off my shoes, then stopped. I went back outside. Hey Carol — just wanted to say that I’m going to miss having you as my neighbor.