Thursday, August 20, 2015

Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run

Finish Area
Photo by Chris Jones

I qualified for the 2015 Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run by registering a year in advance, completing at least one 50 mile run, and volunteering a full day of trail improvement work. The 33 hour cutoff is not generous. I finished in 2012 with a time of 32:30. My goal this year was to improve on that time.

My team consisted of my brother in law Jim McClain and a SoCal Coyote Running teammate, John Kurst. Jim crewed the first part of the course and then paced me from the halfway point at Chilao to mile 75 at Chantry after which John paced me to the finish.

Mile 9.3 highway crossing
Photo by Helen Wu
The initial climb out of Wrightwood sets the stage of a relentlessly challenging course. The ensuing series of rolling descents lead to the second big climb of the day, Mt. Baden-Powell. After that, the first 25 miles concludes with another section of rolling terrain.

From Islip Saddle, runners start another climb, this up Mt. Williamson. Before Cloudburst, Cooper Canyon is a notorious place in the race where mountain altitude and midday heat combine. At the conclusion of the first half of the race, pacers and crew await at Chilao.

Miles 50-75 include three distinct segments. The first few miles reach a ridge where the trail dips down into a canyon before climbing up back up to Shortcut Saddle. From Shortcut, it is a very long fireroad descent. Climbing to Newcomb Pass is just a teaser of what the course still has in store. Jim helped me reach Chantry Flats ten minutes ahead of my 2012 split. Leaving an aid station in the middle of the night, we were advised that a mountain lion was reported in the upcoming section.

Mile 95
Photo by Louis Kwan
The remaining 25 miles is arguably the most difficult of all. The long climb to near the top of Mt. Wilson only gets steeper towards the end. After a rocky, drought-ridden descent recently eroded by hard rains into Idlehour Canyon, the last big climb of the race takes you up to Sam Merrill aid station.

My pacer for the last 25 miles, John Kurst, selflessly helped me through all the aid stations. I was fortunate to recruit his help from SoCal Coyote Running. In John's section, we improved on my 2012 split by 30 minutes. 
Finished in 31 hours, 53 minutes.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Summer Update and the Year Ahead

Bulldog 25k, photo by Becky Galland
Had a great time running Bulldog 25k yesterday. It was my fastest lap of Malibu Creek State Park by forty seconds per mile. I had originally signed up for the 50k, but chose to to run a shorter distance at a faster pace instead. In 2011, it was extremely hot. This year was sunny and warm, but mild in comparison.

I swam the Dwight Crum Pier to Pier earlier in August. It was the fifth time I’ve completed the event. The water was very warm this year, around 70 degrees. The coldest year I swam it dipped to 58 degrees Excellent conditions and an always competitive field produced lots of fast times. The top 25 this year were under 45 minutes. Shark sightings during the race made the news.

The first weekend of August, I followed the Angeles Crest 100 Mile Endurance Run from home, online. I switched between social media and the heralded live tracking website to watch the race unfold. The next day at noon, registration opened for 2015 and I was lucky to get a spot before it sold out in a record 15 minutes!

Next up, a pair of cycling events in September. The Amtrak Century is from the Irvine Amtrak Station to San Diego. Later in September, the local metric century, Rat Beach Ride. Then, my AC100 qualifier at the end of November, the Santa Barabara Red Rock 50 Miler. And there is one more upcoming race already on the calendar, the Santiago Marathon in April 2014, although I could do the 13.1 mile race instead at this event.

To conclude this post, I want to thank the Vistamar School Cross Country team, coaches, and administration for inviting me to lead a few runs over the Summer. It was fun, challenging, and an honor to train with you.

Friday, May 2, 2014

My 10th Year with Type 1 Diabetes

I commemorated my tenth year of living with type one diabetes by running ultramarathons in the mountains.

Santa Barbara Red Rock 50M, November 2013

Avalon 50M, January 2014
Photo by Gil Blank

Sean O'Brien 50M February 2014
Photo by Louis Kwan

Old Goats 50k, March 2014
Photo by Keith Kasin

Grand Canyon, Spring 2014

And most recently, Leona Divide in April 2014.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Carlsbad 13.1 and Triabetes Training Camp

Carlsbad Half Marathon- January 2013

2013 was my fourth year at the Carlsbad Marathon weekend with Insulindependence. We had over 100 runners and volunteers on the team. This year, I signed up to set a new PR at the 13.1 road half marathon distance. I succeeded with a 1:38 holding a steady, consistent effort.

Mile 11- Photo by Brennan Cassidy
As I gain more race experience, my sense of pacing at each distance improves. I had no illusions of outstanding specific fitness for this particular race, yet I managed to hold a very even pace from start to finish. I started in the third wave and picked my way through minimal traffic before finding a good rhythm. I enjoyed having dozens of friends at the race, many wearing the same jersey and running for a shared cause.
Friendly competition can be a great source of motivation. At least two teammates led the way and, in the spirit of racing, I tried my best to catch them while also staying within my own limits. Two other friends followed just minutes behind, promising to pass if I slowed. Late in race, I got a boost of energy at the Insulindependence pirate-themed water station. I was happy to see them, but purposely ran through without slowing. The ideal So Cal winter beach weather allowed me to rely on prehydration during this less than two hour effort. I only took water a few times to chase the gels.

Triabetes Training Camp- February 2013

I was honored to be invited to participate in this year’s Triabetes Training Camp in Tucson, AZ. This year’s captains are training for Ironman Boulder 70.3 in August. We were led by Coach Cliff Scherb, a triathlon and diabetes expert who is aiming to become the world’s fastest diabetic ironman. Club Manager Vic Kinnunen handled logistics and served as a team dad of sorts. IN Staff member Brennan Cassidy who recently had a strong IM debut of his own, drove SAG and facilitated the camp. My role was to participate as a past captain alongside the current group of captains; a treat to say the least. Accomplished T1D athletes Bill Carlson and James Stout also joined us.

Halfway up Mount Lemmon with Vic

The highlight of training in Tucson, besides making new friends, is riding Mt. Lemmon. It is a long, sustained climb that rewards you with a fast descent full of wide, sweeping turns. The cool weather this year made for perfect climbing conditions.

Looking Ahead

I might run the LA Marathon in March. A friend offered his bib that he is unable to use due to an injury. My goal race is the Leona Divide 50M in April. I ran it last year in under twelve hours. This year, I aim to take up to an hour off that time. While my diabetic friends across the country help me confront living with a broken pancreas, my So Cal Coyote Running teammates are my regular, local training partners, coaches, and mentors especially out on the trails. Looking forward to ramping up the mileage this month... after all, it's the journey, not the destination, that matters most.