Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Part 4 of "How I Learned to Love a Loincloth"

The Non Believer

“What’s this?”

“I don’t know.”

She continued gathering my costumes - the Caribbean woman whose job it was to gather the performers’ costumes. Man, did she really hate that job. I don’t blame her. All she did was clean, steam, and hand out a warehouse full of costumes to a bunch of wannabe actors, writers, and directors.

I stared at and examined the striped pajama top and bottoms. And then the large, furry, yellow head.

I lifted the ticket and read. “It says ‘Bananas In Pajamas’. Have you ever heard of them?”

Caribbean Woman shrugged.

“I really don’t know. I’ve never given this out to anyone. It’s brand new.”

I consulted with one of the company’s owners, and she explained that this was a popular children’s show in Great Britain called – unsurprisingly – “Bananas in Pajamas”, and that it now was gaining popularity in the U.S.

“What do they do? Or how do they act?” I asked.

“They’re just super silly characters with English accents. Just be goofy with an English accent and you’re golden.”

Excellent. I was to be a golden banana. With a really shitty fake, British accent.

I do remember this weekend being insanely hot, because prior to this show, I’d performed in *another “head costume” (costumes when you have to wear a fake head over your own. Most companies pay a little more for this type of costume. This one did not.) and downed two big bottles of water afterward, and was still thirsty. Quick theorem I developed:

San Fernando Valley + summer temperatures + head costumes = possible renal failure.

I can still picture the back yard of this house: Concrete deck, swimming pool, and not a damned sliver of shade. Not a single tree in sight. God dammit, that pool called to me with its siren song.

“’allo, kids! I’m a Banana in Pajamahhs! ‘ow are we doin’ this ahfternoon?” I announced as I entered the party, feeling 100% of the dipshit I must have appeared to be.

I inquired (or “enquired”, as I was British, you see) as to the birthday boy’s whereabouts, and I was quickly led to a toe-headed 4 year old in short pants, playing by the pool. I knelt beside him.

“’allo, birthday boy. An’ what’s yooor name?”

I saw two little eyes peer through the translucent eyes of my costume. There was a pause. Then:

“You’re not real.”

He said it just like that. “You’re. Not. Real.”, as though he had never been more certain of something before in his life. I’d like to believe I gave him his first opportunity to feel true pride. I panicked, hoping none of the others heard.

“Of COURSE I’m real! I’m ‘ere, aren’t I?” (I picture myself doing some sort of clod-hoppy, stupid, bouncing dance to prove I’m a real…whatever I was.)

He stood, looked me dead in the eyes (again, MY eyes, not the costume’s) and repeated himself, like the bad guy in an awful action movie:

“You. Aren’t. Real.”

Regardless of the sweltering temperatures, I broke into a cold sweat. What the fuck do I do? I have to spend an hour entertaining a kid and his friends who will probably utilize the time by trying to yank off my head and screaming, “Faker! Faker!”

Resigned to my fate, I decided that honesty would be my best course of action. I whispered:

“Okay, you’re right. I’m not real. You figured me out. But,” I paused and pointed to the group of his friends getting situated for my show, “THEY think I’m real. Can you keep a secret and help me make them believe?”

This was a major roll of the dice. If he understands my point, excellent, I have a clean slate and can start over. But if he can’t comprehend what I’m saying, or if he simply calls bullshit, I’m fucked. In the ass. With a banana. Wearing pajamas.

A crooked smile crept across his face.


He proceeded to grab my hand and lead me to the party goers, announcing that I was a REAL Banana in Pajamas, and that we were to do whatever I said.

I don’t recall how the rest of the show went, if I face-painted kids or opted for the crappy magic show, or if my kidneys shut down under the sweltering blanket of the sun, but I did learn that if you show a child respect, they might, just might, give it right back.

Or they could possibly tear off your head.

*I’ll let you in on a little secret: Those poor suckers you see in the head costumes? They can’t see SHIT. Especially tiny children that are knee to waist high. I’m sure I have trampled more children than Godzilla did Tokyo highrises.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Part 3 of "How I Learned To Love a Loincloth"

When “The Man” Comes To Town

Even if you’ve never visited, the phrase “South Central LA” probably puts a few drops of pee in your shorts.

Cue the, “Russ Has To Perform A Kid’s Birthday Party In South Central” theme music, please. Thank you.

To say that I was nervous would have been like comparing the tragedies of 9/11 to a blind date that ends with the two of you discovering that you’re cousins. I mean, yeah, gross, but at least you didn’t screw before figuring it out.

I remember pulling slowly into the neighborhood, searching for the address, wondering what the hell I was doing. Sixty bucks for an hour of work. THAT is what you’re doing my brain reminded me. You’ve learned to really like eating and having a roof above your head.

Stupid brain, always thinking.

I parked around the corner, as the house was in the center of the block, as I didn’t want to destroy the illusion. What illusion, you dare to ask? Let me tell you something:


Yes. There I was, in South Central LA, dressed in a bright blue and red, skin-tight unitard and cape, wandering up a side street. The outfit was complete down to the curl of hair on my forehead (ah, the “hair days”), as the birthday boy’s mother had informed me that her son was insistent that the REAL Superman had a curl on his forehead. A few scoops of hair product later, and I had the sassiest forehead hair curl seen since Shirley Temple.

Not a very macho comparison, I know, but my internet is down, and that’s all I’ve got.

The kids were at the far end of the driveway by the garage, in a moonbounce, jumping wildly and screaming. What the fuck do I do? I kept thinking as I peered around the corner of the house. If Superman can’t fly or throw a car, there’s nothing “super” about him. I can’t shoot lasers out of my eyes or see through shit. I don’t even work as a reporter at a major metropolitan newspaper. I’ll just be some stranger in tights at your birthday party…


“Kids!” I yelled, as I ambled up. “Hey, kids!”

Ten or so 5 year olds came running to me, as I kneeled, slumped at the end of the driveway, my cape over my shoulder.

“Superman! Superman!” came the concerned chorus of soprano voices rushing toward my heaving carcass.

“Superman, what’s WRONG?!?”

“It was…it was…Lex Luthor…he put kryptonite in my bag,” I grunted, holding out my duffel bag jammed with party paraphernalia.

Good ol’ brain. Always thinking.

“No!” they yelped in unison.

They assisted me to the back yard, where I continued to stumble and groan. One boy pointed at the curl of hair I’d created on my forehead and screeched, “It IS him! It’s him!” The birthday boy had bought it. I was in. Because, as I’d been learning, if the birthday child believes you’re the real deal, everyone falls in line.

Once the kids had “helped” me regain some of my strength, I asked if they’d like to play some games with me, since I can’t do my normal show of lifting cars and bending pipes (and seeing through their mom’s skirts). An enthusiastic roar leapt from their tiny mouths, and I proceeded to have one of the single most fun children’s parties of my short career.

They were captivated. Entranced. Eager to have a super hero paint their faces like a kitty, or Spiderman, or whatever – as long as SUPERMAN was drawing it, it didn’t matter.

Sixty minutes later, after wrapping up, I revealed that their having such fun really helped me regain some of my powers. I couldn’t quite yet fly, but I told them that I’d walk for a few blocks and give it a shot, and that they should watch for me in the sky in a few minutes.

As I walked more confidently (and more “Supermanly”) away, I thanked them, and that tiny chorus of voices all coalesced, yelping and screaming their goodbyes.

Dropping my bag in my trunk, I took a mental photo of the moment: The boarded up houses, the dried out lawns, stray mattresses on the corners, the general disarray of the neighborhood, and I remember thinking how much that single hour likely meant to that group of little boys. Even now, as I type this, touching those memories, I’m filled with emotion.

And I do believe in my heart, at least one of those kids was positive he saw a red caped figure flying above South Central that sunny afternoon.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Installation # Deuce

Los Angeles County – the area that the kid’s party company served – splays across Southern California for a staggering 498.3 square miles like a giant, polluted amoeba. This is slightly less than half the size of the entire state of Rhode Island. I’ve been to Rhode Island. It isn’t paradise (no offense R.I-ers, but c’mon…), but I’d rather spend a lifetime beneath an overpass in Rhode Island than try to cover the entirety of LA County in a single day by car. Which was expected of us. Regularly.

My 1971 VW Beetle was a $2,000 cash purchase, one that to this very day, I proudly crow about. It was in excellent mechanical and physical shape (come to think of it, back then, so was I). Each Thursday, I’d ritualistically putter over to the children’s party’s offices, pick up that weekend’s costumes, receive my marching orders (packets done up with the parents’/kid’s info), stuff the costumes (ranging from Batman, to a Power Ranger, to once, some kind of evil, menacing dinosaur that terrified every child I approached) into my trunk, and head back home to contact the parents.

Being the days pre-GPS, or even Mapquest or Google maps, or any other variety of online mapping system that leads drivers down the wrong direction of one way streets, I had to get in actual touch with my contacts to receive directions. I would then pull out my *Thomas Guide and begin the long process of figuring out whatever the hell a Laguna Nigel is, and how to get there from Pomona, wherever the hell that was. Depending on the number of parties stuffed into a weekend - a Saturday could sometimes be a 14 hour day - and the logistics of the locations, this mapping could take upwards of 2 hours.

To be fair, once we were asked to drive outside 20 miles of the immediate Los Angeles area, service charges were tacked on, in increments of $5, starting at 20 bucks. On a busy day with a shit-ton of driving, I could rake in 60 or more extra greenbacks. The strain of trying to navigate to these exotic locales, coupled with the stress of sitting in LA traffic, usually meant that money was to be spent on single malt scotch for that night, enjoyed while *sitting in my apartment, dazed, on the floor.

* A massive, detailed map of all of Los Angeles County. They are seriously about 800 pages thick. And nearly everyone's has the same tattered, fucked up pages (page 532 rings a bell).

*No one likes to see a drunken Batman.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My life as a children's show character, or, "How I Learned to Love a Loincloth"

Having grown up in suburban Chicago, circa 1975-1983, the timeframe when birthday parties seemed to matter most to me (save for the unavoidable liver destruction on my 21st and the thrill of purchasing an arsenal of handguns on number 18), birthday celebrations usually involved a group of sugar-wasted preteens running around a back yard, pausing only to shove squares of cheap sheet cake in our yowling mouths, only then to return to chasing one another and maybe, MAYBE, if the family was “rich” enough (in my case, this would be my best friend Timmy Mace’s parents. Looking back, the term “rich” meant they could afford to build a two room addition on their tiny, two bedroom house), we children might receive a little goodie bag, filled with more multi-colored sugary products, to help us come down from our respective highs until we faded like a lightbulb being smashed by a ballpeen hammer.

On my 5th birthday, Mom and Dad pulled out all stops and treated me and a small group of friends to a celebration at McDonald’s. This was pre-playland McDonald’s, so we were relegated to a large booth, enjoying such celebratory activities as “Squirming Around” and the ever-popular childhood game, “Being Good”.

And that was it.

Flash forward: Late summer of 1998, my friend Todd and I trucked his, my, and my then-wife’s belongings cross-country from Nashville to Los Angeles. Following a grueling 6 WHOLE weeks in our new city, I was shocked to find that my writing career wasn’t panning out the way I’d planned. Which is to say, no one knew that I existed. This is a phenomenon that is almost solely reserved to a move to LA in pursuit of a creative career: The more insulated you are, feelings grow that range between, “Oh shit, was this a major fucking mistake?” to, “Um, HELLO! I’M HERE! WHERE’S MY MOVIE DEAL?

In Southern California, as in space, no one can hear you scream.

A close friend of mine had displaced himself in Hollywood about a year prior and told me that on weekends, he’d bring in a fairly decent payday, for a mere 2 days per weekend, performing at children’s birthday parties. He regaled me with tales of hilarity: How he once purchased a six pack of beer dressed as Wolverine from X-Men and told the two kids behind him in line: “Remember: Wolverine says, ‘Don’t drink and drive’!”

Hungry for fame, and even more so, food, Todd and I signed up at the kid’s party company which consisted of 2 days of training (“How to Play ‘Parachute’”, and a handful of magic tricks a blind duck could figure out) and finally, at long last, an AUDITION.

Yes, welcome to Los Angeles, where the opportunity to make balloon poodles for a gaggle of three year olds requires an audition.

Thankfully, I was notified after my audition (which was comprised of each of we – the auditioners- doing a kids party WITH one another. That was a looong afternoon of adults face painting one another) that I was “qualified” and therefore, put in active duty. I use military terminology to describe the following 6 months because that’s what I was getting myself into: A full blown, fall-of-Saigon-style-finish war. My enemy? They stood 3 to 4 feet, blinked eyes filled with pie-plate-sized innocence, and were duly trained in the art of the stealth thigh-bite, the ankle-kick, and the cock-punch.

to be continued...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A wedding is a little bit like running an ultra: You prepare, you devise, you think, overthink, put in place specific plans, then dash them to the rocks and start over, you purchase things you may only ever use once in your life and question their reliability, you call on friends and family for support.

And that's the weeks/months leading up to the event.

Two days out, you're a trembling mess, overcome with anxiety, nervous excitement, your bowels stop doing their "normal" thing, and the day prio, you are in a zombie-like trance, unsure of your surroundings.

And then, the "big day" comes.

You barely slept the prior night but somehow feel strangely rested. You glance at the clothing you especially purchased for the day/evening laid out and step into the event's uniform. It fits like a slipper on a certain princess whose name I likely can't type because a certain animation company might sue me. You begin to realize all of the effort and time and energy you've put into it is about to pay off. And toeing "start line", your nerves cool, as the journey to the journey is over. Now, all you have to do is get out there and enjoy yourself.

To say that our wedding was one of the moments in my life that I will replay with joy over and again in my mind barely does it justice. Loved ones from around the globe all converged into one small building outside of Portland for our special moment. Humbled, Ann and I both took a step back and felt the blanket of love wrapped about us. In that moment, a feeling washed over me that I think we're lucky to experience: That love, collected in that one space? It's always there. Not just for that day, or for a few hours; it is real, and it is constant.

By the way, you also feel after the wedding the same way you would after running a race and giving it all you got. Effing WHOOPED, I tells ya.

Our friend Orrin was wonderful enough to surprise us during the ceremony with this mind-bogglingly sweet and hilarious video piece he edited together.

We have awesome friends and family. Doy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Stomach somewhat queasy, 100% of the time?


Piles of post-it notes with to-do lists scattered across coffeetable?


Flashes of anxiety?


Planning a wedding is partially like putting together a massive party for everyone in your lives that you care about, where you will show and profess your love for one another. The other percentage feels a bit like walking into a parking garage and seeing that your car was stolen.

But we're excited to see our beloved family and friends on Sunday. And to vow to be partners, forever in this life.

Am I nervous about throwing a wedding? Absolutely.

Am I nervous about getting/being married to Annie? Not in the least.

I think that's the way it should be.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I spent a lovely long weekend back in my hometown of Chicago: "Sweet Home Chicago", "The Windy City", "The Second City", "The City with Big Shoulders", and "The City with way Too Many Nicknames", to quote an old comedian friend from years back.

Me Mum still lives in the same house I grew up in, and it's always a trip to head back as an adult and encounter the same side door, tiny kitchen, bright living room, staircase that I used to slide down on my little butt (pictured here)...

...bathroom where I'd get stickers for brushing my teeth every day, and my first bedroom, but this visit, Mom and I took a step outside the box (literally: the house looks like a brick box).

We drove to the apartment building a few miles away where I spent the first 6-8 months of my life (the upper, upper left corner behind my very pregnant mom was our unit), then clocked the distances from there to the school my mother taught at (about 1.4 miles), and from the apartment steps to our new home's front door (somewhere in the range of 5 miles). Why did we do this? Because my mother didn't get her driver's license until several years after I was born. That's right: The woman WALKED everywhere. With either me in her belly or on her back: To and from work, then to and from the old apartment to the new house (to work entire days redecorating, stripping wallpaper, and painting, of course) and back, logging somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 miles/week for a few months.

Yeah. I think I know where I get the endurance thing from.

I went for two runs while home, and traced the same winding footpath on the Salt Creek trail system that she traversed daily, trotting along beneath colorful maples and oaks, imagining my very young self looking about as she hiked along, gazing in wonder at the towering trees and incredibly un-shy deer (one walked right in front of me during my 8 mile run. As in, it saw me, looked me dead in the eye, and ambled across the path, 5 feet in front of me as if to say, "Meh. PEOPLE."). It was then that it hit me in the solar plexus like a falling piece of timber: THIS is where I learned to love the woods. THIS is where my tiny brain first began it's passionate affair with silent contemplation, surrounded by nature.

Needless to say, it blew my mind a little.

The rest of my visit was filled with uproarious laughter with old friends, enough Italian food to wipe out an army (I wish I had a reference to an army the Italians defeated, but I'm drawing a blank), and deep talks with mom. Opening myself to learning more about my past certainly teaches me armloads about who I am now. I'll continue this exploration for the rest of my days.

It's good to come home again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


That is how many steps it is between one Starbucks in the Pioneer Square Mall in downtown Portland to another.

And two escalators.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I'm finally posting some photos from Hundred in the Hood - first, the night before the race, where water, beer, and This Is Spinal Tap were all in order:

Me and Bud at mile 29 or so. This is right before I took off with the water pack that didn't work and had to come sprinting back. Ohhhhh, the DRAMA! (I'm pretty sure he's telling me I need to pee more right here)

MY CREW!!!!! Annie and Mariko!!!!


Liam (reading, waiting for my sorry ass to drag in)

Coming in to mile 55 aid. I cannot believe how fresh I'm looking:

This is how you know that someone truly loves you: Ann, addressing a hot spot at mile 55. Those dogs were stinkin':

A kiss goodbye before heading out for another 20 miles until I'd see them again. Both of us being reality TV producers, the original kiss wasn't captured on-camera, so we did a 2nd take for posterity's sake:

Man, what a blast. I'm getting all itchy for my next go at 100!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Once upon a time ago, in a past life...

...I wrote this blog post. Man, I barely even recognize this guy:

TUESDAY, JULY 26, 2005

It's this simple, kids:

I am going to run 100 consecutive miles.

Someday. Not tomorrow, not even this year, but mark my words, these legs will pump out 100 miles without so much as a few minutes of sleep. It's something that in the past months I've decided that I must do.

I'm signed up for and running a 25k mountain race on August 27th (only 15.7 miles, but in the Santa Monica Mountains, so plenty of elevation changes and hazardous trails), but I see a 50k in my near, near future. From there, it's only another 20 miles to a 50 mile ultra-marathon, and well hell, while you're there, might as well tack on another 50 for an even 100...

I know it sounds crazy, but it's something, one of the few things I've ever considered, that I have to do. Of course, talk to me when I have blisters the size of half-dollars on my heels at mile 56...

Monday, October 5, 2009


I am utterly blown away by my recovery from the 100. This is absolutely the healthiest I've ever felt after an ultra, and it bests my longest run by 35 miles!

I took off last Monday and Tuesday, aside from a 20 minute walk on Tuesday to keep the blood flowing. Wednesday I did 3 miles on the elliptical and then 5 on Thursday, as I was feeling strong. Friday I cranked out 5.35 on Wildwood trail at a comfortable 9 mn/mile pace, and yesterday, a nice, easy 3 on the street at an 8:15 pace. I swear, I'm feeling stronger than I did during my taper, which, I believe, is most excellent news.

So, of course, I'm now scouring the web for winter races and next year's 100.

Friday, October 2, 2009

"My name is Russ, and I'm an Emergency Responder - can I help you?"

Following my passing the final written exam to become a certified running coach last autumn, I was required to become CPR/first aid certified to back up that training. You know, in case I send someone on a tempo run only to find them in a collapsed heap on the side of a trail, so that my only reaction wouldn't be to silently tip toe away from their twitching corpse.

I found a class that was only a mile from my home, instructed by an amazingly friendly and personable woman who had me repeat the phrase, "My name is Russ, and I'm an Emergency Responder - can I help you?" more times than I care to recall. This, she explained, is the perfect way to introduce yourself when you think someone is in physical trouble: Firstly, you're giving your name to the person. Secondly, "Emergency Responder" could mean any variety of things - doctor, nurse, EMT. It sets the person at ease. Thirdly, "Can I help you?" is a simple yes or no question; easy to answer, and if they don't answer, welp, you kinda can fill in the appropriate response.

Somewhere around the 3rd hour of that 9 hour day, I became keenly aware that such tactics might be implemented on the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. I questioned the Constitutionality of such a practice but caved. She'd broken me. My mind was hers, and there was no returning: I was a changed man. Was the burlap bag over my head and fake electrodes attached to my fingertips necessary? I have no idea. After all, I was merely the student.

Flash forward 2 months: On an out-and-back trail run at Forest Park, I reached the midway point at a trailhead around my mile 5 and paused a few moments as a reward before heading back. I remember shaking out my legs before chopping down in quick steps back to the trail, and was maybe only 10 seconds back into running when I heard the following sounds echo in the canyon. Ahem:


I spun around and found myself sprinting back up toward the winding road that passes the trailhead, and without even thinking found the words, "My name is Russ, and I'm an Emergency Responder - can I help you?" running from my lips. I emerged onto the road and saw a car, completely flipped over on his hood, in the center of the two lane road. An older man was standing beside the car, with it's smashed windows and still-spinning tires. And as I sprinted to him, what do you think the first words out of my mouth were?


He had no immediate injuries, just a cut on his hand from climbing through the decimated driver's side window. A man and a woman emerged from their cars and approached. And what were the first words out of their mouths?

"My name is ____, and I'm an emergency responder. Can I help you?"

We guided traffic around the wreck and dialed 911. Within minutes, paramedics had taken the man aside, wrapped him in a blanket, and began to examine him. I thanked my fellow ERs and headed back on my run, in utter shock. I will never take for granted the training I received, and how prepared for an emergency I was. Or am.

Although late at night, I sometimes awake with a start, the statement so burrowed into me being whispered like a hundred Hail Marys.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

So much to say...

...and so little brain power. I'm gonna attempt to be thorough with this race report, but I can't promise many accurate details, as my brain is still flopping around on the PCT, somewhere around mile 65 or so:

As always, a MASSIVE thanks to my crew! There was a helluvalot of waiting for me during this one, since so many aid stations were inaccessible, and miles 55/75 were the exact same station. You were patient...uhhh...here's where the brain freeze hits...efficient! Yes, that was the word. Efficient, caring, motivating, and seriously? The best-lookin' crew out there. I mean, I know other people had handsome handlers, but you all take the cake in the looks department. And I'll never be able to thank you even-featured, fit lot ever enough. And the volunteers? Sheeeeit, they were enthusiastic and incredible.

Here we go:

After dealing with renting the SUV (don't get me started on Chase bank and how they handle their credit cards) Friday morning, I picked up Bud at PDX and headed to the hotel, where the clerk instantly recognized me from July's PCT 50, when Ruben and I hunkered down there for the evening. It was most excellent to see Bud, who I hadn't hung out with since the San Diego 100, two years ago. We dropped off our junk, grabbed some of the largest pancakes known to humankind (I managed to snarf down two and Bud, after calling me a "wuss" as the waiter took away my half-eaten meal, felt obligated to eat almost all 4 of his), and carted off to pick up my race packet.

I picked up my packet and Bud and I walked just a small stretch of the trail so he could get an idea of what was out there. And what was out there, you ask? DUST. Lots of it. I knew I'd be filthy during this run, but the puffing brown stuff kicked up in enormous clouds as we stepped along.

Back at the motel, I propped myself up and tuned in for my ten millionth viewing of This Is Spinal Tap, and just as David St. Hubbins remarked to Marty DiBergi, "Well, I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I weren't under such heavy sedation. ", Annie knocked at the door, hauling in a cooler filled with water, sodas, food, and beer. One and a half brews later, and I somehow fell asleep...you know those totally fitful sleeps, where your dream heavily, and the alarm gently shakes you alert?

yeah. NOT one of those.

I woke up every hour on the hour and managed a full 3 hours of slumber before getting up, dressing, and suddenly, I was out the door to my second 100 mile start.

Around 4:30 AM, I dropped off my drop bags and began jumping around with the rest of the field to stave off the chilly 32 degree air. I introduced Bud and Ann to Gary - my newest and bestest running buddy - found one of my oldest and bestest running buddies Kate, and Mike, the kickass fella I'd run the majority of the PCT50 with. Honestly, during this race I became incredibly aware of how small the ultra running community is, particularly in Oregon. The funniest reveal will come later...

Okay, I've been juggling with how to write/express my feelings on the race direction of this thing, so I'm going to just toss it out there, edit the shit out of it, and hope I don't come across like an ass:

History: If you don't know, the course was supposed to run 25 miles up Mt Hood, then back down, and then 25 miles south, then back. Well, thanks to our EVIL SOCIALIST PRESIDENT (your sarcasm detector should have blown a gasket with that statement), part of the trail up to Timberline Lodge is shut down due to - oh, I dunno - help save the environment. I feel for the RDs on this, because it was going to be a straightforward race in the beginning. They had to hustle their asses off to figure out how to detour the course and still give us a beautiful 100 to run. And they did! However, after changing the course, that's where the communication hit a brick wall, and I , and many, many other runners, feel that this race was left to die on the vine. So I now continue with this race report, already in progress...

The pre-race announcements included that there would be very few course markings and that we needed to "just stay on the PCT". Ooookay. Then, we were told that glowsticks would only be hung coming into aid stations: Nowhere else during the night would you be seeing them. Huuuhn?. Then, we were told that there would not be an official time clock at the finish, and that the RD's watch was the official clock, so if you finished, and that watch wasn't there, you'd have to go and find the RD to communicate your official finishing time.


There were more than a few sighs and grumbles, and there we were, 5 minutes from starting a 100 mile race.

We counted down (to the official watches time, mind you), and off we trotted, up a road about 1/4 of a mile to the PCT. Everyone started WAY to damned fast, and I got swept up in it, but luckily we hit the singletrack and grinded to a halt, walking the first 5 minutes like dwarves heading off to mines in the woods. Once we were able to run, I got into a steady rhythm, chatting with Kate ahead of me and Gary behind me. Gary and I had decided a few weeks ago that we would stick together for as long as possible, as our running paces are nearly identical and, hey, we really like one another! Who knew?

The dust in my headlamp was fierce, and I heard more than one runner coughing in fits. Around mile two, a female runner ahead of me stopped. I asked if she was all right, to which she replied, "I've been puking all morning. I shouldn't be here." She then barfed on the side of the trail and headed back to the start/finish. Man, I witnessed the race's first DNF, about 20 minutes in.

The rest of us continued, and jokes were bandied about, nerves finally calmed, and paces set in. Before I knew it, we were at mile 6 (or is it 5.9? Or 6.1? More on the questionable distances later) and Annie and Bud were waiting, topped off my bottles, and away I sped.

I spent time talking with Kate's friend Glen, whom I'd met at the finish of the 50 miler in July, and we hit it off most excellently, jabbering and joking, and once the sun fully lit the forest, I, Kate, Glen, and Gary had formed a wagon train that would stick together up until mile 28 (or was it 28.1? Or 29?). We all passed through an aid stop at Highway 58 feeling amazing...and then, came the bees: Gary got nipped in the leg first. About 30 minutes later, as I slowed to hop over a fallen tree, I felt one of those little bastards on my calf and kicked my leg, just as the stinger sunk in. Effing bees. Eff you and your effing sweet nectar.

We hit the Frog Lake aid (mile 14-ish) where Bud greeted me, filled my bottles and put his hand on my shoulder. Now this is a man who has been running ultras for 30 years and 100s for 20+. He leaned in and whispered in his gruff voice, "Run SMART." I instantly felt a rush of confidence. "You're gonna pass a LOT of these people later in the race. Now go GET SOME." I teared up with joy, knowing these words would become mantras later, when the real work needed to happen.

We headed back to the start/finish, passing through the same aid stops, our wagon train still intact, and literally, before I knew it, we were back. I walked to the aid where I was going to change out my waist pack for my NATHAN PACK OF AWESOMENESS and saw that Liam and Mariko had arrived. I was pretty much "in the zone" at this point, so it was down to business, no time to hang out. I gobbled down some PBJs and watermelon as I got dressed, which is when Bud asked, "Are you peeing okay?" I'd gone twice and told him so, and I saw his expression change. "Drink more. Lots more." I don't normally go very often over the course of 50km, but I knew that adding 69 more miles to that involved making sure I was completely hydrated.

My crew hoisted my pack on me, I looked around for Gary but didn't see him, so off I jogged, back on the trail.

Thank GOD, I checked the drinking lines about 100 yards out. The "fuel" line worked wonderfully, but when I switched to just water, nothing came. At all. I stopped, tried to mess with it for a second, then realized it was time for a change of plans. I dashed back to the aid station, told the crew that this wasn't working and strapped my waist pack back on, handing a handheld to Liam and telling him to fill it with water/Perpetuem. I wrapped my jacket around my waist, we transferred gels and salt to my waistpack, and off I went, with Gary right beside me.

This was the portion of trail that he and I had run together about a month prior, so it was great to relive it as a team. I pushed fluids, staying on my one electrolyte capsule/hour, as we began the climb up the PCT towards Red Wolf aid, which really came in no time at all. We figured we were on 13 mn pace, which blew our minds, as we were hiking all of the hills and really reeling in our running paces. I knew that after Red Wolf, there was a 2 mile drop down to a stream, and then a mile + of uphill to the next aid at mile 40-ish. This came and went without incident, save for having a blast together, and we stopped very briefly at Warm Springs aid to refill, and away we went.

We were entering unfamiliar territory for me, as the 50 miler flipped around after Warm Springs, and SHIT, there was some intense climbing. We powered up strongly to Pin Heads Aid (their hearts were in the right place, but when you're halfway through a 100 mile run, seeing printouts of actual pinheads is a tad bit unnerving), and these volunteers were the real deal: They had hiked in all of their equipment, uphill, and had everything a runner could ask for. Knowing that the next aid was 10 miles away (oy!), we filled our bottles and loaded up on food, and down, down, down we dashed.

Gary made mention of a hot spot on his big toe, so a couple of miles later, around 53, we stopped and I addressed it. Lickity split, and we were off again, only to stop a mile or two later so he could address a hot spot on the ball of my left foot. Again, what a team!

We ran more rolling stuff, hiked some ups, and took in the gorgeous views. We were shocked when we arrived at Ollalie Meadows aid (mile 55) at 6:00PM, a full 45 minutes ahead of my estimated time, feeling completely healthy and raring to go. I saw Bud's shock of white hair in the crowd of volunteers and crews and waved at him as I checked in, and suddenly, my pit crew was on the job! I swapped out socks, Annie covered hot spots, bottles were filled, food was handed over, and literally, at the exact same time, Gary and I were ready to tackle the 20 miles out and back to and from mile 65. It was at this aid station that I found out that the front runners had missed the turn as the course was poorly marked and had added a mile to their runs and that an aid station hadn't been set up early enough for them, so they'd gone FOURTEEN miles without aid. Man-oh-man, as if running a 100 miler isn't difficult enough, running it at 10 mn/mile pace and not being tended to?

As I readied myself, Bud, again whispered to me: "Go get some."

The man knows just what to say, and when to say it.

We returned to the PCT and continued south, which is when the front runners were returning. Holy SHIT: They were 20 miles ahead of us! I yelled a hello to Mark Tanaka, who was in 4th or 5th as he zipped by, looking as though he was on a 5k fun run, and that's when I began to hallucinate.

Do I hear an acoustic guitar?

Thankfully, it wasn't my imagination at all: A worker was propped up on the side of the trail, playing "Hotel California", about 200 yards of the next aid station at Ollalie Lake. We trotted to the aid table, refilled our bottles, drank some chicken broth, and bam! We were off yet again. i've never gotten in and out of aid as quickly as I did during this race, and Gary and I pushed one another to keep moving and not dick around.



As soon as we returned to the PCT, the climbs began. Not a big deal, but the race website gave a no idea what we were about to embark upon, and here we were, legs churning uphill on loose rock. We had no idea at this point, but this trend would continue for the next 15 miles: Nearly no actual trail, with only boulders and small loose rock to trip us up, mash our toes, our running settling into slow walking, up and down a mountain to the turnaround at mile 65.

And then the sun crept down below the horizon.

It was a SLOG. Our paces were reduced to 21 mn/mile and I really thought, had I known this was coming, I might have taken it even easier on the first 55 miles. Gary was going through a really dark patch at this point, but I kept plugging away, pulling and pushing us through. Around mile 63 or so, we came across Mike and his pacer, who I thought was supposed to be Joe Lee, coming back from the turnaround. It was, instead, Lanny, who told me he couldn't wait to read my writeup of the race. I promised him the use of a certain word for this section, so Lanny, here it is:

BULLSHIT. That section was fucking bullshit. Bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit.


**** CORRECTION: It was Joe! Man, was I out of it.

We bade them farewell and, what seemed like 200 miles later, we hit the aid station/turnaround, scarfing down soup, refilling, locating drop bags for warmer clothing (it was easily around 30 degrees in the lower elevations) and out we went. I knew it was instrumental to get us in and out as quickly as possible, because as much as I wasn't looking forward to the next 10 miles, I knew that Gary might be at the end of his rope.

We powered out, but our paces were taking a beating. Gary tripped - as he put it - every second step, and without course markings, more than once, we ambled off onto rocks that led us to dead ends. Needless to say, we were frustrated. Many runners were coming towards us, even as we got to the end of this trial, which made us keep shaking our heads, saying that there was NO way they could make the cutoff at mile 75, easily being 8 hours away from that aid.

I was being patient, bitching here and there about the difficulty of the terrain, mostly to support Gary, but I really was laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation: Two men, battered, stumbling over rock in the middle of the night at a slow walking pace out in the middle of nowhere, just to cross a finish line 30 miles later to say that they had done it. My mood maintained a lightness, which I was surprised by, while Gary, who I could tell was in the lowest mental spot he'd been all day/night, insisted that I go on and leave him.

"No way: We started together, we finish together."

My mind went back to my first 100 mile experience, pacing Bud, when he came into mile 75 with his friend, Darren, who was in shit shape, saying we had to carry him with us. And carry we did: No matter how much he insisted that we leave him, Bud doubly insisted that we continue with him. At long last, we stumbled across the finish an hour ahead of the cutoff.

FINALLY, the trail ejected us onto a fireroad at the mile 72 aid, and I spun around and flipped the trail we'd come off of the bird.

"Good fucking riddance!" I yelled, which caused the volunteers to erupt into laughter.

We checked in, checked out (the guitarist was now onto "Take It Easy" - it had been an all-Eagles night, I assume) and headed to the 75 mile aid station, where we'd pick up Bud. Running had begun to become a problem for me, as the rocks and gain and loss for the last 18 mile really took it's toll, but we were able to maintain a strong power walk on the flats and ups and before we knew it, we were heading down the intersecting trail to our crews.

I knew I needed to eat, so I sipped some chicken soup and noodles while my crew readied my night gear. Annie wrapped a blanket around me when "it" hit. And by "it", I mean...

"I gotta puke."

I wandered into the dark, away from everyone, and wretched up a good portion of noodles. Bud came by just to make sure I was okay.

"My first puke during a race," I told him. Never a prouder moment for me during an ultra!

The overall atmosphere at that aid station was like a war zone. I'm thinking most people who dropped did it there, because there were a lot of miserable, moaning, groaning souls there. After 10 minutes of readying, I had my pack on and was ready to go. I told Bud to be prepared for some walking. He had no idea.

The three of us climbed out and onto the PCT and I knew something was wrong within a half hour. My legs were like lead. Lead filled with rock and stuff even heavier than lead. Super lead? The 10 mile climb to the mile 85 aid was taking it's toll, but Bud stayed ahead pulling me, and Gary hung in tight behind me, getting dragged up that mountain.

We came across another runner, Baldwin, who was cheery and chatty, which helped raise the mood and our spirits a little. He'd taken a nap trailside and was feeling a ton better. Our small talk dwindled and we left Baldwin behind, now chatting here and there about Larry Davis' series "Curb Your Enthusiasm".

"COFF-ee and miLK...COFF-ee and miLK..." Gary and I bandied back and forth to one another. Yes, it was hilarious at the time, but then again, just about anything would have been. Gary, i couldn't find the bit on youtube, but I did find this one, which popped in my head while we were quoting.

After 9,000 more hours, Baldwin caught us again and yelled, "Hey, Russ and Gary, is that you?" We responded positively, to which he replied, "Are you 'Rustyboy'?"

Holy shit, whaaa????

"I read your blog!"

Now if that wasn't a kick in the ass. I again began wondering if I was hallucinating. So Baldwin, this shout out goes to you, my friend. You were strong as hell out there!

When we dragged our dying carcasses into the mile 85 aid, Bud wanted a realistic assessment to see if we'd make the 30 hour cutoff at the finish. He asked a volunteer how far it was to the next aid. The worker twisted his face into an apologetic knot.

"Uh, well, it could be anywhere between 5 miles and 6.1. We've been hearing that range. Sorry, I wish I could be more accurate."

Bud's jaw literally dropped.

"Screw it, we're movin'," he told us, and after some soup, down, down we started, and I knew one thing was for certain: My quads were going to be as useful as two flat tires on a mountain bike heading down that hill. I could barely walk, and the reality began sinking in - this was no longer fun, or a challenge. This was a painful impossibility.

I allowed those realizations to drift in and out at we slowly made our way downhill, not judging, just letting them sit there alongside my, "Relentless forward motion!" mantra, when it suddenly came crystal clear. And Bud, with his ultra-6th sense - turned to me within minutes and saw it.

Bud: "Okay, Gary: Do you think you can make it to the finish?"

Gary (in the most unsure and hilarious tone): "Yeah? Why?"

Bud and I explained that I couldn't go on beyond the mile 91 aid. If our math was correct, from that point it was another 11 miles to the finish (the race was "actually" 101.9, although the jury's out on that). This means we'd have to average 2.5 mph to the finish, and I knew that a major climb still awaited. I'd be lucky to be able to make it to the top of the damned beast.

"What? No, you said we'd finish together!" Gary reasoned. He shook his head out of confusion.

"What do you want me to do?" I could read the conflict on his face and in his heart. I put my hand on his shoulder.

"I want you to finish this damned thing."

After it sank in, he nodded and we said our goodbyes, and Bud and I watched Gary's light as it bounced downhill into the dark, fading slowly away like a star.

Bud and I hiked it in to the next aid station and I informed them I was dropping. I honestly couldn't get my legs to move. Kate sat slumped in a chair refueling, and I told her the news. I could tell she was sad for me, but, I said, "I can't even move my legs, and I want to save them for our second annual 50KM December Fatass!" She understood (as much as you can after running for 25 hours), hugged me, and off she went.

Bud and I hung out at the aid station, chatting with the (again, awesome) volunteers, as I radioed the start/finish to talk to my crew and tell them I'd stopped. Within an hour, Annie, Liam, and Mariko all pulled up, while I sat in a worker's SUV with the heat blasting beside Anil: Another runner who'd dropped due to the fact that he was SLEEP RUNNING on the trail. Jesus, and I though *I* was done!

We gave Anil a lift back to the start to his car so he could snooze awhile, said our goodbyes...and that's when I saw Gary.

"HOLY SHIT!" I yelped. He came running over, and I kicked open my car door. He'd finished in 27 hours, puzzled by his amazing 11 mile split. I started crying for joy for him - HE'D DONE IT! For 10 hours, I wondered if he'd last another step, and here he was, all smiles, at the finish of what was easily the hardest run either of us had ever experienced.

"We really pulled one another through - what a team!" he gasped exhaustedly. And then and there, with nearly 200 shared miles between us, we promised to run as a team again, possibly during a multi-stage, multi-day race. And I don't doubt for one second that it'll happen.

As we drove away from the course, my mind already began it's conflicting thought processes: Was the last stretch really 11 miles? Probably not. Since it was likely shorter than that, could I have made it prior to the cutoff? I'll never know. But the most important thematic questions rise above the chatter of these silly second-guesses:

Do I run these races to finish them? Do I put my body and mind on the ridge of the unknown to simply cross a finish line, or is there something more I'm after? Then, I re-read what I've put down on paper above, and the focus becomes clear as a lake resting in the middle of a mountain range...

It's what happens between "start" and "finish" that I relish: The people, the love, the fear, friendships old and new, the pain, the joy - these are finisher's medals that I'll carry with me wherever I go. And, in the wise words of an old-time-ultra-runner, you can't collect these treasures until you go out there, and "get some".

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Meet: The Crew

Please click here for the appropriate soundtrack while reading the below post:

My friend Liam flew in last night from Los Angeles to crew for me. Annie snapped this shot of him over Christmas when he visited:

all photos are by Ann, BTW

The hamburger he's about to attempt to consume is called "The Ridiculous". It harbors: One pound of beef, stuffed with proscuitto, salami, blue cheese, mushrooms, onions and peppers, topped with havarti, jalapenos, swiss, bacon, cheddar, pepperocinis, and a portobello mushroom.

Yes, he survived.

He's one of my closest friends, and he'll spend day and night shoving food and drink in my face and keeping me on my feet. Hopefully, this burger will be absent. Until after the 100, that is.

He'll be driving out Saturday morning with Mariko, while I'm bounding up and down the trail for the first 29 miles. Annie and I met Mariko through a certain photo-sharing website at a party. As it turns out, not only is she a photographer, she's also a seasoned trail runner. Who knew, right? She and I exchanged frequent emails during the webcasts for Hardrock, Badwater, Western States, and Leadville, geeking out in excess about splits and finishers' times. When she offered her soul for 25-30 hours to crew for me, there was no way I could refuse. Her years of experience of trail running will be an invaluable tool. Plus, if she can "Hello Kitty" up a pic of me covered in salt and dirt at mile 75, I will have won the race, in my opinion.

As you likely know, pictured above is Bud. Bud is an old-school 100 mile runner (his first was over 20 years ago, when only he and about 300 others were running these damned things) who I had the great pleasure of meeting/running with during my first ultra marathon at the Calico Ghost Town back in 2006. He's been a continued inspiration to me, in ways I won't get into in this post, and will be running me in from mile 75 to 101.9 (that extra 1.9 miles is gonna feel like an extra 100, I'm guessing). His sensitivity, knowledge, sense of humor and wisdom will be wrapped around me like a security blanket those last 5-7 hours. Plus, as I told him, he's the one who got me into this mess - he'd BETTER drag my ass to the finish!

Lastly, and not leastly (sp?):


Dammit, Annie, how are you so awesome? You've put up with my constant exhaustion, ridiculous absence from social gatherings, stinky running gear, stinkier body odors when I return home from training, an appetite that even a glutton would call "ridiculous" (see first photo), my weak utterances of "ugh" as I lay prostate on the sofa watching free, on-demand, crap horror movies...the list could go on until the internet ended, so I'll stop there. But know that I've not taken one second for granted of your utter selflessness during this intense, incredibly selfish training period of mine. I love you, and knowing that you're out there while I'm inside this insane adventure - having your own adventure - will be part of the fuel that keeps me pushing during the down patches.

So, with that, my final blog post before heading out to the hotel near the course tomorrow. See you all on the other side!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ahhh, yes: The "Aha Moment"

Oprah really battered this phrase into the dirt, but I'm a firm believer in these monumental moments where the shroud is lifted from our past histories, behaviors, and old patterns, and we see life for the simple, amazing, and present experience that it is. This is such a bonding of human nature that now, there's a website devoted to sharing the...ugh, I can barely stand typing it...Aha Moment. And here's one that has to do with ultra running.

And here is a link to another poignant Aha Moment.

Monday, September 21, 2009

For my birthday, Annie treated me to an awesome day/evening getaway in Government Camp at The Resort, which happens to only be about 45 minutes from the 100 race course.

Prior to check in, we wheeled over to the course so Ann could at least see a couple of the aid stations and get the overall layout. We then tooled to the hotel, took in a couple of hours of crap reality-tv, and unfolded a super-detailed map of the race area that we'd picked up at the ranger station. Charting out times to each aid stop at a reasonable pace (15 mn miles), I discovered that, OH SHIT, I'LL ARRIVE ONLY 5 MINUTES BEFORE THE CUTOFF AT THE 55 MILE MARK!

Okay, that was the taper (and after-dinner scotch) talking. Looking at it this morning, I'll arrive 2 hours ahead of the cutoff.

Man-o-man, was the weekend restful. Something we've discovered: We both LOVE to hang out in hotel rooms. LOVE IT. I don't need much on a birthday, not even a cake...although I have to admit, I crack up every time I witness a grown adult blow out candles on a cake and everyone surrounding him/her wildly applauding.

"Good JOB!" they all seem to be saying. "Whosa BIG BOY?!?!"

So my (perfect) birthday treat included watching horrific reality tv on a flat screen, sitting on the most goddamned comfortable king-sized bed ever stitched and stuffed, and shoving room service food down our gullets. Oh, and sleeping 11 hours.

Right there, THAT is the gift that keeps on giving.

Friday, September 18, 2009

July of last year, I ran as a course sweeper with Kate at the PCT 50 miler. After spending 25 miles and 7 hours (the final 6 miles was a slog, spent following a runner who should have been DQed for not making a cutoff), we climbed in her car to shuttle me back to mine. I can't recall exactly how the conversation started - probably something about fall races - when Kate mentioned her September birthday. An odd feeling crept across me, so I asked, "Which day?", to which she responded, "The 18th."

"Me too!" I yelped.

Happy dual-birthday, Kate! Hey, whaddya say next weekend, to celebrate, we run 100 miles or somethin'?

Nah. What kind of idiots would do that?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


256 or so hours.

15,400 or so minutes.

I won't break it down into seconds, but I could if I were more anal.

I'm doing a fair amount of visualization for the race; watching myself powering up the hills in strong hiking strides, gliding the downhills and flats, cruising in and out of aid stations, slowing only to fill my water bottles and grab food, and finally crossing the finish with a smile on my face...beneath layers of caked-on dirt and soot. And some dried snot on my upper lip.

Having a vivid imagination, I can get very specific.

I visualized a ton for my last shot at 100 miles, and I was absolutely amazed how much it helped. Of course, I never pictured being injured at mile 56, sitting in a chair, wincing and shaking my head as my crew asked I thought I could continue, but hey, that's ultra: Make a plan and be ready to change it. Or trash it.

(Oh, and: 924,000 or so seconds)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

And so it begins...


I constantly ping-pong on my feelings once I begin reducing my mileage before a race: There's definite relief, particularly this go 'round (I've logged 1,450 miles in my training since March, not including the 300 + miles leading up to the start of it), as my body is riding that fine line between "the best shape of my life" and "the utter destruction of my physical and mental being". Tapering off? Man, that sounds welcoming; like an old friend who convinces you to stay out a little later, have a few more beers, eat more unhealthily than you would normally...of course, when you wake up the following morning wondering where your pants are, and why everyone around you is speaking Latvian, you realize the double-edged sword such a relationship is.

I can guarantee I'll be a nervous ball of energy once my mileage begins dipping. Last go 'round at 100 miles during my taper, I broke down into tears in a mall parking garage (not that that's abnormal. But this time, it wasn't because The Gap didn't have a size Medium sweater vest that I liked). I awoke on several occasions convinced that I hadn't enough energy to run 10 miles, never mind 100. Phantom pains arrived and settled in bizarre places on my knees, ankles, and hips. Of course, every time I dive into a taper, I expect these feelings of anxiety, weird aches and mood shifts, and although I logically know it's not "real", pulling myself out of it is emotionally impossible. So I'm just gonna go with it, accept that it's part of the process, and keep my eye on the prize.

If you happen to see me blubbering in my car at a stoplight, or if, in conversation, I snap and tell you that the sound of your voice makes me want to pop my eardrums with a rusted screwdriver, please understand: It's nothing you've done. It's just The Taper talking.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Today marked my final big back-to-back runs (30 yesterday, 20 today) prior to the 100. I ran it with Gary, a fellow Hundred in the Hood runner, and we came to an agreement, as we huffed and trudged our ways up and down the hilly terrain, which made us laugh...

Running ultra marathons is all about overriding the mind/body's instinct to protect us from ourselves; ignoring the "STOP BEFORE WE DROP DEAD" signals. And this takes courage - to trust that all is well during moments that wave every red flag there is. I suppose this is what draws me to this sport. We basically run straight into the line of fire and dodge all of the messages that tell us that this is a bad idea.

Also, we mused about how we love the "I hate this feeling"-feeling. In fact, dammit, I relish it.

Which I think sounds a little twisted to *most folk.

*the entire planet

Friday, September 4, 2009

Running: The "cheap" sport

Shoes: 3 pair at $100 a pop

100 mile race entry fee: ~$165

Gus/food/electrolytes for training: Easily over $500

Hotel for pacer/crew/myself: $200

Rental SUV so crew can access aid stations: $50/day

This is just off the top of my head. I don't want to add up the actuals. Oh:

Therapy to figure out why I do this: $60/session

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Since there will be EIGHT, EIGHT, EEEEIGGGGHHHHT (8) inaccessible-to-crew aid stations at the 100, with no drop drop bags either, I decided to get effing serious and purchased a Nathan pack that is rivaled by no other.

This sucker holds 100 ounces of fluids and has more pockets than Grandpa Joe's overalls (I have no Grandpa Joe, nor does anyone in my family farm). AND, get this, it has a separate reservoir for energy drink/electrolyte drink. Show 'em, Vanna:

That little orange dial actually allows you to switch back and forth from water to mixed drink, OR, you can combine the two.

I seriously have the biggest nerd smile on my face right now.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I always took great pride in the fact that, although my feet have been trotting up, down, and across trail/roads/sidewalks for a handful of years, they've never once taken on the look of the nightmarish talons I'd seen on other runners.

Welp, this week, that all changed: 3 blisters and several "false start" blisters. One of my toenails most definitely has a bruise beneath it.

I couldn't be more proud.

Monday, August 31, 2009

On a 20 miler today, I ran with Gary; a cool, kickass fellow runner who will be tackling Hundred in the Hood as well. We ran part of the race course, out on the dusty, winding trails near Mt Hood, and as we descended back down towards where the start/finish area will be staged, he yelled back to me: "Imagine this is mile 99.7 and how good it will feel!" It really put me in that future moment, and what a rush! All of the visualization in the world pales in comparison to actual visualizing that moment there, where it will happen.

Can. Not. WAIT.

The itch grows deeper.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Okay, so I missed one entry. Sue me.

Quite un-shocking that I found myself on the sofa last night watching "Karate Kid" thinking, "CRAP! My blog post today!", as it was the only single day that I'm not running or working. I opted instead to pick up a new pair of shoes (another un-shocking piece of news), some Gu "Chews", have a BBQ sandwich and do some reading, then proceeded to hit a brew and view with Annie to view the latest "Star Trek" movie. Which was damned fine entertainment, I must admit. Our jokes feigning confusion between "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" never got old. Especially when Ann kept calling it "Star Track". Ohhh, the humor.

I ran 30 today, with 20 looming tomorrow, and it got me to recalling my first 50KM adventure not a handful of years back. I remember how completely thorough my training was (some things never change), logging every single minute to insure I wouldn't drop dead out in the desert. I was instantly swept back to the starting line, eyeballing the crazy people, wondering if I belonged, and the thrill of coming in a full 15 minutes under my "secret goal" of 6 hours, feeling fairly fresh, and smelling not so.

I remember my newfound friend, Bud, out during that first 50KM, calling it a "training run", and wondering what planet he called home, and now, just 4 years later, I can step out my front door, calculate my time, and head to the woods for a little ol' 5 hour adventure. And then awake the next day and pretty much run a road marathon. Having run a 22 mile trail run only 3 days prior.

30 miles is truly a mere training run.

I'd call myself blessed, but that sounds too 700 Club, so I'll stick with saying I'm incredibly lucky to be able to head to the trails, run 30 miles, shower, change, and not hobble around in the least. Although I was pretty slow as I walked into the brewery we hit earlier for dinner, but that's simply fatigue. Pft. A little fatigue never hurt anyone. Right?

And so here I sit, 4 weeks out from my second 100 mile attempt, wondering with great expectation when the day will pass that an "easy" 100 will leave me much in the same state of mind:

"100 miles with only 12,000 feet of gain? Nothing like an easy training run!"

Friday, August 28, 2009

"That's ultra!"

For those of you who haven't seen it, here is Andrew Jones Wilkins around mile 76 at the Leadville 100 last weekend, where he placed 9th. He also placed 10th at the Hardrock 100 in July and 10th at the Western States 100 in June. That's what he's talking about when he quips, "It's been a long summer."

Warning: Pretty graphic, but don't let it stop you. The ending of the clip pretty much sums up ultra running.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On Crap Beer and the Reward For A Long Run

It's my dirty little secret, and it's time to let it out of the bag: I LOVE a crappy beer post-long-run. Watery, low alcohol, with little to no taste. In Portland, this is the criminal equivalent to ordering a plate of dog shit at a 5 star restaurant. For, as you know, the Pacific NW is host to flavor-infused, carefully crafted, meticulously concocted microbrews; some of the tastiest, hoppiest, most intriguingly named (see: Pliny the Elder, Tricerahops, and Arrogant Bastard) brews on the 3rd planet from the sun.

That's Earth, for those of you who - like myself - attended public school.

But my taste buds want none of the floral essences, or the mysterious hop combinations after I've pounded out 22+ dirty miles out on the trails. What they want is to be treated like a 15 year old sneaking out to the forest preserve with his buddies to pound can upon can of skunk-ass beer.

And so here I sit, having just finished 3 hours and 40 minutes of scuttling up and down singletrack in the woods, with a Foster's beer can beside my keyboard. And it is GLORIOUS. The taste? Hmmm...have you ever watered down a Budwieser with 70% tap water? If yes, then you're getting the idea. If not, I recommend licking the sweat off an alcoholic bum, and imagining it with less body and taste.

On a side note: I'm 4 weeks out from the 100. I feel prepped as all hell to tackle this thing, as I've indicated, although I am a bit nervous about the lack of crew/drop bag access. The race directors had to reroute the course due to some LAME "Wilderness Protection Bill" (BOO, OBAMA, YOU FASCIST, SOCIALIST, KENYA-BORN, NON-AMERICAN, TREE-HUGGER, PRIUS DRIVING FASCIST SOCIALIST...this was an attempt at irony), but wow, EIGHT aid stations will have zero access to crew and drop bags. Which kinda leaves runners hanging by our asses.

One thing is for certain: Once I've crossed the finish, the night will belong to Michelob.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

As you likely do not know, I do my two shorter runs at the gym during the week, usually on the elliptical, to give my body a break from the banging of the trails. Today, as I settled into my 6 miler, two middle-aged women were talking to my right, beside one another, and through my headphones, I heard the unmistakable sound of the whitest people on the planet trying to rap. The woman beside me:

"My name is Mary...
My husband's name is Mike...
the....uhhhh....hmmm...other day he did something
I just didn't like..."

This went on for several minutes, each of them taking turns. Sadly, I wasn't in the mindset to completely shut off my music and eavesdrop.

I believe they landed a recording deal somewhere around the stationary bicycles.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


When I lived in Los Angeles over an 11 year span, whether I was commuting to work, working, or commuting from work back home (I have just described an 18 hour day in the life of a Los Angelian), there was little time for "being". On the flip side, my life was busting at the seams with "doing", and reflecting back, I have no idea what I was actually "doing" besides getting to and from freelance TV writing jobs that left me creatively and emotionally drained. And not emotionally drained because I was creating meaningful, deep, soul-stressing programming. No, I felt sapped because I was actually putting together television shows that were complete and utter lies, posed as "reality". What I was left with at the end of my hour + commute to drive 16 miles (I once clocked 10k on the freeway and realized that even if I didn't push myself, I could still run it just as fast: 45 minutes) was an overall sense of "WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING?!?", which made "being" nearly impossible.

I always looked forward with great anticipation to my runs - before work, and long ones on the weekend - when I would escape the city to the mountains and...well, RUN. And that's all I did: Becoming a verb in those moments. "I *AM* 'running'," I'd muse to myself. The complete naturalness and ease that accompanied that feeling would soon rinse away my feelings of paddling upstream, as hard as I could, in a cardboard canoe with hockey stick for a paddle.

Having moved to Oregon and shirking the LA "lifestyle", I've found myself with time for Being, and my feet hit the floor every morning and I thank my lucky stars for it. Sure, there are challenges, but they're far more my speed: Which direction to steer a career? With whom to collaborate on creative endeavors, not to pitch to a network, but to create and see where they go? Being in this state of - er, ahem - Being has given my running a slightly different, slightly deeper meaning. No longer am I escaping the scramble to survive; I'm simply going to Be somewhere else for a little while, and do something I love.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I've been inspired. And, as they say, blogging is 90% inspiration, 5% perspiration, 3.8% regurgitation, and the remaining percentage is comprised of potato leek soup and tap dance lessons.

Warning: These figures may be off by as much as 89%

Author Haruki Murakami's novel What I Talk About When I talk About Running has been in my hot little hands as of late, and - while I find it somewhat disjointed at times - it's put a whisper of a thought in my head about writing about distance running. So here I go: My plan is to write an entry/day leading up to Hundred in the Hood on September 26th; nearly one month to the day of the race.

I've noticed a shockingly obvious parallel in my life. As a writer, I've pumped out a few handfuls of short stories, some tragically lame poetry, and have about 4 unfinished screenplays forever living on my hard drive. But writing a novel? Sure, why not? It's only the most painfully long process you can put yourself through as a writer. I mean, why sketch a simple 12" x 12" portrait when you could paint a mural on the side of the Sears Tower?

I completed the first draft of my first novel and am currently rewriting my second draft. This is a little bit like beating yourself over the head with a Louisville Slugger, allowing the wounds to heal, and then beating yourself over the head with a hammer; slightly less painful, but it still leaves you groaning.

So I've tackled/am tackling writing a novel. And running? Why, I could try to train for my fastest road marathon/10k/5k/trip down the block, couldn't I? Instead, I choose to undergo training that can only be described as the most physically and psychologically transforming experience of a lifetime. Again: Why bust out a sub-20 minute 5k when you can drag your sad, sorry ass across mountain terrain for 25-30 hours?

I suppose I enjoy the "process" of both undertakings. The actual 100 mile race, the physical novel? Most excellent to experience, touch, sniff (okay, maybe just the novel). Absolutely. But how I get there is as of much, if not more, importance to me. How could I hand off a book to friends, loved ones, and complete strangers without first getting the idea, and then growing it into an outline, then writing the prose? And how in the HELL could I run 100 miles in a single day without planning, obsessing, recording, um, well, RUNNING all the way to the starting line?

Now, where did I put that hammer...

Quick post

I am so ready to run this 100.


81 miles this week. And I know that next week holds more.

Beat DOWN, I am. Whilst prepping a wedding.

Why is there still a grin on my mug?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

PCT 50 Part Deux: The Final Battle

Morning came early at 4:30, but we got our respective gear together and shlepped across the road to the local market. Our goal: Buy beer for the finish line. However, the clerk informed our broken hearts, they couldn’t sell alcohol before 7AM. This, in a town called “Zig Zag”. I bet if we’d walked 2 blocks in any direction, we could have purchased something far more potent to celebrate with.

45 minutes later, we were parked at the start finish, changed, picking up our packets, and ready to roll. Ruben introduced me to Lanny: A member of our running group (by which I mean, the running group I’ve never actually run with). He’d been nursing a hip injury and had only decided at the last minute that morning to chance it on the run.

“If I have to drop at mile 28 (an aid station located at the start/finish), then I got in a 28 mile run.”

Ultras at 50+ miles are such a hodge-podge of equipment planning: Some people are loaded down with gear/water packs/clothing/bandanas; others carry only water bottles, and then, then there’s Ruben: One handheld bottle and a Snickers bar. That’s it. Snickers must TRULY satisfy.

A few hellos to trail-pals, I wished Ruben and Lanny luck and made myself to the center of the pack, not wanting to get in the way of the big boys n’ gals. After all, I was taking this one nice, slow and easy. As if I am capable of running an ultra any other way.

3, 2, 1, and we were off, whooping and hollering up the 1/10 mile worth of road to the singletrack Pacific Crest Trail. I saw Ruben and Lanny sprinting ahead of the pack while the rest of us hit a bottleneck that could rival the 10 and 405 FWYs on any given day of the week. I said to the slowly walking train ahead of me, “I can handle this pace!” as we wandered along for a good 3 minutes. Then, everything opened up, and the shuffling commenced.

It was 6~miles to the first aid station at Crater Lake; a tiny, crystal clear body of water alongside a trail constructed of wooden planks. I made chit chat with a runner named Burke in from Colorado as we ran along, and before I knew it, I had checked in, grabbed some snacks, and immediately checked back out. This was an in and out aid station, and the wooden planks made passing one another slightly difficult. I knew that when we came back through 22 miles later, growing fatigue our legs would make it slightly more difficult. But before I knew it, I was back on the PCT and headed out to the turnaround aid station at Frog lake, 3 .5 miles away.

Settling in to a comfortable pace, I soon caught up with Mike, a local Portland runner, and a funny, affable fella. I mentioned that I had driven out the prior night with the guy I was pretty sure was going to take this race, Ruben. He laughed and said, “I know Ruben!” As it turns out, Mike and I are BOTH members of the aforementioned trail running group that has yet to run with said trail running group. I also suspected that he and I would be seeing a lot of one another during this race, as our paces were nearly identical. I sure was hoping so, because I knew that late in a 50 miler, having someone you get along with running the same pace as you can save your ass.

My dear friend Kate had taken the early start offered by the race directors. Once again, I wondered when I’d be coming across her, and AGAIN, she magically appeared! We hugged, she told me to get a move on, and we parted. That gave me a nice charge and boost, I gotta admit.

We soon crossed a highway and ran another 50 yards to the second aid stop. I refilled, checked out, and made my way back across the road, feeling fantastic at mile 14.

Yeah. Mile 14. In a 50 miler. I knew that feeling would last MAYBE another 25 miles, so I decided to enjoy it while it lasted.

The temps were cooler at the elevation we were running at (4,000’), but word was we’d be facing mid 80s by early afternoon, and if we passed through any canyons, or if tree cover disappeared, it’d be an ass-kicking.

My – ahem – “G.I. tract” had been “talking” to me for the last several miles (ultra speak for: I had to take dump), so I hiked off-trail, found an amicable tree, did my business, and hit the trail, feeling much “lighter” (ultra speak for: My dump made me feel better). Lo and behold, there was Mike, jogging along. We ran a bit with each other, but my legs were feeling strong, so I ran ahead, catching and passing a few runners here and there, hitting Little Crater aid stop in what felt like no time. I gobbled down a ton of watermelon and cantaloupe (which would become my mainstays as the heat grew) and headed back out, the next aid stop being at the start/finish at mile 28.

I passed a few more runners here and there, one of whom was having stomach issues, came across three riders on horseback who informed me that I was 1/8 of a mile from the road. Bam, I hit the road, hung a right, and there I was, at the mile 28 aid stop in 5 hours, which looked a bit like a M*A*S*H unit. People were digging through drop bags, changing shoes, smearing on sunscreen, sitting in chairs. All I could think was, “I gotta get the hell in and out!” I gave myself 3 minutes to refill bottles and hang out as a reward, and I was off.

About 1/10 of a mile worth of singletrack greeted me, and then I popped out onto – drumroll – FULLY EXPOSED JEEP ROADS. Holy shit. The sun was beating down on me like Stan Getz. Or Tommy Lee. Wait: Which one steered a boat with his erection? I forget. And digress.

This road was DEATH. It climbed mercilessly, and you could see at least ½ a mile ahead towards the hot, blinding nothingness that awaited. I mused with a couple of other runners about the “Army of the Damned” that we saw up ahead, cresting a hill: Sweat-soaked runners in a death march, packed tightly together. I knew we’d be joining their ranks soon.

Finally, the Road to Nowhere was marked with a bright pink flag at a trail intersection (remember this fact for later, as I didn’t), showing us with open arms a trail to ease our wearied bodies/brains. We enthusiastically leapt onto the trail and began an ascent. One that made our calves burn and scream in abject terror.

The climb carried on for quite a good bit, and then I finally caught the “Army”, following the train of five for 10 minutes before feeling I needed to run more (we were power-walking as hard as we could). I scooted past and ran when I could, which wasn’t very often, as the climb carried me to the aid station at Red Wolf. The first runner coming back from the second turn around descended at an insane pace. It was LANNY!

“Are you in the lead?!?!”

“Yep!” he breathed, blazing past me. I guess he hadn’t dropped at mile 28. Thinking back, I ‘m sure I saw him after the first turn around, in the lead. Ruben wasn’t very far behind, as he’d screamed, “Rustyboy!” my way as he tore past.

The climb continued not too much farther when I began seeing signs planted beside the trail:

“My, grandma, what big EYES you have!” the first one read.

A few minutes later:

“The better to see you with, my dear!”

A few minutes later:

“My, grandma, what big HANDS you have!”

Minutes passed, and another sign:

“The better to fill your bottles with, my dear!”

Okay, if you know me, you’re more than aware that I’m prone to get teary-eyed. In fact, the theme song from “Welcome Back Kotter” can get me sobbing. And I actually teared up upon seeing those signs. I love this sport so damned much, and little gestures like these at mile 32 of a 50 can really keep your head even and light. And I KNEW what I’d be seeing at the aid stop.

I pulled in whooping and clapping, pulling my bottles from my waist pack and handed them off to “grandma” herself: A worker dolled up in granny glasses, nightgown, wolf ears and tail. Everyone was joking, filled with energy, although I knew that coming back through after the turn around would be a different story, when this would be the mile 45 aid stop. The heat was growing and fatigue had rolled out the red carpet. But I wasn’t done. Business was still to be settled.

And then I saw Ruben trotting back, firmly in 2nd place, shirtless and smiling! But as we high fived, he revealed that he hadn’t planned on 50 miles feeling this tough.

“It’s a different game, right?” I asked.

“I just want to get to the finish. 5 miles, right? I’ve run 5 miles before,” he muttered, convincing himself.

I slapped him on the back and bade him best of luck. I couldn’t tell him quite yet, but I was so damned proud of him. He informed me of what was to come until I’d hit the turn around: Lots of downhill followed by a bit of uphill, then the aid station. I was grateful to know what to plan on dealing with, but I also knew what “lots of downhill” on the way out meant for the way back. I shoved those thoughts to the rear of my mind, where lingered images of my parents having sex (shudder) and memories of the Bush administration (shudder-puke-shudder).

Off I trotted, and the downhills came...and came...and came, and HOLY SHIT a creek!!!! A couple of runners I'd been yo-yo-ing with all afternoon and I dunked our hats in it, it's ice-cold goodness sending yelps from our burning brows.

"Nothing as refreshing as a hat-full of mosquito nests!" I announced, with the stinging, sweet cool water dribbling in my eyes.

We continued, crossing a jeep road, and then the climbs hit. I think it was here that I took my first header: I scooted aside to let an oncoming runner pass, literally standing still, when I "tripped" and ended up in the brush (which, BTW, covered the trails at certain points).

"Man down!" yelled the guys behind me. I have no idea how one stands still and trips, but I'd accomplished just that.

We climbed to the dead-end aid station/turnaround, and the heat was tearing us new assholes. Several runners were seated in chairs in the shade. I'd call this my "dark patch" right here, as I began imagining the 3+ mile climb that was awaiting, knowing the heat was gonna hammer down harder on us.

I could drop here. It's mile 40. Do I want to push during a training run and possibly mess myself up?

That little voice makes periodic pit stops in my brain, so I have to remind The Voice Called Doubt™ what we're doing.

Uh, NO - it's only 10 miles left of 50, so screw off.

We had to run a little out and back beyond the aid stop, so I pounded up the hill, hit the turnaround, and headed back, regrouping. I gobbled tons of refreshing watermelon/cantaloupe and readied for the adventure back home, downed several Sprites, then saw Mike - from earlier - roll in.

"It was great running with you, man!" he yelled.

"You aren't getting away that easy. You're gonna help me drag ass up that mountain on the way back!" I called to him as he headed to do his out and back.

Now, I was energized and ready. It's amazing how little mind games like that can flip a switch during these big runs. I bounced in place, waiting for his return. When he came back, he filled his bottles.

"Let's rock this thing," I told him, and off we patted, on our short (ooohhhhh, TOO short) downhill.

Okay, I may have mentioned above here, but, well, THAT UPHILL WAS OUT TO KILL US ALL!!!!! Holy hell, it was steep. Steep, as in, power-walking wasn't even an option at this point. I'm a sea level dweller, and the race started at 4,000'. One runner, on our way down, told me his Garmin said we'd lost 800' in 1/2 a mile, so here we were, making it back up. As the air grew thinner, my stomach began doing cartwheels. Very BAD cartwheels, like ones you see on a playground that make you wince when a kid bashes his head on the asphalt. We pushed, caught two female runners who were looking none-too-pleased about the grade, and basically stayed with them the entire 45+ minute climb. Conversation dwindled to a dull series of grunts and moans, and it seemed like 5 days passed until we hit the last aid station. I stumbled in behind Mike, filled up again from Grandma, and gave myself a pep talk.

"YOU'RE THERE. Finish this!!!"

The workers were SO sweet and supportive, and as I charged out after Mike, they hollered and cheered as I yelled, "I can almost smell the beer at the finish!"

Then, the downhills began. I had been looking forward to them for over an hour on that mother-trucker of a climb, and here they were. I jogged most of them, my energy returning slowly. Mike had carried on ahead, as the only thing left to do was claw our ways to the finish. I popped in my earbuds and landed on the song that is absolute magic when it comes to picking up the pace for me:

I really wanna know

As soon as Pete Townshend's guitar blasted through the smashing of Keith Moon's crashing drums, I found my pace quickening. And I mean QUICK - I passed about 6 runners (including Mike) as I beat away at air drums, the tears coming, the thrill of racing in the woods overtaking my being, and down, down, down I cascaded, hitting the gravel road, hanging a left, certain that the finish was a mere 2 miles from my hands.

And about 4 minutes later, the road ended.


Then I saw Mike bounding towards me. I yelled, "Is this it?!", to which he responded, jokingly, "It has to be. It would SUCK getting lost this late in the race."

Another 4 runners approached. This settled my nerves and at the same time sealed it.

"This ain't it."

We turned on our heels and began shuffling back to the singletrack that had dumped us onto the gravel. Lo and behold, there was an entrance to more singletrack, poorly marked, but there it was.

"DAMMIT!" one runner yelled, grabbing his pacer and heading down. "If I finish in 11:02, I'm gonna be pissed." He told us that we'd added exactly 1 mile to our run with our detour.

Now it was every man for himself. Mike took the lead, and the above runner and pacer took off ahead of me, angrily pounding the trail. I was just relieved to be on track. Relief would last all of 15 seconds...

Blam! My right instep hit a rock.

WHUMP! I did a full forward flip onto my back.

ZAP! as a charlie horse gripped my calf.

"Hey, are you okay?" asked the runner ahead of me, who'd seen the entire spill.

"Yeah, just this cramp," I winced, massaging my calf as I lay prostrate on the trail.

"Dude, that spill was RAD!" he smiled, taking off.

My scrapes and cuts would later confirm it: Not one part of my arm or shoulder had touched the ground. I had pulled off what we breakdancers back in the day called a "suicide".

Relentless forward motion dictated that I assess my condition immediately (nothing broken or sticking out from my skin) and keep moving, so I did. Seconds later, I hit the actual turn and headed out on the long, arduous, painfully steaming road. I caught two runners and saw Mike on the horizon. Shuffling up to him, I realized we were both cooked, and that in NO WAY had we just run 50 miles.

"I'm putting 54 in my running log," he snorted, and I agreed. I've run 50 miles. This was NO 50 miler.

Mike peeled away and we walk/ran to the singletrack that would pop us up on the road, only 1/10th of a mile to the finish. Through the trees, I heard the cheering for Mike, and my energy immediately returned, as did my running. I climbed up out of the woods, where 3 onlookers pointed me toward the finish. I trotted past the cheers of, oh, a dozen people (yeah, this sport draws the spectators, aka, family members) and saw Kate about 20 yards from the finish. She acted as though I was chasing her, so I hammered a out sprint, caught her, and she grabbed my hand just as she did when we'd finished her race at Headlands Hundred last August. We charged across the finish in 11 hours (maybe less, I didn't see the clock) and she gave me a huge hug, asking if I wanted anything.

"I just need to find a place to puke."

Yeah, that last sprint had sent all the blood from my guts into my legs, and I was feeling it. I dry heaved twice and felt better. Kate came over with a bucket of ice water and washed me off (did I mention already that she's an amazing human being? No? Well, there. I just did.) Ruben ambled over and shook my hand.

"How'd you do?"

"2nd place. 7 hours and 15 minutes or somethin'."

OR SOMETHIN'?!?! The guy is a machine.

Charles, one of my pals who was volunteering, came over and shook my hand, as did Mike, echoing what he'd said 10 miles prior.

"It was great running with you, man."

Ruben led me to a creek, where I soaked my swollen feet, and I rinsed off at a water spigot, grabbed a Coke, changed, and climbed in the car. We were SPENT.

"Now run it again," I smirked. "That's what I'll be doing in the fall."

Ruben shook his head as he shoved the car into gear.

"Dude, I am so sorry."

I called the garage where my car was being healed, and the owner said it would be later in the week, as he was waiting on a part. At least I think that's what he said. My brain was tapioca pudding at that point. I really need to call him today.

Overall, I'm pleased with how it all went down. I had to dig a little, which will happen more than once during the 100, so it's reassuring to know I can easily tap into that part of me, plus I got to see more of the 100 course. I awoke on Sunday with minimal soreness that faded altogether by day's end, so I know my training's on track, and I put in 5 miles yesterday on the elliptical with perfectly strong legs.

Okay, September: I'm ready for you!!!

(thank you to ALL of the workers, Bushwacker Mike, Monika, and Olga for putting the event together, and my fellow runners, who continue to amaze and astonish me with their strength and fortitude and humor.)