Sunday, September 30, 2007

Chiquita Canyon Fire Road (poor deer!)

I did my last long training run before the Long Beach marathon today.
I started on the fire road that goes on the hills ridge to the east from Antonio Parkway.

Somewhere on the hills above Oso I came across a deer that had been eaten by someone. Moutain lions? Could be, although I bet it were not them who put a rope around the neck of the poor animal.

I did not know exactly where Chiquita Canyon fire roads go: sometimes I could see some houses in the distance, sometimes I saw nothing except hills. Between miles 9 and 10 I started to feel I am getting lost in those hills and probably need to turn back. The only problem with that was I did not have enough water to make it all the way back to Ladera. It was getting quite hot and 40oz from my two hand-bottles evaporated sooner than usual.
I completely ran out of Gatorade by mile 12. However by that time I already was out of the woods on Antonio and had to run just 2 miles without water before I reached a gas station on Oso with an amazing choice of cold drinks in the fridge :)

Mileage: 15.8 miles
Time: 2:54:40
Average pace: 11:03 min/mile

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Coghlan’s Snake Bite Kit: Expert Review

Just found on Amazon a great expert review on one of snake bite kits:

"I work as a tour guide in the outback of Australia. I was recently horrified to examine the contents of this snake bite kit that one of my overseas passengers was carrying. I seriously cannot believe that in this day and age of first aid wisdom, Coghlan's are still selling such a frighteningly wrong product. Do they know nothing about correct snake bite treatment?

No you do not inject antivenin immediately, as the instructions advise. Antivenin can be just as dangerous as a snake bite, if the wrong one is administered. Further, if a snake bite is dry (most are), then the administration of antivenin is terribly dangerous. Only after a victim starts to show symptoms of invenimation should antivenin be given, and then only by an expert who has positively identified the type of snake.

No you should not clean the site of the bite. Leaving the bite alone is crucial to the correct identification of the venom and administration of the correct antivenin.

God no you should never cut into a snake bite with a scalpel. Are these guys serious!? How can they be so out of touch with correct first aid procedures? Not only do you risk introducing the venom into the bloodstream but cutting a patient will no doubt cause much anxiety and heighten the pulse rate... precisely what you are trying to avoid happening. The flowing blood will also wash away the venom which you need on the skin for identification purposes.

No you should not use a lymph constrictor. The lymph system is best slowed down by bandaging with a regular elastic bandage from the bite site down to the end of the limb, then all the way back up to the top of the limb. But then if Coghlan's told people that, they wouldn't make any money from selling these dodgy snake bite kits, would they?

I'm amazed Coghlan's haven't been sued for selling this product. I would strongly advise they remove it from the market, because it is a dangerous bit of merchandise. If Coghlan's were in my first aid class, they would have received a fail."

By Gary W. Topic (NSW, Australia)

It sounds like the only snake bite kit experts recommend is the Sawyer’s Extractor:

A lot of other "older" kits got negative reviews as they include things you should not use, like a scalpel for skin cuts or a restriction bondage / tourniquet.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Snakes (a quick survival reference)

After a couple of my recent encounters with rattlesnakes on local trails, I did a quick research just to be sure what to do if – god forbid! – we get closer acquainted one day.

I saw how professional actors :) were treating snake bites in various movies and was just looking for some additional instructions on how to do it. The picture I had in my head looked like:

• Cut the skin were snake bit with a knife
• Squeeze some of the venom out by fingers
• Drink some olive oil (if you have it) and suck the venom by mouth
• Apply a tight tourniquet to the limb to make sure venom does not spread

Right? – Absolutely wrong!!!
Never ever do any of the things listed above! All of them are items included in most of DO NOT lists related to snake bites first aid.

Each year in the U.S., there are over 8,000 poisonous snakebites -- mostly in the summer season. Poisonous snake bites are medical emergencies, and they can be deadly if not treated quickly. Children are at higher risk for death or serious complications because of their smaller body size. However, the right anti-venom can save a person's life. Getting the person to an emergency room as quickly as possible is very important.

Prevention Hints
• All snakes will bite when threatened or surprised, but most will usually avoid an encounter if possible and only bite as a last resort.
• Snakes found in and near water are frequently mistaken as being poisonous. Most species of snake are harmless and many bites will not be life-threatening, but unless you are absolutely sure that you know the species, treat it seriously.
• Keep your hands and feet away from areas where you cannot see, like between rocks or in tall grass where rattlesnakes like to rest.
• Even though most snakes are not poisonous, avoid picking up or playing with any snake unless you have been properly trained.
• Many serious snake bites occur when someone deliberately provokes a snake.
• When hiking in an area known to have snakes, wear long pants and boots if possible.
• Avoid areas where snakes may be hiding such as under rocks and logs.
• Tap ahead of you with a walking stick before entering an area with an obscured view of your feet. Snakes will attempt to avoid you if given adequate warning.
• If you are a frequent hiker, consider purchasing a snakebite kit. But do NOT use older snakebite kits, such as those containing razor blades and suction bulbs.

• DO NOT allow the victim to become over-exerted. If necessary, carry the victim to safety.
• DO NOT apply a tourniquet.
• DO NOT apply cold compresses to a snake bite.
• DO NOT cut into a snake bite with a knife or razor.
• DO NOT try to suction the venom by mouth.
• DO NOT give the victim stimulants or pain medications unless instructed by a doctor.
• DO NOT give the victim anything by mouth.
• DO NOT raise the site of the bite above the level of the victim's heart.

First Aid
1. Keep the person calm, reassuring them that bites can be effectively treated in an emergency room. Restrict movement, and keep the affected area below heart level to reduce the flow of venom.
2. If you have a pump suction device (such as that made by Sawyer), follow the manufacturer's directions.
3. Remove any rings, jewelry or constricting items because the affected area may swell and constricting items will cause tissue death.
4. Create a loose splint to help restrict movement of the area. Keep the bitten area still. You can immobilize the area with an improvised splint made from a board, magazines, or other stiff material tied to the limb. Don't tie it too tight---you don't want to reduce blood flow.
5. If the area of the bite begins to swell and change color, the snake was probably poisonous.
6. Keep the area of the snake bite lower than the heart.
7. If the snake is an elapid species (coral snakes and cobras), wrap the extremity with an elastic pressure bandage. Start from the point closest to the heart and wrap towards the fingers or toes.
8. Monitor the person's vital signs -- temperature, pulse, rate of breathing, and blood pressure -- if possible.
9. If there are signs of shock (such as paleness), lay the person flat, raise the feet about a foot, and cover the person with a blanket.
10. Get medical help immediately.
11. Bring in the dead snake only if this can be done safely. Do not waste time hunting for the snake, and do not risk another bite if it is not easy to kill the snake. Be careful of the head when transporting it -- a snake can actually bite for up to an hour after it is dead (from a reflex).

• Bloody wound discharge
• Blurred vision
• Burning
• Convulsions
• Diarrhea
• Dizziness
• Excessive sweating
• Fainting
• Fang marks in the skin
• Fever
• Increased thirst
• Local tissue death
• Loss of muscle coordination
• Nausea and vomiting
• Numbness and tingling
• Rapid pulse
• Severe pain
• Skin discoloration
• Swelling at the site of the bite
• Weakness

Useful Links

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Endurance Planet

I came across a cool web site today:
They have a bunch of podcasts (mostly interviews) with endurance athletes about their Ironman's and Ultra-marathons.

Bad Ben publishes his podcasts there too:
Bad Ben's Chronicles - Race T-Shirt Etiquette
Bad Ben's Chronicles - Beauty That Hurts
Bad Ben's Chronicles - Acute Gravitational Influx

Here is an interview with David Goggins, a Navy Seal from SoCal for whom the Badwater became the first race longer than a half-marathon, and who nevertheless came to the finish 3rd there! Can you imagine that?!
One Tough Dude - The David Goggins Story

Monday, September 24, 2007

Proper T-Shirt Etiquette :)

I believe runners' T-shirt etiquette gets overlooked and underrated all the time. Bed Ben did a great job putting it all together to get the runners’ community back to senses. Here are few of my favorite rules from his list:

2. Any race tee, less than a marathon distance, shouldn’t be worn to an ultramarathon event. This goes double for the wearing of sprint-tri shirts to Ironman and Half-Ironman events. It simply doesn’t represent a high enough "cool factor " and sends a red flag regarding your rookiness. It's like taking a knife to a gunfight. It's probably best just to wear a generic name-brand athletic shirt, and go hide in a corner until race time.

6. A DNF’er may wear a race shirt if... the letters DNF are boldly written on the shirt in question (using a fat Sharpie or a Marks-A-Lot).

10. No souvenir shirts: therefore, friends or anyone else not associated with the race may not wear a race shirt. If your mom thinks that your Boston shirt is lovely, tell her to QUALIFY for Boston herself, & send in her application early for next year, so she can earn her own shirt. A downside to this: she still has plenty of time to write you out of her will between her training runs for the big race. Note that your mom CAN wear your finisher's shirt under one of these 4 conditions- 1) you still live with your mother; 2) she funded your trip to the race; 3) she recently bailed you out of the slammer; or 4) All of the above…

12. Your t-shirt should be kept clean, but dried blood stains are okay, especially if it is a trail race or a particularly tough event. If you're an ultrarunner, you can even leave in mud and grass stains, (and porcupine quills). Not washing-out the skunk scent is pushing the macho thing a bit too far, though.

14. Also: never wear a blatantly prestigious T-shirt downtown or at the mall among non-running ilk. People will just think you have a big head, which you do. You'll also get stupid questions, like, "how long was that marathon?" If it's a shirt to a 50 or 100-miler, they'll think it's a shirt for a cycling event or just think you're totally nuts, which (of course), you probably are.

21. By the way, if you don't know what terms like DNF, volunteer, or Significant Other are, then you shouldn't wear any race shirt until you know what they mean, and you shouldn’t have any meaningful relationships, either…

Read more about it in the Bad Ben's blog.

P.S. I know these rules might sound like over-the-top to some people, but here is a proof they are anything but a joke:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Old Glory Again: The Groundhog Day

- Do you ever have deja vu, Mrs. Lancaster?
- I don't think so, but I can check with the kitchen.
- Excuse me, where is everyone going?
- To Gobbler's Knob. It's Groundhog Day.
- It's still just once a year, right?

I woke up at around the same time today as yesterday, put on the same running clothes and same Asics running shoes still covered with the clay from our yesterday's muddy trail run and pretty soon found myself at the trailhead of the same Madjeska trail we ran yesterday morning. There were few differences though that made me think it is probably not quite the same thing that happened to Phil Connors in the movie: there were just two of us there - Linda and myself, and it was not raining anymore :-)

We reached the Old Glory (again) and then went past it for 2 more miles or so:

The whole place was full of mountain bikers to the extent when it totally felt like being in the middle of a mountain bike race - except they were not wearing any race bibs. On our way back we met over 50 bikers (all going up): some riding alone, others in groups of 5 to 10 people.

In a mile after the Old Glory we saw a cave in the mountain - just a yard off the trail. Linda said she also saw a caveman in it but I did not. I guess I would if I had a mirror with me...

The trail and the mountains around it were so beautiful that at times we could only sigh more of the OCTR fellow runners did not join us this morning :-)

More photos from our run:
The Old Glory Again

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Old Glory Run: Dancing in the Rain

I love rains but enjoy them more when it rains behind a window, especially on a Saturday morning when you do not need to get up early (or at least as early as 5:30 am). I guess I am not a Fred-Astaire-type of a guy capable to sing and dance in the rain and above all enjoy it at the same time :-)

Therefore when we met on Modjeska Grade road this morning under pouring rain and wind my first impression was: Are we nuts?! Here is a group of people that really needs some serious professional mental assistance. At least myself for sure: I just had a severe cold that lasted for two weeks and have not fully got over it yet. What the heck am I thinking of?
But the whole thing turned out to be much more enjoyable than it initially felt like, even although some of the trails were pretty muddy and slippery and we were all wet through. I was wondering what it would feel to do a trail run with ankle weights. I got a good preview of it today - at times it was feeling like I had a pound of clay on each shoe.
Despite the weather conditions we had a pretty sizable group today: Jessica, Julian, Bobby, Skip, Tracie, and myself.

All the views were totally breathtaking:
And when we reached the Old Glory flagstaff, it felt almost like reaching Mt.Whitney summit (easy for me to say as I never did the latter myself).

Jessica did a post about our today's run as well:

More photos from our run (29 photos):

The Old Glory Run

P.S. All the photos are 1024x768. If anyone needs original photos (1600x1200) for print or something, just let me know and I will make them available too.

Friday, September 21, 2007

They get a lot of DNFs starting in this section

Just found it in one of Olga's older posts and could not help stealing this picture :-)))

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gatorade RAIN

I tried a new Gatorade lately - Gatorade RAIN - and will stick with it further on.

Although it does not sound as cool and energetic as Frost, X-Factor or Fierce, it has very mild non-sugary taste, even when it is not cold. At the same time all the nutrition facts for it are the same as for the X-Factor and others.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Lightnings & Coyotes

I was running pretty late tonight along the powerline hills of Ladera. I have got myself a new toy lately - a headlight (I never had one before) - and decided to put it to a test. And the result was quite spectacular:

Well, the lightning in Ladera is a fake. It is just me running in front of my camera with my headlight on. And it is not like I am lightning-fast but the camera is that slow in the night shooting mode.

Yup, the lightning was a fake, but the coyote was pretty real. I would not probably even notice him if I did not have my headlight on. The coyote turned out to be pretty skiddish and got off my way.

Monday, September 17, 2007

False start

The most ridiculous disqualification for an ultra-runner: false start in a 100-mile race.

(When I heard this joke today, I found it ridiculously funny for some reason…)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday run in Caspers Wilderness Park with Linda and Andy

We parked on San Juan Meadows parking lot of the Caspers Wilderness Park at about 7am today. This place is right off Ortega Highway on the left-hand side of the road when you drive inlands from Orange County.

We started our run on Juaneno trail. The first 2-3 miles of the run were pretty flat. Half of the trail was covered with a deep dust or sand, and it felt like running on the beach – great cushioning but it slows you down considerably.

Right after we turned onto San Juan Creek trail we hit a steep climb where Linda and I had to switch to walking, while Andy just kept running managing to keep the pace we had on the flat sections. I do not hate ascents – I am just not good at handling them. Downhill running is so much more fun!

We turned on Hot Springs Canyon trail and reached the hot springs pretty soon after that. It was around 5 miles from where we parked this morning.

Few facts about the hot springs for those who have not been there yet:
1) They are actually hot - not Starbucks-coffee-hot - but at least bath-tub-hot. So it is not a figure of speech as I kinda expected :)
2) They are bubbling and there is even actual steam coming up from the water despite it was already getting pretty hot when we reached the springs
3) They are reserved for trail runners only - you can only access them if you trail-run or do long-distance hiking. They are pretty close to Ortega highway, but completely fenced and surrounded with “No trespassing!” signs all around. However all the fences and signs face Ortega and if you get there from the hills side it does not feel like you do anything wrong at all :)

This is the infamous vampire photo of me Linda made in the Hot Springs area. Linda could clearly see me standing there - but when she was looking at me through the camera viewfinder she saw an empty spot right where I was supposed to be. Andy mentioned that this phenomenon is pretty natural for the vampires in the day light and works alike with any optics whether this is an ordinary mirror or a camera :)

After that we ran Cold Springs trail and turned on Oso trail that goes on top of the mountain ridge - it is one of those trails where you are getting a very spectacular view down on both sides of the trail at the same time. We could see from it Coto de Caza with the estate of William Lyon in the middle of it.
The downhill on Oso was pretty breathtaking. We went down from around 1650 feet to 550 feet within just a mile or two miles tops. I tried out again that thing I read in Scott Jurek’s interview from TrailRunner Magazine few weeks ago: no leaning back on the downhill - just relax, shorten your stride and run as fast as you feel comfortable running. And fast it was :)

Finally we turned on Bell Canyon trail, than Oak trail, passed by the horse stables and windmill and reached the parking lot with Linda's truck and cold Gatorade in it!

A genuine footprint of a genuine mountain lion. We have not see a lot of those prints on the trails though - they were more spotted by deer, runners and mountain bikers.
According to the information from the rangers’ post the last sighting of a mountain lion in this area was at July 24, 2007 (or was it June 24?), while the last sighting of a mountain biker was about 5 min before we came there.

Mileage: 13.5 miles
Time: 2:51:00
Average pace: 12:40 min/mile

More photos from the run (63 photos):

Caspers Wilderness Park

Saturday, September 15, 2007

First run in O'Neill Park with OCTR

We had a big group today running in O'Neill park: Wendy, Alexa, Jessica, Kayla, Kiko, Heather, Jenn, Chris and Bobby. As we were scheduled to start around 6:30 am and I needed to be at home by 8:30, I came there earlier and ran 3.5 miles before I met everyone at O'Neill park gate.

The whole group was running at a very comfortable of about 10 min/mile. The only exception was Kiko who kept circling around us running twice faster than the rest of us :-)

There were a couple of streams crossing the trails. Chris and Alexa ran right through them, while others tried to jump across on slippery submerged stones - some less successfully than others - I got my feet wet as well. I guess I should have followed Chris and Alexa: the result was about the same while their way of stream crossing was much more fun.

The initial plan for some of us was to run up to Jessica's place, hopefully get a bannana reward over there and get a lift back to where we parked our cars. But as we reached Ladera Ranch, we realized that we probably missed a turn to Las Flores where Jess lives.
Here is Jessica's recap on the search-and-rescue adventure our group had after I left home.

The good part was that I ran straight home from there and got there just in time.

Mileage: 12.3 miles
Time: 1:53:54
Average pace: 9:16 min/mile

More photos from today's run:

O'Neill Park with OCTR Sep-07

P.S. As soon as those streams are such a problem - at least on longer runs when it is more likely to develop blisters when your feet are wet - why do not we just get together and bridge them in the same way it is done in Aliso/Wood Canyon park?

Friday, September 14, 2007

We are not joggers!

I really love the spirit of the recent Pearl Izumi marketing campaign and their slogans. They always resonate with me a lot.

There some cool wallpapers on their web site:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The distance of truth

I think I will be competitive until they dig a hole and throw me in the ground. (Ferg Hawke) Although the DVD will be available on September 30, they have already added online ordering on their web site. We will see if this documentary is going to be at least as good as Running on the Sun.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Nothing paces me better when I am running uphill :-)

Monday, September 10, 2007


Thanks to Brian, I found a very nice alternative to my favorite PowerGel - CLIF SHOT Blocks.

I never tried CLIF SHOT Blocks before and found them much less sugary than PowerGel. The problem with the latter is that after mile 15 or 20 I cannot stand its sweetness anymore, especially when it is hot.

CLIF SHOT's have a bunch of flavors but I picked 2 for now - Margarita with extra salt and Black Cherry with Caffeine.
And from the point of nutrition facts CLIF SHOT Blocks are no worse than PowerGel too:

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Morgan trail run

I tried a new very cool trail today - Morgan trail - with Linda, Andy and Brian.

The trailhead is located next to that weirdish candy store in the middle of nowhere on Ortega highway.

As Andy said, if you run Morgan trail, it feels like you do three completely different trails back to back. At first you have to climb a pretty steep incline jumping from boulder to boulder.
Then you run a pretty flat trail carved into 7-feet-tall dry bushes on both sides. The rest of the trail goes through a little canyon with a shady green forest in it.
The trail ends up at a rest/vista area on the Main Drive also known as NF-6S07 road (could not someone come up with a more straight name for this road?!)
From this point you can see the north-west part of the lake Elsinore. Even if we did not enjoy the trail itself as much as we did, just this one view would be worth the effort of getting there.

The trail is 5 miles one way - or 10 miles out and back. We did the whole thing just 2 seconds shy of 2 hours at a very comfortable and relaxed pace of over 11 min/mile.I loved it and will certainly be back.
The only thing is I would not recommend to run there alone as we saw some paw-prints of a mountain lion on the trail.

Here are more pictures from our run:
Morgan Trail Sep-07