Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Old Glory is gone :(

Greg Hardesty just published a report from his first run to the Old Camp after the fire:

The pictures are not fun to watch recalling what it used to look like just few weeks ago:

Nevertheless I want to do the Old Glory run again once they officially open the trails.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Aliso & Wood Canyons

I overslept this morning - my super-intelligent alarm clock switched to winter time this night and when I finally woke up at 5:35am, I realized quite soon that it is more like a quarter to 7 already :(

Trying not to swear too loudly, I eventually left home at 7:05am. I was supposed to meet with OCTR team 5 minutes before and be running already and I was still 10 miles away from the trailhead!

No wonder when I came there 25 min late I did not find anyone at the Awma parking lot, and the trail was empty too...

Still I got lucky - I took a Rock It trail shortcut and caught up Greg and Martin, and in a while after that Sue and Steph on the hill ridge where the trail ends. Here is a picture from the happy reunion:

I ran about 13 miles today and feel pretty happy I did not miss all the fun due to my alarm clock hiccup this morning.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Santiago Fire (highlights)

The Santiago inferno is moving fast inlands towards the Riverside County, devouring more and more land of the surrounding mountains.
Live up-to-date version of this map can be found here:

Acres burned: approximately 27,600
Containment: 35 percent
Full containment expected: unknown
Full control: unknown
Aircrafts on scene: 13 helicopters, 4 air tankers, 13 water tenders
Firefighters on scene: 1,614 firefighters; 216 engines/trucks, 21 handcrews, 11 bulldozers. 634 personnel from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. 100-plus officers from California Highway Patrol.
Here are a couple of pictures by Greg Hardesty showing the devastation of our favorite mountain trails: The fire threatens homes in Silverado Canyon again. The Santiago fire dipped into the bottom of Silverado Canyon late Friday and is predicted to reach houses by Saturday afternoon (OC Register).
Most of the photos above came from the OC Register web site:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Fires in OC

A quick update on the fires in Orange County: the most affected areas are Modjeska Canyon, Silverado Canyon and Santiago Canyon. We got a lot of smoke in Irvine (especially on Monday) and can clearly see the fire from Ladera Ranch but they are in no danger.

As far as I know there were about 10 houses lost to the fire in Modjeska Canyon - I am not sure about the two other places. Although the fire in OC is pretty serious and grave, the damages cannot compare to what is going on in San Diego County where the fire already destroyed 1,600 homes (!) and triggered the largest evacuation in California history.

Here are some pictures of what is hapenning in our area:

A brush fire rages near dozens of homes at Silverado Tuesday night
At 7 a.m., fire was burning slowly toward a small custom home development called Santiago Canyon Estates near Cook's Corner. The winds had stopped but the fire continues to advance on the homes.
The setting sun silhouettes a home on fire in Modjeska Canyon.
Firefighters battle a blaze at 28161 Modjeska Grade Road in Modjeska Canyon on Tuesday. The house ignited a second time in the late afternoon after firefighters put it out once in the morning.
Under smoky skies Wednesday morning, northbound lanes of the I-5 freeway were closed because of a fire on Camp Pendleton.
The sun rises over the Cook's Corner area Wednesday morning. The winds did not return to the area and firefighters were able to focus their attention on flare-ups.
All the photos were taken from OC Register, which provides the most recent information about the fire:
Here is also an interesting blog about it:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Monday, October 15, 2007

Long Beach Aftermath

Although my legs are sore – in particular the arch of my right foot, which feels like I stretched it a little – I feel much better than after any of my previous races, even half-marathons.

Usually on the first day after a race I am completely crippled, can barely walk and completely unable to manage stairs – even sideways or backwards – downstairs in particular. And I am usually unable to run for almost a week after a race.

This time it is different. If my arch were not bugging me, I would even go for a quick run tonight.

I remember in Karnazes’ book he recalls one of his cross-country coaches told him it should hurt like hell after a race or otherwise it means you did not give your best to it. And this is exactly how I feel after the Long Beach this year.

What a masochism: it does not hurt enough and I am disappointed because of it :-)))

Sunday, October 14, 2007

My Apocalyptic Long Beach Marathon

Freddy, as a younger man, I was a sculptor, a painter, and a musician. There was just one problem: I wasn't very good. As a matter of fact, I was dreadful. I finally came to the frustrating conclusion that I had taste and style, but not talent. I knew my limitations. We all have our limitations, Freddy. Fortunately, I discovered that taste and style were commodities that people desired. Freddy, what I am saying is: know your limitations. You are a moron. (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels)

What does this have to do with the Long Beach marathon?
My net time in Long Beach in 2006 was 3:49:09
My net time there today was… 3:49:35
This is about the same – even 26 seconds slower than in 2006 – darn! I should not have taken than bathroom break! I heard some folks do it while running :-) I should have read more about the right techniques before the race :-)
All right, these were just 2 marathons in a raw. But if I do my third one next year with the same time it will totally mean I should know my limitations :-(

It all started as a long traffic jam on the Broadway exit of I-701.
Some people are lazy, and although they know there will be a 10,000+ cars and all of them will go according to the official marathon directions and will get stuck on Broadway – they still print out those same driving directions from the official web site and get stuck in an endless very-slow-moving traffic jam. I was one of those people, 2nd year in a row, and the lesson of my 2007 late start got well-forgotten.

Then there was a very long line to the porty-potties. Also a slow-moving one.
Did I mention it took me about 45 minutes to get from Ladera Ranch to Long Beach and another 45 minutes to exit to Broadway and get to the parking lot? And that all that time I was sipping Gatorade in the car?
Long story short I barely survived that porty-potties line :-)

This time I took my iPod with me and was listening Apocalyptica all the way.
Although the battery life on my iPod is marginal, it survived the race and never DNFed.
Apocalyptica is an extremely good pacer and energizer. This is a heavy metal band playing on four violins, usually without any drums, or vocal. They have a bunch of remixed Metallica songs, but play also songs of Sepulture and some of their own.

After four hours straight of Apocalyptica I still hear it in my ears, especially right now late at night when almost all other sounds disappeared.

My Garmin, by the way, tried to DNF three times during the race. First time it switched off for now apparent reason, I got really mad and was cursing it for the following 5 minutes. The second and third time did not generate that many emotions though – I did not expect much from it anymore.

Around mile 11 – somewhere right after the course split to marathon and half marathon – I caught up – to my big surprise – Suzy Degazon, whom I had met at the Mt. Disappointment race in August.
She told me later I cheered her up as she was having some hard time during that particular part of the race…

For the next 9 miles we were running side by side together.
Around mile 20 I ran out of gas and could not keep up with Suzy’s 8 minutes/mile pace any more. Plus there were some very light hills after 20-mile mark that nevertheless took their toll on me.
I had to slow down considerably and asked Suzy to run ahead not waiting for me.

Around mile 25 I maxed out music in my headphones, which felt like an adrenaline shot. I managed to pick up the pace and ran the last mile and a half at a 8 min/mile pace. The music was so loud that all other runners and spectators could clearly hear it too and I got a lot of cheers on the way :-)

Suzy and I at the finish line:

My post-race snack (Sonya decided to help her dad with the bagel):

Post-race excitement (I have not seen my net time yet):

Bib: 432
Place Overall: 367 out of 2330
Men: 310 out of 1454
Men 30-34: 48 out of 186

FINISH: 3:49:35 pace: 8:46
10K: 52:33 pace: 8:28
Half: 1:50:52 pace: 8:28
20 Mile: 2:49:27 pace: 8:29

Chip Time: 3:49:35
Gun Time: 3:54:44

Blisters: just 1 on the outer side of my big toe
Black nails: also just 1 this time in addition to what I still have from Mt.Disappointment

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Way to go, Gary!

Just in case someone has not see it yet, they made a video with an interview with Gary Hilliard:

Gary keeps recovering and his personal goal for 2008 is to do the Badwater again!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Few new things

I tried three new things during my today’s run in O’Neill park:

1) I tried my new injinji socks

These socks fit like a glove… quite literally :-)
I never tried them before and got my first three pairs this week.
At first they felt pretty funny and itchy between my toes – I am not used to have anything there. But a way before my Garmin beeped me the end of my first mile this morning, I stoped thinking about my toes and they did not bug me anymore.

I would not call it a test yet – let’s see what it will be like after a real race…

2) I got my feet seriously wet

Usually I am trying not to do it to avoid blisters. But when I reached the stream under the Oso bridge this morning there was no other way to cross it, run around it or jump over it. And I just ran through it. The water was pretty cold, but it felt good!

Of course after I got wet anyway, I ran through all the other stream crossings on my way.

One of the funniest was on the side trail that was going along the eastern trim of the park. It led me to a 25-feet-wide and about a knee-deep stream with a bungee rope hanging above it. I did not use the rope and just walked across the stream. The funny thing there was no trail whatsoever on the other side. Probably there are too very few crazy folks in O’Neill park that ever crossed the stream there :-)

My overall wet-feet experience is pretty positive and refreshing so far. When I got home I was sure my feet dried up but they just warmed up and I did not feel I was wet anymore.

Still I do understand it better right now why wet-feet running is not recommended. The skin on my feet became pinky and tender. After I got my feet wet I ran about 6 miles. If I had to run 20 miles like that I would have blisters all over my feet, despite my new cool injinji socks.

3) I ran on Pomegranate juice instead of Gatorade

This was a stupid idea! Running on O’Doul’s felt so much better :-)
Too acid and unbelievably sugary at the same time, pomegranate juice will not quench your thirst on the run, and even muddy puddles will seem a better alternative to whatever you've got in your hand-bottle in a little while :-)

Saturday, October 06, 2007

10K in Irvine: No Hills and No Eyes :)

I ran today after work along the channel that goes from Irvine to the Back Bay. Since we moved to Ladera Ranch each time we drive by and see a runner on it, I feel like I miss Irvine and our good old times there.

I ran 10K today at around 7:40 min/mile pace, which is crazily slow for many other folks, but crazily fast for me. Last time I was running a 10K that “fast” was in January, and it was in Irvine too.

I guess our move from Irvine to Ladera was one of the things that changed my mind set from road racing to trails. What else could I do in Irvine besides pounding concrete pedestrian roads all the time? And how a heck can I keep myself away from the hilly trails here in Ladera?

Back then I was totally about beating my time and setting new pace PR’s - whether it was a mile, 5K or 10K. Now the game is more about distance – training for the next 50K, having in mind a forthcoming 50-Miler, dreaming about running a 100K one day, and reading with envy Ben’s or Olga’s stories about their 100 Milers :-)))

I do enjoy trails much more than roads – how can you trade them back to concrete or even Corona-Del-Mar school's track that was getting me dizzy after 20th circle on it? But sometimes I still miss the track and my old speed chases…

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Our Hills Have Eyes Too

I was running around 10PM yesterday’s night on my home trails along that power line that goes through Ladera Ranch.

On my way back I saw yellow eyes looking at me from the trail ahead. Although I knew who it was my imagination was picturing someone big and dangerous. This time the coyote was not as afraid as the last time (I bet I look a way more dangerous when I listen to Apocaliptica on the run, but this time it was just a news podcast) and I had a chance to have a good look at him.

Yup, it was a coyote, and a pretty small one. He looked more like a prey than a predator in a pale glow of my headlight – especially when he fled into bushes.

The picture of a coyote in this blog is not an actual shot I made - I did not have my camera with me yesterday. Still this one looks exactly like the one I saw: pathetically harmless and well-natured :)

Another remarkable thing about yesterday’s 10K was that it was the first (and the last) run in my life on O’Doul’s :) I am not sure how I even came up with such a crazy idea. Probably it all came from Ben’s ramblings about his experience with Cascade Crest 100. One way or another when I was trying to pick between Gatorade and Mountain Dew to load into my hand bottle, all of a sudden I reached for O’Doul’s and poured it in instead :)

At first it was kinda cool – the beer was cool – and even cooler was the bare idea that I drink it on the run. My headlight was creating a tunnel effect when it all looks like as if you have a black-&-white TV right in front of your face. Plus I was listening to podcasts. So it all was like sitting with a bottle of a cool beer on a sofa and watching TV.

The downside of it was that around mile 5 remaining beer warmed up and foam-ized in my hand bottle. It is not just that the warm beer foam is barely drinkable and enjoyable, but also that due to the foam generation effect I lost my last 2oz of water (well, of beer in this particular case) - those same 2 last oz I always treasure most of all :)

Legal disclaimer:
O’Doul’s is a non-alcoholic brew. The coyote I saw on the hills has nothing to do with my O’Doul’s experiment, and cannot be considered a side-effect of O’Doul’s consumption.