Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mountain lions

A couple of my running buddies saw mountain lions in our area. With that in mind I would like to post a quick reminder to be cautious out there in the wilderness.

Mountain lions have a distinctive "M" shaped pad, and their claw marks do not show in the track. Walking, the lion's hind foot steps in his fore track, creating overlapping patterns.

Don’t approach a cougar. Most cougars want to avoid humans. Give a cougar the time and space to steer clear of you.

Avoid hiking alone, especially between dusk and dawn, when lions normally do their hunting. Make plenty of noise while you hike so as to reduce the chances of surprising a lion.

Never run past or from a cougar. This may trigger their instinct to chase. Make eye contact. Stand your ground. Pick up small children without, if possible, turning away or bending over.

Never bend over or crouch down. Doing so causes humans to resemble four-legged prey animals. Crouching down or bending over also makes the neck and back of the head vulnerable.

If you encounter a cougar, make yourself appear larger, more aggressive. Open your jacket, raise your arms, throw stones, branches, etc., without turning away. Wave raised arms slowly, and speak slowly, firmly, loudly to disrupt and discourage predatory behavior.

Try to remain standing to protect head and neck and, if attacked, fight back with whatever is at hand (without turning your back)—people have utilized rocks, jackets, garden tools, tree branches, and even bare hands to turn away cougars.

Hike with a good walking stick; this can be useful in warding off a lion.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Sorry, this thing has nothing to do with trail running. But I found it so hilarious that could not help not posting it here :)

Monday, June 09, 2008

SD100: my recap from a race I never ran

Pacing Kirk at SD100 this weekend was one of the most memorable moments in my running career. Well, I did not run all of the 50 miles I was initially supposed to. I joined Kirk at the Aid Station (AS) at mile 50 and DNFed with him at the very next AS at mile 56. It took us 1 hour 55 minutes to cover those 6 miles. We mostly walked it and ran just a bit through some flat sections as Kirk was not feeling good.

This was well after the sunset. The trail was going through canyons. We heard a bunch of coyotes and saw one of those looking at us from the curb ahead of us. We saw a couple of kangaroo rats or some other long-tail rodents. We saw a stripped skunk who was running on the trail 5 steps ahead of us for probably 3 minutes before he decided to turn left and give us the way. The trail was well marked with green glowing sticks we could see on the dark mountain slopes well ahead of us. The moon was too young to outshine any of the bright stars that were covering the sky above us. It was one of the most breathtaking pictures I have every seen in my life. Totally magical! I can see it in front of me right now whenever I close my eyes. I wish I could describe what it all looked like but I am no artist.

When we reached AS at the mile 56 Kirk sat down on a chair and, well, I would say collapsed for the lack of a better term. He was just sitting there trembling with his head bent down to his knees. I put on an additional sweat shirt on him, and volunteers wrapped him up in two blankets, helped him to get into a trailer and gave him some hot coffee. None of it really helped. He could not hold a half-full cup not spilling it up all over. Gabor was sitting in front of us in the same trailer. He had had a lot of doubts about whether he should have continued back then at mile 50. He tried and had to DNF at the same AS as us. Gabor told us that when someone gets exhausted like this, body fails to regulate its temperature anymore (is this what they call hypothermia?) and the only way out is to put that person in a car and max out the heater. We did exactly that and it eventually helped.

Well, DNF's are a part of ultra-running. They do not happen only to those that do not run at all. The course was challenging. Everyone seemed suffering a lot. Out of 81 starters only 43 runners managed to finish the race, while 38 had to DNF: 47% DNF rate! It is not Barkley's rate, but is still pretty remarkable considering the fact most of the participants are seasoned ultra-runners!

I met a bunch of people there starting from Lorraine Gersitz, whom I had a pleasure to share the ride to San Diego with, Charlie, who was feeling pretty good and looked fresh probably because he DNSed SD100 this year, Chris, whom I had run with at PCT50 until she lost me having got sick of my running crappiness, Paul Schmidt, who is an amazing ultra-runner with about 100 of hundred milers under his belt and a terrific RD as well, Andy and Catra, who seemed totally relaxed at mile-50 AS as if they were running a local 10K fun race, Vinnie, who was determined to the end and finished the race no matter what, George, whom I could barely recognize as he ran there alone without Leigh this time. There were a bunch of folks whom I unfortunately missed there like Greg, Marisa, Robert and a few others. Congratulations to all participants both to those who victoriously finished this brutal thing, and to those who wisely DNFed it to run another day!

Several photos I made at the mile-42 AS:


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Snakes in Modjeska Canyon

This was taken in the burn area in Modjeska Canyon - one reason to stay off closed trails:

Both of these photos were posted by Greg on SCTH website this morning.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Caspers run with Kirk and Mike

We ran 14 miles at Caspers today with Kirk and Mike K. One of my goals for the run was to discuss with Kirk our “strategery” for San Diego 100, where I will pace him for the second half of the race.

We started off on East Ridge trail, turned onto Oso trail, then turned right and ran to the Hot Springs. We ran back to the fork along Ortega highway, where we finally got back onto San Juan Creek trail.

East Ridge: Mike is jumping like a five-year-old anticipating a sighting of a mountain lion. The idea kinda grew on him. He got obsessed with “how cool it would be if we saw a mountain lion from a distance!”

Oso trail: we passed a beehive – luckily empty as it turned out Kirk is allergic to bees. After 2 hours of intense negotiations Kirk promises Mike to become more responsible and carry on his long runs and races some remedy (Benadryl?) just in case he gets stung by a bee.

Hot Springs trail: The trail got largely overgrown since I saw it last time a year ago with Linda and Andy. Mike K admits he is scared to continue as he is afraid of ticks “like a calf”. Never heard calf being that afraid of ticks but Mike knows better. Kirk is afraid of ticks too. Mike and Kirk are running behind me, whining and cursing me constantly for leading them to this overgrown trail. I am getting a strange feeling I am running with two road runners that never left the streets of Manhattan before. In 5 minutes it got worse: Kirk and Mike evidently decided to kill me and are negotiating who gets what after my death.

Mike and Kirk are checking each other out for the ticks. Each of them found two ticks on each other. They remove ticks so quickly I did not have a chance to see them – not sure they are not just full of it. I did not find any ticks on me. I hear Mike’s scream behind. We run back to him. He found a tiny green caterpillar on his shoulder. Mike calls it a “worm” and kicks the poor thing out before I can get a camera to take a picture. Hard to believe these guys belong to a trail running club. I guess they never left track before and trail running never went beyond a loop in the Central Park for them.

Mike and Kirk are showing off legs to each other discussing the rash each one got while running this trail.

Hot Springs: The water is hot but if you sniff your hand after you put it in the water, it is pretty stinky. Kirk suggests Mike should have used wipes during his quick #2 stop earlier at East Ridge.

Ortega highway: Kirk and Mike refuse to run back same way we came to the Hot Springs. Well, and me too... They cannot stand ticks and rashes. I cannot stand two big dudes whining about ticks and rashes. We dive under the gate near the Hot Springs. Mike gets stuck – I guess it would have helped if he took of his camel back before he got under it.

Shoulders do not exist on some sections of Ortega highway. We are scaring cars and bikers. I guess we have a higher chance to be hit by a car there than getting a lime disease from a tick on those trails. Kirk and Mike lay on the highway for fun. Mike is trying to cuddle with Kirk. Kirk does not seem to be hugely excited about it.

San Juan Creek trail: Mike is trying to bore us down with different pacer-runner scenarios to get Kirk and I prepared for San Diego. He goes through different what-if scenarios that might potentially require a runner to take care of his pacer. What if Dmitri breaks his leg? What if Dmitri runs out of water? What if Dmitri runs out of fuel? What if Dmitri breaks his neck? At this point I draw my knife I carry for the sake of eventual mountain lions and annoying running buddies. To our relief Mike changes the subject right after that.

We ran 14 miles at a very relaxed pace. The weather was fabulous: neither hot nor cold. I had a 20oz hand bottle and two more 20oz bottle in my backpack - 60oz all together – and a bunch of gels too. I carried it all with me on the run but did not drink a drop of water and did not eat my gels either – just for the sake of experiment. I could feel some energy drop by the very end of our run, but it was not very significant. I felt all right. I will try to do something like that in a warmer weather one day just to see how my body handles that.

More pictures from our run:

Caspers June 1, 2008