Friday, November 9, 2012

October Recap


      Looks like the entire month of October blew by like the leaves on the trees. Saw a lot of beauty and really enjoyed the time spent during the month. Started out the month with my girlfriend visiting and running some of my favorite places. The color change was in full effect making each run very scenic.

      Middle of the month gave way to my first 100km race. The Top of Michigan is a point to point from Gaylord to Mackinaw City by the bridge.  After convincing several friends it was more of group training run. Mark, Melissa, Ken, Kurt, Andrew S, Andrew H and me were all part of small group working together throughout the run. The beginning were we much tighter together as we eclipsed the 50km the group began to form smaller groups. The course is a converted rail to trail that is very flat and wide enough to pass with no issues.  The colors on the trees were changing giving a lot of moments for picturing taking. The constant rain and cool temps provided the challenge to the ultra. At one point the rain to a light sleet which lasted only for a few minutes. I was able to make it to the finish just before darkness closing out the run with a personal best of 12:46:59.

       Then it was a short tour of the city by pacing the 4 hour 40 minute runners in the Detroit Marathon. This was my third time pacing at the marathon and by far my biggest group of runners. At the start I had about 17  people all eager to join me for the tour of Detroit. The weather was ideal with warm temps and clear skies. This was the best weather I have ever experienced in any marathon!!Around the half I still had 90% of them in viewing distance. By the end there was five of us. Three of us crossed the line together and two were just a few minutes behind.  Two runners pushed ahead around mile 23 and finished ahead of the group. Focusing on the two I had and wanting them to finish I held back on pace and finished 4:40:42.

      Finally, it was time for one last race of the season. Headed out to Arizona for Javelina Jundred. Covered 78 miles in 13:45:24. Placing 34th in the 100km. Another great October run with beautiful weather of clear skies and at night a full moon. The course is 15.5 miles and is ran washing machine style six times (essentientally back and forth) then the last loop is cut short for ten miles giving the course 102 miles of joy. My crew/pacer was key in my first four loops being so successful. Erin had bottles, food and ice ready each time I came through the start/finish. Her smile was contagious and towards the end of each loop I was always looking forward to it.  During the loop there were four aid stations. As the temperature neared the 90's I would have a volunteer spray me down with cold water. With the pumpkin pie, cytomax, ice water and excitement of friends I sailed through the daytime. Heading out for the fifth loop Erin joined me. The average was 3 hours 10 minutes per loop on the previous loops; this loop took just over seven hours. About two miles in my Achilles were tightening up and gradually over the next few miles the tightness worked it's way up into my hip flexors. I was reduced to a slow and extremely painful walk. Physically I knew after several miles I was not going to finish the 100 mile option and end up taking the 100 km belt buckle option. At one period I was given some bio-freeze and Tylenol to cover up the pain, but that only minimized it a little. Once the loop was over we checked me in to the medical tent to evaluate my condition. The medical staff determined that my achilles were so tight that they were on the edge of detaching part of my bone off the heel. Knowing I want to run again I went over and climbed into a sleeping bag calling it a night.

     Overall, running three races of those sizes in three weeks straight taught me my body needs more recovery time. Even the week after Javelina I am still having some discomfort in my heels.Covering over 166 miles of racing I saw a lot of beauty and really enjoyed the time spent with my close friends. Going into 2013 I will still be running and spending even more time with them.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Time for recess at the Twin Peaks playground


Time for recess!!

     As I have said many times before the Twin Peaks area of Corona, California is my favorite place to run. It offers some incredible views, diverse terrain and some ridicously long hard climbs over miles and miles. Knowing it was going to be a hot day I packed 300 ounces of frozen water into my backpack and hiked it up the first seven miles to create a water drop for Erin Chavin and me. This would allow us to refill and continue up the remaining four miles to Santiago Peak. Once at Santiago we would be able to make it back down to the water drop to refill again before decending the original 11 miles to the start.

My two new friends I met on the way up Indian Truck Trail


     The climb from the start was filled with splendid views and every mile up the road changed constantly. Sometimes it would be a pine needle forest, other times just bare exposed & hot then other times it would open up showing the surrounding peaks.
To the right is a photo I captured of the Indian Truck Trail that we followed up to the Upper Holy Jim singletrack.  The same route that is used for the beginning of the Twin Peaks 50++ Mile Race in October.

   Once refilled we worked our way up the last bit of road section to the singletrack climb.  This area is a non-stop switchback climb giving us view after view of the peaks. The sun was heating up the day, but there was some shady spots that shielded us from the heat. This was not nearly as bad as the heat from my previous California runs, but still hotter than an average run in Michigan.

Erin pausing for a photo with Santiago Peak in the background
   Reaching Santiago Peak was the highlight of the climb. Last time I was at the top of this peak was in the race last year. A race volunteer noticed I had a camera and offered to take a picture of me. It is the photo I currently use as my Google profile picture. At the time I didn't notice but I was showing exhaustion which is displayed nicely in the photo. So Erin took some pictures of me today with a smile on my face. The entire climb up I was smiling much more than in the race partly because the run was much shorter with only one big climb versus the four climbs totaling 17,500+ in elevation gain on the race course.
Erin on the climb up the Upper Holy Jim Trail

Now it was time for the 11 mile downhill run. Feeling full of excitment it was time to charge down the course.  The first few miles Erin and I exchanged the lead manuevering the rocky road section to the Upper Holy Jim. Erin made a quick stop and moved on to the trailhead. Arriving just a moment before her I looked back to catch a quick glimpse as she lost her footing and hit the ground with a scream. Concerned I headed over to check on her. Her hand was took the blunt of the fall so we washed it up and tied a bandana on it to keep it clean on the way back down.  Once we got back to the water drop we stopped to refill the bottles and clean up her hand.  It was a good thing we packed all that water and used about 2/3's of it.  With just seven miles left we made a final charge down the course in the time of an hour flat.  Quickly we got our gear back in the car and headed home as the moon was starting to reveal the night. 

A few more pictures from the adventure.....

Thursday, September 20, 2012

California or was it the Sun?

     Over the past few days I headed out to California to spend some quality time on the trails with my girlfriend and friends.  Erin was celebrating her 10 year anniversary of living in CA. The plan was to run the entire Backbone trail which is a point to point run in the Santa Monica Mountains.

     Flying in Friday evening I saw a forest fire as the plane touched down. Erin informed me that that was close but not on the trail we were going to run on Saturday. A forest fire is never a good thing because it can get out of control quickly.

     Saturday morning we headed to Point Mugu to start the 68 mile run at 5:00 am. The stars were bright and nice 70F air temp. The forecast was 95F and we wanted to get some mileage knocked out before the heat started to take its toll on us. The first portion of the day felt good then as we hit open exposed areas I felt the heat quickly increase. Flashbacks of the AC100 ran through my mind. Sporting two handheld bottles I was armed with 32 ounces between water stops. Knowing I average 16 ounces every hour I needed to control my consumption to make some sections.

Working the trail in darkness from Point Mugu
The view supplied my headlamp in the first miles
     The biggest challenge of the day for me was a 18 mile stretch with no water stops. I tried to hold back on drinking but the temperature was rising. With 10 miles to go in section I was down around 12 ounces. I started to worry that I was going into a really bad place. Four miles later my bottles were empty. Kate Jobe was able to flag down some mountain bikers and score me about 20 ounces of water. Sadly, two miles later I was out again. Erin, Kate and I gathered at a road crossing. Erin arrived a few minutes before the two of us and had a few cold bottles of water. While she was there a gentleman showed up and after talking to her went & got some water for us. Then we all began searching nearby homes for water. Luckily, we found a homeowner that helped us out. We refilled all our bottles, got some ice, and some citrus fruit. The woman was so helpful without her we might not have made another step.

Finally after making it to mile 27 our first real aid station I was spent. Sitting there I drank 96 ounces of coke, cytomax and water. Miles had passed since I stopped sweating and peeing. Hoping to replenish all my lost fluids so that I could make a comeback and finish the run became my only goal.
After leaving the aid station it was 12 miles to the next aid station. I planned a bit better and added a third bottle to pack to make the distance. A few miles passed and I started to feel strong again. I had finally reached my comeback and pressing forward with a smile once again.

     When we arrived at mile 38 it became official that our run was over. A suspected arsonist had started a forest fire in the later portion of our run. So making it to 50 miles was a possibility but there was a stronger possibility that our aid station wouldn't be there. Not needing to add more danager to the day we all bowed out. No one wanted to do this but safety was the main concern.

We will all return in the spring to repeat the journey but the next time will be the entire 68 miles.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Leading the way through the night

Saturday September 8, 2012 just a few minutes past midnight in the middle of a huge rainstorm I await for the arrival of two friends. Todd & Emily Bello who are in the midst of the Hallucination 100 Mile race. Not only were they running this one they had recently completed three other 100 Mile races in the Midwest Slam.

I met them back in April 2010 at the Pittsburgh Marathon. All three of us were there to pace the marathon. A conversation started up about ultras and I steered them into signing up for their first 100 mile race. That June they toed the line for the Mohican 100 Mile in Ohio. As promised my friend Keith & I showed up to pace them the last half of the race. It was a great adventure and the four of us crossed the line holding hands.

Well they asked if we would help again this summer. With conflicting race schedules it turned up we would be able to pace them at the final race of the series. Keith was coming off and injury so we decided to split the pacing up. I would start at midnight and pace 34 miles. Then about eight in the morning Keith would pace them the final 17 miles. This would make it possible for me to get to work on time too.

Waiting at Hell Creek Ranch to pick them up at mile 50 in the race I sat and chatted with Emily's dad. He briefed me that the rainstorm had slowed them down a bit and they were looking forward to meeting with me for the night. Around two in the morning they arrived with smiles & hugs. Filled with excitement I was ready to lead on through the night. Another friend of ours Kai, who was running the 100 mile too, joined us for the first 17 miles. I took the lead and off into the cold rainstorm we went. The temp was in low 50's and rain fell constantly making the trail a small river at times. Other times it was a nasty muddy mess that would try to suck the shoes off your feet.

As a pacer I try my best to ensure I do all the problem solving without them knowing a problem might occur. Keeping them in positive spirits is the main goal. Three issues came up and without them knowing it all three were resolved. Only after the race did they learn about them. The first was that Emily was getting cold so I gave her my arm sleeves to fight the chill. Quickly after giving them to her I realized I was getting cold. Knowing that I only had to run a small portion of what they were doing I pushed on without hesitation. Second issue came towards the end of the loop when I kicked something hard that knocked me to the ground. A bit shaken I said, "all good let's move on." It felt like I had broken two toes. Not wanting to bother them I just kept running. The final issue was that we were slightly behind schedule and I needed to get to work. So I arranged it that I would continue to mile 71 then head out. Then Keith would join up early at mile 75. This way they only had 4 miles to travel alone. Sure enough it worked out and Keith arrived 15 minutes before them at the aid station.

In the end, I was able to spend about seven hours in the middle of night running through a cold rainy storm on trails with my friends. I am sure they would do it for me if I asked them. They told me that in 2013 they have something big planned and wanted to know if I would pace. Let's just say I have that date booked for them and will be ready for another adventure!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Closing up Camp

Mom & dad,

Thanks for sending to camp again for the third year in a row. It wasn't my strongest year but I did set a PB in the final camp race. Cleared 50 miles in 9:49:46.03.

Meet a few new campers that will carry over until the return of next year's camp. In addition, strengthen my relationships with some campers from the past.

I should be home in a few short days and looking forward to some wonderful fall runs.

Well keeping it short for now. See you soon.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer Camp #12

Mom & dad,

Hanging out on the Backbone Trail

 Well the final week of camp was amazing!! It was suppose to be a low mileage taper going into the big camp race off this Saturday.  There looks to be a big turn-out in the race. The weather updated to some possible rain and temps near 80F. What can you say when you run for hours and hours the weather will always change by the time you finish. So I will make the most of it.

     Sunday kicked of the week with some backbone trail running. Will Rogers to the hub (16 miles round trip). Tiffany held back a bit because she was running Twin Peaks later in the day. Here we are at the hub.

     Monday headed to Malibu to watch the sunset with The One. Ran Point Mugu up as the sun set then then down in total darkness (6 miles round trip). The weather was ideal on the run up and the stars were incredible on the return down. The best two trails in California are the Ray Miller out and the Ray Miller back.

Sunset on the Ray Miller

       Tuesday went bigger and tougher on part of AC 100 course.
We went from Chantry Flats up to Mt. Wilson (14 miles round trip).  I was told there would be ice cream at the top. upon arriving at the top we noticed they were closed for the day. The run back down was quick and exciting!

     Later got to watch some baseball. Which was a tough game for the home team. We still enjoyed the time there.

Post run fun at Dodger Stadium. Giants won the game but still had a great time!
       Wednesday was a free day from running. So we hit the beach. Water was a bit cold with some small waves on the ocean. There was some volleyball going down with the campers. We didn't have a lot of time so we watched for a bit. Then tThursday headed to the valley for a short four mile run with 20+ other campers. The fog was intense throughout the run. Would have taken a photo but there wouldn't have been anything to see.

     Back in my cabin gathering up my race gear for the race tomorrow. The President, Majic, Milkman, Green Hornet and Tumbleweed can't make it, but all ran it in the past. They have some ambitious expectations for me. Going to do my best and try to hold back on the speed on the first loop of 25 miles.
Really want to run a strong race. Well I should be able to be tracked on the North Country 50 mile site.

Take care and love you

Ray Miller looking back at the Pacfic Ocean

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Summer Camp #11

Mom & dad,

Camp has been a bit quiet after the time trial over the weekend. Some great weather for the 5k and 50k races. I volunteered for both as next weekend will be my time for fun.  This camp has been getting me ready for the summer end run!

Lots of returning campers and even got to meet several new campers. Looking forward to closing out another summer with the anticipation of returning next summer for even more fun!!

I got a surprise trip to California 18-23rd. So there several nice mountain runs planned. Running with the gorilla, she is tough and goes hard for the wins, and some coyotes too. Just an amazing week it will be.

Off to do some chores. Hopefully, not washing any more dishes. That chore sucks!!


Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Camp #10

Mom & dad,

Well camp is coming to a close in two weeks. I learned a lot about myself again this summer. There weren't a lot of woo hoo moments, but I still enjoyed the adventure. Learning from mistakes are always useful for future performance.

Saw some amazing things and met several amazing people. After camp I am sure I will be seeing some of the others campers outside of camp.

This week was a good mixture of speed, tempo and weights. Body is feeling good on daily basis. This weekend will be the final time trial for the cabins. In addition, back to back mid distance runs. Each one will be around 15-25 miles.

Then the taper will gradually build for the final camp race on August 25th. A good ole 50 mile trail run. Looking to set a new personal best.


PS I included some pictures. The first one was a post run against a horse then chores.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Summer Camp #9

Mom & dad,
      Another week and more miles. Feet healed up but look rather rough. Give them a few more days and they will be sandal approved. Still got out for some more running.

    Friday night there was an all boy run "caveman." It was a great time!!  The run got tricky once the sun went down and no one had a light/headlamp.  After the run we were treated to some red meat that was truly cooked through with some killer sides.

     Coach had me back in the gym lifting weights and then put me through a wicked tough track session. Felt good that I made it through both sessions in one piece.

    The upcoming weekend will be the final time trial of the season. No one was broke 19:00 on the course. I think with this being the final there will be some serious sprinting through the woods. Hopefully, I am not banned again from this event.

   I met another camper that is going to work with me on some long distance runs. Looking forward to some time on New trails that are beautifully challenging. I enclosed one of the pictures from the trails.


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer Camp #7 & #8

Mom & dad,

The last week was crazy and I didn't get a letter out, sorry. The previous week was a bit hectic getting ready for the AC Camp weekend in California. The President & Green Hornet made the trip too. One day was spent checking out the area. It is sooooo beautiful!!

Well the group run on Saturday didn't go so good. The heat was around 95-98F throughout the day. The elevation didn't seem tough, but my heart rate was out of control. Then on top of that I started blistering at 20+ miles. As I walked my last section of the run I ended up dropping halfway through the group run. In short, yea I was crushed. A lot of campers told me that it happens. Well that doesn't make it any better. I know I have the ability to buckle again and I WILL.

So with a few more weeks of camp left I need to get my head in the game and produce. Speed work and two a days will be more of focus.

This week was just normal downtime camp activities: campfire roasting, finger painting, and other things.

Well of to hang out with some campers for the weekend. I will update you next week to how the speed feels.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Summer Camp #6

Mom & dad,

Another week has gone by and it was a tough week for sure. Coach sent Luda and me to the Sleeping Bear Dunes N.P. for some serious training. Luda has a race this week and next weekend I head west to run with the President & Green Hornet. The park offered a diverse selection of terrain. We climbed sand dunes, ran the beach, hit the pine needle covered trails and a bit of paved sections. It appears that neither of us can read a map because we spent a lot of time time. After camp I think I will come back for one more visit.

Wednesday a few of us had to meet with the counselors about having alcohol. So Thursday I was sent cross camp to get some supplies as punishment. It was a round trip of  50 miles and took me nine hours. I would say I learned my lesson.

This weekend we are holding another time trial as the cabins race off. Since the few of us are still on punishment we will volunteering at the event.

Got a new shirt this week since it has been so hot lately. The least amount of fabric the better.

Outside of that there was not a lot of activities that took place. It is amazing at how fast this summer is moving. Well I will continue to make the most of camp and enjoy the time remaining.


PS send me some blister salve for my feet, some sweet cherries and bit-o-honey candy.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Summer Camp #5

Mom & dad,

Not too much happening this week at camp. The temp has been the biggest challenge. Everyday was triple digits with high humidity.  Most of the runs have resulted in some weight loss because of sweating. So been drinking a lot more and fueling throughout the day so that I can maintain my weight.

Ran with Attorney general, Luda and the Milkman this week. This weekend we have a big group run without the counselors. Probably some sort of mayhem, lol.

I hear the dinner bell I need to head to the meal hall.  See you in a few more weeks. Thanks for sending me to camp again. I get so much from it every year.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Where's Steve??

Where am I at for my 2012 "The goals?"

1. Six Ultra Races
Moab Red Hot 55K, Fools Trail 50K, Winona Lake 30M, Tie Dye 50K and Wild West 50K. 5 in total. Four more races scheduled before year end.

2. Mile in under 4:50
Havent tested my mile yet

3. Set two new PRs
Winona 30M set a PR
Leap Year 4M set a PR

4. Pace/crew in two events
Plan to pace at the Hallucination 100 in Sept

5. Volunteer at one event
Co-directed the RUT CC Meet in June
Additional Meet planned for July 15

On to the second half of the year now to complete them all.