Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Gift of Downtime

I’ve been on the couch nursing my right knee for a month now (stress fracture and tendonitis was the diagnosis, but neither are severe), and I must say, it has been surprisingly refreshing to take a break from training. I sure was a mess the first week – depressed, longing for the trails, wondering if I was ever going to run again – but once I broke from the pattern, I was able to fill my running time with a bunch of things that could help maintain my balance and sense of adventure. Who knew it could be so much fun to NOT run?

I didn’t realize how addicting running can be until I was forced to take a break. It really is like trying to quit smoking or crack! Well, maybe not crack, but it's up there. My legs didn’t get the memo from the doc about a “mandatory month of rest”, and they would start shaking and twitching around 6am every morning, ready for that daily run. When they didn’t get their fix, they sent a message right to my brain – get depressed, angry, or something, but get back in the running groove! Finally Christi set me straight, and said I had to change my daily routine so I wasn’t “missing” my workouts. Much to my surprise, I found great satisfaction in doing housework, spending long chunks of time with Sophie, slow swimming, and reconnecting with Debby Weil who is recovering from her cycling accident.

One of the first things I wanted to do was give Christi, my wife, a break every day that I could. She has been great about giving me the time to train in the mornings and weekends, and I wanted to return the favor even if she doesn’t obsess about exercising like me. I made sure I was the first up in the mornings, feeding Sophie breakfast (or “breckee” as we call it), washing dishes, cleaning up, etc. Christi spent the time sleeping in, working out, or reading a magazine that had been gathering dust for months. On the occasional weeknight, I took Sophie out on “dinner dates with Daddy” to give Christi some time to catch up with friends. Turns out it is quite a work out! I certainly have a new appreciation for the sacrifice Christi and Sophie make just so I can get my daily run fix.

(Sophie and Daddy at a wedding in Colorado)

I have spent a lot more time with Sophie in the last month, and it has been wonderful to experience our bond grow. She’s almost one year old, and changing every week (not walking yet, but darn close). It was nice to have her for big blocks of time, and be able to hit the zoo, walks in the park, going to weddings, try out new words, etc., instead of constantly wondering how I could fit her in or around my workout schedule. No surprise, I have more photos on HER blog these days. ;-) If you’re a running blogger with an entry in the last month, Sophie has probably heard your adventure read out loud (that means you, Vermont 100 winner AJW, Olga the 12-hour dominator, Peter Lubbers the Ultrarunner.net leader, Jean Pommier touring France, Mark Tanaka chasing ghosts, Rick Gaston mastering the Headlands Hundred, and many more!). It’s been great to live vicariously through you all, and Sophie hangs on your every word.

Christi was quick to point out that I might enjoy some light swimming, if anything just to get my heart rate up for a few minutes. I joined the gang at Ladera Oaks during the noon hour, plodding along in the slow lane and doing lots of pool running. Turns out that pool running can be quite a workout for the heart and muscles, without the strain on your bones and joints. Water aerobics is not for wimps! Christi was right – my mood improved, even with 1-2 pool sessions per week.

I also made a pact with myself to make time to meet Debby Weil, the cyclist who had been in an accident on Memorial Day weekend (read blog post here). We had exchanged voice mails since she got out of ICU in late June, but I never seemed to have the time to stop by and see her. Perhaps part of this was due to the fact that I knew she was still in bad shape – how could she not be? But wouldn’t I want visitors if I was strapped to the couch? Absolutely, so I called her up and scheduled some time. When she opened her door to welcome me into her home, I simply couldn’t believe it – she looked great! I had to apologize for staring, because I was having a hard time seeing “Debby from the accident” somewhere behind her glowing smile. Over the next few hours, she told me about the insane recovery (four weeks in ICU, more surgeries than I could count, 19 plates in her head and arms, taking 5 days to learn to swallow again, a new nose and chin, learning to grasp a cup all over again, etc.) and how she still has a ways to go. But to me, the fact that she could be alive with her sense of humor intact was nothing short of a miracle. I gave her some ultrarunner tips on how to stomach Ensure (blended with fruit and almond butter is best), and shared tidbits of the accident that she was curious about but thankfully doesn’t remember. She wanted me to pass on a thank you to all of you who wished her well and kept her in your thoughts and prayers. I was simply aglow when I returned to work. She is the closest thing to an angel I have ever experienced, and I’m hoping we can stay in touch.

The x-rays and bone scans are good and the docs have cleared me to run again (right after the mandatory speech about how people shouldn’t run that far, yada, yada). So I’m ramping up slowly, being careful to step cautiously and not hit the hills too hard. So far no pain but my stride is as awkward as a newborn giraffe. It’s good to connect with the trails again, but I’m setting my clock extra early so I can get back in time for breckee with Sophie and hopefully the snoring sound of my wife. This last Sunday, I took them both out on a date instead of worrying about the long run. I’m going to stick with the pool sessions to do my “speed work” – there is definitely a link to running stronger in there, but I need more experimentation. Looking forward to seeing you all again soon, refreshed and ready to run!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Brian Dayton and Bev Anderson-Abbs win 2007 USATF Championships

Brian Dayton successfully defended his USATF 50k trial at the Marin Headlands earlier today, clocking a 3:55:25 to win by over 7 minutes. Beverly Anderson-Abbs beat out a top-notch Women’s field to win in 4:42:32, her first 50k national title.

Brian had some early competition from Ed Baker, a 2:21 marathoner training for the Olympic Trails in NYC this year who had decided to run the Headlands 50k at the last minute. Ed hung onto Brian for 20 miles, then broke out in the lead for 8 miles (clocking a few 5:10 miles along the way) before “seeing stars” and having to slow down in the last few miles. Mark McManus (4:02:18) and North Carolina’s Jason Bryant (4:02:51) also caught Ed in the final mile before he finished in 4th with a debut 4:04:43. Brisbane, CA’s Cliff Lentz (4:15:17) took the Master’s title with his 6th place finish.

Bev Abbs, 43, held off 39-year-old Caren Spore (4:48:25) and phenom Devon Crosby-Helms (4:58:29) to claim her win, after taking the lead around mile 10. Her finish was good enough for 15th overall, and showed that the Master’s are often the ones to catch.

You can read a full story here at the Marin Independent Journal (thanks for the link, Kate!). Congrats to everyone who finished!


1. Bryan Dayton (34), Boulder Colo., 3:55:25
2. Mark McManus (33), Mill Valley, 4:02:18
3. Jason Bryant (35), Elkin, N.C., 4:02:51
4. Ed Baker (28), Palo Alto, 4:04:43
5. Peter Fain (35), Truckee, 4:08:13
6. Cliff Lentz (42), Brisbane, 4:15;17
7. Victor Ballesteros (37), San Rafael, 4:15:37
8. Chikira Omine (24), San Francisco, 4:16:50
9. Michael Buchanan (33), San Carlos, 4:17:16
10. Steve Stowers (42), Berkeley, 4:17:59
11. Jean Pommier (43), Cupertino, 4:23:43
12. Erik Skaden (35), Folsom, 4:32:51
13. Robert Evans (41), Pacifica, 4:38:19
14. Kevin Rumon (46), San Rafael, 4:38:52
15. Paul Cox (44), Davis, 4:43:11
16. Ron Gutierrez (40), San Francisco, 4:43:50
17. Mark Tanaka (39), Castro Valley, 4:49:50
18. Howard Troy (34), Walnut Creek, 4:57:55


1. Beverley Anderson-Abbs (43), Red Bluff, 4:42:32
2. Caren Spore (39), Davis, 4:48:25
3. Devon Crosby-Helms (24), San Francisco, 4:58:29
4. Julie Young (41), Auburn, 5:09:43
5. Florencia Gascon-Amyx (43), Mill Valley, 5:25:14
6. Nicole Duke (31), Aptos, 5:29:44
7. Robin Sanderson (36), Mill Valley, 5:35:41
8. Moriah Buckley (29), Novato, 5:42:58

Friday, August 24, 2007

Crosby-Helms and Dayton favored for USATF 50k Championships this weekend

A press release from RunnersWeb:

Athletics: Pacific Association Runners Will Contend For Titles At USA 50K Trail Championships

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. - August 22, 2007 - Top Pacific Association/USA Track & Field (PA/USATF) runners will vie for bragging rights at the 2007 USA 50 Kilometer Trail Championships on Sunday, Aug 26. The national USATF championship is hosted by the Golden Gate Headlands 50K for the fifth straight year. The event starts (7:00 a.m.) and finishes at Rodeo Beach in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area/Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Devon Crosby-Helms (San Francisco) is favored to grab the USATF national women's trail 50K (31 miles) title. On the men's side, defending national men's champion Bryan Dayton (Boulder, Colo.) will have a decided advantage over the rugged trails that compose the Golden Gate Headlands race course.

Crosby-Helms, 25, is one of the fastest rising stars in ultra distance running. She is preparing for the International Association of Ultrarunners (IAU) 100 Kilometer World Cup (September 8 in The Netherlands) as a member of the USA 100K world team. Last year, in her very first ultramarathon, she placed 7th at the USA 50K Trail Championship. Then, Crosby-Helms won the Jed Smith 50K in 3 hours and 32 minutes, posting one of the fastest 50K times for American women in the past 10 years.

Crosby-Helms also won this year's Napa Valley Marathon, the Quicksilver 50K, and she placed second in her 100K debut at the Mad City 100K USA National Championships.

"I've been running the trails [in the Marin Headlands] for quite a while in preparation for this race and the 100K World Cup," said Crosby-Helms who is a culinary arts student at Bauman College in Berkeley. "But I don't know how fresh I'll be. I have a culinary event where I'll be on my feet for two days right before the race."

Caren Spore (Davis, Calif.) could challenge Crosby-Helms if she falters. Spore placed third at this championship last year, nine minutes behind winner Kami Semick (Bend, Ore.) who finished in 4:25:15. Spore is the current women's Senior Open division (ages 30 to 39) leader on the 2007 PA/USATF Ultrarunning Grand Prix circuit.

Also, 43-year-old Beverley Anderson-Abbs (Red Bluff, Calif.) could place on the medals podium. Anderson-Abbs was the 2005 USA 50K Trail Championships runner-up, and was second female at the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run in 2006 and 2007. She won this year's Way Too Cool 50K, the Pony Express 50K, and the Mount Diablo 50 Mile races.

Among men, all contenders will be eyeing Dayton, 34, who was crowned last year's USA 50K trail champion with a winning time of 3:59:53. Plus, Dayton has finished in the top three in the USA 50K Trail Championships in three past years (2002, 2003, 2005). He knows every aspect of the championship trail course for which he is perfectly suited.

"Dayton is a fantastic runner who lives in the thin air of Colorado year-round," according to Race Director Guy Palmer. "He has phenomenal uphill, and particularly downhill, running abilities."

Fast downhill speed is an asset on the singularly beautiful, but exceptionally hilly, trail course said Palmer. There are seven major hills, with a cumulative climb of over 7,000 feet, on the route that runs through the coastal headlands of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Mount Tamalpais California State Park.

"When people think about the Headlands, they often picture the endless uphills," he said. "But that's only half the picture. Some of the downhill sections go on for about three miles. It takes tremendous conditioning to keep the legs turning over and striding out."

PA/USATF Ultrarunning Chair, Hollis Lenderking, agreed that Colorado's Dayton is the men's favorite.

"He's a speed merchant within the ultrarunning spectrum who can excel at 50K," Lenderking said. "On the other hand, California's ultrarunners tend to be stronger at longer ultra distances, 50 miles and up."

Among the Californians, Eric Skaden (Folsom, Calif.), who placed second at the 2006 and 2007 Western States 100 Mile, may challenge Dayton for the national title. Skaden also won this year's American River 50 Mile run. Other top Northern California/Pacific Association men's contenders include Jean Pommier (Cupertino), Chikara Omine (San Francisco), Mark Tanaka (Castro Valley), Michael Buchanan (San Carlos), and Bradley Niess (Oakland).

Mark McManus (Mill Valley) throws a wildcard into the men's field. Although his ultrarunning credentials are thin, the former NCAA Division II All-American for the University of California Davis trains on the flanks of Mount Tamalpais. Plus, McManus has registered the fastest times at the 7.1-mile Dipsea Race over Mount Tamalpais in 2006 and 2007.

The 2007 Golden Gate Headlands 50K also serves on the 17-event PA/USATF Ultrarunning Grand Prix circuit. The race is organized by the Tamalpa Runners. About 150 competitors will participate. A minimum of $3,500 in prize money will be awarded to top finishers.

"USATF applauds the Tamalpa Runners for stepping forward and organizing a race within a race by hosting the USA 50K Trail Championships," said Nancy Hobbs who chairs USATF's Mountain/Ultra/Trail (MUT) Sport Council. "This year the MUT Council is thrilled to support 10 national championships which provide USATF members with numerous opportunities to compete for national titles."

For additional information and historical facts about the USA 50K Trail Championships, visit www.usatf.org (select "Events/Calendars" and then "National Championships") or www.headlands50k.org.

The Pacific Association is the largest member association of USA Track & Field (USATF). We serve northern California and northwestern Nevada. USATF is the National Governing Body for track and field, long distance running, and race walking in the United States. For more information about the Pacific Association, visit our Web site at PAUSATF.org.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Arbohgast and Lantz take 2007 USATF 100k Trail titles at Where's Waldo 100k

The official results are in - Meghan Arbogast and Mark Lantz have won the USATF 100k Trail Championships at the Where's Waldo 100k near Oakridge, OR, this weekend. Meghan (who guest blogged about the WW100k here last year) won overall and claimed the Women's Master title, with Jeff Browning coming in 2nd overall (not a Masters), and Mark Lantz overcoming a 40-minute detour to come in 3rd overall and 1st Male Master.

Here's the Top 10 (more results at the WW100k site):

1 Arbogast, Meghan 46 F Corvallis, OR 10:48:48
2 Browning, Jeff 36 M Bend, OR 10:50:35
3 Lantz, Mark 42 M Folsom, CA 10:56:13
4 Anderson-Abbs, Beverley 43 F Red Bluff, CA 11:09:08
5 Weatherley-White, Matthew 43 M Boise, ID 11:09:13
6 Burke, Mike 56 M Beaverton, OR 11:11:51
7 Murray, Mark 44 M Sacramento, CA 11:15:46
8 Clifton, Eric 49 M Winchester, CA 11:54:31
9 Stevens, Michael 38 M Hailey, ID 12:00:52
10 Petrie, Ragan 41 F Atlanta, GA 12:13:19

Nice work, guys!

- SD

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Anita Ortiz jumps into ultras

43-year-old Anita Ortiz of Eagle, CO, is one of the best short course trail runners in the US. Since 2002, she has earned four U.S. mountain running titles and finished among the top 11 in the world three times (she's also headed back this year!). She also has won a master's mountain running world championship and collected several U.S. and North American snowshoe running titles.

(Anita Ortiz winning the 2003 Pike's Peak Ascent)

Brian Metzler of the Rocky Mountain News wrote a great article about how injury steered Anita into ultrarunning last year (2nd at the White River 50m), and now she's happier than ever! Thought you might enjoy how a mother of four makes time for world-class training.

- SD

PS - Recovery seems to be going well. Lots of time in the pool, lots of time with Sophie. Still don't have consensus on the injury, but everyone agrees to stop running for a while. ;-(

Friday, August 10, 2007

Turning Beer Into a Relay Event (New York Times)

An interesting article in the NY Times this week about endurance relay events like the Hood to Coast in Portland, OR (with over 12,000 runners), 24 Hours of Moab cycling race, etc.

(Endurance relay racers in Tuscon, photo courtesy of James Mandolini and the NY Times)

The opening paragraph says it all:
"WHEN Tara Ruotolo recruited far-flung pals and friends of friends to run the 197-mile Nike Hood to Coast relay race in northwest Oregon, she didn’t choose her partners in grime based on talent or tenacity alone. Her main criteria? Whether or not she wanted to spend an entire day huddled in a van with them, catching up on who’s dating whom and lending clean togs to forgetful teammates."
That and who hogs the pillow. ;-)


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Jasper Halekas featured on EndurancePlanet.com

Another great ultrarunner interview on EndurancePlanet.com this week, this time with newly-crowned 2007 USATF/RRCA 100-mile champion Jasper Halekas. Jasper talks about his breakthrough season this year, including how his mileage has built up from the original interview I did with him last year.

Congrats again, Jasper!

- SD

Monday, August 06, 2007

Looks like I'm DNS for the 12 Hours of Cool

I called up the doc last week to ask him about an odd pain that I haven't been able to shake since the TRT100. For some reason, about 5 miles into a run my knees start feeling a dull ache that can sometimes bring me to a standstill. Walking is fine, but running becomes unbearable. I haven't experienced anything like it, but then again, I haven't experienced anything quite like a 100 either. ;-) Was this just part of the normal 100-miler recovery?

(Me caning in at the TRT100 finish;
photo courtesy of Bernt Bratsberg from Norway who came to pace his wife, Sharon)

The doc asked a lot of specific questions about where the pain was, in what circumstances, what type, etc., and concluded it was the classic signs of "stress fracture in tibia" and "possible torn meniscus". Don't know what that means in terms of recovery until we get x-rays, but for now it means NO RUNNING. Crap!

The good news is that (1) it doesn't hurt unless I'm running, and (2) I'm still okay to swim and do light cycling. So I won't be going crazy. But unfortunately it means I'm out of the 12 Hours of Cool on Saturday.

Subsequent conversations with the doc revealed an interesting thing - the damage on the right knee is worse than the left knee. I asked why this was the case since I had injured my left leg at TRT100 - he then replied, "and then you hobbled on your right leg for over two hours, bearing all your weight". Oh, yeah. Oops. It gave me an interesting perspective on whether or not it is smart to drop in the latter part of a long race (per Lon Freeman) - I may have my finish buckle, but now have to scratch at least one other race this season.

All my best to those of you tackling 12 Hours of Cool this weekend. Have an extra Coke for me!

- SD