Monday, March 21, 2016

Come to the 420 Games in Santa Monica on 3/26! (Free 4.2 mile race, 50% off the party)

Will you be near Santa Monica, CA, this weekend? If so, I would like to cordially invite you to join me, Eaze, and a few hundred runners at the 420 Games, a 4.2 mile fun run near the Santa Monica Pier to raise awareness and break the stigma around cannabis use. The race is Saturday morning, and is followed by a Lagunitas Brewery beer tasting, a comedy show, and a reggae concert by Pato Banton, so even if you don't "toke the funny", you can come out and hang with some cool people in the sunshine. Just use this link to get a free ticket and 50% off the party festivities, thanks to Eaze.

As a trail runner who works in the cannabis industry, I have often wondered how the two worlds might join hands. At a spiritual level, it feels like they have a lot in common, and chemically the runner's high is quite similar to THC. I guess it was either a fun run like this or the marijuana equivalent of the "beer mile", which would likely have a finish rate equivalent of the Barkley Marathons. So the fun run it is!

Since I have already received a number of emails, I'm going to present some Frequently Asked Questions below for your enjoyment (all actual questions asked):


Is it true that all bib numbers will be #420? 

Yes, everyone gets the same garage-wall-worthy #420 on their race bib. I mean, honestly...don't you want to say you were part of the movement back in the day?

What is the term "420" all about, anyway?

The term "420" is thought to have come from San Rafael, CA, in the early 70's where the police code 420 meant "marijuana smoking in progress". It soon spread through the music community to refer to cannabis-related activities ("this concert is 420-friendly"), and in a classic entrepreneurial move, April 20th (4/20) was dubbed the unofficial American cannabis holiday. In the cannabis industry, 4/20 has a massive sales spike similar to Christmas for most retailers.

Will marijuana edibles be served at the aid stations?

Um, yeah...that's a big NO. But I bet the aid stations are extra stocked with lots of Oreos and M&M's.

Is this a WADA-enforced event, and will there be blood testing for doping at the finish line?

No, this isn't a WADA-enforced event, but yes, we will blood test to see who has the highest (ha, ha) THC content at the finish line. Anyone over 150 ng/ml gets a special trucker hat. Just kidding, of course. No, the point of this event is to have fun and show that not all cannabis supporters are lazy stoners that sit on the couch. Although I will be doing some of that after the party, most likely.

Will Avery Collins be there? Will you and Avery run 30 miles to the start of the race?

Yes, Avery Collins, the first marijuana-sponsored professional ultra marathoner, will be there. He had a great interview on UltraRunnerPodcast last month, btw. We have no plans to turn this into the first 420 ultra...not this time anyway!

What is the grand prize for winning...a three foot joint? 

Eaze will be giving away a $500 Eaze gift certificate to the male and female winners (that's a lot of green!), which should be enough to roll a five foot joint if you so desire. You would need some mad rolling skills though.

Are costumes allowed? Will you be wearing one?

Absolutely. ;-)

Does Eaze deliver in the Santa Monica area?

Yes, Eaze can connect you with our favorite dispensaries in the area so you can get quality medical marijuana in less than 20 minutes. Click here to get $20 off your first three orders.

Will there be good looking single young men and women there? athletic event for cannabis-friendly people held on a beach in sunny LA, followed by tasty beer, comedy, and a free concert. Yeah, probably no eligible young people there at all.

Do I need a valid California Medical Marijuana Recommendation from a doctor to be in the race?

No, all are welcome to walk, run, or just come hang out. For those who don't know, the Recommendation is the document required to purchase medical marijuana in California. Here's something interesting - below is a picture of a doctor's recommendation for alcohol in 1929, when the US was deep in prohibition. A fascinating parallel, no?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Saw Some Whistle Punks Out On The Trail Today (BayTrailrunners Whistle Punk Half, March '16)

The BayTrailrunners Whistle Punk Half Trail Half Marathon was en route when I ran through Purisima Creek Open Space Preserve this morning. Looked like a perfect day!

Pics to share...

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Good Times at the Marin Ultra Challenge 50k, Lance Armstrong's First Ultra

Arriving at Rodeo Beach for the sold out Marin Ultra Challenge 50k on Saturday felt like entering the eye of a storm. For five days now, Mother Nature has pounded the rugged hills of the Marin Headlands, soaking the trails, wind-whipping branches to the ground, and rolling boulders into the Pacific with glorious patience. Enough so that Race Director Tim Stahler and the team from Inside Trail Racing (ITR) had to shuffle the start to find enough dry ground to hold the fifth version of their epic 25k/50k/50-mile event. Yet as the minutes approached the 6am start, it was eerily calm beneath the ominous dark grey clouds. She was saving something good for the race itself, I suspect.

 Personally I love it when the weather gets a little crazy in the Marin Headlands. Nothing gets your adrenaline going like zero visibility on a muddy trail with steep drops on both sides, particularly while the crashing waves rattle your eardrums. One can also expect plenty of wicked fast locals to help, on the trail racing with you, and braving any weather conditions required while manning the aid stations. I was feeling healthy, the volunteers had my back, and the new course promised a one-of-a-kind adventure. The epic stage was set!

(Lance is stoked and ready for his first ultra, photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)
 I was also excited for my friend, Lance Armstrong, who was here to run his first ultramarathon. Although the world knows him as one of the greatest endurance athletes of all time, and he is no stranger to trail running or road marathons, the unique challenge of a first hilly 50k is guaranteed deep spelunking in the pain cave. And Lance loooves to dig deep! He was ready to roll, and was going to go out fast, hills be damned. I hoped he would find his limit, then jump up and down on it until he could kick it down the trail. This was going to be good.

(Shaking hands with the man, RD Tim Stahler, photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)

(And we're off! Photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)
 We had just a few minutes to chat before Tim sent ~320 runners off into the dark (190 in the 50k, 130 in the 50m). It was great to see so many locals out today – Mark Tanaka, 50k course record holder Ryan Neely (here today for the 50m), Sarah Lavender Smith, Ron Guttierez, Michael Jimenez, Bree Lambert, Ezra Becker, Alex Ho – and even some not-so-locals like 2016 USATF 100-mile Champion Paul Terranova, Ironman Van McCarty from San Luis Obispo, Oregon’s Tyler Stewart, and Jamie Aarons from Great Britain. We chatted our way up Mitchell Road (mile 2) with just enough sun to get by without lights.

(The gorgeous Headlands, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)
 I paced along with Sean Handel from Moss Beach, one of my favorite ultradads on the circuit, complimenting him on his frequent night runs up Montara Mountain. Like many passionate runners juggling parenthood and start up careers, Strava is the lens we view most into each other’s lives, so we could now skip the “how’s the training going” questions and get onto the meaty “how’s life” stuff. He was here for fun today, but knowing Sean and the power of his smile when he’s healthy, that was likely a Top 10 finish. We powered through the first loop (mile 5) and dropped our last layers before heading back up.

(Lance goes for round 2 on Hill 88, photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)
 Lance came into view on the second climb, but was moving fast enough I would have to go anaerobic to catch him so I hung back. I thought about the typical 1,500 thumbs up he gets on Strava for doing a 10-miler in pancake flat Austin, TX, and wondered how many thousands he would get for this beast (turns out, about 4,100). How fascinating that must be! As I entered Tennessee Valley (mile 10), I was in the wake of awestruck Lance fans, as well as die-hard trail runners telling me YOU BETTER CATCH HIM. Lance is here to compete, not just run, and the energy level was elevated across the board.
(Coming out of Pirate's Cove with Andrew, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)
 The plunge down to Pirates Cove was slick and slotted, making for some tricky footing and slow downhills for me. Luckily I had Mill Valley local Andrew Lie as my tour guide, and he picked the perfect line so we didn’t spend too much extra effort slipping around. By Muir Beach (mile 14), we had caught up to Lance and a fast-moving Ryan Woodhouse, and soon wished our best to the 50-milers heading out towards the Dipsea Trail while we climbed again.

(50-milers got a taste of the big trees, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)
 The Miwok Trail was a muck-filled creek, and we splashed our way through 6” of water and fallen trees, crawling up trails that were indistinguishable from the creeks beside them. Now THIS is a trail run! I felt like an idiot for hopping over so many puddles earlier in the race, for now we were soaked. Ryan found a fast gear, so I stayed with him up the climb and back down to Muir Beach (mile 21) just as we caught Lance one more time.

(There's a trail in there somewhere, right? Photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)

 The fourth climb was a beast called the Green Gulch Trail, one I had never seen before (although it could be I had run it in the fog at some point). Lance was definitely slowing now, but was hanging tough with Ryan and me up the 15%+ grades. As the peak came in sight waaaay up the hill, Lance took that fateful first walking step and gave me a slap on the ass as I went by. That would be the last I would see of him until the finish.

(Up in the clouds, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)
 Ryan blazed across the Miwok Trail, taking some impressive calculated risks in the slick mud. My old brain had different math (I swear my formerly broken collarbone pulses ghost pains every time I refactor) so I bid farewell and enjoyed a few licks from passing dogs. Gary Gellin (sick today, so he couldn’t race) and Chris DeNucci (fresh off a killer result at Way Too Cool) sent me up at Tennessee Valley (mile 26) and pointed me to a few slowing runners on Marincello, the “decider” climb for the day. Who saved enough in their tank to run the whole way?

(Having fun! Photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)
 Apparently I did, and I picked up three spots on the climb, but was unable to catch Ryan who had found yet another gear. Just when I was ready to chest thump, the purple streak of David Roche came flying by leading the 25k. Wait…didn’t he just WIN the Way Too Cool 50k on Saturday in 3:19?!? Yes, but there was $1,000 on the line for the 25k thanks to the La Sportiva Cup, and you could see the fire in David’s eyes. In a flash, he was gone on what was easily a course record pace.

(David Roche sets a mean pace in the 25k, photo courtesy of Let's Wander Photography)
 As I hit the peak of the last climb (mile 28), my ITR teammates Daniel Metzger and Craig Schmidt flew by like two Spitfire planes in hot pursuit, and I got to watch them soar down the hill with their long strides. So cool! I leaned into the hill and kept the pace around 6 minute/mile, and soon crossed the finish in 4:09:58, good enough for 5th place. Hey, not bad!

 Alex Ho had won in 4:01:37, with Skip Crockett (4:03), Van McCarty (4:04), and Ryan Woodhouse (4:05) in the first group. Sean Handel (4:15) came in behind me for 6th, smiling as big as he had at the start, and Emily Peterson (4:23) came in later to win the Women’s division. (all results) David Roche had set a CR for the 25k (1:33), with Daniel Metzger (1:34) and Craig Schmidt (1:35) keeping him honest, while Santa Barbara’s Daniella Moreno (1:46) and Bellingham, WA’s Maria Dalzot (1:48) duked it out for the Women. Ryan Neely (6:39) would go on to set a new CR in the 50-mile, with Nicole Kalogeropoulos (8:16) winning the Women's division.

(Lance takes a moment with a future Billy Yang, photo courtesy of Liz Kreutz)

 Just as we were all speculating where Lance might come in, he rolled in as the clock hit 4:19:46 for 12th place. 4:19?!? Who does that in their first hilly trail ultra? Seriously impressive. Lance was gracious enough to give a local 8th grader a video interview, complete with post-race shaking legs, before taking a seat and massaging the quads that had given up an hour ago. With the wind picking up, we all had to hustle to our cars for warmth.

 My mud-caked body shook dirt piles on the floor of the bar as I shared post-race brews with Lance, his friend Mark Higgins (who had an impressive 25k debut in 2:39), and photographer Liz Kreutz who got some amazing shots while braving the weather. Although Lance swore there was no reason to run farther than 50k ever again, it didn’t take long for him to compare Strava records and pick out where he could improve “next time” (downhill training, pacing, food/water, etc.). If he follows the pattern that we all do, he will pick his next ultra before he can even get normal shoes on or walk down stairs without the hand rail. Funny how that pain cave calls you back before you can even get out.

(Great MUC swag, and 2nd AG!)
 My thanks to the Stahler’s, the great volunteers, my ITR teammates, and fellow runners for getting out there and making a great day happen! My soul feels full once again. And a big congrats to Lance on completing that first ultra. As Tim and ITR reminded us, you are welcome back anytime!

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