Motivation

Sitting here writing is a poor substitute for running. A very poor substitute. But it’s dark out, I’ve run twice in the last three weeks, and I’d hate to be sore from a run tonight for my more ambitious trail run tomorrow.

Wait, that sounds familiar.

I didn’t run on the 31st because January 1 would be the perfect day to head to the mountains for a good run and solid vert. I woke up at 9am on the 1st and sat around in bed for a few hours until it was late enough that I no longer had time to drive to the trailhead, run, and get back in time to watch the Rose Bowl, which I told myself I couldn’t watch delayed (probably more as an excuse to delay running than anything). The thought of instead just heading out for a short run from home bored me. January 2 was booked solid and I knew I couldn’t run, but hey, Friday the 3rd would be another superb day with beautiful weather. Well I woke up at noon, leaving me 4 hours before sunset to get out for a run. I didn’t.

Rewind. I spent 10 days in Carlsbad, CA, for Christmas and brought along my running gear and the promise of summer-like running, reading to enjoy the sun on my bare skin and sweat dripping from my face. I ran once for 4 miles.

In September and October I spent so much time coaching the high school cross country team that my own running, though nearly daily, suffered a lack of any trail running and very low total mileage, vertical gain, and intensity, instead just jogging a few miles at most around the high school while the kids worked out. That was totally worth it. The happiness I got from coaching was unparalleled, and taking an off-season of that sort from my own training would only help make me stronger and healthier. I emerged from the season motivated to get back into it as winter approached.

Instead I see my training log showing 29 miles in November and 36 miles in December. Sure, there are 4 trail runs in there, but nothing like the at least weekly trail running I was doing last winter and foresaw for myself this winter. Why haven’t I been running. I don’t know.

It seems that every night I go to bed with dreams of adventure, only to wake with apathy and lethargy. As time passes and the sun sets I lose the opportunity to achieve my ambitious goals and instead of then getting out and moving my legs for even 15 or 20 minutes around town, I stay put.

I know that hope isn’t lost. Last Autumn as I recovered from injury, I ran with similar frequency and was able to turn that into a few months of my best running every come February through May. What I do know is that the fitness I’ve lost over the last 4 months will mean that if I do finally manage to get myself off of my ass and out the door, running will not be as easy and carefree as I know it should be. I’ll be slow, I’ll be sore, and I won’t be able to do the things I want to do. I also risk injury with too quick and foolish a return.

Here I sit tonight and, as usual, I see tomorrow as a great opportunity. I hear the trail up Mount Si is clear and glorious. I want to do that. I promise myself I’ll do that tomorrow, but I’ve learned in recent weeks that that’s a promise all to easy to break. No matter what, I HAVE to run tomorrow, even for 2 miles from my door. This is unacceptable. The thing of it is that I haven’t lost my love of running. Every run I’ve done recently has been great, and the trail runs especially have filled my with so much joy. So why the hell can’t I get out the door? I don’t know but this has to change.

As busy as I was with classes the last few months, I couldn’t wait for winter break to come so that I could get to the mountains a few times a week. I blew that and wasted the opportunity. I start up with classes again on Monday, but I need to make sure that at least every other weekend I get out on the trails, and at least twice during the week I run a couple miles on my way home. I’ve failed motivating myself, so if you’ve read to here, please help me do this. I know I’ll be happier when I’m running regularly again. If you’re in the area, come and join me for a run some time! Fast or slow, I don’t care, as long as we can be out moving through the world on our own two feet, life will be good.

I remind myself today of the etymology of this ‘blog’s name and have to ask myself sincerely: why not?

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2013 White River 50-Mile

Up from the depths of the “better late than never” abyss, I present my long ago promised race report from the White River 50-mile Endurance Run. Sure it was four months ago, but the memories are as fresh now as ever. The long weekend started with some time away from work and a family excursion to a cabin in the woods. I was so fortunate to have my parents and grandmother with me as race crew and general support. One highlight was definitely our Friday afternoon trip on the gondola to the summit of Crystal Mountain before packet pick-up. Gorgeous.

Runner and crew on Crystal Mountain.

Runner and crew on Crystal Mountain.

Playing around on a bit of trail at Crystal's summit.

Playing around on a bit of trail at Crystal’s summit.

That night it was time to finish off my prep: get clothes in order, drop bags prepared, and crew briefed on expected arrival times and desired gear/food. Follow that up with dinner, a soak in the hot tub, and an early night’s sleep. Perfect.

Drop bags prepped for three aid stations without crew access.

Drop bags prepped for three aid stations without crew access.

Bib #1, ready to get after it!

Bib #1, ready to get after it!

Race morning went off without a hitch. 4:45 wake up, relaxing breakfast, nice early arrival to the start, and perfect weather for the gun. Wait, there was no gun. I mean race director Scott saying “go.” Despite the largest field in the event’s history, over 350 starters, you’ve got to love the old-school, laid back vibe Scott McCoubrey and all the other organizers have continued to foster over the years.

And they're off!

And they’re off!

The first little loop around the air strip was comfortable. Although it was certainly frustrating getting stuck walking in a bottle-necked conga line just a mile into the race, I knew I’d be happy later that I’d held back in the early going.

Approaching Camp Sheppard aid station, mile 3.4.

Approaching Camp Sheppard aid station, mile 3.4.

After Camp Sheppard, the larger of the two main climbs of the day started. Despite objectively being in worse shape than at the race last year, I’d done much more vertical and significantly improved my climbing and power-hiking throughout the winter and spring in the Issaquah Alps, and the climb up from the valley felt far easier than before. Just one foot in front of the other, always moving forward. It’s easy to keep pushing when you have such amazing views awaiting you.

Nearing the Corral Pass aid station, mile 17. This photo by Glenn Tachiyama was from last year's race (I haven't purchased the distribution right's for this year's pics, but trust me, it was just as stunning).

Nearing the Corral Pass aid station, mile 17. This photo by Glenn Tachiyama was from last year’s race (I haven’t purchased the distribution right’s for this year’s pics, but trust me, it was just as stunning).

There were minutes at a time that I lost all sensation of effort and exhaustion and simply lost myself in the expansive, unadulterated views from my ribbon of singletrack along meadowed ridges. It was glorious. Even as I descended back into the forest, I was completely and thoroughly happy with no qualifications of any kind. When you’re out doing what you love in the beauty of nature with the only evidence of man the 12 inches of dirt beneath your feet, how could you feel anything else?

I finally dropped back into the valley and approached the start/finish area, the Buck Creek aid station. There I got to see my family for the first time in over 4 hours, eat anything and everything I wanted, sunscreen up for the upcoming exposure, and change my shoes to a more plush ride with the more technical descending behind me.

Using the last of my water to cool off, rolling into Buck Creek aid station, mile 27.2.

Using the last of my water to cool off, rolling into Buck Creek aid station, mile 27.2.

Help from the crew.

Help from the crew.

Gorging on the smorgasbord.

Gorging on the smorgasbord.

After leaving Buck Creek I began the climb up the east side of the valley. I knew what was coming, but that trail will still work you. It was hot. Much of the trail was harshly exposed to the midday sun. Stretches were dusty enough to feel the grit in your teeth. As the heat beat down and fatigue mounted, my stomach started to turn. It didn’t turn like it has in the past; no nausea or gas or cramps. Rather, I just completely lost any semblance of an appetite. I’d been struggling getting my calories in all day, far below my 300 calories/hour goal, but now it had dropped to darn near zero. I forced a bit of watermelon and a gel down at the mile 32 aid station, but I just wasn’t wanting to eat.

I was still running great, trucking up the climb at a good consistent clip of mixed run/hike, and I was gliding along the beautiful ridgeline. I finally hit the Sun Top aid station, mile 37, feeling great. From there to the finish last year was a formality, and this year I hit Sun Top 13 minutes ahead of last year’s pace and feeling much better with none of last year’s knee pain. The 6.4 miles from Sun Top descend 3150′ down a nice gravel road. You can fly here.

I didn’t.

Pretty much right after leaving the aid station I started to absolutely crash. Hours of calorie deficit caught up with me. It was my first true and proper “bonk” since my first marathon back in 2007. It was bad. Going down a nice non-graded gravel road where I’d clicked off 7-minute miles on my recce training run, I was jogging. Then walking. Then jogging a little bit, and walking a lot more after that. I even took a couple of stand-there-and-catch-my-breath breaks at the side of the road. I finally hit the bottom of the hill and pulled myself along the long, straight, agonizing mile to the Skookum Flats aid station.

Trying to stay positive on the approach to Skookum Flats aid station, mile 43.4.

Trying to stay positive on the approach to Skookum Flats aid station, mile 43.4.

I was able to see my family for the first time in nearly 4 hours here, and they were certainly pained to see my complete lack of energy. My joints and muscles were fine but I just had no mental energy to keep going. I stayed there at Skookum Flats for 12 minutes as my family forced me to eat, if only a little bit. Oranges, Coke, whatever else I didn’t protest too heartily. Eventually I rolled out for the final 6.6 mile stretch to the finish. After leaving Sun Top 13 minutes ahead of last year’s pace, I left Skookum Flats on 6.4 miles later a full 17 minutes behind, losing about 5 minutes per mile on a stretch that I didn’t exactly crush last year either.

Slightly refreshed and ready to tackle the last 6.6.

Slightly refreshed and ready to tackle the last 6.6.

The final stretch along the Skookum trail is gorgeous. It’s the most technical stretch as you root-hop along the banks of the aptly-named White River. I was still struggling and taking my time, but I made myself enjoy it. I don’t know if it was just the adrenaline of the finish, but over the last mile or so I started to get energized again. Time to roll. When I left the forest and hit the gravel road on the last quarter mile to the finish, I was thrilled. This was arguably the biggest mental hurdle I’ve overcome in a race, and I was so happy to have survived it and come out the other side.

I couldn’t have done it without the support of my amazing family, all the volunteers out there, and the fantastic race organizers. Two years, two wonderful events.

Finishing after a wonderful day and a trying final few hours.

Finishing after a wonderful day and a trying final few hours.

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White River 50 Training Update (and 2013 first half review)

(If you want to skip all the training talk, just read the last paragraph. Boy am I excited!)

Today marks the end of a big training weekend and my last major effort before July 27′s White River 50. This morning I joined a crew of well over 20 other runners to preview the second loop of the WR50 course, a 22.8-mile route with over 4000′ of elevation gain, some hot dusty trails, and more stunning views than I can count. I felt quite sluggish and actually ran a few segments slower than in 2012′s race, but considering my Saturday (5.2-mile fairly quick morning run followed immediately by a 12 mile hike on the PCT to Kendall’s Katwalk) and all that that took out of my legs (hiking really does work your body differently than running and I’m not used to it), I’ll take it…somewhat.

I’m not sandbagging when I say that I’m worried. This has been among my favorite six months of running ever (more on that below in my 2013-so-far review), and I’ve done more technical trails and more vertical than ever. However, I’m worried that my fundamental engine isn’t what it was last year. Entering last year’s WR50 I’d done very little specific training, but I had well over 12 months of solid, consistent training over 100 miles every month and occasionally over 200, my longest months ever, with lots of faster road running with the Stanford Running Club. Despite record vertical month-in-and-month-out, last month, June, was my first over 100 since last July. Over a six month span from early August to early February, I ran a TOTAL of 300 miles, struggling for many months with injury and subsequent lack of fitness. My training from February on has been very fun and enjoyable, my main goal over that time, but it’s also been very slow. Spending so many hours on Cableline, Chirico, Si, Mailbox, Rattlesnake, etc. means that I’m doing most of my miles at 12-20 minute/mile pace, and when I do get a chance to cruise on the roads, I find myself really pushing hard to hit 7:30/mile, a pace that just a year ago was my comfortable, go-to junk mile pace. All that said, barring injury, I’m confident that I’ll complete White River this year, and that I’ll probably feel better through the middle miles than last year. However, I doubt I’ll finish with as much energy, and I’m not so sure I can improve my time despite thinking over that past year, “if my knees didn’t hurt I could’ve taken at least 30 minutes off.”

Hopefully I’m unknowing sandbagging and on race day I’ll come out and kill it with a 9:30 or something, but my running’s been about enjoyment not “training” all year and I’ll deal with however that manifests in my first race in six months. Enough whining, on to the positive!

2013 so far has been fantastic. Since January’s Bridle Trails 50k, when I went into a dark place emotionally, I readjusted my priorities and my outlook and started just getting out and enjoying running for its own sake. What did this mean? TRAILS! Technical trails, snowy trails, steep trails, long trails, and many many new trails. Despite a January still plagued by injury with only 44 miles and 2400 vertical feet, I ended up by June’s end with a half-year tally of 433 miles and 89,500 vertical feet. That mileage comes nowhere close to first-half-2012′s 800 miles, but the vert is insane, averaging over 200 feet/mile including ALL runs, not just trail runs. Trails runs total 249 miles with 82,000 vertical feet, 330 feet/mile, up AND down! Yeah this isn’t humble-bragging, it’s just bragging, but it’s truly because I’ve enjoyed it so much. Like I said, I’ve gotten slower and slower, but getting out on these steep techy trails has been so much fun and has reinvigorated my love of running.

I’ve explored Tiger for the first time ever (beyond the hugely popular T3 route that MIXC does), finding some of my favorite trails around. My six repeats on the Chirico Trail set a new personal record for vert in a day, racking up 10,300′ over 21 miles. My descents of Cableline allowed me to really hone my ability and mostly improve my confidence and recklessness descending steep technical trails, improving my PR from 28 minutes the first time to a near-suicidal 16:40. I explored the winding rolling trails of the eastern flanks, seen bear tracks in virgin snow, slip-slided down Poo-Top in the snow, and tagged four peaks for the first time.

I ran Mt. Si for the first time…and second and third in a relaxed double. I “ran” Mailbox Peak, which quickly and unquestionably surpased Cableline as the most challenging trail I’ve ever run. 4000′ in 2.5 miles and high technical, so much so that my descent, which I thought felt pretty darn fast and impressive, ended up averaging something like 18 minutes/mile…for the descent! Beautiful views greeted me atop both. Oh, and of course there was my Stanford to the Sea run; I literally almost forgot to mention that! You can read all about that here.

Now as I look forward to the rest of the year ahead, I’ve got three weeks to White River. I’m sure I’ll be happy to run it, but at this point I’m regretting my return to racing. Stanford to the Sea was a major interruption to my mountain adventures for a couple weeks on either end, and White River certainly means no more challenging trails for the next three weeks. Unless I REALLY enjoy the race and that whole atmosphere, I foresee myself returning to an indefinite racing hiatus. I’m hoping that August can be a month unlike any other. I’ve been exploring the trails of the I-90 corridor (Cougar, Squak, Tiger, Rattlesnake, Si, and Mailbox; still never been up Teneriffe). All I want to do right now is get into the Cascades and enjoy some trails through passes and lakes and cirques and glaciers and with no views of towns and cities anywhere. The PCT; The Alipine Lakes Wilderness, The Enchantments, The Wonderland: all await me with their rugged wildness. I got a taste yesterday on the PCT and I cannot wait to answer the call!

Summit of West Tiger #1, February

Summit of West Tiger #1, February

Summit of East Tiger, Early March

Summit of East Tiger, Early March

Bear tracks near Middle Tiger, late March. My footprint's there for scale and there were NO other prints around.

Bear tracks near Middle Tiger, late March. My footprint’s there for scale and there were NO other prints around.

Descending the Chirico Trail during the Chirico Tenpeat (I did six repeats).

Descending the Chirico Trail during the Chirico Tenpeat (I did six repeats). Photo from UphillRunning.com

Descending the Chirico Trail during the Chirico Tenpeat again, a little later this time.

Descending the Chirico Trail during the Chirico Tenpeat again, a little later this time. Photo by Jerry Gamez.

Second summit of Si on the day.

Second summit of Si on the day.

View from Rattlesnake Mountain's upper ledge during my misty, previously-torrentially-rainy double-traverse.

View from Rattlesnake Mountain’s upper ledge during my misty, previously-torrentially-rainy double-traverse.

Summit of Mailbox Peak for the first time.

Summit of Mailbox Peak for the first time.

The namesake mailbox on a gorgeous day.

The namesake mailbox on a gorgeous day.

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Stanford to the Sea

Take 2. I just got three long paragraphs into my run report and hadn’t even delivered my drop bags yet. Wow, nobody’s going to read that tome. If anybody actually wants to know about the details in planning or the struggles and triumphs experienced at every mile along the route, talk to me! Instead, I’ll rely mainly on the photos I took before, during, and after the run and their captions, with a bit of text sprinkled throughout, especially as photos became more and more sparse through the later miles.

My friend Ben has had this idea for years: travel from Stanford across the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific, as much on trails as possible, linking together the region’s parks, and all in one day. Well it finally happened, and when I heard about it five weeks out, I just had to book my flights immediately and get down and join him. Ben, David, Matt, Tommy, and I gave ourselves a goal time of 15 hours to cover an estimated 45 miles. I was confident I could handle that, but was a bit nervous about us as a group trying to maintain a single pace and stay together. I knew that the other four are all stronger, fitter, and faster than I, but none had experience beyond the marathon and none but Ben had even put in long hours on their feet in recent months or practiced eating and drinking on the run (or practiced going slowly!). This would be a great test for them of the power of talent, base fitness, and group support, and a great test for me of my experience and training. Enough introduction. Enjoy the story as it unfolds below!

Everything all laid out in advance. Everything for the start on the left, drop bag for mile 16 in the middle, change of clothes/shoes and drop bag for Tom to bring at mile 25.

You know it’s going to be a great adventure when your alarm wakes you up at 1:55 in the morning. Er, night. Whatever.

Excited to get started  at 2am!

Ben grabbing some breakfast at 2am.

Our starting point, "The Claw," a fountain in the middle of campus and the regular meeting point for the Stanford Running Club.

Our starting point, “The Claw,” a fountain in the middle of campus and the regular meeting point for the Stanford Running Club.

As we waited at The Claw for Tommy to arrive, we were greeted by a very suspicious cop, seeing four guys dressed in silly clothes loitering in the center of campus at 3am Saturday night. He asked what we were doing, Ben said “going on an adventure run.” Unsure what that meant, and assuming it involved trespassing and/or disturbing the peace, he probed, “what kind of adventure run?” “We’re running to the ocean,” I said. “How far is that?” “About 45 miles.” “Oh, so you’re actually running to the ocean?” “Yeah!” Actually a very friendly guy, and a runner himself. He wished us luck and that was that.

Ready to roll!

Ready to roll!

Hey lock, we're actually getting started a few minutes early!

Hey look, we’re actually getting started a few minutes early!

Quickly superseding the conversation with the cop as a great moment, one minute into the run we passed in front of Sigma Chi. Of course two bros are out front having a loud 3am conversation about how they’re going to pay the stripper…and then heckling us. We sure enjoyed that!

Quickly topping off water at mile 6, the corner of Alpine and Portola.

Quickly topping off water at mile 6, the corner of Alpine and Portola.

Matt powering up Alpine in the dark. Despite the elevation gain, we cranked through those nine miles of pavement in about 90 minutes, including water and bathroom stops.

Matt powering up Alpine in the dark. Despite the elevation gain, we cranked through those nine miles of pavement in about 90 minutes, including water and bathroom stops.

A surprise barricade on the Alpine Trail. I will neither confirm nor deny here in public that we climbed over the barricade and carried on.

A surprise barricade on the Alpine Trail. I will neither confirm nor deny here in public that we climbed over the barricade and carried on.

Finally into the Mid-Peninsula Open Space network, my old stomping grounds.

Finally into the Mid-Peninsula Open Space network, my old stomping grounds.

Ben climbing the signpost at "his favorite intersection in the world," Alpine and Page Mill. Roughly 12 miles and 1500' in and dawn just creeping over the horizon.

Ben climbing the signpost at “his favorite intersection in the world,” Alpine and Page Mill. Roughly 12 miles and 1500′ in and dawn just creeping over the horizon.

Sunrise in Monte Bello, a park that perfectly epitomizes Bay Area trail running with ribbons of buffed single-track winding along grass hills.

Sunrise in Monte Bello, a park that perfectly epitomizes Bay Area trail running with ribbons of buffed single-track winding along grass hills.

The gang (Tommy with camera) at Sunrise.

The gang (Tommy with camera) at Sunrise.

Running into the sunrise through Monte Bello. This is one of my favorite pictures ever!

Running into the sunrise through Monte Bello. This is one of my favorite pictures ever!

David crossing Skyline Boulevard as we exit Monte Bello and enter Skyline Ridge Open Space.

David crossing Skyline Boulevard as we exit Monte Bello and enter Skyline Ridge Open Space.

Enjoying a nice fog hanging over Horseshoe Lake around 6 or 6:30.

Enjoying a nice fog hanging over Horseshoe Lake around 6 or 6:30.

Climbing a hill as the Sun finally hits us. Another one of my favorite pictures ever!

Climbing a hill as the Sun finally hits us. Another one of my favorite pictures ever!

Digging into the box we'd dropped at mile 16 on Saturday. Food and water refills aplenty!

Digging into the box we’d dropped at mile 16 on Saturday. Food and water refills aplenty!

TIME TO SLOW DOWN. Sure it's a speed limit sign, and sure it was at mile 16 not 15, but that's close enough for me and I'll take that advice!

TIME TO SLOW DOWN. Sure it’s a speed limit sign, and sure it was at mile 16 not 15, but that’s close enough for me and I’ll take that advice!

Windy and cool at our mile 16 drop. I'm glad I decided to bring along my Buff as I started to chill quite a bit. I'm definitely accustomed to being in and out of a stop in a minute or two, because time not moving is time not moving, but the other guys were enjoying the break and we ended up at our drop for 16 minutes.

Windy and cool at our mile 16 drop. I’m glad I decided to bring along my Buff as I started to chill quite a bit. I’m definitely accustomed to being in and out of a stop in a minute or two, because time not moving is time not moving, but the other guys were enjoying the break and we ended up at our drop for 16 minutes.

Matt hiking up one of the steeper climbs of the route, in Long Ridge Open Space, one of the most brutal stretches of the Horseshoe Lake 50k I ran in 2012.

Matt hiking up one of the steeper climbs of the route, in Long Ridge Open Space, one of the most brutal stretches of the Horseshoe Lake 50k I ran in 2012.

We're going that-a-way! ...beautiful.

We’re going that-a-way! …beautiful.

Enjoying the view from Long Ridge.

Enjoying the view from Long Ridge.

Ben, seeing the miles all laid out ahead.

Ben, seeing the miles all laid out ahead.

Hiking as we check the map and make sure we hit the right turns on forest roads.

Hiking as we check the map and make sure we hit the right turns on forest roads.

Making the long, grueling descent into Portola Redwoods State Park.

Making the long, grueling descent into Portola Redwoods State Park.

Crossing Slate Creek, the only unbridged stream crossing of the day, and not a drop of water on us. That was a bit disappointing if you ask me.

Crossing Slate Creek, the only unbridged stream crossing of the day, and not a drop of water on us. That was a bit disappointing if you ask me.

Entering Portola Redwoods State Park Headquarters. We expected this to be about 23 miles based on some approximate mapping. With no better measurements to go by, we defaulted to my watch, placing headquarters at 25.5 miles.

Entering Portola Redwoods State Park Headquarters. We expected this to be about 23 miles based on some approximate mapping. With no better measurements to go by, we defaulted to my watch, placing headquarters at 25.5 miles.

Amazing friend Tom, up early on his Sunday to meet us at HQ with plenty of food and drink. It was such a thrill rounding the bend a few miles earlier and seeing Tom running towards us to then guide us into the park and to his car. We were right on schedule at about 5.5 hours...making it 25.5 miles before 8:30am!

Amazing friend Tom, up early on his Sunday to meet us at HQ with plenty of food and drink. It was such a thrill rounding the bend a few miles earlier and seeing Tom running towards us to then guide us into the park and to his car. We were right on schedule at about 5.5 hours…making it 25.5 miles before 8:30am!

I was definitely frustrated by some lollygagging at Tom’s car, a whopping 26 minutes of wasted time not covering ground, but we eventually got going again and took it easy with a big 2000′ climb to greet us as we left the park. From here on I was definitely taking fewer pictures as I wasn’t feeling quite so comfortable closing down the gaps that the other guys would put on me when I’d stop for shots.

Beginning to slow slog up and out of Portola Redwoods State Park.

Beginning the slow slog up and out of Portola Redwoods State Park.

Soaking in our first taste of hot sunshine at the top of China Grade after an hour of climbing, ready to descend down the other side into Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

Soaking in our first taste of hot sunshine at the top of China Grade after an hour of climbing, ready to descend down the other side into Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

We finally join the iconic Skyline to the Sea Trail. No more turns from here on, just 15-odd miles along the S2S.

We finally join the iconic Skyline to the Sea Trail. No more turns from here on, just 15-odd miles along the S2S.

And we definitely weren't getting lost. I was thrilled when I realized a couple weeks earlier that Coastal Trail Runs, Wendell's wonderful company and organizers of many of my favorite races, would be holding their Skyline to the Sea Marathon and 50k on the same day. The course was marked for us and we got a big lift from cheering on all the awesome runners passing us by, and the very few that we were able to pass.

And we definitely weren’t getting lost. I was thrilled when I realized a couple weeks earlier that Coastal Trail Runs, Wendell’s wonderful company and organizers of many of my favorite races, would be holding their Skyline to the Sea Marathon and 50k on the same day. The course was marked for us and we got a big lift from cheering on all the awesome runners passing us by, and the very few that we were able to pass.

Somewhere in the miles leading up to the Big Basin Headquarters, my feet started to hurt. Not blisters, not cramps, not fasciitis, but just aching soles. It felt like I’d been running on pavement in Fivefingers, that kind of hurt. I was worried it was my new Cascadia 8s, perhaps less cushioned than the Cascadia 7s that never gave me trouble. Only after the run did I realize the likely culprit: California trails! It hadn’t rained in ages, they don’t have thick leaf and needle coverage,¬† and the trails are all so well-buffed that this run was pretty much 50 miles on pavement. Wearing trail shoes or not, that’ll take a toll after a year of acclimating to the cushion of Washington’s soft single-track. Well, lesson learned. For terrain like that, I better start getting comfortable with long miles in my Hoka One Ones!

David enjoying his turkey sandwich at Big Basin Headquarters.

David enjoying his turkey sandwich at Big Basin Headquarters.

I'd had no appetite since pretty much mile 16 and had probably choked down only 700 calories in the preview 6 hours. Walking into the snack shop at Big Basin Headquarters, I saw a hummus wrap and it beckoned. Nothing but hummus in a tortilla, but boy was it exactly what I wanted, and I washed that down with a couple good pickles, refilled my water, and we were off. 23 minutes for the stop.

I’d had no appetite since pretty much mile 16 and had probably choked down only 700 calories in the previous 6 hours. Walking into the snack shop at Big Basin Headquarters, I saw a hummus wrap and it beckoned. Nothing but hummus in a tortilla, but boy was it exactly what I wanted, and I washed that down with a couple good pickles, refilled my water, and we were off. 23 minutes for the stop.

Berry Creek Falls. Just wonderful.

Berry Creek Falls. Just wonderful.

My feet were really killing me by this point. I couldn’t decide if running or walking was worse and all I wanted to do was sit down and kick my feet up, so I did. I had the guys give me two short breaks, but honestly those didn’t make any difference once I stood up again and it just slowed us all down. That’s when I decided we’d all be better off if I broke from the rest of them and built a bit of a gap. I had energy to burn and was otherwise feeling great. I ran ahead a ways and then sat and waited for them to catch up a few times.

Ben making his way down the Skyline to the Sea Trail, so close to his long-awaited goal!

Ben making his way down the Skyline to the Sea Trail, so close to his long-awaited goal!

With about 1.5 miles to go until the race’s finish line, I just took off running and didn’t stop, except to take the picture below. I knew I’d wait for the other guys and the finish line before heading to the beach, but all my feet wanted to do was get this run done!

Hey look! The ocean!

Hey look! The ocean!

Approaching the marathon/50k finish, we were greeted by some extra motivation.

Approaching the marathon/50k finish, we were greeted by some extra motivation.

...and some more.

…and some more.

...and a whole gauntlet of friends and family (of racers) cheering, ringing cowbells, offering high-fives, and admonishing me as I stopped to take pictures just seconds from the finish line. "I'm not racing, but thanks for the support!"

…and a whole gauntlet of friends and family (of racers) cheering, ringing cowbells, offering high-fives, and admonishing me as I stopped to take pictures just seconds from the finish line. “I’m not racing, but thanks for the support!”

...and more supporters!

…and more supporters!

...and the turn towards the finish line I didn't dare approach. Here I sat down for five or ten minutes and cheered on the finishers as I took the load off of my feet and waited for the other guys so we could cover the quarter mile or so to the beach together.

…and the turn towards the finish line I didn’t dare approach. Here I sat down for five or ten minutes and cheered on the finishers as I took the load off of my feet and waited for the other guys so we could cover the quarter mile or so to the beach together.

Despite being so close to the end, people were pooped and we hiked it all the way in from the finish area to the beach. Crossing Highway 1 was our last obstacle.

Despite being so close to the end, people were pooped and we hiked it all the way in from the finish area to the beach. Crossing Highway 1 was our last obstacle.

Action shot as I run through the sand towards the water!

Action shot as I run through the sand towards the water!

Running towards the Pacific, just seconds away!

Running towards the Pacific, just seconds away!

Done!

Done!

Enjoying icing our feet for a minute or two, before starting to absolutely freeze.

Icing our feet for a minute or two before starting to absolutely freeze.

Ben, conqueror of one of his greatest goals! Thanks so much for having this vision and making it happen, and inviting me along for the ride! This was a tremendous accomplishment you'll always remember.

Ben, conqueror of one of his greatest goals! Thanks so much for having this vision, making it happen, and inviting me along for the ride! This was a tremendous accomplishment you’ll always remember.

Enjoying the finish with Ben.

Enjoying the finish with Ben.

The Gang at the beach. We made it, all five of us, all together, and without real incident. Incredibly impressive performance by these other guys, accomplishing so nonchalantly such an impressive feat. Well done to all, and especially to Ben for putting this all together.

The Gang at the beach. We made it, all five of us, all together, and without real incident. Incredibly impressive performance by these other guys, accomplishing so nonchalantly such an impressive feat. Well done to all, and especially to Ben for putting this all together.

My GPS track of the run. 47.2 miles in 12:35:39 (including all stops).

My GPS track of the run. 47.2 miles in 12:35:39 (including all stops).

Altitude profile of the run based on my watch's barometric altimeter. 7200' gain.

Altitude profile of the run based on my watch’s barometric altimeter. 7200′ gain.

 

All cleaned up back at Ben's house, I figured it was as good a time as any to bust out one of my favorite and most prized shirts, the MIXC "Proud to be Awesome" shirt.

All cleaned up back at Ben’s house, I figured it was as good a time as any to bust out one of my favorite and most prized shirts, the MIXC “Proud to be Awesome” shirt.

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Introducing a New ‘blog and The “Why Not?” Runner

It’s a new kind of adventure in the digital world. After years of flooding facebook with the minutia of my running experiences, achievements, failures, and goals, I’ve decided to move my reports and updates to a forum of their own, free for all to see but not thrust upon the scores of facebookers who couldn’t care less about my last and greatest run.

A brief introduction to this ‘blog is in order. “Why not?” has been a mantra of mine for about seven years now, arising from running, that I endeavor to remember throughout my life. By nature I’m extremely risk-averse and locked in an ongoing struggle with my fear of failure and embarrassment. When a challenge or opportunity presents itself, I try to remember to ask myself “why not?” and, lacking a convincing response, plunge forward into the task at hand.

It was Spring of my junior year of high school on an uncomfortably hot Monday afternoon, a perfect day for the most challenging track workout of the season. 12 X 400m, hard. Well, 10 X 400m with a strongly-encouraged extra two. After clipping off eight decent laps, I started to struggle. I slowed on nine, and by the end of the tenth I was dizzy, lightheaded, and jello-legged. I proceeded straight through the line to the end of the track left my lunch for the crows. Lying down on the infield after ten, I worked to get my breath back under control and find the energy to continue, but it didn’t seem to be there. At that point my coach walked up and asked if I wanted to hop back out on the track for two more. I was hot and exhausted, but before I could think I heard two words slip past my lips that my reasonable mind wanted to quickly retrieve: “why not?” I was committed then. Up I rose, and out I went for lap 11. I started to feel better as I ran, a weight lifted from my shoulders (or literally weight lifted out of my stomach), and ended up with a time consistent with laps 1-8. I smiled, walked around, and attacked 12, dropping my fastest run of the day. That was it. “Why not?” The simple question serves as a rejection of all the silly excuses that we use to convince ourselves to take the easy path and pursue ultimately less rewarding results.

Here I am seven years later, and I’ll be the first to admit that I still struggle mightily with my over-cautious nature, but remembering the simple question is always a step in the right direction.

I’ve created this ‘blog and I’m writing this post as I sit in my friend Ben’s house in Menlo Park, CA, pursuing one of my greatest and most reckless adventures yet. It was about three weeks ago that Ben told me of his plans to run 45 miles from the Stanford campus, across the Santa Cruz Mountains, and to the Pacific Ocean. That day, with no planning or focused training, I bought my plane tickets and committed to joining him. The weekend is here and we run tomorrow. Of course I’m nervous, and I’m getting stressed with all the logistics of food and water drops along the course and scheduling friends to meet us along the way, but by overcoming the nerves and pushing through, I hope to find a rich reward and an unforgettable memory forged in this adventure. Five runners tackling 45 miles, dedicated to sticking together as a group, mostly self-supported, the majority with no running experience beyond a couple hours certainly makes for an interesting challenge, but with a slow, all-day mind-set and the support of each other, I hope that we can find our way to taste that ocean air at day’s end.

For now, I’m signing off,

Danny Naylor, The “Why Not?” Runner

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