Friday, August 28, 2009

Search and Rescue

Last night I went for a six mile run on the trails that are basically a half mile from my house. I met my rogue trail running group there which consisted of two sets of couples and myself.

We set off together knowing that myself and another woman would be leading the pack (I was introducing them to my trails) and the second couple would be taking up the rear with my partner’s husband running in the middle.

We agreed upon a six mile run. Out three miles. Back three miles. Simple right? How can you get lost when you’re running back on the same course you ran out not to mention a course that parallels the local bike trail? Well, sometimes, getting lost is not the only thing that can happen on a trail run and it doesn’t have to be a trail up in Auburn for something out of the ordinary to happen.

Upon returning to our starting location, we noticed that my running partner’s husband, who was between us and the slow group went missing. He was with us at the turn around but he never appeared at the finish spot, a local park. We waited. And waited. Finally his wife and I decided to head back out onto the bike trail to see if we can see him thinking that perhaps he got lost. Nothing. Other local runners said they saw no one matching his description.

Of course he did not have his cell phone on him. Why would he? We didn’t have ours. Problem #1. Problem #2 is that his wife locked her purse with her cell phone in HIS trunk therefore if some how he did manage to reach a phone who would he call? He didn’t know me well enough to know my cell phone number (Problem #3) and of course I didn’t have my phone on me either (Problem #4 aka underestimating my own local trails).

It grew dark and fast and there were no sign of this man. Despite his great physical fitness, he also has a history of heart attacks which of course would frighten any wife who has witnessed him having one in the past.

I left my friends and raced home to get my road bike. I figured I could cover more mileage on the bike trail if I had my bike AND my cell phone. So off I went on my bike in pitch blackness up the bike trail for miles and miles going on a lead that some local runner had spotted our guy running in the wrong direction.

There was no sign of him. I finally ran into (actually had to chase/flag down) a female Park Ranger Truck I saw up on the levee. I told the ranger our situation and she took down my information and took off in her truck to cover the miles ahead of me that I had not covered yet. I turned around to report to the Wife that I had reached a Park Ranger. On my way back I ran into another Park Ranger who was out searching as well. I informed him of our meeting spot and that the missing person’s wife was there. Problem #5 is that I did not even know the last name of the man I was running with! I did know what he was wearing though.

I finally made it back to his wife and we sat and waited until the male Park Ranger returned. He said he wanted one person waiting at the park with a phone and he wanted another with him in the truck to show him the last spot we had seen our friend. Since I knew the area, that person was me. I handed my bike and phone to the Wife and hopped into the Park’s Off Road vehicle and onto the bike trail.

Now, for years Vans has given me grief about having too many “running gadgets.” My favorite running gadget however is my Garmin and boy did it come in handy last night. We were able to track our exact route including the turn-around spot via my Garmin! Score one for technology!

En route to the turn-around spot the Ranger and I talked over the radio with Park's dispatch headquarters and the City Police Department (who was en route to talk to Wife).

Luckily, before we had to search much further, dispatch notified us that the missing runner, our friend, had been found. He was back at the park with his Wife. A quick U turn was made on the bike trail and the Park Ranger drove me back to park to meet my missing friend.

As it turns out, my friend got a leg cramp on the return portion of the run. He climbed off the dirt trail and onto the bike path and then ultimately onto the surface streets and was hobbling back to the park. He had been hobbling for an hour and 45 minutes.

I learned many valuable lessons last night:
1. Carry my cell phone. Always. The Park Ranger actually told me that even if you are knocked unconscious, you can be found by tracking the satellite on your phone (very circa 24 like, go Jack Bauer);
2. Know the numbers (and last names) of those you are running with; and
3. I now have (Thanks Park Ranger Dude) the Park’s Emergency Headquarters number in my phone should future emergencies occur while running on the trails.

So my “easy” six mile trail run last night turned into a six mile run, with a few additional miles added on not to mention about an 8 mile speedy bike ride (w/o bike shoes) on and off the bike trail. I eventually make it home past 9 pm to find a very worried Vans waiting for me.

Lesson learned and noted.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Well I have not posted in a week or so and mainly it is because my time on the trails has shifted from twice a week to once a week albeit locally. Basically, nothing exciting enough happens to write about anymore. Boo.

My Summer 7 training program is over. Blood, Sweat and Beers has been run. Now some of the people who were part of Summer 7 have decided to be a rogue group of trail runners meeting every Thursday evening and the occasional Sunday when we can manage it. Unfortunately, Sundays have gone back to being Van’s workout days and I am resigned to trying to either fit in a late morning/early afternoon run AFTER his workout or run on Saturday morning.

Also this time of year I start to gear up for the California International Marathon (CIM). This is the only marathon I have ever run. I have run it 3 times and done the relay twice (once while pregnant with the Peanut). I love this marathon. It is local. It is fairly flat and most importantly, it encourages my friends to come out of their homes on a generally chilly (sometimes wet) Sunday morning to cheer on runners. Really, the draw for them is the local bar they hang out at and the greasy breakfast (including mimosas) they consume and not so much the runners but they come and they cheer and Jersey Girl usually makes a sign or at least pulls one out of reserve from past CIMs.

September is quickly approaching which means “marathon training” is underway. This time last year I was strictly following a plan and running it almost to the T because I was still nursing the Peanut and I wanted to make sure my body was probably rested, not stressed and was constantly hydrated. Fast forward to now and I am lucky to consume 16 ounces of water daily, sleep? What is that? As for the “plan” I am following the same plan as last year and may increase the speed a bit but that requires me to be out there running, on the road and unfortunately, I feel I have been slacking in that department lately.

To remedy this, I am planning a 10 miler this Saturday at an old location. One I have not visited in quite a few years. It used to be my regular running route on Sundays but since the birth of the Peanut I generally don’t stray far from the house. This Saturday will require me to get into my car and actually drive somewhere park, get out run and then come home to deal with whatever is going on at home which as of late has been a severe case of the “momma only” phase of a 16 month old.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Blood Sweat and Beers Trail Race

The name says it all although I never saw any blood (thank goodness), but boy did I sweat on Sunday! The beer? Well, that was for Vans to enjoy post race after having to corral the Peanut and her mom’s friends all over Auburn!

Vans started off the weekend with a cold so I decided that on Sunday morning I would drive to the race start alone and he and the Peanut could meet up with me post race. Letting both of them sleep in a little I think was the better plan because on race mornings, I am a bundle of energy and it is all I can do just to get myself fed, packed and out the door.

Also, I have been really enjoying my solo drive to Auburn each Sunday. I have a ritual that I do each and every time. I listen to a little of Pink’s Fun House on the way up while sipping a Cappuccino Soy Milk (the perfect combination of calories, fat and caffeine pre run) and finish with a little bit of the Black Eye Peas to get the energy flowing.

This Sunday I arrived earlier than normal to score a parking space in the Railhead Park parking lot so that when Vans and the Peanut arrived, the jogging stroller and other necessities were close by. Van scoffs at me for wanting to get to races early but I love the pre-race calmness of just watching people get ready at their cars while the officials finish setting up the race course. A lot of work goes into putting on a race and when you just show up run and go home you miss out on all the hard work that people have done for you. Blood, Sweat and Beers was put together by Fleet Feet and they used Capital Road Race Management to set up the course. Rich Hanna runs CRRM and he is just another nice guy out there doing what he loves. Coincidentally, he also ran the race and won first place overall in the 10 miler! The man is awesome.

This was the first ever Blood, Sweat and Beers Trail Race so people milled about not sure what to do or where to go but eventually everyone made it to the starting area. I found my Summer 7 running group and we huddled together discussing running strategy.

Overall the race was great. A detailed race report would seem silly since nothing really too exciting happened. I ran the course way better than I had the previous Sunday thankful for having seen the route in advance so I knew exactly where to run and where to save some energy. I actually ran up most of Cardiac Hill on Sunday instead of walking like I had done previously.

I have also discovered the wonder of SCaps! I started cramping a little bit and noticed I was about 60 minutes into my run and it was quite hot out so I popped an SCap and voila! The cramps disappeared and I had a boost of energy! Those pills are golden!! I ran with my hydration pack as usual even though I probably did not need it. It is now a security blanket for me because I have goodies stashed in my pockets should I need something at any moment. Like an SCap!

The course was long and hard but the runners and weather were amazing. I had a blast and look forward to the second annual Blood, Sweat and Beers Trail Race.

One of the best parts of the day for me was finishing the race, seeing Vans and the Peanut at the finish and getting a HUGE hug from my little Peanut. Oh yeah and this picture! :-)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Final Summer 7

This past Sunday was the final Summer 7 trail run in Auburn. I woke up that morning with mixed emotions. First I was sad because it was the last organized trail run and the chances of me coming back to this area and being able to find my way is (to be honest) slim and the second emotion was excitement because we were running the Blood, Sweat and Beers course that is next Sunday’s big race. The big Kahuna we’ve all been training for.

The day started off with a very cool morning considering the temperatures were supposed to rise considerably by the time I was finished. The course was “about” 10 miles (they are never exact) and consisted of pavement, single track and dirt fire road. Apparently next Sunday’s race will have over 700 people split into a 9 mile and a 5 mile group with two waves within each group. Just picturing the mass of people trying to run these trails gives me the shivers. I don’t think 700 people live in Auburn let alone 700 people (probably quite a few newbies and gym class heroes) running on a trail barely wide enough to fit one person. Next week’s post (if I make it) should definitely be interesting.

Back to my run. We started off on a downhill paved road. This is where Coach T and Coach M said we could probably position ourselves in a spot so that we’re not behind “slower” runners. All of a sudden we make a sharp right turn and we climb and climb up towards the water canal. The water canal path is pretty darn cool. You’re literally running alongside an open water canal system that is peppered with rocks and roots poking up out of the ground. One misstep and some unlucky person could end up IN the canal for an early bath.

About two miles into the course, we descended down a single track that is about a foot wide and goes just straight down. There are no outlets for stopping. There is no stopping on this path. You want to stop but you can’t because there is nowhere and nothing TO stop you from going down. Imagine this with 700 runners (sigh). Again, should be interesting.

The rest of the course was fairly disappointing. A lot more (and I mean a lot more) pavement than I would have liked. I mean it IS a trail race but compared to the secluded out of the way trails we’ve been running on lately, this was highly disappointing. However, I see why. With 700 runners of various levels running on rock covered, uneven paths, there has to be a way for an ambulance to get close to the trail. I mean the title of the race does have the word “blood” in it right? I definitely expect to see some on Sunday.

The course covered some awesome local hot spots like Cardiac Hill (and yes, I now understand why and how it got that name as I am still recovering), Robie Point (from the Western States Trail) and Last Gasp (again, very self explanatory). On Sunday I brought my camera along as any aspiring photo blogger should and in all honesty, I used it as a nice excuse to stop along the trail when my legs (and lungs) were screaming agony at me.

Next Sunday’s race will not be easy. The pressure will be on to run faster. I am not sure I can run any faster. I am not sure I want to run any faster. This course is definitely hard and Coach T’s assessment of the course was right on target. He said it was a “killer course” and he wasn’t kidding. I hope I am around next week to share how it all turned out. In the mean time, enjoy the pictures.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Wha Wha

Each week I have been posting about my trail running adventures, the new trails I have explored and evidence of last week’s post new embarrassments that I have encountered. But what really matters is what I have pictured on my right hand side bar titled: “Why I Run.” That is my little peanut and she has my heart and soul wrapped around her little tiny finger.

Well this week, my peanut fell ill. She is just 15 months old and when an infant becomes sick, it can break anyone’s heart. She developed a very high fever. So high in fact, that we considered bringing her to the emergency room one night. She has stopped eating and barely drinks any milk. Water however, is the one thing she will consume. For that I feel lucky. She will wake up from a fever induced sleep, hot as log on a fire and cry “wha wha” which in toddler talk is code for “water.”

Nothing we have been doing for her is working. Her fevers are resisting the Tylenol and Motrin we’ve been administering around the clock. She’s lethargic and clingy. This little being that used to never be able to sit still has slept the past two nights on my lap or clinging to my chest with her hot little body. I even attempted to give her a bath to bring her core temperature down but was scolded by the advice nurse on the phone telling me that method was “old school.” Hello?! Old school!!? Since when and why haven’t they told us parents this information? I don’t believe that is labeled as “old school” in any of my baby books! And you know I have 100s of those! Ugh. I could go on and on about the discrepancies in the medical field especially when it comes to infants and children. But I will spare you from my rant.

However, I do know that the human body is an amazing thing. I remember (very clearly actually) the sleep deprived newborn days and even most recently the battles we’ve been having with the peanut at bedtime. But when a child falls ill, the parent morphs into a super being that can go without sleep and without food for as long as necessary in order to make their child feel comfortable. That has been my life this week. Sleepless nights ensuring that medicine is administered, “wha wha” is nearby and that the numbers on the digital thermometer don’t exceed a number I have concocted in my head that I consider “dangerous” and “extreme” despite what the pediatrician tells me.

So my life wandering in the woods and following trails came back to reality this week. When one of my own falls ill, life out in the woods is not as much fun. I am truly hoping my little peanut gets better and soon. Vans will not let me miss out on Sunday’s prepaid trail run but if my heart is with my peanut, I am not sure how much strength I will have to get up those hills. I will be sure to have my “wha wha” with me though. I love you little peanut.

Monday, August 3, 2009


This past weekend I had plethora of trail running and other life lessons. Yes. At the age of 32 I am still having “life lessons” because apparently, I never know when to keep my mouth shut. It is a byproduct of being from New Jersey (or so I am told).

Let’s take this in chronological order shall we? Friday started out with Vans and I leaving town and heading to Tahoe with our little peanut for the annual Squaw Valley Mountain Run. This has sort of been a tradition with our family starting out a few years ago as a girls’ weekend trek with my fellow New Jersey transplant friend and mom to be. Once Vans heard how much “fun” it was we’ve been going as a family ever since.

The Squaw Valley Mountain run is a really a hike to us “normal” people and an insane run to the locals. It is 3.8 miles up hill to the top of Squaw Valley. With all 23 lbs of Peanut loaded in the backpack carrier, Vans and I were set to go. This year, since Jersey is very pregnant and unable to hike or go into high altitude we brought along another victim, I mean friend to do the hike with us. This friend also has a 1 year old loaded on her back.

Life Lesson #1: Do not consume 3 bottles of wine in high altitude the night before you are going to do 4 mile uphill hike in open sun. Yes, apparently, Vans, myself and our friend thought we were in college again because once the kids were asleep, we consumed what turned out to be 3 bottles of red wine. I actually think Vans was sweating Zinfandel while hiking on Saturday.

Over all the trip was a success. We made it to the top and had our free pints of beer. The kids were spectacular all around and enjoyed every moment of being outside.

Sunday was my usual Fleet Feet Summer 7 Trail Running day with Coach T and Coach M on the Quarry Road as I detailed last week. I woke up not feeling all that sore from Saturday’s hike and headed to Auburn early so I could score a parking spot in the Quarry Road parking lot because come on, I may run 9 or 10 miles on trails but do I really want to walk an extra 100 yards to get to my car? Thus, leaving early and scoring a spot right next to the Fleet Feet tent.

It seems all 185 of us turned out on Sunday as the parking lot was buzzing with activity. I was excited for this run as we were supposed to do a few miles on the Western States Trail again and not just run on the Quarry Road like last week. Coach T and M had expressed to us last week that this run was going to start out with a major uphill and finish with a beautiful downhill. That was the focus of our pre run meeting: proper hill running technique.

Now it is no surprise to my friends and even to Vans that I have what I affectionately call a “runner’s crush” on Coach T. He is a well known ultra runner. He was half the reason I signed up for this training program to begin with. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run with Coach T and learn all there is to learn about trail running and ultra running. Not to mention, he is quite easy on the eyes. A few friends of mine refer to him as the “Silver Fox.”

Over the course of the training runs, I have made a friend who has never heard of Coach T before and was purely out there to run trails and meet other people. One day, I shared with her the story of Silver Fox and my runner’s crush on Coach T. Just like all my close friends, she has decided this is funny and likes to occasionally make fun of me.

During our pre run talk, Coach T was telling us that his son was down the road standing at the turning point so that we did not get lost. Coach T and Coach M were explaining to us that our run today would consist of at least 45 minutes of uphill in the beginning followed by a lot of “downhill badness” at the end. That was Coach T’s word “badness” and of course my friend and I giggled like school girls thinking that was funny (and of course, cute) and so we whispered to each other back and forth different uses of the word badness. But soon we were off, running down the Quarry as a giant cluster of runners.

Recently, Coach T ran the Tahoe Rim Trail 50K and I saw a picture of him running to the finish with his son, the one waiting for us, and the resemblance was clear. The son, just as cute as his father, is the spitting image of Coach T. I was thinking this as I was running and was about to mention to my friend that Coach T’s son was just as cute as Coach T himself but instead, refrained but I did say “Hey. I think that Coach T’s son is the spitting image of Coach T. So there will be a mini Coach T up there.” This was after we had been joking more about “badness” and a few other things that the Silver Fox/Coach T had said.

Waiting for my friend to respond to my comment about Coach T’s “mini me” at the trail head I instead hear from my left “Yeah. My other two sons look just like me.” Yes. That’s right. I was in fact running next to and with Mrs. Coach T or Mrs. Silver Fox! I hardly ever get embarrassed but I believe I might have turned a shade of red that is not sold by Crayola. I tried covering myself and pretending that yes I knew she was there the entire time but I think she saw through my fa├žade and who knows how much she heard.

Open mouth. Enter foot.

Life Lesson #2: Always know who you’re running with or better yet, keep.mouth.shut.

The rest of the run was spectacular and not uneventful by any means. In fact, I probably have enough to write a whole new post but I will refrain as this post is quite lengthy as it is. Let’s just say, it involved: running, getting lost, running in circles (uphill), deciding as a group that we cannot agree which way to go, splitting up, adding 2 extra miles and consequently arriving back at the car with bloody feet. Aaah, the badness of trail running. I love it!