Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Inagural 2008 Pasadena Marathon

Well, what can I say...The marathon was cancelled due to the fires. The smoke was pretty bad. I would've run slowly, but it's probably better that they cancelled it. It was a fun weekend nonetheless. Who can complain. A night at the Westin, good food, good friends, and of course family. It is disappointing not to have done the race especially since I haven't run in two weeks since the last marathon. Now I guess I have to go out tomorrow and run 18 miles or so just to stay in some sort of shape for the Over the Hill Track Club 50k on Dec. 7th.

I really feel bad for the runners who chose Pasadena to be their first marathon. I couldn't imagine the how that would feel, having done 16 weeks of meticulus training, perfecting the race strategy, building that confidence gained on the long run, probably barely sleeping the night before with the anticipation of the epic event looming only to wake up to find it's cancelled. What a let down. I hope they don't let it get them down.

For me, it was disappointing but not that bad. I think my response upon finding out the race was cancelled was, "Uh...Ohh...You want to go to Starbucks!?"
Happy Trails. Mike.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Santa Clarita Marathon '08

Well, it was a beautiful weekend! We drove down Saturday after soccer games and checked into the hotel. The expo at SC Marathon is small and somewhat obscure, but nonetheless, is a good place to get some free water and goodies. This marathon is somewhat small with only a little over 300 in the marathon. The majority of participants were in the 5k or 1/2 marathon.

I awoke at 5:30am after a good nights sleep with an extra hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time! After a bowl of oatmeal, a bagel, and a cup of coffee I headed down to meet Bob in the lobby. It was a cool and wet morning. It didn't rain but you could tell it had during the night. Basically it was humid and turned out to get pretty warm as the day went on. I wasn't hoping for much of a performance since I hadn't been training very much. Our plan was to recover as we went with a 4:1 run/walk ratio. As we got going however we decided to just run for an hour or so to warm up and then make a plan based on how we felt. Bob was very positive and helped me to feel confident. We decided we'd do what he did in LA this year. Run a mile and take a 30 second to 1 minute break just after each aid station. Before long we were 12 miles in and feeling great. We started to skip our little walk breaks although I did take a couple breaks to stretch my legs a little in an attempt to stay loose.

The miles seemed to fly by! We were both amazed at how fast each mile went. In no time we were at 18, 20, 23, and then DONE!

Fueling strategy: I tried something a little new for this one. I carried two bottles; one full of Ensure and the other Cytomax. Lately on my longer runs I've just felt bonked and wanted to avoid that. Every half hour I took a big drink of Ensure and every hour took an advil and an Endurolyte. The result was that I felt better at SC than at any other marathon I've done! My legs were getting a little heavy as we were climbing over the last couple of paseos, but other than that I felt good.

I guess you don't have to run as much when the training you do is at altitude! The bottom line is that the training we do up here is tough. Even if we're not doing 20+ mile long runs, we're doing hilly 16-18 milers at 6-7,000 feet. I was running a ten minute mile pace and breathing easy, chatting the whole way with Bob.

After the run we showered back at the hotel and ate at BJ's Brewery. One word of advice, don't drink a nutty brewnette after a 26.2 mile run on an empty stomach! I got a little dingy! Oh yeah our time was 4:40. My best ever time at Santa Clarita!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Attitude is everything.

The SAID principle states that a body will make Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. This physiological principle is awesome when you're putting in 70 mile weeks in the mountains. It fills one with the confidence one needs to perform at the level needed to have an enjoyable marathon. That is, it makes you think you're all that and a bag of chips...Oh yeah, I've got this. Easy money. 26.2 miles of fun! I hope all those under prepared runners piled on the medians at mile 22, frantically strectching their calves in an attempt to stave off that wonderful wake up in the middle of the night with a leg cramp that makes you sit up and scream at the top of your lungs feeling, don't hate me as I gracefully and effortlessly run by with that big smile and say smuggly, you okay, keep it up, you're almost there! After all, I've adapted. I'm stronger. All my training is paying dividends! Yeah, that's awesome. I'll tell you what's not current training schedule. I have a marathon in a couple of days and I don't even remember the last time I ran over 15 miles. Add to that a dash of sleep deprivation, a handful of inproper nutrition, and a rounded spoonful of dehydration and you've got the perfect recipe for a painful day! Granted if you read my post from the leona divide 50 mile race this year you'll see it's filled with the same type of Debbie Downer sentiment. What's that, how'd I do in that race?? Oh, better than the year before! I know it doesn't make sense. More training=worse time?? Well, in fact that might not be too crazy of a concept. There is also a thing call over training. Not only are you more prone to injury, but mentally you can get fried. And that right there is the secret. Running, like life, is 90% mental. I'm not saying you can go from the "couch of doom" today to running 50 miles tomorrow, but if you believe you can run 50 miles, you will do it. And sooner than you think. You become what you believe most of the time. If you believe you will be an ultra runner you will be.

Life is too short for excuses. Having a bad day is your fault. Not your jobs. Not being in shape is your fault. My horrible training is my fault. But that's all okay. We're allowed to have bad days and not love our jobs everyday and not be in the best shape. But we shouldn't let the negative thoughts impose specific adaptations on our attitudes. Sometimes it's a good idea to take life one day at a time. Like running, living life with a good attitude requires training. Start with baby steps and pretty soon you'll be off and running.
Happy Trails.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

" Aha. Look what I've created. I have made FIRE." Even though Chuck Noland was joking when Tom Hanks finally made a fire in Castaway, I believe there is a little Caveman in all of us.(GUYS) It seems as though the primordal fire has not fully been extinguised and every once in awhile(twice a year for me)an ember will ignite something in my soul that says, "Take to the woods. Hunt. Eat. Run." Luckily for me and more specifically, my wife, I am able to surpress that voice, just like the rest of them, and carry on with all the comforts and modern conveiniences that civility affords. Am I alone here? Answer the following questions to see how much caveman still exists within you.
1. As winter approaches do you find your diet changing? Do you crave and consume a higher calorie diet rich in fat??
2. Do you suddenly come to in Blockbuster with a copy of White Fang and North to Alaska?
3. Do you go from shaving daily to weekly? Are you tending to find yourself suspiciously and suddenly busy Saturday morning before your barber appointment with an uncanny desire to "let your freak flag fly??"
4. At the supermarket do you loiter in front of the seafood counter...and you don't even like seafood?
5. Are you distracted with an unwaivering fascination by the most trivial things, ie., clicking a light on and off repeatedly while going, "ohhhh".
6. Do you read Alone in the Wilderness, the story of Dick Proenneke over and over??
7. Do you start to feel like Bear Gryll's is silly and that you could do that!??
8. Do you have a curious desire to want to learn how to tan an animal hide?? I knew I wasn't alone on that one.
9. Has your wife caught you in the backyard trying to start a fire with flint and steel???? Better yet, did you start a fire with flint and steel??

If you answered yes to any of these questions then it looks like we're in the same cave my friend!



Monday, October 13, 2008

Update for Karl...

Yeah, I would update it more but in the last year and half since I started it only my Mom and Lis have read it. Like twice each.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wow! Where have I been??

First of all, thanks to Bob for letting me use his internet to update this see we moved up here to the mountains and have no internet so I've been out of the loop for a few months.

The first thing I must say is how sorry I was to hear of the passing of Craig Chambers. What can you say about Craig. He was such an influence on all who knew him. I owe my running to him. He was a friend and a mentor and a great human being. I'll be writing more about Craig later. You'll be missed my friend.

Running has been going good up here. I've been doing a lot of training with Bob and it's been good hard runs. The altitude will hopefully help for the races at sea level. Bulldog is coming up on the 23rd and I'm looking forward to it.

That's all for now. Sorry to the two of you who read this.(Mom and Lisa!)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Beautiful Day

Don't you just love those days where all is right in the world. A nice 2 1/2 hour run in the sunshine, knowing that your plans for the rest of the day are to get a Jamba Juice, go see a movie, watch your son at track practice, buy your wife a coffee(you're welcome sweety)then have dinner with family and friends. Ahh...Life is Good! It's often hard to block out the images that this is my last day off and tomorrow night I'll return to work an 8 day stretch, knowing I'll be hungry and sleep deprived wishing I...but I digress, it is after all a beautiful day! Here's hoping that all of you who will read this(Mom&Lisa)seize the day and enjoy what it has to offer.
Happy Trails,

Monday, May 5, 2008

For Wayne

I was eagerly anticipating the 30th annual Wild Wild West 50k since I got in the truck to drive home from Leona. It is one of my favorite races of the year for several reasons. The scenery never disappoints and the company is always memorable. This year the early season rains provided a better than usual flower show and the company was as great as ever.

The morning started with a "jumpy" Froggie getting down into a track-like starting position for the "ready, set...", as the chill of the morning kept us gladly huddled close together at the starting line. I love camping at the top of Tuttle Creek, and as I ran by the tent I waved to Lisa and Shane who awoke early to wish us all well. The run slowed into a fast walk as we settled into the long climb ahead of us. Bob and Robert and I hung together as we ascended towards the portal road, and I also ran into James and Summer. We talked of running, running, and oh yeah, running!(running always dominates the first 15 miles, food the second!) I stopped briefly to lend a hand to Summer and James at the river crossing. They probably didn't really need help, but know that it made me feel good to lend a hand. After the portal road and one more climb we gratefully welcomed the several mile down hill.
I would like to give a big thanks to all the aid station volunteers who graciously gave up their Saturday to come support all of us crazy runners. A big thanks to Margaret who brought home made oatmeal, chocolate chip, raisin cookies!!
I started talking to a runner who was wearing a shirt that had the picture of soldier on the back. It said in memory of Cpl. Wayne Geiger. Pictured was Wayne, 23, from Lone Pine, who gave his life in service to our country. I started visiting with the runner, Jeff, and he told me the story of Wayne and the shirt. We leap frogged each other for the next 10 miles or so chatting as we passed or got passed. We came to the turn where marathoners go left and 50kers go right. Jeff said it's too bad I'm going this way I've had fun running with you guys. Seeing my opportunity, I seized the moment and gently twisted Jeff's arm into coming with us. He'd wanted to run an ultra, but was thinking more for next year. He was feeling great at this point, so with some quick work from a red sharpie in the hands of the aid station volunteer Jeff was now running the 50k.
The rest of the race I stayed by Jeff's side. We ran and talked about Wayne and the sacrifice he made for our country. How what to many is just another number, a statistic to help make a point, is to the small town of Lone Pine, a tragic story of a life cut short. But also, a story of tremendous conviction, courage, and commitment. Wayne's courage to willingly choose a path that he knew would put him in harms way gave Jeff and I a perspective and renewed energy to continue when the race got hot and we got tired. For Jeff and I the worst case scenario would hurt our ego, but would be nothing beer and pizza wouldn't fix. Wayne faced life threatening situations every day. And ultimately paid the highest price.
Each mile after 26, Jeff and I would celebrate his new distance PR. At 30 he told me he was trashed but we continued to run all the way to the finish where my boys escorted us in. Jeff became an ultra runner that day and earned the title. He honored the memory of a fallen soldier and inspired me with his grit and determination. I am proud of Jeff and Wayne and indebted to both for what they have taught me.
After the run we met at the Dow Villa pool with pizzas and Robert supplied the beer and wine. Peg, Lisa, Bob, Scott, Elana, Jack, Guru and I relaxed away the afternoon indulging in the best Pizza we've had in a long time. We reminisced about the day and of runs gone by. A fitting end to a great day.
I'm not sure what my finish time was, and frankly I don't care. All I know is that when the starter finally gave the "go!" Froggie led the race for at least 10 feet!
Happy Trails, Mike.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Leona Divide!

If someone would have told me yesterday that not only would I finish Leona but I would finish 10 minutes faster than last year, I would've told them they're crazy!

The full moon was illuminating the sky when I arrived at 5:00am. The temp was a little chilly, just perfect for the start of the race. As I went inside to get checked in I ran into Greg and his wife. I told him he was part of the reason I was here today. You see back in '06 greg came to Leona after a long run of only 15 miles and not having run a marathon in 5 years. He made it to #9 aid station at 42.9 miles in 10:42 before dropping. That was something I thought about last week when I decided, on little training to sign up for the race. The last thing I want to read in UltraRunning Magazine is Mike McGinnis--DNF. But you know what if everytime you try something you're confident you will suceed, is that really a challenge? This year I was uncertain about my fait and what would come over the next 50 miles.

Next I ran into Kirk Fortini. Kirk and I seem to play cat and mouse during these races always in proximity to one another for a good part of the day. Today would be no different. I then visted with Jeff Stevenson for a bit before I had to go check in. It's great to see so many familiar faces at these events, and as time goes by more and more become friends. One thing I love about ultras is that everyone is friendly and even though you havn't seen them in a year they say, "Hey Mike how's Lisa and the boys?" It is as though a fellowship exists between those who are suffering together. We support each other, encourage and cheer for one another on our journey. I was especially touched at Leona this year when a fellow runner approached me at the finish. He was having one of those days in November at Santa Monica Mtn 50k when near the end he was getting discouraged. We had to ascend the Ray Miller Trail one more time just to turn around and descend back to the start/finish. For that remaining 6 miles I encouraged him and we began talking. First about running then about life. We shared some personal things from our past and before we knew it the race was over. He was very grateful to me for helping him through his low point. We visited a little at the end and went our separate ways with a handshake and a "thanks again." Now I see him at Leona as he's flying downhill on his way to a great time and I'm still on my way up to the turn around. He stopped dead in the trail and turned around. "Hey you're my friend from Santa Monica." When I got to the finish he approached me and introduced me to his wife. He began to tell me that he had told his brother about me and how what we talked about months before had helped them with a similar situation. Once again he was very appreciative and kind.

I just love that in the middle of a sporting competition these types of connections can be made. My worry about not finishing the run turned out to be nothing but a waste of time. I had my best race there ever, feeling strong all day. So much so that I ran all the way in from the last aid station which includes probably 1.5 miles of uphill. I couldn't be happier with my time of 11:43 which is perfect for someone seeking mediocrity! Until the saw blade rings next year...
Happy Trails,

Friday, April 18, 2008

Las Llajas Training run.

You can tell summer is drawing near. 90.3 degrees and the snakes and ticks are out in force. Some trails are worse than others but whatchyou gonna do?? Bring a camera that's what! It is good to get some unseasonably hot days to ease into the heat training for the summer runs. I'm excited this year that Ken The Runner will be joining us at Bulldog. I can't wait to do some training with him. Luckily for those of us doing Leona this weekend the weather is going to cool down. The temps on race day are supposed to top out at 67 degrees. That should make for a great day.
Happy trails. Mike

Leona Divide Tomorrow

Well, I'm sitting here calculating the slowest I can go and not miss the cutoffs for tomorrow's race. It is a feeling I havn't felt in awhile, not sure if I'll complete an event. My first 50 miler I felt this way. I just havn't been training and putting in the miles like I used to. I kinda wanted write this post to remind myself of times in the past where I felt I wasn't ready and did fine. Like the time I wasn't running much after the Grand Canyon in Oct. 06 and then went and did great at Santa Clarita Marathon. Two weeks later I then did well at Santa Monica Mtn 50k. Then 2 weeks later did 105 laps to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I think my saving grace is the fact that I try to go slooooww! I usually train way harder than I race. The race is about the memories for me, and the feeling that comes with finishing something so challenging. My favorite is thinking of Lis' and the boys as I realize I will finish and see them. Their love and support has made my running special. Now Shane is running track and becoming a trail runner at age 7 and Ryan at 4 is running 4 laps on the track and psyched about it. Then there's Bob putting in the miles and racing and doing now better than me. It is awesome to see others take up this sport that I love and has given me so much.

I know that I will do well tomorrow because I will see friends that I havn't seen in awhile like Wendy Young and Dr. Paul and maybe Jeff Stevenson. We'll catch up as the miles pass, push through the pain and find out a little more about ourselves as the layers get stripped away and the core is exposed. We'll comment that it doesn't seem possible that a year has gone by since we last met here. You continue on with the encouragement of others who know all too well what you're going through. Hopefully someone else is suffering and I can reach out and help them. Together we'll make it. One step at a time for 50 miles. Like all things, if it were easy it wouldn't be so rewarding.

As I drive home I'll be overwhelmed with satisfaction and the excitement of seeing my family. The Starbucks in Valencia will once again see me slowly get out of the truck, legs stiff from 12 hours of punishment, and will myself inside for a well deserved coffee. Think good thoughts for us.

Happy trails,

Monday, April 7, 2008


Just a quick note. We started our vacation the best way we know how, at the Pantry in downtown L.A. We then headed down to Oceanside and will be going to SeaWorld today! We're having a great time. More to come...

Long hikes taking the place of long runs??

My work schedule is playing havoc with my training which is sporadic at its best anyway these days. I'm currently working Wednesday to Wednesday, so I basically work overnight for 8 shifts straight and then I don't have to be back until the next Wednesday. In a sense it is very cool because I am writing this post from a condo in Oceanside overlooking the beach. I don't have to take vacation days to take the family to the beach for a week! On the other hand I don't run for those 8 days. I need to start, it's just tough when I'm working a 12 hour shift. I think the reality is I don't have any thing in particular I'm training for. I usually just stay in shape and do whatever races fit my schedule. This year however I guess I'm not in shape as evidenced by my being sore after a 9 mile run the other day. Last year I could do 50 miles and not be sore. Being sore was something I no longer had to deal with.(Aside from joints)
My last off week two weeks ago I did a 30ish mile hike followed by a 16 mile hike followed by a 6 mile trail run with Bob. This week I'm on track to do nothing significant. In short, I guess I'm not doing Leona Divide this year. I am going to ramp it up over the next couple weeks in some sort of effort for Wild Wild West. I really would like to find a balance though with work and running. Right now it's feast and famine and frankly I'm starving!

Friday, February 8, 2008

18 mile long run with Bob.

Having to work at 10:30pm can pose challenges for my training. I'd hoped that after running 18 with Bob and taking Shane (Lance Jr.) on a 9 mile bike ride I'd be ready for a nap. I've never been good at naps or sleeping during the day. I was able to get about a 10 minute nap before work which seemed to do some good. I guess because of my running I end up telling myself when I've been up for 24 hours straight that it is "training". Whatever works! 3 more nights of work then I'll have a few days off and be able to get in another epic hike this Friday. I'm planning on doing an all day trek like I used to when I was in good shape. I'll bring a good lunch and circumnavigate Pt. Mugu State Park for 8-10 hours. I only hop that the ticks are not bad like can tend to be on some of those less used trails going down the west side of Sandstone Peak torwards Big Syacamore Canyon and ultimately to the Ray Miller Trailhead of the Backbone trail. For the past two years I've been throwing around the idea of doing a one day assault on the Backbone Trail. It's 65ish miles from Ray Miller Trailhead to Will Rogers State Beach. I think this would be an epic trip. I plan to leave at 3am and make a long day of it. The other option is to bring pillow and take a nap along the way. But heck, after all of this "training" staying up for 24 hours I won't need one.
Happy Trails,

Hike up to Tri Peak.

Happy weekend to everyone! I don't return to work until 10:30pm on Saturday, so I decided to take a hike up to Tri Peaks in Pt. Mugu State Park. It was a gorgeous day. I saw 4 other brave souls on the trail as I was coming down. Sure was nice of them to let me clear all the spiderwebs! I was listening to Phidipidations by Steve Runner and was saddened by the fact that he will no longer be doing a weekly podcast. I've been running with steve's voice in my headphones for 2 years, often planning my long runs around the release of his latest podcast. I hope he continues to put out the show even on a limited basis. I know that balancing life and running is hard enough without adding 20+ hours of podcast prep in the mix. You will be missed Steve. Run long and taper my friend.
Happy Trails, Mike.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Winter and the primal instinct.

Is it me or does everybody try to put on weight during the winter months. I believe that it is an ancient, instinctual survival mechanism that triggers in us when the weather gets cold. It couldn't be because I've gotten lazy and lost my discipline! It seems that as the days grow shorter and the temps drop, I tend to start to crave a diet with more fat than I usually would be comfortable with. I also tend to want, to the dismay of my wife, to grow a beard! Could it be the primordial Mike showing through? Is it just an excuse to eat more pizza? Is that wrong? Is this the same primal instinct that draws me to the mountains to run. It is almost as if caught in a Star Wars like tractor beam. "Can't pull away...Must run in mountains...must eat cheeseburger..." Will I next be chasing neighborhood cats with a club? Maybe. I don't like cats! Just kidding. Whatever the attraction is, whether diet or call of the wild, I feel that it is important to listen to our bodies and be in tune with what we need both nutritionally and spiritually. If being in the mountains running or eating a slice of pizza is what my body and mind are craving who am I to argue. As the great George Sheehan once said, "Listen to your body. Do not be a blind and deaf tenant."

Happy trails. Mike