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!