Saturday, June 14, 2008

Gettin' Dirty

Well my love for the trails is getting more intense as the miles unfold. I've always enjoyed getting off the beaten track whether I'm on my bike, in my truck, hiking, camping, or running. This year, I've spent a great deal of time trail running and it's quickly becoming habit-forming.

As many of you may recall, Tracy and I ran a 30K trail run at Sycamore Canyon last November. Turns out, Tracy got pregnant that weekend so trail running must be a good thing. Since that race and the news of a baby boy on the way, I've decided to dig a bit deeper and longer with my runs. I'm signed up do race a 50K later this year. The race is the inaugural Skyline to the Sea 50K Trail run put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs (

As part of my training for that race, I've been running on Thursday nights with a group from Tri Club of San Diego headed by Florian Hedwig. He's a great guy with a positive attitude...but don't trust him when he says there aren't many hills on the course. We push ourselves pretty hard usually covering 8-12 miles and 1,000-2,500 ft of climbing. And boy can I see the difference in my races.

So far this year, I've tackled two trail races and was a pacer at another (more on that). The first race was the Malibu Creek Challenge put on by Xterra. I ran the 14 mile race which covered 3,500+ feet of climbing. It was a tough race but I did well finishing about 2:05. I loved that I could camp at the start of the race but the LA crowd was a bit entertaining. I'm signed up for the Bulldog 25K in August which is almost identical to this course. It will be interesting to see if I improve my time.

The next race I did was the following weekend. My longest run of the year was the prior weekend and now I was supposed to run a 30K or 19.1 miles. But what the heck, I'd walk or hike if need be. The race was located at Sycamore Canyon north of Malibu. The course was actually the same as the one Tracy and I had run in November but in run in reverse order. We drove up Saturday afternoon and camped. Again it was great being camped at the start and end of the race.

My Dad and Louise were just up the coast in Oxnard and came down to root us on. (As it would have it, my dad signed up and hiked the 8k race.) The morning started off warm and I knew it would be a tough day. I'd guess temps at the start of the race were in the mid 80s. Sure enough, it was brutal on the course with temps above 100 in some of the canyons. I normally do well in hot weather and that day was no different. I really focussed on staying hydrated and keeping my core temperature down. As it turned out, I finished the race at 3:31, about 15 minutes slower that planned but finished 4th overall (52 runners) and 3rd in my age group. I was excited as I never place that high but proudly boasted my accomplishment to any and all that would listen.

With my sights set on my 50k in September, I looked for races that I could work into my schedule. Just as I was getting a bit restless, I saw a post on the Tri Club San Diego website from a guy by the name of Jeff Givens who was looking for help. He was running the San Diego 100 Mile Endurance run ( and needed pacers. I thought about it for a bit but decided against it. First of all, I wasn't sure if I could hang very long and second, I was a bit uncomfortable with the thought of running with a stranger at his big race. I decided against emailing Jeff until Tracy heard wind of this and insisted I send him an email. She reminded me how I've been talking about getting into Ultras. So I shot off an email not really expecting a response.

Well, I got a positive response from The Jeffrey Jack Show. Uh-oh, what did I get myself into? The Jeffrey Jack show?! I was a bit apprehensive but said what the heck. And I'm glad I did. I originally signed up to pace Jeff for 5.9 miles. Then decided to do two segments, and finally said I'd be game for a 20 mile loop.

Without going into too much detail, (the details are here:, Jeff gutted out a great run. We ran 20 miles through the evening and into the early morning together. My favorite moment was running along the Pacific Crest Trail at midnight with warm breezes coming off the desert floor pushing against the cools winds of the mountains all underneath the Milky Way with an occasional glow stick in the distance to keep us on track. Another memorable moment was coming back into the base camp and out of the woods with a group of coyotes howling their approval and encouragement of the Jeffrey Jack Show.

We ran back into base camp (mile 70) where I had a few beers and got some sleep in the Toyota home. Jeffrey headed out to run another 30 miles. I woke up early and hiked out to meet him along another stretch. The picture above is at the last aid station (mile 93).

I had a blast pacing Jeff and got my mind to thinking about what lays ahead for me. I'm starting to look at possibly a 50 miler next year and who knows what after that. I've always dreamed about one day maybe qualifying for Western States 100 ( Who knows, maybe next time I'll be racing, instead of pacing, Jeff.

Until the next adventure.....Zac

1 comment:

Over40adventures said...

Hieve Zac and Tracy- great site- i have a place just south of Loreto- going to mountain bike to San Jose comondu - r there any accomodations there? i am also going to stay a couple nights in San Javier and i found a hotel there- any insight would be appreciated- thanks Steve