Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Volunteering for 2014 Calico Trail Run 30k/50k

Last Sunday I spent the day volunteering at the 10th Annual 2014 Calico Trail Run 30k/50k Race. This race starts and finishes in the Calico Ghost Town and is operated by and benefits the non-profit organization Discovery Trails. (A little about Calico and Discovery Trails at the end of this post)

The entrance to Calico

I am actually kind of embarrassed that I didn't even know about this race until about a month ago. It is only 10 miles from my house for Pete's sake! Since I didn't know about it in time, I could either suffer though a race that I am really not prepared for or volunteer. Of course I chose the lazy smart option. I emailed the race directors and was told to just show up between 5:30am-5pm and they would figure out where to put me. This was a stark contrast to the couple of rally races and running races I have volunteered for. They usually are much more organized and assign me to a team kind of thing.

View from the parking lot.
Course Map

I kind of wanted to work one of the first couple of aid stations on the course so I arrived before 6am. Once I arrived I linked up with one of the race directors and he let me know that everything is running smoothly and after the race starts he could use me. So no aid station for me, maybe next time. My initial thought was "F this!" and storm off (just kidding, I really wanted to volunteer). I am glad I stuck around though because I got to work the finish instead which ended up being an amazing experience. I really enjoyed being able to cheer for all the runners as they finished and hand them their finisher's key chain. I witnessed a lot of emotions from the runners and it was fun listening to them and hearing about what they experienced out on the course.

Hanging out waiting for the race start

The race start. The Guy in the flannel shirt was 1st overall. lol :)

The runners being ran out of town.

What I Liked

The race was small and only had 159 runners. This made it possible to spend time with any finisher that wanted to tell me about their race as I was handing them a finisher's key chain. This was awesome because I am a runner that likes to talk about running. Another benefit for being a small event is that the results were updated on the website within minutes of a runner finishing.

One other great thing about the race is that it finishes and ends in the Historic Calico Ghost town here in Southern California. It is the perfect place for your family and friends to spend the day while they wait for you to finish the race.

The awards were great and original. The top 3 in each age group and gender received a cut and polished Calico Agate rock award that is from the Calico Mountain and is hand painted by a local artist. The winners were even able to choose what and how they wanted their names painted on it right there on the spot. Plus the finisher's awards were locally hand made leather key chains.

What I Didn't Like

I seriously haven't thought of anything that doesn't make me sound overly critical or entitled. The aid stations were stocked and the finisher's area had food and water. But there wasn't a huge selection and everything was in limited supply (except for water, there was lots and lots of water). So the late finishers didn't have much left for them. It is a small event though and this kind of thing is expected to help keep the cost of the race low ($65 for an Ultramarathon!)


Overall I had a lot of fun. Had a great time working with the other volunteers. I really enjoyed the atmosphere and spending the day talking to runners and hanging out in Calico. Even the food from the Calico Restaurant was amazing and helped keep me going. I spent 10hrs out there and wouldn't hesitate to do it again next year.

About Discovery Trails

Please note: The Calico Trail Run is organized by "Discovery Trails", a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. We are a 100% volunteer organization (nobody is paid a cent) that is dedicated to helping educate our school kids about the values of the amazing Mojave Desert. After all race expenses are paid, 100% of the profits are given to educational sources to fulfill our above stated mission. Thank you for participating in the Calico Trail Run and helping us educate our kids about the Mojave Desert.

 Calico History

Calico Ghost Town, founded in 1881, is a historic silver mining town 10 miles north of Barstow, California. Purchased in 1950 by Walter Knott of Knott's Berry Farm, the town was restored to it's glory of the richest silver strike of the 1800's. The silver mining stayed strong until the late 1890's when the world value of silver fell to pennies on the dollar. Fortunately for the town of Calico, rich deposits of borax were discovered in the Calico Mountains in the early 1890's. Mining still continued until around 1910 when large deposits of Borax were discovered a lot closer to Los Angeles near a town now know as Boron, CA. Walter Knott donated the Town of Calico to the County of San Bernardino in 1967. Since then it has been a County Regional Park, dedicated to preserving the towns history.

Would you rather participate in a small event with less than 1000 racers or the larger races with over 1000 racers? What about races over 10,000 runners?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Missing and/or Lost

Ok, I need everyone to check their pockets for my stuff. I am missing my bike air pump and my handheld Garmin GPS unit that I use for Geocaching. I am sure that it must have been one of those mischievous "Elf on the Shelfs" that were running around in December creating all kinds of havoc. I doubt that it was my fault and that I misplaced my stuff in the "black hole" that is my garage. :)  Well anyways, until I can find my bike pump I can't ride my bike. I somehow got a flat tire a couple weeks ago and now my bike has been placed into the "black hole". I am sure I will come across my bike pump and than not be able to find my bike. That is just how my luck goes sometimes.

Other than misplacing my stuff I have been on recovery from my race the other weekend. My recovery plan is the same as the last time I had a Xterra race. I took nearly all week off from running but did do some light cross training. I wasn't planning on running last Saturday but decided to go ahead and run a few easy miles for #megsmiles. It ended up being 3 miles at at a 9:25 pace.

Hokas were still dirty from the race.

It is always sad to hear about a runner, cyclist, pedestrian getting injured or killed by careless drivers.

Here is a little info that I got from the #megsmiles facebook page.

Meg Cross Menzies was tragically killed by a drunk driver while out for her morning run on January 13, 2014. As an avid runner, member of the Richmond Road Runners Club, and Boston marathoner, she was a member of the running family nationwide. In her honor, our hope is to raise awareness of drunk driving, texting and driving, and overall safety of runners and cyclists everywhere. 

This Saturday, January 18, 2014, no matter what your distance, no matter where you live, run for Meg. Take in the fresh air, be aware of your surroundings, keep your headphones on low, feel the heaviness in your lungs, the soreness in your legs, and be grateful for it--for all of it. The sweat, the pain, the wind, the cold…everything. Be grateful for that moment.

Feel free to post pictures of yourself pre-run or post-run, post your distance, post your thoughts, prayers, condolences with the hashtag #megsmiles. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Let all runners unite together and remember the loss of a beautiful spirit. It's not a coincidence the hashtag reads either "Meg's Miles" or "Meg Smiles." She will be smiling on all of us forevermore.

I had Monday off for Martin Luther King Jr. day so I decided to go for a faster paced run. I did 3.5 miles at a 9:11 pace. 

Temperature was already in the 60s when I started my run. Also a port-a-potty for no particular reason. :)

So my recovery is going well, I will continue taking it fairly easy the rest of this week and than I'll be back to training again. The Calico Trail Runs 30k and 50k is a local race this upcoming Sunday, Jan. 26th. I actually didn't know anything about it until about a month ago. I won't be able to run it so I will be there trying to volunteer. So if anyone is running it and needs anything let me know. 

Everyone be safe out there and be aware of your surroundings.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Xterra Boney Mountain Trail Race 21k Recap

It now has been a couple of days since my half-marathon trail race on Sunday. It was a very hard course and I am sore from my toes all the way to my shoulders. Seriously, that is no exaggeration, nearly every muscle is sore. This race was the hardest race I have ever done. I knew that the elevation inclines and declines were going to be hard but it really was much worse than I had imagined. I am glad that I didn't go on the course preview run a month ago because I probably would have freaked myself out knowing what to really expect on this course. So in this instance I think ignorance really helped me out.

Although I felt like I got ran over as my bib suggests, I didn't.

Just like all the other Xterra races I have ran, there were amazing views, amazing volunteers, and a challenging course that was well marked. The atmosphere of these races are always positive, and welcoming to all levels of runners. I think that is why I always have such a good time at these Xterra races.


To save some money I had decided not to get a hotel room the night before the race. This means that my family and I had to wake up at 4am (sorry guys) to make sure we had enough time to get dressed and drive the 2 1/2 hours to Newbury Park, Ca where the race packet pickup was. The good thing about driving that early was that we didn't encounter much traffic because any sane person was still sleeping. We got to the packet pick up site about 7am. The lines were minimal so I was able to immediately get my bib and than start the mandatory before race bathroom search. Although there were a couple port-a-potties there at packet pickup, the local coffee shop BeanoVino was awesome enough to let my family and I use their restrooms and even give us a discount on our purchases. We than got on the bus shuttles that were taking everyone the 1 1/2 miles to the race start. We got to the race start area around 7:45 which was enough time to listen to the race course description and safety brief and then at 8:00 the air horn signaled the race start and we were off running.


My plan was really similar to the one I used for the Xterra Point Mugu Trail race 18k (recap here) a couple months ago. I knew that there were only a few aid stations on the course and they are placed with the volunteers who man them in mind and not necessarily with the runners in mind. Which I totally understand, volunteers don't want to carry all their supplies 6 miles up a steep mountain just because it would be the perfect spot for runners to refuel. With this in mind though your fueling strategy is important. Before the race I ate cereal when I woke up, sipped on coffee and water on the drive, and then ate a banana 1 hour before the race start. For the race I decided to carry a water bottle with me and than drink Gatorade at each aid station to replace electrolytes and calories.


0-2.5 miles: Mostly downhill. I was feeling good and legs were warming up nicely. First aid station was here but I didn't stop. I actually felt sorry for the volunteers because no one else was stopping either. It just was too early in the race.
2.5-4 miles: First uphill. About 560ft of climb. Course turned to single track so pace was a little slower because of all the runners. Still taking it fairly easy and passing a few people at a time where I could. Really trying to conserve my energy. 2nd aid station was about mile 3.5 so I walked through it and drank a cup of Gatorade.
4-6 miles: All downhill. Started get some stomach distress but not bad enough to stop running. My right knee started to feel a little sore after this downhill as well but my energy was alright. At mile 6 there was the 3rd aid station and again I walked through it and drank another cup of Gatorade. BONUS: there were restrooms here but my stomach distress was already going away so I decided to keep running. (living dangerously right?)
6-10 miles: All uphill. About 1,550ft of climb. This was a very tough part of the course. I passed a lot of people on this section with my combination of power-walking and running. I was trying to keep my pace up as best I could. About mile 8 I started to "bonk". I realized that it most likely was a lack of caloric intake for this level of effort I was putting in. I kept pushing though.
10-12 miles: Mostly steep downhill. My legs were exhausted so I didn't have any confidence to run fast downhill. Several runners passed me on this section. I recovered from my "bonk" and was feeling better. My right knee started to feel tender again so I was trying to keep my downhill braking to a minimum but slow enough where I would still feel in control. At mile 11.5 is the last uphill of the course. It was only a half mile and about 200ft but it felt like Mount Everest at this point. I knew at the top around mile 12 was the last aid station so I pushed myself to keep my feet moving.
12-13.2 miles: Slight downhill. I stopped at the aid station at mile 12 long enough to drink 2 cups of Gatorade and finish the last bit of water I had and discard the water bottle I was carrying. I was able to run the last bit of the course at a decent pace and was actually able to pass a few other runners before reaching the finish line.


Chip time: 2:35:02
Garmin time: 2:35:03
Average Pace: 11:53 min/mile

Position Overall: 195 out of 343
Age Group: 22 out of 29


I am very happy with my performance. Although I realize that there are a few things I need to work on, I finished knowing that I gave it everything I had. Great 1st race of the year.

Now I recover and rest.

Does any one else feel sorry for race volunteers if no one is stopping at their water stop?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Waiting Game

As everyone knows, I have my first half-marathon race this Sunday. It is the Xterra Boney Mountain Trail Race. If you follow me on facebook, instagram, or twitter, I am sure you are tired of me talking about it. Well, too bad, my close friends and family are tired of hearing about it too, so that is why I started this blog and joined those social sites. It's all so I can vent all this running stuff to you guys and gals so my head doesn't explode from holding all this excitement and enjoyment in. :)

This week has been about tapering down my runs and mostly trying to stay active enough to not go stir crazy but not too much as to not be fully rested and ready to race. Because I am tapering there isn't much awesome fitness stuff to recap.

On Sunday I ran an easy 5 miles and than today I ran 4.5 miles. I have been riding my bike to and from the bus stop and mixing in some push-ups, sit-ups, planks, squats, and lunges sporadically during the day as well.
Today's early morning run.

My family and I have been streaking this year. :) A family that streaks together are weirdos stays together. We have gone for a walk at least a mile everyday this year. Yesterday was day 7. Now that I have posted it here on my blog, they are accountable and can't wimp out. Ok, maybe it's so I don't wimp out. haha.

I still haven't fully decided on what my goals are going to be for this race. It will be the farthest distance I have ever run and the terrain is not going to be easy. So it is hard to put a goal time or pace down. Here are the goals that I have so far.

1. Finish <-- Instant distance PR.
2. Top 15 in age group <-- To get Xterra points.

I realize that I am not good any to earn enough Xterra points to earn an entry into Xterra Nationals. But if I earn any points at all, my name will come up on the Xterra leader board. I just think that would be cool.

Is anyone else going to Xterra Boney Mountain? Any one else have a race this month?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Years celebration. I really enjoyed 2013 but am excited for what 2014 will bring.

Now that the holidays are over though I don't have any more excuses to eat pie, cake, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, candies, and chocolates. I was really enjoying the fun distractions and extra time off of work but now it has ended.

My training for my first half marathon is going well. I was able to get some quality runs in, even during the holidays. 

 This is how my runs have gone recently.

Jan. 1 - 3 mile easy run. Today was the first run of the year.

Dec. 31 - 12 Yasso800s all at 3:55 or faster. Last run of 2013.

Dec. 29 - 1 mile easy run. Did this after I had done 40min of cross-training.
Dec. 28 - 1 mile up a steep hill. Very hard and hopefully one day I'll be able to run up it non-stop.

Dec. 25 - Christmas Day run.

Dec. 24 - Christmas Eve run. Did a good hill run with some hill repeats added in.

I have 12 days until my Boney Mountain race so I'm just about as ready as I'm going to be.  I'll do one more run this weekend and than take it easy till race day.