Thursday, 31 July 2008

The Earth moves but i still run

Yesterday was interesting, LA had an earthquake, nothing major (5.4 on the richter scale), but still a bit of a shock. One moment i was sitting with a cup of coffee and then it moved (possibly a reaction to my dislike of American Coffee just haven't got my taste buds accustomed to it ???), then a little aftershock and then emergency vehicles charging madly down the Pacific Coast Hwy, all a bit disconcerting.
Decided it would be a good day to hop on a bike so followed the beach bike paths to Will Rogers Beach and then took my life in my hands on Hwy 1 to Malibu, can't say the beaches past LAX are in the same league as Hermosa, Redondo and Manhattan Beaches as they are much skinnier (and i'd hate to be buying real estate looks like the whole thing will slip into the sea).
Saw them filming Terminator 4 near Venice Beach, interesting to see the completed movie !!.
Overall about 60 Miles on the bike, think my body would have preferred running !!!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

An update of sorts

This isn't really an update, it's more like i added a few pictures (seeing i've had a chance on a pc that actually works !!), so if you look
and Here:

You'll find some pictures, typically i've got nothing of me in Death Valley and had to "borrow" some shots from Adventurecorps to get race pictures: and here for the finishg shots:
Enjoy for the moment (and for those missing the moustache look back at the Mt Whitney Thread nostalgically !!)
As for this pic, just why am i in the front row ???

What a grand Canyon, but it's still a desert

Since the last update i've been to the Grand Canyon, one place i'd always wanted to go and finally i made it. Spent a fair time on the drive there as i couldn't resist going into a couple of towns on "Route 66" (and getting my kicks !!! as per the Stones song). Best value feed i've had so far was an old fashioned Route 66 Diner at Kingman, $7.99 for a steak, mashed potatoes and salad, shame it didn't leave room for one of the massive sundaes (people behind me had one between 3 children and were still struggling to eat it all), place was a real throwback to before i was born with Elvis, Marilyn and the Beatles featured prominently (no Stones and i'm pretty sure none of the aforementioned sung about Route 66).
Arrived just before dark and found i could only get a campsite for 3 nights as the place was booked out after, little frustrating but all i really wanted to do was put the tent up before dark (it was then i discovered i had managed to lose my headlight and torch somewhere between Badwater and here !!!).
Very cool night, dropping to around 50 degrees, but the morning come and a glorious day was dawning. I'd had vague plans of doing Rim to Rim but wanted to check what was available so headed to the info centre for maps and details. Eventually discovered Rim to Rim (South Rim to North) wasn't a goer as there is only one shuttle bus per day (and whilst 23 miles by foot over 200 by road !!), and really doubted the logic of Rim to Rim and return as with no headlight i could have been struggling with no fallback option (body felt recovered from BW but frankly a 46 mile run in heat is not something i was going to casually do).
Ended up just walking the Rim Trail and gazing in awe (with a million other tourists or so it seemed at the view and also realising i'd never get a picture as good as my memory would take).
In the evening went to watch the sunrise and was initially blown away to see a Californian Condor flying overhead (i am a big fan of Large birds of prey, really love my Wedge Tail Eagles), especially considering there are barely 200 in the world population. Well that was nothing when further along to Kohls Cottage ??? and found 8 of them on the ledges eating, quite incredible. After this headed off to look at the Bright Angel track as i'd decided that tomorrow i'd do this down to the river (with all the signs telling people to not do the track to the river and back in one day and over the top signage about 250 healthy males aged between 25 and 40 being rescued each year after all how could i resist !!!!).
Being near dusk saw even more animals, a family of long horned sheep and an elk, really you couldn't get many days better than this.
Funny thing here i was basically in the middle of nowhere and not a bit of mobile phone reception but sure enough internet booths everywhere ($2 for 7.5 minutes so type quick !!!).
Early night (with no headlight or torch, it was pretty much a case of eat at the cafe and then off to bed) and was woken by daylight (still reckon the best sleep you can get is a sleeping bag in a tent out in nowehere), and i was off by 7 for the walk to Bright Angel Trail (a couple of miles down the road).
Thankfully hit the trail before the mules (plenty of evidence of them via droppings) and was down the bottom within a couple of hours and soon hitting the mighty Colorado River. Was bemused as i saw no evidence of being able to cross it (massive river swimming not exactly an option), but seeing i was down so easily and quickly thought i may as well follow the next trail and sure enough found a bridge.
This ultimately lead to the Phantom Ranch, where i then filled up my 500ml water bottle (i had filled the 2 litre camelbak with Gatorade and assumed i still had a fair bit left) and i found that rather than returning the way i'd left it was possible to return by the South Kaibab Track.
Now with water every couple of miles on the 10 mile track i'd done i assumed that i'd have the same on the way back (i had memorised the track names but didnt bring the map, was carrying enough food and really couldn't see the point as the tracks are well marked). Well this is where it started to go wrong, soon after crossing the bridge from the Ranch i'd finished the camelbak and by 11 it was low 100's in the Valley so it was heating up. Steady climb up and other than the odd person going down, pretty much a track to myself. Incredible views all around, but probably will not capture quite the grandeur in my pics (we'd had Helicopter tours going down the river at various points, would have been great). Still with 5 miles or so to go i was out of water, so it was a case of eating some more and just slowing down (still assuming water was ahead) and finally made it to a set of restrooms around 1.5miles from the finish (and a sign saying no water available). As luck would have it, had a ranger taking a group down (this was a noted Vista, just can't think of the name) and he had a box of water, so filled the bottle again (and kept his group entertained with stories of Badwater and other races, they were suffering and resting under the shade of the building). This was enough to get me going again (had stopped around 20 minutes) but by now we were on a very dry, steep, unshaded trail and i think the time without water had knocked me about so was taking a rest on most switchback corners (not good for the ego being repassed by people i'd passed on the way up from that Vista). One funny occurrence, was sitting on a rock and a one eyed squirrel (obviously one of natures great survivors) deciding to run all over me, i think it was attracted by the smell of trail mix in my pack or maybe it just thought i was a nut ??? (there will be a number of tourists photos of this man with a squirrel all over him - yeah that would be me !!).
Finally squirrel-free i had the last mile and was rapt to see a tap at the top, me a man never excited by water !!!.
Now really the idea was to do this "Old School" (walk to trail head, do trails and then walk back to tent, no soft mechanised options !!), but the South Kalbai Shuttle bus was to much of a temptation as it turned up soon after (i was still working out just where i needed to walk to get back anyway mapless !!), funny enough met an ex Gold Coast Girl there (living in the US last 3 years), strange to hear an Aussie accent (off hand %90 of the people at the Grand Canyon were non English speaking, many German and Japanese as well as other nationalities i didn't get).
Back to the Visitor Centre and a bottle of lemonade, finally feeling human. Then walked the mile back to the tent, not good timing as the showers shut for their hourly daily cleaning at 3!!!, so just rested (and still felt pretty sh*t to be honest), and then bought some stuff so i would have the 8 quarters required for an eight minute shower (no shorter options !!).
Finally a shower and just to get that caked on dust off me was magic (and water did sort of have some outside undehydrating effect) now it was time for lunch (dinner whatever, trail mix, nuts, GU, and granola bars sort of don't cut it as a main meal). Certainly returned to the Soda Fountain a few times (free refills) and was finally feeling decent so headed off for another evening jaunt along the rim. No con dors tonight, but a beautiful sunset as rain fell heavily over the North Rim, had a quite a few chats with some friendly locals (typically i gained a bit of fame as people recognised from the full shuttle trip back from south Kalbaib), as to the common statement "you must have enough for a book by now", well i have enough problems doing this blog without anything else (any cheap ghost writers out there ???).
Bit of a storm that night (at least my $20 Super K Mart tent proved itself waterproof) and was up at daybreak, think the body had had enough of severe heat i was ready to drive back to the beaches of LA.
75 Mile speed limit in Arizona (120KPH !!), so was back to the border quickly and then into California (in theory a 70MPH limit, but Caltrans works on very long stretches so the first hour was only 60), was thankful i hit the outskirts of LA early enough to avoid the worst of the Friday arvo rush (off hand that's 3 Friday nights i've got in LA not really a great time to hit those damned Freeways).
So here i am back, relaxed in Hermosa Beach (a place made infamous as the scene of AFL Star Ben Cousin's 5 day cocaine binge last year, but really just like back home to me).
Finally a long post (no idea when the next one will be), sun and surf awaits, but after a 15 mile run this morning (Veterans Pathway to El Segundo and then running the back streets and finally finding the beach for the run back.) back to normal, reckon Trans Gaule will be good for me.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Probably out of internet access for a bit

Have been slowly writing a Badwater report (on paper) and will eventually commit it to cyberspace when i get a chance (that may be late September ??), life's been good in the meantime and i've been chilling out down at Hermosa Beach and finally the body seems to have come back together and the last two mornings have seen me do two 10 mile runs (going out along the woodchip "Veterans Pathway" and back via the beach path) the last two mornings. Thankfully the feet feel pretty good although i've recently googled up this stuff on the metatarsal:
" The main symptom of metatarsalgia is pain in the ball of your foot — the part of the sole just behind your toes. The pain may be sharp, aching or burning. You may feel it in the area around the second, third and fourth toes or only near your big toe.

Other symptoms of metatarsalgia may include:

A feeling in your feet as if you're walking on pebbles or have a bruise from a stone - Definitely the feeling i had !!!!!!!!

Sometimes these symptoms develop suddenly — especially if you've recently increased your usual amount of running, jumping or other high-impact exercise — but problems are more likely to develop over a period of months."

Not sure if this is going to have a huge affect on me as i seem to not have had this problem those two runs.
Not overly warm here with tops of mid 70's but still it's been great to be back in civilization for a few days (Hermosa Beach is essentially a bigger version of what i've got back home at Palmie even down to the fact the streets are numbered eg 15th Street etc), but of course my nomadic instincts are slowly starting to kick in again and i'd better head off and do some more tourist things with the Grand Canyon (only 500 miles away) one of the places i promised myself i'd make to this year.
The above link is to where i spent yesterday a Ojai Deer Lodge, a rustic biker saloon out in the hills past Ventura County (geography is not my strong suit here !), definitely a bit warmer than on the coast.
Shari and guitarist Alistair Greene (co writer of a number of her songs) had an acoustic gig in the beer garden, great setting for it (other than occasionally being disturbed by the sound of Harley's revving), and an appreciative audience. With only a singer and a guitarist it was all pretty laid back and mellow but this gave these two very talented performers as well as the audience a great chance for a good time and a great afternoon was had by all.
Maybe i should just wander off and be a roadie, rather than head home and go back to being a computer programmer ???? (somehow i think the average gig requires more than just two speakers and a PA so might need some more gym work :-) ).
Anyway for the moment that's it, will probably be out of internet and phone coverage tomorrow (and the next few days) as i head eastwards, only wish i was able to download some of the pictures (that will wait till i get home).

Friday, 18 July 2008

Badwater - the short version - part 2 to be continued soon (almost midnight!)

Ran along at a very comfortable pace as planned & the relatively cool
weather meant i could wear my usual headband with just a bit of veil
around my face. All went well till around 50 miles but then storm
damaged roads then meant that it looked we'd have a course change,
frustrating but at least still a 135 mile race. Not sure what happened
around nightfall but from then on had "issues" food was sitting on the
stomach & i felt permanently bloated & what appeared to be a blister
ended up being metatarsal problems, this meant i was in pain running downhill instead of making good time on the hills down to Panamint Springs. As i type this still the left metatarsal is sore but now being done the beach am barefoot anyway. Other than that am fine, and now have been given some stuff which supposedly fixes nausea in races (now to try it on another long way). Bottom line i'll be back next year, looking to take at least 10 percent off my time (would love to take that same amount off the costs involved but don't think that's likely).

Badwater - The short version Part 1

I know now that every reader (both of you :-)) is now ready for a race
report. Eventually there will be a long one but being overseas could
mean a long wait as each 512 character email takes 40 minutes to type
and to be honest as im now on holidays until Trans Gaule computers
arent a high priority!. So in short up at 3am for an early shower and
the crew & i were off by 5 for the 5:30 check in & 6am group start.
Ultimately finished 33rd in 40:23 & finished first of the 6AM starters
(i did tip 40 to many).


Improved, now with pictures:
With Race Director Chris Kostman
With my crew (i couldn't have done it without them):
Matt Mundy, Steve Hanes, me !!, Steve Ochoa, Ian Stevens

Badwater update 6

Finally this problem was solved as Ian and the Steves made an early
visit to Pahrrump to get paint for the vans aiming to be back for that
afternoons race briefing. Lots of great freebies in the race bag & a
long briefing (first sign of hype really i'm too nervy prerace to
enjoy that stuff). Finally got to meet the others in the field of 80
including Aussie Jan Herrman finally a familiar face. Whilst waiting
in the long queue saw a roadrunner killing a chipmunk(sounds gruesome
but nature is not always nice)

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Badwater update 5

The rest of the crew (Ian Stevens, Steve Ochoa & Steve Hanes) were
flying into Las Vegas from all over the US & then driving the rental
van to DV (with yet another Walmart shopping expedition for last
minute needs). Off to the "flash rooms with working air conditioners"
but with a noon checkout we had to delay for a few hours as they
cleaned our rooms. Finally by 5 we were all there & soon after
realised that i was meant to provide the vehicle race numbers so
improvization would need to take place as per the attached picture !!.

Badwater update 4

Off hand the springfed pool was 80 degrees so it was only refreshing
when compared to the outside heat. Matt arrived that evening so now
the crew was taking shape, shame the weather was getting cooler but
that my cheap (relatively speaking as nothing is cheap in DV) cabin
with air conditioner was way hotter than outside. We did a 10 mile run
to Zabriskie Point in the morning & by the time we returned were
seeing signs of the race with many named & numbered race vans now
arriving (now for mine to arrive!).

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Badwater update 3

In retrospect possibly pushed myself a little too hard these first 3
days as simply the temperatures werent as hot as predicted for race
day (only 110 or so). By Friday i was to meet the first of my crew
members as Matt was due to drive in from a family holiday in Morro Bay
but after a hard morning run decided i'd give myself a rest & drive to
Beatty. Made worthwhile by having lunch at the great Ensenada Diner
(so different from $20 pizzas at Furnace Creek). Back to FC & another
evening in the hot pool!.

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Badwater update 2

And the 2 nights spent walking along "The Strip" to some degree blown
away by the "over the topness" of the place (eg lion feeding time at
the MGM Casino or the fountain fireworks at the Bellagio) but to an
even bigger degree cringing at the sheer tackiness of the whole place
- definitely not high on my must sees!. Anyway enough of a whinge as i
headed back to the relative civilization (& marginally more heat) of
Furnace Creek. Soon i was running around the Zabriskie Point area like
it was my usual home.

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Badwater update 1

I know it's been a while between updates but simply the last 8 days
have been spent in Furnace Creek (Death Valley) training for the event
& the event itself & then rest, recovery & celebration in Lone Pine
all places with no mobile reception (at least on my phone - others did
get intermittent reception). After leaving the beaches of LA it was a
case of moving from heaven to hell as i spent 2 days in iredeemably
tacky Las Vegas mostly spent wandering through Walmart Stores getting
supplies during the day

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Friday, 4 July 2008

Back to the beach 2

Once the traffic hassles were over thoroughly enjoyed an arvo on the
beach (still cant work out why the sea is colder than winter on the GC
but the beaut waves made up for it). I could worry readers by saying i
then made it to Naja's on Redondo Beach, a pub advertising 200
different beers (strangely none of them Australian), but this was in
aid of my need for music not booze!. A Shari Puorto and The Rhythm
Addicts gig, definitely worth the drive (200 miles?) to see her
perform again, incredible performer

Back to the beach 1

Well long story short (as it should be when it's 1AM), thought it was
a good idea to head back to civilazation (after all they dont have
Walmarts in Lone Pine & shopping is a necessary evil for this race).
So back to the southern beaches of LA i headed, trying to not ruin my
conditioning i drove with my heating on (around 110 degrees by my
watch) all the way to an incredible long weekend traffic jam, thankful
i now had more local knowledge of the roads than when i first arrived
but still frustrating.

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Thursday, 3 July 2008

Return to Auburn Part 3

Unfortunately part 3 was lost in cyberspace and with no reception in
Death Valley (disappointingly been no warmer than 104 by my watch my
two days here) except for this spot a 15 mile drive from where im
staying will simply update with the fact i did the MT Whitney summit
today approx 22 miles with about 8hours of walking. Awesome views and
took close to 100 pics, nothing like it back home also interested to
see what damage a bear can do to a car(thankfully not mine). Possibly
will head to civilization tmrw

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