Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What's Your Problem?

I'll spare the whole "I can't believe it's been so long" and "Forgive me for I have blog-sinned" and "Never again, I'm back" and all the other usual messages reserved for the end of a blog drought. Besides, I've already done it before and I made myself sick. I'll save that for another 6 months and try to explain here what the heck has been happening.

So it's 2010. Whoa. Last year was a rough year for me in more ways than I care to think about. So I'll just go ahead and throw them out here in convenient list form:

Running: Since this blog is mostly about running (and other physical activities), I'll start there. The year started out great with one of my best runs ever at the PCTR Woodside 35k in February. This was to be my last race until the Miwok 100k. Unfortunately (as documented previously here), I ran into a nasty bout with Achilles tendinitis and as a result, had zero training leading up to the race and eventually had to DNF at mile 28 of Miwok. Interestingly enough. a funny thing happened during the race (before the DNF that is) - I regained my love for running (just by the fact that I was out running again). However, it just wasn't meant to be with the awful conditions denying me any chance to finish combined with a lack of training. (At least my pacer-to-be Victoria, ended up having a great run with Suzanne Carrier - but that's another story.)

Over the rest of the summer, I took it easy but slowly started building up so that I can do at least one more race that I had on my radar - Firetrails 50 miler. The race ended up being a blast and turned the whole year around. I called it my redemption from Miwok and I was back on running cloud 9. A race report will be pulled out of the archives when I'm gone in 2065.)

Being paced by my better half. How cool is that!

That was it for the events but I did hit some bad luck at the end of the year for race lotteries. I knew Western States was a long shot (big negative), but I was fairly confident with my chances for Miwok (another big no). That was disappointing only for the main reason that I loved that trail and really wanted to get my running revenge. (Try again in 2011) Luckily, I did get into Way Too Cool 50k and that ended the year on a positive note.

Family: In the grand scheme of things, running is definitely meaningless next to family. For the first time in my life, I almost realized what life would be like without my dad. Early in the year, he came within hours of losing his life to a major blood clot. A big downer that really shut me down for most of the year. He basically went into get a blood test because he was feeling weak and tired and he didn't leave the hospital for five more days. Yikes. He's made a huge recovery since then but it's really made me realize how important my parents are and they won't be around forever.

Dad with Owen looking good after Firetrails.

Almost lost it emotionally here. Thanks for the support family!

What made Firetrails so special? Seeing my mom, dad, wife, and two boys waiting for me at the aid station at mile 41.5. I almost started crying hysterically when I saw them. Go give your family a hug. Right now.

Job: It's obvious that running events and activities cost money and for the people that know me, I was very absent this year at many events that I wanted to attend (a ton of PCT events!). The biggest reason for limited events and funds this year was me losing my job. Obviously, not the biggest shocker in today's economy, but still quite a shocker to the system and something that really alters your life. This is what amplified the previous two downers to another level. I had a great 13-year run at Applied Materials in Santa Clara but things finally caught up to our department. Although, I'm excited to try new challenges, it's been a tough year/time to focus on new ventures and challenges that I want to explore. Looking for a job is definitely a job in itself. You might start understanding why this blog was left for dead. Eventually, I will be back on my feet and in the end, things will be better off as I tackle new challenges.

Business Mike.

(By the way, if anyone is looking for a successful, problem-solving IT Project Manager with 9 years of experience managing software projects, plus a prior 4 years developing software, please send me an email or check out my LinkedIn page).

Next! Ok, now that I've brought the house down, let's get back to kicking some butt in a positive way. I have many things to be thankful for and being a positive person, I like to use those things for motivation. Health is good. Family loves me. Have good friends. Opportunities are out there and I've learned a lot of new things over the past 6 months (Yes, I've been taking advantage of not working). Also, being able to spend some great Mr. Mom time with my boys (especially my oldest going to his first day of kindergarten) has been great.

What about running? After a nice fattening up period over Christmas, I'm back on the trails/road/firetrail running again. Thanks to my parents Xmas gift, I have one race on the schedule already - Way Too Cool 50k in March. Assuming I start earning some money soon, I have a few more races that I'm targeting (including a big one!). In April, I'm thinking about doing the PCTR Diablo 50 (a serious ass-whooping race that might be more difficult than Miwok). I really love doing PCTR races and it's been way too long since I've seen the crew (especially RD Sarah Spelt). After that, I plan on returning to the sight of my first Ultra, the Ohlone 50k. Missed this last year due to it's proximity to Miwok and now I'm really excited to go back. After Ohlone, if everything is in order with me (financially, health-wise), I'm giving serious thought to running either the Headlands 100 or the Tahoe Rim Trails 100. I would love to get to 100 miles this year. After that, I'll probably recover and then run Firetrails again (I really loved that race).

Yes it was a tough 2009, but also rewarding in so many ways. I'm looking forward to some butt kicking in 2010. My foot, somebody else's butt. Oh and the blog is alive! Have a great day.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Next Chapter Begins

Hello inner-Mike and any stragglers out there. This is obviously not the follow-up that I had in mind after my last post about my Miwok destruction. Nor was it supposed to be this long for a follow-up. My next post will summarize what's been going on over the last couple months (plus put a ending on the Miwok stuff). Also, I needed to make sure I got something done because I (1) needed to light a fire under my butt and (2) wanted to say hello to the outside world.

Next chapter begins now. Here I come.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Under-Trained and Frozen = DNF at Miwok 100k

Reality struck big time this past Saturday (5/2) as I ended up taking my first career DNF in a race (my long 1-year history of ultra's) at the Miwok 100k. Lots of emotion for me on this day and much of it was positive. The DNF basically came down to two things: Under-trained due to nursing injuries and frozen due to wind and cold rain. The combination ended up being too much for my body to overcome. More on this later. Before I get to the details, here are the final stats for the day (I would show this if I finished so I have to do it for a DNF):

Distance: 28 miles
Time: ~6 hours
Core Temp: Frozen

I setup reservations at a hotel in Sausalito for the weekend so I would have a quick ride to the race and a nice place to stay afterward to avoid driving all the way to Stockton. Plan was for my wife (Kristin) and I to arrive on Friday and enjoy some alone time and then have my parents and boys come in on Saturday to see the late stages of the race. So far so good. Enjoyed a great pasta dinner in dowtown Sausalito and then managed to get to bed at a decent hour after getting my drop bags and race gear ready for the next day. Set two alarms for 4:30 AM.

[Insert that stupid alarm clock sound and some extremely annoying music] Got up with no issues and the wife and I headed out the door at 5:00 AM. I had easy directions to the race but of course, never actually checked the route the previous night. That would have been a great idea since of course we ended up missing the key turn (too dark) and were heading straight for the Golden Gate Bridge. "Babe, please flip a U-turn now or I'll never make it back here". That would be right as we're about to cross where it says "No U-Turns". That was close. As we turn around I pick up the directions but we've now added on an extra 15 minutes. After trying to see in the fog and dark, we eventually make it to the starting area, 15 minutes until start time. No problem - I didn't want to wait out in the cold anyways. Only thing I wanted to do was register, fill up my water bottles, set out my drop bags and see if I could find anyone I knew. Will Gotthardt came by and said hello while I was in line to register and I found Rick Gaston and Suzanne Carrier and said hello to both. I had never met Suzanne before but had seen her all over the place and knew who she was through my friend and pacer for the day, Victoria. Was nice to meet her finally and didn't realize it at the time, but she would be mixed up in my later events and memories from this race. The race director called everyone to the beach for the start. Kristin walked me down with the rest of the runners and within minutes, we were off.

On the beach - ready to roll. Just fog here but the wet stuff is coming.

To be continued. Next up: Unclogging the start, "Oh my God, I'm running in a race!", 1st 10k done and changing weather. A few pictures as well. (if I could find my camera cable)


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's Time

It's been one hell of a couple months since my last race. After running Woodside, I felt great and had a feeling that my running would be going to the next level this year. Unfortunately, I may have jumped back in too hard the next week and paid the price over the last 2 months. And hey, just like that, the Miwok 100k has arrived this Saturday.

What I originally thought was strictly a calf-related injury, turned out to be more of an achilles tendinitis issue. Over the last few weeks I've been strengthening my support muscles and have learned some new techniques for taping and wrapping my legs to provide comfort. Up until this week, I wasn't sure what would happen this weekend. Now, I'm feeling much more confident and excited to get out there and just be apart of a race environment.

Looking out towards the Marin Headlands from the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley. I'll see you on Saturday.

Normally, I'll set up some nice goals for my races ranging from super conservative to "wow that would be cool". This time, I'm not going to do that (at least not use the word goal). However, here is what I'm looking forward to on Saturday:

  • Enjoy the race environment. The course, runners, scenery, etc.
  • Seeing running friends that I haven't seen since at least February.
  • Running with my pacer, Victoria.
  • Watching some ridiculously fast runners out there.
  • Finishing the race!
  • Post race festivities - beer, food, hallucinating, leg replacement
I'll be staying in Sausalito this weekend with my better half on Friday and then my boys and parents will be coming in on Saturday. We decided to stay another night on Saturday so we wouldn't have to drive back to Stockton after the race.

Looking forward to the weekend!


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No Foolin'...It's Healin'

Happy April Fools Day. I think I can actually say that my leg is healing up. That's what not running on it will do for you (OK, I lied, I played softball on Monday night and was running). Here's what I've been doing to save my sanity and let me be able to run healthy soon...

  • Stretching - Three+ times per day I'm doing 3 types of wall push-ups and some other stretches. Looking to add some yoga days in here.
  • Rolling - I'm gonna unleash my dog on this thing soon and let him tear it to shreds. Just a big, blue foam piece of crap. Works and is less expensive than getting a massage (Oh yeah...I'm in the process of scheduling a massage). Great at getting those knots and junk out of the legs.
  • Not Running - Ok, this isn't really saving my sanity, but it's probably the #1 remedy for not re-injuring myself. (What an awful thing)
  • Cross-training - I've been all over the board with this but I've been working on a few different things: swimming & biking for cardio; weights for hamstrings and thighs; Core exercises for, well, the core. Need to support those calf muscles.
  • Positive Thinking - What good is it if I'm depressed and complaining all the time about not running? Since my training is going to be nowhere near where it should be for Miwok, I'll have to rely on mental toughness and positive thoughts to make it through. Good time to start is now.
Glorybelle (from Get Out There and Run Already!) had a great quote today about courage from To Kill a Mockingbird (excuse me for stealing this)...
“I wanted you to see what real courage is... It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
I don't think there is any better quote for me right now heading into Miwok. She's also having some of the same injury issues I'm having and has a nice entry today on basically starting over and rebuilding her base miles for a future of 100% healthy running (instead of 90%).

Good luck with your training and races everyone. Stay healthy!


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Losing, But Not Lost

It's been rough for the past month and a half from the running front. My left calf continues to be a nuisance and I can't really figure out what to do with it. Just when I think I'm past it, the discomfort comes back the next week. "Think positive".

Last Saturday, after my boys basketball game (organized chaos), I headed out for an 11-mile run home. Running felt great and things were going well until the last mile - had the old junk in the calf pop up once again. I stopped for a second, wrapped the hell out of my calf, and then continued on my way home. What's really weird is that after icing and rolling and stretching, the leg is basically fine again. This is where I'm confused on this injury.

Yesterday, I decided to do a 1.5 hour treadmill hill workout. Strangely, running up hills right now is the only thing that really doesn't bother my calf (I guess that's a good thing for Miwok). I might just have to keep any outdoor running to 8 or less miles of maintenance. How can I not run in this weather?

Congratulations to all my running buddies who've been hitting the trails and performing in races. I've really enjoyed reading all the blog entries. I've been itching to get out there and can't wait to see everyone again.

I'm not doing any races before Miwok, but I'll probably head out to Diablo on 4/19 to volunteer. Lots of faces and fast runners to see there. Hopefully, I'll be healthy the next time PCTR is back at Diablo in June.

Happy training and racing everyone!


Wednesday, March 4, 2009


OK, I never really make that sound, but if definitely explains how I'm feeling today. I've been icing the hell out of my knee and as I hoped, the swelling and pain are down considerably. I think I can safely say that it was just a good tweak on the ligament and no damage. I actually walked 2.5 miles today and it only really hurt me when I went down a step or made a severe right turn (which I tried to avoid). I'll keep icing it tonight and then hopefully it will be completely gone within the next couple of days. 

I managed to find my old knee brace and I've put that to good use the last couple days. It basically 
restricts the lateral movement at the knee. Perfect! The "good" thing about this injury compared to a muscle pull/strain/etc., is that I'm not really worried about re-injuring the leg when I'm running. (Nobody move or say anything). Gotta love the optimism.

Take care and happy training. Here I come.


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