Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ragnar 2012

It has been bugging me all week because I've really wanted to share with you what a fun weekend I had last weekend running the Ragnar. I had a ton of fun last year but this year was even better because Ben ran with me. In fact Ben even handed the baton off to me. 

Last year we were in the first car meaning we had to be at the starting line early. This year we were car two meaning that we all got to sleep in. That was really nice but our joy at being in car two was short lived. I'll get to that later. 

In car two was the Bird Family, Rick Daynes and Jeff Barnett. OK, it wasn't the entire Bird Family but close. To be specific, Alan Bird, Chris Bird, Ryan Bird and Jared Bird. 
In my car we had Ben and myself, Brent Haws and his daughter Kelly, Joey Moore and his friend Robert. As it happens, Joey and Robert went to school with Brandon at Pepperdine. What a small world. Robert came all the way from North Carolina to run this race. 
So Van 1 started at 9:15 at Huntington beach and we took over from Van 1 at Yorba Linda Park in Anaheim. Ben was our first runner. You can see the hand off from Jared finishing up for Van 1 to Ben leading out for Van 2 in the following video's. I think the hand off happened somewhere around 2:00. Ben didn't know what he was in for. 

We headed down the road and stopped by this little park so we could cheer Ben on and give him a bottle of water. The poor boy ran nearly nine miles and the temperature when he started out was 93°. Luckily he didn't have to climb any nasty hills but his run was an entire uphill slope. Do you like my van in the picture. Everyone decorates their vehicles and ours by comparison was quite bland. Plenty good enough for me though.

This is Ben coming into the little park where we cheered him on. He was doing really good despite the fact that he's already run four or five miles at this point.

Each van received a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts for free. Since Ben had to run his race we saved a donut for him. I think this little donut made the entire 8.8 mile run worth it for Ben. He's always loved his food.

After Ben, I took over. Unfortunately the only pictures I have of me are the ones that Ben took and obviously since he was handing off to me we couldn't get any pictures of that. Ben did take a video clip of me climbing my massive hill. That was a real killer. My run was only 4 miles but I climbed 742 feet and by the time Ben finished his run the temperature had climbed to 98°. I had plenty of wind and my legs were strong enough but the heat just sucks the energy right out of you. It was the strangest feeling and by the time I handed off the baton I was feeling rather woozy.

Ben took this picture of me shortly after my run. It felt so good to lay in that shade in the cool grass. The funny thing is that after a bottle of gator aid and five minutes of rest it was all over. I was good to go. Very strange.
Poor Robert made a wrong turn on his run. I don't think he went too far in the wrong direction before the Ragnar people got him turned around and back on track. I would be so mad if I ran even a hundred yards further than I had to. 
Robert handed off to Kelly and Kelly handed off to her Dad. I'm sure that was as special to them as it was to have Ben hand off to me. I think the symbolism would be better if I handed the baton over to Ben but I am certainly glad I didn't have to run that 8.8 mile leg. Yuck. We stopped on the road to cheer Brent on and Kelly handed him a bottle of water. 

By this time the temperature hit the 100° mark. It eventually peaked at 102° during Kelly's run and gradually fell off again. That was great for Van 2 but for us the damage was done. Joey finished up for us and it was about 7:30 when he finished up.  I'm almost embarrassed to admit it but our night time accommodations this year were a whole lot better than what I had last year. Last year I slept on the golf course at Taylor Made's head quarters but his year Jeff Barnett was able to get a room at the Lawrence Welk Resort. After we cheered on Van 2 we went and got a sandwich at SubWay and headed to our room. What a nice place that was. It had two bedrooms and a nice big living room. I rolled my sleeping bag out on the couch, set Martha to wake me up at 2:00 AM (yuck) and then I was off to never never land. 

The major exchange this time was right at the Lawrence Welk Resort so we simply headed down the hill to the street and waved a fond farewell to Ben as he once again took the Baton from Jared and headed up a rather nasty (although short) hill. 

We had to hurry on because Ben's second run was only 3.7 miles and in the middle of the night he had no problems with over heating. He did book it and no sooner did we find a place to park than it was time for me to start my run. This was another 4 miler for me and boy how different it was from my previous run. I felt really good and I made good time. My pace on the first leg was a little over 11:00 minutes but on this run I was under 9:30. Yes I know that isn't all that great but this is me we're talking about. 

As it turned out, all of our night runs were quite short and before you know it we were at the Taylor Made headquarters handing off to Van 2. Those poor suckers really didn't get long to sleep. After grabbing a Sausage Egg McMuffin from McDonalds we headed to the glider port where the next major exchange was. We headed there because all of our volunteers were working there. 
The morning was very cloudy which was perfect for running but it gave Lisa some very pretty little curls in her hair. She also had about four coats on trying to stay warm.  Our volunteer were Lisa (my wife and Bens mother) Connie (Brents wife and Kelly's mother and Amanda (Chris's wife). They were really good sports because their shift started at 5:00AM. They got up about the same time as Van 1. 
We just hung out sleeping and eating junk food and listening to Ben play some comedian over the stereo until Van 1 finally made their way in. I am really upset about his exchange. I video taped Jared running in and handing the baton off to Ben and then Ben running out of the shoot high fiveing everyone on our team. He even performed a cool little pirout for us all. The problem was that I rarely shoot video's on my phone so I didn't quite have the whole routine down and I lost the video. How upsetting. It was also cool because some guy was trying to pass Jared coming in to the exchange and he got quite violent when he could get past Jared. That would have been a good video to see. 

Ben had another long run over 7 miles so we once again stopped to cheer him on and give him some water. I video'd him. 

He really booked it on this run and it really messed things up for me. I feel rather foolsih. At nearly every exchange there is always a runner who comes in and there is no one to meet him. I always shake my head and wonder how anyone could be so irresponsible that they aren't there to meet their runner. Well I got myself all ready and figured I had time to upload a video to face book and then I headed out to the exchange point. I get to the street and I see that the actually exchange point was a block down the hill. We parked at a middle school but the exchange was actually closer to La Jolla High School. I start walking down to it and then I see Ben waving his arms to get my attention. He had run so fast that he came in before I got there. I don't know what his time was but I think it was under a 7:00 minute mile. Good job Ben. Bad job Dad. : (

This was my long leg. It was 7.8 miles and I have never in my entire life run more than 6 miles. I had no sooner got settled into my run when my legs started feeling tired. That scared me because I knew I still had a long way to go. About two miles into the run I turned and headed up a rather steep hill. Nothing like my hill on Friday but I was tired and my legs were starting to feel like rubber. When I was nearly at the top my team was there to cheer me on. What a wonderful feeling that is. Ben even tried to make up for my mistake earlier. I had asked Brent to video our hand off but since I missed that Ben ran along with me and held his hand out video'ing us. I haven't got the video from him yet but I will. They gave me a bottle of water which was a life saver as well. 

The run was now mostly downhill until I got to Mission Bay. I was so tired at this point that the only thing that kept me going was how beautiful it was running along the bay. Families were out barbecuing and it smell so good. After what seemed like forever I finally came to the "one mile left" sign. I got so excited. I tossed my water bottle into a garbage can and got all ready for my grand finale. And I ran, and I ran some more and I ran even more and the end never came. I swear that they lie to you with those "one mile left" signs. Finally it did come and from somewhere I mustered up some strength and in this film you will see that I look like I have a lot more energy than I really do. 

And that was it for me and Ben. The rest of the team did there thing and finally we sent Joey off for the finish line. I don't know how well you can see it but on the bottom of the windows of the van we have 36 numbers written and every time someone headed out on their leg we crossed off their number. Here is Ben crossing off Joey's number. 
We beat Van 1 to the finish line but shortly after we got there Van 1 arrived and then everyone's wives and significant others arrived. The trail enters Coronado Island (which isn't quite an island due to a very narrow strip of land) on the bay side and then crosses under the street to the ocean side. We waited for Joey on the other side of the tunnel, handed him his shirt and then we all ran in to the finish line together. It was rather fun. 

Since Joey had the last leg we let him cross the finish line first.

Our captain honored us all with our medals.

If you look closely you can see that the medal is actually a beer bottle opener. 

 We were feeling good at this point but we sure felt our legs the next morning.
 I wore a Ragnar tatoo throughout the race.

And here we are at the finish line

The Caballo Blanco died not long ago and I didn't even know.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Run to the Beat

I have a confession to make. Before I do though, let me give you a bit of the background. As you probably know, I'm not much into music. I've never listened to music just to pass time, I've always preferred to do something more stimulating. If we're on a long drive I love to sit there and try and invent things in my mind. If I'm driving to work I prefer to listen to a talk show or listen to the news.

Having said that however, there are some songs that I really do like. Since I've gotten my android I've been slowly downloading some of the songs that I like. What I didn't really realize however is that this list has grown to quite a few songs. It wasn't until I was driving home from San Antonio on that marathon drive that I found that there was nothing left to occupy my thoughts. I'd talked for hours to Lisa and the kids but at 1:00 the morning I needed a new distraction. I then remembered my playlist and I decided to listen to it. I was quite surprised to learn that I had nearly two hours of music and I love every single song on the list.

Well once I got home of course I never listened to the music again, that is until I started running. On the short runs I love to just think about things but on the long runs that go on for an hour or more my mind starts to wander and before long I find that I'm focusing on my body and suddenly all I can think about is wanting to walk. That is when I thought about my playlist. If I was listening to one of my songs then perhaps it would distract me from being tired.

My confession is that I love running to music. Who would have thought? I feel bad at times because it seems like I'm missing out on nature so I pull out the earplugs in the more beautiful spots but I do love listening to my playlist while I run. Now the question is if I will ever get tired of my favorite songs?

Weightless by Marconi Union is considered by 
some to be the most relaxing song of all time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I don't know how I can possibly describe the emotions going through my head right now. I am happy and thrilled but I am also a bit sad and slightly nervous. Yesterday at work I got a phone call from Sam Taylor. In case that name doesn't ring a bell with you he is the guy that Sarah has been dating at school. How she ended up dating him is a rather interesting story that will have to wait for a later date. I answered the phone and to make a long story a little less long suffice it to say that Sam tells me how much he loves my daughter, tells me he wants to ask her to marry him and asks for my blessing. I've never met Sam and I think that may have been the first time I've spoken with him but from all I can tell he is a wonderful guy and a very good match for my daughter. His biggest credentials are that he is Molly Sanchez's little brother. I think that has given him a big break with most of our family because we all love the Sanchez family and Molly has been bragging bout her little brother for as long as we've known her.. 

Over the years Sarah has dated many boys. While I dearly love all of my daughters and I've been perhaps a bit too protective of them I think I am even more so with Sarah. She's my baby and we've spent several years with her as an only child. With every boyfriend she has had I've gone through my own little gut wrenching turmoil and I've spent many long hours with Sarah grilling her for every little detail I can about her boyfriends. The amazing thing is that she has shared with me all of her feelings about each of them and her honesty with me has made it much easier for me to trust her and let her live her life without my interference. Well maybe with a minimal amount of interference anyway.

When Sam entered the picture it was not long before I could tell that this was different. And then I started getting reports from Alycia and of course he's always had Molly's recommendation and over time how could I not grow to love him. If he could make my Sarah glow the way I saw her glow then how could I not love him too? So when Sam asked me for my blessing it was easy for me to give it with no reservation. But now what did this mean for me?

Will we still get to go on our camping trips? What about our runs together? What about our late night talks? Of course I did all those things with Kira and Alycia but as hard as it was to let Kira go I just redirected my attention to Alycia and then on to Sarah but now what do I do? I think Mom is going to get way more attention than she cares to have. Sarah has promised me that we will still do those things but you know it is going to be very different. 

I am thrilled for Sarah and we had children for this very purpose, to raise them to be a blessing to the world. It is our sincerest desire to see them go forth and raise their own families and I can only hope that they receive as much joy from their families as I've received from mine. All I know for sure right now is that I'm looking forward to August 17th with some very mixed emotions.

Monday, April 09, 2012


I think sometimes when I get excited about something I tend to talk about it too much. I've tried not to bore you with my training for the Ragnar Relay because I'm sure it is much more exciting to me than it is to you. I figure since it is now less than two weeks away I can mention it. Last year when I ran this race it was such enormous fun. I'm also quite sure that I'm in much better shape this year than I was last year but the problem is that since I'm no longer a rookie so our team captain has given me a significantly more difficult position than I had last year. Last year I ran a 5 mile leg and then a 3 mile leg and then a 6 mile leg for a total of 14 miles. All of my legs were relatively flat with no nasty hills. This year my first leg is only 4 miles but I climb a thousand feet. I'm worried about that. I greatly dislike hills. My second leg is pretty much level with even a slight downhill grade but it is 8 miles long. My last leg (if I'm still able to move) is 6 miles and actually much of it is along mission bay. That should be fun if I can still run. If you add that up it is a total of eighteen miles. That's not all that far from a marathon. I'm a bit nervous but very excited.
Saturday I ran my regular six mile run and this time I decided to photo journal my run for you. I love where I run and I look forward to it every weekend. Of course stopping and taking pictures every half mile hurts your time in a big way but I figured it was worth it so that you could see how much fun I'm having. 
Here we are in front of my house heading down the hill. At this point I'm full of energy and excited about my run.

About a half mile into the run I take a short cut across an empty field. I could go around this field but who wants to run on a road when you can run on a trail?
As soon as I leave the field I cross Highway 56. If you look down the highway just past the bend in the road the freeway crosses a canyon. That is where I will be coming back home. Here I am way above the freeway and on the way back I will be way below it. I don't like running hills but in this country it is pretty difficult to avoid them. 
Once again I leave the streets for the trails. This is looking back at the freeway I just crossed. The road you see is what I was running on and it crosses over the freeway. That is black mountain in the back ground.
And then I head into the wilderness. This trail is heading south towards Park Village. This is mile 1.
The trail then turns west and follows the top of the ridge between the freeway and Park Village. About 1.5 miles into my run I'm starting to think that 6 miles is a very long run and I'm wondering why I'm doing this. I keep telling myself that there is a long downhill coming up and I'm really looking forward to the relief.
At the 2 mile mark I take a side trail south and come out at this cul-de-sac on the end of Mannix Road.
This picture doesn't show it very well but Mannix is a very steep hill that drops from the top of the ridge down  into Penasquitos canyon. It is a very steep hill and it is a very welcome relief. Running down hill is as easy as walking and i love it. With every step down this hill though I can't help but think that I'm going to have to come back up this hill and that puts a downer on my euphoria. 
At the bottom of Mannix I see the gate that takes me into the Canyon. I love the Canyon. I'm now at the 2 mile mark.
As I enter through the gate I can see the wilderness in the bottom of the Canyon. The opposite side of the canyon is Mira Mesa. 
The trail follows the edge of the tree's until about the 3 mile mark at which point it turns and enters into the thick of the trees. The shade looks very enticing.
As soon as I enter the trees I come to Penasquitos Creek. It is truly an oasis in the desert. A nudred years ago this was a seasonal creek and dried up every year in the summer but now it runs year round and is fed from people watering their lawns and draining their pools.
The entire area around the crossing is absolutely beautiful and is one of my favorite places in the world. Back in the day when I rode my bike to work I would cross this same bridge and I would also pause for just a moment to enjoy the area. I don't run through here. I have to walk and embrace the moment.
There are two branches of the creek and this bridge is only a few yards from the first.
I then leave the trees on the other side of the canyon and head back east. I was running west before.
The trail now winds in and out of the trees. A beautiful run. I'm now at the 3.3 mile mark.
The 3.6 mile mark.
At the 4 mile mark I turn and head north back into the jungle. Sorry about the finger.
The trees are a lot thicker here and the temperature is probably 5 degrees cooler.
And then I cross the creek back to the side I started on.
When I come out of the trees I take the trail continuing east for a few hundred yards at which point I take this little side trail up into Park Village. The community park is up the hill to my left and the elementary school is straight ahead of me up the side trail.
Up on the road you can see the elementary school to the left and straight across the road is the gate leading into the trail that I'm going to take home. I'm now about 4.5 miles into the run.
Here's the gate you saw in the last picture.
Here I am at 5 miles heading back to Penasquitos. It is a lovely trail but a constant gentle up hill battle. I'm feeling the miles and looking for an excuse to walk.
I can see the freeway up ahead. I feel like I'm nearly home now.
I'm getting closer. Running is mysteriously becoming much easier now.
 And closer still. This is pretty close to the 5.5 mile mark.
 And then I go under the freeway. Do you remember at the beginning of the run when I was up high looking down at this same freeway? Well now I'm down low looking up at it. This means that I still have some steep hills to climb.
 And then I climb up out of the canyon onto my street. I'm now at six miles and nearly in front of my house. I'm sweating like a pig (trivia, did you know pigs can't sweat?). As soon as I walk into the house Lisa will tell me how bad I smell and plug her nose. Truth be told, I can hardly stand to smell myself.