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Posts tagged with: running

Backbone Trail to Hondo Canyon


Last Saturday, I met with the Coyotes for the second time. It’s been a few weeks since my last run with them, but there’s been big events like the San Diego 100 ultramarathon last week, and other 50k’s. This time, we meet up by Topanga Canyon Blvd at 7:30am. I almost overslept and didn’t arrive until a few minutes before 8, when we planned to start running. Oops! Coach Jimmy went over the routes, which was a simple out and back for the 2.5 hour and unders, but became more complicated for the longer distances. I planned to do about 2ish, so it wasn’t a problem for me.

From the meeting spot to the Backbone trailhead, was about a mile, so we walked single file along Topanga Canyon Blvd to the start. Coach warned us of poison ivy along the course, which was plentiful, especially in the beginning. The first half was majority uphill, with maybe some light rollers in between. It eventually became single track trails with lush greenery.


For the most part, I ran with a new friend, Rachel, who is also taking it easy like myself, but coming back from a long injury. Sweet! No pressure! Everyone else seemed pretty fast, so we let everyone else go while we just chatted it up to make the run fun and perceived quick. There was also this one teammate, David, who finished the 100 ultra last weekend, and he “took it easy” this week. Yeah right, his “slow & easy” pace was wayyyyy faster than our fastest.


By the time we got tot the top, everything looked familiar to me. Wait a minute! It was the top of Stunt Rd, a popular spot for cyclists, car clubs, and motorcyclists. I remember doing a bike ride up this road last summer, training for Ironman Canada, and boy it was tough! And we ran it?! It was pretty challenging though, but in good company, it wasn’t actually that bad. There was also Krispy Kreme waiting for us at the top (I didn’t eat it though).


The rest of the run was downhill, so it was even more enjoyable! Met another teammate, Steph, who was also very fast, but we were able to get a conversation about work life, commutes, and baby seals in. Towards the end, I also met another Coyote, Jenna, who is fairly new to the team, but has a lot of good race plans towards the end of the year.


As you can see, it was nice and overcast. A little chilly, but I say perfect running weather! 8.5 miles in about 2 hours. All in all, another successful Coyotes run and looking forward to more!


Cheseboro Canyon Run

This morning, I met up with some old UltraTEAM alumni (Arkady, Carlos, Raul, and Tom) to run an unspecified distance at 10am. By the time we got there it was already in the 80 degree range. Oh boy, flashbacks of Leona heat!

I was prepared for 3 hours of running in my Nathan backpack/bladder, but because of the heat, I decided to do around 2 hours just to be safe. I missed this training run with the UltraTEAM last time because it was the same weekend as my first 50k, Ray Miller in Malibu. I was looking forward to it because I heard of the beautiful views. Unfortunately the best of the views were what is pictured above. Dry, dead grass. It was super hot and exposed, with birds chirping that sounded like the Smoke Monster from LOST. Not very motivating. You see, it’s supposed to look like this:

I had that picture in my head going into this run, then it wasn’t that. I guess you have your good days, and your bad ones, and this morning was the latter. You know it was a walkathon for me! The trail had some considerable rolling hills, so I practiced my downhill form and cadence. Tried to run faster on the flats, but for some reason it just wasn’t working for me. Ugh!

I turned around at the 1 hour mark, then at an hour and a half, I ran out of nutrition from my backpack! That’s supposed to last 3 hours! Well, I had a bottle of water in my front pocket (for splashing on my head), so I made do with that and Gu to hold me over til the end. So yeah, the heat definitely did me in this morning, only completing 7 miles in 1:45. Tough day, but another learning experience under my belt.

First Coyote Run – Sullivan Canyon

This morning was my first weekend run with The Coyotes running group. If you don’t know who they are, they’re a well known group in the trail/ultra community founded and coached by Jimmy Dean Freeman and his wife Kate. They coach all levels for marathon distance to 100+ mile distance races. I’ve always heard of them through mutual friends running with them in the past, or you see their presence around these Westside trails and ultramarathons.

Since most of my close friends are still in triathlon training or coaching, I felt a little antsy in this "off-season" not really training for anything. So I decided to at least do something. I need some kind of training structure or some race, otherwise I won’t run on my own. I mean, look, I haven’t swam or biked in months because I really don’t have a triathlon coming up, and I’m fine with that.

So this, joining The Coyotes, will be a good thing. I know I still need to work on my running. I know I can get stronger, faster, and more skilled in those technical trails, and I believe Coach Jimmy & Kate will take me there. Now for the race? I’m not registered yet but I’m 99% sure I’ll be signing up for the Mt. Disappointment 50k on July 13. Everyone I’ve talked to about that race said that it’s no joke! I’ll post details about it later, but it’s a 6000+ total gain, with 2 giant climbs of 3 miles @ 2000. Oh, and it’s in the middle of summer and it’s supposed to be HOT. Challenge accepted!

So back to this morning’s run. We met in the neighborhoods of Brentwood near Sullivan Canyon at 7:30am. As a newbie, I was a little intimidated because everyone already knew everyone else. The Coyote structure is a training session of 4 or so months and each cycle has a unique nickname. Our "season" is called Trail Nirvana. There’s also two different coached options. I signed up for "Come As You Are" program which allows me to come to every run session, but I have to build my own schedule myself. I still have access to all the coaches though for tips and suggestions along the way. The full program is everything, custom coached plans. It’s cool because almost everyone I talked to this morning had a different race, and the coaches have a unique plan for each because everyone has different experiences and race goals.

After everyone checked in, Coach Jimmy did some announcements, kicking off the official training season, then we were off! Sullivan started off with a nice downhill to get warmed up, with great tree coverage. Everyone kept a nice comfortable pace, even running on most of the inclines. This was where I got to meet and get to know some new friendly faces.

Up by the top of Sullivan and Mulholland, Coach Kate gave options for people to run depending on their planned mileage of the day. I decided to do 3 hours today so I stayed with the longer run people. Coach took some of us down a challenging but fun single track descent called Farmer’s Ridge. Ooh we were flying down that thing! A lot of switchbacks and uneven terrain, but I loved it! Coach also made sure our downhill running form was correct and she pointed out to correct my shoulders a few times, which I appreciated because I tend to have bad back & shoulder form sometimes.

After that, we ran up some pretty significant but runnable climbs until it was time to return back. My friend Craig then took us down Bobsled Trail, which was pretty fast & steep but had banked curves for some fun single track technical practicing. At the bottom, Coach Jimmy was waiting for everyone. It was a quick cool down run back to the cars then we were greeted by Coach Kate and these bad boys:

My friend Kelley made these. I believe they were Rice Krispy, Captain Crunch, and marshmallows, covered in some sweet peanut butter covering. Mmm mmm it was delicious! Overall, a fun morning and looked at my watch at the end of all of it, I did 14.15 miles in 2:50, with an average pace of 12:08 min mile. Faster than my usual trail running average, so I was happy about that! Since Leona I’ve only done some quick midweek runs and the half marathon last weekend, so I’m glad to be back in the running mix! I could already tell that I’ll enjoy the rest of the season with cool teammates and great coaches! Looking forward to more!

Awesome 80’s Run

My IronTEAM “Off-Season” schedule is filling up pretty quickly with… yup, you guessed it, more races. This time a fun 10k run, but a week after my Ironman in Canada. Can you say, Recovery Run? This event will be in Pasadena, on September 1st 7am, hosted by Superhero Events, LLC. It looks and sounds pretty fun! One of my teammates originally posted it on Facebook, and you know how social media peer pressure goes, a bunch of us signed up! What’s 6.2 miles among friends anyway? …AND we get to dress up in 80’s crazy neon gear? We also get a shirt and a medal! It’s pretty rare for these smaller 5k and 10k runs to give medals, so I’m excited for that!

You can sign-up on their registration site, and also get involved in their community on their Facebook Page.

Vineman Training Weekend Pt. 2

Just when we thought the weekend was over at 2.4 + 112 miles, bright and early we met back at the high school to do our long run! We ran on the exact path as Vineman, so there will be no surprises. Teammates doing Vineman Full ran two full loops, then a portion of the third loop, which totalled 19.65 miles. People doing other events had modified routes depending on their training schedule. The course itself was relatively flat. Some rollers, but one large hill towards the middle of the loop, which I think I’ll be walking up anyway. Most of it was nicely lined with trees too. It was hot, but luckily, there was a breeze to cool us down. My pace wasn’t as fast as I would be on fresh legs, but hey, we did 112 miles of biking the day before. I was actually surprised I still had some run in me!

Del Mar 14 Mile Run

You’d think that after another monter bike ride, especially to San Diego that you’d have the rest of the weekend to have some nice R&R. Nope not us! Not the IronTEAM. We wake up bright and early the next day to run 14 miles! This morning, we did a basic out and back route, from Solona Beach (where we were at) to just north of Encinitas. It was nothing new to us because we pretty much biked through there yesterday – we just had a little more time to soak up the nice ocean views. It was relatively flat with some gradual climbs & descents.

The coaches split our group into two, primarily splitting people who usually run together, which forces most of us to run with someone new. I ran with my teammates Patrick and Annette, which was really fun because I’ve never ran with them before. It was a similar situation for other people as some were pushed further & faster than they have ever before. It was super inspiring to see teammates reach new milestones!

Overall, the run was a nice cap to end the weekend’s training. Thankfully, there was no swim workout! The rest of the day consisted of hanging out at the Amtrak station & pizza place across the street, waiting to pack & load up bikes into some of our coaches cars. It was a logistical challenge because some of the trains only hold 6-12 bikes so we all couldn’t ride home at the same time. Backup plan was to load up as many bikes on cars, then the rest to come back via train. It was my bike, and 2 others that didn’t get to fit in the cars, so we were stuck. First train was 12:30pm, then 1:30, etc. I ended up on the 3:30 train, so the team had a fun time getting to know each other a little more at the restaurant. The train ride went by very quickly because the moment I sat down, I knocked out! I was just glad I didn’t get this kind of train experience:

OWS + 19 Mile Run

The waves this morning during our Open Water Swim (OWS) were pretty scary at Tower 26 in Santa Monica… I just remember having to look up as if I was looking up at a building, then tumble under a double wave. Took even more tries than usual because those waves were bigger than I’ve ever encountered. I was coming into the practice feeling confident because Friday was such a huge milestone, but I guess you can’t have it all. Was able to make 1 loop to the buoy though with the help of one of our coaches. I was happy to even just do 1, because at one point, I was already about to walk back to the car. It was so rough out there!

After the swim, we all changed to our running gear and went on to our longest run of the IronTEAM season- 19 miles! It’s nothing new to me, but it was a big milestone for some of my teammates, as it marked some personal bests in terms of mileage. What was new to me was the fact that I just did 100+ miles on the bike, so running this distance on not-so-fresh legs was such a challenge! The route started near our swim meetup spot, and headed north to a place called “Troll Bridge” (you’d have to go through parts of the Amalfi neighborhood to get there), and do 2 out and backs. Tried to run the whole time, but those hills near the end of the loop took so much out of us that walking was a better option if we wanted to finish the distance. It’s all about pacing! I practiced more of my running technique and form on the flats. This special route was trying to simulate the Vineman out and back type of course where the course is 3 loops, and that can really mess with your mind!

Return of the Midweek Lunch Run

I gotta admit, I’ve been skimping out on my midweek run practices. Last time I ran was Wildflower almost 2 weeks ago, and even before that, I’ve been swapping my runs with more swims. Right about now is where our run training (or all training in general) will be stepping up in volume, and all 3 sports must be taken seriously. Last year’s IronTEAM coach Paul gave me some pretty good advice even before the season started. He knew I came from a running background, but he told me, “You still have to pay attention to your run, don’t take it for granted.”

I’m usually good with running up until maybe the 16 mile mark, but there’s always room for improvement. Earlier today I set out to run to the boardwalk of Manhattan Beach from the office. My Garmin wasn’t charged so I just had a basic Timex watch to keep track of when I should turn back. It was just me and the pavement, enjoying the sights and sounds of a beautiful day in the South Beach. I ran for about an hour along Rosecrans, occasionally looking around appreciating some nice houses, greenery, and loved the ocean breeze. I took a light jog along the boardwalk (also taking the snapshot above), where I saw the waves hitting high but made a calming sound. I headed south on a somewhat empty boardwalk, then ran back to the office. You gotta love these midweek lunch runs because it’s one way to schedule in some workouts that doesn’t eat away from your morning or night routines. Oh wait a minute, I have to do some shoulder strength training tonight…. the day’s not over yet!

Rain Doesn’t Stop Us

There were weather forecasts of hail and snow in Los Angeles this weekend since the past few days have been torrential downpour, wind, and very cold. Rain or shine, our team still trains, but in this case, we were on standby this morning if we were to bike or run. I took a chance last night and didn’t prepare my bike nutrition. Luckily, we didn’t have to bike because the rains left a lot of unsafe conditions on PCH – our coaches didn’t want to take any chances.

So instead, we were back at our usual “Amalfi” meeting. This loop was very familiar to me because it was something the TNT Westside Marathon team did a few times. It was similar to the run last week where we met at Ocean & San Vicente, proceeded down the hill and back up the neighborhood. We then kept going up and up and up! It spit us back out to Sunset and eventually made our way down San Vicente from 26th St. Sorry, only the people familiar with this route will understand this. It’s also a popular bike route in Santa Monica. Again, I ran with my new running buddy Liz from the 70.3 team since she’s training for LA Marathon and we’re about the same pace. I’m glad we push each other to keep on running, otherwise, I don’t think I’d be able to run such a hilly course without walking. Overall, another great run!

Here’s the elevation chart: