Sunday, January 2, 2011

Operation Jack Marathon 61, and a trip from the Sand to the Snow.

Operation jack Marathon 61st Manhattan Beach

Operation Jack will be an attempt by Sam Felsenfeld to race at least one marathon a week in 2010 (61 total for the year) to generate attention that will raise funds and nationwide awareness for Train 4 Autism, an organization that works tirelessly to raise money for Autism charities.

I had never met Sam before but his story was quite inspiring.  His final Marathon of the year was held on December 26th.

Once again I found myself wanting to race but my body was still not ready.  The race started at 7:30 a.m. From El Porto  Manhattan Beach (the site of the BFT running Clinic).  I had been talking with Christian Burke in the weeks leading up to the event about doing a slow barefoot marathon. I called Christian on X-mas to wish him good luck I wanted to go watch the race but there was a prospect of rain and I was also supposed to head up to Big Bear with the family before noon. 
Sam and Jack
Still, I really wanted to meet Sam Felsenfeld what he was doing was very special and the fact that it was being done in my home town made it that much more compelling.  Even though I wasn't running I knew it would be a memorable experience.

I woke up before 5 a.m. I still had to pack for Big Bear which I did propmtly.  I decided I would ride my bike down to the starting line so that I could use it to help pace, watch, photograph, and annoy the racers.  I loaded my basket up with a stereo, a thermos full of green tea,  a couple bags of fruit salad, 2 bananas and a few bottles of water for runners if they needed it.
I straped on my Luna Ledvilles and headed down to beach at about 6:45  The weather was brisk around 55 degrees but it looked like the sun would break through (perfect conditions to run fast)
Me, Burke (marathon winner) Allison (womans 1/2 marathon winner and Roger (mens 1/2 marathon 2nd Place)
I posed for a pre race picture with a few of the front runners.

100 feet into the race.  Operation Jack's very own "Sam Felsenfeld" in the front right

We got lucky that day, the original forecast said 60 percent chance of rain, instead we were presented with beautiful skies.   My stomping ground is down below on the sand.  The Course started at the North End of Manhattan Beach on the bike path.

It continued passed my tagged up beach (damn vandals) beach along the bike path until it hits Marina Del Ray at about mile 4.5 The course then turns up Balona Creek till just passed Lincoln Blvd where at mile 6.55 it turns back.  1/2 marathoners run the course once, full  marathoners do it twice.

This pic has no reason for being hear other than I like it

Once the race started I took a few minutes to mingle with the volunteers.  There were a little over 100 people competing and I figured it would be better waited a little while to let the crowd thin out  so I would not get in the way.
Can you find me.  

I turned on some Ziggy Marley and felt quite serene as the positive reggae music had me grinning from ear to ear as I ventured out on the course

The first 2 people I passed were a mom and her daughter from Washington.  The daughter complemented me on my "Luna Sandals"  It turns out Barefoot Ted had come and ran with her running group up in Spokane and she was a fan.  (small world)

No less than 5minutes later and about mile down the course

I ran into  Robert Shackelford "Shacky"
I had never met the guy before but he has been a facebook friend for awhile and also a contributer of the many barefoot forums that I enjoy.  It was great to meet the guy and very cool to see someone racing Luna's

Along the course I ran into many friendly faces including Deo Jaravata  who also competes in a lot of Southern California Ultra's
One of the race organizer Jake Rome is all smiles early in the race as he helps to raise money for good cause.
His race report can be found at:

Five Fingers
This dude was at the BFT Clinic a few weeks earlier.  

I was carrying so much crap in my Bicycle basket I had to stop and make some repairs. I figured I would wait for the leaders to come back to me as poured myself a cup of tea and switched my tunes to some Jamaican ska.

The view up Balona creek was amazing

The leaders finally came by around mile 7.  They were cruising at about 6:45 pace which put them in a good position to run a sub 90 min 1/2 or 3 hour full marathon.
I was having a great time on my bike as I coasted behind  enjoying every bit of being a spectator.   (running is way easier on a bike lol).  I ended up peddling around 40 miles that morning and didn't break a sweat.

The guys pulled ahead  around mile 10.  I stayed back with Allison Atkinson (wife of Jeff Atkinson race director of the Manhattan 5k and Yuletide 5k). She's a real sweetheart and not mention a pretty awesome runner.  She told me that her legs felt great but that her arms were tired.  She had given her 8 year old son a surfboard for X-mas and had spend the last few days in the water with him  (what a cool mom).  She wasn't  concerned with her finishing time.  I told her that she doing great and that she really good shot of beating 1:30 for the half, she acted as if she didn't care

I peddled up ahead to catch a picture of her finish.  Sure enough she turned on the jets as she came down the home stretch.
First place Woman 1:29:36, 5th place overall
I think the only reason she ran so damn fast was so she could get back in the water with her boy

The second half of the Marathon I decided to help pace (and annoy) my buddy Christian Burke.  Heading north up the bike path we hit a strong head wind.  I did my best to pedal out in front at around a 7 minute pace so that he could draft off of me.  It was kind of tricky, he had banked a few minutes towards running sub 3 hour marathon  on the first half  I tried to put him on the exact pace to get him to that goal.  His pace was respectable but a little erratic as he did not regulate his caloric intake the way he had planned.    I offered him up some of my fruit to get him back on track.  At the half way point he was running stride for stride with another runner but by mile 18 he had gained about a 1/4 mile lead.
I kept trying to get a pic of me and Christian as I rode my bike ahead of him. (i must have taken like 15 pics and this is the best I got) Here you see  Christian dieing behind me. What you can't see is me pedaling lethargically laughing as I yelled at him to run faster (what a good friend I am)

How slow can you go.

I was getting board so I drifted back a little and got some high speed footage of his running form.

Eventually he got his spirits back as the calories gave him some fuel.
His lead on the second place runner was growing

I kept bugging Christian the whole way back to run faster. He needed to run about 6:30 for the last quarter of the race to break 3 hours and he needed a 7:15 mile to set a PR.  He had almost noting left the last few miles.  I gave him a banana and the last of fruit salad.
Photo by Billy Yang (thats me in the background)

Christian gave it his best and took the win.  He ended up finishing in 3:06:21 about a minute off his PR.  He's gearing it up for th Avalon 50 miler in two weeks and winning this race was just a bonus for him.  I was proud of the dude for grinding though the pain and putting up with my shenanigans along the way.
Sam and Jack

As soon as Christian was done I peddled back on the course to watch Sam finish his final marathon of the year.  A friend of his brought Jack out to him in a stroller so that they could fish the race together.

What a really cool moment to witness.  About 12 minutes after Christian Sam finished his 61st marathon of the year  in 3rd place running a 3:18:43

View more news videos at:

One man can make a difference!
I felt very honored to shake Sam's hand after the race. His love and devotion to his family is truly inspiring.  Sam is living proof of what the human spirit can accomplish if someone has a positive attitude and a worthy cause. 

Thank you Sam I really think what you are doing is making a difference to make the world a better place!

My family was waiting for me.  Time to get on the bike and jam over to my mom's house.  It was only about a mile away and in less than 20 minutes after leaving the race I was packed in in a jeep and headed up to Big Bear.

The week prior Southern California had been hit with some serious storms.  The main road to Big Bear was closed adding about 40 minutes to the drive as we were forced to go up the back side of the hill.   We headed straight to Snow summit to rent some ski's for the kids and then checked in a to our cabin. We did a little bit of sledding in the dark.

The snow was soft and were having fun

My niece Emily decided to start a snowball fight with me

I think she may have regretted that decision, lol

Emily's snow angel actually looked like an angel, I dig it!
I have very limited experience in the snow and little moments like this make me happy.  
(childlike bewilderment)
We spent the  next day up at Snow Summit

My Lovely family getting ready to hit up the Jacuzzi after a chilly day on the slopes

Along the way we stopped and rolled around in the snow a little bit
Thermal imaging of Lucas and I in the snow

After the hot tub it was time for a treat
Lucas was a little confused with the process for making smores
Our Fruitarian snowman.  This is Southern California, where you gonna find coal or a corn cob pipe anyway?

Sure why not :)  

Our final day we decided to just play around in the snow and go sledding
Eventually a snow fight erupted.  Of coarse my sister was my favorite target.

Emily got her revenge from the night before
A storm was headed in that night.  Big Bear was battening down the hatches and we got down the hill and back to the beach  where we belong.  

The end

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