Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Calico 50K 31 miles in Luna sandals on my 32nd B-day

January 16 2011 myself  and 4 other Lunatics set forth to run the Calico 50k in sandals
Major motion picture? Straight to dvd?
Not exactly.
Just a nonsensical Bourbon Feet blog post
as usual.

I guess I'll pick up where my last post left off.  I got the call from Barefoot Ted, he was on the tarmac at LAX just after 2p.m. Saturday.  I was out the door and at the airport in 15 minutes to pick up Ted and his good buddy Philip.
We packed in my Hyundai, Equus sandals on my feet. (I only added this sentence because I find it amusing that Hyundai just came out with car called the Equus, perhaps I'll pick one up) We were on the road to Calico (1/2 way to Vegas).  I drive like old lady (usually with my heated seat and heater on full blast, the window down with reggae vibrating my ear drums).  Traffic was smooth and we got to Calico a little before sunset.
Philip and Barefoot Ted.

 It  looks like they are the towns security trying to keep me from entering.
"Don't worry dude's I aint after your claim."

Anyway we checked in, picked up our shwag  and went for a stroll around town. My experiment with taping my foot was going well and I was excited to be running the next day.
Rumour has it  (Says me) that the souls of dead miners reside in the numerous wild calico cats that roam the city still searching for that elusive vein of silver.  I took  10 pictures of such felines and all of them came out blurry.  Can you say Paranormal activity?  

I know exactly what the cowboy was thinking  "Stupid city boy would'nt last a day in these hills but he does have on some mighty fine Sandals."

The sun was setting, time to go get some dinner check into the hotel and figure out our game plan for tomorrow.

Pre race dinners at the race site are usually pretty lousy.  We decided to take our chances finding something to eat back in Barstow.  Philip and I had been talking Bourbon of the way up and we were looking forward to wetting our whistles. (Are wet whistles really better than dry ones?)

Barefoot Ted takes his first sips of Bourbon.  I can read his mind  "Mmm Delicious." 

We ended up at some Italian joint and I had a pretty damn good vegi pizza (no cheese) We downed a couple Jim Beam bourbons it was all they had but at least in wasn't Jack Daniels.  Ted was a good sport joining us for our 1st round.

After dinner we found our hotel and it was time to figure out which Luna's to wear for the race? I had been wearing my Equus all day and also brought my Original Luna's and my Ledvilles.
Sneak peak at future Luna's. Ted ran in a pair just like these

Ted even brought me a pair of prototype recycled tire Luna's developed by a friend of mine. Hmm what to do? The Ledvilles were only needed if the course was really technical, which I did not think it would be.  The new sandals seemed nice but I wasn't ready to make the switch. I opted for my original pair that I have been racing on roads in. This meant that I would be sacrificing grip and protection from rocks in exchange for comfort and lightness.

Random tangent

When I was a kid we use to go on 2 vacations a year. The first one to Las Vegas, and the 2nd to Las Vegas as well.  Everytime we passed the Calico Ghost town I'd beg my mom to stop. (As a child the ghost town sounded like the coolest place in the world and ever since seeing that Brady Bunch episode where they got locked up by some crazy miner, I had wanted visit one). Sadly we never stopped. :(

But now my wish had come true (whoop te do) 

Where did we stop when I was kid?

The wonderful Barstow McDonalds build inside of a train car.  I've been there maybe 20 times and I still do hold some nostalgia for it. As luck would have our hotel  was right across the street.  Did I stop to eat there?

No way Jose!

Back to business

 Driving to the starting line about 30 mins before the race my car said it was 41 degrees outside.  It felt cold but not that chilly.  For some dumb reason I decided to wear my Moeben tank top.  Mother nature blessed (or cursed) me with the ability to grow my own shirt but for some reason I did not think that would be enough that day.  I also wore my USTAF hat and shorts a pair of Moeben Camo Fleece sleeves (size XS) and a pair of CEP calf sleeves (size Mens elite).  I covered my right foot in some fancy $.99 store athletic tape before lacing up my Standard Luna's via a somewhat traditional method.
Barefoot Ted and I about 15 minutes before the race began

As I approached the starting line I saw some friends.  Normally I would head to the very front of the pack, going out a fast pace with the leaders.  That was not the game plan today I had no (initial) plans on racing.  I was simply there to see where my body was at and hopefully be able to finish the race in one piece. I tried to remain optimistic but really I was scared that this would be a day from hell that I would be back on the disabled list.  Running wise things had become to pedestrian and at this point in my life I needed to know where my body was at.  I had only run about 10 miles total in the last three weeks and I was ready to get the ball rolling (hopefully not over the side of a cliff)

Worse come to worse I'd get a T-shirt with my B-day on it

On your marks, get set,  GO!

The leaders went out out at about 6 to 7 minute pace, while I hung back running much slower for the first 2 miles before settling around at a 9min 30sec mile going uphill.  I was out for a stroll enjoying the scenery.

Photo by Ben Jones

For the first hour or so I held back resisting my desire to run fast as chatted with a few other racers.  My body was holding up surprisingly well.  My Achilles was okay so far and the tape felt good on my foot.  The race was going better than expected but I knew at ant second things could take a turn for the worse.  So far the terrain was simple to navigate and Luna's were preforming perfectly.  The course was full of soft sand and gravel.  I heard other runners complain but that's what I'm use to. I love the feeling of my foot sinking into the ground.  At times I wished I had been barefoot. 
Looking at the course profile I expected miles 2-10 to feel like work but they didn't.  All my training at the beach has made me a really good uphill runner with inclines between 5 and 20 percent.  I felt like I was on flat ground.  About 8 miles into the race I decided to increase my tempo.  By this time there was around 50 or so runners in front of me.  Winning the race was out of the question but surely I could start moving up the ranks.

Photo by Roccco  

One of the reasons I needed to run this race was too gain some more experience racing in Luna's on the trail.     The first 10 miles I could have ran with my eyes closed.  Around mile 10 it was time to start implementing some strategy.  When you run in sandals on a rocky course it's important watch where your feet are going, you become more in tune with the trail and can feel every rock or  smooth section of dirt your foot lands on.  Neurons start firing in your brain and well planned  steps provide instant gratification. At this point it was easy to get into "the zone"  as my mind and body worked together conquering the trail.

At mile 13 I could choose to take a different path and do the 30k instead.  Hmmm?  No way.  I was feeling good (almost as if I were a competitive runner) I was passing a couple people each mile and enjoying the morning out on the trail.  It was time for another climb but this time it was a little steeper.  My legs were spinning beautifully as I dashed passed about 15 people during the next few miles.  At mile 16 I passed the first place woman which was  a good sign that I was at least being competitive.

Their map
My map from gps (Proof I did not cheat)

Then out of nowhere at mile 16.5 my Achilles started screaming at me "Stop running you dumb ass." I was in excruciating pain and kicking myself for not choosing the 30k option.  I had a good feeling going into the race that this may happen but since it felt okay the whole first half, it came as a surprise. I slowed my pace wee bit bent my knees a little more and focused on lifting my legs rather than pushing off.  After about a mile the pain subsided as quickly as it had appeared and I got back to business.

Photo by Roccco
I'd passed a bunch kids on the uphill climb (which is my foray) but now I was at the top of the mountain nowhere to go but down.  The trail was nearly vertical for the next quarter mile and my sandals have about the same amount of grip as a paper plate.  To make matters worse I am no trail runner. I lack the confidence to be be aggressive going downhill which can only gained  from experience.  The kids I had passed on the up hill sailed nimbly (that's a fun word to say "nimbly") passed me and out of site in no time.  I stayed within my boundaries safely climbed to the bottom.  For the rest of the race we would play a cat and mouse game where I would pass them on every uphill and they would regain the lead during the technical downhill sections.

The next 3 miles consisted of a gradual down slope on gravel and sand.  It was pretty easy to get my legs going and I was running about a 7 minute mile.  I was carrying 2 water bottles so I had plenty to drink.  The weather heated up to around the mid sixties.  Each aid station had only one jug of fluid to refuel with and twice I found myself with the dilemma "Do I wait in line to fill my bottle (at least 2 minutes) or ration my fluids and make up for it at the next station?"  On both occasions I decided not to stop and run on through.
photo by Joe Orawczy

I was running a good race by this point but my body felt soft.  I did not have the passion to really push myself.  I felt stronger than I expected but the lack of training was evident.  On the plus side I was really enjoying my sandals.  On occasion a golf ball sized rock would roll over on top of my foot and I would fling it 20 or so feet with no pain. It was a very empowering feeling.  At no time did I even come close to stubbing a toe or cutting up my foot.  Pebbles  occasionally would find their way into the arch of my right foot.  I'm not sure if this was a reflection of inadequacies in my form or if I didn't lace up tight enough.  To a tender foot this may be very painful.  I decided to embrace acupressure and only shake them out once or twice.
photo by Joe Orawczyk
 photo by Joe Orawczyk

Well I'm getting board with typing and I was getting sick of running.  Miles 26-30 were pretty technical I was hoping to gain some ground here but the terrain kept me from doing so.

Photo by Ben Jones

At about mile 30 I popped my head over a hill and saw the Mayer of Badwater Ben Jones taking pictures.  It was only a few more steps to Calico.  I climbed the final hill from the parking lot into the heart of town and through the finish line in 8th place 4:32:30

The feet held of well.  The tape had done it's job although my foot was trying to bust out it.  My feet felt good and I had no blisters or cuts.

On a scale of 1 to 10 on how the race went I would have to give it a 9.  My body felt remarkably good.  My Achilles was sore and will be for a few days (that was inevitable).  Going into the race I gave myself about a 5 percent chance of finishing 4:45 or better which I had done with little effort.  In hindsight if I had known my body would hold up that well I think I would have pushed myself a lot harder at the beginning with the potential to shave off 15 or so minutes potentially placing in the top 3 and with well trained legs maybe a chance at the win, but should of could of, would ofs mean nothing. I had run the race the way I had planned and placing was not the goal. (although it would have been nice).  I stayed within my limits, my body is healthy and I am proud of my efforts and everyone who beat me definitely deserved to  and I congratulate them.

I do have one regret however.
I couldn't find any saloon doors to walk through (No wonder why Calico became a ghost town)

Why am I wearing a Shirt?

I bet you hardly recognize me
I was parched and needed to replenish my body with some liquids.

Famous artist rendition of events proceeding the event

  Lucky for me I brought a tube of NUUN.  I grabbed  a beer and used the tube to pop off the cap so I could get some much needed Libations in me.  
Attention NUUN execs:
(I did drink some Nuun Before and after the race as well)

Time to sit back relax drink a few cold ones and enjoy the afternoon

Sada Crawford womans Back to back Champion.
 I presume she hurried off home to carve herself a rocking chair with her well deserved trophy

4th place finisher
Yep I lost to this guy! He's recreating his stride to the finish line in this pic. check out the movie Running on the sun if you want to see him in action
Former Badwater Champion and highly respected friend Eric Clifton.  He came in about 10 minutes ahead of me in forth place.  I had a really nice chat with him and his lovely wife after the race.  Good job Eric.

Some how Ted snuck through the finish line with out me seeing.  He ended up Placing 3rd in the womans 40-49 year old division.  I'm not quite sure why or how he got in that division but that's what the results say, so good for him, ( I mean her. :)

Ted was in great mood after the race his new sandals had performed well and his body felt strong.  He had beat the time he expected by about 30 mins and is amped for the Copper Canyons. (So am I!)

My new buddy Philip came in all smiles.  he's really cool guy and floated into the finish line.  Well done my friend.  I really dug his brown leather laces that he made himself.  It looked almost like he was barefoot.  He was also kind enough to give me pair to try out.
Last member Peter finishing in style

After the whole crew had finished we sat around  talking for a bit before it was time to get going. 

On the way to the car I almost stepped on this little guy.

Ted diverting trafffic so the tarantula could make it safely across the parking lot

Once our new friend was safe we hit the road back to L.A. It was good day.  I had a great time with Ted and Philip and it was really cool to meet Jules and Peter

After dropping Ted and Philip off at the airport I headed over to moms house for some B-day Love.  My sister Baked me a delicious Vegan Pecan Pie and my nephews gave me my very first Pillow pet.

I was stoked on the new pet now I just need to teach him to stop humping my bourbon.
Oringal Luna's with a leather top the next day

Ted was nice enough to hook me up with a prototype Luna sandal.  The same type he ran in over the weekend.  I considered racing in them as well but decided against it.  they will be on my feet for the next few weeks

Monday morning it was 75 Degrees at the beach I jumped on my bike for easy going 20 mile recvoery ride to get some of the lactic acid moving out of my muscles
Eventually I copped a squat on the beach with a frosty beverage a book, and some Positive reggae vibrations.

Every day must come to end and so shall this blog post.

Thanks for reading


  1. Dude!!!

    Was great hanging out with a bunch of Lunatics. Next >>> Copper Canyon Ultra Marathon.


  2. I look forward to whatever Lunacy the future shall bring.

  3. I love this post. So fun! We should have hung out with you guys! Congrats on the finish and hopefully we'll see you at some other runs.

  4. Awesome post, you are running well whether you like it or not. You doing the Copper Canyon run. Take care of those feet.

  5. Congrats on the run! I just met up with Barefoot Ted today for a little running talk and clinic. I'll be doing CCUM with you all...looking forward to it!

  6. Great post, you seem like the kinda guy a person just wants to hang with. Cheers!