Thursday, December 29, 2011

Operation Jack 2011

Last year I had the privilege to witness an  amazing event.  Sam Felsenfeld had ran 60  marathon's that year raising awareness and collecting donations for Autism research.  His final race of the year was to be held in Manhattan Beach (my home town).  This was one event I didn't want to miss but alas an injury  made that out of the question.  I was however able to take in the event on My bicycle and watch my fried Christian Burke win the Marathon. 
and then watch Sam cross the finishline push his Autistic son Jack through the finishline. 
(a memory I won't soon forget)

Well about a month or 2 ago I found out the Operation Jack Marathon would return to Manhattan Beach
My buddy Jake Rome was getting things organized.  
Everything was looking good until 2 weeks before the event.  On my last day In Austin about 2 hours before leaving back home fellow Lunatic Dylan challenged me to a sprint to the car.  
I was unprepared and didn't really want to do it but he kept egging me on.  Eventually I gave in and on my fourth step i hit uneven ground and totally messed up my right foot. 
To make matters worse I was supposed t o be raising money for the event and at this point I could not commit to running in it and it felt wrong to ask for donations and then cop out.

For the past two weeks I have only ran about 40 miles and nearly all of them were slow and most of them painful.  It might be a broken bone or a stained tendon I really don't know?  

3 days before X-mas I didn't think I would be participating.

2 days before X-mas I decided to try running a few fast miles at the track in my Luna's and see how I felt. well I made it through 2 sub six miles and felt horrible and quit.

The next day I tried wearing shoes running on the strand thinking maybe that would help.  
It felt even worse!

 Late X-mas eve I called up Jake and asked if I could switch to the 1/2 marathon instead.  I really wanted to participate and maybe I could stumble my way to the finish if it were only 13 miles away instead of 26.

I had a great X-mas with the family and got sleep before midnight.
My car at 6 a.m. had a nice glazing of Ice on the windshield.
(that's a first)

I drove over to mom's house jumped on my bike and  headed down to the beach where the the race was to be held.  At this point I wasn't that optimistic about how my body would preform.  The bike ride to the beach was all most all down hill felt taxing (what a wimp)  I had been nursing a cold for a few days and felt pretty weak.  As I neared the beach heading down Roscrans past Highland  runners were starting to congregate. Their was a good vibe in the air and my spirits began to rise.
#1 bib.
 I quickly ran into my buddy Jake Rome.  Every week or so I'll bump into the dude on the sand and we run a few miles together.  Jake does a lot of hard work for the community through his organization C.O.R.E.  and I am thankful to have him as a friend.  He surprised me with the #1 bib.
Another day in Paradise  Summer is right around the corner
 My normal stomping grounds lay right below the bike path that we would be racing on.

Watching the crowd assemble I saw a dude wearing Leadville 100 sweatshirt and a bunch of people wearing shirts from the Ridgecrest 50k I had done earlier in the month.
Over 300 people showed up but very few from my hometown.  It would be up to me to represent Manhattan Beach.
I did run into a few friends from San Diego,  the beautiful sisters Vanessa and Eli.

At the starting line there was I nice mix of people including two barefooters.  One of the dudes commented when he saw my Luna's "Maybe next year you can run it barefoot." this fired me up a bit.
I lined up  next to Ultra Super Stud Dave James. When I last raced against the dude It was 2 years ago at the 2009 Javelina Jundred at that event he went on to shatter the course record running 100 miles in 14 hours and 20 mins.  He is more of trail runner and his goal was to run a sub 2:45 to qualify for the New York marathon which his wife had done  2 weeks prior.

I would have loved to race against him on this day but I wasn't sure if I could even run 5 miles and 26 seemed to be a much dumber decision than 13.

My game plan was pretty simple go out a sub six minute pace and try to keep it the whole way.  

Out of the gates Dave James and I took off flying at just over a 5 minute pace.  Both of us were battling colds and I was leaving a trail of snot in my wake (sorry to everyone behind me).  We were  going a little too fast and trying to have a conversation  at the same time.  (not very smart). My ego didn't want to let him take the lead (especially since he was going to run twice as far)
Photo by Surf Daddy Photography
  I kept my foot on the throttle and after about .75 of a mile he dropped back and I had the bike path to myself (well myself and and the bike pacer who turne out to be some dude I met while racing the Long Beach Marathon a few months ago).
I settled into about 5:45 minute mile waiting for the pain in my foot to erupt.  The last two weeks were pretty miserable but today I felt alright.  through the first 4 miles I was fine.  At this point I knew that even if things took a turn for the worse I would be able to finish the race.  
After about 4.5 miles the course hits Marina Del Ray after a crossing a small bridge the course heads inland along Balona Creek for 2 miles until the turn around aid station.   
Fatigue was settling in, a combination of being sick, and my injury which kept me from proper training.  My Pace dropped to just above a 6 minute's.   As I started the return trip I would find out how big my lead was.   I expected Dave to be right on my ass but there was another guy who I gauged to be around 1 minute behind me.  followed by Dave another minute or so behind him.  Also to my surprise the barefoot dude was only about 4 or 5 minutes back. As I passed him I said with a smart ass grin 

"Maybe  next year you can run in sandals?"

1 minute is not a very big lead with over 6 miles to go.  I wouldn't say I was hauling ass by any stretch of the word but I was hanging on.  My pace was still close to a 6 mins and if the dude behind me was gonna catch up he would have to run his butt off.  The whole way back we would be running into a head wind and If I could keep this pace  I'd be happy.

With 4 miles to go I caught a glimpse of him over my shoulder still about a minute back.  This was a good sign but I wasn't out of the woods yet.  What about my damn foot injury?  The pain which I expected to come early was maybe 25% what I expected and still had a good chance of spoiling my race.

2 miles to go I had held aconsistant pace and had just climbed the only hill on the course.  One final  look back and I knew this was my race to win.

It wasn't my fastest finish and it wasn't the toughest course but under the circumstances I was pleased with the result. 1 hour and 18 minutes 39 seconds after I had started I was done with the race and had finished in first place.  
What excited me even more is that my foot did not feel broken.
About 10 seconds after crossing the line I got interviewed by the
(for some reason the embedded feature for this video I couldn't get to work)

The camera guy remembered me from the Hermosa 24 when he shot this video below
That was a good day too.
A few minutes after I was done the Barefoot guy strolled in.  I congratulated the dude and posed for this picture with him.
Other finishers include this 9 year old kid who ran an amazing 1:37.  He was crying  at the finish line because it was not fast enough for his dad's approval.  Poor little guy.  I'm proud of you! and as for  for your father  "What a jerk!"

My legs felt pretty damn good and now it was time for me to head out on my bike and cheer the runners still racing.  If I had known I would feel this good afterwards I would ran the marathon but I'm proud of the choice I made.
Hello Chica!
How can you not love a a barefoot girl in a kilt,
Nice Sketchers Shacky 
This dude was tough here's his Race report
 This lady was roller blading bundled up from head to toe carrying an umbrella? I respect her style and she was stoked when I told her my opinion :)
 Hello Sam.

Sam has been  pretty busy and not been able to get the training in he would like.  I caught up with him for a few minutes and had a nice conversation with one of my hero's.

By the time I got Balona Creek I ran into Dave he was in first place by a few 100 yards.  I cheered him on and he was nice enough to ask how my foot was doing.  What a cool dude.
"Go Dave."

At the half way aid station I ran into Mr Burke the 2010 champ who was in town from Spain. After shooting the shit for a few minutes he asked for a ride back to his car on my handle bars?
If it were 1987 and I was still 8 years old this would be kick ass bike but it isn't 80's anymore and I'm over 5ft tall and my bike is a  POS.

Lucky for me Christian is only about 4 ft tall Unfortunately I'm not much stronger than the  8 year old my bike was made for. ;(
We had a good time none the less.
Riding my bike gave me a second chance to thank all the volunteers and now I shall thank them again.  Thank you to everyone who helped out.  You did good thing and it was nice to see so many smiles.
"Barefoot Alfredo"
(at least that's what his shirt said)
It turns out the 1/2 marathon was enough for Shacky and Vanessa.  They are running in the Across The Years 24 hour race out in AZ this New Years Eve and felt they needed to save their legs. 
(That sounds like fun?)
That little dude on their backpacks looks strangely familiar? 
 Can you say copyright infringement.

Sam was catching up to me quickly and I wanted to see him cross the line so I took off and arrived in the nick of time
 Congrats Sam!

When I got back I found found out that Dave had won the race in 2:48 a little slower than he wanted but a solid finish none the less.
Congrats Dave!

Thank you for letting me a part of your race. The Operation Jack marathon raised over $40,000.  If you would like to help contribute please DONATE HERE. or click the link on the top right corner of my blog.

One man can make a difference! Sam's love and devotion to his family is truly inspiring. He is living proof of what the human spirit can accomplish if someone has a positive attitude and a worthy cause. Thank you Sam  what you are doing is making a difference to make the world a better place!

(they called me a powerhouse lol)

Once again my Luna Sandals preformed admirably and I even scored a one of kind trophy.

Check out what it does.

Next Up.

After the race I headed down to the Pachanga casino. To go meet up with some family.  I am not a gambler but figured i sign up for one of there club cards.  To make a long story short I entered the casino with $8 in my sponge bob wallet (I wasn't there to lose)  and left with over $500.  Well because of this  turn of events I decided to treat myself to a little adventure.

You know that 24 hour race I mentioned Shacky and Vanessa were running on News Year Eve?
I contacted the race director yesterday and it looks like I'm headed to Arizona tomorrow morning.  
It's gonna be fun

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lunatics Invade Austin

Do I really want to go there?
I don't think this look suits me very well!
Everybody says Austin is different.
Maybe only 75% of the people will be wearing cowboy boots?

I have been to most of the big cities in Texas including Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and  El Paso  other than the plethora of Disc golf courses  of  which I've played about 20 in the state (including the 2001 World championships)  I haven't been too impressed.

I got a good feeling about this trip.

I found myself at lax around the crack a dawn and who strolls up behind me? 

The dude from  LAMFO.
The trip hasn't even began yet and things are going well.

I kept looking for the dude who wears the robot box on his head.  Then low and behold  he strolled by  carrying his cardboard headgear at his side.  I initially thought about taking his picture but he has created a persona of anonymity for a reason? Which I  regarded with respect.
When I arrived in Austin I was picked up by some random stranger.  Her name was Rachel and she had offered to take care myself  Bft and Luna's PR Monkey Dylan for the weekend.

It was freaking cold!
As I waited for my ride  I stood  shivering with frozen toes wishing I ran for a slipper company. Why don't they hold this expo in the summer. (oh well)

Rachel turned out to be a pretty cool chick with very little persuation I convinced her to go Disc golfing. almost immediately.  She had never played before but knew where a few courses were.

Good thing because I was playing Barefoot.  
Whats with the dog on the bottom it look's he's headed off to the Guillotine.

1st stop Peace Park
All the baskets were gone Odd? (what gives?)
time to go somewhere else I guess.  Luckily Rachel knew about another course near by.

Disc golf take two.
Bartholomew park , I think? 
Rachel was a good sport  and made some sweet shots.

Rachel's home was filled with cool crap
I sat around while she headed to the airport to pick up Dylan and Barefoot Ted.
At dinner we were joined by fellow Mas Loco Josue his wife Paula and our friend from the Born to Run Ultra Ben Morgan.

Later I picked up some Fizzy Yellow Texas stuff from a gas station.
The Lone Star was okay but as the night wore on  I sampled some finer ales while teaching Dylan the intricacies of Monopoly Deal.

There was now 4 of us meaning that someone had to ride in the backseat
This has been outlawed in Cali since the 80's.
I guess I should of mentioned it by now but the reason I was in Texas in the first place was to represent Luna Sandals at the biggest running Expo in the country (I might be making that part up).

Our display was modest compared to the bigger companies 
But I think it got the job done
El Presidente was a little stressed out at first. Our booth was located at the farthest end of the floor and he was eager to engage the consumers.

Ted quickly found his happy place and anyone within an earshot was spellbound by his enthusiasm.
He loved showing off the first page of chapter 25 in Born to Run

I decided to wander the floor, make some connections and maybe pick up some shwag.  It was cocktail hour  and I didn't want to be rude saying no to free drink.
A few booths to our side was  Ink N' Burn.  They are a really cool apparel company from SoCal and it was nice to see some familiar faces.

The next morning The event was sponsoring a 5k.  Running stores from all over the country had brought some speedy  dude's to compete not to mention sponsored athletes working the event for the vendors.  The competition would be tough.
Ted Decided to sleep in
Dylan and  I were ready to represent.
Ben whom would also wear Luna's picked us up well before dawn.
my favorite ad at the whole expo!
I was hoping some of the other sandal vendors would have runners in the event but nobody else had a sandal worthy of racing in. Our closest competition at the expo was  Invisible shoes , they make a decent product but it's more of novelty huearche geared towards people who like to talk about running rather than actually do it.  Once  you run in a Original Luna Sandal it's very evident that they are in another league in respect to comfort, fit, and most important to me the ability to mold to your feet.

It still  astounds me every time I look at my sandal and can see my foot in its shape or when I run through a puddle leaving footprints on ground as if my feet were bare.  It makes me proud of the company I represent
Life's to short not to have a little fun.
A few minutes before the race I was offered a running skirt with built in tights if I wore it while I ran.  They didn't have to ask me twice.  The week prior I was running in the coldest event I had ever participated in and this fwlt like a close 2nd. The race was about to start and I only had time to slip the skirt over my shorts  Although I wished I was shirtless I decided to sport a Luna Tee. I was wearing way to much clothes to be speedy.
The competition was pretty fast I stayed near the front of the pack but never really found a groove.
The running skirt was really comfortable and superbly constructed.  My buddy Chris Hawsen wore one at the NYCBR.  They were also a sponsor of the Krispy Kreme Challenge I did a few weeks prior. This won't be the last time you see me wearing it.  
I didn't win the men's division (some Kenyan did) but I was able to fend off all the women runners (sadly I'm good at that). I was however the first person to finish in sandal's and also 1st in the skirt division.

After the race we got cleaned up and headed back to the expo
Barefoot Ted showing off Luna Sandals to Bryon Powell of  He has probally the best Ultrarunning website on the web and rock his bumper sticker on the back of my car.
That night we headed down to 6th St. to catch some live music and have a little fun. It had been along day so we didn't stay out real late.  While there I heard a really sweet  reggae version of Don't Worry be Happy  by a local country band that was way better than the link I provided.  
The Austin Music scene rocks!

Up early the next morning for the final day of the expo
That back seat of the truck was pretty chilly so Dylan to dressed a little spiffier.
We were working really hard  
Everybody we came across loved Luna sandals. Even Cyclops.
Posing with some friends we made from the next booth over.
The morning went by pretty fast and before we new it we were packing up.  The show was over.
After meeting up with Josue and his wife for lunch. I was talked into going for trail run with him and Ben.
Hanging out with Ben really made me feel like I was in Texas He's a good old boy, who likes blast country music while riding around in his jeep.  From his backyard balcony he tossed out some corn and with in minutes few deer came up to chow down.

As for the trail run by the time we got there it was pretty much dark.  Lucky for me I had picked up a headlamp at the running event.  Josue said his belly was full and asked if I would take it easy on him out on the trail.  "Nice bluff dude!" within a few minutes he was flying and I was left in the dust.  The dude is quite the trail runner and has won some of Texas's toughest Ultras.  I was just trying not to hurt myself in the dark.
Texas sharks
After the run Ben, his lady, Rachel, Dylan and I headed back down to 6th st. for some billiards and shuffleboard.
The competition was fierce
I had to channel my inner monkey.

After awhile we decided to hit the streets and make some friends.
Merry X-mas from Luna Sandals and the rest of the gang
(Who the rest of the gang is I have no freaking clue!)
I proformed my best dance moves in the middle of street In hopes of courtship with a beautiful lady.
My dance moves worked a little too well!
  The X-mas tree even gave me a tootsie pop which I forked over to some homeless dude playing the guitar.
As the night wore on things got a little weird
In Austin it seems the weirder  you get the better looking women you score?
Rachel was the only one of us to get any action.
 We came across this  soldier and I totally caught her playing with his light up dingaling.

We decided to call in a night before any of us got into trouble.

Rachel's dog Baxter saying goodbye
After posing for a pictures with Rachel's chickens we decided to spend our final morning in Austin Dillydallying downtown.
I snapped this photo from the back of the Pick Up truck.  The taggers In Austin are pretty awesome.

The Capital Building
Dumb ass is front of the capital
We were able to sneak in and take some photo's before they realized a bunch sandal wearing hippies had infiltrated their inner sanctum.

We were promptly looked up.
Lucky for us that Monkey necklace Barefoot Ted always wears around his neck is really a lock pick and we were able to make are get away because the security guards were all wearing cowboys boots and were no match for the awesome speed we possessed in our Luna Sandals
Dylan decided to wear the capital as a hat.
I am great, and how are you Mr. space frog?
After Lunch we met up with Josue and Ben one last time at  this really amazing pole.
Still relegated to the back of the pick up I built me some socks.
Warming the hands and chilling the buns.
We eneded up running along the same trail I had ran the night before in the dark

Rachel was digging her new Luna's
After fooling around for a little too long we hurried back to the car so that we could catch are flights back home.
Austin was a pretty cool place.

The running Event was total success for Luna Sandals.  Ted and Dylan were awesome to work with.
I had great time in Austin and look forward to returning some day.  (preferably in the summer)
Special thanks to fellow Lunatic's Ben and Rachel for carting us around you really made me feel at home and if you are ever in L.A. you are welcome in my home.
And thanks to all the vendors who filled my suitcase with cool stuff
Especially the Trigger Point Grid (foam roller) Which lead my flight attendant to believe i train attack dogs for a living.