Griffith Park Trail Marathon Relay Recap

So this is kind of funny. Literally two weeks ago the home girl Tiffany from RunningHutch.com hit me up on Facebook and asked if I would be interested in participating in the Griffith Park Trail Marathon Relay, hosted by the amazing folks at A Runner’s Circle. For those that don’t know, ARC is THE premiere running store in Los Angeles. Anywho…she gave me all the details and she was forming a team. The fun thing about runners is we are basically fearless! Tiffany helped form the team and before I knew it I was on a team with three other strangers and we would be giving it our all at a relay. Neat.

From L to R: Matt Runner 4, Me Runner 1, Gillian Runner 3, Tiffany Runner 2, Mike Runner 5

Early morning in Griffith Park and we couldn’t of asked for better summer trail running weather. It was cool and overcast! That meant the climbs wouldn’t be to terrible since the heat wouldn’t be as high. We all met and laughed and discussed our strategy. We didn’t have any goal time or pace in mind…we wanted to just enjoy ourselves. All of us were seasoned and experienced runners so this was gonna be great. This was my first relay so I was REALLY excited. I was first up!

The crew in order! Boosted from RunningHutch.com

The first mile and a half was a steep climb. It was a straight shot up. By the time I got to mile marker one I was winded but kept going forward. I was the first runner out, so I wanted us to maintain a good place in the relay. Once I reached the top of the climb I enjoyed two miles of fire road and recovery. I had an even pace and focused on just staying consistent. I felt like the climb took a lot out of me, but running with Michelle on the trails I’ve learned some things that made it easier for me to handle the run. At the end of the fire road was my favorite thing…DOWN HILL SUICIDE! This is where I shine. I turned on the after burners and SHREDDED the hills going down. I blasted past at least 10 runners. I went so fast my shoe came untied. In an effort to be safe I stopped to tie it…but I was pretty mad because I was FLYING. I flew all the way down into the Old Los Angeles Zoo which is where home base was. I came down the trail and didn’t even see my team cheering me on as I came through, they were there :). Next up was Tiffany and she was in the chute ready to rock. I came in so hot I almost knocked her over! We laughed and she took off on her great loop!

Our team did VERY well! Every did an amazing job on their loop! Strong performances by everyone! We placed 12th out of 39 in the open co-ed division with a time of 4:00:49! WE KILLED IT! I was blown away and really excited! Our team had a great chemistry! Everyone was so friendly, warm, and encouraging. There was amazing communication and the energy was spot on. I would totally relay with these folks again for sure! After we got our relay batons Matt had a real fun idea to capture the moment. It looked something like this…

As you can tell…none of us could handle it we all laughed! So much fun!!! Then we took the normal people team we did it type photo of sorts…

It was a great Sunday! These guys are great!!!! Magic certainly happens when you run. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…running is better with friends…even if you just met them 15 minutes before the race HAHA!

Check out:

Tiffany: RunningHutch.com
Gillian: ThatsG.Com

Finding Peace on the Trails

I am starting to get back to normal. I’ve been having a very interested month or so. One thing that occurred I didn’t believe would…I reached marathon burnout…and it was bad. After sitting back and really being honest with myself, I realized that I pretty much have been nonstop since 2012 with racing from here, there, and everywhere. There really hasn’t been any real downtime. Which explains why my times have pretty much been consistent and not really improving. You can’t improve if you aren’t training toward something. After Boston, I was on such a high. I ran Big Sur and enjoyed the scenery but my focus began be redirected to how many hills there were. I stopped enjoying the run…I didn’t realize this until a few weeks after. And let’s be real, by the time OC Marathon got here I was mentally fried. I was ready to just be done for a while. I wanted to just relax and not think about racing. I didn’t want to race. I needed to stop before it stopped being fun. Running is a gift, and there is a such thing as to much of a good thing.

So last month, I started getting back to what I love. Running just because I can. Running because my legs would take me places…not because I had to compete or show up…but just run. I had forgotten about just running. This is so important. I linked up with Leslie and we climbed Mt. Baldy…just because we could. That was the start of something big for me. Then I linked up with Michelle and we have been shredding hills and canyons and mountains for a few weeks now. I not only connect with the trail beneath me, but I connect with my mind and spirit. The trails and mountains are where I love to run. Fresh air (even if it is thin), beautiful inspiring scenery, animals, and running water. So many beautiful vivid colors and the ability to literally run along the clouds. THAT is what I love. That is something that has inspired me. That is what I have grown to appreciate. So that is what I will do.

I want to get faster and stronger and running technical trails will make that happen. Yesterday I had the chance to run with Keira and Michelle.We went and tackled Mt. Baldy and spend 5 hours running, chatting, and connecting. I was really humbled to be able to run with elite women (who hold course records and win 100 milers by the way), and even more astonished that I could keep up with them, especially on the down hills! What I learned from them yesterday is that it is important to always do what you love and appreciate you life. So that’s what I’m gonna do.

I signed up for El Moro 50K in October today. El Moro is a beautiful scenic trail in Crystal Cove that hugs the coast line of Orange County. I can’t wait to earn my Ultra status. Additionally, I want to run more trail races. I find that I connect more being in mountains and deserts. Nothing wrong with road races, and I am not quitting them completely just adjusting to new venues and trying new things. I still have my favorite road races that I will continue to do, but I want to really start to focus my race calendar on those races that I love and really hone in on those bucket list items and goals.

I haven’t had this much fun just relaxing and enjoying the run in some time and I am glad I found my happy again. I still have some things to work through, but life will take care of itself. Always remember to live the life you always imagined. No one else is in charge or obligated to make you happy, that’s your job. Have honest conversations with yourself and make plans to get back to your happy place. Life is too short, and the world is to beautiful to be caught up in nonsense! Ain’t nobody got time for that. Do what makes you happy and live your best life!

Orange Mud Transition Towel Giveaway

Have you ever gone for a run on a trail, or spent some time at the beach and wished you had the opportunity to change on the go without having to worry about exposing your “zip code” to all of the world? How about this…after a run we all know how we can feel yucky having being covered in awesome. The sweat. The dirt. The grime. The last thing you want is to do is track that onto your seats or make connection with your leather on a hot day. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there was a lovely doo-dad that was available in the marketplace that catered to these needs? Wouldn’t it be awesome if it came in a variety of different colors, and utilized a wonderfully soft fabric? Lucky for you…such a magic doo-dad exists. Introducing the Orange Mud Transition Towel.

The whole idea of the transition towel is a functional towel that allows you to change out of your gear into another set of clothes with ease…without having to worry about if your towel will fall and expose your “biscuits and gravy”. The towel secures around your waist using a really comfortable and easy to use belt clip that is integrated right into the towel. So wrap it around your waist. clip into place and change with ease (yes I just made that up).

Now, you still may be sweaty and gross and the last thing you want to do is get your car all funky, right? Simple. use the integrated zipper and transition your towel into a hoodie and slide it over your car seat. You can now sit on your car seat with peace of mind, knowing that you won’t have to rush to the cash wash to get that vacuum out. Simply remove the towel from the seat when you get home and toss it in the washing machine.

The best part is, it comes in 14 great colors, one of which is sure to match your personality. I have three of these beauties and my favorite color is purple! The colors are vivid and bold!

This is certainly a product every runner should own, especially if you love the trails and the ultra lifestyle. If you head to the beach for surfing or other marine activities, this is an amazing item as well. Towel to hoodie in seconds!

Don’t forget to check out Orange Mud and their awesome line of HydraQuiver hydration systems! I run with mine all the time. Orange Mud prides themselves in producing products with the highest quality materials right here in the USA. No bouncing, no chafing, no problems! I own a single barrel and a double and feel so sad when I can’t or don’t run with it. It really is one of my favorite things.

If you use discount code ABLINZROCKS you can save 15% on anything on their website!

So…you want one? I am giving one anyway! One transition towel to one lucky US resident. You even get to pick the color! A $39.95 value yours free! So let’s go!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

You Had ONE Job! Don’t Die! The Mt. Baldy Climb with Leslie

Today was pretty awesome I must say.  A week ago I solidified plans to climb a mountain that sits in my backyard. One of the highest mountains in Southern California, Mt. Baldy…also known to some as Mt. San Antonio (but no one calls it that).  Anywho, you may recall that the lovely Leslie offered to come along for the ride. I being the happy guy I am said the more the merrier. Since I have never attempted anything like this before, it would be good to have an ultra runner who has scaled this beast numerous times come with me.

She got to my house at 6:30 this morning. I hopped in her cute car and we zipped 15 minutes down the freeway and headed up 3000 feet to the parking area in from of the San Antonio trail that would take us up to above 10,000 feet above sea level…the summit of Mt. Baldy.  So let me tell you right now, Leslie and I hit it off immediately. She’s funny! She’s totally adventurous! Her smile is infectious, and she was very easy to talk to. I definitely made a new friend today. Especially since she surprised me and wore her INKnBURN Flutter tech tee! Yes we were the talk of the trail.

At the trail head beginning our day

After we suited up, he began our climb at the trail head. The first thing we saw in the shadows were the San Antonio falls…we will get back to those in a bit. We continued our climb and our great conversation. Now, there are two ways  up this mountain. There is The Devil’s Backbone trail (which is how we descended) and the Ski Hut route. We walked up through the trees, and the bushes, and the rocks, and past the lizards and made our way up toward the Ski Hut. This climb took us about an hour. Along this portion of the climb we encountered some narrow paths and loose rocks. So, if you aren’t experienced on trails that are this technical I want to caution you to be careful, be aware of your surroundings, and bring a guide with you if possible. That’s where the fun title of this blog came from. We promised one another neither one of us would plummet to the rocky basin below us…and trust me on parts of the trail it’s easy to do. So every time one of us would loose our footing and recover we would yell ‘ YOU HAD ONE JOB!” and we would just burst into laughter…that was funny for 5 hours!! It also served as a reminder to be careful. No one wants to see anyone get hurt. Now, don’t get the idea that we were up there being reckless, we were slow and VERY careful but even when you’re the most careful things happen. So heads up! But any who. You definitely feel the climb and the elevation change. It happens pretty quickly. But the views are absolutely magnificent. The weather today was also PERFECTION! The skies were clear, we were in the low to mid 70s with a delightful breeze. We couldn’t have asked for better conditions out there. Finally we reached the Ski Hut. Yes this is where you can rent skies during snow season lol.

One of the great views from Ski Hut
Ski Hut Panorama 

After our brief break at the Ski Hut we continued upward. The next leg of this journey would take about an hour and twenty minutes. We weren’t in any big rush. We were just enjoying one another and the beautiful scenery. After we passed a stream of fresh running water (which had us in a state of awe), we made our way to the court of large boulders and things (yes that’s what I named it). I loved seeing all of the rocks and decided this would be the perfect place for a photo shoot. Leslie totally agreed.

After our brief but always fun photo shoot we noticed that some other fun hikers in the near vicinity…but they were just standing still. We turned our heads and saw a DEER! WILDLIFE! It was a curious little thing, and Leslie and I were totally jealous at it’s ability to maneuver the hillside with not a problem at all. I issued an immediate side eye. But let’s be honest…it was SO COOL and SO CUTE!

Do! A Deer! A Female Deer! I think anyway?

The remainder of the climb was pretty routine. We continued our steady climb very happy with our pace and communication. We were having so much fun up there. I think people around us wanted to join us, and at one point some did. We routinely stopped for breaks as needed because as you know the higher in elevation you go the thinner the air gets. So it’s important to be aware of your body and your breathing. The very last climb was probably the hardest thing of the day. It literally feels like you are scaling a wall. As you approach the summit you see lots of other hikers sitting, eating, chatting, and enjoying the view from above 10,000 feet above sea level. WE MADE IT! It took us about 3 hours (which was pretty fast for me) and celebrated at the summit! Lots of hugs smiles and of course singing haha.

The views from the top were insane! It was so beautiful you could literally see for MILES! If the sky had been clear of haze and the smoke from the fires in San Diego you would probably be able to see the ocean, the Los Angeles skyline, and other great points of interest. It was INCREDIBLE! Reaching the top was worth the hurt and struggle for sure. Nothing that awesome comes without hard work!

PROOF!

Before we began our descent, Leslie saw SNOW! So of course she had to go play in it LOL! I saw a big rock and had to serve an awesome photo. I took inspiration from one of my faves Holly. She took this photo a while back and it blew my mind. So this was my attempt. Don’t mind the poor form, there was no oxygen up there in that layer of the atmosphere…I was also on a cliff. LOL

@Holly_Fitness #MyFav

Welp.
After that we made our way to Devil’s Backbone. This trail drops pretty fast from the summit so we were coming back to civilization pretty rapidly. Before we continued to drop to the trail we noticed more snow banks…you can guess what happened next. I looked right at Leslie and sang ‘Do you want to build a snowman” from Frozen. Naturally we exploded into laughter and started to build a snowman. I mean who wouldn’t. 
Hang in there, Joan!

After we brought our masterpiece to life by the power of Elsa (which no one still understands) we continued to laugh. Yes his name is Olaf, and yes he does like warm hugs and pancakes!

OLAF LIVES!!!!

After that random event we continued our trek down. Again, lots of rocks and dirt here so it’s important to be VERY careful. More so on this trail. Wanna know WHY they call it Devil’s Backbone? Because the trail is narrow and you have nothing to save you on either side. The trail has to be at max 5 feet wide, so PAY ATTENTION! It’s totally safe but not really the place to cartwheel. I got nervous a couple times. We made our way down to the Mt. Baldy Lodge and used the facilities and refilled on water and lemonade. I was thirsty and it was free. This is about where the event comes to a close. Now if you’ve had enough the ski lifts run on the weekends and you can catch a ride down to the trail head. Ain’t nobody got time for that. We enjoyed the 4 mile walk to our car and just continued to talk and chat and look up. We kept saying “WE WERE UP THERE!” It’s really a marvel. We made our way back to San Antonio falls and enjoyed the splendor. The water is fresh, cool, calming, and tasty….yeah I tasted it. 
Leslie cooled her feet in the water while I played photographer. And of course we took a selfie.
After our fun at the falls it was time to go find some food and refuel. I totally made a new friend today! Leslie is pretty damn awesome. We had SUCH a good time. We already planned a couple more trails we want to go explore! And whenever she comes up to take on Baldy I’ll probably be there. Leslie came two hours north from San Diego to play on the trails with me today! I couldn’t be more grateful and happy that she came to hang out. She’s a jewel! Thanks again Les! You rock the party! And she did her job very well…she didn’t die and neither did I! Fantastic!

Haunted Trails of the Night 10K – Recap

Talk about a way to start a spooky Halloween week! After all the excitement and fun times of the Rock N Roll Los Angeles Expo and social media meet up (read all about it on here on Pavement Runner), I had to depart and head to Paramount Ranch in Agora Hills to get ready for the Haunted Trails of the Night 10K! Now, being the race series ambassador, I was really looking forward to this race. Running on trails is always fun, but being able to do it at night…with glow sticks, and 99 other ghouls and goblins in costume…well that just sounds like my idea of a bad ass Saturday night!

I parked at the ranch and went to check in at the barn! Wait, I am getting a bit ahead of myself. Some of you are probably wondering what Paramount Ranch actually is. Paramount Ranch is a ranch that was purchased by Paramount Pictures in 1927! It was an actual working movie and television set. It is gently nestled against the Los Angeles Mountains…and Malibu is just a few short miles away!

Ok, so I checked in at the barn and met my friend, the Race Director Keira! She, of course was hard at work putting signage up and had that awesome smile on her face. I was a little early, so I took a personal tour of the ranch. I went to change and watched the sun disappear behind the beautiful mountains. See, that is the thing. When you are running or walking trails, you throw yourself into nature. You are instantly surrounded by fresh air, beautiful trees, even the dirt and soil is beautiful.

So as we got closer to showtime, other runners and supporters started to arrive. One of those wonderful people was Dani from Weight Off My Shoulders! I had just met her at the previous event so was happy to see a familiar face…especially one that made me laugh so much. I had interacted with Dani on Social Media in the past, but I had never been able to have a sit down conversation with her. That night, we had 6.2 miles of bonding! Since this was a Halloween themed race, racing costumes were 100% encouraged. People showed up in some really awesome outfits! We all laughed and shared in this really fun themed experience…night trail run in costume. I was wearing my INKnBURN robot kit. Robot in the woods, who’d of thunk it?

The race started and we all darted down the dusty road of Paramount Ranch into the hills! I am thankful for my Black Diamond headlamp because without it, well…I would have been blind. The course was very well marked with glow-sticks, character actor volunteers, and props which made this race very entertaining. The course consisted of two 3.1 mile loops around the property through the surrounding hills. Dani and I had a wonderful time out there. We talked about everything from her experience in Boston, her reaction to being there at the finish line during the tragic events, her wonderful home life, and her aspirations for the future. Me? I listened, asked some questions and shared some my own personal stories. Running is something that should be shared with someone. It is something that instantly brings us together. I had just met Dani, but feel as if I made a friend! We stuck together through the terrain, and made our way back to the barn where we picked up our medals and a yummy sandwich.

Keira put on a wonderful event! It was just challenging enough, and 100% fun. The other participants were also very nice, welcoming, well mannered, and just fun! If you haven’t run one of Keira’s races here in the Los Angeles area…you are missing out! If you want in on some of this fun, challenging, and scenic action, you should register and join us for the Sean o’Brien 50 Miler, 50K (which will be my furthest distance), and marathon. Registration is open, and we would love to see you there!

Thanks Keira for a night of fun!

It’s Coming! The Haunted Trails of the Night 10K

BOO! Halloween is approaching, and you know what that means! Halloween themed races and costumes of course!! My friend and race director Keira Henninger is conjuring up one very wicked spell in her cauldron. She is introducing the Haunted Trails of the Night 10K which will take place in Paramount Ranch here in Southern California on October 26th!

I am personally very excited for this 10K trail race. First, because it is the night before Rock ‘N’ Roll Los Angeles so what a way to warm up! But also because running trails at night can be one of the most serene things to experience…well, unless it’s Halloween in which case it could be a little spooky!

The course will consist of two 3.1 mile loops of runnable non technical single track trials. The course is rather easy is little to no hills or climbing required. The trail will be marked with frightening glow sticks, and keep an eye out for goblins along the way! The course will have two very well stocked aid stations that will have fruit,  sweet and salty snacks, Clif gels, and electrolyte drinks. Aid stations are a mile 1.5 and 4.6.

Runners of all levels and abilities are invited to experience this great event! Like all of Keira’s events, they are fun and very safe. After the race, stop and stay a spell for the Haunted Post Race Party in the historic old ghost town of Paramount Ranch!

Oh and costumes are highly encouraged! I heard that INKnBURN is getting ready to launch their Halloween collection on their website in the next few weeks, so I would keep my eyes open for that!

So what are you waiting for! This race is already close to selling out, but there are some spots still left! You can use code BOO2013PM10 to save $10.00 on your registration. Click here to register and get in on the action!

See You On The Trail!

Sharp’s Park Ranger Challenge

I am not a person who is very fond of camping in tents, sleeping on the ground, cuddling up with dirt and bugs. I prefer a luxurious resort with a spa. But that does not mean that I do not appreciate the beauty of nature…I just don’t want to sleep on it haha.

Vacation Races has been something that has peaked my interest for some time now. The first race I remember seeing them put on was the Zion Half Marathon in Utah. For me, much like a city race, there is no better way to experience a city or a destination than to lace up and just run through it! I find inspiration from running in beautiful places. I draw inspiration from the painted canvas that is our National Parks. I love rock formations, bunnies, birds, and seeing things in their natural state. Experiencing nature and seeing the colors and textures it produces is simply unparalleled.

So in 2014, I have decided to quit my day job and become a Park Ranger. Well…sort of.

Today, I registered for the Zion Half Marathon…let the altitude training begin. As registration opens for the remaining three races, I will register and run. This includes:

Maybe I can convince them that they should turn these logos into patches so I can put them on a jacket! I am really excited about the prospects of this race series and can’t wait. First stop, ZION!
And this just in…they are also working on a Beach Front Half Marathon Series…my wallet is in trouble.
Now, log off your computer and go walk children in nature!