I have some aspirations to be an ultra marathoner, and as I have already completed one (DFL at the Zion Ultra 50K in 2018) I can actually say that I am an ultra marathoner. My own training efforts have benefited greatly since last summer from the support of my training partner, Anna Isabel Godinez.
Anna is a 24 year old young lady who is very strong, has tremendous endurance, and a real go-for-it attitude. Last summer we went on some serious hikes–we did a 17 miler down in Crystal Cove, and Anna also dragged me up the last two miles of our ascent of the Mount Wilson Trail (15 miles round trip with 4200 feet of ascent).
In some sense I have actually been holding her back a lot as my battles with my right foot have kept me from running, and Anna needs to run more. I was getting there back in August, and then, typically for me, I managed to set myself back several months. What was supposed to be a 10 mile round trip hike up the Ray Miller Trail in Point Mugu State Park turned into a 14 mile death march that left me unable to even walk for a full month. Bad enough for me, but also not good for her progress. And there we were, at the scene of the crime again.
Yesterday my friends Kerry Ward and Dax Hock had plans to run the entire length of the Santa Monica Mountains Backbone Trail (BT), 67.5 miles. Anna and I met them at about 10 am at Will Rogers State Park where they left their car, and then I drove them up to La Jolla Canyon in the Point Mugu State Park where the other terminus of the BT can be found.
Anna ran with them for the first 6.6 miles, a great experience for an up-and-coming ultra runner as both Kerry and Dax are very hard-core runners. Kerry has done all three of the US 200 milers (Tahoe 200, Big Foot 200, and Moab 240), and while he doesn’t challenge for the win he does generally finish in or close to the top 10 in those events. He is a valued member of the ultra running community!
Dax is no slouch either–he ran his inaugural 100 miler (Big Bear) this past August and finished first among non-purse runners. Dax is also someone Kerry can call when he wants to do something like circumnavigate Mt. Hood (41 miles), run the Cactus-to-Clouds Trail (Palm Springs to Mt. San Jacinto, 30 miles round trip, 12,000 feet of ascent), or the entire Backbone Trail. Dax also has a very understanding wife, Sarah, who was okay with him leaving with their 8 week old son (and the 4-1/2 year old elder brother) for this endeavor. Oh, did I mention that Dax and Sarah have won world Swing Dancing championships as Dax Hock and Sarah Breck? That too. BTW, Sarah is the very pregnant and very lovely young lady with the camera in the Dax video.
Anna had to turn back after 6.6 miles. She was scheduled to work at 5 in Paramount, which was over 60 miles away from the car that she still had to run back to. She turned around, made it back (only got lost once and only a little–thank you Gaia GPS) apace, and arrived looking like she could just keep on going! I had told her to only go 5-6 miles because I was concerned about getting her to work on time, but Kerry over-ruled that and had her stretch it to 6.6 miles so it would work out to a half marathon–a distance more people can relate to.
So, on her very first trail running experience she ran a trail half marathon with 2000 feet of ascent in 2:23, which I think sets an excellent baseline! Anna just really shrugs it off because for her it was no big deal–just a nice run with nice company, and excuse me I am off to work now–but I was very impressed. As a comparison, I looked at the results from last year’s (2017) Paramount Ranch Trail Half Marathon. Anna’s time would have placed her 38th out of 93 finishers, and 17th out of the 57 woman finishers. Not bad for what to Anna was just a leisurely run!
Speaking of work, Anna made it back down early enough so we could have a smooth and beautiful ride down PCH through Santa Monica. It got rough and slow on the 405, but I was able to get her to work on time. She worked her full shift, on her feet from 5-11:30, and was in fine shape this morning. As for the lads, I got a text from Kerry about 7 am letting me know that they were down to the last 2% of their trek, having stretched it from 67.5 to 73.5 miles via some creative route-finding (not an east trail to follow even in daylight. Kerry said that just after Anna had turned back they met up with this strange kitty (smile emoji here)!