Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January Totals

January Totals: 166.1 mi (+18,409 ft gain); 30:30:38 on trail

All trails lead to the San Diego 100, June 9th!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Easy Recovery Week

Week Summary

EF Treadmill: 3.0 mi (+0 ft); 11:46 pace
LV Treadmill: 3.2 mi (+0 ft); 14:38 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.7 mi (+514 ft); 10:33 pace
Seven Ranch Loop: 5.5 mi (+610 ft); 10:32 pace

Weekly Totals: 17.3 mi (+1,124 ft); 3:19:42 on trail

I felt pretty good this week following the adventure at Brooks Falls. Tuesday was the most painful with a general quad revolt if I sat still too long. The treadmill jog that day felt pretty good.  I traveled on Wednesday but was able to take a walking-pace stroll at the hotel in Vegas by Thursday evening.

Ended the week with some Base jaunts in the snow-covered and mud-soaked trails around VC. Our first big snow came with the storm that followed us home from Brooks Falls. Several inches remain in the shaded areas while the sunny spots have melted to Comstock goo.  I purchased the the Cross-lites in November with these conditions in mind, and finally I'm putting them to good use. Their traction in the mixed-wet conditions simply can't be beat.

Looking forward to ramping up again next week. I believe I followed a much smarter recovery session than I practiced after Firetrails; let's see if it pays off.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Brooks Falls 50K - DCraig's Race Report

Men 1st : Leigh Schmitt of Healdsburg, California – 4:32:48
Women 1st : Audrey Reyes of Vacaville, California – 5:39:59

4th: Darren Young, Reno – 5:17:09
8th: DCraig Young, Virginia City – 6:15:29

The lonely, sublime finish of the ultra runner. Brooks Falls 50K.
It is Tuesday and  the strides of the Brooks Falls 50K still echo in my quads. I had entered the event, my third ultra (and fourth race) in my short running career, as simply another step in training for the San Diego 100. But it turned into something altogether different.

Inside Trail's inaugural event somehow happened to be coincident with the first big winter storm of 2012, but unfazed by the low-hanging clouds and high-surf warnings, a small crew scurried to put up banners, tents, and tables as we arrived. In short order we had our numbers -- Darren marked for special assistance by #666 -- and found Tim Long, megaphone in hand, at the starting line of the trails of Brooks Falls in San Pedro Valley County Park, Pacifica, California. We joined about 100 competitors in the light rain, a small group of those carried an ultra goal of the 50K or a little over 31 miles.

The Yellow Loop marked the first part of the course. We climbed immediately into the trees following a short road and then single-track looping quickly to the namesake falls. A couple quick guys took off, not unexpected when you're mixed with runners targeting shorter distances, but I'm sure Leigh wasn't holding back early. On one early switchback I looked up to see Darren, in his Eclipse Running blue, leading a long line of runners, one after another, until it reached a second Eclipse jersey, me. So many races start in the pre-dawn darkness, I have never been able to see Darren on the trail other than a quick pass on an out-and-back; now here we were bringing up a 20-person peloton on the long first climb to the Montara Fire Road.

The group soon broke into little clusters and solo runners as we climbed into the wind and rain. No need to rush things so early on. The route was well-marked, but trail running always requires a small amount of orienteering skill or, at least, a quick study of the course map prior to setting out. Leading a group of three on the descent from the windy turn-around (what great coastal views of really big surf!), I passed the Brooks Falls Trail, our climb up, and continued down the Montara Mtn Trail as planned. But I quickly noticed my immediate follower turn, off-route, at the intersection. The next guy, Bryan from Moss Beach, yelled out and the wayward guy returned. He shrugged as he passed me, "I always seem to do that." I guess he simply didn't trust me or the signs.  I heard later that some trail markers may have been removed and that that led to some confusion, but it was an easy course to follow and I never had to focus on route-finding at all.

I carried a single water bottle and a few gels on every lap. The aid station was excellent. The usual fare but well-stocked (thanks for the Clif fuels!) and staffed by generous, helpful volunteers. I kept to my routine of a gel every half-hour and finished a bottle every lap. My drop bags with "dry" shoes and socks would be soaked by the end of the day, but I never needed the bags or their contents. My planning at the start, running the La Sportiva Cross-Lites and carrying the Patagonia NineTrails jacket tied around my waist, paid off throughout the day.

After a brief stop at the aid station, I set out on the Pink Loop for a short climb and descent followed by a never-ending series of switchbacks on the Hazelnut Trail (we later simply referred to this as "Big Pink"). The rain stung a little more on the first exposed climb and the footing on the trail was rutted and wet with a small in-trail stream. Perfect.  I let Bryan slip away here, he was on the 30K so I didn't want to keep pace. For the rest of the day I would be alone except when passing or meeting someone on a return leg.

Footfeathers was at the aid station at the bottom of Big Pink where he handed me a couple salt tablets and PB&J and told me Darren wasn't looking so good and I could probably catch him. Oh sure.  Now I would repeat the Yellow and Pink loops running into the teeth of the wind-driven rain. I climbed steadily, I think, enjoying the sticky mud until I ran into Darren, weather-beaten but looking great, as he came off the ridge. We paused and acted surprised that there weren't more people out here, only two people between him and me. He'd counted them as he turned back from the summit, and, sure enough, I really wasn't that far, place-wise behind him. I ran into two guys on the ridge road, but I was almost an hour behind Darren, Tim's attempt at motivating me notwithstanding.

The ridge was epic. I was greeted with sideways rain that pelted and soaked me. The challenge of gaining the summit made me forget that I had done this once before and that I had quite a bit of time left out there. I wasn't tired, I was determined; and wanted relief from the tempest.  As I turned around, I realized I had only lost about twelve minutes on my second climb up the four-mile hill. I finally found relief as I turned from the ridge and started the switchbacks back into the groves of the valley. I was slower on the descent, thinking I would need the reserves for later.

The second round of the Pink Loop was the toughest section of the race; not as long as the climb up the ridge, but the switchbacks wear you down. Darren caught me near the summit of Big Pink while on his last loop to the finish. I kept trying to erase from my mind that I had to immediately repeat this climb. I saw no other runners.

At the bottom Darren held a medal for First Place. It was for the Age Group because the Tims would not award the podium and the Age Group to Scott Dunlap (2nd overall, 1st in 40-49), so Darren sported it for me as I stopped to refill my bottle and down some Mountain Dew. I was 5:30 in and could certainly repeat Big Pink in under an hour! Let's go.

At the beginning of the day, I was sure I would be happy with a 7-hour finish, but now I had run a full marathon and climbed about 6,500 feet well under six hours. So I set off with determination, while the rain and wind seemed more determined to stop me. As I climbed, I passed a few people working on their second lap, certainly as determined as I was to keep going. But suddenly a guy in minimalist glove-like shoes, Vibram Five-fingers, was on my tail, not passing but just sitting in like he was drafting. I can't let him pass me; why was I getting concerned about that?  His presence pushed me to run where I might have slowed to walk the switchbacks. I would slow occasionally, but he would match me. I raised my arms at the summit and welcomed the rain and I heard him say, "have a good finish, I'll wait for my wife." Kristopher had dropped from the 50K to run with his wife Rebekah, who was climbing up on her second lap of three. Nice run dude, you win.

At the top of Big Pink I simply let it go, running with abandon along the muddy trails in the downpour. I dumped my water bottle and pushed an 8-minute pace for the last two miles, matching Darren's time on the final circuit. At the bridge to the finish my calves were screaming but soon the little windy flags of the finish were in view. And then it was over.

6:15:29 - 8th out of 19 finishers, 5th in Age Category -- a PR for future comparisons and measures. But these things stand alone because of the unique set of conditions that form each event. Success comes with each one completed, but, at Brooks Falls, the exhilaration of defeating an ascending storm over a long distance and discovering that I not only finished but finished in spirited competition are sublime.

Thanks to Tim Long and Tim Stahler and all the great volunteers; it was worth the drive from Nevada. Darren and I are proud to be have been a part of the inaugural run at Inside Trail, and we look forward to many future events (though this one will be tough to beat). Your hard work will pay off.  Special thanks to Darren for laughing in the rain and leaving blurred tracks to follow; I can't imagine it any better. Thanks also to Chuck at Eclipse Running, we are proud to fly the flag for Reno's best running store. Not to be repetitive, but thanks again to Footfeathers for the training program that gets results and adds to the ultra experience. One step closer to San Diego.

Gear: La Sportiva Cross-lites (perfect for the conditions), Eclipse T, Patagonia software (Trailmaker shorts, NineTrails jacket, and Merino wool socks), UVEX shades, McDavid travel bag, compression sleeves (and post-race compression socks and shorts), Garmin 310XT, and Ultimate hand-held bottle.  And the great GMC 4x4 that carried us through the snow.

It Begins at the Falls

Week Summary

Carson River Flats: 5.5 mi (+13 ft); 10:52 pace
EF Treadmill: 5.9 mi (+0 ft); 10:43 pace
Carson River Flats: 5.2 mi (+12 ft); 9:10 pace
Pacifica Shakeout (CA): 3.5 mi (+600 ft); 12:00 pace
Brooks Falls 50K (Pacifica, CA): 31.6 mi (+7,682 ft); 11:52 pace

Weekly Totals: 51.7 mi (+8,307 ft); 9:48:30 on trail

I tapered into the Brooks Falls 50K on the weekend with some easy, base efforts along the Carson River and dropped in a little treadmill time for good measure. Forecasts called for an end to our non-winter-like weather as I looked forward to the weekend. Everything felt good for a strong effort on the hills of the Pacific Coast.

Exchanging the Yota for the 4x4 GMC, Darren and I left early Saturday morning in between rain and snow squalls, precursors to the growing storm. We hit chain-controls at Truckee, CA, but it wasn't long before we were back in the California sunshine; maybe the forecasts were overblown. Soon, we arrived in Palo Alto to check out the Zombie Runner store before heading over the coastal hills to Pacifica.

We met the two Tims from Inside Trail who were busy sticking large magnets on trucks (we knew we were in the right place) and marking the trails for Sunday's event. We checked with T. Stahler who was finishing up on the pink loop and then found Footfeathers high on the yellow loop. Jogging up the trail, it was clear that tomorrow's event would be an interesting challenge - run-able hills and super descents switch-backing through groves and thickets. I started thinking a 7-hour finish might be considered a success.

After a little shakeout time on the trail, occasionally helping the Tims with course markings, Darren and I found our hotel and searched out a pre-race dinner. We found it in some pretty good lasagna at a pizza/pasta joint only a block from the race-start. We could not help but shiver as we ate. The restaurant was not particularly cold, but we could not shake the damp humidity. This is not something to which the desert crew at Young Mountain Runners are acclimatized. We knew, however, this could be the perfect temperature for a good run.

The rain rolled in during the night and the showers would play with us all day Sunday. Briefly, the Inside Trail crew and great volunteers put on a fantastic event under trying conditions. Each ultra brings a feeling of success that isn't easily described, but running a challenging event put on on by friends who have coached you along the way is especially satisfying. To run it well means everything. I cannot say I have ever felt more successful at the end of an event than I did at Brooks Falls. Of course, I did not win, but I ran almost perfectly within and, at times, just beyond my abilities; and I simply and easily had a great time. Nevermind the sideways rain of the ridge-tops, the mud-filled ruts of the descents, and the ceaseless rain on the final loop, this was ultra at its best.

A complete race report is here...

We were home by late Sunday night after a careful drive through the storm. We arrived as the window closed and the snow began to fall. The rains followed me to the roof of the Comstock, where in the morning I awoke to a foot of new snow. What a crazy weekend. IWWD.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Base-ics and a Good Loop

Week Summary

Washoe Lake Loop: 7.9 mi (+228 ft); 11:11 pace
EF Treadmill: 5.8 mi (+0 ft); 10:43 pace
EF Treadmill: 5.0 mi (+0 ft); 8:57 pace
Highlands Loop: 16.2 mi (+1,591 ft); 9:42 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.7 mi (+494 ft); 11:04 pace

Weekly Totals: 40.6 mi (+2,313 ft); 6:55:05 on trail

A strong and very warm south wind is dusting up the Comstock this morning, sure signs that we might finally break into the winter storm pattern. And even though fall-like days have been commonplace, I have been trying to keep to my structured early-season training program. This means working on Base runs of varying duration while keeping to an easy, aerobic effort and heart rate. Work took me to southeastern California by way of Phoenix this week, a whirlwind trip that I thought would knock me off my training pattern. I found, however, that the treadmill workouts suit this type of schedule and help keep the Base.

I think most runners dread the hamster-like tedium of the treadmill, and I would certainly prefer to be out on a trail anywhere, especially when the sunny January temperature is pushing 60°. There are, however, clear benefits. When time is short, I can hit Eagle Fitness just down the street from my office and not worry about driving out-and-back to the trailhead. On the mill, I can keep to and learn what a specific pace feels like.  Darren says he is easily bored and can't help but try to experience the different pace and incline variations the treadmills have to offer, but I simply punch up a pace, set it at 1% incline, and focus, or not, on the consistency without drifting into tempos beyond my early-season Base.  Once back on the trail, it is easier to translate the effort into the target range regardless of the variations in topography, footing, etc.  Beyond the Base runs, I can also set the treadmill for some consistent Tempo days, as I did on Friday after way too much time in airports and rental cars on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Striders ultra pack out on the Highlands Loop
I was looking forward to a long run Saturday after a busy week of fieldwork and travel. The Striders had scheduled a Highlands run on a loop just north of Virginia City, so Darren and I joined in. As I parked the Yota at the Highlands Fire Station, a large group emerged from the parking area and trotted down Lousetown Road. Was I late? I then noticed a group hanging back, and recognized a few faces from last week's Peavine fest. The early pack would be a little slower and we'd catch up soon enough, but I was thrown into the fast kids group so I would get to test the early-season Base I've been so focused on.

Of course no one was out to burn up the loop on this beautiful Saturday morning. But I'm a bit more competitive than I care to admit (this is not an admission) and it was a nice mental kick to be with this group. Soon I set off with Darren, Juan de Oliva (Mexico), Steven Burt, Bruce Cyra, Dalius Kumpa (Lithuania), John Trent, and his daughter Katie. John and Katie would hang back with some late arrivals, but now there were about 20 or so Striders looping around the Highlands.

We cruised at what I thought was an easy pace telling stories of up-coming races and recent training regimes. I was increasingly worried, however, each time I glanced at my watch or heard the beep of another mile to see that we were moving at a pace between 8 and 9 minutes per mile, typically closer to 8:00 for the first 6 or so miles. But I wasn't feeling much of anything, other than simply enjoying the group and the trail. The route followed slightly rolling two-track roads with a few rocky patches and one good climb at about the halfway point.

We caught the bigger pack at a trail intersection where we all stripped out of our cold gear to better match the sunny day. The group strung out along the halfway climb where Dalius and I let Darren and the others move through the pack before reaching the water trough (aid station?) at Cottonwood Springs (one of my usual turn-around points when running from VC). Here our small group gathered for the final few miles back to the Fire Station. On the low-grade climb back to the Highlands, Juan, Steven, and Bruce led out while Darren, Dalius, and I along with two ladies who split from the pack (they left before I learned their names) re-grouped at the top for our descent along the pavement to the finish. 

Darren had one of those sluggish days were it seemed like hard work, while I was having one of my best days on the trail. Those things simply cycle around, I guess. I'm sure Darren could have pushed if the plan called for it, but we otherwise just enjoyed the last mile or two along Lousetown Road. At one point Darren turned to me and said, "Hey, we just did a 7:50 mile".  First, I'm not often with Darren at Mile 15 so that cracked me up, but, second, hearing that we were cruising so easily rather startled me. Sure it was a gradual downhill on pavement, so it should be fast, but I wasn't feeling any wear and could easily enjoy the bit of tempo back to the Fire Station. Once there, the leaders could share some more lies and enjoy the arrival of the rest of the Striders - a very good Saturday loop. Easily a PR day for the half-marathon (plus) distance even with the stops and re-groupings which are analogous to aid-stations; my moving pace was close to 9:00 per mile for the 16-mile loop (crazy).

I hope I can take a little of Saturday's vibe into the race at Brooks Falls in Pacifica, CA, next weekend. I'm looking forward to the first 50K of the season, though I'll take it relatively easy. Darren and I are there to experience Inside Trail's seminal event and get in some of great coastal trail-time. Footfeathers put out a sun-drenched teaser about the great coastal weather over the weekend, but given the less-colorful forecast, I bet we are in for some wet fun.  We're all in.

In Colorado news, the Young Mountain Runners have been resting up and healing up. The rest is paying off as Dennis's shin injury has seen much improvement and Mary is hitting the trail/track again after fighting a cold for more than a week. They raced late into the season, so the well-deserved and needed rest can only help prepare for their coming schedule.

Darren and I sign up for the San Diego 100 tomorrow!       

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Where's winter?

Week Summary

Carson River Flats: 6.4 mi (+39 ft); 9:13 pace
Centennial Loops: 3.9 mi (+514 ft); 11:43 pace
Goni Trails East: 5.0 mi (+1,008 ft); 12:01 pace
Peavine Direct and 50/50: 17.5 mi (+3,473 ft); 12:04 pace
Emma Quarry OB: 5.9 mi (+407 ft); 12:46 pace

Weekly Totals: 38.7 mi (+5,442 ft); 7:30:14:11 on trail

I simply can't believe our lack of winter conditions. Ran without a shirt during my 7-minute pace intervals at Carson River on Tuesday. Just a beautiful day. We had a warm period last January but there had already been some pretty good snows to fill the mountains; we haven't had a single storm yet this season.  So best bet is to take advantage of it. Shorts and racing-Ts each day, until the cold (dry) mornings on the weekend.

Kept to some structured workouts this week. I'm using a moderate to strong effort on the target days and then very easy base jogs in between. Did intervals for an hour on Tuesday. After a warm up, I did 3 minutes at about a 7-minute pace separated by 3 minutes at about 10:30 pace. I cycled through intervals five times. This felt really good, especially because it was almost 60 degrees at noontime.

After an easy jog on Wednesday evening, I hit Goni Trails for some hill repeats. These aren't enjoyable, but I bet they will get me conditioned and ready for the long hills requiring a slower approach; maybe they'll even seem easier. I did five repeats on a steady hill. I held the effort for 2 minutes and then stumbled back down the hill to do it again. Darren taught me to pile five rocks at my start point to keep track of my repeats without having to actually count. That isn't so bad now, but might prove critical on longer workouts (there are rumors that these come later in the season!).

Climbing Peavine with the Striders
Darren invited me to join with the Silver State Striders ultra team for a Saturday workout on Peavine Mountain north of Reno. We started from Darren's house and jogged into the group of about 14 runners at the Keystone Canyon trailhead. Along the base of the mountain, we warmed up with introductions while there was opportunity to chatter before the climbs bring some separation; always a good time.  Soon, however, we hit a crazy dirt "road" that climbs directly toward the summit. Darren, John Trent, Juan de Oliva, and Steven Burt led the climb and the group strung out for the ascent. I moved upward with Katie Trent (John's daughter); at trail intersections Katie was kind enough to soon arrive with directions. A perfect day on the mountain as the sun rose behind us.

Upper slopes of Peavine
Darren: Upper Peavine
Darren held back at the end of the direct route and we cruised up the summit road to the typical aid station spot for the Silver State 50/50 race. Juan and Steven passed us on their return while John waited at the top (no aid station today of course). A cold wind numbed our hands and faces as we waited for the group to re-form. Nine of us made it to the highpoint.

The descent hit the wonderful Peavine single-tracks on the eastern slopes winding up and down though small valleys I'd probably never seen before. I spent loads of time on this mountain when I lived below Keystone in the 1990s, but these tracks led to new places for me. Darren, Katie, John, and I grouped up for most of the descent, waiting at a few spots for the others to catch the trail. Three and a half hours after setting out we arrived back at the trailhead. Although the climb was a little more than I'd planned for on this particular Saturday long run, the total workout was on target. My moving pace averaged about 11 minutes per mile, the climb was a great steady "walk", and the descent was speedy and fun. Although I was a little tight late Saturday evening (after sitting in the movie theater for a couple hours), I have no ill-effects after this early-season fun run.

Darren, Katie, John, and Juan at Keystone Trailhead
Slow base jog out to Emma Quarry on Sunday. Hooked up to a heart rate monitor to check base status. I want to keep things at about 130 bpm on the runs between structured workouts.  It's more difficult that I expected. I had argued with Tim regarding my ability to go a little faster on base days, but this clearly illustrates that I had been going too fast, especially when in the hills around Virginia City. This jog cycled between running at 130 bpm (between 11 and 13-minute pace depending on terrain) for 10 minutes and then walking for 2 minutes. Felt really good after yesterday's effort.  A good week, but still hoping for snow!

It's time to solidify the first-half event schedule. We'll be doing some Inside Trail Racing events early and then heading to the Antelope 100 at the end of March, where I'll liking pace Darren for the second 50-mile lap.  I'll start filling out some entry forms this week and see what falls out.


Sunday, January 1, 2012

Keeping it all going in 2012...

Going at Goni
Week Summary

Larrys Hill Repeats: 6.3 mi (+1,204 ft); 12:35 pace
Chocolate Factory OB: 5.8 mi (+429 ft); 10:31 pace
Carson River Flats: 8.3 mi (+42 ft); 9:05 pace
Goni Summit to Centennial: 14.0 mi (+2,673 ft); 10:57 pace
Gold Hill - Emma Loop: 8.3 mi (+1,082 ft); 10:55 pace

Weekly Totals: 42.6 mi (+5,430 ft); 7:38:11 on trail

December Totals: 149.6 mi (+18,033 ft); 27:55:39 on trail
2011 Totals: 1,244.6 mi (+151,690 ft); 229:55:08 (9.5 days) on trail

I want to say thanks to all those who supported, laughed at, and ran with Trail Option in 2011. I have enjoyed putting this together each week, and though I do it primarily for personal motivation and sharing among a small group of family and friends, I hope that, just maybe, one or two more people are on the trail feeling the benefits and learning about themselves.  Wishing you a Happy 2012, and let's keep going...

Although the calendar brings a close to 2011 and now 2012 is upon us, preparation for the 2012 season is in motion. During the last week of the year my training regime jumped to a new level including a few structured work-outs, things I'd never really experienced before. It started with hill-repeats on Larry's driveway above Long Valley. The repeats involved five intervals, 9-minute pace for two minutes in which I covered about a quarter mile and gained 130 feet. Seemed a measly amount of gain for the effort, but I'm sure it'll pay off someday soon. Darren tells me to look forward to the 5-minute hill intervals that Footfeathers is likely to place on the schedule. Oh boy.  After each climb I'd stroll back down to my starting point, resting shortly for the next go. I ended with a dark, cool-down jog to the east side of Larrys Hill and back to the car.

Took it easy on Wednesday night visiting the Chocolate Factory OB for a base workout.  No effects from the previous day's repeats. Still astounded and confused by how warm it is at the close of December.

Thursday noon-time found me out at the Carson River Trail for a Tempo session. I started with a slow warm-up to the ditch/fenceline (a bridge is being planned) after which I picked it up and kept to an 8-minute pace for 32 minutes. If my math works, that's four miles. I then had a 30-minute cool-down to return to the Yota parked at the river put-in on Morgan Mill Road. This workout stayed with me for a while; I had a nice wobble for the remainder of the day. It felt great.

Ups and Downs of Centennial
On Saturday, Darren and I met at the ranch at Washoe Lake for a "long" day to close out 2011. Desna and Chloe worked the horses and Darren and I climbed into the hills near Goni Summit. A cool breeze met us but nothing like it should be for what was once early winter (last year, that is 2010, we'd have been trudging through deep snow). Our target was a little over two hours at 11-minute pace. Of course, in the hills this is an average, especially this early in the season. We hit Goni Road and dropped to my week-day East trails to descend toward Centennial Park. Smoke was still rising from parts of the range fire east of Carson; yes, a range fire in December.  The climb back to Goni Summit was steady and relatively strong. This was followed by a great descent along the switchbacks down to the ranch. A good moderate effort for two and a half hours, hitting the 11-minute average pace almost exactly. I set the virtual runner in the Garmin Forerunner only to watch her run away from me most of the morning; and yet I caught her at the final turn above the ranch to hit my pacing target. Of course, I'd rather catch Darren but I've yet to match his flow on the downhills (or uphills and flats for that matter!).

In the hills above Carson City (where's the snow?)
Sunday was a slow cruise out to Emma Quarry, keeping strictly to the Base (11-minute pace) to allow the recovery and calmness to tune the machine.

Although we look forward to 2012, there is great sadness here at year's end. Robert and Linda Mathis, Tahoe-area event directors and ultra advocates (Ultranrunner.net), were taken from us in a tragic accident on Friday evening. Darren cut his ultra teeth with them. My ultra career began at Lake of the Sky, one of their many events. Linda started us off in the early morning, and I will long remember the rush of success and strange happiness I felt crossing the finish line in Tahoe City to shake Robert's hand and to be greeted by Linda's chili-burritos. We will keep going in memory of their hard work and good lives, too sadly brief.