Monday, November 12, 2012

Bruised but not beaten (Chino Hills 50K Race Report)

My day was cursed from the beginning...

I showed up to the start line of the Chino Hills 50K at 6:15, a line of cars rolling in with runners rolling out. I got in line and picked up my bib.

"Ryan Cavinder," I muttered in my half-asleep voice "With a 'C'".

The woman hands me a bib with the number '1' on it.

Surely this must be a mistake. In large marathons, those favored to win the race wear the single digit bibs. In other races, legacy runners or those heavily involved with the race wear these kinds of numbers. Why did I have the first bib?

My lovely wife thought I was somebody special and i'm sure others along the course did too. Those that saw me finish in the middle of the pack may have thought I was a charity case.


The race was scheduled for a 7 a.m. start, later than I had hoped for with temperatures projected to eclipse 85 degrees. Then came news that there was a delay - start time now at 7:30.

Fast forward 30 minutes and the sun was starting to peek out from behind the hills we would soon traverse. A couple hundred nut-jobs lined up ready to run...another delay.


It's 8 a.m. and the sun is shining in our faces as we finally take off into the canyon. The hills, standing a couple thousand feet above the canyon, provided some shade as the runners positioned themselves. Thirty minutes in, we'd say goodbye to the shade - forever.

I could recount the miles that followed as I have in other race reports, but i'd rather not relive the moments I spent on those hills. They were the most painful, draining, unbearable moments i've ever experienced in a race.

My entire body hurt - my head ached, my stomach was ready to spill out onto the trail, my quads felt like jello and I could feel several blisters forming on my feet.


I wobbled in to the final aid station, around 26 miles in, contemplating a DNF (Did Not Finish). Those letters are devastating to a runner, but my body felt like it was shutting down. The volunteers sat me down, refilled my water and gave me a nice snack of salt tablets and a PB&J.

The shade felt so good, but there's no way I was taking a DNF. I got my liquids, took a deep breath and started walking.


I walked for about a mile before my body started to regain some energy. I could feel the positive effects of hydration and jogged for about 30 seconds. It felt okay. I started into a walk-jog that probably looked more like a hop-waddle, but as I neared the finish my body went into survival mode and I started sprinting.


There were points in the race where I wanted to quit and even points where I thought my body would quit on me.

I have no idea where I pulled that  last bit of energy from.

It was like jumping head first into an empty pool and somehow making a splash.

Thank God for the splash and for seeing me through this one. One step closer to December 1st and the big race.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Put your best foot forward

You know that feeling when you finish a long race? The feeling of sheer joy and utter exhaustion, often accompanied by cramps, shortness of breath and the overwhelming desire to just collapse?

As unappealing as this will sound to most people, it's the moment a lot of runners CRAVE. I know what you're thinking, and yes we know we're weird - we're okay with it.


Thinking back on some of my toughest races and moments like the one I just described, I discovered something quite peculiar. After all those miles, my feet take the most severe beating, but wind up in much better shape than the rest of my body.

Some call it the benefits of evolution, I call it the advantage of good shoes.


Recently, there's been a lot of hype surrounding barefoot running. Sure, that's how humans ran for thousands of years, wearing animal furs or loin cloths...but how many marathon runners have you seen in loin cloths lately?


Some say the evolution of the running shoe has made runners more lazy, leading to bad form and injury. Well, the evolution of television has made people lazy, leading to obesity and unemployment. That's a lousy argument.

My point is, today's running shoe is like a luxury car. It's comfortable, looks good and if driven right, will be the best on the road.

Of course, there's more than one luxury car just as there are several shoes to choose from. In the past five years i've probably gone through at least 15 pairs of shoes. I've tried them all and have always come back to one.


With all due respect to some other shoe makers, Brooks has gotten it right. When I take to the roads, I lace up my Brooks Adrenaline GTS 12's and when I hit the trails, I do so in my Brooks Cascadia's. Something about these shoes makes it feel like they were made just for me, molded around my foot and giving me the perfect mix of comfort and performance.

My encouragement to you: Find the right shoe. Head to your local running store and have yourself properly fitted for shoes.

You'll be amazed to see what happens when you put your best foot forward.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I figured it out!

I'm often asked why I like running, or how I can run so long and I've never had a good answer...until now.

It's so simple.

I'm sitting at my desk, just thinking about running (Nerd Alert!). I'm looking at gear online and wondering why they can't make something that makes running easier.


I enjoy running because it's a struggle. It's the same exact struggle for everyone who tries it - and I love that. It doesn't matter if you're big or small, white or black, American or Ethiopian. Go out and try it, it's not easy at first.

The beauty is in the triumph.

The most meaningful moments in life are born of a challenge. My most memorable races are the ones that forced me to overcome obstacles. I'm willing to bet the most impactful moments in your life saw you triumph over adversity.

Face your challenge - face it today. Run as hard as you can, right towards it.

Find the beauty that lies in the triumph.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Early wake up call

The alarm sounds, but it's dark outside.

You roll over to see your spouse fast asleep and looking oh so comfortable.

There's a light rain outside and you want nothing more than to doze off...but you get up.

Something deep down has motivated you to overcome the seemingly insurmountable obstacles and you shuffle your feet, rub your eyes and brave the bright lights of the bathroom as you prep for your workout. Sounds awful doesn't it?


Over the last few years I've gotten used to early mornings. I still hate them, but they've become something of a necessary evil.

Lately, however, waking up hasn't been such a struggle - because I wake up alone. The beautiful blonde that, by the grace of God, chooses to sleep next to me each night is already out kicking butt with her workout.

She has always motivated me, inspired me and challenged me. Little did she know that a 5 am wake-up call would motivate, inspire and challenge me more than she ever has before.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Off the grid

We have maps to tell us where we're going and odometers to tell us how far we've been.

Time to break away.

All I want is a compass. Point me in the right direction and I will get there. At my own speed, in my own time, with nothing holding me back.


Not long ago I would meticulously log every mile I ran, with time splits and a full-blown recap of how each run went. I was geared up from head to toe with a GPS watch, heart rate monitor, ipod and a microwave oven. Well - maybe it just felt like I was carrying everything but the kitchen sink.

My obsessive personality had taken over and effectively sucked the life right out of my passion for running. It was time to strip it all down.


I ditched the gadgets and went out for a short run. I felt lighter - in more ways than one. I wasn't constantly checking my wrist or fidgeting with a gadget. I was looking around and enjoying the scenery, breathing in the fresh air while I shuffled along.

This is why I run. This feeling right here.


Are you feeling tied down? Maybe working from your phone makes you feel trapped or sitting in front of a computer all day is stifling your creativity.

Get up and move. Leave everything behind. Walk. Jog. Run. Do jumping jacks. Anything.

Break away - you won't regret it.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Running in the desert

It's that time of year again...

Six weeks spent in the desert, fending for myself.

It's not as bad as it sounds, actually. Six weeks at spring training has become my home away from home. I've gotten to know the lay of the land, found a couple of spots where i like to run and have some restaurants I love visiting.

Last year I started night running regularly. It took some getting used to, but eventually it became habit. I'll try to transition back to that again this year.

My biggest challenge this spring has nothing to do with running, but is all about distance. The distance...361 miles. That's how far it is from the Angels Spring Training complex to my wife.

Last year at this time, Lindsey and i were still dating. It's a whole new ballgame this time around. We are both hoping that this will be a time of growth for us as a couple as we learn to communicate better and strengthen our connection. It will not be easy, but God has put us here for a reason and we will do all we can to glorify him where we are at...whether we are laying on the beach or running in the desert.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I don't enjoy running because of the alone time or the cool kicks or how it benefits my health. I don't hit the road every day to escape or to lose weight. I pull myself out of bed every morning and lace up my shoes because I love the challenge.

Ever since I started running back in the spring of 2007, I have set goals for myself. With each goal came a new challenge...a 10k, a marathon, more marathons, and most recently my first ultramarathon. With each challenge completed, I looked towards the next as my love of running grew and my physical limits stretched.

Two years ago I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in San Francisco. The beautiful, challenging, muddy race was my first ultra and it pushed me to the limit. The tough course pushed my body to levels it had never been before and I loved every minute of it.

This year I will go back to the same race and test my limits in the 50-miler.

I'm cautiously optimistic about this challenge, knowing that I could very well meet my limit and fail. For the first time as a runner, time means nothing. The only thing I care about is seeing it through to the FINISH.

Here we go...

Humbled and motivated

This past November I ran in the Malibu Marathon, a beautiful race along PCH from Camarillo to the sand in Malibu. I expected it to be a nice, easy race as I took my time enjoying the view and not worrying about the clock.

The miles were going by with relative ease until I felt pain in my chest. The pain was intense and forced me to walk. My heart beat out of my chest as I racked my brain trying to figure out what was going on. I was well hydrated and running at a comfortable speed, it just didn't make sense. I tried running again but the pain got worse and my heart beat faster still.

The nice leisurely run turned into an agonizing last seven miles. I wasn't able to move faster than a shuffle and limped across the finish line, defeated.

In the weeks that followed, I visited multiple doctors and took all kinds of tests. I am happy to report that nothing was found and I have a clean bill of health. I decided that the scare was my body giving me notice that it does indeed have limits, but as I have said before I enjoy pushing those limits. The little scare humbled me, but weeks later that would turn to motivation...

Happy wife, Happy life

That's my motto for this new year and, well, for the rest of my years.

I haven't written in a very long time, but i'd like to get back into the habit so please forgive me as I shake off the rust...

As you all know by now, I said "I do" to the love of my life, Mrs. Lindsey Cavinder, back on December 29th. Our big day was simply unforgettable. I am so blessed to call such an amazing and godly woman my wife.

We've spent the last month honeymooning, "nesting" in our new place and learning to live with each other. I've got to say, I have had it easy. I get to live with someone who cleans up after themselves, makes me dinner and smells wonderful. On the contrary, she lives with a slob who eats too much and smells like a sweaty dude. Sorry, sweetie!

As you also know, another commitment made in December will also have a large impact on my life, and that is the signing of Albert Pujols. In one month, my personal and professional lives went through a dramatic shift. Needless to say this will be an exciting year at home and at the office!

I am looking forward to this year, the challenges and opportunities it holds. To be honest, I can't believe it is already February. Here we go!