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.