Saturday, February 16, 2008


I have been receiving therapy on my piriformis. Last week I saw a new therapist since Hal was out. He diagnosed the problem not only as piriformis but a slight reoccurance of a lower disc issue. About 5 years ago, I slipped a disc in my lower back less than 2 months before the Desaru Half-Ironman in Malaysia. Hal and his staff got me back in shape so that I was still able to complete the race. Here, it appears that the piriformis caused me to run those 60 or so miles at Rocky Raccoon with enough of a strange gait so as to irritate the disc again.

So, my therapy now includes both lower back/disc exercises and massgae plus piriformis therapy and massage (mostly using ART).

I am now using the foam rollers along with a Gymnic therapy ball to put pressure into the muscles.

Here is a small illustration to show the feelings/sensations obtained from these:

But overall, I feel the improvement.

Friday, February 15, 2008

HOLY SHI?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - BADWATER 135 HERE I COME!

As you may be aware from prior posts, I submitted my name to the selection committee for the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles from the lowest point in North America to the portal leading to the highest point in the continental United States.....through the Death Valley desert). The application, website, etc. were all very clear that the odds of being selected are very low. See here: Badwater Qualifying

I figured my chances of being selected equaled approximately ZERO. Last night I received the following:

Hello Alan:

Congratulations! You have been accepted to compete in the 2008 Badwater Ultramarathon. You are part of a select group who will participate in what is recognized across the globe as “the world’s toughest footrace.” In the near future, we will include your name and biographical information on the online roster. When we do, please check it for errors.

Here are the steps you need to take now:

1) Please let us know immediately if you will be UNABLE to race in July.


3) Make your hotel reservations immediately in Death Valley and Lone Pine. All of the hotel info is on the website at Be sure to mention “Badwater” or whatever other code is mentioned on the webpage when calling the hotels. Do this NOW as the hotels sell out quickly.

4) Start organizing your crew and vehicle. Have backup crewmembers ready, in case your intended crew can’t participate as planned. Make sure all your crewmembers study the website extensively, as well as the forthcoming Race Magazine. Be sure they know the rules and also how to take care of you, and themselves, in the heat! If you need more crew members, you might use our online “bulletin board” to find them:

5) If you haven’t already, please let us know which, if any, charity you will support with your Badwater efforts. We will list your charity information, and weblink, on the race roster next to your name. (This is true for any charity, not only for our Official Charity.)

6) Spread the word! Alert the media (newspapers, magazines, radio, television, Internet, running clubs, chamber of commerce, and more) in your area that you have been selected to compete in this prestigious race. Send them the press release from the race website at this link:

Keep the media posted about your training, preparation, and plans as the months progress between now and July, as well as after the race. Be sure to send us a copy, and/or weblinks, of any media coverage you receive!

7) Be sure you are subscribed to our e-mail newsletter. We also encourage your sponsors, friends, and crew to subscribe. Click to sign up. Remember that we are an Internet-based organization, so please stay tuned to our website and the newsletter for further information as the race gets closer.

Best of luck with your preparation and please let us know if there is anything further that we can do to help.

Congratulations again! We look forward to sharing the road with you in July.

Al Arnold, Jay Birmingham, Jeannie Ennis, Don Meyer, and Chris Kostman
(The 2008 Badwater Ultramarathon Application Review Committee)

More about the committee:

So, like my friend Eric Clifton, I will soon be Running on the Sun (well, actually, I'll be Walking on the Sun)! And, a special note to all my friends and Ultraholics conspirators: anyone interested in crewing?

Thursday, February 7, 2008


If you read my blog posts on the Tahoe Rim Trail and Riol Del Lago 100 milers, you would know Ray Sanchez. Ray and I struggled miles 50 to 60 together at TRT100. He and I passed each each other, chatted and got lost many times between us at Rio Del Lago. Today, the Sacramento Bee newspaper published a great article about him here: RAY SANCHEZ

It is very interesting that Ray, a former Olympic trials boxer and Golden Gloves winner has moved so well into the world of ultramarathoning. The article has some quotes from my friend (and co-finisher at TRT100) Peter Lubber and from me. For some reason (despite the fact I have only been doing ultras for a little more than a year) I am called an ultra veteran.......must be my age :)


OK- I saw my number one sports therapist today. Dr. Hal Rosenberg of the Chiro-Medical Group evaluated my RR100 issues.

He comfirmed that most of it was piriformis and some joint issues. He put me through a bunch of ART therapy. For those not familiar with ART, this is the excerpt from ChiroMedical's website:

Active Release Technique (ART)

ART is a soft tissue system of movement based massage techniques and myofascial release that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. Headaches, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, shin splints, shoulder pain, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, knee problems, and tennis elbow are just a few of the many conditions that can be resolved quickly and permanently with ART. These conditions all have one important thing in common: they are often a result of overused muscles.

How do overuse conditions occur?

Over-used muscles (and other soft tissues) change in three important ways:
• acute conditions (pulls, tears, collisions, etc),
• accumulation of small tears (micro-trauma)
• not getting enough oxygen (hypoxia).

Each of these factors can cause your body to produce tough, dense scar tissue in the affected area. This scar tissue binds up and ties down tissues that need to move freely. As scar tissue builds up, muscles become shorter and weaker, tension on tendons causes tendonitis, and nerves can become trapped. This can cause reduced range of motion, loss of strength, and pain. If a nerve is trapped you may also feel tingling, numbness, and weakness.

What is an ART treatment like?

Every ART session is actually a combination of examination and treatment. The ART provider uses his or her hands to evaluate the texture, tightness and movement of muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments and nerves. Abnormal tissues are treated by combining precisely directed tension with very specific patient movements. These treatment protocols - over 500 specific moves - are unique to ART. They allow providers to identify and correct the specific problems that are affecting each individual patient. ART is not a cookie-cutter approach.

Hal's finger and stretches tore into my muscles and joints. To quote John Mellencamp - it hurt so good. He gave me some stretching and foam roller exercises. I will be back. BTW: he mentioned a new hypoxic therapy that his office provides to help prepare for high altitiude events. I may check these out.

For those interested in Chiro-Medical's treatments, here is the info:

Hal Rosenberg, DC, QME, CCSP
246 First Street, #101
San Francisco, CA 94105
website: ChiroMedicalGroup
No- I get no kickbacks :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


When I was at mile 73 at Rocky Raccoon, I learned that Chihping and I were both drawn in the Wasatch Front lottery!

The next day I learned that we were not drawn in the Hardrock 100 lottery - but we were on the waiting list (I am 130, Yuki is 119 and Chihping is 159).

This morning I received this from the Badwater Ultra committee:


Thank you for submitting your application to compete in the 2008 Badwater Ultramarathon. All of your paperwork has arrived at the race office, therefore your application is officially under review by the
2008 Badwater Ultramarathon Application Review Committee. (I am just one of five members of that committee.)

Due to the high volume of applicants, it's unfortunate that it is impossible to invite every qualified athlete who applies, including some race veterans. Thus, we appreciate your understanding if you are not invited this year. If that’s the case, we encourage you to support another runner in the race (thus enhancing a future
application) as this race could not go on without dedicated and competent support crews.

You will be notified via email that you have, or have not been, confirmed to compete in the 2008 Badwater Ultramarathon. At that time, your entry fee payment (if sent by check or money order with your paperwork) will either be deposited or destroyed, or you will have no more than seven days to pay by credit card (if you choose that method), or if you chose to fund-raise on behalf of CAF to earn a free entry, you will begin that process.

Entry confirmations may be made as early as February 15 or as late as June 15. Again, due to permit, safety, and operational restrictions that limit the field to 90 entrants or less, we apologize now that many qualified applicants will not be accepted.

Thank you for your interest in competing in the world's toughest running race!

Chris Kostman, Race Director,
as well as the entire Application Review Committee

So - I'll be keeping my fingers crossed. This would be a neat one to do as the last day of the 2008 race is July birthday.

I managed to make it through the on-line rush for the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc. My status is confirmed and but for a note from my doctor attesting to my physical strength (or mental weakness) I am good to go.



Well - everybody has a first at everything. This was a first for me. I originally hoped it would be my first sub-24 hour 100 miler (161km). Instead it was my first DNF. I made it 80 miles (around 120km) but was forced to stop due to leg pain (piriformis). In addition, it seemed to be one of the races where nothing seemed to go as planned.

At the pre-race meetings the mood was excited and spirited. The RD's gave a great intro.

The evening before the race, I was packing my drop bags and realized that I left my arm warmers at home. Darn - I was hoping to have those for the early morning and night runs. Oh well, I did have some long sleeve shirts and a jacket so I would manage. I then headed out to town to have my standard pasta and red sauce pre-race dinner. I spent over an hour trying to find a spot in Huntsville that served pasta to no avail. Finally, I went to a supermarket and settled on the closest thing I could feast on:

I got to the race and got everything ready. I was bringing my blackberry so I could send updates and photos. As I got out of my car the last I put my race belt on with my blackberry in the back and camera on the side.

The countdown started and off we went. I was worried about my cold and sinus infection (I won't describe what came out of my nose that morning) but I was feeling pretty good.

About 2 minutes into the run I happened to pat my race belt where my blackberry was....the pocket was open and there was no blackberry! Crap! I knew this would bother I turned around and like a salmon, went against stream back to the start. I looked around my drop bag and the grass nearby. I grabbed my car keys and ran to the car and sure enough it was on the front seat. I grabbed it and headed back to start the race AGAIN. I had given myself a nice 9 minute 20 second handicap, but thought that was OK.

I caught the back runners by mile 2 and slowly worked my way forward. I was feeling nice and easy. The time off due to the cold actually seemed to have helped a lot.
The course is definitely fast - I was cruising at sub 22 hours and feeling absolutely perfect.

However at mile 17 my piriformis started hurting. I came in mile 20 (first loop) and felt like I had just done a 5 mile jog except for my leg pain. I went out again and the leg kept getting worse. I was limping by mile 27. I would stop and do all my stretches but it wasn't really helping. By mile 33 I could no longer lift my left leg and bend the knee - I had to just shuffle it. I was so frustrated. I decided to see if changing shoes would help (I had a second pair in my drop bag). I changed them and actually it felt better. I made it to Mile 40 (loop 2) feeling a lot more confident. I actually felt that the problem was gone. But I didn't even make it to mile 44 when I was back to a hobble.

I saw Catra and we talked about it. She wished me luck but had to leave - I was just sitting on a log.

If this was mile 75 then maybe I could, but this was mile 44 and I couldn't even walk 4 miles an hour. That was a long f'n walk. I started off trying to see what I could do. I kept massaging the leg and stretching and found that I could actually handle downhills with pretty fast runs (the problem was lifting the leg, it was not really necessary to lift very high with downhills). But the limping was not only making my right knee sore, the sideways motion was creating blisters on both feet. Yeah...this was fun. At least the scenery was nice.

I ended up catching up with Catra at mile 50. We stayed together a bit and I actually passed her going down one hill - this limp/running sucked but I was moving. Then around mile 51 my left leg hit the ground and I felt a sharp shot of pain around my left knee and fell to the ground. A runner coming from the opposite direcion rushed over to help. I stood up thinking the worse, but it actually felt the same. Catra shouted "Go Alan - you're half-way home". So I continued.

Catra and I walked into mile 56 together. I sat down and an aid station worker tried to help my legs with a massage bar. After 15 minutes I got up and limped on. After about 10 minutes my left leg had gotten so stiff and painful, I could no longer bend at the knee without pain - so no downhill runs, nothing but a shuffle. By now my right leg was getting very sore from overcompensating for the left leg limp and the blisters were getting worse.

I made it into the aid station at 60 after an eternity of walking. I sat down and one of Vinod's friends who had been there at Sunmart (and who had been giving me moral support) came over to help. I went into the medical tent. There another worker tried to use a massage bar on my leg. I can tell you - it hurt like all hell when that bar went over my thigh and calf muscles. But when I stood up I could actually bend my leg.

I changed into my top and put on my Eric Clifton tights. I rested a bit and had some beans and rice. Next thing I knew 45 minutes had passed! I did not have that time cushion.

I stood up and took off. I could actually jog. This was great! I met up with someone else and we made it to mile 64 but my leg was tightening up again. I sat in a chair and using my fingers tried to massage my leg the same places as the massage bar seemed to work. It helped but I was limping and before I hit Mile 67 aid station, it was back to a shuffle. It was a long long walk out to station 70. I sat down and dozed off for about 15 minutes. When I woke up I felt good and my knee wasn't hurting as much.

So off again. I made it to the aid station at 73 and the aid station began working on my knee again. He really tore into the tight parts and when I stood I was able to stand up and bend my leg. I took off ...I was actually able to jog again. I will say this - Rocky Raccoon aid volunteers - ROCK!!!!! They were so supportive and helped so much.

But within a mile, my right leg, which was very sore began to hurt. Soon it was stiff and very painful. I would take a step with my sore left leg and the most I could move my right leg forward was to be even with my left. This was so pathetic. It took me nearly 2 hours to get 4 miles.

There are cut-offs (I had to be on loop 5 by 6:00am) and cut-offs one hour after that continuing at each aid station. I had 4 hours to go 3 miles and make the cut-off. I thought that even at my gait I could do that, but it would be close. After that I would only have around 8 hours to go the final loop. My body felt fresh enough (I was sleepy, but I had the energy) and I certainly had the stamina, I just plain could not walk. I knew then my race was over - by things completely out of my control.

I shuffled in the 80 miles and turned in my timing chip. It really sucked as it was right where finishing runners were being given their belt buckles. I sat down on a chair and one volunteer came over to me - looked at me and said he could see how swollen my right knee was - which was surprising since I didn't mention my right knee and I was wearing the Clifton tights whic seemed capable of hiding almost anything :)

I went back to the hotel and slept for about 20 of the next 24 hours. I then had fun popping my blisters (here are 4 of the 5 on my right foot).

Oh well - next race I will buckle! My left leg is sore and tender, my right leg is sore and stiff. Hopefully they will be better tomorrow. I will be seeing my sports therapist this week! I can not let this happen again.

At least one thing that could have got me didn't:

Oh and as a post-script. My flight out of Houston was delayed so I had to run through Denver airport 30 gates on sore/tired legs to barely catch my connecting flight to SFO. We than sat on the tarmac for almost an hour. Oh...the airline appears to have lost my luggage (including all my race gear). They "think" it is in Denver. What a fun time!

Friday, February 1, 2008


Well, I am in Texas (agan) for work (again) and it is one day before Rocky Raccoon 100. I was hoping to make this my true sub-24 hour race, but have adjusted my goals to just try and finish and get a belt buckle. I had some good racing and training through December, but (like everyone) holidays put that on hold for the last couple weeks and first week 07 and 08. I started to pick it up again, did some nice San Bruno mountain running and then, now two weeks ago, came down with a head cold. I actually wasn't too worried as I figured 3 days later I'd be running again. But nope - only 2 runs since that time, one 6 miler & one 4 miler. I am still congested in the head & chest, and fighting a lingering sinus infection. So......excuses have been laid out. I will shoot for the sub 30 hours (the cut-off) and get the buckle. I am now entered into the Keys 100 that travels from Key Largo to Key West - I will try and make that my sub-24 hour goal race. In the meantime, I'll be running the RR 100 with running nose and feet :)