Razorback Relentless

cra·zy /ˈkrāzē/
adjective: crazy; comparative adjective: crazier; superlative adjective: craziest

mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way.
“Stella went crazy and assaulted a visitor”
synonyms: mad, insane, out of one’s mind, deranged, demented, not in one’s right mind, crazed, lunatic, non compos mentis, unhinged, mad as a hatter, mad as a March hare

Crazy. Running. Crazy. Running a 50k. Crazy. Running a 50k in Luna Sandals. Being crazy isn’t a bad characteristic, as I have been able to push my body beyond limits I have never imagined possible. If asked at age 40 what I would see myself doing in 5 years it would NEVER have included running, no less a 31.5 mile race. Yet that crazy in me came through just 7 days prior to participating in the Razorback Relentless Endurance Race that took place this last weekend at Harvey Bear Lake in San Martin. For me, it was my second attempt at a 50k, after finishing my first last April running the Diablo Trails Challenge in 8:53:33.

I had 4.5 hours of thoughts to myself as Brian Nobori and I came off the last portion of the 4.75 “relentless” trail loop. We would end up finishing the race on a 2-mile paved loop. While the expectation was to start and finish together, Brian encouraged me to ramble on as we hit the start/finish line 3:30 hours (14 miles) into the race. He required a shoe change due to soreness in his foot. These had to be the longest 4.5 hours of any run. The worst part, the monotony of the loop.

razorback_sun_moonWhile the 2-mile paved loop was referred to as “the big easy” it was more challenging that I feel it should have been. I doubt climbing 667 feet over 2.5 miles on the trail would have been any less challenging, but there is something special running on trails during a race. I felt more tired on the hard surfaced asphalt than I did on the trails, even commenting to Brian that the soles of my feet would hurt from the rocky trails the next morning.

I don’t fault my decision to wear Luna Sandals for the Razorback Relentless 50k, I had made the transition successfully and had been running in sandals for close to 18 months and felt I was ready to challenge myself. I had good luck running trails, but the longest run in the sandals had only been 11.61 miles, during the 2014 Tough Mudder in Lake Tahoe. So maybe crazy was borderline stupid, but pushing myself and learning what I can endure made this attempt worth it.

Going into the run I knew I had not trained enough, much like the Diablo Trails Challenge I only put in about 18 miles in the month leading up to Saturday’s event. Unfortunately due to family, work and other commitments I had not been running as consistently as I was prior to my first 50k last year. No matter how you look at it, a 50k is a challenge, even if you are prepared, especially on trails.

Brian Nobori and I coming off the relentless trail for the first loop.

Brian Nobori and I coming off the 4.75 mile relentless trail for after the first loop greeted by the race director.

During the day, as fatigue set in, my feet and ankles began to hurt. “Quit” and “can’t” were two words not in my vocabulary during the race. The fun and enjoyment that followed the early hours was gone, replaced with a post to Facebook that said, “…and I thought this would be fun.” Counting down laps didn’t ease the pain as I attempted to keep my mind occupied and off the increasing pain in my feet and ankles.

I often wondered how I was going to describe this run. Epic? Grueling? Demanding? Challenging? Fun? Relentless? My body went through different stages the further I went. At 5 hours I had just finished 20 miles and still had over 11 miles remaining! I continued on, the scenery didn’t change, the mental aspect of running kicked in and no matter what, quitting was not an option. One foot in front of the other; relentless forward progress was the key to finishing.

The 50k was one of the “shorter” races of the weekend, 10 runners had signed up for the 72 hour endurance challenge that began on Thursday at 6pm. Another flight of runners started on Friday afternoon for their 48 hour endurance run, while the remaining runners all started together at 6a on Saturday. While I didn’t know many names, faces became familiar running both the trail and the loop. It was great hearing encouraging words from fellow runners, many of which were running longer distances.

Every loop past the aid station you were met with some cheers and volunteers ready to take care of you requests. Food was plentiful on Saturday and helped supplement my Medjool date consumption (one every mile…Sorry Julie, I think it’s not PD approved). Unfortunately, I made some poor choices when I stopped to eat. Early on it was banana halves, bagels and muffins. As the day wore on I found myself grabbing crappy food, like Wheat Thins, but steered clear of sugary snacks, pizza and grilled cheese. Sometime during the day the potatoes FINALLY made it onto the food table, this was a welcomed relief.


Race Director, Tracy Johnson and I at the finish line being awarded my medal.

Crossing the finish line was very unrewarding compared to finish the Diablo Trail Challenge. That “runner’s high” I experience a year ago never materialized. Maybe the severity of the pain did not allow those endorphins to be released. Seeing buddies cheering me on as I came down the chute to the finish line might have factored into it. As I made my finishing time official I crashed into my chair and just sat there resting. I unstrapped my Lunas and slide my sandals off, attempting to relax the feet, but the damage had been done. Unfortunately my Garmin 210 crapped out less than a half mile to go, but showed a time of 8:07:06.

As I relaxed I attempted to compare this run to my first 50k, but aside from the distance there was very little similarity between the runs. Both were challenging and finishing was the goal. I run under the mantra of “finishing is winning” especially at these distances. Taking that view, the Razorback Relentless was a success! Maybe the sense of accomplishment was greater when I ran the Diablo Trails Challenge due to the amount of climbing I did, compared to running 17 miles around a 2-mile asphalt loop or the fact I had a 50k already under my belt. Regardless, that loop that was not exhilarating. The increase in pain with each step took away much of the enjoyment during this challenge.

A few lessons were learned. First, while I believed my feet were in condition to run in sandals, the distance was too long. I probably should have changed into my Salomon Speedcross 3 shoes when Brian changed out of his Hokas. I didn’t and paid the price. Second I am not fond of running loops, especially the 2-mile asphalt variety. While the 4.75 trail would have been more challenging with my feet in decline it would have made the time go by faster, but guarantee I would not have finished in the time I did. Finally, this run tells me that I am not ready to challenge a 50 mile run, but will at the starting line on April 4.

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In the Air

hex_beamAmateur radio, I fell into the hobby in 1995 while living in Arlington, Texas, after successfully passed the exam I was awarded KC5NWR as my first call sign. It wasn’t long after that I moved back to California, but rarely used my call sign. With no transceiver or antenna, the best I did was hit a few local repeaters while living with my parents in Poway.

Fast forward 10 years and my license came up for renewal through the FCC. Out of curiosity, I was started looking for a “vanity call sign” or a call sign that I came up with that fit the specific required for amateur radio. I typed in ‘W6ONV’, which was my father’s old call sign. To my disbelief it was STILL available! I quickly did the electronic paperwork, paid the fee and waited. I was thrilled to be awarded W6ONV and life on HF (high frequency began)…sorta.

It would be 2 more years, two exams, as well as about $1000 before I was “on-air” making my first SSB (voice) QSO (or contact) with WH6R (Eran) in beautiful Hawaii. Early on I realized I would need to operate within the limits of my station. Running 100w and “working the world” using voice was very difficult at times because of the poor solar conditions. While that did not discourage me, I did find enjoyment and activity running digital modes or modes that require the use of a computer.

In 2008 I would find a niche that appealed to me, Radiosport otherwise knowing as contesting. The goal of contesting is simple, make the most contacts within a given time period. Contesting is great fun because it allowed a small station, like me to participate and “work the world” logging many new entities (countries) in a short period of time. It also allowed me time to chase ARRL and CQ awards, for example working all 50 states or all 7 continents. My first contest the 2008 RAC Canada Winter Contest. I logged 31 QSOs and 6 Canadian provinces.

When 2012 came to a close, I found my wife confined to bed due to lower back surgery and the house in disarray due to a move. While amateur radio was part of my daily life, it took a back seat to life and other priorities. I knew the hobby would still be there when I returned. Unfortunately I didn’t expect it to be 26 months later, but I am pleased to have the hex beam antenna.

clotheslineI didn’t start the day with the intention to get the antenna raised, which had been sitting on a tripod on the grass continually being mistaken as a clothesline. It had been about 3 months since I had mowed the grass and the backyard was looking a bit like the jungle. After spending the day pulling weeds, mowing grass and doing a general clean up, I looked at the hex beam again and wondered how I could get it raised…safely. The first attempt last summer failed miserable and I ended up snapping one of the fiberglass rods. In preparation for raising the antenna I had to reach across the fence and chop off a branch to provide me clearance to get the antenna up.

I spent about an hour prepping the mast and evaluating the “how do I do this” before I made the attempt. Thankfully the hex beam isn’t heavy, but very awkward. While the safer course of action would have been to ask for help from my neighbor, he wasn’t home and I didn’t want to wait. The worst that could happen, I would drop the antenna and probably break more of the fiberglass rods.

I set the mast of the antenna in a 28 inch piece of PVC, which allowed me a more leverage on the antenna as I slowly walked it up the ladder. As I neared the top of the ladder I ran into clearance issues with the roof and that damn tree in my neighbor’s yard. My intention was to get the mast raised high enough that I cleared the hosue roof and this tree, which I won’t be able to trim.

After strong arming the antenna for about 5 minutes I was able to drop it into the mount on the antenna rotator. The next few minutes were spent tightening nuts to make sure the antenna was not going to move inadvertently. I also pointed the antenna to the northeast, just in case I wanted to connect the feed line and spin the dials in search of contacts.

Realistically, it will be a few more weeks before I get time and help to get the antenna  to a useable height and to get the feedline and rotator controls connected. Unfortunately the PC set up in the “shack” (which doubles as a storage unit and garage) has not been working, so I need to resolve more problems before I even think about turning on the power. Half of the battle is over and the hex beam is up, that had been the stumbling block since we moved in at the end of 2012.

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Relentless Running

deepdownIn 2013 I was compelled to sign up and run my first 50k (31.7 miles) on Mt. Diablo. Prior to that my longest run was only 16 miles, with a half marathon (1:58) under my belt. Physically, I did not train enough for the race, but mentally I knew I would finish before the time limit expired. The feeling I experienced running down the chute towards the finish line, seeing my race buddies cheering me on was am amazing feeling. It made the 8:53:33 I spent on the mountain worth it.

Endorphins were triggered and gave me a euphoric feeling for weeks following the 50k Diablo Trails Challenge. I desired to run longer distances, in fact I just wanted to get on the trails and run. I wasn’t chasing a goal, time wasn’t a factor, but having that relentless forward progress was something I was yearning for. As the year came to a close I made the decision to register for the next step as an ultra marathon runner, a 50 mile race.

razorback_sun_moonI signed up to run the American River 50 Mile Endurance Run in April, giving myself 3 months to train for the challenge. One reality I face, knowing I won’t have the time to log the number of miles I should be running in order to accomplish this challenge. Running 30 miles a week should provide me the foundation I need to accomplish my first 50 mile race. In preparation for that race I signed up late to participate in the Razorback Endurance Race next Saturday. The race is actually a series of races that include a 72/48/24 hour, 100 mile, 100k, 50 mile, 50k, marathon and half marathon. A little something for every level of runner. I plan on using this race as a long training and to hopefully kick start a more consistent training program.

Much like the first 50k I ran, I will be under trained, but mentally I will be strong enough to finish this endurance run. This will be my second attempt at this distance and like the Diablo Challenge last year, I will be running with a partner. We plan on running together for the full race, using a 9/2 ratio, where you run 9 minutes, walk 2 minutes, which will be the plan when we start the 50 mile race in April.

The course doesn’t appear to be as brutal as Mt. Diablo was, but for this 4.75 mile loop, the total climb is 651 feet. Multiply that by 6 laps and the total climb for the 50k is 3,906. Compare this to the 7.142 I experienced last you when I ran my first 50k. Take nothing away from this course, 31.5 will still be a challenge, one that I am looking forward to but not experiencing any pre-race “jitters.” Just getting out on a Saturday without a care in the world, no work to worry about, just me and the trails for 7+ hours.

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Let food be thy medicine…

hippocrates_quoteI don’t expect many to understand my rational for changing my eating habits and opting for a healthy lifestyle, even when many consider my decision “extreme.” Yet it never ceases to amaze at what comes out of individual mouths as it relates to how I and many others eat following “a diet rich in whole plant foods, free of all animal products, saturated fats, oils, nuts, sugar, artificial sweeteners and food additives,” as Julie Marie Christensen explains over at Protective Diet.

Many question and criticize how I eat, but don’t give a second thought as what they put in their mouths and how it will affect their health. This as they pop another pill, or inject themselves to control a plethora of diseases that ravage their body. Good health comes in the form of food, it won’t be found a magic pill or fad diet or labeled on a box. These are a collection of quotes from many individuals when questioned about the plant based lifestyle they follow.

“I could never give up my meat. I love it too much.”

“But avocados and olive oil are healthy fats.”

“So, you don’t care about plants? You know carrots scream when you pull them, right?”

Where do you get your protein?

“So…you’re in a cult?”

We all have to die. So, why not enjoy yourself first?

Well, what did you eat when you were a toddler?”

“So all you eat are fruits and salads”

Wow that’s a lot of food! You eat all that?

“I can’t believe you eat all those starches.”

“You need to eat protein.”

“You can’t do it with diet alone.”

“I could never give up cheese.”

What DO you eat?

You can’t lose weight without exercising.”

” Well what’s left, what can you eat?”

You do not even use olive oil? Olive oil is healthy.

I will literally die if I don’t eat meat!

Nuts are good for you, why no nuts?

“You’re setting yourself up for osteoporosis and infertility.”

Everything in moderation!

You’re food is nasty, I wouldn’t eat it!

“What is hippie dust?”

“Carbs are so bad for you.”

Animals are meant to be eaten.”

I would get fat eating all those carbs!

Fish is not an animal, it’s healthy.”

I can’t afford to eat like that.

The bible says we should consume meat.

I don’t have time for all of that cooking from scratch. It’s not realistic.

“Come on…live a little!”

I could never give up cheese or ice cream!

You need healthy fats!

You need fat to absorb vitamins.”

Healing is much longer and harder when you are vegan (not enough protein).”

Why can’t you eat normal?

Do you think maybe your diet caused the kidney stones?

You have to spend all day in the kitchen.”

“It is too expensive to buy the proper cooking tools.

“You can’t tell me that you don’t miss a good piece of meat.

Why don’t you eat dried fruit? It’s good for you.

When you get to your goal weight, will you eat meat again?”

You can add some nuts back in when you get to your goal. They are healthy. It won’t hurt you.

Where do you get your calcium? You need to drink milk don’t you.

That so extreme!

I can’t do that. Maybe if I had someone to do all the cooking for me.

Carbs are not your friend…

You’re not getting enough good fats and protein. No wonder you feel tired all the time.

Why do humans have the kind of teeth we have if we aren’t supposed to eat meat?

One time isn’t going to hurt you!”

“No, I’m actually a healthy weight for my height.”

Are you trying to live forever?

“Well what CAN you eat then?”

“Okay, what did you give up this time?”

Humans need the vitamins found in meat.

What about all those GMOs and pesticides in vegetables, at least meat is clean.

I can’t do PD because I’m type O positive.

Soybeans cause cancer and soy gave me my thyroid problem.

I can’t give up coffee because I have to go to work.”

“I only eat organic fish.”

“You shouldn’t eat wheat it causes belly fat.

“That’s not a complete protein!”

“Do you eat fish?”


God created animals for us to eat.

Coconut oil is good for you, it is antibacterial, helps you lose weight, cures Alzheimer’s, cures cancer, blah, blah, blah. You can’t eat wheat or corn, those domestic crops are foreign to our bodies. I only eat grass fed organic meat and butter (grass fed butter?).

It won’t hurt you just this once to eat this.

It’s filled with things you don’t like to eat; meat, cheese, mayo…”

“You got to live a little.”

“One bite won’t hurt .”

Is it a religious thing?

“Your husband is going to get man boobs if he keeps eating all that soy.”

“Your kids are gonna crave meat anyway…why not give it to them and stop shoving your beliefs down their throats?”

“It’s extreme when you cut something, like meat or dairy out of your diet.

We each make our own choices, but with obesity levels continuing to climb something must be be done. Could it go as far as government intervention? Possible. The USDA 2015 Dietary Guidelines are up in public domain for comment before finalization (thanks Lani Muelrath). “The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.” There is a demand to “reduce unhealthy options,” limit access to high calorie foods in public buildings, “limit the exposure” of advertisements for junk food, a soda tax, and taxing high sugar and salt items and dessert.” *source

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No Cookies

gsa_cookiesIt happens this time every year. The mini cookie peddlers, in their green vests seem to invade many retail establishments with heavy foot traffic pushing their boxes of sugary “crack.” While I respect the Girl Scouts organization I won’t be buying any cookies, in fact I haven’t bought any in the last 2 years and this year won’t be any different.

The attraction to these boxes is pretty amazing worldwide. Prior to changing my diet I would have purchased a few boxes to help support the Girl Scouts. Now that support has waned because there is nothing healthy about these little bites of love. That in itself is an entire writeup of just how bad these cookies are for you. Sadly, you won’t eat just one.

Another topic I won’t hit upon are the GMO that are included in Girl Scout cookies including the sugar, cottonseed and soybean oil, as well as the corn syrup and soy lecithin. All these are consider toxic and contain GMOs. Yet this is another topic for another time. Little Brownie Makers, a division of Keebler/Kelloggs must be held responsible.

Reading on their website, cookie sales helps girls learn, “goal setting, decision making, money management, people skills, and business ethics—aspects essential to leadership, success, and life.” I don’t experience the back end of this temporary business (goal setting, money management and decision making) but like millions of others, see the (lack of) people skills and business ethics.

This year I have seen them set up outside Lowe’s and Raley’s. Not once have I been greeted with hello or a reason why they sell the cookies. The first thing out of their mouth, “do you want to buy some Girl Scout cookies?” Obviously they are after one thing, my money. Not sure what is discussed when it comes to business ethics, but to taking up post regularly at retail establishments becomes frustrating to encounter. I have been approached multiple times in a single visit, going into a store and coming out. Not sure what the Girl Scouts have to say about that. In their defense I have seen tables and girls set up at the exit of some business only.

Fundraising is at the heart of many non-profit or not for profit organizations. I have been involved in fundraising with the local PTA as well as the Boy Scouts of America. Like the Girl Scouts fundraising is a necessary part of the organization in order to function. While I have been supportive of these fundraisers, I don’t support what some of them sell.

Our PTA has an apple fundraiser each year, by far one of the biggest ones opportunities with a good return on investment to help put coins in the coffer. While the apples are large and most likely juicy they are covered with sugary crap including M&Ms, carmel, Oreo, Snickers, nuts, white chocolate and chocolate, just to name a few. So basically this fundraiser, like that of the Girls are selling nothing more than sickness, disease and obesity. Just what Americans need in a county that sees a third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of our population obese and overweight.

To date the only fundraiser I have been involved with in scouting as been the selling of wreathes during Christmas time. Another great fundraiser, at least it was for our pack this year, but having nothing to compare it with I can only go off what leadership quotes based on last year. Of course during scout sponsored events, such as Pinewoord Derby, dens were asked to bring sugared goodies that would be sold during the event to raise money for the pack. So in retrospect this sort of fundraising is no better than other organizations.

Yet the Girl Scout cookies dwarfs both the PTA and local scouting events. Based on an NBC News report, “revenue from the sales of Girl Scout cookies has been around $700 million since 1999, based on sales of 200 million boxes at $3.50 per box.”

“Donna Ceravolo, CEO of Girl Scouts of Nassau County, New York, says a majority of the sales price of each box stays in the community. For each box sold, 85 cents per box goes to the baker to cover production, packaging, shipping of the cookies to the troop, and other incidental costs. Out of the remaining $2.65, 50 to 57 cents goes to the selling troop, which will use the funds to cover the cost of programming, community service projects and scholarships, and to offset the cost of participating in Girl Scouts.” *

While I don’t want to sound like a Grinch each time cookies selling season rolls around, I am more akin to lending support by giving a $20 donation as opposed to buying cookies. Selling seems to be so cutthroat to, with moms taking to social media, such as Facebook offering free delivery around the clock. So what are the girls doing if moms are the one peddling their cookies? Don’t see that as a good business ethic. So when school returns on Tuesday I will find my favorite kindergarten teacher and offer her $20 for her girls that are involved.

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