2014 Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Race Report


The Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Mile Endurance Run. TRT100. “A glimpse of heaven, a taste of hell.” Whatever you call it, the breathtaking course which spreads over the sierras is delightfully punishing. With approximately 22,000’ of vertical climbing and an equal amount of descent, all runners get to feel the burn of lactic acid coursing through their quads as a constant counterpart to the burn in their lungs from sucking precious and scarce oxygen from the thin air at higher altitude.


This is the race which my wife and I hoped to get the chance to experience when we entered the lottery. This is the race which allowed us to train with so many friends throughout the long winter and spring months who were either gunning for TRT or Western States. This is the race for which I played a crafty game of “dodge the injury” for the better part of a year, building up from a femoral stress fracture while avoiding another physical disaster. This is a race which will break you down and force you to face who you are at your most basic, stripped down form. It’s a journey which every soul who steps out there is fortunate to undertake.


The starting area was sizzling. The 100M crowd started a full hour before the 50M and 50K runners, so it was just a huge mob of restless runners spastically cheering, hugging, and impatiently waiting to begin a long journey. The energy was insane, and every time I bumped into someone I knew (which was about every five feet) I noticed the same look in their eyes, a mixture of apprehension and excitement. We all knew that whatever lay ahead, we were in for one hell of an experience.

Start Gang

Soon, we all started the first 6 mile climb. A few began conserving immediately, but by and large we were too thrilled to finally be racing to think of walking. During this section I saw an incredible amount of friends! Deirdre cruised by with her signature beaming smile. Scott flew by feeling great. (I couldn’t believe it, since he had run Western States just three weeks earlier. That guy is a beast.) Our good friend Helen, who is one of the sweetest and most generous people I know, ran with us for a bit before speeding off to run a phenomenal first 100M. Laura and I kept a moderate pace, letting our legs warm up gradually and our lungs get used to their challenging task for the day (and night, and day again).


As we chugged along through the forest we could hear loud cracks. POP….POP……POP! They sounded like gunshots, which oddly would not be a new experience running up there. I was trying to listen for how close they were when I found that they were not gunshots at all! We turned a corner, sprawled out into a clearing, and were confronted by a man with a bullwhip riding a 10’ unicycle and a fortune teller, welcoming us to Hobart Aid Station! They were fantastic, and the aid tent had been dressed up like a circus tent, with all characters present but clowns. There were FOUR TABLES full of food, and I grabbed several things in an effort to stay ahead of calorie burn.


I gave myself permission to be annoyed with how long it was taking to warm up, and looked forward to the section ahead. This is where it gets rocky, and you hug the sides of hills as you ascend to lofty views and higher elevation. We left the station, ran about five hundred feet, and I felt a problem. “Hold on a sec,” I gurgled, and dove toward a nearby stump. I completely emptied my stomach, not ten miles into the race. I briefly feared a miserable 30+ hours of solid puking ahead, but as usual I felt a lot better after the stomach reset. It’s the kind of sudden nausea I only get from altitude. No rhyme or reason to when it happens; it just happens. I stood up, said, “I’m good, let’s go!” and we resumed right where we’d left off, cruising along comfortably and soaking in the immensity of the gorgeous world around us.

Hobart Vista

Tunnel Creek was the first time we saw our crew, and it was amazing! Leslie, Erik, and Megan had hiked in three miles with our gear so that they could see us for two minutes. They sprayed us down with sunscreen, bug spray, and Tri-Slide, chatting and asking all the right pointed questions about how we were doing so far. In a flash we were launching out of Tunnel Creek and down the endless luge into the Red House Loop, and it was only 6 miles until we saw them again as we climbed out. There is one irrefutable truth about a good crew: if you find yourself grinding out a long climb, seeing their beautiful faces in the distance gives your body a sudden surge of energy. I still felt awkward and disjointed, but I was hopeful that soon I’d warm up.

Return from RHL

Tunnel Laura Smile

Tunnel Puke or Lube

Laura and I kept a good pace on our climb up to Bull Wheel, which we passed on our way to our favorite part of the course, the Tyrolian downhill. As we climbed higher, we expected to feel steadily worse. As we gained more altitude we both felt more tired and out of breath, but I finally clicked into a good rhythm and settled into a nice groove! It only took 27 miles, dammit! We ran with Tina Hyde for a bit, who was going strong and went on to earn a big ol’ bag of redemption at the finish line. I began to get a headache, but it disappeared once we rollercoastered our arses down the next four mile descent.

DP day arrival

At the bottom we rolled into the bustling party which was the Diamond Peak Aid Station at mile 30. We got to see our parents for the first time, and they lavished us with attentive care. One could not ask for a better crew than we had for this race. Stan, Charlotte, Anne, Leslie, Erik, Megan, you are the absolute best. In the craziness of that huge station, packs got filled, sunblock got sprayed, Ensure got guzzled, gel flasks got replaced, and we got tons of hugs and high fives. It was also wonderful to see unexpected buddies like the Carbonis and Mr. Brantley. It seemed that everywhere I turned, there was a familiar face. Laura cracked the whip and we took off, stopping to get doused by the hosemaster on our way out. The next two miles climb 2,000’ up a ski slope, and the reflecting heat from the white sand was not going to help.

DP day hangout

DP day climb

We gripped our poles, broke it down into smaller segments, and proceeded to grind it out. At one point a guy running the 50M caught up to us and started chatting between gasps, focusing on anything other than what our legs were doing. We rounded a corner and he let out an obscenely loud, “HOLY FUCK!!!”

There are something like 37 false summits on that climb, and it is ridiculous. However, I succeeded in drinking 5 gulps of tailwind every time we paused. By the top I was extremely happy about the calories I held in my belly but I was hot. So damn hot. I guzzled a whole Solo cup of water at the top, but as we trotted away I immediately regretted it. Again, I dove for the side of the trail and heaved my guts out for a good couple of minutes. I mean really wretching. That’s just the way I do it, all or nothing. For the rest of the race various strangers would approach and marvel at how well I had bounced back. “I thought you were a goner!” seemed to be a popular sentiment. I did feel better, but I worried about all those calories now slowly saturating the ground instead of my innards.


By this point I was feeling like a well tuned car, purring along the trails with ease despite having a problem with fuel intake. The next ten or so miles were very pleasant, and we talked a lot, picking up other runners and forming a kind of train up to Snow Valley Peak, the highest point of the course. A storm was clearly moving in fast, and the highest point is no place to be when lightning hits, so we laid it down and rushed off of that mountain as fast as we could! It’s a good thing, because as soon as we got just below the tree line the top started to get struck. The flashes were blinding and the thunder shook my bones. Rain was now falling, but we barely noticed in our haste to get away from the damn electrical death beams shooting down from above! As we met up with our trail buddy Karen the hail began. I did my best to calm her down while thunder boomed like cannon fire, but the truth is that it was a scary situation. We ran together all the way to the 50M turnaround.

Spooner 50 rain

The 50 mile point was insane. There were those finishing their 50 mile races and those with 50 more to go, so the mood was a mix of relaxed celebration and determined tenacity, with a healthy dose of manic pit crew action. As I hiked up the last little climb into the station, my dad cheered loudly from under his Raiders poncho and the rest of the amazing family crew was not far away. Megan wrapped me in a hearty tacklehug and my friend Matt ordered me to down some hot soup.

Spooner Soup

I sat to reset my body, mind, and gear for the next 50 miles, only to realize that I didn’t really NEED to reset. I was ready. I felt comfortably warmed up by the first half and was confident going into the second. We were about 45min behind our projected pace but I felt good about the steady level of effort we had been employing. It was sustainable, and that’s the whole point. Laura and I both guzzled some Ensure/coffee mix , and as I fiddled with my shoes, I noticed two friends sandwiching Laura in a hug burrito to keep her warm. The weather was horrendous, but here were countless people willingly toiling in the elements for others. It was spectacular to see.

Spooner 50 Sitting

We shot out of the Start/Finish and down the trail with our first pacer, Tom, trying to fight the shivers and warm ourselves from the inside. Tom is a beast. Tom ran sub-24 at WS100, then showed up to pace us 30 miles through the night. Tom is also like a goddam human stopwatch, and as we chatted about everything from novels to footwear, he led us on a pace which completely shaved off those 45 minutes by the time we hit Tunnel Creek. Laura had started throwing up and I was getting worried about her being able to run on fewer and fewer calories for any duration, but here we were, flying through the night.


The Red House Loop, despite being the lowest point in altitude, is probably the most mentally draining aspect of the whole race. It is a long steep downhill, a long boring uphill, then a really steep uphill back up to Tunnel. Tom pulled out a genius ploy from his bag of ultra tricks and kept us going in 40 pace blocks, with 10 second breaks. We churned out all the climbing this way, and picked up a few tagalongs. We were later told that Tom’s Train was the only thing that got some of those people through Red House!


Tom did his best to keep us on track, but we slowed progressively during the night. After running for 20 hours straight, it’s easy to get tired in that 1-4am window. Really fucking tired. Add in the fact that neither of us could stomach any solid food, and the energy levels were at a 10-foot-deep-pit kind of low. Trusty Tom still got us to mile 80 right at our goal time, but Laura had been puking for the last ten hours, I had been raging my own internal battle against the vomit reflex, and our legs were feeling the fact that they had covered 80 miles. The night can be a dark time for the soul.


When we entered the ski lodge aid station, our crew swarmed like concerned and loving bees. They took our packs and did everything, while Laura and I slumped into chairs, trying to muster up the gumption to stand up and take on the 2,000’ ascent waiting just outside. I wanted to bear hug Tom and thank him, but he had already disappeared into the crowd. I tried to eat soup. Gross. Dad handed me Ensure/coffee. Not bad. I drank what I could, feeling guilty for not downing the whole thing and thankful for the wonderful people in my life. I looked over and caught Laura’s eye. We sat looking at each other for several seconds of shared exhaustion, pain, and understanding. We were both feeling hollowed out and broken down, but this was what we were after. Hardships breed the strength to endure. Strength breeds humility and gratitude. The journey celebrates the love of life and the courage to live it fully.


Megan yelled at us to get in gear and we shuffled out the door with the goal of reaching the top of the slope by sunrise. I had my doubts but was ready to surrender the planning to someone else, and I trust the fantastic Miss Lacey. She knew better than to trust our sense of what we felt was doable, and demanded more from us on that hill than I thought was possible to give. We passed countless vomit stains on our way up Diamond Peak, our beaten feet slipping in the thick sand. Megan navigated the most solid path, and I held on to the knowledge that the sun would rise soon.


As we crested the top, the sun showed its first glimmer over the mountainous horizon and washed away the misery of night. I felt new energy course through me, waking me up and making me appreciate all the loveliness surrounding me. We were in the most beautiful place I’ve ever been, I felt connected to the earth and those I was with, and I made it a point to consciously soak up the warmth of the second sunrise since I had begun running. So what if I was about to blow chunks. Nausea can suck it.


The next 18 miles are a bit hazy for me, not because I was out of it, but because I didn’t know how to process what was happening. By all accounts, my body felt terrible. My legs ached, my chest felt tight, blood was soaking through one shoe, I had eaten nothing but liquid for the last 18 hours, and my anti-chafe efforts were proving to be dismally ineffective. Nonetheless, I was honestly enjoying myself. Some parts were hard, and some were harder, but by that time nothing felt easy. Our focus was reduced to staying upright, moving forward, and talking when we could. Once again, I was baffled by how much Laura can deal with and run through. She was getting dizzy and faint, but kept trucking along. When she paused, it wasn’t to feel better; it was because she NEEDED to in order to stay conscious. That sparkly exterior belongs to the toughest, most determined person I know. My hero.

Final Stretch

I cannot express how glad I was to have Megan guiding us. She made us run when we didn’t want to, eat when we didn’t want to, drink when we didn’t want to, and she did it all with endless patience and a spectacular amount of care. At one point I watched her gathering supplies and remembered that she had soaked her cankles nearly 24/7 for three solid weeks to recover from States, flown down to California, gotten up at 3am to see us start, crewed all day, met us at 4am the next day to run 20 miles, and was attending to our every need while accepting the agonizingly feeble pace we could maintain. I thought, “That woman is a good person, the kind that’s rare to have as a friend.” The three of us laughed, chatted, commiserated, celebrated, and enjoyed the unique camaraderie that I imagine can only come from pacing each other to our first 100 mile finishes. We hit Spooner Lake and could see the finish tent across the water. This is when I knew it would happen. We would get there.


As we closed in on the finish, I could hear our family and friends cheering ahead. I knew that Megan could feel the overwhelming pride that we felt, since she had experienced it only weeks earlier. It isn’t just pride, though. It is knowing that you can achieve far more than you think possible. It is knowing that when you find yourself in a deep, dark pit, when the world is crushing you and there seems to be no hope, you can trust yourself to buck up and weather the storm. It’s having found faith in oneself, and in loved ones to step in and guide you when needed.  In one moment, I understood the amount of caring and selflessness shown by our crew and pacers to get us to this point, and it nearly made my heart burst from my chest.


In those final steps, nearly thirty one hours and a world away from where we started, relief rushed over me as I took my wife’s hand and caught her eye.


THIS is the experience we wanted. THIS is the culmination of our dedication to training. THIS is redemption for past failures. THIS signifies the healing of my broken body. THIS is what makes us strong. THIS is what I love. THIS is who I love. THIS is the life I love.







If It Ain’t Right, Make It Right

A couple months ago I finished constructing my first violin. Or fiddle. Or whatever you prefer to call a tiny shoulder mounted cello. I began to learn to play and achieved a few decent phrases in the midst of the bumbling screeching of a man’s first attempts to play the fiddle. The thing is, I could hear that something was amiss. I am so used to listening intently for the way an acoustic instrument is resonating that I couldn’t ignore a certain brashness in the tone. A rawness that seemed inappropriate for the age old singer of melodies. Frankly, it sounded like a stereo with the highest slider on the EQ thrown up to 11.


I realized that just sealing and treating the wood with tung oil is not enough for a violin. I immediately did some research and ordered some proper violin varnish. A couple days ago I finally got around to disassembling the thing and applying the ground coat to the body and headstock.


The varnishing process will take weeks to perform, but here is some photographic evidence of the first step!


Before, with just Tung Oil. I like this finish a lot, not for its ease of application, but because it lets the wood really speak without being interfered with. However, a violin needs a bit of taming.

fiddle before fiddle before 2



And after the first coat of varnish.

fiddle after



I am very interested to find out how this will affect the voice of the instrument!





“Hey. How’s it going? I want to do something special for this party. There are going to be bands, comedians, fire dancers, a burlesque group, and like over a hundred people. Will you help me brew a special beer for it?”


As I heard my brother’s voice on the other end of the line, it struck me how perfect the idea was. Everyone was encouraged to make or bring something, and creating a keg of unique custom suds seemed like just the kind of unexpected and generous thing we Matzes are fond of. I immediately jumped on the opportunity and we started brainstorming.


The plan ended up to be to use a Lagunitas style IPA as a base and add a bit of herby goodness. The trick would be to add the right amount, just enough to be interesting without becoming like a mouthfull of weird bubbly medicine. We followed a recipe I’ve used many times,  but thinned it out a bit with extra water and added a fresh branch of Rosemary cut straight from the giant mutant bush in my backyard in the last five minutes of the boil and during the cooldown. Later I pitched the yeast and capped it, setting it in the cool shade of my closet to bubble away.


Throughout the next two weeks I enjoyed the aroma of the yeast’s work every time I opened the door. Those little organisms feasting on an abundance of malt extract created their signature scent, which I only hope doesn’t stick to my clothing too much!


When it was time to keg, it was anyone’s guess what it would taste like. I siphoned and strained the golden nectar into a 5gal keg and cooled it for a couple days before tasting. I poured a bit from the tap and tasted. BINGO! JUST RIGHT!


Granted it was quite a strong beer, probably around 9% and with an herby, hoppy punch, but everyone at the party seemed to like it and I heard quite a few say they preferred it to the Racer 5 IPA which was also there. A statement like that will make a brewer’s heart proud! In fact, I went back to retrieve the keg the next day and it was bone dry. The experiment had worked out and my head is swimming with possibilities for the next infusion to try.






A Long Road With a Distant Goal


Recovery is an interesting thing. I mean that in many different ways. It is interesting how it is not given a second thought if one is not immediately faced with the need for it. It is interesting how there are a million different methods of tackling it, and every individual finds their own way through it. It is interesting that it can be a catalyst for change in the person as a whole.


I’ve been going through a period of mixed feelings. On one hand, this feels familiar; there have been countless times during races when things have been low and I’ve had to just keep grinding forward, focused on the upswing to come. On the other, running was such a big part of my life that I do feel an underlying loss, and I think that has to be recognized and accepted as part of finding my way through this. I am going to be out of commission for a while, and I plan to handle recovery with every bit as much dedication and common sense as I normally try to handle training. I’ll try to check in often and share the journey with you, whom I know understand my mindset more than most.


In the meantime, an idea has taken hold and I’m going to move forward with it. Through running I’ve been fortunate to meet a thousand people with different stories. One common theme, at least in the long distance stuff, seems to be long term struggle. In more cases than one would think, the runner has dealt with a devastating injury, a complete change in lifestyle, a serious drug or alcohol addiction, or a plethora of other hardships which has forced them to learn the trait of decisive determination. They then set off on a long road with a distant goal, and fight their way there in a gradual process.


I also know that inspirational stories are often given a “lifetime network” connotation, and are somewhat dismissed as less than relatable. Maybe this is because the experience doesn’t coincide with our own. Perhaps it’s because really taking a close look at hardship makes us uncomfortable. Well, sometimes it is good to be uncomfortable. Sometimes considering something collectively, with its good aspects and bad, results in more meaningful insight.


I’m going to try to bring you these stories, in the runners’ own words so the genuine story is laid out to see. The details are not always pretty, but they are undeniably positive.


A new project!




Run happy and healthy, friends!



Well, I guess this detour is happening.

Hey everyone! It’s been a while!


Things have been pretty static for me. In my last blog, the Double Dipsea RR, I mentioned that the bum hip had never gone away. In fact, it never even improved, so I got it checked out by a dr, then an orthopedic specialist. She diagnosed a labrum tear and ordered an MRI to confirm the diagnosis and determine whether surgery would be needed.


In the meantime, I had gotten seriously stircrazy from not running at all. I am so used to having a lot of miles in my life that my body chemistry goes a little screwy without it. I went through the moodiness that often accompanies a taper, but I’d like to think I’m pretty adept at recognizing it and controlling it. Most of the time, at least. The thing that surprised me, though, was that my mind began to go. I became forgetful and spacy, which is something I have no tolerance for!


I decided I had to do something. On Friday I texted DW, “It would be crazy to ride a century on the spin bike, right?”

You can probably guess her answer.


Saturday morning DW left for her long run in the hills and I got up to begin my experiment. I would ride an hour, then get off and stretch to evaluate how things felt, then proceed if everything seemed fine. I alternated between a couple TV series on Netflix as my legs spun away, and every 20 miles I found the hip had not gotten any worse. Finally I hit 100 miles and called it quits! My legs felt absolutely fine but my arse was killing me! I am not used to six hours on a bike seat!


After having waited a couple agonizingly slow weeks for insurance to approve it, I got the notification call while in Arkansas on business and immediately scheduled it for the day I returned.


I literally landed in Sacramento and drove straight to the imaging center for my appt. Upon checking in I learned I had not one, but TWO tests scheduled. Lucky day!

Honestly, I was down for whatever gave me answers. I had never had a problem that lasted this long with no change whatsoever!


The first was a hip arthrogram. It’s where an x-ray monitor is focused on your hip joint and a specialist inserts a needle through your muscle and into the joint, piercing the fluid sac inside the joint. Contrasting fluid is then injected into the sac, and the color helps the dr see any tears and also helps later in the MRI.


The second was an MRI, which was comprised of seven different scans. All in all, I spent about 90 minutes in the tube, listening to the radio through headphones and picking out the different instruments’ melodic lines. (It’s a mindful meditation thing I do occasionally if I have to be physically still. You pick out one instrument and follow it independently from the rest of the noise, then add another, then another. If you can follow three or four simultaneously, you don’t have much attention left for anything else. At least I don’t.)



I got a call the next day, and it honestly caught me off guard.


“Hi, this is Mindy from Othopedics.”


“Hi, how are you?”


“I’m fine, but you’re not too great.”




“I’m really sorry, but you’re not running any ultramarathons anytime soon. You have a stress fracture through the ball of your femur inside the hip joint, which is why we couldn’t see it in the X-rays.”


“………. Well that’s not what I expected.” (Facepalm)


“I know, me neither. I’ve only seen this a couple of times; it’s a unique location for a fracture.”


“So I need to just cycle then?”






“You can’t walk on it. Stay off of it 100%.”


“What can I do?”


“I’m really sorry. Not much.”


“Well, thanks for not sugar-coating it.”


“I don’t do that. Plus, you distance runners never like that.”



And that’s pretty much it. I later called back and got cleared to swim if I use leg floats. Maybe in 6 to 8 weeks I can cycle and build up to running again, but the crack is in a very risky place. If it gives way and breaks completely I’ll need screws to reassemble it, and I want to avoid that at all costs.


Frankly, I’m shocked it hasn’t fallen apart already. I ran two tough races, went through lineman training, and have been working steadily on it for two months! I am grateful for the fact that I am intact, and need to find my way back to running through a few month journey through the forest of other activities. For now things will strictly be upper body, then I’ll ease into more leg stuff in the coming months. It’s not ideal, but life’s not always ideal. I’ll do what I can and hopefully come out of this a better, more rounded athlete and person.



Run happy and healthy, my friends! It is a joy not to be taken for granted!

Double Dipsea 2013!!!

Double Dipsea! Of all the trails in our little corner of the country, the Dipsea trail holds a very special place in this runner’s heart. It has a personality all its own, at once constant and varied. It can be depended upon to provide an interesting run every time. It can be depended upon to give you a wide variety of climates within a 7 mile distance. Being able to run it twice, out then back, only adds to the fun of traveling on foot through several microclimates.

Last year, Laura and I got to meet up with friends Brad and John for this race, and this year continued the meetup tradition. This time, Brad returned to tackle Mt.Tamalpais once again, and the reclusive Mr. Bacon had traveled all the way across the freaking country just to run this race (I guess he also had some anniversary trip or something going on, whatever). I’ve always enjoyed reading his blogs, and when I snagged the chance to hang out with him in PA a couple months ago he turned out to be one of those people you just click with. Conversation and humor was easy, so I was looking forward to some Baconian good times on the mountain. Or at least before and after the race, as I expected him to drop me on any kind of flat parts.

To add to the greatness, Megan had recovered spectacularly from her brutal first 50 miler just one week before. She was cheery and ready to attack the mountain with her usual saucy flair. We even got word the day before the race that Will, who had been there for the TrailFactor 50K extravaganza back in May happened to not only be in California, but would be there for the race. So many friends at one race!

We all met up in the crisp morning air at the foot of the mountain. The atmosphere was buzzing and smiles abounded. Before we knew it the first waves took off, and soon after Brad’s group hit the bricks. A couple minutes later the lovely ladies sped off toward the incline. Bacon and I stood around, trying to guess where an appropriate position in the incredibly diverse crowd might be. We settled on a place about midpack, behind the twitchy dudes made of beef jerky and ahead of the paunchier guys wearing 3L packs for this 14 miler. As the “scratch runners”, male 39 and under, it was the most varied group of all. The clock counted down and the crowd rushed forward toward the first bottleneck of the day!

Start line

As we began climbing, I wondered how our different past experiences and particular niches in running would translate into performance in this one race. Sure I run more of this kind of thing, with long inclines and technical terrain, but he’s obviously a lot faster and has been running for a lot longer than I have. That kind of long-term conditioning helps out in general endurance. We found ourselves talking about our ailments pretty early on. Hernias on his plate and a bum hip on mine. As it turns out, we had both decided to ignore them, push the whole way, and enjoy the ride.


The first half went extremely well. To my surprise, Bacon and I actually fell into a decent rhythm and stuck together. As you probably know, I usually run with Laura and by now we’ve got a mode so natural we hardly have to talk about when to hike, drink, pass, etc. Besides her I haven’t found that rhythm with another runner. But there we were, approaching the stairs down through Mill Valley, passing Brad and the girls on their way back, totally in step and cruising.

The return trip was just as fun, but really began to warm up as the sun blazed down on the exposed parts. However, the beauty of the Dipsea Trail is that there are so many little pockets of different surroundings that you feel like you are on an epic journey crammed into a much shorter distance. As we chugged up inclines, bombed down hills, hopped and skipped over roots, and dodged around hikers, the joking and stories made the miles fly by and the continually changing climate kept things fresh.



My hip continued to bother me, but not so much that I was willing to stop. I pulled Bacon on the ups and struggled to keep up on the flats. All in all, it was a perfect balance. Before I knew it the trail popped out onto the short three blocks of pavement before the finish. We both gave it a strong finishing sprint and crossed the line at 3 hrs flat, a 6 minute course PR for me. On a hot day and a bad hip, I’ll take it. We could have killed ourselves to catch the others, but I’m glad we didn’t. I had a great time.

Everyone had run a strong race! Brad’s recent initiation into his area’s trail goat community had paid off with a speedy effort, Laura had blasted her way through the miles in signature badass girlie style, and Megan had evidently shaken off the previous week’s 50M to beat us all across the line. In fact, we all finished within a six minute window!

Megan and I hung around the finish line to cheer in Will, and unfortunately Bacon had to get back to his darling better half, so I missed giving a hearty goodbye handshake and sweaty runner hug to one hell of a running buddy, but the rest of us headed down to the beach (a whole 200 yards away) for some post-race beer.

A huge reason for my loving trail running so much is the feeling of dirty legs, good friends, and aromatic hops. The combination is magic, especially when you are looking out over the expansive and beautiful Pacific ocean. Simply breathtaking.

after beach

Here’s to another wonderful memory in the bank!



P.S. I’ve since seen an ortho specialist about the hip problem which plagued me at the Marin Ultra Challenge and Double Dipsea. It is likely a torn Labrum, with an MRI soon to confirm. I haven’t run since this race and am getting restless in my inactivity, probably annoying DW more with each passing day. Please kindly direct all sympathy to her.

Run happy and healthy, my friends!!!

Thinning the Herd

Possessions shift as do the interests which necessitate them.


Once upon a time I was fresh out of high school, working in a guitar shop, playing in a band and obsessing about all facets of music. As a direct result, I began to collect guitars. A lot of guitars.


In my view back then, each guitar was an arrow in the quiver. Each one had a unique voice and a proper application. While recording or performing, having several to choose from was akin to having different members of a choir, each with a unique specialty to employ when appropriate. To create my best, I felt I needed to have that versatility at my fingertips. That’s just the way I approach things; out of respect for the activity itself, I am a servant to its needs.


Over the last ten years, though, my interests have shifted and my life has very different goals and purposes. I’ve happily given up gigs in coffeehouses and parties and traded them in for hours of traveling by foot through wilderness. Through this new world my mindset has changed dramatically. I like the idea of “traveling lightly and efficiently”. Carrying less and making it count is a fun goal, and I believe streamlining makes for a simpler, happier life.




It’s time to downsize! I need more closet space and I simply cannot justify keeping that many instruments solely to have different tones at my disposal. Honestly, the more I think about it, the more I am sure that the reason certain guitars are my favorites are because they jive with my natural musical voice. There are some others that sound great, but I just don’t feel the same sensation of “singing” with them. Therefore, I can do without them.

Here’s to a simple life!




An East Coaster Samples the Western States Course

One week after our whirlwind trip up to run TrailFactor with Brad and Megan, Laura and I got to have yet ANOTHER friend meetup, but this time it was in our ‘hood. Linnea Marie was in town to visit family and we jumped at the opportunity to share one of our most beloved local trails: the Western States course!

We pried ourselves out of bed at 4, pulled ourselves together and headed over to pick her up. When we got there it was my favorite time of day, just when the morning air begins to lighten a little with potential for the day.

We chatted all the way up to Foresthill, where we met another friend who’s training for the big race, as well as a couple more familiar locals shooting for an umpteenth finish at WSER.


Linnea's visit WSER course 001


We headed out and I immediately felt the deep connection to the mountain which always colors these runs. The air was crisp, the trail was beautiful, and the company was good. What more could you ask for?


It was fun cruising down to the creek crossings and trotting up to Michigan Bluff, then down again and partway up to the water pump. We wanted to at least hit 4,000′ of climb and it looked like that section would have no problem delivering.

The one thing I had forgotten is how long the ascents and descents are. In that area, you can expect to climb for a solid hour at many points in the trail!


Here’s an elevation profile from the run:




All in all, it held about 5,200′ of vertical, awesome training!


At the end of the run we all guzzled ice cold drinks. It was HOT out there!


It was really great to get together for this run. Linnea is a warm person and is extremely interesting to converse with. It was also nice to sort of experience the wonder of running that trail through the fresh eyes of a first timer.


Linnea has since kicked a fair amount of ass, running wise. She ran a 50M race this last weekend, then volunteered for the other runners!


Laura and I are looking forward to this weekend, when we get to head down to San Francisco with a certain saucy ultrarunner and tackle the Marin Ultra Challenge 50 Miler. It looked as if my start date for my new job would fall immediately after the race, which would mean I’d back out and start the new job fresh (lots of climbing, etc). Now, though, it looks more like it’s been pushed back a week. I should be fully recovered by then; these days recovery is going much better and faster. At the very least I’ll crew and pace, while Laura and Megan show the Bay Area what they can do!!!


Run happy and healthy, people.


TrailFactor 50K Race Report: An Unforgettable Race

Race morning we all woke up to the sound of heavy rain pounding the ground outside. It was different than any other race morning I’ve had so far, so I popped up as soon as my alarm sounded. I peeked through the shudders and said, “This will be a great day in the woods.”


Clothes were donned, packs were stuffed, chafe spots were lubed, and it was time to go. Excited and still blurry from sleep, Laura, Megan, Brad, and I piled into the car and headed to the race parking area. I must admit, I was wondering how the race was going to go. I love rain runs, but I had never been wet for an entire 50K. Oh well! Doing it is the only way to find out!


After meeting up with Angie and meeting her friend, we checked in and raced around the corner to meet our friends who were also running. Bryan was graciously willing to drive us up to the start to spare us the .8mile walk. What a gentleman!

The race start was like most trail race starts, low key and relaxed. People milled around, laughing and seeing old friends. Everyone was excited for the adventure ahead. It struck me that no matter where the trail is, there is a unifying love for it which unites us runners. You will find a common thread of support and joviality throughout the world, wherever runners gather for the purpose of tackling trails together.



The plan was for us all to more or less stick together, but I had my doubts about that going in. It seldom occurs that everyone feels the same at all times through a race that long, and so usually a group splits up at some point. Brad was talking about a 5:30 finish too, which would have been great, but a substantial PR for us. Nevertheless, Laura and I have been running increasingly strongly lately since enlisting an ultra coach’s guidance, so it felt within the realm of possibility if we both had a good race.

We did not both have a good race.

The race began and the mob moved up the mountain, stutterstepping and walking when it made sense, gaining more and more elevation in a flurry of adrenaline filled wonder. Right off the bat the gap began to widen between the Bangle-Sauce team and us Matzes. As soon as the crowd thinned a little I could hear it. Ever so subtle, there is a slight difference in how DW runs when she is not feeling well. By “not feeling well” I mean that her epilepsy is acting up and although her medication keeps her from having outright Grand Mal seizures, sometimes there is an electrical shitstorm going on in her brain. During those times, she can force her body to move and decipher what’s happening around her through sheer will, but she’s working through a thick fog. Not looking back, not having to look back, I kept the pace manageable and my wife close behind.

I asked, “How are you?” already knowing the answer.

“Not good” she replied.

“Do we need to stop? It’s fine if we stop.”

“No, I can keep moving forward.”

“Let me know. It’s better to bow out and be able to enjoy things later than to burn out out here.”

“I know. I will. Right now I can move forward.”

Damn she’s tough.

So on we went, determined to enjoy the miles as much as we could for as long as we could. I hoped our comrades had blazed ahead and were having a blast, and we settled into a rhythm of steady forward motion. Our recent training has given us more uphill running power, and I was pleased to note how much easier some of the inclines felt than they would have several months ago.


Even in less than stellar circumstances, the forest demanded appreciation for its beauty. It was utterly spectacular! I hope the pictures I’ve posted have done them even a fraction of justice, because it was truly a marvel to see. The lushness of Forest Park was unlike anything I’d seen before, and I’m already aching to go back.

The rain was not a problem at all. On the contrary, it was fantastic! I heard a runner celebrating that we got “free showers all day!” The creeks were fun to  splash through, the mud was a little thick and sloppy in a few spots, but overall it made for a very enjoyable run. In fact, it was a welcome break from the heat back home. (We just hit triple digits)



Due to the thick forest canopy, our Garmins were completely useless. They lost signal so often that by the first aid station they were hopelessly behind. It was the first race we ran without ever having the slightest clue how far we’d gone. It wasn’t until the last aid station that we learned how far we had left. Less than six miles! We knew the last miles were downhill, so we shot off in anticipation of feeling some wind and letting gravity do some work for us! Laura had begun to feel a little better by then so she was leading at a speedy clip. For the first time in this race, we were hauling ass and firing on all cylinders. It was great!

The 5:30 mark passed and we wondered aloud whether our speed demons were gulping victory beer yet. The last miles felt better for both of us and every downhill felt like a rollercoaster. We turned a corner, saw the finish arch, and burned whatever gas was left in the tank. The roar of the crowd packed on both sides of the chute combined with the feeling of Laura’s hand in mine as we flew across the line in a moment of perfection. I am lucky to have been able to hold onto that memory; it’s one of my favorites of the trip.


Brad had joined the ultra ranks. Megan had PR’d. Laura and I had PR’d. Megan’s friend Will PR’d by an hour and a half! Life was very good, and as I sipped a Lucky Lab IPA from my finisher’s pint glass, I soaked in the scene and felt fortunate to be with these wonderful people in this amazing place.

Now it is nearly two weeks later and I am still reminiscing about our escape to the PNW. It was a time filled with laughter and incredible experiences. We made new friends, saw some of our favorite people, and got to know a very special city. I am indeed a lucky man.

Run happy and healthy, my friends!!!

If Portland Had Sunny Skies, I’d Move There Tomorrow

The weeks before this trip were flavored by an underlying sense of excitement which grew a little each day.  Laura and I decided to travel up North to run a little race with some good friends, and the place was just a bonus: Portland!

The decision to go was basically based on two facts. Well not really two, more like 1 ½.  Over the last couple years, through a continued maze of blogs, texts, meetups, and Facebook posts, Brad and Megan have become two of our closest friends from the Loop.  I know you all have experienced it.  Everyone there is supportive and interesting (an incredibly rare thing in online communities), but there are some you just click with a bit more. Those are the people who you make special trips to see because it makes your life better.

We probably would have gone anyway, but the chance to be present while Brad ran his very first ultramarathon sealed the deal! This guy has been floating through marathons for years and finally wanted to test the waters of longer distance on tougher terrain. We’d been telling him it’s easier, but the glaze of dubiousness always covered his eyes when he replied. Now he was about to get hooked, and we all knew it!

One of the best parts of the weekend was that we got to stay with Senorita Sauce for the entire duration. She has the coolest cozy place for chilling and talking, with bonus gummy bears at the ready. Megan has a definite bubbly bouncy persona in her blogs, one which is only made funnier when combined with the clever sarcastic side you get to see in person. All in all, just a fantastic person to be stuck with for days!

Brad is a dude you have to know for a while to really know. He is a big fan of exact figures and numbers, but that quality is tempered with a huge heart.  Time spent with him is full of quick jokes and friendly ribbing, and whenever it’s time for goodbyes, it always seems too soon.

We had arrived and were getting to know Sauce’s Portland Crew (you know, thorough personal histories and theological discussions) when Brad and his friend Disco Stew arrived and we all proceeded to obtain the finest ice cream I have ever tasted. Salt & Straw for the win! It was then that I decided I liked Portland. A lot. Each place has a vibe, a combination of people’s energy and the city itself, which I suppose is a direct extension of that energy. Portland felt comfortable, creative, and relaxed.

To tell the truth, I actually didn’t want to have a set schedule ahead of time. Part of the fun was letting the weekend happen, and it did not disappoint. Saturday morning we met up with Annie and our new P-town friends (enormous dog in tow) and set off on the most amazing hike I’ve done. The forest was unbelievable! 12 miles of pure bliss, with the last 7 joined by Brad’s own local crew.

Forest Intro

Hike 2















Sunday morning we pulled ourselves together and headed to a hometown breakfast place to meet up with Angie and her Hubby, who were a delight. It always amazes me how people we meet online can immediately feel like old friends, and this was no exception! We all gabbed and inhaled all sorts of breakfast vittles.


Afterwards it was time to check out what the ‘Couve had to offer, so we toured the historic Fort and Land Bridge. There were historical signs everywhere, and I enjoyed learning about how Native American culture had helped to shape the region’s identity.






Mildsauce was cordial enough to take us for a boat ride. It ended… regrettably.


The oldest apple tree IN THE WORLD!!!


Dinner at Annie’s was great. She graciously invited us into her home and fed us a huge load of delicious lasagna. For some reason I was ravenous, so in an uncharacteristically voracious move, I piled my pre-race plate high and devoured it all. The conversation flowed like miles underfoot, and I was sad to have to call it a night and rest up for race day.


I’m going to pause here for intermission. The race itself held too much to fit here without feeling like that drunk guy, sitting at the bar, you know, rambling on and on to the bartender, who’s basically stuck there and forced to listen in order to be polite, even though he’s anxious to get the story over with and share some comments of his own, just sitting through the longest run on sentence in the history of monologues, maybe in the history of history…

Coming up: