Monday, December 26, 2011

Happy Boxing Day, Mike and all!

A nice occasion for my 52nd and final post of the year, the celebration of a tradition which started in Great Britain before spreading through the Commonwealth countries; a tradition of wealthy people giving a gift to their servant right after Christmas which evolved into sharing left overs from Christmas celebrations and therefore putting things back into... boxes. Nothing to see with boxing, the combat sport! In countries celebrating Boxing Day it also became a sort of our American Black Friday, a day with big and now cyber sales.
I missed Mike's invite last year and was looking forward to participating into this year's run as we were in town for the Holidays. The timing was also perfect for Max who is leaving tomorrow night for a tour of the East Coast with his Yale a cappella group, the Society of Orpheus and Bacchus or SOBs. Beyond the running experience, it turned out to be the perfect group for Max to connect with many discussions around architecture and industrial design with such gurus of the disciplines in the Valley (Mike, Barry, Dirk, ...).
I had not planned on running today actually as I was 2 weeks in my yearly "maintenance" break and was going to make it 3 weeks, resuming with a very long run at the Coastal Trail Runs' New Year's One Day 12-hour event in San Francisco, running circles on the 1.061-mile loop at Crissy Field in San Francisco. Hopefully the weather will be nicer than when it ran for 8 hours during my first and only attempt at this ultra format, in September 2010. If you happen to be in town to celebrate the new year, please consider stopping by, I plan on running quite a few laps in 8 minutes or so.

Back to Boxing Day, it got really special as soon as I heard about Mike's recent adventure on Labor Day (September 5). Mike, a very experienced ultra runner was running in his neighborhood when he felt pain in his chest and left arm. He was able to jog back to his house, calmly, before his wife drove him straight to the hospital where the cardiologist decided to do a triple coronary artery bypass the same day, not leaving much time to even think and worry about it! The next day, Mike was back on his feet and walking. With an amazing will and discipline, he kept walking and jogging every day, adding a few minutes each day. And here we are, less than 4 months after such a major surgery, with Mike hoping to run the whole way from Portola Valley to the Ocean, about 20 miles! Because Max and I left the group at Skyline, at the time I'm writing this post, I don't know if Mike accomplished his goal but I can tell you that we left him in good company and he was in great shape running most of the 3 miles up to Skyline!
As Max had to be back home by 12:30 pm and I was technically in a running break, resting, we took left on Skyline and got on the Windy Hill trails. After starting the run in the fog down into the Valley, we were now above the cloud and the views were wonderful will all the emerging hills including Mount Diablo on the East side.
See a few more pictures in my Picasa album.

Clay was now leading the way and really picked up the pace on this trail he knows so well, living in Portola Valley himself. We had about 7 miles of running on the road up to Skyline and just above 7 miles to run back to the car, mostly on trails. This part of the loop reminded me of our monthly Saturday morning Windy Hill run which I used to do with Sophia, Brian, Charles, Mike, Chris, Greg, Craig, Ed, to name a few, and Pierre Tardif who still sends us the weekly email (I only do Rhus Ridge the weekends I'm not racing).
14 miles in perfect weather and trails in perfect conditions, I hope the running gods will forgive me for this temptation to run during my official yearly break. I was actually going to blog about an article Agnès and Greg liked in the November 2011 issue of Competitor, in which Scott Jurek share his wisdom about taking a break every year and the benefits, both physical and mental. I couldn't find the article on line ("Don't Run, Gain Weight, Hang out - You will be a better runner, seriously") but I had heard this tip from Scott earlier and you can read more from it in this post: Gimme A Break!

Speaking of hanging out, I attended a private projection of Unbreakable -The Western States 100 this week and I highly recommend watching this epic recount of the front competition at Western States 2010 (Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka, Killian Jornet and Hal Koerner). And, while 99% of the movie is about these 4 amazing champions, plus great personal insights from Western States 100 founder, Gordy Ainsleigh. An inspirational and must-see DVD for any trail ultra runner, either experienced or aspiring, and an amazing technical fate from filmmaker JB Benna and his crew.
Now, back to the title, Santa dropped quite a few... boxes to my house and he must have great hopes for my 2012 running season! Cool pairs of shoes from Brooks (a special web edition of the super cool blue Green Silence and the newest PureGrit, the trail model of the PureProject product line). I also ordered a few books and DVDs at ZombieRunner and 3 boxes of Vespa CV-25 which should give me enough energy for a while.
Well, we are already discussing our Quicksilver Ultra Running Team plans for 2012 and it seems like I'll be running 5 ultras in a row in April-May, including a few races outside of the Grand Prix so I'll definitely need the Vespa boost indeed. Stay tuned, I'll share more in January after I have the opportunity to let you know about my New Year's Eve run and reflect back on the 2011 season.

In the meantime, have a great New Year celebration and all the best for 2012, on the trails, on the road, at work or at home! Talk to you next year then!

PS: while Max and I were running, Alex was on the Skyline-to-the-Sea trail which he completed with his friend Jeannie in 11 hours (a 28 mile-hike)! Quite a memorable and healthy Boxing Day this year... ;-)

PS-2: just talked to Mike who made it to the Beach, safely, phew! Great story to share with your cardiologist, Mike and inspirational for his other patients, congratulations!


Mike Nuttall said...

Jean, Thanks for the photos. A pleasure to run with you and to meet Max. I heard you really picked up the pace coming down Windy Hill. Yes, I made it to the beach, continuing a 17 year, 22 mile tradition. A little slower than usual but feeling very happy to get there with great friends.
Good luck at the 12 hour,

Anonymous said...

L'histoire de Mike est fabuleuse.
Tu devais être bien heureux d'avoir Maxime non loin de toi (et Alexis dans les parages...)
Je vois que le Père Noël est un vrai supporter!