April 9, 2005 - Phil Hodgen


Completely off topic. This is what falls under the category of “What I Do for Fun.”

Fun on a 49th birthday? Answer: if you’re like me and think that the AC100 is a Really Good Idea for when you are 50, you go run. A long way.

My 21 mile jaunt went up the Mt. Wilson Trail, home of the Mt. Wilson Trail Race, but beyond Orchard Camp, the turnaround for the race. to Manzanita Ridge. That’s 5.5 miles straight up. Without stopping to breathe, down the Winter Creek Trail I went. The new bypass, not the old trail.

With a quick stop for a peanut butter and jam sandwich and another quick stop to look at the San Antonio Hiking Club’s cabin, I took the left turn and went back uphill to Mt. Zion over a heavily overgrown trail. Did I say there is a lot of poison oak in the mountains this spring? The rainy winter has been kind to all sorts of green stuff in the back country. Mercifully I dodged any interaction with that noxious plant.

At the bottom of the hill from Mt. Zion (probably at 10.5 miles) I reached the Sturtevant Camp trail. At this point I suddenly realized that I went out too fast, brought along too little food, and my water supply was completely inadequate. With this realization I plodded up the 2.8 miles or so to the top of Mt. Wilson, a 2,000 foot altitude gain.

At the top of Mt. Wilson it was cold enough to see your breath. I quickly replenished my water supply and gulped down another peanut butter and jam sandwich and dragged on the nylon track suit pants to keep warm. Then onward and downward 7.5 miles. Walking some, running some, for the rest of the trail back to the trail head in Sierra Madre.

They say that ultramarathoning is an experiment of one. Among the many results of this experiment (take more food, take more water, pace yourself in the first few miles and don’t run like a banshee with a turbocharger) was a really interesting one: when you’re really tired, and your legs hurt all over, and you’ve got a really long downhill stretch (I would count 7.5 miles as a long stretch), it’s easier to run than to walk.

I got home and had a little birthday party with the kids and Mary. Mary made one of her patented cheesecakes. (She makes her cheesecake for Teacher Appreciation Day at Poly and gets standing requests for more. Cheesecakes, that is).

This counts as a superb birthday, in my book.