Planning Time (and an Awesome Opportunity!)

AJWs TaproomOne of the things I love most about the annual holiday season is that this is planning time. Sure, there are a bunch of folks running this weekend and over the next few weeks, but for many of us, this is our off-season, our downtime during which we recharge the batteries, rest our weary bodies, and plan for the upcoming ultra season.

That said, notwithstanding the few big ultra lotteries on tap for the next few weeks, most races are open and ready for our business. All that awaits us are beautiful races in lovely places with amazing people.

If you’re anything like me, when you look ahead to the coming year in running, many questions run through your head. Certainly, most of us need to balance running with the rest of our lives and try to formulate a schedule that meets the competing needs of our families, jobs, and desires. In addition, as the sport has grown, the opportunities to race are literally limitless. We can scroll through the calendar and dream of mountain runs in Colorado, flat and fast blazers in Maryland, a new exciting race in Europe or Asia, keeping that streak alive in California or simply going to a beautiful new place with friends and family where we’ve never been before.

In a way, this is our Spring Training. Hope springs eternal while our bodies reset and our focus expands. Our foundation miles begin to build up, our training logs become a bit more active, and there is a slight spring in our step that is ever so slightly returning to life after the long, slog of a summer just completed.

Hence, in the context of this upcoming planning season, I am excited to announce a new AJW’s Taproom Challenge. Keira Henninger, race director of the stunningly beautiful Ray Miller 50/50 taking place in Southern California on February 2nd, 2013, has offered a free complimentary entry to the race to the person who makes the most persuasive case for “why I want to run the Ray Miller 50.” Keira has, surprisingly, put me in charge of administering the contest and so, of course, we’ll be conducting it here on iRunFar, in public, over the next two weeks. Here’s how it will work:

If you are interested in a complimentary entry ($120 value) to this great race in Point Mugu State Park simply write a comment in the comment section to this column explaining “why I want to run the Ray Miller 50.” Entries will be accepted through December 14th with the winner being announced in the December 21st AJW’s Taproom Column. Our hope is that this timetable will give ample opportunity for the winner to make his/her plans accordingly. The selection committee has created a 47-item rubric upon which each submission will be based and each entry will be judged on the basis of this rubric. Should none of the entries meet the minimum standard (or if nobody even bothers to try) the entry will be presented to Bryon Powell by default.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week
Mission Brewery Shipwrecked Double IPAThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from that beer mecca of San Diego County. Mission Brewery’s Shipwrecked Double IPA is one of those rare DIPA’s that does not taste boozy. Sure, it tips the ABV scales just over 9% and its 75 IBUs should not be taken lightly, but this is a surprisingly smooth DIPA and one worth a try, especially if you’re down that way and can get it fresh on tap.

Call for Comments (from Bryon)
Enter the Ray Miller 50/50 contest. What are you waiting for?!

There are 25 comments

  1. Andy Wellman

    I want to run the Ray Miller 50/50 because I literally know nothing at all about the race except what is written in AJW's column above. The quintessential challenge in ultrarunning is dealing with the unknown and unexpected, so for me, this sounds like just such a challenge.

  2. larry gassan

    My Official Entry in the Ray Miller 50/50 Entrant Contest

    "I want to run the Ray Miller 50/50 to show my team, sponsors, and my inner voices that I can deliver a daylight finish as an Ultra Re-Enactor®™. I promise that all aid-station persons will be glad at my arrival, and jubilant at my prompt departure without stealing the family silver or the big-screen TV. If I am chosen, I promise to serve proudly under the bib # 69—maintaining a long and winding tradition in SoCal Ultra Lore"

  3. Paul Grimes

    I want to run the Ray Miller 50/50 because the first and only other time I ran at Pt. Mugu State Park, I got lost (in a torrent of rain) and ran considerably further than I planned (which lead to an injury flare up… it was 1 week post NYC Marathon for me). As a result of my follies on the course and my in-need-of-a-rest-day body, I was sorely disappointed in my performance and allowed myself to get in a mental funk, during what I had planned to be a super-fun destination race.

    I NEED to redeem myself at Pt. Mugu and enjoy those beautiful trails with my mind (and body) on straight!

  4. olga

    Because I want to talk to Keira about so many things from her past, her present, her experiences, her lessons…because she is pretty cool RD from my LD50 experience…and more importantly pretty cool and upbeat person – and I need upbeat right now. And because I need something grand to get inspired back into racing, and not slogging.

  5. Andy

    47-point rubric, eh? Well, #1, I've never run an ultra in California. Number 2, I have about a 1 in 47 chance of getting drawn in next week's WS lottery, so the RM 50/50 is my best chance at a CA ultra this year. No. 3, I'll be 47 on race day (well, OK, 49 2 weeks before, but it's close). Number 4, the course and the event look fantastic and there is nothing that will lift me out of a New England February slump like a sunny romp on So-Cal single track. No idea where the remaining 43 elements of the rubric could possibly lead, so I guess just repeat #4 terminus ad quem.

  6. Kristin Z

    because I LOVE to run in that type of terrain… i'd LOVE to run one of KH's races that i've heard so many fabulous things about… because i'll NEEEEEEEEED a roadtrip to some place that has a significantly better chance of being sunny at that point in the long rainy cloudy foggy PNW winter… and because my almost 4y/o NEEEEEEEEEDS to see another amazing place in this great country to continue to inspire his outdoor adventures!i could also throw in an extra volunteer or two in the car if that would help KH and her staff out!

  7. Carol K

    I want to run the Ray Miller 50/50 to warm my feet. At the moment it is -35 below in Fairbanks, Alaska and the thought of running someplace warm without 4 layers, double socks and spikies on my shoes sounds awesome.

  8. Adam Lawrence

    My Entry in the Ray Miller 50 Mi Contest:

    I have already signed up for the race, which is proof enough that not only do I deserve to run the race, but I very much want to. As I am mired in the depths of middle-class poverty typical of one who has been in graduate school for 9 years, a remittance of my entry fee would be greatly apreciated by my personal economy, and would also be a huge encouragement to me as I wet my size 14 feet in this game. The Ray Miller 50 Mi will be my second 50 mi, and my 3rd race (4th if one includes the absurdity that is Tough Mudder). My first, on 10/13, was the epically brutal Twin Peaks 50, which I finished (60% did not) as the lights from the support trucks followed my limping carcass down the mountain. Here're my results:…. I was hanging with the middle of the pack until mile 32, when I passed out briefly during the second ascent of Santiago peak. I was assisted by several other runners, and reasonably advised to go home and have a beer, yet by the time I'd limped to mile 38, the summit was in sight, my climbing legs had returned, and it was clear I had little choice but to close out the party, even if it meant coming in DLF (those lucky few who placed behind me started earlier and finished earlier, so I'm claiming this honor as my own). What I lack in athletic ability, I make up for in sheer madness. Moreover, as a longtime West LA resident, the Santa Monica mountains are my training range, and I have spent much time around Point Mugu, so I will have the homefield advantage. Indeed, you need me in your race to push the pace among the speed tortoises. When they see Adam Lawrence toe the line on February 2nd, nobody will doubt that the field at the back of the pack is every bit as stacked as the front. Whoever craves the honor of DLF in their warriors heart is going to have to race ME to get it! (an account of the Twin Peaks adventure which mentions my momentary setback at mile 32 is here, given by a racer who was a big help to me :

  9. Neighbor to the Sout

    I want to run the Ray Miller 50/50 because this year has seen me miss several races 2 days before the race because of work and because of death threats to allies and tapped phones. Because racing on beautiful California trails makes human rights work in the biggest city in our continent a little saner.

  10. Greg Veltkamp

    Here's my entry from Anchorage, Ak – with a nod to Robert Service!

    A bit lengthy but fun to write!

    It was early this morn, when from sleep I was torn

    As the alarm, it issued its’ bray;

    The comforter warmed and the idea formed,

    “Maybe, I’ll skip it today”;

    But those Holiday treats, the pies and the sweets

    Echoed inside of my head.

    It was still before dawn, but I let out a yawn,

    And dragged myself out of bed.

    I pulled on some tights and remembered last nights

    Dream with an audible sigh:

    Something about summer, oh what a bummer

    Because10 degrees will be today’s high.

    Through all of my layers, I mumbled some prayers,

    And opened the door to a blast;

    The Arctic cold made a threat to take hold,

    But the die had already been cast.

    The frozen air grabbed at my limbs, and it stabbed

    Through the folds of my clothes like a knife;

    God only knows how my fingers and toes.

    Would handle such bitter strife.

    But as I strode out, and continued the bout,

    There began a warmth from within;

    I kindled the flame and its’ fire became

    A tempest that around me did spin.

    I ran further on, my cares now foregone,

    Through snow and along frozen creeks;

    Over ice bridges, I headed for the ridges

    That I hadn’t been on in weeks.

    A long ascent on which the extent

    Of my internal fire became clear;

    Cold lost its’ grip and the sweat did drip

    Down my back and onto my rear.

    At the top of the climb, I check the time,

    And I see that it is now;

    I’ve come this far under the great North Star

    And to it, I return a bow.

    The mountains steep and the valleys sweep

    Before me like a dream

    I can feel their power in this wee hour

    And inspired, I come up with a scheme.

    And then a sudden chill spurs me back downhill

    And then another takes root;

    I’ve stood too long, not realizing my wrong,

    The cold is again in pursuit.

    She’s a pesky foe, but my internal glow

    Is one that will not snuff out;

    My eyes are bright and my stride is light

    I’m a runner without a doubt.

    Sunrise will come soon and the full Cold Moon

    Descends till it touches the Earth;

    The long light slants and the Northern Lights dance

    While the Queen of Winter gives birth;

    To stars that twinkle and ice crystals that crinkle

    As I run long the trail in the dark;

    Breath crisp on my face as it freezes in place

    Seeking to leave its’ mark.

    As I finish my run, the first rays of the sun

    Peak out from behind those same heights;

    From where I looked down on the rest of the town

    As they awakened and turned on their lights.

    As I walk through my door, I feel a bit sore

    But know it will wear off by noon;

    With coffee in my cup, I begin to warm up

    And I know I’ll do it again soon.

    And now to make true on what I said I would do

    I sit at my computer and type;

    IRUNFAR is on screen and from what I have seen

    It lives up to all of the hype.

    I read the Tap Room and straight do I zoom

    To the Ray Miller race website;

    It sure would be nifty to go run the 50

    And not have to run in the night!

    The darkness it dooms and almost consumes

    Us during this winter solstice season;

    We try not to hide, try to stay wide eyed,

    But for leaving, we try to find reason.

    Not to mention the cold, Oh to be paroled

    From this icy cell for a while

    It would be such fun to run in the sun

    At the Ray Miller 50 mile!

    1. Andy

      First the haiku, now an epic poem! I know it's not open to voting – and it would certainly knock out my entry – but Greg has my vote. Clearly long runs in 10 degree darkness have not frozen his literary brain. ++1

  11. Hone

    I am not looking for an entry but wanted to mention that this course is awesome. It is in my backyard and I run in the Santa Monica Mountains everyday. Keira puts on great events and over marks the will NOT get lost!

    So if you want a fantastic course and need to get out of the cold for the weekend come out to Malibu in early Feb. You will have a blast!


  12. GLB

    As a recent convert to ultrarunning, I continue to be impressed everyday with what the sport has given me a glimpse into – new courses, amazing people (runners, volunteers and RDs), contagious enthusiasm, selfless acts, encouragement, the vast sharing of ultrarunning knowledge, inspiring trails and views and the desire to challenge myself everyday. I feel fortunate to be a part of this community at a relatively young age that I intend to continue to grow in.

    I see the Ray Miller 50/50 as an opportunity to bring my experiences, though limited, to a location of the U.S. that I have never run or raced before. The race would allow me to cross paths with runners that I may otherwise never have the chance to meet which I believe is the best part of the sport itself. Being able to crack a beer, smile, laugh and enjoy the company of a few newly acquired friends after a race is second-to-none in my book.

    I do not have any hardships similar to those previously mentioned, however, I am grateful for the ability to lace up my shoes daily and to have created a new found reality that puts a smile on my face.

    Thanks for listening!

  13. Gary Gellin

    1. Jorge Maravilla told me to go.

    2. I will wear Ink 'n Burn denim manpris to blend in with the Southern California crowd (well, maybe not).

    3. I will have flashbacks of a decadent house party I attended in the Santa Monica Mountains 20 years ago.

    4. I was nice to some guy from Southern California who was at the TNF 50, so maybe he'll let me crash on his couch.

    5. The charisma of the Southern California trail running community is alluring, even more so than the fragrance of the coastal sage as described on the Ray Miller web site.

    6. I heard about a legendary, and possibly mythical taqueria in L.A. called Super Mex and I want to see if it exists.

    7. A whole bunch of folks from Oregon are signed up, so it has to be a good event.

  14. Doug

    Years ago, my first mountain run was in the beautiful Santa Monica mountains while temporarily deployed to nearby Pt Mugu NAS. Many years and mountains hence, the Air Force is again relocating us to the west to live amongst the big mountains (and the big ultra-races!). I would relish the opportunity to run Ray Miller as a way of introducing my family to the world of ultrarunning in the west, on the very same trails that first got me into the sport. My wife has been reluctantly indulgent of the long hours that I spend training in the mountains on the weekends, and I am careful not to let sport upset the delicate balance of our busy lives. I want the family to see one of these great western races, and there is no way that my wife would disparage a complimentary entry to Ray Miller. Perhaps Point Mugu SP in the Santa Monicas will prove the same fertile ground for the next generation of ultrarunning just as it did for me so many years ago.

  15. Guy C.

    Been trying to get my brother-in-law (a Boston bound, committed roadie) out on the trails. He took the leap at the Bulldog 25k, but I couldn’t talk him into the 50k and I wasn’t flying from Mexico City for 25k.

    Ray Miller 50k it is. Game on!

  16. larry gassan

    re:"Presented to Bryon Powell by default?"


    I say give it to Ian Torrence, who NEVER shows up. Every race I've ever entered and Ian is a DNS, I automatically move up 15 places! BTW, Ian forgot to mention in his bio that he has an unbroken DNS record at ALL the Joshua Tree VisionKwests—11 yrs running! Just to show you what he's missed, please, read this, and weep:

    I rest my weak case, your Honour, and have no further witnesses to call to the bench.

  17. Gary Wang

    It would be most fun to celebrate my 50th 50 miler at Ray Miller.

    Fun people, beautiful trails, amazing RD.

    Good time to catch up with old friends.

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