Posted by donmclean on 2005/2/4 1:08:00 (1291 reads)

Interview of Alistair Cragg

Interesting comments and update from Brian Frank: I really enjoyed your reflections and comments about childhood today. Also, I completely agree with what you said yesterday about why we run. I scoffed when I read the Penguin's article. I agree most people who don't get motivated by constantly challenging their minds and bodies generally give up running after a short time due to boredom. Time is a key ingredient in this. If not for time, what would there be to motivate us on our hard workouts and in races? I also agree the other main reason we do it is comraderie. If we didn't have friends/fellow runners to share our runs, races, times and stories with, it wouldn't be very meaningful. What would a hard Saturday or long Sunday run be without looking forward to conversation at Starbucks?

As for Pacific Shoreline, I'll take the "race a week" comment as a compliment the same way I took it as a compliment a couple of years ago when Moose sent an e-mail to a me and a couple others regarding needing a runner for Hood To Coast and saying he sent it to us because we were the type of runners who thought "pain was fun". This goes right along with the comment I made above about always challenging yourself as a major motivator and what sets us longterm regular racers apart from most other runners with equal ability and why we never tire of pushing ourselves for many years without end.

The only other SCR's I've heard are definitely doing the half are Kevin Prim, Tania Rosello, Dave Berkey, Rawlins Jordan and Gwen Camomile. I'm guessing there are more I'm just not aware of.

Meanwhile, Steve Masuda provides us with his mountain lion update: Two mountain lions that prowled the Simi Valley area died after they ingested prey loaded with over-the-counter poisons humans use to get rid of pesky rodents. In recent years, wildlife experts for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area monitored four adult cougars from the Malibu coast to the Santa Susana Mountains near Valencia. But late last fall, radio collars on two animals indicated they died. When authorities examined the carcasses they found the big cats, one young male and another old female, contained "massive quantities" of rodenticide, says federal ecologist Seth Riley. The toxins, brodifacoum and bromadiolone, kill squirrels, rats and gophers, but their poisoned bodies can become lethal snacks for higher predators. Other affected species include bobcat, raccoon and coyote. Schools, golf courses and parks use the substances.....

What's in a name? A lot, I think. For example, you're a single guy and you are presented with the choice of a blind date with Susie or Bertha. Isn't the choice obvious, even though you know nothing else about them? Ok, now you have a chance to go to a mall. Would you rather go to the Valencia Town Center, or to The Westfield Shoppingtown Valencia? In this choice, the mall is the same, but it now has a new name, which is stupid and less inviting. But then, I'm just a guy who spends his days in jams or sweats, and I never go to the mall except to finish the SCM.

The messageboardheads are going nuts about Rotich and his 4 times per day workouts. First off, there is the additional news that Rotich, who is 36 years old, only weighs 99 pounds. As if that should be shocking to anyone who seriously follows distance running. Most of the Africans runners are rail-thin, and weigh, at most, 130 pounds (my weight), though many are 120 and less. If you read about Africa in general, the fact is many populations have been malnourished for generations, and die young. Yes, in some respects, being small and light can be an advantage in distance running, but I can think of a lot of non Africans who were heavier (Deek, Snell; also, Magill and B. Spang) who did just fine with their body type. (There was a time when the expects speculated that Snell had such an advantage because he was so muscular, so powerful.) I think the biggest reason Africans are so good is, quite simply, they work much harder. They don't waste their time at the gym, in the weight room, or doing other non essential exercises. Or checking with their agent, stockbroker, or nutritionist. They go to primitive mountain camps and run, run, run. They're off the pavement and running hard in the mountains. Sorta like Deena and Meb.

The CIF is finally getting around to dealing with steroids in high school athletics. Testing is not being considered, primarily because of the expense. My take is that taxpayers shouldn't pay for it, and that not everyone should be tested. I'm sure no Foothill League distance runners are using, and the same for the tennis and golf teams. Football, baseball, and maybe basketball are the sports where it is a problem (maybe track too), and I think each participant should pay a fee which, from some account, would be used to pay for testing those suspected. Link

Wanna see the Wanamaker? The Millrose coverage is scheduled for tomorrow, 11 a.m., Channel 4 (NBC)... Debra reports she saw a mountain lion during the Fat Ass 50K...Debra provided a tip on Bruce Johnson's run from CA to IL. He's 215 pounds, partially paralyzed. He was to report daily since February 1. So far, no report. Link

Posted by donmclean on 2005/2/3 16:22:00 (65595 reads)

As an old guy, I spend ever increasing amounts of time thinking about my youth, comparing it with others of some years. I suppose kids are as happy and well adjusted today as back then. Who knows? I don't care.

One fellow, considerably younger, who grew up in the area, tells me one of his major, year-around occupations was to play "smear-the-queer," (or, as told to parents, "tackle-the-guy-with-the-ball.") Organized football was too tame, too slow. A kid would pick up the ball and run. He would be chased down, brutally tackled and forced to fumble. Then a kid would pick up...That went on for years until bodies matured and hardened, and his older brother blew out his knee. Other favorite projects included brush fires; sharpening popsicle sticks like a knife and stabbing each other; throwing rocks at each other in "battle"; getting hit by cars. Another fellow tells me of playing neighborhood baseball, pick up games all day and until you couldn't see the ball. He said you would only go home to eat and sleep and, if really forced to, chores.

Together with my neighborhood buddies, we spent a lot of time in the hills, building forts, fighting with dirt clods, and hunting with slingshots or bow and arrow. Once I was mouthing off to a mate and he got so mad he shot me in the stomach with a metal-tipped arrow. A few times I recall throwing clods at trucks and even cars, and of course spitting on cars from the bridge. There were always contests of one sort or other, and the loser for each round would get slugged in the right bicep (assuming the loser was right-handed). Geez, was it sweet when we could get someone to tear up. We played touch football in a narrow residential street, and tackle football at the park, with no protection, usually barefoot. Once a pass sailed long and onto the Pasadena Freeway. Since it was my football, I had to get it, and quickly or the guys would split. So rather than doing the prudent thing and go over a nearby bridge and hop the fence near the ball, I ran completely across the freeway, both ways. Of course I was faster then. During the school year, we would play before school, at recess, lunch, and after school on the playground. I played Little League baseball one season and didn't like it much. Too organized, regimented.

We loved to bike. We went on long trips, all day stuff. We would race down anything. Once I lost control and careened out onto a busy street and t-boned a passing car. I was shaken but not hurt. I put a big dent in the lady's car, but she didn't care about it, only concerned I wasn’t hurt. I only wanted to get away before she took my name. And I did.

Dads of today are much more involved with their kid's lives, almost a pal. Back when, dads were too busy for that. Maybe a little bit with Little League, playing catch, but that's was about it. I played sports all through high school, and my dad never came to one event. Most dads didn't. Mostly, that was ok with us. We would be ashamed if a dad was perceived as your pal, a guy you would ever hang with. In my high schools years, I hardly talked to my dad, and most of my buddies were the same with their dad. What did he know?

Again, maybe the way it is now here in yuppieland is better. But to me, it just seems way too regimented, bland, dull, inward, and squishy-soft. Kids are overly protected. And it's troubling to me to not see kids out playing...on bikes, playing pick-up games in the parks, hiking, exploring...

Posted by donmclean on 2005/2/3 12:49:00 (1256 reads)

Laban Rotich, 36 years old, is one of the best milers in the world, and he will be racing Bernard Lagat and Alan Webb in the Wanamaker Mile this weekend in New York. Because he's so old, he says he does up to four workouts a day. (So if you have to do one workout for every 9 years of life, I guess I should be up to 6.6 workouts per day, which certainly would not leave much time for Don's Diary, not to mention other life responsibilities.) Rotich interview

Who is doing Pacific Shoreline? Yes, of course race-a-week Brian Frank will be there, but I just learned Timmy Lynch will be also. The 55 year old ace just ran a hard half (1:35) at Las Vegas...BTW, in the current Elite magazine, on page 43, there is a picture of Tim's lovely daughter, Nicole Coughlin, in a dental ad... Why do we run? In a recent Runner's World, I'm told (I never read) The Penguin said we should forget about time, races, etc. and blah, blah. Talked about this with Dennis this morning while you were still slumbering. We agree on most everything, and agreed that's all wrong. With rare exceptions, there are two primary motivations to keep you running for more than six months, racing/the challenge and the social. Believe me, I know a lot of runners, and most of them would give it up if there wasn't someone alongside to challenge them, or just to converse with. George Sheehan said, "People begin running for any number of motives, but we stick to it for one basic reason-to find out who we really are."

Ventura County Star (registration required) article on Deena

Posted by donmclean on 2005/2/1 23:06:00 (4891 reads)

A 2:03 marathon is possible, sez Geb

A Bouquet Canyon report from Mike Kent: Last Saturday, Phil asked about the condition of Bouquet Canyon Road and Vasquez Canyon road for cycling. I went that route on my bike Sunday. Bouquet is closed just before Lombardi Ranch. There's a fence across the road with a Highway Patrol car positioned behind it. I went around the fence and talked to the officer. He said the road was washed out just behind him, but said I could go as long as I was careful. The road in front of Lombardi is 3/4 gone and everything beyond that that covered in mud and silt, no pavement visible. Vasquez had mud and dirt on the road along with plenty of pot holes, but not bad shape. You mentioned a while ago running up Bouquet. I think it would be a good idea since traffic is light. There were cars on the road. Mostly locals and a few crazy pick-ups with motorcycles in the back (and beer bottles flying out…must be those CC guys).

Brian Frank on Pacific Shoreline: Our first Race Series event of 2005 will take place this Sunday, February 6th at 7:00am. It is the Pacific Shoreline 1/2 Marathon and is an organized (O) event worth 5 points, with 2 additional points available each for age group (5 year age brackets) P.R.'s and age group awards. If you've never done this event, it is a very scenic course with most of the miles run along PCH, with views of the ocean or a lagoon on basically flat streets. There is an inland loop that goes uphill on the way out and downhill on the way back. The race begins and ends near the Huntington Beach pier. There is an expo in a tent on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with registration and packet pick-up available all three days, including 6am on race day. To get to the expo and the race, take the 405 South, exit Beach Blvd. and head to the ocean. If you want more information on the event, their website is A group of SCR's is going down on Saturday and staying overnight. Please send me an e-mail if you're interested in joining us for a carbo load dinner that evening

On the other hand, could just hang up?

A runner's amazing story


Should the SCRambler go electronic? I think so, as I'd rather have it on my computer than lost under a couch at home. The Santa Barbara Athletic Association is going that route, as indicated in this note on their site: Many like getting the newsletter in the mail, even if most of the content has appeared here first. However, it's expensive - expensive enough that there will be three more general mailings, but after that you'll have to explicitly put yourself on a list to get it on paper in the mail. It will appear here monthly as a "pdf" download. (If that means nothing to you, don't worry - will be explained, and it's easy.)

Deena has bought a vacation home in Oxnard....Ever seen a running calculator? They're pretty cool, as it will predict your racing times, and also provide you with your training pace. But use caution with it as it is only a guide and based on averages. Try this

...Deb writes to point out the club site already has a calculator. I tried that one and it seems closer to reality. SCR calculator here

Posted by donmclean on 2005/1/31 0:23:00 (5201 reads)

More Las Vegas race results. Marilyn Nobile ran a 2:16 in the Half, while Brian Frank recorded a 3:33, and Kelly Schranz (along with husband Frank)a 4:28 in the Marathon. Kelly didn't qualify for Boston. Danielle Harper ran a 3:51, while fellow Stevenson Ranch friend Cindi Hoelzel did a 4:08. The great Nina did a 4:10. I couldn't find results for Ron Eichler or Ray Reyes. A few newspaper accounts indicated it was windy, but nothing specific indicated. The weather report for Las Vegas indicated a low of 49 and a high of 60.

Over the weekend, Mike took photos of the Canyon track, while Don captured the Saugus track. Check our photo galleries.

The Signal reports Canyon's Kellie Corbett has a torn ACL, her second in two years. A senior, Kellie will be unable to participate in athletics for four months. She was a co-captain on the soccer team, and was the MVP on the 2004 girls cross country team. She has a soccer scholarship for Point Loma Nazarene...K2:51 told me the collapsed point on the San Francisquito Trail is the responsibility of Los Angeles County Flood Control. Your county vice city tax dollars will pay for the repair.

Bob Anderson, the founder of Runner's World, is still running and says, in an email to a friend of a friend: I wonder why most everything in your emails is about things in the past
and not about the present or future? It is nice to remember old stories
about hard workouts... I did 48 quarters in high school, but that was
nearly 40 years ago!
What about our running now? I know Bill you have some injury issues and I
am sorry about this. (One of my best friends Derek Clayton can not run at
all right now. He is having his knee replaced.) However some of us can still
run. Let's not let this aging thing get the best of us. My attention
right now is on beating Tuttle at the Carlsbad 5000.
I don't understand why Joe wants everyone to think that Lydiard and others
liked his training ideas. They did not! If you train slow, you race slow.
Joe, you are good writer and I did hire you to be the editor of Runner's
World for several years... ...But I do not think your training ideas make
any sense at all. I ran 59:16 for 10 miles (Stockton 10) at age 53 and
all of my training is hard. If I train slow I race slow.
Racing is a blast. I look forward in battling Tuttle, Camp, and Dove in
Carlsbad. Jogging at 8 minutes a mile is boring. I would rather be
reading a book. Maybe LSD?
Touching story about Meb

I've been having computer problems all day, and haven't been able to get Jeff Wills' (Vincenzo's Pizza, Saugus, greatest in SCV) report on the Fat Ass 50 posted. In brief, Jeff went 24 miles and Debra went the entire 50K (31 miles).

Posted by donmclean on 2005/1/29 18:15:00 (3384 reads)

What a strange, and yet almost glorious morning. The weather was almost perfect, cold and very clear, with only an occasional burst of wind. It seemed like there were at least 15 story threads on the course, with so many folks doing different things.

The top doggies all showed up, all in their 40s with the exception of the 25 year old Kevin Koeper who recently ran a 59 minute half marathon, though the course was estimated to be a mile short. The other gents were Peter Magill, one of the top masters in the United States, Andy DiConti (who won the first 3200 at the CA state high school champs, about 1980), Jeff Nelson, Rich Burns, and Brian Spangenberg. This was not a race for these guys; more a hard tempo run. They jogged the first two miles; ran hard for six miles, and with a two mile cool down. Competitive as these guys are, of course they couldn't stay together, and some were hurting and eased back. A few cranked some sub 5 miles. The average pace for the 6 miles was about 5:15 pace. Total time for the 10 miles was 62 minutes. Is there another collection of such fast masters in CA? In a word, NO!

I earned my PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon), awarded by B. Spang. I ran a 68:10. It went well. First mile about 6:20; 33:38 at 5; 61:04 at nine. Brian said I not only had to drink the PBR at Starbuck's, I had to do it under 70 seconds. I'm tough, but not that tough. A hamster more experienced with beer than me said one of his key sensual moments during the week is to shower after the long run, and to drink a beer during the shower.

Posted by donmclean on 2005/1/29 8:38:00 (1531 reads)

In an indoor 3000, Carroll beats Webb

From Carl Pantoja, via Brian Frank: On Sunday April 17, 2005 is the Jimmy Stewart Relay Marathon. Teams of 5 members each running 5.2 mile loop will start at 8:00 AM. The registration is $200.00 per team or $40 per runner before 04/04/2005.

The Santa Clarita Runner's Club already has one team formed.

If anybody is interested, Please call Carl at 661 993-1741 or E-mail We'll try to form more teams or you can do it on your own, but let me know so we can coordinate carpooling and refreshments.

If we have enough teams, we can take our SCRunner's E-Z up, tables and refreshments and of course beer.

Correction on Steve Masuda's newsletter. To subscribe (free), email Steve at Just tell him you want it and provide your email address.

Quotes: He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty. ~ Lao tzu

He who excuses himself accuses himself. ~William Shakespeare

Posted by donmclean on 2005/1/28 2:32:00 (3430 reads)

Tough story on a beloved coach who was killed in the Glendale train crash Jim Tutino

A snip from Steve Masuda's newsletter: On Tuesday, February 15th there will be a good-bye party for Pat Connolly
after the Regular Tuesday Night Track Workout. After 25 years, Pat is going to
step down from heading the long time Tuesday night sessions. Please help
spread the word to those who run with Pat and especially those who used to run on
Tuesday or any other night. This is a chance for all of us to say, "Thanks,
for the nice run, Pat." Everyone is invited for cake and shmooze after the
workout at about 7:30 on the Birmingham High track at Balboa and Victory. The
workout starts at 6:00 if you want to run. Please, no gifts - if you would like
to bring something to share, we will eat it. I'm sure everyone knows runners
are usually hungry and will devour any really cool goodie on the table.

You're missing out if not receiving the free emailed newsletter. It comes out each Friday, always filled with what's going on in the northern area of Los Angeles County. If interested, email Steve Masuda at, and he will add you to the list. It's safe.

Are runners less apt to get the flu? I definitely think so, and not just because exercise raises the body temp. We tend to eat better, drink more fluids, and sleep more and better. Link

Please consider having an account on Don's Diary, as do Mike Kent, Jeff Vaninni, and The Big O. All you need to do is register. Check instructions on the right side of this page. If you have an account, your name or other identifier will appear when you add a comment. You will also be able to use the smiley faces, post your own photos, do private mail with Don and other account members. I'm sure there are other benefits I'm not aware of. Finally, I promise not to send you any home loan offers, ED deals, porn, or other such spam.

Lauren lives in a van? Wow, what an intriguing news item. Check the interview of Lauren Fleshman

Review Photo Gallery for new photo.

The final 2004 girls xc ranking is now out. Consider, for all the Div. I high schools in CA, Canyon was 14th and Saugus was 15th. Congrats to the girls and to the coaches Dave, Paul, and Christian. Link

Posted by donmclean on 2005/1/27 16:24:00 (51217 reads)

Three local area runners looked at the washed out trail along the east side of San Francisquito Creek, approximately 500 yards north of the Decoro bridge. It's completely gone. The creek at that point is flush with a hillside. Apparently, to judge from the bank above and below that area, the only protection against the creek was some burlap to protect new vegetation on the banks. What were they thinking? The fix will not be easy or cheap. Who will pay for it? While Newhall Land put in the trail, it most likely deeded it, and all future liability and responsibility to the City. Meanwhile, the City is looking at Riverpark stability issues. Link

Jack Brown is still a tough hombre. Ten years ago, at age 60 he set one of the more impressive club records, that is, 70:24 for 10 miles. At the time he did that I (then being 50) thought that could be tough to beat. Now almost 60, I think I will beat it. But I had to strongly object to someone's recent characterization of the mark as being no big deal. The 60 plus mark before that was held by Jack Brown, 74:26. Now just think of some of the tough and talented older guys who are about Jack's age. I'm talking Barry Truex, Prebon Poulsen, and Mike McSkane. So far as I know, as Seniors, they never got below Jack's 74 minute mark. The sad fact is you can train your heinie off, but the inevitable aging process (going at a pace you can't control) will mostly be responsible for what you can achieve.

Bob Dickson fine column on John Wooden

Good stuff today on RW Online, including an extended essay on Ritz and an interview with Lasse Viren

While it is hard to think beyond The Big Showdown, other important racing will happen this weekend. Some Saugus kids will do an all-comers meet. Debra Jorgenson will do the Fat Ass 50K. And Brian Frank will lead a SCR contingent at Las Vegas. I asked him who else, and he advises, "Most importantly, Kelly Schranz (with Frank pacing her) will be trying to run a 4:15 to qualify for Boston and Cyndi Hoelzel (with Danielle Harper pacing her) will be trying to run a 3:45 to qualify. Nina Miller (probably running another P.R.), Ron Eichler and Ray Reyes are also running and Marilyn Noble is running the half."

Of course I like this story about a 94 year old who races up the Empire State Building

In the current Runner's World (the magazine) there is a good article on the stairs racing, and about training on stairs. I know most of you don't want to hear it, but it is a fact that running, or just walking stairs will improve your times, much like hard hill repeats. For a few years, I did both. I used to work at the Trillium in Woodland Hills (6400 Canoga Blvd., I think), and I worked on the 15th (of 17 stories). I would walk up at least three times a day. This was before the casual clothes days, but it was over so quickly that I didn't raise a sweat. And the pace was just steady, one step at a time. Also, when on a business trip and it was not a good time or the weather was crappy, I'd run the hotel stairs. Super workout.

Someone asked me, what's with Phil and the hamster pix? Was Phil a hamster? The answer is no, Phil is not now, nor has he ever been a hamster. As a matter of fact, I believe we have Paola to thank for the term. I'm told, during some late night Saturday party, that Paola was the first to have referred to the Sunday morning 25 milers as hamsters. When we heard about it- on a Sunday run as a matter of fact- we all just roared (if not sqealed hysterically). Yes, it is apt. Hamsters do most of their workout in the dark, toiling endless, incessantly on their wheel (our route is unchanged in 19 years). There is something a little manic, compulsive, to doing the same thing, at the same time month after month, year after year. (And, yes, Kevin has beady eyes, though the rest of us are reasonably unremarkable.)

I think Phil, being a periodization guy, would agree long runs are good, though not necessary beyond 20 milers, and certainly you need not, and probably should not do a 25 miler every 7 days, 52 weeks a year.

How did it start? 19 years ago, Steve had run many more marathons than Don. Steve was doing a weekly 24 miler, alone, and Don was doing a weekly 19 miler, alone. He agreed to try my 19 miler. After it was over, I asked him what he thought. "Well," he said, "it's an ok longer run..." Because he is sensitive and nurturing, he didn't go on to say it was, well, sorta lame and whimpy, and it wasn't going to get me under three. So I agreed to do the 24, and the rest is history.

Like certain tribes in Kenya, some tribes of American Indians have produced some really outstanding runners. Of course we remember Billy Mills and Jim Thorpe, but there have been many others. Because of the awful poverty and lack of a support system, many of them fall through the cracks and never achieve their potential. There was a good story about Brandon Leslie at the 2004 trials, and you can read it here

Posted by donmclean on 2005/1/26 20:50:00 (3659 reads)

Don, the word on the track tonight was that a big smackdown will be happening at Lowe's on Saturday. Apparently B. Spang, Runnin' Rich Burns, Pete Magill and the rest of the local elite (Jeff Nelson) are planning a burn it down to the ground 40 minute tempo run or ten miles, whichever comes first. Word has it that there will be a warm-up for the first 2 miles and then the pace will jacked down to around 5:20 or lower for the next 40 minutes. Rich says he plans on wearing his racing flats as this is supposed to be some serious training run. Apparently Dale caught wind of this and was miffed that he was not invited, so he said instead of leading the tempo run, he's planning on languishing in the smoking section at around 5:40 pace. I think Brian offered Dale the rabbiting job, but then rescinded his offer after watching Dale struggle through the Tuesday night track session. I understand that Dale will be calling Kevin to see if he'd like to join in with his sub 60 homies. McSweeney is always talking about the sub-60 guys and then everyone else, i.e. the mortals.

Nonetheless, I think the fire department should be notified of this upcoming train wreck on Saturday at Lowe's. In preparation, I've already secured a few fire extinguishers a la Mo Greene, in case some racing flats flare up.. I am planning to dig a shallow grave behind Bridgeport that coincidentally is the exact size of Dale Heys. After Saturday, since Dale, you and I all wear size 9 running shoes, I figure we could split between us all of Dale's shoes since he probably won't be needing them any longer. You can golf in just about anything.

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