Thursday, September 01, 2005

Los Angeles Sports & Fitness Magazine 9/1/05

This is an article from the September 2005 edition of Los Angeles Sports & Fitness Magazine:

Happy Trails

Trail runners Dale Reicheneder and Angela Brunson are
frontrunners in the nation's top trail running series
By Heidi Creed

Over the hills and through the woods, competing for the national title they go. That version of the classic song is quite appropriate for competitive trail runners Dale Reicheneder, 39, and Angela Brunson, 34, the leaders of North America's largest trail-running series organized by Trail Runner Magazine.
The Trophy Series, scheduled from March to September, consists of 120 races across the U.S. and Canada with distances ranging from 2.3 miles to 101.8 miles. The various races are not for the weary as they are loaded with courses that traverse mountains, cross creeks and meander through forests. The series is divided into two categories: Ultra Distance and Marathon & Shorter Distance, with runners earning points simply for finishing and bonus points for finishing in the top three.
Reicheneder is leading the men while Brunson leads the women, both in the Marathon & Shorter Distance series. While the races span the continent inviting trailrunning enthusiasts from across the country, we can be proud to have Reicheneder (Malibu) and Brunson (L.A.) call the Southland home.
Sure, they are focused, eat sensibly and run with clubs, but Reicheneder and Brunson are not slaves to competition. Nor do they have sponsors or endorsement deals, they pay for 100 percent of their expenses. While they both thrive on the feeling of accomplishment and share similar careers as attorneys, the comparisons end there.
Brunson doesn't track points or keep a master calendar, while Reicheneder meticulously tracks distance, time, course and race information for each event. Brunson enjoys celebrating the experience, while Reicheneder won't settle for doing any less than his best. Reicheneder is a born runner, while Brunson became a runner later in life.
While genetic abilities probably have a lot to do with Brunson's accomplishments, she didn't start running until 1999 when she made a New Year's resolution to run a marathon.
"It all started with running around my .2-mile block once more each day," Brunson said. "By the 16th day I had to carry a box of wooden matches in my left hand and transfer one match to my right after each lap in order to keep count." This training was just the beginning. Brunson finished the 1999 L.A. Marathon in a respectable 4:09. She modestly chalks it up to her passion for travel and an addictive personality, but that year Brunson trained to improve with each subsequent race. Rock 'n Roll San Diego (3:45) and Chicago (3:29). By 2000, she dubbed herself a 'serious runner.' She no longer bought shoes for how they looked but rather how they performed. She read some books, joined running clubs Track Club LA and the Santa Monica Mountain Goats and finished the Boston, San Diego and New York marathons. Always seeking the next challenge, she attempted her first race longer than a marathon in 2001. At the San Diego One Day event she circled a track for 24 hours and logged 107.42 miles, earning first-place female honors.
In spite of her success, she still doesn't live to run. "I feel that my training is essential in reducing the stress associated with my job, so it is really more accurate to call it a 'natural fit' as opposed to a balance," said Brunson, an L.A. County Deputy District Attorney.
In her free time, Brunson skates with a female roller derby squad, is a goalie in a women's hockey league, rock climbs and does Pilates. In other words, cross training is "whatever sounds like fun at the moment," Brunson said.
While her accomplishments are a testament to her character, she says she stays focused by taking time to notice the little things. "For me, it is now about the journey I experience along the way," she explained. "Since this discovery, my events have become personally significant and much more meaningful on a deeper level."
She added that the Trophy Series has given her the opportunity to savor all that the local communities have to offer and visit friends in random parts of the country.
To learn more about Brunson, follow her through her blog at
Reicheneder, on the other hand, has been running for as long as he can remember. He dabbled in several sports while growing up in Colorado, but running is what stuck.
"Running was fun for me, plus I had some success with it, which always helps," said Reicheneder, looking back on his high school cross country days. "I wasn't the best one out there by any means, but I was always one who was willing to train more miles than others who had more talent." He was logging 90 miles a week on average through college at Pepperdine University until he opted for a law career. The days of pounding the roads and trails for hours came to a screeching halt when he discovered the rigors of law school and the demands of the career that followed. His 90-mile running weeks were traded for 70-hour work weeks, and 10 bottles of water were replaced with 10 cans of Mountain Dew. Reicheneder's life went from healthy and active to vending machine diets and desk work.
In 2001, four years and 60 pounds later, Reicheneder entered the Malibu Creek Trail Challenge, a 14-mile event that was essentially in his back yard. He wanted to see if he still had it in him. He finished, but he sat at the post-race area for four hours, long after everyone else had left, before he felt able to drive a few miles to get home. That's when he decided something had to change, so he joined the Trail Runners Club, kicked the Mountain Dew habit and traded the marathon-like work week for marathon training.
Unlike Brunson, Reicheneder struggles to achieve balance. When he commits to something, he takes an all-or-nothing approach. "I admit that I run every race to win, but more importantly, I do my best in every race," Reicheneder said. "Racing is a gift that shouldn't ever be treated as anything less."
Reicheneder has traveled thousands of miles over the span of four months and 19 races for the Trophy Series. He has set four course records and has placed in the top five in 16 of the 19 races. And while he has a handsome lead, he is not about to let up. With this commitment comes a price. Reicheneder estimates his travel expenses to date at around $10,000, plus the necessary time off work to trek to those places and the rigorous training schedule.
You wouldn't believe Reicheneder can run the way he does after you see him limp to protect a broken toe on one foot and an outgrowth in the back of his other heel called Haglund's deformity. After the series, he plans to have them operated on by the same surgeon, on the same day, to avoid any extra time off.
So what draws him to trail running? "The mud, the blood, the verticals, the falls, the dirt, the grime, the snakes," he said. And when he's not being masochistic, he does have a softer take on why he runs. Among his favorite parts of the series is hearing about the "local lore," as he calls it. He also loves experiencing the different post-race parties and local hospitality, claiming they give a race that special character and charm. This bundle of experience that caters to all the senses has ultimately made him prouder to be an American.
While Brunson and Reicheneder approach the sport differently, they are on the same path and have become friends along the way.
For more info on the Trophy Series, visit

Monday, August 22, 2005

Why I Didn't Run... 8/22/05

Other runners may be able to relate to that oft repeated question, "So why do you run?" I suspect that there are as many answers as there are runners. But I've just discovered that NO ONE ever asks, "Why don't you run?" or "Why didn't you run ____ race?" For the first time, I was just asked whether or not I ran a particular race and for the first time, my answer was actually "no." After the initial "no" it seemed as though some sort of explanation was required, but I really didn't have one. At least, none that would have actually been truthful or understandable. See the person asking me why I wasn't at a particular race was probably assuming a) I might have been so far ahead of them that they just didn't see me, or b) I was so far behind them that they just didn't see me, or c) I must have been significantly injured, as in full body cast, otherwise I most surely would have competed, or d) some sort of freakish act of nature prevented my attendance (volcanic lava flow surrounded my entire neighborhood the morning of race day, or my apartment was swept up in a hurricane and dropped off in Kansas just as the race started...etc.) Although I did ponder the credibility of spouting off one of those answers just to say something, I realized that when it comes down to it, there is really no good answer to the "how come you didn't run" question, especially since I'm too polite to say "none of your G-- D--- business." I simply wasn't there, I wasn't injured, and this is southern California where there are no active volcanoes and it is sunny and pleasant each and every day. So I guess that is as good as a reason as any to make sure that I WILL be there at the next race!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Mt. Whitney 7/9/05

Earlier this year, a group of my friends thought it might be fun to climb Mt. Whitney. Joanna Lee, Michael Grosso, Paul Durant & Keith Gayheart twisted my arm and begged me to go one day after a particularly tough trail run where I was so whacked out that I didn't even realize I said yes. (Although their version of this part may differ substantially). In February, Joanna Lee was able to get the requisite amount of the coveted permits. Joanna, Mike and myself were Whitney rookies, while Paul Durant had come within 1,000 feet of summitting Mt. Fuji last summer and Keith Gayheart had summitted Whitney before, so I thought of him as our fearless leader (putting his fear of heights aside, he was pretty fearless). After standing in my own living room while wearing the full backpack, I knew the following day's journey was going to be the toughest thing I would ever attempt. My suspicions were confirmed around 5:15am the next morning during the first half mile of the climb. To begin, I am not a "carrier" - I don't like to carry water bottles, camelbaks, gel packs, nothing. I've even been heard to complain that my socks are too heavy. But all the experienced Whitney day hikers suggested that a minimum of two quarts of water is mandatory, as well as warm clothes, gloves, dry socks, hat, windbreaker, trekking poles and snacks. It seemed like I was preparing for a lengthy stay in Siberia, rather than a trip up and down a mountain, which made the task even more daunting. It took seven hours of frequent pit stops and snack breaks between intermittent bouts of sweating, freezing, and wondering how much further until I could take the next break. Considering some of my past undertakings, I suspect the rest of the group had some rather lofty expectations of me. If not for this thought, I seriously would have gone back to the parking lot within the first 45 minutes. Once I got used to sucking air and figured out how to manuever while using trekking poles without skewering the rest of my companions, I was actually able to notice just how flippin' pretty everything around me was. I had forgotten how beautiful snow is when it glistens in pure, unpolluted sunlight. Getting to the top became a slide show of one astounding postcard-like view after another. The best part of the summit was the "throne" where one could relieve themself without any walls obstructing their view. Our group napped, signed the summit book, posed for some photos, then reluctantly began the descent. When I think back, words really can't describe. Luckily, Joanna took some amazing pictures.

Click here for more pictures

Until next time ...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Golden Gate Canyon, Denver 6/26/05

You know you're in for a tough race when the website is and the motto is "When in doubt, run uphill." Now, I've never been a fan of uphills, much less running up hills, but this race was part of the Trail Runner Trophy Series and I needed the points, plus I had a free place to stay that included home cooked food (thanks Dale's Mom!!!) This 12 mile race started around 8,500 feet and included 2,000 feet of climbing (I live at sea level). The course was well marked and it included a little bit of everything: pavement, single track trails, dirt roads, meadows, forests, and some vertical rock climbing. The weather was perfect, although the air was a bit thin. The first five miles were probably some of the toughest I've ever encountered. In fact, I don't think I felt anywhere near "good" until about mile 9. After two hours and two minutes, I crossed the finish line and was shocked to receive a third place medal (women age 34 & under division). There were 95 finishers, many were local to the area. Afterwards, a fellow runner and I were discussing street marathon races vs. trail races and she asked me which one I liked better. I replied, "The ones with oxygen."

Click here for the 6/26/05 Golden Gate Canyon race results

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Shadow of the Giants 6/4/05

If there is a record for farthest distance traveled in order to run the shortest race, I'm fairly sure I broke it. Friday night: I played in my women's league ice hockey championship game which we won in overtime. I got off the ice around 11:00pm, took a quick shower then hit the road to Yosemite with two really good and kind-hearted friends. I managed to get a few cat naps in during the five hour car ride. We arrived at Dale's room about an hour and a half before the race was scheduled to start where I took another short nap. Then Dale drove us to the race start while I napped yet again. This event is really about the 50K which started first. Included in that race were many familiar ultra faces such as Errol "Rocket" Jones and Catra Corbett. After their start, about fifteen less hearty souls lined up for the 11K, my sleepy self included. Dale and I ran the race together while we talked about the Trail Runner Trophy Series (which he is leading), and enjoyed the spectacular scenery. The landscape reminded me of the movie "A River Runs Through It" probably due to the two river crossings. Normally, I am not a fan of wet feet, especially freezing cold wet feet, but the views were magnificent. Being from Los Angeles, I rarely get to run on nice soft dirt covered by a layer of pine needles, so I really savored those sections. Baz, the race director was terrific, the aid station was well stocked, and the race left me wanting more. Next year... except maybe with more sleep.

Click here for UPDATED Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series Standings

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Bishop High Sierra 5/21/05

Bishop, California is a beautiful blend of desert and snow covered mountains. Let me stress the mountain part for a bit. The races start at about 5,000 feet and may get as high as 9,000 feet above sea level. Now let me stress that I live at sea level. Despite that, I wanted to return for my third year of running the 20 mile "fun run" since my lungs would never forgive me if I attempted the 50K or the 50 mile distances. The morning was fairly chilly but the forecast called for a high of 93 F. I braved the start with a minimal amount of clothing thinking it would make me run faster to get warm. Considering the first 11 miles are soft, sandy and uphill, I warmed up faster than a microwave. The races started at 6:00am and once the sun came out, it got hotter than a pubescent boy near the girls' locker room. I could think of a lot more descriptive images to convey just how hot it got, but you probably get the point. I had a bit of a coughing fit as I started climbing but it was probably just the Los Angeles smog leaving my system. The magnificent views of colorful hillsides and the Sierra Nevadas gave me something else to think about between gasps of air. The aid stations were bountiful, in fact the race is basically a connect the dots type event from one cornucopia to the next. There's is absolutely no need to carbo load before this race. Instead, you should save room for loading during the race. As I arrived at the second aid station, I heard one runner behind me actually yell out his demand for chocolate covered strawberries. (Geez, he didn't have to shout, I would've left one for him!) As a female, I feel the sign of any good race is when it is won outright by a female and such was the case in the 50K event. Amy Grafius beat EVERYBODY in 5:15. Not so for my event. I was fifth overall but posted my fastest time on the course in 3:12:06. Must have been the chocolate covered strawberries!

Click here for Bishop High Sierra 20 Mile Race Results

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Malibu Creek Trail Challenge 5/7/05

About 400 people took place in the 14 mile Malibu Creek Trail Challenge on May 7, 2005. There were also about 175 participants in the 4-mile event. The weather conditions were ideal with a cool ocean breeze for much of the race. However, no amount of beautiful skies could help runners up the four-mile cliff known as "The Bulldog" which starts at mile two. As I trotted up this wretched hill, I passed a fellow runner who was wearing something that said "Jesus is my coach" and I thought to myself that even Jesus couldn't help us now - at least not until we got to his front porch located somewhere in the stratosphere at the top of the Bulldog hill.
After the Bulldog hill, the rest of the course consists of gentle sloping uphills with quite a few teeth chattering Kamikaze downhills. Then comes mile 12 - single-track switchbacks climbing up through a hot canyon. Remember how marathoners run into "the wall" around mile 20?
Somewhere around mile 12, I had slowed to such a crawl that it would have been physically impossible for me to "run" into anything, therefore it was "the wall" that actually ran into me.
In retrospect, I must admit that running this particular 14 mile event only six days after completing the Vancouver Marathon was not my most brilliant bit of race planning strategy... However, I actually managed to take four minutes off my Malibu time from last year for fourth place in my division. Naturally, today (Sunday) I've been horizontal on the couch, napping and eagerly awaiting my next dose of Advil.
Local Malibu resident Dale Reicheneder was present to run around his old stomping grounds. He won his division last year, but got fourth in his division this year, likely due to his extreme racing schedule. In his attempt to win a trip to Italy as part of Trail Runner Magazine's Trail Series, Dale seems intent on pushing his body's absolute outer limits. We ran together afterwards for a bit as part of our cool down routine. He mentioned he would be traveling to places like South Carolina, Colorado and Toronto - all within like the next few days as part of his racing quest. Suddenly, my poorly designed racing schedule didn't seem so bad...

Click here for Trail Runner Magazine Trophy Series Standings

Click here for Malibu Creek Race Results

Monday, May 02, 2005

Vancouver International Marathon 5/1/05

You know you're in a cool country when the five-dollar bill has hockey players on it. No dead presidents! No Latin! Of course, there is that nationwide hearing loss problem: "eh?" Anyhow, about 15,000 participants were involved in the Vancouver International Marathon on May 1, 2005. Fortunately, about 10,000 did the HALF marathon (7:00am start) and only about 5,000 joined yours truly for the full 26.2 (7:30am start). The weather was a brilliant 15 degrees... Oh, that's Celsius, eh? A few uphills at mile 17 and 24. The only complaint I have is that the full marathon course was interwoven with the half marathon, so sometimes it was crowded and runners had to PAY ATTENTION to signs instructing some participants to turn and others to go straight. These signs were overhead, and I generally prefer to stare at the ground in front of me. Thanks to the race volunteers and their bullhorns for keeping me on course. My new definition of a negative split: You've just run the first half of a marathon on pace for a 3:14:30 finish, but then your physical energy level turns "negative." As the finish clock gets closer, you watch your PR time click by and then your mental energy turns "negative" for starting too fast. But then you celebrate your finish - even if it is six seconds slower than your PR - by having a banana "split" and thus turning a "negative split" into a joyful sugar induced coma. Oh, that must explain why I can't hear so well now, eh?

Final time - 3:20:20 (eighth in division).

Click here for Vancouver Marathon Results

Mile 12

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Catalina Marathon 3/19/05

The Catalina Marathon was March 19, 2005 under overcast skies and strong winds. Although it was drizzling steadily at 5:00am in Avalon, the boat ride to the start at Two Harbors was blessedly calm. About 50 runners/walkers opted for the early start at 6:30am while 530 runners started at 7:00am. Many runners who were at the rainy Buffalo Run (Catalina Island 2/12/05) were immediately recognizable by the amount of grocery store apparel they wore. Hefty, Glad, and Zip-Loc attire was almost as popular as Adidas, Brooks, and New Balance. I didn't recognize one of my friends at the start line because only her left eyeball was visible from beneath her tightly bound hood. She told me her plan was to get "half as wet" as she did at the Buffalo Run, so she had to wear "twice as much plastic." The clouds looked ominous and there was a headwind for much of the first half, but a strong mist didn't actually start falling until around 9:30am. Somewhere around mile 18, the cloud cover became extremely heavy and the visibility was limited to about five feet (measurement based on the fact that I couldn't see my own feet). Then, for a while, the sun played hide and seek with the clouds. Eventually, I figured out that it was actually me in control of the weather: every time I put my sunglasses on, the sun disappeared behind a cloud, so whenever I wanted to work on my tan, I simply removed the sunglasses again. Although the rain & mud was not nearly as bad as it was during the Buffalo Run, there were numerous river crossings so everyone's feet got wet and I personally had about six juicy blisters. I had hoped to see a Buffalo or two, but didn't see much of anything due to the cloud cover. However, it made for good running conditions, assuming you weren't wearing too much plastic, didn't mind wet feet and remembered to wear a fog lamp.

Click here for the Catalina Marathon results

Click here for the American Trail Championship results

How sweet it is

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Palo Alto Half Marathon 3/5/05

The Palo Alto Trail Race was March 5, 2005. Race distances included the marathon (5 runners), half marathon (91 runners, including me), 10K (89 runners), 5K (21 runners). The weather was perfectly clear and sunny with a slight breeze. The courses consisted of out and back single track trails with lots of hills. Every time the beautiful scenery lulled the participants into a tranquil zen state, a brutal uphill would shock them back to an agonizing reality. In fact, the half marathon had nine hills ranging between 2,000 to just over 2,500 feet. Somewhere around mile 12, I realized that "granny gear" was not enough to get up that particular hill and I started looking around for some mountain climbing gear, but none was found. As I pondered a particularly lovely patch of shade, perfect for a nice picnic or brief nap, another girl who was about six feet tall with legs that were at least four and a half feet long passed me. My suspicions that someone that "peppy" had to be at least five years younger than me were confirmed at the finish, so I still managed to finish first in my age group and second overall female. To put this race in perspective, my finish time at the muddy & rainy Catalina Buffalo Half Marathon two weeks earlier was actually twelve minutes faster than Palo Alto during ideal conditions. Afterwards, Eric Gould, the friendly race director, handed out ribbons while runners munched on generous servings of trail mix, licorice, P&J sandwiches, gummi bears, muffins, pudding, brownies, pretzels, potato soup and hot chili. So be sure to check out Eric's other races and bring your appetite, your camera, and your mountain climbing gear!

Click here for the Palo Alto course profile

Click Here for Palo Alto Results

Click here for other Redwood Trails series events

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Buffalo Run Half Marathon 2/12/05

The Buffalo Run Half Marathon took place on at Catalina Island on February 12, 2005. Despite the rainy forecast and muddy trails, there were about 250 participants. What made this run more challenging than usual was the extremely rough boat ride to get from Long Beach to Catalina. You know it's going to be bad when the captain announces, "Folks, even though we have coffee and orange juice available, if you don't need it, don't drink it." Before departure, the staff spent more time handing out sea sickness bags than explaining the proper way to wear the life preserver. They say there is a first time for everything, and I learned the hard way that I am prone to getting seasick. Fortunately, I'm small so my stomach contents only filled up one bag - what I refer to as "carbo-deloading." Once we landed, it started raining. I managed to get a little oatmeal to stay down before the start, but still felt less than good. Things went from bad to worse when the race director gave us the pre-race pep talk which included this statement, "Folks, I'm not going to lie to you, the trails are in pretty bad shape..." The temperature was in the mid fifties with a strong breeze and a steady rain. About a half hour after we started, the rain subsided long enough for most runners to ditch their ponchos and trash bags, then naturally it started raining again. The first six miles were uphill, but it might be more accurate to describe it as upstream. There were a few points on the course where the entire fire-road was one giant puddle from one side to the other and runners had no choice but to wade through ankle deep muddy water. But honestly, running in these conditions was a lot more pleasant than the boat ride, so I tried my best to enjoy it. The terrain was pretty grueling, and I certainly wasn't in a hurry to get back on the boat, but somehow I finished first overall female in 1:44:18. Afterwards, I seriously contemplated becoming a permanent resident of Avalon, rather than get back on the boat but who would feed my cat? So I took some Dramamine and made it back with no problems. Despite the misery, I highly recommend this race to those who like a good challenge, but next year I might try taking the helicopter...

Click here for Buffalo Half Marathon Results

It was a day like that

Friday, January 21, 2005


2/12/05 - Buffalo Run Trail Half Marathon, Catalina Island CA
3/05/05 - Palo Alto Vista Trail Half Marathon, Palo Alto CA
3/19/05 - Catalina Trail Marathon, Catalina Island CA
5/01/05 - Vancouver Marathon, Vancouver BC
5/07/05 - Malibu Creek Trail Challenge, Malibu CA
5/21/05 - Bishop High Sierra, Bishop CA
6/04/05 - Shadow of the Giants, Fish Camp CA
6/26/05 - Golden Gate Canyon Trail Run, Denver CO
8/06/05 - Plasses/Silver Lake Trail Run, CA
8/14/05 - Haulin' Aspen Trail Marathon, Bend OR
9/24/05 - San Pablo Bay Trail Run, San Rafael CA