Pier to Peak--The Locomotion

It started innocently enough. Our own infamous Black Widow, aka Mieko, heard of a Pier to Peak Fun Run from some of the ultra-runners she had met during previous events. It starts out on the Santa Monica Pier on a Friday evening at 6:00 PM, and after 63 miles finishes at the top of Mt. Wilson, favoring fire roads and trails where possible. This year’s run was dedicated to Craig Chambers (Moose), a much beloved ultra-runner who passed away last year.
The course Craig devised began at the end of the Santa Monica Pier, and reached Sullivan Ridge Road via Amafi. Then right on dirt Mulholland (1965’) eventually crossing the 405 Frwy, then right on Woodrow Wilson Dr., crossing the 101 Frwy, then right on Barham Blvd., right on Lake Hollywood Dr. and left on Wonder View to the trail and extremely steep rock climb to Mt. Cahuenga (1821’). From the back of the Hollywood sign, the course descends on the fire road to Mt. Hollywood Dr., then on trail to Traveltown, on the north side of Griffith Park—the 31 mile mark. Then the LA River is crossed via Riverside Dr., right on Western to Brand Park and through the Verdugo Mts., crossing the Glendale Frwy then east on Loma Alta Dr to Lake Ave in Altadena, then up the Sam Merrill Trail to Mt. Lowe (5600’), Mt. Markham and finally Mt. Wilson (5710’)—63 miles.
Well, Mieko could not resist such an inviting run, even though she had just completed a 100k with 19,000’ elevation gain only 2 weeks prior. So she began spinning her web, to entice other Trail Runners to accompany her. Her emails were peppered with the usual, “You can do it”, “It will be so much fun”, and the final insult to one’s intelligence “I connected the dots, and I think it’s only 40 miles”. For the most part, her pleas fell upon deaf ears and her emails were quickly deleted by most. But Art committed to the first half of the run to Travel Town and Eva, who runs 15-16 miles total on a good week, bought the whole chimichanga.
Art thought, “Moose had a glorious idea-- A run across the urban landscape of LA with as little urban clutter as possible. He chose the end points, the Santa Monica pier and Mt. Wilson and "Fauggio" came up with the course. I only ran the first half and got off at the Live Steamers Train in Griffith Park. Next year I'll do the last half to Mt. Wilson. It's nice to know that there are other crazy people like me who enjoy these kinds of things. This was my first night run and it's what I imagined.”
“Mieko recalled some of her experiences, “After Laurel Canyon, I have no idea where we were. I usually don't go on the Hollywood side anyway. But when we came out from somewhere, I saw Studio City. I just tried to map in my brain from Santa Monica to Studio City... OMG, even when I HAVE to bring my relatives from Japan, driving to Studio City, I felt such a far ways away.... but here we were standing, then going downhill, crossing the freeway... I could not believe how far we came. I felt good.”
“From that point, I have no idea where we went through, but we were climbing Mt. Cahuenga. It was single track rocky trail in the pitch dark. Eva was using my street running headlamp but it was useless on the trail. I stayed behind her to light her foot. This trail footing was just like going through Mishe Mokwa trail in pitch dark and trees and bushes were just like Ernie's Double Goat. We had to call each other to find the way and just followed other people's headlamp.”

“But we are finally headed to a place called Travel Town. And I found out that was near the LA Zoo. Again, I tried to map it in my head.. LA Zoo... OMG. And it was the time to say goodbye to Art. His wife came to pick him up and Eva was so tempted to go with them. But she stayed. I think it was around 3 in the morning when we headed up to Brand Park. I was getting sleepy. I woke up 4:30am on Friday, I had to attended my company's deposition and I was really exhausted, not enough time and volume to eat.”

“Then we stopped and dined at a nice Food Mart. Let me tell you, every time when we stop at the Food Mart at the gas station, it was my paradise. When we stopped at this one, I was debating to have food or not... It was cold and I needed to have something warm. I was going to have a soup but I had coffee instead (a big mistake, a humongous mistake). At first sip, it was nice, warmed my entire body and I drank. When we got to Brand Park, it was about 5 in the morning. I was tired. I was up from 4:30am on Friday, more than 24 hours, and I know I need to keep going at least the next 12 hours. So I popped Stay Awake, the over the counter medication to keep me awake. At the same time I took my Roctaine after the coffee I had earlier... In my 125lbs of Body, at the time I had at least 350mg of Caffeine. I started good, yes well awake.”

“From Brand Park, we were going up Verdugo—not the long uphill fire road—a straight cut up to Verdugo Mountain from Brand Park. I stayed right behind Eva to make sure, but we fell behind the pack. I tried to make sure other people were in the front, but the hill was too steep, I could not keep my eyes on them. Once we came to the top, they were ahead and we did not know which trail they took. Meanwhile, my caffeine started giving me an attack. My heart started pumping so hard, and my breath was getting very short. And my hand was shaking... no good. We became mountain climbers, hands and knees, sliding down the dry loose rocky 75 degree hills… At one point Eva and I were the last two of the pack and we took a wrong turn. The hill was so steep and Eva was hanging on to a couple of strands of dry grasses for her life. I really thought she would not talk to me after this... I saw she was mad... I went ahead to call for help. After we reached fire road, I took for down hills and I was again with the front pack. And that I started having a caffeine rush, even on the downhill. I could not move... So I walked. Everyone passed me.”
“ I knew I needed to eat something, but there was no real FOOD. No more Gu, No more Fruits, No more Gatorade... I needed to eat food. Caffeine really acted up with me. Eva was doing good now, she got her smile back and she left with other runners. So, I asked one of the support guys to take me to eat some food and meet with others at the next stop. I had a nice cheeseburger with 3 packs of salt. But the climb to Echo mountain is not so easy. I started to feel nausea and vomiting again. I was sweating, but it was cold sweat. I stopped and waited for another runner to catch up.”
“After the run, I was so sick that night, and I really did not know how I would be the next morning or if I could make through the night without passing out.... Hope had to hold me to bring me upstairs to our apartment.”

“I crashed on our couch, holding my mouth with a towel, trying to eat some food, but it did not go well. And I went to the bed.”

“My eyes opened about 3:30AM Sunday morning. I was so hungry. I stood up from my bed and my body was fine. But I was just so hungry. I cooked fried noodle and rice and “I ate. I closed my eyes till 5:00AM... then I felt good. So I decided to go the TRC Run to stretch my body. Our trail head was La Jolla Valley, our farthest trailhead. While I was driving, I got so hungry again, so I stopped by McDonald’s to pick up an Egg McMuffin, hash browns and OJ. I am still hungry...”

“When I arrived at the La Jolla, I walked Ray Miller up. Then I saw Dale. We walked down. While we were waiting for the TRC people to finish, I saw Eva with a box of donuts. I really could not believe she came. After she ran her first Ultra, about 60 miles all night long, she was there.”

“I could tell from her face the accomplishment she felt. I knew she could not stay home, because there was no one to understand how exciting the experience was. And I could tell that she was hooked. I think she understands why I love these ultra events. We are not competing with anyone else but ourselves. And people were friendly and supportive even though they don't know you.”

“At the La Jolla picnic table, I was telling Brian that we met nice people. He looked at me "nice people???" Yes, when people were squeezing everything they have, tired and exhausted, their true side comes out.... but they never forget to smile and help others and support. “

“Watch out! Now you got two Black Widows.”

Heaven help us!