Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

Dawn - Sometimes An Ultrarunner

December 30, 2014

50k Woodside, CA, 28 Dec 2014

I always worry about weather for a race.  Wind, cold, heat, rain, more wind...snow?  And you know what...I've run through all those nasty conditions, and usually it's still fun.   With the right clothing of course!...and debating about what that happens to be can be quite a challenge.

Not for this race, however.  Forecast was for sun and more sun, and so what if it was a little chilly, that's actually perfect running weather.   There was sunscreen available at race check in, which struck me as a little strange...I probably saw the dim midwinter sun about twice during this course, being as it was through the tall, dense trees of the coastal hills south of San Francisco!  Perhaps sunscreen is just a staple at these events, put on by Pacific Coast Trail Runs.  They do a cool series of events, making me wish I lived closer to these great venues.

This race had 4 distances; 10k, 17k, 35k, and 50k.   Jim decided to run the 17k, and sent me off on the  50k as his race started 30 minutes later.   Either distance, it was going to be hilly day for both of us and we were starting at the bottom.   One woman ran by me warning of the 10 mile hill to come...it wasn't of course, that long, but it did feel like an unending climb.   I knew it would be a nice to descent to finish the race, but hoped I would have the legs for it at the end!

The course meandered through Huddart and Wunderlich County Parks.  Between the two, the course merged seamlessly into the Skyline Trail.  I think the Skyline trail was my favorite part of the day...it was flattish yet rolling trail in deep woods (ok it was all deep woods) along the side of some very steep ravines.

The loop at the halfway point was very fun to run down...I was running 9 minute miles for a few on the downhill portions!  I knew it would be a long way back up when I started seeing eucalyptus trees at the bottom...of course coming back uphill hit just as my legs were starting to complain about mile 17.

The aid stations were well stocked, and I hit both of them twice as I retraced my steps on the second half.   My choices of food for the day were mostly Oreos and salty chips...I know, that seems disgusting, but if they were on offer, then I'm sure I'm not the only one munching on such things!

Aside from a refill of coke in my pack, I didn't stick around long...although I did want to try out those chairs for a while!

The midmorning sun transitioned to afternoon sun without ever seeming to get above the horizon.  The days might be getting longer but I can't see it yet.  Filtered sunlight came sporadically through the redwoods and deep forest, and the temperature seemed to stay perfectly cool the whole time.

The rolling hills seemed a lot less fun on the second half, where I was really wishing for the final downhill.   When it finally came, I was really in too much pain to enjoy it, unfortunately.    This hurts, I was thinking.  Why?  Because it's been too long since my last ultra.  Perversely, the more often I run these things, the less they hurt.  Perhaps it's just my pain tolerance going up, I don't know.   (It couldn't have been too bad however...shortly after finishing I was talking about the next one, as usual!)

At any rate, the finish line was a very happy sight.  You know, it's that moment when the warm, flat, watered-down Coke in my bottle changes from the best thing I've ever had to drink, to a gross, sticky mess that I have to clean out the next morning.   Jim was waiting for me there, having had time to head back and shower after conquering his 17k!

Results are HERE:  http://ultrasignup.com/results_event.aspx?did=27079  

We both finished about midway through the results.   I'm usually higher than that and actually run faster than I had predicted. So although I'm in pretty good shape, I think the quality of runners is really high in this area.   I'm always wishing to run faster, though...in this case I have been training by hiking with a pack (X-Alps training of course) rather than running downhill...this definitely didn't prepare me for such a hilly run.

Before....rocking the wild running pants!
And After!

December 29, 2014

Bishop's Peak Double Ascent!

We are out in California for Christmas, and determined to get outside in the beautiful weather.   Our favorite hike in the area of San Luis Obispo is called Bishop's Peak.  It's the tallest of the Nine Sisters, which are volcanic bumps in and around town.   We like the hike because it's got a lot of elevation change even if it is a little short.  So occasionally for good training, we do the whole hike twice!

The out and back hike is about 3.5 miles depending on who you ask.   It's got over 1000 feet of elevation gain though, and it's quite technical.   In summer heat it's pretty exposed to the sunshine, but in the winter it's wonderful to be warm outdoors.   Not to mention the great views over to the ocean!  There's even a little section of scrub oak forest which always makes me pull out the camera.

We did the two rounds in about an hour each, and felt like we got a nice workout.  A good change from the treadmill workouts I've been confined to lately.

December 9, 2014

52 Flights on South Side in an Hour!

South Side of the Point Of The Mountain.  I can't actually remember when I was there last, which is silly considering it's a great paragliding resource for me.  However, it will be a very familiar sight (and site) in my training leading up to the X-Alps, for a lot of reasons.   It's a 200 foot high hill that most people love to soar in the mornings, and it's taught a countless number of new pilots how to fly.

In the winter, with a gentle south wind it can be flyable all day, which is was happened this week.  Jim happened to drive by and saw a few wings in the air, so we quickly grabbed our stuff and got out there at 3 in the afternoon.  It was a warm winter day and although I hadn't done any top landings for a while, it is like riding a bicycle.  So I set out to see how many I could do before the wind died off!

Conditions were perfect, light and floaty and just enough to keep me in the air but I could land anywhere.  Sidehill, top, it didn't matter.   I was flying an Ozone Octane, not because I wanted to do Acro but because it's a solid wing that can take a beating on the gravel at South Side.   It doesn't kite that well but it surely likes to fly, and I was able to do foot sliders for hundreds of feet along the side of the hill.   As the wind got lighter I side-hill landed and ran back up the hill while still flying my wing...anything to keep flying rather than landing at the bottom.

I was just able to get my goal of 50 flights in before the wind gave up, and it felt really good to be able to jump out and do something like that.   With a little more time, maybe I'll try for 100, but my real goal is the site record, set by paragliding legend Ken Hudonjorgensen.  In one day, he was able to do 333 top landings.   That's more flights than most people get in a year, or maybe a lifetime!

South Side will be great prep for me, not just for top landings, but for top- to-bottom hiking laps. That will give me plenty of chances to hike up, unpack my gear, enjoy the 30 second flight to the bottom, then pack up and do it all over again.  This will help me really dial in my gear choices and know how to pack it fast and furious for the race!

December 7, 2014

Bring on the Zone 3 Workouts!

So once a week along with my other strength and cardio workouts, I do what is called a Zone 3 workout. That's when I run or stair climb my way up to a high enough heart rate that I am pushing myself hard, while still burning fat rather than carbs.

This week my workout was 4 repetitions of 20 min at Zone 3 with 6 min rest, plus warmup and cool down.  It feels hard without being too hard, if you know what I mean.  I did this workout on the treadmill, and ran 10 miles in about 2 hours of intervals.

(Ignore the HR glitches in repetition 1, I think someone walked by my treadmill wearing a HR monitor)

December 5, 2014

VO2 Max Testing

It's time to start getting serious about being in shape for the X-Alps.    To begin my training more scientifically, I did a VO2 Max test on the treadmill a little while back.   After a warmup, I started running wearing a mask which measures the amount of CO2 and O2 I was using.  Each time 2 minutes passed my speed increased, until the point where I couldn't run anymore.  I think this was 20 something minutes long, I can't remember exactly.  I do remember that it hurt by the end!

The VO2 Max test is important in that it tells me the intensity where I am burning more calories from fat.  As speed increases, calories start coming directly from sugar, which allows me to run faster but not for very long.  For long races, it's better to stay at a pace that allows me to burn the most fat, since those stores are almost unlimited even on the thinnest people.

Now that I have the numbers and my ideal heart rate for burning the most fat while exercising, a lot of my workouts are going to be slow, in Zone 1 and Zone 2.  To be honest, it hardly feels like I am getting a workout, which is what will allow me to carry my pack all day long in the X-Alps.    Once a week, though, I will bump it up to a harder workout in Zone 3.  This will feel like I am finally pushing the pace a little while still burning fat, unlike Zone 4 & 5 where I'm just using carbs.

As I get more fit over the winter and spring, I will be repeating this test a couple of times.  Hopefully my results will show that I am going faster while maintaining the same heart rate, and burning a greater percentage of fat!  

My VO2 Max results - Heart Rate Zones

December 2, 2014

Human Race 10k, Thanksgiving 2014

Who doesn't want to eat a lot on Thanksgiving?   Well, at least running a 10k that morning helped pre-work some of those calories off!    And it's for a good cause...this was a huge race in Draper, with 5,690 runners toeing the start line of the 5k and 10k races.   As you can see from the pictures, the main clothing themes were orange race shirts and turkey hats.   Since proceeds went towards the Utah Food Bank, the race was able to provide the equivalent of 353,000 meals for needy families in Utah!

For the first time in a while, I wasn't at the start line alone.   Family members Jim, Judy and Abby were there to run with me on a cool, blustery morning.   Luckily temps were above freezing even if the wind felt like an arctic blast at times.  We did get to see a nice sunrise over the Wasatch mountains while waiting for the start.  And then it was mind over matter trying to pace myself to a fast 6.2 miles.  The course went around the local strip mall, which wasn't terribly scenic, but it was (mostly) flat.  I thought the finish line would never arrive, but finished in 53 minutes....I suppose not bad for racing at 5,000 feet of elevation.   Judy and Abby finished strong but looked like they were suffering a little, having come from sea level just the day before.   Jim was only a few minutes behind me and claimed he could have gone faster, so we all enjoyed the run.  And then went home and had turkey with all the fixings!

Results are here:  http://www.milliseconds.com/races/detail/139290  (Although the VAST majority of runners didn't wear timing chips, so the ones that did pay extra for timing were probably the faster ones!)

Jim, Dawn, Judy and Abby pre-race!

November 25, 2014

Corner Canyon Snow Hike (with my new favorite dog!)

I'm hoping that this won't be the weather that I am competing in next July in the X-Alps!  But my training is ramping up and I've got to get out on the trails even in the snow.  Luckily I had a houseguest join me for the hike up into Corner Canyon, Rok the wonder dog!

Yup, taking care of Becca Bredehoft's dog for a week was really fun (made me want a dog a lot!)   He enjoyed coming out for hikes with me and rolling in the snow.

Corner Canyon is close enough to my house that I can hike from home, linking a few paved trails with some city streets to get to the real trails.  And there are a lot of them around the Point of the Mountain...enough that I can take different trails for many hikes and not get bored.   Or even hike to the top of North Side and fly home.

It was pretty early in the year for this cold and snow stuff, but I picked a nice day to head out and even saw a few deer (luckily Rok didn't).   Let the training begin!

November 23, 2014

I made the US Paragliding Team!

Wow, so cool to be on the USA Paragliding Team!  Check out our page here:  http://www.usparaglidingteam.org/team.html


The 2015 US Team will be traveling to Roldanillo, Colombia in Janruary to compete in the World Championships (a.k.a. "The Worlds"). The Worlds are held every 2 years, and the best pilots from each country battle it out for their spot on the podium. The level of the competition at the Worlds is amazing. The US Team is selected based on the performance of US Pilots in competitions over the last 2 years, and this ranking is called NTSS, or National Team Selection System. You can view the current NTSS rankings by visiting USHPA.aero. The 2015 Team consists of the following four Pilots plus the team leader.

Josh Cohn

Josh Cohn Profile
Josh Cohn is perhaps the most accomplished pilot in the US competition scene. Josh has been at the top of the field for as long as anyone and continues to rule the skies. If you are at a US competition, you will likely see most pilots following Josh before and after the start of the race. As Nate Scales puts it, "People have been following J.C. for two thousand years". Josh has competed at more World Championship events than any other U.S. Pilot. 
Josh ChelanJosh Chelan LaunchJosh Valle Launch
Josh Valle LZJosh Chelan PodiumJosh Chelan Launch
2014 US NTSS Ranking: 1
Current World WPRS Ranking:176
Age: 41
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 70kg
Hometown: El Cerrito, CA
Birthplace: San Francisco, CA
Education: Masters, Geology
Occupation: Buyer, Independent Music Distributor
Local Paragliding Club: BAPA
Favorite US PG Site: Chelan, Washington
Home Paragliding Site: Dunlap?
Favorite World PG Site: Roldanillo
Sponsors: Eagle ParaglidingFlytec USA
Year Started Flying: 1989
Glider at Worlds: Ozone Enzo 2
Harness at Worlds: Woody Valley X-Alps GTO
Instruments: Flytec 6030
2014 US Paragliding National Championships 2nd place
2013 Monarca Open 1st Place
2012 Chelan XC Open 1st Place
2012 Rat Race 2nd Place
2011 Rat Race 2nd Place
2012 PWC Superfinal, Valle de Bravo 5th Place
2011 Paragliding World Championships 4th Place
2010 Chelan Paragliding World Cup 1st Place
2010 Monarca Paragliding Open 2nd Place
2008 Pre-Worlds Mexico 4th place
2007 World Championships 8th place
2004 World Championships Portugal task 5 winner
1999 US Paragliding Champion

Eric Reed

Eric Reed Profile
Pound for pound BADGER is the toughest animal in the paraglidng kingdom. Period. Enough said.
Eric Siera safariEric in Mexicoeric 2009 Worlds
Eric FlyingEric in PrisonEric Podium
2013 US NTSS Ranking: 2
Current World WPRS Ranking: 44
Age: 22 in badger years
Height: 5'6
Weight: 150
Hometown: New Jersey
Birthplace: a deep dark hole
Education:Bachelors degrees in Cognitive Science & Biology
Occupation: Paragliding & Software
Local Paragliding Club:Bay Area Paragliding Association
Favorite US PG Site: Telluride, CO
Home Paragliding Site: Dunlap, CA
Favorite World PG Site:Himalayas
Sponsors: Eagle Paragliding, Niviuk, Sup Air
Year Started Flying: 1997
Glider at Worlds: Ozone Enzo 2
Harness at Worlds: Woody Valley X-Alps GTO
Instruments: Flytec 6030 Garmin 76s, Android
Longest bivy flight in World (2010, 1182 km)
Longest bivy flight in US (2012, 663 km)
2011 US Paragliding Champion
2003 US Paragliding Champion
2011 1st Colombian Open
2010 1st Sun Valley Nationals

Nick Greece

Nick Greece Profile
Nick Greece, a man with innumerable talents, is tough to define. Poet, world traveler, philosopher, rap impresario, big game hunter, philanthropist, contortionist, ladie's man, man's man, nick is one of the great enigmas of our time. On an average day our USHPA magazine editor might spend his time fishing off his porch, slaying trophy grizzly bears, or saving the children of impoverished countries. Despite his many pursuits Nick still found time last year to set the National foot launch distance record and completed the longest vol biv expedition ever in the USA.
Nick LaunchNick Podium ChelanNick Podium Colombia
Nick FlyingNick GhanaNick Flying
2011 US NTSS Ranking: 3
Current World WPRS Ranking: 453
Age: 37
Height: 6'
Weight: 185
Hometown: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Birthplace: Ohio
Education: Beloit College, Wisconsin
Occupation: Editor for the USHPA Magazine
Local Paragliding Club: Jackson Hole Free Flight Club
Favorite US PG Site: Jackson, Chelan, Sun Valley
Home Paragliding Site: Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Favorite World PG Site: Aravis, Piedrahita, Colombia
Sponsors: KAVUKEENOzoneFlytecGoal ZeroSharkies
Year Started Flying: 2001
Glider at Worlds: Ozone Enzo
Harness at Worlds: Woody Valley XAlps GTO
Instruments: Flytec 6030
2014 US National Champion
2014 Longest paraglider flight by an American, 419km 2012 3rd Place Rat Race/US Nationals
2012 2nd Place Chelan
2011 1st Place Rat Race
2011 Paragliding World Cup Americas Champion
2011 Paragliding World Cup Colombia 7th place
2010 Paragliding World Cup Chelan 2nd place
2010 Paragliding World Cup Americas Title 2nd place
2010 US Nationals Series 2nd place
2009 US Nationals Series 3rd place

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson Profile
Jared Anderson is a self-confessed paragliding addict, he even sold his dental clinic to chase his flying dreams. As a relative rookie in the competition scene, He placed an impressive 3rd overall at his first PWC in Argentina. Having flown in the Pre-worlds in Colombia last year, Jared is ready for battle. 
Jared AndersonJared AndersonJared Anderson
Jared AndersonJared AndersonJared Anderson
2014 US NTSS Ranking: 4
Current World WPRS Ranking: 112
Age: 44
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 198 lbs
Hometown: Medford, OR
Birthplace: Bend, OR
Education: Doctorate
Occupation: Dentist
Local Paragliding Club: Rogue Valley Hang/Paraglider Assoc.
Favorite US PG Site: Chelan, Woodrat
Home Paragliding Site: Woodrat, OR
Favorite World PG Site: Valle de Bravo, Roldanillo
Sponsors: Eagle Paragliding, Thermaltracker Paragliding
Year Started Flying: 2007
Glider at Worlds: Ozone Enzo 2
Harness at Worlds: Woody Valley X-Rated 6
Instruments: Flytec 6030
2014 PWC Argentina:  3rd place


Matt Beechinor

Matt Beechinor Profile
Matt was a member of the 2009 US Paragliding Team and will use his years of competition experience to help the team achieve their best results in Colombia.

Matt Says: "As President of the U.S. Paragliding Team I hope to help raise funds so the team pilots can enjoy this experience they have worked so hard to earn. I will make sure the team is ready for battle, and support them so they can focus on the flying."

Hometown: Sun Valley, ID
Birthplace: Wenatchee, WA
Education: B.A.
Occupation: Paragliding Guide, Tandem Pilot, Carpenter
Local Paragliding Club: Sun Valley Paragliding Club

2015 Red Bull X-Alps

The Red Bull X-Alps is the world's toughest adventure race, a bold claim, but one it surely deserves. The concept is a simple one. Athletes must race from Salzburg to Monaco, by foot or paraglider, a straight-line distance of approximately 1,000km. Its simplicity is something that has attracted and tested to the limit some of the world's top adventurers over the last 12 years. Among adventurers, it's known as the ultimate race. It's an incredible challenge, demanding not only expert paragliding skill but extreme endurance. Some athletes will hike over 100km in a day and will have covered over 900km on foot by the time the race is over! Each team consists of one athlete and up to two supporters. No technical or outside assistance is allowed. The support team is just there to help with logistics, food and mental help. For the fans following the action live, the seventh Red Bull X-Alps promises to be an unforgettable spectacle of action. The USA will represented this year by three teams. USA-1, althlete Honza Rejmanek with supporter Jesse Williams. USA-2, Athlete Gavin McClurg with supporter to be announced. USA-2, Athlete Dawn Westrum with supporter to be announced. 

Honza Rejmanek USA-1

Eric Reed Profile
Honza has been specifically designed to compete in the Red Bull X-Alps, one part mad scientist, one part pure animal. His birdlike flying abilities combined with his master’s degree in atmospheric science that he obtained from UC Davis gives him a unique ability to maximizing the flying days in this brutal race. On those race days that require athletes to cover massive amounts of distance on foot Honza excels, he eats pain and suffering for breakfast, he thrives on it. After a podium finish in 2009 and multiple top 10 finishes he is more motivated than ever to land on that raft in Monaco. 
Honza RejmanekHonza RejmanekHonza Rejmanek
Honza RejmanekHonza RejmanekHonza Rejmanek
Age: 39
Weight: 175 lb before the X-Alps, 165 after
Hometown: Davis, CA
Birthplace: Prague, Czech Republic
Education: Masters in Atmospheric Science
Occupation: Atmospheric Scientist
Local Paragliding Club: BAPA
Favorite US PG Site: Sun Valley, Idaho
Home Paragliding Site: Berryessa
Favorite World PG Site: The Alps
Sponsors: US Pilots and Enthusiasts who support the U.S. Paragliding Team, TAKA UP Paragliders, Sup-Air, Black Diamond, Hammer Nutrition, Foundation for Free Flight, GoFly Project, Atlanta Paragliding, Eagle Paragliding, Super Fly Paragliding, Seattle Paragliding, Orthovox, XC-Skies, Brave Soldier 
Year Started Flying: 1993
Glider: UP Trango X-light 2
Harness: Sup Air XA13
Instruments: Flytec 6030
Top ten last three X-Alps with a podium finish in 2009 

USA-1 / Honza Rejmanek Supporter 

Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams Profile
Jesse Williams, 35, first took and introductory paragliding course in New Zealand in 2000. Since this first flight, Jesse embraced carrying the heavy gear up mountains. He attributes hiking heavier gear up the mountain frequently with pushing his fitness to top level in spring 2011 when he placed first in the Sun Mountain 50k trail race (4h 28m). Jesse is thrilled to be part of the X-Alps as a supporter this year and is hoping to bring flying knowledge as well his trail racing background to this great competition. Jesse is expecting to put in a lot of tough miles doing foot support and is eagerly awaiting the ultimate competition of strength, strategy, endurance, and flying skill."

Hometown: Bellingham WA
Birthplace: Mount Vernon WA
Education: Associate degree in nursing
Occupation: Registered Nurse
Local Paragliding Club: Northwest Paragliding Club

Gavin McClurg USA-2

Gavin McClurg Profile
World-class adventurer Gavin McClurg spent over a decade sailing around the world – and may be the only person ever to learn to paraglide while living on a boat. With some of the longest vol-bivvy flights in the world under his belt – and the North American foot launch record of 387km in one day – he's ready for the Red Bull X-Alps. To learn more about Gavin, check out his blog www.cloudbasemayhem.com
Gavin McClurgGavin McClurgGavin McClurg
Gavin McClurgGavin McClurgGavin McClurg
Age: 42
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 155 
Hometown: Sun Valley, ID
Birthplace: Vista, CA
Education: Bachelors, Business
Occupation: Owner, Entrepreneur, dreamer
Local Paragliding Club: Sun Valley
Favorite US PG Site: Sun Valley!
Home Paragliding Site: Sun Valley dammit!
Favorite World PG Site: Sun Valley for crying out loud!
Sponsors: Patagonia, Niviuk, GoPro, Sup’Air, Smith Optics, NocoXGrid, Klymit, Pocketfuel Naturals, Patagonia Provisions, SteriPen, BlackDiamond Equipment, Flytec 
Year Started Flying: 2006
Glider: Niviuk IcePeak 7
Harness: Sup’Air 
Instruments: Flytec 6030
2014 Longest connected flight log (vol biv) in the world? (Mackenzie to US border)
2014 2nd Place, Pre Worlds (Colombia)
2013 North American Foot Launch Distance Record (387 km)
2012 Longest North American Vol-Biv (Sierras)

Dawn Westrum USA-3

Dawn Westrum Profile
Dawn can't seem to figure out which sport to pursue, so she tries them all. Triathlete turned adventure racer, she has completed hundreds of races including marathons, ultra marathons, Ironman triathlons, expedition races and even a hundred mile run. Add paragliding to the mix and it's a recipe for a female comeback in the 2015 Red Bull X-Alps. Dawn has been paragliding for 6 years and loves the challenge of XC, as well as having fun doing lots of top and side hill landings on South Side of the Point of the Mountain! Combining her love of running with paragliding is the ultimate challenge. 
Dawn WestrumDawn WestrumDawn Westrum
Dawn WestrumDawn WestrumDawn Westrum
Age: 36
Height: 5'9"
Weight: 135 
Hometown: Draper, UTAH
Birthplace: Boone, Iowa 
Education: Bachelors, Humanities
Occupation:Nutritionist and House Flipper
Local Paragliding Club: UHGPGA
Favorite US PG Site: Inspo, Utah
Home Paragliding Site: Point of the Mountain, Utah
Favorite World PG Site:Iquique, Chile
Sponsors: ?????????????
Year Started Flying: 2009
Glider: Ozone Delta 2
Harness: Woody Valley X-Alps GTO
Instruments: Flymaster Nav
2015 Red Bull X-Alps Participant
2014 Point Rat Series 1st Place Overall
2013 Open Distance Nationals Utah, 3rd Woman
2013 Rat Race Sprint, 3rd Woman

My training for the Red Bull X-Alps is officially started, and now I'm starting to think about all the details for the race. LOTS of them. Including funding. If you would like to make a donation to the US Paragliding Team (no pressure!), then follow links on the website, or write to: 

US Paragliding Team
9680 W Tropicana
Las Vegas NV 89147