Friday, December 21, 2012

Pigtails 50K

I don't have any pictures for this race...I could get some easy enough, but just picture a flat trail through the woods, well, mostly flat anyway. And a stream next to it surrounded by Evergreens and other fauna - that was the gist of it.

For whatever reason I just wanted to run a sub 4 hour 50K, and although I’ve done it in training runs before - but never an “official” race so I figure this was a good place to cross this one off the list since I can’t seem to run a good 100. I did have some pretty decent fast training runs in the past few weeks so I figured I’d give this a go. Although this is nothing like I usually run, 0% single track, over 50% on paved trails, it is still fun and felt good to actually motor along at a decent pace and to run rhythmic…is that what I was doing?  The first ½ of the course is gently downhill, which was making it tough to not run too fast since I felt like I was fighting myself just trying to stay above 7:00 pace.  Although I didn’t realize it at the time, the wind was at my back also. I went through 13.1 somewhere around 1:33 something and barely felt like I was running. We turned around shortly after that and I quickly noticed I was on a gentle uphill, and a nice little head wind just for the fun of it. Occasional snowflakes dropping from the sky were much more welcome than rain would have been. The miles were still ticking by semi ok in the 7:15 – 7:25 range but as I passed mile 18 I noticed my quad was starting to tighten up. And when the legs start to tighten the mind usually does some weird thing where time slows down and the miles feel soooo much longer. But really it was fatigue setting in. I’m old. I’m getting slow. That’s life but I still run semi ok for someone just past 40, right?  That’s what I tell myself anyway. Besides, I still enjoy it just as much as I ever did.  At the mile 21.7 aid station the 50K people had to take a different trail for a short out and back to get all our  mileage in, that was a nice little (and I mean little) hill followed by more gentle uphill. Which of course we all got back on the way down. After that it was just try and hit sub  8 minute miles as best as I could and survive to the finish. I made it in 3:56 and some change which equates to about 7:30 per mile per my garmin and the mileage I had. I actually thought I would be somewhere around 3:50. But whatever – it was a fun day running, got lucky with the weather, and it’s not often that I have a sub whatever goal and actually make it. Time to rest up, take some time off, get my knee healthy, and do something else for a (very) short time before it’s back to the single track. Thanks to all the volunteers out there, there were awesome. I would have loved to hang out and talk Tiger Mountain a little longer with them like the girl at mile 21.7 and again after the 50K bonus out and back, but I needed to get the race done before the snow turned into rain. I’m still trying to figure out what to run in 2013. Zion – check. A couple small races. Check. Need something for later in the summer but not sure where I want to go?

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Waiting Game

Zion. Coming soon
 to a run near me.
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

Wait is defined as “to postpone or delay something or to be postponed or delayed” (

Someone once asked me to wait for them. A week turned into a month which turned into many months. Then a year. Then more months on top of that. All hiding behind lies and self fulfilling agendas. I was going through a lot of stuff in life at the time besides this. I became hugely depressed. Most days I didn’t even want to wake up, and there was no denying that I was at a point where that was a distinct possibility. It turns out that person is a liar. A user. And a piece of shit that I am thankful things didn’t work out with. I was at a point where I was no longer me, but I let that happen. Lesson learned though - so I take some positive from that.

Another person asked me to wait for something just recently also. I couldn’t get an answer to what in fact I was waiting for. So the answer is no – I’m not waiting. Life doesn't wait, and most often I won't either.
How does all this tie into running? Or life since for me the two are so closely intertwined? I don’t know if I can explain it clearly (or concisely) but I’ll try. I’ve had people ask me how I am going to feel when I’m crippled at 70 years old from all the running I do now. Again – am I supposed to wait for that to happen through natural causes or osteoporosis, old age, arthritis or atrophy? Am I supposed to save my knees, hips, ankles, and whatever else I’m supposedly wearing out so I can win the weekly mall walking lap race against the other old geezers? Would that entail sitting around doing nothing now? Only to save myself for that time? So I can be an able bodied old bastard I should let present life pass by? Where is the sense in that? I don't see it.
The only thing I have figured out for myself is that life is about now, today, in this moment which I am in control of - as I get out of each day I wake up and think how awesome each moment within this day will be. I am not going to live for anyone outside of my kids and people close to me.  I am going to be there for them from the moment they were born to the moment I die, and come hell or high water there is nothing that could ever stop me if needed. And in between I am going to experience life to the fullest extent I can. I am going to see all parts of the world that I always wanted to. I look back and think of all the places I have seen a sunrise or sunset, in all different mountain ranges and all time zones. My own picture book in my head could be it's own Ansel Adams gallery. And it is still growing because I am still living for now because tomorrow is not guaranteed. Sure, I have regrets and many wasted days in the past, but the fact is I have learned so much in living life so far it makes me realize that even the bad days weren’t completely wasted because they brought me to where I am now. In a good place, seeing so many new things and meeting so many interesting people from all parts of the world and life.  It’s a pretty amazing journey I’m on right now, and this ride is just getting good. I can’t wait for it to continue. And I’m not going to either. And I still have many miles left to run.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Grand Ridge 50K

There is no flat trail once on the single track.
Grand Ridge 50K – I ended up winning but didn’t feel as if I ran well. I saw little Megan back there (hi : ) and man, I didn’t want to get beat by a little girl, I’m sure that time is coming soon but not quite yet please. The rocks killed my wimpy feet too. It sure sucks getting older. But in all seriousness, I think it’s the fact that I really haven’t run many trails this year.  With so much going on all the time and running so many miles I didn’t always have time to drive and run 20 miles in a single day.  In hindsight it may have been better to run 15 miles on trails as opposed to 20 around town. The race started off as most 50K’s start off, 5-6 people going way way WAYYYYY too fast. I don’t know if they just wanted to lead a race, or they were feeling so well so early, or what it was. But I thought I had a 4:50 in me for this run, so I just ran the pace I thought I needed to which was 2:02 for each lap and then whatever on the short 5 mile loop. First lap easy – 2:02. Second lap I was actually pretty good, lost some time when I needed to pig out at the aid station, and drink a bunch. But I think it was maybe2:06 or 2:07. The last lap was pretty bad. I took a couple minutes trying to get food in me before I set off on the last lap, and also had to drink because the preceding aid station had a line for the fluids which I did NOT want to wait for.  Anyway, to make a long sob story short, I sucked on the last part of the 3.5 miles of climbing before the downhill. I was still “running” but it was pathetic. Shit hurt. Whenever I get like this I get a Phil Ligget quote in my head that he said one time about Jan Ullrich as Lance was dropping him in the mountains, “It’s like his brain told his legs, bridge to engine room more power, but there isn’t any.” The last 2 miles was a complete bonk. I dropped my last Clif Blok on the ground, and that was it. It fell in cinematic slow motion too, it was pretty  amazing. Or maybe I was just running in slow motion at that point, it was hard to tell. Luckily it was mostly downhill to finish so I shuffled my way there in a complete cement shoed bonk. It did down pour for the last ½ mile or so, but I was too hungry to care. Made it to the finish, stood under the EZ up, and then saw pizza and muffins and attempted to eat my weight in food. Yummy. I also won a choice of Rudy Project sunglasses and then a case of muscle milk for the win. Yum yum. Time to seriously get my old ass into shape though. OK, I do realize I’m in decent shape, but not exactly the race shape that I want to be in. But as always, it is so awesome to run in the woods and enjoy the solitude and clear thoughts of nothingness as the ground blurs beneath my feet. That’s a good happy place to be.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tiger Mountain @ Night

Tiger awaits in the distance as darkness comes.
We are hoping to make these a regular occurrence this winter. BS and I ran somewhere around 13 miles with about 3950 of gain. His phone app GPS  thingie said only  11.9, but my Garmin said 13 so of course we go with what mine says. It was really hard to see (duh! It’s nighttime) and on most every part of trail the pace was severely limited by poor visibility more than anything else. Even running up the mountain I couldn’t run as fast as I wanted to just because of it being so difficult to see the hazards.  We did a couple summits,  ran around some  other parts of TMT trail, got semi confused because of the darkness making it a lot more difficult to tell where we were on the trail, but otherwise had a pretty fun time and with that much gain in such a short time that’s a decent run. I also think that by running more technical single track in the pitch black it should also increase our technical running and line choice through the more difficult parts of single track, if not it’s still fun. Or we’ll trip, roll an ankle or have other semi stupid thing happen, but I could just as easily trip on a sidewalk crack in the darkness, I’d much rather run in a mountainous setting.  It is also helpful just becoming more comfortable running in the mountains in the middle of the night solo. Because that always freaks me out. I’m just a kid from upstate NY’s suburbia.
Great visibility. My light is a little better than this, but 140 lumens ain't as great as it sounds on tech trail.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Javelina Jundred

4 days in AZ and this is the only picture I took. Lame.

Seeing numerous shooting stars perform my own private firework show over the Superstition Mountains with a full moon - while a pack of coyotes howl less than a mile away is pretty awesome - and something most people won’t ever experience.  Mere words will never justify this sensation; the sights, smells, and euphoric calm of those moments of clarity in a semi delusional state of heat induced exhaustion – my own Thoreau-like Walden existence if only for this brief moment within my life.    I give myself high expectations that I constantly fail to meet at this distance as far as results are concerned – and sometimes forget that I could care less about racing as an entity in and of itself.  Once in a while I need reminding it’s the journey that gets me there that I enjoy more than the race. I honestly could care less about racing against other people, the only thing I am trying to achieve is the internal  goals I set for myself. Next year should be pretty cool. With some friends we are planning some pretty cool multi-day runs, getting the details worked out and schedules aligned will be difficult but we’ll give it a whirl, and whatever I come up on my own will bring me to new places and new experiences. But before I get off on that tangent, here’s how it all went down in the desert of Arizona.

Another 100, another DNF for me @ this distance. Not sure what it is but I cannot seem to figure this distance out. Although I was disappointed of dying a painful heat induced death, there were still many moments that were cool for me.

This was not a  typical 100 mile setting for me (or any distance for that matter) so I’m not real stoked to write about this run. Without a “normal” tree (cactus are not normal to someone currently living in the northwest) in sight I may as well have been running on the moon. I like trees. I like real dirt. I like clouds. And sometimes I really likes me some rain. I would have loved some tall shade trees or rain in Arizona. But nope, I was in a desert, and sure as shit it doesn’t rain in the desert, and not much grows there either. I am not a sunshine person, I like it ok, but I am not one for the heat unless I’m sitting on my ass doing nothing; which doesn’t happen all that much, and if it I'm sitting it won’t be for long. Anyway, here’s my JJ story….

The flight down was pretty chill, got to see the grand canyon from the sky which was really cool, picked up the rental car and made my way to the shady motel I was to spend the next 4 nights. I was not too impressed with Mesa, not a very visually appealing town. A million strip malls, flat, brown, quite a few golf courses that I’m sure require enough water to maintain that could hydrate an entire 3rd world country – per golf course! The weather was decent, warm, but not overly so. I just chilled out Thursday, read some of Tyler Hamilton’s book about the mob like mentality (and Lance IS the don) doping of bike racing, and that’s about it. Friday morning I went and ran a couple miles because my legs haven’t been feeling all that decent, had lunch, went to packet pick up, ate some pizza for dinner, then tried my best to sleep.

Saturday morning rolls around and it’s off to the races. I did not have my head firmly planted in this run for whatever reason. Maybe it was the knee injury I have been trying to deny and fix, or something else was amiss. The prior 2 weeks I was not able to run like I wanted to, and I felt like my fitness was suffering because of it. In mid –August I felt really fit. I would run 10 miles of single track on Tuesday, and easy 6-8 on Wednesday, then run a 26.2 mile training run in 3:15-3:20 for the fun of it on Thursday, and then run another long run on Saturday. But I also know how this running stuff is super mental and was trying to talk myself in to the run. Mentally it’s easy enough to flip a switch, physically you can only do so much.

6 laps plus a shorter lap. Off I go. Run starts in the dark but lights were only needed for about 1.5 miles. The landscape was  completely different than anything I’ve ever run in before. Even eastern WA is nothing like this. And the intensity of the sun as it climbed to its perch in the sky is unlike anything I’ve ever felt. The oppressing heat was ridiculous. By end of lap 2 I was looking for somewhere to duck and cover. Nowhere to hide, just have to run.  I’ve run plenty of warm races, some with triple digits like Ironman Coeur d’Alene in '03 when it hit 105, but this was way worse. CdA has shade. The desert does not. This was like leaving an oven burner on and holding your hand 2” above it. Just brutal.  OK, now that I’m done whining there isn’t much to write about : ) When the sun finally dropped behind the mountains to the west I got a huge emotional lift, and ran pretty steadily to finish lap 4 and 62 miles. And took off on 5 feeling slightly upbeat but I was physically really tired but was hoping I would snap out of it. What’s funny is my parents were at the race (they were on vacation in the area already) and after I saw my mom she said I looked really well at this point. Said my face has good color, etc. But looking back on that now I think it was just the sunburn. I was feeling pretty hollow. I was trying to force anything with nutritional value in my stomach, but to no avail. It just wasn’t working. It either wouldn’t go down or would make its way back up.  And at about mile 67 I sat on the side of the trail and was not at all worried about snakes, scorpions, tarantulas, or anything else that could make me pee my pants as easily as a 3 year old sitting on Santa’s lap. I decided to try to get to the next aid station which was mile 69 or 70. Walked the rest of the way there except for downhills. Finally made it to said aid station and promptly took a nap. Woke up an hour later hoping I would feel better but I was completely exhausted like I have never felt before. I walked/ran, walked and walked some more trying to cover ground as best as I could. But I was just so tired; exhausted. Not sure what the deal was with this complete lack of energy, and it wasn’t even that. It was the “I need to go to bed” tired. I never feel like that - ever! As someone that never slept much for my first 40 years this is a bad time to have this creep up on me, although in hindsight for the past 8 months I probably have had the most consistent sleep I ever had. Scraping shit off the bottom of your shoes (so to speak) will help that.  I ran into a lady at about mile 72 that was a complete mess. She was shivering uncontrollably, barely able to hold herself up, leaning on another runner. I had my run jacket tied around my waist so I put it on her and zipped it up also, just like I do for my 3 year old. She was completely unable to take care of herself. I talked to her pacer as the runner was unable to speak and told them I would send help back from the next aid station which was only a mile ahead. I wish I knew who it was because now I have to buy another jacket. I hope she enjoys it, but it was the right thing to do and as bad as I was she was worse.  I ran (ok, a crazy slow jog as this is not really running anymore but still moving FW but only kinda sorta) to the next aid, talked to them and then ran a couple more 11 minute miles until I crossed the road which I knew was 1.5 miles to the end of the loop. Made it there and I was done. The last 15.5 miles took me 7 hours. But on the bright side my knee was pretty good; there’s always positives if you sort through enough poop.

Drove back to the hotel and slept for about 5 hours, then vowed to never run a 100. Now it’s about 10 days later and I am already figuring out how to better prepare for one and checking the schedule of where I’d like to go and try. I’m not sure what it is about running 100 miles that is the allure for me. I suck at this distance. Anything after mile 70 completely sucks.  I’ve run I don’t know how any marathons and ultras, enough that I’ve lost count but if I had to guess I would say 50, and probably another 35 or more in training. But I am pretty determined to figure this distance out. I really believe that I have the physical capability to run a pretty good one, at least one that would be satisfying to myself, and really that’s all I ask for. I basically have 2 options, either quit this distance, run 50K and 50 milers that I know I can run and can usually guess within 5 minutes how I will finish, or continue to try to conquer my personal “final frontier.” Not really much of a question is it?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Pre-Javelina Jundred

I stole this pic from the web. Somewhere on the JJ100 course...

As I write this I have one week to run. As in one week from this moment I will be somewhere around 10-11 miles in with about 90 miles left to run. I am so looking forward to this run, to getting out of WA for a weekend, to actually getting to do something fun – and of course running 100+ miles in the desert of AZ sounds like a lot of fun to me. I wish it were today though, I think for the most part my knee is better, and my legs want to run. I ended up having to do a 3 week taper just because of knee issues I had before and after the Baker Lake 50K. But considering I only have to run 10 – 11 minutes miles I should be OK. I’m not obsessing over my running so much like I have in the past, but maybe it’s because of all the miles I’ve run in preparation for this upcoming day. Lots of 80-90 mile weeks with a high of 107. Or maybe it's because I have been playing the guitar a lot also, and doing other things besides all of that as well. I know I won’t be at my optimal condition for running a decent 100, but I’m hoping it will still be pretty good. I think you have to keep building on this long stuff to be decent at it - each one is another brick in the foundation. Maybe by the time I get to Zion or Superior Sawtooth or whatever I come up with I will be content with my preparedness, until then I’ll just keep trying to figure this stuff out. But overall I think I'm pretty good.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Baker Lake 50K (IV)

No Words needed.

Ahh good old Baker Lake 50K. This was the first “ultra” I’ve ever run.  The first year I ran it without having run past 15 miles in quite a few years, but figured what the hell I could survive. And I did in a pretty slow time but it was so fun to play on the trails. Every little sound I heard back then -being the newbie I was – scared the crap out of me, whether a  bird flying through the brush, or squirrel in a tree, I thought was a giant bear or cougar getting ready to pounce on me. Now I could care less for the most part after seeing those in past few years, although snakes can still make me come close to the world high jump record if I see them unexpectedly on the trail.  Although everyone laughed when the RD sent us off with a “Don’t feed the bears” warning it’s been in my head ever since thanks to him.

I ran this again in 2009 after just getting back into running after racing bikes for a few years, then in 2010, but  not 2011 because I was in the midst of a downward spiral and was broken in lots of ways besides just running, and then 2012 came and I’ve been running a butt load of miles at times but only raced once so far this year – and it was just a tiny race but the trails were super fun and got a bottle of a wine for winning which a friend of mine enjoyed. Baker lake feels like coming home again, home to why I love running trails, and why I love running in the first place. Yes, I want to run fast, or at least to the best of my ability on that day, and yes, it’s more satisfying to finish toward the pointy end of the pack, but in all honesty I just love being out on the trails, lost in my own thoughts, with a glimpse of Mt. Baker in one eye as the sun reflects off Baker Lake with the other. Serene. Peaceful. The only noises I hear are the my laboring breath, the animals scurrying around me, and my footsteps dancing in and around the leaves and rocks of the beautiful single track as I propel myself forward. A slow time or poor weather would never diminish the peace and gratitude I feel while being able to run in the setting.

So 2012 was my 4th Baker Lake, and the weather was picture perfect. I like to run across the damn as part of the 2 mile warm up I like to do to wake myself up and eek out the stagnation from the drive up north, and to get the chill out of the withering bones I possess. Coming back across the damn Mt. Baker was shown in my own personal postcard setting. Breath “takingingly”beautiful. After all, this is my first Baker as a 40 year old. So I do all the usual pre-race junk, and start to make my way to the line and then I hear the started dude say, “20 seconds.” I thought there were a few minutes, but I’m excited to get to the single track. So off we go, myself, Adam and Todd are pretty much by ourselves. Adam slowly pulls out a gap and disappears and Todd and I start talking, and talking a lot. It makes the time go by quickly, and the next thing I know we see Adam coming back toward us after the turn around and we are just about there. A couple minutes of cruising 7:00 pace and we’re there as well. I fill my bottles and chug a bottle of Nuun I had stashed, Todd says he is taking off because he is already done, and then I’m off. I ran pretty quick for the next 6 miles, and never did see Todd again, but not because I didn’t try, he was just running faster. Adam is long gone. And I am alone on the trail which is quite ok with me. I started trying to do math in my head and was just hoping for a sub 4:30, and figured I was on track for that. It was just such a peaceful run on the way back, the encouragement of the early starters is always welcome when our paths cross,  and it’s nice to see an occasional person now and again just to say hi and see the enjoyment or pain (but will later turn to accomplishment guaranteed) on all the faces of everyone there. Because really, we are all there for different reasons, some run for their own mental clarity, to accomplish a goal, to lose weight, or so they can eat donuts, because they are tired of the road and the rat race road races are becoming, because they like to hike and this is kinda like that, or simply because they don’t know they are supposed to do anything else.  There are a million reasons why people run, but the bottom line is you don’t run 31+ miles unless you love it and the feeling it gives you when you are out there.  I went through the marathon in 3:45 so I figured sub 4:30 was easy enough. I was a little worried at one point as the fatigue started to set in and my ass felt larger on each little rise,  but I always knew I had it. I was still running downhill well, except for my trip and slide into 2nd base, but eventually popped out on the road with 10.5 minutes left to run the 1.5 miles to the finish. Knowing it was a little downhill I felt ok. So I just cruised in and made it with 11 seconds to spare. But thoroughly enjoyed myself once again. Running baker is always a special  - it is perhaps the most perfect 50K in Washington. I can’t wait to run it a 5th time next year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

1+1 + ???

Meep Meep. Remember when cartoons were violent? Miss the good ole days of Looney Tunes.

I've been busy at work and haven't had time to write much. I have all my writing ideas backing up - so eventually I will (hopefully) catch up and be able to write then - I think they're pretty good. Anyway, just a update...

Two good Saturday training runs in a row – a 3:55 50K and then a 1:53 16 mile which I started out running slowly (7:30’s) and then finished with the last 5 or 6 miles around 6:30 pace. Not too bad for an old bastard. Beep Beep. I get to run a race in a few days which will be nice as I haven’t run one in a lot of months, and the Baker Lake 50K is probably my favorite trails of the local variety.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Running and Animals (my take!)

Although I run a lot of miles in the woods and mountains I hate animals. Of the biggest ones I worry about I will write them in order of which ones I fear the most, not necessarily the ones that will most likely sink their teeth (or fangs, claws) into me and also make me crap my pants and scream like my 3 year old daughter going down a slide. My non running friends and / or coworkers think that I am tough or something because I don’t think it’s that big of a deal to run 30 miles after work or 100 miles in the mountains. But I can assure most anyone that I am the biggest pansy in the world when it comes to natures little creatures. Sure, I run trails solo a lot, in the dark, in the afternoon, any time anywhere I will run them with or without someone else and generally it doesn’t bug me too much, but anyone that has ever followed me on single track when I come across a snake (even a cute little baby Gardner snake) and witnessed me jumping 10 feet in the air no matter the amount of miles in my legs can attest to my pansyness.

Bears – I am not too worried about these dudes. I haven’t seen them too much, the closest I have been has been running Tiger Mountain and it was maybe 60 feet away bulldozing its way through the thick bushes and small trees as myself and 2 other guys ran the single track.  I have read enough stories though to make my meager heart skip a beat at any noise I hear. The sentence I just wrote I will be able to write under each animal I write about under this post.

Cougars . Rattlesnakes. Alligators - I’m not sure how to rank these. All of them make me wish I was born with the innate ability to stay indoors and play videogames for hours on end as the soul meaning of my life. But I will just write about them in alphabetical order as they could all make me crap myself quicker than a gallon of Exlax on a 4000 foot downhill run.

Alligators. I’ve only had to worry about these on a single run – Rocky Raccoon in Texas. I still remember checking out the run the day before the race, entering the park and seeing a sign that read “Aliigators Exist in this Park.” All I remember thinking was, “Awesome!” So everytime I ran near water, or mud (which was nearly everywhere since this was a trail race) I ran a little quicker, and a little more quiet. Of course the only thing I saw was an armadillo.  Maybe my quick and quiet running was elusive enough to avoid scary predator known as the alligator.

Cougars. I have seen one of these whilst running before. It might have been 2002 or so. I was running with the old running group above Monroe, WA on some old not used any more logging roads. There was a group of maybe 6 of us and myself and another guy were a little bit ahead on a long climb. As we crested the top I saw one bolt off down another trail. I said to the other dude, “Holy Shit! Did you see that cougar?” And sadly he said he didn’t because he was too busy staring at the ground while running up the big ass hill. I sure saw it though and am just glad I was with others when we came across this thing. Lots of times when running and there is an overhang above the trail, or I hear something big running in the woods near me (near me means I can hear it) I will often crunch my neck up making it shorter and less of a target as I imagine the cougar about to launch itself and sink its teeth into me. And these cats are tough as nails too. While in Yellowstone last year on a backcountry trip some dude showed us cougar crap and it had bones in it explaining how they eat virtually all of their prey, bones and all. Them is some tough sons sa bitches. Although good luck trying to shit out my femur to the stupid cat that wants to eat me. That’s a joke to the non sense of humor person, I know a few of those : )

Rattlesnakes. This is a newer one to me. Although I have run in areas where they exist in the past, I have never truly worried about them too much. But with having to run in Arizona next month, and possibly Zion and Leadville next year the crap is building within me that I may empty into my proverbial pants (or running shorts) someday soon. I still remember running the Capitol Forest 50 miler 2 years ago and seeing a little tiny non threatening snake in the middle of the trail somewhere around 40 something miles in – and I still jumped about 10 feet high. So if I hear a rattle I just hope I can ascertain where it is coming from so when I jump I can do it away from the sound. All I can imagine is that I will have to crap at about mile 80, and I’ll be hovering just off trail, and then all of a sudden I’ll hear a rattle as I squat. My shorts will be around my knees or lower, I won’t be able to gracefully remove myself from this dangerous predators personal space, and it’ll be pissed because I am about to literally crap on its parade. It will sink it’s venomous fangs right into my ass cheek (or worse) and instantly suck what little energy I have left and in my depleted state the toxins will render me paralyzed yet writhing in pain until I expire. Talk about getting caught with your pants down.

I think the if any of them are going to get me though and I have to get bit or eaten or clawed I think I would choose the alligator or cougar. Seriously, how bad ass would it be to go out that way. If it’s gator I’m sure as hell going to rip one of his eyeballs out a la Happy Gilmour, and if it’s a cougar and I am losing I;m at least going to leave a mark somehow on his sorry (but well fed I’m going to surmise) ass even if I have to sink my own teeth into his furry hide.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Is that a zombie? Or a dead dude?

This past Saturday I did another longish run of 55 miles in prep for Javalina. It’s a pretty flat run, only about 2K of elevation over the whole run, the biggest climb is about 300 feet that I do at miles 20 and 30, then a very gradual 3 ½ mile climb starting at about mile 36. It was a warm day also, perfect prep for AZ with the temp being about 90 when I started.  With the warmer weather I started off a little slow, keeping the pace around 8:50 which is ok for a training run, not blazingly fast but adequate nonetheless.  Having to run the kids to sports in the morning from baseball to soccer, and then lunch and then back to moms the run started much later in the day than I wanted, but sometimes I have to get the miles in whenever I can.

So anyway, on to the run. Just chilled our for the first 6 miles to where I can fill the camelback at mile 6. I knew I needed to drink a bunch because I didn’t really top my body off before I started, but no worries right? Right? Wrong. From mile 6 to 21 there is no water and this was probably the warmest of the day besides. I did drink my whole camelback, and everything was feeling good as I constantly had to slow myself down to a reasonable pace. But I didn’t go to the bathroom once so I knew that wasn’t a good sign. Stop at friends house, fill the camelback and continue again. Legs are not feeling the best at this point, but hoping once I get water in my body I’m hoping I recover and legs come back. Ding! Wrong answer. 10 miles later and my brain is foggy, not thinking too straight. Legs feel like shit. Not good. Decide to hang out at friends for about 45 minutes and just suck down insane amounts of water, granted I’ll pee ½ of out but some of it should be absorbed in my salt depleted body.

I start running again and feel pretty decent. It’s about 2 miles and a 300 foot down hill to the trail. I get back to the trail just as dark arrives. I’m running easy 8:00 pace and my legs are coming back, sort of…I see this girl on her bike and she asks me where to get water. I talk to her for a minute and tell her where a store is. I continue running and maybe a mile later she passes me from behind and her blinking tail light disappears in the distance. I am now pretty much in the middle of the woods and it is pitch black, maybe 915 at night. I run about another 1.5 miles and I come up on a bike rider laying face down in a good size pool of blood with legs still entangled in the bike. The same girl I talked to about water was standing maybe 10 feet away on the phone. The dude on the ground was a mess. Smashed face. Broken arm or collarbone at the least. Not a pretty sight. 10 minutes before and I would have came across this by myself. And when doing 50+ mile runs I never run with my phone as I don’t want to give myself an out if the run isn’t going well.  As it was it completely freaked me out to be in the middle of nowhere and come across a prone bloody corpse. I stayed for about a ½ hour until the paramedics arrived and then I was off again to finish the remaining 3 hours of running.

The run ended up sucking, 50 miles in about 8 hours, and then 5 more where I just walk/ran/waddled my scrawny ass home. I wasn’t in the mood to push it as I know it’s hard to recover from being dehydrated and I didn’t want to ruin myself for a longer time than 55 miles normally takes out of me. Still, it was a great learning experience. Having to bring myself back to life after dehydration, still being able to run 7:00 miles 40 miles into a run, managing myself at the end when spent, power walking a couple 14 minutes miles, no stomach issues, etc. I’m really looking forward to Javalina and having a good run, and 100 miles doesn’t seem so daunting anymore after all the training miles I’ve been doing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Still training...

Yea. A good training run. About damn time. I always think I’m not doing much – or maybe I have let downs because I feel like I should be superman every single run and just kill it every time I lace up the shoes. But in reality I am human, and with all of these 80 and 90 mile weeks I’ve run on top of everything else in life I’m bound to not recover with lack of sleep more than I’d like – not always eating the best, etc.

But in a 13 day span I ran a 4:30 50K with a few thousand feet of climbing, not stellar but adequate for a training run. I ran a 3:20 marathon easily just a few days later sandwiching a bunch of 10 and 12 mile runs on trails. And then ran a 53 mile training run after work in under 8:00.  Sometimes I need to give myself more credit because in two weeks I ran about 180 miles and had some very solid days.

I’m still seeing the trainers once a week minimum and working with them and they are keeping me healthy and limber. My weight has been pretty decent hovering in the 165-166 range which is a good ultra running weight for me. I’ve also been doing about 2-3 hours of cross training per week focusing on core and other non running muscles, and of course working on flexibility.

I’m not sure what this will translate to in terms of a 100 mile race, I feel like I should be doing a little more elevation, but I am doing a good amount if I step back and look at things from the outside. I know I am doing the right things though, and have probably the best pacer available for me for the race as well. If it’s 17, 19, or 20 + hours I won’t know until the day of the race. 100’s are so unpredictable but I’m just really enjoying the journey to the starting line.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Somewhere on the Appalachian Trail.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Trail Pic of the week

I was on this trail at one point in my life. This is somewhere in the middle of the Pine to Palm 100. How could one not want to run after staring at this perfect single track?

Thursday, July 19, 2012


from the top of Mt. Pilchuck
Sometimes I think I do stupid things to slow myself down, or maybe stupid things happen to me to force me to slow down. I just finished a 3 week block of some pretty damn good training; weeks of 77, 75, and 80 which was supposed to be 90 but instead I decided to cartwheel down the trail of Mt. Pilchuck so I was forced to take a day off.

I went up with a friend on Saturday, and jammed 51 miles of running in on the Thursday and Friday before in order to have that day free to go up the mountain. It’s a pretty easy hike, 2.7 miles and maybe 2500 feet of elevation gain from the trailhead. Well, the girl I went up with is one of those minimalist trail running shoe people. I am constantly giving her crap about her not wearing real shoes and asking how the hell she could possibly run real trails without real shoes. But she did get the last laugh on that one.

So anyway on the Thursday before I ended up running a 50K, it was maybe 85-86 degrees so a little warm, but not much elevation change so I ran it easy in 4:11. I also learned that I don’t like warm Nuun too much. I used to drink that all the time but when the sun is out and it jostles in the camelbak for too long = gross.  I switched to water at the next chance I had to fill up.

Friday I ran an easy 20, and literally slept around 30 minutes on Thursday night. Sometimes it is just too hard to shut the body off after running for 4 hours or longer. Needless to say my turnover wasn’t the best but the legs really weren’t that bad. I just couldn’t make them move as quickly as I wanted them to go. I only ended up running this in 2:50 which was a little bit of a bummer. I think if I would have just run the 51 miles all together it would have been a little easier to do. Still, all told I ran the 50 miles in about 6:53 (+ 1 mile cool down) which isn’t too bad for training.

So Saturday comes and after rally car driving up to the trailhead and scaring the shit out of my passenger (sorry : ) we hike to the top. After about 4K it is constant snow to the top, after a while of this it did get a little annoying. The views from the top were pretty amazing though. Sure, it’s not a high mountain at only a little over 5300 feet, but considering it is surrounded by sea level the view is still breath taking. Too bad the clouds were hovering at about the snowline as well.

We hung out at the top for about 15 minutes and then started making our way down, slipping and sliding through the snow which is pretty damn fun. I would go about 200 feet at a time and just try to steer myself away from the more scary obstacles like huge rocks and trees until I would get to a point that I was able to slow myself down. It was like trying to steer a couch on wheels down a mountain road. I could kind of steer, but not really, and oftentimes found myself sliding down the mountain on my ass in the snow. Good fun for sure.

Eventually we got out of the snow and made it to real dirt. She wanted to run down the rest of the way, and being an ultranerd how could I say no to that? This is some pretty technical trail though, lots of rocks, ledges, etc. So I’m bombing down the trail as fast as the terrain would allow me, every once in a while I’d wait for her to catch up but it was never long as barefoot girl proved she can run downhill tech trail pretty damn good. And then I catch a little rock, ankle rolls, and boom! I’m on the ground log rolling down the trail. I knew instantly the ankle was done for the day. It hurt like a mother f*#*#!!!! I limped down and eventually it came back a little but still – there was no more running (or walking if I could help it)  the rest of the day.

So I ended up taking a couple extra days off and came back to running on the Tuesday and ran a 10 mile tempo run which went pretty well. I’m on a well deserved easy week so the timing is ok. I think in the last 12 weeks I have done 19 runs that were over 20 miles and averaged about 73 miles per week. Not too bad for someone that was completely and utterly on the wrong track in life only 5 months before. It’s amazing what one can do when surrounded with good people as opposed to shit – but sometimes the wipers just can’t clear the shit from my vision.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Oh Sh!t

It's funny how sometimes you take the ability to run 20 or 30 miles every weekend for granted, and then follow that up with another 10-20 miles the next day. No problem right? That's what we do. And we sandwich it around going out with friends, chasing kids around the playground, mowing the lawn, and everything else people do in life each day. But then one day you are in the middle of a longish training run and it doesn't work out that way. That happened to me this past Saturday.
   So I was supposed to run 50 miles, although it didn't quite turn out that way. It was not even 30, and it completely sucked. I headed out to Duval to run 50, and decided to do a double out and back just so I could get enough liquids. So anyway, I start off nice and easy running 8:30's which generally feels like a walk, nice and easy and the heart rate is barely even elevated. It's a little warm, a little humid but nothing too crazy. I start running and by mile 3 I am already feeling hungry. OK, no big deal, I eat a powerbar as I shuffle along. And drink my Nuun out of my camelbak every so often. I think I'm doing just fine as far as nutrition goes. Whatever, I'm just running relaxed and everything is as easy as it should be for the 1st 12.5 miles. I turn around and continue back down the trail toward my car - just taking a little detour at about mile 16 to stop at a store and get some water and refill my liquid. All is still well. I continue running and pop some clif bloks and continue to drink.
   35 minutes later I am walking. I am trying to figure out what is going on and I cannot. My legs really don't hurt at all. But I feel like all of a sudden I am in survival mode and it happened in the blink of an eye. Fast. i walk for a mile and eat and drink, and slowly start to jog and I just don't have it. If I were on a bike I would say that I lost all my power. I can still run, but it is an embarrasing slow shuffle. Only 2 weeks ago I won a 50K and was running sub 6:00 pace at mile 31. Now it is remarkably flat and I'm barely moving. I eat some more and drink some more, and try to keep running but it is obvious that whatever I did just wans't working for me this day. I eventually recover enough to run the last hour back to the car @ 8:30 pace - but it was ugly and felt worse.
  It's not like I haven't ever had this happen before. But usually it's in a race after running for 9 or 10 hours - not after 2.5 hours of pretty flat terrain at a sedentary pace. I decided to just cut this run short as i know forcing the distance can take a lot out of oneself, and training is not the place to wipe myself out for a couple weeks.
   I got home and jumped on the scale and said "oh shit!" That lies part of my problem. My weight is coming down from running 70-80 miles per week, but there is no way in hello? that I should weigh 164  pounds -not yet anyway - after a run and drinking the 25 minute drive home. So I would guess the root casue to be: A) I just didn't drink enough B) i didn't eat enough in the days before the run.
On the bright side my legs were fine and I ran 20 the next day  @ 7:45 pace which was comfortable and relaxed.
  The moral of the story is yes ultra runner type people can go out and run for a long time fairly comfortably, but we need to make sure the tank is full before we leave. I don't want to have to suffer again like that needlessly, and after all the years I have been running or riding bikes or whatever I should damn well know better by now. I just need to remind myself every so often.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Recovery from Echo Lake was only so-so. I am not running much elevation this year, only a few thousand feet per week as JJ doesn't have all that much. The 50K I ran nearly had as much as the 100 miler - it would sure be nice if I could run the same pace for the hilly 50K as the flatt(ish) 100 miler, but I guess that is not going to happen. And although my recovery wasn't exactly as swift as I would have liked it to be, in retrospect a 50 mile run week with a 23 mile run just below 8:00 pace isn't exactly a recipe for recovery for mere mortals like me but it works. But the 23 was a pretty simple easy run, I could feel the race seep back into the legs at about mile 21 but overall it was a relatively chill little run. I have an epic day planned this Saturday so hopefully that goes pretty well. But I am happy I am still feeling like my fitness is in a good spot, I shed some pounds, and running long once again puts me in a happy zen state.
  To repeat again - I must say that it is sure nice to be "in training" again and have my head completely wrapped around a race, yet still do other things in life to have a balance (as much as you can have balance while running 90 miles in a week, going to work, being a dad, and other little nuances in life), not to mention other social (non running) aspects of life and it's a pretty sweet spot I'm in now.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Echo Lake 50K

It was so nice to have friends drive to a race for a change, more so on the way home so I could sit on my ass and fade in and out of being awake if I needed it. Some of the races in the past were pretty sketchy staying awake after a long race, White River and Waldo were absolutely the worst, the WA DOT could have used me as a test driver as the rumble strips were put to good use in keeping my sorry ass awake after those. Also,  It’s a good way to catch up on a million and one text messages and emails; a good way to pass the time as texts can often turn certain ways to become very entertaining/amusing. Plus it’s always fun to talk about running with your running friends, because really – no one else gives a shit – which is quite ok with me.  And having not raced in 7 months - last year my body just plain sucked as I suffered from IT band crap all year - I had no idea how the body would  behave and was anxious to find out. Sure, I did a lot of mileage in the past couple months, probably averaging over 70 miles per week with the heaviest weeks approaching 90, but most of that carried little elevation change as my utmost goal is a fast 100 @ JJ which is a fairly flat course. So anyway, off to the races for the first time (healthy) in about 18 months.
   We rolled into the Chelan area with tons of daylight to spare, set up some tents, stared at the ski hill and instantly thought back to Waldo which also started out at a ski area (albeit a mountain) but was nonetheless thankful we didn’t start running straight up that like @ Waldo.  Not much really to do after that except pay attention to nutritional needs (donuts – why don’t they have donut flavored gels?) and fluids (water = Nuun). I was good to go. Tried to go to bed at a decent time and read for what felt like forever, but then learned I drank way too much water. Off to the bathroom. What a pain in the ass that is when spending the night in a tent. But the stars were absolutely amazing. I have not seen the stars like that since I ran Waldo in 2010, some events or nights for some reason just hang out in the clearest parts of my memory, and that night did for the pure beauty of the night sky and the simple things in life that we often miss or forget to take in – myself included. It was also the last time (before this race) I showed up at a race not completely stressed out about life and divorce and kids and other stupid crap– but hey, you gotta screw up big time to learn a big lesson. And running is always there for you, and the people that love you, blah, blah, blah. : ) You can watch Oprah for the rest.
  Read 2/3 of a novel, eventually fell asleep, woke up, fell asleep, woke up, fell asleep, noticed it was light out so I just got up and B was already up for the start of the 50 mile. I thought of doing it and could have probably done ok, but I wanted to see where I was and didn’t want to jump in the deep end quite so soon. After that it was hang out and relax, a gentle rain began to fall and then I had to get ready to run. Eat more food, lube up, tie my shoes, run a couple miles to warm up since we climbed a 900+ foot climb from the get go, and then it was time to start.
 I swear the rain stopped as soon as the dude sent us off. We had about ¾ mile on fire road and then it was all single track after that. My goal was to run the first 10K @ 8:00 flat pace since it had 1000 feet of climbing, and somehow I nailed that just by relaxing and running easy up hill, and not banzaing back down. I stayed around 6:10-6:20 pace while the leader was closer to 5:30. I already drank 3 bottles in the first 10K and noticed that he didn’t  even have a bottle – though he picked his up after the first 10K. There was one more guy that was kinda staying close to us and I noticed he wasn’t carrying a bottle either. The weather forecast was 82 and sunny, and with 4 hours of running planned for the day I was going to come prepared. The guy in front would gap me on the down hills about 15-20 seconds per mile, but I would always close up without even exerting much effort. I knew that running without a bottle as the sun came out and the temperature rose would greatly reduce the power available to my 2 running companions as the day wore on. I just tried to run relaxed, and felt like I was more fit (and possibly more experienced) then the other 2. When we got to mile 11 we had some flat terrain for a while and I let the one dude lead and he wanted to run 7’s for a while, and I was fine with that. If solo I would have saved more energy but this is generally  a comfortable enough pace to live with. We did a 7.5 mile loop of the course with a few short climbs @ maybe 7:15 pace which brought us to mile 18 or so. I was just sitting and more worried about myself than the race. I came here to train and see where I was at, if I won then that’s a bonus, if I didn’t -  I didn’t care as long as I learned where I was and got in some race miles. And no, I didn’t say I was going to win the race to Steve from SCRC, that was his spin on stuff to make me look like an arrogant ass in weekly email to the run group. Thanks Steve!
  After a while I decided it was time to test my current fitness level. So on a longer climb I pushed myself just a tiny bit and as the terrain flattened out I dropped the pace to maybe 6:30 for a while to see what the other 2 guys would do. They didn’t respond, I was alone so I just ran my own race for the remainder. At around mile 22 it got really warm on a longer climb as the heat started to suck some life out of me. I dragged ass up this maybe 7-8 minute climb, and then it took maybe another mile or so of sucking (as in sucking air and running slow) before I recovered. I just continued to drink and pop clif bloks and although starting to get tired I was ok considering it was almost 30 degrees warmer than anything I am used to running in. And sunny. There was another climb at about mile 26 that sucked (I passed the marathon at I think 3:44), survived up that (barely) and then got a rhythm going and with 900 feet to drop in the last 2.5 miles ran about 6:00 pace to finish in 4:26. Overall it was an ok day, I knew my legs would be not so good on the parts they weren’t, but I also know my fitness is coming along. This course is probably harder than Baker lake and I was a good chunk of time faster than I ever ran there in definitely warmer temperatures. So hey! That’s a positive. Fitness is coming along, and it’s all just building blocks to AZ for the JJ100. So I’ll just keep building. And I got a free bottle of wine for winning. Ha ha. As always has been the case I give the alcohol away to friends – but it’ll be appreciated at least. I don’t even like the stuff. I have no idea what race is next, I am trying to find one that will fit in a schedule of kids birthdays and travel plans, and whatever else gets  in the way, but until then I will keep adding to the weekly mileage so I can finally run a 100 miler I can be proud of. I don’t have any time predictions for a 100, but I know if I will be satisfied or not once I look at the clock upon crossing the finish line.
   And after that, bigger things await.