Friday, December 11, 2009

TNF San Fran Endurance Challenge Race Recap

I wrote this recap for the TNF race website, so I'll just link you there. I got some good insights and interviews with some of the top men's and women's finishers. Enjoy;

Thursday, December 10, 2009

TNF San Fran Endurance Challenge video

Here's a short and sweet video I put together from some quick pre-race interviews.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Ultracentric 2009

I don't suppose there's a whole lot to say about a race like this, but I'll try to recap it the best that I can. It was a .5 mile pancake flat paved loop and you just run round and round until the 24 hours is up- simple as that. I flew down to this race solo and it was a whirlwind of a trip, but it all went relatively smoothly, so that was great. The Prefontaine 'stache worked wonders, and will stick around for the remainder of the month in celebration of Movember to support men's health.

After getting in to Dallas Friday evening and having dinner with some friends in town there, I had a good night's sleep at the hotel. Then I was up and at it fairly early Saturday and off to the race for a 9am start time. I made many mistakes in my plans for this race, but I guess that's how we learn. After registering for the race and booking my trip and everything I learned that many things I had assumed were not in fact true. Because this had been the national championship race in previous years, I assumed it was again this year (whoops, the nat'l championship got moved to Ohio this year and happened about a month ago). Then a few weeks prior to the race I started hearing many words of warning from friends all over the place who warned me that this was not a good race, poorly run, etc. There are even groups in the Dallas area who were boycotting this race.... little did I know. Oh well, despite this onslaught of new information, I figured I'd be prepared to support myself from my car and how bad could a .5 mile loop possibly be?

So once at the race start, I got a prime parking spot right on the loop and set up the car as my personal aid station with all the food/clothes/hydration I would need for 24 hours. This worked great, although the aid station proper ended up being pretty well stocked throughout and the volunteers were extremely nice and supportive. So the air horn went off at 9am and we were off on the loop. There were a handful of 72 and 48 hour runners already going on the loop, and I recognized Amy Palmiero- Winters running strong and said hi to her- fun to see a familiar face. She is an incredible inspiration too, and seeing her out there trucking along so strong after 24 hours already was awesome. The weather was cool and overcast- perfect. The first loop was over before I knew it, then the first hour was over, and pretty soon the miles and the hours started piling on. In terms of specifics, there isn't much to say. I ran pretty steadily through the day on Saturday, and as night came I still felt pretty good. Somewhere in the night I noticed my lead was about 16 miles and I lost a good deal of motivation to push hard, but I kept trucking along, walking when I needed to and just keeping the loops going. Not having trained on pavement at all, I felt my body getting battered by the hard road, and this was not something I was used to. Another fun aspect of the .5 mile loop was that I was able to run with my phone for some loops when I felt like it, so I got encouraging words from my wife, my brother, and many friends throughout the day and late into the night from some brief phone calls and lots of text messages. The night was cold, but dry and I just kept putting on layers as needed. I brought 3 pairs of shoes along so that I could switch as needed, but ended up staying in my TNF Vozas throughout the entire race- no sock change or shoe change required at all. Sweet ride.

I hoped for a strong second wind when the sun rose around 6:30am, but it just didn't really happen. I kept plugging along, and then with about 1.5 hours to go I picked it back up and ran fairly strong for the remainder. Some friends from the area came out about an hour before the end too, and it was fun to chat with them a bit. I finished just a few minutes before the 24 hour mark and ended up with 115.6565 miles for the win. I had hoped to run significantly farther, but the pavement beat me up more than expected and like I said it was mentally tough to stay motivated without someone nipping at my heels or someone to chase. As soon as the race was over I knew I had to shift gears to "get to my flight" mode. I went straight to the car and closed down my mini aid station, got everything all packed up, put a warm sweatshirt on, threw away all my trash and was ready to roll at about 9:20. There was an incredible brunch spread prepared by the aid station volunteers so I indulged in a delightful plate full of eggs, bacon, sausage, and pancakes. I let the race director know that I had a flight to catch, but the awards dragged on for quite some time unfortunately. All the race participants were extremely friendly, and it was fun to meet some new folks there. After the awards, I was immediately on the road for a stress-filled drive to the airport. Long story short- I got there, returned my car, did a lot of stressful fast walking with a very funny looking pained stride, made my flight, had an uncomfortable 4 hour flight home, drove home, rested for the rest of the day, and slept 12 hours Sunday night. A whirlwind of a trip, but a fun one nonetheless. A few lessons learned- I'll do better research before blindly signing up for races in the future, and I'll be looking for a nice dirt trail course for my next 24 hour excursion. This trail guy just isn't used to so much pavement. Thanks to everyone for the encouragement and support before/after/throughout! I'm excited for some serious calorie replenishment in a few days celebrating Thanksgiving. Happy early Thanksgiving- we all have so many many things to be thankful for!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Headed to the Big D

Well I'm jumping on a plane to Dallas today for a very quick trip. I'm running the Ultracentric 24 Hour race this weekend and it should be interesting. This is a .5 mile paved loop and you just run as many loops as you can for 24 hours. The fun begins Saturday morning at 9am, and ends Sunday at 9am. I've got my bag packed, a brand new pair of TNF Vozas for the outing, and a freshly cut moustache (in celebration of Movember and as my usual Prefontaine inspiration tribute). I'm ready to roll.

If friends come by (I used to live in Dallas), I'll have them Twitter some updates throughout the day, but I'm not promising any live updates. Hopefully a few will happen though- . The race itself unfortunately doesn't provide any updates as far as I'm aware.

Alrighty, have a great weekend and I'm about to get loopy.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wonderland Video

Here's the cinematic triumph from our Wonderland Trail adventure. If you'd like more detail, read on to the post below this. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Wondrous Wonderland, Tribute to Dr. DT

I’ve heard glorious tales from the Wonderland Trail since coming to Seattle, and after climbing Rainier last year, circumnavigating the mountain at some point was an inevitable necessity. The Wonderland Trail is an approximately 93 mile trail that circles Rainier and offers indescribably glorious views pretty much throughout, and rewards you with something like 22,000 feet of climbing in the midst of the loop. So we threw together some quick plans, pulled out some maps, and set out on yet another mountain adventure. Brock Gavery, Miles Ohlrich, and I comprised our small, lean team of 3, and after some exciting car troubles before leaving Seattle, we eventually got on the road down to Rainier.

We headed first straight down to Longmire, which we would be hitting the next day at around the 60 mile mark. After a bit of waffling trying to figure out what to do with our minimal drop bags of food resupplies, bivies, etc., we ended up finding a nice tree in the woods and just tied them up, well out of reach of very short baby bears. We said goodbye to the bags and headed back out of the park for the long drive back up and around to Mowich Lake (about 2.5 hours). After getting a nice relaxing and delicious dinner in our bellies at an inn in the woods, we made it up to Mowich Lake right around nightfall. I recognized the roads approaching the area but couldn’t seem to figure out when I’d been out there before, then eventually realized this was right around the start of my first 50 miler some years ago (the Rainier to Ruston race), so that was a fun memory. At Mowich Lake, we threw up our tents and crashed for a very short nap. After a few hours sleep, we were up and at ‘em at 11:30pm. I found a crumpled train ticket in my pocket and remembered the fun day in the park and on the train with my family in D.C. last weekend and smiled remembering my brother’s 3 year old’s supreme joy as we rode the train. We broke camp, Brock brewed up countless batches of Caffe Vita’s deliciously dark Luna

coffee in the French press as we all gathered our gear and made last minute adjustments. Right at about 1am, we were on the trail cruising along nicely in the cool night. The sky was clear and awash with a sea of stars, and the start of our adventure began under an already glorious backdrop despite not being able to see Rainier just yet.

We got in some solid running miles in the dark, but the majority was fairly slow going as we were all still pretty fatigued after such a short nap. The nighttime always proves difficult mentally, and this section held true, but we pressed on. We had only one short section where we lost the trail in a large drainage basin and stumbled around for a while in the rocks before regaining the trail proper and moving along. We moved steadily and seemed to hold on to our goal pace of 3 miles an hour despite occasional stops, getting water, etc. The sun began to creep up over the mountains around us, the headlamps switched off, and our spirits rose as we soaked in the spectacular mountain backdrop surrounding us. Just as the sun popped out in earnest, we fittingly reached Sunrise Camp and stopped for a short eating break. It was a quick cruise from there down to White River, where we put in a little bonus mileage trying to find the trail, but ended up back on course and moving right along.

On the long climb up to Summerland, Brock was leading our small tribe of 3. With our heads down slogging up the climb, one moment I could see Brock trudging onward just ahead of me and suddenly I saw him turn abruptly and run back at me looking none too calm. A beautiful big black bear was paying us a close visit and wishing us a good morning. He was right on the trail munching some leaves, and boy was he stout. Fortunately he seemed more interested in a vegetarian diet for the day. After making lots of noise (which he didn’t seem to mind at all…), he ended up crossing to the other side of the trail and munching on a tasty new tree. We nervously went ahead right on past him at a now “safe” distance of perhaps 4 feet… I was at the back of the pack now and nervously kept glancing back and talking to the bear as we continued the climb to Summerland. The bear was content with his leaves though, and we made it to the top unscathed. We stopped for a short breather and regrouped. Then onward.

The stretch between Summerland and Indian Bar is one of the more spectacular sections of trail. It’s one of the higher sections of the trail, and the terrain is very open and has the feel of high alpine country (and has plenty of incredible Rainier views of course). There was a short climb out of Indian Bar, and then a really long, cruising section all the way down to Maple Creek where we made up some serious time and had a lot of fun. The trail got a bit rougher shortly after Maple Creek and the lengthy climb up to Mirror Lakes was somewhat mentally defeating after such a fast fun section. We eventually emerged at the top and went by Mirror Lakes with an unfortunately completely cloud-shrouded Rainier hidden somewhere behind. After a short piece of road, we began our last chunk of trail for the day down to Longmire. At this point we knew without a doubt we’d make it to the Lodge in time for dinner, which was a great feeling. The restaurant closed at 8pm, and we were well ahead of schedule, so visions of cold beer and hot food began dominating our thoughts. We were all hurting in different ways and in different places, and all ready for a relaxing break. As we got into Longmire, Miles graciously volunteered to go retrieve our food resupply bags from the woods, and Brock and I headed into Longmire. We all awkwardly took mini-showers in the sink and it felt good to clean up. After layering up with all the clothing we had, we headed into the restaurant for some refueling. Fortunately they allowed us in despite our stench and appearance. With all 3 heads bobbing throughout the meal and darting menacingly close to falling straight into our food from exhaustion, we slowly made our way through many plates of salad, pasta, lamb, bread, soup, cold beer, and blackberry cobbler. After reaching Longmire at about 5pm, after dinner we headed back for the woods and quickly bivied where we landed. We had a luxurious 4-5 hours of sleep and were up again at 12:30am. Packing up was quick and easy, though getting going without endless fresh pots of Vita was not so easy, but we were on the trail again about 1am.

We all tried munching some caffeine gum we had picked up at the gas station the day before, but it tasted pretty awful and didn’t seem to help too much. But we trudged on through the night and the miles clicked away slowly but surely. As we climbed out of the South Puyallup River valley, the sun came up again and our spirits improved quite a bit. This morning/night was considerably colder than the night before so we stayed layered up even a few hours into the morning. A few miles before Golden Lakes, we spotted another big black bear right near the trail, but far enough away that he wasn’t an issue- just fun to look at as he lumbered around the mountains. We met a friendly ranger at Golden Lakes and he assured us it was an easy and fast 6 or so miles down to the Mowich River before the 4 or so mile climb back up to Mowich Lake. With that, Brock led us on a breakneck charge down the mountain to the Mowich River and we blazed into there feeling excited about being so close to completing the loop. We had another quick breather there and then embarked on the climb back up to Mowich Lake. It was slow going, but we emerged back at the Mowich Lake Campground not too much later, and we were done. One incredible adventure on the Wonderland Trail, done in about 36 hours with a solid 7 or so hour break in Longmire included.

We couldn’t have asked for more glorious and perfect weather this weekend, and this is a truly pristine and incredible classic Pacific NW adventure trail- a definite must-do for anyone even remotely interested in it. Being in such a vast beautiful outdoor playground makes me feel small, humbled, and grateful for all that we have and the many blessings we take for granted each day. Brock and I had been talking about a Wonderland run for a while, and after the untimely and unfortunate death of ultrarunning legend Dr. Dave Terry last week, this gave us the impetus to head out for a tribute run. Brock ran the Wonderland with DT several years ago, and his encouraging words and motivation kept Brock going then. Although I never had the chance to officially meet DT, I have heard countless great stories about him over the years, and his impact on the sport of ultrarunning will long be remembered. This was an incredible adventure and it was a pleasure to honor Dave Terry in our own small way out on some glorious singletrack where he will be long be remembered. Rest in peace Dr. Dave- you will be missed.

...More pics/video to come.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Busy, busy, off to Rainier

My apologies for my lack of blogging of late- it's been a busy few weeks since Cascade Crest. I'll post more soon (next week), but the brief summary is that I attempted the Plain 100 2 weeks ago, then flew out to D.C. for the North Face Endurance Challenge. I had an amazing time out there running the half-marathon with my big brother. Today I'm headed down to Rainier for another fun trek. My buddy Brock and I are running/speed hiking the Wonderland Trail to circumnavigate the mountain this weekend. It's about 95 miles and should be absolutely spectacular and amazing. I'll take plenty of photos and video for a fun feature presentation documenting the event, so check back next week for sure. Happy trails to all!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

3rd Time’s the Charm

This past weekend’s Cascade Crest 100 was a fantastic adventure and a weekend full of classic, beautiful Pac NW running in the Cascades. A huge thank you to Charlie Crissman and the army of amazing volunteers that worked incalculable hours putting on a flawless jaunt through the mountains for all of us crazies out there on the course.

Well, I went into this race feeling pretty good and with high expectations of a strong finish, hoping my 3rd time out here would indeed be the charm. I’d say I succeeded in that regard on all counts. Sure, I didn’t run quite the time I was hoping for, but I had a wonderful time out there, saw some spectacular scenery, and couldn’t have asked for more. In ultrarunning, regardless of your preparation, when race day comes, you never know for sure what you’re going to get. Throughout the race, I felt generally ok all day long, but never reached the level of feeling great and really cruising strong. I kept the Prefontaine spirit alive once again, shaving a nice solid mustache the morning of the race. Reactions were mixed as always- ranging from friends who loved it, to strangers who were a little uneasy, to my wife who is definitely not a fan.

After catching up with some friends at the starting area on race morning, the gun went off right at 10am. I felt good, and couldn’t hold down Pre’s spirit, so I took off immediately at an unreasonable pace. I didn’t look back, so I’m not actually sure how fast I was going relative to everyone else, but it felt fast, it felt good, and I owed it to Pre. (I definitely got many comments post-race wondering if I’d gotten stung by a bee at the start or something though.) I heard foot steps behind me right around mile 3, and was really surprised to turn and see Phil Shaw beside me. This was his 7th time to run this course and he has always been known to run very conservatively (aka, smart) the first half of the course, and then steadily pick people off as he cruised the last half. So seeing him going this fast this early was definitely a big surprise. We had a nice chat for a while going up Goat Peak, but he soon pulled away and that we be the last I’d see of him! Over the next sections, I met a few new folks, and also caught up with friend Rod Bien a bit, who ran a super strong race as well. Then I ran alone for the rest of the day, which actually suits me just fine. The weather was pretty ideal- overcast and cool, but not really rainy. Not being able to see the spectacular views made for less distractions too I suppose. However, my biggest mental distraction presented itself rather early on and didn’t cease until nightfall, and that was the wild mountain blueberries. They were everywhere, and I had to force myself not to just sit down in any given patch of berries and take a lengthy break of gobbling them down. I stayed strong though and managed to avoid the constant temptation. With everyone else running so fast, I came through Tacoma Pass a good bit ahead of schedule so I managed to miss my crew there, which was just fine, but I did miss giving my wife a kiss. I loaded up on food at the aid station and was off again. I just kept going fairly steadily, was happy to see my wife and crew at Stampede Pass, then moved on. Some of the aid stations seemed much farther apart during these sections than I remembered, but I eventually reached them. I was also picturing one upcoming aid station that I could vividly remember for many miles, but it never came. I’m not sure what race the aid station I was picturing was from, but it certainly wasn’t this one. I reloaded again at Olallie, was tempted by Scott McCoubrey and the SRC’s pirogues, then pushed on to explore the new reroute section. I was a bit apprehensive, knowing that this was exactly where I got so lost 2 years ago, but was sure it would be overly well marked since it was a totally new section. I was definitely correct on that. It was incredibly well marked, and it was a super fun new section. I love the cruising section right out of Olallie, and then we turned up and over to Snoqualmie Pass, where we then turned down a ski run that made for a nice gnarly steep descent down to the forest. This was followed by a short road section in to Hyak, where I could see the Christmas lights glowing. The reroute was really fun and I hope it sticks around. I know the section through the tunnel is much easier, but the miles of dark tunnel really creep me out whenever I go through it, so I was a big fan of the change.

It was great, as always to reach Hyak and see my wife, pacer, and friends. It was also really nice to finally reach Hyak with it still being light outside. After a shoe change, eating a lot, my first of many coffees to come in the night, grabbing my hydration pack, and BD poles, I was off on the road with Carl. Carl was raring to go and felt good. Brock joined us for the first stretch of road, jogging backwards and pumping us up bigtime as I walked briskly and stuffed sandwiches and cookies in my face. Once I was done eating, Brock headed back to Hyak and Carl and I settled into a nice quick pace cruising through the road section. The next dirt road climb up and down was fairly uneventful. My poles gave me great power and a nice partial rest to my legs on the long climb, and then the trip down was pretty quick. We stocked back up at the next aid station, and entered into the “Trail from Hell.” I actually really like this section, and we got to the other end at Mineral Creek eventually. Carl had a tough tumble and hurt his ankle pretty bad, but pushed on strong. We then began the long climb out of Mineral Creek, and soon someone (not sure who) ran by us going up the hill- really impressive push. We saw Kirsten and Carl’s girlfriend one more quick time after a short bit, then settled in for the long climb up to No Name. No Name was hopping as usual and they had an incredible system set up. They had a menu posted a ways out with a walkie talkie attached to it. You just radioed in whatever you wanted, and they had a delicious grilled ham and cheese ready to roll for me when we arrived. Awesome. We were pretty quick there, saw a few folks, then carried on to the cardiac needles. There are definitely some significant climbs in this section but it overall wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered it. Carl motivated me by yelling “yop” several times at full force a la Dead Poets Society. I was amazed at how quickly we arrived at Thorpe Mt. With that aid station, you reach the aid station, then have to do a short up and back to the top of Thorpe. Carl and I both dropped our hydration packs while we did the out and back, which was a really nice short breather. Then we were off again, and I assured Carl it was all downhill basically from here (that’s how I remembered it…). Well of course between Thorpe and French Cabin we still found a couple fairly significant climbs, but soon enough the sun was rising and we were coming into French Cabin. Tim Stroh cruised past us like a gazelle and looked awesome. I ate quickly at this station, had some of the best bacon of my life, and we were back on our way. One more teeny climb, and we were for real on our way mostly downhill to the end (this time I was actually right, though Carl was rightfully reluctant to believe me). I love those last 12 miles and we smoked them pretty hard, which felt great. The views coming down were great, and before we knew it we rolled into Silver Creek. I warned Carl that I’d just be dropping my poles, my pack, my jacket, and then I just wanted to cruise really quick. I think he underestimated my quickness in the aid station though, as I was taking off down the trail while he was still trying to suck down some Mt. Dew. It didn’t take him long to catch me though. After getting lost on this last section also 2 years ago, with the course so well marked this year, it was very easy to stay on track and kind of fun to be on some more new territory for me this year these last miles. Once we hit the pavement, our legs weren’t too happy with how they felt, but we bounced back and cruised on strong to the end. 21:47 and good for 8th place this year. What a day. I was beat. Carl was beat. Kirsten was beat. But we were all happy. And I was so hopped up on caffeine I was certain I wouldn’t sleep for a week.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Time to bang out another 100

Well, the time has come once again for another 100 miler. Tomorrow is the Cascade Crest 100- definitely one of my favorite races out there. The scenery is absolutely breathtakingly amazing, the course really challenging and fun, the volunteers and race organization, etc. is fantastic. This will be my 3rd run in as many years at Cascade Crest, and I'm really hoping the 3rd time's the charm. My first year I ran a really smart first half, and found myself with a healthy lead around mile 45. Then I ended up getting really lost in the mountains due to a mismarked turn, ended up spending about 45 minutes- 1 hour off course, and then once I finally got back on, I had to spend well over an hour in our car at the next aid station recovering from mild hypothermia. Fortunately Kirsten (my wife), eventually kicked me out of the car and made me keep going. My buddy Brock and I powered through eventually to the end and I ultimately managed to finish 7th.

Then last year I probably was a bit over-ambitious even toeing the starting line so soon after my CO Trail record attempt, but I love the course so much I just couldn't stay away. After severe cases of trench foot in both feet, my feet still weren't recovered for the race, and though I felt good for a while, the crippling pain in my feet caused me to call it a day at mile 80 at No Name Ridge. Again, my buddy Brock powered through with me from Hyak, and it was a tough call to stop, but also surprisingly easy given the circumstances.

So, enter this year. 3rd time's the charm, right? Haha, I hope so. I am just hoping to go out, run the very best I can, have a super fun time out there, and enjoy an amazing jaunt through the beautiful Cascades. This year Brock is battling injury, so he'll be out there supporting and cheering folks on (and even joining another friend for a 20 mile section), but another buddy of mine is flying in tonight from St. Louis to pace me from Hyak (the last 46 miles or so). Carl is a friend I met several years ago while doing the 51 marathons in 50 days adventure. Carl was incredibly supportive during that journey and ran a handful of the marathons with me. After joining me in Omaha (where he's from) for the marathon, he then wanted to attempt his first back to back double with me, so flew out again a little later and met up with us again. He cruised strong with me in Delaware and New Jersey, and it was awesome having his company and smiling face. He and his girlfriend Ashlee are flying in tonight, and Ashlee is going to join Kirsten as faithful crew support during the race. This'll be Carl's longest run ever, but I'm confident in him. He's been training really hard, doing lots of trail work, and longer mileage training runs. My slow poke night time pace should be a cake-walk for him!

Alrighty, well best of luck to everyone out there tomorrow, and above all enjoy the journey and have fun in the mountains! Can't wait to see everyone smiling at the finish line in Easton Sunday morning.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Hardrock Video

Here's a quick video recap of my Hardrock race; big thanks to Kirsten and Kevin for their master video/photo skills! There's a longer written recap in the post below.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hardrock Heaven

I’ve been focused on Hardrock and training specifically for it ever since I got the wonderful surprise that I made it in back in February. All these months of crazy miles, mountain climbing, very little sleep, etc. have been a whirlwind, but it’s been so fun having a singular focus. Now Hardrock is over and I’ve had a few days to reflect, and I can say without hesitation that Hardrock was everything I’d hoped it would be and more, and I literally cannot wait to be back again. The bug has bitten and I like the venom.

There’s something about the CO mountains that draws me in and makes me feel at home. I can’t put my finger on what exactly it is, but I think it’s everything all rolled into one- the thin air, the spectacular wildflowers, the gorgeous high tundra flora and fauna, the bear tracks, the glorious untouched beauty of God’s creation- maybe it really does just feel like I’m about as close to heaven as I can get here. So that draw to the mountains continues, perhaps stronger than ever after another amazing few weeks in the San Juans. After starting my journey right off the bat finishing up the last 75 miles of the CO Trail (Molas Pass to Durango), I rested well for about 5 days in Durango and Silverton with just a few short mountain runs thrown in. In retrospect, doing those miles certainly wasn’t the smartest thing to do the week of Hardrock, the hardest 100 mile race on the planet, but it was nonetheless what I needed to do. Finishing what I started put my mind at ease and made me fully at peace going into Hardrock.

I’ll spare the boring details of buildup to the race and just give a quick play by play. Wednesday- picked up friend and teammate Diane Van Deren (awesome NY Times cover article) in Durango, headed to Silverton. Registered, felt the race magic begin to build. Got the news my pacer bailed on me and wasn’t coming after all. Began to put out feelers in every direction for new pacer. Met Kevin from The North Face, he was awesome and totally on board to help Kirsten crew- sweet! Back to Durango to pick up Kirsten. Flight delayed by 3 hours, picked her up at 1:30AM. Slept. Back to Silverton for pre-race briefing at noon. The magic builds. Delicious dinner, gathering all my gear, resigned to having no pacer, ready to roll for my first HR100!

Friday, July 10 – I woke early, headed down to San Juan Grille for an amazing banana pancake breakfast and much coffee. (I’d been off caffeine for about a week to prep for HR, and that juice tasted so good.) Relaxed, checked in for race, and I was on the starting line before I knew it. Great to see teammates Diane and Helen Cospolich and wish everyone the best. Then we were off into the mountains. The first climb began promptly and I felt good, but not great. The get up and go I’d hoped for just wasn’t in my legs today and I knew it early on. This was I knew thanks to my CO Trail jaunt, and an unfortunate realization on the first climb. However, it also made the rest of the race perhaps even more fun. I was just going to go as fast as I could go and enjoy this time to the utmost. And enjoy it I did. Wow, what a day. I ran with Diana Finkel for a short time following the Cunningham Gulch aid station, but she pulled away and I would never see her again as she embarked on a tremendous race. I ran with a few other folks here and there, but for the most part was alone. It took me a while to get accustomed to the markers on the course, especially when the course would jut off what seemed to be a perfectly fine trail into the great unknown up and over the side of a mountain with no visible trail. I literally laughed out loud more times than I can remember as the trail twisted and turned through the San Juans. I got lost a few brief times between here and Sherman, but eventually got myself into there. On the descent into Sherman, Andy Jones-Wilkins passed me looking fresh as a daisy coming off his great WS100 run. He, too, went on to a stellar run here at HR. I fueled up well at Sherman and was on my way up and out. As I climbed, I looked at the time and realized there was a very real possibility of the clockwork afternoon thunderstorms coming in as I went up and over the biggest climb of the course (Handies Peak at over 14,000 ft). Indeed, as I climbed higher I saw the black clouds coming in, and the rain began. I slipped on my rain jacket, and was thankful to have it as the pouring rain quickly began large hail. I thought to myself, “this is just plain foolish” many times as I went up and over the bald peak of Handies, and was extremely grateful to be sprinting down the other side when I got there. I took a tumble on this descent and drew some nice blood from my hand, but nothing major. Soon, I came into Grouse Gulch. I ate, got bandaged up, and headed out. They asked if I had a pacer. My response- “nope, I’m flying solo this time!” The climb up Engineer’s was really nice and felt great. Coming out of the Engineer aid station, the descent through the canyon cliffs was breathtaking, spectacular, and maybe even a little scary at times.

I made it in to Ouray just as dark was coming in, and was met with a great surprise! Kirsten and Kevin had connected with Bruce here, and Bruce was game to pace me through the night. He was first on the waiting list to get in, and was really bummed not to be in the race, but he graciously stepped in the join me for the night section. Though I was mentally prepared for cruising through the night solo, it was a really great surprise to have Bruce’s company. We kept a nice steady pace up and over Virginius pass (which was definitely gnarly), then cruised down into Telluride. There were some very confused drunken townfolk on the street as we ran through town around 2am. I saw my amazing crew of Kirsten and Kevin one last time, refueled, and was soon back out for the next climb. As we climbed, I told Bruce that I didn’t think I had ever said this at mile 73 of a 100 miler before, but mentally I really felt like I was on the home stretch now. So, up we went on a climb that truly seemed to never end, but it eventually did of course, and we began scrambling down and into Chapman Gulch. I had an amazing breakfast burrito here, and then we were off as the sun was just coming up. The sun gave me new life and I started clicking away at a steady strong pace up and out of there. I looked back and saw that Bruce was no longer in sight and was a little uncertain how to proceed. We had fortunately talked about it though, and I figured it was alright for me to just keep going at my pace. So onward I went up and over Grant Swamp Pass. This seemingly vertical scree scramble to the top was a heart-stopping climb, but amazing as usual. Down into the lush valley below, and soon I was in at KT aid station. I could feel Roch Horton chasing me down and had been seeing his headlight right behind me since Telluride. With only 11 miles to go, I put my head down and powered through. As I got to the final pitch of the last climb, I noticed Ricky Denesik in front of me, which motivated me to keep my pace up and keep pushing on. I passed Ricky at the top, and then pushed on into Putnam. A few quick cookies and some Coke, and I was headed down for the final stretch. These last miles were a bit surreal, and I just kept cruising down the valley.

Crossing the final river, and then doing the last 2 or so mile traverse in to Silverton, I felt like I was floating. It’s probably safe to say that these were my fastest miles of the day. Coming in the final stretch down the streets of Silverton brought the end of a very long, spectacular journey to a very special finish. I kissed the rock, kissed my wife, and couldn’t have felt more at home. 31:03, not bad for my first trot out on the Hardrock course. I never had a low throughout the entire time, other than feeling a bit sleepy at night. It was a truly joy-filled, fun, and incredible experience, and I cannot wait to be back. I saw countless marmots throughout the day. They scurried about the mountain in and out of their holes, over and around the rocks, seemingly enjoying the wildflowers and sunshine. They were incredibly cute and just seemed to be so happy. I caught their spirit out there I think, and felt like a happy little marmot scurrying around through the mountains for a day. There are never any guarantees, but I look forward to being back at Hardrock sometime soon for another amazing time. Thank you thank you to Kirsten (my wife), Kevin for crewing, Bruce for jumping in to pace me, Dale and all the amazing Hardrock volunteers, and to everybody that was following along live and cheering throughout the day! See you on the trails soon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Hardrock Time

Well, the time has come! I'm pacer-less but am ok with that at this point and am feeling mentally and physically totally ready to roll. I've got an awesome crew and I know I'll be well taken care of. Follow live online tomorrow here;

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hardrock is a-coming

Since the 20th Century 100k, I’ve been tapering quite a bit for Hardrock. I was tempted last week into some fun Carkeek loops with friend Jonathan, but I don’t think I did too many. I was having so much fun though, I honestly lost count of my loops and have no idea how far I went. Ah well.

This weekend I went out and cheered at the inaugural RNR Seattle event. My wife did the half-marathon after getting a friend’s spot the day before (funny, last minute race entries run in the family I guess…), so I was her transportation and cheering section. She ran a great race and it was fun to be out there for the event and kind of be on the other side of things (i.e., not running). I bumped into multiple folks that wondered why I wasn’t running, but I was more than happy to skip the road and go home for some nice afternoon trail running.

I was also following along (along with the rest of the ultrarunning world apparently) with the WS100 updates and cheering everybody on from Seattle. It was an awesome day, and super fun to follow the updates. Congratulations to all who toed the starting line and laid it all out there this weekend. Congratulations especially to Hal and Anita who ran spectacular races! Also big congrats to friends Kobaraki from Japan, Krissy Moehl, Nikki Kimball, Sean Meissner, JB Benna, and others that I’m sure I’m forgetting. Congrats to teammates Leigh Schmitt and Mike Wardian too. Like I said, thanks to all of you for running great and giving me some fun entertainment all day Saturday!

I’m headed out to Durango, CO this Thursday to get acclimated to the CO elevation and get tuned up for Hardrock next week! I decided to start my CO trip by finishing something I started last year. You may recall that I made a speed record attempt on the CO Trail last summer and we ended up having to throw in the towel at Molas Pass (only about 70 miles from the end). Well, I’m going back. Not for a speed record attempt or anything- but just to finish what I started. On Thursday after I fly in to Durango, I’m going to hitchhike out to Molas Pass, and have a leisurely hike/run from there down to Durango over the next 2-3 days. I’m super excited to be back out in CO and back on the CO Trail, and I feel like I have unfinished business with that trail. Finishing those last miles will give me great satisfaction and put my mind even more at ease going into Hardrock. I know a 70 mile jaunt through the San Juans the week before the toughest 100 miler in the country isn’t most peoples’ idea of a “taper,” but this is what I’ve got to do, and I think it’ll all work out.

I’m packing up now and will report back after I finish my CO Trail adventure! Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

20th Century 100k and Beyond

I’ve definitely begun tapering for Hardrock at this point, but I guess tapering is all relative. After maxing at about a 250 mile week, I was itching for another long run, so I decided a few days prior to the race to do the 20th Century 100k last week. Because this is a very easy course as far as 100k trail races go, I figured it would be a great way to get in a solid long run mileage-wise without a ton of time on my feet (the best of both worlds!). I know hindsight’s 20/20, but I’m happy to say that my foresight for once matches my hindsight in this situation, so I’m really happy it all worked out well.

It’s kind of fun to sign up for a race at the last minute and to go into it with the total mindset of it being a training run. I felt zero pressure and had a really fun time all day long. Race day itself began with beautiful weather and nice cool temps. I rode out to the start with my friend Lindsay and we were definitely running a bit late. We parked at the finish in Carnation, WA and were fortunate enough to barely catch one of the RD’s leaving the parking lot as we arrived, so we bummed a ride to the start out in Easton, WA with him. Whew! The course itself is pretty straightforward. There’s an old rails to trails railroad grade (the John Wayne trail) that runs roughly East/West from somewhere around North Bend to somewhere else pretty far away (Vantage maybe?). Anyway, it goes a long way and it’s a very moderate grade, and basically feels like you’re running on pancake flat ground the whole time. The course essentially follows that from Easton west to Carnation. However, due to a tunnel closure through Snoqualmie Pass, there was a fortuitous reroute on the course this year up and around Snoqualmie Pass. This meant an additional 1,000 or so feet of climbing and a section of some of my favorite single track trail from the Cascade Crest 100 course. This section came somewhere around the 15-20 mile mark if I remember correctly, and was a very welcome change after a quick warmup on the railroad grade. I wasn’t sure who was registered for the race, but knew it was a fairly small crowd and sort of expected to be running alone for most of the day. However, I was pleasantly surprised to have company right from the start. A guy I hadn’t meant before (Shawn Bussert) hung right with me for quite a while. It was fun having him there to push the pace a bit and not let me slack off, and it was fun chatting with him a bit here and there too. He’s new to ultrarunning, and a great runner already, and this was his first go at the 100k distance. Needless to say, he ran a great race. We came into the 50k aid station (and halfway mark) right together at right about 4:30, and then pressed on down the railroad grade. Not too much to report other than I was really tempted to go off on many side trips to mix it up a bit (specifically, I wanted to turn off on the McClellan Butte trail for some nice single track and a fun summit, I wanted to join the folks we saw climbing for a quick up and down, I wanted to turn off and run a quick time up and down Mt. Si…), but I abstained and stayed on course. My pace stayed pretty steady and by mile 40 or so I was running alone and would be for the rest of the day. The last 6 or 8 miles seemed super long, but the finish line eventually came into sight, and a really fun 100k came to an end. The race directors (Michael Cartwright and Scott Krell) spare no effort in putting on a race and truly put on a tremendous event. The course was incredibly thoroughly marked, the aid stations well stocked, the volunteers amazing, the finish line extravaganza unmatched. I feasted on a fully loaded hot dog, and Scott’s wife made me a fresh strong cup of coffee (with the beans ground right there!). I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a race with delicious on demand espresso drinks available post-race- wow! This was a super fun day out on the trails, and I’m really glad I made the call to go out and do this one. A huge thanks to all the volunteers and to Michael and Scott!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mt. Adams Recap

This weekend’s adventure proved to be a particularly spectacular one. Often one has a few niceties or worldly luxuries sprinkled in with an arduous trek like this. For example, on an ultra-run, you might revel in the momentary solace of some peanut M&M’s at an aid station or a hot cheeseburger that your crew brings you. Or maybe you’re on a weekend camping trip with friends and you suffer through the extra pounds of a few bottles of wine in your pack for enjoying a few glasses around the campfire that night... Let me just say that this excursion involved no such luxuries of any sort. Though the views were spectacular and the conditions ideal, this was a hard push in its most simplest form.

We headed out of Seattle late evening on Friday, opting to cram 4 fairly good sized men with a ton of gear into one very small car. Unable to move in the back seat, our adventure began by mistakenly getting on the express lanes and being forced north out of downtown (Mt. Adams is south…). We eventually got turned around and headed back south toward Portland. The trip was long and cramped, but the Pearl Jam was good. After about 5 hours we got in the vicinity of Mt Adams. Since our trip began in the wrong direction, it was only fitting that it ended with a missed turn and plenty of confusion amongst 4 very tired guys arguing over a map. After much back and forth, hunting for the right road, mistaken bear sightings, etc. we eventually found ourselves on the proper road for the summit route trail head. We had heard the snow level was so low that we’d have to stop about 3 miles short of the trailhead. The 2 ultrarunners in the car loved the idea of 6 bonus miles, while the 2 climbers were not so excited. The reality ended up being that we parked a good 5 miles short of the normal trailhead, making for a sweet 10 mile bonus.

We parked around 1 or 2am and decided to lay down for an hour or so to regroup. We just lay under the stars in the woods for about an hour, but no one actually slept. Then we were back up around 3 to get packed up and ready to roll. Brock cooked up some fresh Caffe Vita coffee to get us going (ok, our one luxury of the trip), and we shared some Red Bulls for an extra boost out of the gates. We hiked up the snowed in road all geared up and the first 5 or so miles to the trailhead proper went by relatively quickly by headlamp. The sun was up then and we made a few adjustments before heading up. Quigley, Dan, and Brock all put on their skis/skins, but I had no such gear (oops) and just bootpacked it up. It was a challenge keeping up with them to say the least, but it all worked out. The climb was long, fun, and tough, and eventually we got up to the headwall. There were a surprising number of folks out there, but it was by no means crowded. Up the headwall we went and onto the false summit. Dan was having a little altitude issue and I was moving slow with all the extra weight, so Quigley and Brock got a good bit ahead of us. They headed up for the short extra shot up to the true summit. As Dan and I sat on the false summit we knew the view would be the same from up there and decided our best bet was just to hang there and save what was left of our legs for the trip down. Eventually Brock and Quigley reappeared and we all strapped on our skis and took off down the headwall in picture perfect snow. The trip down was incredible and we managed to stay on course (fortunately) and eventually found ourselves skiing back down the snowed in road. We soon took off our skis though and hiked in the rest of the way. I was tired of banging my calves on my skis hanging too low off my ill-equipped pack though and opted to just carry my skis, etc. the rest of the way. We were a motley, haggard crew arriving back at the car, but we made it and it felt great. We loaded all the gear back in, wedged our bodies back into the sardine can, and headed back to Seattle. Again, the trip was long and had few stops and no luxuries, but the Pearl Jam was good and we eventually got back to town late on Saturday night. Our creaky bodies emerged from the car and all the suffering of the day was well worth it for a picture perfect blue bird Pac NW day on the mountain.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mt. Adams

This evening I'm headed out for an assault on Mt. Adams with a few friends. It's the 2nd highest mountain in Washington (behind Rainier) at 12,281 ft, and the conditions should be spectacular. We'll get down there and start our push around midnight tonight with a summit hopefully sometime around sunrise. Should be ideal Hardrock training and a super fun time!

Hope everyone is able to get outside and enjoy the weather this weekend!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Redmond Watershed 12 Hour Recap

Well, there's honestly not a ton to recap from a loop race I guess. The loop doesn't change much over the course of the day- just the way your body feels. I finally put together a strong run on race day though, and it felt amazing and was a great confidence booster for Hardrock.

I shaved myself a Prefontaine-esque mustache prior to the race and went off the starting line accordingly (hard and fast). I just kept plowing on for quite a while with a marathon split right around 3:20 and 50k right around 4 hours. I kept eating and drinking consistently and really stayed on top of my calorie intake, which definitely helped me stay fairly steady throughout the day. Around 6-7 hours I hit a bit of a low point, stopped at the aid station to change socks, but kept on moving, albeit not quite so fast. My pacer unfortunately didn't show up, so that was a bit mentally tough. However, then my wife Kirsten showed up, and she volunteered to come out for some loops with me as she saw I was in a low point. I am one lucky lucky man. Brian Morrison caught me right around the 7 hour mark and passed me pretty easily. I tried to stay with him, but it just wasn't happening right then. I lost sight of him and kept on moving. When Kirsten showed up, my 2nd wind started to kick in, and we started cranking out loops at a quicker pace again. She pushed through 4 loops with me and kept me focused and on pace. We caught Brian again right around the 9 hour mark, and I was feeling strong so pushed on ahead. After 13 big loops, I had about 1:30 left in the race and opted to go ahead and shift to running the short loop (.7 miles) for the rest of the race. That was a really good choice, as it was much easier to stay focused and keep my spirits up. Fortunately another friend Jonathan had arrived at the race then too after putting in a lot of miles on Cougar/Squak Mts. earlier in the day. He gamely jumped in to pace me in for the rest of the race. He pushed me hard and we were able to hammer out 14 more little loops- just enough to break the course record by .7 miles. Wow, talk about close! It felt amazing and was a really great day.

A huge thank you to all the volunteers and sponsors of the race- I am always amazed at all the work that goes into putting on an event like this, and this is definitely a first class race. Great job to all the other runners out there too and congratulations on whatever you achieved- I talked to many folks who ran their first ultra, first 50 miler, etc., etc. Pushing your own limits is so awesome to see, so congrats to all and see you back on the trails again somewhere soon!

Oh, I also put together a very rough simple video from the race- see it below. Not much photo/video from the race seeing as how my wife ended up being one of my pacers extraordinaire! You never know what a day will bring.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Ready to Run in Circles

Tomorrow is the Redmond Watershed Preserve 12 Hour race, and I'm locked, loaded, and ready to roll! If you're not familiar with a 12 hour race format, basically the deal is you just run as far as you can on a fairly short loop; whoever runs the farthest wins. I've run this race twice before, and am excited to go back tomorrow. It's extremely well organized and supported, and just a lot of fun to be a part of. I'm feeling great, and excited to charge hard all day long. I'll be sure to post an update after the race. Oh, and I am still working on editing my China video footage, but I'll have a finished video posted someday soon I promise! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Carkeek Loop Fiesta on Tax Day

This morning (early this morning) my training buddy Brock and I took to the trails for our weekly assault on big miles before the workday starts. It was a lot of fun as usual and I took some video to give YouTube my first try. Hope you like the short video (and hope you all got your taxes sent in!) : )

Monday, March 30, 2009

Dizzy Daze 100k- swimming in the rain!

After a gorgeous sunny day here in Seattle yesterday (Sunday), I nearly forgot about the all day torrential downpour of Saturday. Nonetheless, I plowed through the rain around Green Lake on Saturday for a full day of wet loops. As far as I can remember, this was actually my first official 100k distance race, so consequently it was a PR for me I suppose.

There isn't really much to say about a 3.2 mile loop that one runs around all day long, but it was actually quite fun despite the rain. I took off from the start just hoping to push myself as hard as I could. After 10 loops (the end of the 50k race which was actually 32 miles), I realized I had won the 50k, which felt great and definitely buoyed my spirits. My time for the first 50k was 3:59, and I just kept pushing round and round for the remaining 9 loops and an out and back. My wife Kirsten came out and brought me a steaming cup of joe that warmed me up a lot and tasted great, and my training buddy Brock came out and paced me for some loops in the latter part of the race as well. All in all, a great day, and I finished the 100k in 8:49. Granted I did win the 100k, but in the spirit of full disclosure I must also say that I was the only finisher as well. The weather was just so awful that everyone else dropped out at shorter distances. It was a great push for me physically and mentally and I feel really good about my training thus far. Now I'm hungry for more (just maybe not more loops at Green Lake just yet...)!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chuckanut 50k

With a less than optimistic forecast for the Chuckanut 50k, this Saturday actually turned out to be a beautiful weather day. Crisp, cool air, no rain, and even plenty of sunshine throughout the day! Krissy Moehl and all the incredible volunteers put on another fantastic race this year, and it was a ton of fun. Great photos from the race can be found on Glenn Tachiyama's site. I ran a 4:39 (I think, but official results aren't up yet), and for me that was smoking fast! I haven't been training for speed much at all, but I guess the intensity of my high mileage/intense hills and mountains is translating to at least a little bit more speed, so that's definitely a good thing. For me personally, the race was rather uneventful- just a really fun day in the mountains. It felt fantastic to be out there on the trails just having fun on a gorgeous day and taking in the views! I wore my TNF Chinscrapers, which were the perfect choice for plowing through the wet, muddy sections. There were some super speedy folks there, and a big congrats to all those who did the race, and a big thanks to all those who helped put it on!

I went right back into a tough high mileage training week this week, but am now tapering off a bit to give my legs a wee rest before the Dizzy Daze 100k on Saturday. Should make for a fun, loopy Saturday!

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Season Begins...

For the past 3 years, I've kick-started the ultra-running race season a bit early with the Chuckanut 50k, and this year will be no exception. Although 50k isn't an extremely competitive distance for me, I love this race, and always look forward to this early season tune-up. I've been training hard with my sights set on HardRock and I'm excited to toe a starting line again after what seems like quite a long time since I've done a race.

The weather looks to be dismal- cold, wet, and probably snow over a few miles of the course, but I know it'll be a fun day nonetheless. Lots of friends will be there, and my wife is racing too, so it will definitely be another great day in the mountains regardless of the weather. See you in the mountains!

Monday, March 2, 2009

USATF 50k National Championships

Wow, fellow teammate from The North Face Kami Semick won the national 50k championships yesterday in Long Island, NY, and Michael Wardian won the men's side! Incredible races by both, and fast folks like them definitely inspire me to go a wee bit faster up and down the mountains! Way to go Kami and Mike!

Updates and official results should be up here soon;

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Mardi Gras!

I just looked back on some photos from 2006 when I was at Mardi Gras (the first one after Katrina and Rita hit), and it was so wonderful to see the resilient celebratory spirit of the wonderful people in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast. It makes me really happy to see that come hurricane, come recession, come what may, New Orleanians find something to celebrate at Mardi Gras no matter what!

Fat Tuesday is kind of a cathartic day, and I think of it almost as a second chance for many people who by this time are letting their New Years resolutions slide. Fat Tuesday is a great day to let it all out, and give your resolution (or something else) another go for the coming Lent season. So go on out and enjoy the day today, eat your fill of King Cake, and get ready for some serious fitness and running it all off tomorrow (or in the next week or so if that sounds better!)!

Also, while today is a day of celebration, it's a great time to be reminded of all the needs that still exist on the Gulf Coast, even today. There are still plenty of opportunities to go down and volunteer to help build homes, etc., and the opportunity to give is as important as ever. There are many great organizations still active and doing great things on the coast, and Common Ground Relief is just one if you want somewhere to start!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Seriously Inspiring Friends!

Wow, a couple of my friends who are on The North Face team are spreading inspiration like pollen in Mississippi in spring right now! My good friend Diane Van Deren is as we speak out in the Yukon right now tackling the Yukon Arctic Ultra 430 mile race. No American woman has ever completed this race, and Diane won the 300 mile version of this race last year (special note- she won outright in that race, and only 1 other guy even reached the finish line!). Temperatures look relatively mild so far, and Diane is cruising! You can follow along with her pretty well here, and get updates on the race itself here.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe, another friend and North Face teammate Simone Moro just completed the first ever winter ascent of Makalu in the Himalaya. Coincidentally I just finished reading a climbing book that chronicled a tragic failed winter attempt on Makalu some years ago, so this incredible summit that Simone completed is all the more meaningful for me now. Simone is an incredible guy, full of life, and clearly an amazing climber. You can see some great photos, video, and commentary on his blog (in Italian and English!).

While I've been training pretty hard ever since I found out I got into Hardrock 100, I'm kicking it into an even higher gear now with this new jolt of inspiration. Diane and Simone are incredible! Wow! Hopefully these stories will inspire you as well- go out there and explore!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Going Nowhere Fast

That's the story of running an ultra on a treadmill in a nutshell. I got motivated this weekend to go out and run 50k just for fun when I saw that the Yours Truly 50k was going on. I didn't get motivated quite enough to actually leave the house and do it though, so I decided I'd knock out a 50k on the treadmill one morning this week. I was also inspired by Bill Gates' letter this week regarding the Gates Foundation's commitment to actually increasing its spending this year despite decreased incoming funds and the down economy. Put it all together and I decided to donate the entry fee I might have paid for a 50k race today to a great charity. It seems really important in this down economy that we all do our part to continue to support those in even more need than ourselves if and when we can.

So the 50k went well today. It was not terribly eventful. I woke early and was at the gym shortly after it opened, chose a treadmill, and set up my little mini-aid station on the floor next to it. I decided to use the time to learn more about our new President and began listening to Obama's Dreams From My Father while running. It definitely helped the hours pass and kept my mind elsewhere. The treadmill shuts off automatically every hour, so those were my built in quick aid breaks. My end time was 4:08, probably one of my fastest 50k's ever, but I'll be excited to get back on the trails for the next one!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Great Day at the Libraries

Yesterday was a lot of fun. No snow and fast running companions made for much quicker progress than the first time around. The libraries being open for normal hours (and even a few letting us in early) helped a lot too! It was a great day, and we were all really glad to be able to help promote the libraries and get folks excited about going to visit their local branch!

Devon Crosby-Helms, Jonathan Bernard, and Linda Barton met at my house yesterday morning for a quick pow-wow before we hit the road. Brock unfortunately had some things come up at work (Caffe Vita) that couldn't be avoided and couldn't join us for the day. Linda (fresh 0ff the really tough HURT 100k race in HI this past weekend) graciously joined us for the whole day keeping us fueled, hydrated, and full of caffeine. Devon, Jonathan, and I hit the road just after 9am and were able to get in at our first 2 library stops even though they weren't quite open yet. Devon pointed out that it felt like we were going trick or treating as we rang the bells at the back door and held out our passports hoping for stamps.

We continued to press on clicking off libraries and miles one by one. Devon (a SPL librarian herself) had to fight back the urge to catch up with many of the librarians we saw, but we all kept moving really well. All the librarians were very welcoming and excited to see us. The library in South Park even had a great little sign on the front door to welcome us in! While it was a cold day, as long as we kept moving it felt great and we were fortunate to have no rain (or snow).

At Queen Anne, we found friend Thomas waiting for us, and he joined us for a nice long stretch. Devon and Jonathan knew Thomas from the running community here in Seattle, but I had met Thomas several years ago when he lived in Indianapolis and joined me during the 50 marathons for my run there! Small world! We pushed on and met up with all the great library folks at the Central library, then International district and cut over to Alaskan Way to head over to West Seattle. Thomas cut off from us there to go back to work, and the 3 of us continued on. Devon lives in W Seattle, so was really helpful with getting us around there. Devon was also wearing a GPS and informed us that we had done the first 50k in about 4:18 (I think our next 50k was a bit slower...). Dark came around the SouthWest Branch, so our head lamps went on for the night push til 8pm. The slog around Boeing was arduous to say the least (we thought it seemed big when driving by on I-5), but we made it over to Rainier Beach and started moving back up north, feeling like we were on the home stretch.

We slowly came to the realization that we were probably not going to make it to all 27 libraries before our 8pm cut-off, but we decided to just keep pushing and stay on our intended course to get as many as we possibly could before 8. With a hard last push, we were able to squeeze in at the Madrona branch at 7:58pm, get our stamps, and be gone. Linda was there to meet us, and we snapped a few photos, ate a bit of food, put on some clothes, and headed back for the barn. 25 libraries visited for the day, and we only missed the Capitol Hill and Montlake branches. We'll all likely meet up in the next day or 2 to run to the last two and finish up our stamps.

On the way back, I called a few folks to update on our progress, and ironically noticed that I had gotten an email from the library- a due date reminder on a book! Fortunately, with just a few clicks, I renewed my book, and all was well. The Seattle PI wrote a good article on our day's endeavours here, although in an earlier version the author had a line I really liked. It said something like- "Sam's wife Kirsten, a dietitian at Children's Hospital- her extreme sport of choice? Extreme patience. "That's definitely the truth," said Sam." Indeed, that's definitely the truth.

Though we certainly did our fair share of j-walking, we got held up a fair amount waiting for traffic lights, a train for a few moments, etc. Also the stop and go in and out of the libraries proved challenging to a consistent pace, but all in all we kept moving really steadily throughout the day.

Well, I hope this story inspires you to go check out your local library and be reminded of what an incredible resource we have there! On that note, I'm going to curl up with my new book and get it finished before I get another due date notice!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Library Run- Round 2 sans snow (hopefully!)

Well, with my library run being cut a bit short last time, I decided I needed to go back and finish what I started, so tomorrow it's time to give it a go again! It should be a great day to go to the library, and this time I'll have company! Brock Gavery, Devon Crosby-Helms, and Jonathan Bernard will all be joining in the zig-zagging library fun.

Another great detailed write-up of what we're up to can be found here.

Hope to see you on the road and at the library tomorrow!

You can follow along throughout the day tomorrow via Twitter. My username is seesamrun.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Good day

Wow, yesterday was a really interesting experiment for me. The weather turned out to be ideal, the miles clicked by quickly, and the food from McDonald's wasn't nearly as uncomfortable to get down (and keep down) as I'd expected. After a short run from home to my first McDonald's stop on the Lake Washington loop, I stopped for breakfast. First, I was very pleased to see the inside of the place totally empty, then realized that the drive-thru was lined up nearly down the street. I had a Deluxe Breakfast and a Medium coffee. It was a large amount of food, and I certainly hope not many people ever order it. Feeling pretty full and like I had a load of bricks in my stomach I started making my way up and around the north side of Lake Washington. Once things began to digest a bit, I moved quickly and felt good all the way around to Bellevue. I had planned to stop for lunch there, but was feeling good, not hungry, and couldn't stomach the thought of another grease bomb meal already, so I pushed on.

Next stop was the McDonald's in Renton where I had planned to have a Big Mac, but the picture up on the menu was just too daunting for my shaky stomach. I went with the 1/4 pounder value meal instead, and it seemed about right for me. I was definitely hungry at that point, but it wasn't so much food that it made me feel bad this time. On down around the south side I went, and started coming up the west side. The many miles of pavement began to take their toll on my body by the end, but I still felt strong.

I stopped for one last "meal" of sorts at the McDonald's near University Village. I simply couldn't stomach any more full meal deals, but figured I'd better have a bit more food to get me home. I just had 2 apple pies and a medium mocha and was back on my way. My head lamp and blinking red light on, I powered through back home, and started refueling like crazy on water and sports drink.

So my total calories burned on the day (according to one of those simple calorie calculators online) was 7,822. I consumed only 3350 calories through the course of the day (oops). So I actually ended the day with a 4,472 calorie deficit, but felt amazingly fine throughout the day. Although my last "meal" ended up being only a snack really, I feel I definitely proved that just a few meals from McDonald's pretty sufficiently fueled me all the way around Lake Washington for a 60ish mile run. At the same time many people are eating the same thing, sitting at a desk, and not exercising. That is really scary. You can see my caloric/nutrition breakdown in the below chart.

Some observations in general:

McDonald's related;
1) I was amazed/baffled by how many people were at all the McDonald's I went to and just how busy they were.
2) McDonald's staff is not accustomed to a shorts-clad sweaty runner ordering food (that's a good thing I think). It was like worlds colliding and I could tell it just felt strange to them.
3) McDonald's has the calorie count of most menu items displayed on the menu now. That's a step in the right direction I think, but I very seriously doubt this affects anyone's ordering decisions (judging from what was on peoples' trays).
4) They don't even give you the option of ordering just 1 apple pie. On the menu, it's listed as just "2 apple pies." Period. I think the option for just 1 could be a positive thing.

Running related;
1) I don't generally eat enough when I run, even though I try really hard. Although this was clearly a bit too much in single sittings (and far from the right fuel for running), it did make it clear to me that the high calorie intake was beneficial in keeping me feeling good (once my stomach settled down of course).
2) Although they're conveniently located and occur frequently, McDonald's does not make for a good aid station option.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heading to the arches...

Well, here goes nothing. I've eaten nothing and am off to start this little adventure. I've got about a 5 mile run to my first McDonald's, then will start making my way around the lake. My tentative plan is lunch in Bellevue, and dinner on the Southwest corner of the lake. This is going to be interesting.

I'll be updating on progress, calories, post photos, etc. on and my username is seesamrun. Spread the word, and let's really think about what we're putting in our bodies! The only way to combat obesity in our country is one individual person at a time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Golden Arches + Running = ????

Tomorrow I'm embarking on a sort of nutritional/social experiment (whilst running of course). I'm going to run around Lake Washington (about a 60ish mile run on road/bike path that I've done a handful of times before). But the catch is that this time my goal is to do it while nourished from nothing but 3 squares from none other than McDonald's.

Why on earth am I doing this? Well, in the spirit of New Year's resolutions and people probably starting to fall off of them already at this point, my goal in this is just to get people really thinking about what they eat and what goes into their bodies. I doubt honestly that many people eat 3 meals a day at McDonald's (and I certainly hope not), but with obesity more on the rise in our country now than ever, I fear it's not far from the reality of most peoples' diets (over 1/3 of Americans are now OBESE!). So the goal is just to say hey- if just 3 meals at McDonald's can fuel me to run this far in a day, just think about what that same caloric intake is doing in the average sedentary American's body in a given day while sitting at a desk!

So my goal is to do this run fueled only by 3 meals from McDonald's (which I'll of course stop at along the way). I'll just eat standard value meals or whatever the norm is. I never eat fast food, so I fear this could get really ugly with my GI system, but it'll be an interesting experiment.

More to come on this, and I'll be updating probably via Twitter throughout the day tomorrow with caloric intake, progress, etc. Pass it along, and tell your friends! Let's do our part to make a dent in our nation's obesity problem! See you on the pavement!