Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Contest

Beer in a can is as refreshing as running on a snowy trail. Name the brewery and beer in the picture and you'll be entered to win a free bottle-top opener. Respond on Facebook, Google+, or on this post. Contest ends 12/31/2012. Happy (insert whatever you celebrate) -

Congrats to Chris Bellevie, you are the randomly selected winner from the correct answers. Send me an email at so I can send you your winning! Thank you, to everyone that entered.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Tree Hunting

A little less about running, and little more fun. Got a Christmas Tree Permit to venture into the National Forest and chop me one down. Fun day, cold day...and these non-farm trees aren't completely full. Next year, I'll hunt down some spots while I'm running. Merry Christmas.

National Forest Christmas Tree Permit

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Mount Teneriffe and Mount Si

Golden, red, and brown. These are the colors of my trail.

The leaves fell hard, splashing the moist rocky trail with each impact. Each leaf linking with another leaf to form a colorful jigsaw puzzle at my feet. The rain, a cold reminder of the months to come, fell confusingly parallel to the rate of my perspiration. "Am I sweating? Or is that rain?" One breath in, one breath out. The clouds, thick with moisture, sit teasingly high above me at 6,000 ft. Just enough space to expose the summits of today's route.

The first ascent is just shy of 5 miles, with 4,000+ ft. of vertical and isn't a route that can be run fluidly. Run. Hike. Breath. Repeat. At times, the effort feels like a 400m sprint. Miles inch by at a snails pace. The Tortoise, of Aesop's Fables, has become the Hare, and I am forced into patience. The wind slashes through the trees as it becomes impeded by the sudden uprising of the mountain. The first mile after the waterfall humbles you with 1,300 ft. of vertical gain, and then the mountain breaks you. The final .88 mi., casts an intimidating shadow with 1,900 ft. of vertical gain. I have an angry, simple thought, "Mountains should change their names to Masochist." Finally, I summit. My hat is nearly blown off my head as I take in my surroundings. The wind is gusting at 30 mph, and the temperature is much lower than the 50°F at the Mount Si Trailhead. Snapping a quick photograph, I look west toward a rock face jutting about the tree swept mountainside. Destination number two, Mount Si.

I meander around the summit of Mount Teneriffe for a few minutes looking for the "trail" that connects the two mountains. My mind is shivering, my body is cooling. Finally, a red marker catches my eye. On the map, my planned route looks easy to follow. The bold green trails drawn on a sandstone background provide pre-run confidence. Navigating this mountain isn't that green-and-beige, however. The steep ascent now becomes a slippery descent. I slide on my ass, accidentally.  The "not really a trail" evolves slowly from no trail to deer trail to human trail. A sigh of relief, and the legs keep moving. The trail comes to an end, for now, as it transforms into an old logging road. I head down the rock studded, muddy road just as a drenching rain settles in above me. The connector trail is a little over a mile away, I think. Otherwise, it's a seven mile descent on an unused road. I don't self-inflict pain for monotony, so that route is abandoned before I even begin the run. A large marker, maybe 3 feet in length, hangs soaking wet ten feet above the trail that intersects the road. "How did someone get that up there?" More simple thoughts. I take the trail, and after a cold mile, arrive at the "distant rock summit" that I had seen on top of Mount Teneriffe. The vegetation not wanting to retreat from the trail hangs itself out for full-body hugs for anyone passing their rooted position. I snap a view photographs, and head toward home. The descent is easy: nothing technical and the trail is tacky. Arriving back in the parking lot, the skies open up. After a natural wander, a natural shower.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mizuno Ascend 7, Guest Review: Josh Reed

The Mizuno Wave Ascend 7, is a light-weight trail running shoes weighing in at 11.4 oz. It’s not their lightest shoe, but it’s by no means heavy. I generally recommend Mizuno's for beginning runners because their midsole allows a comfy impact with plenty of protection. The Ascend 7 is equipped with Mizuno’s Wave TechnologySmoothride Engineering, and Dynamotion Fit.  These three trademarked entities enable the Ascend 7 to dissipate impact, create a seamless heel-to-toe transition, and eliminate stress points on the upper area of the foot.

Alright enough on the stats, you can read those on Mizuno's website. The real question: What is it like running in the Ascend 7?  Think, jet fighter. The Ascend 7 likes to go fast on trails.  As we all know, trails are up-and-down, and tend to be somewhat technical: rocks, roots, creek crossings. From the first obstacle to the last, there was never a doubt of slipping once these shoes made contact with the ground. Every downhill I could really bomb, and felt like I was glued to the ground; however, the Ascend 7 isn't made for every day training, in my opinion, and it shows. 

The fit isn't as impressive, as the traction. I have about a half a shoe size difference between both my feet, so the shoe fit perfect on one foot and tight on the other.  I have this issue with some shoes, but most tend to fit both feet pretty well.  It's an anatomical difference, and much less of a “shoe” issue. Lets be for real, though, most people actually do have at least a slight, if not substantial, difference between their feet.  It's never bothered me during my runs, and my right foot didn't fall asleep, or become tingly. There was just a noticeable difference between the fit of the shoes.

These things are loud. Loud? No, they don't speak to you. I don’t know why, but they made a pretty loud slapping sound when I was running. I tried changing my foot-strike to see if it's just the way I run, but nothing seemed to work. Right before my weight transferred to the ball of my foot the shoe would make a slapping noise.  Needless to say, if your goal is to be a ninja runner you might want to avoid these shoes. The noise combined with the colors of the shoes would make sneaking around near impossible.

Now, I said earlier I usually suggest Mizuno running shoes to beginners for the Wave Tehcnology Mizuno uses in their midsole. The Ascend 7 would be the exception to that rule.  You feel everything in these shoes and when you are trail running that’s a lot!  It was never uncomfortable, plus I tend to like a less cushioned shoe, but these are the typical “ride” you expect from Mizuno.  Less of a sedan, and more of a sports car feel to them.

Overall these are great shoes. If I could find a right shoe that’s about half a size bigger I would be set.  For trail racing these are up there for me. They want to go fast and make you feel comfortable with your foot placement. I wouldn't suggest training in them everyday since the cushioning is less desirable, but a couple times a week shouldn't hurt.

Joshua Reed is a Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine, a runner, and a triathlete. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Ras Jahson Ites Tafari, Double Wonderland FKT

Please read the entire Double Wonderland by Ras Jahson Ites Tafari: UltraPedestrian
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"There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mysteries, its melancholy and its charm." - Teddy Roosevelt

An uncountable collection of Western Hemlocks loom confidently above the Box Canyon parking lot, but the misty air is suffocating any view beyond the tree tops. My car's digital clock, a collection of flat black numbers cast on a putrid yellow background, click over minute-by-minute: 6:59, 7:00, 7:01. Ras Jahson Ites Tafari is on the Wonderland Trail somewhere between my rapidly cooling Subaru Outback and Devils Dream; roughly a twenty-mile stretch, easily navigable, but he's toting 140 miles of fatigue along a trail that is, as Ras will describe to me later on, "...always going uphill." I'm restless and the juxtaposition of fog and Ras' unknown whereabouts is becoming increasingly claustrophobic. My thoughts are now irrational, "He should be here. Damn! I can't believe I may have missed him."

Please read the entire Double Wonderland by Ras Jahson Ites Tafari: UltraPedestrian

A runner attempting an unsupported, one-lap, fastest known time ceased his attempt sometime during the previous night and found himself sleepless among the snarls of agitated wildlife. As he sits in my front seat, looking abandoned on the inside and shares his short adventure of the lightening storm, the rain, and that he has no real plan on getting home, I numb myself to the idea that Ras may be following a similar scenario. A few days later I find out the runner successfully failed at his attempt, but survived, and found a ride home.

"The education of the soul is not a process of bringing it into correspondence with a physical structure like the external world, but rather a process of rightly affecting its motion." - Richard Weaver, The Phaedrus and the Nature of Rhetoric

It's 11 o'clock, the clouds lift and the aroma of moist soil fills the air. It's been so dry this summer that you can almost sense the vegetation sighing in relief from the sudden downpour the night before. As the hours crash over like waves cascading into a beach, each one chipping away at the foundation of relaxation, I'm frustrated, confused, and curious. "Did Ras and his pacer, Allen, call it during the storm? Is he hurt? Who the fuck attempts something like this?" Ras's tardiness reaches eight hours, I get the feeling that he has somehow laid down an unbelievable surge and is almost to the White River Campground. "Ras doesn't quit," is repeated aloud. Somehow just hearing my voice say the mantra I've applied to a runner I barely know satiates my worries. However, I set a time to throw in the towel. I make a quick getaway to the, surprisingly clean, porta-john and as I emerge a man with trekking poles, astonishingly long dreadlocks, and an aura of determination is standing patiently by my Subaru. After a bit of catching-up, chatter, and excitement we head north on the trail to the finish line.

"The eye is numbed by vastness and magnificence, and passes over the fine details, ignoring them in a defense against surfeit." - Eliot Porter, The Living Canyon

The route from Box Canyon to White River Campground, on a map, looks like an electrocardiogram of an irregular heart beat. This is fitting because the 186-mile attempt is from the mind of an irregular man. Outfit with a positive vibe, Ras' personality is a cornucopia of good will, adventure, and an intoxicating joy for attempting to find his limits; common traits among ultra-runners. Climbing out of Box Canyon, Ras and I ramble along the pedestrian highway around the enormous stratovolcano small talking about the amazing distinctions between plant and animal, and the uniqueness of fungus, more specifically mushrooms. "Yeah, mushrooms are a part of their own Kingdom. Separate from plants, animals, and bacteria," Ras rattles off the information like a well learned mycologist. We share a fondness for everything natural and friendship.

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5:00 PM, "Two hours....four miles...sixteen miles to go." I'm glancing at my watch every quarter-mile. "I've got to stop this. I'm missing out on an experience. This watch has got to run out of battery sooner than later." It's too often that we, as humans, try to build a comfortable cage around situations that are exposed. The wilderness is a place lacking human faults. We run, but we run with GPS watches, shoes that, "make us natural," and other devices that bring more of man into nature, than nature into man. I, too, am guilty of all of this, and I don't think it's wrong, but you can't let yourself be afraid of being uncomfortable. I turn the watch to the inside of my wrist and forget about time; another man-made commodity.

"I stayed in the village only a few minutes. I had come to study ant..." - E.O. Wilson, Bernhardsdorp

Stopping only for brief stints to take in scenery, stretch, and awe at elk singing into the hillside, we stumble into Indian Bar. We are basically half-way, 15 minutes under four hours. Ras needs to eat, and I decide to munch on a peanut butter sandwich. I don't eat much. My sense of taste is in a torpid state as other senses congregate the enormity of the glacier carved valley where we are sojourning. We are small. Ras explains, "I'm hurting, but you know the mountain doesn't care about us. Just like we take little note of ants wandering at our feet. But you know, if you saw the same ant every day you'd bond with it. Giving it a name, but still when the time comes, if it's killed you move on without looking back. Maybe the mountains have done that with me. This is my 10th circumnavigation of Mount Rainier. I wonder if Rainier, Adams, and St. Helen talk with each." As we rise, the sun falls, the fog rolls in like a ghost train picking up passengers. I let Ras muse without interruption. The distraction takes his mind off the pain of completion. I can tell he's ready. Not ready for the pain to stop, but ready for the journey to end. Ras knows, by now, that he can complete the Double Wonderland, and now the giddy butterflies that you get on the first date have stopped flying. The movements become more about repeating and less about accomplishment.

Please read the entire Double Wonderland by Ras Jahson Ites Tafari: UltraPedestrian

Ascending patiently toward Panhandle Gap, the high point of the entire trail: 6,750 ft. above sea level, we stop to stretch and Ras, with a childish excitement, says, "I see a bear." I turn quickly with eagerness. I see nothing. I scan the valley, I see nothing. I look back at Ras and with confusion ask, "Where?" He points to the bear, and says, "I see elk." Now, I'm really confused. "Ras, I don't see anything," I'm trying to be polite.  Ras is focused, though. He looks around on the ground we're standing on and says, "Well, if they are not there, these rocks won't hurt them." Solid logic for a person that is working his way closer and closer to ninety hours of non-stop travel. Ras, throws a rock and as the rock falls toward the animals we look with the anticipation of fans watching a hail-mary being lunged into the air as time expires. Nothing moves. Ras throws another rock. This rock, a little bigger, falls like Alice down the rabbit hole, it never seems to hit the ground. Another rock. Ras becomes as confused a Data from Star Trek learning about the gap between logic and human emotion. Ras sighs and confides, "I've never hallucinated." I see a glimmer of defeat in,  Ras, but the defeat solidifies we need to keep moving and finish. I wheedle Ras away from his imagination feeling a little guilty about taking away his belief, but we agree that maybe the animals were there and I just didn't see them.

"The sentence 'dreams fulfill desires' may have been repeated throughout the centuries; it is not the same statement in Plato and in Freud." - Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge

Entering the snowfields just prior to Panhandle Gap the fog is so thick that the light from our headlamps is blinding us as it ricochets back into our dilated pupils. The muddy footprint trail across the safer sections of snow is hit-and-miss. The rain the night before has melted a lot of snow, and the trail is in some spots thirty to forty feet further down the slide area. I've never been here, and even if I had the lack of illumination sends shivers up my spine. I'm constantly asking Ras, "Does this look familiar?" Kindly he replies, "No. Not really. It doesn't seem right." Well, there goes my comfort. Time to embrace the uncomfortable: traversing snowfields by retracing the past journeys of those before low visibility. I remind myself, "Trey, you'll love this moment when it's no longer the present." It doesn't seem to help, but I know it's true. I'm slipping, I'm sliding, and Ras is sharing his Black Diamond Z-poles as we cross the hidden slopes. After each crossing we search frantically, without much talking, for cairns, man-made commodities I'm embracing for strength. I remind myself again, "When it's over, it'll be great." Cresting the summit we begin our descent over a boulder field, down a large snow field, search for the trail and begin our descent into White River Campground.

" not directed at possibilities or pure essences; it is directed at what exists; one does not love possibilities, one loves that which exists or is destined to exist." - Jacques Maritain

I smile and think, "Ras is going to do this, and I'm off those damn snowfields." The present has become the past. We have about six miles to the finish line, my watched battery died hours ago and Ras is confident he wants to see Kathy, his wife. He vocally meditates about how much he misses her. Explaining to me, "We live in a small cabin, and we spend a lot of time closer to each other than most couples. It's really tough coping with being away from her for so long." Running has a way of making us honest, not just through physical ability, but emotionally breaking us down into our core. For Ras, it's Kathy.

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Crossing the various rivers formed by melting snow and ice can only mean one thing: we're almost there. The night has become such a constant that the stars look boring. "At least the clouds have moved on," I think.  Ras is silent, too silent. I speak into the cool night air with excitement. Ras occasionally responds with, "Trey, I'm sorry I'm not talking, I really appreciate your company." I laugh because, well, I'm tired and I've mostly let go of my inhibitions to be polite. I reassure him that, "No worries. I talk a lot to myself aloud." The last fork in the trail arrives, Ras sits down. I talk some more as he falls asleep. I start counting in my head, take a few photos and wake Ras up. "I hope he believes he's slept for minutes, " I cautiously think to myself. I only let him have 20 seconds. "He's exhausted, no way he knows or even cares," I confidently think. The next few miles are nothing more than me talking and Ras marching. I didn't want to stop again. We are too close and so I deploy a plan. I'm just going to make Ras move. I find that when he starts to slow down that if I step on the ground harder he naturally falls into cadence. If he stumbles, I compliment him for not falling and he keeps going. We enter the campground, I snap the last photo and we find the campsite. Ras is done. I'm done.

"The word virtue, with its equivalent in every tongue, implies praise..." David Hume, Of the Standard of Taste

I think it's cliche to further this report about what I learned, the lessons are nothing unique. But the people in the experience are unique. Thank you, Ras for placing trust in me to show up, and help you. Thank you, Kathy for inspiring such a great person . Like I said, Ras and I didn't really know each other before we stepped off from Box Canyon. But man, we clicked. Our talks about Rasta, mushrooms, wildlife, and the amazing connection between environment and human made the scenery of the experience real. Also, big shout out full of love to Laura Kay for being along for the ride and having an amazing meal in the car when I showed up...That's a story for another blog.

Please read the entire Double Wonderland by Ras Jahson Ites Tafari: UltraPedestrian
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 Gore-tex TransRockies

"Now he walks in quiet solitude the forest and the streams, Seeking grace in every step he takes, His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand, The serenity of a clear blue mountain lake..."

Colorado's high-alpine country is intoxicating. The geology alone is enough for any trail runner to salivate at the opportunity. My training progressed easily and with no significant injuries or setbacks. The numbers speak for themselves: May 20 - August 11, Time: 85:09:56 Distance: 404.13 miles, Vertical: 110,102 ft. I only recall a few runs that I just felt like shit. Awesome.

The 6-day, 120 mile stage race through the Colorado Rockies is an experience worth living. Simply put, wake-up, eat, run, drink beer, eat, sleep; repeat 6 times. The most unusual epiphany, working and day to day living tax your body way more than I imagined. Yes, I was in good shape for the adventure, but truthfully, I didn't feel like we covered that much distance. Every run's finish line is close enough to a cold water source that icing isn't a task. I often finish running and say to myself, "Ok, use the two ice bags you bought six months ago in the freezer." only to get home and take a hot shower. Partly lazy, but I think a naturally flowing water source is much more effective, and safer, than submerging yourself in a static ice-filled ceramic pond. Tendons and ligaments don't like to be frozen and I think there is a fine line between too much and just right. I've had success icing and not icing. Bottom-line, if you respond well to something keep on, keepin' on.

Another unusual aspect from the week that, in my opinion, enables a faster recovery: camaraderie. Trail runners are a breed of their own, and the longer the distances the more a like everyone becomes. The amount of beer than was consumed is astonishing, yet no one, to my knowledge, even woke up with a slight hangover. If they did, altitude was an easy target to blame. Seriously, every moment of the week is filled with laughter, complaints, and smiles. The night time tent sleeping was more inline with your first sleepover. Everyone has a childish laugh, everyone is farting, petulant comments are as abundant as oxygen at sea-level.

It was just a great training week. I arrived with no expectations, unplugged completely, and just enjoyed being outside. Below are pictures and a daily recap of each stage.
Gore-tex TransRockies Stage 1: Buena Vista to Railroad Bridge
My first taste of running at altitude: stomach cramps, leg cramps, finish. Not too excited by limited ability today. Lots of sun in today's high desert. Just didn't get into a groove of comfort after I stopped to pee. I worked too hard to get back with the group and courtesy a sea-level red blood cell count I red lined and never recovered. I should have stopped for a few minutes, but kept rollin' on. It may be a long week. At least the beer is free.
Gore-tex TransRockies Stage 2: Vicksburg to Twin Lakes
Today should have been a spotlight. The course is catered to my strengths: steep up, steep down. I've been cursed by low oxygen and being too close to the stars, however. I started nervously, stayed patient and then above 10,700 ft. above sea level the wheels came off of my homemade wagon. for the next 11 miles I went in and out of feeling like I held my breath too long. Stars in the daytime are not normal. I don't remember much of anything about today. But after I got into the finish area I just sat down and drooled. I used a beer can to cool my pounding headache and after about an hour of sitting feeling sorry for myself I got up. Stood in a lake for another hour, got sunburned. The rest of the night I didn't talk. I just wanted to stop feeling out of place. By mornings light nothing go any better. I'll be back to take this route on, again, one day. Acclimated.
Gore-tex TransRockies Stage 3: Leadville to Nova Guides at Camp Hale
I have the worst altitude sickness. I'm dizzy, not hungry, not thirsty, and just want to go numb. Life in the high-alpine is tough, right now. I didn't want to start, but I put on a smile, took a lame picture of myself and one foot in front of the other. Cruised up to a ski resort at a steady tromp. As soon as I got below 10,000 ft. above sea level a light came on. My body started to respond and I ran the last 10 miles, at least. It was a slight downhill, and the trail twisted and undulated. Finished the last few miles on a flat road, where I've discovered I have no anaerobic threshold at altitude while my body is adapting. A horrible start with a great finish. A good lesson, an old slogan: Just do it.
Gore-tex TransRockies Stage 4: Nova Guides at Camp Hale to Red Cliff
After yesterday's morning altitude fiasco and a seamless recovery mid-way through, today's up-rolling-down stage was a good day. A steep climb, put my uphill legs to use and it felt great! Labored breathing, but heart rate stayed low enough that I felt in a good zone. The ridge was cool, hazy views, and the descent was pleasantly fast and sort of technical. Finish at a bar, a plus. However, I didn't really feel like drinking more than half a beer. River was too cold for my blood. Probably will pay for not icing tomorrow.
Gore-tex TransRockies Stage 5: Red Cliff to Vail
Yeah, today was a culmination of walking fatigue, altitude fatigue, and just not in the mood to run. Sad because the ridge-line into the Vail Ski Resort was picturesque . The 8-mile jeep road leading to the trail, however, piece of shit. It was a slow start, had ok moments, and then my hip had some weird lock-up that finally gave way with about 3 miles left. I was glad to finish. Ready for the final the finish line.
Gore-tex TransRockies Stage 6: Vail to Beaver Creek
It has been an up and down week, but today I felt the best I've felt since arriving in Colorado. I went out with the leaders just to stretch my legs. I partially intended to stay with them over the next 19 miles, but this is a team event and it's no fun waiting at the finish line by yourself. Plus, about 8 miles into the run I was informed that we would be disqualified if I went through with my plan. Because I felt so good I decided to put a big enough gap between my teammate that even with an hour time penalty we would move up in the ranks. In the end, we finished together. I will never eat oranges on an empty stomach during a race again, by the way. Lesson learned.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

June 8 - June 14: The Importance Of A Runner's Ego

Weekly Totals, Time: 5:45:12 Distance: 27.47 mi. Vertical: 7,582 ft.
Weekly Averages, Time: 1:26:18 Distance: 6.87 mi. Vertical: 1,896 ft.
A an easy week to rest the legs. Had lots of time to repair any damage I've managed to accumulate during the past month. On average, I generally hit about 27,000 ft. of vertical in a month. Last month, June, I tallied 40,000+ ft. I felt great for all of it, and I hope that after a 'rest week' I'll be able to get back on the vertical train and ride it home through August. All of the down-time made my legs a bit restless, and I had trouble sleeping. One night I managed a grueling 60 minutes of ZZZ's and then had to get up. The weather sprawled with delight and I took a 'break'. Ugh. At least I had time to write:

Ran into Mike V. on Squak Mtn.

Hmm, a 30' cliff.

One of the single-most important aspects of this blog, for me, is that it's my training journal. It's a bit wordy, sometimes confusing, and fairly egotistical. But I think having some type of medium to brag about yourself, and have a record of the "ups-and-downs," is the crux and often a missing link in most runner's training regimes. I don't think every one needs a blog, but patting yourself on the back and being comfortable that others have the opportunity to rubberneck is valuable...and we don't always like to admit it:
  • Every gym runner does this: You get on the treadmill next to someone that appears to be showing off, or less fit than yourself, and you intentionally increase your speed so you're running faster. No shame.
  • Every trail runner does this: You catch a glimpse of someone ahead of you running in the same direction and you slow down to catch your breath just enough so that when you pass that sorry son-of-a-bitch he wants to stop and walk. No shame.
  • Every road runner does this: You pass a building that has reflective windows and instead of looking where you're going you casually glance, out of the corner of your eye, at your reflection in full stride, subtly pulling your stride length in to make sure that the only memory the window will have of you is perfect form. No shame.
  • Every barefoot/minimal runner does this: You run in the most crowded places so that people can see you're different, that you're more pure, more in-touch with 'our' ancestors. You didn't give in to cooperate sabotage by using 12mm heel-to-toe drop, injury causing, shoes. Nope; you only paid the same price, $100+. No shame.
Now, I understand there are some of you reading this, a cup of java, or a pint of brew close-by, that are thinking, "I don't do any of that." One phrase, for you: "Every runner does this. No shame. " We can title our "self-motivation", psychological egoism. At the roots an ego, in running, is healthy. Obviously there are limits, but running is entirely a selfish mainspring. The more you value your perceived potential the further your potential is extended. It's the deepest of motivations that enable the runner to step forward again, and again. Share your ego with the world and run free. 

Have some examples of egotistical running acts that you've done, or know of someone doing? Facebook Page.

Rattlesnake 1/2 Marathon
Joe G. and I pre-race

Joe G. running away from me. I'm an intimidating person.
Eric S., TransRockies teammate

Saturday, July 7, 2012

June 24 - July 7

Motivated. It's been more than just the trail, the silence, the vulnerability. It's been more than the agony, the failures, the pain. It's been natural. To give credit where credit is due, the Earth, for the Northern Hemisphere, is the farthest away from the sun than at any other time of the year. We've escaped our perihelion and assimilated into our aphelion; it's July: 23.5 degrees of tilt on the spin axis. The giant landmasses we reside on are heating up faster than the other 139.4 million square miles of our floating blueberry and we're experience what humankind has dubbed, "Summer." Alas, the sultry ultraviolet rays are baking us like toast in a toaster. The trails are slightly overgrown; the thorns ripping at my epidermis with cheerful violence, and my desire to sit like a hippie handcuffed to a tree is ever increasing. The American cordillera is stubbornly releasing the frozen hydrogen and two-parts oxygen molecules from the erosion formed talus and scree fields, and my mountain man instincts are salivating. I'm ascending at personal best efforts and grabbing tan lines at every break in the forest canopy. This is mountain running. This is trail running. This is running. This is my life.

July 1 - July 7
Weekly Totals, Time: 8:43:08 Distance: 49.43 mi. Vertical: 11,731 ft.
Weekly Average, Time: 1:14:44 Distance: 7.06 mi. Vertical: 1,676

Any time my week starts out with a race, I feel satisfied. Plus, two weeks in a row of 10,000 ft. of vertical. This week's race, went well. I blew up, got my shit back together, and finished in a respectable time and place. That is a very poor race report, but I've been running and writing is on a backseat. Importantly, I confidently feel I can improve. I started out way too fast, but I was having so much fun, so I just kept going until my mind and body refused. Later on in the week I raced a 5k (road) and led the Top 10 in the wrong direction within a 1/4 mi. of the start. Oops, I guess this is why trail run. Laughing, I jogged the rest of the race and chatted in up with Ryan P. at an easy 6:13 min./mi. pace. Everything else this week is summed up above. I found new views, and legs that I haven't had in years, as I ran around the Issaquah Alps. Yes, I'll take more.

June 24 - June 30

Weekly Totals, Time: 8:14:03 Distance: 36.88 mi. Vertical: 12,634 ft.
Weekly Average, Time: 2:03:31 Distance: 9.22 mi. Vertical: 3,158 ft.

What a week, what a month. I really hunkered down this week and got the job done, and in ascent and descent PR fashion. The beginning of the week started out with a great run up Granite Mountain with my training partner, and friend, Robert B. Finding ourselves about 1/2 mi. from the summit we ran into a lot of snow, took what we thought was a direct line to the summit and found ourselves scrambling over large boulders and standing in awe of the large amounts of snow still left in the valleys between the mountains.
My average run time is looking better and better in preparation of Gore-Tex TransRockies-Run. My lungs feel great on recent climbs, by arms are working amazingly, and my legs are turning-over faster than they have in at least 7 years. Quite the experience.

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 03 - June 23

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June 03 - June 09
Weekly Totals, Time: 7:46:49 Distance: 41.07 mi. Vertical: 10,026 ft.
Weekly Averages, Time: 1:17:48 Distance: 6.85 mi. Vertical: 1,671 ft

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June 10 - June 16 (June Gloom, this week. Only 2 runs)
Weekly Totals, Time: 5:26:06 Distance: 30.57 mi. Vertical: 8,384 ft.
Weekly Averages, Time: 2:43:03 Distance: 15.29 mi. Vertical: 4,192 ft.
Wilderness Peak Loop
Long Run. 4,900 ft. of Gain. 14.36 miles; 2:47:31. Thank you, Cougar Mountain. Wilderness Peak is where the heart is, for me. 5k(+) Loop X 4. Elevation profile looks like a 1st graders drawing of the rocky mountains.Lap 4 was tough. First two summits sub-23; third sub-24; fourth; barely under 26 min., ha! All four descents felt smooth and controlled.
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June 17 - June 23
Weekly Totals, Time: 8:58:28 Distance: 38.52 mi. Vertical: 11,577 ft. (includes, Mt Rainier hike)
Weekly Averages, Time: 1:29:37 Distance: 8.63 mi. Vertical: 2,144 ft. (run-only)

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The past three weeks have been right on target with improving my average run time. June 10 - June 16, I caved into Seattle's "June Gloom" and took four days off. Oh, well. Looking into the future: In August, I'll be running the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run and need to improve my daily run time to be able to easily handle 3 hours of running 6 days in a row. The race itself is pretty amazing, in my opinion: Six days, 120 miles, and 20,000 ft. of vertical, everything is between 8,000 ft. - 12,500 ft. Above Sea Level. Wow, just thinking about this opportunity has me excited. The race route traverses north from Buena Vista, CO to Beaver Creek, CO. The six day race, is a team so my good friend Eric S. and I will be completing the journey together. The ups, the downs, all together.

As for training, like I said, I'm working on increasing my average runs. Not focusing too much on speed, but the more I run the faster I'm getting. The I-90 corridor trails are opening, so I've fixed my car to commute out into the hills and the Seattle summer weather is beginning to peak. Photos will begin to trickle back into the blog. However, if you want to see the most recent and update info check out the Facebook Page

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

May 13 - June 02

May 27 - June 02
Weekly Totals, Time: 5:14:45 Distance: 28.52 mi. Vertical: 7,729 ft. (good mi. to vert. ratio)
Weekly Averages, Time: 1:18:41 Distance: 7.13 mi. Vertical: 1,932 ft.

This is how I test packs.
I had a nagging cold this week, so I decided that taking Thursday and Friday off would be in my best interest. Woke up Saturday and can honestly say i felt 100% better. I wasn't, I'm still not, over the chest cold, but it's manageable. Low mileage week, but lots of climbing. More importantly, my average run time has been increasing. I've got a few events coming up that are going to require I much longer sustained in, consistency over at least 6 days. More to come on that. I've been toying around in the mountains a lot lately and I really feel refreshed. My legs are responding really well to training, and mentally everything is starting to fall into place. I need to update the blog a lot more frequently...and with pictures. Not just because people want to read it, but it's my training log and the best way to understand yourself is to log everything, and analyze at the end of each season. The more details, the better. It's not hard. It just takes some discipline. As runners I think we're somewhat predisposed to scheduling things. Yes, we all have different ways we train. For instance, I have a loose idea of what I need to accomplish each week, but no real set time frame. I wake up, judge how I feel, think back to what I've done in the past two days and make a decision on what to do that day. If I don't get everything in, no problem. I used to hold grudges, but over-training is detrimental to lifelong training. When you over-train, physiologically and psychologically running becomes a burden. I'm not advocating showing up to every event out of shape, but becoming too strict in training can be for worse. I think my advice would be, if you don't feel confident in your ability to perform bag the event. Maybe you lost some dough, but you were honest to yourself as an athlete. Look back over your training log, see where you fucked up and correct it. Don't kid yourself about where you're not, and who you're not. You see 'em all the time at events, and it's taking its toll of the purity of competition. I'm not saying that you have to be able to compete for the podium, because lets be honest, only a handful of athletes ever do. I'm just saying, when you show up to an event you should take enough pride in yourself to push your own limits. Okay, enough ranting. Find me on Facebook or Twitter. And 'Like''s Facebook Page

May 20  - May 26
Weekly Totals, Time: 7:46:33 Distance: 37.39 mi. Vertical: 3,785 ft.
Weekly Averages, Time: 1:33:19 Distance: 7.48 mi. Vertical: 757 ft.

Training times are going, up. I have some big news about some future events. I'll announce them next week. Lets just say, 'Once In a Lifetime' may be a good description. The week started with just a really fun run/hike/bushwhack through new terrain. Tolt MacDonald Park has some steep hills, and a lot of budding ferns. Those things are really stiff and sort of prickly. Run/hiking an ascent through them isn't terrible; however, ascending and then descending gives you what I call, "fern burn." After a 2.5 hr., run I looked down at my cat scratched legs and just sighed. I love the Pac-Northwest, but the ferns and nettles I could do without. The week ended with two nights of pacing around Lake Youngs Trail during the Pigtails Challenge. 200 mile, 150 mile, and a 100 mile race. Wow, only exclamation needed.

May 13 - May 19

Weekly Totals, Time: 7:00:52 Distance: 46.98 mi. Vertical: 4,167 ft.
Weekly Averages, Time: 1:10:09 Distance: 7.83 mi. Vertical: 694 ft.

I had a really good week, last week. The weather was cooperative enough that I actually have tan lines and ran shirtless quite a few times. That's right folks, shirtless. The week was on record 'happy running' until a PR ascent up Cougar diminished my running logic and put my running emotion on a higher pedestal. I cruised up an all too familiar route and only put an effort into the last 2/3rds and managed a great time...PR, for the route. I signed the guest book up top, took a deep breath and confronted the descent with confidence. Twisting, turning, and going fast: the appeal of descents. The earth crashing into your bare chest, bruising you leg, scrapping off any accumulated tan: the risk of twisting, turning, and going fast downhill. About a 1/2mi. from the trailhead I bit the dirt. I laugh about it, now; especially because the bruises on my leg are still there and it's been more than a week. Good times, good fall, no serious injuries.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

May 06 - May 13

Weekly Totals, Time: 7:52:01 Distance: 51.86 mi. Vertical: 5,800 ft.
Weekly Averages, Time: 0:59:00 Distance: 6.48 mi. Vertical: 725 ft.

My Garmin 610 broke Sunday morning. <sigh> I had a front seat view of the approaching Mount Baker National Forest and somewhere along I-5 N the damn watch decided it had enough. What a drag, you know. I rarely look at my watch during a run, but I take an immense amount of comfort and pleasure knowing that everything I'm doing is being recorded. I'm connected, on the grid! I'll be able to check-out the data when I sit down with a cold brew in front of the, often too bright, computer screen. My eyes usually drying faster than my thirst is quenched. But, as I fiddled with the watch and nothing happened I began to take myself away from my upcoming adventure on the east side of Baker Lake. I was forgetting that two feet don't require much more than the cross-bridge cycle of actin combining with myosin and adenosine triphosphate to produce force. Mix in some synapse, neurons, coordination and motivation and voila: one foot in front of the other. Instead, I was ill-tempered that my luxury watch gave me the middle finger and took a permanent vacation. I felt about as lost as the crew of the Voyager (Star Trek). 70,000 light years is a bit much, but you know part of me did feel like that. I looked up, the lonely peak of an unidentified mountain brought me back. Took a deep breath, put the watch down, and enjoyed the ride. When shit hits than fan you have to clean it up. Gawking over the pseudo-inconveniences of life just leaves a mess that can just as easily be cleaned up. I ran the next 3+ hours without a watch and when we finished felt like I had only been gone for 45 minutes. I got home, mapped out the run using some Topography software plugged in the numbers and logged it in the log book.

Here's the video of a watch-less run:

Tell me about your 'luxury' running issues in the comments section or on Facebook. I'm sure I'm not alone in this, right?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

April 29 - May 05

Weekly Totals, Time: 6:15:02 Distance: 41.19 mi. Vertical: 6,843 ft.
Weekly Averages, Time: 0:53:35 Distance: 5.88 mi. Vertical: 978 ft.

The week started out with a 1st place finish at the Soaring Eagle Half-Marathon (Trail). What a course. The following day my hips and upper body were, for lack of a better word, shredded. Carving mercilessly through the tight corners of the course absolutely exposed a weakness. My initial thought was, "lets look at the amount of training, first." It was a 47 day training block, that netted 49 hours, 251 miles, and 38,000 ft. of vertical gain. Not sitting on the couch, but not overly aggressive. I was well rested, for sure; especially because the two weeks prior to the race were on average 25 mile weeks with basically no vertical. Ugh, looking at that last sentence I'm slowing getting depressed. 25 miles, 2 weeks in a row? Whatever, fretting over numbers gets you nowhere...and after all, I did manage a win and felt like my effort was mostly dialed in. Why was I so beat up, though? And then Monday, perched 15 feet above a padded floor, clinging to small oddly shaped holds I realized that I hadn't been rock climbing in two weeks.

Cross-training, whatever you want to call it, is crucial for overall performance. I can't think of a better activity that allows the runner to obtain a full range of motion in all four limbs, works on neuromuscular coordination, strengthens the core, and doesn't put a lot of stress on the body. The last part there: doesn't put a lot of stress on the body, is crucial. You don't have to be a world class climber to reap the benefits, either. Plus, a gym membership is generally cheaper than supplements that usually wind up more in the toilet than being absorbed.

The week ended on a good note, too: PR from S.R. 900 to West Peak on Squak Mtn.

Graceful, yes.
My cousin's bad ass skills let him
climb in crazy locations like this.

When I lived in Georgia, I climbed here: Adrenaline Climbing
I live in Washington, now, and I climb here: Stone Gardens Bellevue

Facebook message me, if you want to join me sometime.

Sunday, April 29 Soaring Eagle Half-Marathon (Trail)

Monday, April 30 Time: 44:16 Distance: 3.30 mi. Vertical: 1,198 ft.
Base Run. 1,200' of Gain. The wind was howling like a cat in heat on Cougar Mtn., today. Took an easy ascent and a fun descent from Wilderness TH to Wilderness Peak.

Tuesday, May 01 Time: 1:24:45 Distance: 9.43 mi. Vertical: 244 ft.
Run #1: Base Run. I absolutely love me new route to work. 1.5 miles on a trail next to a creek, 2 miles in a very scenic neighborhood. and 1 mile along the shore of Lake Washington. Awesome.
Run #2: Recovery Run. A great group run at The Balanced Athlete. If you want to run with me, come join.
Run #3: Recovery Run. Ran from Smoking Monkey Pizza to my favorite bar, Dog & Pony Alehouse. Even ran with a pizza box in my hand. Had someone ask if I was Dean K. haha, that's funny.

Friday, May 04 Time: 1:11:29 Distance: 6.44 mi. Vertical: 2,192 ft.
Base Run. I just got my ass handed to me, in the form of, "If you don't use it you lose it." My slowest ascent up to Central Peak from SR 900, this year. No being in the mountains, in almost a month, has taken it's toll on my ascent. However, my mind felt great and eager to get back at it. I'm not disappointed, just glad I only lost a minute of fitness.

Saturday, May 05 Time: 1:12:39 Distance: 8.16 mi. Vertical: 1,912 ft.
Run #1: Base Run. Easy run to work. Can't be a commute that will never have a traffic jam.
Run #2: Base Run. 1,900' of Gain. Yesterday, Squak Mtn., let me know that I had not been on her in a while. Lost a full minute on my ascent time. Today, I retaliated. Set a new PR ascent up West Peak, 0:29:10. A 37 second difference from my previous PR. I'm a bit shocked, because that's the second ascent in two days.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Soaring Eagle Half-Marathon Race Review

After last week's pacing duties at Lumberjack Endurance 100 miler my right leg had a very sore spot behind the knee. If I straightened the leg too quickly, ouch! If I touched the leg in the right spot, ouch! By Tuesday, I began to begin to write off my ability to race Northwest Trail RunsSoaring Eagle Half-Marathon. I took two days off in a row, which is exactly what I said I don't do, and it seemed to help. Stiff and sore, but not horribly bad. Put in two easy runs (Friday and Saturday), and on Sunday morning the alarm went off and I was up quickly making my pre-race (a.k.a. every morning) meal: instant oatmeal and coffee.
Facebook Comments Picture
I have some great friends. Posted this right before I left and came home
from a not really "Cake"-walk trail race to read these comments. #smile
Northwest Trail Runs' course description is pretty spot on, "...a twisty course that will keep those looking for a more technical course on their toes...The route has rolling hills that are mostly short or moderate in grade, and none of the course is very hilly by trail running standards.", but a few adjectives need to be added to describe this Sunday's course: muddy, wet, muddy, lots of turns, a few roots, and one great mid-course aid station that changed positions mid-race. Confused the hell out of me. It's surreal how tunnel-visioned I get when I'm racing. Probably not a bad thing, but it does paint a pretty picture for the reason why during training you need to slow down and taken in the scenery.
First 1/4 mile
Final turn
Northwest Trail Runs
Take a good look at that first picture. Looks like a promising vision of the trail to come, right? The next two pictures are taken in the same general area (about a 1/4 mile from the starting line). When I pulled up to the start line about an hour before the race, the early starters were getting their final briefing and getting ready to take off. My friend Jamey B., was hauling around a wheelbarrow with aid station supplies and I asked him what the course looked liked. With confidence, "Just like this." I looked down, the matted, compacted gravel looked too dry and hard-pack for trail shoes. "Good thing I brought my trusted Saucony Kinvaras," I thought. After wandering around for a good 15 minutes, Jamey B., had taken off down the trail with supplies, I chatted with a few other folks about the trail. I had seen the course map, but that was the extent of my knowledge. Race Director Herb Head, had this to say about the trail, "It's muddy." Glancing down at the cuffs of his jeans it was easy to believe him. "Uh oh. Guess I should the trail shoes back out." Slid off the Kinvaras and put on the New Balance 101's. No more changes, now, five minutes until the race start. I put in a quick 3/4 mile jog, shook the legs out, lined up and I was off with everyone else in my wake. After the race Jamey B., asked me, "Did you get my text? <Text: It's Muddy> After walking a bit further down the trail I realized it wasn't dry." Good lookin' out, friend.
The start of the free mud bath
A muddy trail race  is a great
way to exfoliate - words of advice
from my mother after the race.
How did I managed a
sub-6 mile?
One word of sound advice, in my opinion, "Run through the mud, not around the mud." Running around the mud will do nothing but extend the erosion, and slow you down. Running straight through is not only fun, but much shorter. Take short quick steps, and at all cost keep moving. Don't stop to enjoy the squishy mud slithering into your shoes. Momentum lost in deep mud is gone forever. If you don't like mud, rain, roots, rocks, hills, or the outdoors trail races may not be for you. There are risk, however. I paid my dues when I felt a wood chip, I believe, became lodged between my little toe and the inside of my left shoe:
A very fresh bloody blister
Soaring Eagle Half-Marathon
After sloshing through the mud at sub-6 minute mile pace, the course took a sharp turn, I slowed down, and the next mile was either a right turn or a left turn with minimal straights. My hips were on fire. The inside of every turn was slick and the outside was usually filled with a puddle. It felt more like an interval workout. After the slalom course, the a short uphill felt so much better than the twisty turns. The back loop of the figure-8 course was much drier and faster. My first lap was good, my second lap was much harder. The fatigue set in, but having a substantial lead, I wasn't worried, so I eased up a bit caving into the pain with confidence. Not too much, but enough that I wasn't digging deep during the back loop. Finishing first never gets old, the joy is always simple, and I'm glad I had the opportunity to get out there with everyone else. Not sure if I'd run this course any different, unless the course was much much drier. Finished up the afternoon by volunteering at the aid station until about 2 PM. Such a good idea. Good people, good racers, and a good Sunday morning. Thanks, Northwest Trail Runs.
Official Results: