Monday, April 28, 2008


The sun came out this past weekend. I know that may not mean much to non-Washingtonians, but we haven't seen the sun for months. I'm focused enough that I've been able to train through the bleak cold, gray weather, but it hasn't been all that much fun. Running has felt much more like work than a sport that I love.

All that changed over the weekend. This is going to shock you, so make sure you're seated. I got 3 days, yes I said 3 whole days, of running in nice-ish weather. Can you believe it? Well if you live in Washington, you know what a treat that was, and I took full advantage of it. Now, I don't like to go into training specifics too much, because I feel like it's a bit self absorbed to write down the details of my running week to week, but I will say that I had 3 days of good, hard running.

Friday morning began bright and early with a trip out to Squak Mountain for some uphill threshold work. The weather was quite suitable, but the company was the story of the morning. Justin Angle and Tom Ederer were the real troopers of the day. They were out there by 5:30 am to grind out a double ascent. Phil Kochik, Greg Crowther, Scott Jurek and myself opted for the late start (6:45 ish), since we were only doing a single ascent. Even though we all live in Seattle, it was the first time that we'd all come together for a run. Good times!

Saturday began less bright but even earlier. I hit the road at about 3:30 am on my way to the Capitol Peak 50 miler. I arrived just after 5am and had plenty of time to check in and put myself together for the 6am kickoff. The start was a little chilly, but the skies were clear and the sun had begun to take hold in the sky. The 55k and the 50 mile started together, which was nice for me, because I was able to run with 55k runner, John Berta. The first 10 or 12 miles passed easily chatting with John. I was feeling comfortable running with John, but I reminded myself that I was running 50 miles and I let him go to chase down the lone runner in front. From that point on, my day was spent running alone. Considering the hard 2500 feet of ascent I'd done on Friday, my legs felt quite fresh all throughout the day. I was really focused on steady eating, even to the point of forcing food down when it didn't sound appealing. I truly believe that being able to eat constantly is as much a part of running well in hundreds as just about anything else, and being able to eat a lot on the run requires training as well. Anyway fuel and electrolyte intake remained constant, and I felt good all throughout the race. Even contending with about 4 or 5 miles of snow, I was able to run 7:37 and win the race. I was quite pleased with the time and effort I put forth. It was a terrific hundred mile training race.

To cap off the weekend, I headed out Sunday morning for the SRC trail run. We ran our typical 14 mile loop, and although I started out very slowly, I felt great once I warmed up. This was my biggest weekend of the year, and I feel like I'm coming into form at just the right time. And maybe, just maybe, the weather will start coming into form as well.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Catching up

I apologize, to the two or three of you who actually read my blog, for my long hiatus from posting. Quite frankly, I haven't had anything too terribly exciting to write about. So does that mean that I'm now bursting with exciting stories? Not really. For those who may be interested, I'll just fill you in a bit on these past couple weeks.

I came down with a bit of a cold in the week following Diez Vista. I'd scheduled that to be a rather big week, but I opted to play it smart and take it easy. I did get out for a couple runs. One in particular was a run out at Tiger Mountain. The weather was fabulous highs in the upper 70's. Fantastic, right? Well it would have been except that I encountered a fair bit of leftover snow on top of Tiger 1. Rather than slog through snow up the trail to the summit, I instead chose to take the more easily navigated road to the top. What had been a great run suddenly turned into a brutal march through 2 feet of mushy snow, and that brings me to my next topic.

What the F is the deal with this much snow in April? This is crazy. Just this past weekend we were treated to a bit more. Evidently this was the latest recorded lowland snow ever in Washington. It sure feels a lot more like work when having to go out to run long in such miserable conditions. I feel like a bit of a whimp, but I've lived in Washington my whole life, and I can't remember such awful weather. I've always scoffed at the notion of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but this lack of sun is seriously bringing me down. Besides just having a harder time getting motivated run, the amount of snow on places like Rattlesnake Mountain and Mt. Si is keeping me from doing some of my key spring training runs.

This weekend I'll be running the Capitol Peak 50 miler. I'm assuming that I'll be contending with more snow down there. If I could at least catch a glimpse of the sun, it might be manageable.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A great week in Canada, eh.

Two trips to Canada in one week? I may ordinarily go two times in a year, but with Eddie Vedder playing his first ever solo show, the week was far from ordinary. For each of the past three years, the Diez Vista 50k has been the reason for one of my bi-annual jaunts to the Great White North, and this year was no exception. It just so happened that both EV's show and Diez Vista fell into the same week. With work in between, there was no choice but to make two trips across the border. Good times, eh?

Eddie Vedder played at the Centre in downtown Vancouver. It's a magnificent venue that seats about 1800 people. Being a PJ fanclub member, I was able to pre-purchase tickets to the show. However, the tickets had to be picked up at will call the day of the show. Because the fanclub tickets were randomly assigned, Andrea and I didn't know, until arriving at the venue, where we would be sitting. We were pleasantly surprised to find our seats dead center in the 10th row. Incredible!

Liam Finn, the son of Split Enz and Crowded House member Neil Finn, opened the show. He played a very inspired half hour set. The crowd seemed really into Liam, especially considering he was all that stood between them and Eddie. I must say, Liam Finn was probably the finest opening act I've ever seen. As his set closed, I felt ready to burst with anticipation for what was to come.

Hours seemed to pass as the stage crew carefully pieced together EV's simple, living room-like stage setup. Finally the lights dimmed and Eddie Vedder took the stage, armed only with an acoustic guitar. He must have played 4 or 5 songs before eventually acknowledging the crowd. He seemed, at least initially, to be a bit nervous. With each passing song, he became more and more at ease, and by the end of the night, he was even telling dirty jokes. Who'd have thunk, eh? Well the show was fantastic, and I feel so lucky to have been able to see my favorite musician in such a stripped down, intimate environment. For those of you who haven't yet, do yourself a favor and go buy Into the Wild. It's a brilliant album.

Speaking of brilliant, the Alabama Hammer and I neglected to take notice of the start time of the Diez Vista 50k. Having left Seattle at 3:45 am and experiencing a few navigational glitches, we arrived at the Diez Vista start just after 7 am. We were taking our time sorting through our race goodies when we suddenly wondered where everyone was. At 7:25, we asked the woman next to us what time the race started. I nearly panicked when she said that it started in five minutes. Cripes! How could we have missed that little detail?

Having hastily gathered our race necessities, we arrived at the starting line with only moments to spare. Race director Paul Slaymaker reminded us of the course change from years prior and we were off just like that. Whew! We had just barely made it.

Since I don't really care to go into blow by blow details of the race, I'll just give you my own abridged account. I set off at a steady clip. Having trained up to the race, my legs weren't optimally rested, but they felt pretty good. As the course transitioned from double track to incredibly technical single track, I became hyper-focused on every precise foot placement. To allow your mind to wander, even for a split second, could cost you your running career or worse on this terrain. I wiped out once, but I bounced right back up without missing a beat.

As much as I enjoy the steep, technical descents, I was relieved to pop out onto the more runnable road sections that make up the middle of the course. I was able to comfortably push the pace through the third aid station and beyond. Somewhere about half way between aid stations 3 and 4, my motivation began to slightly wane. I arrived at the 4th aid station in 2nd place, but 2 other runners shadowed me, only seconds behind.

Seeing the two other runners provided a much needed kick in the ass, and I felt a little more energized running back uphill toward the fifth and final aid station. Unfortunately I was overtaken by Gary Robbins, and as hard as I tried, I didn't have the kick to stick with him through the final few miles. I ended up 3rd overall in a time of 4:27. Even having won the race 2 of the last 3 years, this was my fastest time by over 5 minutes.

Not a bad week in Canada, eh?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Just another tuneup

I won't be lined up with all the big guns in Sacramento, but I'll racing tomorrow too. The Alabama Hammer and myself are headed up to the Great White North for some ultra fun. We'll be racing the Diez Vista 50k. It may not have the talent pool of AR 50, but the spectacular views and incredibly technical singletrack will make for an exciting time.

Like everyone else I'll be anxiously awaiting the results from AR 50. It's fun to speculate about who else will be earning a spot on the starting line in Squaw. The chic pick seems to be Anton, but there are a lot of speedsters lining up tomorrow. Anything can happen in a fifty miler. I seem to recall even Uli Steidl having a tough go at AR50. He won the race but, for the first time in an ultra, missed the course record.
Good luck to all those racing this weekend! I'll post a report here after the race.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A few random thoughts

I've been meaning to comment for a while on how much I'm in love with the new Inov 8 Roclite 295s. I've trained in the shoe a number of times now, and I've had two solid race performances in them as well. I wore the Roclite 295s at the Chuckanut Mountain 50k, and I was amazed by how good they felt on the flatter hard packed road sections of the course. I also just raced a ten miler in the sloppiest conditions I've ever run in. The course was a slippery combination of melting snow and mud on winding technical single track trail. I missed the course record by a mere 20 seconds, so that to me was a pretty good testament to the shoes.

I'm feeling pretty good about where my fitness is right now. I've got a full 3 months of structured training under my belt, and I'm starting to feel really strong. One thing that I did really well in 2006 was to train in blocks, 3 weeks on 1 week off. Last year I lost sight of that a little bit and my "easy" weeks tended to be a little too hard for a true recovery week. This year I'm definitely sticking to that plan a bit better, and if my health is any indication, I'm doing a much better job than last year.

And what would a post on my blog be without some mention of Pearl Jam? Yes, that's right. Tomorrow night I'm headed north to see Eddie Vedder perform solo at The Centre in Vancouver, BC. I'm very very excited, but I'm a little worried about my favorite songwriter. I went to see X last night at the Showbox, and Joe Doe, the bassist of X, said that they were dedicating this next one to their friend Eddie who was supposed to be there but was sick. SICK! Are you kidding me? Oh please, not now. Eddie, please just drink and pee. That's what my grandma always told me when I was sick.