Saturday, October 18, 2014

Weekly Workout Challenge for Trail Runners: Oct. 18-24

STARTING TODAY I will be posting a weekly workout challenge for Trail Runners. In most cases it will be a running based workout with the occasional cross training/strength training based workout thrown in. These workouts are designed to get you fit and fast on the trails & in the mountains. You'll have a week to do each workout. I look forward to hearing feedback. Here's this weeks, and since the week is almost over, you have this weekend and next week to complete it!

*I will include modified versions for those people who are just getting in trail shape.

Steep Uphill Continuous Run
Miles: 4-8
Elevation Gain: 2,100-3,000
Uphill miles: 2-3 (continuous)
This workout should be 4-8 miles in length. The quality part of the workout, the part that is most important to focus on is the uphill section. For this section you will run steadily at a pace you can maintain for 2-3 miles. The uphill miles should be steep, between 700-1000 feet of elevation gain per mile. Your challenge is to RUN the entire 2-3 miles until you summit the mountain.

*Modified Version:
You will run as much of the steep hill as possible using hiking to give yourself a break as needed, but try to keep the hiking at high intensity. If you are still at relatively low weekly mileage (less than 40 miles a week) you should keep this workout closer to 4 miles in length.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fastpacking the Bigfoot 200: Part 2

Easy enough: 100 miles in 3 days unsupported on the Bigfoot 200 course to complete mapping and determine exact aid station locations. I guess when I thought "It's gonna be easy" I should have been worried. I grudgingly packed 3 days of food, 80oz water, a small tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and warm clothes (wool shirt, real rain jacket with hood, extra socks, gloves)...and more. Carrying all that weight is tougher than just going out and running 33 miles a day as you can imagine. I like to travel light so I can travel faster and cover more ground, and this was more than I would normally bring.
Easy enough, riiight. Just one of those sections was 4 miles longer than the mapping program said. All sections were varying distances longer, never shorter than expected. I've learned to expect this.

I knew that I had to take this course seriously though and bring appropriate gear. First off, I was doing it in mid-October and the weather is colder and less predictable. Second, the course is VERY, I mean VERY remote. I couldn't just hitch a ride out whenever I might want or need to. If something went wrong I might have to wait days before getting help or getting a ride.
Run 200s, in my case, hike!
Due to the weight of the pack and the long winded nature of mapping trails, I ended up spending all day on my feet, moving 12-14 hours a day. Each section was longer than my mapping program had said it would be and it was just slow going since I was mostly hiking, albeit "fast" hiking. Day 1 brought a heavy downpours eventually turning into a wind storm. I was glad I brought my heavy duty rain jacket. Despite the rain jacket and a rain cover for my backpack, I got wet down to my bones. I slept fitfully and was cold most that first night. I could only hope that the rest of the trip would be drier.
A little creepy when you're 30 miles out in the middle of no where ... solo
Luckily day 2 and 3 were free of rain and it even got sunny on day 3. Day 3 brought a different kind of challenge however. I woke up and thought, I feel sick. I had felt hot and a little feverish the night before and I realized my body was out of whack. It's not that I thought that I had caught a bug-- rather I think the fever / flu symptoms were from my body being broken down from the cold, dehydration, and long days of high physical stress. At one point on day 3 I wished I could hitch a ride out as I wasn't sure I could make it the last 20 miles. There was no other option than finish, so I popped 2 ibuprofen and picked up the pace. And why not? Get done and then rest.

Shortly after finishing I met my friend Jake at a nice little brewery in Cascade Locks and he drove me to my truck which was parked out in the boonies, a whole 2.5-3 hours away from Portland. Thank the trail gods for good friends! I had planned to head back to P town after picking up my truck but I continued to feel worse. My head ached, I was racked with chilled and my face was flushed. I crawled into the back of my truck where I had a sleeping pad and wrapped myself up in two sleeping bags unable to eat even after a tough 3 days on the trail.

That night was long and painful with aches up and down my body and heat emanating from my chest and face so strong I felt like a forced air heater. I rolled around for what seemed like most of the night at some point falling asleep and finally waking in the morning when the fever had broken.

Two days later I'm feeling great. I ran a 5 mile loop at Multnomah Falls in the Gorge and literally ran the entire 2 mile 1800 foot climb up, plenty of strength and energy. I was able to finish permits for the Bigfoot 200 a couple days ago and I'm working on another surprise plus permits for the Tahoe 200. Here are some pictures from the 3 day fastpack of the Bigfoot course, enjoy! Oh yeah, just throwing out the "another surprise" bomb, ha!



This tree was ENORMOUS. Hence the caps. Much of the course goes through old growth forests and you'll see a giant like this quite often.




Me with my GPS, it's never far from my hand.

Mt Adams, one of 4 major mountains you can see from the course

Like green? There is a lot of green.



Someone wrote 2,200 on one of the reflectors for the PCT hikers heading North, apparently that's mile 2,200, wow!



Tempting






View of the Columbia River Gorge 10 miles from the finish!


Crossing the Bridge of the Gods into Cascade Locks, OR


Saturday, October 4, 2014

No Such Thing As Far Away


I'm sitting in my truck
On a quiet city street in Portland, 
Looking at your text:
A picture of your skateboard,
Pabst Blue ribbon at your feet

I'm thinking of how I'd like to see you
On that skateboard 
Making your favorite sound,
Urethane on concrete.
But there are 663 miles 
Between your board and my truck. 

In that moment, I'm frozen 
In a flood of memories, 
Trying to figure out where home is.
From behind me I hear the sound
Of urethane on concrete: 
It melts my reverie.

A man is practicing a trick 
With his skateboard 
In the middle of the road. 
The urethrane on concrete 
Sings a gritty song:
There's no such thing as far away
On a quiet city street in Portland. 

Fastpacking a New Washington/Oregon 200: Part 1


I came away from organizing the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run with even more energy and inspiration to create another 200 mile event. I felt like I could've gone either way: never wanting to direct another 200 or be enamored with the distance. Happily, it was the latter. I chose Washington for obvious reasons: it is chock full of amazing mountains and extremely varied terrain and it is my home state, so I know it very well.
Coldwater Lake
This new race course will (assuming permits go smoothly) begin near Mt. St. Helens in South Washington State and head Northeast toward Mt. Adams. Before reaching the Mt. Adams Wilderness, the course will head South and run all the way to Oregon finishing just over the border and right after crossing Bridge of the Gods and the magnificent Columbia River Gorge, in Cascade Locks, OR.
Bridge of the Gods
I have learned a lot about myself through ultra distance running and one of those things is that I continually seek to make things more difficult for myself. I say this with no judgement, it is an observation. When I envisioned a race at Tahoe I envisioned the most incredible traverse of the area that would be just one single loop circumnavigation of the largest alpine lake in the United States. The rest is history. The race was an instant success and I was overwhelmed by athletes wanting a chance to run this historic, first ever single loop mountain 200 miler in the USA.
Celebrating the finish of the 2014 Tahoe 200 Sept. 9
As I drove toward my destination last Tuesday, the start of my 3 day fastpack trip, I felt fear. Fear of night, of being alone, and fear of the unknown. I kept going fueled by something I couldn't quite understand. It was what kept bringing me out to these remote places. There is this intense sense of purpose, as overwhelming and powerful as a tidal wave, that drives me to adventure, the mountains, and to create these insane race courses. As an ultrarunner, even when I'm out in the most remote locations, I'm never really that far from civilization, even when I am. That is, unless something goes wrong. Without these adventures, full of fear and purpose, I'd rather die. So die doing them or die without them. The risk is clearly greater in not doing them.
When I get an idea in my head I cannot stop until I've accomplished it. Shouldn't be long now :)
I am hoping that my Washington/Oregon 200 miler (to be named soon!) will provide runners with yet another opportunity to run a multiday event through the mountains in a point to point traverse of some of the most incredible mountain on the West Coast. The race, as envisioned will feature Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, long exposed mountain ridge lines, dark mossy old growth forests, misty mountain lakes, roaming herds of elk and perhaps a Bigfoot or two. I'm posting a number of photos from my fastpack of the first 100 miles of the course. There will be a part 2 with photos from the second 100 miles after I fastpack it next week.

Some quick details about the new race:

Proposed race date: Aug 7-11, 2015 (4 days /100 hr cut off like the T200, but possibly a 4.5-5 day cut off depending on findings from my fastpack adventures)

Registration date: TBD, depends on permits. Hoping for Nov/Dec. What type of entry? Most likely first come/first serve (my preference), but possibly lottery if we are limited to fewer entrants.

Elevation Gain: Between 50,000-55,000 Slightly more descent than ascent according to Caltopo

Mileage: Around 215 miles. Caltopo says 200, but it's already coming out longer in the first 100 miles.

Start: Washington State, near Mount St. Helens

Finish: High School in Cascade Locks, WA

Entry Limit: Again, depends on permits. I will ask for 140 entrants and go from there.

Race will be very similar to the Tahoe 200 with 4-5 Sleep Stations, well stocked aid stations 7-20 miles apart, full medical & communications team.

ALL details subject to permitting and may change which is why I'm not getting into specific trail names.














Breeze, rain, mist, it was cold in early October! 























See the elk?