Monday, September 15, 2014

Circumnavigating Mt. Hood on the Timberline Trail

Me, wearing UD's Fastpack 20 at the beginning of my run at Mt. Hood
A quick update for those of you who are curious about where the heck I've been this past month and how my ankle fracture is doing:

(Scroll down for review of Fastpack 20 by UD and pics from the Timberline Trail)

Tahoe 200: I spent the past 5 weeks in Tahoe preparing for, organizing, and directing the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run. No, I did not run the damn race! If I get asked that question one more time heads are going to roll .... :) You cannot organize a world class event and run in it. It is my dream race, which is why I created it, but there are plenty of races for me to run that I don't also need to organize and execute. See this article for a quick race recap: Inaugural Tahoe 200 Goes Off Without a Hitch
I also recorded two podcasts with Trail Runner Nation before and after the event. Listen here:

How to be Tough as Nails We talk about the Tahoe200 and how to be tough while training for long distance events.
Tahoe 200: What if I can? I co-host an interview with 2nd place Victor Ballesteros
Celebrating the end of the Tahoe 200 with Richard Kresser (Volunteer Coordinator) and Jerry Gamez (Assistant RD)
Ankle: Since my win at Zion 100 in early April I've been injured and unable to run without pain. After a month in a walking boot in July/August and more time off from running due to general busyness organizing the T200, my ankle has healed up as noted in this post where I ran 40 miles without any pain! I am beyond excited!!
I'm keeping my ankle taped for the time being so as to not risk another sprain. 
Timberline Trail Around Mt. Hood: 40 miles, 9,500 feet of ascent

I started in the early morning hours carrying enough weight in my brand spankin new Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 to simulate my unsupported run I will be doing in October of the Tahoe Rim Trail (170 miles). Because my pack was heavy and I'm just getting back into running long I settled into a 3-6 mph pace for the route. I ran clockwise beginning at Timberline Lodge. By the end I was mostly fast hiking (still passing folks) as the trail just kept going UP, UP, UP around the South West side of Mt. Hood.

A few tricky places: The Timberline trail is relatively easy to follow without a map, especially if you are like me and have already done it once before. The sections that are tougher route finding are generally the south and south west sections that cross through glacial canyons (the larger river crossings). Generally, if you keep an eye out you can find the trail on the other side of the canyon by following rock cairns. I also try to spot the trail when I'm descending into the valley, it's always easier to spot it on the other side when you're high up. Elliot glacier/river crossing was uneventful except that I went too far up the rock cliffs after crossing the river and had to descend to follow the cairns to the trail.
Spotting the trail from the other side of the wash
The Ultimate Direction Fastpack 20 was INCREDIBLE! Wow, I'm in love with this pack. It is super light weight designed to be like a stuff sack with a roll top closure. there are plenty of pockets in the front and back including some very handy water bottle holders. I love the nice tough of having pull cords that can criss cross the back of the pack to tie everything down and keep things inside the pack from bouncing. I fit a 100oz bladder in it. Although I had 15# of stuff in the pack I had absolutely no chaffing and my shoulders and back felt great, it fits like a vest. And the thing you've all been waiting to hear: the color of the pack ROCKS! Dark green with yellow accents. Friggin Epic pack. It's here to stay.
The Fastpack 20 with drawcords holding the weight
Pictures from the trip 9/15/14















Friday, August 22, 2014

Home is where the trail goes: 3 days fastpacking on the Tahoe 200 course

I always think I'm just about there, that's why I keep going. 

To give the world your very best you cannot just give selflessly, rather you must pursue your passion all the while giving selflessly. 

I want to live somewhere I can just go into the backcountry on any whim. 

A few of the many thoughts I had at the beginning of my get-away-from-the-craziness-of-the-Tahoe -200-prep-by-fastpacking-trip.  I took 3 days, just me and my pack on the trails. I turned off my phone and turned on the world. It's like taking a crayon and coloring in the picture of your life. That's what the trails and mountains mean to me. I averaged about 30 miles a day and camped along the way on the bare ground. it was cold and dirty, but it was real and I felt alive. I loved the ache in my legs the pain of thirst and hunger and it's subsequent satisfaction. I have been so heavily involved in my race directing work that I am beginning to really crave simple experiences. To just go a month without making any lists. For now, that will have to wait until after my directing races season, basically after the Cle Elum Ridge 50k Sept. 27.

Here are some photos from my trip, including the supplies/gear I used.




In hindsight I brought waaaay too much packed seafood. Bletch. I finished the trail mix and regretted not including more snack foods. 




This was the only mountain lion I saw the entire way!



I expertly taped my ankle so as to not sprain it since I no longer have the ligaments to hold it in place adequately.























Monday, August 11, 2014

Sometimes things happen in 3's

Sometimes things happen in 3's

At the grocery store buying beer
Grabbed the Fresh Squeezed IPA
Next stop, pinot noir in the wine isle
I was reaching for the bottle
When three beers fell right though the case,
Shattering on the waxed
Grocery store floor.

Not to be slowed by acts of God
I went right back to Fresh Squeezed
This time with hand under 6 pack
Grabbed the Pinot Noir without incident
Bought the two, hunched over & coughing
Home.

Sometimes things happen in 3's:
It's been more than 3 months
My foot aching only when I run.
Like that foot was trying to tell me
to slow the fuck down. 
Each month like each beer, 
shattering on the floor.  

3 months turned into a walking boot
A walking boot turned into a cough
My cough turned into a broken rib
My broken rib finally slowed me down
Enough to write this poem.


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Friday, August 1, 2014

What Makes Ultra Runners So Damn Crazy

Here I am sitting at my desk thinking about the title to this article, which is really all I have so far when I realize looking around my office that the answers are all around me. Clearly ultra runners are passionate about running, the outdoors, and masochism but how exactly can I prove that we are in fact (as many onlookers have whispered or yelled at our backs) completely nuts? I will attempt to prove my thesis with what I think is some pretty irrefutable evidence. Please note that I think crazy = awesomeness.

We think 100 miles is not that far. A quote made famous by ultra runner Karl Melter who has the most 100 mile wins ever at 35, or is it 36 now?! He is the unofficial King of Crazy (a new tag line I think he should adopt) leading an entire army of ultra runners down the rabbit hole of what is "far"? With the recent addition of my Tahoe 200 mile Endurance Run, 200 milers are popping up like blisters on Kassie Enman's feet during the 2014 Speedgoat 50k. Will 200 milers become the ultimate ultra running test of endurance much like 100s are now?
Karl Meltzer, from Ultraspire's website.
We post pictures of our feet on social media. This is actually the biggest reason why I think we are crazy. What other social group posts disgusting pictures of their feet? In fact I think I will use this opportunity to post a couple of disgusting pictures of my feet that clearly prove how badass (crazy) I am.
Obtained in the 2012 TRT100. I actually extracted my own toenail that was hanging on by a few "threads" but had to get cut out. The toenail was popped out by a large blister underneath it. 
2014 HURT 100 nastiness
And since we brought up Kasie Enman's blisters, here's her feet post Speedgoat 50k:
From Paul Nelson Photography
We run when we should be doing other shit: prime example is me sitting here in a walking boot doing the same thing I'd do if I could run (procrastinating), only I'm writing a ridiculous blog post instead of working on all my race directing work (see pic). I think we actually differ from most shorter distance runners in this way. After all, our long training runs can last all day.
There's so much paper in my office I have to be careful not to start a wild fire. 
We have an ever growing collection of toys that are unidentifiable to most the population. Case in point, show the picture I've included below to your non-running, non-exercise obsessed friend and see if s/he can identify any of the toys. For ultra runners toys also come in the form of expensive GPS watches, clothing, shoes, running vests, hydration packs, powders and gels, and so much more. We love claiming that ultra running is cheap, but we seem to be proving otherwise with our gear obsessed approach.

We only wear running shoes or boots. Or better stated, we wear running shoes until we must wear a boot. Some of you are too careful and dare I say smart (?) to make this mistake, but for the truly crazy, we often don't realize we're doing too much or need a break until we literally break.
Please note that one of my friends signed my boot with "FINALLY" since it took me several months to actually stop running on my very injured ankle.
We think that beer is a post run recovery drink. More accurately, we think that 4 beers are a post run recovery drink. One beer is probably a pretty good recovery drink, but more than that and we're just trying to numb our body so that we can forget how we now feel like 90 year old post 50 mile race.
Eric Schranz from Ultra Runner Podcast gets excited about some beer, in this case, it looks like during a race. Photo from: http://draftmag.com/beerrunner/ultra/
 We run 100 miles for a belt buckle. That's what it looks like to most people anyway. I often get the question from non-ultra runners, "What do you get for running 100 miles?" My answer.... "uuuuuuhhh, ummm, a belt buckle?" I paced a friend at HURT 100 several years ago and he literally got through the last 2 twenty mile loops by chanting "belt buckle, belt buckle ..." as he stumbled and hobbled to the finish. Ultra runners know that we run long distances because they peel us down to our essential layers (much like a blister), they change us, connect us with a community of incredible athletes, and they give us a perspective we cannot easily gain from banal daily living. Ok, ok, ok, we're addicted. I'll stop the philosophical BS.
My 100 mile "winnings"
We enter lotteries so that we can pay for and run the most difficult and dangerous races in the world. Most people enter lotteries to win millions of dollars. We enter lotteries to run long distance races. The Hardrock 100 Endurance Run with 33,000 + feet of climbing, an average elevation of 11,000 feet and very real dangers of lightening, hypothermia, exposure, and getting lost. These dangers and challenges barely phase the 2,000+ lottery applicants who enter Hardrock each year all hoping to get one of only 140 spots in one of the toughest 100's in the US. See also the Tahoe 200, Barkey Marathons, and Badwater, all difficult and some would say potentially dangerous races that are equally difficult to get into.

Comments: What do you think makes ultra runners so crazy? 


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