Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Deception Pass 50K Race Report

A mile on the road to start out, and then everyone converges onto single track trail. The weather is a typical Whidbey day of overcast clouds, but I've seen this enough to know it's not going to rain. I run into my friend Ian, and after catching up, address the fact we are both recovering from injuries. Our shared desire to simply complete the run manifests itself in our decision to stay together near the back of the pack, at least at the start.

The first seven miles of the the run consists of a crossing of Deception Pass Bridge, three 'lollipops' around various peninsulas, and two passes through the same aid station along the beach. The views are incredible. The 'lollipops' allow for myself and others to offer words of encouragement, and receive them as we pass each other. My spirits are high, and I've completely forgot about any issues with my knee.

I loop around 'Pass Lake' and begin to pick up my pace, and pass those starting to tire after being out here for ten miles. After recently dropping Ian, I get in with another runner as we cross the bridge and head up to Goose Rock.  The sun is actually making an appearance as I run along single track trail with clear views of Cornet Bay.

The power hike up Goose Rock results in my hands on my knees, as part of group of three. We crest the top and get to a fork in the trail. Numerous runners are standing around, not knowing which trail to take, as there are pink markers on both trails. Confusion sets in, but we are quickly led down the correct part of the trail by another runner I'll refer to as 'Puff the Magic Dragon' (use your imagination, it's Washington state, and we just passed a pretty newsworthy law in the past month). At the base of Goose Rock, I follow the signs to Hoypus Point, prepared for the next 16 miles.

My Dad thinks his Blackberry takes 'fine' photos.

The remaining part of the course is two loops around Hoypus Point. The mud is thick and unavoidable in many sections, but I know what to expect after my training runs here. I push it through the first loop, and pass another couple of runners, and then start to get tired around the 26 mile marker. I throw down only my third serving of Shot Blocks on the day, and let that carry me to the finish, as I literally begin to cramp as I cross the finish line in 5:10:52, good for 18th out of the 88 that finished.

Follow to Glenn Tachiyama's Photos 

In regards to this run, I am grateful for being able to participate, and finish.

In regards to this sport, I enjoy the pure simplicity and the happiness it gives me.

Beer and Pie and Soup and Happy.

Pre-Race Food: Dinner out with Dad. Broccoli chicken with brown rice.
Pre-Race Music & Book: Stubborn Love, by The Lumineers and Unbroken
Post-Race Food: Pie. Soup. Bread. Beer. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Deception Pass 50K Pre-Race Thoughts

It's like a homecoming of sorts. After years of Whidbey Island being my 'on again/off again' home, I always cherish going back here. I ran the 25K here last year, and the first thought I had upon my finish was, 'too short'.

I've been averaging 45 miles a week, so this race will end up being my lowest weekly mile output, from a training perspective. My legs were fresh until Thursday of last week. Then my left knee started giving me some slight discomfort, so I backed off a bit with training, and eliminated road training (not that fun anyways) altogether.

I've been going back and forth on what shoes to use, and I've moving forward with the Saucony Peregrine 2's. I've been doing the majority of my miles in them, and they feel the most comfortable. They don't have the greatest grip when wet, but I do feel much more agile with them (I'll need the added agility for this course).

Other variables I'm intrigued to evaluate:
  • Fueling: Almost another subject in itself, but how does a high-fat diet work out on race day?
  • Shoes: Does the shoe choice impact speed or comfort? 
  • Knee: Does it factor into the race?
  • Course Knowledge: Does knowing, and having run the course in races and training, benefit me?
  • Training: Does the lesser amount of training miles affect me?

Finally, pics from where I've been training the most: Dash Point State Park, Deception Pass State Park, and Mt. Si.

Dash Point State Park

Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State Park

Mt Si.

Deception Pass State Park

Goose Rock, Deception Pass State Park

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What I'm Eating

I give you what I've been eating the most of, for the past couple of months.  Liberal use of spices, and probably too much dark chocolate, should be thrown in here as well.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Injinji Toe Socks Review

Blisters. Something I've never had (knock on wood). My feet get wet, my shoes get wet, and I've still never come down with any type of blister.

This review isn't meant to be any detailed overview, but rather some pros and cons that I've run into with Injinji Toe Socks. Personally, I have no plans to stop wearing these socks. I first started wearing them as they worked well with my Vibrams. From there, I never really stopped. If you want to read Injinji's overview of their socks, you can do that on their website www.injinji.com.

Picture of the original weight.

  • Personally, yet to have a blister.
  • Quick to dry.

  • Convenience - these take time to put on, due to having to fit each toe correctly.
  • Durability 
    • I've noticed this the most with the performance and original versions of the socks. The performance versions breakdown very quickly, and the original weight breakdown a little too quickly as well. The padded mid-weight seem to have the longest lifespan. 
  • Cost
    • At $16 a pair for the padded mid-weight, $12 a pair for the original weight, and $10 a pair for the lightweight, these certainly aren't cheap.

I would highly recommend these socks to anyone that doesn't mind shelling out the dough, and would personally go for the padded mid-weight, as they seem to have the longest lifespan.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

20 Days

'Check this out!'

He pulls up his pant leg past his knee, revealing a massive lateral scar, running from the middle of his thigh down to his knee (at least 12 inches long). It's an injury from a soccer game about 4 years ago. Torn quadriceps.

'I passed out from the pain! My quad completely separated from my knee. It's never the same after an injury like that. Let's take a look at you. You got boxers on? Drop your pants.'


I've recently moved out to the Western Washington area, at the request of my employer, and haven't done much running lately. I'm still nursing something funky with my knee. While it has seemed to get slightly better by the day, it still isn't at a level where I can just run on it, for as long as I feel like. Not being able to run has really made me realize how much I miss the sport of ultra-running, and most vital, how happy it really makes me.

My place has a full view of the Puget Sound. The sunsets each night are quite remarkable, but I've yet to find myself thinking 'I could get used to this'. I will hold dear my fond memories of the trails along the South Hill bluffs, where years ago I started my trail running endeavors. I've reflected on successes and failures on those trails. Focused on the past, present, and future. I will forever have memories of exact portions of the trails engraved in my mind - where I took my first fall, recounted a specific day at work, ironed out relationship mistakes, had the best view of the sunset, and most importantly, where I got attacked by an angry mom turkey.

Work is busy. Meetings are scheduled, net profit and revenue discussed. It fills my day, but I don't feel like I'm 'there' yet. Whatever, or wherever, 'there' is. I find myself concerned about all the things that work is going to do to me, that I truly don't want. Dependent on salary and benefits. Planning out the ten days of vacation a year. Fried lunches and the inevitable sickness that accompanies a lifestyle of improper nutrition. Long hours spent being busy and doing things, just to say I've been 'busy doing things'. Not enough time for running, friends, or family. 

Not running results in heightened amounts of pondering. I wonder what people are doing that makes them happy? It's election season, and everyone seems to have a extremely strong opinion on every speech, policy, and candidate. I don't understand, and I think that feeling applies to many other 'things' in life. Cars, money, clothes, dresses, social status, mass parties - to varying degrees, I don't understand. Though, running miles in the woods is not probably understood by the vast majority of the populous, and yet it gives me a indescribable level of satisfaction and happiness. Do I really need to understand the 'why' behind other's passions? No. But, I guess it interests me.

I was able to volunteer at a local trail race for most of the day this past weekend. Helping with parking, timing, and general odds and ends resulted in an extremely satisfying experience. I got paid tremendously well, but not in the direct monetary sense. I got to talk to other runners, garnering knowledge of their running endeavors. I got unending amounts of smiles and thanks from participants. Food and water were present, and frequently provided by the race organizers. I've now got two more volunteer positions set up in October. Two more opportunities to give back, to that which I love so much.


My left leg is pushed, pulled, and twisted in various directions.

'It looks good. All this, your quad, all this comes down into this tiny tendon. Isn't our maker great? I mean, that's just amazing to think. You probably just tore about 5,000 of the 54 million fibers that make up your patellar tendon. I'd give it about three weeks completely off. If it's an issue after that, come back and see me.'

So here goes 20 days of push-ups, pull-ups, and ab work.


Friday, August 31, 2012

'We All Lose Sometimes'

Recently finished Scott Jurek's book.  It's quite good, and worth a quick read.  My favorite quote is below.

We all lose sometimes. We fail to get what we want. Friends and loved ones leave. We make a decision we regret. We try our hardest and come up short. It's not the losing that defines us. It's how we lose. It's what we do afterward.

-Scott Jurek, Eat and Run

Monday, August 20, 2012

Injuries, Recovering, Relocating, Reflection.

After White River, I ended up taking about four days off, and then went out for an easy run on the bluffs.  My legs were tired, but nothing that prevented me from getting a recovery run in. Unfortunately, five miles in I tweaked my knee.  I didn't think much of it, and rested it for a couple of days, figuring it would go away.  It did, so I ran again over the weekend on Mt. Spokane with my running partner Bruce. My knee decided to really stiffen up, and I completely slowed Bruce down to the point that I was walking and he would go run down the trail and come back to me, just to keep himself moving.  Major bummer, especially because my parents were in town the next weekend, as we planned a trip to Winthrop for the Angels Staircase 60K. I rested my legs all week, the knee got better, and I tried the race, but had to drop about 30 minutes in as my knee started to stiffen again.

I rested again for four straight days, and am now back to running.  I did four and half miles Thursday and Friday, followed by six miles on Saturday. My legs finally feel like they are ready to run again - just in time for the Hood to Coast relay this coming weekend in Oregon. I'm fortunate enough to be part of a friends team, and I'm really looking forward to the team aspect of running, my first significant road run, and first night run. I also picked up a pair of road running shoes (Saucony Kinvara 3), and am very happy with them (review forthcoming).

While recovering, I can say I got extremely grumpy/pissy.  I wouldn't say I was depressed, because I'd like to believe that there are plenty of things in life to keep me from getting to that point, but I was certainly frustrated that I couldn't run. I didn't want to swim, tune-up my mountain bike, lift weights, or really engage in any other form of exercise to stay in shape. I even ordered from Dominos one night, because TV told me they had improved their ingredients. I had two pieces, felt sick, and put the rest in the garbage. 

Work is moving me out to the Seattle area, so I have started looking at places on the wet (sic) side, and more importantly, determining what will be my training grounds. Luckily, it seems there are many trail running groups out in the Seattle area, which should be fun to get involved with.

Somewhere in the midst of recovery, moving logistics, not blogging, consuming cardboard masquerading as food, and being grumpy, I decided I needed to plan for the future. Ultra-running took precedence. I needed to come up with the big races I was going to try to enter for 2013. So here is what I have so far for potential adventures:

As part of my reflection, I also wanted to re-tune my fueling. I've been doing a fair amount of reading and research into Vegan diets, and fueling on fat for races (as opposed to 'carbo loading'). I can't say I have come to any level of certainty of what exactly I'm doing, but I am moving in a certain direction. I like the thought behind using fat as fuel in races. I also want to see what happens when I lessen the amount of animal products in my diet.


Pops and Mom at Grand Coulee Dam.

How my father smiles.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

White River 50 Mile Race Report

50 miles in the woods is a long way to run and a lot can happen.  Fortunately, the White River 50 mile was probably on one of the most beautiful courses out there, and consisted of great company and fantastic volunteers.

Drive along Hwy. 410

I camp out the night before and can barely sleep. I'm too nervous. Neighbors are playing the soundtrack to Gladiator and medicating on tequila until 2 a.m. (Note to self, next time just tent camp outside the race start). I'm falling in and out of sleep, waiting for my alarm.

The race day weather is low cloud cover, with temps in the low 50's, and perfect for the start of a race.  There are lots of people at the start, more than any other run I've been to, and all look to be doing their part in trying to keep the national BMI average below 'obese'. The early starters have left at 5:30 a.m. and are on course.  I stand somewhere near the back of the pack, the clock strikes 6:30, and the day begins.

Miles 1-17
Maybe 100 yards in, I meet up with runner friend Greg. I've run with him at Grey Rock three weeks before, run with his wife at Sun Mountain, and had seen them both at check-in on Friday. I figure we'll both be running the same pace, so we decide to run together. This is nice, we talk about other things, and don't worry too much about navigating the sea of people that quickly bottle-neck when the short section of airstrip running changed to forest single track.

We power hike and run portions of the first climb, careful not to expend too much energy. We discuss life.  It's enjoyable to be able to hang out, while running, for the first two and a half hours of the race.  The climb is long, but the scenery makes up for it. Consumed in the morning fog, the trail consists of some of the most beautiful forest, waterfalls, and creeks. Sun starts to pierce through the clouds and forest as we approach where the climb begins to level off. Greg tells me to go for it if I'm feeling good, and I am, so I wish him good luck, pass a couple of people, and pick up my pace. Shortly thereafter, Glenn captures Mt. Rainier beautifully in the background as I approach the 17 mile marker, full of energy and ready to take on the day:

Inline image 1
Photo Credit to Glenn Tachiyama

Miles 17 - 27
After the aid station, I get about 3 miles to run along the ridge, following by 7 miles of downhill. There is no real explanation for what it feels like to run so much continuous downhill. While the trail is soft, the forest quiet, and the air clean, my legs are starting to let me know they would like a slight break. Without a break, my quads soon start to tire, and I found myself waiting for some sign that the Buck Creek aid station is quickly approaching. Slowly but surely, I am greeted with the murmur of the White River. Then the sounds of cars, and finally, cheering volunteers and onlookers as I approach the Buck Creek aid.  It's in the woods, and people are everywhere cheering. I'm astounded by the sheer number of volunteers and onlookers. A helpful volunteer takes my pack, and refills it. I try a potato, it's hard and uncooked, so I spit it out. I don't bother to test another, have my first swig of coke, take a salt tablet, and then a cup of water. Back on the trail, my legs are shocked that they have a short flat section, and I really don't know what to do. 

Miles 27 - 37
I walk a bit of the flat areas, going by many campsites with people that are hitting the early lunch hour. BBQ's are starting, some campers already drinking, and I'm sure a fair number of people wondering what the hell all these psychos are up to. I meet up with a couple of runners I've met in races before, offering words of encouragement, and then begin to power hike and run as the second climb begins.

At a small creek crossing, I try to rock hop, and fall into the water on my butt.  Both shoes are now soaked.  I'm slightly concerned this will lead to blisters or uncomfortable feet, but decide instead to embrace the fact my feet got to cool themselves. This is where I meet Nicole, and she offers me help but I manage to get up on my own. We then proceed to run together, with occasional breaks on the remaining miles up to Sun Top. She's a mother of three, and completely kicking ass. Her second 50 miler, she seems to be doing pretty well as we each take turns in the lead.

We get in a with a group of about three other guys, and our 'mini peloton' ascends a 4 mile stretch up to the next aid station. On a brief downhilll, one of the runners descends a short section running backwards. First time I have ever seen this, as he exclaims 'Gotta save the quads!'  I tell Nicole that I have the strongest craving for citrus, and I start thinking of lemonade, oranges, and grapefruit. After a fair amount of climbing, we begin to see balloons attached to the trees, and hear music as we approach the aid station. Jimmy Buffet is blaring, all the more reason to make this stop quick. Coke, salt tab, orange. Move.

The trail is now a steadier grade of climbing, mixed with some slight descents, and I'm waiting for the Sun Top aid. Conversation now sparse, breathing heavier, and for the first time I notice the temperature isn't as cool as the start. Pit Stop #1 makes itself known, and I bushwhack off the trail (FYI, everyone does this, it's extremely commonplace). Shortly thereafter, the switchbacks leading up to the Sun Top aid station begin to appear, and without the cover of the forest, the afternoon sun engulfs me. I'm running portions of the switchbacks, and sweat is dripping from my nose.

Inline image 2
Photo Credit to Glenn Tachiyama

Miles 37- 44
Sun Top aid consists of two cups of Mountain Dew, or in the words of the aid station volunteer 'Double Dew', an orange, a belch for the spectators, and my decision to put everything into this gravel road downhill. I'll see what I have left for the final 6.5 miles and gut it out. I pass a handful of runners on the way down. Everyone looks exhausted. The gravel road is largely without shade and exposed in the sun, but the only thing burning are my quads. I just keep thinking that the aid station is just ahead. As I level off and approach the aid station a half mile out, my bowels dictate that I need to go. I find a tree and perform Pit Stop #2.

44 - Finish
I down three mini cups of Coke/Pepsi at the Skookum Aid, have a helpful volunteer fill my pack with water and ice, and take off, happy that my bowels have now cleansed themselves. Not so, about 15 minutes in, I get the very intense urge to 'go'. I stop to walk, and the urge immediately subsides. I walk for a couple of minutes, then start running again, and immediately have the same intense urge come up. I find a tree, Pit Stop #3. I get back on the trail and start running again. I try to enjoy this part of the trail, as it borders the White River, is nothing but old growth forest, and breathtakingly beautiful. But my body is wanting me to focus on other things. The same intense urge hits me 5 minutes later, as running now results in bowel issues. I've stopped eating and drinking, engage in Pit Stop #4 and #5, get passed by way too many people, and submit to walking to the finish. I feel completely lethargic.

10:08:02 and good for 110 out of 275 finishers.

In Retrospect
The final section took me more than 90 minutes to complete, resulted in me going over 10 hours, and generally feeling extremely poor.

So what was it?  My first thought is caffeine from the Mountain Dew and Coke. I rarely drink any type of cola, but decided it looked good during the run. Dumb, and it caught up with me. Second thought is potentially too many gels/blocks and not enough water. Gels were my primary source of fuel, and I consumed more than I'm used too, along with not drinking enough water (I didn't pee a lot).  My third thought is that I just went too hard on the 6 mile downhill.  I passed some people and figured that I would just 'tough out' the last 6+ miles.  It's very hard to 'tough out' 6 miles after one has run 44 in the mountains.

I've had truly mixed feelings about this race since it was finished. I was happy to have completed the race, especially right around my goal time of 10 hours. I was happy with the first 44 miles. I didn't like how I finished. Nothing is more demoralizing than not being able to run, control ones bowels, and be passed by more than 20 people over the final miles of a race.

I'll adapt.

Bring on a 100 in 2013.

Pre-Race Food: Turkey and Rice Wraps for dinner. Strawberries and PBJ for bfast.
Pre-Race Music Book: The Enthusiast, by Charlie Hass
Post-Race Food: Home cooked meal from the Johnson residence in Fircrest.  Steaks, guac, sweet potatoes, alcoholic lemonade. Friends picking me up at the race to drive me back to their place for food, a hot shower, and a bed, means more than anything. Extremely grateful.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

White River 50 Mile Pre-Race Thoughts/Plan

I'm so materialistic.

Nervous yet excited, I truly look forward to experiencing all of the pending emotions associated from the event. I requested bib 138, among others, and received it.  My pop's number from his Ironman Canada years ago (while he was in a squadron of the same number) shall hopefully provide good vibes, and a reminder of others endurance efforts, if I get tired.

Nutrition Plan: Clif Gels and Blocks (all non-caffeinated, a couple packs of Margarita blocks for salt)  every 25 minutes, sip water every 10 minutes. S!Caps, Ginger Ale/Coke, Oreos/Chips Ahoy, and/or Potatoes from Aid Stations as necessary. Fill pack at Ranger Creek and Buck Creek aid.

Misc. Gear: Wipes in baggie, Vaseline in baggie, extra contacts & eye drops.

Run Plan (Subject to Change):
-Start easy, first climb mix in some running and power hiking, hold back if start to feel too good.
-Pick up pace at Ranger Creek aid, and then run comfortably along ridge top and downhill into Buck Creek.
-Steady run for the 10 miles to Sun Top.
-Let loose. Destroy downhill.
-Hit final aid, eager to gut it out to the finish along the flats.
-Smile, eat, poop, start thinking about when/where the first 100 miler will occur.

Monday, July 23, 2012

White River 50 Mile and Time Standards

White River being my first 50 mile, I thought I would put together a chart illustrating various time windows and the results of achieving such times. Some will run the race just to complete it, attempting to avoid the cut-off. Some will run this race as a foray into running 100's (Real Endurance , Run 100's).  Some will run this race really, really fast.  So, because everyone loves Excel charts...

** Amended, 'Probably Doping' will have to be to the <5:00:00 territory moving forward.  2012 Winner Sage Canaday killed it in 2012, with a new course record of 6:16:10.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Taper Time!

The last time I seriously tapered for an athletic event, it involved an evening spent in a hotel bathroom with a bunch of pink razors and women's shaving cream.  
I don't miss this.

It's taper time for the White River 50 mile.  I finalized my plan over the weekend, and will highlight what I'm doing, and why, below. Post-race, I'll evaluate how the plan worked out.

Sleep - Attempting 10 hours a night starting next Sunday. I'll be in bed by 8:30 every night, and wake up when my body wants. There has always been a strong correlation, at least for me, in terms of how much I sleep, and how well I perform.

Less Mileage - Obviously, this is the purpose of the taper. Having held 70-mile weeks, I'll drop down to about 40 miles this week, and then 15 miles next week.  Though, the intensity of the runs will be harder. I've read plenty on the advantages of this (less mileage, but higher intensity), and experienced some of my best swim performances when I lessened mileage and increased the intensity of workouts.

Days Off - I'll take a couple of days off this week. Then take Wednesday, and Thursday off next week.  A 'shake-out' 3 miles on Friday morning, will be nice and easy.  I'm doing a 'shake-out' run, as I've found that I never feel my best after a day off.  Thus the 'shake-out' run.

Heat Acclimatization- White River has temps that could hit the 80's. Spokane was in the 90's all last week, and my Grey Rock 50K hit the 90's. We've also had some humid days as well. I'm thinking it will help running in these temps now, as my body will be somewhat used to it.

Positive Thoughts - I'm probably more convinced of this than anything else.  Don't doubt the training and work that has been put in. Don't make last minute changes to plans, form, eating habits, gear, etc. Trust your plan. Trust yourself.

My first club coach in swimming always told me, 'David, don't screw with stuff two weeks out'.  It was a philosophy I applied in competitive swimming pursuits, and applied to my swimmers when I was a swim coach. I've seen these words be proven true over and over again. I witnessed many swimmers that would get anxious regarding a pending meet, then try to change their swimming form, buy new goggles, change a workout routine,etc. These athletes never did their best.

I was guilty of this doubt my freshmen year of college. I doubted my college coach's tapering plan. I doubted my training throughout the year. I doubted my rest (it's college, I had a roommate), my diet (college), and pretty much anything else I could doubt. I had a horrible meet, but in hindsight, an invaluable learning experience.

I'm convinced one's mind, and confidence, has to be brimming with positive thoughts preceding a major athletic event. My running partner has consistently fed me positive thoughts on our runs, and this has helped tremendously. I'm trusting my training. Trusting my taper. Trusting my ability to adapt to circumstances that present themselves. Time to enjoy the experience.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Grey Rock 50K Race Report

It's 5:15 and I'm still stuck in my white-walled, air-conditioned office.  I'm putting the final touches on some tasks at work, and I realize I'm not going to be on the road in time to get to the campground before dark.   I catch the 5:27 bus home, throw on a change of clothes, double-check my gear, and head out the door.

It's 10:30 and I've just driven through Ahtanum, WA. My windshield is covered with the evidence of the insect massacre that accompanies any summer sunset drive through eastern Washington. It's pitch black, and I'm now heading up a dirt forest road, looking for Tree Phones Campground. I'm following a van with four bikes attached to its back. After driving four miles UP the road, I start to second guess my way. I decide to turn around and head back to an earlier campground I saw (I figure I can ask for directions from someone there). Back down the road, I find three helpful campers enjoying Bud Lights and cigarettes. They let me know that the campground, is in fact, up the road I was going. However, it's about seven miles up the road.

"Why are you going up there?"

"There's a run there tomorrow"


I get back on the road, and halfway to the campground I find the same van I had been following, barreling back down the forest road. I'm now doubting that anything is up this road, mostly due to the fact this van obviously didn't stay up there. I pull to the side and roll my window down, hoping to ask the driver a question. The van lurches to a stop, the window rolls down, and a slightly large bearded man, with thick plastic glasses, sticks his head out. 

"Hi, I'm looking for the campground for the run tomorrow, are you too?"

"Run? Um, no. I'm just driving around. I just like to drive around this time of the year. I just do this for fun."

"Okay, well, is Tree Phones Campground up this road?"

"O yeah, there's a campground up the road, about three more miles.  There are people there, I'm not staying there though, I just like to drive at night, and stuff.  Uh, this is just what I do for fun."

"Okay, cool, thanks, have a good night."


SPLENDID! Who's ready to run 31 miles in the woods now??? I know I am!!  

When You Don't Have It
The race doesn't start with a gun or anything of the like. The race director simply gives a brief speech and then tells us to follow him as he starts running to the trail-head.  After five minutes of ascending the first climb, I don't like my pace, so I slow down, and roughly 12 or 15 people pass me running up the climb, and go out of sight. I'm alone. I don't know if it's the heat (already hot at the start of the race), the starting elevation (4,000 ft), sleeping in my car (I was too tired and it was too dark to put my tent out), or just being in the midst of some hard weeks of training and mileage, but I don't have 'it'.

I let everyone go on the climb and decide to intermix power hiking with some light running on the flatter sections of the climb. I also decide that if this isn't going to a good day, I need to focus on what I can control (hydration, nutrition, running form, and just trying to keep a consistent pace throughout the race). I also may just take a little longer to warm up.

Warmed Up and Warming Up
The course is an out and back of three climbs and descents.  After cresting the first ridge, which gave a beautiful view of Mt. Adams, I descend back down to the first of three aid-stations.  I think I came in around 80-90 minutes, and was surprised to see my first glimpse of any runners since the first 10 minutes. Heading up the second climb, I pass a couple of these runners right away. About halfway up, I get to another couple of runners and pass them. I'm power hiking and running the flats and feel warmed up.

Looking like a winner.

As I approach the top of the ridge that offers a spectacular view of Mt. Rainier, I get in with another runner for awhile and then the leaders of the run come flying by us after they have hit the turnaround.  I run along a somewhat flat ridge to the second aid station now feeling better.  Many of the runners that have passed me earlier are on their way out of the aid station, some running, some walking. I enjoy the views of Rainier...and notice that it's getting hot. The forecast called for upper 90's, and while it's only 10 a.m., I can tell it's going to be a hot run back.

Coming out of the aid station I know I have two downhills and one uphill.  Pure joy, as I love to run downhill.  However, a lot of this course is technical single track with lots of rocks that get in the way of my big feet. I pass by a fair number of runners now, a couple miles past the aid station, some of them walking.  

(Free Tip - someone asks me what kind of gaiters I have on. I tell them Dirty Girl, and to just Google 'Dirty Girl Gaiters'. A runner I'm with cautions to not just Google 'Dirty Girl'. Sound advice.)

I get a surge of energy on this downhill, and am able to pick up speed.  I make sure to stop at every creek and dunk my hat though, as it's getting really hot. I pass a couple of other runners about halfway down, and coast into the final aid station.  Then the final climb begins.  

I get about five minutes into this climb, and then start attempting to power hike.  Maybe I pushed too much on the downhill, I'm not sure, but I'm barely shuffling on the flatter portion of this uphill. The heat is very apparent, my legs are pooped, and my mind starts questioning everything. I just want to finish. I finally get to the top of the ridge (resisting the urge to sit down in the patches of snow at the top), drink a water bottle from a volunteer, and do my best impression of a really slow downhill run into the finish.

Look, a water bottle.

I finish. 6th place with a time of 6:22:00.  It's hot, but they have catered BBQ chicken at the end, and a creek that runs through the campground has ice cold water to soak my feet in.  I talk with some of the other runners, eat some food, soak my feet, and then head home.  

Pre-Race Food: PB and honey sandwich 
Pre-Race Music: Mumford and Sons
Post-Race Food: BBQ Chicken, Cookies, Cake, Bud Light, 7-up, Squirt. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Grey Rock Pre-Race Thoughts

I've been getting the mileage in quite well lately (60-80 miles a week, with decent long runs on Mt. Spokane and Iller Creek), and will be doing the Grey Rock 50K with nothing more than my typical day off before a race. The race should be fun, and I'm particularly looking forward to:
  • IT'S GONNA BE HOT (90+ degrees forecast, no clouds) and that should serve as some good heat training.
  • Elevation gain of 6,000 ft.
  • Great views of Rainier from the course.
  • Last race before my White River taper.
  • Free water bottle.
Camping out Friday night. Race at 7 a.m. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm a Race Snob

The e-mail from a national running club opens up to reveal numerous races over the next couple of months in my region. 5K 'Fun Runs', Community 10Ks, 'Trots', five or ten mile obstacle course runs, 25K's or half marathons, shorter trail runs, and even marathons are mentioned. The e-mail is deleted.

It dawns on me. I have quickly become a race snob. It's probably not a good thing, and makes me appear like a major jerk. These community, and shorter runs, are good fun and would have plenty of people that would leave me in the dust. But they don't feel like they fit me.

Upon finishing the Deception Pass 25K in December, I was hit with the strangest feeling.  I wanted more.  I wasn't tired enough, and ultimately thought the race was too short. The same feeling hit me after my Beacon Rock 50K.  I want more. I want to do another loop. I am tired, yes, but I don't feel like I've completely explored all my limits. 

So, I'm now a little more than 30 days away from White River 50 mile. I wait in eager anticipation. I can't get the thought of the race out of my head.  I want to experience the Buck Creek aid station and beyond. I want to see what it feels like at the end of 50 miles.
White River 50 Course Elevation Profile

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hydration: Bottles or Packs?

Bottles or Packs? Packs or Bottles? Both? I decided to put together a list of the things I've found most noticeable, in terms of the pros and cons of each.

Handheld Bottles
Pieces of one of my handhelds.

I've been loyal to my handheld bottles for some time.  They've taken me through many runs, both 25K's and 50k's.  I've specifically utilized the 20oz Amphipod handhelds, which feature an ergonomic design and a pouch where you can store a couple gels or keys. In races, I've used two bottles at once, and have also used just one.  This usually depends on how hot it is, and how far apart the aid stations are.  I use bottles consistently in my training runs, as weekday runs are in usually between 1-3 hours.

  • Quick to refill at aid stations. Unscrew top, fill 20 ounces, screw top on, go.
  • Flexibility with handling (one bottle). I can switch hands, hold different ways, and place the bottles in the back of my shorts if I want to free my hands.
  • Flexibility with filling. Fill with water between aid stations, switch to electrolyte drink at the next, and move to soda the next.
  • Two bottles become heavy on my arms after awhile, and slightly annoying.
  • Noticeable difference, for me, between a full bottle, a half-full bottle, and empty bottle. That also applies if the pouch has gels in it or not.
  • Spouts stick (Amphipod only?) and I have to bite down to open and then pound them closed. Not dentist approved.

Conclusion: I don't mind bottles, especially the Amphipod, for training runs less than 3 hours.

Hydration Pack
In my quest to improve my times, a friend passed along this article to me recently, and the analysis certainly shifted me to entertain running with a pack.  In short, the study examines the impact on performance if you've got the option to run with two bottles or a pack.

As well, I'll be running the Angel's Staircase 60K in August, and the race requires runners carry two bottles or hydration pack, hat, gloves, and jacket.  A pack seemed like the best option considering I had to carry all of these things, but may not end up using them. Otherwise, I need to be carrying a fanny pack, along with two bottles.

I just recently purchased the Ultraspire Surge, and used it in the Beacon Rock 50K last week.  The pack utilizes a 70oz bladder (vs. 40oz if you're carrying two bottles), has multiple compartments to store everything from electrolyte pills and gels, to larger  items such as a hats/windbreakers/bear spray. I normally keep gels in one pocket, Clif Shot Blocks in the next, electrolyte pills in a nifty electrolyte pocket, and then contacts/wipes/socks in some of the back pockets. This still leaves me with room for some more stuff as well.

I personally found the pack to be quite comfortable. Maybe the best way to describe this is to think back to high school and carrying books.  If you have to carry one book here and there to class, its not that bad, and your arms don't get that tired. You make multiple trips to your locker, and move along.  Two books also requires trips to your locker, and your arms probably get a little more tired.  But if you have to carry your books by hand all day, you're going to wish you had a backpack.  That's how I view the difference of the pack vs. the handhelds.
Back of Ultraspire Surge
Front of Ultraspire Surge
  • Hands are free to stop from falls, grab a gel and go at aid stations, or give high-fives mid-race. Either  way, having free hands is quite comfortable.
  • Easier to carry more stuff. I don't feel the need for a drop bag or fanny pack. 
  • Easier to move through aid stations.  During my last race, I only stopped once to refill my bladder.  The rest of my aid station stops consisted of grabbing a S! Cap, Gel, and then a cup of Ginger Ale.  Probably in and out in less than 15 seconds.
  • Water level difference wasn't annoying.  This may be due to the fact the weight is distributed over the back, but I simply didn't get annoyed by an empty bladder compared to a full bladder.  
  • You're carrying extra weight with full bladder and slightly full pack.
  • When you have to fill up, its going to take a little longer.
  • If you like the being able to go shirtless, its probably harder to take off a pack and then put it back on, and I can't speak to chafing if that decision is made, because I have yet to wear this shirtless.
Conclusion: I'll be utilizing the pack for long races, and long training runs. I like having my hands free, more than anything, and also enjoy not having to fill up but every four hours or so. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Wild Turkey Vengeance

Not this, calm yourself.
In the midst of run on the South Hill Bluff trails yesterday, I got the pleasure of experiencing my first 'animal attack'. Which means nothing more than I got charged, by an angry wild mother turkey.

I think I'm semi-prepared for bears and other animals. I carry bear spray when running on Mt. Spokane. I've read what to do if you see a moose, or handle a rattlesnake bite. I know to check for tics.

But I have no idea what to do as I round the corner of a slight downhill, and 15 feet in front of me is mother hen leading a bunch of Thanksgiving Day 2013 dinners across the dirt trail. The bird starts squawking and batting her wings and runs a couple of circles around her young. She then comes at me doing the same. I throw my hands up, start talking to her and start slowly backing away. She retreats, keeps squawking, and follows her kiddies and another large bird (Dad?) up into the woods. I then decide to continue my run.

I have no idea if what I did was right. I read online later that you can run, or chase a bird away with a stick, and that while they may attack, they are pretty harmless. My plan if she got close enough was to just try and punt her through the uprights of a couple of nearby trees. In hindsight I might just turn around next time and run away, or grab a nearby stick and defend myself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Beacon Rock 50K Race Report

I'm going to write a slightly unconventional race report for this run, as much as a story would be great, it didn't seem to play out that way (at least in my head) for this run.

To summarize, the run was a loop course through Beacon Rock State Park. 25K runners do one loop, 50K runners do two.  An extremely fun course, that I would do again in a heartbeat.  It was a perfect mix of everything I love about trail running: gradual climbs, steep climbs, wide open double track, narrow single track, technical single track, 'runable' single track, rocks, roots, creeks, forests, views, plenty of extremely fun downhill, and then the smallest amount of road just to remind me why I find very minimal pleasure in running on pavement.
I ended up with a time of 5:44:24, good for 11th place.

Heading up the second climb, there is a runner about 50 yards in front of me.  They turn right to go down the trail at a T-intersection.  I get to the intersection and notice there is marker directing me to go left. I pause, and it sets in they have gone the wrong way.  

"Wrong way!"

No reply, and no movement down the trail from what I can see. I run down the trail - the wrong way (the way they went, about 100 yards).


No reply. I can't see the runner, and I'm bellowing at the top of my lungs. I look up the trail to notice a couple of runners have now passed me and headed up the trail the right way, and decide that I've done my due diligence.  I feel bad, but get back to running, as the runner will soon enough realize they have gone off course.

Heading up the second loop, after the 15 mile turnaround, I see said runner.  They are wearing headphones/earbuds.  

Conclusion: If you're going to wear earbuds on a trail race, it's my opinion to either keep one in and one out, or keep them at low volume. And don't, for any reason, wear noise cancelling earbuds. I don't wear earbuds, as I like to hear the sounds of the forest and things around me.  I think it's part of the experience, to listen to everything around me.

A majority of the first 15 miles is spent running close by a man and his husky (or other big breed of dog that strongly resembles a husky). The dog is extremely well behaved, and does its share of passing me at points, and then allowing me to pass it at points.  The man was slightly behind me at the 15 mile turnaround, and ending up leaving his dog at that point to do the next loop alone.  The dog obviously paced him well, as he passed me halfway up the 3rd climb, and I never caught up to him.  I heard him mention at one of the aid stations that she would drink from the streams and creeks during the run to stay hydrated.

Also, a girl finishing the 50K came in with her husky leashed to her backpack.  How cool is that?

Conclusion: This made me want to get a running dog.  Not a little yappy dog. Not some cute lap dog. Not a crazy dog. Rather, a dog that has no problem training up to do the occasional 50K with me.  

My fueling for this race went extremely well.  I consumed some sort of gels, blocks, or soda every 20-30 minutes.  I drank every 10-15 minutes.  I took in 3 S! Caps throughout the race as well.  I never got double vision, never had stomach issues, and felt entirely level-headed the entire race.

Conclusion: Discipline and education are essential in fueling. I'm learning more about hydration, nutrition, and overall endurance. With that, my body and training are adapting.  I've yet to encounter any major problems with food or stomach issues, and I completely attribute this to discipline with my diet, especially during a race.  It should be interesting to see how things go in my first 50 mile race.  My understanding is that when you get to the 50 and 100 mile events, proper fueling is something that is a much more vital aspect of the race.

Do Work
Poop happens. I've been carrying handi-wipes, and realizing if I gotta go, its alright to go bushwack into the woods for a couple of minutes to feel immensely better for the rest of the race.  That said, I didn't have to go during the race, and slight urge only came when I was pounding the final downhill.

Conclusion: While it could be the result of high fiber diet, or consuming too many calories during the race, I would rather have enough fuel and energy during a race, with the drawback being I may have to take a bathroom break here and there. 

I'm going to post further on this later in the week, but this was first run in my new Ultraspire Surge and not with my Amphipod Bottles.  Suffice to say, I liked using the vest much more than carrying bottles.  It felt much more comfortable to have my hands 'free'.  The pack was very light, and I really didn't notice a difference whether the H2O bladder was full or empty.  As well, it made it extremely convenient to carry my gels and other various things in my pack with me, and not have to carry anything around my waist.  Again, will post on this further in the week.

Conclusion: I really enjoyed running with a pack compared to water bottles.  I hardly even realized the pack was there, and I will certainly be using it in future races.

Pre-Race Food: PBJ and Apple
Pre-Race Music: Limited to a couple of Chevelle Songs. More reading, as I finished off Vince Flynn's Kill Shot
Post-Race Food: Apples, Cookies, Potatoes, Chocolate Milk, Bridgeport Hop Czar

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Montrail Badrock Review

I bought three different pairs of shoes last week to try out.  I'd recently had some blister issues with my the Vasque Mindbender due to what I think is a very straight last, and toe box that is fairly hard and doesn't allow my toe's to expand as much as I would like on my long runs.  I wanted to check out three shoes from Montrail, because I've generally read good reviews on their shoes.

Montrail Fairhaven - I immediately shipped this back, as it was way too narrow in the forefoot and toe box for my wide feet.  I didn't run it, and so I'm not reviewing it. I wouldn't recommend this shoe to anyone with wide/high volume feet. 

Montrail Masochist II - This shoe felt alright, and I have heard nothing but good reviews on it.  I probably would have kept it, ran in it, reviewed it, and not shipped it back, if it wasn't for the fact that I got the Badrock. 

Montrail Badrock Review - (If you want all the specs for the shoe, go to Montrail's website and take a look.  Now for my subjective review.)

Right out of the box, these shoes were very comfortable. These shoes do a great job of accommodating (probably made for) wide or high volume feet, particularly in the toe box and mid-foot.  The shoe features variable width lacing, so you can customize the fit as well.  This worked well for me, as I have a fairly narrow heel that likes to be locked down in a shoe, while allowing for splay of my forefoot and toes. This shoe did just that.  

The grip worked really well on a 25 mile run I did around Mt. Spokane this past weekend.  I ran over some technical trail, rocks, mud, snow, and some road.  The shoe held up well and really was a nice mix of cushion and support.  I can tell the shoe has only a partial rock plate (compared to a full plate in the Mindbender) and actually preferred it that way, as it felt less stiff. The shoe was also quick to dry, which is nice because I can't stand carrying extra weight around after running in puddles or rain, or sinking into some snow.  

I've put runs of 12 miles, and then 25 miles in it so far.  The only question I have about the shoe is really my own issues with sizing.  I like to carry plenty of room in the toe box, so that I can bomb downhills not having to worry about my toes cramming into the front of my shoe.  I get this on the right side of my big toe of my left foot, and it's purely a personal preference for my feet.  My feet are wide, and I'm picky.  That said, the toe box protector 'gives' much more than the Mindbender's toe box, and so I didn't end up with a blister.  I may size up to a 14 for racing...we'll see.

Bottom Line:  Montrail Badrock is a great cushioned, support, trail shoe for those with wide or high volume feet.  I highly recommend it.  This will most likely be my White River, and default race shoe.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Adding to the Shoe Repertoire?

After using my Vasque Mindbenders for much more mileage lately, I've noticed my big toe seems is not getting the room it needs to expand on the medial side of the toe box.  I think this is either due to the Mindbenders straight last, or the fact I just have fat toes and no toe box can contain them.

I have found some trail shoes from Montrail that all employ a semi-curved last, and I'm going to see how those all end up performing.  Orders have been placed through Amazon and Running Warehouse, and arrive this week.
  1. Montrail Masochist II
  2. Montrail Fairhaven
  3. Montrail Badrock
The Mindbender had done an exceptional job of transitioning me into 'real shoe' footwear (Vibrams are not real shoes, according to the majority of people). I'm hoping that at least one of the above shoes fits the bill, potentially for when White River comes along in late July.  I'll post some reviews on these suckers once I get the chance to run on them later in the week and into the weekend.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sun Mountain 50K Race Report

I get a a forest campsite slightly north of Mazama, Saturday afternoon. I'm set up by a creek, completely out of cell phone service. Peaceful, quiet, and surrounded by the beauty of the Methow Valley. I'm sure there are words to describe it, but I'd rather just throw in a photo.

Does this need a caption?

The 50 milers started early, and the 25 and 50K's go at 10:00 a.m. My initial goal is to take it slow from the start, but there is a bunch of single track at the start, and the last thing I want to do is end up behind the handful of overzealous 25K runners who start to burn out 3 miles in on the single track (pretty much me, two years ago). Get in with the top quarter of people or so? Sure.

I push it to get by some people that aren't moving too fast, but fast enough, and settle in. Thus begins a climb to the first aid station that is a gentle uphill, but I'm able to run it. What a difference a year makes, as last year this climb killed me. So I maintain a steady climb, and don't stop. One guy, sans waterbottle, and a lot of hair, comes roaring by. Regardless of the race he was doing, he was moving. I can't help but wonder how one gets that fast.

I stay with a runner for awhile and we have some good conversations on ultras. How to train for 50 milers. The Western States 100 lottery. Training plans. Long runs. Back-to-Back (B2B's) long runs. I eventually leave her about a mile before the 8 mile aid station, and at this point I'm starting to feel a comfortable groove. Fill up at the aid station, grab a gel, back to some flat forest road peppered with cars, families, volunteers, and kids. I make sure to give some kids high-fives, because it reminds me to keep this fun (and I'm a dweeb). As these races progress and people spread out, I'll have plenty of lonely running, so I try to take advantage of the populated parts when I can.

Running Tip: Carry a handful of these in a plastic bag for EVERY RACE. You'll thank me later.
I have got to go. Not go fast, but go. Last aid didn't have a porto. I'll hold it to the next aid, maybe they'll have one there? Downhill begins. I like downhill. Bowels don't like downhill. This may have to happen sooner than later. More downhill. I'm starting to pick up my speed. This probably needs to happen at the next fork in the road. I'll go down the trail when theres a fork, head the way you're not supposed to go, find someplace serene to do work. I'm content with plan B. More downhill. Crap. This has got to happen now. Thick forest single-track, and nowhere with an easy exit. Can't wait. I pull an immediate left into some less dense forest, bushwack about 30 or 40 yards through some shrubs, find a tree, and do work.

Back on the course. I cruise into the second aid station at mile 17 and I'm feeling pretty good. My legs are the least tired they've ever felt at this distance, and I'm happy about that. I'm saving them for the Patterson Lake hill climb over the last 6 miles. There's a brief climb up to Sun Mountain Lodge that involves some power hiking, and eclipses to the roar of the lodge's air conditioners and fans. I run through the parking lot, and have a couple guests tell me I'm crazy. (My stay last night was 12 bucks and I fell asleep to the sound of a creek. Yours was how much?)

Cloudy, but pretty nonetheless.

Nothing interesting is happening now. Legs are doing alright. Stomach is fine. The course is rolling. I'm rolling. Plenty hydrated, as I'm still sweating hours in. Eating enough. One guy passes me after mile 20, but he's moving so fast there is no way I'm catching up to him. Time to enjoy the gorgeous views of the Methow Valley. It's me versus the clock now.

A patch of dirt road and then the final aid station before the climb. I meet up with someone I met at Yakima Skyline, who is doing the 50 mile, and we get the time from a volunteer. 6 minutes to 2:00 p.m. I've got 66 minutes to run a little over six miles. About half is all uphill, but I think its only slightly over 1,000 ft of climbing. My legs are tired, but I want it. I want to break five hours. Bad. Water filled, gel gulped, and two salted potatoes down the hatch. Move.

Patterson Lake Hill? I'm not sure of the name, but we ran up and down it.
The last half mile.  My legs are toast now. As they should be at the end. I'm happy with it, I've run my race the right way for once, not overexerting myself too early, and just now getting dead legs. Pushing with all I've got left, through the trees I can now see spectators and some giant blue inflatable thingy. The finish. I'm happy with what I've done. The clock comes into view.


I've just missed breaking the five hour barrier. Crap. I mean that quite literally. It was the crap. If I hadn't crapped, potentially would have broken five hours. I finish with a chip time of 5:00:12 and good enough for 12th place. I shake the Race Director James Varner's hand, and thank him for the good course. I wish I could say more. Like how much I appreciate what he does, how much I love this sport, and what it's meant to me, but every breath is precious at the moment, and I'm slightly discombobulated. Moments later I sat down with some running friends, had beer and pizza, and got back on the road. Content.

Pre Race Meal: Apple (FIBER), Two Granola Bars (FIBER), Almonds (FIBER).
Pre Race Music: Funeral for a Friend, Saves the Day, Chevelle, Bush, Finch, Chemical Brothers.
Post Race Food: Pizza, M&M's, Pale Ale from Methow Brewing.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sun Mountain 50K Pre-Race Thoughts

Third year in a row going to Sun Mountain. I'm better trained this time, but I won't be running with a taper. My goal is to pace this run more than others, with the intent of an even split.

I don't plan to engage in some restaurant-food-fueled, hotel-room-bed, pre-race stay (as I have in the past). I'm heading out Saturday morning, and I'm taking the first forest camp site I can find near Winthrop/Mazama. I've got my tent, sleeping bag, pen, paper, and a couple books. Total independent hippie camping trip. 

I've had a bunch of thoughts swimming through my head recently. I think part of me expects these competitions to clearly sort everything out. In reality, I'm probably going to end up tired, ready to scarf pizza, wash it down with a IPA, and get back on the road.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Training Checkup

Empty a day later. Crap.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote down some goals and observations of my training. I figured I would elaborate on them in this post.


1. Increasing mileage
45 mile weeks were the norm, and that wasn't going to work. 70 miles a week will be the consistent bar now. Throw in the weekly 'long run' of 20-30 miles, preferably with at least 4,000 feet of elevation gain, and then reevaluate fitness level in three months.

2. Diet adaptation
Fundamentally, eat minimally processed, real food. From there, I know my way around a kitchen. Pots, pans, cutting boards, and knives all get daily usage. My diet has never been much of an issue, but it does need adjusting and I know how to do it (and make it taste good at the same time). Slightly less protein, slightly more vegetables and carbs, but maintaining consistency on my fruit and fat intake.

3. Lowering body weight
Currently getting low-ball offers on Craigslist.

Specifically, muscle mass in upper body. I used to wear a 42R. A year ago, it was a 38R. I wore said 38R to an event this past weekend, and it was slightly too big. So I'm making progress in this area, but still have potential to shrink.

Sets of cleans, dead lifts, and snatches are no longer done once to twice a week, as they were five months ago. I now do one or two 20-30 minute sessions of light weights and core exercises as my cross training (all high repetitions).

4. Pacing 
I am the king of going out between 2-3 hours, and then coming back in 3-4 hours for my 50K's. There is no excuse for this. It's not like I'm getting a flying dive off a block. It would be quite the experience to run something closer to an 'even' split in my next race.

5. Walking speed
I have not practiced, and certainly not perfected, my walking pace. It will take some serious work, as when I tend to walk, it's slow and plodding. The ability to walk up hills briskly, and efficiently, is invaluable. This will be incorporated into training.

Potential Issues

1. Improving Baking Abilities (see photo at top of post)
Sugar. Flour. Butter. Oats. Peanut Butter. Chocolate Chips. Cinnamon Chips. Raisins. Baking Powder. Salt. Eggs. Vanilla Extract. Milk. Cinnamon.

All the above are in my pantry and fridge. Various ingredients combined in various proportions to produce more than the sum of their parts. This could become a problem.

2. Injury
Tripping over my own feet? Overuse injuries that I haven't had yet? You just never know.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring Running in Spokane

The majority of my spring training runs in Spokane occur on three main trail sites.  The South Hill Bluffs are full of blooming wildflowers.  Riverside State Park has it's raging river from all the snow melt.  Iller Creek Conversation Area (my elevation training run) has now seen the snow melt, and offers great views from the 'Rocks of Sharon'.  

Wildflowers blooming on the bluffs.

Evening run on the bluffs.

Riverside State Park, Bowl and Pitcher area.

'Big Rocks' or 'Rocks of Sharon' looking out on the Palouse.

Another view of the rocks.

Rocks are part of the Iller Creek Conservation Area.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feats of my Feet

I have fat feet. I have flat feet. I have voluminous feet. I have size 13/14 (depending on manufacturer), wide feet. I have fins attached to my legs. Lets look at a picture of these suckers (soda can for perspective).

With that established, it's story time.

My foot issues started in grade school.  I specifically remember a trip to Foot Locker, where a referee-jersey clad sales associate explained to me how tall I was going to be, when I grew up.  He sized me for a pair of basketball shoes and proclaimed how I was going to grow into my feet and at least be over six feet tall. I walked away ecstatic. Smile brimming from ear to ear. Would I play for the Sonics, Lakers, or Bulls?

I'm currently 5'10 at 28 years old.

Feet in Swimming 

I decided to pick up this running thing about three years ago.  Being a former high school and college swimmer, I was not used to footwear of any kind for athletic endeavors.  Swimmers utilize fins for potions of some workouts, but I didn't use them on a daily, or even consistently, on a weekly basis.  When I did use fins, I was scrounging around for the sole pair that were built for size 13-14 feet. Often times there were only a pair or two of those, and usually being occupied by the over 6 ft teammate, who had feet that were much more proportional to height.

If there was any reason I was competent in swimming, it was surely due to these babies. My feet were/are perfect for sprints. I've got big built-in flippers that generate a tremendous amount of power when asked for a swim.  Don't think so? Ask Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps also has large feet (size 14).  He's got a couple of gold medals.

By the way, you know how tall he is?  SIX FOOT FOUR.

Point: In swimming you don't worry about your feet that much.  You work with what you got, and spend more time doing things swimmers do (blog post coming on that as well).

Feet in Vibram Five-Fingers

Shaped like my foot, and comfortable.

A lot is made of 'transitioning to barefoot footwear' in the running community.  Most runners are used to these cushioned, high heeled shoes, they have been wearing for some extended period of their lifetime. I'm not used to wearing anything on my feet.  The Vibram Five-Fingers mimic what I'm used too, and are extremely comfortable. I'm used to naked feet.

The transition to running in Vibrams felt the most natural for me. Not only do they accommodate my wide, flat, fin-shaped feet, but they also promote good running form. Vibrams have absolutely no heel, therefore, I found I was forced to land on mid foot, and shorten my stride.  After a short transition into them, I'm now comfortable taking these out for training runs of up to 20 miles, but 12 is normally the limit.

Point: I wear Vibrams because they are comfortable, fit my wide feet, and promote good running form.

Vasque Mindbender (Wide)

After running the Gorge Waterfalls 50K, I knew I needed a shoe with cushion.  I managed to rack up more than $1,000 in charges between Zappos (free returns) and Running Warehouse (free returns) to try and find that ideal shoe.  After many tests to no avail, I came upon the Vasque Mindbender, size 13 wide, on Amazon.  Fit like a glove.

The shoe has a fairly roomy toe box, wide mid-foot, and fits my flat feet with a very minimal arch.  It has superb toe protection for when I boot rocks. It ate up the rock infested Yakima Skyline Rim course, and I only came out with one blister on my big toe. Probably should promote Injinji socks as well, as they are my default socks for any type of run.

Point: When you run 20 or more miles on the trails, you need cushion, and protection.  This shoe does just that.

Perfect Shoe

While these shoes both serve specific purposes, the search will always be on for the 'perfect shoe'. While both the Vibrams and the Vasques are good shoes, they don't meet every requirement to be the 'perfect shoe'.  So as request to any manufacturers out there that would like to create a shoe specifically for me...

Things I care about:
  • Anatomical Fit
  • Wide Mid foot
  • Wide Toe Box, plenty of room for toe splay
  • 'Lock-Down' Heel
  • Low arch
  • 8 ounces max
  • 6 - 10mm drop
  • Lugs that provide serious traction
  • Cushion meant for ultras
  • Quick Drying
  • Toe Protection
Things I Don't Care About
  • Color 
  • Name