Sunday, December 11, 2011

Week of 12-5-11; Round 2 of Wilson 20 miler

This week has been a busy one as always; but for some reason there has been more stress and late nights preparing lessons and grading than usual. As a result, it was a week of little sleep and lots of coffee.

Monday: 7 mile run with coworker, Joe T., and a freshmen who is probably going to tear it up in a couple years.

Tuesday: 6 miles at the Deer Flat trail by Lake Lowell. Ran in a new trail shoe, the La Sportiva Wildcat's, and did 6x2 minutes at 5k effort through the hilly section on that trail.

Wednesday: 3.5 miles from Skyview High School to the Wilson Ponds and back. This was a much needed recovery day.

Thursday: 5 miles at the Nampa Rec Center. 1st mile was a warm-up and then I progressively got faster until I was running about 6:30 per mile. This actually felt pretty good and I was wearing the Wildcat's again to try and get used to them.

Friday: Day off!

Saturday: 20.3 miles around the Wilson Creek trails on the Frozen 50k loop. This time around it was a bit colder and it was just Tony Salazar Jr. (aka Fast Tony) and myself that were running together. There were probably about 40 people out there running various distances. The director of the Foothills Frenzy 50k was out there with an aid station set up for people running the 10 miler and the 20 miler. I also found out that Joe T. was out there running, although I never met up with him.
The 20 mile loop never gets easy, but I can definately say it was easier this week than 3 weeks ago. When I combine that observation with the fact that I ran 8 minutes faster in colder weather I felt pretty good about the whole run. Fast Tony wasn't feeling the greatest physically this week so when we hit the big descent section he hung back and I just went with what felt good. It was a very fun day out there, although I can't imagine running 10 more miles when I finish the 20 mile loop on January 21st. It will definately be a test of my limits and mental fortitude.
I mentioned it was colder this week, I saw temps as low as 11 degrees F while driving to the trail. The cool thing was, the run happened to fall on a night with a full lunar eclipse, and that eclipse happened right before we took off on the run. It was really quite amazing!
Running up the trail in the dark was pretty cool. I look forward to doing this again soon.
Standing on top of Wilson Peak for the 2nd time in 3 weeks. It never gets "easy" but it was easier this time.
There are some really cool rock formations on the way down from the summit. I snapped this one, and the one below of Fast Tony right before we split up for the day to run our separate paces. Sunday: I haven't made it through today yet, but most likely I'll take one of the kiddos out for a ride in the jogging stroller or take a good hard nap. Not a bad way to end a week.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"The Devil's Treadmill"

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go out and run the Wilson Creek Trails with a few people on the Boise Trail Runners Facebook group. Emily Berriochoa organized the event, and the loop chosen was the first 20.5 mile loop of the 50K I'm taking on in January. Anytime there is an opportunity to run with a group I like to join in, but I was a little apprehensive about taking on this loop this early into my training for the 50k. I realized that if I went I wouldn't be able to push too hard and I might be pretty flat coming off that effort for the week to come. Regardless, I decided to head out and see how the day went. Walking was something I knew I may have to do, and as I found out, there's nothing wrong with that when your training for a very difficult ultra.
Emily set the run to start at 7 am and with the early start and the usual November weather here in Idaho, the temps were cold but bearable. Standing around at the beginning while runners do what they normally do before a big run was a bit chilly, and as a result I probably wore a bit too many layers for the run. No matter; carrying more weight than I will in the race will prepare me to run faster when the time come.

As we got started, it wasn't long until Tony Salazar and I were off on our own and working our way up the first hill. Up ahead we saw another runner (Dallas) who waited for us and the three of us ran together for another mile until the first "real" hill of the loop. The trail goes through a small little canyon at the beginning. The scenery right through here was amazing, but it was still just a little too dark to get a clear picture. As the three of us power hiked the first climb we were joined by Ryan Lund who hustled to catch us so he knew where to go. This addition gave us a group of four which we held together until the end of the day. The picture below is the view shortly after topping out the first climb and moving up and across the plateau.

The route goes gradually up to around mile 4 where we got a short break on a descent and then goes up again on a 4wd road to a faint trail that drops down to the main Wilson Creek Road. This was a fun little descent and I'm looking forward to running this specific section again in the future. Meanwhile, the temperatures were playing tricks on us. Coming up the 4wd road we faced a stiff headwind bringing cold air down from up high, but when out of the wind on the sunnier side of the terrain we were overheating. Nevertheless, the temperatures were still brisk enough to freeze the bite valve on my Nathan HPL 020 hydration pack and give Dallas some interesting hat ornaments.Rejoining the main road, our pace turned very casual as we worked our way gradually up to the 4wd trail that takes you up to the saddle between Wilson Peak and Soldiers Cap. The road was nice and frozen so the footing was great and we had an opportunity to down some calories and get some much needed dihydrogen monoxide down (sorry, I'm a science teacher and had to throw that in there...). Tony Salazar informed us that Pop-Tarts were his food of choice during long runs and I must admit that they sounded pretty darn good at the time. I sucked down some nearly frozen Hammer Gel, took a couple Endurolytes, and ate my first of 3 Nature Valley dark chocolate granola squares. The only thing I may add to my race day nutrition would be some Perpetuem early on and some Heed later on in the run. Hammer stuff works very well for me, I tend to not use enough of it in most cases though.

When we finally turned towards Wilson Peak on the 4wd trail that goes up to the saddle, we chatted and tried to get to know each other a bit better. Dallas told us how he trains and if my wife thought I was a serious runner, she should listen to his 2-week training cycle, wow! He has also done about 10 ultras if my memory serves me correctly, in between being a science teacher as well and living in Germany for 10 years. Ryan was no slouch either, having a resume filled with marathons and the occaissional Ironman triathlon. This 20 mile run was part of his "taking it easy" this fall. And of course there is Fast Tony who has an extensive ultra background which includes running the Sawtooth Relay (same race I did with 6 people) by HIMSELF! I quickly found out I was in some very good company and I resolved to absorb as much knowledge I could from these much more experience runners.
(Heading up towards the saddle near Wilson Peak, the round dome in the center.)

The final push towards the saddle gets a bit steep, and with some snow covering the trail we took another walk. I have a few pictures of the group walking, but only a couple of us running that are blurry. We were just moving along too fast for me to get many great running shots, so when we hiked up the hills I made sure to get a few more shots.
Dallas and I were chatting away as we moved on from the saddle to the spur trail that takes you from the 4wd trail to the Wilson Peak summit which is about 13 miles into the 20 mile loop. Looking back down after we reached the top gave a great view of the wintery scene behind. The beauty of the following picture hides the fact that there was a stiff wind up on top. However, the view was well worth it...
(Previous shots are all from the summit at Wilson Peak.)

Freezing in the cold wind, we decided to book it down and start the grueling descent off the back side of the mountain. Arriving back at the saddle we met up with another Tony, Tony Huff. This Tony was making good time and was actually the guy Ryan rode over here with from Boise, however, it was a little too cold for us to wait for him to go top out Wilson and join us so we proceeded with the descent. If you're reading this to get an idea what the route is like for this loop, know that you must save some legs for the downhill. It is one of the steepest trails you will run, and it is relentless. The elevation gained in the first 13 miles is lost in less than 5 and the quads will be crying uncle if you overdo it in the ascent.

Coming down the mountain is always a good feeling but it seriously challenges your strength and mental fortitude. Looking backwards towards Wilson Peak two miles into the descent you realize how steep it really is. Below you can see Wilson on the left side of the shot. It was hard to believe that 2 or 3 miles ago we were standing on top.
Another tricky thing about this loop is that the downhill is peppered with super steep "ups" that break your downhill rhythm and force you back into power hiking mode. It just never gets easy on the way down. A times you can barely lower yourself down the slope in control. The quads and hip flexors were really feeling the burn by the time we got down. My La Sportiva Crosslite 2.0's were beautiful for this downhill, however. Not a single slip, period. They also did very well on the snowy uphills on the way up to Wilson Peak. Below is a shot of the typical terrain and one of the little bumps that we experienced on the way "down" the mountain.
Just when your quads are screaming the most, the trail turns from mostly packed sand to loose "baby head" rocks and gravel. This unwelcome addition to the difficulty level is offset by the amazing view looking down into Reynold's Creek and the fact that we were almost down the mountain and onto the final push across the rolling terrain for the last 2.5 miles.

Once down the mountain we trotted back on the trail towards the parking lot. I really was feeling the bonk by this time. Something about running 1+ hrs longer than I ever have with 4900' of vertical in temperatures hovering in the upper 20's can apparently wear a person down. I was very glad to make it back to the parking lot were the four of us took a group shot for the sake of the great day we just had. Of course, you can see Wilson Peak directly behind us.
Post run I downed a special chocolate milk mix and granola. Trying to change out of my sweaty trail running gear was probably the hardest part of the whole day. I sat in the car and began to try and pull of the tights and the cramps started. First in the quads, then my groin muscles, and finally my calves. OUCH! Fortunately, the milk and food kicked in fast and I experienced the cramping for a few minutes and then it was over. Scenes from Dean Karnazes' first 50 mile experience documented in his book, Ultramarathon Man, kept coming to my mind as I sat in the car. Thankfully, no projectile vomit came out. The stomach was never an issue at all today, something I'd attribute to the Hammer products and consistent effort level that we put out for the 4 hour run.

My final time for the loop was within my secret goal of under 4 hours; 3:57:31. Hopefully I can knock another 30 minutes or so off by January 21st. We'll see, but I know that I will definitely be taking on this loop again as soon as possible. It is a must run in the valley for any trail runner. Someone of Facebook said the loop should be renamed "The Devil's Treadmill" which may not be too far of a stretch. However, I would place this loop as a far cry from hell and more like a glimpse into the beauty of God's creation best felt rather than seen. There is no doubt that if you do this loop you will be "feeling" that beauty for a few days every time you have to walk down a set of stairs.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Into the cold dark season of running bliss

The time of the year has come around that all intentions for snagging epic bike rides are replaced with a strong desire to get out and run. This year has been a year of running for me mostly, with a 6 week break to settle into a new bike. For the past 3 weeks I've been steadily building back up to my summer mileage level, hitting 41 miles last week and shooting for 45 ish this week. Last week was also a milestone week for me, as I recorded over 1000 miles running in less than a year for the first time in my long history with the sport. I'm sure I've been there before, but I've never actually recorded every run.

The thing about running in the winter is that it just feels right. The cold temperatures are much easier to handle on foot than by bike, and its simple; shoes, clothes, headlamp (if its a morning run) and I'm off. The cold air is refreshing after a hot summer and although I'll surely be ready for spring come Febuary I'm enjoying a change in season.

The cold season has me thinking of new ways to challenge myself and what better way to do that than to tackle my longest race ever, a 50K in the Owyhees in January (am I crazy?). I'll have more to post on that later, but for now here's a shot of my winter bliss...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nampa's new bike shop.

As much as I love my bike shop, Cafferty's Cyclery in downtown Nampa, I'm excited to pass on the word about a new small business started by a friend of mine, Adam Haynes, that is offering bike tune-ups, maintainence, and other misc. bike related stuff. The company is Rolling H Cycles and is being run out of Adam's home shop right off the Lake Lowell Loop that most riders in Nampa know all to well. Adam is offering the best prices around for tune-ups and other service and will even pick up and deliver your bike for you. I can vouch for Adam's qualifications on this venture as I have worked shoulder to shoulder with him doing tunes and building bikes before I started my teaching career. I'm sure there will be much more to say about this business in the future, so for now, here is the info you need:

Phone Number: (208) 841-8399

You can find Rolling H on Facebook as well... so check them out.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Junk Miles on Surly Pacer = Big Fun

Finding the time and energy to run has been difficult lately. This week the wife and kids were sick so I spent three days as a full time nurse/custodian cleaning up vomit and diarrhea. Its not easy being a dad some days. So today, I had about 40 minutes to grab a quick run or ride. Considering there's nothing even remotely close on the racing calendar I'm interested in, I decided to just go have some fun and take some pictures, logging the so called "junk miles" which by the way I don't really believe in.

The loop I chose to do is one I've done countless times, both running and biking on various bikes. It seems like this could be a regular quickie loop I'll do on the "Green Machine" Surly Pacer. It is just so much fun to noodle around on and then just stand up and sprint for the heck of it. I was having so much fun that I didn't even remember I brought the camera until I was over halfway done with the loop, so on that note, I grabbed a quick shot of the view from the top of Roosevelt Hill west of Nampa.

After topping out on Roosevelt, there are a variety of options. Sometimes I just turn around and do it again for some good hill training. Often I'll turn right and go around Lake Lowell. But today I just coasted on down to the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge while I enjoyed the sunny weather and smooth road surface (smooth roads are a rareity in Nampa, I'm sure they'll chip seal it soon enough).

Prior to building my Pacer, I was riding around on my Neuvation and experiencing rather consistent speed wobbles going down even moderately steep hills. I can now descend in confidence, as the burly Surly goes downhill like a champ.

There were quite a few boaters on the lake today. However, I have a secret fondness for sailboats, and I feel that if I lived near a coast I'd spend some time learning how to sail a bit. I did nab my merit badge in Boy Scouts for sailing, so I guess I am an expert ;)

If you just walked outside today, you might have a hard time identifying that its late September. The high was in the 90's today and there was the normal summer haze in the air as a result of living in a densly populated valley in the dry west. However, if you pay attention to the cars and pickups putting around with all their decor, you will quickly understand that it is football season and that the BSU Bronco Nation is widespread. Case in point...

After stopping to take a few more photos (most of which didn't really turn out the way I wanted) I took the gravel/rough chip sealed dam road back towards home. The Pacer was lovely on the rough stuff, although I'm still not a fan of riding a road bike on gravel. Perhaps with some wider tires. I'm running 23 mm tires at the moment, but I think I could easily fit
28's with no problem. Maybe this winter.

In conclusion, there really are no such thing as "junk miles" when there's nothing to train for. If its fun, then mission complete. Today it was nice just to soak up a bit of summer on a great bike.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Building my Surly Pacer

I thought I'd take a quick moment and post up a report about my most recent bike build; the fabulous Surly Pacer in "British Racing Green" with a top-notch Sram Force drivetrain. I can't say enough how nice this bike rides, but more on that later...

After my recent experiment/failure with the Neuvation frame, I decided to go with a more traditional frameset with a great pricetag, the Surly Pacer. (Note: Neuvation's wheels are most excellent, but I cannot say I would buy another one of their frames). If you do some searching, you'll find that most people love their Pacers and you'll also find they are wickedly comfortable and capable descenders. You'll also notice that most people build it up as a low budget commuter bike, or as a back-up rain bike for their fancy carbon racing rigs. It fits that role nicely due to its relatively low price (~$460 for the frame vs. $1000+ for carbon or nice riding aluminum frames). It is also capable of handling wider road tires than most road bikes nowadays and can easily be fitted with fenders and down-tube shifters for the ultimate wet-weather beater bike.

I decided though, to take a different approach. My greatest joy as a rider is going out as fast and as far as possible. I wanted a bike that could handle everything I would throw at it and be comfy and stable enough to ride all day if the opportunity arises. Because I don't often go out and noodle along, although I enjoy that also, I wanted a good parts package that would be quick shifting and reliable, while also adding to the aesthetic of the classic road bike I was imagining. I thought about down-tube shifters and fenders, racks, pannier bags, or maybe just going with a cyclocross bike, but ultimately, I knew deep down I wanted a road bike that was good at being a road bike (corners fast and feels nimble). Enter the Surly Pacer!

There are a lot of inexpensive great riding bikes, but the one thing that drew me to the Pacer is Surly's reputation of being a quality bike company that makes bikes where the priority is on the ride. I was also able to buy this from my local shop which I love to support, Cafferty's Cyclery. There is no fluff on this bike. Its not made of fancy materials, features no proprietary components, and by intention is designed to be around for a long time. So long that they don't clear coat over the decals so the frame can easily be repainted 10 years and 3 drivetrains from now when I'm still riding it to work.

Another nice thing I mentioned earlier is the ability to run wider road tires if the need arises. Since I'm of the go fast mentality, I am sticking with durable 23mm Specialized Armadillo Elite tires, but the "FFF - Fatties Fit Fine" sticker is a reminder that the room is there if I want to run 32 mm rubber. I may have to end up changing the brakeset if I do that, and for now I want to run my Sram Force set, so I'll stick with 23-28 mm's. You'll notice below that there is still plenty of room to fit more tire under those brakes. I'll have to experiment to see how fat I can go with my bike the way it is.

So the ride? AMAZING! Today I was riding on a freshly chipped and sealed road and I could not believe how smooth it was. There is no road I wouldn't take this bike down. I'm really tempted to take it out on a long gravel grind this fall if I can find the time. I really don't know why anyone other than a super serious racer would want to ride anything else. I can't believe it took me so long to go with steel. There is no hesitating when it comes time to go down a hill now, although I still may be a little nervous after my Neuvation incidents.

There is some heft to the bike, if you call a 21 pound bike hefty. And that's ready to ride with my pedals, bottle cages, and computer. My old Specialized Tarmac (may she rest in peace with someone out there in ebay land) was built with lighter wheels and a few more carbon bits and was 17 pounds. My Neuvation was 18+ pounds and was much poorer in ride quality. So I guess if I eat a couple less bowls of ice cream each week and ride a little more I probably won't notice a few exta lbs in the frame. So I guess what I have to say to the 'race' bike riding folks like my former self is I'll be passing you on the chip-sealed roads as your fillings rattle out and your bike's cables vibrate so loud you can't hear me coming. And I guess if you catch me on a climb once in awhile I'll at least have an excuse. 3 extra pounds can be a lot. (If you caught that bit of sarcasm there it was intended :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

"Let it go"

Let's be honest here, I've been feeling a bit down lately... It has been a great year of training and racing. Really, I can't complain much about what I've been able to do in my racing this year. When I look back, its hard not too be thankful for the many good races run and miles logged. For the sake of discussion here's a look back:

  • Les Bois Trail 10k, 40:54, 10th place

  • Dry Creek Trail 1/2 marathon, 1:38, 10th male

  • High Dessert Trail 1/2 Marathon, 1:47, 5th overall

  • City of Trees Trail Series, 2nd place, overall male

  • A Legacy of Service 1/2 Marathon, 1:26:38, 2nd overall

  • Sawtooth Relay, Men's Open Team Division, 1st place

  • Mohican Xterra 19k Trail Race, 6th Overall, 2nd in age group

  • (non race) Wilson Creek Mini-Moab Loop, 15.6 miles and 3000' of elevation gain/loss
So with that look back, one can't help but wonder, "why am I so down lately?" School has started and my training has taken a backseat to doing my job (bummer huh) and hanging with my two little ones and my wife (not a bummer). But even realizing that, there is clearly a deeper issue. I got up this morning and went through my morning run routine of drinking a cup of coffee and puttering around. Debating whether to actually go out and run or just grab another cup of coffee and peruse the craigslist ads again or read the latest race reports, I decided to just go out for an easy 3 miles. At the last second, I grabbed my mp3 player and headlamp (its dark now at 6am, bummer) just in case...

After lacing up my shoes and adjusting the strap on my headlamp (realizing that it's much more comfortable with a hat on) I settled my music choice on Tenth Avenue North and took off. At the end of my road, I had a choice, go up the hill and do my "Lake Loop" backwards for a nice 6 miler, or turn left and go around the block for a boring 3 miles on flat ground dodging cars and subdivision sprinklers. The choice at that point really wasn't a choice at all and I found myself churning up the hill in a gear I hadn't felt in a few weeks. It wasn't long before I realized what was happening; as Tenth Avenue North rang through the darkness and my headlamp flashed, I was bookin' it up the hill.

The thing about the Lake Loop is that in one direction, my normal one, you almost don't notice the hills because they are much more gradual and drawn out with steep downhills coming back. If you run it backwards, it is a much more noticeable hill run and the punchy uphills are met with gradual, almost inconsequential downhills. As I crested the last of the uphills on the loop, I heard a song that told me what was going on:
"You said let it go,
you said let it go,
you said life is waiting for,
the one's who lose control,
you say you would be,
everything we need,
you say if I lose my life it's then I'll find my soul,
you said let it go."

This summer I've been holding on tightly to dreams that are real and valid, but at the expense of other, more important things. For example: you may remember me declaring my goal to finish the Bible this year, well, I can tell you that I've read part of Genesis, and several New Testament books, but most of the Bible remains unread with 4 months to go. If I missed a workout this summer I was a bear to be around and quite often rude. For some people, that may be considered to be "ok," I mean exercise does have a calming effect; however, I cannot let that be my standard because God has made known His standard and that is not it. So I guess the point is that no matter how hard I train, and no matter what races I compete in and place, or even win, I will never be satisfied with life if my only standard is racing.

I think Ryan Hall said it best in his testamony that "Running [or racing in general] had become my god." I know I struggle with this all the time. I simply cannot go anything less that full speed ahead with something, its part of what makes me a good teacher I think, and of course it is part of who I am; but that simply cannot be justification for ignoring my God and putting my family in 2nd place behind myself. As I ran down the last hill on my run this morning, I thought of all the people I hadn't bothered to say "hi" to this summer when I had a chance, all the mornings I came in from a run and wondered what would happen if I ran a couple extra miles, or 10 extra miles, or "if I only had this new bike" or "that new lighting system," "I could really rack up the miles and beef up my training."

One more time I've realized that it's not about what I want or can do, it's through God and my relationship with Him that all things are possible. I cannot rely on my own body, mind, and accomplishment to find fullness in life. Ouch, the truth hurts!

Oh, and my run this morning, the fastest 6 mile tempo run ever on that loop. "Let it go..."

(Check out the following links for a better understanding of what was ringing in my head today...)

Youtube link to song and lyrics for "let it go"

Ryan Hall's testimony

Monday, August 8, 2011

Taking a break...

After recovering from the trip to Ohio, things have been strangly busy around here. We were constantly doing something, or, we were totally wiped out and thus, doing nothing. I have been having some good training, but just to see, I decided to run a little loop called "Wilson Creek Mini-Moab" out of the Boise area trail guide. The difficulty rating on this loop is "Gonzo" whatever that means. Apparently, as I found out, it means "you will regret trying this and you should plan on being sore for 6 full days afterward." Anyway, 15.6 miles and 3000 feet of elevation change and you have yourself a dirty little pain in the quads. I had planned on running the loop with company, but apparently they all knew better and stayed home, so after 3 hours of intense physical effort, I completed the longest distance I've yet to run and the most vertical feet I've ever traveled by foot before. I should note that I knew exactly what this loop entailled because I rode it with a couple of friends back in the Cafferty's days and vowed to never take my race bike back there again. Regardless, this insanely challenging workout left me feeling the need to switch it up a bit so I decided to put the shoes away for a week and do some riding. Sunday I rode my Neuvation F100 road bike on a sunrise ride up to the Deer Flat Wildlife Refuge. It was a great ride, but I and decided that the frame just wasn't working out for me so I listed it on Ebay (just the frame, so I still have all the necessary ingredients of an awesome road bike but lack the bike itself...) and sold by Tuesday. That left me riding my old friend, the shiny Sette Razzo 29er for the remainder of the week. Needless to say it was a great week of doing something different and just enjoying the outdoors and the feeling of movement and speed. The week was capped off by a great little ride in the Boise foothills on some of my favorite trails.

(Looking back down to Boise from the 8th street parking lot at the access point for trail 4.)

(The last section of our ride took us to Bogus Basin Road via "Corrals")

(Close up shot of the Razzo, love those big 29 inch wheels!)

I managed to land some great company this time, with Mike Lapp and his father-in-law joining me. We covered about 14 miles and about 1500 to 2000 vertical feet. Looking back, we rode less than I ran one week earlier, ouch... No wonder I was so sore.

Now its Monday again, and I have put my feet to the road once again. Six miles in 43 minutes on an 85 degree day tells me my legs are fresh again and ready for the big push to a fall race. If I could just decide what that will be... I'll be looking forward to some time on the bike when necessary.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

"There's no place like home..."

(This post is a bit delayed... but better late than never :)

Every summer since moving to Idaho five years ago, My wife and I have made a trip back at least once a year. This year being no different, we loaded up our suitcases and headed back to Ashland, Ohio for a 12 day visit to all our family and close friends. As with most trips back, we faced a big agenda of visiting loved ones, and it seems that every time we go we end up more anxious to move back than before. I'm sure this has something to do with the nostalgia of our hometown and the comfy feeling of the small town life. But in more ways than one, this trip seemed to be resonating with the sound of coming home. Not only to our hometown, but to my "home" for outdoor lifestyle that I'm passionately pursuing the best I can. There was a great race at Mohican to do, a fantastic bike ride through amish country, and of course a brief reprieve from parenthood while Michelle and I stayed at the Landoll Castle. Before we jump into the story, here's a picture I just had to share from my "heat" acclimation I had been doing before traveling back east at the beginning of the recent heat wave they have been dealing with. It was 90+ degrees the day I ran my last long run before heading back. Needless to say, the kiddy pool was as close as I could get to a dip in a mountain stream, but it was refreshing none the less.

Flying across the country with two small kids is a test of endurance all by itself. Upon arriving we were immersed into the whirlwind tour to see as many people as we could, and see the most important ones more than once... it was exhausting but good. I took a break from the tour the first Saturday morning to race the Mohican Xterra 19k. The profile for this course looks basically like a sawblade. No real flat sections, very technical, and very steep. I managed to run almost exactly 8 min/mile pace for the roughly 11 mile race, finishing 6th overall and 2nd in the under 39 age group. Not a bad race by any means. Then it was back to the tour...

About halfway through the week, my little daughter, Kara, learned to give kisses. In fact, she's basically growing like a weed and learns something new everyday, its going to be hard to go back to work in a week. In between touring families and trying to sneak in some running, My father-in-law, Mike, and brother-in-law, Stoffer, were able to take off on a bike ride through rural Ashland and Wayne County, Ohio. As would be the case, I neglected to take the camera along for the ride, which is probably just as well because if anyone saw how beautiful the area is it would become overridden with yuppies and granolas and the vibe would be lost. As it is, the only thing separating me from riding this area everyday for the rest of my life is about 2000 miles and 3 days by car to get there. Someday though...

The tour also took a break long enough for Michelle and I to head back to our honeymoon spot, Landoll's Mohican Castle, for a 1 night get-away. We stayed in one of their more toned down rooms, which wasn't exactly what I'd expect from the Castle, but nevertheless, the company was excellent and the food was good so it was a blessing to be there. Next time I am bringing trail running shoes along as well. Miles of trails surround the Castle and I intend on exploring them at somepoint.

I cannot continue to say how good it was to be "home" in Ohio. Myles loved being around his grandparents, swimming at the great-grandparents' pool, and playing outside at the Stoffer's home. He discovered bubbles and spent a few hours perfecting his bubble-stroke.
Each time we go back, its hard to leave, but then again, its good to be back to our "home" in Idaho. The humidity was suffocating, and we left at the beginning of the heat dome that settled into the area for some time. We had some great times with family and cannot wait to see them again. For now, Idaho is where we live, but our hearts are with family and friends back in Ashland, Ohio.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Summer Life

After all the stress and work of bringing another school year to a close, then diving right into the Sawtooth logistics, and then a visit from my mom (blessing to have her here) I think I have finally settled into the summer life. It has been pretty mild summer weather out here in Idaho; with this week being the first of several hot ones, its nice to see that summer has finally showed up. That's not so say that everything has been bliss, but it certainly is great to be home with my wife and kids all day. It has been a bit difficult to squeeze in all the miles I was expecting to, but I think I've about found my rythym and just for backup I picked up a Bob Revolution Jogger to help make some miles go by with one of the little ones moving the ducks and squirrels out of the way on the Nampa greenbelt.

(First run with the Bob. About 7 miles on some hilly roads in South Nampa. Myles is hiding under the blanket and the giant stuffed elephant... excuse me, "Mr. Elephant")

Unfortunately, due to a shopping trip to buy a clearance "jumbo" size suitcase I had to skip today's planned workout, but got a good laugh. We grabbed a sweet deal on a Samsonite so we could save baggage fee's on our upcoming trip to Ohio. At the store I asked Myles if he wanted to jump in it. I think the sales associate was a bit disturbed by that, but he loved crawling inside it and I zipped him up, then let him pop out with a big "ta-dah!" It happens to be one that has four wheels and can move upright, so it was pretty funny to see him wheeling it through the store after we picked it out as well, lots of smiling and giggling from the other customers as he peeked over the top and pushed it up to the checkout counter. By the time we got home, Michelle needed to get rest for a big push of 3 in-a-row at work (She will be working at the hospital 36 of the next 72 hours, all night shifts so zzz's are a necessity). I hate missing workouts (which gave me a bit of the grumpies this afternoon), but at least its not motivation or injury holding me back, so I know the workout will come when I have time. It is great to have someone who love's her family enough to put herself through that kind of workload so we can take trips and keep the kids out of daycare as much as possible.

The cool thing about the suitcase is that it'll let me fit my Sportie's for a trail race in Ohio and my bike shoes for a long ride with the father-in-law. It'll be nice to have a longish stay there this time around. Beyond the next trail race, its hard to say what kind of races I show up at this fall, but I know you certainly won't see me at too many 5k's unless I'm pushing the Bob. I'm in the mood for a challenge, so we'll see. Maybe adding a zero to the 5 would be more fun... I may end up at a half-marathon in October, and perhaps will jump in the Harvest Classic 8k here in Nampa just for "fun" in September. I'm just soaking in the blessing of being able to run at the moment. But still... a 50k on October 22nd on my favorite Boise foothill trails is beckoning me to run. I have learned from my predictions of the Mohican Mtb 100 that I couldn't attend to keep long range goals drawn in the sand, but October isn't too far away, and a few longer runs here and there could get me ready for a great day on the trails in Boise. Who needs the marathon? I might just pull a Dean Karnazes this fall...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sawtooth Relay Race Report, 2011

(Sorry for the delay in this race report... it has been a busy week and I haven't really had much chance to work on it. Hope you enjoy this account of "Bazinga!'s Sawtooth Relay 2011)

Alright, another year of the Sawtooth Relay has came and went. For those of you who want the quick story, it basically unfolded like this... Our team ran very well and posted a time of around 7:40 for the 62 mile relay. This was good enough for around 6th overall (out of 300+ teams) and 1st outright in the men's open division. Check out the full results here. We got passed by a coed team in the last mile that had a potential olympian (we were told). Two high school teams ran to first and second overall, and a solo ultrarunner clocked an impressive 8:50 ish time by himself. The long story is as follows:
My brother-in-law and his wife got in late Wednesday from Ohio and by Thursday at lunch we were on the road for Stanley, Idaho. The drive from Nampa to Stanley takes about 3.5 hours, but after you get past Eagle, the scenery just doesn't stop. It was a great way to begin what turned out to be a great trip.

We headed up to Glacier View Campground and arrived shortly before 4 pm. On the way up, we decided that our best chance to nab a great hike was to go right away and so from about 4 to 6:15 pm we hiked and ran up the Alpine Way Trail from the Redfish Lake trailhead. It is a pretty gnarly trail that gains 900 feet or so in less than a half mile and then levels out along a beautiful ridgeline for quite a ways until it veers north towards Marshall Lake. We hoped to make it to Marshall lake but it really was too ambitious given the amount of snow still up high. In many places we were bushwacking along the trail because several feet of snow still covered the actual trail. Eventually we got to the point where the trail starts to turn North and decided that we should head back before it got to be too late. Before we headed down, we stopped for some photos. I could look up the names of these peaks, but for time sake I'll just let you know they are pretty awesome to see in person.

Aside from the snow, the short hike was pretty uneventful. It was just great to be in the mountains exploring a new place and hanging out with my hiking buddy Stoffer. Fortunately, back a camp we were able to start a fire quickly and eat some quick grub. A foil pack with beef, potatoes, tomatos, onions, and black beans gave us the carbs and protein we were craving after spending a couple hours out moving rather steadily up and down a decent vertical gain.

As the night settled in, the lack of any clouds whatsoever allowed the temperature to drop quickly and we decided to hit the sleeping bags early. My only regret of the trip was not getting up to see the stars that night, they were surely magnificient and I'm bummed that I missed them. That feeling was quickly dissipated by this awesome shot I got in the morning Friday.

The plan on Friday was to hang out and rest, but it wasn't long before we were out exploring near the camp and found some interesting sights, but most of them wouldn't really qualify for blog worthiness content, however, they served to entertain and more importantly, Stoffer and I got to have some of our favorite old contests; skipping stones (most and farthest categories), precision stone throwing (pick a target and hit as creatively as possible with a rock), log hopping across the lake outlet (only one wet foot for me).

Afternoon rolled around, and when the rest of the team showed up, we headed out on a run to explore the Fishhook Creek Trail. This is the reward for the 5 mile round trip. Best 5 miles all year so far to say the least.

(Sam in his element) (Team Bazinga! minus Cynthia and Joe; Sam, Stoffer, Me, Bill, and Mike)

You'll notice this character in the photo above, and of course doing his version of fire starting below. This is Sam Collier and he is the best possible person we could have had on our team for a volunteer. He is an ultrarunner and agreed to come up with us at the last minute and fill in. What a blessing it was to get to know him and have him on our team.

After we finished our run and Sam started the fire with his um... lighter, I decided to try and take a dip in Redfish lake. Let's just say that the water temperature was slightly warmer than the North Pole and I made it to my waist and decided to just soak the lower half for ten minutes rather than go completely under. I wished to be clean, but not to be hypothermic so an lower leg ice bath was an appropriate compromise.

Race morning came and we went to the start. It was a great morning and the weather looked to be fantastic again this year. Our team had a minor logistic concern when Bill left the wrist band in his sweats and then we dropped it as we jogged to our vechicle after the race began. Luckily, Stoffer was able to spot the band when we raced back to the start and we were able to proceed without any time being lost or the dreaded "DQ" that could have been the result.

By the end of the first exchange, I was super-stoked to see Michelle and the kids up on the course. Michelle was the real hero of the trip, she watched our kids, and also the Lapp's little girl while us runners were out inflicting pain on ourselves. She did a great job just managing three little ones (with the help of her sister, Stoffer's wife, Rebecca). I don't think our team could have raced without her up there, and she managed to find fun things for the kids to do in Sun Valley all day. There's a reason why I married this woman, she is amazing!

Everyone ran super strong all morning as we managed to stay in 3rd position all the way over the summit of Galena Pass. I was really excited to run the mountain this year, I felt strong as I ran up, but was definately limited by the altitude and managed to run 8:30/mile up the 1300'+ of vertical in about 5.3 miles. It was a challenge I would love to try again someday, but next time I run this race, I really want to run down the pass, it seems that would be a bit more fun...

By the time we were on the homestretch of the race, we managed to pick up a friendly rivalry with another team. They were out to get us, but we just managed to stay ahead until the last leg where I was chased down by a sub-15 minute 5k running chick with knee-high socks and not much else on. I ran sub-6:00/mile on the final stretch, but she just was too tough for me on that day. Everyone on the team ran strong all day and we managed to come home with 1st place in the Men's division. All the teams that beat us were younger, faster, and in some way were involved with an organized running team (high school or college). It felt awesome to come home with a first place award after taking second last year. Our time was 4 minutes slower than last year's, but we faced a stiff headwind for the last 3 legs that I think accounts for that difference in time. In conclusion, it was a race to remember, but the weekend itself was even more memorable. The team had great chemistry this year and we had no weak links. It will be fun to see how everyone does as they pursue their personal racing goals this fall. I am incredibly thankful and blessed to be able to share this race with the people I did.
(Chris Stoffer, Me, Bill Rupp, Mike Lapp [with baby Evie], Cynthia Lapp, and (not pictured) Joe Terrazas made up our team. Sam Collier was our amazing volunteer, and Michelle and Rebecca did the babysitting duties for all the little ones.)