Thursday, December 18, 2014

After a couple months of minimal running, an ice storm and a backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon, I'm finally starting to get running again.  The first week back was mostly slow running but all in all I felt good.  There was definitely a new feeling in the legs when I got back; nothing was bothersome and I didn't feel like I was guarding against injury.  I did built up slow but there was definitely a new freedom in my stride.
The next week or two was mostly the same but with a scattering of really good runs.  Every run felt like an improvement to some extent but there was definitely a few that felt as if everything was back to normal.  Over the past week I have gotten in a couple easy runs around 3 hours and a few hour long pushes up McCulloch Peak at a pretty solid pace.
The break was a little frustrating at times, but mostly gave me a chance to recover, a good break from racing, and some time to look back at this year's running and learn from my mistakes.  Next year will probably bring more breaks from specific training but also some small adjustments to my race preparation.  But for now, I just happy to get out running.
Climbing up through ice covered trees

The sun breaking through just below McCulloch Peak

Almost up
Those Dimple pictures I put up earlier are from the day before.  Not much came down then but after another day of freezing rain the trees loaded up with some ice and started popping.  I headed up McCulloch for an easy run was accompanied by breaking trees and branches the whole climb.  The road allowed me to keep my head up the whole time to watch out for limbs, and fortunately nothing came close to me on my run.
The new thinning on McCulloch

Lookout Mountain poking through the trees
Mother Nature's thinning
Some trails took a hit from the ice
Some bigger trees down in the maze
Looking out toward Mary's Peak from Dimple
A big tree hanging over Dan's Trail
All in all, a lot of wreckage on the trails and some different views, but its great to be out and enjoying what nature has to offer.  Hopefully I will cover some more ground in the coming weeks and slowly get back into shape for Orcas Island 50K in February.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

After a few weeks recovering from injury, I rushed back to running just in time to prevent a full recovery.  So after that I got a little smarter and focused on resting up and heading into next year completely healthy.  Now I have mostly just been trying to do some slow stuff and ease back into running.

A couple weeks ago, I headed up Mary's Peak with my mom and a few other guys.  The top of Mary's was lost in the clouds but outside of that it was a  fairly clear day.  I felt good running but I could still feel the calves quite a bit.  I figure a week with minimal running and some work on the calves should straighten things out.
Mom on the Tie Trail Heading up Mary's Peak

The view from just below the summit
 I headed up Dimple with mom and Jacob and we ended up finishing down the road in the dark.  Heading down the road was a nice finish to the day as we descended into increasing darkness with just enough light to guide us back.  Here are some late afternoon views looking out over the valley.
Heading up Dimple Hill

The Horizon just below the top of Dimple
 Today was about 35 when I got up and when mom and I headed up Dimple in the morning.  It was pretty clear that there was some freezing rain up high.  I actually felt pretty good today.  I could hardly feel anything bad in the calves so that's nice.  Hopefully I can ease back and in a couple weeks start to do some real running again.
 A Frozen Morning on Dimple

Me on Dimple

Mom on Dimple

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pine to Palm-My journey from Williams to Squaw Lake

As I walked into the Squaw Lake aid station with my friend Cary, there was probably fifty people there cheering me on.  I guess I should say cheering for me because I wasn't going on.  A lot of people knew my name and filled my ears with kind words.  It was surreal, this was the most applause I had got at one time all year.  I didn't really get it.  But as I talked to the people on my way back to the car, I learned many of them saw me at a race earlier in the year or just knew who I was.

This was the first time all year I realized just how well I had been running.  I try to succeed in whatever I do but my main goal for the year was to run well at a hundred miler.  Unfortunately on the 13 of September that didn't happen.  But on many other days of the year, I was lucky enough to have some incredible runs.

Pine to Palm made me take a step back and look at what I had done.  I had won 4 ultras.  I had been able to run nearly every day in the beautiful outdoors.  I had been able to enjoy the forest on my own and with friends,  sliding through mud and gliding over pine needles, and it had been there for me every day.  There was times this summer when I didn't appreciate all that I had.  While Pine to Palm was a disappointment, it made me appreciate all that I had.

As I walked over Stein Butte I knew the day was over.  My legs had felt crappy for the moment I started.  My calf was bothering me enough that I knew I was risking sitting out a few weeks because of an injury.  In all honesty I probably shouldn't have started the race.

I ran Waldo, and I think my calves were a little tight after.  Then my family and I went backpacking in the Sierra Nevada a couple days later.  Hiking tightens the muscles in my lower calves so when I got back to Corvallis and started to run thats what was tight.  After nearly two weeks without running, I tried to rush in some runs before Pine to Palm.  My calves stayed tight for a solid week until I ran McKenzie River 50K where they loosened up around mile 20.  I ran on Monday and the legs didn't feel right, then Tuesday my left leg felt bad.  The outside of my shin hurt, the inside by the ankle too.  I thinks running with tight calves for so long put some extra stress on the legs which caused my problems.

Anyway, I took the next 3 days off (believe if or not, absolutely no running) then hoped the legs would be good to go for Pine to Palm.  As the race drew near I realized that 100% was not going to happen so I hoped that the pain in my calf would be manageable.  After all, it is a hundred miles, something is bound to hurt.

So, as I walked over Stein Butte I knew the race was over.  Now I was going to enjoy the day and think.  I talked to some runners on the way up and fell into step with a guy named Seamus.  He was hurting too and ended up dropping out at the lake as well.  We talked and walked.  Then Seamus took some time at the Stein Butte aid station and I headed down without him.  And on my journey down, I had plenty of time to think.

Walking over Stein Butte my frustrated mind spat out a question, "Why do we even do this?"  Fortunately my mouth didn't send the negative talk out for others to hear.  But that question is what I thought about on my way down from Stein Butte.

I do this because its great when things work out.  It feels great to run a great race.  Is that the only reason? Well, I like being out here, enjoying the scenery, taking in my surroundings.  I like to run fast, I like to run slow.  Really I like being able to run every day, and having a beautiful place to run in.  Maybe it's not perfect.  Maybe it's not as good as today could have been.  But, its a pretty awesome life I have.

So as I rolled into Squaw Lake I realized that I had learned a lot over that last hill.  A lot about running, myself, and life.  And before I reached the aid station I told my would be pacer Cary, that he did me a big favor making me go over that hill.  I didn't get me to the finish. but it helped me grow.

I want to thank my dad and Cary for doing a great job crewing.  I was not too chipper at Seattle Bar but you guys got me back on track.  If I had stopped there, I would probably have just been mad for a couple days and might not have learned too much.  Thanks to Hal for putting on a great race and also thanks to all the volunteer for helping out.  Without you guys, there wouldn't be any runners going to Ashland.  Finally, congratulations to all the runners who did make it to Ashland.  As I learned last year it is a long and difficult journey but very rewarding when you finally head into town.