Sunday, May 24, 2009


I've been back in Alaska for almost a week now. Not getting back to Juneau until Tuesday though.

I've been hanging out in Sitka all week, as a bit of an extra little vacation time tacked on to my month long vacation. Vacation's pretty sweet. Especially in a place as scenic, idyllic and mellow as Sitka.

I've been doing some combination of running, hiking, biking, and kayaking each day I've been here, but none of it has been with a focus on training. Rather I've just been going out and running up a mountain if I feel like being on top of a mountain; riding around checking out things on my bike when I feel curious to explore; and generally just enjoying the simplicity and beauty that each day has been dropping in front of me.

In a couple days I'll be heading back to the "real life" of a job, condo, and all the everyday stuff that goes with that. The other thing that will go along with that will likely be a return to more focused training and preparation for my next race. Maybe I'll even decide pretty soon here what my next race is going to be. For now though it's kind of relaxing, and exciting not to be sure. It makes it a lot easier to just go out and enjoy being in the mountains, on the water, or wherever else the day takes me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Homeward Bound

Spent last week "out east" with family and friends and then this week in southern Utah. Camping in the sun, running on rock and dirt, living the simple life outdoors in the desert. I'm leaving soon to head back to Alaska. It took me a couple days to get used to the heat and dryness of southern Utah and now it's back to the cool humid air of southeast Alaska. I never thought that the weather in Juneau would seem so ideal and comforting but being away from there for almost a month now I really do miss it. There just seems to be something pleasant about the light steady rain that falls in Juneau. I hate it in September and October when it's windy, cold, and raining hard all the time, but this time of year it's generally calm, warmer, and even sunny quite a bit. I look forward to spending June in Alaska after not being up there for a single day last June.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Why I Run

With a title like this I could probably ramble on for hours. I'll do my best to keep it short.

I've had a few people ask me recently, why I run? If it's someone I don't know very well I usually just throw out some typical answer mentioning the solitude, the beauty of the places I see on my runs, the thrill of competition, the health benefits, etc. When it's someone I know well though I try to make a more serious effort at answering this question. Here's my best shot at putting that effort into writing:

All of the above things are a part of it but, for me a huge part of it has to do with the personal satisfaction I take from doing something that is 100% my doing. It's satisfying to be good at something that has only to do with my own abilities and my own dedication, and is not reliant upon others. I always feel that I could train better and race better and that keeps me driven to become a better runner. The exciting thing though is that only I can make this happen. If I lose my focus in my training I will not get better. Sometimes that is a good thing for a period of time. When you get that focus back and start to feel stronger and faster it's so satisfying knowing that you have gotten yourself to that point and have not leaned on others to get there. How many things do we really have in our lives that we can say this about? It really wouldn't be healthy for most of us to have too many things like this. Sometimes I wonder if it's always healthy for me to view my running in this way. It certainly puts my running in a position that borders on addictive, or at least obsessive, but I can think of a million things that would be worse to be addicted to.

Because my running is such an important part of my psyche it's pretty wild how much my mindset can be affected by my running. I certainly acknowledge that this can become an unhealthy thing, but generally I think it's been more and more helpful as I've become more and more "obsessed" with my running.

This week started out really rough for me. I was bummed about my Miwok DNF, and have had a lot of other stressful things going on in my mind. I was having all kinds of doubts about whether I really wanted to do any more races in the next few months. I got out for very relaxing runs yesterday and today though, and my mindset improved drastically. I still haven't decided for sure what races I'm going to run in the next few months, but I do feel refreshed to know that I am going to run races, which in turn means I'm going to do lots of training, which in turn means I'm going to test my personal strength and ability even further. I'm excited for that. Life is not perfect, never will be, but my running sure has a way of making me feel like I'm moving forward. At the end of the day what more can we really ask for?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Free Shoes

Things definitely did not go as planned for me at the Miwok, but one thing that I was 100% pleased with was how my feet felt in my Montrail Mountain Masochists. Granted I only put in 42 miles but I had absolutely no blisters, hot spots, or foot fatigue. I can't stress enough how much I like these shoes. It's such a nice feeling to have a shoe that I can put on my feet and have complete confidence that it will perform the way I want it to.

Well, here's a chance for you all to get your own pair. Montrail is giving away a free pair of shoes each day this entire month. All you need to do to have a chance to win is sign up as a fan of Montrail shoes on Facebook. Here's the link.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Marin Headlands 3, Geoff Roes 0

I've not run that many ultras but enough to know that I am fortunate to have a really strong stomach during endurance races. I generally just eat whatever I want, whenever I want during races and my stomach never bothers me. That all changed yesterday.

It was especially frustrating because everything besides my stomach felt great. My chest cold didn't seem to bother me at all, my legs felt very strong from the start, and I was running a very efficient and comfortable race.

Right from the beginning though I started to notice that everything I ate/drank seemed to be just hanging out in my stomach, which was steadily filling up and becoming uncomfortable. When I finally puked for the first time (about mile 24) it felt so good to have all that liquid out of my stomach. I knew I needed to get calories and water in as soon as possible though or I would pay dearly later on. I couldn't though.

At that point of the race I had only consumed 500 calories (about half of what I should have) and had just vomited all of it up on the side of the trail. Anything I tried to get down just made me feel horrible. I decided to slow down and give it some time and hope that my body would accept food and water sooner or later. I was running in the lead most of the day but by about mile 35 I really began to realize how much trouble I was in. I slowed considerably hoping that would help my stomach and that maybe I could find some way to get myself to the finish in one of the top 3 spots to still qualify for Western States.

It wasn't goint to happen though. As I continued to vomit I began to feel less and less able to find any energy to keep moving down the trail. I was basically totally bonking with 25 miles to go and had no ability to get any calories in my system to do anything about it.

Eric Grossman (Montrail teammate who went on to win the race) passed me just after I pulled into the aid station at mile 42. I sipped some coke and tried to head back out. A couple hundred yards up the trail and I was hurled over vomiting again. This time was different though. The first few times I puked it made me feel so relieved to have my system cleared out. This time though I just had no energy left in my muscles. I sat down on the side of the trail (because it took too much strength to stand) and almost immediately decided I was done.

I ended up out on the trail for over 5.5 hours in which time I consumed about 600 calories and maybe 40 ounces of water (both about 1/3 normal). It was a very frustrating and disappointing way to go out of a race, especially one in which everything else felt really good. It is what it is though. There's nothing I can do about it now, except learn from my experiences. I have a couple guesses as to what went wrong so now I need to use all this info. to help avoid something like this happening in the future.

Not qualifying for Western States is unfortunate, but again, there's nothing I can do about it now so I'm not going to spend my time getting too bent out of shape about it. I still haven't figured out just where my racing focus is going to shift to in the next several weeks but I'll be working all that out in my mind in the next several days. In some ways it's kind of exciting not to know. I'd be lying if I said I'm not bummed that I won't be lining up at Western States as I had hoped, but I will be lining up somewhere again soon, and I'll be a stronger and more determined runner as a result of yesterday's experiences.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Shoes

Tomorrow is the first race in a long time that I have known several weeks ahead of time exactly which shoes I was going to wear on race day. It's really a shame that I just found out tonight that these shoes are nowhere to be found in the car. I think I left them in the parking lot of a grocery store in Ashland, OR two days ago. Luckily I have another pair of the same model, just slightly more used. It's all good. But who the hell loses their shoes the day before a race they've been preparing toward for 2 months. Kind of funny. And really boneheaded.

Check my twitter link in the sidebar. I'll probably update it shortly after I finish tomorrow. Hope you all sleep better than I will tonight.