Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tongass 100

I've had this idea in my mind for a couple years now, but lately it's been moved more to the front of my mind. I want to put together a 100 mile route here around Juneau that might eventually become an actual race. The route I have in mind would likely be more difficult than Hardrock and certainly one of the most beautiful races in the world.

In it's infancy (next summer?) it would probably just be me scouting out and running the route as a test. If I could get one other person to do it with me I'd be stoked. If it became an actual event I would like to offer a 3 or 4 day stage race option. This way more than just a couple people might actual do it. The full 100 mile route would be so difficult that it might be an event more like Barkley than an actual 100 mile race. Unlike Barkley though this would not be a contrived route of numerous loops charging up hillsides for seemingly no reason other than to be really hard. This would be a point to point route that would be almost entirely singletrack trails and ridge running up above treeline. To connect it all together there would be a few miles of pavement, but other than that it would be running 90+ miles of the most appealing (and challenging) trails and mountains that I have ever run anywhere.

Anyone interested in running it with me next June?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The dark season is creeping up fast here in Alaska. It's not getting light in the morning now until about 8:00, and by about 5:30 in the afternoon it's mostly dark. I like daylight. But I actually really like running in the dark.

One of my favorite things about 100 mile races is that you are out for so long that you get a full cycle of darkness, into daylight, and back into darkness. I love the transition points. Dawn and dusk. When I've been running all day and then darkness sets in I feel almost like I'm running in a new dimension. In the daylight I notice myself running over the landscape, but once darkness sets in and I can't see as well I begin to feel like I can't tell where my body ends and the trail begins. It becomes a feeling of connectedness to the land and I feel like I'm being pulled along by the landscape rather than running over the landscape (imagine the moving walkways at airports).

I also really like running in the dark without my headlamp on. It's amazing to me sometimes how well I can "feel" the trail. It forces you to run with very relaxed legs, ready to absorb the nuances of any obstacles you might step on. I think this teaches us to be better runners even when we can see the trail just fine. Sometimes when I'm really "feeling" the trail I can run just as fast without my headlamp on as I can with it on. Give it a try the next time you're running in the dark. It's not as difficult as it sounds.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I really like when I take a fall when I'm running. It doesn't happen very often but as long as I don't hurt myself I really like the feeling I get from the transition of being on my feet to suddenly being on the ground. It reminds me how vulnerable I am when running along a trail with roots, rocks, mud, ice, and snow. I almost always pop back up before I even realize I have fallen, and I usually feel a lot better than I did before I fell. I guess part of it is from a rush of adrenaline, but I also think a lot of it is from being reminded of my vulnerability out on a technical trail. There is something exhilarating and uplifting in that. There is something empowering in feeling so vulnerable and bouncing up from it without injury.

Does anyone else like when they fall during a run? Or am I just crazy?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Organic Running

More and more each day I find myself running with a natural, organic, in the moment approach. Whereas my running used to be all about planned hills, distance, tempo, and intervals, I now hit the trail and see where it takes me.

Today I wasn't even that excited to go out for a run. The weather was really nice but I was in a frustrated mood and I kind of just wanted to go home and eat a bunch of food and go to bed. But instead we ran. And we climbed. It was cold and windy up high, but the cool air felt like medicine. Sitting on top of Gastineau Peak I felt whole for the first time all day. And then we began to run down. At first I was too cold to push hard and eventually I just kind of forgot about the notion that I could use gravity to run fast down the mountain. About halfway down though my friend Dan was feeling like playing around and he blew past me making some joke about how slow I was going. And then it was on. We continued into a pace that at most times might seem frantic, but because we had spend 90 minutes "warming up" to that speed it felt very smooth and natural. And so we sped up more. Eventually we were really cruising down the mountain and it felt so nice to think about nothing other than where to place my next footstep on the technical trail. We didn't plan to run that fast, but just letting go and allowing it to happen made for a nearly perfect run that trained both my body and my mind to be a better runner, and a better person, even if my quads are a little sore from it tonight.

I can't wait to see what tomorrow's run brings.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Too Much Work And Not Enough Play

Back in the routine and busyness of life in Juneau.

I'm running more right now than I thought I would be. I'm also working 10+ hours a day this week and I'm getting pretty worn out. I need to get more rest but on days like today the only time I was content and in a good space in my mind was the 75 minutes I spent running. I love that my running can provide this for me, but I don't like these times when I feel like my running is an outlet for being too busy and/or stressed in everything else I do. It's really not sustainable and I acknowledge that. Next week I go back to a normal work schedule of about 6 hours a day so that should make it a lot easier for my running to fit into my life in a more healthy way. From there I'll start running everyday again and move forward toward my next race.

Thinking pretty seriously about racing the Mountain Masochist 5o miler on November 7th but before I can plan on that I need to find a way to make my Alaska Airlines mileage balance grow by about 20,000 miles because there's no way I can afford to buy a ticket with cash right now. I'm working on it. I'm trying to imagine that if I just think about it enough I'll find a way to be able to get out to Virginia. Or maybe I'm thinking about it too much.

And maybe one of these days soon I'll have enough time to post something of interest or value on this blog. Probably not though.