Monday, April 28, 2008


I'm currently spending a couple days with a friend in Hood River, Oregon. Tomorrow morning I'll be heading south some more, spending a couple days getting down to San Francisco.

I'm feeling much better about the shape I'm in for the Miwok than I did just a week ago. I've gotten some great runs in the past few days and I just keep feeling stronger everyday. I guess I should do a bit of a taper here now but I'm just feeling so good that it's hard to ease back. I'll probably try to do some more biking the rest of this week and ease off the running as much as my mind will allow me. It's tough to cut back though when every run feels really good and takes me to exciting new places that I've never seen and likely never will see again.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


As expected I'm very anxious and unsettled my first few days away from home. When I used to take trips like this on a regular basis it was always the first 7-10 days that didn't feel quite right.

Today sure was nice though. I didn't drive anywhere today so I spent the entire day outside. That's a good feeling. I found a nice camp last night in national forest near Mt. Ranier so I've decided to stay here again tonight. I ran 11 miles this morning and then biked 50 in the afternoon.

The bike ride was spectacular. I headed toward Mt. Ranier National Park figuring I'd go until the road was closed for the winter and then come back and check out some of the forest service roads and trails around here. When I got to the gate across the road though I noticed that there was a lane plowed on the other side. Thus over the gate and up I went. I had the road completely to myself and it just kept climbing all the time. Eventually the snow banks were as tall as me. Some amazing views of Mt. Ranier up there. Another mile and the snowbanks were twice as high as me. Getting close to the pass, but also into some noticeable avalanche areas. I finally decided I would turn back once I had gone 25 miles. This brought me very close to the pass and I probably should have just pedaled another 10 minutes to the pass but by this point there was so much snow that I was getting concerned for my safety. In spots the banks rose straight up from the white line 20+ feet.

Cruising back down was even faster than expected - continual 30 mph for almost 10 miles without pedaling! I got pretty cold but the air eventually warmed enough to stop shivering. I love a good climb like that. That makes 50 miles feel so easy because I got to cruise the entire second half of the ride and by the time I finished I more or less forgot about the difficult climb getting up there.

Tomorrow I plan to drive to Portland.

Friday, April 25, 2008


Survived the seemingly endless ferry ride.

A couple posts below written on the boat.

Heading to Seattle today and hoping to find somewhere to get out for a run and/or ride.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Funny People

This boat has been going now for almost 24 hours since Ketchikan. It's a beautiful place to be but eventually it all starts to look the same and I await anxiously for landfall tomorrow morning. And then of course it will be the reality of down south. Open space, tangled freeways, and so many choices. I'm not sure I'm ready for all this right away. I may need to drive a few miles from Bellilngham, park my car, and get away on foot or bike for a few hours - as a way of adjusting more slowly to my new reality.

The confines of this boat become more and more obvious with each hour. I recognize everyone now, and all their patterns. This in turn means all these people recognize me. I do my best to avoid eye contact so as to avoid direct conversation, but eventually confinement wins. It's not that I"m entirely opposed to conversing with strangers, but this kind of forced small talk with people I would otherwise not ever be in contact with is a bit difficult for me. Slowly I see it taking place more and more throughout the boat, but I'm always able to avert my eyes to some other task - reading a book, eating a sandwich, taking a nap - so as to avoid direct involvement in these conversations.

But then it's hard for me to not listen. There's the drunk guy who says "you know" at least once in every sentence and has preached to at least 2 other travelers the importance of the right to bear arms and that anyone who has ever shot a gun in their life should be a lifetime member of the NRA. Luckily he's spent almost all of his time in the coctail lounge, which I have yet to venture into.

An amusing conversation between 2 strangers at dinner tonight: one man needs to be able to run 1.5 miles in 10 minutes to pass a test for some reason. I missed the beginning of the conversation so I never caught what this test was actually for. Between the two of them they basically convinced each other that this was an impossible feat for anyone other than Olympic class runners. They were certain after all that the world record for the mile was somewhere around 6:00. Even the guy who claimed to have run most everyday this winter to get ready for this seemed to believe this. As the conversation unfolded he went from being somewhat convinced he could actually do it to being certain that few people in the world could do it. He looked healthy and fit. When he runs this thing in about 9:00 he'll probably be contacting sponsors to back his Olympic dreams.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Ketchikan came and went way too fast and now I'm stuck with the reality of being confined to this boat for the next 36 hours. And apparently they only have one movie to show as they are about to put Juno on for the second time in 24 hours. At least the weather's perfect and at least I got in a 3.5 hour run in Ketchikan.

I found the town to be an interesting place that reminded me at once of so many extremely different places: Juneau, Moab, Virginia Beach, and at time a nameless small town in that area that's sort of Midwest, sort of Northeast, and sort of South - Southern Ohio, Southern Illinois, Northern Kentucky, Norther West Virginia, and Western Pennsylvania.

The most surprising thing about Ketchikan was how large it seemed. Despite a population of about quarter of Juneau it seems to be so much more filled with people. Traffic seeded to be going in all directions, at all times, like small towns in Southern California that are barely large enough to show up on a gas station road map. And like Juneau there seemed to be houses everywhere you could possibly conceive of putting them. Unlike Juneau though there were also houses and roads built in places you really can't even imagine houses and roads. And of course this left a very noticeable scar on the land.

The first thing you notice are all the forests outside of town that have been clear-cut over the decades in this area where timber was the primary industry for about 30 years. After a bit though the clear cuts begin to blend in with the landscape and you start to notice smaller things as you get closer to town center. This is an area where whole mountainsides are blasted away to put in new roadways and there seems to be huge gouges in the Earth much more noticeable than most places. I'm sure the steep topography is a large part of this, but Juneau is even more steeply situated and seems to have done a better job of building around rather than through the landscape. Juneau has somehow found a way to make a city of 30,000 fit comfortably into a very small area, whereas Ketchikan seems to have had a hard time making 8,000 people fit comfortably into what feels like a larger area.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Leaving Behind

I really didn't expect leaving Juneau to be so difficult. I guess I've spent so much of my 20 months living here talking about all the things I don't like about it that I didn't notice all the things I like about it.

As the ferry pulled out of Auke Bay this afternoon I was reduced to tears as my attachment to Juneau suddenly became so clear to me. It may not be the place I want to call home years from now, but even as I hit the road, not certain if or when I'll be back to Juneau, it's the closest thing I have to a home right now, and likely will remain so far at least another year.

I guess for me it's always been about finding people that I'm happy to be around. This is what made me so fond of living in Salt Lake City and now, even though Juneau has horrible weather and such isolation, I feel that the people here have caused this town to grow on me more than Homer ever did. It really hit me today as I was heading out to Auke Bay to catch the ferry just how much I am happy around the people of Juneau. I dropped Shannon off at work and was thinking he'd likely be the last person I know that I'd see before Utah. Between downtown and Auke Bay though I saw no less than 6 people I know. I didn't even get a chance to talk to any of them but somehow it was really comforting just to drive around and see people that I know.

It's going to be tough to come back here in the fall, because of how horrible the weather is at that time, but it's also very likely that I'll be very anxious to return to the community that I feel more a part of than any since adolescence.


Hoppin' on the ferry later today. It's sad to leave Juneau, especially in the midst of the nicest weather we've had here in a long time. I'm also very excited to get away... but very anxious about it all too. I suspect I won't sleep very well for my first few days on the road. Missing Jill. Missing my cats. And uncertain how the heck I'm going to pay for my summer adventure. I'm sure this will be big in my mind for the next several days.

Got in a nice 103 mile ride yesterday. I didn't feel very good for most of the ride but I just kept feeling better and better as I went. By the end I was actually feeling pretty strong. I guess sometimes it takes awhile to warm up.

I'm going to try to post as often as possible from the road. Not sure if I'll have a chance to do so before the Miwok on May 3rd. If not here's the link where results should be posted sometime after the race: click here Hopefully you won't have to scroll down too far to find my name.

I feel pretty good and ready for this race, but certainly not as ready as I would have been if I hadn't also been trying to build biking base at the same time. It would have been nice to build back up to 100+ mile weeks of running with long runs up around 50 miles but I only got up to about 90 and 30 for my longest week and my longest single run. Rode my bike almost 1,200 miles in the past 7 weeks so obviously this cut greatly into my running.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Where I'm At

Got out for a long run today (29 miles) and felt really good. The weather is perfect here now. After weeks of clouds, rain, and then a foot of snow a couple days ago we finally are seeing the sun. Yesterday was my last day of work, and on Tuesday I will board the ferry to Bellingham and then drive down to San Francisco to run the Miwok. Let's just say I'm pretty excited right now. I'm excited that I don't have to go to work anymore for now. I'm excited that my last 5 days in Juneau are going to be warm and sunny... it's supposed to be in the mid 50's by Sunday! I'm excited to ride the ferry to Washington. I'm excited to live out of my car again. I'm excited to be able to drive my car somewhere other than to the end of a dead end road 35 miles from town. I'm excited to race against top competition in the Miwok. And then after all of this I get to train for and ride the GDR. Life is good.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Got in 90 miles of riding today. It felt mostly nice to be out on the bike for almost 7 hours. There was a lot of wind. Also quite a bit of rain. And I made the typical mistake with 20 miles to go that even though I was hungry I would just wait until I got home to eat anything else. Finally with less than 5 miles from home I was getting dizzy and light headed so I sucked down some peanut m&m's and sunflower seeds which was just enough to get me home. Six weeks from now a 7 hour ride will hopefully feel short, but right now this is the longest ride I've done since October and I'm definitely feeling good and tired out tonight. Something tells me the GDR might be a little bit difficult :)

Monday, April 14, 2008


Decided to give myself a birthday present today of one the most difficult workouts I have ever done. Nothing compared to Catra who runs her age in hours each year on her birthday, but in many ways my workout today felt as demanding as a 32 hour run may have.

I wasn't even out for 4 full hours but the weather made it feel like 10 or 12. It was about 35 degrees, windy, and raining or snowing the entire time. I started out with a 13 mile ride out to the high school track. After a bit of a warm up I started an interval workout of 25 x 400m. I ran the first five pretty mellow (~1:25); the next five a bit harder (~1:17); the middle five as hard as I could (~1:10); and then slowly decreased the last 10 down to about 1:30 for the last few.

By this point I was exhausted, cold, and wet through to the bone and I still had to ride 13 miles to get home. I had all I could do to get my numb hands to work enough to get back into my cycling shoes. I put on every piece of clothing I had with me (which were all soaking wet) and ground out the ride home.

I guess on paper it doesn't sound like too hard of a workout, my interval times weren't even that fast and biking 26 miles is no big deal. In reality though I worked at a very high rate for every single mile and every single interval. When I was running I must have been carrying an extra 5 pounds of water absorbed into my clothing and when I was biking home it was so windy that I was almost always below 10mph pushing virtually as hard as I could. This was one of those workouts in which I felt like every minute was going to be the last that I could endure, and yet I just kept going, and pushing harder and harder.

Without the weather this would have simply been one of my harder workouts in awhile, but the mental and physical stress created by the horrible weather made this a serious test of my ability to keep going when EVERYTHING was telling me to stop. And now that I'm at home, dry, warm, and nourished it's a good feeling to have passed this test.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

What Goes Down Must Come Up

Fighting through a sinus infection right now. Set out to ride 80+ miles yesterday and only made it ~40. I was crawling so slow getting home and every time we went up a hill I got light headed and thought I was going to pass out. Good times. I think today I'll be taking the day completely off... maybe a short run later if my head clears up a bit but I'm not expecting that to happen.

On top of this the weather is just horrible right now. It has been horrible for the past month but these past two days are especially horrible. ~40 degrees and steady rain has been the standard since early March. We haven't yet had a day that's been warmer than 45 and it's rained about 37 of the last 40 days.

The good thing is that it can only get better from here. The weather has to improve sometime soon and I'm sure my illness will clear out in another day or two. Perhaps a couple days sick will actually help my body get some rest that it likely needs, as I was feeling pretty tired in my workouts on both Wednesday and Thursday.

Being sick really sucks, but I always feel really good (physically and mentally) just after I recover from an illness. So right now I'm just trying to be content knowing that by Monday or Tuesday this funk that's all around me today will be a distant memory. Hopefully the sun will even come out once or twice before I leave town on the 22nd.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Fire On The Mountain

I expected I would wake up feeling sick this morning. I had a headache and a sore throat when I went to bed last night. Once I got out of bed though I realized that I felt fine and the sun was shining.

After breakfast I got out for a great hill run. I ran a route on snowmobile trail that climbs about 1,800 feet in 3 miles. I dropped back down to sea level and then ran up it again, this time using the hiking trail that goes to the same place. I felt very strong on this run.

In the past 4 days I have done a speed run that felt really good, a distance run that felt really good, and today's hill run that felt really good. It's always fun to have a day when you surprise yourself with how good of shape you are in. It's even more fun to have several days in a row in which you surprise yourself everyday.

I ran in a new pair of La Sportiva Fireblade's today. So far I love these shoes. They fit my feet perfect right out of the box and I had no numbness in my toes which I pretty much always get when I'm running uphill in snow. I've still got some testing to do, but I'm thinking these may be my shoe of choice for the Miwok.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Measuring Up

I ran in a local 10k road race yesterday. I was planning to do an interval workout on the track but once I knew there was a local race I decided to use it as a tempo training run and then I'll do the intervals sometime later in the week.

The 10k tempo run ended up feeling really good. My only plan was to run each mile faster than the previous. The first two miles were essentially a warmup at 6:30 pace. The third mile I did in about 6:00; the fourth mile in about 5:45; and each of the last 2 miles in 5:30.

I ran in this same event a year ago, and I thought I was in pretty good shape then, but I found out yesterday that I'm in much better shape this year. Last year I really struggled in running a 37:30. Like yesterday that run was meant to be a tempo run but I really pushed myself beyond a comfortable tempo pace. If I recall correctly, I was actually quite sore and worn out after that run last year. Yesterday though was totally the opposite. I ran a 36:45, felt much more comfortable doing so, and even with 30 miles of biking yesterday as well it didn't really take anything out of me. I just got in from a 25 mile run this morning and felt quite fresh.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Evolutionary Sprints

I did some sprint intervals on my bike this morning. This is actually the first time I have ever done timed intervals on a bike.

My workout was 17 one minute sprints with one minute recovery.

I've done countless workouts similar to this on foot, but on bike it's a whole new thing. At least for me.

It's always funny when I hear strong bikers talk about just not being able to run comfortably. For me a workout on a bike is so much more uncomfortable than a similar workout on foot. I guess it's just me though. Although it is hard to dispute the fact that humans have spent thousands of years evolving into the foot travellers that we are today, and basically no time evolving as cyclists.

Cycling is really an unnatural motion for the human body, especially mine which is so fine tuned for running. Thus lies the primary challenge of cycling: trying to teach our bodies to do something that they really aren't programmed to do. And somehow, even though I almost vomited up my pancakes on my second sprint this morning, I'm really excited to find out in the next few months just what I can (and can't) do on a bike.