Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I'm in Portland now before heading onto Ashland tomorrow and then San Francisco by Thursday night. I've had a few days of some doubts about where my body will be for the race on Saturday but things do seem to be coming back together in just enough time. I've been dealing with a minor head/chest cold but it's been just enough to give me a good amount of overall body fatigue and some burning lungs. I felt horrible on my runs on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but much better yesterday and today. Should be ready to roll by the weekend.

At times over the past several weeks I've put a lot of pressure on myself to finish top three at Miwok, but now over the past couple weeks I've let most of that go. I simply want to run the best race I have in me this weekend and see how that plays out. I would love to qualify for Western States, and I know I have a great shot to do so, but I'm not going to get too bent out of shape if I don't. My race this weekend will be mostly about some redemption for what was, in my mind, a fairly poor race for me last year at Miwok. Even though I finished 3rd there last year it was probably the least smooth race that I've had in the past two years. I was both mentally and physically fried by the end of that one... and not in the good way that you can be fried at the end of a race, but rather in the way that was only remedied by two full months with almost no running. Granted a huge part of that time off from running was because I was training for and racing The Great Divide bike race, but even without that I would have needed some serious time off after Miwok last year. What I want from this weekend is to feel that I got even with that course for how much it kicked my ass last year. We'll see. Oh yeah, and I want to win...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dease Lake, BC

Heading South. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere in British Columbia. We were planning to camp last night but there's still several feet of snowpack here so we opted for a motel.

I'm feeling a little sick the last couple days. This is my second chest cold in as many months. Hopefully this one doesn't last 30 days like the last one did!

I feel like I miss Juneau in many ways right now but at the same time it was really nice to get out of there. I had a lot of things going on in my last few weeks there that were really causing too much stress. As a result I was eating and sleeping very poorly. As soon as we left town though I instantly had a better appetite and the first night I slept more than I had in any night in over a month.

Hopefully my illness now and my anxiety in my last few weeks in Juneau don't combine to negatively effect things at the Miwok. At this point all I can do is show up and run my race. To be honest I have a lot of confidence going into this one. Despite any doubts about some of these little things I feel like I'm probably in the best shape of my life right now. I guess I'll find out next weekend.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Easy Miles

Got in a great 38 mile run today. Had 4 friends come out with me for different parts of it so I was only running alone for about 7 miles. It's amazing how much mentally easier a long run can be when you get some people to run with you. I have plenty of things I could have spent the 5 plus hours trying to weed through in my mind, but it was kind of nice to get away from my own thoughts for a bit and just enjoy the company of others. I'm glad I don't do most of my running with other people but it has been nice lately to have the thoughts of others help chew up some of the mileage.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Southbound Again

This week has certainly been one of the most crazy, busy, and tiring weeks of my life. I've run about 115 miles in the last 7 days, worked for 6 days straight, hungout late with friends at least three of those nights, and slept about half as much as normal. Oh yeah, and I just packed up almost everything I own in about 3 hours to move to a storage unit. Hope to get better sleep tonight because I'm planning on doing about 35 miles tomorrow. After that I begin my taper for Miwok and try to relax and enjoy my last 3 days in Juneau before rolling out of town first thing on Wednesday.

I'm really excited for the next couple months, but like anytime I make such a drastic change in my life there is also a lot of anxiety that goes along with it. I suspect the next 5 or 6 days will be loaded with stress, anxiety, and more nights without enough sleep but it sure will be nice later next week to be rolling down the Alaska Highway toward the lower 48 with nothing but two months of summer sunshine ahead of us.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Down The Road

I took a bit of a recovery week this week. Did only about 80 miles, a lot of which was with friends, so a bit slower than normal too. I feel great now and ready to hit a hard 10 day block of training before a bit of a taper before Miwok.

I can't say for sure if I'll run faster at Miwok than I did a year ago, but I do know that I'm in better shape right now than I was a year ago. When I look back through my training log and remember some of the runs I was doing last April I can remember some of them feeling so hard at the time. The same runs at the same pace right now feel ridiculously easier. It's shocking to me how much improvement we can get out of our bodies with consistent training. The question though is can we convert that into faster times come race day. I plan to find out in a few weeks. I ran 8:34 last year at Miwok. I'm feeling enough stronger now than I was a year ago that I should be able to run at least 15-20 minutes faster than that.

On the homefront here in Juneau I've got one more week of work, then 5 days to get all packed up (moving stuff into storage), and then on April 22nd Jill and I will be hitting the road for the long drive down the Alaska Highway and onto San Francisco for the Miwok before heading over to Utah. Gonna spend most of May in Utah and then Jill will be riding in the Great Divide Race beginning on June 11th. At that time I'll either be heading to California to train/scout the Western States course or to Colorado to train/scout/acclimatize for Hardrock. At this point I have almost certainly dropped the idea of doing WS and HR. Because of the competition that's going to be there this year I have made WS my first choice, but if that doesn't work out I'm going to be pretty dang excited to be able to put my focus into Hardrock (provided I can get in from #14 on the wait list). The way I see it is that I win either way. I either get to do the most competitive 100 miler of the year or the toughest one. Either one is really freakin' exciting.

Sometime in July I'll be done with my early summer racing and Jill will be done with the GDR. At that point we'll head back up here to Juneau and something will happen from there. Something, afterall, always does happen. We'll certainly be staying in Juneau for awhile at that time but it's very undecided right now just how long that will be. Either way I'm sure my late summer/autumn will include another trip back down south for 2 or 3 races. Maybe grouped together as a 3 week trip with 2 races or maybe a couple separate short trips. We'll see. I've got my eye on Wasatch (title to defend); the Bear 100 (heard nothing but great things about this one); the DRTE 100 (more climbing than Hardrock!); Cactus Rose 100 (again, nothing but great things); and The North Face 50 (can you say "cold, hard cash"?)

So there's a really loose outline of my next 8 months. Lots of uncertainties, but I'm certain it's going to be fun, which is the most important thing. Oh, and I forgot to mention that somewhere in there I'm planning to win a million dollars in the lottery :)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Montrail Rules

It was announced today that the Montrail Mountain Masochist and The Hardrock '09 both won major awards in Outside Magazine and Backpacker Magazine. The Mountain Masochist was recognized for the "Gear of the Year Award" in Outside and the Hardrock was recognized by Backpacker as the best run/hike crossover shoe.

Glad to see I'm not the only one really digging the new Montrail shoes. I actually haven't had a chance to run in the new Hardrock yet. I'll give my opinion when I do. The Mountain Masochist though have quickly become my current favorite shoe. I know I talked about them just a couple weeks ago but I recommend them so highly that I feel compelled to mention them again. I now have over 250 miles in my first pair of them and a long run of about 25 miles. They are super comfortable; great on trail and roads alike; fit like a glove right out of the box; and seem to be holding up very well. I actually can't think of one thing that I would say they could do better. I'm not yet ready to say they are my favorite shoes ever, but only because I wouldn't make that claim until I'd at least worn fully through a pair.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Wrong Tools For The Job

It's shocking to me how specialized our bodies can become when we focus so closely on just one activity as I have been doing with my running for about 9 months now. I went snowboarding yesterday for the first time in a long time and after one run down the mountain I felt fatigue in muscles that I had pretty much forgotten existed in my legs. I do a fair amount of weight training, biking, and cross country skiing to supplement my running, but lately I've been focusing more and more on the running. My training approach seems to do a good job of getting me into good shape to run ultras, but it sure doesn't do much to help me keep up with the kids on the slopes. It was comical how tired my legs would feel any time I rode for more than about 30 seconds without stopping for a little break, all the while teenagers, many who have probably never run a mile in their life, were blowing by me.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Race Fix

Ran a local 10k this morning. Would have liked to feel better than I did but I was very pleased with my time. I ran a 35:03 with pretty much a perfectly even split. My legs didn't feel very speedy at all but I was almost 2 minutes faster today than I was a year ago in the same race!

It was a fun morning. I talked my roommate and his girlfriend into heading out for the race. They both ran great and had a good time. In the past couple years I've gotten to know dozens of the runners here in Juneau and most all of them were out for the race today. I've talked about it a bit before but it's worth mention again just how impressed I am with the running community here in Juneau. For a town of only 30,000 people and no surrounding communities it amazes me how many avid and very talented runners there are. Per capita I doubt there are too many cities in the country with as many talented runners as Juneau.

I've gotten 3 weeks of really good training behind me now. I felt a bit sluggish all week this past week, but I was already planning a bit of a recovery week this coming week so hopefully if I cut back to about 80 miles for the next week I should be ready to amp back up for a really ambitious 7-10 days after that, and then ease back into a taper for The Miwok.

I think I have a great shot at top 3 at Miwok but I'm certainly not taking anything for granted. I am definitely in better shape than I was a year ago but come race day anything can happen. I'm going there very much hoping to qualify for Western States with a top 3 finish but I've also got some great racing options in my mind should I not do so. No matter how it plays out it's going to be a super fun spring/summer of racing for me. There are so many races out there I want to run. I just need to be careful not to try to run too many of them.