Monday, April 14, 2014

Once A Runner...

Once I was a runner.  A real runner.  I breathed and lived for the pain and glory.  But I was just a child and the weight of my world was too much.  By age 11, I lost the fire and wanted to be a normal kid doing normal things.  I wanted to be average.  So, I broke my Old Man's heart and quit running for 20 years.

Over the years I looked back at these experiences with bitterness, as if I had lost most of my childhood. It was a source of strife with my father that drove a wedge between us.  The struggles we had over my quitting are among the most trying times of my life.  It brought out the worst in us.

However, as the years passed and in spite of my disdain for running, it kept it's hooks in me.  There is just something about it.  A few times a year I would sneak out to explore some back roads or obscure atv trails near my home in Ohio.  During these outings I could feel it tugging at me.  By the next day, the soreness and exhaustion reminded me why I left it behind.  In the end, it wore me down and won me back.  Once I found mountain running, it was all over.  It is simple and pure.  It scratches so many itches. 

Recently, I dug up some old photos from boxes in the garage.  I knew what I would find, but I wanted to remember it and feel the "weight" again.  It is amazing how happy it made me to relive those times.  The regret is gone.  Now I know...I had not missed out on anything.  I lived those days fully.  My days as the prodigal runner were a gift.  My father's greatest gift.  The gift I cherish every day, 30 years later.

Rob DeCastella, fresh off his Boston marathon win.  I was 7 and star-struck.  This guy was devilishly handsome and charismatic.  He had the perfect running career- great at every distance up to the marathon.  He held the Marathon World Record from 1981-84.  Meeting Deek was a life-changing moment for me.  He was the most influential runner for me, along with Jim Ryun. 

10yrs, 3 months old.  5 miles- 29:53.  My old Nike Duelist flats weighed 2 oz!  I was 4'9"

8 years old.

August 1985.  I was 6 and the Old Man was 35.  Hard to believe I'll be 35 next month.  He had just quit smoking and drinking and we had just taken up the jogging fad.  Back in those days, if someone saw you running, they would pull over and ask you if you needed help or just scream and throw things at you.

My PR's from the old training logs I dug up:
Age 9- 5:18 mile.  39 min 10k.
Age 10- 5:05 mile.  5 mile 29:53. 37:56 10k hilly.  10 mile 63:07  hilly.
Age 11-  17:13 5k on a hilly xc course. 4:56 mile. 2:14 800m.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Bro Time

My BFF Nick came to visit from Colorado.  We caught up on some video gaming, steelheading, sushi slaying, and Lobo chasing.  Most of all it was just great to catch up and shoot the shit with someone I love.  I have been living a pretty isolated existence of hardening myself for the rigors of running 100 miles in the mountains.  My Brandi is a constant source of strength and the person that I rely on for my sanity...but some guy time is still important.  I have let many facets of life slip through the cracks of fatigue and the grinding rhythm of training.  It is fantastic to have great friends that don't turn their back on me because I disappear for a while.  Nick is a solid guy- a Firefighter/Paramedic and true Renaissance Man.  He has been with me through every high and low in my life since we met in the 9th grade.  I owe him so much.  He will be captaining an aid station for me at the McCall Trailrunning Classic, next time I see him in July. 

Over Nick's right shoulder is a huge her of elk- just 200 yards away.  A nasty, windy, sleety day of hunting. 

Nick and our Guide Jess with Nick's wild steely.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Excercise Practice: March 30 to April 5, 2014

Sun 3/30: Boise.  13mi, 2500'.  Robie Creek Tempo.  Start at beginning of dirt.  Climb 5 miles to Adalpe Summit, fast back to truck.  Started 1 mile easy.  Then progressive tempo to summit arriving in 35mins (7min avg pace for the 2000' climb).  Few fast miles back down at 4:45 pace.  Met Brandi and went back up with her easy and back to truck.

Mon: 3/31: AM1- Brundage Skin and Ski 2x.  3100'.  Easy effort for 29 min climb splits. 

Tues: 4/1:  AM1- Brundage Skin and Ski 2x hard, 3100'.  Tempo effort first lap 25:50- 160 max hr.  Second lap was 27 min with each tenth of a mile my watch was set to beep- alternating easy and hard efforts.

AM2- Gym.  Sauna 15 mins.  Bike 30 mins.  5 mins easy, then 8 x 1min hard/ 2 mins easy.  Cranked the 8 mins very hard out of saddle on max resistance, getting HR up to 165- hard for me on a bike.  Strength, core and mobility work after.

Weds 4/2:  Brundage Skin and Ski 2x 3100'.  26:10, 30:40.  Went out hard on first lap and fizzled up high due to hard day yesterday.  Need to be more patient and ease into the workout smarter.  The problem is that there were other skiers on the hill ahead of me and I wanted to pass them.  I need to race soon.

Thurs 4/3:  Rapid River easy/long 5000', 2:30 mins,  16 miles.  Felt flat all day.  Took it easy and cut it shorter than the planned 4 hours.  Up to McCrea Cabin, then up some more to snow line.  Back easy with Brandi to J Jones Grave, then picked it up to 8 min pace last 5 miles.

Fri 4/4:  AM1- Brundage Skin and Ski 2x Easy.  3100'. Splits 29+, 30+. 
Am2- Gym.  Bike 30 mins intervals.  2 mins easy/ 2 mins hard.  Cranked hard out of saddle on the new spin bike at max tension.  Did 5 reps of 2 mins hard.  Then, did mobility and strength work, and hit the pool.  30 mins in pool.  5 mins easy, then 20 mins of 30 secs hard/ 30 secs easy.  Finish with 5 mins easy.  Went very hard.

Sat:4/5:  AM- Brundage Skin & Ski 2x, 3100'.  Easy effort.  4 inches of fresh meant brilliant and effortless skiing. 
Noon- McCall Track session with Brandi and Mo.  3 miles total.  Easy running several laps with 1 harder kilometer thrown in- 3:08.  Went home and tried to watch basketball.  Total fail.  3+ hour nap.

Totals and Recap:  51 miles, 23,000' vert.  Skiing is still good with new snow still piling up and urging me out into the dark mornings to get the freshies.  2 weeks until Robie Creek Half Marathon, but I still feel like the skiing is my best bet for training in the long term, so I will ride that gravy train until the snow fails me.  Probably stay in the pattern a while- skiing every day, doing a long run, tempo run and my faster work on the bike/pool intervals. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Hell's Canyon Run and Training Update

Hell's Canyon Run

Post race beers with our friend Hannah and her bird dogs.  This terrain is typical of the entire canyon- allegedly the deepest in the continuous 48 states.
Brandi and I went down to the Snake River a few hours north of our home for a nice gathering of like-minded runners.  We got on a jet boat and were transported 25 or so miles up Hell's Canyon to fend for ourselves to get back.  This is a low key event that wishes to stay that way, so you will have to track it down through the appropriate channels if you are interested.  Instead of hyping it up- I'll do what what ultra-blogs do best- hype myself up!

I went there to run hard in the sun...and I did.  It felt awesome after a winter of 30 minute miles and -10F.  No joke on that.  The trail is over-grown with bunch grass and cacti, with a rock under almost every step.  I was very pleased to find each smooth section to be pacing 5 low.  But around every hairpin corner was a momentum killing techy section or another short/steep grinder.   Just when you got going, there was something to slow you down.  Nevermind much of the race punishes a simple stumble with a fatal plunge over a cliff into the raging and icy Snake.  The thump of a military Chinook chopper could be heard prowling above the angry waters looking for a body from a rafting trip.  A scary reminder to run smart.  I planned to keep it reasonable until the 8 miles to go point, where the bigger hills start and continue in your face to the finish.  It was great to feel strong as I pushed up the final steep hills with energy to burn, finding my way back to Pittsburg Landing in 3hrs 15 mins.  My watch registered 4200' vertical gain.   A perfect early season workout in such a beautiful setting. We hung out a while and chatted as our friends old and new came along to join us at the finish. Sitting on the tailgate drinking beers and telling tales of pain and joy.
B finished strong in just over 5 hours.  Photo: Yadi Spangenberg
Ultimate Direction Jurek Grip Handheld and Essential Waist Pack
1 VESPA Ultra Concentrate
15oz Water
2 VFUEL Gels
SCOTT MK4 (discontinued road shoe)


On the training front, I have been doing very little running.  I have kept it to no more than 2 runs per week.  That said, I am in far better shape and health than I have ever been at the end of winter.  Perhaps better overall shape period, as some stout PR's on training runs have fallen at low heartrates.  Here is a typical training schedule that I have followed since December 1, after taking November off of exercise completely.

Running: 2 days a week with a few days between each run.  20-30 miles and around 7,000-10,000 vert total.  One short and intense (5-10) miles at tempo pace or broken into intervals of differing lengths and intensities, sometimes on the treadmill, always on a steep grade.  The other run is a 4 hour mountain run usually at Rapid River with no calories or water over 18-22 miles and 5,000-8,000 feet vert.  The long run can include surges on the hills if I felt strong and some off-trail hiking on very steep slopes where the elk live.

Skinning/Skiing: 2-4 times per week  3,000-12,000 per session.  My standard is 2 climbs at Brundage at tempo effort totalling 3,100 vert over 2.1 miles in 25-28 mins each climb. On easy days, instead of a short/easy run, I go up to the hill and keep my heartrate low and do 28-30 min climbs.  A few days this winter, I did big volume climbing- going 4-7 hours at a slower pace and racking huge vert.

Cross Training:  Approximately 2-3x per week, I go to the Aspen Club in McCall for my cross training.  Usually one of these sessions involved a few of the things below, sometimes after the workouts above.  Once a week (minimum) I wear lots of clothes and sweat a ton.  Fun and gross.
  • Deep Water Running (DWR): Early in the winter, I did lots of pool running with an emphasis on maximal effort for short intervals.  I have phased this out, but will come back to it at any time if I need high intensity work with no pounding.
  • Gym Bike: Once per week I do a session of all out 8 x 1 minute work reps at max resistance, out of the saddle, with 2 minute rest intervals.  I also did recovery sessions of 30 minutes.
  • Stepmill.  The mill is money for racking vert.  At a good clip, I get around 4,000 feet of gain in an hour.  I mixed this in for some bonus vert when I didn't get to the ski hill. I usually wear a 6-10 lbs pack for this.  Generally a few plates in my AK race vest.
  • Treadmill.  Besides running hill intervals (10-15% slope),  I frequently walk on the treadmill with a 6-10 lbs pack at a 15% incline at 4-5mph.  Do this for an hour and you will see it is a great workout.
  • Strength/balance/mobility work.  Huge emphasis on balancing things out in my hips and core this winter.  Every day, usually twice.  Early in the winter I did circuit classes 2-3x per week with zillions of squats, lunges, pushups, planks, etc.  However, this quickly builds too much muscle, so I stop this after a month to focus on more functional and subtle moves.  I like to impress the meatwad beastmen with some Jane Fondas, superstizzacked into some sick clamshells.
  • Plyometrics.  Jumping, leaping, bounding.  No more old man ultra jogger.  I used to be fast when I was 10.  I want it back.  Key moves are broad jumps, high box launch jumps, 1 leg high box jumps and the dreaded 1 leg hop up a big stairwell at the gym.
  • Sauna.  15-50 mins before and after training.
So, why not just run?  Anyone who has read any of my whiny ramblings from winter and spring would know that I am not able to stay healthy with the brutal cold and harsh surfaces I have near home.  My pattern since starting running a few years ago has been injured shins all winter allowing no quality training December to July.  My goal is to avoid the huge down time that each season has lost due to these injuries.  With a bigger base of training volume, but no damage, I should be stronger as the local trails come into shape and my running takes off.  This will build to a natural peak in late-August for a romp through the Alps. 


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

A winter in the hills and canyons

A snippet of my training since January.  I've been off the grid.  Hungry for adventure in 2014.

Rapid River West Fork.  One four-hour run here each week.

Glassing hundreds of elk.

B skating in a local relay.  Their team was the Nordic Ninjas.

Wind River Trail and the Bouillon Mine Trail above the Salmon River, just east of Riggins, ID.

Wind River Bridge over the Salmon River.

Sergeants Mountain (North Brundage Peak, 7800'-ish) just after the new year.

Fall Creek Summit with the Crestline Trail running north. This is the heart of the IMTUF 100 course.

Brandi and her girlfriends skate skiing to Burgdorf in January.  They ski 21 miles to the Hot Springs.  Party it up with various libations.  Then, ski 21 miles back home the next day.  This old forest road is the start and finish of IMTUF 100, just a 1/4 mile from Burgdorf.

B, earning turns on a cold Brundage morning.
Another awesome day in the Canyons.

Robie Kitty.  Rollin in swag.

Shell-shocked and hypothermic after 5 hours and 11k vertical.  Skinning and skiing at Tamarack on a miserable -10F day.

Happy times with Miss Molly at Rapid River.


Molly will be in Nepal...walking across it for the next few months.  She should be ready to rip IMTUF a new one when she gets back home.  Strength and Honor young lady

Friday, February 28, 2014

The greatest race ever run

If you have never seen this race and don't know the outcome, please don't look it up or click ahead to watch the finish.  Just watch it.  It lasts only 1 min 45 secs.

First...Get psyched up like it is your own race day.   Today, you "the nobody," will be racing in the Olympics.  Nobody knows you and you are written off as a fluke who doesn't belong here.  However, you know something they don't know.  It's time to show them what you have been building while the world had its eyes on bigger and better things.  What you built day after day in the heat, wind, snow and rain.  Today is the day and you will show them all.

Finally, the time has arrived and the gun goes off.  You have waited patiently for months, now you will wait one more lap, THEN MAKE IT HAPPEN...

We may all be nobodies now, but as this race proves- even Napoleon Dynamite from Canton, Ohio in a goofy painters cap can be the best in the world one day, on the biggest stage.

Now I'm off to train with fire and purpose.  May we all have our Dave Wottle day just once before we die.  Yours might just be today.

Happy training,

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Twenty-seven, 8 x10, color glossy photographs, with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one...

Ok, now it's officially Thanksgiving. A Turkey Trot and Alice's Restaurant are more Thanksgiving than turkey and football.  Everyone enjoy this day of thanks.

Pretty good turnout.  Each year Brandi has grown it a little more.  Here, Brandi gives final instructions for the 6k course.  The Aspen Club's Third Annual Turkey Trot.

The overall winner...Timmy Olson???