Thursday, December 4, 2008

Avery's Big Blog

I've been meaning to write and post pics from our Arizona trip, but somehow I never get around to it. Instead I'll link to my parents' pictures from the trip, and steal a page from Avery's journal, which she did for school in lieu of her regular homework:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ouch.


Javelina didn't go so well for me. My IT band on my right side flared up again, and I had some other issues lower on that leg, I think from over-compensating a bit. At mile 30 I sat down to change shoes, and when I stood up again, I had that all-too familiar lock-up in my knee from an over-stressed IT band. IT isn't something to "run through". And I wasn't in the mood to walk 70 miles and wreck myself for the rest of the year. I wasn't happy about it, but I guess quitting was the right call.

Nice job to Jeff Riley who represented Oregon strong, and took the overall victory. There was some stiff competition, but Jeff ran smart early, and put the hurt on the field late to take the win by a large margin.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Jowling at the Moon

Just three short days to go until the Javelina Jundred. Make that two long work days plus one short travel day.

My legs are feeling great. I haven’t had the least bit of soreness/tightness in my knee / IT band in any runs the last couple weeks. The rest of me though… so/so. I’ve got a few more days to finish off a bit of a bug I’ve been fighting. At least symptoms have remained “above the neck”, so I should be fine. I always seem to get sick, or at least think I'm sick, before a race. "Above the neck" might be "in my mind."

All runners will be wearing transponders for the race. Race fans (I assume there are untold millions out there) can follow progress in real time on line at the Live Raceday Webcast.

Wish me luck!

M@

Monday, November 10, 2008

Party Favors

I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure when I was a kid, you’d go to a birthday party, have a good time, stuff your face with cake and ice cream, and that was enough. But somewhere along the line, “gift bags” became the norm, and it’s no longer enough to entertain and feed, but you need to send the little ones on their way with a bag full of goodies too.

(I wonder people of my parents’ generation had the same reaction when I was a kid… “In my day we’d go to a birthday party, give the birthday boy our one and only toy, then the birthday boy’s older brother would beat the snot out of us for two hours, until it was time to walk 4 miles back home… and we liked it!”)

So anyway, Saturday was Avery’s 6th birthday, and to celebrate, we hosted her and a dozen or so kids at the “bounce park”. The “bounce park” is a large, run-down, soon-to-be-condemned, dimly lit roller rink, with a leaky roof, horrifying restrooms, and creaky floors. They’ve got a bunch of those big, noisy, inflatable slides, climbing things, tunnels, bounce-rooms filled with balls, etc. There were at least four simultaneous birthday parties occurring, which mean forty or fifty fructose powered kids going full speed, in their socks, climbing, sliding, bouncing, pushing, shoving, falling, crying, screaming, and smearing every bodily fluid a prepubescent kid can spread, on, under, and through inflatable nylon adventures. Of course, the kids had a great time, while the parents looked on with a mixture of horror and amusement.

I had a few key responsibilities. One of which was to go pick up the pizza. This was a wonderful opportunity to take a long drive, in a quiet car, listen the game (OSU 36, UCLA 6), and just be away from the madness for a few minutes. I dutifully obeyed all speed limits during this ½ hour stretch.

After I got back, the hordes of children inhaled cheese pizza and fruit juice, and immediately ventured back into the “fun zone”. I began to clean up in preparation for cake and ice-cream. We had forgotten to bring trash bags, but I did find a smaller bag that appeared to have some trash in it, so I filled this bag a few times, each time emptying it into the dumpster outside.

It turned out, though, that what had initially appeared to be “trash” in this bag was, in fact, the dozen or so “gift bags” that were to be sent home with the party guests. I’d thrown them all into the dumpster. Bad, bad Dad! In my defense: 1) the room was very poorly lit, 2) despite my opinion of gift bags, I wouldn’t, and didn’t, actively try to subvert the process. To quote Homer Simpson: “Just because I don’t care, doesn’t mean I don’t understand. And 3) there is a very, VERY fine line between $20 worth of cheap plastic crap from the dollar store, and actual trash.

In fact, on this last point, I figure if you follow the “life cycle” of the gift bags - from petroleum extraction, to a refinery in the middle east, to a plastics manufacturing facility, to a production line in China where the plastic is assembled into toys, to an Ocean liner travelling across the Pacific, to a shipping dock in Seattle, on to a semi-truck, to the dollar store in Albany, to our house, to the party, to the party guests, and soon thereafter to the party guests’ trash cans, and finally into the local landfill – I’d say cutting out the step where the “toys” actually pass through the kids’ possession only cuts about 0.03% out of the toys’ life cycle. That really doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

But anyway, the kids were sent home without a gift bag, which caused confusion and horror so spread amongst the young guests. They did each get a glow stick, but it didn’t come in a bag, and some didn’t even glow, so they clearly weren’t up to the current party-favor standard. I hope Avery’s friends can forgive and move past this oversight prior to, say, Avery’s senior prom, or other key social milestones in a child’s life.

Monday, November 3, 2008

One Jundred, Coming Soon

OK, time to get my head into the fact that I’ve got a 100 mile race in less than 12 days.

Best case scenario is that my upcoming run will demonstrate that a year of running and training can’t be undone by a few weeks of unsteady and interrupted training and a couple nagging injury concerns; that residual fitness, cross training, and a precious few excellent recent training weeks and speed sessions, coupled with an excessively long and easy taper, is a recipe for a surprisingly strong 100 miler.

Worst case scenario is that my tendinitis hasn’t sufficiently healed, and I limp off the course early with a sore knee and a bruised ego.

I honestly wouldn’t be surprised at either result, but I’m just going to assume the first scenario and damn if it turns out otherwise.

Anyway, there’s not much I can do now to improve my fitness level or the health of certain tendons, except continue to rest, stretch, ice, and let sore parts heal – specifically my IT bands. First my left leg/knee was injured this summer. Eventually it came around, and I was downright confident in it, then, after my longest training run, my right IT band tightened up. It didn’t see that coming! My right IT band never got to the “I can’t run” point, and it was nowhere near as bad as my left, but it sure made me worry, and I’ve cut way back on the mileage since, doing only one “long” run, a 20 miler, during which I never quite felt or trusted that it was right. It’s feeling better now though, and I’m actually feeling pretty darn close to 100%. Though really, how can one tell? I’ve also got a matching IT band strap for my right leg, and an extra strap for below the knee that seems to ease stress down where the IT band connects to the lower leg. I’m not sure if these straps do any good or if I really need them, but they don’t hurt, so for the moment I’ll keep using them. But they do sort of give them impression that I’d crumple to the ground were I not held together with nylon and Velcro.

In lieu of high mileage for the last couple weeks, I’ve been doing lots of mountain biking, to keep up my aerobic fitness and just to get out in the forest and have fun. And in theory, it is low impact, so any residual running over-use injuries should heal nicely. In practice, though, it’s occasionally not-so-low impact. These occasions usually result from a disagreement between my bike and I about where rider and bike belong, relative to each other and the trail. Thus far, though, there’s minimal overlap between running-induced and mountain biking induced injuries.






Speaking of biking, check out the sweet shades Vic found along the trail. The dude must be living right!



Of course the other thing I’m always concerned about during a taper is coming down with a cold or flu, or perhaps Bowel Associated Dermatosis Arthritis Syndrome . This time around I’ve had the added bonus of having every lurking virus in the neighborhood visit my door, using small, candy-demanding persons as transport vehicles. If my immune system survives that, then there’s always Avery’s birthday this coming Saturday. Nothing says “germ warfare” more than a dozen or so six year olds with pizza and cake dripping from their hands and faces.

Wish me luck. I’ll need it.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Corvallis Fall Festival

We had a busy weekend in the greater Corvallis/Albany area, with lots of fun and excitement.

The Corvallis Fall Festival was this weekend. Jasmine was part of the Corvallis Art Guild booth selling paintings, and Avery was signed up to run the 1k Kids’ race.


We showed about 8:30 Saturday morning. Jasmine went to set up her paintings, while Avery and I looked for the start of the race. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it. After wandering around a while, I called my friend Todd, who I knew was running the 10k race. It turns out we were a day early – the race wasn’t until Sunday morning! I think Todd got a good laugh out of that.


So I dropped Avery back off with Jasmine, and took off for a run myself, while Jasmine took Avery to her Ballet lesson. After the lesson, Avery’s teacher invited her to “star” in the local production of “The Nutcracker Suite” this December! She’s very excited to be in a *real* play. She’ll be a bunny who hops across the stage once. Yep, I’m the father of a genuine Star. Very cool!


Jasmine had to work the Art Guild booth in the afternoon, so I finished my run back at central park and took Avery for the afternoon. Jasmine called me not long after with good news – for the first time she sold a painting! Yep, I’m now married to a PROFESSIONAL artist! Also very cool!


Saturday night we enjoyed a great BBQ with a bunch of runners, runners' families, and assorted freinds, at the Temple’s. Good food, good drinks, and the kids had a blast, as always, chasing each other around and feasting on desserts and cherry tomatoes, straight out of the garden.

Sunday morning we were back at the Fall Festival, where there really was a race held. Avery’s friends Gina and Carly also ran the 1k, as did one of her new friends from Kindergarten, Sabina. They all did great, and proudly wore their shiny finisher medals while gorging on finish line treats. After the 1k we enjoyed watching other friends run the 5k or the 10k, Avery spent some time playing in central park with old and new friends, and Gina and Avery took in a round of mini-golf. The local newspaper article and full results are here.


Here's a couple videos of the race.


Avery makes a move:






Pushing to the Finish:





Saturday afternoon I managed to sneak in another long run. According to my foot-pod thingie, I ran 29.5 miles. That plus the 1k (I ran with Avery) brought me to just over 30 miles for the day, on top of the 20 miles I did on Saturday, and a weekly total of 88 miles! Sunday was pretty warm, which was good as it’s likely to be warm during the day at Javelina. My IT Band hasn’t bothered me at all, which is really encouraging. I’ve been compulsive about doing all the therapy – the stretching, the icing, the massage with the foam roller. And of course ice baths after the long runs. Sunday’s was a “three-bagger”.


So the Javelina Jundred looks like a go! I don’t plan on any weeks with more running than this week between now and the race, so I figure if I can handle this amount of running, I’m home free. I’ll probably do one or two runs longer than 30 miles in 2-3 weeks, but I won’t to back-to-back long runs those weekends, and I won’t do more than 88 miles per week. This next week will be a step-back / recovery week, with a lot fewer miles, so any residual tendinitis, if any, and any other aches and pains, will have some good recovery time. We’re spending this coming weekend on the coast. In lieu of an ice bath, I guess I can just wander into the icy Pacific waters.


Oh yeah, one more thing: OSU 27, USC 21. 'nuff said!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Doctor's Orders?

I’m officially “back” as far as running goes, feeling pretty much recovered from my IT Band tendinitis that showed up at Tahoe. It was interesting reading about the common causes of IT Band problems: excessive running (check); too many hills (check); uneven surfaces (check); running while overly tired (check); trying to run through the pain (check). Yep, I covered all of those at Tahoe.

I couldn’t run at all for weeks after the race – within a fraction of a mile, horrible pain shot through my knee and reduced me to a pathetic hobble. Finally I went to the doctor, who confirmed tendinitis, and told me to stop running altogether for a couple weeks. So that’s what I did. He told me, when I started again, to run no more than 10 minutes per day, every other day, for the first week. So that’s what I did. Then he said to add ~5 minutes per run each week, running every other day, until I slowly built up the mileage. So I did that for one day. Then I said to myself “F-That!” and added about 10 minutes to each run. Nothing hurt (actually a lot of stuff hurt, but my knee/IT Band felt OK), so two weeks after starting again I decided to push it to about 80 minutes on Saturday and 2 ½ hours on Sunday, on hilly roads and trails (hills were also on the Doc’s forbidden list) on Sunday. I think by my Dr’s plan I was supposed to be running about 25 flat minutes by this time, but I felt OK. The next weekend I ran ~27 miles on Saturday and another 13 on Sunday, and finished the week with about 70 miles. By my Dr’s instructions, I should be doing more like 6 miles per week.

My leg hasn’t fallen off. Also, the Ducks lost on Saturday. Clearly, all is right with the world. (Except for, you know, the global financial meltdown leaving us on the brink of the 2nd Great Depression. But hey, my knee feels good). Don’t tell my doctor.

Also, last night I had my first good running fall in quite a while. Bloody knee, bloody shoulder. I avoided rolling, choosing instead to focus the impact on small, rigid body parts, so as to cause maximum damage. It’s good to be back.

Which brings me to my next goal – running the Javelina Jundred on mid-November. I’ve been eyeing this for a while now, as it’s near my folks house in Az. Whenever we visit, I can’t get enough of the wide open desert running. I expect I’ll have enough after this though. I signed up after Tahoe, even though I couldn’t run at the time. If my IT Band continues to hold up through the next few weeks of hard training, I should be in good shape for the race. If not, I’ll shut it down for a while and take it easy until next year, but right now things are looking good. And I think the downtime after Tahoe may have done me some good, anyhow.

It looks like a quite an Oregon contingent will be at Javelina, headlined by Craig Thornley, Jeff Riley, Neil Olsen, and Todd Ragsdale.




Don't you hate it when you get a rock in your shoe?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Kindgergarten, End of the Road, and Running Again!

Lots going on lately...

Avery started kindergarten last week. So far, so good. Her favorite parts are riding the bus to school, and recess. She's making lots of new friends, and learning all about the letter "A". So that's good. Of course, Mom made sure she was decked out in a brand new outfit for her first day. I think all the girls were dressed up for their first day. The boys mostly wore ratty t-shirts.

My little red Isuzu truck finally drove off to tha road in the sky this month. I'd had it since 1994, and it was my first car. It leaked oil pretty badly, and the last few times it started, thick white smoke poured out of the tailpipe, smelling of anti-freeze. I'm pretty sure the head gasket finally gave out. Given the cost of repairing it, and the blue-book value of it, we decided it was best to let her go, rather than fix it. It was a good car though. It'll be missed.

On the running front, I'm finally running again! For six weeks after my Tahoe run, my IT Band was giving me fits, and I couldn't run even a mile without some pretty sharp knee pain flaring up. I tried a few times, but after a month, I finally gave it two weeks of zero running. Finally by about the seventh week I could run a mile -about 10 minutes, very slowly, every other day, without pain. The next week I extended this to 20 minutes, 25 minutes, and 30 minutes for three runs, all pain free. Finally this week I decided to see what happened when I pushed it a bit. I ran 40 minutes on Tuesday, an hour on Wednesday, and 50 minutes on actual trails on Thursday. After taking it easy Friday, I ran 9 flat miles on Saturday, and 13 miles on trails today. The knee / IT Band felt great! Everything else sort've feels terrible though - I shouldn't be this sore after 13 miles! But I'm pretty happy to be doing some "real" running again, finally.

During the down-time from running, I did manage to do lots of mountain biking, which I used to do a lot of, but hadn't much this year with all the running. It's been fun, and we always seem to have a blast on our rides, despite the increase in bruises and scrapes that seem to appear after these rides. And of course, the big creepy eye...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Swimmer Extraordinaire

Congrats to Avery, for graduating from swimming lessons by passing levels 1-10 in the SwimAmerica program. Her Mommy and Daddy are very proud.

Here's some vids of my kid in action:

The Crawl!


The Breaststroke!


The Butterfly!



Backstroke!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Tahoe Rim Trail 100

Well, I made it. I finished my first 100 mile race: the Tahoe Rim 100. It was, you know, pretty hard. But I kind of doable too, even for regular guy like me.

Before I forget I should offer a few thanks: to Jasmine and Avery for making the trip and watching yet another race, and putting up with the long hours spent training. And to Dave Bateham for the awesome crewing and for pacing (or rather “Safety Running”) me the last 25 miles, to David Cotter and countless volunteers for putting this thing on.

The Summary in Numbers:

100 miles
24:51:10
10th place
1 Faint
2 liters IV solution at Carson City E.R.


The Long Story

I think I managed about 3 or 4 hours of decent sleep Friday night before the race. At 3:30 AM, we (Jasmine, Avery and I) left the hotel and headed up to Spooner Lake state park for the start. I was one of the earlier arrivals, but within 15 minutes or so it seemed like most everyone had arrived.

The Corvallis group of Sander, Todd, Scott, Dave and I, hooked up at the start. Dave would be crewing for us, and pacing me for the last 25 miles if all went well. Sander was the experienced 100 miler in the group; while Scott, Todd, and I were all attempting our first 100.

We were off at 5:00 AM. For the first six miles I hung with Scott and Todd, and we took it nice and easy, making crude jokes and laughing about being “100 milers” now. Sander was up ahead a bit, and slowly pulled away as daylight broke. I ran with just my two hand-held bottles and a few gel packets in my pockets.

At the first aid station, Scott and Todd stopped a bit, while I carried on. Soon after leaving the aid station, the trail climbed into the first of many high open meadows, crested a ridge, and offered a great view of Tahoe and Martlett lake. I felt really great at this point. The altitude wasn’t bothering me, it was early and cool, and I was having a blast.

I felt good dropping into the Tunnel creek aid station, but needed to hit the porta-potty. After some limited success there, I headed down the steep trail for the “infamous” Red House loop, which featured the steepest descent and then the steepest ascent of the course. I tried to keep it slow on the descent, so as to not ravage my knees and quads too early. It felt a bit awkward, but OK. At the bottom it flattened out for a while, and then climbed a bit up to the actual red house. I caught up with Sander at this point. He had been having some trouble finding a good groove, but seemed to be doing well now. We stayed together as the trail climbed up to the steep section near the top of the loop, where he pulled away again, just prior to the 2nd Tunnel creek visit at mile 16 or so.

I felt good leaving Tunnel Creek, heading to Diamond Peak then Mt Rose, but it was definitely starting to get warm (I later checked the weather almanac, and by the warmest part of the day it was 89 degrees at the 7000 foot level). A few miles out from Tunnel Creek, I poured most of my water over my head, thinking there was a water-only aid station within a mile or so, at Diamond Peak. I saw the ski lift at Diamond peak, and figured I must be close, but… no water. As the miles went on with no water, I was pretty concerned that I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere. It was only after some of the leaders were coming back, after the Mt Rose turn, around that I learned that the water aid station was missing. Well good, I thought, I didn’t miss any turn. But I was feeling pretty dry. I passed a spring, or maybe a small creek, and figured it was worth the risk of Giardia to have a bit of water from it. I guess I’ll know within a couple weeks…

I saw Avery and Jas at Mt Rose (about mile 26), coming in at just over 5 hours. I grabbed an extra water bottle & fanny pack, and kept going. I was a few pounds down in weight, so I drank as much as I could before leaving, and left with three full bottles.

I felt pretty dry, but otherwise OK back to Tunnel Creek (mile 35), and back over to Hobart (mile 40). By tunnel creek my weight was back up a couple pounds, and on the big climb from Hobart up to Snow Valley (mile 43) I felt fantastic. It was fun passing a bunch of the slowest 50km runners during this stretch. The climbs felt great, and the cool breeze was a treat. And the views just didn’t let up.

There’s a long downhill from Snow Valley to the aid station at mile 48.5, and it seemed to stretched on forever, and take a bit out of me. By the bottom I was feeling pretty tired again, and very warm. But all in all, coming into the halfway point at mile 50.2 I felt OK, and had no qualms about heading out for “just one more lap”.

Dave was at the ½ way aid station again, crewing for all of us. He had a frozen popsicle for me (apparently Jas had picked up a bag of them for the Corvallis runners), and did a great job making sure I ate and drank well before heading back out. My weight was down a bit again, but within OK limits. I asked about Sander, and Dave said he’d come through at ~9:30, and had eaten well while there, so that was good to hear.

I left the ½ way aid station at a little over 10 hours. It was definitely hot heading back out, and I was moving really slowly, trying to drink enough and trying to stay cool. I took about 3 hours to run the 10 miles past Hobart back to Tunnel creek (mile 60). I was feeling pretty knackered, and starting to doubt I could do sub 24 hours, but at least I figured it’d cool off soon, and I could ditch the extra water bottle and fanny pack, which had been uncomfortable around my waist for the last 40 miles or so.

I felt good dropping down for the 2nd time into the Red House loop, though my knee was a little stiff and sore, so I kept it slow. I passed the Red House again, and soon after came upon Sander, who was walking terribly slowly. I walked with him a bit, and he explained he couldn’t get in any calories, and was bonked. I was bummed for him, as he’d looked so strong earlier, and I hoped a rest at tunnel creek would bring him around. I pushed on, and felt pretty good hiking up the steep bit back to tunnel creek, and even passed another runner and his pacer.

I tried to eat some solid food leaving tunnel creek (mile 66). I grabbed a headlamp and a handheld flashlight, and a granola bar for the way, and began the long 9 miles to Mt Rose. The first few miles I felt good, gradually ascending, and probably running as often as walking. A few miles in I switched on my headlamp, and kept moving. Sean Meissner and Nikki Kimball passed me heading the other way. Sean looked and sounded great, and I was pretty stoked that he seemed to be having a great day.

At some point along here my stomach took a turn for the worse. I tried a gel, and managed to keep it down, then I tried a tiny bit of granola bar. It all stayed down, but my stomach clearly wanted no more of it. Walking was OK, but every time I tried to run, my stomach felt worse, so I figured I’d walk as fast as I could for most of the last few miles to Mt Rose, jogging only occasionally. A runner and his pacer passed me here. They graciously offered to let me join them, but I let them know I needed to walk for a while.

It actually sprinkled a bit during this stretch, and once a flash of lightning lit up the sky, and the thunder wasn’t too far behind. I actually hoped it would break open and rain for a while, as I was still feeling over-heated, but it didn’t happen.

After a long slog I saw the lights of the Mt Rose aid station (mile 76). It was still a good walk up across the meadow, but I was excited to get there and see Jas and Avery, and pick up Dave, who’d be pacing me back to the finish line.

I took a long time (maybe 25 minutes) at this aid station, slowly forcing some food and liquids down. I managed some fruit, and they convinced me to gag down a plate of noodles. I made a rest-room stop, hoping that would encourage my stomach to move things in the preferred direction. I was nice to hang out with Jasmine and Avery for a while too. Jasmine told me I was looking and sounding great, and Avery seemed to be excited, and she let me know I was “almost done”.

I left the aid station at around 10:45 pm, I think (almost 18 hours into the race). Sub-24 hours was still a possibility, but I tried not to think about that, as I was concerned about staying in control so my stomach issues didn’t take a turn for the worse. Also, as I got up to leave the aid station, my left knee was really stiff and sore, and it took a bit of walking and stretching before it felt right to walk on it.

For the next few miles I did my best to power-walk at good pace. My energy felt OK, but every time I tried to run, my stomach went South. I wasn’t sure if I should just try to puke, or keep going easy and try to nurse it back. Dave and I talked this over a bit, and I opted for the latter. Before too long we ran into Scott and Todd heading toward Mt Rose. They looked to be doing great, and were determined to keep moving through the night, and run it in from the Snow Valley aid station later that morning. On the downside, they told us that Sean Meissner had run into Stomach issues and was now part of the DNF carnage at Tunnel Creek. Major bummer, but it served as a warning to keep it in first gear while I worked through my own borderline stomach.

At Tunnel Creek (mile 85), Dave had me take a few salt tablets, which seemed to help at least keep my stomach issues from getting any worse. I also managed to get down a few shot blocks, and a bit of Sprite. For the remainder of the run, pretty much all I managed to get down were occasional sips of Sprite, a bit of fruit, and a few shot blocks. But while things weren’t getting any better Stomach-wise, they weren’t getting any worse either, and I was pretty confident that I could just keep doing what I was doing, and get to the finish line, eventually. I left Tunnel Creek at about 1:20 AM (20 hours, 20 minutes into the race).

At Hobart (mile 90) they told me I was in 9th place, which really surprised me. Apparently there’d been lots of drops. (In hindsight, I think I was actually in 10th place at the time). Another runner had just gotten into Hobart, so Dave and I kept it quick and got moving, after downing some more salt tabs and Sprite. I wasn’t getting any faster, but I was still moving. I power hiked the ups as hard as I could, and managed to pull away from the lights of the runner and her pacer behind us. On the downs I was pretty slow though, as my stomach kept doing loops. So, in general, I think I lost time on the downs more than the ups, relative to the next runner back.

We kept it really quick at the Mt Snow aid station (mile 93), where I just grabbed a tiny bit of fruit and filled a bottle with Sprite and ice. Not long after leaving the tent, we saw the lights of the next runner and her pacer going into the aid station. I knew I’d been slower than her on the downs, and it was almost all downhill from here, so I did my best to pick it up a notch, despite my stomach and, by this time, my very sore and stiff left knee. I found that with a short, choppy stride it didn’t hurt much to run and my stomach seemed to put up with it. The trail was actually pretty technical in spots, with some nasty rocks to step around or down, which was tricky enough during the day, but extra tough in the dark.

For several miles, I mixed this choppy running with power hiking, until I petered out a bit and was mostly hiking. The downhill went on forever. 24 hours went by before we got to the bottom. I knew once we hit the bottom, there was one last aid station, followed by an easy 1.7 miles to the finish. But before the aid station, we again got a glimpse of a headlamp behind us. Again I tried to kick it up a gear. We got to the aid station, I took a few more sips of Sprite, and Dave urged me to push as much as I could, which I did. We were determined not to get passed this close to the finish. I think I kept up a good pace for a mile or so, before having again to start switching between running and walking. At least by this point, we could see a couple hundred yards back, and knew that nobody was about to pass, and that I was sure to come in under 25 hours and hold my place. I eased up a bit until I saw the finish, so that I could run through. I let out a yell, and finished in 24:51:10, in what I’d later find out was 10th place.

As luck would have it, Jas and Avery had just woken up (they’d slept in the car) and walked down from the parking lot to the finish area, and were there to see me finish and give out hugs. It was wonderful.

I sat down in a chair under the finish tent, and got handed a finisher’s glass and a can of beer. About 2 minutes later the next runner (Jenny Capel) came in, making me glad Dave had encouraged me to keep pushing for so long. After a couple minutes I got up and walked over to the finish line aid station tent, sat down by the heater, chatted with some other runners and crew, and sipped on some apple juice. Unlike shorter races I’ve been in, where the finish line is a big party, this was really quiet and mellow – a few sleepy people and a few tired runners, and lots of quiet.

Jasmine, Avery, and Dave tried to feed me, but I wasn’t really ready to try to keep anything down. Dave went off to try to find Sander, and Jasmine and I decided we’d head back to town, get cleaned up, and try to make it back to see Todd and Scott finish.

So I walked out of tent and started up a little hill toward the car, when I suddenly got quite dizzy. So I sat down, and just stayed there for a few minutes. After a while a couple guys offered to helped me up, and each held an arm as I tried again to walk to the car. But after a few steps, I got really dizzy again and then…. I opened my eyes, finding I was on my back, with quite a few people looking down at me. I had fainted. Dave and Sander were there, as were Jenny Capel and her crew, and of course Jasmine and Avery. They took great care of me – they propped up my feet, threw a blanket thrown over me, and starting forcing down Salt tablets and liquids. Someone found a doctor from someone’s crew, and she checked me out and took good care of me too. I felt a bit silly just lying there on the trail. I actually felt pretty good – I just couldn’t get up or walk on my own. But it was nice just lying there, nice and still.

About this time my mom called Jasmine to see how I’d done. She relayed the message that I’d finished, and had just passed out near the finish line. Sorry about that, Mom!

I had a nice little rest, right there on the trail, while people fussed over me. I got a few annoyed looks and comments as people tried to make there way past, not realizing what had happened. Sander and Jasmine brought orange juice and some hash browns (which Dave garnished with salts from an E-Cap). After a while I was able to sit up and feel OK. With Dave and Sander’s help, I stood up, and again tried to walk toward the car. I got a few yards before getting dizzy again, so they sat me back down, and I rested again. A chair was brought over, and we started a process of walking about 20 or 30 yards at a time, with Dave and Sander’s help, between which I’d sit in a chair for a few minutes. After a rest, I’d walk again while Dave and Sander held on and Avery moved the chair up the trail. We repeated this until I finally made it to the car.

Jasmine then drove me into Carson City, to the ER, where the nicest doctor and nurses you’ll ever meet took great care of me. They gave me two liters of I.V. solution, with anti-nausea medicine, ICE for my knees, and a blanket. They did a bunch of tests (EKG, blood tests, and urine tests) which involved shaving sections of my chest and poking me a few times. I think I fell asleep on the table a couple times too. And they spoiled Avery with juice, popsicles, and stickers. Eventually they had me stand up again, and check my blood pressure again, before sending me on my way, with a clear head and a huge appetite (it was almost noon by this time).

Special thanks to Dave, Sander, Jenny Capel and her crew, the doctor whose name I can’t remember, and the cool folks at the Carson City E.R. for all the help.


I’ve felt pretty good since the race, energy wise. My left knee is still really sore though. I’ve been icing it pretty regularly, and it feels good after a couple Advil. But I going to hold off running for a while and let it heal up well. I’m signed up for the McKenzie River 50k in 7 weeks, so I’m hoping to heal up in time for some good speed training in advance of that. But if I have to skip it, or skip training and run it nice and slowly, so be it. I’m willing to call the year a success at this point, but not willing to exacerbate and injury at this point.

I’m already thinking about what 100 miler to do next. :-)

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Training, Climbing, Hiking

Lots going on since the last blog, but no time to write much. So here goes…

The Tahoe Rim 100 is in just 10 days. Yikes! I’m feeling well trained, but not well rested. Hopefully I can rest up well in a hurry! I think I’ve done all I can training wise, between the Mac Forest 50k in May and today: I’ve gotten in long runs of 45, 35, 54, and 42 miles, I’ve been up Mt Hood and Mt Baker for some good, high altitude, long night/day cross training, I’ve squeezed in some speed work during the week, I’ve had some big (for me) weekly mile totals, and lately even some good heat training. And I managed to not hurt myself in the process, too. So I feel like I did what I could… not we’ll see what happens.

I climbed Mt Baker last Sunday/Monday (June 29-30) with Vic (http://vchav.blogspot.com/). We had hoped to try the North Ridge, which looks like a seriously “fun” climb with a long approach, lots of “fresh air”, and some steep ice. But the weather was seriously warm – nothing froze while we were there, and a steep snow/ice route pretty much warrants a good hard freeze for safe climbing. Also, the forecast called for a chance of thunderstorms. So we instead opted for the popular Coleman/Deming glacier route, which made for a fine climb in its own right, without the excitement level offered by a more technical route.

We hiked in Sunday afternoon, skipping the lower camp, and instead camping along Heliotrope ridge. There were lots of campsites at the base of the ridge, sheltered by the crumbly basalt cliffs. We opted instead to climb up 150 feet or so to the ridge crest, since the weather was warm and calm, and the views from the ridge crest were spectacular. We had views stretching from Vancouver, BC, to the San Juan Islands, to the city lights of Bellingham, and the Cascades to the South.

We also had zillions of glacier worms in and on the ice surrounding our rocky little campsite. They made for some extra work, trying to obtain “worm free” snow to melt for drinking and cooking. I’m not sure how many worms we ended up ingesting, but I’m happy to report no ill effects.

After a poor night’s sleep, we were up at 1:30, and on our way by about 2:30. We dropped back down off the ridge, then re-gained the boot path that led the way up the glacier, through occasional crevasses. It was still quite warm – I climbed in just a short sleeve shirt, shorts, and wind pants. For the most part the glacier was still well buried by this years snow, and not many crevasse detours were required. We quickly moved ahead of the one party near us, and had the mountain to ourselves. The snow was quite soft, and even with the previous days boot tracks to follow, we post-holed quite a bit. Early on I saw a couple flashes of lightning off to the east, which was unnerving. As the sky slowly lit up, we could see some spooky clouds over the mountain. At one point it even sprinkled on us, just a bit. But the summit stayed clear, and any real weather troubles held off.

By 6:30 or so we reached the summit crater. A wide, flat snowy sheet, with the true summit being nothing more than a 30 foot bump on its far end. It took 10 minutes or so to walk over and up. At the top was the only time we got cold, as the wind was blowing from the North and it was quite exposed. We bundled up, had a good rest and some food, and waited until the sun finally came out from behind the clouds. After that it cleared up nicely, and the weather stayed warm and pleasant.

The descent was easy, plunge stepping, practically running, down the warm soft snow on the "Roman Wall". We passed several groups coming up as we were heading down. It was sort of comical at one point, as a rope team of 4 or 5 was hammering pickets into the snow for protection, clinging to the slope, as Vic and I came literally running downhill, heading down the 30 degree slope in giant, soft, plunge steps.

We got back to our ridgeline campsite by 8:30 am or so, and had a good lunch. Or breakfast maybe. We had planned to spend another night out, maybe do some ice climbing. But it was so early, and the warm conditions were ill suited for ice climbing, so we decided to head home. By 1:30 or so we were back at the car, and by 9:00 pm I was back at home.
My pictures Here:http://picasaweb.google.com/mtnahorniak/MtBaker

Avery and I climbed a mountain as well this past weekend. We hiked up Mt June, located about 45 minutes east of Eugene. The trail climbs about 900 feet in ~1.4 miles, and has a beautiful view from it’s rocky summit.


On the drive up, maybe ½ mile from the trailhead, we saw two bears (or maybe the same bear twice) cross the road in front of us. That was pretty cool – I’d never seen a bear in Oregon before. The first bear only offered us a quick glance, but the 2nd bear hopped onto the road, and ran casually up the road ahead of us for maybe 100 feet while we stopped and watched it.
I also saw 4 slugs along the trail. Avery saw five. It was very important to her to mention this.

The hike to the summit was tough, but Avery was willing to let me take a few breaks along the way. It took us about 70 minutes from car to summit, then, after a nice long lunch beak, about 30 minutes to get back down. Avery demonstrated her speed hiking skills on the way back down. She's super quick. She's been giving me power-hiking lessons to get me ready for Tahoe. :-)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Fearsome Creatures

Jasmine is always signing up for some class or another. Her latest is boxing. Don't mess with Jasmine, folks. She knows what she's doing, and, though I have yet to find out for sure, I suspect if she had to, she'd fight dirty.

I'm going to make sure our chocolate supply never gets too low. One can't be too careful.
Avery sure likes to play with the gloves too. She goes from "sweet little princess" to "little ball of rage" in 6 seconds. Daddy's so proud. :-)
Oh, and when Avery's got the gloves on....beware of the low-blow.

In other news... I saw a cougar today! I've lived here almost 14 years, I've been up in the forest zillions of times, and today was the first time I've seen a cougar. I was out on a short run over lunch, and there it was, right on the gravel road between Dimple Hill and Lewisberg Saddle. At first I didn't see it well, as it was around a bend in the road, partially obscured by trees. I thought it was someone's dog - maybe a golden lab or something. Then I figured it was a coyote. I came around the corner and it was maybe 100 feet away from me, casually running away from me. I realized it clearly didn't run like a coyote, and it was far too big to be a bobcat. Then it turned sideways and I got a good look at it. I could see every muscle in it's leg! Yikes. Just like the cougar at the zoo, except without double layered fence. Luckily it didn't take any interest in me, and didn't seem the least bit aggressive or threatening. Except for, you know, the frayed and bloody shoelace dangling from it's fangs.


About this time I asked myself why I was still jogging. I stopped, picked up some rocks, and waved my arms like a moron. I heard you're supposed to wave your arms to make yourself look big or something. By this time the cougar was long gone, of course, but I figured it couldn't hurt. I am sort've glad nobody saw me though.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Daisy Dash and Mt Hood Climb


Saturday Avery raced the Daisy Dash 1km. A few weeks ago she noticed a poster in a window advertising the run. “Daisy Dash” and “Kids Run” jumped out, and she immediately asked if she could do it. It turned out to be a really cool event. Proceeds go to Girls on the Run of Willamette Valley, and it’s held in Willamette Park, along the river in South Corvallis. There’s a 5k run and a 1k run.

At breakfast she asked what the “healthiest” breakfast was. She wanted to know what I ate before a race. So together we had oatmeal, shared an English muffin, and some fruit. Last night at dinner she ordered mac-n-cheese, because she wanted to “Carbo-load”. She probably would’ve ordered that anyway, or course, but last night she had extra reasons.

We pinned on Avery's number (179) and she lined up at 9:00 AM, with about 9 other kids, for the 1 km run. I think she was the smallest kid there, but it didn’t seem to bother her. Benny the Beaver held up the starting horn, and before I knew it they were off. The kids all started at a full sprint, with Avery holding on at the back of the pack. I watched the pack of kids blaze by, as Avery found her pace and settled in. She passed another girl as she disappeared down the path toward the turnaround point.

It was kind of strange waiting for Avery and the other kids to hit the turnaround and come back up the path. This was Avery’s first run without me tagging along. It was weird knowing she up off “by herself” a half kilometer away. But soon enough, the kids started showing up on the return trip, and before long Avery was speeding my back toward me. She was still running, and had passed a few more kids. When she saw me, she knew she was close to the finish, and she kicked into a faster gear, pushing herself full speed the last hundred yards or so to the finish. She ended in 6th place, and was pretty thrilled. She had a huge smile at the finish line, and happily boasted about running the entire-way non-stop, and about the "tons" of people she passed along the way. After catching her breath, she said she wished it’d been a 2 km run, instead of "just one".

For the record, I’m pretty careful not to push Avery to run or race. I’d never “train” her or anything like that. But it’s pretty cool to see how she just loves to run – around the backyard, up and down the trails when we’re on a hike, “racing” the dog while he’s chasing the Frisbee - and how she wants to run races just like her daddy does. She’s certainly got a competitive streak in her as well. Whether it’s racing, playing Chutes and Ladders, or anything else, losing it’s something that she likes to do.


Sunday was Fathers’ day. I started the day with an 11 mile run in Dunn Forest. Afterwards, Jas and Avery joined me on a great little hike at Fitton Green, a great little area of Oak Savannah, with fantastic views of Mary’s peak and the Willamette valley, just west of Corvallis. Jasmine made a great picnic lunch for us, and the sun came out and made for a warm, sunny hike. The rest of the day was spent at home, doing some gardening, and packing for a climb up Mt Hood.

At 9:30 pm, my friend Todd, his brother-in-law Raymond, and friend Warren, picked me up, and we drove up to Timberline Lodge on Mt Hood. At about 12:30 AM, we started climbing, leaving the from the lodge at 6000 ft, aiming for the 11,200 foot summit, slogging up the snowfields on the edge of the ski area. It’s a long, dull slog for the first few hours, until reaching the top of the ski area, and leaving the busy snow-cats behind. From the top of the lifts at about 8600 feet, we angled left, leaving the busy Southside route, instead aiming for West Crater Rim - a much more interesting, less crowded, and fun route to the summit. As an added bonus, there's a few hundred feet of wonderfully steep climbing from the crater floor to the crater rim.
As we angled up and left, we watched the moon set, turning from white to orange to crimson, its shape distorting into bizarre configurations, until it dropped into the hazy horizon. Not long after the sun set, a glow appeared to the East, behind the mountain, as morning drew near.

Around 4:30 AM, we stopped, not far from the base of the crater wall, to re-fuel, put on crampons, and rope up. We kicked some platforms out of the snow to sit down on. The snow conditions were pretty interesting – about 3-4” of rock solid, well frozen crust covered a deep layer of unconsolidated sugary snow. As long as conditions stayed cold and the crust held firm, we were in good shape, but I certainly didn’t want to be out there if things warmed up and melted the crust, as that would create perfect avalanche conditions. This kept me nervous enough that I didn’t let us spend too much time taking any breaks. We climbed past frozen remnants of recent avalanches, that reminded me to keep moving.

As we started again, roped together now, I led us up the wall of the crater, followed by Raymond, Todd, and Warren. I picked the most fun (i.e. steepest) line I could, reaching the crater rim as directly as possible via snow and ice. It was actually quite a bit steep than I remember from years ago, and the climbing was quite fun. Before long, though, I got a bit nervous about taking novice climbers up such a steep section, so I worked really hard kicking steps – breaking through the hard crust – making a staircase up the slope. Near the top, I came across a solid patch into which I couldn’t kick steps. It was a blast front pointing up this, but I as I topped out on the ridge, I was sure to set up a bomb-proof anchor so Raymond and the other guys would be well protected across the ice section.

The guys definitely picked up quickly on proper use of crampons and ice axes, and after some practicing below, looked pretty comfortable, and perhaps even competent, up the slope.
Once on the crater rim, the slope eased off a lot, and we slowly traversed below and to the right of the cliffs forming the crater rim. Raymond was a wee bit tired by this point, but he impressively kept at it, often taking several steps at a time between periods collapsed in a heap over his axe. But a combination of supportive encouragement from above, and manhood challenging name-calling from below, kept him properly motivated to push on.
I really enjoyed this easy, but beautiful section of the climb, as we paralleled the rime ice covered cliffs, all the way to the summit ridge. I chose to stay along the crater rim all the way, rather than veering right to merge with the standard South Side route. It not only kept us out of the way of the crowds, but added a cool traverse along the summit ridge before reaching the true summit.

The weather stayed cool, and we were finished the climb to the summit ridge while it was still in the shade, and conditions stayed wonderfully firm. As we topped out on the summit ridge, we were greeted to full sun. The traverse along the ridge to the true summit was pretty cool, and at around 8:30 am we reached the summit itself. We had a nice break, scarfed down some food, and took a few pictures, until the cold and wind finally drove us from the top. I was glad that it had stayed cold, which gave us plenty of time still to safely descend. We headed down the normal South side route for the descent. It’s interesting to see how things have changed over the last few years, as what used to be the easiest, most direct chute to ascend/descend has gotten much steeper, and the normal route now follows the a different gully through rime covered upper rocks. We descended in the opposite order – Warren leading the way, and me bringing up the rear. The snow was solid, and we had an easy descent down to the Hogsback, where we unroped and removed crampons, helmets, and harnesses. I was happy to be back down before the heat of the day.

From here it was a LONG slog back to Timberline, as always. By 11:00, we were back at the car, and by 11:45 we pulled into the Ice Axe Grill in Government camp. We were briefly horrified at the CLOSED sign, but just as we about to pull away, a waiter flipped the sign over and waved us in. Now THAT was a close call.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, I was up for about 35 straight hours from Sunday morning until Monday afternoon. Huh.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

TMI 50 Miler

It's less than 6 weeks now until Tahoe. I'm almost, sortve, kind've starting to feel something resembling confidence. Probably it's due to equal parts part solid training, ignorance, and self delusion.
Yesterday I went out with a group of locals for a 50+ mile training run, featuring a great route laid out by the Trail Meister. We started early (5:30 am) with Sander, Todd, Scott, Dave and I ("Team Tahoe") accompanied by Dennis and William (who got up super early to drive over from Aumsville). After ~28 miles we exchanged Dennis and Dave for John and Ken, who's fresh legs led to a faster pace, and made me want to trade them back in for Dave and Dennis.

The first 28 mile section had a whole lot of everything -sunshine, drizzle, wet feet, long climbs, steep descents, slogging through freshly logged timber, miles of singletrack, a bit of bushwacking. Which was nice, but I'm afraid the only lasting memory I'll have is of the Poison Oak. I've never seen, sidestepped, jumped over, ducked under, and pushed through so much of the evil weed in my life. After a while I nearly gave up trying to avoid contact all together, but instead tried to focus on at least saving my favorite and most useful body parts from the dreaded plants' oils. Despite a triple Tec-nu scrub down after the run, I suspect I'll be cursing the damn plant for the next couple weeks.

On the bright side, the Wasabi peas made for a nice snack. Todd, especially, seemed to enjoy them.

In between dodging Poison Oak, we worked on our racing skills; specifically, I think we've mastered the NASCAR inspired drafting - sling shot technique ("Shake & Bake!").

Other than the fact the I could've used a few gas-x pills at around mile 40, I felt pretty good (meaning no specific pain stood out from the others). By mile 50, the internal bubbles had passed, the ibuprofen had kicked in, and I managed to push it pretty hard downhill for four miles to the car. I figure if I feel like that at mile 54 at Tahoe, I'll at least be able to get to mile 55, and work something out from there.

In total, The run ended up being about 54 miles, with 10,500 feet of gain and descent. Unless you're Sander, for whom 54 miles wasn't nearly enough, and you chose to take a long way back to the car. For all I know he's still out there running today. He looked as fresh at mile 50 as at mile 5.

After the run I had a "2-bagger" ICE bath, and a double decker Salmon burger with a big salad topped with a can of black beans. Life is good.

This week I'm planning to have a step back week for recovery, followed by another two weeks of high mileage and some speed work, before tapering down before Tahoe.




Saturday, May 24, 2008

Graduation, and another Bird Attack

Avery "graduated" from pre-school yesterday. They had a nice little ceremony, and it was pretty darn cute. I was a little disappointed that they didn't throw their caps into the air, but the teachers probably knew that'd be trouble with a room full of 5 year olds.


I seem to remember dropping out of pre-school at some point. I guess Avery the first in the family to graduate pre-school, so naturally, we're quite proud. I'm not sure what the requirements were though, as far as credit hours and GPA and whatnot. If any of the children failed to graduate, it was kept pretty hush-hush.


In other news... I was attacked by another bird on my run today. That makes twice in the last four weeks. I've lived here and run or rode in the forest for more than ten years a,nd have never been attacked by a bird (or any other creature), until the last four weeks, when it's happened twice. It must be some kind of omen.

This time, I was running along, and I noticed three very cute little chicks near the edge of the logging rode. They scampered off clumsily as I jogged past. I couldn't help but slow down and smile, as it was sickeningly cute. I watched for a few moments, then looked up to find myself under attack by a large and PISSED OFF wild Turkey Mother bird.

Holy crap was it pissed! And big. And U-G-L-Y. It's hard to believe those cute little chicks would grow up into a beast like this. It lunged at me several times, but I managed to dodge it, and eventually grab a big stick with which to keep out of striking distance, while I carefully and quickly worked my way around it.

Later on at home I was mowing the lawn, and noticed the chairs near the bird feeder are *covered* in bird crap. Freakin' birds!

I made eggs for dinner. I felt better after that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mac Forest 50k

First off, I should apologize to everybody who had to listen to me whine yesterday. I set a PR for whining, for sure. Considering I finished under my target time, all that whining probably wasn't called for. But man, it was a struggle!

I was pretty concerned going into the race, as my resting heart rate was about 10 BPM higher than normal, perhaps because I was still recovering from the flu, and/or hadn't fully recovered from the race four weeks ago, and some hard training a couple weeks ago. Resting heart rate is usually a pretty good indicator of how recovered you are - mine was telling me to rest.

The race started at 8:00. I felt pretty good for the first couple, mostly flat miles. There was a super speedy group that blew off the front right away. I had no intention of trying to chase those guys, but I was probably in the top 10 to start off.

After a couple miles, the course heads up the first real climb - about 600 feet up, in a mile or so. Near the top of this I was already starting to struggle. I didn't feel like I was pushing the pace - and in fact I was getting passed quite a bit - but my heart rate was in the upper 170's, hitting 178 BPM at one point. Whoa. My heart rate NEVER gets this high - not even during hard training intervals. I think my absolute max heartrate is around 182 or so. So hitting 178 early in a race was just crazy. And frustrating, as I certainly wasn't blasting up the hill. Near the top I was reduced to a power hike, trying to get my HR back down. I was already starting to reconsider my goals for the race, wondering if I just didn't have it today, and whining a lot. :-)

Thankfully, after the hill crests, there's a long, gentle downhill, then a few miles of relatively easy rolling terrain, all the way to the first aid station. My legs felt great in this section, my heart rate came back under control, and I came back to life. I made it out of the aid station 57 minutes. Right on my target pace.

Out of the aid station, there's a modest up-hill for about 3/4 mile, then a steep, brutal downhill on a gravel road. This downhill is a leg killer! But again, I felt pretty strong going down, with fresh legs and good turnover. I was able to catch quite a few people who'd caught me on the climb. I realized already that climbing would be a struggle, and I'd have to try to make up time on the downhills.

The road bottomed out near Sulpher Springs, and began a tough climb up the road and into the "maze" section of trails. Once again, I struggled badly going up, and got passed a lot. I made a point of walking every time my heart rate hit 170, which was often. Even walking, it stayed high, and I was suffering. And whining. I was seriously doubting I had any chance at sub 5 hours, and in fact was just trying to avoid thinking of quitting outright. I kept going by telling myself I'd have to back off - make it just a training run, relax, and try to enjoy it. So I slogged up to the top of the climb, and tried to relax for the drop down Extendo trail to the 2nd aid station. Even going down at this point was tough, as I was pretty drained. At the bottom were Avery and Jasmine. I was going to explain the I might be pretty late getting the Chip Ross (where they planned to meet me next), but my entire explanation came out as: "I'm feeling Sh#tty!". (Avery later asked Jasmine: "Mommy, _how_ is Daddy feeling?")

I took a fair amount of time at the aid station. I was surprised that I was a couple minutes ahead of my target splits for a 5 hour finish. But I was writing off 5 hours anyway at this point. I headed out, slowly, from the aid station for the next climb. A bunch of people passed me here, including William, Penny, Mike Burke, and others. My only consolation was that I was still passing early starters. I ran slowly, and even occasionally walked, up the road and Up-route trail. I started to feel a bit better, resigned to take it easy for a while, not worrying, for the moment, about my finish time. Dropping back down into the maze, I tried to relax and not over-do the tricky downhill. Most of the up-hills in this part of the maze I'd be walking regardless, which was probably good at this point, as it wasn't quite so demoralizing. Though I continued to whine to anybody who would listen.

I came out of the maze and saw Scott Leonard (co race director), and whined a bit more to him. From here it was about 1.5 miles, up a moderate slope, to the aid station atop Dimple Hill. I'd been dreading this climb, given how I'd been feeling. Jeff Phillips, from Seattle, passed me at the bottom, and I decided to at least break into a run again, and see what happened. This was definitely a turning point for me, as I was rather shocked to realize I could run, and keep a fair pace, up this hill. My heart rate settle in at about 167 BPM for this climb, and I felt comfortable. I managed to stay close to Jeff all the way to Dimple. I got into the aid station at 2:57 - still two minutes ahead of my target split, and amazingly feeling better. I'd made up some time on the last climb, and now I had a long downhill. Last year I think I hit this aid station at 2:55, on the way to a 5:03 finish. But I'd really fallen apart after Dimple hill last year, so I knew if I held it together and continued to feel better, I still had a shot at 5:00. Game on!

My friend Chris and a slew of other Corvallis Mountain rescue folks were working the Dimple aid station. They were in "Braveheart" them - face paint, kilts, etc. I didn't actually notice the kilts at the time - I must've been pretty out-of-it. They offered my Haggis and Scotch. I declined both, though the Scotch was pretty tempting.

Somewhere out of the aid station, Jeff mentioned 5 hours as well. For the rest of the race we traded spots, and encouraged and pushed each other, both pushing for a sub 5 hour finish. I pushed as hard as I could down Dan's trail, and up and over Chip Ross. I felt OK, though not great, going back up. It was good to see Jasmine and Avery again atop the hill at Chip Ross. It's a beatiful spot, and close enough to the finish (9 or 10 miles) to start thinking ahead.

At the aid station I heard someone say "hey, no falls yet!". Must be Meghan A. Yep. :-)
I kept it brief at the aid station, and hiked up the first steep section out of Chip Ross, and kept it quick, but controlled, down lower Dan's and over to lower Horse Trail. I passed Drew Breynton at this point. I'd seen him take off at breakneck pace early in the race, trying to keep up with the leaders. He was paying the price for that now. I talked to him later, at the finish, and he said he figured he'd give it a try, see what happens. Gotta respect that.

Going up Horse Trail is a tough climb. By this point I was constantly checking my watch, trying to stay on a 5 hour pace. I figured if I could get to Lewisberg Saddle by 4:15, I could make it. 4:20 Would probably be too late. 4:15 probably meant topping out from Horse at 4:05, which is exactly when I made it. (I know these trails way too well, and can figure out sub-splits on the fly in crazy detail). Again I pushed it on the flat and downhill section to Lewisberg. Though by this point, even the downs were tough, and I was starting to cramp up a bit. I moved by Jeff again in this section, and we agreed we were still on pace for sub 5:00.

I kept it brief at the aid station, but was sure to down another gel and 1/2 fill both water bottles. Jeff and I left the aid station right at 4:15, crossed the road and began the 1.5 mile climb to the top of the Nettleton road. I knew this climb was the make-or-break moment for sub-5:00. After the climb, it was almost all a gentle downhill to the finish. If I could keep a good pace on the climb, and get to the turn off to the section 36 trail by4:45 or so (30 minutes for the section), we'd have it in the bag. I run this section a lot in training. It takes about 30 minutes at a modest pace when I'm fresh - about 17 minutes to the top, and 13 across and down to the far end. Going up today was tough, but I was seriously motivated to keep pushing. Jeff and I stayed pretty close at this point - not much talking, lots of suffering. We topped out right at about 17 minutes. Cool. Looking good. The next section is easy - a nice, gentle downhill. I cruised this section pretty well, and got the the Section 36 trail at 4:44. From there it's a short, steep climb, then a steep, winding downhill trail to the finish, with only a couple very short ups. I ran and hiked up, checked my watch, and knew I'd make 5 hours.

The last downhill hurt - my legs were cramping, and were generally thrashed from pushing the downhills all day. I was a bit tentative, as I was worried about falling. I knew I had a minute or two to spare, so I chose caution over speed. Jeff caught and passed me near the end. No worries - I was only thinking 5 hours, not thinking place, at this point. The last few minutes seemed to take forever, but finally I heard the music coming from the finish, and passed someone calling in numbers on a walkie-talkie or something. I came in just under 4:58. Who-hoo!

I found Jeff at the finish line, and we congratulated each other. We'd both been pushing hard for the last two hours, and to make it with barely two minutes to spare felt pretty great.

I came in 20th overall. My best finish at the Mac. It was a struggle for sure - I certainly didn't feel my best, but I'm pretty stoked about making my goal - probably more so for the struggle that it was.

Lots of pictures here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtnahorniak/MacForest50k2008

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Numbers and Words

Just two days until “The Mac” (http://www.mac.oregontrailseries.org/). I just checked the website, and was surprised (and flattered ) at the fact that I’m listed with bib #9. The first 30 bib numbers are assigned based on some in-decipherable code, by the race directors, to people who, I guess, have done well or are expected to do well in the Saturday’s race. #’s 1-20 are for men, #21-30 for women. Last year’s male and female winners are #1 and #21, respectively. Not sure how the other numbers were picked – I sure didn’t finish 9th last year, and people who finished ahead of me last year have lower numbers than I. Oh, the pressure! I’ll do my best to drag my low #, and my inflated ego, up and down the hills on Saturday.

The other good news is that I’m starting to feel almost healthy. I’m mostly over the cold and/or flu from last week. The stuff running from my nose is turning from a sickly yellow color to a lovely clear color. I think that’s a good sign. My resting pulse is still a bit elevated, but it seems to be slowly working its way back to normal. Yes, I keep track of this stuff. Last year my resting heart rate was really high before the Mac, and I did OK. Except for, you know, the pneumonia. So I’m still a bit worried. But since last year’s Mac, I _always_ get worried about pneumonia, or some other ailment, before every race. It’s part of my pre-race ritual. Usually I end up at the doctors insisting they listen to my lungs or take a chest x-ray or something. They must think I’m a wuss. I’m feeling good enough this time though that I’ll skip the Dr. this time.

I’m also obsessing about what pair of shoes to wear. As if my feet won’t be tired, blistered, and bloodied regardless. Should I wear the ones that give me blisters on the toes, or the ones that give me blisters on the balls of my feet?

Yep, should be fun.

In other news: Avery is 5 ½ today. Apparently ½ birthdays are pretty big these days. I told her I couldn’t remember ever turning anything-and-a-half in my whole life. This seemed to surprise her. I think she was kind of hoping for a party or present or something, but she settled for getting to choose what was for dinner instead. Actually, she only got to choose half of what was for dinner.

Incidentally, I turn 36 ½ tomorrow.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Evil Bird, and other Assorted Nonsense

I was lying on the couch flipping through the channels when I came across professional bull riding. Avery took notice, and we watched several bull riders do their thing. Avery has since developed a game where she sits on one of those big exercise balls, bounces up and down, pretending she’s bull riding. She even dons her new pink cowgirl hat. At one point she expanded the sport to include not only make-believe bulls, but also rhinoceroses, dinosaurs, and my personal favorite: sharks-on-wheels. Avery currently holds the world record for riding a great white shark-on-wheels.

This morning, on the drive to pre-school, Avery asked me “Daddy, when you die, can you still think?” I hadn't had my coffee yet. I couldn't think without it. I don't think I can expect much when I'm dead.

Avery's kind of a goodie-goodie when it comes to following rules, etc. That's great, but I kind've want her to develop a bit of a healthy distrust of authority. So I told her I'd give her a dollar if she asked her teacher if everything she's ever been taught is a lie. Jasmine didn't think it was such a great idea, but I think it'd be pretty funny.

Saturday I was out running, and stopped for a quick break at the top of a long hill. I noticed a big bird in a nearby tree. The bird hopped down and casually walked over to me. I think it was a grouse. At first the bird just sort of walked back & forth, chirping or gobbling, or whatever it is these birds do (grousing?). I wasn’t sure what it’s intentions were – casual small talk, territorial defense, or perhaps an amorous advance? After a minute it started getting a bit too aggressive for my liking, so I backed away a bit. I figured it was defending a nest, and I didn’t want to be a bother. But the more I backed away, the more aggressive the bird became. I kicked a bit of gravel toward it (carefully, not wanting to actually hurt the bird) and it only got nastier. I grabbed a branch with fir needles on it, and tried to sweep the bird away. I just cursed at me, and kept coming.
At this point I should point out that the bird’s beak was uncomfortably close to crotch height, causing my internal “fight or flight” instinct to kick in. Now, I’m reasonably sure that if it came down to it, I could win out in a fair fight with a grouse – but because I didn’t want to hurt the bird (or perhaps it was cowardice), I decided against fighting. I ran. The bird chased, on foot. That damn bird chased me a good 50 yards down the road before slowing up. It continued give an evil glare, while I put some more distance between me, the bird, and my dignity.
Postscript: The next day I mentioned the bird attack to my buddy Tim. “Was it right at…” and he goes on to name the exact location. Apparently he’s been assaulted by the very same bird, and is aware of others. So if you’re up in Mac Forest, where the 6021 road tops out on the ridge (just south of the bottom of the South Ridge trail), beware of the evil bird.

This week I've been sick. Monday night I developed a fever, and spend the night and much of Tuesday shivering. Wednesday I felt better and was back at work. Wednesday night it turned into a head cold. I went to work Thursday, but by mid-day it had blossomed into the worst head cold I can remember, and my co-workers insisted I take my germs home. It's Friday evening now, and finally I'm starting to feel better. I havn't run all week - this is probably the longest I've gone without running since nearly a year ago when I had pneumonia. I can't stand it! But hopefully I'll be well rested and well recovered for next Saturdays race (the Mac Forest 50k). The longer I go without running, the more I'm stoked to try to run that one as fast as possible, and break the 5:00 mark. Wish me luck.

Avery had her friend Abbie over this past wednesday. Jasmine keeping an eye on them. After some intense giggling, Jasmine asked what they were up to. "Mom!" Avery said. "We've come up with a really fun game! We're pretending our mommies and daddies are DEAD and we get to stay up AS LATE AS WE WANT!!!". Lovely. :-)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rumble Pics

Jasmine's Rumble Pics: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtnahorniak/PetersonRidgeRumble2008.
If anyone has a favorite (or a few faves) and wants a full sized pic, let me know, and I'll be happy to send it on. :-)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Peterson Ridge Rumble!

On Sunday I ran the Peterson Ridge Rumble 60k in and around Sisters, Oregon. http://www.fleetfeetbend.com/rumble/index.html) It’s hosted by the speeder ultra runner and all around nice guy Sean Meissner (http://sascharuns.blogspot.com/).

Up until the morning of the race, I was still waffling on whether to run hard, or take it easy and treat it purely as a training run. I hadn’t planned on making this a “target” race, so I hadn’t tapered much for it, but I had tapered some (some of it a “forced” taper as I was only able to get in minimal running for the week Jasmine was in Thailand). And last Monday I managed to sprain an ankle a bit – if felt OK but it was pretty swollen for a couple days. And on Friday prior we’d taken Avery sledding and snow-tubing at Santiam pass, and I managed to wear myself out a bit hiking up the hill and, more-so, building a snow-cave and tunnel with Avery. For the snow cave I spend way too much time kicking away at the snow, and afterwards I discovered I’d managed to over-stress something in both shins in the process, and found myself hobbling around a bit. But at least it was a great snow cave - well worth any injury. I know.... whine, whine, whine!

(Speaking of whining, Jasmine, in a search for sympathy, wants me to include the fact that she suffered a rather debilitating injury while sledding. The injury is to her “bum”, as they call it in the Queen’s English. She’s been sitting on an ice pack or a donut shaped pillow ever since.)

So I wasn’t feeling overly rested, but I have been feeling great running lately, and putting in lots of training miles. The morning of the race I was walking from our hotel over to the start (letting Avery and Jas sleep a bit longer). It was a perfect morning, I was feeling good, so I decided I might as well run as hard as I could. Plus, the course was shortened due to heavy snow-pack from 38+ miles to a mere 34. For some reason 34 miles seemed a lot easier than 38, so what the heck.

I had very little idea what to expect from the course, other than it was considered “runnable” except for a short “grunt” section. The start was pretty flat, on easy trail. There was a group of 5, I think, that took off in front setting the pace. Another pair of runners followed closely behind, and I settled in not too far back from them. The pace was really fast for me, but the course so far was easy, and it felt good.

We crossed a bridge, then crossed a paved road, and then got onto a long, flat, straight stretch on a dirt road. Finally we came to a right turn back onto a trail, and arrived at the first aid station. I still had water in my bottles, but grabbed a couple gels for my pockets, and downed a few M&Ms.

The next section followed a trail along a creek. I’m sure it was lovely, but I was focused mostly on the trail, and trying to keep up the pace with the pair of runners ahead of me. Eventually we crossed the creeks, and the trail started rolling a bit, mostly up-hill, but pretty gradually, and it was all runnable. I could occasionally hear female voices from behind, sounding way too casual for such a quick pace.

I passed the 2nd aid station, filled up with water and electrolyte drink, and grabbed a couple more gels. Soon after, I came across Jasmine and Avery, taking photos at a sunny section, with a great view of North Sister. The 2nd aid station also served as the 4th aid station, so I’d next see them right there on the return. I tossed my gloves to Avery and kept going. It was already getting pretty warm.

It didn’t take long to get to “water only” aid station 3a. I still had water, so I kept on going. The next section was the “snow-shortened” section, so instead of 6-7 miles, we’d be looping back to the same aid station “3b” in just a couple miles, so I didn’t stop. By this point, I was running in a pack of four runners. The guy I’d been following for a while was Justin Angle – who’d I normally have no business keeping up with, but he was just coming off an impressive 100 mile run, and he wasn’t exactly racing today. Stan Holman (former Hagg lake 50k course record holder) from Washington was with us, and Kami Semick, star ultra runner and all-around outdoor athlete extraordinaire from Bend, was setting the pace. It was exciting to find myself in this group, though it made me worry that I was over-reaching, pace-wise.

I managed to take a spill here at one point. No injuries, but I got pretty dirty. I felt bad that Stan stopped to make sure I was OK – I didn’t want to slow anyone down. I got up as quickly as I could and caught back up to the group.

After a bit of easy climbing along a gentle ridge, we dropped down into a canyon. Here there was some snow on the trail, and some serious ice in one or two sections. I’d fallen a bit behind the group prior to the ice, but I managed to run down the ice section pretty fast (it reminded me of heading down the hill from the rec-center to the dorm at Michigan Tech back in the day, where the sidewalk was always a sheet of ice), catch up, and slide past the more cautious runners. Soon after the ice section was the “grunt” – a steep, loose climb straight up back out of the canyon. No running here. Just hiking it hard left me pretty knackered by the top, although it was only a few minutes long.

Back at water-only aid station (“3b”) I filled a water bottle and kept going. I was really trying to stay on top of eating and drinking and I think it paid off later in the day. From 3b, it didn’t take long to get back to aid station 4, where Jas and Avery were still waiting. Avery had on her new pink cow-girl hat. Very cute. J

From AS4, it was mostly downhill trail to AS5. Coming up the other way on this section were lots of 30k runners, many with their dogs. (Dogs were allowed in the 30k race). It was occasionally “exciting” to run past runners and dogs, at high speed (going downhill) on a narrow trail.

By this time the runners had spread out a bit. Kami was well ahead, running with another woman who had caught and passed me, as were Stan and another runner that had caught our group. I think Justin stopped back at an aid station. At one point Stan and the other guy appeared to take a wrong turn. They were pretty far ahead, but I could still see them. I stopped at the intersection – they were following a very rough looking “unofficial” trail, while the main trail turned to the right. I started following them for a second, but stopped, and some early starters caught up from behind and agreed the right turn had to be correct. I shouted – not sure if they heard or not. The early starters started shouting, so I kept going. (I found out later from the other guy (not Stan) that he lost about 4 minutes on the wrong turn. He caught back up and passed me 5 or 6 miles later). I was relieved to see a yellow ribbon soon after, indicating I was on the right trail.

I reached the next aid station, and then re-joined the long, straight road that we’d come up earlier. Except, I think it gad grown longer for the 2nd time along. This was about 20 miles into the race. It was strange being able to see so far – I think it was Kami ahead of me, probably by 1/4 mile or so. After a long slog, I finally crossed a road, then a bridge over a creek, and turned back onto a single track trail. This section followed a creek for a while, and then meandered through the woods. I was running alone by this point, trying my best to stay focused and keep pushing, while saving a bit for the last few miles.
Eventually the course dumped back onto gravel road. A volunteer made sure I made the correct left turn, and informed me that it was 2.3 miles to the next aid station. What he didn’t tell me was that it was almost all up-hill, and almost all fully exposed to the sun. So it was a long 2.3 miles, but a good 2.3 miles. The hill let me change my pace and cadence enough that it felt good on my legs, and I was able to run the whole thing (except for a few quick walking breaks to drink and down a gel). Occasionally the hill appeared to crest, only to start climbing again around a corner. But it was all pretty gradual and runnable. I was passed once in this section by one of the guys who’d taken the wrong turn earlier. He was running strong. A few minutes later I passed a runner who was walking up the hill. He said he’d tweaked his ankle pretty good. I offered some Advil, but he said he was OK to keep going without. I pulled away, and with about 9 miles to go I was running alone again. I didn’t pass, or get passed, by another runner for the rest of the race.

Aid station 6 finally appeared. I refilled both bottles, grabbed a couple more gels, downed some food, and started off again on a single track trail. From this point on, it was mostly downhill to the finish, though there were a couple rollers that involved some uphill running. I figured I’d run conservatively for the next two miles, then try to push it a bit for the last 6 miles or so, if I had any gas left. 15 or 20 minutes out from the aid station I downed another gel, struggled up a warm, sunny uphill section, then tried to push it for a while. This part of the course was stunning – narrow single track meandering through a wide open hilltop, with views up and down the Cascade volcanoes. I made note to come back some day and hike this area in order to soak up the view – for the moment I tried to keep my eyes on the trail. I passed photographer in this section (I’m looking forward to that picture), then a kid out hiking with his family who assured me I was near the next aid station… finally back into the trees, and into the aid station where Jas and Avery were waiting.

I refilled both bottles again, ate a gel, and asked what place I was in. They weren’t sure, but thought “definitely top 10”. I was pretty excited at the prospect of a top 10 finish, and I definitely didn’t want to lose it on the last 4.2 mile leg to the finish. Also I knew I had a shot at a sub 4:30 time, especially if it were indeed mostly downhill to the finish. I took off determined to run hard, though I was struggling a bit at this point. For the next 15 or 20 minutes I tried not to think of the finish or count down the miles, but rather just keep a steady pace. There was one modest uphill section. I power hiked a bit while drinking some, and pouring as much water as I could over my head. I also started looking over my shoulder quite a bit, wary of getting passed. Before long there was a nice, gentle downhill, and I was able to run it pretty fast. A long straight section let me see that there was nobody within several hundred yards behind me (or in front), so I felt pretty confident my place was set. I started focusing on getting in by 4:30. A sign said 1 ¾ miles to Sisters. The finish line was at least ½ mile before Sisters, so I figured I had at most 1 to 1 ¼ miles left. My watch read 4:18. The trail was still a gentle downhill, so I kept running hard. Sooner than I expected, I saw the road in front of the middle school (where the race finished), and I knew sub-4:30 was in the bag. I crossed the road, meandered through the parking lot, and entered the track, where the finish line was still about a half lap around the track. Avery joined me for the last bit on the track, and held my hand across the finish line. I came in just under 4:27. 8th place! Whoo Hoo!

Next up is our “hometown” race – the Mac forest 50k, just four short weeks away. I’m hoping to break five hours, as last year I missed that mark by just three minutes. Hopefully I can recover fast from yesterday’s run, get in a week or two of solid training, and leave time for a decent taper. After the Mac 50k, I’ve got 10 weeks until the Tahoe Rim trail 100 – my first 100 miler!