Saturday, October 1, 2011
The year didn't start off well for me. I was injured till mid/late March with severe tendonitis in the ankle. I was a DNS at the HURT 100. It was to be a week of celebrating (10 year wedding anniversary) and a day of racing. However we decided to forgo the trip to Hawaii and I spent my time and energy in a major remodel on the house.
As my ankle improved...so did my fitness, albeit at, what it seemed like the speed of a glacier. I didn't have any expectations on my running was to be like for the summer. My main goal was to remain healthy and enjoy time on the trails.
At the last minute, I signed up for the Beacon Rock 50K (luckily it hadn't filled) in June. I ran well there, placing 3rd.
As my confidence soared from this race, I began to put more miles & time on the trails. My twin brother who resides in Vietnam and had been running consistently, we both decided to run the PCT 50. Soon after his arrival in the U.S., the entire family (parents, both of my brother's families and my family) spent 8 days in Central Oregon. Here Thad and I explored some new trails for the first time as well as some old......Newberry National Monument, Smith Rocks, multiple runs along with the Deschutes River Trail....as well as a few mountain bike rides. It was this week that I put in some serious miles getting ready for the PCT 50 miler.
The PCT 50 miler came and went. Another great race for me, 4th overall, and just missing the 7 hour barrier by 2 minutes! Thad did extremely well there for his first ultra in a time of 9.5 hrs.
Instead of racing, I tend to enjoy the solitude of running in the mountains by myself or with friends, at steady pace, thinking a lot while being out for 6-10+ hours. So for the next number of weeks, that is what I did:
Mt Hood Circumnavigation - Joe K, Joe G, Nick, Yassine, Willie, Ian (August)
Climbed Mt Adams - with Nelson (August)
3 Sisters Circumnavigation - solo (August)
Mt St Helens Circumnavigation - solo (August)
Climbed Prusik Peak - with Phil (first alpine climb in probably 5+ years) (Sept)
Mt Adams Circumnavigation - with Nelson (Sept)
Forest Park Marathon - Oct.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get around Mt Rainier.
So what is in store for next year? Well, I've got some ideas.....
Continous runs of all the volcanoes
3 Sisters/Broken Top/Bachelor link-up
Some alpine climbing in the Cascades - Forbidden Peak, Mt. Stuart N. Ridge, Liberty Ridge on Rainier
If next year is anything like this past year (albeit the injury), I'll be satisfied.
Gotta say a big thanks to my family for making this past summer so special. They've supported me the entire time.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I left the Pole Creek TH right about 6:45am after driving from my in-laws house in Salem (they were watching the kids as Christy was in Hood River spending the weekend with friends).
The trail was in great shape all the way till Green Lakes. I run much of the way albeit some short, steep sections gaining the "col" between S. Sister and Broken Top. Yes, some sections were sandy, but still runnable for the most part. There were many streams flowing due to the high snow pack this year so I periodically filled my 2 handheld water bottles in the numerous streams (not knowing the availability of water on the west side of these mountains).
I made it quickly around Green Lakes and down the trail before cutting west over to Moraine Lake. Once around Moraine Lake (on the south side) I came upon a 4-way junction. I looked at the map I had brought (which didn't have the 4-way junction). I opted to go further south towards Devils Lake - trying to head over to the trail that would drop me down to the PCT and the Wickiup Plan. I ended up picking the right trail as I crossed the trail that leads to the summit of S. Sister and soon found myself descending to the Wickiup Plan.
In a nutshell, the west side of this loop is incredible --plains, meadows, streams, pumice fields, forests, etc. A few more people but the scenery is much more enjoyable but definitely more exposed running through the plains and lava fields.
The weather had been perfect all day but the mercury started to rise. The hot, exposed rays of the big bright star eventually took its toll on me as I was nearing the area of Scott Spring/Camp Scott on the N/NW side of the N. Sister. This stupor lasted till I reached Alder Creek (below). This part of the trail was most striking and different from all other aspects of this adventure but I wasn't in any mood to savor the beauty of the landscape and enjoy it. I was just trying to stay cool by spraying water on my face and down my back. Water was scarce on this section from Scott Spring to Alder Creek (the water at Sawyer's Bar looked like it was infested with some protozoan/bacteria). I came upon 2 hikers on Scott Pass who were clearly in need of water. They asked if a water source was close and I mentioned it was over 3.5 miles away. They seemed a little surprised. I didn't stay long to contemplate their decision (or fate), so I dropped down the east side of Scott Pass. I had noticed on the map that Alder Creek was 4.1 miles away...hoping and praying that the creek was still flowing.
I made relatively quick time on the descent from Scott Pass. I came upon a fork in the trail about a mile (good thing for my Garmin) down from Scott Pass. I grabbed my map again. The trail I was needing to take was supposed to be 1.8miles from Scott Pass. I decided to trust my Garmin and map so I kept moving straight ahead. Sure enough, about 1.8miles from Scott Pass there was the trail that would lead to my car.
NOTE: That other trail wasn't on my map.
I was now running low on water. Once I got onto this new trail, I was 2.3 miles from Alder Creek. Again, I was hoping there was water still flowing. Those few miles seemed to drag on forever. A lone hiker and I crossed paths saying a brief hello. Any how, I made it to the creek, walking right into it. The ice cold water was refreshing. The 5 minute break was great!
I set off from Alder Creek (5 miles to the car) with a power-hike...hiking all the uphills as the trail was no different than walking on the beach. I ran the last 2.5 miles to the car as soon as I crested the last ridge.
Feels good to have done it. Hardest solo run ever. Time of 9hrs 40mins. Total 46 miles (Garmin captured 40 of it).
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Had a great time meeting new people and racing against great (and fast) friends.
Recap of race:
Great 1st half that seemed a bit fast but went with it. Last 22ish miles could've been better.....cramps and stomach issues. Ate a meager 3 GUs, 6 orange wedges and 6 Coke/Sprite mini-cups.
4th overall in a time of 7hrs 2mins. Thanks Todd for putting on a great race. A big thanks to all the volunteers for making this event possible.
I'm most impressed with my twin brother for finishing his first ultra. His training ground being the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam. Great job Thad!!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
The first few miles was working out the kinks and getting into a good rhythm on the gradual gravel road. As we hit the single track about 3.5 miles into the race I would alternate between running and power-hiking, depending on the steepness of the trail. I crested the summit of Hardy Mtn and begun the approx mile descent of steep, technical terrain (I'm surprised I didn't twist an ankle or fall) to the aid station.
I hit the first aid station in 4th place (mile 5.5), filling my water bottle with Nuun and grabbed a GU. The slight downhill (half gravel road/other half single-track) to the start of the climb up to the summit of Hamilton Mtn took longer than expected. I pushed it a little bit but not too much on this part, thinking I would gain on the 3 in front while we started the climb.
The climb to the summit of Hamilton Mtn was steep with numerous switchbacks. The views were spectacular. I power-hiked some and ran some. I knew I made up some lost time cause I could see Joe up ahead. I still didn't push too hard as I knew we would be going up this steep climb again. I repeated over and over to myself........"Conserve. Be patient. You'll make lost time on the 2nd loop." Even so, I was still a disappointed that I didn't catch Joe on the climb.
The next few miles to the aid station went by quickly. Just as I was entering the aid station I could see Joe off in the distance going around a bend in the road. I grabbed a few GUs, an S-cap and drank some Coke and took off.
If I wanted to make up lost time on the 3 guys in front, I knew I needed to push the downhills. So after leaving the aid station for the turnaround/halfway point in the race, I found a higher gear and took off. I caught Joe about 2.5 miles from the turnaround. We ran together all the way to the turnaround - pushing each other - but at a nice comfortable pace. The 2 other guys were ahead of us by 4 and 6 minutes.
Joe and I didn't stay for long. My pace was definitely slower going up the gravel road the 2nd time around. Once we hit the single-track climbing up to Hardy Mtn, I was walking more than running. Joe and I caught up to the 2nd place guy - Michael Wedemeyer. But Hozumi Nakai caught up to all of us......and was looking STRONG. We all 3 passed Michael pretty much at the same time...me leading. I pushed the pace a little and Hozumi and I gapped Joe and Michael. I continued the pace but Hozumi was right on my tail so I stepped aside to let him pass. He mentioned something like I didn't need to do that but he was moving way too fast and I was clearly slowing him down. Within a few minutes Hozumi had already gapped me. I quickened the pace down the other side of Hardy on the steep, technical section, thinking that Joe and Michael would catch me.....but they didn't. I rolled into the aid station (mile 20ish) and quickly exited with a few GUs in hand. Just as I was leaving the aid station, Joe was arriving. I yelled, "Let's go Joe!"..... he probably not hearing me.
I got to within about 100meters of Hozumi (he had to take a pee-break along-side the road) but that was as near as I would get to him. I was struggling a little on the single-track leading over to the climb up Hamilton Mtn. I had spotted a Cliff Bar at the previous aid station and started slowly taking bites from it. My stomach began to act up but I knew I needed the calories. As a made the sharp turn to begin the steep climb up Hamilton, Michael appeared out of nowhere behind me, clearly making up time on the way over to Hamilton! His presence actually startled me. Hozumi wasn't going to be caught, he was just too strong today. I knew that if I hammered and made it up to the top of Hamilton before Joe or Michael, my chances of reaching the finish before them were pretty good. The second time going up the mountain seemed longer and harder, but I was able to manage a "fair amount" of running considering the steepness and switchbacks. Once I hit the top, I took off and started bombing down to the last aid station at mile 27ish.
I barely stopped at this last aid station -- just enough time to fill the waterbottle. I then started hammering the last downhill section. With a cramp here (groin area) and a cramp there (right-side of abdomen), I was able to stroll into the finish at 4hrs 55mins. 3rd place overall. Hozumi kicked some serious you-know-what and finished in 4hrs 50mins - 2nd place.
Great course! Great volunteers! Great competition! Great race James! Happy to be back racing again. James Varner's Angels Staircase in mid-August looks pretty cool. I just may sign up for that remote and brutal course.
Thanks Joe for pushing me out there....even tho you probably didn't realize you were doing so. You had me running scared those last miles.
Thursday, June 9, 2011
It would've been nice to have run HURT...and spend some time with my wife without the kids (the trip was supposed to have been a "delayed" 10-year anniversary trip). With a cancelled trip to Hawaii, I sunk my time and energy (and money) into a major remodel. (The "alternate" 10 year anniversary gift. In my mind, Christy got a great gift. She thinks so too.) With the help from family and friends (William, Jeremy and Joe), I finished the remodel in about 2 months. What a person can accomplish when one isn't training!!
Over the past few months I've put some consistent mileage on the legs. This past week was a big week - at least for me - which consisted of running 85 miles in 4 days and biking 45. I've never been a mega-mile person. Actually, this is the biggest training week I've ever had. So with some consistent mileage behind me, I figured I needed to see how "fit" I really am, so I signed up for the Beacon Rock 50k this Sunday. Looks to be a good course with some good elevation gain.
No matter what the outcome of the race is, I'm just happy to be back running again. I'm certain you will see a grin from ear to ear throughout the race.