Showing posts from 2013

2013 in photos

It's become a tradition each December to post my favorite photos from the past year, one for each month, with a top favorite photo of the year. Favorite photos often become so because they capture a particularly memorable moment or event during the month, which is why I consider myself more of a "photo documentarian" than a "photographer." My favorite photos always evoke strong emotions, and this one is, from a personal standpoint, one of the most powerful snapshots I've ever taken. I look at it and feel a flood of emotions, questions, longing, and uncertainty, every time. It's a photo of Mont Blanc at sunrise, on the fourth and final morning I spent in the Petite Trotte a Leon, with my race teammates Giorgio (wearing the silly cape) and Ana descending a pass shortly after crossing into Italy. I was so blissed out in this moment; it's one of the few times during that experience that I was able to step outside of my fear and malaise and be purely ha…

Week 5, Dec. 9 to 16

Monday: Run, 1:18, 4.6 miles, 768 feet climbing. I was in the city for a meeting so I grabbed a quick run at Marshall Beach. I had no prior experience with the area and didn't know where I was going, so I also spent time scrambling on rocks and clawing up a sand ladder, but there was some beach running thrown in during my short but hard workout. Running on sand is great for ankle and calf strengthening, and I wish I had better beach access. If anyone has suggestions for exercises that mimic the conditioning of sand running, I'd love to hear them.

Tuesday: Run, 0:53, 5.7 miles, 607 feet climbing. Monta Vista loop.

Wednesday: Zero. Had lots to do, and I do need more rest days in the mix.

Thursday: Mountain bike, 4:36, 41.1 miles, 4,081 feet climbing. For the most part, this was just under four hours of mellow riding with about 45 minutes of being maxed out while mashing pedals up the Limekiln Trail in Sierra Azul. I was genuinely tapped out after this ride, which is usually what ha…

Going long

This week is my third anniversary of ultrarunning; my first long run was the Rodeo Beach 50K on Dec. 18, 2010. Three years ... time does fly. I think back to what running was like for me then; I can say with confidence that it hurts a whole lot less than it used to. I never got much faster, but then again speed is never something I've sought. Naturally awkward non-runners forcing their bodies into loping movements can only lope faster with lots of focus and specific work. And the risks of speed are — in my opinion — too high. In cycling, there's a popular mantra for choosing a bicycle: Light, Strong, and Cheap — Pick Two. When deciding what kind of runner to be, I'm pretty sure it's: Fast, Long, and Forever — Pick Two. Fast, of course, meaning fast relative to your individual ability. It must be obvious that I'd choose long and forever. My ultimate goal would be to develop an efficient "forever" pace, a pace that maximized distance and minimized body bre…

Waiting area

Lately, I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed with the "Things to Do" list. "I'm so busy," I'd grumble to myself, while at the same time acknowledging that yes, I don't have children, and, yes, I'm self-employed in a mostly open-ended way with only one or two deadlines a week, and because of that I cannot be "busy." I chose this lifestyle because I value freedom, time, and self-exploration over traditional societal markers of success, such as personal wealth, status, and busyness.

And yet, and yet, I'm so busy. Have to, have to finish this book project this winter, but the effort feels so clunky right now and I hate writing clunky, better to flow, can't force flow, even my blogs have been crappy and neglected lately, but I need to start on that book editing project and all that Web content I promised, and my boss in Alaska wants to change around all of the newspaper deadlines for the holiday week, the same week we'll be in F…

Physiology of Cold

Today I headed out to Stanford University to give a video interview about physiological responses in cold-weather endurance events. Beat and I were both recruited to give some experiential insight for an online class called "Your Body and the World: Adapting to your next big adventure." My kind of class! The instructor, Dr. Anne Friedlander, has been conducting all kinds of research into exercise physiology in extreme conditions — dunking her TAs in an ice bath, having them exercise in heated rooms. Like I said, my kind of class. 
Dr. Friedlander also is interested in having me be a guinea pig for her scientific research, toting a core temperature reader and heart rate monitor in the Iditarod Invitational. I really want to do this; I hope it works out. I've long hoped that more scientific research would focus directly on ultra-endurance sports — it's fantastic that Stanford is involved, and I'd love to be involved as well. Beat was unable to attend the interview…

Week 4, Dec. 2 to 8

Monday: Run, 1:27, 8 miles, 1,342 feet climbing. I flew out of Salt Lake City in the early afternoon, but was able to squeeze in a 90-minute trail run with my dad before I left town. We ran an out-and-back on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail in Corner Canyon, which he'd never run or hiked before. Despite spending the rest of the week in California, Monday was by far my warmest day, with temperatures near 60 degrees and a strong warm wind out of the east.

Tuesday: Run, 0:54, 5.8 miles, 614 feet climbing. The standard Tuesday run — Monta Vista loop between 4 and 5 p.m. I like having one workout that's exactly the same every single week. In future weeks I might try to designate Tuesday as a rest day. I finally changed out my shoes this week, a pair of Hoka Mafate 2s that I've had for a while but were nearly new. And the pain on top of my left foot went away entirely. I suppose I was right about the theory that my Mafate 3s were worn out.

Wednesday: Road bike, 2:27, 33.5 miles, 3,…

A distant goodbye

Just as a corporate championship race with more than a thousand participants was drawing to a close, I was a half dozen miles away on the Coastal Trail, a solo runner among the otherwise stoic cliffs. Earlier in the day, I hopped a shuttle bus and spent several hours among the crowds at Stinson Beach, cheering for runners in the North Face 50-mile Endurance Challenge — because it's fun to spectate a big race. Then I helped pace an acquaintance from Colorado who unfortunately was having a bad day and missed a cut-off at mile 36. After that, there wasn't much left to do but run back to where I started, so I took a long way, meandering along the high ridges of the Marin Headlands.

A cold wind blasted the cliffs, carrying a salty mist hundreds of feet above the crashing waves. The setting sun rendered the hillside in purple light and sharpened the chill, which, thanks to the wind, felt more threatening than the mild temperature might imply. I rounded a corner and caught a gleam f…

Simulated cold

Like many, I am a creature of habit. I have the daily work routine, the foods I like, the diversions I enjoy, the routes I ride or run, the clothing I wear. Like many, my habits bring comfort, but comfort in turn brings complacency. I didn't give a second thought to my attire when I set out for a ride on Wednesday — jersey and shorts, ultralight Pearl Izumi pullover, and a day-glo vest. Roadie layers, designed for what passes for winter here in the Bay Area. Outside there was a nip to the air, and a confirmed temperature of 42 degrees at 300 feet. But it felt pleasant, pedaling hard up Highway 9 and working up a lather of sweat. Just as I crested the hill at 2,700 feet, the sun slipped below the ridge line. Suddenly the air felt ten degrees colder than it had in the shaded canyon. Condensed breath swirled around my face. I reached in the pocket of my now-soaked jersey and pulled out the only extra layers I brought with me — a knit cap and a thin pair of gloves. In front of me was…

Week 3, Nov. 25 to Dec. 1

Monday: Run, 1:16, 6.3 miles, 1,015 feet climbing. I was traveling out to the city to visit a friend, so I planned a pre-dinner run on Sweeney Ridge in San Bruno. I enjoyed the route but felt horrible on this run, like my veins had been injected with liquid lead. My stomach was unsettled as well. Then I took some photos of the sunset over Pacifica, but accidentally deleted the card before I downloaded them. All in all, a wash of an outing.

Tuesday: Run, 1:02, 5.8 miles, 722 feet climbing. I took it easy because I didn't want to push possible recovery issues that resulted in the bad run on Monday. One issue I wanted to note in the training log, which I first noticed a couple of hours after this run, was a slight soreness in the top of my left foot. I don't feel it at all when I'm running, only afterward. My suspicion is minor tendonitis caused by shoes; the uppers on my birthday Hokas are pretty much falling apart. I'm guessing these shoes have about 500 miles of combine…


Well, I'm back in Utah for the third time in eight weeks. I think my parents are starting to suspect that I've moved back in, but the goal of this trip was to see a portion of my extended family and spend a legitimate holiday with everyone in my immediate family. Since Beat and I haven fallen into a tradition of spending Christmas in Alaska, Thanksgiving has taken on a more significant meaning as a traditional family gathering. Also for this trip, I packed out a large suitcase of Alaska-specific gear with hopes that an Arctic cold front would blow in and offer ample testing opportunities. No such luck, as the weather has been clear, ten to fifteen degrees above normal, and absolutely gorgeous. Sigh. So disappointing.

Having just escaped mob madness at the SLC airport on Wednesday afternoon, with a little over two hours of daylight to spare, my dad and I took a leisurely walk up Bells Canyon. When I was a child in the Salt Lake Valley, I believed November was the ugliest month…