Showing posts from May, 2013

So maybe I overdid it

Late spring is such a beautiful time of year on the Wasatch Front, and so brief. I forget. There's a short window between the snow and withering heat of summer, when the mountains come alive with electric greens and vibrant wildflowers. It's intoxicating. I must have some, I told myself, even when I woke up Sunday morning with deep-set stiffness and a hungover feeling of fatigue. Saturday's Twin Peaks attempt was as hard on my body as any 50K trail race; probably harder, as I engaged all kinds of muscles I hardly use and bashed plenty of body parts in the process. I promised myself I would take Sunday off, I really did. But when the morning dawned as gorgeous as it did, I groped for justification. "It's not like I can just come back any time." "Really, it's my quads and calves that are sore. Those things are resilient." "It will be good for the soul. Hundred-milers are soul efforts anyway."

West Ridge of Grandeur Peak. I effectively …

Bold return to the Wasatch

I spent all day Friday driving from the Bay Area to the Salt Lake Valley. Eight hundred miles on a desolate yet crowded Interstate 80. I actually quite enjoy long solo drives, for many of the same reasons that I enjoy long solo runs or rides — I can retreat into my quiet personal bubble, ponder all of the deep thoughts that I don't mind forgetting later, view intriguing landscapes, listen to music, sing out loud if I feel like it, get worked up over news, and snack on junk food. I also dislike long solo drives for the same reasons I dislike long solo runs — some boredom is unavoidable, as is at least one segment when I struggle not to doze off on my feet/at the wheel. I can't always find good places to stop and pee. My legs cramp up. I eat too much junk food and then I feel icky. Then, once it's all over, I'm really tired and feel vaguely hungover. Yeah, that's endurance running driving. 
 But doing the whole 800 miles in one push was all worth it when I woke up e…


It occurred to me today that this week would be the tenth anniversary of the day I first set foot in Alaska. Of all of the moments in life to commemorate, this is one that stands out for me — a turning point, or point of no return, depending on how I look at it.

I had to dig through the very old archives of the Wayback Machine to find the exact date — May 30, 2003. Three friends and I had been meandering north for almost a month, living out of a 1990 Ford Econoline Van with a custom roof, retrofitted electrical wiring and the high luxuries of a television, cell-phone based dial-up internet connection (as in, we actually plugged our laptops into a phone) and a small refrigerator. Perishable food was hard to come by in the north, we were discovering, and the fridge stayed mostly empty except for foil-wrapped Dolly Varden and grayling that we pulled out of tiny streams in British Columbia, and cans of Pepsi that I insisted on keeping cool. After a month on the road I was only starting t…

Horseshoe Lake 50K

On Sunday we did our last long run before the Bryce 100, the Horseshoe Lake 50K. It was a beautiful morning, with saturated light at clear views over the big blue Pacific. The race was sold out and I think there were close to 200 people at the start. I was drawn into all the excitement of "yay running" and went out too fast on the first climb, which resulted in being caught in a faster group for the punchy descents. Not wanting to get mowed down on the singletrack, I did my best to keep the pace by resorting to toe running.

I've done a bit of research on common causes of shin pain. There are a lot of different theories about which motions and/or tight muscles lead to tibial stress. My experiment of one so far shows that braking or landing hard with my forefoot, which is my tendency when descending or accelerating, seems to exacerbate the pain. Subsequently, slowing my downhill pace, shortening my stride, and deliberately engaging full foot strikes (trying to get that he…

Strava hubris

This was supposed to be a mellow pre-race spin up Black Mountain, but after just two miles I knew it was going to be a grind. My legs were empty, like an unseen force had drained out the muscles and injected them with gelatin. The week had been going great up to a point, but then it took a dramatic turnaround. What happened? "I blame Strava," I grumbled to Beat as I struggled to hold his wheel.

Speed. Most of the time, I prefer to pursue longevity-promoting balance. Do something at 100 percent of your capabilities and you might need a week to recover, but at 80 percent you can go for half a day, and at 60 percent exponentially longer. Eventually you come to the conclusion that if distance is your ultimate goal, speed isn't the way to go about it. Still, I admit that it's intriguing take something you do all the time and try to do it faster. Every once in a while, I get sucked into the temptation.

It started with the AMGEN Tour of California, and considering my own P…

Over the slump?

Recovery is a difficult equation to solve. For most of April I felt blah. I had a difficult time with regular running routes, acquired hints of a minor injury, took it sort of easy but not really, and then ran a fifty-mile trail race. And this week, ever since the morning after the fifty miler, I've felt great. Minimal soreness, no new aching in the shin, and an abundance of energy. It seems all it takes is one fun endurance adventure to reset my psyche — "Oh, right, we really enjoy this stuff. We're not tired, not tired at all. Carry on, body." And my body, since it's way stronger than my mind regardless of what my egotistical mind likes to think, just shrugs and says, "Oh, okay." And off we go.

I have continued to take it easy for the sake of my shin. There's also the matter that I am decidedly in taper mode now. I have one more long run this weekend and then I have to focus on being prepared for the Bryce 100 on May 31. There was a miniature sca…

Bustin out at the Quicksilver 50M

For what was supposed to be one of the early and therefore "easy" efforts in a succession of test runs before PTL, I was feeling an inordinate amount of dread for the Quicksilver 50-mile. Its "early test run" status is what made it so scary — I really needed Quicksilver to go well before I can approach the big efforts in front of me with any sort of confidence. If I couldn't hold it together for a fifty-mile race in May, what hope do I have for 200 miles in August?

It felt like fate was conspiring against my tenuous confidence. I'm already daunted by the 50-mile distance — it's effectively a 50K-level effort for nearly double the amount of time. But I'd been having a tough time finding consistency in my running this spring, even before I felt hints of a shin splint in my left leg. I played it conservative for a couple of weeks, but my shin was still bothering me after a short run on Monday. I effectively took the rest of the week off — bike ride on …