Saturday, March 28, 2009

Rainy Daze

I went down to Green Lake this morning to run the Dizzy Daze 50k, which is ten laps around the outer rim of Green Lake. I did this run last year and liked it. I like running the laps, checking my time each time around, talking with folks. Today was not my day, though. The rain was relentless. Stupid stupid rain. I am so sick of rain. And it was a cold rain too. Puddles were everywhere, and there were places on the loop where cars drive by and spray you. I felt like Ben Stiller at the low point of one of his movies. Just pathetic. I wisely stopped after four laps, and the fourth lap was mostly walking. I just did not have it, physically, mentally or equipment wise. I was full of the blahs. No need for overanalysis. It was miserably rainy and I wasn't into being wet and cold or performing feets of strength and moxie. Props to those who did soldier on, some curiously enjoying it. You are amazing. Still, for me--I felt pure uncensored satisfaction after quitting, when I walked into Starbucks and got my warm severance latte. Basketball on the couch this afternoon could not have been better.
I don't have sponsors, so I can tell the truth about my equipment. My rag wool gloves sucked. They didn't repel any water. My fingers were so frozen that I couldn't turn on the ignition of my car after the run. I wasn't that impressed with my Marmot Precip either--I bought this jacket hoping it would keep me dry in the most rainy of trail running conditions. It is supposedly endorsed by Noah--"40 days, 40 nights! Me and my Precip!"--but Noah never lived in Seattle. The precip seemed to work last year during NB2V, but I got soaked today, and I was not toasty. Not feeling the love. I do like Marmot though, and I might've put it on too late, and there was a bit of operator error with the hood, which if you know me, is not surprising--note the rag wool comment earlier. Still, it's a "Precip" and so I can have expectations. Also, I didn't realize it was a big deal at the time, but my new New Balance shoes sucked. I limped all afternoon due to lack of arch support on my left foot. New Balance eats space monkies. I guess Team New Balance won't be calling me.
I was planning on doing Whidbey tomorrow, but I'm not up for it, which is dissapointing, but I have to listen to my body, heart, and mind, and this is just not a weekend for me to be running long distances, particularly in bad weather. I probably will be doing Sun Mountain in a couple weeks, although there is a part of me which is thinking maybe I should do some 10ks. Or maybe take up a new hobby, like extreme stamp collecting. This sort of thinking is a sure sign that I need to just back off a bit, but I really think what is going on is I just want some sun and probably just a few less events.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Once a year, from 1825 to 1840, fur trappers gathered annually at some pre-determined location (usually Wyoming) for a great gathering, which was called the "Rendezvous." Back then, the West was unpopulated, except for tribes, a few missionaries, and the beaver trappers. Beaver pelts were in great demand for top hats on the east coast and elsewhere. I used to love reading about the mountain men and fur traders---Jedediah Smith, Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and such. They pretty much had an untamed land, all to themselves, and no REI. Their rendezvouses were great parties--gambling, drinking, fur trading and who knows what else. A time to see one another.
The Chuckanut 50k always reminds me of these rendezvouses. Maybe a little short on the fur trading and gambling (maybe?), but Chuckanut is an annual reunion of sorts, with lots of ultrafolks from the Northwest showing up, and lots of smiles and hellos everywhere, before and after the race. Registration is capped at 350, and that's a lot for an ultra. It's one of the bigger 50ks in the United States of America. Just about everybody who does these things locally shows up. Krissy M. and her family and crew know how to throw a party. Chuckanut is a gateway drug--for a lot of people, including myself, it was their first ultra.
Sometimes it's rainy, sometimes there's snow. I was expecting rain, but wow!--this year turned out perfect! Clear skies, roughly 40 to 50 degrees through the day. Some mud on the backside of the ridge trail, but that's always going to be there this time of year. The run out to Aid Station 1 was very social, and then the climbing began. I really wasn't into climbing, so I didn't push until the ridge. The ridge was great for me, and after that I was able to keep things steady until the end, albeit a little strained at times.
My finish time was 6:16. I ran ok for me, not great, but not horrible either, and I didn't overextend. It should be easy enough to bounce back quick, which was a real race priority, moreso than time. I want to start stacking long weekend runs, get lots of miles and hours on my feet, while staying injury free. Both my hamstrings sort of cramped from miles 20 to 31 periodically, but I think I warded off debilitating cramps with the occasional endurolyte pill. It was apparent that I need to do all sorts of stuff to improve, but it's March, so whatever---C-nut is great for figuring all these things out. I'll never be near the top in a race like this--the winner was under 4 hours, and there are some really fast folks who show up, which is fun to hear about afterwards. This was my fifth Chuckanut, and one of my most enjoyable.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Full Moon Snowshoe Hike at Mount Baker

I've gotten into the habit of watching the full moon calendar during the winter. When the skies are clear, there's no better place locally to enjoy a full moon and the night sky then up on Mt. Baker. It's quite simply a world class outdoor experience. Tuesday night looked promising. Emails, telephone calls and smoke signals followed; by noon, the message came through:
Houston, we are a go.
I left work in Bellingham at 4 PM, met up with Dean and the rest of his fun-loving friends at Maple Falls, and we began our snowshoe hike around sunset out of the Mt. Baker ski area. We pretty much had things to ourselves. We made the top of the ridge right as the moon rose--that's the picture above. The pics here are copyright Scott T./Skagit Herald--pretty nice to have a professional photographer on the hike. And good company at that. It was so cold though that Scott's camera batteries froze. Vince R. came as well, to write the story, and he does a better job than I of telling the tale, and so feel free to fast forward to the link below. There's even a video clip. Our little full moon adventure made the front page of the Herald on Thursday--nice!
For my faithful blog follower(s), my bonus track comments are 1.) it was 5 degrees, and very very very very cold; 2.) full moon rise on snow canyon makes for an amazing ethereal pink glow--this is my first chance to legitmately drop the word "ethereal" in quite some time--it's a good word, and the pink glow seemed from another world; and 3.) I forgot my pants, my headlamp, my gloves, and food. Also, my ski poles were useless, because they were too long. But my new snowshoes are pretty cool--they have a heel elevator which is real nice for sharp inclines. Also, there were a couple nuts doing some rock climbing on Table Mountain with headlamps--kind of cool. As one friend said, just when you thought you'd seen it all as far as crazy goes, you see some fools night rock or ice climbing at 5 degrees. Life is good, and may it be long too.
We'll probably do this one more time this winter, maybe under a New Moon. The pics below may look like they were taken in daylight, but if you look close, you can see spots in the sky, aka stars, novas, nebulae, planets, galaxies and other astronomical events. Cue Neil Young's Pochohantas (from Rust Never Sleeps), and dream of traveling across an unsettled America, clear skies night after night. If you want. I would. Or you could just read the story--


Luna rising

Ring of Fire at Night aka Mt. Baker

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Winner Winner!

The last 24 hours have been incredible. I'm finally a WINNER! I never win races. All the fast people lap me, most with smiles. But now I've got my own hardware. Last night in my mailbox I found a package from Runner's World, with a sterile form letter, saying I had won the Unofficial Runner's World Send Us Some Mail and You Might Win Some Crap Uncontest. Seriously, I saw that they wanted mail, so I sent them an unused German Christmas card that I had sitting around, and it must've turned some heads, because I got the best prize of all....the Adidas/Kellogg's Snap Crackle Pop! Pedometer, found last year in a box of Apple Jacks. Happy day!! Here's a bunch more information from the world wide web--

As if that weren't enough, Paul H. from Adventures NW magazine--a terrific local magazine on all things outdoors--sent me an email this morning saying that I won a free entry into the Whidbey Island Marathon. Right on! I did the inaugural Whidbey way back when, but haven't been back--this will fit right in with things. This just shows--if I can be a winner, anyone can be a winner! Just keep chasing your dreams!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

YMCA Six Hour Fund Run

Change of plans for this Saturday. Usually I run the GBRC's Run for the Honeywagon 1/2 marathon this day, with a friend of mine. It's a favorite, up in little old Everson, near the Canadian border. However, I've been fighting colds all February, and my running isn't quite where I want it to be. And I still have a cold, with the dry mouthroof and the green nose stuff. It's not that good. But I need miles, and so I opted for Kendall K's YMCA benefit run in Snohomish instead. My favorite thing about this race was the pulled pork sandwichs at the end. I told the office I was going vegetarian this week, and then he serves up something like that. They were really good sandwichs, but then again, after running six hours, I'm probably not hard to please. But these were good, I'm sure of it. I've done long hikes, after which PB&J and top ramen have felt like some sort of manna from heaven. I think manna was supposed to taste good. I hope so--those folks circling around in the desert wilderness supposedly ate it for forty years.
So my run....I sucked, because I was sick. But I ran the whole six hours, except for occasional walking and change of clothes stops. I totaled out at 32.5--if I was healthy, I would've been good for more. The course was flat as flat can be, making the miles easy. It was on a rail trail, called the Centennial Trail, out by Snohomish. You go 2.5 miles one way, turn around, come back, do it again, etc. Most of the usuals were there, and it feels like a while since I've seen them. The course design led to hellos every 2.5 miles--"hey good job!" "Looking strong!" "Good job again!" "Hey, what's up?" "How you doing?" Or then there was the tactful finger wave--lot of waving and head nods. Maybe it was just me. I like to be friendly, but 14 hellos per person was kind of odd, but better to be friendly than not. Encouragement is good. I changed my clothes three times, because the weather was all over the place, with wind at times, rain, etc. I really didn't have my clothing dialed in. I listened to six hours of music. One really cool thing about this race is its a fundraiser for the YMCA, which besides being a song and a gym, is a terrific community organization. I give every year to the Whatcom Y, where I'm also a member. This is the first race I've done where my race fee was tax deductible! Props go to the race organizer, Kendall.
Tonight my family's coming up! Very cool. Huskies are about to win the Pac 10 for the first time since the 1950s or something. Also cool--I'm a UW grad, as are my parents. Tomorrow I'll probably trot around Blanchard, and then I have to draft a team for The League, my fantasy baseball league which is having its 25 year anniversary this year. Looking to be a good weekend.