12 Glory Laps in 12 Hours

12 Glory Laps in 12 Hours
Last February 20th, I hiked and skied 12 laps on Mt. Glory. 19,638 feet climbed with skis on my back and 19,638 feet skied to raise money for Camp To Belong. It's snowing again and I'm ready for the 2nd edition! Click the logo for more info and ways to support camp!

Camp To Belong - Elk Mountain Grand Traverse

Camp To Belong - Elk Mountain Grand Traverse
We're racing the Elk Mtn Grand Traverse this March, a 40 mile ski race across the roof of Colorado in the middle of the night! Click for updates on our training and fundraising progress!

Peaked Sports

Peaked Sports
Driggs, ID

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Grand Canyon - Rim to Rim to Rim - Nov. 24th, 2007

"Now with captions!"

Here's a little sample-platter of my most recent adventure: a run from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, across to the North Rim, and back. 48 miles. 12,000+ ft of elevation gain/loss. 14 hours.

Our adventure begins... And along with the obvious goal of making it all the way accross and back in one day, another challenge quietly lurked in the background: Saving the battered platoon of toenails. Last year, we sustained two casualties. This year, we were aiming to cut our losses.

There were 20 strong soldiers that began the day with us. Our hope was to have them return healthy and uninjured after all was said and done. There was one member of the group that would be watched slightly more than the others. It seems this brave warrior had already sustained injury during a previous battle and would be starting this battle already a little bit dazed and confused. The mission: Protect the healthy 19 and prevent further damage to the 1.

If it looks cold, well, it was 24 degrees with a bitter-cold wind whipping up at us from below. Brrrrrrrrr!We started heading down from the South Rim on the Bright Angel trail at 0600 under the cover of darkness so they wouldn't see us coming. Our goal was to make it as far down into the depths of the canyon before we were spotted. Elevation 6,900 feet.

The fierce and icy wind was whipping dust all over us and although it stung our eyes and choked our throats, I'm sure it helped camoflage our descent. In this photo, you can see the dust particles flying in the air as we ran further down the canyon. This was about 45 minutes and 2500 feet into our descent and our first approach to the Colorado River. So far, nobody had spotted us. Our plan was working beautifully.

We stopped at the Indian Gardens campground to declothe a bit since it was much warmer here. We were already 60 minutes and 3,000 down and the toe platoon was fully intact and working comfortably. We could still see the lights of the South Rim buildings. Ten minutes later after packing away our extra clothes, we were off again. The campers were just beginning to rustle about. I think we were spotted, but quickly disappeared just as quietly and mysteriously as we had arrived. It was getting lighter now so we would have to be more careful.

This is the Indian Gardens Ranger Station at first light.

This is one of my favorite sections along the Bright Angle Trail just below Indian Gardens. I refer to this section as "The Ledges".

Descending into "The Corkscrew". 0730 hours. 1 hour, 30 minutes, 20 healthy toes, and 3,500 feet down.

Upon exiting the side canyon we had been descending, we turned upriver for a mile or so. Just around the bend is the Silver Bridge. Elevation 2,400 feet.

Our "thundering hooves" crossing over to the north side of the river. This bridge has a see-through steel grating so as we crossed, we could look down at the frothing green Colorado River a hundered feet below our feet. The grating was a bit loose so as we ran, our pounding feet created a racket that I'm sure warned everyone on the north side of the river of our presence. 0810 hours, 2 hours, 10 minutes and 10 miles into our run. We stopped for another 10 minutes to shake down our clothing, refill our water, and use the lavish outhouses, then, soon, our 20 happy toes were on the run again.

Negotiating "The Box", a narrow 3 mile section of the North Kaibab trail just above the Colorado heading towards the North Rim. This is an obviously very scenic part of the trail with a mellow grade that is comfortably runnable at roughly 300 feet/mile. It was along this gently rolling section that I unintentionally punished my troops time and time again. I was busy watching the colorful sunlight hit the towering canyon walls and must have smacked my toes into the 16 inch high solid rock water bars over ten times. &%$@! By the time we stopped again for water, my two big toenail leaders were hurtin. Boo... = (

Since the water spigots on the north side had been turned off, we resorted to this purification method: (Part A + Part B) + 5 minutes = No knotted intestines or exploding bowels. We stopped for about 10 minutes 45 minutes prior to this at the Cottonwood Campground. We were stopped for 20 minutes here at Roaring Springs.

Our power hike up to the North Rim. 1140 hours, 5 hours, 40 minutes, 21 miles into our run. Elevation approx. 6,500 feet

500 feet below the North Rim.

Our route between the North Rim and the Colorado River .

At the North Rim trailhead, our turnaround point. 1250 hours, 6 hours, 50 minutes, 24 miles covered. For the record, last year we made it here 20 minutes faster which I attribute to the fact that last year, we did not stop for 20 minutes to purify our water. But last year, we spent 20 minutes chillin on a log at the top so, essentially, we were on the same pace. And one of us must have wanted to keep it that way by tagging the trailhead and immediately allowing gravity to take hold and be whooshed back down the trail. Time for cookies? No way sucker! We've got a job to do so stuff that cookie in your pocket for later and get those feet a flyin yo!

Our "summit" photo. Taken 500 feet below the summit once we caught back up to each other.

Descending the North Rim and feeling good. Platoon status? One healthy big toenail. Two slightly wounded big toenails with evasive action and damage control measures being presently taken. One big toenail receiving further trauma and is currently deteriorating. The rest of the troops? Giving all the support they can muster.

This section of the North Kaibab trail was blasted right out of the cliff. It reminded me of the "Light Cycle" scene from the movie Tron, one of my favorite childhood movies. (In the video I have linked here, the part of the scene I was thinking of starts at 4:27 at the very end of the clip)

Back to the South side! 0430 hours, 10 hours, 30 minutes, 38 miles, and 19 surviving toes into the run. And the 20th? Unfortunately, this little trooper had taken just about all he could take and was swollen and wounded badly, but being the well-trained "tough-as-a-toenail" soldier he is, he continued to press on up the trail. The rest of the way down to the river from the North Rim was a bit of a death march for me. The tendonitisized knees that have nuisanced me since mid-July were making their presence known by the middle of this 5,800 foot, 14 mile descent. Ow, mama!

After a half hour of crossing the bridge, we began our ascent, it began to get dark, and we began to catch the first of many poor unfortunate souls who had ventured too far down into this ginormous crack in the earth before realizing they were 1. Way too far down to hike out before dark without any sort of lightsource, 2. Way to far down for their out-of-shape bodies to carry them back out, 3. Way too far down for the limited supply of food and water they carried, if they carried any at all, 4. Not going to get any sympathy from two well-trained, well-prepared trail runners working into their 42nd mile and 11th hour, and 5. Not capable of keeping up with said well-trained, well-prepared trail runners to mooch off their lights and possibly their food and water (I'm not sure because they didn't last long enough behind us to find out)

The moon was incredibly bright for our final couple hours. About an hour from the top, the surreal moonlight only added to the erie moment when I suddenly heard the frantic words "Oh No! Oh No! Oh No!" from the dark shadowy trail up ahead. A soldier was down. After stopping briefly to assess, we had no other option but to continue upward. Finally, at 2000 hours, after 14 hours and 48 miles, we were done. We made it with 19 surviving members of our toe platoon. And the 20th? Well, he popped. An hour from the end and the blister that had gradually been forming under the toenail finally burst forth with a gush of blister-fluid. Eww. Gross.

After it was all over standing on the South Rim once again in the darkness.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cyclocross recap and then some...

Unfortunately, the cross season is now officially over here in these parts, but in many other areas, it will continue on for the next month and for those fortunate to be going on to the world championships, it may go on through January. Whew... That would be a looooong cross season!

For me, mentally, I am still very much into getting out there on the bike. And physically, I think my body has needed it. Troughout the past year of running running running and running more than I had in possibly my entire life combined up through last year, I reached a few noteworthy accomplishments:

1. I ran my first trail marathon (Grand Teton Marathon, 9/3/06)
2. I ran my first ultramarathon (Goblin Valley 50k, 10/28/06)
3. I ran my first "unofficial" 50 miler (a "fun run" across the Grand Canyon and back also known as the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, 11/25/06)
4. I traveled to Costa Rica to compete in a 135 mile six-day expedition run (The Coastal Challenge, 2/4-9, 07). *This also marked the first time I had ever been out of the country, other than Canada.
5. I ran my first "official" 50 miler (Devil's Backbone, 7/14/07)
6. I developed my first case of tendonitis in both knees immediately following that race
7. I suffered through the most painful last 25 miles of my second 50 miler still suffering from tendonitis in both knees (Grand Teton 50 miler, 9/1/07) *This also made me realize the amazing benefits of two Tylenol.
8. I realized how wonderful it is to have wheels on the downhills when I started riding my mtn bike in place of running. Ya know, cause I couldn't run at all without my kneecaps feeling like they wanted to explode out of my skin.
9. I realized my hamstrings had, in the past year, shriveled to the size of a julienne cut sun-dried tomato as a result of all the running. (runners are known for having weak hammies. Cyclists, on the other hand use their hammies as a major part of the pedalling motion and thus have well-developed hammies. Good eat'in!)
And 10. I guess now I'm so prepared for both activities that along with the cycling I've been doing so much of, I again have the opportunity to run the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim again next weekend. I am really looking forward to this. Hopefully the tendonitis is gone and this time, I'll probably have an extra pound of hamstrings hanging off the back of my thighs to haul around. Cross-training can't hurt, right?

But getting back to this past week's recap... ; )

Here are a couple pictures taken by a photographer at the last cross race on 11/10/07.

The spur-of-the-moment, but obligatory podium photo (in no particular order)

After the race, I drove north to Ashton, ID to get some additional riding in due to the forecast of an oncoming storm that promised rain, sleet, snow, and other foul-nasty-vicious weather with big-sharp-pointy teeth. I'd never ridden the Mesa Falls scenic byway, so that seemed like a good option. I was still in my pretty cycling outfit so once I arrived at the Ashton High School, all I had to do was swap the knobby cross wheels with my road wheels and I was off. From here, the byway headed east, then north, then west for 26 miles until it meets up with Hwy 20 at Island Park, north of Ashton and south of West Yellowstone, MT. It truly is a scenic route and although I was tired from the morning's cross race, I made sure to take my time along the route and enjoy myself and the area I was riding through.

On this map, I began the ride at point #1 on the left hand side and followed the yellow brick road to the right side of the map ending at point #10

Lower Mesa Falls

Upper Mesa Falls (This photo was taken in August and is the only photo I have of the Upper Falls so I am including it here. I didn't make it to the Upper Falls on my ride because the only way to get to it is by walking down a 1/4 mile path with many sections of stairs. Not fun in bike shoes.)

These two photos show the interpretive sign at the north end of the Mesa Falls Scenic Byway. It's fascinating to see the progression of how Yellowstone was formed. This region has an unfathomable amount of geologic history. And it's still continuing to grow!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Where I really come from... Portland, OR

I figured I better put up some photos of Portland and the surrounding area. After all, I spent the first 22+ years of my life there so it is the city from where I more properly come from. I may have lived near the Teton Mtns for the past seven years, but Portland will always be "home".
My barn. Those who know, know. Those who don't, well... This is my barn.
(If you're ever driving south from Madras , it's on the right)
The Portland waterfront on a typical drizzly September evening.

Salmon Street Springs

Downtown Portland from the summit of Mt. Tabor Butte. (This was always one of my favorite places to run)

Belle the spastic, neurotic, zippy beagle. 1994-2007

The Cube - Rexburg, ID Cyclocross Race #3

Smiles all around for this group of crossers!

Week three. Same time. Same place. And this was the biggie. The final race of the series and the air was electric. Throngs of spectators and curious passersby were out in droves lining the course three to four deep in places creating a buzzing atmosphere this little prarie town had rarely seen. Soon, the group of racers rolled up to the start smiling and casually chatting with each other, laughing, cracking jokes, a stark contrast to what would soon unfold once the battle commenced. The countdown neared. The chatting quickly faded and gave way to a nervous energy. Patiently, the group waited. Muscles twitching. Heartbeats increasing. Waiting to be suddenly popped to work at near maximum effort. And then... Finally... The HOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRNNNN!!! And we were off!

Nearing the end of the first lap, preparing to take off running over the course's final barrier.

Typical cyclocross pose. Big ring, out of the saddle, accelerating out of a corner after a barrier. I love cross!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

The Cube - Rexburg, ID Cyclocross Race #2

Round Two... One week later. Same time... Same place. Different course, however, and one that many agreed was better than the week before. It was roughly the same length, but each lap had two alternating pavement and grass sections and the grass sections each had two barriers. I thought this week's course had a better rhythm, more tight corners that required short bursts of acceleration, and I enjoyed having two grass sections per lap with the two sets of double barriers more spaced out.

The turnout was about the same as the week before although some of the riders from last week weren't racing and there were a few new faces in the crowd. I think all of new participants had never done a cyclocross race before but it looked as though they were at least somewhat avid cyclists. I was hoping for more seasoned competition, but even so, it was great to see them being introduced to the sport. I hope they had a good time out there.

As a side-note, this was the second week in a row that I had shifting troubles. Last week, after warming up for a half-hour prior to the start without any indication of a problem, suddenly, and very surprisingly, my rear shifter seemed to sieze and cease working from the moment I tired to shift into a bigger gear at the start. I rode the rest of the race being able to shift into smaller gears without a problem, but having to practically use two hands to upshift. Grrrrrrrrr! &%#@! So this past week, as I searched for the culprit of the problem, I found that the portion of my rear derailleur that brings the cable housing into the rear derailleur had broken. Ah-Ha! The cable was still attached of course, but it wasn't a secure connection. So I did what any "true" cyclocrosser would do... I cannibalized my mtn bike and took the XTR derailleur off it and put it on The Major. Hee hee! Problem solved, right? Nope. Again, before the start of the second week's race, I still was having shifting troubles and it clearly had nothing to do with the rear derailleur. Well, here's what I think: Both weekends have been cold. As in below freezing cold. Both week's courses were routed over sections of boggy, freshly mowed, watered, then frosted grass and I think my rear shift cable is getting frozen after making a few passes. What to do, what to do... I don't know, but I'll keep thinking about it and hopefully I can come up with a fix cause it's not getting any warmer, next week's course will most likely hold more of the same conditions, and not having gears when you really want gears is more than just kindof a bummer.

Another first place. Another black metal cube. Another bag o po-ta-tos. The Major looks even cleaner than last week!

After the race, I took the road bike out and rode up to Grand Targhee. Where's the snow?! Doesn't the season start in 2-3 weeks?!

Ski Hill Rd in the off-season makes for a great place to take any kind of wheels. Its mellow grade, gentle winding curves, and almost non-existent vehicular traffic (due to its out-and-back nature ending at a closed ski resort) makes it a great place to take a motorcycle, bicycle, longboard, or pair of roller-skis. Each of the two past Saturdays I have ridden up here, I have seen 10-20 other people up here all doing one of these activities.

The sunset took on bit of a sinister appearance on my way home.

Sunset over Red Mtn, one of the many 8,000ft+ peaks in the Big Hole Mtn range.

The stable. Everyone's been getting some action lately! I found it amusing to see all four bikes lined up just inside my front door. Isn't this what garages are for? Someday...