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

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Grand Canyon - Rim to Rim to Rim

"Arrrrrrrrghh... It's getting more difficult to reach down and pick stuff up, isn't it?", I said with a smile as I shuffled slowly by the fellow runner beside me gingerly reaching down to pick up an empty gel wrapper that had fallen onto the trail.

"Yeah, this is where the fun begins", he replied. (Or something like that, I can't remember exactly.)

We had just stopped to refuel at the mile 19 aid station, just over halfway through the 34 mile course at the Peterson Ridge Rumble. At 2 hours, 37 minutes, I was less than an hour out from my longest run since the Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass back in January and I was already feeling the 19 mile pounding in my quads even though I had been focusing on running lightly in the typical ultra-runner shuffle since waking up that morning. I could see the same effects on many other runners around me as well. Everyone was moving along well, but not quite as daisy-fresh as a couple hours earlier.

We ran on down the trail side by side for a few minutes until we realized we were on the same pace and were running comfortably together so after a few more minutes, a light conversation started up. You know, the usual... "Have you done this race before?" "Do you live around here?" "How long have you been doing ultras?" "What other events have you done?" "What is the flight ratio of a coconut-laden swallow?" And on and on... Until my new running partner mentioned doing the Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim. And my ears immediately perked up. "Eh? Really?! Wow. Me too!" "Really? Well I'm going down to run it again in three weeks if you want to go." "No way! Wow, that's tempting..." And on down the trail we continued together, passing the miles under our dusty shuffling feet whilst bantering about... whatever. Life. All good things. The positive energy circle.

I finally decided to introduce myself after more than just a few miles. (You know, guys don't really bother with names right off the bat, right?)

"I'm Trevor, by the way", I said, turning to properly meet my new friend.

"No S$#@!", came the response.

Which surprised me. I was, at first, a bit stunned by this because normally, this is not the reaction I get when meeting someone new. But thankfully, he continued, and I quickly understood his reply.

"I'm Trevor too", he said.

We both turned to look at each other like we were looking into a mirror. Sizing each other up, perhaps. I wondered if what I saw looking at him is what he saw looking at me. Was he thinking the same thing? Do I see him looking at me looking at him? Does he see me looking at him looking at me? What?

"Wow, that's pretty wierd", I said mundanely, not even coming close to actually expressing how entirely surprised I was by the fact that, first of all, of all the races I have done, I have never ended up running with anyone for more than a mile, and now, here's this guy who not only shares the same pace as I and has been running with me for like 3 miles already, but we have the same name as well. And I've only met maybe two or three Trevors in my entire life.

It was around that point that I think we both silently made the loose assuption that we would be running this thing in to the finish together. The company would be nice. And that's exactly what we did. Our pace slowed down gradually over those last long 10 miles and we got passed by 10 or so runners over that stretch, but I didn't mind so much. We were still shuffling along at a sub-10 minute mile pace and I thought that was pretty darned good given my lack of proper trail-running training leading up to that day. We ended up crossing the finish line together in 5 hours, 5 minutes, and change. (I was hoping to break 5 hours, but oh well. I was still quite pleased with how my body held up and that was the most important thing to me. The worst thing was the instant hamstring cramp in my left leg when I hopped over a fallen log on the trail at mile 30-ish, but I was able to quickly stretch it out and keep running. The tendonitis in my knees that has hampered me since last July was nowhere to be seen. Giddyup!)

Coming in to the Mile 19 Aid Station with Trevor showdowing me silently behind. At this point, I had no idea he was even there.

My parents snapped this photo of Buddy and I when I did a quick deep knee bend and Buddy hopped over to say hi. Good boy.

Trevor and I shuffling into the final stretch

Because the course was shortened by four miles this year due to deep snow on the upper section, the course designer(s) decided to eek out as much mileage as possible by routing us around three-quaters of the track. Evil. The hurdles were there for any clown who considered giving the spectators entertainment was more important than their individual health and safety. From what I heard, only one brave soul made a successful attempt at them, much to everyone's pleasure.

Which brings me back to the topic of today's post.

On Thursday night, I'll be blasting off southward again in the slippery little Saturn eco-rocket on my way down to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I'll hopefully make it past SLC Thursday night, stop to sleep, make it the rest of the way on Friday, meet up with Trevor and his friend Nelson that evening at the South Rim, camp out, then embark on our 48 mile journey at 6am on Saturday. The goal is a mellow 12 hours. (Well, as mellow as 12 hours across the Grand Canyon and back can be...) Sun-up is approx 5:30. Sun-down approx 7:15. Starting and finishing in daylight will be a first! (There's quite a bit more daylight in May compared to November)

We'll be descending via the Kaibab trail this time instead of the Bright Angel trail which I have done the two previous times I've run across the G.C. Both trails end up at the river crossing at the bottom at the same place. The Kaibab trail is a bit shorter, but a bit steeper. And the lost mileage is made up on the way back by ascending the Bright Angel trail and having an extra couple miles on the road to get back to the car.

I still have not done a whole lot of running since the Rumble on 4/13. But here's a sample of what I've been up to in the meantime:

I rode up to Jackson Lake and back on Sunday, 4/20, for a five hour ride in 28 degree temps and 30 mph winds with occasional snow flurries. The lake is still not even close to thawing.

The wind was blowing snow across the road with such force that it created a small ground blizzard. I was coated in a frosty layer more and more as I continued to ride back to town.

This is what our local trails look like as of last Friday, 4/25.

I did another five hour ride in Grand Teton National Park this past Sunday, this time in much better conditions. I met up with some friends to enjoy the last Sunday of vehicle-free park road enjoyment along with 1,000 other people. I've never seen it so crowded and I've never seen so much snow up there at the end of April!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Big Horn 100

It's now been almost three years since my ultramarathon dreams were born into my conscious mind, and not quite two years since running my first ultra-distance trail run. After going back and forth during much of that time about whether to go for the "big one", I have finally made a decision...

Big Horn 100

I believe all my previous years of athletic experience will combine to give me the ability to accomplish this yet unproven task. And although I have chosen a race that is widely regarded as one of the more difficult 100 mile courses out there, I feel like I owe it to myself to go for this one mainly for the sentimental value it holds being held just a few hours from where I currently live and, being held in a rugged, beautifully scenic part of Wyoming, I will get to experience this yet unexplored part of the state that I've been meaning to visit ever since I moved out here seven years ago. Also, I'll be turning 30 in early June, and seeing my ambition blossom this past spring has led me to this point. The point where I feel healthy. Happy. Very motivated. And ready to do it now because I'm afraid if I don't do it now, I may never do it at all.

More details to follow...

Friday, April 25, 2008

Last Week's Recap

I've not been keeping up with my current events here lately and I apologize.

"Naughty Bunny! No carrot for you!"

I know, I know...

But here's a quick rundown:

After the whirlwind trip to Bend, OR over the weekend of April 12th/13th, I returned to the polar Teton Valley where we've been stuck in winter since November. (It's snowing right now in fact. We still have only seen maybe two days above 50 so far this year? And it continues to snow...) The next few days were recovery days for me and my bewildered legs who were still reeling from the sudden 34 miles I put them through on Sunday. By Thursday, I was feeling up for a light bike ride, so I rode up and over Pine Creek Pass on the road bike to get my body's systems working again. It was a nice, mellow ride with two gentle climbs, one on the way out, and one on the way back. I was out riding for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Perfect.

Friday after work, I blasted out of the frozen tundra on my way to Missoula for the GrizzlyMan Adventure Race on Saturday. I didn't really know what to expect having never done an adventure race before, but I knew this was the inaugural event and I became acutely aware of more than a few organizational hiccups as the morning went on and racetime drew nearer. You can read a full report of the race from my teammate's perspective here. (I know, I'm taking the cheap and easy road on this one, but I'm trying to make this post short and quick and Ali did such a good job reporting on our race, that I'm simply going to redirect you to her. Thanks Ali! Hope you don't mind!)

In short, I'm happy with how we worked and we absolutely blitzed the course. We were one of the top teams to finish. But how heartbreaking and disappointing it was to discover we had an incorrect checkpoint on our orienteering section of the course which threw us waaaaaaaaaaay down in the standings. 'sigh...' Oh well. I know what to do better next time.

I returned to the Arctic Teton region on Saturday night after seeing the weather deteriorate that afternoon in Missoula. I didn't feel like sticking around and having a treacherous, snowy drive home on Sunday. So instead, I did what any person with common sense would do when a snowstorm blows into the area in mid-April... I went for a five hour bike ride. And I'm going to forego the details on this one. Let's just say the first 2 hours went pretty well. And the next three? Well, if 25 degrees and a 30mph+ headwind with blowing, drifting snow sounds like a good time, I can assure you, it's not. I don't know the last time I've been that miserable. Probably last summer...

So this week, I began by recovering from the ride through frozen hell. Didn't do much on Monday. On Tuesday, I drove over to Jackson for the group ride that meets at the high school every week at 6pm. Three of us showed up. And it was a beautiful evening! I didn't even wear my booties, balaclava, thick gloves, or windproof tights! The first time this season! So that was nice getting out there with Dale and Dan. On Wednesday, the weather was crap again so into the gym at lunch I went. On Thursday, more wind and snow and another rushed lunchtime gym workout. I've been visiting the local gym on my lunch hour to get a light workout in while it continues to be winter. Which brings us to today, Friday. And more wind. More snow. More winter. Seeing the pattern yet?

I drove out to Horseshoe Canyon to do a little recon and check out the trails out there to see if anything was clear yet and sadly, they're not. Not even close, really. Snowfields three to four feet deep in places and hundreds of yards across. Maybe by June? 'shaking head in dismay' I ran hill repeats on one of the only clear sections of trail I could find, but even then, the ground was a consistency of spongy mud and was covered in a light layer of slick snow. After an hour and a half, I packed it in. Tomorrow? I'm moving to Hawaii.

Boston Marathon 2008

Well they finally did it!

More than 10 years after beginning their marathon odessey in Portland, my parents have completed most any runner's dream: to run in Boston on Patriot Day. After qualifying at last year's inaugural Eugene Marathon in Eugene, OR, they both were accepted into this year's 112th running of the Boston Marathon and were finally able to turn the dream into reality. Needless to say, I am very proud of both of them!

Not that they were out to run a PR or anything (they ran a comfortable pace, taking in the sights, taking pictures, listening to and enjoying the throngs of screaming fans lining the streets four and five deep), but just in case you're interested, their full race splits and finish times can be found here. Mom? Dad? Have you seen these? ; )

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Peterson Ridge Rumble - Bend, OR - April 13th, 2008

What a perfect day. Perfect weather. Perfect location. Perfect company. Perfect health. Perfect. I will be posting a report a bit later, but here are the photos I took throughout the race (as well as this one from the Bend Bulletin) to enjoy in the meantime. (Mary Beth, I thought of you while I was taking these photos. I hope you enjoy them and I hope you get a chance to visit Bend sometime soon. It's beautiful and it smells good!)

More Bunny Sightings Emerge

In this weeks issue of the Jackson Hole News & Guide:

I guess that's what I get for my unabashed antics as a giant rabbit.

After spending the day bunnying it up on the last day of the season at Jackson Hole with Captain Ron (see video), we finally were forced down off the high slopes of the mountain after catching the sixth-to-last chair on the Sublette lift. The last run was fairly uneventful, but the anticipation began to build as we blindly skidded our bunnyselves down towards the ever-growing, always entertaining, snowball throwing, extremely loud, wild, and crazy gathering of end-of-season celebrators out on the expanse of snow in front of what is to be the new tram building. A group had built up this kicker for anyone to take as they came down into the base area party. I don't think anyone expected a giant rabbit to launch it. I even landed cleanly. How? I don't know considering I could barely see out the thing.

That was fun, but after the party out on the snow began to wane, it was even better to walk into the Four Seasons lounge with some friends wearing the bunny suit. I can definitely say it was a first for me; In the Four Seasons, eating ahi tuna and gnocchi, dressed as a bunny. Yep. And being the ever-accomodating hosts that Four Seasons employees are so well known for, they let our group go about our business just as if there not a giant varmint seated at the table. Sweet.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Off to Sunny Bend, Oregon

It's finally time. I can't take it anymore. The cold is driving me away to the lovely, warm, juniper-and-sage-fresh Central Oregon for the opportunity to run on dirt! Hey! Dirt! I love you dirt! I... missed you... diiiiiiirrrrt. Mmmmmmmmm... I can imagine it already.

On Sunday, I will be running the Peterson Ridge Rumble, a 60k trail run in the mountains just outside Sisters, OR. Am I ready? Am I properly trained? Will my body hold up to 38 miles of trail running? Does a radio-active cat have 18 half-lives? The answer is, 'I don't know', but I'm cautiously optimistic. Frankly, I expect to be so thrilled to be running on those soft, pine-needle covered trails that I'll hopefully forget about any sort of discomfort and distress and skip and laugh my way down the trail portraying a certain level of psychosis that would most likely give the average trail-goer cause for concern, except on this day, I will be surrounded by the same kinds of people who think running 38 miles through the mountains is the best way to spend a Sunday. Can't wait to see everybody out there! I'll be the one with a goofy grin smeared across my face! Let's go!

Pole Pedal Paddle Pics

Photos courtesy of Ron Davison

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Last Day of the season at Jackson Hole - 2008

An example of what went down on Sunday at the Vill...

Monday, April 7, 2008

Pole Pedal Paddle - Jackson, WY - 4-5-08

"Number 127! Fifteen seconds!"

I looked blankly into the swirling snow ahead of me and tried to make out the first gate. I could barely see the top of it as the terrain dropped away below me. It was maybe 20 degrees and I had already been standing around at 9,000 ft for half an hour wearing a minimal amount of tight-fitting race clothing. Race? What race? I just want to get moving and get down. I wasn't really thinking about anything else. Not the race. Not the course. Not the cold. Not the fact that I was about to launch into a non-stop, frantic, four-sport, three hour journey through Jackson Hole. Not the 26 racers that had disappeared down the mountain before me 30 seconds apart. Not the 20 racers behind me waiting their turn. Not the fact that I was about to send myself rocketing down the mountain into a swirling white abyss.

"Ten seconds!"

It was one of those moments when all my pre-race details and mental preparedness had scurried off into the warmer, more protected regions of my brain. Oh well... It's too late to think anyway. I'm better off without those wimpy little thoughts anyway. I operate better on instinct. 'Man, I wish it were more like yesterday afternoon when I pre-ran the course in above freezing temps and under sunny skies.' Guess it doesn't matter now. 'Wait, what am I doing here again?!'

"Five! Four! Three! Two! One! GO!"

And I was finally off. Whereas the day before I could follow the arcing ski tracks around every turn, I immediately could tell this run would be completely different with a thick, heavy snow covering up each track behind every racer. This was going to require me to pay attention.

The forecast for Saturday morning wasn't very promising when I went to bed the night before. 4-8" of snow was predicted on the upper mountain with flurries and gusty winds down on the valley floor. Sure enough, on my way to Teton Village that morning, the highway shoulders (where we all would be racing our bikes in three hours) were coated in ice, snow, and frozen slush and in many places, the gusty west wind had blown thin drifts out towards the center of the road surface. Is this for real?! Is this really April?! Are we seriously going to racing on this icy road surface into a severe cross-wind with skinny tires and aero-bars while traffic zooms past at 45 mph?! Yeah, actually we are you whiny little baby monkey. I tried to think that during the next three hours during the time it would take me to get to the bike leg, the sun would come out and melt it off a bit. It only got cloudier and began snowing more.

The downhill course was a blast. I know I missed at least two gates because I didn't read the course properly and took a line around the wrong side of the gate. Apparently, I wasn't the only one however, because after the race, I heard other people saying they had the same problem. I don't think any penalties were assessed. I just tried to play it relatively safe and get down safely and securely knowing the most time I would likely lose on this leg would be around 30 seconds to the fastest one down. In this case, it was Crystal Wright taking the top honor in 3:04.7. I finished the leg in 32nd place in 3:51.5. Perfect. Right where I thought I'd be. On to the nordic track!

After quickly popping off my skis, prying off my boots, and stripping off a few layers of clothing, I was off and running on the 1/4 jaunt across the parking lot. A few minutes later and I was gliding off on skinny skis and WOAH!!! How come I just got passed by like 6 or 7 guys?! These guys are FLYING! I can't do that. I just learned how to skate ski this past winter and although I have improved tremendously since my humble introduction on Thanksgiving Day, I am now aware of just how much MORE improvement is possible. The nordic leg was around 10-12 kilometers and the hills were BRU-TAL! UGH! The fastest finisher for this leg came in at 23:43.4. I finished this leg in 58th place in 35:16.8. I knew that every guy who passed me on the nordic leg began the race behind me and now they were going to be heading off on the bike leg with a solid multi-minute advantage. I also knew that the bike leg would be my secret weapon for this event and I hoped I would be able to make up the difference and then some. By the end of the nordic leg, I was feeling pretty winded and I wasn't looking forward to the frozen hell I was about to encounter.

I got to my bike, changed out of the nordic boots, into my Sidi's, forgoed putting on booties, warmer tights, warmer gloves, or a balaclava in favor of saving precious time and figuring that riding a 19 mile time-trial at near maximum effort in 30 degree temps would keep me warm enough. I was pretty close to being right.

The road shoulder was covered in ice. The cross-wind was so strong, it was blowing snow off the shoulder and over the road. The only portion of road surface that was melted happened to be out in the lane where the vehicles were driving. And then we turned west straight into the icy, cutting gale. The ice-water that was spraying up from my wheels was freezing on every surface of my bike. My shoes were coated in dirty ice. My head was cold. I'm used to riding in this kind of cold, but I usually wear more clothes. After five minutes, I had caught and passed two guys. ten minutes later, I had caught and passed three more. A few minutes later, I caught a couple more. They were the carrots dangling out in front of me and I wanted more. I was hungry. I pushed harder, ignoring the ice buildup occuring on my drivetrain. I knew my gears were in danger of freezing, but I only hoped they would continue functioning for just twenty more minutes. I felt surprisingly good on the bike especially given the conditions and although it definitely was painful (as time-trials are supposed to be), I felt good about the ride. The fastest time of the day was a scorching 41:12.0. I finished 4th with a leg time of 47:53.6 while making up almost every second I had lost to the faster skiers on the prior two legs.

And this is where my "race" ended. When I began the boat leg, my combined time had me in second place in the individual racing class, 40 seconds out of first. And then I got in the boat (my second time ever in a kayak on a river) and began my agonizingly painfully slow voyage down the river with siezing glutes and hamstrings and numb noodle arms in my rented Tsunami 140 river kayak and got passed one after another by the super-experienced boating guys behind me in their carbon/kevlar downriver racing kayaks. The fastest boater finished the final leg in 59:33.3. I finished 70th in 1:23:13.8. I did stay warm enough although I'm not sure how because halfway through the boat leg I looked down and noticed the ice coating my spray skirt and paddle jacket.

(I should clarify that most of the people who finished ahead of me in each leg were members of a team who were each only doing one or maybe two legs. There were 18 competitors in the Men's Racing Individual category and out of that group, I ended up in 12th overall.)

The highlight of the kayaking section was not flipping into the river! And also, about two-thirds of the way down where an enormous bald eagle was screeching while perched high up on a dead tree branch just above the left side of the river. (unfortunately, I did see a few guys who had tipped their racing kayaks over into the river. The first guy I saw only made it about 200 yards down river before he got dunked. Another guy flipped over just after crossing under the finish line bridge while trying to move over to the shore.)

So I guess I need to work on my kayaking and find myself one o them thar carbon/kevlar 20 lb boats to go float in. It was a very fun event though. And even though I got smoked in the kayak leg (just like I thought I would), the point was to just go out and have fun with it and, you know, I gotta be honest, being out on the river feels good for my soul. If I had time, space, and money to get into another hobby, I would buy a boat. I'll have to work on that. Well anyway, I love multi-stage, multi-sport events and this is definitely a great one. But maybe I could do without the sub-freezing temps and icy roads.

You can find the full results here

I will be posting some photos of the race tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What gear?

I decided to gather up most of the gear I would be using for the Pole Pedal Paddle for a family portrait and this was the result. The notable relatives that were not able to make it were Mr. Fullfacehelmet (mandatory for the downhill), Colonel Kayak, and Professor Paddle, all of which I will pick up tomorrow. Presumably, at some point on Saturday morning, one of these items will murder the other and it will be up to the rest to figure out what happened... Dr. Goggle, on the nordic track, with the bike pump.

Ok, moving along...

This year's event poses a bit more logistics due to wintry weather (high of 36 with snow flurries)compared to the past few years, so here's what I've come up with:

I'll be starting the downhill wearing three long-sleeve layers on top: a light wool shirt, my long sleeve team bike jersey, then a medium-weight wool jersey. I will have a team wind vest over the top of all that to keep the wind off my core at 40mph. I will also start the race wearing my bike shorts with leg warmers underneath my windproof tights. The goal here is to remain warm enough at the top of the downhill, but yet not have a gazillion clothes to remove for the nordic leg which requires much less clothing.

When I finish the downhill, the helmet will come off along with the vest, the outer wool jersey, and the windproof tights. I'll change into a pair of running shoes, run the 1/4 mile to the nordic track, change back into ski boots, then hop onto the skinny skis for a 10-12k skate. Then comes the bike. Clothing, hopefully will remain the same for the 19 mile bike south through Jackson to the boat launch. I should be able to post relatively competitive times up until this point. And then... the boat. Approx 8 miles south on the Snake River will take the fastest boaters between 50-55 minutes. It will most likely take me well over an hour. Ho-Hum... just floating along with priority #1 being DON'T FLIP INTO THE 33 DEGREE RIVER SMART GUY!

The whole thing should take about 2 1/2 hours.

Sunday is the last day of the season at Jackson Hole Mtn Resort so I will be partaking of the festivities of "Gaper Day" as evidenced above. There's nothin like ridin down the mountain in a bunny suit.

Stay tuned for a full weekend report in a few days.

Have a great weekend! See you next week!