Saturday, December 27, 2008


Well, after taking the week off from running after CIM to get phat, I eased back into the next week with some easy running. With all of the snow we have in Sisters, Sascha was wishing for longer days, but she took what she got. We just ran 4 or 5 days of about an hour, just kinda jogging and playing...enjoying the winter and not worrying about distance.

Then last Sunday, I decided we needed a bigger challenge. So I got Bronco, Nessski, and Askew to join me on a Black Crater adventure. We would park at the gate on the McKenzie Highway, xc ski 3.5 miles up the road to the BC trailhead, snowshoe 4 miles up BC, then snowshoe the 4 miles back down to the trailhead, and ski 3.5 miles back to the car. Nessski and I have wanted to do this for a few years, and now we were finally planning to do it. But then the weather forecast kept Nessski in Portland. Then the actual weather kept the rest of us from the adventure. Dang.

The contingency plan had Bronco, Sascha, and me running in the Badlands with Max. Max is strong. And fast. And tough. We ended up having a great 3ish hour run in the not-quite-as-deep snow in the Badlands. Max and Bronco were nice to wait for me. And Sascha kicked some royal butt, keeping right up until only a mile or so to go. It was a fun day out east, and it gave Bronco and me a chance to check out the BadAss course (Saturday, Jan. 3 - come join the fun!). It's looking good!

The rest of this week I have run exactly zero miles. ZERO. Hm. Christmas Camp started on Christmas Day and I'm supposed to run 100 miles in the week from Christmas through New Year's Eve. Two days into it, I'm already way behind in the mileage category. But I am above average the strength part - 50 daily pushups and 50 daily situps (full situps, no crunchers here). Looks like I've got some miles to put in the next 5 days. I was planning to run a good amount while in Spokane for Christmas, but seriously, there are 3 feet of snow in my parent's back yard. The amount of snow here is insane. A record for the month of December, even. Sascha loves playing in it with my sister's dog and parent's dogs!

In addition to wondering how I'm going to get in my Camp mileage, I'm also considering what my 100th ultra will be. I'm currently at 96, so 100 is coming right up. Hagg is a good possibility, and it's always a blast going there. Central Oregon always sends a big crew and we party it up at the Grand Lodge in Forest Grove after playing in the mud all day. So #100 there could be pretty cool. Another possibility is Run to the Sun. Gina and I are going to Hawaii in March and I'm going to run that. How cool would it be to finish #100 on top of a really big volcano? In Hawaii? Any other possible suggestions??

Sascha and I hope ya'll had a Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008 at CIM!

I had pretty high expectations for myself heading into the California International Marathon (CIM). Having missed my sub-2:40 goal at Boston by a lot, Scott Wolfe suggested I go for it in December at CIM. So after many months of training and racing, I decided to take his advice. And after surprising myself with a 2:42:30 p.r. at the Spokane Marathon in October, I decided to up the ante for myself a bit at CIM. Sub-2:40 was the primary goal, with 2:37 being the ultimate goal. Twenty six point two consecutive 6-minute miles sounded daunting, but I knew I was fit and ready for it.

I travelled down to Sacramento with three buddies also hoping to run fast: Darin, in his sub-3/p.r. quest; Glenn, in his sub-3 quest; and Jeff, in his 2:35/p.r. quest. It was a fun boys road trip with these guys.

On race morning, Darin and I opted for the early bus, while Jeff and Glenn decided to sleep in a bit and take a later bus. We got to the start just after 6 a.m., which was perfect for me with the 7 a.m. start. I like to take my time and not be rushed on race morning, especially when going for a p.r. I jogged a nice 3 mile warm-up, mostly in the dark, and saw a few of the local ultrarunners also warming up (Mark Lantz, Erik Skaden, etc).

I finally took off my sweats, put on my racing shirt, decided against the sleeves but to keep my gloves, hat, and bottle, and made my way to the starting line with about 7 minutes to go. Well, at least I tried to. I weaseled my way up as far as I could when I ran into a wall right next to Tim Tweitmeyer and his 3:35 pace group sign. Sigh...what could I do but just stand there and wait. So I did.

The gun shot and we just stood there. Then we moved very, very slowly and I eventually walked across the starting line 49 seconds after the start. I then jogged slowly for a half mile until I could kinda pseudo-run, weave, and make my way through the masses. I missed the first mile, but passed mile 2 in 13:15, and 3 in barely sub-20. Hm, not to good to average almost 6:40/mile for the first 3 miles when I'm trying to average 6 for the whole race. I continued to not panic and weave through more than a thousand people (probably closer to 2,000) before I was able to get in my groove and really run somewhere around mile 5. I had definitely been running 6-minute effort, but the clock showed 32:something.

I didn't feel great, like I was flying, nor did I feel bad, like I was struggling. I just felt I was out for a good run. And I continued to fly by the masses. I saw friends Mark, Devon, Casey, David, John, and others. Some asked what I was doing back there (as they knew my goals), while others just told me I looked strong. I felt super comfortable and was glad I had carried my bottle. I noticed the aid stations were handing out fluids in plastic cups...huh!? That's horrible! If you try to squeeze the cups, they break, then when you drop them, the broken parts are very pokey and the cups themselves are super slippery. Not good thinking on your part, CIM aid station organizer person.

I kept running along at a good clip, pretty much right at 6s now. I passed 10 in 1:02 and 13.1 in 1:20:31. Although I knew my chip time was 49 seconds faster than those times, I really wanted to see the time when I finished as 2:3something and I knew I would be close. Going through 20 in 2:02 made me happy, as my last 10 were right at 6-minute pace.

I still felt good as I continued flying by every runner in site (although, admittedly, there weren't nearly as many in site as in the first 1/2). Around 23, I finally decided to take one last gu, ditch my bottle (I had refilled once between 14-15), and then I came up on Tyson Sacco, one of the Fluffy Bunnies I met during TransRockies. I think this was his first marathon, and although he was going to finish in a great time, he wasn't having too much fun at this point. I tried to get him to join me, but there was no answer. So I just kept picking off a few more people.

A little after passing Tyson, I noticed that I was now in the grid of Sacramento. I was at 30th street and I knew I needed to get to 8th. Dang, that sucked (but at least I didn't start noticing at 50th). Each block seemed super long to me and although I tried to wait as long as I could before looking at the street number, it seems I wasn't very patient as I was looking every block or two. Crap.

Of course, this is where I was starting to hurt, too. My solid 5:55s - 6:05s were getting into the 6:15s now. I passed 25 in 2:32...I needed to run sub-8 for the last 1.2. I knew I could do it and although I wasn't running really fast anymore, I was laying it all out there. A half mile to go, I heard one of the Sisters XC mom's, Cindy Glick, cheering for me. That really helped. She was there cheering for her son Casey, who rocked to a 2:51 p.r.!

Finally I turned the last corner and saw 2:39:40...I knew I could get there in less than 20 seconds and I was happy. I even smiled and gave a little fist-in-the-air just before I finished with a gun time of 2:39:55. Chip time 2:39:06. Cool. Very cool.

As I wobbled to get my chip clipped off, I saw Jeff waiting for me and smiling. He was happy because he had run a 2:36 p.r. and he was happy for me. He then gave me the best compliment of the day, saying "After running 2:39, you're fast - you're not an ultrarunner're a marathoner". He claimed he was even looking over his shoulder the last few miles, expecting me to catch him. Maybe in Eugene, buddy.

Then the highlight of the day came. Seriously, it got better. I was standing at the finish, shivering under my space blanket, chatting with Jeff, Mark, and Rob when I heard a "great job" from across the baracades. I didn't recognize the voice at all but looked over anyway just in time to see a marathoner dude get a kiss from Deena. Obviously it was Deena's husband, Andrew, and he had just run a great 2:51. I had to, had to, meet her. So I walked up, said "Hi, I'm Sean Meissner, I'm a huge fan, and I'd love to meet you" and I stuck out my snotty glove to shake her hand. Deena very graciously shook my hand, asked how my race was, and gave me a sincere congratulations. Thanks, Deena - that was awesome!

As in Spokane, I once again wore my END Footwear YMMV shoes (it stands for Your Mileage May Vary). And once again, they completely rocked! I just love how light, cushy, and responsive they are. Many cushy shoes aren't responsive, but these are very responsive. The soft upper is so nice and accomodating, too. Watch out for these puppies soon - I think they're a Spring '09 shoe.

So, yes, I'm very happy with my race. Was it perfect? Nope. The next time I want to run fast at CIM, I'll definitely make sure I get to the starting line early enough so I'm actually on the line. I figure that between all of the walking, jogging, and weaving, I easily lost 2 minutes, which was my 2:37. That's the way it goes and it makes my next marathon goal of 2:37 at Eugene seem a bit more manageable.

Thanks again to Jeff, Darin, and Glenn. The road trip was quick, fast, and fun!

Full results.
Pretty pictures of me (bib 3747).

Sunday, December 7, 2008


is what I ran at CIM today. I'm happy. Very happy.

Now I'm going to eat cheese fries, which will make me very happier.

Report to follow when I get home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Fall Runnin'

Fall is easily my favorite time of year to run. The leaves are changing color, the mornings and evenings are cool, midday is still warm, there's a bit of snow in the mountains, the trails are less crowded, Sascha can go further and faster because of the lower's just very pleasant. After being out of town the previous 9 weekends (!!), I was really looking forward to hanging out in central Oregon and enjoying some nice fall running here in this beautiful area.

First, congratulations to Nessski for kicking butt at only his 2nd 50k (he ran well at his first one, too). At the Autumn Leaves 50k, he smoked a 3:40:14! The little bastard beat my time from there 2 years ago by 4 seconds. Attaboy, Ryan!

Last Sunday, I organized the 3 Butte Butt Buster Fun Run at Fleet Feet. I had wanted to make a big loop and run the 3 main buttes in Bend for quite a while. So I figured it was time to stop thinking about it and just do it. I sent out the invite to the FF e-group and was stoked with the 23 runner turnout. The 65 degree weather definitely helped out. We ran up Overturf, then across town to Pilot, then back across town for the big finale - Awbrey. In all, we ran 13.8 miles, gained 1,609' and descended that much, too. Definitely one of the tougher road 1/2 marathons out there! Here's the cool route:

Since Sascha didn't join in 3 butte fun, and the day was so beautiful, I thought she would enjoy at least one butte. So when I got home from the 3 Butte Run, I immediately put Sascha in the car and we drove to Black Butte to tackle that bad boy. I wanted a 20+ mile day, so we parked 1 1/2 miles and 500+' vertical below the trailhead and ran the road up to the trail. Since it was such a beautiful day, I really shouldn't have been at all surprised by how many people were on the butte enjoying it one last time before the snow...but, I was. It had been a few years since I was on Black Butte on a busy weekend. But hey, I was there enjoying it, so I couldn't really blame others for doing the same. Just cruising and enjoying the day, with Sascha setting the pace, we ran the 2 mile, 1,600' climb on the trail right at 24 minutes. Anything under 25 is good, so I was happy. Since it was probably the last time we would be on top for a while, we hung out and enjoyed the view (Mt. Adams was even super clear) for 10 minutes. Sascha was a bit lazy descending, so we didn't set any speed records, but we did have a great mid-November afternoon playing together on Black Butte in 65 degree weather. It was a great way to end my 21 mile, 3,700' day.

I had Monday off and really wanted to get in the mountains one last time before the snow hits for good. I decided to go with one of my favorites - Black Crater. Even though we had just run Black Butte the previous day, I knew Sascha wouldn't want to miss this one. And Fatboy and I hadn't run together in a while, so I invited him to join the fun, too. We parked at the gate (which had closed 1 1/2 weeks earlier for the season due to snow, but had since melted off) and ran the 3 1/2 paved miles up to the BC trailhead at a mellow pace with FB leading the conversation. A little stretching at the trailhead (but no wilderness permit to fill-out) and Fatboy and Sascha set off up the trail. I started a few minutes later and as I went by, FB told me he may be a while. I said to not worry because I wasn't going for any record. Sascha joined me and immediately set a very comfortable pace up front. The Black Crater trail is 4 miles long and gains about 2,500 vertical; anything under 50 min. to the top is good. I casually noticed that I hit my first time check about 2 min. faster than 50 min. pace. The next check was another min., 2 more min. for the 3rd, and another minute for the last pitch to the top. Hm, 44 minutes...guess I lied to Fatboy about no record today. Not only was I not trying to get a p.r. (my heartrate was only 120 when I reached the top, 7,257'), but there was enough blowdown to keep me in check from ever opening up. Crap, I'm getting in shape. FB joined us not long after and showed me the cool cross country route he took a few months back getting back down. Maybe next summer... A nice cruiser down the trail and road and we were back at the car. Running with my two best running partners on my favorite trail in central Oregon in my favorite season - not too shabby of a day.

I wanted to get in a track day this week. I planned on Tuesday, but after lots of miles and vert. on Sunday and Monday, after my two mile warm-up to the track, I decided to just keep on running past it. Good call as I felt much looser when I finished my easy run, then I ended up having a good track session on Wednesday. 800-1600-800, jog a lap, 800-1600-800. Other than the 400 jog between sets, I rested no more than 2 minutes between each interval. I averaged 2:41 for my 8s and 5:35 for my 16s. Good, solid workout. I was happy.

I wasn't going to run on Thursday, but when I got home after work, Sascha had other plans. To keep her happy, we went out for an easy 5. As usual, I was glad I did it when we were done. Friday morning was 4 PBRs (Pilot Butte repeats) - one paved mile up and .8 trail miles down, 500' vertical each way. As I've said before, this is my favorite workout in Bend. I can get so much bang for my buck. In about 54 minutes, I can get 7.2 good miles with 2,000' of climbing and descending. I love it! Although the CIM course profile looks nothing like this, I'm convinced the hills make me stronger, which then ultimately makes me faster for longer periods. And I don't get the same repetitive jarring as on the track or a fast road tempo.

Saturday morning was the annual COCC Turkey Trot. This is a super fun, low-key run at the local community college. It's challenging 3 mile route with a fast, downhill 1st mile, gradual uphill 2nd, then big uphill and short downhill last mile. I've run from 17:38 - 18:24. I'm fit this year so I wanted to go sub-17. I was lame and the day before, I told local studs Jeff Caba and Andy Martin about the Trot. They showed up and pushed the 1st mile fast. I went through in 5:10 and was a bit concerned. Mile 2 in 11:04 confirmed I went out to hard. I suffered a bit going up the steep part of the 3rd mile, then recorved a bit on the down, before suffering again on the final short uphill pitch. 17:01...doh! I decided I was happy with the effort, then enjoyed the awesome homemade goodies that are always at this race. I don't know who does all of the baking, but I sure do appreciate it. COCC puts on 5-6 fun, low-key races throughout the year and they're all super cheap ($5-$8), have great prizes and terrific post-race goodies, and almost always draw a few ringers uber-competitive Bend.

One last long run tomorrow 13 days out from CIM. Well, long is relative, as it's only going to be 17. As per coach Thomas, 12 at a moderate pace, then pick it up the last 5, finishing around marathon race pace. A track workout this week and a short one early next week, then I'll be fit to fly. Well, unless I get too fat on Thanksgiving. But that's why it's good I'm running CIM and not Seattle.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Lithia Loop Trail Marathon

Last weekend, Sascha, Gina, and I headed down to Ashland for a little Lithia Loop Trail Marathon fun. Well, I had the marathon fun, while Gina and Sascha had fun getting the 3rd degree from a cop because Sascha was on the grass in a city park. I guess liberal Ashland isn't so liberal when it comes to dogs.

Reading the race info, looking at the course profile, and getting the details from Erik at packet pick-up, I knew it was going to be a fun, tough, and sometimes even fast, course. It was mostly nice forest service dirt roads with about 4 miles of singletrack thrown in for fun. And the best started with a 7 mile, 3,000' climb! It sounded like the perfect Sean-course. (Refueling at Windburn and sporting my stylish Sisters Poker Run sleeves!)

Although I was really using Lithia as a good trainer for CIM next month, I still wanted to go hard. However, to make sure I didn't fully race, I went into the race on tired legs with a 100 mile week.

I did a nice 3 mile warm-up to make sure I was ready to start climbing immediately. When Hal said "go", I found myself running amongst some fast folks - Josh, Jeff, JC, Susannah, and a few others. I lagged behind a bit for the first couple miles to get fully warmed up, then I got into my climbing gear and enjoyed the uphill. I briefly chatted with everyone when I went by and then only Jeff was ahead of me (Jeff was also using Lithia as a CIM trainer). He wasn't really going that much faster than the rest of us, but he was just slowly pulling away.

Shortly after passing Josh, he caught back up to me and we pretty much ran together for the next 5-6 miles. I like Josh and it was great to catch-up with running and other life things with him. Along with Susannah, Josh was using Lithia a tune-up for The North Face 50 mile Championship in the Headlands next month. $10,000 is on the line for the top boy and girl. Josh and Susannah are both definitely putting themselves in a good position to compete for some cash.

(Close to the finish sporting a little grimace and my stylish new Sisters Outlaws XC Singlet)

At mile 7, the top of the big climb, were Erik and Kyle waiting to fill my bottle, give me a Gu, and send me off with an attaboy. It was cool seeing the two young studs out helping (they had run a slightly shorter version of the course a week earlier in 2:40!) The next 13 miles were on top of a ridge where I was able to just get in a groove and cruise. After a couple slight uphill miles, the next 11 were slight downhill and I was easily hitting 6:00-6:15 for all of those splits (there may have even been a couple sub-6s). It was fun to be running comfortably hard so that I wasn't killing myself. Other aid station volunteers I remember seeing on this stretch were Eric, Chris, Ian, Tim, John, and Rob...thank you to all of you and all of the volunteers for helping and cheering. I really appreciate it!

Around 1/2 way, I asked Eric at the West Fork A.S. how far up Jeff was. About 2 1/2 minutes. That grew bit, then shrunk back to 2 1/2 by mile 20. I thought I might have a shot, especially with my 5:20 - 21st mile. Shortly after, the nice bomber dirt road downhill turned into a trail that went up for a little bit. I remember Erik had told me the night before that it was only bad for a few minutes. Although it seemed like a long time, he was probably right and soon I was going down again. But we stayed on singletrack that was getting pretty windy, and I sure was getting tired now. Dang, I knew I was not only losing time to Jeff, but that uber-downhiller Josh was gaining on me. I tried to just lean forward and let gravity take me down.

Eventually I recognized the reservoir where we started and I knew there was only about 1 1/2 miles of nice paved downhill to the finish. So I pushed a bit harder and soon saw Gina cheering and taking pictures. Another slight bend in the road and there was the finish line. 2:53:09, 2nd place. I was pretty darn happy with my performance. Jeff ended up whooping me by 5 1/2 minutes, flying into the finish in 2:47:31. A little over a minute after me, Josh finished in 3rd place, 2:54:33. Susannah had the best finish I saw, running hard across the line in 3:00:29, 1st girl and 4th overall.

If you're looking for an excuse to road trip to Ashland next November, I highly recommend using the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon as that excuse. You'll come home with sore quads, a great t-shirt, great memories of a great event, and a full belly from an excellent post-race spread. Thanks Rogue Valley Runners!

Full results here.

RVR report here.

*Breaking news: RVR bid to make the Lithia Loop Trail Marathon the USATF Trail Marathon National Championship for next year. Sweet!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Funny Stuff

My good buddy sent this to me. Now, I don't care what your political affiliation is, but this is superduperpuper funny:

After many requests to update my blog so Punkin' Butt wasn't the first thing you see, I decided to replace that picture with this one:

Punky Brewster & Richard Simmons at an 80's Halloween Party!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Races and Adventures

Sascha and I have been busy the last couple weeks with lots of runs, races, and adventures. On Oct. 18, the first annual Pilot Butte Giants Gallop 5k was held. I absolutely love doing PBRs (Pilot Butte Repeats) as a workout. I run the one mile road up gaining 500', and run the .8 mile trail down losing 500'. I try to do this workout once a week, with four repeats. So when I heard about this race, which was a fund raiser for Pilot Butte Middle School, I definitely wanted to run it. We started on the track, ran to, up, and down the butte, then finished back on the track. It was fun racing so I could get a new p.r. going both up (7:26) and down (4:15). Although definitely not a stacked field, I did win 19:18 (course record, baby!) and was challenged the whole way by a speedy masters runner from Bend. And I got to help the Giants raise $3500! (Click here to see PBMS's most famous alumni!)

That night was Poker Run Eve, meaning I had some Poker Runners at my house for a slumber party. Since it was a party, alcohol was definitely consumed. Apparently a bit too much for some...but I thought the Jose Black was pretty good. Well, until somebody decided to plug my nose while drinking it. But that person has apologized and will remain anonymous. A word of advice to those who do sometimes overindulge: pound a bottle of nuun before bed and another 2-3 bottles within an hour of waking up. It works.

Fatboy hosted the annual Sisters Poker Run on Sunday, Oct. 19. I think there were about 35 runners this year, most opting for the 34-turned-into-37/38-miler, while some missed out on the best part of the course and ran 21. Some jerkos vandalized the course, which made the adventure even longer for a few. I spent parts of the day running with Sascha, Darla, Chris, Maeve, Michael, Nate, Tyler, Dave, and Krissy. Since it was a poker run, we obviously enjoyed a few more shots and poker girls at the aid stations. As for the run, I was playing pretty well through the first 4 aid stations, sporting 2 pair. I got hopeful for a possible full house, but ended with my 2 pair, which put me in 9th place. Hey, that's my best showing at the Poker Run. I'm getting good! (That's me enjoying a shot of Jose Black and getting a little kiss from the lovely showgirl!)

Immediately after the Poker Run, Gina, Sascha, and I headed to my favorite place on the Oregon Coast for some fun on the beach - Pacific City. A pretty, late-night walk on the beach was in order before going to bed so we could get a full day of fun in the sand on Monday. After checking out the tide pools in the morning, the big dunes were calling. Sascha and I absolutely love hiking up and running back down the big dune in Pacific City. It's super-fun and as an added bonus, it's a great workout. We did this a couple times before continuing on our walk up the beach toward Tierra del Mar. After a couple hours of frolicking on the beach, rolling in stinky stuff, eating dead stuff, and a couple more assaults on the dune, it was time for some chowder, salt water taffy, then the drive home through a snow storm (which I slept through). Quite a nice day at the beach. (This is one of my favorite pictures of Sascha and me.)

Thursday was the Sky-Em District Championship Cross Country Meet in Eugene. I rode the very full bus over with the Sisters team. Before we left, they presented me with a team sweatshirt, t-shirt, and long sleeve tech shirt. I love these kids! Once on the bus, it was my turn to give them something: nuun graciously donated a tube of nuun, water bottle, stickers, and tatoos to all 50 kids on the team. Thanks, nuun - the kids loved it! They all hydrated up on the drive over the mountains, while many also put their tatoos on for the races. The heavily-favored boys team dominated the 7-team meet, with their 7th runner placing 13th! They're headed to State as the #2 ranked 4A team in Oregon. The girls were in a tough, tight race. They battled their way to 3rd, with top 2 teams advancing. However, Sisters' top-2 girls advanced as individuals, so that was cool. This Saturday is the State Cross Country Championships at LCC in Eugene. Stop by if you have a chance. There's nothing quite like watching kids giving it their all.

Sunday, Oct. 26, was my 7th running of the McDonald Forest 15k in Corvallis. I absolutely love this race. In fact, it's my favorite sub-marathon race (and I've run a lot of races)! It's hilly (1,500' vertical), it's challenging, it's fast, it keeps you honest, it draws good competition, it beats you if you go out too hard, and it's a cross country fund raiser (I'm a sucker for this). Typically I finish in the 1:01-1:03 vicinity, with a best of 1:00:55 from 2004. After the marathon 2 weeks ago, Ness said I needed to go sub-60 at Mac this year. Great idea - so that was my goal. I usually start out pretty conservatively then pass lots of people going up the hill from 3-6. While it's obviously fun to pass, I knew I could do better. So I did a nice, long warm-up so I was prepared to start fast. Hitting 5:26 for the first mile sure was fast, but I felt controlled and good. I cruised through 2 in 11:27 and 3 in 17:36 before starting the climbs and pretty much settling in to 5th. I hit 4 in 23:53, then the real climbing started. I seriously felt like I was going faster, but my time at mile 6 showed different, 39:55. Oo, a 16:02 2-mile split. I knew I could get the sub-60 if I kept the pedal down. Mile 7 was 45:57, then 8 was at 50:29. Okay, a little quick math here says I ran the 8th mile in 4:32. Nope, not possible. Yes, it is a screaming downhill, losing 500', but I don't run 4:32 miles. Mile 9 at 57:30 confirmed this, as I know I was running faster than 7:01 pace. But I'm pretty sure the two together really were 2 miles. I was pretty excited knowing I had 2 1/2 minutes to run .3 downhill miles. I pushed hard through the end, finishing with a smile in 58:50, blowing away my time goal. I was pleased that I was able to go out hard and maintain a strong, steady effort throughout the race. Yet another positive racing note in the last 5 weeks.

Sascha and I haven't done a cool adventure in the mountains for a while. So today, we decided to head to the mountains and play on Mt. Washington. Never having been up it, we didn't have any expectations as far as how high we could go. With some sore quads thanks to the Mac, and the steepness of the climber's trail, we definitely did a fair amount of hiking. But that was okay. It was a beautiful fall day - sunny, warm, some foliage, and I was hanging out in the mountains with my favorite training doesn't get much better.

The next few weeks will be about getting ready for CIM. Two senior guys on the Sisters XC team even asked if they could go with me and run. Awesome!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


That's my new marathon p.r.! I just ran it today in the Spokane Marathon. Gina and I drove up from Sisters yesterday to visit my fam, so of course I had to fit in a race. Conveniently, the Spokane Marathon was this weekend. I had wanted to run it for a few years, but it never quite fit my schedule.

With 1,700' of climbing and equal descent, it's a tough course, and it's also very pretty. With no specific marathon training any time recently, I entered it wanting to run around 2:50, kind of a training race in my CIM preparation. (The kid with me is 19, running his first marathon, we're at mile 8; he ended up over an hour behind me; I felt bad for him, but like all of us, he'll learn!)

After a 7:02 first mile in 27 degree weather, I was cold so decided to speed up earlier than I originally planned, mainly to warm up. I just kept getting faster and faster all day. Here are some random splits that I remember: 3 - 19:38, 7 - 45:20, 10 - 63:50, 13 - 1:22:11, 20 - 2:05:00, 22 - 2:17:27, 26.2 - 2:42:30. There were 2 or 3 sub-6s somewhere in there, I think in the high-teens and low-20s. I was feeling good.

Anyway, when I finally realized I wasn't going to slow down, but just keep getting faster (somewhere around 20), I did some math-on-the-fly and realized I could actually get a p.r. So that became my goal and I went for it pretty hard to the finish, with my last 10k in 37:30 - which included the infamous "Doomsday Hill" from Bloomsday. The hill did nothing for me, speed-wise, anyway. It was fun flying by the hordes of 1/2 marathoners that had just joined the marathon course.

Finishing strong...and I even look like a runner!

I ran focused and with a purpose the last 30 minutes, and even got a slight case of tunnel vision in the last mile. That was kinda fun! I eventually wound my way back to Riverfront Park, weaved through oodles of people out playing, and found the slightly chaotic finish line. I say slightly chaotic because there were lots of 1/2ers finishing right around me and I came up to the finish so fast, I don't think they were really expecting me so they tried to point me into the 1/2 chute. I just went to the right one and then they figured it out.

I was stoked and tired when I finished. After 30 seconds, my mom found me and I had to lean on her while we walked to a seat. It felt so good just to sit there in the sun, warm and happy. I had just averaged 6:12 per mile for 26.2 of them and I had won. It was good. (Local celebrity!)

After winning uber-tough Crater Lake Marathon 2 months ago, then today's p.r. and win on another challenging course, it makes me realize that apparently I like the tough road marathons. And that running lots of miles in the mountains, with hardly any specific speed work, helps get me fit for said road marathons. Perhaps I'm on to something.

Now I have a little dilemma. I had originally planned on training hard the next 8 weeks with a specific goal of sub-2:40 at CIM. Now, after today's race, that seems kinda sand-baggish to me. Perhaps 2:37? That would make for a nice, round 6-flat pace. But that sounds pretty fast and intimidating. Opinions, suggestions, ideas??

One short note on the shoes I wore: Exactly 9 days before the marathon, Paul Curran sent me a new pair of tester shoes from END Footwear. END is a new, green, running shoe company out of Portland. Their goal is to make the greenest shoes possible, and very light shoes in the process. The model I'm testing is the YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary), which weigh in at a svelte 8 oz, so they're light. I put about 60 miles on them in the week before Spokane, and I liked them so much that I decided to wear them for the race. Well, I loved them in the marathon, too! They're light, flexible, cushy, very light meshy upper that hugs my foot nicely, and best of all, they're fast! Zero blisters, and now, a day later, my legs really aren't beat up. I'm lovin' em. (Goat has done at least one write-up on END Footwear, too.) Watch for END in specialty stores in the near future -they're a good company and one that I feel good about endorsing. And, with my 2:42, that currently makes me the END Footwear Marathon World Record Holder! Pretty cool.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tahoe 2, Sean 0, Draw 1

That's my record this year at Tahoe. I dnf'd the TRT 100 in July, just dnf'd the Tahoe 72 on Sunday, and the draw is WS.

I went to the 72 with pretty high hopes; definitely a sub-10, but really thinking more along the lines of sub-9:30. So I went out fast. As it turned out, too fast, but really, after averaging 5:26 at the Bigfoot 10k a week earlier, low-7s/mi seemed superduperpuper easy for the first 20 miles (which I went through, at Spooner Summit, in 2:28). I easily ran through 50k in 3:49, and hit the 1/2 way point, 36 miles, in 4:23. Hm, I thought, if I keep this up, I'll easily be the first person to run sub-9 (Rae Clark holds the record of 9:06).

I had slowed a bit by 40, was shuffling slowly and puking LOTS the next two miles (non of the little spit-up pukes I occasionally do - even Fatboy would have been proud!), and walked very slowly the 43rd and 44th miles. I was freezing, puking my guts out, couldn't keep anything down, and was just having a miserable time. Eventually my crew drove back towards me to see what was taking so long (I had been hitting my 5 miles splits between 35-40, and now it was well over an hour). I saw the car, walked up and got in. I had made up my mind that I was done, and I was. Sure, I probably could have sat in the car for a few hours, warmed up, maybe eventually got some calories in me, and walked/jogged the final 28 miles in 7 hours, but really, that had absolutely zero appeal to me. Going back to the hotel, showering, sleeping, then eating sounded waaaaaaaay better. So that's what we did. And I was (and still am) confident in my decision.

No big brain-teaser about what went wrong here. I ran too damn fast too early and for too long. That's the way it goes. If I could have held that pace, or even slowed just slightly, I had a good shot at the course record. And I believe the only way to know your absolute potential is to go for it from the start. Many times you end up crashing and burning, but occasionally you uncork an incredible performance. Fatboy often reminds me that's how Eric Clifton got all of his course records, many of which still stand after more than 10 years. I'm not in any way comparing myself and times to Eric's, but I do respect his philosophy. He has definitely crashed and burned a lot, but DANG he has some sweet records.

Anyway, so I think I'm changing up my racing plans for the rest of the season. I had wanted to finish my 100th ultra by the end of the year (I'm currently at 95), but I'm scrapping that plan. I think I'll just run one more ultra this year (Sisters Poker Run), and really focus on trying to break that magical 2:40-marathon barrier at CIM. After Boston, quite a few friends actually suggested to me that I try again at CIM this year. I hesitated to commit because of my ultra plans, but always kept it in the back of my mind. I'll still run the fun short fall races that I've come to love (McDonald Forest 15k), but really re-focus back to the roads. If I keep my training strong and consistent, and run the kind of marathon at CIM that I did at Crater Lake, then I definitely believe I'll break 2:40.

I must rewind a minute and congratulate Oswaldo Lopez on his victory in the 72 (no results are posted yet, but he was on pace for right about 10:00 with 16 miles to go), and Peter Lubbers for his hat-trick of Super Tahoe Triple victories! Way to go, guys - you're both studs!! And, of course, I would be a bad person if I didn't thank my uber-crew extraordinaire. In the first time ever crewing, all of my wants and needs were met flawlessly...thank you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thirty-three Forty-four

That's what I ran for the Bigfoot 10k in Bend last Sunday. A p.r. I was very surprised. I had hopes of running around 34:30, about 15 seconds faster than last year. My splits went like this: 5:18, 10:56 (5:38), 16:17 (5:21), 21:42 (5:25), 27:04 (5:26), 32:34 (5:30), 33:44 (1:10). I also p.r.ed for 5 miles, and I got 5th place in a very competitive race. (Thanks for the picture, Ryan.)

On this fast, mostly gradual downhill course, I went out fast, but not hard. The 2nd mile is the most "uphill" of the race (which isn't really that much, but compared to the rest of the course, you kinda notice it). Then I just got into a good, hard groove. I felt great and was definitely surprised that I was maintaining sub-5:30s the rest of the race. I kinda got mentally weak the last 1/2 mile, and my splits show that. I was catching up to uber-masters runner Chuck Coats. Chuck always easilty kicks my butt. So I think when I started getting close to him in the 5th mile, I got a little scared, like I shouldn't be there. So I was weak and didn't go continue my chase. But regardless, I was elated when I finished. Both Chuck and 3rd place Jeff Caba were surprised to see me so soon at the finish and commented that ultrarunners aren't supposed to run in the 33s. That was cool.

I ran in the oh-so-cool new Nike Lunaracer. Oh, baby, that is a sweeeeeeet shoe! Ritz even wore his in Beijing. In case you haven't seen it or heard about it, it's a super-light racing flat with new technology that allows for the shoe to actually be cushy and light weight. There is a memory foam that is oh-so-nice underfoot, and a new upper made out of Nike's new flywire technology. It hugs like a glove, and my women's size 10.5 weigh in at just under 5 oz.! Definitely not your daily trainer, and not for moderate-and-above over-pronators, but if you're a neutral to mild overpronator, and you want a superduperpuper lightweight flat for your fast days, give the Lunaracer a try. It's fun.

My quads did take a bit of a beating from Bigfoot, so I've been taking it super easy this week in preparation for the big lap around Tahoe this weekend. Sascha and I went for a flat 9-miler on Tuesday night, then today I had a nice (painful) massage, and tonight we just jogged up Black Crater. While going up Black Crater, I thought about just how much I love running uphill. It's awesome! That's why I organized the Pine Mountain Hill Climb a couple weeks ago. I got to thinking that I really need to have a race on Black Butte, too. So my mind started working...oo, a series, perhaps. A mountain series. The Meissner Mountain Series...nah, kinda blah. Meissner's Mountain Madness...a bit corny. Meissner Mountain Menagerie...him, better. Oo, oo, I know, I know...Meissner Mountain Menage a Trois! Yeah, baby! Of course, that means I need a 3rd mountain to add to the menage. Perhaps Grey Butte? Grizzly Mountain? Lookout Mountain? I'm not sure yet, but I'm definitely excited about the Meissner Mountain Menage a Trois! Or does it sound better as Meissner Menage a Trois Mountain Series? I kinda like the 3 m's in a row, alliteration thing in the first title, but maybe the second title makes more sense. I don't know...what do you think? About the whole idea? Are you as enthusiastic about it as I am? I'm definitely thinking 2009 would be the first year of the series. Are you tough enough to run all three??

I'm off to Tahoe in the morning. Seventy-two miles of paved pleasure!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The past couple of weeks

Well, in the time that it took me to write my short novel about TransRockies, Sascha and I actually did some other cool stuff. After taking 3 days off to recover from TR, and with Sascha going bonkers, we decided to hit the mountains for a couple hours of playing. I absolutely love this time of year in the mountains! Cool, crisp mornings, warm days, pleasant evenings, and as a bonus this year due to super-late snow melt, lots of really pretty wildflowers are still out! Sascha kind of reminds me of Garfield, running and frolicking through big wildflower-filled meadows. It's cool to watch her play...and catch the occasional mouse and eat it.

The next day was the big cross country season kick-off race for all of the local high school teams. Mud 'n Blood is a super-fun 5k race, basically a scramble more than anything. There is a creek crossing, log jumpings, scramble up a steep hill, single track, and one more creek crossing at the finish. It's a blast! There is first an open division, then the kids get to race, with each grade being a different race, rather than just having varsity and j.v. races. In each race, the girls get a 3 1/2 minute head start, making for some great finishes between the sexes. Only 5 days post-TR, I surprised myself with a course p.r. of 19:01, good for 2nd in the men's division, 6th overall in the open race. I was also happy that my time would have put me on the Sisters Boys Varsity that day (it's the little joys in life... :).

Then on Friday (the next day), Fatboy and I decided to climb the Middle Sister. Neither of us had done it before, although Sascha and I had two attempts that were aborted not too far from the summit (she has a good way of telling me when she's at her limit). FB and I started at Pole Creek TH, ran most of the way to Chambers Lake, then just kinda bee-lined it, part cross country, part climber's trail, to the summit. There were some pretty steep scree slopes where it was easier to climb on all fours. We made it to the top in about 3 1/2 hours and were surprised to see 5 other people already up there! We chatted with them, watched some cool rocks crash off the side of the mountain and into the glacier, and enjoyed some snacks (mmm, Babyruth, mmmmmm...). About 10 minutes later, a group of 12 started summitting. So yes, on a random Friday in September - after Labor Day - there were 19 people on the freakin' summit of the Middle Sister. Really none of us could believe it. So FB and I took that as our cue to head down. We took a longer, not as steep route, back down to the lakes, which let us do a bit of glissading and running a bit more cross country through some open fields of wildflowers. Sascha would have loved this section! FB and I eventually made our way down the trail and back to the car. The total roundtrip took us about 6 1/2 hours, which included stopping time for whatever, and we estimated that we got 23ish miles in for the day. Climbing the Middle Sister is definitely a fun adventure!

Since there's really no rest for the weary (or fit-feeling after spending a week running at 10,000'), the McKenzie River 50k was just a day after the Middle. I was looking forward to running this beautiful trail, and with my past week and a half, I didn't burden myself with any real time expectations. I started amongst a sea of RVR Green, and also very conservatively. I easily just cruised through the first 8 miles, enjoying the company of ultra virgin Will and one other guy from Eugene. Then as usually happens in ultras, I gradually increased my pace and effort, catching up to my friend Steve from the Bay Area. With a loud, obnoxious, and very cool Hawaiian shirt, he was dressed Fatboy-style. Steve and I spent most of the run together, talking about how non-technical Rod told him the trail was (Rod is a liar), how much he likes CarboPro, and how he's getting back in shape for a big run at Quadipsea this year. Our little duo eventually turned into a quad, as we caught up to Todd and John caught us all. With all of that testosterone flying around, the pace naturally increased and I forgot to take a gel. Oops. So I had a little bonk from 23-26, where those guys easily distanced themselves from me. Oh well, I never got too out of it, so I didn't lose too much time and was able to pick up the pace again after 2 quick gels. I would never catch those 3 guys again, but I did notice I was oh-so-close to the golden 4-hour barrier. So I tried to go harder a few times, but my legs reminded of TR from only a week ago and the Middle from yesterday. However, with 3 miles to go, I did notice that I was now slightly ahead of my 4:04 time from last year. My new goal became finishing faster than that. So I zigged and I zagged my way along the cushy trail under the lush forest canopy next to the rushing McKenzie to the finish in 4:01, 7th place. I was happy. With no expectations coming in, I felt I ran a good race, enjoyed the comraderie of others, and didn't go down at all, despite the sharp and pointy lava rock (I went down 5 times last year). It was a good day.

Much of the next week was spent prepping for the Pine Mountain Hill Climb, for which I was the race director. I even got to show-off the course to Aaron Schartzbard, who was in town from Virginia for a few days to play in the Central Oregon mountains. You can read all about the race here.

Thinking back on my last few weeks and months, I've had a pretty kick-ass summer! I'm kinda sad for it to end, but, as I have for the past 7 years, I'm really looking forward to heading to Tahoe at the end of the month for a little pavement pounding fun!

Monday, September 8, 2008

TransRockies Report

TransRockies was easily the best running experience of my life. I've had many, many, many really cool running experiences in all sorts of different places with all sorts of different people. By day 2, somewhere up on Hope Pass, TR had risen to the top.

I was super stoked to be TRing with my buddy and fellow Montrailian Matt since we found out we were in sometime in early Spring. We had both planned on this being an "A" race, and we were going to kick some butt.

Matt picked me up from DIA, we had an uneventful drive to Buena Vista in the nuun van, and the party was on! We checked in, got our gear bags, checked out the town, and found a great camping spot outside the community center, where dinner and breakfast would be. Perfect.

Dinner was fun...seeing all of the uber-fit teams, talking smack to old friends, being nice to new friends, everyone dashing inside when the sky opened up in a sweet, late-afternoon Colorado monsoon. Those are cool.

Day 1 was a 13 miler on gravel roads, with a slight uphill the whole way. I liked it. Matt didn't. At the 7 mile a.s., he got behind me and hung on almost until the finish. With only 1/2 mile to go, I had a slight mentally weak moment, where he began to pull away. I realized this, kicked myself, and we finished in 1:34, 9th on the day. I think we could have run closer to 1:30, but was happy with our first day's effort.

After a nice soak in the Arkansas River, we took a shuttle to the first of 5 camps / tent villages. Camp is where we got to meet some of the coolest people ever. On this first night, we also got to see Goat's 18 gear bags!

Day 2 was only 10 miles, but I knew for me, it was going to be the toughest stage. After running the first 2 flattish miles waaaaaaay too fast (just over 14 minutes), Matt and I began our ascent of Hope Pass. I was already in oxygen debt from the first 2 miles, and the 2.6 mile, almost 3,000' climb didn't help. I was breathing hard and working harder the whole way up. Matt could see I was in difficulty, so he just got behind me and pushed. And pushed. And pushed some more. He pushed me a lot that day. I was really glad he did that! I was happy when we reached the top, you know, in an oxygen-deprived sort of way. Tony was up there cheering, and that gave me a little boost for going down. Now, normally I'm not a great downhiller, but I am okay at it. Today I wasn't even okay. My leg muscles had absolutely zero oxygen in them, so I was basically a weeble-wobble the whole way down. Not much better than going up. And I even got a gusher of a bloody nose on my way down. We finished the day in 1:57:08, 12th on the stage, and me looking like Matt had beat me up.

A whole gaggle of us then enjoyed a lazy afternoon in downtown Leadville, with Tony even stopping in to tell us a bit about his possible future plans. We also heard and talked more about the cheating that happened going up Hope. It seems that Saab / Salomon boys didn't like the switchbacks, so they cut 'em. Apparently a lot of 'em. They ended up crossing the finish line first that day, but I wouldn't call it a win. There was never an official protest filed, so they didn't get the 2-hour penalty that the rule book clearly states they should have. Plus, it just put a bit of a damper over camp for a few days. Bad Saab / Salomon boys...Bad.

Day 3 was the long stage - 24 miles of mostly rolling terrain. Matt and I were hopeful to start catching up here. Despite me getting a bloody nose at like mile 3 (and it staying with me most of the day), we ran fairly solid the first 14 miles. The funniest moment of the whole race happened around mile 9. The Salt Stick boys, one of the teams we duked it out with all week, ran by us up a jeep road. A mile later, they were stopped at a creek crossing (probably 15' wide and 5" deep), clearly searching for a way across. They saw us, started to ask how we were going to get across, but before they were 1/2 way through the question, Matt and I were on the other side, running and laughing. It was pretty funny. However, they did go on to beat us that day. Hm, maybe we should have kept our feet dry.

Somewhere on this day, we hopped on the Colorado Trail for a good section of sweet singletrack. My nose was gushing and legs were tired, my it was some of the best running of the week. So, so, so beautiful. It's too bad the last 3 miles of that day were in a big, flat, wide-open valley, run on a dirt road, where we could see the finish line for a loooooong time. We finished up in 3:40:09, 10th for the day.

This night at Camp Hale was easily the best night of the week (well, maybe expect for party night, but that doesn't count). We were camped out in a big, beautiful valley, completely surrounded by big mountains, with no cell coverage or internet access. Everyone actually had to talk and hang-out together. The campfire that night was pretty much attended by all. Clif Hot Chocolate recovery drink is really good.

Day 4 was a good, tough 14 miler, and as it turned out, Matt and my best stage. I took off running slightly ahead of Matt on the mellower sections of the big climb, but he caught up on the steeper section. As usual, we were bouncing back-and-forth with Wings of Glory and Salt Stick, and we found ourselves on top of the climb between these 2 teams. Wings was up front, and as they had proven throughout the week, they were the best downhill team between the 3 of us, and they flew on down all the way to Red Cliff ahead of us. I really enjoyed this downhill. It wasn't too technical, so was fun to just pound down. Well, until we hit the freezing cold creek we had to run through multiple times, and for really long periods (I think the last time was 1/4 mile stretch). My feet hurt so bad I thought I was going to cry. Much to Matt chagrin (good word, eh?), I had to slow down...I couldn't help it. But then we eventually popped out onto a sweet hard-packed, smooth, gentle downhill, dirt road for the final 2.5 miles. We flew down it, easily at sub-6 pace, using the studly coed LaSportiva / Goretex team as our rabbit. It felt awesome to fly across the finish line in 2:15:48, 8th on the day.

That afternoon in Red Cliff was a nice, lazy, sunny day. I decided to add a little excitement to my life by doing a little shave-down. I figured since we were in cowboy country, I should shave off the chin part of my goatee and leave a sweet handlebar mustache. Oh yeah, I was a looker. The worst part of it, though, was that some people thought it actually looked good on me (or so they said). No! Absolutely not! Mustaches are not cool and they do not look good. Well, unless you're old. Then maybe. But I'm not old, and the handlebar 'stache looked lame. Really lame. And that's the reason I had it - to look lame!

Day 5 was set to be my best day. At 23 miles, it started with 10 miles of climbing on mostly jeep roads, gaining 3,000'. The perfect, runnable, Sean-type, grade. I was pumped for it. I took off pretty much from the gun. I felt great and was 100% committed to run with the Fluffy Bunnies. After a few miles, I looked back to see how Matt was doing. Oops, Matt was in difficulty. So I cut back until he caught up, then reminded him to eat. That didn't do much for him, so finally Matt made the decision to get towed. So I tied our pants together, another pant leg to my pack, then the last pant leg around Matt's waist. We ran as a little choo-choo train for the next hour, most of the way up the mountain. I felt like a sleddog. We eventually hit some good downs, so we unlatched and Matt seemed to be doing better. Finally we topped out on Vail Mountain. It was so beautiful up there! I arrived and left slightly ahead of Matt, which was fine because he then caught me on the down. This was another fun down, but also very, very loooooong. We passed a couple teams who had blown-up that day, and tried to hammer to last few miles. With about 1.5 miles to go, I kinda blew-up. This was a bummer, since it was on such an easy, fast, downhill grade. So we slowed down a bit, almost caught a team, then basically jogged it in, finishing in Vail Village in 3:52:06, 9th on the day.

It was crazy to finish the posh little Vail. After being out in the middle of nowhere, with basically only other stinky, dirty runners for a few days, I think we all felt a bit out of place amongst the masses. But we got over it and enjoyed our cell phones again, and even a trip to get ice cream! The awards ceremony was slightly tainted that night by a team who got lost, adding probably 30-45 minutes to their time, then they ended up in 3rd in their category for the day. They were, oh, uh, not so happy about this and felt their time should be adjusted accordingly. This is a race in the mountains, your eyes. Their time wasn't adjusted, rightfully so, and so they did a lame mini-protest during the awards by not going up when they were called for 3rd, but instead, waiting until the studly, always smiling, and sometimes showing their butts (at least one of them) Banff / Yellowstone Trail Trash team was called up for their hard-fought 2nd place podium position. So YAY to B/Y TT for not beating up the pissy girls, and BOO to the pissy girls.

Day 6, 21 miles, within 4 minutes of Wings and Salt (both of them ahead of us) was going to be an epic day and it was going to hurt. Matt and I talked of letting it all out and trying to hang with the Bunnies for as long as possible. Well, that didn't work. They started quite a bit faster than we did. So, as usual, we ran near our arch-nemesises, Salt and Wings. Today, Matt and I decided to separate a bit more than normal (but staying within our 2 minute allowance). I would go ahead on the climbs, then he would catch and pass me on the downs. This seemed to be a good tactic; too bad it took us 6 days to figure it out. We ran hard. We ran our guts out. So did Wings and Salt. And unfortunately for Matt and me, the other guys ran faster. They beat us on the day, and thus, for the race. We crossed the final finish line in Beaver Creek in 3:25:11, 7th on the day. I was very happy to be done. Goatboy joined us at the finish for a nice little group hug. Matt and I finished in 16:44:36 overall, good for 9th overall and in the Boy's Open Category. We were both definitely hoping for top-5, and hey, if we would have, well, run faster, then we would have been there. But we didn't, and others did. But what we did do was race our guts out against a whole slew of really fast, tough people. It was very impressive to see how tough some of those adventure racers and mountain runners really are.

Congratulations all around to the Salt Stick boys and Wings of Glory boys. You 4 helped make this race truly epic. It was definitely way better to be racing so close to you guys, rather than us all being 1/2 hour apart. It was much more of a race this way. Thank you.

The awards ceremony / party on Saturday night after the final day was really fun. Lots of food was eaten, lots of beverages were consumed (I even had some beer!), nuuntinis were concocted and drank, sombreros were worn, war stories of the week were shared, hook-ups were hooked, tequila was shot, hugs were given out freely, ugly-feet contests were had, and lots of friendships were solidified. It was an unforgettable evening after an unforgettable week.

Thank you so much to all who made this week the bestestest ever running experience of my life...with special thanks to: Bryon, Martin, Erin, Jeannie, Jonathan, Chris, Tyson, Kevin, Duncan, Mark, Max, Erik, Adam, Michelle, Courtney, Leslie, Meghan, and of course, most of all, Matt.

I look forward to it again next year!

Monday, September 1, 2008

TransRockies Run

Real quick here (I'll write a biggie later): TransRockies was easily my best running adventure to date. Nothing even comes close - and I've done many, many, MANY cool running adventures in my life. Obviously I wish Sascha could have joined in the fun, but some of my new friends reminded me of her.

Thanks for all of the e-mails, voicemails, texts, etc., during the week wishing me well. I really appreciate all of the support.

Matt Hart is the best teammate. Ever.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Yeah, I could attempt to write some stuff. But Hart and Goat are totally geeked-out with their fancy iPhones, which they're both obviously addicted to, so they've both been blogging almost non-stop about this cool little adventure. So check it all out from their sites.
TransRockies website for results, photos, etc

Well, I'll throw a little out there for you. Yesterday was a pretty flat 13 miles. Hart suffered and I kinda enjoyed the course (and a guy proposed to his girlfriend at the finish - it was pretty cool). Today was a 10 miler up and over Hope Pass. Hart enjoyed it (as did I), but I suffered A LOT! I thought of Bien saying that he would rather suffer a little for a long time than a lot for a little time. Amen, brotha. I even got a cool bloody nose (no surprise to anyone who ever runs with me). Basically, Hart got sick of me attempting to run, so he beat me up.

Tomorrow we finally get a long stage, 24 miles. I have confidence we will make up time.

P.S. Max and Erik are really fast! They're in a close race for first, but I'm calling it now: Team Oregon is going to win.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Waldo and TransRockies

I went to Where's Waldo last weekend to watch, cheerlead, and work at the Gold Lake Aid Station with the CORK crew. I had a blast! Being stationed at the first a.s. of the day meant an early wake-up call, but it also meant we were done first and we got to see all the runners while they were still happy. To make things fun, I even got to wear a pretty pink dress.

By 6:45 a.m., everyone was through there, so Sascha and I were off to Mt. Ray Aid Station, approx. mile 21 of the race. I got there just in time to see Nate go flying through in 1st, with Hal right on his heels. They were cruising. Some of the other fast boys came through, then Meghan flew in with Prudence right on her heels. Everyone was still looking good. And it was starting to get warm.

Next, it was up to Charlton Aid Station. Again, I made it just in time to see Nate come in, take a dip in the lake, and he was off. Sean came in a few minutes back looking great, and Neil was 3rd, 10 min. back. Neil sat down, took off his right shoe and sock, put on a new shoe and sock on just his right foot, then took off. He looked like a kicker, which proved to be foreshadowing for the butt-kicking he did later in the race. Prudence came running in as the first place girl, looking great. Krissy was only 5 minutes behind. Tonya came in a bit later and was a bit concerned about her leg, but Jenn was there waiting to run the last 30 miles with her, and as we all know, Jenn's always a good motivator.

Up at the hot a.s., Rd. 4290, most runners were looking a bit worked. The temerature was around 90, and there was a long, slow climb ahead in the next section. Most people would run out of water here, so I encouraged them to drink up and find the spring at the 1/2 way point. Ian, Bronco, and Brad all came in close to each other, but Brad lingered the longest, slurping down his concentrated broth. Mm, mm, good drinkin'! Prudence cruised through again still in first, still smiling and looking smooth. Only minutes later, Krissy came in, too. With a little tip from Dagan, I knew she was digging Ultragen, so I quickly made up a bottle of tropical punch for her to get her up and over the long Twins section.

Shortly after seeing Meghan go through 4290, and giving her a rah-rah for wearing her Olympic Trials hat (how cool is that?), I had to head off to work. Luckily Chris was on the ball at the finish line and called me with updates. Neil smoked the last section and won in 10:06. Not only is Neil fast and super nice, but he also ran the Waldo 72 miler last year. I was excited to hear that he came back this year and won. In doing so, he cleaned up in the $$$, winning $1000 for overall and $500 for being a fast old man. For the girls, Prudence had no idea how close Krissy was to her until Maiden. Seeing she only had about a 6 min. lead, Prudence put the hammer down from the summit to the finish, and in doing so, earned the title of 2008 National 100k Trail Champ, finishing in 11:12. Pretty sweet!

One interesting Waldo note; Meghan won overall last year and Krissy won overall in 2006. This year, Prudence was 11th overall. Do you think the boys were out for revenge??

Congratulations to all Waldo finishers, with special kudos to Jeff, Brad, Ian, Prudence, Krissy, William, Meghan, KR, BW, Scott, Stacey, Rob/Waldo, Ken, Maura, Tate, Caroline, Olga, John, 5-Finger, Stan, Eb, Tom/Waldo, Steve, and of course Tonya. Tonya, I wish I could have seen you finished. You were the hero of the day!

Tomorrow I finally get to go to Colorado for TransRockies! I used to live in Steamboat Springs and I love running in the CO Rockies. I am sooooooo excited and ready for this epic adventure. A week long running vacation with one of my best buds...I mean really, what could be better? I call it a vacation, but during the daily stages, there will definitely be no vacationing. We will be running hard. We have a challenging goal and it will definitely keep us breathing hard and running fast. But Hart's tough. And we're gonna do it. And it's gonna be a blast!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ridin', Runnin', and Marathonin'

So the blogging slacking is finally coming to an end.

After TRT, I took it easy for a week. In that week, I noticed something in my gear room, kinda in the back. Mostly blue with some yellow thrown in, two wheels, a seat, handle, I have seen many of those things before, in a past life. Curious, I wandered back to it, dusted it off, and voila, a bicycle appeared! My cool Schwinn Paramount road bike. Sleek titanium frame, flawless Ultegra groupo, hot Spynergy Spox wheels...yessirree, she's a looker. I reminisced back to when I bought her 8 years ago. We did lots of riding together for a few years. Then something happened when I moved to Sisters. We didn't officially break-up, but definitely saw less and less of each other. I had a new passion, called ultrarunning. In fact, until the week after TRT, Paramount and I hadn't seen each other for 4 years!

So I put her in the front of my gear room, dusted her off, pumped up her rubber, found my super-old helmet and some dusty bike clothes. Then we went outside and rode. It was sweet! In the almost 4 weeks since that ride, we've been seeing quite a bit of each other. Like 3-5 times per week. I've been driving half way to work, then biking the rest. That's fun. And my butt is getting back into the groove of riding, too. On Thursday, I felt I should start bridging the gap between bike commuter and cyclist. So we rode 40 miles that day. Yes, it was fun, despite the little hip flexor / groin pain.

So I'm hoping to keep this cycling thing up for quite some time. I had forgotten how fun riding a road bike is. It's making me a stronger runner. My calves aren't quite as puny. Last week, I even thought about maybe signing up for a biathlon (as they were called in the late 80s and early 90s). But regardless of how much riding I do, unlike Hart and Nessski, I'm not shaving my legs.

After that post-TRT easy week, I got back into the groove of training again pretty easily. I've been doing some PBRs (Pilot Butte Repeats), track work (in the cool new Nike Lunaracer), and getting up in the mountains! I'm having a blast running. I feel fit.

Last weekend, I ran a marathon. Well, two actually. But it was supposed to just be one. Crater Lake Marathon was supposed to be the one. This is a seriously hard marathon. With about 2,300' of climbing and 3,500' of descent, looooong hills both up and down, high altitude between 6,000 - 8,000', and a brutal 500' dirt road climb from 22.8 to 24.3, I'm going to put it out there and say it's the toughest road marathon in the country. I would love to hear of a tougher one!

Anyway, so I went to Crater with a goal of running sub-3. Not many people do this, so I knew it would be hard. But this kind of marathon plays to my strength of running well on long, sustained climbs (up to 5 miles). I started easy with Jenn for the first few miles to warm up and to let the pack string out. Then miles 4 and 5 were downhill and both were sub-6. I was warmed up and feeling good!

I started reeling in many ambitious folks who started out a tad fast. At 9.5, I knew I had a lot of climbing ahead of me in the next 5 miles. So I used this to my advantage and went to work picking off more runners. At mile 11, as I was breathing heavy, I passed Todd Ragsdale, one of those RVR boys. Todd has a good history at Crater, winning in 2006 and 2nd last year. He let me know that I was now in 2nd. I had no idea who was ahead or how far up he was. I just kept plugging along.

Miles 13.5 to 15.5 are an out-and-back, so it was here that I saw Chuck Engle crushing me and everyone else. He probably had 5 minutes on me here. Then soon enough, I saw Brendan Lunday and Todd less than a minute behind me. At the turn at 14.5, we then pointed our feet downhill for 8 miles and almost 2000' vertical of descent. I wanted to run these miles hard. My recent big mileage let me average almost 6-flat for most of the way; however, my lack of recent speed training kept me from going faster. Just before the road bottomed out, I heard footsteps. Apparently Todd has been doing some speed workl. He went by hard and he looked strong. I was impressed.

A 1/2 mile later, when the road pointed up again, Todd came back fast, so I attacked hard to try to drop him. I ran hard up the dirt road all the way to the turn around. As much as I was trying to run away from Todd, I was also curious to see how far ahead Chuck was. When I got to the turn and still didn't see him, I was a bit confused. Was he in the bushes? Laying down in the volunteer's vehicle at the turn? Was I leading? Regardless, I still had 2 miles to get back to the finish. So I just leaned forward into the hill and let my legs fly. I finished up with a couple of 5:45s and the first to cross the finish.

I was stoked with my effort that produced a 2:55:47, but puzzled by the win. Apparently, Chuck didn't make the turn around at 24.3. The volunteers said they yelled to him; Chuck said nobody said anything. Regardless, it's too bad and I'm sorry it happened. Yes, I wanted to win, but not by default. Here are a couple of articles regarding the race.

Anyway, at only 11 min. of my p.r., and 7 min. off Boston, Crater Lake Marathon was easily my best-ever marathon. I went out smart, warmed up, took advantage of my strengths on the course, and hammered when I need to. I never had a low spot. It was sweet. And, it continues my streak of having a good race after a dnf. Not that I enjoy testing that theory, but it's never let me down.

On the drive home after Crater, I was feeling good and a little peppy. So when I got to Bend, I stopped at packet pick-up for the Haulin' Aspen Trail Marathon to see if I could get in. I could and I did. I knew I wouldn't be able to put out the same effort I did at Crater, nor would I run the time I ran at Haulin' last year, but in addition to being a fun, tough double, I figured it would be great training for TransRockies.

I actually felt pretty good while warming up. At the start, I let the usual pack go by me and was happy to be leading a train through 3 miles. Then the trail started going uphill a bit and the train fell apart. Eventually I was running with just one other person, ultrarunner Drew Breyenton from Corvallis. We worked well together, then he stopped at an a.s. while I kept going on up.

Whenever I tried to go faster up the long climb, my legs said no. So I just grinded my way up, slowing gaining ground on a 1/2 dozen people up the dirt road. Finally I hit mile 14 in 1:57 (6 min. slower than last year), which was the start of the 12 miles of single track mostly downhill. I tried to just let my legs float down the hill, and mostly did, but I just couldn't get good turnover. Obviously I knew why and I was okay with that. So I just ran on down, occasionally passing someone, and getting passed by Drew, on my way to the finish. I thought I had a shot at sub-3:20, but was happy with my 3:22:13. A nice, solid effort on a good course. As soon as I stopped, my legs seized up then starting quivering. It was fun.

I believe I broke the unofficial record the the Crater Lake / Haulin' Aspen double. As far as I can see, Todd had the record from last year: 3:03:03 + 3:15:44 = 6:18:48. My Crater was able to hold off his hard-charging Haulin': 2:55:47 + 3:22:13 = 6:18:00. Come on, Todd. The gauntlet has been thrown. Come get it!

Thursday, July 24, 2008


So I've definitely been getting lots of theories thrown my way regarding my stomach. Thank you all for taking the time to do this; I REALLY appreciate your help. I'll list as many as I can remember, then address as many as I can.

Starting too fast
pH imbalance with my system
I'm not set-out to run 100s
Run "faster" 100s so I'm not out there as long
Pushing the envelope too hard / redlining
Not fit enough
Electrolyte imbalance

Heat: yeah, it was hot, but I seriously really never felt over-heated. During the last few weeks leading up to the race, the temps around central Oregon were averaging in the 90s and I was running in the afternoon as much as possible. I was hot at 50, but I took my time there too get my stuff together and cool off. As I was leaving the a.s., Mark Gilligan (2nd last year in a smokin' 19:38) handed me the best present ever - an ice cold bottle of water! I intentionally slowed down the next 11 miles so I wouldn't over-heat. Once in the Red House loop, temps cooled, so Nikki and I started pushing just a bit again. It felt good.

Altitude: definitely a possibility. During my 4-day WS training camp weekend, I ran at altitude every day (between 7,000-9,000'). I ran up Black Butte, 6,200', a few times in the weeks leading up to the race. But on race day, I felt good most of the day, but could feel the lack of oxygen. I tried to remedy that by walking whenever my heartrate got too high. I don't wear a h.r. monitor, but after 21 years of running, I know what my threshold is and when I need to back off. So even if it was flat, if my h.r. was too high, I walked until it mellowed out.

Starting too fast: I'm going to say a big no on this one. Why? Well, I was hungry, eating, and my stomach was digesting food all day. If I had been running too fast, I definitely wouldn't have been hungry, I wouldn't have eaten, and if I had eaten, I would have been vomiting food, not bile and acid.

pH imbalance with my system: hm, interesting. Never thought about that. It never even occured to me...until Kami threw it out there. She's pretty sure there's some kind of chemical imbalance going on, since this happens to me way too often. She suggested I contact some kind of medical person who knows about this stuff and have some tests done. Maybe my pH levels are too high, thus, the reason I puke bile and stomach acid, not food. In the mean time, she suggested I take Wheat Grass to help keep my stomach more basic. I mentioned this to Chris, and he said he does it, so it might not hurt. I know Hart does it, too. So, I ventured to Wild Oats last night and purchased Amazing Grass. I've taken 5 servings already and I gotta say, its bark (smell) is definitely worse than its bite (taste). I'm going to stick with it for a while to see what happens. And, I'm going to contact someone who may know a bit more and can run some tests on me (tests probably mean needles, which I absolutely HATE, but I hate more not knowing what's up).

I'm not set-out to run 100s: possibly. Even though I was sure of that at 3 a.m. on Sunday, and have been right after all of my 100s (both finishes and 4 dnf's), the further I get from each race, the less I'm convinced of it.

Run "faster" 100s so I'm not out there as long: I may give this a try. Rocky, Vermont, Javelina, Lean Horse, Heartland, all possibilities. I'm not too stoked about the 8 laps at Umstead.

Pushing the envelope too hard / redlining: I never was redlining. Like I noted earlier, whenever I was reaching my threshold, I would stop running and walk until my h.r. dropped to a reasonable level. I've been running long enough to know when I'm redlining. I wasn't redlining at TRT.

Not fit enough: definitely not. If you followed my blog leading up to this, you read that I trained very hard for this. I went through stages of beating up my body, then resting to let it recover and get stronger. Only two days after the race, my body felt like it had only run a moderate 50k. I think the stiffest I got was from the drive home on Sunday. My legs weren't/aren't trashed at all.

Electrolyte imbalance: that probably has something to do with it. Except the first hour when it was cool, I drank a bottle of nuun, a bottle of water, and took and s-cap every hour. Without fail. Still, my shirt was definitely crusty when I changed at 76. And if you can't tell, my legs were swollen. But I look happy and chipper; and even better, I FELT happy and chipper. (I stole this picture from Matt's write-up.)

Anyway, that' s all I have for now on theories.

Yesterday, Sascha and I decided to head up in the mountains for a 14 mile hug. Huh, you say? Well, a hug is a combination of Hike/rUn/joG. Pretty cool, eh! I made that up myself. Being at Chambers Lake, right at the base of the Middle Sisters, was pretty awesome. Then today I decided to make it 2-for-2 in hitting the wilderness on consecutive days. I ran 3 1/2 miles up the McKenzie Highway to my favorite short trail in central Oregon: Black Crater. Four sweet uphill singletrack miles with about 2,500' vertical, pretty much all runnable. It was awesome! Coming down was easy-schmeasy; my legs weren't sore at all, and I even ran a couple 6:15s once I hit the pavement again.

Crater Lake Marathon is in only 2 weeks. It's gonna be fun!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


...second time's not a charm. DNF, mile 85, 17 hours.

I went back this year for two reasons: because WS got cancelled, and to redeem myself from some unfinished business last year.

It started great (don't they all?)! I was chilling out and running relaxed behind Ian, Nikki, Bev, and Jenn, while Jon, Erik, and Mike were a bit up the trail. Yes, I was in very good, and experienced, company.

I actually ended up running most of the 85 miles with Nikki. I don't think we were ever more than 5 minutes apart, and usually we were together. See, this was good for me. I'm going to put it out there and say that Nikki is currently the best female trail 100 mile runner in the world. So I figured I could learn a lot by sticking with her. And I did. I learned to walk way more uphills than normal, and that you don't have to pound the downs. Nikki's a great downhiller, but because she's efficient going down, not because she blasts them. These two points helped me get to 50 miles a full 15 minutes faster than last year, in hotter weather (it was 100 degrees there!), but feeling much, much fresher.

We intentionally slowed down the next 11 miles to Tunnel Creek. As we descended into the Red House loop, the weather cooled a bit and we were in more shade. Nikki and I worked really well together going through the Taste of Hell the second (the first time, too), and came out feeling strong. The sun was cooling even more now, so we ran well for the next 9 miles to Mt. Rose, taking only about 15 minutes longer to get there than in the morning.

I was greeted by Jenn, Thomas, Valerie, and other crews. It was cool to be rocking along with Nikki, feeling great, and being cheered by everyone at Mt. Rose. I left slightly ahead of Nikki, but knew she would catch up. As I left, Jenn asked if I wanted a pacer. Heck yeah! I didn't know who it was going to be, but I just told her to have them catch me. A couple miles later, I heard Jenn's giggly little voice behind me. I was really happy she decided to join me (she had earlier dropped at 50 due to altitude).

We were cruising along for a few miles just ahead of Nikki and Howard (her pacer) when they decided to pass and take the lead for a bit. No worries...Nikki and I both knew this is what we had been doing all day and it had been working well.

Right about 9 p.m., when it was getting dark, near the Diamond Peak water drop, I started to feel a bit off. So I slowed for a bit, then started walking for a while. Jenn commented that if I wanted to stay ahead of Ian, I really should be running the downs. Then came the puke, pretty much in the form of bile and acid...mmm. Okay, no big deal. I had been running great all day, so one puke at mile 81 was pretty good. I felt a little better, drank some water, took a gel and s-cap, and slowly started running again. Five minutes went by and the calories and water came back up. More water and nuun and another gel. Five minutes, same result. This continued for a couple of miles until I was so exhausted that I had to sit down. Soon, another runner came from the other way and said the a.s. was only 8 minutes away. So I dragged my butt off the rock and stumbled down to the Tunnel Creek aid station.

I told Jenn I was going to hang out there as long as I needed to get my stomach straight. I was going to finish this thing! I slowly drank soup and water. Within 30-60 seconds, it came back up. I tried again, same result. Sprite, coke, saltines, food...same result. Each time I tried something in my stomach, it was good for a minute or so, then not-so-much. There was a truck leaving with drops about an hour after I got there. I declined getting on, knowing I could still pull myself together. Well, after five hours of hanging out at the a.s., drinking, eating, puking, repeat...I looked at Jenn and we knew what the decision was. I had nothing in me and we knew there was no way I was going to make it up the two big climbs ahead. A truck was ready to leave, so Jenn helped me up, then was literally my cruch as I barely dragged my completely depleted self to the truck. I had absolutely no energy. Jenn even had to almost lift me into the truck. Yes, I was pathetic.

After a gnarly drive out on a super technical jeep road, the truck-load full of drops made it back to the start/finish area at Spooner Lake just before 4 a.m. It totally sucked to get back there in a truck. Obviously, we all had plans of running there.

One the drive back to Thomas' condo in Incline Village, as I watched the full moon shine brightly and beautifully over Lake Tahoe, I listened to messages and read texts from some awesome friends who were giving me lots of rah-rahs during the day and night. Yes, listening to those made me happy that I have so many good friends who were thinking of me, knowing I was going to rock this 100. Thank you.

I would really like to say a big thank you to Jenn. She really proved to me that she's not just a fast little punk:)! Just the fact that she volunteered to pace me after dropping from the 50 was awesome, but the compassion and maturity she showed me while my body was failing me is something I'll never forget. Jenn, you can pace me anytime, and hopefully you'll let me do the same for you.

The weekend ended with a Dark Knight viewing in Carson City with Team Ashland, then Jenn and I finally opened Tonya's sweet goodie bag, before the long drive home.

Some day I'll figure out this stomach thing.

Huge congrats to first time 100 finishers: Matt Nahorniak, Todd Temple, Scott Leonard, and Gretchen Brugman.


Saturday, July 12, 2008


Skaggs at Hardrock...WOW! 23:23:30.

Enough said.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

WS-turned-Training Camp Weekend Recap

Since WS was cancelled, some friends and I, all of whom were supposed to be at WS either racing, crewing, or pacing, did a sweet little impromptu training camp.

Thursday, June 26: Kami, Prudence, and I ran the Paulina Peak / Newberry Crater 39 mile loop. This was only my second time doing the whole thing, and it is sweet! We had a nice 9 mile uphill warmup to the Crater, then gained a lot of vertical in a short time, and lost the trail on lots of snow, going up to Paulina Peak. The views from the top are awesome! As we continued around the loop, I was an idiot and didn't take care of myself - who really needs to take s-caps or eat much on a 39 miler? So the girls definitely put the hurt on me, but were nice enough to occasionally wait. Of course I puked a few times out there, too. My saving grace was the Pepsi and chips with 9 miles to go. I got a sweet sugar rush and used that to my advantage, running as fast as I could for as long as possible before the inevitable crash came. And come it did, with about 3 miles to go I was once again jogging. But I still finished a long, fun day in the mountains with two super nice, and super fast, girls.

Friday, June 27: Prudence, Susannah, and I ran the 27 mile Ochocos Marathon (perhaps you remember mine and Sascha's adventure there in early May). We had absolutely zero snow to contend with, to go along with 20 great singletrack miles and 7 kinda painful paved miles. The initial climb up Round Mountain was good for all of us, then Prudence cranked the semi-technical singletrack going down. Next came the pounding of the pavement, but at the bottom was a great creek for soaking in before the long climb up Lookout Mtn. Prudence's toes got hammered at Paulina on Thursday, and all of the downhill so far from Round Mtn. weren't helping. So she unfortunately had to turn back on the climb up Lookout and wait by the creek (her toes were bad!). Once on top of Lookout, it was down a few more miles back to the car. Waiting for us there were Tonya, Chris, and Darla, who would be joining us for the weekend in the Strawberry Wilderness Area.

But before we got to the Strawberries, we picked up Prudence, soaked and cleaned off in the creek, then had an adventurous drive on a long and pretty gravel road to Mitchell. Upon arriving in Mitchell, Susannah immediately got a flat tire in her van. Chris stepped up and changed the tire while the rest of us went in the little cafe and ordered dinner. Their bacon cheeseburger is really good, and the fries were super greasy with lots of salt...mmmm! It was late by now, so we decided to camp in the very cool Mitchell City Park with a whole lot of Harley dudes and chicks. Despite the loud music that lasted pretty late, they were cool.

Saturday, June 28: I had planned on a 3:30 wake-up call for Susannah, Prudence, and me (to mimic our WS wake-up), but the late night music shot that idea. We eventually all got up and had a good breakfast at the little cafe, said hi to Henry the black bear (if you ever go to Mitchell, you must do this), then continued on to the Strawberries.

We pulled into the Strawberry Campground around noon, found a nice campsite, set up camp, then pulled out a map to decide where to run. Prudence decided to take the day off to give her feet a break, so she hiked the 1.5 miles up to Strawberry Lake to hangout on the beach with a book for the day. So Tonya, Susannah, Chris, Darla, and I decided on a 13 mile loop up to Strawberry Mountain. Going up was great for a while, until we hit the snow. We hopelessly lost the trail, but decided to keep on plugging. We just basically aimed for the peak, going cross country over lots of snow and up a rocky talus slope until we eventually hooked up with the trail again. On top of Strawberry Mtn (9,053'), we had cool views of the Wallowas in northeastern Oregon, and much of the rest of the Strawberry Wilderness Area. It's beautiful. As we headed down, we decided to take a different route back. One problem - that route was also buried under snow on the upper, north-facing parts. So we used our trail finding skills of looking for the notches cut-out of trees until we found the trail (this was a great learning experience for Darla and Tonya!). Once back on trail, we had a long, sweet, technical ride through an old burn back down to the trailhead. It was fun. We got spit out on a gravel road about 1 1/4 miles below camp. Hm, we could either curse it and jog slowly up, or we could hammer. I chose option 2 and threw the bone out for Susannah and Chris. They both bit. I won't say who topped out first, but I will say it was a cool way to end a fun afternoon on the trails.

Back at camp, we found out that the flies at Strawberry Lake had different plans for Prudence. And her badly blistered feet and toes weren't getting any better. So with a big 40 mile pacing duty for Betsy Nye at Hardrock in two weeks, Prudence reluctantly decided to head back to the big city (Bend) for the rest of the weekend.

The other five of us feasted on a big dinner of spaghetti and lots of other stuff we all had and just threw in. Tonya, however, produced the food-hit of the weekend when she pulled out her Deluxe S'mores stuff - marshmellows, graham crackers, and Reese's peanut butter cups! Oh baby, I was excited!!

Sunday, June 29: Chris and I had both looked at the map to scout out a 20ish miler and we both found the same loop, so it was an easy choice on what to run. Today's group was the same as yesterday's: Susannah, Tonya, Darla, Chris, and me, and we finally got an early start, at 10:10! After a nice initial climb that included 1,000' in a mile, we got on some singletrack that just very rarely gets used. The trail was overgrown and little bushes were even starting to grow on the trail itself. It was cool. After climbing over a ridge, we got into a burn area. We went in and out of the burn a couple times until we dropped into a valley where we were in a big burn again. We immediately lost the trail and spent almost 1/2 hour finding it. Those burned trees do a good job of hiding the trail. We then kept losing the trail every so often as we would hit another big burned area. Eventually, we got out of the burn and into the snow, which, of course, meant more lost trail. Looking up to the sky wasn't good at this point either - a storm was brewing. We consulted the map, figured where we were and where we wanted to go, saw the trail again across a mostly snow-covered valley, and headed cross country for the trail. We weren't back on the trail long before more snow covered it again. With feet already soaked, we decided to just follow a creek that paralled the trail down to where the trail popped out again. We eventually found bare ground for good and began racing the storm down the mountain. With 2 fast downhill miles to go, Chris and I decided to race each other. I took the initial lead and made it difficult for him to go around (nice, wide elbows), but I swear he must have untied my shoe because I soon noticed my lace flopping around. Crap! I stopped to tie as Chris flew around me and on down to the trailhead. The jerk could have at least waited for me.

We all had a nice soak in the creek at the finish, chowed down some wraps, then decided a visit to the John Day DQ was in order. Oh baby, after a weekend of 100 tough miles, a big, fat Peanut Buster Parfait is good eatin'!

On the way home Tonya helped me figure out some of the features on my cell phone. For those of you that don't know, this is my first trip into the world of cell phones. I finally decided to ditch my land-line and go all cell. Yes, it was a big step for me. Anyway, it was fun playing with all of the functions, although I found out there's no games on it (I was really hoping for Tetris).

Thanks to Prudence, Kami, Susannah, Tonya, Darla, and Chris for hanging out with me over the weekend. I won't lie, it wasn't the race I was hoping for, but it sure was fun running lots in some of Oregon's beautiful mountains with you all. Thanks for a super-fun weekend, and for helping me stay in shape for the Tahoe Rim Trail 100!