Wednesday, March 19, 2014

blog catch-up...

So when last I left off I had been building towards the Resurrection Pass 100 and was two weeks out, getting ready for my last long run before the taper, the Crow Pass Crossing.

I've run the Crow Pass Crossing three times before with my best time being 5:10 in 2008. This was the year before Geoff Roes broke 3 hours on the course. He is still one of only 2 people who have done so. 2013 was the first time I had run the race since 2009, which was in the days before I ever trained for running so I was excited to set a personal best. I was confident I would even though I wouldn't be running it all out, not wanting to risk injury before my second 100 mile attempt.

The race ended up being sold out and I had to get my bib at the pre-race meeting, claimed from a no show runner. It was a little nerve wracking not knowing till the last minute, but I was pretty sure I would be able to get in. All in all it was a great day. I ran it in 4:34, shaving 36 minutes off my previous best. The awesome thing was that the next day, I didn't even feel the race in my legs at all. Aside from a couple scratches the 25 miles of brutal singletrack hadn't made a dent in my fitness. This was a great confidence booster going into my taper for Res.

Sadly, a second ResPass finish was not to be this year. Cold temperatures, steady rainfall, and washed out trail took a toll on my body. Though I was on pace to better my 25:37 from the previous year, I dropped out at mile 70 with significant lower back pain (from bad form due to the temps) and severely jacked up feet (macerated and blistered from the wetness). I was bummed because I felt fine mentally, felt  fit enough, but had to make the decision to quit, not wanting to incur the damage from another 30 miles of running. Even later that day, apart from my damaged feet, I wasn't feeling any muscle soreness, only the residual lower leg trauma that comes from running for 17 hours.

Any decision to DNF brings with it regret and questions, but I have to believe that I made the right decision and move forward.

In September, I made the journey to Fairbanks to once again run the Equinox Ultramarathon. It is a 40 mile race, held concurrently with the Equinox Marathon and marathon relay. It is by far the largest event I have run. It is around 1000 people and the course utilizes a mix of road and trail. There are several points along the run with lots of spectators and so all day there is a great energy on the course, at least until mile 20 when the ultra course turns away from the marathon course. At that point it definitely feels like a typical ultra where you run alone a lot and maybe only see a couple other runners.

Last year I had run this course in 8:28. This year my goal was to break 8 hours. I hooked up with Brandon Wood and his friend Marty early in the race and we ran together most of the first 20 miles. Running with friends makes the miles really fly by and this day was no different. At mile 20 the course hits a 3 mile dirt road stretch that I remembered really struggling with the previous year. I decided to just put my head down and hoof it. This worked well and I briefly lost my companions. It was short lived however and at the next aid station I regrouped with them, but our party had grown from three runners to five. It would get as large as six I think before we started to spread out again. We yo-yo'd about two miles before we hit a singletrack section and I took off. I was feeling good and just started to stretch my legs. I ended up keeping a good pace for the next ten miles, cruising the second out and back that I had struggled on last year. In the last four miles I really started to push it. I wanted to break 8 hours, bad, and knew I had to keep up the pace. I ran the last three miles in just under thirty minutes, with a 8:45 final mile. I was surprised that I could push that kind of pace after almost 40 miles of running. I finished in 7:54.44. My brother-in-law, who had travelled with me, ran Equinox as his first marathon ever and posted a time of 3:32, which was good for 11th place! He is crazy talented.

After the summer/fall of racing I took a couple months easy, because I was anticipating racing a couple of my first winter ultras. I'll write those up next time.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Best summer ever?!

I would probably have to say best AND busiest. Since the last post a lot has happened. Rapid fire style:

-1 week trip in CO coaching soccer, which actually felt like a paid running tour for me. Ran in the Springs, Golden, and the great Flatirons behind Boulder.

-Closed on our new home and moved in, well kind of. True Hinshaw style we are ripping everything out and putting new in: carpet, hardwood floor, removing popcorn ceilings, new paint - EVERYTHING MUST GO! Gonna be great when it's finished though...

-Moving day was followed immediately by a 1 week guiding trip through the Chugach, Wrangell-St.Elias Nat. park, and Valdez.

-4 days in Seward for the 4th of July. Met one of my running heroes, Rickey Gates. Saw him smash the 32 year old record, but get 2nd to local phenom Eric Strabel.

-Ran my first 'road' marathon, the Hatcher Pass Marathon. 4000 feet of climbing over the course with the only downhill being the last 1.5 miles.

-Tons of time with the family in the great Alaskan Summer. It has truly been un-freaking-believable! 70's and low 80's even, day after sunny day. Plenty of time to play and just hang out with my amazing wife and boys.

-Lot's of big runs in the mountains preparing for my second 100 miler, which is only 2 weeks from today!!! Freaks me out but I think I'm ready. My training this summer though possibly lacking in overall volume, has been made up for with overall quality. I feel strong on big runs, without any real recovery time necessary even after tough outings. I think it is healthy though that I am scared at the prospect of running 100 miles again. It will happen, and it will again be one of the coolest things I have done.

Crow Pass Crossing tomorrow and then the taper. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Yes, that's right. It is officially summer. The weekend of the 18th saw fresh snow, but the weekend of the 25th was 70˚. It happens that fast up here. In the whirlwind that was the last 3 weeks I have finished another season of coaching high school soccer, completed another year teaching high school, changed to my new school, packed up 2/3 of our home, and squeezed in some great runs, not as many as I should at this point in the training schedule, but you get it in where you can fit it in.

Here are the totals for the weeks:
3:29, 21.31miles, 2805'
(not a great week, but we'll call it a mini taper)

7:22, 40.08miles, 5351'
(decent, included an uphill race and a great run in the heat)

8:00, 32.74miles, 4715'
(ok but should have been better)

The highlight of the last several weeks is two-fold: getting off school, which gives me tons of time w/ my amazing family (wife and 2 boys), and some great 70˚+ weather. We had 4-5 days of extreme sunshine for this time of year. It easily erased both the standing water in my yard and the memories of a horrible spring.

On May 23rd I ran Kal's Knoya Ridge Run. The conditions were poor on the trail with so much mud my legs were caked by the time it was over and I had to shower with my shoes on so I could see to untie them. I bested my last year's time by 2 minutes, which placed me in the top 25 of a race for the first time ever. It was my best finish with 33rd overall. I ran comfortably hard the entire race and was able to pass 3 people in the final climb. Pretty happy with the effort as I also ran back down afterwards at a decent clip to make it an all around training run. My buddy Jared ran this as well so it was a fun day out.

Two days later I ran a great 13 mile run up into the front range of the Chugach from my house in the heat of the day. Great training as you never know what race day will hold.

Last week was ok with 3 decent runs, 2 of them being a hard and long-ish. On Wed. I ran up Wolverine Peak, an almost 5 mile climb followed by 5 quad busting, toe bashing miles back down. It's always great to tag a summit though. I left the trailhead a little after 8:40 and it was 73˚ and sunny. This run was completed 'Ashland style' ie. shirtless. It was awesome to be out peakbagging late in the day without the crowds, the mountain almost to myself. There were some sketchy muddy sections on the descent but I cruised through without a hitch.

2 days later I hit the historic Crow Pass Trail for what I planned to be 24 miles from the Eagle River Nature Center out to the river crossing and back. Crow Pass is a prime example of brutal singletrack trail. Twisty, rocky, rooty? yes. Thorns, blowdown, widow makers? check. River and streams crossings? yes. Moose and bear danger? You betcha. It is the complete Alaskan Trail experience. In fact, if you crave this experience you can race in the Crow Pass Crossing, a 25 mile crossing held each July. Anyway, I love training on this trail because rarely is a trail rougher, so if you can feel comfortable cruising here, anywhere else will feel tame. The only thing the trail from the Nature Center lacks is lots of elevation gain.

I was running along, making decent time when I rounded a corner and SCRUNNCH! my left ankle rolls outside onto itself. Yowch! Unfortunately but fortunately this happens about once a year. Unfortunate bc now I was 8 miles out on the trail and would have to get back. Fortunate bc once I worked through the shock, pain, and disappointment, I would probably be able to ease back into running by the end. Each time this happens it feels like a major injury, but usually I can run again after walking then jogging for a bit. This time it didn't feel like this would be the case so grabbing a branch for a crutch and turning around I called it a day and began to gingerly limp back to the Nature Center. The further I went to more it loosened and by the end of the run I was once again clocking 9:30s down the final 2 miles of trail, albeit on an unsteady ankle. In addition to the ankle roll I whacked my head on an overhanging log and got quite a knot. I also came home with scratches all over my arms and legs. Once again the Crow Pass trail had chewed me up and spit me out, but I feel tougher for it.

Now into the next week...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

spring is here! (training week 13)

Officially spring has touched down in Southcentral Alaska. After May 5th's 3 inches of snow in town, the sun has been out regularly, but more importantly the temps aren't dropping below freezing at night anymore. This makes for rapid melting of the remaining snow. The giant piles in parking lots and empty lots is shrinking daily. Roadside clean-up is in full swing and green grass can even be seen in places. Soon the trees will green with buds and then BAM, summertime.

What this means for running is a return to the trails, albeit soggy ones. This week was not my best. The previous week left me with a tweaky calf so I took it easy so as not to make a tweak become an injury, and it largely worked.

Tuesday morning's 'run' was spent on the bike logging a quick but hilly 8 miles. Wednesday I made my first pilgrimage up Flattop Mountain, Alaska's most climbed peak. Early morning temps kept the snow crusty and dangerous. Though mildly tempted by the glissade tracks off the peak, it only took one look at the slope to determine, "I don't want to die today." The initial slope off of the top is 60˚ and the snow could best be described as razor blades on concrete, so I gingerly backtracked down the kicked steps to the top. Even though the entire run was snow covered, my up time was only 2 min. slower than my record up time, set on a dry trail. It was great to bag a peak before most people were awake for the day. Thursday I headed out to Turnagain Arm Trail for 5 miles on singletrack. It was exhilarating to be back on a wooded, snow free trail. Though muddy in parts the miles ticked off quickly and left me recharged back at the truck. My thoughts turned to Resurrection Pass and my desire to be physically and mentally ready to break 24 hrs. on that run.

The weekend was packed, so pushing Saturday's long run to Sunday AM was a no brainer. However as the weekend developed into Sat. night something wasn't right. It hit 2am Sunday morning as my wife, my 5yo son, and I began to spend the next several hours dueling with a nasty flu bug. Put simply it wasn't pretty. Our single bathroom was a war zone and the next day was spent drowsing groggily and playing movie after movie for the boys as that was all my wife and I could do without passing out. Monday I took off work to recover and yesterday's run was bypassed as well. Today, after 5 days without a run I'm feeling rested, recovered, and ready to roll. Tonight's agenda is a run-dinner-run sandwich for 13+ miles. Gotta get it where I can fit it.

2:45, 20.28 miles (only 7 running), 3035'

 My boys get their ride on at the Charity Walk, a fundraiser for the high school team I coach. It's like a carnival for free. Z's first time on a horse. Yeehaw!

My 2013 Yearbook Staff celebrating the end of the year at the Moose's Tooth. This is most likely my last yearbook as next year I am taking a new job teaching Photography at King Career Center. I love yearbook and love all the kids I've had on staff. Gonna miss 'em.

My little man and his cousin at the inaugural Cougar Kickers Soccer Camp. A one day camp to give back to the community on our brand new turf facility. Shirts designed by yours truly. Sweet!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

the animals are testy (training week12)

We are in the process of buying a new house and that plus coaching, kids, and training makes for a busy spring. So this week was a little mellow bc as soon as I decided I wouldn't be running Sluicebox, I slept in the next day. However the day after that I hit the track for some speedwork. This time I pumped out some 400 meter repeats after a 4 mile warm-up.

The weekend back to back (b2b) was a tough one. I ran the first on Sat., heading out at 9:30pm. Running that late after a long day was difficult, but I got out and got it done. My left calf was a little tweaky, so the next day I cut the planned run by about 25%, running at 8pm Sun. night.

So beside all of the fun spring weather in Alaska, this is also the time when one has to really be alert for wildlife. Seagulls are beginning to bully the Ravens from their winter haunts; the bears are awake and hungry, lumbering through the cities outskirts in search of food; and the moose are either calving, browsing their first spring alone, or feeling the effects or burgeoning manhood. The later is what I encountered on my run Sat. night. I was running down Campbell Airstrip Rd which is on the east side of Anchorage and flanked on either side by parklands. A largish bull moose appeared who was giving me the stink eye from first glance. I stopped and he took a couple steps toward me. I retreated back up the road a bit and he reluctantly crossed. Even though he was 30-40 yds away any time I made a move he would whip his head around and size me up. After a few minutes I realized I would not be able to get past this guy on my own. I waved down the next car and asked if they could drive between me and the moose as I ran by. The obliged and as I passed I was glad I hadn't tried to pass alone. As we came alongside him he lowered his head, stamped the ground, and did a couple of 360s. He was pissed! I think he really wanted at me. The driver of the car commented out his window, "He's not very happy!" which was putting it lightly. The rest of the run went off without a hitch but I'm ready for the upper elevations to melt out so that I can return to the woods with a bit more confidence as the animals move up into summer feeding grounds. It's coming, slowly but surely.

5:37, 32.44miles, 2129'

Thursday, May 2, 2013

change of plans/rolling on (training week 11)

I'm into the 40 miles a week range and I'm feeling good about the running. Spring is always such a busy time with wrapping up the school year, coaching soccer, and family goings on. Add to that selling and buying a house this spring and I feel fortunate to have been able to carve out the time to get the runs in. It helps immensely to have a supportive spouse and lots of daylight this time of year. Most of my runs are in the early AM and this time of year there is light whether I run at 5:30am or 9:30pm, which really helps as I don't like to take time away from the family.

Health wise I'm injury free with just minor tightness after runs in the usually places, but really no muscle soreness, even after multihour efforts. I have also really been testing myself as far as running in all conditions. The 20 miler long run on Saturday was first thing in the AM with no food since the night before and I didn't bring any food/water on the run. It went off without a hitch: plenty of energy and no issues. Followed that up with a 10 miler Sunday at 9pm after a long day with the family and immediately after a BBQ. Completely opposite conditions but the run was great. Managed 9:16 pace with a ton of climbing thrown in. Sweet.

So for changes: I am not going to be doing Sluicebox 100 in June. I'm bummed, but it is the right choice. Too many things were stacking up against it: cost, moving/remodeling, week long guiding trip right up to the day before...just isn't right for this year. I look forward to doing it next year though. My big races then will be ResPass 100, where I will try to break 24 hours, and Equinox Ultra (40 miles). I am also planning on adding the Hatcher Pass Marathon to my schedule, which I couldn't do before because it was the week before Sluicebox. It will be my first official 'road' marathon. The course is up and over Hatcher Pass on a gravel/dirt road. Should be great.

Had I known I wouldn't be doing Sluicebox I would have put my name in the lottery for Mt. Marathon in Seward on the 4th of July. This storied race sees runners climbing from sea level to 3022' and back on a super technical trail, 40˚ incline much of the way. One of my favorite trail runners, Ricky Gates, will be running it this year and it would have been awesome to participate at the same time, but's all good.

As we keep rolling on towards summer, I'm getting stoked!

April 22-28
7:34, 43.89m, 2110'

day2 pub run
day4 speedwork - pyramids on the track, 100-400 and down then 100-200. then my IT got tight
day7 great 10 mile

all my workouts can be found at movescount search for worm.

My boys are too fun!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Is it spring yet? (training week 10)

Finally, towards the end of last week we started to see some sun, warmer overnight temps, and some legitimate melting! I think it is actually spring. The trails are crunchy and rough in the mornings and soft and wet in the afternoons. I have been sticking to the roads/multiuse paths lately to get my time in. I am still struggling with motivation to run but it is getting better. This week I switched my long runs back to Sat/Sun and it was much better, not having to stress about trying to fit it in on Friday.

7:01, 40.89, 2505'
day2: doubled up with am run and pm pub run
day3: cold one
day4: convinced myself in the am that I would run in the evening and slept in. the run didn't happen that day.
day6: good 21.5 mile long run. took it easy and felt great the next day
day7: cranked out 8 miles on the dreadmill in the evening bc the day got away from me

So not much excitement but life is filled with the in-between.

 I teach yearbook at Service High School. They came in on Wed and are LEGIT! Students are really digging it this year. Cover design/photos by yours truly.
 Seniors at our school get to participate in "Senior Fun Day." They get breakfast at school then bussed to Kincaid Park for a BBQ, Karaoke, hanging out, prizes, inflatable games, and all around good times. Here's a photo strip of me with a couple of my students. We gots our stunna shades on.
Baby Z turned 2 on Sunday. What an amazing little guy. He really is our miracle baby. So much fun wrapped up in one little hurricane of emotion and activity. I wouldn't want it any other way.