Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pedestrian Commute

The pedestrian commuter awakens to a fresh blanket of snow. He prepares himself for the commute, accounting for the still falling snow and chilly temps. He knows if he wears too much he will overheat during his human powered endeavor. However, if he wears too little the blowing snow and cold will work its way in.

He sets off and everything is new. The blanket of white refreshes the path he has covered countless times before. It is a joy to propel oneself through this renewed winter landscape.
The commuter often sets out earlier than most and finds his path trackless, unhindered by ice, punchy holes, or vehicular commuters.

If the commuter is lucky, a portion of his route may be on trails that wind through the city, or at least multi-use paths leading to businesses or bus stops. Arriving to work energized, the commuter smiles internally at the amount he has accomplished while many of his co-workers slept, or mindlessly drove to work in their isolation capsules. The pedestrian commuter has already embraced the day and the world he lives in, and feels better for it.

After work he prepares again for the homeward journey, looking forward to his built in decompression period. As he makes his way he is soon reminded that the pedestrian commute is an afterthought of city planners and road maintenance crews. The fluffy, pleasant path he travelled on the way in is now covered with several extra inches of dense, plowed road snow. On foot, the commuter soon encounters numb feet, tired legs, and degenerating morale. If he has travelled by bike he is now forced with a decision, trudge through on the now unrideable paths, or risk his life by riding on the freshly plowed street with traffic.

The human powered pedestrian commuter knows that he will face this same dilemma for the next several days. His route will be slow going and difficult until snow removal crews finally clear his paths. The isolationist commuter, wrapped by several thousand pounds of climate controlled steel, glass, and plastic will blissfully travel to work, blinded by his own convenience. The paths have been made clear for him, without regard to the expense of his pedestrian brother.

Are there accommodations that could be made to encourage the pedestrian commuter? Are there compromises to snow removal that would not hinder his progress though the urban landscape? He hopes that someday there will be, but today he just continues down the path he's chosen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

peak 2: first tracks

went out today for some backcountry snowboarding. not too far backcountry; frontcountry is how i typically refer to it as it is the front range of the Chugach that frames the Anchorage bowl. we finally got snow in town this past weekend, Sunday night specifically, even though the mountains have been covered for a week now. snow in town means more up high and with what promised to be better coverage i figured that i could get some first tracks in at best, at worst do some conditioning for getting first tracks later in the season.

looking up from the pullout it didn't look super promising. decent drifts on the lower part of the slope but up high i could see a lot of exposed rocks. i started up in snowshoes anyway hoping for the best. as i climbed i watched for a line that would allow me to ride from the top of the peak. at about the 2/3 point though i considered ditching the board as all i could see on the top third of the peak were rocks. a little more climbing and i realized that i could connect the upper part of the peak two bowl with the deeper drifts i had been hiking up through, but the peak itself had little snow. i decided to tag the top anyway.
the view from the top of peak two looking south into the powerline valley is one of my favs. from left to right you can see The Ramp, The Wedge, Avalanche Peak, and Ptarmigan Peak. i had to downclimb from this point to connect to the open snow a little lower in the bowl.

Jackson (the dog) wasn't sure what was up as i unloaded my board and strapped in. he whined and paced nervously. i assured him everything would be fine, just not to run in front of me. we had an almost unfortunate event 2 winters ago the first time i took him backcountry riding. he had his paws almost sliced off when he abruptly stopped in front of me as i was going full throttle downhill. i ended up completely yard-saleing in an attempt to avoid him that time. this time however he heeded my warning and kept a good distance to one side or the other, only once cutting in front of me on a slower section.

the ride down was decent, not great for snow conditions but great to be getting a first run of the season in. as i picked my way down i attempted to connect the deeper drifted areas to make a continuous downhill run. it worked for the most part, i only heard my snowboard base scrape rocks a handful of times.
nothing like an early season run to get your blood pumping, legs aching, and beard freezing. made me appreciative of the mess of wiry hair matter blanketing my baby face. i would've had some serious wind/snow burn otherwise. thank heavens for no-shave November, and thank God for SNOW!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

a winter affair

it started innocently enough, just a casual visit to see what it was like. but i keep coming back. i'm drawn in by the beauty and just that it's different. i'm talking about the Wolverine Bowl.

my first couple runs after my recent injury were too familiar, a couple loops in the BLM, backside of Flat Top...say i'm taking it for granted but it's the same ol' thing. so last Tuesday when the snow hit the front range of the Chugach i hit the Prospect Heights trailhead.

it was so new and fresh. the combination of running again, new snow, and the non-familiar drew me back up on Saturday. i had searched online for new trails in the bowl, i found one and ran it with eager excitement. the Wolverine Bowl loop has become my new favorite quick run.

i was back for more today, tackling Wolverine Peak. i've been up before in the summer but it's a different world in the snow. i was making good time till i hit the spine that leads to the ridge. the higher i climbed, the more the wind howled. it got so bad that when a gust tore through i would put my back to it and hunker down. Jackson, who is always bounding ahead would cower behind me and whine when the gusts hit. i'm no expert on guaging wind but i would guess 60-70 mph easy. it got so bad that i had to turn around right below the main ridge, about 1 mile and 1000 feet shy of the summit.

when i made the turn Jackson took off down the spine like, "finally, Dad got some sense blown into him." it was funny to see him bound away through the snow. running down i felt like i was floating most of the way. i took short steps with rapid turnover, which is completely opposite of how i ran before the injury. what had taken 1:22 to get up took only :47 to get down.

great outing with no wind burn or frozen digits. i'm already planning my next rendezvous.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

welcome winter

as i began to run from the prospect heights trailhead, i knew it was going to be a good day. the air was still, calm, and filled with un-fallen snow, the kind of snow that hangs in the air above you with the promise of a future blanket of white. the snow had previously fallen on the hillside, evidenced by the ribbon of trail before me that was soft, white, and untrodden, except for when Jackson would sprint ahead of me. my destination was Near Point.

the run was enjoyable, my first long-ish mountain run since my ankle injury. as i ran up the trail, continuously gaining elevation, the snow deepened. when i finally emerged from the trees and hit the exposed ridge there were drifts of snow about 10" deep. i was following the tracks of another runner now, Hugh, who had passed me lower down. i was appreciative of his footprints because this was only the second time i had made this ascent and the trail was entirely invisible at this point. if one looks closely in the picture you can make out Hugh on the way down.
i was still thoroughly enjoying myself even though my legs and ankles ached in weird places as dormant fibers fired in succession to propel me up the mountain. when i reached the top it was anti-climatic, the sky and snow blending the surroundings into almost zero invisibility. i could tell it was the top only by the slight rounding of the snow drift into a downhill aspect. we snapped a summit shot, i layered up, and we headed down.i shot this on the way down just because of how gorgeous it was. the current BEP song "Tonight's Gonna Be a Good Night" kept running through my head. it was completely applicable because i knew that after this amazing run i would see my wife and son, later go to a Bible study, and even later attend the Warren Miller opening...good night indeed!

when i reached the car the weather had deteriorated, with the promised snow now falling. it had taken a little under 2 hours to cover the 7 or so miles. i had welcomed winter at the peak of Near Point, what kind of winter will it be? probably a good one.

Friday, October 23, 2009

no planes fly on Thursdays...

or so it seemed yesterday as i ascended the backside of Flat Top. after 3 weeks in a boot to heal the tendonitis in my left ankle, i have spent this week testing it a bit. Tuesday i ran an easy mile and a half, followed by a couple hundred yards of barefoot running and yesterday headed up Flat Top.

i'm taking the 'shoes are evil' approach in trying to build my foot/arch strength. this is in direct opposition to what the doctor told me i should do, which is to always have my foot in a shoe with custom made orthotics. after much research i really believe that our feet are designed in such a way that they work best naturally, but years of 'supportive' footwear has softened them to the point that they don't know how to do this. by going barefoot as much as possible, wearing minimalist shoes, and barefoot running i think i can get them to perform better than they ever have. there is tons of info on this online. the bestselling book "Born to Run" is another good starting point for research on the subject, and is also a great read.

but back to Flat Top...about 15 minutes into the hike i noticed how deafeningly quiet it was. it was surreal and i wondered at why. then it hit me, there was no air traffic. typically planes are flying directly over the ridge line on their approach to the airport, passing overhead every 10-15 minutes. but i guess not on Thursdays.

it was magnificent. the sun was struggling to break through the clouds as a light wind blew in the 40˚ air. i strode strongly up the mountain, wondering how much of my fitness i had lost during my forced inactivity. not much in the way of cardio i discovered as i hit the top in a record time for me, 24 minutes. my previous best had been 28. the way down though was a different story as my quads turned to jello half way down and i was forced to walk because my stride was uncontrollable and sloppy. still managed to lop 30 seconds off my best time down with an overall time of 37:30.

report today is no tendon pain, praise God, only sore quads.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

above the clouds

yesterday we had cloud cover in Anchorage all day, and i mean in Anchorage literally...there was a ground fog covering everything all day long. it is not uncommon for a low cloud cover to settle in, but a ground fog all over town is a first for me in 13 years of living here.

i decided to try and get above the clouds by driving up towards Glen Alps trailhead. i knew it was a long shot as the cloud layer is typically around 2500-2800 feet and the trailhead parking lot is around 2200 i think.

when i got there i was still in the clouds, but i noticed the krumholz in the corner of the parking lot. sometimes it's not always best to get where you're trying to go.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

the little boy and the worm

once upon a time there was a little boy. he was a very content little boy and there were many things that made him happy. one of those things that made him happy was discovering new things in the great wide world outside of his house. mommy and daddy called it the backyard, but to the little boy it was the whole world.
one day he was playing outside after the cool rains of fall had washed the earth. as he romped around the yard he looked down and discovered something he had never seen before. it was long and shiny and wriggled across the wet ground. being an adventurous little boy, he did not hesitate to make friends with it.
reaching down he gently grasped the thing by the tail and lifted it up. "what's this?" he asked, but his new friend made no reply. hmm, thought the boy as the friend wiggled in his hand. i have never seen anything like this, maybe it wants to play.
the little boy had all sorts of adventures in mind for he and his new little friend, but first maybe it wanted to slide. the boy place the worm on the top of the slide, but the worm just sat there. maybe it was scared because the slide was so big, the little boy thought to himself.
the little boy thought that maybe his new friend would prefer something lower to the ground. he spied the teeter totter out in the yard and took the worm over to it. "here you go," he proclaimed, placing his friend on one end of the totter.
"right here," he emphasized to his new friend. the worm slowly wriggled back and forth across the seat as the boy delightfully gave it rides up and down. after a while, the worm seemed to be tiring of the teeter totter. the little boy picked up the worm and brought it near. "you go in there" the little boy told his friend, thinking it needed some encouragement, but the worm seemed to say it'd had enough fun for one day.the little boy decided that maybe it was time for his new friend to go back to where it lived in the leaves. he looked around and around and found some other wriggly friends. he placed it down as he said, "bye bye, night night."

what a great day in the wide world, and what a great adventure.

Friday, September 4, 2009

summer recap

the summer came and went; fast, furious, and fun. one of the best on (my) record weather-wise. i'll present some highlights as it would be mind boggling to try and go back and remember all the awesomeness.

it was amazing to only work minimally this summer. only guided one trip, coached on a 5 day nw college tour, and reffed a couple nights a week. what was amazing was the time i was able to spend with my wife and child. waking up each day and having the entire day to play in the sunshine with them was the #1 highlight of my summer. that being said, here are some more rapid fire:

14 mile run on the Kenai's long lake trail, which parallels the lost lake trail near Seward.

10 mile run to Eagle/Symphony Lakes in the south fork valley. awesome swim in Symphony. 86˚ temperature when i returned to the truck.

8 mile rabbit lake run.

ran the Crow Pass Crossing for the third time. though it was my worst time yet, i learned much from this race and was blown away by what is possible, ie. Geoff Roes' sub 3 hours, wowzer! next year i may even train seriously for this event.

camping and canoeing at a 'secret' spot for the 12th anniversary of marriage to my sweetpea, Tiffany.

swimming in the kiddie pool with my little guy.

northwest college tour with the Alaska Northstars select soccer team. we hit 9 colleges in 5 days, from Seattle to Portland and back.

guiding another awesome Kenai Multisport trip for The World Outdoors. a sampling of some of the best day trips on the Kenai.

....this is what i can think of right now. fun times, great summer.

and oh yeah, i'm injured again. it'll heal though, just no running for a while.

Monday, June 22, 2009

the bird ridge race...

officially known as the Robert Spurr Memorial Hill Climb, occurred yesterday. there were roughly 250 racers who took off in three waves. the first wave was made up of competitive racers who expected to finish in under 50 minutes. the second wave was for those who thought they would finish in 45-65 minutes. the third wave was for the youth racers who would be racing to the halfway point (a new addition to the race this year) and for all other racers who were out to run at whatever speed they liked.

being my first attempt at this race i situated myself near the front of the second wave, taking off 5 minutes after the first wave. going into the race i had no idea about what kind of time to expect. i've only been to the very top of the ridge (the race's end) once (in the winter) but i'm pretty familiar with the lower trail. i set my sights on 1-3 hours. i was pretty certain i would fall within this time frame.

i was able to stay near the front of the pack for the first 25 minutes or so but began slowing down after that. about 40 minutes in there was only one guy directly in front of me and a woman about 80 yards behind me. this became my race: to pass the guy in front of me and not let the woman behind pass. a small world, but a manageable one.

the weather was cold; raining and blowing on the ridge. that sort of weather is able to isolate a person even when other runners are in sight. i focused on one steep step at a time, head down, pushing into the wind that pushed back against my right side and drove frozen rain straight through my apparel and into my skin. it was especially easy to fall into the trance while on sections of the open ridge where the wind steadily howled, pulling at my number and causing the windshirts of racers ahead of me to flap loudly and violently. i tried my best to ignore the cold until i had the odd sensation of losing feeling in my chest. it was strange but from above my stomach to below my neck i couldn't feel anything except the tightness of my breath.

at about 50 minutes in i began to see the race leaders on their way down. typically the winners finish in around 40 minutes or so and as they began to trickle by some gave encouraging words, others a smile, and still others passed with arms wrapped tightly around themselves and glassy stares. the cold had taken it's toll on some runners. my brother-in-law reported that his time was "terrible" as he passed me on his way down. i asked what was up and as his voice blended into the wind behind me all i heard was something about the cold.

i turned my focus ahead and felt strong as the trail's angle started to lessen. i by no means have any kind of illusion that i will be competitive in these races. i do it for the sole purpose that i want to see what my body and mind are capable of. that, and the camaraderie of the trail running community. right before the false summit a down climbing racer encouraged "right over this this rise it flattens out and you can jog again." unless you've been power hiking uphill for almost an hour you may not realize how much of an encouragement that is. at this point, any leg movement other than the single leg squats you've been doing is welcomed. it did 'flatten', meaning become less vertical than it was, and i was able to air out my legs a bit.

i had passed the guy that was in front of me on a similar short section several minutes ago and no was focused on an older woman in front of me that had passed me much earlier in the race on a steeper section. i wasn't going to pass her in these last 100 yards or so to the endpoint, that's just bad form, but i did want to catch her. i did in the last short climb and we finished roughly together with a time of 1:08 something...

the official results will be posted here at some point.

i took a shot of gu. guzzled a bit of water that someone offered at the top as i hadn't brought any, and began the hike down. i sipped on a can of Coors Light that had been handed to me at the summit with a declaration of "Happy Solstice!" oh yeah, this is not only Father's Day but also the longest day of the year was my thought as i had received it. heading down i now did my part to encourage the racers still coming up: staying out of their way and shouting words to spur them on. i poured out the remainder of the beer and put the crushed can in my pocket. this wasn't because i didn't want it but because i couldn't really feel my fingers. well, i could feel them but they felt like frozen hot dogs. i attempted to re-warm them and continued down. the rest of the way down was uneventful, just a slow slog on tired legs.

overall the race was exactly what i had imagined going into it. on the way up it hurt terribly, upon finishing there was that sense of elation, and then coming down i wished it would end quickly. though it wasn't the sunny version of the race i envisioned, it was just as well. another AK experience recorded in my mind and body.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

rabbit lake

the clouds hung low over the peaks of the front range of the Chugach, as my trusty trail running companion and i headed back towards Rabbit Lake for a training run. because of the weather there was one thing i knew for sure, i wouldn't be overheated, but there were other issues in my mind as i began down the trail.

it has been a busy couple of weeks and this was my first serious run since o'malley. i knew that i would still be able to run the 8 miles to Rabbit Lake and back, but didn't know how i would feel afterward. i am also nursing a pulled leg muscle that throbbed with every step. but the weather was great for running and i quickly settled into a groove on the initial 2 mile climb.

as we leveled off the view of the suicide peaks came into sight. typically this is where one would get a view of the tops of these impressive peaks, but not today. just a snowy headwall and the far-off view of the last rise one climbs before dropping down to the lake.
it is a gradual, rocky uphill trail from the halfway point, and we arrived at the lake in under an hour. there was one tent on the northern shore and the lake was as beautiful as always. i've visited the lake in sun, wind, rain, and snow and it always impresses me with it's alpine beauty.

we only stuck around long enough to eat a granola bar and snap a picture, it was a 'training' run after all. bouncing back down the trail was much easier as it is all slightly downhill on the way out. we passed a couple of hikers on the way and exchanged pleasantries. it's always refreshing to me that the further you are back on a trail, or the rougher the country, the nicer the people are that you encounter. i venture that if you saw the same people in the grocery store you'd get the same responses.

the weather held on the way out, but i could see sun over parts of anchorage. we made it back to the car in 1:41. a decent time considering i thought it might take 3 hours. another great day mucking about in the Alaskan frontcountry.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Spencer Loop

last night i went on a bike ride. it had been raining lightly and i had been putting off a run but finally convinced myself to get out of the house at about 9pm. had my sights set on Spencer Loop.

Spencer Loop was one time (years ago) rated as one of the top ten trails in some mountain bike publication. i wonder if the person who wrote the article ever rode the trail. it is a great trail if you like double track with long steep climbs and short non-technical descents. i've ridden on parts of Spencer Loop in the past, but this was my first time riding the entire loop. it was the workout i expected.

in fact, even the dog got a workout. he has been 'on loan' recently as we have farmed him out to friends who want a companion on their various runs. he had been up Bird Ridge earlier in the day so a 13 mile bike rode really wore him out.

all in all it was a good outing in spite of the rain, which had gone from a slight drizzle at the beginning of the ride to a substantial soaking by the end. good times.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

O'Malley Peak

yesterday i ran one of my favorite peaks in the front range of the Chugach, O'Malley. having hiked this peak several times i was quite familiar with the trail, but only having run small portions of it i was unsure how it would be as a full trail run. about an 8 mile round trip with 4,000 ft. of climbing it typically takes a day hiker 6-8 hours to complete. my goal was 4 hours. my constant trail companion, Jackson, was along for the run.we started off down the trail a little before noon. it was another gorgeous day in which temperatures would reach near 70˚. i had worn long sleeves thinking that it would offer sun protection as well as warmth if it were windy up high. the shirt was quickly shed on the first climb as the day heated up. legs burning i reached the saddle between Little and False O'Malley and began to run up the ballpark (the large bowl below the main peak).there was a bit of snow to negotiate at the saddle, and again on the lower reaches of the ballpark, but it was to be expected. from this vantage point i thought that leaving the ice ax at home was a mistake as it appeared that the up gully contained a lot of snow. (this wouldn't be the case though as the snow ribbons were easy to negotiate around.) the trail becomes more of a route after turning off at the top of the ballpark and heading up the gully. i pushed hard and reached the top of the gully in under 20 minutes, and 20 minutes after that was standing on the top of O'Malley.the view from the top is amazing as in one direction one sees Anchorage and beyond, and in the other the Chugach range stretches as far as the eye can see. looking down on the east side of the peak one sees sheer cliffs falling away for thousands of feet. Black Lake lies in the shadow of the peak and at this time of year is still mostly frozen and drifted over. it's mind blowing to think that in a couple of weeks the lake will be completely thawed and ready for a chilly mountain swim.
all in all it was an amazing day out. my watch died shortly after reaching the peak so on the way out i had no idea if i was on track for my 4 hour time or not. i pushed hard though, or at least as hard as my legs would let me. coming down the scree and the snow is always fun and easy on the 'ol knees. when i reached the car the clock showed my total time had been 3:04. that was total time so subtracting the 5 or so minutes I spent on top and refilling water bottles at the Campbell creek crossing (i ran out of water on the way back), i figure it was under a 3 hour run. i've got a little sunburn and a few scratches to show for was a blast.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

1st time clamming

today we went clamming, well actually we joined some friends who went clamming and came in on the tail end of the low tide, but we got a few. our friends Brad and Tobi who own the lodge had gone to Ninilchik with a couple more of the crew staying at the lodge, so Tiff, the little guy, Jackson and I piled in the car and met them down there.

they were making their way in but we got on the beach in enough time to dig out 4 clams. I had never clammed before so Tobi instructed me in how it's done. I had two misses but dug out the third one.

it was pretty fun. now having done it we'll probably do it more as the whole family can do it. the little guy even got into it, probing the sand with his dowel, teaching mommy how it's done.

I love AK!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

down on the Kenai...

Soldotna precisely. A bunch of us are out at my buddy's lodge on the Kenai river. it's the opening weekend for King Salmon in Nikiski, an hour down the road. a bunch of the guys got up in the morning (3am ish) to go. they came back after about 30 min. of fishing without any fish. not me...I was snuggled in my bed with Tiff. I definitely made the right choice.

last night the sunset over the Kenai was pretty nice.
ah, Memorial Day Weekend. school's out and summer is getting off to a great start.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

peak 1 and 2

my buddy Jared and I ran peak 1 & 2 last night. our time was right around an hour. it was an awesome night to be out, as has been almost every night for the past 3 weeks. it was Jared's first time on that particular route and he, Jackson (my pound puppy) and I had a great run. I'm feeling strong and good about the upcoming summer. running hurts much less than it ever has for me. I attribute it to the core strengthening I learned in my last round of PT. Thanks Lisa at Healthwise in Eagle River!can you spot Jackson? he kind of blends in. this is Jared heading up peak 1.
on my way up peak 2, peak 1 (Flat Top) in the background.Jackson on top of peak 2 with Powerline Pass valley behind him.

Jared applauds himself at the top of 2.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

peak 1

I've been doing a bit of training and mucking about recently but haven't been posting. springtime is always so busy with school winding down and soccer season in full effect. yes, for some odd reason the high school soccer season in Alaska is in the spring. tell me how that makes sense...

the weather has been amazing so far this spring, meaning April; upper 60's, sunny, even a few days nearing 70. I'm hoping that it continues and this is an awesome summer, making up for last year's non-summer (rainy and cold). even if the summer isn't good I've almost spent more time outside this year than last year collectively.

as summer is right around the corner (school gets out next Thursday) I hope to be posting more frequently. my 'training' is going well, not consistent yet but well. core workouts happen about every other day, with a run, bike, or hike on the alternating days. my longest run so far has only been 1.5 hours so I need to start building that up if I hope to achieve my racing goals this summer. my first race, Turnagain Arm Trail, is in 2 weeks. it's about 8 mi. so it'll let me know where I stand fitness wise.

there is a huge difference between my running now and before my last knee surgery. the PT was just what I needed. it actually taught me how to run. last night I went up the back of peak 1 (Flat Top) then crossed over to peak 2 to run down. it's a pretty common training route for mountain runner folks. I was allowing myself 45 min. up and about 30 down. I had taken the little guy in the backpack the weekend before and had only made it to the cliff band in 30 min. (about 2/3 of the way up). to my surprise I was to the top in 31:30 and back to the car in 46:40.

wow. fastest I've ever run that. I thank God for blessing me with the ability to even still run, let alone be faster than I ever remember being. if one has read past posts one knows the challenges I've faced with this. I am so grateful that I'm able to run after 4 knee surgeries.

yee haw! bring on summer.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

spring time in AK

here's a photo of me with the little guy packed up on my back. took a short hike to an overlook on the Turnagain Arm Trail (aka Johnson Trail). it was fun to be out. the little guy is loving being outside, which is awesome as Tiff and I love it too. he will randomly bring us his coat or shoes or stand at the door with items in hand. often if I run out to the car to grab something, he'll bang on the screen door saying "out". good times.

Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm still here/PT

i have been neglecting my blog so far this spring as spring is always a busy time. i a soccer coach at a local high school and the season started March 9th. going straight from work to practice to home leaves not much room for extra stuff, so here i am, many weeks since my last post.

i've just finished up a month of Physical Therapy for my knee. it has been quite productive for me. i've undergone gait analysis (i did everything wrong when i ran) and have gotten some valuable core strengthening exercises. the overall process has been extremely helpful. i've learned, as i guessed, that my posture and lack of core strenght hasave a lot to do with my injuries and recurring ailments.

we began with gait analysis the first session and just starting with walking, their were numerous points that the therapist gave me that corrected some long standing issues. once i began to run the therapist gave constant feedback as to how to move more efficiently and with less impact. by the end of the session my stride was better, i felt strong, and had less pain than when i started. i also went home with some exercises that would help to keep my hips in alignment as they are the foundation for my posture.

the next session i ran some more, continueing to receive feedback, and worked on some core and leg strengthining sessions on the BOSU. the next session: more running and band exercises.

the final session was cut short because i had received a knock in a soccer game the previous wekend. no, not in the legs fortunately but in my hand. it was quite painful and had swollen up a lot. it looked like a surgical glove when you blow up the palm. i was evaluated and measured to guage my progress then sent to get x-rays. no fracture which is good. the swelling has gone down and the pain has subsided.

that's what's been going on. more posts to come when i begin training and getting out and about in AK.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"training" run 2

yesterday I went for my first real run since my last knee surgery (6 weeks ago today). the little guy (in the bob), the dog and I went out and ran 2.85 miles in 30 min. not speedy by any means but it felt great to be out there. I can feel it today but not in a pain way but in a "hey, I remember doing this kind of stuff" way.

I ran kind of a ladder b/c I wanted to ease into it. I ran 3 then walked 1, then ran 4:1, 5:1, 6:1, 5:1 and then was home or I would have gone back to 3. it was good times. the little guy was babbling away most of the time, enjoying the dog running alongside and the cars driving by. the temp was about 20-25˚ perfect for a winter/spring run.


rental van fun in Phoenix

so what is it with me and about 2 weeks between posts? so much happens in that amount of time that I really shouldn't wait so long. so be it.

here is the much awaited (?) rental van off-roading in Phoenix. let me set up the scene: I have been going to the President's Day Tournament in Phx for the last several years, coaching with the Alaska Northstars program. I have been eye-balling this empty lot for the last couple years thinking it would be so much fun to drive around in it. so this year, with only 5 players in the 15 passenger van, I went for it. we made a big full lap around this huge lot then one of the players commented that he should have recorded the action on his cell phone. the 46 second clip that you see here is just a mini-version because I didn't want to risk going around again (breakage or somebody calling the police). FYI this was a commercial lot so no fragile desert vegetation was harmed that isn't going to be harmed eventually anyway.

it was hilarious afterwards to be driving around in a big white van that was now caked in mud. we were the envy of all the other teams in their clean big white vans.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

back to training...but not really

so, here I am. four weeks out from knee surgery as of today. I'm posting a couple of much needed (?) updates as I realize it has been about two weeks.

the knee is recovering nicely, as is my mental state on the whole issue as well. with prayer, discussions with a couple of good friends, and input from my wife, God has brought me to the place where I am ok with whatever the outcome may be from my lack of normal knees. within a weeks time I found myself going from not wanting to 'be that guy' who can't participate b/c of old injuries to finding myself saying to an acquaintance that "yeah, after a fourth surgery my playing days are probably done." as I write this there is a part of me that sincerely hopes that this is not true, but at the same time if it is, I am completely at peace with it. there are other activities that I can do and other things I want to be able to do for a lifetime.

that being said, here is a picture from my recent 'return' to training. Jackson, the little guy, and I went for a 2 mile walk around the neighborhood last Thursday. it was great to get out with them and walk around on a mild winter day. I love being outside more than being anywhere else and I'm hoping that the little guy will share that love too.

as for other rehab, I've been on the elliptical up to 20 min. with no pain or swelling and have also jogged a couple of times at the dome. I found a progressive jogging program online at the and have done the first two day's workouts but didn't want to push it. like the doc says "little by little." I'm actually going to follow that this time.

I haven't completed committed to the core program yet that I spoke of earlier, but it is something I need to do and will begin hitting it for real soon. keep me accountable...

that's it for now from ak. next post be looking for some rental van baja action from this past weekend in Phoenix.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

2 weeks ago today...

I was a knee-surgery-aholic.

yesterday I had my 2 week follow-up appointment for my menisectomy. the knee is progressing nicely. it has returned to better range of motion than pre-surgery and never did swell, bruise, or cause much pain. I was cleared for jogging (doc doesn't prefer it though), stationary bike, elliptical, nordic track, and swimming. in the past elliptical, bike, and swimming have been my therapies of choice.

as much as I'm itching to begin running again I'm taking doc 'orders' (he actually likes to call them recommendations because as he says "people are going to do what they want"). he says to start little-by-little and non-impact activities will build and prepare the leg muscles for impact activities. I spent 20 minutes on the elliptical before I remembered that the doc said "start with a little bit." my knee was feeling so good and I would typically do at least 40 minutes so I hadn't even given it a second thought and the time had aleady flown past. so I went 5 more minutes and then cooled down. I went straight out to the living room and did some passive heel slides for range of motion. 5 hours later now I have no pain and no swelling, good signs.

for the core routine I'm beginning one can find more info on the runner's world website. I liked the whole article and appreciate that the workout is not about building a six pack, but is about developing a practical core with the mechanics of running in mind. I'm sure that with a change in diet though (less fat and sugar) a six pack would develop as a side result. in reading their description of how the different core muscle groups affect running I am not at all suprised that my lack of core strength has added to my knee issues. I'm committed to do everything possible to prevent further knee injuries and it appears to me that core strength is to be a big part of that. I'm sure that not going out and running 16 mile trail races without training will also help...

my mental state on the matter is still conflicted. I'm still struggling with the thought of not being able to trail run or play soccer again; of being that guy who can't participate because he has an old injury. I've never given that guy a second thought before, but now at the prospect of being him I have a new perspective, empathy, and respect for that position. again, the reality is that my quality of life for myself and for my family is more important than my own personal pursuits. the idol of reputation and physical ability needs to be laid down for the bigger picture. I can say it but it still makes me cringe.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


before you get any ideas about some sort of 'sectomy let me remind you that cartilage in your knee is a meniscus, therefore a menisectomy means a removal of some of that cartilage, or in my case a whole lot.

my surgery was Tuesday (20th) and was a straightforward arthroscopy. my cartilage was torn where the repair had been done in 2006. it was a pretty large tear towards the back of my knee and a lot of cartilage had to be removed to make it right. the doc also cleaned up a lot of scar tissue towards the front of the knee so hopefully my range of motion will be even better.

this being my fourth knee surgery I knew what to expect going into it. my recovery so far though has really exceeded my expectations: minimal swelling, no pain (just slight discomfort), great range of motion, not much loss of strength...better than what can be expected. I'm hoping at my two week appointment I'll be cleared for the elliptical or stationary bike.

in trying to make a return to the activities I enjoy (trail running and soccer specifically) I need to realistically consider that I may not be able to return at all. as my doctor said, "you need to remember that you don't have normal knees." I need to be willing to let those things go if necessary if I want to avoid any further knee problems. it's hard for me to accept this but I'm asking God to change my heart. I want to be able to run and play with my little guy as he grows up and do activities that may limit my ability to do that are not worth it. my pride still needs convincing though.

another thing that I've realized is that I have too often just expected my body to be able to do things: climb thousands of vertical feet in a day, run 20+ miles on sketchy terrain, play in soccer games with little rest between, trail racing without all these things I have taken my physical ability for granted. I need to not do this anymore. any return to running/racing needs to be preceeded by conditioning, training, and proper nutritional intake. I've also discovered that my lack of focused core strength has added to the beating on my legs. a good core routine will be started as soon as I'm cleared for it.

so, I'm learning and growing and looking forward to the future.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


well, it's been awhile...but I haven't been doing much 'mucking' since my knee swelled up. the word is that I'll be having my 4th knee surgery on Tuesday. Doc thinks that I've re-torn the cartilage in my right knee that had been repaired in '06. didn't last as long as the first repair.

oh well. the good news is that it'll only be a 6-8 week recovery, versus the 8-10 months with an ACL repair. should still give me plenty of time to train for the races I want to do this summer. I was hoping to get an early start but I think with this surgery I'll definitely be better off.

on another note I'm in Portland for a soccer tournament. I've been coaching with the Alaska Northstars for the last 5 years. this year I'll be with the u17 boys for both this tourney and President's Day in Phoenix. we had a great day of play today. in the first game we deserved a win with our play but lost on an unlucky goal in the final 5 minutes. final score of 1-2. in our second today we dominated at bigger, faster team 2-0. both goals coming after great build-up of play. this team is probably the best Northstars team I have coached. the are quick, technical, and tough. great qualities for any team. we have one game tomorrow and one on Monday. I think we'll win 'em both.