Monday, September 13, 2010

bum bah bah bum...ULTRAWORM!

so the inaugural Ultraworm 50k is going down in 2 weeks, September 26. it will begin and end at my house. we're shooting for an 8am start time. should be amazing. see you there! (but actually probably not...)

see for map and more info.

contact me here or at with any questions about participating.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

trail racing kickoff

last night was the Turnagain Arm Trail race. a 4 or 8 mile race that alternates departure from either Rainbow TH or Potter TH every other year. this year's race started at Rainbow, beginning with a steep 1.2 mile climb.

having trained on this course back in March/April i was eager to run it 'all out'. hoping for under 1:30 i really dug into the first, more technical half of the course. i passed a few runners on the uphill section and several on the first long downhill, then settled in. i was keeping a good pace (for me) and wasn't passed in the first 4 miles. hitting the halfway point at McHugh creek in :45 was right around what i hoped for as the difficult part was behind me.

the transition at McHugh (where the 4 mile race starts) is always difficult for me as it emerges into the middle parking lot before looping up into the upper lot to reenter the trail. this 1/4 mile of pavement always takes it out of me. i was passed by 4 runners before i even got back to the trail. feeling slow, i began the last 4 miles. it is usually quite muddy in this section but as we have had a pretty warm spring so far, the trail was in great shape. i was passed by several more runners and was mentally not feeling strong.

pre-race i had decided to try to not eat anything during the race, which is not my usual strategy for races over an hour. at about 1:02 and feeling poor i ate the powergel i had brought with me. eating that, coupled with drinking from a trailside creek really boosted my energy and i kicked it into high gear realizing that i had only around 2 miles to go. no more runners passed as i kicked along. i even passed one back up.

i held steady going into the last 1.2 knowing now that i could get a negative split and finish under 1:30. i coasted in at 1:25.36. it had been a gorgeous evening, and an encouraging kick-off to the summer racing season.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spring in AK

it comes quick. on a tuesday you go for a run on a muddy, mostly snow covered trail. you run the same trails on a sunday and it is firm and ready to rock. after only a few sunny days the snow melts off and the fun begins in earnest. the days stretch longer and longer and before you know it you're going out for a long run at 9pm, watching the sun set at 10:30 atop a mountain peak. spring brings the promise of summer.

i've been more intentional with my training this year going into the summer mountain running season than ever before. i'm excited b/c i feel fit regardless of the distance or intensity of the workout, and typically finish ready for more with minimal pain or soreness the next day.

good times....bring it on!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Vasque Transisitors

about the middle of March i was fortunate enough to win the chance to test a pair of the new Vasque Transistors from the irunfar website. i can sum up the Transistors in three words "kick ass fast kicks." ok, that's actually four words but that's what the shoes do for you: fill your run with more adjectives than you can handle. the following are the questions i answered for a future review on the irunfar site:
  • What were your impressions of the shoe out of the box?
good looking and light. the Transistor is well constructed, comes in racy yellow or grey and red (tested), and has a not-to-aggressive not-to-mild outsole. the size 12 i received is a half size smaller than i normally wear, but the Transistors aren't made in half sizes over 12. the fit was good with seemingly enough room in the toe box even without the extra half size. on especially steep trails though i could feel my toes hitting the end of the right shoe.
  • What you like or dislike about the shoe in use?
OUTSOLE-like it: on my first run, which was actually a hike with my 34lb. 2 year old on my back, i was amazed by the traction the Transistors provided. the trail was 90% covered with spring snow: wet, slick, and hard packed on the trail. at first inspection i thought the tread wasn't burly enough for AK trails but it held to the snow like skins on a ski. i was quite surprised at the lack of slippage as i ascended the steep trail. on future runs it held it's own on frozen crust snow, slush, mud, rocks, roots, and roads. the only conditions i was unable to try it out in was dry trail conditions b/c they don't exist right now in AK. a minor complaint is that the clear plastic 'bubble' (rocknrolla plate?) near the heel filled with water during one run and emitted a squishing sound.

MIDSOLE-love it: what sets this shoe apart from any other shoe i've worn is how it feels when you first step into it. i've tried to describe it to people like this: in every other shoe you are ON the shoe, but with the Transistor you are IN the shoe. i typically throw out the insoles that come with running shoes, but the feel of these shoes is so much different because it was designed to be worn this way. one sits much lower to the ground enabling a 'feel' for what's underfoot. in my experience the midsole didn't offer enough rock protection for overly technical trails. after an 8 mile run on an especially rocky, rooty, and snowy trail my feet were left feeling a bit beat up. i think the stability offered by being able to feel the trail may outweigh the lack of protection over the long haul. if one eased into this type of trail after wearing the shoe for a bit it would probably be ok.

UPPER- like it: quite simply it does it's job. the laces stay tied, the materials seems durable, and the fabric breathes well. the only issue i found was on my first long-ish run during the test a seam in the upper caused a weird blister on my left arch. it only happened that once though and not since so it is a minor issue.
  • What "features" did you like most or least?
i loved the form fitting, built in insole. it worked very well to enhance feel of the trail and seems to be holding up very well. i didn't like whatever was allowing water into the outsole as the squish squish heard while running is annoying. the rock protections seems too light weight for ultra distances on technical trails. i came into this test as a minimalist footwear type runner and found my pre-season condition to be not strong enough to handle the minimal midsole on my gnarliest trail run. on the other hand the shoe felt light and part of the foot. the low stack height was ideal for the midfoot strike encouraged by a minimal shoe.
  • Under what conditions did the Transistor perform especially well, ok, or poorly?
performed well on everything tested on: snow, rocks, roots, mud, slush, road. ok on long, technical trails. have yet to find a poor performance.
  • Any other thoughts!
i have flat feet, a wide toe area, and narrow heels. my right foot is almost a half size longer than the left. the fit accommodated my foot well, but if the upper stretches (which it shouldn't as it is synthetic) i will reach the limit of being able to tighten it up enough around my midfoot. the shoes are good looking, light, and comfy right out of the box. i think the shoes would be best suited to those looking for a minimalist trail racer. it seems great for smoother singletrack and less technical trails for long distances, but at the same time gives one an enhanced feel for running technically over shorter distances. the outsole grips well in most conditions, but i would predict a problem on slick or sticky mud trails.

thanks to Bryon Powell over at irunfar and Vasque for the opportunity.

Friday, April 23, 2010

(re)discovering the joy of biking

in attempts to be fit for racing this summer - meaning not only just being able to complete the race but to not feel so beat up during/after the race - i'm attempting to put some actual structure into my *cough*training. anyhoo, it's going well for week one: taking my vitamins, eating decently, and exercising daily.

yesterday was cross training so i went for a bike ride. now typically i would bust out the minutes on a trail ride as that is what i enjoy, but seeing as how trails are pretty unrideable right now (unless you enjoy deep slush) i hit the road on my cross bike.

usually i don't ride on the road, unless riding the mt bike to or from a trailhead or going to the coffee shop so i didn't really know what to expect. in a word, it was exhilirating. i climbed up Abbott Rd looping past Hilltop Ski Area up and over to O'Malley. it was a tough climb, especially without a small cog, but once i hit the high point it was a rush. i easily topped 40mph on the downhill. cars that passed me were barely going faster than i was. i felt great finishing with the little hills on Birch Rd then connecting back to Elmore to cruise home. in all it was 45 min. or so and 10.65 miles.

as i was riding home i wondered why i haven't done this before? i love trail running, but the speed, rhythm, and mileage of road biking definitely planted itself in my psyche. i'm sure it will be my cross training of choice in future weeks.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

free gear giveaway!!!

hey everyone (imaginary readership)! check out Reuseapalooza over at

lot's of cool stuff being given away and a great resource for ultrarunning.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rainbow TH

after the last hike i had placed the backpack carrier in the kitchen. both saturday and sunday morning the little man asked me, "dad, can we go on a hike this morning?" as we had several obligations we weren't able to, but yesterday afternoon i took him hiking up the Johnson Trail from the Rainbow TH. the clouds were opening and closing so the weather floundered from somewhat decent/sunny to windy/chilly. it was fun as it's not to steep and there was lots to see.

of course on the drive out the little man pointed out the "big snow mountains" followed by "let's go up there!" as Tiffany commented the first time he said this, "definitely your son." we climbed up the gentle trail looking at the mossy, rock filled stream. of course though the little man wondered aloud, "where is the Rainbow?" i asked what colors he could see around him. we came up with white, brown, green, blue, and the imaginary "red, pink, puhple." it was a rainbow after all!

we saw several trees stripped of bark by local moose. the little man labeled these orange trees. we went as far as the high point from the rainbow side, about 1.15 miles and several hundred feet of elevation. we stood at a blustery, exposed vantage point where we could see across the Turnagain Arm to the Kenai Peninsula and down to the highway below and the passing cars. it was quite windy so we didn't linger long.

on the way up we had seen some large boulders that i promised we would stop at on the way down. the little man enjoyed scrambling around the rocks in the mud and snow. from there he hiked by himself all the way back to the truck (about a half mile) with only one fall. nearer to the TH on the more level sections of trail the little man enjoyed running as fast as his little legs would carry him over the rough ground. judging by the wide grin on his cold reddened rosy face he was having a blast.

as we were hiking with the dogs, several times he queried "where are my doggies?" approaching the truck Jackson ran alongside of him. a great day out and another chance for the little man's love of the outdoors to grow.

date: April 6
mileage: 2.34
time: 1:20

details: R in backpack except last .5 mile; w/ Jax, Mals; Hardrocks; 40˚ wind/sun, mud/snow

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

dirt mountains

took the little man hiking today (check out his killer imitation designer shades). it's been a while since i've been out, what with spring break in Texas and all. it was great. hiking with the little man is like having running narration. he talks a ton, describing in detail what is happening.

as we drove up canyon road he saw Flat Top and stated, "That's a big snow mountain. Can we go up there?" i let him know that's where we were headed. as we swung around to the back (south) side the rocky slopes were exposed. "Dad, that's a big dirt mountain. Can we go up and kick it DOWN!" i said we could try.

as we headed up the little man called out "Hello Mountains!" and later declared "Daddy...I live on a hike." as i haven't gotten out in nearly 3 weeks we only made it about 1/2 way up but the little guy was restless and wanted to get out anyway. he proceeded to send as many rocks down the mountain as possible while we sat was sunny, about 42˚ or so and amazing. i was using the Vasque Transistor shoes i won on the irunfar blog. there not really designed for hiking with 35 pounds on your back but the fit and feel was great and the footing secure on the snowy/muddy slopes. i'll get out more in the next couple weeks and get some real runs March 29
mileage: <1
elevation: around 600'
time: 40min.

details: peak 1 w/ R, Jax, Mals; 42˚ sunny, vasque transistors

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

oh AK

so, one awesome thing about AK, it was light out when i got to work at 7:16...but unfortunately it's still only 30˚ and i'm parked next to a snowbank two times as tall as me...please spring, i'm ready for you

Monday, March 1, 2010

little man in a backpack

been hiking a few times this spring with the little guy in a backpack. he really seems to love it and now almost every time we get in the car he says "we're going on a hike" or asks "we going on a hike?" it's great that he gets such a kick out of it. it's good exercise for me to as he weighs about 35lbs. now. i can run if it's level or a downhill stretch but i don't think it's too comfortable for him so i haven't done it much. maybe when the snow is off the trails it'll be a bit smoother ride.

the first time a couple of weeks ago there was a lot of snow on the little spruce trees and he thought it was hilarious for me to knock it off and watch it fall to the ground. since then we've hiked (w/ Mom and friends) on the Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood, and he and i on the Turnagain Arm Trail (last week).

today though we hit up the Wolverine Bowl Loop, my still 'new' favorite. it is quite a bit longer than anything we've done so far but we had a great time. towards the end i had to keep him distracted with looking for the yellow blazes (that mark the trail) on the trees and pull out a few fruit snacks (his favorite), but overall we looked at the trees ("Dad it's a giving tree"), the birds ("God made the birds too") and the mountains ("I love the mountains"). it was really a blast to be out with him. i can't wait to hit up the trails with he and Tiff this summer. yeeeeeeeahhhhhh!

date: March 1
mileage: 3.95
elevation: 585
time: 80min.

details: wolverine bowl loop w/ R, Jax & Mals. vasque boas. 40˚, overcast, occasional snow flurries

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ultraworm 50k...

ok, not really official or a race, but i thought Ultraworm had a nice ring to it and though the map says otherwise, i can guarantee that it will be at least 31 miles.

it is a rough route, much of which i have run before, just not all at once or strung together in this order. their are two sections of the route that i haven't been on. one, top of near point to Williwaw Lake via Long Lake and two, the Middle Forks trail from it's intersection with the Williwaw lakes trail to the Wolverine Trail. i'm not too concerned about this b/c there is plenty of info out there about these sections.

looking at the route one will notice that the only bail out options would be very early on (Hilltop) or very late (Glen Alps or Hilltop again). i'm pretty pumped on this route. would like to do it as soon as most of the snow is melted up high (early June?). hopefully there will be a gang of us. wanna come?

Monday, January 25, 2010

the hill behind Dave's?

was invited last minute for a sunset snowshoe hike up into the Chugach behind Dave K's house. Dave lives up on Basher drive and Chugach State Park starts right outside of his back door. He, Trevor, and I set out on a snowshoe packed trail i presume put in by Dave himself. we wove through the trees, climbing higher and higher into the beautiful early evening light. the further we went, the better the views were.
when we reached our turn around, within striking distance of Near Point, the sunset was in full effect. the lighting was beautiful. we could see all of Anchorage, the volcanos Mount Redoubt and Spur, Susitna, Foraker and the Great One, Denali. all were bathed in a warm orange glow, with the best light reserved for Denali. it looked like it was on fire as it glowed with a phosphorous pink hue.
as we ran back it just kept getting better. in the photo above you can see Mount Redoubt on the right. the small cloud to the right of the summit is actually a little bit of volcanic activity. our God is Awesome and i'm thankful he blessed us with an amazing jaunt up the 'hill behind Dave's house.'


peak 1 and 2 can make for a quick workout on a Sunday afternoon, but this time was super quick. snow conditions were great on the way up, only needing my running shoes to propel me the 1500 ft./.6 mile up the back of Flat Top. the inversion layer meant the 9˚ at my house turned into 27˚ up high. perfect weather for a run.
after tagging the top of 1 i hustled on up to 2 passing a would be paraglider near the top of one. thought i might get the chance to see him take off but i was up 2 and barreling down before he even got his chute out. their was a great glissade trough coming right off the top of peak 2. i jumped right in, tested the snow conditions to make sure i would be able to stop, and let 'er rip! it was a blast sliding about 80% of the 1500' back to the trailhead. the dogs were 'swimming' though the snow at top speed. it was our new dog O'Malley's first experience on a peak.
the glissade made the down portion so quick that we were up and down in about 54 minutes of total movin' time. wow. boy are my dogs tired, literally...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


spent the last weekend in Portland with the Alaska Northstars at the Portland FC Winter College Showcase. i was coaching the 92 boys. we did pretty well beating the best team we played, tying twice, and losing once.

it was rainy most of the time we were there but not too cold so it was ok. the weather cleared up yesterday for our last game.

went for a 4.72 mile run with Brian, another coach and good friend, while we were down there. just good to get out even if it was on pavement and in the rain. we ran along the Rock Creek Trail (paved path) for most of the run. no soreness pain or anything the next day. good to see that i've been able to maintain fitness with just a run or so a week. i'm hoping that this keeps up as i start preparing for races this summer. there are a few i would like to do if i can stay injury free. the more minimal approach to my footwear choices seems to be working.

can't wait to hang out with the little guy this afternoon. i really miss my family when i'm away...can't imagine my life without them.