Friday, October 16, 2015

been a while...

Wow. Time passes so quickly. I've been out of the blogging game for quite some time now but I miss it. I find that it helps me to process thoughts, be creative, and provide somewhat of a 'lasting' record of events.

That being said, here goes the last over 18 months in review. Let's do it by topic:

Family - a lot is going on. Presently in the early stages of adopting a child. R and Z are now 8 and 4 and time is flying. They are so much fun.  I document a lot of our fun on my instagram account, @akworm.

I love my wife more each day and we are continually working to better our relationship. Through ups and downs she sticks by my side, always spurring me towards my best self. Though I don't always receive her with grace, she showers me with mercy and I couldn't ask for a better mate.

We always wanted a large family and always spoke of adoption being something we wanted to pursue, so we are. We are hoping and praying for a girl and have agreed to present to several birth moms so far. If you have ever wondered about adoption you can follow our journey at our YOUCARING site. I am posting weekly updates; started after we went active with our consultants. It has been awesome to see the outpouring of love and support of family and friends and we can't wait to get our baby (or babies, how fun would twin girls be?).

Work - Oh man. At the end of the 2013-14 school year I was laid off from my teaching job bc of budget cuts and seniority issues. It was a stressful summer but my principal stood up for me and I ended up with 1/2 my job back. I picked up another 1/2 job and split teaching between 2 schools all year. It was a hassle, but I tried to remember I was blessed to have a job at all. In the meantime I ended up doing a 1 year pastoral internship at my church where I was surprised to discover a gift for preaching. It was a humbling, growing, learning experience and it never would have taken place had I not been laid off from my teaching job. It is cool how God uses circumstance (providence) to get us where He wants us to be. I don't know what the future holds as far as preaching/ministering goes, but I know there is a calling on my life to spread the love of Christ. Right now it looks like using the platforms I have as a husband, father, teacher, and friend to shine God's light of grace, mercy, and love everywhere I go. It requires constant vigilance on my part to not let my self/ego/pride diminish the purity of that light.

UPDATE (10/16): So I realized I kind of left work hanging. After the 14/15 school year I was rehired back to full time at the original school I was at, teaching a brand new class that I helped develop the curriculum for. The class had previously been Photography, but is now Visual Media and Communication. I am really excited about the potential of this class. It teaches the technical aspects of photography, design, video, and writing/editing for digital media, and then applies these mediums over social media for the purposes of marketing and advertising. Pretty cool.

Running - To recap this in a coherent format I will preface by saying I have continued to run, a lot, for the last 19 months. Picking up where I left off here are some excerpts:

Jan 2014 - ran Frosty Bottom 50 mile (actually only 43 miles) 9:55. Inadequate training caused significant struggle in the last 6ish miles

Feb 2014 - Little Su 50k (only was 26.8 bc of reroute mistake) 4:51, 4th place men, 6th overall. 2 runners in front of me took wrong turns. yay me!

March 8th, 2014 - first ever race win! Snow Canoe loop 11 miler, 1:49. BOOYAH!!! sunny and CCCCOLD! 6-8" groomed snow so loose/packed, -8˚ at the start, warmed up to probably 5-10˚. Went out hard and maintained the entire race. Ran in 2nd place until the final mile and 1/2 and then made my move and held on for the win. top 3 were within 30 seconds of each other. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!

June 2014 - first 24 hr. race, Mr. Miles. 67.5 miles for 3rd place. This type of race requires it's own type of mental fortitude. 4.5 mile laps on a trail loop; complete as many as you can in 24 hours. Starting at noon I ran consistently until about 5am the next day, then kind of threw in the towel only completing 1 lap in the next 7 hours. Good learning experience of what it takes to keep going.

August 2014 - Resurrection Pass 100 time again. I went into this one feeling undertrained but knowing I could complete the distance bc I had done it before. Ran the first half calm, strong, and within my abilities, but on the climb out from the 42 mile aid station the wheels fell off. I was unable to consistently run again for the rest of the race. Walked all night, alone with my thoughts into the morning and the 70 mile aid station, 2 hours later than the previous year (19:30 hours). I called it there. Another DNF. Looking back I believe it was stress. Stress I had been carrying all summer about not having a job. Nothing was wrong, I just wasn't mentally tough enough on that day. Two weeks later ran the Lost Lake Race again for a PR in 2:23 (15.5 miles).

September 2014 - back to Fairbanks for another Equinox Ultra (40 mile). Not my best performance on a rain soaked, cold day but gutted it out for a 8:01 finish.

Spring 2015 - The previous February I had put in for the Cascade Crest Classic (CCC) lottery and had not gotten in. I entered again and was drawn so I would be racing it in August. My good running friends Tony C, Shawn, and Marti had also gotten in so I would travel and pal around with them while in WA. I spent the spring splitboarding (until I broke my tailbone) running, XC skiing, and playing hockey (more later). My goal was to get as much climbing in as possible since CCC has 22k feet of it over it's 100 miles. I also did some pulk (sled) pulling for the first time, running and pulling Z while R would XC ski. It was great and got me thinking about possibly running the Susitna 100 in 2016. I also entered the Mount Marathon lottery again and was drawn, so I would be racing that classic mountain race on the Fourth of July.

June 2015 - entered and ran the Mr. Miles 24 hour race again. This time I was shooting for 100 miles, 23 laps. I was also using this as a fundraiser for our adoption. I ran consistent laps through an 80˚ day and into the night, but my time in between laps got longer. Into the night the 2 people ahead of me struggled and went to bed while I kept plugging away. I ended up with 17 laps, 76.5 miles, which was good enough for 1st place men, 2nd place overall. I was unable to run the last 4 hours with a foot that wouldn't allow me to bear weight. I could have gotten at least another 3 laps in if my body would have cooperated, but I learned that I could keep going even when things got tough, painful, and boring.

July 2015 - the training continued to pile up as I ran less miles, but more vertical feet than ever before. The Fourth of July found me on the start line of the 80th running, and 100 year anniversary of the Mount Marathon Race in Seward, Alaska. And oh yeah, the world's top mountain runner, Kilian Jornet, lined up too. It was an exciting day; everything I hoped for. I wasn't fast but I met my goal of qualifying for next years race so I don't have to lottery again. It was amazing to run in front of 60k people, up and down a 3000 ft mountain in a 3 mile round trip. So much energy, so much fun!

August 2015 - The event I'd been training for all year fell at the end of the month. This one is deserving of it's own write-up, but I don't know if that will happen so I'll give a recap here. A 100 mile finish has eluded me since the first time I attempted it back in 2012. The Resurrection Pass 100 was my first attempt and first finish, but I DNF'd (did not finish) the next two attempts. In a way, the two Mr. Miles 24 hour runs were also 100 mile attempts as I thought it was doable in the time/format allowed, but also the distance escaped my grasp in the nighttime hours. Going into CCC, failure was not an option. Unless I timed out (reaching a specific distance on the course by a specific time, after which one is not allowed to continue) or significantly injured myself, I was going to finish. I had read probably 20 race reports written by everyone from elites to back-of-the-pack runners, giving me what I felt was an intimate knowledge of the course. To keep this blurb short, I enjoyed every minute of this race. I found myself looking forward to the challenges of the course bc I had read so much about them. The tunnel, trail from hell, cardiac needles, and every aid station was familiar, but new. There wasn't a moment I questioned why I was there or what I was doing or contemplating was awesome, awsomely difficult. I ran for 73 miles with Marti and it was great. My friends I went down with, Tony and Shawn were a great source of fun, inspiration, and support, as was my family and friends back home. With HAM radio tracking my peoples were able to follow my run through the night and I could definitely feel their thoughts and prayers. I was hoping to 1. finish in 32 hours (which is the cut-off) 2. not get injured 3. finish sub 30. Crossing the line in 29:23 was elating, knowing I had achieved my goals and made my family proud (who are honestly proud of me for even trying).

Fall 2015 - so far I have taken some needed time of from running. Volunteering at the Kesugi Ridge Race by sweeping the second half of the course is the only 'running' I've really done. However just recently I have started again, training our new puppy to have some trail manners. Most exciting on the running front is that my CCC finish qualifies me to enter both Hardrock 100 and Western States 100 lotteries that are held in December. I'm going to drop my name in the hat for both, but Hardrock is my ultramarathon dream race. It is arguably the toughest 100 mile trailrace in existence with over 30k feet of climbing at altitude (9000-14000ft.) I'll keep you posted on that front.

Miscellany - soooooo other stuff...I started playing 'real' hockey on a men's team and some shinny once or twice a week last winter. Pretty fun stuff and a great change of pace from running. R began XC skiing so have enjoyed getting out on the sticks with him. Planning to splitboard a lot this winter to get some climb training in without the impact. As mentioned earlier we have a new puppy: a beautiful yellow lab. She's about 4 months old and a ton of fun. We're all adjusting to her and her to us. This is what crazy people who are adopting, homeschooling, and involved in 800 other things do with their free time. Boys are schooling, running, biking, learning to skate, swimming, and having fun. Tiff is cutting back on work and enjoying her role in the home. It is tough but rewarding to be mom, educator, and spouse to a crazy man.

Wrapping it up, this has been a long post and lot has been omitted, but it gives me a platform to begin from when blogging in the future. Thanks for reading, or not. I don't think anyone is still out there following anymore but that's ok. I have always enjoyed talking to myself.

God speed.

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!