May 30, 2012

Thank You, Readers

Thanks to all of you who have been following and commenting on my blog. I wrote my very first post January 20, 2008. Four and a half years and 227 posts later, because of you, my blog surpassed 100,000 visits this last week.

For me, one of the best things about writing a blog is connecting with so many people that have their own challenges and accomplishments to write about - their own stories to tell. Yes, we ultra runners are a little different. Call us obsessive, intense, maybe a little nuts. But we're not bad company in the long run!  

I guess we all have our own reasons for running. For me writing them down somehow makes them more real. 

Keep the faith my fellow runners and readers, and thanks again for stopping by!

May 21, 2012

Mountain Splendor

Mt. San Gorgonio from Anderson Pk. 

There is nothing like running in the mountains. You breathe air that don't normally breathe. You see things you don't usually see. You find things you don't normally find.

If the mountains offer one thing, escaping the daily crap that we all obsess over is high on the list. Some people choose therapy. Others drugs. For me, mountains provide that relief.

Here are a few pics from last weekends run along the 10,000' ridge in the San Bernardino Mountain range.

Standing in a bed of Thorns
Metal Bin Stores Sign in Journal - Mt. San Bernardino E

Trail Merge Sign - Morgan before her San Gorgornio Ascent 

May 17, 2012

Finding Beauty In Absurdity (While Traveling)

I woke this morning to the sound of a train. A large freight train, probably headed for some Midwest junction loaded with pallets of iron and steel to feed our staggering economy. It was 4:30 am (eastern standard time) when I looked down on the clanging string of box cars from my 18th floor hotel room. It was still dark out and exactly 5 hours before my normal waking hour.

Over the years I’ve learned a little bit about running and traveling. The main thing is that all the sage advice I’ve received over the years, and all the sound training tips I’ve followed, when traveling, I can throw these things out the window.

Like getting enough sleep. I don’t know how many times I’ve read that I need 8 hours of sleep each night, especially when running a lot. It’s all about recovery they say. Hell, when I’m traveling, if I get 5 hours of sleep per night I’m not just feeling good, I’m feeling guilty. Trains, time zones, early flights, business dinners, meetings, jet lag, noisy hotel rooms, arid hotel rooms, caffeine, all of these things, they just suck the sleep right out of me.

Or eating a healthy, balanced diet. You know, the kind with lots of fruits and vegetables, protein, not too much fat and always enough fiber. Ehhh…on the road? Does red wine, New York strip steak, mashed potatoes, gravy and crème brulee qualify as a balanced training meal? Maybe for a Henry the Eighth jousting battle but probably not for the next 100k. I know, I need to be more creative with my meals. But I’m traveling in the mid west people!

Another is getting quality workouts. This one is a joke. Just when I’m supposed to be doing hill training to prepare for a race in the mountains, I’m running on bike path next to a river in Ohio. When I’m supposed to be building my skill on technical trails riddled with rocks, I’m running through an airport terminal trying to avoid security. It sounds absurd, but there is a certain beauty in absurdity. And, yes, I’m proud to have been stopped by airport security on more than one occasion! For me, it doesn't really matter—whether I’m training after a good night’s sleep and a helping of barley juice on a pristine trail overlooking some awe-inspiring mountain range, or red eyed with indigestion in the airport parking garage in Chicago, I’m still running. 

If I have the right perspective, I often find there are just as many interesting things to experience when running in less ideal places and conditions. In fact, when traveling, I find these unfamiliar places often have a little more flavor—with a little more indigestion, of course.

Being Escorted By Airport Security
Keep it real runners! 

May 8, 2012

Ultra Trail Mont Blanc - Finding Vertical

For every 1,000 feet I climbed at my first 100 mile race, Western States, I will climb 1,700 feet at UTMB. Compared to my last 100 mile event, Angeles Crest, where I climbed 19,000 feet, I will have to climb an additional 11,700 feet at UTMB.  

There is a total of 30,839 feet of ascent at UTMB. Over 60,000 total elevation change. To put that in perspective, that is 300 feet per mile of climbing. I’ve been measuring my training runs in the last few months, trying to come close to this. What I’ve learned is that it’s not only difficult to train in this much vertical, it’s hard to find it! I live in a pretty hilly area. I don’t have to go far to string together a long run with what I thought was a lot of elevation change. What I’ve found, however, is to achieve 300 feet per mile of climbing, I have to be running (and hiking) steep hills, up and down, all the time. No flat sections in between.

Looks like I’ll be spending a lot more time in the Santa Ana and San Bernardino Mountains in the next couple months...finding vertical.