Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Road So Far...

Every season finale of one of my favorite shows ends with a little recap beginning with "The Road So Far" while "Carry on my wayward son" by Kansas blasts through the TV speakers. It's fitting really...the characters are literally put through hell every season; getting shot, chewed up and spit out by demons, ghosts, vampires and all sorts of nasties. The crazy thing is you get the impression that they are enjoying themselves through all of the insanity. Perhaps there is a similarity between their trials and those of the endurance athlete. Maybe I'm just watching too much Supernatural.

Not gonna lie...I have a little man crush on Jensen Ackles
In any event, this year has been equal parts quiet and insane. Late last year my wife and I found out that we were expecting our first child. The doomsayers came and said my running career was over. I told them they didn't know how obsessed I was or how cool my wife was and immediately signed up for a hundred mile race, the Pine To Palm 100, which is set to kick off here on September 14th. I then proceeded to line up and race at the Orcas Island 50K, Chuckanut 50K, Gorge Waterfalls 50K, Capitol Peak 50M, Sun Mountain 50M, Rainier to Ruston 50M and the Lake Youngs 28 Miler. Of all those races I only failed to finish Sun mountain and that was due in large part to a scheduling issue. If I had taken the Monday off after the race (Which unlike every other race on the list above was run on Sunday) I would've gutted out the finished, pigged out in Winthrop and then drove home the following day. Instead I got in a nice 50K and got home by dinner. But I digress...

She has gone completely berserk help!
Every single race listed above was run on or before June 8th. Why no races after June? Well because our little bundle of awesome arrived on July 2nd. She needs...nay...demands much attention. Her piercing shrieks can penetrate the most apathetic of hearts and her smiles can make the will crumble. Would I be able to run a step after the birth of such a wonderful yet terrifying being?

The answer is a heartening yes. A resounding yes in fact. My wife is awesome. She has undoubtedly resigned herself to the fact that my running is not so much a hobby as it is an obsession. Yes I day dream about running. It does not really become distracting however unless I don't get out on a run for a few days. Ideally I get out on a run every day. And that's exactly what I did from July 6th to August 8th, the lone exception being a mountain biking substitution one Sunday. This bout of activity was in large part assisted by paternity leave, though it has since carried over into life post leave. I can still get out and run almost every day now that I'm working again. I just had to prioritize. I came up with the following mathematical representation of my new priorities:

Baby=Wife > Work > Running > Everything Else

I apologize if you fall into the everything else category. I promise I will still make some time for you. Perhaps you would like to join me for a run? We could always catch up on our respective life experiences on the way to the trail head. Or perhaps during the warm up and cool down. You could experience views like the one below! I'm sure there are some exceptions to the above formula...but as far as day to day life goes...that's it.


But what is all this for? Well as stated above, I signed up for Pine to Palm late last year. Finishing this sucker isn't a sure thing. Unlike last year I will be hammering this thing out sans pacer. I probably won't have a crew and I will have zero course knowledge. (Beyond the fun little maps and elevation profiles provided on the race website) So pretty much all the training over the past 9 months has been focused on one thing, getting me to the finish of the P2P in as few pieces as possible.

If a flat 50 miler did this...I'm in trouble.

The next few weeks will be sent slowly decreasing my weekly mileage. I'll still try to get out and thrash the quads on a few ascents/descents of some local mountains up until September. I'll begin my fairly aggressive taper on August 26th and will strive to keep my sanity over the three week period leading up to the race. Sure I'll run...but it will mostly be for mental maintenance. I'm pretty sure I turn into a terror now if I can't get out regularly...

And unlike the song mentioned above I doubt I will ever truly be done. Next year will bring a new outdoor adventures...and another 100 miler at the end. Fingers crossed for Western States.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Decreased Frequency

My purpose behind this blog was originally to capture a few of the more fantastic events that would undoubtedly occur throughout my journey as a hack brewer/hack ultrarunner. At first I did a pretty good job at that, posting once a month mainly to collect some thoughts and entertain myself and a few folks with my less than clever observations regarding my two main hobbies. (For the record I also like playing video games, reading books and watching movies which subsequently are all things you can do when you are too tired to move) One would think then that my lack of posting over the past 3 months would mean that I hadn't really done anything of interest. This may still be true but I would like to think that it is mainly due to an evolution of my perspective on what constitutes "fantastic".

When I first started running, finishing a 50k was a pretty big deal. Now it's more of a training run. I still don't run particularly fast, but I'm no longer laid up for an extended period of time after a longer run or race. I'm not tooting my own horn here, just about everybody I run with is in a similar situation...and they are all faster than me. As such I've quietly ran a few 50k's without much fanfare. They were still awesome, I just didn't necessarily feel like analyzing the finer details of the races. Don't worry, I'll be running three 50 milers in a 5 week period so I'm sure there will be one or two blog posts devoted to that endeavor. I'm also thinking about switching to brewing smaller batches which will not necessarily decrease the amount of time spent brewing but will increase the amount I can enjoy said beer. Right now a 5 gallon batch results in approximately 50 bottles of beer. I'm a light weight when it comes to alcohol consumption so 50 bottles of beer lasts awhile. If I brewed once a month for an entire year that would give me 600 bottles of beer. Right now I'm the only one in the household consuming it...though thankfully that will change come July. (Yay baby numero uno!) Perhaps I should stock up on said supplies sanity may depend on beer later.

In any event, more frequent brewing may result in more frequent blogging, which may in turn result in...well I'm not sure. I thought however that I would summarize a few of the things I have done running wise over the past few months.

My buddies got me to sign up for Orcas Island, which I had to bail on 1/3 of the way through last year due to a stomach flu. The February 2nd race date meant that I had zero off-season this year. I basically went straight from running Seattle to training for Orcas. I PR'ed at Orcas with a 6:06 despite having some race day issues due to poor pre-race dinner decision making on my part. Feel free to speculate! Race Day was awesome...sun, views, potato chips, soda and more. We spent some extra time on Orcas to celebrate my wife's birthday and I got to enjoy the San Juan's only brewery. If you get a chance to head out there I highly suggest stopping by Island Hoppin Brewery. I tried a mean IPA/Barley Wine blend while there that was so good I ended up getting a growler of it. The growler did not last long...

After Orcas I trained, then went on vacation on Kauai. Brandi graciously allowed me to run the Kalaulau trail with a couple of my running buddies who happened to be out there at the same time. The trail is awesome. Go run it.

Josh and Dan cruising down to the halfway point

Josh avoiding flying off the trail

Uphill out of the beach

Training continued after Hawaii. I ran and barely PR'ed at Chuckanut. I did not have a good race...but last year I felt like I had a great race so I guess this means I'm getting faster. Next up is Gorge Waterfalls 50k. I'll be looking to PR there too...even though I should probably just treat it as a training run. I'm an idiot though so I will try to run it fast. (For me...which is slow for a lot of people). Bring on the spring! I leave you with pictures of my awesome pets.

Tricksy Kitten
Sleepy Pippa