Sunday, April 07, 2019

Cherry Blossom 10-miler

I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in 65:29 this morning. I was shooting for 65 minutes, so I'm a little bummed I didn't make it, but still generally happy with my performance. I've never run a race this short before, so I have nothing to compare it with. My personal bests are a 1:30 half-marathon and two 3:00 marathons (one just over, one just under three weeks ago) .

Clearly you're supposed to be able to run shorter distances at a faster pace, but I don't really know what I can expect of my body in that regard, because I haven't tried very often. I figured that after the 2:59 marathon (6:52 pace) three weeks ago, I'd be recovered and able to go a little faster, and 6:30 pace seemed like a nice round number to shoot for. 90-95 percent of that is probably just the shorter distance, only 5 percent actually getting faster in the last three weeks. I was beat from the marathon for a solid week, and George really does not enjoy doing sub-6 miles on leash, so I didn't do much speed work, and since I rely so heavily on GPS, it's really easy to just do mile repeats to tell how fast I'm going. Obviously I need to get my butt out of bed and go to Dojo runs more often if I want real leg speed.

Finally, the race itself. I was easily able to get into the lead corral, even though my bib was for further back. There was a pace group for 6:30, but I don't think they were carrying signs during the race (just beforehand in the corral?) and the guy kept scooting forward in the corral, so I lost him, and never saw them during the race. I was close enough to the front that it wasn't too crowded. I did a 6:20 first mile, but then had to pee around mile 1.5, which cost 20 seconds. Annoying how in a race this short 20 seconds actually matters. Thankfully I'd at least done the major business at home before biking to the start. Thanks to Two Wheel Valet and WABA--the bike valet was very well run.

After the bathroom break, I basically ran close to even splits and told myself to think positive and just hang on. "I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful." There were some potholes, the cherry blossoms on Hains Point were fantastic, the crowd was good, aid stations well organized, a little bit of entertainment stations (drummers were the best, thank you volunteers). Miles 6-8 were hard. I pulled out my iPod for the last two, which maybe helped a tiny bit, but I was worked and Peter, Paul, and Mary are a little too chill for when I've already been cranked to 11 for 45 minutes (with the possible exception of If I Had a Hammer). I managed to run miles 9 and 10 a little under pace, but not enough to make up the gap, and I finished in 65:29.

Did I give it my all? I don't know. Maybe. I did feel in the last half mile that if I tripped I'd have a hard time getting up, and I felt worked after crossing the finish line, but 10 miles is so short. It feels weird to be so non-hurt just a few hours later. I suppose I'm typically fine shortly after ultras too, but I usually don't think I've gone as hard as I could have there either. 

One minor complaint: the drop bag situation was poorly organized. Not to rag on volunteers, but someone over  the volunteers needs to arrange drop bag trucks alphabetically, not by expected-finish-time-based bib numbers so that flow is uniformly spread over all trucks, organize the queues to the trucks, and train volunteers on the most efficient way to organize and return multiple bags per trip into the truck.

This was my second race in the absurdly expensive Nike Vaporfly 4% shoes. I love how light they are. I love the cushion. I do not love their complete lack of lateral stability. I rolled my ankle lightly two or three times just wandering around the grass of the mall pre-start and post-finish. I've got good ankles so this isn't a big deal, but seriously, they feel like a very  narrow, very high platform with no stability, and they make me nervous doing anything other than running in a perfectly straight line on perfect pavement.

Very fun race overall. Not that expensive, and so close to my house. Straight shot down the 15th St bike lane. I'll definitely do it again next year.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

PR Day

Just got home back to Williamsburg after setting a PR and breaking 3 hours in the Virginia Beach Shamrock Marathon. I told people when I got a job in DC that though I'd miss the Berkeley trails, I'd be fine, because I'd just get fast again instead. I'm happy to say that appears to be what I did.

Drove to Williamsburg Friday and got a wonderful 11 hours of sleep. Saturday I tried out my absurdly expensive Nike Vaporfly shoes for a quick two miles with George, then gf and I drove to Virginia Beach to pick up our packets (she ran the half) and meet my cousin and her husband for dinner. George came along and goofed around on the beach a bit--dogs are allowed all day during the off-season.

Despite this being at least my 85th marathon-or-longer, I was nervous for this, since (A) it was the first race in a while I had put real pressure on myself to perform, and (B) relative to my normal 50's and 100's, there's no time to make up time in a three-hour race. One or two bad miles, or one bad need to poop, and your sub-3 goal is done. The nerves affected my sleep for the second half of the night Saturday, enough to wake up repeatedly from upsetting dreams (including one with Aaron Eckhart about our shared alma mater). But Friday night did it's work, and I felt OK getting up at 5:20 to drive to VA beach again.

After finding parking, I had the perfect amount of time to wait in the latrine line, drop off my long pants in the drop bag truck, get to the corral, and find my cousin. It was around 40 degrees at the start, but thankfully talking to my cousin the night before had cemented the fact that I would heat up very quickly after running. (Despite my experience, I have to re-convince myself of the benefit of basing clothing decisions on performance time, not standing-around-beforehand time.) So I started with shorts, t-shirt, gloves, buff, and arm sleeves. I sort of wished I'd gone with a tank-top instead, but it was fine, and I wish I'd remembered afterward to go pick up the arm sleeves I threw to the side around mile 20, but gear worked well overall.

We started in corral two, but there wasn't a big crowd in corral one, and the pace groups for much slower times were in corral one, so we scooted up right before the start, having about a 20-second gun-chip time differential. The crowd wasn't bad, and we had all four lanes of the road the first few miles, so it was easy to get up to goal pace right away. My goal pace was 6:52 (do the math--that'll squeak you in just under 3 hours) but I was willing to accept a few 6:40's at the beginning without getting too worried about going out too fast.

I wasn't sure if there would be pace groups, but there were, and we caught up to the 3-hour group after about 4 miles. The pacer seemed to be fluctuating a bit too much for my liking (maybe too many 6:40's at the beginning, and one that seemed more like 6:30), but in retrospect that's really nitpicking. At around mile 8, I made a poor decision--that mile that was clocking in slightly over 7:00/mile--so I dropped the group, and then ended up taking the full force of the wind my myself for a mile or so. My cousin and I were hanging together up until this point, but when I decided to get in a group again, and chose the group ahead, which was also a 3-hour pace group, instead of the one behind, I started to pull away. (He eventually cramped up pretty badly and finished about 7 minutes behind me.)


I managed to stick with the lead group through 13, and then fell back to the second group and hung with them until about 18. The race is sort of a lollipop north and then a lollipop south; 18 is the southern turnaround, so I wasn't far behind the pace group then, and my cousin wasn't far behind me, but in the next few the pace group definitely started to break up. I lost the pacer from sight, but I was still just doing the math for 26 miles, and figured that it was going to be a squeaker, but if nothing went wrong and I maintained 6:50's, then that would be enough time for the last 0.2, and I've have it.

Other than one botched Gu grab at an aid station, nothing went wrong. I started listening to music at mile 18, and some great songs came on at key moments to help me through the 2-3 fairly windy, concrete miles of the boardwalk. My watch was a little off of the race course (0.27 extra, or +1%) so it was hard to know if I had it right up until the end--I just kept assuming I'd run more 6:40 miles than 7:00 miles. And I didn't know how far off my chip time was from the gun time (though this is theoretically checkable at the few race blocks along the course), so I just hung in there. I always wanted one of these last few miles to be 6:30 or 6:40, but I also wasn't sure I could hack it. My quads were getting really tight, and I wouldn't have been surprised if I'd just been leveled instantly by a cramp.

There's nearly a U-turn for the last half mile to go from the boardwalk, off on to the main street, and then two right turns to head the opposite direction on the boardwalk (the far more numerous half marathoners have priority in course design). But finally I was on the final straightaway and sped up to about 6:00 pace. I could finally see a clock, about to reach three, and apparently I tied it exactly according to gun time. (Hey, if it works for Jim Walmsley...) And I had 20 seconds to spare by chip time, which is what counts to me.

Chip Time

We should've posed in front of the cool permanent Neptune statue, but this was neat too.

I was hurting, and the walk back to the car was rough. I believe I said I never want to do that again, but after some soup and beer, I wouldn't be surprised if I registered for Marine Corps Marathon later today. We safely drove back to Williamsburg; I'm not exactly looking forward to the drive home on I-95 tomorrow, so if I'm still sore I may try and extend my car rental, but so far so good.

One more silly fast paved race in April (Cherry Blossoms 10-miler) and then back to normal in May: 10-hour Farm Park Challenge followed by the Massanutten 100 two weeks later.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

T-minus Two Weeks

It's on. I just ran 6 miles at goal place, took full recovery, and ran 6 miles back at 10 seconds faster than goal pace. Friends told me this was a good test workout to see if you're read for for a marathon. Over the last two months I've been doing consistent weekend long runs of 17-22 miles, slowly getting faster, bringing it down from 7:22 pace to 7:04 pace, and today an average of 6:41. So, I'm feeling pretty good about beating 3 hours at the Shamrock Marathon in two weeks, even though I'm definitely worked after today's run.

I've tried to do one real speed workout every week, but I haven't had the wherewithal to get up early enough and go across town to my friends' before-work hardcore workout group, so "workouts" for me usually just mean throwing in a couple fast miles. I've kept up the streak running, meaning I've run 2+ miles every day of the year so far. I ran 269 miles in February, which is my highest mileage February, though just barely. I ran the Hashawa Hills 50K last weekend, and was really hoping to go under 5:30, maybe even close to 5:00, but I never really felt like I could get a rhythm going--there were no miles without hills, so I never had a stretch where I could make up time. (I definitely haven't done much in the way of hills lately.) Serious mud and a little ice didn't help either. Regardless, it was a fun day, carpooling with a friend and only a $19 entry fee.

I also thought it might help speed-wise to lose a couple pounds. So I went dry for the month of February, and also cut out added sugar. Beer was hard the first week, easy after that. Added sugar wasn't difficult, since I don't have a sweet tooth and basically only eat vegetables anyway. I made some mistakes (stupid things like soy sauce, rice vinegar, and coconut water that shouldn't have, and totally don't need, added sugar, but some cheap ones do) but otherwise it went well. I don't think I really missed not being able to eat anything in particular. Did I lose any weight? I don't know, maybe two pounds, maybe nothing. I think I definitely have since the holidays, but it fluctuates so much it's hard to say more than that. Did I get any faster? I guess we'll see.

It snows in DC.
National Cathedral

Monday, February 04, 2019

Why am I doing this, again?

Remember how I hiked in Montana, the Canadian Rockies, and Alaska last summer? I micro-blogged with my phone during much of it, and posted photos on Instagram when I had reception, but life happened (I bought a house) and I never really got around to writing much or organizing photos.  Until now!

Here are my favorite photos from Montana and the GDT, and from Alaska. In Montana and Canada I had a separate camera in addition to my phone, so maybe in six months I'll also organize those; right now you just get phone shots. That camera drowned in the Muddywater River on the last day of the GDT, so I only had my phone for Alaska. (Never mind that my phone also broke two days later, it got replaced.) Anyway, John Z is working on a series of videos of our time in Alaska, I'll let you know when that comes out; it will put my stuff to shame. Check out his YouTube channel--he's quite talented.

I made a resolution to run every day this year. I made it through January. It is super annoying, so I don't know if I'll make it, but for now my training is going well. I just did a 22-mile training run yesterday with the first 17 at 7:00/mile pace. I signed up for the Virginia Beach Shamrock Marathon mid-March. Will I be able break 3 hours there? I was thinking 3:05 or 3:10 would have to be the goal, but now I'm thinking maybe?  I've completely quit listening to music or podcasts while running, and George doesn't get to come along as much anymore, and all the sudden I'm moderately fast again. It's not boring if you're constantly thinking about working harder and going faster. It's been fun except for (A) it hurts, and I feel like injury is much more likely than when every run was a long slow trail run, and (B) it's not safe--on a run home from work I witnessed a hit and run in a crosswalk I had myself only just vacated and sat with the victim and her broken leg in the middle of the street until the cops arrived. Thankfully, now that the shutdown has ended my telework application was finally approved so a couple days a week I'll be able to save my commute time and run in Rock Creek instead of dodging cars in Southeast.

I'm also going dry with no added sugar in February. I figured it couldn't hurt to have a couple fewer pounds to carry around on race day. I'm just now remembering that the race isn't until mid-March, so going dry until the race might be a stretch. We'll see.

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 Onion Adventures in Review

Strava says I ran 1,550 miles this year. At the end of December that feels low and mundane, but it was actually a good year.

I didn't run much in January since I was still trying to interview for jobs (that ended working out fairly well). February was my best training month. March I completed one loop in miserable weather for a truly fun experience at the Barkley Marathons. April I ran Leona Divide 50 and May ran Silver State 50, both with extra side trips with Amy to see parts of California we might not see again for a while. June was another Double Dipsea with friends and a 80-mile fun run from Tomales Point to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Before the bonk, Leona Divide

Silver State 50 (everyone gets a medal, that's nothing special)
Tomales Point, 75 miles to go.
Almost done
Alive with Pleasure
Shortly after Dipsea I flew to Missoula, MT and walked out of my friends' house into the Rattlesnake Wilderness and on to the Bob Marshall Wilderness. (I would definitely advise against the route I took. There was a fire a couple years ago and it turned into a boring roadwalk--find another way to the north of the Flathead reservation South Jocko tribal members only area or just start at Seeley Lake.) The goal was to get onto the CDT and head north to and through Glacier, but rivers were flooded and uncrossable, so I detoured and hiked out the east side of the Bob to Augusta, MT and hitched around. Regardless, I saw wolves and the Chinese Wall formation, so it all turned out fine.

I started the Great Divide Trail at the Canadian border in Waterton June 30, and hiked 1,100km to the end(s) at Mt. Robson, Lake Kawkwa, and then back over the divide to Grand Cache, AB on August 2, just in time to run the 125km Canadian Death Race.

Floe Lake
Nothing special for the GDT
August 8 I flew to Fairbanks, met up with John Z and Daisy, listened to her dad's amazing Navy SEAL FBI agent Unabomber and DB Cooper manhunt stories, and started an adventure from outside Tok where the Tok River crosses the highway. A very wet August made for uncrossable rivers and long detours up onto glaciers to cross where the water was under rock and ice. We covered around 220 miles from Tok to the Richardson Highway and from Black Rapids to Healy. There we realized the weather was going to continue to be miserable in the interior and instead headed for 10+ days of uninterrupted sunshine on the Kenai peninsula.

The sun came out momentarily

Paddling with glaciers

I left Alaska mid-September and started a job as an economist with the government. Two weeks later I was in contract on a house and I moved in mid-October after running a miserably slow Grindstone 100.

I haven't run much November and December, just a 50km fatass and several 10-mile run-commutes home from work which have made me realize I want to get fast again.

See my previous post for details on what's on tap for 2019. I'm far down the waitlist for Big's Backyard; I think unlikely to get in. I'm also on the waitlist for High Lonesome 100, but I think somewhat likely to get in. Right now I'm focusing on a desire to get fast again and break 3 hours in a marathon, ideally trying at least twice, once in April and once in October.

Monday, November 12, 2018

2019 Ultramarathon Schedule

Lottery season is upon us.

I've gone through different mental phases in the past 9 months or so since I knew I'd be moving to DC. At first, I decided I would survive mentally by becoming fast again. Once upon a time (2004 or so) I was sort of fast, and I ran a 3:00:23 marathon, and those 23 seconds annoy me, especially since I could have broken 3 had I not enjoyed myself too much from mile 24 to 25. I had ~15 minutes for the last 2.2, but the first mile of that was probably my slowest mile of the entire day, and I couldn't make it up in the last 1.2.

To get fast again, I would have to run more road, do track workouts, and I probably couldn't bring George along, since he wants to stop and pee all the time. Somehow, I thought this was what I'd want to do in DC, because if trails suck or are nonexistent, then I have to run road, and if I run road, then I might as well do it fast to get it over with.

After thinking that for a few months, I started thinking that maybe instead of running fast on pavement, I just wouldn't be running as much at all. Maybe I'd pick up some other sport instead. Like rafting. There's actually a lot around here--there are decent rapids on the Potomac, and with a packraft you can get in on creeks when they're too low to run in a kayak. But getting to the spot where whitewater paddling lessons occur requires a car, and I don't want to own one in the city. And even if I could get good, and even if I had a car, other sports just don't raise the heart rate nearly as much as running. Swimming is of course the best every-muscle workout, but it is boring, and rafting and biking just aren't as hard, and I haven't figured out how to bring George along yet.

So here I am, back to where I always return. I love running. I bought a house mere steps from a trailhead in a National Park. My dog needs exercise. So a running we will go.

I now have giant mortgage payments to worry about, but if I rent out the basement, I should be OK financially to travel, but I do need to keep that in mind. I was happy to learn about Virginia Happy Trails Running Club, which seems like it will make up for the loss of the Bay Area trail running (mom and pop) industrial complex known as Pacific Coast Trail Runs/Coastal Trail Runs/Inside Trail/Brazen. VHTRC puts on a lot of free fat ass 50Ks and a few 50-milers, so I shouldn't have to pay (much) for anything but some longer races.

Here's what I'm planning on for 2019. You may notice some absences. Hardrock is going in the same direction that I've already done, so I think I'll wait to put in for 2020. I had the most fun of my life at Barkley this year, but I don't really see myself being in shape for it, so I hope to keep my powder dry and return later when I feel like I'm really motivated to train. Of course that could change if I get into Western States--my goal there would be 24 hours, which is peak form for me. (To counterbalance all my complaining about the non-transparency and old boy network elitism of the Hardrock lottery, I think the Western States lottery is as close to perfection as is possible in this imperfect world--they now let you skip one year of the lottery without losing accumulated tickets, but I don't have a good enough reason to do that.) I am planning on submitting a paper to the Joint Statistical Meetings in Denver at the end of July, so High Lonesome would fit my timing well. Unfortunately, the sign up period opened at 3 AM eastern on a weeknight, and it sold out in under 10 minutes, so I am only on the waitlist. I should have done Castle Peak in 2017; I knew it would be a great race, but that was just days after returning home from Bigfoot 200, Waldo 100K, and the eclipse, and I had already taken a lot of vacation for that and for Hardrock that year. Mogollon Monster owes me one, having been cancelled mid-race for a weak rain storm when I tried to run it in 2014. October could be the highlight of the year. It's a long way away, but Euchre Bar Massacre is always my favorite race, and I'd love to see exactly how far I can go at Big Backyard. The race is filled half by qualifications and half by lottery; I'm hoping that my win at the 2015 4 MPH Challenge race is enough to squeak in. There's no way I could win, but I think if I were in decent shape I could go for 48 hours.

Bold=keen on running
*=Western States Qualifier
^=trailwork requirement

February 23, 2019 Hashawa Hills  50k (Lottery Jan 9, $20)

March 3, 2019 Seneca Creek Greenway 50K ($35)
March 9, 2019 DC Rock and Roll Marathon ($100)
March 16, 2019 Elizabeth’s Furnace 50K (late Jan entry)

April 7, 2019 Cherry Blossom 10 Miler (Dec 1 lottery)
April 13, 2019 Bull Run 50 Miler (Nov 15 entry)

May 4, 2019 Farm Park Challenge ($39)
May 18, 2019 Massanutten 100 (MMT) (January Lottery)*

June 8, 2019 Laurel Highlands 70-miler* (fall entry, check website)
June 8, 2019 Highlands Sky 40-miler (WV) (backup, January entry)

June 29-30, 2019 Western States 100*^ (Nov 3-10 lottery)

July 26, 2019 High Lonesome 100^ (Waitlist #44)
July 27, 2019 Never Summer 100K (backup)

August 17, 2019: Castle Peak 100K*

September 14-15: Mogollon Monster 100 (Opens Dec 1)

October 5: Steamtown Marathon
October 12: Euchre Bar Massacre
October 20: Big Dog Backyard (1/2 selected, 1/2 lottery)
October 27: Marine Corps Marathon (March lottery)

November 3: Mountain Masochist (MMTR) 50 (opens May 1)

Maybe a future year:
January 5, 2019 Bandera 100K* (Conflicts with AEA Meetings, looks terribly loopy)
January 19-12, 2019 HURT 100* (August Lottery)
March 30, 2019 Georgia Death Race*  
April 1, 2017 Barkley Marathons (Wait until 2020?)
April 27, 2019 DC North Face 50 Miler ($100)
May 4, 2019 Grayson Highlands 50K
May 19-21, 2017 Cruel Jewel*
June 1, 2019 Old Dominion (too much dirt road)
June 16, Double Dipsea (As much as I love this race and the friends I run it with, it's expensive to travel for such a short race.)
July 19-21, 2019 Hardrock 100^ (I've done this direction. Wait until 2020 for opposite direction.)  
August 9 Ute 100
August 10, 2019: Eastern States 100* (2018 canceled. 2019 reg opens Jan 13?)

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Catoctin Creek

First packrafting trip on the east coast complete. I went with Darren from He picked me up at BART, sorry, Metro, and we drove out to Point of Rocks on the Potomac, biked up to Taylorstown, locked the bikes up, and floated the Catoctin out into the Potomac back to Point of Rocks.

The Catoctin wasn't more than class I or II, so it didn't have the adrenaline or endorphins of trail running, but it was very pretty. The trees were changing colors. The creek was in a winding, sometimes narrow gorge that felt more remote than it was, and we saw a beaver, herons, and multiple deer bounding across the creek. It rained yesterday, which was likely the reason the creek was runable at all, but it was certainly only runable in a packraft, and too shallow for a kayak or canoe. The weather was in the 50's, but the water was shallow and the creek narrow, so I didn't bother with a wet or dry suit, just wore my rain gear, and that was fine.

I often go through phases where I'm not running a ton, and I think I'd really like to get into some other outdoor sport like biking or rafting. But I never follow through. Almost nothing burns as many calories in as short a time as running, and eating is way too enjoyable. And, through the tautology of revealed preferences, running is and always will be my primary activity. But rafting is a lot of fun. I like it more than I liked sea kayaking, because with a packraft you can get back into tiny creeks that you can't run in a whitewater kayak, let alone an 18' long sea kayak. And when you're running a creek that small, the view is always changing, just like running. You can see both banks, and everything on them, and it's moving at several miles an hour, just like hiking or running. I think that was why I never quite loved kayaking in Berkeley--it took me hours to paddle to an island or to a bridge, and all I saw the entire time was water. In a small creek, you see more than water. And chatting with Darren made me optimistic that there are actually a lot of creeks and rivers and lots of whitewater within a 2-3 hour drive of DC. (Not that I own a car, but still.) And you can run a lot of it year-round, since everything is rain-fed not snow-fed, and you'll probably get at least one 50-degree weekend day most months here, so hypothermia is probably avoidable.

Surfing a standing wave

Fall Colors

Fall Colors and Cliffs

Safety Third

Monday, October 08, 2018

Grindstone 100 Race Report

I ran the Grindstone 100 this past weekend. I signed up over the summer while I was hiking. I chose it because I want to run at least one 100 every year, it's a Western States qualifier, considered fairly difficult, it's reasonably close to DC, and it's soon after I would move here. All those sound great, right? It's an out and back, and the weird thing about it is its 6PM start, which leads to a goal of avoiding the second night.

I essentially didn't train for it. Since June, I ran the Canadian Death Race, and I ran two group runs with Virginia Happy Trails and the Woodley Ultra Society, and that's literally it for runs longer than two miles. So this was a test of how well slow hiking on the GDT and in Alaska translates to running. Not perfectly is the answer.

I picked up my rental car Thursday night, but made the mistake of getting it from near the airport, just because I'm used to that and assume it's cheaper. That took forever and I didn't get to sleep until midnight. Then I was dumb and worked Friday morning for a few hours. I could have easily taken the whole day off and slept in, and should have. Instead, I left work at noon and was so tired I had to get a Pepsi to stay awake on the drive down. I was able to nap for 30 minutes before the 6PM start, but it was unfortunate that I was so tired already and that I had to drink caffeine on the drive, and have had to drink caffeine at work regularly, so I'd basically blown that wad already and it wasn't going to pack quite the punch when I needed it during the race.

So it started at 6PM, and we had an hour of daylight. I enjoyed that, and then enjoyed passing some people on the first rocky descent in the dark. The course is an out and back, and on the way back, well into the second night, I would stumble across these rocks and seem unable to do anything but walk slowly, stumbling and kicking a rock with each step. On the way down the first time, it was fun to pass people with my (temporary) skill advantage.

I was never running very fast, not even in the stretch to the first or second aid stations. I was clocking more like 4 mph than 5, and by halfway it was closer to 3.  My GPS watch is in storage, and Strava acted weird on my phone (I don't think it works well with data saver or battery saver) so I didn't bother recording, so I had only the vaguest sense of how fast (slow) I was going, and didn't care too much as long as I wasn't in pain. The aid stations didn't have gels and didn't have a ton of hot vegan food but were generally OK. I got by on soda, pb&j, and potato chips. 

We're past the equinox, so the nights are long. My headlamp situation worked out well (my lamps are still in storage with everything else I own, so I had to borrow some and had to meet new people from whom to borrow them). Chafing was problematic, not in my usual thigh area, but butt cheeks. I'm not used to the humidity, so I may have gotten off fairly easy on this front--good thing I remembered to pick up some Body Glide last weekend.

Anyway, I made the turnaround I'm guessing at around 15 hours. The best, and for my money only view is at a paved summit at mile 49. On the way back the most notable thing was the largest descent, which would have been a lot more fun if I wasn't so beat. Then it was hot for a few hours, but one advantage of the annoying, essentially viewless green tunnel is that we weren't exposed to direct sunlight. Then the second night came and I was stumbling. Luckily by this point I got back to my drop bag with my USB charger so I could get my iPod going again. I listened to almost the entire Slow Burn (great Slate podcast about the Clinton impeachment.) I was much less impressed with Radiolab's Gonad series, though it got better as it went along and the episode about the intersex person who finally learned the truth in their 50's was moving.

So I was able to keep kicking rocks, swearing, sitting down, getting back up, and moving along. I finished in 34 hours. The race website says the race has 23,000 feet of climbing. To me it really only feels like 4 large climbs, but the course is pretty relentless.

I slept some, met a friend for coffee in Staunton, took a dip in the Shenandoah River, and drove home. Glad I did it, but I definitely won't be running the race again because it's not that pretty. I wonder if anything out east will strike me as pretty--I don't like being in the green tunnel. It's all I knew as a kid, and I liked it then, so maybe it will grow on me. Hope so.
Why am I doing this again?

The one view

Staunton on the way home

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Washington DC

I am in Washington DC now. I'm staying with my friend in Adams Morgan. I start work on Monday. I'm very happy to be reunited with my dog and my girlfriend. I had to buy a new wardrobe because almost all of my posessions are in storage, and I don't want to pay to pull them out more once, so I'm trying to buy a townhouse ASAP.

To distract myself from important work and life things:

1) Does anyone want to buy my size small ULA Epic? It's still in good shape after one  month of use in Alaska. I think the pack is well-designed, but I should have purchased a medium. If you wear a pack that's too small, the load lifter straps aren't effective, and you can't get the weight off your shoulders.

2) My Tarpent Contrail has met its maker after 8 or so years. Or at least the zipper has. (If you set up the shelter on a muddy/sandy glacier, just DO NOT use the zipper. It's too delicate for that kind of dirt!) If I buy something to replace it, what should it be? I'm interested in both 1 and 2-person UL shelters, most likely completely enclosed, since I am super wimpy about the noise from a single mosquito. If a 2-person, I could go for something spacious, since it'll probably be 2-people plus dog, whereas a 1-person could be true to size for one small (5' 5") person. Something Dyneema?

3) What do all the cool kids use for an ultralight pack these days? I'm honestly more of a ULA Circuit kind of guy, (meaning that I'm not super ultralight and prefer at least some frame in most of my packs), but I'd like a nice ultralight pack that's better than my ULA Conduit (an older model which is similar note what is now called the ULA CDT) which has removable, and hence quite floppy (bouncy if you run or walk too fast) hipbelt pockets. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The creek behind Fred Meyer

And for my last night in Alaska, I'm stealthing behind the Fred Meyer in Soldotna. Hitching out of Homer was a little hard, as the speeds were high and I got dropped off from my first ride at a bad spot with auntie in everyone's eyes and then narrow shoulders. Now after a good ride to Soldotna, I'd rather camp and get an early start, and it's actually not a terrible spot. Actually, I don't really know that, since I got here in the dark. But I'll have a chance of one more night of northern lights this way. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Cherry Blossom 10-miler

I ran the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in 65:29 this morning. I was shooting for 65 minutes, so I'm a little bummed I didn't make it, but...