Saturday, January 17, 2015

Running in China

I was lucky enough to visit Shanghai and Ningbo, China on a work trip. Unfortunately the air quality was pretty bad the whole time I was there and I was too chicken to run outside, so I ended up on the hotel's treadmill every day.

Park in Shanghai

I cannot even remember the last time I ran on a treadmill, I can't say it was an enjoyable experience but even 5 miles on a treadmill was a test in mental toughness. The first few days I started the treadmill with the goal of 30 minutes, I figured if I could run at least 30 minutes each day I would satisfy my daily need for some sort of exercise. After 30 minutes and realizing I had only ran 6km, I knew if I ran ~8km I would get at least 5 miles in. The second day on the treadmill, there were more people from work who were in Shanghai for the same meetings as me on the treadmills. I could only tell because they were covered head to toe in swooshes. I found myself upping the speed on my treadmill and running faster and harder, who knew I would be competitive even on a treadmill. 

In Ningbo the hotel had different treadmills with hill training, this being the last part of my trip I was getting sick of my running music and the treadmill. So having the option to pretend I was running up a mountain helped the treadmill insanity. 

Treadmill hill training

Despite not wanting to run outside while in China, I did get to spend some time walking around Shanghai and some of the parks around the area close to our hotel and found some beautiful places. As the saying goes if you look hard enough you can find beauty in anything, even a treadmill. 

Walking around Shanghai
Daily message left in my hotel room 
Ironic sign in the Shanghai subway

Walk way to the dreadmill
In a park in Shanghai

Shanghai
It wouldn't be an Ann trip unless I found a brewery. Boxing Cat IPA in Shanghai. 

From my hotel room in Ningbo


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Caleb's first end-to-end

On Wednesday (December 10) I got a text from Caleb: "What runs do you have coming up in the next several days? Thinking of doing all of wildwood this weekend." Ann and I had just run all of Wildwood (and then some) two weeks previous for our birthdays, but how could I resist?

One of the powerlines down on Newberry Rd

We planned to run from the north, Newberry end, with Ann & I ending up Birch (Wildwood mile marker 7 1/2) for a nice 23 miler. I picked up Caleb and his friend Billy at the log-lined parking lot next to the zoo, at the south end of Wildwood. We drove to Ann's house, where her husband drove and dropped us off at Newberry.

The other side of the downed powerline-- notice the rope tying it to the tree at top right

There had been strong winds the past few days, and we were awestruck by the damage there on Newberry-- huge downed tree limbs and power lines. It was time to start the journey. Caleb hadn't run the distance in a long time, and Billy's longest-ever run was 18 miles... and off we went.

Billy and Caleb at Wildwood start

We had never run with Billy before, but I know that Caleb is fast. I was worried about keeping up. He lead, with a bit faster pace than we usually run for the distance.

Caleb contemplating the crazy force of one tree smashing into and cleaving another

And it was great. We chatted the whole way, learned a lot, and had a great time. It's always interesting to see what gear, food and supplies other bring. When we got to Birch Trail, Billy decided to join us. He had already exceeded his farthest distance by 5 miles and didn't want to push it 7 more.

Selfie at Birch Trail-- where Ann, Billy and I ended

We took some photos, wished him luck, and with an extra caffeinated Clif Shot that Ann gave to Caleb, said our goodbyes. Billy, Ann and I ran back to Ann's house, and I drove Billy back to his car. Caleb texted me when he finished, a couple hours later. It was tough, but he pushed on and made it! He said that Ann's Clif Shot saved him. Maybe next time we'll coordinate and all go the whole way together.

Group portrait at Wildwood and Birch

Saturday, January 3, 2015

First long run of 2015

I only ran once in the six days I was away for the holidays, and Ann had spent the previous three days snowboarding. We knew it was going to be a tough run. I tried to pick a route with less climbing. 

Lots of icicles where water drips 
It was chilly, with some ice but mostly nicely solid ground from not much rain recently. And it turned out to be a pleasant start to our new year of running.

Found along Leif Erikson trail

Start at Wildwood/53rd

Wildwood/53rd (mm 9.18) to FL7/Gas Line (ww 19.96)-- 10.78 mi
FL7/Gas Line (ww 19.96) to LE (8.03)-- .28 mi (11.06 total)
LE (8.03) to Maple (le 6.44)-- 1.59 mi (12.65 total)
Maple to LE (4.22)-- 2.66 mi (15.31 total)
LE (4.22) to Dogwood (le .92)-- 3.3 mi (18.61 total)
Dogwood (le .92) to WW (8.47)-- .34 mi (18.95 total)
WW (8.47) to 53rd (ww 9.18)-- .71 mi (19.66 total)

Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 Superlatives

Looking back on 2014 we have nothing to complain about; it was simply an amazing year for us. Sometime in late 2013 we got the crazy idea to run an 85km in New Zealand, which we thought would be our A race. But when that got shortened to 47 miles due to Cyclone Lusi, we decided we had to find another 50 mile race. 

We started hearing interviews / podcasts with the legendary Ann Trason and in one of them she mentioned she was putting on a 50 mile race on the Western States course. Next thing we knew we were signed-up for it. In preparation we ran around the Three Sisters in Central Oregon, which was around 53 miles. 

We also had many self-supported adventures in the Columbia Gorge, Mt. St. Helens area and Mt. Hood National Forest. We dialed in our hydration and food more; I feel like we are eating less but better on our long runs. We had amazing training and support from Animal Athletics

Of course none of this would've been possible without support from our family and friends. I hope everyone had an amazing running year. We are looking forward to 2015 and running our first 100k and whatever other crazy adventures lay ahead. 



Some more of the highlights for the year:

Longest distance: 52.3

Rave run: Three Sisters loop

Race with the best stories and RD: Tarawera Ultra

Most difficult race (where we actually placed): Overlook Endurance

Favorite mid-run pick-me-up: Chocolate espresso Pocket Fuel & Nuun Energy (caffeinated!)

Best post-race party: Oregon Coast 50k

Best (new) Gear:


Favorite new shoes: Nike Kiger Trail Shoes 

Best and meanest coach: Willie McBride

Willie in the "there are no words for this panda outfit"


Favorite new podcast host: Sally McRea

Favorite trail nickname (given to us by Willie): Duo of Hell Fire (DOHF for short)

Previous year recaps:
2013
2012



Sunday, December 28, 2014

Annual Bend trip

The weekend before Christmas, John and I made our annual trip to Bend and Mt Bachelor with a lot of our good friends to kick off the ski and snowboard season. This is the 4th year we have done this, I look forward to getting together with everyone, drinking, eating, watching cheesy ski movies and of course snowboarding. Sometimes the weather on Mt Bachelor is less than optimal for snowboarding, which happened one day during our trip, it was raining instead of snowing. 


On the lift with Chris, John and Karrla
Mine and Amber's snow selfie

I took advantage of the "free day" and went running on the Deschutes River trail, which I have done on a few other trips. I thought I should find a different trail, but the proximity to Bend, length of the trail and being right next to a river is hard to beat. Luckily the rain held out for me and I didn't have to run in snow like previous years. I highly recommend this trail, if you ever find yourself looking for a route to run while waiting for snow to fall. 

Deschutes River
Crazy stairs on the trail

Monday, December 15, 2014

Annual birthday run

Our very first "ultra" (distance greater than a marathon) was running the Wildwood trail from its start near the zoo in Washington Park to its sudden end at Newberry Road in Forest Park in 2011, only a few weeks after running our first trail marathon. The day we did it happened to be right between our birthdays, which are only six days apart and fall near the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Back then, it was more birthday challenge than treat.

Our start at the Newberry end of Wildwood
In 2013 we did it again, the opposite direction (in 2012 we ran the North Face Endurance Challenge 50k in San Francisco the next weekend, so we skipped Wildwood). This way is supposed to be more challenging because the major hill up to Pittock Mansion (mile 3.9) comes closer to the end, when you're more tired. For some reason it felt great the whole way, nearly effortless. In fact, it was on this run that we decided to change our registration in the Tarawera Ultra from the 60k to the 85k-- our first attempt at a distance greater than 50k.

The sun emerges
So this year, we had to do something a little different. We started at the Newberry Rd end, ran all the way to the start at the zoo, then back up and over Pittock again to Birch Trail and Ann's house. Thirty-eight miles. We left Ann's car at the Wildwood trailhead on NW 53rd (mile 9.18, or around 21 miles into our run), filled with fresh clothes and shoes to change into, snacks, treats and gear.

Inside the Audi aid station
Right from the start, the weather was fickle. We had rain, snow and sun within the first three miles! We joked every time the weather changed that we must've completed another mile. Nothing lasted for long and it was all quite gentle, but we had at least five separate bouts of snow, a few of icy rain, lots of light rain, quite a few sun breaks, and even fog at our second summit of Pittock. But through it all, with our now-extensive experience and fine-tuned gear, we stayed pretty comfortable and had fun.  


Changing of the guard: fresh shoe with old, dried mud and old shoe with fresh mud
Predictably, one of the toughest parts was starting back up after our "Audi aid station." We had stopped just long enough to cool off, so when we started back up we used disposable handwarmer packs to help defrost our poor hands. Although I bought them last year, we had never used them before and they were a revelation. The next day Ann bought a whole box for all of our upcoming winter adventures.

Wildwood at its start-- only one way to go!
We started around 7:15am and finished around 3:30pm-- just about dawn til dusk. My birthday happened to be the best day for the run and I couldn't have asked for a better present. Now what can we come up with for next year?

Back at Birch and the end of our Wildwood excursion

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Some days are harder than others

I got home late on Friday night, and it was my turn to pick the route for our long run on Saturday, so I searched our blog and chose a 20 miler we hadn't done in a while. It was a straightforward loop, but it felt hard; much more difficult than our 38 miles last Saturday.

Was I still recovering from last week's very long run? Tired from a night of little sleep? Dragging from the wine I drank last night? I think the answer is yes, to all of it.

After our picnic break, Ann was feeling it too. Although the conditions were great-- it wasn't raining and it was a great temperature-- we were both glad when it was over.

A long-toed salamander on Wildwood

Nearly to Birch, on Wildwood, we almost stepped on this cute little long-toed salamander (Ambystoma macrodactylum)-- a welcome distraction! This is only the second salamander I've seen in Forest Park in the decade I've been running there.