Thursday, November 29, 2007

Tasting the Tapeworm

Last night I headed out to ride Tapeworm (aka "Towers of Power") near Phillip Arnold Park in Renton. RVG was leading a training ride on this rainy, 40 degree night. About 10 people showed up, many whom I had met previously (Kimberly, Peteris, Frenchie, Matt). Ryan provided me with a Light-in-Motion HID light, which was sweet. I could see the wet leave-covered roots, logpiles and coat-grabbing blackberries as if it were daylight. I swapped out my EggBeaters for this ride, and was glad I did. I had more than my share of heart stopping slips and slides by the end of the evening, not the best time to learn on clipless pedals.
I'll be back next week to try again.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Learn to Swim

I've been meaning to start swimming more, but it seems that fate has been against me. First, the Queen Anne pool closed for a few months, then every time I was set to go swimming, something happened to dissuade me: lethargy in the morning, missing swim card, Kathy wants to do something else, we just ate, etc. Anyways, I had to drive my parents to the airport, and I was guaranteed to get up early. I had my swim card, and I had nothing else to do. So the stage was set.

When I got back from the airport, I woke up Kathy and we went out for coffee before I went swimming. She decided to defrost her car, and somehow managed to lock her keys in the car with the motor running. Luckily, the starts were aligned and AAA came over post haste and got the car unlocked. We made it to coffee and I got to go swim (for a half an hour) after all. I managed to swim a half mile in a half hour, and had to stop to catch my breath every lap. Much room for improvement, me thinks. I will be going again soon. My goal for now is to be able to swim a mile in 40 minutes (stopping as much as I want) and to try to improve my technique.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Seattle Half Marathon

Yesterday, the family ran the Seattle half marathon, a Thanksgiving tradition. Our dad wanted to win his age group for the fourth year in a row, and he got anxious when we left the house only 45 minutes before the race started to make the 5 minute trip down to Seattle Center. Wayne and I lined up with our dad at the front, while Kathy and Karen were further back in the mass of 7000 people behind us.

I started out fast, and as it turns out, I kept up the pace. At mile 6, my time was 39:08, (6:31/mile), and after a couple slower miles in the middle, I picked it up again and finished in 1:25:52. My weeks of long mileage training helped me keep the pace I had set throughout the race, and I never felt out of breath until the last couple hundred yards. I did suffer a minor ankle injury. I'll call it "White River tendonitis", as it is similar to the tendon inflammation I got after the White River 50, though not nearly so bad.

Our dad finished in 1:44 or so, and Wayne managed a PW (personal worst) after pulling a muscle at mile 2, and finished in 1:56. Our dad was happy that he could still beat at least one of his sons, which softened the blow when he found out he was only second place in his age group. He lamented his "end game", in which he had run up alongside another older man near the finish, who then sped up and beat him by fifteen seconds. He thought he should have stayed behind the other man until the very end and then made a surprise sprint past him. Warren is still waiting for the official results to come out to see whether that was the person that beat him in his age group (they've been having computer problems) - he hopes it was someone else who beat him by five minutes.

After the race we went back to the house and had a spectacular brunch with some of the other racers and friends. Kathy is wondering whether she should do the Vancouver marathon now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Family visits

My father is visiting from Colorado.
He comes to Seattle every year for Thanksgiving, and we run the Seattle half-marathon. He's quite the mountain man, and I'm luck to share a few genes with him. He's a bit competetive, though. When my brother and I started beating him in the half-marathon (only a few years ago, and he is 68 now), he'd let us know that when he was 60, he was still faster than we are today. He also likes to come to Seattle and win his age group. He's at the computer, scoping out the competition, and who was 64 last year that might be competetive in his age group now. Then he'll go try to find out what their bib number is when we register, so that he can sneak up on them at the end of the race and trip them or something as he runs by. Ok, maybe not actually trip, but he definitely has his eye on you if you're 65 this year.

Warren also likes to run the Imogene Pass run, which is out in Colorado in September. Last year, someone broke his course record for 65 to 69 year olds, so he doesn't get to run it for free any more. He's looking forward to running this run in 2009 when he is 70, so he can set a new age group record. I might go run it with him.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Surf Ski Accident in Bellingham Bay

While at Body Boat Blade this weekend, I heard about a surf-ski accident in Bellingham Bay:

This is what the newspaper said below. Shawna said that the kayaker got separated from his boat, and his friend could not find him (did his friend go for his boat first?), so went for help on shore (no VHF?). It took them three hours to find him, at which point he was unconcious. He died several days later. Note that he was wearing a drysuit, although with minimal layers underneath. Drysuits do not save you from everything, however. They should have had a way to call for help (VHF) and a strobe attached to his PFD wouldn't have hurt, either.

BELLINGHAM — A Bellingham doctor remained in critical condition Friday at St. Joseph Hospital after his surf ski tipped in Bellingham Bay Thursday evening.

Lanny “Bip” Sokol, 40, was taken to the hospital after spending three hours in Bellingham Bay. He and another man were kayaking from Boulevard Park to Post Point when a gust of wind tipped both of them over about 5 p.m., Bellingham Police said. The other kayaker was able to recover, get back in his kayak and paddle back to Boulevard to get help.

Searchers from the U.S. Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection and the Bellingham police and fire departments combed the area with helicopters and boats searching for Sokol.

He was found unconscious facedown in the water about 8 p.m., Bellingham police said. He was taken by boat to the shore and then rushed to the hospital.

Fellow paddlers, who had posted online updates during the search Thursday, were hoping for the best for their friend. Sokol is an avid local kayaker who practices emergency medicine at St. Joseph.

“He’s a super great guy,” kayaker Jeff Hegedus said. “He’s been taking care of local people for a long time as a doctor. Now it’s time for us to take care of him.”

Hegedus said Sokol is doing the best he can given his current situation. Friends declined to give details on Sokol’s condition.

Surf skis are different from other kayaks, with a very narrow and long body. They’re generally racing vessels for use on the ocean, where the paddler sits on top rather than inside, said Brandon Nelson, a local kayaker.

Surf skis are much more skill-intensive because of their size, Nelson said, but they are also easier to recover and get back on when they capsize.

Most paddlers wear a leash that connects them to the surf ski, making it easier to keep in contact with the boat if it tips. It was unknown if Sokol had the leash attached. He was wearing a dry suit at the time.

Circumnavigation of Haida Gwaii -- slideshow

I went to see Leon and Shawna's slide show of their trip around Haida Gwaii this summer.
They paddled with Justine Curgenven, who is going to feature part of their expedition in her new film, "This is the Sea 4". The slide show was only an hour long and gave just a taste of their trip - I was hoping for more.
Roy Massena, Andrew Feucht came up and joined Kathy and me on a trip around Sucia Island the next day. Roy and I talked a bit about a possible expedition next summer. Roy sounds like he wants to go for a month or more. I'll have to wait and see what happens with my Western States bid first.
Body Boat Blade also had a big sale on Saturday, so I bought some new gear. One of the things I got was a cag (cagoule), which is a very useful safety item. It can be put on over your PFD and everything else you are wearing, which is a real boon if someone is getting hypothermic on the water. It also has a shock cord that can go around the cockpit combing, acting as a sprayskirt.

Racing the Planet

On Monday, I went to REI to see "Racing the Planet", a talk about medicine and ultra-endurance running by Dr. Brian Krabak, who was running the medical team for the Racing the Planet race series. Dmitri Kieffer and Roger Michel were also there to answer questions. Racing the Planet is a 5-day 150 mile staged race across the Gobi, Atacama or Sahara desert. These races pique my interest. I'll have to look into them sometime.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Ron Herzog 50km

On Saturday, I ran in the Ron Herzog Memorial 50km trail run in Granite Falls. After raining during my driver out there, the weather cleared up, and it looked to be turning into a decent day.
The run is mostly on logging roads, 3000 ft of gain, and there is a bout a four mile stretch on a decommisioned logging road called the "Tank Traps", which involves a little bushwacking, climbing over/under downed trees, and climbing into and out of gullies that were ripped across the road. Oh, not to mention the river crossing, the washout, and a few sections of swampy mud-fest.
I ran the Herzog run last year as my first ultra trail run last year, and I found it quite runnable. This year, I vowed to attack the course and give it my all. And so I did.
I left the starting line running hard, and I heard James Varner and Brock Gavery wishing me well. Brock is a machine, and I knew that he could eventually catch up with me - I just hoped that it wasn't within the 31 miles. My heart rate spike to 160 for fifteen minutes during the start. I kept fighting to relax, but I looked behind me, and a woman (Devon Crosby-Helms) was right behind me. I was scared that I would burn out and that she would blow by me. I ran every hill, only stopping briefly when I was around a corner where she couldn't see me, and I kept pushing. Eventually I got far enough ahead that everyone was out of sight.
When I hit the Tank Traps, I felt better. I figured to increase my lead by several minutes over anybody who was squeamish about falling or getting a stick in the eye. I got poked in the eye once, leaving it bloodshot, but I barrelled ahead, bushwacking with hands in front of my face to guard against the branches, and ducking and dodging to find the best line through all the saplings and downed trees that cluttered the abandoned forest road. I think that my concentration on avoiding obstacles kept my mind of myself and allowed me to relax more. I made it through the Tank Traps without falling once (several runners finished the race with blood running down their legs) and hit the aid station at 2:15, 25 minutes faster than last year.
I forgot about the fairly long (yet gradual) uphill in the second half of the course, but I had enough energy left to keep running it. I felt like Brock was somewhere behind me slowly winnowing the gap between us, so I pounded the downhill, hoping my tendons didn't get inflamed like after White River.
A couple more miles on the highway, and I was crossing the finish in 4:08 (4:10 by my watch though), about a half hour better than last year. Brock finished 2nd in 4:18, then James in 4:26, then Devon (who apparently got lost in the Tank Traps for 10 minutes) in 4:37. I can tell that she is definitely going to be a fierce competitor in future races.
Roger Michel served up cups of soup, and I relaxed at the finish chatting with some of the other finishers for an hour or two before heading home with my cannister of Hammer Heed as a victory trophy.

Monday, November 5, 2007

RICO Challenge

I joined my first (not counting the Beast Races) Adventure Race.
It was a somewhat informal race put on by Eric Abraham (aka "Rico") that started in Lake Samammish Park.
Roger told me about it and introduced me to Eric a few days ahead of time, and he told me to c'mon down.

So, I did, not really knowing what to expect. It was definitely worth the trip.

Leg #1: Kayaking Lake Samammish (5 miles). I was on a team with Ryan&Jen VanGorden and her father, Jim. Jen was 6 months pregnant, so she sat out the kayak while the rest of us did the course. I led everyone out past CP 1 to CP2 where we were supposed to find our team name on green flagging. I couldn't find it. Ryan and Jim showed up, and they couldn't find it. Every other team found _their_ name, but ours was missing. We left CP1 ten minutes after everyone else. Jim had trouble paddling the sit-on-top, so I hooked up a tow. While Ryan and I paddled, Jim yelled out directions like "go faster!". CP 4 was a "jungle river",
and Ryan found a nice portage over to the next beach while I checked in at the CP, so we saved a little time getting to the finish, but we still finished DFL. Hey, I had fun, though.

We put our kayaks away and hustled over to the start of the Mount Bike leg. Rico adds a "team swap" twist to it, where each team gets to pick a member from the team in front of it. Then, the first place team got to pick a member from our team. They picked Ryan (he's on Dart/Nuun AR team, and quite good). We picked up Rick ____. Jen joined us for the mountain bike, which predicted to be slow, so I settled in for a nice casual race.
We mountain biked over to Newport Way and up some hills to a playground area where there was a time trial on a little push scooter (I hear they're popular in Europe). My team went last. As we were ready to set off again for more mountain biking, a call came down that noone had shown up yet for the next CP, which was only minutes away. We went very carefully and found the trail "hidden" in the bushes that wound its way through the subdivisions to the next CP, and all of a sudden, we were 3rd. With newfound vigor, we carefully navigated through the rest of the CPs (Rick and I agreeing on direction, Jen and Jim keeping up), and made it to Anitaircraft Ridge for the run.
Before the run, teams got to choose a member from the team below them, and I was picked up by Aaron (van der Waal) and Connie as the navigator. We manuevred smoothly through the Cougar Mountain trails, Aaron using a tow on Connie most of the way, and I running ahead. The CP on Wilderness Peak had a picture of a trail sign elsewhere in the park for the next CP - a nice twist.
After the run, we drew straws with the other team that had finished, and my new team was now Roger Michel and Reed (from Portland). We were the "B" team and supposed to redraw with the next team that showed up, but noone did for a while, so we set off on the Mountain Bike leg back to Samammish. I got a flat (arrgh!). Roger and Reed and I all worked on it together and got it fixed in record time. I had a CO2 inflater and only one cartridge; never having tried it before, I sure hoped it worked, and it did, reinflating my wheel in seconds. Back in action, we cruised back to the finish.
Clifton Lyles cooked up some tasty grub for all of the finishers, so we relaxed and ate good food while watching the rest of the racers comes in. My team finished 6 hours after we started, coming in 2nd (out of 6?), although the places were all somewhat random given the team switching we were all doing. I met a whole lot of great people and am looking forward to the next race!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Ready, Set, Go!!

It's about time to start a blog to keep track of my plans and adventures.
Lots of new things are happening this year.
* I got a new road bike. I am learning how to ride with clipless pedals, and only fell once. My manager, Jason, is a cyclist and he and I go out on rides at lunchtime a couple times a week now. It's a nice perk.
* I'm running more. I ran 50 miles (or close to it) four out of the last five weeks. I should be in really good shape for trail races, with running and cycling on top of that.
* I've started to learn how to mountain bike. I tried going to Tolt-MacDonald Park in Carnation with John, and we had a lot of fun. I went down Preston RR Trail on Tiger Mountain, and could not wipe the grin off of my face, at least not until I saw I had a flat tire.
* I've started learning how to orienteer. I went to a couple orienteering meets in the past couple weeks, and they are a lot of fun. They usually last an hour. You get a detailed map of the park or location you are in, and you race around attempting to tag all the control points as fast as you can, but not so fast that you forget to look at the map details and end up on the top of a bluff instead of the bottom, or that you think a cliff is a trail. Ok, so there are a few snags to work out in my navigational skills. Not to mention the vampires. I made it to all the checkpoints in the Vampire O (on pre-Halloween weekend) but got
caught by vampires five minutes before the end and I got turned into a vampire. Long story.
* I've met several Adventure Racers, of which I will become one soon. Then I can do all of the above together!