Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Best Organic Foods

I am interested in knowing which foods are best to get organic, and which don't matter so much. Everything I know I learned from google, so I tried to look up the answer on the web. The first site I found had this shocking statement:

"For some families, ketchup accounts for a large part of the household vegetable intake..."


Here is what another site said about the best and worst NON-organic foods:

Twelve "cleanest non-organic foods"

• Asparagus
• Avocados
• Bananas
• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Corn (sweet) AVOID: Probably Genetically Modified
• Kiwi
• Mangos
• Onions
• Papaya
• Pineapples
• Peas (sweet)

Tweleve RISKIEST foods
• Apples
• Bell Peppers
• Celery
• Cherries
• Imported Grapes
• Nectarines
• Peaches
• Pears
• Potatoes
• Red Raspberries
• Spinach
• Strawberries

And here is another site's list of "most risky non-organic foods" with the worst being listed first:

1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Sweet Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Nectarines
6. Strawberries
7. Cherries
8. Pears
9. Grapes (imported)
10. Spinach
11. Lettuce
12. Potatoes
13. Carrots
14. Green Beans
15. Hot Peppers
16. Cucumbers
17. Raspberries
18. Plums
19. Grapes (domestic)
20. Oranges

Monday, July 27, 2009

White River 50 Miles

In the days heading up to White River, I was a little anxious about how I would perform. I strained my back moving furniture over to our new house in Wallingford, and I also worried about the heat, as I have run very few races during the summer. I also wanted to do well so that I could place high in the Washington Ultra Series. I decided to forgo Cascade Crest training runs for a few days and spend some time at home, fixing things around the house, and by race day I felt OK.

I drove down on Friday afternoon with my friend and fellow adventure racer, Murray Maitland. We set up our tents at Buck Creek, a couple hundred yards from the start/finish, then headed over to packet pickup, where I was immediately heckled by Adam Hewey for turning 40 and entering the Master's category only a few weeks ago. I had already decided not to join USATF (necessary in order to compete for prize money) and Adam seemed relieved to hear that. I didn't really want to feel pressured to compete, as I enjoy a race much more when it feels more relaxed and social.

I woke up at 4:45am to the sound of a caravan of cars arriving for the early start at 5:30, and I spent my time planning in my mind how much water I would need at each aid station and what food to pack with me. I usually do not rely at all on aid stations for food, and instead pack a small waist pouch with sufficient food to complete half the race. I leave another pouch of food in the drop bag at Buck Creek for the second half of the race, along with two extra water bottles of my favorite energy drink mixture, so I can quickly swap out as I go by.

At 6:30am, we are toeing the line, ready to start, although we delay for about a minute while we all wait for Scott Jurek to come back from the porta-potties. I try to stay back mid-pack as I really need to learn to start slower, and I figure that putting a bunch of bodies in front of me will help me with that. The countdown hits zero, and we are off.

I run comfortably for the first ten minutes, and then I start passing a few slower people as I warm up. Soon I am running right behind Chris Twardzik, who is the one person I'd like to beat in this race, as we are competing for the Washington Ultra Series. After several minutes behind him, I decide that I am going to let him chase me in this race, and speed up to catch the next chain of runners up ahead. I enjoy running behind three or four other runners, as their energy pulls me effortlessly along, and we continue on past the first aid station (3.9 miles / 32 minutes?) and into the climb up to Ranger Creek.

As the climb steepens, I pull away from some of the slower runners in the paceline, until I am behind Prudence L'Heureux. After she stumbles and drops her Powerbar into the bushes then goes to retrieve it, I am on my own for a while, speed-walking the steeps and jogging the mellower sections of the climb to Ranger Creek.

I pull into Ranger Creek (11.7 miles / 1:53?) with both my bottles empty. I quickly fill up one bottle of water and I'm off again. I feel pretty great. No back issues either. The trail here climbs up through the trees some more and pops out a couple times at amazing overlooks atop thousand foot cliffs - nice! The climbing is mostly over, and we follow some beautiful ridgeline singletrack on our way to Corral Pass. This section is an out-and-back, so everyone gets a chance to say hi to friends or scope out the competition, depending on their attitude. A couple of the sections are a bit narrow, and the guy in front of me falls off the trail as he steps off to let a runner come by in the opposite direction. When I see Kami Semick coming back at us, I know I am close, and I arrive at Corral Pass a minute later (16.9 miles / 2:45?). I fill up my bottle with water again and leave.

I remember two years ago when I did this race. In retrospect, training 30 miles a week does not a 50 mile racer make. I went out fast, and by the time I reach Corral Pass, I was not ready to leave. I spent a few minutes at every aid station, eating and drinking and trying to recover. In the end, I almost killed myself to finish sub 9 hours. This time around, I am beating a 10 minute per mile pace, and I've still got a big downhill to come. And I feel great.

I start retracing my steps back toward Ranger Creek, only to pass Chris Twardzik going the other way, just a couple minutes behind me. I still have my work cut out for me. I say hi to all of my friends as we pass and before I know it I am back at Ranger Creek. One of the aid station workers, Scott, knows my name and says he knows me from living in Queen Anne. Small world. At the end of the race, he'll even share some beers with me.

Back to the present, we turn onto a new trail for a steep downhill section towards Buck Creek. This section is my favorite part. The trail is soft and the descent is long and shaded, punctuated occasionally by a switchback. I see glimpses of a runner behind me. It is Adam Hewey, who heckled me a little last night. He and I pull into Buck Creek together (mile 27.2 / 4:10?) . I quickly restock my food and grab two filled bottles from my dropbag, and I'm off. After I leave though, I wait for Adam for a few seconds to catch up so that we can run together and chat. He is angling for an 8 hour finish, which looks quite feasible at this point. I am happy to have someone to talk with as we mostly hike up the climb to Fawn Ridge.

On our way up, we come across Phi Kochik, who joins in with us. Adam lives in Ballard, and Phil now lives around the corner from my new house in Wallingford. It's funny that they live so close and I haven't talked with either of them before for more than a minute or two.

Fawn Ridge represents two thirds of the climb up to Suntop, and I'm still feeling fine. Clouds came in to cover the sun, which really helped prevent me from overheating. The weather is hot, but not nearly as bad as I had expected and feared.

Phil, Adam and I ran loosely together all the way to Suntop, passing Kami Semick along the way. I feel good to be passing famous ultra-runners at this point in the race. Kami seems most concerned about whether Prudence is behind us. We say that we think she is quite a ways behind, and Kami relaxes a bit. We pull into Suntop (mile 37 / 6:05?) and smile for Glenn, who is taking our pictures with Mt Rainier as a backdrop.

We head on down the forest road at a reasonably relaxed pace. At least, my legs aren't complaining as much as they could be. I do have a huge blister on my sole, however, and it slowly gets bigger as we pound the 3000' of descent down the road to Skookum Flats. We see Hal Koerner turning into Skookum Flats when we are only a few hundred yards away.

We pull into Skookum Flats (mile 43.4 / 6:51) with time to spare to break the 8 hour barrier. I look for a couple Gus, but they don't have any. I am a little behind on my food at this point, as my stomach has been bothering me slightly, but I think I can finish. A couple hundred yards out from the aid station, a feel a little light-headed, and I slow down to eat what I can from my waist bag, letting Adam and Phil disappear into the woods. I continue on. I can feel the heat emanating from my body. The one water bottle that I filled up for the last 6.6 miles is now half-empty. I have to stop and eat a little more. I think that I just ran out of gas.

It's a bit disappointing to run a race so well and then bonk a few miles from the finish line. I think that is what happens when you start looking forward to the finish and stop paying attention to your body. In retrospect, I should have brought an extra water bottle on the downhill from Suntop and ate and drank a little more while I was relaxing on the downhill. In any case, I still have a race to finish.

Next comes the double disappointment. Chris Twardzik passes me with twenty minutes to go. He looks great. I struggle to run as best I can. I run out of water.

At one point, the trail passes very close to White River, and I refill a water battle with silty river water. I pour it on my head as I run. I think that the food is starting to help, or it may just be the lure of the finish line, but I get at least a part of my energy back, and I can run the last several hundred yards to the finish line. Final time was just over 7 hours 50 minutes. 14th place. I was quite happy. I finished 3rd in the Masters category. Only later did I find that the prize money would have been $200 if I had signed up for USATF. Oh well, maybe next year. Congrats to Adam for picking up 2nd place Masters. He'll be tough competition in races to come.
Also, congrats to Anton Krupicka, who broke Uli's old course records by about 30 seconds.

Afterwards, I hobbled down to White River for a post-race soak, then went over to the medical tent to get all the grit out of my blister, which was "the size of Milwaukee" according to the guy there. The atmosphere afterwards was really great, and I lounged around for a couple hours with the other racers watching runners come in.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sloan - Corkscrew Route

Zak Bisarcky sent out an email to the WAC email list searching for out-of-work people who wanted to join him on a climb. A few of us responded, and after many emails back and forth, Zak, Rob Hurvitz and I decided to conquer Sloan Peak as a one day adventure.

We met at 65th Street Park and Ride at 5am on July 15th (mid-week) and set out for the Mountain Loop Highway. I decided that we should try the new Mountaineers route starting from Bedal Creek rather than the old Sloan Creek route. I had a topo map and compass, so I figured we could wing it even if we couldn't follow the route directions, which were a little obtuse.

We hiked up Bedal Creek trail for a half hour, then at some point decided that we had gone far enough and turned to head straight up the hill through steep open forest. After several hundred feet of climbing, we turned east and traversed through the forest. I was worried that we might go too far and end up under steep cliffs, but it turns out that we were supposed to keep going east until the forest ended at an open drainage. Instead, we turned and headed up to 5000' through the forest, and then had to bushwhack across nasty brush for much longer than we needed to in order to reach the saddle at 5330'. Crossing the saddle, we joined up with the Sloan Creek route, and aimed for a point just west of a small knoll at 5852'. Here we reached snow and the glacier was ahead of us. We roped up and headed straight up the glacier. Some crevasses were evident, but there was lots of snow and the hike up was easy. We traversed a short ways over to the SW corner of the glacier at 7200' and exited onto rocks, where we left our glacier gear and ice axes.

We followed a well-defined but exposed goat/climber trail for a ways along the south and west slopes until it climbed up to a gully. We scrambled (3rd class) up the gully and followed the ridge above to the summit. The views are beautiful in all directions, as Sloan is the tallest peak in the area, with the exception of Glacier Peak rising not too far to the east. We never saw another person on the whole trip. I like climbing on a weekday. After a half hour or relaxation, we headed down the way that we had come up.

Crossing the saddle, we headed down the open drainage, which was also a difficult and steep bushwhack. Once in the forest, things got easier, and we made it back to the car at 6:30pm - 10.5 hours car to car with breaks.

Forbidden Fourth of July

Kristin Kaupang and Jeff Watts have been wanting to climb Forbidden for a while, and Kathy and I got to join them for a 4th of July attempt. Another group of WACers was also heading up: Denny, Joanna, Liz and Carlos, so we would have a lot of friendly company.

After getting the last permit available, we hiked up to Boston Basin and set up camp. The other WACers were going to head up the mountain in the wee hours of the morning, so we decided on a 6am start to give them a head start, as the mountain was sure to be crowded.

At 6am, we got moving, heading up across the glacier to the snow gully that led to the ridge. We climbed the 50 degree gully for a few hundred feet (don't fall) to reach some rock 4th class ledges. A few exposed moves got us up on the loose rocky ledges, and we headed left up a steep gully another 150 feet to the ridge proper. Leaving our packs, we scrambled a short ways up the ridge before setting up a belay to start the roped climbing.

Kathy and I quickly finished the first pitch behind Kristin and Jeff, only to wait for almost an hour while they finished the second pitch, then someone else came down from above, then a pair simul-climbed past us. I realized that we probably would not reach the summit, as it was too busy, and we had three other rope teams that we knew about ahead of us (all of whom planned to downclimb the West Ridge), as well as several groups of simul-climbers who would occasionally speed past us up and down the ridge.

The ridge itself was mostly very low 5th class climbing. Pitching it out like we did slowed us down a bit, but we were stuck behind Kristin and Jeff and the other two WAC rope teams ahead of them in any case. Kathy and I finished a few more pitches. Kathy was worried about having to downclimb the ridge, so I suggested that we turn around early. We let Kristin and Jeff know that we were turning around and then headed back, taking our time to downclimb the ridge.

Down in the gully, we spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to belay ourselves around the sketchy moves coming up. Only after a lot of delay did we discover that there was a rappel station that allowed us to skip the sketchiest section that came right off the snow, and we rappeled a very short rappel down the last ledge to the snow gully. During this time, we saw a two foot wide slab of rock spontaneously let loose and slide down the snow gully ahead of us as the day warmed up.

Kathy and I downclimbed the gully. Halfway down, we heard a roar of rocks coming down a gully to our left, and we instinctively ducked and covered. We made it down safely, then hiked across the very low angle glacier back to camp. We made it back for dinner at 7pm, a long day. We ate dinner and kept our radio on, listending to how the others were doing.

Kristin, Jeff and others reached the top at 2:30, about an hour and a half after Kathy and I had turned around. With so many people on the mountain, they took a long time to get down, and were still trying to do double rope rappels down the snow gully when the sun set. From our campsite, Kathy and I watched them, like little ants, coming down the snow gully. A rope got stuck and they had to climb partway back up the gully to deal with it. With headlamps on, they trudged back home, tired and weary, making it back to camp at 11pm.

The next morning, everyone was too tired to do anything else, so we slept in, packed up at a casual pace, and headed home.

Enchantments Trail Running

I went out to run the Enchantments loop on June 27th, a popular loop for ultarunners and fast hikers who are unable to get one of the few camping permits in the Enchantments Basin. Kathy also went for a girls-weekend with Victoria, Kristin and Leah, and they planned to hike the loop the same day. We expected to run into each other at some point during the day, and meet for dinner at Gustav's afterwards.

I drove out to Leavenworth early Saturday and started my run from the Stuart Lake trailhead at 9am. I followed a nice trail through the forest up to Colchuck Lake, and rounded it in a counterclockwise direction, aiming for Aasgard Pass. At this point I was rock-hopping more than running. Snow covered part of Aasgard Pass, and waterfalls cascaded down along its right side. I headed straight up along the waterfall/stream, and after passing a rock outcropping on its right, I ascended some steep slabs that eventually became unclimbable and trapped me between rushing snowmelt and steep walls, and I retreated back down to the base of the outcropping. From there, I discovered that the hiker's trail went left, and followed it steeply up the left side of the pass.

At the top I took a breather and chatted with some climbers who were planning on scrambling up Dragontail. It looked inviting, but I had no crampons, ice axe or poles. Maybe next time. The Enchantment Basin was still mostly covered in snow, and I travelled cross country, aiming for Little Annapurna. I climbed easy slabs and snow to reach the summit, with beautiful views of McClellan, Prusik and the rest of the Enchantments. After a few minutes, I headed down and picked up a boot track through the snow towards the lower Enchantment Basin. Mountain goats greeted me. I caught up with Kathy and friends, and we agreed to meet at Gustav's after we had all finished.

I dropped down towards Snow Lake and started to run again, enjoying the 5000 feet of downhill ahead of me. Down, down, down. Near the Snow Lake trailhead, I started to feel the effects of the heat, and I enjoyed stopping at Icicle Creek and soaking my feet when I reached the trailhead. Unfortunately, I still needed to get back to my car at the Stuart Lake trailhead, which was 8 miles away and over one thousand feet higher.

I headed up the road, ready to be done, so I started thumbing for rides. After 15 minutes or so, I caught a ride up to Bridge Creek campground, and started the hike up the side road to Stuart Creek trailhead. On my way, I found a VW hubcap. I had noticed that my car was missing a hubcap the week before. Score! I could use this. I put the hubcap by a turnout in the road and kept hiking. A car came by and gave me a ride to the trailhead and my car. I was done.

I drove back down to the turnout to pick up the hubcap, but it was not there. Then I noticed that my car was missing two hubcaps. Hmmm. I drove to Gustav's, arriving at 6pm, and ate dinner. Kathy and friends showed up an hour later to join me, having completed their own Enchantment loop.

On Sunday, I drove back to Eight Mile TH and ran up to Windy Pass, on the shoulder of Cashmere. A 17 mile round trip, this trail was much more runnable than the Enchantment loop, and was a good complement to the run of the day before. At Windy Pass, the summit of Cashmere beckoned me from a short ways away - perhaps another day. I turned around and headed back. After a milkshake in Leavenworth, I was ready to head home.