Saturday, November 27, 2010

Stirring up the pot some more: Snowboarding!

I haven't been snowboarding in probably close to five years although I used to do it quite often when living in Colorado from the years 2000 to 2004.  Now living 55 miles from Mt. Hood I decided to recently get back in to this very expressive and fun activity.  First off I want to say how interesting it is that snowboarders are often stigmatized and get a bad rap (especially in the eyes of some skiers!).  I want to share a little story today that may cause you to think before you make a snap judgement based on stereotypes or appearances.

After taking a few runs down the mountain my buddy Mike B. and I slid in to the lift line which wasn't too terribly long.  After a couple seconds I hear someone yell, "Yassine!", from about 30 feet ahead of us in the lift line.  I didn't recognize the snowboarder but next he says loudly, "I've got your wallet!!", and makes room to heave it to me across the crowd.  I catch the wallet as it flaps through the air and am flabbergasted how I lost it and he came upon it.  The wallet was soaking wet and I open it to find the 35 dollars in cash that was in there before and my debit/credit cards, etc.  I try to show my gratitude and yell, "I owe you one!! Thank you so much!", but he disappears into the crowd and up the lift into the flurried sky.  My buddy Mike and I look at each other and say, "did that just happen?!!!"

So I still can't figure out completely what happened but this is what I theorize:  I think I accidentally left my pocket open when retrieving my video recorder out and as you can see in the video below I wrecked at the 1:20 mark in the video.  At that point my wallet must have popped out!  Then this honest guy comes shreddin' along and scoops up the wallet and makes his way past Mike and I down the long descent.  He sees my Oregon drivers license photo and is able to visually pick me out of the crowd!  Amazingly good karma for that guy :-)

Enjoy the video below....We had a great time and definitely felt alive out there today!

Now a few weeks completely off from running I feel that my body is really bouncing back and my mind is loving this variety.  I've been having fun which is the most important thing.  I hit the gym a couple days ago, snowboarded today, and have some more strength building plans as I prepare to start back running soon.  But, I definitely plan to get back out to the mountains for some more snowboarding soon!...and hey!...snowboarders are genuine, honest people too :-)

Beware, so long as you live, of judging men by their outward appearance.
Jean de La Fontaine 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hayward Field Hoe-Down

Craig Thornley and Andy Jones-Wilkins are two runners better known for running trail races...specifically 100-milers like Western States 100 and the like.  Racing ultras involves going way outside your comfort zone.  So does racing an all out mile!  These two longtime runners and colorful personalities of the sport would be going head to head for one mile on the famous Hayward Field Track in Eugene, Oregon the day before Thanksgiving 2010.  I went down to capture the fun-loving competitive event on video and visit the hallowed ground in "Track Town U.S.A".  Boy...running around that track had me thinking of all the legends who poured it out there over the years....and now I'm really itching to get back to running!

Enjoy the video :-)

(Check out AJW's shoe of choice for the race!  Yeah Inov-8!)

I had a really fun time down there today and the weather turned out to be just right.  It was so great seeing everyone and meeting some new folks as well.  There were a couple guys doing a video documentary project for a class on "older" elite endurance athletes (Meghan Arboghast and John Ticer) and they even mentioned to me how refreshing it is to have this type of camaraderie amongst each other.  Good clean fun! You often hear that in ultra running.  One of the coolest things I noticed was seeing AJW's passion for running trickle down to inspiring his sons to lace up the running shoes and hit the track running....good stuff guys!

Have a grateful Thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

F-Lite 195 Shoe Review

Worlds Lightest Trail Racer?  I can't be sure that is true but I do know one thing...these new Inov-8 F-lite 195's are worth giving a try.  I didn't try them out until late in my 2010 season but when I finally did break them out of the box I instantly fell in love.

Basically they are a stripped down version of their predecessor F-lite 230's.  Some of the major differences are:  The F-lite 195's feature a 3mm differential between the forefoot and the heel (compared to the 6mm in the 230's) and a 3mm footbed inside of the shoe (instead of a 6mm).  Also this new model protects the underfoot with a shoc-zone of 1 rather than a 2 in the F-lite 230's.  (For more information on shoc-zone's click HERE).  The bottom of the shoes sport the same tread as their predecessor 230 that includes the sticky rubber for wet conditions.

The result of this "stripping down" process is having your foot even closer to the ground in its most stable and natural position like Inov-8 claims.  I must say I can attest to this claim after having run hundreds of miles in the F-lite 230's.  When I put on the F-lite 195's I could immediately tell the difference even before I ran a mile in them. 

In my last race of the season (The Lithia Loop Trail Marathon) I laced up the F-lite 195's and was extremely impressed by the level of comfort and super light weight (just under seven ounces).  In my opinion they are very aesthetically pleasing as well.   If you're in the market for a minimalist shoe for hard pack trails that allow your feet to hug the ground and do what they are supposed to then look no further.  These sleek slipper-like trail shoes definitely agree with my foot.  Here is a quick list of pros and cons:

Pros:  Lightweight, comfortable, very low profile, good for a variety of different trails and roads, very breathable and drain well, aesthetically pleasing 

Cons:  Sticky rubber wears out quickly, not great in soft, sloppy conditions, the uppers have been known to rip by the pinky toe

Enjoy this shoe and if you have any questions or would like to share your experience with them I'd love to hear from you!  :-)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Off-season Snowshoeing

Tis the season to be taking a break from running (for me anyway) to give the body a rest from the day in and day out trauma that the activity brings.  Last weekend William Emerson and I decided to head out to Mt. Hood for a slower paced and lower intensity adventure. SNOWSHOEING!!!! This is another really soulful way to enjoy the mountains and the snow at the higher elevations.  I picked up a pair of MSR snowshoes and dug out my snow gear from storage for our little 6-hour excursion.

We started up at The Timberline Lodge and headed out on the Timberline Trail (Pacific Crest Trail) towards Paradise Park.  The weather was a little drizzly at first but stopped shortly after we started.  The visibility wasn't great either but there was definitely some good snow up there at the higher elevations.

As you can see in the map above we started at The Timberline Lodge and worked our way west climbing and descending eventually all the way down to the Zig Zag River in the Zig Zag Canyon.  According to William's Suunto altimeter we climbed about descended about 2,000 feet and covered about 6 miles, which is a pretty good amount for snowshoeing!  I took some pretty good pictures but unfortunately I accidentally erased them when I got home....oops.  We had a really great time and I must say this was much more of a workout than I expected.

It was really nice to take in all the beauty that the mountains offer from a new lens and in a different season.  The last time I was out there prior to last weekend I was charging up and down the mountain in running shorts and a singlet in the Great NW Mountain Run.  Much different circumstances this time but just as enjoyable of an experience.

If you're looking for some off-season activity snowshoeing is a great low-impact and fun alternative to running.

Here is another video of us doing a loop to The Tilly Jane Cabin on the other side of the glorious Mt. Hood!

I may head back out there again this weekend!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lithia Loop Trail Marathon Race Report

Before heading to Ashland, Oregon for The Lithia Loop Trail Marathon this past weekend I declared to friends and family that this would indeed and definitely be my last race of the long 2010 season.  This was my first trip to Ashland despite having registered for the 2009 race, and the inaugural Pine to Palm 100 this year that took place in the same general area.  Finally, I was making the hajj to one of the ultra running meccas in the west!

I scooped up William Emerson and jumped on I-5 south on Friday afternoon and the weather was looking tame for the race weekend....(thankfully we didn't get the same weather as Pine to Palm!).  About 4.5 hours and numerous ultra stories later we sailed into Ashland, Oregon and The Rogue Valley Runners Club Store.

(Owner/ultra runner Hal Koerner owns and operates this really sweet store)

Erik Skaggs checked us in, gave us our race packet, and we wandered around the store "geekin' out" and gawking at all the gear.  We met a bunch of runners and recognized some familiar faces as well before heading down to the Co-op for our pre-race feed.  Timothy Olson (who has exploded on to the scene) and his wife Christa graciously opened their beautiful home to William and I, and it was very enjoyable getting to know them better.  Thanks!

OK...race morning... we drove over to the beautiful park and on our way there... right in the middle of a neighborhood (B street I believe) we see an 8-point buck just chillin' and eating someone's lawn!  We took a quick look, parked, and warmed up a little before checking in at the Pioneer Hall.  I bumped into Jeff Browning just before "go time" and noticed that there were some really fit looking runners assembling.  Finally Hal got us together, gave us his spiel, and sent us off for the USATF Trail Marathon Championships.

I ran with Max King for the first 30 seconds and then he pulled away.  Then about five other guys tried going with him.  I knew that I had no business even attempting that and played it conservatively on our initial climb.  The first 8 miles didn't really give us much of a reprieve in terms of steepness.  There were parts that were less steep but when you're racing hard it doesn't take much to get the heart rate up there.  I was doing some of my usual huffin' and gruntin' like a locomotive steam train up the mountain as a bunch of runners moved ahead of me and out of sight.  Mile 8 Skaggs filled my water bottle and sent me on my way and I knew that it was time to start hammering as the big climb was behind us.  It was pretty helpful because this was a rare trail run in that mile markers were set up at almost every mile.

I hit 10 miles in 1:18:40 probably in about 14th place overall. It was now time to start trying to pick some people off.  As I picked up the pace on the rolling downhills I started seeing people off in the distance.  First I passed Paul and then eventually Dave Dunham.  Then I came across Tim and then Greg McMillan who was having some hip issues.  As you can see in the mile splits below I was really opening up my stride and going for broke especially since it was my last race of the season.

Mile 11:  6:11                             Mile 17:  6:55                   
Mile 12:  6:36                             Mile 18:  6:05
Mile 13:  5:54                             Mile 19:  6:01  
Mile 14:  5:59                             Mile 20:  6:08
Mile 15:  5:50                             Mile 21:  5:30
Mile 16:  6:05                             Mile 22:  5:58

The last four miles I didn't get any mile splits as I was trying to focus on the technical steep downhills which turned out to be really difficult but also pretty fun!  Once I hit that section I knew that my goal time of 2:55 was ruined but I still wanted to sneak under 3 hours.

I finally hit the road and tried to push as much as possible thinking that I may be able to pick somebody else off.  No dice!  There were some really fast guys at this race and I came into the finish line area to see the clock.................... 2:58:42

I didn't really need to ask who won and congratulated Max and met some of the other runners at the finish.  It was a really great vibe down there.  I wore the new Inov-8 F-Lite 195's and boy were they light and fast.  I really like this shoe as it hugs the ground more and is a little lighter than it's predecessor 230.  Plus I like the stealth looking jet black color!

(Dave Dunham and I...this guy has run a sub 7-hour White River in the past! photo: Richard Bolt)

(Timothy Olson, me, Neil Olsen, Dave Richard Bolt)

We all hung out had some of the post race food and had a great time just lounging around talking about the race and season.  Many of us speculated about possible race plans for the upcoming new year while staying warm in Pioneer Hall.  Hal Koerner and Richard Bolt facilitated the awards ceremony and thanked us all for coming.  Thank You Hal and volunteers....You guys did an outstanding job and made the event very enjoyable.  Ashland is a super cool town and I really love the trail running scene....although I must say....I'm happy to be taking an extended break from running to rest and repair a tired body and mind! :-)

(Proud of my 8th place USATF medal!  Photo: Shahid Ali)

Official Results can be found by clicking HERE

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lithia Loop Trail Marathon Preview

The Lithia Loop Trail Marathon is taking place this Saturday November 6th in Ashland, Oregon.  The course climbs about 2700 feet in the first 8 miles and does a big loop around Lithia Park on singletrack trails and forest service roads climbing about 4500 feet in total over 26.2 miles.  This will be my first time to Southern Oregon and I am really looking forward to taking the "foot tour" of the park.  

(course map)

(course elevation profile)

Click HERE to read a little write-up about the race this weekend.  

See you on the trails!