29 December 2010

Because We Are Runners


We will go on a run today because we are runners.

We will run tomorrow, too. And we will run the next day. This is who we are.

Running is not a hobby.

Running is not a phase we are going through. We will not get it out of our system.

We will sign up for our second marathon the day after finishing our first marathon.

We will wake early every morning to feel the new sun on our legs. To feel fresh snow under our feet. To feel the wind against our backs. To hear birds and newspaper trucks and our favorite playlists. We will watch early-morning clouds move across mountains and we will taste salt on our lips.

We will run when we are at our smiling happiest. We will run when we are at our saddest sad. We will run when we are tired or sick or married or alone. We will run when we have kids and when loved ones pass away. We will run with souls full of heartache and compassion and trust and overflowing love.

We will run to share our love.

We will run to test our own limits, to prove to ourselves that we can do it.

We will run for our health. We will run if only to listen to our own hearts beating for miles. We will run to feel every muscle. We will run to sing as loud as we can in the middle of the woods.

We will run on dirt and sand and mud and concrete and asphalt and gravel and rock and grass and cinder and rubber.

We will run to see how far the trail will go. We will run to see what speeds the sidewalk can handle. We will run between buildings and canyons, and we will believe we are free.

We will run to feel the earth moving under our feet.

We will run to celebrate the life that is flowing through our bodies.


27 December 2010

Winter Miles

The Atacama Desert Crossing adventure race is just over two months away.  

While I always run during the winter, this is the first winter that I've "trained."  I'm keeping up my weekly mileage in snow and wind and ice.  More importantly, I've been doing all my long runs (and many shorter runs) with my race pack.  It's good to get used to running with a pack on -- different form, foot-strike, cadence, etc.  Right now I have about 15 pounds of newspaper stuffed into it.  I haven't purchased all my gear for the race yet, but when I do I'll transition from newspaper weight to the actual gear I'll be carrying in Chile.  The race website says participants generally carry between 15-20 pounds of gear.  I aim to make it as light as I can.  

I definitely feel myself getting stronger.  It's a little weird training in snow and sub-freezing temperatures for a hot and dry desert race...but there's not a lot I can do about that.  My main goal for the next couple months is to make my legs stronger.  Not surprisingly, the snow is doing a good job toughening me up a bit.

I hope everyone is enjoying the holidays.  Sadie and I had a wonderful weekend on the trails.  Here are a few photos from Saturday's 25-miler:

Keep running!


20 December 2010

Pullman Winter 50k #2 - Race Report

Mother Nature made sure our first Pullman Winter 50k met all the proper winter requirements.

Warm temperatures the past two weeks melted 100% of the snow and ice that had covered the 7.75 mile loop course since November.  The course is a single loop through and around Pullman, WA. Participants have the option to run one, two, three, or four laps.

Seven runners and an ultrarunning dog lined up for a cold 8am start.  Within 15 seconds of the start, the first snowflake fell.  The rest of the morning was a battle against the winter storm that came in fast and hard.

Four of the runners opted for the single loop option, which was (besides not running at all) probably the smartest thing to do Saturday morning.  Three of us weren't so smart.  

The snow wasn't so bad...compared to the wind.  About 4 miles of each loop were straight into the constant snow gusts.  The kind of wintry wind that makes you wish you were had a pair of ski goggles.  And a cup of hot cocoa.  And a Florida address. 

Sadie helped power me through.  She has endless energy and excitement when it's snowing.  It's easier for me to keep running when Sadie loves it just as much (okay, probably more) than I do.  We fought through the wind and snow and finished in a 50k PR of 4:45:26.  Granted, this was my first non-mountain trail 50k, so I expected to PR -- but it was still hard earned.  I must note that the Brooks Utopia Soft Shell jacket is the best jacket I've ever run in.

Enjoy a few ultra-winter images.

Mile 3.5 of loop 1 -- wind and snow.

Mile 5 of loop 1 -- relentless wind.
[VIDEO] Conditions at mile 5 of the first loop. Wind!

By mile 6 of loop 1 there was this much snow on the ground.
With Sadie after the first loop.

Frozen face.

Sadie playing in the bushes.

A few inches of snow piled up fast.

"Look, Ma! I can't feel my toes!"

My Brooks Racer ST 4's after 50k.

After-race beers at Palouse Falls Brewing Co.

We have another Pullman Winter run on Jan. 15.  It probably won't be warm.

Keep running!


13 December 2010

Running the John Wayne Trail at Rock Lake

The Thanksgiving-week blizzard is history.  Warm(er) temperatures and rain have washed away most of the lower-elevation snow.  This is good for runners, but bad for skiers/snowboarders. 

I've been looking at the John Wayne Pioneer Trail for the past week.  This is the trail that I ended my Run Across Idaho on, and it crosses nearly 300 miles of abandoned railroad grade in Washington.  I'm brewing an idea that I might run the entire trail (plus some) during an upcoming summer. 

Anyway, while mapping out the route I noticed a section of the trail not too far from me (1 hour drive) that ran along a 7-mile stretch of a lake called Rock Lake.  Hadn't heard anything about this, but I'm always up for a new and interesting place to run.  And because the snow had melted dramatically over the past couple weeks, I thought it would be safe to give it a try. 

Day trip! 
Sadie leading the way along the abandoned railway grade
that's now the John Wayne Pioneer Trail.

The lake and trail are spectacular!
Unbelievable that I've never heard anyone say,
"Hey Scott, you should go run that trail above Rock Lake - it's spectacular!"

Crossing an old bridge.

There were two tunnels along the section I ran.

It gets darker before it gets lighter.
(Thanks iPhone Flashlight app!)
Sadie above Rock Lake.

Sadie giving me a mini heart-attack on the cliff's edge.

Running through heavy, wet, icy snow (video):

Another amazing view from an old bridge.
This bridge challenged my fear of heights.

A couple miles past rock lake is the picturesque Pine Creek.
This was at 10 miles and my turnaround point.

Running back along the lake and across a rickety old bridge (video):

It was a fantastic run.  Again, I can't believe I hadn't heard of Rock Lake before.  I would have gone farther than I did, but the snow was getting dramatically deeper the farther away from Rock Lake that I got.  I'll definitely return again.  It was worth the hour drive.

I'm doing my weekly long runs in my weighted Chile training pack (only 82 days to go!).  It's quite a new experience to run several hours with a 15 pound pack.  It takes an extra toll on the body.  

I'm putting on a small, local 50k this weekend called the Pullman Winter 50k.  If you're in eastern Washington or North Idaho, come by and join us on Saturday.  It's super low-key and no-fee (think of it as a glorified training run).

Keep running!


11 December 2010

John Wayne Pioneer Trail Map

As of 2018, this trail has been renamed Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail. More info here:

I've created an unofficial map of the entire John Wayne Pioneer Trail, not just the well-documented western half. This page is simply meant to be an informative tool for others seeking an overview of the entire route across the state.

Please contact Washington State Parks for up-to-date permit information (much of the trail east of the Columbia requires a permit to access) and trail conditions (including tunnel closures and bridge crossings).

1. Interactive version of the John Wayne Pioneer Trail done with MapMyRun.com.

2. jpg:

29 November 2010

Snowy Thanksgiving Road Trip

Winter is here.

I try not to travel much during the holidays.  The weather and roads can get a bit dangerous.  And it's tough to fly during the holidays because my dog-sitters are usually out-of-town and I don't like to board Sadie.  Well, all the 10-day weather forecasts I looked at for the week of Thanksgiving looked good, so I thought I'd give it a chance.  I planned to drive down to Salt Lake City for a couple of days to visit my dad, and then we planned to drive up to Alpine, WY to visit my grandparents and brother on Thanksgiving Day.

The drive to Salt Lake was fine.  Roads were clear and safe.  Too easy, right?  Well, sure enough, a blizzard snuck up on us in the Northwest and made its way down through Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah. Driving up to Wyoming and then back to Washington was slow going.  Cars were overturned in snow banks, tow trucks were stuck in ditches, freeways were reduced to 10 MPH, etc.  It took a couple days to get home, but I made it safe. 

Yep, that's why I don't like to travel during the holidays.

Anyway, I did some running too.  Went on a few good runs with Dad near SLC, then had a very cold run in Alpine on Thanksgiving morning.  And then I finally made it back home with enough time to squeeze in a long run, which turned out to be one of the hardest, most tiring non-ultra length runs I've ever been on.  I picked up the backpack that I'm taking with me to Chile so I can start getting used to running with all my gear.  I don't have all my gear yet, so I stuffed the pack with about 12 lbs of newspaper.  I'll increase the weight as my trip gets closer.

My long run was 23 miles, with my weighted pack, in mid-20 degree temps.  What made it so hard was that about 14 of the miles were in at least 6 inches of snow, with some places as deep as my knee.  Very tiring.  The rest of it was on packed snow or ice.  It took me 4h11m to make it home.  Very tiring.

Here's a photo recap of the week:

Above the clouds on White Bird Pass, Idaho

Sadie enjoying a pre-blizzard view of the Salt Lake Valley

[video] Running with Sadie up a snowy Potato Hill above the Salt Lake Valley

[video] Running with Dad above the Salt Lake Valley

Dad on the Bonneville Shoreline Trail above the Salt Lake Valley

Minus-10(F) on my Thanksgiving morning run in Alpine, WY
(It's too cold to smile)

Back in Pullman/Moscow for a 23 mile run through snow

The few miles of plowed path felt like a little piece of heaven

Keep running!


15 November 2010

A Few More Photos of the Changing Season

Thursday - Mt. Spokane
View below the clouds on Mt. Spokane

Ice on the trees when I climbed into the clouds.

Saturday - Moscow Mt.
A few inches of snow on Moscow Mt.
Still very runnable - so winter hasn't won yet! (Sadie LOVES snow.)

Saturday - Moscow Mt.

Snow will push me off the mountain soon enough - but until then, I'm still taking to the trails.

Keep running!


08 November 2010

Running with Trees

It's dark when I get off work now (and it will be for a few months), so weekend runs under the cold, dull sun will be more of an extra little treat than usual.

Winter keeps knocking, but so far it hasn't stepped through the door completely.  The mountain trails are still clear of snow, and the flora are in their final, most colorful stages of the season.

With no events lined up for this past weekend, Sadie and I headed for the hills.  I've had a fun year racing and participating in a lot of events (and I'll probably add a few more races before the year's out), but it's always so nice to get out on the trails with just me and Sadie and the trees.

Near trailhead at bottom of Moscow Mt.

Gold evergreens

This is a LOT of non-snow for November.
No complaints. :)

Keep running!


04 November 2010

Countdown to Chile!

I'm four months away from taking on one of the biggest challenges of my life.

The Atacama Crossing in Chile.

  • 250 km (155 miles) in 6 stages
  • Self supported (participants carry everything but tent and water resupply)
  • The driest desert on the planet

I've put together a four month training plan that I began this week.  To successfully challenge the Atacama Desert, I'll need to be in better shape than I've ever been in.  By February I hope to be in the 80-100 miles per week range.  (A big, white winter that's been forecast for the Inland NW is going to make training that much more difficult.)  Part of me is hoping for a lot of snow -- the harder the training, the better prepared I'll be physically and mentally.

I'm very excited to get out and run.

Keep running!


30 October 2010

Doc Sears Fall Classic

There was another Saturday morning event down in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.  The Doc Sears Classic is a 4.65 mile paved loop course put on by the Lewis-Clark State College cross-country team.

I didn't plan to race hard, and didn't even bring my Garmin or watch to run with.  But my legs were feeling pretty good after about a mile even though my last three weekends have been marathon, half-marathon, and ultra-marathon.  I moved into third place just past mile 1 and ran a couple miles about 50 meters back from the two guys running together in front of me.  

Around mile 3.5 my legs were still feeling good and I was closing the gap between me and the front runners.  So I thought I'd race a bit.  :)  I snuck into second place with about a mile to go and was gaining pretty good on the leader.  But when he glanced back and saw me about 20 meters behind and gaining, he showed that he had something left in his legs too.  I gained on him, but it was too little too late -- I crossed the finish line in 28:02, seven seconds behind him.  (results)

Second race this year I nearly missed by showing up late.
Here I am rushing to the starting line.

Cruising along the Snake River

Loving my Brooks Green Silence

Near mile 4.5 -- The eventual winner is in the blue shirt
ahead of me as we weave through the walkers.

Keep running!


26 October 2010

Goblin Valley Ultra 2010 - Race Report

I had a great trip.  It was amazing to run the Goblin Valley Ultra with my family.  Two of my three sisters, Melanie and Lisa, ran their first 50k.  One of my three brothers, Adam, ran his first 50k.  My sister-in-law, Jennifer, ran her first 50k.  And my dad ran his first 50k since quadruple bypass heart surgery in December '08.  It was such a pleasure to be a part of it all.  I'm so proud of them all.  (Sadie ran the race too - and I'm proud of her as well.)

Goblin Valley is worth a visit if you're traveling to or through southern Utah.  Southern Utah, as a whole, is gorgeous -- but Goblin Valley's landscape is particularly unique.  (Free knowledge: If you've seen the movie Galaxy Quest, then you've seen Goblin Valley -- it's where the rock monster scene was filmed.)

The course was an out and back through breathtaking desert.  The six of us planned to run the course together.  Dad has had a slow (for him) recovery from his surgery and hasn't returned to ultrarunning shape as fast as he'd like.  He hadn't done a run over 20 miles in nearly two years, and contemplated switching to the 25k option before the race.  But last year he ran the 25k option, so he decided to stick with the 50k to, at the very least, run the back half of the course even if he had to drop at the turnaround point.  The rest of the group were in marathon shape, so they were confident and excited to tackle the longer distance.

We all had an absolute blast running together for the first half; when we weren't running in a group, we were rarely more than shouting distance from each other. There was a mile or so of pavement at the beginning, then the course was mostly dirt road.  The views were everything I love about the desert. Dad was plugging away the entire time.  One foot in front of the other.  Perpetual forward motion.

Most of the course was relatively flat, with any elevation change the long and gradual variety.  The course did have a few short, steeper climbs (and some of the best views) in the miles near the turnaround point.  Dad hit his low point on the trudge back up the hills after the turnaround. (Side note: the course was a bit short this year as the turnaround had to be moved up because the road at the original turnaround was washed away in a storm the day before the race.)  We were all aware going into the race that he was going to go as far as he could and then drop if he needed to. But we all wanted to stick with him for as long as we could while still making sure that we could finish under the cutoff time if he dropped.  His pace had slowed considerably, and he was starting to hurt pretty bad.  I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was going to try to make it to the next aid station near mile 16 and drop.  I told Adam to go ahead with the ladies and don't wait on us.  I planned to stick with Dad until he dropped, and then I would catch up with them.

Even though he had slowed considerably, Dad was still under the cutoff pace, so I wouldn't let him drop at the next aid station.  We had some time cushion and I calculated that he could finish under the time if he could hold his steady walk.  I told him that as long as he was under the cutoff pace he wasn't allowed to drop.  So we made it through the next aid station.  Then the next.  Slow and steady.  One foot in front of the other.  Our overall pace was getting slower and slower, but we were still sitting under the cutoff time.

He got a boost around mile 21.  His walk quickened and he ran a few of the downhills.  Mile 22.  Mile 23.  Mile 24.  When he started talking about how tired he was and what he was planning to do when he got to the finish line (instead of "if the sweep vehicle comes, I'm going to get a ride with them"),  I knew that dropping out had left his mind.  Some might see that as insignificant, but it's HUGE when an ultrarunner visualizes being at the finish line instead of other (less finish-y) options.  I knew his mind was in the right place and that it was just a matter of time (which we still had enough of) before we hit the finish line.

Tacked on to the end of the out and back course is the highlight of the race: the mile or so through Goblin Valley proper.  We run within a couple hundreds yards of the finish line before running past it and then dropping down into the valley for a big loop with the goblins.  The rest of the gang had already finished their first ultra and everyone was there to cheer us on.  Melanie and Lisa joined me and Dad (and Sadie) for the goblin loop.  

I crossed the finish line with my dad in 8:09:14. (results page)

I can't tell you how proud I am of everyone.  Dad for his long recovery from heart surgery, and Melanie, Adam, Lisa, and Jennifer for there amazing performances in their first ultra attempt (I think all four of them could handle a 50 miler soon).

Four years ago, my dad was the only one in our family who could call himself a runner.  Now there are six of us who can call ourselves ultrarunners.  Pretty awesome.

Enjoy the photos. (I had trouble narrowing down from the over 280 photos I took during the race. I think that's a record for me.)

Moon setting on western horizon

Sun rising over Goblin Valley in the east

The goblin chasers are off!
Melanie (right) and Jennifer

Melanie, Lisa, and Dad around mile 3

Jennifer and Adam and the early morning sun

We've dropped into a shallow canyon near mile 8

Melanie and Dad

Adam and Sadie

If there's peace during an ultra, you're not doing it right

Melanie, Jennifer, and Lisa climbing out of the canyon bottom...

...and making their way to the ridge

Sadie knows when it's photo time vs. running time 

Amazing views as we near the turnaround point

Here we are just before we split up.
Me, Jennifer, Adam, Melanie, Lisa, Dad

It's just me, Dad, and Sadie for the rest of the way

Desert solitude
Dad and this desert road had an epic battle for about 5 miles.

Sometimes majestic views are worth running for,
no matter how much you're hurting.

Goblin Valley

Melanie and Lisa joined us for the last couple
miles through Goblin Valley.

Goblin Valley

My impression of a jazz-dancing goblin

Goblin Valley

Crossing the finish line with Dad.

Days like this are why I keep running.