Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Adventure Season is Upon Us

Still here.  Little to report but felt the need to check in at the old bloggity blog.

So...  September/October harvest parties are kind of a real thing.  Maybe there are farmers that actually dec out the barn with pumpkins, hard-cider and hay bales but there's a much more quiet celebration that is probably more common for the rest of us dirt churners.  There is this subtle realization that things are slowly winding down with each acre harvested.  Suddenly there are days where work is a little more optional and there's just a little bit more freedom in the form of free time.  This time is spent reflecting on the season (also known as drinking), being with family and for at least one farmer (yours truly) getting in some adventure runs.

The mornings are crisp again, fall colors are right around the corner, and snow's just flirting with the high country's rocky floor.  It's the perfect time of year for some running in it's carefree and woodsy adventuresome form.

I made it up to Silver Falls after a summer of very little trail running for a couple of fun workouts to kick off the season's eventual ending.  The place is honestly not the most incredible place on earth but I just love it every time I get up there whether it's Perimeter Trail, Buck Mtn Trail, Lost Creek Trail or whatever.  It's twisty and fun and it's all under the canopy of beautiful forest with hardly a soul around.

I had a weekend run that was an outright failure and took a week just sort of recalibrating and relaxing.  That week culminated in my first pacing duty with my buddy Gordo (Gordon Freeman) up at Mountain Lakes 100.  After third wheeling all afternoon with his super badass and hilarious crew of Emily and Sarah I ran the last 29ish miles through the night with him.  It was absolutely mind boggling to me to see his stoke nearly unfettered after 70+ miles and many hours of running when I joined him.  This same stoke just sort of carried him on in at an impressive pace and I really didn't have to do much other than tag along and remind him to get some gels and that his calves were quite sexy even after staring at them for nearly 5 hrs.  He nabbed a nearly 2 hr. PR on the shores of Oallie Lake under a brilliant moon at 2:30 AM and I got to do my first nighttime shuffle of such time and distance.  It was really surreal being out there on the PCT and witnessing such a feat firsthand.

Last weekend I got together with Jeremy Long, arguably the runner king of Tillamook Forest, and Brian Donnelly, adventure king extraordinaire, for a loop on Elk-Kings Traverse.  It did to me what it did to me nearly a year and a half ago--I am so beat in the quads I can't walk in an unrobotic manner.  I pushed the downhill a bit and got my money's worth.  We had unbelievable views on a perfect morning.  Scored!

Next up?  More strides during the week as I work to find some efficiency again and build speed.  And hopefully more weekends that are big on adventure.  I'm looking at something like this for the upcoming weekend:


<iframe width="100%" height="500px" src="http://caltopo.com/m/7109"></iframe>

Since my first Sardine summit a couple years ago I've been looking to get something like this pieced together.  It would be a long time idea ticked off and I am sure it will lead to more ideas in a favorite area of mine.

There you have it.  Quite a boring update without races and such but life's busy and time to race is tough to find at the moment.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Recap time: July '15

Short recap on running shenanigans since the Mac50k.

Weekday training was in a funk for a bit but has been pretty consistent for summertime. Sure I've missed a couple planned days here and there and substituted the old 1/2 hr run when I couldn't get it all done more than a few times.  Work and life continue to throw monumental loads at me and my running suffers as I struggle to find the time (and I'd rather rest than anything).  I can see clearly now why many runners disappear when they have very young children, but I won't fade.

Mostly just been rolling around the farmlands of NE Salem at o'dark thirty but I've had a couple fun adventures worth sharing here. 

A while back I got out for a neat 20 mile circumnavigation of 3-Fingered Jack with Don G. that was pretty inspiring.  I'd love to go back and do it again in the late fall--maybe even after a trace snow has fallen.  That would be epic.

On Father's Day I was able to get up and do the Summer SolstAss event I've long wanted to check out just cause I liked the pictures I'd seen.  I did the 25k (16ish miles) that featured 4900' elevation gain as a pretty honest effort with some time spent taking in some of the best views I've experienced while running.  There were wildflowers, woodsy creeks, canyons, jagged technical ridgelines and pristine mountain views.  All incredible.  I finished "first" though it wasn't really a race in 2:25.  Awesome to meet the great people, the Yelas, that put the thing on and run in such a beautiful "hidden gem" not too far from home.  I'll definitely go back and do that loop again.

Went to Idaho to visit family and got in a nice adventure in with Jeremy Humphrey.  It was low on miles but decent on vertical and ridiculous with views.  We jammed up from Boulder TH to Jug Mtn (a favorite of mine as it is the prominent peak viewed from Kattie's childhood home) via Louie Lake and then rolled down the backside to explore Buckhorn and Kennally Ridge before returning via or near Rapid, Vic, and Boulder Lake.  The following day I ran up Bear Point Rd (?), a forest service road that goes all way to the top of Brundage Mtn which is the local ski hill.  Unfortunately, I had was short on time and turned back way shy of the summit but was able to explore Payette Rim Trail on the way back to the meadow where I parked (Bear Basin).

On the 4th of July I participated in Brundage Mtn Cat Track 10k which started at 6000' near the lodge and ran up to 7640' to turn around at the top of the Bluebird Chair.  It then bombed down the same route for a total of 10k.  I finished in 46 min and change for 3rd overall.  I had no lungs on the climb as some allergies or the altitude (which I've never had trouble with before) that had been bugging me all week really manifested on this run.  I arrived in 4th to the top and was closing hard on 2nd place by the finish.  The guy that won was wearing Crocs, so that was a first for me (getting whooped by someone in sandals).  It was great fun though and a cool way to kick off the holiday.

The 12th, yesterday, I did the Mt. Hood 50k.  I signed up for it on a whim after the Mac gave me some stoke for the distance. Honestly, I was less than super excited to run that kind of distance once the big day came around.  But I liked the course, wanted to check out a new area, and so I committed to doing it once I knew we wouldn't be working the usual Sunday harvest crew this weekend.  A tad flatter (advertised as 2400', though I saw one Strava account said 2800') than most 50ks run on single track it featured a fit and fast crowd which made it quite fun.  I run a lot of 50ks that involve a hefty dose of vertical and seem to attract 100 milers in training and what not.  I don't know how to describe it but it's a different type of running fitness that involves sheer strength and grit to get through 7000' 50ks.  Think power hiking and lots of low grinding gears.  This was different, this was a runner's race so I was interested in seeing how I stacked up (especially given my looooww volume of training of 35-45 mile weeks for a long time now).  We went out pretty quick but I felt comfortable.  At the turn around I deliberately dialed back as we made the climb back up to the high spot thinking these guys are crazy and someone's gonna blow up, not me.  Steady did it, no one was coming and no one was getting too far away according to AS volunteers.  Going back down the long gradual descent was fun but I still tried to hold back just a bit to make sure those flat 11 miles to the finish where doable.  Once it flattened out and repetitive flat running kept going on and on (I didn't think it was ever going to end) I could feel a lack of mileage in my legs.  They were hurting and I was just holding on eating salt tabs and gels to pass the time.  I managed a 3:40 time and 6th overall.  2nd AG, and I am willing to put money on 1st dad as there was not a lot of obvious dadfactor in the other 5 guys previous finishers.  Kind of funny to see all these team/club singlets at a trail race the day I busted out my SWAP uni.  There was Reed, Bowerman, and one intriguing one called Jaccuzzi Boys Athletic Club.  Anyway fun and tough day.  I am done with 50ks for the year, I think.

Superfans, (mostly wife, 3 mo old that doesn't know any better and sleeps through distance running events, and mom) I appreciate your support.  Kattie, please continue to kick me out of bed at 4:40 while I try to reset the alarm and skip the run...  Alyce you don't know how much you inspire me to be an inspiration to you (does that even make sense? whatever you know what I mean).  Family, thanks for not working me quite to death in our business and allowing me to pursue such ridiculous endeavors from time to time.  Thanks also to David Roche and the SWAP team for the inspiring adventuresome pursuit of badassery you live out everyday, I can't reduce my pursuit to anything less and not feel like a chump with you guys around. 

Live while you're alive!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tina and Ike: Continuing a Proud Tradition of Going Back for the Beatdown

With each beatdown I can feel myself getting better at getting beat down. 
                   - Deep Deep Post-Race Thoughts by Yours Truly

In typical (and increasingly obsolete because everyone apparently thinks a Strava file is worth a 1000 words) race report format I'll start with the pre-race backdrop and then get into the memorable details from my 4th McDonald Forest 50k.


Who gives a shit what happened before the race?  Your training went like this, your key workouts were nailed or missed or whatever... nobody cares right?

No, if I care enough about it to write it out you'll just have to bear with me.  In my last update I was kind of ringing the "whiny but fuck it" bell claiming that moving and fixing up 2 houses during the work's busiest harvest season was just soooo hard.  Sure I was almost whining with the standard "I am just happy to get out and run when I can" song but I really meant it when I said I could care less about races.

If I wasn't 100% committed to being uncommitted to training and future races when I wrote that down March 30th I was just few days later when I had the most incredible day of my life.  On April 2nd my wife Kattie gave birth to our first child, Alyce Day.

No words.
With only a few glimmers here and there my lackluster training had gone from dim to dark.  It didn't matter at all.  I was all in as a dad and husband--everything else could wait. 

With that I'd made up my mind to go down and try to have fun in the Mac 50k's 20th year anniversary race.  It would be a race fueled by poor diet, less sleep, and goose eggs (0s in the log book and those egg shaped Easter candies).  I'd like to add "dad strength" to that list but I think that's just starting to come to me.


Another objective was to focus on fueling (David's idea).  So I kicked off the second coming of Thanksgiving with 2 Picky bars along with my usual pre-race slice of toast with PB.  Then I spent some time figuring out how to pack more than 4 gels in my pockets.  I fit 7 or 8 and figured I'd get to my goal of one every 25 min with supplements gleaned from Aid Stations.

I didn't have a GPS watch that was charged as I've mostly just been carrying the phone on runs lately so I strapped on the trusty Timex with primer splatters all over it as my key technology piece for the day.  (Consequently, I don't have any record of pace or that I was even really there;) ).

Before the start the family of deceased local runner Alex Newport-Berra said a few moving words about the race, the forest and what they meant to their son who's life was ended way too early in a tragic fall.  I had met Alex at least twice and while I definitely didn't "know" him I could instantly tell that he was not only a tough and fast dude he was also definitely someone special.  As a new dad watching his mother cry while trying to be strong and publicly remember him (the day before Mother's Day) was nearly bringing me to tears.  Certainly the most emotional start line experience I've ever had.

Then we were off.  I kept trying to be smart and stay cool knowing that 31 miles is a long long run compared to anything I'd done in training.  I also knew that some course changes meant a tough back half of the race would be even harder this year.

Going through miles 12 or 13 were a lot like last year.  Smart and fun but going pretty quickly.  The only change was I was pounding gels which I started to consume about 30 mins into things.  Stay in front of the bonk and it won't catch you I told myself.

Then the course got into it's most technical portions (some of which were new this year).  I was running close behind eventual winner Jason Leman but when it got steep and twisty on a descent he was gone.  Long gone.  So I navigated this long (both mileage and time-wise) section between A/S alone and started feeling a bit darker about things. 

I was out of water and in somewhat of a dark place mentally at the mile 19 or 20 A/S.  It was hard to leave there knowing there was still so much course left to take on.  I can't remember exactly where but I passed someone somewhere in there but it did little to pick me up as he looked to be in poor condition.  It doesn't take much to pass someone who's just sort of zombie plodding up the hill and I knew that as we joked about having better days.

Then I latched on a ways behind Mike Rosling who is a really admirable runner and great guy.  I was somewhat encouraged to be running near him as I know he's in excellent shape (for a road marathon which is different but fitness is fitness) right now.  We passed another guy who looked like he was wilting a bit.  He looked ripped and fit (like everyone did, I think I was the only dude with a shirt on, hiding my softness) but a bit cooked.  I eventually caught up to Mike and he left the final Aid Station a bit before I did.  I got to see Kattie and Alyce there and while I wanted to just jump in the car and cuddle I was given a little boost as I set off for the last "little bit" (Kattie's words).

I passed Mike, trying to get him to just "jog this f-ing thing in with me" but he insisted I just go on my own.  Another really badass looking dude that caught up to us at the Aid Station was camping in my shadows until an ever slight downhill section came along and he ramped it up.  I jumped in his 1 minute long shadow and pushed the last 1.6 miles best I could.  It helps that it's one of the best tracks on the whole course and has a overall downhill to make you think you're really killing it.

And that was that.  4:40 minutes had come to an end and netted me 5th place.  It's not my fastest time (I finished in 4:28 last year) but it was a slow year for everyone given the course changes that added a bit more climbing and what seemed like a lot more technical single track.  The winning time was 25 min slower than last year (with 2 of the top 3 runners being repeats).  5th is the best I've faired out place-wise in 4 times that I've done the race.

I can say that the focus on fueling is the only thing that allowed me to hang towards the front and even move up a couple places.  My talent is zilch (I've had to work really hard for whatever skill I do have in these legs and lungs) and my preparation was probably 1/2 of what many other top finishers had done (short, flat and relatively infrequent).


Got my bearings, drove home, drove to Portland to take Kattie's mom to the airport and went to IKEA.  Getting out of that place alone (Kattie rushed out with Alyce to feed her) was the hardest thing I did all day.

2 days later I feel great, ready to ease back into more running.


Thanks for reading and caring superfans!  Not a lot of plans for upcoming races or running thrills but I'll let you know about them here!  Go gettem'!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring's here. And it's nuts.

I am so busy with other shit right now this blog (which always kind of sucked) sucks more than ever.

I am running pretty well these days and on a simple routine that involves a pretty simple loop or two out on the Pratum/Labish farmlands (FLAT).  It may seem boring, certainly not sexy mountainous stuff or really beautiful trails, but I  am really digging the time I get to run most days as just a nice break from hard days at work and home projects galore.  Running seems easy when life's all ramped up.

I could care less about upcoming races and plans.  Just moving for fitness and to be a better athlete/person.

I really enjoyed this post by Will Gadd who has always been a good motivator for me:


Go move superfans.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

holy shit it's 2015! what happened to January?!

I haven't posted in a little while...  since Thanksgiving.

So, I'm just filling the void with a very very dull update...

December was great.  I ate everything in site, loved Christmas season more than ever, and worked through a rough spell in running.  I don't remember the exact problem(s?) but I messed my back up a little at work and things went downhill for a bit.  There were also lower leg issues that may or may not have had to do with a brief return to track workouts.  Anyway, I quit that loopy track shit cold turkey.  (Mmmm, turkey.)  Relaxing about things and cutting back to the basics seemed to do the trick and I finally feel like I've recovered from a pretty crazy fall running/race schedule (for me).

So, what else?

Life's hectic (and freaking AWESOME):

1. My wife and I are gearing up for baby numero uno.  Due in 10 weeks!  Yeah, so, we are freaking out and really praying that it's just a puppy that comes out on the big day.  We could teach it to shit outside and "stay" and in a couple years it could turn into a manageable 2-3 yr child...

2. Some preliminary nesting chores had just begun to take place as we prepared for our new little human (science suggests it probably won't be a dog) to join us in our old little house when quite suddenly we found out we'd be nesting someplace else.  A ten year plan that involved my grandparents moving from the original Zielinski homestead of 4ish generations was kicked into high gear and made into a 2-3 month plan.  We are really excited about the new place but moving them then us is a huge task.  Lots of work to do on 2 houses as we move into one and sell the other.

3. Logging the miles: trips for work and fun to Baltimore, MD and McCall, ID over the past month.  I know compared to all y'all jetsetters this looks pretty amateur but I don't get out of the county much anymore.  It's true--no matter how much I'd like to consider myself a worldly voyager.

4.  Work is crazy.  The madness of harvest/Spring is here at least a month early and no end in site (June lull?  Maybe.)  It feels good to be pushing the pace all day but damn working hard is hard.

And, as of late, I have nearly forgotten about running as a competitive endeavor:

1.  No races anytime soon.  Not even a rough schedule for the year.  This would have drove me nuts a year or so ago as I considered races the primary reason I must awaken and run before the sun rises everyday (ok, almost everyday).  If I didn't so it so-and-so would and man, then what?!  But these days I am really liking just training for training's sake.

2.  I keep up on and follow friends' races and results and just get really stoked for them.  I mean, these are races I would love to do and see what I could do but strangely I am not even the slightest bit jealous that I am not there or whatever.  It's weird, I used to wish that I had more free time to go out and be in the race scene like some folks seem to be; you know those people with flexible or at least consistent schedules and an endless budget for race entries.  But now, I just pop in look over the results of some of my favorite races and shoot a friend a message to congratulate him/her on their effort.  That's good enough.

3.  Training is going pretty good despite all the interruptions life keeps hurling.  I just take what I can get and it seems like it's working.  I am focusing on pushing things a little more.  That's too vague for you?  Well when it's fast I go comfortably fast and when it's super easy I go super slow.  I guess I've found myself working on 3 gears of training-high, medium and low (not just high and low, no medium or high and medium, no low--as I have had a tendency to do from time to time).  That made no sense.  I hope you're not all stupider for reading that.

4.  I am not completely directionless, I am just not laser focused.  I am signed up for the Mac 50k but my sights are really on a creating a fast/strong self by mid/late July.  I want to fly and climb the best I can for a race then.  Maybe I'll build on that with a fall marathon but that idea literally popped into my head yesterday and could be gone tomorrow.

Ok, gotta go.  You, dearest superfan, hold on.