Saturday, October 18, 2008

What a Difference a Little Elevation Makes

Last weekend I was in Spokane, Washington for my grandpa's 80th birthday party and didn't want to skip out on my easy run on Saturday. After breakfast and helping my mom get ready for the big event, I put on the shoes and ran over to Bear Lake, which is where my high school's X-C course is. Because I was running the course I ran in competition for four years and because Bear Lake only sits at 1,800 feet above sea level, my easy run was about a minute per mile faster pace than my normal runs around 4,700 foot Idaho Falls.

Contrast that run with yesterday's run. I decided to run up the Sunnyside Road hill east of Idaho Falls. I figured I was ready after all the running I did this summer and wanted a difficult run in preparation for the Zeitgeist Half-Marathon on November 1st. Well, I bit off a bit more than I could chew. That hill is a brutal, soul-crushing sonuvabitch. It just keeps going up. When my phone chimed that I'd hit four miles and I realized I was only 2/3 of the way to the top and it was getting steeper, the voice in my head that had been saying, "I think I can..." started screaming, "Turn back before you die".

I did make it to the top, but I really paid for it going back down. It felt like I couldn't catch my breath and my legs just wouldn't work anymore. I had to stop and walk a lot and pretty much quit even trying to run about a mile from the car. I'm hoping it was just the high elevation (6,900 feet at the top), being somewhat dehydrated and only getting a few hours of sleep the night before. Otherwise, the Zeitgeist isn't going to be pretty. In any case, I'm not going to run that hill again for a while.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

That's what I'm talking about.

There's something about running in this place at this time of year at this time of night that just makes me happy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's not winter yet, but it's getting close.

"It is odd how a man believes he can think better in a special place. I have such a place, have always had it, but I know it isn't thinking I do there, but feeling and experiencing and remembering. It's a safety place - everyone must have one, although I never heard a man tell of it."
-John Steinbeck, "The Winter of Our Discontent"

For whatever reason (and there are a whole slew of possibles), lately I've been getting home from work frustrated and just plain angry. It generally ruins the rest of my evening and I wake up more worn out than I went to sleep...

...unless I go for a run in the evening. It seems my "Place" lately isn't really one special spot, but it's been running in the foothills east of IF while the sun is setting; especially between miles five and eight. There's something about running that seems to help me work through (or just forget) stupid annoyances. Like Steinbeck's Ethan Allen Hawley, I'm not really thinking about things, but at about mile five, when the western sky over IF is starting to change to a luminescent pink-orange, I start to get a smile on my face and I can actually feel myself relaxing. By the time I get back home, I've fully worked the kinks out, both in my legs and back and between my ears.

Could be it's just the endorphins - but I don't think so because I've had places like Hawley's in other towns. They've helped me deal with the difficulties of life and made me feel a lot like I have recently after running in the hills. But with running it makes me feel even better to be doing something healthy for my body as well as for my mind.

Now if Ethan Hawley were around, he would have heard a man tell of his place.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Another Fishing Trip Gets in the Way of Running

A buddy of mine called me last Friday night to get me to go fishing with him on Saturday morning. We agreed to meet at his house at 7 AM to drive out to a small stream near Palisades Reservoir. Only problem was that I'd skipped my long Friday run and was planning on making it up on Saturday. So I got up at four and ran a quick nine-miler, showered, got my gear together, made some much-needed coffee and picked him up.

The creek we were to be fishing was Big Elk Creek, which flows right down to the highway, but we were meeting up with a couple guys from work who were camping about four miles in from the end of the road. We hiked up a beautiful canyon along the creek, marveling at the gorgeous fall colors and watching the kokanee make their way up the crystal-clear stream to spawn. We were also jabbering on about all manner of things while hiking, so we didn't have any idea of how long it took to hike in. This fact would become important later.

When we got to the campsite, the two guys were still sleeping in their tents because it had been raining that morning and they didn't really want to face the wetness outside. Pansies! But we rousted them out and got started fishing. The creek was really too small for my six weight fly rod, but I made do and picked up some nice cutthroats on mayfly and caddis imitations. It's impressive that such a small stream can support so many large trout. No one caught one smaller than 12 inches and we caught a few bigger than 18.

About the time we figured we needed to quit and get back to the car, a big rainstorm moved into the canyon, so we threw our gear into our packs, said "later" to the two poor souls who were going to camp again that night and started hiking in our waders and felt-soled wading shoes. We kept up a good pace, trying to get back to the car and out of the rain, but that's when the lack of a concept of time bit us in the butt. Both of us kept imagining that the parking lot was just around the next corner or over the next hill as darkness began to set in. When we could just barely see the trail and were hearing rustling in the brush around us, we realized we should have left about an hour earlier.

Obviously, we made it back to the car, but we're both pretty sore now from hiking in wading shoes which aren't made for such activity. Turns out that it was about four miles from their camp to the parking lot, so I did nine miles of running followed by eight miles of hiking and lots of tricky wading on Saturday. I picked up some pretty smashed toes and blisters on my heels. The upshot is that it gives me a great excuse to skip running for a couple days while the stupid wind is blowing hard again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

You know you have an addiction when...

...your pile of dirty running clothes is twice as big as your street clothes laundry for the same time period.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Triple Threat

The hills would have been hard enough without the extra altitude. The extra altitude would have been hard enough without the wind. The wind would have been hard enough without the hills. I don't know what made me think that loop would be a fun run. I guess whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right? That almost killed me, so...

By the way, my good computer died a couple weeks ago, so I'm now limping along with my old Linux box until next Tuesday when my new RAM should get here. I've never heard of all four sticks of RAM going out at the same time. I hope that's really the problem.