Saturday, June 30, 2007

We Have A Winner

Run 11 miles

Today at 4:18 pm Mountain Time Jay Petervary won the Great Divide Race by rolling into Antelope Wells, NM at the US / Mexico border. That's 2,490 miles in 15 days 4 hours and 18 minutes and over 200,000 feet of climbing! He took more than 20 hours off the previous course record. Way to go Jay.

Here's some of what Jay had to say when he called in today to report his finish:

"Hey world, I arrived at Antelope Wells at 4:18 PM Saturday, with absolutely nobody here. There's one gentleman here that's let me in to get a bunch of cold pops, let me use the bathroom, gave me some information about a shuttle in the morning, try to get to Deming some time tomorrow.... I will just be around thinking about things underneath a tree for the rest of the evening and day."

It's funny to think about winning the Great Divide Race, almost 2,500 miles, the longest mountain bike race in the world, and when you get to the finish you're just there out in the desert by yourself. I think of everything that appeals to me about this race this might be the number one most appealing thing. For me endurance racing is such a personal and internal thing. I loved that I finished the Susitna 100 at about 6:00 am and simply walked into the warming cabin at the finish area and sat down and had that time to think to myself.

I was watching this video the other day of the finish of last week's Western States 100 and there were people everywhere, and an announcer rambling on a PA system, and interviews taking place just as soon as the finishers came across the line. I think it's great when events like this get the attention and spectators that they deserve, but I just don't think these kinds of events are for me so much. I prefer to finish an event and let my interpretation of the race be something that I come to on my own with some quiet internal thoughts, not with loud spectators tyring to interpret for me what I just went through. Hopefully in just over a year from now I'll have the opportunity to roll into Antelope Wells, NM just as Jay did today, with no one in sight and big smile on my face, despite a level of fatigue which would certainly be beyond anything I've ever experienced.

Totals for the week (including the Sunday portion of last weekend's race): Run 30 miles; Bike 100 miles; in 17 hours time.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Looking Ahead

Bike Commute 3 miles
Run 7 miles

Bike Commute 3 miles

Bike Commute 3 miles
Run 12 miles

It's taken me a little longer than I had hoped to get into the mix of things after last weekend. I got in a really mellow run on Wednesday evening but then I felt like I just wasn't quite ready for back to back runs so I took Thursday off. I wasn't ever really sore at all after the 24 hour race but I just have felt really tired all week. Finally today I feel my strength and energy coming back. Got out for 12 miles this morning and I spent the entire run thinking about my racing plans for the next 16 months.

My big events still ahead this summer are Crow Pass Crossing on July 21st and Resurrection Pass 50 miler on August 4th. I usually don't plan many things much beyond this but more and more I'm thinking about doing events that really necessitate planning well in advance. And so as I ran today I was thinking about what I would like to do next year and decided that rather than planning on what I'd "like" to do I am going to decide now what I am GOING TO DO. And in my mind I just kept coming back to the same three events over and over.

I can't really see any harm in planning things well in advance so as of today here is my race schedule for 2008:

It's only 3 races but it sure is going to be 3 big ones. Should be a great year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tough Day on The GDR

Today was one more recovery day for me. I did ride my bike 3 miles to work and back and surprisingly my butt, knees, and muscles all felt ok with that. I decided though to give it one more day off before jumping into my last stretch of training for The Crow Pass Crossing which is now only a little over 3 weeks away.

Pete Basinger and Dave Nice both dropped out of the Great Divide Race today. These were the two riders I rode the White Rim Trail with last month and also the two riders I was rooting for most in this event and I actually feel kind of depressed that they are out. Ok, so I admit I have a problem with getting too involved in following the GDR online, but I know I'm not the only one. I'm still really excited to see how the race plays out, but it's just not as exciting for me without Pete and Dave still out there. Jay Petervary is still on pace to break the route record and should be finishing sometime this weekend! Good luck Jay. Keep it rollin'.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Yukon Dizziness

24 Hours of Light Race Report:
(sorry for how long this post is, being my first bike race ever and my first race of any sort in 4 months I feel very interested in covering everything)

By all accounts this race was a success for both Jill and I, but probably the best thing about this past weekend was that we got to go to Whitehorse for 2 days. If you've never been to The Yukon then you're really missing out. Whitehorse is a great town surrounded by hundreds of miles of beauty in every direction. Why can't it be easier for Americans to just move to Canada if they want to? If it were, Whitehorse would be right on top of my list of places I'd like to live sometime.

We hopped on the ferry out of Juneau on Friday afternoon and for the first time in 3 days I could just sit and relax without needing to be working, running, or preparing for the weekend. We were an hour late getting to the Friday night race meeting but no one seemed to mind. It's was pretty obvious right away that this was going to be a very laid back and fun event. Within minutes I felt like we knew everyone that was still lingering around and 30 minutes later we were on our way to a barbecue somewhere on the other side of town. We got some great food into our stomachs and headed off to another side of town were we had been offered a place to stay with one of the riders from an 8 person team, He even had a bed for Jill and I to sleep in. To call the people we met in Whitehorse friendly would be a major understatement.

View from the ferry heading out of town

This bear didn't seem to mind, or even notice, that we stopped our car about 30 feet away for a picture. I'm guessing we weren't the first people to stop for this guy's picture.

Saturday morning it seemed so strange to be facing a 24 hour event with almost no anxiety or stress. I'm used to running races in which I have a lot of performance anxiety and other feelings of stress involved with knowing that you're about to go out and thrash your body for hours on end. With this though I just didn't have any understanding of what I was about to do so I had nothing to be anxious about. This would in fact the first bike race I have ever done!

The race started pretty uneventful. Some dude yelled, "go" and the racers ran a Le Mans style start around a small loop and back to the bikes. Or at least most of the racers ran. I walked. Jill walked. A few others walked. As I biked away I thought about the irony. I was probably the fastest runner out there and yet here were all these bikers, many who had probably not run this far in years, sprinting around a small loop in the forest completely intent on being the first rider pushing down the trail.

There were over one hundred riders in the event, but only 6 solo riders. I knew that one of the soloists, who is from Seward, Alaska is a strong rider (he finished 2nd at the 24 Hours of Kincaid last year) and I decided to check out his pace for awhile and see how that felt. I rode most of the first 3 laps within sight of him and another solo rider who was up all the way from Winnipeg. I was pretty sure that none of the other 3 solo riders had any intentions of "racing" the event so it seemed pretty certain early on that if I wanted to win the event these were the two I would have to beat. I guess it took me about 2 laps to decide that I did in fact want to win the event. Going into this I kept telling myself that I just wanted to ride for 24 hours and see how I felt about it. After a couple laps though I pretty much got into the mindset of racing. As long as I was going to be out there riding my bike for 24 hours I may as well try to ride it further than anyone else...

Sometime near the end of the third lap I began to pull away from these other two riders. They had been riding most of the technical stuff faster than me but I had noticed that on any stretches that simply involved fitness and strength to go fast that I could close any gaps on them almost instantly. I finally decided that it was pointless to ride behind them any longer and pushed on ahead of them on a long flat stretch leading into a 3 mile stretch of somewhat technical singletrack. I kept expecting to see them right behind me again before this stretch was over, but i glanced back a few miles later and I couldn't see anyone.

Now I had a chance to ride several laps on my own and really get a feel for the course. It was a fun course, for the most part. It could have been a lot more fun if it flowed a little better. It was tough to get in a good rhythm. There was always a hairpin turn or a really steep hill just as you felt like you got going nicely. It had a lot of climbing... about 1,000 feet in 7.9 miles. It had about 4 miles of singletrack and 4 miles of doubletrack. The singletrack was really windy, mostly flat, and relatively slow due to roots and soft dirt. The doubletrack was almost all either uphill or downhill so you were either grinding it out at 5 mph or racing through the forests at 25, very little in between. I would have preferred a course that had more stretches in which I could get in a steady rhythm for a mile or two at a time, but that was certainly not the case on this course. The best thing about the course by far was the scenery. I'd love to get back there sometime to do some riding when I have more time to stop and enjoy the surroundings

I lapped Jill somewhere near the end of my 4th lap. I had been riding pretty hard and expected to catch her sooner than this since she was riding with a bad knee. I was worried she was over doing it but she assured me that it didn't hurt at all and she snapped this picture of me as I headed out ahead of her:

Here's another picture Jill got of me sometime later in the day near the start/finish area. I particularly like the guy off to the right in the cutout jeans and no shirt. People in Whitehorse rock!:

Laps 4 through 15 kind of went by quite uneventful to me. I just kept riding in circles, stopping every other lap to shovel in food and next thing I knew it was midnight. I had not seen either of these other two riders in this time so I knew they were still on the same lap as me but since they had not once caught up to me in about 9 hours time I figured they probably weren't too close behind. I easily could have asked the timers where the other racers were but I really didn't care all that much. I just wanted to ride my pace and see how that worked out. Then sometime on my 16th lap I caught up to Chuck (from Seward) on a stretch of singletrack. I followed him for a mile or so and he seemed to be feeling OK but when we broke back out onto doubletrack I took off and almost instantly I couldn't see or hear him behind me. I now had more than an 8 mile lead on him but I had no idea still about this other rider from Winnipeg.

Now it was the middle of the night but it was still light enough to ride without a light. In fact one of the only rules this race has is that you are not allowed to use lights! That's right, so much daylight in Whitehorse this time of year that you can ride all night! Did I mention yet that Whitehorse rocks? I did have about three laps though in which it would have been nice if it were a little lighter. I took a couple of minor falls from running into trees/roots that I couldn't see very well. I came close to a couple bad falls on fast downhills throughout the race but luckily the couple of falls that I did have were really slow and painless.

When I came in at the end of my 17th lap Chuck was at the pit area and told me he was dropping out. He said he just wasn't feeling mentally and physically up to continuing. It sounds like he doesn't do any biking in the winter and didn't start riding this season until the second week of May. I was pretty bummed about this because I really enjoyed knowing that there was at least one other rider out there trying to catch me. Now there was only this guy from Winnipeg but I had no idea where he was, or if he was still out there.

Sometime later in the night I discovered that they actually had a leaderboard posted and as of 10pm there wasn't another rider within 2 laps of Chuck and I so I realized that this other guy must have stopped for a long rest or pulled out or something. Finding this out I was really bummed. It was about 6am, I had done 19 laps, and I already knew I was going to win the race. I was also feeling pretty shitty at this point. For most of my 20th lap I was thinking of stopping when I came around again, but instead I just took my longest break of the race (about 15 minutes), drank a Pepsi, ate about 1,000 calories, and headed back out. Laps 21 and 22 were great. I felt really strong again, it was warming back up after a chilly night, and I was enjoying the course more than I had since the first few laps. And then it hit again, that desire just to eat and go to sleep. I had no energy left when I finished the 23rd lap. I still had over 2.5 hours before noon so I had no chance of getting in 3 more laps but I was pretty certain I could get in 2 more. The question was did I want to? I downed some coffee, ate whatever I could still find left in my cooler, and headed back out... and I'm sure glad I did.

Laps 24 and 25 were easily the most enjoyable of my entire race. On lap 24 I discovered that I could ride out of the saddle again without my knee hurting (for some reason my left knee had been hurting me whenever I stood up on the bike since lap 14). I rode most of that lap standing up and it felt so nice to take the pressure off my arms and butt and use some different muscles. I came around the pit area and noticed that I had just busted out my fastest lap since well before midnight! I headed back out for one more lap planning to cruise along easy as sort of a victory lap. I had 90 minutes to complete the lap before noon (this event required laps to be completed by noon to be counted) and my slowest lap so far had been about 65 minutes so I knew I was going to get one more in pretty easily. About a mile into this lap I stopped to take a leak and when I got back on the bike I suddenly felt stronger than I had felt in about 20 hours. Just about this time I was passed by a team rider and decided I'd see if I could stay with her for awhile. Earlier in the race I found that I could usually stay with relay riders for a mile or two as they passed me. I liked doing this because I could just follow another rider for awhile, usually have some conversation with them, and take my mind off of staring at the empty trail ahead of me for awhile. As the race wore on though I couldn't keep up with these riders for more than a minute or two. Now though I was on my last lap so I had nothing to lose by pushing to stay with this girl. And as I followed her I kept feeling better and better. I was riding faster than I had ridden in over 15 hours but I was also feeling better than I had felt in that time also! I stayed right on her rear wheel for the rest of the lap. She rode a perfect pace for me, and we had some great conversation, and my last lap clocked in at just over 50 minutes, probably my fastest lap since number 4 or 5! It was such a perfect way to end a great event.

I talked with my new friends for awhile, drank a beer, ate some food, and then they had a short announcement of all the finishers. I won a trophy, but they don't actually give people the trophies, they put your name on it and then display them somewhere in Whitehorse (I forget where). I think that's cool. I'd so much rather have my name on a trophy somewhere in Whitehorse than somewhere in the back of my closet.

From what I hear 25 laps is a record for this event! That's pretty cool I guess. Records are made to be broken though and next year I'll either be out there riding to break it or if I'm not there I'll be rooting for someone else to break it.

In all I rode for 198 miles (94 miles further than I had ever pedaled in one ride). My riding time was 21:55 and I finished at 23:19 so I had 1:24 of stopped time throughout the race. In the future I could easily cut this stopped time significantly but I just saw no reason to put so much emphasis on that in this event. I just wanted to go out and ride for 24 hours and get a sense of how my mind and body feel about endurance cycling in general.

I learned a lot from this race:
1) I am not a fast technical rider compared to most
2) I am very strong on flats compared to other riders
3) as I get tired my strength on uphills fades drastically
4) Biking for 24 hours is so much less abusive on my body than running for 24 hours (when I ran the Susitna 100 I could hardly walk for 3 days, today I'm not even really sore from this race, unless I sit on a hard chair :)
5) Whitehorse kicks ass! (did I mention that already?)
6) When I bike I can pretty much eat anything without digestion troubles. Here's a list of some of the different things I ate: pizza, cereal bars, perpetuem, hammer gel, cookies, pasta, smoked salmon, corn chowder, bread, avocado, watermelon, bananas, powerbars, fruit leather, cytomax.
7) When I do eat biking I feel a boost in my energy level almost immediately. In running I always feel like there's a delay from when I eat to when I feel the benefits of it but yesterday I felt like I could stop to shovel down some food and within minutes I would feel strength from the calories.
8) This will not be the only bike race I will ever do!
9) This will also not be the longest bike race I will ever do... 24 hours was just about when I started to get warmed up :)

Totals for last week (including Saturday's portion of the race): Run 30 miles; Bike 142 miles; in 19.25 hours.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Packed and Ready to Roll

Run 7 miles
Bike 3 miles (commute)

Mt. Bike 7 miles
Run 5 miles

Just some easy taper down stuff the last couple days. Very busy with packing for the weekend and working a lot. I've finally got our bikes all overhauled and ready to roll and everything packed. Gotta work a few hours in the morning and then off to Canada for The 24 Hours of Light. Can't wait to be out riding. Should have a brief race report up Sunday night or Monday.

In GDR news (for those few of you who are not following every update online): things have gone dramatically downhill over the past day for fellow Alaskan Pete Basinger. First there was a wrong turn that cost him an hour or two, then a construction zone incident that set him back 4 or 5 hours and then later in the day he got sick and hasn't covered any ground since. Before all this happened he was about 45 minutes out of the lead and now he's probably a full day or more behind. Sounds as though he plans to continue once he's feeling better. His chances of catching the race leader are now quite slim but it's going to be interesting to see if he can pull it back together and continue on to the finish after all he's gone through in the past 36 hours. It's not as if Pete were only riding this race in hopes of winning and breaking the course record, but this was certainly something he was gunning for and now he has to try to continue on knowing that neither of these things have hardly any chance of still happening. If it were me I'm not certain I'd be able to push on after all this. Then again Pete is 10 times the cyclist that I am so he might just be able to get back out there once he's feeling healthy and continue onto Mexico. Go Pete Go. Sure am rooting for you now more than ever.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Random Thoughts

Bike Commute 3 miles

Took the day off today. Quads a bit sore from downhill running yesterday. With a long race this weekend it seemed stupid to run or bike through any soreness today. I always feel weird when I take a day off though: guilty, bored, lazy, tight, anxious, and grumpy. I need to learn to deal with this though because I will likely be taking one or two days off per week for the next 6 weeks.

In the past 3 days while out running I have seen a beaver, 2 marmots, and about a dozen porcupines. Not quite the bear, wolf, wolverine encounters that one might hope for in Alaska. The porcupines are actually quite the nuisance around here. They seem to always hang out in the middle of the trail and they are so slow to move that I'm certain I am going to step on one before I see it one of these days. That should feel really good.

The Great Divide Race is over 4 days old now. Jay Petervary is in the lead, with almost 800 miles behind him!!! That's 800 miles of dirt and gravel roads, completely self supported, with about 54,000 feet of climbing, and yes, you did read that right: just over 4 days!! He's on pace to shatter the route record but he still has 1,700 miles to go so that's obviously anything but a done deal. Scott Morris has been putting together a great chart which makes it very easy to follow the racer's progress. Check it out here.

I feel myself getting a little more excited and anxious for The 24 Hours of Light then I thought I would. I don't really have much anxiety about how well I'm going to perform because I have no idea or expectations in that regard. Rather I just feel really anxious about the whole process of getting ready to go and travelling up there and doing the race and travelling back home in time to be to work Monday morning. I'm pinching this whole thing into way too short of a weekend but I really had no choice at my work. From now until next Monday evening the 24 hour ride will probably be my most relaxing (mentally) stretch of time.

Today was Mallie's birthday. Be sure to check out her great birthday post.

Today was also my Mom's birthday. Sorry I didn't get a hold of you today Mom, hope you had a great day. I'll try calling you tomorrow. I love you.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Climbing Into the Clouds

Run 6 miles

Got in my first really good hill climb of the year. Up to the top of Mt. Juneau. 3,500 feet of climbing in 3 miles. The first mile only climbs about 700 feet so after that it's 2,800 feet in 2 miles. Got to the top in 51:00. Didn't really push myself much at all but it felt nice to do a serious climb, even though it was pretty short. Sometime later in the summer I'd like to do a time trial to the top of Mt. Juneau. I suspect I could climb it in about 40-43 minutes.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Quick and Light

Mt. Bike 14 miles
Run 12 miles

Pushed myself a little harder and longer than I planned today but only because I felt really good. I noticed when I got out on my bike this morning that I had a little more short burst power than I've felt in some time. This was confirmed when I was able to climb the entire perseverance trail for the first time this spring. There is one rocky uphill part which I just haven't had the power to get up lately but today I rolled up it without much trouble. After putting in 4 hours at work I headed out for a run hoping to feel the same pep that I felt on the bike earlier. I was only planning on a 7 or 8 mile run but I felt really strong and quick and was having a great time running on a section of trail which I've only been on once before. Ended up putting in 12 miles in about 1:25 on a quite technical trail. In all it was one of those days in which I felt like someone had turned down the strength of gravity. Uphills didn't slow me down much and when riding or running on flat ground I almost felt like I was floating a few inches above the ground. Good stuff.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Some Thoughts About The Great Divide Race

Mt. Bike 55 miles

Bike 3 miles (commute)
Run 9 miles

Another beautiful Sunny Saturday today. We've actually had nice Sunny weather a lot lately.

Biking today I couldn't go more than a few minutes without thinking again and again about the riders who started The Great Divide Race yesterday. For those that aren't aware, this is the longest mountain bike race in the world (2,490 miles), traversing the spine of the Rocky Mountains from the Canadian border down to the Mexican border. Next Saturday I will be riding in the 24 Hours of Light. This will be the first bike race of any sort that I have ever been in. I'm not sure if I can ride for 24 hours. 13 hours is the most I've ever done. And yet I find myself so often lately thinking beyond 24 hours, daydreaming about riding in The Great Divide Race. It's so hard to actually imagine myself riding in an event like this, but more and more lately I'm beginning to have an even harder time imagining myself not riding in this race at some point. I've got a lot to learn about endurance cycling but I feel myself being drawn more and more to this everyday. 6 weeks ago I had never done a mountain bike ride over 50 miles and I have now done 4, including one over 100 and a 100 mile road ride. This is of course pathetically insignificant compared to what The Great Divide Racers are out there doing right now (Pete Basinger has covered about 240 miles in the first 25 hours of the race!!) but I feel it as the start of something more. This 24 hour race next week will be a great test of my interest in endurance cycling. I don't expect to "race" next week as much as to just go out and ride my bike for 24 hours. In doing so though I expect to learn a little more about whether I want to continue to push my body to places it has never been on a bike. Is this going to lead to the GDR next year or the year after? Only time will tell.

Totals for the week: Run 71 miles; Bike 94 miles; 19.5 hours

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Satisfying Exhaustion

Run 30 miles

Bike commute 3 miles
Rest of the day off

Had the day off from work today and got in a great 30 mile run. Felt so good after the run that I even went into work for a few hours. Not really sure why I did that. Mostly to pick up my paycheck but then I stayed for a few hours and forgot to cash my check anyway.

Sure am pretty tired out tonight though. Went to see a play at the local theatre and had all I could do to make it through the show sitting like that without enough room to stretch out my legs. Luckily it was a great performance or I would have been likely to walk out and stroll around on the street. Haven't slept well for a few night but I'm going to sleep well tonight.

I've often felt like 30 miles is a threshold distance for me. I usually have little to no specific trouble with runs less than 30 but anything 30 or longer I feel like I need to approach the run in a different way. 30 miles seems to be the point at which I need to consume massive amounts of calories to continue and also the point at which my feet begin to really ache from all the pounding. I also typically do some walking on runs 30 miles or longer. Today though 30 miles just seemed really short and easy. I only ate 450 calories during the run and didn't feel all that depleted after. My feet or legs never really hurt much at all. And I didn't walk any of the run. It was all on trail, a fairly technical trail, and I was still able to complete it in about 4:20. Not fast by racing standards but considering how easy it seemed and how little I pushed myself I was pretty amazed to finish it that quickly. Before today I was already pretty certain that I was in really good shape as far as longer stuff is concerned, but now I am pretty sure I'm in the best shape I've ever been in... I just need to find a little more speed and shorter burst power.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Looking for Speed, Finding Endurance

Mt. Bike 15 miles
Run 12 miles

Did a 12 mile time trial run today to take the place of the race which I was hoping to run this past Saturday which was postponed. First I rode the loop I was planning to run to see how long it was. As I had estimated it was about 12 miles. Came in on my bike computer at 11.97.

Did the run in 1:11:33 which put me almost exactly at 6:00 mile pace. I didn't expect to go any faster as the trail was quite technical with a decent amount of up and down, but I did expect to feel faster. I pushed myself at about 90-95% but I never really felt like I had any more speed leftover, but I did feel like I could have kept up that pace for several miles longer than I did. I've noticed this same feeling in my biking lately. I feel like I could bike forever but when I try to push myself hard for a few miles I just can't seem to generate the amount of speed that I want to. I suppose this is just the trade off we must make. If I'm trying to get myself ready for a 24 hour bike race and a 50 mile run I can't expect to feel fast on a 12 mile run.

My concern though is with my preparedness for the Crow Pass Crossing as this is the race that I most want to do well in this summer. At 25 miles this race does require some endurance but it also requires more speed than what I have right now. I've still got 5 1/2 weeks to prepare but at this point I think all I can really do is hope that some speed returns with my eventual tapering that will begin in a few weeks.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Eat, Sleep, Bike, Run, and Then Eat Some More

Bike 3 miles (commute)
Run 8 miles

I've had 5 meals so far today. As always some snacking between meals as well. I've always eaten a lot but lately as I've been pushing my training up over 20 hours a week I've been eating at a very impressive rate. So far today I have eaten an egg, cheese, and bagel sandwich; large bowl of oatmeal; 2 pieces toast; slice of pizza; large bowl of cous cous, eggplant, peas, and leeks; large kale and roasted tofu salad; small bowl fruit salad; huge lemon ginger marinated tofu sandwich; large serving tortilla chips; 1 apple; large plate of black beans, shrimp, and rice with kiwi salsa; large bowl of fruity pebbles; and 2 pieces of toast with peanut butter. And it's only 9:00. I'm sure I'll have another snack or two before bed.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

First Bears

Mt. Bike 15 miles
Run 12 miles

It's no secret, there are a lot of bears in Alaska. Juneau is no exception. In two months here last fall before winter hit I probably saw 20 or so of them. This spring though they've been slow to appear after Juneau's snowiest winter on record. For about 3 weeks now I've been hearing stories around town of people starting to see a few bears, but I saw my first one today. Two of them in fact. Nothing too exciting. They were several hundred yards away, across a large creek, but in Alaska the first bear of the season feels like a turning point. It really makes it feel like summer. Or at least that is the way it has felt for the two years that I've lived in Alaska. When I lived in Utah it was always the first rafting trip of the season that made it feel like summer, even though this was often in late March or early April. When I lived in upstate New York it was always the first warm, humid night that made it feel like summer, usually sometime in mid to late May. Here though, it's either the first bear or the first lupine blooms... both of which have occurred for me in the past 3 days. I got a little sunburnt this weekend too... that also has a way of making it feel like summer.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Gettin' By With a Little Help From My "Friends"

Mt. Bike 78 miles

Run 8 miles
Mt. Bike 12 miles

When I got off work yesterday I was in an awful mood. It had been a tough week at work and I just wanted to lay around and do nothing. I wasn't physically tired at all though and I really knew that I should get out for a run and/or bike ride but I was having a very hard time motivating. As usual, when I'm feeling lazy, I began surfing the Internet to kill some time and try to unwind a little bit.

As many of you know The Grand Loop Bike race was last weekend. Also as many of you probably know Dave Harris shattered the old course record by almost 7 hours.

As I was fumbling around on the Internet yesterday afternoon I discovered that Dave Harris had published a report of this record breaking ride on his blog. It's a great story that I highly recommend checking out. I found it to be one of those stories that completely changed my mood. In an instant I went from feeling lazy and frustrated to anxious and giddy to get out for a run/ride. If you consider yourself an endurance athlete and don't get excited and motivated after reading this story then maybe you should check to be sure you're still alive. After reading the story a second time I headed out the door for an hour run and then an hour bike ride... all thanks to a post from a blogger who I have never met (thanks Dave). Isn't the Internet great?

Today I was planning to do a hard run (in place of the race that I was supposed to run today which has been postponed due to snow) but decided instead that I wanted to be outside for the entire day. I got up late and didn't get started until 11:00 but I rode for 9 hours (7:30 riding time with 1:30 of picture taking, napping, eating, etc), mostly on singletrack, and got in 78 miles that was so fun it felt more like 3 hours.

Totals for the week: Run 57 miles; Bike 139 miles; 21.5 hours.

Here's some pictures from last night and today:

This bridge didn't fare too well with this winter's record snowfall... sure was cold running through that water.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Busy Days With Little Training...

Run 7 miles
Bike 3 miles (commute)

Road Bike 25 miles

A couple easy days. Been working too much. Need to work a lot again tomorrow so it'll be another mellow day of training as well. Waiting anxiously for the weekend. The race I was hoping to run on Saturday has been postponed due to snow on the trail, but I will probably do a similar distance (~15 miles) at or near 25 mile race pace.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Juneau Tourists: Never Cease to Amaze and Entertain

Bike 3 miles (commute)
Run 15 miles

4 miles into my run tonight I found myself at to the top of the Mt. Roberts Tram. This is a tramway that carries cruise ship visitors (and the occasional local) about 1/3 of the way up Mt. Roberts to an elaborate little "village" which includes a restaurant, gift shop, restrooms, visitor center, and a caged bald eagle (for real). I headed over to the viewing deck that overlooks town to take a short breather before heading back down and on my way up another trail. Just as I was about to turn and head on my way a tourist appears out of nowhere and asks me, "did you just run all the way up here?" Then his question was "where did you start from?" Me: my house. Next question, "Where's you're house?" I pointed down to the city and showed him the area where I live. He then says, "What time did you start?" I look at my watch and tell him that I started at 8:00 (it was 8:45 at the time). This was when it got good and amusing. He says to me, "8:00 this morning?" At this point I assume he's joking and just trying to make a sarcastic joke about me getting up the mountain quicker then he would expect so I didn't really say anything. I was just about to slip away when his son comes over and he turns to his son and says, "hey Billy, this guy has been climbing up this mountain since 8:00 this morning!" At this point there just really wasn't much else I could say so I just turned and headed away leaving them both thinking that I had been climbing up the mountain for over 12 hours when in fact it had been less than 41 minutes.

A few photos from a little later on in the run:

Monday, June 4, 2007

Melting Fast

Bike 3 miles (commute)
Run 7 miles

The snow's melting fast that is.

Juneau has so many great trails and now they are finally coming into bloom. Each day there is less and less snow. Pretty soon I will be able to get up on some of the ridges. Can't wait for that. I love running in the snow, but it's now June. It's time for a few months of mud rather than snow.

I'm hoping to run in a 14 mile trail race this Saturday. A week ago I thought there would be no way the snow would be melted enough for the race to take place but now I'm thinking it just might be able to happen. I don't plan to put 100% effort into this race but it will be really nice to line up with other runners and push myself hard for awhile. Once the race starts I'm sure I'll run it pretty much as hard as I can, but I wouldn't call it a 100% effort because I have no plans of doing anything specific to prepare for this race. That is, I'll be training right through this race as though it were a hard workout instead of a race.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

11 Hour Weekend

Mt. Bike 15 miles
Run 20 miles

Got in another nice long day today. An hour of biking and 3 hours of running. 11 hours for the past two days. Pretty insignificant compared to those out riding The Grand Loop this weekend but a good long weekend of training nonetheless. The weather was great today and I got all the way out to the end of the Bishop Point trail

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Turning Over The Pedals

Mt. Bike 63 miles

Bike 3 miles (commute)
Run 9 miles

My mountain bike finally made it's way back to Alaska from Utah. I went out today and rode pretty much every trail in and around Juneau. Was out for almost 7 hours: about 25 miles of road and 38 miles of trail. Felt great. Took about 20 miles to get "warmed up" but I just kept feeling stronger as the ride went on.

My bike hanging out with the pipeline along the Salmon Creek Trail.

Favorite part of the ride: Sushi and Iced Tea after 53 miles:

Least favorite part of the ride: Fall I took at about mile 25. Landed pretty hard on my shoulder and wrist. Thought I was done for the day but then 5 minutes later the pain was all gone and I don't feel it at all tonight.

Totals for the week: run 47 miles, bike 143 miles, in 21 hours.