Going Keto, Going Long

Okay, so really slow start today. Woke up, made coffee, got breakfast into the boy and then took him to Minglemint for the second cup. At this point, I’d only eaten about a quarter of a banana he’d refused to eat.


Ran some errands after drop off, sipping coffee the whole time. Made that second cup last a long while. Came home and cleaned downstairs until about 11:30. Then geared up and hit the trail. My vivosmart HR+ would not sync with the satellites so I put on the old forerunner 910xt (without heart rate monitor) and took off.

Went down to the beach twice, which gave me some elevation today. Dog was mostly cool the whole way, save a minor incident with a labradoodle on the way up from the beach the first time. Right knee has a minor twinge on the inside and below the patella. Lower, right side back is a little sore. Right shoulder behind scapula is a little sore.

Save that bite of banana this morning I haven’t eaten since yesterday at about 1730. Sweaty, stinky and burning off that belly.


So Much Easier

Last night it was a small helping of rice. Today, I’ve already passed up fruits and I’m going to pass on Tuesday afternoon gluten-free pizza Aral and I traditionally eat. I’m well on my way to ketosis. And the surprising thing is that this brush with it doesn’t seem all that difficult. I’m not craving much … of anything. And that’s great!

Swelling my hands and feet has been eliminated. My back, while a bit stiff from ripping up grass in the yard in preparation for the garden, isn’t hurting. I don’t even feel a twinge in my right knee after rolling an ankle and banging it good on yesterday’s run.

Tonight, I’ve got to take the boy to his piano lesson. I think I’m feeling up for a light run as the sun sets, and man does that feel good. I’m going to light up the night.


Micah True “Caballo Blanco” Running Free

“I remember this photo of Ali, running along the beach, on the sand in combat boots, so his boxing shoes would feel lighter when he was in the ring. He said something about the fight being won in the gym, out on the road, long before he danced under the lights. Ali was my Hero. He’d rather go to prison, than go to war. I always respected him for that. He was a great fighter, and a great runner.”When I was 21/22 years old, I had been smoking lots of dope, drinking lots of booze, partying hard.
I always wanted to run free. And I wanted to do something. And, I couldn’t. It was hard. My throat was bleeding. I was panting and feeling like crap, and determined I did not ever want to feel that way again. I thought I was too young to feel that way. It was one of those turning points where you either live, or you start dying. I have had a few of those every seven or eight years. I go through the same thing. So, are you going to let it go, or are you going to live?”

-Micah True

Today’s inspiration is there to help you sure, but it’s more to kick myself in the shorts. Caballo was already an old horse when I ran into him, but as far as I could see he hadn’t been dying until he went.

Last November I hurt my back lifting a goddamned box of ski boots. I’ve been to the doctor, I’ve made trips to the PT, and I’ve even tried to get back out on the trail a handful of times since then. So, between the pains of growing a little older and that injury I’ve let my narrative diminish. I’ve watered it down with excuses.

I’ve always wanted to do something and now I’m not doing. Not doing anything. I feel like I’ve slipped and when I allow myself to think about it, even a little, I feel horribly depressed which makes all the aforementioned sensations feel that much worse.

Here’s the thing. I know what I need to do, I just need to find the cojones to do it. It’s going to be hard, but I’ve been through harder and even better I’ve got examples and heroes like Caballo to show me the way.

So, here I am. At this turning point.

Thanks Micah, much gratitude for showing me the way.


This caught my attention

This caught my attention

Yeah, so new term I recently encountered has done an admirable job of characterizing my recent return to the trail.

In 1997 I hurt my left foot and ankle in an Army running event. At the time I was regularly running in the burgeoning trail events of the day and hoped to compete in a semi-professional way upon leaving the the service. Several surgeries later I was lucky I got to keep my foot and left my last posting using a cane to get around.

I’ve since been able to ditch the cane, and have gotten strong enough to take up trail running once more. I love it, I’m passionate about it. However, I’ve run into a series of issues that periodically make trail running a problem. Specifically, when I train too hard I end up with injuries that are usually an exacerbation of my previous medical problems. No fun, and not sustainable.

In the spring of 2014 I started up once again. I intended to enter and run a couple of 50 kilometer races. Then life happened and as you might have guessed I didn’t run in any of these. In the early summer our family had to pull stakes and relocate. This threw a monkey wrench into my training schedule and I missed Sage Burner by a couple of weeks.

Then after the dust from the move had settled enough for me to get serious about Canyon de Chile I first felt some discomfort in my back (probably from pushing A-bear around in the buggy so much) and later injured my foot stepping on a errant Lego caltrop. I took most of the autumn off to recover, and have only recently been able to get back on a training plan.

So I’ve dialed it back a notch and began to focus on the sustainability of my outdoor activities. Ground pounding trail running seems beyond me at the moment, maybe forever. Yes I can still break into a trot and sustain it a good long while, but I know sooner or later I’m going to twist something or fall or break something and I’ll end up sidelined next to a big bucket of cookies. So I walk a lot of the time. It’s a fast walk — I average about 3.4 to 4.0 miles per hour depending on terrain and weather — and it serves to get my heart rate up and keep my respiratory system fully engaged.

While this seems like an okay way to re-enter the trail running scene I haven’t seen this state of affairs as anything other than a means to an end. Walk until you can run. But no amount of walking or running is going to make me 23 years old again and pushing that hard will predictably end badly.

I need goals to work toward. While winning an event has never been particularly important, participation in trail running events has been. I also need community, people I can talk with from time to time, who share my passion for wilderness and for covering ground under their own power.

I came across this guy on the Pacific Crest Trail facebook page. He’s the author of that meme at the top of this post.

In those few words Guitarte has defined an emerging passion I was working on yet failing to codify. I have goals now.

My long term health goal is to be out on the trail when I am ancient. To do that I need to avoid hurting myself. I am already a very efficient walker and have a great deal of experience backpacking. But having an event to train for gives me a concrete goal to work towards and I’ve always found that is the most compelling way to live. 

In a decade and change my little one will be out of the house and I’ll likely be able to fulfill my dream to Triple Crown. But not right now. Right now I’ve got to keep my focus on regaining my health and becoming performant once more. Seemingly, my body can’t keep up with the stress and strain of running 40+ miles a week. I guess I’m not a 20-something any more. Every single time I try to train like this I end up sidelined by injuries. Every. Single. Time.

Trail Running in the Rain

I’ve been rebuilding my PNW running kit and in doing so I’ve been reviewing why my it works so well for me. You should not be afraid of running in the rain or cold. In fact, if approached correctly, this can be the best time of year to run. However, you must make a couple of adjustments to the common kit in order to make trail running after the autumn equinox safe, comfortable and enjoyable. Here are my suggestions for staying out on the trail all winter long.

Get Wet, Be Happy

The myth of the dry runner is perhaps bigger than the myth of Sasquatch. In the Pacific North West, during the rainy season, there is no such thing as a dry runner. If you run on trails this is doubly so because you’ll be brushing up against nappy ferns and running under dripping trees even if there isn’t rain falling from the sky. Water will get inside your jacket, it will saturate your socks, it will soak your underwear and there is nothing you can do about it. Coat yourself in vinyl and you’ll still be dealing with a wetness problem since you’re body is going to perspire far more than your clothes will be able to eject.

The solution is to become comfortable with wet, and work for warm. Wet can no longer be a discomfort that you tolerate, you must make your peace with it fully and completely. If you cannot bring yourself to this state of mind you will fail running in the rainy season.

However, since you know you’re going to get wet you need to ensure you never get cold. Cold is the enemy. This means wearing hydrophobic fabrics like nylon and and wool which don’t lose their property to insulate when they get wet. Socks, tights, shorts, shirt, jacket, gloves, and hat. None of these things should have a single thread of cotton involved in the weave. Garments that claim to be “waterproof” are extra weight which will quickly be proven inadequate. Even the best tech fabrics will take on water in a good down poor and most of them do little to insulate.

Start Cold

There are very few runs that happen this time of year where you wont find a ruck strapped to my back. The reason is that I want to start the run cold, almost shivering cold. This is so I can tune the temperature regulation of my body after things get warmed up which means I’ll likely bring an extra layer of warmth which occupies my backpack for the duration.

In bitter cold, when the air dries up a bit and arctic winds are blowing, I tend to carry a thicker, more insulative outer layer in my ruck while ensuring exposed skin is minimized. Use baffles at critical junctures to keep heat close to your core. A buff around your neck, gloves tucked into sleeves, long underwear tucked into your tights. Starting out will be uncomfortable, but the advantage is that you can untuck or re-zip while you run, adjusting to a headwind or a hill as encountered.

Save that outer layer in reserve for when you stop for a bite to eat or after the run is over. Its warmth and dryness will be welcome then and in an emergency it can be the difference between life and death.

Layer Like a Bagman

Your running wardrobe should be built in layers: base/insulation/shell. You can add complexity and thus adjustability in middle. Two components adding a quarter inch of insulation are better than a single which does the same thing. This is because that second jacket or sweater can come off and on as conditions fluctuate.

Also, there is an advantage to this when you pay attention to what the weather is doing. Do you see that pregnant cloud coming in over the lake? Yeah, it’s going to make land fall and start dumping on you in the next couple of minutes. Quick stow a part of your insulation layer in the dry bag tucked away in your ruck and save it for later. If you leave it on, it’s only going to get wet.

Travel Towels

Bring a small hyper-absorbent travel towel along in your kit. It doesn’t have to be much more than a hand rag. I use this at the end of a run before I change into a second set of dry clothes and sometimes during a run to wipe up and wring out some of the excess moisture that will pool in uncomfortable places.

The utility of a hand sized Sea-to-Summit Drylite towel cannot be overstated. You can blow you nose on them, even in the rain. They can clean glasses, or be used to clear fogging. This, and only this, has what it takes to remove that annoying nose-drip which perpetually hangs off the end of my beak. When you’re done with the run, chuck it in with the load of running clothes that you’re going to be washing. Keep a short stack of these ready for when the urge takes you out on the trail.

Stretching Pad

Yeah, you still need to stretch after a run in the rain. If you don’t you’ll be more likely to suffer injury. You can make this vital component of your run more likely to happen by preparing for it. You won’t likely stretch back at the trailhead if you’re going to be sitting down in icy mud. I use a Thermarest Z-lite sleeping mat for a couple of reasons.

First, when I’m done I can open the rear hatch on my Prius and stand on it in my socks. The ridges get me up off the cold and wet of the parking lot and the insulation makes is possible to focus on working out the kinks in my legs before they turn into knots. Also, this little bit of preparation gets used to change atop. If I’ve got warm, dry clothing waiting for me in the car I can get into this outfit without smearing mud and yuck all over the cabin of my automobile.

Seal Electronics

Either buy electronics that are factory sealed or find ways to ensure these useful tools for running are protected. Either that or leave them home. Your phone should be packed up inside something that has no potential to leak and if you carry a separate GPS make sure it can survive a two meter plunge.

Periodically double check your gear to make certain no water has made it into the case. This is especially important for phones sealed in third-party cases since ambient humidity can turn into condensation over time. Open them up, take a look inside, wipe out what shouldn’t be there.

Rotate Shoes

I run at least five days a week. After any run my shoes tend to come back pretty wet and somewhat muddy. In order to alleviate the problem of running in wet shoes (which is never any fun) I rotate three or four pairs of shoes during the winter months.

There is still the advantage that I’m giving my shoes time to recover, but my experience is that shoe foam recovers faster than it dries. Adding shoes to the rotation ensures that I’m always running in dry shoes.

Make sure you stay on top of minor shoe repairs as well. Shoe rubbers become less useful in the wet. Runners will tend to slip on ice, wet pavement, rocks and tree roots given the changed conditions. A little problem with a shoe can quickly turn a minor slip on a tree root into a catastrophic injury. Keep a brush near the place you store your shoes, keep them clean. Inspect them for tears and separations, repair or replace shoes when these problems are minor.

Stay Visible

I don’t think that this one can be overstated. The rainy season, which is marked by low-light days that become progressively shorter, is also when hunters are hitting the trails. Drivers cannot see you in that slick black jogging suit. Neon colors, blinking lights these separate the dead darkwads from the successful winter runners.

Neon color gloves with reflective stripes, jackets that make you look clownish, running tights that hurt the eyes; your winter gear should communicate your presence as far a distance as you can project it. You don’t just want ugly here, you want to revive 80’s outdoor fashion fugly.


July Trail Runner Blog Symposium

About two-thirds of the way through the month I wrote Yitka at Trail Runner magazine. The topic announcement for the July edition of the Trail Runner Blog Symposium was seemingly stuck back in June. She replied, offered her apologies and mentioned that they were over committed for July and that they’d be skipping this month.

I don’t feel let down by this at all. July is one of those months in the trail running community when everything tends to happen all at once. Speed Goat, Hard Rock, too much sky running. Kilian Jornet completed an 11h and change ascent of McKinley. Okay, so that was in June, but everyone spent the first couple of weeks in July trying to nab an interview with him. Point being, it’s a busy time. It is also an incredible time for trail work.

In early July I did a big moon trail run up the PCT well into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area. As expected it was an amazing run and I felt blessed to have the opportunity. The ascent is steep, but most of the snow had melted before the Kendall Katwalk. When I emerged from the trees I was bathed in milky, silver moonlight. We all know that you can have a sun bath, but who knew bathing in moonlight could be so good?

On the far side of the Katwalk fields of fast melting snow slowed my progress so I only made it as far as a rocky outcrop just before Joe Lake. I set up a hasty bivy under the moon on a flatish rock and tried to grab some shuteye.

The moonlight was one problem that kept me awake, but with my hood pulled over my eyes I was shaded enough to not be bothered too much. But in the stillness of that high place along the Crest I could make out the constant passage of traffic along Interstate 90 some 10 miles away and far below. It was driving nutty.

Surrounded by thousands of acres of supposedly untrammeled land compression breaks of container trucks and early morning air traffic headed to and from SeaTac penetrated that far up the Gold Bar basin. And so it goes that I gave myself a topic to consider. Trail running is a backcountry pursuit. Sure, I can head out the door of my townhouse here in suburbia and trot along foot paths lovingly cut into the DNR forests that border the development, but the good stuff, the trails I crave are all in deep Wilderness. So I wonder, what can trail runners do to protect what remains wild in the backcountry we inhabit, and more specifically, what can we do to protect lands specifically designated as Wilderness?

This year is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act. In that short time Wilderness has come under a barrage of attacks. Today, wilderness areas as increasingly at risk as politicians, convinced they’re missing out on money making opportunities, endeavor to remove or weaken protections guaranteed by this piece of legislation. The Wilderness Society maintains a map of active bills and legal battles that would be detrimental to Wilderness lands. All that red is very sad commentary on contemporary American civic values. It means that love of money, power and control has taken over our collective consciousness.

I believe that understanding why this is happening is the best leverage we have in the protection of these lands. The people who mount these attacks on wilderness do so because they do not value these lands. They have no experience, in fact, of America in its primal state. Or if they do, it is an experience distorted by playthings.

When I worked on the Flat Tops Wilderness in Colorado I would spend the first half of any summer hauling out the trash of hunter camps from the previous autumn. Privileged white men with more money than sense would hire out guides, steads and luxurious accommodations well beyond the wilderness boundary for a chance to hunt the impressive herds of Elk that roam those high, primal lands. As was evidenced by the piles of rotting junk I invariably collected up and slung across my back, these people did not visit that place for a love of land. Rather, they were there play-acting like children the role of hunter.

Moonlight bivy above Joe Lake

Now understand, I have no problem with hunting. When I had more time and money I hunted regularly. The point I’m trying to get at is that these people visited this place, not to experience the place, but to exploit a resource it happened to contain. They were invariably removed or padded from the consequences of their actions and the impact their visit had on that place. The point I’m getting at is that they did not experience wilderness, only a proximity to it.

How could they value untrammeled, wild land? How could they fall in love with the stark, unforgiving beauty of tundra? How might they understand the value of a place completely devoid of all human sounds save the passage of your own breath?

People only fight for things for which they feel passion. You cannot feel passion for something you do not understand. It’s my belief that many trail runners understand how valuable wilderness is because they know these places. Trail running is an excellent way to include people in a raw wilderness experience. There is very little between you and your surroundings on a good trail run. You’re really in it. What can trail runners do to protect wilderness? This one wants to take you along on his next bivy. So come on, lace ’em up, let’s get wild in the wilderness.

WTA Hike-A-Thon 2014

In 2009 I ran nearly every day during the month of August. I don’t recall the exact amount, but I know I raised nearly the most for Washington Trails Associations annual Hike-a-Thon. If I recall correctly, I came in second place. The following year, due to some soft tissue injuries and the pending birth of my second child I ran fewer miles, but with a matching gift from my employer we exceeded the fund raising efforts of the previous year.

Since we left Washington in 2011 I have been unable to locate a trails organization that does even a fraction of the good WTA does every year. These guys mean business, and considering the number of fallen trees and washed out water bars they have to contend with they had better be ready to step up. Personally, I have felt that loss. The years we spent in Colorado were marked by the decline of some of my favorite trails. Beautiful places neglected, or worse, good places used with neglect. That sort of thing happens. When it became apparent that we’d be moving back to the Pacific North West I got excited.

Now I get to work with excited, energized people who care about wild lands. So now our chance to rectify the intervening years. Click on the image above, let’s get this baby rolling. And remember, if you are lucky enough to be working for one of the many excellent employers in the Puget Sound you may have matching funds you can donate toward this cause.

Epic Run Day

\Not everyone wakes up in the morning and says “Damn, I need some miles today,” but today that is exactly what I needed. After a yummy breakfast at Main Street Bagels I set my sites on climbing up the Grand Mesa. Conventional routes were out. Seriously, too much traffic and not enough space for the bulki. So instead we chose a seasonally closed route known as Land’s End.

It’s a mostly dirt scenic by-way that climbs up a west face of the big flat-topped mesa on the east end of the Grand Valley. If you’ve ever visited here, you can’t miss it.

The route traverses several biomes common to the Colorado Plateau as well as multiple geologic formations so unlike climbing up the Colorado National Monument (south) or the Bookcliffs (north) there is great variety as you make your merry way along the road. And, probably the best part of this ascent is that the road remains closed until June 1st (although there has been recent road maintenance work completed).

Near the top, while I was feeling very strong, I was also keenly aware of two things. First, that I was running critically low on water. The first two-thirds of the ascent there isn’t any, and while there is near the top still some snow and plenty of runoff, I neglected to bring water treatment. I had about six more switchbacks to reach the brow of the Mesa. Bummer.

Second, near the top shaded spots still have snow and there is lots of mud. The road surface was very soft in places and this was requiring me to really push the hell out of the bulki. So I saved the top for another day. It’s melting fast and drying quickly. Next time I’ll be better prepared.

I am particularly proud of one thing above all on this run, and it is not its length or elevation gain. When we left the parking area near the gate Aral was in a foul mood. He was trying everything and anything to get me to turn around. By the time we got to the first series of switchbacks (maybe two miles in) I had him cheering me onward. Nap time occurred on the way back down after ample time playing in the dirt.

So far I haven’t written a word, but plenty of kinks got worked out in 20 miles of running. I plan on knocking out a few tonight and then some more tomorrow. The little guy is out cold, which is what happens when you mix ample amounts of sunshine, fresh air, and play time into their diet. I’m tired, but not devastated. Honestly, I haven’t felt this fit since August of 2009. And this go around I’ve been spending a lot more time and effort trying to recover which is helping.

I’m Outta Here

Yeah nerds, you heard me right. Bills paid, laundry is done, and I nabbed a few hundred words toward the completion of UP SLOPE. Aral is hanging with the grand parents this afternoon. What’s that mean? It means Daddy has some free time. Oh yeah!

What does Daddy do with his free time? Does he microwave a pile of corn dogs and munch on their shriveled remains until a feeling of satisfaction and peace overcomes his heart? Nope. Does he practice the nose-harp in while holding onto the dream of one day being the only symphonic nose-harp player in the world. No, sorry. Close, but no cigar. He runs. Runs and runs and runs.

This afternoon the Grand Valley will play host to a single competitor. I’m climbing the Colorado National Monument with my free time.

In other news, I came across this very wonderful piece by Krystal Ball on MSNBC. A wonderfully snarky bit of writing which I gobbled up and then smiled about all morning long.

See you after sunset, I’m outta here.

One more quick question. Does anyone have any experience using electrosimulation for endurance training? I’ve been contemplating integrating a Compex model into my training schedule, but I’m skeptical and a little repelled by the price. However, the testimonial information out there is VERY compelling.

Tabeguache, Ahhhhh!

First thing I have to say about this run is “I can’t find my heart rate monitor.” The second thing I have to say about this run is, “Don’t talk to me about my heart rate monitor.”

Click on the image for details of the run

Yeah, I’m high five-ing myself these evening. It was a short run, only three miles and change, but it was fun running. And dry. Did I mention that the trail wasn’t a muddy, nasty mess?

Aral was a real trooper on this trip too. He didn’t nap, rather he cheered me on all along the way. His favorite was stoping along Raven’s Ridge to pee on a tree. I also think he liked running over the pump track at the end.

Good times were had by one and all.