Monday, December 30, 2013

“It's opener, out there, in the wide, open air.”

This past year was my first real attempt at running. I didn't play any organized sports (sorry soccer) and solely focused on enjoying foot travel, especially on the trails and in the mountains. The people I met, experiences I've had and things I've learned (and still not yet figured out), lead me to believe that 2014 will be just as exciting.

Thanks to all my friends, family and people I've met in the community. I'm very fortunate to have had so many great times in 2013.

California in February, where I got to run the Golden Gate 30k with my brother.
Running my first ultra at Chuckanut in March... 
...and then re-exploring trails in southeastern Utah immediately after.
Sun Mountain 50k, where I first met Dave and Greg
On top of Desolation Peak; jumping from 50k to 47 miles
The 42-mile Devil's Dome Loop with Richard and Dave; probably my favorite adventure run of the year.
A lap around Manning Park, doing the Frosty Mountain 50k course plus a bit extra. 
Central Cascades run with Greg and Dave.
Pretty spent after White River 50 mile
Angel's Staircase 60k
Pacing at Cascade Crest 100 with families Swoish... 
...and Criminale.
More Canadian North Cascades.
Cle Elum Ridge 50k.
Lots of solitude in the Cascade Recreation Area.
Fall arrives in northern Oregon, with Paul.
Back in BC, Garibaldi Park with Darren.
Deception Pass 50k.
And some (potentially) mentally-unsound guys running around a park at night in the rain

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Annual Christmas Eve trip up Mt. Si

My brother, step-dad Steve and I always go for a hike up Mt. Si on Christmas Eve, starting early and trying to beat the crowds. This year I run-hiked up, went back down .7 miles to meet them, then went back up and waited for them before running all the way down.

The snow started 2.3 miles up and the top mile was a nice 4-5" of powder from overnight snow.

On the way up, looking back down the trail; about 3 miles up. 
Flirting with a view from the 3,945' lookout point. 

First time up.
Second time up; snapping Greg and Steve as they come up.
Steve, me, Greg.
Sun coming out on the way down, about 2.2 miles from the trailhead.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Longest Night group run: THANK YOU!

Got out to Cougar Mountain last night for some headlamp-lit rain, mud and fog running, to celebrate the longest night of the year.

Thanks to everyone who showed up: Dave, Paul, brother Greg, Matthew, Ian, Martin and Todd.

Starting just after 5pm everyone did a first ~15m first loop and five of us headed out for another 8 miles, finishing around 11pm. Suffice to say we had the trails all to ourselves.

No sprained ankles, lots of good running talk, just fun times on the trails with good people. Dare I say it will be an annual thing?

All done; Matthew, Dave, Luke, Ian, Paul.
Paul made cool shirts for everyone too!

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Deception Pass 50k report

On Saturday night I got to enjoy a nice carb-intensive dinner with my aunt and uncle in Bellingham, at the same place we ate at the night before Chuckanut, which was exactly nine months earlier. That was my first ultramarathon; yesterday was my sixth. It was interesting to think about the nervous conversations we had back in March when I'd never run further than 21 miles...

Even though Deception was a bit of a last-minute addition to my schedule, I'm so glad I got to race one more time this year. I wasn't nervous, I actually recognize people in the community now and I didn't have any pressure to do anything other than cross a spray-painted line in the sand.

Previewing the course in November was great and it was the first time I actually got to race trails where I knew exactly what was coming. 

Starting on the road seemed to lead to a few enthusiastic starts; people went out fast! I'm pretty sure I was in about 50th place after half a mile. The first three lollipops all are on fairly technical singletrack, and with runners going both directions it was a tight squeeze, but people were very courteous. I just did my own thing, sometimes running near people, but mostly by myself. 
Early miles; Glenn Tachiyama photo.
I got through the first ten miles in 1:42 and was starting to feel good. I passed three or four people between the trail leading to the bridge and Goose Rock, and had a good climb up catching glimpses of someone a hundred yards ahead wearing an equally-chartreuse shirt. 

Through the Cornet Bay camp and up to the road I was closing on him, and when I pulled up alongside Mr. Yellow he looked really familiar. After two and a half hours of running alone it was nice to chat with someone (especially considering more than 200 people started the race). 

Turns out it was Eric, who ran an awesome sub-23hrs at Cascade Crest this year and I recognized him from at least one or two aid stations in the wee hours of the morning (Thorp and French Cabin, I think). I left the aid station before him, but he caught up in a few minutes and we spent the next 13 miles together, talking the entire time. We dropped one guy who had been hanging on and got totally chicked by the fourth place woman, but it was really nice to chat and have some company on the Hoypus double loop, which doesn't have the vistas and excitement of the first half of the course. Eric went on to push a little harder for the last mile of the second loop.
Coming into the Cornet Bay aid station with Eric, mile 21; photo. 
Luckily Dave was down at the aid station on his sweeping duties and had some nice words of encouragement for me on the last three miles. I ran a bit with Nathan on the road and then pushed on, trying to finish well. 

The last mile felt like one of my strongest, passing someone with half a mile left and then closing a hundred yard gap to three seconds over the last quarter mile (at sub-7 pace; ha!). Eric had finished just one minute ahead, capping a big HURT 100 training week. 
Nice section along the water right before the finish, mile 30.5; Glenn photo.
This was my "fastest" 50k: 5:10:26 (full results), 29th overall out of 183 finishers.

I've been fortunate enough to run four races this year put on by James and Candice. They always have a great relaxed feel and bring out so many NW runners and outdoors people. Thanks you two and all your volunteers.

The last nine months of ultrarunning have been awesome. Thank you to all the people I've spent time with on the trails, seen at races/adventure outings and who have inspired me to run. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

2014 races?

No luck this morning with the Western States lottery...quite a few Washingtonian runners selected and Hozumi from Vancouver, but no one I personally know.

So, what to "race" for the year, then?

  • Miwok 100km, CA, May 3 (In via the lottery!)
  • Capitol Peak 50m, WA, April 26 (backup for Miwok)
  • Cascade Crest 100, WA, August 23 (February lottery; first choice)
  • Silverton Double Dirty 30 100k, CO, June 28 (Mini Hardrock! Super tempting; January registration)
  • The Bear 100, UT, September 26 (waiting to see about Cascade Crest)
  • Pine to Palm 100, OR, September 13 (double backup?) 
A couple of 50k races or a 50m might sneak their way in, but I don't (currently) plan on doing more than four races next year. I may have spent too much time tapering and recovering and think I'd like to have a bit more freedom for adventure runs in 2014. I'd love to do some more pacing and crewing for 100m races, though!  

Here is one of the adventure runs I didn't get to do this year; snowed out by that early-season storm the first week of October:
60-mile traverse of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area, starting at eightmile creek in Leavenworth and ending at Snoqualmie Pass.
Profile of the route, read right-to-left.
A big route in the Pasayten, running the Grand Gulch trip I llama-packed with family 20+ years ago and some other random adventures also would be great to do.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Longest Night group trail run
2013 winter solstice

5pm - December 21, 2013
Cougar Mountain Park
Bellevue, WA

Come out, don your headlamp and celebrate the longest night of the year this winter solstice! This is a free, group fun-run for anyone interested in putting in some nighttime trail running miles.

  • This is intended to be a group run done together. It's going to be dark, cold and wet; for safety and trail finding reasons, and in the holiday spirit, spend time with your friends and make new ones on this run. Please save your race legs for another day. 
  • The route will be a 12-mile loop with approximately 2,000' of gain (map and profile), starting from near the Sky Country trailhead. Please carpool!
  • General idea is to do two laps, for a holiday 24 miler (4,000' gain). If people want to truly enjoy the night and do a third loop, there may be a couple people up for it. 
  • Headlamp or sufficient handheld lights required (extra batteries never hurt), and please check the weather and dress appropriately. This will be a rain or rain event. 
  • Note that since this is a loop, you can access water, food and clothing at your car at the end of every loop. Everyone will be responsible for their own supplies.
  • Please park in the neighborhood (street parking) near the Sky Country trailhead and meet at the end of 166th Way SE where it turns into Clay Pit Rd.   
Whether you just want to get a long run in or practice running at night for that 2014 100-miler, please come out and enjoy some company on the trails. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to comment below or reach me privately on gmail: Bataa32


2013 Angel's Staircase video

My favorite race of the year...

Angels Staircase 35/60k from Project Talaria on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Norvan Falls, Mountain Highway - North Vancouver

Bbbrrrrr...I actually turned around early today.

Had a great outing from Lynn Canyon up to Norvan Falls and back and then headed up the Baden Powell to Mountain Highway. About a mile up it really started to pour (it had been drizzling all morning, but this was heavy rain) and the wind picked up, making it quite cold. I made it a couple more miles but my hands were so cold I couldn't make a fist or open a gel. Time to get the winter gloves out!

And I swear there is a GPS black hole in North Van on Saturday is always cutting out. Lost signal from the bottom of BP at Lynn Headwaters and couldn't pick it back up on my return to Lynn Canyon. Probably about 20 miles with a little more vert.

Last weekend the boys were asking what North Shore trails are like, so I took a few quick pictures today. Just a little taste:

A good last seven days (Sunday-Saturday) for me: 58 miles, 10,100' gain

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Deception Pass course preview

Went out with a big crew today to check out the Deception Pass course....and it has some really beautiful sections.

Crossing the bridge with whirlpools below. 
Quite a few ocean-side sections.
Looking out toward the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Deception Island from Sharpe Cove.
Checking out a seal swimming through a kelp forest.
Besides the seal, we also saw beavers, deer, kingfisher and a rooster (!?). It was completely white, had lost a ton of feathers in some sort of scuffle, and was dominating the trail. I think we all agreed it was the damnedest thing we saw all day. 

The course trails are a mix of smooth dirt, some moderately technical sections, a lot of dead leaves and mud and a few miles of pavement. There are a couple blowdowns, with the only really bad one being where the trail pops out at the junction of Highway 20 and Rosario Rd. 

The Hoypus point loop (which the 50k does twice) has all the mud sections and I bet will be a big mess if it gets more rain in the coming weeks.

Thanks Dave, for organizing, and Greg, Matthew, Shane and Scott for coming along as well. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pearl Izumi E:Motion Trail N2, Trail M2, Road N2, Road M3 - exposé

Yeah....I have a problem....

Since Chuckanut in March I've only been wearing Pearl Izumi E:Motion shoes. It started with the Road M3 and after running in them for a week in Moab I came back to the Pacific Northwest and immediately tried out the Trail N2 at a local shop. Done. Perfect for me. Purchased. 

More than eight months later and I've come up with quite a little collection of them.

LEFT, from top: Trail N2 (brand new), M2 (60mi), N2 (350mi), N2 (375mi).
RIGHT, from top: Road M3 (300mi), Road N2 (200mi) 
All the technical details can be found on the PI website or an online retailer like Running Warehouse. And if you're reading this you probably already know about their "dynamic offset" and all the other doodad advertisements they talk about. Just for a refresh, the "N" models are neutral, while the "M" models provide some midfoot support for mild pronation. 

Here I'll talk about some of the more practical things that someone wearing them is likely to notice, or not notice, and my opinion on the various models. 

Since all the E:Motion shoes have a "seamless" upper, I'll start there 

No, they are not seamless. They are seam-taped (same like a gore-tex rain jacket). You do not feel the seam that runs vertically between the midsole and the top of the shoe, about halfway down the foot, so this is just me being picky about language. It really makes no difference if it is seam-taped or truly seamless, you don't notice it. 

However, one thing you may notice is that the interior of some models does have some structural material built in. This is found in the Trail M2 and Road N2, and not present in the Trail N2 and Road M3.  

Clockwise from top-left: Trail N2, Road N2, Road M3, Trail M2. Note structural material in Road N2 and Trail M2; only mesh in Trail N2 and Road M3. All shoes have the one seam sufficiently taped. 
Does that structural material make a difference? Only a little, in my opinion. It may help retain the shape of the shoe a little, but I don't really notice it keeping my foot more secure. 

Some of the shoes have different mesh uppers too. The Trail M2 and Road M3 have the same material, which feels a little more plasticky. The Road N2 mesh feels the same, but is a little different pattern. The Trail N2, though, has a completely different mesh that feels more like a cloth material (it sort of piles if you wear it through devil's club, which I don't suggest doing). 

However, I think they all work equally well. I haven't worn a hole in any of the uppers and they all breath and drain water well. Yes, they do let trail dust in, but I think that comes hand in hand with draining well.

The Trail versions also have a wider forefoot with a more bulbous shape. The Road models are more torpedo-like, having nearly the same width from the midfoot through the forefoot. I have regular-width feet, so I haven't had any issues, but I've heard people with wide feet commenting that they fit narrow. 

I do not get blisters in these shoes, but I also use good socks (Drymax or Smartwool) and almost always use Bodyglide for long runs.  

Support (M) vs Neutral (N) and cushioning

I'm a mild heel striker (more on roads than on trails) and very mild pronator. So far, however, the Trail N2 works much better for me than the M2. Why? The M2, while offering support, is much firmer than the N2. The support really is a chunk of much denser, harder foam that makes up the midsole from just in front of the heel up to the forefoot. The heel and toes of the M2 is made up of a softer material. The Trail N2, though, is made up entirely of the softer material for the entire length of the shoe.

For me, it just makes it that much smoother to have the same, constant material for the length of the shoe. I like the M2, and have only put 60mi on it, so maybe it'll feel better after wearing it more. I do like the firmer feel in soft conditions (mud and snow) and the softer, N2, on harder surfaces. 

What about the road versions? Similar, I think, but both road models are firmer than the Trail N2. The Road M3 does have a similarly-firm material through the midfoot, where the Road N2 is one material throughout. The M3 does have more foam, and thus a little more cushioning, but I think it's slightly firmer than most shoes that fall into the well-cushioned category. The Road N2 is semi-firm, and feels good when I mix it up running on pavement, dirt/gravel city trails and a rubber track. However, running solely on concrete in them would be a bit tough for me as I like softer surfaces. 

The Trail N2 midsole is my favorite, hands down. I think it's weakness is snow as it's soft and harder to kick steps in, but everywhere else it's great. The other midsoles are good too, but the feel of wearing the Trail N2 feels different (better) than all the other models. 

And in terms of support, the Trail N2, M2 and Road M3 all are good. The Road N2 works well too, even with my very mild pronation, and I don't find myself wishing it had more support. It does feel like the one with the least support, though, for obvious reasons.  


The Road versions are similar enough. The picture below shows slight differences, but they aren't noticeable. I think they work fine on pavement, groomed city trails and a track. In the rain, on a steep, mossy street, though, I'd pay more attention.

The outsole rubber holds up pretty well on the road versions as there still is a ton left after 300 miles on the M3. The only noticeable wear is in the heel-strike area.  

Road N2 (left) and Road M3 (right). I usually strike just outside of center, and slightly on the heel, as you can tell from the wear in that area.
The Trail versions have nice outsoles: I don't find things stuck in the bottom and they grip really well in everything but hard snow/ice. My one issue is that where I strike they wear down very quickly if you have to cover a mile or two of pavement. If you're truly out in the mountains they are fantastic, but if they need to be used door-to-trail, and you heel strike, even a little, you'll notice that area wear down quickly. Nowhere else on the outsole will wear down, just your favorite heel striking spot. 

Left to right: N2 (new), M2 (60mi), N2 (350mi), N2 (375mi, first pair)
Seriously, the outsoles show almost no wear except the spot where I strike, and that's only if you run on pavement (even just a couple hundred meters will start wearing them down). I sort of wish a harder compound would be used in the heel, but the grip on the rest of the shoe probably can be attributed to the soft rubber used, so maybe it's just a compromise if you heel strike and sometimes have a couple miles of pavement to move over. I guess the other thing is, I don't slip in them either, even with the heel getting more worn down than other areas, so maybe it's just a little pet peeve for me. 

I get about 350 miles out of them

Once I start to get in that range the midsoles (more prominently on the Trail N2) starts to feel a bit dead. I haven't gotten there yet in the road models, though, and I could see them lasting a little longer as they already are more firm than the Trail N2 and I might not notice them firming up.

The rest of the shoes, however, are still in good condition. No material, seem or sewing failures. The toe protector on one pair of Trail N2 is starting to delaminate, but it's only for a 1cm section and it never was an issue for me.   

Other cool things 
  • Lace tunnels on the tongue of the Trail versions keeps the tongue in place and not shifting around.
  • Sausage-link laces (also trail version only) keeps them tied tight and not coming undone. 
There probably are some small tweaks that can be made, but overall I think they are very good, simple shoes. I wish the road versions were able to feel as good as the trail models, but for some reason their comfort level is a little behind the trail shoes. If I wanted to go through shoes really fast, I'd wear the Trail N2 on pavement as well as I think it's by far the most comfortable, regardless of the surface. 

Did I forget anything....?

  • I haven't tried the Trail N1, Road N1 or Road H3. 
  • I use "biosoft" insoles from Super Jock 'N Jill in Seattle in all of my running shoes. 
  • I average 40-60 miles per week (15-20 on road/city trails and 20-40 on real trails).