Sunday, February 21, 2016

Baker Lake and River

A leisurely stroll with Sir-Hikes-A-Lot along Baker Lake and River, a winter spot I've been meaning to get to for awhile. Handful of blowdowns that require a little effort and some creek washouts to watch your footing while crossing, but nothing overly difficult.
Doesn't get more PNW than moss and ferns; south end of Baker Lake trail
Old growth along Baker Lake
Looking north at Mt. Blum

Noisy Creek washout delta
Looking up Baker River
Lake Creek washout on the Baker River trail (still passable with a little hop up the embankment)
Baker River
Sulphide Creek drainage and Mt. Shuksan's Jagged Ridge
Mt. Shuksan's Jagged Ridge

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Semi-recent gear purchases: Pearl Izumi, Patagonia, Icebreaker, WoolX, MLD

A few items I've purchased over the last year that now are in my usual rotation of outdoor goods, alongside these I posted in 2015: ultra-pocketed shorts and 2014 favorite items

Pearl Izumi: Road N0 v2 (yes, I'm a PI ambassador)

I only wear racing flats a few times a year, so admittedly this was a bit of an unnecessary purchase because my Mizuno Musha 4 from three years ago still is in nearly-new shape (and those are great shoes, too!). Although this is a v2 and the newer PI road shoes have a firmer-feeling midsole compared to the original line, this one maintains the older midsole material. It is softer than the new v3 shoes, there is just less material, as a racing flat is meant to be. Normal seamless PI upper that breaths very well and is lightweight; lightweight laces, too.

I wore them for the Geoduck Half and still will use them sporadically for track workouts. For me, the shoe is best for half and under distance, neutral and skinny runners (I'm 5'9"ish, 152lb and appreciate a bit more cushion for 13 miles of pavement).

Pearl Izumi Road N2 v3 standard trainer (top) and N0 v2 racer

Patagonia: R1 Hoody, Duckbill Cap (verdict pending...)

Patagonia gear is great, but it's hard to get over the price. Using a one-time pro deal through a friend I was finally able to swallow, close my eyes and click, as the discount made the price comparable to other brands.

I tend to hike/run on the hot side, often wearing fewer layers than others. I've worn the R1 on a few hikes and wear it straight up without a baselayer underneath. It's so warm that I think it'll only be an October-February piece for me. I love the balaclava-style hood and long chest zip for venting.
The R1 Hoody in Mount Rainier National Park, Jan '16
...and the R1 in slightly less ideal weather in the Teanaway, Nov '15. No need for a balaclava.
The Duckbill Cap is an odd piece, however. Thin, large-holed mesh makes up the back, but the front piece and bill is a DWR-coated shell material (from Patagonia shorts). I have no idea why the back of the hat is uber breathable and then the front traps heat with that material? When I ordered it I figured it was a normal, lightweight synthetic shirt-type material like other "active" hats. I've only worn it a few times, so I'll hold off total judgment for now, but it does seem to be an odd pair...

Icebreaker: BodyFit 150g baselayers

Sierra Trading Post always is a great place for outdoor deals. Last summer I purchased three Icebreaker 150g baselayer shirts at a steep discount. Simply put, I love them in pretty much every non-heat condition. I don't think merino wool "cools" in summer like some brands promote, but September-May these are some of my favorite shirts, even when just running around town.

Icebreaker Merino baselayer in Nevada, Oct '15
WoolX: Merino Base Camp Hoodie 160g

Whatever pricing algorithm Amazon uses it definitely can pay off for a keen observer. I snagged this right before the Nevada trip for $35 (it's now back up to $95?). I wore it for two days straight in Great Basin National Park and since have worn it for various hikes and runs. It's a nice versatile piece for layering, just keep velcro away so as not to start piling the wool.

Layering the WoolX Hoodie in GBNP, Oct '15

And making use of the hood, which is nice and breathable
(yeah, I originally purchased this as Ben is almost always wearing his, but from a different company)

Mountain Laurel Designs: eVENT rain mitts 

A Sir-Hikes recommendation, I used these running the Wonderland and they now are my standard shell layer down to mid-20s F. I prefer to pair them with a lightweight wool glove.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Geoduck Gallop Half Marathon - 2016

I started off the new year doing something completely new, something I never really considered doing until about seven weeks ago: working with a part-time coach. I've never had any set structure to my running and doing one or two up-tempo runs a month is all the speed work I've ever done.

For January I did two workouts a week (thanks Ethan for keeping me company on a number of them) and while my body has needed some adjusting, it has been refreshing to do something new and hopefully be stronger for late-spring and summer objectives. 

On Saturday the Geoduck Gallop Half was my first real test of how the training has been going. My previous half PR at Boundary Bay was on a pancake flat course that seems to always be into a headwind on the way out and downwind on the way back. The Geoduck course was hillier than I expected (~515' gain), so even though I was a minute or so off where I wanted to be the effort level felt harder than my previous half races and I snagged a 12 second PR (1:29:48). Being a small race that worked out to 5th male (6th overall), while Ethan torched the course in 1:14:47 for the win. Nice.

Now it's time to hopefully start targeting more strength-building workouts with an eye toward the mountains...