Friday, April 22, 2011

Photo blog...

To avoid too much focus on those pesky race goals I thought I'd post a collection of photos from Christmas 2010 in Ireland through the recent trip to Colorado/California...

Christmas Tree... I am renowned for redecorating the tree when I get home but this year it was still in the box when I arrived! Myself and Caz had fun constructing it. We usually have a real one so the artificial one took some work but (we think) it looked good.

It was a cold and white Christmas in Ireland with record low temps (-17C)!

New Year's was spent in the Boundary Waters with the family :) What an amazing experience! Unfortunately I lost my camera somewhere in the snow so this is the only shot I have when we got back to Grand Marais after the 5 day trip.

Life on a plane will be one of the main themes of 2011... This is from my first trip out to California in January. The regular commuting didn't start until April.

Chris and Roberto reunite at Arrowhead! Leaving the halfway checkpoint on Day 2 - it was incredible to witness the willpower and drive on display at this race...

An incredible achievement...

Next up - skijour season! A winning start to Chris and Cooper's new adventure...

Nala! Foster puppy - she was a bundle of fun...

Work brought me to Paris in early March. My fav new shoes came with me...

And at the end of March Chris and I were lucky enough to spend a few days in Colorado. I ran up and down and around Flagstaff, Green Mountain and Bear Peak. It was a beautiful run and a perfectly lovely short break...

Anton ran here :)

Summit of Green

Onwards and upwards to Bear Peak...

Next up was California in early April to start the job in earnest. But never mind work, Alicia came out for a few days and we spent the weekend running in the Marin Headlands in prep for her Miwok race next month. Appropriate fueling was also high on the agenda...

On our way back to Los Gatos we took a spin down Hwy 1...

Bouldering at Castle Rock. Alicia shows me how it's done...

2011 Race Goals

Better late than never. And just in time for tomorrow's race! It’s a short list this year. Though I expect that may change – but we’ll see how things go with weekday hill training in CA and weekend technical trail training in MN...

  • April – Chippewa 50K, WI – 4:50. No sandbagging, just no way I am going to be beating the past 2 years’ times (4:41 and 4:41); and in fact 5:00 may be closer to the mark.

  • August – Leadville 100M, CO – 24:00.

  • December – Hellgate 100K, VA – agghhhhhh – I really, really want to put something crazy like 12:59:59 here but I’m not going to! :)

I’m half thinking of another 100M in the fall – perhaps Pinhoiti (AL) in early November. But won’t make plans until after Leadville. Same goes for Wild Duluth 100K and/or Surf the Murph 50M, October (MN). If not racing, I hope to be at these races to volunteer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

2010 - The Year in Review

This will be a busy blogging week for me - I have to post this one (only a few months late), and then sneak in my goals for 2011 before the first race on Saturday! And I also need to post a ton of photos from the trip to Ireland...

I kept pretty much the same categories as last year.

  • Best race performance (according to me!): Bighorn 50M

  • Most fun "racing": Where’s Waldo - 15 hours hanging out with Kami and lots of reminiscing over the past 4 years of our ultra-running careers. Good stuff.

  • Most memorable training run: An 8 mile round trip through Ecola State Park with the most beautiful surroundings and great company.

  • Toughest race: Hellgate 100K

  • Best organized race: Afton 50K. I didn’t run it this year which is probably a better way to judge… it doesn’t just look organized, it really is!

  • Best course finish: Miwok 100K – WOW – after running crawling up Wolf Ridge, it was sooo much fun barreling down the mix of trail and road to the finish line at Rodeo Beach

  • Smartest race: Bighorn 50M

  • Best fueling experience: Bacon at the Cow AS at Bighorn 50M

  • Best supporters: Just one award this year – Chris’ support at Hellgate was hard to beat.

  • Most awful race: Superior 50K. The race itself is great of course. But my race sucked.

  • Smartest training decision: Getting ART from Dr. Wade Folske post-Superior 50K and actually following through with exercises/weights in the weeks leading up to Bighorn 50M

  • Best race shirt: Afton 50K

  • Best pre race: Hellgate 100K. Love it.

  • Best post race: Bighorn 50M. Outdoor pancake breakfast the following morning in downtown Sheridan attended by all the runners and crew = Awesome!

  • Best winner’s schwag: I walked away from Psycho Wyco with $150 + $50 gift cert + new shoes + cool shirt, so that’s kind of hard to beat! But I think the $250 Patagonia down jacket from Hellgate 100K narrowly does that.

  • Most fun event: Surf the Murph gets this one again. The repeat aid station was a blast.

  • Worst racing decision: I made it through the year (running) injury free so I guess nothing to report here.

  • Best finish line feeling: Hellgate 100K

  • Most unexpected result: Hellgate 100K. For sure.

  • Wisest RD words: Bad Ben at Psycho Wyco… “Keeping your shoes clean is optional”

  • Best volunteers: Where’s Waldo – especially the folks and the Heaven & Hell AS

  • Wednesday, April 6, 2011

    Hello. My name is Helen.

    Forgive me readers, it has been 3 months since my last post. In that time I have both lived life and been passionate. But I haven’t had a whole lot of time to blog about it. And the passion didn’t have a whole lot to do with running so probably better you didn’t hear from me. And if I am being fully honest about it I have been taking the easy option and just posting on facebook. Sorry blogger.

    But it’s spring now, at least in my new “home” in the south Bay area of northern California it is. But more on that later. It’s April and therefore Chippewa is around the corner (looking forward to hanging out with Tracy & Rasmus and bump!). So there will be a race report. And before that I need some blogging practice. I will follow up soon with a 2010 recap and a 2011 goals post (we’re off to Ireland this weekend which means lots of plane time for writing). It’s probably a good thing I left those until now since my perspective on 2010 is a little less harsh and my goals for 2011 a little less lofty.

    I cannot wait to see my TWO new nieces on Saturday! Aoibhe and Áine. The former having a pronunciation that even I am still getting used to. Try it Steve. Congrats to my two sisters on their new bundles of joy. Between family and friends, there are a lot of new babies to visit during this trip causing Chris to ask if it will be a “baby tour of Ireland?!” Perhaps so, but we’ll also get time to catch up with everyone, run some trails and back roads, see Josh Ritter in concert AGAIN and generally relax and not do a tap of work for 10 days. Good times!

    So, California… I officially started the new job full time on April 1 – but had been doing it in parallel with the old job since the start of the year - which is why I need a week off already! It’s still with the same company and still generally the same type of work but a totally new technology for me so lots to learn and figure out. I had considered a move to the west coast a few years ago when I started to get itchy feet after about 4 years in MN – a year longer than each of my two previous locations (Japan and Galway) but then things started to come together again and I had no desire to move at all. I love it here (here = MN though I am actually on a plane between San Fran and MN right now) and think it may well be where we end up but the job in Los Gatos (a town just south of San Jose) is too good an opportunity not to pursue and so we’re looking at it as a few years to experience life in northern California, the ocean 20 miles away, the mountains even closer and trails in our back yard. Oh and did I mention it’s already a few months into spring there? Hard to argue with that!

    I will travel over and back every week for the foreseeable future until we figure out a longer term plan. Though I expect I’ll be able to lure Chris out more than the odd weekend… Cooper may take some convincing though. Though he would make lots of new friends – I think it may be illegal to live in Los Gatos without a dog. As for the running… there’s the Los Gatos creek trail (mostly paved but some trail trail) out my back door, tons of parks nearby – St. Joseph’s Open Space down the road, Fremont Older OS and Steven’s Creek County Park both about 10 minutes drive, and then Sanborne / Skyline Trail a little further up in the mountain. And of course, there’s Mt. Diablo on one side of the bay and the Marin Headlands across the bridge. Alicia came out this past weekend and we spent Saturday and Sunday running up there – training for her Miwok race in a few weeks time. We got the best possible weather for those runs – clear blue skies, warm in the sunshine and cool in the shade, and a light breeze carrying the sea air across the hills. It’s about an hour drive (w/o traffic on the early weekend mornings) up to Rodeo Beach (including a coffee stop at Peet’s – doing what I can Matt) – well worth it for a few hours of running on those trails. I hope to get over to Mt. Hamilton soon also – the tallest peak in the area with some great hiking (a.k.a. running) trails. And also a local favourite for road biking which is something I hope to do more of this year. The bike is traveling out in a few weeks. Still, even at 4196 ft it is still considerably lower than the Leadville course! But more on that in future posts…

    I did have a very cool altitude training run for it last week. Before heading out to CA for the official start, Chris and I spent a few days in Boulder. We packed a lot into that trip – hung out with Angie and Beau and chatted about their wedding plans for Costa Rica in the fall (it’s always good to have another vacation planned before the upcoming one!), got to see Shelley who moved out to Denver last summer, ran with Kristen who Kami and I met at our very first ultra back in 2007 in Moab, drank some very tasty local brews and sucked air all the way to the top of Flagstaff, Green and Bear Mountains, and sampled some yummy marshmallows wrapped in caramel at Hammond’s Candies after a tour from Andy. That was sweet! Literally. Between CO and CA, the miles totaled 62 last week which is the highest of 2011 so far. It’s been a slow start to the year. But all for the right reasons. In the 10 years that I’ve been lacing up my running shoes I know that running = happiness. But in the past year I’ve found a few other things that equal happiness on a whole other level. Life is lived in the everyday moments. In the last few seconds before you fall asleep and the first few seconds before you’re really awake. In the moments when you are thinking exactly the same thought and you don’t need to say it out loud. In the moments when you feel that everything you have ever done, good and bad, brought you to this place and you are so glad that you are alive. Truly alive.