Craig Wisner


Making Do.

A few months ago I snapped the derailleur hanger on my Kona MTB in a near miss crash with another bike on a local singletrack.  We both rounded a blind curve simultaneously, each launching into opposite sides of the trail to avoid a head-on hit.  Somewhere in the mix I snapped my hanger off.  Six miles of coasting and pushing home without a chain.  Yay.

This was the impetus needed for my building my first clunker.  For those not familiar with them, look into some MTB history.  Alan Bonds’ is a good place to start.  An old black beach cruiser sitting in the yard for years got a quick makeover a few weeks ago.  Removal of chain guard, kickstand, reflectors, and swept back cruiser bars.  Installation of some 2.4 knobby tires and an old MTB riser bar.  Done.  I’m a big fan of the beater bike, the clunker, the scraper, the frankenbike, the daily workhorse of the average Jane or Joe.  One must resist geeking out too hard on components when building a clunker; it would defeat the very nature of the beast.

The ensuing riding is the most fun I’ve had on a bike since…?

I attribute most of it to the coaster brake.  “Stopping” is a very relative term when talking about a coaster.  Slowing, sliding, drifting, and flat out panicking are more appropriate adjectives.  Timing one’s pedal rotation in order to be able to brake is a bit tricky (read: fun) on technical stuff.

But with the relative lack of control comes the demand for a sort of flow that was immediately reminiscent of my early days of learning to ride a brakeless fixed gear in city traffic.  Anticipating trouble, picking flowing lines, riding smarter.  It also brings back fond memories of being ten years old and having neighborhood competitions to see who could lay down the longest skid mark on the sidewalk.

I just returned from what was supposed to be a ride to the trailhead for a trail run up the canyon. I locked up the bike, started to jog, and turned back for it after 100 yards, turning the afternoon into a 10 mile MTB ride instead.

Too much fun.

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I hear there’s a local group sponsoring coaster brake only MTB races….

Mt. Baden-Powell

Breaking trail in fresh snow from Dawson Saddle to the summit with my good ol’ buddy Sr. Lopez.  ~10 miles and 2500′ of gain, the “run” took a slightly unexpected turn and became a 6 hour postholing fest.  A little gear testing was done, namely NRS Hydroskins as snow socks.  I wore some lightweight Smartwool liners underneath and did relatively well given the time out there.  A great day in the mountains.

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The Race Unspoken

*Disclaimer:  I am not fast, nor do I claim I ever have been, though I am working on improving that.

Three miles behind me, I pull off of a short section of trail onto the 5K road loop that circles the Rose Bowl.  Feeling good, I’m running a bit faster than my typical pace, weaving through and past the walkers and slower joggers, enjoying my music, taking in the night air.  I appreciate road runs for the steadiness that they provide, to have the opportunity to not think about foot placement or hill climbs, but just settle into a fixed pace and my thoughts.  About 800 meters into the 5K lap, I sense another runner closing on me very slowly; he was there for a while, but I was oblivious due to my headphones until a streetlight cast his shadow beside me.

Almost instinctively, I begin to pick up my pace just slightly enough to keep him behind me. For some reason I decide I shouldn’t let him pass.

He hangs on my heels to the left for about 30 seconds.  And then I feel him making a surge, now running beside me with a comfortable distance between us.

Neither of us look at each other.

We hold the pace, now about 30 seconds per mile faster than when he first caught me.

I don’t know how far he’s already run, but we appear to be working about as hard as each other.

I reach down and cycle through my music to find a more upbeat song and pick up the pace slightly.  He drops two steps back, realizes the change, and picks it up again, staying beside me.

After another 30 second eternity of running beside him, ignoring each other, he picks up the pace.  I decide to let him go just a little bit, staying about one meter behind him, but matching the increased pace.

The race is on.  How far, to where, on what terms…nobody knows.  But there is no denying it is happening, despite the fact we still “ignore” each other by avoiding eye contact and hiding behind our headphones.

I decide to catch him and pass, but he stays with me.  We are side by side again, engaged in our awkward dance.  The walkers and other joggers we pass have no idea about the struggle lurking beneath the surface; we likely look like running partners.

We are now easily running two minutes faster than when he caught me, easily approaching my best 5K pace, if not faster.  I’m starting to hurt, lungs and quads burning, but I’m still successful in making a conscious effort to relax my face, drop my shoulders, settle in.  Fast, smooth, easy.  One mile to go on our 5K lap, a turn is approaching.  I decide that is where I’ll make my move.  The road just around the turn begins a 400 meter gentle decline, followed by a 400 meter rolling hill, then flat again.  I fall back on his heels for the last 200 meters leading into the turn.

A pause comes between songs and I can suddenly hear his labored breathing and the weight of his footstrikes.  My timing is good; I’m not breathing or pounding nearly as hard and at this point I’m certain I have him.  He’s getting stretched thin.

We hit the turn and I accelerate, this time with a more decisive kick, easily pulling away by 10 meters before he responds.  He’s still there, matching my pace.  I turn it up a little more and I can feel him fading.

I’m stuck now in a solitary world of burning, of wondering how long I can make this last before I blow up, betting everything that I can hold it just a little longer than he can.  I try to relax but I’m beginning to strain.  I can’t relax.  I don’t want to look back.  Just keep going.

We pass a light; his long shadow is completely absent beside me.

My turnoff is coming; I start drifting across the street to where I’ll leave the loop.

Upon reaching the intersection I turn sharply left, affording me the ability to glance back over my shoulder.

He’s 400 meters back, stopped and doubled over at the side of the road.

I slowly jog up the side street until I know I’m well out of site, and then come to a staggering, knee-clutching stop.  I fight hard, sucking desperately at the air to make my head stop spinning.  Smiling.  It was likely a 5K PR for me, all in the midst of what was to be an “easy” 9 mile run.

Perhaps it would’ve been nice to shake his hand in the end, to laugh it all off and break the tension, but this race was to live unspoken amongst strangers.

Cucamonga Peak, Bighorn Peak, Ontario Peak. 8/16/12

Went out for some peak bagging this morning, starting to prep for Zion.

Icehouse Canyon>>>Icehouse Saddle (7555′)>>>Cucamonga Peak (8859′)>>>Bighorn Peak (8441′) via XC east ridge>>>Ontario Peak (8693′)>>>Icehouse Saddle and return.

~16 miles, about 5000′ gain.

East ridge of Bighorn peak from approach to Cucamonga.  The sheep have done a fine job creating some trails here.

Bighorn Ridge and Ontario Peak (far left)

Cucamonga Peak

Bighorn just shy of Bighorn Peak.
“Bighorn don’t attack people…Do bighorn attack people?”
…Visions of getting ram-jammed and a crushed ribcage…
Had to circumnavigate the peak to get around them. They weren’t too worried about me, I got within 20 meters.

Sheep from above.

Bighorn Peak. Baldy Bowl in distance on left.

Bighorn Ridge, looking toward Ontario Peak.

Ontario Peak.

Running (or Life): 5/14-5/20

Monday: 5.3 easy trail

Tuesday: 4 easy trail

Wednesday: off

Thursday:  7 easy trail

Friday: 3.5 easy trail

Saturday: 4 backpacking

Sunday: 4 backpacking

Total: 27.8 miles

Good week.  Not running on the weekend seemed to help my knee considerably; not feeling any tightness.  Ran a 5K yesterday with no pain or issues, so the walking likely helped.  Healing is coming along.  A free pair of replacement New Balance MT110s came in the mail today, will break them in tonight.

I was eating vegan for a few days, fell off during backpacking this weekend, back on for two days now.  I’m feeling good, trying new recipes, and raiding the local library for cookbooks.  One of the greatest difficulties is simply changing the way I think about food and so many of the habits that surround it. Many of the go-to snacks and comfort meals I once grabbed for are gone.  Rethinking shopping, trying to get a new sense of what basic ingredients to stock…all an adjustment.  But I feel good, both mentally and physically.

While I’m certainly no Buddhist, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about compassion and appreciation for life in all forms as advocated in many Buddhist and Shinto traditions.  While it may sound somewhat ridiculous, I’ve always felt a tinge of the monastic when vegan, due to the necessity of being present and avoiding mindless self-indulgence.

Reading Gary Snyder’s Turtle Island this morning I was struck by a verse in the poem “Spel [sic] Against Demons”:

The stifling self-indulgence in anger in the name of


must cease…

But I have to wonder: is it self-indulgence in anger or is our plight angry self-indulgence?  Or do they feed each other?

Running days…Return of the training log.

The recent Grand Canyon R2R2R (which I somehow never put together a trip report for) left me with a bum knee due to ITB pain.  I’ve been slowly building back up since then, showing great signs of progress; there’s always that fear that an injury will become something persistent- I know many a runner that have been taken out by this sort of thing. In the 4 weeks since the R2R2R, I’ve successively run (weekly) 1 mile, 6 miles, 13.5 miles, and now just finished a 34.5 mile week.  Very satisfied with the progress, this week was quite a jump, but nothing that aggravated my knee.  And surprisingly, all the running felt really easy (granted, I was keeping everything easy due to the knee).

So now plans are in the works for a ~48 mile Trans Zion Traverse this coming fall.  As my knee is coming along nicely, I’m very confident about training for this one.  The recent R2R2R taught me quite a bit and I’m feeling ready to step up to a different level of training and eating.  I didn’t want to switch anything up going into the last run, but with that behind me, I’m ready to make some changes.  I’m planning on going vegan (started a few days ago) for a stretch, so we’ll see how that goes.  The next few weeks will just be some base building again, making sure my knee can handle it.

I want to return to a weekly training summary here.  I log/graph miles on RunningAhead, but I’d like a place to express training progress/ideas.

5/7 thru 5/13:

M: 5K easy road

T: 2.4 easy road, 1 easy w/Sage

W: 4 easy trail, 1 easy w/Sage

Th: off

F: 5 easy trail

S: 10 hike, 2900′

Su: 8 easy trail

Weekly total: 34.5 miles

2012 JMT Fastpack

I’ve had to cancel this trip a few years in a row now.  First time due to getting permits for too early and the Sierra getting too much snow.  Second time I cancelled due to a sprained wrist/elbow from skateboarding followed by a sinus infection.  Hopefully, the third time works out better.  I’ve yet to finalize dates or get permits, but here are initial plans.

JMT Fastpack, southbound, full trail (Happy Isles to Whitney Summit), ~211 miles.  The plan is to try and come in under 7 days, with one resupply (likely at Muir Trail Ranch).  So that means I need to average a little over 30 miles/day.  Coming off what I hope will be one of my best ultrarunning seasons, I should be going into the Sierra well-conditioned.  I’m running the Grand Canyon R2R2R in mid-April, followed by plans to run the Bishiop High Sierra 50 Mile in late May.  That leaves most of June and July to train for the JMT, which I’ll likely do in late July.

Here’s my preliminary gearlist.  I’ll borrow the GG Spinntwinn shelter from a buddy.  The only things not included are axe and crampons- carrying them depends on when I go and what snow levels are, though I doubt they’ll be needed. Too bad I have to carry a bear canister, otherwise I’d be in the 7lb. base weight range.

JMT UL Fastpack Gearlist

Gearlist comments appreciated, though I don’t have too much flexibility as I’m trying not to buy any new gear this year.

Back to Basics

After a summer of great traveling, abundant reading, and plenty of lazying around, my training was left somewhat lacking.  Amazing how that works- I have all the time in the world yet fail to use it effectively towards running… I’ll be kicking myself when I’m back at work in a few days.   So it goes.  Not that I’ve done nothing; I’ve been running and swimming  with a triathlon in mind, but nothing of great volume or intensity.  And once again, I have found considerable difficulty motivating myself to get on a bicycle.  To think I used to ride 200+ miles in a week.  I just don’t want to do it- I dread donning lycra and riding just for riding’s sake.  I’m not feeling the triathlon training life.  I feel like I’m doing everything just enough to be able to do it, but nothing enough to excel.

So I’m back to focusing on running.  My initial urge was to dive in and register for the North Face Endurance Challenge on December 3rd, a 50 Mile trail race.  However, the more I looked at a training plan, the more I realized the volume build would be too high, too fast for where I’m at right now.  Running some 50Ks in a few months would work, but 50 miles is a bit daunting with only 12 weeks to train and no substantial distance base at the moment.

So rather than going distance, I figure I’ll try to become a Born Again Runner in the coming weeks.  I  signed up for two 5K trail races tonight.  One is in Malibu on September 24th and one at Elysian Park in Los Angeles on October 22nd (which appears to be a semi-XC looking course).  The first will be my test, the second race will be a PR attempt.  I’ve done 30Ks, halves, marathons, 50Ks…but never the simple 5K.  To be honest, it scares me.  I’ve always just plugged away, jogging the miles.   Running in a state of non-stop lung-burning, head-spinning pain will certainly be new.  I’ll be changing my entire approach to running in the coming weeks, a phoenix rising from the ashes, rebuilding the way I run.  I’ll be focusing on quality over quantity, intervals and track running, and trying to get faster.  I have no idea what time to shoot for; I’ll determine that after my first few weeks of workouts as I really have no baseline for shorter distance PRs.  It should be an interesting shift: rather than running to finish, I’ll be running to finish fast.

The 5Ks are paid for, no turning back;  I’m excited to discover a new side of running.

My running is over…

…at least for a little while.

Who knows, time will tell.

What I though was some minor aggravation in my left knee at the end of my 50K doesn’t seem to want to leave me alone.  It’s now actually worse than what I experienced during the 50K.

At roughly mile 30, I started to feel a tendinitis-like burning on the inside edge of my kneecap.  It got worse over the next 4 miles, but I shoved it to the back of my mind, finished, and it promptly went away.

The day after, however, it was persistent all day, despite stretching and ice.   There was even a bit of a tearing sensation when I squatted- odd, because there was no feeling of trauma or tearing during the run.

By day 4, after days of regular icing, I was certain it had gone away, having absolutely no pain.   I tried to run an easy 5K with the dog…but didn’t make it 200 meters before I was limping again.

So I waited over a week.  Again, zero pain during any daily activity.  I was able to do a crossfit workout, including body weight squats.  So I tried another easy 5K.  This time I thought I was fine, the first mile rolling by comfortably.  But by 1.25 miles a slight burn started.  By 1.5 miles, I was limping again, with a painful 1.5 miles to get home.  That night, the pain strangely migrated from the side of my kneecap to just above it.

So it looks like I’m out for a while.  Whatever it is seems to only be bothered by running.  At times it feels like tendinitis, but others there is a tearing sensation.

It looks like I have to find something else to keep me busy for a few months.  Of course now that I can’t run, it’s all I want to do.

I’m thinking about going full-on crossfit and rock climbing for the summer, coupled with a strict paleo diet…I’ve got to get on some sort of regimen.  But I’ll be damned if trying to get motivated about pumping iron in the garage isn’t hard when compared to a setting sun and wind in the face on a nice stretch of singletrack.

Death or Glory.

My 50K is coming up in Bishop this Saturday morning at 6am.  From what I gather there’s snow and cold temps in the higher reaches with a chance of rain throughout the day.  Plagued by a few recent weeks of what I consider to be poor training, I can’t say I’m real confident about this one.  I’ve found every reason to talk myself out of it along the way- only to counter with an equally powerful argument of why I should just suck it up and go run.  This waffling has gone on for a few weeks now, to the point that I’m sick of being in my head about it.

I have to go.

DNF, DFL, a limping finish, or Supreme Glory of the Miraculous Sort…come what may, staying at home this weekend and backing out will be far more regrettable than any other alternative.

I may not be running at my best, but I will run.  One thing is for certain: there is no glory on the couch.  So I will run.


As of late I find myself faced with questions, doubts, and new ideas concerning sport, a space I have come to realize is part and parcel for most athletes.  Goals are born, worked towards, shifted, achieved, abandoned for new ones.  I find myself questioning much of what I’m doing as a runner, what my goals are, what my focus should be.  Certain short-term things are known, but the bigger picture has become cloudy.

As of right now, I know two things:  I am running a 50K on May 21st and I have to do certain types of runs between now and then in order to be ready.  Second, I know I simply love to run, preferably in the mountains.

I believe the rest is flexible.

My general goals have always revolved around distance.  I am fascinated by the concept of going far under one’s own power and was drawn to serious running by the classic nature of the marathon.  Perhaps I am also attracted to distance because I seem to be better at it.  I’ve never been fast, but I seem to possess the ability to go pretty far, finding enjoyment in the mental and physical aspects of doing so.

In recent weeks, however, I’ve made a discovery in my running- that going as fast and hard as I can is fun.  My once-weekly track workouts have opened a new door and shed fresh light on aspects of running that I’ve generally always avoided, intentionally or not: namely speed and intensity.  In distance running, at least the type I practice, one has to be mindful of always maintaining a reserve, primarily so as to not get stuck in the mountains somewhere, facing an epic limp home.  But the track has taught me the joy of pushing hard until there’s nothing left.  Be it a 200 meter or a single mile, I find it refreshing to cross the finish line and punch the clock, head spinning after making the last turn and wondering if I’m going to collapse before I make the line.

This leads me to wonder about a new approach, combined with new running goals.  Perhaps after this 50K I’ll change my focus, building myself back up as a different sort of runner.  Despite my achievements- many marathon and ultramarathon distance runs, be they solo or official, I’ve always felt a little bit like a hack because, well…I’m pretty slow.  So I’m thinking about starting over, focusing on shorter, faster distances, and building back up to the marathon.  Only this time, really pushing for a fast time (relatively speaking), perhaps ultimately trying to qualify for Boston; currently a sub 3:15 for my 35-39 age group (I just turned 35).

Have I dodged running fast because I know it’s hard, because it scares me?  In many ways, I believe so.  It’s something I would like to overcome.

Am I allowing myself too much drift, to much slack in walking away from previous ideas and plans in pursuit of new ones?

Who knows.  There is certainly something to be said for finding something very difficult to achieve and sticking with the plan to get there.  In some senses, I feel like I’ve failed here, namely in my recent triathlon pursuits.   But on the other hand, are we not to allow ourselves experimentation?  Is it truly something to hang one’s head about if three months into training you find you’re just not that motivated about that particular sport or distance?  Good always comes from any endeavor, whether it’s seen through or not.  Though I never did do a triathlon, I overcame my fear of swimming, to the point I can get in the water and swim a mile without fear.  That is certainly worth something even though I never crossed a finish line.

Running will always remain a constant in some way, I have no doubts about that.  It is the sole physical activity that I’ve been able to regularly do without losing interest at some point.  So the question is simply what kind of running I want to do.  Perhaps I’d like to enter the mainstream for a while; race some 5Ks, work on my speed and form, and try to start establishing some PRs in the classic distances, working my way up.

On a side note, I believe I’m going to stop my running summaries here.  It’s redundant and too focused on numbers.  I’ll try to insert the link to my RunningAhead training log instead.

Running Summary, 4/11-4/17

Monday: off

Tuesday:  4 miles, track.  1 mile warmup, 8 x 200, 4 x 400, 1 mile cool down

Wednesday: off

Thursday: off

Friday:  Ross Training- Ross Interval Challenge: 23 minutes.  1 mile warmup.  12 burpees, 24 pushups, 36 body weight squats, 400 meter sprint.  Repeat sequence four times as fast as possible.

Saturday:  5 miles, easy trail running.  To Devils Gate dam and back with Mushka.  Mushka met her first rattlesnake and didn’t do anything stupid!

Sunday:  Climbing; bouldering session at Stoney Point

Total:  11  miles

Mushka Miles: 5 miles

This week kicked my butt.  Not the workouts, but going back to work after two weeks off.  I was exhausted, having trouble mustering the energy to run much.  That’s OK, I’ll pick up the miles again this week.  Time is running out to get in my long runs before the 50K on May 21st…gotta get in a 15+, 20+, and 25 mile prior to tapering for the race, which really only leaves the next couple weekends.  I guess I know what I’m doing at 5 am for the next few Saturdays…

On cross training:  Ross completely kicked my butt with the interval challenge.  During the workout I felt good (despite it being pretty intense…I had a sky-high heart rate from the first moment).  The next day I felt like I was hit by a truck- I haven’t been that sore in a long time.  I didn’t realize how serious of an ab workout burpees are, especially when followed by pushups (which are essentially a plank), followed by squats (which are more core than one realizes).  I’ve been through the P90x ab workout countless times and have never felt as sore afterward; Ross is definitely on to something with the short, ultra-high intensity training.  I look forward to mixing in 3-4 more of his workouts per week. 

Ross Training

Ross is the man, I love his style of workout.

On the note of high-intensity, I’m beginning to feel the payoffs from my track running as well.  Coming from a mileage-oriented focus, I’ve never really worked on speed or intervals, but I’m finding they easily translate into longer running.  I don’t have to slowly pound the trails for hours on every run; short, high-intensity runs/intervals seem to do the trick in half the time.  I was worried I wouldn’t be logging enough mileage to feel OK on long runs, but I think the reverse is true- I’m actually feeling really strong when running long these days.  I think one long run/week is plenty when mixed with short, hard days (including cross training).

Finally, I climbed outside for the first time in many months on Sunday, a two hour evening session bouldering at Stoney Point.  Given all my time off and a complete lack of climbing-specific training over the last year, I was blown away to able to cruise some favorites there…including Leaping Lizard (V5).   I never expected to pull that off after so much time off!   A really fun evening, I forgot how much I miss climbing.  I’d love to get on a rope next weekend if there’s time.

Running Summary: 4/4-4/10

Monday:  Hike, 7 Miles…Finishing Joshua Tree crossing

Tuesday: Run, road: 3.1 miles, easy

Wednesday:  Run, trail: 4 miles to waterfall, with Mushka

Thursday:  off

Friday:  Run, mixed:  9 Miles, Rose Bowl loop from home

Saturday:  Run, trail: 5.7 Miles, Echo Mtn.

Sunday:  Run, mixed: 5 Miles, Devils Gate Damn from home- with Mushka

Total Run: 26.8 Miles

Total Hiked:  7 Miles

Weekly Total:  33.8 Miles

Mushka Miles:  9 Miles

The dog is running better and better!  More confident, fewer distractions, she follows two feet behind me.  She’s running FAR better in the city as well; not getting spooked by cars and doing well on the leash.  It looks like she’s really coming into her own as a runner.

I never got in a very long run this week; it was my birthday on Friday and family plans throughout the weekend messed my schedule up.  Overall, still a productive week I’m happy with.  The New Balance Minimus, both road and trail, are proving to be excellent shoes.  All my mileage has been in them with the exception of my hike.

Looking forward to a new week.  I have to do something over 18 miles this coming weekend.

I’m questioning whether or not I should sign up for the North Face 50 Mile in Sausalito next December.  I hear it sells out quickly…

Running Summary: 3/28-4/3

Monday: 5 miles, easy trail

Tuesday: 4 miles, easy trail (with Mushka)

Wednesday: 11 miles trail, mixed terrain…lot’s of downed trees, stream crossings, scrambling.  2:11:45

Thursday: off…not feeling good

Friday: off…sick

Saturday: off…feeling better

Sunday: Beginning of Joshua Tree Solo on CRHT: biked 37.22 miles followed by ~31 miles of hiking.

Total: 51 Miles. Due to overall difficulty, I’m counting the hiking miles.  Good training for ultra anyhow; many hours on the feet.

Mushka Miles: 4 MilesI gave super-pup a rest this week.

Running thoughts for the upcoming week:

1.  Recover from the weekend

2.  Look into a shoe with more structure for everything over ~20 miles; something with more cushion but little heel-toe drop.  NB MT101s are 10mm.  The Brooks Cascadia 6 is 11mm, pretty close.

3.  My feet did really well in J Tree this weekend, no blisters or issues.

4.  Get in a 20 mile run next weekend.

5.  Begin weight training/crossfit again.

Super Spartan Race, Temecula, 2/26/11

Here are a few bad screen shots of me from the race in Temecula, CA.  I did it with the same the same two students from the previous Spartan Race, Juan and Colin.  Good to know I can still hang with the 18 year olds…Juan finished about 3 minutes ahead of Colin and I, Colin crossing the line about 15 seconds before me.  We had a little of everything thrown at us by nature that day; rain, ice, wind, sun…

A great day getting dirty and banged up on the 8-9 mile trail running obstacle course.

Wading with full water buckets...We then had to carry them through truck tires.

Fire jump at the beginning of the race. Too easy, but too fun.

Traversing the wall. Tricky due to being covered in water and mud. I cruised it.

That’s Hard.

I had to smile when I saw this.  He’s just so happy about it!

A Change in Focus

I’ll be shifting away from tri training and working on my distance running in the coming months.

Swimming wasn’t working out so well.  While surfing about a week ago something in my left shoulder started really bugging when paddling and though it’s getting better,  it’s bothered me ever since.  So swimming is out for a while.

I’ve signed up for the High Desert Bishop 50K on May 21st so my training will be focused primarily on distance running for the time being.  I’m also very tempted to sign up for the North Face 50 Mile in Sausalito, CA this coming December.  Put it on the calendar, pay my money, and just go run it.  It’ll serve as good motivation.

Getting my legs back into longer weeks and consecutive running days, aiming for 35 miles this week and building.   I got lazy in my logging over the last few weeks; I’ll try to be more regular.  I still have everything down in my paper book.  It’s starting to get hot out there; I worked the dog pretty good on a 4 mile today.

On the note of running, I really love this blog, especially the last post and the Edward Abbey quote.  Jeff is a great writer, check it out:

The Logic of Long Distance

Bishop High Sierra 50K

Just registered for the 50k on May 21st.

Here I go!


Tri Training, Week 3 Summary

Overall, an OK week.  Still not pouring on big miles, just getting into a regular routine of running/biking/swimming and doing my best to create a logical schedule. Completed at least 2 workouts for each sport, finding that 3X workouts are harder to manage than I first thought.  That’s the primary goal for week 4: complete a 3X schedule and get a big swim in, at least 2 miles cumulative.

Monday: rest

Tuesday:  (AM) Run; 3 miles, track. (PM) Swim; 500 kick, 500 pull, 500 freestyle, 100 freestyle cool down.  1600 meters total.

Wednesday: Bike; 16 miles, 58:00.  With about 4 miles of good climbing.

Thursday:  Run; 1.5 miles.  Tried to take the dog out for a 3 mile , but she was being a punk.  (I realized she’s scared running at night and does way better during daylight).

Friday:  Swim; 1000 meters easy freestyle, broken into 100s and 200s. (lost count).

Saturday:  (AM) Run; 3 miles.  (PM) Run; 10 miles…7 of it on trail, 3 on road.  I hate road.  I’m finding I actually feel really good on the 2nd PM workouts I do.

Sunday:  Bike; 16 miles, same route as Wed.


Run:  17.5 miles

Bike:  32 miles

Swim:  2600 meters


I’m thinking that sometime in the next 2 weeks I’ll do  a solo, pool-based Olympic distance triathlon (.93 swim, 24.8 bike, 6.2 run)  out of the Rose Bowl.

Outlaw Ironman?

I’m completely enamored with the thought of a full Ironman distance triathlon (2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, 26.2 run).  As opposed to simply ultrarunning, I’m impressed by the fact that it requires competence in a variety of disciplines, especially as learning to swim better and further is currently fascinating to me.  I can ride 100+ miles and I can run a marathon…but linking them is a wild idea.  I like the concept of essentially being an all-terrain, multi-sport athlete.  However, I’m not real savvy on the race fees and what I see of the general commercial culture surrounding triathlon, especially the bigger ones.  No disrespect to the athletes whatsoever, I’m simply not sure it’s my style.

So should the goal be to do an Outlaw Ironman:  solo, unsupported (at least not in an official sense), and unsponsored?

So how do I go about linking up a swim, bike, and run of this size?

I don’t see the bike and run as being an issue; finding a 112 mile route followed by a marathon isn’t hard.  I know I can carry all the food and water I need for the cycling without support.  I could likely do the same for the marathon portion, using my car as the transition/resupply point and running with a race vest and perhaps one water drop.

The swim is the most daunting task to do solo, and to do solo safely. As my swimming stands now, 2.4 miles of open water isn’t something I’m confident enough to do yet, let alone solo.  I’m certainly not swimming 2.4 miles in a swimming pool; I believe it has to be open water for the purity of it.  The most likely way to do this would be with someone that could provide a kayak escort.

The advantage of the solo Ironman (which will certainly have to be renamed if I do it…hell, they’ll probably sue me for trademark infringement if I don’t) is that I can do it anywhere, in any terrain that suits my interest, in any style I please.

While I’ve still never done an official triathlon of any length, through my training and research I’m very put off by the membership fees, race fees, bizarre regulations (no sleeveless jerseys in some areas???), and general locations of many of the events.  By going solo, I could do the marathon 100% on trail if I choose, the ride on/off road or in an area I personally enjoy.  It’s simply a matter of doing it somewhere that the swimming component will be close enough to not lose time transitioning to the ride.

Which has me wondering if starting at the Salton Sea could be an option.  Start the swim there with a kayak escort (if they even permit swimming), cycle to Joshua Tree and vicinity, and finish with a  run across the CRHT or similar.

Could this crazy scheme work?  Of course it can.

It all hinges on training, timing, friends that are willing to crew, and finally…simply being able to swim 2.4 miles, ride 112, and then run a marathon.

This is bananas!

Tri Training, Week 2

Not much training this week as I rested for the Super Spartan Race in Temecula, CA on Saturday, 2/26.

Monday:  Cycling, 13 miles.  Wrecked derailleur/hanger.

Tuesday:  1800 meters freestyle…4×50, 4×100, 1×200, 1×800, 2×100

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: Rest

Friday:  800 meters freestyle…4×100, 2×200

Saturday:  Super Spartan Race, Temecula, CA.  8 miles trail with obstacles, 1:33:28.  Finished overall #311/935.   Race report to follow soon.

Sunday: Cycling, 13 miles


Running: 8 miles

Cycling: 26 miles

Swimming: 2600 meters

Now that the race is done, I’m looking forward to a good week of multisport, looking to get in 7-9 workouts.

Tri Training, Week 1 Summary

I’m omitting times as I’m logging full stats at

Monday: Run, 3 miles track

Tuesday: Swim, 8×50, 1×400, 2×200 freestyle  Total 1200 meters

Wednesday: Run, 3.2 miles trail

Thursday: Run, 5.7 miles trail

Friday:  Swim, 1000 meters freestyle (mixed)

Saturday:  Swim, 4×50, 3×100, 2×200, 1×400, 3×100 freestyle.  1600 meters total

Sunday: Run, 12 miles trail

Total Run:  23.9 miles

Total Swim: 3800 meters

Total Bike: 0 ( I decided to omit cycling this week for two reasons: 1. Rain, as I do a large chunk of my riding to work and was too busy this week.  2.  I’m running the Super Spartan race next Saturday and wanted to focus a little more on getting at least 1 good run in.  I hope to pick up on cycling this week as part of a run taper for the race.

Overall, happy with the week, taking the swimming slow.

3X (3 runs, 3 swims, 3 bikes) workouts are no joke.  I did 7 workouts this week, 2 short of a 3X.  Successful tri training will certainly require some serious time management skills.  Considering an Ironman will  need 9-12 workouts/week, all of longer duration, it sure looks daunting just from a scheduling perspective.

A Perfect Sunday Run

It rained for the latter half of the week…I wake up Sunday morning to spot this above my house; there is only one thing you can do in a situation like this…

Looking up Fair Oaks

Running out my front door and into the snow is a rare treat in Altadena, days like this being few and far between.  These trails have been my backyard for well over two decades and yet I can probably count how many times I’ve run them in the snow, especially the lower peaks like Echo Mountain.

Amazing scenery given I ran the same trail last Thursday and it was completely dry.

The crowds were out in full force today, a steady stream of North Face jackets, large loads, Trango boots, and the occasional pack with ice axe and crampons affixed.  Apparently climbing a trail to the summit of a 3000-5000 foot peak in the snow is quite an auspicious task.

Las Flores Canyon

I ran the Sam Merrill to Echo Mountain, went out to the ruins and snapped a few pictures, then continued up Castle Canyon to Inspiration Lookout.  I was pondering going all the way up to Mt. Lowe but the ultra sloppy conditions of Castle Canyon had me thinking otherwise.  It was a frozen rainforest, the snow in the trees melting at an alarming rate and raining down continuously.  There were also tons of blown down trees and bushes, requiring scrambles on all fours to get under or over them, coming 0ut the other side completely soaked from snow.  Given I had a single water bottle, no spare clothes, and I was soaked head to toe with ice water, I figured I’d use a bit of better judgment and call it quits at the lookout.

Echo Mountain

Castle Canyon rainforest

Higher in Castle Canyon

The cluster of white buildings is JPL

Inspiration Lookout

Mount Wilson

Inspiration Peak

Apparently I made quite a sight running shirtless and in little shorts up there, given the overabundance of preparation most hikers had gone through.  I was actually warmer without the wet shirt on, completely enjoying the sun and the cold air.  Surprisingly, people seemed to have no problem stepping aside for me.

The hairless white primate of the San Gabriel Mountains. Notice the colorful markings used to attract the opposite sex. Or was it to ward them off? A strange creature indeed.

I decided to take the Sam Merrill back down, wanting to avoid all the blow downs and see the back side of the mountains.  This is where I was truly surprised, running through a nice base of packed powder for the next mile until I came back out on the front.  The north slopes were absolutely amazing, very rare snowpack for our location and elevation.

Descending Upper Sam Merrill.

On the way back to Echo the clouds had rolled in, spurring me to pick up the pace before getting caught shirtless in a storm.  More sloppy, sloppy, sloppy ice and mud, now working its way into my shoes.  In no time I was back down to Echo, dodging the crowds and making a quick descent to the bottom.

Burn in the snow.

Sloppy sloppy. And cold.

Cyclopean Monolith of The Elder Gods. An octopus-headed figure carved of an uncertain greenish stone stood in the nook.

I knew the water and grit was rubbing pretty good in my left shoe, then I went ahead and tripped and kicked a gash in my Achilles to boot…got home to discover some pretty good carnage.  This is the second time…Will I ever learn that runs of this type require socks?  Go ahead, call me stupid or stubborn.  Blood only makes me run harder.

Delightful Carnage.

A perfect Sunday.  I believe the grand total was roughly 12 miles and +/- 7000-8000 feet cumulative.

If you live in the area, get up there while you still have time.

First Swim…

…in about two months and it felt absolutely great.  Had a lane to myself, great weather…staring at the clouds on my cool down doing backstroke.

My main focus was just getting back into the routine, going as slow and as smooth as possible, focusing on good two beat kick timing.  Something must be clicking well right now as I was swimming faster with fewer strokes than I last remember.  I kept it slow and easy, doing the following (freestyle):

8 x 50 meters

1 x 400 meters

2 x 200 meters

Total: 1200 meters

Total Time: 30:34 including rests (roughly 30 seconds between sets).

Hope to look like this soon:

Is he even working?

Here’s Michael Phelps swimming easy two beat:

So smooth and easy, I’m sure they could just go…and go…and go…and go….and go….