23 February 2008

Henry Hagg

I raced 50k today, via 2 laps around the muddy hagg lake. It wasn't the birkie but hey, It also wasn't 10 degrees! It was however on the same day. It was frosty at the start, but it really turned in to a perfect sunny day. I was warned, not to slip in the hagg mudd, which was slick at times, and I was also warned that I would really start to feel it at about 3 hours into it. And it did. Although I didn't collapse or break down and crawl, I was sluggish for the last hour. I really kept event on the down low. No worries, just finish. Training run. Well, pinning on the number and the gun went off... I was racing I guess.

The Start: 50k is called an ultra-marathon, and they start out really slow. Really slow. I've done long running races (road marathons) and I guess they start out slow too, but when you have to go 50k through trails and an unknown quantity of mudd, I guess it's OK, and probably smart to start slow. There was a pretty elite group there today, and I took it out with the defending champ and we ran in 6th and 7th until about 8k. Then he literally put the hammer down and was out of sight before I could look up. He went on to set the course record. He's doing western this year (the biggest 100 miler in america). So I knew I wasn't going to keep up with him and I knew I was probably running too fast at this point in the race, but I wasn't really sure what was going to happen, this was my first ultra trail run. Basically I just cruised along until my friend Sean caught me and we ran together and chatted for a while. Sean lives in Sisters and we ran together and raced against each other in shorter races and it was really good to be running with him here, in his element. (He's run alot, ok more than alot, of ultras, and has been in magazine ads for montrail shoes). We were chatting and then all of a sudden we got to the 2nd aid station. I'd seen aid stations at ultras before, and they have huge spreads of food and water and energy drink. I didn't really know if sean would stop for long, I kind of imagine stopping for a while having a snack and tell some jokes, and then get going again, but after sean got his bottle filled, he was gone, and I never caught him again. Went on to finish the first lap (plus the 5k out and back section) in 2:14.

The second lap: So I don't know if I've been watching the show lost too much or what, but I kept hearing footsteps behind me, the whole 2nd lap. There were 3 guys that passed me on the second lap, but it was strange, I basically though some one was right behind me the whole time. The second lap was pretty hard my legs were sore. I probably didn't have the milage required to actually race 50k (longest training run: 3 hours) 2:56 actually. But that's ultra running. Survival is the goal and making it to the finish line is what everyone wants (because they have hot dogs!) I walk the bigger uphills, and there were not really big hills on this course. I've always had alot of respect for guys like Jeff B, and Sean, who've run the big boy races at Big Horn, and that was before I'd done any ultras. And Big Horn - I'm telling you what, that is one helluva tough course. I ran the lowly 30k which was almost all down hill and suffered like a dog. But those guys did the 100 miler and 50 miler (and each won). And here I was at Hagg (where there are multiple pavement sections) (albeit short), but it was tough. These ultra runners are TOUGH.

The Mudd: It was muddy, but by hagg lake standards it was like running on tarmac. After the race this was talked about as the least muddy hagg ever. It hadn't rained in a couple weeks in town, and it was fairly cold (frost this morning), so it was prime conditions for a course record, which did happen. I ran about 40 minutes off the pace, but for my first ultra I'm totally stoked and it was super fun, even though I'm really sore now. I think I made the top ten, and my time was a respectable 4:24 (about). Not bad for the first 50k. I was thinking I might suffer so much during this that it might be my last 50k, but after finishing it... maybe I'll be back. I'll post pics if I can find some. Alot of folks were taking photos out there.

So back to the daily grind now. Tomorrow is sunday, day of rest, but I have alot of stuff to get done for school, but that doesn't require much movement.

UPDATE: Evelyn Dong (Lives in Bend, ski's for XC Oregon / Subaru factory team) won the American Birkebeiner today. Congratulations Evelyn. YOU ROCK!

14 February 2008


More and more, it's feeling like spring here. It's not so cold (like it is back in minny). 50s are forcast for this week! Get out the road bike!

I managed to get mt hood ski race revenge last weekend, beating one of the punks who sprinted by me when I face planted last time. I ended up 2nd, but that was good, because I didn't face plant, and I had managed a 3 hr run the day before. Midterm season ended last night, with the physics final. The other midterms were above average, and the other one was average. I think I understand the material better than my C grade in circuits reflected. And maybe it's because the teacher is allowing us a 3X5 notecard on the exam for anything we can write, but chemistry is going pretty well this term.

Laurie's going to Seattle on the train this weekend. I'm going to brush up on Chemistry, Circuits and other bogus bull crap, i'm supposed to be learning about renewable energy dammit! The only thing of noteable note that's pretty cool and interesting that our class has learned or whatever is, about a week ago, we had a guy show us (the guy came to OIT) his car that he converted into a hybrid. How? well, 1st, he put a big Pb acid battery in the back seat, that would power everything electrical in the car (everything like radio, heater, a/c, lights, you name it.) And then, he wired this big battery up to the alternator, and made it so the alternator would only run (ie charge the battery), when the sensor (installed by the wheel well) sensed that the car was going downhill, or deccelerating. That left the horsepower of the gas engine, to concentrate on power the wheels of the car, not having to worry about the alternator. He said he's got 47 mpgs, and this was like a circa 1998 chevy or chrysler sedan or something like that. His car did not self support itself (it needed to be trickle charged at night every 3-5 days) but he was going to put a small pv panel on the roof so it wouldn't need to be charged at all. If wise asses in portland can build shit like this on their own, why cant idiots in detriot? Let's just blame it on George Bush.

OK, now I'm supposed to be working, not blogging. later.

09 February 2008

Some thoughts on transit.

I'm all about mass transportation. It's awesome. And you could say Portland has a pretty darn good system, with busses, and streetcars, and light rail. It even has an aerial tram for goodness sakes. If you take the tram out of the equation, I've ridden on portland's mass transit exactly zero times since we moved here. And for the first 6+ months that we lived here we only had one rally car, so you'd think (with all my trips to and from work and school) that at least once I'd have taken the bus. Nope. I rode my bike. So this isn't true for everyone (fitness wise), but I think I can get anywhere in this city, except for perhaps beaverton (there's a big hill) if I'm on my bike vs riding the bus or trains. It's slow!!! and the streetcar is even slower. I think the average speed is like 10mph. It's almost a joke. And the mass transit in this city has cost portland millions and millions. Wait no, billions. You'd think, since America is supposedly the smartest, richest, educated and most technically advanced civilization in the world that we'd think of the best way to get people from point a to point b, in an efficient, fast and low cost method. NOPE. but they are in Bogota, Columbia. Bogo-freaking-ta. You know in south america. Check it, it's 7 minutes.

While I'm at it... here's another you tube. Gotta love LOST.

07 February 2008

No news...

No news is good news I suppose. The rains continue. And alot. I was talking to one of my new friends at school yesterday (he's another pdx newcomer), and I told him... Geez, you know I think this winter is unusually cloudy and rainy in Portland, worse than average I said. And then our friend jeff turned around and said, 'I think this this winter is way sunnier than average', and he's lived here for seven years. So there you have it. Even during the worst of times, others are experiencing the best. A nice way to look at life I suppose. I mean it's not that bad. It could be a hell of a lot worse. I mean Fargo was worse... But wait... There was Nordic skiing in Fargo. No wait... Fargo had a 30F below wind chill, it was worse.

In any case, I'm keeping in shape, and it's quite possibly, better shape. I have not been doing many fitness tests (racing), but soon... holy crap three weeks and 2 days until I attempt the Hagg. That will be a challenge for sure, but not really a gauge of fitness because I've never done it before. It sure is a nice diversion from all the crappy weather.

If I can find a ride to the hood this Saturday I may just get revenge at the 3rd race in the series at mt hood meadows. Hopefully revenge for the spectacular crash I took in the last 50 meters of a nordic ski race. Not before a chemistry mid term tomorrow.