first week of training…

Just completed one week of running, after nearly 3 years of NOT running. And, as much as I hate to admit it, it feels pretty good.  Here’s some of what I have learned so far:

I am slow but steady – and I am not afraid to run 13.1 miles

I can run faster when it starts hailing

I feel better finishing a run that I do during the first mile

I’m gonna need new running shoes


first 3 miles…

of 16 week prep for my first half marathon ( Haulin Aspen )…felt surprisingly good.

You’re Doing It Wrong – or – How to Tie Your Shoes

Apparently I don’t know how to tie my shoes. Despite all the claims of advancements in the world of ’stay tied lace technologies’ I’m good for a re-tie about once every other run. Sure I could double-knot but don’t like to for whatever reason; be it the bulbous protrusion, the feel, who knows. For now I’ll just call it general foot claustrophobia.

As a result, too many times I’ve had to stop mid-run to fix this problem. Additionally I forget, am too tired or too lazy to bend at the knees (instead of the waist) in order to avoid the subsequent head rush. Then, at the mercy of gravity and general physiology, I’m forced to wait for the fog to clear, heart rate slowing, overall rhythm disappearing and worst of  all, opens up the potential to be passed. And if this happens while working up a  hill? May as well just turn around and call it a day.

WELL WORRY NO MORE! It turns out this can all be fixed. Quite easily actually. (No Dean, not by double-knotting.) Turns out the vast majority of us are tying our shoes incorrectly. It takes TED (naturally) and Terry Moore (who sounds pretty damn important) to know otherwise -

“Terry Moore directs the Radius Foundation in New York, which, as its website says, “seeks new ways of exploring and understanding dissimilar conceptual systems or paradigms — scientific, religious, philosophical, and aesthetic — with the aim to find a world view of more complete insight and innovation.”

James Lipton is right. Solving big problems with little changes is definitely the wise and efficient way. It’s worth the effort to unlearn ~37 years of routine and technique in order to relearn a better way of something as simple as tying my shoes in order to focus on more important things, surviving the hill, the run, and foot claustrophobia.

Wednesday Workout – Century Reps

Squat Presses: 1 X 100 – 135 lbs Workout Ouch

Step ups (medium box): 1 X 100 – 30lb dumbbells

Walking Lunges: 1 X 100 – 35lb dumbbells

Seated Bike: 1 min at 110 RPMs

Single Leg Squats: 1 X 100 – body weight

Seated Calf Raises: 1 X 100 – 90 lbs

Calf Raises (leg press machine): 1 X 100 – 90 lbs

Squat Jumping: 1 X 100 - body weight

Treadmill: 1 min run at 5:24 mile pace – speed setting 11.0 (maxed out)

Treadmill: 1 min walk at 8 min mile pace – elevation 5.5 (maxed out)



The Best Trail Run in Boise – Cottonwood Trailhead aka (Three Bike Pass)

The Best Trail Run in Boise - Cottonwood Trailhead to Tell

The Best Trail Run in Boise – Ridge Crest Trail Cottonwood Trailhead, East Foothills

If you happen to find yourself in Boise, Idaho and have a spare 49 minutes there is no better 2.5 mile run than the Ridge Crest Trail loop starting at the Cottonwood Trailhead. Located in the East Foothills this run offers a diverse setting with over 300 ft elevation change, some intense switch backing, excellent wildlife, nice downhills and incredible views. It’s a popular hiking trail network with a lot of activity, runners,  the occasional mountain biker (more on that later) and lots of options. Located just over a mile from downtown behind the Fort Boise Sports Fields it’s an easy drive/ride/run to access the many different opportunities INCLUDING an RC car race track which is a great watch if you have the time.

Map to the Cottonwood Trailhead - Trail to Tell

Map to the Cottonwood Trailhead just past Fort Boise

Usually plenty of space in the parking lot, the trailhead map shows many routes but to get the full effect of a nice warm-up, hill work, view and easy cool down the straight ahead route up Toll Road is the best option.

Cottonwood Trailhead Map - Trail to Tell

Cottonwood Trailhead Map

Toll Road Trail - Cottonwood Trailead - Trail to Tell

Toll Road Trail Straight Ahead – Cottonwood Trailhead

A well maintained trail, not hard packed dirt, Toll Road Trail is even sandy at parts which is easier on the knees, especially if you’re going for speed.

Toll Road - Trail to Tell

Toll Road Trail

One of the more interesting and exciting parts of the run as you work your way up the canyon the first quarter mile is the swallow nesting area in the sandstone walls. It’s incredibly active in the mornings and evenings with hundreds of birds flying in and out of their holeshomes with amazing speed and precision. There are even a couple barn owls I’m told. It’s impossible to not stop and watch.

Sparrow Holes Cottonwood Trail - Trail to Tell

Sparrow Holes Cottonwood Trail – Trail to Tell

With the sight-seeing done comes the real reason and best part of the run, the hills. The course veers north (left) and onto Ridge Crest Trail – in other words – up.

Ridge Crest Trail Switchbacks - Trail to Tell

Ridge Crest Trail Switchbacks

Some great switch backs and good couple hundred foot climb, it usually has some hikers and mountain bikers working their way up. In fact, if there were a place on this loop to add hits to the highlight reel this is it. On multiple occasions I’ve managed to pass hikers, runners and even mountain bikers –  in fact three in one ascent,  with a smile and thereby officially renaming the loop; ‘Three Bike Pass.’ These hills aren’t the kind that make a person cry, maybe whimper a bit like this guy, and yet are steady quad burners culminating in a false summit and moderately steep final push – which is what we all want out of our hill runs, right?


Ridge Crest Trail Switchbacks Top - Trail to Tell

Ridge Crest Trail Switchbacks Top

At this point, and depending on your pace, you’ve earned the right to stop and take in the Boise Valley and you’ll probably need it. Besides rarely can a person be so close to downtown and still have some solitude. The city, the trees, Bogus Basin (Boise’s ski hill) the high desert, all there in full view. On a good day the Owyhee Mountain Range are visible on the far side of the valley. It’s beautiful and unique depending on the season making it a great year around experience.

 Feeling froggy?

The only complaint would be its short length which can easily be remedied at the top by simply heading northeast, right, or again, up – Central Ridge Trail:

Feeling Froggy - Central Ridge - Trail to Tell

Feeling Froggy – Central Ridge

Central Ridge Trail Continuation - Trail to Tell
Central Ridge Trail Continuation

For those that want to bring it on home will enjoy the final downhill to Boise with the cityscape laid out in the foreground.Central Ridge leads deep into the Boise Foothills and will satisfy the hounds needing more mileage.

Central Ridge Trail Down to Boise - Trail to Tell

Central Ridge Trail Down to Boise – Trail to Tell

A warning: during the summer months hit this before 10am or after 8pm as there is maximum exposure, no water and in the canyons is straight up H O T. It’s like Africa hot. Tarzan couldn’t take this kinda hot. That said there may be no better run in Boise than this trail after a summer or fall rain.

The Central Tail run has nearly everything from elevation shifts, to diverse scenery, wildlife, even the Fort Boise Military Cemetery for history buffs. It’s a wonderful hike for the kids too (the 5 year olds will want piggyback rides) with quality rock collecting,  lizards and beetles sightings.


Boise Foothill Levy - Tail to Tell

Boise Foothill Levy – Tail to Tell




Just a Minute

I ran my first marathon to give me something to do. I needed something in my life that I could control, and running gave me that. The idea of running for 26.2 miles seemed a bit crazy, but by slowly building my miles each week, I was able to achieve my goal. Crossing the finish line was a major accomplishment. Who cares if I had run slower than Oprah…

Actually, I did care. I signed up for my second marathon, nearly three years later, with a goal beyond “just finishing.” I had a time goal. I wanted to break 4 hours. So I trained more. I ran longer and faster. I took out the walk breaks and put in some tempo runs. Confident that I would be able to maintain the required 9:00 pace, I headed to Portland. I toed the line with a cocky swagger. Look out Oprah, here I come.

The race started pretty much as expected. I went out too fast, but reigned myself in. I settled in just behind the 3:45 pace group. I figured if I kept them in sight, I’d be just fine. At the first aid station, I tried the energy gel supplied by the race, and found it didn’t set well with my stomach.  No worries, I thought, I’ll just drink the sports drink instead of water, and I’ll be fine. I practically had 4 hours in the bag.

Anyone that has run Portland knows that the real halfway point is the St. John’s Bridge. Coming between mile 17 and 18, it marks not only the highest point, but is also where you head back towards the finish line in downtown. If you can make it across the bridge, then it is all downhill from there, both figuratively and literally. That’s where I started to fall apart.

I lost sight of the 3:45 pace group. They went across the bridge without me. As I wound through the neighborhoods on Portland’s east bluff, I glanced behind me and saw a horrible sight. The 4:00 pace group was gaining on me. I started feeling weak, but told myself to keep pushing the pace. If I could just stay ahead of the pace group, I’d be fine.

They caught me around mile 22. The psychological impact was devastating. I gave it my all to just hang on, but the fuel tank was empty. I watched my goal pass me by and was crushed. The next few miles were awful. Completely drained, I somehow managed to combine walking with a slow shuffle as I crept toward the finish.

My family was near the finish line to cheer me on. I barely acknowledged them. In fact my wife didn’t even recognize me at first. Their support was just enough to keep me going, but there was nothing that could increase my pace. Like a zombie I lumbered onward.

Approaching the finish line, I was vaguely aware of the numbers on the giant clock.  “Clock….Time…Wasn’t there something important about that?” my dazed mind wondered? My goal! Instantly my eyes focused on the clock. The time read 4 hours and 1 minute. I missed my goal by 1 agonizing minute!

In the days and weeks that passed, I tried to console myself. Completing a marathon itself is an amazing accomplishment. I would of finished faster if I hadn’t started so fast. I could of made it if I had brought my own gels. I had even beat Oprah. But I knew the truth.  Only one thing was going to satisfy me. I was going to have to run another marathon.

Altering My Stride

     I sprained my ankle. I’ve done it before, and I’m sure it will happen again. This time it happened while running away from vampires on Halloween night, which makes for a cool story, but still doesn’t change the fact that my ankle got hurt. When my ankle hurts, it is hard to run. When I can’t run, I tend to get grumpy. Therefore, my ankle needs to get better. I need to run.

I’ve been told that it is safe to return to running if the injury doesn’t “alter your running stride.” Not sure who told me that. Maybe I read it somewhere, or perhaps I just made it up. In any case, that nugget of knowledge kept me from running for a week and a half after Halloween. As I hobbled out of bed with my stiff and sore ankle, I knew there was no way I was going to run. But then, over time, my ankle started to warm up and get loose throughout the day. Finally, I felt I could go for one of my regular evening runs.

I started out slow. My ankle was definitely stiff. As I tenderly made my way down the street, I began to think about what “altering my stride” really meant. If I made sure my foot landed right underneath me, like it’s supposed to, then the ankle felt better. Going up the first hill on my route, my ankle felt extra stiff, forcing me to take shorter, quicker steps. Aren’t you supposed to take short and quick steps uphill? Hey, maybe this injury was actually going to improve my stride! But then, as I returned home, it seemed I was favoring the weak ankle. I don’t think you are supposed to run with a slight limp. That run ended with ice wrapped around my ankle, and another 5 days off.

This pattern continues today. Each morning I assess how stiff my ankle is. Each run I think about whether or not my stride is different because of my ankle. Each time I get home I try to figure how many days I should take off until I can run again. I know I should wait until my ankle is fully healed, but I don’t. I need to get my runs in, and that need trumps rational thought.

The fact of the matter is, my injury has altered my stride. By not being able to get out and run regularly, the rest of my life has been thrown out of balance. I’m not as happy when I don’t get to run regularly. Most people don’t understand this. They feel that running is torturous and should be avoided at all costs.  So while this injury has altered my running, what it has helped me realize is that running has really altered me. It has become such an important part of my life that I am no longer the same without it. In life, I’ll never be able to hit my stride without running.


     Each time I go to my parent’s house in Eugene, I try to go on a run. Eugene just oozes running from its pores. It’s called Track Town, USA, the home of legendary coach Bill Bowerman and the iconic Pre-Trail. I even swear that one time I saw Galen Rupp out on a run. As I stride along the multitude of paths that overlook the Willamette River, I feel like I’m part of something larger than myself. These runs always inspire me.

This last week, while at my parents for Thanksgiving, I laced up my shoes and took a “running break” from my family. My run didn’t start very well. I felt bloated and sluggish. As I trotted along at what felt like a much slower than usual pace (thankfully, I had forgotten my Garmin), I tried to decide if my sore ankle was “altering my stride” enough to quit. Basically, I was looking for an excuse to cut it short and head home.

With these negative thoughts pouring through my head, I plodded down the path. Suddenly, I heard feet slapping the pavement behind me. Perfect, I thought. Now I was going to get passed by some overweight, out of shape runner that my ego would tell me I shouldn’t let by. This would likely lead to some impromptu speedwork that would leave me winded and would surely not do my ankle any good.

Instead, I’m passed by a gazelle. Surely no human could run so smooth and swift. As he floats by, I marvel at his long, graceful strides. Best of all, this elegant beast turns and smiles at me. The shuffling, belly-aching guy that wants to quit, gets a smile from him, the up-and-coming star from the Oregon Duck’s track team (for I’m now convinced he must be someone famous). As I watch him effortlessly pull away from me, suddenly my stride doesn’t feel as choppy, and my ankle doesn’t seem so stiff. I also realize that I now have no intention of cutting this run short. Once again, Eugene inspires me.

Wind Sprints: Running in 60 mile per hour winds.

It’s been a while since wind has made me nervous. But this was the kind of wind that makes you truly worry that the giant pine tree in your front yard is going to fall on your house.  My oldest daughter was asking how it was that the entire tree was moving and not just the leaves and branches like usual.  The winds hit 60 mph in town and over 70 higher in the mountains.  Power lines were down, stoplights were out, and limbs and tumbleweeds were everywhere.

So, I went running.  Partly out of curiosity as to what it would feel like, and mostly out of necessity and timing.  It was either run in the mild temps and wind in the afternoon, or wake up and run in the cold and the rain.  I chose wind.  It was an odd run.

The unrelenting steady wind from the morning had died down and left me to run in an odd series of misdirected gusts.  It felt like I was battling an invisible enemy who was circling me and pouncing at random intervals.  One second I would be leaning into the wind so hard I would have fallen flat on my face if the wind quit, which almost happened.  A right hand turn later I would feel like a kite being picked up and carried along; like running on those moving sidewalks at an airport, oddly faster than the effort should allow, but enjoyable nonetheless.  And then nothing but eerie silence.  You could hear the wind coming from a distance, and see it plowing through treetops as it came closer.  Once I went into the trees, the wind slowed down, but it’s memory didn’t.  Tree branches as big around as my arm littered the trail.  Every last pine needle was huddled in strange windrows with its compatriots, almost as if they were clinging to each other in order not to get blown away.  Sections of trail looked scoured, almost swept clean, and sections had me hopping over twig piles and dubious collections of detritus that reminded me of high tide piles from the beach.

Yes, the trees were probably not the best place to run.  I’m sure if I had been in the path of these plummeting projectiles, I would have earned a stupidity badge in the shape of some sort of head wound.  I’ll justify it by saying that all the really serious stuff had long since fallen, and the gusts I was experiencing were surely benign.  And yeah, it was a really fun run!

Musings of a 41 year old

It’s T-Minus 1 hour and 26 minutes until I turn 41. It’s this time of year the contemplative feelings arise for me and like weddings, my birthday allows a free pass to be as sappy, nostalgic, cliche’, lazy, active, happy or sad as I want to be.

With that, my reflections on 40 years of life:  

  • Being 40 isn’t what I thought it would be
  • I like foods I *never* thought I would enjoy
  • I’m still waiting to feel like an “adult”
  • I’ve learned nobody is going to do it for you
  • I’m faster than my children (they’re 8 and nearly 6 but I’ll take it wherever I can)
  • Every year the feeling only gets stronger that friends and family are the most important part to life
  • It is absolutely possible to be the strongest you’ve ever been
  • I’ve been on this earth (and possibly others) for 14,975.25 days
  • The louder I’ve been, the quieter I want to be
  • I miss my mom and dad
  • Since leaving home at 18 I’ve almost always gone outside just before midnight to greet my day, alone, quiet and with a smile
  • The older I get the better friends I become with my siblings
  • Really? I can still get zits?!  CMON!!
  • Sleep is a precious thing
  • Legos are still really fun to play with
  • M U S I C
  • I truly believe there’s a deep conspiracy among smoke alarms to only chirp at 4am
  • It’s remarkable how satisfying a cup of tea or coffee can be
  • I appreciate many of the things my parents made me do
  • I’m blessed to have had this opportunity, this long, with the souls I’ve encountered along the way
  • Kids totally blow my mind
  • There are many many things I want to do

So Happy 41st birthday to me and I am so thankful to be right here, right now.