Thursday, June 21, 2007


Oh no. The days are getting shorter! Run away! Run for your lives! Break out the headlamps and the torches of all manner and size, for the darkness descends upon us!

Oh how I love sarcasm.

On this most curious ancient day of celebration, the Summer Solstice, I try to remind myself how primitive we truly are, and marvel at our place in the universe. Yoda might say, "So small we are." On today's 2-hour training run, I tried my best to find my breath, be a bit more aware of my surroundings, and live in wide-eyed wonder as this little ball of rock that we call home rotates around the golden burning mother ship that lights our way. Sorry if that's a bit "out there" for you, but it's just how I try to make sense of my existence and place in the universe.

As for the physical responses of this run (and most all of my recent workouts), I'm feeling great. My weight is holding steady as I force myself to bump up my caloric intake. My legs are responding even to occasional surges that I throw into the middle of long runs. And I'm feeling strong, despite the high mileage.

Sauna sessions continue, including a 29-minute scorcher tonight in the 170 degree box. I noticed that it took almost 5 minutes for visible perspiration to form on my arms--a good sign that perhaps my body is starting to enjoy the heat more.

For those interested, here's a bit more on the Summer Solstice and related celebrations: "The celebration of Midsummer's Eve was from ancient times linked to the summer solstice. People believed that mid-summer plants had miraculous and healing powers and they therefore picked them on this night. Bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southwards again. In later years, witches were also thought to be on their way to meetings with other evil powers.

In Sweden Mid-summer celebration originates from the time before Christianity; it was celebrated as a sacrifice time in the sign of the fertility.

The solstice itself has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since Neolithic times. The concentration of the observance is not on the day as we reckon it, commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the pre-Christian beginning of the day, which falls on the previous eve. In Sweden, Finland and Estonia, Midsummer's Eve is considered the greatest festival of the year, comparable only with Walpurgis Night, Christmas Eve, and New Year's Eve."

Happy Solstice to you. May the warm season bring you joy, health, and prosperity.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


This is a quote from my friend Scott, who responded to my reflections on how the Badwater Ultramarathon is viewed within the ultrarunning world:

"When even insane people think you're insane, you must be really insane."

I thought that about sums it up, don't you?

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Heat training started in earnest last night (Monday).

The looks on the faces of the fine folks in the health club sauna...well, I wish I could put a price on their stares. I'd make more than a few bucks.

The temperature on the (notoriously unreliable) thermometer registered a steady 170 degrees F...ample to fry the brain of the ignorant ultrarunner who comes into this cedar box unprepared for its unforgiving ways. I split the 30 minute session into three parts: 10 minutes of sitting, 10 minutes of pacing, and another 10 minutes of sitting.

I almost made the entire 30 minutes. With 2 minutes left, it was more than I could take, and I had to exit. That's o.k. A journey of a thousand miles... (or in this case, a journey of 135-miles in Death Valley...).

Thanks for taking this (warm) journey with me. My best to all of my friends (especially my peeps from the 503, the 541, the 206, the 360, the 425, and the 509) who find themselves in Squaw Valley/Auburn, CaliforniAY for the Super Bowl of ultrarunning, the Western States 100. I spoke with friend Gail this evening, who hopes to simply finish the race. She will. Friend Ronda has put forth some informative missives on her dealings with the heat as she gets ready to toe the line at Squaw on Saturday. After last year's finish line drama, this year is sure to be a doozy. Good luck to all.

Monday, June 18, 2007


I love solitude. The times I spent running long miles give me a break from the world...a time to compose my thoughts, exercise my creativity, and deal with issues that trouble me.

But in the company of others--running with a good friend, for example--I can just as easily relax and watch as the time seems to pass a bit more quickly.

A few years ago during the Leadville 100 trail ultramarathon, my buddy Stan Holman became an angel for a day. Without his help as my pacer from the halfway point to the finish, there is no way I would have completed my first 100-mile race. No way. It's a favor that I'll be hard pressed to ever repay.

And Stan keeps on giving, most recently yesterday during a 6.5-hour run in the Columbia River Gorge. His company made the hours seem like minutes. We discussed our kids, baseball, and life in general. In the shared experience, we enjoyed Mother Nature up close and personal, but didn't have to suffer the nuances of the weather (freezing cold, at times) alone. Lean on me.

When the chips are down and all hope seems lost, give me a good friend like Stan anytime to help me get through the tough times. There's no price that you can put on friendship.


Training for Badwater is progressing well. I hit my high mileage watermark last week with a tally just shy of 90 miles. Logistic planning and heat training get ramped up this club sauna, here I come.

Congrats to Olga Varlamova who completed the Bighorn 100 in Wyoming in just over 30 hours this past weekend!

The flora of the Columbia River Gorge always excites the amateur botanist in me. The Bear Grass was especially striking. The thorny spines of the Devil's Claw I can do without. And some of the greenery seems to hold more water than a sponge. As we ran through some of the more overgrown trails, we would come out soaking wet just from the moisture that was on the leaves.