July 29, 2014

Provo River Falls and Trial Lake

Andrea icing down in the Provo River

Pioneer Day(s) is one of the best parts of living in Utah - extra vacation time in July! Although we've never actually stayed in Utah during this time... 2010 - John Muir Trail, 2011 - Tennessee, 2012/2013 - Tetons. This year, however, we decided to stay closer to home since we'll be traveling a lot in August. We spent the 24th checking out the wildflowers in Little Cottonwood Canyon. And then after knocking out a long run in Park City, we headed up to the Uinta Mountains for the rest of the weekend and camped at Trial Lake. The higher altitude along the Mirror Lake Highway (~10,000 feet) provided cool temperatures, which were a nice break from the SLC valley furnace.

Provo River Falls

Trial Lake from our campsite

Sunset at Trial Lake
Lily Lakes

July 27, 2014

Chicago Marathon Training #1 - Laying Some Base

Knocking out a long run in Park City on July 26th

In my last training update, I was slowly starting to get back into the swing of things. The night I made that post, I got really sick, which put me in survival mode for a full week. I missed a few days because I could barely get out of bed, then really struggled to even complete easy runs for five more. On the way home from our trip to Steamboat Springs, I wondered whether it was even worth thinking about Chicago anymore. But then we counted the weeks and I realized I had a touch more time than I originally thought.

As I wrote on my log for July 8th...

For some reason I had an idea stuck in my head that Chicago was 12 weeks from July 4th weekend, and on the drive home from Steamboat we were discussing potentially shifting the timeline to a Nov/Dec target because my fitness is poor at the moment (May/June were definitely a regression) and it's going to take some time to rebuild. Then we actually counted and it turns out I have 14 weeks, which is a world of difference for me right now. I'm very motivated to get going, but I'm also essentially starting this buildup from scratch and need some more time before I start the workout cycle. Luckily I have two things going for me - I don't mind training in the heat, and I can handle jumping straight to 100 mile weeks as I start putting down a mileage base. With consistency and patience (lots of patience!), I think there is enough time to get ready for a marathon by October. I'm not going to repeat 2013's summer racing frenzy (it would be ugly, anyways). Gradual, incremental fitness progression is the primary objective for the rest of the summer... the more boring this looks, the better. 

First 7 weeks of summer training
The hair is coming back!

In the 3 weeks since I wrote that entry, things have started to come around. I've increased my mileage, knocked out some 20+ mile long runs, and started incorporating some track sessions such as 8 x 1000m and 6 x 1500m. As I move forward, I'll extend the length of the weekly track reps while hopefully dropping the pace. The long runs will stay easy (whatever easy means when you are running 20+ at 6-7K feet) for a few more weeks before I start adding some quality component to them, and I'll keep doing either some hill reps or short track reps once a week. It's a simple schedule, and my hope is that by the beginning of September, I'm fit enough to crank it up another notch.

It feels good to be knocking out 20 mile days again in the heat of the summer. This is my favorite time of the year to train. Some people hate the 100 degree afternoons, but I think they really provide a huge boost... when you toe the line on a crisp 45 degree morning in fall.

July 25, 2014

Peak Wildflowers

Late July is usually the peak time for wildflowers in the Central Wasatch, and this year is no exception. Get out and see them while you can! These photos were all taken in Snowbird's Mineral Basin, but my guess is that Alta's Albion Basin has an even greatly density of flowers and diversity of color. 

July 15, 2014

Run Commuting

My friend Rob sent me this article from Outside Magazine last week: The Rise of Run Commuters.

I've run more miles than I've put on my jeep over the past four years, and the majority of those miles have been back and forth to work. I'd consider myself somewhat of an expert on run commuting.

Here are the things you need to pull this off successfully...
    Even generic brand plastic bags work great
  • Plastic bag. This keeps your work ID, and maybe a credit card or a few dollars, from getting sweaty. Sandwich/snack sized is fine, and each one should last you about 6 months. I don't bother carrying my cell phone with me on a daily basis.
  • Shorts / pants with a zipper pocket in the back. I recommend the Saucony Inferno split shorts, which have a perfect sized rear pocket.
  • Saucony running shoes. I suppose you could run in other shoes, but I'm not sure why you would want to even bother.
  • Access to a shower. I'm not exactly a Mr. Fancy-pants, but I think you should shower after running.
I've been run commuting ever since moving to Utah. My office is located about 5 miles from home via the most direct route, but I usually take a route with less traffic that is about 6 miles long. That is perfect for most afternoon runs. Since I usually run longer in the mornings, I'll add grass/dirt loops around two of the parks that I pass though along my way. On a typical ten mile run to work in the morning, half will be on soft surfaces. Not bad. 

Luckily there is a small employee fitness center located on the floor below my office, with two showers. That is the most crucial component to this entire process.

My office is in the building on the far right, and there is a Costco immediately behind it.
Is there a more scenic location for a Costco in the world?

When I'm doing simple base training, during a typical week I'll run commute four out of five days. Same holds true for marathon training, where I typically do just one workout during the week. On a "driving" day I'll bring a gym bag with several days' worth of clothes along with a bunch of food. I keep soap and a toothbrush in the bag. The following week I'll drive again and swap out a fresh gym bag with more clothes. It's pretty simple. I keep some extra non-perishable food in my desk (canned vegetables) along with some Powerbars (in case I run out of stuff I brought), and Costco is just across the street in an emergency situations where I need a gallon of peanut butter, a seventy two pound jar of sun dried tomatoes, or something like that.

During training periods where I find myself doing morning workouts at the track or on my tempo loop, I'll sometimes drive to work twice a week in those situations (on workout days) and run back and forth on recovery days.

Since driving to work takes around 15 minutes each way, I free up at least 30 minutes a day... but realistically it's a lot more than that - since I get right out the door and run in the afternoons (that's the ticket home, after all). If I went home first, I'd almost always find ways to waste time before getting in my second run... or potentially skip it! Run commuting makes finding the motivation to run doubles very, very easy... even when it's snowing or 105 degrees outside. You just get it done and don't think twice about it.

I know what you're thinking - nobody wants to run with a shirt in the summer, but you can't go in/out of an office building shirtless, no matter how much much of a bronzed god you are - what do you do about that? I've thought about stashing a shirt in the bushes outside of my building to put on when I arrive in the morning, then wear it out and stash it back outside for the following day. But I always worry it would disappear, and that isn't worth the risk. So during the hot summer months, I wrap a very light singlet around my waist when on my way to work and put it on at the end of the run before I go inside. Same deal, but opposite, in the afternoons.

The primary upside of the run commuting is that the White Wolf gets saved for weekends and trips to places where it really belongs, and hopefully it will last forever...

So, to summarize everything above: 1. Wear Saucony shoes, 2. Take a shower, 3. Treadmills aren't real running.

July 13, 2014

Mid-Mountain Trail

Labeling Andrea and I as intermediate level mountain bicyclists would probably be something of a stretch. We like riding from time to time, and obviously can climb well, but we generally prefer easier trails - especially on downhills. The smoother, the better!

Park City's Mid-Mountain trail is a pretty nice ride - we haven't ridden it in a few years, so we decided to check it out again this weekend. We started from Deer Valley's Silver Lake Lodge and rode north to the Canyons resort, then came back via the bike path. The section of the trail between Deer Valley and PCMR's boundary is the best - nice, smooth singletrack - most of it in the forest. The section between the Armstrong trail and the Canyons is a lot more rocky and somewhat annoying at times. So we'd recommend making a loop in the Deer Valley / Park City resort boundaries if you are like us and just enjoy cruising... and only doing the whole thing if you know how to handle a bicycle :-)

Ice cream cones are a necessity after being on the bike that long

July 8, 2014

Steamboat Springs

View of Steamboat Springs from the ski slopes

We went to Steamboat Springs for 5 days over the July 4th holiday. Despite living in Colorado for two years, I had never actually been to Steamboat. Now after less than a week there, I want to move there!

Below are some of the highlights. The BEST hike we did was the "Zirkel Circle" which got a post of it's own.

Zirkel Circle trip report and photos

Fish Creek Falls

280+ foot waterfall just a short walk from the parking lot. You can hike above the falls (the trail is steep!) to the upper falls and even more views.

Mt Werner

Steamboat's ski area has tons of trails for hiking and biking in the summer. One thing that is almost always true wherever there is a tram/gondola held true here - you can hike up and then take a free ride on the gondola back down.

Stagecoach Reservoir

Just a bit south of town, the reservoir has an awesome 10 mile dirt loop around the lake. Great place to run and bike.

Yampa River

The river was probably our favorite thing about Steamboat. It runs through the middle of town and really defines the area. It's a hub of activity and center of the area's fantastic bike path network. Easy access to fun river tubing was a highlight of the trip.

Zirkel Circle

Gilpin Lake in the heart of the Mt Zirkel Wilderness

Things that are awesome
: loop hikes, jagged mountain peaks, stream crossings, high alpine lakes, summer snow.

The "Zirkel Circle" loop has all of those things and more. Just North of Steamboat Springs, the hike links up Gilpin Creek and Gold Creek with a stop at (stunning) Gilpin Lake in the middle. It's a fairly easy day hike at 10-11 miles with just a tad over 2000 feet of elevation gain. We really enjoyed spending the day in the Mt Zirkel Wilderness and came away from this one feeling like we picked one of the best hikes in the Steamboat Springs area.

Trail map, directions, and other information.