Some adventures in road and trail running.
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Monday, June 25, 2007

Let the healing begin

We traveled back from Sacramento this is good to be home. It was another great trip hanging out with amazing people.

Now I am icing, elevating, and gently massaging the sprain. I want to! It looks rather ugly but I am still surprised that without any weight on the ankle there is no pain.

I have heard that NBC will air some coverage on August 11 via the Adventure Sports Jeep World. Here are some videos from the finish of Western States: link.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Working Hard and Having Fun

This morning at 3:14 AM my friend Ronda S finished the Western States 100 mile race. She had started at 5am the previous morning. With finishing under 24 hours, she is the proud owner of a Western States silver buckle! Awesome and inspirational!

Yesterday was full of fun and hard work.

My intention had been to take hundreds of pictures of the race at the aid stations. I ended up taking less than 20. The excitement of the race and the duties of a crew member make the 24-27 hours go by soooo fast. First you running around driving, hiking and running to get to one of the crew aid stations. Then you are attempting to find out how your runner and other friends are doing. Then you are checking out each and every runner passing through the aid station. Do they look strong or do they look like they are done for the day? Amazing how almost every runner transitions in and out of so many different states. Most everyone has to come back from the dead at some point!

This was particularly true for the runners that I tracked the closest yesterday: Ronda had stomach issues and achieved her first race "hurl". Michael had eye and feet issues. Jim's feet came into play. Bushwhacker looked done at Rucky Chucky. All persevered on the strength of their training to come in sub-24. Awesome!

Stacey paced Ronda from Forest Hill to Green Gate and did a great job of helping Ronda deal with digestion issues.
I had the honor of running with her from Green Gate to the Placer High School track finish. This section is about 22 miles. We got lost, we had some laughs, we passed LOTS of people and Ronda even attempted to puke one last time. I also had the misfortune to slam my foot down in to a hole on the trail. I believe it happened about 1 mile after leaving the first aid station of my pacing duties, Auburn Lake Trails. So 6.4 miles into my part of helping out I am broken. After a bit of screaming with pain and frustration, my ankle has swollen up enough that I can continue on and do my job of helping Ronda. With a little help from my pain killing friends Aspirin, Advil and Tylenol I was able to shuffle along and hopefully do my part to help keep Ronda moving just that little bit faster. My goal was to always urge her on to drop me on the downhill sections. She did great and I think we must have passed about 20 people over the nearly 5 hours we were running together.

I am still not sure if I want to sign up for this bad boy. 100 miles is never easy and I have new respect for the course. Running 16 of 22 miles on a sprained ankle (wahoooo nothing broken!) still does not even come close to approximating the strain and anguish of running the full 100 miles. I guess the real question is why all the finishers have such a huge smile on their faces even with all the pain. I think I might want to find out :-)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

WS 2007: They are off!

Beautiful morning, some might even say that it is cold :-)
The group is off to Auburn!
Good luck to Ronda S, Jim R, Michael M, Mike B, Anna B and all the other amazing runners out there!

Friday, June 22, 2007

WS 2007: Checking the Trail

I am hanging in Squaw Valley waiting for the big WS 100 day tomorrow.
After the long day of travel from Boston yesterday and arriving after midnight I was very happy when I found out we were not heading out to check out the trail until after 8am!

With Bill S, Cian M, Stacey B we headed out on the Granite Chief trail. The weather was awesome...warm but not hot. This year there is NO snow left. Night and day from last year.
The Granite Chief trail is a steady 4 mile climb with some amazing views and open granite running. Cian and I attempted to make things fun but Bill and Stacey just kept claiming we were lost :-)
We then connected with the Pacific Crest Trail to jaunt over to the Western States trail. A little hill up and we crested out at Emigrants Pass at 8800 feet. We then ran backwards the first 3.5 miles of the race: map. The huge difference on this part of the course is again NO snow! Running it backwards is the way to go!

After cleaning up and doing some shopping at the Western States store it was time for the Runners preparation meeting.

Lets just say that there are lots of stinkin' fast runners ready to attack the course tomorrow. They lined up the top ten men and women contenders and I think that there were about 5-10 more men and women out in the crowd who are potential contenders. Everyone looks just as ready as all the drop bags laid out on the road near the starting line. Tomorrow is going to be a great day to watch and play a small part in!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Running Boston

I like running in Boston.

Maybe it is because in 2005 I set my marathon PR here. Maybe it is the history buff in my loving all the old stuff. Today I had a very nice run around the Charles River for another reason to like Boston.

I am in Boston for the June "face to face" meeting of the Eclipse Foundation Board. After spending more time than I wanted to in Chicago due to weather cancellations I arrived in Boston this morning. After a full day of meetings, I had a 2hr window to read email and get out for a run. I got in about 15 minutes of email and then headed out the door.

I am staying at the Omni Parker House hotel which is only a short distance from the Charles River and its trails. From what I have read there is a 17.1 mile loop available.

Today I got in the loop starting from the Longfellow Bridge (the signature Boston bridge in my opinion) to the Anderson footbridge...about 7.2 miles. It is a scenic loop often you forget you are so close to a major US city. There are lots of views of the Boston marathon course...including every runners friend...the Citco sign (about 1 mile from the finish of the race).

There is even lots of other Canadians here...I like this town :-)
Tomorrow I head to Sacramento to pace Ronda at WS 100...even more fun!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day 2007

It has become tradition in the Swanson household for me to race a 5km on Father's Day morning. I believe this is the 6th year in a row. For the last 3 years that we have been living in Oregon I have been doing the Tigard Balloon Festival 5km. It is a small little race in Cook Park. This year was a new course that was slightly slower but had no roads and even some dirt trail :-)
I ran my 3rd fastest 5km: 18:21 and place 1st in my age group and 3rd overall. There was 2 really fast masters that finished about 2 minutes ahead of me....inspiring! I ran a smart race by not going out too fast...even though I missed seeing the first mile marker. I ran most of the race in 4th place but then I started pacing myself like I plan to pace Ronda next weekend at Western States. I reeled the guy in front of me to pass with confidence with about 3/4 of mile to go. After the race, we chatted and Mike the Red Lizard agreed the course was slower than last year. Phew...maybe I am not getting older and slower :-)
It took quite a long time for the race results so the kids, Trisha and I explored the small garden. Cole and Leah found the LadyBug larvae.

After the race we went to church and Pastor Steve preached on being a godly father...a very important task that takes lots of training and practice...just like running :-)

We then hit a sushi spot with the Mavros for good food and conversation!
Rounded out the day with cleaning out the garage for the new tent trailer (yah!!!...more on that later), more heavy duty gardening and a nice casual 3-4 mile run as the sun was setting...beautiful!

Finally....THANKS Dad for helping to make me who I am today.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Eclipse Europa

My day job at IBM includes working on Eclipse and Jazz.

Last night I believe I finished up my planned work for the Europa release for Eclipse with some final documentation changes.
This page lists the changes, improvements and enhancements that we achieved for the Platform Ant support for Eclipse Europa: Ant Build Notes

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Failed Loowit Update

I sent an email to the Gifford Pinchot National forest service reporting about the condition of the Loowit trail and I am really impressed with their response. Bill Uyesugi, Recreation, Fire & Facilities Manager for the Mount St Helens National Volcano Monument even sent me some pictures that I had missed when being too grumpy and cold. Thanks!

This is the sign I was talking about in the section of Road 8123 that is just plain gone. Someone has taken the initiative to clean the sign off and prop it up all official...looks even more out of place!

Here's looking forward to the trail getting fixed and more running around in circles :-)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

A little too Extreme: Loowit Trail

I like doing things that are hard and challenging. Saturday's adventure was a little more than I had bargained for :-)

We had planned to run around Mt St Helens. I figured I had gone up it this year so I should make sure to go around it as well! I had done the loop once before in 2003 and the trail is one of my favorites with all the different types of ecosystems that you get to run through. And it is just plain cool to run around an active volcano!
Dave S, Steve P, Mike B and I all started at 7 am the Climber's Bivouac. I got us a little lost with a faulty memory of where the Loowit branched off the summit trail. As well having the sign broken and lying in a pile at the side of the trail did not help at all.

We did a lava field and got the sleepiness out of the systen Then some snow but was well marked with flagging ribbon. This actually turned out to be the best marked section of the trail. Once we hit the junction with the June Lake trail (which we did not use as apparently the road is washed out..not surprising from what we saw later in the day) it was slow going through the snow but we knew things would pick up....and the bear grass was blooming!

We enjoyed the Plains of Abraham, up and over Windy Pass, which was not the windiest...that would be at the ridge before Toutle. Watching herds of elk, views of Spirit Lake, bear grass and the purple carpets of the tiny lupines made everything enjoyable as we got a chance to stretch out the legs.
Then we lost the trail...a couple of times. Most of the trail posts and cairns are broken/down through the Pumice Plain. The elk clearly thought we were slightly loopy but we did not do too many extra miles before finding the trail :-) . Pretty soon the running joke was any two rocks piled together must be a cairn. Most of the washouts through the blast zone were just a fun challenge. But I believe all of us where wondering what it would be like at Toutle. We did not get a glimpse of the crater with the clouds but the waterfalls coming out of the crater were quite beautiful.

The wind and the rain started to pick up and we kept running to stay warm. We made the ridge of the Toutle valley and started the switchbacks down to the river. I like this part the first time and it was still fun this time but the wind was pretty intense. I was glad it was blowing us into the hill and not off!
We got to the bottom and we all just stopped. The trail was just plain gone. It appears that the river channel is about 20 ft lower than what Steve remembers from last year.

Bushwhacker finally found a way to get down off the cliffs without too much risk. I am not sure I would do it again. Scrambling up the other side was made easier with the alder trees that have fallen into the canyon. Look close...see Bushwhacker in the top right of the picture on the right. I am unsure how long these will be there. From what we saw, I really do not think it would be possible to pass the canyon going in the other direction.

Once we regrouped on the other side (and put on more layers of clothes) we started then climb up out of the Toutle valley and into the amazing old growth that exists on this side of the canyon. There are many blow-downs in this section with some rather large trees but all were pretty easy to pass. We knew how to scramble after the creek crossings!

We had a talk at the Sheep Canyon trail intersection and took a vote to keep going but knew that if things did not progress well we would return to the Sheep Canyon trail and head down to the roads...always good to have a backup plan.
We continued on and hit the section of the Loowit that has been diverted for numerous years due to a washout. We headed downhill following the flagging of the washout and came out to where the switchbacks used to be. Again they have been completely erased. Nothing. Sheer cliffs of sediment down to the creek. 20-30 foot drops. We ran downstream for about 10 minutes seeing nothing that looked passable.
Decision time: we had not made great time with the snow and the canyons and the wind and rain. None of us wanted to still be on the mountain when it got dark. We all agreed it was time to head back to the Sheep Canyon trail and get on the roads. You can follow the roads in the dark. We would easily lose the trail even in twilight. It was uneventful heading back and down the Sheep Canyon trail. It is really a nice 2 mile trail down through the forest. It even still has bridges going over the stream. Seeing the parking lot lifted all of our spirits as we knew we still had lots of miles to go but no chance of getting lost in the dark.

Now it was just lots of miles of running / fast hiking on roads in the rain. The roads are closed due to some very impressive washouts / blast-outs from creeks. There is one section that had a sign to beware of flooding...the whole road is GONE for about 1/2 a mile. I was a little too cold and grumpy to fish out my camera at this sign...I regret it now :-) I have to figure out how to have the camera totally accessible yet protected.

I also had the privilege to see a black bear on this section. Running up the road I start noticing conifer trees that look healthy and happy except for almost all the bark is stripped of the trunk. Hit by lightning? Then I see one of the trees is shaking and there is a little black bear stripping off the bark to eat the sweet cambium underneath. I slowed a little to look but then continued on to not interrupt his/her feast. Possibly I was hallucinating as no one else saw the bear?? Time for more sugar!
We finished up running down the 8123 road and hit the 8100 road. I was not mentally prepared for the sign saying it was 6 more miles to the Climber's Bivouac. Argh...just want to be done. But I trudged on, snarfed down 2 chocolate chip cookies and a bag of black cherry Clif shot bloks (man I like those things!) and started to get a great second wind (I also heartily recommend the new blueberry crisp Clif bar flavor...thanks Dave!) I ran some more in the rain and caught up with Dave and we ran to the 830 road. Then the happiest moment in recent history: a car :-)
We flagged them down just as Bushwhacker pulled up with the truck. Wahoooo...we are out of the rain and skipping the last 2 miles of uphill.

So the trail is still amazing and Mt St Helens is breathtaking with its testament to the beauty of God's creation. I think it will take some time before the two valleys will erode into something that I will want to tackle. But who is wild out there and things are changing very quickly. I hope it changes fast.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Weekend with the crew

Another great weekend of running has come and gone.
I am pushing to do 3 weeks of 65 plus best mileage ever!
Got out on Saturday morning starting near 7 am with Rick and Scott.
We did a loop starting from 53rd on Wildwood (mile 9.25) out to Springville (22.5). At this point I was dragging and feeling the miles. We walked / shuffled down to Leif gulping back the calories as we went. When I hit Leif I knew I had to pick up the pace so I threw out that I would try to do sub-8s down to Wild Cherry. Loosening up and feeling good with the caffeine and calories I was able to take it down to 7:30s. Mile 6 down to mile 1.5 (where Rick branched off on Alder) I was able to hold sub-7s. You really can get a second wind on a long!

Saturday night we headed downtown for Trisha running in the Star Light run. It was fun, lots of fast runners and those all dressed up for the race. It was hot and seemed hilly. Trisha, Brenda, Danielle and Chris had tons of fun! Michelle, James and Mary ran as well. It was fun again to be the cheering section with Jared, Dan, Mark and Tyson (and all the kids!). We stuck around for a while and watched the Star Light parade. Great that the kids are getting older and we get extend our boundaries!

Sunday was church, gardening and a short recovery run. Trisha and the kids rode their bikes and I ran for our neighborhood loop. 3 miles of fun with the crew!
On to prepping for running around Mt St Helen's this coming weekend. If you can go up it...should not be too hard to go around it :-)