Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Full Moon - Waiting for the Night - and Spirit Lake

Tonight I started my run a bit later than usual. It was almost dark by the time I started. Because I have been running on a nice smooth trail that I know well lately I didn't have to worry about a light so I just used the light of the moon to guide me. I really like running by moonlight. The moon casts everything in shades of blue, gray and lavender. The first 4K was a bit rough but I really pushed again and came up with a time comparable to last nights splits. Lap 2 went down the tube and I wasn't able to keep up my pace. It is OK though it is important not to run hard every single run and so I will take a real easy run tomorrow.

I have been in the lab a lot since the 20th and it has been quite nice. The entire campus is devoid of life and I feel like I can really focus on my experiments. I am starting to see some results and I am happy with the direction I am heading even though I have had to alter my goals a bit.

Tonight as I was running one of my favorite songs came on and it fit perfect with the atmosphere I found myself running in. "Waiting for the Night" by Depeche Mode has always been in my top 5 from the group ever since I first heard the song. I can't actually recall when I first fell in love with this song nor can I even recall hearing it for the first time, but it just seems to always be one of my favs. It is actually a really dark song, perhaps moody is a better term, but it is also a very beautiful song.

The remix of 'Waiting for the Night" by Dominatrix that popped up as I was running through the Douglas Firs in the moonlight was awesome. Instantly a flood of memories from past explorations with my brother and friends came to me. Perhaps the trips that match the mood of this song the most were a series of expeditions we lead into the North Slope of the Uintas in the late 90's. The goal of these expeditions was varied. We had multiple leads on several treasures in this corner of the fantastic alpine backbone of the Uinta Mountains. We were following a lead from my Dad's old partner near Tamarack lake and also several from books we had read that placed various mines and treasures within a few miles of the same spot.

These trips were marathons, and involved us loading the truck the night before so we could start our drive at midnight. The four hour drive through Wyoming and Utah would sometimes be downright painful due to lack of sleep, but we kept our music blaring and snacked on all types of sugar laden treats (that could kill you in large doses) that we would pick up along the way. Once we turned south into the Uinta's in the early morning the mood would always change. The excitement of the expedition that waited ahead was only sharpened by the long drive on the dirt road that was bordered by lodgepole pines only glimpsed in the glow of the moon. After arriving at the Spirit Lake lodge we would park at the trail head and begin our journey under the stars.

Particular memories of these expeditions include a huge bull moose laying in front of the bridge that wouldn't move. We almost climbed on it like it was a boulder because it was so black and we couldn't see it. We ended up having to try and circumnavigate the 2000 lb mass of black furry. We couldn't find a way around and had to wait for him to leave.

On a particularly dry year the cougars were crawling all over the place, and Ben was with us, and as he lead the way an adult cat darted across the trail within 6 feet of his path, he never even saw it, but my brother and I did, and screamed like little girls for a couple of minutes. A while later we spotted another cougar crouched down on a ledge above the trail waiting to pounce. We yelled and screamed and it finally took off.

On another occasion Rich Ben and I were exploring the back side of the giant spur that comes down from the backbone of the Uintas and Rich went on ahead around the corner while I munched on some food in a boulder field next to Ben. Ten minutes later we saw a small bull moose running like mad around the corner. Then to our amazement we saw Rich running 10 yards behind it. Rich's eyes were the size of golf balls and he looked scared. Ben and I couldn't figure why Rich was chasing a moose. We then saw the biggest bull moose I have ever observed come around the corner, and he was mad! He was chasing Rich who was chasing the little moose. Rich finally made it to the boulder field which the Bull moose couldn't navigate.

Perhaps the most memorable trip was made a few days before Ben's wedding and Rich, Matt, me, Tim, Ben, Jason, and James decided that we were going to finally nail this thing and find it. We pulled the usual all nighter and stopped in the Fort Bridger gas station and bought some of the nastiest food ever concocted by man, including Tim's infamous "red hot sausage". We began our long hike in and Jason and Matt showed early signs of fatigue and were complaining before we even got a mile or two into the hike. We split up their gear, and I think Tim took an extra pack. Soon we reached the boulder field and began to scour the many cliffs and ledges tucked away in this 2000 foot scree slope. We paused for a break at one spot where Tim and I fell asleep on the side of a 400 foot cliff with one arm hanging over the edge! We continued to scramble towards the top, and Rich took off to scout ahead. Tim and I soon found ourselves in quite a predicament. We were trapped on a slippery scree shoot that had a 400 foot cliff underneath the shoot. We were clinging to the loose gravel with our nails and then I saw Tim begin to slip. I can only remember how darn scared he was as he slowly slid down to his demise. I think I have never heard him say so many prayers in such a short period of time in my life. Slowly we clawed and slipped and fought our way up the shoot. We all made it on top of the 11,000 footer in one piece but found ourselves in intense sun and insane wind. It was so windy and so constant that I remember standing on the edge of a huge cliff and leaning over the edge with the wind blowing straight at me and fully supporting me as I was literally hanging in empty space (man I was stupid!!!). The wind began to take it's toll and the sun and wind began to burn our unprotected faces and lips. Come to find out while Rich was scouting he was chased by 4 dark figures on horse back with guns (old west style) and had to bale off the side of the mountain for protection. After a long and eventful day of tempting fate we all made our way back home. Ben's knee wasn't having it though, and Jason and Matt were completely toast. I still remember Ben crawling down the trail completely knackered saying "just leave me guys, tell Amy I love her". It was so hilarious and sad at the same time. About that time Matt caught a wiff of the pancakes cooking over at the Spirit lake lodge and he transformed into some sort of endurance trail runner and was gone. When next we saw Matt he was finishing his second tall stack of pancakes at the lodge. We dragged our tired burned and beaten bodies into the lodge where we ate every kind of breakfast food on the menu. We then piled into Matt's truck, exhausted and stinky and made our way back home. I think Matt drove over 100 miles an hour most of the way. I can't believe we all lived to tell the tale. The story doesn't end here because a few day's later Ben was to get married. Little did we know that the second degree wind burns on all our faces and lips would start peeling the morning of the wedding. Whenever I look at Ben's wedding pictures I crack a huge grin as I see 6 lepers smiling at the camera and one poor Amy wondering what those Fellows boys did to her husband. I wouldn't trade the treasures I gained from that trip for all the gold in the world.

The song "Waiting for the Night" always conjures up images of long road trips, navigating eerie dirt roads in the moonlight, dodgy night hikes under a blanket of stars, sprawled out on a 40 foot boulder in the middle of a boulder field at four in the morning with my brother as we stared up at the starry skies with our smashed Fort Bridger sub sandwich, clinging to cliffs and scaling scree, marauding packs of bull moose, two beams of light in the darkness made from cougar's eyes staring back at us, and amazing adventures set to the mood of this dark but beautiful song. I hope you like it. I am including several versions including a live and two by my favorite DM remixer dominatrix!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hard run and Silence

Today I decided it was time to brush off the cobwebs and push the legs a bit pace-wise. What a terrible day to decide to hard run. My right leg is still sore (shin and calve) from running before X-mas with burnt out shoes. I also was a bit fatigued and dehydrated, but what is a hard run without a few obstacles, you can't only run hard when everything is perfect and expect the same growth that comes from running with problems. So I psyched myself into a fast pace and really stretched my gait. This was one of those runs where my only fuel was will power and my only motivation was that vision of the future - well trained version of myself tackling long gnarly runs in the Spring and Summer. My right leg was killing and after a lap I stopped (it was my fastest lap in months by the way) and I really stretched all the major muscle groups in my legs. This 2 minute break and stretch was great, and gave me a good bounce for the following lap. I really began to push and during this run I used some disassociation techniques and zapped myself out of my body, and thought about many things that took me away from the searing legs and aching lungs. I typically use both associative and disassociation techniques for dealing with challenging runs. When I am fitter and running well, I really like associative techniques and focus on everything about the run and analyze every aspect of the pain and truly try to understand and communicate with my body. Since I am only building my base back up, I decided to dislocate myself from the pain and this tends to help me just finish my harder training runs, early on in a building phase, and also I don't wimp out because I am not so focussed on the run. I ended up shaving nearly 3 minutes off my 8K which I was happy with considering conditions weren't perfect. It was another small victory that motivates me going into tomorrow's run.

While running a song popped up called "silence" sung by Sarah McLachlan mixed by Tiesto and Oakenfold on delirium. I have loved this song for nearly a decade and still love to listen to this track whenever I get a chance. This is a great track to run to, it has a great beat and build-ups that energize even the groggiest of runs. It also has a nice "trancy" feel that tends to make my mind wander to other runs, hikes, outings and even future goals and runs and allows for disassociation techniques. I like the video for several reasons; first it has running in it, second they are running on rough terrain near the ocean which reminds me of my run in Oregon earlier this year, and last I like the fact that the guy is blind and his girlfriend/wife is leading him so he can still enjoy an adventure with her (at least that is my interpretation of the video). I like to think that Vye would do this for me if I ever lost my vision (heaven forbid). No matter what obstacles I am faced with in this life I would like to think that I would still find ways to live an adventurous life. I think it is nice sentiment. Anytime I watch the video on YouTube I want to lace up and hit a coastal run. There are some amazing coastal runs here on the Island. Each one between about 50 and 100 Km long. I hope to run several this year and would love to run all of them before I am done with my PhD. Silence is one of the best running tracks for me, I think I have a 10 minute version on my i-pod and it is always a joy to run with it playing.

Here is the full 10:00 minute version by Oakie! The video is just random driving though posted by some YouTube user but the song is awesome!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Santa Delivered and Heartbeats

As my title indicates, Santa really delivered this year. I got a new pair of Brooks Cascadia 4's (the silver and red ones because the yellow were sold out, due to making room for the new 5's coming out in January). Santa also got me a heart rate monitor which is a great gift considering my funny heart issues. Vye has always been so keen on what I am into and always gets me the gifts I really want. I remember our first Christmas together she got me a rock hammer and several books on rocks and minerals. I knew that I had scored an amazing girl who paid attention to me and understood me. Year after year she has always bought the best possible gift I could hope for. Thanks again Vye!

I had to try out the new shoes and HR monitor so I took them out for about an hour run this evening. At 4:30 the southwestern sky was lit up with pinks and reds from the setting sun and it was very dramatic and spectacular. As the night rolled on the colors faded and dusk settled on the southern tip of Vancouver Island. The new shoes felt amazing. It is hard to notice that your old shoes are shot until you have a new pair to compare them with. My last pairs of brooks had just over 900 kilometers on them and they were toast. In the last 20 months I have gone through 7 pairs of shoes. Wow, that is the one drawback to being a high mileage runner is that your money spent on shoes can really pile up. After about 15 minutes I had to run over to my lab and pore out some lava I had cooking in the furnace so I cruised up to my lab on the fourth floor decked out in my running gear. I put on my lab coat and shaded goggles, fire proof gloves, and grabbed my tongs and realized I looked pretty ridiculous with the juxtaposition of running gear and lab PPE. I took care of my experiments and ran for another 45 minutes. The heart rate monitor worked great. I measured my resting pulse before I ran (about 55 BPM) and then after my warm-up (about 133 BPM) and finally at my hardest run I was at about 158 BPM. I could also watch how quickly my heart rate dropped after stopping and watch for it to show signs of sick sinus syndrome. My heart rate returned to a lower pace slowly and so I was great. It is nice to know what the old heart is doing and it will be great to monitor my Heart Rate over my training this year and see how it changes with my training. What a great Christmas!

While running today a song popped up that was appropriate to honor my awesome Christmas gifts from the best wife in the world. The song is Heart Beats by the Swedish group "The Knife". I think this was a good song to play while checking my HR on my new HR monitor. I have loved this song for several years now and I like the cover by Jose Gonzalez almost as much but in a different way. Here are some Videos of various versions of the song and videos. I hope you enjoy as much as me.

There are easily 20 other mixes and mashups on youtube including a mashup with Grizzly Bear. There are other mixes by Solarcube etc. to just name a few. I like them all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Shoe issues, Grizzly Bear and Sigur Ros

I ran easy for 45 minutes yesterday. My friend Rob gave me a nice pair of Asics 2140 GT trail shoes to try out since my Brooks have over 900 Km on them. It was an awesome and well appreciated gift. I have used the new shoes for several 30 minute runs and they have been fine. I took them on back to back 45 minute runs the previous couple of days and found they don't fit in the arch and my left arch became hot and then blistered. I was a bit frustrated because I currently can't afford new shoes and so this gift was going to be perfect but now I am quite certain they won't be comfortable for anything over 5 miles. Last nights 45 minute run was challenging. It seems whenever I start a new push for running the first week has some rough spots around days 4-5. This week has been no exception. I have to figure out my shoe issues before my first marathon in January. I think I will have it sorted by then. I even tried the new insoles in my old Brooks to buy them some life but they are pretty shot. They have been a phenomenal shoe and I will definitely stick with them. They can handle roads but are brilliant on the trails of Vancouver Island. They are light and low profile and I only have good things to say. I would only get blisters on the tips of my toes as I approached or surpassed 13 mile runs.

Yesterday afternoon I found a song by the Grizzly Bear's stuck out in my head while running under a crystal clear blue sky. I couldn't believe how beautiful and warm it was, it almost felt like spring. It was too bad I had blisters and was a bit fatigued because it would have been great to crank out more effortless distance on such a day. Back to the song, I first discovered this group as Vye and I were messing around on YouTube checking out videos on ginormous grizzlies. This group from New York kept popping up, and so I got interested and found I really liked them. The group laid dormant on my i-pod for nearly a year until I found the song "Two Weeks" and more importantly the "Fred Falke extended mix" while browsing another runner's blog. I got the song and I really enjoy running to it. I like the original as well but the extended mix lends itself to running with the stronger more upbeat and electronic sound. I am quite certain many of you have heard of this group and probably know the song but this remix is great so give it a listen.

This morning I slipped on my Brooks, with my Asics insoles, and hit the chip trail for a very easy recovery run of only 30 minutes. That is about all my shoes allowed me to run before I could feel all the symptoms of trashed shoes such as sore shins and aching joints. I need to find 150 bucks bad and get a new pair of Brooks. Keep your fingers crossed I can make it happen soon because I am in Dire need. Well the easy run was nice I wanted to run further but the body said no for today so it was a really short jaunt. I heard a song by the Icelandic group Sigur Ros. I love this group and found that they are one of the few groups that even though they are singing in a totally different language the songs are universally understood. This is a really chill song and was perfect for a really chill run in December on the island. Give it a listen I am including a version with their real video and one with the "Planet Earth" footage added. Both are great videos and both invoke different emotions. I hope you dig it as much as me the song is called "Hoppipolla" (the first link is to the actual video since embedding was disabled and the other embedded video is the planet earth but both songs are the same).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Welcome back the Sun - Like Ice On Desert Plain

Today is the shortest day of the year and with it the sun has rounded the horn and will slowly creep it's way back into the Northern Skies. I always love to welcome the sun back on its return. I ran an easy 45 minutes on the Chip today and by 5:00 it was crazy dark. So dark in fact, that I didn't see the black berry stringer across the trail, and apparently my legs were numb from the cold so when I came into the house Oakley quickly pointed out the bloody scratches across my quads. Oh well, I love anytime I can donate a little blood to my passions, and trail running has taken it's share from me. I really enjoyed my run tonight. Nothing to write home about, but it was relaxed, and I even felt the warm buzz of a runner's high 3/4 into the run. Perhaps the high is a precursor to the return of my fitness, and not a moment too soon because I am way north of 145lbs (I like to be south of 140 when racing).

Today's song is an awesome 9 minute trance song that came out in 2000. This song has been buzzing around in my head for the past month and today it accompanied me on nearly a quarter of my workout. "Pile Driver (Grayed out Summer Mix)" by Amoebaassassin and mixed by Paul Oakenfold is an underrated classic from the genre and time period. The song came from the Planet Perfecto two disc album, and was a catalyst for an already writhing interest in electronic music for me. I feel it has received little attention and yet it is such an amazing song on so many levels (it is best listened to with a good headset in the dark while laying down). There is a sort of energy about it and it definitely transports me to many different times and places. The lyrics took me quite a while to work out (try to get them right) and I have found 100's of interpretations including my own that all completely vary. I feel I finally found the correct ones and they seem to match.

I have too many amazing experiences with this song to even begin to try to disclose them all. The reason I chose the song today is that while running in the dark a line from the song struck me; the line "Like Ice on Desert Plain" triggered a memory of me and my brother looking for a treasure in the Black Rock Desert the day after Thanksgiving in 2001. We had done our homework and were interested in a story of a man who had become lost in the Black Rock Desert region of Utah and found shelter in a crevice in a low lying ledge somewhere in the desert. As the morning light filtered through the entrance he saw leather sacks full of small gold nuggets. Apparently he grabbed some gold and took notice of the surrounding landmarks and headed to the small town of Meadow and back home. He intended to return and find the small horde but like any great lost treasure story the area was too vast and the terrain too similar to ever find the exact crevice.

My brother and I were certain we could find it. We took a scientific approach and triangulated his location using software and the landmarks and used the low lying ledge clue to ascertain what would cause the ledges and came up with several bands of ledges to explore. It was an amazing gray day and a winter storm was on the horizon as we scrambled on foot and in the truck over miles of desert plains. Occasionally there would be large puddles that had frozen solid in depressions in the grass, like mercury spilled over a textured canvas. It was a stark contrast to the hexagonal black columnar basalt ledges and outcrops. We didn't locate the crevice ourselves but did find Fremont Native Art that most likely hadn't been viewed in hundreds or thousands of years by man. We even found the start of a small mine in the black rock from the turn of the century. It was an amazing trip and this song played on repeat as we bounced in Richies red Chevy in the triple junction of the Pavant Butte, the Plateau Country, and edge of the Great Basin. The return home like hundreds of trips before and many hundreds more after did not produce the results that we had so adamantly sworn were destined to happen, but the treasure we found on those trips were always more subtle and not always immediately apparent. Today while running this song brought me back to the basalt flows of the Black Rock Desert splattered with silvery puddles -- a literal interpretation of the song's interesting lyrics. It brought me back to a time with my brother when obsession and extreme and absolute positive thinking ruled. I miss these trips of ours and the desert.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

29 years - goodbye Rob - and some S.P.

Well today I turned 29. I have had a great day and sharing my B-day with my son is awesome. It is nice to make a big deal about his birthday and subsequently I can fly below the radar, I am not much for making a big deal out of my Birthday's. I wanted to run 29 miles today for my birthday to celebrate and run a mile for each year I have lived on this beautiful globe we call home but I am not quite in 50K shape after this Fall's pitiful mileage. I will wait to run a Marathon training distance until the first week or two of January. I am starting to ease back into a nice consistent mileage and hope to stay consistent even though the Spring is really turning out to be a killer between course work and thesis work. I am really hoping to teach the 4th year field school this Summer instead of the 3rd year. The 3rd year school is during April and May and tends to trump any spring races. I have a 50 K I am registered and paid for that I haven't been able to run yet due to teaching. If I can teach the 4th year at the end of August I should be pretty geared up for a strong Spring race load.

Well my good friend and running partner moved to the mainland this morning to inherit a practice. He will be missed. I think we connected right off the bat due to our similarities in education, passion, likes in business and investment and obsessive behaviour and obviously our running goals were in line. He really taught me a lot about running and training and I think consistency is what rubbed off the most on me. He is still planning on running on the island once every month or so and because he is a Dr. it shouldn't be too hard to visit. I have really enjoyed our friendship and I feel he is one of the few people who "get" me. It is rare to find someone who understands me on any level let alone multiple levels. Perhaps the biggest trial is now having to run without anyone when there is still a chance I might pass out if the heart decides to take it's time adjusting rhythms. It is hard to find anyone willing or able to run every day for 10+ miles. I am debating starting a running club for our department since we have many good and avid runners in the Earth and Ocean Sciences here. I brought it up at a few get together's and there was an interest so perhaps I can run with some people and even find someone crazy enough to be an ultra distance runner. Rob really wants me to run a 100K race next year near his new home on the Frasier. I feel I could get ready and run it solo. He is putting together a relay team but would love to support me in my 100Km endeavor. I hope everything pans out it would be a rolling and beautiful course.

Well today's song of choice is one I have been listening to a lot. During my building phase in August this song got a lot of play time in my head but I haven't really listened to it for a while or even thought about it, until this past week. The song is "Loretta Young Silks" by the Sneaker Pimps (Chris Corner's band pre-IAMX). The title is named for the Salt Lake City born early actress Loretta Young. She also had an affair and child with Clark Gable. I really like the funky grove to this song. The bass is great and it is a really groovy and cool song. This song is great to listen to on easy runs on undulatory terrain. When this song is playing or when it is stuck in my head I tend to run really loose and not worry much about anything but enjoying my run. This song gives me the illusion that I am cool while I am running even though I am the only one that can hear it (and I am about as far on the other end of the "coolness spectrum" as one can get). It is just one of those songs that allows you to run relaxed and as a result I tend to really enjoy running anytime this song becomes the backdrop. Tell me what you think.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Diagnosis, and running with a Mouthful of Diamonds

So I got back my final diagnosis from my cardiologist and a second opinion. Apparently I have an uncommon form of sick sinus syndrome which is basically a defect in my bodies natural pace maker and apparently is induced by endurance training. The good news is now that I know what I am up against I should be able to be careful and avoid future problems. Ultimately if it continues to be an issue I could get a pace maker but I think that is lame so I am just going to watch myself and if I ever get light headed I will stop and lay down until the old ticker gets back in line. Basically my heart's pacemaker works great when I am running, and it works superbly when at rest, but when switching from a fast pace to a resting pace the transition seems to boggle the electrical currents and my heart rapidly slows way down for a minute before finding the correct resting pace. Apparently if I just ease the transition from fast to slow I should be fine. My cardiologist wants me running with a partner at all times but my partner is moving across the pond in the morning so unless I can coax someone into endurance training I will be on my own as usual. I guess I should wear some form of I.D. in case I am found in a ditch or what have you.

I started training again today after a 10 day hiatus due to lack of motivation and darkness but I have found my motivation and I am ready to go crazy again. I just cranked out a small 30 minute jaunt on the chip trail. I figure I will take it easy even though it appears I am at the highest risk when I am the fittest. I will be careful.

I have decided to start a new thing in which I post about a song that was in my head and impacted me while running. I have about 7000 songs on my i-pod currently and so I have many opportunities to share and won't run out any time soon.

Today's song is "Mouthful of Diamonds" by Phantogram. I found this group through a fellow runner's blog and fell in love with this song. Phantogram is a duo from Saratoga Springs New York and according to their myspace page their music is a mix of organic and electronic sounds, with swirling guitar, spaced-out synths, and chopped up samples and rhythms. I absolutely love it and I really like the juxtaposition of electronic and guitar influenced by 80's synthpop and 90's alternative with a modern twist. For some reason this song speaks to me the most. While running today it was on repeat in my head and made for a little extra spring in my step even though my fitness is no where near where it was before this heart issue. The gloomy cool weather was a nice contrast to this song and made the boring stretches of the chip trail sail by. Tell me what you think and I am not offended if any of my music is not your thing. Much of these songs will be electronic and some are absolute masterpieces and others are merely background noise while cranking out the distance. So it can be expected that some of these songs I post will be new and exciting and others might just be a looped melody over a drum beat. I hope to introduce and share my love of music while posting these songs though and even discuss what was on my mind while running and listening or thinking about the song (the album version is amazing as well so Give it a listen).