Monday, February 27, 2006

The will to prepare

"It's not the will to win that matters - everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters." Bear Bryant

I'm in my second week of training for this years adventure racing season. Last year I did 750 hours of training. This year since it's now my "job", I've upped it considerably. Doing so breaks the generally accepted rule of not increasing your total hours training by more than 10% from year to year… but let’s face it at this point I’m a science project, an experiment to see what my body can handle. Plus I now have more time to heal and recover, so I should be able to handle the load. If not, I dial it back. We’ll see how it goes.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Introducing Team DART-nuun!

BIG NEWS: My adventure race team has a new co-title sponsor!! – nuun (pronounced “noon”).

nuun is an electrolyte replacement product that we have been using as a team for the last few years, it’s great stuff. I rely on it during races and actually drink it during the course of a normal day, just to be safe. It tastes great, it’s easy to carry (waterproof tubular container) and has the perfect electrolyte profile. Anyone who goes out for long runs, bikes, paddles, hikes, etc knows the importance of replacing electrolytes. If you haven’t already, checked out nuun – give it a try – Get 20% off when you buy online and use the promo code: TEAMDART


Saturday, February 25, 2006

Alpental Life-Link Randonee Rally

Today was the Life-Link Randonee Rally at Alpental, the ski resort 45 minutes from Seattle at Snoqualmie Summit. Although this was a "C" race for me, I am seriously disappointed with how it went down. Edward A. Murphy, Jr. was right.

I raced in the Pro Division and our course included 5,000 feet of climbing (area map). I lined up with the rest of the Pro class in front of the Recreation class with our skis about 20 feet in front of us. When the gun went off we all sprinted to our skis. I apparently didn’t properly clip into my right ski. As I started to run it flew off in mid-stride, and with the safety ski straps (required) attached the ski somehow hit me in the face. Yeah, the ski hit me in the face, you read that right. Not even sure how that is possible. The Pros were long gone at this point as I tried to get the ski back on. I could feel the waves of racers passing me. I eventually got the ski on but was now starting behind the entire Recreation division. So I started to charge, hard charge. After about 10 minutes of full anaerobic pain I had passed the Rec division and was now at the back of the front group of Pro racers, and ready to pass out. I had to remind myself this was a “C” race, I was there for fun, slow down, this shouldn’t hurt so much. The course went up lower and then upper International to the top of the Edelweiss chair lift at the top of Alpental. From here we skied down to the cliffs below the lift about 400 feet, removed our skis and boot packed back up to the top of the lift. At this point it was a downhill race to the bottom – two words: Quad Burn. I gained a few spots and was now probably around 13th place in the pro division.

From here it was skins back on and up lower International again. This is where things got really bad. As I skinned up lower International my skin tail started to come off. When skins get covered with snow the simply don’t stick to your ski bottoms anymore, and it is usually a snowball affect. If it starts, it quickly gets worse. Without skins, you can’t climb up hill. A kind hearted racer passed giving me about 4 inches of duct tape. I stopped and taped my skin on at the tail. It fell off after 3 steps. The next racer to pass me gave me about a foot of duct tape. This worked great, I was off and moving up hill again. After about 15 minutes I had climbed lower international and started out on the Grand Traverse, which is the traverse from the ski resort into the backcountry. That is when my entire skin fell off, tape and all. I didn’t allow the frustration to bubble up, I just took it as it came. But now I had a decision: a) drop out, ski down and bitch about my skins, or b) crawl, boot pack and suffer through the deep snow for the last climb, out and back to Piss Pass, and finish the race.

I chose B, I’m an adventure racer right? Plus I kept telling myself this is a “C” race. This race was really a fun way to cross train and get the competitive juices flowing. I put my skis on my shoulder and tried to walk on the skin track. With the recent two feet of snow this was almost impossible. I could get a few ginger steps in before I would fall in up to my crotch. I’d then have to crawl for a bit to displace my weight and get out of the hole. After crawling out to Piss Pass, I had to now crawl back to International. From there I skied down to the finish line…. ah… a bit disappointed. I think I must have finished somewhere around 25th or so.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Am I Serious?

OK I need a gut check here. Saturday I started my structured training for the adventure race season. I’ve been having a great time, running, riding and paddling. Sunday we had quite a crew at Cougar Mountain for a two hour trail run. It was a great way to catch up with a lot of friends.

I’ve had an easy time getting back into my training, but eating properly is another story. Today I did an easy paced 41 mile ride with Cyril. On my ride back from his house I just had to have ice cream. I rode to the QFC and bought a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup. When I got home I ate the entire pint. Am I serious? I then went back out for 20 minutes of hills that I wanted to check off my training plan and felt awful. Ben & Jerry don’t know shit about endurance training, and they must go. Tomorrow I start over.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Oh Sweet Seattle

My full race report on the 24 hours of sunlight has been published. Lou Dawson's blog has a blurb on my report as well.

I feel completely healed already. I now really think the Recover-Ease is an amazing product. After the race I had planned to return to Jackson Hole for one final week of skiing. With my toe throbbing as I started the drive back I decided that it was time to return to Seattle and let the toe heal. Another week in Jackson would mean another week of skiing (yah!) and another week before the toe starts to get better, and the very real possibility of it getting worse (boo!). OK, so I also wanted to suprise my girlfriend by showing up a week earlier than planned, on Valentine's Day.

Photo By David Bitton
The toe is doing much better. Most of the black dead skin has fallen off, and it's regained almost all of it's feeling. Sweet.

Being back in Seattle is great.. there is no snow on the ground so I can ride my road bike! Today I'll hit the pavement again and I'll throw a paddle in there as well. Tomorrow Cyril, Fleming and I are planning a mountain bike ride. Ya hear that!? Yeah that's right it's Febuary and we'll be hitting some beautiful single track followed up with a paddle. Oh sweet Seattle. Next week after my toe and blisters are healed a bit more I'll start to head up to the mountains and get some vert under my belt on the skis. I am competing in the two Life-Link Randonee Rally races in Tahoe in March.. so I can't put the skis away quite yet.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Product Reviews

Recover-Ease – Whoa, I couldn’t be more excited about having Recover-Ease as a sponsor this year. Since receiving my shipment I’ve been following the 4 capsules a day for a month leading up to competition. And right after the 24 hours of sunlight I consumed the recommended 8 capsules. I have to say that I was honestly surprised when I woke up the next day. I felt markedly better than I assumed I would, this has to be directly related to my Recover-Ease regiment.

Here are some of their stats to back up the way I felt - Results have shown that using Recover-Ease immediately after extreme endurance competition led to:
  • 52% reduction in Fatigue
  • 51% reduction in Muscle Soreness
  • 38% increase in Energy
  • 24% boost in Mental Function
  • 20% boost in Immune Function
  • 16% increase in Overall Mood
  • 5-day faster return to normal training
I’ve got some samples if you see me at a race just ask, I’ll hit you with some freebies. I challenge all of you out there to hammer on yourselves and use Recover-Ease, you will notice the difference in how you feel the days following. You can also buy it at Make sure to use referral code “RE013” to get entered into the monthly price drawing.

Arc’teryx Gamma MX Jacket:

Weight 515 grams/18 ounces

Personally I think that endurance athletes make the best product testers on the planet. We are in our gear for very long periods of time and we hammer on it. I wore my new Gamma MX soft shell from Arc’teryx exclusively for 17 hours of ski mountaineering during the 24 hours of Sunlight race this past weekend. I think without a doubt Arc’teryx makes the best gear on the planet, and this coat is probably the best I’ve ever worn. I fought the soft shell revolution while the industry buzzed and everyone I knew bought one - I somehow did not (mostly because I couldn’t afford one). Because of the 24 hours of sunlight was, well, 24 hours, I had laps that were in done in the mid teens as well as some that were -8 degrees. The only thing I changed was how many layers I had under this jacket. For the warmer afternoon laps I had one super thin Under Armor layer on under the Gamma MX. In the dead cold of 2:00am I simply added another light weight breathable long sleeve. The wind stopper protection was perfect for the cold down hills in the middle of the night and because it’s softshell it breathed very well on the way up in the sun. It also dried extremely fast as well. This is the best technical piece of ski gear I own.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

24 hours of sunlight - photos

Here are the some photos from the race taken by David Bitton. He does amazing work. You can read my full race report here.

The start
Photo By David Bitton

Up I go
Photo By David Bitton

Removing the skins without taking the skis off.. always shaving seconds
Photo By David Bitton

The "money" shot
Photo By David Bitton

The ice cream headache tuck
Photo By David Bitton

Skinning up with another Hammer sponsored athlete
Photo By David Bitton

Night Shot
Photo By David Bitton

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Update on life and a video

DART's REI Presentation - Thursday Feb 2nd my adventure racing team DART put on an end of the year wrap up and lecture on endurance racing for the big flagship REI store in Seattle. Apparently it went very well and was standing room only with 75+ in attendance. I wish I could have been there – check out Mike Bitton’s blog for more details.

Frost Bite – My touring boots were too small in the toe box when I crossed the Teton mountain range. This meant for two days my big toes had very little circulation and were very cold. When I got home I had two black toes. At first I thought I must have frost bite, however I was then able to convince myself that it was bruising from the toes jamming into the front of the boot when I skied. Well the left toe came back to normal after a few days. After 3 weeks the right toe still has a black tip but I am confident it will come back to normal at some point, but it's been slower going. On Saturday I have to race in the cold for 24 hours straight, I will be doing everything possible to keep this toe warm. I’m researching now as well.

24 Hours of Sunlight – Today I skied for the last time before the big 24 hour ski mountaineering race in Colorado. I Ieave tomorrow for Denver where I'll stay with my homeboy P-Diddy (Andrew Price) for a couple of nights before heading out Friday. I'll be picking up my support person and amazing adventure photographer Mike Bitton at the Denver airport and then heading to Glenwood Springs, CO for the race. You can follow the race on the website.

Video - I put this video together in 5 minutes (and yes you can tell). I wanted to capture a day in the life here in Jackson Hole for those of you who never made it out here… Copson, RVG, Carey, Bobbit, Colin, Parker, etc - you know who you are. Mo betta vids to come..

Friday, February 3, 2006

Glory Slide - not so Glorious

Today I got a little reminder of how dangerous travel in avalanche terrain is. It’s not that I have gotten comfortable, since my training has ended I have read three books on the subject, so I’m not resting on my laurels… and I consider myself to be very cautious. Today, like most days, we were up at 6am to hike the 1,800 feet to the summit of Mount Glory. However unlike a normal day the avalanche danger has been increasingly concerning. This morning the report said we received 6” of new snow, and it was “Considerable” at mid and high elevations. I knew the wind had been out of the S – SW. I also witnessed the South aspects melt/freeze later mid last week as well as the surface hoar. So I knew there was:
a) loading on E to NE slopes
b) a nice weak layer for a slab to slide on

Today after the requisite 45-60 min hike to the top of Mount Glory I had finished my analysis of the conditions. It went without saying we would not be skiing any open bowls and we would stay out of terrain traps. Second I had decided that SE was obviously the aspect to avoid. My ski partner, we’ll call him Bubba, had been talking about these cliffs we had dropped a few days ago and how he really wanted to hit those same cliffs this morning. As we geared up I verbally went through my logic out loud so he could here it (he has no avy training). It didn’t appear to work… silence. Not only did he not really listen to me, but he was trying to talk me into skiing the SE slope to the cliffs. So I disagreed and went over my reasoning again reminding Bubba that “you can not let your objective get in the way of good decision making”. After that went unheard as well, I put my foot down and said, “I am not skiing that route, I’m heading down this way”, and I skied off. Thankfully he followed.

As we descended the powder was a bit heavier than normal for J-Hole, and it was obvious there was a foot of consolidated slab on the top. Believe me though the turns were still incredible. This ridge however, which I had only skied once before, turned near the end to face SE.
“As it did I started to get nervous and I let Bubby know it. Yes we were on a ridge, and yes we had trees for anchors but they were spaced out enough to allow a considerable amount of snow to slide if it went. I kept thinking about something I had read in Snow Sense, "Even creek banks less than 40 feet (12 meters) high have produced deadly avalanches”. Well that is pretty much exactly what we were on, about 40 x 40 slope into a creek bed (terrain trap). I ski cut the slope and it went. As you can see in the photo the slab was about a foot. As it ran my heart raced and I told Bubby “we gotta get outta here”. I think my avalanche analysis earned me a bit more trust from Bubby today.

Thursday, February 2, 2006

Signing up for 24 Hours of Sunlight

My fate is set. I’ve signed up for the 24-Hours of Sunlight, the first ever 24-Hour ski mountaineering race. No matter how many of these 24 hour and longer races that I do there is always a certain amount of anxiety that comes along with signing up. I think this is because I know there is a great deal of pain and suffering that will come along with each event. This race takes place at the Sunlight resort in Glenwood Springs, CO from 10am Saturday Feb 11th to 10am on Sunday the 12th. This type of ski racing, randonee rally racing is relatively new here in the states but in Europe it’s very popular. Here is a great article Tina sent me a while back from the Seattle Times (of all places) about randonee rally racing. If you can’t be bothered here is a quote, “So what the heck does a ski-mountaineering race look like? Imagine a caffeinated hybrid of steeplechase, trail-running and Eco-Challenge. Starting with a jostling LeMans-style start, racers charge uphill to ridgetop waypoints wearing skis equipped with climbing skins, race downhill to the next flag, then zag upward again — often for six miles and a lung-busting 5,000 vertical feet of climbing. Then instead of the race being 1.5 hours.. this one is 24 hours. Here is a couple on this race in particular, from the Denver Post and Ski Magazine.

These are my picks for dominating this 24 hour race: Greg Hil (current record holder with 40,000 vertical feet skied in one day), Andrew McClean (45 year old ski mountaineering god), Steve Romeo (Jackson Hole hot shot, in this months Backcountry magazine he says if you can beat him in this 24 hour race he'll buy you a case of beer). Since I already know I'm going to get spanked by pretty much every dude in this race I've adopted this quote as my mantra. “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” -Edmund Burke, statesman and writer (1729-1797)