Aug 08

Running as Therapy










“Some seek the comfort of their therapist’s office, other head to the corner pub and dive into a pint, but I chose running as my therapy.”

― Dean Karnazes, Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner

Sometimes I get upset, frustrated, or stressed. Sometimes it’s worse and can be called depression. There are times in life when I get an anxiety attack or maybe I feel a full blown breakdown coming on (eye twitches and all).

I don’t think there’s any shame in acknowledging this. We all have our troubles. Some people manage better and for some people they are far more severe.

As we search for balance, we all choose different methods. Some people overeat when they are down. I run.

Running is one of the many tools I use to clear my head. If I have had a particularly stressful day at work, I enjoy going for a nice run and letting it all go. Sometimes I think through things during this time. Sometimes I don’t think about it at all. Either way, it helps.

If you have issues and start running, people might say, “What are you running from?” People who would say this have to be non-runners. It isn’t about getting away from anything. It’s about arriving somewhere. Not a physical destination but an emotional, mental, or even spiritual transformation.

If your runner friend is having a hard time, one way to help is to simply run with her/him.

“I’m the kind of person who likes to be by himself. To put a finer point on it, I’m the type of person who doesn’t find it painful to be alone…

When I’m running I don’t have to talk to anybody and don’t have to listen to anybody. All I need to do is gaze at the scenery passing by. This is a part of my day I can’t do without…

I just run. I run in a void. Or maybe I should put it the other way: I run in order to acquire a void…

All I do is keep on running in my own cozy, homemade void, my own nostalgic silence. And this is a pretty wonderful thing. No matter what anybody else says.”

― Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

For some people, their issues can be severe enough to necessitate the help of a trained medical professional. Of course, running may not work for everyone. I merely say that running is tool that works for me.

Aug 01

What do you listen to when you run?


Music, audiobooks, nothing… or something else?

When I first began running, I would almost always listen to music. At first I used my smartphone, and then I began using the lighter iPod shuffle. Music is great for running. It can help pump me up and keep me going. I love music but as my training runs became longer and more frequent, I began to tire of listening to music.

When I started listening to audiobooks, it was a game changer. I could listen for hours and hours as long as the book was interesting. I also felt like I was accomplishing more things while I ran. I had a list of books I wanted to get through and I was completing them quickly. I remember at one ultra, I completed an entire book (7 hours long, which is short for a book). The only problem is if the book is boring because of the story or narrator. I was worried about spacing out while listening to books on a run but I slip into auto-pilot mode and enjoy the book. The first audiobook I listened to was “Born to Run” 😉

With group runs, I usually won’t listen to anything. I’ll just bring something with me in case I get separated. I prefer to interact with the other runners in the group. Yes, I can be chatty.

If I’m on a trail run (especially trying a new trail), I often won’t listen to anything. I will enjoy being out in nature and its sounds (or lack thereof).

That is generally what I do for training. Racing is different though. I usually listen to music to keep me motivated during the race. The exception would be trail ultras. For those, I’ll usually listen to nothing to enjoy the trails or an audiobook since I know I’ll be out there for a while.

What about you? What do you listen to when you run?

I have friends that will listen to podcasts or talks. I remember meeting another runner at an ultra that was listening to instructional audio on how to speak Spanish. I found it fascinating that he was learning to speak another language during his run!

Note: I had a hard time finding headphones that would stay in my ears when I ran. I started using Yurbuds and they work great!

Jul 24

Tahoe Rim Trail 50-Miler Recap by Steve

Don’t stop believin’.

Yeah, that’s a corny way to start this race report but you’ll see why (and it will still be corny).

Outside Magazine listed the Tahoe Rim Trail Endurance Runs as one of their 10 races on the “Trail Runner’s Bucket List.” After seeing the beautiful races photos, I really wanted to do it. I chose it to be (hopefully) my third ultramarathon and second 50 miler. Tahoe Rim Trail (TRT) has a lottery entry system and I was fortunate enough to be chosen.

My goal for this race was simply to finish. Of course, you always want to do well, but my first 50 miler was on relatively flat terrain. This race would involve higher elevation and much more significant climbs.

The logistics for the race were smooth. We lined up at Spooner Lake to start at 6am. The national anthem was played first. It made me really appreciate being able to run this race on such a beautiful piece of this country.

We started the climb to Marlette Lake. The views did not disappoint. The first aid station, Hobart, was entertaining with a vaudeville style performer on a unicycle with a whip. В I pushed through this station quickly, just grabbing PB&J and small cup of coke. We climbed past Marlette Peak and Harlan Peak heading into the Tunnel Creek aid station. I was feeling good so I stuck with the PB&J and small cup of coke.

From there, I headed down towards the Red House aid station. There was some tough downhill on the quads, which in turn was a tough sandy climb back up. Still, I didn’t think it was that bad. The course labels this part as the “glimpse of hell” part of the course. I just pushed through. I would find my own “glimpse of hell” later on the course.

Back to Tunnel Creek, I kept the same eating routine. I was moving through the aid stations quickly and feeling good. I was wearing the Ultimate Direction SJ vest with two 20oz bottles but was advised to take extra water on the next part. I picked up my handheld and brought it with me for the next section.


We climbed up past the Bull Wheel aid station and descended down to Diamond Peak Lodge. At this point, I felt good. I didn’t have highs or lows. I was just grinding along. At Diamond Peak, fueled up quite a bit, dipped my bandana in cold water, re-applied sunscreen and anti-chafe stuff, and I was ready to go rather quickly.


Next up was the brutal climb up to Diamond Peak. I turned on my music (I hadn’t listened to anything all race because I was enjoying the environment so much) and started hiking up the ski hill. It was the hottest part of the day and lots of sun exposure with only a tree for shade every once in a while. The hill was sandy too. It was a tough climb. I should have drunk more while walking because by the time I got to the top, I was cooked. I felt tired and dehydrated. I was so frustrated it felt like the wheels were falling off when I had been moving so steady.


Then, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” started playing in my headphones. The corniness of the moment made me smile. I told myself I would just push through and finish no matter what. I gathered myself, grabbed some aid from the Bull Wheel aid station and headed out slowly.

I was trying to balance getting more fluid into a sloshy and upset stomach. After a little while, I was able to pick up the pace. Ouch. Cramps. I had taken some S-Caps early and made a mental note to take more at the next aid station.

I caught up to a couple of guys doing the 100 miler.

They said, “Hey, it’s him!”

Me: “It’s me?”

“Yeah! You! You did NOT look good at that last aid station. You’re looking better now.”

“So, I looked as bad as I felt?”

(Pretty much).

I moved along with a sensitive stomach, cramps, pain the feet, pain in the legs, pain in the hips…

Then, it started to rain.

At first it was the nice gentle cooling rain. Then, it started pouring.

I rolled into the Tunnel Creek aid station in the pouring rain. I took the time to regroup. I grabbed a whole can of coke and ate a gingersnap honey stinger waffle (hoping the ginger would help my stomach). I grabbed some S-Caps too. I repacked my bag, putting all the electronics in ziplock bags. I was worn out but I felt bad feeling down on myself as I saw another runner in the medical tent receiving an IV. The volunteers were amazing. They kept asking me things like, “What do you need?” “Are you eating enough?” “Feeling okay?” I really appreciated it and couldn’t thank them enough. A gentleman took my bandana dipped it in water, filled it with ice, and put it around my neck. AH! Shocking and refreshing. I refilled my bottles and was ready to head out into the rain. I touched my forehead then asked the volunteer filling my bottles, “Where’s my bandana?!”

“It’s around your neck.”


We both laughed and he said, “It’s that point of the race, huh?”

(Pretty much).

I was feeling more recovered as I headed out into the rain and climbed back towards Hobart. On the way, I saw an older looking trail runner with a “pacer” bib pass by heading the opposite direction. He said, “Hey there!” as he passed and I did a double take. Gordy Ainsleigh, the first to run the course of the Western States 100 just ran by.


From Hobart, I started heading up toward Snow Valley Peak. The course continues to be so beautiful. The storm clouds rolled in and it started sprinkling. I saw a small herd of deer seeking shelter (this should have been a good warning). The rain became worse and I started hearing more lightning strikes. I was near the top, completely exposed when suddenly I felt something hit me in the head. Ouch!

Ouch again!

It started hailing.

There were no trees to prevent the pea-sized hail from pelting me. I ran with my head down until I reach the Snow Valley aid station. What now? Do I wait out the hail?

More lightning strikes.

I looked at the supports to the aid station structure and they are all metal poles. Here I am, on Snow Valley Peak, in a thunderstorm surrounded by metal poles and it’s hailing outside. What to do?

В The super-volunteer at the aid station let some of us shelter in his truck (at least that would be grounded). After sitting in the truck a while, the hail stopped and we headed out in the rain. It had gotten colder but adrenaline pushed me down towards the tree line.

I ran down the long single track towards Spooner Lake. I ran past the last aid station without stopping into the aspen grove and ultimately to the finish line. Some of the folks near the finish line cheered and said things like, “You went through a lot out there,” and “You survived the wrath of God!”

I received my finisher’s plaque and cup. I was glad to finish. Of course, I wish I had done better. Some things were within my control and some things were completely out of my control. As always, I learned a lot. It was an amazing experience in such a beautiful place.


Gear: Ultimate Direction SJ Vest, Hoka One One Trail Stinson shoes, Pearl Izumi Infinity shorts, and Injinji 2.0 trail socks

Jul 11

100 Mile Ultramarathons Starting on Fridays

Unless you’re an elite ultramarathoner like Rob Krar, Timothy Olsen, or Anton Krupicka, your 100 mile ultramarathon may cross into two days. Most 100 milers start on Saturday and finish on Sunday. In the spirit of Saturday marathons, here is a list of 100 mile (or more) ultramarathons that start on Friday:

Wasatch Front 100 Mile Endurance Run В – Utah – September “100 Miles of Heaven and Hell”

The Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run В – Utah – September “36 Hours of Indian Summer”

Hardrock 100 В – Colorado – July “Wild & Tough”

Kodiak 100 Mile Ultramarathon В – California – September

Badger Mountain Challenge В – Washington – March

Zion 100 Trail Run В – Utah – April

Monument ValleyВ В Utah – March

Grand Canyon UltrasВ – Utah – May

Bryce Canyon UltrasВ – Utah – June

Capitol Reef 100В – Utah – June

Note: Zion, Monument Valley, Grand Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon are all done by Ultra Adventures.

Salt Flats 100 Mile Endurance Run В – Utah – April

Pickled Feet Ultra Running В – Idaho – March

Bighorn Mountain Wild and Scenic Trail Run В – Wyoming – June

Pony Express Trail 100 В – Utah – October “Running in the Hoofprints of History”

Antelope Island Buffalo Run В – Utah – March “Run Where the Buffalo Roam”


These two 135 mile ultramarathons start on Monday but do involve some Sunday activities like race check-in:

Badwater 135 В – California – July “The World’s Toughest Foot Race”

Arrowhead 135 В – Minnesota – January


Do you know of any other 100 mile ultramarathons that start on Friday? Please let us know!

Jul 02

Monmouth-Independence Mini-Marathon Preview by RJ

Let me introduce you to the greatest 2.6 mile race in the world held on the best day of the year (that it’s also my birthday is no coincidence at all): the 4th of July Monmouth-Independence Mini-Marathon.I grew up in the town of Monmouth, OR, population approximately 8,000, and went to a high school that was shared with the adjoining town Independence, population approximately 7,000 (both have since grown slightly, but are still below 20,000 combined). Located about 15 miles southwest of Salem, it’s not sticks, but there’s not much going onВ there either (15 years later, there’s slightly more going on, but still not much). Monmouth had one stop light (it now has a second) and Independence still only has one. As a kid growing up there it can be a little boring without much going on. But the one thing thatВ theВ joint communityВ does do is 4th of July. And it does it big.

The crowning event of the Western Days (yes, days, like three or four of them, depending on which day of the weekВ the 4th lands on) celebration is the Grand Parade, which starts at noon in Monmouth and runs for about three miles toВ Riverview park in Independence. 15 minutes prior to the start of the parade, for the 42nd year in a row, the 2.6 mile Mini-Marathon will be held.

The mini-marathon is simple. It starts at Monmouth City Hall, has no turns, drops 47 feet in elevation from start to finish, has cheering crowds multiple people deep on both sides of the road the entire race and finishes at Independence City Hall 2.6 miles later. It’s a foot race. And it attracts upwards of 500 runners or more every year. In a word, it is awesome.

In 2008 this race represented the first miles I had ever run. 17 marathons, three 50 milers, a 50k and three half-ironmansВ since would have never happened if I hadn’t been so disgusted with myself for how wrong I was about my state of health and conditioning at the time. The 2009 raceВ was the first time I actually prepared for and trained for a run (if only for a month) and from then onВ IВ was hooked. TheВ rest is history.

So if you are ever find yourself in the Willamette Valley (or want to be), make a date with the mini-marathon on the 4th of July.

Here’s a quick (because it’s a short race) preview:

You’ll start at City Hall (where my extended family has sat for nearly all of those 42 years). When the gun goes off you’ll immediately pass the city park, full of booths, food and a water fountain on your left. Mom and Pop businesses line the street of the next block before hitting the grocery store, the bank and finally the town’s one stoplight. Run through the light and smell the sweet smells of the local Burgerville (make a note to come back for a strawberry milkshake) as you run up a slight incline before dropping most of the 47 feet. Then it’s around a sweeping S-curve you go, past the little league baseball field and the fire station to your left. You’re halfway there and as you reach the Les Schwab tire center little kids will hand you cups of water.

Entering Independence you’ll pass Mendi’s Pizza. Make a note to come back here and eat. Seriously, make a note. And come back here and eat. The high school is now on your left after which you’ll come to the light in Independence, the Roth’s grocery store on your right. Another quarter mile and you’ll be running downhill again for the remaining elevation drop and then it’s a straight, flat shot to the finish line. Trees line the street and provide some much wanted shade as your heartbeat races and you’re gasping for air. 11th street, 9th street (be sure to run through the lady’s sprinkler here), 6th street, you can see the finish now, just four blocks away. As you reach 2nd street you run through the corral and through the finish line, rewarded with apples, cliff bars and water. You’ve completed your mini-marathon.

If you’re like me, you immediately turn around and make your way back to the starting line where the rest of your family is sitting enjoying the parade,В encouraging the runners behind you and stopping every so often to catch up with friends and families of friends youВ haven’t seen in aВ while.В It’s an all-around great race, low in cost, high on fun and worth the trip to Monmouth, OR.

Here’s the link: WesternDays


RJ (849) and the extended family runners from the 2009 race (no more current picture was available at time of publishing — we’ll work on that)