Monday, October 25, 2010

Yes, I'm losing toenails

Ok, these pictures are not for the faint at heart.  Nor are they for people who don't like feet.  Although you may like feet and see these pictures and not like them.  Very likely.  But, I thought that this blog would not be complete without chronicalling the journey of my feet.  So here it is.  The bad and ugly.  Not so much of the good.  The good would be that my feet feel fine, no pain currently.  Brace yourself!  Ultra runner feet...

I'm losing the big toenail.  It's loose and coming off and that's why it looks so nasty.  It looked really bruised, now it is turning white.  The left toenail is also looking bruised.  On the pictured foot I lost the third toenail from the left, and it's still growing back. 
day 2 after Cle Elum 50K, September 19.  This looks pretty gnarly. 
Day 3 after Cle Elum 50K, September 20, right foot
Day 3 (September 20), left foot
October 25, arch blister: getting there....still healing, over a month later!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Waterfalls and Rain at Eagle Creek Trails in Oregon

I was in Northern Oregon this weekend keeping James company while he mapped the trails at Eagle Creek.  Eagle Creek is Just south of the Columbia River Gorge and near Cascade Locks and Hood River.  On Saturday we did a 24 mile run through the trails, braving the cold and wet weather.  The trail's many views made up for the inclement weather and the overgrown trail.  During the first six miles we ran past, and in one case we ran through, many waterfalls as the trail followed Eagle Creek, see map.

Some time soon after that, around 6-7 miles out, the trail left the river and began climbing up through the woods.  It was here that the trail became really overgrown, with a lot of brush growing into the trail.  Due to rain from the previous night and from that day, the brush became a booby trap full of water!  With each step we would soak our feet, legs, and in some cases our hands and arms.

About halfway into the run we took a side trail up to a wonderful lookout at Tanner Butte. On that cloudy, wet day, the butte had a view of mountains and waves of clouds draped over the landscape, settling in the valleys and over the river gorges.  Had it been a clear day, we would have had an incredible lookout for miles!

During the last 6-8 miles the trail widened and began to descend gradually all the way to Route 84. At this point we ran along a paved side trail to where we parked our car at Eagle Creek Trailhead.

There are a lot of fun things to do in the area in the evening as well.  We had dinner and drinks at Full Sail Brewery and Celilo Restaurant and Bar in Hood River.  Afterward, we enjoyed some live music and dancing a few blocks away.
This map shows the Eagle Creek trail as it follows the creek.  We continued on past Tunnel Falls.
More Pictures....

Cougar Mountain Easy Run

I had my first visit to Cougar Mountain today to do an easy recovery run.  Yesterday James and I ran at Eagle Creek near Cascade Falls, Oregon.  We ran a loop of about 24 miles through waterfalls, a swamp, up to a lookout, and back through the woods (run report to come).  Despite the relatively short distance yesterday, my legs felt tired today so a one hour run was about the right length to loosen up my legs and do some sightseeing.  Here are some pictures from my soggy, dark run.

"Million Dollar View" on Cougar Mountain

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Night Running on Whidbey

I did my second night run of the autumn tonight.  Wow, it's hard to get motivated after a day of work, but having friends come along helps.  Nick and I did a 7 mile loop on the road with our head lamps.  I am now labeled the dentist by Nick. Halfway through I was a merely a receptionist at the dentist's office but by the end I was the full on dentist, making him answer questions while he's trying to get a breath!  I think he was saying that I was running him too hard. If you ask him I think he'll say he had fun anyway!

Join us every Thursday at 8 PM at the Whidbey Children's Theater on 3rd and Anthes.  We'll do a 7-12 mile run rain or moon.  Bring headlamp and reflective gear.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pictures from the First Winthrop Road Marathon

I was lucky enough to volunteer at the first Winthrop Road Marathon at the end of September.  What a spectacular event put on by Rainshadow Running.  The race starts at the edge of the Pasayten Wilderness in the Okanogan National Forest and follows the Chewuch River to the town of Winthrop.  The course loses 1800 feet of elevation and only gains 250 feet, making it a potentially fast course, and is a Boston Marathon qualifier.  Finishers were treated to lunch at Carlos Mexican Restaurant in downtown Winthrop, a sheriff badge-shaped finisher's medal, massages by Alison Hanks LMP, ice cream vouchers from Sheri's Sweet Shop, and a beer at the finish line donated by the Old Schoolhouse Brewery.  Top age division winners received handmade mugs from a local artist.
Here are some pictures from the race:
finisher medals
 Click on "read more" to finish article

Monday, October 18, 2010

Perfect Day for Mapping at Deception Pass

James and I ran about 15 miles of trails at Deception Pass State Park Saturday for a mapping expedition.  Deception Pass is at the North end of Whidbey Island, Washington.  The trails boast amazing views of Deception Pass bridge, rocky slopes descending into the sea, beaches, and magical forest trails.  With rainshadow type terrain, madrones, grassy knolls, and rolling hills the trails are optimal for runners.  Part of the trail system on Bowman Hill climbs .8 miles to a lookout with incredible views of Whidbey Island, the Olympic Mountains, Cornet Bay, Bowman Bay, Similk Bay, and Fidalgo Island.  Washington State Parks describes the park in this excerpt from their website:

Deception Pass State Park is a 4,134-acre marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline, and 33,900 feet of freshwater shoreline on three lakes. Rugged cliffs drop to meet the turbulent waters of Deception Pass. The park is outstanding for breath-taking views, old-growth forests and abundant wildlife.

Visit the park's website for a complete map of trails and campgrounds:
 Starting out the run at cranberry Lake, West side of Whidbey Island

CLICK on "read more" to see more pictures

27 mile Trail Run in the North Cascades: Devils Junction to Canyon Creek

Here's a fun trail run: take a boat from Ross Lake via the Philosophizing Captain Luke to Devil's Junction.  Run the first 6 miles gaining 4,500 feet and reaching almost 7,000 feet to Devil's Dome, descend the dome into a snowy cold valley with icy rivers.  Ascend again.  Descend again.  Ascend again to almost 7,000 feet.  Run the last 7 miles (mostly downhill and flat to Canyon Creek.  Whew.  What a run!  The views were beyond incredible.  The climbs were steep, snowy, rocky, icy, and slow.  I mentioned a few times too many, "This must be the last climb," um, nope!  Prompting us to come up with some phrases to never say on a run, lest you bring the wrath of the trail running gods:

This has to be the last hill
It's all downhill from here
There will be more water after this stream
I'm almost back to the trail head
I can leave this jacket in the car
I won't need these gels
Couldn't get any wetter, colder, rockier, windier, harder, steeper....than this
(any other ideas people?)

What we expected to be lightly rolling terrain after mile 6 was actually a series of climbs and descents.  Not rolling, more like spiking.  Yet, it was definitely worth the effort.  If you want to try this trail, give yourself extra time to complete the run, pick a sunny day and run it before the snow comes, sometime in October or November.  We had a mostly light dusting of snow on some of the North slopes and a lot of ice in the valleys in October this year (the 17th).   Here are some pictures from the run. 
Leaving the Ross Lake Parking lot, taking the trail to the "ferry"

William and James waiting for the ferry, Ross Lake

Views from the lake
 Click on "read more" to see more pictures!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

40 mile Trail Run in the Pasayten Wilderness

I did an incredible 40 mile run in the Pasayten wilderness, about 30 miles North of Winthrop, WA.   The fog and clouds cleared about 6 miles into the run and we had magnificent views of mountain passes, fire charred forests, and autumn touched trees with leaves of all shades of yellow and red.  Most 40 mile runs would not have been worth the effort after only getting 2 hours of sleep the night before and having done a 14 miler on Saturday, but this one was different.  This route was definitely worth the extra effort!  It was the last 5 miles out, from mile 15 to 20 and around 7,000 to 8,000 feet that we emerged into an open expanse of alpine meadows.  The terrain became rocky and otherworldly with blackened rocks, craggy peaks and at the very top, a view of Cathedral Lake, Pasayten wilderness and mountains, and the Canadian border!

The run began at Andrews Creek Trail.  5.5 miles out we turned onto another trail and the run began its gradual but brutal climb upward to cathedral peak, although we stopped just short of cathedral peak. Instead we stopped at Amphitheater Mountain, approximately 20 miles from the trail head.  Pure bliss to see the views at 8,000 feet in the wilderness with James and William!
Click on "read more" to finish the article

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Track Workout Wednesdays on Whidbey

As it gets darker in the evenings the track is a great place to take your run.  On Whidbey, the high school track is pretty lit up from the parking lot, so you won't even need a head lamp.  Let's do track workouts at the South Whidbey High School on Wednesday evenings from 5:45 to 7:15.  I'll be there starting next Wednesday October 20th.  I will be doing 400 and 800 meter repeats, with short jogging or walking breaks between each repeat.  For the most part my 400 and 800s will be at my goal race pace for the 5K with some all out sprints as well. 

Note: I may not be there every Wednesday, so if you want to confirm whether it's one of those weeks, email or call me: or 360-720-8369.  Hope to see you there! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

I haven't forgotten

OK, so even the bloggiest bloggers like me get behind in their blog posts.  I owe all of you a race report on the Winthrop Road Marathon and the 40 mile trail fun run from this past weekend.  I promise.  It's coming.  Just wanted to put it in writing.  So hold tight and check back soon.  Until then, I leave you with a little taste...
Holding up the clouds in the Pasayten Wilderness, Windy Pass, 10-10-10
James DeSalvo, first finisher! Winthrop Road Marathon 9/26/10
Race director James Varner congratulates Jennifer Yogi, first female finisher in the Winthrop Road Marathon

Mapping Trails in the Okanogan

James and I went for a run in the Okanogan National Forest near Twisp, WA on Saturday with GPS to map some trails and as a warm up for a 40 miler on Sunday (details to come).  The weather was wet, foggy, and cold in the mountains.  The route we took started at 6,000+ feet and reached 7,861 feet.  I set a new record for myself: the highest elevation I have run up to.  You won't hear me complaining about 5,000 feet now!  Several of the races I have done this year reach 5,000 feet and at that elevation I notice a little more heaviness in my legs, mild lightheadedness, and heavier breathing.  I'm not sure if I can attribute this to the elevation entirely, partly due to the length of the races (50K to 50 miles) and the mileage I am at when I reach that elevation.  At White River 50 mile trail race runners reach 5,000+ feet at Sun Top, 37 miles into the race.  So is it the distance and its toll on the body or the elevation or both?  In my case I think it is both.  Time to toughen up!
Click on "read more" to finish the article

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thursday Night Runs on Whidbey

Bring your headlamps, reflective gear, and a sense of adventure! We will meet in Langley at the Whidbey Children's theater on Anthes starting at 8 PM on Thursdays.  Runs will be from 7-12 miles or longer is always a possibility.  I'd love to get a whole group of people together for the runs.  It will be more fun with more people!  Runs will be mostly on the road, but we might get adventurous and take some trails.  Rain or, um, starry night!  Let me know if you are interested.

Long Fun Run in the Pasayten Wilderness Sunday!

picture courtesy
Join us for a long run Sunday, 35-40 miles, much of it 5,000 feet elevation, up to 7,000 feet, for more info visit Also checkout the National Forest website: 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Inaugural Orcas Island Triple Ripple Trail Running Festival

Doe bay, looking out from the Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island
First things first: what a wonderful weekend of racing on magical Orcas Island.  The Triple Ripple race series was a well organized effort by Susannah Beck and her crew.  This race is definitely on my radar for next year.  I highly recommend participating in all three of the races.  The weekend consisted of three trail races in two days.  On Saturday a 4 mile around the lake in the morning and a 10K uphill (climbing Mt. Constitution) in the afternoon.  Sunday morning was the 30K.  The 30K course traversed many of the trails around Moran State Park including a steep climb up Mt. Pickett and Mt. Constitution.  Each race was challenging in its own way and then there was the added challenge of doing all three!  I was surprised to find that I enjoyed each race more than the one before it.  The week previous to the race I played with the idea of only doing one of the three races (the 30K of course) as the blisters on my arch from Cle Elum 50K were still pretty painful, especially on my right foot. 
Here's the blister from Cle Elum 50K
James checks out the map at Deception Pass, Whidbey Island
The weekend fun began on Friday with a 4 mile run at Deception Pass Park. James Varner, of Rainshadow Running, wanted to check out the trails for a possible future race and since we missed the 3:30 ferry and had to wait for the 6:30, a run sounded pretty sweet. 
Candice, James, and Laura on the Ferry to Orcas Friday night
We got to Camp Moran after dark and were still able to check in and get our race numbers and packets.  Time to set up tent and get some sleep before the big weekend.
James gets some work done while we wait for our lunch
The Four Mile Around Mountain Lake
After some breakfast James and I headed up to Mountain Lake for the 4 mile trail race.  Of all three races, this was the race I was not really looking forward to.  I haven't done any short races this year, other than a 12K in May, and I felt a little out of my element.  Despite my apprehension, the race was a good challenge and I enjoyed how quickly I was finished.  In fact, I think I will enjoy doing more 5K distances in the near future.

James, Laura and I had lunch at the Doe Bay Resort on Saturday between races then went for a soak in their three hot tubs.  Each tub was a different temperature ranging from hot to cool.  The resort is a short drive from Camp Moran.  It is located right on the water with incredible views.  A spectacular place to rest and enjoy some food and sunshine.  Soon it was time to head back to Camp Moran for the uphill 10K race.

10K Uphill (Climbing Mt. Constitution) 2,497 feet elevation climb in 6 miles

The 10K was really fun and rewarded runners with incredibly clear views of the sound, San Juan Islands and Mt. Baker.  The race began at Camp Moran and wound around Cascade Lake then began the climb up to Mt. Constitution.  The ascent hit my legs hard at the start, but by mid-way up I was feeling pretty damn good.  Breathing fully and pushing uphill felt like wonderful agony.  Because it was only 6 miles I kept pushing myself to go faster.  It is pretty hard to bonk on such a short race (at least for me anyway).  But I was keeping it in the back of mind that I still had a 30K race the next morning and so I held back a little more than I would have otherwise.  Perhaps that was unnecessary, nonetheless it was hard not to consider saving something for Sunday's race.  I was surprised that I felt so good for each race.  I think that starting with low mileage races and working up to the 20 miler kept my legs feeling fresh. Well, that and some really great company.

Post race Laura Houston gave a talk on Chi Running (a big help it turned out for the 30K the next day, thanks Laura you are awesome!!!) and there was a yummy dinner and beer at the camp prepared by Jen Vollmer and staff.  Following the dinner was live music and dancing until about 9 PM, all of which I partook in of course.  At that point Laura, James and I headed back to the Doe bay Resort to get in some more soaking in the hot tubs.

30K Moran Sate Park: 4,600 feet elevation gain/loss and letting go of old ideas...
This race marked a significant change in the way I race.  I consider 50K my usual racing distance.  My race strategy up to this point has been to hold back a good deal during the first half of the 50K to make sure I don't use up all my energy.  An exception to that rule being downhills, which I enjoy speeding down.  The 30K taught me that I can have a lot of energy and keep up a faster overall pace.  I came to the race thinking how much shorter the 30K was than the 50K so I pushed my self harder for the first 10 miles and continued to keep up the quicker pace.  Instead of feeling tired and unmotivated like I feared I might for the second half of the race, I felt warmed up and energized.  It helped that the second half of the race was mostly downhill and flat and that my legs felt great- no significant pain.  The first 8-10 miles has almost 4,600 feet of elevation gain, making it the tougher half of the race.  The hills are where you can really lose time if you aren't careful.  My persistence in the first half paid off and I didn't lose too much time climbing up Pickett and Mt. Constitution.   

The race had a lot of Aid stations for such a short distance.  This allowed me to take just one hand water bottle and only two GUs.  I grabbed two more GUs at each of the Aid Stations (I think there were 5 aid stations, one of which we ran by twice) and refilled my water bottle a few times.  The GUs helped me keep my energy up. I have been avoiding them this last summer thinking that they might give me a stomach ache like the nasty one I had at Chuckanut Mountain 50K in March.  Today though, no tummy problems, just lots of quick energy.

Overall I enjoyed the 30K the most of all the races.  Somehow the 4 miler and the 10K Uphill made the 30K that much better!  If you have just the right amount of crazy and physical ability to run all three races, do it!!  With each race you get to know the other runners better and you might just have an "ah-ha" moment in relation to your racing strategy like I did.  I have a lot more confidence to push myself in the longer races.  I can also see how doing shorter (10K to 30K distance, maybe even 5K) races will improve my 50K times as I become more comfortable racing faster.  
Preparing some snacks for runners in the kitchen
The rowdy table, clockwise from left to right: Joseph (1st place man in series), Christy, Candice (2nd place woman in series), James (4th place man in series), and Willie (3rd place man in series).
Laura Houston teaches runners about Chi Running
Morning of the 30K James determines that I might need some duct tape on my shoes which have been ripping along the sole on both sides.  I took his advice and they held together for the 30K much to my relief. 
here's another great technique for blisters that helped my feet survive the 10K and 30K (thanks again for the idea James!): small bandade over my blister then a generous piece of duct tape over that.  The duct tape kept the shoes from rubbing on the blister and making it worse.  It worked so well that my blister wounds didn't get irritated at all.  Pretty impressive. 
My shoes with duct tape along the inside of the shoe kept the side rips from getting bigger.  Time to get new shoes...
Top 3 ladies for the 30K: left to right Rebecca (2nd place), Lindsey (1st place), and me (3rd place).  We finished within 10 minutes of each other.
James prepares to ice his legs in the lake post 30K
soaking in Cascade Lake
Post 30K meal: What a spread!  I'm very thankful for the delicious post race soup, salad, rice, and dessert, thank you Triple Ripple!  
Coffee while waiting for the ferry off the island.  I was feeling pretty sleepy at this point.  My legs felt good though.