Thursday, February 28, 2008

No pain, no gain

Lately I have been feeling lazy. With my back issues and shin splints my training has been off and on. I also haven't been out in the mountains much. So on Wednesday to celebrate my first full day of being 32 and to honor my dads birthday I did something different this morning before work. I started my spring peak training.

When I was growing up my dad had a favorite phrase to get us through a hard time when training for any sport. I would complain that my knee hurt after a softball game or that I didn't want to run and he would say these four words, "No pain, no gain." These four words either pissed me off or motivated me depending on what kind of mood I was in. But now that I am older and wiser, it kind of makes sense. And I find these words running through my head a lot since I have moved to Alaska.

Climbing peaks is an unequivocal demonstration of this phrase. During every difficult hike to the summit I have thoughts of turning back. Sometimes it is hard to keep pushing yourself to go up when down is right there, and so easy. Those four words run through my head continuously as I push through the most difficult, most painful sections of a climb. My legs and my lungs burn and gravity seems to be pushing me farther and farther away from the goal. But the prize at the top is almost always worth the suffering. Especially in Alaska. There are great views of the Chugach Mountains from town. But the sight from the tops of any of the peaks on the front range open up a view into the unlimited possibilities for climbing peaks in these mountains, and not to mention it is beautiful.

Even a tiny one that is not even considered a peak, like Little O'Malley. Brian and woke up this morning and headed out with Niko to go climb this little bump before lunchtime. I have to admit we struggled a bit even with this short hike. Questions about why I decided this was a good idea, ran through my head with the usual curses. We haven't been hiking much this winter so we are pretty weak. But when we arrived at the top the questions of why we were doing this faded away to questions about which one we would do next. I started a list in my head for the summer.

Regardless if I qualify for the Crow Pass race this summer, I still have Mount Marathon and I plan on doing most if not all of the other Grand Prix mountain races. So I started training for elevation this week. I'm going to try and keep track of my full elevation gain from now until the end of the summer, so here goes.

Wednesday we climbed little O'Malley peak, elevation gain of about 1200. Starting very small, but I will work my way taller and faster as the spring goes on. Thinking about this makes my back ache, but then I remember those four words...

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The day and night of 1000 dumplings

Without warning, my back pain came back in full force Saturday morning when I woke up. I had to skip the race. I was having a hard time just standing. I don't really have anything else to say about it, except, this sucks. It's kind of strange the way it keeps coming and going. Today I feel fine, but I was not going to push it.

I found out yesterday that I can sign up for Crow Pass as long as the race is not full, even up to a few days before the race. So my backup plan of running the Mayor's half in June, might work. If I don't qualify in May (it's not looking good at this point), then I can train for another month and a half for Mayors and try to get faster.

But for now, it's really out of my control. My back will dictate when I can get back to training, and when I do I will have to be careful about not pushing too hard.

On the lighter side of things... Last night Kim had a Vietnamese New Year, Night of 1000 dumplings, Old time music party at her cabin. I had agreed to be one of her sous chefs and to help her make 1000 dumplings. I really had no idea what it would take to make 1000 dumplings with 4 people in one day. I arrived at her cabin at 11am to chaos. She handed me a glass of sake and put me to work.

We chopped, mixed, folded and steamed for 8 hours straight. By the time we were done cooking, myself and the other two sous chefs, Heather and Ken, were a bit tired, bitter, and covered in pork dumpling juice. But it was nothing that a few beers and a few dozen Old time musicians couldn't cure.

I would guess about 100 guests came and went throughout the night and the festivities extended into the wee hours of the morning. All in all I have to say it was one of the best parties I have been to in Alaska. They do know how to party here!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Back in the game

My back pain is gone and I'm ready to race. Tomorrow starts the beginning of the Fur Rondy in Anchorage. It's an annual winter festival that started about 70 years ago to celebrate the Miners and Trappers coming to Anchorage. Saturday morning is the Frostbite Footrace, a 5K that accompanies a kid's fun run. It's not a super exciting race, as we will just be running around downtown Anchorage twice. And there is certainly no chance of Frostbite because it will be in the 30s, but it's a chance for me to hike up my motivation and get back in the game.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Back pain, brain pain

I'm back and ready to blog...

It looks like my goal of a 1:45 half marathon may be squashed. I came out of the chiropractor today at 5pm wondering when I would be able to run without pain again. About a month ago when I was in Ouray I started to get the feeling of shin splints while running, so I immediately backed off for a week. I ran again a week later and the same pain started back up.

So I took two more weeks off. Then I did something really stupid. Instead of easing back into running with a short run, I ran for two hours in the snow. That run occurred on a Sunday and I was still sore that Thursday, four days later, and with some new sensations of impending injuries. I had pain in my back, thigh and the side of my knee. They all seemed to be connected.

Then last week I was walking back to work from the coffee shop and slipped on the ice. My feet flew out from under me, my coffee flew up in the air and I landed on my bum. Hard. Ever since then my back has not been right.

I went to my magical chiropractor, Dr. Dan, who told me it wasn't serious but I seem to have twisted my pelvis and my knee was out of line. He doesn't know if happened as a result of running or from my fall. My knees are always out of line. So he adjusted me and gave me some muscle stem therapy and told me that it would be fine in a few days.

So I don't know how the whole 1:45 half marathon thing is gonna go, but if I don't make it in Vancouver, I have a back up plan. I can always try again at the Mayor's Marathon in June. I can either do the half and try for 1:45 again. Or do the full marathon and try for under 4 hours. For some reason the full marathon seems more doable. The only problem with that is that it's three weeks before Crow Pass and I'm pretty sure my body can't recover that fast yet.

On top of all this I have been working like a dog. I guess I deserve it for thinking I could take a month off. :) Today after I left the chiropractor, I went out to walk with Niko, when my boss called and said I that I need to fix a bug immediately. So I just spent another evening working. I love my job, but these long hours are killing me. I spent 8 hours working on Saturday and Sunday as well. My head hurts.

I found out about this Yoga for Athletes class being held in Anchorage. I think I need to start going next week for stress relief.

Okay, enough whining and let's try and think good thoughts...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Finally some time

I finally have some time to sit down and write in this blog. This past month has been hectic and this is the first day that I actually have nothing to do in quite in awhile.

I have been working non stop since I got back from Hawaii. The schedule for the project that I'm working on has been slipping lately, as most software projects do, but this one is ridiculous. We just are not given enough time to get things done, so we end up cutting corners and working till 5am. Yes folks, for the first time in my life, I stayed at work till 5am on Friday night. Then I got up at Noon on Saturday and had to go back in.

This is not my style. Honestly, I love the work I do, but I really work to make money so that I can enjoy the other aspects of my life. Especially in Alaska. I did not come to Alaska to work. I came to play. When you have no time to enjoy the other things what's the point? I know, I know I just spent a month on vacation, I'll stop whining.

Anyway I have been busy. Last night we had a Wine Tasting and Silent Auction organized by my Team in Training teammates to raise more money. I think I will be at about $2000 after this. Just $2500 more to go. The Wine Tasting was a hit, with about 200 people showing up.

As you may have read, I started to get shin splints when I was in Colorado, so my running has been minimal. I have had a stress fracture before and I know it can turn into nightmare if you don't stop running for a little while. I have had no pain for about a week now so I'm going to go out for a long run today, despite the fact that it is about minus ten degrees.

The transition from Maui back to Anchorage was a tough one. I consider myself a winter person, love the snow, love the cold, but there is something about surfing in 75 degree water in the 80 degree sun and then hopping over to the bar for a Mai Tai and some delicious Ahi tuna sashimi that appealed to me for a moment. I feel like someday when I am over these winter sports, maybe I will become a surfing bum and live somewhere tropical. We took off from the airport in Maui in 82 degrees and stepped off the plane in Anchorage to -16 degrees, and it hurt. These negative temperatures have been keeping up all week. This is not typical of Anchorage. Most of the winter months are spent int the teens and 20s. Temperatures this cold no longer feel cold, they just feel painful.

But when it is this cold it is usually because it is clear and it has been just beautiful. Atleast, it seems that way from what I can see from my office window. And the light, the light is glorious. We are up to 8-ish hours of light a day and gaining 5 minutes a day. Today some clouds are starting to roll in so I think warmer temperatures are in our future.

Next week I'll be ready to ice climb again. I would like to hit Hunter Creek and also go back to Eklutna Canyon to lead Ripple again. Also, March 14th-16th are the potential dates for the ice pixie event in Valdez. It will be interesting to see if any of the skills I learned in Ouray have stuck with me. Being the nerd that I am, I actually wrote down all of the things I learned in Ouray that I felt were important so that I could work on them when I got back.

It's good to be back!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


No explanation needed.

Monday, February 4, 2008


Brian and I spent 8 days on the island of Maui this past week. Here are some of the best shots.

We saw about 10 rainbows a day...

Red Sand Beach...

Climbing around on Lava rock...

Crystal clear water...

Red sand, black sand...

The Hana Highway...