General running information and thoughts from a guy who has gone around the track too many times.

Tag Archives: Sun Mountain

In a few days we will be celebrating the birth of another year.  Oh Joy!  I like New Years, I really do.  I set all these cool goals and aspirations that I want to focus on and then, after a few weeks, give up on them.  I return to my normal way of life.  For example one goal has been to get up at 5:00 am every morning and running for two hours.  Sounds good to me, until 5:00 am and then nothing sounds good except staying in bed.  Normal people do that; stay in bed that is.

I always start the year with goals of races/events I want to participate in.  How many pounds I want to lose (same pounds each and every year).  I write down how I want to be a better person by not walking slowly across the street when I know a car and driver are in a hurry.  I vow not to place any regular apples in the Organic produce section.  Oh yeah.  I can be evil.

Just last week I was in West Seattle to spend an early Christmas weekend with my son and his family.  I was about to share some great thought of mine, when I received that “don’t say it” look from my daughter-in-law.  The mother of my three grandchildren.   Apparently, last summer, I told my 4 year old grandson a story about how I was trapped in an elevator.  (I thought the story very funny).  Apparently he, until last Sunday, wouldn’t step foot in any elevator, even if his most wonderful mother was trying to handle three kids and numerous sacks of groceries.  Last Sunday we took him with us up and down an elevator to ease his mind.  Thank God we didn’t get stuck.  That would have been bad.  Really bad.

I promise to watch what I say around my grandchildren.  Like that is going to happen.

Back to the New Year.

I have some things that are on my list, like running some type of adventure event once a month.  Yes, getting up at 5:00 am to run does count.  I want to run Nookachamps in January, Orcas Island 25K in February.  March is up in the air.  April will be the Yakima River Skyline 50K – like last year’s spanking wasn’t enough.  May will be the Sun Mountain 50 miler -my goal is to finish in daylight.  Also in May I will be participating in the MS Run Across the US – more on that later.  I also want to run around Mt. St. Helen and Mt. Rainer.  Of course, there will be many Doughnut Runs.

What are you planning on running?

Whatever you do, have fun and be safe.

Have a great New Year!


ps – meet at 11:30 on New Years Eve at San Juan Fitness for a Run In The New Year Fun.  No fee.

Here as some of the things happening in the Run Happy Run Far world.

  • The Roche Harbor Resort Doughnut Marathon continues to be the most visited page.  Many thanks to the link by Marathon Manics and, of course, Facebook friends for checking it out.  Remember, it’s September 16!
  • Cascade Crest 100 Miles is this weekend, meaning that as I write this at 8:16 pm (Pacific time), runners are settling in for the a night of running.  Run well and safe!
  • James Varner is having a “James’ Birthday Beer Mile” on September 5 – celebrating his birthday.  The “Beer Mile” is a race held on a track where one consumes a beer before each lap.  Should be interesting.  No beer bongs allowed.  Go James Go.
  • Speaking of James Varner and Rainshadow Running, he opened registration for two events, Deception Pass 25/50K and Mt. Spokane 25/50K.  I’m thinking Mt. Spokane.
  • Terry Sentinella and Kevin Douglas completed the Trans-Rockies this week.  From Terry’s Facebook (TR was a tough mother!!! I was not ready to run speed so soon after Badwater. The distance wasn’t an issue just moving fast! I did absolutely love the course, run a little, drink beer,eat a lot, sleep in a tent, and repeat for 6 days. Lot’s of fun!).  Good Job!
  •  The Loop 8.8 K was held on the 18th.  Results can be found here.
  • Doughnut Runs are still every Sunday.  Come join us!

As for me, this week I started training for next year’s Sun Mountain 50 Miler.  9 months of pure running joy.  Stay tuned.

I have been challenged by Scott Jurek, one of the greatest ultramarathoners we have seen in the last 20 years or so.  Scott didn’t slap my face  with a pair of synthetic leather gloves, then offer me a choice of swords or pistols.  No, nothing like that.  His challenge was more subtle.

You see, Jurek’s new book, Eat & Run – My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, authored with Steve Friedman and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, contained a challenge.  Maybe not every reader would find it, but it spoke to me.  I knew that Scott had come out with a new book on eating and running.  It was on my list of books to read.  A week ago, I received a copy from the publishers.  I started reading it when I returned from Winthrop, where I had just completed the Sun Mountain 50 Miler.  I was surprised to learn that this book was not just about eating; although there are cool recipes at the end of each chapter.  This book is a honest look into the life of someone I admire.

For the past two decades Scott Jurek has ruled the ultras.  He won the Crown Jewel, the Western States 100, seven times.  He has won Hardrock, Badwater, Sparatathon, and many others. He set the U.S. record in the World Championships 24 hour run, placing second overall.  He ran 167.5 miles that day in France.  Scott traveled to Mexico to run against the Tarahumara people, which Christopher McDougall detailed in his best seller, Born to Run.  Scott is having an amazing career.  He is living the life that so many of us dream of living.

The thing is, Scott and I are a lot alike, at least in my mind we are.  He is tall and thin.  I’m tall and chubby.  He is from Minnesota. I am from Wyoming.  His father had issues with him and his mom died younger than she should have.  Ditto.  He use to wear his curly hair long. I currently wear my curly hair long.  He is a runner and I’m a runner.  He is a vegan. I eat animals that are vegan.  He is fast and I am so-so.  He is sponsored by Brooks Running and I am a member of the Brooks Running Inspire Daily program.  He designed the Brooks Pure Grit, my favorite running shoe.  How cool.  He lived in Seattle.  I live on San Juan Island.  I actually met Scott before a trail race on Orcas Island in 2010.  Scott finished well and placed 3rd.  I tripped and crashed.  By the time I finished, Scott had a hot shower, massage, two beers and a big bowl of vegan soup.

The point I am trying to make is Scott is just a normal guy.  He grew up like most of us did, went to public school, etc.  He worked hard for what he wanted and what he has accomplished.  He probably was born with some nice genes, but genes just don’t develop on their own.  Training and hard work are required.  Scott arrived at this point in time by doing the work.  Nobody could do it for him.  Greatness takes much effort, daily.

I enjoyed reading Jurek’s book.  It is well written and it kept me interested.  His words inspired me.  I am looking forward to trying some of the included recipes; such as the Minnesota Winter Chili (page 70), the 8 Grain Strawberry Pancakes (page 79), and plan to start my day with a smoothie.

I feel challenged to do more with my life.  To lose the weight I have always wanted to lose.  To look at my food differently and to use food to properly fuel my life.  To run those races that I have dreamed about.  To speed up.  To live my life as I truly want to live.  Eat & Run has inspired me to dig down deep and push myself towards the goals that I want to accomplish.

I highly recommend this book.  Read it and  listen for your own challenge, then do something about it.

Run Happy, Run Hard


Taper.  I really don’t like taper weeks.  I feel like I should be running a ton of miles, but the voice of reason is to rest, avoid injuries and attend to the fine details of the plan.  Come to think of it, I need to order some GU.

Last week I was having an issue with my feet; soreness on the pad behind the big toes on both feet.  I think I have a handle on that and have run over 10 miles with mild tenderness.  Last week there was a point where I thought it best that I not run the 50 miler.  As of May 10, the 50 miler is still my goal and target.

I chatted with James Varner, Race Director of Sun Mountain, and he described the course in more detail which took away some of my stress.  (Yes, this is the same guy who said the Yakima Skyline Rim 50K was “a little rocky”.)  He explained that I need to  conserve energy by walking the hills and then run everything else.  This seems like a good idea to me, but my in my training I ran all my hills, even the steep ones.  Ok, maybe I did walk a couple of really steep hills, but not very often.

The thing about this 50 miler is:  I have never ran this type of event before.  The training approach is so outside my knowledge and experience.  I feel like a child starting first grade.  What do I do and how do I do it?  One could go on-line and find a million training programs for marathon distances and below.  Try to find a training program for a Ultra and you’ll find a picture of a tumbleweed blowing across the wasteland.  I have been training as I see best, but, truth is, I really don’t know what in the hell I am doing.  Long runs, yes.  Time on my feet, yes.  Speed running, yes.  Eating on the run, yes.  Setting a broken arm while continuing to run, still working on that one.  I only have two arms.  This 50 mile run is such a different beast; you train different and you have to think different in order to finish.

Ultramarathon Champion, Scott Jurek, has written ” Listen to and manage the body (hydrate, eat, technique, etc.), and when you think you have nothing left, dig deeper!”  I suppose you could rephrase this to “eat, drink and be merry”, but I don’t think that is the message.  Jurek’s simple statement is ultramarathoning.  It’s all about managing who we are and what we are truly capable of.  Putting one foot ahead of the other and giving the body what it needs to hydrate and nourish it’s self.

Now, let me see if I can do all that in a rapid motion.


Ok, maybe this title is a tad strong.  I have had a couple of days to recover from the hardest run I think I have ever undertaken in my many years of running.  I wish I could say that I kicked butt at this year’s Yakima Skyline Rim 50K, but all I can say is that I had my butt kicked.  It’s crazy too.  I mean, I went into this run feeling strong, rested and confident.  What I found was a course that climbed to the heavens but was hotter than hell.  The views were fantastic, the aid stations complete and the other runners better than nice.

What kicked me?  Well, the first spanking was mile 2 & 3, where we climbed some 2,000+ feet, straight up.  This wasn’t one of those switch backs that winds up the side of a mountain.  This is like in the famous miner climb in the Klondike region of Alaska.

Miners climbing

See the miners braving the cold climbing this mountain?

Runners heading up the mountain

See the runners braving the heat climbing this mountain?

See how both the miners and the runners all look like ants, making their way up the trail?  See where I am going with this.  I am not going to bring up the fact that many of those miners died a most horrible death.
Once at the top, one could see all the very cool volcanoes that we have here in Washington and epic views of the Yakima River, which in this picture is way down where we started.

Do you see the river way the frack down there?

Candice Burt, co-race director, was up on top taking pictures.  I begged her to allow me to drop out right there, but she told me that I had to keep going.  She did take a picture of me, but as you can see, I wasn’t smiling.

Clark at the top of the first climb

As soon as I caught my breath and felt as though my heart wasn’t going to explode I began to run, yes, run,  across the skyline and around the rim.  The heat of the day was building, which was adding to my challenge.  About 5 miles or so I headed down some steep terrain to the valley floor and across a most ancient or nearly ancient lake bed.  Soon, I was climbing again.  I, at this time, was running with another runner from the Island, Kristi, we started up another very steep, 2,500 feet or so.  After about a million false summits, we finally crested the top and were notified by a trail volunteer that we need to go even further up to the second aid station at 10.5 miles.  Once there we met our friend Susan, who was volunteering.  She ensured that we had all the fluids and food that we needed and then kicked us back down the hill.

Kristi and Susan at 10.5 mile aid station.

Before the start of the race, I asked James Varner, Race Director and all around nice guy, which Brooks trail shoes, the Pure Grit or the Cascadia would work best.  He thought about it for a second then said “well, it’s a little rocky, so maybe the Cascadia would be the better choice.”  As I was heading down from aid station 10.5 to the main trail I thought about what James had said.  “A little rocky” would be like saying Bill Gates had “a little money”.  There were rocks of all sizes and shapes, some hiding rattlesnakes.  I wore my Cascadias, which did a good job in protecting my foot, but I did catch a rock and bruise the outside of my right foot.  I was now running/walking with a slight limp – sort of like Chester from the Gun Smoke days.  Maybe not that bad, but close.  I was also having some stomach issues as well.  Might have been the heat, might have been a hydration issue, but whatever the reason my tummy was not happy.

Kristi took off like a bunny and I began working my way to the turn around at mile 15.6 and it’s cut off of 4.5 hours (this event was an out and back).  I kept looking at my watch and soon realized that I was not going to make the cut-off time, which was totally OK with me as this race was a planned training run for the my 50 miler quest at Sun Mountain on May 20.  With this relazation, I backed off and took it easy.  I enjoyed the sun, took in the views and encouraged the other runners who were on their way back to the finish line.

Although I knew I would not be finishing this year event, I was one happy camper because I knew that I didn’t have to run back the way I just came.  All those steep climbs and descents would need to be dealt with in reverse and I was happy not to have to do that.  About a mile from the 15.6 aid station I was meet by some running buddies heading back as sweepers and by my wife, Shelly, who was volunteering at the aid station.  Together we walked to the 15.6 aid station.   When reaching  the turn around, I was met by Kristi and some other runners who didn’t make the cutoff and were waiting for rides back to the start.  An hour later we were back where we started and drinking beer.  Ah, tasty cold and refreshing beer.  James sure knows how to put on a nice post run feast.

Nice Folks at Aid Station 15.6 - The Turn Around or Head for Home

Here are some things I learned from this experience:

  • Just because I have been doing some serious training, it does not mean that I am ready for any race/event.  I was not physically prepared to tackle the Yakima Climbs.
  • Heat.  Training for heat is important, which means I would need to travel away from the Island to do so.
  • Really study the course maps with elevation.  I didn’t.  If I had I would have noticed the 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000, and 3500 numbers along side the graph.
  • I also need to figure out my tummy issues.

I would do this event again.  In fact I am already thinking about next year.  In order to run it, I would need to travel to places, like Yakima, to get the serious hills training in.

Snake Photo by Candice Burt

We were warned that snakes could be out on the course, but I didn't see any. This photo taken by Candice Burt.

Run Happy, Run Hard and stay cool.


I have 30 days until Sun Mountain 50 miler is here.

After this Saturday’s event, Yakima Skyline Rim 50K, I will be back to running twice a week long runs.  Plus stretching my weekend longest run up to 35 or 40 miles from it’s 31 miles.  This is the plan I have  been following since I made the mental commitment to run 50 miles.  Since February 28 I have run a total of 10 runs of over 20 miles in length, 3 over 31.  I think I am heading in the right direction.

Shoes have been on my mind recently.  In determining which trail shoes I would wear, I have been alternating being Brooks Pure Grits and Brooks Cascadias.  Both are excellent shoes; although different in build.

The Pure Grits are a most favorite shoe of mine.  In a nutshell they are lightweight, have a 4mm heel to toe drop and have a wider toe box.  Running through the water is not an issue with these shoes as they quickly drain.  Not that I think I will have puddles on the Sun Mountain course, but . . . . one never knows.  Pure Grits just seem to fit me and understand my feet, well, I suppose as much understanding as a pair of shoes can understand.

The Cascadias were my number one trail shoe, until the Pure Grits landed on my feet.  These shoes have a higher, 11mm, heel to toe drop and a much more aggressive sole than the Grits.  They are a tad heavier and seem to have a snugger (not sure this is a true word or not) fit.  They feel fine, but, there is just something that bothers me.    The problem is, I just can’t put my finger or toe on it.

Ultramarathoner and champion, Scott Jurek (who helped develop both shoes for Brooks) spoke last Saturday in Seattle at the REI store.  I was not able to attend, but Laura Houston, Chi Running Instructor, was and asked Scott which shoe he would recommend.  His answer – the Cascadias.  His main point was that it takes time for the calf’s to adjust to running in a lower profile shoe, which I totally agree with.  The calfs need time to adjust for the lower heel drop or else it’s going to strain.  For me I have been running in the Grits since December.  I also have run in the Green Silence, which is a low profiled shoe, without any issues.  I’m not sure if Scott words of wisdom are for me; although, to be safe, I could just wear the Cascadias.

But, I am thinking of going with the Grits – because they are so darn comfortable.  My main worry is that they won’t be a shoe for the long haul of a 50 miler.  For this Saturday’s 50K, I am planning on running for 8 hours and wearing my Pure Grits.  We’ll see how they do.

Run Happy, Run Hard


ps:  The first running of the Boston Marathon was on April 19, 1897.  Happy Birthday Boston!


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