Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wasatch Back Relay

Last weekend was the Wasatch Back Relay. The WBR is a 178 mile relay race that begins in Logan, UT and ends in Park City, UT. It runs mostly on backroads through the Wasatch Range. Every year work sponsors a team of employees, this year they sponsored three. Each team is comprised of 12 runners (2 vans of 6) and each runner runs 3 different legs. The race started at 7:30 AM on Friday and it goes through the night and finishes Saturday morning/early afternoon. I was wicked stoked to be able to run this year. Last year the race was the same weekend that we were going to Lake Tahoe.

As I said, each team was split between two vans. As part of the fun, everyone decorates their van, usually with some sort of theme. Ours, of course, was a winter/gear theme. We had a dummy dressed up as a skier on top of the van (his name was Bill), snowflakes taped to the outside, and plenty of Goat stickers (as a side note, our van won the "Best Decorated Van" award). We pretty much lived in van for the next day and half. One of my favorite parts was driving the van. We would drive a little bit ahead of the runner and provide support (giving water or Gatorade when needed). Then take off down the road a mile or so and wait for the runner. The best part was that we had a megaphone. I love megaphones! The megaphone had a siren that we would sound when we were getting close to the runner so they'd know we were coming. It actually provided energy boosts as you knew your team is coming to cheer you on.

To change things up a bit this year, Jim, our CEO, decided that we would stick to our company motto, "We use the gear the we sell." Each person on the first team would have the opportunity to wear and run with gear. I will admit that at first I thought it was going to be lame but it turned out to be a really good time. We had a ton of gear for everyone to use. Being the first runner I had lucky opportunity to run with a kayak! I also took a paddle and wore a PFD. My first leg curved through central Logan to the south for about 5 miles. My van got lost so they missed the exchange, I kept running with the kayak and went for another mile, for 6 miles total pulling the kayak. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. On the flats and downhills the momentum of the kayak kept it up with me. It was on the uphills where the going got tough. Fortunately the first leg only had a couple hundred feet of elevation gain.

Pulling the kayak through the streets of LoganPulling the kayak through the streets of Logan

My second leg was at about 4:30 pm Friday afternoon. It was BLAZING hot! I'm not sure, but the temps were definitely in the upper 90s! My leg started at the lower lot of Snowbasin and basically ran down, to the south, towards I-84. The leg was 7.8 miles long, had total loss of 2000 vertical feet with vertical gain of about 400 ft. The leg was completely on asphalt (read ridiculously hot because it baked in the hot sun all day). There wasn't a single inch a shade, the sun was beating down, and it was hot! My team was wicked supportive. After the first two miles they started stopping about every half mile to one mile to give me refills. It was a good thing since my bottle was empty every single time. I would use the whole thing between drinking and squirting on myself! This was by far my toughest leg. You can see the map of the course here. Be sure to look at the elevation chart at the bottom of the page. For this leg I wore a climbing harness complete with quickdraws, belay device, and a rope. I also wore my climbing helmet.

Getting gear ready for the next leg.

My third leg started at about 1:30 AM Saturday morning. This leg provided a bit of relief as the temps were cool (about 60 or so) and it was relatively flat. For this leg I ran with a backpack. This leg was super rad. It started just outside Rockport Recreation Area (outside Kamas) and ran for 5.6 miles to Marion (almost to Kamas). It was just Kendall and I since everyone else was at Kendall's houose sleeping. There was no one else on the road except for Kendall (in the van), me, and a couple of cars. This was my first time running at night. It took some getting used to as all I could see was this five foot orb of light around me.

Our team finished around 11:00 AM Saturday morning. Keeping consistent with what we'd done all race, we all crossed the finish line with gear.

Crossing the finish line with gear.

It was one of the funnest races I've ran. I will definitely be signing up again next year. In total I ran about 19.4 miles! I was ridiculously sore for the next couple days but it was totally worth it! We still have a ton of pictures being compiled. Once I have all of them I will post again with a mini slide show of pictures of me, the team, the van, etc.

The whole team after the finish!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Power of Superglue

I have recently learned, first-hand, the power of superglue. In the past I've heard a lot of stories about people using super glue for first aid. Whether it's for cuts, scraps, etc. The most recently was from a co-worker. He uses superglue on the cracks that he gets on the backs of his heels.

I consistently get cracks in my heels all summer long. They are persistent and they can get to be very large and painful. Most of this could be prevented, I'm sure, by wearing shoes and socks every once in awhile. But hey, it's summer time, who needs shoes and socks?

Last week I got a pretty big crack in the back of my left heel (it happened to be right next to another crack that had just healed). I was sick of the stinging and the pain that I decided to give the superglue a whirl. To my surprise it worked wonders! It sealed up the crack so it didn't split more. Since it was sealed it didn't hurt and it healed super fast!

I was so impressed that I decided to try it out on another wound. Same foot, different end. After a run I noticed that the tip of the toe next to my pinky toe was hurting. I check it out and part of the nail had broken off (apparently I needed to cut my toenails) and the skin had pulled back a little from underneath my toenail. As we all know this hurts wicked bad. I thought it'd heal, but after about two weeks it still hurt and the "cut" was getting bigger and a little infected. I soaked my foot in the tub and scrubbed it with soap and a stiff bristled brush to clean it out (very painful yet very good for getting the infection out). After it had dried I dropped a bunch of superglue into and around the cut. It has now been about 5 days and it seems to be healing quite nicely! It doesn't hurt anymore, it isn't infected, and it seems to be getting better!

Needless to say, I am extremely happy and excited about my personal discovery of superglue for first aid. I will definitely be keeping a couple of small tubes around and handy. I fully recommend it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Am I a Hippy? - Part Three

Zach (my intern at work) seems to think so. We've had numerous discussions at work about what we do at night, music, dress, etc. I've given Zach a hard time on numerous occasions because he doesn't ever climb because he's "trying out the social scene" (to use his words). Apparently he's been trying out the social scene for awhile because another co-worker gives him a hard time for not skiing much last winter because "he was being social". He gives me a hard time about being a hippy because how I dress. It really isn't "hippy-ish" at all, just compared to how he dresses it is. He's more into the hip snow/skate scene.

The other day Zach said "I'm going to listen to a little 50 Cent". To which I replied "Yano, I don't think I've ever heard 50 Cent". His mouth opened a little and he stared at me for a second. I continue to say, "You see, you have mainstream music right here" while circling with my left hand off to the left, "and you have me" while circling with my right hand off to right. "I don't really listen to most of it because I think it sucks" (as most of you know I'm very opinionated about music). Zach's reply was "let me draw you something". He then proceeded to draw a diagram on his whiteboard. Here's a rendition of exactly what he drew:

After he drew the picture he then proceeded to explain it to me. "You see here on the left you 'society' or 'being social', you also have 'good dress', and 'good music'. Oh, what's that in the middle of all of those? That's right, it's 'Zach'. If you look way over here to the right you have 'Eric'. What's he surrounded by? Oh that's right, 'Hippie'". I laughed a lot.

I then took the whiteboard from him and made a slight alteration. I commented to Zach "If you look over here by 'Eric' you'll also see 'climbing'. Please notice the large disconnect between 'Zach' and 'climbing'". Zach laughed a little then grabbed the whiteboard back. He then drew the fourth circle and labeled it "Athletic". He proceeded to comment "would you look at that last circle? Look at those four circles and who's in the middle? Oh yeah, that's Zach". We had a good laugh.

Zach proceeded to show the drawing to whomever walked by for the rest of the day. Everyone had a good laugh. I, of course, had to make my case every time. A few people did give him a hard time for being "social" and not recreating anymore.

Am I a hippy?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


I went trad climbing yesterday for the second time this season. I went with Walt from work. We went up Big Cottonwood Canyon to climb the moderate classic Steort's Ridge. I have climbed this route once before. It is a really fun climb. The difference between yesterday and the previous time was the wind. Storms were blowing in and it was wicked windy. Wind advisories had been issued (we didn't really know this). We decided to climb anyway. The wind was blowing constantly with very few breaks. At the beginning the gusts were somewhat strong. Walt led the first pitch without incident. As I arrived to the first belay ledge the wind started picking up a little more. It might not have actually picked up, it may have been my perception of being exposed on the cliff as opposed to being sheltered in the trees.

As I began to lead the second pitch I could really feel the wind. As wind hits a cliff face it is forced upwards. About a third of the way up the pitch, in one of the more difficult sections, I was hit with a very strong gust that lifted a sling up off my shoulder, over my head, and up my right arm as I was reaching for a hold. I happened to catch the sling just before it went over my right hand and blew away. I tried a couple times to put the sling back over my head and arm, but to no avail. I had climb about 4 moves with the sling in my hand before the wind died and I was able to put the sling back on.

While climbing the gusts became stronger. When they would first hit it felt like I was going to be lifted up and off the cliff. I knew it would take a lot stronger gust to actually do that, but it was a little unnerving the first few times it happened.

After reaching the belay ledge at the top of the second pitch I belayed Walt up. The third pitch is by far the best pitch of the climb. You can move up and onto the arete to get some fun, exposed climbing. That wasn't going to happen today. The wind was blowing so hard up and over the arete it sounded like someone was ripping very thick canvas. About fifteen feet above the belay ledge is the one bolt on the entire climb. Walt was leading the third pitch and had the joys of clipping the bolt. The bolt sits about one foot in from the arete. Everytime Walt tried to clip the rope into the draw, the wind would catch the rope and yank it around. It took him about five tries to get the rope in. The fun didn't end there. After Walt started moving away from the bolt the wind would catch the rope between me and bolt and violently whip it back and forth and eventually it would move into a circular pattern. Everytime I'd pay out slack when Walt would move, the wind would just whip it around and Walt would have to pull extra hard on the rope to get the slack up while he was moving. This was the theme of the third pitch for him.

As Walt put me on belay to bring me up the third pitch, and as I called out "climbing", the wind picked up considerably! It literally felt like I was going to be blown off the wall. I unclipped the bolt and thankfully moved away from the arete. About two moves past the bolt, the wind caught the sling on the next piece of gear that was about fifteen feet above me, and lifted it out of the rock. I looked up just in time to see the biner, sling, and stopper sliding down the rope. It was pretty crazy. I gratefully pulled over the top of the cliff to Walt saying "Woah, that was crazy".

The fun wasn't over yet. We definitely weren't going to rappel down the climb. The route is already notorious for having loose blocks that fall when throwing the rappel rope. Also the wind would swing the ropes around and it would be an extremely difficult rappel. We decided to do the walk off. The interesting thing about this walk off is it puts you semi-close to the cliff edge and you have to half-downclimb (it isn't really down climbing, it's fourth class down scrambling). We thought the wind would make it fairly difficult but it wasn't too bad. The combination of the two definitely made the walk-off the sketchiest part of the whole adventure.

We were extremely grateful to be back on the ground and in the shelter of the trees. Overall it was a good time. We weren't ever in any kind of serious danger. The wind definitely upped the danger factor but it didn't put us in any dire situations.

All in all we had a good time and it was quite an adventure!