Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Outlook Saves Marriages?

Here's an awesome, short conversation that I had with a co-worker over IM last week:

[14:47] me: i forgot out about meeting in 15 minutes
[14:48] coworker: me too
[14:48] coworker: thank god for outlook what did people used to do
[14:48] me: thank you meeting reminder
[14:48] me: exactly
[14:48] me: they had secretaries
[14:49] coworker: so outlook may have led to more faithful marriages
[14:49] me: hahahahaha
[14:49] me: i think you might be right

Ah good times...

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hidden Peak Challenge

If you read about it over at Noggins Beanies it's true.

Yesterday was the Hidden Peak Challenge at Snowbird. It's only a 6k...yeah...starts at the tram parking lot at Snowbird and runs up to the top of tram. 6k distance and 3k of vertical gain. Up the entire way.

I haven't done a whole lot of running since the 8000m Challenge other than a couple of short runs and ultimate frisbee (nursing IT band issues). I figured what the hey, I've done a lot harder and at worst it'll be about an hour of pain.

The field was small, 76 in total. The start was informal, a countdown through a bullhorn (I actually prefer these starts). 100 yards from the start I found myself towards the front quarter of the pack. Heading into the first turn I could see the leaders pulling away. I got to thinking "crap Eric, you've started out too fast". Things got steep quick. The others around me kept running and I started power hiking, keeping up with those around me. I started to let up a little to see if I really had started out too fast. After a few minutes I decided to keep up the pace, it'd only be an hour.

A little after the halfway point you could see the top of the tram. This gave me some additional fire and picked up the pace. I started looking to who was ahead of me and started reeling them in. I was able to pick off two. I started closing in on the third towards the top. The thought of getting one more amped me even more. Unfortunately he saw me and got amped himself and picked up the pace.

I crossed the finish line in 1:01:33. At one point I thought I could finish in under an hour, but then I came around a corner and saw another set a switchbacks that you couldn't see below. I was completely surprised by my time, I thought it'd take me over an hour to do it.

The most surprising part was when they were doing the awards. When they got to the men's 20-29 division they called the winner as "Eric Miller...". Yeah, I stood there for a second, in silence, unsure if I heard correctly. That's the first time I've ever medalled in a running race. I ended up 7th overall and exactly 6 minutes behind the leader. Not bad for a kid that doesn't run fast.

There were four of us from backcountry that ran (myself, Jill, Ross, and Greg):

It was a good time and I'd do it again next year. Now I have to nurse IT bands even more.

Full race results can be found here.

Here's more pics from the race:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Date Night

Tonight Jessica and I went out on our first date night in a very long time. I was given a gift certificate from work to the Melting Pot. We had been wanting to go for quite some time, however, we knew it going to be more expensive than when we usually go out. This was a perfect opportunity.

Dinner was fabulous! We got their "Big Night Out" which includes cheese fondue, salad, entree, and dessert. For the cheese we chose the Fiesta Cheese Fondue. It had cheddar, salsa, and jalapenos. For the entree we chose the Fondue Feast which included: filet mignon, salmon, shrimp, chicken, pork, spinach artichoke ravioli, and fresh vegetables. We chose the vegetable bouillon as the cooking method for the meat. It was delicious. We threw the vegetables in and cooked them the whole time. The meat always came out tender and juicy. It was nice to have so many choices, you didn't get sick of any one thing.

The best part (which everyone says) was the dessert. We chose their "original" chocolate fondue which was a mix of chocolate and chunky peanut butter. To dip we had strawberries, bananas, toasted marshmallows, pound cake, rice krispie treats, cheesecake, and brownies. Oh man it was a big dessert but don't worry, we polished it all off.

In all we were at the restaurant for about 2 hours. It didn't feel like it at all. It was nice to get out just the two of us, take our time, eat, talk, and just spend some well deserved and long overdue time together.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cyclocross is Coming

This summer I got amped about bikes. I've known about cyclocross for a couple of years and started looking into it. Then I started talking with people at work about it, watching videos online, and am now fully amped to try it out.

The first race is coming up on October 4th and I'm going in headfirst. Yesterday I spent about 2 hours at Wheeler Farm practicing. They have a couple races there so I went and just made up my own route. Some fast open sections, some short sections of singletrack, one small hill to run up, and pretend barriers. It went really well. I only got one flat tire and only wrecked/fell over three times (I'm not completely confident on clipless pedals and am not use to having to unclip to put my foot down).

For those who are unfamiliar with cyclocross here's a short video that explains it all:

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Goodbye Sprint

We bit the bullet and decided to get rid of our spotty-at-best Sprint service and our old numbers. If you want our new numbers just let us know.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

8000m Challenge - Complete!

The Jansport 8000m Challenge (3 Mountain Challenge) was last Thursday. It's an event that Jansport has been putting on for the last 12 years for it's vendors. We randomly signed up this year. It's a team event where each team member runs the whole course. The rules are each team could have up to 13 people finish. Everyone had to do the entire course (there were check-ins at the top and bottom of each peak). That's pretty much it.

The course included three peaks in the Palm Springs, CA area. The entire course was about 40 miles and 12,000 feet of vertical gain and loss. The first peak, Mt. Baldy, was 12 miles and 3800 feet vert. The second was San Gorgonio, measuring in at 17 miles and 5500 feet of vert. The third was San Jacinto, coming in at 11 miles and about 2600 feet of vert. The top elevations were about 10,000 ft, 11,000 ft, and 10,000 ft, respectively.

The race started at 5:00 am at the base of Mt. Baldy. The strategy was to start out fast to get ahead of the pack and dust bowl of 170 people running up a dirt road. The course started with a small section of asphalt, then a turn onto a dirt road, from which the single-track trail branched off. When we hit the dirt road there was only 3-4 people in front of myself and four others from my team. Our plan backfired when the people in front of us go far enough ahead that they got onto the trail and out of site by the time we came up to it. We (Jamon, Cathy, Brendan, Chris, and I) completely missed it and kept going up the road. We realized our mistake and about 35 minutes later we had back tracked and were on the trail. We figured it was an extra two miles or so to the race. I made it up to the top of Mt. Baldy in 1 hr and 22 minutes from the time we hit the trail and back down (all the way to car) in 49 minutes. With a quarter of the miles, a quarter of the vert, and one peak down, four us piled into the minivan and headed to Gorgonio.

About a 90 minute drive put us at the base of Gorgonio. This was to the motherload, the crux, of the day. Measuring up at 17 miles and 5500 vert, during the heat of the day (Palm Springs was 107 that day) was a very daunting challenge. I loaded up on water, sports drink, electrolyte drink, and snacks and hit the trail with Jamon, Jim, and Seth. Gorgonio was relentless, starting off with a steep switchback section in the first mile. After that the trail mellowed out for a few miles, heading up a ravine passed lush vegetation and massive trees (if there's one thing California has done right, it's the redwoods. Those things are amazing). I kept up a steady pace for most of the way. After the ravine came more switchbacks, followed by a short ridge, steep hiking, false summits, and finally the summit. I made it up in 3 hrs and 24 minutes. After refueling with liquid and food it was time to get going. The downhill was going to be the crux of the crux. It was a long way down, my legs were tired and cramping, and I had to go fast to catch up with the group (Jim, Jamon, Cathy, Colby) ahead of me so I can get in their van for the next peak (if I missed them I would be waiting at the car upwards of an hour or longer for the next group). I put in the headphones, cranked the tunes and started down. I ran for almost and hour and forty minutes before I caught the group (they were movin'!). 5500 ft of vertical loss takes a toll on your legs. Thankfully I made the right call and used trekking poles on this one. I got down in 2 hours and 39 minutes.

We immediately jumped in the van and headed to Jacinto. Jacinto is interesting. You have to take a tram from the base up the mountain to get passed the lower section that is virtually impassable (or so I hear). From the top of the tram its 11 miles and about 2600 feet to the summit. We had time constraints to catch the tram up and the last tram down was at 9:45 pm. You could camp up top, but we didn't want to because the lure of a shower and bed was strong.

It took us about 80 minutes to get from Gorgonio to the tram. Once at the top we started making our way to the peak. We knew we had plenty of time of took a slower pace (Jim and Jamon went ahead running while Cathy, Colby, and I power hiked). Our legs were all feeling very tired so we kept a pace that would get back to the tram with time to spare. It took 1 hr and 54 minutes to make it to the summit and 1 hr and 54 minutes to make it to the tram. On our way back down there was a guy at the camp making soup for everyone. I grabbed a cup on my way by and the warm, salty broth tasted amazing! About half a mile from the tram I looked at my watch and realized if we hustled we could make the finish in under 16 hours.

All counted I did about 42 miles and 12,000 feet of vert in 15 hours and 57 minutes (that includes about 2.5 hours of drive time). It was the longest distance and most vert I have ever done. It was also the most challenging event, both mentally and physically, I have ever done. The shower afterwards and bed were amazing. Even more amazing was the pancake, egg, home fry, bacon, and sausage breakfast the next morning. My IT bands are worked, but I was only sore for a few days (I was completely surprised). Would I do it again? Definitely. Will I line up other ultra events? Definitely.

Here's some pics (I am waiting for more & all photos in the slide show are courtesy of Jim Holland) and a short video (you see my back a lot, I'm wearing a green shirt, blue pack, and tracking poles) of the race. Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

8000m Challenge

Tomorrow morning I am heading off to do the Jansport 8000m Challenge (AKA the 3 Mountain Challenge) in So Cal. 40 miles, 12,000 ft of vertical gain (and loss). I'll be sure post how it went. Pictures will likely be lacking as I'm not taking the camera (even if I took it I wouldn't be stopping to snap pics).