Building the Gear Sled

This is something I’ve been going back and forth on for a couple months now. A gear sled is not entirely necessary on a spring ascent of Rainier, though it certainly can’t hurt. Without it, I’d likely have 50-60 pounds on my back during the trip from Paradise to Muir, which is over 4,000′ vertical. That’s a long way to carry a heavy load; since I bought the sled months ago, I decided this weekend that I would build it up.

After work today I stopped by Home Depot for some sticks of plastic pex tubing (3/4″ OD which I cut down to 6′ each), nylon rope (1/4″), and bungee cords. Construction actually went pretty quick. For the connection of the rope to the sled, I used a figure-eight follow-through, fed the rope through the tubing, then tied three overhand knots on the other end of the tubing to keep the rope from feeding back through. I finished it off with a doubled figure-eight with a couple biners for attaching to a harness. I was surprised at how quickly it went, maybe 30 minutes total build time. I intended to get PVC pipe, but I’m glad I went with the pex. It’s far less brittle, and will work as well or better than full-rigid rods at controlling the sled for the downhill.

Scout helped, and here you can see most of what’s going to get piled onto the sled before I leave.

Three days from now and I’ll be on the road. Holy crap!

In All Things, Efficiency

As some of you may know, yesterday was “Earth Day.” I was only reminded yesterday after seeing some ads, references to it, and other assorted BS. One thing I’m glad I didn’t see (at least on my normal route) was more bike commuters than usual. I made it downtown after work for some bike hooliganism and saw a ton of bikes, unfortunately I can’t judge if it was a normal amount of bikes (I’d hope so, as it wasn’t that many) or if it was inflated due to single-day feelings of “saving the world.” I’ll probably be back down there later to see if it’s the same (and I hope it would be, it’s so nice and warm out now). Here’s hoping everyone out there was biking because it’s how they always get around, and not just because NBC’s green peacock told them to.

It’s unfortunate that there are only a couple days a year that there’s a substantial push to get people to consider biking instead of driving. There are big pushes towards very complicated, expensive, and anti-industry “save-the-world” measures right now, when all we really need is some efficiency. For power, nuclear – nothing else is as clean and efficient. For transportation, bikes. No gasoline, 9’x19′ parking spaces, or 12′ lanes required. Less than five miles, and you’re probably faster by bike. Clean air, more efficient use of space, increased fitness, what’s not to love? That there exists an “anti-bicycle” push is absurd. As far as everyday things go, there’s little more pro-freedom than the bicycle.

ForeRunner Review

I’m past 50 miles on my Garmin ForeRunner 305 at this point, and figure it’s fair to give it a real review now. I’ve still been using a program made by RunnersWorld for racing a 10k, in preparation for my half marathon. The most important thing is for me to get more miles under my feet, and the speedwork is always good for strength, speed, and to keep it interesting. I’ve also started running with music on again, which is a great distraction from the monotony of running.

My only real gripe with the unit is that it averages your pace over far too long a period of time. I’m not sure what the time is exactly, but I can be doing a 6:00 pace after coming down from a 12:00 rest, it will tell me to slow down (because my target will be, say, 7:00) yet it will be displaying 8:00. Other than that, it’s great. You know exactly how fast you’re going (or rather, were going over the past 30 seconds or so), how far you’ve gone, and have a great, easy to setup program to keep runs different. Last night for example the workout was 2 miles warmup, then 7 sets of 1/4mi fast then 1/4mi resting, five minute break, 7 more sets, and finally a 2 mile cooldown. I was out running for close to two hours, which I’ve never done before, yet I never felt bored. It was easy to just keep focused on the next interval. The HR monitor is nice to have, and helps the unit get a reasonably accurate estimate on calories burned for your run. All in all, a good product, especially for half the cost of a 405.

In other news, it looks like the trip to Silverton is off. There’s a big storm (supposedly) coming through, and I’m still a little sick. Bummer.

FiveFingers: 50-mile review

I’ve had my Vibram FiveFingers KSOs for a few weeks now, and have reached roughly 50 miles in them, including a single 25 mile week. At this point, I think they’re great. There’s a freedom to running in them, as you truly feel everything under your feet. I feel faster and lighter on my feet, and my pace is faster for a given effort level than it feels.

The downside is that barefooting really works your calves. My calves continue to be tighter and more sore than I ever could have imagined, and although there is some improvement, it’s still to the point where I’m nearly hobbling around the day after a 8.5 mile interval run. Today is supposed to be a 9 mile easy run, but I’m taking a rest day as there’s simply no way I could do it. Additionally, I’ve torn holes on top of both of my second toes from scraping them on rocks, concrete, dirt, etc. I’ll probably need to patch them fairly soon. That said, I’m sticking with them for the time being. Hopefully by the time I hit 100 miles the soreness will no longer be an issue.

On a side note, I’ve been using for the past few days (which is a part of now) after being turned on to it by Nate, and it’s already an obsession. It’s a great way to set goals with exercise and calories, and accurately track how you’re doing on a day to day basis.

Run, then keep running, and then run some more

Since getting my Forerunner, I’ve been putting in quite a few miles (all wearing the fivefingers). The first run was on Saturday, and since then, I’ve done 18.5. If I do all the runs from my training program, this week (Sunday -> Saturday) will be around 33 miles. I’ve never had a 30-mile week. Cool!

A couple weeks ago I was turned on to the Niketown running club (on the 16th St. Mall) by someone at the Slattery’s run club. I’d never heard of it, and information about it online was pretty scarce. I went with Nate, who’s lucky enough to work less than two blocks away. It was great, with quite a few seriously fast runners. I paced one guy for a mile and a half who eventually started pulling away. When I looked at my watch, I was moving at a 5:40 pace (and couldn’t keep up anymore). He stopped to turn back, when a few guys came by who had been moving slower (9:00) earlier, and were up to a roughly 8 minute pace. Then it was 7:30. Then 7 flat. And then 6:30. Half a mile from the end they were gone, as I couldn’t keep up after 5 miles of race pace. Awesome, I’ll definitely be back (especially to get that 100-mile club shirt!).