Monday, February 20, 2012

Long weekend so I lapsed in posting. Not much new to report but had a glimmer of hope today with a third opinion, yes, third opinion, which suggested popliteal tendonitis. Seems like three weeks would be a long enough layoff to see some improvement for something like that but the doc said I am getting older and that tendon is particularly tough. So, a glimmer of hope in an otherwise dismal winter.

And, this week's Retropost comes from the winter of 2008, six months before Western States was officially "burned out"

Six Months to Go!

It's six months to the day before the 2008 Western States 100 Miler. That, in and of itself, gets me excited. Even though I am currently running 90 minutes a day through snow and ice in sub-freezing temperatures I know the beauty and Heat of The Canyons awaits. Going for my 5th consecutive top-10 finish gets me out the door in the morning and knowing that the competition will all be there ready to go fires me up in the midst of the brutal Idaho winter. So, bucking the traditional New Year's Resolution Thing, I resolve to do five things over the next six months:

1. Keep the Base Mileage going through February 3rd -- I know I need to do this to stay patient and focused on the ultimate goal. As much as I'd like to blow out some carbon in the next few weeks I also know that would be a bad idea. In the next six weeks it's all about the long, slow miles.

2. Let the Oregon Guys have their day at Cool -- They all beat me last year and I expect them to do the same this year. All I can say is that they better be ready for some serious competition at the Georgetown Hotel for Karaoke. And, if they want to get fiesty, watch out for Team Idaho at Cool, with AJW, Mitchell and Dart we'll be tough to beat!

3. Get the hill mileage in early (and often!) -- I need to get the climbing legs going hard in March and April. In order for me to have any improvement at WS 2008 I need to run the first 30 miles faster than ever before. The only way that can happen is for me to climb better. Take a look at the splits, aside from a few outliers, the guys who beat me climbed hard early. Not gonna happen again.

4. Focus on having a great last month -- From May 15 to June 15 I will run longer, harder and faster than at any other time in my life. I just need to be healthy enough to do that when the time comes. No races, just good, old-fashioned training and healthy, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale fueled recovery.

5. Race assertively and aggressively -- I am ready to go for it this year. Vermont and Teton in 2007 taught me what I can do. Now, it's up to me to get it done. I have no time left to leave anything in the tank.

Happy New Year everybody!


Friday, February 17, 2012

I am getting some small signs of hope out of my left knee. While the pain at full flexion is still there it seems to be responding well to physical therapy, Graston, and strengthening exercises. I must say, this reminder of my own immortality has been truly eye-opening as it is often difficult to navigate the blurry line between emotion and reason when it comes to running injuries. While I did enjoy a full two-months of injury-free running in December and January the 20 days I've been unable to run over these past three weeks seem almost endless. Please, when I get back to running, remind me to take it easy!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I have been working with the folks at the WS100 in pulling together a couple of great events during the lead-up to this year's race. I am particularly excited about the "Veteran's Panel" which will take place on Thursday, June 21st at 5pm in the Squaw Valley Lodge. Like last year, this event will provide people with an opportunity to hear from a panel of experienced Western States runners of varying abilities. Topics such as nutrition, race strategy and course knowledge will be covered and ample time will be allowed for Questions and Answers. Stay tuned over the next few months for the announcement of the panelists.

Additionally, I am thrilled to have been invited to speak at a pre-Western States reception for the Squaw Valley Institute at the Plumpjack on Thursday, June 21st following the Veteran's Panel. The Squaw Valley Institute is one of the premier non-profit organizations providing support and education to the Greater Lake Tahoe Basin and this reception will highlight the strong bond between the Institute and the Western States Endurance Run. While the event is still more than four months away it is exciting to see such great things beginning to take shape as the race continues to evolve in this new era.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Thank you all for the advice about my meniscus tear. For now I've decided to forego surgery in an attempt to heal the problem conservatively over the next few weeks. I am rehabbing pretty aggressively and have a great team of supporters so I am hopeful. In the meantime, I am attempting to get over my allergy to chlorine and confronting the brutal fact that I am, indeed, getting older.

Retropost of the Week
Another post from October, 2007

I admit to being a proponent of Tim Noakes’ Central Governor model and this fall I am putting the theory to the test. As most of you know, Noakes’ theory suggests that a significant factor in running success is training the mind. Indeed, training the body is essential and good genes are helpful but Noakes notes that a well-trained mind can lead to performances that exceed expectations more often than training or genes can. And after all, exceeding expectations is something we all hope to do once in a while.

So, for me, this fall is a good time to test the theory. Clearly, I am experiencing the accumulated fatigue brought on by having run three 100-mile races since late June and as such every day is a new adventure for me as I continue to travel down uncharted territory. Furthermore, the shorter days of fall, the more intense work schedule I have at school, and the chilly temperatures are all sapping my motivation. And that is where the mind-training part comes into play. In May, I must admit, I have absolutely no problem getting out the door to run. Motivated by the eternal hope of spring and the burning desire to be adequately prepared for Western States makes my mind hum and I am ready and eager to run every day. Now, several months and many miles later, it’s a bit tougher to keep that edge.

For me, the training of the mind at this point in the year is training for the long haul. Every run is characterized by some mental challenge. Most of the time I present myself with a hypothetical mental challenge like coming up from No Hands Bridge on the edge of breaking 17 hours or looking up to Sam Merrill and seeing Tommy Nielsen’s flashlight beam and some of the time I set up a barrier that I should beat even though I am tired (get to the fire hydrant in 6 minutes, run this entire hill, hammer this downhill to get a little extra quad pounding). While these are little, seemingly meaningless goals in the grand scheme of my physical training, they are essential for my mental preparation.

Just over two weeks remain until my run at Javelina. It will be the culmination of the “Andy Slam” for 2007. Certainly, it’s nothing like the Grand Slam but it’s a first for me. And, I must admit, I want to win. I am not sure if I can but I’ll give it a try and hope for the best. My body may be beaten and worn down but my mind will be focused. With the right training it seems to me that the mind is much more resilient than the body and if I can take that knowledge into my race I may just get my third win of the year and gain some mental fitness in the process.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I haven't written for a few days largely because I've been letting some bad news sink in. On Thursday I was diagnosed with torn meniscus in my left knee. I had initially been told it was not torn but after seeking a second opinion and a closer look it is, in fact, torn.

It is a mild tear on the outside, medial edge of the meniscus so it could potentially heal without surgery. That said, I am, at this point, still contemplating what to do and may not be able to wait this one out without surgery.

For me, I must say, these last eight months have been really eye-opening. First, a severe case of plantar fasciitis and then, just when that was clearing up, my first real knee issue. Of course, I am taking my own advice and maintaining a positive attitude and practicing patience which will hopefully bear fruit in the end. And, I am currently on a ski vacation with my family and it's dumping snow so, how bad could it be? I still have my health, a good job, and a great life. Perspective....

Any advice on dealing with a mildly torn medial meniscus would be much appreciated!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It occurred to me that some of you would prefer not to leave your mailing address in a public space on a blog. So, if you want a Taproom sticker just email me at and I'll send you one.

Hit the bike and the weight room this morning. Felt surprisingly good.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

AJW's Taproom stickers! Comment here with your snail mail address and I'll send you one!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Really excited about this Nice to get some good press in the local paper for a great new program.

Retrospost of the Week
Race Report from the Javelina Jundred in October 2007. My 4th 100-miler that year.

It is, at times, difficult for me to believe this but for those of you keeping track Jorge Pacheco and I have history. I mean, real history. Of course, most of that history is in his favor. With the exception of races in which Jorge has dropped (or taken a long nap!) I have never finished ahead of him in a 100 Miler. And, most painfully of all, I now have three Bridesmaid’s Finishes to accompany his three victories. A quick scan of the archives tells a painful story.

2004 Angles Crest, Jorge first, AJW second.

2006 Rocky Raccoon, Jorge First, AJW second.

2007 Javelina Jundred, Jorge first, AJW second.

You get the picture.

Nonetheless, the 2007 Javelina Jundred was a great race. Sure it was hot, painfully hot for a Rocky Mountain transplant like myself but who cares? It was a great way to spend a long day in the desert and what could be better than heat in the desert? It’s just the way it is. I wouldn’t want it to be any different.

Jorge started out hard along with Eric Clifton who always starts out hard. I was content to hang with friends Craig Thornley, Rob Evans, and Wendell Doman and see how things started to shake out. Jorge and Eric finished the first lap in record time and I was thinking this could work out OK. The second lap went by fast as well but as Eric started to fade and Jorge kept pushing. By the time we crossed paths at the third lap turnaround he had 28 minutes on me.

Yikes, this was going to be a race!

Shelly, my wife and crew, told me at that point that if I wanted to win I quite simply couldn’t give up any more time. I was feeling pretty good but with the heat coming on I didn’t feel like I had much more to give. I pushed up the long grinding ascent over the first five miles of the fourth lap and then began to push harder on the rollers between Miles 50 and 55. Here, I began to have hope. All the people coming the other way had beta for me and it all suggested that the gap was closing. I pushed harder. As I got to the wash at the bottom of the biggest hill of the race I saw Jorge in the distance. I think the gap was 5 minutes there. Maybe I could get him? But should I try to cover the gap now? Oh, these were haunting questions indeed. Questions that my aching legs didn’t want to answer.

I got to the turnaround and was met by my son Logan in a Grim Reaper costume. I don’t know if he understood the significance of the occasion but I did. His outfit symbolically represented just what I needed to know -- "Damnit, I should quite this sport." But, I couldn’t. Jorge had only five minutes on me. Crap, if this was going to be a race now was the time to make a move (like I even know what that means!).

Of course, this is ultrarunning so if I was going to make a move first I had to puke. The combination of 95 degree temperatures, lukewarm chicken broth, and Coke brought it all home (so to speak!) Fortunately, my friend and comrade in arms Chris Thornley was there to tell me it would pass. And, my kids, well they basically said, “Everybody pukes, what are you waiting for?” So, I set out in pursuit of Jorge.

I saw him on the horizon about an hour later. He was moving along well but not too fast. We were about a mile from the 65-mile aid station. I said to myself (sort of), I guess this is it? We’ll see what happens. It was, indeed, a collision course. I got to the aid station and he was still there drinking water and filling his bandana with ice. I tried to stay cool by filling my bottles and getting out of there. Man, I was hurting! And yes, he was right there behind me. I knew the drill. It was time for a marking exercise. If there were fire hydrants around we would both be peeing.

We ran the next 10 miles stride for stride. That, in and of itself, is amazing! For those of you who know the nature of 100-mile races that does not happen very often. But, here we were at mile 65 of a late season 100 – friends, rivals, competitors – what else could we do but run? I can’t remember which parts I led and which parts he led but I knew I was on the rivet and I could tell he was not. I didn’t want to admit it but I could just tell. Plus, I knew Jorge. Yes, the guy has crashed and burned in these things before but not often after night falls. I knew this would be tough, if not impossible, to beat. So, I switched into learning mode.

We arrived at Mile 75 together and someone took a picture (whoever took it, I want it!) I knew Jorge had the upper hand with rested legs and greater footspeed but I still had hope. For those of you who don’t think these races have drama you should have been there then. You could feel it, taste it, even.

After that, Jorge took off. He opened a lead on me I could not combat. Sure, I still had a glint of hope but I could tell this was his day and he deserved to win. In fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I was simply happy to share the trail with this humble, smart, and compassionate champion on this day. In many ways, Jorge’s character is summed up in his post-race greeting to me, “I’m sorry.” Man, what a man!

To Rodger, Jimmy, Dave and the rest of the Javelina Crew thank you for an amazing day.

Now, I am off to rest. See you in Squaw!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super impressive runs by Hal and Karl at RR100 and it looks like Ian went for the record and had an injury derail him. All in all, it was cool to see experience play out at Rocky.

And how about Meghan Arbogast and Mark Richtman at Jed Smith! Smoking fast times for folks in their 50's. Inspiring, for sure!

I am enjoying a really nice weekend in West Virginia with my son Carson. He had a good race (skiing) yesterday and is lining up for a Giant Slalom today. I am still working through my knee issue but slowly gaining confidence. Went for a "hike" yesterday and am planning the same for today.

Go Giants!

Friday, February 3, 2012

My knee feels a bit better today so things are definitely trending in the right direction. I may give it a couple more days before giving it a test but that's OK since I am headed to West Virginia for Carson's ski race. Probably good for the long haul.

Judging by the polling data it looks to be a two-man race between Ian and Hal. Can't wait to follow along tomorrow!

And, I am really psyched to note that I have signed on as a Hoka One One ambassador joining Karl Meltzer, Dave Mackey, and a few others. As most of you know, these shoes have been extraordinarily helpful in my recovery from PF so I should have no trouble promoting the brand. I will, of course, continue with Patagonia and Drymax, as well. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Got to the doc today and he ruled out MCL and meniscus damage so that's good. Turns out it's a pretty bad case of tendonitis and it means a bit of a break but not a total meltdown. Good, not great.

New Taproom post goes up tomorrow that should be good.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Anybody tried this? Evidently it's the best beer in America and it goes on tap this Friday! For two weeks only! If you have extra miles send me a ticket and I'm there:)
Resting my knee for another day before seeing Dr. Wilder tomorrow morning. Trying to take the long view which is easier some days that others. Did get into the February 18th VHTRC 50K and also got the reg forms for Bull Run Run and Promise Land so I guess, one way or another, this season will happen:) Trending toward tendonitis but we'll see.

Interesting results for the poll with Salomon and Montrail neck and neck and Patagonia an TNF lagging behind. New poll up now!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My knee felt a bit better this morning but to keep things on the safe side I made an appointment with Dr. Wilder for him to check it out. Honestly, it's this kind of thing that really reminds me that aging does have an impact on the body and it needs to be taken seriously. Sometimes, I must admit, the exuberance of running gets the best of me and it can kick me in the butt.