Sunday, October 7, 2012

Larabar Review and Giveaway on EverydayLivingPNW!

I just thought I would mention here on Tundra Runners that I have a giveaway happening on my other blog, Everyday Living in the Pacific Northwest! Go over there and check it out, who knows you may even win the prize of a 16 Larabar Sampler Case!

It has been a little bit since i have posted on Tundra Runners, the main reason why is the lack of running or activity, period. Life will hopefully settle down and bring about moments to dedicate towards can only hope!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jumping Back in with Both Feet

Where to begin...

First a quick update as to my whereabouts for the last few months.

I had quite a summer.  I went on a road trip to the Grand Canyon and finished my pilot training.  However, I put off my fastpacking plans.  I did a lot of running (mostly short hour-long runs,) but never got to the point I felt like I could run for multiple hours in heat over 100 degrees.

The summer was over far to quickly.  After a short visit with Ed in Seattle (which was awesome,) I made my way back to the island, and have been busy ever since.

I was briefly delayed when my flight was canceled due to weather, and spent an extra night in Anchorage.  I put the time in Anchorage to good use at the Glacier Brewhouse (where I was sad to learn the barleywine is not yet ready for the season.)  I woke up at 0430 the next morning, went to the airport and sat around on standby most of the day.  After another cancelled flight and more delays (and two fuel stops) I made home without too much trouble.

Since then I have been easing my way back into cool weather running.  I did a run up Strawberry Hill, and dozen or so up Bunker Hill.  Actually, now that I think about it that sounds rather excessive for someone with an injured foot.  The plantar fascia in my left foot started bothering me this summer.  I should be taking it easy, but I really wanted to run up Ballyhoo Mountain (more on this later,) and Bunker Hill is my training ground.

Speaking of injured feet, something else happened the other day.  I nailed it.  That is to say I stepped on a board with a rusty nail sticking straight up.  It went straight though my shoe and up into the arch of my right foot (yeah that makes two injured feet.)  It hasn't really slowed me down though.  I went for a run a couple hours afterwards.

Then there was Ballyhoo....

(To be continued next time... if I can figure out what to do with the videos....)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ed's New Blog

That is right! I have taken the plunge and started my own personal blog. It is called "Everyday Living in the Pacific Northwest" and will be about just that, living in Seattle and all my day to day activities. This doesn't mean I am abandoning Tundra Runners. I will keep on posting here with all my fitness related stories and videos. I was just thinking that Eric wouldn't want me to monopolize this site for my own personal blogging, so I thought I would try something different.

So different that I even made the switch to Wordpress. Not sure how I feel about it yet. There is a learning curve that is for sure, and I am slowly getting a hang of it. I wanted to take a little more time before I went live with the site, but I thought ah what the hell I will develop it as I go. I hope you will take some time to check it out and stay tuned for more fun posts on Tundra Runners! (Hopefully some more gear reviews from Eric in Alaska, I know he has a bunch of awesome gear up there and I want to know about it!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Missing mojo and such...

So the other day I went back to strength training. The same training that Eric and I were doing in Alaska. In the beginning of the year it took a while for us to improve and even start to enjoy it. Well needless to say the past few months have taken a toll on my strength. I really didn't accomplish much, let alone close to what I was at. To make things worse, the squats had me walking funny for two days after! I am not sure if I should try to approach different methods of training now that I am in Seattle (ie. I now have access to things like gyms, fitness groups, crossfit ($$$$), and the such) or just get back into the swing of things.

What I dream about the most during the day....
The problem with getting back into the swing of things is I have lost my motivation. It is way more fun after a long day of work to make a half-assed dinner, then lay on the couch with my wife and dog than train. The cool thing is we have been avoiding the half-assed dinners and are actually making some good food, but the laying on the couch has become my kryptonite.

Yet another picture of what I like to do best...
Soo...I have two options

1) Get my ass in gear before it gets huge

2) Get up in the mornings and train before work....

Option 1) is way more realistic than option 2), but only time will tell. I always feel wore out after work, so I may have to change my webisode to Before Work Workouts with Ed. Either way we will see. For the time being I have to start getting motivated and get my mojo back.  

Any suggestions on how I can accomplish such a feat?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

My first webisode...

Well here it is, my first installment of "After Work Workouts with Ed". Be gentle this is my first run at making a efforts will get better as time progresses. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

After work work-outs...

Yesterday was my first attempt at documenting my after work work-outs. I am planning on doing a serious of short little webisodes that documents my attempts at including fitness in my now hectic life. The filming actually went really well and I was surprised that everything went smoothly. The only hang up is I filmed everything on my iPhone vertically, so those two black bars show up on the sides of the video. Kind of a bummer, but I think I will still put it together and show it in a while, every first attempt at something isn't always perfect right?

I was able to piece together a nice bike ride. It did feel rushed and I was not really feeling it after the long commute home from work. But once I got out on the trail it felt great! I put in about 12 miles and I am starting to get more comfortable on my bike. Who knows maybe a triathlon may be in my future...but I am not signing up for anything quite just yet!

Last Monday I had the pleasure of having Eric visit me in Seattle on his way up to Alaska. He rented a bike and we hopped on the Burke-Gilman trail and headed north to the Red Hook Brewery in Woodinville. It was a great ride on a sunny day!

Once we got to the brewery we were ready to eat. The food was tasty and I enjoyed my latest discovery, sparkling water! Yeah I know not that exciting but it has been really enjoyable for me as an alternative to soda.

Eric had a pint of Red Hooks finest and we loaded up and headed back. Overall a great visit and a great bike ride. On a side note we did run into some issues with the rental bike. The chain kept popping off! I tell ya it would of made for a great drinking game if we had some booze cause it seemed to pop off every time we thought that it was the end though it was great for a laugh and we had a amazing time!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

So it has been a while since we have posted. I recently bought a house and started a new job in Seattle. Eric had some time off work and now has returned to Alaska. This video sums up my intentions for the blog, lets hope Eric continues to contribute (and be able to stream the video in Alaska)! Ed

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

There is too much

Let me explain.... No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
- Inigo Montoya, "The Princess Bride"

I apologize for the lack of posts lately, but it has been crazy around here.  We will get back on scheduled shortly, but for now just a quick update.

I was unexpectedly sent out to sea for a few weeks.  The snow finally began to seriously melt away after the beginning of May (much later than expected), and a few trails have finally reopened.  I FINALLY got a run up Bunker Hill in.  I have been waiting to do that for months (post-holing up the hillside just wasn't much fun).

However, the big news is that Ed has moved on.  Literally.  He took a job elsewhere.  I wish him the best of luck, but all is not lost.  He has promised to continue posting about his running exploits once he gets settled in.

I will also be leaving the island for a little while.  I need a vacation.  I will be continuing my fastpacking gear posts shortly, but at the moment I have another sort of packing to do.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A shlushy slump...

It has been about 5 months of winter here. The snow and bad weather started about November and it really hasn't stopped. Needless to say, we are starting to feel the effects of it. And when I say it, I mean everything that comes with running in the winter. The slushy roads, the cold feet, the icy wind, snowed in trails, and so on.

Now it is not all negative. We do try to make the best of a situation. When the weather is bad we try to just get out there and go, when the weather is good we take advantage of it and go for the long runs, and everything in between (well there really is not in between...)

So how do we make the best of our situation?

For starters there is the random knocking over of big chunks of ice as demonstrated in this video...

Then there is playing catch with the random orange you found on the beach....

And Eric's favorite, jumping off anything you can climb on!

I personally am not as optimistic as Eric, so most of my time is spent frustrated and expressing that concern as seen in this photo:

With that said, I never come home after a run and not feel energized, happy, and accomplished. I can not wait for the first spring run post this season, and I can not wait for it to happen...but for now, we will stay stuck in our slushy slump.

What gets you into a slump? What do you do to make the best of a bad situation? 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The not quite spring run...

The weather out here in Alaska has not really been cooperating with us. Well when I say not cooperating I mean that the weather doesn't give a damn about us and is probably wondering why the hell is it that we live out here. With that being said, gearing up properly has become of the up most importance.

As you can see in this photo, a proper toque (beanie for all the Americans reading this), sunglasses, face mask and coat is required. The goal I always have before an intense winter run here is to not leave any exposed skin. Not always successful, but the little patches left open to the elements tend to freeze and lose all feeling, so overall not bad.

Now throw some wind, snow and hills into the mix, you have a challenge. When I started experiencing ice cream headaches I knew that I was running into the wind, and when I would fall flat on my face I knew that deep snow was ahead. When you are out in that type of weather all depth perception ceases to exist, so you have to be willing to fall. I am not a huge fan of it, but it is growing on me. Eric on the other hand, well he lives for this extreme weather/running.

As you can see here he is bombing down a hill.

Enjoying a celebratory hand stand for all the cool miles we covered (it was like three but took us an hour, the terrain was not pleasant...)

And a hand spring. My camera doesn't have the quickest shutter speed so this was the best shot I could capture. But I think I have made my point. Eric loves to run in the challenging weather. The moment I think "Its to crappy to run", he says "Awesome".

After we hit the hills and made our way home we captured what tundra running in the winter looks like:




Is there any weather that stops you from going out on a run? Or do you just go for it not matter the rain, snow, sleet, or wind?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Things that strength training has taught me about life...

For the past couple months, I have been starting to take strength training more seriously. For one, I want to build muscle and not look scrawny (which is ironic if you knew me even three years ago) and two, I just want to be stronger. Even when I was 'big', I was still weak and have always felt that way.

To obtain my set goals, of not looking scrawny and building strength, I have been using body weight exercises. A simple circuit of push-ups, squats, pull-ups, and planks. Usually there is only a slight rest after one circuit, with only doing total of two for a day. Each individual movement is done to max, with different variations done to my level of fitness. An example is: only performing knee push-ups until I can do 50 in a row for two circuits (I know knee push-up right? Not as easy as it sounds and I have yet to get to 50 in the first set!) This work out is a slightly modified version of the Primal Blueprint Fitness. When we first started this fitness program, we followed it verbatim. Slowly, we modified the details (like always doing a minimum of two circuits, now we only do one on weekdays) and adding our own elements (like a hackie sac warm up...). So far it has been a good system, and works great on running and swimming off days.

The results have been pretty good. Starting to tone muscles, add a little bulk, and improving strength (noticeable by the increase in number of reps done to max). What was not expected was life lessons this non-gym fitness program has taught me. Sounds dramatic and exaggerated? Maybe. But I will list what I have learned at let you be the judge:

1. You can usually do more then you think. This is a surprise to me. Since our strength training plan requires us to work towards total muscle exhaustion, I keep over-shooting my expected max number of reps. Take for example pull-ups. I usually only think I can do three, but I have recently been able to push myself to 5. Not a dramatic number, but more then I expect. This is only a life lesson because when I start to do the pull-ups I ignore my expectations and push till I can't lift myself anymore. I usually end up having my muscles give in and fall to my feet pretty quickly. If I was to give in to my expectations of what I can and can't do I would never hit my true max and probably never improve. Not a bad way to live my life in the future for everything else I do, eh?

2. If you work at something, there will be improvement. I know this sounds like common sense. But when you first try the self assessment found in the Primal Blueprint Fitness eBook, well I have to say I felt week, unfit, and thought I would never accomplish any sort of improvement. I hated squats. I mean I loathed the thought of even doing 1. Now I can do 2 circuits of 50 and actually I am starting to enjoy the challenge they present, not to mention some of the results (including more strength while hill running and improved sprints). So I have learned (luckily by just simply enjoying some improvement) that no matter what challenge it is you face in life, if you work at it there will be improvement. Duh, right?

3. Excuses are lame, and it is better just to get it done. This goes for anything you don't feel like doing and any challenge you are about to face. Many days when I come home from a long day at the office, I don't feel like strength training. In fact, it is rare that I really ever feel like doing it at all. However, every time that I have gave into an excuse or just skipped a circuit, I set myself back or feel lame the next day. When I forget the excuses and I am actually accomplish my training I feel great and better for it.

4. I can do hand-stands with the help of a wall. That is either here nor there, but since we have been body weight training, we have been having office work out challenges. When no one is around we do max reps of push-ups, pull-ups (yea we have a improvised pull-up bar in the office!), or whatever. One day we just started seeing if we could do hand stands as a challenge and well the rest is history...How cool is it to navigate through life knowing you can stand on your hands? That question is open ended and there is no word limits to the answer.

As I discover more life lessons as my fitness regime increases I will add to this small, yet exciting list. I think these four should be enough to get anyone excited in beginning to develop a strength training regime of their own, or at least stand on their hands if they haven't yet (prolly should have a spotter if it is your first time since grade school). Also, for those out their grinding it out at the gym and dropping money on memberships, check out Primal Blueprint Fitness. You can get the eBook for free and you can do everything at home (just gotta a buy a pull-up bar, worth every penny if you stick with it).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Fastpacking Gear: Cooking

First off, I need to clarify that I enjoy backcountry cooking. Many people recommend just carrying prepackaged food and energy bars. However, I consider cooking up a good meal at the end of a long day one of the joys of backpacking. I am not willing to give that up.

Also, I have some unique dietary preferences (I have been Primal for over two years) that make finding adequate prepackaged food difficult. I will talk about food selection in a later post.

Anyway, I will be cooking my morning and evening meals, and therefore must have some sort of cooking gear.

For now lets start by taking a look at my current backpacking cooking system. Like most backpackers, I already have a fairly light weight cooking set up. It was built more for versatility and dependability than being truly ultralight. In fact that is true of almost all of my gear (not to mention that most of it is for winter camping.)
Here is the MSR Whisperlite International (an old model), and Snow Peak Trek 900 Titanium Cook Set combination I have used for a number of years.

It packs down fairly small, and the stove fits nicely inside the pot. However the stove weighs quite a bit (and that is without a fuel bottle.) It was designed to be a sturdy, reliable multi-fuel stove, not ultralight.
The other problem with this system is that the two were designed with different uses in mind. The pot was designed for use with a butane canister stove. It is a very nice pot (I really like Snow Peak), but the tall narrow design, while a perfect fit for butane canisters, is naturally unstable.
Basically the stove is designed to handle much larger pots (yeah, the wind screen is way to big too,) and is far to heavy for fastpacking.

Several lighter solutions are available to the prospective ounce counter (the lightest solution would be to just build a fire, but I don't expect to have the energy for that).

Butane stoves: These stoves can be very light weight, but the canisters are fairly heavy (and impossible to find around here.) I had one years ago (when I first started backpacking), that broke the first time I tried to cook (it was a cheap off-brand model, but was very proud of it when I got it.)

Fuel tabs: An even lighter solution is solid fuel tablets such as those made by Esbit. Fuel tabs are interesting, but they don't seem to offer much versatility as far as cooking goes. They are ideal for someone who just wants to boil water.

Alcohol stoves: Another solution, favored by many ultralight enthusiasts, is the alcohol stove. These come in countless variations from homemade to expensive titanium models. Basically, you pour alcohol in the burner and light it on fire. That is pretty much it, no mechanical parts to break. There are far to many models and variations to compare benefits and drawbacks of them all. Instead I will give you a brief overview of the main contruction types: homemade aluminum, titanium and brass.

Obviously homemade is the cheapest, but these "soda-can stoves" can be very effective if properly constructed, and extremely light weight. However, aluminum can also be crushed pretty easily if you are careless.

Titanium is also very light, but extremely durable. The only downside is they are expensive.
Brass is much heavier (though still pretty darn light,) but does have a couple advantages. The stoves made by Tiangia and Esbit come with a lid (so that the fuel may be stored inside the stove,) and a simmer ring (to allow much better control.)

Personally, I require something reliable and reasonably durable (I have a thing about being prepared). Also, It needs to allow me to actually cook, but still keep weight to a minimum.

I chose the brass Esbit alcohol burner, along with a titanium Clikstand pot support and windscreen. I also picked up a new Evernew 900ml Ti DX2 Non-Stick Pot Set to match the set.
The combination is considerably lighter than my old one.
It also works together very well (the Snow Peak pot was to small for easy use with the stand.)
It also packs down quite well.
The pots are both 900ml, but the frying pan is much larger on the Evernew model. The only down side is the design of the handle on the Evernew frying pan. It does not work as easily with the wind screen as the Snow Peak design.

Did I make a good choice? Did you have better recommendations? Let me know what you think.

Next time, I will be doing some initial testing of the setup.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Winter Blues, and New Adventures.

The long dark of winter has been marching slowly on around here. We have had considerable snow (which is nice) but the weather has been a bit rough for any good adventures. I've had several good runs, but nothing exciting. Well, I did climb several mountains... and snowboard down. Oh, then there was the day hike to the other side of.... Okay it hasn't really been that bad. I guess seven months on our little rock has just started to get to me a little.

That said, it is time to start planning for the future. I have been daydreaming about all sorts of ways to get myself into trouble this summer. Aside from the road/camping trips I have planned with my family (which should be interesting), and finishing my flight training, something a bit different has caught my interest: a multi-day trailrun.

Sort of like backpacking but faster. I have been backpacking and trail running for years. Why not combined the two? I had no idea when the idea first came to me, but this is what has been called fastpacking (so much for being original).

Obviously, it will take thorough planing and preparation (an excellent way to relieve a bit a cabin-fever, perhaps.) I need to lighten my pack to a reasonable running weight, and find a manageable solution to the water issue (it will probably be in the 90s or 100s), but still have enough equipment to make my overnight reasonably comfortable and restful between full days of running, and prepare meals that will keep me going.

Over the next few weeks (or months) I will discuss my journey into the realm of fastpacking, including gear selection and decision process, initial testing and reviews. Along with any other preparation that seems worthy of note, and eventually a report of my first trip.

First up: Cooking Gear

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cross Country Anchorage...First Time Ever!

So Eric and I were in Anchorage on a work trip...that is no surprise. We do it all the time and have been for a couple years now. The cool thing about this trip was we were able to try cross country skiing for the first time ever...

Usually in cases like this I like to do research, or take lessons, or you know go with someone who knows what they are doing. Well it turns out this is not how Eric does things. We literally stormed out of work, went to REI and rented ourselves some classic style skies, whatever that means. We went with classic because that is was the guy the day before recommended to us. We gathered up our skis and drove to Kincaid Park.

Now before I post any photos I have to say this. It is fun, but also very challenging to rent any sort of equipment and test it out the moment you want to use it. Meaning, we didn't look at the skies or boots until we were on the trail ready to use them. That makes things that are normally easy, very difficult. It took me about 40 minutes to get the bloody skis on! For anyone that has cross country skied before they know...this is very simple. They just snap on...little did I know that was the case. I kept pressing the release button to put the buggers on! After 40 minutes they magically were on my feet and we began or adventure.

At first thought, not so bad. It is very intuitive and easy to do...on second thought however, hills suck! Both up and down ended with me on my ass and very sore. And what is with those damn grooves? Everytime I would go downhill one ski would end up in one, I would cross legs (not a good feeling) and end up on my shoulder! The pain usually ended with me laughing, but still....damn. But being as I was on this adventure with Eric, we kept pressing on, ending up on intermediate trails and going down steeper and larger hills.

As you can see I was smiling by the end on the night. It was fun to get out and do something different and I did feel like a kid again playing in the snow. Sadly, all my pictures are dark and hard to see due to the whole out late and having a camera without a flash. However, this will not be my last post about our Anchorage adventures in December and cross country skiing. We got out 2 more times before we left Anchorage and I want to post about those (including an incident that involved crushing a perfectly good apple!). Also, I purchased some really kick-ass swag while I was in ANC and will be attempting my first few gear reviews....Happy Trails!

Friday, January 6, 2012

What we have been up to...

Well it has been a while since Eric or I have made a post. To be honest, blogging has taken a backseat to the past month worth of traveling and holidays. Over the course of December Eric and I have made it out cross country skiing (for the first time ever, funny stories to come...), snow boarding, sub-zero degree running, and my first time ever running barefoot! (Epic for me, Eric not so much considering that is just how he runs now...) Alot has happened in a short time, thus the lack of attention this blog has been getting.

For the future there will be more TLC given to this blog considering the winter months are upon us, with little to do but train, eat well, and get lost on trails here in Alaska...I look forward to becoming more active in the blogging community and producing some fun and exciting posts on this site...

Hope everyone had a greet New Years and are ready for the weekend! I know I am...