Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lydiard, Thoreau, and Training as Vision

Two quick things to draw your attention to, then some remarks on the role of vision in training.

1) A quote from Thoreau: "I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.

"Now put the foundations under them."

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The quote and the film are related. The quote, of course, speaks to the fact that in order to be successful, you have to have a vision. How can you do something well if you don't even know what you want to do? Vision has two moments. The first and most essential aspect of vision is imagination. So much of life involves chasing a mental image. There is a cliche which speaks to this: "Whatever you can dream, you can achieve." What the cliche doesn't say, however, is that dreaming is not so easy. In order to achieve, we have to be able to dream clearly, else we end up chasing vaguely defined ghosts like "success" or "happiness" or "security." The successful imagination is always concrete.

old skool, baby!
The second moment of vision is that it is decisive. A vision says "Yes" to some things, and it says "No" to others. As Thoreau explains, dreams are directive. The field of life itself is large and muddled but the present that we live always narrows the field down to something singular.  Vision is an attempt to choose that singularity intelligently. When Thoreau urges us to choose simplicity, it's because he knows that in the end our lives will have been simplified for us, through the sieve of the present. Better that we embrace this simplicity.

The Lydiard film nicely expresses his vision as a coach. You see training as he saw it, in three parts: 1) It is an endurance activity, which requires a lot of running. 2) It is a sport that requires a dynamic and limber stride. 3) It also takes a certain type of temperament that combines two qualities. His athletes have the confidence to choose winning as their goal. And they also have the spirit to choose to see training as something fun and even joyful.

Keeping focus on these three things can simplify and solve a lot of problems--the laws of running will appear much less complex, and you will have a shot of living among that "higher order of being," the well trained, tireless runner.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interview: Andy Anderson on his Grand Teton Speed Record

Andy Anderson surprised the small world of speed mountaineering by setting two classic FKT marks in a period of two weeks, first on Long's Peak, then on the Grand Teton--just days after Kilian Jornet had taken almost 8 minutes off the mark. Make sure you read his account of his Long's Peak run. This interview focuses on his background as a runner and climber and his Grand Teton ascent.

Special thanks to Christian Beckwith of and Meghan Hicks of for contributing questions to this interview. A huge thanks to Andy. Enjoy!

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LLD: What's your background with speed mountaineering/climbing/scrambling and trail running, the two disciplines required for a Grand Teton FKT?

AA: I started running in middle school and loved running and racing cross country in middle school, high school, and college. I was a terrible runner on the track. In reality I don't have that much speed, as Jeff, who out-kicked me in pretty much every race we ever ran, can attest to. Luckily, growing up in Chattanooga and then going to college at Williams College, I was able to do most of my training on trails and in the woods. So, I have been running trails for the last 20 years or so.

I began climbing back then also, starting on the sandstone crags of Tennessee in high school. I was fortunate enough to land a job at the local gear store – Rock/Creek Outfitters, where I spent most of my paycheck on the gear I needed and was surrounded by other climbers at work. Climbing still had a speed component to it back then for me, just because I loved it so much. My first speed climbing adventures were racing to and from the Tennessee Wall with my buddy Sam Davis after high school to try to get in as much climbing as possible between the end of class and 2 ½ hours later when we had to pick our younger siblings up after “real” sports practice.

Combining running and scrambling/climbing seems like a natural synthesis for me. I am not very good at carrying heavy packs and I like to sleep at night, so I have to try to get things done without needing much stuff or time. Of course this has also resulting in some pretty epic, cold miserable, uh, adventures.

Although I love both sports, when taken separately, I am pretty mediocre at climbing and running. I guess for some reason I am able to combine them well, probably because I have always done them together and because most climbers don't really like running and most runners don't really do much rock climbing. When it comes to actual speed climbing long difficult routes like you might find in Yosemite, I am pretty much terrible at that. What I am okay at is scrambling around mountains and moving efficiently over rugged terrain.

LLD: Do you race trail races/ultramarathons? If so, which have you previously run?

AA: Yes – I love racing: road races, trail races, ultras, etc, but I am not actually that fast. I am usually lucky enough to finish in the top few places. One of my favorite races is actually Rock/Creek's Stumpjump 50k especially when I can talk Jeff or my brother John (both of whom are actually faster than me, but don't tell them I admitted that). I also really enjoy racing in the coast range of CA during the winter and spring races like the Muir Woods Marathon or the Pacifica 50k or Way Too Cool are great fun. The Zane Grey 50 miler with my brother also holds some great memories for me. I would love to get to race more but I have to work on the weekends for most of the year and for some reason people don't really put on races on on Wednesdays.

Andy and your blogger at our first -- and one of Rock Creek's first -- trail race.

LLD: What inspired you to go after this record at this time? Was it coincidental that you went for speed just a week or so after another mountain runner, Kilian Jornet, re-set Thatcher's record?

AA:  Total coincidence, although it certainly helped to try and chase Kilian's time. Ever since I volunteered in the Tetons in the early 2000's I have wanted to go back and try to break 3 hours – My wife and I were able to get some days off together last week, and I had been planning on going up there and to try to run the Grand all summer. I have to admit I really wanted to be the first one to break three hours, but kudos to Kilian for getting up there and breaking that barrier! As I said earlier having his shadow out in front of me definitely pushed me to run faster.

LLD: I'm sure you've spent time on this route. How many times have you been up and down the Grand? Did you practice on the route immediately before going for the record?

AA: I volunteered for the Jenny Lake Rangers (the climbing rangers) in 2000, 2001, 2002. During that time I did get to climb the Grand quite a few times. It has been 10 years since then and I have not been back up the peak in that time. I only had time and the energy for one shot at it on this trip so I figured I could remember the route well enough from 10 years ago – turns out I am old and forgetful and got a bit off route near the top, but I don't think it really cost me any time. It just made me pay more attention on the way down.

LLD: What was the biggest challenge for you and your body/mind that day?

AA: Trying to motivate to drive home after running. It didn't happen. I was too tired, sore, and old to jump in the car and drive 9 hours back to Estes Park. I ended up having to miss a day of work. Ironically, 2 hours after finishing the Grand for the first time back in 1997 my brother John and I drove for 36 hours straight to make it college just in time for our first day of class and afternoon cross country practice. Of course our climb was quite a bit more epic as well. We camped at the Caves in Granet Canyon and started climbing in the wee hours of the morning. To make a long, long, long climb into a short story, we ended up on the top around 14 hours later and got back to our camp by about 1 am. We packed up and walked out to the trailhead by around 4 am. A solid 24hr epic climb of the Grand. After about 2 hours of sleep we got some breakfast and started that epic drive. That is a feat I will probably never repeat. Chalk up a point for “ghost of my former self”. 

John and Andy at the summit of the Grand, back in the day.

LLD: You stayed on the defined trail where it exists, I hear. There's been some hype about shortcuts. Did you do any shortcutting, anywhere?

AA: I did stay on the trail. I think it is actually faster for me. Even though shortcuts may save a little distance, they probably don't save me any time because I just cannot run that fast on such steep downhills. On the other hand the trails are so nice and well maintained that blasting down them as fast as you can run is great fun. Plus, people look at you funny when you are careening down a trail like a mad man. I also knew that Bryce Thatcher did not use shortcuts, nor did I in previous attempts at the 3 hour mark, and the park does not like folks to use them. In different areas shortcuts are not as frowned on as they are in this park. In Europe, for example, where most of Kilian's experience comes from it, it is not a big deal. Without knowing the history of the ethics and the local customs, you have to make your decision within your own experience. Ironically, even though shortcutting a trail may be a bigger issue for us than it is on the other side of the Atlantic, we don't seem to be able to pass comprehensive climate change legislation, hmmm. I bet that if/when Kilian comes back he can go just as fast if not faster using the trail. He is a pretty darn speedy guy. Who knows, he might be able to do it even faster on skis!

LLD: You're a climbing ranger, what exactly is your job? You work at Rocky Mountain National Park? Are you permanent or seasonal? If seasonal, what do you do in the off-season? What are some of your other hobbies? How long have you been a climbing ranger?

AA: As a climbing ranger, I get to climb and hike in the mountains 40 hours a week. While we move around the mountains we try to talk to climbers and hikers and give them good advice/beta. Hopefully they can use the info to have a great time enjoying the mountains in a safe way. We also make sure that these wild places stay wild and scenic by helping people understand how to treat the mountains and take care of them as a resource. Another large part of our job is helping people out when they get hurt or stranded in park. As climbing rangers we serve as part of the National Park's Search and Rescue team. My climbing ranger job is a seasonal one. I have been working/volunteering as a climbing ranger for the past 13 summers – 3 as a volunteer in the Tetons, 5 as a paid ranger at Rainier, and 5 as a paid ranger at Rocky. In the winter, I work as an avalanche forecaster for the Tahoe National Forest / Sierra Avalanche Center in Lake Tahoe. Let's see hobbies, well I like long sunset walks on the beach, no wait I actually don't really like the beach. I love hanging out with my two-year old Huck and my wife, I love climbing, running, and skiing. I like to dabble in computer programming and other generally dorky sciencey sorts of things.

Andy's wife Rebecca took these sweet pics.

LLD: You also broke the Long's Peak round trip record just a couple weeks earlier. How is this run different than Long's? Was the extra 2000 vertical feet a lot tougher?

AA: They are very different mountains and a very different runs. An extra 2000 vertical and about an extra hour of running represent the most obvious differences. The approach to the climbing section of the Grand requires less route finding than on Longs, but it is significantly longer and more runnable. On the Grand I just stayed on the trail till the Lower Saddle. On Longs I pieced together old trails and talus fields into the most runnable and direct route to the base of the North Face. Once you hit the climbing section on the Grand, the route becomes more complex and route finding becomes trickier. As I said earlier, I lost the main route on the way up and ended up staying left of the standard summit route above the chimneys of the Owen Spalding route. On Longs the technical climbing on the North Face is shorter and much more obvious. As for effort, I was really tired after both of them. 

LLD: For those who are not familiar with the FKT protocols, how do you time something like this?

AA: I am not sure that there are any real protocols. It is truly an honor system that it seems like everyone respects. A ranger friend of mine and I were joking after I got back that we would have to install a chip timing system at the trailhead with a split pad on the summit to make these things legit. Some people have GPS watches or take photos along the way but I don't have a GPS watch and carrying a camera would definitely slow me down, as there are always too many beautiful scenes in the mountains that I would love photograph. For me I start my watch when I leave the trailhead and then stop it when I get back. Hopefully it doesn't break or fall off along the way. I also look at the clock time as a sort of backup. On this run I started and stopped my watch at the Lupine Meadows Trailhead sign, and the clock time was a little after 9am when I left and around noon when I got back.

LLD: What was the most out-of-control part? The most fun part? Were they the same?

AA: The whole thing is fun. It is just great to feel like you can move fast through the mountains. This time I think that the last four miles of trail were the most fun because they reminded me of racing in college. I had to focus every step of the way to maintain speed or else I would have slowed down. And I knew I was going to be close so I was running as fast as I could. It has been a while since I ran 4 miles at 5:30 pace which will sound pretty slow to all of the fast runners out there. Still for me it felt like I was flying.

LLD: There's a backstory here... didn't you unknowingly have the record once before and then not tell anyone about it?

AA: During the summers that I volunteered for the Jenny Lake rangers, I saw folks like Rolo sailing through the Tetons linking up all of the major mountains before lunch and watched the Jenny Lake crew modestly go about their business of saving lives. It was all pretty inspiring for a 23yr old kid. My second summer of volunteering I decided to try my hand at running some of the peaks. I would run up Teewinot after work and ran up the Grand a few times. Somehow I had heard a rumor that Rolo ran the Grand in 2:58. The closest I ever got to breaking the 3 hour mark back then was one day late in August of 2001 when I ran the Owen Spalding in 3:04 and change car to car. I thought this time was a solid 6 minutes away from the record so I didn't really mention it to anyone. I figured I needed to train more and try harder. I also was too in awe of Rolo to actually ask him how fast he went up the Grand. About three years ago I heard the the actual record on the Grand during that time was Bryce's 3:06. At that point, 7 years after my run, I did not feel comfortable piping and saying something like, “Hey guys, guess what? 7 years ago I ran it in 3:04!” Learning this fact actually just inspired me to try to do it again both to see if I could actually beat my 20-something self and to maybe have a legitimate claim on the record. I guess old man Andy gets the point this time. Of course knowing this story it makes me think that there is probably some random person out there who has actually done it faster than all of us.

LLD: How do runs like this compare to road races, trail, races, or other more "normal" runs?

AA: Totally different. Parts of the course may be undefined so there are always route finding issues. There are times when you are not running at all, and of course there is the fact that falling in certain places would result in much more than a few scrapes; i.e., death after falling thousands of feet. Of course those consequences also tend to help you maintain your focus. It requires ability to move efficiently over all kinds of terrain. It combines the two things I love: running and climbing. Even though I am mediocre at both, there just aren't that many people who combine the two. Once it becomes more popular I bet most of these times will become old pieces of trivia.

LLD: What did you take with you?

AA: My old employer Rock/Creek started a trail racing series years ago. The first trail race I ran was actually the first on they put on back in 1997. Jeff and I ran the 10 miler together and had a great time. This has grown into a series of incredible trail races in the Chattanooga area including one of my favorites: The Stumpjump 50k. To go with these race they now sponsor a team and are generous enough to give me some stuff to run in through out the year. 

For the Grand I used the following gear:
Patagonia Airflow Shirt (Thank you Rock/Creek)
Patagonia Strider Shorts (Thank you Rock/Creek)
Scarpa Epic Shoes
Patagonia Lightweight Merino Run Anklet Socks
Scrawny, funny-looking, extra-long, chicken legs enabling a looooongg stride length (just ask Jeff) courtesy of Yogi and Joli Anderson

As for food I took, one pack of caffinated Clif Shot Bloks, 4 packs of caffinated Clif Shots, 3 electrolyte pills, and no water. I drank water along the way. My wife asked if I was worried about giardia, my reply, “Well, if I can run fast, getting sick in two weeks will be worth it.” So far so good, but maybe I will change my mind in another week if I am sitting on the toilet with the trash can in front of me.

LLD: Did you have a plan?I heard you had a friend who climbed from the upper saddle to the summit with you? Who was your friend? Why did he join you there?

I had a pretty simple plan: run up as fast as I could then haul ass back down. I figured if I gave it my best shot I could get close to the record. Lucky for me another one of the climbing rangers from Rocky, Jess Asmussen came up to the Tetons with us. He really wanted to run the Grand as well. He left the trailhead a while before me and met me at the Upper Saddle just before the techincal climbing. Like me he was hoping that I remembered the route to the summit. I ended up off route to the left of the catwalk, and he ended up following the standard route. We both hit the summit benchmark at about the same time where some other climbers nochanlantly asked, “So what are you guys doing tomorrow?” What they did not know was that after running the Grand in close to 4 hours, Jess was planning on climbing the CMC route on Mt. Moran the next day. As for me I was hoping to be able to walk at all. Then we headed down the technical section together. It was pretty awesome to be able to share that part of the climb/run with a good friend. Once we hit the upper saddle we parted ways again, and I took off downhill.

LLD: What were your splits?

AA: 1:48:02 up
1:05:00 down 
Overall 2:53:02

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Mythology of Lance Armstrong

Sport is different from life, but it is also a part of life. It's this tension that makes the whole Lance issue so difficult.

We can pretend that sport is its own pure realm, a kind of fantasy place where rules ensure fairness, where hard effort and teamwork leads directly to victory, a sort of pure meritocracy of talent and physical genius. This is the ideal of sport. It's a kind of false reality that we construct. If we construct it well, then winning and competing mean something -- because the rules of the game ensure a relative degree of fairness.

We build this reality because life is decidedly unlike the realm of sport. The rules of life are vague and shifting. Success is open to interpretation. One of the very first things we learn as children is that life is simply not fair. The goal in life, therefore, is not to win or compete, but to survive and, with luck, flourish. 

Let's put it this way. When something goes wrong in sport, you lose. When something goes wrong in life, something worse than losing can happen.

The difficulty in judging Lance comes from the fact that in his case the lines between sport and life became so muddied that they are almost indistinguishable. If this were a pure sporting issue, then we could just say Lance broke the rules of the game and so therefore he is no longer a winner. It would be as trivial as catching someone illegally moving pieces in a chess match. The match would be thrown, and the title awarded to someone else.

But at some point the fantasy world of sport touches that other reality of life, where things larger and weightier than winning and losing take place. In the Lance case -- and this is the case in almost all sports now that they have become fully professionalized -- the fantasy is all mixed up with the reality. 

First, doping. The reason doping is illegal is not simply that it is unfair. It's that it's dangerous. Doping is not just against the rules of sport; it also runs up against the reality of life. Doping not only wrongs the others playing the game, but it creates a culture in which the only path to success in sport is also the path to debilitating physical conditions or even death. What Lance did was wrong not just because it created an unfair competitive situation (and it could even be argued that he doped to CREATE a fair competitive situation) but primarily because his doping and trafficking of drugs, as well as the encouragement of his team to do so, contributed to a culture of doping that was dangerous to cyclists as human beings. His violations were not just at the level of sport -- they were ethical violations at the level of life.

Second, cancer. Lance was not just a great cyclist. He was a cancer survivor and philanthropist. Here again, Lance consciously blurred the boundary of sport and life. When Lance rode, he wasn't just scoring a victory for himself. He was doing it for those who have struggled with and succumbed to cancer. His victories didn't look like winning a game. They looked more like the deeper moments of success in life. In this sense, Lance was not just a winner. He was a hero. His wins were not just about individual glory, but about the possibility of fighting through sickness and tragedy. This was not about a cyclist winning stages, but about a man winning back his life.

Third, country.  Sport is political from the outset, and Lance Armstrong represented American triumph. At a time when America's possibilities seemed endless; the beginning of this new century, Lance Armstrong emerged with that All-American name, that Texas-burnt face, and in the middle of our opulence and superpower lethargy, Lance was a symbol that America deserved our position in the world. Lance basically went over to Europe year after year and whupped ass--at a European sport. Americans who knew nothing about cycling and who wouldn't really even watch the sport loved the guy because he was the perfect image of us. Bold, arrogant, hard working, straightforward, talented -- basically a superpower on a bicycle. He was everything George Bush turned out not to be. Here the fantasy of sport got all wrapped up in the fantasy of America. We needed to believe -- and perhaps still need to believe -- that we truly are exceptional. That we have the one guy in the world who can beat everyone else even though they are all doped up. In this way Lance funded this myth of American exceptionalism, and that's why we loved him and wanted to believe that he was clean.

In the end, Lance was not just an athlete. He was more like a Homeric hero--the parallels with Achilles are quite incredible. He was a mythology. The role of mythology is to bridge fantasy with reality, and this is why, in the end, all myths must be exposed. Reality always proves to be too much. We end up trying to piece back together the broken shards of fantasy. This is the nature of tragedy.

Myths always fail because to be a truly mythological character, you can't be truly alive. You aren't a person -- complex, growing, and eventually dying. You are an idea -- cold, permanent, representative. After the idea of Lance has broken apart (athletic careers never last forever), we will be left only with a person. Lance himself will be forced to come to terms with the reality of his life. I imagine some day soon, he will.

But the American public? Will we come to terms with the myth that was broken? See the human, all-too-human side of it? It's doubtful. In the next week or so, that myth will simply be forgotten in the mad rush to create new fantasies. After all, football season is starting. Reality be damned.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Push the Tempo -- Another Long's Peak FKT

The following piece is written by Andy Anderson, who is a climbing ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park. Andy set a new fastest known time up Long's Peak last summer, and last week he took almost four more minutes off that time and broke the ascent record, which had stood since 1982. The official stats: 1:56:46 for the round trip, 1:14:08 up, 42:38 down. You can read more about the history of the record here. Andy has been nice enough to provide us a view from the inside of that run. --LLD

Update: Andy broke the Grand Teton round trip record yesterday (8/22). Here's his interview about that record.

*  *  *

Ah, 6:30 am on a Wednesday morning, my last day off and I am awake before my 2 year old son. Not only did he sleep all night, but the neighbors also took a night off from the 2am disco parties they have been having all summer. A good night sleep was had by all.

"Daddy! Huck's awake! Ready to get up! Want to eat strawberry yogurt!" comes piping in from the room next door in an oh-so-cute but oh-so-demanding high pitched voice. Well, at least I had a solid 30 seconds of time to enjoy the quiet morning.

"Do you want to run first or do you mind if I go?" I roll over and ask my wife. This question usually follows Huck's morning greetings, since my wife and I both love to run.

"You can go ahead" she replies.

Andy, just after his Long's run.
I hop out of bed and grab Huck who is all smiles and laughter this morning. I notice that my legs are feeling pretty darn spry after taking a day off from running yesterday. Legs feel good, I slept all night, hmm, maybe I should go for a longer faster run today. "Reb, would you mind if I tried to run up Longs Peak this morning?"

"Sounds great, as long as you run fast and can be home to watch Huck before my 10:30 meeting," comes her response mingled with peals of 2yr old laughs from the bedroom.

Sweet. I have been meaning to run Longs again all summer. Last summer I was lucky enough to break the round trip record with a time of just over 2 hours. When I got back down, I found out that I had missed the ascent record by 1 second. That fact had been nagging me ever since. Enough time had also elapsed since then for me to imagine I might be able to go faster. On top of those two facts, I had been seeing more runners on the mountain this summer, including the likes of Anton Krupika (aka Adonis). I figured I should give it another go before these younger, stronger, faster, and definitely more handsome guys pushed this old, balding, scrawny guy back into oblivion.

I eat some breakfast: cereal, hot chocolate, caffinated GU dissolved in water, crank some Shakira on the stereo, and get dressed. Its 7:30 now which gives me 3 hours to get up there and back. This includes at least 40 minutes for driving time. That leaves 2 hours and 20 minutes to warmup and run the Peak. "I love you guys, I will see you in a couple hours!" I say as I head out the door.

"Daddy! Want to give you a hug!" Who could ever refuse such a request? 7:35 now and I am out the door for take 2. On the way to the trailhead, I matched my driving style to the classic and thoughtful soundtrack of "Push the Tempo" by Fat Boy Slim on repeat at full volume. The song only has three words, "push the tempo," sung to a raging techno beat for several minutes. Its a good one to get stuck in your head. The message is pretty clear.

By the time I get the trailhead, my heart is racing, adrenaline coursing through my viens, and I am ready to go. Screeeeeech. No parking except for one small parallel spot. Nothing like some New York style 10,000 point parallel parking to get get me pysched up. Oh well, more time to fully memorize my three word techno song and to drink the rest of my caffeinated GU water.

I warmed up in a futile attempt to avoid burning legs and lungs in the first five minutes of my ascent and started up the 5000 ft ascent. After about 30 seconds my lungs started to burn and a few seconds later my legs followed suit, so much for the warm up. Lucky for me, my techno brainwashing worked and only three words race through my head: "push the tempo, push the tempo, push the tempo...."

The route I chose goes straight up the mountain for about 5.5 miles using a series of old trails below treeline and talus fields above treeline. It culminates in about 200 ft of 5.4 climbing right on the edge of the Diamond followed a section of 3rd class terrain to the summit. Needless to say it is pretty darn steep the whole way up. In my mind I pretend that the short less-steep sections along the way offer some recovery.

The first steep push lasts about 10 minutes then the route levels off some. My legs have stopped protesting and resigned themselves to the fact that yet again my brain is making them do something silly. My breathing has evened out as well, so I follow the advice in my head and push the tempo. If I can pretend that this part of the route is "flat," then I might as well pretend I can recover while running faster.

I hit the next steep section which takes me up to treeline. My legs and lungs again try to talk me out of this run, but luckily my brain isn't listening. The wind picks up above treeline as it always does on Longs. I keep running up, up, up trying my best to bound up the scree and float across the tundra. After just over 1 hour of running, I am at Chasm View where the Diamond and the North Face intersect. The winds die down a bit here so I've got that going for me, which is nice. This point marks the start of the 5.4 climbing. My pace is right on, and I should make it to the top in less than 15 minutes. Running water left over from last night's rain still covers sections of the climb.

Here's the section of climbing on the North Face of Long's that Andy is referring to.

I move efficiently up the pitch, taking care to make sure that I stay secure and safe during this short section of climbing. This pace allows me to catch my breath and recover for a couple of minutes before the final push to the summit. At the top of the 5.4 section I take off again. Huffing and puffing I "sprint" at a pace that most runners would consider a slow jog up the final third class section to the summit, tag the summit boulder, look at my watch (1:14:08 YES!), and before most folks on top realize I am there I spin around and start running pell mell back down to the wet 5.4 dihedral.

I slow down for the downclimb. This part takes me longer than going up the pitch, but I really don't want to screw it up. Once I hit the base of the climbing, I am running again dodging boulders and aiming for loose scree that will help me slide down the mountain. Running across the tundra and talus back down toward treeline I managed to fall twice. Fortunately this technique may have actually made me move faster as I rolled down the hill. Its too bad I couldn't figure out how to roll all the way down the mountain.

I made it back below treeline with plenty of time to spare. I might actually break 2 hours on this trip. I hit the one section of the main trail that I use on this route and let loose. Yahoo, I am going to make it. What could possible go wrong now! Whoa, roll, tumble, ouch, doh. Arghhh. I am only about five minutes from the trailhead and I just rolled my ankle. Lucky for me adrenaline works better than ibuprofen. After a few seconds of pain, I am back on my feet and running down the hill albeit with a bit more awkward stride. I hit the last steep part of the run and sprint down towards the trailhead. Past the old power line trail, across the creek, and down the last hundred yards to the Ranger Station. Stop the watch: 1:56:46.

I catch my breath and show the folks at the station. They take some photos and write the times down. I head for the car. Its just after 10am and I need to get back for my day with Huck. As I turn the car on, my eardrums almost explode. Ack, what loud obnoxious music is this? There's only three words in this song!

*  *  *

Andy, modeling his SICK Rock/Creek gear.

Here is a list of the gear I used:
Patagonia Airflow Shirt (Thank you Rock/Creek)
Patagonia Strider Shorts (Thank you Rock/Creek)
Scarpa Epic Shoes
Patagonia Lightweight Merino Run Anklet Socks
Forehead extender for added aerodynamics courtesy of Anderson genetics
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