Thursday, December 29, 2011

Ending AJW's Blog

I started this blog as a place for me to write race reports and to reflect on running and racing. For the past four and half years it has been a great place for me to do that. In addition, over time it has become much more than that as over the past two years this blog has averaged 25,000 pageviews per month.. I never thought that would happen so thanks, everyone, for being interested enough in what I have to say to read this blog.

For now, for me in my life, it's time to move on. On January 1st I'll be shutting down this blog and focusing on the many other things in my life.

If you are interested in what I have to say or what I think or what I am up to or what my training is like there are still many places you can find me:

You can read my weekly column, AJW's Taproom, published every Friday on

You can become my friend on Facebook

You can "follow" me on Twitter

You can check out my training log on

Happy New Year everyone and I'll see you in Squaw!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Run Junkie!

My good friend and erstwhile training partner Hank Dart (yes, that's his real name!) maintains an excellent blog that features outstanding photography and compelling prose. Here is a sample.

Proof that, contrary to popular opinion, Stanford and Harvard can deliver:)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Returning to Running

I am so excited to be running again!

It was way back in August, the 18th exactly, that I came down with a severe case of PF and, I must admit, I haven't felt like a runner until this past week when I successfully ran 50 miles, on hills and trails, and am no worse for wear. In fact, I actually feel good.

Certainly, without a doubt, I am getting progressively older and I need to pay attention to that. In addition, I am not exactly lean and my weight can be a factor in my ability and capacity to go long distances. But, and this is a big but, I think, for now, I am back in the game. And that feels very, very good.

Obviously, this coming summer we have big plans; I'll be running Western States #9 and Hardrock #2. In addition, my family and I will be able to enjoy some quality time out West after spending a year here in the East adapting to our new lives. It's been good but it's not the same as powering through the Sawtooths every day, that's for sure. Furthermore, I have come to a place in my life and with my running that I know what I can do and I accept what I cannot do. That is an eye-opening experience and one that I continue to address every day.

In the end, we all run for our own reasons. Perhaps we run to escape or perhaps we run to evolve or perhaps we run to experience or perhaps we run to emote? We run to live and we live to run.

Some of us run because we want to and others among us run because we have to. We run to open ourselves up and we run to close ourselves down. It's an intensely personal thing and nobody should tell us how to do it, why we should do it, or what it means to us to do it. We know why, how, and for what we run, and that's all that matters. Running takes us places nobody else knows and makes us into the people we are meant to be. That's the way it has always been and the way it always will be. The rest will take care of itself.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Unbreakable" Comments

Saw "Unbreakable" last weekend and loved it. From my perspective, it's the best Western States movie so far. "Desperate Dreams" is a cult classic, "Running Madness" and "Race for the Soul" were nice human interest documentaries but "Unbreakable" took the genre to the next level. Now, I'd love to see JB make a Hardrock film!

Two things I'd like to add that may strike some as nitpicky but I need to get them off my chest so here goes.

1. In the part when Geoff came through in the snow and changed out his bottles with his dad and brother I am pretty sure he was outside the aid station boundary going into Robinson Flat. Again, I know it's a minor detail but I also know that WS cares alot about the rules. And, it is clearly one of their rules that runners can only be crewed at established aid stations. I am not suggesting in any way that anything should be done about it rather that it was something I noticed that could be perceived as a violation of the rules.

2. In both the Foresthill section and the Green Gate section I saw at least two runners being muled by their pacers. Now, it is clearly stated in the WS rule book that you can be "crewed" anywhere in these areas but muling is prohibited. There has always been a blurry line here as often bottles and gels and stuff are getting passed back and forth but blatant muling (pacers carrying the runner's stuff) is expressly against the rules.

So, maybe an unintended consequence of this great film and the close-up exposure JB and his crew gave to the runners in the race is that it showed some aspects of the race that could cause WS obsessives like me to question. Again, I am not saying anything can or should be done about this and, it goes without saying that the film will provide excellent exposure to the sport, but still...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


My battle with Plantar Fasciitis has been well-documented on this blog as I have been struggling with it for about four months. Over the past four weeks I have been able to successfully return to running and am now up to about 50 miles per week. While I don't feel as though the injury is completely gone and I am confident that it is, for the most part, behind me.

Several things have been at play in my recovery; intense physical therapy, Graston treatment, ice and rest, self-massage, etc...But the one thing that has allowed me to return to running most successfully has been a change of shoes. I am not too proud to admit it, Hoka One One Bondi B's have given me my running back!

About a month ago Karl Meltzer contacted me and suggested I give them a shot to give my feet more cushioning. This was followed up by a phone call from my friend, pacer, and unofficial PF consultant who said the very same thing. I picked up a couple pair and have been running pain free ever since.

In this age of minimalist footwear it is clear to me that Hoka are going the other direction. And, indeed, these shoes are not for everyone. But for a guy with a lot of miles on his body, struggling with an injury and the onset of middle age, these puppies have been a lifesaver.

Monday, December 12, 2011


The poll on the right was a fun one, wasn't it? I find it interesting to see that the votes were so close and I can't help but wonder if the ballots were split down gender lines:) One thing I do think is that the irunfar twitter coverage of races has certainly highlighted an interesting aspect of social networking in general and of Twitter in particular. I am not sure about other folks out there but knowing Meghan and Bryon as well as I do I find it remarkable that within their twitter coverage one can get a sense, and I must say a real sense, of their personalities and temperaments.

Bryon's analytical approach peppered with insider knowledge is wonderfully balanced by Meghan's more colorful commentary and humorous one-liners. When you think about it, it's kind of amazing that you can get a sense of a person in 160 characters on your phone. Furthermore, I just love Meghan's use of language with phrases like "not gonna lie", "sadfaced", and "buh-bye" when contrasted with Bryon's matter-of-fact anecdotes about obscure Europeans runners with oddball sponsors. For those disappointed about not getting into WS or HRH look on the bright side, you get to follow the races this summer on Twitter with the two best "voices" in the business.

Which brings me to irunfar itself. I remember when Bryon hatched the idea back in 2007. He was a well-paid attorney living the good life in Washington DC when he got the itch to start irunfar. He had been writing a personal blog for awhile and it was quite good but I could tell he wanted to do more. When he paced me that year at Grand Teton we talked a bit about the whole thing and it was clear he was getting ready to pull the plug. He traveled around getting to know people, he worked tirelessly at the OR Show while the rest of us hung out and drank beer, and he meticulously outlined a plan to bring his vision to life. He sold his house in DC, re-located to a doublewide on the fringe of Yosemite National Park and got to work. A year later he and Meghan moved to Park City, UT to a palatial one bedroom house (well, actually one-and-a-half if you count Bryon's office, aka, the Pink Closet) and the launch was complete.

Today, the website has won awards from Outside Magazine and other media outlets. Bryon and Meghan's reviews and articles appear all over the place, and most ultrarunners I know go to the site first thing every morning. The gear reviews, the interviews, the videos and, of course, the race coverage make irunfar truly like nothing else. It's amazing! Imagine trying to explain it to someone ten years ago! I am not sure anyone would believe it.

So, as another year draws to a close, I want to thank Bryon, and his partner Meghan, for giving us of yourselves in such a selfless and creative manner. I know I speak for many when I say we truly value all you have done as the chroniclers of our sport and I know how hard you have worked to make your dream a reality. Here's to another great year at irunfar in 2012!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

WS Lottery

Interesting notes as we look ahead to the WS lottery this weekend:

Five of the top-10 men from 2011 are registered (lowest # in the last 10 years)
International applications are up
First time applicants are up
Female applicants are down
Five runners are registered to go after finish #10
For the first time in ten years LB is not in the lottery

Good luck everyone.

See you in Squaw!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


With the WS/HRH Double now set the family and I have spent the last 48 hours furiously planning for the summer of 2012. We need to book rooms in Squaw now before the lottery and the masses converge, we need to figure out what to do with the dog during the two races, we need to set up our itinerary of 14'er climbs in early July, we need to make sure all the kinks are out of our travel gear, we need to buy a new car, we need to get a new JetBoil, we need get the idea. It's going to be the "summer of a lifetime."

I must say, I was really really, really hoping this would happen. With my oldest son Carson turning 14 last month, Shelly and I realized the opportunities for full-blown summer vacations were running out. In addition, since we pretty much design our vacations around races, we knew that this three-week window between WS and HRH this year held the key to that one last great escape before life truly takes over. And, it happened.

You see, my family loves WS and HRH. We talk about these races all the time. We sit at dinner over mac and cheese and debate minimalist vs. maximalist shoes as well as the relative difficulties of the "Morton" course vs. the "Jurek" course vs. the "Roes" course. Hell, my kids even know Kyle's splits from the 2008 HRH!

To be frank, my family understands that there is nothing quite like running through the mountains with a bunch of like-minded people who get it. But, from my perspective, when you add to that a family that simply can't wait to get out there with you the experience becomes exponentially more meaningful. I know everyone reading this blog might not understand that but for those who do, you know what I mean. And this post is for you.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

2012 -- The Double (part 2)

#6 on the HRH Waitlist. 20 days between WS and HRH this year. Gonna be a great summer! And, what a stacked field!