Friday, November 22, 2013

Ready For Winter

It certainly feels like fall is gone, with temperatures nearing the single digits when we get up. Sam spent a week with our friendly neighbors to the north at Silver Star, and heads to West Yellowstone this afternoon to get some more good training time on snow before the first race of the season held there next weekend. Meanwhile, I'm as excited for winter as I ever have been. Sam and Nikki's love of the white stuff has finally rubbed off on me. I found a slammin' deal on a new backcountry setup, and while snow is accumulating in the big mountains, Nikki and I went up our beloved Cutthroat on my touring skis.

Nikki has been ready for winter for months. Nine months, to be exact.

I'll also be coaching little kiddos this year for the Nordic Team, which I'm really looking forward to. Today is a brilliant sunny, cold day and while it's lovely, I can't help but wish it were dumping snow right now. Hopefully when we're back from West Yellowstone after the holiday, we'll have skiing out the door. Until then, enjoy the sun, and do some snow dances.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Driveway Butte Hill Climb Results

Thanks to all the racers and volunteers who braved the rainy (and snowy, at the top), cold weather yesterday for the Driveway Butte Hill Climb.

Here are the results.

The race yesterday marked the last of the year, on our schedule. We have some fun things in store for next year, so either get on our email list, or like us on Facebook. See you soon!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Mazama Ski Clinic and Madshus Demo!

 This coming January we're excited to partner with Methow Olympic Development to offer our first day-long ski clinic, featuring three incredible coaches and some fantastic learning opportunities!

The Mazama Ski Clinic and Demo Day will be held on Saturday, January 18, 2014, based at the Mazama Community Center. The clinic cost (lunch included) is $100, and for that you get top-flight instruction from our coaches:

Sam Naney - Methow Endurance coach/co-founder; current professional ski racer
Scott Johnston - Former US Ski Team member, current coach of Sam and the Methow Olympic Development racing team
Alan Watson - Former US Ski Team member and former University of Utah Head ski coach

The clinic will go from 9am - 3pm and will include a sandwich lunch provided by the delicious Mazama Store kitchens. We are limiting participation to the first twenty sign-ups to make sure we've got a great small-group feel, and will do our best to divvy up the groups by ability level so everyone gets the most focused attention. Focuses will include basic and advanced technique in both skate and classic, as well as more specialized instruction (as applicable) in up/downhills, cornering, and wax selection and application.

But that's not all...

We're also psyched to partner with Madshus Skis to offer equipment demos throughout the day. This demo is OPEN TO THE PUBLIC in addition to clinic participants. It will be a rare and exciting chance to try out the latest innovations from the World's foremost Nordic equipment manufacturer. Clinic participants who are anxious to take part in the demos should plan to arrive early to get set up with their demos before the 9am clinic start time.

Keep reading...

We'll also be handing out some uber-sweet Helly Hansen Nordic training apparel - only for clinic participants!

Again, we're limiting the participation to the first twenty signups; after that we'll start a waiting list and notify everyone of their status. So get there first and ensure your spot....


Thank you to clinic sponsors:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

2014 Women's Ski and Yoga Retreat

Another bluebird day on the trails (photo by Sun Mountain Lodge)
Ladies, it's time to start thinking about a weekend of fun! Fall may have just started, but it's never too early to start daydreaming of skiing through beautifully groomed trails on a bluebird day.

The 12th annual Women's Ski and Yoga Retreat at Sun Mountain Lodge! Held February 28-March 2, 2014, this weekend is all about relaxing and having fun with other women in the Methow's own winter wonderland. Whether you are brand new to the sport or are an experienced skier, there is something for everyone; our expert coaching team will help you become more proficient in both skate and classic skiing in a friendly, supportive environment. 

Each day we'll start with yoga practice, fuel for the day with a delicious breakfast, then have morning and afternoon ski sessions (with a break for more delicious food, of course) on portions of the 65 kilometers of beautifully groomed ski trails Sun Mountain has to offer. Top it off with a post-ski stretch, and relax with new friends.

During your free time, sit with a good book at the fire; take in the beautiful mountain views with a soothing soak in the hot tub; or get a reviving massage for your tired muscles. With ski and yoga instruction for every level, everyone can treat themselves to this wonderful weekend.

The retreat cost is $325 and includes: ski instruction, trail passes, yoga sessions, breakfasts and lunches, and Friday night wine and hors d'oeuvres. Rooms and other activities are additional. Sun Mountain Lodge offers a special room rate for retreat participants of $113 + tax per night, single or double occupancy. Additional persons are $10 per person, per night (four person maximum per room). Call Sun Mountain Lodge directly to make room reservations at: 800-572-0493.
photo by Sun Mountain Lodge
Click here for a peek at what's in store.

Make sure to register early to ensure your spot! To register: complete this form and then pay by either mailing a check to the address below, or use your credit card or PayPal account by following the links under the Retreat info at our "Events" tab above. 

Methow Endurance, PO Box 196, 
Winthrop, WA, 98862        

This retreat fills every year, so don't miss out! For any questions, email me at:

Now bring on the snow!

Registration deadline is Friday, January 31, 2014. Please note, no refunds will be given after this date.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Upcoming Race: Driveway Butte Hill Climb! New Category!

Mark your calendars on November 2nd for the 3rd Annual Methow Endurance Driveway Butte Hill Climb! Long regarded as a training standard for local and regional endurance athletes, Driveway Butte is a great way to test your summer fitness and see how you stack up against your friends and neighbors.

Starting at Klipchuck Campground, a mere ten minute drive from Mazama, the Hill Climb ascends over 1500ft in 2.5 miles to a beautiful notch in the ridge, offering spectacular views of the Washington Pass area and Silver Star peak. Not that you'll be looking...the climb is relentless, with nary a flat stretch from beginning to end. Given its late fall placement, the trail often has a thin layer of snow covering it, adding an element of challenge to the already lung-burning adventure...

The 2011 racer field at the finish
Get your legs ready for breaking trail in January!

This year we're excited to offer an additional category: Backcountry Skier! Wintertime in the Methow Valley is a magical time for vertical junkies, who earn their turns skinning up into the highest reaches of the North Cascades. To honor (and challenge) them, we're opening a "Backcountry Skier" category of the race, where racers must heft a standard load of backcountry ski (or snowboard) equipment up to the finish. Specifically, their gear must include the following:

- Metal-edged backcountry skis or snowboard (skis must utliize Randonee or Telemark cable bindings)
- Backcountry-specific boots (no Nordic racing/touring boots)
- Rescue gear: Shovel and probe
- 1 liter of water
- Poles

The equipment can be carried in any fashion you wish, either on a pack or in hand, but it all must arrive at the finish with you. A one-minute penalty will be added for any missing piece!

This year's running should be the biggest yet, with anticipated athletes arriving from Seattle, Leavenworth, and British Columbia to join our local competitors. Registration is $15 for racers over 18 years of age, and $10 for under-18 year olds. There will be a $5 additional fee for day-of-race registration, which will be open from 7:30 to 8:15am.

Like all Methow Endurance events, a portion of the proceeds for the race will go to a local charity. For this year, we will be donating to Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a local non-profit dedicated to helping provide Christmas food baskets and much-needed resources to local families in need during the holiday season.

To register for the race, please use our Webscorer registration page:

See the registration on Webscorer
Webscorer - 

We hope to see you there! 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The "Methow" Experience

Everyone who has visited or lived in the Methow knows of its beauty and the hold it takes on you, compelling you to hike, bike, run, ski and bask your way through day after day of incredible sunshine and scenery. The Valley doesn't have any one "clique" of athletes/adventurers; everyone dips their feet into each pool. The bikers get invited to climb the Beckey Route with the alpinists; the skiers get convinced to go for a run with the runners; the hikers are persuaded to try and see if riding their mountain bike up and down Cutthroat may in fact be more fun than hiking it. We all have a great and humbling time while trying the new activities, and are rarely content to stick within one mold.

The Methow Valley Sports Trails Association (MVSTA) has been perhaps the most influential in creating the above scenario. For several decades now MVSTA has hosted and managed amazing events and festivals dedicated to celebrating the splendor of this place and to encourage people young and old to try their hand at an outdoor activity. With Methow Endurance, we humbly aspire to continue carrying that flag with our own events, bringing newcomers and veterans together in a shared enjoyment of the outdoors and personal improvement.
A group of up-and-comers raring to go at this year's Methow Endurance 5/10km, an event made famous for many years by MVSTA
Yesterday, Alison and I embarked on a run which ended up being a bit longer than expected. We made the mistake of using a Washington Gazetteer for mileage estimates, and assumed the route chosen would be about 25 miles and take somewhere in the neighborhood of six hours. Instead, it was more like 35 miles and took about eight and a half hours. But it was spectacular, and took us over several mountain passes, including Slate Pass and Grasshopper Pass on the PCT. While we were on the run we encountered numerous groups and couples partaking in their own forms of mountain enjoyment. One local couple was excited to be venturing onto a new part of the PCT on a day hike; they've explored all over the Valley but never gone south from Hart's Pass. Another young woman was encouraging her new husband to make the moderate trek to Tatie Peak to see the vista; he was meanwhile wishing he'd done a few more hikes beforehand...

Running along the PCT, south from Hart's Pass
A misconception which Alison and I, through Methow Endurance, are trying to dispel is that "training" is only for athletes. In our minds, you "train" to get better at something, anything. The burgeoning cook "trains" their hands to chop onions faster and cleaner so they don't sob their way through a French Onion soup preparation. The 65-year old recovering from a knee replacement "trains" himself to lift a weight in a certain way which will help strengthen his leg again. And yes, the runner makes two-hour efforts faster as a way to "train" toward a better marathon finish.

The "Methow" Experience is about adventure, exploration, and challenge. It's about "training" yourself to adapt to a new effort, whether that effort is hiking Maple Pass AND Cutthroat in one day, or to prepare for your first American Birkebeiner 50km ski race. We see those goals, all of them, and we are as inspired by the novice hiker as we are the veteran skier.

Monday, July 29, 2013

**Summer Training Special** A One-Month Training Plan for $75!!

For the month of August we're offering a slamming deal for folks interested in injecting a bit of organization, structure and help into their fitness efforts. For first-time Methow Endurance coaching clients, if you sign up before August 15th you'll qualify for a special of $75 for the first month of training. No strings attached, no long-term commitments. We're confident that once you recognize the benefits a coach brings, you'll want more!

Our goal is to spread the message that intelligent coaching and fitness support doesn't need to be expensive; our base "Mt Gardner" coaching plan is only $100/month. For that price, you get individualized training plans and workout descriptions, and weekly check-ins with your coach to monitor your progress and adjust as needed. If you sign up now, that first month is only $75!

Not sure if you need a coach? Don't think you deserve one? Here's a short list of those who can benefit significantly from Methow Endurance coaching

- People working full time who want to stay active, but can't commit more than 30min-1hour per day

- Young athletes trying to prepare for high school competition seasons

- Lifelong athletes looking to attain the next level of fitness after years of plateauing

- And many more!!

Call or email us today with questions or to sign up!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Colorado, California and Utah, Oh My!

Trying out my new La Sportiva duds. They make great clothing, too!
This spring I was super excited to be named to the La Sportiva Mountain Running team. I've always loved their trail shoes, and couldn't help feeling proud to be recognized worthy of a sponsorship. Sportiva now sponsors our events and has given me the fabulous opportunity to participate in three of their Mountain Cup races this summer. The fun begins next weekend, in Manitou Springs, Colorado, at the Barr Trail Mountain Race. The 14ish mile run climbs up to (gasp-literally!) 10,000ft, then turns around and goes back to the start. This will be my first race at altitude, which is both exciting and a little nerve-wracking. Next up will be Table Rock 27k, in the Marin Headlands, outside of San Francisco. Aside from the race, I'm psyched to get to check out my friends Devon and Nathan's new bakery and cafe, MH Bread and Butter.

I'll take a break from the Mountain Cup for a weekend to do the Speedgoat 50k, in Utah, the last weekend of the month, where I'll get a chance to run at altitude again, for more than twice the distance. Matt Hart took this awesome video if you're interested in seeing the glorious course: my goal is not to die during the 11,000 feet of climbing. One of my best friends is getting married that day, so while I'm suffering up one of the many climbs, I can transport myself to a beautiful wedding in Maine. 

Then I'll come home and try to work as little as possible and eat. A lot.  I figure that's also a perfect time to process a bunch of fruit, and rest up for the next race on the Mountain Cup, the Jupiter Peak Steeplechase, back in Utah the following weekend. Of course the next weekend is Rainshadow Running's Angel Staircase race, which is my favorite James puts on. If I am still standing, I may not be able to resist doing the 60k, but we'll have to see. I may spend the next week or seven sprawled on a rock beside the river.

Joking aside, this whole race calendar is yet another reminder of how lucky I am. If someone would have told me ten years ago that I'd be running on the La Sportiva team; traveling around the west to race; have a successful massage business in the mountains; and have an awesome dog and husband, I definitely would not believe it. Well, I might believe the awesome dog part.  The founder of the massage school I went to cautioned us as we wrote our business plans: "be careful what your write, as it's likely to happen." I looked over said business plan a couple weeks ago and sure enough, nearly everything I listed for my five year goals is now my reality. I'm not sure how much I believe in the idea of the universe conspiring to make things happen, but it does seem quite amazing what can happen if you keep certain goals in mind and remain open to both letting and making things happen. I'm getting a little woo-woo now, so I best get to making food for tomorrow's run that is my most current and short-term goal. Fueling for all this is a whole other post.

If anyone has any favorite coffee shops, jewelry or (other cool stuff) shops in San Francisco, Manitou Springs (or Colorado Springs), or Park City that should not be missed, please let me know! Finally, if you're interested in following the scoring of the Mountain cup, the results are posted here after each race.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fall Getaway

Some of the pristine singletrack Sun Mountain has to offer. Photo courtesy of Sun Mountain Lodge.

We're excited to announce that our brand-new Methow Endurance Fall Endurance Getaway is officially scheduled! Whether you're a cyclist or prefer feeling the ground under your feet, this weekend gives you the chance to play in the mountains, eat good food, and learn a thing or two about biking or running. Join us October 18-20 for a fun weekend exploring Sun Mountain while taking in the stunning fall colors. Browse around the event site for more information, but feel free to email us if you have questions.

More singletrack! Photo courtesy of Methow Valley Photography.

High Country, Part One

Summer is by far my favorite season. It's a little hard to pick, as they all have their own charm: winter really is a white wonderland-a quiet beauty that just doesn't exist the other months; spring brings new life and oh so much green; fall has a wonderful crispness to the air, lovely colors and sounds of rustling tree leaves before they shed themselves; but summer! Summer brings the big mountains. While it can become quite hot, making training a bit more of a timing game, being able to get into the high mountains makes up for it. We are still enjoying pleasant temperatures in the valley, but the higher trails are melting out early this year, creating a little sweet spot in the calendar where you can frolick up high and enjoy the myriad of trails out the door down low.

Last weekend was a perfect combination and example of why I love living here so much. Saturday I met a friend early and we went up Robinson Creek, at the end of Lost River Road. I wasn't sure how far we would be able to go, given snow levels, but it turned out perfectly and we were able to go all the way to Robinson pass, at the Pacific Crest Trail. The aptly-named Robinson Creek trail follows the creek up ten miles to the pass. Given the season, we had several cold creek crossings to boost our circulation, and Nikki traipsed all around, loving the cool temperatures and snow as we ascended.

at the top!

Looking down the drainage. All downhill from here!
Sunday Sam and I went to his parents' house early for breakfast, so I decided to run home, over the rendezvous. I love the varied landscape of the Methow, and running to Mazama would give me a range of that landscape. Plus, it's always fun to run home.

starting through the Gunn Ranch saddle.
Gunn Ranch. Time to start climbing...
Looking across to Lucky Jim.
Off the singletrack and almost to Edelweiss.
Heading down to the 10k course.
Nikki becomes a water dog if it's hot enough.
The final stretch. We are a couple of tired beings. Hence the disproportionate amount of pictures in the last 3k.
Looking up to Goat Peak.
A great weekend of training! Doing a second long run was great practice for running on tired legs. Mission accomplished, as I spent a good portion of the afternoon in a horizontal state.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Nose Don't Lie

Over the last few years, Alison and I have become enamored with our noses. As it turns out, oxygen moves in through your nose, which is quite a handy feature for us endurance folk. Certainly everyone who has ever run, biked, skied, or swam with a head cold knows the perils of shutting your nose out of the process of aerobic respiration: you get fatigued quicker and your pulse rate increases.

But until recently, I never imagined my nose would guide me in a methodical way with my endurance training. It all started two winters ago; while traveling on racing trips I would usually get out the door in the evenings for a 30 minute light jog. I've found a nice run in the evening really loosens me up and flushes out whatever junk I acquired over the course of the day, whether from traveling, racing, or sitting around in a hotel room watching America's Next Top Mode...err, American Choppers. Anyway, a few seasons back I started doing these runs with my mouth closed. Initially it was because I was in central Maine or Northern Wisconsin in early January and the thermometer had a hard time cracking double digits, and I wanted to preserve my lungs somewhat. Breathing through my nose warmed the air more before it got into my lungs, saving me from hacking myself to sleep later that night. I found through this method that I could still run pretty darn quickly; I figured I could run as fast as I wanted with my mouth closed, because I would be inherently limited in that I could only bring in a certain amount of oxygen when only my nose was the conduit. This led to these evening runs being pretty quick.

I kept this up through the end of the season, and when I started my spring training that next May, I found my running pace during longer runs was indeed quite a bit faster. I did some research and talked with my coach about my findings. Turns out, what I had stumbled onto in a rather bumbling manner (isn't that how most training methods are discovered?) is what physiologists call your Aerobic Threshold (AeT). Essentially, this is the point below which you are in a fully aerobic state of metabolism: lots of oxygen coursing through your system, and your respiratory rate can handle the offloading of the CO2 which is produced through your body's metabolic processes, without trouble. Above this AeT however, you slowly begin accumulating lactate in your bloodstream as your respiration can no longer effectively expire the CO2 being produced and a higher degree of glycolysis (carbohydrate metabolism) must ensue to meet the workload. Don't sweat the science too much.

My mistake in these early explorations was believing that the limiting factor in nose-breathing was my nose's ability to INSPIRE fresh oxygen, when in fact the real limiter was its ability to EXPIRE the CO2 from my body. What this nosebreathing "threshold" (i.e., the upper-most intensity you can train while only breathing through your nose) then represents, is your Aerobic Threshold: the point at which your body can no longer maintain a fully-aerobic state of metabolism, and it must shift to a higher degree of glycogen metabolism. Pretty groovy, huh? You can use your nose in place of a $400 lactate meter, or a $20,000 ventilation analyzer, and it's damn near as accurate. Point in fact: when I got my testing done at Seattle Performance Medicine this spring, they marked my AeT (by ventilatory data) at 162bpm; I had been operating on the premise (based on field data by nosebreathing) that it was 165bpm - quite close!

So why is all this useful for the endurance athlete? Spending a significant amount of time at or near your aerobic threshold will allow you to train faster and harder while still maintaining very low amounts of lactate in your blood. And it improves with time and efficiency! Imagine this: today you can run a 9:30min/mile for an 8-mile run; in other words, that's your sustainable "aerobic" pace. But what if you could run that same eight miles at an 8:30min/mile pace, or faster, for the same effort? Interval and high intensity training have one major flaw: you can only do small portions of them, on the scale of 10-15% of your total training volume. But AeT training can occupy a much larger portion, and the returns are probably much greater for the average endurance enthusiast.

How do I gets myself a piece of this magic formula, you ask? First, go out for a run/bike/ski, and close your mouth. Now find the pace you can sustain while only breathing through your nose. Don't fudge it; you shouldn't be breathing overly-rapid or in a ragged way during this - it should be even, sustainable breaths. Chances are this pace will be slower than you're hoping for, but have faith. If you do some nosebreathing training every week (start with 30-40% of your total volume, and increase it with time and comfort), you'll see rapid improvements. Soon, for the same amount of aerobic energy you'll be going farther and faster!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Mazama 5/10k Results

Josie rockin' the 1k, her second in two weeks! Photo by Eric Purpus.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our first Mazama 1/5/10k! A huge shout out to our volunteers and our sponsors who made it possible. Including the 1k we had over 250 runners. It was a blast to see the wide range of ages come out to run.

Results for the 5 and 10k can be found here. Please let us know if there are any problems. We tried to snag anyone who we couldn't see the bib number, but if you were in a group, we may have missed you.

Stay tuned for some photos from Mitchell Image.

Our next event is a 2.5 mile hill climb in November. We hope you'll join us!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sun Mountain 50k

I hate writing about bad races. I didn't even blog about my good race last month, so why acknowledge this one? Though it's never fun talking about a less than stellar time, one learns much more from bad races than good. So, in an attempt to forget about the day and move on learn from experience and maintain positivity, here goes...

Local races are a bit weird for me. It's hard to have the same level of anticipation when the course is on trails I run frequently and I didn't to travel anywhere or camp at the start. Because the race starts at a quite leisurely (by ultra standards) 10am, I got lots of sleep and awoke to a beautiful, slightly breezy day. One huge benefit of a later start is I'm able to have my daily latte and still have time for the milk to digest. I enjoyed my latte, made some fresh carrot, apple, ginger and rhubarb juice (I was dubious when Sam suggested it, but the rhubarb added a nice tang and balanced out the sweetness of the carrot. I highly recommend it) and had my standard pre-race meal of oatmeal. We left in plenty of time, so we got to Sun Mountain with time to mosey down to the start from the overflow parking area and chat with running friends before watching the kids' race.
Before the race, feeling good.

The 25k and 50k share much of the first half of the race and with about 300 runners, I knew I wanted to go a little hard at the beginning to get in a good spot before hitting the singletrack along Patterson Lake. I ran with Caitlin Gregg for a bit but was relieved when she went by, given that she was doing the 25k and is a much stronger uphill runner than I (those skiers and their uphill abilities!). My goal was to run the long climb up to Thompson Ridge in a sustained manner. Each time I run this race, whether it's the 25k or the 50k, the climb seems neverending and I go beyond my limits. I felt pretty good and was happy to be able to run the entire thing. While I wasn't hating the climb, I was still glad to see The Methow Valley Nordic Team dolling out watermelon (my absolute favorite race food) and cheers. Everyone knew me, so I got a huge boost from all the encouragement. Thanks, guys! I just had a little more climbing to go before my favorite downhill of the entire Sun Mountain trail system. I hiked the really steep part before the descent, and let myself go on the down. Then, I started to feel my right knee. I love running downhill and in ten years of ultrarunning, I've never felt my knees.

The past couple of weeks have been crazy busy. After my fun Women's Trail Running and Yoga Retreat I immediately drove to Port Townsend to teach my sports massage class. I came back for more work, then drove back over to finish the class, did some VO2 max testing (a blog to follow), and back over here to work and launch my modelling career (yeah, right) with some photo shoots for Sun Mountain Lodge. And do this race. Just writing all that makes me tired. I mention all this not so much as an excuse, but as a reminder that I can only do so much. My tendency is to get sick when I have too much on my plate, so my big goal was to stay healthy during this silly busy time. I managed to do that, but it should come as no surprise that I was unable to train as I would have liked, and while all the things going on are great and add a lot to my life, something has to give. Running gave. So, as I'm running down the trail in slight pain (nothing devastating but I could tell it wasn't something that would go away), I had two options: ignore it, slow down and run for several more hours and likely have to take some time off from training while it settles down; or stop. With Speedgoat 50k as my key race this year, it was an annoying but relatively easy choice. While I love Sun Mountain and James' races, this race didn't matter in the grand scheme: I decided to run it as a gauge of how everything is going so far. And what a gauge it was. I now know exactly what I need to do to have a successful race in July and can get right back to training in a day or two. As for my knee, it's sore on my weaker side, and I know what to do to get that to respond as well.

On a positive note, thanks to my sponsors, La Sportiva and Goat's Beard for getting me to the start line. The new La Sportiva shorts are AMAZING! I've never been a tight-short type person, but I've converted. They have perfect mesh pockets on the sides for gel and are oh so comfortable. Goat's Beard, in itty-bitty Mazama, has a great selection of Sportivas as well as pretty much everything else you could possibly want for running, climbing, back country skiing, all with a friendly smile. Check it out and grab a tasty treat at the Mazama Store on your way back over the mountains. Additionally, a big thank you to James and Candice of Rainshadow Running, who put on a top-notch event as usual. The pizza, beer, soda, lounging, and well-marked trails were much appreciated. If you've never run trail races before, theirs are top-notch. If you're not yet up to ultra distances, Candice hosts the Bellingham Trail Running Series, comprised of shorter distance runs with the same great party after each race. Finally, it's always great to see familiar faces at these races. I love the trail running community and even with a bad race, it's a fun day.

So while the race didn't go as I wanted, it served its purpose. I'm still quite grumpy about my bravado in thinking I'd be able to have a good race given the circumstances, but I'll get over it. Everyone has bad races; if we didn't, the good ones wouldn't feel as good as they do.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mazama 1/5/10km - Kids Run Too!

As Memorial Day weekend approaches and the Methow Endurance Mazama trail races come ever closer, we'd like to remind everyone that there are races for ANY AGE, and ANY ABILITY! We have a great 1km Kid's Race (free of charge!) that always draws a big turnout. We also are introducing this year a 5km Stroller category, where anyone can compete in a 5km race, the only requirement being that you are pushing a child stroller (child must be present to compete!) - with all the buff young parents running about these days, we're hoping for a great showing in this race!

The Kids' 1km provides a great first race experience!
And as always, we have the wildly-popular 5km and 10km races. The 5km this year runs on a course which initially joins the 10km runners, before peeling off in a lollipop fashion to return to the start/finish area. In doing this we are hoping to give some younger runners a chance to chase down some big boys in the 10km before they part ways on their courses.

And don't forget about the World Famous Pancake Breakfast, happening right after the race. You can purchase a ticket for the breakfast with your entry via Webscorer, or buy one at the breakfast after your race. Pancakes, after all, are the best post-race food!

We can't wait to see you all next weekend in our sunny paradise. Train well and we'll see you at the start!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sun, Trails, Flowers and More

After planning our wedding last year and fretting about the weather (for good reason...we had two separate but lovely down-pours), I decided to refrain from analyzing forecasts, especially for events. So far it has served me well, as we had perfect weather for The Rattler in April (with snow the following day) and uber-perfect weather for the Women's Trail Running and Yoga Retreat last weekend. The mossy folk from the other side of the mountains may have been a little parched with the dry, hot air, but everyone seemed pleased, and some got a head start on acclimating for Rainshadow Running's race at Sun Mountain next week.

This retreat is my little baby; I love bringing women together to share a weekend of running, yoga, and good food. It has become one of my favorite weekends of the year and I'm already looking forward to the next one. I'm continually amazed at how a group of strangers becomes a cohesive, supportive group of friends.

The first evening we went on a little shake out run north of Winthrop, prepping our legs for the coming days. Dinner consisted of roasted veggies and lentil salad, a salmon dip with veggies and crackers, as well as a mixed green salad, followed by yummy chocolate cake. We chatted and got to know each other a bit, then dispersed for a full night's sleep. Friday morning brought a bright, sunny day, and we headed to Riser Lake for our first "real" run. We all did the four-mile loop, then most of the group continued up Lewis Butte for some amazing flowers and views. From there the group split, with one going back down the trail to the cars, another going over the west side of the mountain and back, and another doing a longer loop consisting of aspen groves and sage. We got back to River Run Inn just in time for lunch: perfect nutrient timing for quick recovery.

The day was hot by now, and the River Run Inn was perfect. They  have a huge lawn out back, next to the river, with several hammocks that are oh so comfy. Between lunch and yoga I gave some technique pointers for newer trail runners, then got ready for yoga. Becky led a wonderful practice out on the lawn, with the sound of the river as our soundtrack. Yoga loosened us up for our recovery run (or nap, depending on what people wanted), and off we went, getting back just in time for dinner. Perfect meal timing again! After our meal, one of the participants and nurse practitioner, Angel, gave a fascinating presentation on the endurance athlete's heart and the dangers of NSAIDs. It gave us a lot to think about and I'm so glad to be more informed on the topic.

Saturday was was more of the same, though we ran at Pipestone canyon. Again, we had perfectly clear, warm (borderline hot) weather, with lots of wild flowers. We all ran a nine mile loop, then some added more. Next came lunch and yoga, then Rita, the owner of Winthrop Mountain Sports, came to talk about all the different kinds of running shoes, and the importance of shoe fit. Dinner was on our own, so a big group of us went to Kelly's, while others stayed in Winthrop.

For our final run, we went to Patterson mountain, adjacent to Sun Mountain Lodge. It was again a perfect day, and the loop provided more mountain views and flowers. Thanks to everyone who made this a great weekend. I hope to see you next year! If you can't wait for next year, or want to have an adventure weekend with your husband, check out our Fall Endurance Getaway, in October!

Looking up-valley. Photo courtesy Kristen Smith, Methow Valley Photography.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

VO2 Testing at Seattle Performance Medicine

My training for skiing has changed a tremendous amount in the past few years. After the winter of 2010 my coach and I decided that, while my anaerobic system was quite well-defined and my speed and strength ample for the task, my aerobic system was leaving me lacking in my events. The sprint event in xc skiing is unique in its combination of maximal power demands AND aerobic demands via recovery and often long courses. I would ski well through qualification time trials and perhaps the quarterfinals, but then fall short in ensuing rounds. We decided to put a strong emphasis on aerobic training, and in the last two seasons we've seen huge gains in training markers and overall results.

But still, in this past season I felt something missing in the sprint. I would qualify well, and finish the quarters well but in the semifinals I'd still feel a missing gear. We couldn't determine what the culprit was - aerobic? anaerobic? strength? It's difficult to identify the missing link, and with a training regimen that attempts to cover all these bases we were left at the end of this year scratching our heads for answers. In addition, I've long wrestled with appropriate diet and nutrition - how much is enough? What is my optimal weight/body fat/carb-to-fat ratios? So many questions...

In February when I was bemoaning all these looming questions, Alison recommended that I schedule some metabolic testing at Seattle Performance Medicine, and an evaluation with Dr. Emily Cooper. Alison first heard Dr. Cooper speak several years ago at a running camp, and was impressed with the straight-forward and intuitive information on nutrition for endurance athletes. I hadn't taken a VO2 test in several years (2007 was the last), so I thought at the very least it'd be interesting to see my improvements in capacity.

Metabolic testing can take several forms, but in general it offers much more than that coveted max VO2 figure (point of maximal oxygen uptake). Along the way, a well-conducted test can determine your aerobic and anaerobic thresholds, your percent utilization of carbohydrate, fat, and protein at various intensities, and your metabolic rates during exercise and at rest (how many calories you're burning during the day and during exercise). When combined with expert analysis and summary these data can change your athletic life, for sure.

My last race of Super Tour Finals was the National 50km; I had four full days between that event and my testing, so I made sure to eat lots and rest plenty. You should treat a testing day like a race: you want to be well rested and well-fueled beforehand. The objective is to reach your absolute maximum effort, so any lingering fatigue from workouts, races, or busy living will affect the outcome.

The Seattle Performance Lab is a highly professional, well-run facility. My testing was conducted by Brady Wright, the Exercise Physiologist who manages the testing lab. He got me started with a resting metabolic rate (RMR) test; this one measures how many calories you burn per day just maintaining normal function. It also can show how much of those calories come from fat, carbohydrate, and protein. And all you have to do is lie down and breathe through a mask for 16 minutes! My RMR was 2750 calories, so I need to eat that much plus whatever I burn during daily workouts to keep my body firing on all cylinders. Needless to say, I've been eating probably 50-75% of what I should be, so already I was getting some great data.

Next was the VO2 max test. While protocols vary from test to test, the basic premise is that you run on a treadmill (or cycle, or row, or rollerski) at increasing paces and incline until you can't go anymore. The test is broken into time stages, and the pace and incline are increased after each stage. The whole time, ventilatory data is collected via a face mask and inputted into a computer which graphs it for the physiologist to determine where you're at.

After the max test I did an anaerobic level test, where I ran at increasing speeds on a flat treadmill, again breathing through the mask, until Brady identified via the graphs that I had reached my anaerobic threshold, that point at which my body is demanding more oxygen than I can take in.

After all this data was accumulated and summarized it was time to meet with Dr. Cooper. When we sat down I told her my plight, that I was having trouble finding my top gear in the latter stages of a sprint. Dr. Cooper admittedly didn't know much about the xc ski sprint, but her ample knowledge base of other endurance activities gave her plenty of grounding to identify my weak points. First off, she said, I'm burning WAY too much fat at high intensities. Basically, when you're pushing as hard as you can you want your body sourcing glycogen, which metabolizes much faster into ATP (your body's ultimate energy supply); fat takes much longer. Most sprinters are burning 100% glycogen at their max; I'm burning almost 20% fat! She said that this has probably developed due both to a lack of appropriate caloric intake (especially of carbohydrates), combined with a tremendously strong aerobic system which keeps my body in a more efficient fat-burning state even when I'm asking for quick-fueling glycogen.

The second factor she identified in my search for answers is the close proximity of my anaerobic threshold to my max VO2. Traditionally in endurance sports this is a great thing, as it allows one to go very fast/hard and close to their maximum without going anaerobic and developing a high level of lactate in their system. But for sprinters and power endurance athletes, you need to have room between these two figures, an "anaerobic capacity", which offers you those extra gears. See, lactate is actually a good thing, not only as a secondary fuel but as a marker than you're tapping into your fast-twitch muscle fibers which only burn glycogen (and hence produce lactate). Without that broad anaerobic capacity these fibers don't have much room to run, and your power at high speed/effort is limited.

So how to proceed? First I need to eat more. Lots more. And more carbohydrate. And secondly, I need to back off on my high aerobic training because that system is already too strong for what I need (were I a marathoner, I'd be sitting pretty). I need to put a big emphasis on anaerobic and strength/power training to build that anaerobic capacity under my max VO2. To measure these improvements I'll use lactate monitoring during workouts, to look for high lactates which reflect utilization of fast-twitch fibers.

In all, this testing has provided multiple new avenues for my training, and for the price ($350/session) I consider it well worth my time and money.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Importance of Spring-time "Adaptations"

Springtime in the mountains is a beautiful thing; after a long winter of cold and snow and wet the spring sun is about as welcome as a slice of warm pie after a long trail run. And whether you're an avid skier during the wintertime or just try to maintain your fitness through gym work and the occasionally snowy outside run, when spring and snowmelt arrives it's tough not to jump into a huge volume of fun, warm, out-of-doors activities.

The spring is a valuable time for endurance athletes as it offers us our first chance in months to engage in the sports we've had to put on hold since last fall, and this can be a good thing. Training different muscle groups, introducing diversity back into your routine; it can all boost your general fitness up to a great level. But there should also be prudence in your approach; jumping headlong into running if you haven't tied up the shoes in a few months could easily lead to minor injury. Make sure to ease up your volume gradually, and look for softer terrain like trails instead of roads to restart you impact-heavy activity. Also, I think it's a great idea to always start each spring with a new pair of running shoes. Not only is it exciting to pull a great-smelling pair of kicks out of the box for the first time in April, but that old pair from last fall is likely broken down.  Especially if you used them in the winter, when road salt and debris can weaken your old shoes' integrity, having a new pair gives you the best chance of protecting your initially-weaker running joints from the pounding.

Core strength, that old chestnut, will continue to be your best friend (if you've got it) or your worst enemy (if you don't) this spring. A strong core will allow you to dive into new activity without major injury, as it ties together all the extremities which are suddenly baffled at the change in movement. Lacking strength in your core means everything from leaning forward on a bike to pounding up and down while running will be absorbed by your arms and legs, leaving them more susceptible to overuse injury. Get in the gym and do some strength, you!
Alison (in grey shirt, right-of-center), about to start her first running race of 2013, the Squak Mtn Half. She won.

Given all of the above, what's the best way to embrace spring? Do everything! Get on your bike, go running, go backcountry skiing and carve some corn. Take advantage of this time to get involved in lots of different sports, because as the year wears on you will eventually want to hone in on that one sport where you goals reside.

Here's our Methow Endurance Springtime Checklist:
1. Buy new running shoes (try La Sportiva!)

2. Try and include at least three different sports in your fitness routine each week

3. Try a sport you've never done before, or haven't done in a long time
When's the last time you stood at a place like this with skis on, having made it there by your own steam? Backcountry skiing is excellent strength and aerobic training; it's pretty damn fun, too.

4. Set goals! Spring is the new year for athletes - want to try a 50-mile trail race? Search the race calendars and pick one. Interested in moving up a wave in the Birkie? Register for the race now and plan your training year around that goal. Having a focus and working that focus with a coach can dramatically increase your odds of success, and beginning in the springtime gives you a long-range plan.

5. Enlist the help of a Methow Endurance coach. We can help you structure your training and proceed in the best possible manner toward your goals, and starting in the spring gives you and us a blank slate to work with, ready to fill with high-quality training and preparation.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

2013 Rattler in the books!

Exiting the canyon, before the climb. Photo by Methow Valley Photography.

Today marked the first running of the Rattler Trail Run, Methow Endurance style. We were graced with warm temperatures and sunny, albeit breezy, skies. Many local runners applied their skiing fitness to dominate each race. The times to beat for the half-marathon were an impressive 1:29.36 by local runner extraordinaire and MVSTA director James DeSalvo, and 1:40.40 by other local extraordinaire, Laura McCabe. Laura passed her speed on to her daughter Novie,  who at age 11, was first overall in the 4-mile race. In the 9-mile race, part-time resident Dave Cleveland won with a time of 1:07.44 and Twisper Heidi Dunn took the ladies' race in 1:21.36.

Directing this race was particularly fun, knowing several people used the event as their entry to the trail running world we love so much. Thank you to everyone who participated, the volunteers, and our amazing sponsors, Winthrop Mountain Sports, La Sportiva, Clif Shot, and Rocking Horse Bakery, who make this event possible.

Full race results can be found here.

Methow Valley Photography took some wonderful pictures out on the half-marathon course, that can be found here. See you next spring!

Having fun in the sun. Photo by Methow Valley Photography.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Methow Endurance Fall Getaway

Fall is my second-favorite season here in the Methow Valley (can you guess my favorite? It rhymes with "splinter"). While New England does a great job of marketing its fall foliage, nothing beats the beautiful collage of yellows and reds from the Aspen and Cottonwood trees mixing with the deep green of the Ponderosa pines. Quite often as well we experience an Indian Summer where the temperatures will rise into the 70s during the day before cooling at night.

Having planted that delicious image in your mind, we are excited to announce our first annual Methow Endurance Fall Getaway! We want to show off all the great possibilities of Fall by offering you expert-guided riding and running on the trails and roads around Sun Mountain Lodge. The weekend is open to both men and women, and features options for both trail running and mountain biking. Saturday and Sunday mornings start with invigorating yoga sessions, and then will feature small coached sessions in each of the above sports; in the afternoons there will be guided tours of each, accommodating all ability levels. After your adventures, relax in one of the Lodge's hot tubs or pamper yourself with a spa treatment. In the evening venture out to one of the Methow's delicious dinner options or dine in at the Lodge's four-star restaurant and wine cellar.

Like our highly successful Women's Ski and Yoga Retreat, our partnership with Sun Mountain Lodge for this weekend will include special room rates for participants, and breakfasts and lunches will be included in your registration fee. In addition to the outdoor activities we'll be offering yoga sessions and evening discussions on training and nutrition.

For all the information you'll ever need, and to sign up, go to the Getaway website.


When: Friday, October 18th to Sunday, October 20th

What: mountain biking, trail running, yoga, fall colors, friends, food, relaxation.

Cost: $280; includes two breakfasts and two lunches; yoga sessions; all coached and guided sessions in biking and/or running;  wine and appetizers on Friday night; evening discussions; and shirt. Room and other activities are extra and must be arranged separately.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


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Look for additional apparel soon.