Monday, January 26, 2015

XC Skiing at Badger Pass

Growing up in Hawaii, skiing opportunities were somewhat limited. I was in my twenties when I first tried downhill skiing and I quickly realized it wasn't for me. Living in Los Angeles at the time, skiing required a long drive to get to the snow and a large sum of money to rent gear, purchase lift tickets, etc., and to be honest, it just wasn't fun. Crashing with the rental ski bindings set too tightly and scattering skis, poles, hat, and sunglasses across the ski slope (AKA, doing the Charlie Brown "yard sale" routine) puts a strain on one's body and psyche. Although I bought ski boots at an off-season sale, I ended up donating them to charity, still new in the box and wrapped in the original plastic.

My love of skiing didn't change during the subsequent twenty years. For backcountry snow excursions, I adopted snowshoes as the means to traverse the winter landscape. Snowshoes allow me to enjoy the landscape in a relaxing manner, while taking photos along the way. I love to hike and snowshoeing is a natural extension of hiking.

During the Christmas and New Year's holiday, I was on vacation for two weeks and asked Faye if she wanted to join me on a 20 mile run on the second of January, before I had to return to work. Instead of a 20 mile run, she suggested a 20 mile cross-country skiing trip. There's a "beginner-friendly" route from Badger Pass to Glacier Point, following Glacier Point Road. With the faded memories of downhill skiing, I checked YouTube for cross-country skiing videos and figured "how hard can it be?" The people in the videos made it look so simple. It required the rhythmic shuffling one's feet and swinging of one's arms. To seal the deal, Sport Chalet rented cross-country skis, poles, and boots for just $17 per day. So, I agreed to do some cross-country skiing with Faye.

Big mistake.

For those who have not had the pleasure of cross-country skiing, the skis are very narrow and do not have metal edges to provide control in the snow. They are designed to be used in tracks. The snow along Glacier Point Road was thin and patchy in spots; too thin for tracks to be laid in all places. This made for challenging conditions for a first-time cross-country skier. Picture this. A green skier is traveling downhill at a high rate of speed, then the tracks disappear. With the lack of tracks in the snow and the lack of metal edges on the skis to provide directional control, the skier then loses control and crashes. The green skier then carefully works his way to where the tracks resume, places the skis into the tracks, and continues downhill at a high rate of speed. The skier happens to be leaning too far forward when the skis hit some pine needles that are in the tracks (note, the coefficient of friction of pine needles is significantly higher than the coefficient of friction of snow), the skis slow down quickly, the skier slows down not so quickly, and the skier goes head over heels, landing hard on the snow. Crash, bam, boom!

Damn you YouTube!

Damn the lying bastards in the videos that said how much fun this was!

Damn you Faye!

Repeat the crashing process about ten more times and one can begin to appreciate how much fun I was having. I won't say I will "never" go cross-country skiing again, but I will more than likely never go cross-country skiing again. I "may" go backcountry skiing in the future, but probably not anytime soon.

Here are a few photos from the trip. I took the photo above while sitting on my bottom (after one of the many crashes).

Here's a picture of Faye's shadow. I took it early in the trip, while I still had some enthusiasm left in me.

This is Faye enjoying her lunch on Glacier Point Road (while Wayne contemplates pushing her off the side).

Monday, January 19, 2015

Never Summer 100K

After the inaugural Faye 50K fun run, my name miraculously showed up on the Never Summer 100K entrants list. During our post-50K dinner, Faye showed me the entrants list on her smartphone and I thought, “Wow, there’s another guy named Wayne Kodama running the race.” After a few moments, the light bulb turned on. I was entered to run the Never Summer 100K….Faye signed me up!

Fast-forward a couple of weeks and Faye and I were driving to Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park to do some cross-country skiing. It was more like cross-country, crash-test dummy testing, but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, since getting entered into the NS 100K, I had a chance to review the course information in more detail and it consists of 64 miles, 13,000 feet of elevation gain, and an average elevation of 10,220 feet. So, on the drive to Yosemite, we were discussing the 100K and I asked Faye a poignant question, “Would you recommend the Never Summer 100K as one’s first ultra?” Her response answered the question for which I already knew the answer.

She replied, “Hahahaha….”

Running scared is good. It keeps the bowels moving and helps one maintain focus, motivation, and dedication. I put together a training plan, which increases my mileage from 40 miles per week to 50 miles per week. My objective is to get to the starting line without injury and somehow finish the race. I do not have a time-related goal; I only want to finish the race before the 24 hour cutoff. Part of the training plan includes another 50K training run and a 50 mile, self-supported, “fun run” across Zion National Park. The trans-Zion run will be in late-April or early-May and should give me a gauge of my level of fitness. If all goes to plan, I will survive the 50M Zion run and will then focus on preparing for the NS 100K in July.

Here are a few photos from my run on the Pleasanton Ridge this past weekend. My left Achilles was a little tender, so I started at the Golden Eagle trail head (which cuts off a fair amount of vertical) and ran an easy 13 miles. It was foggy, so I carried my camera to capture the interesting foggy landscape. Heavy fog rolled in during the run, so the latter half of the run consisted of photography, with a bit of running mixed in.