14 November 2023

Have all the blogs been written?


I believe I'm still due for part 2 of the Four Pass Loop backpacking trip.

Since 2020 and all that has since transpired, I went through a few job transitions, tried running the New York City Marathon twice, got injured or sick each year since 2018, to the extent that I had to take a few months or more off from running, caught COVID, became a cyclist, own a couple or three bikes, baked countless loaves of sourdough and still fail at it sometimes, baked a four-tier wedding cake, fell on a mountain and had to be airlifted off, cycled many miles and many feet of gain, and got married (not in chronological order). While I have yet to get a tattoo, I did get pink highlights one time.

As I moved away from blogging, so did many of the bloggers I enjoyed reading (anyone remember Google Reader?). Some of those bloggers stopped blogging altogether, and others moved on to other social media platforms where I gladly followed. 

It seemed as if the food bloggers I loved, who carefully tested and perfected their own recipes, were replaced by people who changed one ingredient in a recipe from another blog and passed it off as their own (I intentionally and gladly stopped following them). 

Blogging felt disheartening. The community, both in the food blog and running blog worlds, has been replaced by influencers. Every post and picture now feels content and view-driven, with hashtag this and hashtag that. Running blogs are now reduced to posts written with SEO in mind that read terribly. Social media running features daily running selfies with the exact same poses and the same recycled captions. Nothing is organic, if you will. 

My blog, being both food and running related, was not where I wanted to ramble mindlessly about whatever was on my mind. I tried the monetizing thing, and those posts are all around terrible, as most sponsored posts tend to be.

This blog was a place for me to share my running - the training, the races, and the injuries. I also shared my food - the recipes I tried from others and the recipes I very carefully created. Did you know I was once featured in Cooking Light? I don't think I ever mentioned that here. 

I attempted to revive my blog a few times, but was never enthusiastically behind it. I'd either get injured and no longer had running to talk about, or just didn't have it in me to create a recipe and catch the light for pictures -- a difficult endeavor with a 9-5.

On the running front, I am yet again coming back from an injury. This one took me out since June. I've been baking and cooking, and keeping the recipes to myself. To those of you who still make the recipes from my blog, I am forever grateful for you and always love hearing about it. 

There really isn't much of a point to this post. I suppose it's an ode to all the blogs I've read before, whose domains were no longer renewed. They were friends, even if I never met the blogger in person.


03 April 2020

Four Pass Loop - Aspen, Colorado - Day 1

I kept sleeping on these posts because there were many pictures and I was drawing a blank on how to blog it. Now, though, I want to get it out there, since this vacation was one of my favorites and I'm not sure I'll be able to visit Colorado again this year.

A few weeks ago last year, we visited Colorado for the first time to do some backpacking and to hike up some 14ers. Other than a trip to Oregon the year prior, I hadn't done much backpacking out west, and I certainly have not hiked above ten thousand feet. While I knew I could handle the hiking, the elevation is what most concerned me.

Another concern is that we had no real idea about the conditions of the trails. Friends in CO said that there was still a fair amount of snow, and although the trails out west are less rocky than in my side of the country, the lack of experience in that area meant we didn't really know what to expect.

From reading online trail reports and calling a ranger station, we learned that the loops we were considering still had heavy snow fall, leaving some passes almost impassable. Certain parts of the trail were blown out from avalanche debris or completely covered in snow. Many stream crossings were difficult to cross due to broken logs or sketchy snow bridges, etc.

Originally, we had thought about doing the Capital Creek Circuit, which is about 40 miles and far less traveled than the Four Pass Loop (4PL), but because it is less trafficked, there were less trail condition reports, and attempting 40 miles when we didn't know how we'd handle the elevation was probably not smart.

Given the information we collected, we opted to hike the Four Pass Loop, covering 26.6 miles in three days, two nights.

Day one -

Tips to know: You can only drive to the overnight parking at the Maroon Bells Welcome Station before 8:00 am or after 5:00 PM, otherwise you need to park at the Aspen Highlands Village parking lot, pay per night (which is about $25 a day), and take the shuttle (pay per person) into the welcome station. If you drive in early enough, you only pay $10.

Rather than beginning the loop the day after arriving, we spent our second day in Colorado hiking up to Buckskin Pass and back, giving us additional time to acclimate. We stayed in Snowmass Village that night to make our drive to the trailhead shorter. Not having to wake up at 3:00 am? Sweet!

By the time we got to the parking lot, pulled out our packs and self-registered, we got started at about 7:00 am. The hike to Crater Lake is about 1.8 miles of a slow uphill. The starting elevation is around 9580 feet, and the passes are over 12,000 feet, so we had a lot of ground to cover. 

When we got to Crater Lake, we briefly stopped to snap a few pictures and drink some water. I began having altitude headaches the night before, so I wanted to keep on top of my hydration. Some dumb woman asked me to move, as I was in the frame of her picture. Despite arriving to Crater Lake before 8:00 am, she didn't seem to have the time to wait a few seconds for her precious picture taken by her precious DSLR. Have a great day! 

People can be the worst and the best part about being in nature.

Further down West Maroon Trail, we discovered that sections of the trail are entirely submerged in water. My boots are fully gusseted, so I could carefully step through deeper sections without worrying about soaking my boot. Except for further down the trail when I lost my footing and stepped into water, soaking my right boot. It eventually dried out.

The second obstacle was this massive snow bridge over West Maroon Creek. The snow seemed pretty solid further away from the exposed portion, but you never really know just how deep or solid the snow is, so it's best to walk as quickly as possible.

I saw two women approach the other side just as we finished crossing. I never saw them again, so I don't know if they turned around or eventually crossed.

This is somewhere further down West Maroon Trail, but before the pass. We basically kept hiking, stopped to filter water and eat some food, and continued hiking. The scenery was so beautiful.

Ominous clouds began rolling in as we neared West Maroon Pass, elevation 12,480. We put on crampons when the pass became steeper, moving as quickly as we could. Some people run this loop in a day, and they probably just use spikes. Not knowing what to expect, we came over-prepared. At the top, a rain/snow mix started and we heard thunder and saw some lightning, so as quickly as we could, we descended the other side of the pass.

Once we descended the other side of the pass, the time was around 1-2 PM. I forget. The rain kept coming and we weren't sure we wanted to go over another pass that day. According to the map, we saw this campsite that had a bit of shelter from the rain and wind, so we made a beeline for it to scout out a tent spot.

Once the rain stopped, we finished setting up the tent and I went to a tiny stream to collect water for dinner and the next morning.

We had a pleasant evening cooking dinner and relaxing before we called it a night. I, once again, did not get up in the middle of the night to see the stars.


05 August 2019

NYRR Manhattan 7 Mile Race Report

Yesterday, I ran the NYRR Manhattan 7 Mile race. I haven't run over six miles in a while (hahahlol), and based on how I felt last week, I wasn't sure if I could run the whole thing without walking. Then I ran my three mile shake out run earlier than usual on Saturday, and realized I run much better if I get out before 9:30, so perhaps I'd be okay, after all.

Nevertheless, I opted to run it as a longer run rather than a race, as reflected in my splits, which I managed to take correctly this time!

Hair report: Low pony

Nail report:

Garmin time: 1:06:21 -- a few second longer than the official time
Garmin distance: 7.13 miles, longer than the official time
Official pace for 7 miles: 9:28

Warm up run: 1 mile

Lap one - 1.03 miles, 9:41: Since the course included all the hills, I ran the first mile extra conservatively. This was an uneventful mile.

Lap two - 1.01 miles, 9:31: Up Cat Hill. Kept it easy, since Harlem Hill was coming up. I had thought thought about bringing my hand held water bottle, but I didn't want to, so I took water from the stops to drink and pour over my head. Pouring water over my head seems to be a winning strategy to keep me from overheating.

After the water stop, a man kept making hacking noises, and this continued for the duration of the mile. I was even listening to music, and I could still hear him. Good grief. 

Lap three - 1.01 miles, 8:53: The downhill before Harlem Hill. I didn't purposely speed up, and I didn't purposely reign myself in. I was focusing more on perceived effort and that kind of thing.

Lap four - 1.04 miles, 10:16: There is quite the disparity between this split and mile three's split. I didn't even try to power up the hill like in the last race, and I came to a full stop in the cluster fuck that is the water station to drink a full cup of Gatorade and to grab a water. One day, I'll be stronger on this hill.

Lap five - 1.01 miles, 9:27: After Harlem Hill, the course continues on in a gently rolling fashion, and as long as you aren't depleted after the last mile and manage the remaining hills well, the rest of the course is pretty easy. That's what I think about when I'm actually racing, and not running super slowly.

Lap six - 1.01 miles, 9:15: I think the last few miles are usually the fastest of my previous races, but I didn't check to confirm that. Just by the nature of the course, there are more downhill parts that make it easy to speed up.

Lap seven - 1.02 miles, 9:14: I was surprised I didn't slow down here, since my legs were feeling kinda tired. I remember talking myself into not slowing down, since this was the last mile.

So that's that. I actually like the longer distances, and hope that if I do a seven mile race again, I'll be prepared to race it.

With this race, I have four down, and five plus one to go. I'm registered for two more races in August, and my volunteer race is in September. After that, I'll have three left, and I'll finally be able to take my picture next to the 9+1 display set up at each qualifying race!

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