Txtio is a side-project of mine that I finished up about two years ago. Feedbin is the service I use to read RSS—it has a great web interface and customizable Services. If it has a URL, you can plug in the title and URL of the entry.
If you don’t have a free txtio account, create one! You’ll want the “Push to Focus” service of txtio. (The other is simply a text with a link to your cellular #.)
This is where setup gets really easy—I include the Feedbin Share URL right on the next page:
Navigate over to Feedbin. From the Hamburger menu, choose Sharing, then scroll to the very bottom and paste in your Share URL. Add a label: “Send to OmniFocus”.
When I first put this together, I thought I’d be adding a whole lot in the backend to support it, but that wasn’t the case at all.
The idea of anything over a marathon—less than one year ago—was laughable. In July I ran White River 50—a dare of a race among a few friends. I was the second-least ready for it at the beginning. By the end, the least ready.
Jitters have always been a problem before races. As I described in an earlier blog post, I had nixed the possibility pre-race stress; I’d let the race wash over me. There wasn’t going to be an exit before the race, but I would deal and react with whatever happened.
The morning of, after a decent amount of sleep (but certainly not enough), I strapped on my hydration pack that I definitely didn’t need but felt good having, plopped on the overworn-by-ultrarunners-but-more-important-with-long-hair trucker hat, and lined up a respectful distance behind the first row of gentlemen and ladies. This race featured minimal clothing—which turned out to be a bad thing—and Brooks Cascadias 10, my favorite running shoe ever.
The race started with a little bit of instruction, DNS checks and double-checks, and a pre-race yawn.
The race starts.
Because of my knee injury pre-summer (after the Boston Marathon), I hadn’t put in as many long runs as I’d wanted or needed. So with great restraint I started slow and slowed myself even more during the gentle, rolling three or four miles in the foothills.
Beautiful, comfortable; and then the wasps came. I heard raucous yelling a few hundred meters in front—who told a funny joke? who cut someone off? None of that. Somewhere between mile 5 and 10 was an incredible jolt of energy from a mad wasp. And then another, angrier wasp. For a minute, not knowing it was a wasp, I thought this might be my exit from the race—if it was a bee, I’m allergic. But then someone confirmed a wasp and I continued on.
The mountains begin.
The first mountain wasn’t terrible. The climb was steady and the climb was hard, but not terrible. I had been "practicing" my power hiking and confirmed that it was much more efficient than my running, so I switched often and early.
In what would be the only time I pass my compatriots along the course, which happened to be near the turnaround of climb one, I shouted out the gap from first place. Helpfully, I thought. Turns out none of them knew what I was talking about.
At the first aid station, it was cold enough that I couldn’t do anything with much dexterity for myself. The volunteers were amazing, helping me grab a bit of food, a water refill, and handing me a few electrolytes.
It was raining.
Or maybe just wet was in the air.
It’s obvious that a trail shoe is necessary for this race, but I think the best choice I made during race day was picking a pair of Cascadia 10s. There was a lot of pounding in the second half of the race going down a very long hill, so I’m super glad that the more cushioned Cascadias won out over my Pure Grits. (Pure Grits are great, but contain a lot less shoe.)
The Cascadias grip well out there, even on rocks.
After the first out-and-back, you arrive back at the start (and so near the finish). Food was pounded. Had a guy buckle my hydration pack for me as my fingers were nearing worthlessness. I was feeling pretty good, and it was about to get even better.
I made a deal with myself that I wouldn’t even touch my iPhone and earbuds until after the first half. I made it!
I plugged the wire in; I opened Music. Scroll to the T’s. Taylor Swift — 1989. Repeat Album.
The second mountain.
Seemed steeper. More power hiking. More loneliness on the trail. The, I think, second woman, one of two people I had ran with during the first half, quickly pulled away. She had a ton of power. I had been trading places with the guy running in what could only be board shorts, and he too seemed to have a lot of power for the second climb.
At this point, 30 miles in, I started to wonder why I ever liked running to begin with. Certainly not hills. Certainly not mountains. I’m from Indiana damnit.
This was where the actual walking might’ve happened. I differentiated power hiking from walking, but this was some straight-up, standing tall, walking. I got a second and third wind, and euphoria when I hit the top. I chugged an iced coffee—the only thing I put in my dtop bag—and started down the road.
The road was steep enough that you stomped. I won’t blame my WR50 injury solely on the road, but actually I will. Six miles at a little less than 7-minute pace. All downhill. It actually tore up my Cascadias a little bit. A lady behind me was running sandals. Insanity. (They were also broken so they were extra loud.)
I pushed the pace down to 6:45 for a while so I could get away from the noise. Defeaning even with T-Swift in the background.
I passed board shorts at the next aid station.
Skookum Flats: Made a joke. “So are we the first two here or what?”
No one laughed. Guy with a clipboard told me what place I was in—I heard 40. Apparently he said 30? Looked at the watch and—with incomplete information—had the idea that with a solid pace of around 7:00 flat, I may be able to make it in inside Joe’s prediction for me. (That means I’d possibly win a rare bottle of whiskey!)
It’s a weird feeling, throwing your body along the trail after 45 miles. It’s nothing close to fluid—every step I took felt like it was powered mostly by arms; the legs didn’t seem to have anything to do with it, except for providing sharp, and dull at the same time, pain.
But several miles later, I realized I didn't have the right information. I was 10 minutes off of Joe’s prediction time because Skookum Flats was incredibly misleading—the “flats” only lasted about a mile.
I passed quite a few folks, though, to finish White River 50 in 8 hours, 46 minutes, 37 seconds. I can improve. I’ll be back.
Let’s take the Emma Maersk container ship for example, even though the newer Triple E class ships are 35% more efficient. A trek from Hong Kong to Los Angeles takes about 14 days and burns 1,209,600 gallons of fuel. That’s a lot but it’s moving 15,000 shipping containers, each capable of fitting 36,864 t shirts. So, each shirt is responsible for 8mL of oil, which is what I would burn driving a car 266 feet. Shipping a container from China to LA uses even less fuel than trucking it from San Francisco. Buying “local” is ineffective from a sustainability perspective. It’s just ingroup bias.
This Saturday I’ll take my first shot at a 50 mile race: White River. It's a workday—just 8 hours.
More or less a simple dare posed to four buddies, it turned into a Real Thing when the first person registered. “Shit” was the first thought.
After a successful Chuckanut 50k... Mostly successful... Successful in that I could shuffle to get some soup... Successful in that it only took, quite literally, three days to feeling back to normal...
After a successful Chuckanut 50k, I was actually starting to think that the 50-miler wouldn't be so bad. Not so much "not bad," but, say, I could compete in a 50 mile race. So I was really looking forward to it.
A week later I ran a bit too fast in a group run and the left knee started to hurt. And it kept hurting, annoying me, and pissing me off. I haven't been injured in ten years! It was bad enough that I took a full week off—huge for me at this point—and downgraded my plans for Boston to something just slightly above a total failure.
Boston hurt a lot—lots—but not because of my knee. It hurt for about a mile right after the Wellesley Scream Tunnel. It was their fault. Because the training didn't add up to anything fantastic, my long run never more than 10 post-Chuckanut, and a whole lotta mental blocks, Boston blew. I ran a couple minutes under my previous best.
The best part of my first Boston Marathon? The fantastic canoli I had in the last mile. Some kind soul really made my race.
But things post-Boston got worse, pain switched to a different spot, and the writing on the wall was there: I needed to stretch more.
So I've been stretching! I can run 10-15 without pain! I haven't had ibuprofen in a month!
White River 50
When Brett told everyone we were 8 weeks away, I freaked out a lot. I was nowhere near able to run the planned weekends of 30+. I hadn't done hills in ages.
I realized with 4 to go that I either had to take a hike or formulate a new plan...so I formulated a plan of ignorant optimism about the whole ordeal.
I know for a fact I have no idea what I'm getting into Saturday. And with that in mind, it's going to be a fun, great day. It's just a workday.
I’d put money on Apple becoming its own credit card processor with, essentially, what Square did for the iPad. Built-in NFC—maybe even with a purpose-built iPad, sold separately from others—that small-business owners could jump into with an even smaller cost-of-entry than Square. (I’m including Square’s iPad stand in the cost here.)
Since the software and design and whatever else is already there, though—and while I love the company, I don’t think Square will last much longer—expect Apple to buy ‘em.
…and then expect a verification for “Certified Pay terminal” when the payment handshake (or whatever it’s called) happens.
At the end of my trip around Belgium/Germany/France/Netherlands, I ended up pretty happy with my packing choices. Here’s what I did and didn’t take, how it all worked out, and future choices:
I didn’t need the 15” Macbook Pro that I brough. Probably didn’t need a 13" MacBook Air. The Pro added way too many pounds and a form factor that mandated a lot more structure to support the weight and length. An 11" Air would get closer, but an iPad mini with a keyboard would tuck into a pocket instead of necessitating a big sleeve.
But, the flip side. I needed that laptop to do work, and working was the only way a thirty day trip was possible. Which is why I’m so excited for a rumored 12" MacBook Air--I’m putting my money on Retina, which means I’d be able to take screenshots (part of the job sometimes!) as well. Please, please do that Apple.
I was worried that one rainy day could ruin a full day of walking, and my shoes were very red. So I packed a pair of Clarks Desert Boots (which were suede, so don’t do that). A nice pair of dark blue running shoes—like the new Cascadia 10s!—would go nicely just about anywhere.
I switched my socks about twice a day; sometimes three. I brought four pair, and that was just right. I was running every day, though, so you might just need two. Make them Smartwool—although just about any pair of merino wool socks will do the job—and hang ‘em up to air out every day.
Have two t-shirts that are heavier than Everlane’s tee. Switching from Everlane to a heavier weighted shirt was maddening—I didn't want to.
I’m going to buy a few of Wool & Prince’s (wool) tee shirts when they’re back in stock. If you’re not traveling every three days, two t-shirts is totally doable.
And only one long sleeve button-up. I ended up taking two, only needed one.
Two ExOfficio boxer briefs. These things are better than sliced bread, I think, after using two pair for 2 weeks, and then down to one pair for two weeks! (I left a pair at an Airbnb spot.) I’m sure for a lot of people this sounds disgusting, but I can’t stress enough that as long as you’re not hiking up mountains in them, they won’t stink. At all.
They do start losing form (stretching) after about a week until you wash them again, but maybe don’t go that long. Some people might still be worried about offending others’ sensibilities...I get that. (Side note about ExOfficio: the Heather Gray color sports a different ratio of fabric material. The slightly different blend keeps form longer, feels better, and, I mean, you don’t want to get too flashy in your underwear colors. It’s much better than the others.)
I practice the “shower in them to wash them” thing, with a full wash after two or three runs. During this trip, two pairs seemed fine. Might have been able to get away with one, though you’d need to a serious drying regiment.
My running jacket was essentially waterproof and coldproof. It wasn’t a big deal in freezing-or-above temperatures, and I had a pair of gloves, a Buff (or one like it), and would throw on an extra layer of short briefs if it was below 32 degrees. Throw in a $20/€20 and you’re all set. Explore and run.
Oh, and a short-sleeved, fast-drying, tech shirt. Wear it in the shower afterwards as well for a quick wash. (I brought two.)
I brought a big battery charger and never needed it. A small, lipstick-sized version to be super-safe just in case, but it’s not necessary in a place with plugs.
Because of course you’re keeping your phone in your pocket except for a quick offline map to get to the next place.
That was essentially everything inside the pack. My pack—a new Timbuk2 Aviator I purchased in December—was too heavy and didn’t have the right sort of pockets. I should have made a quick trip to REI for something else, but I decided I didn’t have the time to shop.
I’ve already sold it.
First trip that I kept all my toiletries contained in one of dem case-things, and I can’t believe it took me until my 29th year to make that happen. And I brought a ton of contacts because who cares. Essentially weightless. Oh, and dad was right: I should’ve packed a little bottle of detergent.
Just make sure every other apartment has a washing machine.
Oh, I also brought a water bottle that I didn’t use and a weird new washcloth my mother gave me for Christmas. Called Norwex, apparently doesn’t require soap? Pretty sure it’s the product of a pyramid scheme, but I can’t say that it’s a bad washcloth.
This seems a bit fantastical to say, but this year I’ll be running for the Seattle Running Club and Brooks Running: I’m on a team again! The Brooks B Team. /Brooks (B)easts! /Brooks Killa-B’s!
The year will be filled with Brooks’ seriously great Cascadia 10 shoe in early 2015, running up Cougar Mountain with a whole bunch of SRC’s finest. (The Cascadia 10 is shipping now, by the way!)
I joined the Seattle Running Club in the late summer of 2014 and have had a ton of fun. Cross Country season, team workouts, and a big emphasis on getting out on the trails made the second half of 2014 a great few months of running. And the SRC people are a pretty great group!
After a few months I volunteered to help with the membership database, and a bit later applied to be a part of the SRC-Brooks team.
I can’t wait to do some trail runs and races with this fine group of folks, and doing it in the best gear around—by a company in Seattle! (Just a block away from my apartment!)
So far I’ve spent January running, touring Belgium, Germany, and France by foot—my first time in Europe. Favorite run: Grunewald, a forest just outside of Berlin. It’s a quick 20 minute train ride outside of the city center, and it was the most trail-heavy woods I’ve ever been in. In other words: super easy to get lost and run a little bit longer.
Next week: I’ll be happily returning home to do some winter running in the beautiful Cascades!
2015: More people running happy in Brooks’ gear, and more people running with the Seattle Running Club!
a sub-1:17 half
a sub-2:40 marathon at Boston
a 50-miler (all signed up for White River—just have to finish now!)
I just started a new hobby. I figured it had to exist already, because it combined some pretty popular things:
And it’s all under the very popular ultralight veil, so there’s that.
get a backpack
pack an ultralight tent
pack an ultralight sleeping bag
find a destination
run there, camp, and run back
I added something extra: do it on Sunday night/Monday morning as an act of decompression—arrive at work early the next day, shower, and be done with it.
When I got home from my first trip, I googled "ultralight trailrunning camping". Turns out it exists and it’s called [fastpacking]. Craig gives a pretty great explanation of [fastpacking the John Muir Trail].
I love everything about it. When summer hits in Seattle, I think everyone starts doing a lot of extra socializing. "I’ve gotta get out and do things." That’s a great thing, and I love it. But it puts a lot of overload on me and at the end of the week I absolutely have to do something to unwind.
Why it’s great
I like hiking
I really do like hiking a lot, but I also have a very short attention span. Unless we’re talking about picturesque scenery that just won’t quit, I need something else going on.
Now that I know I like fastpacking, I think I know why hiking is fun, but not that fun: it’s too slow.
I’m not a fast-fast runner, but even a jog along a trail gives me a little something else to do. Watching your steps, keeping pace, sweating, and occasionally checking out scenery — these are all wonderful things. I’m of the opinion that if you’re looking at scenery all the time, it gets a bit boring.
I love roughing it (even though I don’t love roughing it)
I’m a big fan of the outdoors and being "campy", but I’m more inclined to sleeping in a nice, comfortable, modern hotel room. So I do what I can to change that a bit!
It’s a chore to have to scrape mud off of a tent stake before you put it back in a bag, and that’s going to make me a better person. Right? I’m adding character.
It’s a huge challenge, and I need that
See this next section...⬇︎
Why it’s terrible and no one will ever do it with me
My big toe has seen better days
The other evening I ran up to [Pratt Lake] and it was absolutely wonderful. When I woke up the next morning my legs were 3x more tired than usual, so I had trouble picking up my toes with each stride. So, I ended up murdering my right big toe on a small stump jutting up in the trail. And then a 1/2 mile later I murdered it again. And again. And again.
Now it’s one of the ugliest toes in my arsenal, and that scenario is going to happen every single time. I could buy some boots I guess.
I’m pretty bad at judging elevation and trail-running time
On that same fastpacking trip to [Pratt Lake], I didn’t pay attention to the difficuly rating in the (excellent) Mountaineer-published [Backpacking Washington] guide. (Mostly because these trips are split-second decisions as I’m throwing shit into my backpack, packing for the next day of work, and filling up a few water pouches.)
So I start up the first hill that turned into a 4-mile stretch of elevation and before you know it I’ve spent an hour-and-a-half thinking surely this is going to be the last switchback and what the hell was I thinking?
What’d it look like? Good question:
A lot of work, not much relaxing
I’ve been leaving around 5pm to hit I90, park, and start. The first time I sat by a fire for a few hours before heading to bed, but most recently went straight to bed. I was exhausted and didn’t bring anything more to eat than a Clif bar, so that was that.
The next morning I woke up at 4:25am, rolled everything up, and reversed my trek. The next night I slept for 12 hours and felt like a tank ran right over me.
Packing light means being not-really-prepared
For Pratt Lake, here’s what I brought with me: running clothes I had on me, extra shorts, long-sleeved shirt, Clif bar, sleeping bag, tent, iPhone, battery, car key. In the basin, of course, there wasn’t a cell signal.
That’s not enough if something bad happens. Sprained ankle? 4 hour walk, minimum, back to my car. (Though that really doesn’t sound like a bad deal, a broken ankle might be a full day until I get cell reception; probability of passing someone on a Monday is low.)
I’ll be bringing more on my next trip in the way of calories and clothes, but I can’t do much more, right? Buy a personal locator beacon?
Fastpacking is worth getting into, and I’d love to find some like-minded folks to team up with. Unfortunately it’s a little to niche.
In Seattle and need a running partner? [Email me].