To all those who live what they love,

and inspire others to do the same.

Have fun out there.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Good Morning Gordy

Good Morning Gordy

The following is an excerpt from my thought diary while logging some miles with Gordy.  Through conversation and minimal research, I’ve determined Gordy started not only the Western States 100 mile running race, but also ultra distance trail running in the United States as we know it.

Gordy starts: I’d fallen in with bad company.  We weren’t bad, really, just bored.  My friend John got caught stealing a candy bar and it just so happened that, at one time or another, we had also relocated a couple delineators.  John went on house arrest; eventually he got antsy and started giving names.  Local authorities came to my house, arrested me, and put me on probation.  Pretty soon after that my mom said: “Let’s move Gordy to the country”. 
Gordy is tall, much taller than me, with big hands, big legs and long gray hair that blends with a big bushy grey beard.  Gordy was the first person in the United States, and likely the world, to take on the challenge of a 100 mile foot race.
Gordy goes on: The school I transferred from in the suburbs had something crazy, like twelve hundred students; I would have never played sports with that kind of competition. But out in the country things are different.  Out in the country there is plenty of room at the top.  I turned out for wrestling, and it turned out that the coach for the wrestling also coached cross-country; he needed a third to strengthen his relay squad; that’s probably where it all began.
I first noticed Gordy after breakfast.  He was filling up his water bottles.  His tall frame hunched over an orange juice pitcher, delicately tipping towards two homemade hand-held water bottles, then whipping the salt shaker in the general vicinity of the bottles.
I’m attracted to people like Gordy—a kind disregard for whatever everyone else is doing, non-disruptive, and forever interesting to follow.
Gordy goes on: They wouldn’t let me run Western States one year because of my appeal to the board.  The director had put a stop to the horse race that occurs a couple weeks before the running race because he believed the trail could not withstand the horse’s impact.  Well, ultra running attracts a pretty powerful group; I sent out a few letters to fellow ultra distance runners who happened to be involved with parks and protected areas who happen to know BLM officials of the area, and what do you think happened next?  The horse race was back on. 
Gordy didn’t get to race that year but his style based principles is timeless in the world of endurance folks.  Most ultra runners I meet are at the top tier of a tier system they made up, in a non-elitist, non-intrusive sort of way.  Like Gordy, these people are innovators and don’t give a hoot about what anyone else thinks; the same characteristics that define some of the greatest innovators of our time.
Gordy goes on: I’m not a manager.  I’m not good at managing things.  I’m an inventor. 
I’d applied to Berkley after high school.  In my letter of intent I didn’t have a single materialistic goal.  Being the late 70’s with all the student riots and the whole thing going on I think they saw me as threat, so they sent me to UC Santa Barbara—with all the other kids they saw as a threat.  It was a pretty crazy time, I took a club to the head; I was singing a Martin Luther King song, you know—‘you can’t stop me now’.  Then “whap”.  I took a night club to the head so that pretty much ended that.  I wasn’t too worried about it because the scar was hidden by my hairline but now I’m losing my hair, so that didn’t work out.
Gordy adjusting his sun faded visor keeping to keep long hair from his eyes.

Gordy goes on: At any rate in ’79, there tacked on the wall of the University of Santa Barbara Stables, was flyer for the Western States Horse Race.  I gave it a once over and said; ‘heck’ that’s only an hour from my house.  I wrote the director and asked to get in, she said I was too late, so I bought a horse marked my calendar, and raced it the next year.
Gordy and I started up a hill and we both lost our breath.  My thoughts launched into questioning what prompts a person to ditch an animal with legs perfectly capable of carrying in exchange for using their own legs to propel—Gordy’s thoughts launched into who knows what. 

The year after completing the great Western States Horse Race, Gordy got rid of his horse, laced up his shoes, filled his homemade hand-held water bottles with orange juice and table salt, and set out to do something no one else had thought of doing.  Years later, the result is one of the most popular running races in the world and a multimillion dollar trail running industry.

In the end, and in his early sixties, the important thing about Gordy is that he isn’t burnt out on a trend he started, he’s on the trail, inspired, and keeping the rest of us psyched about getting our shoes muddy.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Shaved Legs and Chest Hair

"I completely underestimated our route,"  She started out.  "It took a couple days of climbing just to get to the next town, camping along the way.  Then the rain came--so miserable--riding up hill all day then crawling into wet gear.  We got worked by the mountains, but it was awesome.  I want to go back."  There was a lightness to her voice.  It was easy to tell the memories of camping under a bright moon, descending long hills with the sun, and the calmness of the mountains in the morning will stick with her for years to come.

A few years ago I lent this friend a circa 1980's steel frame Team Fuji bicycle, shifters on the down tube, nice big lugs typical of that time--a school bus on two wheels compared to bikes of today.  She had fractured her knee and wanted to get fit without the pain of running.  And so it began--that indescribable passion for pedaling--as fast as legs will allow, racing friends, or exploring new terrain via human power.  Having something in your life to look forward to everyday is important.  Having that 'thing' be fueled by endorphins, culture, and fresh air is awesome.

Now, this friend mounts the steel frame Fuji for Tuesday night hammer rides with a group, she's the only girl and the guys are all on carbon frames.  She has completed two self-contained tours tours on the bike, on routes she made up herself through mountain ranges she'd never been.  On July 20th at 7:00AM this friend and her iron donkey will embark on their first Half Ironman--please send them positive energy.

Last weekend I was 5th Male Pro at Ironman Mont-Tremblant 70.3, and I can't help but believe my progress up to this point is a direct result of others showing me the way.

Above all else, just keep pedaling.  It's simple.

Your Pal,

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Mt. San Jacinto: FKT Cactus to Clouds


San Diego at Sunrise
I’m on a search for the perfect ride; a simplified and stripped down perspective--every day.  From the saddle of a bike, outside the breakers at dawn, or chasing alpenglow on a new trail; simple pleasures. "Simplify, simplify." A tape worm road through a range I've never ridden, Hank Williams shouting through headphones, off camber turns, goose bump arms; child-like smile. Running a trail, steep enough to require thought, technical enough to stay present; freedom, solitude, and independence--that is why we go. Perspective, inspiration, and a spanking--that is what we get.  I play outside because it’s fun, the faster I go the more fun I have.

I’m fascinated by snoring.  Really, so impressive.  The most soft spoken petite Asian man, projecting with such confidence when he’s not awake. Social dynamics are weird, the body does whatever it damn well pleases.  On an adjacent bunk and on his side, an accordion of noise; baritone meets burping, inhale. Whistling Dixie please let me sleep, exhale.  I’m on a bunk at the San Diego Hostel, it’s 1AM.

New Hampshire.  Winter riding.


A few years back I cycled from Phoenix to San Diego (SD) then linked up with “The Christmas Tour;” a 500 mile cycle tour--the most fun a person will ever have on two wheels.

The ride is organized by sons and daughters of 1980s cycling legends--started as a way for professional cyclists to get base miles as a family; awesome.  Now in it’s nearly 30th year, the route and company are world class; sleeping on church floors, elementary school room floors, and in community center gymnasiums--it’s more about the ride and less about the fluff.  Communal meals enhance interaction, there is no WiFi, all walks of life; upright bikes, recumbent bikes, couples now married who met on the tour riding tandem with their toddler in tow.  
San Diego.  Winter riding.


Typically the longer a tour survives the stronger and more efficient it gets--just like us; well oiled with less stress as the years go by, aside from the hills and flat tires.  Ever since The Christmas Tour I’d been trying to get back and do variations on the route--this was that moment.

In a basin around a bonfire, somewhere near Seward, Alaska after Mount Marathon:

Patrick: If you like vert in a short distance check out Cactus to Clouds.

Me: Where is Cactus to Clouds?

And so it was.  Like most escapades, a seed gets planted, the idea festers, and you either do it or you don’t.


9 days in numbers:

16,500 meters: Distance Swam
21,400 feet: Vertical Gain Ran
32,000 feet: Vertical Gain Ridden
6: number of hours slept in Chicago Airport
Many: Ounces of beer
1: Number of Pappa John’s pizza’s eaten


NOAA called for 100% chance of precipitation in San Diego County; it was time to head east and run in the desert.


I woke early on February the 26th. Clear skies and cool temps in the valley (5AM Palm Springs).

I didn't preview Skyline Trail (Cactus to Clouds) but had read trip reports, studied the route, and recently run a similar profile, which can be found here:

Alive, inspired, and getting cold near the Tram Station.

2/26/14 @ approx. 6:45AM

Recollection of the run in segments:

Segment 1: Why are there so many spur trails?  Am I on pace?  This is a steep hill.  I feel heavy.

Segment 2: I'm dropping south off the ridge towards a valley.  Why am I dropping? Effort spikes, angry pace ensues, tempo is found.

Segment 3: It's leveling off a bit, is it supposed to level off this much?  Mad pace continues. I find flow near the 1:15 mark.

Segment 4:  It's steep again.  Heavy legs.  I fall.

Segment 5: Around the 2hr mark, after rock pillar.  A glimpse of the tram! "Pick-up-your-feet.  You must be close."

Segment 6: Climb after the traverse; I'm not that close.

Segment 7: Cold.  Low blood sugar. (Upper tram station)

Segment 8:  (Lower tram station) Sierra Nevada on draft.  You can read minds?  "Wait, I have to walk 4 miles down to the highway to catch a bus?"

Segment 9: Walked 4 miles to HWY, hitch hiked, got picked up by a very cool couple from Canada; THANK YOU (if you're reading this).


     The number of off-ramps down low and mid-route are a deterrent.  Had a person done recon and previous attempts for time on the route-->beneficial short cuts are likely available.  Stumbling into cactus land on an off-ramp and having to push on or re-trace; not fast or efficient.  These detours did nothing but break rhythm and tempo.  

     -Accessibility: The aesthetics of gaining over 8,000ft in such a short distance, at a route so accessible, in and of itself is enough to get stoked and hopefully inspire folks to go after this time.  If you come from winterland and you trail run--Idylwilde is a good mountain town hub/launch pad with plenty of trails.

     -Tram: Going super hard and thinking "base to summit" and not "base-summit-base" allows a person to go light and fast.  Light and fast is fun.

     The route: I like that there are not a lot of markers yet at the same time, this is a high traffic trail with many novice hikers going up for an hour (max) then turning around; more blatant signage down low for the gumbies might help the spur trail problem. -->spurt trails up on the ridge: I'd be willing to bet are by fast local hikers-->it's your backyard-->who am I to say where to and not to go? 

-High of 79dF (Valley Floor)
-43dF (Tram Station)
-Recent Rain/precip-->none-->no ice
-Snow level: not an issue this year
*Weather is like a river; dynamic and never the same.  Please do not assume that my listed gear below will work for a person under similar circumstances.

-Top: La Sportiva Persuit Race Tank
-Bottom: La Sportiva Race Short
-Feet: La Sportiva C-Lite 2.0
-Cargo: Ultimate Direction Fastdraw 20 + Camelback Delany Race (bottle hip belt)
-Micro Spikes: left them in the car
Emergency Burrito (strapped to Delany Race belt)
-Petzl e+Lite
-Storm Pass Pro ST wind/rain coat
-Novara arm warmers
-Turtle Fur beanie
-Nike run gloves
-Cell phone
Run nutrition:
-Bonk Breaker BP&J bar
-One bottle electrolyte drink + one bottle water (only dusted one bottle)
-PowerBar Cola Gummies (did not use)

Pre run PM nutrition:
-Serria Nevada Torpedo IPA (x3)
-Papa Johns Vegetarian Pizza w/meat prepped at hostel (x1)
-Almond M&M’s; the large bag (of course)
AM Pre-Run:
-Last slice of pizza

Logistics: I didn't think them through.  Had to hitchhike back to Palm Springs after walking four miles from lower tram/drop off down to HWY 111.  Would advise dropping a bike at lower tram pre-run, driving to start, then riding back to car/TH post run. Winds seem to blow south while I was there so it'd be at your back and a good spin out for the loaded legs.

:13 Picnic tables
:29 (Rescue Station #1)
1:01 (marked rock cairn)
1:28 (Rescue Station #2)
1:40 (Flat Rock)
2:03 (Rock Pillar, lookers right)
2:21 (Grubs Sign) *just before tram (approx 2:20)

2:26 Tram Station (Base of stairs)

Below is a brief recap of the trip with swim/bike/run details:

Day 1:
Check into hostel.  
Build bike.  
Note to self: don’t pack almond butter in bike box--it explodes.  

I cleaned off Tuktuk (my bike) and idled up the coast for a few hours on flat legs.  Hello beautiful people!  I’d forgotten of the tattoos, lips, boobs, and butts that make north San Diego County so pretty.  In it’s own ‘trying too hard hard not to to try at all’ fashion, N. SD County is very pleasant place from the saddle of a bike. Good coffee at ‘The Loft’.

Day 2:
AM: 3k Swim. Encinitas YMCA.
PM: 80mile ride.  Heading east from El Cajon to Pine Valley on a local classic 80 miler with plenty of vert and sweat.

Day 3:
AM: run + strides. Sunset Cliffs dirt trail on bluff.
Mid: 90 mile ride w/ 9,000ft vert on Mt. Palomar; world class riding.

Day 4:
AM: 4k swim w/ 10x200. Encinitas YMCA
Mid: 90 mile ride, 8,000ft+ vert via Temecula around and up Mt. Palomar from opposite side.  Much more gentle climb, very aesthetic.

Day 5:
AM: Mt. San Jacinto Jaunt (FKT) Skyline Trail.  “Cactus to Clouds”
Total time 2:26
PM: easy 2k recovery swim. Palm Desert Aquatic Center.

Day 6: AM: 3hrs Spin up to Mountain Center. High winds, good views.

Day 7: AM: Swim; 3,500meters MS 25x100. Palm Springs Aquatic Center.
Mid: Ride: 3:45 easy/mod in the rain
PM: 1:10 Easy/mod run. On the canal to see black dirt flash floods.

Day 8: AM: 3hr up to 6,500ft on Jacinto. Sunrise start. Just after a rain. So perfect.
Mid: 4hr mod./steady Ride. Out on Dillon Rd. with a head wind. Head wind and chip seal; locals like Dillon Rd.; I don't.

Day 9: AM: 4hr spin to La Quinta from PS. If I win the lotto I'm going to La Quinta; green grass in the middle of the desert...what's that green grass costing the Colorado River?


Thank you:
La Sportiva....happy feet
PBM Coaching...Kurt is an amazing coach.
Bonk Breaker....real food, in a bar headlamps on the market
Smart Cells...insoles for long days and recovery
Woodinville Bicycle...I don't care who you are or where you live, this shop is better.
Orca/Orbea...Keeping aero sexy


Mom, Dad, Allison, Mathew, Alycia; I am nothing without you.


Your pal,


Pictures from the trip that I can't seem to get perfect; very organic.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Clear Creek

Clear Creek

"Men hang out their sign indicative of their respective trades: Shoemakers hang out a gigantic shoe, jewelers a monster watch, and the dentist hangs out a gold tooth.  But up in the mountains of New Hampshire, God almighty has hung out a sign to show that there, he makes men."
                           -Daniel Webster, famed American statesman and scholar

     "If I jump in the cold water I won't get Hepatitis B."  Stripping down to boxers and sox, for a second I believed him.  Shivering on a ledge covered by a sheet of ice and fresh dusting of snow, something didn’t feel right.  The flat mid-November light was turning to dusk and water gushed through a tight notch thirty feet below.

     “You just have to jump in the middle of that dark green spot, I've done it before.”  Alarm bells were ringing.  He was confident, then he was gone—and in that moment of weightlessness looked truly alive.

     I walked on numb feet to the edge.  Eyes gauge the drop, epinephrine drips, and the body recoils.  Half expecting a body floating faced down and pinned against an icicle stalactite, it was warming to see nothing but cold moving water.  Tracing the slot canyon thirty feet downstream the lean runner had muscled himself to the top a slippery rock. 

     Shivering and grinning a country mile wide: “It’s not that bad,” he shouted back upstream.

     My legs felt disconnected from my body—not because we’d just gone on a four hour mountain run and not because we were just at the microbrewery on an empty stomach—because it’s almost December, another year is drawing to a close, and all my senses are still awake, firing, and craving adventure. 

     Just as I move towards the ledge someone comes running down the hillside from the road and pops out through the trees.  “Uncle Ned?” the jumper shouts from downstream.

     “What are you guys doing here?” Uncle Ned shouts back.
“Cliff jumping.” As if it makes sense, nearly December with snow on the ground.

     Turns out Uncle Ned had just finished the same mountain loop, saw folks parked in the gravel pull-out, so stopped to have a look.

     Ryan, Amber, Danny, Nacho, and the lean runner on the rock downstream are home grown New Hampshirites.  Nacho says he’s a Spaniard but I don’t believe him.  For certain, these long lost friends and nationally ranked pro endurance athletes have taught me just as much about life as the books in school.  A person can make any place awesome with the right company.

     On average grades and a good story I was accepted to Franklin Pierce University’s Doctorate of Physical Therapy program in Manchester, New Hampshire.  A few weeks back was almost removed because average grades and a good story weren't good enough, and yesterday learned that I had learned enough to join them for term II.  With an incredible amount of respect and admiration for the FPU faculty, I am blown away by the amount of information they have been able to cram into my hyperactive brain in just twelve short weeks.    

Lesson#1 from PT school in New Hampshire: You can take my life, but you can’t take my freedom.

Live free or die.

Your pal,

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Exploring new terrain via human power

‘Exploring new terrain via human power’ Print
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Written by Deborah Stone   

Andrew Fast
Andrew Fast
Andrew Fast claims there are no big secrets to being an endurance athlete. The local man, an elite trail runner and triathlete with an oh, so apropos last name, says it’s basically about showing up and putting in the work.
Most importantly, he adds, “Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh often.”

Fast, who was born and bred in Woodinville, recently set the speed record on Haleakala, Maui’s highest peak and dormant volcano.
He ran the 18-mile trail that goes from sea level to 10,000 feet in 3 hours and 37 minutes. 

To give you an idea of how impressive this record is, previous attempts by others took double that amount of time.
Fast’s achievement and recount of the run is featured in the February issue of “Trail Runner Magazine.”

The local man’s interest in endurance sports was first ignited when he was a student at Seattle University.

Accustomed to waking early to train from his days of playing soccer, Fast headed to the rec center, where he met a group of lively older people waiting outside for the pool to open.

He learned they were triathletes and among them were some local legends, including Ironman Ed Wong.

“My background had been in surfing and rock climbing; two sports with a lot of ego,” explains Fast. “I was blown away by how welcoming the endurance community was, and before I knew it I was getting invited on bike rides, open water swims and trail runs.”

The Woodinville man took to trail running in a big way after he moved to Leavenworth, following a year where he lived and worked in refugee camps along the Thai/Burma border.

During his time in Southeast Asia, he dealt with his thoughts by riding a bicycle from the camps across the southern tier of Asia, pedaling into remote villages of Laos where tourists are never seen. When he returned to Washington, Fast decided that Leavenworth would be a good place to reside while he dealt with his culture shock. The small community and access to the outdoors was ideal for his pursuits.
“I could get to trails from my door, float the river, ski and get solitude within five minutes,” he says. “I stayed there for two years to train and write and earn money for my next trip and races.”

One of those adventures was in Chile, where Fast cycle-toured from Santiago down the length of Patagonia.
Now back in Woodinville, the local man is continuing to train and race, getting support from such companies as Powerbar, Orca, Nuun and Woodinville Bicycle.

He comments that his success is motivated by endorphins, discipline and community.
“To wake early and get fresh air in your lungs, endorphins flowing and new blood in your brain is a very good quality of life,” he comments. He adds, “Someone once told me ‘endurance is a blue-color sport, hard work pays off’ and I suppose that stuck with me because the discipline required to enjoy endurance sports creates a disciplined lifestyle. The determination, drive and engaging characteristics transfer well to anything you take on in life.”

As for community, Fast spends much time with others involved in the sport and is appreciative of the many mentors he has had over the years who shared their knowledge and served as an inspiration to him. With a number of wins under his belt and a skill-set that is well-honed, Fast feels he is in a position to give back to the community. Together with Woodinville Bicycle, he has started a triathlon team to provide an opportunity for local triathletes to learn from one another and train together.
Additionally, he serves as an announcer and volunteer at various events, as well as a mentor to others.
Fast strives to continue to improve his performance, averaging about 25 hours of training a week, which includes swimming, biking and running.

He enjoys competing, but emphasizes that the sport is more about fun and exploration for him.
“It’s exploring new terrain via human power,” he explains. “The element of exploration really set me up well for harder racing; control what you can control — don’t stress about things you can’t control — it’s inefficient.”
Bitten by the travel bug as a teen, courtesy of his parents, Fast doesn’t see borders, language barriers or political unrest when he looks at a map.

He simply sees terrain, and if the land is new and the culture is foreign, then it presents the ideal situation for him, combining two of his passions — human power and travel. In running Haleakala, he notes that Maui is one of the few places in the world where a person can go from the tropical waters of the Pacific, through the jungle and up to high country ranch land, into one of the most unique alpine environments in existence. In describing the volcano, he comments, “The belly of the crater is lifeless and moon-like in a beautiful way.”
Fast’s love of sport and pushing physical boundaries has created a deep sense of empathy for all ability levels, which drives his interest in the field of physical therapy. 

He says, “From someone with a disability to an Olympic caliber athlete, as a therapist you have to be able to connect with them in order to problem solve. The problem solving element of being a PT is very exciting to me.”
The local man strongly feels that his story can serve as inspiration to others.
He notes that people tend to be creatures of habit, but he emphasizes that there’s a big, beautiful world out there, ripe for exploration, adding, “An expensive bike and brand new pair of shoes is not a prerequisite. All a person needs to do is get out the door and run or walk around a corner they haven’t gone around. The endorphins will start to flow and a sense of adventure will reawaken.”