Sunday, June 18, 2017

Belief

"I don't believe in human caused climate change" he said. I didn't respond. As we walked I pondered what he really meant.

For Christians, "belief" is a strong word. We are told to put our faith, hope, and trust in the Lord, not in earthly things or people. I read a good article recently about how teaching climate science was not about facts, but emotion.

It didn't snow, at least snow enough to warrant a shovel, plow, or any snow removal equipment, this winter in Independence. It's an anecdotal data point, but people who have lived here for a decade or more say that it does in fact snow here, which makes it an interesting, four month long data point.

The glaciers are melting. Andrew's Glacier in Rocky Mountain National Park, just below Taylor Peak was the first time I wore crampons in the summer of 2004. I returned in August 2010 to climb Sharkstooth, and the glacier was totally melted. Again, I was there later in the season in 2010 than 2004, and it's one anecdotal data point, but for me that was a tough pill to swallow. I can't take someone else to that glacier to teach them snow technique, at least not toward the end of the summer.

The Khumbu ice fall on Mt. Everest seems to take more ladders and have more crevasses than it used to, according to the locals who have worked there for many years in a row.

The Khumbu glacier in 2016 was lower than in 2014.

In September 2015 I visited Mt. Hood, and apparently it was one of the lowest snow years, in decades, and with modern snow making machines and weather forecasting it was a surprise. We hiked up rocks and dirt for hours before reaching the snow.

Belief is not about facts, and facts are not about belief. The recent Tangier Island incident is a perfect example. The town believes one thing, in a person, yet there are facts affecting their life and future, which do not perfectly line up with what they are being told to worry about. Similarly when the "costal elite" scream that people should believe in this or that, it's a failure of vocabulary. Are glaciers melting, yes or no? Are sea levels rising, yes or no? In other words, it doesn't matter what you believe, the truth is the truth. The reasons for the facts... well, I suppose we have to leave something for us to argue about.

I'm not saying you should "believe" in human caused climate change, in the same way that you do not believe in the speed limit, airport security, or corporate benevolence as the purpose of life, or the answer to a given problem. I am saying that examining the evidence, and respecting the evidence and likely outcomes is just as wise as respecting the speed limit as you drive down the highway. The speed limit is not going to save you in the way that you believe Jesus has saved you; however, ignoring the speed limit might very well get you killed in the same way that ignoring climate change may cause dramatic coastal flooding.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Climate Change is Real

It wasn't hot the last few years on accident. It did not snow here in Independence this winter because the earth is warming. Hurricane Sandy didn't hit New York City by mistake. These recent torrential rains are not strange, we should expect more extreme weather events. Since climate change is in the news a lot today, and of course tomorrow will be another emotionally draining issue, her are the top five things trending on twitter:

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Birthdays are Depressing

"Everything is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 1:2. Birthdays are life's participation award. By any measure I've had an extremely successful year. I climbed Mt. Everest. I took a new job and moved to rural Kansas. I bought a house. I've climbed something like eight 14ers in Colorado, in the last 12 months. I ran a 7:10 100k. I got into alpine touring skiing. I even went on a couple dates, which leads into the depressing part.

Despite all of that incredibly awesome stuff, birthdays seem to remind me of the things I have not done in my life. Checking social media can be so hard. Classmates and friends getting married and having kids. Living in cool places, taking cool vacations, buying cool cars. It can be overwhelming, so I rarely open Facebook.

I hope that I motivate and encourage other people. I hope I do because I am afraid, based on only ever being myself, that left to our own thoughts we will be too depressed to ever enjoy our lives. Where I'm going with that, I'm 31 and single. I can count the relationships I have had on one hand that have made it two three dates. The vast majority of the time I'm fine just being alone. But at night before I go to bed when I am not working or running or doing something active I get lonely. Whatever, I'm not going to dwell on it tonight, at least in this paragraph.

Hopefully 2017 is the year I pay off my student loans, but this birthday serves to remind me that I am now 31 years old and still have student loans. (Yes I could have paid them off years ago but I thought that Everest was a better use of my money, and we can debate that in person sometime if you want.) The thing is, while I had more student loans than many people, I had far less, a third or less of what some people with engineering degrees have. Which just goes to show how crazy college tuitions have gotten.

To end on a good note, I remember being a little exasperated once in high school lamenting that I would probably eat processed meat on white bread for lunch when I got older, and let me tell you, I make way better sandwiches than that!

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Nike #Breaking2 Event

Wow! How cool is that that Eliud Kipchoge ran 2:00:25! Plenty of other sites are commentating on the event, so I'll just throw in my thoughts.

  • The drafting was the biggest advantage, both from the Tesla and huge clock (positioned high up so the people in the back row could see it).
  • The shoes are a step forward, but more like a 0.7% improvement rather than the 4% improvement Nike is advertising. I'm still considering buying a pair. Even 0.5% difference in a 100k or 24 hour run is tremendous. I bought the Adidas Adios Boost in March specifically for the Mad City 100k, and I averaged only 2 seconds per mile ahead of the guy behind me, with is within the realm of shoes giving that sort of advantage. On that note, I have some ideas for shoes that I think might be even faster than the current Vaporfly. In other words, the marketing gimmick that this event was worked.
  • Zersenay Tadese set a personal record by four minutes! Running 60:00, 1:06:50, that qualifies as running it the hard way. I think he finally got nutrition right in the marathon and I'm guessing he will throw down a 2:04 if paced a little better.
  • The weather was good, but a few degrees cooler might have been a little better, not cold, like 36F, but more like 46F might have been faster instead of 52F at the start.
  • Why didn't they lay down a rubber track surface instead of the concrete?!
  • I tweeted on Thursday: "The Nike attempt on Saturday will be thrilling. My guess is they'll be on record pace until like 38k, then it will be ugly." That was pretty close to what actually happened, they were on pace (2:00:06) at 38k, although I was wrong about ugly, it was simply painful.
  • I am excited for an actual competition with a similar format to happen in the new few years. I think that perhaps if the spectators of Boston or New York had been there they might have helped lift up the runners. I also think if it was an acknowledged competition, people would perhaps find that 0.5% improvement mentally. My vote is someone needs to build a 1000 meter oval rubberized track for distance events like the marathon. Surround it with trees on the infield and outfield and other wind breaks, like a workout building with big glass windows, in a cool mild predictable climate. Way better variety than a 400 meter track with a turf infield, but also easier than a concrete car race track. I would totally want to run a marathon on it, probably even 100k.
Pretty cool.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Ueli Steck Died

Here is the story from Alan Arnette, the best Everest season coverage.

Ueli was in Pakistan in 2009, as I was. He drove up the Karakorum, because we saw his name on log books as we drove up it. In 2016 late May, I believe he stayed at the Yak and Yeti when I was, ate breakfast just 25 feet away from me, alone. I never walked up to him because I was partly starstruck, didn't want to be that fan guy, and third, wasn't 100% sure it was him. Everyone at these mountain climbing things look about the same, fit, a little disheveled, wearing plaid name brand button up shirts, white, male, and mid 30s. Believe me, I wish there were more women in the sport.

After the fact I learned we had a mutual friend, so I sent our friend an email telling Ueli (although I misspelled it Uli) I would love to climb something with him. She forwarded it to him, unsurprisingly, I never heard back. The pool of people in the world who want to go fast on 8000 meter peaks without oxygen is small.

He was the best. The Swiss Machine as people called him. And now he is dead. He died the #1 most common way to die in the mountains, falling while climbing unroped. Everyone does it to some extent, and it's as risky as risk comes. Every year there is some famous or semi famous climber that dies while soloing, and despite what the best climbers say (including myself, definitely not a great climber, but not exactly an average one either) about soloing, it's dangerous!

I'll leave you with this video below of a speed record he set on a famous face, the north face of the Eiger. My thought is that he probably slipped and fell on something like the steep, but not really steep, section shown near the end of the video. Maybe a rock hit him. Maybe the snow was soft. Maybe there was some verglas.

He is survived by his wife. He had no kids, was 10 years older than me, and was a professional. Events like this make it easier to focus on running instead of climbing mountains.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Race Report: Mad City 100K 2017

Validated! It's really nice when a race goes down just about like I expected it would, and that "expected" was definitely good!

Training this winter had been going well, not great, or excellent, but well. I have to say that southern Kansas has a nice winter training climate. I would give my build up to this race a solid B, not a B+ or a B-, but good. I had two 90 mile weeks, a slew of 60 and 70 mile weeks, and four consecutive months of 500,000+ steps. As for specific workouts, I climbed essentially three 14ers in Colorado, had five 20+ mile long runs at sub 7 minute pace average, and two 4+ hour trail runs. My workouts during the week weren't bad either, nothing huge, but a 28:58 8k was in there, and maybe 30 miles total at sub 6 pace if I'm optimistic about my last ten weeks of training. It's all on Strava if anyone wants to see it.

I took a day of vacation Friday and drove up to Madison, arriving around 6 PM. Along the way I went for my final run on the trails at the Mines of Spain. They recently cut back some of the forest and it's pretty wide at the moment, which is nice. My parents came down from Sheboygan and after dinner we went to bed at a hotel.

Saturday morning started at 5 AM. After quickly changing, eating a bagel and having a coffee, I drove over to Lake Wingra to get my race number, chip, t-shirt, box of chocolates, and other goodies. By the time I had everything put together, and used the port-a-pottie for the last time, it was about time to start. The temperature was 39F at the start, so I wore arm warmers and a thin stocking hat for the first two laps.

The race is ten laps of a 10k (6.2 mile) loop. There is an aid station at the start/finish line, and then another one 3.8 miles into the loop. There are some hills on the course, and they basically all come in the first 3.8 miles. My nutrition strategy was to get handed a 20 oz. bottle at the 3.8 mile aid station, either gatorade or water, always with a gel, and then drink as much as I comfortably could and discard the bottle at the finish aid station. That way I would get to spend about 65% of the lap without anything in my hands, and yet get enough water and calories for the seven hours of modestly hard running. The first and last lap I had 8 oz. of pomegranate juice instead of a 20 oz bottle, anticipating not being thirsty, and just needing 2.4 miles to finish. At the finish line I basically didn't get anything to eat or drink until 70k, then I downed a Starbucks double shot espresso, and at 80k and 90k I drank some mango smoothie. I needed some protein later in the race. My muscles were not having a great go of it.

My pace goal was to run 6:50-6:55 per mile, 42:30-43:00 per 10k, expecting a finish time of 7:05-7:10. I thought that was a very realistic goal based on my training. Of course I want to break 7 hours! But my training has not been quite to that level, maybe another three weeks and I would have gotten there, if I hadn't managed to get injured.

The first about 1.5 laps I ran with Jesse and Gary, who was trying to set a master's record. When Jesse told us he was a 2:17:59 marathoner, I was pretty shocked. When he accelerated ever so slightly to use the bathroom I let him go. I mean, he ran at the last two Olympic Marathon Trials, and I think I probably have made peace on the other hand with never running in that race. (Ha! I'm not sure I want to accept making peace with that.) At that time I was doing just under 42 minutes per lap, which would be just under 7 hours for a finish time. I was pretty excited as I felt good, and the optimistic side of me thought, 'maybe today is the day!' Which is a thought that many runners can relate to. Soon Gary stopped to use the port-a-potties and I was alone. The nice thing about loop courses is that after a few laps there are people around you, as everyone has different paces.

On the 5th and sixth lap I finally slowed down over 42 minutes per 10k, and I was pretty happy because the first half of the race I basically kept telling myself to slow down and save energy. Then around 70k, the race got harder and I slowed down more than I wanted to. That is of course the point of an ultra, or really any race, to run beyond what is comfortable. My stomach rebelled a little against the gels, enough that I skipped eating the gels a few times, I think I had five total, out of eight bottles I had with a gel attached. As for liquids, I had about 60 oz. of gatorade, about 60 oz. of water, 16 oz. of pomegranate juice, 6.5 oz. Starbucks, and 8 oz. of mango smoothie.

What to say about the last three laps? My average pace was 7:13, 7:15, 7:23 on those last three. The whole time I'm thinking, 'Run smart. Don't blow it. Drink. Eat. Relax. Save energy for that last lap, but keep pushing. Thank you God for this day!' While I had a few issues with blisters earlier in the race, by 70k, it didn't matter any more, I couldn't really feel that pain over the lead in my legs. I was focused on maintaining good form, and simply running. I was trying to be in the moment as much as possible, not dwelling on the 15 miles remaining, or the 45 miles covered, but remaining aware enough that I would finish. A few years ago I read from Last to First by Charlie Spedding, and it was a book I could actually relate to. A guy that worked hard for years, and "failed" often, until he ran to 3rd place at the 1984 Olympic marathon. One of the things he said, at least I think it was him, maybe it was Ron Hill, was that he ran ever race to finish it. Which is to say work hard and put it all out there, but don't blow yourself up before you reach the finish, which I have done a number of times. So I ran this race hoping to finish and have a good experience and it was!

The last lap I thought that I would have extra mental energy and run a faster lap being so close to the end, and that did not happen. On the contrary, I was the most tired of any lap in the race. I ran my slowest mile, a 7:50, on the big hill going up to mile 2.8. Fortunately, while I could feel I was low on glycogen, I was not bonked. While I could feel muscle damage, it was not like Mad City last year or North Coast 24 last fall when the feeling of muscle damage was too great to continue and I DNF'd. When I rounded the corner with a half mile to go I was so excited, I put in everything I had to the finish. At the finish I raised my arms in joy, in thanksgiving to God, and selfishly for a good running picture. I slowed to a walk, and fell over in the grass 25 meters from the finish. 7:10:42.3!! Mission Accomplished!!!

I can't help but think of races like this (50k, 50 miles, 100k, and really marathon) as "middle distance". They aren't really long and super hard like a 24 hour run, or Nolan's 14, and yet they are way harder than a half marathon or a 5k. (Traditionally middle distance refers to races like the 800 meters, and the one mile, and in college maybe the 3000 meters.) Which is to say, a long time ago when I began to realize that the marathon wasn't going to be my best event, I thought it would be the 100k. I thought that would be my chance to be on Team USA. Of course, I wasn't really even aware of the 24 hour run at the time. After a DNF at this race last year and my 2015 Fall 50 performance, I was a little scared that I wan't going to have a good middle ultra distance race. That makes this national class performance so rewarding!

Thank you to my parents, my dad, basically the only person at the 3.8 mile aid station, and my mom who felt like she did so little compared to the support that she has given me in 24 hour races! It may sound simple, but having that support just where I wanted it definitely helped me run a good race! Thanks to Tim Yanacheck for putting this race on! A final note to all of you trail ultra runners, you should really try the roads for several reasons:

  • There are more opportunities to represent USA at world championships. A better honor in running I do not know, except maybe a world record.
  • For a moderately good runner like myself there is more opportunity for prize money.
  • There is less variability like trail conditions, or how well you know the trail, in determining your final time. 
  • You can actually register for the races instead of entering lotteries eight months before the race and hoping you get accepted, and are healthy then.

Here is the activity on StravaHere are the official photos.

Team Janzen

Split Calculations
CheckpointMileageTimePaceDistanceTimePace




Start01.2 seconds
1st Loop - 10 Km6.21441:57.36:45.1
2nd Loop - 20 Km12.4271:23:50.06:44.8 6.21 41:52.7  6:44.4 
3th Loop - 30 Km18.6412:05:29.06:43.9 6.21 41:39.0  6:42.2 
4th Loop - 40 Km24.8552:47:15.26:43.7 6.21 41:46.2  6:43.3 
5th Loop - 50 Km31.0693:29:18.46:44.2 6.21 42:03.2  6:46.0 
6th Loop - 60 Km37.2824:11:33.76:44.9 6.21 42:15.3  6:48.1 
7th Loop - 70 Km43.4964:54:53.96:46.8 6.21 43:20.2  6:58.4 
8th Loop - 80 Km49.715:39:45.16:50.1 6.21 44:51.2  7:13.1 
9th Loop - 90 Km55.9236:24:49.26:52.9 6.21 45:04.1  7:15.2 
10th Loop - 100 Km62.1377:10:42.36:55.9 6.21 45:53.1  7:23.0

Left Foot Carnage
Right Foot Carnage

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Independence: Weeks 12 through 35

I would like to restart my weekly series. Blogging weekly helps me progress toward goals by holding me accountable to myself for accomplishing things, or analyzing my setbacks. There are a number of reasons I haven't been blogging lately, and you might as well know. The reasons break down into either self consciousness of the ridiculous, which is always hard to share, and the logistical, which is frankly a little depressing.

  • After climbing Everest, and wanting to climb it for 12 years what is next? Other mountains aren't the highest, plus I used oxygen, so I don't really know how I can handle altitudes above 8000 meters. If I mention further goals, like K2 and G4... it's so arrogant even to mention wanting to climb G4, I'm not sure I have the skills to do it. Well, I know I have the skills, but I'm not sure about the technical ability at that altitude, even with training. Something like seven expeditions have failed on the southwest ridge?
  • I ran on Team USA, for the 2015 24 hour world championship. It was a dream come true. Being on Team USA had been the goal for so long, that achieving it left a bit of a hole in my motivation. In other words, there is motivation to be on your first national team, but the motivation is not the same the second time around. Here again, mentioning I want to be on a different Team USA, like the 100k, and that I think I could medal at the 24 hour world championships, possibly even win is so arrogant I feel ashamed just to think it. Haven't I already enjoyed enough success in life? How can I ask for more?
  • Logistically it's a lot harder to go out to a coffee shop and use my lap top in Independence than it is in Dubuque. I miss Monks and Jitterz. The one coffee shop in town closes at 5 pm, and 2 pm Saturdays, and is not even open Sunday. McDonald's doesn't even always have Internet. I'm not ready to pay for Internet, but I am the closest I have been in the last six years. 
  • The Blogger app on my phone has been super buggy, shutting down after 10 seconds when I try to type a blog post. When I'm only a little motivated to write on a work night getting shut down a couple times is enough for me to forget it.
After the North Coast 2016 where I only did 100 miles I took close to six weeks off. Everest took more out of me than I care to admit, the summer was hot, and that adds up to subpar training leading to the race. I don't like to admit it, but I still seem to get a fair amount of my self esteem from how my running is going at the moment. If you hadn't guessed, it's going well, I won a half marathon today. 

2017 has gotten off to a really good start for me. I've climbed two 14ers in Colorado in the winter, and have plans for a far more aggressive climb in March. My running is coming around to the quantity and quality that I would like, and that is necessary to achieve those goals above. Plus, I basically landed a Cessna 172 yesterday, and I'm only a 9.7 hour student pilot. While there are certainly challenges, and change is hard, I am adjusting to a new situation, and learning how to adjust. I think this summer I will do far more bicycling than running in the afternoons in July and August, not unlike June and July of 2011 the year I bought my bicycle. I just did not want to accept last year that I couldn't have an effective run in 90 degree heat. 

I will ask, if you actually like reading this, please encourage me, specifically though text message to my phone. While I blog mostly for my own understanding of the events in my life, I could journal and accomplish the same reflection, which I have been doing a bit of lately, but that doesn't share any of it with you. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Problems in Three Countries

I haven't been blogging for a variety of reasons lately. I need to really blog about why I'm not blogging, but that's a story for another day.

Today was a unique day, I worked on challenges in three countries today, not including the USA, where I sit. That included three continents too. I like to imagine that I'm a global citizen, an international businessman, and on some spectrum I am. Yet, it's not easy!

Business, like life, is full of decisions, and there are many possible directions. Deciding which way to go is challenging. I knew an entrepreneur who regularly said, "people are desperate for leadership" and it struck me as a strange thing to say. Big companies seem full of managers and senior level people.

In all three situations I was involved because people thought I would contribute, if not lead, to the best direction for us to take. The truth is, I don't know. It's one of my favorite sayings. The decisions seems to be 70% chance we get what we want, 90% chance we get what we want, and 99% chance we get what we want, of course we went with the conservative 30% on the first decision. I've come to understand statistics and probabilities much better over the past several years. Decision making is never 100%, if it was there would be no decision to make.

Getting back to the title, every culture (both country wide and the micro culture of a town or factory) is different. We don't all communicate the same, have the same priorities and pressures, and I struggle to know, especially when calling three other countries in one day, how well we are all really communicating, and accomplishing the bigger mission of distinctive quality, while also remaining as profitable as possible.

That's life.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Comeback

Tuesday night, yesterday, I ran a 6k tempo on the track, and it took me 22:12, which is 5:57 pace per mile. It's pretty exciting to be doing a workout at sub 6 minute pace, but it's also a long way from the 20:12 6k tempos that I ran back in 2011 and 2012.

I don't know what is next for me. In many respects I've accomplished what I set out to, I was on Team USA, and I climbed Mt. Everest. The motivation changes as I age. Yes, part of me knows that what I have done is not enough, not as much as is possible for me, and racing faster and climbing more challenging routes still call, and are very possible for me, but then again the couch also calls after work some days when I just don't feel like exercising.

Perhaps this is my seven year sabbatical from difficult physical sports? In 2010, being unemployed, I played a fair amount of video games, ran in the middle of the day, and read quite a lot. While I didn't like it at the time, applying for every available job I could find, in hind sight it was nice to have that break, at least for the first two months.

In the moment, it's hard to really know the extent that something has an effect on you. It's also terribly hard to identify having peaked. Meb Keflezighi ran his fastest race and won the Boston Marathon at age 38 in 2014. When I saw him at the 2007 Olympic Marathon Trials in New York struggle to the finish in 8th, I thought at age 32 his career might be over. A win in New York and Boston, and fourth place at the London Olympics later... I was obviously wrong.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

All Time Low

A song came out a few months ago called “All Time Low” by Jon Bellion and while I am certainly not going through my all time low, I am going through a bit of a low. Again, nowhere near the kind of lows I've had in the past. It's like the movie "Inside Out" where sadness can be a key part of our core memories that shape who we are. In other words, it's important to have low times as well as high times, you can't be emotionless.

My family had a fight while we were in Arizona. Turns out five days together with only one rental car is too much of us in a small space. We can’t even agree on when to eat breakfast. I like to imagine that I have an amazing family, you can call us perfect if you want, we certainly aren’t, but I can see how we might try to sell that image to the world, and put on a semi-successful acting performance. The point is, if even we have fights with each other, everyone must have fights with each other! As I mentioned this to several people over the past week many empathized with me because family gatherings and the holidays can be a stress as much as it can be a celebration in many families. 

To add to it, while I did climb a 14er in Colorado solo on January 2nd, which is a big deal, and I mean I didn’t see anyone else for 9.8 miles, I feel very much in an athletic slump. I’ve got to be one of the only people in the world who climbed Everest and is disappointed I used supplemental oxygen, it feels like a failure. Isn’t that bizarre? Of course it was a success! How could I feel it was anything but a success? Running just has not gone my way the last two years. There have been a couple good races, but nothing that really stands out the way previous races did. It’s been over five years since I PR’d in the marathon. I’ve gained weight. Am I done? Will I ever set another PR again?

Financially I had the best year I have ever had. My 401(k) made a lot of money in 2016, I passed new earnings and net worth miles stones, becoming more financially secure than I ever have been. But money feel very empty. It’s just a number, and it is so easy to simply want more. I reach a financial mile stone and I feel the same as I did before reaching it. Sometime in the 2030s I will probably become a millionaire, and nothing will change, partly because of inflation, being a millionaire in the 2030s won’t mean much. I write this because it feels like the feelings about my finances should change as they improve, but they don’t.

Blogging regularly for eight years has been a nice way to express things, to sort them out in my head and then share them with the world, but as I become more established, I wonder, what is the point? People don’t want to read about my privileged life. And they especially don’t want to hear that I feel like a failure far more often than I feel any signs of success. Maybe it's time to call blogging quits?


This is a key part of my personal motivation, the feeling of inadequacy, of never being good enough. Of course, as a Christian sinner, I will never be good enough to deserve Heaven, or even the wealth, in all of it’s many forms, that I enjoy here on Earth. So I feel even worse, which encourages me to be the best I can, but perfection is an unobtainable goal. I don't know. Do you want to hear these things?