Monday, June 2, 2014

Time Keeps Moving, Quickly

Once again we let an extra month go by in between posts, and a lot happened.  Sara has been off and on the river the last month so Zeno and Sequoia and I have been eating a lot of frozen pizza and dog food, respectively.  She has had more trips as a guide this season than ever before and is starting to get into the rhythm of off-river, on-river. This means that the trips become easier for her in many ways (blisters stay calloused over), but also means the grandeur of the river is easier to take for granted.  I'm still very jealous every time she gets to go hang out in some canyon for a few days.

Early stages of the Xterra West Championships
When Sara is on the river I try to find other things to do, like race! Since our last post I have been able to compete in two Xterra trail races, the Western Region Championships in Vegas, and the Malibu Creek 22k, in Malibu.  The Vegas race was a 21k on a very hilly, very exposed old construction area.  Rather than being single track the surface was like an old mining road, rocky and loose, but not too technical.  I went into the race having no idea what to expect from competition or from an Xterra event itself.  Right from the start three of us separated from the pack, which then became two of us after a mile.  The guy I was running with, Roberto Mandje, had the course record from the year before so I knew he would be tough competition. I figured I would stay controlled for the first lap and then the second and final lap try to pull away for the win.  I figured I could always use the finish on the road to out kick him.  After three miles or so I realized this strategy was doomed as he quickly ran away from me on an uphill and then put a minute on me by the end of the first lap.  At this point I had a 3-4 minute lead on the next guy and my mind went to a bad place for racing.  I ran miles 7-10 more as a run than a race, until I realized I could see the guy behind me again and needed to pick it up.  For my first race in a while I was ok with a second place finish, especially when I realized the Roberto ran in the Olympics for Equatorial Guinea.  My idea to out-kick him at the finish seemed rather foolish in hindsight.
Kahtoola race kit with the M*A*S*H* mountain (which we raced) in the back

The second race went a lot better for me mentally.  I was able to stay engaged the entire time and actually feel like I was competing from start to finish.  It may have been because I had actually done a couple long runs before this race, but more likely because I got to wear my new race kit provided by Kahtoola.  I drove to the LA area the day before the race in mid-May and stayed with one of Sara's college friends. I then finished the last hour to Malibu early race morning.  Again, the course was more dirt road than trail, but did have a couple sweet short technical sections, including one on top of a granite ridge with views out to the Pacific.  The race started out much quicker than my car-stiffened legs were happy with, but I was able to shake them out and catch the leaders by the time we started the insanely long, grinding ascent.  The race gained and lost 3430' over the 14 miles and most of it was in this one climb.  I was able to pull away from second place towards the top and use the downhills to create more of a gap.  Despite not being able to gap a jogger on the trail during the last climb to the finish I managed to hang on for the win before driving the 7 hours back to Flagstaff to see Sara return from a river trip.  One of the neatest things about the Malibu race was getting to race through the M*A*S*H* set.  I was really hoping for a helicopter to come over the hills and get me up the mountain.
Clark Fork flowing through Missoula in early April
Sara had a river trip in mid April, during which I meant to clean up the house and be sitting around with dinner ready upon her return. Instead, in a fortunate set of coincidences, I got a job offer in Missoula.  Apparently an employee of The Cycling House stopped into Run Flagstaff to pick up some shoes and told Vince he was from Missoula.  Vince gave him my card, which then got passed along to the owner of TCH, Owen.  Owen got in touch with me through email on a Monday and then I had a follow up phone call with VP Shaun on Tuesday.  Sara left for the river Thursday knowing that I had a Skype interview Friday morning, but that was all she knew before going off grid to get paid to play on rivers. The interview went well enough for them to fly me up to Missoula on Monday morning for three days. As far as Sara knew I was supposed to pick her up from her river trip, but that was not possible as I was on a three day first date in Montana.  Owen and Shaun were great in Missoula and I really liked everything about the company.  They ended up offering me a job starting September 1st and I accepted!  They are being very supportive of Sara and I finishing the CDT this summer as long as I don't do that every year.
Hiking up the Slabs on Mt Elden with Jack

Sara and I had a trip scheduled to Missoula for this last week in which we were supposed to scope out the job situation, but with the TCH job the nature of our trip changed.  Owen was very generous and let us stay in his basement and borrow a couple bikes so we were able to explore the city.  This was Sara's first trip up there and a great chance to make sure she likes it (and a relief when she said she does).  Sara was able to go by the University and talk to someone in the PT program and I got to go on a couple long runs with some of the top local runners.  Owen also took us to watch one of the Wednesday night beer league mountain bike races, which afforded us a glimpse into our future of not getting enough mid-week sleep because we will be up as late as the sun playing.  For now Missoula seems like it will be a great fit for us where we can hopefully create a new home with great friends.
Sara cold on the bike in Missoula

We have exactly one month left in Flagstaff before we head back to the trail, and that month is going to be busy.  Sara still has another river trip, and I have another race in Colorado, not to mention a Sea Level Sucks  event at the Flagstaff Hullabaloo, packing for a move, and planning the remainder of a thru-hike.  We also have a bucket list of things we want to do in town before leaving, mostly trails we want to run/bike, but we may have to put the list on hold for return visits to Flag.

That's all for now!  Somewhat daily adventures can be found at: (@forrestboughner) (@sghook)
and Facebook

Happy Trails.

Forrest and Sara

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