Skiing into Stolle Meadows Cabin

Me with my ski gear

Despite the extra snowy and extra cold winter in Boise, I have still been running. However, this past weekend I took the opportunity to cross train a bit by cross country skiing with a Varsity Scout team into the Stolle Meadows Forest Service cabin.

This is the cabin, although it was much more snowy when we were there

We left on Friday at about 4:30pm after the boys were out of school. There were six boys and three adults total. One of the boys was 11 (he was the son of one of the adults), but the rest were 14-15 years-old.

Unfortunately, our late departure resulted in a late arrival at what we thought was the trail head. The place we stopped had a nice plowed area for parking and a gate indicating a trail. Unfortunately again, it wasn’t the trail head! Michael (one of the adults with us) has a Yamaha Rhino (side-by-side) with snow treads instead of wheels. He brought that along for support. It took 20-30 minutes for everyone to get their gear and head out. The six boys went first, but as Doug (another leader) and I headed out to follow them, we saw them turning around. They had lost the trail.

At first we thought they just couldn’t navigate, but then we soon found we were at a dead-end camp site. Luckily there was a detailed map of the area in the camp site, and we soon realized that we were about a half mile from the actual trail/road that we were supposed to take. We debated continuing along the same direction until we met up with the road in a couple miles. From past experience, I knew that these ideas always sound better than they actually turn out to be. We were only ~1/3 mile from the highway, so we decided to turn around and head back.

In the meantime, the Rhino had gotten stuck a couple times due to the crazy deep, mostly unpacked snow (~4 feet deep). That was worrisome, but we were able to dig it out and move on.

When we were finally at the correct road and ready to go again it was 9pm. Nevertheless, with our headlamps on and a good attitude, we were skiing once again. A couple snowmobiles had been on the road, so the snow was a little packed and the Rhino did much better. Michael took the Rhino ahead to blaze the trail, take some gear, and prepare the cabin and a really late dinner.

The boys skied fairly well. Of course, some were faster than others. After a couple miles, four of the boys had distanced themselves out front. A couple boys and Doug and I followed in back. The road was six miles long, which is quite a distance if you haven’t skied in a while — or ever, as was the case with the slower boys. Even for me, cross country skiing was definitely working muscles I wasn’t used to.

I had to encourage the slowest boy quite a bit, although he did well. I had my Garmin on, so I knew exactly how far we’d come, but I didn’t always tell him as I didn’t want to discourage him with how far we had to go. It was cold outside — probably 10 degrees Fahrenheit. As long as we were moving it wasn’t bad, but when he wanted to take a break I would start freezing.

About two miles into the journey I felt some blisters developing on the back of my heels. There wasn’t much I could do. It was freezing, dark, and the snow was deep. It wasn’t worth stopping to me.

The last of us finally arrived at the cabin at 11:20pm or so. The cabin wasn’t anything spectacular, but it was warm and there was enough room for all of us, although there were only 4 beds so some had to sleep on the floor. The outhouse was a 20-yard walk through the snow. There was drinkable water from a pump outside. Drinkable, but not clean. It was yellowish and had some sediment in it. In fact, I was the last one to the cabin and they were melting snow when I got there. I knew the water was drinkable from the Forest Service website, so I went out and pumped for a few minutes to get it as clean as possible. Then we started using it. The cabin definitely has a cool, rustic feel. It’s not just a second house in the mountains as some cabins are.

Dinner was delicious and I was exhausted by the time I laid down at 1:30am.

We got up pretty late the next morning — about 8:15am. The cabin had stayed warm all night. The Forest Service keeps it well stocked with lumber. We didn’t even need to add any during the night though.

A couple of boys made breakfast after some encouragement from me to get going, and we ate scrumptious breakfast burritos. Otherwise we didn’t do much in the morning — we cleaned up the cabin and headed back.

My blisters were huge. I put some duct tape on them and tied my boots extra tight before heading out. [Update: it took them about 2.5 weeks before they no longer bled when I ran. Ouch.]

A photo I took of my blisters after I got home.

The scenery was pretty spectacular as we made our way the six miles back. It was just us and the snow covered mountains and trees. There were a couple hot springs we noticed on the creek where the snow was melted more. Everything was brilliant white, and we even had some snow fall.

Skiing back to the highway from the Stolle Meadows Cabin

I had asked Michael to double back with the Rhino after he made it to the cars and unloaded. That way he was able to pick up a couple of the slower boys that were struggling on the way back.

I was surprised at how much I struggled. I made it back, but the last two miles were a slog. I could run 10-15 miles a few days a week with no problem, but skiing 6 miles was a different matter. It worked my leg muscles differently than I was used to. Plus, my skis are a little small for me and I didn’t glide very well, so it was kind of like hiking with skis on. My slow speed meant I was skiing for ~2 hours on Friday night and then another 2 hours on Saturday morning. I have to run ~15-16 miles to be on my feet that long.

We all made it back safely though. We didn’t have any injuries or big mishaps. Three of the six boys did the whole 12 miles (6 miles out and back), and two more would have if we had been more patient.

A Cold 21 Mile Run to Cap a 72 Mile Week

Yesterday I did a 21 mile run in the morning before going to work. What made the run particularly daunting was that it was -2 degrees Fahrenheit outside.

There was once a day when I was a fair weather runner. I lived near Phoenix, AZ and I generally wouldn’t run in the winter there because it was too cold. Ha! (For those of you that don’t know, the Phoenix area rarely even reaches freezing in the winter.)

I’ve come a long way since then, and now that I’m training for the Boston Marathon, I’m trying hard to stick to my schedule. That means a lot of snowy and cold runs during the past month here in Meridian, ID. This has been a particularly cold and snowy winter. Boise set the all time record for snow-pack this year, and we’ve had at least one record setting low temperature. I’ve done a few runs in the snow and many low temperature runs. I’ve also hit the treadmill — doing as much as 45 miles on it one week.

This week is cold as well, but the roads were clear (from snow) and I really wanted to do my long run outside. Right now I’m doing my long runs on Monday before work. This week the schedule called for a 21 miler. So in the morning I bundled up and headed out at 4:57am. I wore:

  • Shoes
  • Knee-high socks
  • Tights
  • Jogging pants
  • T-shirt
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Hoodie
  • Ski mask
  • 1 pair of knit gloves
  • 1 pair of gardening gloves
  • 1 pair of socks over the gloves
  • Reflective vest
  • Hydration belt

I looked pretty ridiculous.

But, I finished my run.

I was quite happy after finishing. The pace wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad and I had a strong finish without hitting The Wall.

I was even happier when I logged my run on my spreadsheet and saw that I had run 72.85 miles during the past 7 days! That was my highest mileage ever in a 7 day stretch, and my first time crossing 70 miles in a week.

I’m mostly sticking to the “Up to 70 Miles” plan in Advanced Marathoning by Pete Pfitzinger. It’s going well for me so far, and my knees and ankles seem to be holding up to the heavier mileage demands.

Long runs can be scary and daunting, but it’s always awesome when you finish one. Especially before work. Especially when it’s -2F. But here’s to hoping that it warms up around here sooner rather than later.

2016: Running Year in Review

2016 was a great year. Here are some of the highlights and lowlights from my running.

Miles ran: 2024.4 miles in ~227 runs

2016 was my highest mileage year by far, surpassing the 1359 miles I ran in 2015 by nearly 50%. In January Cyndi and I made the goal to run 2016 combined miles during the year. We hit that on November 11. About that time, I started increasing my weekly mileage to prepare for a new training regimen. I soon realized I could hit 2016 miles solo, and sure enough I hit it on December 30. I couldn’t help squeezing in 8 more on New Year’s Eve.

Miles raced: 140

My 2016 race schedule was similar to 2015, but this year I did a mid-summer relay instead of a half marathon, and an October marathon instead of a 50k. I’ll be starting off 2017 a little heavier with a 20 miler in January (weather permitting) and a half marathon in March.

Races completed: Ten

  • Three marathons
  • Two half marathons
  • One 8 miler (~12k)
  • One 10k
  • One 5k
  • One 1 mile time trial
  • One relay — about 16.5mi over three legs

Worst training run: 20 miler on 3/4

My second 20 mile training run of the year was rough. One month earlier, I had completed a 20 miler and finished strong in the last couple miles. On this run I bonked really hard at mile 17. It served as a reminder that I needed to eat right and bring sufficient fuel for long runs. It was a bit of a wake-up call to me and shook my confidence as I was training for a marathon.

Best training run: 21 miler on 4/29

My confidence was restored in late April on my last 20+ miler before running my spring marathon. I didn’t hit the wall, I picked up the pace in the last third of the run, and everything seemed to click. It gave me a nice confidence boost before my marathon as this run was at a Boston Qualifying pace.

Most awesome training run: Pi run on 3/14

10+pi miles with 1x2mi and 1xPi mile intervals.

Best race: Layton Marathon

Just about everything clicked for me at the Layton Marathon. My pace was solid, and I actually accelerated during the second half. I didn’t hit the wall. I was able to finish 1st overall after passing the leading runner at mile 22. It ended up being a new PR. The one thing that went wrong was I had to take a bathroom break, but that wasn’t enough of an issue to ruin my race.

Running towards the end of the Layton Marathon
Running towards the end of the Layton Marathon
Runner-up: Famous Idaho Potato Marathon

The Famous Idaho Potato Marathon was the one that got me into Boston and my first sub-3:00 finish. I stayed right on my target pace and I was able to have a decent finish.

Honorable Mention: Zeitgeist Half Marathon

My performance at the 2016 Zeitgeist Half Marathon was a little slower than my expectations, but I ended up winning, so I can’t complain!

Worst race: ?

I really didn’t have a race that was a disaster for me. I didn’t get lost in any races this year — like the Idaho Falls Half Marathon in 2015. I didn’t have a big bonk in any of the marathons I ran — like the Newport Marathon in 2015.

The one race where I didn’t quite hit my target time was the Zeitgeist Half Marathon, but it was still a solid race and the circumstances were a little unusual (I didn’t have any other runners within sight to push me at the end).

Most memorable experience: Ragnar Wasatch Back Relay

I’m still not sure if I like running in relays, but they are definitely memorable. It was fun to be able to run Wasatch Back with my wife, Cyndi, and spend some time with her and a few crazy guys in our van. I’ll never forget sleeping in the van because everyone was too tired and confused to get out and use our sleeping bags. I made some new friends and I’ll get to run with them again this year.



Overall, 2016 was a spectacular running year for me. Once again I was blessed to not have any significant injuries during the year. My training went really well and I was able to run several races and improve my times. I qualified and registered for the Boston Marathon, which was my top goal.

I’m hopeful that 2017 will be a great year. So far I’m signed up for a marathon, 20 miler, half marathon, and two relays. I’m sure I’ll fill in the gaps!