Wednesday, June 29, 2011


So, normally I would leave this to Will to write a blog about, but I seriously doubt he is going to have the time to do that anytime soon and by then you will all know anyway. But the big huge good news is that Will found a job.

I know you are doing a happy dance for us, and we thank you for that. Gracias.

It's been a long road of unemployment, side jobs, a 2nd job and then another layoff, and lots of job searching. He was originally laid off from Buchan Homes in 2009 (when Preston was 5 months old), due to the really bad economy in the country at that time. Washington state was one of the hardest hit locations as far as unemployment was concerned. 10% of WA's residents lost their jobs, and being that Will's speciality is in finance and real estate it has been extremely hard for him to find a replacement job (2 of the hardest hit fields).

In early 2010, Will was hired on with a security company on a contract-only basis with the contingent that if they landed a big potential job he would eventually be hired on with the company full time. He was laid off 2 weeks before Taylor was born in August later that year.

5 months later, we moved to the island to beaches, beautiful scenery, and cheaper rent. Oh, and did I mention that Grandma and Grandpa live only 3 minutes away? It's been like a vacation almost.

Will has applied to so many countless positions, but has been competing with all of the other out-of-work applicants as well. Applying for jobs in 2011 is so different than it was just even a few years ago. Basically nobody wants to talk to you face to face and will just automatically direct you to their website where you have to fill out an extensive application that includes background checks and essay questions. It would sometimes take Will an entire afternoon just to apply to one job. Once the application is done, it's sent to the cyber world and you just basically have to wait and hear back. Not exactly the best way to get your foot in the door somewhere, right?

Well, right before we left on our 2 week vacation (which we just got back from last night), Will heard about a position with a commercial real estate firm called Grubb & Ellis. One of Will's old coworkers from Buchan actually works there and contacted Will about the position. My first thought was thank goodness, he's actually going to be able to talk to someone face to face and have an "in" when it comes to the application process.

He interviewed literally the day before we left on vacation. A week into our trip, he got a text from his old coworker that he needed to check his email. We were basically out in the middle of no where in the Redwoods, Yosemite, and other random places and had no access to internet or email (we are so old school and do not have smart phones). We found a public library in Oakdale, CA on my birthday actually (Yay I was able to check all my birthday emails! haha), and he got the job offer. He accepted it and got the paperwork rolling.

He ran his 100 mile race this past weekend (which we will eventually blog about soon), and basically the past few days have been like this:

Saturday morning 3:30 a.m. - get up and head to the starting line

5:00 a.m. - the race started

Sunday morning 9:35 a.m. - Will finished running 100.2 miles

Sunday 11 am - Monday 10 a.m. - Will slept, with the exception of waking up to eat

Monday 12pm - we packed up and rolled out

Monday 10pm - We stopped in a motel in Eugene, OR

Tuesday 10 a.m. - We packed up and headed north to Seattle

Tuesday 4 p.m. - We arrived home.

Tuesday 12am - went to bed.

Wednesday 5:30 a.m. - Will got up and went to his first day on the job.

So as you can imagine he is kind of tired and busy and exhausted, hence the reason I'm writing this blog.

So congratulations to Will - the newest employee of Grubb & Ellis. He is on the Microsoft project and is there on the MS campus. Not the best commute from where we are currently living, but eventually we will move back down that way. G & E is a very reliable, stable, reputable firm and we are so excited that he is in with such a wonderful company.

I just want to say that we have been incredibly blessed during the past couple of years. Whether it's been from others offering their kindness and generosity, or from our own smart moves to prepare for hard times, we have really been okay. We know that the Lord has been watching over us. We are very excited to be "back on our feet" if you can call it that, and it will be nice to "pay it forward" in the future to others since we have felt so blessed to receive so much kindness.

Thanks for the support you guys!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Western States Finisher!

Congrats to our wonderfully talented super endurance man Will! He finished the Western States Endurance Race in 28 hours and 32 minutes. We'll do a blog post when we get back to Seattle, but for now, on the road here are 2 photos of him at the finish, and also a video of his finish. Yay!!! So proud of him but glad to have him back now

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Western States 100 mile trail race preview

Yes, this is Will and yes I am blogging. Thanks to some kind reminders from my wife that I need to record something for posterity sake.

I just wanted to give a preview to the loyal 10 followers of our family blog (thanks siblings) concerning my upcoming race. Then if I'm alive afterwards, with some prodding from Jenni, I'll produce a post race recap of the event.

There is tons of race info on this post. So that you don't get bored just read the headlines and if something interest you then you can read the details.

Follow Me on Race Day
I'll be running in the Western States 100 mile trail race from Squaw Valley, CA (Lake Tahoe) to Auburn, CA (Sacramento suburb) on Saturday June 25th. The race starts at 5am PDT and ends at 11am PDT the next day. You can follow/track me online throughout the race by going to this website: and clicking on a link that will be posted on the top of the homepage. That link will probably lead you here:
My bib number is: 367. Although this direct link will probably be active and get you right to me on race day: (right now they have my finishes mixed up with another runner named "Bill" Thomas. He's been rocking this course since I was 4 years old and has completed the course 11 times and is back this year for his 12th time. Hopefully, this will be corrected by race day, so people don't think I actually had a sub-24 hour run at the ripe age of 4) If you are not going to be at home in front of your computer that day. There is an app for your mobile smartphone here: Other places to get race day coverage (mostly for the lead runners) will be at:

History of the Western States 100 mile Endurance Run
Basically it was a 100 mile horse race that started in 1955 to prove that a horse could still cover 100 miles in a day (24 hours). In 1974 a man by the name of Gordy Ainsleigh decided to try do it on foot as his horse had been injured the year before. He did it and finished just under 24 hours. Thus began a new sport. The 1st official year of the race, 16 people started, 3 people finished, 1 in under 24 hours and 2 in under 30 hours. This set the standard that those that finished in under 24 hours receive a silver belt buckle. Those that finish in under 30 hours receive a bronze belt buckle. 30 hours is the official time limit. By the way almost 40 years later, Gordy still continues to run the race each year. There are now more than ninety 100 mile trail races in North America each year.
More detailed info:
Gordy in 1974

The Lottery & Qualifying
Because of the unique distinction of this race, and the US Forest Service restriction of mandating only 369 racers each year, it is very popular race. So popular that they have used a lottery system for the past 30 years to determine who gets to run. Also just to register for the lottery you have to have met certain requirements: finish a certain 100 mile race within the past year or a certain 50 mile race within in 11 hours, or 100 kilometer race in 14 hours.

The lottery

The Course
The course has made small changes over the years, but remains mostly the same. It starts in the heart of the Sierra mountain range just off the shore of Lake Tahoe and the Squaw Valley Ski Resort. It follows the Western States Trail which was the most common route across the Sierras during the time of the Gold Rush of 1849. The trail works it way over the Sierra Divide and up and down multiple canyons until it unleashes you in the foothills where you follow the American river back into civilization.

Course Statistics
Length: 100.2 miles
Starting elevation: 6,229 ft
High point: 8,713 ft
Low point: 543 ft
Finish elevation: 1,292 ft
Cumulative elevation to climb: 18,090 ft
Cumulative elevation to descend: 22,970 ft
Contrast to elevation of Mt. Everest: 29,029 ft
Average High temperature at finish: 95 degrees
(can get into the 100's in the canyons)
Aid stations along the course to replenish supplies: 25

Runner Statistics
Starting Runners: 369 (capped by Forest Service using a 5 year average. This year close to 400 will compete)
% of runners to finish within 30 hour cutoff: 50%-75% (50%-60% rate during high snow and/or high temp years)
Number of sub 24 hour finishers: 88 (10 year average)
Median finishing time of starters: 28hrs 15min (10 year average)
Countries representing this year: 26
States representing this year: 42

My Journey to the Western States 100 mile race
I ran my 1st ultra (longer than a marathon) trail race in the fall of 2007. It was around this time that I had learned about these crazy 100 mile trail races that traveled up and over mountains. I was hooked, although I wouldn't run another ultra for over a year. I quickly learned that the Western States race was the original 100 mile trail race and was considered the equivalent of the Boston Marathon. It was also likened unto the Super Bowl for ultra races.

I was so excited to watch the 2008 Western States race (via the computer webcast) has I had read everything about it over the past year. Unfortunately, the race was cancelled (the 1st and only time in almost 40 years) very last minute due to some forest fires along the course. Skip ahead a year and I finally got to watch the 2009 Western States race (via the computer webcast). It an was awesome experience and I decided I wanted to run it some day.

A month later I attempted my first 50 mile ultra (White River USA Track & Field 50 mile trail championship) that could potentially qualify me to enter the lottery for the 2010 Western States. Being new to the distance, I missed my qualifying time by about 30 minutes and thus couldn't enter the lottery.

Even though I couldn't enter the lottery for the Western States race in 2010, my thirst to complete a 100 mile trail race increased and I set my sights on another popular 100 mile race: The 2010 Cascade Crest 100 mile race. No sooner than I started training for this race, we found out we would be expecting baby #2 (Taylor) the same weekend as the race. That plan got quickly scratched and I found myself a new 100 mile race I could do in April 2010: The Lumberjack 100 mile race. Video from the race.

After completing that race, I was now qualified to enter the lottery for the 2011 Western States 100 mile race. The lottery was held in December 2010. When I saw how many other people had qualified and entered the lottery, it brought my chances of getting picked in the lottery to about 1 in 10. I easily got Jenni's permission to enter the lottery as I comforted that I wouldn't get selected, but that maybe in a few years I would (each continual year you qualify and enter, but don't get picked your odds of getting picked are greater the following year as long as you continue to qualify and enter). I figured in 5-7 years I would have a good chance at being picked in the lottery and it would be a fun vacation and hopefully, I'd be in good enough shape by then to complete the course.

Lottery day arrived and I watched the lottery live via a webcast. They had picked about 3/4 of the runners when the webcast quite working and I was booted out. I just assumed I wouldn't get picked because of my odds, but later that day I pulled up the results and found my name on the list. I about had a heart attack.

Then reality instantly set in. I would be toeing the start line at the 2011 Western States. Dreams 5+ years off instantly were put into action. I actually hadn't ran a race for 9 months (since my last 100 mile race). I hadn't even really ran much in that 9 months as I had picked up road biking commuting as my daily workout.

I had 6 months to get myself in good enough shape to complete the grueling task of covering those difficult 100 miles within 30 hours. That became my ultimate goal: to make it to the starting line injury free and in good enough shape to finish within the allotted time, something only 50-75% of the runners accomplish. I didn't want to be that guy that didn't finish because he was under trained and/or injured and ended up taking someone else's spot that could finish the course, but just didn't get picked in the lottery.

I immediately signed up for a bunch of shorter ultra races throughout the winter & spring that would help me build up to the 100 distance. Of course things never go as planned and I did encounter multiple setbacks and injuries in my training. I am glad to say that I'm pretty sure I have my injuries under control and was able to squeak in just enough training to help ease my nerves a bit.

It will be close and I will be pushing my limits for the entire 30 hours, but I'm confident I can pull it off, if everything goes as planned. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and we'll just have to see what race day delivers.

The Western States Course this Year
Mother nature has thrown a curve ball at the course this year. You just never know what you are going to get on this course. That is one of the challenges that makes this course so unique. One year you are dodging forest fires, the next year you are running up and over mountains still packed with snow and fording swollen rivers, one year the heat in the canyons will reach 107 degrees, then next year you might be wearing a windbreaker.

The Sierras have seen a huge amount of snow this year and it has been snowing late in the season and often. They got over a foot of new snow on Memorial day weekend. It hasn't stopped. In fact the ski resort that the race starts at has mentioned they will be open for skiing 4th of July weekend. That's how much snow is still up in the mountains.

Current snow levels (pink) compared to high, last, average, low seasons

No, the race won't be cancelled or postponed, and we still will be starting at the ski resort and heading up and over the Sierras, still tagging the highest point of the course just shy of 9,000 feet, but they will eventually route us onto an alternate snow course for the first 25 or 35 miles of the race to try to get us to a lower elevation sooner. They have warned us that still on this "snow route" we will be running over snow for the first 20-35 miles.

In the 38 years of the race they have only had to use a snow route 4 times. Last year happened to be one of those years and they have warned us that there is still twice as much snow on the course right now as there was at this time last year. That just goes to show you how adventurous the 1st third of the course is going to be.

Twice out of the 4 years they have had to use a snow route, they have increased the finishing cut-off time to 32 hours from 30 hours, as they say the snow travel adds at least that much time onto your race because it is so difficult to run through. We have been prepped that that will NOT be the case this year and we are still required to finish in 30 hours. Gulp!

Also 79 miles into the race the course crosses the American river. The river is dammed up stream and they usually slow the volume of the river, so it is only waist deep then they string a cable across the river to hold onto as you wade across the river. Because of the late snow melt the river will be running at full force and they will be ferrying us across the river in rafts.

Right now the forecast is for sunny average temperatures of low 90's on race day. The cooler the temperature, the more people complete the course, the hotter the temperature the lower the finishing rate. We'll hope for cool weather, but if it turns out to be a hot one, it will be a real challenge this year sloshing through 30+ miles of snow, only to get baked in triple digit heat in the canyons.

Wish me luck!

Western States Videos
Here are a collection of some footage from the race.

Here is a fun teaser for this year's race:

Here is a trailer for a new documentary coming out this fall about last year's race and the men's leaders. It was quite an epic year with the top 3 guys pushing each other which ended up in a new course record by over half an hour:

This documentary is a bit outdated as it is over 10 years old, but it gives you a more detailed look into the race. It is almost an hour long so you need some time on your hands to watch it:

Here is another documentary from the same era. I think I enjoyed this one a bit more. Again it is just over an hour long so you need to have some time if you want to watch it:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finally, finally, finally 3!

There was never a kid that deserved to be 3 years old more than this kid.

After enduring a good portion of his 2nd year being thought that he was already 3 because of his height/weight, it will be so nice to finally be able to say he is 3 (his birthday is Monday, June 13th). No more "Whoa, he is a huge 2 year old." thank you very much.

Along with turning 3, comes with a better understanding of what birthdays are and what birthday parties are all about.

Hence the birthday party we threw for Preston. It was his first official birthday party where he had friends over and everything.

We can tell you now that we did learn some things from this party experience...

1. Birthday parties are a TON of work and we won't be doing another for a couple of years.

2. Next time we throw a kid a birthday party, we won't tell them about it until like 3 days beforehand so that we can save ourselves weeks and weeks of trying to explain that the party is still not for a long time away yet.

We kept asking Preston if he wanted a Thomas the Train birthday party, or a Lightning McQueen party. One day it would be Thomas, the next day it would be McQueen. We could never get a biased answer from him. And as you can see from the picture above (which Preston asked me to take), he favors both quite equally. Thus a party theme of both Thomas and McQueen was born.

I made him a Thomas the Train birthday cake. I can't say it is the coolest or fanciest cake, but hey it's a Thomas cake and that is all that was really important. The little Thomas guy on top I stole from a Pez Dispenser because it only cost me $1.50 instead of the $6.00 a regular Thomas the Train toy would have cost. Smart eh? :)

The funniest thing, was at the end of the party we found Thomas had crashed into the side of the mountain on the cake. We laughed because Preston must have arranged him that way - trying to get him to go through the tunnel. Haha.

We invited 6 little friends over for Preston's party (4 boys, 2 girls). Camden, Emery, Toby, August, Gwenevere, and Karina.

Grandma and Grandpa came too.

Fun outdoor games were played, like "Throw the squishy monster ball into the box designed to look like a train", and "Look all over the grass for candy" game.

Preston is starting to look a lot like his Papa, freckles and all...

Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle James...


Emery trying to claim rights to the yellow car after Camden is done with his turn...

Preston had fun opening lots of presents and was very good and told everyone "thank you" afterwards and also did a pretty good job at sharing his new toys too. His favorite toys I have to say were the Buzz Lightyear and Woody that Grandma gave him. Too bad he lost Buzz at the beach not even 2 hours after getting him.

He seemed pretty excited about this one, whatever it was...

And then watching him blow (try to) out the candles on the cake with his friends Toby and August waiting nearby to pounce on the candles was a fun things to watch.

Even the little guys were entertained...

My friend Erika is trying to start a cupcake business and offered to make cupcakes for the party. They were absolutely divine. Too bad I'm dieting or I would of had way more bites of cupcakes than I did. As you can see, they were all over the faces of the kids. :)

The babies just ate toys...

After a little party cleanup, the Nisbets and Rhoemhildts and us headed to the beach. The sun had just peeked through the clouds and it was perrrrrrfect!

This picture is beyond funny to me. Ha....

Taylor scooted himself all the way from the blanket, across the rocks, down to the seaweed and had a blast digging his little toes into the sand. He just sat there and yelled at the ocean. Will said he chewed on a piece of seaweed for a while too. Yuck.

After such a busy day partying it up, I think Preston enjoyed a few minutes of alone time with his new Cars backpack before being pounced by Camden.

Dads and kids are so cute. That's why we love 'em.

I especially think mine is deliciously cute when toting our little ones around.

My best friend Erika...

The grabbing never stops with this one...

These two look like they're in a sugar/partied out comatose.

We are so happy that Preston is a part of our family. He is such a gentle, kind spirit. He really wants to be a good boy and is very kind to everyone he meets. He is the happiest kid you will ever meet and always has a lot to say. He can say his entire ABC's, and count up into the 20's or more. He loves cars, trains, and pretty much anything with wheels. But he also loves Dora the Explorer (he thought Dora was a boy for the longest time). He really enjoys being outdoors and loves to help his dad do anything and everything from mowing the lawn, working in the garden, to taking out the garbages. He loves to play the piano with me and help me bake and cook things. He is always ready and willing to gives the best hugs and kisses. He also takes really good care of his little brother.

Preston we love you very much! Happy 3rd birthday!