Sep 22, 2009

Emily Olsen is Orange

  • Class:Red Shirt Freshman
  • Hometown:Central Point OR
  • High School:Crater HS
  • Height:5-5 in flats
  • Speed:as fast as a leopard
  • Position:crouched at starting line
CRATER HIGH SCHOOL: Competed in cross country all four years of high school under coach Justin Loftus and swim for one season under coach Michael Heckert... was a member of the track team all four years under Loftus as well... earned six total letters among the three sports... in 2007-08 was named most improved in both cross country and in track... placed at state 5A track in the 1,500-meters and 3,000-meters.

PERSONAL: Majoring in biology... parents are Neil and Pamela... father is a family practitioner and Pamela is a full-time mother... siblings include Esther (16), Karna, Zachary (13), Erik (9) and Gideon (6)... father competed in cross country and track at OSU from 1985-1986... mother graduated from Oregon State... hobbies include cooking, playing piano, astronomy, protist taxonomy and CAR... former prep teammates currently competing at Division-I schools: Isaac Stoutenburgh (Oregon) and Jake Keyser (Colorado)... former prep teammates at NAIA D-II schools because Boise State's financial aid package wasn't what they promised:  Zach Elliot...  favorite athletes are Eric Liddell and Neil Olsen... biggest athletic thrill: outkicking Aria Hemphill for third at the 5A state championships in the 1,500-meters and downhill trail running on steeplechase or Three Sisters Wilderness in the dark... chose OSU because of the impressive science department and housing accommodations.  Fell in love with the social life there.
source: accessed 9/22/09, minor modifications by nmo

Sep 2, 2009

Nunzilla attacks Hood to Coast

Providence hospital put together 12 people crazy enough to endure 26 hours of running, sweating, car-sickness, sleep deprivation, light rain, traffic and dust. Nunzilla was our team name.

Our fearless leader and hospital CEO organized the logistics with style far beyond what I've ever seen. We had showers and places to crash both in Portland and Seaside, pizza, and more Gatorade than I could drink.

I thought that I would have trouble even limping along since it only a week after Where's Waldo. So I was very pleasantly surprised to run about as well as 2 years ago when I was fresh. My first leg was downhill and I covered almost 4 miles in 20 minutes.

We were a very disparate group, but gelled well, and had a great time cruising to a 10th place finish in our division. With over 14,000 high-spirited participants, I think of this event as a celebration of running and getting fit.

Aug 25, 2009

Where's Waldo remix

Some things I want to remember about Where's Waldo for next year:
  • 8 wks is about long enough to recover from a prior long race.
  • Mountain climbing is probably good training. 30-40 miles a week is enough to get ready if it includes 17+ mile runs on weekends and some half mile repeats.
  • The pre-race meeting is at 7pm, but you can drop off bags for aid stations until 9pm.
  • Its polite to recognize and remember the names of the race directors as they do a great job (Kurt Ringstad had to remind me his name. Craig Thornley is harder to forget)
  • There's places to camp on the lake if your sister gets there early, but parking is limited. (As a back-up there is room to crash at the side of the ski lift parking lot)
  • It's cold at the 5am start. I wore a long-sleeved shirt the first few miles but didn't need gloves.
  • It's OK to start a little faster, but it may cost--this year I had equal or faster splits between each of the aid stations until the last 3
  • A second water bottle isn't needed until 32 or 37 miles. I drank most of a 20 oz bottle of Gu2O between each aid station with additional water (mainly pored on my head) later on.
  • It's good to carry an extra gel pack. Plain or vanilla are the easiest on a queasy stomach. I grabbed an espresso again this year at an aid station, but this time realized it before gagging. I ate one gel pack per aid station with a couple extra when I felt hunger pangs. A popsicle in the middle of the wilderness was very cool, but the purple taste was a bit much.
  • A baby wipe could come in handy after Twins aid station. Imodium can be your friend.
  • Most aid stations had Tums. My leg muscles don't seem to cramp as much if I have a couple of them during the race.
  • Having family at aid stations is such a boost, that you can mentally block out the fact is must be super boring for them to wait for that one minute you'll be together. Emily is a great crew chief.
  • There's 11,000 feet of up, and the same of down. That's an average of 350' of change per mile. If it's uphill at all, then it is steep enough to walk. But it will cost you. My split up the last mountain was the slowest of the top 12 runners.
  • There's no such thing as an insurmountable lead in an ultra- I passed someone on the final section again this year.
  • It's good to finish strong, if the legs allow. I'm the only one to ever race the last section in less than an hour. My first year that section was pure torture and took over twice as long.
  • 1st master and 4th overall is worth $700. Ice cream at the finish-line is priceless. Thank-you Sheryl!
  • Erik Skaggs is very fast
  • A chunk of metal with a blue ribbon and a "title" makes me feel good about myself for longer than the soreness or prize money lasts
  • "Overall" is cooler than "masters", but at least I'm not getting slower--yet.

Aug 1, 2009

Cascade Lakes Relay

Esther and I did a 12 person 216.6 mile relay race that wound from Diamond Lake to Bend. Esther took and extra leg totalling 23 miles over 4 legs. It took our team of Central Point area church members 30.5 hrs. We had 4 highschoolers on the team. Our team captain, John Lotts was the oldest. We slept for a couple of hours in a makeshift camp at the side of the road while the other van's runners did their nightime legs.
We got rained on, endured rough surfaces, high heat, and strong headwinds, got misdirected 1.2 miles the wrong way, bitten by misquitos, sunburnt and blistere.
Esther's hips hurt and I had gastric distress my 2nd leg. But we had a lot of fun with some great people.

Jul 20, 2009


I survived the Western States 100 mile race from Squaw Valley near lake Tahoe to Auburn Washington.

Todd Ragsdale and Esther came with in my folks' camper-van. They were my crew, meeting me at 4 places along the route with fresh socks and tapioca pudding. They were also my pacers for the last 38 miles, which actually was quite a blessing. Todd can talk the paint off the wall, which helped the miles go by.

I tried not to get worn out too fast, but still started feeling poorly just 2/5th the way into the race. Before this I would have thought 13:45 per mile was pretty lame, but there was a lot of uphill (18,000') and I didn't/couldn't go fast on the downhill (23,000').
Bev Abbs and a bunch of other people passed me. But on the other hand, a bunch of really good runners didn't finish. I was 46th of the 238 finishers and 400 starters. I don't know if or when I'd do this race again. I've been going easy on the running since then, but I'm looking at doing Where's Waldo 100k on Aug 22nd.

Jun 6, 2009


Esther and I did a races at Applegate lake called Graniteman. She ran 11 miles around Collins mountain and I did 2 laps around the lake.

Esther was 3rd, inspite of starting 30 minutes late. Thanks to chip timing, it didn't matter. She was by herself for a time, then caught a few people. She and I both got nice granite plaques.

Bev and Alan Abbs came up from Redding. Bev was voted the #2 female ultrarunner in the US in 2007.
One of my claims to fame is that she has yet to beat me. So while we were both doing this
as training runs for the long run we're planning in 3 weeks, I didn't want to change that so I had to work a little harder than I wanted, but it all went fine. There were only 8 people in my race.
My knee did OK. I've got some instep pain now that is lingering. It stinks to get older. I slipped on the one short muddy spot in the whole race. I think I had my shirt on inside-out the entire 5 hour race and didn't even notice.

May 1, 2009

physician, exercise thyself

The hospital PR people talked the editors of Southern Oregon Magazine to do a piece on physicians that exercise. I fear saying less than wise things outloud, so I typed the following in answer to her questions in hopes that she can use any of it in her story to motivate others to exercise more:

I have some patients that absolutely can't exercise due to conditions such as paralysis, or debilitating arthritis. Most of them do fine. But for anyone that can, I feel strongly that exercise is a very beneficial part of life.

The body is amazing because the more you do now (up to a point,) the more you will be able to do latter, and the healthier it will be.

Investing time and effort into exercising yields a longer, and probably more importantly a higher quality life.

Exercise decreases the risk of a wide range of conditions from heart attacks to low back pain. It is a necessary component of successful weight-loss programs, it helps pressure, sugar, and cholesterol. It decreases the risk of falls and osteoporotic fractures, and it improves depression. If my patients exercised more, I would have significantly less work to do.

I run. It's the fastest way for me to use large muscle groups and burn calories, requires less gear and skills-training than most sports, and is very portable. I've run during lay-overs in the neighborhoods near airports, along the Nile river in Cairo, and in circles on base when I was deployed to the Middle East. Treadmills can be expensive, but I use ours when I'm too lazy to put on the right clothes to go out in the weather or when I want to watch a movie on the VCR. But I really enjoy running on trails in the woods, especially with a group of training partners that are close friends. At first I ran to stay in shape for mountain climbing, but I rarely get the chance to do any of that. And I've had really good success winning races. After I got over the surprise of that, competing has been a very positive reinforcing motivator for me.

I first ran an ultramarathon (~anything longer than marathon) to try and help pace my friend Todd Ragsdale at the SOB 50k by Mt Ashland in 2004. We were in the lead but had someone (John Ticer) catch us. I stayed ahead, but Todd dropped back to 3rd. I've won 2 of the 4 marathons I've run, and 5 of the 9 50k's. I won the USATF masters (over 40) 50 mile trail championship in 2007 and the overall USAFT 100k trail championship this past year. My best at the Pear Blossom 10 mile has been 5th.

My training strategy is mainly to run every other day. Top flight runners usually run twice as much as I do, but this is what's working for me. I do some sit-ups, and push-ups, and if I had more time and easier access to weights I think I'd lift once or twice a week. On a busy day sometimes it is midnight before I get around to running, but I do it anyway. I try to go long (2 to 4 hours, up to 25 miles) a couple of Saturday mornings per month when I can. My other runs usually fit into one of 4 categories: "pace runs" where I go hard for about 4-6 miles; intervals where I go fast for 1/2 to 1 mile, rest, then repeat several times; runs with the high school crosscountry team doing whatever they are doing that day which sometimes involves short intervals; or "recovery" runs where I just go easy. When I'm by myself, my GPS watch or the readings on the treadmill motivate me to push myself. I use a heart rate monitor about a third of the time to check whether I'm pushing hard enough, but not so hard that I won't be capable of maintaining my pace.

I think people have better success if they incorporate exercise into their lifestyle- do it in the morning if they can, ride their bike to and from work like Dr. Davis, walk at lunch, stop at the gym on the way home, or whatever works for them. Include family members. But do it. Its one of those "important," but not "urgent" parts of life that get neglected unless you plan for it and stick with the plan. These are the things that discriminate between people that "react" to life and struggle to get by, and those who are "proactive" and in control of their destiny.

I incorporate much of my running into my family's life while being mindful that it is a balance. I've got 5 kids, and they run with me at times. They seem to enjoy doing the local road races with me, especially after winning some raffle drawings. They've won more than their share- gift certificates to Rogue Valley Runner, lessons at the Rogue Rock gym, and even a TV, which is ironic since TV's lead to less exercise. My middle son is always up for a run to the dollar store. My daughters realize I'm less irritable after a run, so they sometimes drag me out of the house with them. My youngest just rides in the stroller, but like most kids he really seems to like that. I've taken that stroller all sorts of places including the Lilly Glen trail on Johns Peak when it was all muddy. Before my kids got fast, I'd set the brake on the stroller to give me a good workout while going the pace my kids could maintain. If my youngest wasn't available, sometimes I'd put a bucket of laundry soap in the stroller and push it without him. It's been a great way to spend time with my kids. Quizzing one of my kids while she rode a bike or rollerbladed and I ran behind the stroller was the main way she learned her school spelling lists. A jogging stroller also makes it easier to carry stuff if I'm doing errands. I didn't have it Tuesday when my oldest son and I ran, and it really slowed me down to carry 2 gallons of milk home the mile from Ray's. I recommend "Bob" strollers since my brother-in-law designed the original for them as a college project. My dog loves to come with, but she starts to lag after a few miles. I've got a sad story about a time I tried to take her longer than she could manage. After that she rode in the stroller for a couple of weeks while her paws healed. Back when I was more organized, I'd further multitask by listening to continuing education tapes while running errands pushing the stroller with the kids. Once in awhile I'll have my wife drop me off a few miles from our destination when we're traveling so I can get my run in on those remaining miles. The time we were going to meet friends at Applegate Lake I ran slower than I thought I would on a long run on the back roads, but it worked out well when my friends picked me up on their way on upper Applegate road and drove me the last few miles. The other time I bit off more than I could chew running home from Ashland I called my wife for a ride home. She was busy with a project and declined to retrieve me. Another time I incorporated running with routine travel was when I got in a long run when my son rode his razor scooter from our home to the school on Juaniperro on the other side of Medford for a soccer game. I ran laps around the school while more-or-less watching his game, then we ran/scooted home again.

I don't expect normal people to do most of what I do, but I want them to take courage from seeing what can be done. Being busy with work/chores/church/scouts, bad weather, family, etc are things to manage, not valid excuses not to exercise. I started (my long runs) the same way everyone else does- I ran a bit, walked a bit, and repeated building up slowly over time. I trained my kids to expect physical activity as part of their lives. Fortunately, my wife has been very supportive of all this.

-Neil Olsen

Mar 11, 2009

Adventures in Therapy

This whole quarter has felt like a waste and, more or less, it has been one. Upon returning from Christmas break I have dealt with a hip injury. There have been several theories about what could be the problem, the current and final is that it is a tight / irritated IT band (the muscle that runs from your hip to knee). In the hopes of loosening it I was sent to get a massage from a lady called Meghan. She gives massages to the women’s basketball team and was beginning to give them to team members as well. So one Wednesday afternoon found me at the doorstep of her mint green home. Upon arrival I could not help but notice the ultra-marathon posters and trophies that covered the walls of her home. I came to find out I was in the home of Meghan ARBOGAST. THE Meghan Arbogast who held the Where’s Waldo course record until my father broke it last summer. THE Meghan Arbogast who is indisputably one of the best ultra-marathoners… EVER! Yeah, that’s who I got my butt massaged by.

Some cool sites :

Mar 9, 2009

trying again

If there's a theme to the last few blogs, rest assured it isn't by choice.
I've followed Emily's example and have been going to PT out of desparation. It's not been very rewarding. Even the 10 minute casual bike ride to work has been painful. And I almost stopped running all-together for a couple of weeks. So after weeks of treatment, icing, stretching, etc and with the blessing of my therapist (physical therapist, although my mental therapist would agree it it's necessity) I've tried running a couple of times this week, and it hasn't hurt more afterwards, so I'm going to do more of that! Yesterday I did six 1/2 mile hill repeats with 1/2 mile recovery on the treadmill. By doing 6% at 9 mph I got my heart rate up to 185 for a couple minutes at a time, which is 6 beats higher than my theoretic maximum. High heart rates happen to me when I restart training after a break, but that seemed extreme. And if anything, I'm feeling better today than a couple of days ago.

I think the nerve endings or some other aspect of the tissues in front of my knee cap were continuing to send pain signals, even in the absence of tissue damage. At least, that's what I want to believe. I'm going to try building up quickly, but I'll have to see how things go this summer. I'm still planning on going to Moab in 3 weeks even if I can't bike. Mac Forest is in 2 months. The only other things I'm registered for are States and Hood to Coast (with co-workers.) I'll optimistically sign up for Where's Waldo again.

Feb 9, 2009

So now I write...

I have been poked and prodded, stretched and flexed to the point where even gymnasts would be jealous. I have been ice packed, ice cupped and ice bathed. I have had bags of ice plastic wrapped to my body to the point I could not walk. I have been heat packed, foam rolled, messaged, ultra sounded and been hooked up to machines that send small electric pulses through your muscles. I have arm biked to the brink of insanity and peered over it's vast horizon into it's inky unknown. I have pumped iron and push ups and crunches until my body burned. And yet, I have not ran.

Running is an interesting sport, it is intense, cruel, painful, magnificent. It tears you down only to leave you stronger. It requires it's athletes to be more than just physically strong but mentally, spiritually, emotionally tough. Running requires a soundness of mind as well as body. It does not ask, it demands.

No one has ever known torment like that of an athlete unable to perform. Someone once said runners were courageous and therefore stupid. I disagree with their reasoning. By definition courage is to have the mental or moral strength to venture or persevere. Courage is doing what is right even at a sacrifice; that is not stupidity. I am sorry if this is blasphemous but I believe that Jesus must have been a runner, how could He have withstood so much pain?
And so, I shall persevere.

Jan 26, 2009

running again

After 3 months of very little running, Kattie went 12 miles! She flaked out a bit on the last big hill, and clearly isn't in anywhere near the shape she used to be, but seemed to really enjoy it. I went with her.

(For the sake of the dignity of one of my running partners, please don't pay any attention to the fact that I'm wearing THE tights that I'm not allowed to wear around her friends because they didn't come from the *men's* section of Target and they match hers. They have zippered legs, and at $25 I thought they were a great deal!)

I figure my knee bursa feels 95% of normal. After 3 months, if it wasn't healed yet then it wasn't going to ever. What can't be cured must be endured--or else must be precisely injected with 40mg of triamcinalone. That near miracle was about 10 days ago, and now the main things that kept me from yesterday were a) laziness, 2) foul weather, and iii)fear of the return of pain, which is almost worse than pain.

There's a personal trainer in our ward who's partially come out of her motherhood leave-of-abscence. She's taken on about 15 couples for a 10 week fitness challenge. It's been enlightening to see how much I've been eating. I'm calorie monitoring, not counting per-se. She has us using If you want to improve something, monitor it. I've been eating 1000 calories for breakfast each day.

Here's the initial measurements:

Measurement Type





Healthy weight range for height*:





Body Fat

13% **

upper end of "Athlete" range

Sit & Reach (flexibility)

20 1/2"

85th percentile, well above average



>90th percentile, off the charts for a skinny old guy

Abdominal Strength


60th percentile, above average- these were a new variation of the standard tortuous sit-ups.

*Healthy weight range determined by the weight range that would put you into a healthy BMI category, and at a low risk for disease and highest quality of life.
**Body fat callipers, which we used have a +/- 3% error possibilty, but are the best inexpensive body fat indicator.

She's made it a competition with a points system. I found out about it when my young men's counselors wouldn't have desert at the planning meeting we had last week.