Volunteering with Tree People

Now that I am living and training in Beverly Hills, I have been exploring lots of new places to ride and run. One of the first spots I checked out was Franklin Canyon Park. Franklin Canyon is just north of Sunset Blvd, where Coldwater Canyon and Beverly Dr split and head into the Santa Monica Mountains. (Fun fact: At the bottom of Franklin Canyon is Coldwater Canyon Park, where I proposed to Mo in February!) It??is one of my favorite routes to get up to Mulholland, which is the main artery through the Santa Monica Mountains, as it is too narrow and slow for commuters compared to Coldwater Canyon, Laurel Canyon, etc., making it nice and quiet.

logoOn one of my adventures up to Mulholland, I noticed a sign at the intersection of Franklin Canyon, Mulholland and Coldwater Canyon, for “Tree People.” This was back in the summer, and I probably had a couple hours of riding on my mind, so I just gave it a glance and didn’t think much of it. Just last week, however, I gave it a second look and decided to look it up:

TreePeople is a nonprofit organization that is growing a ??green and climate-resilient Los Angeles, one with enough tree canopy, healthy soil, and clean local water in even our most urban neighborhoods.

Interesting. I began reading the website, discovering??they are really into things like capturing rain water, reducing watershed into the ocean, and reforesting brushfire burn areas. How cool! I took a look at their calendar of events, and saw they have a variety of events every week. I was inspired by Paul Mitchell’s #GivingIsMyStyle campaign, and a few minutes later I was registering for an event on Sunday and asking some of my friends if they were interested in joining me.

Angeles Forest Restoration

23051516733_dd6211b14b_oMy friend Spencer Marcus and I carpooled from LA up into the Angeles Crest National Forest to the Chilao Campground off Highway 2. There was a group of maybe about 30 Tree People workers and other volunteers. We had a short orientation before we set off to plant our own trees. We were told this area, along with 160,000 acres, was burned in the??2009 Station Fire. Wildfires in the area are natural and a part of the life cycle of the ecosystem, but the Station Fire was caused by arson and burned so hot that basically all the undergrowth as well as big, tall trees were completely wiped out.??Tree People is helping to get the area back to healthy growth with events like this one.

Our task was to plant Coulter pine trees. We were instructed to find a pre-marked location, dig a hole, create a berm, plant a seedling, water it, and finally lay down some mulch for protection. They stressed “quality over quantity.”??Spencer and I managed to plant five of the best pine tree seedlings you have ever seen!

We were out there for just a few hours, but Spencer and I agreed that the little work we did??felt good!??Not all of the trees we planted will make it, and the ones that do won’t really be grown for many years. Before we left, however, the Tree People organizers told us the impact our work will have, especially to the generations ahead.

If you are interested in doing some volunteer work, or just being outside and enjoying Los Angeles’s natural playground!, I encourage you to look at Tree People’s calendar of events. And if you do volunteer at Tree People, or anywhere else, tell your friends on social media using #GivingIsMyStyle. Paul Mitchell will donate $1 for every Tweet and Instagram with that hash tag toward a variety of charities, and hopefully you will inspire someone else to volunteer or give back, as well!

Mr. & Mrs. Pedersen

Here’s some exciting news: on Saturday I got married!

22910547662_8ecd052892_hMaureen Pedersen and I were married at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks. It was a perfect day thanks to all the preparation she did for us and our families and friends.

We take off on our honeymoon to Costa Rica on Sunday. We are really looking forward to our first adventures as husband and wife. We have zip lining, rafting, ATV, and lots of hiking already planned, and we’re hoping to get in some coffee tours and surfing, as well. We’ll be staying near the Arenal Volcano the first few nights, and then at a resort in Tamarindo on the Pacific Coast. If you have any recommendations, send them my way!

I met Mo through running at Northern Arizona. I am reminded again and again how fortunate I am to have taken up this sport, as it has shaped my life since I was a little boy in so many way. Marrying Mo is my latest reminder.

Me and my beautiful wife November 7, 2015 @austinpreciado55 @matrimonyfilms #mopedwed

A photo posted by Jason Pedersen (@jpbjorn) on

Thankful for Running

12-Jaclyn451As the tagline of RunPD suggests, I’ve been running for about as long as I can remember. My sister, Jaclyn, got the family started by joining the Simi Valley Running Rebels (then it was part of the Simi Valley Vikings, actually). This motivated my mom to take it up as an adult despite never running growing up. It took just a couple of years following Jaclyn and my mom around track meets and cross country courses before my brother, Andrew, and I decided to join in on the??fun.

Many years, practices, races, and careers have past since then.??To say running has shaped our lives is an understatement. Many of our closest friends and fondest memories came from the sport. Both Jaclyn and I would have attended different universities had it not been for our high school running, and it’s crazy to think how different our lives would be now. Heck, running is 1/3rd of my current profession!

I am thankful for a lot of things, but it seems fitting to highlight running during this time of year for my family. For quite a while now, Thanksgiving and running have gone hand-in-hand.

Today, my mom and I raced in a local turkey trot here in Simi.**


A couple years ago, I raced in one of the biggest and oldest turkey trots in Cincinnati when I was in Northern Kentucky visiting some of Mo’s family for the holiday.

I spent four of the six years I was at NAU in Terre Haute, IN on the Monday before Thanksgiving at the NCAA Cross Country Championships. In 2009, the Lumberjacks finished??4th.


Before that, my family made a trip nearly every year between 1997-2005 to Fresno, CA for the CIF State Cross Country Championships. Jaclyn??was Royal High School’s first ever individual qualifier. In 2001, Andrew was apart of the school’s first team qualification — that team finished as a very surprising??runner-up. In 2003, my team backed that up with another 2nd, and then went onto winning Royal’s first state titles in any sport in 2004 and 2005.

2005 Royal Cross Country

Finally, as I joked on Facebook earlier this week, Hillside Middle School’s Turkey Trot was dominated by kids named “Pedersen” and “Ramirez”– our closest family friends — in the ’90’s and up until 2001. Back then I wasn’t racing for money, but only for glory in the form of t-shirts that didn’t actually fit until four years later.10620829_10203981574832348_1002107068959833302_n

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for running, all the people and memories it has brought me, and to be able to still find joy in it everyday.

Tom the Turkey says, "Happy Thanksgiving!"
Tom the Turkey says, “Happy Thanksgiving!”

**I finished 2nd at Simi Valley’s “Thanksgiving Day 5k” today to former high school teammate, Jun Reichl. It was a fun race running in front with him. I don’t think either of us wanted to push it especially hard, and opted to leave it down to a sprint finish, and he won! My mom also raced, finishing 3rd in her age group! What’s more impressive is that she was preparing our turkey at 5:30 am before the race, and she hasn’t stopped cooking since! Strava file of the race (15:56) and some photos on Facebook??from my dad.

Simi Ride: Finally!

The biggest perk of #offseason is that, more or less, I get to do what I want (so long as what “I want” includes swimming at least a few times a week…). I’ve been spending a lot of time with Mo, done a bit of surfing, and??seen family. Most workouts have been very easy and/or social because 1) I don’t get many opportunities for this sort of thing during the season, and 2) I haven’t been motivated to do anything too intense.

While I have this??freedom I thought I should check out the famous “Simi Ride.” Many cyclists and triathletes in the area have told me about this group ride over the last few years, and I’ve been itching to try it. According to this Bicycling Magazine article, the ride is almost 50 years old and attracts some of the best cyclists around.

I rode out from my parents house and met up with the group just as they were starting from the East end of LA Ave in Simi Valley. I knew this was a popular ride, so I was expecting to see a big group, but it was still impressive to me to see maybe 150 cyclists rolling down the road together. I jumped in towards the middle of the group. It took me a little while, but I finally found a friend and former teammate from Royal High School, Matt Gulden, in the bunch. Matt is still fairly new to road cycling, but he’s picked it up quick and it was nice to chat with him off and on over the next few hours.

Norwegian Grade. This photo is from last week's ride, but you get the idea. Photo by: Steve Nix
Norwegian Grade. This photo is from last week’s ride, but you get the idea. Photo by: Steve Nix

From LA Ave the group continued onto Tierra Rejada and rode into Moorpark. Left onto Moorpark Rd and followed that up Norwegian Grade. A few cyclists rolled from the front to back up the climb, but the effort was fairly easy most of the way. As we got into Thousand Oaks, the group turned right onto Olsen Rd and continued onto Lynn Rd as we made our way into Newbury Park. Left on Reino Rd and another quick left onto Portrero Rd. The group rode steady until a small attack on some of the steeper sections near the top. The descent down into the flats of Hidden Valley and toward Lake Sherwood was one of the more intense sections of the ride. I got into a nice rotation at the front with about a dozen other guys. It was fun to get a little competitive again.

Once we made it to Westlake Blvd things were pretty relaxed. We made a pit stop at Triunfo Park for water and bathroom. With a group that large, stops take a bit longer, and I was antsy to get back on the road the last few minutes. Matt and I led the group out around Westlake Lake and onto Agoura Rd. This section to Kanan Rd was very chill.

#bikes #simiride

A photo posted by Jason Pedersen (@jpbjorn) on

Finally we got onto Cornell Rd and made our way to Mulholland. The faster guys that wanted to ride started to work their way towards the front here. Things slowly crescendoed until a couple miles before “7 Minute Hill” (or Dry Creek Cold Canyon Rd), where a massive attack was thrown down. One guy in a green kit (Canondale?) went off the front here. I led a chase group of a few others riders through the lower sections of 7 Minute Hill. The effort was pretty intense, and I definitely thought that maybe I was going “too hard.”??Fugg it! I do what I want!??I ended up 3rd to the top and a decent time of 6:35 (@ 368W).

Regrouping at the top of 7 Minute Hill. Photo by: Jordan Bernstein from October 18, 2014
Regrouping at the top of 7 Minute Hill. Photo by: Jordan Bernstein from October 18, 2014

I guess the ride more or less ends at the top of this climb, and people roll out in smaller groups whenever they feel recovered. Matt and I continued down Mulholland and made our way north through The Valley via Topanga Canyon and Valley Circle. As the ride time crept toward four hours, my legs became total trash, and I rode Matt’s wheel back home (except when he dropped me up the Santa Susana Pass!).

Though I was smashed by the end, I had a blast! and will hopefully make it out a few more times as training allows. As fall progress into winter, the route gets a little bit longer, a little tougher, and I hear the pace kicks up quite a bit!

Here is a photo album one of the riders took from yesterday (though I’m not in any of them!). I found a video compilation from the 2013-2014 Winter Simi Ride that shows some cool shots of the route.

Happy New Year

Crazy to think 2011 is coming to an end. So much has happened this last year, for better (mostly) and for worse (specifically the passing of my Farfar). As I did in 2010 and 2009, I will be posting a recap of the year. I like going through the process of writing these posts as it makes me read a lot of the things I have written over the last year, helping me relive experiences and relearn lessons. But this recap will have to wait, at least another week.

I am writing this post from a Starbucks in New Orleans, LA. My girl friend Mo and I leave on a seven day cruise in the Caribbean in just a few hours. I’m pretty certain there will be limited internet access on the trip, so no tweets or blog posts until we return. I will make sure to take lots of pictures of our trip and share some of the highlights.

Finally, I want to wish all of you a Happy New Year! Enjoy the end of the holiday season. 🙂

Happy New Year from New Orleans!

Now we go the other way

Yesterday was the winter solstice. Growing up in the southwest my whole life I didn’t have much of an appreciation for the winter and summer solstices until I was in high school or so. Around that time I learned from my Farfar that in northern countries like Denmark, the amount of daylight each day, and whether it was increasing or decreasing, is a hot topic. Each summer and winter solstice he would say to my dad (in Danish of course), “Now we go the other way.”

My Farfar was the first to congratulate after I won the Breath of Life triathlon in July

My Farfar passed away on November 23rd. We had a wonderful memorial for him on Saturday. It was quite emotional as you may imagine, but it was nice to share many great stories of him with family and friends.

Now as we look the “other way” towards the summer solstice, things look bleak despite the promise of long, warm summer days. My Farfar won’t be around to share his wisdom and cheer me on from the sidelines of my next triathlon. Still, I will continue to persistently pursue my dreams, knowing that these sad days will pass, and the sun will shine again.

Family weekend at sea level

On Friday I went home for some family action. My Great Uncle Niller had flown all the way in from Copenhagen, Denmark, which doesn’t happen very often. I spent the majority of the weekend at my aunt’s beautiful home in Northridge with my cousins, brother, sister, mom, dad, sister-in-law, Farfar (father’s father in Danish)…

Those that know me well know that I’m a family guy. I love it in Flagstaff, but I do miss my family a lot while I’m here. I’m lucky enough to have my own travel agent (mom) that gets me home once or twice a semester. Guess who is the favorite child?

Another perk to going home is sea level! I took this opportunity to do a little swim marker to see where I am at. USA Triathlon has a swim test that they use to evaluate potential Collegiate Recruits: 200 all out, 1 minute rest, 800 all out. Last year I did the test several times, putting up my best time in July. On that occasion I swam 2:13 and 10:10 for short course yards. At the time I was ecstatic with the result, especially the 200. I had rested up for the test and it was my last hard swim before turning my focus 100% on the cross country season.

Swimming has been going very well up here in Flagstaff. I hit 30,000m in one week for the first time a couple of weeks in anticipation of my first ITU triathlon coming up. I didn’t taper at all for the test, but I knew with my new swim fitness and a little extra oxygen I was ready to swim a good time.

Coach Ian did some filming of the swim. My form has improved, but I need to bring my arm underneath my body to really get the most out of my stroke.

My triathlon coach Ian Murray met me at CLU and took me through a good warm up. I got myself pumped up and dove head first into the 200. I swam a 2:10, which was a little bittersweet because I thought I was ready to break 2:10. I tried to enjoy all the extra oxygen during that short one minute rest, and then set off on the 800. I hit 9:41 — a 29 second improvement!

While the 200 wasn’t quite as fast as I was hoping, I surprised myself in the 800 and I can see that all the hours I am spending at the pool are paying off. I spoke with Barb Lindquist yesterday and we agreed that if I can keep this regimen up, I will be an entirely different swimmer come next Spring.

My swim will really be put to the test this weekend at the Myrtle Beach ITU Continental Cup. Lots more to come before and after that race.

Getting to know The Lumberjacks: Kortnee Burton

Coming to NAU to study and compete has been a great experience for so many reasons. Perhaps the highlight of it all has been the many teammates that I have had which are some of my closest friends. This last semester, especially, the team did a great job coming together for regular social “get togethers” outside of practice. Many of the “Getting to know The Lumberjacks” videos came from such outings.

In December Coach Mo had the team over to entertain a couple of recruits. Being the opportunist that I am, I brought my camera to make a new episode. This night’s victim was junior Kortnee Burton…