Saturday, February 25, 2012
The absolute upside and cool part of it all was that Annie drove up to Baptist Road and parked there and met me a little south from there on the trail and ran part of the last two miles with me. We have ran together twice this week and it is a lot of fun. She likes her La Sportiva C-Lite II's that I picked up for her a couple of weeks ago.
Brutal honesty... this week has been a struggle. I have vacillated between quitting running altogether and pursuing other things in life (what I have no clue) to maybe just reassessing my goals and types of races that I will run in the future. It has been frustrating.
Melissa and I had a good talk about it all this morning and I was able to express to her both the depth and the intensity of my feelings in regards to how things went down in Texas and just how destroyed my self-esteem and confidence are right now in regards to running... I'm still a smug, cocky jerk in all other regards. At the same time I also know that even if things had gone as great as I would have hoped that I would still be sitting in some kind of post-race letdown or funk as well. That sword cuts both ways I guess.
During today's 20 miler I of course had a lot of time to think and me being me, I have determined that one way or the other I am going to power trough this. As always I will pick up the pieces and soldier on with my focus on the future, not what's behind me so much. It will take time a few weeks maybe before I start to feel better I am sure but eventually the confidence will return and I will see progress again. I just have to give it time.
And even if this were the end or the beginning of the end... I would never submit without a fight... I guess that is why this is one of my favorite Tom Petty songs...
Nah, I still have a lot of good years ahead of me, I know that.
Have a good weekend everyone!
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
I am also doing a run with Annie in the afternoon tomorrow in Palmer Park. It will be fun to run with her for a bit.
Still tired and not ready to be home.
Day two of my "living cleaner" eating regime is going okay. I haven't even caved for a diet soda yet! Pretty good.
I think that maybe two weeks or so was too long of a break. I think that in the future seven days like after Leadville 2011 is better for me. Anyway... right now I am struggling a bit it seems, trying to pick up all of the pieces and putting them all back together... legs, heart, lungs, head... nothing is in sync.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Mexico was absolutely the best vacation ever. The perfect balance between doing stuff, doing nothing and everything else. Acapulco sure has changed over the years. I might write something about that in the near future. Personally I think that I like it more now.
I ran twice when we were down there. Once on Thursday to go and exchange dollars and then on a whim on Saturday I ran barefoot on the beach. I really don't like running in sand. I decided to just take it easy when I was down there knowing full well what would be ahead of me once I got back to Colorado.
Today I did an easy ten miles total. 7.5 with Asia and 2.5 with Melissa. Neither run was pretty or fast but it was good to get the legs moving again. I will keep the expectations low this week as I ease back into things.
Today also starts the beginning of my minimal sugar diet... I've been really lax and well just outright overindulging in Mountain Dew and Snickers and really a ton of other crap I shouldn't be eating the past few weeks. So starting today I am staying away from the obvious culprits in order to keep my weight manageable this spring. Once I feel that things are dialed back in I can start having treats and cheat every once in a while and special occasions.
Shoved a huge splinter under my right thumbnail tonight closing the back gate. Never have I experienced so much pain. It took Melissa and I three different attempts to extract all of the wood out as it kept splintering. It hurt so badly that I threw up.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Had a great time last night with Annie and Melissa celebrating Valentines Day and an early birthday for Melissa. Here is some irony for you... I am here working in the evening and doing my thing while both Melissa and Annie are out running some miles with Asia. Irony. It is funny how there are only three of us but there had to be 20 different cards on the dining room table for everyone when we were done.
After Annie left we had pizza and watched a movie, Catch .44. It was pretty interesting. Forest Whitaker was over the top creepy in this one.
I really want to run in the worst way. This break has been good but I am ready to get back to work. I think that my first run will be in Acapulco tomorrow right after we check into the Grand. I will go for a short run to my favorite currency exchange place there to convert some dollars to pesos. That is what I usually do anyway... check in, dump stuff in the room, go exchange currency, get some beverages at Wal Mart for the room... then hit the beach in time for the sunset. I can not wait to get there tomorrow.
Today was okay... Got my taxes done and the IRS wont' be getting anymore money from ME for 2011.. and I had my yearly review with my manager today as well and he still likes me... or at least likes how I do my job... haha... Both of the situations could be much worse.
Melissa will do her first bungee jump for her birthday on Friday. That is going to be a blast! Anyway, everyone have a great rest of your week and weekend!
Getting ready to go... 10/9/09
And he's off!
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Anyway... if you are having a tough day, watch this video... I guarantee this guy is still feeling the ache from the kick in the guts that he got last month...
But before I would have or could have EVER considered the LT100 or an other ultra distance for that matter, I knew that I would have to tackle The Double!
So here it is from 2007... Enjoy!
Saturday, August 18, 2007
It All Comes Down to this.
17 August 2007
Months, weeks and days have been reduced to mere hours now. In less than 48 hours my attempt at completing the Pikes Peak "Double" will be concluded. There is no telling how this is going to turn out. The die has been cast. My fate sealed two or three weeks ago yet I will not know what the outcome will be until it is all over.
Training went well this year. I did things I never thought were possible. I ran stronger than I possibly ever have. Of course with that comes the psychological adjustments that must happen to keep the rest of reality in proper perspective. I worked hard this summer, ran hard, but I also played very hard for a bit just to counterbalance it. It is funny how I must always do that.
I have been in taper mode for the past three weeks. This is always a difficult period for me. I am exhausted from the routine of months prior, but also in a mode where I am so used to continuously pushing through physical pain, mental burnout and hell, just spiritual fatigue as a whole. I tend to feel more sluggish through this phase and less productive. With running less comes the time to think more, and thinking more about things I probably shouldn't be thinking about.
Mostly though time is allowed to think about the run, what do I want to do, how do I want to do it, what are my goals, will I pull this off?
This has been one of the longest weeks of my life, sitting around and waiting. At least it feels that way. Last weekend was great weekend with just Roxy and I camping up in the mountains at 11,000 feet in elevation and away from everything. The best part of the trip was Saturday night as I was laying next to the campfire, drinking beer (carb loading), smoking a great Arturo Fuente cigar, looking up at the stars, the milky way and the meteors. The second part, climbing a 13'r that I have wanted to climb for years Roxy and I did on Saturday afternoon. My last two bigger runs were also last weekend. Since then it has just been taking it easy. Rest on Monday, two light runs on Tuesday and Wednesday, yesterday and today have been off days. Tomorrow I get up early and do phase I of the weekend. The Ascent.
I am not concerned about the Ascent. That is only the gateway I believe to the entire experience that will be this weekend. The plan is simple. Get up, get to the starting line, get to the top of the
mountain, then get down as quickly as possible. Right now I do not allow myself to think of Sunday and the Marathon. I am only thinking of the Ascent tomorrow. Of course, after doing the Ascent I am going to have to completely forget it, put it out of my mind and HOPE that my body does not remember either. I have to by some Jedi mind trick and have my mind convince my body that it is 100 percent and fresh again come Sunday morning.
Get there, get up, and get down…. Once down I am going to re-hydrate, eat, and hopefully have both my hydration and blood sugar balanced out as quickly as possible. Then it is back to pretty much sitting around like I am now. Resting, feet up.
I am closing this for now and I will add to it two more times, once after the Ascent, and again after the Marathon.
18 Augst 2007 14:02
Well I have been home for a little over two hours. I have consumed a ton of water, two Bananna's, a ribeye steak and some spinach. I was hungry. :)
This morning was so-so. I got up at 5 as planned, fed Roxy, showered, got dressed and got the rest of my stuff together to go. I was out of the house by 5:50 and stopped in the garage real quick to do some lifting just to warm up a little, not a full workout. In the Jeep and off to Manitou Springs at 6:00.
Parked a bit from the starting line then walked to there. Looked for Erich and for the first time ever I couldn't find him right off. Weird. Actually I got concerned. Erich is never late to anything, ever. Actually his timing is typically 5 minutes prior to what most people would call early. It's a quirk of his and after 20 years of friendship one that still gets me at times. We finally synced up at 6:45. He had some issues getting his packet and stuff pre-race as it turns out.
I really don't know how to explain how I felt this morning. Obviously nervous which was apparent by grossly inappropriate flavor of humor that I was enjoying and sharing this morning. That's just me being me I guess. Even though I was nervous at the same time I was quite
The race started and as I feared my legs felt a little dead, more like cold. I've felt worse though. It was a reminder for me to just relax, take it easy and think only of "my race" and not about anything going on around me. Always at the beginning the distance, time required to cover that distance and the elevation to be gained to the summit always seems damn near impossible. This morning was no exception.
It just did not feel like things were going great. I just could not seem to find my happy pace or groove. The first four miles or so which are tough to start with challenged me appropriately this morning. My mind tried to wander so much, and extra effort was needed to stay focused. Legs still feeling a bit tired, not in my best stride, and on top of it all, it was warm.
The heat was a factor for me today. It wasn't terribly hot per se but hot enough to be a factor and make things uncomfortable. The heat stayed constant pretty much all the way to treeline. Finally it started to cool off when I hit the 3 mile to go mark.
3 miles to go... the mile between 3 to go and 2 to go to the summit has always been the toughest part for me on the course. Going up, or going down, that mile just F'ing kills me. I thought I had it licked this year as all of my training runs went really well through there, amazingly well. It wasn't to be that way this morning. I suffered every precious inch of that stinking mile. But I gutted through it and started reaping my reward through the last two miles.
See, a lot of folks end up going out way to fast. Don't think their way through the course as they should. The end result is above treeline they suffer greatly. Me this is where I do my best work and today was no exception. I would see someone in the distant and mark them as prey more or less and would not relent until I was past them. And I know it's probably not sportsmanlike but it is fun to see other people crumble, knowing you did the work, and they didn't.
I knew I was close to a PR as I got through the last mile. My best time last year of 3:33:33. I was fading though and fast within the last quarter of a mile. Hard to keep going and maintain the same level of intensity. I was close and I wanted to beat that time so bad.
I threw myself to the finish line and it was a goat rope. Actually I crossed before the guy to my left did and they pulled his number first so I don't know how that will play out. As for my time I'll have to wait and see what it is. I didn't see the clock and though I thought I stopped my watch, I didn't hit the button hard enough. That being said my time may be in the 3:32, or 3:33, or 3:34 range. I am guessing that I am in the upper 3:33 range and not a PR.
All in all, today was tough, but it still went well. The best part is I recovered completely within five minutes of being on the summit. I know that today if I had to I could have easily made the 13 mile trip running back down the mountain, no questions asked.
The big question is, can I do it tomorrow. We will soon know.
18 August 2007 16:39 UPDATE - The times were just posted. My official time is 3:34:04. I am not sure how I feel about that right now. Sort of pissed knowing they jacked around at the finish pulling my number and they pulled the guys tag to my left before mine, and he crossed after I did. I’m just going to have to concentrate on tomorrow. If I get a personal record (PR) on the Ascent tomorrow it will still stand as a PR by itself. Now if I want to go for the whole ball of wax, PR on the Ascent and PR in the Marathon. Times to beat will be 3:33:33 and 5:56:02, respectively. I gotta start thinking on those terms now.
Time to eat and drink more. :)
19 August 2007 16:25
I will add more later but here are the cliff notes. Woke up this morning feeling absurdly well considering. Mentally wonder why I would want to do what i was attempting but still got ready and went. The trip up the mountain was okay but i was not faster than yesterday. My ascent time was around 3:45 and change. Not bad, today the heat was way worse than yesterday and I figured I was still well within the tolerances to get a PR.
A PR did not happen. About 1.5 miles down from the summit I went down and went down hard. Rolled my left ankle again. At first I nearly cried thinking of all the work the past few months just went up in smoke and my bid to complete both races was over. Took some Aleeve which thank God I put two in my pack for just in case, took a few minute break, tested, my ankle and it seemed okay. For how long I was not sure but I was going to get as much out of it as i could. Started back down.
Around two miles down met a nice running partner to pair up with as long as I could. We talked a lot and that kept my mind off of my throbbing and swelling ankle.. Damn that almost sounds pornograhic. :)
Gave up all hope for a PR of course and was fine with that. Ran down the entire 12 miles or so after rolling it, well, I did roll it again around mile 19-20. Oh did I yell. It got hot as hell coming down.
Finished strong with my time of 6:10:48. I am happy with that. I will write in more details later. But the big thing is I did it. My first Pikes Peak Double, both races and both races done well. Time to open another bottle of wine. :)
20 August 2007 09:27
It is truly the morning after. My ankle is way worse than I ever thought. The swelling and visible bruising is quite pronounced. I think this is way worse than when I originally sprained it in April. I am still not upset, dissapointed or anything like that. If anything I am quite grateful because I know that when it went crunch yesterday, and I flew things could have been a lot worse. Worse being, I could have been cut up pretty bad on the trail, at least skinned up pretty bad. Or something more serious like hitting my head on a rock.
To fill in the gaps from yesterday... I woke up at 05:00 and felt absurdly well. A little tightness in my left calf but I knew that would be worked out after being up and moving around for a few minutes. I felt like my energy level was good and I felt completely recovered from Saturday. As I said early the only thing bothering my was lack of motivation or purpose for going forward with my quest and running the Marathon. Regardless I got ready and my buddy Erich and I left here at 06:00 when he came to pick me up.
The starting line was not the circus it was the morning before. Two different races to different kinds of people in each. Erich got some cool photo's at the starting line and we hung out and just BS'd about what I was going to do and how I was going to do it.
Before the gun went off, someone sang the Star Spangled Banner. Everyone who knows me, knows how I can be a little emotive... sentimental, whatever. Everytime I hear that song it always moves me. Yesterday was no different. I was thankful to live in a country where we have all of the freedoms and liberties that we have and for those who have all made that possible through personal sacrifice.
Mental state was relaxed when the gun went off. My strategy was to go out and just do what I could do. The race and my result would just be what it would be. My pace was 3 minutes off 7 miles up the mountain from the day before. But hey, there was a day before, it's not like I am 100% refreshed and recovered to do this. Three minutes in the grand scheme, is not that much. I also had 19 more miles or so to go and anything could happen.
Sunday was much hotter than Saturday and heat was a big factor. Even above treeline it was a lot hotter. My time to the summit was 11 minutes slower than on Sunday. Again, the heat, running the day before, and holding back to have some for the downhill leg played into that. Again, nothing I was concerned about, I actually felt that I could pull a PR on the Marathon at this point.
When I got to the summit I was craving chocolate... bad. They didn't have any. But they had some animal crackers. I turned around up there quickly handful of animal crackers and I think when I at the first one, I might have messed my shorts up a little! :) They were that good. But anyway, I am on the downhill leg. My plan was to get more water 1.5 miles or so down, not get water at the top. So far it was going well.
Negotiating going down with runners coming up the rocky and craggy trail can be difficlut. I was careful not to do anything stupid to get hurt. I knew in a bit I would be on somewhat smoother trail and could begin to open up. The goal, lose as much altitude as I could, as quick as I could and get more air.
I stopped at the traverse aid station 1.5 miles down from the summit, refilled my water bottle and got a handfull of those wonderful animal crackers again and M&M's. I was in heaven. This was my error.
Running, completely blissed out with the crackers and M&M's, and not paying a damned bit of attention. I hit a soft spot, rock, what I don't know. All I remember is hearing/feeling a loud "crunch!" I was airborne then I was down, hard.
It took a second or two to come around and realize what had just happened. When I realized completely the nature of the situation I almost threw up. I almost cried. I began to unwravel as I saw the work, planning, etc, etc, all go up in smoke. I am 11-12 miles from the finish and I am hurt pretty bad. People stopped to ask if I was okay, if I needed the Search & Rescue Medics to come up/down. I told them I wasn't sure. Not yet. I calmed down. It wasn't going to go down
like this. NO. I will not let it.
My ankle could support weight. Then I tested it to see if I could walk on it and I could. I remember saying to myself that if I have to walk the entire way down (which the thought of really didn't appeal to me) that I was going to finish this Motherfucker one way or the other. I was not going to not finish the freaking double.
I walked a few steps then came the big test. Can I run/jog on it? I could and it hurt. Could I bear the pain? How far will my ankle last? The pain seemed tolerable. I just didn't know how far I could go. So off I went. Slow at first, then as I felt more comfortable, I picked up speed. I had to pee really bad and had decided to take care of that at the two mile point down from the summit at a rock I have used many times for that very purpose.
Stopped at my rock and did that. When I came out I ended up in a herd of people who seemed to be going at a pace I was comfortable with. After a mile or so ended up running alone with just one person fromthat pack, Barb. She and I ran toghether the rest of the 10-11 miles to the bottom pretty much the whole way. I lost her when I rolled my ankle again around 5-6 miles to go but then caught back up. She was a godsend, as she was quite chatty, which kept my mind off of my ankle, and she had a great pace which pushed me at times but then as it turned out, I pushed/pulled her along at times a little bit too. I definitely owe her dinner and a case of beer or something cause she definitely made it enjoyable.
Erich was expecting me around six hours and started to get nervous when I wasn't there. He figured something had to have happened, and he was right. He got the great photo of me blasting towards the finish line.
I crossed the finish with great form, and the way I like to finish races like this. I was intact. I wasn't bleeding (could have been), I wasn't throwing up, I wasn't fainting. I did it with dignity and class and after a minute people were asking me if I had really ran. :)
Erich and I got back to my place. Called my folks then we drank a great bottle of German Spatelase in the backyard and I smoked a superb Nicaraguan Cigar and we talked about it all. Of course my ankle is wrapped with ice on it by this point. It was a great part of the whole
I am happy with the way this weekend turned out. Grateful for many things. A PR was never truly a part of the equation for either race. Would have been nice but it was not to be. My original goals were simple. Finishe the Ascent in just under four hours... did that in 3:34:04. Finish the Marathon in just under six hours, well that was 6:10:47. Looking at the two times and the differences in goals it is a wash, and actually I am a head of my conservative goal.
Getting to sleep last night was a little hard. Everytime I would close my eyes I would be falling on the trail again. I hope I shake that soon.
141 people did the Double this year, running both races, both days. Of those 141 people, I came in 30th. I'll take it! :)
Monday, February 13, 2012
Physically things are feeling great. Ankles are still a little sore and tender in the mornings but they loosen up after a bit. My blisters are healing as well but still need some time. I will be good to go come this Friday when I run in Acapulco! Yay!
I am getting so excited about our vacation. Last night I could not sleep so I came downstairs and knocked out about two hours of work in the middle of the night undisturbed by well... work... it was nice. I know that I will pay dearly for being gone once I get back. I always do.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Got up... did the usual morning routine. Annie came over and picked me up and we went and ran some errands. I got her something really cool while we were out too. Went to Wal Mart and ran into Brooks and Holly and then ran some other errands.
Came home, started the motorcycle and let it warm up and idle for a bit. Walked both dogs with Melissa and smoked 2 cigars in the process. Came home and had dinner and watched a movie.
This must be what a normal life is like, eh?
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Cold out today. Makes me glad that I am on my little break. Brandon S. went up Pikes Peak today and I would have liked to have done that trip but it will have to wait until next month maybe. Also Brooks and I still need to redeem ourselves (actually he needs the redemption since he got us into that mess) and do our run from N. Cheyenne Canon to Cripple Creek without post holing. That will be late March/early April I guess.
I decided today that we are going to celebrate Meslissa's birthday twice next week. We are going to have our first celebration in conjunction with Valentines Day on Tuesday then we will really, really, really celebrate it on Friday in Mexico. It is going to be so much fun. She is going to do the same bungee jump that I do down there. I also can't wait to get down there and meet up with old friends and catch up. It has been a long time.
Still feeling antsy about running. All of the swelling is gone but my right ankle still feels a little crunched yet. I need to give it a couple more days at least. Friday... I will run on Friday... Packing my new MT110's for the trip.
All in all a very quiet weekend!
Friday, February 10, 2012
I came up with a new theory after this race and that is that if you spend too much time on a course, there comes a point where the course just consumes you, erodes you from the outside in and it isn't exactly linear. Once things start to go to hell.... they do and it gets worse way much quicker. I think the best way to do it is to burn oneself up from the inside out, consume more of the trail/course before it consumes you. Does that make sense? Speed... run harder and feel more of that discomfort that enduring more hours spent on the course being even more uncomfortable.
That being said, I really want to finish a 100 more based on speed, not strength, endurance and pure fricking will. It is going to take more work and to be honest I hope that I have the bandwidth for it, the capacity for that kind of speed. Confidence is really in the crapper right now.
So I need to get back to work and start working on my overall speed again and that is what I am anxious for. Also to see that I haven't lost anything. Of course if I went out today I'd just suffer and do poorly and end up even MORE discouraged. I am still getting faster, I know it, this past weekend was just not my time to show it yet.
Physically I am coming around. My left cankle is pretty much gone and right cankle is about 75% gone so not too much swelling left. The bottoms of my feet where I had blisters and it was all just abraded is now in the totally itchy phase of healing. All of my toenails are good and I won't be losing any. Go figure, my toes actually always fare rather well.
So right now I want to run but can't and more importantly won't. I will sit on my ass till next Friday and my first post RR100 will be in sunny Mexico which is one of my favorite places to run. I will just do some light runs there to get my legs moving again and once I get back I will start focusing on the rest of 2012 and my next goal, the Salida Half Marathon on March 10.
Kind of a slow weekend around here, I am oncall tonight. Melissa is reading all weekend and Sunday we are going to see a movie. No running. :)
Have a good weekend everyone.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
1. 2008 Pikes Peak Ascent (Seriously just thought I would die. Hypothermia)
2. 2009 Leadville Silver Rush 50 mile (Rain, hail, wind, lightning, everything but locusts.)
3. 2011 Dallas Whiterock Marathon (Rain every step of the way)
4. 2012 Rocky Raccoon 100 (2.5 inches of rain and tons of mud.)
5. 2009 San Juan Solstice (Nice blizzard along the continental divide)
6. 1989 Kaiserslautern 13.1 (All rain)
At any rate, here is my old race report from that PPA. In hindsight I still have never been that afraid during a race.
Sometimes It's Great to Just Finish.
It has been almost four months since the Pikes Peak Ascent. I think enough time has passed now for me to be able to write about it without experiencing some weird post traumatic effects as I write. It was a race, no, not even that, just something of the likes which I had never experienced before, except for maybe once on a river where my own death seemed very real and very imminent.
To back fill some information, this year had been very challenging for me running and training. Nothing felt easy ever. There seemed to be some imbalance that prevented me from ever operating 100%. My legs might feel good and the rest of me but maybe my heart was not in it for some reason. My spirits could be good but my body would revolt in one way or the other on a run or post run.
One of my best friends William suggested that my chakra's were out of alignment or some such stuff, or my chi was off. Whatever, even he was able to notice there was something off as well. Regardless, I stuck to my training, and my plan and pushed on. I even managed to PR a mountain race in July to my surprise.
My goal of course this year was to beat my Ascent record of 3:33:33. That had been my goal all year. Focus on the Ascent, those 13.3 miles and 7,815 feet of elevation gain and get that PR. As I mentioned though my training was a struggle and mentally I was not sure if I could really pull that off.
I knew that the race was going to either go really well, or it wasn't. No gray area with either good or bad, those were the options. Little did I know it would be something more than I could have ever dreamed of in my worst running nightmare.
Ascent day, August 16, I woke up at 5:00 to get ready for the race. I had not slept well the night before. Pre-race jitters, anxiety, and a few other things made it tough for me to find center and relax. Also it had rained a lot the days before and the summit of the peak was not visible for two or three days. When I got up to leave on Saturday morning it was raining and 52 degrees.
52 degrees is not something I had planned on nor was it anything that I had trained in this summer. It was HOT here this summer. Most Sundays for my long runs I was running in 90 degrees or more, even at altitude. It was tough. All summer I trained in hot/dry... now I had to race in wet/cold. I tried to put it out of my mind as there have been times in the past where I have gone to a race and it is raining early and cleared up for the race. It could very well happen again.
It didn't. It rained the whole drive to Manitou. I sat in the Jeep as it rained. A real rain, rain like we had back east when I was kid. Honest to god water and lots of it falling from the sky and it was still cold. What was I to do though? Throw away months of work and go home and go back to bed? Only if I could have.
I walked to the starting line, in the rain of course and I was wearing my running shoes, socks, shorts, an Under Armor T-shirt with a long sleeve poly shirt over that. I had on my knit cap, fleece jacket, Adidas windbreaker on too. In my pocket I had my light weight poly gloves just in case. I had to make some decisions. What do I wear on the trip up, and what do I send up in the support van to have on the summit?
Found my way to the start line looking for my buddy Erich. If he had any sense he was somewhere staying dry as he was in the second wave and would start 30 minutes after me. I never found him nor did I see him as I was standing under a tree pretending to stay dry close to the support vans. The idea of a PR was fading because I just could not see myself performing at that level under these conditions. I figured I would do okay but not that great. Oh well, at least I was going to run.
Just minutes before the gun was to go off the announcer broadcast over the PA that we would be getting above the storm that it was clear at top. YEAH! That is exactly what I needed to hear to both help in my decision of what to wear and to also boost my spirits about the day. It was still raining.
I shed both jackets and put them in the bag to be sent up to the top. Probably not the best idea in hindsight but going on what information I had an acceptable move. I figured I could run cold and wet for an hour or two then once I got above it dry off and keep going, at least that was the plan. I did decide to keep my hat on and wear my gloves and that was the smartest decision of the day probably.
The national anthem was sang, and the gun went off and away we went. Of course I went out too fast as usual as I wanted to get a good spot in the herd before we actually hit trail and the trail became a muddy mess. It was still raining, still cold but I figured 3-4 hours of anything I can handle. I've been through worse...
About halfway though the race at Barr Camp I began to have my doubts about 'getting above it,' as the announcer had mentioned. Sorry, my experience in the mountains just made me believe otherwise. I was at 10,200 feet in elevation and still in the thick of the storm, still raining and oh yeah, definitely COLDER.
I was soaked of course. Shoes, shorts, shirts, hat and gloves. I would squeeze my had into a fist and my water would just flow out of my gloves. Unbelievable. Keep going.
When I got close to treeline about 10 miles into the course I saw something I had never seen before. People coming DOWN the trail on Ascent day. It didn't make any sense but I kept going. Treeline, 3 miles to go to finish, approximately 2000 vertical feet in elevation left to gain, this is where chaos reigned. This is where the story really starts.
It was mayhem... The search and rescue team checking people out. People were turning around and going down. That answered my one question from before. I was told that it was horrible above the trees... windy and cold. They also told me to plan on an hour and half to reach the summit as it was that bad the last mile. I joked with a S&R volunteer that this was really turning into quite the sufferfest and we agree that the day was no longer about racing, times, shirts or medals, it was about surviving. This was a whole new game.
I was smart enough to know that if there was any wind it would cut right through my wet clothes. I got a garbage bag and the S&R guy I was talking to helped me to get it fitted over my shirt. Just about everyone at that point was doing the same. Gotta somehow find a way to prevent from losing more heat the rest of the way and the bags offered no insulation they do block the wind. Got my bag, got three miles to go, so off I went.
Okay, the only way that I can truly describe life above treeline that day is to call it a pure frozen hell. Not just cold, not just rain or snow. This was ungodly to be in even in the best mountaineering gear. A pure frozen hell. The wind was blowing out of the southwest at about 20-30 miles per hour sustained. This wind was carrying the snow, sleet and hail (read: no more rain) in a horizontal direction. That snow and hail cut into any exposed flesh like a million tiny needles. My neck and my face felt like I was dry shaving with a rusty dull razor.
I managed pretty good for the first mile. It sucked for sure, but I trudged along. It was halfway through the next mile where things went bad. It took me some time looking back on the race to figure out exactly what happened but now I can see it clearly. I bonked, I ran out of go, I stalled, I flamed out... whatever you want to call it, I had nothing left at that point. I was then in pure survival mode.
Three and half hours to get to this point. Of course there would be no PR. It dawned on me that my training and diligence through the summer was going to be useful as it was probably that same training and diligence which would keep me alive for the next mile and half. As I kept going I passed another S&R volunteer and could here the chatter over his hand held radio, the race was closed.
This means that anyone who was not above treeline or past 10 miles into the course, well they were being sent back down the mountain. They would not get to finish but instead would have to hike/run/walk 10 miles back down the trail to Manitou. I still don't know who were the lucky ones and who were not that day...the people who went through those three miles up to the summit or those who went down the 10 in the rain?
I made to the one mile to go marker. That signified that I only had 800 feet in elevation to gain. The wind had died down thankfully as well as the snow but the trail was a frozen mess. This last mile, well I don't know how I made it but I did.
In Manitou Springs there is an old tyme photography shop where they take those cheesy tourist photos. In one of their windows there is a photo from the 1800's of a couple, a man and woman lying dead on Pikes Peak in the snow. A very macabre scene. That image kept going through my mind that last mile. Would I end up like that?
I was in pain. I was cold. By this time, my feet are completely frozen and soaked. My feet hurt, my toes hurt with every step. The pain sucked but I also knew that if I could feel the hurt then frostbite was not a huge problem yet. My right leg locked up. I could not bend my right knee which forced me to negotiated the step-ups in a weird way. I was also beginning to shiver uncontrollably. I covered the last mile by maybe going 100-200 yards then bending over with my hands on my knees and shivering violently until I generated enough heat to stand up and go another 100-200 yards. I welcomed the shivering as I did the pain in my feet as I knew as long as I was shivering, hypothermia did not have that strong of a grasp of me and though I was miserable, I was still somewhat safe.
I was scared. I knew no matter what I would probably not die, and somehow they would cart me off the mountain if I collapsed but I did not want to test that theory. Only one other time have I felt as close to death. Less than a mile to go but I had no idea if I could really make it.
The top of the mountain was void of the normal spectators during race day. A frozen wasteland. Two race volunteers grabbed me as I got across the finish line and escorted me indoors and covered me with a dry blanket. I could not stop shivering for about 20 minutes. As soon as I stopped shivering I got out of there to make room for others and proceeded to get myself down the mountain via the shuttle. I shook nearly the whole 20 miles down the road.
Got home made some quick phone calls and got into a very hot shower. I was in shock, the whole experience really got to me. I never wanted to run again, and forget ever doing anything on a mountain at that. Somehow, well, it is me after all, I bounced back really quick after getting home so I boogied to the grocery store and the liquor store as I was actually having a party that night.
My buddy Erich, well he was one of the ones who did not make it above tree line. He came over on his way home. I was so glad to find out that he was safe.
Had a great party and the next day I found myself standing on a bridge with the South Platte River flowing under my feet. The sun was at my back and warm. I was more sore and stiff than I could have imagined but I was alive. I had a full stomach of some great Mexican Food and a few Corona's in me. I was so glad to freaking be vertical. Life is all about contrast...
What a difference a day makes, eh?
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
In "theory" the experience was supposed to go down like this... Train in Colorado, go to sea level, run in some warmer temps in the sunshine and enjoy a break from the winter weather. Take advantage of the "fast and flat" course and lower altitude and get some new PR's. Finally to finish with a time that would potentially indicate a sub 25 hour Leadville 100 finish this coming August... in theory...
One of my FAVORITE quotes of all times from Tom Clancy but I don't know the exact source of it goes like this, "Those whom the gods would destroy they first make proud." Well, I don't think that I went down there with a big head but I will admit to being completely humbled throughout the experience which I guess we all really do need from time to time as well.
Now, the "reality." It rained... to the tune of 2.5 inches on Saturday. I saw more of my shadow at night from moonlight than I did during the day. There was a ton of mud. The course as far as I am concerned isn't that flat. The first couple of loops were really hard to maintain a pace on and I wasn't even going that fast but it was stressful on me. I could not breathe at all. And in the end it pretty much took everything to walk in a finish the last 20 miles. Hell it wasn't until, way into the 2nd loop, close to mile 40 that I was able to actually envision finishing. (I am going to have to write an entirely separate entry on that subject alone... mentally my game was NOT there at all for a lot of reasons as well that need to be looked at. No excuses just things that did come into play and did not work my favor.)
I think the best way to explain the race from here on out is just doing it by loops...
Miles 0 - 20 Loop 1: Right at the start, and I mean right at the start as we were all standing in the torrential downpour of rain there was a loud roll of thunder just as we started. It seemed rather portentous to me as to how the day was going to go. It was raining hard but the trail did not seem too torn up with the mud but we would discover that part where it was really bad about mile 4-5 into the loop. A 100 yard mud bog that only seemed to get worse through the entire race. I made Damnation aid station a little slower than I wanted to be but overall in good shape. I suffered through the rest of the loop back to the start and my split was about right. The only problem is that I was running very slow but it was taking a lot of effort. Even at this point I knew that I was in trouble maybe.
Miles 20-40 Loop 2: Fresh shoes and socks at Dogwood were nice and a huge morale booster. Out for the second loop. Still not feeling great. Still can not breathe. Hit the mud bog again and try to go around it to keep feet relatively dry but only partially succeeded. The rain had stopped for a bit but started again around ten on the second loop and was heavy going across the exposed top of the dam. I wasn't having fun and although I didn't quit, it was during the loop that I considered dropping the most and if the weather had deteriorated even more I just might had. However somewhere in this loop I did get the notion that I could finish so I promised myself that I would keep motoring.
Miles 40-60 Loop 3: Funny enough of all of the loops around that godforsaken, alligator infested swamp of a lake, this was my best loop around. Mentally I felt the best and physically I felt great too. The rain had stopped but my god ,there was mud everywhere. The sun was shining and it was nice knowing that I was going to be 2/3rd's of the way done really soon. My feet were starting to hurt from being wet all of the time as I only got about four miles though each loop with dry feet. Of all of the laps this was probably the best.
Miles 60-80 Loop 4: Now is when the carnage begins. Amy went out with me on this lap and we did well for the most part... no, she did GREAT, I was sucking wind. My feet REALLY began to hurt as well as my ankles and the lower fronts of my shins. In regards to my shins the constant reoccurring thought that I kept having was "spiral fracture" due to the stress on those sections of my legs. It truly felt like my shins had been twisted around almost. Painful. Amy kept me moving but I was not running nearly as much as I would have liked. It just wasn't there. If you know Amy and are EVER at a party with her and you want a good laugh, have her imitate Andy Running... Andy Walking and Andy Having a Gel. Trust me you will DIE laughing. She was wonderful and I am grateful that I got to hang out with a new friend and get to know her more.
Miles 80-100 Loop 5: The death march. Everyone had cautioned about getting stuck between laps 3 and 4 but for me it was between lap 4 and 5 that killed me. I came into the aid station at mile 80 at the same time I would have preferred and somewhat planned to be finishing. Regardless I was NOT going to quit at 80. I could not run anymore, period. The blisters were too bad, and my legs just would not "fire." Melissa left with me and I figured that she would have just done the first 3 or so with me then came back but no... she was dead determined to gut out the full 20 miles with me. And she did. Melissa has always been an awesome asset always crewing me in these races but she has never been on the course and seen the damage first hand out there... the zombies, or the "dead and dying" as I like to call them. In this instance though I was one of the "dead and dying" myself.
The last 20 miles sucked more than anything that I have ever experienced or at least remember. But we had a blast out there and though the last lap took me longer than the first 50 miles did I would not trade it for the world. Melissa got to see up close and personal the strain and she even got to feel it herself, even to the pressure of the final cut off. But we laughed and laughed and laughed so much that a couple of times she would be sitting in the road because she was laughing so hard. I told her that finishing it together the way that we did was just such a great testament to the quality of our relationship because out there we had to help each other. We laughed and we made the most of it. But it is a shared experience that can never be taken away and that, in and of itself made every painful aching step worth it.
The reality did not play out as hoped. Shit happens. In the end there were so many more positive take-aways from this race and lessons learned that it was all worth it. I didn't get the time that I wanted or have the race of my life that I wanted but that is okay as well. I know that I still have the potential and the capacity to do WAY better in a 100 miler and I still plan to do just that. It just won't be in Texas, trust me on that one!
Monday, February 6, 2012
It rained a lot.
I ran a 100 mile race.
It was muddy.
Seriously, I will write more about this later as I still need to process a few things. Obviously this race did not unfold as I had wished for many reasons but all in all it was a great time and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
Congratulations to Brooks for his 4th place overall finish and Mark and Dan both for finishing with great times as well!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
I was lucky enough to grab a piece of her essay that she attached to all of her college applications. Flattered doesn't even begin to describe the feeling. I am very proud of her and I do hope that she has learned from me... from both my successes and failures.
Twenty- nine hours, thirty- four minutes and ten seconds. That is how long it can take a runner to cross the finish line for the “Leadville 100” Mountain Race. To be more specific that is how long it took my father to finish his first “Leadville 100”, something that had taken him 3 years of training to accomplish after dreaming of it for nearly 20 years. Witnessing all of his determination and hard work is something that has changed the way I set and attain my goals and how hard I am willing to fight for them.
Growing up, I inadvertently became a running groupie; going to races, talking about training schedules, and even accompanying him on runs on my bike or on foot. Running has always been there. In 2007 my dad decided to run the Pike Peak Ascent (13.1 miles) and the Pikes Peak Marathon (26.2 miles) back-to-back; notoriously known as the “Double”. At the time I thought it was simply an impressive endeavor in order for him to have the title under his belt. Little did I know he had a significantly more ambitious plot in mind; to be able to train as an ultra- runner.
As a thirteen-year old versed in the running community as far as 5ks, 10ks, half marathons, and marathons the idea of a human being running a whole 26.2 miles was impressive, 50 miles was crazy, and 100 miles was impossible. How quickly things can change. By my freshman year of high school in 2008, I came to understand that to become an ultra-runner 5ks and 10ks were run on days when the runner doesn’t need to run but needs something to do; half marathons were run at least twice a week as an easier run to build up speed and strength; and marathons were run on the weekends to build up endurance and rigor. Within a year of converted training goals the mindset of a runner and their family turns into, “I am leaving now to go on my thirty-mile run!” “Okay! See you in a few hours!” without hesitation.
Granted, thirty miles is a lot of distance, especially on ones feet, but to ultra- runners who constantly push themselves, if they can do it by all means DO IT. They often take up the mailman motto “Neither snow nor rain, nor heat nor gloom of night, stays these runners from the swift completion of their appointed training rounds.” I, for one, have seen this and have been dragged along for the ride to merely keep my dad company on his wild quest in the sun, in the rain, and, yes, in the snow. But the one weather challenge that can really set a runner back is the wind; whenever wind comes to play the runners are not there to stay. Many will argue that they put a whole new meaning to the saying, “cursing at the wind.” But even through the wind I have seen how if I set my thoughts to a goal and consistently work in order to attain that goal than I should have no problems getting there, whether it is sports, school, work, or personal ambitions.
By the time August of 2009 had come around my father was ready to take on his first Leadville 100 Mountain Race. After running two 50-mile races earlier in the year and completing rigorous training he thought that he was ready to do it; pacer-less, crew-less, and even a little clueless to what lay ahead. That year he DNFed (Did Not Finish) before he could even make it to the halfway point, blowing out his knee coming down a steep mountain pass known as Hope Pass. After a rough year of doubts and second guesses he still managed to continue training for another one- hundred mile race, pushing through what he needed in order to cross the finish line. That August he was back with a vengeance; a crew to help him through, a pacer to push him the final fifty miles, and an intimate knowledge of the course waiting for him. Being able to watch him and his attitudes at the aid stations reinforced that notion of setting sights and accomplishing goals. That year he finished the race with 26 minutes to spare with the time of 29:34:10. To prove the legitimacy of this race he decided to run another 100 mile race in 2011, but because of work conflicts he was unable to run the race he signed up for. Instead, he ran the Leadville 100 once again, on a whim, signing up four days before the race after having had an 84-mile training week the week prior. In spite of the last minute entry and a heavy training week he still managed to cut off and hour and a half from his previous years’ time and finished in 27:59:11. A little bit crazy, but definitely inspiring for me to go out and get what I want through hard work and determination.