Sunday, December 24, 2017

Adrenaline Junkies....

I get it, the bigger the better. Its the way of our culture. If one is good, then 20 must be mind blowing...
In my athletic experience, 5k's are the gateway to the 10k, and then your finding yourself signing up for that half marathon... Sprint Triathlon to 70.3 Half Ironman... I don't think I'm alone with these thoughts, but I also know that others may not relate.
2008 at Tempe Town Lake
I've been there- done that- all the way through the Ironman to the 100 mile run... but where does it end? When will it all be enough?
If its not the distance, its a Personal Best. Speed and distance are interchangeable for me, for these "Natural Progressions". As options continue to grow in race distances, so do I in the desire to try and race faster than my previous PB. I often drift off in thought of how awesome a 3 hour marathon finish would be and of completing some of the worlds toughest endurance foot races... Boston in 2019, the Badwater 135, oooh...and the Moab 240...But would those be enough? Could I just mic drop and walk off?
2010 in Winfield
I get a huge sense of accomplishment from these event, and even more so the harder or tougher they are. Ironman was a 5 year plan for me. I raced my first Sprint Triathlon in 2001 and realized my dreams of an Ironman were possible at that awards lunch. "Anything Is Possible" is the Ironman mantra for a reason... But soon after these events I find myself still looking, still searching. That sense of completion and accomplishment doesn't end there, it leaves me wanting more.  But more of what?
This past summer, as I was completing one of the tougher events I've done, I found myself daydreaming of even tougher longer events. As I brought my mind back to the present moment, it got me thinking that I may never answer this question. This process will be as long as it needs to be to see the end.
I was recently asked what my best race is. My thought out answer is that my best race is in front of me. It hasn't happened yet. My best might be my next half marathon or 50 miler, or another one of my bucket list adventures.  When it happens, that best race is only a short lived moment as I will shoot for something even better, faster, farther...
It's that dangly carrot that I continue to chase...

The constant pursuit... 

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Onward and Upwards...

 * Updated 5.15.18*
It's been 18 months of sobriety and so much good has come from it! When I think about my drinking, I can't recall any good that had come from it... a couple fun times but mostly pain and struggles. This story below was the breaking point for me. I had known that I needed to change, but was waiting for a moment, an event to define the need for action. Boy did I get lucky.

A year...
December 9th, 2016
...sometimes it feels like yesterday and a lifetime ago, both wrapped up in the same moment.

That night started like many of the nights before it. Dinner with the family in town, and drinks. Back to the house, and a few more drinks. I ride my bike to the neighbors, and drink more....
...and then its blank...

That's the routine. Sometimes a bit different, maybe the bar, or a party of sorts, some type of gathering, anything really. It wasn't that I needed a reason, I could find one.
...this time was different though...
This time I crash my bike and I'm hurt badly.
This time I need surgery to fix my drinking problem.
This time my face looks so bad that my girls are afraid of me.
This time somethings gotta change....

They say that hind sight is 20-20 and if I'm being truthful with myself, my drinking was out of control. It's hard to see clearly in the middle of the storm. This particular moment wasn't the first sign, but the straw...
I feel fortunate that this was my outcome, that I didn't hurt anyone else, physically. Like many of us, I have many more flaws to work through.Without alcohol to hide behind, its much easier to get moving in the right direction.
Sometimes you get an opportunity to look at a failure as a time to grow. This is that for me.

I tell people now that I broke my face, and quite literally I did. I broke a bad habit too...

Me and my Girls- post surgery

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


I had an idea about this post. I had some notes written down. I was going to fill it with boring stuff for most of you...excuses of my DidNotFinish at Run Rabbit Run 100...finishing Chicago's Marathon...end of season racing plans...and my hopes and dreams of next years season. Even as I read what I just wrote, it sounds boring...vanilla.

This past weekend, I witnessed something purely amazing. The inaugural Moab 240 mile endurance run. That's not a misprint- 240 MILES, they rounded up from the actual mileage of 238.3 miles. I volunteered myself to pace a new friend who was attempting to complete the triple crown of 200+ mile events, this being the last in the trifecta. I wanted to see it for myself and only a few hours drive away, why not!
What a privilege it was.
The perseverance of achieving such a feet was incredible to witness. These athletes' heart, strength, and determination is immeasurable and contagious. They show the pure essence of limitless and how the mind is our only barrier. Beyond words...
Mike did amazing finishing third at the event and winning the triple crown! Congrats!!

The Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii was this past Saturday as well. This race has so much history. Canadian Lionel Sanders was second overall as well as owning the second fastest bike split on that course. He was passes at mile 23 of the marathon, less that 5k from winning the World Championship. In his race recap, he says it only motivates him to do more...What a humble competitor.
German Jan Frodeno was the favorite to win as the two time defending champ wearing race number 1. It wasn't his day. He stopped and walked a bit of the run dealing with hamstring/lower back pains. He didn't quit though. He persevered through to finish. Even in discomfort and the loss of glory, he managed to honor himself and all the competitors by going on.

I can only hope to learn from these experiences. I can hope to use my experiences as motivation. I can hope to persevere through.  I can hope that my mind can take my body, when my body hesitates.

Lionel Sanders:
"From my experience, it appears that there are no limits, other than the self-created and imposed ones that only exist in your mind."

Thursday, August 31, 2017

...And Miles To Go Before I Sleep.

This has been one helluva season of racing and training. My running has brought me to all sorts of new places as well as revisiting some old stomping grounds. 

Maroon Bells "road" run in winter
In January, I began a challenge of running everyday for the month. It's design was to get a quick bit of fitness to pace a friend at Rocky Raccoon 100. I did my challenge and then ran 87 consecutive days after totaling 118 days and 709 miles. 
February brought me to that pacing gig - didn't pan out for my friend and I was only able to get a ten miler in at Huntsville State Park. It's always nice to wear shorts and a tank in February though!

April 1st Thomas and I knocked out the Zion Traverse. That has been a long standing bucket list run. Read my post about it here
Angels Landing Zion
June brought with it the Ragnar Trail Relay in Snowmass Village. Racing on a team of family, and new and old friends was exciting.Our non-competitive team was 8th overall! A few weeks later I raced the Desert RATS Kokopelli 150 stage race. This was another bucket list route (failed miserably twice on single push bike attempts). What an awesome experience! I met so many new friends and pushed myself to new limits. Another post about this week can be found here.

Kokopelli Trail
In July, I got a taste of "wild and tough". I had planned to pace a friend at the Hardrock 100. Again, that didn't pan out. I did manage to volunteer for trail clean up and thoroughly enjoyed some new friends and checking out all the hype of Hardrock. It did not disappoint. I am hooked and will be back to volunteer until I can get in. I summit-ed  my local Mt. Sopris as well as ran up to Sunlight Ski Resort and did two laps of the 4 Pass Loop, all on the regular circuit for local trail running.

Last Pass of the 4 Pass Loop
Island Lake
August brought on the Leadville Trail 100. This race is what started it all for me as an ultra runner. I did not get to toe the line this time. My role was crew and pacer, and again, my runner didn't make it...I did enjoy the racer meeting and camping with my newly engaged friends and watching the race from the role of crew. I did two scouting missions to Steamboat Springs, running on some new to me trails and exploring.  I also made an attempt at the Ten Mile Traverse, running the ridge of peaks 1-10 from Frisco to Breckenridge. I only got peaks 1-8...It will stay on the bucket list...

Ten Mile Traverse

As I reflect back on my year in running, I can't help but to be grateful for all the places it has taken me. In the next few days I will be toeing the line for the Run Rabbit Run 100 in Steamboat Springs, Co. Its a big deal to me. I have put in a lot of work for this. It will be the culmination of an entire training season, 9+ months. It is not the end though. It's just another stepping stone in the journey.... 

...and miles to go...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Desert RATS Stage Race-Recap

My feet are raw, really raw. Specifically my heals. I have hardened callus skin on most of my toes. Basically dried out blisters. I am sure I will lose two of the toe nails. My calf is tight, the right one. My left is much worse. My quads are literally peeling, sunburnt. My shoulders too. I'm driving eastbound. I was in this same spot a week ago, but westbound. I can see sections of the course. I have a much greater respect for the trail seven days later.

Seven days before.
Strawberry Shortcut 10k
I awake and slip out the door without disturbing any of the relatives visiting for the annual Strawberry Days Festival. With coffee in hand I drive to town for the locals foot race. This year will be a little different as I have a new team kit to sport. I'm in town for the annual 10k  foot race. A little locals race of about 100 athletes. I heard a rumor of a new course and that was true. Pretty standard meet and greet around the makeshift start line and then we're off! I accomplish my goals, but my mind is already wandering..., wondering..., with anticipation... for the week to come...
start at Loma

Six days before.
Stage 1- Salt Creek
This stage was pretty familiar for me as I have trained and raced on the first 12 miles of this 19 mile stage. Mary's, Lions loop, Troy built, all really flow-y single track fun. Crossing the Salt creek on the pedestrian bridge to the finish was all new terrain for me. I floated in the creek to cool the core temp and it was really helpful. The climb out of  Salt Creek was obnoxious. I was pleased to see the aid station at the crown and the two track road to the finish of the stage.

Five days prior
Stage 2-
"If pain is weakness leaving the body, then this can only make me stronger."
The days mantra for me was pivotal in the work being done. Two-track roads and some pavement sections were in order for the 38 mile stage. This day proved to be the warmest of the week. I struggled in the heat and was unsure if it was actually hot, or if my issues were with the cumulative miles of three days of consecutive racing. John confirmed for me that it was indeed hot! I owned my mantra through my rough times and worked them out. I thought about our soldiers who have braved warmer climates with much more than some silly stage race on the line. My day was successful, but many others did not have the same results. Our incredible medical team had recorded temps of 121 degrees on the pavement. I kept a steady constant pace as best as possible but the third day of racing was taking its toll. We all eventually made it back to camp safe and tired. I heard stories of great teamwork, camaraderie, and looking out for each other. They all played into the days events. This ultra community is simply amazing.

Four days earlier
Stage 3- Sprint stage
This is the shortest of the stages at 9 miles. No one, including myself, wanted to sprint. We all took the short stage to recover and just survive to day 4. The route has spectacular views of the Colorado River and had a little more climbing than I would have expected, but still less than 1,000 ft. After the few hours of running, we all enjoyed the river at Dewey Bridge. The participants were relaxed and the work crew was flawless, like a well oiled machine. The sites and sounds made me think of a traveling circus, a good one, if there is such a thing. We were becoming a tribe.

Three days ago
Stage 4- Expedition Stage
"It's going to be OK."
This stage was the pinnacle of the week. The 7,750 ft of gain over the 42 miles was enough to get my attention. I carried extra water, lights, as well as a shell... you never know... This was my day. The best day I was to have on the trail. I stuck to my nutrition plan and actually enjoyed the run. This section was the most scenic of all the days, and it did not disappoint. A grey fox was spotted playing on the rocks near the start and that was the just the beginning. It got hot, but I kept my cool about me. When the course topped out at 8300 ft. I had a bit of a break down, a good one. I enjoyed the view.I thought about the opportunities that I have been given and that I have created for myself. I thought about my family and my friends sending all those positive vibes from afar. I enjoyed the open trail and one of my favorite albums, singing most of the way down. I did fry my quads pretty good and needed to walk backwards down Castle Valley Boulevard in the steepest of descends.

Two days prior
Rest day
Ahhh, the well needed, well deserved rest day. AKA, the calorie and hydration game!! It was an amazing day of relaxing on Sandy beach and eating, and eating... It was nice to be able to clean up and take care of our bodies. A hidden waterfall off camp was so nice and refreshing.

Stage 5- The Marathon
" I am the only one who can bring me down. No one else has that power"
I was able to do my homework for this stage on the rest day. It starts out with a 10k climb before falling to the finish 20 miles later. There is an out and back section on the famous Porcupine Rim Trail that climbs 750 ft in the 2.5 miles. Pick up your stone and return to the aid station and then your home free- sounds simple-ish, right? Nothing ever is...
Destroyed myself on the climb, because..., that's my thing. I like to climb. I wanted to cruise the down and get 'er done, but I had a feeling about the stone. Man, was I right. Upon my arrival, my stone seamed out of place, larger you might say than the others. I didn't hesitate. I didn't think twice. I accepted the challenge and moved on, moved through it. " No one but me..." I owned that stone.

Its MY rock!!

After leaving my rock at the aid station, there was only a rolling descend to the Slick Rock parking lot. That 10k was bittersweet. I thought about the week, these people, this tribe. I thought about how I didn't want it to end, the circus. I thought about the challenges we all accepted to push ourselves, push our comfort levels. I thought about my own journey to this moment. I thought about my girls at the finish, waiting for me. I put on my music and start to sing...

My feet are raw, really raw. Specifically my heals. I have hardened callus skin on most of my toes. I roll the windows down and find my album. I think about my girls. I put on my music and start to sing...

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

#91 and the Zion Traverse

Zion Traverse

The Day Before...
Its raining. The wipers are on full speed. I'm not the kind of guy who overly uses the wipers in any car- so that's not the issue. It is wind and rain just at the slushy hail like state, and its coming down hard in this stretch of Utah. Just a few hours ago, Thomas and I were running around in what we thought was rattlesnake canyon...turned out to be devils canyon at the western edge of Colorado. We got a little "lost" so we down climbed to another trail to make it back to the car to continue on with the plan. And the plan...Zion Traverse. Tomorrow. East to West. 48 miles.
We drive and it rains, and rains, ....and rains. We try sleeping in our cars at the Lee Pass trail-head and it rains, and rains... I cant help but think that this is a lost trip- that we will eek out a ten miler on some overly populated trail and call it good.

Morning Start- Isn't promising...

Morning! Off to a good start!
We get moving just after 6am, after driving one of our cars to the East Rim trail-head on the other side of the park. Last nights rain has subsided to thick fog and dampens the sandy sections. We'll take it. We cruise the first climb easily and then begin the quick decent into the lowest point of the course, The Lodge. Just before the Lodge we turn up the switched path of Angels Landing. We are in the thick of tourists and it doesn't feel much like the epic trail run I had dreamt of. Thomas sets into a ridiculously quick pace and is chatting with the tourists in passing.
I'm out of my comfort zone.
The pace is to quick for me.
There are too many tourists.
A guy from Canadia slows Thomas down with conversation and I am able to rejoin them near the saddle.Wow. The saddle is filled with more... I cant muster up the mental fortitude to deal with all these tourists on the narrow trail to the top of Angels Landing- Its not really part of the trail anyway. We carry on the West Rim Trail.

Darla is awesome! Who's Darla you ask? Darla is my RunGo app! Its an app I was just introduced to through researching route info for this trip. The app does turn by turn voice directions for predetermined routes. The voice is the standard electronic voice of a female, Thomas and I started referring to her as "Darla".  She was spot on- didn't miss a turn. Darla prompted us before a turn and then again at the turn. After three or four directions from Darla, we were so confident in her ability to lead us that we even put the map away. She told us when we went off trail, we took the East rim trail as apposed to telephone canyon due to snow. Darla is extra special. She can download a route to your device and be used when off grid. My phone was in airplane mode the entire run, and Darla lead the way. The app was free, but I did upgrade $2 for the month to be able to download routes for offline use. Get this app. Use Darla. "Darla, your a darling"

After Angels landing we got to the meat and potatoes of the trail- no more tourists, no more man made paths... just the trail and.. mud, snowy muddy trails. I regain my pace and my composure and return to enjoying the adventure. Luckily the trail has some amazing views to get us through these obnoxiously muddy sections. After I return home I recount the stories for my mother and describe the mud. She remembers and shares my childhood tribulations with mud. I played outside in the dirt more often than not, and mud never bothered me then. Great reminders!

Rim Views ...For Days!

The rest of the day we maybe saw 10-15 other trail users. Two in particular were a couple from Seattle. We crossed paths at the halfway mark. They were on a four day backpacking trip to see this great park. They insisted that we take some of their water as they were going to fill up in the next half mile which saved us from the out and back of Saw Mill Springs. They are retired and out in the middle of nowhere enjoy each others company. My thoughts drifted to aspiring to be like them, no formal plans, no timeline, just taking it all in. They lift my spirits. What a cool lifestyle.

With our route change, we were unsure if the mileage would be the same and started second guessing how far the end was. As the sun was near the horizon, Darla spoke up "You are 1 mile from the finish". With that added relief I snapped off a last picture. My legs were heavy and my body tired. I was hungry and muddy. At this point, I couldn't help but think of how long this trip had taken to put into action, how long this epic run has been on my bucket list, how many plans were made that fell through to not get this done earlier...
...In that last mile, I am full.

During the drive home I start the process again, ...what is next.