Sunday, October 16, 2016

Grindstone 100 2016 Race Recap

GRINDSTONE 100 2016 Recap

Course Profile
Oh where to being describing Grindstone100. This was my last big race of the year and my “A” race. Everything sort of lead up to this 23,000ft of elevation gain, mountain run in Virginia. I picked this race for a few reasons:

#1 - It was close to my brother's house so he could crew. He was crewing at Blackhills 2015 with me, so I wanted him to see the opposite of a pissing blood, DNF 100-mile experience.
#2 - It is a Hardrock and Western States qualifier.
#3 - To see where I was at and if I was capable of conquering one of the big Mountain Ultra's

The 2 weeks leading up to GS were full of stress, poor sleep and everything you don’t want to happen before the hardest endeavor of your life. We bought a house, so yea that was super exciting, until 3-4 days before we were to leave for GS the sale fell through. Our house still sold so we still needed to be out of our house by the 7th. Suzi and I worked our butts off to get everything we owned in storage units all across town. We spent the last few nights before I left for the race with her on a little mattress and me sleeping in an inflatable canoe in a big empty house thinking how in the world is this all going to come together.

Thursday morning, I woke up in my inflatable canoe and got myself ready out of a suitcase we'd been living out of these last few days. I took my truck to my friend's Mike's house the night before because when I got back to Nebraska we would not have a house anymore. I grabbed my race bag, which was frantically thrown together in the middle of packing the house up and headed to Lincoln to pick up my Crew Chief, also known as my Mom. We quickly headed to Omaha and met Crystal (ultra-awesome-pacer) and soon we were flying to Washington DC. We landed Thursday afternoon and made it to my brother's house for all kinds of awesome food. I ate a good dinner and headed to bed with an early morning wakeup call so I could still sleep some on Friday.

With the Friday 6PM start, my plan was to wake early Friday, get to the race headquarters and then sleep most the afternoon away. I executed that plan for the most part, my mid-day sleep was broken up by lunch, but I was able to get back to sleep after that. I probably got 3-4 hours that afternoon. I woke up at around 4 and had a few hours until race start to run through stuff w/Crystal.

It had rained most the day Friday and we knew going in it was going to be a cold wet run. Hurricane Matthew had made the forecast for the next 24 hours mostly filled with rain as well. Luckily this didn’t turn out to be too big of a variable to overcome. I'd say the worst the rain did was cause some slower more cautious miles for me on the trails. Being my first time on these trails and the dense fog picking up my headlamp light, making it not illuminate the rock, I was slowed down through most the overnight hours. Here are some of the most memorable thoughts of the first 20 miles Friday evening:
"How are these people running this fast on these rocks?"
"Are all 100 miles going to be like these first 20?"
“Do these climbs ever end?”

I saw my crew for the first time at mile 20 Aid Station. The climbs weren't actually as bad as I was expecting. They were long... very very long, sometimes climbing up for 7 miles but the grade wasn't steep enough to make me breathe harder than I wanted to or cause my heart rate to get to high. I took each climb throughout all 100 miles with a solid mindset and effort but careful to not overdo it.

I left that aid station around 11PM and would see them again around 3AM at mile 37.
The next 17 miles included a few more big climbs, but the trail got less rock-filled and slowly became more packed dirt that I could run well on. My Nike Pegasus shoe choice was actually still holding well, I didn’t have any feet pain and was able to start cruising through miles again. I picked up quite a bit of time on this section as I listened to a couple different books on tape. Arriving at around 2:30AM I beat the crew to mile 37 and got some pancakes and other food in a baggie and started the big climb out of this AS.

I felt good entering this station and good leaving. That quickly went away on this 7 mile-3000+ ft climb up. This was my "low" of the race. It wasn't a low that slowed me down a great deal but I was soaking wet, cold and climbing climbing climbing. Every 10 minutes it got colder, rained harder, and got muddier. This climb seemed to last forever. I had no one to chat with and I just had to find that inner strength to keep pushing and not let it slow me down.

My initial plan when I broke down Grindstone on paper was to be at the turn around (mile 50) at 6AM, 12 hours after starting. The fog had probably cost me 1/2 an hour on that first 25 and then this muddy, slick trail had cost me at least another 1/2 an hour. I got to Crystal and my crew at the turn around at 7AM and was really excited to see them. My brother asked me here how I was feeling and I was said “surprisingly really well, I had 1 low and it didn’t last too long and I’ve ran ever since”

There aren't many people in the world who can make you excited about running 50 more miles up and down mountains in the cold rain, but heading back out with Crystal was all I wanted to do at this point. We made good time through the first miles of daylight on this section. We were running most the hills to try and keep our body temp up. This worked well at that and also helped us get through quite a few miles quickly. We had some good chats and before I knew it we were at mile 63 and crew again. I ate some soup and drank some pop here. I stuck to my plan of only water and pop all day long, removing any sugary electrolyte drinks from my plan. I was taking hammer electrolyte pills and those seemed to help me be able to eat a lot of real food every chance I got.

I left mile 63 solo with the plan of picking up Crystal again at mile 80. This actually worked well for both of us. She got to get some stomach stuff taken care of and I got to try and fly to a 3-hour goal of the next 17 miles. In these mountains with the trails how they were that was a tough goal but I was excited to try and hit it. I was in and out of the 1 AS in between and I hit mile 80 in 2 minutes under 3 hours from leaving mile 63.

The crew was there at 80 and I took some time to re-fuel and get ready for the last 20. I knew from the outbound trip that these 20 were going to be the toughest miles of the entire day. These last miles with Crystal had us climbing up those really long climbs again, which seemed twice as long as before. On the big long climbs up we had fun singing and taking karaoke requests from other runners.  I was still able to run all the downhills, that lasted all the way to the finish. My quads felt fine coming down even the steepest of hills. The last one down the road was steep but we were flying because we were so happy to have made our final summit in the cold rain.

Around mile 90 we had to cross 4 or 5 creek crossing that had filled with water. These were dry on the way out but on the way back with tired legs I kept miss-stepping and getting more soaked. After that we had a few head down, focus on the rocks, trail headlamp, not so fun miles here. We got through them but they were a total grind. Just then this huge branch came crashing down from the top of a tree. I looked over at Crystal and was like "just a branch". We stayed focused and strong and made it to mile 95 Aid Station so happy to see humans and coffee. I had some serious chaffing struggles the last 10 miles of the race, I’ll spare you the gross details but it was making every step super painful.

I spent the last 5 miles really reminiscing on the entire day. I probably could of ran these better or stronger but I felt like doing whatever I wanted for those 5 miles and that I had earned that right throughout the day so I hiked a good section of these 5 miles and thought about what an amazing day it had been. I finished in 27 hours and some change, honestly I haven't even looked at what my time was. I am just simply satisfied in this finish on that day.

It was tough.
It was fun.

It was what I paid for.
What I trained for.
What I came for.

Thank you VA, Clark & the volunteers for what will be a 100 I will always remember.

Happy Trails and stay dry.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Taco Mile

The "Beer Mile" parody..."Taco Mile" was brutal stuff. Not sure if it was the nachos before hand or the hard shell choice that added to the difficulty.

Right away in bite 2 of taco 1 I had some hard shell in my throat that kept making me cough throughout. Taco 3 and Taco 4 were tough to get down.

Finished in 8:05 missing my initial goal of 8:00. I simply didn't want to run too fast to get back to having to eat another taco. I told K before hand, the worst that is going to happen is I could get so sick I hate tacos forever. She said well the worst is you could possibly choke and die...2 of the same kiddo, 2 of the same. Here is a little video collection of "Taco Mile 2016"

Lap 3 of Taco Mile 
Finish Thoughts

Monday, July 25, 2016

Psycho Psummer 50K Run

Psycho Psummer 50K Run 

Yes this was my pre-race dinner
If I'm not saying "Hell Yes!" to something, then I"m probably going to say "No”. I had no intentions of doing this PyscoPsummer50K race until about 2 weeks before it. I went to a gathering at Lincoln Running Company where the local greats were speaking about Western States. I was talking to Kaci after the talk and we starting chatting about this race. Instantly I could tell how much she loved the trails and this entire event and I knew it was one of those races that I did not want to miss out on. So I went with a "Hell Yes" and signed up a few days later. Suzi and I packed up and headed east with the dogs after work on Friday. We dropped dogs off with my parents & then then headed down to Kansas City. I grabbed some waffles with butter, syrup and fried chicken strips on top to load up the calories before tomorrow's sweat fest.

And yes my 50k was
fueled by this donut.
After getting to the hotel around midnight; race morning came pretty quickly. It’s never hard for me to get out of bed before a race though. I had a donut and some pre-race coffee and made my way to Wyandotte Lake. I had about an hour to kill before the race started and just tried to stay loose and keep my energy up. With my BQ attempt at the Nebraska State Fair marathon coming up in 4 weeks my plan for this race was to go out and simulate marathon effort for at least the first 26 miles. I wanted to simulate that race day effort and hopefully gain some confidence from being able to do that. There is no way for me, in a solo training run to go out and have a 5 hour, marathon effort run. This is why I mix races like this into my training plan for that added value come race day. Has it backfired before? Yes, maybe once or twice I've overdone it too close to race day, but I'm more careful and knowledgeable of that now.

entering the trails with 2 of the best
Soon it was 8am and warming up outside and I was ready to get in the trees and some shade. I started into the trails with Kaci and Jeremey for the first little bit then they were off. The first few miles of each 10-mile loop was real rocky with some good climbs. I immediately had that feeling of "Yesssssss…this is my element.” The 360 degrees of trees and a little rocky trail winding through them occasionally opening up to views of the lake. The first few miles had me jumping over logs and off rocks and making my way down rocky descents. I came into each aid station on this first loop with tons of energy. I was drinking only water; no electrolyte drinks this time around for me. I have recently switched to this new formula to help with some gut issues of late. What I am doing now is a combination of Hammer Electrolyte pills (2 per 90 minutes) and sprays of BFIT Rapid Electrolyte Spray. All throughout the day the spray seemed to give me the electrolytes needed. I was sweating non-stop in the over 100-degree heat so getting this stuff back in my body was crucial. I had a fun first loop and came through 10.3 miles at 1:30 and I can say my effort on that loop was equal too BQ marathon effort.
Lots of these throughout the day

I quickly headed back out to my 2nd loop at 9:30AM as it was starting to get hot. These first few miles seemed tougher this time around. More elevation and more rocks to deal with this. I knew from my first lap though if you get through these first 3 miles, miles 3 through 8 are some absolutely wonderful running trail. It winds and switches back many times through the trees. It was easy to be completely in a rhythm in this part and just get lost in my own head. I had my Orange Mud handheld bottle with water in it and I would take a drink and dap some on my shoulders and a bit on my face through the entire day. I found out around mile 13 that the only one in front of me was Kaci, this was information that would be repeated to me through the day.
in my element here
one of the climbs at the end of each loop

I understood that but kept trying to fight off the thoughts about leading the men’s part of the race and just be myself because it was still so early. The last 3.5 miles of each loop began with the "Mud Babes" aid station. This was the Oasis of the entire run. I rolled into here hot as can be, as I had been most all the day and saw a sprinkler and made a line straight for it. Drenched my head and hat. Carol continued her ultra-aid-station magic and hooked me up with this towel that they must have got from heaven. Ice cold on my shoulders felt so perfect at that moment. I put more ice in my hat and cooled my temp down here really good. I tried not to stay too long but it was so nice. After this one the next one is quick and then a few big climbs before the loop ends. I feel like I did these climbs good and got to the start/finish in good spirits with a 1:45 minute lap brining me through lap 2 in 3:15 and holding strong. I got 2 of my electrolyte pills here, a little fruit and some more ice and water. Big thank you to Jodi and Suzi as I headed out of here with 1 loop to go feeling pretty good. I was 20 miles through and felt like effort was still on marathon level.
Towards the end of each loop

Lap 3 quickly had me climbing up those first few hills and rocks. It felt harder each time. The descents started bringing out some old ligament pain in my right ankle. Nothing too alarming but annoying as it was using my energy focusing on it. Every A.S. That came and went I did not do a good job of getting what I needed and cooling down. I needed to eat something with some calories, gel or something solid but I kept not doing it. This would end up catching up with me. I was getting more drained by the mile and finding it harder to stay positive. I hit that most runnable section but was fading. I was trying to hold effort but could feel that I was getting slower. My effort felt on point but my miles had dropped over a minute from these same miles on loop 1. I'd been taking punches from the heat all day and it was starting to take its toll on me.

Mud Babes Aid Station!
I finally got to that "Mud Babes" aid station and was so happy to see Carol and that the sprinkler was still on. I immediately ran to it and she ran over and helped me get cooled down, I was about to start back out and immediately turned back and sat down because I got a bit dizzy. I took about a minute or 2 here and the new leader Tim had come in and gave me some encouraging words. That was enough to get me up and back out there. Shortly after here I saw Miguel as well. It was very nice to see him looking strong through these miles. He's a runner with tons of experience and ability and he had some words to help get my mind back in the right place. After he was out of sight I just set my sights on toughening it out from here to the finish for that 3rd male spot. The last 3 miles were tough, lots of trying to talk myself into finding the strength. Lots of shutting up the voices that were trying to discourage me about losing the lead so late in the race and not having been stronger. I spent lots of time working through these type of things in my head. But all experience is good experience, I've grown to know that and learn that each time you are out here dealing with new things you are getting better. There are no bad races or bad days, there is only learning and growing. This was not a bad race though, this was me going out at marathon effort in 100-degree heat index and seeing how long I could hold my body there. Looking back, I'm very please I could hold it as long as I did. I was telling myself in this section to just find that rhythm that I could run in and not need to take a break and walk. Find that rhythm. Find that rhythm. I finally got into it with about 1.5 miles to go. I got the last few tough hills done and could start hearing the music from the finish area party with about a half a mile left. I dialed it in now and pushed to the finish line. I finished lap 3 in 2 hours and 9 minutes. 7 minutes behind the male winner and many minutes behind the amazing Kaci.
Finishing it up

I was happy to be done. I was happy to have come in 3rd male and 4th overall in a pretty big field of runners. I was happy to immediately been greeted by the GOATZ running group at the finish line. I was happy Kaci congratulated me and talked about how great of a run I had. I was happy there was ice water and a hose to cool off under. But most off I was happy I was here, at the finish area. This is my favorite part; connecting with the fellow runners that went on for the next couple of hours as we saw so many running friends come in and met so many new people that had finished up distances from 10 to 31 miles. Some first time ever racing to people who had raced for decades, this gathering is like no other. Connecting and appreciating likeminded people is what it’s all about. Sharing our stories from the ups and downs of the day. This is why I can continue to easily say "Hell Yes!”

These feels

Thank you to all those who were out there cheering, volunteering and running. What a fun day!

Happy trails!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Black Hills 100

Black hills 100 recap

Kiera eating Mountain House & me happy in my element. No nerves at the start.

I had one main goal going into Black Hills 100, to enjoy most all of time out there. See I have a tendency to race hard, whether it's marathon, 50K, 50 miler or even 100 my nature is to race hard, which in many cases can result in some tough miles. I decided long before this 100 that I was going to enjoy 95% of the time on the trails or I was not going to do 100's anymore. I told myself if you can't figure out how to have fun out there, you aren't doing this anymore. I started running 100's mainly because of my love of being on trails. An opportunity to be on trails with my type of people for multiple hours pushing my body to do amazing things is what I think about when I think about why I run 100s.

We were one of the first vehicles to pull up into the start area on Friday morning. A 10:00 am start allowed for plenty of time to chill and make sure I had everything ready. I learned something I knew about myself but I always seem to forget. When I'm preparing for a 100 miler I think i need so much more than I actually do. I had my Orange Mud Double Barrel pack loaded up with so many items it seemed like a backpack that morning. I took 2 or 3 items out there in the parking lot trying to lighten the load. I still had a bunch of Clif bar pouches and gels and such & all my water.
Fellow OM Ambassador, Chad.

As the place started buzzing with more and more 100 milers rolling in Crystal, Kiera, my Mom & I all chilled in the grass waiting for it to get closer to 10:00 AM. I had the pleasure of meeting Chad here and got to chat with him about our strategies to combat the heat & how our training had been. I also had some good conversations with one of Black Hills 50 most consistent entrants Lori. She was the only other Nebraskan registered this year that I knew.
Chatting about Western States

Soon it was 10 & we were off down a bike path to get out of town, I tried to shuffle my way to about the middle of the pack to give myself many opportunities for connection and trail vibes out there. Last year I had a big head coming into this race and went into the hills in the top 10 percent and was alone most of the run, I changed that up this year and it made such a difference. Early miles were mostly filled with chatting with other ultra-runners about Western States & making our predictions. I spent a good chunk of these first 5 miles running with Chad. We had some good chats and made our way to the first aid station. I felt like I hit that first aid station really conservative and felt absolutely great. I filled my water bottles up here at Alkali Creek and gave Kiera a high five and made my way back into the woods.

She gives me so much motivation.

I slowly ran the first mile or 2 here hoping to see Chad come up behind me but I didn’t so I kept rolling. This trail was some of my favorite single track. There were tall skinny pines all around in grass like fields, the trail was lightly covered in the needles and it was track that was easy to just roll through. I loved these miles to Bulldog Aid Stations. I came into Bulldog (mile 10) and just filled my water. I saw the co-RD here and it was nice to see him out on the course scoping out the runners and seeing if they looked like the sun was taking to much out of them early. I could quickly tell in his glance of me that was what he was doing and smiled and said doing great, absolutely gorgeous trails out here. He said thank you & the AS captain said I'll see you at mile 90. I laughed a bit and said yep, mile 90, just a bit from now. That seemed like an eternity away.
I actually took a picture on the trail. 

I moved out of Bulldog and in route to Elk creek. We had been doing some pretty significant climbing from Start to bulldog but I was able to conservatively do all the hills so was still feeling fresh and not sweating much. That changed here. There was an 1100 ft. climb waiting for us as we headed back out and it was about 3 miles long. I power hiked when I needed to and ran until my body would heat up then dialed it back. I did this up that climb until it started to level out and we had some good running trails. I felt good through these trails and was still having fun. I hit mile 17 aid station Elk Creek about an hour in front of my plan and I was hot. I wasn't dehydrated at all but it was around 98 right then and I needed a cool down. I had grabbed a flower off the trail and handed it to Kiera at this aid station. I told her she needed to get some sunscreen on because her cheeks were all red, I learned shortly after that it was a mile hike up hill to the Aid Station from the car, that's why they were all red. Amazing what an 11 will do to see her Dad rock some trails. I spent about 5-10 minutes at this AS getting re-hydrated and trying to convince a runner named A.J that he could go on but his mind had already decided he was done. I quickly heard of another here that dropped as well. I gave Kiera her flower got some positive vibes from Crystal & my Mom who were both really happy with how I was running and looking at each AS. They were going to try and get a horseback ride in and then meet me in 12 miles at Dalton Lake. I said perfect, have fun and I'll see you there. Still 100% happy, having fun enjoying my time out here.
Crystal & K & my mom crewing all day. 

Leaving Elk Creek was mostly runnable single track trail to the next AS. I think I may have over-exerted on this stretch of trail because a lot of it was direct sun & it was so runnable. I started getting pretty hot here and had my first battles with my stomach. It was 6 miles from Elk to the next AS and by mile 3 I was burning up hot & I had already drank my water and only had some electrolyte drink left. The thing about electrolyte drink is it’s great when your stomach is solid but when your stomach hurts every drink is hard. I battled this stomach pain all the way to the next AS and almost immediately sat down here at mile 23. I was spent, i needed time to get ice in my hat & get my body temp down. I also needed to find things to get my stomach back on track. Chad showed up shortly after and gave me a Tums, i ate a bit of watermelon and had some ice to try and get it back but it was a struggle.
This sums up the day pretty good, ice was gold. 
 Finally from just time sitting there it started to get better and I power hiked my way out of crooked tree thinking ok 6 miles to Dalton Lake & you get to see your crew. Another big climb here of around 800ft meant just power hiking this first part. I'm not a fast hiker at all so this is where people catch me during events like this, I know that and am working on hiking faster but for now it was just about moving forward. I would try to run when I had runnable track but my stomach pains got worse and worse. Mostly on each side and high up they felt almost like side pains. I wasn’t sure how to fight them off, I tried eating, drinking, walking etc. and couldn’t shake them, this was the time out there that I was 100% not enjoying myself. This quickly turned into my lowest moment of any ultra I’ve ever done. By mile 25 I could barely hike. It all hurt, I saw Chad again out here in this stretch and we did some hiking together. Trying to get one another to stay positive we chatted about stuff but we were both in some pretty low lows. Knowing how hard he trained and worked I went on praying his low would end soon. With about 1.5 miles left to Dalton & my crew, I had been walking for the last mile. Every time I tried to run my body shut it down back to a hike. I kept getting more and more negative, telling myself you can’t even hike you are not cut out for this. This is the last run, after this one no more running, I’m done, and I’ll find something else. This is ridiculous, so with that 1.5 miles left to Dalton in my lowest low a runner came up behind me. I'm not sure what kind of Ultra magic he had with him but we got to chatting early with hike and he was going to start running again and I was like I'll see if I can hang with you. We ran most all of the next 1.5 miles, not because I felt good again but because with the presence of another person the pains were tolerable, I did it, I arrived at Dalton AS. In many ways this felt like the finish line because I longed to get here for so many miles. I knew I was not quitting but people were dropping here a lot, it was sad to see, so many people having to drive home and feel like I did last year after dropping at 50. I was determined to figure out my issues and get this thing back right.
coming out of the forest in on of my biggest lows ever.

Dalton Lake. I will not forget Dalton Lake. I arrived here defeated, dehydrated, sharp pains in both sides and totally down. I went from saying I was going to enjoy this entire thing to hating it just like that. to making myself think that I couldn’t, even if I set out to enjoy this thing. That all changed here at Dalton. I lied down next to the AS with my hands over my head breathing slow and they side pains started to subside. Crystal ran all the way back to the truck and got me a smoothie and my other hydration pack. I drank that smoothie in about 30 seconds flat. I was already feeling somewhat better. I told her how my whole body was so hot i wanted to walk back 1/2 a mile to the lake and get in, that I thought I needed too. She drug me over to this tote filled with creek water and a towel and said here you go. I washed my whole body with that cold water and my HR started coming back down. I chatted with Kiera and my mom and started feeling better. I saw Chad come in shortly after that in the same condition i just did about 15 minutes earlier and made a point to try and help him as much as I could. Assure him it was going to get better. I was proof, I was feeling better. I went back and Kiera and I had a quick contest to see who could jump the highest. After 4 or 5 jumps she determined I could and said see Dad you got this, you're going to be ok. This AS stop made my day, I left Dalton in route to Nemo.

leaving Dalton & my lowest point with Kiera's encouragement.

I left knowing that everything after Nemo gets more runnable, from the beginning my mentality was get to Nemo feeling good and you can haul butt from Nemo to the turnaround and back to Nemo. I made my climb out of Dalton and was feeling good. When I got half way to nemo the trail descended for the next 3 miles and I laid down some great miles here. To get to Nemo there is about a half mile run to finish up this segment on the road. I was blazing here when I saw the guy with all the Ultra Magic from earlier here. He wasn’t moving well and it was devastating, I was like oh no what's wrong. He was having some major kidney issues but was committed to do the things to get it better and continue on. I told him the same stuff that we talked about before, keep your mind right and you will get through this. Coming down into Nemo the road felt great, I was able to stride out here and run like I run on a 5 mile training run. I felt like i was flying when I saw my crew. I knew i needed to give them something amazing after that last AS stop. I ran as fast as I could into Nemo and saw Sarah had made it down from North Dakota and gave her a big stinky 98 hug. I was laughing, making jokes and running form was on point, I was in and out of Nemo in under 3 minutes and back out & I think I left them with a whole new mindset about this whole thing.
SARAH!!! Truly one of the best in ultra-running.

Nemo to Pilot Knob was not as runnable as I remembered or had in my head. Lots of big loose rocks and strange climbs that created issues with the rocks. I met a runner named Gary on this stretch, and we told some stories to get our mind off the trails. We talked about my whole story about Boston and had some laughs. I had a pretty decent stretch though and made it to the next AS at mile 43 in good spirits. I sat down and had some soup and Jeremy Bradford was sitting next to me. I had to get filled in on his Across the Country run so I kept asking him questions about, such a remarkable athlete. I had a detailed list in my head when I came into Pilots Knob. I'm like ok Mom can you get my other headlamp, this one has auto adjust and i keep tripping on the rocks. Crystal got me soup, Kiera got me dew. Then they filled my packs and chatted with me about strategy. I was feeling great & mind was all positive. I felt lucky to get to do this and be out here with my kind of people. My favorite line from this AS was when i was swapping headlamps I swapped batteries and I'm like "Oh way to go Jeff, who uses Toys R Us batteries in there Headlamp at an ultra"
Doing that shuffle down the trail

The Crew

Out of Pilot knob and on my way to the turn around. This section was nice sweet single track again. This is the part where i called it quits last year but I was feeling great and that though never crossed my mind. It was all about getting to the turnaround to pick up Crystal so we could start making our way back. I ran every section of this that was flat and walked the climbs and descents. The descents were tricky here with the headlamp and I decided I didn’t want to risk anything before the halfway point. I needed a good break to eat and chat with other runners before Crystal and I could make our way back out of here and towards Sturgis. The sharing of stories from all the other runners is always a reminder that everyone is going through their own thing; they can get through it and you can too, just get back out there. That's what Crystal & I did...headed back down the rocky trail 50 miles from Sturgis.
Half 1 of dont be and idiot Half 2 of dont be a Wimp

We were off and it wasn't long before we were running at a nice easy pace and chatting away. It probably felt like walking to Crystal as she had been waiting for hours & hours to run. We met quite a few runners in these first miles as they were making their way into Silver City. It was nice to see so many still out there, we had been hearing tails of dropping all day it started feel like there were hardly any runners left. The temps were about perfect by mile 55 or so, a real nice little breeze that felt like air conditioning on my face as we ran those headlamp miles together. The moon sat just above the tree line and lit up most the sky. Stars were out & we just kept rolling through miles until we came to the first aid station on the way back. We came in and saw my Mom. This is the only AS Kiera slept through. I had some pop & a quesadilla and some soup then we headed back out. We had many more miles of night time together laughing and enjoying trail talk.

The sun started coming up on the horizon in front of us and it almost took my breathe away. Not only the beauty of it but also the fact that I thought it was only around 2:00 am. See going into this 100 I pinpointed the overnight hours as my biggest struggle & my biggest dread. Jason Koop gave me some great advice and told me to accept it as a challenge & not go into the night all complacent; try to conquer it. That advice along with managing my caffeine intake & my crew not mention anything about what time of day it was helped me to never feel fatigued over the night hours. So when I saw daybreak and I had just realized I had conquered my biggest struggle of the 100 I got an instant rush of adrenaline. 
We were just before Nemo AS and I started really turning on the burners. The daybreak, accompanied with no more having to shine the light on the rocks to get the best footing & the fact that my legs felt fresh as can be made for some really fun miles. We spent very little time at Nemo AS & headed back to the trail ready to keep tearing it up. These miles were so much fun plus we got some really awesome views. There were 3 or 4 times where the trail opened up to the hills in the distance and I'd point and say "Crystal Look" and we both would take it in. 
Coming into Mile 71 w/Crystal
After all the hours joking and signing Alanis M, Crystal & I departed at Dalton Lake AS (mile 71) and here i picked up my second pacer, Sarah. I have no clue how I got lucky enough to get two of the most wonderful pacers ever but the ultra-gods must have aligned just right for this race because it was like we didn’t even miss a step. All the fun Crystal & I were having on the trails immediately passed over to Sarah at that AS and her & I just took off back into the woods.
Heading out with Sarah

This next session with Sarah started out with some pretty decent climbing so we had some miles of just chatting and power hiking in front of us. The sun was getting higher and higher in the sky and I was slowing down with the heat. It’s really difficult for your body to manage your temperature the second day of an ultra, after the heat on day one, then the cool down over night the 2nd day heat was very hard to process. I’d run in spurts but then get to hot and have to dial it back. This was very common on all 29 miles that Sarah & I had together. It was easily manageable but just something that slowed us down considerably. Had day 2 temps been lower like we were expecting I think I could of rode that momentum I had early all through the day but that day two heat was very tricky. Sarah & I set the Course Record for the most well placed, good-spirited profanity ever, not only course but maybe world record as were completely rolling for many miles. For most all of these 29 miles the most sore I was from laughing and chatting than from running. I could write a book about these miles but I'll let the photos below do the talking. We came into a clearing just before mile 95 and I was like over this way Sarah & started just striding out to probably my fastest mile of the day. Everything looked great at this point, 5ish miles left and fresh as can be. I told my crew 1 hour and we'd be in. We left and boy did things change...
What is your pain level on 1-10? I'd say a 2...OMG Run!

laying down some speed at mile 95

Mile 90 refuel stop

mile 90 pee check... all clear!

5 miles left, we've done 95 & most all of those 95 have been great except for that 1 battle with heat exhaustion. This is going to roll by, we will start with this one big climb then roll from there in. The climb seemed to never end and for the first time in 40 miles brought my spirits down. We finally got to the top of it and the part we were going to blaze suddenly seemed un-runnable. Then I over extended my foot in a cattle guard and had this pain in my ankle, ugh more frustration. Then the bottom of my feet started feeling like I'd run on rocks for the last 30 hours, ugh what is going on. Here I am just 4 miles from the finish and I can’t run. Sarah helped me so much work through all this. I kept saying we had to have this, no way were the ultra-gods going to let us go through a 100 miler & 30 hours of trail time and not have a big struggle to have to work through, so we got it all in the last 4 miles. We hiked almost all of those last 4, even the last 1 that is sidewalk on the way back to Sturgis. I took off my shoes to try and help with the feet issues but really it was all mental, I let myself go there and I couldn’t' bounce back, I did a great job of staying mentally focused on the positive for 30 hours and I guess I just didn’t have the mental energy to stay there anymore. Regardless we met Crystal with a .25 mile to go and all ran in together.
Finishing this 100 mile was about so much for me. It was redemption. It was not giving up. It was never quitting. It was proving to myself that I do absolutely enjoy this sport and the time out here. That I can manage my body in a way that it takes me on the most amazing journeys imaginable. It was about connecting with amazing people & showing Kiera that enormous feats can be conquered when you just break them down. It was complete duckery but it was worth every second.
The most amazing crew &; pacers.

Until next time Black hills, Happy Trails.

Also a big thank you to my Mom, she is not pictured in any of my photos, she must have been the camera person but she was instrumental in all of this, at every aid station, rocking the crew chief roll with Kiera.

Ok that's a lot of screen time, I need a run....


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Boston Marathon

Boston has always been the "BIG" running goal. It's always been about getting stronger, faster and better in hopes of being able to line up at the historic, magical race in Boston. The road to qualifying for Boston was not easy, but the actually journey to get to Boston tested me more than I could of imagined.

We set out for Denver after Kiera & Brady got out of school on Friday afternoon. We had a early morning flight out of Denver and were going to stay in a hotel near the airport the night before.  I heard of some spring snow coming into Denver on Saturday so I called Southwest and asked about flights. They informed me that they already made most the cancellations and if it wasn't canceled already it would probably depart. I asked about getting it changed to Kansas City or Omaha because even the thought of chancing it was not something I wanted to do. I was told you can't change airports, so half an hour later we took off for Denver. Six hours later we started to see the mountains on the horizon and shortly after got to our hotel. Just as I sat down on the couch an email from Southwest came in: Your flight has been canceled.

I was devastated. I called right away and said what can we do to get to Boston?
Can we get on another flight out of Denver? Nope they are all shut down until Sunday.
Can we get on one tonight? Nope.
Any options? Please?

Well we can check other airports in the area.



Kansas City?
-We have openings from KC to Chicago and then on to Boston tomorrow.

Ok, Quick how long of a drive is that from Denver? Ok 9 hours. and the flight leaves at 4:15PM. We can make it. Let's get on the road soon before the storm starts. Ok re-book our flights - let's go!.....Woah, why does my stomach feel so tight. Probably just nerves of the news, it'll bounce back. lets GO...BOSTON!!!

When I was 5 years old I had to have a surgery to prevent stomach acid from burning up through my esophagus. One of the consequences of this surgery was I would  never be able to vomit. So since that day in 1988 I never have. My body still tries to vomit but it goes through this horrible dry heaving process that makes me feel like I look like a weird zombie creature. Why I'm telling you this will be more clear soon.

Hurry everybody the rain is starting to turn to ice! Let's get out of Colorado. Never in my life do I remember wanting to get out of Colorado faster. The kids did great with the change of plans and we were off to Kansas City.

The lowest point of the entire trip was shortly after that at a truck stop in Limon, CO.  I had had 2-3 dry heave episodes in the car before that point, violently trying to void my entire body of everything inside it. In Limon, we had stopped to use the bathroom. I came back out of that station and the car was locked and the others were still inside. An episode hit me right then in the parking lot, in the ice rain. I collapsed to the ground and spent the next 10 minutes uncontrollably dry heaving. Drenched from the cold rain and a serious cold sweats I laid there on the cement and asked God for the answers. I prayed like I've never prayed before for it to stop, to know why I was going through this, for any answers, again for it to stop, again for clarity. Finally I got myself up and went back inside and laid in the hallway and waited till I could get back up and we could get back on the road.

We started back down the interstate, all of us sleep derived, exhausted and worn down. My stomach muscles were sore as can be from all the work of retching over and over. It wasn't another half an hour on the road and I had another spell. This was the point where we decided to go to the ER in Colby, KS. We dropped the kids & my mom off at a hotel around 1:00 and Suzi & I went over to the hospital. We walked up to the door, rang the call bell and explained as best we could what was going on. Soon after getting a room I was down on the floor dry heaving until I laid there in a cold sweet. The nurse was in the room and got to witness this episode. The PA came in shortly after and kept trying different solutions to get it to stop & to get the pain to go away. After 4 hours, numerous pills, some morphine and huge shot in my hip we all decided a cat-scan to get a better idea of what was going on was best. The cat scan revealed my stomach had stop processing anything in it; it had shut down, no clue as to why or when it would start again. I was instructed to not eat for 48 hours because it would not process it, so  I got a few prescriptions to help with the pain and nauseousness and we hit the road again.....6 hours from KC.

With only a few more episodes we got to KC with under an hour to get through security and get on the plane. Luckily we had no issues with that and we were in the air heading to Chicago and then Boston. We landed in Boston and got to our hotel around 11 o'clock Saturday night and crashed!!!

Sunday was suppose to be exploring and seeing the city but I missed out on most of that with my stomach issues. I did get my packet picked up, checked out the expo, got to meet Scott Jurek & got to hang with the Clif Bar people who made this whole journey possible. We all went to the spaghetti feed that night and I ate for the first time since Friday lunch, I had a little pasta and a little salad. Sunday night I went to bed early and hoped Monday morning would bring relief.

My mom & I walked down to the buses early Monday morning and we parted & I headed to Hopkinton. Athlete's Village was one of the coolest sunrises ever, I knew in that moment that I was where I was suppose to be. Everything it took to get here was worth it; this is Boston and it is worthy of my everything. Ever since the tragedies of 2013  I've wanted to stand at this start line for this city, this country and this running community. I felt so many things, I started calling them the BosFeels. I felt emotional, I felt worthy, I felt pride and pain. I felt anticipation and pure bliss in the moment. This is Boston!

We walked for about a mile from the village to the official start line, we were in groups by our qualifying times so I was in Wave 1, Corral 6. The start of the race most my pain faded away in my stomach and we ran in a group for the first mile or 2. My adrenaline carried me though many of these first miles. I was loving every minute of this. I spent many miles waving my arms to get the crowd even louder and high fiving everyone I could. I held my hand to my ear in my best Ryan Hall impersonation through the Wellesley scream tunnel. All the cheers made this run so much pure fun. I finally cramped up around mile 16, I knew this was coming because I hadn't eaten or drank almost anything in the last 48 hours, I was just so ecstatic that it waited this long and I was able to enjoy my first Boston Marathon so much.

I truly did not expect to fall so hard for a race as I have for Boston. I normally prefer trails and mountains but I have a strong pull to come back and stand at that start line year after year and embrace the journey to qualify, tackle any hurdles to get here and then take in all the BosFeels.

Happy Trails,