Monday, December 10, 2018

NOLANS 14

I am terrible at updating this blog. It's been a couple years. Becca encouraged me to write about my Nolans experience, and I am glad I did.


I’m not exactly sure what time it is. I think it’s around 2:00 or 3:00 am? Did I just fall asleep when I sat down? Maybe a minute or two. I feel good for 10 steps, then nothing. My legs are dead and I have zero energy. I need to sit down again, oh man, here we go…puking. I’m not sure I’ve done this at 13,000 feet up before? Nope, I haven’t. First time for everything. Puking hurts at this elevation; everything is worse up high. Winded and puking while laying on some cold tundra 1,000 feet short of the summit. Peak 6 of 14, this is not good. This full moon is rad; it’s lighting up all the peaks around us. I look to my left and I see my buddy Hannes, 20 feet away…what’s he doing? Crap, he is puking too! I actually chuckle and yell something I can’t remember. I’m cold. I have my puffy jacket on and wind pants, but I’m freezing. I realize things could get much worse if we don’t keep moving. So we keep moving as best we can. Neither of us complain. It’s not worth wasted energy or mental drain to dwell in the negative. I am doing this for fun, like an actual hobby. A whole three day weekend trying to complete this crazy hard route they call the “NOLANS 14”.

Nolan’s 14 was conjured up back in 90’s by some running and climber friends who figured out that they could link fourteen 14ers in the Sawatch Range in roughly 100 miles. The highest concentration of these “fourteener” mountains lies in a very natural line between Leadville and Salida. The rules are pretty simple: start on either ends’ Trailhead and go to the other end summiting all fourteen 14ers along the way…and do it under 60 hours for the "official" finish. Fourteen peaks, around 100 miles, 44k of climbing, and roughly 50% of the route is challenging off trail navigation. I decided to attempt the route South to North. I started at Blanks Cabin trailhead at the base of Mt. Shavano on Friday morning and hoped to be at the Fish Hatchery trailhead near Leadville sometime on Sunday before 6pm. I have to give a massive thanks to John Knotts who completed the route last year and helped me out with some valuable beta and route info during my scouting and training over the summer. I scouted about 60-70% of the route but just didn’t have time to scout it all, leaving lots of room for some real “adventure and unknown”.

I started right on time at 6am and the first few summits went fairly solid. Mt. Shavano, Mt. Tabaguache, done…grind up Mt. Antero.  Long descent into the little town of Alpine to meet up with Becca and Dad for the first time.  Normally my feet hold up pretty well in most of the ultra-races I’ve done, but here I was 6 hours in to my 60 hour adventure and was already having foot issues. I put on new socks, some tape, and swapped shoes hoping that would help. Maybe I should have skipped playing with the boys in the Mt. Princeton pool the day before?  I knew with 50 hours left my feet could wreak some real havoc. I started the long climb up the backside of Mt. Princeton and my stomach wasn’t feeling great. Princeton is gnarly and long. I was still making good time and kept charging along.

Up to this point I was pretty focused on the splits and keeping a legit pace…it was too much. It was stressing me out, and I knew if I kept wracking my brain it would do me in before I even got half this monster done. I had a moment where I told myself the ONLY goal is to finish this thing sub 60 hours on my first attempt and I needed to chill out and just embrace every summit and really enjoy the beautiful moments. I knew the odds aren’t great to finish, terrible actually…85% of folks that try Nolans 14 don’t finish and even less on their first try (less than 10%). But honestly I love that pressure and knowing I was tackling something so hard that I would need to dig incredibly deep and mentally push through three days straight. It’s up to my mind and legs to get it done. Becca and all these friends came to help; if I quit it better be for a really, really good reason. What’s my limit? Knowing I will skirt with that limit as this route unfolds: I got energy from this.

After the sketchy off-trail descent off Princeton, I connected with the Colorado trail and took that to the base of Yale. I pretty much ran the entire 7-8 mile section of the CT, and had a moment when I realized that one of my mantras I wrote down before starting was going to be huge: Patient & Relentless.  Avalanche trailhead was my first big stop and came around 12 hours from when I started. I rolled in and Becca was dialed (as always). Clean the feet, new socks and shoes, some pizza from BV, and a cold Coors banquet. My parents, some relatives from BV and Salida, and the boys where all there.  I sat down and took about 35-45 minutes here. My stomach wasn’t ideal. Being up that high is tough on the stomach. Lack of blood makes digestion and eating hard. I left the comfort of the parking lot party and after a couple hours was almost to the summit of Yale and flipped the headlamp on for the first time and first night.  I started getting super tired and planned to maybe nap when I saw Adam and Hannes around midnight at Horn Fork. As I started down the really steep off-trail descent down Yale, I could see two headlamps way below me, and I knew it was likely Hannes and Adam. I still had about 2,000 feet to descend but could hear Hannes hooting and hollering since they could see my light descending. Stoke level was high to see him and Adam at horn fork...Adam had hiked in with my supplies and re-fills.  I took a few minutes here, loaded the pack for the next 13-20 hours with no crew points and tried to eat a couple things which backfired after a couple minutes when I started puking everything up. Definitely not ideal. It was 12:30ish AM when Hannes and I started the long off-trail long climb up Columbia. I felt decent and we crushed the first 2k of climbing.

I thought my body had just needed a reset. As we got just above timberline I started to really struggle. I was barely moving and feeling super tired. I stopped a few times and almost instantly fell asleep…then I started puking again. The next few hours weren’t the most fun either of us have had on a mountain. We still had over 1000 feet to climb and I’m cold, puking, and keep falling asleep. For the first time since I had started about 20 hours earlier I wondered if this Nolans 14 just might not happen. Hannes kept me moving, but we were really slow and I knew we already lost 3-4 hours from my target times.  We joked that things always get better. The issue is everything is slow when your 13-14k high…so things got better, it just took longer. Things got fuzzy, we moved really slow, we threw up, I fell asleep, we got turned around and went the wrong way, but we laughed a lot. We finally got to some water after 12 hours on a couple flasks. I only consumed a few pieces of bacon and some drink mix calories…but we didn’t complain and we just kept moving and joking along. On Mt. Huron (#11) we ended up on an exposed ridge instead on the lower chute where we needed to be and it sucked. We lost more time and had to drop down before hitting the saddle. It was dark right as I summited Huron and I saw a goat perched right on summit. I know it was real because this is before the flood of hallucinations that started a few hours later. I flipped on the headlamp and started back down. Fortunately, Hannes found his way around the sketchy cliff band solo and we descended from the saddle together down toward Winfield. It was around 9pm and instead of it taking Hannes and me 12-16 hours to do the 6 peaks, it had taken about us 20-21 hours (bonus thank you for Hannes). Patrick (PG) was waiting at the road and we all jogged into Winfield.

At Winfield there was a whole crew and a bonfire (so rad!). I swapped shoes/socks and ate the best mashed potatoes with Becca’s homemade bone broth. I think this real food at Winfield was a game changer for me, as I was in need of real calories. Next up was Mt. LaPlata with Becca. This was probably my grouchiest summit, but Becca didn’t take any of my BS and kept me moving. Mostly I was just super tired and starting to lose my balance sometimes. I knew with all the time I had lost I may be cutting it close to the 60 hour goal. It was pretty cold and windy as we hit the summit, so we quickly started down and I tried my best to run as much as possible. It felt like it took us FOR-E-VER to get down to LaPlata trailhead, and Becca convinced me I really needed a nap once we got to the crew (I think I was loopy). I sat in a chair with a sleeping bag on top of me and was instantly out.  Pat woke me up ten minutes later and I ate a bit more solid food (squash and beef stew with more magic broth), and then the three of us took off down HWY 82 towards Elbert base around 2-3am. It actually felt great to run after spending so many hours hiking. Felt really good to run flat and stretch out the hips. The quick nap had worked wonders. Becca hopped back in my Dad’s truck once we got to the Echo turn.

Pat and I started the long grind up Mt. Elbert (highest point in Colorado #themoreyouknow). It was tough but I was feeling better and knew the sun would be coming up in a few hours. I finally felt like we were on the homestretch and based on my terribly slow math I figured I could make sub 60 hours without too much of an issue. As the sun came up the very entertaining hallucinations began. I saw tons of goats, a campsite with tents around 13k complete with old folks sitting in camp chairs. I saw couple jeeps parked in a boulder field. I saw cowboys and miners, which made me think there may have been something deeper in those “mountain visions”? We skied down the very steep scree chute off Elbert and made good time to halfmoon. Once there it was a killer crew of my good friends as we climbed the last peak that was Mt. Massive.  Having Shawn, Greg, Pat, and Hannes was a very good distraction and helped distract from the wrecked feet and sleep-deprived hallucinations. Time was going slow and sometimes fast. I was in a strange world of reality and hallucinations, but it was strangely enjoyable. My legs felt surprisingly ok and I even ran for a bit to tag the final summit just under 56 hours. As soon as I sat on top of Massive I lost it. I knew this was my last peak, but once we got there I was just overwhelmed by it all. Overwhelmed with thanks for all my friends that came to support and help me make it happen. Overwhelmed by the support and belief that Becca has in me, and just so stoked we did it on my first try. We saw some clouds rolling in fast so we got off the summit and within a few minutes of our descent we got hammered by a gnarly hailstorm. It was quite fitting as the mountains had truly blessed me with 50+ hours of great weather…but Mother Nature decided to throw us this little humble reminder as we descended that these mountains will always be bigger than us. Once back to the trail it was a jog to the fish hatch trailhead.  Becca, Ryder, Max, my parents, and the rest of the awesome crew were all there.  It was a very humbling and emotional moment I get to keep with me. It was surreal. I had been moving through the mountains for 58 hours and had only slept around 30 minutes total. It felt amazing to be done and we celebrated with cold beers and donuts at the trailhead parking lot. Twenty minutes into the drive home I was out cold. Once home I realized how wrecked I really was and was honestly pretty wrecked for several days.

It took a while for the whole thing to sink in, and I believe much of the experience and feelings will just stay in those mountains where they belong. It’s hard to explain something so big and so humbling. It was a profoundly deep combination of endurance, grit, spirituality, team work, and a deep respect for these big mountains.  
STATS:  99.8 miles. 44,000ft of climbing. 58:11 finish. 



 









Wednesday, July 20, 2016

beer can or beer can't

                                                                                    FEAR THE DEER 13.1

In May I ran fear the deer trail half marathon. It's an awesome race mainly because I love the deer creek trails and run up there on the ref. It's a fairly technical trail with a few sections you can open it up..it's a solid trail race of climbing and bombing downhills. For 13 miles you end up climbing around 2500ft so there is lots of slow steep running and some power hiking, the key here is letting it rip on the downhills. Last year I got second and this time really wanted to run fast and see if I could win. I knew the CR was just a hair under 1:35:00 but didn't know the exact time and in Colorado you never know who will show up. My goal was to hang in the top 2-3 if some guys went out fast. Once we hit dirt I was already on the front and felt comfortable with pace knowing we had a 20min grind of a climb. One younger guy was only 10-15 seconds behind me and I could see he was right on my tail when we got up top. I hammered the downhills and once we got next climb I could see him...I kept the pressure on and was pretty maxed out but moving really..once we hit the first out and back I saw him and had about a 45 sec gap. He was moving good. I absolutely slammed the downhills and next out and back I was suffering pretty good but had over a minute on him. We had about 3-4 miles left mostly downhill. I felt ok and pushed hard to the finish. At the start I had started my stopwatch late so I wasn't exact sure on time...but finished in 1:35:08. I was told later the CR is 1:34:48 so I was super close. It's fun and really tough running maxed out for 90min but good speed training.



10k
Ran our local Roxborough 10k a couple weeks later. It's called the rox trot. We all went up the park and Becca and boys all were running the 5k. It's all paved but lots of short ups and down...not a flat or fast course but good training/speed work. I was a little tired from training but pushed well and won with a 37:15..felt good i still have a little speed despite all the ultra jogging. The boys did awesome and actually got 1st and 3rd for 11 and under. Not bad since they are 6 and 8! Ryder has a great pace and knows how to push himself and ran a 25min 5k on a tough course ...it's so awesome to see them both running.

                                                                                    DIRTY 30
Next up in June was the big Dirty 30 race up in golden gate canyon. It's a classic Colorado trail ultra and always has a stacked and competing field. 50k is a challenging distance cause to be in the mix you gotta be running fast and racing but it's still also a 5hr race so pacing and nutrition still play a roll. The pace was fast from the gun and 15 or so guys quickly separated from the rest of the 300 or so runners. I felt really comfortable and was sitting in our near the top 10. We had a train of guys basically 4th through 15th all together. Chris Vargo was off the front from the gun and a couple poor souls tried to hang with him (he won by over 20min and got course record) Every mile it seemed someone was dropping off the pace and the group def kept the pace and pressure on. This race is technical and tons of climbing with 7200ft over the 31-32 miles. My buddy and teammate James was running well and we were in the same group for a bit with 5-6 other guys including Joel Hamilton, Josh Arthur, Jason Schlarb...I may have been the only one without a J first name. Such a cool course with a couple sections was full on scrambling up and over these little rocky peaks. Around mile 20 came a pretty solid climb and I was feeling it a bit but still ended up dropping 2 of the guys but Jason and josh dropped me super fast...over the next couple miles I reeled in two more guys. It was hot by now and rolled into mile 26 feeling OK, not terrible but not great. My calves kept cramping off and on and that was really slowing me down. I got passed once and then around mile 28 James caught me on the last grind of a climb...it's brutal. He ran super steady and I couldn't stay with him. I had to stop and stretch a couple times and just gut it out the last few miles...I felt like I was barely moving and expected to get passed by more people but didn't and actually passed one more guy in last 2 miles. I finished in 5:15 for 8th overall...my goal was top 10 so I was good with it. James finished a couple minutes in front of me for 7th. Great race on challenging terrain. I am fully convinced racing a 50k is hard...really hard, hard like running fast for 5hrs...that's hard stuff.

GOPRO games
A short week later I ran the GoPro games trail 10k . They call it the "10kish" cause it's more like 7 miles with 1800ft of vert all on some amazing trails above vail. The boys and Becca ran the 5k on Friday evening. Becca crushed and got 2nd overall female. The course was a huge challenge for the boys but they both did great and pushed through some serious side aches (haha) My race was on tired legs for sure and I was just hoping to hang top 10 since it's a super competitive race. All the really fast guys are there since there is prize money. I felt pretty decent and some of the downhills we were absolutely ripping. On one steep road I looked at watch and saw or pace was 4:30miles. 52 minutes of suffering I finished and was 10th place...funny. Was also glad to see I only lost 3-4 minutes to the "pro dudes".

we took the boys up a 13er (Sniktau)

LEADVILLE PREP!
Building up for Leadville my goal is to be faster on the flats and have better turnover for all the downhill running. I'm on a good build right know thanks to coach Patrick's help and plan. A bit more speed on the 1:30-3:00hr runs and adding a few longer days 6-7 hrs as we build towards the Leadville 100 on Aug 20th. Ive really been pushing some downhill running to get the legs ready as they can be. I don't have any races planned for July just quality training and some cool training challenges like the longs peak duathlon. ..I also want to be really hungry and super motivated when race day rolls around. Running 100 is so mental and being the right headspace is more important than any training session.


"If you think you CAN, you're right"
"If you think you can't, you're right"




Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 plans

Here we go....training is in swing and things are getting closer, so it time to update the old blog. I recently read somewhere that blogs are old school. So until I get back on MySpace here is my season update and schedule.  My main focus for this summer is Leadville 100. Was stoked to get in and since it was my first 100 miler back in 2013 (as part of Leadman) I am excited to see how much "faster" i can go on the course. I've been focusing a bit more in getting back some leg speed and running more flats as it can help tremendously on the Leadville course. Ran more steady than ever over the winter but definitely got a nice break in JAN. Been doing a lot more core work thanks to Becca's weekly class and having our basement gym fully done. I've also got some non race adventures planned with some fastpacking, bikepacking, 14ers, and some more Longs Peak Duathlon action. Happy trails.

 https://www.strava.com/athletes/399498

MAY- Fear the Deer 1/2 marathon (awesome trail half with over 2k of vert in 13miles)    
JUNE- Gopro mtn games
JUNE- Dirty 30 50k. Tough course and good competition. (I think I'm more competitive with longer races, but looking forward to a 5hr sufferfest)
JUNE-Leadville Marathon
AUG- LEADVILLE 100
SEPT-NOV- Cyclocross races







Monday, December 7, 2015

BEAR 100 race report: lost and found


The BEAR 100

"Running 100 miles is elective adversity" (even if the adversity isn't physical)

It's a mixed bag to finish a 100 mile run and knowing it wasn't what it could have been. I missed a turn at mile 90ish and dropped from 2nd place to the teens (I think I ended up running about 107 miles) Had it not been my day, or if I had some unforeseen issues, I think I would have been totally content to finish 14th and 22:50. But overall everything was going pretty great until the missed turn. This is not an excuse. I missed the turn, and most people didn't so it's still my bad to own and at the end of the day it's still a honor to be able to run 100miles.

The BEAR 100 is a point to point race from Logan Utah to Bear Lake Idaho. Overall there is some pretty rugged terrain and roughly 22k of climbing. It's a beautiful race put on by ultra runners who keep it low key. Just under 300 people usually start the run each year. With it being in September the weather is always un-predictable. Last year there was crazy rain and this year it would be the challenging heat.


 My Dad and me made the trip out together and met my good buddy Casey in Logan. It was great spending time with my dad and can't thank him enough for crewing like a champ for the whole race. We got all our gear dialed in on Thursday for the Friday start. 6am on Friday morning we started in a little residential park in the dark with headlamps and a few hundred run buddies. The course climbs right away with a big 4-5k climb up to the first aid station at mile 10. I knew a few would start fast so I just took it easy and settled in for some jogging and hiking. I found myself floating in the top 8-10 but really comfortable. Luke Nelson was off the front from the gun and most of us wondered if he could hold out all day. I spent some time catching up and running with Jesse Rickert (we ran together at SJS 50 in June), Jared Campbell, and a few other rad dudes. I actually gapped a few guys on the first little descent (not on purpose) and came into the mile 20 aid station I think in 5th or 6th. My dad was there and we quickly filled the flasks with water and skratch, ate some watermelon, and grabbed some skratch chews and a couple gels. I made sure to eat and drink a lot (I think I ate too much, more about that at mile 60!) A couple miles on a dirt road with an Australian guy and we started up another massive climb together. Miles 23-30 was basically all uphill, a lot of it was runnable and I made sure power hike anything steeper.
We got slowed down a bit by a bunch of cows...yep cows. It's open range cattle country so we trailed a bunch of cows on the single track climbs making them not so happy, which results in cow poop all over the trail and lots of mooing. After a couple brave butt slaps (on cows) from the Australian, three of us runners finally got around the cattle shit train. once the trail flattened out I ended up pulling away from the two guys I was with which was surprising cause I wasn't feeling great. It was really starting to warm up as we started down a steep dirt road into the aid station around mile 35. I got caught by one guy from Montana and we passed one more guy who was already looking pretty wrecked. It was good to have company and we rolled in and out of the aid station together.
Leaving I dumped cold water on my head and I also left with my handheld bottle packed with ice and water. I was planning to just have my two 17 oz flasks (salomon s-lab vest) the whole way but once we knew it was probably going to hit 90 degrees, I opted to also carry a 20oz bottle of ice water from mid day till evening just to make sure I never ran out of water and to be able to keep my head and body cooler. It makes a huge difference. More climbing, more running (weird huh?) and another long decent into the aid station. Before I came into the aid station (mile 40ish) there is a little out and back. I saw Luke Nelson and then just a little behind him was Jesse Hayes (both of these dudes are real deal runners) Jesse had just run UTMB three weeks before! I was stoked to be catching these guys and couldn't help but wonder was I going a bit too hard...but I knew my average pace, and target times and I was right on track so I was totally confident I was ok. I caught Jesse and he stayed with me a bit, we both just did our own thing and soon he was outa site behind me. We still had half of the race left so I knew any one of these guys could easily be passing me again later on. Around mile 43-45 we hit a big wide open section and I could see I was gaining on someone. I soon caught Luke Nelson and we chatted a bit and even took a quick dip in the river to cool down. He told me the only guy in front of was John Fitzgerald from Ft Collins. He is a great runner and Luke said he looked super strong. As I came into mile 46-47 aid station my dad was there and said John was 15 min in front of me. I was feeling really good, no issues, nutrition and hydration on point. I made sure to just keep plugging away at my own pace and not to "try" to catch him. A few miles later I crested a hill and came up on John puking his guts out...I made sure he was ok and had what he needed. Lots of people throw up doing these races (he ended up puking for the next few hrs and then Rallied super hard to finish 6th!) I was on the lead!It was awesome but I honestly didn't want to be in first with 50miles left...oh well, I'll still take it. It was cool leading the race and coming through aid stations in the top spot. I came into mile 61 aid station and wasn't feeling great...my stomach was a little pissed. I saw Dad and Casey...what! I was super bummed for Casey. He told me he rolled his ankle really bad at mile 50 and had to pull the plug. I took a couple extra minutes here to drink, grab my BD headlamp and z poles. As I walked out of the aid station, Mick (eventual winner) rolled in looking solid. Super steep climb right away and I figured I only had 3-5 minutes on him...he caught me fast and was gone, he was crushing. I knew I had to take it easy and hope my "low spot" flushed out soon....I was hurting. I was barely moving up the steep terrain and I felt like I needed to puke. My stomach felt full and I figured I must had eaten too many calories early on when I felt good and hungry and it was just catching up with me. I was using Vespa (before) and during the race (every 4-6 hrs) and I'm a big fan of the stuff...so I just drank water and didn't eat anything and hoped that would help. I also knew this was just a bad spot that will happen at some point during every 100mile race. I just kept plugging away and really focused on the positive. It took a bit but I finally started feeling better around mile 73-74 (I think, things get hazy) I hadn't taken in any calories in almost 2hrs and everything felt balanced again. Thanks to aid station folks I knew Mick was an hour in front of me! But I hadn't lost time Jesse who was to 3rd and my dad estimated I had a 20-30 min gap on him. Mile 80 aid station I got some soup and coke; dad and Casey filled my vest....I rolled out feeling strong and noticed course markings where pretty sparse....a couple people had mentioned the last couple sections aren't marked very well...so I was really trying to stay aware and careful. I was running everything but the steep climbs and had the iPod rolling. In and out of mile 85 aid station (I was now 90 minutes behind Mick, he was flying) A few miles later is where I missed a hard right turn...not sure if it wasn't marked or I somehow totally missed the ribbons. After I while running down the road I had a bad feeling I was off. I was about to flip and saw a pink ribbon so I kept going.....too far...I know now I went downhill for way too long before I decided to back track (time is hard to gauge when the mind is hazy after 18hrs) On my way back up I saw the ribbon and realized it was old and faded so I knew I went off course and the long climb back up was so frustrating. Once I got back and found the missed turn I had probably lost 1.5hrs or more. I ended up running a few different guys and at the last aid station the volunteers mentioned several people saying that turn wasn't marked. Someone there told me my dad was there but had just left to go to finish since I was almost 2hrs slower than my projected time (they had no idea what happened to me)...man that last 7-8 miles to the finish was real tough after being completely deflated from the missed turn. It was a real weird mix of emotions rolling into the finish, Deep down I was happy to finish my 3rd 100miler, but couldn't get past the mistake and it definitely consumed my mind. It took a while to "get over" it but lessons learned and I know the experience will pay off somewhere down the line and is extra motivation. I still managed to finish and get the "badger" belt buckle for anyone who breaks 24hrs.

Within a few days of finishing the race I was already looking up if there was any 50-100k races I could do soon after. I wanted a bit of revenge, my internal competitiveness was still in the hunt. I felt like I recovered pretty fast and actually felt normal within a week or so but when I ran I could tell my body needed some more time. I just saw this weekend I didn't hit the lottery for western or Hardrock. I'm thinking back to Leadville or maybe Bighorn 100.


Mile 0 


Mile 52 in the lead

GEAR
Shoes: HOKA Speedgoat and Challenger
Glasses: Electric S-line
Socks: Stance run
Hat: Ciele
Clothing: Champion System, Patagonia
Pack: Salomon S-lab vest
Watch: Garmin 920xt
 
Nutrition: Skratch, Vespa, Skratch chews, a few GU's, COKE, and real food (watermelon, Fritos, cantaloupe, bananas, warm soup)...lots of soup and coke last 40miles.
 
 
 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

San Juan Solstice race report (2nd overall) JUNE

SAN JUAN SOLSTICE: A true mountain race.  2nd place overall. 9hrs 34min
Lake City is a great little “untouched” mountain town in the San Juan’s, evident by the amount of “for sale” signs we saw on local businesses and property. It’s a 90minute drive or so from Gunnison. You could probably hike from Lake City to Ouray as fast as you could drive; since you have to go all the way around a few major mountains. This race has been going on for 25 years and is truly a classic ultra. 50 miles with almost 13k of vertical many have dubbed it the “mini hardrock”. It’s truly a town run race, and I heard a good chunk of the town’s residents help and volunteer for the race. Look at the top times on ultra-sign up and you’ll see a who’s who of talented ultra-runners.

We had a great little Cabin just a couple blocks from the start. Race morning we got ready, ate 3 eggs with spinach and a couple cups of coffee. Me and Becca woke up Ryder, who was honestly just super pumped to be up at 4:30! And he kept telling us this was the earliest he had ever been up, It was a great boost to see him get psyched for something so simple and was a good reminder to be happy and positive going into the race . Max and my Mom slept in in the other cabin. Myself and the legendary Casey Hill jogged to the 5am start in the dark where we met up with our teammate Greg  and Becca, Ryder and my Dad. We waited in the street for the start with a few hundred other head lamped folks all tackling a long tough day in the mountains. Boom….nice mellow jog out of town on some dirt roads as we gradually started uphill. Everyone was perfectly content to take it easy this early. A couple miles comes the first of several river crossings. It’s a smaller creek but was raging enough there are ropes (that you need to hold into!) to help you across. I think we crossed through the water about 7 or 8 times with the deepest one getting my shorts wet. At this point we were just a few miles in and the climb really starts to go up once we got through soaking our feet. The field had thinned out and I found myself in 3rd place with Casey and a couple other guys just behind us. Jesse Rickert from Gunnison and Micheal Barlow (Aspen) where the two dudes I found myself off the front with. I found out Jesse had run the race several times and our pace was solid but very manageable so I settled in and decided he was a good person be with. Michael basically dropped us halfway up the first steep climb! Me and Jesse powerhiked and wondered out loud if Michael would blow up or crush us (he crushed). The race climbs roughly 5k in the first 10 miles and as we got above tree line I made sure to slow down a few times and breathe in the views as I was sucking wind around 12,000 feet. Jesse and I just kept a good cruising pace over some pretty rough sections up high and could see Mike about 60-90 seconds in front of us. As we started the few mile decent into the first aid station (mile 15-16) I pulled away from Jesse and actually caught Michael. We chatted and jogged into the aid station in 1st and 2nd place. I was reminding myself we still had a ton of racing and don’t be dumb. Becca, my Dad, and Ryder had everything ready to go. Dropped off my headlamp, grabbed some gels, and filled the flasks with Skratch and water. We left the aid station at the same time and ran the few miles of dirt road to the next big climb. Around mile 18-19 we veered off the road and started up a steep 4x4 road/trail. Within a couple minutes he dropped me and was running super solid. I wasn’t feeling stellar so I settled down and started power hiking the steep stuff, soon I was mostly just hiking and my legs felt slow and heavy. I looked back as one does when feeling crappy, and saw Jesse quickly gaining on me. We rolled into the Mile 22-23 aid station together and he left just before me. I ate some watermelon and even grabbed some coke. I could see him just a minute or less in front of me as we once again where above tree line. I continued to struggle and lose time, I kept waiting to feel better, but I just got slower and my quads were hurting pretty bad. After a couple false summits to the highest point of the race (around 12,500ft) I got passed again, this time by Dustin Simeon. He was moving well and I tried to stay on his feet, it didn’t work. I was warned the 9-10 mile section up on the continental divide was tough and be ready. Since I was already hurting and had dropped to 4th I wasn’t exactly “feeling it” at all. I had to stop and stretch the quads a couple times, and the snow sections really slowed the pace. A couple times I was up to my waist in snow drifts. I just tried to keep moving and hope things got better. Once I got a little lower my pace increased in a bit but I felt like I was losing ground and was truly waiting for more people to pass me. When I got close to the aid station around mile 34-35  I saw Dustin running out so he was only about 4-5 minutes in front of me. This gave me a little boost knowing I wasn’t totally dragging. I made sure to eat some more food and coke, fill up on skratch and get moving. The race volunteer’s here were awesome and really encouraging. After a mile or so I slowly started to feel better but my quads were totally fried. I could still run, but it hurt. After stressing for a bit thinking I was off course for 10-15 minutes (I wasn’t) it was a steep descent into mile 40 aid station. I knew the whole family was there so I tried to hammer it in. The legs hurt whether I walked/jogged/ran so I ran as best I could. I decided to ditch the vest and go one handheld bottle for the last 10 miles. I made a fast transition at the aid station and it was great seeing the boys cheering. Becca jogged out with me and told me 2nd and 3rd place guys where 7-8 minutes in front of me, she also said they didn’t look great (she would never say they looked strong right?). I had to dig deep, real deep. I was hurting and knew we had 10 miles left and a one more tough climb (2-3miles long). I decided I would absolutely bury myself to see if I could catch them, and if I didn’t then 4th was ok. It was a huge mental challenge, but mentally I didn’t want to give up and I wanted to see myself pass them or completely implode trying. I grabbed two sticks (nature's trekking poles) at the start of the climb and power hiked really well up the 2+ miles…I finally saw them both together in a big meadow opening. I timed the gap and I had closed it to 4min. This was another good boost, but we only had 5 miles or so to go. I ran a couple downhill sections pretty reckless but I knew I had to do everything I could to catch them. I saw Jesse and right as I passed him I saw the last aid station and Dustin was there dumping water on his head (it was pretty hot by now) I just filled my bottle and kept running. When I passed Dustin I decided to run as hard as my legs would allow for 3-4 minutes just to gap him and Jesse. The adrenaline surged and I felt awesome for a couple short minutes…then reality hit and I thought for sure they would catch me again. The steeper stuff was killing my quads and I even had to run backwards a couple times to help. Once I could see the river and town I knew I was ok since it was only a mile or so to the finish. As I ran into town it felt so great to see the family and I could hear Becca before I could see her (as usual!) Felt really good to know I had raced my way back into 2nd place, but I was smashed…totally smashed.
 
Gear List:
Shoes:  HOKA Challenger ATR the whole way
Socks: Stance Fusion Run (awesome, no blister, fast drying)
Nutrition: Skratch labs drink mix, some GU gels,  Epic bar, Watermelon/coke at aid station
Other: Patagonia shorts, Champ system Jersey and Jacket, Salomon s-lab vest (killer)
 


Fear the Deer half-marathon (2nd overall) MAY

I've been seriously blog slacking again...so I'm gonna update my entire summer in a few posts.

Back in May I raced the Fear The Deer half-marathon close to home at Deer Creek park. It had been raining like crazy, so training was interesting leading into the race and it fully felt like the PNW
here in Colorado for a few weeks. Myself and teammate James Walsh were both racing and honestly though the race would be cancelled. Luckily the trails are pretty "gravely" and the water drained well and the trails actually weren't terribly muddy. Race morning was overcast and drizzling and rain was coming...It was kinda cool and way different than our "normal conditions". People milling around the start were complaining about conditions which I find so bizarre. My thoughts: If you don't like the conditions, don't race...no one is forcing you. Why start the race in a bad mood or negative place? I think being positive CAN affect your race as much as fitness. Noticed some legit fast folks at the start. (J. Marshall Thompson, Stevie Kremer, and some fast marathon road guy (Jason Fitzgerald I think?) the race director called out before the start. (no pressure!)...and of course my buddy James is always crazy fast even though he was just "training".  My goal was really to break 1:40 for a hard 13.1 miles with roughly 2500ft of climbing. I knew if I felt good I should break 1:40 by a few minutes and hopefully be in mix for a top 3 finish. It's fairly technical but runnable terrain and favors strength over turnover. I know these trails really well and hoped that would help me out.

J Marshall and Jason F. quickly took the lead on the climb right outa the gate. I was hanging back just a bit and was pretty maxed out on the climb, but still within myself. Once we hit a first little downhill I caught up to Jason really fast, as his descending was slow...I realized that second this guy is definitely a road runner and with the amount of hard downhill's we had left I could put time on him and hope he didn't crush me too bad on the climbs. The three of us already had a decent gap and started up "the wall" together for the rest of the first long climb. It was obvious J Marshall was the guy to beat. He is a world class skimo racer and has won all kinds of mountain races of all distances. I could tell Jason was working harder than us so I was happy to ride his feet and wait to see what happened. I topped out at Plymouth around 19min and they only had about 20 seconds on me. Caught back up to Jason and passed him (he was struggling) and could see Marshall up a few seconds. We hit first turnaround together and started back down to main trail (red mesa loop)...it was drizzling and pretty cold, but and we were pushing hard. On way back we saw the rest of the top 5-6 runners and James was crushing and making up ground big time. On the long descent before the last climb I pulled into the lead and realized maybe I could out descend him (or he was just letting me dangle?!) On the last grind up to Plymouth loop he put in a solid effort and dropped me. At the second turnaround he had about 30 seconds on me. On they way back I saw James and he had just passed Jason and a couple others. I hammered the descent and could see Marshall a few times but knew I wasn't likely to catch him. As I got close and saw Becca and the boys there cheering me on. I was trying not fall as this was the muddiest and slickest section of the whole race. I finished in 135:48 (exactly a minute behind J Marshall) and was told we both ran CR on a slightly longer course in the rain. James had a great first race in his new Colorado home for 3rd.