Thursday, July 31, 2008
We used to make fun of Coach Bell when he would tell us, "I've been running since before all of you were born." I still run with the team on the rare occasion I'm in Sunbury, and the next time I visit I'll be able to tell the team that...
2. South Florida
Everyone had to vote WVU as the top team, but everyone knows it ain't gonna happen. The reprocussions from their late season ass whoopin' at the hands of the mighty Panthers are still being felt, and I predict that program will soon sink to new lows.
Look for Army and Navy to soon join the Big East as well, at least in football.
“Shit.” I said. “I gotta cross that creek as soon as I leave the aid station. My feet are gonna be soaked the rest of the run.”
Then Katie said, “Hey dumbass, why don’t you wait to put on your socks ‘till you’ve crossed the river.”
That’s the kind of tactical thinking I pride myself on, but it was nowhere to be found right now.
Of course, my zeal to take on Little Giant, climbing one last time up to 13,000 feet, was dampened a bit when Dave (who had paced Neil up and over the pass earlier on) told me, “See that big waterfall [the waterfall I mentioned in part XI]? You go up to the top of it. And then you keep going up for a while longer.”
But hey, I was less than ten miles from becoming an official Hardrock finisher, gaining the fame, glory, and groupies that go with being a member of the club. So I left, shoes and no socks, and crossed the creek to begin the final trek. Continued running until I was out of sight from Christian (who was videotaping me) before I stopped to put on some fresh CRUD socks.
FYI, for the final leg I switched to the La Sportiva Raceblade. For the first 44 miles (Ouray) I had worn my beloved La Sportiva Imogene. I then switched into an old, ratty pair of Asics Gel Attack III for the leg to Sherman. From Sherman to Cunningham I actually wore an old pair of Nike Pegasus. The Pegasus, a road shoe, actually performed fairly well on the rugged terrain. If I ever return to Hardrock though, I’ll probably just use multiple pairs of the Montrail Hardrocks, which would take the constant beating of this race better than any pair of shoes I wore.
Another logistical note. For the final section all I carried was one water bottle. I had carried my three liter camelback with a raincoat, powerbar, map, and various other pieces of schwag for the past 91 miles and it was a huge relief to get it all off my back. My crew objected loudly to this, as they knew one pint of water was not enough to sustain me over the final miles in the current state I was in. But you just come to a point in an ultra where you quit taking in calories and fluids, and I had hit that point long ago (though I had shoved down a lot of food at the Cunningham aid station). I’m a big fan of going as lightweight as possible and am extremely jealous of guys like Tony and Kyle who are quick enough to do entire hundred milers with only a water bottle and a gel.
Anywho, there I am pounding up the final hill. I’m hiking hard too, passing a ton of people. Made me feel good about myself, though in reality I was passing a lot more pacers than actual runners. In fact, not a whole lot of runners went out of the final aid station without a pacer. Melissa would have loved to have made the trip, but for some reason I wanted to tackle the final part by myself.
The sun set about a quarter of the way up the hill. It was a psychological setback for me, as I had told everyone who would listen that I wouldn’t finish if I had to be out there a second night. And I had truly believed that. But there wasn’t anything I could do about that now, so I just kept climbing.
Soon enough, about 85 minutes after I left the aid station, I finally got to the top of the final hill.
I was ecstatic for the next 100 yards or so. Then I faced the final downhill.
Acrophobia. Exposure. Holy crap, was this section dangerous. It would have been hard to do if I were fresh and it was daytime. But it was night, and I was tired as fuck. There were a couple of patches where I slipped and couldn’t stop myself for ten feet or so, the scree just wouldn’t let me dig in. Had those falls been off to the side instead of straight down the path, they’d still be out there looking for my body.
This part of the course took FOREVER! I had to go so slow to stay safe, and to make things even more interesting I was starting to doze off. I was cursing Dave pretty bad here. “That mofo told me this is all a jeep trail!”
After what seemed like another 100 miles, I finally found that jeep road. Remember, most of the jeep roads on this course were very rugged, not just a dirt road. Lots of rocks. And I managed to trip over all of them.
Along the way down here I saw one of the most beautiful Colorado scenes I'll ever see. There was a huge moon out and was illuminating the mountains, and they were reflecting off one of the high altitude lakes in this section. Everyone sees the famous photographs of the Colorado mountains reflecting off a still lake, but how many get to see this at night?
Couple more miles of bombing down this jeep road and I saw a glorious sight – the lights of Silverton! I figured I was almost done and actually picked up my pace.
I soon passed two runners and slowed down to talk with them. It was their first time too, and we were all psyched about what was now a forgone conclusion. I said, “yeah, it looks like another half mile and we’ll be drinking beer!” The reply broke my heart. “Sorry, dude, but it’s at least another 5K. We still hafta head to the ski hut.”
Wow. You’d think after running 97 miles that another 5K would be nothing. But at that time, in my current state, I felt like the guy told me I’d hafta climb Everest first. And that shock took absolutely everything out of me. I was finished. I’d been taking on Hardrock for the past 42 hours and I had nothing left to give. I wanted to stop and sit down, but I knew I’d fall asleep. So I kept walking. Was still able to move faster than the other two, so I pulled ahead. But things were looking bleak. I could no longer concentrate on following the trail, so at any turn I would have to wait for the two to show me the correct way. And I had a real hard time with the final creek crossing, even though it was only ankle deep. I had started to hallucinate, not just visual stuff but having my mind play tricks on me, and I was thinking for some reason that a death by drowning was imminent.
Eventually I got across the creek, and I somehow started running a bit. Sure wish I had video of that because I bet it was something to see. I kept thinking that every root was a snake about to bite me. I was seeing people hiding in the leaves of trees, convinced that they were going to attack me. And every time I came to a bridge, I was positive I had seen that bridge before, and I thought I must have gotten turned around on the course and be running it backwards. Even though this part of the trail was a straight line. To make things worse, the lights of Silverton were visible the entire time. The finish line, so close…
I was sure I was lost and was on the verge of collapse when I ran across an open field and saw a lady there, yelling at me. I was sure that was an illusion too, so I ignored it and continued looking for the next marker. Turns out the lady was the next marker, and she was yelling at me to take a right onto the main drag of Silverton, though to me her lips were moving but I couldn’t understand her. I probably wasted a good two or three minutes (though it felt like hours) looking all around the lady and her van for the next marker, while she was trying to tell me the correct way to go.
Eventually I got the hint, and the next thing I know I’m on a paved road on the way to the school. My body and mind had shut down long ago though, and at every intersection I would stop and try to figure out where to go. Luckily the two runners I had passed earlier were within earshot, and they yelled directions to me.
A couple left turns later and there it was, the finish line. The moment I had been waiting for since January. I crossed the line, kissed the Hardrock, and got my medal from race director Dale Garland. I mumbled something to him about his awesome volunteers, then found Katie and Melissa. I had dreamed about this moment for months, but I was way too exhausted to enjoy it. Katie gave me a beer and I lit a cigar and crumbled to the ground. Christian was there with a video camera and interviewed me, but I’m sure the responses were so mumbled and incoherent that the footage was worthless.
I finished the beer and about half of the cigar when I told Katie, “I need to get to bed, but I won’t be able to find the house.” I was so disoriented from the fatigue that I couldn’t even get back to the house we had rented, two blocks down the road from the finish.
Katie drug me back to the house and threw me in the shower. I guess I smelled pretty rank. Soon enough though I was in bed, as physically beat as I’ve ever been. “Wake me up in an hour, I wanna go see Joe finish” I said to Katie, though we both know that wasn’t gonna happen.
Lauren and I were running down Shooks Run yesterday and a small, unleashed dog came running towards her. I was about half a second from punting the mutt back at it's owner before it saw the look in my eyes and backed off. Not sure if the dog did anything to Josh and BLOS, who couldn't match our pace and were well behind us...
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
"The vast amount of human activity ought to be none of the government's business. I don't think it is the government's business to tell you how to spend your leisure time."
Nice to see Rep. Frank bringing the idea to DC. I don't think it will go anywhere this time, but I do believe that sometime during my life I'll see the legalization of marijuana.
I have a close up view of the war on drugs here from my desk, and I haven't figured out why the big guns worry about marijuana users. I know I have to track a lot of people who are definitely a threat to the community, none of whom are potheads. And yet I spend a good chunk of my day worrying about marijuana users. It's a horrible waste of my time (which is generously paid for by Colorado taxpayers) and it allows much more dangerous criminals to go unchecked for longer periods of time. Yeah, I know I also waste time blogging, but as a state employee I am required to blow time at work doing nothing work related.
My fix for the problem? Decriminalize marijuana and spend that money (it would be a LOT of money - tens of billions - when you consider law enforcement and incarceration costs) keeping kids in school. The most common denominator of the people I deal with? A 10th grade education...
The big issue, training wise, is what to do now? Do I throw in another good long run to gain/maintain my Hardrock fitness? Do I take it super easy to recover and risk losing the benefit of all that hard training due to the time off?
Of course, me being me, the answer is to train hard. Incline this Friday followed by a Pikes/Red Mounatin ascent from my house (33 miles for my 33rd b-day) on Saturday morning! Woohoo!
Sunday it's off to Berthoud Pass to run down Big Bird's lame ass at the high altitude hash. Think I have room in the car if anyone else wants to ride along...
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Monday, August 4. Trail starts at the Red Rock Lounge on the corner of Colorado Ave and 31st in Old Colorado City. From I-25 exit HWY 24 and head towards the mountains. Take a right on 31st street, a left on Colorado, and another quick left into the parking lot.
Hared by an all-star cast including BLOS, STD Bitch, MeatGazer, Tonka Butt, and brownie. Live lay, hares away at 6PM, hounds follow at 6:15PM.
I'm still getting hate mail from Pikes Peak hashers over my last DIM, so this trail will be slightly more AARP acceptable. No named peaks will be climbed, so how hard can it possibly be? Hell, even NIPS should be able to finish this one. There will be a turkey/eagle split and, for the super lame, a bail out point.
Grab your favorite tie-dyed shirt and some hallucinogenic drugs and come out for a grate trail!
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
FYI, uniformed military police would have no jurisdiction whatsoever over a civilian not on a military base (I'll probably be put on W's terrorist watch list for pointing that out). That can be changed by presidential order during a national emergency, but even though last call sucks I still don't think it requires the military partolling our streets.
In other depressing downtown news, the humpty-dumpty statue that Net once puked on during a Kimchi hash isn't there anymore. Stolen? Who knows. Maybe it'll end up in somebody's front yard soon...
Free pint of Icehouse from the THL to the first person to correctly identify where this pic was taken. You must be more specific than "Leadville."
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Not too long ago I tested a guy at .4 and I told him, "you know, you should be dead right now." And he said, "well, I do feel like hammered shit." I could tell he was drunk but never would have guessed he was that far gone, some of the real hardcore alcoholics can hide it pretty well.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Leaving Maggie you do another heartbreaker of a hill, having done so many already I had long lost count. After what seemed like forever, we finally crest a hill and come up to a jeep road. There’s a pack of several runners and we’re all dead on our feet, thankful that we’ll just take the jeep road all the way down to the final aid station.
But the folks who put this race on aren’t gonna make things that easy on us. To our horror, we cross right over the jeep road and keep heading up. “No way they’re gonna make us go up there” says one runner as Green Mountain looms. But of course, we soon veer left and head straight up the motherfucker, hitting 13,000 feet for the last time in the race.
Finally, atop Green Mountain, it’s all downhill to the next aid station. But for those who don’t have access to the kind of hills we have in Colorado, running steep downhills for long distances beats your legs up just as much as running up the long hills. So I’m already not looking forward to the final section, but things would soon get ridiculous.
“Exposure. Acrophobia.” That’s how the powers that be describe the next part of the race, and they weren’t kidding. Felt like I was going straight down, and there were times were a fall could have been fatal. Melissa was having the time of her life, as she loves bombing the downhills, but I was scared shitless.
To make things worse, as I was talking to another runner he said to me, “well, you’ve done Leadville, you remember Hope Pass? The final hill we have to climb is a lot worse than that.”
“Thanks, asshole.” That’s what I wanted to say, but I was too busy not dying on the cliff ledges I was running on.
Soon enough, the nightmare downhill ends and it’s a short jog up a jeep road to Cunningham Gulch, the final aid station. Melissa’s plan paid off, as I arrive with slightly less than nine miles to go and almost ten hours ‘till cutoff.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Did have a good workout this evening at the Manitou track. 12 x 400 meters, with 2:00 of rest in between. Averaged about 87 seconds per quarter, still a bit sore from Hardrock but nothing too bad. The highlight came in lap #9, when I had to remind BLOS that even though he has improved a ton recently, he still has a long ways to go to hang with the big boys.
FYI, I averaged 25:45 per mile at Hardrock. That's averaging 6:25 per quarter mile. You hafta average just under 29 minutes per mile to beat the final cutoff time. My goal at Leadville - the big buckle - requires a pace very near and dear to my heart, the EIB standard of 15 minutes per mile.
Lots of high alpine tundra in this area and I was hoping to see some elk, but all the runners ahead of me must have scared them off. In fact, I was very surprised at the lack of wildlife I had seen all day. A few birds here and there, a marmot or two, but that was it.
Melissa and I soon hit Maggie-Pole pass and it was downhill from there to the aid station. To give you an idea of how things were going, I did this “runnable” 4.3 mile section of the course in 1:41. A blistering 23:29 per mile!
Less than 15 miles to go…
I’ve now been running for 30 hours and I’m exhausted. Melissa must realize this and approves my request for a 15 minute catnap. I find a perfect place near the creek and take a well deserved rest.
In no time at all I’m back on the trail, heading up towards Cataract Lake. I’m lucky enough to find Heinous Anus of the Durango H3 on trail here, and we talk some major smack for a few miles. Sure wish he would have been carrying some Ska brew.
Trail continues to climb until we reach the Continental Divide. Whenever I find myself on the Divide I always stop to take a leak, as part of my urine will eventually end up in the Atlantic Ocean and part will end up in the Pacific. This never fails to amuse me, though I think Melissa was kind of disgusted at the idea.
Along this part of the course Melissa and I run into a group of three runners. Two friends are running the race, and one of the guys’ girlfriend is pacing. Turns out the guy had an engagement ring duct taped to him and was going to propose to the girl at the finish. I spent several miles trying to talk him out of it but to no avail. Poor guy, like doing Hardrock wasn’t stupid enough, he was gonna pile on the retardedness that day!
Along the Divide we finally pass Cataract Lake. Trail somewhat flattens out here and I’m actually able to run most of this section. Lots of shoe sucking mud reminded me that this is a miserable experience, but I was able to make up some time on this section. Up and over Cataract-Pole Divide Pass at 12,200 feet, running strong.
Shortly after the pass the course hops onto the Colorado Trail. Still keeping a good pace I move along until, finally, the Pole Creek aid station comes into view. Down a steep hill, through a creek, across a Columbine covered meadow, and up another hill, and it’s time to eat. There have been three helicopter evacuations during Hardrock at this aid station over the years, but today I’m not going to be another one. Arrive at Pole Creek at 3:39PM. 19 miles to go. Fourteen and a half hours ‘till cutoff.
Monday, July 21, 2008
I plod on, taking some rest every now and then. Beautiful scenery, though I’m way too tired to enjoy it. But, as sluggish as I am, everyone else around me seems to be suffering just as much, as nobody passes me and I actually go by a few runners. I keep heading up and before I know it, I’m about to bag Handies.
Hardrock played some cruel tricks on me. And this might have been the worst. The Handies Peak I had been gunning for since I left was not actually Handies Peak, but American-Grouse pass, 13,020 feet. I could now see Handies, and it was a long fucking way away. I was heartbroken! Huge mental mistake, though Melissa kept things in perspective and helped me keep moving. That part of the race isn’t even very steep, but when you look at it from the top of the pass it seems like dozens of miles to the top. Soon, after what seemed like years, we finally got to the summit of Handies. I took a well deserved break to sign the 14er.com log and to pose with some old and new friends.
Soon enough Melissa and I roll into Sherman. The longest section of the course is done, and it dawns on me that I’m more than likely going to finish this race. I celebrate by spending way too much time at the aid station, though I do manage to consume a huge amount of calories (the mac & cheese had bacon in it here – delicious!).
Into Sherman at 11:14AM, out at 11:36AM. 71.8 miles down.
Friday, July 18, 2008
My house will be open all day for hashers who need crash space.
The long hours of exercise with no rest started working it’s havoc on me here. I was tired as fuck. And I almost started to panic since I hadn’t seen a course marker in several miles. I know I was going the right way, as there’s really nowhere else to go on the road, but your mind can play tricks on you during these endurance events. I really panicked when I passed two T-intersections. Am I supposed to turn here? I worried, because I knew any wrong turn would spell disaster for me. But, luckily, I made the right choices and soon I could see the lights of Grouse Gulch. Turns out my worries were well founded – Neil, who has several Hardrock finishes under his belt, earlier had gotten lost here for a full 90 minutes. For the record, even though the course is marked as sparingly as possible, I didn’t get lost the entire race.
I check into Grouse at 3:44AM. Took me over 7.5 hours to travel the 14.5 miles from Ouray to Grouse Gulch, a blistering 31:04 per mile pace. Considering the circumstances I feel pretty good, but I know I need a nap before tackling Handies Peak. I prepare myself for a battle with Melissa, but she seems to think I look pathetic enough for a few zzz’s. I chow down another Purple Castle cheeseburger, crawl into the back of Katie’s car, and rack out.
In hindsight, I wish I would have had Melissa pace me from Ouray. Might have been able to knock off an hour or more, since she would have kept me moving forward at a faster pace and wouldn’t have let me slack off quite so much at the Engineer Pass aid station. Might have even been able to meet my goal of 20 miles during the night.
After what seems like an eye blink I’m roused from my dream world. The sun is coming up. Handies Peak looms. The next section, Grouse Gulch to Sherman, is the longest stretch between aid stations and takes you up and over 14,000 feet. I clock out at 5:01AM. 23 hours, 58.4 miles down.
Melissa and Katie walked me out of the Ouray aid station through the town, passing by the world famous ice climbing park. Nice to have the company. Melissa was begging me to let her pace me from this point, but in a common moment of stupidity for me I told her I wouldn’t need her ‘till later. My goal was to cover 20 miles in the night, and I told her I would need her later and that I was good now. Not realizing that the next place I could pick her up was over 15 miles down the trail.
The climb out of Ouray is brutal Brutal BRUTAL! It’s the longest climb of a race known for long climbs. It’s also one of the most dangerous sections of the trail. At one point I’m on a singletrack trail, strewn with rocks. On my left side is a flat rock wall. On my right side is a 400 foot drop straight down to a raging Bear Creek. Had I fallen off, the first thing I would have hit would have been that stream. Ouray is where runners really start to come apart in this race, and many runners do this section at night. I’m surprised nobody has died on this trail.
I slug past the abandoned Grizzly Bear Mine, feeling the mine is named for the huge bruin that has somehow found it’s way onto my back. Couple of stream crossings and some mud make life even more unpleasant.
Continuing up and up and up, eventually the Yellow Jacket Mine comes into view. I remember Joe telling me that there’s some old box springs behind this mine, and I contemplate a long nap. But the next aid station beckons, and I keep moving forward.
Starting at Ouray, the lowest point of the course at 7600 feet, this section continues up to Engineer Pass, a hair below 13,000 feet. In seven miles. 24 minutes a mile is a pipe dream at this point. Morale is hurting and the legs are rebelling, but soon the aid station comes into sight.
Originally, the plan called for not stopping at this station. The Engineer Pass aid station is about 1.5 miles below the actual Engineer Pass. I figured I’d just tough it out, head straight up to the actual pass, and then it’s a long downhill on a jeep road into the next big aid station, where my crew would be waiting.
The best laid plans of mice and men, eh? I sat my ass down HARD at the EP aid station. They had a nice fire going, yummy ramen, and coffee. Kept slurping it down even when the guy sitting next to me puked. Soon, I came to a realization that improved my spirits – I was halfway done with this bitch of a race.
Entered the EP aid station (51.5 miles into the race) at 12:27AM. Almost 18 and a half hours of running, more than twice my current 50 mile PR. Tony K will run Leadville, take a nap, and go for a recovery run in less than that time. Slow, indeed, but I was well ahead of the cutoffs and barring a huge disaster, I had a feeling I was going to finish.
After skirting some of the cutoffs at Leadville and being far ahead of them at Hardrock, I must say that not having to worry about beating the cutoffs makes a world of difference in an ultra. It’s a good extension of “Gordo and jt’s first law of ultrarunning” – it’s much better to finish early and drink beer while watching others suffer than it is to suffer for long periods of time yourself.
Goofed off with some of the runners for a bit too long and didn’t leave the aid station until 12:57AM. But I had shoved down a ton of ramen, always a good thing to do in an ultra and it may have given me enough sodium and carbs to not totally crash out later in the race when I would begin ignoring nutrition altogether.
The final 1.5 miles from the aid station to the actual pass took me almost an hour and a half. Steep, lots of snow, wet feet, tired brain. That pace is much slower than a bad day on the Incline for me. But, finally, after what had seemed like an eternity, Engineer Pass was behind me.
Texas was #9 on the list of fattest people, but they were clumped with Oklahoma, who probably kept them from being in the top 5. Had the study taken place during Lulu's current eating binge, Texas would have moved past Georgia.
The top ten fattest states, with percentage of heffers:
1. Mississippi: 32%
2. Alabama: 30.3%
3. Tennessee: 30.1%
4. Louisiana: 29.8%
5. Arkansas: 28.7%
6. West Virginia: 29.5%
7. South Carolina: 28.4%
8. Georgia: 28.2%
9. Oklahoma and Texas: 28.1%
10. North Carolina: 28%
Colorado weighed in with 18.7% of it's adults in the obese range. Getting hard for me to find fat chicks to sleep with around here!
See the full results here.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Jon Teisher recently completed the prestigious Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run, a 100-mile endurance run held July 13-15 through the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado, in 42 hours and 55 minutes. The Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run ascends and descends a cumulative total of over 65,000 vertical feet, including an ascent of one of Colorado’s famous 14,000 ft. peaks, Handies Peak, and is held at an average elevation of over 2 miles above sea level.
Runners from more than 25 states as well as Germany, Australia, Belgium, and France competed in this years run. This year the first finisher was Kyle Skaggs from Glenwood, NM. His time was 23 hours, 23 minutes and 30 seconds. In all, 98 runners finished this years Hardrock, the most finishers ever!
For more information on this extraordinary run please go to www.run100s.com/HR or contact run director, Dale Garland at 970-259-3693 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
JULY 16--When cops yesterday arrested Daniel Everett for allegedly trying to set up a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl he met online, the 33-year-old Michigan man was wearing a t-shirt pronouncing him the "World's Greatest Dad." The "girl," of course, was an undercover investigator with the state Attorney General. Everett, seen in the mug shot at right, is the latest arrestee to get nabbed after making an unfortunate clothing choice.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
“There’s no way I’m going down that.” I say.
“There’s only two ways to go, and the other is back the way you came” he tells me.
Holy fuck. I’m standing on a cliff and it’s basically a straight drop several hundred feet down. There’s a rope there, but I’m still freaked out. Had this not been Hardrock, I would have quit right here. But I grab the rope and begin the climb down. Eventually my hands get tired but there’s no way I was gonna let go of that rope. Not making things any easier is that the slope is covered in ice and snow. I’ve been in some sketchy situations on mountains before, but I’ve never been this scared.
After what seemed like an eternity I reach the end of the rope. The slope flattens out here, and I walk for a bit to get my wits back. There are a few more steep sections shortly after the rope, but they aren’t nearly as bad and I get to glissade down them, which turns out to be a lot of fun.
Things get less steep as I approach treeline, though more and more creek crossings are pissing off my feet, which have been sloppy for 35+ miles now. I pass the long abandoned Virginius Mine and head down Governor Basin, eventually hitting Camp Bird Mine Road. Some great waterfalls along Canyon Creek. I see a sign pointing up towards Imogene Pass, and remember Joe telling me that this part of the course runs along the Imogene course. Very beautiful scenery, very easy running along a groomed jeep trail. I do stop here to drop my first, and last, deuce of the race. I’ll see if it’s still there when I go back to race Imogene Pass.
A few more miles and I turn onto the nice singletrack trail that loops around Ouray (pronounced YOU-ray). Head through a cool tunnel over the Box Creek Canyon, dodge some crazy kids on bikes, and soon enough I’m at the Ouray aid station, probably the largest aid station of the race. And, at 7600ft, the lowest point on the course.
I’m greeted by tons of folks here. Katie is waiting with my drop bag. Melissa is begging me to let her pace me from here. Christian and Dave are there with cameras, not believing I plan on eating a Purple Castle cheeseburger here. 8 Yellow Snow shows up with a beer.
I have a seat on a park bench and dig into the burger. The beer goes down quick too. Yummy! Ouray is at 44 miles, and I’m still feeling pretty good despite all that I’ve been through. I head into the station at 7:59PM and leave at 8:08PM. I had bet the farm that I’d get to Ouray before nightfall, and it paid off.
I walk out of Ouray with my half eaten cheeseburger and my flashlight...
Telluride looks so nice and peaceful from all the pictures I’ve seen, but the damn town sure is steep! The steepest paved road I’ve ever run up was Ruxton Avenue just past the cog railway, but that distinction now belongs to Alder Street. I trudge up that, go through what I swear was someone’s front yard, and I’m on a rugged jeep road. Beautiful views of Telluride here, but I concentrate on moving forward.
The trail narrows and I head up Liberty Bell Basin. Every now and again I look up, and I can see runners waaaaaayyy ahead of me. I’m amazed of where I’m heading, almost hard to believe someone would run a race up there.
Lots of snow as I move above treeline. The Hardrock runner’s manual defines acrophobia as “an abnormal fear of being in high places. If you suffer from this and see it in the course description, you will not enjoy that location on the course.” There are several spots along the course where I have to stop, close my eyes, take a deep breath, and not think about the fact that if I slipped on the snow here I’d be in for a serious fall. It actually surprises me that nobody has died on this course yet.
Anyways, I’m now in one of those places. Just a small rocky path heading across a steep mountain up towards the Mendota Ridge, and eventually, Virginius Pass. I finally get to Mendota Ridge, mistakenly thinking the aid station is there. But after the ridge, it’s more butthole tightening mountain humping across some more dangerous slopes.
Finally, after what seems like years, I hit Kroger’s Canteen. The Canteen was staffed by two guys who had hiked in from Telluride, carrying everything with them, including a stove and the ham radio gear. The whole scene reminded me of the airplane fort in the movie Alive. I sit down for a cup of ramen and some cookies when one of the guys says, “we do have tequila here.” I fucking HATE tequila, but who am I to diss the hard work of these great volunteers? So I take a strong slug from the bottle, which I would end up needing to raise the courage to cross the next part of the course…
My time into Kroger’s was 5:17PM, out at 5:24PM. 32.8 miles into the race, about a third of the way there.
I didn’t keep track of pace, but like I said earlier there were some points in the race where it took me over an hour to cover a mile. And this hill was more than likely one of ‘em. But I kept at it, and soon enough I was finally at the top of Oscar’s Pass, slightly above 13,000ft. A big milestone in the race, as it was all downhill to the first mining town – Telluride. Basically, Hardrock goes through four old mining centers: Telluride, Ouray, Lake City (Sherman), and Silverton. So I felt like I was a quarter ways done once I got to Telluride.
Of course, downhill sounds easy but the HR course has a way of making that difficult. Very technical trail, with lots of ankle breakers, hell, even leg breakers. Down the Wasatch Saddle, across more streams and snow fields, past the old Nellie mine. Lots of exposure on this section, but I do my best to ignore it.
Soon enough, I’ve made my first visit to Telluride! Big aid station here, and once again it’s great to see Katie and Melissa, plus my added crew of Joyce and Lynn. For the first time all day, I take a seat. Change socks, chow down some yummy mac & cheese, refill my camelback, drink a few cokes. Come into T-ride at 2:42PM and leave at 2:53. 27 miles down. I’ve been running for almost nine hours. Still, though battered and bruised, I’m feeling pretty decent considering the challenge I’m taking on.
I’ll be returning to Telluride very soon for Imogene Pass and the Blues & Brews festival. I’m glad the journey there will be much easier than what I just went through…
1:30 to 2:15 - Bob Schneider
2:20 to 2:35 - State Radio
2:45 to 3:45 - Mike Gordon
3:45 to 4:00 - Jason Mraz
4:00 to 5:00 - Citizen Cope
5:00 to 6:00 - MOFRO
6:00 to 7:00 - Moe.
7:00 to 7:30 - O.A.R.
7:30 to 8:45 - Spearhead
9:00 to 11:15 - Tom Petty
2:00 to 3:00 - Martin Sexton
3:00 to 4:00 - Tea Leaf Green
4:00 to 5:00 - Rodrigo Y Gabriela
5:00 to 5:45 - Leftover Salmon
6:00 to 7:00 - John Mayer
7:00 to 8:00 - The Roots
8:00 to 8:45 - Black Crowes
8:45 to 11:15 - Dave Matthews Band
ROCK OUT WITH YOUR COCK OUT!!!!!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Finally reaching the top of the pass, where the Joel Zucker memorial plaque is located, I stood in awe at what came next. As steep as the climb up was, the way down was even steeper. I could see the course flags but I still refused to believe they expected runners to head down such a wall. Here is where I was forced to learn the art of glissading. Glissading is a fancy mountain term for sliding down the snow on your ass. I’ve done it before, but usually just for shits and giggles while coming back down from bagging 14ers. Certainly nothing on this level, where the only thing to stop me were the big rocks once the snow ended, several hundred feet below. Had this been a solo hike or some trek with friends, I would not have risked my health and turned around here. But it was Hardrock, so down the snow I went. And as scared shitless as I was at first, it ended up being quite fun, until hitting those damn rocks.
After the glissade the route wasn’t so steep anymore, and I made my way down the rest of the pass. I was running here, but the route was super technical so my pace wasn’t great. Lots of snow crossings here, and the snow was starting to warm up so it kept my feet wet. Once again, the scenery here was something I can’t describe in enough detail. Lots of waterfalls. A big alpine lake. Mountains surrounding me no matter what direction I looked. Wildflowers galore.
A few more miles and the trail hit a jeep road and, after some more stream crossings, I hit the Chapman Gulch aid station. This was the first crew access aid station and it was good to see everyone. Changed socks, threw down a ton of calories, and I was off. Got to the aid station, 18.9 miles, at 11:36AM and left at 11:39AM. Cutoff time to Chapman Gulch was 4PM. Still feeling good, but that last section, with its steep-as-hell climb and suicidal descent, really let me know I was in for a fight.
And with that, the journey that I had been preparing for since January began.
Despite all the miles I had put in since I had been lucky enough to win the lottery on my first try, I knew I was in way over my head. I was standing among some of the giants of the sport of ultrarunning, several of whom had more than 100 hundred mile race finishes. My grand total was one, Leadville, and I had quite the difficult time finishing that. But at the same time I was kind of giddy, being able to challenge this monster of a course and to see if I had what it takes to finish.
Leaving Silverton High School, the course climbs up past the Shrine of the Mines statue. This was the last time I, or anyone else for that matter, would see speedster Kyle Skaggs. While he’s busy running away from everyone, I’m walking slowly, making sure I stay buried in the pack to avoid too fast a start.
After the Mines statue, I ran along the Nute Chute and soon found myself headed to the first water crossing, about two miles into the race. Very fun moment, as all the folks who were at the start of the race made it here well before the runners and gave us a huge ovation. Katie, Melissa, Joyce, Lynn, Tony K, they were all here cheering for me. Christian, one of the two reporters the Colorado Springs Gazette had sent in to cover the race, was taking his pictures diligently – from the middle of Mineral Creek! Luckily, the adrenaline rush from the crowd made me forget the unfortunate fact that my feet would remain soaken wet the rest of the race.
Upon exiting the creek, we continued a steep climb up to the Putnam Basin trail. Lots of faint deer paths and open field crossings. I was scared shitless of getting lost, so I was super careful about locating the course markers (reflective tags with the Hardrock logo on them) even though most of the runners around me knew where we were going.
About seven miles into the race, I finally hit the top of the first climb. I’m at the Putnam-Lime ridge, about 12,600 feet. It’s difficult, but not too much of a problem for me and I actually think, “maybe this is gonna be easier than everyone says.”
The first major downhill of the race is uneventful. I take things easy – meeting some of the runners, enjoying the incredible Colorado scenery, and trying not to pound my legs too bad. All the while, there are minor stream crossings and lots of mud, no big problems other than that they keep my feet wet.
Soon we pass some abandoned mines from the old Bandora mine and I hear some noise up ahead – the KT aid station. One more creek crossing and a muddy field later, I’m on a jeep road heading into the first big checkpoint of the race. I clock in at 9:13AM and leave at 9:16AM. Cutoff for the aid station is 12:45PM.
Even though I’m 3.5 hours ahead of the cutoff, I’m happy with my start. Not too blazing, but it’s nice to already have a cushion. I’m drinking fluids and I eat a ton at the station. The weather is cooperating. I’m 11.5 miles into the race. Life is good…
The wait is over. Welcome to the Panther nation, Dante Taylor. One of the top rated players in the country, Taylor choose Pitt over Kansas, Memphis, Connecticut, Villanova, and Syracuse.
Read about it here.
Monday, July 14, 2008
That's the quote from the Joel Zucker memorial on top of Grant-Swamp Pass, over 13000 feet high and roughly 13 miles into the Hardrock 100. One of the steepest climbs in the race. Only the second climb and I was already having trouble.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Thanks to Dave and Christian for tagging along to follow the story. Felt like I had a paparazzi following me the entire weekend. The print story is scheduled for next Sunday, but some of the updates can be seen here.
Also can't forget to thank my wonderful crew, Katie and Melissa, both of whom I couldn't have done without.
I was talking to Neal at the awards ceremony and I said, "I got lots of advice from runners who have done Hardrock before, and I came in respecting the race, but it was still a helluva lot tougher than I thought it was gonna be." And Neal replied, "You just can't explain this to someone who hasn't done it."
With that in mind I'll try to get a race report out tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
Good luck to all those locals running the Barr Trail Mountain Race!
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
The taper is going well and I feel like superman. Live hared the DIM last night and hammered up Red Mountain.
Tonight I pack my drop bags. Six of 'em.
Picking up Melissa at the Denver airport tomorrow. Then we're gonna run my good luck three miler down through Manitou to Rainbow Falls. Mel will be pacing me from Grouse Gulch to Cunningham, miles 58 to 91. That includes going up and over Handies Peak, the high point of the course and another 14er for me.
Wed afternoon it's off to Silverton. It'll be great to see Joe and Joyce, two Austinites who have had a tremondous impact on my trail running career.
Thursday afternoon is the mandatory runner briefing. It hasn't sunk in yet that I'll be among some of the legends of ultrarunning. Not sure I really deserve to be there, this being only my second attempt at the 100 mile distance.
Race starts 6AM on Friday...
Monday, July 07, 2008
Feel strong, but getting more and more nervous as the big day approaches. Leaving Wednesday morning, picking up Melissa, and hopefully getting into Silverton in time for the long version of the course report. Mandatory check in is Thursday at noon, and the race starts Friday morning at 6AM.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
-The new King's Chef will be opening on or around August 1st. It's gonna be at the old Big City Burrito across the street from Acacia Park. It'll be open seven days a week and have the same menu as the original diner. Unfortunately, the actual purple castle will now be closed on weekends. Which sucks, but Gary assured me that the new place will meet my high standards.
-King's Chef Green Chili is now available at Whole Foods. Gary said they'll start out at the Whole Foods in the Colorado Springs area. However, if you go to customer service at any WF and ask for the chili, they can have it shipped down. I think all of my Austin readers should head down to WF world headquarters and order some. Really good stuff. Gotta love the warning on the label too, "Not for those with heart problems. Not for those who are pregnant. Not for the weak." One of the big reasons the diner opened up another store was because of the green chili deal, the kitchen at the old purple castle wasn't big enough.
-Gary, a former adventure racer, realizes the importance of proper nutrition during endurance events and is making me two bacon cheeseburgers which he is going to vacuum seal. Going to be great snacks during Hardrock. I'll definitely be having one at Grouse Gulch, the 60 mile point where you start the long hike up Handies Peak. He's also gonna seal up some pierogies for me, yum yum. Thanks so much to the Castle for playing such a huge part of my nutrition strategy!
-For the record, since the diner plays such a big part in my drunken adventures, I will refer to the original place as the Purple Castle and the new diner as King's Chef.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Friday AM: head out early for the Firecracker 5K in Leadville. No big goals here, as long as I can keep under seven minutes a mile I'll be happy. Don't want to run any faster than 6:45 per mile or so. Never done such a short run at altitude, should be interesting to see how my body handles the faster pace.
Friday noon-ish: planning on finding a hot springs to hike into. There are a bunch of 'em near Leadville. Should aid the taper process nicely.
Friday PM: off to the annual Blues Traveler Red Rocks show! Tailgating pre-show with $100, Nacheaux Ass, and LUMP. Having Nacheaux there will allow me to combime two of my favorite things - drinking and making fun of Slut Slinger! Really lookin' forward to the show, last year was one of the best concerts I've ever seen.
Sat: Taking a rest day and heading down to Murphy's at 1PM to start my binge. An hour at the 'murph drinking goblets, then next door to the Kimchi hash. Then off to $100's housewarming party. Good times!
Sun AM: Summer Roundup 12K. This is gonna hurt. Have a feeling it'll be a repeat of the Rescue Run when no other runners would get near me because I smelled like a distillery. Needless to say, this will be an easy effort.
Sun PM: Denver hash! Haven't seen those wankers in a long time, glad to be getting back up there to the 4th coolest hash along the front range.
Mon PM: DIM hash. I'm the hare. Trail is gonna be rough.
Woohoo! Helluva weekend, gives me a chance to not think about Hardrock.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Here's the weekly mileage graph. Looks all over the place, but the lower mileage weeks were usually calculated, as I'd feel my body breaking down and knew I needed some rest. Often, the lower mileage weeks were also after a hard ultra. Notice the nice run in February after I hit the lottery for HR and realized I had to get my ass in gear...
Not sure what's up with this graph, really hard to read but it looks all scientific 'n shit so I thought I'd throw it out there...So that's that. Hardrock looms, with Leadville to follow, and all the hard training is done. Frankly, I'll be happy come August when the goal turns to qualifying for Boston. It's hard for me to run all those miles, especially considering February, March, April, and part of May really sucked ass weather-wise. Gonna be great to "only" have to run once a day, and not spend entire weekends busting my ass up in the mountains.