168 hours with a Flying Monkey

Team events.....beware on picking your partner or your partner picking you. Beware of making statements like, "I never pass up an opportunity to expand the level of my comfort zone." You may just get what you wish for.

I left Memphis on Thursday 9-13 drove into Kansas and camped at a nice state park that had a nice system of trails. Got a good 1 hour run in. Got up and picked Whit up at the Denver AP at 5 pm and headed to Boulder. Got to boulder and went to a pre screening of a bike flic called The Flying Scott about a crazy cyclist in his effort to break the 1 hour track record. The one hour record is famous for tourturing it's foolish participants and this film was definately a forwhadowing of what was to follow in the next week. After the flick we went to Pete Backwin and Steph Earharts house to crash. Two great people with adventure and running resume's as long as my arm. We got up the next morning, chowed, and headed to Beaver Creek for check in of The Trans Rockies Run. We got there, checked in, and immediately realized we were in for a week of media, hype, craziness, euro-glitz, tecno music and some trail running here and there too. We hooked up with the Skaggs bros, Montrail teamies, Kyle fresh off a Wastch 100 course record, and hung with them most of the week, except while we were running because these boyz are really fast and won the overall title for the week. Got up the next morning and the race started at the bottom of the hill at Beaver Creek Ski area about 18 miles Climbed about 1000 feet and dropped to the town of Avon and we ran a 7 mile road section to Vail and Climbed about 1000 feet to the top of Vail Ski resort on single track. We ended up 6th of 50 teams and first in category by 3 minutes. We rode the gondola down and were shuttled to tent city where we got in just escaping a major thunderstorm that lasted all night. we were fed roayally and we experienced our first awards cerimony. music, a slide show of the days stage and a video of the day. it was crazy. we podiumed in category and then they presented leaders jersys to the category winners. this trend lasted the first 4 stages. you would not believe the schwagg. all in all i took home, $450 cash, 2 watches, 2 wind stopper jackets, 6 tech shirts, 1 pair sunglasses, 1 pair addidas shoes, $75 gift cert from addidas, 1 nathan hydration system, a customized duffle bag, 2 coffee mugs, a backpack and some other misc items. it was nutty i tell you. the second stage was a run from vail to somewhere and was about 22 miles. the day started cold and rainey and snow was pretty deep as we climbed and ran a ridge for about 12 miles (11,000 feet) and then did a 10 mile downhill to the finish. we picked up another 4 minutes on our rivals, a team from the Gore company, in category. Awards, dinner, messages and hupla followed. the next morning we ran from where we had finished to the town of leadville, co. it was a 26 mile section with big climbs and it is where i had my best day feeling like i could actually contribute to the team. we did well, finishing 4th overall and put another 6 minutes on our rivals. i got a message and a stretch and we walked into leadville for some grub. my quads were starting to feel the pounding as i hadn't done much of anything since hardrock and finishing the AT. the next morning we were shuttle to the end of Tourquoise Lake and did a 10 mile uphill section to 12,500 feet and we ran probably 90% of it. we then looked forward to an 18 mile section of mostly downhill running with a 4 mile flat setion. my legs were toasted from all the hard running. it had been a race since day 1 and i was feeling it. the gore boys past us with about 10 miles to go and they looked really good. we managed to get to the finsih only giving back about 4 minutes of the 13 we had accumulated over the 1st 3 stages. at the finish, i was pretty much a wreck. legs hammered. stomach in knots and sick. i got a message and headed to the tent and pretty much faught nausea the rest of the afternoon. we had one more stage and a 9 minute lead an my legs were toast. we needed a miracle and it did not come. the next day was an 18 mile flat road run from basalt to aspen. the gore boys were both very fast on the roads and they took it to us early and by 10 miles had made the 9 minutes back and more. they pushed hard and ended up crushing us to take the overall victory in category. I wish i had been more fit going in but i was in now way, shape or form ready to race when i arrived in Beaver Creek 5 days earlier. we just got caught up in it and that was that. it was really for me, a big suffer-fest trying to keep up with Whit. I ran and climbed with all i had and left absolutely nothing out there in every single stage. i am happy with that. Whit, on the other hand was a monster. with a stronger partner, he would've won for sure. oh well....thusday night they put us up in a great hotel in Snowmass Village up the road from aspen and we were treated to an awesome final farewell. the food was incredable the whole race and they spared no expense. (i can now understand the $2500/team entry fee....we got in free thanks to whit) the next morning we got up and drove to Moab where the Skaggs boys were helping a friend at a 50 miler and Whit got the idea to run it. crazy man....i crewed him and had a fun time hanging out in the lasalle mts and the red rock dessert and helping at aid stations. Whit ran great placing 9th overall in a little over 10 hours. at 6 pm we loaded up in the subaru and drove all night and i dropped whit off in bend oregon to his wife and son and made the remaining 3 hour drive to portland to visit Lenore. man, was i glad to see her.
What a week of travel, running, Making new friends from all over the globe. Getting to know Whit alot better, hanging out with the hottest ultra runners in the country, the Skaggs boyz, and getting to play in the mountains and dessert was great.
What did i learn? i learned that i have got to continue to live my life to the fullest. to never limit the realm of possibility. that bounderies are self imposed. that the next time someone askes me to do something i may think a little out of my reach, SAY YES!



Flying Monkeys

I got the word yesterday that I've got a spot in the Trans Rockies stage run that starts this Sunday. It's a team event (2 person teams) that runs trails from Beaver Creek to Aspen. My friend, Whit Rambach from Bend,OR was nice enough to invite me to do the event with him. With no altitude training and very little trianing since Hardrock, it's just gonna be a crap shoot. But, would I ever pass up an opportunity like this......Heck no! So it's off to Colorado to play in the mountains for a week, meet new people, and then on to Portland to be with my sweetheart for 2 weeks. I try very hard to never let an opportunity pass me by that will help re-define the bounderies of my comfort zone. By doing that, instead of letting my circumstances define who I am, my life becomes a constant discovery of who I am.

You can check out the race at www.transrockies.com


Hardrock 2007

This being my 5th year at HR, twice pacing and 3 times to run, I knew exactly what to expect from the course. I knew that this course takes everything out of you and keeps coming at you over and over and over again. This year I struggled making the decision to go out and run. I was drained mentally and physically from the AT hike and wasn't sure I had what it took to get thru the course. I knew I didn't have a fast race in me. I waffled over and over and the final decision came after talking to my good friend James Varner, a Hardrock vet, who said, "look, just come out a little early, do some hiking and see how you feel. We can hang out, have some fun and if you feel o.k. by race day, then do it." That was all it took and Lenore and I made the decision to spend 2 weeks at the 2007 edition of the Hardrock 100 mile endurance run. When we got out there, I found James staying at the Avon, one of the Hardrock hangouts. The crew at the Avon included James (Oregon), Whit Rambach and his family (Oregon), Steve McBee (Arkansas), Kyle Skaggs (Colorado), and Scott Jurek (Seattle). What a crew. The Avon is a great funky old place that is a perfect place to hang out and do some last minute preparation for the race. Mostly Hiking and running on the course at altitude by day then coming home and just hanging out and talking shop in the evenings.
Lenore had a terrible time out there this year contracting a monster case of acute altitude sickness and having to spend several days down in Durango which is a few thousand feet lower than Silverton. Not a good trip for her at all. It was a drag not having her around and knowing that she was feeling so bad.
By race day I was resolved to go ahead and giver 'er a go with the expectation that to finish this year would be a victory in itself.
The first climb up little Davies was tuff. It's a 4000 foot climb over about 7 miles and the climb pretty much starts as soon as the gun goes off. I knew it was going to be a long day right off the bat. I felt like I was pushing really hard right out of the gate and that's not good. Legs like jello, heart rate high. So I just eased off and let the peleton go by. By the time i topped out and got down to Cunningham at mile 9, I was feeling sluggish but my attitude was good. Climb #s 2 and 3 take you to Maggies aid station and by that point already, i was struggling. I just couldn't climb. I guess altitude and just general fatigue from the AT hike were taking there toll. When i got to Maggies aid station and sat down, Lois Mckinzie, the aid station coordinator for the HR and a friend, told me i didn't look so hot. I told her I felt just like I looked. I ate some watermelon, filed my bottles and got out of there before i got too comfy. The next 14 miles take you up to between 11,000 and 12,000 feet where you stay and run thru this high alpine meadow which goes forever. It's a marshy landscape and a hard place to stay on trail even in the daylight. I hooked onto a couple of other runners and hung on for dear life. It seemed like forever getting thru that section and as hard as i tried, i just couldn't get past this drained feeling i had. just no snap at all. I was glad to have the company of Dianne Van Derren and Mike Dobies, both HR vets and we ran as a trio into Sherman at 29 miles. I sat in Sherman aid station for a while trying to eat some food and get myself together for the next long section which include the climb over Handies peak. After stuffing down as much as i could, I got up and forced myself to catch up with Mike and Dianne who had left a few minutes earlier. We hiked/ran the road to Grizzly gulch, hit the single track and started the long, steep climb up and over Handies at 14,104 feet. This is where it all went south. As hard as I tried, I just couldn't keep up. My legs were toast, 0 energy. It was pitiful. Hiking up Handies was miserable. I must have sat down, laid down 15 times over the next 2 hours. Probably 20 people passed me, each one of them asking if I was o.k., did I need anything. Somewhere around 13000 feet, I was beginning to wonder if I was gonna make it to the next aid station by dark where i had lights. I mentioned this to a passing runner and he gave a light he was carrying as he was moving well. Somehow after what seemed like eternity I finally made it to the summit. It ws so good to stop climbing. I wasted no time traversing and heading down into the American basin. About 3 miles out of the Grouse gulch aid station, I was sitting again, wondering what was wrong with me. While sitting ther, a coule of runners arrived. One of them was from Germany. Marcus Mueller. By then I had determined that this ws just not working and if I ever made it to Grouse Gulch at 42 miles, I was done this year. I told this Marcus my plan to drop at Grouse and he said, "you cannot quit, quit is not a word in our sport. You chose to do this, it did not choose you and you must keep going, you have no other options." and with that, he stood up, told me to get up and let's get moving. Wow. Talk about a slap in the face. It was just what i needed to change my attitude and refocus on the immediate. I got down to Grouse where Lenore had materialized from Durango. I walked into Grouse in 70th place straight into the medical tent and laid down and talked to the physician there. He surmized that i was badly dehydrated (because i had not peed in 9 hours) and i should stay there, eat and drink until i peed. after one hour, 5 cups of awesome veggie soup with salt, 7 cokes, and allot of love and care from Lenore and the docs, I jumped up off the cot and exclaimed, "what am i doing here, i have a race to run. i gotta get out of here." It was like I had mainlined Red Bull. I quickly changed socks, put on warm cloths for the night and bolted out of there exactly one hour after i had entered in 85th place. From that point on I was racing. When I hit Ouray 14 miles later I had passed 15 people and was feeling great. My pacer, the best pacer in the whole world, Thad, was there with bells on and we made it quick and got the heck out of dodge. We had a blast as we passed runner after runner and we hit the next pass, Virginius, one of coolest places on the courses at a little over 13,000 feet just as the sun came up. It was perfect timing and we were giddy. Down into Telluride and on and on. We never tired until about 6 miles from the finish where i just didn't have the legs to run the last big downhill. We finally cruised into Silverton in 36 and 1/2 hours in 33rd place. It was so great to be out there with Thad. It meant so much to have him there to encourage me when I was sagging. And Lenore, rising from the dead and taking the train up and getting out to crew when I know she felt like hell...I'm so grateful. I learned allot this year out there. Mostly I learned about patience. That you gotta let the course beat you. Never, ever give up. If there is still time on the clock, keep moving cause you just don't know what will happen. I learned that my biggest satisfacions are not always tied to fast times and high rankings. They are tied to the effort itself.