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.