Sunday, November 4, 2012

Zoic and Reach The Peak

Maggie and I are extremely excited to now be working with Zoic.  I have been wearing Zoic mountain bike shorts all summer... hands down they are the best, coolest, most functional all around biking shorts I have ever worn.  Zoic, based out of San Diego, CA makes a wide range of mountain biking apparel that is not only amazingly functional, but extremely fashionable and cool.  As we start our bike tour in New Zealand next week, having clothes that can be used both as something to bike in and hangout is invaluable.  Zoic is an awesome company to work with and their product is a perfect fit for Maggie and I.  I would recommend all of Zoic's product to anyone who bikes, mountain bikes or bike tours.

Reach The Peak-
Late last week I found out about a race that is literally in my parent's back yard... Black Mountain Open Space Park.  Reach the Peak is an awesome event that has: an up-hill and down-hill mountain biking time trial that can be combined with a 4 mile trail run for the Mountain Duathlon, a 4 mile  Trail Run, an 8 mile Mountain Adventure race (running and orienteering sort of event), a kids 1 mile event that has fun obstacles and finally a 3 hour Endurance Challenge where you see how many laps you can do up Black Mountain in 3 hours.  The biking, trail race and endurance challenge goes up a and down Black Mountain on trails for 4 miles with 900 feet to total climbing.  What an awesome menu of trail fun!  Finally, Reach the Peak is put on by Outdoor Outreach an organization supporting at risk youth with amazing confidence building excursions in the outdoors.  Outdoor Outreach managed to raise $30,000 for their programs at this weekends event.
I decided to run the Endurance Challenge but stand at the start line for 5 minutes (yes, the competition would get a head start) after the gun so that I could also run the single loop trail race.

It was odd to have the competition for the 3 hour endurance challenge leave with out me, but 5 minutes late we were off.  A high school guy took the lead at the start with me and a very fit looking dude right behind me.  My legs felt very flat and tired going up the steep hill at the start after a solid week of training and quite a bit of bike touring up the southern California coast.  I kept in contact and we all 3 went up the first mile together.  Shortly after a mile I took the lead and the guy behind me followed.  Things were fast and everyone was working hard, there were some fast and talented dudes running this trail race.  By the top of Black Mountain at the turn around I had maybe a 20ish second gap on second place.  I gained some confidence and was feeling warmed up cruising back down the steep and sometimes technical trail down to the finish.   I was drinking my Vitargo in my hand water bottle keeping my energy levels high.
Race Start with my speedy competition on the right

Then, I looked back with less than a mile to go and I had my competition less than 30 feet back.  I sprinted ahead and made a serious surge in hopes of leaving him behind again.  With less than a quarter mile to go on the last descent to the finish line I had a 20+ second lead again.  I ran 24 minutes for the 4 mile 900 foot climbing run (21 minutes was the fastest bike time trial with a 18 up 2 down split), now it was time to run up and down for another two and a half hours.  Just before the summit on the first lap I had caught the leader in the endurance race, but he was impressively not far behind me on the second lap.  The day was turning out to be a real challenge of a race.  I filled up my bottle with more Vitargo and began the next climb.  I ran around a 31 minute split for the second lap, then 34 minute split on the 3rd, I was feeling really good with the pace relatively comfortable and I was able to cheer on the other racers, but the guy behind me was slowly catching me.  On the fourth lap, I picked it back up and ran a 31 split again and gained a little more of a lead.  On the 5th lap, I was getting tired but not hard race fatigue.  My competition was fading and it looked like I was going to easily run 5 laps, with the old course record being 4 laps.  I finished with my Dad, Felix and Maggie at the finish line in 2:44 or so minutes.  Maybe I could have pushed for 5.5 laps, but I was satisfied with jogging back and running in with the couple guys behind me.

Overal an awesome race.  I had never run a race where you go for laps in a set time and I had certainly never done a 4 mile race that turned into a 3 hour race... fun.  This was a great event for a great cause.

Up next.... New Zealand's South Island on Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Zealand Transition

Sweet Dreams of Trail Running
After my trip to Virginia to race the Grindstone 100 mile and visit Matt and his family, we have been preparing for our trip to New Zealand.  Buying bike panniers, fenders, clothes, equipment, storing our stuff (thanks BirdDog!), driving the camper to the San Luis valley on Mike's land for storage (thanks Mike!), etc... has kept us busy and for the most part, out of the mountains.  Brian and Renee's house in Boulder was home base for about a week (thanks guys!) while we did all this "stuff".
Felix and Marcus enjoying a snuggle

Recovery has been going OK, running 45 minutes to an hour and a half starting Tuesday after the race and then moving to an hour and a half or so a day with some tempo work with Marcus one day and some running around Chautauqua.  Also essential, was some body work from Marcus to speed up some lingering muscle funk.  
Sangre De Cristos

Rainbow Over Twin Lakes

Sand Diego-
With the bikes loaded in bike boxes, gear packed in panniers and backpacks and Felix rolling in the Chariot, BirdDog dropped us off at DIA Saturday where we flew to visit my family in San Diego before flying out of LAX on November 6th for New Zealand.

Long Run Around Laguna Mountain-
The day after we arrived, I went for a 22ish mile long run around Laguna Mountain outside of Alpine which is about an hour out of San Diego.  I was utterly surprised by the outstanding mountain trail running in that area.  With elevations up to 6,000 feet, huge pines and impressive meadows, ridge lines, vitas and views, I am now certainly considering the San Diego 100 Mile, which runs around the mountains surrounding Laguna Mountain.  Even better than the trail running was the great company, Scott Crellin (RD for a 100K in SD), Scott Mills (RD for SD 100M and Ultra LEGEND), Russell Nadel (Injinji Man) and two other very cool guys whose names I can't recall at the moment.

The Kepler Challenge-
I have started to train in earnest for the Kepler Challenge 60K, which takes place in NZ on December 1st.  Besides being an EPIC trail loop course in Fiordland National Park, Kepler has a great history, is very well organized and supported and attracts some high end talent with good prize money and a $5,000 bonus for a new course record.  I have now transitioned to a weekly training routine that consists of a tempo, a hard effort up and down hill workout and a 25-30 mile long run with some "up-pace" running in the middle.  The weekly tempo run, which will range from 45 minutes (today) to maybe 75 minutes, is essential,  as the first 5K of the race is relatively flat and the last 36K is downhill or flat.  The average winning time at Kepler is just under 5hrs (with 3,900 feet of climbing), which equates to an average pace of just over 8 minutes/mile and the course record of 4:37, set in 2005, was at a speedy 7:24 minute mile average.  It would appear that the Kepler Challenge 60K is very much comparable to the Chuckanut 50K course, but with more climbing, and an extra 10K of running.  I am really excited to head to New Zealand and to race Kepler.  The training routine change in preparation for Kepler is a big shift from what I have been doing over the last 6+ months, but it is honestly fun to be doing some faster running.

I MUST thank Hamish Travers from New Zealand.  Hamish is friends of Cam, who we used to live with in Boulder and he has been a huge, huge help in planning for our trip.  Aside from recommending trail races in NZ, Hamish has gone above and beyond linking us up with several people to show us their local trails in NZ AND provide us with a place for us to stay.  Having locals show you their trails is hands down priceless and then to be able to have a place to stay after bike touring and sleeping in a tent for weeks... wow, that will be awesome.  

We are going to bust out the bikes and do a trial bike tour somewhere north of Santa Barbara for 3-5 days, then pack up and go to NZ, oh yeah.

Maggie has been working on getting a web page set up for me to use.  It is under construction now, but will eventually replace this blog.  
BirdDog Cleaned Taco
Good Night Taco

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Grindstone 101.85 Mile… Did it

Matt and I getting things ready

I am so very happy to have completed a 100 mile race.  The 100 mile seems to be the quintessential “Ultra” distance and is often the distance of the most competitive and famous ultra races.  Goals for this year included running a mountainous trail 100 mile, qualify for the Hard Rock 100 Mile lottery and Ultra Trail Mount Blanch.  My first attempt at accomplishing these goals took place at the Run Rabbit Run (RRR) 100 in Steamboat Colorado.  As many of you probably know, I dropped out of that race after 50 miles and a wrong turn.  The Grindstone 100 mile was my immediate course of action after my most disappointing race ever at RRR. (See my RRR race report here)

Matt doing Vitargo prep

Grindstone is a tough 100 mile with 23,000 feet of climbing on a lot of very narrow challenging single track that at times is very, very rock and tough to run.  I have been told the course is much slower than Leadville and a bit tougher than Bighorn 100 (Mike Foote has the CR of 18:36)
I am very happy to place 3rd against Karl Meltzer and Neal Gorman and run 18:35 on this 101.85 mile course, my first 100 mile finish. 

The Race-
I am pretty lucky that there was a race in early October that qualified me for Hard Rock, had an awesome course, was in a location where I had someone to help support me and had some decent competition and history. 
My best buddy, Matt Lowe, lives in Arlington Virginia and was able to take a day off work to help aid, crew and pace me through the race.  Also instrumental in my successful weekend was Tab, a wonderful lady who contacted me through my blog to help crew.  Tab’s crewing enabled Matt to also be able to pace me at mile 66. 
Tab and Matt... the ultimate crew and pacer team

Grindstone is unique in that it starts at 6pm.  After only a couple hours of sleep on Wednesday night before a 5am start to traveling to Virginia, I managed one my best pre-race sleeps of nearly 7 hours.  In general, I don’t sleep well before races.  Karl Meltzer, the winner of RRR and $11,000, my Hoka teammate and the most winning 100 miler human ever (34 wins I believe) lined up next to me and we chatted about camping, shoes and other things.  Also toeing the line was Neal Gorman, who has the Grand Slam record time, a top 10 finish at Western States and a 3rd at Leadville last year.  I was happy to have legendary talent and experience with me at the start line. 

I had no defined race strategy for this race.  My mission was just to finish this race with placing and overall time a secondary detail or something I could hope for at the end of the run.  Neal and Karl set out upfront with Neal taking the lead from the beginning.  I ran behind Karl anywhere from 10 meters to 300 meters behind.  I noticed a “1 Mile To Go” sign that I began to imagine how excited I would be to see.  I also had short little fantasy of hiding, going to sleep then running back. Bad.  I stayed relaxed and comfortable and, as almost always, I was quickly by myself.  I had all the mileage between aid stations tattooed with sharpie on my arms with the aid stations Matt and Tab were crewing underlined.  Aside form knowing it was out and back, on trails, had 23,000 feet of climbing spread over what I thought was two bigger climbs repeated on the way back, I had no course knowledge or experience.  Had I been up front battling Neal and Karl, that could have been a bad thing, but that wasn’t the case.
The dark came quick as we ran up to the prominent ridgeline in Shenandoah.  There was a good amount of power hiking up the steep gravel before I saw Neal coming back down from punching a hole in his bib and returning back down.   After finding the punch with Karl we were on our way down and onto some technical single track with tons of loose rock. 

I was at about mile 12-15 when I experienced the most challenging, mentally grueling and depressing section of running of my life.  It was pitch black, I was by myself, I felt frustrating flat, slow and miserable and I had 85 miles to go and it was around the time I would normally be thinking about going to bed.  I entertained myself looking at the numerous little spiders that shimmered like a green-blue diamond in my headlamp.  I saw deer, I saw a number of cool frogs standing confused in the trail.  Most exciting was seeing a fairly long beige and brown snake in the middle of the trail… it sure did scare me.  Despite all this wonderful entertainment, I was hating life.  I yearned for the each aid station’s warmth, life and positive energy.  Before each aid station I dreamed of sitting down and relaxing.  I loved smelling the smoke of the large campfires before I quite got there.  At aid stations, I did sit down.  It sounds like a bad idea but at nearly every aid station I grabbed a chair and sat in front of the tables.  I never got sucked into taking a nap or lingering but indulged in the bit of a break.  I kept the Vitargo intake at a high level hitting about 350-375 calories per hour mixed into my single hand water bottle.  I never had much of any “real” food.  Vitargo keeps me full and fueled indeed. 

After the aid stations, I would leave encouraged along with a sense of accomplishment of getting to a never check point.  The confidence didn’t last long and overall I was miserable.  I had no particular ache, strain or problem, the body was “ok”, just flat, tired and mentally in hell.  I know, sounds horrible, but I have to tell it as it is.  At one point around mile 20 something, while fiddling with my bottle I totally tripped and fell on my face.  I had no shirt on, as it was pretty warm and humid all night and as I landed my water bottle shot sticky Vitargo all over my chest, arm and neck.  I had no real injury to report after the fall except some small scratches.  As I ran the next 5 miles I grabbed leaves off the bushes and tried to wipe the stick off with NO success and the leaves stuck to my hands.  Pretty awesome.  I lost tons of time on Neal and Karl and then at the bottom of the bottom I heard footsteps and saw the light of someone behind me.  I couldn’t fathom how I was going to feel after 50, after 70 after 80.  As I strode into the mile 35 aid station, refusing to be passed before I saw my crew for the last time until mile 66, I told Matt and Tab that I felt like “poo-poo”.  I sat down and watched 3rd place run out of the aid station. 
Neal, Karl and company

Life After Death-
Some how my stay in the pit of doom was over just past mile 35.  I began to see the cup half full.  I knew there were radical ups and downs in the 100 like that of a chick flick, but the relief was even more surprising than I could imagine.  It felt like re-birth being on “the positive”.  In the dark of a 100 mile lives radical emotional lows that I never want to visit again.  There wasn’t even a “thing” or even that pulled me out of the misery, it just… happened.         
I was now pretty far behind Karl and Neal, like half an hour and the third place guy was gapping me by 10+ minutes… I didn’t care all that much.  I was smiling and so happy to be feeling positive.  I was going to finish a 100 mile.  I was getting close to the turn around.  Unlike RRR, the Grindstone is an out and back, something I thought would be a negative, but instead it was a wonderful thing.  I was so enthusiastic to reach the turn around.  As I went through the turnaround aid station, I told the volunteers “I’m on my way home”.  It made me choke up with emotion, it makes me choke up now.  I never again went to the bad place.  It hurt, I was tired, my body was beat, but I refused to go back.  I wouldn’t let my mind punish me like that again. 

Coming Home-
On the way home while pushing up a hill I took in too much water and before I could even think about it, I puked like a cartoon character.  3 huge fountain blasts later I was done.  15 minutes after puking I was pounding my water and Vitargo with no problems.  Pretty funky.  Another little hitch was that my headlamp suddenly dimmed.  I had no crew access for another 20+ miles and I had to slow down to see where I was running.  This could have been a game ender, as seeing your footing on this unbelievably rocky single track with tons of vegetation, steep ascents and descents is, well, required.  I found my savior at a small aid station when a gentleman graciously saved my race giving me his headlamp. 
I cruised on, never running great pace, but kept running.  The competition was way ahead, but I wasn’t at all concerned.  I wasn’t thinking about racing, just managing my own pace and survival.  I continued with my simple, but wonderful pleasure of sitting at aid stations and relaxing before heading out.  At 66.5 I had the real treat of running with amazing company, Matt Lowe.  Matt paced like a champ.  Matt does pretty much everything in life like a pro and pacing was no exception.  I didn’t have to tell him what to do or not to do.  He fell into place just behind me, didn’t make me talk, but kept me entertained and fed me all that I needed.  Matt sprinted ahead at aid stations and had things ready.  Having a great pacer certainly is a plus.

The sunrise was spectacular, the clouds on the horizon created a magnificent orange, gold and pink glow that turned the fall colors forest into a surreal brilliant light show.  The golden canopies and fiery red ridgeline running was awesome, even with the haze of already running 70 miles.  The pace varied, but overall it was steady with no blow ups or miracles…. Until mile 80.  All of a sudden I was more awake than ever and the legs felt great.  I was running the up-hills and bombing the down hills.  At the aid station I learned I had cut 20 minutes off of third place and that he was only minutes out ahead of me.  I had dropped Matt with my up-hill running revival.  Matt is a new father and has been working serious overtime, which equates to no real running this last month or two, so 20+ miles was a lot.    
As I took my preverbal sit down at the second to last aid station with 14 miles to go, I was both pleased and bummed I had closed in on 3rd.  It was time to get to work… finally.  I ran hard, running the entire relatively steep single track, peeking my head around each corner to see 3rd place.  With 11 miles to go I saw my prey and his pacer.  As I approached I actually heard my name, whish was a bit funny.  I ran past the pacer and the prey started to run with me.  After about a quarter mile he stepped aside and we gave positive salutations to each other.  As always, one must pass convincingly, so I gave a good 5 minute surge to ensure I got out of sight with gusto.  After the surge, I was still feeling good and kept the pace.  Not long before I had estimated a goal to finish under 20 hours, but things were rolling now and I began to set my sights on making it in under 18:49, Karl’s old course record and of course maintain a top 3 podium finish.  I pushed and pushed and ran into the last aid station with Matt and Tab greeting me with big smiles and cheers.  It was exciting and I finally skipped the sit down custom and rallied out of the last aid station with 5,5 miles to go.  Cruising into the last couple miles I had a sudden stomach freak out.  In my cross-country and road racing days, I would from time to time get dry heaves at the end of a exceptionally hard race and I was getting that sensation now.  I was forced to stop and produced some of the loudest dry heave noises I have ever made in my life.  Nothing came out, my eyes were wet with tears, but that was it.  I ran to that much anticipated “one mile to go” sign and finished the race in 18:35.  What a ride. 
What I wanted to do all race...

After the race I was miserable and achy for about an hour or two, but then after that I was walking relatively well and enjoyed a campfire, some beer and great company.  I am forever indebted to Matt and Tab for their great work. 

I have been overwhelmed with support from a number of my friends over this last month with my RRR race and now Grindstone.  I would like to especially thank:
-Kendrick for his support both at RRR and with Grindstone
-Brian and Renee for their hospitality and encouragement
-Walter my buddy from Iraq who now is stationed in Japan
-Joe Miller, my skating bubb from back in high school
-Cory from middle school
-Mark from my days at Regis High
-Patrick and Ginny, my mother and father in law
-Gavin and Sara, my brother and sister in law
-Dave Mackey
-Marcus Allen Hille... probably my biggest fan and the best massage therapist in the world
-My lovely wife Maggie and wonderful son Felix… of course!

Your support has been huge!!!        

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August and September ended up being a relatively frustrating time for training and racing.  After being in the best mountain trail running shape I have ever been in back in July, I wasn’t able to get back to that fitness level.  Starting with a nasty cold the week of the Speedgoat 50K (July 28th), I struggled to recover, I tried to force a 50 mile in Squamish Canada 2 weeks later and then only had a little over a coupe weeks to specialize my training for RRR before tapering.  After RRR I had 3 weeks before Grindstone, which was only long enough to do some relatively light training.  I wasn’t all that fit or confidant.  At the weigh-in for Grindstone I weighed 151lbs, granted I had been drinking and eating a lot in preparation for the race, I was nearly 8-10lbs heavier than I was earlier in the summer.  Big lessoned learned here is to manage and plan my race calendar better.  It is far more rewarding to race less, with quality specialized training, than to run frequently flat and end up loosing general fitness due to tapering and recovery needs of closely spaced racing.     

Monday, October 1, 2012

Crew Support?

Anyone in the Virginia area interested in helping with some crew support at this Friday's (6pm start) Grindstone 100 Mile ?  Of course beer will be provided.  Should be a fun race to watch with Karl Meltzer and Neal Gorman racing.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Another go... The Grindstone 100M

Post RRR Recovery Activities  @ Dads of Bracebridge "Hoe Down" Dinner and Fundraiser Bracebridge Ontario

After a thoroughly humbling experience at the Run Rabbit Run (RRR) 100 in Steamboat, I am giving the 100 mile another shot.  With a deployment to Iraq last year, no luck at the Western Sates lottery this year and now a DNF at RRR, a 100 mile finish is well over due. 

My body wasn’t all that banged up after the 50 or so miles I ran at RRR and I am more determined than ever to finish my first 100.  More importantly, RRR really taught me some essential lessons on “running” mountain 100 milers.  Had I been told patience is unbelievably important, did I know walking (not power hiking) for periods of the race doesn’t mean you are out of the hunt for a win, did I know there would be low points, of course, but that wasn’t enough.  Learning by doing and observing proved much more powerful than being told.  While I only did 50ish miles at RRR, I feel I learned some huge lessons that will be instrumental in future 100s. 

One goal, or rather expectation, I have for this year is to qualify for both the Hard Rock 100 and UTMB and the RRR was to be the means.  Fortunately there is another race that qualifies me for Hard Rock and I believe gives me the points for UTMB I need and lastly, isn’t too close to the December 1st Keppler Challenge in New Zealand… The Grindstone 100 Mile.  The Grindstone 100 is October 5th   in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia.  The race boasts 23,000 feet of climbing on an out and back trail route and it just so happes one of my best friends in the world, Matt Lowe, lives in Virginia and can crew me.  The course record, 18:46, is held by none other than RRR champion and teammate Karl Meltzer.  What I didn’t know until a few days ago was that Karl will be racing this year as well.  The race looks awesome, I have support and the body is feeling ready.  Time to do it.  

Here are a coupe videos from Hoka and the RRR

Hoka Speedgoat 50K Video:

Pre-Race RRR Interview with Bryon Powell:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Missing The Boat

Missing The Boat

Run Rabbit Run Race Report                       

**** This is a long report, skip to the "***" for the meat or even just read the last paragraph.  

Kendrick Callaway so graciously volunteered to be my crew for this race and we had a great time hanging out Wednesday through Sunday morning.  Thursday evening and Friday morning Kendrick and I put together a plan for the race, something I found to be way more involved that I thought it would be.  So involved, that I didn’t have the finishing touches for the plan or the packing of equipment and nutrition until 12:35pm before the 1pm race start.  While the plan ended up being a great success, I should have mapped things out earlier for the sake of me and the crew.   

Matt Bourquin and his Girlfriend Allison drove all night Thursday to arrive at 4:00am Friday to watch my race and help crew.  It was awesome having them join.    
Thursday night I slept in 2ish hour chunks starting at 1:00am.  Sleep is never “good” for me the night before a race and this time was no different.  The day or two leading up to the race my legs were feeling pretty good and I had no real problems to speak of with regards to my health or my taper. 
Toeing the line, I was ready to go.  As planned, I power hiked most of the monster climb up the ski runs to the peak of Steamboat hovering around 5th to 7th place behind Dylan Bowman, Tim Olson, Lara Miguel, Mike Wolf, Karl Meltzer, some other guy I don’t know and surprisingly, Lizzy Hawker.  Things felt fine and I honestly think I was spending less energy, breathing easier and sweating less that most my competition up the steep first 5 miles.   Once at the top and through the first aid station, I was in 6th with Karl and Dave James behind me by a minute or two at the most.  I felt good, but not great running down the trail towards Long Lake.  Leading up to the race I was very much insecure on how a 100 mile race would go and as we started the downhill running, I felt things were fast and the pace was not what I expected.  I got caught in the moment and kept pace.  Not long after the top I caught Miguel Lara and Dave James caught up to me.  Dave and I then ran into Dylan at the first of a number of less than well-marked trail intersections.  There was a wooden sign for long lake with a race sign pointing down hill for the 100 mile.  Fortunately, we realized we needed to go to long lake first… something Nick Padatella didn’t do.  As we arrived at the lake Miguel, who caught back up to us at the junction, stopped to drink out of the lake and I didn’t see him again after that.  Almost to the aid station, we saw Wolf and Olson just 45 seconds out of the aid station as we arrived. 

Down, the three of us continued running pretty aggressively, more aggressively than we should have.  Just before the road, Dylan stopped to get water out of the creek and Dave and I kept going where we caught Wolf, Olson and Nick Pedatella.  Nick knew he was done, but seemed to be in good spirits and would end up placing 3rd the next day at the 50 mile after a 20+ mile jaunt in the 100 mile.  Dave took the lead by 15 seconds and Pedatella, Tim, Mike and I enjoyed some light conversation to the high school.  Catching Mike and Tim, I wasn’t feeling that great at all, but was happy to be distracted once running with good company. 
My crew was flawless and efficient and I was treated with a 1 mile jog with Matt across the busy roads of Steamboat.   Enjoying a little lead on the rest of the guys due to fast crewing, I jogged on.  I hid under the excitement, as I knew I wasn’t feeling as I should only a quarter into what became a gnarly, carnage filled 100 mile that I wouldn’t see the second half of.  I felt much worse that I normally do at the 25 mile mark in well executed 50 milers.  I quickly transitioned into a hike up the ski hill across town where the off trail route was only a few degrees away from hands and knees scrambling.  I always feel best on the steeps, it felt like I was taking a break and I sort of was as it was all hiking.  At the top I once again was confused and ended up taking a round about line that added a minute or two to my time.  ALL the trail markings were yellow… at the height of fall colors in a place that is world famous for it’s golden Aspens.  Dave was close enough behind to see my route and followed suit.  Once back on route I saw Tim running the correct route a half mile back and that would be the last I saw him until I was in a car driving down to the hotel 3 or 4 hours later. 

The next 30 miles was the strangest 30 miles of my running life.  I wasn’t feeling at all like I felt I should for the first half of a 100, but not bad, as again, I was climbing up.  I shared the lead with Dave on much of the up hill, casually climbing and going back and forth with each other.  Likewise Dave was right on my tail going down to the Cow Creek aid station.  I was keeping pace, but I began to know I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up.  Leading still both in and out of Cow Creek, I was encouraged by my crew and I flew through the aid.  On the dirt road and hitting mile 30 I was just waiting to blow up.  Waiting to blow up in the lead at a race with $10,000 for first, strange.  I was well nourished with nearly 400 calories of Vitargo an hour, s-caps and more than enough water.  Feet were happy in the Hoka Bondi and Injinji Socks.  The equipment, crew and even weather was cooperating, but the body and mind wasn’t.    

**We were now passing a lot of Tortoises (they started in the morning) and one lady said to me as I passed “you are the WINNER!”, it was too much and I told her over my shoulder “I’m the leader, the leader”.  On the trail and approaching the 1/3 mark of the race I began to barely run, then finally I pretty much had to walk.  I was in the lead and walking.  I was just waiting for Dave and wondering what I would say.  He passed, but was also slowing down and encouraged me, even turned around and told me to look at the cow pie on the trail someone turned into a smiley face. 

Unfortunately the cow pie didn’t work and I continued to walk.  I walked and walked and walked.  For over 30 minutes I walked and I began to really wonder where the heck Tim and Wolf were, had they dropped, had they taken a wrong turn, was Dave and I the only ones even in the running for this race?  My complete ignorance and inexperience in the 100 was at it’s absolute best here.  Walking for ages, I was fully committed in my dropping and having a huge pity party.  While yes, everyone slowed here, I was living in a 50 mile race mindset.  I was unbelievably under equipped to be walking.  I had at least 7 more miles to the next aid, it was nearly dark, I was on single track, I had no light and I had no shirt.  I enjoyed that I was going to be in the dark, freezing and in the mountainous forest.  I wanted to be punished, I sucked.  I decided to stop walking and stretch.  I stretched for 3 or so minutes when Dylan rolled up.  Instantly I snapped out of my punishment session and made the excellent choice in running with Dylan.  My legs were sore, but moving.  Dylan wasn’t having a great time either with a good bit of moaning and even a little dry heave over some gel.  We walked most of the steep and not that steep up-hill.  I appreciated the company and magically my legs, energy and attitude was improving.  I was in disbelief. 

**We made our way down in the dark and things weren’t too bad with Dylan’s light.  The last off-trail 35% slope was ridiculous, I fell on my butt twice.  At the aid station, I grabbed some clothes, drank some water, filled up with Vitargo and was off… in second place again.  After another wrong turn for a minute or so, we were across town and to the high school where I had just a little time on Dylan.  From the high school I went straight up the road following the yellow flags… and missed the right turn to go up Fish Creek Falls.  Apparently people were yelling after me and Fred, the RD even drove after me.  I was running well, confident and ready to run 100 miles.  For the first time since the first 5 miles, I really believed I could get this race done.  I ran most of the 5 miles and 1,500 foot climb and was eager to catch up with Dave and surprise him with a come back from the dead, a dead walk at least.  Running into what I thought was mile 49, I was given the news that I was at the mile 62 aid station. 

*It all sunk in that I had taken a wrong turn.  I wasn’t furious, I was just bummed and in disbelief.  All sorts of things flooded the brain… I can’t run all the way back down and then up, I’m done, I was in second place and pushing, I am feeling good, it is over, I’m done and then… a guilty satisfaction of stopping.  I finally got the brain to focus and proposed someone drive me to the bottom and that I’ll re-start the race from there.  After what seemed like a long, albeit comfortable, drive down the dirt road and arriving at the high school, again, Bryon Powell contacted the RD and I was clear to go.  I was dropped off, running and in shock.  10th place was at the aid station.  I started running on awkward, but functioning legs.  I was passing all sorts of people, mostly Tortoises and right away realized I had not been passing anyone on the other trail, how dumb of me.  In the Air Force and military, when you make stupid decisions under stress and in a wartime environment, that propensity to be stupid is called the “fog of war”, well I was deep in the fog of war running up Spring Creek instead of Fish Creek Falls. 

***Still feeling good I made my way up and eventually caught a seriously hurting and walking Mike Wolf.  Mike was unbelievably positive and gave me all sorts of encouragement after I told him my mistake and how I was all of a sudden behind him.  As I left Mike he said “pass them all!”  I was still doing great and was optimistic for all of the climb.  As the trail comes to the top and flattens out for the last mile or two I fell into a deep and dark place once more.  I was walking, I was in the dumps and worst of all I was feeling sorry for myself.  “I ran an extra 5 mile and 1,500 feet of climbing; it is over”, this was my mantra.  It was frosty cold and I immediately sat down by the fire once at the aid station.  I bundled up and began an uncontrollable shiver that further made me feel sorry for myself.  I had hit a low and I was in the wrong place, a place I could easily quit.  I signed up for a ride down that “is leaving now” and started to stumble and shiver my way to the vehicle.  Deep inside me the voice of Ultramarathon reason spoke, “you should try to run”.  I tired to run in the parking area where the ground was rough and uneven with weeds, ruts, dirt and rock.  I couldn’t really “run”.  I tired once more and then I quit the race.  I quit, I failed myself, and those who believed in me.  I had some bad luck, I wasn’t on my A-Game, but nonetheless, I didn’t make the right decision and completely failed to meet my baseline goal of finishing when I damn well could have. 

***On my way up Fish Creek Falls I witnessed people walking up the trail, in pain, alone and five hours longer at it than me.  I passed people who aren’t gifted as I am in endurance running, I passed people who have 9-5 jobs and obviously less time to train than I do.  I passed Bossic at mile 30, who was on blood thinners and had blood clots in both his lungs shortly before race day.  They didn’t quit.  They pushed on.  They finished what they started.  This wasn’t track, or cross country, a 10K, a marathon or even a 50 mile, where place, pace and finishing times are often the focus, this was a mountain 100 mile.  The essence of this race, and I’m confident it is true for all 100 mile races, is to finish no matter what.  Being convinced I wasn’t going to place well in the race and that I couldn’t “run” at the moment, I quit.  I completely ignored the spirit of what it was all about.  I’m embarrassed and utterly disappointed.  Despite knowing the 100 would be different, I didn’t see this coming and this has been a really tough, emotional lesson to learn.  I have the highest level of respect for everyone who finished the Run Rabbit Run 100 mile.