theZeph

namely, fit for a dog

Archive for the ‘good ideas’ Category

I Took It Too Far, Didn’t I

with 2 comments

So theWife sends me a harmless text today asking me to remind her to tell me something.

Which begs the question: why not just type a reminder to yourself in the phone instead of typing a text to me in the phone to remind you to tell me something? But that is neither here nor there.

Anyhoo.

She also asked if I’d go to the grocery store for her. To which me – being a recent father of twins and all that comes with that including…how shall we say…a prolonged time off – responded (below in blue):

YEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

She said “lots.”

With an exclamation point!

To which I responded with this (again, below in blue):

To which she responded with this:

Nothing. Crickets. Text silence.

I took it too far didn’t I?

Advertisements

Written by eber

December 30, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Pierre’s Hole Recon

with 5 comments

So the title of this post is, um…interesting.

But for those of you prepping to race the 50 or 100 mile version of the Pierre’s Hole MTB race next Saturday, the title holds significant meaning – race course beta.

Let me start by saying I don’t think there is a purdier race route out there – it’s definitely the most amazing scenery I’ve raced in.

So the plan for today, was to solo the full 25 mile loop and send back recon data to the Suncrest crew. That was until I noticed on the following note updated on the race site yesterday:

“if you see the grizzly, ride faster. she has two cubs.”

So much for that solo idea. Considering the bear bugaboo, I opted to start my ride at the Teton Canyon parking lot (aid station #2 @ about mile 5.5). This puts you at the base of the first major climb of the race. This climb is a lot like South Suncrest – gradual 6-8% grade up about 1,100 feet in 3 miles to the Dry Creek turn off.

On race day, the course descends the pine covered ridge in the middle of the image below and then ascends the winding pavement.

Dry Creek

The descent down the Dry Creek double track is going to be fast with good potential for chaos. There are some tricky rut sections that sneak up on you at high speeds – I almost kissed a lodgepole pine at 25 mph on the way down. Keep your speed in check here, especially on the first lap.

Below is a shot of the descent down Dry Creek Ridge.

Heslin Ranch

Once you roll down Dry Creek you come to Heslin Ranch – an amazing piece of property tucked up in the foothills. This is private property, but the owners are part of the trail council and welcome racers on race day with food and a sprinkler shower to cool off. With this not being race day I wondered how they’d feel about an unexpected guest in tights. I rolled onto the property and made my way up to the ranch house and barn area. The scene was bucolic, but eerily quiet. As I rode towards the barn a sheep dog trotted out friendly enough with a brief glance my way, then made off after realizing a fat guy in spandex posed little threat. I started to roll into the barn when out galloped a young black colt – “holy crap” I thought, “I’ve let their horse out of the barn…how the hell did I do that!?”

I watched the colt make it’s way down to the other horses and thought I better head back to where I saw a 4-wheeler parked down the hill. As I did so I heard the bark of an agitated and much larger dog than the peaceful fella I’d met earlier. Looking across the pasture I could see a large white dog not very happy about something. Cujo made up my mind for me – I was getting off this property and fast.

As I rode back down the drive, I noticed a man out in the pasture holding a metal detector. I asked if this was the Heslin Ranch. He motioned that he couldn’t hear me so I got off the bike and hopped over the split log and electric fence. Walking up I introduced myself and asked if this was the Heslin Ranch. He confirmed it was and introduced himself as Buell – the owner of the place. He was very friendly considering some random stranger had just hopped over his property line in pursuit of idle chatter.

I asked if it was okay for me to ride through his property. He was very nice and told me how to get through the paddock and over to the gate leading to the ATV trail that leads back to the course. He said on race day the gates will be open and his family would be cheering on the racers from the barn. I thanked him for his generosity and asked if I needed to watch the electric fence when I crossed back over – he replied that  it wasn’t lit up. But he did warn me about his “other” dog that wasn’t as nice as the first (I presumed he meant Cujo). Said he’d seen that white dog chase off a bear, kill a coyote, and bite the leg of a friend of his. I asked what the best approach would be should I encounter the white dog at close range. “Should I stick out my hand and let him smell it?” I asked. “Ride faster,” Buell said matter-of-factly. “If he gets close, put your bike between you and him and hope that keeps him back.”

Okay then. Thanks for the advice.

Making my way back up to the barn I spotted the gate to the ATV trail on the far side of the paddock. I made my way across only to find the gate locked. I picked up my bike and started to hoist it over the gate when…BZZZT!  I staggered back, trying to comprehend why I just  felt like someone had rolled out the defibrillator and put about a thousand volts through me.

Buell didn’t mention anything about the FULLY LIT electric fence running across the METAL GATE on the other side of the paddock. Holy shit.

The jolt had not only knocked the sense out of me, but also shocked the bike out of my hands and onto the other side of the gate. After gathering my wits, and as I was looking around for a less hair raising way to get to my bike I heard a noise that made me pee in my pants a little. Cujo.

He had come across the pasture and was none too happy to find me standing inside his property. In fact, he was pissed. And barking. And running. Straight for me!

I wheeled around and ran for the wooden fence post next to the metal gate, thinking I could reach the wood and catapult myself over both the electric ribbon and the fence in a single bound. BZZZZZT! I swear the second jolt was more volts than the first. It felt like my heart had exploded in my chest. I was staggering around like a drunk in a leotard. I didn’t look to see, but I’m sure the horses in the paddock were standing stock still wondering “what the hell is up with this guy.”

After shaking the cobwebs outta my head I started to panic. I had Cujo racing across the yard looking to take a pound of flesh, I’d been blasted back off the fence line twice, and my bike was stuck on the other side of an electromagnetic nightmare! I ran for the barn, hopped an inside fence and then through the corral to another fence with no electric ribbon. I raced across the back pasture and damn near hurdled the property line fence behind the barn. Bushwacked my way back to the metal gate, picked up my bike, took a quick pick of the fence and got the hell out of there. I don’t know where Cujo ended up, but all I heard as I pedaled furiously up the ATV trail was his horrifying bark behind me.

If you ever see a metal fence with a fancy white ribbon like this – it ain’t no Christmas present. Stay away from it.

Bustle Creek Climb

After leaving Heslin Ranch, you face a 1,500 ft climb over the next 4.5 miles of double track. The trail isn’t used much, but Troy (the race director) has cut back the grass and cleaned up the trail well. There are a few short, stiff pitches, but all in all the climb goes by fairly quickly. Maybe not by lap 4, but the first couple of laps shouldn’t be too bad.

Here’s a shot looking back down the Bustle Creek climb:

The Bustle Creek double track takes you back up to Ski Hill Road where you have another 2 miles or so to climb on pavement to Targhee. The best part of the entire course is just north of the resort in Rich’s Basin.

Rich’s Basin

Miles 16 to 22 are by far the best miles of the course, which is saying a lot, because the rest of the course runs through some pretty amazing country. Rich’s Basin holds miles of single track through pristine meadows of wildflowers and groves of aspen and pine. Have a gander at some of the beauty in the area:

Entering into the basin:

Aspen & Pine:

Range east of Rich’s Basin and just south of the Tetons:

An infusion of yellow wildflowers as you work out of the basin:

Lighting Ridge

After leaving Rich’s Basin you’ve technically finished the 25 mile lap, but I started 5.5 miles in so I thought maybe I’d venture out on the new Lightning Ridge Trail that represents the start of the race and leads over to Lighting Ridge and Papoose Creek (where Mama Grizz and her progeny had settled). The trail is new and a little bumpy, but nothing too bad. I made it about half a mile in when the woods start to creep in on top of me and that’s when I started hearing things. You know things like the sound of human bones being crushed in the jaws of a Grizzly. I got spooked. Turned around and headed back to the start line. I know…I’m a pansy. I’m not normally afraid of being out on the trails alone, but the suggestion that a mama had been seen with her cubs really got in my head. With two new cubs of my own coming in September, it just didn’t feel right today.

At any rate, I took a shot of Lightning Ridge from Ski Hill Road so you can see what we have in store:

We’ll ride that jeep road on the first lap and then the single track below it on all subsequent laps. In hindsight, I’m very glad I turned around on Lightning Ridge – as I was developing this film I noticed something in the shot that when you zoom in is pretty darn scary:

Takeaways

Climbing

Mentally it didn’t feel like I had done much climbing on the lap, but in hindsight I’d climbed about 3,800 feet in 20 miles. The site says 4,100 feet p/ lap – so 16,400 for the race – that could hurt a little.

Tires

If you raced the Crusher in the Tushar a couple weeks ago and you were sold on your tire choice then – those will be the perfect tires for Pierre’s Hole. I am going to run the Bontrager XR1 Team Issue again – the rolled well on the pavement and provided plenty of grip on the one and two track.

Bug Spray

The horseflies weren’t nearly as bad this year as last year, but they are still out and about – best to reduce the nuisance and sport some bug spray.

Family Friendly

If you are bringing your family up for the event there will be plenty for them to do including swimming, hiking in Rich’s Basin, Frisbee golf on the mountainside and rides on the lift. The camping site for racers is a beautiful meadow just below the resort – one of the best race camping sites I’ve seen. There are 8 or 9 Honey Pots setup nearby so you don’t have to run up to the lodge.

I’m thinking this will be one of the best races I’ll participate in this year and maybe ever – at the very least, the scenery will be unsurpassed.

Can’t wait to get going on Saturday.

Written by eber

July 30, 2011 at 11:24 pm

Moab’s Red Hot 55K

with 11 comments

4:35 AM.

I awoke to the sound of a jetliner flying overhead.

And immediately my mind started racing. Have I trained enough? Will my food plan work? Are my shoes too new? Will the weather hold? Why am I doing this to myself…again?

The roar of another jetliner brought me back to the moment.

“Wait. Another jetliner? No jetliners fly that low over Moab. What the…”

WIND! Incessant. Ever loving WIND.

Not gonna be a fun day. Nope.

The weather wasn’t going to hold. We’d been watching the forecast closely for the previous 10 days, our spirits falling with each passing day as it went from “50s and sun” to “30s and snow”.  But Kevin Freaking Eubank never said ANYTHING about wind!

Dread is a powerful emotion. I began envisioning only worst case scenarios.  We’d spend the day soaked to the bone, shivering uncontrollably, running with 5 extra pounds of mud stuck to each shoe, and ultimately we’d all die from exposure somewhere on the bluffs of Moab.

After cowering under the blankets – suffering through an hour of mental anguish – I willed myself out of bed and into the shower to wash off the bad mojo.

15 minutes later, I summoned the courage to go outside and see what we were in for. I planted my feet firmly as I opened the door expecting the arctic blast to blow me across the room. Then, as I slowly opened the door…not so much. Windy yes, but also baaaaaallllmy. It was like 45 degrees under partly cloudy skies. Now we’re talkin.

Sam, Adam (Sam’s brother) and I grabbed some grub, packed up and headed out for the adventure. 34 miles of running across the Gold Bar Rim, Golden Spike, and Poison Spider trails.

It didn’t take long for the rain to start, but we were on our way and focused on the task at hand.

The First 17 Miles

It was a pretty mucky start as we ran up the Gemini Bridges road and eventually into Little Canyon. The climb was somewhat steep, icy, and wet with some exposure to the left. I started to worry about theWife and Holly trying to climb this in the Soob and Murano as they made their way to the first aid station. Surely, they would see how icy and technical the climb would be for their two less-than-monster-trucks and turn back.

Photo of the lead pack on the first climb thanks to Todd Olsen at ShotU.net

Wouldn’t you know it – about three miles into the canyon, here they came, rolling up the canyon. Holly and Cic climbed the first pitch like it was nothing and were cruising to the first aid station. When I asked Cic if she was nervous on the climb, she responded “not really, it’s just what we do for you guys on race day.” Once again, I was amazed at how much seeing her smiling face can improve any rainy, dreary situation.

But about a mile later, that all changed as I helplessly watched my life flashed before my eyes.

There was another steep climb that included some steps – no problem for a jeep with clearance, but for a Subaru? Whole nother story.

I was running up a pretty technical section on the climb as Holly rolled up and over it with reckless abandon (she was driving a company car so no worries, right?), but when Cic tried it in the Subaru she got stuck halfway up the step. And then started to go BACKWARDS! I felt helpless watching my wife, two kids, and one of Sam’s kids going the WRONG DIRECTION down a sandstone cliff (Cic would later say she was TOTALLY in control of the situation). mmm hmm.

When the car came to a stop all I could see through the windshield was a giant white toothy grin and the emphatic waving of her hand gesturing me to “just keep running, don’t worry about us.” I paused. How would I explain THAT to her parents? That I just sorta left. You know…to finish the race as their daughter and grandchildren careened off a 10,000 foot cliff.

theWife assured me they were good and told me to keep going. Reluctantly, I did so (looking back I clearly see this as a husband fail). The next half mile was agonizing as I kept looking back to see if they were coming around the bend. I caught up with Holly and was about to tell her about me being the worst husband on earth having left his wife and children (and her child as well) to die in a barren wasteland of sand and sage. Then just before I broke the news to her…around the corner came the Soob! They were ALIVE!

Okay then. On with the run.

Diet

In all the races I’ve done, I have yet to figure out the perfect race day diet. At the Park City P2P I fertilized the trail at about the halfway point. I suffered through the rumble down under at the Squaw Peak 50. And during my second attempt of the Wasatch 100, I’d decided at mile 30 that fasting was the best way to settle my stomach – that one definitely didn’t work as I abandoned the race at mile 62, whimpering in the fetal position.

So, for 3 months I’d considered a measured, all-liquid race day diet. I’ve been a fan of the 90 calorie CarboRocket for a little over a year, but had yet to try the new 333 calorie “half evil” version on any run longer than two hours.

I thought I would be running for about 10 hours this day and did some research to learn that the bodies of endurance athletes (I only loosely apply that term to myself) can typically only digest between 250 and 300 calories an hour during a race. Basically, the carnage and destruction that occurs during the event places too much stress on the body to efficiently process many more calories than that. Which explained why my previous races have been fraught with gastro-intestinal malfeasance.

So I measured out my stash and kept an eye out for the DEA.

Long story short. I had just about the best race day stomach ever. I chugged half a bottle of CR333 about every 30 minutes and consumed just over 6 bottles of the stuff.

Bottom line, I am hooked and highly recommend CarboRocket 333.

That said, I have a load of Shot Rock Turds, Gu Chomps, Shot Blocks, and Hammer Gels available if anyone wants them.

The Next 17 Miles

After suffering through dead legs on the long, straight, forever dirt road that drops off the Gold Bar Rim I started again to feel pretty good. I’d seen the crew at the mid-point aid station which sufficiently buoyed my spirits and I was finally running downhill – the presence of “downhills” on the earth truly strengthens my testimony of a divine creator.

About this time, I came into my favorite part of any endurance race. That point where nothing hurts so badly that the pain completely occupies your mind. The noise of life is left on the side of the trail miles ago and everything becomes centered in the quiet serenity of now. For me, these are the “golden windows” of every race. The thump, thump, thump of music from my iPod is replaced with the sounds of a heartbeat in my ears; the rapid, but rhythmic inhale/exhale of air from my lungs; and the labored, but lifting crunch, crunch, crunch made by the soles of my feet as they work their way down the trail.

That mixed with the surroundings is the opium of the endeavor.

Photo from race day thanks to Greg Norrander

Now to be sure, the hangover  is a real doozie. But very much worth it.

The euphoric high soon faded as I came upon this broken down heap at about mile 20 and thought to myself matter-of-factly: “you know something? my left leg kind of feels like that too.”

Photo from the race thanks to Greg Norrander

The Shoes

At the suggestion of my in-laws, I bought me a pair of magic shoes for Christmas. This was the first real distance event I’d worn them in and I am convinced, they ARE magic shoes. Ridiculously light. Ridiculously cushioned. And yes, ridiculously expensive. But worthy of every dollar (all 170 of them even – ouch).

The best part of these shoes? They make you haul ass on the downhills. There is so much padding on the bottom you can’t feel a thing you are stepping on. All rocks, sticks, and Hobbits get absorbed in the squish of each footstep. After 30 miles of suffer, you can just open it up on the descents because your aching feet don’t feel a single poke, prod, or jolt from any terrestrial troublemakers.

Surprisingly stable too.

I made up some good time on the descents in these babies, cause I basically said “whatever” and let er’ rip!

Here’s another shot of the Waffle Stompers in action. Kind of like wearing Donald Duck’s moon boots.

Thanks Holly for the Photo

Not sure exactly what my hands are doing in this shot, at first glance I wondered if I was adjusting my cup, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t worn that thing since high school baseball. At any rate, it is what it is. Whatever it is.

The Body

I didn’t do a whole lot of running in preparation for this event. I know, shocking right? But, I’ve tried to shed the egg nog flab over the last two months with some strength training, yoga, and hamster runs on the treadmill. But still don’t think I put much more than 75 miles on the legs since the half marathon I ran back in September.

I was a little worried about it, but over the years I’ve become pretty adept at my patented “under train, then suffer” race strategy. But today was different. I think it was a combination of the CR333, the shoes, the strength training, and finally being out in the church of the blue dome after a long winter hibernation that pushed me pretty hard throughout the day.

I certainly had some bad moments. Had my first ever bout with race day cramping during the last twelve miles. All of it in my calves. The first twinge I felt while climbing a steep slick rock face – it kind of wigged me out. It felt like someone from behind pinched my left calf. I actually jumped a little, stopped, and turned around to see who was mucking with my leg. Then the cramp set in – whooooooweee, those things hurt. It’s like somebody has locked you into a really long titty twister.

I was attacked again, both calves this time while climbing this hill:

Photo from the race thanks to Greg Norrander

The cramps hit simultaneously and so hard I stopped mid climb, bent over, grabbed both calves and just howled like a coyote.

Despite the cramping, there were many times during the day I marveled at the capacity and stamina of the human body and mind. The longest run I’d completed this year was 13 miles in early February. And yet, I was clicking off miles 25, 26, 27, 30…and didn’t feel that much worse for the wear. Don’t get me wrong, I was hurting, but felt like I could just keep on keepin on.

I thought a lot about a saying J Dub often uses with respect to endurance events: “no matter how good or bad you feel right this moment, don’t worry about it – cause it’s gonna change”.

Kind of a metaphor for life really. But fascinating that our minds and bodies can just keep going, despite the wear and tear of distance and time.

The Finish

The finish came quicker than I had anticipated. Partly because I’d listened to Sam who said the last 12 miles was all downhill and as I had yet to experience much of anything “all downhill” I thought I still had a ways to go.

Cic and Holly told me I was only about 10 minutes behind Sam and Adam at the halfway point so I just kept telling myself “go catch those Crazy Ass Clark Boys” and looked for them around every turn.

the Beer Brothers (get it Samuel Adams) [snicker]

And I did. Catch them that is…7 minutes after they crossed the finish line. Dammit.

34 miles. 6 hours and 51 minutes.

A pretty solid day for me considering the lack of miles I’d put in. An encouraging sign for a long 10 months of racing ahead. Can’t wait for the next one (or maybe I can – looking at the Moab 100 trail run next month – that one is gonna hurt. I’m talking like whimpering in the fetal position kind of hurt).

Here’s the data for the day:

The Crew

Racing wouldn’t be as much fun without the awesome Draper Wives as crew. It was a smaller group of wives this time, but supported by a large group of  Draper Kids. I think it’s safe to say they all had a great race – collectively they likely covered 100 times the miles that Sam, Adam, and I did just scampering around the wild. If I had a tenth of the energy these kids have I’d have won that race in like 2 hours and 6 minutes.

Family Dynamics

On a side note.

As I was going through the pics from the race I couldn’t help but notice a few things in the next photo:

Sam’s kids?

Attentive. Focused. Smiling.

My kids?

Umm…not so much.

Oh and if anyone was ever curious about why my kids are always sporting their galoshes – this picture pretty much solves that mystery. Love you Cic!

Shout Out

Remember earlier how I was talking about how fascinating the human body is? Well sometimes bodies have the odds stacked against them.

I spent a good part of the race last Saturday and much of the past few months thinking about my Aunt Karen – she’s kind of like my Other Mother. She and Uncle Galen introduced Cic and I to some of our very most favorite parts of the world and her zest for life has been intoxicating.

So Karen’s body has been up against it since October – battling cancer in her kidney and now on her brain. This woman has just about hiked across the entire planet, climbing some of the most challenging peaks in the world. Now she’s working to get over probably the most difficult mountain yet. There aren’t many who read this blog, but those who do – maybe send some positive vibes down Tucson way to my Aunt Karen. I know she would appreciate them.

Keep going Aunt Karen. We love you so dang much (you too Galen)!

Written by eber

February 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Squaw Peak 50

with 20 comments

I have a friend named Sam. Sam is semi-bionic (more on this later).

A few days after finishing Leadville last year Sam called and we had this conversation:

Sam: “Hey, tell me about that Wasatch Back race.”

Me: “The relay?”

Sam: “No, no the one you did.”

Me: “THE WASATCH FREAKIN’ ONE HUNDRED!”

Sam “Yeah, that one. I am looking for our next big challenge.”

Me: “Sam, we just finished one of the hardest mountain bike races out there. Let me bask in the glory of my accomplishment for at least a week. What do you say?”

Sam: “We need to do something harder. I want to try that run.”

Me: “Sam, that run is a bitch – and I mean that sincerely. Both times I’ve started that race I ended with DNFs and both times I left the race in the fetal position. How about we try something a little less apocalyptic first?”

Sam: “Okay, let me think about it.”

Me: “Yeah, you do that. Think long and hard.”

Thankfully, Keyes was able to talk some sense into him. So we signed up for the Squaw Peak 50 instead; a 50 mile trail run up, down, and around the mountains above Utah County. The race was yesterday. Today I am sore.

Here is the beta:

Distance: 50.74 miles

Elevation Change: 14,000 feet of elevation gain/loss (felt like mostly gain)

Pain Factor: massively massive

Dropped

Like I said, Sam is semi-bionic. The kid is just plain fast. On a bike – fast. Running – fast. Love making – not sure, don’t really care to know.

Anyhoo.

Needless to say, anytime I go ride/run with Sam I get dropped. Usually on the first climb. Well, Sam took it to a whole new level yesterday. He dropped me before the race even STARTED. We arrived together, I went to relieve myself, Sam went to check in. Next time I saw him was at the finish line Saturday evening.

It was for the best – the time Sam posted would have burnt me up way too early in the race. But still, it’s kind of like rubbing my nose in it. Don’t you think? I mean the gun hadn’t even gone off for Pete’s sake.

Moving on.

Course Recon

I need to fire my recon guy. Admittedly I didn’t spend enough time looking at the course maps and elevation charts before race day. I thought we were going to start with a nice easy run down the paved Provo Canyon trail and then turn up Squaw Peak road. Wrong. We ran like a mile of the pavement and then to my dismay turned up onto a really steep single track trail. I’d told someone earlier that I thought there was only like 5K of elevation gain. We did that before we’d even hit 25 miles.

Like I said, my recon guy is getting the pink slip.

Up

That first climb went 2500 ft up over the next 4 miles. Then at the top we ran down for like 3.86 seconds then started up again. This would become the recurring theme for the day. Here’s the elevation profile for the race:


The view down into Springville from the top of the first climb (the headlamp is really just for show):

Sadists

While I’ve only participated in a few endurance running events, it’s clear the race directors for these events take great pleasure in turning the suffering dial up to Bleeding From Ears. A common practice is to require runners go up and down trails that aren’t really trails. More like routes weed whacked into the steepest face they can find and then appropriately named either descriptively or in honor of the race director. Here are a few examples from the SP50 and WF100:

Bozung Hill (more on this abomination in a bit)

The Dive

The Plunge

Irv’s Torture Chamber

Chinscraper

The next time you run an ultra event – check the map. If you see any section names like those described above – beware. It’s gonna hurt. Maybe scar you for life.

I’ve also determined that God doesn’t really like how trail runners destroy their bodies by running ridiculously long and hard in the mountains. How else would you explain these strewn along the course throughout the day:

Being forced to agonizingly climb over and under felled trees in the middle of a FIFTY MILE  race is God’s punishment for trail runners.

Random Hallucinations

When you are wandering trails in the wild for long periods of time your mind inevitably drifts down strange paths. Meaning at some point along the way you start to go a little bit crazy. Yesterday I started to lose it at about mile 20. I’d gotten into a rhythm on a  down hill section and found myself all alone on the trail – not a soul in front nor behind me.

I thought I was either winning or lost.

Those of you who have ridden or run with me are now chuckling to yourself and saying matter-of-factly to the computer screen “you weren’t winning.” Thanks for that, but the point I am trying to make is illustrative of what a lonely wilderness trail and suffering can do to your mind. For a brief moment I actually wondered if I really was winning. Trail running is hallucinogenic that way.

When finally I saw someone on the ridge line ahead of me I realized I wasn’t winning [sigh], but thankfully wasn’t lost.

Then not long after the realization that I wasn’t winning I started noticing a repetitive swishing sound occurring with each stride. It sounded just like the [ahem] larger lady in panty hose who walks swishingly around the office. I was horrified. Here I am running a 50 mile trail run and I think my inner thighs are swishing against each other. Look away! I’m hideous.

After a 5 minute ballet of gyrating, probing, and adjusting to isolate the sound I figured it out. It was the number bib rubbing against my shirt  – I’d only started to notice it when I began to lose my mind after 20 miles. Once I’d gotten over my panty hose panic I didn’t notice the rubbing the rest of the day. No, I had bigger things to worry about – like the throbbing of my entire body and the lake of fire and brimstone in my stomach.

The Rumble in the Jungle

Even with all the events I’ve done (marathons, ultra-marathons, bike races) I still haven’t figured out a race diet that doesn’t make my stomach completely sick. Yesterday was the worst day of all. Starting at the Rock Canyon aid station (mile 10) all the way to the Windy Pass aid station (mile 41) I was suffering from a ridiculously foul stomach. No matter what I ate my stomach grew more upset. Unfortunately everyone running around me during those 31 miles was also suffering from my foulness. Suffice it to say my farts were prodigious and would make a bovine blush. In addition to the toots, my burps were EPIC. My fellow runners had to think they were running with Shrek.

Needless to say I am hopeful that Keyes’ pending CarboRocket wonder juice will be the elixir that will once and for all solve my race day stomach issues.

The Beast

After running off the ridge line down into Hobble Creek Canyon we began the long climb to what would be the race high point – geographically, certainly not physically or emotionally. We’d be spending the next 12 miles climbing up 4,000 feet to the course summit at 9,450 feet. Doesn’t sound too bad I guess – except for that almost half of the gain would happen on the last 1.25 miles up Bozung Hill [wretch].

As I was prepping for my ascent (you know, sun salutations, animal sacrifices, etc.), a guy runs up to me and asks “do you know where this Bozung Hill is?”. Pointing across the way to the monstrosity with people strewn like little ants up and down the face I said “it’s that beast, right there.”

“Son of a BITCH!” he yelled. Then bent over, put his hands on his knees and just shook his head.

Putting that hill at mile 39 is ridiculously cruel.

Sam had invited a couple of our friends (Jason, Josh, and Sam’s brother) to come pace us from mile 33.5 to the end – including Bozung Hill (we didn’t tell them what lay ahead). While running Jason’s wife called and asked what it was like.

“Hell on earth” he replied.

Sam’s brother was so cooked after climbing Bozung he opted to belly slide down the snow on the opposite side of the summit rather than run down the steep 200 yards to the aid station. Suffering makes people just a little crazy.

At the foot of the behemoth (hard to see the people slowly working their way up the ridge line towards and up the sliver of snow on the left):

And on the snowfield:

I was going so slowly up this climb, one painful step after another, that my Garmin kept auto pausing because it thought I had stopped. After about the thousandth bee-boop from the device telling me I’d stopped I shouted at it “I. AM. STILL. MOVING. DAMMIT!”

Clearly, I’d totally lost my mind by this point.

At the summit (apparently gasping for all remaining oxygen):

Going Down

It took me over an hour to ascend the 1.25 mile Bozung Hill, but once at the top I knew it was a 4,000 foot descent to the finish. My goal all day was to finish in twelve hours. I was on pace until I hit Bozung Hill – then there was no hope. Reevaluating I set a new goal to try to get in before 6 PM and still salvage a 12 in front of my finish time. Going down is my strength so I felt I had a shot. Then we hit the snow and mud on the north face of the descent and everyone slowed to safely navigate the steep snow pack and slippery mud.

Once through the snow pack I knew I had to move and started barreling down the trail, desperate to get in before 6. I started hollering 50 yards out asking runners ahead of me if I could get by – all of them were so great, they’d move to the side and holler their encouragement. Trail runners are good people.

I turned on some of the most adrenaline pumping songs on my iPod:

It’s a Long Way to the Top – AC/DC

Wild Side – Crue

Megalomaniac – Incubus

Baba O’Riley – The Who

I was clocking 7.5 to 8 minute miles for about 4 miles and was MOVING!

Until I wasn’t.

In my haste I didn’t see a nefarious root sticking up from the trail. I rolled my left ankle on it and couldn’t arrest the fall. I rolled twice down the trail proper and then bounced off and down into the steep scrub off to the right. I felt like Brer Rabbit in the thicket. Only I didn’t really want to be there. No, not so much.

Bee-boop. Auto pause.

I really hate that Garmin auto pause feature.

Finish

The fall took most of the wind out of my sails and the fast descent after 47 miles on the trail had completely imploded my quads and feet. Try as I might I couldn’t get back to 7.5 minute miles and involuntarily slowed to a 9.5 minute pace down to South Fork Road where I knew I would be seeing theWife. The toil of the day mixed with the thought of seeing her, bubbled tears to the surface more than once. When I finally saw her silhouette coming up the canyon road, arms raised shouting her encouragement, I let out a jubilant whoop and likely got back to that 7.5 minute pace covering the distance to her. She rules. It was SO good to see her.

She ran the last couple of miles down the canyon with me and watched as I finished in 13 hours and 24 minutes. I’d missed 6 o’clock by 24 minutes, but was so happy to finally finish an ultra running event that it didn’t really matter.

Sam who had literally run only 150 miles in prep for the race and had just recovered from tearing his calf 2 months ago finished 38th at 11 hours and 17 minutes. He is either semi-bionic, a mutant, or both. The kid amazes me. He beat me by two hours at Leadville, now two hours at Squaw Peak – I am going to start timing him when he mows his lawn or washes his car to see if he beats me by two hours in those events as well.

Me and Sam at the finish:

My feet and legs at the finish – those aren’t leggings folks. That is the grime of pain and suffering:

Me at home – my youngest took one look at me and wouldn’t come any closer. Can’t blame him really, I was looking pretty awful. You can see the carnage from the duster on my leg, elbow, and shoulder:

Squaw Peak 50. Check.

PS

Had the pleasure of running a bit with Grant Holdaway. If you ever feel like you just can’t do something, you should read up on Grant. At 79 years old he was running Squaw Peak yesterday. Grant was one of the reasons I wanted to try the Wasatch 100.

Here’s what I wrote in an earlier post about my first experience with Grant:

You want to know why I twice toed the line of the Wasatch 100?

It’s because of the 70 year old man who came across the finish line 30 minutes past the 36 hour cutoff time.  Shuffling along, bent over at the waist from exhaustion, but determined to cross that line.  The rest of the finishers and their families were already spread about eating the post race dinner, sharing stories of their two days of suffering on the trail.  A collective hush came over the entire crowd as eventually everyone began to notice what was playing out at the finish line behind the post race scene.  The hush quickly turned to rousing applause and cheers as the crowd stood to give everything they had to help will that man across the line.  It didn’t matter that it was unofficial. He finished. He inspired.

Grant moving along, one step at a time. Werd:

Written by eber

June 7, 2010 at 7:38 am

that about sums it up

with 14 comments

So get a load of this:

LOTOJA Hanger

Hmm…a hanger?  What’s so special about that?

I “raced” LOTOJA this past weekend and after suffering much, much, MUCH longer than I had planned, this hanger  awaited me at the finish line.  You see this year instead of race medals or bottles of Ibuprofen, the LOTOJA race committee opted to go with a recycled bicycle parts hanger as the medal.

Nice, huh?

Do you remember the scene from A Christmas Story when Ralphie’s dad gets the shipment that “must be Italian”?

More importantly do you remember Ralphie’s mom’s reaction to the contents?  It’s classic.

Well, when all the finishers lined up to receive their hanger, each had essentially the same response as Ralphie’s mom’s:

“What is it?”

“It’s a hanger.”

“But, what IS it?”

Ah well, after the tragedy that was my second attempt at LOTOJA it was fitting that in addition to my deflated ego I also brought home…a hanger.

Continuing with the Christmas Story theme I imagine when I show friends and relatives the hardware I picked up from the race the conversation will go something like this:

Friend or Relative: “Hey Eric what is that?”

Me: “Don’t bother me now. Can’t you see that I’m busy?”

Friend or Relative: “Yeah, but what IS that?”

Me: “Well, it’s a major award.”

Friend or Relative: “A major award? Shucks I wouldn’t a knowed that, it looks like a hanger.”

Me: “It IS a hanger, you nincompoop, but it’s a major AWARD. I WON IT.”

Friend or Relative: “Damn hell, you say you WON it?”

Me: “Yeah. Leg power, you see.  Leg power.”

Dear LOTOJA finisher award picker: Maybe a stockinged leg lamp from Italy would a good idea for a finisher medal next year.  I’m just saying.

I don’t mean to be a sourpuss and normally I don’t care what the finisher medal looks like.  I mean it is after all, just a finisher medal…it’s not like I podiumed.  But, I wasn’t the only one a bit perplexed by the goods.  This was my favorite question from a another flummoxed finisher who picked up his hanger just before me:

“Does it come with a jacket or something?”

At any rate, the hanger perfectly sums up my latest attempt at LOTOJA.  Just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong:

  • For the second start in a row I dropped a perfectly good train to go pee about 10 miles before Preston (you’d think I would have learned from the first time)
  • For the second start in a row I blew myself up trying to catch back onto that train
  • I mucked with my front derailleur the day before the race and wouldn’t you know it – I screwed it up royally trying to fix it.  Rather than drive the extra 5 miles to Revolution I drove it down the hill to Canyon.  I really like to buy my bikes from Canyon (they usually give me great deals), but I have yet to have one of their mechanics actually make my bike any better than it was before I brought it in.  Consequently, I couldn’t shift down into my small ring on the way up Strawberry. Ugh.
  • When the support wagon pulled up I asked if they had any lube (to quiet my uber squeaky pulleys).  The nice old lady said “sure I’ll get you some”.  She handed me a patch kit.  “No, no –  I said do you have any lube.”  She came back and handed me ANOTHER patch kit – this one just had different packaging.  I politely said thanks and went on my squeaky pulley way.
  • I just can’t seem to figure out that blasted climb up Strawberry.  Each year I feel like I am packing a gnu on my back up that thing.  It may be the thrashing I give my legs trying to hook back on to trains before Preston, but I don’t know.  I hate that climb.
  • I missed my support crew at two aid stations.  Not one, but TWO.  Give them a little credit – the traffic was terrible.  I had already used my emergency CarboRocket at the top of Strawberry so this was a huge blow.  I tried to choke down aid station Gatorade instead.  Consequently, I had a massive gut ache between Afton and Alpine.
  • What sucked worse than not having any CR, was missing the chance to see theWife’s smiling face at the aid stations.  Even though I was a horses ass in Montpelier she still makes me feel so much better when I see her at an aid station. (thanks for the support Cic)
  • The feet, oh the FEET!  I don’t know what was going on, but from the bottom of Salt to the finish my feet hurt like the dickens. I rode the last 80 miles with all of my buckles and velcro undone.
  • After letting Rob J and Erik R pull for the bulk of the last 20 miles (Rob J pulled for a ridiculous amount of time from Afton on in – thanks Rob) I sprinted for the “win” at the finish.  I know…nice move jackass.  I wouldn’t have done it.  In fact I told myself at the 4K, 3K, 2K, and 1K marks to let one of those guys have it for doing all of the work – then two idiots who hadn’t pulled a second from Afton came from behind and jumped for the line.  I wasn’t about to let them take the “win”.  I beat them both by a couple bike lengths.

So all in all, it was not a fun day at LOTOJA.  On Saturday I was sure I wasn’t doing it again.  Today…a little less sure.

Some of the positives I took from the day included:

  • Feeling really strong up Geneva and Salt.  Didn’t get passed and in turn passed a bunch of people.
  • Felt strong on the sprint to the finish.  Although the two yahoos I beat to the line may have been slouches for all I know.  Their race etiquette certainly was slouch-like. It did feel good to blast down the lane just inside the barriers to beat them.

It was really good to be there with friends and kudos to Sam, Rick, Mark, Erik, Jamie, Whitney, JJ, Steve, Brad R, Dave R plus a slew of other friends who went out and made it happen.  An especially BIG kudos goes out to J Dub who rode that thing into the dark on a recently broken hand.

Maybe next year.

Then again, maybe not.

Written by eber

September 15, 2009 at 6:18 am

it is good medicine

with 10 comments

This post may seem a bit irrelevant given it has been three weeks since the race, but it took me some time to process what exactly happened at the Leadville 100.  So consider this my race report.

Those of us who participate in endurance events get this question a lot:

“So why do you do it?”

6 years ago, when I was attempting the Wasatch 100 endurance run I would tell them “it’s family peer pressure”, because theWife’s father and brother have run that masochism every year for as far back as I can remember.

After Leadville, however, I started to understand exactly why we do these things.

It’s about the people.

We’ve all seen the inspiring story of Rick and Dick Hoyt:

Similar accounts have become television specials or screenplays, but there are thousands more stories happening in races across the country every year that only those who were there can attest.  For those of us participating, there is something incredibly intimate about witnessing such manifestations of life…in person.

You want to know why I twice toed the line of the Wasatch 100?

It’s because of the 70 year old man who crossed the finish line 30 minutes past the 36 hour cutoff time.  Shuffling along, bent over at the waist from exhaustion, but determined to cross that line.  The rest of the finishers and their families were already spread about eating the post race dinner, sharing stories of their two days of suffering on the trail when a collective hush came over the entire crowd as eventually everyone began to notice what was playing out at the finish line behind the post race scene.  The hush turned to rousing applause and cheers as the crowd stood to give everything they had to help will that man across the line.  It didn’t matter that it was unofficial. He finished. He inspired.

Or because of theWife’s dad, who on his first attempt of the Wasatch 100 hobbled into the last aid station at mile 92, well past the cutoff time.  The race volunteers told him he had to abandon, he would never make it, the race for him was over.  David –  exhausted, discouraged, but not beaten – looked the volunteer in the eyes and said “you don’t tell someone who has come 92 miles, to stop going.”  He then picked himself up and hobbled on a bad knee across the last 8 miles in the dark to what 5 hours earlier had been the finish line.  By the time David arrived, everyone had cleaned up and gone home.

Every day I see bad examples of the human spirit.  In the headlines, during the commute, around the office, even in some of the same races that bring out the best in people.

But when, DT crossed the finish line at Leadville in 12:01, despite no one (and I mean NO ONE) giving him any odds of finishing, those bad examples are wiped from memory.  Especially when you hear DT, in tears, tell you it was the words of his daughter echoing in his mind that compelled him to finish:

“Win the race, Daddy, win the race.”

That’s why I do it.

My friends Dug and Holly had a similar experience at Leadville…only they didn’t see the ending, just the drama.  After the final gun went off, signaling the official end of the race, they noticed a wife and two small children still waiting for their dad to finish. In Dug’s words:

“Holly and I turned around and saw her. Standing just over the finish line, holding a hand-scripted sign of pride for her man. And her two small children standing next to her, their hero-dad’s race number painted on their foreheads. All of them openly weeping, standing stock still.”

I don’t know if the guy they were waiting for actually finished the race. But as he suffered along those final miles, using every ounce of strength he could muster to turn those cranks just one more time.  Then one more time.  One. More. Time. I am certain, in his mind’s eye he could see his family waiting at the finish line and he could probably hear them saying…win the race Daddy, win the race.

That’s why I do it.

During one of the Ironman specials NBC airs each October, Al Trautwig said something very insightful during his voice over for the Hoyt segment:

“If you have ever searched for the meaning of life.  Stop.  The answer lies right here.”

Can I get an amen?

P.S.  we had the greatest crew in the history of crews.  thanks to Cicely (one of my inspirations to finish), Dad, Mom, JDub, Dug, Holly, Rachelle, Gina, Rachel.  couldn’t have done it without you all.

Written by eber

September 3, 2009 at 5:32 am

the mistress

leave a comment »

theWife has dubbed the new Draper Downhill MTB trail, “the Mistress”, because when I drive by I stare longingly up the canyon that is home to the trail.

Each time she sees the bruise on my left butt cheek (compliments of the bridge at the top and the lesson it taught me about speed and narrow passages) she calls it the “lipstick on the collar”.

I can’t stop thinking about it – I am braving the cold early tomorrow morning to make another run. Surely theWife will mention something about me clandestinely sneaking out of bed to visit “her”.

Can you hear “her” song:

Go to sleep, little baby.

Go to sleep, little baby.

Your mommas gone away and your daddy’s gonna stay

Didn’t leave nobody but the baby

I can still hear Sam holler “I seen ’em first!”

I have to go now…I am getting a little flushed writing about it.

Written by eber

June 10, 2009 at 6:48 am

Posted in biking, good ideas, s & m