theZeph

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Posts Tagged ‘friends

Squaw Peak 50

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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:

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Written by eber

June 7, 2010 at 7:38 am

12 Hours of Mesa Verde

with 2 comments

Headed down to southwest Colorado a couple weekends ago to race the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde with J Dub, Banks, and Tyler. When I say “race” I mean ride somewhat fast. When you are a middle-of-the-pack guy you aren’t really racing. Not really. More like packing the course down for the really fast guys who have lapped you.

The course was a 16.4 mile loop around Phil’s World just outside of Cortez, CO. If you haven’t been to Cortez, you really should go! Once (that should do).

The trail on the other hand was superbly, wonderfully, amazingly fun.

Well, except for the few miles know as Tuffy’s Rim. Tuffy’s was a bitch (to put it politely). Lots of sharp rocks, awkward drops, tough climbs up technical rock sections and just an awful lot of bone rattling horror.  We’ll get back to Tuffy’s Terror in a bit.

So we rolled into town on Friday afternoon, just in time to hit the local leather and lust bar for a late afternoon lunch. The food was fine. But the scenery unfortunately left little to the imagination.  The photos in the place covered every inch of wall space and were mildly distracting, to say the least. There is something about pictures of scantily clad, overweight, middle aged women straddling Harley’s that makes your food taste just a little skanky.

[shutter]

Rainbows. Butterflies. Teddy bears. Warm blankets. Church hymns.

Quickly moving on.

So we finished up dinner and headed out to pre-ride the course. Oh how loverly was the morning! That course was so much damn fun. Except Tuffy’s Tyranny – of course. By the end of the pre-ride lap all of us were giddy.

Who Needs Cash

To celebrate we headed out to the world famous Ute Mountain casino to sit around a felt covered table, in a smoke-filled room and light all of our hard earned money on fire and then sit there helplessly watching it go up in smoke.

Just to be clear – I am a terrible card player and I hate to waste money. Not an ideal mix.

But, what made this casino trip depressing was not my skills (or lack thereof), but rather the clientele and did I mention the smoke? Holy lack of ventilation batman. I snapped some pics for proof:

Did I mention the clientele? Talk about Zombieland – it would seem the entire reservation falls into a trance each night and makes their way to Ute Mountain, then mills lifelessly about pissing away whatever cash they brought into the joint.

They all had dead eyes. No joke.

It was like we were on the Polar Express only no one said a word. And no one was in pajamas. And there wasn’t a train. But you get the idea. Dead eyes I tell you.

Clientele and lung cancer aside, it was great to play with the guys and all came away with life in our eyes and carrying most of the cash we took in.

Race Day

I was pretty mellow during the pre-race prep. With Tyler and I racing in the duo category I was relaxed knowing I would have a 90 minute break between laps. That was until Tyler beat me in Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine who would do the first lap (including the Le Mans start). I’d never done a Le Mans start before, but I had seen plenty of video of idiots in spandex and cycling shoes stampeding wildly across a dirt road to know I might be in for more than I’d bargained for.

Sure enough. We lined up near the front (go figure) and when that whistle blew it was like 500 people had just been shocked with a cattle prod. Seeing Banks jolt and run like ol’ Bess had me laughing right up until the guy two rows up went down in a heap and damn near got trampled to death. Le Mans starts aren’t as fun as they’d seem. It might have been worth it had all 500 of us not piled up anyway at the creek crossing one mile down the road.

I need to figure out how to rig Rock-Paper-Scissors to ensure a win.

Lap One

First lap went just fine. Congested. Bottlenecked. Slow. But fine. So fine in fact that I hardly even noticed Tuffy’s Rim. There was some casual conversation as we all patiently rode through the 90% single track waiting for the race to spread out with time and distance.

I rolled the first 16.4 mile lap in 1:49 and felt no worse for the wear. Pulled into the transition barn and bid Tyler a merry farewell then moseyed over to the trailer for some food and rest.

Relay races are so different. Between laps you can tinker with your bike, clean up the drive train, fuel up without alternating heavy breathing and swallowing, shoot the breeze with your neighbors, and catch up on some reading. Oh, and you can sit down and RELAX.

I could get used to this.

Lap Two

Tyler rolled his single speed rigid across the course in 1:41. Wow that was short. I pulled myself out of the recliner and got back on the bike. Headed out feeling sprite and energetic and then 4 miles in hit a wall. HARD. I felt like I had been riding for 100 miles! My legs had no juice, my back was stiff, and the climbs seemed significantly steeper than the first lap.

By the time I made it through Tuffy’s Testi Tenderizer I was thinking I was done at two laps.

1:36 was my time and I was COOKED.

That recliner never looked so good! Getting the bike into the stand was a chore, eating was exhausting, and those damn chatty kathy neighbors of ours were giving me a headache.

This relay format really sucks!

Lap Three

Tyler rolled the second lap 2 minutes slower than his first and I thanked him profusely for it. Surprisingly, my third lap was much better. I paced a little better and had almost as much fun riding the 16.4 miles as I did on the pre-ride the night before.

I learned a valuable lesson on this lap. While it is always good form to offer help to someone in need, during a race it rarely pays to do so. I came upon a lady whose chain kept dropping and offered to help. When she accepted I pulled off of the trail and watched a train of folks whiz by. Right about then I noticed the lady had hopped back on her bike and was off to the races.

What the crap?

Puzzled I got back on my bike and proceeded to get stuck behind that train of people for about 3 miles. Did I mention the course was 90% single track? Needless to say the next time that lady’s chain dropped I rode by without a word.

Sayonara sister! Good luck with that chain thingy you got going on.

1:42 – slowing down, but felt like I paced it better.

Lap Four

By now we were into the late afternoon and I knew that Tyler would be getting tired, having ridden all day on a single speed rigid setup, and was thinking my next break might be a long one. Tyler pulled a very respectable 1:52 on his third lap and set me up for my fourth lap as clouds rolled in to cool off the day.

I was certainly tired by this lap. Having ridden over 50 miles already I could feel the fatigue in my legs, back and hands. But I was having so much fun on the course that I really didn’t mind the pain. As it turns out maybe a little too much fun. There is a section of the course known as the Ribcage that was made up of steep smooth drops followed by equally steep ups as you rolled through one arroyo after another – a naturally delicious dirt roller coaster. With the speed generated on the drops you could really launch over the top of the ups. Which is great when you have energy and can control your trajectory. When you are exhausted mentally and physically controlling trajectory is decidedly more difficult.

On one of the last really big ups I neglected to pull up sufficiently at launch and suddenly found myself mid-air in this position:

Any number of thoughts could have gone through my head at this point. But this was the one – oh, this is gonna hurt.

I don’t know how I pulled it off. It felt like I rode a front wheelie at 15 mph for a good 50 feet. All the while wondering when it would end and if I would break one or both collarbones.

Wouldn’t you know? I pulled it off! Somehow I got that back wheel down and rode out the rest of the rib cage without incident.

On to Tuffy’s Tallywacker Twister. One. Last. Time.

Tally ho!

By the time I hit round four of Tuffy’s it was no secret I did not like this 3 mile section of trail. During my third time through I was audibly bad mouthing Tuffy as I rode across his spine. Well, apparently Tuffy is a bit sensitive and vengeful to boot. For as I rolled through the rockiest section of the rim Tuffy reached up grabbed my front wheel between two of his sharp, jagged rocks and hucked me over the bars.

Tuffy scornfully left his mark on my right hip, thigh and knee.

Finish

I finished the last lap in 1:43 and if it wasn’t for the time cutoff and the fear and loathing I had for Tuffy I think I could have mustered one more lap, but was certainly satisfied with over 66 miles on the day.

Road tripping with Tyler, J Dub and Banks is always a great time and made this weekend that much better.

Here are some photos of the day starting with Banks in all his evilness:

J Dub rolling through one of the fast sections:

Tyler going purist on his single speed rigid:

Me, better managing the trajectory:

Wish Mesa Verde wasn’t on Mother’s Day next year too. Would like to go back, but I won’t miss Tuffy if I can’t get the hall pass.

Written by eber

May 22, 2010 at 12:18 pm

i have problems

with 10 comments

I like to eat food.

I mean I REALLY like to eat food.  But not all food.  For instance, theWife joined a veggie co-op last year and every other Thursday she comes home with this:

Veggies

Which doesn’t excite me all that much.  You see my body has a daily vegetable quota.  Once I reach the quota the next bite of vegetable usually makes me all gaggy and such.

No.  This is more like what I prefer theWife bring home from the co-op:

Junk Food

Oh sweet mercy.

[Sidebar: Dug I know you are seeing those Cosmic Brownies and think you have found your culprit.  I’m innocent.  Boo’ing is an impossible task for me…I consume the treats long before they make it to the door.]

Problem #1

Over the years I have developed a Pavlovian response to junk food.

It all started as a child.

Growing up we had The Third Drawer (my friends coined the phrase). The Third Drawer was the third drawer down on the left side of the stove in our kitchen and Mom kept it fully stocked with junk food…much to my (and my friends) liking.  In all my youth, I can never remember a time when the third drawer wasn’t brimming with artery clogging, waistline expanding yumminess.

Over the years, my fondness for treats has evolved into an addiction.  Literally.

Case in point, we ate dinner with Mark and Rachel a couple weeks back.  Rachel being famous for her skills whipped up a wicked cake of lemony deliciousness and combined it with chocolate pools of heaven.  Being the great hostess she is, she sent us home with a sizeable portion of what was left of the cake.  I ate two slices at dinner and then most of what she sent home.  Looking back I think I ate half of that cake.  HALF.  By myself.

Herein lies one of my problems.  I can’t say no when offered junk food.  I can’t stop myself from finding and consuming junk food.  I know where every junk food stash is at the office.  I can never stop with just one.  I usually will eat junk food until I am sick.  I even eat when it doesn’t sound good.  I can’t stop myself.

Admittedly, my “habit” is a running punchline at the office.  That’s not good right?

Problem #2

I am getting older.

I was blessed with good genes.  My parents are thin.  I grew up thin – so thin, in fact, my friends would  ask me to pull up my shirt and suck in to show the rib cage in all it’s glory.  They used to call me Alien.  Nice, huh?

These days when I pull up the shirt and suck in…it looks the same as when I don’t suck in.  Bulbous.

Age and junk food began to collide around 2001.  That was the year we bought 19 boxes of girl scout cookies from a nice lady at work.  One month later I was complaining to theWife that all of the girl scout cookies were gone.  She said of all 19 BOXES she had only eaten one sleeve of thin mints.  Houston, we had a problem.

So what I am about to type is not based in vanity, more to illustrate the point.

When I met theWife in college, I was spending 4-5 days a week out climbing the crags around St. George, consequently I was in pretty good shape.  The first time theWife saw me with my shirt off her comment was “look at your body.”

Today? She calls me Shrek.

I think she has a fair argument for bait and switch.

Problem #3

Further, emphasizing the problem are the guys in the neighborhood.  All great guys to be sure, but all also are incredibly fit and much faster than me on a bike.

Sam is the Wunderkind.  It appears Mark has affixed anvils where his calves should be.  Rick looks like he just came off the Pro Tour.  Erik is almost always shirtless in 60 degrees.  JDub and I started in about the same place a year ago and now I can’t catch him up a climb.  Even Dug – the elder statesman – in an off year, is no slouch on the bike.

Eating junk food like I do makes it nigh impossible to match pedal strokes with these dudes.

Problem #4

With all the riding I did this year in prep for Leadville and LOTOJA I actually lost weight…20lbs.  That’s great right?  Correction, that WAS great.  Only, one month after LOTOJA I have put 10 lbs back on.  ONE MONTH.

What’s worse is I look like I have added 30 lbs.

Last weekend I put on the jersey and shorts to go out and ride some dirt for a few hours and this is what I saw in the mirror:

Fat Guy in a Kit

I’ve got rolls and ripples popping up all over the place.

That’s it.  I resolve to not gain weight this winter.

Problem #5

So I started with some ab workouts.  It was hot that morning, so I had my shirt off.  I was laying on my back crunching and twisting when I heard it.

It sounded like a fart.  Funny, didn’t smell like one. Come to think of it…didn’t come from the traditional location either.  Slightly perplexed I continued with my routine.

When it happened again I was horrified. I had pinpointed the source.  It was a back flab fart.

What on the great green earth is a back flab fart you ask?

Well my friends, a back flab fart occurs when you eat too damn much junk food, don’t exercise enough, take off your shirt and do ab workouts on a yoga mat.  Combining blub rolls and sweat on a non-absorbant surface traps pockets of air that rupture as you roll about…thus creating the back flab fart.

To quote Kramer:

Look away, I’m hideous.

Written by eber

October 30, 2009 at 6:40 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

fight like susan

with 3 comments

In the past year I was fortunate to have been introduced to Elden Nelson.  For those of you into cycling or who like to read a very funny and often times emotionally engaging blog, you may know him as the Fat Cyclist.

Elden’s story is a familiar one – in that his wife Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 and for the past 5 ½ years has waged an unbelievably noble fight against the disease that over time ravaged her entire body (you can read a much better version of Susan’s fight here).

What is unique about Elden, Susan and their family is that not only have they waged a tireless battle against the cancer within their own home, they have taken the fight worldwide…through Elden’s blog and the influence he has become to people everywhere.  His readers include people from all walks of life including cyclists, cancer survivors, those currently fighting cancer, friends and relatives of cancer survivors as well as those who waged the battle as long as they could.

Lance Armstrong is one of the more influential followers of Elden’s blog.  As well he should be. Because as near as a few of us could surmise on a ride up the canyon this morning, Elden and Susan’s efforts have likely generated close to $1 million for Lance Armstrong’s LiveStrong Foundation (including a staggering $506K generated so far this year).

Hence the reason for my message to you today.

Susan passed away last night.

I didn’t really know what I could do to help until late last night, when I decided to send this message to everyone I could asking for your help to reach Elden and Susan’s goal of raising $1 million in 2009 alone.

If you are willing and able please click here to visit Elden’s LiveStrong page and donate whatever you can – $5 is a really great start.

I also encourage you to pass this post along to as many people as you can to help find a cure and to visit www.fatcyclist.com to read more about what Elden is doing.

Over the last month, Elden has changed the mantra from “Win Susan” to “Fight Like Susan”.

Susan did her part (and then some) – now it’s our turn to Fight Like Susan.

PS – Click here to donate to Elden’s LiveStrong page

WIN Susan

Written by eber

August 6, 2009 at 11:31 am

bcs

with 2 comments

A bunch of us got together yesterday to celebrate Elden’s birthday.  What better way to do that than a group ride in the Wasatch.

Here is the group at the top of the first climb:

Top of Alpine Loop

Thanks KK for the photo.  You should be collecting royalties.

What I didn’t know about this group is that not all of them planned to subject themselves to Elden’s Gauntlet of Pain.  As we rolled out only 7 of us headed down Cascade Springs for the brutal 2nd climb.  I should have seen the writing on the wall early as the group consisted of Kenny, Brad, Mark, Adam, Elden, one other guy I didn’t know (but couldn’t ever catch him to ask his name) and me.

As we started the climb back out of the bottom Mark asked if a particularly steep section of the climb was the extreme mile.

To which Elden responded “no, this is the moderate mile.”

To which Adam added “yeah, moderate like Ahmadinejad.”

Eventually we hit the “extreme mile” and Elden wasn’t kidding.  It felt like I was climbing the Widowmaker.

I had held the wheels of the group until this point in the climb, then it all fell apart.  Then it was clear one of these kids was not like the others.  I came around the next bend…and they were gone.  It was only like 2 minutes before that I was right behind them.

I realized I was in for lonely suffering.

Throughout the next mile I kept thinking “this climb is BCS.”

What’s BCS you ask?

Well, I have a friend whose mom is not really all there (if you know what I mean).  Anyhow, one day their family was on a road trip through the Arizona desert and most of the family was commenting on the beautiful scenery.   When they asked their mom what she thought she replied: “nah, that’s BCS.”

Puzzled, my friend asked:

“Umm, Mom?  What’s BCS?”

Her mom replied matter of factly “butt cheeks spread. You know…it’s ugly.”

Indeed.

I feel the same way about the climb out of Cascade Springs.

Written by eber

June 20, 2009 at 12:48 pm

100 miles of nowhere

with 13 comments

Some ideas are better than others.

Elden put out a call for entries to his 2nd Annual 100 Miles of Nowhere bike race.   The name comes from last year’s inaugural “race” in Elden’s basement where he was the only entrant and rode the entire 100 miles on his stationary rollers.  That’s right…he rode his rollers for 100 miles straight.  Without moving ANYWHERE.  I think this idea fits nicely in the “others” category.

This year Elden mixed it up a bit to help raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the fight against cancer.  He opened up entry to basically the world and he also gave us all a little latitude to boot.  As long as the ride was a short circuit he would count it.  And the best part?  Each of us wins our own race…because theoretically we wouldn’t be racing against anyone else.  That’s a good idea.

Some of Elden’s readers had some pretty unique ideas:

  • One guy programmed his computerized trainer to ride downhill for the entire 100 miles.  This idea goes in the “better” category.
  • One group was able to score time on a local velodrome.  Kind of like Nascar on bikes.
  • A group in London rode 160 laps around the Inner Circle of Regents Park
  • One guy rode the ENTIRE 100 miles looping his cul-de-sac (another idea that belongs in the “others” category).

So I decided to try a route that would not only be interesting, but would also be great training for Leadville.  I opted to circle Suncrest and the Point of the Mountain 5 times.  With Suncrest perched at 6200 feet I was in for a pretty nasty day of climbing.

Race Preparation

For a one man race of this magnitude I had to take my preparation seriously.  First item on the agenda…shave the legs (to milk the aerodynamic advantage of course).

And because I dig the silky smoothness.

In lieu of shaving, this year I decided to go chemical.  A friend has been bugging me to try a fancy cream called Magic Smooth for over a year now.  theWife suggested I use her bottle of Nair before I mix it up with the big boys and Magic Smooth.

Following the instructions I “smoothed on thickly and did not rub in”.  Wait 4 minutes.  Wipe off.

Are you kidding me!  It was THAT simple?

Question for the ladies:  why would any of you EVER shave again?  Nair is a MIRACLE.

I was so effusive in my new found love of Nair that theWife said with apprehension:  “I am going to come home to a totally hairless you, aren’t I?”

Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry “did something stupid” and then couldn’t stop?

I couldn’t stop either.

Nair is just SO addicting.

As a consequence I think I am sleeping on the couch for a few weeks.  At least until I no longer resemble a Canadian Hairless cat.

Race Day

So it rained pretty much the entire day and night before the race.  I feared I would be relegated to the drudgery that is riding 100 miles on the trainer in the basement.  Oh, the horror.

Instead, this is what I woke up to Monday morning:

IMG_1911

Dry roads and the sun rising.

Lap One – What an Amazing Day for a Ride

Erik R escorted me around the first lap.  Set a new PR on the downhill…60.1 MPH.  I was so shocked by the speed, I almost catastrophed into the guard rail doing the double take to recheck the speed.  That was exciting.

The conversation with Erik made the first lap pass quickly.  Thanks Erik.

Here is a shot of Erik heading down the north side of Suncrest:

IMG_1912

Check out the clouds.  Living at Suncrest is pretty much okay.

Lap 2 – Feeling Pretty Spry

After climbing south Suncrest and parting ways with Erik I turned around and headed back down the south side to make the loop around the Point for the first ascent up the dreaded north side of Suncrest.  Things were going so well I decided to take a self portrait.  Here I am rolling down the Highland Highway:

Self Portrait

 

Does that picture make my butt look big?

Lap 3 – North Suncrest Sucks…But I’m Already 40 Miles In

Really, it does suck.

Riding up an 11% grade for a prolonged amount of time has a tendency to cause great pain and deep reflection.  Now things were starting to get interesting.  The descent off the north side was great, but I started thinking I still had to climb the north and south sides of Suncrest THREE MORE TIMES.  I started to move my route into the “others” category of ideas.

At least the day was still amazing.  Here’s the view as I approached the second ascent up south Suncrest:

IMG_1915

Lap 4 – Lyrical Clarity

So something interesting happened on Lap 4.  At about mile 70 I started noticing on the iPod that some lyrics were decidedly more distinct than others:

  • “Your engine’s dead, there’s something wrong”
  • “Twice as ha-ard, as it was the first time”
  • “Nothing is real but pain now”
  • “Under pressure”
  • “Had a bad day again”
  • “Your beast of burden, my back is broad, but it’s a hurtin”
  • “House of pain”

You seeing a pattern here?   I was turning into a mental midget (or a mental little person).

[Challenge: I have a packet of cola flavored Shot Bloks for the first person to name the song and band for all the lyrics above.  Banks you are not eligible.]

As I was saying…yeah though I ride through the valley of death.

As I rounded the corner for the next climb up north Suncrest I ran into this:

Suffering

Uh huh.  I was going straight.

Lap 5 – Just…Go…On…Without…Me

The second climb up north Suncrest was quite possibly the single most painful 30 minutes of my life.  Even the descent couldn’t pump life back into my limp noodle legs.

Until I saw this on my last run across the frontage road:

Glen Beck

It was like a light at the end of the tunnel. A beacon in the storm.

No matter how terrible I was feeling at mile 90, it could be SO much worse.  For instance, I could be going to see Glenn Beck at the state capitol on May 30th.

Suddenly I felt MUCH better.

Finish

The last climb up south Suncrest was sloooooooooowww.  Pedaling squares as they say.

I finished.

Here is the evidence…proudly wearing the spoils (based on the drawing my left leg must have carried the burden of most of the climbing):

Dead Body

Recap

100 Miles

8500 Feet of Climbing

Max Speed = 60.1 MPH (descending north Suncrest)

Min Speed = 4.9 MPH (ascending north Suncrest)

Elapsed Time = 6 hours 54 minutes

Most importantly Fatty and everyone who rode their own version of 100 Miles of Nowhere raised over $20,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

That definitely does not suck.

See you next year.

P.S.  Here’s the route:

Route

 

 

 

Written by eber

May 27, 2009 at 9:31 pm