theZeph

namely, fit for a dog

Posts Tagged ‘suffering

The Worst Acronym

with 10 comments

Did Not Finish (DNF).

Okay, that may be a bit melodramatic. There are worse acronyms.

DOA, SOL, GOP – all infinitely worse than DNF.

But for an endurance athlete (again, I use that term loosely) having those three letters show up next to your name on the results page of any race is disheartening. Especially a race you were all geeked about.

So what happened at Pierre’s Hole? Nothing.

I had nothing from the word go. After twenty-five miles still nothing. No spark. No passion. No energy.

I’ve said it before, the mantra for endurance events is “no matter how you feel now, it’s gonna change”. As such, I kept going, hoping the lifeless feeling would eventually morph into something better. But as the miles ticked by…30…35…45…I never felt better. By mile 45 I was spending more time off the trail than on it while letting other racers pass. So at the end of lap two – mile 50 – I stepped off the trail and laid down on the grass. When theWife asked what I needed, I responded:

“I just need to lay here and ponder the meaning of life for a bit.”

And then slowly I slipped into a depressingly deep state of introspection.

It was only my fourth DNF in 10 years of endurance events. I’ve bailed on the Wasatch 100 twice and missed the time cutoff at the Butte 100 – but in none of those did I feel so desperately at a loss.

When I dropped at Pierre’s there were maybe twenty people from the Draper crew milling about. As time passed, I sat there two feet from the race course I had previously suffered on…pondering. Until at long last, it was just me. Sitting in a camp chair. Alone.

At one point I looked down and noticed I was wearing only one shoe – the other I must have pulled off earlier in the day. I hadn’t remembered removing it. If you were a stranger passing by you might have thought I was a lost, homeless, single-shoed mountain biker. We all know the scene in endurance event documentaries – you know the one, as racers still speed by there sits the one who dropped – his face solemn and forlorn. Wondering what might have been. What went wrong.

Yep. That was me.

Truthfully, for about a month leading up to the race I had felt the same way on training rides…lifeless. As I puzzled about what might be wrong with me , I thought seriously whether I was really sick. Was something terminally the matter? Did I have a tumor? (right now theWife is reading this, rolling her eyes and saying you are SO extreme. hi Wife!).

No. Nothing was wrong with me. Well, other than I eat like a glutton, train like a couch potato, and have too many balls in the air.

I am officially losing the battle with busy.

But sitting in that camp chair on that lonely August Saturday in Wyoming I wasn’t just thinking about the DNF at Pierre’s. No. No, on that day I sank much deeper into the recesses of regret.

I thought about the training plan I had worked up late in 2010 to prepare for a killer race year in 2011…DNF.

I thought about the disciplined diet I’d hoped to maintain leading up to and through the big races of the year…DNF.

I thought about the lawn I was going to mow before leaving for Pierre’s…DNF.

I thought about the horrific mess in the garage I’d promised theWife five years ago (and every year since) that I’d clean up…DNF.

I thought about that side business I’ve been wanting to start for the last two years…DNF.

I thought about the journals I wanted keep about my daily interaction with my sons (the same journals I’ve been meaning to keep for seven years now)…DNF.

I thought about visiting my best friends dad before he passed away from stomach cancer…DNF.

Then…

I thought about dying.

And wondering – when that day eventually comes – what my life list of DNFs will look like then.

Busy is a brutal tyrant. It can rob us of things in life that are infinitely more important.

On that Saturday in August, I learned a priceless lesson in life…enough really is enough. If it isn’t, we all risk missing out on what really matters most during our short time here.

So it’s one month later and I am still not winning my battle with busy – life has become even more hectic. But, I’ve lost ten pounds since I dropped out of Pierre’s and am eager  to give the Park City Point to Point race hell on Saturday (although we all remember how that worked out for me last year).

But more importantly than the race, I’m paying more attention to what is really important and working on shortening that final list of regretted DNFs.

Bottom line?

Life is short…don’t DNF.

P.S. by far, the highlight of Pierre’s Hole was seeing our good friend Brandon “Evil” Banks cross the finish line after 15 hours in the saddle. Brandon went through two years of endurance race DNFs before finishing (and completely destroying) three of the toughest races in the region this year. Brandon taught me another great life lesson that August day…how to persevere. Nice work Evil and thanks for the lesson.

Advertisements

Written by eber

September 1, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Park City Point 2 Point – Race Report

with 16 comments

Some days you are the hammer and some days you get the crap kicked out of you and then have your nose rubbed in it. My experience last Saturday at the PCP2P, was pretty much the latter.

It all started well enough off – at the start I’d tipped back an Ensure, the temps were mild, the vibe was good and it was shaping up to be a solid day. There was some confusion during the pre-race sort, I think because the first call was for 6-7 hour finishers which wasn’t a legit start group (should have started with 7-8 hour finishers I think). I’d intended to jump in with the 9-10 guys, but because I counted groups starting from 6-7 hours, instead got into the 10+ hour crew. Which as fate would have it was a bad omen.

Kingdon, me and JJ rolling out at the start. After the race, JJ said “this was the fun part.”

Things were going swimmingly during the parade lap around Round Valley – pace was mellow, riders were easy, the air was crisp and filled with 28 lbs per square inch of dust and anxiety. When riding directly into the sunlight, visibility went to zero as dust particles made it look like I hadn’t washed my windshield in years.

But all the dust aside, Round Valley really is good trail and the first 8 miles were a lot of fun. Which was a bonus, because the next 50 miles weren’t…so much.

Things started going downhill (certainly not literally) at about mile 9. I was on the wheel of a very courteous rider climbing up out of the Meadows Drive section. As we moved up on slower riders he would politely ask to get by when there was a good spot to pass. When he went by I would also chime in with a “one more, if that’s okay.” Everyone we passed was very accommodating and would respond to our “thank you’s” with a “no problem” or “your welcome”. Everyone seemed to understand it was a race and that most of the course was single track – hence you’d have occasion to pass slower riders. It’s all good, right?

Everyone that is except one upstanding, albeit slightly larger fellow racer.

Curiously, this guy didn’t say anything in response to my new riding partner’s request to pass. He just moved over and didn’t so much as grunt in response to the first “thank you”. At the time, I didn’t know why I paid particular notice to his silence, but 3 minutes later it became clear why I was so curious.

The difference between this guy and the other riders we had passed was that he quickly grabbed the wheel of my partner, so rather than follow our normal passing pattern I just sat in and found a good cadence. Until it was clear that he couldn’t hold the wheel in front of him and quickly fell off a couple bike lengths. That’s when I chimed in with a “hey, when it’s convenient I’d like to pass too, thanks”. Again, no response. But as before, he moved to the right. So I accelerated to pass. And wouldn’t you know it, right when I came up alongside, he moved back into the center of the trail and locked up my handle bar yanking my wheel to the right, undercutting him and causing us both to go down in a heap – unfortunately with my new found riding buddy sandwiching me between him, my bike, and the ever so soft sage bush to our left.

Now, crashes happen. I think we all get that. So my first response was “dude are you okay?”

His first response? Rage and words from his mouth in very high decibels.

“IT’S AN 80 MILE RACE AND I WAS RIGHT ON HIS WHEEL!” was the gist of what he had to say.

To which I meant to respond with:

“Well, fine sir I am not sure what distance has to do with it, as you mentioned, it is a race after all and pray tell what do you mean you were right on his wheel, it was clear he was rapidly distancing himself from you.”

But what came out instead was:

“WHAT THE [bleep] DOES THAT MATTER…”

To which he responded with…nothing. Back to the silent treatment he was. He got up and pedaled away. I hurried to get back on my bike to continue our friendly dialogue when I noticed my handle bars were twisted into my navel. My seat was skeewampus. Half of my pulley hangar was snapped off. A spoke was broken. And I was bleeding down my leg. I think it is safe to say that The Silent Type came away from our little scrape in better condition than I.

Needless to say I littered the air with expletives as I tried to get the bike back together. Once I was back in the saddle I felt a surge of adrenaline and my focus was turned to REVENGE! Which doesn’t work so well in general and certainly not during a mountain bike race. While busting down the trail powered by my rage and fury I neglected the trail at hand and two miles later washed out hard on a sharp right turn. Now my right leg and arm were bleeding. Then I began to REALLY come unglued. I jumped back on the bike and started racing down the trail only to hear parts of my bike falling off behind me. Stopping to assess, I saw my bike tool and tube lying in the trail. In my rage and haste I had busted the zipper on my seat bag and it’s entrails were strewn across the single track.

Oh for the love of all that is holy – I’m only at mile ELEVEN!

Pulling into the aid station I hadn’t cleaned up my language much and greeted my crew with a “some dumb [bleep bleep bleep] crashed into me, can you pull off my seat bag?” Only I didn’t say “mother father” (sorry mom). theWife said I was visibly shaking while at the aid station. I chugged another Ensure and was off again – still plotting my revenge amidst a surge of adrenaline.

Update: So as you’ll see in the comments below, turns out I actually know the guy I got tangled up with in Round Valley. Amidst the dust, confusion, emotion and his speedy departure we didn’t realize with whom we had just intertwined. His name is Pat Terry and he is a really good guy and a solid rider. So Pat did indeed move to the right, but unbeknownst to me had to move back left into the trail because of a sage bush that would have sent him flying ass over tea kettle. You can read his version of the story here . If you read my previous edit of the story, I need to apologize to Pat – I went a bit over the top on his weight. Pat’s not fat, he’s just big boned. 🙂 Sorry about that Pat.

I passed Dug and Sleepy along the Rail Trail and shouted an incoherent obscenity laced summary of my last 4 miles and continued up the trail. Dug responded with a typically even and mellow “that doesn’t sound like a very good start to the day” response.  It wouldn’t be the last time Dug would try to help me get through the day.

At the Solomere junction I chugged down 26 oz of CarboRocket and another Ensure.

Then six miles later all that adrenaline was gone. And by gone I mean I could barely turn the pedals. I had crashed so hard from the adrenaline rush it felt like I hadn’t slept in weeks. Less than 20 miles into the 76 mile day I was completely spent and on the easiest and most enjoyable section of the race no less. And then came Dug, happily rowing up the trail behind me. We rode up over Snow Top and up about half of Deer Crest together, but I couldn’t hold his wheel and dropped off. I saw him as I came into Silver Lake and quickly chugged down another Ensure and another bottle of CarboRocket. theWife asked how I was feeling and I could only respond with “I am SO tired”. She said the difference in my physical appearance between the first aid station and the third was amazing – from shaking to lethargic in less than 20 miles. Not good considering the next 2 miles presented one of the steepest climbs of the day up to Bald Mountain.

I left the station before Dug, but it didn’t take him long to catch me. When he rolled up on me I was standing in a stupor on the trail. It was bad enough that I was so tired, but I had no spark. Zero. Nothing. He gave me some of his CR 333 to tug on, which I did. That little sip was either one of the bigger mistakes of the day or one of the crucial turning points. It was mixed pretty strong and I think probably acted like baking soda to the vinegar already churning in my belly. Dug seeing that all was lost continued up the trail and left me for dead.

I made it to the top and started the downhill. I am normally pretty fast on the descents, but I just couldn’t get anything going. Some lady blasted past me like I was standing still. Something wasn’t right. I was feeling bloated and felt like my kidneys were detaching with every bump in the trail. I limped around Bow Hunter, totally wasted the awesomeness that is Dear Camp and started into the trees on Flagstaff. Then all hell broke loose.

At first there were a few innocent wretches. Then the wretching turned to roars. If you’ve ever heard a T Rex mating call – it sounded like that. Over and over and over. Then an atomic puke bomb went off in my head. Then 4 or 5 more of them. The sheer volume of stuff coming out of my face was SPECTACULAR! It was like the pie eating contest in Stand By Me – only pink. The hills were alive with spewage and ruckus. Banks said later as he was coming up the hill he could hear the carnage and thought to himself “that sounds like Bright”. Say what? He recognized my wretch? I think we have spent to much time together.

After throwing off excess ballast things started feeling a bit better. I started to have clarity. The encounter in Round Valley followed by the subsequent adrenaline rush had overridden my body’s ability to digest all the liquid calories I’d consumed during the day. Even though my stomach was full – I was running on empty. I had burnt through the adrenaline jet fuel and had clogged the fuel pump while I was at it. At least that’s what I think happened. I only play a doctor on this blog.

I was a little worried that I had 5 miles to the next aid station with no food in me whatsoever, but I also started processing what I needed to do: get to the next aid station and regroup. Sit down, eat some solid food and just regroup. And so I did. During the second pass through Silver Lake I learned that Dug, Jason and Erik were already on their way. Banks, Kingdon, and Shellenberg rolled in behind me and things were starting to look up. I ate some fruit, peanut butter and jelly’s, and a coke and started feeling like I could at least get up and go.

The section between Deer Valley and Park City was long and hot. I ran out of water. But rather than dunk my head in and quaff a portion of Shadow Lake, I found the head of a little spring that was running down the trail and guzzled as much as my stomach could hold. As I was slowly making my way across this section, Banks caught me again and after a particularly steep climb back up double track to the lift below the brown shack we looked at our clocks. It was 1:19 PM – we had just over 2 hours to go 12 miles to make the cut off time. I was doubtful, Banks wasn’t – he was certain we’d make it. Banks’ confidence we’d make it was the second critical point of the day for me, once he said we could do it I was ready to make the push. We walked up the rest of the steep double track with a lady pushing a single speed and when it turned back to single track I got on and went, no looking back. Turns out I should have maybe looked back at least once, because Brandon missed a turn that eventually ended his day. Sorry Banks. But thank you for the boost to get me to the PC aid station in time.

Coming into PC I saw my dad at the top of the ridge line. “3:06” he hollered – 24 minutes to spare, whew.

I rolled in to see the carnage that was Erik R. – he looked like someone had only just brought him back to life with the defibrillator. Stomach issues. theWife told me Dug and JDub had left ten minutes earlier. I decided to wait until 3:30 to make sure Banks rolled in and to get fueled up for the last 20 miles. The last 10 minutes waiting there hoping to see Banks crest the horizon was painful. I knew how important a finish was to Banks and we all were sharing in the anguish of anticipation. 3:30 rolled by. No Banks. With heavy heart I set off for the next 2 miles of climbing up Spiro.

About 10 minutes into my Spiro climb I saw a ghost. My mind couldn’t comprehend what I saw coming down the trail on a bike. It was Banks. Descending the trail he should have been ascending after making his wrong turn. We passed each other in a blink, both wading in thoughts of regret (Banks in making the wrong turn and me in not waiting). Well Karma was about to return the favor.

Spiro wasn’t nearly as bad as I had anticipated and getting to the top got me over a pretty big mental barrier. I was about a half a mile across the buttery section of the Mid Mountain Trail when suddenly my seat fell out from under me. At first, I thought the collar had come loose and my seat post dropped to the bottom. That would have been good. Instead my frame had cracked and come apart just above the top tube and the entire seat post folded back to the tire. That was not good.

18 miles to the finish and I was standing there with seat shrapnel in my hand. Perplexed, but not really surprised given how the rest of the day had gone I worked through the options. I could go back to the PC aid station and drop. No way. I already had one DNF this year at Butte. So buck up lil’ camper and start riding.

I started with the seatpost in my left hand resting it on top of my handle bars. That lasted about one minute and 12 seconds or until I had to brake quickly and realized that holding the seatpost and trying to brake with the same hand isn’t really a good idea. So I slid the seat post and seat down my jersey and rode Quasimodo style for about two miles. Standing up. That wasn’t going to work either. I knew my legs wouldn’t last another 16 miles without any break from standing up, getting off the bike to rest every two miles wouldn’t get me in before dark and walking certainly wouldn’t get me in before dark.

So I pulled the seat back out, removed the broken piece of frame and slid the seat post back into the seat tube to see how far down it would go. Naturally, it went all the way down. It wouldn’t tighten (because the collar was attached to the broken piece of frame) so it swiveled freely. That should make for an interesting ride.  Scenes and lines from Cast Away started playing in my mind.

“YESSSSS! Look what I have CREATED.”

And off we went, me and my new BMX bike.  I settled into a rhythm alternating between the middle and small ring on the front and leaving it mostly in the biggest cog on the back. I could power up most of the mild climbs sitting in the saddle albeit with strain on my lower quads and knees. The big climbs I climbed out of the saddle and powered up.

“This could work.”

Riding so low in the saddle I felt like an Oompa Loompa blasting through the forest, but I was moving and that was all that mattered. The low center of gravity made me feel surprisingly in control even at high speeds. Before I knew it I was passing people, including Shellenberg who I didn’t even recognize. I was in the zone. The miles started ticking off…13 to go…9 to go…5 to go. Being forced to focus on the problem and how to resolve it cleared my head of everything else that had gone wrong during the day. I didn’t think about the Round Valley Rumble. My stomach was no longer bothering me. And I had some spark!

Coming around a corner at about mile 73 I saw J Dub standing in the middle of the trail. Pondering the possibilities of life, maybe? I don’t know, but he was just standing there and I was really glad to see him. We made the final push up and over the torture of the last 1,000 foot climb before the finish. Riding in front, every now and then I’d hear J Dub chuckle.

“It’s like I am riding behind a little kid on his BMX bike!”

The comedy of the situation made the final miles go by real fast. Losing my seat was probably the best thing that happened on the day. Those last 18 miles were by far the best 18 miles for me. I was so focused on keeping the seat pinched between my cheeks and powering up the climbs that I didn’t even notice how bad the re-route of Mid-Mountain was and the brutal climb up Ambush didn’t really feel that brutal.

Blasting down the pavement between the barricades and cheering crowds was such a highlight. The crowds were cheering so loudly I felt a bit embarrassed. A sheepish grin stole across my face and I gave a brief wave to the crowd feeling so undeserving of their cheers, but so grateful nonetheless.

J Dub and me crossing the finish line – BMX style baby! (that smokin’ little number in green to the left in the background is theWife – such an amazing partner and crew chief – you rule Cic, thank you so much for getting me through it):

*thanks to MoBe Photo for the picture

The day ended on a super positive. Looking back I really loved racing the PCP2P. I’ll do it again for sure. The course was amazing. The organization was the best I’ve seen and with one notable exception the people were so much fun to be around.

A huge and heartfelt “thank you” to the Draper Wives for once again providing the best crew support out there – you all make the day so much better.

Thank you and congrats to all of the fellas on a great ride especially Banks, Dug and J Dub for being there during some pretty dark parts of the day. It is so great to roll up to the start and finish lines and share stories with all of the friends from the biking crowd. That’s what makes these events great – shared suffering and triumph with really great people.

Next up? Cyclocross and some trail running.

Grand Canyon Rim2Rim2Rim anyone?

Written by eber

September 8, 2010 at 10:42 am

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