Sunday, December 5, 2010

December is here

Well....kinda bummed I didn't get into Western States for 2011. I only had about a 14% chance of entry so I was prepared for the disappointment. I still have one chance; if I miraculously finish first or second in Jan's Bandera 100k I get an entry. Lots of top dogs coming down for that race. Just learned that it, and March's Nueces 50mi were awarded USATF National Championship status! Pretty cool to have those in my 'backyard'. I'm planning on taking it 'easy' heading into Bandera 100k; I won't be slouching but intend on having very fresh legs for that one.
Scored 2 new pairs of shoes from Hill Country Running yesterday. 70% off sale was too good to pass on even though I don't really need any more at the moment. Montrail Hardrock and Pearl Izumi road shoes. Yes, road...I'm going to be a 3:15pacer for the Austin Marathon and will be laying down a few more road miles in the coming months to prep for that. Should be fun. My first marathon!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Warda Wild Hare 50 mile Nov 20, 2010

Hillbilly Haybale!
I'd never run out at Warda's Bluff Creek Ranch before but I'd heard good things about it. Good as in, fewer rocks! I needed a break from rock bashing after the Cactus Rose 100 and the Wild Hare 50miler came a perfect 3 weeks later. I was plenty recovered and looking forward to hitting the trails again for 'only' 50miles and some relatively easy terrain. The morning started early since I stayed in Austin instead of camping on site. Roch H from Salt Lake City was in town with his girlfriend Catherine and he signed up for some punishment as well. I picked them up downtown at 4am and we made to the race by a little after 5am for the 6am start. 35 of us got started in the warm darkness for the first 5mi short loop followed by 6ea 7.5mi loops to get the 50mi. I started pretty fast and stayed out front by myself, clearing the spider webs for the rest of the pack! My light was kinda flickering (cheap backup) but it wasn't long before I emerged from the twisty first half and got out in the open where I could see pretty well already. First 5miles in around 40min and off for the first of 6 'big' laps. With an aid station about half way it was easy to stay on top of my hydration and nutrition all day. I was shooting for something around 7:15-7:30 and knew the first few laps needed to be well under an hour so I could have some banked time for the last few laps. I haven't gone back to look at my splits yet but the plan fell into place just fine. My first 4 laps were pretty fast and then I let up some for laps 5-6. End result: 1st place, 7:14. Also a new CR but last year it was raining and muddy; the years before that the distances weren't accurate. I'm happy to have recovered quickly from Cactus and to get in another hard run before 'resting' for a few weeks into Dec. Wild Hare is fun because the trail isn't particularly brutal and the different race distances and staggered start times have runners all over the course to interact with. As always, had a great time post race with old friends and new. Made it back to town at dusk; just in time to shower up and join the family for a walk around the corner to the neighborhood Little Deli for some pizza and beers!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Running Event

Had a great time at The Running Event trade show today!
Took a chance that I could get in on the last hour or so and did.
Managed to yak with a bunch of great folks and score some nice gimmies too!
Thanks Black Diamond, Tifosi, Injinji, Honey Milk, Stinger, The North Face and more!
Looks like they'll be coming back next year too.
Warda Wild Hare 50mile on Sat.
Details to follow.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Next Race!

Signed up for the Wild Hare 50mi in Warda next Saturday, 20th!
Recovery from Cactus seems to be going fine and I'm itching to get back out on trail.
Not that this one will be 'easy' but it will be nice not playing in a rock mine field for a few miles at at time!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Cactus Rose 100 v 2010 Race Report

Cactus Rose 100
October 30, 2010
A nasty rugged day in the hill country
Steven Moore

I started thinking about this year’s Cactus Rose in late August. Specifically at about mile 90 of the Leadville 100, coming out of the last aid station headed back to town. I figured that race had gone pretty well (so far) and if I could knock out a 100 mile run at ~10,000+ feet in 21.5 hours then I should be able to improve on my 2009 Cactus Rose time of 24:05 if things went decent. Actually, I’ll have to admit, I’ve carried a small chip on my shoulder all year after last years ‘learning experience’. In 2009 I experimented with some advice I received and failed to realize it was going wrong in time to save my race. I still finished and I’m proud of myself for gutting that one out but…I knew I could do better and was waiting for the opportunity to prove it.
Back to the future. My 2010 race season had gone pretty well leading into CR2010. I ran some solid races thru the spring and the aforementioned Leadville race in August bolstered my confidence as well as my endurance and mountain running muscles.
My training was going great and everything was falling into place with the plan to attack the CR course with the respect it demands. Going great until….the dreaded head cold! I felt the first effects late Saturday, a week before race day. I never get sick and was super bummed about the timing obviously. I ended up staying home from work Tuesday to try to sleep it off and pounded the Vit C and Zinc tabs for 4 days. Luckily I started feeling better by Thurs morning and began to feel hopeful again, if a little drained.
In 2009 I slept in a tent the night before race day. This is usually plenty comfortable for me but I didn’t get the best night’s sleep with all the late night and early morning traffic (!) coming and going around race headquarters. This year was different. My crew included my wife Sandi, our kids Sierra (and her friend Cali) and Calvin, and my in-laws Sheri and Jerry. My in-laws brought their camper trailer and even offered up the big bed for Sandi and I. The tent may be hard to go back to…
Race morning was business as usual. Up at 3:30 for coffee and breakfast, take care of business, get geared up, do some light warm ups and get ready to roll! The kids wanted to see me off so they woke up and helped usher all the runners off at the 5am start! The weather was perfect, chilly but no wind and a warm day on the horizon.
I like to start fairly fast but let 5-6 folks run out front to set a pace and find the trail for us. The Tejas Trails races are always well marked and this CR was no exception. However, no sooner than the very first climb up Lucky’s did I come across 2 dudes headed my way, backwards off the trail to my left. One kept going and the other asked me if I knew where I was. Without getting too esoteric that early in the morning I eventually replied that indeed, I did know where I was and hopefully even where I was going! Our time together on trail was brief, the steep decent was over and the trail had smoothed to one of the few sections where a fast pace is not only allowed but also wise if one is to make up for walking the steeps later in the loop.
I ditched my light windbreaker and gloves at CrossRoads (Equestrian) about 5 miles in and signed the book with my clock time and race number. Getting ones fingers to work any time during an ultra is interesting but signing in with cold fingers that have been gripping bottles is an added challenge for sure! The frost on the tall grasses in the morning darkness made for some neat visual effects in the glow of my light but I tried to focus on not tripping on a rock or root and searching for the confirmation ribbons along the trail to Nachos. 10 miles in and all systems go. My left hip was a little tight but I knew there was plenty of time to loosen up and I was just happy I wasn’t coughing up a lung or battling the stuffy nose from earlier in the week.
Ice Cream Hill wasn’t too bad from that direction and soon enough I was on the road back towards CrossRoads. The first sign of human life I ran upon was none other than Crash heading back in after glow stick duty! Yep, the volunteers that mark courses and help pull off these races really set the tone. How can I let them down after all their hard work?! CrossRoads for more fuel and water with my father-in-law Jerry making new friends with the other volunteers in the pre dawn light. No time to dally, Three Sisters and Sky Island were waiting. I’m in race mode but to not stop for a second on top of the middle Sister and look at the view is just plain wrong. You’ll have to see it for yourself to truly understand but I can say it’s worth running at least 25 miles for!
The miles were ticking off and after restocking at Boyle’s, only its Bump and Cairns Climb remained of lap one. I can’t say anything nice about Boyle’s Bump and tend to refer to it as Boyle’s Butt. It’s a place rocks go to die. I suffered through them both and met the 50 mile leader, Simon, on my decent of Cairns as he was headed back out for loop 2. Derek was not far behind him and I zipped in to the Lodge by myself to regroup. Jerry was there to help me turn it around and get back out without much delay.
The ‘washtub’ loops as well as signing the log books at each station help one keep tabs on where everyone else is on the course. I was really looking forward to seeing everyone on loop two now that the sun was up. The proximity to Halloween always brings out some interesting costumes and it wasn’t long before I encountered a Sponge Bob Square Pants making his way around the back of Cairns! Lots of funny stuff on loop 2, culminating with a wild pink flamingo get-up that would take the costume prize in the end.
I think of this race as 3 parts instead of 4 (loops). Loop 1 is a warm up: stay on top of hydration, nutrition and loosening up; Loops 2-3: get to work, lay down some good splits and stay focused on the plan; Loop 4: hold on and see what’s left in the tank, both physically and mentally.
Loops 2 and 3 were just as I said…work. I saw Derek leaving Nachos just as I was arriving, around mile 40. I didn’t stop for long but took advantage of the wonderful ICE and cooled off with some water on the head a few times. I figured I might at least be able to keep Derek in view and maybe catch him. Hitting Powerline without a sighting I figured he’d cranked it on in for a strong 50mi finish. When I got to the Lodge at the end of lap 2, Simon (the 50mi winner) got up from his chair to congratulate me on a great race and 2nd place. I congratulated him back on his win and informed him I still had 2 laps to go! He didn’t sit back down for long because Derek rolled in just as I was leaving again. I was still having fun so I wasn’t too jealous of those guys being finished already.
My crew built up as the day went on and it was a joy to see who would show up and CrossRoads, the Lodge and sometimes Boyles. Having family in addition to other crew and volunteers is pure bonus inspiration. My crew did a fantastic job all day but particularly excelled in a NASCAR style pit stop at mile 55. I had a complete sock and shoe change as well as refueling and cooling and got out of CrossRoads in under 10 minutes easy, maybe closer to 5.
Olga and Larry ran a tight ship at CrossRoads. They helped me several times as well as Meredith and Liza (defending champ with pacing duties this year). Also, Ken and Mike seemed to be using some sort of worm hole to travel thru space and time both ahead and behind me but always there to help. I had my ‘self supported’ supplies ready this year but it sure was nice to have some extra hands out there anyway.
Sandi surprised me at the mile ~70 Boyles aide station with her running shoes on and pacer’s attitude ready to go! I was a little concerned about beating darkness since my light was at the Lodge so we didn’t do much site-seeing over the Butt and Cairns but the sunset colors were as pretty as ever and it helped to keep the mood light.
Megan relieved Sandi at the Lodge and set me up for the next 20 miles of late race pacing over the toughest section of the course. The darkness always slows the pace that the fatigue hadn’t already. I played it pretty cautious, not wanting to take a fall this late in the race, but still managed some decent running on what open sections there were.
The milestones ticked by for the last time of this race. There were some comments tossed around at CrossRoads that hinted of folks making some friendly wagers about my finish time. Most of y’all know, by this point I was just looking TO finish! Megan and I knocked out Ice Cream and Nachos for the last time and got back to CrossRoads at mile 95 by about 11:30pm. Sandi was waiting for me, ready to pace me the last 5 miles to the finish.
OK, so I admit, by this point I knew I had the win and new course record unless I fell in a hole and disappeared or broke my leg or something. No way I was letting up or dropping concentration however. You can’t, it doesn’t work that way. The only sneaky feeling that was creeping into my brain (yes, there is one up there!) was how I must be the luckiest guy in the whole world at that moment. It’s midnight, mile 97, 19 hours into a long day at the office and I’m running around the woods with my best friend, trying not to stare at the stars that seem to be 10 feet in front of my face. Not sure how it could be any better really.
The huff up Lucky’s provided one last funny visual as Pink Flamingo Lady was resting at the top, before her final push to the finish of the 50 mile run. After an oxygen deprived climb up Lucky’s and hitting that scene with my green LED flashlight, I was ready for a chair and a cold beer ASAP! Sandi and I got ourselves back over to the road home and began the final push. Time to wake the kids and call the neighbors!
A decent crowd of folks was still awake and in Lodge mode to great me at the finish line. My full crew was there to watch me cross the mat in 19:35 for a win and the new course record! Wow, it’s over. A chair, some new clothes and a cold beer were presented to me by my crew along with the Iron Rose and a Cactus Rose 100 belt buckle from Joe. Nice.
This was a great way to wrap up a good race year for me. If you count last years CR 364 days earlier, I’ve run 3x100mile races, 2x50mile races and one 60k race. I got to travel out of state twice for races and continue to meet the fantastic people that make our sport what it is. I feel really lucky to have stayed injury free and have such an awesome family that supports my habit with enthusiasm. Thanks to Tejas Trails and all the people behind the scene that made Cactus Rose 100 v 2010 a nasty rugged memory I’ll not soon forget!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Cactus Rose 100

I'm getting close to registering for the Cactus Rose 100 (again) so I thought now would be a good time to post my race report from last year:

Cactus Rose 100
Bandera TX
October 31, 2009

"A very nasty and rugged endurance trail race." Hey, that sounds like fun! Actually I knew pretty much what I was getting myself into. I've been to the Hill Country State Natural Area outside Bandera TX several times now and have a deep respect for the rocky peaks and meandering trails that wind through it. This was my first 100mile attempt and I was glad that I at least had some familiar trails as a testing ground. Cactus Rose is a 'self supported' race but this time out I had a crew to help me. I arrived around 2:30pm on Friday afternoon and quickly established a campground in the shade of a giant oak stand. The weather was perfect, clear and warm with just a touch of cool breeze from the north. I was casually late to the Friday pre-race briefing by Joe and his band of merry soldiers. The mood was jovial and everyone seemed to be pretty relaxed about the task ahead of us. I chatted with some HCTR club members for a few minutes and headed back to camp to eat some dinner.
Not long after, my in-laws, Sheri and Jerry, arrived and settled in to camp for the first time in...a long time. Sandi and the kids finally showed up around 9pm after battling some Austin traffic on a Friday afternoon. The air turned cool and everyone eventually found their way to the tents by 10pm or so. I was tired but couldn't fall asleep with all the traffic of cars coming and going until around midnight. A few short hours later and it was time to get up and get the coffee started.
After some coffee and an early breakfast, all systems were a 'go' for the 5am start. My crew, including the kids, woke up to see me off and then went back to sleep. The first ascent of Lucky's was easy in the dark and excitement of the first miles. The only surprise on the way to the Equestrian aid station for the first of many times today was a giant mud pit in the middle of the trail that I didn't see until I was running right thru the middle of it in the dark. At this point I was running with Ryan from north Texas and we were having fun chatting as we covered ground thru Nachos and back to Equestrian again. Just before we got there I declared how hungry I was, wishing for a giant plate of pancakes and eggs and another cup of coffee. As we funneled in the shoot at the aid station in the dawn light an unkown spectator or crew member offered up an egg taco on que! As we shuffled up the rocky slope in the next mile I told Ryan that if I continued to have that kind of luck all day it was going to be a good one! The sun had finally risen above the distant ridge line and we more or less stayed together until we got to Boyles aid station. There we saw Josue stocking up on calories and heading out on trail again.
Three or four of us finished lap one fairly close together and it was nice to see my crew ready to help in any way. I changed out of my Montrail shoes and into my Vasque for the next two laps, refilled my bottles and grabbed something small to eat before heading back out in the reverse direction. I really enjoyed the next 15 or so miles since I got to see all the fun and creative costumes many of my fellow runners had donned; it was Halloween after all! I had some more solid food at Equestrian and was still feeling good. I didn't have any real spring in my step and definitely had some kinks but things seemed to be settling into place and I had no reason to complain. What I didn't realize was how dry the air had become and how my sweat was evaporating before I knew it was even there. The result of this mistake was getting low on salt and that had repercussions that lasted thru the rest of the race.
Since my crew met me at Equestrian (remember how I said we'd get to know this place!) I dropped my running belt and ran light the last 5miles back to the Lodge to finish lap 2. I realized my mistake during this point and made sure that the first thing I did at the Lodge was to grab an S-cap and eat some salty potatoes. I hadn't begun to cramp up but the water in my stomach wouldn't go anywhere and that made running difficult and eating unappealing. My crew really took care of me here. Sierra and Calvin filled my bottles and fetched random items as needed. I was able to lie down and stretch out my gut while my shoes were emptied of rocks and my hams stretched. My wife had been hydrating while keeping the rest of the crew entertained and was ready for some pacing now that we had 50miles covered.
Sandi is no running slouch and I could barely keep up with her as we ticked off the miles. I kept having to stop and burp and my pace was suffering. I was really mad at myself for my mistake since I knew the rest of the day and long night ahead was going to be less than what I had hoped as far as my pace was concerned. My feelings of disappointment seemed to fade with every mile as I realized how much fun it was to run with my wife on a beautiful trail in the hill country. It was a pleasure to show her the trails and a joy to have her goading me on by running up ahead and hollering back at me. We were on a roll and Sandi got me thru Nachos and back to Equestrian again just as the sun was setting. She ran 15miles with me; more than she'd ever run before.
Our good friend and my sometimes training partner Megan was waiting for us at the E station. Megan got the scoop from the crew on my status and needs and we set off into the twilight to visit the Three Sisters I first traversed before the sun has risen some 12 hours previous. The climb up Sky Island in the dark seemed to take too long and it seemed forever before we got to Boyles at last. Woody had joined us in similar dismay at the long leg from E to B and was happy to see his stash bag of supplies. Melissa's husband Mike was there and by the time he could get Woody and I to speak coherently about her status she showed up to the party. I was alternating between plenty warm and shivery cold at this point and needed to get back on trail. Woody had taken off already but somehow missed the glow stick path out of the station and didn't catch Melissa and I until the end of lap 3.
As we were finishing lap 3 it was exciting to see the leaders headed out on the final 25. The first headlight we saw ended up being Liza and her pacer. Liza was running strong and had a smile so we knew she was in great shape for the last lap. I'm pretty sure the next runner was Ryan then Glen followed by Jethro/Pete/Lurch on their trail like an Arkansas bloodhound. When I finished lap 3 I was feeling better but still couldn't eat or drink like I wanted to. Again, my crew took care of all my needs with speed and precision. I got a blanket, new shoes/socks, some soup, a sip of Lone Star and morsels of all kinds of other stuff. At this point I knew I would finish no matter what. My goal of a sub 24hr seemed gone but I really didn't care about that anymore. I was getting cold and needed to get out of the Lodge and on trail again. Melissa and Woody had both taken off already and I didn't want to get any further behind. The Lodge Party was in full swing and I left for the final lap amid cheers of support from the well lubricated onlookers!
Megan was resupplied with her gear and 'on task' like never before. The tasks were simple; attack each upcoming challenge and worry about the rest as they appeared. This was the hardest leg of the course but didn't seem as bad this time, perhaps because I was going so slow. We did catch Woody but only because he had to tend to a blister that was causing him grief. Megan ended up running 20miles overall and got me back to the E sometime around 12:45am or so. My good friend Mark had taken his kids Trick-or-Treating in Austin and settled them in at the house before driving out to the race to arrive after 10:30pm and prepare to pace me for the last 15miles. Wow, what a treat! Mark got the lowdown as my bottles were once again filled and random food particles shoved in my general direction. I told the crew to get some rest and set there alarms for 5ish if they wanted to see me finish. I had a few sips of hot coffee and got my self back on trail to finish this bad boy before the sun came up again. Mark caught me up on the UT football game and the rest of the scores of the day as we settled into a rhythm of sorts. 15 miles to go and only two big climbs left. I described Ice Cream Hill to Mark as we maneuvered our way towards it's base for the last time. I wished he could see how cool it looked with it's ancient rock lines and sotol plants but I wasn't in any mood to reminisce or hang out any longer than necessary. We shuffled our way to Nachos for the last time and signed the book to mark 10miles to go. Once we got back across the road and down by the creek it was kind of chilly but still pleasant trudging. We saw a few people leaving the park as we passed Headquarters and headed into the cow pasture under a blanket of stars in the clear sky. The moon was almost full earlier in the evening but was now slipping further towards the horizon. My blazing 10-11 min/mi pace had me looking for Equestrian sooner than it would really arrive but we finally got there...again...for the last time. A dedicated or curious gentlemen turned on his truck headlights just as we arrived so we could see the sign in book and peruse the cornucopia of items up for grabs on the table. I dropped off my Camelback and shoved some chips in my mouth as I refilled my water. I looked in the pizza box because it sounded kind of good but there was no way I could chew and swallow that much of anything so we hit the trail. Mark said I was less than 10min behind Melissa but the thought of chasing anyone didn't sound any better than chewing cold pizza.
The mud pit had dried significantly but we still went around it and headed for Lucky. I was happy I could still run the 'flats' and gentle down slopes and I was actually feeling pretty good but had to walk up Lucky and down the scree decent as well. Once I could run again I knew we were in the final mile or so and relief began to kick in. Mark and I had a few comments but mostly enjoyed the sounds of accomplishment trodding down the trail towards the Lodge. "We've got a runner" someone shouted as we emerged from the dark into the bright lights and sounds of The Finish. I could see my family running into the light from the camp direction just as I approached the mat 24hours5min after I started. It felt great. The hugs, the handshakes, the buckle. Yep, WE did it. I 'ran' a hundred miles and the support from my friends and family made it...a joy.
I found a chair in the tent around the propane heater and soaked up the endorphin rush as my bleary-eyed crew listened to my ramblings. My recovery drink was followed by a few beers over the next hour or so as more runners came in and more crews went to bed. I eventually racked out for an hour or two just before the sun rose in a quasi-sleep dream state. I slid out of the tent and made it to a chair all by myself! Luckily some hot coffee was ready to help me enjoy another beautiful morning. My son wanted me to play catch with the football so we did, with me in the chair! We took our time hanging out before breaking down camp (I supervised from the chair) and packing up the cars. The drive home was uneventful (thankfully!) and a shower was the first order of business. I watched a little football and was in bed by 7pm. I took Monday off from work and was fairly sore but felt pretty good overall. I ate like a horse the rest of the week and it seemed to take till Friday before I was not starving any more. My first 100 was over. I learned some lessons and had a great time (mostly) in doing so. Congrats to all the finishers and a huge thanks again to my crew, Joe and Joyce, fellow HCTR members and all the Volunteers that helped put on this very nasty and rugged Cactus Rose 100! A Halloween to remember for sure!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Father/Son Camping, running, biking...

Had an awesome time camping with my boy this weekend! He ran his first real trail race, a 10k at Muleshoe. He threw down a 1:06 and took 13th out of around 25 adults. We had a blast after the race and then volunteered for the night run; set out glow sticks for 2 hours in the dark! Good times for sure. Check out his finish line lean!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Leadville 100 race report

Leadville Trail 100 Aug 21, 2010

“The Race Across the Sky”

A good part of my race experiences happen way before I ever get to the start line. I love the hours of training, planning logistics, and discussions that take place in the months leading up to a race; this one was no exception. I signed up for the 2010 version of the Leadville 100 in Dec 2009 shortly after I found out I did not get a lottery selection for Western States. It takes a lot of time, effort and often substantial financial commitments to undertake many of these challenges. With that I’d like to thank my wife and kids for putting up with me and my ‘crazy’ passion. I don’t train quite the number of hours of some but I’m still away from the family homestead at times and I appreciate my wife Sandi and our kids Sierra and Calvin for what they do in support. Unfortunately, they wouldn’t be able to accompany me for this adventure but I did have family support in the form of my Mom and Dad.

My folks live in Telluride, CO and had never had the chance to take part in one of my races until this one. The offer to have them come over to Leadville and crew for me was too good to pass up. I’m pretty sure they were more excited than I about the race, at least until the night before, then it might have been a tie! I decided to drive up from Austin so I could bring all my stuff and be in charge of my own schedule. I departed a week early in hopes of acclimating to the high altitude (read: lack of oxygen)! Colorado Springs was my first stop. JT, my host, graciously arranged for our attendance at a beer festival in nearby Manitou Springs and we hit that with full enthusiasm on Sunday. Drinking microbrewed beers in the cool shadows of Pikes Peak was definitely getting me in mountain mode!

The lure of the higher peaks was too much and I hit the road mid-morning on Monday for the 2.5 hour trip up to Leadville. Cool rain and quiet streets welcomed me to the highest city in the US: Leadville, America 10,152 feet above sea level. It wasn’t long before I hooked up with fellow HCTR member and Austinite, Gordon M, who’d been in town several days getting acclimated himself. We planned a scouting run with Liza H for late in the afternoon Monday but were greeted by a decent lightning storm just as we arrived at Fish Hatchery. Our run turned into a drive tour of some of the course and we headed back to town. Eventually we got some dinner, had some beers at the Scarlet and hit the hay to rest up for the week.

Gordon and I managed to get in our scouting run/walk/hike from Fish Hatchery to Sugarloaf on Tuesday morning in some excellent cool sunny weather. It felt great to be stretching the legs after all the driving and we were having a blast until…we noticed all the trash on trail from the previous week’s 100mile mountain bike race. Gordon and I picked up over 200 Gu packs in a 5mile stretch! Yikes.

Mom and Dad arrived Wednesday and we all got settled in at the Columbine Inn on the north side of town. Thursday, the 3 of us drove out to Twin Lakes to have a look at the area and scout where M&D would be waiting to crew for me as I past thru miles 40 and 60. We also took a quick look at Fish Hatchery (miles 24 & 76) and Mayqueen as we circled Turquoise Lake and headed back to town.

Thursday early evening was packet pickup and pre-race dinner at the gym. Those events went smoothly and efficiently enough to hit the Scarlet for a few more beers before happy hour was over. I was headed back thru town to the car when I ran into John S on main street in the rain. He was trying to hook up with the group of Texans that were out for Mexican food nearby. I told him I’d give him a ride and the next thing you know I’m sucked into The Grill with the rest of the gang for some fun. We emerged an hour or so later and discovered the earlier storm had dusted the mountain tops across the valley with snow. The sun had set but there was enough light to make a beautiful scene that energized us all.

Friday was mandatory medical (weigh) in and the pre-race meeting. The gym was packed and the speeches were long but the mood was light and the group energy was buzzing. I had a good time yakking with fellow runners but needed to finish off my drop bag preparations and was starting to put my race face on so I headed back to the hotel. Mom fixed me my custom pre-race dinner in the hotel room and I drifted off fairly early, watching the Little League World Series. 2am comes early no matter what time it is! Coffee, breakfast, shower…etc. All systems go; it’s Race Day!

I arrived at the start 30min before the gun (literally) went off. I was not nervous and had a good time just milling about, soaking up the scene. I chatted with Liza and we wished each other luck before the countdown began. 3,2,1 BOOM! I’m sure it looked pretty funny but to me, being part of <700>

A fellow runner said it best, “Yeah! We’re finally running!” Enough with all the talk and strategery, it’s time to do what we do. I fell into a nice rhythm and ran smoothly into the first aid station for a quick bottle refill and exit. The predawn light was starting to be enough to see by and the section out of Mayqueen was really pretty until we got to the Forrest Service road. Even then, the surrounding beauty was enough to distract and the gravel road served as a good ‘systems check’ to see how things were settling in. I felt good, nothing special, just glad to be running. I ran most of the way up to Sugarloaf pass, stopping only occasionally to power hike some steep sections and adjust my gear belt.

I was purposely trying to ‘hold back’ as much as I could and the downhill section from the top of Sugarloaf to Fish Hatchery provided a good spot to do just such. I refused to bomb the downhill even though the ‘need to make up time’ was in everyone’s minds. I think this attitude saved just enough muscle energy to get me thru the day…and night.

Made it to Fish Hatchery, mile 24, in around 3:40 (7:40am) I think. I really didn’t pay too much attention to my watch and don’t know all of my splits. My folks were there and we made quick work of bottle refills and traded my windbreaker for sunglasses and sunscreen. 3-4 miles of road (!) led us to Pipeline and Treeline where some crew were set up. I ran on up to Halfmoon aid station and refilled my bottles and gel from a dropback I staged there. No time to dally, off to the Colorado trail section towards the ‘hump’ near Ebert trail that would signal a long decent into Twin Lakes aid station. This section of the trail was very scenic and the mid-morning light was filtered by the canopy we ran under. Everything was still feeling fine except the lingering feeling that the long descents were going to take their toll eventually.

Twin Lakes is at mile 40 and 60 and the party was already starting! I pulled in somewhere around 6:40 (10:40am). I was ahead of what I was ‘trying’ to be but felt like I’d run smart so far and knew Hope Pass had a present for me so I figured I had a little ‘bank’ time to spare. I’m glad I had it!

There were 5-6 small water crossings and one legitimate river crossing (waste deep snow melt) in the 1.5-2miles before I made it to the base of the serious climb. The defending women’s champ, Lynette, and a 6 time vet took off ahead of me in a more effective power hike/jog than I could bring myself to attempt. Not long after that, Liza passed me looking strong but mumbling some choice words for the road section where we earlier parted. The next few miles’ beauty were muted by the endless upward march into ever thinner air.

This hike up to Hope pass (both sides) was the only time I felt affected by the altitude and even then, it seemed I’d be hiking something this steep even back in Austin! The trail is mostly wooded and one dares not look too far up ahead for there are no signs of ‘the top’ until you finally break treeline and witness the spectacle that is Hopeless aid station. The volunteers for this station, at just under 12,000 feet, use Llamas to pack the supplies in and have an incredible high grassy meadow as their location. I admire the local but have carried all I need and press on; my pace is slow enough, I can’t afford to stop.

I thought the switchbacks would never end but I finally found myself crossing Hope Pass at 12,600 feet and began the nearly 3000 foot decent (in ~2.2 miles) to the road to Winfield. I ‘ran’ as controlled as I could. It was a hard balance to try to keep both the toes and the quads happy while not flying off the edge of the narrow trail or tripping on the occasional rock or root as I descended. I finally made it to the gravel road and pressed uphill for the nearly 3miles to the halfway point, 50miles at Winfield with the clock showing just past 9 hours, around 1pm.

My pacer, John R and his wife Crystal were waiting for me as planned. I weighed in with only a ~3 pound loss, dumped the rocks out of my shoes, stretched a bit, ate, drank, refilled/refueled and we hit the road. All I had to do now was run the whole thing again the other direction! It didn’t take long to get to the base of the climb (again!) and begin the hour plus ascent a.k.a. death march up up and…up.

The beauty of an ‘out and back’ trail is getting to see everyone even though you aren’t running the same pace as they are. I saw a bunch of friends on each side of the pass this time and gathered encouragement from all as we made our respective ways. I stopped at Hopeless only long enough to fill my bottles and stretch the hamstrings a little before heading down, down, down back to Twin Lakes.

John and I made decent time and enjoyed the mountain trail, river crossing and swamp sections before we reached my crew for a decent pit stop. It was time to change socks and shoes, mostly because I had them ready and I like the switch at this point in a hundred. I think it was about 4:30pm and we set out shortly thereafter for the climb back up, up, up out of TL to the ‘Ebert hump’. No more than 3-4 switchbacks from the top I asked John, who was just behind me, how he was doing and he hollered “I’m fine, I’ll catch you on the downhill!” That was the last I’d see of him until the end. I waited a few minutes and asked the next group of runners that came through if they saw him; they said he was fine and that I should go on, so I did, running most of the way to Halfmoon for a much needed break.

I took on some caffeine in the form of Espresso Gel and some flat Coke, refilled my bottles and headed out. With no light, no jacket and the clock ticking towards sunset, I made haste back to Fish Hatchery without stopping. My mom arranged for another pacer on the fly and Mike was waiting for me to get rolling. After a quick weigh in and bottle refill, Mike and I hit the road over to Powerline. This is not a killer climb but plenty tough enough after 75 miles of trail running! Sugarloaf waits patiently at mile 80 and sits just above 11,000 feet. It took way too long to get to the top but I power hiked it with consistency and that’s all I could ask of myself.

The ensuing downhill was a relief and I managed to run most of the way to the steeper trail descending on into Turquoise Lake and the Mayqueen aid station. Mike was a big help in illuminating the obstacles and providing some chatter to help the time go by. We passed a few runners and one past us. To see the lights of Leadville across the lake was at once encouraging and a reality check. The end was near but not close enough to drop my guard. The final pull into Mayqueen came soon enough and it was nice to see familiar faces there to greet us. Meredith T had arranged for a fellow Austinite, Bruce, to bring me in from Mayqueen. Crystal was there as well, to aid in transition and reunite me with me favored green LED flashlight! Top off the bottles and off we go; 13.5 miles to wrap this thing up!

At this point I knew I had 13 miles of ‘old man shuffle’ left in me and all I wanted to do was avoid a crash or a hamstring cramp that would make the final miles any tougher than they already are. Bruce took lead and pointed out obstacles and helped ‘light the way’. The Tabor Boat ramp took forever to appear but by then we could see the lights of the dam and I knew we’d be getting back to the road home soon. It was almost nice to get on a big flat road but I also realized how much altitude we’d need to gain in the last 5 miles to get to the line.

These last miles were a combination of power hiking and jogging back to the town of Leadville and the final hump in the road to the finish line. I mustered the energy to jog the last half mile, encouraged by the thought of finishing but also by the cheers of the crowd gathered at 1:30am Sunday morning. The race officials check your race number with about a half mile to go and radio it to the finish line. The town mayor calls out runners names as they finish but I’m not sure if he was there that early! My folks were waiting at the finish and watched me stride up the red carpet to break the tape in 21:31, good enough for 18th place overall. A big THANKS to them for helping me before, during and after the race!

I felt good. Nothing hurt too much. I was physically tired but wide awake. They made me weigh in one more time and I pegged the scale at exactly my pre-race weight, no medical tent for me! I didn’t really want to sit down just yet so I walked around in a relieved daze until a nice volunteer handed me some hot potato soup that hit the spot. M&D helped swap shoes for sandals and kept me warm while I took in the scene. I usually like to chug my recovery drink, find a chair and start drinking beer after ultras but there wasn’t much going on at the finish just yet. Also, I knew I planned on driving part of the way home later that day so I opted to head back to the hotel for a shower and some time off my feet.

A few hours rest (not really sleep), some breakfast and some coffee got me ready to head back to the finish line to watch the end and catch up with what I missed. I made it back for the last hour of the race and got some video of some final finishers before race founder Ken once again fired the 12gauge shotgun, this time signifying the 30hour mark…the race was over.

Two hours later we were all back in the packed gym for the awards ceremony. It was fantastic to see my friend Liza H from San Antonio accept the women’s champion trophy! Way to represent us flatlanders in the mountains Liza! Everyone seemed happy for Duncan C and the race he ran to capture the men’s title as well. I received my big belt buckle and hung out for a few more minutes before packing up and heading south. Wow, did all that really just happen? My body is telling me it did.

Final Thoughts:

· The weather was perfect; mountain storms could change this race dramatically

· The altitude was not a limiting factor; 5 full days was enough lead time for me

· The long descents were the hardest on my body but I ran smart and limited damage

· I took care of my salt, water and calorie needs effectively; no problems at all

· Having a crew was awesome; this race could be done without a crew but in bad weather or troubled times a crew could be the difference in success or failure

· My pacers helped me stay on task; it’s real easy to slow down on your own

I think about a lot of things while running for 20+ hours. Ultra running is inherently selfish I think. I run because I enjoy it; it makes me happy. Every mile I run, in training or races, is with profound gratitude. I’m very lucky to be able to run, to see what’s out there, just around the next bend in the trail.