Thursday, July 28, 2016
Hardrock 100 2016 One of the most challenging setbacks I experienced was a spinal cord injury three years ago. I am an active person who regularly competes in ultramarathons. I was terrified I would not be able to do the things I had grown to love, which had become a part of my identity. My surgeon said I would no longer be able to run long distances in the mountains. I spent sometime recovering from surgery and went back to work 13 days later. I was in pain and not too sure what to do. I went to visit friends who have had similar injuries, researched and created a plan to start walking and jogging again. I surrounded myself with my family and positive friends. One of my dreams was to run a 100 miler in the mountains called Hardrock 100. I decided to sign up for another 100 miler which is a qualifier for Hardrock. I trained my mind, body and spirit despite being afraid and in physical pain. I worked hard to be able to have the endurance to complete the 100 miler. 13 months after the surgery I completed my 3rd 100 mile race in 29 hours. It was not easy and I was denied entry for my 5th straight application into Hardrock. Despite the setbacks I finally made it into the 2016 Hardrock 100 run. It has been a journey. Designing a rigorous plan, asking for guidance or research, taking time to heal mentally and physically, not rushing out or you can experience another setback are the elements. Out of those elements the guidance or people you surround yourself is the most important component. I think of this component when creating high quality PD and PLCs. My symbiotic relationship with home and work life work well together in regards to leadership. I am blessed to be able to be a leader in a school. I believe I can push through monumental tasks and believe in the human spirit. Dream, live, fulfill…that pretty much sums up my excursion into the realm of Hardrock. Hardrock is not a place.. it is not a race… it is not another trail 100. It is a mountain trail running journey with stunning views, deep chasms, and far away stares. When I first found out that I got in after 5 years of trying with 16 tickets…I screamed and ran around the house kissing my kids and wife. I really could not believe it. I was scared and excited. Hardrock is a family affair. It has the best mountain runners on the planet and everyone wants to see you succeed. I started to pick finishers brains on how to train and prepare. Scott Jaime sent an email with his training regiment and he said his goal was to hit 100k vertical in June. I wanted that to be my goal, along with 3 training races of Grand Traverse (38 mile skimo race), quadrock 50, and dirty thirty. The training races went well without to much issue. Being a principal, I knew the May and June training month would be tough. I work many hours and want my students to succeed in life. May was not a great month of training but June I did hit 99K vertical feet. I knew I was prepared and ready. It was the first time I truly trained for an ultra. I knew it was going to be wild and tough “Hardrock gets in your blood and never leaves.” I lined up at the start line at 5:50. I measured my heart rate at 90…I was pretty nervous and scared. I said hello to some of heroes and Dale yelled get out of here. I made my way up above to Silverton to the mining tribute. It was a nice jog with my heroes down to the creek crossing at two miles. I took the plunge into the icy creek and began to hike/jog up to a long pass above timberline. I was running and chatting with Blake Wood who is a hero of mine. I probably was going a bit fast but I felt under control and was really excited. I pushed down hill to mile 11 where the first aid station was. I ate some watermelon and grabbed some more water and tailwind. I knew the next section is stunning up to Island Lake and Grant Swamp pass. I was able to train on the course with a friend I met during Quad Rock, Jason Oliver. This section of the course traverses the side of a mountain and drops into a forest with streams and big pines and tons of flowers. I ran alongside Megan Hicks of Irunfar fame and saw tons of people up cheering us on to the top of the Grants Swamp pass. I placed a rock at the Zuckerman memorial and began the challenging descent to Chapman aid station. There was a lot of ROCK yelling. One basketball sized rock came very close to hitting a guy below. Grant Swamp…steep and fun I was moving ok downhill. I heard a familiar voice behind me and Jason Oliver came running by. We chatted for a bit and we cruised down to the aid station together. I was surprised to see my wife, sister and pacer Jonathan at the aid station. This was mile 18.5 and I was beginning to feel a little tired, I was glad to see them. I grabbed a sandwich with avocado and bacon and refilled my water bottles. I knew the next climb up Oscars pass was going to be long and slow. I chatted with fellow runners and I was started to slow down. I was approaching the top when I began to get sick. I threw up all that I had and felt better. I began to traverse the ridge to drop in the drainage of Bear Creek into telluride. I was really beginning to slow down into Telluride I was really beginning to slow down into Telluride. I was worried that I had not eaten and I was dehydrated. I got to the road and I saw my buddy Woody Anderson run by and chat with me for a bit. At that point I began throwing up again. Woody looked worried and he said he would run down to Telluride and let my wife and crew know I was in a bad spot. I ran about another mile and I knew I was getting close to the aid station because there were a lot of families on the trail. I jumped off the trail and began throwing up again. I heard a familiar voice, looked up, and saw my son Taven. Taven said, “are you OK dad”. I told him I was hurting and I need to get down to Telluride to rest up. He kept telling me you can do this dad…you never quit. We jogged down to Telluride and I sat down in my comfy chair with my crew. They put some new shoes on me and I just shook my head. Nothing looked good to eat or drink. I sat down for about 30 minutes and I did not want to get back out there. I finally thought a mango smoothie sounded good. One of my sons friends mom who lives in telluride went into town to get a smoothie. I spent an hour in the comforts of the chair and I did want to stay. The crew prodded me out of the chair. I was really nervous about the next section because I was still not normal and I knew it was along climb to Kroger’s Canteen. I got up and checked out. A few volunteers were wondering where I was and was glad I checked out. I started the long climb up to Kroger’s Canteen…Virginius Pass. I stopped a few times to gather my thoughts and hiked up with a couple of new friends. I got to Krogers Canteen Roch Horton and Jarred Campbell handed me an odouls beer to calm my stomach, a world famous Perogi and shot of tequila. I started to feel a bit better and ran down the snow field to drop down to the Camp Bird mining road. I felt great running downhill and the near beer must of worked to settle my stomach. I caught up to Kirk Apt (21 time finisher) and we jogged down to Ouray together. I got to Ouray ( mile 44) just as it was getting dark. I was looking forward to grabbing my pacer Shad Mika for the next 14 miles. I sat down to change shoes and clothes, get headlamps and prepare for the night time. I was worried I had not had enough calories to make it up to Engineer Pass. The crew started handing me food and drinks. I ate and instantly got sick. I did not keep anything down. Shad just said let’s go and we jogged out of Ouray. Glad to see my homie Shad The next 14 miles took 9 hours. I was in a bad spot and worried about not finishing. I could not even keep water down. I tried to suck on ginger chews , take sips but nothing worked. We slowed down to a slow crawl and I would pass out on the side of the trail. Another runner who did not have a pacer followed our routine of walk for 5 minutes…puke, rest and go another 5 minutes. It was a bit comforting to know that I was not the only one. Shad was amazing telling me every two minutes to take a sip of Tailwind. I did that until about mile 54 I stopped puking. We got to the Engineer aid station at mile 54 and I had a bit of broth and coke. I kept it down and stayed by the campfire for about 30 minutes. It was a sad set of runners trying to get going while enjoying the comforts of a warm fire. One runner from Japan looked about as defeated as I have seen during a 100. I found out he finished but not officially because it was after the 48 hour cutoff. He still got a heroes cheer during the awards. I knew I had to get going or succumb to the fire temptation. We hiked slowly to the top of the pass. At the top we walked downhill for 4 miles to grouse Gulch aid station (mile 58). Shad wanted me to walk all the way down so I would not risk my stomach going south again. It was a good call. I actually ate a couple of bites of grilled cheese and I was beginning to get better. It was a long battle from mile 20 to 58 of stomach issues. I picked up my new pacer Jonathan who flew out from Oregon to check out this crazy race. I stayed at the aid station for about 45 minutes and we still were cautious moving forward. It was 5:00 AM and the sun was starting to pop up. It was beautiful and I was really looking forward to climbing a 14er and seeing what the day would bring. 24 hours it took to go 60 miles. Jonathan and I starting from mile 58 to 90. Jonathan made sure I was moving slow and drinking so I would not upset my stomach. We moved into American Basin and Jonathan was really enjoying the beauty. We made it to the top of Handies (14,038 ft) and ran down to Burroughs Park aid station (mile 70). Top of Handies Peak I ate some fried rice and a potsticker. It was getting hot so I got some ice in my bottles and ran downhill to the next aid station Sherman (mile 74). One more marathon to go and my legs felt really fresh. I ate some cobbler and some home fried potatoes. They were delicious. Sherman aid station was awesome….They even decorated the bathroom for the runners with inspirational quotes and candles. Sherman Aid Station I was still being conservative on the uphill section to Pole Creek. It was beautiful looking at all the flowers and waterfalls. I was feeling pretty good mixing some running with hiking. We made it to pole creek aid station (mile 82) and I was in good spirits and moving well. Pole Creek aid station supplied by donkies After Pole Creek, Jonathan started to get tired due to altitude especially above 12,000 feet. We made it down to Maggie aid station (mile 86). Jonathan knew we had a tough stretch ahead (Green mountain 13,000 ft) and he told me to go ahead. I was feeling fresh and cruised to the top and began to go up and down to Stoney Pass. This was a tough stretch that went on for a while. I started my descent into the last aid station (Cunningham mile 91) and met a guy who said he would like to run with me for a bit. He said he came all the way out here to watch the race from the East Coast. We chatted for a mile or so and I spotted a fluorescent yellows shirt sitting on top of a rock in the middle of nowhere. I knew immediately it was Taven my 10 year old. He ran straight up the mountain to find his dad. I was so happy to see him! I grabbed him and felt a burst of energy. Taven is Crazy Fast! I made it down to Cunningham with Taven at about 7:30 at night. I grabbed my last Pacer Shad (again). I was hoping that I would be moving faster than the night section with him. We pushed to the top of little Giant right when the light faded. We had a great run down to Silverton. It was beautiful! I kissed the rock with my family and friends surrounding me. I am forever grateful for my crew and pacers. It was as wild and tough as they say ! My wife looks happier than me! Denver post pic
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Getting ready for the Grand Traverse has been fun and mixing it with some longer runs. I ran 23 this month...fell apart at mile 20. I jogged at 8:30 pace. Skied two fourteeners. I was pretty scared because I am a crappy skier and worried about avalanche. I really do not know what I am getting into for this grand traverse. I am really looking forward to it. I tend to look for adventures. I skied and ran 175 miles this month. It has been the second longest month I have ever recorded. Most of it was not running but Skiing feels a lot like hiking at altitude which will be good for the upcoming months. I hope to get in 200 miles in March and add 25 each month. I love the races I signed up for and I feel that I have a good line up of tough hiking/running/mountain races.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
I have been sitting on this write up for a while. Now that I have been sick with the flu for 4 days(really rough time), I have a little bit of time to write this narrative. Climbing Denali has been a dream of mine since I was a kid. I have been collecting gear for about 20 years. My response for any gear purchase "Is this gear good enough for Denali" We actually used a tent I purchased 20 years ago for this trip. It is a good old Sierra Design stretch dome. My brother Sammy and I started planning the trip after I ran RRR100 in the fall of 2014. We trained on Bear Peak with 50 lb packs. I tried to gain as much weight and strength as possible. I kept researching that runners have a hard time on Denali and the best Denali climbers know how to suffer in cold and can camp in the cold. My brother slept outside in his tent during the winter and we took a few winter camping trips to dial down our gear. My friend Jason Anderson who used to guide on Denali and the Himilayas gave me a ton of gear and told me some horror stories up on Denali. I also read the book Denali's howl that highlighted the deadliest North American expedition. We named our expedition DAMSON. We applied for the trip and sent in our climbing resume (365 per climber which is a bargain compared to Everest). I put on my climbing resume: the casual route on the diamond, east ridge of the Grand Teton, The Lowe route on Angels landing, petit gripon, Ellingwood arete on the needle. I was not too sure if I would be accepted due to the lack of glacial travel despite the solid climbing resume. The DAMSON Expedion was approved! We set up our plane trips and ground transportation. I was really nervous about the finance of the trip and did not buy any gear until I sold a house we were renovating in leadville. We made some decent change on the sale of the house which freed me up to buy some nice warm gear for the "high one" The climbing season starts in May. It was a rough May for ascents due to storms and conditions. I read about a Spaniard dying at 17,000 and realized about 1 out of 300 die on the peak. I tried to hide those facts from my wife. She knows that I am safe and my brother and I are a great team. There is a great blog that comes from the rangers and talks about the summit rates and issues like crevasse rescues and avalanches and approaching storms. The summit rates were dismal in May only one person summitted and that was in January....solo. That dude is hard core! We were leaving on June 7th and were just hoping to get some good weather. We had plenty of gear and food for a 21 day expedition. Our packs weighed 150 lbs each. We arrived in Anchorage and we met our bus driver that was taking us to Talkeetna. We nicknamed him scary Gary because it was very hard to communicate with him. It ended up well and he ended up being a nice guy and what I assume as a regular Alaskan. We got to our cabin in Talkeetna and walked to town. It was so weird for it to be light all day and night. We had some awesome beers at Denali Brewing and soaked in this really cool town that is home to many climbers during May-July. We met with the flight crew and set up the flight. It was really busy because it was the first time in 4 or 5 days that flights could get to base camp due to weather. We weighed our packs left our personal belongings and boarded the plain with a winter mountaineering group with wounded warriors. Most of the vets had prosthetic legs. We were dropping them off at a glacier name coffee house. It was breath taking flying around the mooses tooth and the 5000 vertical foot rock walls. We landed the plane and immediately burried the plane. We spent the next 2 hours unpacking the plane, stomping out a runway, and helping vets who could not get around in the hip deep snow. The plane took off and made it around for a couple of landings. We got back on the plane and said bye to the group. We thought we were going to finally make it to base camp, but we directed back to Talkeetna. I was really bummed but when we landed we got right back on another plane full of tourists. We got to take another flight and it was great being on a tourist flight because we learned a lot flying over the different features. The pilot announced. "It is your lucky day...we have some climbers on board and we are going to base camp" The tourists were happy about the additional stop. We landed at basecamp and waited around for about two hours waiting for a sat phone that K2 aviation forgot to set up. It was great watching expeditions gearing up for Denali or just finishing. Looking to the southeast, Mt Foraker sits at 17000 ft. Day 1 Basecamp sits at 7,000 ft. I have never seen vertical relief like this before and it was spectacular. We left right after a Russian team started. We were roped up and we left about 9:00 at night. We got to camp 1 at 1:00 (9,000 ft) and probed for a good spot. We camped right between crevasses. We got up a little later and single carried to camp 2 at 11,000. Day 2-4 Camp 2 was cold and we got stuck there in a blizzard for 3 days. We camped by a son and father team from Arizona. They went back down due to the weather and conditions. We read books, built snow walls and chatted with the climbing guides from other teams. We just tried to stay busy. Day 5 We finally decided to make a go of it while most climbers were still in there tents. We really had no idea what to expect on windy corner and single carried to camp 3 at 14 thousand. It was really strange that we did not have severe weather. The visibility was not great but we could move comfortably. It was a long haul to Camp 3 and when we arrived we were very grateful and set up an awesome site. Day 6 We took our first real rest day (too windy up high) and took pictures at the edge of the world. Day 7 We decided to go up the head wall and stash some food up on the ridge. This is the part where you really start climbing and using ice axes and crampons. It was a lot steeper than I thought it would be and it was a really nice ridge with amazing views. It was crazy windy so we stashed a couple of bags and headed back down to Camp 3. It was our first time being at 17 thousand feet and it was difficult to breath. Day 8 We decided to make a go for camp 5 at 17,200 ft without a rest day and full packs. We started climbing and got behind a very slow Chinese team. Some climbers Colorado climbers started yelling at them to move fast and we decided to go around them. As soon as we passed them, a rescue team was sending down a frostbite victim. from Colorado. That was a bit unnerving. We finally made it to camp 4 and we had to build a camp. We were pretty exhausted and it took us about 3 hours to build a camp by sawing snow blocks and digging away in a nasty windstorm. It was brutal and a few tents were already shredded. We got in our tent and crashed. Day 9 Sammy and I decided to go for the summit. The weather reports were saying anther storm was coming and we thought this was our window. We got up brewed up two quarts. We took water, some food, jackets, pants, snow shovel, snow saw and sat phone. We made great time. We passed several guided groups. The weather was cold but beautiful. We made it the final ridge and the wind died down and it was actually warm. We made the summit in 6 hours. We had the summit to ourselves and basked in the amazing views and time we had on the trip. We started to get cold and headed down. When we got down to camp 4 we brewed up some water and called our families. It was an awesome and emotional call. We packed up our camp that we spent hours building. Exhausted we headed down to warmer temps at 14 k. It was beautiful walking down at night time down the ridge. It was quiet, gorgeous and I tried to take it all in. It was by far the most beautiful day I ever have had in the mountains. Sammy and I were pretty tired as we went down the headwall and I struggled with my jumar as we descended the fixed lines. We got to camp and crashed! Day 10 We descended all the way to base camp and made it back to Talkeetna safe and sound. We lost a lot of weight and looked liked we were on steroids with veins sticking out everywhere. Sammy and I admired our new physique and ugly beards, showered up and drank and ate until that physique changed into the middle age beer drinking dads we are accustomed to represent. We made it down to check in at the Rangers station and let them know we summited and we had a great time. I would love to go on another expedition someday. It was beyond beautiful and I am so blessed to be able to climb and run with amazing friends and family.
Thursday, January 28, 2016
2015 was a slow season of racing. I only did 2 5k races- 3rd in each local race and a 12 hour mountain bike race. My biggest event was climbing Denali. It was an amazing experience and something I have always wanted to do. I remember when I was a youngster dreaming of climbing the "high one" and began to collect gear when I turned 18. My brother and I named our expedition DAMSON and began training during the winter by hiking 14ers and hauling 50 lb packs up Bear Peak. We summited in 9 days. I hope to be able to have the time to capture it all in writing. It was absolutely beautiful. I was selected to run the 2016 Hardrock 100. That has also been a dream of mine since I began running 8 years ago. I only had 16 tickets, so it is a miracle that I got in. I am busy training and setting up my racing schedule So far I have: Grand Traverse Quad Rock Dirty Thirty Hardrock 100
Monday, September 22, 2014
Pain…That is what I had to endure June 2013. 5 days after completing a grueling 50k- The Dirty Thirty, I had a searing pain in my shoulder neck. I tried to tough it out going to the Chiropractor and running trails. My Chiro finally said this is an emergency and you need an MRI. 1 hour after my MRI I was referred to a surgeon and on July 14th I underwent a c6- c7 disc fusion. I did not have much of a choice…the surgeon said it was the worst disc she had ever seen and my muscle in my chest and arm was almost completely gone. My surgeon was discouraging when I asked about running pikes in 1 month after surgery. I decided to let my neck heal and watch my wife and friends complete the race and we went to Leadville to help crew my brother in law, Gabe. Mountains are in my blood. It was so hard not to be able to run. I was walking but that was even difficult without pain. The first 8 months were hard. I was barely able to run. So I decided to sign up for a 100 miler for some motivation. Run Rabbit Run is a Hardrock qualifier and it was in September, which gave me some healing time. I set up my training plan which consisted of hiking with my family, sweeping the first 20 miles of the dirty thirty course, 38 miles of pacing at Bighorn, and 40 miles of pacing at Leadville. My biggest training month was 139 miles in June. I completed my bighorn pacing duties and I felt pretty good until I had another neck issue during my sisters wedding. I was in excruciating pain and barely able to walk. I went to the chiro-(too scared to go to the doctor) and he fixed me up. He said it was a pinched nerve. My Chiro and I were encouraging each other. He also had a recent neck surgery. I was able to heal up and go climbing and hiking throughout the summer. I did my first multipitch climb in a while. I bought a pair of belay glasses so I do not have to look up to climb and belay. It has saved my neck. During this healing process, I also took on another Principalship closer to home. I am very excited to be leading a large elementary school and back to my old school district. The reason I am bringing this up is I have not had the consistent training required to undertake a 100 miler and so I was a little nervous toeing the line on September 12th. My mom flew into crew and my brother Joey and brother-in-law Gabe were on call for pacing duties. Porfidia and the boys were not able to make it because of missing school for Grandma’s funeral the week before and their first cross country meet. We stayed at one of Joey’s air force buddies place and got up early to get to the 8:00 AM start. I was really nervous and knew I would need to take it slow and steady. The first 5 miles was straight up a black diamond run…4,000 vert to the top and we wrapped around the mountain for a nice, downhill rolling section. I had no issues but I was feeling the 15 miles of mountain running. The next section back to town was a steep technical descent. I made use of a walk and run strategy. I got to the 23 mile mark in less than 5 hours and feeling tired and almost missed my crew. The next stage of the race was really interesting it was a rolling up and then down through more of a desert area. I got to meet lots of interesting people. I actually met a Principal from Cheyenne who was raising money for leukemia. I thought that was awesome. I was alone after the aid station for about 3 hours. I was on autopilot and feeling a bit emotional so I facetimed my family and told them I love them and I missed them. I ran quickly down to the 42 mile mark and took a bit of a breather, changed out shoes and ate what I could. I grabbed my pacer Gabe and we were off. We ran walked to a technical uphill segment. This is where the leaders paced me. It was cool running with Rob Krar and watching the leaders Jockeying at this point of the race. Headlamps began to fire up and I got to see the leaders get ready for the night section. I was feeling a bit lethargic and sick to my stomach at about mile 50. This was a low in the race for me. I got to the top of the climb and sat down by the fire. I tried to eat some ramen and broth. I immediately got sick and started to shake. I could not keep anything down and decided to just get out of the aid station and walk. I walked and walked until I began to get really lethargic. I took some caffeine and woke up. This is when I started to feel alive again and began running to mile 65. I met up with my crew and felt great. I ran the last 10 miles to mile 75 and picked up my brother Joey and we started hiking up the last long steep section. It was about 4:00 in the morning and I knew at this point I would finish. I thought only 30 more miles to go. What I did not realize is that it was a tough technical winding section that was hard on tired beat up legs. In the morning hours it was just beautiful, but I was tired and I wanted to be finished. When 9:30 hit I only had 15 more to go. I thought I could cruise and finish in 28 hours. I was tired physically and mentally. I ended up just going, going and going. The last 6 miles were straight down hill and my legs did not enjoy it. I just remember apologizing over and over again to Joey. We just pushed though it and finished in 29 hours and 12 minutes. Good enough for the sub 30 gold buckle. I really did not think I was fit enough to pull that off. I was too tired to really enjoy the feeling of finishing a tough race that comprised of 105 miles or so and well over 20,000 vert. I am so grateful to my crew and pacers. Mom you are the best! There was no way I could do that without them. Grateful and lucky sums it up for me. One lucky dude. Time to fatten up and get ready for Denali in June. That will be interesting!
Friday, April 4, 2014
I was able to hike a bit this week during spring break. I am still off and on and really taking it easy to get into running again. I took off Feb and March. Just hiking. I did manage to sneak in 2 long hikes. I have not been this sore in 9 months. It is tough to be in pain from my own doing. The pain last summer was excruciating and it I am very cautious about going through that again. My surgeon also told me not to run because my neck was not fully fused. My runs involve 3/4 run and 1/4 walk. I average about 10 minutes per mile. After my 10k vert and 27 miles in 2 days my right knee and quads are tired. I played 18 holes and shot a 79. My longest drive was 250 yards. It was fun.