Thursday, August 23, 2012


Transcend Transcend… I remember reading a text from my wife when I was at mile 35 during the 2012 Leadville Trail 100. The text said… transcend. I needed some love at mile 35 after leaving the aid station. I was worn out tired and not moving fast. Ultra runners say that during a long run there are 3 distinct stages. The physical, the mental and the spiritual. This transcendence from one stage to another is why some runners keep coming back to the ultra. When you are physically and mentally exhausted it becomes a battle of “why”… Why am I doing this again? It hurts, I am not making any money, and I could be home watching football. Why am I doing this? I feel it is the pure enjoyment of seeing and feeling your body and mind go through the transcendence and to see if you are tough enough physically and mentally to accomplish a 100 miles or 102 miles as we find out later. I was a little curious and hesitant to see how I would do on a 100 miler after the lack of training, focus on my job and trying to find that elusive balance. I did not train that hard compared to my buddies that were putting in 90+ miles a week. I was doing about 50+ miles and my highest total monthly mileage was 208. To be honest I was truly doubtful that I would be able to finish…but I had a good attitude and really was looking forward to trying. When the gun went off at 4:00 AM in Leadville. I was frantically trying to call my mom and my wife to tell them where I was starting in the pack of 800 people. I was excited to have my mom come out and support the crew during the race. I finally had to put the phone away and I spotted my buddy Shad right behind me. We trained a lot together and I was excited to run with him at least for the first 26 miles. I told him we could help pace each other and enjoy the morning. The start of the race felt good because I was itching to run and I got a good night sleep considering the daunting task of running a 100 miles. Shad and I comfortably rolled into Mayqueen in 2 hours on the dot 13.5 miles in. That was a bit too fast for my liking… but we felt good and I did not feel overworked. Shad caught back up and we chatted up the Colorado Trail to the Sugarloaf pass. We ran most of it and during the descent to the Fish Hatchery we kept a steady pace…trying not to blow the quads. I got to the aid station in 3:55. 23.5 miles in and feeling good but my legs were tiring. I ate a PB sandwich and some turkey and ran out to hit the road to treeline. I saw my wife pull up at that point with my mom and they cheered me on. They ended up coming by me again and handed me some Arnica (a herbal topical cream or solution that is amazing in pain reducing qualities). I might just have to start selling it to ultra runners. I made it to tree line and that is when I lost my friend Shad. He was cruising and I just could not keep up. I was beginning to feel down and not happy. I ran to Half Pipe aid station and wanted to quit at mile 30. I got there in 5:15. I took a nice 5-minute bathroom break, ate, drank some coke, and continued on with no one to help me with my anger and disenchantment. I got to mile 35 and I texted my mom and my wife. Mile 35 was the breaking point for me. It hurt and I knew I had 65 more miles to put in. I was only a third of the way. That is when I typed, “I need some love” my mom said she loved me and Porfidia said Transcend. Porfidia and I laugh about that term. It means to go beyond or rise above…but I know what she meant. She meant what every tough runner goes through… doubt. I doubted my ability. I doubted my purpose. I doubted I could get it done. I started walking, doubting and thinking about calling it quits. I got to the next aid station at mile 37 that only had water. I know I looked deflated and the aid station captain pumped me up. He said only 3 miles to Twin Lakes and it is all down hill…get after it. I knew I could make it 3 more miles and I knew I would see the family I just wanted to see my family. That is the best feeling when you are in those deep dark places and you know your family is right there for you. I got to twin lakes and I started looking around and I saw my brother in law Gabe. He is an amazing, smart, inspiration that I can’t stop bragging about. I asked Gabe where is everyone? “I'm not doing good buddy”! I harped. Gabe escorted me down to change my shoes. He hooked me up with some food and I just left Twin lakes knowing the next 20 miles would make or break the day. The next make or break part is the hope pass section. It is steep and difficult due to the climbing and the terrain. I got up and grabbed my bottles and decided to run a bit to the river. The river was very low. I don’t remember it being so low the last time I crossed it. I kept running and met the climb with the usual one foot in front of the other mentality. I climbed and climbed. I did not stop but was moving slow. I got passed a couple of times which is really deflating because I consider myself a strong climber. I made it to the top and saw some top runners in the state sitting and trying to catch their breath. I thought wow I guess I am not doing that bad. I got up and summited the 12,660 passes. I ran the rest of the way down the 20% technical grade. The new section of trail, although 1 mile longer and more vertical, was beautiful. I was depressed that my splits were not on par thus far and the additional 1 mile each way was going to hinder my chance at that big buckle. I kept run/walking until I was really getting irritated that I should be to the half way point by now. The additional mile seemed to be indefinite and never ending. I finally found the downhill to the down and I knew I was behind schedule. I just wanted to pick up my pacer-Gabe and move. When I got to Winfield in 11 hours and it was the typical zoo of cars and people. It is always a zoo due to the fact that not that many people should be there. It is a ghost town for a reason. When I saw everyone I announced I am not doing good. I don’t know what I need and I don’t care. I am sick and I want to either keep going or keep going (I did not have an option in my head). I stumbled on to the weigh machine and I had only dropped 1 pound. That is pretty good! I ate a pb and j and some broth and coke. I wanted to get out of there with my pacer. I just kept walking and kissed the kids and wife and moved. Gabe got back up to me and handed me an Advil and some salt tablets. The salt got dislodged in the throat and everything I just ate came up. I felt better though and started running. This was the turning point for me and the most amazing thing I have ever done. I ran…I ran like I felt. I did not get passed all the way to the top of hope pass. I felt good and Gabe kept handing me gels to eat and drink. I did not care. I made it to the top and ran all the way down to Twin. When I got to twin lakes I felt like I could do this under 24. I wanted that big buckle. I did what I could to take care of some overuse problems changed shoes and moved. I ran to get some food and my pacer Justin caught up. I love running with Justin. He is a positive guy and a great runner. I knew the next 3 miles were uphill so I began to power hike and never stopped. I told Justin I was not feeling well again. I told him to search for some Zantacs and Tylenol pronto. He searched and could not find them. I told him I needed to slow down because my heart was pounding. I was light headed and was barely moving. This was not good. I needed calories badly. I moved slowly and I felt if I continued I could eat a bit of hamburger and try to get some goo in my body. I did just that and ran/hiked to half pipe aid station. The next section is down hill and I ran most of it. I felt ok but I was in a battle. I knew it could be better or faster. I ran and walked to the Fish Hatchery. I got there at 11:00 PM. I knew it would be difficult to make it home in 6 hours even though it was only 23 miles. I felt that it was possible until I picked up my pacer and brother Sam who said we would have to average 16 minute miles to get that big buckle. I know how difficult this section is..Powerline. It can be so slow! I would love to average 16 minute miles. I was not too sure. Sam is perfect for this section. He is my best friend and climbing partner. I trust him with my life and I would do anything for him! I grabbed my poles and I ran and walked up powerline. We averaged exactly 16 minute miles up the pass. This was when I knew I had it. I was running and feeling good with 17 miles to go! I got down to Mayqueen and I had 3:45 minutes to finish the last 13.5 miles. I ran when I felt like and walked when I needed to. I met my last pacer…Porfidia at the boat ramp with 7.5 miles to go. I knew I had the big belt buckle but she pushed me to move faster and run. I ran a good portion of the single track to the dirt road. We passed a few runners, but it was truly quiet. It was dark and quiet. No runners and my wife and I were able to joke have fun. This was the true transcendence during the run. I felt happy, excited and grateful. We made it up the road to the finish. I saw the finish ahead with 30 minutes to spare. I was tired but happy. I began to reflect on my years as a father, brother, husband, friend, coworker and boss. I know I can do great things physically but I want to transcend into the mental and spiritual side of relationships. The relationships you build and grow truly determine who you are. I crossed the finish line in my goal time and all I could think about is I hope I did not hurt myself because I don’t have insurance and I need to focus on the people that matter most in my life. Sammy, Justin, Gabe, Porfidia, my boys and mom. Thanks for helping me finish this and keeping me strong throughout the race. My focus is going to change to being more balanced and being there for the people in my life. Ultra running takes a lot of time and I am not sure if it is the best time. Yes…it is the best time for me but it is not all about me. It is the legacy you live and how you demonstrate kindness and altruism as you work towards your goals. I hope everyone accomplishes something they want and have the mental, physical and spiritual fortitude to make those dreams come true. Thanks to my peeps and god bless Place Bib Name Cat MayQueen1 FishHatch1 HalfPipe1 TwinLakes1 Hope1 Winfield Hope2 TwinLakes2 HalfPipe2 FishHatch2 MayQueen2 To Finish Time 72 270 Donald Beuke M3 2:00:57 1:54:39 1:23:55 1:51:54 2:16:37 1:33:33 2:12:18 1:25:49 2:13:35 1:51:39 2:42:56 3:15:30 24:43:25.21


  1. Don - very stoked for you. Way to look at despair in the eye at 35 miles and power on and TRANSCEND.

  2. Thanks GZ. Let's go for a run soon. Is jz in cross country too? My 4th grader is. It would be fun to run with you at the Broomfield commons. Tim's daughter is probably running and the guys run for a bit while the kids run. Take care and hope to see you around