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