Saturday, September 15, 2007

Bohemian Alps 50K 9-15-07

I thought I would share my photos and a short race report from my first Ultra Marathon this past Saturday. The link to all my Photos is at the end of this e-mail, just click on the Bohemian Alps Ultra Marathon Album to view them.

This past Saturday Sept. 15th, I attempted my first of hopefully many Ultras with the great support of my girlfriend Ashley, her son Braden, and my uncle Steve. This race was called the Bohemian Alps Ultra Marathon 50K and was located in the central part of Nebraska not to far from Lincoln. The race was actually a little longer than 50K, it was a 32 mile run. I chose this race because it gave me a chance to drop down in elevation to 1000 feet above sea level and visit family on the way back to Colorado. One would think that since it was located in Nebraska that it would be a flat course but boy was I wrong. It was 32 miles of pure steep rolling hills. The hills were short but steep. You would run up a hill that was only 400-500 yards long and gain 200-300 feet only to look over the top to see miles and miles more of the same. Hills as far as the eye could see, FUN!!!!!

After a night of no sleep due to the rooster crowing from 3:30 am on, we lined up to start at 7:30 am. The first 2 miles I stayed in a pack of about 5 people as I warmed up. The 3 leaders took off like bandits and we lost site of the leader after 2 miles but could always see the other 2. At about the 2 mile mark after a good warm up a guy that I meet in the pack I was running with named Jason from Wahoo (I believe) Nebraska (was a cross country runner at Kansas State) and I decided to push a little since we both felt good. We took turns leading and breaking the wind for each other. It did not take us long to catch and pass the 3rd place guy. About 10 mins later we passed the second place guy around mile 10 and could see the first place guy ahead of us about 1/2 mile. I was starting to hurt as Jason and I pulled into mile 13-14 or so. I looked down at my watch to see that we covered the first 13-14 miles in 1:11ish or so. I just ran the fastest 13 miles that I ever have, there is no way I could keep this pace for 32 miles. At this point I told Jason that I was not going to be able to keep that pace and needed to back off and that I would see him at the end. I needed to run my race. Jason asked me if I was sure about that and I said yes. At this point I set myself into a 8 min mile pace and just chugged along. Ashley even rode her bike with me for a bit, that was great. At mile 16 my uncle Steve decided that he would join me and run for a while to keep me company.

Over the course of the next 10 miles from mile 16 to 26 was pretty uneventful. I did stop once to go to the bathroom but outside of that I just plotted along at my pace. Most of this section was long a tree lined bike path so my crew only had access to me every 2-3 miles or so. This was the most boring section of the race. After breaking off the bike path and getting back on the dirt roads we hit the 26 mile mark fairly quickly at 3:18. Not bad!!! I still felt good too, I was feeling good with only 6 miles left and starting to get cocky when I crashed and hit the bottom of the valley.

At mile 27-28 or so we had to head off into the local cross country course called Timber Point or as the locals called it Timber Hell. This is where I started having stomach and leg issues. I started to feel like I was going to puke and my legs were starting to cramp a bit in the calves. Usually I start feeling this way at mile 22 so not feeling this way until 28 is an improvement I guess. Timber Point was a 2 mile run around a lake on path that was mowed threw the weeds. I slowed greatly because of my problems and out of the fear of rolling an ankle or something. After power walking/ jogging through Timber Hell, it was a great relief to see my crew at mile 30 and get some Cyomax (drink). I ran out while going around the lake only had water which will not do the job. I need calories which is why I was not feeling good.

At this point I only had 2 miles left of jogging/power walking to the finish. These were the longest 2 miles I have experienced so far. I had to break down and put my I-pod on so that I could go away mentally. I did not want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to go away and keep moving forward. The whole time I was cussing at myself for slowing so much and for starting out so fast. Needless to say I finally crossed the finish line at 4:31 in 5th place and it was over........ I could not believe that the last 6 miles took me over an hour to complete. Wow that was a shock.

This was a very humbling experience for me and I am think that I am ready for the Denver Marathon in 3 weeks. I was worried because I seem to crash and burn at mile 22 or so the past couple of races. This seems to no longer be the case. We will see.

I really want to thank Ashley, Braden, and Steve for going with me and crewing for me. This would have been a nightmare without them! Thanks guys!!!

Here is the link to some pictures. Just click on Bohemian Alps Ultra Marathon album.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Doing the Bells with Traverse (South to North)

This is the trip report that I wrote on 9/1/07 for the Maroon Bells climb. Enjoy
Maroon Peak & N Maroon Peak
Date: Saturday, Sept 1st 2007
Route: ascend S Ridge of Maroon Peak, traverse to N Maroon, descend N Maroon NE Ridge
Team: Kirk (KirkT) and Shad (Shad)

I have been zeroing in on these peaks all summer after seeing them on my 4 pass loop trip around the Bell in June. That was the first time that I have been in this area. The first time I saw the Bells I got the urge to climb them. They were officially on my summer of 2007 list.

One week before Labor Day KirkT called me to see what my plans were for the Labor Day weekend. I was supposed to go down to the San Juans for a few days but really was not in the mood to drive that far and had to be home on Monday. He made the suggestion of the Bells and it was game on from that point on.

Friday night at 5pm we left the Denver area and headed to Aspen arriving around 8-9pm. The overnight parking lot was full so we had to park in the overflow parking about 1/4-1/2 mile down the road. I was a little worried about this. How many people are going to be on the mountain tomorrow? Was it going to be safe? We will see.

After a great night of sleeping under the stars we were off at 4:15am hiking up the road to the trailhead. After about 45 mins into the hike I realized that I should not have been leading without my head lamp on. I was on the wrong trail and was doing the loop around Maroon Lake, I missed the turn off for Crater Lake. So an hour was wasted, oh well. After getting on the the correct trail we hit Crater Lake and the turn off to head up the ridge by the bent tree in no time. At Crater Lake I thought about hiding my rope and climbing gear here and picking up on the way back because I had a pinched nerve or something in my neck and the weight was bothering me. I decided to take it anyway and suffer with the weight so I popped a couple of pills. Good think I did as you will see later. From here on out it is going to be an uphill slog.

The first half of the trail to gain the ridge was easy to follow but we lost the trail once we got into the rocks so we decided to make our own way up. Here is a trail map. In blue is the standard route and in red is our route. I may be off a little but should be very close to where we went. We tryed to stay as direct as possible.

At this point in the game we have passed 2 or so people and could see 3 head of us. I guess all those people were somewhere else and not on the Bells. We only saw about 10-12 people all day.

We finally gained the ridge by the notch.

From here we just followed the carins to the summit.

It took us about 6 hours to get to the top of South Maroon with the 1 hour side trip around Maroon Lake that I lead us on. But we made it no problem.

After spending a half hour on the summit watching the clouds we decided that we both were ok with the weather and that we were going to commit to the traverse. We left down the traverse around 11 or so. The first part of the traverse from South to North is the down climb down into the bottom of the saddle. This down climb is not bad if you take your time and not rush it. After hitting the bottom of the saddle the fun begins as you climb up North Maroon.

It took us two hours to complete the traverse from South Maroon to North Maroon.

The decent off of North Maroon took all of my energy and I did not take the time for pictures. This was one of the hardest down climbs that I have ever done. We did the traverse without using the rope but due to how poorly the route was marked on the decent of North Maroon we kept getting off route and caught in cliff bands. We ended up doing 2 repells to get off this mountain, one of about 30 feet and one of about 100 feet. It was the longest and most tiring decent I have ever done. It took us 6 hours to get from the top of North Maroon back to the car.

We finally reached the lovely site of Kirk‘s truck at 7:30pm, 15 hours after starting. What a day!!! We were both beat and in trouble, Kirk with his wife and me with my girlfriend. It took us 5 hours longer than we thought it would and they were worried. They had every right to be for we under estimated how hard the route finding on this mountain would be. Even with all of this this has been my favorite climb so far as I hit the halfway point of my 14er list. I would gladly do it again for everyone that knows me well knows that I am sucker for punishment.

Here is a link to all my pictures.

Link to trip report on, just cut and paste into browser: