Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Books Read in 2010

At the beginning of the year I decided that since I was unemployed and had lots of time on my hands with no cable TV to watch that I would try my hand in reading more. I set a goal of reading 12 books in 2010. Needless to say I surpassed that without a problem. I read 16 of these books before starting my new job in March. With working at a great new job my book reading goal in 2011 will be a more modest 12 books again or one a month. You can also look at some of my reviews for these books on my LinkedIn profile by clicking here. I keep a running list on this profile since LinkedIn offers this cool feature.

Below is my 2010 list along with a link to each on on

2010 books read

1. Die Trying
2. Born to Run
3. 14er Distasters
4. Forever on the Mountain
5. Montana Mountain Goat (local Montana book, not on Amazon)
6. Pre
7. Above the Clouds
8. The Beckoning Silence
9. Running with the Buffaloes
10. The Long Walk by Rawicz
11. Fire on the Mountain
12. The Greatest- Haile Gebrselassie
13. Gold Hill and Back
14. Effective Project Management
15. Beyond the Mountain
16. Minus 148
17. Raising the Bar- Gary Erickson
18. No Shortcuts to the Top
19. Mountain Rescue Doctor
20. Once a Runner
21. Goal Setting (WorkSmart book)
22. Touching the Void
23. Dual in the Sun
24. Hyperfitness
25. Where Men Win Glory- Krakauer
26. Again to Carthage
27. Last Climb
28. What the CEO wants you to know

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Runner in Winter (Boulder Colorado)

Here is a great video of the local trails that I run before work sometimes and on weekends. Thanks GZ and Brandon for pointing this out.

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Balance MT101 Give away

Go over here and throw your name into the hat. This dude has been giving lots of stuff away this holiday season. All you have to do is comment on his blog.

Peace- Shad

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series Part 10

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.

Maybe you saw me on TV. The Western States 100 was featured on NBC's World of Adventure Sports in July of 2007. I was interviewed the day before the race as well as at mile 56. You might have noted my deliberate and rational mental preparation during the former, and my almost complete mental breakdown during the latter. I was stopped. Though desperate for water, I could barely sip any fluid. Though desperate for calories, I could only nibble at food. Everything was making me sick. The run had already completely stripped me of all pretense and all hope of finishing competitively. When asked how I was doing, I could only respond: "I can't imagine going on."

I have only been able to muster the desire to run Western States on alternate years. I ran in 2005 until I dropped out at mile 78. At mile 20, my vision completely blurred in one eye, I collided with a sharp branch and gouged my right thigh. Over the next 50 miles, the inflammation grew intolerable. In 2009, I once again organized my training around preparation for this pre-eminent ultramarathon. I sprained my ankle at mile 12. Although I finished, I wasn't able to run again until late fall that year. When I did start training again, I developed chronic Achilles tendinitis that stayed with me through the five ultras I started in 2010. When I became simultaneously plagued by an acute hamstring pain, I stopped running. Instead, I began to saw and split large fallen trees for firewood. Seriously. I gave myself a hernia.

That was two and a half weeks ago. Last Thursday, I was scheduled for a follow-up exam with the surgeon. I jogged lightly in the morning. Knowing my propensities, he asked if I had been running since the surgery. He checked my incision, cut a suture and sent me out with a pass to ramp up training again at my discretion.

Early last spring, after months of trouble with my Achilles, I was told that recovery would likely depend on spending a year limited to very light running. I had reasons to try and run anyway. For several years I've enjoyed the benefits of competing with a sponsored ultrarunning team. I wanted to keep my place on the team. So, I ran even when I would have been better served by resting. Now I have given myself no real options.

That is the ultimate truth we have to contend with: Decision making, like politics, is local. Each depends on nearby factors. Appearances notwithstanding, choices aren't freely made. The decision to run depends on the rewards we get by doing it, offset by the costs we incur. So why are some people able to exercise moderation and work toward their long-term interest while others fall prey to temptation, overdo it and end up injured?

Freedom emerges where the person inserts long-term interests into near-term calculations. This doesn't involve magic, but it does involve reflection and effort. My purpose in the previous nine parts of this series has been to elucidate the kind of reflection and effort required. One pitfall we both face when I write about willpower is that we may both be convinced it is something I have and you need. So I keep reminding myself, and you, that willpower doesn’t work that way. We cultivate the freedom we desire. When we imagine that it is a gift that some just happen to have, it immediately evaporates.

Aligning short and long-term interests mostly requires a comfortable relationship with the passage of time. Yes, patience is a virtue, and your best ally in cultivating freedom. As I hope I’ve shown, I’m not particularly patient. When I start training after a layoff, my impulse is to see how far or how fast I can go. After a few weeks I feel good — I’ve readjusted to the immediate metabolic demands and my legs itch to move faster. The short-term gratification I get from running longer and faster does not align with the long-term benefits I’ll get from coming back slowly.

I’ll need to refer to my own playbook to manage. If you haven’t already read them, check out parts 1–9 in this series (see "related articles" below). At the core of developing willpower is one central tenet: feelings change. What feels good today may not feel good tomorrow and perhaps, more importantly, what feels painful today may not cause pain tomorrow. One of the greatest appeals of running ultramarathons is that we are forced to realize that it never always gets worse. That’s because you will have run into the wall. The race is so long, though, that you have time to come out on the other side. The most striking thing you find is that what had seemed hopeless can be recovered. You will rise and fly again and quite likely feel ecstatic for having transformed yourself.

If you did catch that episode of World of Adventure Sports, and stuck it out through the last commercial break, you saw the backside of a tall scrawny runner as he strode through the undergrowth en route to a respectable sub 24-hour finish at the Western States 100. I was conferred the Energizer Bunny award for getting back on the trail and finishing despite my near total collapse only a little over halfway through the run. The reward of finishing was reason enough for withstanding the trials of that day. The real value of the experience, however, was outlasting my impulse to stop. Nearly every bone in my body cried to be still and rest. A very subtle chord resonated through me that this too shall pass. So I hobbled out of the aid station, then walked, jogged and finally ran again. All it took was time.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series Part 9

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.

I'd like to challenge you to a race. If you accept, we'll meet at a time of my choosing, run a distance of my choosing along a course that, yes, I choose. I'll inform you of my choices only as you absolutely have to know them. I'll text you 15 minutes before the start so you can get your shoes on. I'll have the course marked clearly, but you will only be able to see markings as you approach them. You will not know how far you have to go, or what lies ahead. You won't know where the finish is until you get there.

You may want know my reasons for challenging you. OK, let's say that I just want to beat you. Suppose that you also want to beat me. Will you accept? If we have similar abilities, do I gain an advantage by knowing the parameters of the race? You probably feel that I do. I'll be able to plan, after all. I'll eat the optimal pre-race foods, ensure I get enough sleep and choose the best shoes and clothes for the distance and terrain. I would certainly understand any reluctance you might feel about racing me.

What if I told you that my purpose is actually to see how fast I can get you to run? I know how you are before races. You get all wound up. You obsess over race preparation, exhausting yourself before you even start. And the night before? You barely sleep. I'm offering you a way around all that tiresome hassle. I've got your best interest at heart, so will you accept my challenge now? I want you to imagine that you can actually run better by knowing less about the race, even as you run it. You can shut down your brain and just run, pleasantly unaware of your remaining mileage. I’ll do the thinking for you, and set a pace that I think will be optimal.

Those who compete in trail races, especially trail ultramarathons, get a small taste of how this kind of challenge plays out. Trail races are difficult to measure and mark, so there is an element of surprise, especially the first time runners compete on a given course. Most race directors do not post mile markers, and even posted mileages are notoriously inaccurate. The Hellgate 100K may be the most sinister ultramarathon you can run. It starts at midnight on a Friday night in December near Fincastle, Va. I was certainly in the dark the first year I ran it. Because of snow and ice, the crew assigned to mark the course fell behind, so I ended up in front of them. Not only was I unsure of mileage, but I was also unsure of the route. When I started climbing, I had no idea whether I was in for 100 or 1,000 vertical feet. There are nine aid stations where runners can grab food, refill bottles and try to regain sanity. If you are deliberate enough while you are there, you'll think to ask about the distance to the next aid station.

After running through the night and into the frigid dawn, stamping postholes into interminable stretches of snow and ice for over 50 miles, you will arrive at the eighth Hellgate aid station. If you are collected enough to ask, they'll tell you it is 6.6 miles to the ninth, and final, aid station (click here a complete course description). That doesn't sound too bad, so you stride out on the lengthy downhill section of gravel road, thinking that this second-to-last segment will pass quickly. When you turn onto meandering single track, you are slowed. You climb hills and go around corners, always thinking that just around the next turn you'll see some sign of the aid station. It doesn't come. You were thinking you'd finish that section in an hour. You are already at 1:20. Your suffering is protracted, but what happens to your performance? Did thinking you only had 6.6 miles until the next break cause you to run a little faster than you might have had you known the actual distance was at least 8 miles? How does your consideration of the distance to be run in any race affect your pace and your perception of effort?

When Jure Robic died in a collision with a car in September, he cut short a legacy of perhaps the greatest feats of endurance achieved by any person. He rode his bicycle an average of 28,000 miles every year. He holds the world record for a 24 hour ride: 518.7 miles. He has won the Race Across America an unparalleled five times. According to a New York Times story from 2006, Robic left decisions during events to his crew, termed his "second brain." Robic was allowed to choose the music he listened to, but all the other decisions, including speed, breaks and fueling, were left to his crew. Significantly, they kept him uninformed about remaining mileages. So was keeping Robic in the dark a good way to promote top performance? Perhaps my challenge to you was not so unfair after all!

The year after I graduated from college, I traveled to Japan with an invited group of athletes to compete alongside Japanese collegians in an Ekiden. I ran the final leg, some 21K, for our eight-person team. I was handed the team sash in the middle of the countryside en route to the holy city of Ise. I ran completely alone through a light drizzle all the way to the famous Shinto shrine, where the race finished. I had no feedback about pace or distance other than my watch and my own senses. I simply ran, unreflectively soaking up the sensations of a strange land while metering out my effort. Afterwards, I had to be shown how my split stacked up against those of my Japanese counterparts. I had the second-best time for that leg.

So maybe I can persuade you that a seemingly unthinking approach to running can yield good results. That isn’t my intention. Training and racing are ultimately exercises of your intelligence. What I want is for you to broaden your concept of running intelligence to include all the things you do with and without conscious awareness. Even if you don't offload training and racing decisions to a separate crew, you should still locate and use your own second brain. It extends through your body and into every extremity. It is your activity and your feedback. You can call it intuition, but it isn't mindless, and it requires honing just like any other intelligence.

It is me.

So what do you say? Let’s see how fast we can run this thing.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series Part 8

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.

The energy in the dorm would just be ramping up when it was time for me to trek across campus to the Blue Room. Every Saturday night, I donned my apron and stood behind the counter, mixing frappes for the slow trickle of customers until close. I maintained this trade-off throughout college; I gave up socializing on Saturday nights. In exchange, I gained a small amount of money, but, more importantly, I was always up for the Sunday morning long run. To be fair, all of my teammates made the run as well. The difference was that, on occasion, some of them felt a lot worse than I did.

College students, even serious athletes, occasionally succumb to the temptations readily available on weekend nights. When I was in college, Saturday morning races meant we retired early on Friday night. Saturday nights were more negotiable. In the balance? We all knew about the workout for the next day: It would be the time honored Sunday morning over-distance run. Early on Saturday evening, a runner might well decide to lay off the alcohol and turn in before the wee hours of the morning, knowing that the quality of the next day's run would be higher. The calculus changes, however, with the developing circumstances of the evening: more friends arriving, better music playing, a girl lingering.

We attributed a weakness of willpower to those who fell prey to such temptations and would show up in less-than-optimal condition on Sunday morning. We imagined that temptation stood, like the devil, on one shoulder and outmaneuvered the angel on the opposite shoulder. “Poor sucker!” we'd think, “If only he had listened to the angel!” He could have been cruising through the relatively easy 6:30 per-mile pace. Instead, he’d grit his teeth and barely cling to the back of the group. He may have even expressed regret for his lack of restraint. If the run was bad enough, he may have remembered it well enough for his little angel to bring it up the next time. “Hey dummy,” the angel would say, “You remember what happened last time!”

This raises an important question: If the angel prevails the next time, will our runner be any less of a sucker? Isn’t he still just doing what he is told and obeying the immediate pros and cons as best presented to him? I want to convince you that responding to the angel takes no more strength of will than responding to the devil.

The bottom line is that any choice is ultimately a calculation that pits the pros and cons against each other. Every decision has its reasons. We may think a particular decision ill-considered, but who are we to say? If the Sunday run is important enough to trump Saturday night festivities, then it will. We let the angel and the devil duke it out, and side with the most convincing.

This dynamic implies an existential and practical problem for runners. Like G.W. Bush, we want to be “the decider.” We want credit for our accomplishments. Before the season, we want to set goals for what we can do and afterward, we want to reflect on what we did. If every decision was simply a cost-benefit analysis that depended only on the circumstances at the time, we really can't take credit for any of it. Worse, much of what we want to take credit for is our effort. If our decisions to exert ourselves are really out of our hands (and in the hands of talking critters) then how can we claim that effort as our own? Any autonomous motivation seems doomed to dry up before we even get started.

You may like to think that you really are like the president and can exercise veto power over your little critter advisers. Well, suppose that I grant you veto power? You get to decide now between that next drink and going home early. What sways you? Some reason, right? You didn’t just make the answer up, did you? In that case, you might just as well have rolled the dice or consulted a random answer generator. You can’t then turn around and claim credit for that decision! So while I don't think we can escape the immediate calculus that goes into our decisions, I would like to explore the sliver of light that gives us some leverage over our decisions.

We think of decisions like they happen on the spot, when we have to provide the answer to the perennial question: “Should I stay or should I go now?” This is thankfully false. Your ray of light is that you can make decisions over time that build a long perspective to deal with the question. The trick is to stack the negotiation so that the best answer is the one that is supplied by your critters.

There are a lot of ways to stack your decisions. I’ll provide three that I think provide potent examples:

1. Set the default to "run." Suppose the devil and the angel provide equally compelling cases. Instead of a “jump ball,” have a possession arrow and keep it pointed on the same team. The angel always wins the ball. So, the weather’s really bad, but you skipped the last one and you really need this workout. The scales are about even. Check the arrow: It says “run.”

2. Invert the incentives. Hard workouts can be uncomfortable. Your devil critter can use this against you. “You’ll suffer if you try these hill repeats,” he’ll say. You can, over time, make the discomfort its own reward, like training for a hot race by turning on the heat in the car during the summer. By continuously reprogramming your own responses to dreaded stimuli, you can make them feel positive. “Bring on the heat,” you’ll say. Likewise, late on Saturday night, you can embrace your monastic celibacy.

3. Raise the stakes. Think of the runner who stops at a port-a-potty, and, fiddling with his running shorts, accidentally drops his keys into the froth. He bangs open the door, takes off his wedding ring and throws it in after the keys. His buddy, waiting outside, exclaims “What are you doing?” to which the runner retorts, “You didn’t think I was going in just for the keys, did you?!” Similarly, you can give your runs epochal significance by making them seem disproportionately important. You can imagine that missing a run or even being less than ready to do one well, will set you back compared to your competition. While it may not, strictly speaking, be true, the motivation to put running first may indeed serve to keep you ahead of your nearest competitors. And that motivation is increased by stacking the negotiation.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Red Bull Pony Express run

I got this from GZ who got it from Scott.

Karl is a nut case! That is all I can say. Enjoy.

Tor des Geants

I have never even heard of this race before today but this makes any race in the US look like child's play. HOLY CRAP!

The Tor des Geants, held this year from Sept. 12 to 19, is a 200-mile race through the Italian Alps, with a couple dozen passes, rough and rocky trails, and nearly 80,000 feet of climbing. Beat (guy in the video from CA) finished the race in 132 hours - more than five days - on less than five hours of sleep. He didn't intend to try to convey the entire experience of the Tor des Geants, just touch the surface of what it might be like to barely sleep for five days and cross 25 steep passes in the Italian Alps.

Freakin NUTS!! I think this one might have to go on the bucket list.

No sleep 'til Courmayeur from Jill Homer on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series Part 7

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.

Sometimes the voices of our ancestors whisper to us on the faintest breeze and sometimes we have to be blown over. Distance runners situate themselves to catch both kinds of wind.

I’m running just inside the tall perimeter fence at Johnson Middle School. The 7th graders are running circuits. We come back around to coach Hines for the second time and he stops us to introduce the next activity. I ask if I can keep running.

Ray Nichols stops by my house at the start of his run to Crescent Hill Reservoir. He’s several years older than I. He plays basketball for the high school. He runs to stay in shape. We run around the reservoir. I ask him why he spits. We run back and past my house. He stops at his house and I keep going. He looks puzzled.

I’m in coach Worful’s classroom after school, reclined in a desk. We’re talking about the spring. Many of my friends will be playing soccer. I will miss them.

The van has no A/C, so we roll into Philadelphia with hot air billowing through the windows. It’s May of 1990 and I sit shotgun, talking breezily with Berg. I tell him after graduation I plan to cross the country on motorcycle and run road races. He says: “I’ll give you $100 to get you started.” That evening I race 25 laps around Penn’s track, swapping leads with a Dartmouth runner.

I’m sitting under a picnic pavilion in Duluth, Minn. The mud is caked on my legs, all the way up my backside and spattered across the slogan on my homemade shirt: “KNOW DEFATIGATION.” Dusty Olsen trots across the finish. “You should carry water,” he says. “I finished in front of you,” I respond.

Melody has been waiting for me. She’s at mile 92 of the Western States 100. I tried to stop at mile 85. The tipsy aid station workers hovered over my skeletal frame. It wasn’t possible to stay there. I left for a final 7-mile slog. I arrive to a displaced carnival refreshment stand buzzing with activity in the middle of a remote darkness. Melody doesn’t accept my plea. “You came here for this,” she says.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series Part 6

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.

The buffer of warmth generated from running met the crisp autumn air. The countless tiny droplets from our quick breaths caught the faint glow from the distant street light. We celebrated the end of our season in a fitting way: We played chase. Jennifer Sinai invited the teams to a slumber party at her house, and we were loose on the fields of Sacred Heart Academy that abutted her backyard. Now that I was relieved of the pressure to perform, I became aware of the free flow of air in and out of my body.

That morning it had been a chore just to eat. I was completely congested. I sat across from my coach at Denny’s. I tried to blow my nose so that I could chew and breathe at the same time. He didn’t say anything at the time, but later he told me I had sounded like a fog horn, and knew we were in for a hard day.

Sure enough, I blew another state meet. For a high school athlete, the stakes don’t get any higher. Almost hourly since the previous Monday I was reminded — with an accompanying wave of anxiety — that this was what all the preparation had been about. I had deferred getting nervous about all the preceding meets by assuring myself that each was small potatoes compared to the state meet. Now I had to pay up.

I don’t remember much about the race other than that it was a slog. I had finished ahead of all the other runners in regular season races. Although I felt like I was yoked to my plow and breaking hard soil with every step, I stayed near the lead for the first mile. As runners started to pass me, I remember wishing Dave Lawhorn, my teammate and best friend, well. He went on to a great finish for him in seventh place. At least 20 runners finished ahead of me. My recollection of the run is hazy, but I remember that evening with crystal clarity.

I paused between flights in our game and hovered in the shadow of an old tree. My vaporous breath hinted at a lightness of being completely betrayed by my earth-bound performance that morning. I articulated the problem to myself and got an answer. The problem: Many things are out of our control. The five kilometer course for the state meet is set at the Kentucky Horse Park, on ground trounced by countless horses. There are other fast runners, many of whom prepare zealously to run as fast as possible. Even the things I might hope to control, like my own state of mind in the days before a big event, may well elude my efforts and manifest as illness. On any given day, and especially on a big day, I might do worse than expected.

I might do worse than expected. The sparkle of the street lamp was an angel with the divine revelation: You have a year to prepare so that on the first Saturday in November you may have a bad day … and still finish ahead of all the other runners. My path became clear. I began to plan for the training required to finish a minute or so faster than my nearest competitor.

If you have been around running for a while, none of what I did will come as a surprise. Every issue of Running Times will include some version of the training regimens that reliably yield improvement. I know that night I planned for the added mileage, mostly as additional morning runs and weekly long runs, that I would need.

You can find ways to improve.

We should not brush lightly over well-worn phrases like “set goals,” and “expect the unexpected.” Our ability to use these tools gives us leverage. The world hums along, obeying its own logic, indifferent to our appeals. When we are too proud, we expect that our efforts will be rewarded. When we are too humble, we give up on our projects as hopeless. When we engage with the world and learn from our efforts, we move forward. When we do the work to review our mistakes, we can figure out ways to avoid those same mistakes. When we set goals, we can devise means of reaching those goals based on our own experiences and the experiences of others who have set similar goals. Most importantly, when we take into account those things that used to seem outside of our control, we grow in stature. We assume responsibility for our “off days” and get credit when we succeed despite them.

It should be only slightly anticlimactic to reveal that I finished second at the state championship the following year. My relative performance suffered, as it had before. My time, however, was a minute and 20 seconds faster than the year before. Though my training didn’t put all of my competitors out of reach, I had finished ahead of every other runner in every one of my regular season meets. Rob Shoaf, the state champion both years, had made plans of his own. As competitors will, he took my performances into account and trained so that his fitness peaked just as mine declined. The friendly rivalry was good for both of us. I’m certain that he values the memories of high school competition as much as I do. Not because we can reminisce about our moments of glory, but because our recollections reinforce the nature of performance more generally: We can do better.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series Part 5

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.

This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you.

You won't like this message, but you need to hear it: Stop being so puny. You keep shrinking. You do what you're told. You follow the money. You run on warm, sunny days. That would be OK if you also thought for yourself, did things that had no reward, and, most importantly, you ran when it was cold and wet. I can hear you formulating your response already. Be careful. Don't make yourself punier than you already are.

You've got a lot of good reasons to make excuses. For starters, think of how much bigger the world is than you. Who are you to resist gravity, reverse the rotation of the earth or pull back on the outward expansion of the universe? Even among the world of people, you are only one of countless hordes. You don’t even stand out against the backdrop of those you can name: your extended family, those at work or those in your circle of friends (and competitors). You cave to the pressure your boss puts on you, yield to the leverage wielded by your family and haplessly participate in exchanges that depend on little beyond what your neighbor happens to be doing. Is there any wiggle room actually left for you to maneuver? You are vanishingly small.

Worse, you like it this way. You don’t have to own up. When someone tries to pin you down, you have a ready response.

“It wasn't me!" you explain.

Your boss made you do it. You were only doing what it took to keep peace in your family. You were only doing what every other person seemed to be doing. You know how lame that is. Who do you think you are? Don’t answer! Just take the punches. Let them leave a deep impression. You need it.

You've been pressed on this before, I know. It started when you were young. You made your little brother cry; you left him doubled over from the roundhouse you practiced on him. Why did you do that? What were you thinking? Here’s where you dug the hole in which you’ve been carrying aces ever since.

You’ve gone to that hole often, and recently. Yes, you’ve hurt others. But we’re talking about you right now. Why did you keep running through the pain until you wound up injured? You don't even have to think. You’ve got your ace.

"I didn't mean to!" you practically scream at me.

That excuse is so insidious. No edifice can contain it. Yes, you get to declare your intentions. But when your act is offered to you and you refuse to claim it, anything you might have been oozes out of your weak grip and through your soft stance. You are little more than thin, shapeless goo.

When the truth of that has sunk in, maybe you will be ready to build this thing from the ground up. Yes, I’m talking about you, Eric. Only when you accept that you are nothing will we be able to get somewhere.

You will have to claim yourself, one footstep at a time, by taking responsibility for the direction you find yourself headed. No excuses.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series Part 4

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.

One of my earliest crushes was a demure small-featured girl who visited my neighborhood each weekend. Whitney’s father shared custody of the children, including two younger brothers: Joel and Jamie. I imagine the quarters were small. In any case, we spent our time outside, where Joel and I had plenty of space to goof around. Our partnership worked well: He got to play with an older boy, and I could lose my inhibitions long enough to catch Whitney’s attention with our crazy antics.

I knew it was working when I ran continuous laps around the block with Joel riding piggyback. Each time I crossed in front of the house Whitney sang out from the porch: “I think you’re really loony but you’re really loony-toony.” We eventually established that we liked each other. I don’t remember if we ever defined our relationship, but I remember one summer that Whitney spent away. For a long time I kept a box of all the letters she wrote me during that time.

We had at least one date. Whitney went to Collegiate School in Louisville and she invited me to a school dance. It must have been semi-formal, because I remember being dropped off at the home of her mother and stepfather and waiting at the door feeling utterly self-conscious in my borrowed brown sport coat. Thank heavens for the beneficence of the older generation, who can casually intervene when middle school becomes unbearably awkward. Will, Whitney’s stepfather, opened the door, pipe in hand, and ushered me in. “Your outfit is a symphony of brown,” he stated. The ice broken, he kept up the cheery banter throughout our dinner.

Too bad he didn’t go to the dance with us. I won’t linger long on the gory details. Just picture a half-lit wall with a line-up of gangly overdressed preteens pressing backwards like they wish they could disappear and pop through to the other side. We wished we could cut loose. Someone had collected good dance tracks. “Rock Lobster” echoed across the empty dance floor. We were completely constrained by our self-consciousness. We needed a Joel to run across the floor and slide on his knees to seize the hand of a partner. He could have dragged her off the wall. When “No Parking on the Dance Floor” played, he would have the perfect excuse to pry the rest of us off.

That’s the lesson in motivation: When the music plays, you dance. There’s no room for reflecting on it. Think of how different the dance floor looks when you are on it, dancing, compared to when you stand pensively beside it. You stand by the dance floor because you don’t want others to see how silly you might look. Dancing from the middle of the floor, the music fills your body and you move with it and with the people around you. You stop thinking about how others will view you and you just are. You are less self-conscious and therefore more yourself.

Your continued motivation depends upon your ability to perform to your potential. High-level performance depends upon achieving the state of mind in which you are the performance and nothing else. To achieve this, you will need to have developed the habit of complete focus and engagement with the task at hand. This Holy Grail of sports psychology may be best known as “the zone.” When you are in the zone, you have a heightened awareness of salient sensory information (baseball pitchers, for example, see a larger strike zone), and you become less aware that time is passing. You move fluidly, without hesitation. You are “lost” in the moment, but, ironically, just when you stop thinking about yourself, the best you can perform.

You can find lots of prescriptions for reaching the zone. These are like diets. If they worked, we’d stop hearing about them. The problem is, we are working against antagonistic forces. In the case of diets, we are working against the biological imperatives to stock up and the environmental triggers to consume. In the case of reaching the zone, we are working against the biosocial need to fit in. With the exception of sociopaths, we have all been equipped with psychological mechanisms for alerting us to the potential scorn of our peers. How hard will you work to avoid embarrassment, shame and social exclusion? Your level of self-consciousness is a good measure. If everyone else is standing on the wall, you may do well to avoid potential embarrassment and stay put yourself.

So, like a lot of our less-than-optimal traits, self-consciousness is a trade-off worked out by our ancestors. You have inherited the mechanism and a fragile means of working around it. The means? Accept yourself. Let others see you, and let go of the worry over what they might think. The risk is that they will think about you in unflattering terms. The gain is nothing less than an open gateway to becoming better. That, and attracting the attention of yon fair maiden.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series Part 3

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.

We got Without Limits via Netflix last night. Hate the title. At least I can't blame Pre for it in the same way that I can blame Phelps for the title of his book, No Limits. I much prefer Paul Tergat's approach with Running to the Limit. I don't go for mysterious or supernatural mumbo jumbo. Maybe athletes don't want you to think they have limits -— but of course they do. And, like Tergat, great ones have become very adept at approaching them.

A couple of months ago, I convinced my 10-year-old son to run a handful of 200s on the track. We had entered both kids in a mile race and I wanted them to get a sense of the pace for it beforehand. So, I lined them up and started my 8-year-old daughter first and, five seconds later, gave my son the signal. I told him just to approach, and not pass, his sister. So he did, and he ran very controlled. He also started to look like a lion pacing his cage. So on the fourth repeat, I told him to wait eight seconds after his sister started and then to run as fast as he wanted. I was watching from across the track and my mouth dropped. If I did believe in hocus pocus, I would say that Steve Prefontaine's spirit had found its way to the Abingdon High School track in Southwest Virginia! His strong arms swung low — almost 90 degrees at the elbow — and his legs extended surprisingly far behind him.

You probably know that two movies — just one year apart — came out about Pre. His is a compelling story partly because he competed at the top level, and partly because he died young, but mostly because of the way that he lived. You probably know his story: He was a frontrunner who couldn't stand to be boxed in; he felt that anything less than racing wide open from the start disgraced the sport. He lived full-throttle and partied hard. He bristled at any attempt to reign him in, including attempts from coaches working in his interest. Even if you don't know the two movies and even if you've never heard of Pre, you can get a sense of who he was just from my brief description.

People are master character and story builders, and not just the novelists among us. We have to participate in crafting our own stories in order to be anything. Let me explain.

When I was in high school, I drove a car. What car did I drive? Well, let's see, it was a yellow Volvo 240. At least it was yellow until I painted it blue. OK, so color notwithstanding, can I positively identify the exact car I drove in high school? I could start at the beginning and get an assembly record, conveniently shown on the door jamb as the VIN. But, my brother wrecked the car and the part showing the VIN was replaced. That's OK; it's probably also listed on the engine. Or it was. The engine had burned up and been replaced before we even got the car, so it shows a different VIN than the other parts (well, before the door jamb was replaced). So, should we go with the identity of the engine or with the identity of the pre-replacement part that used to have the VIN? Wait, you think, let's just use the identity of the majority of the car parts. Well TOO BAD because every single part of the car has been replaced at least once (that isn't actually true, but it could be). What is left to make the car I drove in high school a particular car? Answer: it's history.

This gets more serious with people, who are faced with the same problem. Our cells continuously replace themselves and die. In any given seven years, almost all of the cells in an adult human will have been replaced. Why don't we go ahead and change names and assume a new identity to match the whole new set of cells? Who should change the names? In my case, it's this overly analytical, philosophical type who spends too much time alone running on mountain trails.

Becoming a person is not a magic event that happens at conception; it's a process that happens as we grow and start to formulate, with the help of those around us, a story about who we are. Unless we are depressed, the story likely exaggerates the positive. And why not? We have to live the story, so shouldn't we shine it up a bit?

Here's the tricky part, and it will help explain the enormous appeal of sports. I can make up a character with far greater prowess than I actually possess. Sporting contests, however, are specifically designed to separate fact from fiction — they reveal the truth about what we were made of on that day (or days). Exaggerating my story will have at least two devastating results: I'll be revealed as a fraud and I'll misappropriate the resources that I have at my disposal. Conversely, if I am reasonably accurate about what I can do, I can use resources to improve myself and win the most respect possible.

The chances are good that as long as you are improving yourself and winning respect, you'll stay motivated. That works especially for young people who are working to establish themselves. You are telling the story of becoming a good runner. My story, for example, started with accidentally joining my high school cross country team when I got a "special" letter from the coach before my freshman year. Turns out he sent the same letter to all incoming freshman, but I didn't know that at the time. I liked to play soccer and ride my bike, but I had no concept of distance running. It turns out that I was good at it, so I trained harder and harder and eventually became a high school standout in Kentucky. I was recruited by an elite school and readily adapted to training at the collegiate level. I did not, however, adapt well to the way I was coached. Things eventually came to a head when I was denied an overseas travel opportunity offered to the rest of the team. I was ready to end the story line that had me running at that particular school. I called my high school coach to talk it over. He listened intently, as always, and responded that this was my chance to have a real impact right where I was. My perspective changed immediately. I didn't have to be the runner who was humiliated by being denied a team privilege. I could be the runner who took a hit and got back up, even stronger than before. And isn't that a motivating story?

You are going to get knocked around. Your story will have difficulty, strife, illness and injury. Your trials are that much more dramatic when compared to times when you performed well. To stay motivated, you will have to rework your story continuously to confront the reality of your situation and to remain aspirational. Lance Armstrong was a strong rider before cancer. As a cancer survivor, he became an endurance icon. Does he have human limits? Of course. We can all strive to push and even redefine those limits, though, and still live to tell the tale.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Obituaries- Robert Andrew Mika

I came across this today. I knew that it was out there on-line but never searched for it until today. Not sure how long the small newspaper in Sidney Nebraska is going to keep this up so I thought I would copy it on to here for my records.

I really miss talking to Grandpa 2-4 times a week as I drive home from work. Sometimes I still find myself dialing his cell phone before I catch myself. I know this will pass soon because it happens less and less as time passes.


Robert Andrew Mika
1934 to 2010
Published: Saturday, July 24th, 2010

Robert Andrew Mika, 76, of Lodgepole, went to be with the Lord on Thursday, July 22, 2010. He was the son of Frank and Lula (Hein) Mika and was born on the family farm south of Lodgepole on Jan. 27, 1934.

Rosary Services will be at 9:30 a.m., Monday, July 26, with a Mass of Christian Burial to follow at 10:30 a.m. Both services will be at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Sidney with Father Art Faesser and Father Neal Nollette officiating. Burial will be in the Czech Cemetery south of Sunol.

Friends may stop at the Gehrig-Stitt Chapel on Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m., with the family present from 2 to 5 p.m.

Bob was educated in the Lodgepole Schools. In 1955 he began employment at Cheyenne County Roads Department and worked there for 40 years before retiring.

He married his lifelong partner Elizabeth (Betty) Urban on May 30, 1956, in Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church at Julesburg, Colo. In this union six children were born, Rod (Sherry) Mika of Missoula, Mont., Tami (Dave) Trump of Lodgepole, Star (Scott) Smith of Sidney, Diane (Ryan) Block of Lodgepole, Julie (Mike) Miles of Sidney and Steve (Stephanie) Mika of Sidney. Robert and Betty have 14 grandchildren, Shad Mika of Boulder, Colo., Stacey Wilkins of Parker, Colo., Amber Wiegard of Lodgepole, Jennifer Schmitt of Lake Crystal, Minn., Chelsey Donaldson of Platteville, Wis., Jason Skovly of American Falls, Idaho, Michael Miles of Sidney, Austin Smith of Lincoln, Marcus Schilreff of Ogallala, BJ Block of Lodgepole, Nicole Walker of Sidney, Jordon Schilreff of Sidney, Kirsten Block of Lodgepole, Avery Mika of Sidney, Zach Mika of Sidney and Emily Mika of Sidney; twelve great-grandchildren, Bradley, Braden, Rylan, Alayna, Kai, Kolton, Makenah, Jaiden, Jeremiah, Shane, Connor and Caiden. Bob is also survived by one sister, Shirley (Robert) Richards of Longmont, Colo., and one brother, Dale Mika of Sidney.
Robert was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Francis and Patrick Mika.

He belonged to the Knights of Columbus, Sidney Elks Club and was a current member of Saint Joseph’s Church Council in Chappell. He had many hobbies, such as attending auctions and garage sales to collect antiques, model toy cars, trucks and tractors. He enjoyed time on his computer and was skilled at many trades, including vehicle mechanic, household repairs, gardening and various electronics interests. This helped him as he became owner of several rental homes in the area.

He had a keen sense of humor and enjoyed all his grandchildren and the company of many friends.

Memorial contributions may be made to the donor’s choice.

Gehrig-Stitt Chapel & Cremation Service is in charge of Bob’s care and funeral arrangements.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Long distance swimming

Think running 50 or a 100 miles is bad ass? Check out this 61 year old swimmer on CNN! Click here for the story.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Last Minutes with ODEN

Got this video from Steve's blog and had to share, this is why it took me so long to get another dog after my Saint died a few years ago. Great video!

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series Part 2

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.


On a warm spring afternoon in 1987, Sue and I were splayed across the bed in her dorm room, listening to The Eagles' greatest hits. She was trying to work. She gripped her pencil tightly, annotating the margins of her book, fighting to keep her attention fixed. I lay on my back, one leg crossed over the other, thumbing through the pages of my book. I was more interested in Sue than in my work. When I had gleaned what I needed from my reading I put the book down and pestered her. It didn't take long to distract her away from her toils. Her study sessions looked to me like open combat — an effort to willfully execute a despised command. I knew she would be up late, feeling guilty for having procrastinated, forcing herself to stay awake to continue her work. She was in difficult pre-med courses, but wondered aloud why I wasn't, considering that the work seemed to come so easily to me.

Sue ran track with the same intensity. It was always a struggle. She literally gritted her teeth through hard intervals. After practice, she'd be worn out. It'd be 5:30 p.m. and time to eat and she'd crash for a short nap. I warned her to no avail that napping would keep her from falling asleep at bedtime. Sue beat herself up for a lot of things. She'd eat tiny portions at mealtime, wanting to keep her weight down, and then scarf a pint of Ben & Jerry's before bed. She occasionally raged at me for making everything look easy. I don't remember if I understood this then, but I've gradually realized that I make things look easy because I've made a science of anticipating what I can and can't do.

Dan Challener, the men's distance coach, told us to run 20 minutes and meet him at the track. Brown's stadium is a 10-minute jog from campus, so we looped through the affluent neighborhoods on the hill just north of downtown Providence. We knew the workout would be different. We were left wondering what we were in for.

Head coach Bob Rothenberg (Berg) was there, along with Dan. He told us we would run the measured two-mile course on the road, finishing at the stadium, and, without pausing, we were to run a mile hard on the track. He told me, along with some teammates including our captain, Fergal Mullen, to run the two miles at 5:40 per mile pace and then the track mile at 4:45. We were to repeat this twice more, without pausing in between.

I told our coaches that I wasn't sure we could do that. Berg looked at the ground and gave me a well-worn shake of the head. Dan stared at me, his agitation visible. I knew what they wanted, and Fergal was quick to give it to them. "Ah, we can do that! Come on, guys, let's be positive!"

We hadn't done a workout like that before. We'd certainly done mile repeats, though, and doing a set of 4:45 miles was a tough effort. We'd also done plenty of tempo runs, and 5:40 pace was close to threshold. We were getting pretty fit, but I was apprehensive. The guys were starting to bounce, stretch or do strides. They may actually have thought that believing they could do it was enough. Or maybe they thought that whatever coach said they could do, they could do. Or maybe they just didn't think deeply about it. Most likely, I suppose, they had learned that expressing a "can do" attitude worked in getting along with other people. I took the task at face value and tried to get my head around it. It made my heart beat harder and my hands turn clammy.

I wanted to nail that tempo pace and maximize my running economy. It would devastate our chances to finish if we got carried away from the beginning. When we started, we stayed bunched together. When I stuck behind one of the guys, I could lower my arm just a bit so that it would swing just under his. My gait was low and quiet. We hummed through the splits right on pace. When we transitioned to the track, I kept in mind that the acceleration wouldn't feel so abrupt coming off the 5:40 pace. Starting an interval from a standstill gives the body a jolt that takes a little while to accommodate. Shifting gears, as we did in this workout, actually made the first mile interval feel comparatively easy.

We were doing the work, though, and it started to show on the second two miles on the road. The guys were having some trouble keeping pace. I clocked off the splits like a metronome, barely deviating even for the slight inclines. By the time we were back on the track the guys were starting to string out behind me. I nailed the second one-mile interval on the track. I transitioned slowly to try and let the other guys catch up for the final two miles on the road. They were coming apart. I went on to complete the workout as prescribed.

The surest path to a struggle, and an apparent lack of willpower, is to be either thoughtless or wrong about what you can do. I remember a runner named Mike Haggerty from Saint Xavier High School in Louisville. He was two years ahead of me, and I knew he was a fast half-miler, so I watched him during cross country season. He'd bolt to the lead in every race, stay there for up to a mile, and then fade and get passed by any decent runner who went out at a sustainable pace. In some important sense, he just never figured out that he could have run better over 5K if he went out slower. While it may have looked like a lack of motivation (to sustain that early pace), it really was Mike's inaccuracy about his abilities. Conversely, we look like iron-willed heroes when we "talk smack" and get it right. We may fool others, and even ourselves, when we decide to achieve a goal — say a sub-2:30 marathon — and then we just "make it happen." More likely, we accurately predicted that, with proper preparation, we would meet that goal. And we were right.

Motivation doesn't start with an ambitious goal. Once our minds are clear of distractions, the key step is an accurate appraisal of what we can do. I called my own attempt to know myself a science because, like science, this requires objective observation and data. Fortunately for us, every run, workout and race yields plenty of data. Use that data — not your perceptions of what you "could have" done — to guide your goal setting. You'll find it a lot easier to exert your will, meet your goals and stay motivated.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Grossman Motivation Series

These are great motivation pieces written by a great runner, Eric Grossman. I had to copy these from Running Times just for my own record in case this is ever removed from the site. LOVE IT! You can find it by clicking here or just read below.


I still remember one of my first conversations with “Berg.” That was our term of endearment for Bob Rothenberg, head track and cross country coach at Brown University. It was the fall of 1986 and I had just arrived on campus eager, like all of my teammates, to run. Berg said, for us, running was "like brushing your teeth." That made sense to me. We had developed a useful habit. No one had to wake up, scratch his head and ask himself: "Should I run today?" About a quarter century later, I still run with about the same regularity as I brush my teeth, but I think of the comparison differently.

What would it take to skip brushing your teeth for one day? Say something happens to your toothbrush -— the dog chews it or it falls in the toilet. Or you are separated from your toothbrush by a night away (at the home of an unexpected liaison, for example) or, more likely, shipwrecked and marooned on a deserted island. Sure, you would go to some amount of trouble to salvage your routine. You could root around for an unused toothbrush under the sink. You could run out to the corner mart for a replacement. In desperation, you might even rub your teeth with your finger (like that is going to help!).

In comparison, there are many things that can cause athletes to skip a run. There are all the other things you could do with that time and energy: school work, professional work, writing, visiting with family and friends, watching kids play soccer. And then there's injury, which I estimate to be the most likely cause for first skipping, and then stopping, your daily runs. Come to think of it, we are at the mercy of a lot of worldly forces, and many of them push directly against our efforts to run. You will find yourself distracted by these forces. How you respond will determine the value you place on the pursuit of running excellence. I suspect that if you are a runner, you will dismiss these distractions. I'll explain how:

You have to cause your run.

The problem, in case you avoided philosophy class in college, is the work of those pesky worldly forces. Think of them as sirens, calling out the runner in you to certain death; they sing to you to take it easy, relax, catch the show with your wife and kick back on the beach with a mixed drink. Or, more insidiously, they whisper for you to be more productive with your time, work extra hours for that promotion and maintain your home. They are likely real people. When I started running ultras, my grandmother sat me down and talked to me earnestly about how excessive running was harming my health.

You can't just hope to ignore the temptation of worldly forces, though. The well established running routine of the most dedicated athlete is caused by forces just as grounded. When training for high school cross country, I made sure to run through neighborhoods and past the homes of girls I liked. I lapped up their animated disbelief at my running prowess like a puppy dog. We may run for prestige, health or social reasons. And these are good reasons. They just aren't very reliable causes of your pursuit of running. The girls grow up and get married. Young guns emerge to steal your thunder. Your joints start to hurt because of running. Your new friends don't run. You've submitted to the natural forces around you, so you skip a run, then several runs in a row and then too many to get back into it easily. The habit has been broken.

If you want to avoid the inevitable ebb and flow of the currents in which you are buoyed, you will have to anchor yourself. You will have to determine your position, no matter what. Set a course from which you cannot be swayed. World be damned! It may sound extreme, but I believe we all employ this kind of willfulness in pursuit of our goals. Ironically, when we are most fixed in our trajectory, we are most free because we are beyond the influence of material forces. An inversion of perspective occurs in the minds of accomplished athletes. Negative forces become positive. We welcome the burn from intervals that used to make us wince and slow down. We took on the project of getting fit for the target races of that season and embraced the work without question.

One example: I don't like running long races in hot conditions. It makes me sick. I should be repelled from these races in the same way that we are repelled from a particular food that we associate with nausea and vomiting. Yet each of the three times I have registered for the Western States 100, I spend the month of May gleefully overheating myself. I drive with the heat on, run at midday with layers of clothing and seek out the sun whenever I can. The twisted thing is, it feels good! The normal linkage between worldly causes and my behavior had been broken and re-configured to suit my purpose. I caused my run.

The distractions will inevitably find you. They may creep up on you along with your family and professional responsibilities. If you value continued running, you will have to steel yourself with a conviction to pursue your course no matter, and in spite of, any adverse circumstances. Just don't forget to pack your toothbrush.

Eric Grossman is a member of the Montrail ultrarunning team. At age 40, Grossman won the 2008 USATF 50-mile national championship. Check back next week for more of Grossman's motivational tips.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Leadville 100 mile run- Race Report

This past Saturday the last 2 years of training/racing finally came to age, I finally completed my goal of running 100 miles on my 3rd attempt. It was a good thing also because before the race I was telling myself that 3 strikes and I was out of this 100 mile thing and going back to shorter faster races which I seem to do good at if I train for them.

Leadville is a classic course that you have to give respect to, if you don't it will chew you up and spit you out. On paper when you compare the climbing with other hundred milers you may think that it really is not a big deal, the problem is that a large chunk of the climbing happens between miles 40-60. After all that climbing you still have 40 miles until the finish, this is where it becomes a huge challenge. With the average elevation at 11,000 feet above sea level it is one of the highest 100 milers in the US and below is my experience in 2010.

Race Website

Event Description:
50 miles out and back in the midst of the Colorado Rockies. Lowest point is 9,200 ft. and the highest point is Hope Pass, 12,600 ft. The majority is on forest trails with some mountain roads. Pacers allowed after the 50 mile point. 11 well-supplied aid stations with cut-offs; 5 are medical checks. (I only did 2 medical checks).

Here is the race Profile, you read the 1st 50 miles left to right then backwards for the second 50.

Course Map

View Leadville Trail 100 2009 map in a larger map

The weather forecast for both Saturday the 21th and Sunday the 22th was a high of 71, low of 40 with a 0-10% chance of rain. It was perfect weather!

Race Report:

Some sections will be long and some parts will be short. It all comes down to if anything eventful happened in that section and to what I can really remember. 28 hours out on the trails and roads in the mountains kind of blend together in a lot of parts.

The first time in the header is the split for that section of trail and the second time is the total running time.

Pre-Race Meeting

Start to Mayqueen 2:24/2:24

The night before the race was really bad as far as trying to get some sleep. We decided to camp since we were taking the dog with us. So in the 6 person tent we had the 3 of us and the dog, needless to say the dog was climbing all over me driving me mad. It was a good thing that I was able to take out my hearing aid so I never heard the other campers that were up drinking just feet away well past midnight. That would explain why the dog would not lay still. Oh well….

The Family at the Starting Line

Got my butt out of bed around 2:30-2:35 just before the alarm was set to go off and we piled into the car for the drive into town. There was so many people at the start that I really did not know where I should line up at to start. My plan this first section was just to cruise nice and slow, if that meant I was in the back of the congo line then so be it. As I was walking up to the crowd I spotted an old frat brother from CSU Brian O’Malley who was also running. This would be his first attempt at the distance and he all sorts of questions. I lined up with O’Malley as the gun when off and spent the first 6ish miles jogging along with him catching up on the past 15 years since we have seen each other. It was great to see Brian and as we hit the single track around the lake he fell in behind me and that would be the last I would see of O’Malley. I was really bummed on Monday when I saw in the results that he dropped at 50. If anyone who is reading this has the contact info for Brain please let me know I would like to get a hold of him to hear his race story.

The rest of this section was pretty uneventful as I cruised into Mayqueen. I told my crew not to meet me here on the outbound due to the large amount of people running this year. It was just way to stressful for both the crew and myself to try and find each other in this crazy crowd.

I grabbed some food, refilled my bottles and hit the road, not spending more than 1-2 mins in this aid station.

Mayqueen to Fish 2:08/4:32

This section was even more uneventful. After leaving the cluster of an aid station I just fell into line on the single track and did the walk/jog up to Haggerman Pass road. The Colorado Trail up to the road is a nice mellow climb for the most part but there is no where to pass so it is best just to fall back into line and follow everyone.

Once on the dirt road we had to climb up to the top of the Powerlines at about 11,200ft. For being where I was among middle/back of the pack I was shocked to see how many people were trying to run this road to the top! There was no need to do this. I just power hiked up it without killing myself. There was this one dude who was trying to kill this road with all of his might, he was breathing super hard and looked like he was about to pass out. With all that effort he only beat to the top by a mere minute or so, I passed him heading down the other side. I memorized his race number and sure enough, he did not finish. One thing is that it sure was entertaining to watch how much people where trying to kill themselves on this climb. It helped pass the time.

This is the 1st place that I saw my crew, I passed off my night stuff, grabbed my sunglasses and hit the road.

Leaving Fish Hatchery

Fish to Halfmoon 1:32/6:05

Now it was time to roll for a little bit. This is a flat road section of about 8-9 miles with a mix of both asphalt and jeep road. About halfway across this section is a location called Treeline that I could meet my crew. I felt really good through this section and just cruised along catching and passing lots of people who had killed themselves climbing in the last section. I never felt like I was running hard but just out for a nice easy Saturday morning long run. This is a great section to make up a little bit of time without putting out a big effort to do so. I was just rolling through here and really don’t remember a lot from this section.

Meeting the Crew at Treeline

Halfmoon to Twin 1:42/7:47

This is another pretty uneventful section that I really don’t have a lot to write about. It is a great section of rolling Colorado Trail that is well shaded from the morning sun. My goal on this section was just to walk the uphills, run the downhills, and try to get some food into me for the upcoming big 3500 or so foot climb up Hope Pass in the next section of the race. As I was jogging the down the final ~1000ft into Twin Lakes I came across a guy limping along and as I slowed down to make sure he was ok I discovered it was Donald Beuke. His year long battle with a tight IT band was rearing its ugly head again. He said it is fine uphill and on flats but was killing him on the downhills. I was able to talking him into jogging down the road with me and we came into Twin Lakes at mile 40 together. I was just happy to have some company even if it was short lived. I left Twin Lakes before Donald and did not see him again which is a huge bummer. We did some training together this past spring and it would have been cool to run with him a little farther.

At the aid station I grabbed my coat, gloves, hat, and some food hitting the road eating as much as I could to ready myself for what I consider to be the heart of Leadville 100, the double crossing of Hope Pass.

Coming into Twin Lakes

Twin to Winfield 3:56/11:44

Now the fun really starts. I left Twin Lake eating a Mojo Bar trying to get as much energy as I could for the up coming climb of Hope Pass. You cross a flat 2 miles or so to get to the base of the 3 mile ~3000ft climb. On the way to the climb one has to do a river crossing. This year the cold water that came up to just below my knees felt great on the tired legs, but did cause a weird burning feeling in my feet which passed quickly.

The climb from this side of Hope was just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. I just put my head down and worked my way up to the aid station on the top of the pass trying not to work to hard because I do have to come back over this again. Once at the Hopeless aid station close to the top of the pass I took a 5 min breather and ate some soup. This was the first real break at any aid station all day and I could feel my stomach starting to get weak so I thought some soup would help calm it a little.

After a finishing my soup I got my butt up to finish the last ~500ft to the true top of the pass and jogged down the other side. This is a cool part of the race due to the out and back nature of the course. I was able to see all my buddies who were in front of me coming back over. I made pretty quick work of the downhill and the 2.5 mile road into the Winfield (halfway mark) to pick up my pacer Fred. Now the fun really begins.

Winfield to Twin 5:34/17:18

Before I start digging into the meat of this race I want to share some advice that 2 friends gave me before the race. There were many more responses to this list from Facebook but I took the top 15. Then reason that I bring them up is that I start breaking these rules in this section.

Gerber and Misti’s Tips for Leadville and other 100s.

1. YOU CAN NOT BANK TIME! Don’t do it or even think about it.
2. Don’t sit down ever, unless you are changing your shoes.
3. Don’t go anywhere NEAR the fire or propane heaters at the aid stations. The gravitational field of them is amazing.
4. EAT early, eat often, and as much as you can assimilate.
5. Take your electrolytes, even if you aren’t cramping. They help with digestion too.
6. Sometimes it feels better to just puke it up and get on with the show.
7. The fastest times on this course are out in 45% of total time and back in 55% of total time.
8. Training is over 2 weeks before the race. Nothing you do the week before will help you. Take an easy, relax, and eat some bacon.
9. Try to remember that “it never always gets worse.” Seriously, this is the miracle. You can trust it.
10. Red Bull is your friend.
11. For the 1st 50 miles listen to your body, for the second 50 stop listening.
12. If you don’t think you are going absurdly slow the first 50, you’re going to fast.
13. When gels start making you gag, try bacon. Seriously!
14. A cold beer at mile 70 is pretty darn good.
15. If you drop for some lame ass reason, it is going to stick with you for 364 days.

I was weighed in at Winfield and was up 2 pounds, that was good news. I found my crew, took a load off for a few minutes trying to eat some more for the big climb to come. After a few more minutes chatting with my wife I grabbed a cup of soup and my pacer Pastor Fred and hit the road back to the trail head to go back over the pass.

About 1.5 miles up the road from Winfield the trouble started, I suddenly had to poop-BAD! I grabbed some paper and ran into the woods, of course I did not grab enough paper so I had to run back out to the road to get some more from Fred. After getting cleaned up I was walking out of the woods when out of no where the puke just started flying everywhere. I spent the next few minutes on my hands and knees puking valuable calories and energy into the dirt. Darn it, I need those calories to get back over the freaking pass!

Fred and I just kept walking and started the climb back over. About every 10 minutes or so I would heel back over and throw down some more calories into the dirt. As this was going on my pace was getting slower and slower due to running out of energy. Just before tree line I saw a nice big rock on the side of the trail and took Fred’s suggestion, I curled up into a ball on top of the rock and took a 10 minute nap. The hope was to get my system to settle down a bit and it worked. From that point on I was able to keep a very very slow but steady pace the rest of the way up Hope Pass only puking a couple more times and taking a couple short breaks to catch my breath. At the top I kept up the hiking all the way to the aid station just ~500ft or so down the other side. It was time to problem solve and get this race going again, I was losing too much time if I wanted to finish this thing.

At the aid station we came across Gerber and his runner who started giving me a hard time about breaking the rules. I was sitting around the camp fire feeling sorry for myself trying to eat. After a few minutes of heckling from Fred (my pacer) and Gerber the four of us left and started a slow jog down the pass back to Twin Lakes. Slowly I was starting to get my stomach back, a gel here and Clif Block there. I was starting to rebuild the foundation to finish this thing. Before I knew it we were back in Twin Lakes (mile 60) and it was time to change my socks/shoes and get the heck out of there.

Breaking the Rules on top of Hope Pass

Twin to Halfmoon 2:49/20:08

Being silly at Twin Lakes

Last pose before leaving Twin Lakes

I really don’t remember a lot about this section. I do remember that Fred and I agreed just to take an easy on the uphill and recover as much as possible. We needed to keep building on that new foundation that we just started laying down. I spent most of this section walking all the uphills at an easy pace and slow jogging the downhills while trying to eat a Clif Block every 15-20 minutes. We kept this cycle up all the way into the aid station. I was starting to get sleepy but held off on taking anything. Fred wanted me to hold off from taking the No Doz as long as I could so that it would have a more dramatic effect in the early morning hours when I would need it most.

Halfmoon to Fish 2:32/22:41

At Halfmoon the lady in charge of the cut-offs came up to me and start questioning me. I must have looked like crap. At this point I don’t think I was much more than 30 mins ahead of the cut-offs. I started asking her questions like. “If the cut-off is 2:30am (don’t remember the real time) then that is how many hours from the start?”. I had a running hour total on my watch and I could not do the math, I was too tired. She just looked at me and said, “You ask way too many questions.” and walked away. Guess my mind was working a little.

We walked the jeep road all the way from Halfmoon to my crew car at Treeline. I was getting more and more tired. The stomach was not feeling that great either and the legs hurt like hell. I am running out of time and feeling really down on myself about it at this point.

At Treeline I broke the rules again. I sat down in a chair for no other reason than just to get off my feet. I was really pondering the thought of quitting. As I was sitting there feeling sorry for myself because I was hurting my mind drifted off to the last time I saw my grandfather who passed around the end of June. This was nothing compared to what I saw him go through as cancer was taking over his body! Between that thought about grandpa, the frustration in my wife’s voice, and the disappointed look on Fred’s face I asked my wife to fill my bottle with Ginger Ale, popped some No Doz and I kept walking. I did not care if we made the cut-offs or not, we were going to walk this whole thing even if it was unofficially.

We just kept walking all the way to the Fish Hatchery getting a little quicker with every step. By the time we got to the Fish Hatchery about an hour later we were power hiking and I had finished off both bottles containing ginger ale and water. I had also eaten a whole pack and a half of Clif Shots.

Fish to Mayqueen 2:45/25:26

At Fish Hatchery I had to run up and check in before meeting my crew. I was starting to cut it really close to the cut-off. After checking in I grabbed a turkey wrap and told Fred I was hitting the road all within about 30 seconds to a minute. He said back that he needed to stay behind and eat a little and will catch-up shortly. On the way out I stopped to kiss my wife aka my crew grabbing 2 new bottles of water and ginger ale along with a bunch of Clif Blocks. I asked to send some an extra bottle with Fred since we had about 11ish miles to Mayqueen with the last big climb.

Once on the road to the base of the Powerlines (last big climb) I decided since it was a rolling downhill that I would try jogging and see how that felt. I ended up running all the way to the base of the climb where I went into a quick strong power hike. There are 3 false summits on this climb, I was hiking so strong that my pacer (Fred) did not catch up to me until between the 1st and 2nd false summit. I was moving very strong and passing people like mad. I had no idea why I was moving so good but I went with it. Once on the top of the Powerlines at about 11,200ft above sea level we took a quick break to refill my bottles from Fred’s pack.

From this point on I just started rolling, Fred and I jogged down the Haggerman Pass road together to the start of the Colorado Trail single track that would take us to Mayqueen. Once on the single track I took off! I felt really really good! I ran every step from this point all the way to Mayqueen passing all kinds of people. As I was coming into Mayqueen I started looking for Ashley (crew/wife) so I could get an extra bottle to carry since I lost my pacer. I still had 13 miles to go to the finish and 2 bottles was not going to cut it. Not locating her anywhere I went into Mayqueen and sat down breaking the rules again. I had to wait for Fred to catch up so I had enough fluids to finish this thing.

About 5-8 minutes later he came rolling in and after a fluid top off in his backpack and some more food for both of us we hit the last section of trail without ever seeing Ashley.

Mayqueen to Finish 3:12/28:39

What to say about this section but I never would have believed that I could still run like this between miles 90 to100. Just shocking! I got rolling again and lost Fred again which had me freaked out about having enough fluids to finish this. I ran for the next 5 or so miles coming into Tabor Boat ramp to lots of cheering people and empty bottles. I asked a person camping right there off the trail if they could fill my bottles with water and they did! Awesome!! Lets Roll!!! As I got about 20 feet past the boat ramp I heard someone yelling my name, I turned around and my wife was running down the boat ramp. She found me!!!! She was just as shocked as I was on how good I was feeling. I dumped out one bottle of water and topped it off with ginger ale, kissed her, grabbed a hat and headed towards the finish. I was able to maintain a run all the way on the single track trail to the final road that would take me into town. The final 5 miles of road I did a run/walk cycle all the way to the finish coming across in 28:39, one hour and 21 minutes ahead of the cut-off! Awesome!!!!! I really had no real emotions as I ran up the red carpet with Braden who did the last ½ mile with me. I was just happy to be done. I never would have thought that it would hurt less to run than to walk the final miles of this thing.

Views from this section

Tabor Boat Ramp

Finishing it up with Braden

Some Happy Campers!

The Under 30 Hours Buckle

Final Thoughts:
I know that I am not a great writer but I hope that you enjoyed sharing this little story with me. I would like to thank Ashley who has been putting up with me and my training for the past 3 plus years we have been together, I love you babe. And of course a big shout out to Pastor Fred Ecks who delivered me from the gates of hell back into the Lands of the Holy Trails. Thanks for pushing me through the rough patches dude.

I learned a lot about myself and what I am capable of. There were only 5 people who left the mile 76 aid station Fish Hatchery later than me that finished and I ended up in front over 140 people by the time I hit the red carpet in Leadville, you can do the math to see how many people I passed the last 25 miles. You can recover from the deep dark places if you take the time to do some problem solving to why you are there in the first place and just walk it out. I also learned a great deal about the great people that I have surrounded myself with. Next time we will go even faster!

Here are some great videos that some friends made during their adventure at Leadville.

Olan's Video:

Leadville 100 Trail Run 2010 from Melissa Young on Vimeo.

Brandon's Video:

Leadville Trail 100 2010 from Brandon Fuller on Vimeo.