Monday, October 26, 2009

Are the Mountains Killing Your Brain?

Article that a buddy sent to me. Now I know what is wrong with me. You can get to the story by clicking here. I have also copied and pasted it below for you to read. Have a great week!

Are the Mountains Killing Your Brain?
Alarming new science shows that thin air can wreck brain cells—at lower altitudes than you'd think. Here's how to protect yourself.

"YOU HAVE TO BE poco loco to be a climber," says Dr. Nicholás Fayed. A neuroradiologist at the Clinica Quirón de Zaragoza, in northern Spain, Dr. Fayed leads me into his office and pulls out a collection of MRI images. They're brain scans, taken from amateur and professional mountain climbers after they came back from major expeditions, and the results aren't pretty.

"Atrophy of the frontal lobes," Fayed says, pointing to a black-and-white slice of brain on one MRI. The frontal cortex—the region just behind the forehead that handles higher-level mental functions—looks like a piece of dried fruit. This kind of damage can leave patients with an impaired ability to plan, focus, and make complex decisions. And it's permanent.

"Cortical atrophy, subcortical lesion..." Fayed continues, pointing to the scans of eight amateur climbers whose MRIs were taken in 1998, just after a trip up Argentina's 22,834-foot Aconcagua. "This guy suffered the most serious damage," he says. He hands me a picture of a robust young climber standing on the mountain's snowy slopes, looking fit and determined. "When he came back, he couldn't remember his own phone number. His wife would send him to the store for a loaf of bread and he would forget why he was there and come home without it."

Fayed is an internationally recognized scientist who studies abnormalities and damage in the brain caused by various health disorders. Since 1992, he and his colleagues, neurologist Dr. Pedro Modrego and neuroradiologist Dr. Humberto Morales, have been collecting these scans of 35 climbers returning from peaks like Aconcagua, Everest, Kilimanjaro, and Mont Blanc. The scans are giving us the clearest picture yet of what happens to the brain at altitude, and it's fair to say the results won't make you want to scamper off to Everest. But the good news for most climbers is that Fayed's studies also suggest that proper acclimatization can reduce the risk of brain damage a great deal.

SCIENTISTS HAVE long known that the brain can be harmed by extreme conditions such as high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE), in which blood vessels leak fluid into surrounding tissue, causing the brain to swell and press against the skull wall. But Fayed's scans are the first to indicate that brain damage can show up even in people who displayed no symptoms of altitude sickness during their climbs, or had just the usual nausea and lethargy familiar to any hiker in the mountains. And, disturbingly, it seemed to happen to climbers going not much higher than 15,000 feet.

On 15,771-foot Mont Blanc, for example, seven trekkers reached the summit in 1998 without experiencing any symptoms of mountain sickness. When scanned a few days later, three showed major abnormalities. Two displayed enlargement of their brains' Virchow-Robin (VR) spaces, gaps in the brain matter surrounding blood vessels that look like white birdshot on MRIs. (Enlarged VR spaces are found in the elderly and in people with Alzheimer's disease, but they don't normally show up in people in their twenties and thirties, the age of these climbers.) One trekker had cortical atrophy—a permanent loss of gray matter that can cause "spaciness" and other problems—and one had a subcortical lesion, damage to the network of neural pathways in the white matter, which can cause any number of serious issues.

Similar effects were seen on Aconcagua. Most of the eight amateur climbers never got above 21,000 feet, and one reached only 18,000 feet. Still, none of the scans came back normal. Four of the climbers suffered multiple subcortical lesions, seven had widespread enlargement of their VR spaces, and all showed signs of cortical atrophy—even though half of the team displayed either no symptoms of mountain sickness or mild ones during the climb.

The risks at extreme altitudes are clear. A few studies have shown that climbers who spend years in the Himalayas without supplemental oxygen frequently have problems that can be seen on an MRI. But the effects found at moderate altitudes are much more disconcerting.

"It's easy to understand illness at 23,000 feet," says Dr. Gianni Losano, director of the Angelo Mosso Institute, one of the world's leading high-altitude-research laboratories, located in the Alps near Turin, Italy. "But on Mont Blanc?"

I READ ABOUT FAYED'S work in a 2006 issue of The American Journal of Medicine, and, being a climber and a neuroscientist, it disturbed me. I've never scaled anything like Aconcagua, but, at 56, I've spent 37 years tackling peaks around the U.S. and the Alps, all below 14,500 feet. Like most normal climbers, I've had my share of altitude sickness, so Fayed's work made me wonder: Had all that time in the mountains damaged my brain? To find out, I decided to use myself as a test subject, doing one popular climb—on Washington's Mount Rainier—and then flying to Spain to meet Fayed and have my brain scanned.

Rainier is a good place to court altitude sickness. The glacier-draped volcano rises steeply to 14,410 feet, and most of the hundreds of amateurs who attempt it each year start their trips by flying in to nearby Seattle, at sea level. Like Mont Blanc, Rainier is often attempted in a weekend push that happens too quickly for the body to acclimatize.

My 26-year-old son, Dylan, came with me, and on our first night out we slept at 3,180 feet, at a roadside campsite near the base of the mountain. The next day, we drove to a trailhead at 5,420 feet and started climbing in a whiteout. A storm forced us to bivy at 8,440 feet, where we waited out 50-mile-per-hour winds overnight.

The next morning, we followed our compass needle through the white blur to the public shelter at Camp Muir, where we found a few teams and four guides from International Mountain Guides, one of the commercial outfits on Rainier.

One guide, Karl Rigrish, estimated that about 40 percent of the company's clients suffer at least mild altitude illness on Rainier. The key to avoiding that, he and other guides said, is taking it slow. Gary Talcott, a guide with Rainier Mountaineering Inc., recommends doing no more than 2,000 feet per day and staying hydrated, which helps thin the blood by replacing lost fluids.

Medical texts are even more conservative, calling for an ascent rate of 1,000 feet per day above 5,000 feet to avoid acute mountain sickness, or AMS. But who has time for that? On Rainier, that would mean taking five days just to get to the mid-mountain camp, which most climbers do in a day and we did in two. Climbing services will gladly lead trips at a slower pace, but most clients push for cheaper, more rapid ascents, relying on the better-acclimatized guides to take care of them if they get into trouble.

Notably, the results of Fayed's study hinted that the brain damage from high-altitude climbing might be reduced or even eliminated through proper acclimatization, the kind that amateurs often don't perform very diligently. The amateur team on Mont Blanc took just two days to climb roughly 8,000 feet to the summit, and half the team showed clear signs of damage when scanned a few days later. The amateurs on Aconcagua gave themselves six days of acclimatizing for that 9,000-vertical-foot climb (as opposed to the two to three weeks taken by commercial teams), and every brain scan showed problems. (A second scan three years later showed no improvement.) Overall, five of the 23 amateurs the Spaniards studied had irreversible subcortical lesions—the most serious brain injury the team found. None of the 12 professionals had them.

The pros weren't biochemically gifted—their blood showed similar levels of oxygen-carrying red blood cells—but it appears that they acclimatized better through proper technique, while avoiding the kinds of amateur mistakes that stress the body.

"Amateurs have something to prove, so they kill themselves to get to base camp and they're predisposed to getting sick," says climber and photographer Jimmy Chin. "When we're hiking to base camp, a pro like Conrad Anker is in the back of the line, taking his time, smelling the flowers. I think that helps."

On our climb, the storm never let up, so we descended from Camp Muir, at 10,080 feet. During the trip down, we got a reminder that the mountains hold risks beyond thin air. About an hour after leaving camp, Dylan broke through a weak snow bridge over a crevasse. He slithered to safety as the crumbling block fell into the chasm below.

A few days later, I flew to Spain for my brain scan. The ceiling slipped away as my head slid into the chamber of an MRI machine in a Zaragoza hospital. When it was over, Fayed and Modrego scrolled through the slices of my brain, magically peeling away layers of undulating cortex. "A small VR space," Fayed said. Flipping through a few more, he said, "Another one."

"Perfectly normal," Modrego assured me. "For your age."

Fayed burned the 3-D images of my brain onto a CD and handed it to me with a smile. I was in the clear but somehow didn't feel at ease.

THIS IS SCIENCE that's still in its infancy. There haven't been many studies of brain changes in climbers at moderate altitudes, partly because it's difficult to get the required approvals for research on humans in a situation that puts them at risk for injury and partly because most climbers who return from such trips appear to be healthy, not in need of a $3,000 MRI. But the few high-altitude studies that have been done seem to bear out the Spanish team's findings.

What is still unclear is how high you have to go, or how fast, before your neurons start dying en masse. The greatest risk lies above 15,000 feet, but there's no reason to assume it can't happen lower. My normal scan is by no means the kind of data one can base a sweeping conclusion on, but to me it suggests that someone climbing mountains for years around the U.S. (outside of Alaska) should be fine, if he or she is careful to acclimatize well.

Still, it's also clear that one high-altitude climb can really hurt. Before the Kilimanjaro trip, all seven of the trekkers in Fayed's study had a brain scan to confirm they had no preexisting damage; afterwards, one hiker's scan revealed the white-birdshot look of enlarged VR spaces in his brain. And since the damage can occur without signs of altitude sickness, we can only assume that the worse you feel, the more at risk you are.

We're also learning that the older you are, the more susceptible you become to the effects of high-altitude hypoxia. According to Fayed's latest study, published online last May in the journal Neurological Research, the risks of altitude sickness and potential brain damage grow with age—climbers in their late thirties and early forties are more likely to have either AMS or brain damage than climbers in their late twenties and early thirties.

You'd think all of this might give pause to people whose passions take them into the highest mountains. But I asked Fayed if any of the climbers in his studies quit the sport after seeing the damage to their brains.

"They are all still climbing," he said. "Our purpose is not to convince anyone to stop climbing. It is to make people aware of the dangers and the need to acclimatize properly."

Most of the climbers I talked to seemed unfazed by the risks. Mountaineers are already undeterred by exposure to much more immediate and lethal hazards. And many have already suspected for years that high-altitude climbing has an effect on the brain.

"High-altitude mountaineering kills brain cells—no doubt," says RMI guide Melissa Arnot. "But this is what I do. It's my profession." One internationally known climber confided to me that he isn't sure whether his cognitive function recovers completely after big climbs, or if he just gets accustomed to the diminished capacity. Another, RMI guide Alex Van Steen, once told me, "Sometimes you're never quite right afterwards."

I, for one, will not stop climbing. But Fayed's science is sound, and it's changed the way I'll go about it. I'm not going to be as tempted to push through the pain of altitude illness to try to reach the summit. Climbers are always looking for external warning signs that they should turn around: approaching weather, weakening teammates, unstable snow. It's clear now that mountain sickness is an internal warning that they should treat with just as much respect.

Widening of spaces surrounding blood vessels in the brain. They are caused by brain swelling or atrophy and are associated with age-related cognitive decline, dementia, and various brain diseases.

Loss of neurons in the cerebral cortex—the surface layer of the brain, which carries out conscious thought, physical perception, and higher-level control of body movements.

Damage to the white matter beneath the cerebral cortex. In a climber's brain, the damage is often caused by small strokes—clots that form in the thickened blood, starving the surrounding tissue of oxygen. White matter is the network that transfers signals between parts of the brain, so damage causes widespread and irreversible problems.

Protect Your Brain
Follow these steps to prevent high-altitude trouble in your head.

1. Coming from sea level? Spend night one at about 5,000 feet.

2. Ascend as slowly as possible. Medically speaking, the safest rate is 1,000 feet per day above 9,000 feet.

3. Minimize time above 19,500 feet.

4. Climb high, sleep low. The higher elevation will kick-start the acclimatization process, while descending at night allows the body to adapt at a safer elevation. Or build in a rest day every 2-3 days.

5. Listen to your body. Never ascend with obvious symptoms of altitude sickness; descend if symptoms worsen.

6. Stay hydrated, avoid excess salt, and eat foods rich in carbohydrates.

7. Don't drink alcohol—it's dehydrating and depresses breathing.

I'm Not Feeling So Good...

On Jimmy Chin's expeditions, he takes it easy at base camp. "Your body gets weakened with stress. Resting really well and getting acclimatized at a lower elevation is more important than getting fatigued from constantly trying to climb high and sleep low"

Altitude sickness can strike as low as 6,000 feet but more commonly occurs above 8,000 feet, usually in people who've reached that elevation rapidly. The first phase is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), which always involves mild brain swelling that, according to the Spanish study, can cause lasting damage. Symptoms include headache, nausea, and malaise; if these start, climbers should descend until they disappear. If the swelling continues to worsen, it can become High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE), a very serious condition. Delusions, confusion, and emotional instability are early symptoms; it can progress to cause lack of coordination, unconsciousness, and death.

Here's what happens: At altitude, the lack of oxygen causes your heart and respiration rates to increase. This causes you to exhale too much carbon dioxide, which upsets the water and electrolyte balance in the blood. That, in turn, damages the walls of brain (and lung) capillaries, causing them to leak fluid into surrounding tissue and make the brain swell. The blood also becomes thicker as more red blood cells are produced to transport oxygen and as water is pulled out by dehydration. In the most serious cases, clots develop in the thickened blood, causing minor strokes.

The Results Are In (and Kinda Scary)

The Spanish report is not the only one to examine brain damage in otherwise healthy high-altitude climbers.

By comparing scans of nine climbers' brains before and after trips to K2 or Everest, Dr. Margherita Di Paola and her colleagues at the University of Rome found that the climbers lost both gray and white matter. The study also showed greater damage to the brain regions controlling the dominant side of the body—presumably from the greater oxygen demands in the parts controlling movement.

A 1996 study in the British journal Clinical Science compared brain scans of 21 elite climbers who had climbed above 26,000 feet and a control group of 21 people who had never been to high altitude. Sixty percent of the elite climbers showed signs of mild cortical atrophy or damage in the white matter deep in the brain. Notably, seven elite Sherpas who climbed that high but lived at high altitude were also studied. Only one showed similar effects. The authors recommended slower acclimatization.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rattlesnake Rumble

Yesterday was a great little 4.5 mile local trail race in Eldo Canyon that brought out about 90 runners. It was my 1st race since Bighorn last June in which I actually gave an effort at it. I started out slow with no warm up but just built speed and kept trying to run faster as the race progressed. Even with my nasty crash I was able to finish 23rd overall Which is not to shabby considering the slow start, crashing, and the fact that it is Boulder (running capital of the world).

You can find the race website by clicking here.

Results are found by clicking here.

Race reports are found by clicking here and here.

And finally some photos I found.

Me trying to catch that one last guy. You can see the blood running down my leg from the crash just 1/2 mile earlier.

Fred coming into the finish

Views of what we got to look at during the run

You can view all the photos by clicking here.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Huarache Running Sandals

So I have been slowly dipping my feet into the world of barefoot running since reading the book Born to Run. In the book there is a character named Barefoot Ted. I happened to come across his website yesterday. You can click here to view it.

He is currently making and selling huarache running sandals that the natives in the book wore for $56.95. If you feel like making them yourself he will also sell you a kit for $24.95. You can find those at Not sure if I could run in these or not but they are cheaper than the $90 for Five Fingers.

Oh yeah, he also did the Leadville 100 2 weeks ago in Five Fingers in 25:54.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Another article about barefoot running

Here is another article that I found about barefoot running. It seems to be becoming quite popular to talk about. As far as how my own barefoot running is coming along, I am still only doing it 2-3 times a week for only 5 minutes on the grass. I might start uping the time a little in Sept to 10 mins once a week and keep the other sessions at 5 mins.

You can click here for the article or I have copied the text below for you.

Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe Giants
Published: August 29, 2009

TODD BYERS was among more than 20,000 people running the San Francisco Marathon last month. Dressed in shorts and a T-shirt, he might have blended in with the other runners, except for one glaring difference: he was barefoot.

Tony Post, chief of Vibram North America, in the company's thin rubber running shoes. He says the industry is due for a shake-up.
Even in anything-goes San Francisco, his lack of footwear prompted curious stares. His photo was snapped, and he heard one runner grumble, “I just don’t want the guy without shoes to beat me.”

Mr. Byers, 46, a running coach and event manager from Long Beach, Calif., who clocked in at 4 hours 48 minutes, has run 75 marathons since 2004 in bare feet. “People are kind of weird about it,” he shrugs.

Maybe they shouldn’t be. Recent research suggests that for all their high-tech features, modern running shoes may not actually do much to improve a runner’s performance or prevent injuries. Some runners are convinced that they are better off with shoes that are little more than thin gloves for the feet — or with no shoes at all.

Plenty of medical experts disagree with this notion. The result has been a raging debate in running circles, pitting a quirky band of barefoot runners and researchers against the running-shoe and sports-medicine establishments.

It has also inspired some innovative footwear. Upstart companies like Vibram, Feelmax and Terra Plana are challenging the running-shoe status quo with thin-sole designs meant to combine the benefits of going barefoot with a layer of protection. This move toward minimalism could have a significant impact on not only running shoes but also on the broader $17 billion sports shoe market.

The shoe industry giants defend their products, saying they help athletes perform better and protect feet from stress and strain — not to mention the modern world’s concrete and broken glass.

But for all the technological advances promoted by the industry — the roll bars, the computer chips and the memory foam — experts say the injury rate among runners is virtually unchanged since the 1970s, when the modern running shoe was introduced. Some ailments, like those involving the knee and Achilles’ tendon, have increased.

“There’s not a lot of evidence that running shoes have made people better off,” said Daniel E. Lieberman, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard, who has researched the role of running in human evolution.

Makers of athletic shoes have grown and prospered by selling a steady stream of new and improved models designed to cushion, coddle and correct the feet.

In October, for example, the Japanese athletic-shoe maker Asics will introduce the latest version of its Gel-Kinsei, a $180 marvel of engineering that boasts its “Impact Guidance System” and a heel unit with multiple shock absorbers. Already offered by Adidas is the Porsche Design Sport Bounce:S running shoe, with metallic springs inspired by a car’s suspension system. It costs as much as $500.

Some question the benefit of all that technology. Dr. Craig Richards, a researcher at the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Newcastle in Australia — and, it should be noted, a designer of minimalist shoes — surveyed the published literature and could not find a single clinical study showing that cushioned or corrective running shoes prevented injury or improved performance. His findings were published last year in The British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Other experts say that there is little research showing that the minimalist approach is any better, and some say it can be flat-out dangerous.

“In 95 percent of the population or higher, running barefoot will land you in my office,” said Dr. Lewis G. Maharam, medical director for the New York Road Runners, the group that organizes the New York City Marathon. “A very small number of people are biomechanically perfect,” he said, so most need some sort of supportive or corrective footwear.

Nevertheless, a growing number of people now believe in running as nature intended — and if not barefoot, then as close to it as possible. They remain a tiny segment of the population — some would say fringe. But popular training methods like ChiRunning and the Pose Method that promote a more “natural” gait, as well as “Born to Run,” a best-selling new book about long-distance running by Christopher McDougall, have helped spur interest.

Proponents of this approach contend that naked feet are perfectly capable of running long distances, and that encasing them in the fortress of modern footwear weakens foot muscles and ligaments and blocks vital sensory input about terrain.

“The shoe arguably got in the way of evolution,” said Galahad Clark, a seventh-generation shoemaker and chief executive of the shoemaker Terra Plana, based in London. “They’re like little foot coffins that stopped the foot from working the way it’s supposed to work.”

The big shoe companies are clearly paying attention to the trend. Nike was first to market with the Nike Free, a flexible shoe for “barefootlike running” with less padding than the company’s typical offerings. It was introduced in 2005 after Nike representatives discovered that a prominent track coach to whom they supplied shoes had his team train barefoot.

But some in the industry are critical of the barefoot push. Simon Bartold, an international research consultant for Asics, said advocates of barefoot running “are propagating a campaign of misinformation.”

SPEND some time in Concord, Mass., and you might catch a glimpse of a fit 51-year-old man in a pair of funny-looking socks running down the bucolic streets.

That would be Tony Post, the president and C.E.O. of Vibram USA, on a lunchtime run. And those socks? They’re actually thin rubber “shoes” with individual toe pockets. Called Vibram FiveFingers, they’ve been selling briskly to runners and athletes looking to strengthen their feet and sharpen their game.

When Vibram, an Italian company known for its rugged rubber soles, designed the FiveFingers a few years ago, company officials figured that they would appeal to boaters, kayakers and yogis. Instead, the shoes, which sell for $75 to $85, caught on with runners, fitness buffs and even professional athletes: David Diehl, the New York Giants tackle, trains in them.

Mr. Post, a shoe industry veteran, said he believed that the business was poised for a shakeup. “It used to be all about adding more,” he said. “Now, we’re trying to strip a lot of that away.”

Strange as they look, the FiveFingers shoes hark back to a simpler time. Humans have long run barefoot or in flat soles. Professor Lieberman’s research suggests that two million years ago, our ancestors’ ability to run long distances helped them outlast their prey, providing a steady diet of protein long before spears and arrows. More recently, at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila, an Ethiopian runner, caused a stir when he ran the marathon barefoot and won.

Things changed in the early 1970s, when Bill Bowerman, a track coach turned entrepreneur, created a cushioned running shoe that allowed runners to take longer strides and land on their heels, rather than a more natural mid- or forefoot strike. Mr. Bowerman and his business partner, Phil Knight, marketed the new shoes under the Nike brand, and the rest is history.

At the same time, millions of Americans began taking up running as a pastime. Those twin trends ushered in a golden age of biomechanics research. “There was a lot of concern about injuries because of the boom,” said Trampas TenBroek, manager of sports research at New Balance. The logic, he said, was that “if you build a heel lift and make it thicker, you take stress off the Achilles’ tendon.”

Walk into a sports store today and you’ll see the results: shoes with inch-thick heels and orthotics designed to correct overpronation, supination and a host of other ills.

Mr. McDougall, the “Born to Run” author, ” said manufacturers, doctors and retailers were doing runners a disservice by pushing such shoes. “People are buying it thinking it’s going to do something for them, and it’s not,” he said.

Mr. McDougall’s book is centered on the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico, known for epic 100-mile runs with nothing on their feet but strips of rubber. The book has become something of a manifesto for barefoot runners.

After suffering chronic foot pain and being advised by sports medicine doctors to give up running, Mr. McDougall tried thin-soled shoes. Now, he said, he runs long distances without shoes — or pain.

THAT seems to be a common experience among barefoot converts. “When people get it, it’s almost biblical,” said Mr. Clark at Terra Plana. His initial line of minimal shoes, the Vivo Barefoot, is intended for walking; a performance model, the $150 Evo, is due at year-end.

Sales of minimalist shoes, while still tiny, are growing at a rapid clip. Mr. Clark figures that he will sell 70,000 pairs of minimal shoes this year, double last year’s volume. The shoes have sold mostly online and through 10 Terra Plana stores worldwide.

Vibram says sales of its FiveFingers have tripled every year since they were introduced in 2006, and Mr. Post said he expects revenue of $10 million this year in North America alone.

Many professionals agree that while barefoot running may have some benefits, those who are tempted to try running barefoot — or nearly so — should proceed slowly, as they should with any other significant change to their running habits. They also say that more research is needed.

Sean Murphy, engineering manager for advanced products at New Balance, says that there have been many studies suggesting “that shoes can correct biomechanical abnormalities and risk factors, therefore minimizing the likelihood of injury.”

When asked for an example, Mr. Murphy pointed to a 2006 study by three doctoral students that found that wearing the appropriate type of running shoe for one’s foot could reduce the shock of impact or unwanted rotation of leg bones. The study did not address injury rates.

AMID all the controversy, barefoot running and natural gaits are the subject of intensive research across the shoe industry. Companies don’t want to miss out if it turns out to be more than just a fad.

At New Balance’s sports research lab in Lawrence, Mass., Mr. TenBroek and Mr. Murphy are studying the biomechanics of running barefoot and in soles of varying thickness, while designing a “lower profile” shoe.

Asics, too, sees promise in this area. “As technology improves, we will definitely go to a more minimal style,” Mr. Bartold said.

Those big companies could end up profiting from the movement — or they could have trouble getting on board.

Danny Dreyer, the founder of ChiRunning, which uses the tai chi principles of harnessing energy and core muscles to promote a more effortless way of running, said he had worked with a few shoe companies to help design minimalist shoes. In each case, he said, marketing and profit concerns trumped design: “Their profit and direction is based on ‘More shoe is better,’ ” said Mr. Dreyer, who is also a long-distance runner.

Mr. Bartold of Asics, which has not worked with Mr. Dreyer, said the industry had runners’ best interests in mind. “It’s all about trying to protect the athlete,” he said.

Nike describes the Free, its minimalist shoe, as a “training tool.” It offers models with varying degrees of cushioning; they are priced at $55 to $110.

“The key is to offer a range of options, because every runner has different needs,” said Derek Kent, a Nike spokesman. “If you want that sensation of barefoot running, there is the Free, but if you want a product with a little more cushioning and support, we have that, too.”

While Nike would not disclose detailed sales information, Mr. Kent said sales of the Free grew at double-digit rates in the last two fiscal years, with sales in Japan and China especially strong.

Curt Munson, co-owner of Playmakers, a running shop in Okemos, Mich., said that in his conversations with major shoe companies lately, “they see that they need to address this” but “they’re just not sure how much.” But, he said, they must be thinking, “If we say this is the best, then are we saying that what we’ve done before is not good?”

The back-to-basics movement is more than a fad, said Mr. Munson, who runs in FiveFingers. “Most people are not ready to run barefoot,” he said, “but I do think they are ready to go back to ‘less is more.’ ”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hanging Lake/Sprouting Rock

This past Friday and Saturday we were in Glenwood Springs for a wedding that Ashley was in. While she was helping the bride get ready all day on Saturday I was able to get in a short (5-6 mile) trailrun at Hanging Lake trailhead just east of Glenwood Springs right off I-70. Really neat area and worth checking out if you are looking for something to do. The steep trails with the rope installed are small side trails that I found that climb the mesa. To get to the lake and sprouting rock it is only about a 4 mile round trip hike on normal trails. The pictures are in the link, enjoy.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Barefoot Running

Been really thinking of taking up some barefoot running since reading the book "Born to Run". My buddy Neal sent me this article with lots of valid points, basically I need to be careful with it. You can read the article by clicking here or I have copied it below for you.

Barefoot running: enthusiasts swear by weird-looking shoes
Gotta be the (lack of) shoes
By Clay Evans
Friday, August 7, 2009

BOULDER, Colo. — Kristen Campbell spent most of her 20s wearing soft leather moccasins everywhere she went, even on extended backpacking trips. But when she “grew up,” she reluctantly moved on to “real” shoes.

“I had to move out of the hippie ranks,” says the avid, 39-year-old distance runner, perhaps a little ruefully. “I had to stop being a dirtbag.”

So she was intrigued when she learned of a small but growing movement that advocates running barefoot, or something close to it. In Boulder, following the publication of “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall this spring — which, among many other things, wages war against thick-soled modern running shoes — the trend of running in “barefoot” or “minimal” shoes has taken off as fast as Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt.

After reading the book, Campbell bought a pair of Vibram Five Fingers shoes mentioned by McDougall. The shoes have virtually no support, offering only a tough, thin sole and individual pockets for each toe.

“They are so much fun to wear,” she says. “I feel the ground more ... They make for a more intimate running experience.”

Wimpy feet

McDougall, who now runs exclusively in Five Fingers and other low-support shoes, shined a light on scientific research that, in his words, shows that “running shoes may be the most destructive force to ever hit the human foot.” In fact, he writes, modern running shoes actually cause all those persistent running injuries, from plantar fasciitis to bum knees. Essentially, they make wimps of runners’ feet.

“The puzzling conclusion (of the evidence): the more cushioned the shoe, the less protection it provides,” McDougall writes.

There are true, fanatical, evangelistic shoeless runners out there (Google “Barefoot Ted” or “Barefoot Ken Bob”) but on local trails, most “barefoot” aficionados find some protection is necessary for sole survival.

A painful trend?

But before you slap on some funky-looking shoes or all that “new” minimalist footgear now being hawked by major shoe companies desperate to keep up with the trend, former world-champion marathoner and physical therapist Mark Plaatjes says come talk to him.

“How many people do you know who live here who have grown up not wearing shoes?” asks Plaatjes, 48, co-owner of The Boulder Running Co. “You’ve got people who have lived on this planet 30, 40, 50, even 60 years wearing shoes, and now they are going to run barefoot?”

He agrees that running barefoot or in minimal-support shoes can strengthen foot muscles and even help heal certain types of injuries. But he’s already seeing the painful results of the trend in his practice.

“I say this not as a retailer, but as a physical therapist: Shoes protect feet when you run on concrete, pavement and rocks,” Plaatjes says. “If we ran marathons completely on grass, I’d say do it. If we had them on the beach or on soft dirt, I’d say absolutely do it. ... But the majority of people can’t do this. So they’re jumping in, but sooner or later they are coming to see me or a podiatrist or a doctor.”

Barefoot therapy

Benji Durden, long-time Boulder runner, coach and former Olympic marathoner, is one of those who has found that some barefoot running has helped him recover from injuries. But the operative word is “some.”

In the 1980s, he did often trained barefoot on grass “just because I felt like it,” accidentally discovering that it helped with an Achilles tendon injury. He forgot about the joy and utility of running sans shoes over the years, but this spring when he was having Achilles problems again, he ran into a friend wearing Five Fingers. So he started doing some workouts on grass in bare feet again.

“For me, running barefoot is the better solution than all that support,” says Durden, 57. “But I don’t know if that’s valid for the entire American running population.”

Boulder Running Co. has been selling minimalist shoes like the Nike Free and Adidas Echo. But Plaatjes and co-owner Johnny Halberstadt just last week decided to start carrying the Five Fingers, despite Plaatjes' concerns.

"We are just getting so many questions about them," Plaatjes says. "At least they provide some protection."

Ugly maybe, but still selling

But so far, the Pedestrian Shops in Boulder have had a monopoly on the curious-looking shoes. Lauren Polk, operations manager for the stores, says sales of Five Fingers have kicked into a sprint since McDougall's book hit the stands.

“Every week it’s fair to say we’re selling 40 to 50 pairs,” she says.

Polk is intrigued by the sudden popularity of what many see as ugly shoes (as one local Facebook poster wrote, “These are weird even by Boulder standards.”)

“They are sort of the opposite of everything that the running industry has been telling runners until now. I think it may be a turning point, the whole idea of training yourself to run on (the forefoot) as opposed to heel strikes,” she says.

That’s the concept behind Boulder-based startup Newton Running’s super-light shoes, low-support concept shoes, whose design virtually forces forefoot or mid-foot running instead of contacting the ground with a thick, padded heel.

American vs. African feet

But even Campbell, who loves her barefooting, has found that the technique and shoes have their limitations.

“I have a hard time keeping up with people. And I need all my mechanical advantages on gravelly, rocky stuff,” she says.

Like a patient parent, Plaatjes is willing to wait out the fad. He thinks it will fade quickly as more runners become injured and find themselves limping back to a pair of solid modern shoes.

“In Africa, where people run, walk and grow up not wearing shoes, they can do this,” says the South African native. “Still, how many Kenyans do you see racing marathons in bare feet?”

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

Very interesting article that I came across this morning that I thought I would share. You can find the article by clicking here. I have also copied the text below for you. Have a great week, the weekend is just around the corner!
Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin
By John Cloud Thursday, Aug. 06, 2009

As I write this, tomorrow is Tuesday, which is a cardio day. I'll spend five minutes warming up on the VersaClimber, a towering machine that requires you to move your arms and legs simultaneously. Then I'll do 30 minutes on a stair mill. On Wednesday a personal trainer will work me like a farm animal for an hour, sometimes to the point that I am dizzy - an abuse for which I pay as much as I spend on groceries in a week. Thursday is "body wedge" class, which involves another exercise contraption, this one a large foam wedge from which I will push myself up in various hateful ways for an hour. Friday will bring a 5.5-mile run, the extra half-mile my grueling expiation of any gastronomical indulgences during the week.

I have exercised like this - obsessively, a bit grimly - for years, but recently I began to wonder: Why am I doing this? Except for a two-year period at the end of an unhappy relationship - a period when I self-medicated with lots of Italian desserts - I have never been overweight. One of the most widely accepted, commonly repeated assumptions in our culture is that if you exercise, you will lose weight. But I exercise all the time, and since I ended that relationship and cut most of those desserts, my weight has returned to the same 163 lb. it has been most of my adult life. I still have gut fat that hangs over my belt when I sit. Why isn't all the exercise wiping it out?

It's a question many of us could ask. More than 45 million Americans now belong to a health club, up from 23 million in 1993. We spend some $19 billion a year on gym memberships. Of course, some people join and never go. Still, as one major study - the Minnesota Heart Survey - found, more of us at least say we exercise regularly. The survey ran from 1980, when only 47% of respondents said they engaged in regular exercise, to 2000, when the figure had grown to 57%.

And yet obesity figures have risen dramatically in the same period: a third of Americans are obese, and another third count as overweight by the Federal Government's definition. Yes, it's entirely possible that those of us who regularly go to the gym would weigh even more if we exercised less. But like many other people, I get hungry after I exercise, so I often eat more on the days I work out than on the days I don't. Could exercise actually be keeping me from losing weight?

The conventional wisdom that exercise is essential for shedding pounds is actually fairly new. As recently as the 1960s, doctors routinely advised against rigorous exercise, particularly for older adults who could injure themselves. Today doctors encourage even their oldest patients to exercise, which is sound advice for many reasons: People who regularly exercise are at significantly lower risk for all manner of diseases - those of the heart in particular. They less often develop cancer, diabetes and many other illnesses. But the past few years of obesity research show that the role of exercise in weight loss has been wildly overstated. (Read "Losing Weight: Can Exercise Trump Genes?")

"In general, for weight loss, exercise is pretty useless," says Eric Ravussin, chair in diabetes and metabolism at Louisiana State University and a prominent exercise researcher. Many recent studies have found that exercise isn't as important in helping people lose weight as you hear so regularly in gym advertisements or on shows like The Biggest Loser - or, for that matter, from magazines like this one.

The basic problem is that while it's true that exercise burns calories and that you must burn calories to lose weight, exercise has another effect: it can stimulate hunger. That causes us to eat more, which in turn can negate the weight-loss benefits we just accrued. Exercise, in other words, isn't necessarily helping us lose weight. It may even be making it harder.

The Compensation Problem

Earlier this year, the peer-reviewed journal PLoS ONE - PLoS is the nonprofit Public Library of Science - published a remarkable study supervised by a colleague of Ravussin's, Dr. Timothy Church, who holds the rather grand title of chair in health wisdom at LSU. Church's team randomly assigned into four groups 464 overweight women who didn't regularly exercise. Women in three of the groups were asked to work out with a personal trainer for 72 min., 136 min., and 194 min. per week, respectively, for six months. Women in the fourth cluster, the control group, were told to maintain their usual physical-activity routines. All the women were asked not to change their dietary habits and to fill out monthly medical-symptom questionnaires.

The findings were surprising. On average, the women in all the groups, even the control group, lost weight, but the women who exercised - sweating it out with a trainer several days a week for six months - did not lose significantly more weight than the control subjects did. (The control-group women may have lost weight because they were filling out those regular health forms, which may have prompted them to consume fewer doughnuts.) Some of the women in each of the four groups actually gained weight, some more than 10 lb. each.

What's going on here? Church calls it compensation, but you and I might know it as the lip-licking anticipation of perfectly salted, golden-brown French fries after a hard trip to the gym. Whether because exercise made them hungry or because they wanted to reward themselves (or both), most of the women who exercised ate more than they did before they started the experiment. Or they compensated in another way, by moving around a lot less than usual after they got home. (Read "Run For Your Lives.")

The findings are important because the government and various medical organizations routinely prescribe more and more exercise for those who want to lose weight. In 2007 the American College of Sports Medicine and the American Heart Association issued new guidelines stating that "to lose weight ... 60 to 90 minutes of physical activity may be necessary." That's 60 to 90 minutes on most days of the week, a level that not only is unrealistic for those of us trying to keep or find a job but also could easily produce, on the basis of Church's data, ravenous compensatory eating.

It's true that after six months of working out, most of the exercisers in Church's study were able to trim their waistlines slightly - by about an inch. Even so, they lost no more overall body fat than the control group did. Why not?

Church, who is 41 and has lived in Baton Rouge for nearly three years, has a theory. "I see this anecdotally amongst, like, my wife's friends," he says. "They're like, 'Ah, I'm running an hour a day, and I'm not losing any weight.'" He asks them, "What are you doing after you run?" It turns out one group of friends was stopping at Starbucks for muffins afterward. Says Church: "I don't think most people would appreciate that, wow, you only burned 200 or 300 calories, which you're going to neutralize with just half that muffin." (Read "Too Fat? Read Your E-mail.")

You might think half a muffin over an entire day wouldn't matter much, particularly if you exercise regularly. After all, doesn't exercise turn fat to muscle, and doesn't muscle process excess calories more efficiently than fat does?

Yes, although the muscle-fat relationship is often misunderstood. According to calculations published in the journal Obesity Research by a Columbia University team in 2001, a pound of muscle burns approximately six calories a day in a resting body, compared with the two calories that a pound of fat burns. Which means that after you work out hard enough to convert, say, 10 lb. of fat to muscle - a major achievement - you would be able to eat only an extra 40 calories per day, about the amount in a teaspoon of butter, before beginning to gain weight. Good luck with that.

Fundamentally, humans are not a species that evolved to dispose of many extra calories beyond what we need to live. Rats, among other species, have a far greater capacity to cope with excess calories than we do because they have more of a dark-colored tissue called brown fat. Brown fat helps produce a protein that switches off little cellular units called mitochondria, which are the cells' power plants: they help turn nutrients into energy. When they're switched off, animals don't get an energy boost. Instead, the animals literally get warmer. And as their temperature rises, calories burn effortlessly.

Because rodents have a lot of brown fat, it's very difficult to make them obese, even when you force-feed them in labs. But humans - we're pathetic. We have so little brown fat that researchers didn't even report its existence in adults until earlier this year. That's one reason humans can gain weight with just an extra half-muffin a day: we almost instantly store most of the calories we don't need in our regular ("white") fat cells.

All this helps explain why our herculean exercise over the past 30 years - all the personal trainers, StairMasters and VersaClimbers; all the Pilates classes and yoga retreats and fat camps - hasn't made us thinner. After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or in "sports" drinks like Gatorade. A standard 20-oz. bottle of Gatorade contains 130 calories. If you're hot and thirsty after a 20-minute run in summer heat, it's easy to guzzle that bottle in 20 seconds, in which case the caloric expenditure and the caloric intake are probably a wash. From a weight-loss perspective, you would have been better off sitting on the sofa knitting.

Self-Control Is like a Muscle

Many people assume that weight is mostly a matter of willpower - that we can learn both to exercise and to avoid muffins and Gatorade. A few of us can, but evolution did not build us to do this for very long. In 2000 the journal Psychological Bulletin published a paper by psychologists Mark Muraven and Roy Baumeister in which they observed that self-control is like a muscle: it weakens each day after you use it. If you force yourself to jog for an hour, your self-regulatory capacity is proportionately enfeebled. Rather than lunching on a salad, you'll be more likely to opt for pizza.

Some of us can will ourselves to overcome our basic psychology, but most of us won't be very successful. "The most powerful determinant of your dietary intake is your energy expenditure," says Steven Gortmaker, who heads Harvard's Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity. "If you're more physically active, you're going to get hungry and eat more." Gortmaker, who has studied childhood obesity, is even suspicious of the playgrounds at fast-food restaurants. "Why would they build those?" he asks. "I know it sounds kind of like conspiracy theory, but you have to think, if a kid plays five minutes and burns 50 calories, he might then go inside and consume 500 calories or even 1,000." (Read "Why Kids' Exercise Matters Less Than We Think.")

Last year the International Journal of Obesity published a paper by Gortmaker and Kendrin Sonneville of Children's Hospital Boston noting that "there is a widespread assumption that increasing activity will result in a net reduction in any energy gap" - energy gap being the term scientists use for the difference between the number of calories you use and the number you consume. But Gortmaker and Sonneville found in their 18-month study of 538 students that when kids start to exercise, they end up eating more - not just a little more, but an average of 100 calories more than they had just burned.

If evolution didn't program us to lose weight through exercise, what did it program us to do? Doesn't exercise do anything?

Sure. It does plenty. In addition to enhancing heart health and helping prevent disease, exercise improves your mental health and cognitive ability. A study published in June in the journal Neurology found that older people who exercise at least once a week are 30% more likely to maintain cognitive function than those who exercise less. Another study, released by the University of Alberta a few weeks ago, found that people with chronic back pain who exercise four days a week have 36% less disability than those who exercise only two or three days a week.

But there's some confusion about whether it is exercise - sweaty, exhausting, hunger-producing bursts of activity done exclusively to benefit our health - that leads to all these benefits or something far simpler: regularly moving during our waking hours. We all need to move more - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says our leisure-time physical activity (including things like golfing, gardening and walking) has decreased since the late 1980s, right around the time the gym boom really exploded. But do we need to stress our bodies at the gym?

Look at kids. In May a team of researchers at Peninsula Medical School in the U.K. traveled to Amsterdam to present some surprising findings to the European Congress on Obesity. The Peninsula scientists had studied 206 kids, ages 7 to 11, at three schools in and around Plymouth, a city of 250,000 on the southern coast of England. Kids at the first school, an expensive private academy, got an average of 9.2 hours per week of scheduled, usually rigorous physical education. Kids at the two other schools - one in a village near Plymouth and the other an urban school - got just 2.4 hours and 1.7 hours of PE per week, respectively.

To understand just how much physical activity the kids were getting, the Peninsula team had them wear ActiGraphs, light but sophisticated devices that measure not only the amount of physical movement the body engages in but also its intensity. During four one-week periods over consecutive school terms, the kids wore the ActiGraphs nearly every waking moment.

And no matter how much PE they got during school hours, when you look at the whole day, the kids from the three schools moved the same amount, at about the same intensity. The kids at the fancy private school underwent significantly more physical activity before 3 p.m., but overall they didn't move more. "Once they get home, if they are very active in school, they are probably staying still a bit more because they've already expended so much energy," says Alissa FrÉmeaux, a biostatistician who helped conduct the study. "The others are more likely to grab a bike and run around after school." (Read "Our Super-Sized Kids.")

Another British study, this one from the University of Exeter, found that kids who regularly move in short bursts - running to catch a ball, racing up and down stairs to collect toys - are just as healthy as kids who participate in sports that require vigorous, sustained exercise.

Could pushing people to exercise more actually be contributing to our obesity problem? In some respects, yes. Because exercise depletes not just the body's muscles but the brain's self-control "muscle" as well, many of us will feel greater entitlement to eat a bag of chips during that lazy time after we get back from the gym. This explains why exercise could make you heavier - or at least why even my wretched four hours of exercise a week aren't eliminating all my fat. It's likely that I am more sedentary during my nonexercise hours than I would be if I didn't exercise with such Puritan fury. If I exercised less, I might feel like walking more instead of hopping into a cab; I might have enough energy to shop for food, cook and then clean instead of ordering a satisfyingly greasy burrito.

Closing the Energy Gap

The problem ultimately is about not exercise itself but the way we've come to define it. Many obesity researchers now believe that very frequent, low-level physical activity - the kind humans did for tens of thousands of years before the leaf blower was invented - may actually work better for us than the occasional bouts of exercise you get as a gym rat. "You cannot sit still all day long and then have 30 minutes of exercise without producing stress on the muscles," says Hans-Rudolf Berthoud, a neurobiologist at LSU's Pennington Biomedical Research Center who has studied nutrition for 20 years. "The muscles will ache, and you may not want to move after. But to burn calories, the muscle movements don't have to be extreme. It would be better to distribute the movements throughout the day."

For his part, Berthoud rises at 5 a.m. to walk around his neighborhood several times. He also takes the stairs when possible. "Even if people can get out of their offices, out from in front of their computers, they go someplace like the mall and then take the elevator," he says. "This is the real problem, not that we don't go to the gym enough." (Read "Is There a Laziness Gene?")

I was skeptical when Berthoud said this. Don't you need to raise your heart rate and sweat in order to strengthen your cardiovascular system? Don't you need to push your muscles to the max in order to build them?

Actually, it's not clear that vigorous exercise like running carries more benefits than a moderately strenuous activity like walking while carrying groceries. You regularly hear about the benefits of exercise in news stories, but if you read the academic papers on which these stories are based, you frequently see that the research subjects who were studied didn't clobber themselves on the elliptical machine. A routine example: in June the Association for Psychological Science issued a news release saying that "physical exercise ... may indeed preserve or enhance various aspects of cognitive functioning." But in fact, those who had better cognitive function merely walked more and climbed more stairs. They didn't even walk faster; walking speed wasn't correlated with cognitive ability.

There's also growing evidence that when it comes to preventing certain diseases, losing weight may be more important than improving cardiovascular health. In June, Northwestern University researchers released the results of the longest observational study ever to investigate the relationship between aerobic fitness and the development of diabetes. The results? Being aerobically fit was far less important than having a normal body mass index in preventing the disease. And as we have seen, exercise often does little to help heavy people reach a normal weight.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

JT's Hardrock 100 Race Report

I took awhile for it to get done since JT has been a lazy sh*t but as promised in my earlier post here is JT's race report for the Hardrock 100 mile trail run. He wrote in sections so I have linked each section below for you. Enjoy... Hopefully I can have the chance to run this race, there is nothing else like it.

Part 1: Silverton to Cunningham

Part 2: Cunningham Gulch to Maggie Gulch

Part 3: Maggie Gulch to Pole Creek

Part 4: Pole Creek to Sherman

Part 5: Sherman to Grouse Gulch

Part 6: Grouse Gulch to Ouray

Part 7: Ouray aid station

Part 8: Ouray to Governor Basin

Part 9: Gov Basin to Virginius Pass

Part 10: Kroger's to Telluride

Part 11: Telluride to Chapman Gulch

Part 12: Chapman Gulch to KT

Part 13: KT to Putnam

Part 14: Putnam to Silverton(Finish)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Solo fun on Mount Lindsey

Friday after work I drove down to the Lily Lake trailhead with thought of climbing Mount Lindsey first thing Saturday morning. It took me 5 hours to drive from work which is located at the Longmont exit on I-25 to the trailhead, much farther than I was expecting. The main reason that it takes so long is the fact that this trailhead is way back there in the hills. It takes over an hour of dirt and 4x4 roads to reach the trailhead from Gardner Colorado. I arrived about 8pm on Friday and was asleep in the back of my 4runner by 9:30 or so.

Saturday morning about 4am a large group of 5-8 people started talking and making lots of noise at the trailhead waking me up. I laid there looking at the roof of the 4runner willing myself to move. I finally got out of my sleeping bag at around 4:45am to get ready and hit the trail about 5:10am after chugging an energy drink since I did not have any coffee and quickly eating a Clif Bar.

The first 2 miles can be confusing according to trip reports that I have read so I studied the hell out of the map in Roach's book and at the trailhead the night before. It was a good thing that I did because as you get into the thick trees the trail disappears then comes back only to disappear again. Basically after crossing the river (kept to my left to this point) I just angled to my about 50 degrees or so to my left (this is assuming 90 degrees is straight ahead)which is southeast and kept the stream to my right. I ended up picking up the trail again. After a short steep uphill I broke treeline and the rest of the route was laid out in front of me. I move pretty quickly in comparsion to most people so I was expecting to catch or at least be able to see the large group that started in front of me once I hit treeline but they were not in eye sight at this point which I thought was weird, were they that quick?

I pushed up the hill to gain the ridge between the Iron Nipple and Lindsey, what a site! This is a beautiful location. I just followed the standard trail up to the small notch at the top of the 1st gully. From here I got tired of dealing with the loose rock so I turned right and did some class 3/low 4 climbing to gain the ridge and followed the Northwest Ridge the rest of the way to the summit. By the point that I gained the ridge I was past crux wall on this route was able to easily follow the ridge to the summit never going above a class 2/3 climb.

I hit the summit 2 hours and 45 mins after leaving my car this morning. I only spent 15 mins on the top eating, drinking, and snapping pictures. I followed the standard route that I ditched on the way up heading down. This was a loose mess and was happy that I did ditch it going up, by doing that it made for a much more enjoyable climb. I saw the 1st people of the day heading up when I was coming down, I never did see that large group that left before me I have no idea what happened to them. I guess I was the 1st one on top today. On the way down I booked it and came across about 15-20 people total still heading up. Once I got below treeline back into the heavy trees where the trail was disappearing on the way up, I ended up using my GPS watch to follow my tracks back down to pick up the trail again. The trees in this valley are thick enough that I did lose signal a few times on my GPS watch. This valley is easy to get turned around in if you are not careful. It took me 2 hours to get back to my car for a round trip time of 5 hours on the dot car to car. 38 14er mountains down and 20 to go, getting there slowly but surely.

Here is a slide show of the photos that I took:

Friday, July 17, 2009

The real dangers in Colorado backcountry

Came across this article in the Colorado Springs paper and laughed my ass off. Click here for the link. I have also copied the text below for you.

Hope everyone has a great weekend and I will post pictures and trip report of Mount Lindsey when I get back on Monday.

CAMPING: What you should really be afraid of
The Out There ThreatDown ranks dangers lurking in the great outdoors

July 16, 2009 - 2:29 PM

Let’s face it, spending a night out in the woods is kind of … scary.

It’s dark out there. It’s lonely. Big creatures with sharp teeth and no regard for social norms lurk in the shadows.

Who hasn’t felt the hairs on the back of his or her neck stand up at the cold feeling that something out there is watching? But consider this: Statistically, a person is more likely to be killed by mouse droppings or mosquitoes in Colorado than by bears and mountain lions.

It’s not that there is nothing to be afraid of out there. It’s that we are often afraid of the wrong things.

We’ve busted out our own Out There ThreatDown (with apologies to the “Colbert Report”) so when you’re lying awake in your tent, you can be sure you’re scared of the right threat.


This tiny tangle of DNA that separates the men from the women is the most dangerous thing in the backcountry. It makes the hairier gender do really dumb things, such as climb mountains in thunderstorms, ski avalanche-prone slopes, and say things like, “Get a picture of me trying to ride this mountain goat.” Statistically, having the Y chromosome makes men three times more likely than women to be injured in the outdoors, and eight times more likely to be killed, according to a study by the Colorado Department of Public Health. Just to round things out, guys are also five times more likely to be killed biking, seven times more likely to be killed kayaking and 17 times more likely to be killed by an avalanche. The Y chromosome may also be a factor in Threat No. 2.

Best defense: Listen to your lady friend.


In Colorado, about 540 people die every year in traffic crashes. Almost half of them happen in highwaylike driving, where no intersection or stoplight is involved — exactly the type of driving most people do just before they go hiking or camping or biking.

Best defense: Slow down, pay attention and, for Pete’s sake, no texting while driving!


The leading killer of people in the outdoors in Colorado is falling down, usually at a high rate of speed (say, from a mountain bike) or from a high place (say, a mountain), perhaps because of unrealistic assessment of abilities (see Threat No. 1). These fatal falls account for about 30 percent of all outdoor recreational deaths in the state.

Best defense: Accept that you are mortal, know your limits and act accordingly.


These pulpy predators are misleading because they appear not to move. Yet somehow they manage to hit skiers with alarming regularity and disastrous results. Skier-tree collisions are the leading cause of death at ski areas, making up about 7 of the 13 skier deaths in Colorado every year, according to the Colorado health department.

Best defense: See No. 3.


Colorado is one of the top states for lightning-related deaths. We get an average of 16 lightning injuries and 3 deaths annually, according to the National Weather Service. Statistically, people are more than twice as likely to be struck dead on a weekend afternoon in July than at any other time. Men are more than eight times as likely to be killed by a strike (see Threat No. 1).

Best defense: Do not hike or camp above treeline, on ridges or in open areas after noon if there is even the potential of a thunderstorm.


West Nile surfaced in Colorado in 2003. Since then, the disease, spread by mosquito bites, has killed 83 people in the state. Only one in five people bitten by an infected skeeter will develop symptoms, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And only one in 150 cases will be severe. But a severe case can mean stupor, convulsions, coma and death. So, you know, best to take precautions.

Best defense: Long sleeves and lots of bug spray.


The seemingly harmless droppings of deer mice can carry hantavirus, a respiratory disease that is fatal in a third of all cases. Since 1993, it has killed 25 people in Colorado, according to the CDC. It mostly affects people in enclosed, droppings-rich buildings, but the CDC says anyone who comes into contact with mouse dropping in any setting can contract it.

Best defense: Look first before unrolling your sleeping bag. Do not hang out in areas that show signs of abundant deer mice, such as mouse droppings.


On average, hunters in Colorado accidentally kill 1.3 people a year and inadvertently wound an additional 12 with guns, arrows and other gear, according to the Division of Wildlife. Almost all incidents are hunter-on-hunter, and their kill rate is higher than that of mountain lions and black bears combined. Yikes.

Best defense: Know the hunting seasons and don’t dress like an elk — or a hunter, for that matter — during those times.


OK, these chubby little alpine rodents have never killed any hikers, but in some areas they have been known to crawl into the wheel wells of cars parked at alpine trailheads and chew things. Sometimes it’s just the coolant hoses (the little buggers are said to like the sweet taste of antifreeze). But sometimes they chew the brake lines. Not such a good thing when heading down Pikes Peak.

Best defense: Always check for marmots — and working brakes — before driving off.


Statistically, people are more likely to die falling into abandoned mines than to be killed by a bear or mountain lion, or any creepy crawlies or creepy people. Most bear attacks involve bears looking for food and accidentally taking a bite out of a sleeping camper. According to the Division of Wildlife, 27 people have been injured by a bear in Colorado and one killed in the past 20 years. Keep food and cooking gear in a separate bag hung in a tree away from your camp. For lions, avoid hiking alone at dawn and dusk. Keep close watch on small children.

Best defense: Make yourself look as large as possible and slowly back away.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hardrock with a side of Sneffelupaguses

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."
- Steve Prefontaine

Hardrock 100

I could not think of a better quote to sum up what I saw this past weekend at the Hardrock 100 mile trail run. There was nothing but guts and glory on display at the finish line as I watched people come across the finish line to kiss the rock.

I am going to give a short recap of Hardrock and leave the race report to JT. I will link to his report when it is completed.

JT had me pace him for about 15 miles of the course on Friday night. We left the GG aid station outside of Silverton at about 7pm arriving in Ouray at about 11:30pm. He was able to move pretty quickly through this section which was about 15 miles/3000ft of gain and 5500ft of loss. After dropping off JT with Paul Smith, I had to drive Paul's truck back up to Silverton via the Million Dollar Highway, this is scary when it is late and you are tired from running for over 4 hours. Click on the link to check it out. It is basically a cliff highway with a huge drop off just on the otherside of the white line, no room for error!

Here are some of the pictures that I took:

Here are some of the pictures that JT, Katie (crew) and his other pacer (Paul) took:

After getting about 4 hours of sleep in the back of my 4Runner I headed back down to Ouray to knock out a 14er called Mount Sneffels on Saturday morning.

Mount Sneffels

I arrived at the lower trailhead at about 9am to hit the trail by 9:30am. I choose to start at the lower trailhead instead of 4X4ing up to the upper trailhead so that I could get a few extra miles and vertical feet in. This climb/hike ended up being about 6 miles and 3000ft of gain. It took me 3 hours and 15 mins car to car.

Here is the link to the route description on Mount Sneffels

This climb is really straight forward and easy to follow so I am not going to write up a long trip report. Basically it is a very beautiful part of the state. It is a toss up between Aspen area and the San Juans for the prettiest places that I have seen so far in my quest of the 14ers.

Here are my pictures from the climb:

After the climb I headed back to Silverton to hang out at the finish line and watch people come across. I just love the aura that surrounds a 100 miler.

Hope everyone has a great week! I am planning on doing Mount Lindsey this coming Saturday so I will post pictures/report next week on that.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Swearing Makes You Feel Less Pain

Maybe all those bad words that run through my mind during an ultra or a hard climb are OK and do serve a purpose. You can find the article here, but I copied the text below for you.


Swearing Makes You Feel Less Pain
Monday, July 13, 2009

That muttered curse word that reflexively comes out when you stub your toe could actually make it easier to bear the throbbing pain, a new study suggests.

Swearing is a common response to pain, but no previous research has connected the uttering of an expletive to the actual physical experience of pain.

"Swearing has been around for centuries and is an almost universal human linguistic phenomenon," said Richard Stephens of Keele University in England and one of the authors of the new study. "It taps into emotional brain centers and appears to arise in the right brain, whereas most language production occurs in the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain."

Stephens and his fellow Keele researchers John Atkins and Andrew Kingston sought to test how swearing would affect an individual's tolerance to pain.

Because swearing often has an exaggerating effect that can overstate the severity of pain, the team thought that swearing would lessen a person's tolerance.

As it turned out, the opposite seems to be true.

The researchers enlisted 64 undergraduate volunteers and had them submerge their hand in a tub of ice water for as long as possible while repeating a swear word of their choice.

The experiment was then repeated with the volunteer repeating a more common word that they would use to describe a table.

Contrary to what the researcher expected, the volunteers kept their hands submerged longer while repeating the swear word.

The researchers think that the increase in pain tolerance occurs because swearing triggers the body's natural "fight-or-flight" response.

Stephens and his colleagues suggest that swearing may increase aggression (seen in accelerated heart rates), which downplays weakness to appear stronger or more macho.

"Our research shows one potential reason why swearing developed and why it persists," Stephens said.

The results of the study are detailed in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal NeuroReport.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Fast Times for Jobless Runners

I was looking through The Wall Street Journal on-line looking for the newest and greatest Delphi/GM bankruptcy news when I came across this article here. Interesting read, makes me wonder what kind of time I could post if I had all day to train. I copied the text below so you would not have to follow the link if you don't want to. I am leaving in the morning for Silverton to help JT complete the Hardrock 100 mile run in the San Juans. This is the biggest baddest 100 miler out there. You can track JT's progress here.

Fast Times for Jobless Runners
As Unemployed Amp Up Their Training, Marathon Results and Participation Rise


Longtime runner Ray Gobis posted a 3:09 at the Boston Marathon in April—his personal best. The cause wasn’t a new training technique or the perfect weather. It was because Mr. Gobis got laid off.

“Other people might go into a cocoon or something. Me, I’ve done the opposite,” says the 47-year-old Mr. Gobis, who lost his job in November as director of operations for a printing company. With his new-found leisure time, he has amped up his regimen to 60 miles a week and joined a competitive running group.

Americans might be poorer, but they certainly aren’t slower. With the economy in the doldrums, more people are discovering that without those 12-hour workdays, they’re able to pursue fitness goals like never before. Marathons, triathlons and road races are filling up in record time.

Some evidence suggests that laid-off marathon runners are actually helping push up the level of competition within their age groups. Olympic-level competition could even go up because more elite athletes coming out of college are opting to pursue their athletic goals rather than look for work in a dismal job market.

The effect on races around the country is difficult to quantify. But by one benchmark, marathoners have gotten faster., a Web site that tracks millions of race results, says 2009 has seen marathon times improve in nearly every age category. Using the 2010 Boston Marathon qualifying times as a baseline, the site looked at marathon results to see how many runners would qualify today based on previous races. The conclusion: This year alone, 4.6% of marathoners have run times that would make them eligible for Boston—a 39% increase over 2008.

Curiously, performance times in the past six years peaked in 2006, then slipped in 2007 and 2008. Troy Busot, who runs Athlinks, says that could be because the job market was bad enough in 2007 and 2008 that people had less time to train and were under more stress. “I think quality started to drop when people were like, ‘Uh oh,’ and had a little bit of anxiety,” says Mr. Busot.

Then in late ’08 and into 2009, extensive layoffs gave runners more time to train and, in some cases, less stress. “I guess the ones who don’t have a job will get faster and the ones who are desperately clinging to a job will get slower,” he says.

Adding to the significance of the speedier marathon times is the fact that 2009 has seen a big jump in participation, up 5.1% this year, according to Athlinks. More participation means more beginners, and slower times. Simply speaking, times should be slowing down, not speeding up.

Participation in marathons and triathlons can be costly, too. The New York City Triathlon, which costs $225 to enter, filled up in 22 minutes this year, compared to eight hours last year.

“People need structure in their lives,” says John Korff, director of the race. “They can’t just sit around all day.”

Zach Goldman, a triathlete from San Diego, describes himself as “funemployed.” Mr. Goldman, who was recently laid off from his high-paying commercial real-estate job, says he has enough time to train nearly full time and enough money saved up to travel the world racing and figuring out what he wants to do with his life–which is probably not commercial real estate. “That wasn’t all that fulfilling,” he says. “I’d like to do something more meaningful with my life,” he says—ideally in a career that will allow him to train longer hours. Mr. Goldman is currently in Israel, competing in the Maccabi Games, an international competition for Jewish athletes.

Rob Vermillion, executive director of the Oregon Track Club Elite, which trains Olympic hopefuls, says elite track-and-field athletes coming out of college these days are more likely to pursue their athletic careers because the job market is so slow.

“The economy is so terrible that they might as well run,” he says. As a result, Mr. Vermillion says the team, which caps membership at 20 people, has had to cut world-class runners who would in all other years make the cut with no problem.

To Mr. Vermillion, the economy may be a good problem. Track events in the Oregon area have become much more competitive because of the economy, he says. “I would be willing to go out on a limb and say the overall quality nationwide has improved,” he says, “and naturally, increased competition increases performance.”

When Chris Bennett was training as a runner, living in Palo Alto, Calif., in 1999, he had to make a tough decision: Live the life of a pauper to continue training and have a shot at one day winning a gold medal, or go into business during the IPO craze of the late 1990s. “You were giving up millions in stock options to chase the Olympic dream,” says Mr. Bennett, who eventually gave up his running career for a big paycheck in finance. Nowadays, he says, the decision is a lot easier–young athletes should just go for it, he says. “You’re not giving up as much because the economy is so bad,” he says.

Of course the full effects of the economy on amateur athletics are still a bit murky. And if the hiring outlook improves, the high participation levels could be just a small blip on the radar screen.

But the changing economic landscape could forever alter the way Americans view recreational and competitive athletics, as more people discover the joys of training and competing.

IDEA Health and Fitness, a fitness-industry association, says average gym membership went up 18% this year, to 3,394 from 2,866 last year, at the group’s member clubs.

Even in Michigan, where the economy has been particularly harsh, a new business promoting multisport events is holding its own. Eva Solomon says she thought she was “an idiot” to leave her stable job as a grade-school teacher to start a company, EST Events, during the worst economic crisis in a generation. But she figured things like triathlons were “recession proof.”

The first event she and her business partner put on, the “She Rocks” women’s triathlon, nearly filled up, with more than 400 women participating.

“I was blown away when I got home from the race and within two hours, I was getting letters from people thanking me for asking them to pay $80 to swim, bike and run,” she says. For the company’s next event, Ms. Solomon is considering offering a discount for people who can prove they’ve been laid off in the past six months.

Claudia Becque was distraught when she was laid off in January. Then she ran a 2:44 marathon time, slashing 14 minutes off her previous personal record—and close to Olympic level.

She’s now employed as a clinical research specialist for a medical devices company in Chicago. But her month of rest, relaxation and hard training have gotten her thinking: Maybe she should stay unemployed. She’s considering moving to a part-time job with her company, and all her friends are pushing her to do it. “Claudia, this is a sign. You need to just run.”

Monday, June 29, 2009

New York Times Article on Bighorn 100

The full article can be seen by clicking here. I also have copied the text below.



Around-the-Clock Footrace Embraces Rugged Landscape
Published: June 27, 2009

DAYTON, Wyo. — A tiny ranger station cabin at 1:30 a.m. — with cold, muddy feet and sore muscles after 48 miles of rugged mountain trail running, and 52 miles still to go when you head back out into the chilly darkness at 9,000 feet — may seem like a strange place to find bliss.

About 600 runners competed in four distance events along the wilderness trails of the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming.

And a grilled cheese sandwich may seem like the least likely of bliss-inducers. But there it was, handed to me by an aid-station volunteer. After one bite, I sincerely felt that that sandwich, probably quite ordinary in the real world I had left behind more than 13 hours earlier, on a sunny Friday morning in Dayton at the start of the Bighorn Trail 100, was perhaps the best thing I’d ever tasted. I savored every greasy crumb.

Intensity of experience — from giddy joy to bleak gloom and back again — was the signature stamp of my participation in a 100-mile race through the mountains of northeastern Wyoming last weekend. Like the rolling green landscape itself, there was no flat, no lukewarm and no moderation , the 107 runners climbing 17,500 feet and descending about the same on mostly narrow single-track trails.

Anything, especially later in the race as mentally fatigued runners neared the 34-hour cutoff, could break through to overwhelm the senses with its power. It might be a sound. That cracking noise in the woods — what was it? Or a sight — how immense the orange crescent moon seemed, rising as you headed down the trail alone with your headlamp and thoughts at 4 a.m. Or a taste — how something as simple as a sandwich could make you swoon when your body was screaming for calories.

The result, for a plodding midpack runner whose only hope was to finish, was not triumph but awe.

And a few humbling realizations: That the Bighorn Mountains could not be conquered by a mere human being on foot. That shoe-sucking mud and thigh-deep snow banks, and steep climbs that sometimes felt as if they would never end, were things that at best could be fought only to a draw, and even then only with luck. And that as tough as you think you are, there is always somebody tougher and faster, and that the course itself, in the end, would always be tougher still.

This year’s winner, Karl Meltzer, 41, of Sandy, Utah, broke the course record, in 19 hours 15 minutes 26 seconds. His run included an encounter with an annoyed moose in the middle of the night that he said forced him to dive into the woods and hide behind a tree. Meltzer also held the previous course record, 20:12:58, set in 2007.

By the standards of a road marathon or a 10-kilometer race, that is absurdly slow — about 5.2 miles per hour, even taking into account nocturnal moose entanglements. But one of the lessons of the Bighorn, to this first-time participant at least, was that going 5.2 miles per hour around the clock in this terrain might as well be the same thing as sprouting wings — unimaginable and beyond understanding.

Averaging such a pace (I mustered just under 3 m.p.h. in finishing at 32:25:14 and was left spent in every way I could think of) meant running very fast in the places where a person could run at all to compensate for the miles where the terrain was too steep, or the trail too rutted, rough and rocky to allow anything but hiking — or for participants like me, a slow grinding crawl. No one before this year had ever broken 20 hours.

Bighorn, like most long trail races, gives each runner autonomy on how the goal may best be accomplished. The trail was well marked, and the aid stations — four to six miles apart — were stocked with food and water. But there were no scheduled breaks, only the continual ticking of the 34-hour cut-off clock in the backdrop as a goading reminder that every pause came with a price. Seventy-two people, from all over the country and a few from Canada, got through in time.

But like so many pieces of the modern West, there was also a great backstory at the Bighorn 100 about the relationship of people and the landscape.

In the late 1980s, a hydroelectric project was proposed that would have flooded some areas near Dayton and torn up the canyons. A group of residents had the idea, unlikely as it sounds, of starting a wilderness foot race (initially 30K, 50K and 50-mile distances, only extending to the 100-mile in 2002) as a way of fighting back.

The notion was that by exposing more people to the valleys and passes of the Bighorn Range, environmental defenders might be sprouted who would fall in love and write letters opposing the project and the harm it would do to the Indian burial grounds and the elk caving ranges along the Dry Fork and Little Bighorn Rivers, where much of the course unfolds. “It was wild and scenic, and we wanted to keep it that way,” the race director, Michelle Maneval, said.

Whether runner enthusiasm played a role, the electricity plan was eventually shelved, Maneval said. By then, the race, begun in 1993, had taken on its own life. Always held around the summer solstice, it requires around 370 volunteers to pull off, including 120 on the search-and-rescue squad, with 600 runners competing in four distance events.

And it all ends in a park in downtown Dayton that feels like small-town summer Saturday night distilled to its essence of lawn chairs and barbecue smoke. By then, it is hard not to feel, if only from the mud you wear and the deep-tissue ache of long distance, that you are different from what you were before. And there is a bittersweet feeling to that. You have touched the boundary of something bigger than yourself, but also lost something too, in the certainty that a grilled cheese sandwich, in all likelihood, will never again taste so sweet.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bighorn 100 Report (100 mile try #2)

Well Ashley and I headed out to Northern WY this past weekend to give the 100 miler another shot. It was a learning experence that is for sure. One of these days I will get one.

Race Description
The Bighorn Trail 100 Mile Run is an arduous trail run that will take place in the Little Bighorn – Tongue River areas of the Bighorn National Forest. Starting time for the event will be 11 AM, Friday June 19, 2009, with a 34 hour (average pace of 2.94 mph) time limit to finish the event. Runners must be prepared for potential extreme temperature variation and weather conditions during the event with possible temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit in the day in the canyons and being well below freezing at night in the mountains. The course is wild and scenic traversing territory inhabited by elk, deer, moose, bears, cougars, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes with the potential for wildlife encounters with runners. Crew access points on parts of the course are limited and the runner should be prepared to participate with a fanny pack and other necessary equipment to ensure their ability to safely traverse difficult remote mountainous trails in potentially unpredictable weather conditions. The course is an out-and-back consisting of 76 miles of single track trail, 16 miles of rugged double track jeep trail, and 8 miles of gravel road with approximately 17,500 feet of climb and 18,000 feet of descent.


Hot during the day and cold/windy in the night. The sunset and sunrise were perfect.

Race Report
Well it was a lot of fun, Ashley and I learned a lot of lessons that we actually wrote down for future reference. Basically there was no reason that I should not have finished this race if I would have had planned the drop bag correctly and thought out the whole race a little better. It seemed like the whole weekend was one big rush and that attitude seemed to catch up with us.

We left Denver around 11am the day before the race after Ashley got off work which would put us in Sheridan around 5-5:30pm for the race check in, which closed at 7pm, lots of time. About 10 miles outside of Sheridan we drove through a huge rain storm that seemed to be heading towards town and our camp site. We decided to stop at the KOA and pitch the tent quickly before the rain hit and before heading into town for the race check-in. We got to the KOA about 5:30pm, pitched the tent and were at the race check-in before 6:30pm, lots of time with the exception that they were already closed!! Are you kidding me! The website said until 7pm. There were still people there to weigh me in and give me my race bib but the drop bag people were long gone. No drop bag, great. This seemed to set the tone for the whole 1st day. All we could do is go get some dinner, beer and rest up for the race the next day.

The next morning after having some breakfast with Ashley, Braden, and Joe (my pacer who showed up in the middle of the night) we headed to the race start about 9am for the pre race briefing, the only problem was there was no one there. Fuck! The briefing was in the park in Dayton at the finish line not up the canyon where the race started. That was my fault for miss reading the packet. When we realized the error and got to the park as the meeting was getting over and people were leaving to go to the start up the canyon. At this point I was so worked up on the way things were going I just got quite and kept my mouth shut before I said something that I would regret to someone. Ashley and Joe went to find the race director to tell her what had happened at the check in and see if we could get a drop bag up to the Footbridge. Of course I put it away since they did not take it last night, so when she said that she would it there but needed right away I had to rush to throw some gels, Snicker bars, and a long sleeve tech shirt in the bag. This was one of my mistakes that I will talk about later. Now let’s get to the start line and talk about the race itself.

I had the following plan laid out which I though was very doable for this 100. Basically it was averaging 4mph the 1st 48 miles and 3mph coming back.

Mile 30- 7 hours
Mile 48- 12 hours
Mile 66- 18 hours
Average 3mph to the finish which would be 30 hours.

I was doing great the 1st part of the race staying on what I had laid out as a race plan. That 1st climb from the start up to Horse Creek was a bitch. It was basically a 4000ft climb in about 7 miles. I would say that the steepness of this compares to some of the easier 14ers trails here in Colorado. It just climbs and climbs and climbs. Needless to say there was a lot of power hiking up this section. Since it is all single track you kind of get stuck in a train which helps me to control my pace and not push to hard. From the top of the climb to Dry Fork is a rolling section that I ran with a 59 year old guy from Canada named Karl Jensen. Karl ran his 1st 100 miler in 1993 then took off 6 years to build his house. In 1999 he ran his 2nd 100 miler and has completed over 35 of them since 1999. Amazing!! He basically told me to slow my roll and do not run any uphills what so ever. He ended up finishing less than 29 hours. Our little group of 3 also included Doug Blackford who is a retired house builder from N.C. I spent the next 10-15 miles almost to mile 30 running and swapping stories with Doug who ended up winning his age division of over 60 with a 31:52 finish. Maybe I should have just hung with him the entire race.

I came into Footbridge (mile 30) at 7:05 right on target which would be 6pm after the huge 2 mile/2500 foot downhill. It was warm and I was feeling good. I would not see my crew until the turn around at mile 48 so I told them I should be there around 12-13 hours (big climb heading out). I figured that since it was warm and it was only 9000ft high at the turn around that a long sleeve shirt should be enough to get me to the turn around, so that is all I had in my drop bag. I was wrong! By the time I came into a back country aid station called Elk Camp (a lot like Hope Pass station in Leadville 100) at mile 43, I was frozen from the wind and the dramatic temp drop that happened when the sun went down, moving very slow, shaking uncontrollably and I lost my stomach also during this stretch. I spent about 2 hours there warming up by the fire and lost lots of other time from moving so slow trying to get there. Finally a runner came through that had an extra wind breaker and let me have it. I put it on along with a shower cap to trap the heat from my head that they had at the aid station, and my I-Pod cranking Tool and hiked up to the turn around at the Ranger Station getting there at 16-16:30 during the race, way off my pace. After getting my warm clothes on, picking up my pacer I starting walking back trying to get my stomach back. I had only thrown up twice so far and was still peeing with clear high volume every couple of hours which is a good sign. That means that I am drinking correctly. Walking back I had a cup of mashed potatoes which every 5-10 mins I would take a spoonful and wash it down with a gulp of water. I did this all the way back to Elk Camp which is where I got stuck at earlier. At Elk Camp I ate a couple of Ginger Cookies, filled my bottle and camel back, and hit the trail with Joe.

About mile 55 as the sun was coming up I got my stomach back and was able to keep small amounts of food down. We started jogging all the downhills trying to make up the time I spent warming up and walking slow due to being frozen earlier but could not make up enough time. Joe did a great job of keeping me motivated and moving forward. I would hit high points where I felt great and we would jog, and low points where I was walking even the downhills. The last big downhill coming into the Footbridge aid station was a 4000ft drop in about 6 miles. I got wrecked on this section. I was not wearing my normal camel pack but a small backpack with a bladder in it, I needed something to put my muddy/wet night clothes in after the sun came up since my pacer was not allowed to carry or mule my stuff. Of course my dumb ass never trained with this pack so by the time I got to the Footbridge my back was trashed.

I came into Footbridge(mile 66) about 30mins before the cutoff of 11am and based on the speed was I going did not think that I had enough time (4ish hours) to make the next cut off/drop point (mile 83) so I dropped instead of trashing myself. It was a good effort in my mind.

I just have not been able to get this 100 mile thing figured out. I think that course was tougher than Leadville due to hills, mud (lots of shoe sucking mud), snow and the remote nature of the course. If you do not plan your drop bags right (which I did not) you can easy pay the price. I am in good enough shape; there is no doubt but I still struggling with the food/clothes/logistics of the whole thing.

Anyway today my legs feel mostly recovered already. I have very little soreness in the legs at all. My feet on the other had are trashed from all the water and mud. It is going to take 1-2 weeks for all the open wounds on my heels to heal up. I got blisters on my heels that we popped and duct taped during the race (1st time ever!). They ended up getting a little infected. Sunday night after getting home Ashley cleaned them up and found some more blisters under the blisters. We cut them all open and disinfected them all. Needless to say I was screaming like a little girl while she did this. Nice to have a medic girl to save the doctor office trips. I am having trouble walking on my feet still today but at least the legs feel good. This is the first time that I have ever gotten bad blisters in a race or on a run. I have gotten blisters before but never painful ones.

I want to thank Ashley/Braden for crewing me and putting up with all the hours I spent training. Joe for making the drive up there by himself to pace me, welcome to the world of 100s Joe! And Paul for helping me with my training plan, I am sorry that my poor planning caused a DNF after all the hard work we put in.

I am going to take this month off from structured training, still going to run when the feet heal up, and figure out what is next. I really want to keep building and try again this fall with maybe the Boulder 100 or a 50 miler or a marathon or two. Of course I need to knock out 5 or so 14ers this month also if I can so stay tuned for those trip reports.

If you have any ideas of some good races to look at I am all ears. I am thinking about the Steamboat 50, or Blue Sky 50k, or Boulder 100, or Pony Express 100. Also looking at the Tucson Marathon in Dec to go try to run fast for a Boston time. I will be down at HardRock 100 in a few weeks to pace JT on a 15 mile section.

Ashley and I are going to talk this all over as we are driving out to Iowa this weekend for my Grandma’s 90th birthday and figure out what is next. Let me know if you have any ideas.

Thanks for reading and here are some photos from the race. Hit the trails!