High in Colorado

High in Colorado
Photo: Mandy Lea Photo

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Bear 100: Taper, Race Day, and Recovery

Wow, looks like I got really behind. I'll post photos for the last month or so sometime this week I think...

Week in Review: October 20-26

Monday, October 20th

Tuesday, October 21st  

Wednesday, October 22nd  

Thursday, October 23rd
PM—2.8 Miles—1:16—1,600’—1st Spyronêtte  
After the 11 hour drive from Missouri I went directly to Chautauqua where I was suited up and on the trails in less than five minutes. My legs felt like hell after being crammed in the Taco for so long, but they eventually loosened up. This was a fun little race against the dwindling sunlight. I decided to head up the 1st Flatironette, The Spy, and the North Arête of the 1st Flatiron. I’ll be taking a page out of Cordis’ book and refer to this route as The 1st Spyronêtte in the future…

Friday, October 24th
AM—10 Miles—4:37—5,150’—1st Spyronêtte, Sunset Flatironette, Stairway to Heaven, The Regency, 2nd Flatiron
Just a fun day of scrambling whatever routes came to mind. I intended to shimmy up the 2nd after Sunset Flatironette, but some stomach problems led me to descend to the bathrooms where the Mesa Trail splits off from the access trails to the 3rd Flatiron and Royal Arch. Since I was already down at the Mesa Trail I decided to head to Skunk Canyon for an ascent of Stairway to Heaven. On my way back to the north I decided to sneak up The Regency real before heading back to the 2nd Flatiron for a quick lap up the Freeway. I was pretty dehydrated when it was all said and done…

Saturday, October 25th
AM—10.5 Miles—4:58—6,150’—1st  Spyronêtte, 2nd Flatiron (x4), 1st Flatiron
Another fun day of scrambling even though it ended up being really hot. The goal was to go for eight hours and see how much vert I could get, but the heat was enough to make me call it at five hours. I did get in a new route on the 1st—East Face North.

Sunday, October 26th
AM—2.8 Miles—1:18—1,600’—1st Flatironette and 1st Flatiron
Easy ascent on really tired legs. For some reason I decided to skimp on The Spy this morning. I had the pleasure of downclimbing to an audience of middle-aged ladies as they gasped and made confidence boosting comments like “I hope he doesn’t fall, I don’t want to see someone die this morning.” They must have been shouting because I can’t hear for shit and it sounded like they were right beside me.

Weekly Totals
Time—12 hours 10 minutes
Elevation Gain—14,500 feet

Week in Review: October 13-19

Monday, October 13th
AM—3 Miles—1:25—800’—Beaver Creek Ski Resort Hike
Easy hike with a friend.

PM—2 Miles—0:46—1,300’—2nd Flatiron
Easy trip up the Freeway.

Tuesday, October 14th
AM—4 Miles—2:36—2,050’—Lost Porch and Stairway to Heaven
David Ponak and I headed out from NCAR and got in a warm-up scramble on the Lost Porch. Then we headed up Skunk Canyon to see what Stairway to Heaven was all about. It ended up being a pretty sweet route. We had a rope and harness in tow in case the downclimb looked less than ideal. David rapped off and I downclimbed off the east face. The downclimb was a walk down for most of the way until the bottom 20-30 feet, which were pretty lichen covered.

Wednesday, October 15th
AM—3 Miles—2:22—2,600’—1st Spyronêtte, Sunset Flatironette, Jaws Bailout, and 2nd Flatiron
Fun morning of scrambling, with the notable exception of Jaws. That lichen covered bastard left me a little terrified after almost taking a ~50 feet slide down the face of the slab. I ended up bailing about three-quarters of the way across it.

PM—2.5 Miles—0:51—1,500’—3rd Flatiron Time Trial with Satan’s Minions
During my morning outing I got a text from Dave Mackey inviting me to join the Minions on their time trial tonight. The only hesitation I had was with the rapp off the summit since I’ve only rapped twice before in my life. I felt like a bit of a jackass for asking one of the guys on the summit to double check me before I began the rapp, but better safe than sorry. I didn’t have any gloves so I wrapped the rope around my leg and took the descent pretty slow to avoid rope burn. I was hoping to sneak in under 50 minutes, but I had to wait for a few minutes at the summit to get a rope to rapp on.

Thursday, October 16th  
PM—5.5 Miles—0:35—0’—Orrick Roads
Felt like stretching the legs out after driving 11 hours.

Friday, October 17th

Saturday, October 18th
AM—7 Miles—0:58—0’—Orrick Roads
Flat and boring. The usual…

Sunday, October 19th

Weekly Totals
Time—9 hours 35 minutes
Elevation Gain—8,250 feet

Week in Review: October 6-12

Monday, October 6th
AM—7 Miles—3:06—3,000’—Squaw Peak (Provo, UT)
Easy hike on tired legs. Awesome fall colors everywhere!

Tuesday, October 7th  
PM—4.5 Miles—1:14—900’—Hidden Valley (Moab, UT)
My legs are still pretty tired from the past two races. So, I just meandered around Hidden Valley as the sun faded away.

Wednesday, October 8th  
AM—7.5 Miles—2:23—2,700’—Haystack Mountain (11,651’), Point 11,264’, Point 11,614’, and Manns Peak (12,272’)
Fun day exploring around the La Sals. I’m hoping I can sneak in a linkup of all the 12,000+ feet peaks before snow rolls in this fall.

Thursday, October 9th

Friday, October 10th
AM—9 Miles—5:25—4,400’—Mount Elbert (14,433’)
I met a random guy from Iowa who was trying to get up Elbert as his first 14er. He looked lost and aimless in the limited visibility. So, I abandoned my goal of getting up-and-down in a timely manner to drag him to the summit and back. Really SLOW day…

Saturday, October 11th  
AM—16.5 Miles—3:43—3,600’—Peak Six (Breckenridge, CO)
A nice run with Mike Ambrose. We were both feeling a bit beat down so we took the pace pretty easy. I think we topped out on Peak 6 (or maybe Peak 7?) before doing an off-trail descent. We did a short loop from the trailhead to add on a few extra miles and I ended up seeing my first moose out in the wild.

Sunday, October 12th
AM—6.5 Miles—3:24—3,400’—Mount Victoria and Peak One Bailout (Frisco, CO)
I got together with Mike Ambrose and one of his friends with the intention of ascending Peak One. Once we gained the ridge we were hit with howling winds and blinding snow. The guys bailed since they didn’t have the clothing for pushing on. I decided to keep going and at least get Mount Victoria. I decided to bail after Victoria since I couldn’t really see anything. The footprints I had just made a few minutes prior were already gone.

Weekly Totals
Time—19 hours 17 minutes
Elevation Gain—18,000 feet

Week in Review: September 29 – October 5

Monday, September 29th 
AM—2 Miles—0:47—300’—Bonneville Shoreline Trail (Bountiful, UT)
Easy hike with Tim with maybe a half-mile of really easy jogging.

Tuesday, September 30th
OFF—Lounged on the couch and watched Netflix all day

Wednesday, October 1st
AM—5 Miles—2:03—1,500’—Holbrook Canyon (Bountiful, UT)
Mellow hike up canyon with Tim. Some easy running on the way back. My legs felt good enough that I’m debating signing up for TNF50 in Park City this weekend.

Thursday, October 2nd  
PM—3 Miles—0:38—1,000’—Lake Blanche Trail (Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT)
Really mellow run/hike on my way up to Park City.

Friday, October 3rd
OFF—Lazy day in Park City

Saturday, October 4th
AM—50 Miles—10:24—13,500’—TNF EC 50 Miler (Park City, UT)
My legs felt a lot better than I expected, but they were still pretty tired. I kept the effort mellow all day until the last twelve miles or so. Then I picked up the pace the last 4-5 miles. With a little under two miles to go I started running 5:30 pace or faster trying to catch the guy in front of me. I closed the gap considerably, but he still finished four seconds in front of me. I would have been reallllly happy to sneak in under ten hours, but it just wasn’t happening this soon after The Bear 100. I’ll likely return to this race next year since it’s a gorgeous course that’s nearly 100% runnable on fresh legs.

Sunday, October 5th
OFF—Drank beer and ate pizza

Weekly Totals
Time—13 hours 52 minutes
Elevation Gain—16,300 feet

Week in Review: September 22-28

Monday, September 22nd
AM—4 Miles—2:45—1,700’—Clayton Peak (10,721’) near Brighton, UT
An easy hike up and down with Adele from Guardsman Pass. It actually felt really nice to just go at an easy pace with good company. Looked like it was trying to rain all day, but we managed to stay dry.

PM—Climbing at Momentum Climbing Gym in SLC—I hadn’t climbed anything harder than 5.9 in a while. So, I was pleased to shimmy up some 10.d’s without much effort. I’ve definitely lost all climbing endurance I had back in June. It didn’t take long for me to be wiped out…

Tuesday, September 23rd
AM—10.5 Miles—2:02—2,000’—Pinebrook Peak
Easy shakeout run on some cruiser singletrack. Fall colors everywhere!

Wednesday, September 24th
OFF—Climbing in Rock Canyon near Provo, UT—Intended to climb the 5.9 PG-13 sport route Red Dwarf, but accidentally hopped between it and the nearby 5.8 trad route Leave It to Beaver. Oops…Climbing slabs in the dark is interesting to say the least.

Thursday, September 25th 
PM—2 Miles—0:15—300’—Roads near Bear Lake Condo
Easy shakeout run to celebrate finishing packing my drop bags.

Friday, September 26th
All Day—100 Miles—29:12—22,500’—The Bear 100 Mile Endurance Run
Well, my first stop on the 100 Mile DNF Redemption Tour was a success (sort of)! I dropped at mile 62 of The Bear last year. Quitting wasn’t really an option this year since I was determined to finally get a Hardrock qualifier.

The day started off unbelievably hot—almost 70 at the 6am start—and would top out somewhere in the mid-to-upper 80’s. After being in the Colorado High Country all summer these temperatures are just too hot for me.

Though the ultimate goal was to just finish, I did initially have hopes of sneaking in between 23-24 hours. Those hopes faded somewhere around 40 miles into the day. The heat took its toll on me and I just couldn’t eat much of anything. I was incredibly nauseous and on the verge of throwing up during most of the daylight hours. Simply thinking of food caused me to throw up a little on more than one occasion. Temple Fork aid station (around mile 45) had ice-cold lemonade, which sounded delicious. So, I filled both of my handhelds with it and took off down the road only to soon realize that every time I drank the lemonade I’d throw up. I ended up pushing on to Tony Grove (mile 52) without drinking or eating anything for about six miles. I was pretty wrecked upon arrival at Tony Grove…

When night finally fell I was hoping for a relief in the temperature, but it stayed fairly warm until after midnight. A long-sleeve Smartwool shirt with the sleeves rolled up and the front unzipped halfway was sufficient until it started to rain. I was actually looking forward to the storm rolling in since I wanted to finally be able to put on my rain jacket and leave it on for good. Yes, the rain did turn the trails/roads into a muddy mess, but I don’t think it was nearly as bad as people have made it out to be. I think the mud at the Black Hills 50 I ran earlier this summer was considerably worse. The mud also provided a couple of amusing shit show descents, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Maybe it’s because these descents perfectly coincided with moments in the race where my legs felt quite peppy? Regardless, I had a blast cruising down the mud, glissading here-and-there, falling several times, and basically just running like a little kid with a big smile on my face.

For some reason, I decided to go at this race alone—no crew, no pacers—but as Chris Gerber said, “No crew, no pacers, no problems.” A hundred miles is a long ways to cover, especially when you’re alone for 75% or more of it. Once the heat had its way with me the thought of quitting was in my head up to the point I reached Beaver Creek aid station at mile 85—about a 50 mile stretch where I didn’t want to go any longer. I was lucky enough to see familiar faces in all of the right places.

The generosity of others started before race day with my buddy Phil delivering a brand new pair of New Balance Leadville 1210’s to my hotel. Phil would be present at aid stations throughout the day and was always cheering me on.

I rolled into Right Hand Fork aid station (mile 37) when things were starting to fall apart and heard a voice yell my name. I was excited to see Darcy Piceu and she seemed equally excited to take on crewing duties for me. Darcy is not only one of the best ultrarunners around, but she’s also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. So, seeing her at RH Fork was much welcomed.

About fifteen miles later I rolled into Tony Grove (mile 52) ready to drop. The heat beat the hell out of me and I hadn’t drank/ate anything in several hours. To make things worse, I was charged by a goddamn cow during the descent to Tony Grove. Luckily, I saw Meghan Hicks (who had just finished Tour de Geants). She jumped into crewing for me and said everything I needed to hear to keep pushing onward rather than drop. When Bryon Powell rolled in she took care of crewing him, but my buddy Robbie Pike was right there to take care of me in her absence. I made a half-joking comment (well, actually I think I wasn’t serious at all when I made the comment) about needing a beer and Robbie was back in less than a minute with a beer in my hand. This guy is good. No, this guy is great. Hopefully I get into Hardrock next year and am lucky enough to fully utilize him as a crew and pacer.

Towards the end of the race I fell back from the familiar faces and went through a few aid stations without friends there to remove the thoughts of dropping from my head. Surprisingly, it became easier to convince myself to keep trudging along as the miles slowly crept by. I reached Beaver Creek Campground (Mile 85) in my most physically miserable state since earlier in the heat of the day. The skies opened a few miles before reaching the aid station. Though I had on my rain jacket, the rain began so abruptly that I wasn’t able to get on my rain pants soon enough. Since my jacket was on over my UD race vest that had my pants I decided to wait until the aid station to put on my pants. My legs ended up soaked and freezing, but it was better than having my entire body soaked and cold. I spent a considerable amount of time warming up and putting on more clothes at this aid station. Here, I met Erin Gibbs for the first time. She was staying in the same condo as me, but our paths hadn’t crossed yet. It was great to have her there with some words of encouragement.

When I finally left Beaver Creek CG I couldn’t really muster anything beyond the pace that’s just slightly faster than a death march. Near the top of the ascent I saw a few guys gaining on me. At the crest of the hill I began a painfully slow shuffle downhill to try holding them off. When they passed I realized it was Eric Lee and his runner, which motivated me a little more to see if my legs had anything left in them. I was able to pick up my cadence a bit and keep up with them. Eventually, I was able to turn my legs over even more and drop them on the way to Ranger Dip aid (mile 92).

While rolling into Ranger Dip I was greeted by Meghan again. We both had puzzled looks on our faces when we saw each other. I was wondering when I passed Bryon since he passed me at Tony Grove and she seemed surprised that I hadn’t dropped or wasn’t just death marching in to barely beat the cutoff. Meghan jogged into the aid station with me and was kind enough to crew me one more time. I shed my rain jacket and pants since I was starting to get hot, downed a couple of breakfast burritos, and chatted for a few minutes. Eventually, I headed up to tackle the last climb of the day—about a 600’ ascent over a half-mile, I think.

I could definitely smell the barn at this point and my legs seemed to sense the end being near. So, I proceeded to cruise up this short grunt of an ascent. Once I topped out I noticed two runners just below me and caught up to them rather quickly. The runners were Gerbster and Kari. I remember Kari making a comment that led me to believe her legs were rather shot.

Near the beginning of the long descent into Fish Haven the skies opened up again and it rained for the rest of the race. So, I could either tip-toe through the mud and prolong the misery of being cold and wet without rain gear or I could run hard and get the damn thing over. I chose to run hard (well, run as hard as I could 90+ miles into the day). This entire descent was a muddy shit show, which ended up being extremely enjoyable on my newly revived legs. I proceeded to glissade, zig-zag, and belly flop my way down the muddy trails/roads and even passed 3-4 other people in the process. Once I hit the dirt road leading into Fish Haven I tried running even harder to make sure no one would pass me in the final stretch. These two miles on the road seemed to drag on-and-on…

After 29 hours and 12 minutes I finally crossed the finish line. Not exactly what I set out to do, but I finished and got my Hardrock 100 qualifier…  

Saturday, September 27th
Still Running The Bear…

Sunday, September 28th
OFF—My legs were a little sore, but not too bad. Later in the day I had to fight the urge to run. Fortunately, it was raining and that discouraged me from putting on the shorts and shoes…

Weekly Totals
Time—34 hours 15 minutes
Elevation Gain—26,500 feet

Week in Review: September 15-21

Monday, September 15th
AM—3 Miles—2:06—2,400’—2nd Flatiron (x3)
My legs felt pretty shaky this morning. So, I decided to stick to the Freeway route for a few laps rather than commit to having to downclimb off the 3rd or anything like that. On my first lap, I saw a guy way to the right of the slab who said he was bailing since he didn’t know the route. I invited him to follow me and proceeded to show him the correct path. So, the first lap up was a bit slow, but enjoyable since I had company along the way. After parting ways with Sam I continued to do two more laps on the
Freeway—11:30 and 9:35.

Tuesday, September 16th
AM—5 Miles—2:08—3,200’—2nd Flatiron Time Trial, 1st Flatironette, 2nd Flatiron
I took off from Chautauqua with intentions of doing some sort of linkup; figuring I’d hit the 2nd first as a warmup. I wasn’t lacking energy, but for some reason my legs just felt really heavy this morning. As I neared the base of the 2nd I realized that I was going to PR my approach to the slab. I reached the base in 10:59 and ran straight onto the rock without hesitation. My scrambling felt pretty good the entire way and I eventually reached the walk-off in 20:36 (9:37 split). So, I decided to run back to the Chautauqua trailhead in an effort to beat my previous PR of 34:28. After 13:20 of descending I made it back to the trailhead with a roundtrip time of 33:57. I spent about ten minutes chugging water before heading back up to tag the 1st Flatironette and getting in another lap on the Freeway. I managed to shimmy up the Freeway in 8:41 this time (another new PR). I’m pretty optimistic that I’ll be able to shave off some more time on some of these routes as soon as temperatures begin to drop.

Wednesday, September 17th
PM—4 Miles—1:14—2,400’—Green Mountain
A nice late afternoon trip up Green with Jeff. I always enjoy joining JV for a run because it’s almost always a guarantee that we’ll ascend/descend via some non-standard route. Today we ascended via the social trail behind the 3rd and descended some trails around the NE Ridge before coming out behind the 1st and following the main access trail back to the parking lot. I’ve descended this route with Jeff before and love it—short, steep, and direct.

Thursday, September 18th 
AM—4 Miles—2:44—2,900’—1st Flatironette, The Spy, 1st Flatiron, 2nd Flatiron, and 3rd Flatiron
This was a fun morning out on the slabs. I started out by tackling the 400-foot South Ridge of the 1st Flatironette. I hopped off the summit, descended a little ways, and found a short climb up to the East Ridge of The Spy. Joining The Spy from this point makes for a short scramble (maybe 200 feet?), but it’s a fun, exposed scramble to the top. The ridge keeps narrowing as you ascend and eventually you’re confronted with a rather steep bulge with thin holds. After hopping off the summit I hiked up a few hundred feet to the notch that provides access to the 1st Flatiron’s North Arete route and proceeded to follow the Arete to the summit. This is a fun, aesthetic little route that puts you in a few spectacular positions. It’s short and sweet. From the summit I was faced with doing the downclimb solo for my first time. I’ve only done the downclimb twice and both times were with someone who knows the route rather well. To me, it’s a pretty straightforward downclimb until you get to the last 10-20 feet where you have to pick your line back to solid ground. I spent a few minutes figuring out this line before committing to any moves. This was an enjoyable (though, round-a-bout) way of reaching the 1st Flatiron’s summit. I’m still hesitant to try the East Face Direct route on the 1st by myself since it has a few twists and turns in it. The route already goes at 5.6, which makes me think that the climbing could potentially get quite harder if I ventured too far off route. Once back on the ground I descended the access trail and got in a quick trip up the 2nd Flatiron’s Freeway route. This time I descended to the East Bench of the 3rd. The classic Standard East Face route on the 3rd seemed like a great way to end the day. I was beginning to feel pretty dehydrated and thirsty, but figured I could sneak this one in somewhat quickly. I passed 3-4 roped parties en route to the summit and chatted with them for a few minutes here-and-there. After 20’ish minutes I was sitting on the summit soaking up the sun and views. My last major task of the day was getting down the SW Chimney route. This would only be my third time doing this downclimb. I definitely still have a lot of figuring out to do on this one. Its crux is noticeably harder and more exposed than that of the 1st. The past two times I’ve spent probably fifteen minutes or so standing at the top of the chimney trying to figure out how to get past the chockstone and down into the first two moves or so. Once past this, the rest of the downclimb is quite easy. I’ll get it figured out eventually...

Friday, September 19th
PM—3 Miles—1:38—2,100’—1st Flatironette, The Spy, 1st Flatiron, 2nd Flatiron
Same outing as yesterday minus the 3rd Flatiron. Yesterday, I had the North Arete of the 1st all to myself. Today, I had to dodge three roped parties and wait on one of them for 5-10 minutes to get up the 5.4 crux section of the route. I was in a nice flat area that allowed me to sit down and take in the views while waiting. So, it wasn’t a bad place to linger around for a few minutes. I’ve noticed over the past two days that the rubber on my re-soled shoes is starting to lose its stickiness. The dots on the forefoot are completely worn down and the rubber is actually starting to rub off and leave black crap all over my hands when I touch it. It might be close to time to retire this pair?

Saturday, September 20th
PM—3 Miles—2:12—2,200’—1st Flatironette, The Spy, 1st Flatiron, Pullman Car, 2nd Flatiron
Fun last minute outing with Cordis. I had a few friends from New Mexico in town so I had spent the better part of the day drinking beer. This was my first time scrambling in the Flatirons while slightly inebriated, but it was quite enjoyable. A little liquid courage never hurts. Now, I think I understand why all of the pioneer climbers in Yosemite, Eldo, etc. were all tripping on acid during their climbs…

Sunday, September 21st
OFF—Driving to Park City, Utah

Weekly Totals
Time—12 hours 06 minutes
Elevation Gain—15,200 feet