Monday, July 27, 2009

Scotts Peak

Saturday morning I decided to forgo a long run and sleep in. After the Speedgoat 50K last week, I felt pretty blah, and due to repeat sleep in sessions and crazy evenings, I only got out running twice. A great loop up Porter fork and down Bowman's and a lackluster 5 miles on the treadmill while watching Baby Einstein with my kids. I guess my body was telling me to rest, and I was happy to oblige.

Saturday we planned on going for a hike and in thinking of a place to head with the kids, decided to drive up Guardsmans Pass and then hike up Sleepy Hollow and Puke Hill to the Wasatch Crest. In my efforts to get out and run, I find myself forgetting to stop and enjoy all that the mountains and trails of the Wasatch have to offer. With three kids in tow, I was forced to slow down and enjoy it all, and there was so much to enjoy!

I'd never seen so many chipmunks on the trail before, and believe me, we stopped and chased every single one of them. I forgot how many sticks(light sabers and "shooters") a 5 and 2 year old can hold at one time, and how many rocks can fit in a pocket. And heaven forbid that one of the light sabers gets dropped! The flowers were as abundant and bright as ever and the air was cool and fresh. I also re-discovered that when the hill gets steep, saying that running up hills is good Jedi training is much more effective on 5 year olds than saying "we're almost there, just a few more steps", etc. After seeing that Sam was doing his Jedi training, Andrew even asked to get out of the backpack to train-for about 30 seconds.
Once on the crest, we downed a can of Pringles-the best chips ever made- and enjoyed the view. I couldn't help but think of the countless times I'd run through this section of the Crest trail, and all the fun I've had. As I was looking west towards Scotts Peak I thought forward about 6 weeks to the Wasatch 100. It sure would be nice to be able to run this section of the race while it is still light out, and enjoy the sights I saw on Saturday, but what is the chance of that? Not likely. The more realistic thought was, how much suffering will be going on at this point? How many people will be looking forward to the Scotts Peak aid station, or struggling just to make it there? Sometimes the thought of a warm cup of soup and an encouraging word or two is all that is needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and can stave off those thoughts of despair that are so prevelant during the night. Will I be suffering? Will that despair have hit me yet? Most likely.

Then I'll only have to think back to the Jedi training put in on a Saturday afternoon, pick up a stick or two and it's off to Brighton.

What a great day it was, and Scotts Peak, I'll see you in 6 weeks.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hardrock Pictures

The morning that Hardrock ended, Peter and I headed up the Ice Lake trail to Island Lake and Grant Swamp Pass. I thought I would share a little sample of San Juans.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Hardrock the easy way

Heading down to Silverton I always knew it was possible that I wouldn't get in, but definitely thought the odds were in my favor going the other way. After the race check in on Thursday I had moved up from #6 to #2 on the waitlist. Everybody showed up this year, go figure. But wait, there's still one last chance. On race morning everyone is required to sign in between 5 and 5:45am, should two people not show up for some reason (it's happened in the past) then I would be in. Friday morning I woke up and prepared as if I would be running 100 miles in the San Juans. Peter came with me to wait nervously in the gym, several people around us knew the situation I was in and kept their fingers crossed for me. I must have looked at my watch every 30 seconds in those twenty minutes that I sat there. Then at 5:45am the RD stood up on a chair and loudly called out two names, names of runners that had not checked in. I jumped up and tore my jacket off as everyone around me told me "this is it, you're in". Then two "absent-minded" runners remembered they had forgot to check in and no one got off the "list".

I was a little sad, but I had a not-so-bad backup plan, pacing Scott Jaime from Ouray to Tellride. Scott is a very accomplished ultra-runner and an old friend of mine, so I was honored that he would have me along on one of his goal races for the year. Scott ran a tremondous race completing the course in 27:47 putting him in 4th place, his race report covers all the details so I won't bother giving you the blow by blow. Nor will I share the experience I had getting over Virginius Pass, some things you just have to see or do to believe.

What I will say is that the Hardrock is simply unbelievable. The course, the competitors, and the entire support crew make it a truly special event. I'll be back, but I'm not so sure that I'll be going down if I'm still on the waitlist before the race, the mental rollercoaster is just to much. Thanks to my family for being so supportive, to Peter and his family for making the trip so enjoyable and thanks to the rest of the MRC for pushing me through all the training to get ready, that was the best part.

Finally congratulations to Karl Meltzer who set a new course record in 24:38 for the counter-clockwise direction, that was an incredible effort!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


A little less than a year ago I woke up from a dream startled and anxious. In the dream I was standing in Silverton, my neck craned back as I marveled at the mountains surrounding us. “We’re running to the top of that?” I said as I pointed up to high ridgeline. There was no reply even though I was standing near many other folks apparently at the start of a run. “Just go slow.” I turned to see Peter as he finished by telling me “you’re ready, you have nothing to worry about.” Then, suddenly I was moving, along with everyone else and that was it, the end of the dream. That morning of the dream I told the other guys about it as we headed off up the trail for one of our runs. “How can you have anxiety about something you’re not even entered in?” Greg remarked.

Now as I sit here two days away from the start, staring at the waitlist, the anxiety I’m feeling is 10x that which I was feeling a year ago. Back in January after the lottery I started at #33 on the list, gradually moving up until I was sitting in the top 20. Then about a week and a half ago I began a freefall every day moving closer to the top of the list until I stopped at 6. Now I wait until tomorrow afternoon and find out if I’m in or not.

We arrived this morning in Silverton and I can’t possibly describe the beauty of these mountains. My words would not do them justice. On the way out of Grand Junction this morning I could see a shadowy saw blade appear on the horizon as we drove south. I knew what I was looking at but the closer I got the more in awe I became. Driving up Red Pass my anxiety dissipated and I exclaimed to the rest of the car “I want to run, I want to get in”. I got part of my wish this afternoon when I ventured up the Ice Lake trail toward Grant Swamp Pass. Now I just hope the second part comes true…

Friday, July 3, 2009

Deseret Peak

Greg said it best when we were a few hundred feet from the summit, "Beat's working doesn't it?". "You know it I replied".
Located a mere 1 hour drive from SLC is a mountain oasis in the middle of the desert. Looking over the oasis is Deseret Peak standing at 11,031'. I'm sure many of you already know about the Deseret Peak Wilderness, for those of you that don't you're missing out, really. I was looking for some sustained altitude and this fit the bill perfectly, plus it can be done in a lollipop style loop.
The road is closed just below the Narrows so we had to park at the Medina Flats trailhead and run up the dirt road a couple of miles or so. Overall this added a little over 4 miles to the 13 mile roundtrip. Greg and I hit the dirt road a little before 7am and made our way to the normal trailhead and took the left hand Mill Fork trail. The trail reminded me of the section of Wasatch between Lamb's and Bear Ass pass, at least while we were below treeline. Greg pointed out the size of some the aspens, easily the largest I've ever seen. The trail is really pretty straight forward, steadily climbing out of the drainage to a saddle on the south side of the peak. The views kept getting better the higher we climbed and I found myself standin in awe more than once (hopefully this won't be to problematic at Hardrock).

Once we hit the saddle we had about another 1,000' feet to the summit, which didn't really seem possible when we were standing there but the peak was hidden behind the ridge right in front of us. I pushed the pace just a little bit to the summit just to see if I had any ill effects and I was happy that all systems were in order, no light headedness or headaches to speak of.
We finally topped out after 1hr 50mins and lingered on the summit for a good 10 minutes taking in the view to the west. Looking east all we could see was a cloud. The early morning heat created a good size cloud from the moisture in the forest below. Oh well, it was still pretty cool.

We left the peak heading north along the ridge, staying well above 10,000' feet for another 45 mins or so. After negotiating a little bit of snow and some slippery mud we found our descent and finally some incredible views to the east. Just after reaching the fork from earlier in the day we ran through a stream while some day hikers negotiated some skinny logs, looking a little perturbed at us. We held a steady pace all the way back to the car grinning from ear to ear, finishing in 3hrs 17mins with 4,630' of vert.