Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Monday, July 12, 2010

Hardrock 100 - 31.17 11th place

Simply put - I went big and crashed hard. Why not? I have always admired and respected how some of the top runners in this sport will go for broke every time, willing to lay it on the line, and take the chance of blowing up. I have never really done that but always wanted to know what would happen. I figured since I was approaching my ceiling time at HR, it was gonna take a effort like I've never given before. So here it is, my tale of two races:

First Half

No doubt I was going into HR with a lot of confidence, not arrogance, but confidence that was inwardly expressed. And maybe my lack of confidence in the past has prevented me from doing something really special here. I had Karl's splits from 06 in my head and really thought I could lay down a time in the range of 26 and 1/2.

Karl 06 Scott 10
KT 2.45 2.25 -20
Chapman 1.39 1.33 -6
Telluride 2.17 2.10 -7
Virginius 2.05 1.58 -7
Governor 0.31 0.31 0
Ouray 1.13 1.08 -5
Engineer 2.33 3.23 50
Grouse 1.28 2.03 31
Sherman 3.42 4.26 42
Pole Creek 2.44 3.11 27
Maggie 1.19 1.26 5
Cunningham 1.54 2.05 11
Silverton 2.29 2.23 -6
Karl Meltzer of Sandy, Utah, left, and Scott Jaime of Highlands Ranch cross Mineral Creek Friday, July 9, 2010, as the early front runners during the 2010 Hardrock 100 endurance run through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Karl and I in the beginning

Start to KT - 2.25

Right off the start line on the streets of Silverton, people went the wrong way... I went the right way but no one followed. Wonder why? Finally Roch Horton followed and everyone else came along. Pretty funny at the start of the race! Across the river and up the first climb I was in the lead - alone. Where was everyone?? I could not believe how good I felt - running without a chain for sure. Not breathing hard and really, really trying to slow up. By the time I got to KT I was 5 minutes up on Jared and another 5 on a small chase pack. This was the point I realized I could really lay down a stellar time.

Scott Jaime of Highlands Ranch takes the early lead after the first aid station and about 12 miles Friday, July 9, 2010, during the 2010 Hardrock 100 endurance run through the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.  (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)
Coming up Kamm Traverse

KT to Chapman - 1.33
Now onto Grant-Swamp and down to Chapman. Nothing really special happened during this section other than my legs were really strong up and my mind was focused going down. My concentration was almost clairvoyant - seeing rocks and obstacles before they appeared - very dialed in. As I crested Grant-Swamp I looked back and saw a runner just started the last pitch up Grant-Swamp, didn't know it then but it was Nick Pedatella, who was climbing exceptionally well. Into Chapman where my friends from South Mineral CG (Beth, Rodney, Jim, and Kathy) were volunteering at the Hawaiian themed aid station. It was such a boost to see them all there and gave me some extra motivation to get up Oscar's pass.

Chapman to Telluride - 2.10
I think the climb up (3100ft) Oscar's pass is one of the toughest going this direction; it's relentless and usually very hot. Getting there early this year really helped with the heat so it didn't seem as bad although I was pretty worked when I got to the top. At the top I looked back to see Nick about the same distance back as the previous pass - we both were still climbing good. Now the long down into Telluride. I was really looking forward to this because it's not steep but it's a good 6 myles of down on a fairly decent trail. About a mile out of Telluride people had hiked up and started cheering, another little boost. Saw Nick C and Ryan B who would be pacing Nick later on. My spirits were good. My energy was steady. All systems go for the next brutal climb up to Virginius (4000+ft). I had covered the first 28 myles in 6 hours, only a quarter of the way done but feeling extremely confident.

Telluride to Virginius - 1.58
Up to this point I have been eating good with a variety of solids; pumpkin pie, watermelon, and cookies. In between aid stations I had a steady flow of EFS liquid shot which settled in my stomach and gave a steady stream of energy. The first rain of the day came about an hour up - light and refreshing. Last time going this direction I had bonked (mildly) 1/2 way up so that thought was looming in my brain. This time my legs started to get heavy just short of the top, at about which time I heard Dakota Jones hootin and hollerin going the opposite direction. I was low when I saw him but knew part of it was the altitude.... or was it?? Finally up to Virginius and my first splash of Coke. Thought maybe that would get the climb out of my legs and propel me to Ouray.

Virginius to Engineer - 0.31 : Engineer to Ouray - 1.08
I'll combine these two sections because nothing exciting happened on the way down to Ouray. The Coke (and the down) seemed to help as I felt another solid stream of energy. From one of the highest points to the lowest point on the course in a matter of 11 myles can really trash your legs if you don't watch it so I took it very easy, deliberately. Sure I was tired running down that nasty, dusty Bird Camp road but 44 myles into HR hell yah you're gonna be tired. I rolled into Ouray with a very solid split. I was still in the lead by about 10 minutes but had no idea who was behind me. In Ouray my father in law commented how well I was eating and that I needed to continue so I took some pumpkin pie, watermelon, and a bean and rice burrito with me. Up to this point I had taken less than 5 minutes in all the aid stations, which was huge for me because I usually take about 10 minutes (alone) in Ouray. It was kind of strange but I felt no pressure all day leading the race, I was confident. But once in Ouray I sensed a momentum swing. I don't know if bonking got into my head or if I started doubting if I could hold on - not sure. But I felt a looming darkness getting up Engineer even before it started.

Second Half

Ouray to Engineer - 3.23
Shortly after leaving Ouray in the ice park my race came crashing down! Without a fricking warning, like a light switch came on, I threw up everything I had just eaten. I didn't even have time to get nauseous - it came out like a volcano! That's not normal for me. I continued on at what I thought was a solid pace up hill until Diana Finkel came out of nowhere and scared the shit out of me. It was kind of comical because she commented on how well I looked.... Did she know? Did she see me hunched over? At any rate, I tried to keep pace but as suddenly as my vomitus erruptus came on, the energy was zapped from my legs. AND then came the nausea AND THEN came the dizzy spells and then she was gone... Within 10 minutes as I sat on rocks spaced 10 meters apart, Nick P, John A, and Jared C all passed me. At this point with a 4500ft climb and my inability to stand straight up I knew it was gonna be a loooong slog up to Engineer. "I have been here before" I thought to myself. I knew if I just waited it out, got some fluids and calories in, it would pass. In fact, last time we went this direction I had a bonk in this very section. And that was my solice, to know there would be an end. I took care of myself but nothing was turning around, I was now unable to hear, as if there was water in my ears. Kinda weird but scared me a bit. Along the way Karl comes up on me while I'm sitting on the side of the hill - we sat together and looked at each other shaking our heads. Nothing really to say except "it is what it is". He clearly was not having the day he had hoped and commented that he was just not feeling it all day. Tough to be out there at Hardrock feeling that way. Finally! Up to Engineer aid station and the Coke was a God send. I lapped it up and sat for about 10 minutes. I had lost an hour already and things were not looking very good at all. I was only 52 myles into a 100 mile race and I was curled up in fetal position. I thought "if I don't come out of this soon, I'm gonna have to call it quits at Grouse".

Engineer to Grouse - 2.03
Leaving Engineer I heard over the radio that Glenn Mackie, Michael Foote, and Darcy Africa were heading in. I was losing time very fast and could not do anything about it. By the time I climbed the next 1200 ft to Engineer pass, Glenn had caught me, with Michael and Darcy getting past me down Engineer road. The sad part about this is I left Ouray without a light... I mean, c'mon it's 3.50 in the afternoon and I only have to go 13 myles and 4500ft before dark?? Easy. Nope! I made it to within 1 mile of Grouse before it was completely dark - 9:30 PM. It took me nearly 5 and 1/2 hours, losing two hours. My father in law finally met me up the road with my light and walked me in. I had made up my mind that this was too much to handle, I was gonna call it quits. While struggling to get into Grouse, my thoughts shifted to my crew because I knew they would be worried about me. What I didn't expect was to see my 11 year old son so emotional when I finally came in. He was so upset because he thought something happened to me, it broke my heart. But what put me over the top and changed the way I was thinking is what he said next while sobbing. Jaxon, while wiping away his tears, said "Dad you can't quit! You are truly an inspiration to me. Not very many people get a chance to do this race so you have to finish." That is verbatim! I will never forget it and neither will my wife, Dave Horton, or anyone else standing around that heard it. I sat in the chair at Grouse trying to eat, drink, and stay warm, constantly being pestered with "c'mon eat a little... drink a little... one more sip..." After 45 minutes of that I elected to go lay down in the warming tent right next to Karl. Dave and my wife told me to sleep for 45 minutes and they would be back... I didn't sleep but the longer I stayed there the closer I inched to calling it quits. I was still in bad shape but kept replaying Jaxon's comment in my mind. One more round of "c'mon eat a little.... drink a little.... one more sip..." and then I was up being re-clothed. Everything I didn't eat, Dave Horton would scarf up - pretty funny. Finally one and 1/2 hours later I was on my way with Rick Hessek to tackle Handies.

Grouse to Sherman - 4.26
As I started the climb up to Handies my legs were surprisingly springy. I thought maybe from the adrenaline so I wanted to get to Sherman as quickly as possible to re-fuel. Rick and I made it up Handies in 2 hours 10 minutes - pretty fast. It was cold up there so we made our way down quickly and then the long slog down the dirt road to Sherman. Sherman is always one of the best aid stations because of the variety of food so I was looking forward to the breakfast burritos. 3:30 in the morning we pulled into Sherman, feeling better, and a sense of relief that I no longer had an agenda for time. I could care less if we were passed. I could care less if we passed anyone. I was gonna enjoy the rest of the experience of Hardrock. Krissy and Catherine were at Sherman as they just crewed Roch through. They were so helpful just talking and getting whatever I wanted - thank you ladies. I told them how I was inspired to get out of Grouse and Krissy nearly cried herself.

Sherman to Pole Creek - 3.11
A 1/2 an hour in Sherman was enough so Rick and I were off with a new spring in our step. It's a tough climb up to Cataract lake and tricky to stay on the trail sometimes so we were alert all the way up. At the top, the day finally broke and I was a new person. We had been running/walking with Tom Remkes and Brett Gosney - kind of cool. Not that we were talking a lot but it was nice to have company and share the experience. We all got into Pole Creek about the same time, spent about 10 minutes and then off to Maggie. Brett and I were going for our 5th finish so we really wanted to get to the rock to avoid the lottery for many years to come.

Pole Creek to Maggie - 1.26
Not much really happening in this section but it did bring new life. This section traverses the old Colorado Trail so I was eager to point out spots to Rick that I had been on the previous September, pretty special place. All the way to Maggie we doe-si-doed with Brett and Tom. My normal doe-si-doe partner, Jared Campbell, was out there winning a race so he was unavailable. Congrats Jared! A fine champion you are!

Maggie to Cunningham - 2.05
Ahh. Another aid station, another rest, and another Coke. This time I had two pieces of coffee cake that settled good in my stomach. I felt I was finally back with the true test on the legs to come on the final 3 climbs. Rather than linger anymore, I now wanted to get this thing over with, see my family, and go watch a World Cup final. I blasted up the hill with Rick in tow. He commented on how well I was climbing and by the looks of how much distance I had put on the others I felt a little momentum. Just before Cunningham we spotted a runner but couldn't tell who, we tried to reel him in but apparently he was going at his own great pace. So into Cunningham we go with the entire crew cheering us in. From the dark depths of hell the night before to cheering, hootin and a hollerin in the new day - an amazing feeling!

Cunningham to Finish - 2.23
Now I felt on fire just like a habanero chili. For some reason I got it in my head that I wanted to have the fastest split of the day from Cunningham in. I pushed with everything I had with Jaxon's comment still echoing in ears. We reeled in John Anderson and Glenn Mackie who were battling their own down spots. And then up ahead I could see two more.... but I couldn't get them before the top of Little Dives. I have never been up that last climb so fast but I wanted to get it done - 56 minutes to be exact! Don't know if I had the fastest split in but I finally was feeling fast again. It only took 15 hours to come around but part of that was seeing Silverton and my family.

Walking to the Rock with the boys and Dale
photo courtesy of Catherine Mataisz

I will never forget Hardrock 2010 - never! Not only for my son picking me up and being such an inspiration, but my whole crew/family for believing in me. It was crushing to have such a colossal collapse but at the same time it taught me a lot about who I am and what I'm all about. Even though I didn't achieve my goal of setting a new PR, this finish was the most rewarding out of the 5 so far. I believe every time we toe that line we are attempting to create a better version of ourself in the process - I think I succeeded here.

I want to thank all those who played a part in this journey, primarily my wife who puts up with me for 8 months out of the year! My parents who travel around to see almost every race. My In Laws who put up with me and still go out of there way to accomadate. To the Darnold's (and fam) who also travel around to see my races and welcome us home to South Mineral CG every year.

So now starts the long year long process of how best to train for HR 2011. I will be back (even though I said would take a year off) and will be looking to make a better version of myself.
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