Photo courtesy of Andrew King - D4 Productions

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Achieving Balance: The Colorado Trail

When I approached Matt Trappe about documenting my Colorado Trail journey, I had no idea it would turn into a full length film.  I simply wanted a keepsake that I could look back on to share with my kids and grandkids.   But Matt, being the artist he is, saw much more.

This is the first of two teasers that will be released prior to the completed film.  I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Colorado Trail Adventure

And so it begins.... again.
Now that the haze has lifted from Hardrock, I can concentrate on the Colorado Trail.  Many paralyzing thoughts enter my mind: will I be recovered from Hardrock....  are all the logistics in place...  and a bunch of "what if" scenarios...  I'm already nervous 3 weeks out, kinda like the first time I ran Hardrock.  I know what the Colorado Trail has in store for me and it has pain written all over it.  My sensible side says "then why do it again?"  Good question.  Why do we do anything that's adventurous?  My answer is to see what I'm capable of doing.  Lewis and Clark pushed their expedition to the limits, some paid with their lives while others succeeded in opening up the new frontier.

The book that inspired
My family supports me 100%
Brian Fisher at the start
It's as simple as that - pushing one's limits.  I want to see if I can complete the Colorado Trail faster than anyone has ever done it.  The trail has been done hundreds, maybe even a thousand times before, but I'd like to put something out there for others to test their limits against.  Last time I completed the Colorado Trail in 11 days, 12 hours, and 46 minutes in 2009.  I wasn't going for any speed records, just to finish on my 40th birthday.  That was an average of 43 myles per day.  This time I'm asking my body and mind to average just over 60 myles per day, both aggressive and daunting.

Rick Hessek on day 2
Ultra Fan Bill Dooper in Leadville
My Parents on day 5

Last time I had severe shin splints starting on day 7 and agonized through them for the better part of 5 days.  Wrapping my shins and icing everyday and even walking backwards downhill just to keep moving forward.  To make matters worse, I also slurped down some Giardia lamblia on day 9.  Thank goodness it takes 7 days to incubate otherwise I would have never finished.  Once I was home though, I could not eat or drink anything for a week because it came out just as fast.  I lost another 9 lbs after I got home to the already 10 I lost on the trail.  I was emaciated.

Now you see why it's easy for me to be nervous.  It's the hardest thing I've ever done in my life and I'm going to do it again.  I have many people supporting me, many of the same people as last time, and I cannot thank them enough. My trustworthy crew to meet me at critical trail junctions and know exactly what I need at a moments notice is the difference between success and failure.  The CT is a known factor to us but things happen out there and my crew knows what to do.  This time, however, I am going from Durango to Denver so it throws a little curve ball into the mix but not much.  We are ready.

Harsha on day 6
The Darnold's at Molas Pass
Paul Dewitt at the end of day 10
Here is my schedule:

Day Segment Mileage Time (hrs) TOD Pacer Matt Trappe
Friday, August 16 Day 1 Junction Creek - 28 0 5:00 AM Bike
Crew Kennebec TH - 27 21.5 5 10:00 AM Bike
Crew Hotel Draw Rd - 26 42.1 11 4:00 PM Brendan
Finish Molas Pass - 25 73.9 19 12:00 AM Brendan
Saturday, August 17 Day 2 Molas Pass - 24 5:00 AM Brandon S.
Crew Carson Saddle - 23 35.7 9 2:00 PM Rick H. Run
Finish Spring Creek pass - 22 52.8 14 7:00 PM Run
Total 126.7
Sunday, August 18 Day 3 Spring Creek Pass - 21 5:00 AM Brandon S.
Crew Eddieville TH - 20 27.5 7 Noon Rick H.
Finish Colorado Hwy 114 - 18 55 14 7:00 PM
Total 181.7
Monday, August 19 Day 4 Colorado Hwy 114 -  17 5:00 AM Rick H. Bike
Crew Marshall Pass - 16 35.6 9 2:00 PM Rick H. Bike
Finish US 50 - 15 49.8 13 6:00 PM Bike
Total 231.5
Tuesday, August 20 Day 5 US 50 - 14 5:00 AM Bryon Bike
Crew Chalk Creek - 13 20.9 5.5 10:30 AM Meghan
Crew N. Cottonwood crk -12  43.7 12 5:00 PM
Finish Clear Creek rd. - 12 62.2 16 9:00 PM
Total 293.7
Wednesday, August 21 Day 6 Clear Creek rd. - 11 5:00 AM Harsha
Crew Half Moon creek - 10 21.5 6 11:00 AM Harsha
Crew Timberline Lake - 9 34.5 9 2:00 PM Harsha
Finish Tennessee Pass - 9 48.1 13 6:00 PM Harsha
Total 341.8
Thursday, August 22 Day 7 Tennessee Pass - 8 5:00 AM Run
Crew Copper Mtn - 7 25.4 7 Noon Run
Crew Gold Hill - 6 38.2 11 4:00 PM Bike
Crew Middle Fork Swan River - 6 54 15 8:00 PM Nick P. Bike
Finish Kenosha Pass - 6 71.1 20 1:00 AM
Total 412.9
Friday, August 23 Day 8 Kenosha Pass - 5

5:00 AM
Crew Wellington Lake rd. - 4 31 9 2:00 PM Rick H.
Crew FS - 550 Buffalo Crk - 3 43.7 12 5:00 PM Rick H. Bike
Finish Waterton Canyon 72 21 2:00 AM Bike
Total 484.9 7d 21h

As you can see this is very aggressive and no way will it pan out exactly like I planned.  The current FKT (Fastest Known Time) is 8 days, 12 hours, 14 minutes, 5 seconds set by Paul Pomeroy.  It's a very tight record but hopefully I've built enough wiggle room in there to get under the FKT

My family on day 11
Jaxon at Blackhawk pass on day 11
My crew chief  Rick Robinson at the end
My ever loving wife Nicole Jaime at the end
Matt Trappe is doing a documentary on my journey.  We've been filming for the past couple of months and it's kept my mind focused on the task at hand.  This documentary really isn't about breaking the record but more about a normal family man with a full time job and a sense of adventure.  When you see the film the question will be answered of what drives me to seek out adventures and how it makes me a better husband, father, son, and co-worker.  In the end, I hope to inspire people to push their own limits and seek out new found adventures to lead a happy and healthy life.

The end September 13th, 2009

My wife will take control of my Twitter account (@Mexifast) and also update my Facebook page. Follow along and if you're in the area, I'd love to see you out there at some point.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hardrock 100 - 3rd 26.38

Hardrock 2013 is in the books and I’m happy to report I kissed the rock for the 7th time with a PR, nonetheless.  I always tell people that I am continually chasing my ghost and this time gray haired Jaime finally passed him. 

I am blown away with the support I receive at Hardrock every year from my family, friends, and newly found friends.  My wife somehow understands how important Hardrock is to me and since we’ve been doing it for the past decade off and on, my family embraces Silverton as their hometown.  Thank you Nicole for supporting me for so many years.  And thank you to my parents, in-laws, and Darnolds who love this race just as much as I do.  I could not do this without your support. 

So here it goes, grab a beer and settle in for a journey through the San Juans:

This year we arrived in Silverton on June 25th, which is a little less time than last year but enough time to be considered a resident.  I organized a SoftRock event two weeks prior to Hardrock.  SoftRock is basically running the course over 3 days and I was accompanied by the HUMR group from Utah and a few fellow Coloradans.  The weekend was a lot of fun, especially for me because I had the opportunity to show 15 people around the Hardrock course.  For so many years, they have been hearing stories of how beautiful and tough the course is and now they get to experience it first hand.  I questioned whether I was doing too much too close to Hardrock but decided if I just took my time it would be time on my feet, especially with the Colorado Trail coming up.  We ended up traversing the course in 36 hours and my body felt great.  

Soft Rock crew in Silverton.  photo Molly Trappe

The next couple of weeks leading up to the race would be easy runs, spread out with a bunch of rest.  By the time raceday came I was feeling fresh, acclimatized and as fit as I've ever been. 

Silverton to Sherman (0 - 29 miles)
No nerves to start, just anxious to get running.  Leaving town I quickly settled in with Chris Price and for the moment Josh Maiz and Karl Meltzer.  Joe Grant and Sebastian Chaigneau were already off the front by mile 3 and Troy Howard was in hot pursuit.  I was telling Chris that we would be good if we got to Cunningham in 2.05 to 2.10.  As easy as I was running we got there in 1.57 – yikes.  I often make the mistake of going out too fast and I felt like I did it again.  I didn’t wear a watch so my crew told me I was “ok, just settle in".  I left Cunningham with Troy and felt even better climbing the next hill to Green Mountain.  I was well within myself and really enjoying being alone at this point. 

Just to so show you how small we are.  Look in the bottom right corner, that's me running.  photo Matt Trappe

I pulled into Maggies Gulch at 9:33, which is still cooking, so I made a concerted effort to slow it down and eat.  The next section leading into Pole Creek is relatively flat with easy running but it’s at 11,000 ft so runners can really blow it out here if they don’t watch it.  It took me 49 minutes to get to Pole creek and Troy was hot on my heels.  I didn’t stop at Pole Creek because I knew I'd be walking parts to get to the top of Cataract Gulch.  I didn’t realize in the moment, but I was working too hard to keep Troy behind me for most of the way up.  Finally I pulled over to eat and let him go by, he was running really strong and knew I was digging a hole to be running everything with him.  The lesson here: Run. Your. Own. Race!  You can get caught up within the race and not even know it.  From the top of Cataract Gulch down to Sherman was pretty uneventful, I just soaked in the views and ran methodically to the aid station.  I got there at 12:07 which marks my fastest time to Sherman and –by far- feeling the best I had to that point. 

Sherman to Ouray (29 - 57 miles)

Now the work begins, but not racing yet.  I picked up my sticks for the foray over Handies and found myself running large portions up Burrows Park road – that’s never happened before…  I was hell bent on hiking strong over Handies and feeling good coming out the other side.  I followed Troy up Handies step for step but once we hit the top he was gone.  I ate and drank a bunch in this section because I was walking a razors edge at this point.  I just needed for the fuel to kick in before I started pushing again. 

Coming into Grouse with a smile on my face.  photo Dom Grossman for iRunfar

In and out of Grouse Gulch was a good sign.  I usually feel the wheels start to come off at this point.  I picked up Rick Hessek, who would take me to Ouray.  Not much talking going on up Engineer road because I was still teetering.  Anytime I got low on energy I started nipping at my EFS liquid shot flask and I could feel the life spring back into my legs.  I ran real well all the way down to Ouray so I was really surprised to see Diana on my heels.  I had arrived at the front end of my splits (6:55 PM), still in good spirits, and now picking up my second pacer.

Crew chasing me into Grouse

Running down Bear Creek with Rick Hessek.  photo iRunfar
Ouray to Chapman (57 - 82 miles)
Nick Pedatella has the honor of slogging up Camp Bird road with me.  I dread it but at least it was cool, slightly misting, and not many cars.  Nick didn't give me an option to eat and drink, he said "you will be done with that chicken broth and rice bar by the time we get to Governors"  I did it and we also got to Governors without turning on our headlamps.  At this point, I'm starting to think about my finish time.  I know I'm running a good smart race and with the help of my pacers I'm feeling good.  Once up at Kroger's the first thing I ask for is a beer.  They thought I was kidding at Governor but this time Roch Horton came through with an Odoul's.  Two shots of that stuff and I flew down to Telluride.  I don't know what it is about beer but it's refreshing and it makes me happy.  I had one at Jemez this year but only because I got lost (with Pedatella) and my race was over.  Another lesson here:  Beer calms your stomach down and makes you happy.  

That's right folks - beer!  At Krogers.  photo Roch Horton

Into Telluride still on the front end of my splits and now the racing begins.  I dropped Pedatella off and picked up Brendan Trimboli.  He did a quick assessment of what I'd been eating and how I felt - key if you want to be a good pacer.  I felt a little twinge in my left quad right on the vastus medialis or sartorius muscle.  Only hurt if I was going down a steep downhill, like the one coming up off of Oscars.  I did my best to put the brunt on my right quad slowing me down quite a bit on the downs.  Chris Price was still lurking behind me and Dominic Grossman did his best to let me know by hooting and hollering and stall tactics (Kenny Loggins Footloose dance).  We saw their lights just as we left the lower basin of the Wasatch saddle, I predicted about 20 minutes.  I didn't put too much thought into what was behind me, I was now racing so I was always looking forward to get a time gap to Diana.  

Once into Chapman my crew (Beth Blankenship and Jim Darnold) had told us Diana was only 12 minutes up.  I stayed a few minutes sucking down EFS grape drink and an Ensure but started to catch a chill so we began hunting again.  

Chapman to Silverton (82 - 101 miles)
I was still climbing strong despite the bum quad.  I had told Brendan to string me out a bit and see if I could hang on.  So in other words, he kept me honest.  We saw Diana and Ben's lights up ahead coming back to us ever so slightly.  I didn't believe it but Diana was going through a rough patch right before Grant-Swamp and she eventually had to stop at KT only a few miles away.  Really sad to see her stop but with her recent episodes of health issues at Hardrock, I don't blame her.  

One of the first things I told Brendan when he picked me up was that I wanted to be at KT in the dark at 5:30 AM.  Seemed like a stretch but we pulled into KT right on the money!  My crew was there but they were cheering for Diana (I guess Brendan had the same color of shirt on) and then they finally saw me and erupted.  I love that feeling after a long night!  Pumpkin pie and Coke hit the spot and we were gone.  

A few more climbs and a nasty trail down from Putnam is all I had to go.  We got to the top of the last climb and looked back, we saw no one.  That effectively gave me at least a 30 minute lead but because of my left quad I could not go down hill very fast and I know Chris could smell my gray hairs.  We pulled into Putman and learned that Chris had left 20 minutes after I did.  That made me a little nervous.  I decided not to stop at Putnam and gritted it out till the end.  If I stopped and started, that's when the quad would seize up so I made it a point to not stop.  The grade is also gradual enough that it didn't hurt that much.  But now I can smell the barn so I was hell bent with tunnel vision to get under 27 and keep everyone else behind me.  

Top of Putnam.  photo Brendan Trimboli

Finally down to the river and I had no energy left.  My crew and Matt Trappe (one of many places) were there and I just didn't have any emotion to evoke at this point.  I had 45 minutes to get under 27.  I ran pretty much everything from that point, save it the grunt up to the shrine.  One our way up to the shrine Brendan and I encountered a very rare sight.  A couple of deers were being chased down the road by a large coyote.  The deer ran right towards us, nearly running us over, the coyote screeched to a halt and high tailed it back into the hills.  How appropriate to finish a race, a hunter hunting.  The same mode that I'd been in ever since I left Telluride.  

There is nothing better than running down the chute to kiss the rock.  I got very emotional this year because I had put it all out there and my entire family was there to witness it and celebrate with me.  Thank you to all my crew and pacers as well as all the volunteers and race committee for Hardrock.  I am indebted to all you and look forward to a time I can give back to a race that has given me so much.  Also a big congratulations to all those who lined up!  Until next year, cheers!

The family at the finish.  photo Matt Trappe

Here is all the stuff I consumed during the race:
  • 9 EFS liquid shot flasks
  • 7 bottles of EFS grape drink
  • 1 bottle of EFS tropical punch drink
  • 10 bottles of water
  • 8 pouches of Peter Rabbit Organics
  • 20 oz of Chicken broth
  • 4 bowls of ramon noodles
  • 30 oz of Coke
  • 6 bags of CocoRoons
  • 6 rice bars (recipe in Feed Zone)
  • 4 pieces of pumpkin pie
  • multiple pieces of crystallized ginger
  • 4 Ensure
  • 4 oz of Odoul's
  • 2 chocolate chip cookies
  • 2 servings of Ultragen