Tuesday, October 27, 2009

North Face Endurance Challenge, Madison Wisconsin

Well the last race of the season had finally come up: the North Face Endurance Challenge 50 mile race near Madison, Wisconsin in Kettle Moraine State Park. I flew into Chicago Friday afternoon after a flight cancelation debacle and drove the 100 miles to the park. It rained the entire drive. On the drive I thought of the past 2 months since Leadville. My training volume has been much different than prior to Leadville. I’ve only been running about 50 miles a week with no long runs compared with 125 miles per week this summer. This race was to be the end of my season. I need a break from racing for a few months. I found a nice parking place about 50 yards from the start and went to sleep about 11:00 p.m. in the nice cozy car. It sprinkled all night and the early morning hours were cold with a wet humid mist, a light sprinkle, and a chilly wind all in the air. I opted for shorts and a dryfit SportHill shirt, then a long sleeve SportHill shirt and then finally a light rain jacket and hat. This was the perfect combination. About 2 miles into the race I found myself in the lead with Andy Holak and Josh Estep. They were the eventual 4th and 7th place finishers. They were talking about the competition and mentioned that Sal Bautista (he won NFEC Bellingham race I was second in) and a fast guy from Colorado was there. Andy asked me where I was from. I told him Colorado. He asked if I had won Leadville. I told him yes. It was rather fun, and interesting.

We ran along and chatted. At 90 minutes to 2 hours into the race I took the lead from Andy (Josh had dropped back to a solid 3d or 4th by this point. I did not push the race just kept a solid pace going. The terrain and views were beautiful. The trees were losing their leaves and well past their peak brilliance yet it was still beautiful running along on fallen leaves and tree covered rolling hills. I went through the half (25 miles in about 3:08). There was an out and back at Miles 21 through 35 in which miles 28 through 35 were backwards of miles 21 through 28. This allowed me to see how much of a lead I had. I had about a 9 minute lead on Sal Bautista the eventual race winner. He average about 7 flat pace for his last 25 miles… solid. Soon after hitting mile 32 I knew I was in for a death march. My spring was gone and maintaining pace was difficult. I felt like puke and all I had to do to feel better was to slow down and stop… I could not. I trudged on eating, drinking, and maintaining. It had stopped raining about mile 30 so I had tied the jacket to my waist. I held off Sal until mile 37. Sal looked solid. I knew I was most likely racing for second.

At least unlike the previous North Face race in Washington I was not too delusional. I still saw dancing gummy bears but the Ewoks had all gone into hiding or hibernation thanks to the multitude of hunters that we were running around. Often enough I’d hear the boom from a Shotgun and a forest creature or Ewok keel over with a yelp. I have no problem with hunting and wish to do some myself, I just found it awkward and dangerous for 500+ runners to be running around 100+ hunters, in dense forest, on a muted, muggy, and opaque day. I was thankful for the bright red that I was wearing that stood out considerably.

The death march wound down and I finally finished in 2nd place in 6:29:33 or 7:48 average pace per mile. It has been a long season. I’m going to take the next 2 months easy getting back into this passion of running that I love and do because I want to and not because I have to. I will enjoy my time off getting ready for and making plans to marry the love of my life, my wonderful fiancĂ© Lynnette. To all my readers out there: Fare thee well for a few months… It is time for some much needed time off. Tim

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Cow Harbor 10K, Northport, on Long Island, New York

Well, the fastest race I’ve done in a while was today. It was the Great Cow Harbor 10K. The race directors do a fantastic job of putting on a wonderful small town personal race. I’ve only just got back into training after the last month of races and wanted to run a consistent time. I went out planning on running 5 flat pace and if feeling good I’d pick it up. At mile 1. I was tied with 7 others in 7th to 14th place. We went through the second mile in 9:56 so I was right on pace. At the 5K mark I was in 13th or 14th place in a time of 15:30 give or take a few seconds. So far the pacing had been impeccable, I just needed to maintain. I felt lethargic, like I was running as slow as a snail behind the lead pack. That’s what happens when I have little speed work under me. I kept expecting a few guys in front of me to fall back but they were running well, not showing signs of breaking. I managed to maintain my mileage pace to the end and ran a solid 13th place in 31:14 or an average of 5:02 per mile. I can’t complain here… then again… I’m always happy with how I run. I don’t allow me to run in such a way as to be disappointed with the race. That would be a waist, and uncalled for. So, solid race, I know where my fitness level is and where I need to take it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Imogene Pass Run 2009

I ended up driving down early to Ouray Saturday morning for the race. My plan was to go out, run solid, and not push the pace too much. I wanted an honest race but I also wanted to rest up a bit from the previous month of nonstop racing. The race started and the front group went out quickly. I just sat on the front waiting to see how it would unfold. Bernie Boettcher, Zach Crandall, Scott Drum, Michael Smith, and a few others made up the lead group. After a mile in I set an up-tempo pace and waited for the drama to unfold. Surprisingly I found Michael Smith going with me and reciprocating with the lead pacing. By 2 miles in it was evident that we would be dog fighting. I kept the up-tempo pace going rarely relinquishing the lead but only maintaining a short lead. At 4 miles we were still neck and neck but I could feel the tension mounting. I knew at mile 5 the terrain got rougher and therefore planned on dropping the hammer once I got there.

I took the lead and slowly inched my way forward. I still felt drained from Leadville and Italy but knew my body could handle it. By Upper Camp Bird I had a 49 second lead and by the summit I still only had a 52 second lead. I started the decent intending to make up some time and distance. I figured I had only had about a minute lead and knew I need to improve on that. Then about 1 mile down I started cramping up in my left calve. I knew instantly it was because I had not been taking enough electrolytes during the run. Luckily I had just taken some Gatorade at the last aid station. I quickly downed the 2 goos I had on me jogged to the next aid station (which was another mile down the road) and got even more Gatorade. I was finally feeling like I could race again and slowly picked up the pace. I figured I lost 2 minutes because of this debacle yet I still could not see Smith so I assumed he was just behind the previous bend. I kept the pace going and surprising, to me at least, I finished in 2:15:06 a solid 3 minutes faster than last year and 2 minutes in front of Smith.

4 Races in 5 weeks: 138 miles raced, 3 first places, 5 countries… tiring, but good season so far.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

World Mountain Running Championships

Hosted by Campodolcino, Madeisimo, and Chiavenna, Italy:

Been quite busy as of late so I’ve had no time to update this. I thought I would give a slightly better update on Italy. Results are here: http://www.wmrc2009.org/results/File_Iaaf_SM.pdf

Indeed I was 48th. The race consisted of 3 loops of about a 4.33 K loop. I went out solid but not overly hard as I knew I’d be running for about an hour. Actually my time was 1:01:38. Sometime after the first lap I knew I was about in 55th place. By the second lap I had dropped to 61st place. This was simply because a few people went too hard on the second lap and as I anticipated they came back on the 3d and last lap. For the 3d lap while others were dying out there I was starting to feel in my element and I started passing people. I moved up to 48th. Coming into the last ¼ mile of the run I started dry heaving. Yes! If you are out competing at this level you better enjoy pain and dry heaving… one of these days I’ll explain why it is PIVITAL.

For any interested in how I felt overall after running with only a 2 week break from Leadville: Overall, my body does feel drained from all the travelling and racing I’ve had in the past month. I know I ran well as I was with 3 other Americans who I’ve raced periodically. So the question could I have raced better if I did not run Leadville? Well, I suppose if I had put all my eggs into one basket and trained only with worlds on my mind and I had a good day and… that is way too many variables. It was a solid race either way. I’m looking forward to getting back into a set schedule for training. Sorry for the short synopsis but I’ve got a lot of work to do, so until next week after Imogene…

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Preliminary Results 25th World Mountain Championships

For all you die hards out there that may be wondering about results for the 25th World Mountain Championships here are some unofficial results from the top of my head. Andrew Benford was 13th and ran solid, well done! Joe Gray was 16th, also solid. Then our pack came in: Matt Byrne was 44, Zac Frudenberg was 46, Ricky Gates was 47th, and then i finished up the team in 48th. I ran all three loops fairly consistent. Can't complain here as i did not die yet was dry heaving with 1/4 mile to go. Thats good! Well, it at least means it was a solid pace. I'll write a full review when i get the chance... hopefully later today.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Arrived at last

I finally made it to my destination in Italy. 37 hours of travelling. And one more life long dream acomplished... I hitchhiked here in Italy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Leadville 100: 2009

Tony and I on Hagerman Pass Road about 6:00 am.

I have a FULL race recap here:

A Wonderful Weekend… Aren’t They All?

Friday’s Race:

Duncan Callahan, http://www.duncancallahanrunning.com/ my training partner and 2008 Leadville 100 Champ, called me Friday morning the day prior to the race. He informed me that there was an official weigh in for Leadville that I needed to make. This valuable information which I had been oblivious to was somewhere in the inch thick Leadville packet… alas, I had missed it. I was still in Gunnison and had yet to pack. I threw everything I thought I would need into my car in a hurried 10 minutes and left town at 9:50 am. The weigh in would close at 11:45. On a good day the drive to Leadville takes about 2 hours to 2 hours 10 minutes. Darn, I’d have to race to get there in time.

I set a quick safe tempo in my car making sure not to speed… too much. The minutes raced on, the sweat metaphorically dripped from the forehead, doddlers where passed, and pacing was impeccable. I arrived in Leadville at 11:40: 1hour 50 minutes to drive there. This was a fantastic PR. May I note here that I normally don’t drive in the same manner of how I race. I was the last person to weigh in. I jokingly thought perhaps that I should drive back to Gunnison to rest up. The added pressure of getting to Leadville on time had not been draining, on the contrary it wet my appetite for competition. I was ready. I stayed with Leadville resident and ultra runner Bill Dooper. He ensured I was comfortable and ready to roll the next day.

Saturday: Race Day:

2:08 am. My alarm went off. I needed no prodding, I was up.

3:58 am. 2 minutes prior to the start. I made a last minute decision to drop the long sleeve (what was I thinking; it was already almost 50 out) and go with the short sleeve.

The race plan: It was pretty simple… well when it comes to running 100 miles the idea of a simple plan may be a bit relative but I wanted to go out with the leaders, or rather leader. I knew Anton Krupicka http://www.antonkrupicka.blogspot.com/ would be setting the pace in an attempt for the record. I wanted to hang, and be able to compete. Simple plan really… in theory.

I took glances at my watch here and there but for the most part was pretty oblivious to the time throughout the day. For the first hour and a half I just jogged along paying attention to other runner nuances: running rhythm, posture, changes in cadence on hills breathing patterns, muscle tightness, etc. Tony looked strong, confident, and had a desire to set the pace. This was good. It was my first 100 and there was no way I wanted to set the pace. I’d run the course (first 40 miles) this summer with Duncan, so I had an idea of what pace I wanted to hit, but was content to let Tony lead.

We got to Mayqueen in 1:42. Our pack of 6 runners had been running strong and comfortable in a solid pack, but at Mayqueen the pack fell apart. The trail heads up a technical single track up to Hagerman Pass Road. Gustavo Reyes held the lead here tailed immediately by Josh Meitz, Tony, and I. It was evident the first two runners pace was being pushed and they were a bit uncomfortable at the pace on the trail. As soon as we hit the Hagerman Pass Road I finally felt fully relaxed, running comfortably in my element. Tony and I quickly dropped the others up Sugarloaf. I felt like the pace was fine and not being pushed… too much. The sky was brightening, giving an eerie surreal feeling to the morning. Today, was a good day to race. Tony had to stop a few times for pit stops giving me the lead. I’d consciously slow the pace expecting Tony to catch back up in a minute or two. I did not want to run alone this early in the race.

We went through Fish Hatchery in 3:06. I felt smooth and fluid and opted to go shirtless a while. I could feel it was warming up and knew I’d get a jersey later in the race. By this point I guess we had a 7-8 minute lead over Duncan and Nick (eventually 2nd place finisher). Tony and I just started clicking off the miles on the pavement following the Fish Hatchery. The pace was a tad quick but I figured that mentally it would be good for me. We got over to the Pipeline Turn off and I knew it was going to be a hot day. The reroute here (a black hawk had crashed near the Colorado Trail only days before forcing a reroute) was bare and desolate with little shade. It would be hot coming back through here later. Tony had to stop again for another pit stop putting me in the lead again. I did not want the lead this early. I mentally slowed the pace to a better controlled manner and waited for Tony yet he did not come, so I just kept on rollin.

I went through Box Creek (31 miles in) in 4:09 about 2 minutes in front of Tony. I was feeling smooth, yet a little concerned about being in the lead so soon. I stopped after Box Creek for a quick pit stop and kept on rolling. I soon rejoined the Colorado Trail surprised that there really was no major hill up to it on the reroute. From the Colorado Trail I kept a controlled pace expecting Tony to Catch up any second. I deliberately power hiked the steepest sections of the trail and finally Tony caught up with about 2-3 miles prior to Twin Lakes. He looked rejuvenated, wanted the lead, and set a blistering downhill pace to Twin Lakes. I let him go, knowing that I did not want to kill my legs just yet, I still had 100K to run. I went through Twin Lakes in 5:15 about 3 minutes back from Tony. The time was about an hour faster than the training run during the summer. Wow. I ignored the time and focused on more important things: the next mile.

I headed up Hope Pass, blocking out all negative thoughts: namely how I was running poorly. Of course I was not running poorly but the thoughts creep in just the same. Around every few bends I would see Tony only about 2-3 minutes in front of me. How was this possible? I thought he had a greater lead mostly because I felt like I was going so slow, after all I was power hiking the steeper sections. At the Hopeless Aid Station (6:24) near the top of Hope Pass I could see Tony nearing the pass. He was about 5 minutes in front. At this point I started cramping a bit from the heat and lack of salt. I had not been taking enough salt caps and I was starting to feel it. I resolved to not push it and just get over the pass down to Winfield and get some salt in me. I was craving it.

I ran down the South Side of Hope. Oh boy, almost halfway. I was looking forward to the return. At the bottom of the Hope Pass Single track I hit the road up to Winfield this part of the run was the only part I did not do my homework on. I really had no idea how long the dirt road up to Winfield would be. I ran up the sun beaten dirt road in a slow methodical manner. I was feeling drained and in desperate need of salt and some food. I kept expecting to see Tony on his return. At last I did and estimated he had about a 10 minute lead on me.

Getting to Winfield was mentally everything I needed. My crew informed me I’d have a pacer back over Hope. I had been unsure if I would have one or not. I sat down and took about a 5 minute break eating mostly Fritos. I was craving them; they were my choice food throughout the day. Those 5 minutes were well needed. I got up and left, the watch read about 7:30, 8 hours even would have been much better, but this was a race, you take what you have and you run with it.
Coming into Winfield

Andy Richmond paced me back over Hope Pass constantly encouraging me. I was still feeling drained as I power hiked and jogged over the pass. Andy’s constant praise was well needed. Finally, about 5 minutes from the top of the pass, my strength was renewed. I rose up and flew like an eagle over the pass. I summited and started the decent with a renewed vigor, I was here to race and puke out my guts if need be. Remember if you are puking, you are running well. I could not see Tony but knew the race was just beginning, I yelled out with a wild yalp, “I’m a Timmy.” Translation: I’m out running in God’s creation, what more can I ask for. The race had finally started; it was 45 miles to go.
At Twin Lakes

I got to Twin Lakes in 2nd place in 9:45? knowing I had to keep running my race. I was about 23 minutes back from Tony. There was still 40 miles… a long way. Mark Stenbeck jumped in to pace. I power hiked up out of Twin Lakes to the well needed shade on the Colorado Trail. I was drained and at another low point in the race. Mark kept encouraging me and made sure I was eating and drinking. My vigor returned and soon we were rolling along flying past the trees and forest creatures. We hit the reroute. I was now a just a wee bit tired, but felt solid. The next hill was Sugarloaf, I could cruise from here. So I thought. About a ½ mile before the Box Creek aid station the sun started getting to me. I was getting severely dehydrated and overheated, even though I’d been drinking like a drowning man. I jogged through Box Creek in 11:24. Then almost instantly ½ mile later out in the direct sun, I stopped. I tried running and could only get out a few steps before being forced back into a walk. I did my first logical thinking of the day and came to the profound conclusion that I was dehydrated, overheating, and in need of more food.
Near the end of Pipeline, still walking

Mark and I walked along with me sipping water. I was at the emotionally lowest point in the race. I could not even jog. Could I even finish the race? I blocked out the thought. I had to focus on the here and now. What was most important was getting liquid and food in me and mentally getting it back together. It was blazing hot and Mark did everything to help out. He walked so as to keep his shadow on my while holding up his shirt above his head to give me added shade. I was grumpy, tired, and wanted to do the unthinkable: quit. It was unthinkable: therefore, I did not think it. Finally after walking about 45 minutes (I was at the end of Pipeline by this time) I was ready. I started with a slow painful hobble, then it turned into a slow job. Duncan caught up here (about ½ mile from the pavement). He said a few kind words, and soon was only a shadow of things to be in front. He looked solid.
Back running

I ran on autopilot to Fish Hatchery (13:15). I was refueled and ready. I got over to the base of Sugarloaf where I found Tony at the side of the road, sitting down, cramping, and done. The heat had got to us all. Incidentally, from Winfield on every hour I was taking about 2 salt caps (700 mg). I had 20 (7000mg) thought out the day). That’s might be a pr for salt intake in a single day. Yeah!
Leaving Fish Hatchery

I power hiked and jogged up Sugarloaf with my new pacer Jerry. Every minute I was feeling more solid. The sun was no longer as intense. I was well hydrated and nourished, and I remembered that Duncan only had about 5 minutes on me. Jerry and I summited Sugarloaf. I was ready to fly. I ran down picking up speed. I caught up to Duncan around mile 85. I made a joke to my dear friend and left.
I soon rolled into Mayqueen (15:13) feeling strong; I was going to win this race. I would not let anything stand in my way. Well, not pain at least.
Coming into Mayqueen

My friend Scott jumped into to pace. As always Scott knew what to say. The words running through our heads where inspiration and robot. He told me I had to run consistent like a robot. I concurred and ran on at monotonous pace hearing his inspirational words echo through the fading light.

Soon, well a couple hours later… I crossed the finish in 17:27:23. It had been a fantastic day of racing filled with action and lead changes. This drama played out over hours and hours only highlights ones appreciation for it. Nick Lewis had a fantastic race and finished 2nd in 17:44, Duncan was 3d in 18:26.

Currently, I’m resting up and preparing for the World Mountain Running Championships, in Italy next week. I’ll be ready.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Leadville 100...

The weekend went well. I won Leadville in 17:27. I had a crazy race with many ups and downs and will write a full synopsis of it in a day or two. Right now i'm just recovering.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pikes Peak Acsent

I could not sleep. I had just gone to bed 5 minutes ago. Why was I still awake? How could I not be asleep yet? Oh yes, I remember now, I was to race the Pikes Peak Ascent the following day. So sure enough 5 more minutes and instead of lying in bed I was out using a chain saw and sawing down trees. I sawed a forest down and was quite refreshed by 4 am. Well, as refreshed as I can be at 4 am.

It would be a good race I had heard rumor of friends showing up to cheer me on, which many did. I drake some leaded coffee to ensure that the sawdust from the forest was out of my eyes. Lynnette, my girlfriend, along with her parents, Rockey and Karen, would be there for support. We arrived in Manitou Springs with a little less than an hour to the race. This would be a perfect day, I knew it. Some races you get to and you know what the results are going to be. I could picture the entire race both high and low points. I could see and almost feel the times when I would feel like stopping, giving up, and calling it quits. I blocked these out and got rid of them. I would feel fantastic even when I felt like puke. Today was a good day to race.

Racing was soon underway. Last year’s winner Simon Gutierrez took out the lead pack which included Tommy Manning, Zac Freudenburg, Alex Nichols, Michael Selig, and I. By a mile into the race it was apparent that the race would be between this pack. Simon led the first 3 miles of switchbacks with the pack of 5 all within a few yards of him. I felt the pace was a tad too slow but wanted to be patient before taking the lead. Finally at about 4½ miles in I was ready to roll. I took the lead thinking someone would go with me but no one did. By Barr Camp (7.6 miles) I guess I had about a 1-2 minute lead. By A-Frame (10.2) it was about 4 minutes. I kept thinking I needed to pick up the pace and that someone would be bound to catch me. This helped to spur me on to run faster. Once above A-Frame I knew I had to maintain but wanted a solid finish time. I did not have a watch but estimated I would finish near 2:10 to 2:14. I kept the grueling pace going not thinking about the desire to decorate the rocks with the last Gu I had eaten. Instead, I was focused solely on running strong, oblivious to lies about being tired or having some discomfort.

The last mile was filled with people cheering me on towards the top. I finished in 2:12:32. A solid time and race. I’m also signed up for the Pikes Peak Marathon but have decided to bail on running it because I’m racing the Leadville 100 next week and The World Mountain Running Championships two weeks after that. I was looking forward to doubling and running both but that will have to wait for another time.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Cow Bell Pandemonium

Cheyenne Mountain Canyon Race:
United States Qualifier for the World Mountain Running Team:
July 26, 2009

I got to the start line. It was just over an hour until the gun would blast, the whistle screech, cow bells rings, and feet would fly. I was starting to get nervous. I had wanted to go over the course during the previous week yet it never happened. I knew approximately how steep and potentially how hard the race would be. The 12K race (about 7.8 miles) consisted of a 2.4 mile loop with 600 feet gained and lost during the loop with an additional start and finishing section. We would have to run the loop 3 times… bring it. It was now 30 minutes before those cow bells would start their ringing. I was only more nervous. I knew I was fit and ready for the race. The race had not been my main focus as I’ve been mainly training for Leadville. Therefore, I have not done any speed or hill workouts prior to the race. The race was loaded with good US runners vying to make the World Mountain Running Team. I don’t enter races on a whim; I enter to run well: to glorify God with the talents He has given me.

It was now 10 minutes prior to the cow bell pandemonium. I was ready, I was going to go out and give those Cow Bells a run for their money. Bring it. Bring the pain, bring the ruckus, bring the pandemonium. The pandemonium was soon underway. It was silent as my nervous anticipation transformed into a calm steadfast focus. I calmly moved up from 5th place to 2nd. Then we hit the hill. The pace slowed to a training pace. I wanted an honest race, so I took the lead setting a little quicker tempo. I reached the top of the hill and started the fast flowing decent. Someone was content to retake the lead here which I let him do and sat on his tail waiting for a second helping. We started our second helping: lap two, and it was obvious the race pack was being whittled down. There were only four of us now. I took the lead again with 2nd and 3d closely following and Andrew Benford strategically racing in 4th.

The second lap was refreshing, I ran solid thinking about daily training. This was an easy 600 feet climb. I’ve been putting in 2000-5000 foot gains in training, so 600 feet seemed short. I reached the top of the second climb and noticed that Andrew had moved into 2nd about 20 yards back. I cruised the downhill and started the final lap. Those cow bells, still in a constant racket, rang silently in my ears. I heard my heart methodically beating in a controlled manner. Andrew was on my tail pushing me. We reached the top of the 3d lap. At this point I knew no one could catch up and that I would indeed win the race. Maybe I knew it before hand but I would not consciously acknowledge that sort of information. It can be detrimental to become prideful or over confident. I had confidence but had to remain calm. Pride and confidence are closely related. It is good to have the latter while running from the former.

I raced down the hill to finish first in 47:13. Andrew was 2nd in 47:48. We both made the World Mountain Running Team and will be racing in Campodolcino, Italy on September 6th. Bring it, I’ll be ready.

Grin And Bear It

It has been a while since I’ve posted anything on here. I’ve been quite busy with life and preparation for Leadville. On the 18th of July I raced the annual Grin And Bear It in Crested Butte. The race is no longer as popular as it has been in the past but it is my tradition to run it annually. I did not let the race interfere with my training; instead, I incorporated it into training. The race is about 9.3 miles long. The first half starts in Crested Butte and runs up to Green Lake at the Base of Mt Axtle. I think it gains approximately 1200 feet. The weeks leading up to this race were filled with hard long weeks of training. I wanted to treat The Grin And Bear It has an easy tempo day. I was not planning on going too hard as I knew the competition would not be too deep. I started the race and right away easily found myself in 1st place I kept a solid pace going getting to the half way mark at about 36 minutes. The downhill portion was smooth as I finished in 1:05:42. The race is a great benchmark for me as I run it every year. Upon finishing I had greater confidence in my overall fitness level.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hitch Hiking from Moscow Idaho to Gunnison Colorado

I’m back in Gunnison. I hitch hiked roughly 1,202 miles in 4 days from Moscow Idaho, to Jackson Wyoming, and back to Gunnison. I figured I would share some thoughts on the ideals and process of hitch hiking. I don’t claim to know it all but hope that my information will be enlightening and interesting.

There are of course the basic ideas of hitch hiking such as giving yourself the best chance, reading people, making friends, and taking opportunities. I think that there are 2 main types of hitch hikers out there. There is of course the 2nd type that often gives the 1st type (me) a bad reputation. Generally these people are not voluntary hitch hikers. They must hitch as they are more often than not drifters, tramps, homeless, etc. Often associated with these individuals is mental health, or lack thereof and therefore high risk and danger. As this essay is not on mental health or the homeless, we will shift our attention to the 1st type of hitch hiker. They voluntarily hitch for a myriad of reasons a few including: seeing the country, minimalizing or saving money, meeting new individuals, the challenge and experience.

As a hitch hiker you must realize this and try and look the part of a 1st class hitcher. This means you want to look non-threatening. People are scared of hitch hikers. I’ve had giant 300 lb men drive by and give me the most terrifying look possible. Wow they are scared of me? To look the part I try and wear colorful clothes (this also helps draw the eye to you). I generally wear a hat to keep the sun off me and potentially mat the hair, yet will not wear sunglasses. You want to be personal and real and sunglasses can hide your eyes and face. Often I get rides from people saying that they normally don’t pick up hitch hikers but that I looked ok. To continue the tips and info on hitchin’ I will discuss my most recent trip from Idaho to Colorado:

I started in Moscow Idaho, early in the morning. Time must be your friend when hitchin’. If you are in a hurry, generally you should not be hitchin’. I stood at the fringe of town with room for vehicles to pull over. I had my back pack which was clean and showed that I was probably a hiker and had a destination. This technique works particularly well in mountain towns. I soon had my 2nd ride of the day. A young guy of 32 named Rio picked me up in his truck. Rio proved a great ride. He took me 335 miles from Lewiston ID to Salmon ID. Rio is a world traveler and professional river guide who has kayaked on 6 continents and been to 42 countries. He was down to earth and real, had a desire for truth and knowledge, and loved sharing life. Thanks Rio, You always have a place to crash at in Gunnison.

Upon receiving a ride there will be the general questions asked and offered. It is pivotal that you read the person, or people, giving you the ride within the first 30 seconds. Often if they pull up and don’t instantly offer a ride but roll down the window and ask where you are headed then it is time to act. I normally say the next town up the road, generally about 30 miles or so. This instantly gives them a reason to drop you off if they don’t like you. It makes you, the hitcher, appear less threatening. Then it is your job to be friendly without overbearing so if they are going further it will be a joy to take you. In the rare case of being picked up by a girl the hitcher’s job of portraying a non-threatening easy going individual is pivotal. On my trip going to Moscow I received just such a ride. I got in and instantly introduced myself, stripping away any threatening mystery. On the ride I asked a few questions concerning logistics and directions. Granted I already know the answers but this shows the girl that I don’t know it all and strips away more of the unknown threat.
My second day of hitchin’ down from Salmon proved slow. Although it is generally best to hitch from the edge of a town you must still be proactive. If rides aren’t coming you may want to change your style, route, or just start walking.

Opportunity strikes: A trucker pulled into the gas station. He saw me off 100 feet away hitchin’. 10 minutes later as he was leaving he asked if I wanted a ride but told me it would only be 10 miles. This was opportunity knocking. 10 miles is not much and sometimes turning down such an offer is essential, but in this case it would prove to worth much more. 10 miles, later at his destination, he dropped me off, right at the edge of a one lane road construction. A minute later I was in the lead pace car… after all it would be dangerous for me to walk through the road construction. At the other side of the construction was a pull off perfect for cars to stop. It was prime territory. Cars lined up, going slow, and individuals could safely assume I was not a threat; in that I was surrounded by road crew personnel. The 3d car to pass picked me up. 90 miles later he dropped me off at a gas station in the pouring rain. Now the detrimental weather can help in your travels and give you sympathy points but no one wants to pick up someone soaked to the bone and I did not want to get that wet either so I waited in the gas station for half an hour. Once it was only sprinkling I went back out. Within 1 minute I had a ride from a trucker thanks to those sympathy points.

That night I slept in Jackson Wyoming.

…I just woke up. I could feel the humidity outside. I looked and sure enough it was raining. I was in my nice cozy warm bed inside and laughed. I got up packed, and left the half constructed roof covered office building. I wanted to be out prior to any construction workers showed up. This is probably seen as pure minimalist. I was just trying to save $150 for a local motel. I went next door to Albertsons to freshen up. I washed up and made sure to shave. Got to look presentable. In the store was a coffee shop where I changed my cell. 2 days on the open road, foot loose and almost fancy free. By no means am I a bum. I’m a college educated individual who maintains cleanliness and a job while engaged in learning, climbing hiking, running, and other activities. I enjoy being on the open road telling others of the freedom that I have.

Vagrant, in the land of the free?
I left Jackson and slowly made my way south. On the boarder of a small Wyoming town a cop stopped me and gave me a written warning not to hitch?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! This is America is it not? What about the American dream: Live free or die! Besides this was also Wyoming?!?!?!?!?! I thought maybe I could let him throw me in jail for some free food and a nice cot but… I wanted to show respect and love. He told me to leave town; so I did and started hitching on the 2 lain highway; a much more dangerous proposition than the edge of town. I found out that 2 hitch hikers where killed last year on that same dangerous stretch of highway because the cop had told them to leave town.

The mistake: I got several short rides down to Rock Springs in southern-western Wyoming. While walking across Rock Springs I came to a ravine. My options were either to walk 3 miles out of my way to cross the ravine over a bridge and then I could hitch, or to cross the ravine. I choose the ravine, which ended up being a mistake. Now and then while hitch hiking you will make mistakes; it is inevitable and we are human. It is what you do with that mistake; how you react.

I took off my socks and shoes to cross the 15 foot wide stream. It was only a foot deep with water but two steps into it and I found out that I was sinking into the soft muddy bottom. I got back out took off my pants to keep them from getting muddy and then carefully tried again. I sank in slowly as the muddy quicksand pulled me down. I slowly countered maintaining strict focus, to trip and fall in there would mean I would need a hotel room to clean up. Every laborious step would slowly sink from 1 foot under to 3 feet down. The water came up to mid-thigh. I finally got through covered in an oily black quagmire from my knees down. I spent the next 15 minutes carefully rubbing dirt on the muck and then using my drinking water to clean up. Finally, I was clean again. I should have avoided the hindering chasm, but, after crawling out of the mire I had learned, cleaned myself up, and was ready for some more hitchin'.

15 miles later in the middle of nowhere ...

...as night was coming on I used juniper berries and branches to make a nice box spring on the surrounding wet muddy sand, my ground pad on this gave me a wonderful night sleep with a lush juniper aroma, and prevented the mud from coming into contact with me.
The next day proved grand as I quickly got a break from Rod an awesome gent who drove me 300+ miles to Montrose.

I waited on the edge of town; all I needed was one ride more, back home to Gunnison. I was giddy. 10 minutes later and I saw Gifford, who owns Triple Cross Towing. I know Gifford from college and church. If you are ever in need of a tow give him a call at (970) 641-5111. He gave me the final leg of the journey.

While on the road you are faced with many questions while hitching and if done properly you will answer them in a wholesome quick manner optimizing your chances of a pickup. Patience, yet knowing when to act… fine line. When out on the open road don’t tour… Travel, learn, make the most of it, and enjoy the ride as well as the silent serenity from solitude.

Travel well!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dancing Gummy Bears & Fuzzy Furry Ewoks

I saw a dancing gummy bear. No, not just one, hundreds. I trudged on. Fuzzy furry Ewoks where hanging in the trees, saying encouraging words. This was not surprising as the race was in western Washington. I was near 6 hours and 40 miles into the 50-mile race. I had felt fantastic up to this point, being sure to drink copious amounts of water to ensure that I was well hydrated. My glycogen stores were well padded as i had been eating around 250 calories per hour. But then i started seeing those dancing gummy bears. The overcast humid day was quiet; interrupted only by the squawks from birds and the occasional yelp from a loan Ewok or other forest creature. Their home, dark and inviting, covered in thick underbrush, moss, and pine needles, intensified the muggy silence.

Rich jumped in the race to help pace me at mile 37. He had had to run 15 miles just to get there. We ran along and suddenly i saw the dancing gummy bears. My vision was blurred, giving an array of pixilated yet keenly unfocused dots. I could barely make out the trail as I forced myself forward, trying not to pass out. All i could see was those dancing gummy bears, and pixilated dots. In the previous mile, I drank my entire 20 oz of water and now all i wanted was more water and maybe a gummy bear too. The next aid station was a mile ahead; I could smell it. I raced down, still seeing dots, and the intermittent dancing gummy bear.

Soon hydrated i raced again. I welcomed the sight of the gummy bears yet they were in hibernation. I still felt horrendous, yet invigorated welcoming the last 5 miles. I race on past dancing gummy bears, monstrous hills, and unseen barriers. I crossed the line in second place in 7 hours 46 minutes 36 seconds. The race was difficult but overcome with steadfast perseverance and Rich fellowship. Thank you Rich! I could not have raced well without your help.

Quick Bellingham Race Update:

Extremely difficult 50-mile course with 10,000 feet of elevation gain. Ran hard, took 2nd, in about 7:46:36. Story soon to follow. Rich and I went to Grand Coulee Dam... wow... stayed in Winthrop Washington, a beautiful little town, and drove through North Cascades National Park where i almost begged the race to go climb a mountain or two.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lazy Wheat with a Laugh

The following is just a smidgen of the hitch hiking trip up here to Moscow:

The laughing continued. There I was at the side of some road in NE Oregon, 1,200 miles from home. I laughed to myself as i waited for rides. Some good ol boys picked me up and i jumped in the bed of their truck. We cruised down the 2 lane cracker box road. In the back, just in a grin and a laugh, I was bombarded with a dreamlike sensual enchantment: sun warming the face, wind dancing through deep, thick, dripping, honey clover, soaked and permeated the air. Wheat fields covering the surrounding steep hills bowed to ever approaching cars. Further from home, closer to a destination and undaunted with a sly smile, I laughed with pure delight. The good ol boys soon dropped me off, offered a "good buy" cigarette, then bade me "g'day."

Wheat lazily stood while a lone car, ignoring said action by the wheat; instead, intent solely on speed, raced on. I mimicked the wheat, stood, and waited for my next ride. It would come... after only 5 minutes. I only laughed as I ran over to the truck and hopped in. The back was filled with countless loafs of bread and other bakery goodies. In the front, a gruff, life-hardened, and witty lady who had seen for better or worse half a century openly welcomed me appreciative of the company. We chatted loudly over the roaring wind whipping through the hot car. She told of apple trees and cherry blossoms; of a bittersweet day gone by, almost lost, yet left alive, left only in memory. A tone of vulnerability through her outward gruffness, yet no regret with stinging darts to accompany, was heard. She dropped me off, insisting I take some bread. With bagels now in hand and mouth, I laughed and hitched some more.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Moscow Russia

I always thought it would be cool to go to Moscow Russia. Anyways, I'm in Moscow now... Moscow Idaho that is. Hitchhiking and traveling went well to get here. I acquired a ride with and old friend to Pendleton Oregon from Gunnison. Then i hitched the approximate 200 miles to Moscow, which is right on the Washington and Idaho border. I'm staying with Rich and Evann Tveden... and their cat Oliver. Rich is a great college running buddy. Evann is his wonderful wife. Oliver is... he is their... their cat. As for next week's 50 mile race in Bellingham... I'm feeling strong and ready for a good effort. Solid! Let the pounding commence.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sage Burner 50K: Mental Illusion

Duncan’s car was outside my front kitchen window. It must be time to leave. He and Annie had stopped by to pick me up prior to the race. We drove the 5 minute drive over to the start discussing how much harder it is to mentally get up and prepare for a home race. The anticipation that arises with travelling to the race often just never fully materializes. The day was overcast, and cool: perfect weather for a 50k. We pulled into the Hartman Rock base area. It was filled, and soon would be overflowing with race participant cars. The Sage Burner 25 and 50k races www.western.edu/sageburner were soon underway. Brian Smith took it out from the gun leading the 25k race. GEP director, Sage Burner race director, and personal coach Scott Drum, held a solid 2nd place, while Mike Ingham of Broomfield and I settled in right behind, leading the 50k race. Just behind us were Duncan and Dan Vega from Colorado Springs.

Mike and I settled into a solid pace switching leads on the rolling terrain. Mike would take the down hills and I would take the up hills. At 5½ miles into the race the 25K and 50k split with Brian Smith and Scott Drum continuing there leads followed closely by Jesse Rickert. They finished the race in the same order: Brian Smith in 1:57:?, Scott Drum in 2:00:20, and Jesse Rickert following a close 3d in 2:00:34.

The next 3 miles I felt the worst that I would for the entire race; which is to say I was feeling decent but not quite fluid. Near mile 8 we ran down Elevator. At this point Mike was 40 meters up on me with Duncan trailing 30 meters back. Off of elevator, we ran the next ½ mile on the only paved portion of the race. Bambi’s uphill single track was next. I knew the next 4 miles where mostly uphill and it was time to switch gears and start an upscale tempo of a pace. I passed Mike on Bambi’s with the intention of just taking the lead and maintaining, yet intentions changed as I quickly gained 60 meters on him. I hit the technical Saw Tooth and set an unrelenting roll. Mentally I was now fully occupied with the race. I felt smooth and fluid. The brain had taken over completely. It controlled my body, set the pace, regulated temperature, and ignored distractions.

I ran up the road towards the top of 9-0 (mile 12) convincing myself that I was out on an evening night stroll. I could see I had about a minute lead over Mike who was a good 30 second up on Duncan. I knew mentally I still was not running as smooth as I wanted to be. I know this idea may seem to contradict my previous statement about the mind taking over yet I knew I could run smoother. I knew I was strong enough to maintain the pace… that should be enough, but mentally the mind can play tricks. I told myself I was not running up to Parr and therefore periodically would increase the pace. This idea of continuously pushing myself faster in a race has been a developing skill for ultra running.

Then it hit me, I was somewhere near mile 17 and 2 hours in (I’m unsure because I ran without a watch) Mentally: I now just ran. Sure I kept pushing myself, yet I felt solely out on an easy training run. The terrain fell at my feet: My mind loving the challenge, yet not feeling the stain. Sure it was strenuous yet I was not thinking about pain, I was reveling in it while simultaneously oblivious to it. This mental illusion dominated, as my actions reciprocated.

The finish fast approached. I had eaten and hydrated well during the race as the cool temperatures gave way to a humid warm day. I crossed the finish feeling strong, ready for more… The 31.42 mile course with 5200 feet of elevation climb was covered in 3:46? (Course record of about 7:13 pace) Mike came in around 4:00 hours even while Duncan was about 4:15. You can read about his race here: http://www.duncancallahanrunning.com/ Well written Duncan, good info. GEP Teammate Keri Nelson won the women’s race in 4:35 and set the course record while still taking 5th overall. Well done Keri!

Overall: I’m a little surprised by my current shape. God has blessed me and kept me healthy ready to glorify him through running. I’m feeling strong and ready for the 50 mile race in Washington in 2 weeks. I’ll be hitch hiking to get there so more updates to follow...

Monday, May 4, 2009

Flying Piggly Wiggly Marathon in Cincinnati Ohio.

Swine that Flew:

My alarm buzzed. I rolled over to turn it off. I had seemingly just fallen asleep but needed no prodding to get up. It was 3:38 am: a perfect time to wake up. Not a second too late or early. I ate a light 3:50 am breakfast, the day was fast ticking down: it would be light soon. Travis informed me that it was drizzling rain outside. I had neglected to check. What a beautiful day. Jeri drove us to Cincinnati making sure to take a detour into Kentucky. The pig was soon slaughtered, the gun up, and we were off running promptly at 6:30. The ½ marathoners and marathoners started together.

The Plan: go out conservatively with a first mile of 6 flat followed by 5:45. Go through the ½ in 1:15 and reciprocate in a 1:13 second half. That I figured would be a great marathon. Travis, a master at pacing, settled in with me and clicked off the miles. The light drizzle had vanished, leaving a perfect 53-57 degrees and overcast skies for the rest of the day. By mile 4 I finally felt comfortable and focused. We hit the hills, miles 6-9, and I felt smooth and fluid. We ran consistently moving up past several places and soon ran through the half in 1:14:59. At this point we were in a 3-way tie for second place. The other bloke soon dropped off the pace and Travis and I were tied for second. From the half marathon mark on we had bikes escorting us ensuring that we went the right way and that spectators did not get in our way.

Near mile 17 I informed Travis I was going to increase the pace and see if I could catch first who I hoped was only 2 minutes in front. I dropped the pace feeling great, only wishing I had more competition. By 19 I had opened up a ¼ mile lead on Travis and soon learned that the bike escort would accompany me to the finish.

I felt great even through 21 and 22. Around 23 to 24 I knew 2nd was near inevitable. I had a solid lead on 3d place. I felt comfortable and solid still racing at 5:30-5:45 pace. I could talk at this pace (with the bike escort) and felt like I could contain the pace for 50K no problem but could not go faster. This is to be expected with the little fast speed work currently under me. I crossed the line in 2:28:32. I do think this was my best strategic marathon to date. At the very least it was my first negative split marathon.

Travis soon crossed in 5th place only 9 seconds from 3d. He had picked up some invaluable experience and a 3 minute PR. We flew over the brick, and asphalt, the cement and steel bridges, rounded corners, over slippery urban streets. We had prodded ourselves in preparation and during the race, like pigs lined up ready for the slaughter, we came and saw and then… We swine flew.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Parachuting Onto a Flying Pig

I flew out to the Cincinnati airport which is not in Ohio, it’s in Kentucky, for the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon. Pigs that fly… may I be a large pig that flies this weekend. I’m staying with Travis Murray. Jeri, Travis’s mom, picked me up late Wednesday night. Travis thought I was arriving late Thursday night for some reason so on Thursday afternoon I surprised him at his practice. He co-coaches on the Mason HS cross country and distance teams. Earlier in the week I emailed Tom Rapp, Travis’s co-coach, and received his permission to surprise Travis at their track practice. Ron, Travis’s dad, dropped me off at the track. Travis had his back turned to me as I ran down the backstretch. At the last second he turned and I jumped him nearly tackling him. Tom was all grins. Travis was thoroughly shocked and made a comment about me parachuting out of an airplane onto him.

The Piggly Wiggly Marathon will be on Sunday. Brian List, who was second last year, Travis, who was third, and I plan on working together for most of the race. May we all be large pigs that fly this weekend.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

American River 50 Mile Endurace Race


Last weekend I raced my first 50 in California: The American River 50 mile endurance run. It was an interesting day filled with highs and lows. The race follows a mostly flat asphalt bike path for 18 miles. Mile 19-27 are half pavement and half dirt with some decent hills thrown in. Miles 28-46 are rolling and mostly on single track. While the last 3 miles are all uphill gaining about I000 feet in the last 3 miles. I started the race in the lead pack with about 8 runners and 2 rabbits off the front leading the race. We set a solid pace and settled into the race in about 6:20 to 6:40 mile pace, and just clicked off the miles. Temps were cool, in the low 50s. I was well hydrated and ended up drinking too much, as every 4-5 miles I had to stop to regulate my bladder. Overall, I felt solid and relaxed yet was a bit anxious concerning my frequent stops. I went through the marathon in a 2:45 which was right on pace.

At mile 28 i just started feeling pretty bad, so I ended up slowing up. My coach, Scott Drum, jumped into pace me at mile 31 right as I was at the emotionally lowest point in the race. I was in 9th place at this time and 20 minutes behind Max King, who had taken the lead. Scott kept me going and by mile 34 I was feeling much better, was rolling along, and mentally fully back in the race. Scott took me through Mile 41 at which point I was feeling great. I had bettered my place down to 7th. From Mile 41 through 46 I just rolled along and finally picked up another spot down to 6th. The last 3 miles of the race, which are all uphill, I tucked in and started a fast cadence. Scott picked me up again with 2 miles to go and I hammered (if that term is applicable 48 miles into a race) up the hill picking off one last runner with a mile to go. I crossed the line in 5th place, in 6 hours 16 minutes. The winning time, by Max King, was a solid 6:04, while Dave Mackey was 6:12 and 3d and 4th were about 6:13.

I learned a lot for my first 50 mile race. Mentally I learned a lot about going farther and staying focused longer. I know I can expect both low and high points in a race. Surprisingly, I drank too much. I also went out just a tad quick and probably not relaxed enough. Making the mental transition from marathons to ultras is the biggest challenge. Bring it on. Challenges spice up life.

Special thanks go to Al Smith (AKA Al Willis), support team leader, who logistically managed our travels, Scott Drum for his inspiration, encouragement, and coaching, and to Shawn and Katie, our host family who took extra good care of us ensuring that we were well fed and comfortable. They made the trip special.

Salida Run Through Time Marathon


I made this race a mandatory race for 2009. In 08 I ran it, but because of the heavy snows I ended up running a bit extra: about 31 miles in a time of about 4:22. This year I wanted redemption and a course record. My original goal was sub 3 hours but I had been under the weather for the previous week. So my goal for the race was just a solid training run, an honest effort, and hopefully a first place. Overall it ended up being a good day. I went out and just maintained speed for the first half at which point I had a 2 minute lead on 2nd place: Ryan Burch, a solid ultra runner. I maintained my lead and won the race and set the course record in 3:03.42. Maybe sub 3 next time around.

Moab: Red Hot 50K+


“1 minute till the start” the announcer said into the microphone. It was a brisk and windy early morning with wispy low inviting clouds blanked by their thicker ominous counterparts above. I was still debating which set of clouds would win the day. I opted once again to change my top for a lighter one and got back to the start with 20 seconds to spare. It helped that I had parked my mobile home, also known as my 4Runner, twenty feet from the start the previous night.

40 seconds later and the eager anticipation for the start was now forgotten and 20 seconds into the past… 4 more hours to race. People jockeyed for position as we climbed up a quick short rise. I stayed back 10 yards, still warming up trying to objectively analyze the pecking order. The burly Dave Mackey set the pace with 2 runners immediately following. He was obviously pushing the pace opting for an honest race. After 1 mile in I moved up to draft. Our pack mimicked the dissipating clouds and by mile 5 at the first aid station it was only Dave and I.

We continued the up-tempo pace and Dave knew I was there for the long haul. The first climb was over relatively quickly and seemed like a nice breather. We were 9 miles in and look down at the start line only a mile away and 1000 feet below us. I took in the view in a shortened eternal second. No more time to savor the view we were off bombing down the first decent. Dave a master at the downhill easily glided down bee-lining all the turns. With a 2-3 minute lead over 3d I felt solid and ready for some more interesting terrain. We went through mile 13 in 1:30 and headed headlong into the wind. Dave asked me to share the lead so he could draft. At last we were working together, putting off drilling each other for a few more miles.

We alternated the quick lead over dirt roads which beckoned us on and soon went through the half way mark in 1:57. The sun was out and the day had warmed up to a pleasant 50 degrees. We started the next leg with a solid up hill at mile 19, immediately followed by a steep downhill on solid rock. The pace increased. We had caught up to the 33k runners who cheered us on in admiration. We were in the heart of the race. I’d push the up hills while Dave would reciprocate on the down hills. At last we were racing as we navigated around rocks, up climbs, over holes and gaps, and other obstacles in our way. We laughed at the terrain that wanted to mock us. Instead, we flew over it asking for ever harder routes; this was ideal. The harder the terrain the easier and faster we ran. The routes got steeper, the terrain harder, we flew faster, only laughing harder.

Mile 28 arrived. Before me lay 6 giant 300 foot long 100 foot tall boulders aligned in a row rising out of the sand like the backbone to a giant desert leviathan. Following the backbone in caravan fashion was a line of the 33k runners. Their camels absent, and only shadows to keep them company the caravan trudged on. After the great desert beast came a final climb followed by an easy dirt road which I used to put 20 seconds on Dave. Then came the final downhill. I heard Dave’s footsteps pounding after mine. We came to a 10 foot drop and Dave caught up. I jumped half way down to a thin ledge then down to the soft sand below. With a mile to go we were neck and neck hammering each other. Dave’s downhill prowess won over as he gained distance over me winning in 3:58:50. I followed in 3:59:33. We had broken the old course record of 4:03.

Lessons learned: Need to drink and eat more. 33+ miles only gets easier the further into a race.