Thanks for visiting my blog. This is where I document and share all of my running adventures with my friends and fellow runners. The good, the bad, and the unquestionably painful. All for your entertainment! Enjoy!

Monday, July 14, 2014

2014 Leadville Silver Rush 50: Regaining Perspective

"You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing for you."- Walt Disney

The mental evolution of my running career is something that I completely overlooked until I was faced with the daunting realization that I had a problem. A big problem. 

After several miserable races and a lot of pretty lame excuses for such, I was forced to sit down and really THINK about where my failures were emanating from. Initially, I blamed several physical failures for my shortcomings. I blamed poorly designed race courses, shitty course markings and bad aid stations. But I never thought to blame myself. 

Slowly, reluctantly and quite begrudgingly, I began to see right through the web of lies I was spinning for myself. My failures weren't physical, they were entirely mental.

When I truly analyzed my poor performances, it became clear that I had evolved into the type of runner that will DNF or otherwise throw a race away, whenever things aren't going exactly as I had hoped. If I lost sight of the podium, I was content with calling it a day so I could start getting ready for my next race. I became the runner that I had always criticized for not being committed to seeing things through. I became the last thing that I ever wanted to be. I was THAT guy. I don't like THAT guy. 

Since this epiphany, I've been working to regain the passion I once felt for this sport. I want to love running again. I want to appreciate the gift and revel in the natural beauty of the mountains I run in every day. I want to feel the childlike enthusiasm for racing through the mountains, rather than the mechanical obligation to perform like a circus animal. 

I want things to be the way they were. Like a failing relationship, my relationship with running was on the ropes and I needed to fix it. NOW!

This is why the Leadville Silver Rush 50 miler came at the perfect time.

This would be my fourth consecutive year of running this race and it's like an old friend. I know the course better than any other and I've always enjoyed every step of this race. It's exactly what I needed to get my mind back on track. 50 miles of tough mountain running in a place that has always brought a smile to my face. I was happy to be back in Leadville. 

My Wife and Trail Running...My Most Treasured Things in Life

Lining up for the Silver Rush is always exciting. This race start has an intensity that a lot of races can't match. Our heads are filled with adrenaline charging music, a beautiful National Anthem, and then we're sent charging up Dutch Henri Hill like a wave of warriors. It's pretty intense.

Flag Waving For the National Anthem

Shotgun Blast to Send Us on Our Way

I never intend to race up the first steep climb, but the rush of enthusiasm always gets the better of me. Starting at 10,000 feet can make this sprint pretty challenging, but I felt great on the way up.

I continued to race the first several miles of the course. I felt strong and was having a lot of fun. The first seven miles are a long grinding uphill. This tricks you into running harder than you should because it's not steep. It's just relentless. A lot of runners fall victim to these early miles and I was nearly one of them.

After the first aid station, the climb gets steep enough to take notice as we trudge through water that spills over onto the rocky trail, navigating our way across slippery rocks and moderately technical terrain. Nearing the top of the climb, it becomes clear that this is a legit mountain race that will sear your lungs and fry your legs if you don't exercise some caution.

After topping out at the first pass, we have a nice, gradual downhill heading into the Printer Boy aid station. I had started the race with two handheld bottles filled with Hammer Endurolyte Fizz and I had a few Hammer gels stuffed in the bottle holders. My plan was to swap my bottles for a pack at the aid station. I rolled into Printer Boy, handed my bottles to Jo, slipped my pack on and kept rolling right along.

Coming into Printer Boy

Heading Out of Printer Boy

After Printer Boy, we're treated to about a mile of steep descent before crossing a paved road and beginning a long, grinding climb.

 Heading UP...and UP Some More

After about a month of climbing, we top out in the Rock Garden. This is probably the most scenic section of the course, providing views of several 14'ers across the valley, and most of the Leadville 100 course.

Running the Rock Garden

This section rolls, but is pretty runnable. My advice is to take your time and enjoy the scenery. It's a truly beautiful spot.

After a bit of (somewhat) flat cruising, we take a totally unnecessary descent. To a first timer at the Silver Rush, this may appear to be the drop that takes us into the 25 mile turnaround point. That would be a foolish mistake. This is just a steep descent that stages us at the lowest possible point before making our final climb over Sherman's Pass.

Losing Elevation That We'll Immediately Regain. Only Steeper.

View Down Valley as we Climb UP the Pass

Making the Final Push Over the Pass at 12,000'

When I reached the top of the pass, I took a few moments to look around and soak in the beauty of the Colorado Rockies. As a few people filed by, I refused to be burdened by the "race". I just wanted to enjoy where my feet had taken me and appreciate the moment for what it had to offer. I felt centered. I was happy.

Dropping off the pass, I ran with a few other runners as we swapped positions. I was running a solid carefree pace and was focused on the peace of my run, enjoying my time with other runners and the great feeling of descending toward the halfway point in the race.

Cruising into Stumptown at Mile 25

As I reached the aid station, I tossed my depleted pack to Jo as I continued down the trail to pass through the timing mat. By the time I came back through the aid station, she had my pack refilled and ready to go.

I should never be surprised by how efficient my wife has become in the crewing game. She's the best crew chief in the business and she was really dialed in at Leadville.

Tossing on a Full Pack, Ready to Head Back to Leadville

Physically, I was feeling better than I ever had at the midpoint of this race. Mentally, I was in old, but familiar ground. I was having fun and happy to let things unfold naturally. I was having more fun than I had enjoyed in a long time.

I left Stumptown and fought my way back over the pass and down into Rock Garden. I made small talk with other runners, swapped war stories and gave encouragement to those that were struggling. Rock Garden passed quickly.

Getting Ready to Drop Out of Rock Garden

After a sharp and fast descent, we crossed the paved road again and headed back up the steep climb toward Printer Boy. This is a grueling climb and the sun was beating down on us mercilessly. Before I crested the top of the climb, I could hear the revelry at the aid station. A reminder that this is all supposed to fun.

As we rolled into the aid station, the crowd support was intense. It was an awesome feeling to be surrounded by that kind of enthusiasm and it served to renew my spirit.

Back to Printer Boy Aid Station at Mile 36

I rolled into the aid station, swapping my pack for two handheld bottles. Jo had them loaded and ready to go. She was getting me in and out as fast as possible, like she always does, but I wanted to linger. Not because I was tired or needed attention, but because I wanted to enjoy the scene.

Jo walked out of the aid station with me as I filled her in on my day. We smiled and laughed before I kissed her and headed toward Leadville.

Feeling centered again.

Enjoying Printer Boy

The run from Printer Boy starts with a stupid climb. 3.5 miles of gradual uphill that feels like it'll never end. Running is sporadic at best but I managed a few bursts of leg speed on the way up. The trip to the top allowed for me to get lost in my thoughts and occasionally chat with other runners. It was time well spent.

After cresting the top of the last pass, it's a mostly downhill run to the finish. Mostly, because there are a few rollers mixed in to serve as a reminder that you've run a really long ways. I pushed hard toward Leadville but not hard enough to become depleted. It was a well measured downhill ass whooping mixed with the appropriate amount of lingering.

Two miles from the finish, I took note of the time and realized I was probably going to miss a sub 9 hour finish. My time from last year was 8:42, which is a pretty respectable finish time for that course. I had a brief moment of panic but it quickly faded and I settled back into my calm stride and focused on enjoying the remaining miles on one of my favorite race courses.

The Silver Rush course weaves you toward, and then away from the finish line a few times in the last mile. You can hear the announcer, music and cow bells...then it fades. I knew the route and expected this, but it's still a little disheartening.

I eventually found myself running across the top of Dutch Henri Hill and could see the finish line down below. For a brief moment, I didn't want the race to be over but that feeling passed when I realized I had tickets for two free beers waiting on me.

I made the final sweeping turn and descended to the finish chute, crossing in 9:01, my second fastest time at the Silver Rush.

Finishing and Feeling Great!

I was truly content with my run and I still felt strong at the finish. I didn't land on the podium or even snatch an age group award, but I still felt like the run was a huge success. It was a cathartic exercise that gave me 9 hours to shut everything out and learn to enjoy running on the trails without pressure, fear or unwarranted expectations. It was just me having fun, which is why I started all this madness to begin with. Despite recent wins and FKT's, I consider this to be my most successful run of the year.

In the end, it's all about being happy.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2014 Comrades Marathon: On the Road to Durban

"Comrades is a great 5k. The problem is the two marathons you have to run to get to the starting line" - Unknown

I don't know the origin of that quote, but I can wholeheartedly agree. 

For those that are unaware, the Comrades Marathon is an 89k (56 mile) road race in South Africa. It's also the largest and oldest ultra marathon in the world, and is the largest spectator sport in South Africa. 

Simply put, the Comrades Marathon is a big deal.

The race course alternates each year between the "Up Year" and the "Down Year". I need to tell you right up front that I have run both courses on consecutive years and I can barely register a difference in the level of difficulty. So if any of you are planning to run Comrades on an "easy" year, you just forget about it. This was the down year and I still had more than my fair share of hands-on-hips climbing along the way "down". 

Pietermaritzburg City Hall

Being the down run, we were bussed inland to the start line in Pietermaritzbug and would be running back to Durban, which sits right on the coast of the Indian Ocean. The bus ride went well once our driver calmed down after getting lost a couple of times. Few things can start your day like a bus full of Africans yelling at each other.

Before I dive into the details from my race, I would like to share a few interesting facts about Comrades:

1. Runners are not allowed to display sponsor or corporate logos anywhere on the body.
2. Each runner must OWN their own timing chip and have it registered with the race.
3. Each runner must wear TWO bibs, unfolded and unaltered. One on the front of your shirt and the other on the back.
4. Runners must be registered members of a running club, unless you're an international runner.
5. Runners must run a qualifying race to register, unless you're an international runner.
6. The race has a firm 12 hour cutoff, at which time the finish line is closed and any remaining runners are barred from crossing the line. No finish time, no medal, no sympathy.

It's also important to note that it's wintertime in South Africa. To some people, that fact may suggest cold temperatures and possibly good running weather. This is true...if you're an African. For local runners, they're in the coolest and most hospitable time of the year for running. For North Americans, we're just emerging from our winter and not yet acclimated for hot weather running. Despite being winter, it's still 80+ degrees in the shade, and much warmer on the race course.

The race begins at 5:30 AM and I was comfortably nestled in my starting corral by 4:50. It was already warmer than I wanted it to be.

I have completed 156 races in my life and none of them can rival the spirit of the starting line at Comrades. The start line has a calm sense of enthusiasm, friendship and warmth, unlike any other event I've been a part of. It's an experience you have to enjoy firsthand to fully understand.

My favorite part of the pre-race ritual is the singing before the start. It's a beautiful song and despite my inability to understand a single word of it, I find it to be very moving. You can watch the video I took below.

After the anthem is played, the runners are sent off, accompanied by the ever faithful serenade of Chariots of Fire. This too has become a tradition at Comrades, and as soon as the song begins, the runners are pushing toward the front.

As a 135 pound white guy, I found myself wondering how more runners aren't crushed to death like this. It was akin to selling Justin Bieber tickets outside of a Canadian junior high school.

The first few miles are run in darkness. There's enough lighting to run without incident, but just barely. The real problem was the TV cameras, which aimed bright lights right into your eyes along the course. Whenever we approached a camera in the darkness, I tucked in behind a taller runner so he could shield me from the blinding glare.

As the sun came up, I was happy to see overcast skies because this would significantly reduce my exposure to the heat of the day. The clouds are our only real option for shade all day long. I was sincerely hoping it would remain cloudy during the race. However, unlikely...

Coming to a Checkpoint

Unlike a lot of runners, I don't race with a GPS watch. I prefer to wear a cheap digital watch, and if I'm so inclined, I can calculate my splits in my head. This is also a great way to occupy my mind during long races. For this race, I vowed to only allow myself to look at my watch at the end of every 10k split, otherwise, I may over think things, which is never good.

At the end of my first 10k split, I realized I was on a very solid but comfortable pace. Pleased with my progress, I went back to ignoring my watch.

At the end of my 20k split, I was also pleased by what my watch revealed. And again at 30k! I was having a great run! I was comfortable, moving quickly and having a fantastic time interacting with other runners and the spectators. I began to think I might have a spectacular day. I should know better than to ever begin that line of thinking in an ultra.

Somewhere in the South African Countryside 

"KAY-LEE!! KAY-LEE!!! GOOOO KAY-LEE!!!" That was what I heard from the crowd all day. It never got old and the pronunciation of my name forced me to crack a grin every time I heard it.

Sachets of Water and Energade on the Course

I checked my watch again at the 50k split and noticed I was pretty close to a PR for that distance. I was still feeling great and I was in a good place mentally. I was fueling and hydrating perfectly and it was paying off.

As you can see from the picture above, water and sports drink (Energade barely qualifies as a sports drink) are served in plastic sachets instead of cups. This takes some getting used to because you have to tear the sachet open with your teeth so you can get to the contents. But this also makes them portable. I was grabbing several sachets and stashing them in my waistband so I always had water with me.

In addition to fluids, the aid stations had small amounts of candy, potatoes and bananas. Far fewer options than what you would find at any American ultra.

Local Children Begging For Candy and Food After the Aid Stations

The moment I had been waiting for came suddenly, and without warning at the 55k mark.

I began to feel very hot, like I was cooking from the inside. The sun was no longer being concealed by the clouds and I was overheating badly.

I slowed my pace in an effort to reduce my body temperature, drank more water and began to apply ice to my head and neck whenever I could find it. Despite everything, I couldn't get my temperature back down and I began to worry about more serious problems.

I wasn't dehydrated and I still had a lot of energy. My fueling strategy had been perfect. I was still sweating properly, but with no air movement, I just wasn't getting the cooling benefit of my sweat.

My 60k spilt was brutally slow and I felt like crap.

But...I Wasn't the Only One

I stayed focused and worked diligently on improving my situation. I was hoarding ice in my shorts, my shirt and under my hat. In these later miles, there are water sprays for the runners to pass through and I made a point of parking myself under them for as long as I could tolerate.

Cheerleaders Failed to Cheer Me Up...It Must Be Bad!

I was still running but my pace was ridiculously slow. All I found at the end my 70k split was more disappointment.

At the 75k mark, I began to come back to life. I tested my condition by slowly picking up my pace and things began to perk up again. After 20 kilometers of doctoring myself, I felt like a new runner. Unfortunately, I had lost a tremendous amount of time on the clock and there was no way to overcome that reality.

I pressed on toward Durban with deliberation and confidence.

As we got closer to downtown Durban, the crowds grew and so did the support. I was among the few runners that could still maintain a decent pace, so I was getting more than my fair share of attention, which I really needed at that point.

The Distant Durban Skyline Under the Bridge

Entering downtown Durban was intense. The crowds were thick and the noise was earsplitting.

I began to see familiar landmarks and I knew the finish line would be coming quickly. I began interacting with the crowd again and feeding off their enthusiasm.

Downtown Durban

As I neared our hotel, I could hear the race announcer calling out the names of runners. The finish line at Comrades is an intense scene, creating a unique balance of destruction and celebration. I was eager to get to that line.

Human Suffering Meets Compassion

I Don't Have Words For This

The race ends in the local cricket stadium and soon enough, I was rounding the final corner and entering through the gates. After a parade lap on the perimeter of the cricket field, I could see the finish line and the race announcer was calling my name over the address system and letting the crowd know I was an American finisher. The stadium lit up with cheers as I made my way to the line.

Coming to the Finish

Done! 9:14:53

I found my way to the International Runners Tent, found my bride, my beer and soft piece of grass to sit down on.

Scene at the International Tent

Happy to Be Reunited

Jo and I relaxed and watched the rest of the race unfold while meeting up with friends as they finished their own races and came into the International tent. This is a race that a lot of runners plan and prepare for during their entire running careers and watching the culmination of that effort is pretty amazing.

We watched from the infield until all our friends made it in, then we walked across the street to watch the final moments of the race on TV, and from the window in our hotel room. Witnessing the final moments of the Comrades Marathon is something we didn't want to miss.

As promised, the finish line was closed at the 12 hour mark and hundreds of runners were shut out. Still on the course and knowing their race is over and their dreams have vanished, you can see the devastating emotions rise up in every runner on the course.

Runners Heading to a Closed Finish Line

I didn't have a goal for this race, so it's not fair for me to say I was disappointed. In fact, I feel quite the opposite. I feel pleased that I was able to battle through a terrible low point and rally my way to the finish. All things considered, I am very satisfied with my finish time and how my race unfolded. It's races like these that inspire confidence in my running and my technical abilities and I need that confidence for my future races.

Jo and I truly love South Africa and we're happy to have had an opportunity to return for this race. I achieved my goal of finishing both courses on back to back years and now it's time to find another international race to fixate on.

Thanks to all my friends and sponsors that have been so gracious and supported Jo and I along the way. Next up...the Bryce 100!

Goodnight Durban

Monday, May 19, 2014

Grand Canyon 100....Uhhhh....50k

2014 seems to be a year of incredible highs and devastating lows for me. That reality is particularly painful when I'm anticipating a high that turns into a soul crushing low. That's pretty much my story of the Grand Canyon 100 mile trail race.

Please follow along so I can take this opportunity to highlight the many ways I can screw up a perfectly good race.

Jo and I made the nearly 8 hour drive from Ogden to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on Friday afternoon, getting to the race headquarters in time for us to get my bib number and set up camp for the night.

Our Version of a Motor Home

Mistake #1- We rushed ourselves and didn't plan the trip as well as we normally do. As a result, I didn't properly fuel myself the night before the race, I was tired and agitated from the trip. Not a good way to start a long and daunting weekend.

Getting Ready to Go

I came into this race with the intention of claiming a podium spot as a worst case scenario, but I was focused on the real possibility of a win. I knew I had some competition, but I was feeling strong, my runs had all gone well and I was ready to battle it out.

Mistake #2- I should never fixate too much on a possible win. This is a lesson I had already learned but I failed to follow. Becoming fixated on a specific goal has a way of bringing on a defeatist attitude when things don't go well (which ALWAYS happens at least once during a 100 mile race). That attitude gets in my head and mental deterioration is quick to follow.

The 50 and 100 mile races started at 6 AM. We gathered around the fire and listened to Matt Gunn give  our final instructions before releasing us to the trail.

When the race started, I dropped into 2nd place and was focused on an easy pace while trying to ignore the runner ahead of me, as well as the throng of runners chasing me. My plan was to get through the first 50 mile loop in good shape, then begin hunting for the lead later in the race.

The race begins with a long, grinding ascent on Forest Service roads, before breaking away onto some rocky, twisting single track. The first trail section is an out-and-back to a lookout on the north rim. The trail was fun and I was having a blast cruising through the sage and juniper.

The Ditch

I saw the leader as he came back toward me and we exchanged a quick word of encouragement as we passed each other. After reaching the outlook, I marked my bib with their marker, as proof that I was there, I spun around and headed out.

This was the best part of my day. I was still in 2nd place so I got to see the entire field as they came to the outlook. Everybody was smiling, giving encouragement and it was clear we were all having a pretty good time.

Things would change soon enough.

I headed back the way I came, hit the first aid station and was directed to a short out-and-back, to another overlook of the canyon. When I got there, I was greeted by a volunteer that offered to take my picture on the rim. I politely refused, made a quick turn and headed back to the aid station. I flew right on by without stopping.

The next stage of the race takes us onto a trail section that hasn't seen a trail runner since Christ was a carpenter. The race crew had found this ancient trail sketched on a piece of parchment paper in some vault in the Forest Service office, then decided to resurrect it for this race. It was narrow, soft and had uneasy footing because of the 12 inches of pine needles and forest mulch that had slowly accumulated since it's well designed abandonment. It was impossible for me to get any speed going on this section and frustration was mounting.

I still had a big lead on the rest of the field, so I opted to take the time to pick my way through this section.

Then the hills started...

They were gradual at first, then I encountered a couple of relentless goat paths. Going down was as time consuming as going up. The footing was so loose that I was sliding more than running, and even hiking was a challenge.

And THIS is where it all unraveled.

While side stepping my way down a steep slope, my downhill leg slid away from me on three consecutive hops. On the third and final slip, a pain shot through my groin. It was sharp and fast. At first I thought nothing of it and I carried on. Once I got to the bottom of the ravine and started running again, I could feel a tugging pain on my left side. Again...I ignored it. As I began to make the steep ascent out of the ravine, the pain became far too much to ignore. I stopped to stretch and massage the area, hoping that would be the end of it. It wasn't. After reaching the top of the climb, I ran again and realized the pain wasn't as bad, but it felt all wrong.

While I was trying to work it out, three runners passed me, leaving me in 5th place. This wasn't a worry because I had ample time to hunt them down. After all, we were only at mile 10.

The next descent and ascent caused the pain to flare up even more. It was then that I realized I was in trouble. There was no doubt that a 100 mile finish was impossible, so I considered dropping down to the 50 miler. After some more hobbling, I realized that even 50 miles was probably not going to happen.

My day was sunk! Rage began to build because of this stupid incident! My plans were shot and I was beside myself with agitation.

Mistake #3- NEVER loose your cool! A lot of things can be worked out and my race probably could have been saved, but my emotions got the better of me. I behaved like a child and it was that behavior that made everything much worse.

 North Rim Single Track

On my way to the Parissawampitts aid station (I prefer calling it Paris Armpits), I had decided to hop onto the 50k loop when it peeled away from the 100 mile course and I planned take that back to the finish line and call it a day. I knew dropping down to the short race would be acceptable to the RD, but it wasn't a decision that sat well with me.

Paris Armpits Aid Station

Kinda Running

Jo was there to meet me and she was already in motion to get me in and out as fast as possible. I slowed her down and explained what had happened and that I had a new plan of action. Not deterred, she still tried to get me out as fast as possible, but I was having none of that. I resigned myself to a crappy day and I had no interest in trying to be the least bit competitive anymore.

I tried to look at the upside and stay positive, but the best I could do was drink a beer and relax for a few minutes. That few minutes turned into 20 as I was enjoying my time on the tailgate.

Mistake #4- I should never have taken my head out of the competition. I wasn't going to win ANY distance, but there was no need to totally throw in the towel.

I eventually hopped back on the trail and headed out for the last 17 miles. I was totally unamused with my situation and only wanted to end this as quickly as possible.

The next five miles of trail were pretty excellent, but I can only acknowledge this after the fact. While I was on the trail, everything was a burdensome pain in the ass and I failed to see the beauty in any of it.

Traversing the North Rim

I was running, hiking, but I wasn't eating. I wasn't replacing my electrolytes like I should have been either. I guess because I felt like I wasn't competing anymore, none of those things really mattered. Without even realizing it, my groin pull was becoming the least of my problems. I was putting myself in a really bad spot without even realizing it.

Mistake #5- I stopped taking care of my nutritional needs because I mentally checked out of competition. This made my day significantly worse.

Stunning View From the Course

My next aid station was coming at mile 20 but I had told Jo to skip it and meet me at the final aid station before the finish. This was probably a good decision because if she had been there, I almost certainly would have crawled into the Land Cruiser and called it a day.

When I got the aid station at mile 20, I realized my fueling mistake and I took the time to rehydrate and get some calories in my body. I had run out of Hammer Peanut Butter gel, so I foraged on fruit to get me energized. I sat at that aid station for about 20 minutes before pushing on.

Mistake #6- I had now burned about 40 minutes sitting in aid stations for no good reason. Again...when I lost my competitive drive, I began making stupid mistakes.

The last 14 miles (yeah, 14 miles...the course was a bit long!) were on dirt roads. The heat of the day was in full effect and I was burning up. There was no meaningful amount of shade for the entire distance and I had to be cautious with my pace for fear of falling back into a dehydrated and depleted condition.

I never thought this section was going to end! I passed the time by leapfrogging with a couple of other runners but nobody was in the mood for idle chit chat. I assumed they were struggling as well.

My groin pain had largely subsided by now, but due to the mismanagement of my race, I wasn't in a good position to be laying down any fast miles.

Coming to the Final Aid Station

I came into the last aid station and didn't linger. Not because I had learned my lesson, but because I really just wanted to go sit down at the finish and process my miserable day. I was in and out in a minute or two. Jo later commented that she knew I was in a miserable place because I refused her offer of an ice cold beer and drank Coke instead. A sure sign that things just aren't right!

The final miles were almost all downhill on a narrow dirt road. I was completely alone, except for the demons haunting my thoughts. I began to realize my failures as my mind lifted from the fog a self pity. I had made so many mental errors that I could barely even recognize that this was a race that I would have executed. I couldn't believe how I had failed myself so miserably.

Mistake #7- I was unable to shake off my mental errors and I beat myself up over them all the way to the finish line. When we run 50 or 100 miles, things tend to go wrong and it's important to process those issues, regroup and move forward. I failed at doing that.

I eventually saw a glimpse of the finish line but it had lost it's typical magnetic pull. I didn't rush towards it with a sense of victory. I jogged toward it with a sense of defeat and self loathing.

I was just happy to have the entire mess behind me.

Coming to the 50k Finish

I directed myself to a nice, shady patch of grass and plopped myself onto it in a rather unceremonious manner. Jo found me a cold beer and I began to share the story of my horrific day on the trail.

It was through the telling of my story that I was able to begin to pinpoint the mental errors and see all the other possibilities for a more favorable outcome. I had become so immersed in my own pity party that I had allowed one small issue to take down my entire race.

I also realized that the groin strain (or whatever it was) had taken me out of contention for a podium spot, so I allowed it to take me entirely out of the race when it shouldn't have. I overreacted to a painful situation and it ruined a day that I had been planning for a long time.

Mistake #8- Ultra running involves pain and I failed to accept that for some reason. I bowed out at the first sign of imperfection.

Through the course of the race, I made eight major mistakes and probably a dozen minor ones. But the upside is that I clearly recognize them, have accepted them and I will learn from them. From this, I will be a better runner.

Taking a 50k finish in a 100 mile race is nothing I have ever done, nor is something I ever hope to do again, but it could have been much worse.

My greatest regret is not embracing the course the way I should have. When I got into a funky mood, I wrongfully ignored the beauty and serenity surrounding me. I count that as my biggest regret because that's a large reason why I'm out there to begin with. I lost that vision because my mind was clouded and muddled with all the wrong things.

Matt Gunn and his crew did an amazing job with this race and I'm sure it's going to be a popular event in the coming years. I know I'll be back next year so I can do it right next time.

Thanks for sharing in my failures as readily as you do my successes. It means a lot to me! I hope to see you all out on the trail soon!