Monthly Archives: July 2012

Post Marathon Blues

Well, that did not take very long!

The post race blues have hit. I’m antsy, bored, and frustrated.

And tired.  Perhaps the 10K around the block yesterday wasn’t the best idea.  Coupled with a misinterpreted email, that didn’t mean what I thought it meant, was a light night of sleep.  My cashier told me about one hour before my shift ended “that I looked really tired.”

Thanks.  I felt very tired.  After lunch, the food just hit me and I was glad to get out of work.

The “post recovery marathon blues” articles instruct me that I should have had a “post run” plan in place.

Well, that would have involved the gods goodwill that I didn’t fall off Grant Swamp Pass or Oscar’s or Virginius and returned to the East in one piece.  I was serious when I told people at work about falling off a cliff.

So what’s on the plan for the future?

Well, so much for my plan of NOT.DOING.NOTHING. I’ve perused a list of 100 mile races for the fall.

Nothing has really got my attention.  Well, I have one scenario.  To be announced later.

Fall  (and late summer) Plans:

YUTC Volunteer/Familiarization Run August 4.  First time back on the Mill Creek Park since the Monkey Hill Marathon..of last year.

North Country Trail Run 50 Miler August 25.  Somewhere in Michigan. I signed up for this race, like one year ago.  Before HR.  I ended up with a comp entry.  So this is my first race post HR.  And it’s a 50 miler.

I’m very apathetic about this race. 

50 milers are not my forte.  But, it’s after HR. And not at elevation.  I should plan on finishing this under the cut off.  I should find out where this is, in Michigan.  Maybe get a hotel room, if any are still available.
Or get ready to hang my hammock and blue tarp out there somewhere.

The Ring-Labor Day Weekend-can’t make it this year.  This makes me very sad.  My first taste of the MMT rocks was the Ring Weekend.

Groundhog 50K– another great 50K.  I can’t run it, since I am working that Saturday, in order to have the next Saturday off.

YUTC– our club run!!  I finagled Friday off, before the race. That will allow me and Coach Hanks to mark the course.  Saturday, September 15  is the date of the YUTC.   Eight years of the race. I won’t be running it, just working the Aid Station at the Log Cabin.

Akron Marathon?  I should find out when this this the year they changed the course?  Maybe I should run a back to back on the Zoar Valley Trail, instead.

Slim Pickins-our club weekend of Fat Assness, in November.  This year we are going to Cooper’s Rock, in WV.

URINEO-December 22.  Our next club FA.  I’m planning on 50 miles this year.

SO, yes, I do have some plans for the fall, but it’s just “fairly normal” activity, no great epicness in the works.  Maybe that is my problem, coming back to “fairly normalcy” after my big HR trip.

So, at least typing out this post gives me several ideas to peruse..maybe not future epicness, but maybe just some plain trail fun..

Hardrock Race Report 2012 Part 2

The Road out of Telluride

I get lost in Telluride.  I carefully follow the orange ribbons out of the AS, turn right, and come to the main street intersection in town. I look forward, left, right.  I do not see any ribbons.  I look some more.

I cross the street, look for ribbons.  I whip out my printed course description for this section, it doesn’t reference the town.  I am very frustrated.

A Telluride Marshall vehicle pulls up.  I tell him I am in “the Race” and does he know where I need to go?
He points down the road: “That’s the only way out of town..”  I am shaking my head, manage to thank him and now RUN back to the Aid Station, at least it’s only a few minutes back.

I was pretty upset when I got back to the AS, another runner commented on it, so I hope I was not really rude.  My friends, who came through Telluride much earlier, were surprised at my problem.  “There was a person directing us..”  Well, not for the back of the pack, there was not. And yes, it was because I was a rookie.  Anyone else would have known where to go.

A very nice man walked me out of town-all I had to do was go forward, crossing the street, and up one more block there was orange ribbon-which I could not see from the corner.  I thanked him, and started on my climb up to Virginius.

Kroger’s Canteen

Now I am climbing, on my way to the most coolest Aid Station in the Ultra World-Kroger’s Canteen
From the Manual:  ” VIRGINIUS PASS-KROGERS CANTEEN. Pass #4. Cornice, Acrophobia, Exposure. Chuck Kroger and Kathy Greene started this aid station in 1992 and since then dedicated crews from Telluride backpack supplies into here for a minimal aid station. Chuck became a regular participant/finisher of the Hardrock before succumbing to pancreatic cancer in December 2007.”

This is a little, small bench, at 13,000 feet.  The volunteers climb in with their supplies and spend all day there.

But first  I have to get there.  I’m really trying to move a bit quicker, as it is starting to move on toward the evening, and I would REALLY like to get down off Virginius before nightfall.

Okay, I am also there! I summit, and don’t see..anybody!  Where’s the Aid Station?  And WHY does the trail go downhill…over there?

I am only at Mendota Saddle!  I am not there yet!  Argh!  I make sure I spot a marker as I again move forward..yep, still on the course, and not to Kroger’s yet.  It’s about one mile to the real summit.  The AS is kind of hidden behind rocks, but I get a cheer as I finally appear!

The guys instruct me to take a seat next to Andrew (I think that is his name) another runner, tucked under a tarp, and they swiftly serve me a cup of soup.  It is so cool to be up here, but I only stay five minutes, and the guys give me instructions on how to get down.

So, see the top of that ridge?  We have to go DOWN all this.  Now, in the dark.

The guys tell me there is a switchback trail right in front of me for the first pitch, then tell me to stay right of the snowbank for the second pitch.  I don’t remember what they recommended for the rest.

Many times this area is a total snowfield, and I can see where a snowfield would make it much easier to go down.

Headlamp on, I go down this loose screee on what I think is the trail.  I am pretty much petrified.  I’ve got both hands on the ground and both feet.  Occassionally I add my ass to the ground too.  I keep telling myself “take your time, take your time”  you can’t finish the race if you are dead.

I get to the second pitch.  Ok, just going slow.  I get to one part, where I can see a runner’s headlamp way below…how do I get THERE?  Am I on a trail?  It’s almost vertical now.  Am I on the trail/course, or am I heading for the edge of a cliff?  I honestly can’t tell, but I don’t want to have to climb back up a cliff.

Once I get to somewhat flat ground, I am just stoked!  Now that I have lived through that descent, all is good in my world!

We hiked and drove this section, so I knew what to expect for the road section.  I got through Governor’s Baisin AS, and then got down the very long road, the road to Ouray.  

Ouray-Hot Hot Hot

As I descended, to the lowest point on the course, it was growing increasing more warm and humid.  Humid?  This is Colorado, it’s not supposed to be humid! 
I get to Ouray, and take care of business.  I dump my AS bag out on a picnic table, a little to the AS workers dismay-I’m supposed to be in a chair, or in the tent, with better light.
Oh well, my stuff is here now.  I change socks, get some bandaids, and then duct tape my toe. I eat and drink some Coke.  I talk to Brian McNeil, who is dropping due to an injury.
Okay, I decide it’s time to go.  It’s so warm here!

I am with Larry and his pacer, Heather, but I have to let them pass me. I’m not climbing well, (I’m so hot) and I have to stop for a bathroom break.  I’m already thirsty, why didn’t I drink more water at the AS instead of Coke?

I finally get to the tunnel, at 550, the Million Dollar Highway, and now I am on familiar ground again. We climbed this section the other day before the race. The pics below are from that day.

About as close to the edge as I was going to get.

  See the drop off?  Yes, it’s a long ways down.

But now it’s after midnight. I’m alone. I’m pretty tired, and  I’m hot and thirsty.  But I don’t want to drink the contents of my water bladder down too soon.
 Wow, this precarious section of trail seems to go on for a long time.  I’m moving very slowly. I’ve picked up my trekking poles in Ouray and they are helpful.  But I am very careful and slow here.  This section was much quicker in the daylight when we were fresh!

I know we are going to hit a trail sign with a marker on how far it is to Engineer. I’m afraid it’s going to say 4.5 miles.  I want it to say 2 miles, but that doesn’t seem to be the right number in my head.  I’m tired and I want to cry.  I need to eat, but nothing seems good.  I chomp into my Payday bar. Did I mention I was tired? A line of a song comes to mind:  “You can’t stay here.”  There is no choice.  I could go back to Ouray, OR I can move forward. That’s the choice. I can’t stay here and whine.

I climb and climb, slow and slow. Now it’s getting light out.  So much for worrying about getting across the Engineer’s Pass in the dark with my brand new $$ Fenix light.  Now all I am concerned about is finding the Engineer AS.  I am getting punch drunk.  I need a nap.  My energy level is pretty much red-lining zero.

They are unexpectedly, at tree level.  And while I am hot, standing there, I start to get chilled with the early morning wind.  I eat two cups of soup.  Handfuls of chips, but still not many calories.  I am very dispirited to hear I have a 1.5 mile climb up to the road, then a 5.5 mile downhill.  How will I get up that climb?

I leave the Engineer AS.  Now the wind is hitting me.  I stop to pull on the tights that I quibbled over carrying.  I took off my rain jacket and donned my wool top, and then put on my rain jacket, tobaggon, and gloves over my fingerless gloves, it was that cold.

This is where the lack of sleeping really hit me.  I was staggering up the mountain.  I finally got to a point where the sun was hitting the ground on the mountain, and I laid down, among the flowers, for a nap.

I made it six minutes, before I jerked away, shaking.  It was too cold to stay here. “You can’t stay here.”   So I hobbled uphill.    Slower and slower.  All I wanted to do was lay down, just for a nap.  But it was too cold.

I have to go UP THERE?? I can see little tiny runner figures up there. I’m brain dead at this point. You can’t stay here. You must go to Grouse Gulch.  But you need a nap, Kimba.  You can’t go on without some rest.

Finally, I get to the road. There is no respite. The wind is worse here. I now have the hood to my rain jacket up, and zipped up to my nose.  I’m moving down the road. I have to, I’m already very chilled, I need to keep moving.  There’s no resting here.

I’m finally moving down out of elevation.  I’ve got 5.5 miles to go.  What was the cut off time? 10.50.  I’ve got plenty of time. But I need to nap.  I can’t function.  I’m barely moving down the road (it seems), tripping over rocks.

I try, on three or four occasions, to find a rock in the sunlight and curl up and sleep on.  But I either have to pee or get dizzy. I can’t get comfortable.

And time is bleeding away.  I know I have Grouse Gulch, and then Handies (the 14’er) to climb.  But can I do this in the time allowed?  I have to nap. I cannot climb Handies and not time out without a nap.  But can I get to GG AS and still nap?

Time bleeds away as I walk down the road. I’m still weighing my decision in my head, drop or time out? Back and forth, back and forth. I cry a bit. I’m so tired.  I just want to sleep. But this is Hardrock.  But there is no way I can get over Handies and not time out.  I’m so pissed at myself for quitting. But I am out of time.  Maybe I could just stay out on the course and just…time out.

No. If you are going to quit, then quit. Don’t pussy out and then come up with the lie “well, I just timed out, what can you do…”   Did I mention I am so sleep deprived?  I can’t function straight. I’m tripping on rocks. When did I eat last?  On the climb to Engineer Pass?

Now I can see the AS below.  But now it’s 10 am! And the AS is nowhere near!  I start to walk faster. I’m not sure if I have made up my mind, as I keep checking my watch, as this frigging road goes on forerver.  I don’t seem to be any closer.  Now it’s 1015. Then 1020.   Any sort of time margin for a nap is going straight out the window, as now I seem more concerned about tackling Handies. 

And now, look at the clouds over the drainage toward Handies.  What about those, Kimba?  You got time for a nap AND to sit out/evaluate those storm clouds?

I’m so dead. I can’t even think straight at this point.

And this is where the dune buggies and jeep caravans went by.. Thanks all, let me just stand here, with my back to you, and bleed more minutes off my little clock.. I was pretty irritated when I got to the Grouse Gulch AS.

“I’m dropping”   I announce..and start crying.

I instantly get the sympathy (which I do not want, but that’s just my curmudgeonly self, which my NEO TC peeps understand)  ” good job, 65 miles, you did great”..  


Well, aftermath is probably best left for a future post.  I wasn’t hurt or injured.  I did some pretty basic Ultrarunning mistakes:  I got into a calorie deficit; then had hydration issues; which along with a course kicking my ass, just drained me of my will to continue.  I would put the sleep deprivation up there as my main obstacle to rationally think forward to continue.  I should have slept; I should have ate more, at the AS, and I should have carried more calories in my pack to eat.

I have to say I’ve been bitten by Hardrock.  It’s the most difficult thing I have ever attempted.  But now I have some knowledge, of what I have gotten into. I know what to work on now, and know some of the course.

I may enter the 2013 lottery, but I already promised not to run it.  So that leaves 2014 and later dates open..and 2014 would be another clockwise direction again..

Hardrock Race Report 2012 Part One

I am sitting in the bleachers at the Silverton Gym, watching the festivities around me. On one hand, it’s a bit surreal; I am running in the HR 2012.  On the other hand, it’s a typical ultra.  Fit people wandering around, some sitting quietly, others laughing and talking.

In the *very* short bathroom line for the ladies, one runner says “half the female field is in here!”  (Only 17 females started HR).

About five minutes to go, I hug Slim and go  outside.

It’s an ultra.  No real defined starting line.  In fact, I glance at my watch, two minutes to go, we’re all still gaggled around.

But Dale is climbing up on The Rock, and we count down to zero, and we are off right on time.

I walk out of town, in the very back, with ten or so others.

We come to the famous river crossing in the first mile or so.  NOW it seems like Hardrock.  Photographers are out, the small groups of supporters/crew are on the sides of the Million Dollar Highway; Dave Horton smiles and wishes me well.

South Mineral Creek is very low, but the rope is there.  I cross the creek, water only to maybe mid-calves, and then we runners are off!

The first 11 miles is nice, a warm up.  We’re all fresh. I’m in the back of the pack with famous people, like the Peros (Deb and Steve) and Hans Dieter.  We come along on various people hiking, taking pictures, and Hans and Steve are hailed and greeted.

We climb the Kamm Traverse.  I can see the South Mineral Wells Campground, and even our site where we camped out last week.  It’s strangely comfortable to see familiar sites.

Grant Swamp Pass to Chapman AS

I am relieved to get through KT Aid Station. I did not time out.  I had been a bit worried about being so slow that I would be eliminated first from the HR course.
I did have with me a pace card and cut offs for the 48 hour pace.  I did not have any times memorized and nor was I looking at my watch.
I was running/walking/hiking/climbing at my pace.  Having never been on the course before, I found it impossible to guestimate any sort of times between AS. I had resolved to go at my pace, and hope it was going to be fast enough to make the cut offs at HR.

I have heard that Grant Swamp Pass is a bear. And indeed, it is.  On our way to the summit, it’s almost impossible to ascend.  I pull on my gloves.  Now I am using both my hands and feet to literally crawl up the slope, almost on all fours.

I hear Steve yell for Drew to grab a stone, and I know we are almost at the top! I grab a stone and tuck it into to arm warm sleeves, now well around my wrists, and summit.  I place my stone on the cairn at the Joel Zucker memorial, and take a quick look around.

NOW I have to descend Grant Swamp!  This is my first scree field to encounter. Dobies has told me to stay out of the middle, as it’s almost devoid of scree. I start down the right hand side, and kick rocks on Hans Dieter below. (Sorry Hans!!)  After much yelling at me, I try the left hand side.  In fact, if left alone, I think I could have descended much quicker.

For anyone not familiar with scree,it’s just loose rock, mainly shale. And when I say loose rock, that means you take a step, and you might sink down a foot, and the mountain slides with you, downhill.  I watched one HR veteran literally ski down the hill on his feet, in about 10 seconds.
It took me a long time, trying to maintain 4 or 5 points (two hands, two feet, sometimes my ass) on the ground.

Here is a short video from Matt Hart, taken in June  before the race:

By the time I hit the big rocks at the bottom, our little line of runners was gone.  I knew there were 3 or so runners behind me, but now our little band was all spread out.  The next aid station is Chapman, on a nice wooded downhill trail, with lots and lots of bacon!

It starts to rain as I arrive.  Scott and Jim arrive right after me, and Scott takes the chair that I decline.  Food is great here, big pieces of bacon, tator tots, and soup! I even get a “to go” baggie of tots and bacon.

There is a rumble of thunder as I slurp soup under the tent, but we are way down at 10,000 feet, well under the tree line.  I decide I will start the climb to Oscar’s Pass, as I still have a huge climb. If the weather gets worse, I can always wait the storm out in the trees.

Note on the weather:  storms come up daily and frequently in the mountains,  usually starting in the late morning and early afternoon.  One of the reasons HR has a 48 hour cut off is runner safety; in case you need to spend a few hours hunkered down, trying to outwait a storm.  Storms refer to lightning, hail, sideways rain/hail, or all of the above.

It did start to hail on me, on this long climb.  I just slung my rain jacket over my head and draped it over my shoulders, over the pack, rather than wearing it.  It was still pretty warm and I did not want to over heat on the long climb up Oscar’s Pass.

Steve Pero  had mentioned this was his least favorite climb of the race, so I was curious to see exactly what that meant.  Well, it’s a long climb. A real long climb.

Oscar Pass, photo by Blake Wood

Partway up, there is a sign that says, “no mechanized vehicles” past this point..and the sign was put up in 1961.  Now, I can’t imagine someone driving something back in the fifties up this far.  But there apparently is/was a mine up here.

We climb up to about 13,000 feet.  The trail is just nasty rough rocks…that goes on and on UP AND UP.  I resolve to never complain about Signal Knob rocks again.  I contemplate becoming a 1/2 marathon runner..

Jim, a HR veteran, passes me, and  gives me encouragement that we are almost at the top.  And soon, we are!  We hug and he tells me it’s a 7 mile downhill to the town of Telluride.

It Takes All Day to go to Telluride

I don’t remember (until later) that this is where the re-route occurred for both the 2011 and 2012 HR race due to some property dispute.  All I remember is, it seemed to take forever to get to the town of Telluride.

I’m also worried (unduly) about cut offs, but I won’t dip into my pocket and check the times.  It is what it is.  I am going at my pace, and that will have to work for me.  Or it won’t.

Man, it takes a long time to get to Telluride.
 You go around a curve, and you can see it!! Town below!! But you are still way up there..and town is way down there…

Despite my worry about cut offs, I did have to stop on the road to take a picture of Bridal Veil Falls…this is not my picture, I am hoping my SD Chip surfaces at some point, as I did carry the camera on the run!

I get to the bike path. Great! I’m almost there..right?  It goes on and on. I finally reach the Aid Station, well over the time when I thought I would make it to the Aid Station.

But I am still really good with cut offs to Ouray, so I am heartened!

65 Miles At Hardrock

Hey all,
it’s been a busy two days here in Silverton, haven’t had a chance to update on here.

I dropped at Mile 65, the Grouse Gulch Aid Station.

I’m okay with that, but I am still disapointed.   I really don’t subscribe to the “way to go, you did 65 miles, that’s awesome” mind set.  Because the race is 100 Miles.  If this had been the Hardrock 65, then I would be satsified.

But, on the other hand, this is Hardrock.  Hardest thing I have ever done.  Hardest run (it’s not a race) I’ve ever done.

Never encountered mountains like these before.

Never glissaded down a loose bed of shale (called scree)  down a mountain.  Never looked over a rock ledge wondering if I was on trail or at the edge of a cliff.

Never had several moments of sheer terror on a trail-which, once I lived and got down safely, found it awesome!

Never went from being overheated and hypothermic in the same hour.

I’ve got no epic tale of woe or drama for dropping.

What happened to me can happen to anyone in an ultra.

I got behind in calories.  5 miles to the next aid station might mean you have to climb a 12 or 13,000 foot mountain in between.  Also got behind on water, which helped with the energy deficit.

The wheels started falling off around Ouray, mile 40. I had a big climb, and was way behind in calories and water.  By the time I made Engineer Aid Station, the sleep deprivation kicked in. 

I made it to Grouse Gulch, mile 65, with about 20 minutes to the cut off.  But I needed a nap, and had to climb Handies Peak, a 14’er (14000 foot mountain) next.  I decided to drop there, rather than time out on the other side of Handies, which would have taken me a very long time to climb.

I’ll write a nice detailed report later this week complete with pictures.

I won’t be back next year, but I am definitely wanting to get my Hardrock finish.  It’s just almost hard to relate, the situations and conditions.  It is certainly as advertised:  “WILD AND TOUGH”.

Calm Before the Storm

Well, I hope there are no storms!

Just sitting here on the deck on our house in Silverton, looking at some beautiful mountains, feeling absolutely calm and at peace at the moment.  I’m sure that will change soon, but right now I’m calm, serene, cool, ready to go.

The drop bags are packed, and labelled.   My bib number is # 169, in case you want to check in every now and then this weekend.  It’s a 48 hour run,  (it’s not a race) so you’ve got plenty of time to go run yourself, eat dinner, go to bed, get up,  have breakfast, and then check in on me again.

We take drop bags over to the Silverton High School gym soon, and have our mandatory runner meeting at noon.  Then there is a pasta dinner at 530 pm, so I will attend that and then return to chill out and make sure clothing and last minute gear is ready to go.

I did not mention I do have a pacer for at least one section of trail.  Mike Dobies, a 9 time Hardrock finisher, is going to pace me from Ouray to..wherever he wants.  Mike has been coming off injuries.  He was originally in the Run this year, but not in shape enough for the whole Run.  I was very happy and relieved to have such a veteran to share trail with.  It’s a good carrot for me to get my butt to Ouray and then pick him up.

Well, folks, what else to say?  There might be a blog post later, but I doubt it. 

I will see you on the other side of this most epic WONDERFUL adventure!!!