Wasatch Part 2. The Aftermath.

No you didn’t miss anything, and no, I didn’t lose the ability to logically order number sequences.  I ran yesterday; for the third time since Wasatch, the third time in the last month.  Yesterday was a short jaunt, a 6 mile run from Brighton up to Sunset Peak, but it brought me back to the last time I was on the trail. Combined with today’s additional return to the scene of the crime, with a ride up to gain the ridge and on the Wasatch Crest, I finally understood that I needed to tell this part of the story first.  First, before I could put words to a race report.

An after the fact, fyi: Wasatch screwed up my ITBands pretty bad.

I’ve spent 3 out of the past 4 weeks growing patience in recovery.  I walked away from Wasatch, making plea bargains with my IT Bands, telling them if they let me finish, that I wouldn’t even try to run for a few weeks.  Little did I know how close to the truth this would be.  I spent the first two weeks making peace with this, if I didn’t run now, I could run later. Week number 3, to be honest, was stressful at work and even more stressful on me.  When you stop moving, your body becomes cranky in ways that your brain can’t comprehend.  With much relief, 3 weeks and 5 hours after I started Wasatch, I ran almost 2.5 miles around the local park.  A week of being sick derailed other plans, but about 4 weeks and a few hours shy of finishing Wasatch, I returned to scene of the crime.

I left the Brighton parking lot and headed up towards Catherine’s Pass… it was a cold crisp day, about 45 F, and not all that much warmer than when I left Brighton a month earlier.  That, however, felt incredibly close to zero.  This time, I ran up the trail.  I felt incredibly slow.  Painfully reminded that I had been reduced to almost no physical activity and on and off sickness for the past month; turns out there’s not a whole lot of oxygen at 10,000′.  But I was able to run!  My withdrawl symptoms slowly vanished and every footstep brought back a memory of all my training runs.

My bike ride today was much the same.  Brian and I rode The Crest, another not-so-subtle reminder that I haven’t done anything for a month (and I’m “racing” my bicycle for 6 hours next weekend!? (wtf!)).  Despite feeling out of sync with my bike, I needed that day in the mountains.  The route of travel was in reverse from what I covered in Wasatch, and the mountains glowing with the screaming yellow of Aspen trees, a contrast from hollow black night, only lit by the moon, that Jenny and I plodded through a month ago.  Still I could see the race in perspective, the gusting winds from Scott’s Pass Aid, the leftover campfire at Desolation, the top of the first climb out of blunder fork where Jenny had told me we were almost done climbing.

As I got into that ride, similar to getting into that run, I emerged and found myself for the first real time after the race.  There was something there still, more running, hiking, more freedom and the capacity to get lost in the mountains. Wasatch was this… The ability to set your mind to something and to be able to pick yourself up time after time to get there. The discovery that I had completed this huge distance, right here in my backyard, and there was still so much more to cover.  Then, finally, the realization that your body might trust you to let yourself go back out there again and allow you to put words to a 33 hour void.  Saturday, as I ran past Catherine’s  and gravitated towards Sunset Peak (maybe more aptly named Sunrise?), I found expression and gratitude for every little step, every little battle, I took coming out of Brighton that morning 4 weeks prior.

Second Sunrise (Photo credit Eric Dacus)


“Oh! The Places You’ll Go!”

It is less than 24 hours before Wasatch and the now the date that seemed like it would never get here a mere two weeks ago is here and my entire summer feels like a blur! I am lucky and honored to have Adele, Spike, KelKel and Zimm1 and Zimm2 from Team Mountain Goats Ate My Pants out here to support me.  I have collected 2 out of the 5 and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the rest of them.  I am having a very hard time sitting still today!

I didn’t have the ideal taper, with a sprained ankle, the flu and a sinus infection; but after a week doing very little in one of the greatest places ever, I am feeling ready to go.

As I envision running towards my second sunrise, I keep hearing words from “Oh! The Places You’ll Go!” in my head… Everyone uses this as the career/graduation motivating speech, but I know that Dr. Seuss was really an ultra runner at heart.  I was trying to pick the most apt bits to summarize, but the poem in its entirety is just too perfect.  So, with a respectful reference to my favorite childhood author, here’s a read of “Oh! The Place You’ll Go” (copied and pasted from a random internet post). My mountains are waiting, time to get on my way!

Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You’ll look up and down streets. Look ’em over with care.
About some you will say, “I don’t choose to go there.”
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you’ll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you’ll head straight out of town.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along.
You’ll start happening too.


You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don’ t
Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so
but, sadly, it’s true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,
you’re not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.
A place you could sprain both you elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…
or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you’ll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place…

…for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You’ll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

Except when they don’t.
Because, sometimes, they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times
you’ll play lonely games too.
Games you can’t win
’cause you’ll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance
you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike
and I know you’ll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You’ll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life’s
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3 / 4 percent guaranteed.)


be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!

Speedgoat 50(ish)K Wrap Up

Finally getting around to telling you about Speedgoat…   But first, it is 23 days, 8 hours and 21 minutes until Wasatch.  I am running the biggest week of my life this week and I am afraid it might actually kill me.

On to Speedgoat: I keep trying to motivate with pictures, but the software on my iPhone doesn’t focus on far away objects very well, so it lets go of the focus immediately before it takes the picture.  Please bear with my attempt to make the pictures look not quite so terrible, because the content itself, is fairly spectacular.  In summary, I “ran” faster than last year… I’m not sure, but it may have been longer than last year (multiple GPS recordings in the 33.6ish mile range), I felt much stronger than last year and it was harder and more fun! For real awesome photos you can look at the pretty flowers or at Tom Martens Pure Light Gallery. For my brief tour… scroll down

We wound our way, basking in the view, soaking in the morning light on Superior…

Up, up, up, all the way into the talus field that is the summer form of Little Cloud Bowl

Amazingly (and a million thank yous to everyone who did trail formation here) there was a smooth line of switchbacks all the way up.

Then it was over Hidden Peak and a dive down into Mineral Basin.  Without warning I looked up and was almost swimming in a sea of brilliant colors; wildflowers abound!  This is why I run!

After a bobble down into Pacific Mine and long stretch of slogging back up, we caught the ridge back towards Snowbird, full of green and flowery meadows and stark naked peaks. No snow to be found on course this year!

Then mile 23 takes you up Baldy… no sane person would ever pick this line up to that ridge.  Then again, no sane person would probably do this race.

And just in case you thought you got off easy, a drop down Peruvian Gulch gives you the chance to climb back up Cirque Traverse!

And then it was a speedy glissade down LIttle Cloud

Oooops!  Wait, that was last year.  This year involved a sloppy bobble back down the talus field and then a quad thrashing descent back to Creekside.  I took over an hour off my time and still made it to a wedding looking fairly respectable.

The End!

PS- I’ll be back next year and next year I’m out for speed!

Ultra Running Makes for an Expensive Date: A Case for Gummy Worms

I am attempting to source out my Gu supply for Wasatch.  The last time I was at REI, purchasing 12 or more energy products so that I could get them to take 20% off the price that was marked up 20%, it occurred to me that I would probably need to source at least 36 Gu’s along with several other thousand calories for this race.

At one point in my running career, I remember Gu used to cost about $0.55 each, this is no longer the case.  In today’s reality, you’re lucky to find Gu, shy of $1.45.  At 100 calories, that is a whopping 68 calories per dolar.  Fairly pricy, I believe even Sushi is cheaper than that.  Looking at every discount vender I could find for bulk cases, they drop down to about $1.25 if you’re lucky… but it still inspired me to do some math.

Gu: 100 calories / $1.45 = 68 calories per dollar

5 lb. bag of Black Forest Gummy Worms: $7.99, for 2268 g (5 lb) of gummy worms

at 130 Calories / 38 g for 2268 g; that’s 60 servings per bag at 130 calories per serving gives 7758 Calories for $7.99 …

which brings us to 971 calories per dollar in gummy worms!

… if only gummy worms were easier to carry.

On Things With Four Legs, Two Goofy Ears and A Heart Bigger Than The Pacific Ocean

I’ve been trying to jot down a Speedgoat post-run write-up, but that’s going slower than expected (partially because my crappy iPhone has some miscommunication with its camera software and all my gorgeous pictures are out of focus, but that’s a story for the actual post).  With that I’ll drift towards the purity of trail running itself.

I’ve been embraced this 100-mile training with a mindset of it being something I love to do… as the miles have worn me down with the longer and longer runs during the awful heat we’ve had this summer, I have realized that some of this is what I love to do.  In reality, I am doing this because I really want to, because I want a belt buckle and I want the challenge.  The other half of reality is that the training is a challenge, but the challenge isn’t what has worn me down; the miles that I can no longer run with Tele are wearing me down.  I have spent so much of this summer away from my puppy, away from the best trail running partner there is because training for 100 is too much for her.  So while I am happy to take on the challenge, I can say that I don’t know that I’ll do it again because I’d rather be running with my dog.

This past week, some very good friends recently lost their first dog, Chester, way too soon and it’s breaking my heart.  Last year, another good friend lost the first best yellow lab to walk the earth and not too long before that we lost the dog I grew up with.  Chester, Shasta, Java, Bimbi, Calle, Iza, Kora, Tashi, Scruffy and Tele they have all joined me on many a trail run.  Chester was my first real trail running buddy, and I know, bears that name to many others in the lives she’s touched.  It sounds like she had a fantastic trail run shortly before the end.

There’s something magic about being able to share your run with a dog.  You’re hardly ever too fast for them, and when you are, you don’t stress out about slowing down.  You’re always too slow for them, but they never seem to care.  When you’re having a bad day, they just grin and give you infinite energy; and when you’re having a really bad day, they don’t care if you stop and walk or even sit and throw snowballs for them for a while.  They never cary a watch and don’t really mind if you go 2 miles or 10.  They teach you honesty, and humility, they push their limits as far as they can go and inspire you to do the same.  It’s really hard for me to not want to go on my run when I have a face like this waiting for me at home.

It’s even harder for me to leave her behind for a 30-40 mile training run in 90+ degree heat.  Dogs are lights in our lives who, for better or worse, burn their candles brightly… at both ends.  I am grateful for the short, but wonderful time I get to share with them.

Chester, thank you for all the runs, and for thoroughly cleaning the sunscreen off me after each of them.  You will be missed.

What she said…

I told Adele that I was waiting on her post so that I could just post a picture and defer to her commentary; turns out she didn’t whine about the miserableness of flat, bland and runable trails as much I wanted her to.  Instead of just continuing to throw myself a pity party, I’ll sum up the weekend as a great weekend with friends and an opportunity for some mental re-balancing on the whole running a 100-miler plan.

Greeting Adele for her first 50K finish (No, she didn’t take me up on the beer, but I offered!)

But… Adele and Toberer ran their first (and maybe last) 50K races and they also didn’t blame me for any of that nonsense.  Always fun to share in the misery and fun with friends and to see them set out for huge goals!   I camped with great friends and didn’t catch on fire while visiting CO or driving back amidst the inferno going on in the West right now.  Next official battle is Speedgoat at the end of the month and I am hoping I can get some fluidity back in my runs again before then.