Monday, November 8, 2010

Runnin' in the Desert

I'm not sure what it was. The heavy work weeks I've been putting in, the turmoil of my personal life, the impending winter, or just the fact that it's been too long since I've dedicated a weekend to running, but I had felt a strong urge last Monday morning to just jump in my truck and drive away and run for a few days. Unfortunately, I had to wait all week, but come 5:00 pm on Friday evening I was headed to Fruita and Moab for a weekend of fun.

I decided to drive to Fruita on Friday night. The drive down was pretty uneventful. Like any good mother, my mom met me on my way out of town to drop of a loaf of pumpkin bread and a 6-pack of beer. After 4 hours of driving and some serious dashboard drumming I stopped of at Highline State Park for the night. I made my bed in the back of the truck, had a beer and called it a night.

One of my favorite things about road-trip adventures like these is driving into a place in the dead of night and waking up and checking out the crazy surroundings.

The View greeting me Saturday Morning

I stopped off for a cup of coffee in Loma before heading to the Kokopelli/Mary's Loop Trail system along the Colorado River. I sat around in the truck duding to CCR, and holding and smelling my coffee for a while before heading off. It was a chilly morning but it quickly heated up as I meandered along along the river. This trail system is quite popular with the MTB crowd, but luckily I only really ran into a handful all day. I basically worked my way around the canyons, climbing higher and higher. The picture below shows the majority of the trials that made up my morning.

Overlooking the Colorado River. Contemplating the day ahead.

Fall in Fruita

The trails that occupied my morning

I arrived back at the trailhead after about 4 hours of running. I'm guessing I ran about 20 Miles, not setting any records, but I stopped several times along the way to enjoy the scenery. I was surprised to see upwards of 40 cars at the TH (opposed to 3 when I left). I have no idea where all of those people could have been, but I'll consider myself lucky to have avoided the crowd.

After a drinking beer, red bull, coke, and a protein shake, I jumped in the car and headed to Moab. I decided to take the scenic route, as I was in no real hurry. I'm glad I did. The leaves are still changing down there. It made for some pretty stellar views and photo ops.
The View from the canyon driving into Moab

I drove straight to the Dead Horse Point State Park; a small extension of the Canyonlands National park to the north. I threw a stove, a beer, a pot and some food into my pack and headed off on a sunset/dinner run. I'll let the pictures do the talking, but it's a must visit if you go to the Moab area.
Quite a view for a picnic dinner

A runner's sunset

More Dead Horse Point

I got back to the truck just before dark, drove into Moab, and stopped off at the brewery for a beer (or two) and some cheese fries before driving down into the Kane Springs Canyon for the night. The scene when I woke up was again pretty amazing.
Kane Creek Camping

When I got to the trailhead a biker was just returning fro an early morning ride. He warned be of a 'cat' sighting, but seeing as I'd put on a good 10 lbs since Leadville, I figured I was big enough to scare any predators off.

I was going to try to run up the Gatherer canyon, into the Hunter canyon and the crossover into the Pritchett Canyon, stop by the Pritchett Arch, and then follow the infamous Pritchett Canyon 4X4 road back to the TH. Started down the Kane Creek road looking for the unmarked turnoff to Gatherer Canyon. I saw some dudes parachuting off the canyon walls, pretty crazy stuff. I'm guessing it's illegal stuff as well, since they had their parachutes packed up in a matter of seconds after landing.

I saw a decently weathered turnoff and decided that it was my spot. Up a canyon I went. 45 minutes later I found myself high up a canyon wall with no real foreseeable way down. This would be a trend for the day. I backtracked a bit and tried a different route. I repeated that about 3 times until I finally found a reasonable route down the canyon (still not one that my mother would have approved of...). When I got to the bottom, I found myself on a 4X4 road. After looking at a map for too long, I decided I must have turned off too soon, and traversed some unnamed canyon and was now sitting somewhere on the Pritchett Canyon Road. I decided to reverse the intended direction of my run and headed south towards the arch and Hunter Canyon. That 4X4 road is insane. There were spots that were mind boggling. I'm talking 4-5 foot rock walls. I stole a picture from the webernet showing one of the spots. There were a good 5-6 sections of this road where you could just smell the grease, rubber, and oil carnage from past 4X4 excursions.

Whoopsie Daisie

I ran along this road for a good 6-7 miles until I again found myself somewhat lost. In reality I was being exceptionally stupid, but in the end I probably ran a good 2-3 miles back and forth on some trails and road until I convinced myself I knew where I was. Then in true Ryan fashion I managed to drop my map somewhere along the way. Eventually I made my way to the Pritchett Arch. Its a pretty cool, exposed Arch in the middle of nowhere. I was tempted to scramble up and over onto the top of the arch, but chickened out halfway up, while imagining myself with a broken leg in the middle of nowhere.

Pritchett Arch

After the arch visit, I made my way to the Hunter Canyon turnoff, where I finally ran out of water. It was hot, I'm guessing 85 deg. From memory, I figured I had about 5 miles to go, so I wasn't too worried, but was a bit concerned about my ability to stay on course an not get lost once again. Turns out everything was just fine. An hour later I could see the Kane Creek road again. The only problem was it was a good 1000 ft below the trial I was on. I kinda wished I had one of those parachutes. I was on a pretty well marked section of single track, so I just went along with it assuming it would lead me to salvation. After a good mile or so of running along the cliff edge, the trial spiraled down into a canyon (the real Gatherer Canyon) and dumped me out onto the road for another mile of uphill road running to my truck. I have no clue how far I ended up running with all of the backtracking and stupidity. I'm gonna throw out 16-17 miles. I was out for 4.5 hours.

The Nauseating view from the Gatherer Canyon Wall. The road is down there somewhere, I was too afraid to get any closer.

I stopped by Milt's Stop and Eat for a burger before heading home. Those burgers are top 5 anywhere, and I've eaten a lot of burgers in my time.

The drive back was long, and I was tired. It did give me a good chance to put a lot of things in perspective, which was one of the main goals of the trip. I won't go into too much detail but:

- I really like running adventures. I look back at the past year and almost all of my happiest memories are from out on the trail. Even a shitty (pun intended) day out on a long run is better than pretty much anything else in the world. If I could do this stuff all of the time, I would.

-My life is a frickin' mess right now, but that's okay; messes can be cleaned up and usually things are even tidier when you are done.

-Life is much more enjoyable when it's simple.

-I need a goal. A dumb big one. One that will push the limits. More on this later, but I have several things in the works. Alaska, 14ers, & briar bushes may or may not be involved.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Blue Sky Marathon Race Report

Warning: If you hoping to find inspiration or pointers on how to successfully run a fulfilling marathon, this posting will definitely disappoint.


I haven't been running much since Leadville. In fact, I don't think I've ran 100 miles since the race. I signed up for this race quite some time ago. I figured it would sellout quickly (which it did) and race is very friendly to transfers and such so knew I could probably find someone to take my spot if I didn't want to run.

I have been working tons the past several weeks so I haven't had a lot of time to dedicate to running, and even when I have the time I'm too exhausted to get meaningful training accomplished. That's life though.

To recap- Overworked. Undertrained. That was my situation. So, should I go run a marathon? Obviously the answer is no.

Race Report

I decided to run the marathon. The plan was to head up to Ft. Fun on Saturday afternoon with Jeremiah, do some camping and get up and run this trail marathon on a beautiful fall morning. This plan got side railed as I was forced to work the majority of Saturday afternoon and into the evening. Plan B was getting up at 4:15am in the morning, pick up Jeremiah, get some coffee in me somehow and get this race done.

I had this strange dream on Saturday night. I was competing in some weird running race and I was winning! At some point the race entered a school or some other similar building and there was an aid station right in the entrance. After the aid station, the course ran up this 4-5 story staircase, and then you were supposed run down some other staircase. I ran up the staircase like an animal, but when I reached the top there was no way down. After searching for what seemed like forever, I returned back down the staircase to tell the AS personnel about my dilemma. They lectured me and told me the course was well marked and that I didn't look hard enough and directed me to go back up there. Of course, when I got back to the top there was no where to go. Repeat about 3 more times and then I woke up. I was on edge all morning because of that dream. I felt mentally exhausted from being lost on my imaginary race course.

I probably should have just stayed in bed.

Th early morning is a blur, but Jeremiah and I found ourselves with water bottles in hand at 7:00 am at the beginning of the race.

I saw a dude wearing a bright yellow singlet similar the ones I saw last weekend and knew I was gonna get beat by at least 1 person. I also had a pretty strong feeling Jeremiah was gonna have my number as well. Throw in an additional 3 or 4 random strong runners that always seem to show up in CO trail races and I was thinking that a strong effort would maybe end in a top 5 placing.

At the gun (or some dude yelling GO), the bright yellow singlet and another guy were off to the races. I found myself running in third. I kept up a decent pace and everybody behind me seem content with our placing for the first several miles before the big climb up Tower Rd. The climb up tower road was a decent challenge. Long and steep, but pretty straight forward. I tried to take it easy knowing I had a goo 20 miles after the climb and wasn't in the mood to deal with jello legs for the remainder of the race. I did make the goal of running the entire climb. As I was slowly running up the climb I got passed on the right by a nice duder who offered some encouragement in a strong english accent. Do English people pass on the right on trails?

After the climb we headed back down this loose rocky single track. I was having a blast and bombing down the trail. Soon re-passed the accent guy (on the left) and was really enjoying the day. I came back into the start area (9.2 Miles) in 3rd place. I slowed a bit to refill my water bottle which allowed a different guy to catch up with me. The two of us set out on the long traverse to the indian summer aid stations, the guy hanging on my heals nearly the entire way. Once the aid station was in sight, he stated that he'd 'lead' for a while. He took off. After the Indian Summer North aid station (13M) there's a decent climb up the side of the foot hills, before a decent into the Indian Summer South aid station. Somewhere along this climb I started to feel a bit off. It was nothing to0 unfamiliar to me. I just didn't feel 100%. As I was descending down into Indian Summer South another runner came bombing down the trail, putting me into 5th at the AS (15.4M). I came into the AS looking and feeling pretty good if I don't say so myself. Check out the pic...

On the way out. Fresh as a daisy

All the happy stuff is over now folks. Shortly after that photo my race headed in a different direction. What happened? Good question. Did I 'bonk? No. Did I go out too fast? I don't think so. Did I get dehydrated? I highly doubt it.

There's always a point in a marathon where things start to hurt and you get tired. For me that usually happens somewhere between 17-20 miles. This race was no different. I found myself 18M into a marathon and I was tired and hurting a bit. In every marathon I've ever ran I've been able to deal with this hurdle somewhat respectably. I'm not saying that my races weren't effected by it, but I took it for what it was and pressed on.

I didn't do that this time. I straight up quit. I decided I didn't want to run another 8-9 miles and deal with the necessary discomfort associated with a solid marathon performance. Why? I don't really know. I quit because I felt like it. I was tired.

"I'm pretty tired... I think I'll go home now"-Forrest Gump

Slightly altered race course map

My truck's transmission has what they call "limp" mode. When something is wrong it switches to this mode which essentially allows you to go from point A to point B, but you lose a lot of power an such. I went into 'limp' mode. My 'limp" mode consists of a light jogging like cadence. Not walking, but not particularly running either. I kept up the 'limp' mode effort until I got back to the Indian Summer South AS.

On the way back. Compare and contrast.

I was most likely still in about 10th place or something at this point (20.3M). I decided that since I was taking it easy, I might as well see what they had to offer on the buffet. What I found took my race even further into the doldrums.

Queue 'hiking' mode. There's not much more to say about the rest of the race. I ate this delicious cupcake, and convinced myself that I was just some dude out for a hike on a nice autumn morning. I picked up a bunch of trash. Said hello to lots of people as they passed by. It seemed to take forever, but eventually the finish line was in sight.

I thought about gamely jogging it in across the finish line, but I didn't even want to pretend that I was trying. I had given up. In reality, the only reason I was actually finishing this race was because it was the easiest way to get back to my car. I ended up in 30th place, but with a memorable experience none the less.

I was greeted at the finish by a concerned Jeremiah, who had finished nearly an hour ago (in 3rd place!!!!!). He was convinced I had dropped out somewhere.


We headed to the bar for some beers. Jeremiah was awarded with a flannel hat and a nice picture for placing 3rd. I won a $50 gift certificate for an otter box. I don't know what that is, but its a Major Award.

After the awards we were gonna head to New Belgium to fill my growler up with some brew. It was closed. I failed again.

After dropping Jeremiah off, I drove to The Hole and drowned my sorrows in a $2 PBR and doughnut special.

Beer and dogunuts: Much better than running a marathon.

September 2010 Recap

Yeah, so... I haven't been very diligent with this whole blogging thing. I'm gonna keep trying though. I thought I'd spend a little time summing up month of September as a start.

Since Leadville most of my time has been dedicated to working, attending weddings and their associated events, and sitting on my couch drinking beers. It's been quite a change of pace to say the least. Some for the good, some for the bad.

Runningwise- The week after Leadville was actually pretty rough. I'm still not positive why (I'm thinking I overdid the electrolytes), but my feet and ankles swelled up like crazy after the race. I had cankles. They looked like 80 year old women legs. For several days after the race I could leave thumb prints in my lower legs that would stay for several minutes. I ended up investing in a rather expensive pair of compression socks. They worked magic! I wore those things non-stop, with the exception of showers, so about 23.8 hours a day for an entire week. Needless to say, I netted 0 miles that week. Since then I've really been struggling to find a 'groove' with my running. Some days I felt like superman out there and sometimes I felt horrible. This seems to still be the case. I've decided to take a break for a while (especially after this past Sunday-read the RR; its a dandy) and see if that remedies the situation.

There have been a few notable and fun events over the last month that deserve some special attention:

Summer Beermile 2010

The 4th ever Denver Metro Beermile was held on Thursday September 9. Once again we had a solid turnout. We even had a visitor from runnerspace come and videotape the whole debacle. You can watch it here.

The planning for this event was my responsibility, and I was getting quite used to the sitting on the couch and drinking beer thing, so I put off the arrangements until the last minute. On the evening of the race, I jumped on my cruiser and headed down to one of the several trashy liquor stores on Broadway and picked up a selection of 'fine' wines for prizes, and also picked up a six pack of the cheapest beer I could find. This turned out to be Lost Lake Pale Lager.

The Prizes!

I was looking to defend my Spring Beermile championship, which I ran in a CR of 7:51. This was looking to be the most competitive Beermile yet with some new blood and known drunken exercisers. My friend Turtle is famous in the ultimate (frisbee) community folklore for once running a 5 minute mile after downing a 40. Jeremiah, my friend and Leadville pacer, was also in attendance.

When We showed up at the track we became somewhat concerned because there was a bunch of little people running around attempting to kick a ball, as well a bunch of parents. Luckily they finished up their business shortly. There's not a lot you can say about Beermile. Once again, it proved to be one of the most uncomfortable experience of my life. A few notable highlights were:

-I tried to run while wearing my Leadville buckle. The attempt lasted approx. 100 meters. I need a better belt.

-Lost Lake may possible be the worst beer I've ever tasted. I'm not alone.

I let some photos do the talking....

Start of Beermile: Aggressive drinking, athletic stances

Middle Beermile: Pained faces, beer nursing, not so athletic stances

The Winner: Doesn't even look phased....

When all was said and done, I got my butt whipped this go around. Jeremiah proved the victor. He was within sight on the last lap and I made an attempt to chase him down, but after maybe 20 seconds of hard running I felt an even stronger urge to vomit. For those not familiar with Beermile rules, puking earns a runner a penalty lap. Chasing Jeremiah down would have surely ended with an extended 5 lap Beermile, so I had to let him go. Congrats to him. He finished in 7:33 for a new CR.

Jess was the repeat female winner. She won handedly, and while drunk at the bar later that night, claimed that she could have performed significantly better if only she had felt challenged by any of the other competitors.
Complete Final Results. We may need to move to chip timing soon. It was too hard to track all of the splits.

I'm already looking forward to Fall Beermile 2010!


After a several year hiatus, I attended the GABF once again this year. We had a nice big crew. Well, its still a shitshow. I went on Saturday night so a lot of the better interesting beers were already gone. I got a chance to try some damn good beers none the less. Some of my favorites... Russian River, The Bruery, Jolly Pumpkin, Trinity. I was sad to see Surly from MN was not in attendance. The TPS Report from Trinity my be one of the best worst beers I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. It kind of tastes like dirty laundry, but for some reason I went back for 2nds and even 3rds. I still can't really figure out the allure.

The GABF Crew. Cliche Pretzel necklaces and all. I ate all of mine and part of another

Tastes Like Funk

Golden Gate Canyon Half Marathon

On a whim I decided to enter runhill racing's GGC Half Marathon on Sept. 26th. I think what pushed me over the edge were some photos posted on FB of the course a few days before the race. Changing leaves and all...I felt inspired to get off my lazy arse and enjoy some nature.

One of the pictures that persuaded me to run the race

I carpooled up to the race start with a bunch of random people I met at a coffee shop in golden early that morning. It was quite chilly before the race, but forecasts were calling for 90's in Denver, so I knew it would probably heat up. I braved a short sleeve shirt right before the race started and toed the line with a small crowd of 75 people. I got out quickly and found myself in 3rd place behind an older guy in a bright yellow singlet and a much younger guy who looked maybe 20. The course starts out on a road that quickly turns off onto a switchback trail going uphill. I can't remember the last time I as expected to run hard up a hill. All the Leadville training had gotten me quite used to power walking. Soon I was passed by a 2nd older gentleman in a bright yellow singlet. I towards the top of the climb I was passed once again, and found myself in 5th place. I kept that guy in sight for maybe 3 miles but eventually lost sight of him. I looked over my shoulder and saw nobody.

At about mile 5 I passed the the younger guy who was in 2nd place at the start. He was walking. I asked if he was okay and needed anything, but he waved me on. Later I wold find out that he turned an ankle.

That was the last encounter I would have with another runner. I ran the remainder of the race all by my lonesome. It was a great morning, with great scenery. I couldn't have asked for anything more. There was a laughably steep hill at mile 9. It was so steep I have to use all 4 limbs.

I ended up in 4th place , finishing just under 1:50. I was beat by 46 and 49 year old men. What an inspiration those guys are. I can only hope I am still doing this stuff when I'm that age.

Some post race chili and socializing topped of a great race experience. I even got a nifty wooden trophy for my efforts. I'd highly recommend any of the runuphill racing events. They are priced right and have a low key fun aura about them, and they're all on fun beautiful courses.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Leadville 100 Race Report


Turns out packing and preparing for a 100 race is actually a momentous task in itself.

-A racer needs to worry about what they are going to wear for the entire race, racing at Leadville makes this difficult because even on the best days you can expect 40 degree swings in the temperature, and on the worst days you can find yourself in a blizzard. My solution to this was to bring every piece of running gear I had with me. Hats, gloves, winter coat, wifebeater, you name it. Easy enough.

The only real issue I had here was my shoes. About 2 months ago I started breaking in the shoes I was planning on wearing for the majority of the race; a spiffy pair of New Balance MT100's. I guess you could say I broke them in a bit too well. On my last big training run a 3" tear appeared in the heel of my left shoe. I didn't think much of it at the time and figured I'd just get another pair before the race, but it turns out size 11 MT 100's are nowhere to be found any more ). Not even on the webernet. So I panicked for a few days until I stumbled upon some very stylish white on white NB 790's (the granddaddy of the MT 100's) from the internet. Not perfect, but at least I'd look good while running in non-ideal, not broken-in shoes.

-Then there's all the gear. Fannypacks, hydration packs, flashlights, headlamps, batteries, butt lube, first aid kit, watch, Ipod. The list goes on and on. Again, I brought the house. Well, except for the watch. I Totally forgot that.

-You also have to worry food and water. Rough calculations resulted in me needing to find a way to ingest 15,000 calories during the race. To put that in perspective, that’s about 15 chipotle burritos, in one day, while running. I decided to accomplish this mostly by ingesting a hammer gel every 30 minutes while I ran, in combination with drinking sports drink and eating some solid foods and more gel crap at aid stations. I also needed to address my caffeine habit. Normal people rely on caffeine late in these races to get them through the night. I, on the other hand, was going to need a constant, high supply of the stuff. To accomplish this I brought Red Bulls (no vodka) & 5-Hour Energies.

This is about 30 gels and such. I ate these, plus about 10 more & a lot of other stuff too.

I took all of this stuff and semi-scientifically packed most of it into 5 drop bags; throwing the rest in a big bag for my crew. Packing complete.

Race Weekend

Race weekend started when I picked up my good friend Rich from DIA on Thursday afternoon. Rich is a good old friend of mine from Arkansas. He's working on getting in shape for the Memphis Marathon in December, and we decided that made for a good opportunity to pace me for a portion of the race. Rich & I were greeted in Leadville by a very chilly windy thunderstorm. We found some small Italian restaurant for dinner, and went to Bed.

I got up around 8am the next morning and went to the Med Check. Here they weigh you in (so they can monitor your weight during the race) and give you a bunch of stuff (shirt, keychain, crappy vegan energy bars, oils, creams, pills, paper…). My starting weight was 150 lbs. They also give you a wristband. The wristband is kind of like your life-line. If it comes off before you cross the finish line, your race is over. If you miss a cut-off time, or give up a volunteer will cut it off signifying an official DNF. Although worried about both of those possibilities, I was more worried about being a dumbass and ripping the thing off on accident.

After that Rich and I met up with Ed and Terra-My Crew. They are the ideal combination of personalities for a crew. Terra is the nicest, positive person on earth, and Ed is a logistical mastermind. We ate some breakfast and then sat through an hour or two of pep-talks, race previews and such. It was exciting at times, but boring most of the time. After that, we all jumped in a car and drove to a few aid stations, and definitely discovered a few driving routes NOT to take on race day.

Also- There's a sign at the Fish Hatchery that tells you to keep your hands out of the ponds. I recommend you obey this sign. Those little fish may look cute, but they tried to eat my hand off.

After our beta collecting excursion went back to the Silver King Inn, and I was forced to sit in the room and watch TV for the majority of the night. My girlfriend Yelena showed up in the early evening with Jeremiah. Both would be pacing me the next day. We all had some pasta, and then I tried to sleep. This proved quite difficult. I was wound up and anxious, to say the least. eventually fell asleep at around 10:30 pm.

Me, Yelena, Rich, Ed, Terra and Jeremiah (L to R). Good company.

Race Day

2:30 am- That's when my 1st alarm went off (I had set 3). I got up immediately and started getting ready. It wasn't that difficult, as I'd laid out everything the night before. I hit the head, lubed up all crevices on my body and got dressed. I then headed down to breakfast in the hotel lobby.

That's right- they were serving breakfast that early.

Yelana volunteered to be the one to get up and drive me to the starting line. We got there WAY too early. We got rockstar parking, but I ended up sitting in the car for 45 minutes before going to check-in. Yelena came with me. Soon after I shed my warm clothes, handed them over, gave her a kiss goodbye and made my way towards the starting line. I had time to say hello to a few friends, including Katie O, and before I knew it we were counting down from ten. We took off at 4am.

Start to Mayqueen (o-14 miles)

We headed out of town on a dirt road called the boulevard. It’s mostly downhill for the first 4 miles until we arrive at Turquoise Lake. It was dark the whole time, but I was in a mass of 700 headlights. I tried to behave myself here and run really slow, and let the 'fast' people get out of sight and concentrate on my own race. I also made sure to start eating. I also wanted to take in the scene before the pain and reality of what I was doing set in. After the BLVD, we made several turns on some roads and then went up this ridiculously steep gravel pitch until we arrived on some single track that runs along the lake. We follow this single track for almost 10 miles into the Mayqueen Campsite, our first Aid Station. This is a fun trail to run, not a lot of up and down, but pretty technical, with a gorgeous lake alongside you the entire time. I was surprised to feel some general soreness and tiredness in my legs already. It didn't make any sense; I was only just getting started. I just tried to keep it slow and hoped it was some weird side effect of tapering. While running, I came upon 10 year oldish girl waving a flashlight and yelling "Puddle" at all of us runners. Sure enough there was a huge puddle straight ahead. There's no way I would have seen it in time to avoid soaked feet. I don't know what 10 year old girl gets up at 5am to do such a thing, but that girl was a life saver. Shortly after that I stopped for my first potty break of the day. As I stood off to the side of the trail it was mesmerizing to see the long string of headlamps working their way around the lake. Soon the nice single track around the lake opened up to a big parking lot and road and we were greeted by a bunch of cheering people wearing stocking caps and holding coffee cups. I'd made it to Mayqueen, the first major Aid Station in 1 hour 57 minutes, 63rd place.

Mayqueen to Fish Hatchery (14-24 Miles)
I grabbed my drop bag and dropped off my headlamp, but couldn't quite part with my long sleeve; grabbed a bunch of gels, some endurolytes & filled up my water bottles before heading out of the warm tent at Mayqueen. I had purposely avoided caffeine before and early in the race hoping to be so tired that I wouldn't caught up in the early race excitement. It seemed to work up until Mayqueen. Coming out of Mayqueen, however, I felt a big rush of excitement. I finally let myself come to terms with the fact that I was racing in the Leadville 100. It was a long build up and a lot of talking the past 18 months and race day was finally here. Not long after the aid station we turned off of a paved road and headed up a steep single track section of the course that was about 2 miles long. This is one of my favorite sections of the race; really technical and you can hear a creek running almost the entire time. The single track dumps you out on a nice gravel road that leads to the top of sugarloaf pass. The grade is flat enough that you can run up the entire thing. I did just that, trying to take it easy. Time came to eat a gel and as I was getting the last bit of it down, I came across some folks with fancy cameras and such. Turns out they were taking awesome photos as people ran past with the sunrise in the background. In typical Ryan fashion, I ran by with a mouthful of gel looking like a goon. I’d post it here, but it costs a small fortune for the rights.
One of these days I'll get a good running photo...

A turn or two at the top of Sugarloaf, and I was running down the powerline road towards the Fish Hatchery. This section is steep and the road sucks; it’s all rutted out. I took my time going down and before I knew it, I was at the Fish Hatchery in 3 Hour 54 Minutes, 66th Place.

Fish Hatchery to Halfmoon II (24-33ish miles)

Fish Hatchery was my first encounter with my Crew. It was early on in the race so there was a lot of people there. I was a bit nervous that I'd have a hard time finding my peeps. Ed had me covered, of course. I was cracking up the entire time I was at the aid station. I ditched the long sleeve. I also blocked up, got some gels, got some water, got some hugs, and got some encouragement before I headed out.
Ed got confused and thought we were going hunting.

The next stretch of the race is my least favorite. It was getting hot and we were running on wide paved, dirt, and tarred roads. I was starting to have a bit of a down turn during this stretch. My legs were still feeling really tired, and I just didn't like the scenery. There were these buggy-airplane-helicopter type things flying around which was kind of cool, but that lost my interest after about 5 minutes. Then a stupid limp biskit song came on the I-pod and my mood turned positive again. After what seemed like an eternity, I was at the Halfmoon II AS in 5 hours 16 minutes, 65th place.

Halfmoon II to Twin Lakes (33ish-40 Miles)

I made a really quick exchange at the AS, grabbing the typical gels and endurolytes and downing some coca-cola.

The next section of trail was along the Colorado Trail. I felt right at home on this section, running on single track surrounded by trees and mountains. This section seemed to fly by, and before I knew it, I could see Twin lakes. Key word being "see". I swear I could see the damn aid station for a good 45 minutes before I finally got there. I passed by the RD Ken on this section. I'm guessing that he was on his way back from trip up on the course to fix some mismarkings that caused several runners to take a substantial detour. After a steep short drop off I was at the Twin Lakes AS in 6 hours 47 minutes, 57th place.

The steep little shoot dropping into Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes to Winfield (40 to 50 Miles)

I once again met up with my crew at Twin Lakes. I blocked up again, downed a bunch of coke, ate a bunch of gel, got some hugs and then headed out toward the top of Hope pass. If the Leadville 100 was a climbing route, Hope Pass would be the Crux. I think it tops out at 12,600 feet, with several thousand feet of climbing. Thin air. I like to fancy myself an uphill runner, so I was looking forward to this section. Before I got to the climb I had to navigate through several creeks and puddles and one substantial water crossing. Right before the water crossing, there was a cloudy puddle in the middle of the trail. I decided to just run right through it. Turns out it was a lot deeper than I thought, and at the bottom was a bunch of thick mud. I nearly fell face first into the damn thing.

The climb up hope pass went as I would have expected; slow and steady. Soon I was at the Hopeless Aid Station. It was one of the most surreal settings I have ever seen. The volunteers haul up all of the supplies on the backs of Llamas. First time I've ever run across nearly 20 llamas at 12,000 feet. I downed a bunch more coke, filled my water bottles and went after the last few hundred feet to the top of the pass. I got within about 20 feet of the top, just close enough to see over to the other side when the race leader Anton was approaching on his way back! I kicked it into high gear to avoid being "pass lapped' and barely beat him to the top.

The next 5 miles were by far the worst 5 miles of the entire race. I had a steep descent down Hope Pass, followed by nearly 3 miles of slightly uphill dirt road to the turnaround point. Altitude does funny things to people. One of the things it does to me is suppress my appetite. I'd started to get behind on my gel every 30 minute schedule, and my stomach started acting up. The steep, jarring downhill only added to my discomfort. I felt like a balloon ready to pop. I should have been running down the trail and enjoying the scenery, but I just felt miserable and bloated. So I walked a bunch of this descent, and started to neglect my eating schedule even more.

After about 20 minutes of this I decided something needed to change or I was going to be in BIG trouble. I stopped, stepped of the trail, took off my fanny pack, took a potty break and did a little soul searching. I knew that if I didn't start eating I was likely looking at the Leadville 50 Mile, and a DNF. After I was done peeing, I took a couple deep breaths, grabbed 2 gels out of the fanny pack, opened them both, and downed them. It sucked, they tasted horrible and they made my stomach feel even worse, BUT I honestly think that move saved my race. The 3 miles along the dusty dirt road were torture. I'd try to run, my stomach would balloon up and I'd walk. I repeated that sequence perhaps 1 million times. Eventually, however I did make it to Winfield in 9 hours 57 minutes, 50th Place.

The zoo that was Winfield

Winfield to Twin Lakes (50 to 60 Miles)

I guess now is a good time to talk about goals. I had a primary and a secondary goal for this race:

Primary Goal- Finish the Race

Secondary Goal-Drink a beer with my friends, crew and pacers at the Silver Dollar before last call (2 am) Saturday night, which calculates to a 22 hour finish.

I'd spent some time perusing the webernet and previous results before the race to get an idea of some splits at various Aid Stations. I'd hoped to hit the turnaround in about 9 hours 15 minutes. I was nearly 45 minutes behind. Boo. I was greeted at Winfield by my extremely energetic friend Becca (who was pacing another racer) and my first pacer of the day, Jeremiah. I think they could see the concern and suffering on my face. Nevertheless, they were nothing but positive and full of encouragement. They weighed me at 150 lbs, so exactly where I started. A pretty good sign that I'd been eating and drinking enough. I took a seat at the AS, took off my shoes and socks and attempted to remove the all of the rocks I had been unintentionally collecting over the past 10 hours. I filled Jeremiah in on my stomach woes and expressed my concern about my ability to reach the Silver Dollar in time. This was the first AS where I saw some genuinely hard-up runners. One dude had lost 13 pounds.

I decided I'd wallowed in my self pity long enough, so Jeremiah and I headed out back towards Hope Pass. We tried some running, but my stomach still wasn't cooperating so we switched between walking and running. I slowly started realizing that the running segments were growing longer with each cycle; a really good sign. The dirt road back to the Hope Pass trail was like a Who's Who of the Colorado running Blogosphere. I pointed them out to Jeremiah as we ran by.

The climb up Hope Pass was difficult. I was still feeling bloated, but more than anything, it's simply steep and rocky. It's supposed to be difficult. I concentrated on putting one step in front of the other. I also started to 'unbloat' during the climb. This was quite a relief, at least for me. I also had to stop for a Bio-break on the way up, which helped out a bit.

Jeremiah may be one of the most positive people I have ever met. The dude was even complimenting me on my 'unbloating' efforts, and full of encouragement. I don't think 10 minutes went by without some comment from Jeremiah about how much of a good time he was having. At one point he went off for about a minute about how much he liked the Juniper bushes along the trail. It really started to wear off on me. Here I was trying to concentrate on my suffering, but this guy was simply too happy and positive to ignore.

By the time we had reached the top of Hope Pass I was a new man. I left all of the suffering and pouting on the south side of Hope Pass. We stopped briefly at the Hopeless AS, and then bombed down the pass towards Twin Lakes, passing quite a few runners along the way.

Jeremiah and I at Hopeless Aid Station

Hope Pass in the Background. A Llama too if you look close.

We made sure dunk our heads as we crossed the creeks approaching Twin Lakes. A few hundred yards from the AS, I heard someone yell out my name. I turned to see my Stepfather, Dan standing in a meadow taking photos. It was a nice surprise to see him there. An even bigger surprise was awaiting me up the road. My mom had hauled up my dogs Nemo and Floyd for the event as well. I'd like to pretend they were excited to see me, but I awoke them from their naps with a few quick pets and proceeded on. I arrived at Twin Lakes in 12 hours 53 minutes, 43rd place.

The photo Dan took as we were coming into Twin Lakes. Look at Jeremiah. How can one be in a bad mood in his presence?

Yelena helping me block up at Twin Lakes. Her disgust is my joy.

Twin Lakes to Halfmoon II (60 to 67ish miles)

The second Twin Lakes stop was scheduled to be my longest stop of the day. I was more than happy to keep to that schedule. Ed and Terra had secured a prime location in the shade, which allowed me to rest my feet while I changed shirts and shoes. I also chugged a red bull and blocked up again.

Jeremiah and I headed out after maybe 10 minutes. We ran to the end of the road, and were faced with the side of a mountain. I was confused where we were supposed go. Some lady pointed straight up the mountain. "I ran down that this morning?" was my response. It had already been a long day...

Jeremiah and I trudged along the Colorado trail up to the Halfmoon II Aid Station, walking a lot of the climb, but running when we could. It was the last single track I would be running during daylight and I made sure to soak it in. I stopped for another bio-break at Halfmoon II while Jeremiah took care of water and supplies. I grabbed a bit helping of ramen noodle, and we headed down the dirt roads toward the Fish Hatchery. I arrived at Halfmoon II in 14 hours 46 minutes, 37th place.

Halfmoon II to Fish Hatchery (67ish to 76 Miles)

About 4 miles down the road we met up with the Crew, and my new pacer dF. Jeremiah ran ahead once they were in sight and gave Dave the rundown and all of my gear. I didn't stop running. I waved to everybody, and just kept trudging along. Dave caught up to me in a minute or two and we continued along the crappy roads for 3 or so miles to the Fish Hatchery AS. You can literally see for miles along this stretch, so it was fun setting goals in the distance. I would run to a sign and then take a short walking break. Or we'd catch a runner before taking a walking break. Exciting stuff.

Gravel Pits, mile 80 or so. I’m starting to get a bit surly.

I'm going to digress a bit here... Somewhere along the boring road section Dave mentioned that my friend Keith was heading up from Denver to witness me finish this race. Wow, that's really cool, I thought. Turns out running for 16 hours makes me a bit emotional. I suddenly found myself holding back tears (for the record I did hold them back). Keith is a good friend, and he genuinely tries to support my "superjogging" efforts. When I started training for the race, and spending a lot of my free time running I got quite a bit of flack from my friends. They didn't quite understand my motivation. I get it; it is a pretty strange hobby. Anyhow, it meant a lot that He'd come up there to support me. It is also important to note that Keith likes his beer. If I didn't make it in town in time for last call, I'd never live it down. I definitely had a little extra motivation the remainder of the race.

I arrived at Fish Hatchery in 16 hours 10 minutes, 35th Place.

Fish Hatchery to Mayqueen (76 to 86 Miles)

I was looking forward to taking a nice sit-down break at the Hatchery. Fortunately I am easily distracted. I didn't realize it at the time, but every time I made a move towards a chair Terra would distract me with something, and I'd forget about sitting down. This made for a quick AS stop. Dave and I grabbed Headlamps and were on our way in no time.

Getting the Headlamps ready at Fish Hatchery

The climb from Fish Hatchery to the top of the Powerline is the last big climb of the race. Many a runner has met their demise on this climb. I don't want to toot my own horn, but dF and I killed it on the powerline. We were power-hiking machines.

At this point in the race I was more mumbling than talking. What was meant to be, "Hey dF, would you please hand me an Endurolyte?"

turned in to, "dF, Lyte"

Dave handed me a flashlight. I laughed and tried to express my needs more clearly.

As we approached the top of the climb my shins started to ache. A few miles down the descent, my shins were really hurting. I slowed to a walk and strangely enough my shins hurt even worse when I walked. This prompted me to run again, and the pain was slightly less intense. So, I kept running. All the way to Mayqueen. Even at night, the technical section between the road and Mayqueen was a hoot. That is some fun running. Dave took off once we reached the road into the Mayqueen campsite to give the Crew and Yelena the situation. I came into Mayqueen in 18 hours 28 minutes, 16th place!!!

Mayqueen to Tabor Boat Ramp (86-93 Miles)

I didn't know it at the time, but amazingly I'd gained 19 places since Fish Hatchery. I knew I'd put down a good pace during that section, but I don't remember passing 19 people. Looking back, I think several of those 19 people took extensive breaks at Fish Hatchery, and several more never made it to Mayqueen (including some of the front runners that called it quits hours ago, and were probably at home sleeping).

Mayqueen Aid Station was party. It was nighttime, but the abundance of lights and people provided a lot of energy. Keith was there to greet me as well. I Gave the duder a bro-hug. Yelena attempted to relieve some of the pain in my shins with some stretching and massaging while the crew stood over me and laughed at my pain. I chugged a red bull and headed out towards the finish line. I had 3.5 hours to cover the same 14 miles that took me less than 2 hours to cover that morning, and I was actually quite concerned about my ability to do it.

Mayqueen. I’m guessing that’s not coffee in Keith’s mug.

The 6-7 mile stretch around Turquoise Lake was great. I was running with my girlfriend, the moon was shining on the water, and I was closing in on my first 100 finish. I was a happy camper. Yelena was a stickler for the eating and electrolyte schedule, although I had her watch on my wrist since I forgot mine at home. I have to admit, I stretched the truth a few times when she asked me the time. Yelena and I didn't talk a whole lot during this stretch, but we really didn't need to talk. I was enjoying her company in silence. I pretty much ran this entire section. I had to, when I tried to walk the slight uphills my shins hurt too much. I was greeted at the boat ramp by my crew. We attempted some shin stretches again, but it didn't seem to be working. Yelena relinquished here pacer duties to Rich and we set off towards the finish.

My newly expanded crew at the Tabor Boat Ramp. Ed, Terra, Keith.

Tabor Boat Ramp to Finish (93 to 100 Miles)

I intentionally planned on Rich pacing me for the last stretch for a few reasons. Dude flew all the way here from AR to pace me. I couldn't quit on him, but more importantly Rich is a funny guy. I knew he'd be able to distract me from any issues that would keep me from finishing. We ran along at an admittedly slow pace. I've walked faster, but we kept going. I did need to stop a few times to attempt to stretch out my aching shins. They were starting to become visibly swollen. Rich filled the air with cool stories and jokes. Soon we were on the BLVD. It is a long slightly uphill stretch of road. At the end of the road is a street light that you can probably see from the moon. It just wasn't getting any closer. Everything in my body was telling me to stop running and walk. But it hurt too much to walk, so I just kept running. Finally, I started to hear shouts of "SCOOP". A tell tale sign that drunken Keith is within a mile or so. Rich and I had made it to within a mile of the finish.

Leadville allows you to have 'as many pacers as you want' the last mile of the race. I wanted a lot. Yelena, dF, Jeremiah, Rich, Keith and I ran it in. I was a very slowly moving party. I couldn't have been happier.

Before I knew it I was on the Red carpet and then I was done. I may have shed a tear or two here. There was a lot going on upstairs; a rare occurrence for sure. Too many emotions for a 30-something guy to understand, let alone describe. Instinct quickly took over and I started concentrating on getting myself to the bar. I finished in 21 hours 23 minutes and 40.83 seconds, 15th place.


Finish to The Silver Dollar Saloon (100 to 100 Miles, 2 blocks)

They weighed me one final time-still 150 pounds. I guess running isn't good for losing weight. The Med staff wasn't so keen on my idea of heading straight to the bar. I humored them and warmed up around the heaters, ate some soup, and struggled as I put on some warmer clothing. It was probably a smart move. Those med people know what they're doing. Yelena had brought along a quart of chocolate milk. I downed some of that and then we headed to the bar!!!

The agony of trying to get my running shoes off.

The End!

Last call with some of the best people around at the Silver Dollar Saloon.