Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Refuse to Quit

I'm writing this post for a very special cousin of mine who is losing a bit of faith in herself. She has had many struggles in her life and has constantly had to battle self-confidence issues. Somehow, through all of this she has set a goal for herself to complete an Iron Man (I believe in 2012). If you knew her you'd know what kind of accomplishment this would be. She is absolutely capable and WILL accomplish it, if, and only if she will refuse to quit, no matter what. I hope this post will help get her going back in the right direction. I hope that maybe it will also inspire some of you.

In 2003 I set my sights on doing something that was extremely fool-hardy, for me. It was a last minute decision to join a friend and a couple of people from the local news rag to attempt to climb Utah's three tallest peaks in one day, starting from an advanced base camp. While I was in good hiking shape and was chiseled from years of rock climbing, I had no actual idea of what I was in for and no concept of how I would accomplish it. I just knew I had an opportunity to summit Utah's tallest peaks and that was good enough for me. I hadn't even considered the concept of Refuse to Quit yet, but would soon be faced with the foundations of it. After summiting King's and So King's I sat on a rock by a stream at the bottom of the Anderson chute with my shoes off, contemplating whether to continue on or call it quits. My hiking partner and the reporter and his son had already thrown in the towel, leaving only myself and the photographer to get the job done. He, the photographer, had said he was good with whatever I chose to do, obviously feeling the effects of the miles and vert we had already put in. We both knew we still had another 3000 feet of climbing and several miles to go before getting to the final peak, Gilbert. Every part of my body told me to stop. Every active thought in my head was screaming to just curl up and sleep. Yet, something in my core, at the very essence of who I was began to push up and rise through all the doubt like plant pushing through the soil to reach sunlight. At the time I didn't know what it was, but it became the beckoning force that motivated me to move on. It was accompanied by a very simple thought, "you can rest when you're done, you can quit when you're dead". I got up and pressed on. Together, we finished that last peak and made it safely back to camp.

I look back now, with all my experience as an ultra runner and realize that what I accomplished that day really wasn't all that awesome. Since then I've returned and completed that same thing thing in a much faster time and starting and returning to my car, which adds 16 miles. But on that day it was the biggest thing I had ever physically faced and it would set the tone for the rest of my adventurous life.

Not long after that event I was faced with what would be the absolute biggest challenge of my life, my divorce. That experience dwarfed the Triple Crown in difficulty, both physically and mentally. As I rebounded from that and began to start my life again I was faced with that age-old challenge of dating. After only a few random dates I was presented with a wonderful gift, the woman who would eventually be my wife. But only after she and I had gone through more trials than I thought possible would we be able to tie the knot and begin a life as husband and wife. I won't go into the details of those trials, but they tested me to my very core. They pushed the concept of Refuse to Quit to the absolute limits and on more than one occasion I was certain had broken it. I had given up. Yet, sitting silently alone, that same motivating force that had compelled me to get up from that rock next to a stream in Henry's Fork would push me to get up and fix things with my fiance'. Six years later and I'm happy to say that we have a wonderful marriage and look forward to a perfect life together.

I continue to face challenges. Every day something else jumps up. In the past year we've endured the process of buying a house and preparing financially to do that. I had no idea what a challenge that would be and on many occasions wanted to just quit and go rent something. In August we had our youngest son in the hospital for three weeks. I can't explain what kind of anguish we went through. And then to have to face the financial difficulties that would follow as a result of all the bills (a challenge we are still facing). Then, only a few short months later we were back in the hospital for the birth of our final child, William. While not a challenge in and of itself, the bills are now stacking up against Max's hospital bills, creating what is again a very trying time for us. There are moments when I just want to return to the base of King's Peak and curl up on the grass and die. But that's not who I am. Refuse to Quit has embedded itself so deeply in the foundations of my life I can't do anything but get up and continue on.

In our darkest moments we discover who we really are. It is at those times when we define ourselves by how we respond to that situation. Will you curl up and want to die or will you rise up and refuse to quit? It seems like a cliche' phrase, but when you really give it some thought and reflect on what you have gone through or are going through you may find that you too have lived by and are currently living by this same principle. At our very core I believe all of us who refuse to be held down, who refuse to live in the dark, and who choose to get up and be successful do so because we do one simple thing, Refuse to Quit.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Vision

If you read my most recent post you'll know that while 2011 was a very successful running year, it was also very busy professionally and personally, which didn't allow for me to do quite as much as I had hoped as far as personal goals are concerned. I'm hoping now that we are in a new home, our family is complete, and my job is back to normal that I can set some serious goals for this coming year and hopefully achieve a new standard of running for me.

While I will detail out several new goals, it is important to note that I will be running very few races. Unfortunately, the side effects of having a new home and new baby means we have less money for me to pay for big races. Instead, many of my goals will focused around some pretty awesome adventure runs. I'm absolutely certain I won't be able to achieve all of these since I simply won't have enough time, but I sure want to try.

I do plan to do a few races this year. First on the list will be redemption at the Antelope Island Buffalo Run 50 miler. While I did actually reach my goal of nearly 8 hours last year, I felt like I didn't run the race well, struggled for at least 15 miles, and didn't actually achieve my true potential. This year I'm hoping to go back and push more towards 7:30.
Second, and without a doubt the most important goal on my list is to get into the Wasatch 100 and perform well. I have a few time goals in mind, which I won't publicize here. Let me just say that everything I do this year will be to prepare me for that race and 'just finishing' or even going over 30 hours is not an option for me.   I will be going into it with the intent to achieve a new standard of racing, for me.
Me training on the Wasatch 100 course this past year

Finally, I will, of course, be racing the Pony Express Trail 100 again. Different from this past year, I won't actually be 'racing' it. My brother, Brent, is hoping to run the 50 miler, his first. My plan is to run the first 50 with him, nice and slow. Then hang out at the finish line with him for a while and enjoy seeing people. Then I'll chuck him in the van and continue on running the rest of my 100. It means that track record of coming in third will be thrown out the window, and most likely won't even see a sub-24 hour finish, but that won't matter. The purpose will be to just enjoy Brent's race and then cruise in and enjoy the rest of mine.

Adventure Runs
This is where things start to get a little crazy. 
My first goal is to head back to Zion with some friends and finish what we started. The Zion Traverse. I actually plan to put a twist on this one, but I'll save that surprise for after I complete it.
Second is to go after another piece of unfinished business - complete the full 110 mile run on Skyline Drive in central Utah. Whether alone or with Davy Crockett, this thing is getting done this year. I have a new plan on how to crew it and friends who want to support me, so this is definitely on the books. 
This past summer the MRC boys stripped the FKT on the Utah Triple Crown from me. It's time to get that back. I have a slightly new strategy that I think will shave some time. I'm also a better runner and that will help as I won't be slogging along the last 6 miles.
Standing atop South King's

Additional long-goals will include a potential shot at the FKT on the Uinta Highline Trail with some friends, a LONG slog of a run in the Wind Rivers, possibly doing a run of Gannett Peak in WY (this one would take priority of the long Wind Rivers run), Grand Canyon R2R2R (this is always a goal, every year), and start on my lifelong goal of running the entire Great Western Trail from the border of Idaho to the border of Arizona. 
Other than that the only other real goal I have is to run at least one ultra distance run per month.

Not bad, right? If it seems like a lot, it is. It's more than I can do in one year without my wife outright killing me. Obviously I have to balance work and family in there, but if I can plan and save correctly I should be able to get to most of this. Like I said at the beginning, I want 2012 to be a new standard of running. Time to start get to work.

Monday, December 19, 2011

2011 Post-Mortem

An organization I 'Like' on Facebook recently asked the question "What one word would best describe your ultra running performance during 2011?" My knee-jerk response was to put "lack-luster" since I didn't accomplish as much as I would have liked due to several things; buying a home, having a son in the hospital for three weeks, and then have a new son join us only two weeks ago. Basically, there was just so much going on I didn't have the time or the money to get out and do all the things I wanted to this year. Add to that the fact that we had significant snow in the mountains until nearly August and even my normal, shorter adventure runs were squashed.

And then, just before typing how I initially thought my year went I started to rethink all of the things I did accomplish:

My first real test of the year was the Buffalo Run 50 miler. I went into that race with a 'racing' mindset, intent on doing more than just trying to finish. While I had done numerous 50+ miles runs prior to that, I hadn't ever actually raced the distance. I prepared by heading out to the island on several occasions with friends to prepare. Matt and Scott were both running, Matt shooting for his first ultra. My goal was to hit 8 hours. While you can read my race report HERE, I'll just summarize by saying I came pretty dang close to my goal by running an 8:02:39, good enough for 11th place overall.

Over the next few months I focused on building my base and getting ready for all of the adventure runs and two 100 milers I had planned June and after. One of the cool runs I did with Matt, Josh, and Scott was to head out to Stansbury Island to run loops on the 10 mile long mountain bike trail. That place is amazing and we had an awesome time.

I'm certainly no road runner and am definitely not known for my speed, but I did end up running a half marathon PR in May - 1:34:49. I know, slightly pathetic, but it was a very flat course (something that isn't popular in Utah; they love fast downhill courses) and I wasn't planning on doing anything other than using it as a training run anyway. So to pop out a PR was pretty cool.

In early May I went on another adventure with my boys Scott, Josh, and Matt. We all headed down to attempt the Zion Traverse, 48 miles across Zion National Park. We went down knowing it would be a battle against the elements and a battle it was. Unfortunately, it was a battle we lost and after 18 miles we had to turn back due to significant rain, snow and mud. But wow, what an adventure. It was a 30 mile effort with almost 6,000 feet of climbing. You can read the full report  HERE and watch the video HERE.

The Laramie 100 in June would be my 2nd 100 miler and really the first one I would go into with a racing mindset. While I intended to race it, I wasn't actually in the best 100 mile race shape, so my expectations were low. Surprisingly though, the field was small, but the competition still good and I put forth a solid effort that was good enough for the win. I thought the chances of me ever winning a 100 mile event, regardless of the size was near impossible. To do it on only my 2nd attempt blew me away. More than anything it opened my eyes to my own potential and I went into the rest of the year expecting more of myself. Details are HERE and the video HERE.

As the summer progressed I got more and more involved in personal and family endeavors, but even then I was presented with a really cool opportunity, to run Skyline Drive; a dirt road that goes from HWY 70 north to HWY 6, with most of the road being above 10,000 feet elevation. If completed, it would be 110 miles of pure bliss. Unfortunately, we got pummeled with 30 miles of mud. After 50 miles I called it quits while Davy Crockett continued on to complete 67 miles before giving into the mud. That will definitely be a run I go back and try and finish. Details HERE.

Right after that run all hell broke loose in my home. My youngest son, Max, ended up in the hospital for three weeks with a Colidocal cyst on his bile duct. It was a tough three weeks for our family, but he came out of the two surgeries completely back to normal and healthy as can be.

Ah, the sweet pain of not getting into the Wasatch 100. Well, if I couldn't compete I could help my friend Scott finish. He allowed me to pace him the last 47 miles. He knew that if he could make it 53 I could get him home the last 47. He made it without incident and we had a great time the whole way. Congrats to Scott, he really fought for his first 100 miler. The video is great, check it out HERE.

The real focus of my whole year was the Pony Express 100. I felt like I had prepared well enough to run under 20 hours, but the day itself would tell the tale. Not only did I achieve my goal, but I crushed it, running a 19:18:05 and taking 3rd. The part of the entire race was walking knowing I could go faster. My goal two years from now will try and cut another couple of hours off of that (next year I'll be running it, but not 'racing' as I plan to run the first 50 with my brother Brent for his first 50 miler). It was a great way to cap off racing for the year. Details HERE and video HERE.

The remainder of the year was filled with mediocre training and the newest addition to our family, William. Our fourth and last boy joined our family on December 7th. We are so happy to have him. I don't have a good picture now, so I'll have to add a few later.

So after all of that, how did I answer the original question on Facebook? Once I gave it some thought, there was only one word that could describe my year of ultra running - STELLAR. It was really that good.

Tune in soon for my 2012 goals. If I can even come close to achieving them it will be my best year yet!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Finding Time

Obviously, since the birth of our new baby I have had little time to get out and run. Top all of that off with the nasty inversion that plagues Salt Lake City through the winter months and it has made for a messy tangle of lack of running coupled with unhealthy running. That being said, I have been able to get out a few times this week and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every step.

Monday was a road loop of only six miles, but it was the first real run since the birth of William, so it was awesome all the same. Well, except for the fact that I had eaten a huge lunch minutes before heading out. If I want to run though, I have to be ready to jump out the front door the second my wife gives me the green light. Draper has a bunch of paved trails that cruise through neighborhoods, keeping you off of the busy roads.

Tuesday was a step in the right direction as I took advantage of a short gap of time and drove up to the Red Rock trailhead and hit an amazing loop that starts on the BST, then heads up Potato Hill, and then finishes by running almost all of Ann's trail around to the BST again. There is 1000 feet of vertical gain, but none of it feels challenging and you can really cruise. For much of the run I had fresh tracks, just floating through the fresh inch of new snow.

The next couple of days were a shamble. It was only today, now back at work, that I could take a long lunch and head back up to those same trails and run a longer version of that loop. This extended course is what I hope to be a killer unofficial half marathon I'll be holding in late January or early February. There is 2500 ft of elevation, you summit a great small peak, and every step of the trail is runnable terrain. The entire route is 13.63 miles long and will make for a great, challenging half marathon. I tacked on another 1.37 miles to cap a full 15 for the day. That was just what I needed to deal with the stress of the last week. Below are a few pictures from several of these trails. Most are in summer, but you get an idea of how awesome the trail system is around here.

Summiting View Benchmark with Mt Timpanogos behind.

Matt running the upper section of Ann's Trail.

Tomorrow I'll have the opportunity to do a group run with the Altra fellas at the Salt Lake Running Co. While it will be a short run, it will be nice to hang with friends again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Newest Member of the Team

My wife and I are proud to present the newest member to the Lloyd family, William. He was born this morning at 9:53am. He weighed 8.8 lbs and is 20.5 inches long. Boy and mamma are doing well.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mud, Sweat, and Laughs

Half Pregnant Half Marathon

 Matt and I have been working on this little fun run for some time and were so happy to see it turn out as well as it did. The weather didn't appear to be cooperating like we wanted, but we weren't deterred. We threw this whole thing together for a pregnant friend who wanted to run one last trail race before she was too prego to run at all. As it turned out she was only able to run the 10k at that.

We had a good showing, considering the dodgy weather: Matt VH, Dan V, Josh G, Eric J, Matt W, Amy F, my mom Mary Kay and her friend Deanna, Aaron W, Kameron K, Brent L, Jeremy and Leslie H, and possible a few I might have missed. We built some horrible trophies for the winners and even had Altra sponsor us with a pair of shoes for the overall half marathon winner.

We started around 9:30am. There was a ton of wind, but the rain and snow had held off. The previous night's rain and warm temps would have a significant impact on the trail conditions, but not until we were in Corner Canyon. Everyone left at the start while I stayed back to wait for the folks we put this race on for. They showed up about 10 min later and we took off. I immediately went out faster than normal so I could try and catch up (like that was going to happen) and just didn't feel like I had a lot of energy. I quickly passed my mom and her friend who were running the 10k and stopped to chat for a second and take a pic.

My mom, Mary Kay, loving the trails on the 10k

At 1.4 miles you come to the first real climb, a short grunter up steep scree and over a rocky hilltop. I had to stop and remove my pants and the extra shirt I had on and I also left my gloves. That cost me a couple of min and hopes of catching more half marathoners. Continuing on I started to feel my legs come around at about mile 2, but nothing like I felt I needed to do well. I passed Steve and Amy returning from the 10k turn-around and gave them both a high 5 as I passed. I then cruised down the BST into Corner Canyon. Turning up towards the Canyon Hollow Trail it wasn't long before I came up on Aaron, Matt's brother, slogging up the mud. We ran together for a second and chatted and then I pressed on up the single track.

Aaron in the early mud

About half way up Canyon Hollow I finally came upon my brother Brent and my friend Kameron. I was actually surprised to see them running up this section. Brent is a good runner, but not much of a trail runner and has had little experience running up the steep stuff. Just as I was passing him he caught a toe and went down in the mud. Awesome. I then passed Kameron and tried to turn on the jets, but they weren't there, so I just pressed as hard as I could. Once on the Corner Canyon road I again tried to turn it up, but the mud was so thick it was like I had 10 lbs weights on my feet. Finally I got to the Clark's trail head and began my descent.

Brent just after falling in the mud

Yesterday, when I marked the trail Clark's was slightly muddy and pretty icy. Overnight the warm temps melted the ice and left a 1.5 mile mudbog. While others may have hated this section I loved it and opened up my pace to completely out of control. I almost fell three different times and had mud completely covering the backs of my legs. Wow, that was awesome.

The mud aftermath

I made it down into the bottom of Corner Canyon without incident and started the climb back on the BST out of the canyon and back the way we came. Near the top of that section I passed Jeremy Howlett, husband of pregnant Leslie and Altra employee who sponsored us. Thanks Jeremy. With a late start he decided to turn back early so he didn't make everyone wait. What a nice guy. I could see Matt up ahead and made it a goal to try and catch him.

Jeremy running up the BST

It took me a little over a mile, but I was finally within shouting distance and made the mistake of yelling, "Matt, I'm gonna catch your A". That was the motivation he needed and sped up. Dang! Even still I pressed on and found that as I rounded the next corner I had made up some ground. I finally caught him about a quarter mile before the last big climb back over the original first hill. He said he had really hit the wall and was struggling. He let me pass as we crossed the bridge and I pushed slowly up the hill. Going down the other side I collected my discarded clothes and really pushed to the finish. I tried so hard to go under 2 hours and pushed the last mile and a half as much as I could, running faster than I ever have before. Even with that I crossed the line 41 seconds over 2 hours and collapsed on the grass. Josh and Dan were there waiting for me, along with my mom and Deanna. Matt came in a few minutes later followed closely by Matt VH. Kameron came in 5 min after them and then Jeremy, but still no sign of Brent and Aaron. We waited for a while and then I checked my phone. Yep, Brent had gotten lost and left me a voice mail. I called him and he said he got way off course, but was now only a mile from the finish. He and Aaron ended up running about 14.5 miles with over 2200 vert. That is probably the hardest thing Brent has ever run and he crushed it. We all then went back to my house for the best BBQ ever and a couple of hours of hanging out. Thanks to everyone who came to both the race and BBQ or just the BBQ. It was a perfect day. And thanks to Altra for sponsoring us.


 Matt VH finishing

Me and the boys

Kameron finishing

Brent finishing


Eric, Catherine, and cute Elliot

The Wesemann's

I'll post results later.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First Tracks

Salt Lake received it's first real snow of the season yesterday. I knew it would leave the perfect amount on the lower trails and was excited to take advantage of the opportunity to run in it before it gets miserably deep and cold. Matt and I headed up to the LCC trail to find that we had fresh tracks on half of it. The snow had left a beautiful covering on the trees and stream. It was gorgeous. I had forgotten that feeling of running in an inch of fresh snow when all you can hear is the rhythmic breathing and crunching of snow under your feet. And while I will eventually grow to curse the cold and snow again, I am loving it now and look forward to some great training this winter.

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Perfect Trail Shoe?

Is there such a thing as the perfect trail running shoe? Few companies have attempted to lay claim to the auspicious honor. Fewer still have even remotely lived up to the relative title of possibly being the best. I won't make the claim right now that the Altra Lone Peak is the greatest trail shoe ever built, I don't think I have the expertise to do that. But upon initial review of the shoe I'm ready and willing to put it up there with the best.

I've worn pretty much all of the top rated trail shoes on the market, at one time or another. I can speak to fit, footbed, pronation, traction, durability, etc. However, when it comes down to it only two things really matter - trail performance and comfort. There is hype flying all over the internet and in magazines about the need for the lightest shoe, the most durable shoe, minimalist shoes or the opposite. What we really want is the most shoe for our money. I'm no different.

In April of this year I gladly changed over to running in the Altra Instinct for both roads and trails. I'm several hundred miles into my 2nd pair (my first pair are still running strong at 650+ miles too) and can say in all honesty that I'll never wear another brand of shoe. I've worn my Instincts in two 100 mile races and in both I never changed my shoes and even wore them home after. I've worn them in road half marathons and on forever long trail training runs, always without a single complaint. To this day I'll vouch for them as the best shoe I've ever worn. Well, except maybe until now. We'll see.

Seth Wold flying in the Altra Lone Peaks at the Pony Express Trail 50 (photo - Frank Bott)

The Lone Peak is a shoe constructed on the same wonderful footbed as the Instinct. Like all their shoes, they are shaped to fit your feet, allowing for your toes to spread while keeping the heel locked down through the full motion of your cadence. Yet, the Lone Peak is more like an Instinct on steriods. They've added a rock plate to the sole. But pay attention, unlike every other shoe companies (that I am aware of), instead of putting the rock plate between the outsole and the midsole, they have put it between the two layers of midsole. This allows for more flexibility on the outside of the shoe, without the internal breakdown. It's literally genius. Additionally, like a real trail shoe they have added just enough additional traction to make the shoe grippy on loose dirt and in the mud. I just ran in them again today in some very loose dirt and felt like I had much better traction - especially uphill - than in the Instinct (obviously). Because of the rock plate and the lugs there is obviously some trail sensitivity lost. But, unless you are an ultra minimalist that shouldn't really matter. I want protection and these certainly offer it. Finally, Altra has added a stronger toe protection on the front and the sides. What seem like meaningless fluff by having a mountain range on the outside and inside of the shoe actually contribute to structural stability and lateral protection from rocks.

Golden Harper, Altra founder, high in the Wasatch (photo - Altra)

From a performance standpoint I found the Lone Peaks to be extremely nimble and movable. I had no problem moving around rocks. The biggest addition I saw over some of my more recent shoes - Inov-8 and La Sportiva - was that there is now more lateral stability due to the wider footbed and rock plate. So it's a couple of ounces heavier per shoe than the lightest ones on the market? Who cares if I'm getting added protection and comfort. The reality is that I can run faster for longer, which translates to better training and race results.

The biggest problem I have with the shoe is that I didn't have them on hand for my Pony Express Trail 100 race just over a week ago. 100 miles on very rocky dirt road would have been much more enjoyable in a shoe with lugs and a rock plate. Don't get me wrong, my Instincts were plenty comfy, but those little pebbles just start to eek through once you are 70+ miles in.

Thanks again Altra, you've outdone yourself.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pony Express Trail 100 - Race Report

It's always difficult to know where to begin when trying to put into words the lifetime of experiences you go through during a 100 mile endurance event. However, I'll do my best.

The Pony Express Trail 100 is held in the west desert of Utah. It follows the old Pony Express route that ran from Sacramento, CA to Missouri. The race is 100% roads, is very flat and very straight. It is also unique in that each runner has their own crew, no aid stations. My plan was to have my crew drive ahead every 4 miles and then stop and wait. If I started struggling I could have them reduce that distance, if needed.

I had the wonderful pleasure of having my brother, Brent, crew and pace me in this race. Joining him in these duties would be our mutual friend Ty Hansen, a solid runner and great climber. Brent and I pulled into the starting line at Lookout Pass camp ground on Thursday evening only to find out that Ty wouldn't be joining us until later in the day on Friday due to some work conflicts that came up last minute. I wasn't too worried as I didn't need a pacer until after the 50 mile mark (or further). My real concern was that Brent was really wanting to get out and pace earlier then that, just to get the good miles in.

After a horrible nights sleep in Brent's minivan we rolled out to a pretty uneventful race morning. Like many ultras there was little fanfare. We all lined up, a few jovial comments were shared, and the countdown began. We were off. As expected Jay Aldous (the eventual winner and new crushing course record holder) and Davy Crockett went out like a flash of lightning. I think someone forgot to tell them this wasn't a 10k.

Waiting to start

There really isn't much that can be said about the first 30 miles of this race. I felt really great, I ran a sub-4 hours for the first 26.2 miles, I passed Davy at mile 8 (I've never passed Davy, ever) and expected him to pass me at any moment during the next 20+ miles. I ran a lot of those first 30 miles with Kendall Wimmer, the eventual 2nd place finisher. He is a really great guy and I really enjoyed these miles with him. Together we were constantly amazed by how well we were running and the pace we were keeping. It was really cool.

 Probably somewhere around mile 8

 Kendall looking strong in the early morning

 A beautiful PET 100 sunrise

About mile 20, past Simpson Springs

Around mile 30 is when it started to get really hot. I had hit the 50k mark in a new best time for me at around 4:40. My legs were starting to hurt as they always do at this distance and the black shirt I was wearing (thanks Altra!!!) was soaking up the sun. The temps were only in the low to mid 70s, but out on those dusty dirt roads it felt like 85. I slowed my pace as I made my way up Dugway Pass, took off my shirt, and watched Kendall start to really put some distance ahead of me. The chances of catching him were dwindling. Still ahead of me was Jay and Phil Lowry also, both amazing runners. I was sitting in a solid 4th position, but I knew I had a couple of really good runners behind me - Davy and Tim Long, both who could pass me in an instant if I didn't keep moving well. 

On my way up Dugway Pass I met up with Mark Capone who recognized me as a fellow climber. Running/hiking with him really took my mind off my legs and it made the next couple of miles really fly by. At the top of the pass he kept going while I took a short aid stop. I flew down the other side of Dugway Pass (mile 37.5) and just cruised the next 5 miles down past the geode beds, finally passing Mark again at about mile 43. He was looking really good and would go on to finish his first 50 miler in 9:38. Congrats to him. I cruised into and past Black Rock Aid station (and the 50 mile finish), mile 48.5 (the 50 milers have to do a short out and back), without much else going on. I don't really even remember much of that section. I hit the 50 mile mark in 8:14:49. I was hoping to get there at the 8 hr mark, but that 15 min wasn't too much to add on.

Yep, that's tape on my nipple

It was now 3pm and Ty still hadn't shown up. Brent and I were getting worried that he wouldn't show or got lost. At mile 54 I finally passed Jay as he was cruising back from Fish Springs, now 10+ miles ahead of me. He gave me a high-5 and just cruised on past, looking like he wasn't even tired. Amazing. A couple of miles later Brent was trying to get me to eat anything he could get down me and talked me into a bit of yogurt. BAD IDEA. The dairy didn't take long to completely wreck my stomach and I would spend the next 10 miles trying to get over a yucky stomach. 

Fish Springs is the turn-around of the race at mile 58. As we were coming up to the aid at mile 56 we turned around and here came Ty waving and screaming out the window. I had been a little down in the dumps and while Brent was driving along side for a short stretch to chat, I really needed a proper pacer and was just praying Ty would show up. His appearance was just the lift I needed. 

The great part about this little section is that you get to see who is in front of you and how far they are ahead. We passed Kendall, who had passed Phil; he was about 2 miles ahead of us. Then, just before entering Fish Springs we passed a very down-trodden Phil who looked like he was hurting. It was at that exact moment that I knew I'd eventually catch up and possibly pass him. My stop at mile 58 was short and I turned around and started cruising with my ailing stomach. Once back at Ty's car I told the boys to go drive it to Black Rock and see if someone would take it back to the finish line (which Matt Williams did, thanks Matt), so I had the next four miles or so to myself. At mile 62-ish I finally passed Davy. He had been dealing with the heat, race organization problems, and other things I can't even imagine, but was pushing forward. He told me I wasn't far behind Phil and had a good chance of catching him.

Brent and Ty showed up a short while later and we were back at our new pacing process - aid stops were every two miles where they would switch off pacing duties. It worked very well. We finally passed Phil at mile 67 and cruised into Black Rock aid at mile 68. My stop here was longer than planned, only because I saw so many friends I wanted to congratulate from the 50 mile race. Over the next 10+ miles we kept leap-frogging with Phil, to the point that I was tired of it and just let him go on ahead. I didn't want to have to 'race' for 3rd place, I just wanted my sub-20 hour time. But as we were hiking back up to Dugway Pass there was Phil, sitting in a chair, not a half mile from the top. I had no choice but to pass him. I decided this time I would hit the other side of the pass and try and put some distance between us, hopefully for good.

I think this is coming up to Dugway Pass

Once back to the 'road from hell' and the long 18 miles straight stretch back to the finish line I could keep a relatively good eye on who was behind and guess at how far they were. I was pretty certain I had a decent lead on Phil, but I wasn't sure where Tim Long was as his crew was still passing us every now and again. That could mean he was 2 miles back or 5, we had no idea how to tell. By this point, mile 80+, all I wanted was to have it over. I was still having fun, but my legs were wrecked and I wanted to get out of the dark cold. I was able to maintain an OK shuffle with periodic walking spurts put in. Our 2 mile aid stops were very helpful and I was able to keep them super short. Other than Black Rock I never had an aid stop over 5 min, and I only had two even that long (Black Rock was 9 min). Brent and Ty were awesome at keeping me going.

Hiking out of River Bottom I could see a headlamp not a half mile behind us. Since it didn't stop at Tim's crew car I assumed it was Phil, and he was gaining. With only 8 miles left we were now back to a race for third. I continued to stick with my game-plan and just hope it paid off. With 4 miles left we had a long 3.5 miles of uphill and a half mile of downhill to the finish. Someone passed me and told me Phil was less than a half mile back and running 'like he wanted it'. Something clicked in my head and I just took off. I was now running a 9 min/mile pace uphill, 96+ miles into a race. Brent was pacing me and struggling to keep up. When Ty took over for the last two miles I didn't even stop at the car and just kept running. Ty did his best to keep up, but said that I even dropped him near the top. His positive words of encouragement were incredible as I ran up to the car at the turn-off to the finish where he hopped in to drive down with Brent to take photos and video. I knew I had 3rd in the bag and was looking at a time well below 20 hours.

I crossed the finish line with my boys and only a few race staff in attendance. It was weird to not have Davy there to welcome me in, but he still had work to do. I finished my third 100 mile endurance race in 19:18:05, good enough for 3rd place overall.

 The finish line at Simpson Springs

 Me crossing the finish 

 It was freezing, but I needed a pic wearing my Altra shirt. 

Brent, me, and Ty. What a crew!!!

First and foremost I want to thank my crew - they were absolutely amazing. I don't know what would have happened without their positive words and encouragement.

Altra Zero Drop shoes make the best shoes on the planet. I ran 100 miles and never changed my socks or shoes. At the finish line I dumped out a little dirt and put them right back on for the drive home. They are the best.

And this will sound weird, but Brent, your chia seed energy gel is amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Refuse to Quit

'Refuse to Quit'; it's more than just the title of my blog, it's something I feel defines who I am. For me it applies to more than just running, climbing, or peak bagging. It applies to my life, my family, my work, and relationships. It's something I teach my kids, have instilled in my scouts, and try and exemplify in my attitude and character. I hope I've represented the philosophy well.

This week 'refusing to quit' will be about more than just not DNFing in my race. On Friday it will be about refusing to sit and rest, to walk when I should run, and refusing to give in to pain and fatigue. On Friday I am going to toe the line of the Pony Express Trail 100 to race, not just run and finish. Do I really have a chance at winning? I doubt it. But I refuse to believe that I can't try anyway.

You can track my progress at

Before even starting let me express my gratitude to those who are supporting me in this race . . . . I'll do it with pictures:

My brother; crew and pacer -

My friend Ty; crew and pacer -

Altra Zero Drop Shoes -

Dad, this one is for you!