Friday, December 19, 2008
Well, once again, I've learned that the idea of success can definitely be relative. Did I accomplish what I set out to do? Yes and no. My goal was essentially twofold- 1) to help out the Seattle Public Library system by spreading the word about the amazing resources that we have all over the city here in Seattle, and to encourage folks to pay a visit to their local library, and 2) to that end- to run to all 27 branches and get my passport stamped at each one.
Obviously yesterday was not the most idyllic of days to tackle an adventure like this, with the snow coming down essentially all day long and below freezing temps all day. However, I had made a plan to do the run on yesterday, and with a day job flexibility to change my days wasn't really an option. So I went for it despite the weather, and had a wonderful day in a beautiful winter wonderland. The media was very supportive and helpful in getting the word out with a nice article in the Seattle Times, an interview on KIRO radio, and a story on KOMO 4 News last night, a feature on the Seattle Public Library website, and who knows what else. The support along the way was also incredible- from my friend Michael who documented the day and gave me pumpkin pie for a treat mid-way through, to a brand new friend Zack who joined me out of the blue for a lengthy chunk of the day, to all the fantastic support from the librarians I met at each amazing branch of the libraries. All in all, it was a wonderful day, and despite not totally making it with goal #2, I feel like goal #1 went swimmingly well, and I hope that Seattleites are more excited to go check out their library today than they were just a few days ago. Given all the bad news of late with our economy in bad shape, etc., I thought a bit of good news would be nice. We definitely need to count our blessings and be thankful for all we do have, and the libraries are certainly one of those things I'm thankful for.
So, on to the blow by blow of the day (though briefly) if you care to read on. The day started out with a bit of unfortunate news, and that was that the libraries would all be opening late (noon instead of their usual 10am opening), but knowing it would be a time crunch to make it to all 27 in 10 hours, I decided to press on as planned and just snap photos at branches until I could start getting my passport stamped. I started with a short run from home to the Broadview branch, then on to Lake City, Northgate, and back to Greenwood. At Greenwood I got my first passport stamp, so that was really fun. Then on to Greenlake, Wedgewood, University, and Wallingford branches. As I was running down Stone Way, Zack appeared out of the blue and asked if I'd like a bit of company. I of course said absolutely, and the miles passed very quickly as we talked for quite a few miles. We made it to Fremont, Ballard, over the locks to Magnolia (with a short pumpkin pie break thanks to Michael), then up to Queen Anne. Zack headed home at that point, and I braved the Queen Anne Ave. hill as I headed for the downtown branch. I arrived there about 4pm I think, and upon arrival learned that all the branches would be closing early at 4:30pm. Bummer, and at that point I was very torn about what to do- continue on the planned route in the dark as the conditions got more and more icy to a bunch of libraries that would be closed, or go for an amended route at this point. I opted for what I figured would be the safer/smarter option and cut out going to the West Seattle and South Seattle branches. I went down to the Int'l District branch and got there just before closing. As the cold was intensifying, I put on some tights, an extra layer on top, an extra pair of gloves, and pushed on in the blustery cold. I pressed on and snapped photos at the Douglass-Truth branch, Madrona, Capitol Hill, and finally the Montlake branch around 6:30pm. Somewhere along the way I realized my hydration pack was frozen solid so fluid intake was no longer an option, but then again I wasn't exactly sweating. With the dicey roads, I just continued north from Montlake and ran on back towards home in the Broadview area. All told it was probably about a 50 mile day, but a really fun journey indeed. I may attempt this again in January sometime since I missed seeing a good chunk of the branches this time, but won't guarantee anything at this point. I'll definitely get to the other branches at some point though and finish up my passport stamps.
Answers to the 2 most common questions I've gotten since/during yesterday's run;
-What were you wearing/how did you not slip?
I am very fortunate to be sponsored by a great company that makes excellent running gear (The North Face), and had just the right gear to be well-equipped for yesterday's weather. I wore pretty basic layers on top with a great waterproof hooded shell called the Diad, wore just normal comfy running shorts (tights would've been too warm), and had the perfect shoe for the weather- the Chinscrapers, which have great traction even on the slippery snow and feature a water resistant membrane through the upper which kept my feet warm and dry all day long.
-What on earth did you eat?
I must confess that my nutritional intake was pretty atrocious yesterday, and my wife (a dietitian at Children's Hospital) was appalled to hear what I'd eaten all day when I finally got home last night. Typically I'm far better about keeping up with my nutrition during a run like this, but I think with the cold weather my body just kind of went into hibernation mode. My best meal of the day was just before I started. I woke up very early yesterday in order to start the work day at about 4am so I could be done with work before starting to run at 10. I had a big bowl of oatmeal just before I started at 10, which sustained me for quite a while. Through the rest of the day all I had was a handful of gels, some sports drink (before it froze in my hydration pack), a small slice of pumpkin pie (thanks to Michael), and a candy bar. I refueled in earnest when I got back home last night though, and felt relatively fine throughout the day despite my careless eating.
Well, that's about it- that's the day in a nutshell I guess. It was an incredibly fun adventure and all in all a very successful day, and a great day for visiting the libraries. All told I visited 19 libraries and got 11 stamps yesterday- a good run in the snow for a hot weather guy from Mississippi. I think I may just stay inside where it's warm today though and maybe spend a bit of time on the old treadmill instead of another day in the cold. Thanks to everyone for all your support and encouragement yesterday, and hope to see you soon- either at the library or on the trails!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
and my username is seesamrun.
The snow is piling up by the minute, so it should be a really fun day of running. The libraries are opening late today, but I am going to go ahead and get going and just snap photos at each library I get to that isn't open. See you in the snow!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
My goal in this is quite simply to get people excited about their public library, and to get out and use their local branch (hopefully on foot or bike!), and to encourage you to help out the SPL Foundation as well. More info about them can be found here.
I'll be updating throughout the day on Twitter through my profile there seesamrun, so be sure to follow along! If I can figure out how to blog photos from my phone, I'll throw some photos on the blog throughout the day tomorrow as well, but I wouldn't count on photos til Friday. Thanks for following, and go read a book!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Well, after an awesome time at the Carkeek 12 Hour and a great day of fun, I ended the day with only about 4 miles of running- one loop to mark the course and one loop to unmark it. Ah well. So, feeling a bit like a slacker (ok, quite a bit like a slacker), I decided I needed to go on my own adventure to get some good mileage in. So Tues. evening I went for a sweet loop run around Lake Washington that made for about a 50ish mile run. I ran into a pretty massive rain/hail storm but other than that, it was great. It was funny- I talked to a friend recently and he asked if I went for any fun runs lately. I told him I ran Lake WA last week and he wasn't very impressed, but was supportive and said, "oh that's like what 8 or 10 miles?" Clearly he was thinking of Lake Union right next to Lake WA, but it's all good. Haha.
The 2 most noteworthy and/or interesting occurrences on this run; 1) While right next to the water of Lake WA, I had the Damien Rice song "Cold Water" stuck in my head on repeat for a long long time. 2) While running through Capitol Hill I was suddenly reminded that it was election day (my little "I voted today" sticker on my jacket fell off in the hail storm...) and it was readily apparent who won as people poured out of the bars screaming and cheering and honking horns and just plain going crazy. Very surreal indeed.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Just a reminder to sign up for the Carkeek 12 Hour if you haven't already, as the price increases after tomorrow (10/24)! Check out all the details here; www.carkeek12hour.com , but it's shaping up to be an incredible race this year with especially great support from The North Face and Caffe Vita! Hope to see you all out there on the super fun (albeit super hard) trails of Carkeek on Nov. 1 !
Kirsten and I had an amazing time in Hawaii this past week and a half, and it was incredibly relaxing to just "be" and not have to worry about day to day stresses of life. We went surfing, kayaking, swimming, went for a super gnarly hike/run all the way up and down the Na Pali Coast (that's the pic here), and just enjoyed relaxing together. It's kind of funny that one sometimes has to go so far away to get away from the stress of life (although the direct flight to Kauai was definitely easy and nice), but I'm trying to adopt the idea of "being on island time" and that more relaxed low stress lifestyle even now that we're back in Seattle. Having been to Hawaii only once before (during the 50 marathons and then only for about 15 hours or so), this trip was a wondeful time to really explore Hawaii a bit more and we both loved it!
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Also, be sure to check out the Carkeek 12 Hour race, and get registered soon! www.carkeek12hour.com
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Well, I already knew Brock was one of the fittest real men on the planet, but now everyone else does too! What an awesome training partner to have! Way to go Brock! Check him out in this month's Outside magazine feature!
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Wow, what an adventure we had this weekend!
So after a really slow start Friday evening (last minute gear gathering, fun Seattle traffic, etc., etc., etc.), we finally got out to the trailhead sometime around 9pm that night. Then after a few more snafus there (including realizing we not only weren't on the right trail but not even at the right trailhead), we finally got going in earnest at about 11pm Friday night.
We cruised through the night that night and had 1 fun bear encounter somewhere in the dark hours. He was right in the middle of the trail and just didn't want to go anywhere, so we waited it out a bit, made lots of noise, etc., and finally just went for it. Fortunately he finally decided to move. We saw one more bear Saturday morning, but not quite so close an encounter. The miles clicked by slowly but surely, and the scenery was absolutely spectacular.
Onward we went, and we pressed on into Saturday night hoping for smoother trails and staying on track. We got lost several significant times, and the trail was very slow going for long sections with many huge blowdowns, and hard to find trail. The size of some of the trees out there was mind-boggling! We also met some really fun through hikers on the PCT on Saturday who were really encouraging, and were very near the end of their much longer trek (2200 miles!).
We saw our second sunrise Sunday morning, and we knew we were finally within striking distance of the end. We were both hurting pretty bad by then, and happy to be nearing the end, and closer to getting back home to our wives. Arriving back at the car safe and sound was a huge relief, but we then realized we still had about a 3 hour drive ahead of us back to Seattle. I felt surprisingly awake, so hopped in the driver's seat, mixed up a fresh bottle of phix, and hit the road. We made it back home safely, and ate well that night with a delicious celebratory bbq meal with our wives and friends. Then we passed out. Hard.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Well, Brock and I are embarking on a weekend adventure tonight. We're headed up to the Glacier Peak area, and we're going to circumnavigate it! You may be familiar with the Wonderland Trail that goes around Mt. Rainier, and we're shooting to do something similar. Since the Wonderland Trail is still pretty washed out from flooding etc., Brock figured out this adventure last week. Linking several trails together (including a chunk of the PCT), we'll be able to loop around Glacier Peak for about a 95 mile run. This is in super remote territory, and we'll be prepared for most anything, but it should be an incredible run. We won't pass a single road in that entire loop, and the views should be spectacular. Looks like the weather will likely cooperate too, and it should be a fantastic weekend.
My trench feet are significantly better and I'm hoping won't be a problem for this. I'm packing plenty of dry socks to change into, so I'll be super careful about that. I'm also wearing some great new North Face shoes called the Chinscrapers that are really comfortable and water resistant, which should help a lot on this remote terrain. Brock will be trying out the same shoes, so should be fun.
Interestingly enough, I just stumbled upon this little video link on the North Face site where I talk about how to prepare for a backcountry run. Hmmm, seems very apropos for me to heed my own advice right about now!
Have a great weekend, and we'll be back soon full of stories and photos I'm sure!
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Then Eric came to town and we went to town on framing and then sheeting and wrapping in tyvek;
Then popping in some windows and an exterior door, and we were moving right along;
So that's the update for now, but we made some more huge progress this weekend, and it's been really fun. Lots of work, but lots of fun. It's been a great distraction from not running for sure!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Well Kirsten and I were planning on going on a fun weekend trip to Washington, D.C. this past weekend to tackle The North Face Endurance Challenge race. I ran the 50 mile race there last year, and had a really fun time despite the incredible heat. This year they moved the date of the race forward by a month or so making for slightly cooler temps, which we were definitely excited about. Unfortunately, that move seemed to also put the race squarely in the middle of hurricane season, and this past weekend just wasn't the weekend to be having a race in that area.
So after what I know must have been an extremely tough decision, North Face decided to cancel the race for the safety of all runners involved. Though the weather may have been a factor in the cancellation, I know the most significant factor was the sudden loss of emergency response support crew, as all the folks that were slated to be on board for the race suddenly were called down to North Carolina to support emergency response efforts there after they declared a state of emergency. So, Hurricane Hanna won out (and rightly so), and we ended up staying here in Seattle for the weekend. Kirsten was especially bummed as she was really well trained and ready for the 50k race. For me, I wasn't that bummed at all about the race being canceled. Although I was signed up for the 50 miler, with my trench feet still just as nasty as ever, I was just planning to do my best at hobbling through the 10k. So in actuality it was probably all for the best that I didn't do that after all. But, Kirsten and I were both the most disappointed about not going to D.C. because we were so excited to see my brother and his family there. My brother and his wife have 1 son David who is about 7, and then 3 boys (Blake, Gavin, and Preston) and 1 girl (Sarah) who all just turned 2! We haven't seen all our wonderful nephews and niece in over a year, and were so excited to spend the weekend with them. But we will work on planning a trip there to just hang out and spend time with them sometime soon for sure- they are all far too adorable not too go for a visit!
Many folks who were signed up for the race this past weekend were really angry with North Face and the race directors, etc., but it seems that once people actually saw the huge storm that came upon Virginia last Saturday, they did an about face and realized it was indeed in their best interest not to run. One group of rogue runners met up anyway and ran the course, and I applaud them for being so tough and getting out there and powering through without course markings, real aid stations, and with atrocious conditions. But I also really respect North Face for making the right call and the tough decision to cancel this race at the last minute. Hurricanes just aren't something to be messed with.
I continue to watch as Ike looms out in the Gulf of Mexico, and my prayers are definitely with all the folks there on the Texas coast as they flee and/or brace themselves for another huge storm. Hurricane season is a scary scary time for folks on the Gulf Coast, and I hold my breath each time another one starts brewing, and always hope and pray for the best.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
I went to the doctor at Kirsten's urging on Monday and got thoroughly checked out. The doctor said no shoes and no running for a while to let my trench feet heal. I also got some x-rays and was reassured to know there are no stress fractures or anything else going on- just a pair of really nasty feet that hurt. But they're bound to get better soon!
Thanks for following along, and I'll keep the updates coming. Have a great day!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Well, my apologies for not being more on top of this and letting you know about my goings on a bit sooner, but tomorrow morning I'm off to tackle the Cascade Crest 100 mile race in the Cascades East of Seattle. This is one of the more grueling and spectacular (funny how those two things seem to go hand in hand...) 100 milers in the country, and I can't wait to be back on the course. I've had a strange few weeks of running since coming back from Colorado, and by strange I guess I mean "not much." But I'm feeling really good and itching to run tomorrow.
Cascade Crest starts at 10am unlike most other races, which makes for a nice night of sleep before the race, but also makes for tackling some of the toughest trail on the course (the "trail from hell") in the dark night hours. I ran this race last year and had an incredible experience. To make a long story short, I ended up getting lost out there around mile 47 and lost about 3 hours as a result of being off course and later recovering from the hypothermia that ensued. So tomorrow I feel totally prepared. I know the course, and I'm going to be super mindful of where I am and staying on course, etc.
Anyway, I'm hoping for the best tomorrow, though my feet are still pretty torn up from CO. I'm afraid I may have a case of trench foot in both feet, so not sure how they'll hold up tomorrow, but my body feels good, and I'm excited for a beautiful day in the Cascades! I'll keep you posted as to how things go! Woohoo!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
I'm working on revamping my website and adding photos, etc., so please bear with me for a bit longer on that- I promise there's more to come. Things have been very busy with phix since I returned to Seattle (and I'm actually in Portland right now), so I haven't had much free time of late. In the meantime I wanted to share these photos of one of my feet (I know- it sounds thrilling...), but thought it was kind of funny. This makes me think of the commercials and posters from back in the 80's with the "this is your brain on drugs" theme. So without further ado, this is your foot (or my foot I guess) before the CO trail;
And this is my foot one short week later (sorry for the low quality and fuzziness, but you get the idea);
Have a great day!
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
…was my enduring mantra as I trekked through the CO mountains on some of the most gorgeous and challenging singletrack trail you can imagine. Since arriving back home to Seattle Sunday night, I am continually reminding myself of this same mantra as I work to regroup mentally and continue to press forward.
Last week was a truly incredible journey and one that will take quite some time to digest as I have only just barely scratched the surface at this point. It was as much a physical journey on my gnarled two feet as it was a spiritual journey of faith, a journey of incredible friendships both new and old, and a journey of family. (I just realized this is a great set-up for a prototypical high school essay- this being my introductory paragraph setting up perfectly for my 3 supporting paragraphs which will be smashingly tied up with my conclusion paragraph. Sorry to disappoint, but I’m tossing out the MLA guide and just writing today.) I also feel very much that this is a journey that has not yet ended. Certainly I’m off the trail now and no longer in Colorado, but I continue to move forward each day and know that the past week’s tornado of events will not soon dissipate from my mind.
So as you all now know, we had to make the incredibly tough decision last Friday night to leave the CO trail- this after having already covered right around 416 miles and having only 70 miles remaining. This decision was made all the more difficult due to my body still feeling relatively good and ready to go for a mere 70 miles more. I was indeed smelling the barn at this point, was on pace to break the record, and had my stubborn eyes dead set on Durango. As I neared Molas Pass, I saw Kirsten coming toward me ahead on the trail and had a sinking, yet excited feeling. I was excited to see her and know that she was alright, as we hadn’t met up at the end of the last segment and my altered mind was running through all kinds of terrible scenarios of what might have happened as I plowed through the last 20 miles. I might also add that on these last 20 miles I was drinking from creeks and bumming food from fellow trail-goers as I was running very low on calories and needed all I could get after not refueling after the last segment. So yes, I was excited to see Kirsten as it dispelled the multitude of horrid scenarios my mind had conjured up, but that excitement immediately turned to a sinking hollow feeling as I quickly sensed the reason for her coming out to meet me on the trail. I didn’t know the extreme extent to which our small crew had fallen apart by this point, but I was aware enough to know that things seemed to have been unraveling over the past day or so. Kirsten and I sat down in the grass and I broke down as she explained to me the laundry list of logistical problems we were now facing, and that there truly was no feasible way for us to continue at this point, despite how my body may feel. We sat for a while as a week’s worth of emotion poured out of my body and I attempted to come to terms with the reality of the situation, and then slowly made our way up the trail to the Molas Pass trailhead. After some quiet hugs from Kirsten’s parents, Kirsten and I settled into some lawn chairs and Kirsten lovingly massaged my mangled feet yet again as the sun settled in behind the mountains and night came for our last time on the CO trail.
I could go into detail about the logistical problems we faced, but the bottom line is that our logistics fell apart and we could not safely or feasibly continue for the remaining 70 miles- record or no record. Our incredible photographers had gone above and beyond the call of duty and stayed on for an extra day to support us so we could continue, as they had the only Jeep. However, in the craziness of the day, the Jeep’s engine was flooded and the Jeep was totally out of commission. Without the Jeep (and realistically we needed at ATV to be truly safe), there was no way to access me for the remaining miles. In addition to that, my mental status was completely compromised and I was getting lost frequently as I made my way along the trail in daylight; at night my mind without a doubt could not be trusted alone. As everyone was essentially forced to be on my ridiculous sleeping schedule for the past week, Kirsten was exhausted, Kirsten’s parents were exhausted (this was their summer vacation…), and Tim and Eric were probably at their wits’ end. With Kirsten’s heel injured at this point from overuse and Tim already used up from an intense 16 mile segment the previous night, I was out of options for night time company on short notice. So while my body continued to push for continuing on and wanting to put one foot in front of the other for just 70 more miles, rational thought eventually set in and I came to accept the reality of our situation.
We made the short trip to Silverton (a town awash with ultrarunning lore and home of the Hardrock 100) and I began to come to terms with being off the trail once and for all. The creature comforts were fantastic to say the least (soaking in a tub, putting on clean clothes, sleeping in a bed), but my heart still ached for those last 70 miles. Kirsten, Kathy, Eric, Tim, Eric, and I enjoyed a real meal at a bar in town that evening, and while we were all somewhat relieved to be done, our conversation was muted as the exhaustion showed on each of our faces and the disappointment hung heavy in our hearts. We ate quietly and quickly before heading off for a deep slumber. On Saturday we had a hearty breakfast and all went our separate ways. Kathy and Eric headed off to continue on their intended path for their road trip vacation (after a longer than intended hiatus as crucial crew additions on the CO trail), Tim and Erik tied up loose ends on getting the Jeep rental towed and taken care of and replaced with a new rental to get them home, and Kirsten and I began the drive back to Denver where we were set to fly out on Sunday evening. Kirsten and I didn’t make it far as our overwhelming exhaustion overtook us quickly, and we spent the night in Gunnison. We had a delicious meal there and quietly mulled over the week behind us. Though not many words were exchanged that day or the next, we both knew intimately well what was in each others’ heads as we contemplated this inexplicable journey. We got packed up and made our flight back to Seattle without incident. I’m sure the rental car company was amazed at how someone might trash a car so completely in just one week’s time as well as put more then 2,500 miles on it, but we left them a consolation prize in the back to make up or it- a cooler half full of Cherry Coke and Water.
Life continues on- one foot in front of the other. Kirsten and I returned to work on Monday morning just like any other Monday, though definitely with the look and feel of Ed Norton from Fight Club after a particularly rough night. We have a simultaneous feeling of longing for those last 70 miles and incredible gratitude for the accomplishment of our team working together so amazingly well to cover an almost unthinkable 416 miles through Colorado in just 7 days. I apologize that it has taken me as long as it has to post my own personal thoughts, but I simply hadn’t yet had enough time to process the week’s events to really even know what happened. I am still very much processing every minute of every day, and have had some incredibly strange sleepwalking incidents the past few nights where Kirsten found me out of bed in the middle of the night completely convinced that I was on the trail. But I wanted to let you all know personally that we are back in Seattle safely and beginning to settle back in to life not on the trail.
I also want to thank you all so very much for your incredible support throughout this journey. Your constant prayers, your encouraging words, and all the positive vibes you sent our way throughout last week buoyed us each day and carried us through more than you can imagine. When I started this journey, I did not frame it as a sort of battle in the sense of “man vs. trail.” This to me would be a recipe for failure every time, as the trail would always win. Rather, I thought of this as a situation of “man with trail” as well as “man vs. self.” My goal in this was to become one with this amazing trail and truly enjoy being a small speck on the incredible palette of God’s immense creation as I made my way through the incredible landscapes and pushed my own body to its absolute farthest limits. I was asked what my secret weapon was out there on the trail, and I had to say simply and without a doubt that it was constant prayer. There is no way I could have done this alone, and the element of this being a faith journey was present each and every step of the way as we all saw God’s incredible provision for us at every turn. This was without a doubt the hardest thing I have done to date, and the hardest I have ever pushed my body, and I am continually amazed by what the human body is capable of and how perceived limits are quite far from reality.
I know this is an incredibly lengthy post, so if you are still with me at this point I’ll try to tie up my thoughts for now. First, seesamrun.com will be my own central personal website now moving forward. I’ll be making some changes to it in the coming weeks (it’ll become far less CO trail-centric obviously), and you’ll be able to follow along with my coming exploits and adventures. I’ll also continue to post to the blog with relevant updates and more thoughts as they come to me. I’ll be sure to get plenty of photos up in the coming days too, so be sure to check back.
So, I leave you now, but thank you again so much for following along on this incredible journey. We have learned volumes and know the ins and outs of the CO trail better than we could have ever imagined. If (when?) we go back to tackle this record in earnest, it will be with an incredibly intimate knowledge of the trail and a level of preparedness that we could not have imagined for this go around. While certainly an incredible stand alone journey, perhaps this past week was meant to be a recon trip for all of us so that we are even better positioned to truly smash this record at some point in the future.
Lastly, and certainly not least at all, I would be grossly remiss not to thank all the folks that made this adventure possible. I hope this doesn’t sound like overt and in your face product endorsement, but the folks behind these companies really had such a huge role in making this happen and I am forever grateful to them. First and foremost, thank you thank you to The North Face and all the incredible folks behind the scenes there for always supporting me and believing in me through all these incredible adventures, and for providing the incredible gear to make an adventure like this a reality. I can’t count the number of times on this expedition that I said, “man am I ever glad I have _______ right now” where the blank was always filled with some random piece of North Face gear, from my huge puffy Nuptse jacket to the super lightweight new Voza shoes to this huge sombrero-like hiking hat that provided invaluable protection from the sun each day. Also, thank you to phix, my employer for allowing me the time off to tackle this quest. As a startup company, every week is a critical week, so allowing me such a chunk of time off was huge. Not only that, but phix itself provided me extra octane and power throughout this expedition. I was drinking 6-10 phix stix each day, and feel like it gave me a really nice extra boost in energy levels, as well as helping maintain healthy vitamin levels in my body. The crew was making liberal use of phix throughout the day as well. Also, a huge thanks to Caffé Vita for providing us the delicious coffee to get each day started right. Brock got us going with the French press each morning for the first 3 days, and we continued the tradition on to the end. Starting each day with a delicious cup of joe really did give my mind such a nice moment of peace and feeling of all being right with the world as I would sit sipping the delicious black goodness from my plastic Colorado mug as I pored over maps and trail descriptions for the coming day. For my last shameless product endorsement, I must thank kirstenthompsonnutrition.com and my amazing wife Kirsten for her constant love and support. She took time off from her job to support me on this expedition, and believe me when I say that this past week was not what most would envision as their ideal summer vacation. Kirsten monitored my nutritional intake like a hawk, and kept my body fueled and going strong despite the incredible constant demands I was placing on it. Though definitely not expecting it, Kirsten also stepped up as a necessity and joined me for countless miles on this arduous trail, providing her with without a doubt her highest mileage training week ever (easily over 100 miles!). Kirsten is my best friend and my faithful companion in life and I could not ask for a more wonderful person to be in my life. A huge thanks also to Tim Kemple and his friend Erik Seo, our photographers who became invaluable crew additions- even to the point of Tim stepping up and volunteering to do a 17 mile segment through the night with me in some Abercrombie sweat pants and skate shoes. We went strong, and had a really fun trek together. A huge thank you to Aaron, our videographer as well- he was another incredible addition. Thank you for being so supportive and encouraging throughout, and so willing to help in every regard! (he also got an awesome shot of a rancher herding cattle right through me as I ran at one point) Thank you to Kathy and Eric, my parents-in-law for drastically changing their summer vacation plans and joining our ragamuffin crew as we plowed our way through the CO mountains. Having their additional support provided an incredible boost for all of us, as having their support allowed Kirsten to join me for night segments, provided an additional element of love and support, and just gave us all a lot more peace. Thank you also to my great friend and training partner Brock for joining us for the first 3 days of this journey. He helped Kirsten and I get off to a great start, put us on a great pace, and was a ton of fun to have along for this chunk. After a tough injury at the beginning of this year, Brock is recovering amazingly well, and I look forward to many more miles and adventures to come for us. A huge thank you to my steadfast friend Dave also for keeping up with this blog and masterfully keeping you all informed as to our progress and whereabouts as we foraged through the mountains. I also definitely must thank my constant friend and big brother Dr. Dan for being my orthopaedic counselor even from afar no matter what rigors I force my body through. He kept our fears at bay during my weird heart pain early in this expedition, and kept close tabs on my health from afar. Thank you Dan! I am certain I’ll forget to thank someone, but that is the beauty of blogs- I can just keep thanking folks in additional posts! Suffice it to say that it is obvious from the length of this “thank you” paragraph that I was a minor player in this expedition coming to fruition, and that ultrarunning is without a doubt a team sport regardless of what it may seem like!
So I thank you all again for your constant support, prayers, and encouragement, and I hope this finds you all well. I’ll post more in the coming days and weeks, and I thank you or joining me on this leg of the journey. Trust me that this was just another leg in the great expedition of life, and that we will all continue to put one foot in front of the other each and every day.
Saturday, August 2, 2008
Friday, August 1, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Day 5 began at around 7 am. Sam looked very strong after several hours of sleep and the North face crew hit the trail to capture Sam's determination. The last word came from Kirsten who said day 5 was nothing more than a continuation of an never ending slog. The plan is to run about 50 + miles by the end of day 5 and for Sam to catch up on some much needed rest. By mid Day 5 he is past the half way point and has run more than 260 miles. Sam is still on track to set a very impressive record that will take some serious suffering to break.
I got back to Seattle yesterday afternoon after spending 3 days helping Sam’s wife, Kirsten, pace and crew Sam on the Co trail. The first day was flawless. Sam ran the first two legs by himself, Kirsten picked him up for the 3rd 13 mile leg and I paced Sam for the last 32 miles of what would be a grand total of 72 miles for the day. Coming from sea level to 12,000 feet was hard for me - it was a complex 32 miles to say the least. Sam pulled me through.
We arrived at camp one at 3:00 am and were asleep by 4. I woke up shortly thereafter to make some coffee but had gotten the wrong fuel. @%$*! Even more alarming, I found out that Sam was having heart pain when breathing and he had a 32 mile leg ahead of him before the next easily accessible place. Looking over the maps, Kirsten discovered that we could access the trail 6 miles into the 32 mile segment.
The Plan: Sam would take it easy the first 6 miles while Kirsten called his brother Doc Dan to get his advice on Sam’s symptoms. Kirsten and I also took this time to re-supply. Luckily, we found a gas station open in the middle of nowhere. They had hot water and we were able to fill up the French press inside the gas station and brew up the Caffe Vita dark roast – the locals were a bit confused.
We met Sam at mile 6 and he was feeling much better – knocking it out in about 1 hour 45 min. We later received confirmation from Dr. Dan that Sam’s body was getting used to strenuous activity at high altitude and that he would adjust over time (which he did). I was also feeling great to pace Sam over the next 28 miles to Breckenridge where we would meet Kirsten. Kirsten would then pull Sam through the next 13 miles to Copper Mt. This 13 mile leg was basically a 4,000 foot climb up and then straight back down. Meanwhile, I went to Breckenridge to procure the biggest double Bacon Avocado Cheese Burgers I could find, the right fuel to boil hot water, and a pint of Half Baked Ben and Jerry’s per Sam’s request. I then proceeded to the next meeting point at Copper mountain where Sam and I would start the next 28 mile leg at around 9 pm. (Hopefully).
However, at 8 pm I received a cell phone call from Kirsten saying that they had lost the trail but could see the lights of Copper Mountain and were going to bushwhack their way down. Hmmmm…One hour later I actually saw their headlamps appear high up in the darkness for just a couple of seconds. The brief glimpse of light gave me hope that they would be down soon.
However, the lights and hope disappeared as quickly as they came into sight. Needless to say, I was very concerned for their safety. To my frustration, the cell phone was turned off after the initial distress call, and I was required, as friend and crew, to assume the worst. I set a time of 2 hours before I would call 911 for search and rescue if I did not here back. In the meantime, I strapped on my running shoes and pounded up the trail screaming their names into the darkness. I returned to the vehicle a bit frantic.
At 2.5 hours, I picked up Sam’s black berry and dialed 9-1, when all of sudden I had a incoming call from Kirsten! They were down but blocked by the river. A huge surge of relief came over me. I knew exactly where they were from Kirsten’s description and ran to meet them to guide them back to the trail and the bridge over the river. They were both tired, but in amazing spirits. I was very impressed how well Kirsten handled such a precarious, stressful and arduous situation. I found out later, from a mountain biker, that this section was notorious throwing hikers off course.
It was now around midnight – way too late to continue on the 28 mile leg we had planned for the end of day 2. We set up camp and went to sleep with the plan for an early start. The next morning Sam and I began the 28 mile leg. We realized that last night’s snafu was actually for the best. This leg was tough, with lots of elevation gain, and at high altitude. Also, because it would have been Sam’s last leg of the day, he would have been too fatigued to run any of it. Accordingly, an all night 28 mile high mountain death march would have most likely taken us 13 to 15 hours. But now, with a good nights rest, we were able to knock it out in 7.5 hours, running all of the flats and down hills and speed hiking the 5,000 feet of total elevation gain. To top it off it off, we had breath taking views that we would have never seen in the darkness.
Kirsten met us at mile 19 and mile 28 – perfect timing for lunch and restocking provisions. After Sam and I finished the 28 mile leg, we continued straight into the next 13 mile leg that, according to the guidebook, was easy. We thought it would take us 3.5 hours. It was not easy (dam guide book) and 5 hours later we met Kirsten just outside Leadville. Kirsten then picked up Sam for yet another 13 mile leg. Meanwhile, after running for 40 straight miles, I drove to Leadville to find the biggest steak and stiffest bourbon I could find. I was able to talk with my Macky, her voice always giving me a much needed boost of energy. I also got Sam and Kirsten a high mountain pizza pie full of meat and veggies. Fully stocked reloaded and revived, I drove to the next rendezvous point – which happened to be the trail head to Mt. Massive, the highest of CO’s 14teeners. I would then pick up Sam for as long as we could go before we had to drive me back to Copper Mountain to meet the Mountain Express Bus that would take me back to the airport. I did not want to leave.
I made coffee, bathed in the creek, and got dressed for my final leg of the trip. Sam and Kirsten arrived in great spirits. It was 11:pm. Sam and I started running again around 11:40 and made it about 7 more miles where we met Kirsten around 2 am. Kirsten made Sam a bed in the back of the SUV and we started the drive back to Cooper Mountain to drop me off. Kirsten, being the trooper she is, forwent much needed sleep to keep me awake for the drive. We parked in the gas station/mountain express depot. I rolled out my sleeping bag on a park bench and went to sleep. The van arrived on time and I bid farewell to the crew. I was back at work at 1 pm that same day. I looked like Ed Norton straight out of Fight Club.
Sam’s attempt is not about running through the mountains for obscenely long hours, its about testing the human spirit and its capabilities and boundaries. Its also about illustrating what can be done when folks merge their strengths together to accomplish what most could not fathom. Sam has an incredibly strong will and stays positive despite pain and fatigue. Kirsten is tireless in both pacing and crewing. Sam and Kirsten make an incredible husband and wife team and it was an honor to be apart of it. I wish I could be there to see Sam and Kirsten crush the record. Keep it up guys. I know you can do it!
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Well, I picked up my faithful crew at the airport this evening, and after a quick late dinner, the 3 of us are all settled in to the hotel room for one last night of sleep before the trek begins tomorrow morning bright and early. I know there's no way I could do anything like this without the incredible folks supporting me. My wife Kirsten will be with me for the whole trek, driving along and meeting me at various points and keeping close tabs on my nutrition/calorie intake/hydration, etc. My faithful training partner and great friend Brock is here also to round out this small but fantastic team! When this expedition was first proposed the plan was for Brock and I to tackle this trail together, but after an unfortunate injury early this year, we had to change the plan a bit. Fortunately Brock is feeling great now and ready to run with me for probably quite a bit for the first 3 days before heading back to Seattle. Then Kirsten and I will push on to Durango!
We'll post updates on the blog one way or another each day so that you can keep tabs on what's going on and how things are going. Thank you all so much in advance for all your prayers and positive thoughts and vibes being sent our way!
Now onward to Durango!
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Leadville is North America's highest incorporated city at an elevation of 10,430 - the ideal place to be for a few days of acclimatization. Interestingly enough, Leadville, CO was also where my 51 marathons adventure began just 2 years ago so the town has a special significance to me, and it seems only fitting to start this next big adventure in the same place. Spending a few days at this high elevation seems really to be doing the trick and I'm not feeling nearly as winded as I would have expected.
I went out for a very short run/hike today of just a few miles. I first drove out to the CO Trail trailhead nearest to Leadville. I snapped some photos of the beautiful scenery, but decided against running on the trail, as I just feel like it would be bad juju and I want all my footsteps on the CT during my trek to be my first ones there. So after fighting off the intense mosquitoes and stinging flying things for a few minutes, I hopped back into the car and headed back to Leadville and up to the other trail system with which I'm familiar here- the Leadville Marathon course. Wow- talk about a flood of memories as I began my trek up the trail here for my short jaunt. My mind was awash with memories of the 50 marathons adventure as this was my very first of the 51 marathon courses- what a way to start! I remembered huffing and puffing up this very trail with an intense infection and lots of congestion added to my having just come from sea level on the MS coast to over 10,000 feet. What a journey that was, and I know the CO Trail journey at hand will be similarly special. After my short jaunt I felt fresh and ready to keep going on and on, but this week is the time to rest. I can hardly wait to get on the trail and get going!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
begins to materialize.
First, thanks so much for finding my new site! The first adventure that will be chronicled on the new site will be (as you probably already know) my journey on the Colorado Trail. I've dreamed of running this trail for quite some time, and can hardly believe I'm actually here in Colorado after much planning and anticipation. The plan is for me to begin running on Friday morning July 25, and just keep trekking along the approximately 485 miles in an attempt to break the current speed record of 8 days, 13 hours, and 28 minutes.
I arrived in CO this past Saturday and had a great relaxing stay for a few days with some great friends in the Boulder area. The altitude was a bit of a shock to the system on the first run we went on, but by about 30 minutes in I was feeling pretty comfortable. The goal of being here early is to acclimatize to the high altitudes I'll be running through on the CT, and I'm feeling pretty good at this point. My body is feeling rested and fresh and I can't believe I'm actually here in Colorado!