The Sherpa

It’s for an Ironman.

That was my answer in reply to someone that asked why I was taking several days off prior and after this weekend (October 10-11).  They responded predictably, “you must be crazy!  You’re doing an Ironman?”

I smiled and said, “NO!  That would be crazy!  I’m the Sherpa…for my wife, the athlete.”

loading van

After work and a quick run workout we packed the van with gear and dogs and headed for Bloomington, IN.  It’s about a 2 hour drive so we arrived just in time for an appetizer and beer at Upland and Function Breweries.  During our time in Bloomington we took our normal stroll around the square with the dogs and decided to check out Indiana Running Company (@inrunco).  It is a very friendly store that allows dogs so we go in anytime we are in town.  This time they were having a great sale so we each got a new pair of Altra road shoes (more on those later).

As darkness approached we headed to Yellowwood State Forest to grab a camp site and then kept going into Nashville to Big Woods Brew/Pizza Co. for dinner and…beer.  After finishing up at Big Woods we headed back to Yellowwood to get situated.  It has been several months since we have tried a campsite.  Most of our outings have been in the city so this was a nice change.  It was really dark with only the sounds of nature penetrating the open van windows.  We decided to finally try to get the dogs off the bed this time.  Floyd grabbed a front seat and Iris the floor.  They “asked” to come up on the bed a few times through the night but we held firm.  This paid off as the rest of our trip they gradually understood where their “bed” was at night.

Thursday morning we headed out and decided on the scenic route around Brown County State Park to/through Story Indiana.  We stopped at the Story Inn for breakfast and it was worth it.  I rarely have pancakes these days but these were worth it.  Big, fluffy and a big scoop of sweet cream butter on top…yum!

As you can see the life of a Sherpa is pretty good so far!

It didn’t take long after leaving Story that we were a bit tired of the winding road.  The leaves are starting to change to some of the drive was quite pretty.  However, we are anxious to get to Louisville.  As soon as we found a good crossroad we took it to grab interstate 65 to take us to Louisville quicker.

Like any good Sherpa I did a little research on places to visit while in Louisville.  Our first stop before lunch was for coffee.  We found Red Hot Roasters and were surprised to find it as a drive through on the side/back of a gas station.  It was not very appealing to look at. They have some creative coffee/espresso choices.  Due to location and being drive-thru only we did not return…

Since we weren’t that hungry we headed downtown to the Great Lawn to find Ironman Village.  Like any good Sherpa I found a great parking place and escorted my athlete safely to athlete check-in.  While she checked in I managed the two dogs.  Keeping the dogs under control can be a challenge.  They are constantly trying to eat grass, lick people or roll on the ground…it’s daunting.

After the athlete achieved a successful check-in we headed to Against the Grain Brewery for a late lunch and beer sampler.  The food was good and the beer a mix of fair to great.

Next on the task list was to find a suitable place to sleep.  What this means is a safe parking place somewhat close to a coffee shop.  We headed for the Highlands area of Louisville.  We found this area to be very cool.  Over a mile of cool shops, restaurants, bike shop, coffee, and more.  I had scoped out Quills coffee shop (and like their Indy location) so we parked a couple blocks away and walked the dogs.  Accidentally, we found a dog park.  Iris has never been in a dog park with other dogs present so we thought it would be fun to take her in.  Floyd is unpredictable around bigger dogs so he had to stay out and “look but don’t touch” as the athlete took Iris into the crowded dog park.  It was getting dark but the place was busy.  The people were very nice and the dogs were having fun.  Several dogs tried to make friends and play but Iris was just too skittish and afraid.  She didn’t appear to have a good time but the experience was needed.

Our parking place on a side street worked great and I (as any good Sherpa would) woke early to walk the dogs.  I decided to check out the dog park since it was so early.  Luckily, it was empty.  I went in with both dogs and let them run.  They didn’t run:  instead, they sniffed every inch possible.  Floyd thought it necessary to attempt to mark every square inch of the place.

Shortly thereafter the athlete and I went to Quills.  It was all we had hoped for.  Several coffees to choose from brewed in several choice ways.  Awesome!  We enjoyed this for an hour or so as we caught up with social media stuff.

Breakfast and lunch were both in the van.  The super-expensive Yeti cooler is working pretty well.  I’m not sure it keeps things colder any longer than any other similar coolers but it is very well made and durable.  The durable part is where it really benefits us as we are particularly hard on gear.  It appears to take a beating and shows no signs of it.

Friday afternoon we found Cherokee Park – what a cool place.

sherpa life

There is a dedicated lane of traffic for walkers/runners/bikers/dog walkers/strollers/sightseers.  The auto traffic is one way.  It is beautiful, varied and safe.  I sent the athlete out on her steed (the trusty Felt tri bike) while I ran with the dogs.  Running always triggers a primal instinct in the dogs…to poop!  And poop they did!  We had a good run and the weather was perfect.  As I finished the loop the clouds were rolling in and the thunder was starting.  As we debated on whether or not to run a second loop the athlete decided that a little rain during a run of the loop would be like a natural shower.  Why didn’t I think of that?  So we ran.  We got wet.  We finished, toweled off and felt clean-ish.


We drove over to the NuLu area and found the Garage Bar.  Very cool place with astroturf covered benches, lighted ping-pong tables and a couple cars positioned like a car crash.  They appear to specialize in Ham, Pizza and Bourbon.  They also had a respectable tap and beer list.  The athlete was smartly watching her alcohol intake so she had ½ a beer.  As a Sherpa I had no such restriction so I had a beer and had the bartender select a bourbon for me – Old Grand Dad.  I was skeptical but am now a devout follower – Old Grand Dad is legit!

Garage Bar


While we were meandering around the Highlands we noticed some window signs for Porktoberfest.  What a fantastic concept.  Oh, it’s held at a distillery – perfect.

We decided to check it out and eat dinner there if the food looked reasonable.

As they opened the doors we rolled in with hungry bellies.  The first booth was excellent – some Korean spicy pork and kimchi/potatoes.  After that first booth it went downhill.  Other vendors didn’t have much pork.  We sampled them all but were underwhelmed.  Copper and Kings Distillery does make some very interesting liquors that are worth checking out.

copper and kings

Due to the superb coffee at Quills we returned to the Highlands neighborhood to find a stealth parking location.  I found a great spot under a tree (helps block street lights).  As we settled in we could hear a raspy voice loudly complaining about a boyfriend or something.  This continued for too long but we stayed put.  Luckily, the complainer either fell asleep or passed out as we were able to get a good night sleep.

Saturday morning was similar to Friday.  The one exception was that the dogs had a blast in the empty dog park.  They did laps chasing each other.  It was fun to watch them have what appeared like a great time.  The athlete and I then headed back to Quills for the morning fix.  The Chemex Kenyan coffee did not disappoint!

Now we are 24 hours pre-race so the tension is starting to become palpable.  The athlete is ready but nervous.

Swim practice was 8am – 10am at the Swim Exit.  We arrived around 9am.  Once again, I was able to secure a prime parking place in an adjacent parking lot that allowed for easy access and solar charging!

swim practice


As has become routine I ably carried gear to the swim location while managing the dogs.  The athlete changed and carefully entered the algae/debris/barge infested Ohio for a practice swim.  I deftly guarded her belongings while holding the dog leashes as countless other tri-athletes requested a petting of Floyd.  I often wonder if Iris lacks self-confidence because people tend to ignore her and swarm to Floyd to coddle his big, muscly head and soft brown eyes.

The athlete exited the water with a big smile on her face.  The water felt great and the swim went well.

Sherpa duty required me to hold the dogs while also helping her remove herself from the wetsuit attached to her body like a bodyglove.  Of course, I was successful.  I’m in the running for Sherpa of the year.

We had lots of time before transition opened for bike/gear dropoff so we went back to the van and carefully assembled everything.

Stickers placed on bags.

Bike cleaned off.

Test ride to confirm the bike works.

Gear loaded into bags.

Gear double checked in bags.

Mentally run through the race.

Is anything missing?

Triple check the gear bag.

Double check the bike.

Check bike tires.

getting ready

Ok, we are ready.  We head over to transition.  Is that a line?  Oh my, that is a huge line.  We follow the line.  We keep following the line.  Are we hallucinating.  We keep following.  We find the end and plant ourselves.  We ask those around us if we are in the right place.  We are.

I admit that an award winning Sherpa would have known this in advance.  I did not.

Once transition opened the line went fast.  The athlete handed off her gear bags and placed her bike.

She quickly returned with wide eyes and says, “that transition is huge, I don’t know where my bike is.”

Uh oh

It was time for a run but we weren’t sure where to go.  Yes, yes, I know.  A good Sherpa would have had this planned expertly.

The athlete suggested we head back over to Cherokee Park.  Great idea!


A great run was had, some napping took place, and we soaked in the beautiful day.


With all that sorted we needed to figure out what to do for dinner and parking.  Since it was the night before the race I left it up to Athlete’s-choice for dinner.  Our coach (Josh) was going to meet up with us to discuss race strategy either before-during-or after dinner depending on timing.

Due to time of day, location and food choice the athlete selected Garage Bar.  I was thrilled.

We arrived fairly early to get a good start on dinner.  As you can probably guess by now if you are still reading this I ordered an Old Grand Dad.  Delicious.  Once we finished eating (food was great – ham platter and a pizza) Josh and Mike showed up.  We had another round and talked triathlon, race strategy, pooping, and other good dinner conversation topics.  Since a few minutes had passed since we last ate we decided to order more food (pork meatballs and roasted squash – also very good).

The athlete and coach had race strategy sorted so it was time to walk the dogs and find our parking for the night.

I pulled into the wharf lot and asked the gate attendant if overnight parking was allowed.  Yes, it is.  Excellent answer.


We parked in the darkest spot we could find.  This was no easy task as this under overpass parking lot is completely lit by lights everywhere.  It didn’t matter.  We had a good night sleep.

Race morning!

We woke to the alarm at 4 am.  I walked the dogs while the athlete had her breakfast of granola and milk.  I had the same upon returning to the van.  We quadruple checked the gear for the morning and headed for transition.  The idea was to get to transition early, get the bottles on the bike, scope it out and then go back to the van before going to the swim start.  A good Sherpa would have known better.

We arrived to transition around 5 am.  It opens at 5:15am.

There was a line.  We saw it but wanted to his the porta potties first.  Porta potty time was successful (if you know what I mean – very important for the athlete).

We exited the porta potties (as a Sherpa I should have checked my surroundings but didn’t).

We walked back the way we came from and, once arriving at transition entrance followed the line.  And we followed the line.  And followed the line.  And followed the line.  We turned a corner and kept following the line.  WTF is going on here?  We followed the line past the Ironman Village and finally found the end which was just across the grass from the porta potties we exited a minute ago.  Oops.

Ok, got in line and lamented the craziness of these lines.

Good news – once they opened transition the line moved fast!

Since that line was so long we decided to start the walk to the race start which was about a mile away.  There was a steady stream of people walking that direction so we just followed along…oh, I forgot to mention we had the dogs with us.  They were doing great so far and people loved seeing them.


After a 15 minute + walk we arrived to the swim start.  We see several people at the front of the line with blankets, chairs, lots of clothes, a camp stove (ok, I’m kidding about the stove).  The line was huge and we just kept right in line following it further and further.  I’m pretty sure we were pretty close to the next zip code by the time we reached the end of the line.  Everyone was talking about the ridiculousness of this line.  It was our first time to Louisville and must have been the same for those around us.  We all wondered, “why!?!?”

It was a chilly morning.  Luckily, we planned pretty well for this.

Josh brought us some coffee – in a bike water bottle – barely lukewarm – but it was coffee.  The athlete and I shared a bit of the coffee.  She had a hammer bar and bit of water.  We all chatted about the race, life, dogs and poop.  Oh, and peeing.  Peeing in wetsuits is all the rage nowadays.  Put your wetsuit on, stand in the grass and act like it is the dogs that need to pee, not you…seriously, it works.  Someone told me that.  😉


Race organizers started condensing the line by having athletes on one side of the sidewalk and “others” move to the other side of the sidewalk.  This helped to move us up significantly in line.

Soon enough 7:30am arrived and we heard the gun to signal the first swimmers to GO!

The line moved quickly and the athlete entered the water somewhere around 7:50 +/- 5 minutes.

Real Sherpa duties now started.  I gathered her gear and the dogs and headed for the van.  Along the way I stopped at transition since the time from when the athlete started to when I arrived back at transition was really close to when the first swimmer was closing in on the swim finish.

floyd morning


I planted myself at the bike mount/dismount line thinking it would be a great place to get pic of the athlete.  Josh texted me when she exited the water (sub 1:10 – better than expected).  I got up on a bench and watched.  A good Sherpa would have managed this better by delivering the dogs to the van sooner.  Instead, I dealt with constant people and dogs around Floyd and Iris which resulted in me missing the athlete mounting her steed.


So, once I realized she was already out on the bike I dropped the gear at the van (happy the parking was within .5 mile of the transition).  I changed clothes and met up with Josh for an hour run with Floyd and Iris.


The dogs were nice and tired so I walked over to Against the Grain for lunch (and a couple beers).  The Smoque Madame was indulgent.  Very tasty.  I followed that with a bacon doughnut.  I’m sure that took 3 or 4 years off my life.

donut and beer

Sherpa duties mandated that I find adequate post-race nutrition for the athlete.  I was lucky enough to acquire chocolate chip cookies (“best in Louisville”) from Please and Thank You as well as a handful of beers from a local craft brew store.


Ironman Online has really good live tracking of athletes.  I knew that the athlete was doing well and the bike was going according to plan.  I updated social media and texted family as Sherpa Duty dictated.


Sooner than expected it was time for T2.  I grabbed the dogs from the fan and found a sweet spot in between bike in and run out.  As I was there by the barrier for Bike In Floyd decided it would be a good idea to maul a lab-mix that was walking by.  We are still not sure why he has such an issue with dogs his size and bigger…but he does.  Luckily, I had his leashed firmly and nothing bad happened other than some noise and show of teeth.  Even though I was embarrassed I remained in my location waiting for the athlete.  Josh and Mike arrived and were excited that things were all going according to plan.


Once I saw her coming down the Bike In shoot I flipped on the phone and snapped some photos while yelling.  Some kids next to me were also yelling their lungs out for every athlete that walked/ran by.  The energy of the area was goose-pimpling.

bike in


bike in 2

After she went by I took Floyd and Josh took Iris and we crossed the little bridge/crosswalk to catch the athlete on run out.

A few minutes later she come through looking good.

run out

More pics and cheering and it was time to hustle back to the van and then on to 3rd/Chesnut to see her again around mile 2.

Even though I jogged the dogs back to the van and then up to the location I missed her.  Shea (the head honcho and athlete at I Am Multisport as well as The Cycle Studio) told me that the athlete looked great running passed.  Damn.  Another Sherpa error.  That Sherpa award is not looking good at this point.

I lingered around the Cycle Studio tent for a bit, handed off some cookies to Josh, cheered on a few athletes (T.O. is Crazy!) and then walked over to the run special needs area to wait…

As I was sitting on the curb I noticed Mike (of fame).  I chatted with him for 45 minutes while we waited for the athlete come thru mile 13-ish.

Once gain the Ironman Online tracking was helpful as we could see her time through 6 miles was faster than expected.  I was pretty excited that she seemed to be having a good run.

When I finally saw her come through she was running well but indicated she was having some stomach issues.  I jogged with her around a corner and gave some profound words of encouragement.

half way run

Shortly thereafter Josh texted me that he also jogged with her and told her to lay off any food until her stomach settled.

Sherpa duties now engaged!

I walked back to the van.  The dogs had to be fed and walked – success!

I prepared a bag with clothes for the athlete for after she finished.  I also had food and water just in case she wanted them.  A towel was expertly placed on the camelback along with the necessities.

I changed clothes and headed back towards the finish.

I trekked back to the finish area.  Wow.  The 4th Ave. Live area of Louisville is an amazing place for an Ironman finish!

Mike (CrushingIron) texted that he was near the finish so I met up with him for a quick beer before I went down and positioned myself at the finish shoot.

Josh texted when the athlete at 5k to go…tensions were growing.  The time was looking good.  Her goal time of sub 11:10 was well within reason.  Her dream time of 11:00 was questionable but doable depending on how this last section would go.

With a block to go I received another text from Josh that she was close…the crowd was going crazy.  Finishers were coming thru on a regular basis.  Some finishers have big smiles, some are like zombies and some are high-fiving.

Through the crowd I finally saw her and could see her smiling.  People were screaming and as she passed me  I could see she was hurting but still ecstatic to be so close to the end of a very long day.  I ran through the crowd dodging people as I went.

The volunteers at these events are incredible.  From check-in on day one to the finish they are attentive and excited.  After the athlete finished there was a volunteer there to make sure she was doing ok and walked with her the 100 yards to the exit of the finish.


She exited the finish and I gave her a hug and a kiss.  Yes, she smelled horrible.  That didn’t matter at this point.  Josh was there too and we walked her a block away to ultimately sit.  Her stomach wasn’t good and she wasn’t sure how she felt.  After a few minutes Josh suggested we visit the medical tent to get evaluated just in case.

The medical tent was well positioned in the convention center a block from the finish.  We brought the athlete in and the medical attendant escorted her into the medical area for eval.  I waited outside.  After about 30 minutes the volunteer that was attending to her came out and said she was doing well but wanted her clothes.  I handed off the bag of clothes and waited 10 more minutes.  When the athlete came out of medical she was in great shape and feeling good.

We enjoyed some food, and then headed back to the van on the wharf, down by the river (insert SNL joke here).

The day after and we are looking back at it all.  5th place in AG for the athlete and an 11:05 finish time. podium A PR.  The weather was great.  The course was good.  Everything went according to plan other than the stomach issues during the run.  That can be figured out later.  What are the chances for Kona.  Every Sherpa dreams of going to Kona!  Three Kona slots were allocated to the athletes age group.  What are the chances she will get one during roll-down.

We arrived to Ironman Village in time for awards.  A podium photo.

And we waited.

Floyd and Iris got a lot of love from a variety of people passing by.

And then roll-down started.

Kona is where every triathlete wants to be and it was showing.  Only a couple age groups had slots allocated beyond the awarded slots.  We are not going to Kona in 2016.

We left Louisville tired, satisfied and excited for more.

floyd and iris

A stop in Evansville at Tin Man for lunch and beer was a nice break.  Now it is time to start planning 2016…


9 hours

The Golden Ultra has been a goal for about a year.  Since I have attempted a couple ultras and failed this was going to be the one I was determined to finish.  The fact it was a stage race was even more appealing given my positive experience with TransRockies.  I’ve read about Vertical K’s on the SkyRunning social media posts and was excited about that aspect of this race as well.

We arrived on Friday and checked into the condo at Kicking Horse Resort.  The resort and mountain are small compared to some Colorado resorts.  However, they are easily accessible and the views are impressive.

The Vertical K started from the base of the resort and went up to the top of the ski hill.  Conveniently , the gondola entrance/exit was 20 feet from the finish of the run/hike.

At 4pm Mountain Time we started the uphill battle.  Initially the grade allowed some running.  It didn’t take long before the route forced most (if not all) of us to hike.  Most of the route I was putting hands on knees to push off and power me up, up, and up.  Surprisingly there was an aid station about half way.  Not surprisingly, the aid station ended up being the spot where the route went from hard to harder.  We were trekking straight up a ski hill.  The surrounding were amazing.  The smells, sights and sounds were so unique for a mountain environment it made the experience incredibly enjoyable despite the fact we were hiking vertically.  We worked our way into a rocky section of rock stairs and switchbacks that ultimately led to a slightly runnable section to the finish.  By the time the finish line came into sight there was a mild snow flurry starting.closeup golden

I lingered at the finish for a few minutes to snap a couple photos and eat a pb/honey sandwich.  It cooled off quickly so I grabbed the gondola and headed down.  On the gondola ride down I learned about the local grizzly on premises in a 20 acre enclosure.  The gondola traversed right over the grizzly habitat and I had the good fortune to see the burly beast meandering through the bush.  Amazing creature!

That night we had a group dinner that was catered for a carb-loading focused crowd.  We indulged!

Awards and various dignitaries spoke during the dinner hour.  It was impressive to hear how the winners performed.  It was also good to see such an impressive turnout from the locals.

Day 2 we woke up early to get ready for a big day.  I was planning on a 55k mountain ultra while L and J were planning on a full day of volunteering.  A little food and coffee and we headed to town (13km away) to find Spirit Square.

We found the square and we loaded the car for L and J’s volunteering (aid station 1 and 4).   Eventually, they headed out to get aid station 1 set up and I relaxed at the start area as more people arrived.  We had a mandatory gear check and then assembled for the start.



At 7:30am we were given the green light.

The first couple miles were on roads to get out of town to the first trail.  The road was good to allow the “runners” to get out front and us “hikers” to find our place in the mix.  I settled in to a comfortable pace knowing it was a long way and not wanting to waste any energy on running too fast.

We crossed a small one lane bridge and immediately dove into the trails in Golden.  This initial trail was mostly runnable and expertly maintained.  I happened to be positioned close to a local that talked a bit about how this trail was one of her favorites for running and I can see why.  Many of the trails around Golden are Mountain Bike-focused but most are also very runnable.  It was a fun first 10k with rolling terrain and a lot of runnable ground.

At the first aid station there wasn’t much need for anything besides topping off the water bottle.

This is a good time to talk about gear:

I ran in tights, a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, jacket, emergency blanket, hydration pack, socks, shoes, buff, hat, and gloves.  Shirts are Lululemon.  Jacket is Brooks.  Hydration is Camelback.  Socks from Balega.  Shoes are Brooks Cascadia.  Buff is from the Golden Ultra.  Hat is Outdoor Research.  Pics to come at some point.  Nutrition was Hammer Perpetuem, Crank Sports, and food (bananas, chocolate covered cashews, watermelon, pb and honey).

Shortly after Aid Station 1 the trail started going up.  Most uphills I chose to walk.  Some may have been runnable but since I knew I would be needing as much energy as possible I walked every uphill that presented itself.  And then the trail went up even more!  I read the website and knew a bit about the elevation profile so I was expecting about 10k of uphill.  Elevation profiles are deceiving!  It never ceases to amaze me how much variation exists in real life compared to what the profile shows.

The good news is that during this slugfest of an uphill we had the pleasure of passing by an amazing canyon.  It was a hundred feet or more down to the river than ran through this canyon.  The sky was overcast and cloudy but it was still a phenomenal site to see.  Pictures to not do the area justice.   It was inspiring to see the surroundings.  I felt small but motivated.

Eventually, we arrived at Aid Station 2.  A little food and a water bottle fill was all that was needed.  The cool temps made the aid station locations easy and a good motivation.  I knew the trek from AS2 to AS3 was going to be one of the hardest sections as it was almost 100% uphill.  By uphill I don’t mean it meandered uphill.  I do mean it went Uphill…as in I had my hands on my knees pushing to continue forward (and upward) momentum.  I checked my watch occasionally and it told me it took me just over an hour to go two miles during this section.  It was so vertical and so high that we hiked through the clouds.  We emerged over the clouds to hike along a ridge that was technical and oxygen sucking.  It took your breath away in more ways than one.  If it wasn’t for the clouds I’m sure the views would have been incredible.  Instead, I had to focus on not falling off the side of the mountain.  The rocky, technical and vertical changes made one have to focus on the trail rather than the surroundings.

As I crested one part of the mountain there was a photographer and medical person.  I asked if we were at the top and they replied, “just over the next roller.”  I think we have a different definition of “roller.”

On my way to this crest I passed one runner (Gabriel) that was cramping pretty bad.  I could see his calves locked in a cramp as I approached.  I offered help but he indicated he had already consumed all he could and was going to try waiting it out.  When I reached the crest the med tech asked about the whereabouts of Gabriel and I tried to relay my best guess but at that point I was pretty clueless on distances.  Sidenote:  he ended up recovering and finishing the day as well as day 3!  Impressive.

Ok, so I finally reached AS 3 and was excited that the uphill was done.  I was really looking forward to a fast 20+K downhill to the finish.  I took a couple minutes to eat, refill water and put a jacket on (it was cold at the top).

I started downhill and immediately found it more challenging than I expected.  My legs were really fatigued to every step down was more deliberate and planned than usual.  It didn’t take long to realize that this downhill was steeper than I was accustomed and was not going to be the “fast” downhill I had hoped for.  Every step resulted in more and more shock to my legs and by the time I reached runnable sections I found it a huge challenge to muster an actual run.

After crossing the Kicking Horse Mountain Resort we entered a brand new trail section that appeared to have just been cut.  This is going to be an awesome trail eventually.  Right now, though, it was a bear to get through.  My fatigued legs were finding every obstacle, soft spot, mud section, and elevation change a challenge.

Finally I reached AS 4 and was really happy.  I got to see L and give her a big hug.  I also knew there was only about 12k to the finish.  I was optimistic that I would run it in to the finish.  I spent the most time at this AS fueling, topping off the water bottle and preparing for the final stretch.


in the woods low res


Three of us set off fromthe aid station at the same time.  I was leading but quickly realized that attempting to run the gradual elevation changes wasn’t going to last long for me.  The two guys behind me seemed to be having a better time as they were chatting.  I quickly pulled over to the side and let them pass.  Shortly thereafter I was walking any uphill no matter the size/length.  I tried to make up time on flats and dowhills but my legs were so tired that even the downhills were not that enjoyable.

When I finally emerged from the trail and back on the road for the final stretch to the finish I was happy but incredibly tired.  I mixed jogging and walking.  Well, actually, I’m not sure you can call it jogging as much it was shuffling at that point.  A couple more people passed me but I didn’t mind.  My primary goal at that point was finishing.

As I reached the sidewalk to signal the homestretch I gritted my teeth and worked my way to the finish with a jog.  Crossing the finish was a huge satisfaction and relief!

The ultra monkey was off my back!

Luckily, during my shuffling on the road a fellow runner (Matt and his wife Erin) were driving by and offered to take me back to the condo at the resort.

After a brief refueling at the finish I hopped in their Nissan and we headed back to the condo.

By the time we reached the condo I was shivering.  I thanked them (and congratulated Matt on a great run) and headed into my room.  I quickly stripped down (muscles cramping left and right in the process) and limped into the shower.  The warm shower was amazing.  It felt so good to rinse off and warm up.

As soon as I exited the shower I started shivering.  I jumped into bed and covered up with the down covers provided in the condo.  It took a good 15 minutes to reach a point that I could get out of bed and get dressed.  Once I did I got dressed, grabbed a blanket and went to lay down on the couch.

After relaxing, dinner and a questionable night sleep I woke up on Sunday feeling ok…unless I tried to walk over a curb or stairs.  It didn’t take long for me to decide to scratch on running the 20k Sunday.  I have mixed feelings about skipping this.  I feel like my legs were so trashed I would have ended up walking most of the 20k which would mean I would not be very happy about doing it.  Skipping it means I didn’t complete the stage race.  My primary goal for the weekend was completing the ultra.  In the end I’m a happy with how everything went.

I am writing this one week after day 1 of the Golden Ultra.  During a bike ride today I could still feel soreness in my quads.  That soreness tells me I did the right thing in skipping the Sunday run.

Some have asked about future ultra runs…

For me, I am currently retired from Ultra running.  I am looking forward to more Vertical K runs and many more mountain trail runs.  The mountains are such and amazing and inspiring place that I will always look forward to running in them.

ITR 50

My first 50 (almost).

and my first DNF!

This past Saturday I ran the Indiana Trail 50 ( with my wife.  

For a little background:  My wife hired a coach a couple months ago to get her ready for several races this year (this 50 miler, a 1/2 ironman, another trail run, and a full distance tri).  I have never had a coach and generally “wing” my training.  I have piggy-backed on about half of her workouts and have been amazed at how quickly her fitness has improved.  My long run during training was 17 miles while hers was 30.

We went into signing up for this race with an overconfident joy!  As training progressed the length of the race became more obvious and we became more and more nervous.

For weeks prior to the race we would talk about how we were going to run it.  We discussed clothing, gear, shoes, food, hydration, the course, terrain, etc.  We constantly read about ultrarunning on websites like  We followed other ultras on twitter whenever we could.  The IndianaTrail100/50 group has a great/active facebook page that I frequented as well.  It was fun and felt good.  

On Friday, April 25th we drove to Fort Wayne and settled into our hotel.  In trying to get an early-to-bed kind of night finalized we re-arranged our gear.

Shoes – Brooks PureGrit 1 – my favorite trail shoe!  This shoe just feels like it hugs and cradles my foot perfectly. 

Socks – Injinji trail socks.  The idea was to start with these because I think they help minimize toe blisters for me. 

Shorts – Nike running.  these are almost brand new…but feel great.  I’d love an extra pocket but they are quite comfy. 

Shirt – InkNBurn – our favorite company for shirts.  Great material and incredibly cool graphics. 

Arm Sleeves – InkNBurn – they match the shirt.  It was a cool morning so these were perfect.

Jacket – Brooks LSD Light – this is the ideal jacket for those in-between temps.

Pack – Camelbak marathoner – it’s a great fitting, highly useful pack.  It served me well at TransRockies and here! 

Sunglasses – Oakley.  didn’t need these until about mile 15 but they are light and clean!

Hat/visor – Headsweats.  Love this visor.  It’s comfortable and soaks up the sweat.

The parking lot was right along the course so we just used our trunk as our drop bag location.  In the trunk were extra shoes, socks, shorts, shirt, and food!


The course is a 16.66 mile loop we would be doing 3 times.  There were aid stations about every 4 miles.  We decided to prepare to carry enough that the aid stations would just be for extra stuff and water refills.  So, I had the following:

Perpetuem, Endurolytes, Hammer Gel –

High Performance Sports Drink – 

X2 Performance –

Fruit babyfood – Sprout Smash –

Wild Friends Single serve PB – 

My plan was to start sipping water as the race started.  Every 15 minutes I would sip some Biosteel and about every 30 minutes I would consume some sort of food.  This all depends on which food and how I’m feeling.  The run started great and at 30 minutes I had a Sprout Smash.  It tasted great and was easy on the stomach.  At the 1 hour mark I had a WildFriends PB.  Since it has a lot more calories I decided to wait until about the 2:30 mark to eat more food…and then it was another Sprout Smash.  As I finished the first lap and started the 2nd I filled up my Perpetuem (Cafe Latte) and used that during lap two along with more Sprout, an X2 and the Biosteel I was sipping.

The run.

We forgot our headlamps!  Oops!

Luckily, there were enough people around us that it was not an issue.  The course was nice and wide and very well marked.  We started off at a comfortable pace trying to just get heart rates up and get little sweat going.  Once we settled in the pace was quicker than we expected but the heart rate was good so we just kept it going.  I was expecting a very flat course for some reason.  While there are no major hills or anything it was constantly rolling terrain.  I suspected this could add up over time…

We cruised through the first aid station/checkpoint and kept right on going.  All the crew at the station were great with their cheering and enthusiasm.  

As we approached the halfway point of the first loop I felt like my wife wanted to run faster.  She would edge out ahead of me and then come back.  Her coach had her setup to run a heart rate range that was higher than what I was planning for myself.  We both felt good so I sped up a little and she held back a little.

During lap one we thought the next aid station was at mile 12 so we were getting concerned when we past mile 13 with no sign of anyone….and then we saw it…at mile 14.  Relief!  It was also exciting to know that we were only about 2.5 miles from the end of loop 1.  I was expecting loop 1 to be 3 – 3:15.  Instead, we rolled up to our car at around 2:40.  Wow, we were flying!!  We both felt good (minus a few mild aches).  In the trunk of the car we threw our trash and restocked our bags.  Once refilled, we cruised up to the main tent for more water.

Right after leaving the main tent my wife was like a gazelle.  There was no more creeping out ahead of me.  Instead, it was obvious she was feeling really good at a fast pace.  I was the opposite.  I was starting to feel the muscle fatique.  As we yo-yo’d another mile she finally said she was going to give it a go.  I encouraged her to “have fun” and that I’d see her at the finish.  

That was the last I saw of her other than a glimpse of her occasionally through the woods over the next couple miles.

As the miles kept adding up I kept slowing down.  I completed a trail marathon distance in a new pr (4:17-ish) and was happy about that but could feel my wheels just getting worse and worse.  As the muscles were getting more and more fatiqued I started to notice my knees not doing as well either.  It was shortly after the marathon distance that I decided I would be calling it a day once I finished loop 2.  Running had become a real struggle.  Even walking the ups and downs was painful.  

I finished loop 2 (33.6 miles) with a time of around 6:05.  I turned my timing chip in with a smile on my face as I knew the hurt was ending!  I was also happy that my stomach and head were great the entire race.  I suspect my issue was more a lack of appropriate endurance training.  I suspect I will focus more on that should I ever choose to try this distance again.  In the meantime I am going to focus more on some shorter distances.  I have a few trail runs of 9 miles this year (, a half marathon in June, and TransRockies in August.


After I changed and relaxed I took a look at the leaderboard.  After loop 2 my wife was in 3rd place overall female.  I knew that if her comfort and pace continued she would hold or improve that position.  I lounged around and counted the minutes.  Pretty soon she came running up the finishing shoot as the 2nd overall female (and 5th overall) in a time of 8:16.  She nearly collapsed crossing the finish line!  I was impressed, amazed, and incredibly proud!!

The people:

I can’t express enough how awesome the race organization and volunteers were.  The race was very well put together.  The volunteers were helpful and encouraging along the entire course.  The course itself was very well maintained and marked.  I would highly recommend this race to anyone interested in tackling (or trying to tackle) a 50 or 100 miler.

As i write this I am back at home relaxing and massaging my stiff knees.  My wife can hardly walk but is feeling great.

Our next race is a sprint triathlon at the end of May…maybe it will be short enough that I can win this time.  😉



Just Move!

Just Move!

Keep moving!

If I’ve said it once I’ve said it 100 times.  This article in Outside Mag reinforces that it doesn’t matter how you move…just move!

Too much sitting is deadly so, give the grim reaper a shove and move a little…then a lot…


What/Who/How/Why do you Love?

Everyone, at this point, knows has some great talks.

This morning I saw one that was relevant and necessary!


Yann talks about how we determine value and love in our lives.  A culture of seduction capital is creating anxiety and stress…a viscious cycle that can perpetuate.

His answers out may surprise you!

How do you get in ?

Jacqui Senn

getting in the gameGetting in on the action is not as impossible as it may seem. No matter what your aspirations are, taking small steps and turning them into big opportunities can happen. Whether you are trying to get a promotion or changing careers, small changes can have a huge impact on your ability to move  forward faster than you may have anticipated. 

Take chances with the skills you already possess. If you feel as though you need some sort of certificate proclaiming your expertise, they are fairly easy to obtain. Be prepared to do research on what it is you want to achieve. Do not share what you are doing with others until you are ready to take the next step. Most times it seems when you want to move ahead other people will try to find a way of talking you out of it. they want to make it sound as…

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Move more, reduce meds!

Depending upon your individual circumstances you may be able to reduce your meds by simply moving more…

From Dr. Gabe Mirkin:

Drugs No Better than Exercise to Save Lives
Researchers reviewed 305 studies involving 339,274 participants and found that exercise is as effective as drugs in preventing death from heart attacks and diabetes, and is more effective in preventing death from strokes (British Medical Journal, October 2013).

People with heart disease who exercised but did not use drugs had no more risk of dying than the patients taking drugs. People with mild diabetes who did not take drugs but exercised had the same survival rate as those taking drugs. Drugs such as statins, angiotensin-converting-enzyme inhibitors and those to prevent clots, were not shown to be more effective than exercise in preventing second heart attacks.

Exercisers Have Lower Cancer Rates and Better Survival Rates
Many studies show that regular exercisers are less likely to suffer many different types of cancer. A new study following 293,511 men and women for 12 years shows that people who exercised before they were diagnosed with cancer are less likely to die from their cancers than those who did not exercise (International Journal of Cancer, 12/06/2013). Compared to people who rarely exercised, those who exercised for more than seven hours per week had lower death rates from cancers of the colon by 30 percent, of the liver by 29 percent, of the lung by 16 percent, and by 20 percent in cases of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. However, exercisers had an 18 percent higher death rate with cancer of the kidney.

Exercise After Cancer Diagnosis Prolongs Lives
A review of 48 studies covering 40,674 colon/colorectal cancer cases showed reduced recurrence among patients who continued to exercise, and the more a person exercised, the less likely the cancer was to recur (Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2001 Jun;33(6 Suppl):S530-50; discussion S609-10). In the same journal issue, a review of 41 studies covering 108,031 breast cancer cases showed that people who exercised moderately had reduced breast cancer recurrence.

We need more public service advertising to encourage exercise and healthful eating to counteract the heavy advertising from pharmaceutical companies.