Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


i really put alot of effort into preparing for barkley this year.

hearing the conch at midnight wasn't a complete surprise, but i definitely wasn't pumped about it.
adaptability means making the best of whatever hand is point in doing anything other than adapting!

loop 1 went basically perfectly, i had a few minutes of concern during the hailstorm, but that ended up not being a problem.
coming down from chimney top, brett commented, "so, 5 loops seems doable."

obviously i, too, think 5 loops is doable, but i sure don't remember having that much confidence immediately upon finishing MY first loop back in '08 :)

leaving on loop 2 i decided to let brett and alan go ahead, so that i could go at my own pace rather than be influenced by these two guys who were moving so quickly with ease. it turned out that a nature stop allowed travis to catch me right at the top of bird mountain, and i think we were both fine with company. we nailed everything for the remainder of the loop, and after some discussion we decided to take 50 minutes to shower and rest before loop 3. i ended up being unable to fall asleep, and decided to let travis go ahead, but make sure i got the rest. when i got up after an additional 30 minutes i found that travis had decided to wait so we'd head out together.

loop 3 was definitely the toughest. travis was sleepy and i was plain fatigued. leaving at 11pm meant we had a long time to go before light. travis seemed a little more coherent and strong, but that may have just been my perception since i knew i was struggling. without going into too much detail, we botched hell, zipline, and the bad thing. the worst of these 3 was the bad thing, where i imagine we lost a solid 40 minutes.

after our third 15 minute nap of the loop, travis finally had to cut me loose while i struggled on rat jaw. when i sat down for a few minutes i downed a cheeseburger i found in my pack...that got my blood sugar up, and i was able to keep it up for another complete loop!

i charged up the rest of rat jaw, descended pighead (although i made another bad mistake here) and charged up meth lab. i was really cruising and then i looked at my watch and realized i could still get in under 36 and make a bid for 4+ loops. i never looked back. i ran down spectacle and caught travis. i was surprised and pleased that he immediately picked it up and i figured we'd both make the 36 hour cutoff, but i knew we couldn't lolligag. since the sun was up it was a little easier to focus and i just concentrated on hitting some calories near the bottom of each descent, not making navigation mistakes, and keeping the effort as high as i could.

i was interesting to have my brain needing to concentrate just to maintain normal function. a few times on the NBT i would have my head down and notice a rock and think, "man, i just saw that rock 5 minutes ago, did i turn around and start going CW without noticing?"
i tried to think ahead and make sure that if there were any trails junctions ahead i'd get past them without doing something stupid. i was confident in making the cutoff and heading back out, but i haven't had tons of experience with this much exhaustion, so i wanted to concentrate on maintenance. at bald knob i noticed travis wasn't behind me, but i assumed he'd just stopped to pee. by the time i reached phillips creek i had some worry in me about him, since we'd lost contact so long ago, i hoped he was close, but wasn't willing to miss 36 hours to wait and see how he was!

i ran the whole way down from bird mountain, i kept up my excitement coming in to camp. the "easy" button was a highlight - i smacked it with authority! i was moving easily, and really excited that at the very least i was going on loop 4. byron backer and i have been talking about this for 4 years, and finally one of us was going to do it.

my dad, scott b, my buddy james, and jb (maybe others too?) helped make a few decisions for me as i took a 15 minute break and waited to leave on loop 4. i assumed travis would come in a few minutes after me, and even thought blake had an outside chance of joining us, but with 8 minutes to go, everyone was rushing me out of camp. i didn't feel an urgent rush to leave, as i knew a little rest wasn't going to ruin me, and i was definitely going to accomplish all the tough navigation of the south section before it got dark.

i took off with 7ish minutes to spare, right after dad reminded me that, "ok, your goal is to finish this loop!"
honestly i wasn't even trying to wrap my head around anything in particular, i just wanted to get to the next book!
between camp and rat jaw i needed to lie down 3 times to let my brain rest, but when i was moving it was with purpose. the warm afternoon hit me a couple times, because i had left camp without my extra water bottle, one of my crew must have thought it was trash, because it wasn't in my pack anymore...whoops! i should have checked for it!

it took me 6:40 to get to the fire tower, if my memory serves me, which meant i had 5:20 to finish the loop....but on loop 3 i had crushed this portion of the course in daylight, and it took me almost 6 hours - i knew i couldn't make it. i also knew that i was going to need a serious nap when the sun went plan was to get to the fire tower and hope there was someone there who could contact gary or my dad and let them know i would be several hours late finishing loop 4 and not to worry about me. as i neared the tower, i didn't hear any chattering, and got a little concerned. when i crested the lip, i saw that indeed there was no one there. i was pretty disappointed and sat there for a few minutes trying to think of another option that would keep the search parties from getting called out. i was hoping some random hiker would round the bend looking to catch the sunset from frozen head and i'd be able to hijack them into delivering my message, but no such luck. after 10 minutes, i realized that i could still be REALLY happy with my effort, and i should just forget about continuing. i headed down s old mac, running most of it feeling quite well.

what a weekend, thanks to all who made it so cool. it is quite a privilege to be a part of this community.

i had a hilarious laugh with james on the ride home when i realized i hadn't thought about sex in 3 days. when else does that happen?

barkley, the 5 loop libido killer!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

catching up

so, idaho was a great time.
2 weeks of crunching up and down the boise foothills was pretty tiring, but my hosts made it well worth the trek out west.

the day before i left i had an adventure running from boise to shafer butte and back...something i did during my visit a few years ago, but this time there was 3 feet of snow up there.

starting before sunrise, the hills were gorgeous. i quickly shed my tights and gained altitude to enter the snow zone. i wondered whether i'd meet the sun at the ridge, or if it would beat me there?
turns out i don't recall the exact moment when day broke, because i was just out cruising.

after several half mile long section with deep crusty snow, when i wondered if this trek was even possible in a single day, i made it to the ski slopes around noon. running on the groomed surfaces was such a treat, no worries about post-holing and pulling a muscle. i was even able to run effectively up the final grade above 7000' (which was a nice bonus for all this training), but ski patrol literally stopped me in my tracks 200 yards from the peak. apparently it's against insurance policy to travel uphill on the ski slopes. i got to run (escorted) down the ski mountain, and inhaled a cheeseburger and fries at the lodge, after which i headed down bogus basin road for 1 mile to connect back to the snowy ridge road.

a wrong turn soon thereafter led me down, down, down, and necessitated a cross country (off trail) ascent of the ridge.
what an adventure packed into 1500'!

as the afternoon receded into evening i arrived at 8th st extension and really brought the run home....8 miles all down hill as the sky was set off with every color of the rainbow. the day and the run and my mind were all in the "right place."

two weeks in boise meant a great deal to me, and i'll draw enthusiasm from my time and friends there for quite a while.


just 6 days later i went back at it in north georgia
the springer it forward (
run went down yesterday, and was quite a success.
perhaps not in the traditional way, where you exceed your expectations and enjoy the adulation of the 6 people who care, but in the more fundamentally important way....the way where you are satisfied and happy.


after working all day thursday and hurriedly packing up, i headed to springer mountain (with extra flashlight battery stop in dahlonega) and parked at much for a few moments of rest before going for 24 hours!

i set out immediately just to make it to the start by midnight.
boy o boy - the howling winds and snow were not what i had envisioned.
for 7 hours i glided through the dark woods, happy that i was out there, but spending precious energy buffering the cold and dealing with the extra muddy trails (luckily by midmorning the mud would all be ice)

popping out at neels gap before 8am, i was greeted by a couple enthusiastic buddies who would comfort me throughout the trek. jim ran 21 miles from neels to unicoi, and then later did the night shift from 9pm-1am finishing at the NC line. he was upbeat and enjoying his time in the mountains. james took the zombie patrol and walked behind me from unicoi to dicks creek...there's a reason this guy hangs out with me, and it ain't because he thinks i'm smart.
never the less, what a great friend to suffer through the freezing and thankless job of ushering me during the low times. thanks james.

as the sun sank, i saw two potentialities...
1. continue from dicks creek to NC, and probably miss my FKT by a few minutes, and be really uncomfortable...this option also sort of precluded continuing into NC, because the bailout points were very inconvenient for my buddies.
or 2. take a drive down the mountain, grab a meal and a hotel room for a 30 minute nap, and then return to the trail and shoot for a midnight finish at bly gap. i "liked" this option because it would allow me to experience the recooperation possible from a nap after 36 hours of going (a fair approximation of finishing the fun run and then taking a short rest before heading out onto loop 4 at barkley)....and it also made me summon some special motivation: to go down to a comfy hotel room and then willingly subject myself to another 4+ hours back on my feet in the middle of the night....well, let's just say i wasn't terribly excited about the feelings my muscles were going to experience.

in the end, the discipline was practiced, and success was achieved. we enjoyed a great day in a beautiful place, and i put a decent stamp on the barkley training for this year's even bigger success to come.

Monday, February 21, 2011

boise and better - day 1

from day one of mountain trekking in idaho....2011. 24 miles up to the ridge and back. 5k' gain (not enough- but the post holing up to my thighs made it a workout...)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

winter in wolfskin

well, recent weekends in the nantahala and chattahoochee NF's, in conjunction with nearly 2 months without missing a day of running, have made for a great start to the winter....above: highlights from "blizzard 2011"