Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Strolling along singing a song.
What song is it?
It sounds like...noise.
Society Hill Train Depot
(Photo credit: jimmywayne)
It sounds like inhuman humming.
It sounds mechanical.
The ledge is there.
The drop is there.
The post is there.

So are you running?
Are you limping?
Are you meandering?
Are you making progress?

Are you looking around?
What do you see?
What do you hear?
What do you think?

I suppose it's time to start.
The blathering on has become monotonous.
It's time to burn the farm down.
It's time to head to the cantina.

Nothing grandiose.
It isn't noteworthy.
It just is.
Right now.
Can't see around the corner anyway.

Time for a run.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Steamboat Anniversary Runs

So this here is one of those catch up posts.

Outside of the glee of DNFs in every ultra I started this year, there were some actual "fun" runs.  As I have mentioned many times, the most fun I have running is almost always with "teh wifey".  Teh wifey loves to run, she is good at running, and could be really quite accomplished at running if those silly things like teaching our four children, living life, loving our church members, and all the other parts of her many jobs didn't get in the way.

That being said, we got to celebrate fifteen years of marital bliss this July.  As part of the celebration we went up to one of our new favorite places to go, Steamboat Springs, CO.  Last year I futilely attempted the Run Rabbit Run 100 and other than the running result, we really enjoyed the area.  Thus it worked for our summer plans to leave our kids with family and head up together for a few days of relaxation and non-stop smiling at each other.

I really like spending time with my best friend.  This trip was no different.  Of course one of the highlights was running parts of the course on fish creek trail and up to Mt. Werner.  We couldn't take the direct ski run route up to Mt. Werner due to construction but we got to see a lot of the mountain.  Here are some highlights on the trip up Fish Creek.

The trail is beautiful though it does get a bit rocky at times...

 My beautiful bride...

There are waterfalls these are some of them.

This picture is one of my favorites.  I took a similar picture (below) that was taken during last year's race.  Now I need to get up here every year to take the same picture...

and other assorted views....

and finally perhaps the most interesting picture...

Why would I be showing a blurry picture of the trail and claiming it is the most interesting?  Well as we were bombing down the trail, the sun was quickly descending over the horizon.  Teh wifey had stopped to retie her shoe and so I stopped as well.  At that moment I looked down the trail and saw a bear walking up the trail towards us.  This was invigorating.  I was slow in getting the camera out, and we had started making a lot of noise to encourage him to take a detour so the only glimpse of him is a hind foot that shows up as a dark blob right in the middle of the photo.  Really it's there!  At any rate we were glad he decided to head off the trail, as there was really thick underbrush on either side and we really didn't feel like bushwhacking through and finding the rest of the bear clan (hello mama bear?) waiting for us.

All in all about eleven miles total, a few thousand feet of elevation gain,  a beautiful sunset, a visit from a blond bear, and a great way to celebrate an anniversary!

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Leadville 100 Trail Run Race Report 2013

Hi All.

Welcome to another episode of Ace toes the line at Leadville.

For those who like to read ahead, here is the short-short version:
DNF.  Cut at Half-Pipe Outbound in 8:19 elapsed.

For who like more than a tweet, the short version:
DNF.Right on pace for the first 13.5 miles to MayQueen.  Complete and utter implosion (and many explosions) on the way to fish hatchery.  Never recovered.   Cut at Half-Pipe Outbound.

For those who like gory details, bear stories (no live bears involved,) and my witticisms, read on.  The long version ensues...

Someone asked me how my preparation for this race had went.  Since I've posted twice in the last six months or so, let me sum it up.  Blart.  On the one hand, I had not lost nearly enough weight to even consider being in this race.  It was worse than it has been previous years and obviously represents one of the biggest challenges.  On the other hand I had some good running (Best June mileage total ever,) some good results (North Fork-agonizingly close,) and had done a fair amount of strength and core cross training.  Someday I may tell you about the time(s) I checked my man card at the door and did some "fitness classes" at unhealthily early times in the morning a dozens of times...but I digress.

The routine was the norm, we stayed at a lovely place in Twin Lakes this year which had great views of Hope Pass, just to remind you of the "little" mountains that you have to climb over.  We made our preparations and got to the starting line at 3:35 A.M. on 6th and Harrison.

As has happened at every race thus far we had some great friends with us and those ready to jet in and pace if necessary.   Thank you so much for being a part.  I so appreciate your friendship and support it means the world to me!

And since I'm throwing out thanks you's, I must say thank you to teh wifey and to my family for all their support.  I wouldn't have made it one step without them.  Thanks.  You guys are the best crew ever!  (As adjudicated by countless random observers who say exactly that.)

One of the funny parts about being at the start line of Leadville is that when I turn on my Garmin GPS watch I get the unique message of "Multiple HR rate monitors detected."  Too funny.  Another funny thing was at the start in the giant herd of 800+ people?  I wound up standing right next to the same guy I sat next to in the pre-race meeting.  Go figure.  We enjoyed a few quick jokes and the shotgun fired.  Asking if this is the 50 m fun run is still my go to favorite.

I took off.  I was pretty stressed to be honest.  I was trying to relax but thinking about the cutoffs had me geared up.  The first four-five miles I took off and while trying to take it "easy" I was motoring down the boulevard.

A couple observations about the trip to MayQueen.  First of all there were a lot of people running.  A LOT.  In addition there were a lot of people dropping dukey.  And many did not bother to get off the trail very far.  It was a nasty smell.  I mean NASTY.  I about puked from the smell.  Please people take care of your dukey, don't share with the rest of us.

Second of all on a much funnier note I was just past Tabor boat ramp when someone started tapping me on the shoulder.  Thinking someone wanted to pass, I moved over and looked back.  There was a short, skinny fellow who, judging from his accent, was from Brazil or somewhere else in South America.  He was staring at me with a wide-eyed look and finally said, "YOU ARE A BEAR!"  I assumed this was in reference to the gross disproportion of our two physical sizes, and I looked down at him with a menacing look and responded with "I just ATE a bear."  We both laughed and then I added a remark indicating that I thought you were supposed to be burning fat in this race so I had a lot of extra.  Before taking off in the darkness of the morning he responded by saying that in that case he would be back to eat my arm later.  A hilarious conversation to have in the middle of the dark around Turquoise Lake...

I started to slow a bit at this point, but generally just kept my place in the conga line.  I pulled out of Mayqueen feeling relatively good.  I was still running decently, I felt somewhat tired because I had pushed it somewhat but generally felt good to be right where I wanted to be.  2:38 or so into Mayqueen.  I saw the crew, made a body glide addition and took off.   No puking before MayQueen a new record.  Unfortunately it didn't last.

I started up the Colorado Trail off of the trailhead and I was instantly gassed.  My heart rate shot up, I couldn't control my breathing I was a mess.  I started puking and couldn't stop.  I came up empty and still was dry heaving.  Awful.  Slowed to a crawl and still was feeling awful.  I just couldn't understand it.  I had felt good and was doing so well and then here we go again.  It felt like defeat.

I got up to Hagerman road and now my ambitious goals for improving my time for this segment were not going to happen.  My mental perspective was shot.  I will admit it, I let myself be defeated.  Instead of just recognizing I was having a tough time and wait for it to be done I succumbed to the wretchedness of it.  I did try to push through a few more times, but again there was something whether it was acclimation or just not being in good enough condition but physically I couldn't push without pegging out the heart rate and losing control of my breathing.  The trip to Fish was the slowest of any time I've run this race by a lot.  I honestly thought I would be cut at Fish for the first time ever and many times that sounded like a really good idea.  That's not easy to admit but it is the truth.

I got to the aid station past the normal cutoff and was told they were giving fifteen extra minutes.  I honestly don't remember much of that aid station as I had not been able to drink or eat anything for the last two hours.  I staggered through and was mostly thinking about how there was no way I would make the half-pipe cutoff.  More silly defeat thoughts.  My crew got me through, they were awesome as usual. Then I struggled out onto the road and puked some more.

Upon getting to tree line with no physical chance of making the cutoff I figured I would just stop and catch a ride there.  Teh wifey had other ideas.  She was not going to let me give up on myself even if it was only a symbolic gesture.  We had a discussion and eventually I relented.  There would be no voluntary DNF only a missed cut off.  At the time I didn't like the idea much but sitting here now I am of course very thankful for her insistent support.  I suppose some may have thought of her as being a bit rough, but it was exactly the kind of love I needed at the moment.

As I pushed up the last few miles to half-pipe I ran into a lady I had met during my first attempt.  She was the one who saw me go off course and had been futilely yelling at me to come the other way (I had my headphones in at the time.)  We reminisced about that and pushed through the hot dusty trail.  We saw some folks who had been ahead of us walking back towards Tree Line and were told they had been directed to walk that way after being cutoff.  That was a bit concerning as I didn't really feel like running all that way only to have to walk back.  Eventually I got the scissors applied to my band after missing the cutoff and got a ride from my lovely crew.

I suppose there is not much to say at this point other than a big thank you to everyone who helped me along the way.  I'm sorry I didn't produce a better result.  I wouldn't say I feel this race is impossible or that I will never try again, but I do know it will take a significantly more comprehensive and thorough preparation effort before I will consider signing up again.

Party on Garth.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Hi. 'member me? An unnecessarily long account of my fourth consecutive DNF at the North Fork 50 miler.

So I have been putting this off.   Of course that fits with the routine.

I have run every instance of the North Fork 50 mile race, starting in 2010.

You can go back and look at race reports here,     here,     and here.  Though most of them are rather depressing.  They are all DNF's.

In typical fashion, I will give you various versions of this year's race report to adapt to your level of interest.

First off,  the SHORT SHORT version.


Secondly, the SHORT version.

I made it to mile 46.4, the last cutoff and was 14 minutes past the cut off.

To be honest I didn't have much left at that point.

Thirdly, the Ridiculously, Unnecessarily Long version.

Ahhh good old North Fork.  Site of numerous spectacular failures on my part.  I went into this race with my usual absence of any level of confidence.  I had failed at Cheyenne Mountain 50k due to a weird injury.  My training has been sporadic, and my weight is this side of pianotastic.  That being said I had enough hope/sense of duty/ignorance in the face of facts to show up.

My good friend "FlyByNight" had signed up and had told me he would be doing the early start with me and running with me throughout the race.  This was a good thing.  He has finished the race in the past and it would be nice to have company during the miser-- err fun.

Got up at 3ish and made the drive up, got the sweet parking spot right next to the park (Early Start has some distinct advantages!) and got my stuff ready.  I saw Janice the uber awesome RD and gave her a hug.  She gave me the awesome smile and said "This is going to be your year!"  I agreed and I actually even almost believed her.  I really wanted to finish this thing so I wasn't forced to do it again.

I toed the line with the rest of the early starters and took off.  A few of us bunched up towards the back, I was following Ace's Back of the Pack Ultrarunning rule #3 - NEVER PASS ANYONE.  (There really is no point.)  and SuperFly and I were chatting with some folks from Texas.  They were nice folks and it was neat to see there reaction to the beautiful country we were running to which I take it was a wee bit different than what they were used to.  In a way it was a good reminder of how amazing God's Colorado creation is, when you've been through it several times you take it for granted, but seeing it through someone's eyes who is taking it in for the first time helps you appreciate it.

So the first climb was slow but probably not slow enough.  When I am with people I sometimes let that goad me into going too fast.  I was sweating and grunting up the hill and probably pushing too hard into the aerobic zone.  When we hit the top of the first climb  and started the descent I let gravity do it's thing and bombed down the hill.  We passed a few folks and were moving well.  The first ten miles went quickly, I don't remember the split but it was probably just over two hours.  The jump down to the second aid station also went quickly and we were in and out in just a minute or two.

BTW a quick note on the first aid station.   The crew at this aid station has reached legendary status.  The first time I ran the race, they had bacon.  'Nuff said.  First time I ever had bacon at an ultra.  All other aid stations are second.  Forever.  The second year they just had an amazing level of encouragement and positivity and I actually looked forward to getting there just so I could feed off it and chat with them.  And they had giant pickles.  Then last year they had bacon wraps.  Is it possible to improve on bacon?  Maybe.  Then this year.  Now I will forgive them for not having bacon.  However they had another really great idea of...meatballs.  OK meatballs might sound strange, but I think they may be a perfect ultra food.  They were soft and easy to eat, gave some protein and salt.  Very nice.   High marks for Ryan K. and his crew.

So up to this point happy, fun, giggles, fluffy sun-filled meadows, and bunny rabbits sliding down rainbows.  Then it started to warm up.  The heat was rising and it was supposed to get to around 90 degrees.  It was at this point that SuperFly and I started joking around that instantaneous cloud cover would be really nice.  Then we tried to top that, by saying that an afternoon rain shower would be even better (wasn't a cloud in the sky at the time.) Though that request was changed quickly to a why wait for it, mid-morning rain shower.  Our needs are straight forward.

What wasn't straight forward was my gastro intestinal health.  It was about four-five hours in and I was starting to not feel so good.  From about mile 16-20 things got worse.  Then krakatoa came and my shoe shouting was magnificent.  In fact it was so good, that my puking actually caused my friend to throw up a little.  Now that is some serious vomitting.  I caused a Barf-o-rama.   So I didn't accomplish nothing.

After the puking I started to have major problems with the plantar fascitis in my right foot.  I had told my partner that I needed to make sure I didn't walk for too long in any one stretch because I knew the foot would tighten up to the point that running would become almost impossible.  However the extended walking during the vomit sessions caused my foot to knot up in a very gnarly way.

I really did not want to go any farther.  Twenty miles in, ready to stop.  Our pace slowed and slowed, repeated knife-like pains in the back of my foot.  Eventually I told SuperFly to get on going because I knew he still had a chance to finish.  I stopped completely and started stretching my point in the hopes I could walk to the next aid station.

After stretching a good ten minutes I started walking again, and then I started jogging.  Then my foot started to feel no pain.  I don't really understand it but at this point I felt good.  And then it started to rain.  No really.  The mid-morning rain shower request?  Done.  For the next twenty miles I actually felt great.  I was singing some hymns at the top of my lungs while running in the rain in an amazing forest cruising along some sweet trails.  No really.  It was actually fun.  I was making up time on some folks and staying ahead of the cut offs.  I met up with SuperFly at mile 38 and unfortunately he was dropping.  I had no intetnion of dropping at that point (funny the way things can change) and took off again.

At mile 38 I was about 1 hour and 20 minutes in front of the cut off.  I knew that mile 42-46 would be the last major climb and I would need as much time as possible. I was running.  It was rather strange to be running sections of the course at far different times than previous instances.  The mile 38-42 section  I had done all three times before but usually much earlier.  I felt good for the first couple of miles and then my stomach started sending signals again.

I pulled in to mile 42 aid station and was REALLY not feeling well.  I had gained some time and was about 1 hour and 40 minutes ahead of the cutoff.  100 minutes to go approximately 4 miles.  Albeit it is four uphill miles with about  1200'+ of elevation gain/  It's hard to imagine that anyone could not cover that distance in that amount of time.  But I could not.  I tried to sit down at the aid station and almost immediately felt like throwing up.  I took a few gels and just left knowing it wasn't going to get any better.  I made it about 100 yards and the mega Krakatoa eruptions started.  And kept going and going.  Pretty much uncontrollable.  Usually you feel somewhat better after such things but in this case I did not.  I would just walk a bit more and throw up some more.  I was done.  No energy, no motivation, no mental capacity to move forward.  At one point the serious thought crossed my mind of wondering how long it might take for the search and rescue to get to me.  I did not want to take one more step.  However knowing that I was in the middle of nowhere and really had no choice but to move to get out of there I kept moving.  I reached the last aid station about fourteen minutes past the cutoff.  I think there was some consideration to letting me continue.  However I honestly had nothing left to give.  I had given everything I had to get to that point.

Part of me looks back and feels good about the nice stretch I had in the middle and making it that far when I really thought I was done at mile twenty.  Part of me agonizes over a few minutes and those last 3.6 downhill miles to a finish...

Mostly I am thankful for the opportunity to get out in God's creation for the day and give it my best shot.  Thanks to "teh fam" for making it possible.  Thanks for mid-morning rain showers on request.  Thanks for the aid station crew and RD.  Thanks for SuperFly and your entertaining banter (sorry I wasn't much of a conversationalist in return.)  Thanks for many blessings.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Where everybody knows your name... Cheyenne Mountain 50k preview


There's a trail race coming up.

It's on Saturday, April 27th, 2013 at Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Colorado.

There are several variants including a 50k.

I am signed up.  Again.

This will be the third year I have attempted it;  it is the third year of the race.

As has been wellchronicled in previous blog entries, I am the two time defending D.F.L.  My goal?  Give someone else the crown.

The crown of King Christian IV of Denmark, cur...
The D.F.L. crown.  In my own mind.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Finishing a race, and finishing as the D.F.L.  is kind of neat.  The first time.  Even struggling through and suffering through a long day and finish ( twenty minutes faster!) and still winding up D.F.L. a second time?  No shame in that.  But finishing a race for a third straight time, and winding up D.F.L. again?  I'm afraid they might rename the award after me.


Now of course in order to reach this goal I have made thorough preparations.  The workouts, the plan?  Well essentially, my training has been impeccable.  my training has consisted of  numerous skipped workouts, lazy pacing, and generally apathetic running
I've done the physical preparations and trimmed down and lost the piano in preparation for the numerous hills.  Baldwin is still my sponsor.
And I'm mentally confident and ready to attack the course.  ready to give up many days in advance?

Right.  Should be a long day.  (I think the newly implemented cutoff was created just for me.  :)

All that being said it is a great race to do.  I stopped by Colorado Running Company and picked up my packet.  It speaks volume of the race and the management that they recognize me and are still willing to hand me a race bib when they know that means they have to stay on the course for many extra hours.  Andrea and her crew are great and so encouraging.  If you need a trail race on your calendar you really should be out there for this one!  I offered to carry a flag and lead the nine hour pace group.    Though they didn't take me up on it.

I'd love to finish in about eight hours, though considering I'm gassed after about fifteen minutes, that may be a bit of a challenge.

But don't we all need a challenge?  I have mine.  The D.F.L. is going down!

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

No time.

English: A synthetic sponge, to be used in hou...
Spongeriffic.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I don't have anything philosophical today.

Today was a blessing of life.

I chose to run some.  It didn't feel great.  In fact it felt quite awful for most of the time.  Random assorted pains,  stress about not being in very good shape, worry over a race that is a week away.  These things are like sponges that suck away energy and life and initiative.  

I really don't have the will to pay those debts.

So I'm not going to worry about how much I haven't run, all the things I failed to do perfectly, all the mistakes I made, the times I gave up, the slowness, the missed training plans, the goals that were never attained.

I'm just going to be thankful for being able to move around a bit today and be outside, and even get a bit sunburned.

There will be no worrying about tomorrow or yesterday or anything else.

Just savoring the blessing of today.


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Friday, April 5, 2013

Quiet determination.

There will be no taunting today.  There will be no blustering, puffed up, blowhard-ery  (word? it is now.)  There will be no Mr. T references, no inspirational youtube videos, no chest bumps.  There will be no grunting, no screams, and I will not be performing the Haka for you today.  (OK maybe one youtube video.)    There will be no boasting, or trashtalking, or promises made in the heat of battle.

There is only quiet determination.  The unstated, unnoticed, exhausting, gutwrenching, sweat-inducing, overwhelming, work will be done. There will be no red carpet at the end, no spotlight, no award ceremony.  The work will not be broadcast on a regional public access TV channel, and there will be no interview.  It won't generate hits on my facebook page and I won't list it on my annual performance review.

But oh dear friends, there will be a reward.  There will be a reward.  Not today.  But it is coming.

Until then.  I run.  And I run and I run.

Wilma Rudolph at the finish line during 50 yar...
Wilma Rudolph at the finish line during a track meet in Madison Square Garden (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
"I ran and ran and ran every day, and I acquired this sense of determination, this sense of spirit that I would never, never give up, no matter what else happened."  - Wilma Rudolph

How are you running the race today?

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Keep Calm and Run On

Keep Calm and Run OnKeep Calm and Run On.  

I got a pretty nifty poster from my oldest sister the other day.  There is an outline of a runner and the above words in white on a blue background.  I think this is solid advice.  In many situations it does apply.

I suppose there are a lot of distractions.  From all of our goals.  Sometimes even the prospect of thinking about them seems overwhelming and exhausting.  I think the alternative is to just keep moving forward.  Not too high, not too low, just keep running.  

So that is what I will do.  Don't ask me about tomorrow.  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


To Risk

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out is to risk involvement,
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and
dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return,
To live is to risk dying,
To hope is to risk despair,
To try is to risk failure.
But risks must be taken because
the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing, does nothing,
has nothing, is nothing.
– William Arthur Ward (1921-1994)

What deep, unsearchable pool will you dive into today?