Wednesday, December 31, 2008

First Words of 2009

Marty: (as she tries to get ready for bed): Our son steals chapstick.
Me: What does he do with them?
Marty: He doesn't bring them back.

It's Time To Start Running

I've taken a running break these past few months. It's been good. I've missed running.
It seems like it's time to start up again, though. This year, I'd like to run a little differently than last.

Last year, Pete and I ran just over 26.2 miles every Monday morning. Pete often ran on other days as time allowed. I did not. For me, it was a great way to balance running, family and school.

I ran several more ultra races in 2008 than in 2007. I also attempted two 100 milers. One was Leadville where I again made it to Winfield. This year was faster, but the thought of going back up over Hope Pass defeated me again.

The other was during the Twin Cities Marathon weekend in which we did a 50 miler the day before, I ran from my house to St. Paul in the wee hours of the morning before the marathon, and then ran the marathon. The problem was that it rained during the marathon, I got too cold, and dropped at mile 13.

This year, I would like to:
• run more night runs. Start at 10pm and get back home around 4am.
• run a little more on the road so I'm not limited to finding trails.
• run more 50K and 50 mile races. Marty reminds me that immediately after Leadville I had better judgment than currently. After Leadville I emphatically stated that I need to complete a non-altitude 100 miler before attempting Leadville again. I'm not as emphatic these days. You see, the Leadville registration came in the mail this week! loving wife actually brought it into the house rather than throwing it in the trash before I could see it.

New Year's Eve & Saturday Night Live

We're watching the New Year's Eve celebration in NY. Well, we're watching it here at midnight. We honestly thought it was a Saturday Night Live skit.

Dick Clark has a good excuse - a stroke earlier in 2008.
Kelly Pickler - eyelashes look like they were frozen or that a ski slope's snow making machine got off course and blew into her face.
Taylor Swift - scarecrow with hair.
Ryan Seacrest - seems to have a vocabulary of one word: incredible. Maybe he's just trying to convince us.
The Jonas Brothers - they were holding some modicum of normalcy.
Lionel Ritchie - anytime Lionel Ritchie is in anything, one must automatically assume it's a spoof. Why not just have Al Sharpton up there?

We had to switch channels to something more intelligent. We're now watching a computer generated Eval Knieval son, Robbie, jumping a computer generated ramp on a computer generated motorcycle over a computer generated volcano in a computer generated Las Vegas.

We've just been told not to try this at home. Hmmm... We've also been advised that if he falls in the volcano, it will "sear his equipment and his lungs." I really have to wonder what "equipment."

Okay. Whew. He made it. Oh good. The REPLAY.

Marty must be drunk. She just changed back to the New Year's Eve Saturday Night Live skit.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Even Dads get Sick

I went in to the office yesterday and felt good. Thought I'd escape this sickness. Marty called at 4:30 and said we might need to take Zeke to Children's Hosp. He wasn't taking food or liquid and was listless. I came home, we planned a way to get Marty and Zeke to the hosp, and then he started eating and drinking. About this time, I started having diarrhea. Zeke got better, I got worse. I visited the bathroom every 20 minutes from 6 to midnight, then every 40 minutes until 3am. Then came stomach pains like I've never known. Started throwing up at 3am. AFTERWARD, it felt so good.

Diarrhea every 40 minutes until 5am. Stomach aches again but no throw up.

I'm up now, and have drank a full glass of ice water (forget peace on earth, ice water is all I wanted last night).
Levi is still pretty listless, Marty is tired but felling much better, Emma work up this morning and said she was starving and ate a bowl of cereal. I'm gong to stick with liquids for most of the day.

It's so nice to feel good.

Friday, December 12, 2008


If you also use Twitter, please "follow" my Twittering:
I'm only asking you to do so so that I have some one to "follow."

Twitter Test

Being a complete tech idiot, I went ahead and created a Twitter account.
This is simply a test to see if this blog automatically bridges to the new Twitter site.
Bridges and Buckets...that's my life!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another One Bites the....

Levi just woke from a dead sleep to commence a violent display of projectile vomiting into.... his blankets. I'm so glad we saved one bucket from overuse.

Marty just came into the kitchen to announce that she woke up in time to add a hash mark to her bucket. Thank goodness tomorrow is trash pick-up day.

Not Enough Buckets

Beginning Monday night, our lives have been dominated by buckets. Yes, buckets.
Not necessarily your 5 gallon bucket, which is a real man's bucket, but "bucket" in terms of "anything that will hold liquid or a curdled, thickened bodily fluid.

Like this one...
Eli's Bucket
Zeke began throwing up Monday night; about every 45 minutes until midnight, then about every other hour. By Tuesday afternoon, he'd thrown up every solid and liquid he'd taken in. (In case you were wondering, a two year old's throw up is as cute as an adult's.)

Marty and I took him to the hospital. I literally thank God for Zofran because it would otherwise have been a night of IVs. A two year old bucket looks like a large, plastic sock. We found out that it makes for a great hand puppet. Zeke has slowly been coming back around today.

When Emma arrived home from YEAH, she took over. We got her a bucket (trash can). In fact, she's probably on course to beat Zeke's record of 17. Then Eli joined. He got a bucket, a.k.a. trash can. Then Marty joined. Bigger "bucket." Just before everyone got into bed, Levi complained of a stomach ache. Another bucket. I sat with him from 9 - 9:40 while he cried, moaned and screamed but never threw up. Finally, lest she be left out, Grace decided she needed a "bucket." Grace has never been sick a day in her life and is not really sick right now.

So, that leaves just me...and no extra "buckets!" If it comes to it, I'll empty the corn for the deer that is kept in a real 5 gallon bucket.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Recent Ultra to Church

Several weeks ago, with Marty's approval and blessing, I set off on foot for church. We live in Stillwater but attend church in downtown Minneapolis, just blocks from the Metrodome. I left at 3am with the goal of reaching the church around 8:30 (just enough time to wash up and slide into our spot about 5 rows from the front on the right side).

Marty brought the kids and my clothes and we did meet around 8:45.
The morning was beautiful but cold. I encountered some problems with my right knee from mile 3 to 14, then cramping in leg muscles the rest of the way. Hammer salt capsules every 10 minutes helped. I also failed to bring enough food.

Nevertheless, the Gateway Trail was beautiful. I came up on one person on the trail at about 4:30am. I think he was homeless. I also found some trails right along the west bank of the Mississippi River below the river road between Lake Street and the University.

I met Vikings and Green Bay Packer fans around the Metrodome and could have eaten several of their grilled delights.
27 Miles to Church

Friday, November 21, 2008

St. Croix Law, P.S.C.

I'm up and running.

Here are two photos of the front of the building I'm in.

Check out the web site at

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Eli Fiddling

Here's Eli at his first fiddle contest!

More Buttons Fiddling

Check out Emma in her first fiddle contest.
Video of Eli is coming.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Slow Train Coming

Like most things in my life since I turned 36.5, I try to begin slowly. Burning out does not suit me well. First, I haven't the energy to start fast. Second, I've found that I miss a lot when I leave the chute too fast.

Law school was a big test of this new approach. Most students in law school are significantly anxious. There is much to be anxious about: final exams, being called on during a lecture (the Socratic method can be intimidating during the first year), class rank, a stellar closing argument, polished brief, proper and thorough analysis, finding the perfect case on point. The list is endless.

I had three goals in law school:
1. Keep my scholarship the entire three years (evaluated each semester)
2. Understand the law being studied
3. Keep my family close-knit and thriving.
I wanted to come out on the back end of law school as a better husband and father than when I started. So, I took it slow. I didn't worry about class rank or trying to impress teachers or other students. I studied well for each exam, but not unreasonably. As each year passed, my grades improved each semester.

Running has also been subjected to this approach. Now, my attitude while running is, "Am I running now in such a manner that I can still be running 4 hours from now?" There are no mad dashes any more.

I started my own law firm about two weeks ago; same approach. A great office space in downtown Stillwater at a great price in one of the oldest buildings in town. Not over-the-top, not dumpy. It squarely fits the tone of downtown Stillwater. It squarely fits the tone of me. It helps that one of the co-tenants is an investment company - they're "classy." I've a desk, two chairs, a computer and a printer. Clients came in this week and they sat on folding chairs. They actually liked it. My goal is to spend as little money as possible - you can stay around a lot longer with no debt.

This week, I'll move in a beautiful desk and a file cabinet - gifts from a nice lady who is leaving for MT and not taking her office furniture. Some days, however, it is good to remind myself that a slow train coming eventually moves quite fast and steady.

Check out the web site at: St. Croix Law, P.S.C.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yes, those were trail shoes on the Brooklyn Bridge

Yes, I'm going to do it. I'm making a plug for my favorite running shoe ever.
The Brooks Cascadia 3.

Reasons I love this shoe:
1. It is lightweight,
2. well-cushioned in the fore and aft,
3. does not ride too high,
4. is breathable, drains water well and dries quickly,
5. has a forefoot rock-plate,
6. is more durable than the Brooks Cascadia 2 (the outsides of which blow out after about 70 miles of trail running),
7. comes in great colors (demon red, grey, and green. Yellow for ladies)
8. I rarely get blisters in this shoe. No blisters during recent 76 mile run, small blister from 50 miles at Leadville.
9. Smells good even after many uses.
10. Works well on pavement. I ran 26 of the 76 miles on pavement with no problems and adequate cushioning.
11. Works great on the trails: good traction on grass, trails, in mud, in water, on snow.
12. It is reasonably priced at about $90.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Some NYC Suggestions

Marty and I had a great time in NYC. Much of this was the result of the apartment where we stayed. We also did a number of free things. Here are some ideas that might help if you decide to go to NYC.

Apartment: Top floor of a 7 story building in the South Street area of Lower Manhatten.

View of Brooklyn Bridge (above 2) and looking back at Lower Manhattan, both from the apartment

• we had an outdoor terrace that looked directly onto the Brooklyn Bridge and Pier 17.
• The view of the East River gave us the feeling that we weren't in NYC. We've stayed in other places where our view was of the Brownstones on the other side of the street.
• restaurants, bars, and shops of the Water Street/South Seaport area are literally 2 minutes from the building's front door
• very inexpensive for NYC.
• 15 minute walk from: Wall Street, Battery Park, St. Paul's Cathedral, Ground Zero
• Great places to run: 50 minute run over Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridges with very few traffic stops.

Running across the Brooklyn Bridge

• The apartment was a great size and very clean

Free things

• Staten Island Ferry. It's a free 25 minute ride past the Statute of Liberty. Jump on at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal next to Battery Park (15 minute walk from the apartment)

Marty on the Ferry

• Tent and Trails outdoor store. Lots of great deals. Emphasis on climbing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New York City Weekend

Photos up now. Details to come.

NYC photos.

Ultra Weekend Details (more photos than details)

For a great description of the Saturday, read Pete's blog of Saturday's 50 miler.

For lots of photos, see my photo album.

During Saturday's 50 miles on the Ice Age Trail, I stuggled from mile 18 to 35 with a sour stomach and weak legs. Since Leadville, I'd run about a total of 10 miles. During this time, Mitch, with years of experience, did something brilliant. He would fall back and have me lead the train. As he put it, my pride made me run faster and stronger.

We all were impressed with Erik. He's a 17 year old young man, brother of my daughter's friend from church. He had hiked nearly 150 miles of the Superior Trail in September, most of those miles were solo. When I asked him to join us, it seemed like he might be able to keep up, especially if we walked a lot. Erik not only kept up, but was always either right behind Mitch or Molly. I don't think Erik was too fond of the walking. I think he could have run the entire distance.

As we sat ieating protein n a bar in Luck, WI, I settled on the advice of those around the table that I should get a little sleep before heading out again. I was tired, sore and a little more beat up than I had hoped to be at 50 miles.

Mitch drove Eli and me home; I tried to sleep. Once home, I simply went into list-check-off mode for an hour, assembling and sorting supplies for the next section. I need to carry supplies for the night run as well as supplies for the marathon. To bed at midnight. Awake in bed until 1am. Some sleep from 1-2:30. Up. Dress. Eat Life cereal. Out the door. Park the car. Start running at 3:30.

I began with a headlamp, but the trail was smooth and I figured that if someone were to attempt to "jump" me, I'd be more difficult to find without a headlamp on. It was beautiful to run with no lighting. Under Highway 36, under 694, into North Saint Paul.

The lights from houses and buildings were a comfort. Especially as I neared the Lake Phalen area where several runners have recently been attacked.

2 minutes of running, 2 of walking - for 3 hours. This gave me 6 miles every hour. A great strategy as I worried about reaching the early morning shuttle bus to the marathon start.

The bridge crossing Highway 35E was glorious as the downtown buildings were lit up and cars passed underneath. It also meant that the state capitol was only 2 miles away. Past the capitol, and crews setting up the marathon finish area.

A fast, prideful, finish run to the Kelley Inn. 13.8 miles. The total mileage by 6:15am was now 63 miles. Hot water from the bathroom tap to mix with my dehydrated chicken noodle soup mix. Stand in line for the bus. 30 minute bus ride to the metrodome. Chicken soup mix tasted terrible.

At the metrodome, I was met by Helen Lavin and friend Val. Helen had prepared peanut butter sandwiches and a Coke for me. Val brought along a bog of food that could have fed an army. It was so nice to meet them and talk with them both. I think the friendly conversation did me more good than all the food.

I started the marathon in corral 1 but the folks in corral 2 (having started 90 seconds later) passed me before I had even reached the first mile. I stuck to my 2 minute on/off strategy for the first hour. Then, it started to rain and get cold. I was not moving very fast so I got very cold.

At mile 8, I borrowed a spectator's phone, called Marth and asked her to come pick me up. While she had her phone on her, she had set it to flight mode and she didn't get any of my subsequent 6 calls until after church. It was probably best this way. I kept going. Some people gave me a slice of pizza and a large cup of coffee. I'd never run a marathon with a cup of coffee in hand.

At mile 9, the sag wagon caught me and a nice lady from Texas. She was tapering for the Marine Marathon the next weekend. Either get on the bus and drop out or stay ahead of it. I played cat and mouse with the bus until mile 13.1. Having run 76 miles by 11am, I stopped. 76 miles in 19 hours.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

100 Mile (76 Mile) Run

Here are photos of Saturday and Sunday's runs. I'll try to fill in the photos with details real soon.
100 Mile Attempt (76 Mile Actual)

Passing the Bar

Much has transpired this weekend.

• By late Sunday morning, I finished a 100 mile running attempt at mile 76. (I stopped at mile 13 of the Twin Cities Marathon: no official marathon finish but one of the best runs ever). Look for details soon.
• Eli ran/walked with me for the last 10 miles of Saturday's 50 miles on the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin. 3 hours with my son, pursuing a goal together, decked out in Camelbaks and headlamps.
• The bar results were posted this morning, and I passed. We invited four dear friends to join us for brunch and the long-awaited web-posting check. We wanted these friends around because 1) if the results were positive, they would share in our joy because they have been involved with our family from the start of law school; praying for us, asking about how we're doing, bringing us fruits and vegetables from their garden, incorporating our family into theirs, and 2) if the results were negative, they would with non-cliched, experience-laden words remind us that God is sovereign and uses all things to bring Himself glory and us joy.

Here we are after learning the results.
Left to right: Larry and Alice Agnew.
David Michael is holding a sign with 708 on it, my bar exam I.D. His wife Sally is on the far right.
Eli, Grace, Emma, Levi, and my wife Marty holding Zeke.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Moving Mountains

On Sunday, Pastor Piper, beginning a likely 10 year series through the book of John, said that the disciples were skeptics; it took them three years to believe that Jesus was the Christ.  I like that.  Belief based in skepticism.

There is talk in the Bible about moving mountains: if one has enough faith, they can move mountains; in Job, God moves mountains;  in Isaiah, valleys will be lifted and mountains made low; in the future, mountains and islands move. 

I've never seen a mountain move.  I've thought, "Yeah, during creation, the Ice Age, mountains probably moved.  And there are volcanoes that are basically moving mountains."  But I've always struggled with mountain-moving, and similar, references in the Bible.  It's easy to dismiss these as figures of speech.  But I'd much rather believe in a God who can literally move mountains than one that hides behind grand promises of vague realities.

During the Leadville 100 race, I wanted several particular mountains to move.  One song I listened to, Mighty to Save, seemed to taunt me:

Everyone needs compassion
Love that’s never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Saviour
The hope of nations

He can move the mountains
For my God is mighty to save
He is mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

For the last two weeks, my wife has spoken only one sentence to me as we lie in bed at night: "Can I read you just a little bit of this?"  She was reading, The Worst Hard Time, by Timothy Egan.  It's a "can't-put-it-down" history of the 1930s American dust bowl and Great Depression.  I've started it and can't stop thinking about it.  From the first pages, I've sat stunned.

What does this have to do with mountain-moving?  
From The Worst Hard Time:
"A Sunday in mid-April 1935 dawned quiet, windless, and bright. In the afternoon, the sky went purple - as if it were sick - and the temperature plunged. People looked northwest and saw a ragged-topped formation on the move, covering the horizon. ... As the black wall approached, car radios clicked off, overwhelmed by the static. Ignitions shorted out. Waves of sand, like ocean water rising over a ship's prow, swept over roads. Cars went into ditches. A train derailed. ...  
That was Black Sunday, April 14, 1935, day of the worst duster of them all. The storm carried twice as much dirt as was dug out of the earth to create the Panama Canal. The canal took seven years to dig; the storm lasted a single afternoon. More than 300,000 tons of Great Plains topsoil was airborne that day."

I was stunned.  This was no figure of speech.  It was a mountain moved.  In modern times. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

100 Miles & Meals for Children

100 miles...
Two previous attempts at the Leadville 100 Trail Race.  But that's at 10,000 ft, and lots of climbing.  

Oct. 4  50 miles in Wisconsin on the Ice Age Trail
Oct 5   24 miles to Minneapolis
    26.2 miles in the Twin Cities Marathon

... to see if I can do it; to raise money for a great charity.

I asked my children what charities.  They immediately said Loose Change to Loosen Chains15 year old Zach Hunter's organization to end modern-day slavery and Feed My Starving Children.  Both of these organizations are "powered" by teenagers, a growing phenomena encouraged and championed by teenagers Brett and Alex Harris.

We chose Feed My Starving Children, right here in the Twin Cities.  FMSC assembles meals for starving children for 17¢/meal.  

Can you help? Do you want to donate a dollar, 20¢ per mile or a lump sum?  If so, please let me know the amount.  Once I'm done, whatever is left of me will contact you.  You can either send donations to me to pass on or directly to FMSC (see their website).

Monday, September 8, 2008

Crazy Ideas

      Oct. 4   "Underground" 50 Mile Run through Wisconsin.
 +  Oct. 5  Twin Cities Marathon
76 miles

I figure that since I won't be running Twin Cities to break any time (fast time) records, the real issue is to cross the finish line before they stop giving out Finisher shirts.  Worst case scenario, I can walk the entire marathon and most likely make the deadline.  Therefore...

+ 24 miles (Stillwater to Minneapolis, Metrodome)
100 Miles in 30-32 hours  (I've been inspired by all those Superior 100 runners!!)

Here's how it might work:

Awake at 4:30am and drive to Luck, WI.  Carpool to the Ice Age 50; start running at 7am.
Finish the 50 miler around 7pm in Luck, WI at the Wren, a very classy coffee shop.
(My son, Eli, will join us for the last 10 mile section.  Also, Erik from church may join us as well as Mitch from the Dead Runners.)  Eat and socialize until 8:30.  Drive home, plug in the Garmin and cell phone, and go to bed around 11pm.

Awake at 2:00am and drive a few miles to the Gateway Trail; start running at 2:30am.  Run to St. Paul, down Summit, over the Franklin Bridge, through the Univ. campus, and arrive at the Metrodome around 7:30.  Desperately search for as much food as I can find before the 8am Wave 1 start.  I'm sure I'll look like a pre-winter squirrel!

Start the official marathon at 8am.  Runners have until 2:15pm to finish in order to get a shirt and medal.  That's a 13:44 pace.

Charity Purpose:
Such a run must have more value than just a sore body.  My first ultra was a 50 mile, midnight to noon run.  I asked friends to donate for each mile to a Pro-Life group.  We raised about $900.  

I asked the kids what charity this run should support.  They suggested two that are much better than anything I would have thought of:
• Any organization whose purpose is to free modern-day slaves, as encouraged by Loose Change to Loosen Chains; an organization founded by teenager Zach Hunter.
Feed My Starving Children; Emma spent a Saturday packing meals for this organization.  17 cents sends a meal overseas.  
Each of these organizations is fueled by teenagers.  My children have been challenged lately by the Harris Brothers to rise above the typical teenage apathy of our culture and do hard things.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

An Ultra Weekend in October

For the past several years, Pete has hosted an "underground" ultra run on the Ice Age Trail in western Wisconsin. The date is picked by 1) determining the schedules of the 2-3 runners, 2) guessing at the best time for the fall colors and 3) trying to derail the possibility for a PR at the Twin Cities Marathon.

This year, the 50 mile run will be held the day before the Twin Cities Marathon, Saturday, October 4. What better way to dash the possibility of breaking 3:45 than to run 50 miles the day before the marathon?

Would you like to join us in this annual tradition?

Check out Pete's
blog for the full story and history.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Video of Mamo Wolde - Olympic Marathon 1968 Olympics

Tonight, thanks to the inspiration of the blogger of 22 Words, I searched and found footage of Mamo Wolde running & winning the 1968 Olympic marathon in Mexico City.
Abebe Bikila had won the previous 2 Olympic marathons, but in this one dropped at 17 km. Legend has it that Abebe, Mamo Wolde's commanding officer, ordered Mamo to win the race in his stead. This video shows them running together, and then Mamo running solo and winning.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Twin Lakes to Winfield

Twin Lakes is an interesting mountain town.  It sits on the pass to Aspen (the one I've never taken), about 6 miles west off Highway 24.  There are 3-4 buildings on the main street/highway.  Two appear to be lodges, one small grocery-type store and possibly a fourth building.  I'm not certain what the hours of the grocery store are.  Last year, it was open at 11pm on Saturday night during the race.  This year, it was closed at 5 pm on a weeknight.  

Behind these buildings lie several dozen mountain-town style of houses.  These houses don't make any sense to me.  I imagine that the winters have lots of snow and are quite cold.  Nevertheless, most of these houses don't appear, from the outside, to be able to weather a winter in Key West.  Possibly cost is a factor.  Still, while not a professional builder, I think I could devise a low cost house that might stand up better than some of the ones I saw.   

If I were to have a house in Twin Lakes, or Leadville, it would consist of outside walls of concrete (pretty cheap), about 24 inches of insulation (still cheaper than timber), and it would be underground, thus allowing for a foundation and walls for the price of one.  I'd probably use the same material for a roof that everyone in Twin Lakes seems to prefer - tin.  

I digress.
I left Twin Lakes with a baggy full of food and lots of salt tablets. There were several pool of water to run through before the river crossing. It seemed as if there were volunteers at every turn this year. The river was no exception as a very kind man instructed me as to where I should cross, how to hold the rope and where the BIG HOLE was. It took 37 minutes to reach the incline section of Hope Pass.

At this point, I reset my stop watch and decided to 1) not look up for the next two hours, and 2) stop and rest after 15 minutes. I kept my head down and whenever it felt as if my heart was racing too fast I slowed down. I pressed on through 15 minutes and only stopped for a 2 minute break at 35 minutes, then a one minute break at 1:10:00. I figured Hope Pass would come into view by 1 hour and 50 minutes or so. At 1 hour 25 minutes, there it was. What a beautiful site!

I sat at Hope Pass far about 10 minutes to allow Allan Holtz to pass me. (Just kidding) He did walk by and encourage me to get going. I was just having too much of a good time talking to two ladies from Holland about their race this weekend. They came over to do the Gortex TransRocky 6 day stage race. Wow, what a great sounding run. I think that will be my Leadville race next year!

Leaving Hope Aid station, I reset the stop watch, put my head down, and estimated that it would take me 40 minutes to reach the summit, 600 feet above me. 20 minutes later, I was "on top of the world." I realigned my backpack and spent the next full hour running down the other side of Hope Pass. This was a very long hour! When the mountain stopped going down, I stopped running. And there was the notorious 2.5 mile gravel road up to Winfield. I reset my watch, put my head down and estimate that it would take me 40 minutes to reach Winfield. It took me 40 minutes to reach Winfield. I hate that road.

I saw Allan leaving the Winfield aid station as I was entering. Pete was waiting, and ready to pace me. He was ready to get me back over that mountain. But I was not ready. I had no desire to even try. I sat, ate some food, and thought that with a few minutes of rest, a small sliver of desire would creep in. None did. Not even a little, for a nano-second.

I pushed myself through the bar exam when I thought I could not answer one more multiple choice question. I've watched all 4 of my wife's C-sections; Gracie came via a G-section. That's G as in Georgia. I've put in a sink and toilet while struggling with pneumonia. So, I've concluded that it isn't that I can't push myself further than I thought I was able. It's just that some form of analytical, possibly logical, desire must exist for me to "go beyond." Saturday evening at 5:40, that desire was lacking. What I wonder is if that desire will ever exist for me on the Leadville 100 course at Winfield? If not, I can live with that. There are plenty of other 100 mile races.

I appreciate Pete for pushing me, but letting me make the decision for myself. I've learned much about this type of grace from our current church and from Pete. I find it unusual because Pete and I both grew up in the same baptist denomination; yet, I've learned much about accepting people (it sounds so PC-ish and wishy-washy to be saying that, coming from a conservative Calvinist) by watching Pete.

Leadville 2008 A Lesson on Limits

Saturday, August 16 was a great day to run the Leadville 100 mile Race Across the Sky, if you were a tree frog, a newt, or a fish. 

Being none of those, I’m pretty pleased with my progress and distance.  The quick fact: I did not finish... again.  In fact, I traversed about 4 miles less than last year. 

Nevertheless, there were several great aspects to the run; 1) I stayed ahead of last year’s pace by about 5-10 minutes every mile, and 2) I traversed the entire 50 miles to Winfield without my trusted, and distance-enabling running partner Pete.  I’ve become very accustomed to running with Pete and benefiting from his steady but relentless ability to “march” on.  The prospect of running without him was probably the most terrifying aspect of this year’s race.

So, how did it end? 
I left everything out on the trail. 
When I got to Winfield I was done. I knew it.  There was nothing in me that could have ascended the backside of Hope Pass.  It took me nearly one hour to run down that slope.  Along the way, I passed numerous runners coming back up.  Every step down was for me a painful premonition of what the return would be like, and I was done climbing hills.

Of course, today, with a stomach full of food and a decent night of sleep, I’m thinking that maybe I could have.  But at that moment of decision-making, I knew I had nothing left.  Nothing in me desired to climb one more ascent.  Pete did a great job of telling me that we’d make it back over Hope, that he’d help me make it.  But I knew what it had taken me to climb Sugar Loaf (and the climb up power line before going down power line that no one ever talks about), the incredible ascent on the Colorado Trail after Half Moon (all three of them), and finally, the hour forty minute ascent up Hope Pass.

The Run, Part I
The day started at 2:30am; dressed, ate some cereal, drank some coffee and out the door to Leadville, thirty minutes north.  Pete was up when I left.  In Leadville, the temperature was 42 and spitting drizzle.  I checked in at the corner of Main Street (Highway 24) and 6th Street, used the porto and sat in the van until 3:50.  Without a full crew, the start this year was anti-climatic.  Others were hugging, talking pictures.
My goal for the first section to May Queen was to get ahead of those who walk on the single-track trail around Turquoise Lake.  Getting to this first aid station in a timely fashion is an important first step in a long day.  The cut-off is 7:15am.  I wanted to be in by 6:30, but I did not want to go out too fast.  Well, God has a way of keeping me humble.  Between miles 5 and 10, I sprained my left ankle three times.  Now, I’ve sprained this same ankle many times, and to different levels of seriousness.  A slight twist is about a 2 on a scale from 1 to 10.  A full inversion leaving me unable to walk is about a 9.  Every year I succeed in several 3s or 4s.  

The first twist on Saturday morning was a 7, causing me to falter, skip, hop and then walk. The popping sound was louder than I would have hoped.  As I started moving more quickly again, I decided I needed to choose my steps more carefu… Ahh!! I did it again.  This time a solid 9 on the ankle-sprain scale. I stepped off the trail to get my breathing under control because it hurt significantly.  This time, it took more walking to get it to loosen.  After about 5 minutes, I was able to run again.  But every uneven surface was a challenge.  Wearing two headlamps helped considerably.  At mile 10, about 2 miles before coming off the single-track trail onto a paved road, I landed on a rock poorly again and received a sprain of about a 6 on the scale.  Once again, stop, hobble, walk, then gingerly run.  At May Queen, Pete reminded me to take some ibuprofin, so I took 400mg.  I never sprained it again.  The ankle remained very sore until Twin Lakes, and I had to be extremely careful every step.

Pete was a great crewer and a delight to see at each aid station. Even before getting to an aid station, I envisioned seeing him and looked forward to how he might attend to my needs. It might sound kind of creepy, but I’m certain that people who climb together or have running partners know this feeling.

I was looking forward to the march up Sugar Loaf because - it’s a smooth gravel jeep road (great for a sore ankle) that winds up and up and up with incredible views of the lake and other mountain ranges.  But, I had forgotten the several miles of not-so-fun trail before reaching the smooth gravel.  The gravel road was all I had hoped.  I settled into a 14-16 min/mile walking pace, put my head down and just started walking.  Lots of people were running up this road. Last year, and this year in training, Pete taught me much about the merits of walking up the inclines.  This proved true as I later passed about 70% of those running up Sugar Loaf.
While it was only raining during the first section, the march up Sugar Loaf included 3 bouts of hail, one of snow, and continuous rain.  Half-way up, the wind grew pretty intense, and I was forced to put on a jacket, something that I rarely do because I overheat very quickly.  Power-line down on the other side was not as sweet as last year.  The clay was wet and slippery, so there were several un-runnable sections.  I was, however, able to run some of the road into Fish Hatchery, and by this time, the rain had stopped.

Pete helped me through the aid station, and I took more food with me than I had at May Queen.   I walked the entire way to the first right turn toward Half Moon.  There, I ran 30 seconds, walked 30 seconds until I met John who was running telephone poles.  I adopted his approach.  I walked the entire gravel road up to Half Moon except for a few declines.  I took a 4 minute stop at Half Moon aid station.   I found that a cup of chicken broth, two cups of Coke, watermelon and a few M&Ms did me well.  The hike to the Colorado Trail was fine and I assumed that trail would be rolling and enjoyable.  Wow, had I repressed this section.  The first incline of the Colorado Trail was the worst part of the whole run for me.  It was rocky, steep and relentless.  I had to resort to a high altitude shuffle-walk, and still had to stop and rest a couple of times.  Once at the top, I knew there were two more less-daunting climbs before the long down-hill into Twin Lakes.  Those two climbs were really not less-daunting and did not leave all that much of a down-hill into Twin Lakes!!

Finally, the best part of the whole run – the 3 miles into Twin Lakes. Soft, pine-needle laden, rolling trails.  This ends with a 20 solid minute less pine-needle laden, less rolling and more steep run on a jeep road into Twin Lakes.  Down the embankment at Twin Lakes where Pete is waiting: check-in #277, get some food, water in the CamelBak, check-out #277.  Pete and I walk to his car, regroup.  I unload as much as I can from the GoLite pack to be lighter – only the essentials to get over Hope Pass.  At this point, I’ve been taking S caps every 15 – 20 minutes to stave off the cramps and keep my electrolytes up. In spite of the cold, I’ve been dripping sweat from the start.  Now, I load up on more salt tablets, grab my bag of food and set off.

Hope Pass, Part II  (next time)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Thursday & Friday Morning

Thursday has been a low-key day. This morning, I went on a 4 mile run down Lost Canyon Road. About every 3 minutes, I had to stop and catch my breath.
But look at this view:

The first cabin:

After talking to some folks in the next door cabin, I took off to Leadville to sit for an hour before Pete arrived. Pete arrived early. We greeted, talked and both did some computer work. Then had lunch in town.

Pete wanted to get into the river again, so I joined him with my gold panning pan (which by the way, is not really a proper gold panning pan even thought I purchased it from the Natural Mining Museum. Evidently, a colored, large-basined, plastic pan with ridges on one side is the best.) to find my fortune on the Arkansas River. No gold, no fish.
Here’s Pete:
We did, however, succeed in getting very cold.

Tomorrow will include the medical check-in and final briefing. Pete and I will come back to the cabin to prepare drop bags, return to Leadville to turn them in and then a possible trip to some hot springs in Buena Vista. Then, early supper, early to bed.

Here's Friday morning checking in with Allan:

Today, we're sitting at the coffee shop checking emails, blogging, avoiding the drizzle and waiting for the opening ceremony to finish. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday Full of Gold

This morning: 4 mile run around a portion of Twin Lake, breakfast, drive into Leadville to the coffee shop with free internet, Provin’ Grounds, drink a double shot espresso and upload Tuesday’s blog.

Then, a drive down to Red Cliff to give Melitta her bag which she left in the van.
Here’s her host family in Vail (Brian, Melitta, Brenna and Marilyn) outside the only restaurant in Red Cliff:
I drove east out of Red Cliff up into the mountain on Shrine Pass, a narrow jeep trail, in search of the perfect panning spot.
That’s where I was:
Look what run is at the end of this month. I was right where they will pass!
No gold, but a beautiful spot to eat my cheese sandwich.  I later found out the correct way to pan for gold, so I probably dumped my fortune back in the stream right here!
Then, returned to Leadville for more coffee and decided I would try to find the secret gold panning creek that Larry and Shirley told me about yesterday; south of Twin Lakes to Granite, right for a mile, south along the powerline for a mile to a parking lot and creek. Guess who was there? Larry and Shirley. 

The photo of Larry and Shirley didn’t turn out. Sorry, Shirley.
Here’s Larry showing me a ring he made out of gold they found.
I met others who were gold searching. Here, Patrick and Robyn are sleuthing with an impressive machine that sure beats panning:
Here’s Steve and Paul. 
Paul is the pro and Steve was along to learn after being prodded by Paul for many years. Paul also showed me some different techniques and some incredible nuggets he found several years ago. They all do this as a hobby. None of them sell their gold!

Here are my instruments:
And here is the gold I found:
Probably won’t quit my day job just yet!     Wait, I don’t have a day job yet!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I began the day visiting the Leadville store and office... and buying some Leadville 100 shirts for the family.  Shhh.  Don't tell.  Here I am with the race director..and John.
Me and John:

There is no doubt that a vacation alone is less sweet than with my wife and kids. Certainly, there is more work; but there is more joy.

Nonetheless, I visited the National Mining Museum where a wonderful elderly woman gave me a map, and I purchased a PAN.  From there, I visited with the Visitor Bureau folks and headed up into the mountains behind Leadville. Standing in Leadville and looking up, there is no indication of the massive number of mines up in those hills.  The mini van (don’t tell the rental company) was basically an off-road jeep.  I stopped and looked at about 20 separate mines or pilings.  I passed up another 100.

Then, my trip up the mountain to explore old mines. The first one I saw:

I kept wondering what life must have been like back in the gold, solver, lead, etc. hey-day. It appears that the cabins all had tin roofs, the miners ate out of tin cans, and left no other traces of their existence. I also kept looking around at the beauty. I wondered if the miners, spending hours and days underground looking for treasures, ever simply enjoyed where they were. At 12,000 feet, surrounded by mountains with meadows for necklaces, looking down on blue lakes, looking up at white expanses of residual snow I felt pretty rich.

That's Turquoise Lake.  We run around the north side(right).  At the very tip is May Queen Aid Station, mile 13.5.

At the top an abandoned gold mine.  Lot's of fools gold which ended up in my pocket.
Turquoise Lake in the background.

At the top of one mountain, I found numerous nuggets of bright, shiny gold. On the way down, I stopped and talked with some professional rock hounds, Larry and Shirley. Evidently, real gold does not sparkle, is not in crystal form and is a dull yellow. Nonetheless, Shirley was a wealth of information, including the location of a secret creek where I’m guaranteed to pan out some gold. I’m going there Wednesday morning. Shirley also let me keep a rock with some beautiful copper in it. With a pocket full of fool’s gold, I can say I had a really good afternoon.

That's me literally trying my hand at panning.  I found lots of pebbles.
Here I sit in a small cabin between Leadville and Twin Lakes, about 10,200 feet up. I’ve posted below some photos of a few places along the Leadville course. But first, my day of traveling.

The whole family dropped me off at the airport this morning before they headed off to the Star Wars exhibit and movie at the science museum.  While I was waiting for my flight, a good friend from law school, Melitta, walked up.  It turned out she was going to Vail for the week.   She cancelled her van shuttle up and joined me in the rental car.  I hadn’t planned on going to Vail this year but now I may get to go twice as she left her camera and contact lenses in the van (yes, van; and a full on mini-van).

To save approximately $42, I booked a rental car on-line at the cheapest Denver car rental place I could find without employing the mob.  It turns out that while all the rental facilities are not right at the airport, this one is “off-site,” which is a nice way of saying that I should have packed a lunch for the trip to get the car.  Once there, the receptionist's unusually long glare at the computer screen led me to correctly assume that something was wrong.  It turns out I had booked a car for August 11, 2009.  Yes, in anticipation for next year’s Leadville race.  And, I had reserved a VW Jetta.  “Well, do you have anything else?” I asked, realizing that if there were no other cars, Melitta and I would have to return to the airport and then take a shuttle to one of the dozen other rental car facilities not “off-site.”

“Yes, we have one mini-van available. Would you like it?”  As visions of our 1986 maroon Dodge Caravan flashed through my mind, I asked, “Will it get me up the mountain?”  She was not amused.  It turned out to be a brand new Dodge Caravan with 3000 miles. It’s beautiful and it charges up mountains.

I dropped Melitta off in Vail and drove, with her camera and contact lenses, on the pass between Minturn and Leadville.  Incredible drive.  

Groceries for the week in Leadville, unpacked at the cabin, a quick trip into Twin Lakes, probably the only one before the race, and now here I sit.

I must confess that in the spring when I envisioned sitting in a cabin in CO by myself, I thought it would be heaven on earth. Honestly, I miss my family.  While it is more difficult to have everyone out here while preparing for a race, I miss experiencing the excitement and wonder of the mountains through the kids and Marty.  It is quite hollow attempting to engender awe by myself as I look at these incredible sights.

I don’t think it was intended that majesty be reveled in alone.  Put another way: I think majesty is best experienced with others.  I’ll post some photos of incredible sights - they will not do the real thing justice – and make plans to bring everyone out here next year.

Me along the pass between Minturn and Leadville.

A house in Red Cliff. Red Cliff is a very interesting little town that must be driven through at least twice in one's life.

The hill coming into (or out of) the Twin Lakes Aid Station.

The river crossing right after Twin Lakes.  It look pretty deep right now.

Looking up at the path up Hope Pass.

An empty aid station at Twin Lakes.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Beating Anton

My children made cards for me in preparation for Leadville.   The cards are endearing and will travel with me to CO.   

Last year, when I was at mile 42, Anton passed me on his way back.  I don't think the kids really wish Anton to do poorly; I think they just want me to do well.  Here's Grace's card: 

Notice # 3 on Emma's card:
Here's the real motivation behind Emma's encouragement:

Unfortunately, if I just run one mile of Leadville this year, I'll beat Anton.  Apparently, he's had some unfortunate injuries and won't be running.  

Finally, here's Eli's wish for me while out in Leadville:
That's me and Mr. Grimes panning for gold in a stream.  It appears that we found some sizable flakes; maybe even some nuggets.