Looking at this year it would be easy to say I want to forget about it. With races that included 2 DNFs, trip to the ER, and utilizing Search & Rescue, it wasn’t your definition of “success.” Life caught up to me between family, work, and running. That is the order of the priority, therefore running fell far behind. Yet, I still showed up for a 100 mile race, believing I had a chance. Needless to say, it wasn’t training that took me out of that race. Rather, it was being distracted by the stresses and requirements of life causing me to make the ultimate blunder: nutrition.
I kicked off the year with a Fat A$$ 50k. a Fat A$$ is an event that is put on by runners. People donate items for the aid station and everyone meets at the trailhead at the specified time. No timing chips, no crowds, no medical staff … just a community of runners getting together for time on feet. Well, the plan was a 50k, but missing a turn made into a marathon. Still nothing to shake a stick at seeing as at the start it was 9 degrees running on ice. It was the first time my water supply has ever frozen on me in any run. After an hour, the temps made it to the teens and water thawed. Nonetheless, I made great new friends that I still in contact with a year later.Then in April, I decided to see where I was in terms of distance. That’s when I came up with the idea to run overnight to work … 33 miles. People at work thought I was nuts. Won’t dispute that. In fact, I miss the days when I was a little more nuts. It seemed to improve my running feats. Along the way through the night, ran into a homeless man that was surprised, ate a world famous cinnamon roll, and ran through a field out of a horror movie. My wife was up every hour checking to make sure I was still moving on the map. Otherwise, just some nice quiet (dark) time on the road. I look forward to doing it again.
A few weeks later, I joined my Team SunRype friends and ran the Cherry Creek Sneak 10 Mile race. A longtime friend of mine was also running, so I ran the first half with him. I love his story of losing a hundred pounds, keeping it off, and finding happiness. In order to be happy, you have to first be happy with yourself. Many can do it by creating lists, talking with friends, or going on a 6 hour trail run. Listen to the song Few of My Favorite Things from Sound of Music and fill in your own things.
Winning millions of dollars in the lottery won’t buy you happiness. Although it can buy a lot of running gear and beer. Damn.< Now I have to rethink that saying. Then came May … my birthday month. IF you ever wonder what to get me for my birthday, a race entry will do. Each weekend I get in a long run and average 3-4 races. It was important for me to go back to the Greenland Trail 50k after it served up my first DNF the previous year. The weather this year was about 30 degrees cooler and I had put in much more training. Made more friends that I would see later in the season in Leadville. If there’s one thing long-distance runners know, it’s that karma is a real thing.
On one weekend in May, I ran in the inaugural Carbon Valley Half Marathon on my family relay team, worked the Colfax Marathon Expo, race meal at a race track, and then ran the Colfax Marathon. That’s a lot for the weekend and took more than a couple days to recover from. The relay was fun because I had never done one before. I ran the 3rd leg with my son and then dropped the hammer on the 4th. Apparently I dropped it hard enough that a couple people I passed, who were doing the half marathon solo, made the comment “great thanks a lot.” Never been in that boat before.
The Colfax Marathon is one of my favorite races. From the people to how well it is organized, I just enjoy the atmosphere. It also helps that on the marathon course you get to run through Mile High football stadium … twice! On the half marathon course, you get to run through the Denver Zoo! There are some great photos of the rhino running up and down the fence with the runners.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the Colfax Half Marathon is the only race that can run through the Denver Zoo? True!
I was humbled to be selected for the 2013 Colfax Marathon Ambassador Team. They have asked me back again for the 2014 season as well as co-running the Relay Team area of the Expo. I knew all that event management experience would come in handy someday.
June took me back to Leadville for the marathon. Those first 4 miles are a beast! This year I
conned talked Derek into doing his first half marathon up there. Funny thing is, it’s not really a half marathon. A half would be 13.1, but in Leadville, it’s 15.4 miles with 3,720 feet of elevation gain. 3k of that elevation gain is done over 3 miles halfway through the race. Good times! Happy to report that he did awesome and that we are still friends. In fact, he is excited to pace/train with me in Leadville in the near future!
My race that day was a bit of a struggle. For some reason, it took me an extra 20 minutes over last year to finish. The last 4 miles of the course my fingernails were starting to turn blue. Of course I know the reason, yet I’m still the one that made the dumb mistake. 2013 would turn out to be my nutrition nightmare year.
After that, in Leadville again for Silver Rush 50. This is my ultra-birthday with it being my first ultra back in 2011. Since that first race, my wife has been my crew chief. After doing this for 2 years, she decided she would bring our 4 young kids along to assist. The kids had the chance to see me at highs and pretty darn lows. Inside I knew I hadn’t put in enough training. Such is life and mine is quite full. The day ended after running in torrential downpours and hail for 5 hours while fighting off hypothermia multiple times. 2 miles from the finish line, Search & Rescue tossed me on the back of a 4-Wheeler straight to the medical cabin. There waiting for me was my family. It was getting too wet and cold outside for them as well so the medical team brought them inside to stay warm.
4 year old: Worst Parade Ever! Where’s my candy?!?!
10 year old: Run faster Zombies are coming!
Their shirts: How to finish: Left. Right. Repeat. and on the back: Team Ross
I was very happy to have them all there and wished I could have made it across the finish line. Still, better to live to fight another day than to never fight again.
And then the Leadville 100 Mile Trail Run … attempt #2. Arriving in Leadville for the event, I mentally felt stronger. I knew the course, did a few runs over the summer up there, and believed I could do it. Forgot one thing … the physical piece. Waking up morning of the race, something felt off. I shook it off to the fact that it was 2am. Had my morning breakfast and headed out with my incredible crew. I didn’t feel thirsty, but little did I know I was. At the same time, I thought I was on pace with drinking enough. Sigh.
Off I went at 4am with 800 new friends. The first couple of miles were around a 9 minute pace. Way too fast, but felt good. By the time I made it to the first aid station at mile 13 I knew there was a problem. I asked to talk to a doc, gave a urine sample, and was told to drink more. Okay. Fast-forward to mile 40 and I was peeing blood. That moment freaked me out and is seared in my brain. The doctor said he already called the ER and I was leaving. I tried to persuade him to let me drink Gatorade and go, but being told they didn’t have a dialysis machine nearby was enough to stop me.
ER doc said I could have pizza and beer that night. Half a pizza and 5 Guinness later, I slept for 11 hours. Kudos for me for not freaking out during the ordeal. That’s about the only kudos I deserve that weekend. I did learn some valuable lessons that weekend around nutrition and vowed to figure it out.
One more race for the year seemed like a good idea. Why not a few weeks after being sent to the ER to sign up for a 100k? I registered for the Bear Chase Trail Race as it seemed simple. Several laps around some of the prettiest mountain views you can find. Well, my knee had other plans. Here’s the thing, when you are undertrained and you get tired, your body changes how it runs. That means you are putting strange force/tweaking on your body. My knee was the victim that day. I still completed a 50k (31 miles), so others call it an accomplishment. I call it another letdown of the past 2 months.
Final 2013 Thoughts
There are times I would like to call 2013 many names, but knowing there are some younger eyes that read this, I won’t divulge those words. There was some serious pain, but there was also great joy in encouraging others to get active and healthy.
At the end of the day, I am okay with failure when reaching for big goals. At the same time, I had better be learning from those failures or that’s time I’m never getting back. I know readers have learned from my mistakes … and thank you for your emails!
Over the past year I have made many more great friends through running. People I have “met” over Twitter, Facebook, and through sponsors, my life is better from knowing them. Life is a journey and am glad to have all of you onboard!
Looking Towards 2014
The day after Leadville 100, my inner circle did not ask if I would register for 2014. Instead, they were deciding who would pace what segment with me. Some have called me obsessed or addicted to running. I’m nowhere near what either of those words define. One of my goals in 2014 is to get closer to them. I have a plan, already believe I have a solution for my nutrition, and kicked off training. Another goal is to write more on here and answer emails in posts.
I have had a few people ask me the status on my book I’m writing. After the past year, the book and speeches I do, have had a story shift. The book release is not a goal of 2014, but the next chapter in the story may turn out to be a good way to close out the first edition.
See you in 2014 and continue moving your line of possible!