Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Why we need disase

Good morning. It is a beautiful sunny but very cold day here in the Tetons!
My trianing has not been great this week so far but hey..that is ok right:)

My very good friend and coaching student Aran Gordon told me I could share this information with you below. Aran has Hemochromatosis. His journey to find out what was wrong with him, the treatments and the journey ahead is one that we should all read about. Aran is one of my heros! From the first day I stared coaching Aran: he could not even walk from his house to the end of the driveway to running 2 VERY successful Marathon des Sables. This man has taught me that we can do anything and that even though life does throw us many curve balls we must fight the fight and that each day is a gift as well as a blessing.
Through the highs, the lows we can all learn a great deal from Arans story.
Aran, the Batchens love you!

This is the link to an interview done on the Today program where Matt Lauer interviews the author of a book where the first chapter is about Arans experience with Hemochromatosis.

Why we need diseaseAuthor and medical researcher Dr. Sharon Moalem explores how deadly diseases are bred into our genes

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Stress Fractures

Good morning!

In the past month I have had friends and students get some kind of stress fracture. For most of these people it has not been from running but from some other sport that is just happened! So much information to read about how to prevent and help stress fractures but below is some I have put together from different sources and I feel it is something we all need to think about.

All women over the age of 35 should be taking calcium and vit D.

It is putting money in the bank (calcium in your bones) in preparation for the inevitable loss starting at 40 but accelerating at menopause.
Over the counter----1800 mg calcium and 800 IU of vitamin D daily Never increase your mileage too quickly especially if you are also on your feet all day. Bone is constantly remodeling (breaking down old bone and laying down new bone). If the the stress (wt bearing, repetitive use) exceeds recovery (sitting, lying, no pounding) you are likely to end up with a stress fracture. THe BODY is an incredible machine but ONLY IF WE TREAT IT WITH RESPECT AND KEEP IT FINELY TUNED. Error: Going from IM to ultra running training and INCREASED MY RUNNING MILEAGE (without biking) WAY TO QUICKLY!!! Most stress fractures of the foot are NOT due to osteoporosis (more due to OVER USE). WE SHOULD ALL KNOW BETTER. I GOT OFF TRACK ON THE PLANTAR FASCIITIS TANGENT FOR CLOSE TO A YEAR. DON'T ACCEPT THAT YOU HAVE TO LIVE IN PAIN AS YOU GET OLDER. WE CAN GET FITTER AND MORE BUFFED AS WE AGE. Yes, really! You just have to do it right, a little more R&R, and pay attention to warning signs.....

Thoughts about why and how one friend got a stress fracture:

I posed a whole list of questions to my doctor about the cause of this injury. He feels it's the result of the one 3-hour run I did, instead of a more long-term accumulation of damage. There are a handful of things that would contribute (according to him, my research, and my own ideas):

22lb. pack - I didn't find that listed anywhere but if force=mass x acceleration and mass goes from 135 to 157 it will have a big effect on the impact forces of feet on the road.(TRAINING FOR MDS)

Surface - In recent months I hadn't been putting in many miles on the road. I didn't see that as a priority, trying to get more time on an uneven surface instead, preferably sand with a pack. I walked for two hours on the beach with a friend the day before, with our packs, so I felt it would be good to RUN for 3 hours on that Sunday since I hadn't done one of those in a while. Time constraints that day meant I couldn't get to the trails and back in time so I hit the road instead. The crown of the road can also play a role.

Mileage - This goes along with the surface topic, but that was a higher mileage day compared with most, especially since the motion was utterly repetitive and all of my other recent (last 2-3 months) had more variation of the motion.

Pronation - Over the years I've used orthotics to help combat IT band problems but in the last year I've tried to get away from the orthotics and have been using Montrail heat molded insoles instead without any problems. This would have allowed more pronation than the orthotics.

Old/worn shoes - I was wearing a pair of road shoes that were nearly new, but a model that is pretty light without a huge amount of support. It's a model I've happily worn for a few road marathons but it may not have provided enough structure once the pack was added, especially without the orthotics.

Cold - Not mentioned in the literature but I feel it was a factor by causing my lower legs to remain tight. The day started out at 31* and was supposed to get colder in the evening but when I got back to my car a little after noon it was 21* and windy. I started out overdressed on my upper body, sort of "pre-heat training" but only thin tights on my legs and short socks.

Stride - Also not mentioned, but I was aiming to keep my heart rate at about 150 and trying to put in some time with a pace and stride that I'd likely be using in the desert - more of a jog than a run. The two motions are so different that jogging needs to be trained, just like walking needs to be trained. The problem is that mechanically jogging sucks - it's sloppy, weak, inefficient, and I believe damaging but I thought I would need to be able to do it if it got really hot - be able to just shuffle along at 10:00/mile. I feel it was a factor though I don't have any evidence to back that up.

There were reasons for choosing to do each of those things the way I did them, and I'm positive that any 3 of them wouldn't have been enough to cause a big problem. Unfortunately, I'm stuck with the conclusion that all of them together were enough to do a great deal of damage.

"Calcium, vitamin D cut stress fractures"- now you have some good information to think about! #1 Cross training in my philosophy is a must and never increase your mileage to fast. If you are training to run a race with a back pack start with 5 pounds and every 2 weeks increase the weight by 2 pounds until you hit the weight you feel you will carry during the event.

Thought to leave you with today:

*I asked for strength and God gave me difficulties.
*I asked for wisdom and God gave me problems to solve.
*I asked for prosperity and God gave me brain and brawn to work with.
*I asked for courage and God gave me danger to overcome.
*I asked for love and God gave me troubled people to help.
*I asked for favors and God gave me opportunities.

*I received nothing I wanted.
*I received everything I needed.

Have a great day!!!


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Challenge you might think about!

Good afteroon!

I hope you are having a wonderful weekend.

Today I will do 6 hours on my spin bike..I know, I know this is just crazy..but how can I possibly do an Ironman in April if I don't!!:)

For those of you that are interested in who is running the Badwater Ultra 135 in July here is the link:

Several of my coaching students will be running and a few of them are looking for crew members. If this is something you are interested in please let me know.

My friend Joe Desena has started to new races in Pittsfield Vermont.

A snowshoe race on March 3rd and a mountain race on June 9th.

I will personally be at the June 9th race.

Joe has made this challenge to all of you...:)

If you come and run his snowshoe marathon and finish the marathon you will get 1 month free coaching with me! If you run the mountain race on June 9th and finish you get 1 month free coaching with me.

Please let me know if you are going to sign up so I can keep track of who is running!

Please feel free to pass this email on to anyone you might think is interested.

Sounds like something to really think about..these events are sure to be amazing.
For all the details go to

Have a great day

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Update on Danelle Ballengee

Here is a story that provides an update about Danelle Ballengee’s recovery and it includes the following information to make donations to a fund for Danelle’s medical expenses.

The Danelle Ballengee Fund, 1st Bank P.O. Box 347, Silverthorne, CO 80498.

This Saturday, 2/24/07, Diane Van Deren begins her Iditarod Trail Invitational 350 mile Alaskan journey on foot with her teammate, Kami Semik. Information about the race is at

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.--- inaccurately attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson --- but actually written by Bessie Stanley in 1905

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Dogs vs. Cat

This was sent to me from a coaching student who has an injury. I think its great!

Have a fun day.

We should all think like dogs. - 7AM Ice my leg! My favorite thing! ... : )

Dog's Diary entries:

8:00 am Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm Milk bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm Wow! Watched TV with my master! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpts from a Cat's Daily Diary:

Day 683 of my captivity: My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape ... In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the floor.Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made biggercondescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. The audacity! There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight.
I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs. I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released --and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded! The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. The captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe .. for now.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Runners Conquer Sahara!!!!

If you need a bit of a push to get your butt out and train just read this article..

I have sat here in tears of joy reading this article just trying to feel some small part of what these 3 guys must feel about what they have just accomplished!

Ray Zahab, Charlie Engle and Kevin Lin have just done what most would say would be impossible.

I coached Ray for 2 years..he was top 20 at the Marathon Des Sables, I bet running this race again will feel like a jog around the block for him.

This news of accomplishment sure has me fired up to get out and something...something big!

"Achieving goals by themselves will never make us happy in the long term; the point is who you become as you get past the obstacles necessary to achieve your goals. That's what gives you a true and long-lasting sense of fulfillment.'
-Anthony Robbins

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

RR 100 DNF race report/so good!

Ferris Bueller: This is my ninth sick day this semester. It's getting pretty tough coming up with new illnesses. If I go for ten, I'm probably gonna have to barf up a lung. So, I better make this one count. -- Ferris Bueller's Day OffComing into this year's race I was not totally fit and well: I still had lingering issues with my upper respiratory system (Bronchitis back in November, a Pleurisy attack mid-January) so I wasn't sure how things would go this year. I was hoping for warm weather and sunny skies. I got half of that. I wasn't sure how well recovered I was after Across The Years as well, but figured I'd be okay. I wasn't, really.Flew out to Houston with Colorado running buddy and two-time Hardrock finisher Scott Olmer. We did the usual pre-race thing by showing up, picking up our race packets, hanging around and jawboning with friends, then took off for better dinner than the pre-race pasta feed. Not slighting Sammy's cooking at all, but after you do a number of these things and it's always a pre-race pasta feed it gets old. We did scout out the park for the "perfect" parking space for our crew car, and found out the parking slots have changed dramatically over the last year. We ended up finding a spot behind the closed gate (drove around it) and parked the car just a few yards off the newly paved trail that takes us in to the lodge for a turnaround. Went back to the hotel to shit, shower and tape the feet. Tried to relax, watching TV, drinking a Guinness (my pre-race ritual). Scott went out to do a Trailer Trash Wal-Mart (TM) run with Nattu, who flew in separately. Scott came back , with beer, then went outside to smoke a cigar (HIS pre-race ritual). I did my usual last minute gear check and put out my running clothes and pack ready for the morning.Got up at 4 AM, had a banana and an Ensure, and was ready to go. Both Scott and I went out to the car, boy was it cold! Nattu would meet us later, as he had more race primping to do. Scott and I got to the park and got our parking spot. Sweet! Now all we had to do was wait.Monk: And the Lord spoke, saying, "First shalt thou take out the Holy Pin. Then, shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shalt be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shalt be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out! Once the number three, being the third number be reached, then lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thou foe, who, being naughty in my sight, shall snuff it. -- Monty Python and the Holy GrailSoon we were all gathering in the aid station tent (with heat) like moths to a flame. Tracy Thomas was there and asked me if I brought my massage therapist from Across The Years with me. Little did I know I might need her later. Then the dreaded "Race begins in two minutes" was heard and we all mingled out into the cold empty darkness waiting for the word to "GO!". My race plan was simple: go out easy (really easy) the first two loops then pick up the pace a bit for the end. I usually do the first loop in 3:20 or so, and figured a 3:50 - 4:00 time would be appropriate. The thinking here is go slow early to go fast later. The previous week the park had seem some decent rain, and we were warned there were soggy parts and puddles to get through. Newscaster: I'm not wearing any pants. Film at eleven. -- Kentucky Fried MovieStarted off with shorts and three layers of upper garments: two short sleeved and a long sleeved. Wool hat, and gloves. And my big yellow jacket. I started towards the back of the running pack, hoping to not get sucked into the initial race frenzy and go faster than planned. Ended up running with Anne Watts the first 2 miles until Amy's Crossing, which this year was a boggy mess that forced everyone to veer left of the trail to make the left hand turn up the road to aid station 1. By then, I was running with Scott Snyder, another Colorado runner and we had a nice conversation for most of loop 1 (at least to Farside aid station). Got to aid station 1 in 53 minutes, about 2 minutes slower than planned, but so far so good. So far the trails were in decent shape, the road was a bit boggy in places but nothing you couldn't easily avoid. Hit the Dam Road Aid station 30 minutes later and headed up to Farside aid at 9.9 miles. Not long after the "big" climb we were greeted with the only huge water puddle of the course, which covered the whole road left to right. There was a fallen log off to the right that I would walk on and criss-cross over to the lesser wet sections. Not a big deal. As I told some people during the race, I'd rather run in mud and water than the usual 3 feet of snow and ice we've had to deal with the last several months.By now I was in my 8/2 mode, or 4/1 as terrain permitted, and felt good with the pace. Scott Snyder was behind me a bit, but this was okay since I was kinda pushing it a bit to keep up with him and felt less stressed to keep up his pace versus mine. Got to Farside, grabbed some sandwiches and refilled my bottles and headed back out. I at least wanted to minimize aid station time to the bare essentials. Got to the Dam Road aid station in about the same time it took to leave it, about 30 minutes, still on schedule. I figured on 50 minutes to the next aid station (the old 174 called 134 now). It was nice to know the roots were still here on this, my least favorite section of the whole course. Soon I was at the long alligator bridges marking the end of the roots and the start of the bogs.Bart: Hey Charlie. What is it, that's not exactly water, and it ain't exactly earth?Bart and Charlie: Quicksand!! -- Blazing SaddlesYep, the bogs were here, and quite muddy. Luckily, you could get around them fairly easily without having to loose your shoes or add mud to your socks. I was actually quite surprised with all this as I expected much worse than this. Soon, I heard the raucous cries of aid station volunteers as I made my way into the aid station site, marking a little over 3 miles to end loop 1. I looked at my watch, and I got here in 3:23, so a 3:45-3:50 time for loop 1 looked good. Grabbed more eats and headed out. Again, this part went well and reasonably quick. Got to the Interpretive Center which marks 1 mile to go and a sharp right turn. Soon I was at the car, changed clothes (put on 3 layers again), dropped off the wool hat for a beanie hat, but kept the gloves. Ditched the jacket. Grabbed an Ensure and went to the turnaround station. Got clocked in there at 3:55. Right on target! Got back to the car and refilled my bottles and pack and headed out for loop 2.Dr. Charles Dutton: Sweat is a safeguard against some kinds of bacteria, and carelessness. -- Andromeda StrainWas feeling great, having changed from the cold, sweaty clothes to nice dry ones. It was starting to warm up, especially with the sun coming out and I was soon sweating again. Yippee. Anyway, I made my way along the path to the Interpretive Center turn onto trails, walking some of the hills, but mainly jogging the rest, seeing the usual runners as we both made our way to and from the turnaround area. Turned onto the trail and made my way to aid station 1, still feeling fine, although the legs were starting to stiffen up a bit. Now that it wasn't dark, I could see all the water and mud that was mostly hidden in the dark on the first time through here. Got to aid 1 in 50 minutes, so right on target, grabbed a sandwich wedge or two, and walked out up the hill before the downhill to Amy's Boggy Crossing. I ended up doing 4/1's through here to try to slow me down and keep me on plan. It took me 34 minutes to get to the Dam Road aid station, right on target as planned. Grabbed more food stuffed two sandwich wedges down my bog, grabbed another to carry and went out. It took me about the same time to get to Farside (35 minutes) and again stopped to refill my bottle and grab food. For me, it's easier to leave Farside than getting to it. The hills are gradually down (a few uphill segments, especially leaving the aid station) on the way back, with a nice downhill stretch just before the high bridge. I pretty much settled into finding my way around the boggy sections and huge water puddle without getting too wet or muddy. Got back to Dam Road aid in 36 minutes. Took a few seconds to refill the bottle, grab some more PB&J wedges, as it would take me about an hour to get to the next aid station.About halfway through the next section, I noticed my legs (quads) were starting to ache more. I reminded myself to take a few seconds at the car to down some aspirin. This section was a bit more mucky after the dam crossing to where you start the run through the rooty trails, then settles down to just rooty and rolling terrain. I always rejoice when I come to the top of the hill where the wooden bench sits off your left, marking the descent and short distance to the alligator bridges. Just before the long bridge, you have to get through the snaky switchback trails, which can be maddening as you look behind or ahead and see someone just ahead/behind but they are actually a bit away since it snakes and winds so much. At night this is really weird since you can see the flashlights just ahead or behind you, but they are a bit further away than it seems. After the bridges is the mile of muck and mire, but by now the side tracks around them are well marked and easy to get around the really bad spots. I finally got to the last aid station in 54 minutes, which surprisingly, was right on my target split! Here I just grabbed a quick bite and headed out, as I still had one bottle full. There is a bit of a hill to climb, so I just walked it eating my sandwich. Soon it levels off and you can make up good time again. After 3/4 mile there is a sharp turn to the right which is impossible to miss due to Joe's marking. Then it's more windy and snaky trails for about a mile until the interpretive center building. For the devious there are lots of shortcut trails along this section that can shortcut you back to the lodge trail, but these sections are marked. Got to the interpretive building and made a sharp right turn onto the rolling hard-paced trail to the lodge. It took me 37 minutes to get to the turnaround, a bit slower, bringing me in for this loop in 4:09, still on target. Before getting the lodge to check in/out, I grabbed an Ensure to guzzle while making my way there.Sgt A. Apone: All right sweethearts, you heard the man and you know the drill: assholes and elbows! -- AliensTy Webb: You take drugs, Danny?Danny Noonan: Every day. -- CaddyshackOkay, time to get serious now. I went purposefully slow the first two loops to allow me to at least maintain the pace if not go a little faster. We'll see if this works out. First off, I needed to spend a few minutes at the car to change clothes, refill my bottles, pack and put on the mp3 player. Took some aspirin to take away the quad issue, and grabbed a Payday candy bar to munch at while I walk away. I decided to keep on a long-sleeved shirt on as the high overcast skies were keeping things a bit chilled. I took off the gloves and changed my hat. I took an extra salt cap as it was almost time to do it anyway and walked out eating my Payday. Soon, I was running again. It wasn't long before I caught up with Phil Rosenstein, whom I met at Across The Years a month earlier and whom borrowed my jacket there for the last cold night. We stayed together until halfway to the jeep road up to aid station 1, where I caught up with Scott Olmer. I ended up getting ahead of Scott eventually after a brief conversation as I was trying to pick up the pace effort a bit and wanted to do my own pace. It wasn't long until Scott was a bit behind me. So far, so good. Got to aid 1 in 57 minutes, but due to the fact I spent some time at the car prepping for this loop, not bad, but slower than planned overall. I was wanting to get to 50 miles in slightly under 10 hours, and it would be close. I think listening to the mp3 helped, as I was able to pick up the effort a bit and felt great and strong as I kept catching up to people and passing them. It took me 34 minutes (again) to get to Dam Road. I grabbed a sandwich and kept going. Soon, I caught up to Matt Watts just before the high bridge marking the sharp but short ascent up to Farside. I eventually caught up with fellow SLUG Ben Holmes about 1/2 mile from Farside. Feeling cocky I mentioned something to the effect of trying to get around his fat ass or something. Looked at my watch and it was 10:03, so 10 hours for 50 miles wasn't happening.Ted Striker: What a pisser. -- AirplaneGot to Farside in 35 minutes, grabbed another bite to eat and headed out. At the top of the climb I estimate 50 miles, and my watch read "10:15:37". Slower by about 20 minutes than planned, but still on a good pace. Not sure if my PR was going to happen but it was still too early to tell. Got back to Dam Road aid in 37 minutes. Stopped to fill my bottle and grab some more food and headed out. I was still feeling pretty well here and was still managing to catch up and pass some people in the next section. Again, I started noticing my quads were hurting again, so I made yet another mental note to take more meds at the car. It took me an hour to get to the next aid station, a bit slower than I wanted, and despite my level of effort on this 3rd loop, I was hoping for faster times, but it wasn't happening. I got back to the car 39 minutes later, and stopped briefly there for an Ensure and checked into the lodge for loop 3 completion. Hedley Lamarr: Gentlemen, please. Rest your sphincters. -- Blazing SaddlesWent back to the car, and decided I better put on some running pants and put on a warm hat, as night was about to fall and it was getting noticeably colder. Grabbed my jacket, and decided to take a short break and sit down on the back of the car and ate some food and drank down another Ensure. Sucked down more aspirin, refilled my bottles and pack, and decided to leave. Made sure I brought along my bigger Gerber flashlight and left feeling a bit tired and stiff.I guess I spent more time at the car than I realized, cause I got to aid 1 in 1:16! I also noticed I was breathing with more difficulty. Not a good sign. I did manage to pick up the pace (or so it seemed at the time) on the downhill jeep road from aid 1, and actually felt good moving though the single track trail off the road leading to Dam Road. Unfortunately, it took me 45 minutes this time, 10 minutes off and slower. Newscaster: Rams plagued by fumbles as earthquakes rock Los Angeles. Film at eleven. -- Kentucky Fried MovieI found myself breathing even harder and walking more and more than I liked at this point. Even though, in spite of all this, the splits between Dam Road-Farside-Dam Road were 45 minutes-47 minutes-46 minutes, so pretty even as before, just slower. I wasn't feeling like bonking, and had enough energy to run, but the breathing was getting more and more difficult as the loop progressed. It was also getting more cold outside, but I had enough clothes on to keep me toasty warm.Gov. William J. Le Petomane: Holy underwear!! -- Blazing SaddlesIt took me 1:12 to get to aid 174. Definitely slower and more labored. My quads were again screaming at me, breathing was really getting to be a problem, although I wasn't wheezing yet and not coughing up lung gunk, yet. Stopped to eat some food, refilled my bottle and walked out of there pondering some unpleasant thoughts.Dr. Rumack: Elaine, you're a member of this crew. Can you face some unpleasant facts?Elaine Dickinson: No. -- AirplaneAs I made my way up the trail to the last mile turnoff, I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I tried to put positive thoughts in my head and told myself, when you get to the car, grab an Ensure, check in and out quickly, and change clothes, take aspirin and get back out. But the breathing and cold air were wearing down on me. I had signed up for Coyote 4 Play just 3 weeks away, and was wondering if that would be in jeopardy as well. In the meantime, got to last mile turnoff and ambled my way back towards the lodge. When I got to the car I just kept on going, telling myself I'd refill bottles at the aid station and leave. Newscaster: Moscow in flames, missiles headed toward New York. Film at eleven. -- Kentucky Fried MovieNot sure what happened next, but I found myself sitting down next to the heater trying to not shiver. I looked at my watch and it took me 5:23 for this last loop! I asked for some hot food, hoping that would heat me up and get me back out. I downed some hot soup, meatloaf, whatever was available. I finally stood up after about 10 minutes, and I couldn't move. My legs had seized up on me and I could hardly walk. Shit. This is not looking good. I decided to walk around a bit and see if things would ease up. I started getting cold again and sat back down for more food. I sucked down about three cups of soda as well. Before I realized it, I was here for 30 minutes. Scott Olmer strolled in, and I told him it wasn't looking good for loop 5. He tried to talk me into leaving with him but my legs were so trashed it would have been a disservice to him having to wait for me to catch up. Then Katy Cotton came in, and told me to get off my ass and get moving. It didn't have much effect. It was at this time I decided to call it. I was more worried about the lungs and breathing than the legs, as I could take something for those.Soon Ed Green and Michele Jensen arrived waiting for people to come in, and eventually Ed offered me a hot shower at the hotel. I went over to the time keepers and gave up my bib. It's official. Total running time of 18:06 for 80 miles. In hindsight, I could have gone back out and probably would have finished under 24 hours. But my decision to stop was good, and although it hurt a bit, I had nothing to prove here. I got my five-year jacket last year, I've had great times here in the past, this year wasn't going to be. But the breathing issue was the key here. I did the right thing because of it, and it didn't get any worse (but most likely would have gotten worse if I stayed out for another loop). After Ed took me back to the hotel for a hot shower, we headed back to the Park since Michele was still there. I walked slowly back to the car, and pleaded on the mercy of a few kind people waiting nearby for their runner if they could reach down under the car to retrieve the key (I couldn't bend down). Got in the car, started it up and the heater. After 10 minutes I turned it off and went to sleep. I woke periodically to warm it back up. I got started by a knock on the window, it was Scott. He was finished (sub-24) and was pleased to see the car was nice and warm and crawled inside to sleep as well.We both woke up around 6 AM, and Scott wanted a shower. So we drove over the the Park showers. On the way back to our parking spot, I spied Ben loading up his Bad Ben Mobile so we stopped a bit to chat. He was disappointed in his time, but glad to finish. We all agreed it was wicked cold this year and Scott said he did a negative split from loop 4 to loop 5 by 30 minutes just so he could get out of the cold!Jack Butler: Wanna beer?Ron Richardson: It's 7 o'clock in the morning.Jack Butler: Scotch? -- Mr MomGot back to the parking spot and waited on Nattu and Anne Watts to finish. I asked Scott if it was Guinness time and he said "Absolutely!" Pretty soon we spied Nattu coming down the path so we got out to cheer and walked down to the finish line to congratulate. But before we could get far here comes Anne. More cheering and joking, and we made our way to the finish line to hug and congratulate all.This year was bittersweet. It was encouraging to see that the go slow to go fast seems to work, but the environmental conditions this time precluded that to work like I wanted. I still feel I did the right thing in stopping when I did, and have no regrets. I stayed fueled, hydrated, and electrolyted to plan with no issues there, just like at Across The Years. It's just the cold that factored in. I'm ready for summer.As I finish this report, I am coming off another bronchial attack this past weekend. While not Rocky-induced, I caught a head cold and this set it off again. Thankfully, it is finally warming up and melting around here, so I'm hoping the bronchitis fits will soon pass. I'm going to Coyote 4 Play later this week in Calilfornia and hoping all is okay. I'll play that by ear and do what I feel like doing. It's four days of fun, and the beauty of it is I can do as much or little as I like. Then a month or so break before stuff starts up again mid- to late-Spring. Dale --

Monday, February 19, 2007

Yukon recovery!

Good morning,

Below is a race report from Katherine who lives in London.
To finish this event was an amazing accomplishment for this young women. Last year she was competing in the Yukon 350 mile race and fell into a frozen lake. She had serious back injuries after this fall and for 6 months all she could do is swim and move in the water. Then we got her taking pilates to work on her core strength and slowly back to walking. Now 1 year later she just completed her first race back!!!

Katherine's next race is the 6633 Ultra - the new 350 mile race up in the Yukon and North West Territories. Starts on 17th March.

Go Katherine!!!

Hi Lisa

Here's my race report-

I must admit to being more nervous than normal standing on the start line of the Thames Ultra (a 54 mile race along the Thames river from Reading into London). With being ill before the race I really didn't know if I had it in my legs to go this far. The last time I had run this race was 2001 (long before I started working with Lisa) and it had taken me 19 hours!!

I started off running 3 minutes and walking 2 minutes and got to the first checkpoint (near enough to 10 miles) feeling quite good. This was lucky really as 5 miles into the race we came across a part where the river had flooded its banks and (as there was no other way round it) had to wade across in icy cold water with a lot of slippery mud on the bottom. I hadn't planned to be soaking wet after 5 miles!

The next CP came quite quickly after 9 (ish) miles. After this I started struggling to keep up the running. The heavy mud along the trail had taken its toll on my legs. It wasn't just the mud, it was the fact that the path was angled into the river and it was so slippy it meant your legs were tensed up all the time to stop you falling into the water.

Took a wrong turn before the next checkpoint and ended up in the middle of a caravan park. I kept running down dead ends but finally, after 20 minutes, I managed to find my way back to where I had gone wrong and continue on along the trail. CP3 was a welcome sight after 31 miles. The girls who ran this checkpoint had come prepared with snacks and treats for all the runners which was fantastic.

From CP3 to CP4 was where I really had to start pushing hard as I was getting very tired and I didn't run much after CP3. There was some beautiful scenery though which always helps, including at the halfway point running past Windsor Castle. I thought of stopping for tea but figured that the Queen wouldn't really welcome a muddy runner!!

It was dark by the time I reached CP4 and I had teamed up with 2 other runners who were moving at about the same pace (in fact Jo and I had been overtaking each other every hour or so since the start and we had usually been in sight of one another). The other chap was suffering with IT Band trouble but decided to keep going.

Shortly after CP4 the navigation let us down again but at least this time we realised quickly and it didn't cost us much time. This last section was just over 10 miles and as we were coming into the middle of London we kept having to run past riverside pubs and restaurants. The temptation was huge (especially from the delicious food smells coming from some of the restaurants). We were very slow over the last 10 miles as, although company on the trail is great, everyone feels rough at different times which meant we were slower than we could have been individually.

I felt really good over this last section (which was a real confidence boost for my next race) and we finished in just over 13 and a half hours, very tired, very muddy but very happy!


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Stress Management

Stress Management

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, "how heavy is this glass of water?
"Answers : called out ranged from 8oz. to 20oz. The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. "If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance.
"I n each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes. " He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. " "As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we're refreshed, we can carry on with the burden. "
"So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work/life down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're car rying now, let them down for a moment if you can. " "Relax; pick them up later after you've rested. Life is short. Enjoy! And then he shared some ways of dealing with the burdens of life:
* Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue. * Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them. * Always read stuff that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it. * Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their Maker.
* If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague. * If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
* It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others. * Never buy a car you can't push. * Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
* Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. * Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late. * The second mouse gets the cheese. * When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
* Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
* You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
* Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
* We could learn a lot from crayons. Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull, Some have weird names , and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box. " A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour. Have an awesome day and know that someone has thought about you today. . . .. . ME.......

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Marrakech Morocco Marathon

Amazing just amazing!! Aziz Nahkami, 25 years old runs his first marathon in a time of 2:20:57 for 18 place!!!!!

We met Aziz a few years ago before the Marathon des Sables and he so loved everything about the race that he started running! We found Aziz a sponosr to run this years 2007 MDS but he will wait to run next year.
Aziz felt he could have run a 2:14 marathon! They put him in the back of the pack and it took him 3 minutes to get going so he lost the time. This kid has amazing talent and wants to come here to the USA to train..
If anyone reading this blog today can help us get Aziz a Visa please let me know!

Have a wonderful day

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

March issue Men's Health

Hi all,

The March issue of Men's Health has an article about athletes and depression.

As you know Runners World last year had one on me and the focus was on my depression.
As painful as the story was at the time for me to even read it helped SO many in the end I am thankful to Chris for writing the story. Knowing it helped one person made it worth it!

My friend Ray is mentioned in the Men's Health: you can read about it on his site!

The March issue features the article on Depression and Competitive Athletes. Rays story is pretty well documented. Look at a short excerpt on his site:

On another note one of my students just WON the 100 mile Yukon Artic Ultra!! She was first overall in a time of 29:59!! Shelley Shaw you are one amazing women. I have been following the race and so have some of my other students who were kind enough to let me know that today Shelley WON!!! What a great day..and how amazing Shelley must feel:) I can't wait to get a race report from her!

Have a wonderful day
Many Blessings

Sunday, February 11, 2007

RR photos!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend..
1st photo: Coach Lisa with Tess and Colleen waiting for the gun to go off and the start of there first 50 miler!

2nd photo: Bobby Becker who I paced through his first 100! 23:30:)

Tess who ran her first 50 mile with an 18 pound back pack, Kira who ran an amazing 24:36 100 mile and Mike who went under 9 hours for his first 50 mile!!!

3rd photo: Michelle Jensen who placed first in the 50 mile for the women and 2nd overall with a time of 7:53:):)
I wish I had more photos to show you but I am still waiting for some students to send them to me!
Many Blessings,

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Students adventures

Good morning from sunny New Mexico!!!

We sent the day in Santa Fe! Walking around town, lunch and then a great 2 hour hike!

Below are 2 stories from 2 students of mine about there adventures!

Dr. Lisa Bliss ran the Death Valley Marathon last weekened! Her blog has wonderful information!

Frank Fumich: concagua climb

For those of you who don't have the time to read a long winded account to learn if I made it....I won't tease you by leaving the outcome for the last on January 24th and about 3:15 PM, I reached the summit of Mt. Aconcagua....the highest mountain in the world outside of the Himalayas.!!!

video clip

It was certainly by far, the most mentally challenging thing I've done in my life. And although most of the daily climbs were very hard, the summit day climb itself was the most physically overwhelming experience I've ever had.

Our expedition began with 3 days worth of hiking where we gained roughly about 6,000 feet of elevation. We hiked with light day packs while the local help (donkeys) carried the brunt of our loads on their backs. I watched the donkeys with envy as they allowed themselves to be loaded up to the hilt with all our gear.....never complaining, never seeming to strain, just doing what they do, day after day, and asking little but for some grass grazing and a sip of water here and there.....Wow, if only I could hope to behave and perform as our trusted four legged friends would do!!

Throughout our 20-some mile hike towards the mountain, we were surrounded by incredible vistas....beautiful mountains on all sides, a picturesque river, and incredible blue sky and warm weather. It was hard to believe that what we were embarking on was anything other than just a nice scenic hike! On about our 3rd day of hiking, we finally got our first glimpse of Mt. Aconcagua and it was only then that I realized all the pictures I had researched, had done nothing to show the magnitude of this rocky beast that was unfolding before my eyes....and the first thing....well second thing that came to my mind (the 1st being....holy shit, how can I get out of this) was WOW, how in the hell are we going to get to the top of THAT!!

We made the base camp at about 13,700 feet and settled in for our first rest day. The plan on climbing a mountain of this size is to SLOWLY gain in altitude and allow your body to react to it (acclimatization). It was during these "rest" days that I found it especially challenging. The physical days I liked because time passed so easily as we sweat and struggled up the mountain. But it was during the slow rest days that I struggled to rid my mind of those nagging feelings of self-doubt and instead fill it with positive thoughts. It's during this time that most members of my team seemed to really relax and rest, and enjoy our surroundings. Most of them though, are the hardest of the hardcore.....myself excluded, they had dozens of Ironmans under their belts, well over one hundred 100 mile ultra marathons, dozens of adventure races all over the world over the last 20 years, and many other mountain climbs including Mt. Everest by our leader. My stories at home that usually invoke wonder and awe, elicited little more than yawns in this circle. I learned quickly to keep my mouth shut for fear of having to live up to my stories somewhere high on the mountain. I started to wish I had never mentioned ANY athletic pursuits before I had arrived at the base of this THING!!

So during these rest days that were so nice for my body, my mind was totally occupied with worry and self doubt....with uncertainty and homesickness....with "can I do this" and "what am I doing here!!!!" As it snowed and my teammates wondered at its beauty saying "look how incredible the snow looks"....I would say things like "oh no, how are we going to climb in THIS" and when they described going to the bathroom outside in the freezing temperatures as "becoming one with nature"....I called my same forays, "a pain in the ass". One of the woman would go out in -20 degrees and actually enjoy the experience....while I would pee in my pee cup in the tent if it was 40 degrees...haha

I real punch in the stomach came when my tent mate Rich, a 57 year old shoe salesman and ultra-runner from New York, walked out of our mess tent one day and approached me and said "Frank, I really hate to do this to you, but I'm done!!" He had expressed the same feelings of doubt and home sickness as me, but the difference was he was actually throwing in the towel. We had really bonded over our mutual fear and discomfort, had laughed together about our lack of camping experience, and had even broken out a few shots of whiskey in our tent to calm our nerves and toast to what lay ahead. I felt like the one person on MY level whom I had come to rely on, was leaving me and although I understood his decision and would miss him, I knew I had to continue on without him and even use his memory as motivation for me to get to the top for both of us. I actually ended up using his hiking poles and told him I would take them to the summit for him....and fortunately I actually filmed them with me on the summit to show him that I didn't forget my promise.

So it was obvious that I was in sort of my own league here, well under the experienced and adventurous group members that I had found myself with. Now don't get my wrong, I knew I didn't sign up for an all-inclusive 5 star beach resort weekend, with waiters bringing me fruit on the pool deck (not sure why I hadn't signed up for that) and I knew it would be rough and tumble and that's what I was ready for....but didn't really enjoy it by any means. I kept most of my thoughts to myself and gutted it out just as well as the next guy....or gal. Hell, I've done my share of uncomfortable things....and down right painful and brutal ones too...but I'm just saying that I don't actually enjoy that type of thing as much as they do. I signed up to climb this mountain not because I thought I'd necessarily enjoy it, but because it was as great a challenge as I could think of and I did NOT know that I'd be able to do it. If you asked other members of our group if they expected to summit, and most (at least out in the open) would say they certainly had no doubts of the outcome. I, on the other hand, would readily admit doubts as to my outcome, and THAT was why I was find out if in fact I could make it. I knew that I would give it my all, but would that be enough....would that get me to the summit...well that I wasn't so sure....but THAT was exactly what I sure as hell intended to find out. Hell, if I knew for sure I could do it, than I certainly would have spent my hard earned money on that 5 star vacation where I would be more concerned with whether I was tanning evenly on both sides or not!!

Our plan of acclimatization included climbing up to our next camps and then dropping supplies off there, and immediately returning down to spend the night lower. These "carries" they are called, get you in shape by lugging heavy loads (1st carry was about 50 pounds) and breathing the thinner air, only to return down and sleep lower where the air is thicker. We'd then take another "rest" day or in my case "mental worry" day, and then finally move up to the higher camp for good the following day. Our base camp was just under 14,000 feet, camp 1 was about 16,200 feet, and our high camp was at 19,000 feet. Now many of you have probably read about the effects of altitude on the body and mind but I can tell you now for sure since I've read just about every mountaineering book at there, that there's a big difference between knowing and understanding what it's like, and to have actually experienced it. I've read how exhausting everything gets the higher one goes up, but to actually be out of breath and really gasping for air because you just leaned over to tie your shoes, is quite different....and SCARY. To realize that you are in fact totally out of breath from doing something as mundane as brushing you teeth or putting your jacket on, is quite a wake up call when you consider that you're there to spend about 10-14 hrs climbing to the summit....not gasping for air because
you just rearranged your clothing! And then there's the constant feeling in your body that something's just not quite right. Maybe it's the little headaches or the slight nausea, or just general feeling of blah. It's sort of like having a hangover and if you felt this way on a Sunday at home, you probably wouldn't walk out of your house, or get off the couch for that matter. But up here you don't have that luxury, and it's really a struggle to stop this feeling from creeping into your mind and affecting your confidence.

So gradually...up we went, and each day that I kept up with the group and actually felt strong, I gained confidence. I even started mentally positioning myself in the pecking order in relation to our group as a whole. I sure as hell didn't have myself in the front of the group, but I was feeling much better knowing that I probably wasn't in the back either. Of course as far as our actual real physical positions went in our daily climbs, I DID place myself in the back generally, because I felt more comfortable there without the pressure and all the eyes on me. Plus I know the human mind and what can happen when you put yourself up front, and that you tend to go harder and faster than you normally would. And I had no intention of turning this into some sort of a that I would probably lose. I was here to FINISH the race, not to win it by any means...and here, believe me, finishing IS winning!!

Well I'll fast forward to reaching and staying at our high camp at 19,000 feet on January 21. By this time I felt physically ready to go for the top the next morning of the 22nd. Of course probably most of your summit success comes from Mother Nature and at this height, it's always a roll of the dice and we were soon to start our first losing streak. Not soon after reaching camp and setting up our tents (which by the way I had never once actually done in my life....little embarrassing but true) did the wind begin to blast and the temperature drop. I laid awake most of the night knowing we probably weren't going at 5AM the next morning because of the freight train wind that was trying to destroy our tents. But it wasn't until our guide Tincho actually stuck his head in our tent around 3:30 and officially told us so, that I was able to finally let me guard down and relax. We had winds at around 50 mph and temps about 30 degrees below zero.....BRRRRR!

So the waiting game this altitude, the body starts kind of shutting down and one of the first things to go is the appetite. I was already getting quite sick of our food, even though our cooks did a great job of trying to keep it varied, and our stomachs interested...but at 19,000 feet there's only so many ways you can make freakin noodles and frankly I was just "sick" and "tired" (figuratively and literally) of the food, and the water, then of the waiting, and the staring at the inside of the tent, and the peeing in my pee bottle.....well, you get the picture. But the not eating is something that can really cause a problem because you HAVE to eat, and you have to drink as much water as you can. The trouble was that I was just OVER it and only had about 3 bowls of soup during the 2 and a half days we were stuck at high camp....and I was over drinking too. I had drank about 4-8 LITERS of water a day up to this.....and that's A LOT of water....I was so tired in the tent, and sick of having to get up to pee, that I just pretty much stopped. I rationalized to myself that I had done enough of it and would be able to slide through ok...and maybe I just barely did!!!!

Well summit day was quite an insane experience and it was certainly the hardest, and most brutal thing I've done..... truly almost inconceivably hard. Not to mention not eating much, I had stomach problems waiting at 19,000 feet (that I don't think I need to describe) So when the morning came to start on the 24th, I really didn't have any energy and was feeling very sluggish....not what you want before climbing almost 4,000 feet to the summit. Our plan (that we actually all sat down together to come up with) was to all start together and then eventually we planned to naturally fall into different groups with one of 3 guides watching over, and staying with each group at all times. Of course all good plans can fall apart, and this one seemed to get screwed up before it even started. About 2/3s of the team just basically left before myself or David (and Demetri) were ready. I had woken up on time, and was slowly and methodically preparing everything, but time seemed to be flying by already, and our start time seemed to be spinning closer on my watch like some kind of crazy episode on the Twilight Show...I was in a slight panic....ok, maybe more than slight, when I finally emerged from the tent just before we were due to leave....because I couldn't get my crampons on my feet since my hands were frozen in the balmy minus 20 degrees with 15 mph winds. It's virtually impossible to do ANYTHING with the big gloves on, let alone something so intricate as getting those damn crampons on the bottom of my boots. So I took my gloves off to try and get them on, and then in about 30 seconds I had 2 frozen claws attached to my wrists. It's amazing how useless fingers and hands can become when frozen. I would just stare at them trying to power them to accomplish what I wanted, but they just looked back at me. So when I finally managed to somehow secure my boots, I hunched over gasping for air, clutching my hands under my arm pits.....looking up only to see the others were already moving ahead. I think I yelled a "hey, wait for me" in vain as it seemed my words just drifted off in the wind....and I saw the headlamps slowly shuffle off in front of me. The funny thing I remember thinking, was that everything was happening so fast, yet it seemed in slow motion, and everyone was unrecognizable in all our gear. It was impossible to single out who anyone was, in order to single any particular person out and make a more personable plea to wait for my panicked and unorganized self. We all had on so many layers, with gloves, huge down jackets, and hoods, that the only thing you could see was a light beam being shown out from some astronaut looking head. I felt like I was on another planet, encountering beings whom I knew were friendly, but couldn't seem to communicate with. I noticed to my amazement though, that there were two other "beings" who seemed to have been left behind as well, and it was only about a few seconds before I latched on to their sense of being left behind as well.

I knew I was in trouble when not 5 minutes into clanking over the rocks in our crampons, trying to even FIND the snow route, our guide Gwoody told us we needed to "hurry up". Jesus, I was still hyperventilating from GETTING FREAKIN DRESSED, everyone has thrown our game plan out the window, and now this prick is telling me to hurry. If I hadn't spend so much energy putting those damn crampons on, I would have taken them off and hit him over the head with them. The first 3 hrs were SOOOO incredibly miserable....I had no energy, was scared, and couldn't believe that I was feeling THIS bad THIS fast. The other problem was that I had put my gels on the outside of my down jacket and so had pretty much frozen so I couldn't use them for energy. Well, as I staggered along so early in the climb, my confidence hit an all time low. It took everything I had to keep going and I wanted to turn back. I managed to switch them to the inside of my pocket so they would thaw. And BTW, while all this was happening, we were ALONE without a guide. Don't ask me where, why, or how...but after being left by our group, it seems we had also been abandoned by our wonderfully supportive (NOT) Gwoody...whose only departing words were "hurry up". This latest setback actually might have done some good for me, because I think the anger of him leaving us alone in the pitch dark, on a snow traverse on Mt. Aconcagua, in minus 20 degrees, on our summit push....actually began to fuel my steps so I could ring somebody's neck when I found out what the hell was going on. Those first 3 hrs were one of the darkest and most alone moments I've ever felt. I was SO tired that every 20 minutes I'd fall to my knees and say God, I can't believe I feel this way...and gasp for air. It was all I could do to just barely place one foot in front of the other. Throughout this period, it was David who encouraged and waited for me. It was truly a moment when I felt a strong connection in misery and thanked him over and over for sticking with me. Demetri was also there but being the silent type, he simply provided silent comfort in his presence and the feeling of comfort in numbers.

Well I finally started forcing the gels into my body and PRAYING. David even got the 1st one out for me since even taking my gloves off again was way too traumatizing and energy consuming for me to bear. They then began to thaw a bit and I also started forcing myself to drink, and amazingly I started to rebound. At first it seemed that I wasn't really getting better, just finally not getting any WORSE...maybe it was just because I couldn't get ANY worse. And then I just thought it was a fleeting feeling that I certainly couldn't put any faith behind. But then sure enough, I started getting the faintest feelings of energy, and the earliest and most incredible faint hope and optimism started to seep into my being. I was actually began to step in rhythm and climbing steadily without thoughts of giving up at every step....oh my God...I began to think I might be able to do this!!!

Well just like in my race last summer in Morocco, when I met up with a friend when we were all in trouble and ended up staying with him even after I felt better.....I felt that David helped me so much, I would stay with him as well, and repay him in kind. Just because I seemed to have miraculously recovered, I wasn't about to just say "well, thanks Dave for your help, but I'm feeling great now so I'll just catch you later". He had previously had a bit of trouble on other days and so I knew that now I was the one who had to be the strong one and push him and encourage him....and I sure did. I felt so good to help him and I even physically pushed him on more than a few occasions when he was falling back.... and I don't believe he even knows that today....I never told him.. Demetri, the other making up our 3 person desperado, finally decided that our pace was too slow and he bailed out on us. David didn't know how well I was feeling all of a sudden, and it wasn't until our guide finally showed up and started giving us really dire time ultimatums instead of encouragement, that I first entertained the idea of leaving Dave behind. Ol' Gwoody showed up again, but instead of offering encouragement, help, and guiding steps....he would pop up out of nowhere, give us some kind of ridiculously depressing time constraint, and then fly off ahead only to sit on a rock and wait for us way up on the trail. We'd make it up to him in a slow but steady fashion, and instead of him giving us any kind of positive words, he's offer up another negative comment on how slow we were and then trot off again.

Meanwhile, David and I had undergone a complete role reversal. I would encourage him, make him eat, and he would improve for a short time.... but only to laps back into another slump. I would tell him that it didn't matter if we were going slow, we'd sure as hell make it to the top. Off course, these were indeed optimistic projections, many of which I didn't really believe myself, but as I tried to convince him with limited success, I was actually starting to believe these words that my optimistic, alto-ego was coming up with. We got to one section where it was barely even an incline, and he was taking the slowest steps.....I wanted to jump over him and run....that's how much I was ready to go.....of course I didn't....but it was THEN that I realized in all it's finality, that David wasn't going to make it and neither was I if I stayed there any longer.

When our guide told us we would have to turn around if we couldn't speed up, I told David to keep pushing forward, but that I had to go ahead or it was over for me. Our guide didn't really want us to go on because HE didn't really want to go on and up all the way, we think.....and so I was so afraid and down right paranoid that he was going to try and turn me around. So I decided I was going to stay right on his ass as he went up the mountain to show him I was strong and capable. Every step he took, my boot was right in the spot his foot had left...when his right foot took a step, my right foot filled the void, when his other foot stepped, so did mine....when he turned around to see where I was, he almost bumped into to me because I was right THERE. I noticed Gwoody was actually taking breaks because HE needed them, not because I did. I felt like every time we stopped, I was auditioning for the right to continue. I kept saying " bueno" and pointing to myself and them at the top of the mountain. I kept saying "Vamos"!! It was like a really bad Spanish class and I was the eager student who didn't speak very well but was excited to prove to the teacher that I was ready to learn anyway!!

Finally Gwoody must have decided that if one of us had better be left alone, I was sure in better condition to move on by myself that David, so he decided to go back for David and ushered me off on my own .....and they called another guide to come back for me. So during my 10 hour ascent, I basically was without any guide for about 5 hours of it including the 1.5 to 2 hours completely alone and climbing at over 21,300 feet. I wasn't scared then because I had energy and I was damn determined, and because it was a bright, sunny day and the trail was obvious with many others on I was passing up all the people that passed me earlier and was feeling pretty damn impressed with myself, and thanking God for giving me the strength. Instead of taking longer breaks like I knew my team was up ahead, I was taking 5 to 10 min breaks, or no breaks at all, to make the summit before it was too late. The way the guide made it seem was that our team would be coming back down sometime rather soon, but in reality, they were not even there yet and I was actually gaining on them. It was during this time that I looked around and realized what I was accomplishing and how far I had come....from that scared and frozen rooky starting out in the dark frozen the confident, energy filled soul who was streaking up the mountain on his own, on a beautiful day, and feeling confident that success was waiting for me on top!!!!

I got to the last and most notorious section of the mountain because of it's steepness and the irregular steps needed, called the Canaletta ....where it seemed like every single step required 5 breaths. I was working so hard and expending so much energy that steam was rising off my body like a steam engine. Well, every good thing must come to an end and here so did my energy finally fail. There is only so many calories you can get in up there, before the amount you are withdrawing from your bank, exceeds your deposits and that was the point that I just ran head first into....HARD!!! One minute I was feeling full of energy and optimistic, and a second later I felt the world had just dropped out from under me. I was SOOOO DONE and had 2 hrs left and about 1,200 feet to go of the hardest yet....dear God did I struggle...I was working so hard that I actually was sweating and even took off my jacket and had ONLY one single base layer shirt on and that was IT. I would take a step and lean over on a rock and gasp and gasp for air and energy. The other guide finally met me about 30 minutes into it and I gave him my jacket and water bottle to hold. I was sooooo tired and he would say in his accent "Franko, you have climbed for 15 days my MUST NOT give up now that you're so close" I would say "OK Pinky (his nickname) I will not give up"! Boy, it was then that I talked a lot to all my relatives that had passed away and that I knew were watching me...I told my dad that I knew he were watching me and that I needed his and all their help, but that I wasn't ready to see them again yet. But my body was telling me other things however. I had become incredibly dizzy like I had never felt before and would have to rub snow on my face to keep from spinning. If I closed my eyes for more than a second, I felt myself going....and would have to shake my head like you do when you}'re falling asleep in the car or something. My vision in the right eye was becoming faded and my lower back was aching like from the kidneys when you're severely basically, I was scared shitless that at any moment I was going to drop and then be in a whole lot of trouble. But I kept praying and telling myself to keep it together....I kept taking one step,then another step, then another step. The route seemed to be coming to and end, and then when you got close, you'd see it veered further away and higher to the was SOOO excruciating. But I kept at it...and I said "son-of-a-bitch....I'm not stopping until I make it, I'm not stopping, not stopping...." Then I heard someone call my name from the top and it made me feel so good to know that they saw me and were cheering for me. Even with about 30 ft left, I almost sat down in sheer exhaustion and said "This is it, I've gone as far as I can go".....but I didn't....I walked the last few steps....I made it and into the arms of my our guide Tincho and a couple of the women in my group and sobbed the most relieved, exhausted, and tired tears!!!! Thank God....and then of course I looked and saw and damn dog sitting up there next to the cross and said "what the hell"...yes, and dog had just trotted up there and I was so delirious and freaked out that I thought for sure I was seeing things. I went over to the famous cross on the summit and knelt down and said some prayers.... and then hell, as soon as I had gotten there, it was time to leave. They had all been there for a while and so I had only about 10 minutes and of course I wasn't going to stay longer by myself....I had had enough of that.....

Throughout most of the climb up the Canaletta, I was convinced that I was already physically way past overdue...and still kept going. I was so damn determined to make it...and I did! I'm really proud of my accomplishment, but getting down was a nightmare and I´ve learned that what I always tell my family isn´t necessarily true....that if I feel in danger, or I've gone beyond my limit, I´ll turn around. I believe I thought that in the back of my head, that I'd be safe and conservative, but now I know the reality is that my determination and stubbornness are too much to overcome, and that I´m not quite mature enough to make the logical decision under those circumstance. I was literally apologizing to my wife and family in my head, and thinking that as soon as I passed out, I was really in BIG trouble. It seems I was relying on God or fate to determine my future and almost tossing a coin and waiting to see which side of the lifeline it would land on.....not relying on myself and MY "plan". I had actually said to myself, "well if I'm meant to survive, I guess I will, and if I don't, then it was meant to be." But that's not exactly what I had planned on and I never thought I'd feel like I came so close. Now maybe the severity of it all was in my head and I wasn't THAT close to real trouble, but the fact is.....I'll never REALLY know....but I sure felt like I was!!! So, of course getting to the top was the greatest thing and I´m so proud of myself for digging so deep, but I´m afraid the misery and danger of the sport might have to keep me grounded either for a long time or permanently!!...and keep events closer to sea level!!

So for the forceable future, I'm hanging up the climbing boots (or actually sending them back to my friend whom I borrowed them from ...haha) and keeping my ass down closer to the ground!!! Thanks again to everyone for their emails and support!!!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

RR results

Good morning from sunny New Mexico:)

RR was a wonderful weekend and it was so good to see so many of my past and present coaching students:)

The race of course like any race has the good the bad and the ugly:) It was cold is all I can say!! Dreamchasers had some awesome races but of course as it always does some did not finish for reasons that just happen in these long races.

I paced Bob Becker through his first 100..what a joy this was. Bob lives in Florida s the cold was tough and so were all the roots on the trails..but I have to tell you this man rocked! 23:30!!!!!

I am so proud of all of you with the amazing efforts the endless help given to all before, during and after the race.

Michelle Jensen won the 50 mile!

31 22.15.25 William Cook M 38 CA FIRST 100!!
49 22.52.30 Nancy Warren F 40 CA
51 22.53.39 Laura Bleakley F 37 NH
62 23.24.24 Cathy Tibbetts F 52 NM
66 23.30.07 Robert Becker M 61 FL FIRST 100!!! 67 23.30.44 Anita Fromm F 35 CO
83 24.36.30 Kira Matukaitis F 29 VA
103 26.16.12 Kathryn Cotton F 40 WY
105 26.24.51 Bob Haugh M 55 KY
109 26.43.41 Thomas Triumph M 48 NJ
129 27.45.51 Nattu Natraj M 43 CO

5 07.53.42 Michele Jensen F 36 CO
12 08.54.37 Michael Evans M 35 ID FIRST ULTRA!!!
20 09.26.08 Terry Madl M 52 IL FIRST ULTRA!!

50 11.26.45 Colleen Woods F 33 ID FIRST ULTRA!!!
54 11.41.24 Matt Reznik M 35 IL FIRST ULTRA!!!
95 15.21.06 Tess Geddes F 48 BC Canada FIRST ULTRA!!

I hope to have some good photos for you soon.

Have a great day

Friday, February 02, 2007

Huntsville Texas

23 hours and 38 minutes to get here! Not to bad.

It was perfect weather through Wyoming and Co. but once we hit Oklahoma and Texas we had snow, pouring rain and traffic. We could have made it in 20 hours.

Sad enough Mike was driving and he get a speeding ticket that will cost him $220!!!! Holy smokes is all we could say. At this point we have to laugh about it.

The drive went by so fast..even with not to much talking. It was nice to just be able to sit still for a bit, listen to music and have a few good laughs. Have you ever heard of the game called
Ding Dong Ditch??? Mike told us all about this game he played as a kid...!!!

Texas is a bit cold and windy today but it looks like great race day weather.

Mike and Colleen went to visit the prison, yes a death row prison is right up the street from this hotel!

Kira got her today and looks like a movie star ready to rock and roll!

So, so fun for me to see so many coaching clients and others. Sure do miss my own family when I am away from them but it makes my heart grow as they say!

We will keep you posted on the races..say a prayer for safe runs for all to be had.

Have a wonderful weekend