Sunday, December 29, 2013

Every single night's alright, every single night's a fight, and every single fight's alright with my brain

Those of you that know me know that winters are hard for me. I've gotten pretty good at living with Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or maybe it's just that I now live in a place where it is sunny and warm most of the year! But no matter where I live the winters are filled with listening to a lot of Fiona Apple. Gosh that girl just gets me. Some people think she's crazy. Maybe that's why I like her so much... makes me feel a little more normal. Well the title of this blog post comes from this song.

To get through the winter, I like to focus on training for future races. The next race coming up is the Moab Red Hot 55k in February. I've put in some good training with the last few weeks being in the 45-50 mpw range. But I've just been really disheartened this past week. First off, I've had some foot pain acting up again. It's always a different pain, but always on the same foot. This time I have pain on top of my foot on my metatarsals. I think it's tendonitis and it SUCKS. The downhills hurt the most and I just want to be able to cruise again. 

On top of that I have just had some awful body-related stuff. When I kick my mileage up, I sometimes get really bad heart burn. I've heard other runners mention that this happens to them too. The thing is, I know that 50 mpw isn't that much compared to what elite runners put in.  But with working retail I either work all day and don't run at all or I put in long two-a-days. Like this last week, for example... I've been working a lot for the holidays. So on Christmas Day I did a 6-miler followed by a fast, hilly 6-miler. Then on Friday I did a 10.5-miler before work followed by a 7 miler after work.

In theory I feel like I should be able to handle this. There are countless people who are able to handle many more miles than I can and make it look easy.  But for some reason when I hit the 50 mile mark, my body starts to break down. On top of the heart burn I've had some GI stuff that I won't go into but suffice it to say that when I looked it up on the internet I got a little freaked out. So last night's fight with my brain went something like this: you are not made to be a competitive runner/ you suck and maybe you should just do 5ks from here on out/ ha, you hope to run a 100-miler someday, what a joke.

Well, there's one thing I'm determined not to become and that's a whiner. Since I'm the world's biggest feeler, I'm going to try to focus on what I actually know. 1) I've been eating a lot of cheese lately and I'm lactose intolerant so that's not going to help anything. 2) I don't drink enough water and I always have a nagging dehydration-headache. 3) I'm hungry all of the time and we are poor so I eat a lot of low-quality food. 4) I spend all day everyday on my feet and maybe I should do some strengthening and stretching exercises for them. 5) After having surgery on my back in 2012 I have done exactly zero things to strengthen my lower back and hips and I usually just try to ignore them even though they are clearly the source of all of my other pains.

So with that said, no more whining. I finally got an iPhone so I've become addicted to taking pictures and using Strava while I run.

Paragliders on a run up Windy Saddle

Is this real life?


Babbling Beaver Brook

I love my mountain

Add a filter, if you like

Sun comes up

Christmas morning run in Gunbarrel

Best present ever

Buy it here, Buttercup

Cory's stocking contents

My stocking contents

Not a dog

Prance on

Two coyotes on the prowl

Favorite view of the city

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas, here's a mix tape...

It's funny to think back a few years to when music used to take over my life. Now I'm just a music appreciator and running has taken over my life. Don't judge me, but music is one of my favorite training tools. I use it responsibly on the trails, not too loud or I take an earbud out if there's a lot of people around. So here's my Christmas gift to you: some jams.

1. Locked in a Cage - Brick + Mortar
2. Bit by Bit - Mother Mother
3. Beach Holiday - Fort Lean
4. Major - Asteroids Galaxy Tour
5. Beat the Devil's Tattoo - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
6. I Had Me a Girl - The Civil Wars
7. Soul of a Man - Beck
8. Tightrope - Yeasayer
9. Little Pistol - Mother Mother
10. Devil's Waitin' - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

Friday, December 6, 2013

Winter Rewards

Today we had a whopping high of 9 degrees. I had a hard time getting myself bundled up and out the door, but I'm glad I did. Dare I say that I sweated during the run? I wound up running for a couple hours and it was one of those blissful, soul-filling runs. Here's some pictures.

I've never seen deer this close to the radio tower... to many people for their liking.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Usually November is a pretty low-key month for me. I try to rest up and cut down on the miles. But the word "rest"... what does it even mean? For me it just means that I don't have a prescribed plan of workouts for the week. It means that I run whenever I feel like it. Looking back at the month, I guess I just felt like running. I guess I also didn't feel like writing, so here are some highlights.

Some exciting news is that I am now a sales rep for a women's running apparel company called Run Pretty Far. I'm really proud to be bringing some great gear to stores and races across the state of Colorado. I've been in love with pretty much everything this company churns out and I can't wait to see how things take off.

Running-wise, I've been ramping things back up in preparation for Moab's Red Hot 55K in February. I'm pretty excited to get a dose of desert this winter. I haven't really finalized all of the races that I want to do, but for now after Moab I'm planning to do the Run Through Time again in Salida and the Dirty 30. These races are awesome and I just can't stay away. Other than that I'm planning to do a 50 miler this year and/or maybe a 100k. I like the idea of doing Leadville 50 and the timing seems about right, but I'm not usually a strong high-altitude runner. Run Rabbit Run 50 would be another good one at a little lower elevation, but I usually feel pretty fizzled out at that point in the season.

Here's some photo highlights from a loop I did in Boulder before Thanksgiving just after the trails re-opened. Went up Bear Canyon, snagged a Green Mountain summit, took the ridge over to Bear Peak, grabbed S. Boulder Peak before heading down Shadow Canyon. The trails were still pretty gnarly after the floods. Along the way I flew around a corner and almost ran into Tina Lewis. I also saw Buzz Burrell, the brand manager for Ultimate Direction.  Oh the perks of living in Colorado.

Snow's a coming

The fires here contributed to the severity of the flooding

Oh little town of Boulder

Crowded Bear Peak

The flat plateau is Table Mountain and the taller one behind it is my Green Mountain

Windmills with Denver in the background

Bear Peak is on the right and Green Mountain on the left

Does it get any more beautiful than this?

Alright, enough pictures. For Thanksgiving we went to Kentucky to visit Cory's family. It was actually colder in Kentucky than in Colorado. We spent a few days in the hills at a cabin near Red River Gorge. Running there was tough! Relentless hills (have these people ever heard of switchbacks?) and rooty trails strewn with slick leaves. Lots of turned ankles. The weather turned bad and we decided to head back to Louisville. Cory's parents live near a park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (Central Park designer) and the trails are about as good as an urban park gets. 

We did a Thanksgiving Day 5 mile race on the roads in the park. This year the race drew the most participants ever but race day was so cold that many people didn't show. The course goes to the top of a hill and back and I remember the first time I did this race a few years ago, that hill felt like hell. This year, though, it seemed easy.  I managed to run it in 35:19 which put me in 12th place overall and 2nd in my age group. For the first time in my life I won some money! $20 isn't much, but to get a piece of the cash purse for a road race is pretty exciting for me. Cory got 4th place overall and 1st in his age group with a time of 27:50. Two of the guys who beat him were former Kentucky high school state cross country champions.

So that was the month of November! Now we finally have some snow and I'm looking forward to breaking out the snow shoes.

Here was the sunset the other evening.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

For the sake of knowing what's at the top

When we first moved to Denver a year and a half ago, I remember exploring the meandering trails at Bear Creek Lake Park a lot. At that point, my Wisconsin lungs were perfectly content with the whole three switchbacks up the side of "Mt." Carbon. I put "Mt." in quotes because it is really just a small hill. I ran there a lot simply because I didn't know about the extensive network of trails off in the distance. One day, Cory came home from his first run on Green Mountain in Lakewood and just couldn't stop talking about how beautiful it was. He couldn't wait to take me there.

That weekend he went up to watch and pace at the Leadville 100 and I ran an 18-miler at Bear Creek Lake Park. I ran into these two women and I was excited just to see other trail runners. I ran and chatted with them for a bit and they said they lived by Green Mountain. I told them that my husband said it wasa  great place to run and they exclaimed that it was much too steep and that people definitely don't run there. I laughed a little inside. Since they were locals I asked if they knew what the taller pointy mountain was directly to the west of the park and if people could run there. They seemed pretty clueless about it.

As time went by I gradually came to know and love pretty much all of the Jeffco and Denver Mountain Parks. I figured out that the mountain I had wondered about was called Mt. Morrison and that the trail through Matthews/Winters went to a plateau just beneath it. Every time I ran M/W with a friend I mentioned that I just really wanted to bushwack up to the top and see what it was like and they would give me a look like, "Hell no, don't make me do that." But if you have a mountain in your backyard, you should see what's at the top right? Why NOT climb it?

Well, Cory and I both had the day off today and I got that sucker checked off my list. At the top there is some radio towers with signs that say some blah about the radio frequency not being good for the public. Whatever. There were no "No Trespassing" signs, so I took those signs as "If you want adventure, then carry on." It  was worth the view.

At the top of Dino Ridge... down the hill and then up the mountain in the background.

Home is down there.

City o City!

View from the top.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Contentment and how to get it

It's Fall: that time of year when the sun wakes up later and goes to bed earlier. I tend to do what my friend the sun does, so when he's a little depressed I get bummed out too. I try to use it to my advantage, though, and you can read all about that here. Sometimes it's hard and being happy is a choice. I think about contentment a lot on long runs... usually because I am the most content while I am running and I get sad when I realize that the feeling won't last.

During my last long run, I was thinking about a phenomenon that has become part of my life. When I didn't live by any mountains, I thought I would find happiness just by living close to them - that everything would be right in the world if I could wake up in the morning and gaze at jagged peaks on the horizon. After a year of living in the city of Denver I enjoyed riding my bike to work on the Cherry Creek bike path and catching glimpses of mountains, but I soon felt like it wasn't enough.

We decided to move to the base of Green Mountain in Lakewood and for a few weeks I was euphoric about having a backyard mountain. I would feel compelled to do two-a-days just because I couldn't get enough of it. But slowly, this creeping feeling has come back that if only I was further in the mountains, I would find happiness. I've started to think that maybe we should move to Evergreen or Conifer and then we would be surrounded by mountains but not too far from the city. The thing is, if we moved there, I would soon find myself feeling like we needed to move farther in to find happiness.

Fortunately, I'm married to a guy who doesn't really like to change. He hates moving and thinks it's important to stay rooted to a community. He loves the city and doesn't want to get too far from it. Without him I would be some hermit on a mountain. And then the next year I would be a hermit on another mountain. I would end up like the host of other 20-somethings who live their lives based on feeling instead of the knowledge that they have to endure times of unhappiness to really understand contentment. We are pretty much the song "Extraordinary Machine" by Fiona Apple. This is me: "I still only travel by foot and by foot it's a slow climb, but I'm good at being uncomfortable so I can't stop changing all of the time." And this is him: "He's no good at being uncomfortable so he can't stop staying exactly the same."

So I have a war within myself. Is it wrong to constantly want to be closer and closer to those majestic mountains that call to me? Surely I would never quite feel content, even if I lived in the heart of the San Juans (and there would certainly be costs like joblessness and loneliness). It made me think about the only part of the the Chronicles of Narnia that I really remember. At the end of The Last Battle, after Aslan has made all things right, he beckons the characters toward the mountains saying "Come further up, come further in." And as they move higher up into the mountains, there are more mountains to explore.

I think my longing is only natural. We, as humans, long for the place where all things are right. Life is a constant struggle and though that struggle refines us, we want the struggle to be over. By day, we dream of things that might be. We construct a future for ourselves and we yearn for the moment when we can say that we've arrived at the place of happiness. But when you get there, will you really be happy? I think that as long as we pretend that we can happen upon contentedness, it will never be found. The thing is, it is something you can choose for yourself in this moment. Yes, right now.

I've been reading Killian's book, Run or Die, and I love how vulnerable it is. Killian struggles with this phenomenon, too! People like me don't win races, but we may dream of winning races and we idolize the people who do. After Killian achieved the success he dreamed of, he says, "The moment you surpass the people you idolize and become your own idol, the magic of sport is lost. Idols are reference points that act to mark out a path, to help you know what you have to work at and fight for so that you can emulate what they have done. And when you have succeeded, when there is only one person you can surpass, and that person is yourself, it means you have understood nothing." He goes on to say basically the whole point I've been trying to make. "The winner isn't the strongest, but rather the one who truly enjoys what he is doing."

Wow, after that I don't really know what else to say. Obviously we enjoy doing some things more than others and obviously there are some circumstances that are too hard to be content over. But I have to keep telling myself the answer isn't to just pick up and start over. If I start over, I will just end up in the same place, as if I had learned nothing.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pearl Izumi Trail N2 and M2... the wonder shoe

What am I to do now that I no longer have any races to write about for a while? Gear reviews. After Brooks changed my beloved Cascadias I realized it was time for a switch. I wandered around happily in the Salomon Speedcross 3s for a bit before settling on my new love, the Pearl Izumi Trail N2s and M2s.

Here's the thing about footwear reviews, unless your foot is similar to the reviewer's it doesn't really matter what the reviewer thinks of the shoe because you will probably have a very different experience. So what is my foot like? It's not narrow and it's not wide, but it's a little flat. I over-pronate a little but not a lot. My toes are all pretty short and my 2nd toe is longer than my big toe, but even my pinky toe is only marginally smaller. This means that I normally like a rounded foot-shaped shoe over a pointy toe shoe.
Yes, I kept all of my toenails this season.

Though I am a footwear nerd, I have yet to write a shoe review because shoes are such a personal thing and what works for me night not work for you. At the end of the day, people care little about the technical details of the shoe and more about what the overall feel is like. Well, my friends, we'll get through the boring stuff (my favorite stuff) fast and I will tell you why these shoes are so magical.

 M2 top and bottom view

N2 top and bottom view

First off, what is the difference between the N2 and the M2? Not much. In the words of PI the difference is that the M2 has "Bi-lateral stability support is trail tuned to keep your foot on top of the midsole platform in technical terrain." What does this mean? The M2s will help control over-pronation. This feature is pretty minimal compared to the typical "stability" shoe and the pronation control is accomplished through placing mid-sole foams of different densities in areas that stabilize your foot's side-to-side rocking movement. Really this just helps keep your foot strike from getting sloppy as your form degrades throughout a race.

Other than that here are the deets that both shoes share. They have a dynamically off-set midsole which will naturally encourage more of a midfoot strike. The lugs are multi-directional so that you will have good grip going both uphill and downhill. A seamless upper provides amazing comfort and it is nearly impossible to get blisters from the shoe itself. The shoe is not physically capable of absorbing moisture, so unless you are wearing a really crappy sock, water drains very quickly. The laces are wavy which makes it pretty much impossible for them to come untied. The drop from forefoot to heel is 9mm so it's not minimal but it's also not a monster.

Alright, now that all of that is out of the way, what do I actually think about the shoe? First off, from the minute you put them on you will be in foot heaven. No rubbing on my pinky toe, no squishing my toes together, no sloppy heel fit, no weird arch support. Just simple goodness. The seamless upper let my toes stretch out as needed and didn't cause any hot spots.

On my first I run took the N2s to some very technical trails in Golden Gate Canyon State park. They felt sublime and let my foot do their thing without any pinching, squishing, or rubbing. The one tricky thing was that the sole platform was much wider than I was used to with my narrow Speedcrosses. This feature definitely made me feel more stable, but I kept nicking my toe on rocks and narrowly avoided some face plants. After two runs, my body got used to this and it hasn't been an issue since. I had a few awkwardly placed footfalls and the rockplate gave adequate protection and the toe bumper, though minimal in appearance, was placed well in the spot where my toes actually hit things.

Now that I've been running in them for a few months across a variety of terrain and in a couple of races, I can honestly say this is the best all-purpose shoe I've ever owned. The cushioning is soft enough that I can wear the shoes on pavement and the lugs don't grind down too fast. The grip is good on the rocks out here and the platform keeps you stable on scree and pebbly stuff. Because the upper is so breathable, very fine silt and sand does get in. It performs extraordinarily well on hardpack and did better than I expected on ice. In muddy conditions it does gunk up pretty fast and I would probably still choose a luggier shoe if I was running in sloppy mud or snow.

I would have to say that these are my ideal ultramarathon shoes because my foot expands a good bit during races and I feel that there is adequate room in the forefoot to accommodate that swelling. That said, when I take them out for shorter distances there is a little bit of sliding in the forefoot but not enough to say that it has a "sloppy" fit. I'm glad I own both the N2s and M2s because they serve different purposes. I tend to use the N2s for quicker faster efforts and I use the M2s on longer training runs and longer races because they noticeably help me keep good form longer.

A lot of local running stores are carrying these shoes now, but for friends who don't have a retailer nearby I recommend going to this site where you can type in your current shoe model and see how the fit compares.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Redemption: Blue Sky Marathon Race Report

Last year, the Blue Sky Marathon was the first marathon I ever completed. I made some silly decisions, like camping the night before in a snow storm and eating some spicy noodles for dinner, which resulted in me never quite being able to warm up and also having to take two off trail excursions into the bushes. At the end of the day I was proud to have finished, but I gutted out the last 6 miles, walking almost all of the uphills, and finishing in just under 6 hours. I'm not the biggest fan of the course because I would much prefer to run loops in the Horsetooth Mountain part of the course instead of the rolling Blue Sky Trail out to Devil's Backbone, but I decided that I needed to do the race again to get a little trail redemption.

Ever since the end of August I've just been feeling burned out and my body was just telling me to quit for the season. I had put in some good miles with lots of runs in the 10-16 mile range, but since Mt. Werner I had only done one 20-miler. Also, after watching Cory complete such an epic adventure at UROC last weekend, I mentally couldn't get into the idea of running a marathon on a course that I had already experienced. Warning: If you are a guy the next sentence is about women stuff. The other unfortunate thing that happened is that the day before the race I was visited by my "monthly friend." I know why women don't really talk about it, because no one wants to hear about it, but I would rather run a race with a stress fracture than face race day with woman pains. There is a reason why Native-American women were sent to their own tent on the periphery of camp to suffer it out.

So race day came, and even though I wasn't so jazzed about the idea of running a marathon, at least I wasn't as anxious as I normally get before a race. It looked like the weather was going to be ideal and Nick Clark made some changes to the course due to the recent flooding. I was excited for a bit of new trail and it was going to add 350 feet of elevation gain in the Horsetooth section. Perfect... my cup of tea. 30 minutes before the race I took the good ol' I&I combination (Ibuprofen and Imodium) and I thought I was good to go.

The race started off comfortably. I know that I usually start out too fast, but I like to maximize my strengths so I thought it would be silly to take the Horsetooth section slower than my body wanted. I ran all of the uphills (it was more like a slow plod) and even though I started in a large group of women, I found myself overtaking most of them without really trying. I didn't feel like I was really pushing it, but when I got back to the Blue Sky aid station at mile 9, I was 15 minutes ahead of goal pace and in 6th place for women. I knew some fast ladies would overtake me on the flats, but what I didn't know was that my body was going to rebel. I hit the port-a-potty for the first of 5 times during the race. Not exaggerating.

The next ten miles were a blur. I think my mind is repressing the memory of how uncomfortable I was. Even though the race was really hard for me because of this discomfort, the most maddening part was that my legs felt so good. As soon as I started to speed up, I felt like I needed to find another hiding spot. I decided to just give up the competitive drive and run my own race. It was a beautiful day with some beautiful scenery and there was no reason to dwell on anything else besides the good stuff. There was a lot of self talk (yes, out loud) during this section.

Near mile 18... my nemesis mile

Finally about 4 miles from the finish, I started to feel a little bit better. It was at this point last year that I was feeling my worst. I remember coming in and when the volunteers told me I had only 4 more miles to go, I wanted to punch someone in the face. This year I was just so happy that they had a port-a-potty that I wanted to kiss them all. After that I kicked it into high gear and passed 2 women and 3 men. I sprinted it in to the finish and almost took over one more women before realizing that that would be really mean.

Season is finally finished

One of many frustrating things about having to hit the bushes, is that you have no idea how many people have passed you during that time. After the initial time, Cory told me that no one passed me, but during the ensuing 4 more times in which I had to wander to some distant willow, 14 other women passed me! A girl that I was running and chatting with at mile 13 ended up in 6th place in a time of 4:43. I'm fairly certain that I could have sustained that pace had I not taken all of my off trail excursions. She joked that I should get an award for running an extra mile. Unfortunately for me in the time window of 4:59 to my time of 5:06, 12 people finished and 10 of them were women. Yeah, it's frustrating that if I had finished 6-8 minutes faster I could have been top 10. At the end of the day, place is pretty arbitrary and anything other than 1st place is technically not winning.

All things considered, I'm pretty proud of how I did. I got to meet some fantastic people. I enjoyed a beautiful day. I had a great crew cheering me on. And I was only 3 minutes off my trail marathon PR. Next time, I'm definitely breaking 5 hours. I'm finally getting to the point where those last 6 miles of a marathon are my favorite part. Most of all, I'm really sorry that most of this post was about bodily functions.

And congrats to Brandon McCarthy who managed to complete his first trail marathon after staying up until midnight the night before at a wedding. Pretty BA.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Wisconsin Trail Therapy and Cory's Ultra Race of Champions Experience

Last week I journeyed home to visit family and enjoy Wisconsin during it's one good season of the year. The trip was filled with horrible airport experiences, nostalgia, two-a-day running dates, lots of cute babies, and an unhealthy amount of beer and cheese. Since the general population could care less about my visit to Wisconsin and would rather hear about UROC I'll make this brief. 1) The Ice Age Trail is amazing and people in my hometown, though seemingly unaware of it's existence, are so lucky to have an incredible section pass through it. 2) Oxygen, though also amazing, made me run faster than I should have and now my shin splints are acting up. 3) If you thinking about visiting Wisconsin, there are about 30 miles of great trails in Blue Mounds State Park that will kick your ass. 4) The John Muir Trails near Whitewater are my new favorite find. 5) Don't be a preschool teacher or you will get impetigo.

My time in Wisconsin went too fast, but I was eager to return to Colorado to help Cory prep for his first 100k, UROC. As we drove up into the sleet/snowstorm on Friday, Cory was working through the normal nervous thoughts. He wished he had gotten in some more long runs. He wished he was feeling more rested. He was unsure how the snow would affect his performance but he was glad it wasn't going to be a hot day. When we arrived in Vail, he helped out at packet pick-up and got to meet some of the elites. Patagonia athlete, Luke Nelson, pretty much made his day when he told Cory that he was sure Cory would beat some of the elite field the next day. Eventually we headed back to Breck for the night and ate some pasta while watching Unbreakable.

Enjoying the Aspens but not the sleet

We were conveniently staying three blocks from the race start and so Cory was as relaxed as possible as we walked to the starting line. For the past few days he had semi-jokingly talked about how cool it would be to meet Geoff Roes. And when we got to the race start, there he was. Cory lingered nearby for an opportunity to meet Geoff and when the moment came, Cory introduced himself and then promptly forgot how to talk. When a star-struck introvert meets his extremely introverted idol, a little conversational assistance is needed. Seeing as it was 6:30am I tried to have Cory's back, but I think that if Geoff remembers us at all he will only remember us as awkward and babbling. At least he is somewhat smiling in this picture with Cory.

Cory and the Geoff

Ready to run

Soon the runners were off and we headed to Frisco (mile 13) for the first crew access point.  After waiting in the freezing cold - about 20 degrees with wind chill - for what seemed like hours, the first runners came in a little bit behind the predicted time. To get to Frisco they had to trudge through a lot of fresh snow. Surprisingly Jason Wolfe came in first followed by a pack of Rob Krar, Dakota Jones, Killian Jornet, and Sage Canaday. Other runners trickled in including a shirtless guy who's sole item of clothing was a pair of very short shorts. Not sure how he did it, but he finished in 9th. Cory predicted that he would come in at 2:30 but with so many runners coming in late, we were unsure how he was doing. Three minutes ahead of schedule, he came in with a smile and good spirits.  We gave him his trekking poles and he was off to the Copper Mountain Aid Station at mile 27.

Jason Wolfe leading the pack into Frisco

Rob Krar, Killian Jornet, and Dakota Jones staying together

When we got to Copper, we realized that it was going to be a day of waiting longer than expected. The race had predicted that the leaders would come into Copper at 10:22 and they weren't in until 11:15. Rob and Dakota came in first looking strong and then hiked up the next climb to Vail Pass. Then rolled in Killian and Sage. Cam Clayton was a little ways back, strategically running his own race. As for the women, Stephanie Howe came in first looking good but frazzled. Then came in Emelie Forsberg, smiling but tired. I must say that team Salomon has its aid station transitions down to a science. Finally Cory came in an hour behind schedule, which was actually pretty good considering that the leaders had been over an hour behind schedule. This is where he picked me up for 6 miles of pacing (I'm not a slacker, I just have my own race next weekend).

Heading out of Copper... yes right up that hill.

Going into the race, we had discussed what he wanted from me as his main crew person, and it was my understanding that he wanted someone to push him and keep him strong. The six miles from Copper to Vail Pass were almost entirely uphill, but it was on a bike path and so I was trying to help him maximize his time. He was cranky but had no complaints other than just behind tired. He did not respond well to being pushed and I started to realize that he was getting a taste of what I always feel like when I run with him. Sometimes running with your spouse is hard; they are the one person that you want to prove your toughness to. I thought he was doing great, but after the race he said this was his low point because the road was so boring and he was only halfway done.

I was worried about his pace, but all the guys around him were running just as slow. We talked to this guy named Gavin who runs for Pearl Izumi and then I stopped worrying about Cory because I knew he was exactly where he was supposed to be. They were around 35th place at this point. As we came into the Vail Pass aid station at mile 33, Geoff Roes was there manning the aid station and it was exactly what Cory needed for a mental boost. Our friend Jonah took on the pacing responsibilities for the next 30 miles. I was a little worried that Cory was in a mental low, but his stomach was feeling good and I was confident that he was going to get a second wind. He is a smart and consistent runner.

Kristen and I headed to the Minturn aid station at mile 52 where we knew we had a lot of waiting. The leaders started rolling in over an hour and a half behind schedule.  First came Dakota with Rob on his heels and the Cam Clayton shook things up and came in ahead of a very tired Killian.  When fifth place came in, everyone was surprised... not many people knew who he was. It was a smiling Ryan Ghelfi giving the town of Minturn his best beauty pageant wave. Finally Sage Canaday came in after having battled stomach problems all day. As for the women, Emily Forsberg had taken a commanding lead and Stephanie Howe came in looking like she wanted to quit. I talked to Cassie Scallon a bit who said that she had seen Stephanie in tears throughout the day. Props to that bad-ass lady. Quitting must not be in her vocabulary.

Stephanie Howe coming into Minturn.

Mayla tried to beg Kristen for food but fell asleep.

This Minturn woman and her golden retriever serenaded the runners for hours.

Shortly after 5 pm I started getting pretty antsy about Cory. Only about 15-20 runners had come in and so surely we had a while to wait. I met Gavin's parents who were relieved to know that I had seen Gavin a ways back. I gave them a report and we used their iPhone to check the live athlete tracking. Unfortunately it hadn't updated since Vail Pass where I had handed Cory over to Jonah. The sun was going down and so few runners had been through. I kept pacing a mile up the road to warm-up and cheer people on. Near the trail road junction I met a girl who was waiting for her boyfriend. He was also running with us near Vail Pass so I gave her an update on how he had looked. We started seeing a few of the runners who had been shortly ahead of our men, and so we started getting more and more anxious. Finally around 7 pm I saw Cory heading down the trail.

When you are waiting around forever with other people's friends and family, a funny thing happens. You want their runners to do well, but you get jealous when they get to see their runner and you are still waiting for yours. I could feel their panic as Cory came in and their guys were nowhere to be seen. Cory hadn't seen Gavin since Vail and said that the other guy, Jay, had been having stomach problems and so his poor girlfriend started to freak out. Cory was tired but was feeling much better than he was back at Vail Pass. It took him awhile to get out of the aid station, but when he got on his way, he was determined to get this race over with as soon as possible. The last rays of sun were painting the sky and running in the dark is no fun.

Kristen and I headed to the Vail finish line to wait a few more hours. They had just finished up the awards ceremony even though only three women had come through. After the awards the place felt deserted. Nowhere comfortable to relax. The only warm place to sit with our pup was in a vestibule in the main building. A few minutes later Bryon Powell and Meghan Hicks of iRunFar came in and made it their last hub before calling it a night. It was fun to meet them and see them work.

Finally, 14 hours and 21 minutes after starting his journey Cory crossed the finish line in 33rd place overall and as the 28th man. In the final few miles he had passed 5 people including The North Face athlete, Helen Cospolich. Only 5 girls chicked him. Pretty impressive. And true to Luke Nelson's guess Cory beat a few of the "elites." Cory was one of the most smart and consistent runners I saw out there. Of the 142 starters, only 78 finished. That's a 55% finishing rate. Goes to show what a tough day it was.

Post-race breakfast of champions at the Arapahoe Cafe in Dillon.