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trail running

Wasatch 100 Pacing

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Wasatch 100 Pacing

Someone once said to me “Your family are the only people crazy enough to spend days on end with no sleep supporting you on some crazy run.” I told him he needed better friends. I’d support a stranger like I would support my family. when it comes to ultra running. We are all just vulnerable humans chasing the limits of our physical body.

It was a random May day in Yosemite Valley. My friend Blake and I had climbed a few things here in there. One day on a hike into the rocks she lamented, you should meet my friend Stacey she’s a badass ultra runner training for her first 100. I think you guys would be friends. Blake put us in contact and we phone tagged here and there as I travel in and out of Utah. It wasn’t till I failed miserably on my Nolan’s attempt till I inquired if she needed any help for the Wasatch 100. That’s how it all began.

Stacey asked how many miles I wanted to do. With my recent hip injury and oral surgeries I knew I was only good for a hand full of miles. So she gave me the shortest distance. Big Mountain to Lambs Canyon roughly 14 miles. I booked my plane ticket the next day. I started to feel nervous as the day got closer. I wasn’t in very good shape and all the physical therapy I was doing for my hip was just making me super fatigued. All I knew was Stacey was fasted and my worst nightmare was getting dropped. I can red line for 14 miles right??

Stacey picked me up from the airport on Thursday and I hoped in her little car with her and her friend Sal. I love supporting big races the energy and people in this sport make me unbelievably happy. We grabbed a bite to eat and headed to the pre race meeting. We got there a little early so we walked around Salt Lake for a little bit and drank some boba tea. It has been since I moved from San Francisco since I drank that and it did not sit right in my stomach. We went back and they explained the race course and sent everyone on there way.

That night we strategized or maybe just hung out. We got Stacey all packed up and ready to go. She went to bed early so that she could make it to the bus leaving at 4am and the race starting at 5am! The alarm rang and I sprung from bed. Stacey was up eating breakfast and getting ready to go. She asked again if she need a jacket and I assured her that she would warm up quickly. Sal drove her to the bus and I tried to catch another wink of sleep before I was to start running with her at mile 30.

Sal and I got up ate some food and headed to the staging area for the race. We sat around for a few hours refreshing her tracker till we got the text from Stacey saying she was headed our way. In a flash we drove up the hill and were waiting at the aid station. Stacey was crushing and I was getting more nervous that I would get dropped. The aid station was full of energy. I was screaming and shouting and cheering the runners on and maybe ringing the cowbell a little too much. Quicker than we had thought Stacey was charging down the hill and it was time for pacing to presume.

Sal and I checked how she was doing and how the tendinitis in her foot was. She was in good spirits... her foot not so much. The sun was just peaking and I know we were in for a scorcher of a run. Stacey unlike me enjoys running in the heat. I on the other hand I run 100s of miles in Alaska for a reason. We got everything together and got her to eat some food and we were off on our way to lambs canyon.

As we started on our way I asked again how she was doing. As I jogged along behind her, her limp was super noticeable. I knew she was in a lot of pain but I also knew she was tough as nails. A few men passed us and one guy stuck around for a while as we chatted about ultras and what not. He jetted off and we were alone for a bit. Stacey would curse every time she stepped wrong on a rock and I'd try to distract her with another Lopi story. 

She was low less than halfway through a 100 mile run and having to walk from the pain. I reassured her that this was normal. Everyone walks and that no matter what she was getting to the finish line before the cut off. We ran for a little and then walked for a little and another man passed us. She turned to me and said this sucks. I knew she'd pull it together as we chatted about Salt Lake. She was like you said your race in Alaska was a death march I don't want to death march for 60 miles.

The next aid station came faster than expected. Stacey got some much needed salt and we filled up some ice cold water to put on her neck. Only 6 more miles till I handed her off to Amy at lambs. This stretch was hard. It was 1 million degrees outside and I was definitely not hydrated or salted. Stacey needed to walk more to keep her bad foot from giving out to quickly. And then we passed a runner with an epic bloody nose. I gave him all my toilet paper and then ran to catch up with Stacey. He later charged pass us with the toilet paper jammed up his nose. Lambs was just a dot on the horizon as we could see it for almost the entire 6 miles. It never got closer.

But then there we were finally. We got Stacey all situated I gave her a hug and said see you at Brighton. I knew Amy was going to keep her on track even though she was in a really low spot. Sal and I hung out at the aid station with my Canadian friends for a bit before we went back so Sal could get some sleep before he started pacing.

After Sal realized sleep wasn't in his future we headed to the seedy part of Salt Lake to buy some fries and then up to Brighton to wait for Stacey and Amy to arrive. Around midnight she showed up still smiling. She looked amazing for having almost 70 miles and raging tendinitis in her foot. We let her sit down and she looked at us and dead serious said I want to quite. I'm giving up. We said okay thats fine as we forced her to eat more InandOut fries and a sandwich. It wasn't long after that she was wearing my jacket, holding my poles, and I was putting her backpack on her and saying see you at the finish. 

Then I epiced. I drove away from the aid station with no charge in my cell phone and a city I knew nothing about. O boy I thought I hope my memory doesn't fail me now. I got my way back to down town Salt Lake and at about 3 am I knew I was doomed unless I got some charge. I rooted through a bag Sal left in Stacey's car and found a charge. I sat there on the side of the road exhausted trying to get just 1% so that it would turn on. Once it turned on I realized I didn't know her address so I scrolled google maps till I found were I thought it was. I was close only about a mile away. By the time I tucked into bed it was lights out but I needed to get up at 8am sharp to drive the 1hr to the finish and also get everyone food. 

By the time I reached the finish it was only a few minutes before I spotted Stacey and Sal walking up the road! I was so excited she did it with all the pain and death march it was. She finished the Wasatch 100 and with about 150 people who dropped that's a damn good accomplishment. She took a shot of whiskey and we sat around for a bit before heading back to Salt Lake. After a nap, some indian food and a full night of sleep I was back on a flight to Reno happy as could be. Man I love this sport and all these amazing people!

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Nolan's 14 - Unfinished Business

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Nolan's 14 - Unfinished Business

Here I was again. Alone in the woods. Spooned tight against Lopi with the rain tinging loudly off the roof of the van. It was a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Days didn’t matter out here. What mattered most was the weather. Another flash of lighting blinded me for a few seconds and the thunder rumbled through the van. It fit my mood. I was feeling the apprehension of years of time spent here. Months of being alone running, hiking, and exploring these mountains. But the mountains don’t care about that. A fall could be deadly and the weather. The weather turns from blue bird to snow in seconds and when the hair stands up on your arms you fear you will die. But even if the weather held. Would I finish? Would I finally be able to bury this obsession? What if my body gave way before my heart and mind? What if an injury? What if a sickness? What if… 

This was my second summer in Colorado scouting the beautiful line called Nolan’s 14. It traverses 14 14ers gaining and losing 44,000 feet respectively. And it is the most beautiful line I’ve ever seen. It has consumed my time and thoughts for years. After a horrible failure last year this was my redemption. I wouldn’t make the same mistakes, and I would have the company and strength of my partner Julia Millon to pull me through.

Let’s start from the beginning. It was a average cold Monday in May. I had just driven back from a week in Yosemite and wanted to see some familiar running faces so I showed up for the Donner Party Mountain Runners Monday group run. It was a large group and I recognized a few faces. We started with a big up hill. I struggled to keep on the heels of Gretchen and was looking forward to the downhill. At the top we waited for the group to all finish and then it was the fun part. I took off in my typical brakeless descent. It is rare someone can keep up with me, but I kept hearing a person a few steps behind. When we reached the parking lot within seconds Julia and I became instant friends. The most mentally tough person I had ever met and balls out crazy on technical descents… It was only days before I reached out to see if she would want to be my partner for Nolan’s. Her response was something like “Fuck Yes!!” and that’s how it all began.

I left for a two month training and scouting mission in Colorado around the beginning of July. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse once I arrived. A horrible gum infections and two surgeries put me out for 3 weeks on my training and scouting. When I was finally able to run again I came back fast and hard. Spending long days in the mountains and as much time as I could. Nolan’s was coming together and as the date came closer and closer I was becoming less and less excited. I started to feel burned out on the mission. Nothing was new and exciting anymore. I had seen almost every part of the course and I couldn’t pull on any stoke. I had spent most the summer alone and work had been very stressful. My energy levels were tanking, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be my normal stoked self.

But here we were getting ready for go day. I picked Corbin and Julia up from the airport on Thursday morning and we all made our way out to the mountains in the van. First stop was the Leadville beer mile. A tradition at most races were your crew and pacers get out and run a beer mile. Corbin participated and actually did really well. It was a fun way to start the trip and see some other ultra friends. 

Next was Friday. The plan, pack, and get super fucking nervous day. We spent the day in Buena Vista making sure everything was set and ready for our mission. Corbin was debriefed and our bags were packed. Now it was just time to sit and wait for 5am to come. It was crazy that last day. I had waited almost 360 days for this very moment. BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals), as my friend Stacey calls them, have a tendency to pull you in and then spitting you out making you wanting more. I knew we could do it. The real question was would the weather allow us?

The alarm chirped at 5am and we all piled into the van to prepare and make breakfast. Corbin cooked me up some eggs and made Julia some coffee. This time I double checked to make sure tracking was turned on and at 6:08 sharp Julia and I were charging up the trail.

Most of the Shavano trail was in a thick cloud and when we finally got above treeline we got above cloud line too. It was shaping up to be a beautiful day and we made quick work of Mt. Shavano. Once we got to the saddle and started our final ascent a crazy wind picked up. It was blowing straight into our faces and my hands quickly lost feeling. We finally layered up, crested over the summit, and started our way to Tabeguache. The ridge between Shavano and Tab goes quickly and once on the summit of Tab we headed for what they call the Hamilton traverse. Continuing on the Tab ridge we got our first taste ofexposure and steep scree. It landed us in a beautiful saddle and we finally got to run a grassy roller descent.

Julia looked back at me as we opened up our stride and said this is some sound of music shit right here. To which I shouted “The hills are alive with the sound of music…” for the entirety of the descent. There was no trail and when we got to the bottom it placed us in a marshy bog with dense bushes. At first we tried to pick good footing and avoid getting are feet wet but after a few minutes we were just charging straight through feet and ankles in deep water and mud. The marsh dumped us out on a fire road which we would take almost to the top of Antero. 

This is when I started to tank. My stomach had been sour all morning and I was struggling to keep any calories down. The fire road was a gradual grade and we never stopped moving but I was starting to feel the fatigue and my energy levels were tanking. My sister Ruthie and her fiancé Stephen were planning on meeting us on the top of Antero so I kept pushing through to see them. Off in the distances I caught a glimpse of Stephens backpack. Julia was waiting for me at the top of the hill and when I got there I told her I think thats my family and even though I want to take a little break lets keep going. Julia was getting her self situated as I continued walking. Out of nowhere a helicopter started to land. I turned around to find Julia getting dirt blasted. She took off in a sprint and we laughed at the close call. She was like I kept telling myself that helicopter won’t land till I get out of the way… apparently not.

We kept going until we caught up to Ruthie and Stephen and we shared stories about the helicopter and found out that a jeweler had a rock stuck on top of him and was needing a rescue. The four of us continued the last little section to the summit of Antero. I made slow progress of the final section to the summit. It seemed that every time we’d get close to 14,000 feet my body would slow to a survival pace and I just slowly keep moving upward. We said goodbye to Ruthie and Stephen and started our run down the steep face of Antero. As we lost elevation and scree skied down the mountain I started to catch another wind. Julia and I talked the entire fire road out to the van running the entire time.

At the van I finally got some calories down. We were making great time and right on the schedule we had predicted. 10 hours from Blank Cabin to Alpine was the most ideal situation. Giving us a good amount of daylight to get up the back side of Princeton. We refilled, changed socks, and got on our way quickly. It was hard leaving the van but the next section up grouse creek flew by. Julia was setting the pace and I was just keeping on her heels. When the trail finally disappeared we started straight up the side of the mountain towards the Princeton summit. On a map it doesn’t look so far but the terrain isn’t quick moving. Up through the woods we moved. The hill was steep and we followed aimlessly through the trees. This is when we encountered fresh mountain lion tracks. I had been intently looking at the ground trying to see any other signs of humans and unfortunately found signs of one of my biggest fears. Being alone in the woods at night in mountain lion territory. Our goal was to get to treeline as fast as possible now. A small kick of adrenaline got me moving and we crested above treeline right at sunset. We scared a heard of about 15 mountain goats and we watched them scurry up the steep talus.

We could see our ascent gully now and Julia looked at me and said that looks way too steep. Headlamps on and a little pump up music playing we started our way up the gully. At this point it was our only option we needed to get up and over. The gully which I coined “Death Gully” was incredibly steep and very loose. Every step up was a few steps down and a rockslide of dirt and boulders. It was important we picked a clean line and the leader didn’t send rocks speeding down at the second. Julia took the lead at first but after a mild panic attack I took over. The moving was slow and the top of the gully never seemed to get closer. At one point in the pitch dark I tried to convince Julia for a nap. We moved even slower the higher we got. The late night and lack of oxygen was getting to me. When we finally reached the top of the gully we could see Princeton silhouetted by the moon in the distance. We were still so far from where we needed to be. A quick scan of the terrain with the headlamp showed jagged steep cliffs in almost every direction. Unfortunately for this time in the night our best option was to traverse the ridge even though this meant submitting a 13,971 foot peak as well as Princeton. 

The ridge to Princeton went slow. We had been above 13,000 feet for hours now and both of us were struggling with food and fatigue. When we finally made it to the summit hours later than we hoped we needed to make a crucial decision. Run down the shortest route and bushwhack below treeline in the dark or take the actual trail and potentially add several more miles but be on trails the entire time. I was nervous about the mountain lions below treeline and Julia was nervous about the terrain. So we made the decision to rough out the extra mileage in an effort to be on more runnable and safer terrain. 

We didn’t stay long on the summit because we both felt very ill and started to run down the trail. The trail was steep and loose and both of us took a few tumbles. It wasn’t going as fast as we had hoped and I was looking at my GPS for navigation. I didn’t want to loose the trail on accident. At one point an hour or so after leaving the summit we looked at the GPS only to discover we were still above 13,000 feet. At 2 in the morning we took breaks often and barely talked. The trail turned into a road and we shuffled our way as quickly as possible. By the time we reached the Colorado trail at 3am we were still 12 miles from the van. I looked at Julia and said we’re going to watch the sunrise before getting to the van. And then silently we pushed our way towards Yale. Julia led setting a good pace on the uphills. We filtered water once and Julia took a few second nap on the trail. The sun was rising slowly and the darkness became a bit less dark. Our hallucinations started to hit strong. Is that a house I’d ask and Julia would respond I thought that was a bus and as we got closer it would just be trees.

By the time the sun finally rose we were on the road headed towards Yale. I was a little nervous that Corbin would head into town to check our tracker or something and miss us since we were now about 3 hours off of schedule. But being able to turn my headlamp off made me catch a second wind and we laughed our way the final two miles to the van. Our plan was to take a quick 30 minute nap and then be on our way up Yale.

When we got to the van at 7am we found my friend Brandon, Ruthie, and Stephen all surprised to see us. Our best case scenario arrival would have been 3am so showing up at 7am was a surprise to everyone. Julia and I passed out immediately in the van having been on the move for 25 hrs. Our half an hour nap turned into an hour and a friendly stranger named Sue offered to do some body work for us. She was a extreme sports massage therapist from Aspen out riding horses for the day. She gave Julia a leg massage and then came for me. I was struggling already with the nagging pain my hip gives. I was unable to sleep in certain positions in the bed because of it and Corbin commented that it felt like my femur was protruding from my hip. Sure enough it actually was.

Sue laid me down and rotated and popped my femur back into the socket. For a few seconds I felt better and then as I sat down I heard it pop back out. At this point there was nothing I could do about it. My muscles wanted to femur there and it was going to need to be dealt with later. Around 10 am after mentally and physically struggling to get started again Brandon, Julia, and I started to make our way up Yale. At this point time didn’t matter 60hrs was looking far out of the picture and I was now nervous we would be getting stuck in the dark on some unideal peaks. The steep climb up the Colorado trail to the Yale turn off went forever. Corbin and Lopi caught up with us for the summit and I really enjoyed all of the company. I had felt like shit for almost the entirety of the run and I was doubting my ability to continue. The middle 7 peaks are a serious commitment and after our night on Princeton I was questioning it.

As we reached the turn off for Yale I confessed to the group my lack of stoke. I was having the ultra downs and joked with Julia. “You didn’t come all the way to Colorado not to get stuck in a lightning storm above 14,000 feet.” I had been watching clouds build on Harvard as we hiked up the hill but wasn’t worried. A lot of the storms that happen don’t amount to much and the forecast was calling for a near perfect day. Julia and Brandon went ahead and Corbin stuck with me as I struggled to eat and keep moving. Yale was a death march but I was determined to summit. 

We summited the false summit and then met back up with Brandon and Julia for the final push to the summit. The clouds were starting to look ominous and at this point it was safer for us to summit and descend quickly the trail on the other side than it would be to traverse back the way we came via the entirety of the ridge. Right as we approach 14,000 feet it started to snow graupel on us. Brandon in good spirits stated that this was his favorite type of precipitation because they were like little snowballs! Now above 14,000 feet and on the final 70 feet to the summit it hit us. Corbin threw Lopis leash to the ground shouting did you feel that!? As the carabiners on his leash started to sizzle. Immediately next my poles in my hands started to buzz and the hair close to my face stuck straight out. I threw my poles to the ground and Brandon said ow! My poles just shocked me. Someone in the group asked if we should turn around and before an answer could be made I was full speed down the hill. We needed to make it treeline asap. 

We tried to keep 100 feet between us and stay off the ridge as much as possible. I made it down to the meadow at 13,000 feet and could still feel my poles buzzing. Next was the metal button on the top of my hat. The adrenaline was pumping hard and I was moving faster than I ever had with 50+ miles on my legs. The thoughts flashed through my heads what if something happened? This was my fault all these people were out here on this mountain because of me. Not only that I was the one moving slow if only I had moved faster we would have summited before the storm hit and hopefully had been in safer terrain. But it just came so quickly with no warning. CRACK! Lightning shot across the ground and struck in the valley close by. Don’t stop I kept repeating. 

We all made it to treeline in record time and as we sat eating and dumping the scree out of our shoes it was over. Nolan’s was over. I wasn’t sad actually but happy. All the people I cared about were safe and alive. No serious injuries and nobody got zapped by lightning. Some things you can’t control. With Nolan’s the weather and the mountains determine your success. And there will always be another year.

We made it back to the van ate some food, took a nap, and started the return back to normal life. I keep telling myself I won’t be back. That I’ve seen all of the course and that I’m ready to spend my summer doing something else. But deep down inside I know I will be back. Me and those mountains have some unfinished business.

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Aloha! Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail

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Aloha! Pu'u Manamana Turnover Trail

The beautiful island of Hawaii is just a short 5 hour flight from California. It is a shame we don't go more often. This trip was a birthday present to Corbin, and we booked super last minute. Corbin wanted to surf three times a day, and I was determined to find out what all these mountains were about. We surfed the first few days while I hiked around in the sand trying to get my knee back to full strength. I was researching hikes and runs in the area and found a short hike that promised lots of thrills. This hike was classified as "The most dangers hike on Oahu". I'm a mountain woman. How hard could it really be?

We drove down the coast from North shore where we were staying. You could see the epic ridge lines shooting straight out of the beach. For a few moments I thought non of these mountains look walkable. They are sheer cliff faces! We parked the car and took an unmarked but well traveled trail off the side of the road. The trail had lots of people on it and we continued to gain elevation at quick rate. At the first vista most everyone was turning around but we were determined to keep going. The hike we had planned was only 4 miles long and we had barely trailed .2 miles.

Up and up we went. The traveling became less walking and more scrambling. At times you needed to use your hands to get over things. But at this point I still wasn't convinced this was the "Most Dangerous Hike". We came to another vista and didn't even stop at this point there were no more people which I actually kind of preferred. It is hard to pass people on a knife blade edge. The going got a little more airy. 2,000 foot drops on either side as you traverse a ridge barely big enough for you feet. Corbin made a comment about being puckered. I was still feeling calm.

We kept going up and up and up. We caught more views of the surrounding mountains and the trail became less and less traveled. It wasn't hard to follow though because you are on a tiny ridge the only choice you have are to continue following it or to turn around.

The trail started to become muddy. Next it was over grown. You could barely see where you were stepping and everything turned into a slip and slide. We finally after 2 miles came to a trail junction. One route went left and down and the other continued to follow the ridge up and right. we chose the right ridge. At this junction we could see other small islands off in the distance and the surrounding ridges sheer cliff faces.

We were fully committed at this point. There was no turning back and we were feeling hungry now. We didn't bring any food because we thought it would be a quick short hike. I mean it really is only 4 miles... The ridge was so over grown we couldn't see were we were stepping and the mud so thick our feet would sink and our shoes get stuck. We slipped and slid all over the ridge until we came to the final ridge junction. We headed down this time. Our legs and arms were covered in scrapes and bruises from the bushes and our shoes were heavy from mud. Not to mention the trail wasn't getting any wider... or less steep.

The downhill was the hardest ridge. My legs were tired and my footing slick from the mud. Twice I stepped to close to the edge of the trail and my leg busted through the ferns and dangled freely over the cliff. Slipping and tripping on mud covered roots. It was the closest I've ever come to loosing it on a mountain. The downhill went forever and spit us out in an old grave yard down the hill. It is too date the longest 4 miles of my life taking us 4.5 hours. You can check the strava out here.

In conclusion I do not think this is the "most dangerous hike on Oahu" There is plenty of danger that has never been traveled but it was a full on jungle adventure!

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Ultrarunning Podcast Laughs

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Ultrarunning Podcast Laughs

I peed in a water bottle in the back of a Subaru Forrester while recording a podcast for DFL Ultrarunning.

The stories a little deeper then that though. So I woke up on MLK day in Truckee. I hopped in the car and headed west towards the Bay. I shot Libby a text telling her I might be late for the podcast we had planned to record at noon. We had tried to record the podcast about three days earlier but had technical difficulties with being in three separate cities. I had to be in the Bay for work so we figured it would be easiest to just meet up and do it then. The pass on i80 was chain controlled and it had been raining/snowing non stop for three days... But oddly enough I made record time and was an hour early. I met up with Libby and we grabbed a boba tea from across the street before starting to figure out logistics for recording. Libby lives in a shack outside a climbing gym and doesn't get very good internet. The climbing gym itself would be too loud. So Libby had the great idea to back her Subaru Forrester up against the gym and we could sit in the back and poach the gym wifi. 

So here we are with the Subaru backed up in the do not park spot just to the right of the handicapped spot and subsequently right in front of the entrance to the gym. I finished my tea and we Skyped on with Eric from the podcast. Everything was going great until half way through the Yosemite story when I had to pee... but by half way through talking about the Grand Canyon I realized it was an emergency and I was never going to make it through talking about Zion. So I mouthed to Libby "I NEED TO GO PEE" she read my lips and and didn't know the emergency state I was in. I pointed to right outside the car door. She shook her head no. I was at the pee your pants state. She handed me the laptop and I filled some time talking about the rest stop outside the Grand Canyon. When she returned she handed me a bottle and my eyes lit up. I handed her the laptop quickly ripped down my pants and started peeing in the bottle... In the back of a Subaru directly beside the entrance of the climbing gym. Libby turned the laptop away so you couldn't hear the pee hitting the bottle but the whole scene was too much to not laugh a little. I pulled my pants up and capped the bottle off and continued talking as Libby burst into laughter. We were really good but the laughing blew our cover. We have really proven to not be the best at planning. Give it a listen if you have the time. DFL Podcast Episode 60


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Where to Run with a Sled (in Tahoe)

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Where to Run with a Sled (in Tahoe)

So you built this sick running sled and now you want to know where you can run with it. Well thats a tall order. In Tahoe it seems like you can barely get enough flat miles in to actually feel like you ran with it. Every trail seems to want to go up up up. So I’ve been out and about running around with my sled trying to find the places that offer more than a few 1 mile laps of meh running. Here are the current goods I’ll try to update this as I find more gems in the area.

Castle Peak - Options to go on the rolling PCT or to run on the moderately flat Donner Lake Rim Trail
Trailhead Coordinates: 39.339750, -120.350162

Deep Creek - An initial uphill followed by lots of flat. This gets skinned a lot so follow the skin tracks (but not in the skin track)
Trailhead Coordinates: 39.258776, -120.211609

Donner State Park/ Coldstream - Roads and roads and roads of rolling snow to run! Or just run around the mega flat state park.
Trailhead Coordinates: 39.321503, -120.230272

Tahoe Meadows - A few miles of flat mostly snowshoers and snowmobiles
Trailhead Coordinates: 39.307656, -119.908443

Spooner Lake - Flat and a 2.1 mile loop… Lap it out for hours.
Trailhead Coordinates: 39.107080, -119.913613

Prosser Hill - Flat OHV roads big and wide
Trailhead Coordinates: 39.386975, -120.184195


All that being said you can most definitely always go to a groomed cross-country resort to get that good long work out in. People will look at your funny but who cares you’re training! Some good ones include:

Tahoe Donner and Royal Gorge

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How To Build A Running Sled

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How To Build A Running Sled

So you've found yourself in a situation. You are running a 100 miler in Alaska in the middle of winter. The race requires you to carry 15lbs of survival gear on you at all times and you decide that is too much to carry on your back. So what do you do!? Build a sled of course! Lets also say you want to build this sled in about 3 hours from stuff you can get from around town... Well you have come to the right place because I have done all the hard stuff for you.

Step 1: Convince yourself that running 100 miles in Alaska in the winter is a good idea and register for the race.

Step 2: Move to a snowy climate so you can train.

Step 3: Re-convince yourself that running 100 miles in Alaska in the winter is a good idea.

Step 4: Training in cold weather conditions without a sled.

Step 5: Realize that you should really be training with a sled.

Step 6: Gather materials for the sled.
-Cheap kid sled from your local gas station
-2 Carabiners
-30ft of static cord
-Backpack belt
-25 large zip ties
-2 5ft and 1/2in PVC pipe
-1 Large duffle bag or custom made sled topper (made by my awesome mom)
-Power drill with two drill bits (based on cord/zip ties size)
-Lighter and Scissors
-1 Black Lab for moral support

Step 7: Drill 10 holes on each side of the sled.

Step 8: Place custom made sled cover in sled and use scissors to punch holes in fabric at the exact holes. (if using a duffle just buy bungee cord and strap the duffle in the sled then skip to Step 11)

Step 9: Accidentally stab your finger with the very sharp scissors

Step 10: Place quick ties in holes and fasten them tightly and cut the extra plastic

Step 11: Drill two large holes in the front of sled (and two in the back if custom sled)

Step 12: Cut cord in thirds.

Step 13: Thread cord down through front holes and tie an over hand not on the bottom and top.

Step 14: Slide PVC pipe over cord and clove hitch or whatever knot you want to the carabiners.

Step 15: Clip Carabiners to backpack waste belt (cross them in the back for more control).

Step 16: Run around your house in it because it's a damn sexy sled.

Step 17: Melt those knots!

Step 18: Okay go drink some hot tea because you're done. And now the hard part of actually training with it is upon you. The following steps are for my custom sled.

Step 19: Cut the remaining cord in half.

Step 20: Thread through the back holes and tie a knot on the bottom.

Step 21: Thread through the tie down straps and tie to the front of the sled.

Step 22: Now you are done too and can drink some hot tea before going outside with it.

Hope that helped maybe just a little! Feel free to reach out and ask me anything else. (I named it Clifford the big red sled)

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Triple Crown of Trail Running

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Triple Crown of Trail Running

The Triple Crown of trail running encompasses approximately 100 miles and 25,000 feet of elevation gain. 3 Rivers, 6 Rims, 3 National Parks, 2 Months, 2 Chicks, 4 Sticks. The Rim to Rim to Rim of Yosemite, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. As climbers going fast and light in the mountains is really important. Being able to cover large amounts of distance in a short amount of time with only your legs and large amounts of gels is the name of the game. We coined it the Triple Crown of trail running because of the famous triple crown in our home park linking El cap, Watkins, and Half dome.

So what exactly is this made up adventure the Triple Crown of trail running you might ask. Here are the separate trip reports:
Yosemite Trip Report - Topo and Elevation Profile
Grand Canyon Trip Report - Topo and Elevation Profile
Zion Trip Report - Topo and Elevation Profile

Though you don’t have to do them in any particular order we seemed to do them in increasing in difficulty. Not as a strategy more as an accident. Yosemite is the shortest of the three at about 17 miles and 7,000 feet of elevation gain. A start at Glacier Point sends you down to the valley via the 4 mile trail. The valley is only about half a mile wide so it’s fast progress getting to the Yosemite falls trail were you ascend quickly and then return the way you came. We completed this in the end of October when the days where longest and we were on familiar terrain. Our Grand Canyon adventure happened a month later right before Thanksgiving. The days were shorter and the distance was more than doubled with even more elevation gain. We had perfect weather though for late November. Covering 44 miles and about 12,000 feet of elevation gain via the South Kaibab and North Kaibab trails. The final and star of the entire adventure was Zion. We completed Zion on the shortest day of the year right before Christmas. Night running, snow, and cold for hours on end as we charged for about 40 miles and 6,000 feet of elevation gain. Navigating the East and West Rim Trails of the valley.

I could talk your ear off for hours about these amazing adventures. There is no way to really see a park then by experiencing it by foot. I hope you get inspired and hike or run these lines as well!

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Rim River Rim River Rim *of Zion

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Rim River Rim River Rim *of Zion

Bang Bang Bang! There was a loud knock on the door of Libby’s mothers house. Who could that be we thought? When we opened the door it was the cops. “Excuse me miss but we got a call from a neighbor about a suspicious econoline van being parked outside this residence.” Ironically I had just crawled from my bed in the back of the van maybe two hours earlier. It is my home and even when offered a bed in a house I often choose the van. Libby consoled the officers letting them know it was fine and everyone went on there way. So what were Libby and I doing in Las Vegas a few days before Christmas? Let’s rewind.

The idea to run the Rim to Rim to Rim of Zion happened a little after the half way point of the Grand Canyon. It was Libby’s idea and in the moment it seemed like the best idea ever. We trotted along the trail scheming about how easy Zion would be. I distinctly remember us saying something along the lines of “At least we have the hardest one almost done. Zion will be easier than Yosemite!” The planning was immediate, laying in the back of the van legs paralyzed from the Grand Canyon and already looking at topos for Zion. You would have thought we might have, just maybe, learned something from the beating we just endured. Runners highs will do weird things to the brain. The initial idea was to run from the river to observation point back down to the river up to angels landing and back down. However this would be considered a River Rim River Rim River… and that just didn’t fit right with us. 

A few weeks went by and Libby and I had planned out the epic three day adventure for the end of December. This time it involved a van, plane, and a Las Vegas rendezvous. I didn’t do much of any running between the Grand Canyon and Zion and I didn’t expect Libby to have either. Libby was in Ukraine being a bad ass nurse healing hearts, and I was in the Bay quitting my job. I picked Libby up on December 19th from the Las Vegas airport. I was already in the area because the previous few days I was climbing with my sister and friends in the St. George and Red Rocks area. That night we got an alright sleep and in the morning was when the cops showed up. We ran a few errands and then headed for our bivy spot outside of Zion.

The plan had changed from the original idea and we were now going to run the East Rim Trail to the West Rim Trail back to the East Rim Trail this would be a total of about 60 miles round trip and allow us to do a proper Rim River Rim River Rim. Our longest run yet. Since we both live in California winter isn’t really a season. And the past couple of years that was the truth. Climbing in tank tops in Yosemite in December and running in a snowless Tahoe in January. I for some reason had this idea that there wouldn’t be much if any snow in Zion. But we called up the backcountry office to get the details on the trails. They pretty much said I don’t know it might be snowy. I imagined a few hours of post holing in knee deep snow on the rims followed by lots of dry and fun trail running. I couldn’t have been farther from what we were about to endure.

We woke up at 4:50am and started towards the East entrance. We wanted to start moving close to dawn. The roads were icy and as we got closer to the East Rim the snow on the sides of the road became more and more apparent. We both packed our bags and stuffed a bagel and cream cheese down our throats. It was about to be a long day of goo, trail butter, and baby food. We were a few miles in when the sun finally rose. It was this brilliant red. Libby made a comment about a red sky being a bad sign. We were about to see a lot of bad signs. We charged through the snow for a few hours. We kept thinking the snow would lessen as we lost elevation but it seemed to just be getting thicker. The crunchy snow turned our ankles side to side and stressed our metatarsals. While the champagne powder felt like quick sand as it splashed up over our knees. The moving was slower than we had expected and we kept trying to make mental notes of the surroundings just incase if the storm hit early and covered our tracks. 

As the sun rose it was hard to tell that it did. The ominous sky was gray and was foreshadowing for the storm forecasted for that night. The sun never graced our skin and I stayed tightly covered all morning. As we ran through the snow we could hear the woods come a live in the morning. The barking of the coyotes in the distances and the sound of snow crunching under our feet. It felt therapeutic almost like meditating. We barely talked mostly because it was hard to hear each other over the sound of snow crunch. 

We came across a few trail junctions and ended up following a fainter trail that went out right. I was hesitant and shouted back to Libby about getting the map out. We never did and continued to trudge on. I was following the tracks of a single person which should have been the first warning but by the time we reached a trailhead half a mile from the junction it was clear we had made a wrong turn. A little extra mile detour to add to the mornings joy. We turned around and got back on the correct trail. We need to keep moving. It was after all the shortest day of the year.

A few miles from the trail junction the trail was covered in blood… fresh blood. It was scary seeing the white snow so bright red. It looked like a bunny had been eaten for breakfast and we took that as another bad sign for the day. We continued down hill in a couple of areas that were definitely no fall zones. We were loosing elevation quickly and I joked that running was my favorite snow activity as we sneaker skied down pillows of powder. Soon the view of the valley came into sight. It was breath taking and we were both relieved to finally be making some sort of progress after what felt like forever of snow slogging. Libby wasn’t doing well. She was already setting the ground work for an early turn around. She said just letting you know that we may just do Angels Landing and then turn around. My knees are hurting really bad and it’s early to be having this much pain she reiterated. I reassured her that I would do whatever she felt was right. Though an early turn around at Angels Landing was feeling very enticing. The thought of being out here in the dark for 7 or 8 hours in a potential snow storm was making me nervous as well. 

We hit the trail junction for Observation Point and finally found a place to slip on our spikes. Now it was just the quick run down to the Weeping Rock. We made quick progress of this with the extra sure footing that the spikes on our feet had to offer, and I snapped a few pictures of the views to distract myself from the extremely urgent need to poo. It was quickly becoming an emergency. As I stood a thousand feet above the trailhead toilet I peered down at what seemed like my freedom. I looked back at Libby and said I’ll see you at the bottom as I launched myself into a full out sprint. The trail was packed with early morning hikers and I wasn’t about to ruin there morning with an explosion of trail side diarrhea. Though for a few minutes I thought it was inevitable. My gait opened wide and I let gravity take me down the trail, across the parking lot, and into the bathroom. Without even time to lock the door, backpack still on my back, I pulled my pants down just enough and lost control. I can most definitely say that was the closest I have ever been to shitting my pants.

Pants up and spikes off, Libby and I made our way on the mile long section of road between the Weeping Rock trailhead and the Grotto. The Grotto was the only place we would be able to fill up water that we knew of so we made sure to drink a lot and fill up as much as possible. We never stopped for very long because it was so cold. The longer we stopped the more cold we got so our stops were often quick and to the point. It was surprisingly cold even down in the valley which was not a good sign for the weather on the rims. When we headed up the Angels Landing trail we decided we weren’t going to make a decision until we got to the split between Angels Landing and the West Rim trail. I knew Libby was leaning more towards the Angels Landing option but I still had some fight left in me. We charged up the trail in a extremely fast pace. We were finally hitting our second wind. By the time we reached the junction I knew we should keep going and Libby did too. It was very apparent at this point how low Angels Landing actually is from the true rim. It does not even get close to the West Rim height. Loosing a little elevation and then gain some again we finally reached the West Rim. 

We sat down and looked at the map. We had planned to take the Telephone Canyon trail which would save us about 2 miles of distance getting to the West Rim trailhead. Unfortunately since the recent snow fall nobody had taken that trail and it was completely untracked. Our lack of a GPS left us in a tricky situation. Do the longer option adding another 20 miles on to our trip and risk getting stuck in a snow storm, in the dark, in an unfamiliar park. To me we had already finished half of our goal. We had run Rim to River to Rim now all we had to do was get all the way back to the van. Tagging the trailhead of the West Rim would be nice but it was where it was located so far away because of where the road ran not because of where the true rim was. Running from trailhead to trailhead in the Grand Canyon made sense because the trailheads were actually at the rims but for Zion the trailheads were 10+ miles from the rims just because of the nature of the valley. Here was the dilemma Libby was jet lagged, in pain, afraid of the dark, and nervous about the weather. I was nervous about the weather, in pain, and afraid of the dark. We made the call. We turned around at the rim and we both kicked ourselves at first. Trying to justify our decisions. We played it safe and I think we made the right call for us as a team, on this day, with these conditions. But because we are both motivated people it was hard to turn around. But the faster and faster we lost elevation and the darker and darker the sky got the better I felt about our decision.

We had committed to our decision and there was no turning back now. Libby kept commenting the faster we move the faster we get back. It kept us moving. Nothing seemed more exciting then laying in my bed in the back of the van. I wanted to make it up the East Rim climbs before it got dark. The route finding was a bit cryptic and I wanted to avoid getting lost at all costs. We ran down the paved Angels Landing trail wincing with every move. Filled back up at the Grotto and made our way along the road for the final mile before heading back up the East Rim. At this point we still head 11 miles to go and a ton of elevation to climb. It was around 3 pm and the sun was already setting.

When we put our spikes on at the bottom of the Weeping Rock we knew we wouldn’t be taking them off until we got to the van. I struggle to run in the spikes because they tweaked my previously broken first metatarsal just right that by this point the pain was not just ultra pains but broken bone pains. Something I was not unfamiliar with when it comes to running. Up we went hardly talking at all. We were on a mission to get the hell out of this canyon before we had lost all of the light. We made it up both major climbs before we needed to strap on our head lamps. We were 5 miles from the van and in complete darkness. There was no moon or stars because of the storm clouds. The worst part of this all was that we were now in the woods. My headlamp illuminated the snow in front of me which showed tracks of animals coming in and out of the woods. Nothing feels more eerie then being in the snowy woods at night. I kept my creeped out feelings to myself and agreed with Libby to stay close. Heads down we studied the tracks on the trail, bunnies, deer, coyotes, maybe cats, human foot prints, big human feet, little human feet. It wasn’t fun but we kept moving and in the silence I would think of the worst case scenarios and then quickly forget and daydream about laying in my bed getting a back and calf massage. Every time I lifted my headlamp I half expected to catch the glow of an animals eyes but never did. I was happy about that.

We had done really well about fueling and kept a good strategy all the way up to the end. About 2 miles from the van we both popped a goo and congratulated ourselves on never having to eat another goo for a really long time. I was feeling very sick and barely kept down the last 3 goos I had taken. All I wanted was real food. Anything of substance anything to stay down. When we made it back to the van everything went away. All of the fears of getting lost everything. It was all over we could rest now. Eating a little here and there and changing a few layers we both examined our bodies. Our feet didn’t fare well… blisters, bruises, and sores. I know it would be a long few days of compression, stretching, and icing. But our ultra was far from over as always. We still had to drive back to Las Vegas.

I hoped behind the drivers wheel and started to make our way slowly towards the interstate… very slowly. My night vision is terrible and so are my headlights on the van. Poking along at 20 to 30 miles under the speed limit we made progress. This isn’t anything new. Libby laughed remembering how slowly I drove away from the Grand Canyon. It almost felt like deja vu… until the flashing lights showed up in my mirror. O boy I was getting pulled over. The officer came up to the window and was surprised to see two emaciated females behind the wheel. I half expected him to be pulling me over for going way under the speed limit but instead he told me my license plate light was out and gave me a warning. If there is one thing I know, driving a creeper van sure does draw the attention of the cops. 

We headed on our way and I stopped at a Mavericks to get gas. I put the pump in the van and hobbled to the bathroom. I was surprised though I felt much better then after the Grand Canyon. When I returned to the van I opened the drivers door to find Libby hanging out the passenger side and like any good friend ran to take a picture. The first vomit of the day which was then followed by several other vomits at different Mavericks along the way back to Vegas. By the time we got home Libby limped into the house, and I crawled into the back of the van. I could finally relax it was finally all over for a bit. I crawled into my sleeping back and tried to fall asleep. Unfortunately I wouldn’t be so lucky. The pain in my broken foot was excruciating and I tossed and turned all night unable to sleep. When I woke I was worked. Libby gave me some pain medicine but it didn’t seem to take the edge off. It had been 6 months since I broke it but I guess I never really rested it. RICEing real hard right now. Libby headed off to the airport to go back to her job in the bay and I loaded up Lopi and my sister and headed back to do some climbing in Red Rocks. Like always life returns back to normal faster than you’d expect.

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Words to Live By

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Words to Live By

I've been asked this question before... What is it that pushes me to get out every day and push my human limits? What kind of sick and twisted and fucked up thing makes a person run 40 miles on a badly broken foot? I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I don't struggle with motivation every once and awhile. For example, over the summer when I was training for Nolan's 14 I once woke up at 4am to run part of the course only to drive to the trailhead, take a nap in the back of my van, and not get started until 11am. Which subsequently meant I get stuck in a terrible thunderstorm as is common during CO summers. But all that aside I must say I do enjoy suffering. I genuinely enjoy a self induced dose of pain. I seek it out in its most natural forms, and then dwell in the pain cave with a smile. I think this is mostly because I experience much worse pain. Pain that is not physically induced. Pain which I cannot explain. Pain that is so painful my life stops. I stop. Pain which I have no control over. And when this pain rears it's ugly head in my life I am reminded of how pleasant that long run in the rockies was with that broken foot. But I can talk about this for hours so instead I'll post the wonderful and motivating skyrunner manifesto, which I know by heart and I hope will motivate you like it does me. Feels fitting as I prepare for another sufferfest adventure. This time in the desert with good company!

THE SKYRUNNER'S MANIFESTO

Kiss or kill. Besa o mata. Kiss glory or die in the attempt. Losing is death; winning is life. The fight is what decides the victory, the winner. How often have rage and pain made you cry? How often has exhaustion made you lose your memory, voice, common sense? And how often in this state have you exclaimed, with a broad smile on your face, "The final stage! Two more hours! Go, onward, upward! That pain only exists inside your head. Control it, destroy it, eliminate it, and keep on. Make your rivals suffer. Kill them" I am selfish right? Sport is selfish, because you must be selfish to know how to fight on while you suffer, to love solitude and hell. Stopping, coughing, feeling cold, not feeling your legs, feeling sick, vomitting, getting headaches, cuts, bleeding...can you think of anything better?

The secret isn't in your legs, but in your strength of mind. You need to go for a run when it is raining, windy, and snowing, when lightning sets trees on fire as you pass them, when snowflakes or hailstones strike your legs and body in the storm and make you weep, and in order to keep running, you have to wipe away the tears to see the stones, walls, or sky. The strength of mind to say no to hours of partying, to good grades, to a pretty girl, to the bedsheets against your face. To put your soul into it, going out into the rain until your legs bleed from cuts when you slip on the mud and fall to the ground, and then to get back on your feet and continue uphill until your legs cry out, "Enough!" and leave you marooned in a storm on the remotest peaks, until you die.

Leggings soaked by snow, driven on by the wind that sticks to your face and freezes your sweat. Feeling the pressure from your legs, the weight of your body bearing down on the metatarsals in your toes, pressure that can shatter rocks, destroy planets, and move continents. Legs suspended in the air, gliding like an eagle, or running faster than a cheetah. Running downhill, slipping on the snow and mude before driving yourself on anew, and suddenly you are free to fly, to shout out in the heart of the mountain, with only the most intrepid rodents and birds hidden in their nests beneath the rocks as your confessors. Only they know your secrets, your fears. Because losing is death. And you should not die before you have given your all, have wept from the pain and the wounds. And you cannot surrender. You must fight on to the death. Because glory is the greatest, and you can either aspire to glory or fall by the wayside. You cannot simply not fight, not suffer, not die...Now is the time to suffer, the time to fight, the time to win. Kiss or kill.

Preparing to get caught in the storm on Mt. Antero with my late 11am start

Preparing to get caught in the storm on Mt. Antero with my late 11am start

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Rim River Rim River Rim *of Yosemite

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Rim River Rim River Rim *of Yosemite

Rim River Rim River Rim of Yosemite Valley. Not many people do this run or anyone that I know of but Libby and I are training for the Grand Canyon and it sounded like the perfect way to train. We rolled into the valley late Friday night and had a good night sleep in Foresta. A simple breakfast and we were headed on our way to Glacier Point the next morning. The drive isn’t short but we got to the point around 10 am. Excited for the adventure ahead we both pounded a gel and geared up. The plan was to run down the 4 mile trail, across the valley, up the Yosemite Falls trail, down the Yosemite Falls trail, across the valley, up the 4 mile trail. 

So we blasted off from the van. We made quick progress running down the 4 mile trail. When we made it down we had a quick bathroom break and jetted across to camp 4. In camp 4 we pounded another gel and prepared for the awfulness that was ahead of us. The dreaded Yosemite Falls trail. The best part was that we were hitting the Yosemite Falls trail in the heat of the day. Sweating are faces off we charged non stop up the Falls trail. The heat , the steepness, and the never ending terribleness of the Falls trail dragged on but we made it up in about 50 minutes. The initial down hill pounding we had experienced on the 4 mile trail was clearly taking a toll. We took a little break at the top of the falls to eat a burrito and hydrate back up. We then had to go back down knowing we would soon be charging back up the 4 mile. 

Down we went stopping once to say hi to some friends climbing on backer cracker and then again in camp 4 to refill water and eat a little more food. We made it across the valley and to the 4 mile trail and were feeling good. This lasted for a while but we both started to feel the bonk about 2 miles from the top. We stopped for a few seconds to enjoy the view of half dome and finish our burritos but then it was push for the end. After stopping for a few seconds it’s always hard to start moving again. Things begin to tighten and it takes several steps to get back into the rhythm. I think we did pretty well about keeping moving but towards the end it was obvious we were hurting. Finally at the van we could relax.

A moving time of 4:51 covering 17 miles and almost 7,000 feet of elevation gain which also means 7,000 feet of elevation loss. We stretched and pounded some food and water hoping we could evade any soreness. This proved to be hard to avoid. The next day we woke stiff and sore but mainly in our calfs. Being sore is an awesome feeling but rather funny when you try to step out of the van or stand up in the meadow.  Excited for the Grand Canyon adventure that is in store. More training reports to come!

https://www.strava.com/activities/424906123

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Running Mountains. Rose.

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Running Mountains. Rose.

Mt. Rose the beast of a peak right over the California border with views that will take your breath away and wind that will also take your breath away. This weekend Corbin, Lopi, and I enjoyed a 13 mile run up Mt. Houghton cross country to Mt. Rose with a mild 3,000 feet of vertical. I wrote up a topo on my blog showing the route. Looking forward to many more runs on the Tahoe rim Trail. The gently rolling trail makes for fast moving miles at altitude. Tahoe I love you. You are the closest I'll ever be to home.

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All The Running Shoes

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All The Running Shoes

A few weeks ago when I made an attempt on Nolan's 14 I tossed all my running shoes in a trash bag so if I needed an old pair I would have them all in one place. I picked up the bag and realized that I had a lot of old running shoes! Every time I need a new running shoe I go out and try something new. I figure after awhile I'll settle on the shoe or the brand I like the best but right now I'm still looking.
In an effort to not forget what I liked and didn't like. I've written up little personal reviews for all these shoes.


 

Trail Shoe:


La Sportiva - Wildcats
The wildcats were not my favorite shoe. Probably because I bought them in a size too small. They have a large heel to toe drop and a plastic piece on the bottom. I would not recommend them for any substantial amount of running. But made great approach shoes after the fact. My advice also with La Sportiva shoes is you can never go too big. My foot size is 7.5 but in every shoe I’ve owned of theres I would easily go 9.

Best memory: loosing my toenails in the Tetons
Retired As: Approach Shoes



Brook's - Pure Grit
The PureGrit are a phenomenal shoe! A nice cross over to a slightly minimalist shoe. I wouldn’t recommend these shoes for rocky technical terrain because the tread wears off quickly and the all around minimalist feel to them can cause foot bruising. But for running beautiful dirt trails for hours this is a perfect fit.

Best memory: 3rd Female finisher of the La Sportiva mountain 10k
Retired As: Backup Trail Running Shoes



Altra - Lone Pine
The Lone Pine is another great shoe. This shoe offers a large toe box and 0 drop for a real minimalist shoe with a little extra cushion. One of the lightest shoes I own and pretty much 100% mesh. This is it’s only fault, not a shoe to run on granite because the mesh will wear through very quickly. My advice when running with these shoes is to start short and build it up if you’re not use to a minimalist shoe. I always feel just a little bit more tired after running long distances in these shoes the first few times. Just takes a lot of miles to get everything strong again.

Best memory: run from my front door to the top of Mt. Tam
Current trail shoe

 

Road Shoe:


Brook's - ghost
The Ghosts are the first real running shoe I owned. I didn’t know anything about serious running at the time and had just grown my toenails back after loosing them in the Tetons to my old running shoes (the Wildcats). Mainly a road running shoe I spent many cold CO nights running the slick sidewalks. When I moved to California I continued the trend and also wore them for my 3 mile walk to work everyday. Lets just say they wore out really fast. It is true. Don’t walk in the same shoe you run in. Thats why I retire all my old running shoes to walking shoes. Brooks makes fantastic shoes though. If you have no plans to run ultras or you are just getting started into running. I can’t recommend Brooks enough!

Best memory: first run in SF
Retired As: First Shoe to cut up in emergency



Salomon - X-Wind Pro
The X-Wind Pro left a bad taste in my mouth for Salomon products. They claim to be a “city trail shoe” which to me means a road running shoe. I felt like they forced my foot into a weird position. And I only ended up running in them for a few months. However, I will say these are the most durable shoes I’ve ever owned. I walk to work 3 miles everyday in them and love them to death. The speed lacing makes them convenient to slip on and off and the sides are not made out of mesh which means after 500+ miles of walking and running they still have little to no signs of wear on the sides. When it comes to Salomon they know mountain running shoes probably the best in the industry but not really road shoes.

Best memory: the ledge trail Yosemite
Retired As: Walking Shoe because the are the most durable shoe I own



Hoka One One - Clifton's
The Cliftons are the shoe that changed road running for me. I hate cities and I hate running on the road. But lets face it sometimes you don’t have a choice but to run on the road. These shoes opened up a world of commuting for me. I could seemingly run forever on the roads and not feel the pain of the constant pounding of concrete and asphalt. Though I’ll never be a road runner I can’t imagine running in any other shoe when it comes to those days in the city.

Best memory: run commuting around the city
Current road shoe

 

Mountain Shoe:


Salomon - Speed Cross GTX
The SpeedCross GTX are some of the best mountains shoes I’ve run in. Salomon really disappointed me initially in there “road” shoe but made me believe again when I picked up a pair of there mountain shoes. These shoes keep your feet warm and dry but are also durable enough to not rip apart after hours of running on granite. The tread stuck well during technical running and didn’t wear down too fast. I have run in these shoes in the tall mountains of Colorado and California and hopefully soon Alaska too.

Best memory: Nolan's 14 attempt on a fractured foot
Retired As: Hiking shoes
 


Hoka One One - Speedgoats
The SpeedGoats are a new shoe for me and I haven’t really put them to the long days in the mountains test. The high profile makes me a little nervous of twisting an ankle but on my short technical runs around Yosemite it seems to be an irrational fear. What I have noticed is they actually have pretty good traction and control. More so than any of my trail shoes which is why I want to test them more on the spicy rocky runs. If they are anything like there road shoes I know I’ll be hooked. I will write more about them soon.

Best memory: running through the wet marsh around Bishop
Current mountain shoe


So in conclusion I’d currently recommend:
Road Shoe: Hoka One One
Trail Shoe: Altra
Mountain Shoe: Salomon
Just getting started running anything/ all around best in the show: Brooks

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A Guide to Planning Nolan's 14

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A Guide to Planning Nolan's 14

Nolan's 14 is a huge endeavor not only because of the intense and extreme running but also because of the months and months of planning and preparing that go into it. If you want to read my failed trip report go to the previous post Nolan's 14 the Adventure.

I spent months preparing for Nolan's 14 with pages and notes and emails. I hope this helps the next person, maybe a little, to feel more prepared before they start this process. Also because next year I don’t want to forget all the things I had to do this year.

I’m not going to go into detail about how to train for Nolan's 14. It is actually simple... run a lot, run a lot at altitude, run sections of the course, run at night, be prepared to suffer.

This post is more about the logistics of gear, food, crew, travel, navigation, pacing, and anything else I thought about.


Gear


I am a strong believer that gear doesn’t make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things. For example, I once won a bouldering comp in an old pair of evolvs with a blown out toe. However I will say that gear can greatly limit the amount of suffering and make your life much easier. Here is a list of things I’d recommend having on you with the brand of what I used.

Running Shoes: Salomon Speed Cross 3 GTX
Backpack: Black Diamond Blaze Pack (they no longer make this model)
Trekking Poles: Black Diamond Ultra Distance trekking Poles
Rain Pants: Patagonia Houdini Pants
Rain Jacket: Patagonia Houdini Jacket
Leggings: Lululemon Speed Tights
Wool Socks: SmartWool PhD Run Ultra Light Mini Sock   
Puffy Jacket:  Patagonia Nano Puff Hoody
Wool Shirt: Patagonia Merino Lightwieght T-shirt
Fleece Sweater: Patagonia R1
Gloves: Columbia Trail Summit
Sunglasses: Oakley Half Jacket Polarized
GPS device: Delorme InReach Explorer
Bladder: Osprey Hydraulics Lt Reservoir 1.5L
Water Bottle: Platypus SoftBottle 1L
Watch: Suunto Core
Gaiters: Salomon Trail Gaiters High Lab
Headlamp: Black Diamond ReVolt
Batteries: 3 AAA
Tape: Athletic Tape or Duct Tape

This is what I’d recommend you have for gear in your support van. Essentially bring whatever extra you have brand doesn’t matter because if you need to use them you’ll just be happy you have something.

Extra Running Shoes
Extra Rain Pants
Extra Rain Jacket
Extra Leggings
Extra Wool Socks
Extra Headlamp
Flashlight: Nathan Zephyr Fire 300


FOOD

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Fueling and hydrating is one of the most important things when it comes to long distance running. With Nolan's 14 it is super important to not screw this up. Especially at altitude when it can get hard to eat or drink enough. Here is what I’d recommend having on you for food.

4 Caffeinated ClifShot Energy Gels
6 Non Caffeinated ClifShot Energy Gels
2 ClifBars
2 Kind Bars
5 HappyBaby Baby food
2 Miniature Wheat Bagels
2 ClifBloks Gummies
2 Nuun Electrolyte in Platypus bottle
4 Saltstick Tablets

That isn’t very much food so it is important to refill at each aid station maybe carrying more or less food depending on the mileage or terrain or time of day (Maybe bring more caffeinated gels at night). So I recommend having a bunch of extra of the above items in your support van. I’d also recommend splitting out what you think you will need into separate drop bags labeled with the aid station you want them at so on go day you don’t have to think about it.

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Here is what I’d recommend having in your support van for food. But to be honest really any food would work. I told my crew to grab me a milk shake and fries every time they went through a town.

Peaches
Apples
Oatmeal
Peanut Butter
Nutella
Hummus
Tortillas
Bananas

Pedialyte
Slim Fast
Cookies
Donuts
Ginger Ale
Bagels
Mash Potatoes
Avocadoes
Pretzels
 


Crew

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The most important part of Nolan's 14 is having an awesome crew. It really amazes me when I hear people who have done Nolan's 14 in under 60 hrs with no crew. This is also the hardest part getting someone to commit 3 full days of their life to making sure you don’t die in the mountains. So it is important that you prepare them for what’s in store. In my case I only had one person to crew though ideally you might have two or three to help out.  First I debriefed my crew via email. Then I followed up in person providing maps and answering questions.  Here is a sample email of what I sent my crew a few weeks prior to my attempt:

Nolan's 14
Hey! I've been planning this run for a few months now and I want everyone to have all the information they need or would desire. Here is a link WEBSITE LINK to my GPS where you can catch my location at any point on the run.
First I will say my goal for this run is to complete it in under 60hrs. If at any point this goal seems unattainable my second goal is to just finish no matter how long it takes.
My motto is never give up, just keep moving, it's not that bad. Since you will be supporting me in this so don't let me give up!!
Okay now into the meat and logistics! Aka the fun stuff.
These are the times I need to be at these points on the course to achieve my sub 60hr finish assuming a 5am start on Wednesday August 19. Note I low balled these times most likely I will be there later rather than sooner.
-Mt Massive 8am
-Mt Elbert 11am
-La Plata Peak 5pm
-Mt Huron 9:15pm
-Mt Missouri 12:15am
-Mt Belford 1:30am
-Mt Oxford 2:30am
2 hour rest
-Mt Harvard 7am
-Mt Columbia 8:30am
-Mt Yale 11:30am
-Mt Princeton 6pm
-Mt Antero 10pm
-Mt Tabeguache 12am
-Mt Shavano 12:30am

I will be carrying on me
- 1.5 liters of water
- 16oz of nuun drink
- 10 gels
- extra batteries
- sat/gps phone
- a rain jacket
- rain pants
- gloves
- socks
- hat
- headlamp
- trekking poles
- 5 baby food
- 2 clif gummies
- 2 mini bagels
- salt tablets

In the van I will have 5 bags label for each aid stations they will all include:
-extra socks
-extra food
-change of clothing (if needed)
-extra batteries (if needed)
I'll also have food in the van to eat but if you're rolling through town grabbing some fries or a pizza would make me totally stoked. I'll leave cash with you.

Things to note
- I will want to give up. Don't let me. Even if I'm crying about falling or seeing an animal whatever it may be. Don't let me. This is very important because I will not be in a state of mind to make these decisions and will be upset looking back if I give up for some stupid reason.

Things you might hear me say and should ignore:
- I'm too tired
- My legs are fatigued
- Too much elevation
- Its too dark I'm scared
- I'll never make it
- The weathers too bad
- I'm not moving fast enough
- I haven't trained enough

GPS coordinates for aid stations and time
-aid1 9am (Lat 39.151030 Lon -106.455116) May not be needed
-aid2 2:30pm(Lat 39.071978 Lon -106.469364)
-aid3 6pm(Lat 38.985233 Lon -106.440611)
-aid4 2:30am(Lat 38.94379 Lon -106.342764) Hike
-aid4 am(Lat 38.871523 Lon -106.292038) Hike
-aid5 1pm(Lat 38.816305 Lon -106.332722) 
-aid6 7pm(Lat 38.711233 Lon -106.289806)

Along with these aid stations there are several places on the course you can hike too you can find them linked here http://mattmahoney.net/nolans14/maps/index.html. I think the easiest one would be to catch me on Missouri or Belford after the aid before Huron. And or park the van at the aid stations and start hiking the course backwards till you find me. Odds are you'll be moving faster than me at all points in time. Also I'd recommend after the last aid station in alpine driving to the trailhead for Shavano and meeting me on the summit of Tabeguache for the grand finale! Aka the short Traverse between the last two peaks.

When you see me on the course at an aid station make sure you do the following:
- fill all my water
- restock all my food
- get my stoke back up
- tell me any weather changes
- make me change my socks
- make me lube up any chaffing or tape hot spots
- make me change any wet clothing
- make me eat and drink

Okay last but not least. Things happen I get that and if for some reason I get to an aid station and you're not there it's no big deal. I'll just keep moving. The amount of food I'm carrying on me will be able to last me a long time and lots of water readily available even though untreated. No sweat. I'm prepared to roll with the punches.
Here is the timeline I'm thinking
August 17 - Fly into SF at noon drive to Truckee immediately. Pick you up and head straight for SLC.
August 18 - Drive into CO. Get Groceries. Prepare for Race. Climb at Rifle. Sleep at Fish Hatchery.
August 19 - Start at 5am.
August 20 - Pushing
August 21 - Finish at sometime.
August 22 - Climb in Rifle drive to SLC.
August 23 - Drive back to Truckee. Drive Back to Bay.
August 24 - Back to work.

I'll send you anything else if I forgot it.

Travel

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Nolan's 14 is no joke when it comes to elevation. If you have the time and flexibility to stay in CO for a month before making an attempt do it. Otherwise I’d recommend making your attempt on your second or third day in CO. Just enough time to get rested but not enough time to start the slow acclimation process.
As for traveling I always find it better to drive. That way I have my van and everything I could possibly need already sorted out, but I live in California. If driving isn’t an option flying and renting a 4wd vehicle is your best bet. The roads for crew can be a little rugged at times so I wouldn’t rally a rented Prius back into the depths of the mountains. The last thing you want is your crew not being able to get to you because of car issues.


Navigation

I wrote up a bunch of Topos and detailed information on my Run Topos part of the blog. They are broken down into 5 sections which are big feats themselves and great places to start out to get a taste of what Nolan's 14 will feel like. I used some of them as training runs and ways to gage pacing. You can find them linked here respectively:

Leadville Fish Hatchery to CO82
CO82 to Clear Creek Road
Clear Creek Road to CO Trail
CO Trail to Alpine
Alpine to Blank Cabin

As for navigation picking up an inReach Explore Delorme and pairing it with a smart phone is a life saver when it comes to navigating the mountains…Especially navigating the mountains at night.


Pacing

Pacing is important when you are trying to do it in under 60 hrs but honestly I think finishing Nolan's 14 even in 70 hrs is an accomplishment too. I first calculated pacing based on a 30 minute mile pace but often you are doing fast than this or slower than this at times. I then compared that to what pace other people had on successful Nolan's 14 attempts. Instead of taking this information from me though checkout all the amazing data parsing Tom Lauren did on his site www.tomlauren.com/notes/... A wealth of knowledge to be had on that page.


Questions to ask yourself

Should I find a partner or do it alone?
Like anything having a partner can be nice but can also have its draw backs. I went at it alone but that’s because it’s hard to find someone else that’s just as crazy to join me. I would recommend bringing a partner but making sure you train with them and both have the same goals. It’s always refreshing to have two brains when running such extreme distances. And since pacers are not allowed having a partner is your best bet.

Should I do it North to South or South to North?
When I made my attempt I was going South to North. However for all of the planning and really up until the day before I was going to go North to South. Honestly I don’t think it matters much but this is my thoughts. North to South seems a little bit easier. The first couple of mountains involve a lot of up and down between each of them from Massive to Huron you aren’t really linking any peaks on ridges, which can be nice while you are still fresh in the beginning. This allows you to finish on Tabeguache and Shavano were the ridge between the two is fast with little elevation change when you are the most tired. Going South to North has its benefits in terms of aid. In the beginning the aid is more spread out and you are linking mountains together before seeing you’re crew and at the end when you’re exhausted you get to see your crew between every mountain. In the end they are equally as difficult traversing the same terrain, it’s really up to you.

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Yale Ya'll!

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Yale Ya'll!

I had full intentions on getting an alpine start this morning. After struggling to find the trailhead and almost killing a dear I settled into what I thought was the trailhead for the night.  My alarm was set for 5:30 am and with the relatively short distance to the summit of Yale I knew I'd be more than fine getting up and down well before 1 pm when the weather was to role in. Instead I slept through my alarm and didn't get to the trailhead (which I wasn't sleeping at) until 8am. I wasn't worried because I knew I would still be back down in plenty of time.

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Lopi and I made quick progress on the assent and passed nearly everyone who was out hiking Yale today. We made it to the summit in a little over 2 and a half hours. We had the whole summit to ourselves so we enjoyed every minute of it. The sky looked threatening but I was sure it would hold off for a while. We blasted off the summit for a fast and quick descent. In no time we were below the treeline and I felt safer about a storm approaching. You could hear the thunder rumbling but no rain had started to fall.

Less than a mile from the van the sky opened up. This time it didn't drizzle before the down pour it just began full force. Hail and rain mixed together soaking and stinging my skin. I opened up my stride and ran as fast as I could by the time I reached a big tree I quickly pulled my rain jacket out through it on and made fast work towards the van. It didn't matter that I was only in the rain/hail for less than 10 minutes I was still soaked to the bone and the wet dog beside me was now asleep in my bed. I checked the clock showing only 11. I was thankful I had been so close to the van but bummed the weather rolled in so early. The storm continued to rage for another few hours as Lopi and I hid in the van. Tomorrow we have big plans to do multiple peaks... Hopefully the weather is a little better tomorrow. Fingers crossed!

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