Bucket Lists & An Added Year

Last Tuesday, October 9th, I turned 33. The occasion was not celebrated much as I was in the midst of a long business trip throughout the Southeast. My family and friends were all super-kind though and reached out in various and meaningful ways, which I appreciate greatly.

As I get older, I’ve found that certain years (unexpectedly) have more of an impact on me than others. For example, 25 was no sweat, but 28 bummed me out. 30 was not hard in the least, however, 33 has been slightly challenging. This birthday has been hard because years and years ago I saw a drawing of Jesus and the caption said “I am 33”. At the time I was in a bit of a spiritual turmoil and had really let go of any developed beliefs. When I saw the drawing, I was captured by it’s features and the simple caption made me think for a while. 33 seemed far off, yet so young to have created an impact that his life did.

Whether you, or  I, or anyone thinks Jesus Christ was a factual or fictional character matters not to my point, which is that the story of Jesus has changed the world more than just about any other story ever has. And his story ends at the age of 33.

I turned 31 while I was living in Nashville. My life was up in the air in numerous ways, and there was no true direction or purpose to my lifestyle. Something was missing, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. While visiting the mountains of North Georgia, I decided to make a bucket list of 10 obtainable goals to accomplish by the time I was 35. The goals were split in to two categories, athletic and personal. Athletics have always been important to me, so those goals were selfish missions I’d hope to complete. The personal, however, were goals that I felt would not only benefit me but also others.

As I reviewed those goals on my 33rd birthday, I felt a sense of happiness that six of those goals have been completed. While I’d prefer to keep the personal goals, well personal, I’ll share the athletic goals.

Athletic Goals:
1. Break 11 Hours in an Ironman (Beach to Battleship 2011 – 9:56, IM Wisconsin 2012 – 10:50)
2. Run and Ultra Marathon (Stump Jump 50k 2012)
3. Through Hike/Run/Bike a trail of 200 miles or longer
4. Compete in a 100 mile mountain bike race (Bailey HUNDO 2010)
5. Visit Everest Base Camp

These goals are challenging, but not so lofty that they are unattainable. I understood this when I made the list and they were simply set up to be beacons in a life that we truly can’t control anyways. I’ve found the use of bucket list items and the power of writing goals out have been helpful to the mental aspect of growth. The personal goals I’ve created have served the same purpose as the athletic goals, but in a different realm and I am thankful that I have both components in place.

While my life is certainly not “solved”, I feel more confident that I am not only moving in a direction that could be called “forward” but that I am also trying to listen to those components that shape and change who were are. I appreciate all those who have been supportive of me as I know I am not easy to love at times.

Thanks for reading, the happy birthday wishes, and everything else.



Stump Jump 50k

On a whim, Whit and I decided to sign up for the Stump Jump 50k trial run late this summer. My Father and Step-Mother were doing this race and we had committed to going down for it, but it wasn’t until after the race had filled up that we decided we truly did want to race it. I called up an old teammate, Tim Hayse, located in Chattanooga (where the race was held) and he called in a favor from a friend who got us in. Thanks a ton guys!

So it was one month and only three short runs after Ironman Wisconsin that I found myself en-route to Chattanooga to have a go at my first ultra marathon. We got to Chattanooga on Friday afternoon where we had a great dinner with friends Jeff and Lori Davis as well as Sam and Jessica Miller. We were staying with Sam and Jess who have become great friends so it was nice for all of us to catch up together before the big day.

We awoke race morning to over-cast skies and then rain as we climbed our way up to Signal Mountain and the start of the race. It rained the entire morning as we sat in our cars waiting for the start. The wet conditions on a course that is described as technical with a “good dose of Tennessee stone” made for a last minute shoe change to my bulkier Salomon XA Pros. (good call).

The gun went off and Whit and I positioned ourselves in the middle of the 600 or so people running the 50k. It soon became apparent, that we’d need to move ourselves up if we didn’t want to get stuck behind runners when the trail went to singlestrack. Whit and I got separated by mile 4, but I made a surge and caught her again and we ran together until about mile 7, at which point I encouraged her to go ahead.

As Whit took off, I increased my pace and ended up catching two guys from Nashville who are friends of friends that I have in Buolder. The three of us ran toegther from miles 8-19 where I stopped to change socks and they pushed on. It was great to have company for that period of time and they were nice guys.

The race was great and novel to me as I am used to the hassle of swim-bike-run. Trail running is simple, run. I didn’t really feel the fatigue of the race until mile 24 or so, and that was when my feet became pretty sensitive and my stride shortened. I slowed but plugged along, taking breaks to walk the STEEP uphills when unnecessary.

I rounded a bend in the trail and could hear the announcers, but it was a false call as the finish was still nearly 4 miles away. The last few miles were the hardest though the terrain wasn’t bad. I’d been carefully looking at my watch because I wanted to break six hours. And with a half a mile to go I has 5 minutes… enough to make it but I couldn’t relax.


Hit the finish line at 5:58 completely happy with the race and the entire experience. Whit was there and I found out that she’d run down all but one of the women to finish second, awesome performance. We stuck around and chatted with friends until Dad and Mary Ann finished, and they both looked great!

Could be talked in to this again some day, and probably will.

Vineman: A Good Picture

So Vineman was not my best effort. I was pretty bummed about how all the hard work mattered little in the end. That being said, as I came in to the finishing chute I was pretty out of it. I remember several people passing me in the last 20 feet. I also remember looking over and seeing Whit. Since my race had gone to the pits I decided I should thank her for being out there. I went over and gave her a kiss. The photo crew caught this picture.

This is what it is all about. After a long hard spell of training, and a long hard day of racing… it is nice to still have what really matters to you when the wheels come off everything else.

Steamboat: A Weekend Away

Whit and I needed a break from Boulder and the weekly routine of long rides and runs. So Friday afternoon we headed west on I-70 towards Yampa, CO where we had reserved a rustic cabin for the weekend.

Friday night, after checking in, we went to the Antlers Bar Cafe & Bar and hung out with the locals for a bit before heading to bed. It was a cool night and we awoke to a slight rain. We started the bike ride in the drizzle and within minutes it was raining harder. We debated but decided to head forward. It was a great decision because withing half an hour the rain had cleared and we had a beautiful day of riding ahead of us.

We cruised around and then in to Steamboat Springs where we stopped for baked goods. We then headed southeast, around Stagecoach Lake and back to Yampa. What a great change of pace, and a much needed ride.

Saturday night we went in to town for dinner, beer, and to catch The Campaign. Being in a new place is so much fun, and it was good for us both to shake it up a bit.

Sunday morning we awoke, packed up and headed to Fish Creek Falls that is located about 5 miles outside of Steamboat. We were unfamiliar with the trail and thought it would be rolling. WRONG. The trail was awesome but it was straight up and then straight down. We ended up running for about two hours but only managed 11 miles. Afterwards we sat in the creek icing down the burn.

Due to traffic concerns we took the long way home. It was a good call because we were treated to an incredible drive through the High Rockies and Rocky Mountain National Park.

I created a little video with some random shots of Whit training. Check it out.

Vineman: Lessons Learned

Last week was my first “A” race of the year, Vineman Iron Distance race in California. I had been looking forward to this race since Beach 2 Battleship last year and was anxious to see what last year’s heavy training did to bolster my fitness.

Whit and I flew in to Sacramento on Thursday morning and made our way to Santa Rosa by 1pm, at which point we met both our parents for lunch. It’s comfortaing to have loved ones at races and/or calling to check in on your mindset leading in to a big race. I am lucky enough to not only have parents who care, but step parents who care, a brother and his family who care, and even a Grandmother who cares! This selfish sport would be a lot less fun without all of them.

After lunch, putting our bikes together, and general race planning, we headed out to our B&B that was located in Guernville, CA, about 3 miles from the swim start and a couple hundred yards from Korbel’s vineyard.

Friday warmed up a little but the high was still in the 70’s! We spent the morning doing our pre-race work outs then headed in to Windsor for packet pick-up and a race briefing. The crew with Vineman is incredibly organized and the whole registration process was seamless. When finished with preparing, we headed back to our place and I relaxed and prepared my mind for the next day.

Race morning was glorious. It was cool and a mist was rising above the river, where we would swim two out and back loops for our 2.4 mile swim. the gun went off with out much glamour and we headed up river. There were places in the river where I could stand up and walk and the water came up to my knees. It was a strange sensation, but I took advantage of the situation and gave my arms a bit of rest. I checked my times at each turn around and realized that I was on track for my normal 1:15 swim, but I had hoped to be quicker. After the race I found out the swim was maybe 150 meters long, so I wasn’t too disappointed with my 1:14.

I started the bike in about 30th position in my age group but quickly made it up to the front of the race. There were several groups I played “tag” with and finished the first 56 miles in 2:31. Perfect. It started warming up however and I realized the run was going to be blazing.

The bike course at Vineman is beautiful. I loved it. There are rolling hills, flat sections, twists and turns, shade and sun. I was pretty happy with my first loop and decided to scale it back just a hair for the second lap and preserve my legs for the run. All was going well until mile 100 when I saw a guy about 100 yards up the road lock up his brakes. As I rounded the corner I saw several emergency vehicles blocking the road. When I arrived (second one to arrive) I was told that someone had crashed and fallen off the bridge, and that they were going to have to be life-flighted out.

We waited for a few minutes before the helicopter arrived. The emergency crew were great, and very professional. All in all, I was stopped for a little over 15 minutes. By the time we were allowed to go again, there were nearly 50 people who had caught me. Once we were allowed to go, we cruised up and over the big climb of the day and then down in to T2 to start the marathon

The run course is a 3 loop affair that is pretty hilly and provides little shade. The first two loops were going great. I was averaging just under 8 minute pace, and felt fairly good. (Video of me at mile 16) The start of the third loop, however, I started feeling rough. The temp was now in to the 90’s and the sun was relentless. My head felt dazed and I started throwing up fluids.

I made it to about mile 18 and I knew I was in trouble. The ice and fluids were not doing me any good. I had cotton mouth but my stomach just wasn’t accepting fluids. At one point, I remember sitting on a guard rail wondering which direction I should go. Though my race was essentially over, I decided not to quit. Might as well finish what I started, even if it wasn’t ideal.

The walk to the finish line was slow and a little scary. I felt dazed and confused. I crossed the line with a clock time of 11:33, but my race time excluding the stop was more around 11:18. I was immediately taken to the medic tent where I realized I’d lost 10.5 pounds and had a blood pressure of 70/50. I stayed there for maybe an hour while they cooled me off and, when my stomach settled, I rank a few gallons of chicken noodle soup.

All in all, I am grateful to have had Whitney, my Father, Mary Ann, and Whit’s family there to take care of me. they were of incredible help, and I felt I owed it to them to at least laugh about the bad race and have some fun with them.

But I am ready for revenge. Next up, Ironman WI!

Denver Triathlon Race Report

I had initially signed up to race the Olympic distance for the Denver Triathlon, but that was before I found out that I would be riding Ride The Rockies for three straight days after the race. So at packet pick up on Saturday, I sheepishly went to the timer’s table and switched to the sprint race.

Sprint distance is not my strength, and I’ve only raced one in the last three years. Nevertheless, I was a little excited about seeing what kind of speed I could muster in the midst of Ironman training.

Our wave took off at Sloan’s Lake in Denver at 7:40am under near perfect weather conditions. As usual, I started too fast and my arms were throbbing after about 300 meters. Oh well, if you are going to go too hard, might as well be in a sprint. I hit the turn around, headed home, and exited the water around 10:30.

After a slow transition, I got on the bike and decided to put it in cruise control to gather myself.  But just about a minute in to the bike I was passed by my friend James Sharpe, owner of TriBella multi-sport shop. He said hello and got me going. James is a strong rider, but I’m typically about as strong so I knew I couldn’t let him go.

I trailed behind James for a quarter of a mile then passed him and decided to give it a little juice. Though I was tired from the previous day’s training and little sleep the night before, I was pleased with the way my legs responded. There were no land speed records set, but I was able to keep a good pace for the rest of the ride which was a two loop affair that weaved in and out of neighborhoods and the Denver Broncos stadium. I came off the bike and hit T2 with a 23.2 mph average according to my Garmin Edge 500.

In less than a mile of the run I caught three guys and one of them went with me. He was in the age group below me, so I told him if he helped set the pace I wouldn’t contest him at the end. I’ve found that working with someone on the run is very helpful for me and my racing mindset.  We kept a steady but a good pace out to the turn around and started back in.

With a half mile to go my partner looked back and said we were clear to the finish. We backed it down a notch, shook hands and cruised on in. I crossed the line with an 18:40 something 5K and a 1:13 and some change finish time for the race. It was good enough for 6th overall and first in my AG.

After the race, I was greeted by Whit and we hung around the race for a while. It was a great environment and plenty of folks were happily cheering on their loved ones. We then headed to the house where I showered then hopped in the rental car for Grand Junction and Ride The Rockies.