Monday, October 25, 2010

That beautiful rhythm

I just completed my third consecutive 70+ mile week and am now in a nice baseline training rhythm. This is just where I want to be this time of year--putting in half-way decent mileage, enjoying the beautiful fall scenery and getting in some nice quality.

Unfortunately, the plantar fasciitis in my left foot still hasn't cleared up. My foot is definitely better than it was before the Leadville 100, but it is not yet 100%. Some days are better than others and I'm still having to use KT Tape, ibuprofen before bed and ice therapy. New in-soles for my work shoes have really made a difference. I do believe that my foot is healing, albeit slowly, and that I'll be in good shape in a few months. I think I had a pretty wicked case of PF and it's just going to take time and patience to clear up. It's a miracle I got through Leadville with this foot.

I had some very good quality this week. On Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I ran my usual dirt road loop with plenty of hills at about 7:40 pace. On Wednesday morning I did a tempo run on  the Parker roads, averaging about 6:25 pace. On Saturday morning I did 16 easy miles. Then on Sunday morning I laced up my lightweight trainers and basically flew out the door. My goal was to get from my front door to the end of East Parker Road--6 hilly miles away--in less than 42 minutes. That may not sound too fast--and on the surface it isn't especially when I can do my mile repeats in 5:30--but those 6 miles involved about 1,000 feet of climb from 5,900 feet to over 6,400 feet (ascents and descents in between). I made it in 41:47, including a 7:30 first mile. I then ran back home with semi-trashed legs and added on a little for a total of 15.7 miles.

For a guy who used to go out for tempo runs and average 6:10-6:20 per mile at sea level, running fast at 6,000+ feet is a whole different ballgame. I want to do some tempo runs on flat roads to see if I can get back to 6:10-6:20 pace. I'll do that this week.

After Sunday's run I had major GI issues, which I originally attributed to such a hard effort at altitude combined with mild dehydration (Parker turned off all of its water fountains and I wasn't carrying a bottle), but actually I think it was a stomach bug making the rounds in the Hornsby house.

So, all in all, I like where things are. I should end the year--yet again--with a little over 3,900 miles. This will be the third consecutive year of finishing with 3,900+ miles, averaging about 75 miles per week. One of these years I'll finally surpass 4,000. There is a small chance I may try to go past 4,000 this year but what's the point...really?


Recovery. It's a very under-rated and misunderstood thing that I keep thinking about. I think my 6 weeks of recovery from the Leadville 100--6 tough weeks, I would add--were as much about recovering from training for the event than from the race itself. My endocrine system was pretty shot. Therein lies the problem. Recovery should be from the event, not from the training. With this personal revelation in mind, I have begun to cobble together a 2011 training program. My goal is to be done with my peak mileage (100-115/week) by the end of June, and then cut my mileage by 15-20% in July while doing some races, and then really tapering in August. This is going to take discipline, but I think cranking away at peak mileage three weeks before Leadville is a mistake unless you're name is Tony Krupicka.


Let me tell's been tough making changes to my diet since I discovered the ills of high-fructose corn syrup and other food chemicals. I'm still learning. HFCS and other types of super-sweet corn byproducts are in so many processed foods! Did you know HFCS is in Worcestershire sauce, teriyaki sauce, many yogurts, reduced-fat peanut butter, jellies, and basically every BBQ sauce on the grocery store shelf? Almost every non-organic breakfast cereal--including Total cereal--has corn syrup. It's everywhere!

At the office, we have an endless supply of mini candy bars of all kinds. For a while there, I was out of control, eating 4 or 5 a day and rationalizing it on the grounds  that I'd run 10 miles that morning. I'd go home at night feeling pretty yucky and not at all hungry. Since eliminating those candy bars from my diet, I've felt much better and I go home with an appetite. The candy bars are still very tempting, but I've managed to resist. There is no doubt in my mind that sugar is physically and mentally addictive just as cigarettes, alcohol and many drugs are.

I'm also really enjoying salads with just olive oil and balsamic vinegar (no croutons!). I think at the end of the day it's pretty hard to beat a salad with oil and vinegar. Society wants us to drown our leafy greens in creamy, fat- and sugar-filled dressings but in reality we don't need to. Society also wants us to believe that unless it's deep-friend, covered in cheese or gravy, or layered with fat, it's not good. Not true!

Needless to say, this new approach to diet has been eye-opening and actually an amazingly wonderful experience. We don't realize that everything we eat is sweet--until we start focusing more on eating natural foods. It's no wonder obesity is at epidemic levels in the US today. And tragically obesity is often traced to income. Because quality costs more, the less you make, the more likely it is that you'll be obese and a regular customer of McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, etc.

What does this all come down to? It's simple: When you're at the neighborhood grocery store and you select and buy a particular product--a box of cereal, a pound of ground beef or maybe a jar of ketchup--what you're essentially doing is entrusting your immediate and long-term health and the health of your family to the company that made that product. You are placing your well-being--life--in the hands of the foodmaker. Pretty scary when you think about the thousands of people in recent years who also trusted foodmakers and became ill and even died as a result of contamination, to say nothing of the millions who have died as a result of heart disease, cancer and stroke. Didn't this happen a few decades ago with Big Tobacco?


You can watch "Food, Inc." via the video below and the menu to the right side of your screen on YouTube. Highly recommended. The family featured toward the end of part 5 breaks my heart. I think I've found my life's work....

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Lies from Big Food and more evidence that high fructose corn syrup is a killer

A few nights ago I saw a commercial aired by the Corn Refiners Association, a group of liars who are trying to rescue high fructose corn syrup's image in an attempt to reverse collapsing sales of their cash-cow chemical found in everything from Miracle Whip, Heinz ketchup and soda pop to cereals, Nutrigrain bars and salad dressing.

In the ad, which is linked here but unfortunately I can't imbed it because it's locked in YouTube, a "dad" is walking along a corn field with a little girl and they're both holding hands. Aw, how sweet. After saying that he consulted both medical and nutrition experts on the health and safety of high fructose corn syrup, the "dad" concludes in rather simple, aw-shucks language that whether you eat corn sugar or cane sugar, your body can't tell the difference. "Sugar is sugar," he says.


As quoted in Science Daily in March 9, 2009, Gerald Shulman, MD, PhD, at Yale University, had this to say about the difference between high fructose corn syrup and regular table sugar in reference to a study in which he was involved:

"There has been a remarkable increase in consumption of high-fructose corn syrup. Fructose is much more readily metabolized to fat in the liver than glucose is and in the process can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease."
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease ultimately manifests itself into hepatic insulin resistance and type II diabetes. Type II diabetes, which usually accompanies obesity, is a huge risk factor for heart attack (#1 killer of Americans today), stroke and other killers of millions of Americans every year. Also, obesity is linked to cancer (it has already been proven that cancer feeds on sugar and many cancer patients are advised to curtail sugar consumption) and is a major contributor to joint pain, arthritis, back pain and other debilitating conditions.

The Science Daily article continues:
High-fructose corn syrup, which is a mixture of the simple sugars fructose and glucose, came into use in the 1970s and by 2005 the average American was consuming about 60 pounds of it per year. Overall, dietary intake of fructose, which is also a component of table sugar, has increased by an estimated 20 to 40 percent in the last thirty years.
It just so happens that "the last thirty years" have directly corresponded with skyrocketing obesity. If you're my age (37), think about it: Were there really this many obese and overweight people when we were kids? Something has happened to people's waist lines...and it's high fructose corn syrup! And it's killing us!

You can read about the esteemed Dr. Shulman here. And it's worth noting that the following other medical professionals were involved in the study:
The researchers include Yoshio Nagai, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT , Howard Hughes Medical InstituteShin Yonemitsu, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT , Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Derek M. Erion, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Takanori Iwasaki, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Romana Stark, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Dirk Weismann, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT Jianying Dong, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Dongyan Zhang, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT , Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Michael J. Jurczak, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Michael G. Loffler, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; James Cresswell, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Xing Xian Yu, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA; Susan F. Murray, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA; Sanjay Bhanot, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA; Brett P. Monia, ISIS Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA; Jonathan S. Bogan, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT; Varman Samuel, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT and Gerald I. Shulman, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT , Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
I wonder what the Corn Refiners Association would have to say about that?

But that's not even the most damning evidence against HFCS. Earlier this year, a Princeton University research team reported on a study showing that rats ingesting high fructose corn syrup gained far more weight--and became obese--than rats that ingested just table sugar, even though the caloric intake with both test groups was the same. The rats that had consumed the HFCS put on large amounts of fat, especially in the abdomen, and saw an increase in triglycerides in the blood. Here's what Princeton's very own Bart Hoebel, PhD, an expert in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction, had to say about the study:
"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests. When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese--every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."
You can read about Dr. Hoebel by clicking here.

Miriam Bocarsly, a Princeton graduate student who was involved in the study, said:
"These rats aren't just getting fat; they're demonstrating characteristics of obesity, including substantial increases in abdominal fat and circulating triglycerides. In humans, these same characteristics are known risk factors for high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, cancer and diabetes."
"Our findings lend support to the theory that the excessive consumption of high-fructose corn syrup found in many beverages may be an important factor in the obesity epidemic," said Nicole Avrena, a research associate also involved in the study.

If you want even more evidence of the dangers of high fructose corn syrup, a simple Google search will provide all of that and more.

So really what you have from the Corn Refiners Association and other lobbyist groups are lies, lies and lies. The CRA's ads directly contradict science and are intended to confuse and muddy the debate. But fortunately consumers are the strongest voice in this matter and are already onto Big Food's profiteering shananigans which, like cigarettes, have killed millions of people. Fearful of bad PR, many food makers are now moving away from HFCS (e.g., Heintz ketchup now has "Simply Heinz," which doesn't have HFCS), and this has prompted the Corn Refiners Association's campaign of lies.

When you get right down to it, the soft drink industry is the Corn Refiners Association's last, best hope. Without Coca Cola and Pepsi, the CRA is nothing. Next time you or I drink a Coke or Pepsi let's keep that in mind, OK?

As the downfall of HFCS continues, may Americans and people around the world consuming a Western diet feel better, live longer and enjoy greater quality of life.

The truth will prevail.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I will NOT let Big Food kill me or my family

First, a training update. Since the Rock 'n Roll Denver Marathon (held yesterday) closed out, I don't really think I'll be racing again this year. I would love to do the near-sea level Las Vegas or Sacramento marathons, but unfortunately we have next to no vacation time since we just started our jobs in April, and I hate the thought of flying back to Denver the same day that I race 26.2 miles. So for now, I'm done in 2010.

In 2011, I'll have much more vacation time and greater flexibility!

Physically and mentally, I'm feeling pretty good and have completed my second consecutive week of 70+ miles. My left heel still isn't great, but the plantar fasciitis is much better. It's healing very slowly. The good news is that my legs are pretty much back to normal, and my endocrine system, which was pretty depleted after Leadville, is roaring (as evidenced by better sleep, a better attitude, a better appetite, etc.). I've learned more about my body and running in general in the last 6 months than I have in the 7 years I've been covering serious distances. The altitude has been a huge adjustment. I hate to say it, but running at altitude is WAY harder than running at sea level. It's not the hills or mountains that get you; it's the thin air combined with those long ascents! I think the hardest stages are now behind me.

On Saturday morning, I did a hard 14.5 miler between 5,900-6,500 feet in Parker with tons of hills. It brought just shy of 4,000 feet of combined climb and descent. Then I did 4 more miles that night and then 16.2 miles the next day, finishing the week with 70.

This time of year through the holidays and winter, my goal is 70 miles per week, which I view as sort of my baseline mileage. For me, 70 miles per week is perfect for great quality and also getting healthy, strong and efficient going into the build-up and peak mileage, which will begin next March. Throughout the winter my quality will consist of intervals and tempo running with a possible marathon in April or May. We'll be in our new house in November and I can't wait to have my beloved treadmill back! As an added bonus, our neighborhood has a very nice workout facility with fast treadmills, stationary bikes, weights, etc. My treadmill maxes out at just 6:00 miles, and so I'll be heading to the club for my intervals.

My 2011 racing schedule might consist of:

March: Local 1/2 marathon if I can find one.
April: Marathon--not sure which one
May: Greenland Trail 50K; maybe the Jemez 50 miler in Las Alamos, NM--one of the harder 50-milers in the nation
June: If not Jemez, maybe the San Juan Solstice 50, another brutal 50-miler in Colorado's San Juan Mountain Range
July: Leadville Marathon and Barr Trail Mountain Race
August: Leadville 100
December: Las Vegas or Sacramento Marathon

Except for the Leadville Marathon and Leadville 100, the schedule is totally fluid as of now.


Over the past few weeks, I've attended two lectures by physicians through my work at the Colorado Neurological Institute. One regarded risk factors for cancer, and the other focused on stroke. In both, as in many other lectures I've attended, there was a theme:
People with diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure), cardiovascular disease, obesity, etc. are at much greater risk or heart attack, stroke, cancer, arthritis/joint paint and other conditions than those who live a healthy life.
Part of me wonders if the medical community is really leveling with us. It seems the medical community is so busy treating symptoms, conditions, etc., that it hasn't really done what it should to promote prevention and serve as a public watchdog.

Healthy living doesn't make you immune. Marathon runners still drop dead from heart attack and suffer strokes. They get cancer, too. But living healthy dramatically reduces your risk.

At the center of the unfolding health crisis, which is going to cause costs to go up even further, is obesity. As I was saying to Anne a few days ago, there just weren't that many obese and overweight kids and adults when we were kids. Today, obesity is an epidemic. Look at the quality of our food and I think we'll find a correlation between what we're eating and how fat we are. I suspect high-fructose corn syrup, a super-sweet chemical, is a major culprit. HFCS is a cheap "alternative" to sugar and is in nearly everything--from mayonnaise, salad dressing, baked goods (including bread) and juices to ketchup, pop, cereals and granola bars--and has proliferated as foodmakers have sacrificed quality in the name of costs. Sugar is a huge contributor to fat production, and cancer feeds off sugar. We have since eliminated HFCS in our diet and this has meant paying more for higher-quality products. Check out the following video about the dangers of HFCS:

Quite disturbingly, many (but not all) foodmakers are now eliminating HFCS in their products, or offering alternatives. Why is that disturbing? It suggests that foodmakers such as Heinz, Kraft, etc., knew about the dangers of HFCS and are only now curbing its use because they've been exposed! They don't care about our health; they care only about profits! And McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King, Subway, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, even my beloved Papa Johns, etc.? Garbage! Those burritos at Chipotle and Qdoba (Qdoba is an occasional treat for me)? A thousand-plus calories each! The same goes for so-called "upscale" restaurants like Chili's, Applebee's, etc. Folks, what's going on with food today is the same as what went on all those years with Big Tobacco--denying that cigarettes caused cancer and then finally fessing up after they were called to the carpet...and after thousands had died of lung cancer.

Even more disturbing, the corn lobby, which is just as sinister as Big Tobacco in its PR efforts, is trying to get HFCS changed to "corn sugar," as if a name change will make HFCS safer.

But the most disturbing trend I see is a new type of campaign in which foodmakers brag about using "natural sugar" in their products (versus HFCS), as if natural sugar is good for you. I recently saw this tactic in a Sierra Mist commercial, but, make no mistake about, it's horrible for you.

Starting in 2002, I worked my ass off to lose 53 lbs. and I'm not going to let Big Food undermine my efforts. I'll pay more to stay healthy. I really feel badly for families who don't have much and for whom paying more for quality would present hardship. But should healthy food really be a hardship?
Should one or two organic apples cost about the same as a Big Mac value meal?
HFCS isn't the only enemy.
  • Cows are fed corn when they should be eating grass, and they are also pumped with antibiotics and other chemicals.
  • Chickens are confined to small cages and fed low-quality feed.
  • Milk and dairy products, which are loaded with hormones, are blamed by many for causing kids to prematurely hit puberty.
  • Non-organic fruits and vegetables are laced with pesticides.
  • Sodium is a huge problem in processed and canned foods as well as lunch meats.
The list goes on.

The documentary Food, Inc. is one of many exposes on the food industry. Yes, many people today are hungry for a change.

Are you?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Pikes Peak summit

I had a major breakthrough this morning in my running (and new mindset). No, I didn't break 5 minutes in the mile. No, I didn't have the greatest tempo run ever. So what happened this morning? In the wake of my Pikes Peak round-tripper on Saturday, I took the morning off! I woke up at 4:55 intending to run but felt very, very sore. My calves and shins were on fire. My quads felt like they'd been beaten with a hammer. Rather than make myself suffer through 8, 9 or 10 miles, I got back in bed and went to sleep. Yes, I've learned a valuable lesson in the months after the Leadville 100. At 37 years of age and with more than a few decent years left, I've learned to listen to my body. I ain't 25 anymore. So, tonight I'll stretch, do some core strengthening and maybe cross-train a bit. Running will happen tomorrow.


On Saturday Henry Hendrickson and I headed down to Manitou Springs to summit 14,115-foot Pikes Peak and then run back down--a roundtrip of 25+ miles on America's greatest mountain. Pikes Peak is an incredible sight--since moving to Colorado I haven't seen a mountain quite like it. You climb 7,300 vertical feet on the famous Barr Trail. Henry was one of my pacers at the Leadville Trail 100. He took me from Winfield, the halfway point, over Hope Pass and then down to Twin Lakes. He's a great guy and his passion is with triathlons.

Henry and me at the Leadville 100 leaving the 50-mile Winfield aid station. He's into minimalist shoes and is wearing some Vibrams. We talked a lot about minimalism as I was (and still am) very interested in the concept.

Here's thee sign that greets you before you enter the Barr Trail up to Pikes Peak. Fairly sobering, yes?

Henry enjoying a huge banana.

A nice view of the peak.
Henry powering up the mountain. Check out the views behind him.

Another nice view of the peak just below treeline.

Here's a photo above treeline, which is about 12,000 feet. Above treeline it's just basically rocky and brown everywhere with very delicate tundra. It kind of feels like a different planet.

Nice drop off, eh?

Here's a photo of the Cirque, which as you can see from the sign is 1,500 feet deep. A cirque is basically a huge basin in a mountain. The Pikes Peak cirque is at about 13,500 feet.

A really cool rock formation.
Henry and me stopping for a photo at about 13,000 feet. The temperature here was in the low 30s, but fortunately there was next to no wind--a huge plus when you're on a 14'er. Note the tundra in the foreground.
What's a Pikes Peak photo album without a shot of the Sixteen Golden Stairs sign? The sign refers to the 16 switchback pairs you have to negotiate before reaching the summit, and along the way there are several rock steps. The 16 Golden Stairs are among the final challenges you face before the summit.

Here's the money shot--Henry and me at the top posing at the famous summit sign. The sign says Pikes is 14,110 feet but it was recently remeasured to 14,115 feet. A lot of people might disagree with me, but I think the actual act of summiting Pikes Peak happens really fast and abruptly. One second you're trucking along up the trail and then the next second you hear the deafening horn of the Cog railroad up top. It all happens so fast, adding to the excitement. Henry and I had lunch in the summit house. I had some amazingly delicious beef stew along, coffee, Fritos and a few of the famous donuts--and the donuts definitely lived up to the hype. It was great fuel for the run back down.

Some cars parking at the summit.

From the summit.

Some folks getting off the Cog railroad up at the summit. The last time I summited Pikes I had to take the railroad down due to the deep snow past 12,000 feet (and sheer exhaustion), but on Saturday Henry and I ran down the mountain.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Lately there have been a number of heart-breaking news reports about kids resorting to suicide after years of being bullied. Just today I read about a 13-year-old girl in Ruskin, Fla. who took her own life after she'd been bullied in the worst sort of ways. I nearly shed tears reading the story. Life would've gotten better for her. She just had to endure, but mostly she just needed some help.

I don't pretend to really understand what many of these kids who've taken their own life have gone through, because I've never been to the brink and then over the edge like they have. But I do understand what it's like being bullied. Running is relevant here, so please bear with me.

This is not an easy subject for me to discuss--being bullied as a kid. Growing up, I was (and still am) full of energy and couldn't sit still for long periods of time. I took very little interest in math, science, etc., and really only cared about art class, industrial arts and gym. Art allowed me to be creative (very few people know that I'm an artist). Shop allowed me to build something. Gym allowed me to be active. The label that was afixed to me was ADHD--attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. I was often out of control, causing interruptions. I saw a therapist and neurologist and was on medication to try to calm me down. Understand that back then--this was the early to mid 80s--ADHD was only beginning to be understood.

I was so full of energy and yet school offered so few outlets for it. My parents did all they could. Not even cross country got all of the energy out (though it did help). In school, I had the intelligence to do the work, but I lacked interest because what I really wanted was to be active. Traditional schooling wasn't working. I needed an educational environment in which I could engage in hands-on learning, live adventure and spend lots of time outdoors. While many kids were learning about photosynthesis in class, I needed to be learning about it outdoors with the sun shining on God's creation. My energy needed to be embraced not as a negative, but as a positive. I was a square peg in a vast system of round holes. And I know many other kids were (and still are) their own kind of square peg--and it's often these kids who find themselves being bullied.

I believe some kids have a sixth sense. This sixth sense is the ability to detect and exploit insecurity. This is the MO of the bully. But, ironically, the greatest insecurity is not in the bullied, but rather in the bully himself. Ganging up on others enables the bully to cover up his or her own insecurity. Bullies are not well-adjusted, stable kids; if they were, they wouldn't bully. Insecurity in the bully manifests itself as aggressive behavior. Insecurity in the bullied manifests itself as exploitable weakness and vulnerability. The bully is the hunter; the bullied is the hunted. Those who are not bullies often side with the bully out of fear. And thus you have an environment where the bullied finds himself or herself being ganged up on. It is the truly courageous child who defends the bullied. This courageous child is probably the one who will grow up to have the greatest impact on the world.

My insecurity as a kid--and, I would imagine, the insecurity of many bullied kids--stemmed from not fitting in and being forced by the status quo educational system to spend hours every day in an environment that simply didn't serve me well. It's easy to say, "Well, Wyatt, you should have fit in; you were your own worst enemy." Telling a kid to just fit in is not only wrong; it's tragic. Kids need to be in environments where they can flourish and where their gifts--energy being one of mine--can be used in good ways to truly build self-esteem. Yes, we need uniform standards, but we must allow children to be individuals, not products of the system. Our educational system creates products, and if you're not "packaged" like most of the other kids then you're discarded. It's tragic.

I needed more freedom--freedom of thought, expression and activity. I lacked this freedom all the way through high school, mostly earning sub-par grades as I wasted away in the classroom. Not until college, when I had the freedom I lacked for all those years (and a very good example in my future wife, an exceptional student), did I blossom. My parents sent me to a good liberal-arts college perfect for me (and did they ever sacrifice for it). It wasn't until my sophomore year that it hit me that I was finally in an environment where I could be free. I was exposed to many free thinkers, and it was OK to be different. I earned straight A's in college, developing a passion for history and political science, graduating with honors and forming many friendships I still cherish to this day.

But the damage from those years of being bullied as a kid has never quite been fully repaired. And it never will be. Deep down, there's still some rage in me, and I think this rage over time is being replaced with peace. I know who I am, and ultrarunning has been a huge part of that process and has helped feed success in my personal and professional lives. Many ultrarunners probably feel the same way; we're a different breed. But while I know who I am, I'm still undecided about what I want to do. Maybe working with kids is the calling.

Running and outdoor adventure have been my answer, but they're not the answer for every child. Our educational system needs to help kids find what allows them to flourish, blossom and enjoy success. Until we find a way to do that, bullying will continue to drive many children to the brink...and then over the edge.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Running for the fun of running

Well, just like that, there will be no 2010 Rock 'n Roll Denver Marathon for me. I kept procrastinating with my entry and then finally the race capped out. Honestly, it's probably all for the better. I'm still not 100% and deep down I don't think I am really into doing a race if I'm not at my best.

So at least for the next few months I'll be dedicating myself to running for the fun of running, moving into our new house in November, and basically trying to get healthy. Right now I feel like an old man. My objective is to feel like a young buck by Christmas, clicking off my usual baseline 70-mile weeks throughout the winter before starting the build-up in March. I'm working back up to it and am developing a new training regiment that will have me in peak condition by the time the Leadville 100 rolls around in August.


Tantalizingly terrifying

More immediately, this Saturday I'm planning my second Pikes Peak ascent (and hopefully descent) with Henry, one of my excellent Leadville 100 pacers who I've been meaning to connect with since the race. Henry lives in Boulder and has done several 14'ers. We hit it off really well at Leadville on the hardest section of all--the climb up the backside of Hope Pass and the long descent into Twin Lakes. I'm excited about taking on Pikes with Henry.

You're above the clouds.
My first Pikes ascent was in early June, when there was still quite a bit of snow up top. It was an incredible struggle post-holing through waist-deep snow and negotiating icy ridges and snow-covered switchbacks above 13,000 feet. By the time I reached the summit (14,110 feet), I was totally spent. Never have I felt such acute exhaustion save the final half-hour of the 24-hour national championship last October. The exhaustion you get from high-altitude exertion is unparalleled. It's as if you've been completely deflated. Above 13,000 feet, you are moving in slow motion. That day in June, I felt like Pikes had kicked my ass. This Saturday's summit is about having fun on one of America's greatest mountains, pushing my limits and summiting an amazing 14'er before the snow comes. I hope to run back down, covering 27 tough miles. Then, and only then, will I turn my attention to the other 14'ers--with Bierstadt, Evans, Longs, Grays and Torreys among those I'm eyeing.

Pikes Peak is a most spectacular geological marvel. I think Tony Krupicka has done a great job of describing Pikes' appeal:
After any trip back down to Manitou Springs and Pikes Peak, I often come away with some rather grandiose future plans. Something about that mountain really draws me to it. Actually, it's pretty obvious, really. It's gigantic, its aesthetic as a summit is undeniable, and it's so close.
Once you get above timberline and have a clear view of the summit, you are awestruck by the enormity of the peak. It is, as Tony says, colossal. You are astonished by how expansive and huge the peak is, how visible it is, and yet how far you have to go. In some ways, it is tantalizingly terrifying.

As of this writing, the summit of Pikes Peak is snow-free. I'll continue to watch the summit cams and, if snow does come, I'll make a decision as to whether the expedition happens or not.

Stay tuned for a report on my Pikes summit. 


I'm a huge fan of film director PT Anderson, a creative genius who has an incredible ability to bring out the best in actors. Actors like John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Philip Symour Hoffman, Philip Baker Hall, Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore, William H. Macy, Luis Guzman and even Tom Cruise owe a huge part of their success to PT Anderson. It was Anderson who managed to resurrect Burt Reynolds' career for a short time (Reynolds turned in one of the all-time great performances as Jack Horner in "Boogie Nights"). The man is a miracle worker. "Magnolia," which came out in 1999, had huge expectations as it followed Anderson's masterpiece, "Boogie Nights." "Magnolia" delivered in a big way, telling nine seemingly disparate yet connected storylines (a la "Nashville") and ending with an incredibly bizarre scene--frogs falling from the sky. The ending invites your own interpretation, but clearly there are biblical themes at work. In the scene below, we see the first of the frogs falling from the sky.