once upon a time i was invincible. i was 29 years old, had a great career in the software world but was looking for more out of each second than compiling code can provide. i had been adventure racing for a few years and was lucky enough to be on a great team, DART-nuun. although back then it was just D.A.R.T for Dirtworld.com Adventure Race Team. essentially i was doing enough at my job to not get fired, no more, no less. i was a professional adventure racer in my mind. at least that is the way i approached each day, training was my primary concern, test cases a distance second. i was training for the 2004 primal quest expedition adventure race... with eco challenge gone primal quest had become the premier race. i'd often use the bus system to get training in as i commuted to redmond from seattle, riding or running in combination with the bus. i'd sometimes run the entire 32 miles over lake washington in the morning darkness to be to work on time. not that it matter too much that i was on time, since i'd sit at my desk a total calorie deprived zombie. but all of that is besides the point.
in training for the 2004 primal quest expedition adventure race i ended up with a persistent knee pain. mri's and such showed that i had somehow torn my r meniscus. meniscus for an ultra distance athlete is a commodity. it's the padding between big body weight supporting bones.
i cried in the dr's office the day he told me i was essentially done running and likely any long distance anything for the rest of my life. he said "i wouldn't run more than 15 miles a week, and never all at once". i've thought about sending dr zorn my crimson cheetah belt buckle from the wasatch 100. i had my surgery in 2005. they removed 20% of my meniscus. with zero guidance from the dr (he was too famous to provide any additional time that didn't involve cutting) i rehabbed. i switched sports to 24hr endurance mtn biking to avoid the obvious impact of ultrarunning. eventually though i was peppering in trail running. before long i was back at it with only mild knee pain. pretty confident i could make a go at it, i quit my career to race full time. after about a year the knee felt exactly the same as the other knee, great. at times ultrarunning simply hurts. 400 miles into the colorado trail both my knees hurt. as did my hips and ankles and... etc. about a year ago, after all this running i wasn't supposed to do i had an mri. there were zero signs of degeneration from running. turns out drs don't know everything.
as i mentioned in this blog post i fell skiing. i've once again done something wrong to my right knee. i believe i tore my mcl (grade II). this healed and stabilized after about 4-5 weeks. i also think i have done additional meniscus damage. after 6 weeks i still have a lingering pain between the bones that has really not improved at all. so yesterday i got an mri on my right knee.
my first injury seemed so traumatic because it was supposed to be a career ender. the simple fact that that didn't come to fruition has me extremely hopeful that i'll pull out of this one too... no matter what the dr's say.
i'm super happy to announce that i'm now the coach for trail runner magazine's ask the coach column. my first issue answering questions for trail runners is on the newstands now. go pick it up! or better yet get yourself a subscription (1yr is just $19.95). the november issue also features a great piece by elinor fish on her first 100 miler, the leadville 100. check it out!!
i'm always looking for a new perspective, and thus i'm constantly using new experts to help with my trail runner magazine answers. so if you know an exceptional exercise physiologist, nutritionist, coach or the like... please shoot me a message with their details.
"make a choice. just decide. what it's gonna be. who you're gonna be. how you're gonna do it. from that point, the universe is gonna get out the way." will smith
while i was out of town the wasatch had gotten hit with a dump! the internets was buzzing with how awesome this october treat was. full on powder skiing in october. photographer ian provo posted some absolutely stunning photos from the october shred session on mount superior. 3 weeks prior i had hiked superior.
i was in seattle working with coaching clients and visiting friends while all this was going down. this obviously made me even more excited to get back to the satch. for november i'm lucky enough to live right on the slopes of brighton ski resort. this makes for an easy skin out the front door into the brighton backcountry. i found this warren miller segment on brighton that shows exactly why i'm excited...
also at my finger tips via twin lakes pass is the backcountry skiing near alta (emma ridge area). i simply skin up to twin lakes pass (40mins or so) and i've now got all the alta terrain and little cottonwood canyon at my finger tips.
upon arrival i figured i'd start skiing every day, regardless how crappy the conditions were. the first day i was just buzzing from being on skis. i ignored the lack of snowpack. as i skied down into brighton towards home at about 40mph a ski hit a covered rock. before i knew it i was double ejecting from my skis and rocketing into the ground. had there been another rock there, i would have been in trouble.
undeterred i figured i'd add 1,000 feet of uphill each day until i couldn't take anymore. my sponsor mountain hardwear had sent me a new winter running jacket to wear test. the stoke just kept piling up and even though conditions weren't good... i just had to get into the backcountry. the jacket is the perfect backcountry skinning jacket. here is a quick look of the mountain hardwear effusion, it's coming out fall 2011.
the next day i learned a bit from my crash and kept it safer. i skinned up under the lift at brighton and found a secret stash off the top of the ridge. i had a great day, no issues. once up on the ridge however i got a birds eye view of mount wolverine's bowl. from a far it looked perfect, wide open and completely untracked. i got my 2,000ft in for the day and figured i'd head out for wolverine the following day.
day 3 - with no new additional snow, i knew the skiing wouldn't be very good... but i didn't care. as long as i got 3,000 feet of climbing in and few turns. the route to get to mt wolverine on the brighton side includes climbing over mount millicent. this peak is essentially a rock pile. with just one storm having hit the wasatch so far the snowpack was low. no one had even been up millicent yet. boulders with death holes in between them that are lightly covered in snow is not exactly fun or smart. this pictures sort of shows what i was dealing with.
but i pressed on. figured in my mind it might toughen me up a bit and get me used to carrying my skis over sketch terrain. after a couple hours i arrived at mount wolverine. skinned right up to the high point, stripped my skins and shoved off. i was excited! i had never skied mt wolverine afterall and it appeared i'd be the first person this season to do so. i was skiing way faster than i should have been. i forgot to unlock my bindings. snow conditions varied wildly across the bowl. i crashed. hard. as i came to a stop i knew i had done something to my right knee. i screamed. what a "f'in idiot". i'm left with a grade II mcl tear. best case scenario is 4-6 weeks. worst case is there is additional meniscus damage underneath.
the foliage was in perfect form, however i was not. i often suffer a solid day or two of being clobbered by allergies when i travel across the country to the shire. but this trip, for whatever reason i was basically sick with allergies for the entire two week visit. so i spent a lot of time trying to keep up with my mother the bibliophile. i did make an attempt at the pemi loop, but with a bridge out on the return it ended up being an out and back on the amazing franconia ridge.
climbing mt whittier w/my nephew jackson
my little nephew jackson is the toughest lil' dood i've ever seen. he and i climbed "jack's mountain", or mount whittier. it's called jack's mountain because jack or jackson hiked it without help as a 3 year old. he's now 7 years old and we hiked the 1,200 feet of uphill in 45 minutes. that's cool. then he ran the steep downhill road with his uncle.. even cooler.
the closest real mtn run to my mother's house is mount chocorua. on one of my better days i ran up to the top of this. pretending at times that i was being chased as chief chicocrua had some years before.
my franconia ridge run started out being an attempt at running a fast pemi loop. however within 30 seconds of starting off i ran into the sign that told me a bridge on the later part of the loop was out.
i just caught up on fellow montrail ultrarunning teammate geoff roess' blog and he's inspired me to write more. i might not be the most eloquent or interesting, but it helps my mind grapes to flush out these crazy ideas.
so a couple days ago i jumped off the red bull human express. pro patagonia ultrarunner krissy moehl has taken my place. karl was running strong and averaging 52+ miles per day and krissy will be awesome. i had an amazing time on the crew with lesli shooter. she is a physiologist / sports scientist hired on by red bull to monitor karl. it was a true pleasure to meet and work with her.
how am i feeling? not great, but so goes it. i have a knee that is missing 25% of it's meniscus. since the wasatch 100 miler it's been pretty achey. kind of a concern, but it's felt like this before. i've just ordered some hammer nutrition tissue rejuvenator, i believe this has helped in the past. we'll see.
next up for me is a two week trip to the shire to visit my mother. i'm very excited about this trip. i'm hoping the weather in the white mountains is condusive to running. i'd love love love to take a crack at the speed record on the presidential traverse, although the current record of 4h 59mins seems insanely fast. a 25 mile journey is not really in my wheel barrel, so for me this will be speed work... blinding anaerobic pain.
looking forward from there i'm still trying to get sponsorship together to try and ski all the colorado 14ers. i simply can't afford to go into debt to pull it off. it's basically come down to one sponsor. if they are in, it's on like donkey kong. honestly the alternative is pretty exciting too. which would be actually settling into a rhythm in salt lake city. i just hope we have a normal winter and i'll be stoked.
i like to add photos and vids to blog posts.. so i through together some iphone shots from two days of following jared around the wasatch.
I'm an ultra distance athlete who incessantly seeks out backcountry adventure. I'm an UltraRunner by trade, but I'm a multisport athlete at heart. Ski mountaineering in the winter, trail running and cycling in the summer. After 10 years in Seattle I moved to Salt Lake City because the Wasatch Mtns are simply amazing. I'm from New Hampshire originally, where I learned to "Live Free or Die". In December of 2005 I decided my desk job at Microsoft was in fact death... so i quit. I've been gettin' after it in the backcountry full time ever since. I coach, train and write the Ask the Coach column in TrailRunner Magazine