Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nolan's 14 Success - Photos

Given the choice between the experience of pain and nothing, I would choose pain.” ~ William Faulkner

Well we did it. Jared Campbell and I managed to cover the Nolan's 14 route in 58 hours and 58 minutes. In that time we climbed 14 peaks over fourteen thousand feet in elevation. Our route, which ended up being over 105 miles, climbed 45,331 feet. Leaving the Leadville Fish Hatchery just after 9am on Friday, August 17th, we climbed up and ran down Mount Massive, Mount Elbert, La Plata, Huron, Missouri, Belford, Oxford, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Princeton, Antero, Tabeguache, and Shavano. Look for my piece in the upcoming issue #85 of Trail Runner Magazine, adventure section. For now enjoy Jared's write up, Dakota's write up or what my iPhone captured below...

My Gear:
Montrail Bajada and the discontinued Montrail Rockridge
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Wind Jacket
UltrAspire Surge Race Vest
Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp and Z-poles
DryMax Trail Socks

Thank you Mindy Campbell, Jared's wife, you were amazing crew.. and without you this would not have happened. Pro photog Fred Marmsater was also on hand to shoot photos and remind us that he thinks we're "bad asses". In my experience, that never hurts - thanks Fred. Last but not least, thanks to Fred Vance and Jim Nolan who came up with the route, and the four men that pioneered it, legends all ~ Blake Wood, Mike Tilden, Jim Nelson and John Robinson.

Jared Campbell approaching Bull Hill off Mount Elbert (14,440 ft)

Deep in self-hate dialog in my head.

Beautiful bushwhacking on the way up to Mount Yale (14,199 ft)

Princeton ridge descent

Mere minutes after puking up a gel Jared charges summit #13 - Tabeguache Peak (14,163 ft)

Jared making his way over the 15+ false summits on the last peak of our adventure.

Mount Shavano (14,229 ft) the last of our 14 summits. We arrived hear in 57 hours 30 minutes.

Suunto says 45,331 feet of uphill climb - Not a bad day in the mountains

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nolan's 14

UPDATE: Well, I'm elated to report that we did it. Jared Campbell and I became the fifth and sixth people to complete the Nolan's 14 route. More to come, for now check out the photos I tweeted: from the top of the most intimidating climb, Mount Harvard (peak #8), Jared throwing up on our way up Yale, and from the last of the 14 fourteeners - Mount Shavano

The summit of Mount Elbert. 14,440 feet above sea level.
The next adventure starts in less than 23 hours! Tomorrow, Friday at 9am Jared Campbell and I are going to start Nolan's 14. The route bags 14x "fourteeners" - peaks that top out higher than 14,000 feet in elevation - in one shot. With no real "set course" there are quite a few available route options. Jared has had his eye on this one for a while and what he's planned ended up being about ~90 miles with 45,000 feet of vert. We're starting at the Leadville Fish Hatchery and going South.

For a couple years Nolan's was run as a race, before the Forest Service shut it down. To be considered a finisher, you have to complete the route in under 60 hours. The fastest it's been completed 56 hours. In it's 13 year existence only four people can claim to be Nolan's 14 finishers: Mike Tilden, Blake Wood, Jim Nelson and John Robinson - legends all.


Considering that we will spend most of our time above 13,000 ft it's an intimidating proposition, but one I'm very very excited about. This adventure will more akin to my Adventure Racing days than my UltraRunning days. This means a fair bit of wrestling with sleep monsters and other unmentionables. We've got Jared's wife Mindy and pro photog Fred Marmsater as crew, so we won't likely have much in the way of excuses on that end.

If you wanna follow along, Jared setup a sweet Tracker Page Here - http://trackleaders.com/nolans14

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Miler Race Report 2012

The coolest belt buckle I've earned thus far
The short version: I finally won a 100 miler.

The long version: When a monkey climbs down off your back he leaves a mark.

In learning about the race it was obvious the Tahoe Rim Trail 100 Miler is a race with top notch organization behind it. The only gripe I have is trying to figure out how much vertical gain there was before-hand. Most people in the know landed on 20,000 - 24,000 feet of uphill. I haven't run a 100 miler with this little vertical gain yet, and all accounts of the trail was that it was buttery smooth single-track. To be completely honest - this scared me. I don't see myself as much of a leg speed guy and the proposition of actually running 100 miles was daunting.

Although I really tried not to, I did peruse the start list. I figured one time Montrail Ultra Cup winner Victor Ballesteros was the likely favorite, having obvious talent and having run the race before. Canadian, and 2009 Chuckanut 50km Champ Aaron Heidt - who has short distance speed I can only dream about - also made my short list. The week before the race my buddy Justin txt's me to "Watch out for my buddy Jon Robinson. I've been running with him lately and he's strong. He'll be in the mix for sure". And it's always good measure to add a random four or five mental spots for California runners you've never heard.

The Start Line at Spooner Lake - Photo: Travis Liles

Saturday, July 21st we lined up in the dark at Sooner lake and were off. The course is a beautiful 50 mile route, that you run twice. It has three lollipop loops from the stem, which is the Tahoe Rim Trail. Although I had no idea who it was at the time, Seattle's Jon Robinson shot off the front and quickly disappeared. I mean gone. I have learned a few things in my days of endurance racing, and one of them is to simply run your own race. I just put him out of my mind and figured if he has that kind of day, more power to him - I'd heartily congratulate him at the finish.

The front pack was a quick one, we introduced ourselves, chatted and moved at a good sustainable pace. I was surprised Aaron was missing from our numbers. I figured he was really trying to play it smart. Through the first aid station at mile six, Hobart, I was in 3rd having pulled a bit ahead of the pack on the climb up to it. At this point everything felt easy, I was climbing well, and my torn labrum was behaving. I had agravated this long standing hip injury on my last big week of training (120 miles of Wasatch-awesome). It was my biggest concern going into the race.

My last two 100 milers have been disasters, with cratering lows of epic proportions. So this race I was game to try a few new tactics. Chief among them was LESS caffeine.. yes, less. Can you believe it? I am genetically very sensitive to caffeine, and it's something I just have to respect. It was a key factor in my suffering adrenal fatigue through the fall and winter. It's taken a lot of research and working with some very smart people to figure it all out. I won't lie, it's been a long and disappointing road, but this race shows I've made some marked improvement.

Aaron caught up to me on the first climb out of the Red House loop. He said, "I couldn't have run any slower." I could have. We then ran out to the Diamond Peak loop together. Chatting like school girls made the 10 mile loop fly by, it felt so effortless and easy. To finish the loop the course goes straight up some sandy, loose black diamond slopes. Aaron pulled ahead as I stopped to take care of some business. As I caught him near the top of the steep 1,800 foot climb we could see Jon. I didn't feel over taxed so this was all very promising.

Aaron Heidt and I running into Diamond Peak the 1st time. Photo Travis Liles

On our way back to the start/finish from Diamond Peak we passed back through the Tunnel Creek aid station for our third time of the race. With the time of day change and entering the aid station fast and from a new direction I was so confused as to where I was. I just completely didn't recognize the aid station until I was a few miles out. Leaving that aid station I yelled, "let's go Aaron!". I wanted company for this climb, but he didn't respond. I figured he might have already left, so I picked up the pace a bit to catch him. I was feeling very good and climbing well. I soon caught Seattle's best, Jon Robinson. We ran together for a few minutes then he dropped back to run his own pace and let his stomach settle. This was probably mile 37 or so. I caught a glimpse of Aaron behind me in the switch backs and realized I was in first place.

Now I had to run with a bit of concern that I might get caught. I played head games to prepare for this. I just figured at some point it would happen, and I didn't want it to mentally deflate me when it did. But, I was up for the challenge of seeing if I could stay in front for the next 63 miles. I finished the first 50 mile loop in 8hours 38 minutes. The winner of the 50 mile race came up to me and told me that I had run just two minutes slower than his winning time.

It was nice to see Ellen and her boyfriend Matt had come out to cheer and help crew. There was just so much good energy oozing out of that place I didn't want to leave. I sat for a couple minutes and made sure I had everything I needed before departure.

The one disadvantage to this course being run twice, with 50km and 50 milers on course as well, is the dust factor. I have a bit of asthma, and as I headed out on loop two I started to notice the wheeze. I think I'll spare you the blow by blow and say I ran paranoid the rest of the race. I was able to avoid the depths of an energy crash, but my pace and motivation waned a bit more than I should have allowed. For the last 20 miles from Diamond Peak I employed 2004 Hardrock Champion Paul Sweeney to "safety run" me home. Paul's perspective was great as I closed in on my first 100 mile victory. It was basically "soak it in, and enjoy it". The unspoken understanding that winning a 100 miler is special, and they don't come easy, or often (for most of us).

I was on course record pace through 50 miles, but with my lead growing I let off the gas a bit here and there. Something I'll try to fix for my next 100. We are lucky to get to run these races. I mean, seriously - we run 100 miles in one shot. So my attitude from here on out has to be - leave the best damn time you can, every time.

Thank you Miriam, Darryl, Paul, Ellen and Matt for all your amazing support out there. I couldn't have done it without you.

Getting the coolest belt buckle ever. Photo: Travis Liles

My Gear:
Montrail Rogue Fly Shoes
Mountain Hardwear Way2Cool Tshirt
UltrAspire Isomeric Race Handheld
Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp