I can’t figure out why I’m crying. Is it because I am about to leave my hometown for a very, very long time? Or is it b/c I just said goodbye to my closest friends and family? Or b/c all of the above and I am listening to Tom Waits first album, Closing Time. I am wearing shades. I am alone except for the dog and the truck. I am about to drive eighteen plus hours. After the tears and after the Tom Waits, I begin to feel better.
Back on the road in 1 hour 15 minutes.
Drive for another two and a half hours.
This time, four hour snooze.
Let Rox out.
Drive into Denver and stop and the same Denny’s that I once ate at w/ Her. Four years ago.
I even think one of the same people is working there. Four years later.
I drive to Idaho Springs and get a room. I have been rushing around for months now trying to get everything organized and in order to move and make a clean break w/ no stress. My mind free from obstruction. No enemies. Just love and good karma. I have been successful. Now I need to pull over and get a room and take a night off b/f getting to work tomorrow. As soon as training begins, I am putting 100% of my time and effort into the Leadville 100 that is less than three weeks away. One nights vacation won’t hurt me b/f living in the woods and training diligently to run a hundred mile mountain race. I will be soaking my foot and Achilles in cold mountain streams twice a day and stretching and doing pushups and planks and deep knee squats and not having too much beer and slowly taking myself off caffeine and getting my mind right and getting myself ready to suffer for 24-30 hours.
8/4/12 10:18pm 12,800 feet
Roxy and I climbed Mt. Evans today at 14,284 feet. Wanted to take it easy on day one so we started at Summit Lake which is at 12,800. It still took a few hours. Altitude was a factor but I can’t complain. All the time I’ve put in running this year helped a lot. I was able to run some but it was mostly a hike. Ran some on the way down as well. On the way down, we saw over sixty mountain goats and one big horn sheep. It was a pretty awesome day of trying to acclimate. Camping up here at Summit Lake will help. I always sleep great up here too. It’s cold at night. I have four thick layers on top and I’m in the sleeping bag and under a blanket. I read Haruki Murakami until it got dark. Then I put the headlamp on and got in the back and read some more…
8/5/12 7:47pm 12,800 feet
At 0700 hours, we hiked up from Summit Lake today and negotiated the sawtooth ridge from Evans to Bierstadt. Bagged Bierstadt and then traversed back to bag Evans again. Spent some time on the summit. There was a family from Iowa that couldn’t believe I hiked and ran up. Shoot man, this was an easy one compared to most. They waited for me down at the parking lot just to see that I made it back safely. I couldn’t believe it! They took my picture. Kind of funny.
I ate some food and then drove back down the harrowing shelf roads into town. Killed time in Idaho Springs for the day. Not much to do. Wanted to check out the Indian Hot Springs b/c I thought maybe I could kill a few hours there. They said they’d let me tour the place b/f paying for a day pass. They have a hot spring pool and a men’s and women’s “cave”. They told me to go down and check it out. I think the cave was some sort of gay haven for dudes. I opened the door and saw more penis than I’ve ever seen in one place. There was steam. It was dark. There were dudes in towels and there were dudes naked. Every eye shot to me to see who was coming in. Dudes laying around. I felt dirty and I think they did too. I bolted the hell out of there.
Went to a brewery. One of the waitresses told me she gets off work at 8:00. That doesn’t happen to me much, so I probably should have stuck around. I didn’t. Some other guys asked me if I knew of any good camping and I told them the only camping I knew of. It’s at 12,800 feet. It’s cold. It’s 22 miles out of town. But I told them that they will never see beautiful camping like that again. They looked hesitant. They just needed a place to crash btwn Phish concerts.
So, here I am. Same cold spot as last night. 22 miles out of town. The only person on Mt. Evans. 12,800 feet. A zillion stars. A shooting star every 10 seconds. Massive headache tonight though. Typing and driving seem to make it worse, so I’m checking out. Later.
8/6/12 7:44pm 11,300 feet
Drove into Boulder today and checked the city out for the first time. Got lost for a few hours. As much time as I’ve spent in Colorado, I hadn’t been through Boulder. It reminded me of Madison. I met a possible roommate today. He seems normal. Student, avid tv watcher etc. The rent for a bedroom in downtown Boulder is the same as my entire mortgage payment back home. But I don’t get a workout room, yoga classes, pool and whirlpool back home. There is a dog park across the way from the apartment. I don’t know about perfect but the place seemed alright to me. I’ll sleep on it a couple nights…
Made the drive over to Grays and Torreys peaks. It’s raining now, so Roxy and I are camped out in the truck. Hoping to climb them both tomorrow. Depends on the weather, depends on how my Achilles feels etc. etc.
I am camped in the same spot that Her and I once camped. That was not a good couple days, from what I remember. I’m still trying to exorcise those demons. I am parked in the exact same spot. The spot where I accidentally left my boots under the truck four years ago. I checked, they’re not here. It’s the exact spot where, when Tabor came up and joined us, we had a raging bonfire and talked into the night. And then early in the morning, we dug into the nine mile hike and the thirty-six hundred feet of elevation gain and decent. That’s what I’m hoping for tomorrow. But I just heard thunder…
Started at 11,300 feet where I had camped for the night. This was some beautiful camping, even in the rain! I was glad the skies were clear when I pushed out of the truck this morning at 6 am. Ate a little and Roxy and I took off. I ran what I could, power hiked the rest. Made it to the top of Grays (14,270) in an hour and a half. I was the first one on the peak this morning. A plane literally buzzed me. I know they saw me, because they were so close, I could see them looking at me. We took off and went for Torreys (14,267) and made it there in a half hour. Took some video and pictures and then ran the entire descent down. No lie, it felt great! I shaved about three hours off my previous time on these two peaks. Stopped and talked w/ lots of hikers and just felt like I was on FIRE! 3,600 feet of elevation gain and descent.
Drove into Idaho Springs and got a room. Did the laundry, filled the water bottles, tried replenishing the 10,000 calories I burned this morning at the Tommyknocker Brewery.
8/8/12 8:37pm Mile high city
Woke up and leisurely loaded up the truck. Went to breakfast at the same spot Her and I did, four years ago. Different people working there. I wonder what She’s doing this morning. Colorado just makes me think of Her more than ever. But I know that She doesn’t have time for me anymore. And I don’t blame Her…
I mostly just drive around all day. Drive to Boulder. Drive to Denver. Potential roommate calls and says I can fill out paperwork w/ Boulders Apartment if I want. I rush to Boulder during rush hour traffic. Fill out a rental application. They tell me it’s all up in the air d/t the little spec on my criminal record. We all have a past. Sometimes mine comes back to haunt me. It humbles me. I feel bad. I feel silly. I feel embarrassed. I get a six pack of beer and listen to Beck. “When I wake up, someone will sweep up my lazy bones…”
8/9/12 mile high
Wake up in a hotel room and since checkout time isn’t until noon, I know I’m going to milk it out until noon. Watch tv, do a little exercising etc. Then I am pretty much just waiting around all day for my 3pm interview w/ Boulder Running Company. I sit outside a Starbucks w/ Roxy and look online for apartments. I make about a million calls. No luck. I interview. The woman who interviews me asks you if I’d like to join the trail runners tonight. I have nothing better to do so I say I’d be delighted to. More waiting. I wander over to a park and watch some crossfitters exercising. Roxy and I meet the run group at 5:30. We run about six miles, nice and easy pace. My Achilles bothers me some. It kind depresses me but I try not to let it get me TOO down. The redrock trails were amazing! We have a beer afterwards in the parking lot. There is a North Face rep there demo-ing some shoes and raffling off some stuff. I win a stellar half zip. I was kind of half hoping someone would ask me my situation and offer me a couch to sleep on but no such luck. I drive to Idaho Springs and eat at the brewery. Again, I’m kind of half hoping a female bartender will ask me my situation and offer me a warm bed to sleep in. No such luck. I did have some interesting conversations w/ a waitress and a married woman who just dropped her husband off at an airport. Beautiful woman. It’s dark out. I take my leftovers out to the truck for Roxy and she plows them down. I drive out of town to Echo Lake and camp w/out paying, knowing I’ll have to be at 5 am to be out of there b/f the rangers catch me. I’m tired. I wake up a few times when I hear various noises but mainly I sleep like a log.
8/10/12 7,524 feet
I’m starting to worry about not being able to find a place to live. I go to a Starbucks and use their internet service and jot down a zillion numbers of people that have been looking for roommates in Boulder w/in the last few months. That kills a few hours. I look at the people who come in and out of the coffee shop. The people who have jobs and agendas. They have nice vehicles, professional jobs, wives and husbands. This life is foreign to me. I take Roxy for a long walk and then we hang out at a park. We run 2.15 miles to shake the dust off. Achilles hurts. It depresses me intensely. I wonder if I’ll be able to run Leadville. I’ve never DNF’d anything. We make the drive to Frisco, then Breckenridge. We drive to the McCullough spill flume where I’ve camped several times. Rox and I scope it out and set up camp. It’s 3pm. I have nothing to do. No phone reception. I’m tired. I read. I eat. We have a fire. We go to bed early.
8/11/12 10,850 feet
I wake up and head into Breckenridge. When my phone reception comes back, I realize my friends and pacers that are here to help me through the Leadville 100 are in town and ready to meet up! We meet at the 7/11 and head to breakfast. Hugs all around and they are as excited as I am to be in Colorado. They are both avid runners and in good shape but have no experience w/ altitude or mountains and as good of shape as they’re in, this is going to be a new ball of yarn for them. But they are anxious and eager and the best pacers in the world and are here to run and acclimate ASAP and they want to get out in some mountains TODAY! We opt for Quandary peak as their first teener. We claim a camp spot and start gearing up for the days climb. We are definitely getting a late start but as long as we keep an eye on the skies, we should be good. We climb up to treeline and we are not the only ones that got a late start on this fine Saturday. Marty and Jessica have a little trepidation and wonder if they’ll be able to make it. They were at sea level yesterday, so this is no joke. They are both tough as nails and fight through altitude sickness and doubt to top out at 14,000 plus feet. It’s cold and windy on top so we snap pictures for documented proof and then head down. As soon as we are coming down, they are feeling better and in fact feeling GREAT b/c they made it. I couldn’t be more proud and I know I have the best pacers around.
We camp. We have a fire. We have a beer. We have some laughs. It’s good to have some friends here to enjoy Life w/ again…
I want a double / Marty says.
Double shot of espresso? / I ask.
No, a double 14er.
That is when I know I have the best pacers and crew in the entire world.
We head to Grays and Torreys. Again, a late start but the skies look stellar. We head up and they already feel better than the day b/f. They march gamely on. We make both peaks and they are loving life. We head into town to a brewery afterwards for burgers and beer. And this is how the next week goes. There are more 14ers. There are more breweries. There is camping and living outside for days at a time. I have a couple of job interviews. I find an apartment. I find a part time job. I worry incessantly about my Achilles and wonder if I’ll be able to complete the Leadville 100. Hell, I wonder if I’ll make it ten miles into the race. I have no idea. There are hotels and a shower every other day or so. There is music. There is laughter. There is training. The rest of your crew arrives the day b/f the race. And then…there is Leadville…