The 11 Harsh Realities Of Being An Entrepreneur

15 12 2010

I didn’t write this article.  Not sure that I would have.  However, there is some great wisdom in this…wisdom because it’s been lived and survived by so many.  Great because it’s easy to forget when things are tough that being tough isn’t the end of anything.  Like I hear in ultrarunning so often, “it doesn’t always get worse.”  So if you’re an entrepreneur or if you’re starting something new inside an existing business. I highly recommend this one.  Here are five to get you started but please go read the details and the other six points

  1. Your First Iteration of an Idea Will Be Wrong
  2. Your Friends And Family Won’t Understand What You Do
  3. You Will Make Less Than Normal Wages For A While
  4. Everything Takes Twice As Long…If It Even Happens
  5. Titles Mean Nothing. You Will Be a Janitor



Customers for Life

12 12 2010

This past week I had a chance to hear Carl Sewell, chairman of Sewell Auto Dealers and author of Customers For Life  They are celebrating their 100th anniversary selling cars next year.  I have to think they’re doing something right.

Here are a few tidbits from his talk:

  • Company must act in a way that says customers and employees are equally important
  • Integrity is critical, on and off of the job. Sewell has 1500+ employees and if one person does something while not at work, he or she impacts the perception of the entire company.  Basically, if you wouldn’t want your mother to read it in the local paper, don’t do it.
  • Leadership is Performance is a Peter Drucker quote that they try to live at Sewell.
    • First decide how good do you want to be: best in your city, state, country, world?  any answer is ok but will take you down different paths
    • Who are the best?
      • Go see them and take your leadership team
      • Study failure both in companies and leaders
    • Implementation is where all the value is.  The idea is 5% of success, the rest is in the doing.  And be sure you make a distinction between knowing and doing
    • Recogition is the grease that keeps it all moving.  Money is always a great way to recognize people but to just give someone financial recognition without public recognition is a missed opportunity
  • Now more than ever is the time for
    • customer focus: how you treat people in the hard times is what really gets remembered
    • employee focus: Sewell has brought in lawyers to help employees keep their homes, Dave Ramsey to help people understand how to get out of debt.  Also a great time to learn, acquire/develop talent.
      • Sewell believes in hiring smart people.
    • Big focus on mentors and mentors should most likely be retired.  They have the time and experience.  Mentors in their 60s and 70s may be far better mentors than someone in their 40s or 50s
  • One of Sewell’s recent favorite examples of great value and leadership is from Karen Katz at Neiman Marcus in a The Book
    • It is wise to shop for quality investment pieces that will look good for several seasons.  We have done the editing for you and our service will be equally discerning.
  • Bottom line for Sewell: If it doesn’t add value to the customer, don’t do it.  it’s that simple.

We are having an impact for better and worse

10 12 2010

Saw this very cool set of photos this morning on one of’s blogs. The idea is to take pictures of the same landscape years apart to show the changes. I don’t want to start a big flap about global climate change but there is no denying that humans impact the environment…to its and our detriment and benefit.

Do we even talk like humans any more?

9 12 2010

Today I spent some time talking about resumes and how executive search firms use them. Eye opening to say the least.

You get less than 10 seconds to make an impression; it’s all about the positioning statement at the very top of your resume. But reading several that I saw today I was just flabbergasted at how full of jargon and business-speak they are. Mine included.  Here it is.

Executive SUMMARY

Over 15 years of executive level experience in the leadership of a global member-driven organization. Proven record of increasing revenue, improving profitability, accelerating cash flow and enhancing the quality of membership services. Combines expert leadership, communication, negotiation, team building and creative skills to deliver results. Known for ability to build consensus and drive cooperative relationships between the staff, board of directors and business partners

So I’m inspired to update mine so it sounds like me, not like what I think it should sound like. Then I’ll make sure that new language is consistent on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t fix this a lot sooner.  Will be interested if anyone has any feedback.

So even if you’re not looking, you don’t know who might be looking for you. Take some time and make sure what’s out there about you reflects who you are, what you’ve done and how you talk. Great opportunity to differentiate yourself from the masses.

Celebrate what you want to see more of

8 12 2010

I subscribe to Tom Peters’ daily email and thought this was a great reminder for what I do personally and professionally. If I want to see more collaboration and idea sharing at work, then I need to not only practice it but recognize it and promote it when I see it.

Same holds true for what goes on in my family. How many times do I focus on what’s wrong and fixate on the problem?

Something tells me that once I start looking for the good stuff, I’ll find a lot more of it.

that includes not kvetching about the grammar in the title 🙂

Headlands 100 race report.

19 08 2010

For me, this was the ultra that almost wasn’t. I signed up for the Vermont 100 in July but had to cancel because of business demands. I wanted to run the inaugural Grand Mesa 100 in Colorado but that didn’t work out. So with a lot of support from Becca, I wound up at the Headlands 100 in Marin, just north of San Francisco. With all the heat training in the great plains of north Texas, I decided to run a four-loop 25mi course with 20,000ft+ of elevation gain and loss (more on loss later) where they actually warned people about hypothermia at the last minute because of the cold, windy, foggy conditions. Nothing like condition-specific training! The final omen was that I only packed half the race food I intended to; I was just a little disorganized. Then, in the coup de grace, in my concern that I not oversleep I set two alarms. However, on one I made the chime go off every hour, which it did, so I got a lot of 58 minute snatches of sleep. Despite the ill forebodings, I was totally relaxed. Either in the zone or not paying attention, we left our friends house at about 5am to drive the hour north.

For those of you looking for the bottom line, here it is. There is more color commentary following.

60 starters, 44 finishers. I was 23rd with a time of 26:10
Loop 1 – 5:07
Loop 2 – 6:18
Loop 3 – 7:35
Loop 4 – 7:18

Clockwise loops (1 & 3) were 5:07 and 7:35
Counterclockwise loops were – 6:18 and 7:18

So though my third and fourth loops are a little hard to compare because they’re in opposite directions, I ran 75-100 faster than 50-75 by 17 minutes. I’m happy about that. Pace worked out to about 15:40/mile.

I must say that a great first experience was starting a race to the sound of ocean waves on the beach and a real foghorn. I did almost miss the start and forget my water bottle but given that I was planning on being out there for 30 hours, it didn’t seem that big a deal to miss the start by 30 seconds. The whole event was very low-key, with about sixty runners, most all from California. I was certainly the only runner from Texas. The first loop goes clockwise and starts out with a 1.7 mile climb that gains about 1100 ft. So while (thankfully) I didn’t have to acclimate to altitude, it was a serious hike to start the day. The first aid station was approx 4 miles away so after topping out of the first climb, it was mostly downhill to Tennessee Valley where I would see Becca.

We had planned for about an hour to get there and I pulled in after 48 min or so. I ran with a very nice woman Nancy for a while heading into the aid station and as we headed out to Muir Beach, also about four miles away, she inintroduced me to a friend of hers, Karen Bonnett, and after Nancy pulled away, Karen and I got in the same gear and ran the next 46+ miles together. She is an accomplished athlete who completed a full IronMan distance triathlon THE WEEKEND BEFORE!!! Wow. She’s also an ultracyclist riding 1200 kilometeres at a time. But I’m jumping ahead.

The section from TV to Muir Beach is another serious up and down, going from about 900 feet back down to the ocean, back up again and down into Muir Beach. This is a really pretty section with amazing ocean views from high up above. Amidst the beauty, however, I already had a sense that the running that was going to most tax me was all the downhill. My guess is that less than five miles of the 25 mile loop were actually flat. So if didn’t run the down hills, then I might need more than the 30 hours I anticipated. With a 33 hour cutoff and a course record of 18:44, the math did scare me a bit. When I got to Muir Beach after about 45 minutes, I was feeling good and checked in with Becca again before pretty much heading right back out with more calories, water and a boost from seeing her. Early on, everything is possible.

Leaving Muir Beach and following another trail back to Tennessee Valley, Karen and I continued to talk and run, just enjoying the trail and the cloudy, overcast day. Another four miles back in the now familiar format of long climbs and descents on a mix of rocky trail, wide horse trail and the very rare segment of pavement. We eased through a nice downhill into the eucalyptus trees, popping out at the aid station again. Changing from a short sleeve shirt into a singlet, more calories and water, then off again at about halfway through the first loop. I was still running ahead of my schedule but wasn’t worried about it at that point.

The next section started with another mile or so climb, though more gradual, then dropped down to the ridge that we would run out and back on each loop to get to the aid station under the Golden Gate Bridge. Much of this section is exposed to some pretty strong winds from the ocean and the race director had even cautioned about hypothermia. The wind was definitely much stronger along here, maybe 20 miles/hour, but as soon as we dropped the over the ridge toward the bridge, it got warmer and calmer in a hurry. So the big 900 foot or so drop down to the Bay was a welcome respite even though tempered by the knowledge that we’d be turning right around and marching back up this steep path. Becca was totally ready at the aid station, of course, so a quick hello, picked up enough food and water for the 8-mile section to the start/finish started, then we started the steady walk back to the ridge.

Feeling strong, Karen and I made great time back to place where the trail split to this out and back and began a really long, steep descent back to the valley floor. We were moving easy, the temp was a little higher and we cruised into the aid station a little after noon, both recognizing that a 5:07 first loop was WAAAAAY too fast and more like a recipe for disaster. It was so companionable running with her that staying together was no effort and great for the spirits. To keep my pace a little more under control, I put on my heart rate monitor for the next loop. Definitely glad I did, as I was about 5-10 beats over where I wanted to be. Wearing it really helped to dial me in.

The valley was an easy jog/walk and then changed to full walking up the long climb to the out and back trail to the bridge. I have to say that I don’t remember much specific for this next loop. I was digging the weather, the company and the fact that I was feeling so good. When we got back to the split, I had the great surprise of seeing my friend Errol “the Rocket” Jones. He is one of the Bear100 co-RDs and the guy who talked to me about the Bear right after my Leadville DNF last year. He’s a great spirit and he had come out to run with some friends that morning, knowing that I was registered and looking to say hello to me, Becca nd the girls. We ran together for a while and it was another pick me up to hear his stories and enthusiasm. What a treat.

Becca continued to be upbeat and in total control of the support side of the race. She had managed to go to REI to pick up the rest of the race food and even find a bunch of non-caffeinated gel/shot blocks. That played a big part for me being able to eat and drink the entire race. She had a nice lunch on the water in Sausalito, talked to lots of folks on the phone and generally made the most of the time she had. That makes it a lot more fun for her and easier on me knowing that she’s not stressed.

Karen’s boyfriend (Nattu Natraj) was now on crew duty and planning to pace her the last 25 miles. He’s an accomplished runner in his own right with lots of ultras to his credit, including three Badwater’s, and is planning to run the Spartathalon this October. Not to mention a super nice guy who knew all about NTTR and seems to be a student of the sport. I hope to run into them both again soon. They were an ultra power couple for sure! We continued running smoothly, mostly, for the rest of the loop and pulled into the half way point at about 6:30. We both planned to regroup here. She changed shoes and picked up a pacer, I brushed my teeth. Felt like a whole new day.

Now with Karen’s pacer, we headed out for the clockwise third loop. The three of us chatted and huffed/puffed up the big climb and soon were not as connected. I was definitely moving slower than the previous loops though I still felt great. I stayed on my nutrition and hydration all day and consistently gobbled or choked down 200-300 calories per hour, which is a gigantic improvement for me. I can’t tell you how much it helps running in cool weather that lets my body work like it’s supposed to!

At the next aid station, I grabbed my headlamp and flashlight but was pretty determined to run without turning them on for as long as I could. After a slight adjustment, I was surprised at how well I was able to see and feel. Eventually I couldn’t safely move ahead, so I flipped the switch and got a pretty nasty surprise. The foggy day was turning into a foggier night and that made my headlamp nearly worthless. Just like with the highbeams in a car, when my headlamp was set on its strongest setting, I couldn’t see a thing. With the low setting I could see but only about two feet in front of me. I was getting a little tired just when I need to ratchet up my concentration, not the best combination! Getting in and out of Muir Beach, with that long, slick downhill, was uneventful but I sure wasn’t running much of the descent. More like a stiff-legged jig. Not pretty but it got the job done, I suppose.

As the fog got a lot closer to rain, I had a harder and harder time with seeing the trail. Inevitably, I missed a ribbon and turned left when I should have turned right. Just as inevitably, it seems that no one ever makes a wrong turn that takes them uphill. So after pounding downhill for about 10 minutes, it looked/sounded and felt wrong. So I trudged back up the hill just in time to catch a couple I had passed a long time ago who got me back on the right path. I was so turned around by then that I probably would have jacked it again up without their help. That probably took about 20-25 extra minutes.

Now running a little more slowly, I headed out to the ridge. When I saw Becca at the last aid station, before we crossed the ridge again, she gave me the rain coat which I had packed for her at the last minute. On this section, I really don’t know that I could have stayed dry enough to avoid hypothermia given the combination of wind, temp in the upper 40s and the moisture. I was lucky that I had the coat and that becca had enough other warm clothes to let me borrow it.

When I saw her at the Golden Gate aid station (did I mention how cool it was to have an aid station in that spot!) she was pretty worried. Even though I had pounded down to the bridge, I knew I was behind Karen and her pacer. That meant that when they got there, I hadn’t checked in and Becca’s stress level was going to go up. I was probably 90 seconds behind them because of getting lost, so the panic didn’t last long. Becca was going to stay at this aid station and not meet me at the start/finish so she could grab a few hours of sleep while I did the 16-mile roundtrip. A quick kiss, the routine fueling up, and off I went. I passed Karen and her pacer but as I headed up the fog worsened and I missed a different turn at the same freaking intersection!!!! I only let myself go for about 15 min total this time and got back on the track. I caught up with Karen at the next aid station and she was again surprised to see me behind her. A little embarrassing to say the least.

The rest of the loop was uneventful and though it was the middle of the night, I was actually pretty jazzed for the last loop. I sat down and changed shoes to my much lighter New Balance MT-100s, choked down most of a grilled cheese sandwich and headed back out. My friend Matt Crownover has a saying about the “eye of the tiger” and that’s exactly how I felt heading back out. I knew I was going to finish, barring any injury, and the course didn’t hold any surprises. It really was all about my attitude. The counter clockwise direction seemed a little tougher to me but I was ready. I cruised up the mountain steadily, saw Becca who had managed to get 3-4 hours of sleep, then headed right back up the windy and cold ridge. By the time I got to my Bermuda triangle intersection, it was daylight enough for me to realize how I had goofed up earlier. Somehow I was much calmer after seeing how I made the mistake. I settled into a serious walk up a long stretch to the top of the mountain and then ran, really ran, down to the next aid station at mile 87ish. No sitting down, no lingering… got some hot soup and kept on going with encouragement from the fantastic volunteers and my lovely wife. I would see these guys one more time but when I did, I’d be down to four miles!

Really feeling strong, I made great time to Muir Beach and hardly stopped before leaving for Tennessee Valley the last time. On the way out, walking up the hill, I passed Nancy who had been running so well for most of the race. She had had some biomechanical problems during the night and was going to mostly walk it in. She had a great attitude about her day and was still smiling at mile 92. I love this sport.

Running back along the beautiful coast, there is a long, delicious downhill to Pirates Cove, which presaged a beating of a climb up some gnarly stairs and a much longer than remembered climb back to the top. Despite feeling good at the bottom, now less than six miles from the end, I have to admit to cussing a bit about wanting some flat. But when I got to the gentle jeep road that was the trail for most of the way back TV, I ran it. The previous loop in that direction had me peg-legging it down in a way that seemed slightly mocking after coming out of Pirate’s Cove.

When I got the last aid station before the finish, I gave Becca my Amphipod waist belt (which might now be my favorite piece of running gear), put a shot block in my bottle and hammered out of there… for like 25 yards till I started the 1.5 mile climb out of the valley. Then it was back to a really strong ultra walk. I passed a number of brave people who were dealing with massive blisters and low spirits and we chatted about the finish we all knew was so close. When I reached the crest, I knew that the next 1.7 miles was going to be a struggle but I was equally determined to run it. And I did. All the way down, through the empty gun bunkers, the stairs, the painfully hard pavement and the last few switchbacks down to the beach. I can’t tell you how cool it was to come into the finish with the fog horn, the buoy bell ringing and those still crashing waves. Karen finished a few minutes behind me for first in her age group and third woman overall; just amazing. An awesome finish to one of the most enjoyable hundreds I have experienced.

Here are the overall results

The Bear 100 race report

7 10 2009

I am always amazed and impressed by those runners who quickly get out race reports with lots of details about pace, what happened between aid stations and how they felt minute-by-minute for 24+ hours. So if that’s what you like to see in a race report, you shouldn’t spend much time with this one. But if you like headlines, here’s mine The Bear 100: Long, Hard and Worth The Effort. This report it a little long; forewarned is forearmed.

I went into this race with a strange mix of prepared and terrified. I had worked hard to get ready for Leadville 100 in August, which I completed in 2004, but for some very smart reasons, I didn’t finish this year. I had hurt my back two weeks prior and despite rest and drugs and a sense of being ready, I clearly wasn’t. After leaning to the right at a 30 degree angle for most of the first 50 miles, the back spasms started and I knew it wasn’t going to be my day. So I left Leadville with my first Did Not Finish (DNF) and my tail a bit between my legs, though I know I made the right decision. It was harder on my crew (Becca, Taylor and Laura Macie) than on me, I think.

The day we were leaving Leadville, we ran into Errol Jones. He has run almost every 100-miler out there, though he’s clearly partial to The Bear where he’s one of the co-race directors. He painted a great picture of the course and the people. While it was too soon to decide whether or not I was up for it, the seed was planted.

The real driver for this summer’s 100-mile effort was to complete a qualifying race for the Hard Rock 100 in Silverton, CO. This is the pinnacle of ultra running for me but there are only a handful of races out there that, upon completion, allow me to put my name in the HR100 lottery. With a DNF at LT100, I didn’t have that many choices.

So with incredible, as always, support from Becca, I signed up for the Bear in mid-September. There was no chance to run any hills or get up early to Logan UT to acclimate at what would be, by far, the ultra with the most gain/loss of any run I had ever attempted. And with an average elevation of 7500 and topping out at 9000, the Bear is not to be underestimated.

And then there was the weather. Usually, the Bear is pretty cool (a few years ago it snowed enough to shut down roads to aid stations), this year’s run looked to be one of the hottest on record. I get plenty of hot weather running in Dallas and an 85+ day or two didn’t sound that appealing combined with so much climbing. It made the packing interesting and in the end we just put it all in there from singlets to gloves, rain coats to sunblock. Far better to have it and not need it…

We arrived on Thursday and the drive up to Logan was beautiful. The leaves were fantastic with red maples down low and golden aspens at higher elevations. We connected with another couple from Dallas, Chad and Julie Armstrong, to drive as much of the aid station route as we could. The Bear was Chad’s third 100miler but his first real mountain race and Julie was very concerned about knowing what to do as his crew. Becca was very keen to know the route and quite concerned that we only had time to make it to the 45 mile mark before we had to leave for the prerace meeting.

The prerace meeting was very low key and we ran into the Texas contingent, including Lynn Ballard from Dallas, who ran a terrific race at sub 31 hours. We also had a chance to talk with Errol, who is in charge of aid stations for the Bear and planning his 11th start there. He said the fall colors were not at their peak but that we were in for a real treat on the course.

Heading back to Logan, prerace jitters began to really set in. I was a little freaked out about what to eat; even more so than usual. I was really trying to go into Friday morning with my “stomach empty and muscles full” to minimize any issues during the race. I had some pasta while packing bags and talking through things with Becca. She might not like to run but she has a lot of insight and experience at knowing what I might need and when. She knows more than I do about it sometimes!

We were in bed by 9:30 and I had my alarm set for 2am to get up and drink a Boost before the real wake-up call at 5. Getting up both times was easy and I felt really good when we left at 5:20 for the start. It was a little cool but I started the day with a t-shirt and my camelback filled with water bottles rather than the bladder, lots of food, sunglasses and a singlet. I don’t like running with the bladder because it’s too hard to tell how much I’m drinking. I wouldn’t see Becca till 20 miles, though there was a runner-only aid station at 10 miles, so I wanted to have all my gear with me.

It didn’t take long on the steady climb out of Logan to see the beautiful valley come to life with the sunrise. After about 6 miles of mostly uphill, I stopped and prepped for a warmer day. Changing clothes is a little easier with such a fantastic view. I was moving well and enjoying the various conversations with runners from all over the country. I pulled into the first aid station way ahead of my “if everything goes perfect” 32 hour pace. I wasn’t worried because I was keeping my heart rate in the zone and eating/hydrating well. A quick water top up and I was off on the next leg.

I planned to be at the Leatham Hollow aid station by 12:30 or so and pulled in closer to 11. My stomach was starting to feel queasy, though I wasn’t concerned. At mile 20, still getting the kinks out is pretty typical. Becca put some sunblock on my shoulders; I switched to a waist pack and headed off a long jeep road to the next aid station 3mi away. The waist pack wouldn’t set right and I could hardly run without being beaten to death by the full water bottle. It was just fine as the grade was steady and it was now pretty hot. The next aid station had really planned ahead; the cold towels were a blessing. I wanted to run some of the next section so I went a little light on the water in the waist pack bottle. Dumb. My stomach got more nauseous and I ran out of water because I was moving slower and the climb was pretty steep for much of this section. I caught up with Lynn Ballard who had slowed some because of the heat as well and we suffered together for awhile.

When I got to the Cowley aid station just before 2pm, I dragged myself off to the shade and just lay down. Becca took great care of me but I couldn’t get the stomach back on track. After burning 25 min there, I slogged out looking less than the picture of health. I was still drinking well but getting any food down was pure discipline. That damned watch going off every 20 minutes to remind me to eat was getting faster and faster. It seemed like I had no sooner finished choking down a hammer gel than it was time for a Shot Blok. I finally got sick enough that I pulled out my secret nausea weapon from Julianna Crownover, Zofran. This powerful anti-nausea drug is often used for chemo patients and Julianna had some because of her serious morning sickness and it was a “Bear” present from her. When I sat down at about 8:30hours into the race, I needed it bad. But nothing happened. When an hour had gone by and I still felt lousy, I was officially worried. I had barely covered 50k and suddenly the next 70 miles was looking like a very, very long way. The stunningly beautiful setting was all around me but I wasn’t in the right spot to enjoy it, sadly.

And then, as I was getting more and more wrapped around the axle, it hit me. I figured out why I was feeling so bad: caffeine. I usually take in an espresso gel with 50mg of caffeine and include shot bloks for the rest of my nutrition. I had not taken into account that my favorite flavor had recently added 100mg of caffeine/package. So I was rather consistently getting 240 calories and 150mg of caffeine an hour. I only drink green tea, so this was a lot of caffeine! I later figured out that that was more than the equivalent of a cup of coffee every hour for almost 11 hours. No wonder I thought I was going to heave, and tried my best to, for so long. Becca went into high gear finding non-caffeinated food and after a longish aid stop at mile 45 to get ready for the night, I was off again.

Though I knew I had hours till the caffeine worked its way out of my system, just having an answer made a huge difference in my mental state. I wasn’t able to run much but with so many hills, I really just kept on grinding out the miles. Nothing pretty about my style but I had made up my mind that I was going to finish the Bear. The stars coming out helped. One of the most spectacular nights ever; at least when I managed to pull my eyes up from the trail. I saw a shooting start that must have lasted 10 seconds; simply amazing. Those little things matter.

I rolled into Tony Grove at mile 51 around 9pm, starting to come down from the caffeine. Shaking like crazy and a headache coming on, Becca got me some hot soup which tasted great. She had made friends with the aid station folks because she was helping so many people and one of the guys saved her the last can of soup for me. I brushed my teeth and shivered out a little after 9:30p. The next aid station was about 10 miles and mostly downhill. But this was probably the slowest part of the course for me. I was not recovered from the caffeine overdose and I just couldn’t find a gear. I was proud that I kept moving steadily but speed was not even in the cards.

From Franklin Basin, it’s four miles up and four miles down to Logan River. I don’t remember much. Trudging, trudging, trudging is about all I can report. When I get to the aid station at mile 70 around 4am, I finally felt myself coming back to life. John Sharp from San Antonio dropped here, which is always tough to see, and Becca helped take care of him for the next 12 hours or so. They had a gigantic bonfire going, which is both great and a huge mistake as it can trick runners into getting comfortable. They also had hot towels that felt better than any Four Seasons spa and some more hot soup. It really revived me, along with the approximately 100 Tums I had chewed in the last several hours, and I was ready to roll. I crossed the river, fell in of course, and then climbed up the next pass like a new man.

I ran into the 76 mile aid station feeling pretty good at 7am. The sun had come up and I had less than a marathon to go. All night long I had been putting on and taking off my coat, gloves and hat (which I almost hadn’t even bothered to pack!) It was cold in the hollows and warm up high so it almost never stayed the same temp for long. I couldn’t wait to give all that stuff to Becca so when I left, I was just in a tshirt. Also dumb. I just about froze the next 90 minutes as we crossed, finally, from Utah into Idaho. I was in a good enough mood to enjoy that moment but it was just another step along the way, so not much celebrating. The next aid station, Gibson Basin, was runners only and I stopped long enough for water and some undercooked ramen, then actually started running across this gorgeous basin ringed by aspen. Finally the downhill was the one that led to the Beaver Creek aid station at 86 around 10:15am. I switched back to my old shoes, which felt great, had perhaps the best potato soup I have ever had in my life and got back on the trail.

I really think the last 14 miles were the toughest of the entire race. Steep ups and downs kept it interesting though hard to find a steady pace, as if such a thing could be found! A big section of this leg was out in the open above 8500 feet. So it was hot by now, dry as a bone with humidity in the single digits and a wind whipping up the baby powder-fine dust into a less than ideal breathing environment. Even though it was only 7 miles away, it seemed like that final aid station at mile 93 just kept moving further and further away.

Finally, Ranger Dip station came into view around 12:30pm. Seven miles to go, with the steepest climb of the course right out of the aid station and then a monster downhill, losing 3000 feet of elevation in six miles. Most of that loss comes in a two miles section that felt like falling off a cliff. I was amazed at the several runners who came by like they were either being chased by demons or protected by angels. Allan Wrinkle, a terrific runner who I had passed long ago came gliding down the hill like a ghost. He was impressive! I was terrified of falling and jacking up my back so close to the end. These guys saw nothing but the finish. Downhills after so many miles can really take their toll on a runners quads, so I was even more in awe.

I ran down the mountain as fast as I could and picked up speed when it changed from deadly to just steep. Only one place on the course had I gotten lost and now, with the finish line less than 3 miles away, the course markings changed and I burned 10 precious minutes chasing my tail. Finally, I just decided to plunge ahead and crossed the last creek before turning down the dirt road to the finish. Somehow I had in my mind, not exactly high functioning after 33 hours, that once I got to the dirt road I was almost done. Not exactly. It was freaking ENDLESS…no other word. Lots of nice people on ATVs telling me I was getting close but all I saw was pink tape telling me I had more to go! Then, I heard some traffic and saw a man at an intersection who looked like he was there to help runners. He shuffled with me for the 20 yards along the highway and then he pointed the way to finish, another short 30 yards away. Chad, who ran a very solid 32 hours, and Lynn had already finished and were the first to cheer, along with Julie and Becca.

33:17 was the finish time. My feet were in really good shape, though my calf muscle was pretty wrecked and I think it will be another week or so before I’m running. I was about as dirty and disgusting as I’ve been after a run and maybe more satisfied. I ate two veggie burgers and we rolled out for the 50 mile drive back to Logan. Becca was zonked, she had about 20 min sleep during the whole thing, and was out by 8:30p. I was a little wired and stayed up till after 10pm, making it about 41hours without sleep.

Most importantly for me, I completed a Hard Rock qualifier so I can put my name in the lottery this January…only an 18% chance for someone in my position so have to keep my hopes in check.

This is a first class race with incredible race management and volunteers. It’s so organized that the three RDs all run the race! I highly recommend the whole experience. I want to thank Becca again. She was amazing not just as my crew but in helping out so many other runners and their crews. I am so lucky to have her in my life and having her in my running world is just icing on the cake