Sunday, July 18, 2010

Hardrock 2010 Race Report

I guess I should write this since I didn’t write one last year after my DNF. I will break this report into two parts. One part will deal with the technical and training aspects and the other will deal with the mental part. Read at your leisure.

Training and Preparation:

# of races I signed up for in 2010 that I didn’t actually run:
Texas Marathon
Bandera 100K
Houston Marathon
Hells Hills 50 Miler

# of Beers per week since April 2010:
1 case minimum.

# of miles run per month since April. (From Daily Mile account)
April – 125 (60 of these at The Guads in 36 hours)
May – 16 plus 18 at Pocatello Total 24.
June – 50 (40 of these at San Juan Solstice which I DNF)

# of John’s Garage workouts:
Not sure but not more than 20ish. See sample here.

# of Races I actually ran and completed since January:
2 – Nuecues Marathon about 5hrs 10 min. and Prickly Pear 50K 5:06 both in March.

Books that had the most influence on me before this run:
Slow Burn – Stu Mittleman
The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand
The Virtue of Selfishness – Ayn Rand

Race Details:

Night before race dinner: Brisket, cornbread, tater salad.
Race morning breakfast: yogurt and nectarine.

Power walked / shuffled almost every section except for a little bit into Telluride, Governor, and Ouray. Ran down Handies into Sherman.

Ate 1 lemon drop every 30 minutes for 46.5 hours. Sometimes added a few jelly beans for extra sugar. Had some olive oil when I felt I needed it. Used some of my molasses and cane syrup mix but not too much. Ate a few packs of peanut butter crackers throughout the race. Had about 5 gels the last 29 miles also.

KT: Two Pieces of cheesy bread with added olive oil.
Chapman: Cookies, soup, biscuit, nectarine, myoplex drink.
Telluride: Nectarine, myoplex drink.
Kroger’s Kanteen: Soup broth with olive oil.
Governor Basin: I forgot.
Ouray: I forgot.
Engineer: Mac and cheese. It was light on the cheese, but added olive oil.
Grouse Gulch: I forgot this too. But had shitty climb up Handies. Probably shoulda ate more.
Sherman: Breakfast Burrito. Umm, Umm, good.
Pole Creek: coffee and soup broth with added olive oil.
Maggie Gulch: Forgot.
Cunningham: Myoplex drink, nectarine, took Ziploc bag of spaghetti up the climb.

Started race with MT100 till Chapman. Switched to Cascadias till Grouse Gulch. Then wore North Face till the end with two pair of socks. Feet did well, just a touch of blister behind toes on pad of foot. Put Glide on my feet throughout the race.

Drank only water. Used 70oz Nathan pack and two 20oz hand-helds.

# of Calories burned during the run according to HeartRate Monitor:
20,000

# of Calories I took in during the race:
Maybe 6,000.

Max Heart Rate: 177 bpm coming down Grant Swamp.
Average Heart Rate: 132.

# of Pacers and Crew: 0
# of Days before race at altitude: 10
# of Days pre-hiking: 4


Hardrock 2010 Race Report – John T. Sharp

“Hey Uncle John, what you doing back here?” my nephew asked. “Well, Delynn, I quit the race at Champman,” I responded. “Oh, well what the hell did you quit for?” he says. “Sometimes you give it all you got, and it ain’t enough,” I told him.

Hemingway wrote in his book A Moveable Feast, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” That is how I felt about the statement, “Sometimes you give it all you got and it ain’t enough.” That was at Hardrock 2009, which I quit. Maybe I could of told him how I didn’t manage my calories properly, or how I went out to fast, or even made up another excuse; but those excuses just wouldn’t express what I felt he needed and I needed to hear. A statement that says we are not all-powerful or omnipotent. A statement that said we are human and our struggle is the struggle of the unknown. A statement which allows room for hope, but one that is final in its totality.

Fast forward to Rocky Raccoon race weekend 2010. Rocky Raccoon is a great race for all the runners but also the same weekend that the lottery results for Hardrock come out. Naresh had his I-Phone checking the HCTR list for any information. J.T. posted that him and myself were in, among others. I gave a big Rick Flair, “Whoooooo!” and a “Hell Yea, Baby!” yelling out at the awards ceremony. Now I’m in. “Nothing can stop me,” I tell myself. We won’t be having this bullshit like last year. I’m going to train like an animal. I will finish Hardrock in 2010.

The training started well. Lots of 15 degree incline treadmill work in February with intervals. One of my goals was to get so fast that I could run competitive with Josue. I worked on a Vo2 max conditioning work out called Viking Warrior Conditioning using the kettlebell. Dmitry killed the workout a few times, I think he got some hella results. In March I ran the marathon at Nuecues 50 in something like 5:10 or so. A few weeks later, the Prickly Pear 50K I ran a 5:06 or so. I was on fire. I hadn’t run that fast in 2 years, since I first started running these crazy races.

It’s funny how life gets in the way. By the end of March I just couldn’t muster the drive to get out there and get the training done. Oh, I thought about it. I knew I needed to be getting my runs in. I needed to work on my diaphragmatic breathing exercises and my core workouts, but I just drank beer. I’m not real sure where my drive went. I looked for it behind the couch, at the bar, and under the bed. It was no where to be found. I lost my “why” and in the process I quit believing in myself.

I bowed out of Hells Hills 50 mile telling Joe, “I just don’t feel like running so I ain’t coming.” I would get some motivation for a few days and get a few workouts in, but then would be kinda down in the dumps again. Then, I’d drink more beer and put my training off.

Towards the end of April the HCTR and Tejas Trails groups would go out to the Guadalupe Mountains for a training weekend. I convinced myself that I really should go and that this would be the start of my training, for real this time. A lot of friends I have made in the running community were there. Yes, moral support. This weekend is what I need. Its funny how in a crowded room, some people can be alone. I am one of those people and during the weekend at the Guads, I was alone in my mind. I went out for 20 miles the first day, alone. I needed to just be alone. What for? I still do not know the answer to that question. I was probably looking for that spark I found back in 2008 when I was there. No spark to be had. After 30 miles the next morning and a trip up to the peak that night, still, nothing.

The first of May, I was really bullshitting myself. This is it, no more pussy-footing around. I’m getting serious. I bought my plane tickets for Pocatello 50 and San Juan Solstice. That motivation lasted for about a week so I did get a few quality workouts in. Mostly, I would do my garage core workouts, no running really. I even contacted the San Antonio Fit organization about being an assistant coach for the 4 hour to 4:15 marathon group. The organization leader said that would be fine after a few questions about my experience. This would be the motivation I needed to keep me on track. Before the first training run, I sent the fella an email saying that I would, in fact, not be able to be an assistant coach because of some bullshit reason I made up. I felt bad about that, and drank more beer. My friend Thomas would call from time to time, but I would ignore his calls. Not because I didn’t want to talk to him, but because he just started training with a new coach and was really pumped up all the time and I really just wanted to quit running. I didn’t want my pessimistic attitude to rub off on him, as if that would have been possible.

I went out to Pocatello. The race was cancelled because of weather at mile 18, for me. Whew, got lucky. Now I wont have to drop because I am under trained and don’t really wanta be at this damm race anyway. So, I drank more beer. Solves every problem. Or at least puts it off as you waste your life for a while.

Just before Pocatello, I went on a work trip to Atlanta. I always peruse the book stores at the airport cause I’m a bibliophile. They usually have all the contemporary, bullshit novels and the latest biographies of your typical douche bag. Never anything of any real substance, at least in my opinion. I’d been putting off reading Ayn Rand for years. I just figured she was some bullshit writer from the 50’s. However, I always liked the noble looking statue on the cover of Atlas Shrugged that you typically see. I ended up picking up The Fountainhead. Little did I know, that in a short time, it would have a substantive effect of my sense of self, my self-esteem. I couldn’t put it down. A noble vision of man, who lives for himself. It was like reading about myself, but currently that self was in the past. Back in 1998, back in 2008, but not on that day. I ended up buying and am currently working on reading everything she has written. Funny how it took a woman to denote and layout in philosophical terms, man. The Virtue of Selfishness was another book I read between Pocatello and San Juan Solstice. I remember while reading this book I remarked, “Wow, this is how I have felt my whole life.”

Just before San Juan Solstice I confided in my friend Faye about how I didn’t really want to run anymore. How that drive and desire were gone from my heart. It was difficult for me to say out loud what I had been feeling over the past two months. I don’t recall what she said exactly, cause I was about 7 beers into a real good night of beers.

I talked with my mentor and coach, Joe about not wanting to run anymore. He says, “Hey Sharpie, you gotta change your outlook.” Just do the damm thing and don’t worry about nothing else. Just go do it. If Joe had been working in the marketing department for Nike in the late eighties or early nineties the slogan, Just Do It would have never see the light of day. Just do the damm thing, would have won the day.

I remember sitting at the airport waiting on the flight to Gunnison, for the Solstice. They were calling out the boarding order, Group 1, now 2 and finally Group 4. I picked up my bag and started walking back out to security. Ah, fuck it, I’m not going to the Solstice. I’m not ready, I can not finish this race. I ended up getting on that flight. Mostly because my friend Joe was going to be there and I wanted to run with him.

Once we cleared the timberline above Lake City, I found myself again. The San Juans are violent, deliberate, imposing, and aggressive. There may be more spectacular mountains in the world, but I’ve never seen them. The San Juans tell a man, “You may summit my peaks, but not in some half-assed way, you gotta wanta be up here.” I came to the mountains that day so that I may live again, that life began above the timberline. Only deliberate, conscious decision will take you to the top. There are no escalators, nor are there any elevators in the San Juans. You can take a Jeep tour, but you merely pass along the ridges like the false backgrounds in the studios where they filmed those old B rated westerns. When you walk up a peak in the San Jauns, you carry a little bit of with you in your heart, forever. The feeling of, I’ve just done some bad ass thing and I’m a better man because of it, becomes a part of your being. Mile 15 of the Solstice, I was going to drop, but decided against it.

About mile 20 I had an epiphany. Ayn Rand, in her objectivist philosophy, is all about logical reason. There never seemed to be any room for faith. The concept of faith, I think, would be inconsistent with Objectivism. But, faith is real. Whether that faith is in yourself or God or whatever. I was running along thinking what is that one key difference between finishing and not finishing a race? You can plan a race strategy. At what time will you make a shoe change? What food will you eat and when? Logically you have thought it all out. First A, then B, then C etc… But, because we are not omnipotent we are forced to make decisions with incomplete information. No outcome is a foregone conclusion. If it was, would life really be worth living at all? If we knew what was going to happen tomorrow and everyday after for eternity what would be the joy in getting up in the morning? When your race or life for that matter, starts to fall apart what does a man do? What does he have to fall back on? In my estimation, that thing we fall back on is faith. A belief in our self, that we do own ourselves. Like Phoebe from the Friends TV show said once, “You’re not the boss of me, I’m the boss of me.” A person cannot exist on, well so and so thinks I can do this thing so I must be able to. To truly exist you must believe with conviction that there are no mountains you cannot climb. You have the knowledge, will, heart, and determination to get a thing done.

I have believed for many years that there are essentially only two kinds of people in this world. There are those that believe they can control events (internal locus of control) and those that believe that events control them (external locus of control). In the balance, which is no balance at all, there are more external locus of control people in this world. In the ultra-running community the balance is in favor of the internal locus of control folks. How could it be any other way? Maybe that is what keeps me around, being surrounded by like minded folks eating cookies and drinking soda water all day!

Uh, back to the report. I ended up not finishing the Solstice. Joe and I walked the last 12 miles or so and one of the ladies at the last aid station gave us some beers so we stopped down the trail and drank ‘em. At that point finishing didn’t matter too much at all. Here I am, drinking a beer in the middle of the San Juans with my mentor and coach musing over something or the other.

I flew back to Texas renewed and refreshed. I remembered something my mom taught me and used to tell me all the time when we were growing up. She used to say, “You can do anything you want to, if you want to.” I posted that quote as a status on my Facebook profile on the 22nd of June. That’s the day I really, really decided. Decided that yes, I will go to Hardrock and yes, I will finish. I just knew that nothing would stop me. It’s kinda like the stories you hear about some married couples. You know the one. Where they say, “The first time I saw him/her I knew that I would marry them.” That kind of belief just becomes part of who you are, like putting your pants on in the morning. You just put ‘em on, you don’t know how you do it. They just slide on and you zip them up, just like that.

I could go on and on about the race itself. About the climbs, the downhills, the start, the finish, the people I met along the way but that’s not the critical part. Besides, if you have seen the video I made then you will already get the gist of that. I could go on about the 10 days before the race where I did the pre-hiking and worked on getting acclimatized. No, the real meat and potatoes, the tough part started about mile 88 or 89. Kind of like they all do. Anyone who has done a 100 mile race knows that the race doesn’t start till mile 80 anyhow.

The memory is still fresh. Sundown of the second day was upon me out on the trail and I had about two or three miles to go, to get into the Cunningham aid station. Probably, about 8:30 PM, or maybe 9:00 PM. I was on the top of Green Mountain headed in. The thirty-nine hours or so that I had been out there were starting to take their toll. The time at altitude was taking its toll on me. Oh, and the sleep depravation. None of these issues were really that bad per se. I was still moving well, no sprained ankles, and the mental state was fair. The ride into Cunningham is steep, down hill for few miles. Then really, really, really steep down hill for the last mile and half. Short, steep switchbacks that are almost endless, as I recall. It was full on dark by this time. You never see the aid station till you about 2K feet above it and it looks like you are almost on top of the aid station when you come in.

I could look across the valley and see the runners making the final last big hike up Dives Little Giant. A faint glow of headlamps snaking up the pass that went on forever and ever. Thomas the Train is what I thought of. Those down hills were putting a pounding on my knees and I was just walking them. I still couldn’t see the aid station, there was nothing but darkness besides my headlamp and those headlamps across the valley. Laborious breathing was the name of the game. No big, deep ones like yesterday, just a whimper. And there was till the pain in my knees, like someone jabbing a knife in them with each step, right in the front.

I had been out here for forty hours now and my race just begun. In my mind there was no longer a noble vision of man a “Randian Man”, just a shallow caricature of a man. I never cried out to God to “Please take away this pain.” It wouldn’t do any good anyhow. Not because he is not real as some suggest. God would have to be a real sorry son-of-a-bitch if at this juncture, this moment which could be the finest hour of your perseverance, to intervene. Oh no, God has given you everything that you need to complete this task. You’ve had it since you were born. You have a rational mind, free will, capacity for self-love, forgiveness of all your sins, unconditional love and everlasting life. What more could you ask God for at this moment that he has not already given you? With these resources, the only thing you must do to fulfill the mandate of your existence is to act. What is the mandate? It is merely this, to effect change, while pursuing your potential.

I laid on the trail a few times feeling sorry for myself. The pain in my knees would not subside. In my mind I started making all the compromises that we do when things get tough in our lives. Compromises like, well when I go home I’ll just say that I gave it a shot but the race was just more than I could bear. Or, it will be okay, no one will think less of me if I quit. I told myself those little white lies with which I could justify quitting. Like, I didn’t train properly etc… In my heart, as we all know at these times, I knew I was lying to myself but I didn’t care. I remember looking across at Dives Little Giant and thinking, “There is no way I can do another climb, no way.” I just wanted to stop. I decided that when I got to the aid station I would quit. I knew that by quitting I would deal with an even greater sense of regret and pain, but that would be later.

I sat down at the Cunningham aid station and Mike was there. Mike, his wife and I had eaten together the night before the race. Like all “night before the race” talk, it was about how we are going to do a good job, we will finish, etc… Mike says, “Hey buddy, how is it going?” Mike, I says, “I’m gonna drop.” “What?” “My wife and I are gonna finish this thing, hell it’s only a four hour hike into Silverton and you got seven hours,” “You can do it,” Mike told me. I looked at him kinda puzzled, with my mind racing, thinking of all the excuses I made for myself over the past hour.

With a Myoplex drink and a nectarine down the hatch I started up Dives Little Giant with a Ziploc bag of spaghetti in hand. I think I was at the Cunningham aid station for about nine minutes, maybe eleven.

I thought of a year ago and what I told my nephew. I guess I can rephrase it now. Well Delynn, “Sometimes you give it all you got, and it is enough.”

Coming into Silverton, I had always expected that there would be a feeling of elation and I would be light on my feet with a spring in my step. I thought that my heart would lift a little, knowing that I was going to get this thing done. Well, none of those things ever happened. It’s not like in the movies, this shit is for real. I figured I should at least pretend to run into the finishers chute and up the rock. I kissed the rock.

20 comments:

aka Moogy said...

Thanx for sharing Sharpie. I'm going to read this report every f'ing day after I get into HR next year. I knew that when I first met you, at Bandera a couple of years ago when y'all were coming up to Last Chance, that you were the real deal, someone that I was going to get to know and were tough as shit. But what was not as obvious as first was the amount of respect that I was going to acquire. You and Joe...that's what is all about.

Larry said...

Beautifully and eloquently written, John. Based on your training, you've proven it isn't the physical aspect that gets us through life's enormous challenges, it's the mind that transcends all the impossibilities. A lot of the experiences and thoughts you described really hit close to the heart. Not really much else to say, since you've said it all. Nice work, John! Really nice work...

Larry said...

Beautifully and eloquently written, John. Based on your training, you've proven it isn't the physical aspect that gets us through life's enormous challenges, it's the mind that transcends all the impossibilities. A lot of the experiences and thoughts you described really hit close to the heart. Not really much else to say, since you've said it all. Nice work, John! Really nice work...

Lynn B said...

Dude, you're my hero. I'm proud of you, John. Thanks so much for opening your soul to share this with us.

Lynn

Joe said...

very nice, John. Thanks for taking the time to write this up. See you at Cactus Rose.

Joe said...

Very nice, John. Thanks for taking the time to write this. See you at Cactus Rose.

olga said...

I tell you, John, honestly, you proved me wrong, and that is a wonderful feeling. Seeing you move through the miles has been excilirating, and with every checkpoint it was like a slow turn of the wheel - from "heck, did he really start?" to "my, he might just pull it off". Those who have done HR - non-competitevly - know it's a hike, and it's totally do-able...if you have the mind set. That's all there is to this 100 miler through the beautiful San Juans - have that grit, that appreciation.
I loved reading your soul. I've heard about you. May be one day I get to meet you. That dude who wrote this report. That dude who kissed the rock.
Now I got get me a book by this lady. May be she'll make me want to get back to 100 milers.

Allen W. said...

Proud of you my friend. Kindred spirits we are.

murali said...

great report, very inspiring.

GordonM said...

you sir are a phenomenon. real really well done...on all fronts...you stepped out into the darkness and came back

Ryan V. said...

Once you got it up, keep it up. Nice work, amigo

Julia Gale said...

I liked this report a great deal. Well done and thanks.

Anonymous said...

John, there's not a lot I can say that's any different from what everyone else has already stated.

You gave us a great report. This report goes way beyond just running. It's much deeper than that, and has given me lots to think about and an extra shot of motivation. Like Moogy, I'll be reading this before any race, even if it's just a 30k.

You were the very first person I ever encountered on an actual trail run, and you stayed with me, a total stranger to you, for about 10 or 15 miles to show me the ropes.

Of course, you finishing is great and we love celebrating with you, but whether you finished this or not, whether you stay running or not, you're just a first class person, and I'm just honored to be able to call you from time to time.

Jeff F said...

Very inspirational John!!

Michael Hodges said...

f yeah! Congrats!
And a great report! Hope to see you on the trails!
Smudge

Miles said...

I could print this report out, stick it on the wall, and throw a dart at it, and I know wherever it landed there would be some marvelous quote or observation. When we shared a couple laps at El Scorcho last year, I had a pretty good idea you'd be back to finish the job. And the video is freakin' awesome. As someone going through one of those deep funks, wondering whether I really want to run anymore, your report resonantes. Man, I'm even looking forward to a post-work run through the jungle-hot Houston trails later. Okay, maybe "looking forward to" isn't quite accurate. But I'll lace 'em up just the same. Take care John. Hope to share some trails with you soon. Miles

Andy said...

Hey Little John, it was great to share a moment on a rock half-way up American-Grouse. That was my turning point and I was looking for you all the way to Arrastra Gulch after that. Love your work dude, Andy

Anonymous said...

This ain't a race report, dude. This is a story about life. Joe is The Man. He's humble beyond belief and wiser than anyone I've ever known.

YOU are inspirational. You're an everyman that everyone can relate to.

Leadville and the Bear won't know what hit 'em, 'cause Sharpie's comin' to town.

Anonymous said...

wow. so honest and inspiring and raw....I agree, it is about life as much as it is running. I also agree that I am going to re-read this before every race I do from now on. Thanks so much for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

John. Wish I would have had a chance to congratulate you at the award ceremony. I thought you'd burned yourself up and wouldn't be able to finish after that hot pace you set up out of Ouray. You've got something special inside to force yourself through it after that. And, I might add, after not training too hard before the run! Roger.