Summiting Buford Mountain

The forecast called for ridiculous cold and high winds.  Luckily, that didn’t happen until after I got off the mountain.  I went down to Bismark, MO in preparation for Caballo Blanco Ultra in Mexico. It’s about 1 1/2 hours out of St. Louis and, hey, it’s a mountain and the 3rd highest peak in Missouri, so, why not?

First, the details: The Buford Mountain Conservation Area is a 3,824 acre piece of land that, according to legend: “was purchased by the Missouri Department of Conservation from the Nature Conservancy in 1979. The area was named after its settlement in 1812 by William Buford, who acquired the land through a Spanish Land Grant.” So, history abounds!  The trail is a 10.5 mile lollipop that has another trail that branches off it about halfway around the loop. I didn’t take it, but will probably explore next time I get down there.

GPS was little help finding the actual entrance (taking me down a dirt road that ended in a fence), but it got me in the general area.

They haven't built a pink gate that can hold me! :)

They haven’t built a pink gate that can hold me! :)

The gates were closed, but I was able to park, run up the road about a 1/4 of a mile, and then onto the trails.  Beautiful start to the day, temperature-wise, and once on the trail, I really enjoyed it.

Up we go!

Up we go!

The trail basically goes straight up to the peak of Buford at 1740 feet! (not meters) to start, gaining 350 feet in the first mile and a half, up Screaming Calves Hill.

Eyes down, calves tight!

Eyes down, calves tight!

Nearing the second summit

Nearing the second summit

From there, you come down the other side, dodging rocks and mud, but with the occasional runnable sections, then back up to Bald Knob, for a great view!

I can see for miles...

I can see for miles…

After Bald Knob, you hit the start of the loop.  I decided to go clockwise and it became a bit more runnable as you head down the other side of BK. Then your into the flats, making the loop, a little bit of up and down.  Re”summit” BK and Buford on your way back, and then it’s 1 1/2 miles to home.

Don't follow the tunnel trail straight!

Don’t follow the tunnel trail straight!

"Mountains" looming in the distance...

“Mountains” looming in the distance…

Like the scene of a long forgotten battle...

Like the scene of a long forgotten battle…

Total elevation gain was just about 2100 ft for the 10.5 miles.  It was about 2.5 to the loop, about 5.5 around the loop and then 2.5 back.  The trail was “eyes down” technical in a lot of places (at least for me)

Behold my leisurely pace…

And of course, a visit to Buford Mountain without eating at Lady Queene is a missed opportunity!

You're not just my Queene, you're my Lady

You’re not just my Queene, you’re my Lady

And, don’t forget the mines!


All in all, a good day out.  I’ll come back to explore the “tunnel” trail and do the loop counterclockwise (which might be a tad bit more runnable in that direction).

Next stop- Urique and the Copper Canyons of Mexico to run with the Tarahumara on March 1st!

The idiot

Putting Together 2015 Race Plans? Consider Ultra Adventure Races!

For all my runner friends, this looks like a lot of fun!


It’s that time of year again. The one where many of us are either resting up or winding down and already have thoughts toward our 2015 race schedule.

For me, my race calendar changed dramatically when I was selected to participate in Ultra Adventures ambassador program! What drew me to the Ultra Adventure races (aside from already being registered for Zion), was the location of their events.

The races take place in (or around) the Grand Circle – one of the most scenic areas of the United States. The Grand Circle also boasts the highest concentration of National Parks in the country, with many UA races traversing through them. For someone who loves some scenery when I run, this was the perfect fit.

UA currently has seven races on the books, with a few more to be announced at a later date. For now, there’s:

View original post 271 more words

Make Tracks for the Zoo Race Report

The most impressive 1/4 mile you’ll ever hear about… Ok, so I’m a bit biased.  My three year old son just ran his first race today and he did an incredible job!

SONY DSCWe arrived at the start a bit early so Joseph could go through his pre-race rituals (climbing trees and talking with other racers).  SONY DSCIt was hot, but he had hydrated on the way over and he felt good.  At a little before 9, we got the notice to line up and we shuffled forward with the other racers.  I was pacing Joseph and it was evident that, in the 6 and under category, more than a few runners had pacers as well.

Our plan was to run to the turnaround point and run back. I’ve found simple plans usually work best.

The horn went off and we got moving.  It was a little congested at first, and Joseph wasn’t really able to hit his stride until we had gone about 50 feet or so.  Then it opened up and he started to feel out a sustainable pace.  We kept on for the next few hundred feet when potential disaster struck.  A collision with another runner sent Joseph to the pavement. He was distraught and had a small contusion on his knee, but after a brief inspection and kiss, he was ready to go again.  As we neared the halfway point, however two more obstacles lay in our path.

The first was the Children’s Hospital mascot.  He was unfortunately extremely lovable, so we had to give him a hug.  This may have cost us some time, but Joseph felt energized after the hug- for about 20 seconds.  Then, obstacle two- the Missouri State University Bear, Boomer, was lying in wait around the corner.  He also required a hug and then with a very polite, “thank you” and “good bye”, we were off again.

SONY DSCIt was hot, and my son soon demonstrated a passion for trail running as we left the road and ran in the grass for a little while.  SONY DSCWe soon saw mommy, and then it was back on the street and a sprint to her.  With only a few feet to go, we picked up the pace and crossed the finish line, receiving a ribbon SONY DSCand a well deserved drink from the volunteers.

SONY DSCThen it was off to run through the fire hydrant spray for about 1/2 an hour.  SONY DSCIf I need a lift on my next run, all I have to do is remember this picture! :)SONY DSC

Here we go!

Ok, posting from the road today. Just completed two days of 5-6 mile runs as I start to get ready for the next challenge- 50 miles at the DWD Green Swamp race in March. Yesterday was on some nice farm roads in rural Texas and today was nearly 7 miles with my lovely wife on a technical, but fun trail.

My goal is to do 20-40 miles per week, with one long weekend (back to back 20s) a month. I’m also going to incorporate strength training based on something called CrossFit Endurance. Never tried, but I’ll see how it goes, and let you know my progress. The race is going to be flat, so my hill work would be minimal. However, you know I’m not stopping at one race in March, so, if I’m lucky, I’ll be running the Double Chubb (50k) a month later. That means, strength training, hill training, all fun and games. I’ll be testing out some equipment along the way, so I’ll intersperse training with reviews. So, there’s the “idiot” part.

For the inspired part, I was sent this story back in August, and was remiss in not posting it. It’s a great story about a cyclist named George Swain who had a serious accident in 2010 and has recovered and is back full force. The story is here. Enjoy!

The idiot


Recap of the Run- Day 2

July 3, 12:00 AM local time. We’re 21 hours into the run, having covered almost 58 miles, I’m wiped out.  I haven’t been able to keep anything down and if it wasn’t for the kids my crew, their motivation and pacing, I wouldn’t even be here at the top of Townes Pass- 4956 feet.  Right now, they’re discussing my options, which have dwindled down to two.  I either keep something down and move forward, or we come off the course.

In my mind, it’s only one, I cannot stop at this point and won’t let my stupidity (pushing too fast and too hard in the heat and during the climb) end this.  After a fitful rest, I’m feeling a little better and decide to press on.  It’s now 1:30 in the morning.  I should have been able to sleep more, but couldn’t.  We decide that, to get my 300 calories, my 500-800 mg of sodium and my water, we’d try using just Perpetuem.  A strawberry-vanilla sports drink that sounds disgusting, but is weirdly something I can keep down.  We start down Townes Pass.  The rest has given me some relief and we cover the next 14 miles in 3 hours, 15 minutes.  It’s downhill, so we’re moving pretty quickly, and at the bottom of the Father Crowley climb, the lack of nutrition catches up with me again.  It’s now 3:30 in the morning, sun not yet up, and I need something more substantial than liquid nutrition if I’m going to cover the next 74 miles.  A memory surfaces from my 24 hour race and I discuss it with my coach- what if we tried solid food?  It’s against 25 years of coaching experience to eat solids in this type of race- the body has to work doubly hard to break down and digest the food, and water absorbs into the body more slowly as the food soaks it up.  It did, however work for me in my 24 hour race, so he’s willing to try it.  It’s either that, or we try to go back to the gels, something that turns my stomach just thinking about it. We decide to take another break and wait for the small restaurant at Panamint to open.

I have eggs, sausage and some breakfast potatoes, and I feel the normalcy return.  We get going again at 8:00, and start up Father Crowley.  An 8 mile, 2500 feet climb that officially takes us to higher altitude for the rest of the run.  We get to the top at 11am (now 80 miles into the run), rest for a few minutes, change clothes and start a section that is rolling hills, but will take me first to my furthest distance (92 miles), then my first 100 miles.  But before that, we need a nutrition plan.  We can’t keep going back to Panamint, and we don’t have much in the way of regular food.  Again the memory speaks to me: McDonald’s Cheeseburgers.  Each one is 300 calories, and 700 mg of sodium (think about that next time you get a craving!).  We are now only about 30 miles from Lone Pine, the big town at the base of Mt. Whitney and officially the 120 mile mark.  We take another break, at the Darwin Road at 3 pm, mark the spot where we stopped (the rules say if you come off the course, you need to come back to exactly where you came off and restart) and head into town.  I eat two cheeseburgers and we decide that the crew will make turkey wraps (one tortilla, four pieces of turkey and one piece of swiss cheese) which I’ll eat once an hour.  We’ll also break my salt pills into my water just in case the pill dumping it all at once into my system was part of the cause of my nausea.  We get back to the spot after about two hours and I’m ready to roll!  Once again McDonald’s saves the day!

From there, it’s on to the 100 mile mark and darkness…

We hit the 100 mile mark at about 7:35 pm, just as the sun is going down.  A little celebration, a few pictures, and then it’s off again.  We’re met soon afterwards by Marcia Rasmussen.  She’s the unofficial record keeper of solo events like ours, and after finding out about my run, she and her husband drove 6 hours to see us!  Not only that, she agrees to pace me for a bit, which turns into the next 14 miles!

As the darkness descends, we get to one of the easier, yet more monotonous parts of the course.  20 miles of nothingness to Lone Pine.  My feet are really starting to hurt, so I stop to lance some blisters, then re-bandage and tape the toes.  I also end up cutting two holes in my shoes to keep the toes from rubbing.  Because my feet have swollen, they’re pressing on the shoes, making it almost unbearable to walk.  Lucky for me, Marcia has a number of stories from past Badwater experience and she keeps me focused, moving forward and out of traffic.  This is where, due to lack of sleep and overall exhaustion, many runners experience hallucinations.  However, there are no Hamburglars coming out of the desert tonight, and we stumble into Lone Pine at 2:15 AM, a little over 47 hours into the run.  Little did I know, but the GPS tracker had stopped working.  On a positive note, the other GPS tracker had found us and reported our position.

There was a (very) short discussion on whether or not I should press on and climb to the Whitney Portals, and it was decided that rest was a better option.  I had no desire to stumble around at 8000 feet in the darkness, my feet were killing me, there weren’t any records I was trying to break, and we were already way ahead of the 60 hour goal we had set.  I had about 15 miles to go to the portals, then another rest until the 5th because we couldn’t go the last 11 miles to the summit without the July 5th permit.

So, 120 miles, dropping into a bed at 2:30am, I get my first and only hallucination.  It’s hard to describe, but essentially I was trying to pull the sheets up, but kept missing the edge.  My brain said I caught the sheet edge, so the sheet “disappeared” on me three or four times before I actually caught it.  3.5 hours of sleep took me to a total of about 6 hours since we left Badwater.  I woke up ready to tackle the first part of the mountain.

GPS links

Had some requests for the links to the GPS sites. Wanted to keep them near the top:

two GPS linked maps here: SPOT TRACKER

and here:

TRACKING THE WORLD (this one relies on the cellular network to transmit to the map, so if I appear to be stopped for a long period of time, don’t worry!)

May do some intermittent testing, but we go live at 0300 local time (0500 STL)

How was your week?

Now with the run only about 5 weeks away, my preparation is as much about heat training as it is mileage.  Luckily, it’s getting hot here in St. Louis.  A question I get more and more is: How are you training for a run like this?  Do you have to run a million miles a week? Not quite…

While I don’t do the same thing every week, this past week is as close to “typical” as I’ll get.  Going forward, the mileage will probably taper off a bit (although I’m going out to Death Valley this coming weekend to run different sections for a total of 40-50 miles) as we get closer, and I’ll focus on just being in a heated environment to round out my training.  So far this year, I’ve run over 860 miles, and knock on wood, my body is still holding up!

Sunday- Double duty today because I had to go out of town for a conference. So, I ran 8 miles in the morning with no heat load (basically running like everyone else out there).  I was lucky that the hotel I was staying in had a dry sauna, so I spent an hour in a 150 degree sauna.  I took breaks (to go out and get water) totaling 1 min 30 sec, so stayed in the extra 1:30 at the end to get a full 60 in the heat.  Oh, and I read a few articles and did 100 crunches while I was in there (you’d be surprised how boring sitting in a sauna for an hour can be).

Monday- Usually it’s a “rest” day, and the conference was sponsoring a 2 mile fun run, so I did that and not much else.

Tuesday- A more serious day than Mondays in general.  My goal was to do 10 miles with a “medium” heat load (basically a long sleeve running shirt and sweatpants inside).  I gave myself credit for the 2 miles from the previous day, so did 8, but was sweating quite a bit, so felt like I had done what I needed to do.  The only problem was that the conference started at 7:30 eastern time, so to get it done I had to get up about 3:30 local time.  I’ve seen 5 hour, but do they sell 15 hour energy?

Wednesday- Max heat load day.  10 miles starting at a 1% grade for mile 1, 2% for mile 2, etc. up to the halfway point and 5% at mile 5, then dropping by 1% down to mile 10.  Total elevation gain- 1320 feet.  For this, I was in my wetsuit pants, thermal top, silver pvc suit, thermal gloves and thermal hat. I got the room up to 85 degrees and got going. Gloves and hat lasted the first three miles, then I had to get rid of them. After 6 miles, i had to take off the silver top and stop the heater, but kept everything else on. After 8 miles, I turned the heater back on and put the silver pvc top back on for the last 2 miles. I took three 2-3 minute breaks during the time, but stayed in the room.  Overall, it took me 2 hours 46 minutes to do 10 miles.  Hot and slow…

That’s meant to be a smile!

Thursday- Light head load, 10 miler.  Because of time constraints, I had to break it up into a 6 mile run in the morning and 4 miles at night.  Strangely, I felt much better running today than yesterday!  So much so that I ran my fastest 6 miles ever taking just over 48 minutes for an 8:04 pace.  4 miles on the treadmill at a 9:15 pace finished the day.Friday- Sauna again.  160 degrees, no crunches, just getting through it.  Brought in a book- The Heart and the Fist.  Great story about a guy from St. Louis and his experiences before and after becoming a Navy Seal.

Saturday- 20 miles.  Half outside with no heat load, half inside with medium heat load, but a bit of a climb…Did the first 10 running through the Loop and Clayton.  Then back home for 2 miles at no incline, and then 8 miles at an 8 degree incline to simulate the climb to Father Crowley Point.  The climb starts at mile 72.3 and 1,970 feet and goes to mile 80.2 and 4,000 feet.  I ramped the heat up to 91 degrees, full nylon sweatsuit and gritted it out.  The 8 mile climb I did at an 18 min/mile average.  A combination of running and walking (oh and sweating a bit too)

Sunday- Tomorrow, I have a 10 mile run in the heat of the day.  It’s supposed to be 96 tomorrow, so no worries about getting enough heat!

So, technically that’s 8 days, but hopefully you get the idea.  It seems like a lot, but I keep reminding myself that the kids have a real struggle, mine’s manufactured.  It keeps me moving forward.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 348 other followers