I started my endurance training at a young age when my dad made us watch his favorite movie, Lawrence of Arabia. The only thing longer than this epic is my recent 47+ hour finish at the Hardrock 100 miler. Hardrock is tough, but I tend to understate.
Arguably, it was written that I was doomed coming from Southern California, where the sea-level air is thick enough to chew and a 58 degree day is a real weenie shrinker.
So when I felt a storm a-comin’ between Pole Creek and Sherman (mile 25), I giddily donned my brand new rain jacket. This was going to be fun! …Ow? Owww. Ow, ow, ow, shit, ow! Hail pellets whizzed by, striking my neck, my back, etc. I’m going to insist that this was especially unpleasant for the boys and will be adding a jockstrap plus cup combo to the Hardrock critical gear list.
Around this time I stopped eating regularly. Why? Because I’m a dummy. I must have subconsciously decided to maximize the misery because this is Hardrock, damnit. My breathing resembled Stevie’s from Malcolm in the Middle. I had a headache all day long from trying to recall that word that starts and ends with ‘he’.
I had fallen off the (Arabian) proverbial camel. Cassie insisted that nothing is written and took it upon herself to get me back in the saddle. So, she set off with me from Grouse Gulch (mile 42) for what would be the slowest 30 miles of her life, besting her previous record from pacing me at last year’s Hardrock.
We were aiming for Kroger’s Canteen, which would mark the start of day two and the high point of our Hardrock journey together. We staggered our way out of Ouray, trough a tunnel, over a scary bridge, and up, up, up. And up, up, up. It felt like a long stumble home after an awesome night out with my best friend. We perked up when the sun came out and had a blast making our way up the snowfields to Kroger’s.
Coming into a toasty Telluride, Cassie got me back on the camel and now it was Jon’s turn to drag me back to Silverton. Jon Davis happens to be the third best in the world at dragging donkeys through mountains, so I was in good hands…or something? I followed a cutout of Beyoncé in a ziplock bag taped to Jon’s back. She’s just so inspirational, and way better than Taylor Swift.
At Chapman (mile 82) I had my signature Beyoncé moment when Jon and Cassie looked at me kinda funny, forcing me to announce, “You guys, try to understand that I’m a little overwhelmed right now!” I had to ensure that my diva reputation was not tainted by a drama-free race.
Jon and I slogged through the uphills with me setting the pace. Slowly, slowly, slowly, getting slower. Hoping to get me moving, Jon played some clever tricks that I fell for at the time. Like insisting that the weather was going to take a turn for the worse at any moment and we had to move right now! I’d question Jon’s judgement of the sunny Colorado skies, but he’d confidently reassert himself and I’d buy it. The man could sell a star to an astronomer.
I learned a lot out there about myself. Like if I’m awake for 40+ hours and you pick a rock, any rock, I will show you the face in that rock. I also learned to never go in against a Salvesen when Hardrock is on the line!
Five more miles to go. I was surely going to finish the thing, barring a catastrophe. Four more miles to go. I snapped my hiking pole. Three more miles to go. I sleepily stepped off the trail and got a little scraped up. Two more miles to go. Emotionally overwhelmed after crossing the river, I puked chunks of joy. One more mile to go.
With the finish line in sight, Cassie and Jon triumphantly rode the camel into Silverton with me barely clinging on. The Lawrence of Arabia theme blasted down from the mountains. Arriving at the two-ton sandstone Hardrock, Cassie and Jon locked eyes with Dale (the race director) and spoke softly but firmly, “Nothing is written.” I kissed the rock, then promptly fell asleep on the grilled cheese sandwich that Michael Wardian kindly prepared with avocado for extra cushion.
Great write up Greg, you’ve got some writing skillz! Big congrats on your finish, and happy eating! (we met at UROC ’14)
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