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Some Recent Thoughts Only Ever-So-Tangentially Related to the Hardrock 10007/16/2015

11219476_858655780886402_2932640330241533223_oLast weekend I drove down to Silverton to spectate at the Hardrock 100. This was my sixth year at the event, but the first time that I wasn’t on some kind of crewing or pacing duty. I am a bit ashamed that it took me until July this year to venture into the the magical wonderland of high mountains that is Colorado beyond the Front Range, but it felt like this prolonged absence only intensified my amorous feelings for the majestic landscape. What a gift.

After a cold and rainy but otherwise truly fantastic few days mostly just hanging out with friends and taking in the scene, I headed back towards Boulder, but stopped off in Twin Lakes on Saturday night so as to be properly positioned for a bike ride (up, over, and back) of Independence Pass the next morning.

The ride went really well—better than expected, actually, with perfect weather—but mostly it got me thinking about other experiences I’ve had on Independence Pass. With Hardrock so fresh in my mind, the most prominent memory was that of a run I did up there with Kyle Skaggs in early September 2008, only a couple months after his paradigm-shifting run at that summer’s Hardrock.

Kyle and I lived together for the first six months of 2008, during which time we both became New Balance Outdoor Ambassadors. Trailrunner Magazine was penning a feature story about new, young talent in the sport at the time, so they asked Cliffy to do a quick photoshoot with us for the piece. I had spent the whole second half of the summer off from running with a neuroma in my foot, but I was living in Leadville working in the coffee shop there and Kyle was just finishing up his summer of alpine hydrology field work down in the San Juans. Conveniently, NB had a running media event down in Boulder (a trip during which I would take my virginal run up Green Mountain) that they wanted us to attend, so Cliffy (who is based down in Aspen), Kyle, and I decided that 12,100′ Indy Pass made the most sense as a middle-ground meeting area for the shoot.

Photo: David Clifford.

Photo: David Clifford.

After some quick sunrise snaps, we pushed Cliffy’s newborn baby in the stroller back to the parking lot and then decided it made sense to get in a run, given our spectacular alpine location.

The run was pretty typical of the kind of thing Kyle and I were into at the time: high, mountainous, a bit of adventure, finish off with a strong effort. We started out jogging along some singletrack to the ridge behind us in the photo; stubbornly stuck to a running cadence even as the path ramped up and we broached the 13k’ mark; begrudgingly fell into a scrambly hike as things turned to crags and talus; scoped the meager, late-season dab of snow that you see in the saddle on the ridgeline; skittered down some sketchy glissading, transitioned into some off-trail descending action that eventually deposited us on the road, 1000′ feet below the pass; and then proceeded to wordlessly hammer the living shit out of each other on the 15min of pavement climbing back up to my truck.

I wasn’t particularly fit as I had been only running for a week or so after taking the previous couple of months off; Kyle was already beginning to feel the effects of the post-Hardrock overtraining malaise that would ultimately precipitate his exit from the sport, but we were young and zealous and neither of us would ever back down from a challenge, however implicit and unspoken. My training log entry from that run notes, “Kyle and I need to get better at running easy together.” It was a fantastic way to start the day and also one of the last two or three real runs I would ever do with Kyle.

After our trip to Boulder, Kyle drove back down to Silverton, packed up most of his belongings (I say “most” as one Hardrock Champion’s Trophy was conspicuously left behind in his Silverton rental), and then turned right around and drove back up towards the Front Range.

Alas, just outside of Buena Vista he crashed his trusty Toyota stationwagon into a hapless deer in the rainy dark and called me for a rescue. He packed what he could fit into a duffle bag and a carry-on, left everything else (except his CD collection, which I salvaged) in the totaled and now abandoned Deer Slayer (a name that had been bestowed upon the vehicle previously—this wasn’t the first deer with which it had collided), and bedded in the Roost with me that night (roomier than you would think). The next morning I drove him over to Frisco (still raining, now with fresh snow on the peaks) where he caught a bus down to DIA for a flight to Ashland, OR (where I would follow a couple months later).

That was our final adventure in Colorado, and certainly the last running Kyle ever did here. People always ask, “what do you think about while running?” (or, as the case was here, biking). That’s what I was thinking about while biking Independence Pass last weekend.

43 responses to “Some Recent Thoughts Only Ever-So-Tangentially Related to the Hardrock 100”

  1. David Hill says:

    Very interesting insights; thanks for sharing. To my memory, you never suffered from actual OTS, just the stress fractures and other injuries that came with overtly high volume. Or am I mistaken?

  2. anton says:

    Me? Nope, just musculoskeletal stuff, nothing ever major with the endocrine system. Kyle? Definitely.

  3. elsa says:

    i’m loving these new types of posts!

  4. Ladislav says:

    very well written, it is pleasure to read this kind of stuff! greetings from Slovakia

  5. Omar says:

    Hi Anton, are u still going to take part at UTMB 2015?

  6. Aaron says:

    I often find myself thinking of people I used to hike with, or drag around and up trails when I’m out and doing my thing. I never suspected I was the only one who did this. But it certainly makes me want to dig around and see what happened to those people. Thanks for the great post!

  7. TF says:

    What ever happened to the HR trophy?

  8. Josh says:

    Tony, Enjoyable piece, I love the nostalgic vibe.
    Any thoughts on Jurek’s Appalachian adventure? Have you read ‘eat&run’?
    If so, is the Joe he refers to near the end Mr. Grant?

  9. Josh says:

    Kruppies, any thoughts on the controversy surrounding ‘go set a Watchman’ by Harper Lee?

    What’s everybody reading?

  10. runstephane says:

    Wow. I can’t wait for running thoughts but I must say this nostalgic column is splendid. Thanks for sharing these very personnal thoughts. I start thinking of Hardrock in 2007…and the 2008 edition with the stellar run by ‘I blew up my shoes’ Kyle was the first time I really follow the race. I add the pleasure and privilege to run HR100 two years later –in almost twice this time. Good memories linked to Kyle and “Indulgence.” Thanks. Keep going.

  11. Sam says:

    I’m really enjoying this new format. The old training log style was great, but, this feels a lot more sincere/authentic – for lack of better terms.

    Happy trails (roads) out there!

  12. Ian says:

    Great story about you and Kyle but sad at the same time, what a bullshit hand he was dealt with the OTS. The ultra world lost a talented runner too soon.

  13. Jordi says:

    Hi Anton, watching your feet in ‘in the high country’ I thought you also happened to have a longer second metatarsal which in my case, caused a lot of pain after a few months of running with thin-outsole shoes. Now I just read that you had some issues in your foot as well. Was it related to having second toes longer than big ones? just curious. And if it was, did it get to heal up without special treatment? or just rest and then back to running with the same shoe?
    I’m ok now but I don’t dare to go back to running with light shoes.

    Thank you in advance in case you take the time :))

  14. Mike says:

    I enjoyed this post Anton. Hopefully you will share some more reminisces.

    • Tori says:

      Until I found this I thhougt I’d have to spend the day inside.

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      That insight’s just what I’ve been looking for. Thanks!

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    • Gayle, thanks for drawing that book to my attention. I will definitely add it to my list of background reading. And I agree with you, that no matter what the type of shame, the same defenses tend to be used against it.

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  15. Pasi says:

    Hi Anton, you still remember that Monday October 8 in 2007 ?

    “But, why or how would someone like myself–who mostly believes that life is inherently meaningless, absurd–be swayed by such a notion? Because, I guess, I also believe in the freedom that we have to create meaning in our lives and that that is not a futile quest–in fact, it’s very worthwhile–and that identifying with and relating to other like-minded (or not) humans is a key part of doing that. That’s about as philosophical as I hope to get today.”

    Still reading everything with pleasure with or without your running.

    keep going ! 😉

  16. Collin says:

    Hi Anton,

    Back in 2010 when I started my own trail/ultra running adventures in Tucson, your blog was always an inspiration for me. A lot has changed since then–I got married and my wife and I welcomed our first son 3 months ago. In the meantime, we moved to Colorado (Air Force), and we’ve been loving the trails. My wife suggested we visit Boulder this coming weekend. We are going to do some camping, and I decided I’m going to run up Green Mountain. I’m excited to trace the steps you’ve taken so many times. Thanks for continuing to inspire and entertain, I owe you so much for showing me how training and adventure and joy can all exist together. Any recommendations on good places to camp with access to boulder and Green Mountain? Thanks!

    • anton says:

      Hi Collin — camping immediately around Boulder is basically nonexistent. The closest camping is probably in the national forest around Nederland, just west of Boulder.

  17. Benton says:

    Great Post as always Anton, thanks for sharing!

  18. Peter says:

    This gave me a flashback to (many years ago) reading the race report you wrote of you and Kyle running a 50k (maybe 50 miler?) on the Bass Pro founders property.

  19. CDG says:

    Any insight as to why Skaggs was so disgusted with Hardrock? It’s one thing to burn out or retire on top; conspicuously leaving behind one of the most envied trophies in running is another matter entirely.

    • Boppers says:

      @CDG

      Perhaps the answer to your question lies in the realization that, it’s not about the trophy/medal, but the experience? Kyle seemed quite minimalist, as Tony, and I’m sure didnt give a second thought to leaving behind his trophy. Plus, the person who stumbled upon it now has an interesting story. I’m sure Kyle considered that ..

    • anton says:

      I’m pretty sure he didn’t run Hardrock to get a trophy.

  20. Josh says:

    Anybody following the Tour de France?

    Thoughts on Jurek’s recent Appalachian record?

  21. Bevo says:

    Keep the posts coming, AK.

  22. MTman says:

    Really enjoyed this one.
    Skaggs’ Hardrock performance still sends chills up my spine.
    Something very special occurred in the San Juans that day.

    This still remains one of my favorite running pics.
    (Ultra Running Aug 08 cover)
    http://i.imgur.com/ZmVWGNK.jpg?1

    Do you happen to know if he runs at all now, even recreationally?

    Thanks for the insight Anton.

  23. asdf says:

    For everyone asking about Skaggs, an article from this month sheds some light on his story and current whereabouts:

    http://www.outsideonline.com/1986361/running-empty

    Of course, I’m sure Antons info would be the best source of knowledge.

    @MTman – I too love that picture.

  24. Josh says:

    Asdf,Thanks for the link.

    Anton, any thoughts? you get mentioned quite a bit.

    • anton says:

      Yeah, that article was weird. During my interview, I specifically made the distinction with the author about the difference between OTS (which I see as an endocrine/adrenal system issue) and the musculoskeletal system breaking down (my issue my entire running lifetime). Yet I get lumped in with all the OTS stuff in the article. Obviously, musculoskeletal overuse injuries are technically a result of “overtraining”, but, again, I’ve never had any serious problems with my endocrine/adrenal system (probably because my injuries force me into too-often extended breaks from training!).

  25. Martin says:

    Great post. Fun and interesting to read about such thoughts and experiences. Thanks!

  26. Collin says:

    Anton, we ended up camping off west Magnolia Road near Nederland, thanks for the advice. I enjoyed my adventure up Green, then Bear and finally South Boulder Peak, and then back across the Mesa Trail. You’re blessed to have such a wilderness in your back yard. We can’t wait to come back to Boulder. Snooze serves up a mean brunch too!

  27. Nick says:

    Tony,
    I have been a long time follower and still remember what I was doing when I read you had broken your leg. I was wondering if you are following Rob Karr and his recent injury and his new trainer who feels that in a years time Rob will be stronger and will run injury free?

  28. Ryan Hampton says:

    Hey Tony!

    I am looking to experience the grand teton for my first true alpine attempt, this June. Preceding the Bighorn 100. I have never been West of Missouri, well, not really, I spent a day tramping around Red Canyon in Vegas a few years back, but nothing like the grand. I have some mountaineering experience. I submitted Mt. Washington in NH in FEb a few years back in some shit weather. I currently climb 5.11 with some effort. Anyways, I’m hoping get some beta from an ultra runner on the GT to see if this is something to attempt FS or not. I don’t think I’ll hear back but hope I will. Please feel free to email. Best,
    Ryan

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