Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Yours Truly, Mr. February 2021

I recently heard about this stupid running challenge a few of my friends had accomplished called the "Calendar Club". These silly fools had attempted (and completed) the feat of running the number of miles which matched the day of the month, every day, for the entire month they opted to tackle this in. Simple on paper, but unimaginably difficult; run 1 mile on the 1st of the month, 2 miles on the 2nd, 3 miles on the 3rd, and so-on and so forth for the entirety of their chosen months. 

Success in this challenge equates to running nearly 500 miles in a 31 day month! No thank you.

Insert February, 2021... 

Thanks to peer pressure and a healthy fear of missing out on the "fun" of a month of physical self-punishment, I decide that I should volunteer to continue the local Calendar Club streak for a 4th consecutive month. Knowing the stupidity of what my friends had accomplished, I strategically chose February for my attempt. I mean, February is only 28 days, which means I'd get to run 90 fewer miles than my less intelligent 31 day month friends. Seemed logical and easy enough. Sign me up.

Insert March 3rd, 2021...

As I sit here writing this, I can say I was successful in my attempt, and this was hands down the hardest running feat in my running resume. 

Would I ever do it again? No. Am I glad I did it? Yes. 

Maybe I need a few more days to recover mentally and physically, and then I'll be more content and pleased with the accomplishment, but since I'm still licking my wounds, I'll just stick with some of my personal observations, stats, and takeaways with minimal added fluff.

Here we go:


  • Since February is obviously the shortest month of the year, and knowing the nature of my trash-talking friends, I gave myself some self imposed "rules" to follow in an attempt to give my challenge more credibility, as follows:
    • No treadmill miles. All runs had to be outdoors in the elements. Since February is historically the coldest, most "wintery" month in Colorado, I thought this would add an element of dificulty.
    • The required distance each day had to be accomplished in a SINGLE run. No 2-a-days, or 3-a-days.
    • Following the tradition which Brandon Stapanowich & Jeff Mohrmann established in, I had to grow my facial hair for the duration of the challenge. Not being a good beard-grower, I opted for a February 'stache.
    • I took a week long vacation from my day job to allow me the time necessary to get the last week’s worth of long runs in. This isn’t a good challenge for parents of small children or people with full time jobs, FYI. 
  • Total Miles Run - 407.77
    • Week 1 - 28.37 miles
    • Week 2 - 77.68 miles
    • Week 3 - 126.28 miles
    • Week 4 - 175.44 miles
  • Total Time on Feet - 69 hours and 51 minutes
  • Total Vert Gained - 35,818'
  • Fastest Run - Day 16 - 7:55/mi pace for 16 miles
  • Slowest Run - Day 27 - Pikes Peak summit attempt - 17:55/mi pace for 27 miles
  • Coldest Run - February 14 was negative 12 Fahrenheit average temp during my run. (Worth noting, this broke the single day record for Colorado Springs for that date which was previously set in 1895).
  • Calories Burned - 44,606
  • Weight Lost - 0 lbs
  • Average Total Daily Caloric Intake - 4000 calories
  • Average Daily Chocolate Milk Intake - 3/4 Gallon (2700 calories)
  • Favorite Shoes Used - Altra Timps 
  • Money Found While Running - $1.11
  • Physically and mentally, days 10-12, and 25-27 were the most difficult. I expected a daily death march from the halfway point on, but surprisingly, the human body has an amazing ability to adapt to whatever garbage we throw at it. After thinking I was on the verge of breaking on day 12, I pulled through physically and mentally and ran mostly pain free for a good week and a half in some of the longer & hardest days. The ease of many of the days where I was running between 13-24 miles was shocking. I think a big part of why days 25-27 were so bad was because of me overdoing it on days 21-24 due to the relative "ease" of those runs.
  • Going along with the above bullet point, I was pleasantly surprised at how manageable the amount of joint inflammation I encountered was. I had some hell days, but I probably only took 8-10 400mg ibuprofen tablets over the course of the entire month. My body adapted surprisingly well with a few exceptions. I expected much worse.
  • Blisters on the ends of several toes caused the worst pain I dealt with for many of the days between 13-16. These eventually calloused and became a non-issue the remainder of the month.
  • Loneliness, distractions, etc. 
    • I inevitably ran the majority of my runs solo due to the fact that most of my high-functioning, non-professional athlete adult friends have day jobs.
    • These solo runs made me appreciate the company of my friends just that much more. On days 13 & 14, the high temp didn't go over like 5 degrees Fahrenheit. HUGE thanks to Dreama Walton, Melissa Stapanowich, Brandon Stapanowich, and Tom Caughlin for getting me through that weekend!
    • Since I don't listen to music or podcasts frequently on routine runs, having the option to do so on my tougher days came in handy. My favorite listen of the month was Joe Rogan's most recent Elon Musk interview. Listened on an otherwise ungodly terrible run day (Day 26) and it kept me terribly entertained and distracted for the majority of the run.
  • Worst run - Day 27 Pikes Peak Winter Marathon summit attempt. Hours of knee deep post holing, extreme wind and negative degree wind chill resulted in an 8 hour suffer fest to cover 27 miles, and a failed summit attempt (along with shooting pains on the outside of my fibula which had me thinking I wouldn't be able to run on Day 28). 
    • Runner up #1 - 14 miles in negative temps & snow on Feb 14th
    • Runner up #2 - 17 miles in a full blown blizzard the afternoon/evening of Feb 17th
  • Most fun run - Day 28. Duh. Didn't hurt that I had a whole gaggle of friends join for all or part of what we made into a 28 mile pub crawl!
  • Favorite Animal Sighting - Big horn sheep herds spotted in the Garden on Days 21 & 26
  • Accountability - By making my intentions of  joining the Calendar Club known to many friends, acquaintances, and coworkers, there was definitely an added accountability which I wouldn't have had if this had just been a personal challenge.
  • Running 125-175 miles a week is just plain dumb. There is a reason that people with day jobs, spouses, and/or children don't do it. This challenge basically made Holly a single mom for the better part of the month while I tackled this selfish endeavor. I owe you babe! XOXO

Assuming I didn't do too much damage to my body last month, I'll try to maintain this fitness and see if it carries over to a good summer of actual racing. Even if it doesn't, this was an endeavor I won't soon forget, and I am grateful to have had the experience.

But NEVER again...

Sunday, March 24, 2019

My Life - 2019 Edition

First and foremost, please meet Indius Orion Williams!

Indy was born on October 4th, 2016 and my life forever changed for the better at that time.

In my lifetime, I've gone from not knowing if I'd survive to adulthood (while being told if I did I would be unable to ever father children), to now being 36 years old and having a perfectly healthy and vibrant 2 1/2 year old, as well as my loving wife and partner in crime. Every day is truly a blessing that I thank God for.

Beyond the above, Holly, Indy and I just broke ground on our new home, which is located in Pike National Forest, just west of the Garden of the Gods, near Manitou Springs. We still have a lot of work ahead of us before it's complete, but by the end of the year, we'll be living in our dream home, with hundreds of miles of trail access right outside our front door!

Since Indy was born, I've managed to still keep running semi-consistently, but completely non-competitively. Along with a couple marathons and a handful of 50 milers since late 2016, I've finished (2) 100-milers, most notably the 2018 Leadville 100 last August. Last year's race marked 6 years since my unfortunate DNF at mile 97 of the 2012 Leadville 100, my subsequent health issues, and then my inability to gain entry back into Leadville via lottery in 2014, 2015, and 2017.

Between the duration of my wait to get back to Leadville, the circumstances following my 2012 DNF, and the difficulty I had getting back into running and racing, I can honestly say that it was my sweetest finish to date.

It was far from my best 100 mile performance when you look at the results (22:56, 41st place), but I was surrounded by my closest friends and family as crew and pacers, had someone new to impress (Indy), and was able to truly appreciate every second of the experience while on the trail. Even though I was already dealing with GI issues at mile 6, and vomiting by mile 9, I never once considered quitting, and never once failed to appreciate how fortunate I was to even be out there again, in good enough physical condition to even attempt such a feat.

As I've grown older (and am nearing my "life expectancy" as a CF patient), I've become more introspective and appreciative of every day I have on this earth. Over the last few years, having personally lived through the experience of some people very close to me dying, along with the joy of seeing new life spring up all around me, my priorities have changed.

We don't know how long we have to live, and since nothing is guaranteed, we need to spend our time in the present, appreciating the people and moments which bring us true joy. If we are always reminiscing over the past or looking forward to the future, it can be easy to overlook the fact that we are currently living the best moments of our lives. Right now will someday be what we remember as the "good 'ol days", and I don't want to miss out on any of it while it's here.

Since this is still primarily a running blog, I'll end by saying I've got a big 2019 ahead of me, and will either be getting my 5th LT 100 finish in late August, or possibly getting the opportunity to run the Angeles Crest 100 in CA in early August. I'm currently on the waitlist, but it's looking like I'll have a pretty good chance of getting in. Besides a couple other races which I'll squeeze in this Spring & Summer, I'm looking forward to seeing Holly complete her first marathon later this year, attempting rim-to-rim-to-rim at the Grand Canyon next month, and being an ambassador for the newly formed Colorado Running Company Trail Team.

Until next time, live in the present, my friends.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Change on the Horizon

Over the last few years, my writing on this blog has become more and more sporadic for the following reasons

Initially in 2012-2013, it was due to major health issues and the resulting surgery & recovery.

After that hiatus, the frequency of posting  reduced because of me not having the time or desire to get back to the competitive fitness level I possessed from 2010 to early 2012. It's incredibly difficult to start from scratch after several consecutive months with no exercise, and that's what I had to do after I had surgery in late 2013.

2014 saw my return to long-distance running with a couple of marathon finishes and a 50 miler. The goal was to simply finish each, and doing so was rewarding in its own right.

2015 challenged me with the sickness and resulting death of my mom. This rightfully changed my priorities and again took me away from training for several months. After she passed, my motivation to finish the Silverheels 100 was unbreakable, and I did so, despite poor fitness and the slowest 100 miler of my running career to date. As my last post mentioned, this was an emotional race for me and was the first 100 miler I'd finished since February of 2012.

Insert 2016...

This year, there is again a major shift in my priorities... but for an exciting reason this time!

Holly and I are preparing for the upcoming birth of our first child! We will be welcoming our son into the world the first week of October! The excitement and nervousness are unbearable at times. Coupled with a hectic work schedule since early Spring, and I'm again not getting the miles I'd hope to in.

However, with our son's birth only 2 months away, I recently realized that if I didn't act quickly, I wouldn't be able to bring my streak of running at least one marathon or longer each calendar year to 10 consecutive! I wasn't about to let impending fatherhood affect that, so I decided to enter the Pikes Peak Ultra 50 miler on a whim last week.

SO.... last Saturday I toed the line fresh and healthy, but as unfit as ever. The PP Ultra course is run on some of the most beautiful and challenging trails the Colorado Spring area has to offer and consists of 11,000'+ of elevation gain and the same amount of loss.

While not a JV race, I figured still I had a decent chance of finishing due to my familiarity with the trails, my vast past experiences in the pain cave, my ability to pace myself decently, and the fact that I'm no longer running just for myself and my own health, but for my mom, for Holly, and soon, for my son.

My biggest motivator to get back to old form is so I can have him at my races and make him proud of my accomplishments. I know it's a ways out, but really look forward to the day he's old enough to idolize his dad. That window should exist until he's at least 11 or 12 and I want to take advantage of it!

So on Saturday, I went out slow, and got through the first 10 miles with minimal effort. It was mostly uphill, so I alternated hiking/running early. After that, the next 9 miles were hell. Not only did the steepness increase as we climbed up to over 10,000' elevation, but my legs decided they'd had enough. My quads and calves were on the verge of cramping, and I wasn't even nearing the halfway point yet.

At the Deer Park aid station - which I would hit 3 times that day - JT was crewing, and that meant beer. Beer = distraction from the pain and burning lungs, so I grabbed a coozy and a PBR and headed out for the 3.5 mile out & back section up Almagre. The beer did the trick and kept me distracted and before I new it I was back at Deer Park for round 2. Grabbed PBR and repeated on the next 6.5 mile section to Elk Park. After I reached Deer Park for the final time, I realized I wouldn't have a free hand for a 3rd beer, so I did a couple of shots of Fireball with JT for the road and headed out.

At this point I knew I was over the hump distance wise, and that there would be more descending than climbing from there on out. I'd already gotten to the point where my legs hit their pain threshold and the hurting wasn't getting any worse. With the exception of a gnarly 2 mile climb to the summit of Rosa (11,499'), the course was noticeably easier and runnable from mile 29 to the finish. Mother nature also was kind and the weather cooled, even bringing some rain to cool us runners off. While it still hurt, I new that all I had to do was grind out a few more hours, so that's what I did.

In the end, I finished 9th out of approximately 100 starters, in a time of 11:06.

By no means my best form, but as rewarding as almost any past finish.

PS: I need to throw out a shameless plug for a shoe company I'm receiving nothing from...

Mizuno recently stopped making the model of shoes I'd loved for the last 6-7 years. This forced me to buy something new for the first time in a while. Insert Altra.

This was the first ultra I've ever run with no blisters and barely even any hot spots. I can't say enough good things about these shoes since I first tried them in June. If you're a distance runner (especially trail) and are in the market for a new pair of shoes, I would suggest that you at least give them a test run to see what you think. They intentionally have an extra wide toe box which reduces friction and allows your toes to expand naturally when they strike the ground. Less friction = fewer blisters. Seems so simple, yet took so long for me to figure out. Also, they are zero drop and have a nice amount of cushioning. Slightly more than a standard road shoe but less than the clunky Hokas.

Thanks all! Next time I write I'll be a dad!!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#49 - For My Mom

It's taken me nearly 3 months to collect my thoughts and emotions enough to write this entry. Here goes...

On May 13th, 2015, my beautiful mom - Sheila Kathleen Williams - passed away.

In September of 2014 she was in the kind of shape most 30 year olds would kill for:
In that month she hiked the final 200 mile stretch of the famous South West Coast Path in England ( This was her 3rd trip across the pond to tackle the entire 630 mile walk.
Did I mention she did this last section solo? In less than 3 weeks? At 65 years young?

Sheila was the person who is 100% responsible for instilling a love of the outdoors in me and sharing her infectious adventurous spirit with me since I could walk. I would never have gotten into hiking, backpacking, or ultra-distance running if it wasn't for her.

Fast forward two short months from her trip to England and my mom is in the hospital being told she has bladder cancer but that it is likely contained and easily treatable. Fast forward another 6 months and I'm holding her in my arms as she takes her last breathe...

I cannot express the level of loss I feel, the pain & sadness I deal with on a daily basis, or the regret I live with, thinking of how little time I spent with her over the last 10 years of my life.

In April, as she was undergoing chemotherapy, I ran my first ultra of the year - Desert Rats Double Marathon. I took 3rd in a time of 8:35. My mom was so proud of me and shortly thereafter I signed up the Silverheels 100 in Fairplay, Colorado. The hope was for her to be well enough to be present to share this 100 mile adventure with me. It had been over 3 years since I attempted the distance, and I was so looking forward to having Holly, my mom and my dad there to crew for this one.

Unfortunately, one of those special people was not there last weekend as I toed the line.

I'm not going to go into too much detail regarding how the race unfolded.

What I can tell everyone is that this was a beautiful and challenging course that was far more difficult than any of the 5 previous 100 mile races I'd finished. I pushed myself for the first 83 miles in 2nd or 3rd place nearly the whole time. I then hit a low worse than ever previously encountered... and then another... but rather than quit, I found a way to literally get up and keep going each of the 3 times my body became so fatigued I needed to lay down and sleep.

I've always had enough of a competitive drive that I couldn't bear the thought of "just finishing" if it meant an atrocious time. It had seemed far more palatable to DNF the two other times my mind & body started shutting down during a 100 mile race (2010 Hardrock & 2012 Leadville), but this time was different.

This time I was not running for myself, but for my dear mother who I miss so much. My mom was born in 1949 and I was given bib #49 for this race. It took me nearly 9 hours to cover the last 20 miles, but 28 hours and 28 minutes after toeing the line, I completed what I'd set out to do.

 I so wish she could have been there to see me finish...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Looking Back. Looking forward.

As I get older and slowly near the age of senility and memory loss, I'm realizing the need to document my life and memories via photos, this blog, etc., thus the reason I'm now taking the time to catch up on what's happened in my life since last summer.

With no further ado...

  • July 2014
    • Hardrock Pacing: Having been humbled by the mountains on the HR100 course in 2010, it was with great trepidation that I agreed to pace Sharpie for 30-35 miles of the course last summer. At minimum it was a good motivator to up my mileage in hopes of being at least somewhat prepared for what laid ahead. At the end of the day, pacing ended up being a rewarding and inspiring experience... especially when Mr. Sharp ended up snagging a huge PR! (I'd like to think I had a little to do with it...). It was a physical and emotional roller coaster for 18 hours through rivers and rain and lightning and snow and heat, and I wouldn't trade the experience for the world. At one point in the race (after going through the night, and facing certain death in a lightning storm at 12,000ft) I was so overwhelmed by the magnificence of my surroundings that tears began welling up. The only other time this happened was en route to my first Leadville finish in 2009! I can honestly say, my love for running and the mountains fully returned while on that course, and I will continue to have deep reverence for the San Juans and the Hardrock course until the day I am both fit enough and fortunate enough to toe the line of that race again.
    •  White River 50: Several weeks after the above mentioned experience, I returned to Washington for my first ultra-marathon since September 2012. As my last blog post indicated, my goal was primarily to finish, and I was thinking sub-10 was a reasonable goal. When all was said and done, I finished in 9:21.xx, no worse for wear, and was officially able to call myself an ultra-runner again!
  • August 2014
    •  Pikes Peak Ascent/Leadville Pacing: August 16th was a full day. I finished my 5th Pikes Peak Ascent (1st time since 2009) on that day, and was there to see Holly finish her first! My time of 3:33.37 was my 2nd slowest ever, but a PR wasn't a concern as I was equally excited for my return to Leadville later that evening. Around 8:00pm my pacing duties for 100 mile rookie Tyson Nunn began. I was to take him through the final 24 miles of the course from the new Fish Hatchery aid station to the finish. Personally, I've never had a good experience from Mayqueen (13 miles to go) to the finish, but after my DNF at mile 97 in 2012, I needed to be there for Tyson and keep him going (and prove to myself that I can fight off the sleep deprivation, discomfort, and desire to quit) and finish strong! I'm happy to report both of us were able to successfully pull through and get Tyson a big  buckle in 24:00 flat.
    • High Altitude Beer Mile: Unofficially, Carson Rickey, Liz Sanchez and myself completed the inaugural Pikes Peak Beer Mile on the 14,110 ft summit of Pikes Peak. As usual, I vomited and it turned into a Beer 1.25 mile after the penalty lap, but the experience was awesome none-the-less. Somebody needs to call Guinness...
Holly and I ended up taking a complete hiatus from running in September and October to focus on selling our home and preparing to move into our new house which was to be complete in late November. During this time period, we apparently forgot that we were signed up for the Catalina Eco Marathon & Half Marathon in California...

What this resulted in was a 100-degree suffer-fest and my slowest marathon time ever. Granted, it was on trails, it was hot, and the course had lots of climbing & descending, but regardless, it's never a good idea to run a marathon with a total of 7 runs under your belt in the 8 weeks leading up to it. Lesson learned.

The rest of 2014 was focused on moving and making our new house a home. By late December, the dust had settled enough in our lives to enable me to focus on exercise & running again...
  • 2015 (so far)
    • I have run every day since December 23rd, 2014 which will make my run after work this evening my 100th consecutive day!
    • Due to this consistency, I'm beginning to get some speed back. While my endurance is still lacking, I've managed the following this month:
      • 18:41 5k (35 seconds off my PR)
      • 4:56 mile (PR, but downhill-aided)
  • I'm signed up for the Desert Rats 50 Miler in Fruita, Colorado on April 18th. I ran this event in 2009 and 2010 with a personal best of 8:49 on the course. I honestly believe 8:30 is a reasonable goal this go-around.
  • No Leadville in my future*. I'm pretty sure I'm the only individual who wasn't selected in this year's inaugural lottery. This is actually quite disappointing since I was hoping Pb 2015 would be my return to the 100 mile distance...
  • (*If I run well at Fruita and continue building strength, I am wildly considering trying to win a spot in Leadville by placing high enough at the Silver Rush 50. I've never wanted to race this event before, but if it's my only "hail mary" last-ditch chance to get in, I'd consider giving it a shot. This will mostly depend on my conditioning... if things continue the way they're going, it might be a solid bet.)

Until next time...


Sunday, July 6, 2014

Summertime. Life is good.

Wow. Time really flies when you're having fun. I had no idea it had been 3 months since my last post, but it's not for lack of new stories and adventures... but rather, because I'm too busy living them!

Here we go:

As you'll notice at the top of the page, I now have a REAL race on the schedule. In less than 3 weeks, I'll be returning to Washington state to run one of my favorite 50 milers, the White River 50 which I originally ran in 2011. Back then I was able to run 7:48 and place in the top 10... this time I just want to finish. I think sub-10 is a reasonable goal, but regardless of my time, after a 2 year hiatus, just crossing the finish line will be a huge personal achievement.

While I might not have a 100 miler on my race schedule for the foreseeable future, I won't be completely out of the loop this summer. I've been given the opportunity to pace some friends as they tackle the best Colorado has to offer. First, in 5 days I'll be in Silverton to get my buddy John Sharp through the night hours at Hardrock, and hopefully a huge PR on that course! I had my crack at Hardrock in 2010, and was humbled with my first DNF after only 44 miles. In a coincidental turn of events, I'll get to pace Sharpie through the miles that immediately follow Ouray, the site of my throwing in the towel in '10. Can't wait.

I'll also be in Leadville to bring a friend and first time LT 100 runner home from Fish Hatchery to the finish. While Leadville is a circus these days, the race will always hold a special place in my heart based on the range of memories associated with the race... both good and bad!

In the morning before I head up for my Leadville pacing duties in late August, I'll be running the Pikes Peak Ascent for the 5th time, and first time since 2009. I'm not shooting for any PR's this season, but rather, I'm just enjoying the experience like I did when I originally ran the Peak in 2006. This was the race that originally piqued my interest in trail and distance running, so how fitting that I run it again as I'm slowly getting high on adventures in the mountains all over again!

Wow, I forgot to mention that I finished my first marathon since surgery in early May. Nothing special, but I finished the Colorado Marathon in Ft Collins in 3:34. More importantly, Holly ran a new 1/2 marathon PR in 2:09 at that race, making for a special weekend running the roads.

Not necessarily sexy, but I decided to give facial hair an attempt starting at the beginning of June. For fear of losing followers or what remains of my self respect, I won't post any photos today. Hoping the 'stache helps John Sharp and I harness the spirit of Pre' in Hardrock... then I'm shaving. Holly only needs to tolerate the grossness a few more days!

Last but not least, I had my 6-month post-surgery follow-up colonoscopy in May. It was expected that at this time I would be given a plan of immunosuppresive therapy based on the severity with which the Crohn's was manifesting itself...

Surprisingly, I have no signs of recurrence of the disease. What?!

This would rightfully be the highlight of my year so far.

So in a nutshell, I'm slowly but surely returning to my old self. My physical and mental health are the best they've been in 2 years (if not ever), and everyday I run is new and exciting. If one good thing came from the recent health trials I've endured, it's that I LOVE running again! No time goals, no watch, no GPS, no mileage tracking, just pure, unadulterated fun in the mountains the way it should be!


Monday, April 7, 2014

Building Momentum...

It's been one week since my last post in which I'd just finished a very long run for the first time in over a year and a half.

My knee hated me for 2-3 days after the 42 mile effort on 3/29 so I was only able to muster 10 total  mid-week miles, but on Saturday I was feeling pretty fresh again so I got out with a couple of friends and managed a hilly 20 miler through the foothills of Colorado Springs with about 2500ft of gain.

With the vertical, this 20 miler took about the same toll on my legs as the pancake flat 42 miles did, but all-in-all I'm feeling pretty healthy, and just being able to run longer distances again is encouraging. If I can manage to string a few more consecutive weeks together, this could be the start of an exciting summer.