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Hypothermia almost killed me!

Johann and I refill

Barr Camp is about 6 miles up the trail.

August 28th, 2002, my friend Johann and I pull up to the Barr Trail trailhead at 8 am. The temperature is 68 degrees. Our mission today is to run 12 miles up the Barr Trail to reach the top of Pikes Peak, then back down for a total of 24 miles. Pikes Peak is one of Colorado’s 14er’s with an altitude 14,110 feet, which is almost 2.7 miles of elevation.

We slowly chug up the mountain, wearing shorts, a light long sleeve t-shirt and carrying a water bottle. With 3 miles to go, at about 12,000 ft of altitude, the game really changed. The partial air pressure is so low that we can’t seem to get enough oxygen to saturate our lungs. We are hypoxic. The best way to describe the feeling of hypoxia is to quickly run up 5 flights of stairs with your nose pinned together and only breathe out of a straw through your mouth. The air is so thin that trees no longer grow there.

On the 16 Golden Stairs: “Whoever named this section was under severe oxygen deprivation or had a sick sense of humor.”

With 1 mile to go Johann and I were really struggling. We had been running for 2 hours 40 minutes and were searching for the magical 16 Golden Stairs which were supposed to lead us to the top. This is very misleading because there are a lot more than 16 steps. According to the guide books it refers to the amount of switch backs. There are actually 32 switchbacks. I think whoever named this section was under severe oxygen deprivation or had a sick sense of humor. To make matters worse we had run out of water and a storm moved in, dropping the temperature from a cool 68 degrees to cold and windy 31 degrees. It started snowing. This was not good for us sea level, Miami boys.

At this point we were in really bad shape. Our core temperature dropped and we were shaking. We were going into hypothermia. After the final 45 minutes of swtichbacks, high winds, and snow flurries we reached the summit.

What is the moral of this story?

Dress for success. Plan for the unexpected. And above all to get to the top doesn’t take superhuman strength, tremendous leaps, or short cuts, all it takes is the commitment to take one more step.

When you encounter an obstacle, are feeling overwhelmed, or want to give up commit to taking one more step.


PS – There is a restaurant at the top of the mountain. We rested there for about an hour in order to warm up and re-hydrate. It took us almost as long running downhill as it did going up because the decent was so steep.


Johann and I are finished

We made it! We made it back to the trailhead safely but exhausted.

4 Growth through suffering

20 miles into the race I felt a gripping and ripping feeling though my left hamstring. The hot sun was beaming down over the open prairie and I still had another 30 miles to run.

Stop or Press on?

At 9 hours and 38 minutes I crossed the finish line and finished my first ever 50 Mile Ultra-marathon . I was not the same person that started that race. I was stronger, wiser, maybe even better looking. 😉

I was “gently” reminded of a few lessons that may help you on your journey through life.

crossing the line

6 Lessons I Revisited While Surviving A 50 Mile Run Through The Everglades.

1.   Success lies on the other side of comfort.

To say I was uncomfortable was an understatement. My legs started cramping at mile 20, leaving me 30 miles to appreciate discomfort. I say this in jest but it was a blessing. Over those 30 miles I went through many physical and emotional peaks and valleys. When you are at you low it seems like it will never end. Then almost like a light switch the body finds a new source energy that propels you forward. Don’t be afraid of discomfort, of change, of pain because on the other side you come out stronger and more appreciative.

2.   Surround yourself with people who make you better.

It’s mile 36 about 7 hours into the race and I have been “running” solo for about 2 hours in grassland prairies with only the percussive sounds of my steps and the hollow sound of my breath to keep me company. I thought I was hallucinating because I heard a new beat that complimented the staccato of my steps. It was another person. Not just any person but Krystle an experienced ultra-marathoner that had run several 50 milers and 100 mile races. Over the next few hours we walked, ran, and talked. She encouraged me and essentially helped me get to the finish-line.
Who are those people that will help get you to the finish line?

3.   Stop and smell the roses.

Don’t miss the beauty of life’s journey because you are too focused on the destination. At the beginning of the race I all I could see was the floor because I was running too fast and needed to pay attention to my footing. When my legs cramped up, I had to walk. My gaze slowly came up and I was so engrossed in the beauty that surrounded me. I wish I had a camera so that I could share the beauty that surrounded me. All I have are the mental images I now take with me forever.

How often in life do we get so focused on the destination that we forget to enjoy and appreciate the journey. Your experiences lie in the struggle, in the environment, in the people we meet. I am so glad that I physically got to experience that first hand with this challenge.

4.   Stopping may advance you more than going.

We sat in a dark school bus in the middle of the Everglades at 5:30am as Bob, the race director went over the logistics of the race. Then Bob shared his profound advice. “It will be hot today. At some point you will probably want to stop. Many of you will think about quitting. Don’t. If you are cramping up, if you feel bad, sit, wait, eat, drink, rest for half an hour. Many times you will feel better and will be able to continue. You have plenty of time to complete the race. Enjoy it, it is a beautiful course.”

So many times in life it will get hard, we will want to stop because it hurts. But if you want to truly advance, you may need to stop. Rest, recover so you can go the distance.

5.   Be Prepared.

Knowing what to eat on race day is important. Know what the weather will be is important. But the most important preparation takes place months before as you put in the mile daily to callus your body to be able to handle the stress of the 50 miles. It is done a little at a time so your body has time to adapt and build itself up a little stronger than the day before.

Life’s preparation are determined by the daily habits you create.

Will your current habits serve you or bring you down? The choice is always yours.

6.   Patience.

“Patience is a virtue,” is a phrase you’ve undoubtedly heard but have you ever experienced it? This race allowed me to feel the repercussions of impatience. I ran too hard at the beginning and my legs cramped. It also allowed me to build my “patience muscles” as well. 9 hours 38 minutes is a long time to be out running. When times get tough patience will be your ally to overcome any obstacle. Like water flowing through the Grand Canyon. Sometimes the water flows fast, other times it is just a trickle but that consistency over time slowly wearing away the walls and the floor that produced this spectacular wonder of the world.

Do you have the patience to become that magnificent wonder to the world?

None of the above were new lessons, just an opportunity to live them, to experience them, and to practice them. It is nice to be reminded about them.

Godspeed on your journey.


6 6 Lessons from a 6 Hour Race

What did I learned from running in a loop from 6 in the morning until noon? This past Sunday I ran the Vista View 6 hour race in Davie, FL. It was one of the coolest, painful, and eye opening experiences I have been a part of.  I wanted to share some life lessons I learned that can help you over come obstacles and live a more successful life.

Lessons I Learned Running for 6 Hours:

1.  Sometimes the best preparation is belief.

As I mentioned in my previous blog post (Inspired to Insanity) inspiration and belief are powerful drivers. The most I had run in the past 4 or 5 months was 80 minutes. I was not running consistently because of a calf injury. Now here I am attempting to run for 6 hours after listening to talk given by ultra-marathon man, Dean Karnazes. Logically it did not make sense but I knew that this was more about my mind deciding.  At about the halfway mark my body started cramping and shutting down. I just kept putting 1 foot in front of the other because I decided that I would finish no matter what. (Preparation in the long run is the way to go but sometimes you need to go for it.)

Create a belief, decide what you want, then go after it.

2.  We are capable of more.

When we put our minds to it, I believe we are capable of just about anything. This experience showed me that I am able to push past my comfort zone, pain, physical and mental barriers. Life gives us daily tests that are not always pass fail. With each test we are re-enforcing, callusing that decision. Each test is an opportunity to get more experience points and strengthen your beliefs.

Today is a great day to go a little further than we are use too. Challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone and explore the other side. There is a great quote I read that said, “Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.” Go to that place of pain and like it.

3. Persist and get your second wind.

This was eye opening to me. I mentioned that at about 2 hours and 45 minutes my body was fighting me, wanting to stop, cramping. I forced myself to keep going. After about 2 hours of this my body snapped out of it and I got my second wind. When I started the race I was running each lap in 9-10 minutes. Then my body started crashed and I was running the loops in 17-19 minutes. When I got my second wind about 5 hours in, I started running 11-13 minute loops.

Life is about persevering. No matter how bad things get if you are strong and patient enough you can weather any storm.

4.  Survival is not enough.

What becomes more apparent to me now is how many people go through their days with a survival attitude. No I am not talking about cops or people who risk their lives. I am talking about people that just look forward to getting the day over with or just get to the weekend.There is so much that each day has to offer. Don’t let those opportunities pass you by because you are just trying to survive. Live each day fully. You are in control of how you perceive your circumstances. Don’t believe me? Youtube a man named Nick Vujicic, then tell me that perspective doesn’t make a difference.

Running for 6 hours gives you lots of thinking time. I was able to really see how each runner out there had a glorious story they had created for themselves by placing one foot in front of the other. Don’t survive grow.

5.  Your support can determine your success.

These ultra-marathons races may seem self-centered, individualistic but that is further from the truth. Most runners will tell you that the fans to the other competitors to the support crew  has an impact as to whether they will be able to finish or continue. Who are you surrounded by? I know that on race day if it wasn’t for my father being there I don’t know what I would have done. He ran by my side holding water and encouraged me to take it one step at a time. I know that because my wife told me to go for it because she knew I could do it even though I was ill prepared made all the difference. Do you surround yourself with people that will support your, coach you, cheer for you in the good and the bad?

To be successful in any endeavor create that nucleus of people that wont let you quit. The people who expect you to succeed.

6.  I need to run more.

The final point I learned is obvious. I need to run more if I want to compete. Not so apparent is that I need to run more for me. Running I feel for me is truly an expression of my spirit. I love running. What you need to decide is what is your “running”? Is it singing, painting, swimming, what ever it is do it and do it often. Create that space for you, where you can explore your core. I know that sounds a little out there but I find that most people are afraid of finding their true self. As Marianne Williamson famously said, “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…”

Will you search for your light today?

Yes this was early in the race.

Yes this was early in the race.


Many blessings and I hope you enjoyed taking this journey with me.




6 Inspired to Insanity

This weekend I ran a spontaneous 6 hour race.

Let me explain…

Ever heard of a man named Dean Karnazes?

He is a pretty famous ultra-marathoner. He has run 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days. He has run on a treadmill for 48 hours straight (crazy I know). He has run across the US, averaging 40+ miles daily. He is doing things that are inconceivable to most. So when I heard he was going to be at a local running shop I had to meet him. On Saturday I made the drive and sat listening to his every word along with 30+ other runners. I think we were hoping he would wave a magic wand and endow us with the same powers he had. He shared some training and nutrition insights. He shared some great stories as well. Then…

Someone asked him what made him so special?

He said he felt like everyone else. He believes that we are all capable of doing what he can do. We just need to do it consistently and believe we can do it.

After the meeting he shared that he was going to be at the Vista View 360 Race on Sunday. It is a 6 hour race and the goal is to see how many 1.25 mile loops can you complete. I thought about what he said and decided to signed up.

No adequate training under my belt. To quote the Bon Jovi song, “I was living on a prayer.”

The most I had run over the past 4 month was 1 hour and twenty minutes. Here I was attempting to do almost 6 times that (ouch).

I knew that I didn’t have the training but I had plenty of inspiration and belief, thanks to Dean.

Why am I sharing this?

Life is not always planned. In fact, the surprises life shares with you adds flavor to your life. Today’s message is to STEP-UP. Sometimes the only thing stopping you from doing things that you never thought possible, is your rational brain. As much as I believe in structured training, as much as I believe preparing, I also believe that life is meant to be lived with your heart too.

Looking at the facts, I had no business even trying. This was not my rational brain acting but my heart. Dean Karnazes inspired me to look inside and kick through any preconceived notions of what needed to happen in order to run such a long race. I guess he did wave his magic wand and shared his superhuman strength. I am better today because of it.

Growing up I was told that you become the company you keep. Raise your standards, surround yourself with people who push you to grow or be left behind.

Grow daily. Push your limits. Step-up.



PS – Read part 2 in this series: 6 Lessons from a 6 hour Race 😉