"Dig Deep"....that is what the wristband I am wearing says. That is one of the many themes of Leadville. My good friend Gary gave me this wristband when he was training to finish Leadville a few years back. Now I wear it to remind me daily of the task at hand. Gary Henry and Ed Payne got me into ultras and I am hooked. But why 100 miles?? I don't know...maybe just because it is there...not everyone can do it....but I will!!! Will I be hooked on 100 milers after this?....well, that remains to be seen right? I think I am much better at 50k's to 50 miles.
So where did it all begin?? Well I will have to dig deep to tell you!!!! I guess it all started back in 1980...I was just a 8th grader at the time....didn't know much about anything back then....all I knew was that I needed to get off the farm when I grew up. Yep, I was a farm boy...grew up a stone throw away from the Nebraska border (thank God on the Kansas side). I wasn't your typical farm boy....I had allergies to everything...every time I went to help Dad feed the cattle or work in the fields it seemed I would have a severe asthma attack. These attacks would scare the hell out of Dad and over time he became quite protective of me...so much so that I didn't do a whole heck of a lot of work around the farm....instead I became Dad's repair person....if the tractor broke down...I was the one to go get the parts. Growing up on the farm and not being active working it made me feel inadequate....I needed to find something I was good at....that something was running.
My 8th grade year I met my mentor in running by the name of Tom Noonan....he was my PE teacher in 8th grade and my cross country and track coach in high school. Tom inspired me. Even though I was slow at first he saw my potential and helped train me over the next 5 years to become one of the top runners in Class 1a in the state of Kansas. This inspiration lead to my final race my senior year in track...the 2 mile run at the State meet. I finished 2nd with a school and league record time of 9:57.
College came and I decided to go to Emporia State University for Pre-Pharmacy training (2 years of general education prior to pharmacy school). Emporia State also recruited me to run for them. So I did...and although there was some success (went to 2 NAIA Cross Country National Championships) I got burnt out on running my sophomore year and quite track. 7 years passed before I started running again. I used to think running out to clinton lake was too far from Kasold drive!!
Fast forward to 1994.....I got a flyer on Team in Training....The Leukemia Society would train you to run a marathon if you raised money for them....I always wanted to run a marathon!!! So off I went and I did it and was hooked on running once again. My competitiveness that I had from high school came back...every marathon I ran I wanted to do faster. Between 1994 and 1998 I racked up multiple marathons (between 15-20)...I had lowered my time to where I felt I had a shot at finishing in the top 100 at Boston....my goal was to run a marathon under 6 minute mile pace (2:36)....I upped my mileage. I got injured. My best was a 2:42 and 33rd place finish out of 20,000 people in the first Rock and Roll Marathon in San Diego in 1998.
Out on the trail....from 1998 to 2003 I fought various injuries as I tried and tried again to regain my road skills. After knee surgery in 2004 I decided it was time to come back again. But this time I was going to do it differently....I started trail running. The rest is history and after 5 years of being relatively injury free (cross fingers and toes here) I am now finally starting to get a pretty good handle on this ultra stuff.
So here I am....getting ready to embark on this great adventure. It is going to be an interesting ride....one that I can hopefully can add to my running history above. Let the journey begin! Let the journey begin.