Sunday, September 2, 2007

35th Birthday Challenge

It all started ar Reed and Amber's wedding.... I'm sure there are several stories that start that way. For me, it was being around so many of the Birthday Challenge group that inspired me to commit this year. I had taken part in Reed's awesome 34th and now I was looking down the barrel of 35.

The challenge was simple: 35 miles of mountain biking with 3500' of elevation gain. 35 kilometers of running, 350 pull-ups, 350 pushups, and 35 stories read to my kids.

I ran all summer as I traveled with my family. I did not have my bike with me, but I wasn't too worried about that. Really, the pull-ups seemed the most intimidating to me. As little as six months ago I was struggling to do 5 in a row.

My Birthday is August 10th and I intended to get this all done in 24 hours from sometime in the evening of the 10th to that same time on the 11th. 8/10/2007 was Friday night. I decided to start with two 5k runs with pull-ups and pushups in between. I left on the first run at 7:00 pm once the temperature dropped to semi-comfortable. I was feeling great since I had not run the day before. I was comfortable and totally pumped. I had several phone calls from friends helping to encourage and family members asking me if I had started "that exercise thing?"

About a mile into the first run I came around a corner in my neighborhood where I have had some dog trouble in the past and there they were. Mangie, angry, and mad- and I had to go this way! Two dogs came tearing out of a yard toward me. I hit the gas and hopped around enough to avoid being bitten but it really strained the run and now I had the fear. I had to do this route at least 5 more times to get 35 k! I got home and called animal control in between my first few sets of pull-ups and push-ups.

Apple Valley animal control decided that Friday night is not the best time for them to help a citizen so I was stuck. I ran an altered route that kept me from that house, but now I was in unknown mileage and rattled. After more pull-ups and push-ups, I tried driving several different routes until I measured off something workable. I went to bed with 10K of running, 103 pull-ups, and about 80 push-ups done. I was close to on target.

The next morning I was back at it at first light. I ran two more 5 kilometer routes and did another 100 or so pull-ups. I was getting way behind on the push-ups though. I was finding that I couldn't maintain even sets of both and so I would do the pull-ups and rest. My plan was to get caught up on Push-ups during the ride.

I was on the road to pick up Chad Elmer (Chedder) by 7:20. We left his house in Apple Valley for Big Bear before 8:00 and I had a huge breakfast of yogurt, fruit, and granola. I was feeling really good and ready for the ride. We were going to meet Reed at the trailhead by 9:00 am. We made good time and Reed arrived as I was getting a few push-ups done. As usual, Reed injected the whole endeavor with energy and we hit the trail toward the John Bull. It is a steep climb up Van Dusen Canyon and about 1.5 miles in a noticed that my rear suspension had totally bottomed out. No one had a shock pump so Chad Elmer offered to ride back down to the cars and get one while Reed and I kept pedalling. Chad was back to us before we reached the fire road at the top. He is incredible! We pumped up my shock and it seemed to hold air so we kept going.

We had conflicting route maps for the john Bull trail. This was to constitute about half of the ride portion for me. We were able to find the trail and ride much of it. IT is rocky and challenging to be sure. The parade of rock-crawlers bouncing up the trail attests to the "most difficult" rating it gets. I will not hurry back, but it was good to see it once.

Once we finished the John Bull, we had planned to ride to Hannah Flats along the fire roads. I decided to take the fire road 2n12 to Hannah Flats while Chad and Reed moved the cars to Grout bay. IT all seemed so easy. I would get another few miles of easy fire road and meet them at the Hannah Flats campground. It turns out that 2n12 is essentially straight up and straight down. I was gassed climbing out of Holcomb valley and by the time I got down my Brakes were howling. I fell asleep at the campground entrance, too tired to do any more push-ups for a while. Reed and Chad showed up behind me by 15 minutes and we pushed off into the Hannah Flats ride.

That trail is easy on fun. I needed to be sure and add the Grays peak section in order to get the mileage I needed. Because of 2n12, I did not think that climb to Gray's wasa good idea. We finished at Grout Bay with plenty of elevation gained, but short about 8 miles. Reed departed for home while Chad and I went to find a place for me to run.

Chad remembered the Alpine Pedal path as 3.2 miles. At the South-West entrance it says 2.5 miles. So, Chad drove me back .6 and I started to run toward the cuttoff. I was starting to feel really tired and a little crampy. At the end of the run I found that I had run the extra .6 for nothing since it was 3.2 miles. Trust Chad! That put me at 25+ kilometers down.

I had packed a lunch in the truck and Chad drove us back down to the Desert. I fell asleep for a few minutes and then dropped him at his house. I was home by 3:30 and I had 10k left to run, 150 pull-ups, 8 miles to ride, and about 220 push-ups.

I rested for a couple of hours and then got started again. Just as I was getting myself ready for the final push, I got a call from my buddy Joe Janowicz. An incredible athlete and strong competitor, he just happened to call. He came over and threw on some running shorts and pushed me through the final 10k with ease.

Reed and Amber came up for a BBQ. Chad brought his road bike over and Joe rode my wife's bike on the final 8 miles. We were joined for this by my buddy Dave Bateman who is always up for something ridiculous. My wife Shannon cooked and entertained while I left for various portions of the challenge.

I was done with the running and the riding. I was within reach of the pull-ups so I worked on those first. I was able to eat after the last run and ride so I had some new energy and Reed kept me going. I was no longer doing sets of 10. I was down to 4 or 5 per set with 3 or 4 minute breaks. The 24 hour time had passed by now, but I was certain I could do the pull-ups! I was able to get them done 350- and I felt great.

Push-ups- They don't seem that hard. Really, most people would rather do 100 push-ups than 50 pull-ups any day. I am the opposite. I am getting better, but pull-ups just seem easier. By this point of the BC I was essentially done. I felt good and the push-ups did not seem that important. Reed would none of it! After a stern pep talk I was back in it. I chipped away at the final 150 push-ups 6 or 7 at a time until 11:00pm when I finished.

Thank-you to Reed, Chad, Joey for the encouragement! Thank-you to Shannon, Ruth and Dominick for indulging my need to push hard. Steve and Josh thanks for the examples.