Monday, September 30, 2013

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

What a weird summer. After spending the last month of summer in Europe, the night I returned was the beginning of the torrential rains here in Boulder and the next night I was evacuated from my apartment. Honestly, other than losing electricity in my apartment for over a week, I was personally essentially unaffected by the deluge that tore apart the northern Front Range of Colorado. Many people's lives were---if not completely torn apart---at least massively disrupted. I feel fortunate, especially considering the location of my home on the west side of town at the mouth of Boulder Canyon only a few dozen yards from the creek.

In the wake of the destruction and subsequent closure of all of Boulder's iconic open space, I escaped north last week to visit my sister in Wyoming. She and her husband (and my three week old nephew!) live only a 1hr20 drive from the Lupine Meadows Trailhead, so any time I'm up there it feels like a crime if I don't drive over for some fun in Teton National Park.

As I drove into the valley I was treated to a spectacular display of alpenglow on the high peaks, but they were also shrouded in thick clouds and a fresh coat of snow reaching all the way down to 8500' or so. Scrambling the perpetually iced-up chimneys of the Grand Teton's Owen-Spalding route is tenuous enough in splitter conditions, so I quickly changed my plans to instead run maybe the most classic trail loop in the park---a link-up of Cascade Canyon and Paintbrush Canyon via the Paintbrush Divide. From my parking spot at Lupine Meadows, this ~25mi outing on buffed trails would hopefully test my compromised achilles and hamstring but not hurt them.

Fall colors in Cascade Canyon.
The first time I ran this loop was seven years ago, July 2006. I had yet to run an ultra of any kind, but I was in the midst of a six-week gap between the end of college classes and the beginning of a new job so had lots of time to run in the mountains. A friend was driving to Montana to visit family, so I tagged along, sharing the driving and having her drop me in the park for a few days of running and camping, to be picked up again on her return to Colorado.

I'd visited the Tetons with my family 10 or 12 years earlier, but this was my first time as a runner.  On my first foray up Paintbrush Canyon, I was surprised and a bit dismayed to encounter significant snowfields still covering the trail high up in the canyon. Back home in Colorado, I'd been running to 14,000' without snow for almost a month, what was this? Despite this, I completed the loop the next day as well, in the opposite direction, and came away from the week with a couple conclusions: 1) I really enjoyed really long runs in the mountains (these outings were only the third or fourth times I'd run for more than 4hr), and 2) the Tetons were not your typical Colorado talus heaps. They held snow a lot longer and featured an abundance of dramatic granite faces, spires and ridges. It would be a puzzling six years before I made it back to the Tetons, but in that time I had made good on my resolution to try out this whole mountain ultra running thing. It's funny how much things can change in a relatively short amount of time.

A ray of sunlight breaks through the low clouds in the North Fork of Cascade Canyon.
As it would turn out, last week's run of Cascade and Paintbrush Canyons in the Tetons was a nice trip down memory lane, but it wasn't very good on the physical side of things. I had no energy on the long, gradual uphill into the clouds and snow on the Paintbrush Divide, and once I headed downhill, it became obvious that my hamstring was nowhere near being able to comfortably handle an outing of this length, with that much continuous running. And the next morning, my achilles was frustratingly tight, clearly upset with the longer effort. The injuries that caused my drop at UTMB were still lingering and my energy levels had also seemed to descend into the end-of-summer malaise that I predictably experience every September/October. The only sensible thing to do was to take more time off, so I did.

Despite not being ready to race at UROC this past weekend, it was still a lot of fun chasing the leaders from aid station to aid station and watching the action unfold. I found the men's podium performances to be particularly inspiring and I can't wait to get back out there. While the mountains will always be my primary motivation, racing is an aspect of running that I really enjoy---I simply love competing, laying it all out there, and going as hard as I can, and you never get as much out of yourself as you do when you're amongst it, being pushed by your fellow competitors.  This summer has left me quite unsatisfied on the competitive front, so I'm pretty motivated to pursue that next year.

Today marked one full month since UTMB, and in that month I only ran 10 times, taking two weeks completely off after the race. An hour jog this morning revealed some exciting pep in my legs, though, and with the First Flatiron finally being re-opened over the weekend (oddly, all trails and climbing was closed due to flood damage), I couldn't resist summiting this afternoon in the magnificent fall weather.

Downclimb on the backside of the First Flatiron. Photo: Joe Grant.
Before I begin training in earnest, however, later this week I'll be hitting the road for a spate of screenings of In The High Country.  I'll jog my way through that, but when I return it will have been six weeks since UTMB and I know I'll be super excited to begin ramping the training back up in earnest and hopefully start re-building some fitness. 


Vern at said...

GREAT to see a blog post here from you Anton. Best of luck with recovery, I hope to see more videos of you at Youtube, I've watched most of the good ones. Including the High Country video I bought for $15 at Vimeo. Good stuff. Wish it were longer...

Cheers man,


Chris Cawley said...

Careful with that achilles tendon...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...


I feel that your season at lest in a competitive manner was just as successful if not more as any other year.

Whats living if your always succeeding at everything you do? Sounds New Age'y but its true. You learn so much more about yourself when you push your limits even if you come up short. That's what you did Tony...Your Nolan's 14 attempt was impressive. What you did that day in those mountains in that amount of time...Well that in itself is Brilliant and a Success if even if you came up short you still broke some serious records that day.

If an athlete constantly stays in their comfort zone in fear of failing well they will be left behind...but your an entrepreneur in this sport you pushed it this year and your still pushing it and the sport is growing cause of your attempts and balls to wall approach.

Keep doing what your doing!

Much Respect

J D Gerlach said...

All the best, Anton. I've checked this blog an embarrassing amount of times in the last month. Get better and as always thanks for the inspiration.

David Hill said...

Keep on rocking TK - good to hear you're on the mend and thirsty for more competition in 2014. But having just said that, I'd bet that your personal mountain adventures are more inspiring to readers of this blog than the race results are.

Montse Mazorriaga said...

Recover soon the tendon and gradually recover sensations.
I also I have great memories of my childhood in the mountains and that has made it run now is one of my passions.

great job


Freebird said...

Hey TK

Two ideas to quickly mend your hamstring and/or Achilles quickly:

Used PRP to repair my hamstring and it worked great (this is after months of little progress).

David said...

I've battled achilles pain in the past, and have had great success with Alfredson's eccentric calf drop technique to recover. There is decent scientific evidence backing its efficacy, so I'd suggest looking it up if you haven't already. Patience is required though - 12 weeks to fully recover in some cases.

Note that there is a slight, but important, difference in rehab technique between insertional tendonopathy (pain at the heal) and midpoint tendonopathy (closer to calf).

Best of luck, and have fun on the flatirons in the meantime!

fabrice said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
fabrice said...

Super ces nouvelles

Bon rétablissement et merci pour vos écrits.
Je retrouve dans vos écrits et les photos qui les accompagnent tout ce qui m'inspire dans cette discipline de course à pied "légère", la nature qui nous accueil, l'originalité et la singularité d'un homme plein d'humilité.

Steve said...

Congrats on being an Uncle. Looking forward to meeting you in San Diego. Are you going to get the chance to hit up some of our trails out here?

Barry Bliss said...

Wish the movie tour was passing through NYC, but it's cool.
Your pictures show me mountains and trails I never knew existed.
Beautiful places.

I agree with Dallas Green.

Keep living a real life, Anton.

tim white said...

Hey Anton. If you don't mind divulging what are the New Balance with green laces you were wearing before UTMB.... pictured in the post below? Thanks!


PatrickCT said...

Anton: I'll strongly second David's advice about Alfredson's eccentric calf drop technique - I didn't start it soon enough after injury of the achilles, so it took me a bit longer, but I was able to run during the Alfredson technique and the achilles is virtually 100% now...

Sabrina said...

Hey Toni,

your blog is a very good one - reading your post is really great! You are a very crazy dude! I met you at after the matterhorn ultraks! Thank you for the photo with you! Maybe you will like our website

Best regards and many luck for your next projects! Sabrina

Hoppy said...

Anton ,nice chatting with you briefly in Cham. Man !that was some epic weather and race atmosphere we had over there. I did make it round the hill, albeit slowly -battling my own issues .Can't wait to go back next year, knowing the terrain a little better and roll the dice once again : ) good health and happy trails to you . Paul Hopi .

Anton said...

All - thanks for the advice on the achilles tendon. I've been doing the eccentric heel-drops since before UTMB, and things have definitely improved but it's not 100% yet. Getting there, though.

Steve - I'm only going to be doing casual jogging while I'm on the film tour, probably no more than 60min/day or so. I have a decent bit of experience in the north county area, though, and will probably get a run in at either Torrey Pines or San Elijo Lagoon.

tim white - The shoes with the green laces are a pair of custom NB MT110s that have a burly toe rand for durability and stability on scree and talus.

Mike M said...

Hi Vern

I'm thinking of buying In The High Country off Vimeo too. When you buy it what format does it download in? I've never used Vimeo before.


tim white said...

Interesting. They appear grey or light blue with orange toe rand and neon green laces and N logo. Very cool colorway! Any chance they'll be available to purchase someday? Thanks Anton!


Anonymous said...


It was good to finally introduce myself to you last night at the Meet and Greet @ Sherpa's.

I found this video today and its a review of your Racing Pack he is pretty popular when it comes to reviewing running gear online. He speaks great things and even throws a few personal compliments your way in the beginning.


Unknown said...

Mike M - i was worried about the download too since i use linux, but it ended up being no big deal. Seems like a regular .mp4 file too me.

Unknown said...

Hello Anton,

thanks for the new blog post.

You may know all of the following, but there may be something new to learn. I wonder how tight your calf muscles are. Especially if the middle muscle is tight it tends to pull achilles tendon so much that problems do arise.

The problem is that the muscle does not tell it has problems. Instead, it works like other muscles and passes pain to tendons and joints. For example, I have lost the count of cases where someone tells about a pain in knee and I ask how are the muscles in the side of thigh. "Oh, there is nothing wrong there." "Let me test." Usually the result of testing is a yell.

The good news is that it is quite easy to stretch calf muscles by your fingers, if you know what you are doing. The bad news is that it hurts a lot on the first time, if the muscles are really tight. If you do the stretching, no running on the same day after the stretching. Running before is not forbidden, but as it makes muscles even more tight it is not advisable. Furthermore, no stretching on consecutive days.


Mike M said...

Thanks Kevin I'm on Linux too!

Enzo said...

Go Anton, UTMB 2014 will be your race!!! Congratulation for your film, very nice.

Barefoot Alex said...

Much love from your Maui Ohana!

rslkly said...

Hey Tony,

I met you n the street a couple of days ago in the Mission in San Fran. I hope the screening went well, and I promptly bought Into the High Country on Vimeo when I got back. Great film...props to you and Joel. I want sticky rubber on my 110's!! Keep up the good and good luck on the recovery of the achilles. I'm huge fan of both you and your NB shoes!!

Thanks for the motivation.

Russell Kelly

Anonymous said...

Es un placer volver a leerte después de tantos días.
Tengo ganas de comprar In the High Country en Vimeo, creo que seguro será muy muy interesante.

También he empezado recientemente a probar el calzado minimal y a correr con el. Tengo ganas de empezar a hacer muchos kilómetros con esas zapatillas.

Saludos! Continua inspirando de esta manera.

ESV said...

Hey Anton you have inspired me to start running and getting in better shape. I am interested I going the minimal route. What kind of minimal road shoes would recommend? I picked up a pair of MT 110 for the trail. I need to slowly build up so I can wear these but any advice would be appreciated. God bless!!

CW said...

Had a blast meeting you at the Lascaux.
Amazing runner and man.
Best of luck.

Marek Bialoglowy said...

Hi Anton, good luck with your recovery! Hope we can see you competing at the UTMB again.

Vern at said...

Mike M,

Sorry I haven't answered until now - just read through the comments for the first time. I think the video was MP4. I watched it on QuickTime on my Mac. Come to think of it, I hope I didn't lose it when my mac crashed! Will go make sure I've got it. Highly recommended.

Barry Bliss said...

@ Brad maddox
Who would go to a website suggested by a spammer?
I sincerely don't get it.

Uzbek said...

Hi Tony,
If you get a chance to reply, or if anyone else wants to enlighten me, I would really benefit as a runner if I understood reasons why you so frequently run two-a-days in your training. What I have read online has only told me it is a good way to get high mileage weeks in etc. but what do you, or anyone else see, are the benefits. Forgive my rookie -like question.

IRONica said...

Hi Anton,

hope the recovery period ended well and good luck from Italy for the upcoming season...I'll follow your adventures!


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Dear Anton,

Congratulations on the summer release and tour of your movie In The High Country.

I am Executive Assistant to Rich Roll, who is an accomplished athlete. Rich hosts a very popular podcast on all things wellness with some of the brightest and most forward thinking minds in health & fitness, including world-class athletes, doctors, nutritionist, trainers, entrepreneurs & artists. The mission of the podcast is to help empower people to become their best, most authentic self.

The audience for the show is vast and global, consistently ranking in iTunes’ top-10 in the Health category and total downloads since December exceeding 1 million.

I am reaching out to you on Rich’s behalf because we would love to have you on the show as a guest. In the past, Rich has had the pleasure of interviewing Ironman World Champion Chris McCormack, 70.3 world champion Terenzo Bozzone and currently scheduled are ultra runners Dean Karnazes, Timothy Olsen and Charlie Engle.
I know the listeners would love hearing about your journey on becoming a mountain runner as well as your approach to running.

For more information on Rich and the show, here is the link to Rich’s website: and a link to the podcast on iTunes:

Please let me know if you are interested. You can contact me at

Rich and I very much look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,
Dahlia Price
Executive Assistant to Rich Roll

Barry Bliss said...

I live in NYC.
Need any help while in town, or like to be guided on a run (I know many routes over bridges etc.), just email me at
Have a safe trip.

Unknown said...

Wow, this amazing ! The view is fantastic!

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Hoppy said...

You clowns belong in a circus ! No respect for a mans creative blog space , shame on you . Hopi .

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dsdsd said...

Climbing up the mountains is such a dangerous task and very scary.

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