Scoop of Chocolate, Scoop of Vanilla

As I ponder my future as an insane E.N.T.R.E.P.R.E.N.E.U.R., outside enthusiast, former golfer (this is truly wrong to be former…I am a golfer dammit, but being in your 30’s is a kiss of death for that sport), ultra-runner, open-water swimmer, I wonder what the goal should be. Well, nothing sums it up better than doing whatever it takes to live in my Sweetspot.

What is a Sweetspot? See for yourself. This is WISDOM and brilliant:

What is MY Sweetspot: WAIT….

So I say to You and Ask You: “Don’t waste my time, C’MON, Push me!”

YOU: SEA BASS

ME: Grilled?

YOU: Sautéed

ME: I’m With You

YOU: Potatoes Au Gratin

ME: Head Nod, getting Nervous

YOU: Asparagus

Now, before I answer, I want to know if YOU know YOUR SWEETSPOT?

What is MY Sweetspot: …Developing clear visions of complex situations by exhausting every avenue to gain understanding (through research) in order to maximize practical ideas that inspire and empower. What does this mean? I created the PGA TOUR Network to inspire and empower golf fans. I ran the Leadville Trail 100, a complex task considering that most training had to occur in the dark before my family was awake, to inspire and empower myself and those around me. I created Blush Marketing (well…forget it..you don’t want to know this one).

What is YOUR Sweetspot AND are you living in it? (Ouch, that 2nd questions is just as difficult). You first!

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Ordinary Athlete Post Leadville – What’s Next?

What’s next? It has been a few days since the amazing 100-mile run in Leadville. Since I cannot bring myself to think about it, I am going to write my external conscious for ideas and input.

As a child, there were 3 things that I wanted to be when “I grew up.” First, I wanted to be a world-class amateur golfer. Second, I wanted to be a famous Country and Western Star. Third, I wanted to be a successful entrepreneur. Should I pursue, again, one of these…and/or should I pursue another ridiculous physical challenge, like swimming the English Channel?

Swimming the English Channel?

First, I am acknowledging that I am still not grown up. This relieves a lot of pressure for me. I have a few more years until I have to truly make any serious decisions. I am also going to break down for you why the other ideas were not in the cards for me. But before I do, one of my favorite questions is, “How old would be if you didn’t know how old you were?” Well, I would be 12. Enough said.

World-Class Amateur Golfer

In my opinion, true golfers are the world-class amateurs. The Masters invite for me would be an invitation to join the Walker Cup.

My friend John Maginnes could be interviewing me instead:)

Unfortunately, I need to win a club championship before that and be an amazing golfer that wins a super-amateur event (like the Southern or Sunnehanna) and that looks like a long way aways. Why can’t I win without practicing? For you old school golf fans out there, you as well as me know that the world of golf is a gentlemen’s game. One does not play for money. One plays for the spirit of the game. One plays for the battle of wits and mind over matter. There is a reason that Francis Ouimet won one of the greatest games ever played. He won the 1913 U.S. Open over the two world’s best golfers, Britons Harry Vardon and Ted Ray. What made this victory so amazing is that Francis was a caddie and an amateur. That is why Bobby Jones was so phenomenal. He beat the world’s best fulltime professionals practicing law and playing golf as a game. During my days on the PGA TOUR, broadcasting, not playing, I was able to play with amazing golfers like my good friend Mark Carnevale, 1992 PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year. One thing was clear, “These Guys Are F’Ing Good”. I invented that tagline. GSD&M shortened it and trademarked it. Oh yeah, I still believe that I can beat them with the wind at my back, when there is a lunar eclipse, and I get into the zone. This just has not happened yet. Next dream….

Country and Western Star

This one is very simple. Read what happened last year when Jack Ingram showed up at career day at my daughter’s school. WTF?

Can I live this dream?

Bottom line is that I just don’t have the talent RIGHT NOW. It could come… (what an Ordinary thing to say). Plus, to win in this game, you have to give it your all over many years. Jack earned it. His last album is awesome. I obviously have not. But hope is a strategy in this world.

Successful Entrepreneur

I never dreamed of being Gordon Gecko. At one time, I did think that Richard Rainwater was THE MAN. But, in truth, all I wanted was to be like my dad. I wanted to be an E.N.T.R.E.P.E.N.E.U.R.

Please spell E.N.T.R.E.P.R.E.N.E.U.R...forget it...just buy it

Say that 3 times fast. The good news here is that entrepreneurs only get better with age and I am just starting my quest. Shoot…4 companies later, I have had some practice. Who do I want to become? I do not have ONE hero in this space, I have over 1 million. Everyone who quits their job and decides to employ people and try and make it is my hero. I am toasting you ENTREPRENEUR. Here we toast together, lose together, win together and in the process live the American Dream.

You vote? Should I swim the channel, chunk it all for the Walker Cup, make a run for Nash-Vegas, or build the next empire? Or, should I try something else?

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Kirk Coburn’s Leadville Trail 100 2010 Race Report

“The Dude abides. I don’t know about you but I take comfort in that. It’s good knowin’ he’s out there. The Dude. Takin’ ‘er easy for all us sinners. Shoosh. I sure hope he makes the finals.” – The Stranger  (The Big Lebowski)

What was my key to this race? I was going to run with love no matter how scared, hurt or tired I became. I thought about  Khalil Gibran, who wrote what has become the theme of this journey:

“Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake bitter bread that feeds but half man’s hunger.  And if you grudge the crushing of grapes, your grudge distills a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man’s ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night. All work is empty, save when there is love; and when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.” – The Prophet

The Dude Abides and Smiles 12 hours prior….

Pre-Amble

I write this race report about an epic event that started over a year earlier and “ended” in a celebration just a few short days ago. I will try to stick to the race itself and leave the surrounding pre and post-drama to other episodes of my blog.

The Numbers

By the numbers, my team and I ran the 2010 Leadville Trail 100 in 27 hours, 50 minutes and 35 seconds. WAHOO!!!

The Credits

I say team because if Jason and Ken did not put the Rogue Ultra Team together, I would be ripped, swimming miles every day and look healthy. Unfortunately, I am droopy, sleep deprived and generally insane. My team included the other runners that I spent countless hours with who became my family: Ken, Jason, Dr. David, Carrie, John, Paul and a host of other journey seekers (for a description of each character, read Thursday – The TV Show is Born! and that blog shows my psyche in its more guttural form). I say team because my crew and pacer team were phenomenal and critical to the celebration.My crew spent 24+ hours together waiting for me to stumble through every aid station. I think this is a worthy section to note that even the crew had amazing experiences and were able to see how this event transcends “ultra-running” from a selfish event to an epic journey experienced together. I say team because the infamous triathlon team from Austin, Team T-Rex, sent a delegation of 4 strong eaters to pace me the final 50 miles. I could not have done this without them.  Bix, Joe, Matt and Don…If loving you is wrong, I do not want to be right. I say team because I had no idea how to stay alive out there without the true experts like Meredith Terranova and Dr. Patricia Rosen. And finally, there were others out there whose words of wisdom and encouragement kept me going and believing: Ken Chlouber (“What the Hell does that have to do with anything?”), Heidi Armstrong, and the crazy Gordon.

The Quick Backstory

When the running community met me just 15 months ago, there were doubts that I could pace my good friend and coach Jason Lippman the last 50 miles of the 2009 Leadville. Read about that experience…the bottom line is that I have struggled over the past 15+ months with the most important element of ultra-running: attitude.

A few of the key words that kept me going:

What transpired over 15 months? Well, if you were there, you would have seen a bunch of crying, yeast infections, decommits, expletives, laughter, stories that made the rest of the team try and hang themselves (remember airplane?) and general melodrama. Just the way I like it, uh huh uh huh.

The Start

When we arrived in Colorado a week before the race, I was committed to enjoying a family vacation void of thinking about the race. If I was not ready now, too late.  I did not think about the race (ok, plan for the race), until the day before. I decided to spend the night in the beaver’s tail of the satellite office of Rogue Ultra: Jason’s sofa in Beaver Creek. I fought for covers and comfort with Jason’s dog, Emerson, the entire 4+ hours I was down. At 2am, we headed to Leadville. When we arrived, every one seemed to be alive with energy. I walked to the starting line as if I owned the joint. If you don’t got it, fake it is my motto.

I knew something very very comforting and very very scary: There was no excuse. My body felt great. I had no one to blame for my performance except for ME. My greatest fear was getting to the HURT and not having what it takes to keep going. I was not sure if I had it. Time to find out.

As I walked to the starting line, I carried my Flip HD video camera to document my attitude and awareness from the start all the way to the finish. I wanted to document the whole experience regardless of the outcome.

Mile 0 – 13.5: Going Anaerobic

Mile 13.5 – 23.5: Coke and the Birth of Bombing Downhill

Mile 23.5 – 27.5: Metallica Nostalgia

Mile 27.5 – 30.5: IT is a Band in the Knee (Here We Go Again)

Mile 30.5 – 39.5: Can I pole-vault down to Twin Lakes?

Miles 39.5 to 50: Big Dreams & High Hopes

Mile 50 – 60.5: Burial and In Memory of a Legend

Miles 60.5 to 69.5: Spiritual Heretic and To The Pain Consequences

Mile 69.5 – 72.5: The Big Toe: Broken

Mile 72.5 – 76.5: Death on a Stick MATE!

Mile 76.5 – 85.5: Bad Form, Cheating and the 17 mile Road

Mile 86.5 to 100: In 3 HOURS Baby!!!

As I ran down the red carpet, my video camera was recording and I was looking for my ladies, my coaches, my team, Ken Chlouber, and anyone else that helped me get here. I did it. I felt great. AND, I stayed true to my promise: I worked with love. Thank you for reminding me of this Mike!

“when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God”

The Dude Abides!

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Leadville 2010: May Queen to the Red Carpet: Mile 86.5 to 100

Well, I found Jan who always did an awesome job getting me to our crew chair.

Would not take WALK for an Answer

After spending a few minutes in tent getting food and looking for a doctor. NO NO NO, I learned my lesson. I was just going to confirm that every doctor in Leadville had my picture and was notified to mess with me. As Jan led me out of the aid station officially, she guided me to the chair. What happened? I love aid stations. I sat down and decided to change socks, powder my feet, eat and chill. I know, I had to do it. At this point, the big gun, Don Sansom, a Boston Marathoner, was pacing me home. He had the legs, but Joe informed him that it would take us a long time due to my condition.

I really felt good, but my feet were BLISTERED!

This was by far the coldest aid station. I put on an extra top and gloves to get home. Somehow, in the aid station, Jan found me another Tylenol (just 1…they said their very last one…sorry everyone). When I started to talk to the crew (while in the chair relaxing), a woman DOCTOR who was crewing for someone next to us handed me 3 Advil’s and told us that you can mix pain meds. I felt like I was cheating to take pain meds, but my vagisil was not working.

We left May Queen at 7 minutes before 5am. My goal was 28 hours. To do this, I had to leave May Queen a little after 4am. Don and I walked down the road, shot some video and laughed about having a little over 5 hours to make it. As we hit the trail by the lake, a miracle happened. My IT bands were not buckling. I asked Don to open it up and we ran. Did we run? We broke speed records. I am not sure what it is, but when I am getting close to the barn, I haul ass. I also enjoy passing people and saying, “good work” while they look at me in contempt. Maybe this is a guttural reaction to training for a year with people faster than me. Sorry…I enjoyed passing peeps!

Don and I somehow ran the entire lake section (besides a few uphills) and finally hit the road. I drank enough to stay hydrated and ate, but my consumption had gone down now. The cold and the excitement was fueling me. Don and I ran the entire road to the train track turn off. When we hit that turn, we walked a little and then ran to the uphill climb to a long dirt road. We must have caught 40 people since May Queen.

As we ran this road, the excitement was building. Did you know that this road has more false summits than Sugarloaf. WTF? This road just became the single longest track in history. I wanted to run the entire track (out of fear that the 3 “Advil” that I was slipped in May Queen…OKAY…It had to have been Narcotics…I felt awesome!) but after the 2,300th false summit, we walked some.

As we crested the road and saw the stadium and the finishing road, Don and I began to run. Then we power-walked up the finishing road until we could see the red carpet. When it came into view, I was STOKED. We ran the entire 1-mile finish in. I did it. I was going to beat my original 28-hour goal by 10 minutes!!! We ran from May Queen in less than 3 HOURS!!! Ken, it must be narcotics. Praise you oh DOCTOR crew member in May Queen, I owe you.

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Leadville 2010: Fish Hatchery to May Queen: Mile 76.5 – 85.5

Joe and I left the crew and headed down to road to Sugarloaf. I power-walked again. We were now a few minutes behind schedule, but I was not worried. Joe and I hit the road and were immediately passed by a runner holding onto his pacer. We ended up seeing them again and the runner continued to be dragged up (THIS IS CHEATING) Sugarloaf. BAD FORM! Your pacer can be a mule by carrying objects, but they cannot hold on or be pushed.

Joe Haus, considering Leadville 2011, IN a SPEEDO!

As Joe and I began to climb Sugarloaf, my IT bands decided to wage war against me on the uphills too. This was the first time this really happened. The ROAD (that #$%^*& road, I love you) must have trashed them all over the place. I should have done more clamshells. I had to teach my right leg how to move up hill. The sticks help some but every step my leg would buckle!!! I was laughing and nervous BUT this was not going to beat me. I willed my legs to work and in 2-3 minutes, I began to power walk up. Joe and I made awesome time catching 10’s of people including the two brothers that the pacer dragged the runner up the mountain. When Joe and I hit the 137th false peak, we started to descend. The uphill on Sugarloaf is awesome. My lungs were working well. I was drinking and continuing to eat and salt. As we headed down, my legs began to buckle again. In truth, I was happy to power walk but I really really wanted to run. Everything else on my body was working except for my knees (and the broken toe and blisters but this was table stakes).

After walking 17 miles down a 1-mile stretch from the base of Sugarloaf to the entrance of the Colorado trail, we began to descend. OUCH!!! I could not walk and began to pole vault down the trail. This was the most painful and difficult section of the course for me. From the time I started the race to now, the 1 mile Colorado trail grew to 9 miles, added 3 more bridges, and became much more rocky than I remembered. Joe was awesome to get me through there. We were passed by a few people and all I cared about was getting to May Queen by 4am. We made it there by 4:33am. I had less than 5 ½ hours to get to the red carpet. At the current pace and with my math inability, I was going to skip the aid station.

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Leadville 2010: Tree Line to Fish Hatchery: Mile 72.5 – 76.5

Joe Haus picked up the baton to the disappointment of Bixby and began to pace me. The temperature began to drop here and we were about to hit what I thought last year was DEATH ON A STICK MATE! I decided to practice judo and go with the road this year. I had two strategies. First, I wanted to make it to Fish Hatchery in less than 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Kirk Brand Coburn in Leadville

In Fish Hatchery enjoying the Ramen and Salt

Walking at a sub 17 minute pace (17 times 4 divided by the square root of pi would be the remainder of…damn, this math is too hard to do). Thank goodness Joe is a numbers guy and told me that our current pace would work. Of course since Jason and I walked last year and were caught by the entire field on that road (not really but it sure felt that way), I was going to run if the headlamps behind us were running too. Well, no one else ran and based on my super-human ability to power walk with the titanium sticks, I chose to walk.  SOMETHING ODD happened here and is something that makes no sense: The 4 miles somehow was longer than I remembered. Our sub 17min/mile pace still took longer than 1 hour 15 minutes.

NOTE: The space/time continuum coming back into Leadville the last 50 miles changes. 50 miles is really 70 miles. I promise.

Well anyway, we made it to Fish Hatchery aid station. I checked in and weighed. I was 3 pounds heavier now than when I started. Oops…too many gu’s! I asked the doctor (well, he acted like one) to help me. Unfortunately every medical person on deck was working on some poor soul having a seizure or something. All I wanted was tape or something for my IT bands (which were killing). When they finally finished, I had the following conversation with the “doctor”:

KIRK – “Can you tape my knees? My IT bands are shot.”

DOCTOR – “That will not work. You are an idiot.”

KIRK – “I am sorry. I am not dying, but it would help me finish this run. What can you do to help me?”

DOCTOR – “What have you done in the past about this?”

KIRK – “I have never had this problem before. What do you recommend?”

DOCTOR – NO REPLY

KIRK – (WTF look on my face. Is this guy for real?) “Uhhh”

DOCTOR – NO REPLY

KIRK – “Well 10 years ago, I had an IT issue, but that was when I was fat.”

DOCTOR – “Well, what did you do then?”

KIRK – “I don’t remember.”

DOCTOR – NO REPLY

KIRK – (this guy will be strangled sometime, but I am in too good of a mood to do it myself)

DOCTOR – NO REPLY

KIRK – “Ok dammit, can I have a pain killer?”

DOCTOR – “Yes”

KIRK – “And????”

DOCTOR – “Here is ONE”.

KIRK – “C’mon Joe, were are outta here”.

I decided here to keep on my street shoes despite the blisters forming. I was not sure if the blisters were due to the water crossing even though I dried them, added powder and changed shoes in Twin Lakes, due to the street shoes, due to being on my feet all day, and/or a combo on them all. So, I did the best think, nothing.

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Leadville 2010: Half Moon to Tree Line: Mile 69.5 – 72.5

We finally entered Half Moon aid station and it was unfortunately not filled with leprechauns like 2009. However, we did run into Barefoot Ted and the sweet little Paulette who we met climbing up Sugarloaf the first time. She was talking to the doctor about her fractured foot. He told her that if she wanted to QUIT, she would have to walk down to Tree Line or Fish Hatchery. Welcome to Leadville. I also asked the doctor about taping my knees or cutting out my tie band. He just laughed and told me that nothing could help me. Thanks!

As Bix and I headed down, I kicked a rock with my street shoes on. I thought that I burst a blister and it was bleeding, but come to find out, I broke my middle toe.

Don Sansom, Ken Chlouber and David Bixby

Bix and I decided to leave after downing raw ramen (this is just wrong…they had plenty of time to cook it, but this was obviously a tactic to break the weak mind…not gonna do it!). I noticed that I was drinking less due to the cold but continuing to eat and take my salts. We basically hobbled down to Tree Line. David called Jan (which I warned him would only make her think that I was dead) and did not get an answer.

When we arrived at Tree Line, my fearless crew was sleeping WELL!!! We woke them up and began to change pacers. Bixby got me to Tree Line early. We were back on track to hit 28! Bixby earned his title.

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