Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Michele "Bomb 'chele" Yates talks about Western States 100, Babies, Health and Ultrarunning

Team Colorado's Michele "Bomb 'chele" Yates was ready for Western States 100 after the birth of her daughter, Maya, but unforeseen health issues that have spiraled out of control forced her to withdraw. We haven't heard from Michele in some time, so we reached out to see how she was doing.

Bomb 'chele, it's been a while, we miss you! We are bummed to see you were forced to withdraw from WS100. How did you feel going into it? What were the circumstances that lead to the eventual withdrawal?

Oh man, I was soooo ready for Western States (or so I thought!). My climbing ability had significantly increased and I was super excited to test out my skills. Postpartum issues were pretty much no longer, and I felt strong. Although I felt these things, a few days before we left, I also felt like something was wrong. I have thyroid disease I inherited it from my dad (we found this out when I tanked at Rocky Raccoon 2014 before I got pregnant). I told myself 'whatever I needed to do to get on that starting line with a smile'. I figured it's too late to do anything about it now. Eventually, the extreme sleepiness I felt would take me out of the race. I was forced to have a "pacer" with me (in which I choose my hubby to run behind me, be quiet and make sure I didn't fall off a cliff :) I kept getting stopped at medical checks, so in order to speed up the process, I just kept my hubby with me. A day later when we returned to Colorado I saw my doc at Boulder Sports Medicine. Turns out my TPO anitbodies were in the 500's. They are supposed to be BELOW 9! Thus indicating a severe infection (my thyroid was destroying itself). A few other levels were off, too. I'm told that with levels that high, it typically means other autoimmune diseases are in play.

Preggers!        photo: Bomb 'chele
What is the situation with your health now?

My health would take a turn for the worst this past month. I had days were I couldn't even pick up my baby. The fatigue, depression, and weakness were almost unbearable. I was told anytime I step on the starting line, I would only have a 50/50 chance at performing. There is no cure for this disease, you can only try to manage it, but we would also have to take it a day at a time to see if I may have another disease or possibly cancer, too. Well, about a week ago I stared feeling better. I was able to get out of bed, and I am able to run some. So hoping for the best and still working with doctors.

We have seen a lot of athletes, particularly ultra runners, really suffer some detrimental health issues, even at the top of their careers (thinking of Geoff Roes, in particular). Do you think ultra running has something to do with this phenomenon? Running until your adrenal glands or kidneys give out or you become so dehydrated that your are negatively affecting your health is not exactly smart, right?

Yes, I think we push too hard sometimes or maybe just don't rest enough! I don't blame anyone--I love this sport and I think we all do and we have this uncontrollable passion when the trail are calling our names! My approach is to include cardio cross training and recovery days in my program so I know "this is the time I need to enjoy days off and this is the time I need to work hard." Although my adrenals were checked and they are working well for now! Yeah, it's just the infection and disease that needs to be managed.

So, you think there is a way to be more cautious about ultra training/racing with out causing
irreparable health issues? It can be done in training but a 100 mile race is still a 100 mile race?

Well, mine is inherited...however with the adrenal fatigue, etc., yes, I think structure in your training is a great idea. Build in recovery days and truly listen to your body. What is listening to your body? Do you have muscle tightness, soreness you don't normally? Yoga-roll out and ice bath. Are you sick- cold, sinus or respiratory infection? Don't work out!!! Rest!!! As I get older, I realize the importance of nutrition! Take care of yourself. What you put in is what you will get out!!!

You know when Michele is in the race, it is going to be fast.
photo: Dork Bros (hometown sponsors of Bomb 'chele)
Do you think running long distances so far into your pregnancy or so soon after giving birth contributed to where you are now? 

Nope, as far as the thyroid goes--yes it could have been birth that raised my levels so high but it doesn't have much to do with the sickness. Also, I feel as if I rested well in between and the hubby and I were a good team for my running comeback and taking care of Maya.

What would you do differently?

I don't think I would do anything differently at all. I really felt like I executed well. The only thing I think I would have to change is my mentality a bit. When I raced Black Canyon (2.5 months post-partum) I took a hard fall because my core stability just wasnt there yet. I needed to recognize that I can't eat/drink and run over technical terrain at the same time and if I am able to have another baby, I would do everything the same but take note on that only try to fuel when the terrain allows or stop and take care of myself then continue running.

What are your thoughts on Overtraining Syndrome?

Overtraining, geesh, it's such a tricky thing for some elites because we want to push that redline but not redline! So I think, again, if you build in recovery days to your program (and I believe you should have some structure, I know some people like to just go run trails every day, but again, that is where you aren't taking note of how much mileage you are putting in, nor are you resting enough, most likely). Everyone gets caught up from time to time in this awesome sport, it's learning from those mistakes and/or listening to your body that will keep your running life long.

What is the one race you want to run in your lifetime? 

I'd like to do UTMB, I was offered to this year but passed it up because Maya is still young, next year for sure if given the opportunity.

What are your thoughts on doping in ultra running? Do you think it is happening? There are "recreational drugs" going on (mainly Mary Jane: like in Half Baked: Jon Stewart Enhancement Smoker "Ever done an ultra? Ever done an ultra…ON WEED!?). Do you think that is the same thing?

I believe any race that is a national, world event or has prize money the runners should be tested! I do believe it's going on and I'm not sure about marajuana because I've never tried it but I know it's given to those who are in pain for medical purposes to ease the pain so if that is the case than I'd say it's cheating but again I'm not educated enough on that.

Fair enough. Don't do drugs, kids!

Thanks Michele! We hope for the best with your health and can't want to see you out there again, wrecking havoc on the trails! 


Michele, ready to get back to work!                                   photo: Bomb 'chele

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Andy "Flying Kick" Wacker 7 min late the the start of the Barr Trail Mountain Race…No Problem!

Flying Kick flies down the Barr Trail en route to the most exciting finish in BTMR history!  pic: Tim Bergsten/PikesPeakSports.us
"Yeah, I was late, you should try it some time!"


With all the attention about Barr Trail Mountain Race recently, I figure I'd like to write why everyone should run next year.


1) Post Race - Free pulled pork (or veggie) from Front Range Barbecue, Pineapp-Ale Wheat beer from Manitou Brewing Co. Not hungry? How about free massage to work out the kinks from the downhill. I was literally walked on by a masseuse!


2) Organization - Coming from someone who started 7 minutes late and still had flawless packet pickup, this is scary efficient. Plus a mustachioed race director in cheetah board shorts. (Go #TeamColorado)


3) Pike's Peak and Barr Trail - This is an amazing course, like nothing else it the world (and I've been around!).


4) Charity - The aid stations are operated by local high school cross country and track teams that compete for funding. Hard to choose between Minions, Jurassic Park and kids in tee-shirt tuxedos handing you Gatorade!


So next year, race it, and don't be late or Runner's World might embarrass you!


Andy "Flying Kick" Wacker 

Barr Trail Mountain Race


The 2015 BTMR top 5 men (and some guy is cheetah shorts, a mustache and a lot of red!)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Team Colorado Makes History at the 55th Mt. Washington Road Race, Monopolizes Podiums, Has Fun Doing It

Team Colorado takes the whole enchilada!       photo: Joe Viger (unofficial official Team Colorado photographer)

Team Colorado makes history at the 55th Mt. Washington Road Race this past weekend with some impressive performances. This 7.6 mile course starts on the Mt. Washington Road in Pinkham Notch, NH and climbs over 4,500 ft to the summit at 6,288 ft, with an average grade of 12%, some extended 18% grades and a big slap in the face with the finishing 22% grade at the very end lovingly named the "Wall".

Brandy "Mile-a-Minute" Erholtz conquers the dreaded 22% "Wall"                                        photo: Joe Viger 

New to Team Colorado--but no newbie--Summer Intern #1 Andy "Flying Kick" Wacker finished 2nd in 1:00:59, Zach "Banana Boy" Miller loaded up on bananas and beets to take 3rd in 1:03:15, Peter "The Prez" Maksimow broke into the top 5 (finally) with his 5th place in 1:03:55, 3X winner and masters champion, Simon "Gute" Gutierrez, was close on The Prez's tail (yes, he has a tail) with his 6th place 1:04:02, and 2X winner, Sub-1 hour Club and our favorite nomad, Rickey "Heavenly" Gates rounded out the 5 Team Coloradans with his 7th place in 1:05:25. That's right, we took 5 of the top 7 spots! The men's combined time was 5:17:36, the 2nd fastest team time behind our own 2012 team course record time of 5:12:28. We celebrated the Men's Open Team Championship by drinking out of Wacker's silver bowl trophy! 

Eric "Quadzilla" Blake looks on as Andy puts his bowl to good use. Heal up Eric, we missed you out there! photo: Le Prez



Above shots by Gianina Lindsey/SNAPacidotic




Team Colorado men (minus Heavenly) say "we live at this finishing altitude, why was that so difficult!     photo: Joe Viger

The performance of the weekend has to go to the Team Colorado Ladies as they swept all the top spots and set a NEW WOMEN'S OPEN TEAM RECORD of 3:44:13. Kim "Queen of Uphill" Dobson reigns once again with her overall win in 1:11:39, Brandy "Mile-a-Minute" Erholtz followed in 2nd  1:15:34 (a past Mt. Washington Champ), Laura "Honey Bee" Haefeli completed the trifecta with her 3rd place finish in 1:17:00 (also, a Mt. W Champ, seeing the pattern here?), and Donna "Gar-Gute" Gutierrez holding the team together with her 52nd place, 1:40:33. 

Laura "Honey Bee" Haefeli rounds out the top 3 Team Coloradans in 3rd Overall     photo: Joe Viger
Truly, the Queen of Uphill             photo: Joe Viger

Donna "Gar-Gute" Gutierrez puts steepness into perspective.    Photo: Gute

Huge congrats to the ladies for their New Team Record! Rewriting the record books one race at a time! They are also nurturing future Team Coloradans!



Congratulatory remarks also to 95 year old finisher, George Etzweiler, and new American Record holder, Joe Gray, clocking a 58:15 and all who were conquered the Hill, were on the other side of a camera lens or were there to support. This is what mountain running is all about! And then there was celebration and beer….

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Team Colorado Welcomes Zach "Banana Boy" Miller



Name: Zach "Banana Boy" Miller

Age: 26

Hometown: Kenyan Born, Lancaster, PA Raised, and Colorado Trained {basically a Kenyan-PA-CO hybrid! They warned us about those.}

Current residence: Manitou Springs, CO (Soon to be Barr Camp, Pikes Peak, CO) 

Zach eating an obscene about of banana,
it's a comon occurrence.  photo: Chef  l'√©quipe

Sponsors: NIKE, Chiquita Bananas (well, it should be)


Personal Bests: 
- 5k (track): 15:32.06
- 10k (track): 31:23.80
- Half Marathon (road): 1:10:51.52
- Winning the 2013 JFK 50 Mile with the 3rd fastest time in race history (5:38:53).
- Winning and setting the now former course record at the 2014 Lake Sonoma 50

Personal Worsts:
- Running off the front at the 2014 Les Templiers Ultra, bonking hard with about 5k left, and crawling my way in for a 5th place finish.



But man did he look good doing it! Team Colorado teammates Alex "Axel" Nichols and Sage "The Rage" Canaday, along with Zach, take the team gold at Les Templiers Ultra.         photo: Matthieu Byrdziak


















Notable Achievements:
- Member of the 2014 USA Mountain Running Team
- Member of the 2014 USA Long Distance Mountain Running Team--Gold Medal
- Member of the 2014 USA 100k Road Ultra Team
- Top 10 Finisher (9th) at the 2014 100k Road World Championships
- Helped Team USA to win gold at the 2014 100k Road World Championships
- Auto Qualifier for 2015 team USA Ultra Trail Team
- Auto Qualifier for the 2015 team USA 100k Road Ultra Team
- 2014 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Champion
- 2013 JFK 50 Mile Champion


Unicorn (Bat) Man/Luigi    photo: The Stank
Goals for 2015 and beyond: Do my best. Lay it all out there. Run with heart. Be nice to aid station workers.

Favorite trails: Cameron Cone, Section 16, Conestoga Trail (in PA).

Favorite workout: Incline Stuff (Repeats, 3/1's, and 1 rep done all out). I also like long up/down tempos on rampart range road and intervals on the "dirt track" in Garden of the Gods.

Favorite races: Conestoga Trail Run

Favorite beer: Does Root Beer Count? {Why yes, yes it does! What brand would that be?}


Website/Blog: whereeastturnswest.blogspot.com


Why Trail/Mountain/Ultra Running?: It's fun! I love mountains, trails, and running up.

Additional stuff you want to add {anything about your affinity for bananas?}: 

"Lego my legos" says Zach!
Life isn't about doing everything perfectly. It's about taking chances, trying new things, and enjoying the adventure of it all. To use the words of Theodore Roosevelt, it's about "…the man who is actually in the arena…":

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
      -Roosevelt

{OK, maybe we will discuss bananas next time, you can take a nap now!}


Caught napping on the job        Photo: Brandon Stankanowich

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Team Colorado Welcomes the Kilt Lifter himself Ryan "Highlander" Smith

Now you see why we call him the Highlander!

Name: Ryan "Highlander" Smith

Age: 35

Hometown: Harpenden, UK

Current residence: Boulder, CO

Sponsors: La Sportiva, Simple Hydration, Feetures! Socks, CarboPro

Silke "Smooth" Koester and Ryan. What do you keep in that Sporran, Ryan?
Personal Bests (or Worsts): One of only three people to finish the Boulder Bad Ass 100 (it wasnt a race, only 5 people started and it was only run once.but it was still awesome and stupid).

Notable Achievements: Never thrown up in a race before. Never DNFed a race. Never walked in a 100 miler. No doubt Ill experience some of these things soon.

Goals for 2015 and beyond: Run awesome stuff. Travel to cool places and do more of the former. Break 2:30 in the marathon (note: Ryan came very close as he placed 2nd in the New Jersey Marathon, 2:33:40, a few days ago. He blames all the beautiful gardens for slowing him down.). Surprise people at Western States. Surprise more people at UTMB.

Favorite trails: A tough one to be concise with but Harriman State Park, NY for sheer trail density, anything in the Lake District, UK for quality pub proximity, anything in the Moab area for sheer out-of-this-world feeling and literally anything in New Zealand because everything there is amazing.

Favorite workout: Anything with friends because suffering alone is weird.  

Favorite races: San Juan Solstice 50 because its hard and will eat you alive. The Trans Alps 8 day stage race because half the battle is surviving the camps and the scenery isn't too shabby. Also any Fell race in the UK or basically any race that finishes at a pub after climbing a mountain.


Favorite beer: Any non-hipster stout were they haven't ruined it by trying to put some fancy ingredient in it. Also any cask pulled ale where the bar tender had to exert some effort. My go-to local staple is either Upslope in Boulder or Odells in the Fort as they rarely make a bad beer.


Why Trail/Mountain/Ultra Running?: Because the scenery is spectacular and beer drinking is encouraged.



FTM: Living in Colorado you soon learn that everyone is more awesome than you.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Team Colorado Welcomes Allie "Mac" McLaughlin (Yes, her Manitou Incline PR is faster than yours!)

Name: Allie "Mac" McLaughlin

Age: 24

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

Current residence: Colorado Springs, CO

Sponsors: Great Harvest Bread Co. (NOW SEEKING, if you are interested, please contact us! Teamcoloradorunners@gmail.com)
2014 World Mtn Running Bronze Medalist
photo: Nancy Hobbs

Personal Bests: Manitou Incline - 20:07 (2010, Dang!), Indoor 3k - 9:22 (2010), XC 6k - 20:01 (2009), Pikes Peak Ascent - 2:33:42 (2014)

Notable Achievements: 2008 Colorado State XC 5A State Champion, 2009 NCAA XC All-American (5th place, 2nd ever best finish by a freshman behind Shalane Flanagan--2000), 2014 US Mountain Running Champion, 2014 Pikes Peak Ascent/WMRA World Long Distance Challenge Champion, 2014 World Mountain Running Bronze Medalist.

Goals for 2015 and beyond: I would really love to represent the US and race internationally
again as well as run a strong road half or 10k!

Favorite trails: Ute Valley, Greenland Open Space, and The Incline!

Favorite workout: I don't do workouts. Or I guess I just consider every run a workout?

(Don't let her size fool you, Allie also lifts weights, plays hockey, snowboards, wakeboards, swims, downhill mountain bikes, and humbles even the fastest of men!)

Favorite races: Nashville Rock n Roll Half, GoPro Vail Pass Half

Favorite beer: Vodka!

Instagram @alliemc3

Why Trail/Mountain/Ultra Running?: I love the technicality of trails and the places they take you!

"Struth!!!" says the large Australian. 2014 Pikes Peak Ascent.            photo: PikesPeakSports.us

Monday, April 6, 2015

Team Colorado Welcomes Sandi "The Riveter" Nypaver



Name: Sandi "The Riveter" Nypaver

Age: 26

Hometown: Parma Heights, OH

Current residence: Mecca of Trail Running, CO

Sponsors: Hammer Nutrition, Ultimate Direction, UGo Bars, and  Feetures!

Personal Bests (or Worsts):  I thought it was a good idea to run 100 miles without ever having run an ultra or trail race before and my sister agreed to pace me, so I ran it and ended up winning.

Notable Achievements:  I received the coveted Best Blood award while running Grindstone 100 in 2010. I still have a bump on my knee from a rock puncturing my skin.

Goals for 2015 and beyond: To perfect running like a dog (minus the running breaks to smell poop). They just love being outside running and are so happy to be running they don't even notice how challenging it is to run a steep uphill at altitude.

Favorite trails: Bear Trail in Ouray Colorado, but all the trails in the San Juans are pretty spectacular. I love Bear Canyon Trail in Boulder as well, so maybe I just like trails with the name Bear.

Favorite workout: The Quad Builder: 5 x 1/2 mile hill repeats with some shorter repeats after.

Favorite races: I Believe Trail Races, Mountain Masochist, Promise Land, and most likely a race I have yet to run. 

Favorite beer: It's Colorado, obviously no one here likes beer.


Why Trail/Mountain/Ultra Running?: Who wouldn't want to risk getting eaten by mountain lions, falling off cliffs, getting lost, getting caught in storms, puking their guts out at a race, or cause hours of self-induced pain? I'm pretty sure that's the definition of a good time. In all serious though, I just love running and being outdoors.