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Jemez 36M 2015 Memories – Plus Drooling, Camping, and the Return to EB

Just wanted to provide a quick update on my Jemez 50 Mile DNF last month and why it has been so quiet on EB for the last six weeks.

Jemez 50M DNF

The Jemez Mountain Trail Run is a favorite race of mine and takes place in the beautiful New Mexico mountain terrain surrounding Los Alamos at the end of May. Great organizers, local support, and fellow runners. This was my 5th year in a row making the road trip west for a weekend of trail running goodness.

Beautiful conditions for a run in the mountains at the 5:00am start for the 50 milers.

A few of the stronger memories from my 12 hour adventure…

Enjoying the early miles with the tribe. Sun rising. Mountains coming alive.

The first climb up Pajarito mountain (by mile 16) was ugly. One step forward, two steps back. I had no response. Spirit crushed and ready to drop at Ski Lodge aid station (mile 18.6).

The sight of the glorious blue bench at the top of Pajarito letting you know you were about to head back down.

Made it to the Ski Lodge and enjoyed sitting in the sun, eating, and contemplating my drop. A friend from Oklahoma, Nancy, would soon arrive at the Lodge and we chatted about the Pajarito mountain grunt.

I believe the conversation had lots of “f’n” and “sucked” in it.

After a bit of rest, some calories, and conversation, I kind-of, sort-of built up some Hope reserves and headed out with Nancy where I could take the Pipeline aid station cut-off (mile 21.4), finish 50k for the day, and not revisit the snarl of Pajarito mountain. Nancy would continue on the 50 mile course.

On way to Pipeline, I looked back down the trail and saw Bill Geist steadily moving his way along for a just-getting-started 50k day. I shared my surprising troubles at Pajarito 1 and my thoughts on taking the 50k cut-off instead of revisiting Pajarito again. Bill shared some insights that lit a fire to go after the 50 mile finish again. “Hey, you may just feel better the second time up Pajarito.”

Oh the ultra memory. It’s short, very short.

The club over the head from Pajarito 1 was now mostly erased from memory and I took the Nate’s Nemesis loose scramble drop into the Caldera instead of the right turn back for a 50k finish.

Nancy and I worked together throughout the Caldera and off-trail scramble back out. A grunt-run combo throughout.

Still hopeful after leaving Pajarito Canyon aid station (mile 31.4).

Get back up and over Pajarito Mountain and to the Ski Lodge by cut-off and we will have ourselves a finish.


Once the climb began, the legs only had one gear and it wasn’t fast enough. Deciding to listen to some tunes to mask the discomfort and maybe increase the pace, the often more rocky, aggressive music of Foo Fighters, Linkin Park, and Queens of the Stone Age was replaced before I left with Edie Brickell, Tracy Chapman, Cranberries, and 10,000 Maniacs. Hearing Natalie Merchant’s light and melodic voice caused a chuckle and somehow seemed fitting.

We likely revisited that sub-pedestrian pace of 1 mile / hour which brought back a few memories from 2012.

And then ice pellets started falling from the sky.

Looked more like Dippin’ Dots than snow.

Nancy swore. I pathetically chuckled. (Our 2014 snowy adventure provides a bit of additional context. 🙂 )

Fortunately it didn’t last long but did add to the adventure.

Midway up the switchbacks on way to the blue bench, we knew we weren’t going to make it to the Ski Lodge in time.

The death march continued until we made it to the ridge and sat on a fallen tree overlooking the town of Los Alamos and the surrounding mountains.

We sat in silence for a couple minutes.

Stood up.

“Let’s head down.”

What was about to become an 18.6 mile day became a 36 mile, 12 hour adventure thanks to friends and community believing I could do more than I thought I could on this day.

The power of our tribe.

Till next year…


Then my world went gray-ish.

Frustrated and paralyzed.

I had so many things I wanted and needed to do.

More funk. More frustration. More funk.

Life does not proceed without the inhale in partnership with the exhale.

After some reflection, I feel like I had over-life’d myself.

And I would compare it to something similar to over-training, in that I often don’t know I had gone to “that place” until the damage is done.

So I reduced many of my life loads to hopefully progress towards a non-drooling state.


Over the last few weeks this also included visiting family up in Minnesota and North Dakota, and camping in the Black Hills and Estes Park as we circled back down to Texas.


Not a single run stride but lots of family time in nature.

A walk around Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills.

A walk around Sylvan Lake in the Black Hills.

The family snowball fight about to begin in the Rocky Mountain National Park at Bear Lake.

The family snowball fight about to begin in the Rocky Mountain National Park at Bear Lake.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park


Feeling better (less drooling) and ready to share more goodies on EB to support our community.

Thanks to those that checked in and made sure I was still alive and hadn’t been swept away by the Texas rain.

13 podcasts in-the-can from the last few months. To be shared soon.

Be active – Feel the buzz!

David –

About the author

David Hanenburg David Hanenburg is the passionate dirt-lovin' creator of Endurance Buzz and has been playing in the endurance sports world since 2000 after knockin' the dust off of his Trek 950 hardtail thanks to a friend asking to go ride some local dirt. In 2007 he ran his first ultra on the trails and fell in love with the sport and its people. For more information on David's endurance sports journey, check out the About page.

6 Responses to “Jemez 36M 2015 Memories – Plus Drooling, Camping, and the Return to EB”

  1. on 24 Jun 2015 at 11:07 am Olga King

    Your family is beautiful. Everyone needs an inhale.

  2. on 05 Jul 2015 at 9:07 am Cliff Matthews

    Welcome back! I said hello to you while we were running up the dry creek at the beginning of JMTR50M, thanking you for Endurance Buzz. I was nervous for you when EB went on an unannounced hiatus, but I figured things would straighten out.

    Last weekend I DNF’d Western States the very first of my four Grand Slam races (and also my first 100 mile DNF). That stung (and still stings) a bit, but I’m looking forward to the remaining runs and Javelina Jundred as well.

    My WS trip was also a whirlwind family vacation, never spending more than one night in a single place, stopping to sleep in Vegas, Reno, Olympic Village, Redwood City, San Diego and Phoenix before returning to Albuquerque.

    The kids got to swim in some cool pools, see some acts at Circus Circus, catch some of the pageantry of WS, swim in the Pacific, visit my dad and his wife and … on the way back we picked up a couple of rescue chinchillas as our new family pets.

    So, although we’re individuals with different ups and downs, I might have a little inkling of how you felt after JMTR.

    Your photos of your family in fun places show that you’re triply blessed: you have a great family, know that you have a great family and have both the desire and the opportunity to prioritize them.

    There are still a few months between now and May, but I’ll bet next year’s Jemez will be awesome. I look forward to seeing you there.

  3. on 09 Aug 2015 at 12:41 pm deb baker

    Thanks for sharing with us Dave, and welcome back! We care about you too!

  4. on 19 Aug 2015 at 7:54 pm David Hanenburg

    Yes indeed. Thanks so much Olga!

  5. on 19 Aug 2015 at 7:57 pm David Hanenburg

    Cliff – Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like wild and memory filled trip. All the best with Leadville 100 this weekend!

  6. on 19 Aug 2015 at 7:57 pm David Hanenburg

    Hey Deb, thanks so much! Hope all is well for you and our Arkansas tribe.