Thursday, January 31, 2008

I tried this once before, but since I sat down with a nutritionist yesterday, it's time to stick with it and see how the plan works. So to keep me honest, I'm posting my FitDay journal online. (Check out the "What the heck am I eating?!?" link to the right.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Online registration hits the Internet this Friday, February 1, 2008!!!!!

For those you don't yet know, I am a co-founder and co-race director of El Scorcho, a ridiculously foolish endurance run that takes place at midnight in Fort Worth, Texas in the middle of the summer.

Because we're so nice, we give you a choice--run 25 km or 50 km. That's 15.53499 miles or 31.06999 miles. We like to think of the two distances as La Scorchita and El Scorcho. But really, it's up to you. Both of them take a certain fortitude. Or stupidity. You make the call.

Here's some more info about the race:

El Scorcho takes place during the hottest part of the year. July. We apologize for last year's mild 80 degree temps. Hopefully, a heat wave will roll into town and drive the mercury up this year. Cause we want you to get your money's worth. If you plan to be out there awhile, you should know that the run starts at midnight and ends at 7 a.m. If you want your race time to be official, you've got to finish by then. And if you're not that fast... no worries, amigos. The run takes place in a city park, and runners who haven't finished by 7 a.m. may keep running. We may even leave out some tequila for you. But most support will be packed up at that time.

El Scorcho takes place in Trinity Park, Fort Worth, Texas. The course is located on a 3.1 mile loop. The course is a mix of crushed limestone, asphalt, the occasional concrete sidewalk, a couple of foot-bridges, and a basketball court. About half the course is lit at night by streetlamps, but as last year's entrants can attest, the lights don't always work, and it can get awfully dark at some parts. But hey--what do you expect? It's a midnight run. Bring a headlamp, a flashlight, or night goggles if you're worried.

Why run El Scorcho? Because it strokes our egos to have a bunch of crazies come out and run our race. Because a marathon is only the beginning. Because toenails are overrated. Because pain is enlightening.

Also, technical shirts will be given to all participants. 25 km and 50 km finishers will receive finisher's medals. 50 km finishers will also get something special. Last year, it was a commemorative El Scorcho star. Not sure what it'll be this year. But you'll like it. Or you won't. Either way, you'll have an endurance run under your belt.

Oh, and all proceeds from El Scorcho benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In that regard, the Team in Training folks will be out again in full force to encourage the runners throughout the night.

And finally, make sure to visit our flagship sponsor, Fort Worth Running Company. FWRunCo's owners, James"Six Pack" Newsom and Coach Jim "J-Money" Newsom are two stone-cold running geniuses who agreed to help us put together this insane jaunt through the night.

So register early and often, amigos.

Vaya con Dios.
I recently finished reading "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy. It was a mesmerizing and powerful read. Harsh and difficult at times, but ultimately tender and moving, "The Road" may be the best book I have read in a long, long time. McCarthy's story of a father and son traveling a bleak, ashen post-apocalyptic world elicited an emotional response I had yet to experience while reading. Perhaps being a new father heightened my empathy for the characters and the inherent understanding a parent has of the need to protect and care for one's child. I can't say that I enjoyed "The Road"--how does one enjoy a such a tale?--but I am grateful for having read it. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rocky Raccoon is this weekend. 50 miles of fun. I don't feel particularly well-trained for this event. Bandera was three weeks ago, and it went well, but I haven't run longer than 9 miles since. Of course, I was recovering the week after Bandera, and I suppose I can call the following weeks my "taper." But still... I don't know... we'll just have to see how it goes.

On a related note, I've been wanting to purchase a tiny digital camera to carry with me on trail runs. I saw some beautiful country during Bandera, and while the images are still fresh in my mind, I'd like to capture them for posterity (and to post here). So if anybody out there has a recommendation, let me know ASAP. I'm considering making a purchase before I leave for Huntsville.
Oh, and for the marathon brethren, Rich is starting something cool.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I have to start getting up earlier. That's the only definite way to get in my full workouts. Ezra is sleeping throughout the night, but he's more work in the morning, especially now that he has started eating "solid" food (mushy, single grain rice cereal). By the end of the day, I'm zonked and have little motivation to do anything other than hang with Nell and Ezra, eat dinner, and relax.

So here's the new plan. Every day, get up at 5:30 a.m. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, get to the gym when it opens at 6:00 a.m. and workout until 7:15 a.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, do yoga/stretching at home (while Nell goes to her gym) from 6:00 a.m. until 6:45 a.m. until Ezra wakes up. I'll do my long runs/bikes on Saturdays and Sundays.

Also, I'm meeting with a nutritionist next week. Since I lost a bunch of weight and became (relatively) healthy ten years ago, I haven't been very restrictive on my diet, and I've actually been less attentive as I've increased my endurance endeavors. But as my goals become more intensive (e.g., a 100-mile run), it makes sense to focus on all aspects of health, not just training. For the past couple of weeks, I've been (trying) to keep a food journal, and I've discovered that I eat a lot more than I thought, and I tend to snack on junk food later in the day. We'll see what the nutritionist recommends.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

2008 Bandera 50km Report I decided to run Bandera after finishing last year’s Waco 5-0, my only other trail race (and a great run). After completing the Waco 5-0, one of my fellow participants had said, “if you liked this race, then you’ll love Bandera. It’s similar, but with A LOT more rocks.” Um... that's an understatement.

So we (Donaldo and I) left Fort Worth for Kerrville, Texas around 10:30 a.m. the Friday before Bandera. After a Luby’s pitstop, we arrived at the EconoLodge a little before 4:30 p.m. While waiting to check-in, we met another Bandera runner. He told us the race site was about an hour away, so we quickly dropped off our suitcases and hopped on Highway 16. About 45 minutes later, we left the asphalt behind as we cruised along the caliche road leading to “The Lodge,” the official race headquarters located in the Hill Country State Natural Area.

We pulled up as night began to fall. Lots of crazy ultrarunners were hanging around, eating spaghetti, shooting the breeze. I picked up my packet, grabbed a plate of food, and took a seat. Instantly, we were in the midst of conversation with our table companions. Discussions ranged from past experiences at Bandera to training to injuries to post-race festivities. After polishing off a piece of pecan pie, my eyes started getting heavy, and I decided it was time to head back and get to bed.

My 4:45 a.m. alarm actually didn’t seem that early. (I think Ezra is due some of the credit for my ability to wake up before the sun.) I got dressed, and we made our way to an IHOP just down the road. 2 cups of coffee, 2 pancakes, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 pieces of bacon, and a plate full of hashbrowns later, I was sated and ready to run. We got to The Lodge about 45 minutes before the beginning of the race. I checked in, changed shoes twice, and took a seat on a bench until they called us to the starting line.
Bandera consists of three runs—100 km, 50 km, and 25 km. All three runs start at the same time, but in different locations. 109 of us were running the 50 km, and we had a short quarter mile walk to our starting point. Standing around shooting the breeze with my fellow runners, I was reminded again why I am leaning more and more toward ultra-events. The competitors were exceedingly laid back. Unlike a marathon, no one seemed concerned with getting to the front of the line or heading out quickly. There was no pre-race tension, no elbowing for extra room, no discussions of pacing. With little fanfare, the race began, and we trudged out toward the first of many, many rocky, hilly, evil climbs.
The course was mostly single-track and littered with rocks of all shapes and sizes, from tiny pebbles to bowling ball-sized boulders. The jagged rocks felt like they were going to impale my shoes (an older pair of Asics 2080s), and blisters soon formed under the arches of both of feet. The first 10 miles were the most technical, as we climbed up and down Cairn’s Climb, Boyle’s Bump, Sky Island, and Ice Cream Hill. Unfortunately, the early view from the top of the hills was obscured by fog, but once it burned off, you could see miles of beautiful hill country.
I met up with my dad at Nachos, the first fully-stocked aid station, where he helped refill my Nathan hydro-pack while I scarfed down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a coke. Temperatures had risen to the 70s, the clouds were gone, and the sun was shining. I put on my sunglasses and headed out.

Five miles later, I was at the Chapas aid station changing socks and liberally applying Body Glide to my blistered feet. Despite how the looked, my feet didn’t hurt that badly. My quads were getting sore from navigating the rocky descents, but overall I felt pretty good.

The next five miles took place on some dirt trails that had a few rolling hills, but none of the big, nasty climbs from before. There was little shade, and the sun started to fatigue me. I was happy to arrive at Crossroads, the next aid station, around mile 20. Donaldo was there to greet me and help with the water. I snagged a few potato and egg burritos and another coke before venturing back onto the trail. After a couple more tough climbs, the trail rounded back to the Crossroads aid station, where I fueled up for the last push over some brutal ascents/descents, including Lucky Peak.

Finally, I cruised up to Last Chance, an aid station half a mile from the finish where 50K runners turned left towards The Lodge and 100K runners turned right for another 50K loop. The aid station workers handed me a beer (apparently a Bandera tradition), which I gulped down in about 3 seconds before cruising to the finish line.

6 hours, 45 minutes, 12 seconds. 27th place overall out of 109 starters (only 87 would finish). I’ll be back next year.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Bandera race report is coming (soon), but in the meantime, check out these bad boys I picked up on sale. (After Bandera, I decided it was time to purchase trail shoes.)

Monday, January 07, 2008

***UPDATE***
Official Bandera results are now online. 109 runners started the 50 km, but only 86 finished (a 79% completion rate). I finished 27th overall in 6 hours, 45 minutes, 12 seconds.

I'll put together a more detailed race report over the next few days, but here are my general thoughts on Bandera.

Brutal. Steep. Rocky. Hilly. Narrow. Long. Hard. Boulders. Stones. Rocks. Warm. Exposed. Tough. Blisters. Cuts. Cactus. Ouch.

This monster 50 km in the Hill Country took me approximately 6 hours, 45 minutes (official results aren't out yet, and although I glanced briefly at the clock as I finished, I didn't pay too much attention to my exact time).

Stay tuned....

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