Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

It's been a week since El Scorcho Dos, so I figured it's time for a few thoughts on year two of putting on a midnight ultrarun. From my vantage point as co-RD, this year's race went much smoother than the inaugural El Scorcho. Despite the fact that we doubled our field to 400 entrants, it was less organizationally-challenging because we had done it before. Our volunteers come almost exclusively from Team in Training, and they are hands-down the best folks in the world to staff a race. They are enthusiastic, dedicated, and, best of all, athletes themselves, so they know how to cater to the runners. We had more than 30 Team in Training volunteers that kept El Scorcho on track all night and into the morning. We will be making a nice donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society soon.

We did, however, have several DNFs and a few medical issues during the race. Unlike last year, it hadn't rained in weeks, and the mercury was high. Thankfully, no one suffered any serious injuries; mostly cramping and some nausea. We did have one lady who tripped and cut her lip. Dr. Herrera and his medical team responded like lightning and were able to tend to her immediately. As she was catching a ride to her car, I told her I was sorry she had fallen. She stopped me right away and said, "Don't apologize to me. I'm the one who is sorry. This is such a great race you guys put on. I just wish I could've kept running. I'll be back next year!"

I've been checking the internet for race recaps, and about 99% of what I have seen is positive. I've only come across three complaints.

First, a few folks were upset about having to park at Farrington Field as opposed to inside Trinity Park. Last year, we had problems with faster runners and 25K participants finishing earlier than the 50K entrants and driving through the park and across the course, sometimes right in front of runners who were still running. With twice as many entrants, we made the decision to keep the park completely closed to traffic, except for official race vehicles. We picked Farrington Field because it is big, has ample parking, and its back exit is a 1/4 mile from the main race pavilion--I know because Jballs and I clocked it with his GPS.

Second, a saw one person who was disappointed in the post-race food. We had pasta donated by Pizzeria Uno and bean and cheese burritos donated by Fuzzy's Taco Shop. The bean and cheese burritos went quickly, but the pasta was available until the end. We even donated a few leftover trays to the homeless shelter. Anyway... sorry if you didn't like the selection. It's hard to arrange for food for 400 people to be delivered in the middle of the night. We did our best, and I thought it was pretty good stuff.

Third, and this one really baffles me, at least one runner was upset with the medals. Yeah, that's right. The medals. I have three things to say about this. First, if you're running the race for the medal, you might want to re-evaluate your whole reason for running. Second, I think the main finisher's medal looked pretty cool. I've run lots of marathons/ultras, and I'd say our medal--while not up there with NYC or Marine Corps--is still pretty respectable. Third, our 50K finisher's pin--which you get in addition to a finisher's medal--is damn cool.
In the end, I feel good about El Scorcho Dos. And for those who have never organized a run or volunteered, you should do it. It will give you perspective on races and offer a new found respect for the folks who spend days, nights, weeks, and months tending to all of the little details that you probably never even considered.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

El Scorcho Dos is done and from my perspective as co-race director, it was a resounding success. Still recovering from being up for 30 hours, so a recap may take awhile. In the meantime, here's some links to what other folks had to say about our midnight jaunt. (I'll update this post with other links as I become aware of them. Feel free to e-mail me with blog posts, articles, etc.)

Byron said -- "Nice race. Thank you to the organizers and all the volunteers for all the hard work."

TexMom said -- "I thought the race was very well organized, great New Balance singlet for the race shirt, lots of post race food and plenty of volunteers. . . . Overall it is a great race if you are up for running at that hour."

Eddie said -- "I just wanted to let you know how much fun I had running ES2. This was my first ultra and... I am now officially ”hooked....” Thanks again for the race—it will always be my first and therefore very special."

dblack1801 said -- "Once again, El Scorcho was a blast! . . . I love El Scorcho and will be back next year. 50K????"

KHS said -- "WOW! This race was FUN! I found my heaven! Running at night, with my music playing in my ears. I LOVED IT! I felt amazing. . . . I have to say, if you like being up at night, this is the race for you! Tons of fun. I can't say enough about how great it was. . . . This is only the second year they have done this race, but it was organized nicely. Lots of wonderful volunteers."

Bad Budha -- "[T]here’s just something about running around with a crowd of people in the middle of the night that lends the whole thing a sort of unique party atmosphere. . . . El Scorcho is a lot of fun, and I highly recommend it."

BWG said -- "The event was well-organized and they had a good idea of how to cater to the running crowd."

GeekGirl -- "This was a nice course, surprisingly well attended and volunteered for a race that starts are midnight."

Just12finish -- "El Scorcho is a first class event.... The volunteers, the course, water stops, food, timing, parking, all worked flawlessly literally in the middle of the night. Ryan, dude - I'll be back next year for sure!"

Welsh Runner -- "I have to say that the organization was spot on - everything was running smoothly, which was an amazing achievement since this race is only in its second year, and has grown up really quickly (they sold out with 400 runners this year)."

5ksandcabernets -- "Great finishing medal. Good support. I'm going to run it again next year."

Kevin said -- "Dude, Just wanted to say that that was an awesome race, absolutely awesome."

Abilene Runner -- "Very good race considering the demanding conditions.... Overall this was a fun adventure like none any of us had experienced. I'll keep this on a list of runs to do again. It was well organized."

Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers -- "This was RAW’s second trip to El Scorcho, and once again, both co-race directors Ryan Valdez and Jason Costantino, along with Jim and James Newsom of the Fort Worth Running Company, the flagship sponsor, did an absolute wonderful job organizing this event. Participants definitely got their money’s worth both in terms of fun and running in extreme conditions."

Pat W. commented -- "You guys put on one heck an event. This was my first ultra (with no marathon exp). Your volunteers were AWESOME!! Not once did they stop cheering."

Page said -- "As a spectator cheering on my daughter I can say the weather was great and the music was great and I really like watching my daughter go by every 28minutes or so."

Derek -- "The first thing I have to say, is that was the hardest thing I have ever done."

Running Through Time -- "It's over, what a run.... Overall this is a nice race. It's different with it's midnight start...."

Abilene Online Reporter News -- "Area runners compete in El Scorcho. Abilenians Andy Blessing and John Ring posted Top 10 finishes Sunday in the 50-kilometer race at the El Scorcho Run in Fort Worth."

Fort Worth Star-Telegram -- "In order to get their schedules in sync for the midnight jaunt, runners did everything from weeks of late-night training to sleeping late on the day of the race or just taking an afternoon nap. For others, caffeine was a necessity."

Monday, July 14, 2008

100K on a bike in 3 hours, 45 minutes. Nothing to write home about, but respectable considering that temperatures hit 102, the hottest since 1998.

So here's the thing. I'm more tortoise than hare, and I like endurance events. I'm slow but I can go for a long time.

But there's a problem. It's hot, and I don't want to get up super early to run, and I can't get motivated. As I've said it before, with no races on the horizon, I'm bored. I'll officially start training for Bandera/Rocky after Labor Day, but until then I'm just sort of coasting. Type A? Perhaps. Screw it. I'm pouring myself a big glass of wine.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

El Scorcho is a week and half away. Lots to do. How did the idea of a midnight ultra with friends turn into a 400 runner event?

This weekend, pAppy and I will be riding 100K through Weatherford for the annual Peach Pedal. I rode the Peach Pedal a couple of years ago and enjoyed it, but couldn't fit it into my schedule last year. Perhaps I will enjoy a few peaches at the finish.

And while I am on the topic of cycling, allow me to vent about the inexplicably irate drivers I routinely encounter on the roads.

I realize, oh gas-guzzling SUV motorist, that you're clearly in a hurry and cannot be bothered to yield even a few feet of pavement to those of us grunting out miles under our own power, but is it necessary to (a) honk your horn, (b) holler obscenities, (c) hurl miscellaneous items, and/or (d) swerve your vehicle toward me as if to nudge me out of the way? Suppose, just suppose, that any one of your antics resulted in some sort of accident whereby you injured me in some way. Yes, you would have proved your esplanade dominance, but would it have been worth it?

Monday, July 07, 2008

A few quick notes...

First, Nell and I had a great Sunday. We dropped Z off at my folks' place for an adults-only night. We played 9 holes of golf, then grabbed a nice dinner on the outdoor balcony overlooking the course.

Second, I ran 10 miles yesterday in 90 degree heat, and, surprisingly, it was not as tough as expected.

Third, if you haven't discovered Steep and Cheap, check it out. It is awesome--I got a pair of Montrail Hardrocks (for Bandera) for $38. But be warned, Steep and Cheap addictive.

Have a good week amigos!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Cow Creek was a beat down. The first 50 or so miles were more or less straight into a brutal headwind. It was rough. I never hooked up with a group, so I was forced to fight the wind solo. No drafting. Miserable. At mile 50, I had a choice: I could either (a) go for the century ride and take a turn directly into the headwind or (b) opt for the 75 mile ride and finally enjoy a tailwind. I went with the latter option. And I'm okay with that.

One other notable occurrence. I foolishly left the mile 60 aid station without my water bottles. I discovered my mistake about 5 miles down the road. Oops. Thankfully, I happened upon a little Mexican bakery just off Highway 77, where I was able to purchase a couple bottles of agua.

p.s. I'm bored with my exercise. I want to start training for Bandera and Rocky Raccoon, but both races are too far away (January and February 2009, respectively). So I'm pretty in maintenance mode. I've got a solid marathon base (meaning I can go out and run a marathon pretty much whenever I want), but long, early runs in July and August aren't much fun, especially when there's nothing big on the horizon. Oh well.

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