Monday, December 28, 2009

I may be delusional, but I'm not completely giving up hope for Bandera. I'm untrained and I have a cracked elbow, but I've got two weeks. I think 50 km is possible.

Some might say I have a slightly obsessive personality.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another Broken Elbow Update

UPDATE:  Now the orthopaedist is saying he wants to take more x-rays, and they may actually put me in a cast.  Ugh.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Broken Elbow Update

Good news or bad news first?

The bad news: my left elbow is definitely fractured in the middle of the radial head.

The good news: there's no displacement, no need for surgery, and no need for a cast. 

Unfortunately, short of taking it easy, there's also no real treatment.

So I'll be working the aid stations at Bandera and hoping that everything heals in time for Rocky Raccoon.

Happy Holidays, amigos!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Broken Elbow!

Change of plans.

On Monday, I tripped on an unsecured manhole cover while running with Jballs east of downtown.  After a brief headlong flight, I crashed down and skidded a few times, ripping the skin off both knees, my palms, and my right forearm. 

But the real problem is my left elbow, which absorbed the brunt of the impact.

I'm going back for a second round of x-rays Friday (once the swelling goes down), but all indications point to a break/fracture in the radial head.  Right now, I'm in a hard, form-fitting splint and am becoming friends with hydrocodone.

So... Bandera is out and Rocky Raccoon is a long shot.  Life happens, folks.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Motivation Update

My buddy Joe Judd helped put the last post in perspective in a note he sent me:
I think it's common to have a 'low period' after your first 100. I say, just relax. No running (or less running) for a while can be a good thing. Keeps you injury-free and will make you more psyched to get back into, when the time comes. As for challenge, how about something really challenging, like a mountain 100? Leadville is available to all comers and will certainly require a lot of commitment. BTW, I don't go past 15-20 miles very often. For me, it's more about quality than quantity.
I like that advice, so I think I'll go run just a few miles this afternoon.


wait for it...

I'm strongly considering running the Rocky Raccoon 100 in February--if I can find someone to run with at night, which is the one thing I really did not enjoy about Heartland.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Motivation Issues

Motivation is still an issue.  Since Heartland, I want to run long, but I can't seem to get myself to do it.  I haven't made it more than 14 miles.  Now that I've conquered the 100 mile beast, I don't know what the next challenge is (or if there will even be one).  What now?  The weather has grown colder, too, which doesn't help.  Bandera is a month away, and it is going to kick my ass sideways.  I'm running the 50 km race with T. and S., two trail running virgins, so we should at least keep the pace in check.  I ought to be able to gut it out. My training buddy and El Scorcho co-founder, Jballs, is going for his first 100 km.  The plan is for T., S., and me to finish the 50 km, head back to the motel, get cleaned up, and grab some dinner.  We'll then head back out to the race (probably with a 12 pack of beer) to meet Jballs at various aid stations until he finishes.

Monday, November 30, 2009

"No one can make you feel inferior without your permission."

"Collect experiences, not things."

Monday, November 23, 2009

Rescued by a clandenstine cure from south of the border (thanks for the Mexican drugs, Smoore-boy), I'm feeling much better.  The attack on my immune system lasted several days and sidelined me for half of the prior work week.   I slept for the better part of 72 hours before somewhat normalizing.  After three days of antibiotics and little movement, my physical well-being appears to have returned to base camp.  And just in time for the national observance of The Great Turkey Day and its celebration of fortuity by way of gluttony.

There are so many things in my life that I am thankful for--and take for granted on a regular basis--that to list them all would be an act of futility.

But that doesn't mean I--and, for that matter, all of us fortunate enough to possess the freedom and ability to sit at a computer and peruse random blogs, facebook entries, and not at least try to acknowledge some of the blessings bestowed upon me.

So here are just a few things for which I am thankful.

  • Nell, my wonderful, understanding, supportive, and patient wife.
  • Ezra, my sweet, rambunctious, and always challenging little boy.
  • Donaldo and Ynda, my wonderful parents and their love of Nell and Ezra.
  • Shana, my successful, soon-to-be-married, amazingly and suddenly adult little sister.
  • My friends, those who "get" my ultrarunning and those who don't, but who all support me endlessly.
  • The ability to run.  Pure joy (and, at times, misery).
  • Being able to play music.
  • Having a job that challenges me intellectually.
  • Having a job that allows me the freedom to indulge my other passions.
  • Longhorn sports--particularly football.  Silly, yes, but the burnt orange ballers bring me much joy
I say it often, but only because it is true: Life is good.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm sick.  It sucks.  Took the day off work and have spent it in bed trying to rest but incessently coughing.  Ugh.  I long for this evening's dose of NyQuil.  At least I can get some guaranteed, drug-induced sleep.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's a likely no-go for White Rock, folks.  The run is December 13, as is my the date of my ticket to see the Dallas Cowboys take on the San Diego Chargers at Jerry World. 

I suppose I could make it work.  The marathon starts at 8 a.m., so I would likely be finished around 12:00-12:30 p.m.  Kickoff isn't until 3:15 p.m.  I could make it happen.  And it wouldn't be the first time I've run a marathon and then attended a sporting event

Decisions, decisions.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The funk as settled into my lungs.  I do not recall getting sick as often P.E. (Pre-Ezra).  Over the past two years, two months, and fourteen days, however, I've noticed a somewhat regular frequency of respiratory discomfort.  Our young germ magnet (who has been sleeping MUCH better and later) has apparently and steathily unleashed an assault my immune system that cannot be squelched. 

In other news, if you happen upon ESPN's College Game Day this morning, be on the lookout for me and the Ez-Man.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Monday, November 09, 2009

Injuries and the Ultrarunner

Transient Parasthesia.  Sounds pretty nifty, eh?  Well, apparently that is what I have been suffering from since Heartland.  According the book "Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes" written by John Vonhof:
Transient parasthesia is a temporary nerve-compression that can be caused by a grudual buildup of fluids in your feet during extended on-your-feet activity.  As the feet swell and blood flow decreases, nerves become compressed.  During the compression, the nerves do not receive the oxygen-rich blood they need, resulting in numbness and/or tingling.
The numbness can last anywhere from several weeks to up to a year.  It's been a month since Heartland, and I've still got a little numbness concentrated in both big toes.  Ah, the fun of the ultrarun.
Ezra turned two in late August, and almost overnight our easy-going, happy child turned into an irritable, tantrum-throwing, non-sleeping goblin.  I don't understand it.  The smallest thing--often imperceptible to Nell or me--can send him spiraling into a sea of uncontrollable wailing.  Nothing consoles him.  And he feeds off our frustration.  It is like having a newborn again, only worse because in moments of lucidity, Ezra is a wonderful boy.  Knowing that he doesn't have to "lose it" and that he has the potential for warmth and happiness makes his outbursts--which can last hours on end--all the more difficult to take.

Sorry for the rant.  But it's 4:45 a.m. on Monday morning, and we've been up for awhile with the boy, who is still screaming at the top of his lungs.  Sigh.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

It is amazing how quickly one's strength diminishes after a lay off.

Until last week, it had been nearly 6 weeks since I had significantly lifted weights. 

It wasn't due to lethargy.  My 100 mile quest has been exhaustively and, I'm sure if you ask certain individuals, annoyingly documented.  Perhaps because of my endurance effort, I assumed that I hadn't lost a substantial amount of muscle.

I was wrong.

Back with Dave and The Body Firm team--our new trainer, Heath, might be more of a sadist than Mr. Fannin himself--has been humbling, to say the least.  I find myself struggling to throw up weight that was merely a warm-up two months ago. 

The return to strength training has reminded me that fitness is an ongoing effort and any amount of apathetic complacency breeds weakness, even when necessary for recovery.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I put in just around 9 miles yesterday.  Felt good until the last mile or so, when my left knee started giving me just enough of a warning to cause me to walk it in. 

And now for some pictures from Kansas!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Heartfelt Thanks from the Heartland and Upcoming Runs

Wow.  I am humbled by the comments on my Heartland post.  Thank you all for your kind words and support. 

An interesting question I have received from several different sources recently is, what's next? 

After two weeks of glorious gluttony, I can honestly say I don't know.

I've got Bandera on the schedule again (only the 50km), but not much else.  I'd like to run Waco again and pace the Cowtown 50km.  But really, I don't currently have any pressing need to accomplish anything at the moment.  I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  It is what is.

At least of one thing, I am certain.

Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks are marvelous.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


“On a good day, running 100 miles is f*cking hard. Period. On a bad day, it’s borderline impossible.”
-- Anton Krupicka, two-time winner of the Leadville Trail 100

2009 Heartland 100 Mile Run from Ryan Valdez on Vimeo.

Kansas is not flat.

This fact became abundantly clear five miles into the Heartland 100.

But let’s start at the beginning. No, let’s start before the beginning. Let’s start at 2:45 a.m. on February 8, 2009. That’s about the time I raised the white flag in Huntsville State Park and officially surrendered any chance of finishing the Rocky Raccoon 100 mile endurance trail run. My feet were blistered and bruised; my inner thighs were red and chafed; everything ached. I could barely walk. It was over.

After a few weeks, exhaustion gave way to anger, and anger gave way to imprudence and misguided intrepidity. And that is how I ended up registered for Heartland, a 100 mile race taking place in mid-October in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

I began my Heartland training in earnest just as the mercury began its screaming ascent into triple digits. Friday night lights went out just as the sun went down to allow a few hours of shut eye before the alarm roused me at 3:00 a.m. for the endless hours spent running anywhere and everywhere in west Fort Worth. This was my summer. Every single weekend. Train, train, train. Needless to say, it was not ideal.

As October 10th neared, I checked the Cassoday, Kansas weather forecast with greater frequency and interest. Ten days out, temperatures were hovering in the mid-40s. Five days out, the gurus at were predicting lows in the high 20s. Two days out, freezing drizzle was on the schedule. The day before the run, with rain sloshing through the streets of Fort Worth, I prepared myself for a cold, wet slog through rural Kansas.

My Heartland crew consisted of my friend, Miles, the lone running buddy misguided enough to think that driving around gravel roads at all hours of the day and night would make for fine weekend vacation. Miles’ flight from Houston landed at 7:30 a.m., and by 7:45 a.m., we were cruising north on I-35 in a steady downpour.

The drive to El Dorado (where our hotel was located, about 20 miles southwest of Cassoday) was uneventful but for the lunch stop at Granny Had One, a fantastic find in Guthrie, Oklahoma that won us over immediately with the omnipresent and intoxicatingly wonderful smell of homemade apple pie.

We checked into our hotel around 3:00 p.m. and then made our way to the Cassoday Community Center for packet pickup, pre-race briefing, and dinner.

I knew things were looking up when I was handed race number 69.

After gorging on salad, roast beef, smothered chicken, potatoes, and apple pie (left over from Granny Had One), I had little trouble getting to sleep around 8:30 p.m.

In the morning, my iPhone told me the temperature outside was 29 degrees. Perfect conditions considering my hundred degree training efforts. (Irony intended.) I appropriately lubed up the trouble spots, slathered Hydropel on the feet, and pulled on a pair of shorts, a long sleeve shirt, a short sleeve shirt, a jacket, some Moeben sleeves, a hat, and gloves. I had never worn this much attire to go running. (And by the end of the race, I would have even more on.)
My pre-race breakfast consisted of a bowl of oatmeal, a bagel, and a cinnamon roll. After noshing on the morning refreshments, we de-iced the car windshield and drove the 20 minutes north to Cassoday for the start of the race.

With little fanfare, a volunteer gave us the old “3… 2… 1… GO!” and we were off and running into the pre-dawn darkness.

During that first hour or so, I met up with Thomas, another runner from Texas who, like me, had DNF’d after 70+ miles at Rocky Raccoon earlier in the year. We were both out for redemption.

Over the first five miles, the run was fairly flat, which is what one justifiably expects from Kansas. After a few 90 degree turns, however, we headed into a valley. And then up. And then down. And up. And down. The hills weren’t Bandera-brutal, but they weren’t Rocky Raccoon-relaxed either. Rolling might be an accurate description, but it sounds a bit pedestrian for the toll they would eventually take. They continued incessantly throughout the entire event.

As the morning progressed, the sun winked a few times and even came out briefly, but persistent 20 mile per hour winds from the north kept the warmth away. Cold, gray clouds soon hid the sun from view, leaving, as one participant put it, “a sullen gray sky scowling down on the hills, valleys, cattle and the tall, waving, brown prairie grasses.”

At mile 8.2, I cruised through Battle Creek, the first manned aid station, fairly quickly. My plan was to keep moving as long as possible, minimizing the time spent idling.

As for nutrition, I intended to stay with solid foods as long as possible and to avoid caffeine until nightfall. A few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and a handful of Pringles got me going.

The ups and downs continued past another unmanned aid station until I reached mile 16.8 and the Lapland aid station. Miles was there to meet me, and I needed the motivation. The wind had increased in ferocity and had slowed my pace considerably, even on the flat portions. I couldn’t even think about the 83.2 miles I had left to go.

After chowing down on some snacks, I turned toward the east and headed substantially downhill and briefly under cover of trees for some respite from the relentless wind. Alas, what goes down must go up, and so began yet another series of climbs. At the crest, the course turned north, directly into the icy gusts.

A few miles down the road, I came upon Steve Grady, a fellow Texan who always seems to be running these crazy races with me. Steve was headed back from the 25 mile turnaround on his way to a successful 50 mile finish. We briefly commiserated about the cold before continuing on our respective ways.
At the Teterville aid station, I checked the time. It had taken me about 6 hours to cover the first 25 miles. I had 6.2 miles to go to the next aid station.

Run on a rutty, uneven dirt road dried hard with mud, this 10 km stretch was the toughest on the feet. The route was primarily uphill, and I stopped more than once to tighten my laces as my feet bumped around inside my shoes. I figured bruising and blisters were inevitable.

By the time I reached the Texaco Hill aid station, I had covered 31.2 miles and was starting to feel fatigue settling in. A husband and wife couple was running this aid station nestled off the side of the course. They fed me some potato soup and refilled my pack.

From Texaco Hill to Ridge Line, I traded positions with Long Vu, a 60-year old Vietnamese runner from Oklahoma. Long was running his 4th Heartland, and he gave me some tips about the course and what to expect. The wind grew in intensity as our overall elevation continued its climb to the highest point. We passed several old-school oil rigs still pumping away. The horizon stretched for miles and miles. Endless prairie as far as you could see.

I pulled into the Ridge Line aid station around 3:30 p.m. and immediately and unfairly bitched to Miles about the wind as he patiently filled up my pack with fresh water. Sitting down for a minute, I was offered some “prairie pellets.” I’d never heard of nor tasted “prairie pellets” before. As the first bite made its way past my lips, I knew I had made a new friend. The food of the ultrarunning gods, “prairie pellets” are a multi-bean soup made with little smokie sausages, barbecue sauce, and tomato paste. Tons of carbs, protein, and sodium, “prairie pellets” are DAMN tasty when you need ‘em.

Despite the “prairie pellet” boost, as I left the aid station, I noticed the first serious signs of calorie deficiency, as my hands began to shake uncontrollably due to the cold. I shivered for a good quarter mile or so until my body finally generated enough heat to keep me warm. Over the next 6 miles, I pulled out my iPod for some much needed motivation.

Nearing the Matfield Green aid station, I passed a few small, secluded homes. As one of the residents was unloading his pick-up truck, I asked him how much he would charge for a room for the night. “Trust me, you don’t want to stay out here!” He replied. I’m not sure what he meant by that.

Eventually, I crossed I-35 and arrived at Matfield Green, where Miles met me with a Coca-Cola and a 6-inch Subway sandwich, my first substantial calories of the day. I was at mile 42.5. I had 7.5 miles to go until mile 50 and the turnaround. It was somewhere around 5:30 p.m.

I grabbed my loaner satellite radio and pulled on a pair of old school sweat pants. Miles and I then walked out of the aid station. He stayed with me for a half mile or so as we made our way back across I-35 and onto the trail. I was shivering and not motivated to run, but Miles gave me just right amount of encouragement and attitude. As he turned back toward Matfield Green, I had started a slow jog.

My mood improved dramatically once I left the highway and was back in the prairie. As I climbed to the highest point on the course, I saw several runners headed back. I came across Thomas around an unmanned aid station near some utility towers. “Just two and half miles,” he told me. “Once you hit the turnaround, you’ll feel better. I was feeling pretty low until then.”

I flipped on my satellite radio, tuned in the Texas-Colorado game and zoned out.

At Lone Tree, I had made it 50 miles. It was around 7:15 p.m. I ate a hamburger, refilled my pack, and got moving.

The Texas game kept my mind occupied as the sun completely disappeared. The cloud cover kept the moon and stars away, and soon my world shrunk to the small tunnel of my headlamp. If I flicked the light off, I was enveloped in suffocating darkness.

And then the wheels started to come off.

Around mile 52.5, my left knee started to ache. A little at first, but with rapidly growing intensity. I walked. A lot. Even the downhill portions. Swinging my leg forward hurt. The inside of my knee was tender to the touch.

This was not good.

I made it back to Matfield Green still hurting, but not in horrendous pain. I told Miles I would see how it went.

The 6 miles from Matfield Green to back to Ridge Line were rough. By the time I death-marched my way to the next aid station, I was hurting. Miles saw it on my face. As I made my way inside the aid station tent, I knew there was a good chance I wouldn’t be emerging to run anymore.

I sat down and ate two cups full of “prairie pellets” and solicited opinions for the volunteers on what to do. I was leaning towards quitting. It was in the 20s outside, I was calorie-deficient, my left knee was shot, and I knew that if I did leave, I would have to make it a 8.2 miles before I would have another opportunity to bail. That’s a long way in the cold, dark night by yourself. At my pace, it would probably take me at least two hours to get there.

I stayed inside the warmth of the aid station tent for about 15 minutes thinking about what I should do. Finally, I slammed two Advil and a Coca-Cola and headed into the night. Miles walked with me until I stopped shivering, then he headed back to pick up the car. I shuffled as best I could and walked when the pain got too intense.

Up until this point, my fatigue was limited solely to my physical ailments. But somewhere along the way from Ridge Line to Texaco Hill, things started to get weird. I was completely alone, in pain, and exhausted. My headlamp started to play tricks on my brain, making the terrain illuminated by the halo of light appear to pulsate back and forth. Vertigo-like symptoms started to surface. I pulled out a flashlight to help ease the nauseating light-show.

In spite of the dizzying optical illusions, I somehow bumbled my way into Texaco Hill and managed to scarf down two cups of potato soup and some more Coke. I tried not to stay too long. The aid station volunteers told me that I had a mile and half or so until a sharp right turn would take me on the long downhill over the nasty, rutty road. I thanked them and reluctantly trudged off into the night.

About ten minutes into this stretch, I thought I saw another runner’s light behind me. I started calling out, only to eventually realize the light was coming from the Texaco Hill aid station a mile back.

To keep the heebie-jeebies away, I cranked up the tunes on the iPod for the next 6 miles or so.

As I made a left turn at the bottom of the downhill, I could see a single light in front of me. I thought it might be Miles walking backwards to meet me. It wasn’t. Instead, a mile or so up the road, I came upon the Teterville aid station. The single light was a lantern hung outside the aid station tent.

I had caught up with three runners, and we were all in various states of disarray as we huddled together in the tent. I had covered 75 miles, and my stomach was done with solid food. Miles fished me out two Boosts from my drop bag. I chugged one immediately and stashed the other one in my pack. Miles told me I was “tough as nails.” I felt like I was falling apart exponentially with each step.

The 8.2 miles from Teterville to Lapland were the toughest mentally. On several occasions, I thought I had missed a turn and was convinced that I was lost in the middle of nowhere with no way to contact anyone. I got pretty freaked out. Eventually, a glow stick would signal that I was still on the right path.

I also started seeing things that weren’t there. Rocks that looked like giant insects or strange, Tim Burton-esque sculptures. I took my wool cap off to try to shock some sense into my addled brain.

I turned right and started the long descent under the trees and then back up to the Lapland aid station. As I neared the tent, a volunteer and Miles both walked out to meet me.

“Are you from Kansas?” I asked the volunteer.

“Yes,” she replied.

“Okay, don’t take this the wrong way, but f*ck the Flint Hills,” I muttered, only half-jokingly.

At Lapland, I had about 17 miles to go to finish. It was nearing 6 a.m., and I had been on the move for 24 hours straight.

I chugged a Boost, grabbed another one for the road, and told Miles I would see him at the finish line somewhere between four and six hours later.

The sun slowly broke the horizon over the next hour and half, and its presence was a welcome sight. I was happy to turn off the headlamp and the flashlight and not have to wonder what was ahead of me. Now I could see it. Endless rolling hills.

I passed a handful of runners over the next hour as I neared the Battle Creek aid station. Most looked pretty rough, and it was hard to say whether or not they would make it under the cutoff.

When I finally arrived at Battle Creek, I asked a volunteer how strictly the 30-hour time limit was enforced.

“Very strictly,” she said. “But you’ve got plenty of time.”

Easy for you to say, I thought.

I slammed more Boost, more Advil, and more Coca-Cola and then made the slow trek out of the valley and back toward Cassoday. Once I got back on level ground, I figured things would get easier.

They didn’t.

Cassoday has a lone, cigarette-like tower in the center of town that marks the finish line. Because Cassoday is flat, you can see the tower for miles. And it never seems to get any closer.

The last 4.8 miles seemed to go on forever. I wanted to be done. My knee was throbbing, my eyes were dry and bloodshot, and my energy level was non-existent. Walking was taking too long, so I started doing a weird, side-to-side hopping thing every hundred yards or so. I used the telephone poles by the road as my guide. I would alternate hopping and walking every time I passed one. While it might not have gotten me there any faster, it at least broke up some of the monotony and provided the illusion of greater speed.
Finally, I turned down the last stretch—a quarter mile straightaway to the finish line. There weren’t many folks out there, but those in attendance clapped and cheered. I tried to run—or at least look like I was running—and limped my way across the short, white chalk line painted on the side of the road as a few cars whizzed by.  It had taken me 28 hours, 53 minutes, and 31 seconds to cover 100 miles on foot.

I thanked Miles and the volunteers, and then proceeded to drag myself directly into the car where we turned the heat on immediately.

And then things got worse. (That’s not where you thought this was going, was it?)

I don’t know exactly why, but I got dizzy and started seeing spots. I was nauseous, yet didn’t want anything to eat. On the drive home, I dry heaved a few times.

Back at the hotel, I tried to get out of the car and quickly realized that my left knee was stuck—it would neither bend nor straighten. Any attempt to do either sent pain shooting through my body. I felt like (1) someone had taken a baseball bat to my lower body, and (2) I was suffering from a nasty bout of the flu.

Miles more or less carried me into our hotel room, where I collapsed on the floor, still in my running gear. I stayed there for about an hour and half. Over that period of time, I talked with Nell, my friends, and my folks. I ate a Whopper Jr. and drank two root beers. Eventually, I was able to sit up with getting dizzy. I took a shower, changed, and crawled into bed. We ordered pizza and turned on the Cowboys’ game. I ate four slices and passed out for about 3 hours, waking up only to eat again and reapply ice to me knee.

The next morning, I was stiff but mobile. My left knee was the size of a grapefruit, and my toes intermittently became tingly and numb, but at least I could hobble. I continued to ice my knee for the next several days, and slowly the swelling subsided. It’s now more than week later, and I’m pretty much recovered. I even made it to the gym to ride a stationary bike for 30 minutes.

Looking back, I am convinced that Anton Krupricka had it right.  Running 100 miles if f*cking hard.  I am still somewhat shocked that I made it. There was no runner’s high, no sense of euphoria during or after the run. It was hard. Plain and simple. In the end, I’m grateful for the experience, but I’m not sure if I ever want to go through it again.

Thanks go out to my supportive wife and child for allowing me to spend the past year running virtually non-stop.

To Miles for staying out there with me all day and night.

To Dave Fannin at The Body Firm for the invaluable cross-training and the words of encouragement.

To Jason Costantino and Michael Appleman for joining me on those 4 a.m. training runs.

To all the volunteers at the Heartland 100 for keeping me well-fed and moving along.

And to everyone else, family and friends, who supported me during my quest.

Vaya con Dios, amigos.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sincere Thanks

In March 2007, I ran my first ultramarathon in Waco, Texas.  The Waco 5-0 (now called the Toughest N' Texas) was a small trail run in Cameron Park consisting of three 10 mile loops.  Early in the run, I hooked up with a runner from Houston appropriately named Miles.  We stayed together for most of the first loop. 

During that time, Miles encouraged me to run Bandera.  So ten months later, I headed deep into the hill country, where I completed a tough 50 km trail run.  And Miles was there.  We talked about Rocky Raccoon, and in February 2008, I toed the line and finished Rocky's 50 mile event.  And Miles was there, running the 100 mile event and coming home with a belt buckle. 

The next year, I did the Waco 5-0 again, and again, I found myself running with Miles.  We talked about his 100 mile race, and I told him I was thinking about trying for 100 miles at Rocky Raccoon in 2009.  To prepare, I signed up for a series of races during the winter of 2008 and early 2009--the Ultracentric, Sunmart, and Bandera. 

At Sunmart, Miles and I found ourselves running a couple laps together during the 50 mile race. 

The next month, we hooked up for the last 10 miles or so of Bandera and death-marched our way to the finish line. 

At Rocky Raccoon, we shared a pre-race dinner and discussed our plans for finishing the next day's 100 mile run.  Unfortunately, we both fell short. 

When I signed up for the Heartland 100, it was no surprise that Miles enthusiastically agreed to pace me over the final 40 miles.  We traded e-mails and plans throughout the summer.  Miles even made it up to Fort Worth to run El Scorcho Tres.  After that midnight run in July, Miles prepared himself for the Where's Waldo 100K run in Oregon.  Leg issues caused him to drop around mile 44.  And the leg issues lingered, affecting his ability to pace me at Heartland. 

So we adjusted the plan.  Miles moved from pacer to crew.  And he was out there the whole time that I was, meeting me at aid stations, filling my pack with water, encouraging me to keep moving.  He slept in the car, drove across the prairie, and did everything in his power to ensure a successful finish.  And we finished.  I could not have done it without him. 

It's amazing how we've bonded over the past two years almost exclusively on our enjoyment of the misery and the ecstasy that comes from running ridiculously excessive distances.  The people you meet on the trail can become some of your best friends, even if your shared experiences are limited to the despair and the delight of ultramarathoning.

Thank you, Miles.

p.s. Heartland race report coming eventually, amigos....

Sunday, October 11, 2009

2009 Heartland 100 Results

100 miles: 28 hrs, 53 mins.

61 runners started the 100 mile run. 41 finished.

Details to come.

Friday, October 09, 2009

"Partly cloudy with a high of 44 and a low of 29. 30% chance of showers in the afternoon. 15 to 25 mph winds. Cold." -- the weekend weather report for Cassoday, Kansas. (sigh)

Monday, October 05, 2009

It's not always all about running. With less than five days until Kansas, maybe it's time for some marginally tantalizing tidbits that don't necessarily involve the perplexingly prolonged pounding of pavement.*
  • Ezra James is making the rapid transition from toddler to little boy. 

  • Nell has decided to run the Austin Marathon on Valentine's Day.  She ran her first marathon in Washington, D.C. two months before becoming pregnant with Ezra.  That doesn't mean anything, does it?**

  • Oklahoma State beat Georgia, then lost to Houston.  Houston beat Texas Tech, then lost to UTEP, who lost to Texas.  USC beat Ohio State, then lost to Washington.  OU's 2 losses this year are both by only 1 point.  BYU, who along with Miami beat OU, lost to Florida State, who lost to Boston College and Miami.  I could go on.  The point is, college football is crazy this year, the rankings are ridiculous, and a playoff needs to happen.  In the meantime, however, I cling to the Longhorns' #2 ranking.  Alabama and LSU better not jump us.

  • I've got Roy Williams and Jason Witten on my fantasy football team.  It'd be nice if Romo would throw a pass to either of them.

  • I enjoy an occasional rainy day, but every day is a bit excessive for North Texas.

  • Why is there a Ronald Reagan Freeway in Arlington, Texas?

  • A recurring pet peeve involves the incorrect use of the word, "literally."  For example: "It was so hot, I was literally burning up."  No, you weren't, jackass.

  • I'm not a grammar snob.  I just want us all to learn to read and write real good.
  • UPDATE: I feel compelled to point out that I was well aware of the glaring gramatical error in the preceding sentence.  I was literally shocked when my attempt at humor was lost on some readers.

* I do, however, enjoy a hearty use of alliteration.
** No, it doesn't.  And don't get any ideas.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Heartland Anticipation

One week from today, I will be northbound on I-35 headed to the Heartland.

As the date rapidly approaches, doubt has crept into my mind. Am I ready to run 100 miles? Am I overtrained? Am I undertrained?

I suppose I will find out in 8 days.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Last Thursday, I arrived at my office to discover a notice for a hearing scheduled to take place the following morning in Lubbock, Texas. A few hours later, I was flying to Red Raider territory.

The hearing went well and finished with about two hours to spare. So I decided to explore the land of Leach on foot. And I confirmed what I had always known.

Lubbock. Is. Flat.

The next day, I hopped on another plane to San Diego for Rolo's wedding. Shaking off a hangover, I hit the beach for a run the day after the ceremony. And on that run I also confirmed something I had always known.

Southern California. Is. Beautiful.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Random midweek reflections...
  • I'm sick of training. Remind me to never schedule a 100 mile race in the fall. Long runs + Texas heat = too many obscenely early mornings. Unless you're a morning news anchor, there is no justifiable reason for waking up before 3 a.m.
  • Partisan politics are approaching ludicrous speed. Like him or not, when the President of United States of America chooses to address the nation's school children about the importance of education, parents should let their kids watch. Are you really worried that a twenty minute speech will detrimentally affect your child's (political) development? Maybe we should keep all political talk away from our kids (or at least political talk authored ]by members of a political party with which we don't agree). Yeah. That's it. That's the ticket. That's the way to raise independent thinkers.
  • Sooner Nation continues to blame the loss of Heisman QB Sam Bradford for BYU's upset of the previously-ranked #3 team in the country. Um, yeah, but what about the Cougars' 9 minute, 78 yard touchdown drive in the 4th quarter?
  • Speaking of football, Fantasy Football (which is vastly superior to the plain old NFL) starts this week. I've got a few stars and several question marks in my lineup.
  • I am jealous of Ezra's mid-day nap.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Slept in this morning. Didn't get out of bed until 4:10 a.m. That's about an hour later than most Saturdays in recent memory. Thank you, cold front. You have provided a nice repreive from the sweltering sizzle that is the Texas summer. Alas, this is my last long* run for awhile. After today's running tour of Fort Worth, I'll be tapering until Heartland.** Yip. Dip. Doo.

* Long is a relative term. I'll still be doing 10-15 mile runs on Saturdays, but nothing near that 26-32 miles I've been logging as of late.

** Have I mentioned Heartland? It's this 100-mile run in Kansas in October that has (nearly) been the singular focus of this blog for the past several months.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

The last long run lurks around the corner. Saturday morning. 32 miles. Ah, the places we'll go!

Also looming is the Longhorn season opener against Louisiana-Monroe. Yes, Texas is a 41 point favorite. Yes, the OSU-Georgia, the BYU-OU, and the Alabama-Virginia Tech games will all be more exciting. Yes, I will have to spend $30 to watch the Horns crush a non-conference cupcake. But, HELL YES, I will be watching the game Saturday night decked out in my burnt orange.

Monday, August 31, 2009

I came across an open letter to Dean Karnazes that encourages the "Ultramarathon Man" to take a break from running. Far from the usual Dean-bashing that takes place in the darker corners of the internet, Byron, the author of the letter, appears to possess sincere respect for Dean. He lauds Dean's past competitive achievements, but cites Karnazes' three most recent races (two of which resulted in DNFs) as evidence of Dean's "problem"--racing too much. Byron concludes his letter with this passage:

No one will think less of you if you decide to bag your next however many races. Seriously, you've established your running credentials and they stand for themselves. If anything, continuing to race in the face of your current adversity could be a detriment to your reputation as a runner. You were a big man to drop when you needed to at Western States and even bigger man when you let Helen Cospolich tow you at TransRockies. Be an even bigger man and say enough is enough... for now. People will respect you for your discretion.

Anyway, I sincerely hope you seriously consider taking some time off from racing and maybe even some time entirely off from running. I'd love to see you roaring down some single track more like your former self come next spring.
Dean's not the only one going through a rough patch. Mark, the seemingly unstoppable Welshman, is also dealing with a running funk.

I don't know that I've ever been guilty of overtraining, but definitely over-racing. I think "The Quad" exemplifies that. 4 ultramarathons in less than 4 months was too much. By the time Rocky Raccoon rolled around, I was burnt out.

So this time, I've gone the other way. Minimal training. Long runs, yes. But that's it. No pushing it if it doesn't feel right. I guess I'll have to wait 6 weeks to see if it works.

Heartland Meditation and Focus

"The Edge.... There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others--the living--are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later."

- Hunter S. Thompson

An apt quote for ultrarunning in light of Erik Skaggs' acute kidney failure following his record-setting victory at the Where's Waldo 100 km.

As I venture inside 6 weeks of Heartland, I'm entering the monastic phase of training. Although my (relatively) long weekend runs are coming to an end, the final preparation is just beginning. With the race looming closer on the horizon, I'll be eating healthier, drinking more water, getting more sleep. The goal is to drop about 5 pounds of useless body fat over the next month and half, arriving in Kansas lean and ready to run.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It’s not that Americans can’t win. It’s just sometimes we get obsessed with time. You can’t win a race like that.
Kara Goucher

(Thanks to Ed a.k.a. Bad Buddha for the quote and link to this article)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tales of the Heartland

Heartland is less than seven weeks away. And it is definitely on my mind these days.
There are several ways not to walk in the prairie, and one of them is with your eye on a far goal, because then you begin to believe you're not closing the distance any more than you would with a mirage. My woodland sense of scale and time didn't fit this country, and I started wondering whether I could reach the summit before dark. On the prairie, distance and the miles of air turn movement to stasis and openness to a wall, a thing as difficult to penetrate as dense forest. I was hiking in a chamber of absences where the near was the same as the far, and it seemed every time I raised a step the earth rotated under me so that my foot feel just where it had lifted from. Limits and markers make travel possible for people: circumscribe our lines of sight and we can really get somewhere. Before me lay the Kansas of popular conception from Coronado on--that place you have to get through, that purgatory of mileage.
Hiking in the woods allows a traveler to imagine comforting enclosures, one leading to the next, and the walker can possess those little encompassed spaces, but the prairie and plains permit no such possession. Whatever else prairie is -- grass, sky, wind -- it is most of all a paradigm of infinity, a clearing full of many things except boundaries, and its power comes from its apparent limitlessness; there is no such thing as a small prairie any more than there is a little ocean, and the consequence of both is the challenge: try to take yourself seriously our here, you bipedal plodder, you complacent cartoon.
-- William Least Heart-Moon, PrairyErth (a deep map)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A few aimless observations just before I attempt to force myself into peaceful slumber at 8:15 p.m. (Long run starts early tomorrow.)

Inglorious Basterds was vicious, violent, and diabolically delightful, and Tarrantino's best film ever. Yes, better than that other one.

Dan Jenkins may be the funniest writer alive today.

A person can eat pizza at a different, locally-owned restaurant in Fort Worth at least 6 days a week and each time feel like they are enjoying a distinctly original meal.

Spending 4 hours with a well-rested and rambunctious 2-year old boy is more exhausting than running a 4 hour marathon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Body Firm wants to Destroy Me

This morning's workout was capped off with a set I have informally dubbed the "8-Minute A**hole."

15 squats
10 push-ups
5 pull-ups

Do as many rounds as possible in 8 minutes.

Now, now, I know what all those Crossfit cultists are yammering. "Hey, that's a Crossfit workout cut short. We do that same thing for 20 minutes," says the lean, excessively-chiseled athlete in the sleeveless WOD t-shirt.

Yes, yes, of this I am aware.

But, in my defense (and I realize that I am likely making a defenseless argument, at least in the eyes--and heart--of the forged elite fitness fiend), the "8-Minute A**hole" did come at the end of 30 minutes of rather incessant exercise.

Free El Scorch Publicity

Everybody loves promoting El Scorcho:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Work has been brutally invigorating the past 10 days. Temporary restraining orders, emergency hearings, injunctions... the hours have been longer than usual, but peppered with numerous Court appearances, arguments, and examinations.

On the running front, I plan to hit southwest Fort Worth for 26-30 miles early Saturday morning. I expect Jballs will make an appearance during the trek.

But can I really call such a paltry distance a trek?

Afterall, Miles is hammering out 100km in Oregon this weekend, while John "F'ing Grilled Cheese" Sharp is doing his fifth (!) 100 mile race of the year--and up in oxygen-deprived Leadville.

You see, friends? I'm not nearly as obsessive about this endurance running as some folks.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Body Firm Encourages Intensity

Dave decided to encourage Toben and me by posting a picture of us working out on his blog.

The picture is below, but first a bit of an explanation.

This picture was taken toward the end of our workout, after we had already spent a half hour trashing our bodies with high-intensity, zero-rest weight/cardio punishment.

To cap off the torture session, Dave rewarded us with Tabata Thrusters.

What are Tabata Thrusters?

I had the same question.

From what I gathered from the Internet (which we all know is an infallible source of accurate information), Tabata is the name of a Japanese researcher who discovered an interesting way to increase both anaerobic and aerobic pathways at the same time.

Here is how it works. Take one exercise and perform it in the following manner:

1) For twenty seconds, do as many repetitions as possible.
2) Rest for ten seconds.
3) Repeat seven more times.

That's it, and you're done in four minutes.

Oh, and that thing you're trying to brush off your face? That would be the floor.

One site sums it up like this: "The Tabata training method is so simple, yet so incredibly difficult, that athletes tend to try it once, acknowledge its greatness, and then vow to never speak its name again."

Tabata Thrusters are incredible amounts of fun.* Take two dumbbells and hold them at shoulder height. Squat down--all the way down, we're talking a DEEP squat--while keeping the dumbbells on your shoulders. As you rise up, press the dumbbells to the overhead lockout position. Repeat. Again. And again. And again.

It helps to have someone record the reps of each set for you because, well, you won't remember after you pass out.

ANYWAY... this is Toben and me somewhere in the middle of our 4-minute Tabata Thruster routine, which, I believe I pointed out earlier, took place at the conclusion of our workout.

* i.e., utter agony.

Although not a member of the cult, I do lurk about several CrossFit blogs and sites. Here is a particularly enjoyable quote I recently came across:

[Y]ou agree to give 100% of what you have. There are no excuses or second chances. Everyday, every moment is an opportunity to excel, to be more, to acheive your best. Do not squanders you time by going through the motions. Train hard and get results. At the end of the day, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you gave your all. If you don't have that level of committment, don't waster your time or ours.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Las Vegas is definitely not my scene. It reminded me of Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras without any of the culture. Drunken zombies mindlessly burning brain cells and C-notes. (And yes, that is a description of me and the bachelor-partying crew in town for Willis D.'s pre-marital romp.)

It is good to be home.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Anybody want to join Jballs and me for a marathon before work tomorrow morning?

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Some random things I encountered on my 30 mile, 4 a.m. run.

1 crazy, drunk guy running toward me and yelling, "they're trying to kill me!"

3 police officers who pulled up shortly thereafter and who I informed of the whereabouts of the crazy, drunk guy.

4 skunks in strike position.

1 torrential downpour.

1 random act of kindness.

It was an interesting morning.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Saturday's training run leaves the TCU area at 4 a.m. Who's with me?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Training for Heartland

The reality of Heartland is sinking in. I've got 10 weekends until the run. That's two and a half months before I attempt (again) to run 100 miles. I have a lot of preparation to do. Here is the schedule leading up to the Kansas run:

Saturday, August 1
30 miles

Sunday, August 2
10 miles

Thursday, August 6
26 miles

Friday, August 7
10 miles

Saturday, August 15
28 miles

Sunday, August 16
10 miles

Saturday, August 22
30 miles

Sunday, August 23
10 miles

Saturday, August 29
32 miles

Sunday, August 30
10 milesSaturday, September 5
34 miles

Sunday, September 6
10 miles

Friday, September 11
26 miles

Saturday, September 19
20 miles

Sunday, September 20
10 miles

Saturday, September 26
14 miles

Sunday, September 27
6 miles

Saturday, October 3
8 miles

Sunday, October 4
4 miles

Saturday, October 10
100 miles - HEARTLAND

Friday, July 24, 2009

The weather gods hate me.

All week, it has been (relatively) cool. Temperatures have stayed (mostly) below 90 degrees. We've had several gentle rain showers. It has been grand.

Of course, I did not have a 30 mile run planned during the week. Instead, my 5 hour trek around Fort Worth takes place tomorrow. And, naturally, the predicted forecast has the mercury soaring into triple digits.

Why have I offended thee?
"What is a two-way petting zoo?"

"You pet the animals, they pet you back."


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Getting Ready for El Scorcho Tres

Just five hours until the start of El Scorcho Tres. It's hard to believe how big our midnight 50km has become. This year, we have more than 500 registered entrants ready to run from 12:01 a.m. until 7 a.m. It's a lot of work putting on this race, and Jim, James, Jason, and I put in the hours (and then some) to make it happen. Good luck to all the runners! And if you find yourself with some time to kill in the wee hours of the morning, swing by Trinity Park and join the party.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Good luck to John (and everyone else) running the Hardrock Hundred this weekend. You guys are impressive. I will do a paltry 22 mile run tomorrow in your honor, and I will try to keep my bitching about the heat to a minimum in light of the distance, altitude, and terrain you will be traversing this weekend.

For those of you who aren't aware (and I certainly was not until recently), Hardrock is a 100 mile run with 33,000 feet of climb, mostly at 10,000 to 13,000 feet elevation. The highest point is 14,048 feet. Holy crapola.

Here are some pics I found on the web. These are actual shots of folks running Hardrock. Let me say it again: HOLY CRAPOLA.

Vaya con Dios, amigos.

Friday, July 03, 2009

It's 3:16 am.

I suppose it's time to go for a 26.2 mile run.

I should seek mental help.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Anybody want to join Jballs, Taffy, and me for an unofficial marathon Friday morning beginning at 4:00 am?

Monday, June 29, 2009

2009 Cow Creek Country Classic Ride

(or How I Discovered What Dehydration
and Debilitating Cramps Feel Like)

Let me start with a few observations about myself.

First, I am not a cyclist. I ride my bike a few times a year, mostly 100km or century rides. But I don’t train. That is not an exaggeration. When it comes to cycling: I. Do. Not. Train.

Second, I am out of shape. Since ultramarathon season ended a few months ago, I’ve run here and there and lifted, but I am nowhere near as fit as I was back in February. My conditioning has me, to quote Paul Simon, “soft in the middle now.”

Third, I have an inflated self-image when it comes to my endurance abilities. I tend to overestimate my capacity to cover long distances in less than desirable conditions.

Now, keeping all three observations in my mind, choosing to participate in a 100 mile bike ride in June in North Texas during a red ozone alert and 100+ degree heat might—just might—NOT have been the best decision.

I met up with pAppy and The Flying Pumpkin at the Waxahachie Ninth Grade Academy about 15 minutes before the start of the ride. TFP has been hammering it pretty steadily for awhile, and his cycling endurance these days is impressive. The two of us were set for the 100; pAppy was going for 36 miles. (yawn)

10 miles into the ride, TFP had already zoomed ahead. I resigned myself to hanging back, taking it easy. After 20 miles, I was averaging around 15 mph, including rest stops. It was hot, but I was sucking down water and Gatorade. Two bottles and 1.5 liter Nathan pack were there to ensure that I didn’t run out of water.

At mile 40, we veered southwest. The temperatures were beginning to soar. Fatigue was setting in. After mile 50, I convinced TFP to knock down the 100 to a 75 mile attempt. No complaints.

At the mile 62 rest stop, TFP motored past me. I took some extra time and decided I needed a few more calories. “We got hotdogs! Anybody want a hotdog?” Well, sure, I thought, why not a hotdog? Sounds good.

This was not a wise decision.

Five miles later, I found myself on the side of Highway 77, retching away. The hotdog and all other contents of my stomach soon splattered on the asphalt shoulder as 18 wheelers whizzed by. I was nauseous, dehydrated, and just all around ugh. I tried to ride, but my legs teetered on the edge of complete cramping.
So I walked.
And walked.
After about ten minutes, I tried to ride again. It was slow, but I was moving. I took a swig of Gatorade only to spit it immediately up. Not good. 14 miles to go, and I couldn’t keep fluids down.
Let me emphasize: NOT. GOOD.

Somehow, I made it back to the start/finish. I was a bit woozy. I took a quick shower, forced myself to chug a bottle of water, and got back in the car for the 45 minute drive to Fort Worth. Famished (remember, I'd thrown up everything in my stomach and then some), I made my way to Chic-fil-a to pick up some chicken nuggets.
Anybody want to take a guess about what happened a few minutes later?
Here’s a hint—bleh, bleh, bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh! Oh yes, my friends. I had to pull over on the side of Highway 287 to yet again hurl.

All puked out and exhausted, I finally got to the house, where I collapsed on the couch. Thank goodness I’m home and it’s done, right?

For some reason, my right inner thigh decided to spasm and lock up on me. Pain. Pain. Pain. After I massaged it out, I drank 60 or so ounces of Nuun and another 60 or so ounces of water. Sometime around 5 p.m., my body eventually normalized.

So… uh… all in all, it kinda sucked.

But no worries, amigos. I still made it up for a 5 mile run with Ezra the next morning. I.I.T.S.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Oh, yeah. And we are under a Red Ozone Alert.

What's a Red Ozone Alert? So glad you asked:
An OZONE ALERT will be declared when the ozone forecast is code red, indicating
that prolonged outdoor exertion is unhealthy for everyone.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Tomorrow's forecast:

Sunny. Highs around 103.

Why wouldn't you want to go for a 100 mile bike ride?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On Miles' recommendation, I picked up "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen."

The author, Christopher McDougall, is a former war correspondent for the Associated Press, and he tells one heck of a story. This is the first "running" book that I'm fairly certain non-runners will enjoy. McDougall is a great storyteller who writes with a sharp wit and wild exuberance.

Here's a summary:

Isolated by the most savage terrain in North America, the reclusive Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s deadly Copper Canyons are custodians of a lost art. For centuries they have practiced techniques that allow them to run hundreds of miles without rest and chase down anything from a deer to an Olympic marathoner while enjoying every mile of it. Their superhuman talent is matchedby uncanny health and serenity, leaving the Tarahumara immune to the diseases and strife that plague modern existence. With the help of Caballo Blanco, a mysterious loner who lives among the tribe, the author was able not only to uncover the secrets of the Tarahumara but also to find his own inner ultra-athlete, as he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a fifty-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of Americans, including a star ultramarathoner, a beautiful young surfer, and a barefoot wonder.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Training was going well. I did a nice 20 mile run last Saturday morning with pAppy and Jballs. We met on the Trinity Trails just below Hoffbrau Steaks at 5:30 a.m. The heat was a killer, and the pace was pretty slow, but we gutted it out. I finished around 8:45 a.m., completely soaked. Note to self: apply more Sport Shield and/or Body Glide.

After the run and the shower and the big breakfast/lunch (brunch?), I was walking down the stairs while holding Ezra, and I misjudged the last step, tripped, and fell. I clutched Ezra tightly so he did not hit the ground, but in doing so completely sacrificed my right knee, as it took the brunt of my weight along with Ezra's additional 30 pounds. The knee has been a bit achy ever since.

Not to be deterred, I'm going for 18 this Saturday. Come big or go home.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Buying a house, selling a house, moving out of a house, moving into a house. House, house, house. Like sand through the hour glass, these are the days of my life.

The final move is imminent, and I am ready. Hopefully, our Bunting home will sell soon, as the thought of carrying two mortgages still sends a mild wave of naseau over me. We've had several looks, but no bites. Yet. I believe. I believe. I believe.

While I powered through back-to-back long runs two weeks ago, I haven't managed to log anything over 6 miles lately. Last weekend, Rachelle T., a law school friend, came to visit, which slightly skewed my workouts. And by "slightly skewed" I mean "completely obliterated." It started Friday evening with a light meal at El Rancho Grande. And by "light meal" I mean "very heavy." Saturday included breakfast burritos from Day Break Cafe, leftover Mexican for lunch, and burgers for dinner. Sunday treated us to breakfast tacos, sandwiches, multiple beers at The Colonial, a nice Italian dinner at Taverna, and dessert tacos from Reata.

I worked out this week--lifting, running, spinning. We're trying not to buy too many groceries because we don't want to move them. This sounds good in theory. In reality, it results in lots of take out and my continued practice of eating like my ship is going down. Alas.

And now it's Friday evening, and Nell and I are headed to Beastro at the Fort Worth Zoo. (Ezra is with Nana and Pop.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Still running, less blogging. Trying officially started a few weeks ago for Heartland. As the Texas heat rises to its sweltering peak, so too will I reach my highest mileage mark with back-to-back long runs in late August. And recall, amigos, this is what I do for fun.

The house has been on the market about a week now, and we've had a few showings, but not the onslaught of home buyers we had hoped for. Ah well. Not too worried. It's an awesome house in a great area. It'll sell in due time.

Hmmm... oh, yeah... and the big news --

Aunt Poolie (my sister) and Randall (her boyfriend) got engaged last week!!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Our house is on the market and priced to move. If anyone out there is interested or knows someone who is interested in moving to West Fort Worth, send them our way. The webpage for the listing is here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Shiner G.A.S.P. Photos

Here are some pics of Chris, Adam, John, and me after last weekend's Austin to Shiner bike ride (and apparently after several Shiners, as well)...

Friday, May 08, 2009

When Nell and I bought our house six years ago, I thought we would be here forever. We love where we live. 5 minutes from downtown, 5 minutes from the zoo, 5 minutes from TCU, 5 minutes from the Trinity Trails, 5 minutes from... well, just about everything in west Fort Worth. Our neighbors our awesome, our street is quiet, and our house rocks. Nonetheless, we're not sure if and when other kiddos may be on the way (nothing in the works as of right now), but the option is out there and not completely out of bounds. So extra bedrooms and a bit more breathing room were being considered. We even looked at adding a second story. And then this came along...A few blocks from TCU and around the corner from several locally-owned businesses, including a cafe/coffee shop and wine cellar. We're under contract and close in three weeks. Our current home officially goes on the market Monday. Welcome to the wild life, friends.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I'm probably not being the greatest parent in the world right now. As I type this, Ezra's angry wail has subsided to a desperate moan as he remains in bed until 6:30 am. Every now and then, my heart aches a little as he cries out for "Ga-ga," his sad call for me.

But at some point, we had to put an end to his increasingly earlier risings.

In the past, I would grab a pillow and a blanket and lay down on the floor of his room, which would garner thirty more minutes of shut eye for my infant son.

Today, however, I am trying something new.

If he wakes up before 6 am, he stays in bed until 6:30 am. After 6 am, and we'll get up. This morning, he started crying at 5:30 am, a time when he could (and should) have easily kept sleeping. But he hears a noise or loses his pacifier (we only let him use it at night), and he decides it's time to get up, despite the darkness of the night that continues to surround him. And the earlier he gets up, the more tired he is throughout the day, which means he's crankier. So sleep is good. He needs it. Or he at least needs to learn to lay in bed and chill for awhile.

You see, in another life, we'll call it B.E. ("Before Ezra"), I considered myself a morning person. I loved to get up before Nell and sip a cup of coffee in the dark stillness before dawn. I would enjoy the quiet solitude of the morning, slowly beginning my day. Even in the meaty part of my training, when the alarm would shrill at 3:30 am for a long run, I would give myself 45 minutes to come out of hibernation, gently resurfacing from my slumber.

And then, twenty or so months ago, we were blessed with the arrival of Ezra, who has changed my life in so many positive ways. I am a better person because of him, and I love him more than anything.

But I lost my mornings. In fact, I came to dread them. I almost, but not quite, hated the mornings.

So, I'm trying to get just a small piece of them back. For Ezra's sanity, for my sanity, for the sanity of mankind.

Either that, or I'm just a bad, selfish parent.

But hey, I am taking the little dude on a short, 4 mile run when he gets up, so we'll have a chance to bond and hopefully shake off any permanent damage.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Running the last 4 miles of a 14 mile run while pushing Ezra, my 30 lb
son, and his jogging stroller is... uh... fun. Yeah, that's it. Fun.
Especially that part up Hidden Road. Oh, yeah. That is what I call

Sent from my iPhone

I should've golfed yesterday afternoon. 60% chance of rain today for my 2:40 pm tee time. Bummer.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

It seems like so long ago that I started the mornings off with an alarm clock. Most days, Ezra's gentle waking moans pull me out of bed. But now that I'm back in training mode, Saturdays will involve earlier risings as I make my way out the door for increasingly longer runs leading up to Heartland. It's 5 am, I've got 14 miles to jog, and I'm sleeeeeeeepy. Yawn.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

This is the way a weekend day is meant to be spent. Ezra slept in
until 7:15 am. We hung out for awhile and had some granola bars and
yogurt (and coffee for me). After breakfast, I loaded up the bike and
met up with The Legendary Adam H for a 2 hour bike ride. After the
ride, I grabbed a shower and some lunch and took an hour long nap on
the couch. Refreshed, I headed to the golf course to enjoy 18 holes in
windy but pleasant 64 degree sunshine. No complaints here, amigos.

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Two days into my official Heartland training plan, and I'm already skipping hill repeats.

But it's not my fault. Really.

I blame Dave Fannin and his brutally effective workout yesterday morning. The sadistic trainer trashed my lower body. Squats, lunges, plyometrics, presses, running lines (and more!)... it was rough.

I had planned to run up and down Hidden Road with Jballs at lunch.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Two rides this weekend on the bike and, how can I put this delicately, my ass hurts. Literally. Why are bike seats so small?

Three weeks until the Shiner ride. Sure, until yesterday, I hadn't ridden my bike in 8 months, but who's counting? Why shouldn't I be able to get into century ride shape in a few weekends? Go big or go home, right? I figure if I can't run 100 miles, then I better be able to at least bike it.

p.s. If you've got young kids, and you're going insane from listening to cutesy kid music in the car, I'd recommend Barenaked Ladies' album "Snacktime."

Sunday, April 05, 2009

It's a bit after 1 pm, and I am not basking in the post-marathon glow. And I'm okay with it. The past season has seen a lot of running.

It started in August with 3 a.m. runs all over west Fort Worth.

In October, I ran 30 miles from my parents' house in Mansfield to where I grew up in South Arlington, past my old junior high and high school, and back--as a training run.

In November, I covered just shy of 55 miles in 12 hours on an unexpectedly hilly course at the Ultracentric.

The next month, I finished strong after 50 miles at what I later learned was the final Sunmart Endurance Run.

I started 2009 off with a 100 kilometer trek up and down the mountains* of Bandera.

In February, blisters and chafing resulted in my first ever DNF after 77 miles at Rocky Raccoon.

A few weeks later, I paced the Cowtown Ultra with Jballs, followed the next week by some tough trail running in Waco.

As recently as a week and a half ago, I had planned to run the Big D Marathon today. But then I got sick, recovery took longer than anticipated, and I eventually decided that I would take the day off. And as I look out my front porch window at the trees blowing over as gale-force** winds rip through North Texas, I think I'm ever better than okay with not running. I'm happy to not be running today. Because I wouldn't want my last race of the season to be a beat down.

Especially when the new season starts next month as I begin training for Heartland.

* Hey, they seemed like mountains to me.
** i.e., not gale-force.


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