Friday, December 24, 2010


I will think of 2010 as the year I spent on the injured reserve list.  It actually started in late 2009 with the splintering of my elbow.  Healing kept me out of the gym for about two and half months.  I still ran, but cautiously so as to avoid any further falls.  I lost a lot of strength and gained extra weight that still clings to my frame.  Hoping to jump start my return to decent shape, I signed up for Mother Road--but from the beginning, my heart wasn't in it.  I put in a few long training runs, but not nearly the mileage necessary to complete 100 miles.  And I never had the requisite mental focus.  So it was no surprise when I threw in the towel 40 miles into the run last month.  In the past, I might've told myself that 40 miles was still a long way and that I should be proud to have made it that far.  But I would've been deluding myself.  In the back of my mind, I knew that I wouldn't finish MR even before I took my first step.  I was doing it not out of desire, but almost out of obligation.  I had "branded" myself an ultrarunner to friends, family, and co-workers, so I had to sign up for another one.  But the fire that fueled my first quest was gone.  I'm not sure what 2011 holds, but I've got to rediscover myself and my passion (whatever it might be).

Saturday, December 04, 2010

No WS.

The Western States lottery took place this morning and, alas, I was not randomly selected to fill one of the 213 available slots.  Considering a field of 1,614 hopefuls, it was a long shot.  While slightly disappointed, I am also relieved.  My head really hasn't been in the ultra game since Heartland.  Following a page from Clea's playbook, the new plan is to scale back and speed up.  Less miles run faster. 

2011 will be a good year.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Shakes.

This morning's breakfast smoothie:

Chia seeds
Whey protein
Fresh spinach
Mandarin orange
Baby carrots

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What now?

I pulled out of Mother Road earlier than I had to, but I have no doubt that a finish just wasn't in the cards. A pretty substantial blister had started forming on my left big toe around mile 30. I lanced it, cleaned it, and dressed it, but it did not improve. Another blister started forming on my right heel. The top of my left foot started hurting. The temperature started dropping, my pace slowed, and I just wasn't feeling it. The thought of shuffling through a 30 degree night just didn't appeal to me.

I checked the ego and threw in the towel. I hunkered down in the van and joined Arthur and Frank for the duration as we crewed for Jason. He hit a low point but kept moving and looked strong when we left him at the 62 mile aid station.

Twenty minutes later, we got a message from him: "Man down." Jason's leg had locked up at the hip. 64 miles into the race, and he was finished.

So what now?

I really don't know.

Training for Mother Road was not much fun. The summer heat killed it. I skipped more long runs that I finished, and I know that even if the blisters hadn't done me in, my lack of quality training probably would have eventually.

I put my name in the Western States lottery, although I don't know how I will feel if I get in. The odds are against me, but you never know. I figured this would probably be one of the only times I have a qualifying run, so I might as well give it a go. If I somehow get selected during the December 4, 2010 drawing, then I will have to seriously ramp up my regime. I might even consider hiring a coach to prepare. If I don't get picked, then I think I am probably done with 100s. I still love the long run, but I think 100km will be my limit.

I just need to take a step back to reassess what it is I want to accomplish with all of this running stuff.

2010 Mother Road 100 from Ryan Valdez on Vimeo.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I'm 1 for 3 on 100 milers. 
Full report to come, but here is the quick version:

DNF around mile 40 due to foot blisters.
Stayed out and crewed for Jason.
Jason DNF'd around mile 64 when his hip/leg locked up.

Conclusion: 100 mile races are tough.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

100 Miles in Real Time.

I will be wearing a GPS tracker that will update my Mother Road progress in real time on a personalized website. If you find yourself bored Saturday and Sunday and need a little slow moving excitement, shoot me your contact info and I will send you a link to the site.

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Final Countdown.

T-minus one week and counting....

Run, run, as slow as you can, it's 100 miles, so take it easy, man.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Frandog 4-eva.

My sister-in-law will be walking 60 miles over the next three says to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Good luck, Francie!!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Change of perspective.

The man who views the world at fifty the same as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.
-- Muhammad Ali

At 33, my view of the world has changed so many times that it is hard to recall all of the different opinions I have had.  And I find that somewhat entertaining because I distinctly recall being in high school and getting into (senseless) arguments with my parents, all the while thinking, "I am certain in my views; I am certain in my positions; my parents are simply wrong."  Truer words were never... er, wait a second....

And now, living near a college campus proves that the cliche is actually an unyielding universal truth: youth is wasted on the young.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

I like living.

I like living.  I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
-- Agatha Christie

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Strange Daze.

I was in Austin for work last week and snagged a bite to eat with Mark and Clea (and Clea's husband Mike and her son Jasper).  I met Clea more than a few years ago when I ran my first 50K in Waco.  Mark was at the Waco run, too, although I honestly don't recall if we met then or not.  If memory serves me, I stumbled onto his blog and then kept bumping into him at various races.  In any event, it was nice catching up in person over some tasty pizza and yummy beer.

During our visit, Mark asked me how I felt about Mother Road.

"Under trained," I said.

"Yeah, but we always feel that way," he responded.

True, but this time I really do feel like I haven't put in enough miles.  I never did a long run more than 26 miles.  I haven't done much the past month.  And my diet--while it has had periods of greatness--has been far from ideal.  I don't feel particularly strong or healthy these days.  If anything, I feel tired and slow.  (Oh, and I awoke this morning to a sore throat.)

Not sure what it all means, but Mother Road will be an interesting journey.  I'm batting .500 on 100 mile runs, so it's anybody's guess what'll happen in a few weeks.  I know that the battle is more in my head than in my feet, so the plan is to embrace the agony and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Last Call.

The final long training run is tomorrow morning. In the whole scheme of things, it won't even be that long. Just three hours of cruising at an easy pace. It will actually be quite a bit ahorter than previous training runs. But when I'm done with this one, I'm done. I'm about one month out from the big race, and it's time to taper. Clea already commented on the love-hate relationship runners have with the taper. She's right. On the one hand, it will be nice not having to get up early and block off hours of the day just to pound the pavement. On the other hand, long runs anchor the week and become something go look forward to while sitting at the office. (sigh)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Almost Done.

The end of the long(ish) training runs is in sight. Granted, I have fudged the numbers and haven't put in as many long miles as I should have. Nonetheless, the weekends of ludicrous lumbering through headlamp-lit lanes are finally coming to a close. Just a couple more weeks and I will arrive at the best part of the ultra-training--the taper. It's about time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Boys' weekend did not go off quite as planned.

It rained ALL day. No soccer game, no outside time.

We did manage to get haircuts, but we had to wait about 30 minutes at the barber shop before they were able to get to us. Ezra did very well, patiently waiting his turn.

Oh, and then Texas got completely exposed and demolished by UCLA.

Ah well, at least we had a nice dinner with Pop. And Ezra did great at Sunday school the following morning.

It is good to have Nell back home.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Boys' Weekend.

Just me and Ezra for the next couple of days. Nell is in Fredricksburg with the girls, so I promised Ezra a boys' weekend. It starts with a bootcamp workout in the garage this morning, followed by breakfast at Montgomery Street Cafe. Then we are both getting our hair cut at West 7th Street Barber Shop. After that, it's time for a soccer game. And then a nice, long nap. When we awake, we will watch Texas tromp UCLA (revenge for the 1997 game). After we destroy them by no less than 60 points, we will meet up with Pop for some golf and pizza. That should make for a good Saturday.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Days Five, Six, and Seven: Free at Last!

It's over. Finally. What a long week. Much like a hundred mile run, it started okay, then got progressively worse. By the end, I couldn't even look at a green veggie or red meat without dry heaving.

Carbs, oh carbs, I have missed you.

And dairy, yes dairy, I embrace your creamy goodness.

The end result--7 pounds in 7 days. Pretty incredible.

The plan now is to eat healthy (but not gonzo-no-carb-raw-veggie-stupid) for the forseeable future. Less weight makes for better running. Should be helpful for 100 miles along Route 66 in November.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Day Four: What's the Story, Morning Glory?

I kick ass at this nutrition plan in the mornings. I wake up ready to go. I am a machine. Black coffee, grapefruit, green veggies--bring 'em on.

And then the afternoon hits and I turn into a spineless sloth salivating for sustenance.

So, again, I caved. Dinner wasn't unhealthy, but it certainly wasn't sanctioned. But, oh, did I enjoy my Amy's Organic Black Bean Burrito with salsa.*

For the past two days, I've been about 50% compliant. Now the work week is here, and the cheating must end. The goal is to make it through Thursday.

Friday is a 30 mile training run. There is no way I am attempting that without carbs.

*And a beer in the golf course.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Day Three: A Little Cheatin'

Six and a half miles on pretty much zero carbs is tough.

But that's not what caused me to cave.

I was fine until lunch. And then, after spending two hours in the sun watching Ezra "play" soccer, the carbs started calling. Combining the cravings with the Texas-Texas Tech night game proved a bit too much. So I had some pizza and some beer.

I know. I am weak.

But that doesn't mean I am done. I'm back in the saddle and ready to finish this thing. It was a momentary lapse of reason, and I am refocused and ready to rock.

Bring on the raw.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Day Two: Green and Dumb.

No headaches, but still hungry. And I'm already sick of the never-ending smorgasbord of raw, green vegetables. If I could just cook them, that would make such a difference.

But no, say the nutrition Nazis. All green vegetables must be eaten raw.

Which leads to my next question--why only green vegetables? Why not red and yellow and orange? I had always been led to believe that colorful vegetable selections were healthy and encouraged.

That's true, say the green veggie Gestapo, but green vegetables have the highest fiber content and are thus better during the induction phase of your nutrition plan.

It's all just a bit too green and dumb.

The only reason I am continuing this unpleasant assault on my appetite is the amazing result after two full days. It may only be water weight, but pants are already a little looser and the scale has me down 2 pounds.

5 days to go.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Day One: My Head Hurts.

Throughout the day, I consumed copious amounts of lettuce, cucumbers, green peppers, zucchini, celery, and lean meat. I also chugged more than a gallon and a half of water My only carbs came from a single grapefruit, half of which was eaten in the morning and the other half in the evening.

I was doing just fine, thank you, until my mid-day spinning class. Following 50 minutes of intense cardio, the hunger finally become noticeable. The headache kicked in a couple hours later and didn't subside until I finally drifted off to sleep.

Hopefully, today will be a better day. I will be in court all afternoon, so I will not have the opportunity to snack much after lunch. That will be tough. To make this plan work (i.e., to minimize hunger and headaches), repeated noshing on nutritious eats (i.e., bland, boring vegetables) is required.

Day two, let's rock.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Breakfast of Champions.

The "Jump Start" phase of Nell's (and now my) nutrition plan has started.  The purpose of these first seven days is to rid the body of processed foods, starches, sugars, etc. 

It is going to suck. 

Breakfast this morning included two scrambled eggs, half a grapefruit, a cup of black coffee, and two slices of roast beef. 

Throughout the day, I will be "enjoying" lots of green vegetables and lean meat. 

I am already hungry.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


My biggest battle is always nutrition.  I do not like the idea of dieting.  Eating is fun.  Drinking is fun.  Not doing those things is not fun.  But I need to drop some weight.


Nell's school has started a health initiative.  As part of it, Nell was able to meet with a nutritionist who is going to plan a diet for her.  I am going to (attempt to) join her on her journey.  We shall see how it goes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Running more than 20 miles before work makes for a long day at the office.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Marathon distance training runs.

All of my long runs for the next month will be in excess of 26 miles.

I am already sleepy.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A Fresh(er) Approach.

It was time for a change.  Enjoy!

p.s. 24 miles went well last Saturday.  It is amazing what a difference heat, or the lack thereof, makes.  60 degrees at the start, mid-70s by the finish.  Glorious.

p.p.s. Unfortunately, I seem to have developed some odd pain along the front of my right knee.  It is always something.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blah, blah, blah.

From the National Weather Service:


It is currently 84 degrees out there... at 4 a.m.

20 miles--let's do this, bitch.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Res firma mitescere nescit.

Mother Road rapidly approaches, friends. The heat continues, but the whining has to stop. It is go time. Train or get owned in three months. Weekend mornings that begin at 3:30 am with hours of endless running are now the status quo.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Sunday was the 9th straight 100 degree day.

And meteorologists report that the heat wave is likely to continue for another 9 days. That's a total of 18 consecutive days of triple digit temperatures.

I am ready to quit.

Friday, August 06, 2010


Yes, smelting. That's what it feels like these days. I know everyone in Texas is coping with the heat, but that won't stop me from complaining. It is yet again going to hit in excess of 100 degrees. We are talking stupid hot. No, not just stupid. Stoopid. The pavement is on fire. And it shows no signs of abatement. Triple digit temperatures. Every. Single. Day. Stick a fork in me. I am done.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

El Scorcho Cu4tro

Another year in the books.  Special thanks to all of our volunteers and congratulations to the runners.  Only had to give out one I.V. this year!

And seeing the suffering seems to have stoked the inspiration.  While I'm not exactly looking forward to tomorrow morning's pre-dawn 18 mile trek, I am not utterly dreading it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Sometimes you give it all you got and it ain't enough."

I watched the video first, then I read John's post about Hardrock.  Inspiring isn't the right word, but resonating might be.  A story about lack of motivation, too much beer, not enough training--how can that be inspiring?
Despite my apparent optimistic nature, I can relate to the pessimism John speaks about.  Running ultras--especially 100s--is hard.  The training is relentless.  Getting up at three in the morning to run for six hours before putting in a full day as at work and as a Dad takes its toll, mentally and physically.  Eventually, the darkness takes over. 

As John said:
I’m not real sure where my drive went. I looked for it behind the couch, at the bar, and under the bed. It was no where to be found. I lost my “why” and in the process I quit believing in myself.

I've been there.  Hell, I feel like that all the time.  Since Heartland, my motivation has come and gone repeatedly.  I've become manic-depressive about endurance.  I'm either gung ho or out of the game--sometimes within the same breath. 

Again, John's words resonated with me:
In my mind I started making all the compromises that we do when things get tough in our lives. Compromises like, well when I go home I’ll just say that I gave it a shot but the race was just more than I could bear. Or, it will be okay, no one will think less of me if I quit. I told myself those little white lies with which I could justify quitting. Like, I didn’t train properly etc… In my heart, as we all know at these times, I knew I was lying to myself but I didn’t care. I remember... thinking, “There is no way... no way.” I just wanted to stop. I decided that when I got to the aid station I would quit. I knew that by quitting I would deal with an even greater sense of regret and pain, but that would be later.
Been there too many times to count.

And what happens when you do get up and finish one of these races?  When you put aside the pain and the depression and just get 'er done? 

Well, here is what I felt at the end of my first (and only) 100 mile finish:
There was no runner’s high, no sense of euphoria during or after the run. It was hard. Plain and simple.
 John's Hardrock trek ended much the same way:
I had always expected that there would be a feeling of elation and I would be light on my feet with a spring in my step. I thought that my heart would lift a little, knowing that I was going to get this thing done. Well, none of those things ever happened. It’s not like in the movies, this shit is for real.

So what's the point of this depressing post?  I'm not sure.  Maybe it's just another one of those posts that needs to be out there.  Another point of view.  Like Matt Samet said:
If you're an outdoor athlete and good at it, you're probably like I once was: a selfish, self-involved son of a bitch. It's always more, more, more and me, me, me, and I was no different. I wanted to be the best. I wanted to do the hardest... to be the boldest....
We're all teetering on the edge, folks.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Howling at the moon.

Good times at last night's Better Than Ezra concert, but I'm getting too old to run 18 miles, play with the boy, drive to a show, and rock out past midnight. I am feeling the pain today.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Another year in the books.

So begins the next track in the album of life.  Yesterday, I turned 33 years old.  A smile creeps onto my face when I think back at how much life has gotten better and better over the years.  Eight years ago, I was cramming for the Bar exam and getting ready to move to Houston.  Nell and I were engaged, but Ezra wasn't even a blip on the horizon.  I'd run three marathons, but going a mile over 26.2 seemed not only excessive, but borderline pyschotic.  I never considered the pain and enlightenment of the ultra. 
And now here I sit, sipping coffee at 4:19 a.m. and preparing to cruise 18 miles around Fort Worth at the very early stages of my training for the Mother Road 100.

Clearly, I have lost my mind in my older age.

Vaya con Dios, amigos.

Friday, July 02, 2010

The Long... Ride???

Cycling has become a much larger part of my routine as the mercury has screamingly ascended to triple-digit temperatures.  I've got a great spinning class I hit twice a week at lunch, and for the past 6 weeks, I've been joining a group on Saturday mornings for 40-50 mile rides. 

I picked up a heart rate monitor from Steep and Cheap and was somewhat surprised to learn that the beat is much higher on the bike than when running. 

There are two probable reasons for this: 

(1) I have been running for over a decade now, and my body has become more efficient on two feet than on my Felt

(2) I don't push myself hard enough on the run.

It's probably both.

And so now, at 4:42 a.m. Friday morning, I will hurl myself out the front door and down the street on a 16 mile, pre-dawn shuffle.  Summer running in Texas sucks--er, I mean, rocks.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Western States... oops. [UPDATE: Maybe not!]

Congrats to everyone who finished the 2010 run!

Amidst all the Western States hoopla last weekend, I realized I missed the deadline to enter the 2011 lottery.  Heartland gave me a qualifying run.  Bummer.  A finish at Mother Road in November will also qualify me, but I'm batting .500 on finishing 100 mile runs.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Too bad I missed a shot at getting in next year.

UPDATE:  Shout out and thanks to Larry, who pointed out the error in my reading of the rules. (And I'm a lawyer, dammit!)  Apparently, the lottery for 2011 opens October 23, 2010.  And Heartland does qualify me, since I ran the race on October 10, 2009 (the qualifying period is October 1, 2009 through November 6, 2010.) Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Over the past decade, some folks have said that I am addicted to exercise.  I smile at the joke, but it is probably more true than I realize.  The realization hit home recently as I was reading an article in Outside Magazine written by Matt Samet, in which the former world-class climber detailed his decent into prescription drug abuse.  The final three paragraphs resonated with me:
You've read this far and can now stand in disapprobation: Here's a guy with a certain talent who pissed it away.  Pathetic, no self control, a real American wastrel.  And you wouldn't be wrong.  But here's another secret.  If you're an outdoor athlete and good at it, you're probably like I once was: a selfish, self-involved son of a bitch.  It's always more, more, more and me, me, me, and I was no different.  I wanted to be the best.  I wanted to do the hardest... routes, to be the boldest....

Why? Why not?  I was addicted to climbing... and when that wasn't enough, I became addicted to drugs.

Maybe you see some of my method in your own madness.  And perhaps your obsessions are "healthy": wheatgrass, long runs, body sculpting, rock climbing.  That's great.  But I tell you know, absent your passions you will feel the sharp scrape of withdrawal -- just like any fixless junkie bug-eyed in a January alley.  Reality can be reduced to chemical reactions, our body craving the release of GABA, oxytocins, endorphins, serotonin, dopamine.  It doesn't care about their provenance.  It just doesn't.  Cut off the source -- any source -- and you will pay.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Nell

Seven years of love, excitement, ups, downs, highs, lows, and sharing.  I wouldn't trade a single day.  I love you.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Summer is here.

90+ degrees all week.  Looks like I'll be getting up before dawn to get in the long run.  Bummer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The 20 Mile Climb

Saturday morning has turned into long ride day with the boys from spin class.  We set out about 8:30 a.m. for 50 miles past Benbrook and into Aledo.  All was fine and good and well until my seat abruptly slid slightly forward.  We pulled over and started doing some maintenance.  The bolt connecting the seat to the seat post had come loose.  No problem.  Patrick, our fearless leader, had the tools to help.  As I was tightening the bolt, it suddenly gave way, ripped the shreds, and broke in two pieces.  Seriously?  Um... now what?  20 miles from home and no seat.  "No problem," Patrick confidently spoke.  "Just take my seat.  I'll do the last bit of the ride standing."  Again I say... seriously?  And so he did.  Every time I start to think I'm hardcore, somebody else comes along to remind me I'm not.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Marriage, Motherhood, and Mayhem.

It has been an interesting and (often) exhausting few days.

Friday evening, my wife and son rehearsed their respective roles as bridesmaid and ringbearer in preparation of my little sister's wedding to Mr. Smith.  (That is his acutal name.  I am not intending to be coy or clever.  (Not that you assumed I was attempting either.)) 

Following the practice session, we enjoyed fine food and tasty beverages at the original Kincaid's off Camp Bowie.  Our two and half year old gooblin (a cross between goober and goblin) did his best to disrupt Mr. Smith's father's toast, but we were able to keep him at a bay just long enough for the clinking of glasses.

Saturday, after a brisk 8 mile run at a decent 8:12 per mile clip (yay!), my bride bid me adieu as she ventured to the salon/spa for hair, make-up, and general bridesmaid mirth.  The boy and I played for awhile until I layed (or is laid?) down the law and enforced the necessary afternoon nap.

(Somewhat) refereshed, the Valdez men got dressed and made it to the church on time.  The ceremony, a beautiful affair with trumpets, organs, and violins, went off without a hitch.  My favorite moment had to be my son standing in front of the congregation holding his Nana's (my mother's) hand and casually eating corn nuts while she read from the Gospel.  Precious moments.

We partied hard into the night, enjoying several "fast beers" and a delightful dinner, until the wee hour of 10:15 p.m.

Thankfully, Ezra did not let the late night affect his nightly routine of waking around 3:30 a.m.


Late this morning, we shared a very nice mother's day brunch with our extended family, including (the newly-established) Mr. and Mrs. Smith, at the Iron Cactus.  It was a mind-blowing mix of sushi, bacon and eggs, prime rib, trout, chicken fried pork, and other such food stuffs topped off with a bread pudding to rival Pat O'Briens' (so I am told).

Happy Mother's Day, Nell!

Happy Mother's Day, mom!

Happy Mother's Day, G-ma!

Happy Mother's Day, Grams!

May you all get the wonderful sleep that I so desparately desire.

p.s. Warrior Dash results show a finish time of 27:02 at a pace of 8:43 per mile.  I finished 154 out of 899 in my division (males 30-34), good enough for the top 17%.  Given the obstacles and the distance (3.51 miles), I'm fairly suprised and pleased with the result. 

p.p.s. I hope everyone enjoyed the (excessive) use of parathenses in this post.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Sweat, mud, and tears.

David S. and I headed to Forney, Texas early yesterday morning to run the Warrior Dash--a 3.51 mile romp under, over, and through various obstacles.  Decked out in a kilt (er, plus-size mini-skirt), a beaded "warrior" shirt, a skull-and-crossbones headband, and donning a mohawk, I was ready to act like an idiot for 30 minutes of running and rambling.

Despite the uncertainty of whether the event would actually take place, I was very impressed with the race organization.  Parking was a breeze, volunteers were everywhere, and the facilities were top notch.  The main entrance looked more like an outdoor concert, sporting various booths for vendors to hawk their wares (anything from beer and turkey legs to stone tossing and hatchet throwing).  A large stage and video screen anchored the grounds, where a pretty decent cover band was rocking out to inspiring tunes from the likes of Survivor and Journey.

Around 9:45 a.m., we made our way to the starting area.  Fifteen minutes later, as giant flames roared into the sky around us, we were off. 

After about half a mile, we entered "torando alley," where a fan boat blew gusts of wind directly into us.  Cutting through a muddy path, we next came upon some planks over a short gulley.  Pretty easy stuff so far.

Then it was down into a creek that varied in deepness from a few inches to several feet.  After that, we had to pull ourselves up over a slippery, muddy embankment.  We ran through more standing water and mud until we can upon some stacked hay bales that we had to climb over.  Again, nothing to hard yet. 

Coming around a corner, we arrived at the first tiring obstacle--traversing down a creek bed.  The water was too deep to touch, so there was nothing to do but swim.  With mud-soaked clothes and shoes, it was slow going.  After we made it across, we had to jump over some wooden spools, followed by a rope wall (pretty benign).  Next up was the fire jump, which was goofy and fun. 

Finally, we arrived at the last obstacle--crawling through muddy underneath barbed wire.  I made the calculated mistake of diving head first into the muck, which caked my eyes and ears with mud, rendering me blind and deaf.  It sucked.  My eyes were stinging from the mud and I had no idea where I was in relation to the barbed wire or how far I had to go.  I just stayed low and kept moving foward until I was back on grass.  Then I got up and ran it in to the finish.  My eyes were tearing like crazy from the mud, and it took me several minutes and splashing them with water before everything returned to normal.

All in all, it took us a little under 30 minutes to complete the race.  It was different and fun.  If I can get some folks to join me, I'll probably do it again next year.  It was a nice change from the long distance stuff.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Warrior Dash Injunction.

This is interesting.

According to their website, the Warrior Dash may or may not take place as planned this weekend.  Here's what they say:
Kaufman County in Texas has enjoined and prohibited Warrior Dash Texas from being held as advertised.

It was advertised as taking place mostly in Dallas County with only a small portion in Kaufman County, but now we know that even that small portion of the event can not be held in Kaufman County. We didn’t know it, but a court order was obtained without any notice to us to prevent the event from happening there.

We are doing everything in our power to comply. So, look for an update on Tuesday after we have our day in court, because we may have to give you new directions to the event.
Warrior Dash has thousands of folks registered for the race, which takes place over two days.  If it doesn't happen, they are going to lose a lot of money, not to mention goodwill. 

It is suprising that such a large event didn't secure the race site in advance, making sure the run would go off without a hitch.  With El Socrcho, we start the permitting process months before the race.
What I can't figure out is why Kaufman County is opposed to holding a running event.  Maybe because they are providing alcohol afterwards? 

It is all very odd.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Lack of Focus.

Since Heartland, a common theme has been my lack of motivation or focus.  Yes, I've run a couple few ultras and continue to work out, but I can't seem to focus.  There is nothing on the immediate horizon, and I am having difficulty concentrating my efforts.  (Mother Road is too many months away.)  I don't know what the solution is.  All I do know is that I am in a rut.  I've got to find something to bring it together.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Settle down and get well

I spent yesterday in mediation on a case set for trial in about three weeks.  We settled late in the day.  Settling cases is always bittersweet.  From the client's perspective, it is less risky and brings the matter to a close without the anxiety of wondering how a jury will see the lawsuit.  From my perspective as an attorney, it is often somewhat of a let down, as I am just beginning to gear for trial, only to have the opportunity to try the case taken away.  As lawsuits--especially commerical disputes--become more expensive, it has become increasingly rare that a matter goes all the way to trial.  Over the past seven years that I have been in private practice, I have tried five cases.  I actually have more appellate experience than trial experience, having presented eight cases to various courts of appeals, including a current case pending before the Texas Supreme Court.

On the health front, Ezra brought home the first funk of 2010, hitting me hard with a nasty spring cold.  I've been dealing with massive sinus pressure, coughing, and your basic histamine horrors for the past five days.  I think I'm over the hump and on the road to recovery, but we shall see.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Brutal.  That's the only way to describe working out with Heath at The Body Firm.  Five minutes in to yesterday's session, I was drenched in sweat, my heart exploding out of my chest.  Get a trainer, folks.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Paleo Diet would be fantastic... if I would actually stick to it.

Ah well.  I'm trying.

Long distances are getting faster.  Kept an 8:24 per mile pace over 10 miles last weekend.  I suppose the mid-week speed work is helping.

The Legendary Adam H and I renewed our cycling friendship last Sunday with a nice 20 mile ride along the Trinity River.  We are planning to ride 100 km at the Cross Timbers Classic next month, followed by 100 miles at Tour d'Italia in June, and 100 km at the Peach Pedal in July.

Oh, and the Warrior Dash is coming up in a couple of weeks.

Should be a fun summer, amigos.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Paleo What?

If there is one area of my fitness where I am lacking, it is what I eat, especially at dinner.  Case in point.  I had a healthy breakfast (homebrewed protein shake blended with a banana, two Clementine oranges, frozen spinach, carrots, berries, pineapple, chia, and green magma) and a sensible lunch (turkey sandwich with lettuce and tomato), followed by a completely ridiculously couple of slices of pepperoni pizza and three Cajun buffalo wings with ranch dressing.  Oops.

There's no excuse for it, but I'm going to offer several anyway. 

Eating a healthy dinner was much, much easier when I was single and living by myself.  (Granted, that was eight years ago, so it's probably no longer something I can lean on, but it's out there anyway.)

And it was much, much easier pre-Ezra.  (This one is legit.  At the end of the day, after working, working out, and playing with a two and a half year old, it's just a lot more appealing to call in some junk food than to cook.)

What irks me is that these excuses are ones that I used to dismiss when others made them.

"Come on?  You can't take 15 minutes to prepare a meal? This is your health!"  I'd chastise them.

About six years ago, after Nell and I had been married for six months, we both started feeling a little, um, how shall I put this... soft. So we decided to go "hardcore" fort a month, eat healthy six days a week, and workout more. And it worked. I dropped about 5-10 pounds and felt great.

So, as after being pinched and prodded by my trainer (and after learning that my body fat had crept up over 20%), I recently picked up "The Paleo Diet for Athletes."  I like it because it doesn't read like a "diet" book.  Rather, it is more about enhancing performance, especially for endurance athletes (as I like to fancy myself).

So what is "The Paleo Diet?"  The authors (Loren Cordain, PhD, and Joe Friel, MS) lay it out succintly on page 7:
You can eat as much lean meat, poultry, seafood, fresh fruit, and veggies as you like.  Foods that are not part of the [Paleo Diet] include cereal grains, dairy products... legumes, alcohol, salty foods, fatty meats, refined sugars, and nearly all processed foods.
. . .
Immediately before, during, and after a workout or competition, certain non-Paleo foods should be eaten to promote a quick recovery.
Sounds sort of like a leaner/healthier version of Atkins, doesn't it?

Back in 1998, I ate similarly and dropped about 65 pounds.  (I used to be really, REALLY out of shape.)But it's easier when you have that much to lose.  Right now, I'm at most about 10 pounds heaftier than I'd like to be.  Unfortunately, than 10 pounds is stubborn as hell and doesn't want to pack up and head for the hills.

So we will try the Paleo Diet for Athletes.  I'm not going ape-shit on it, though.  I'm going to give myself one day off a week.  And I'm not going to kill myself.  I'm going to guage my energy level after a week.  My biggest concern is cutting pretty much all carbs except those I get from fruits.  We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter... and happy training!

I love Easter.  It signifies both the end and the beginning.  Lent and winter give way to celebration and spring.  It is a wonderful time.

I did my first long(ish) run since Waco yesterday.  While still focusing primarily on speed, I don't want to lose my endurance base.  The legs were sore from a hard workout with Heath the previous evening, but even with some prolonged walk breaks I did 12 miles at a 10 minute per mile overall pace.  I may go out for a bike ride later today.

Speaking of bikes, when Energy Fitness ended its tenure, so too did my Tuesday/Thursday noon spin class.  Or so I thought.  Two days later, Patrick and the crew resurrected the class and moved us over to L.A. Fitness.  And they have better and more abundant bikes, so no more getting turned away at the door.  I'm still bummed that Energy Fitness is gone, but I'm optimistic that things were will work out at L.A. Fitness.

Also, anyone from Energy Fitness (or elsewhere) looking for a good personal trainer should check out Dave Fannin and his crew.  I seriously cannot say enough good things about The Body Firm.  While most of their website and promotional materials are geared toward weight loss (at which they are phenomenal), they are also excellent at cross-training more experienced athletes and improving performance.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Running and Rambling.

Speed work continues and it seems to be helping.  I pushed a hilly 5 km training run at 6:57 per mile.  About three and half years ago, I knocked back a 5 km PR at a pace of 6:44 per mile, so I'm not too far off the mark.

Ezra's internal alarm clock continues its random cycle.  This morning, he came in around 5:15 am, just after Nell left for the gym.  Despite my best efforts, it became abundantly clear quite quickly that we would not be going back to sleep.  Ah well.  Sometimes it's best to embrace the inevitable and just get out of bed and play.  Which is what we did.

On a sad note, Energy Fitness permanently shut its doors today after a three year run as one of the best gyms in Fort Worth.  I had a feeling things weren't going so well, but I was still surprised by the suddenness of the closure.  I will miss my lunchtime spin classes.  Over the past couple of years, I made several friends whose main connection was our bi-weekly mid-day cardio blast.  We have been e-mailing and scrambling to find another gym where Patrick (the sadistic but effective instructor) can continue to lead us through 45 minutes of sweat soaked misery.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Too little sleep.

99% of the time, I love the location of our new home.  We are near TCU, several parks, the Fort Worth zoo, and lots of locally owned shops and restaurants.  But we are also about two miles from an enormous train yard.  And our house sits high up on top of a hill.  And every so often, it seems that several thousand trains come through during the wee hours of the morning, blowing their horns incessantly throughout the pre-dawn darkness.

The first one came around 2 a.m., and they didn't stop until after 4 a.m.  I know this because my son, who randomly decides not to sleep in his bed, was squirming next to me for a couple of hours last night, preventing any chance of rest for big poppa.

I am exhausted and it is only 6:58 a.m.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Surrender to Succeed.

Another perfect insight from Bad Budha:
There comes a moment for me in every marathon or ultramarathon... that is very specific and pivotal. It’s the moment when I’m feeling most tired, most in pain, most sick of fighting it all, a clearly defined point in space and time when I basically become fed up. And there are two very different directions that moment can take me. I can either run away from it, by quitting the race.... Or I can surrender myself to it. And when I do give up the struggle to escape my experience and simply let myself be, to feel it all fully and completely, my tension evaporates, the cheap scenery of my self-scripted melodrama is revealed for what it really is, and I make peace with my pain and suffering. Then, and only then, can I finish the race....

Friday, March 19, 2010

Speed? I am Speed.

Not really.  But I did finish the TCU loop at a 7:21 per mile pace while pushing Ezra in the jogging stroller.  And the route even has a few decent hills (at least for Fort Worth).  Fairly pleased with the effort, especially considering it was my first attempt to run "fast" in a LONG time, and I had had a few glasses of wine the night before.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Are you rested enough?

One measure for whether or not you are rested enough (besides falling asleep in board meetings) is to ask yourself this: "How much do I care about the things I care about?" When we lose concern for people, both lost and saved, for friendship, for truth, for beauty, for goodness; when we cease to laugh when our children laugh and instead yell at them to be quiet, when we cease to weep when our spouses weep and instead wish they did not get so emotional, when we hear of trouble among our neighbors and our first thought is we hope it does not involve us, when we stop caring about the things we care about, that is a signal we are too busy; we have let ourselves be consumed by things that feed the ego, but starve the soul.
-- Mark Buchanan

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recovery, Cross-Training, and a Hiatus from the Long Run

The stomach bug died a slow death 36 hours after its appearance.  I woke up yesterday morning feeling much better, but still not a 100%.  Considering a slightly elevated temperature and some lingering symptoms, it seemed best to take another day off work, lest I risk a relapse and/or infected others.  By late afternoon, I felt a return to normalcy.  Thankfully, Ezra, although suffering a bit Friday night, appears to have missed the brunt of the illness that struck down Nell and me for a day and a half each.

Easing back into the swing of things, I hit the gym this morning, where Heath did his best to annihilate my muscles and shock my body back into shape.  I've been more or less coasting since Heartland.  I took six weeks off after my 100 mile journey.  A few weeks back into training, I broke the elbow, leading to another two months off.  I'd been back about two and half weeks when the stomach flu hit, causing me to miss a few days.  I feel like the gods have conspired against me and my return to fitness.  I'm (relatively) heavy and (definitely) weak.  The goal is to drop ten pounds of fat and bring back the muscle that has atrophied over the past three months.  I've got the Warrior Dash on May 1, and I'd like to be back in good shape by then.  That gives me two months to get ready.

Oh, and in three days I'm running the Toughest N' Texas race in Waco.  I'd like to finish all three laps and knock back another 50 km, but we will see how it goes.  At this point, I've got nothing to prove, and I intend to listen to my body and call it if I'm not feeling it.

Waco will be the last long run until training for the Mother Road 100 starts in earnest in July.  I'll still keep a long run base of 15-18 miles, but I don't intend to run more than three hours at a time until then.

In the meantime, Jballs and I have decided to focus on speed.  (Say what?!)  Yes, speed.  Since shifting almost exclusively to ultras, my overall pace has slowed dramtically, regardless of distance.  For awhile, running a four hour marathon wasn't too big of deal.  I knew I could finish within a few minutes of four hours without killing it, and if I pushed a bit toward the end, I could make it.  Those days seem long ago.  Over the past two years, I've lost about a minute per mile on my pace. 

It's time to get it back. 

We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Read Any Good Books Lately?

I'm something of a voracious reader.  Even though my job consists of poring over countless legal documents, cases, and memoranda, I still find myself thumbing through novels for pleasure nearly every evening.  I also tend to be streaky--I'll read a bunch of non-fiction, then some crime novels, then biographies, then horror. 

So what have I been reading lately?

I finished up "Where Win Men Glory: The Odyessy of Pat Tillman" a few months ago.  Both uplifting and tragic, it tells the story of Pat Tillman, who walked away from a multi-million dollar contract with the Arizona Cardinals to enlist in the United States Army. Two years later, he died on a desolate hillside in southeastern Afghanistan. Although known amonst his platoon that Tillman had died as a result of fratricide, the Army kept this information from Tillman’s family members and the American public for five weeks following his death. Eventually, the Army  notified his closest relatives that he had “probably” been killed by friendly fire.  Like all of Jon Krakauer's books, it was exhaustively researched and well written.

I followed up "Where Men Win Glory" with a book given to me by my folks for Christmas detailing the story of Jim Jones, the Peoples Temple, and the tragedy at Jonestown.  In "Raven: The Untold Story of the Rev. Jim Jones and His People," journalist Tim Reiterman reveals the complete, shocking story of Jonestown, providing the definitive account of the worst cult tragedy in American history. The book explores the ideals-gone-wrong, the intrigue, and the grim realities behind the Peoples Temple and its implosion in the jungle of South America. I was shocked and troubled by the manipulation Jones helf over so many people that eventually led to their mass murder (or "revolutionary suicide" as Jones put it).  Religious fantacisim frightens me.  If a person is absolutely convinced that their actions are not just acceptable, but are in fact irrevocably justified and mandated by a higher power, then there is no reasoning, there is no debate, there is no compromise.

On the heels of "Raven" came "Open: An Autobiography."  Other than a single fleeting summer at the age of 14, I have never spent much time playing tennis.  And I cannot recall watching a single match on television.  For me, Agassi was the "image is everything" guy with the crazy hair who played tennis and married Brooke Shields.  Nonetheless, "Open" was riveting.  The relentless training regime instituted by Agassi's father at a young age had broken all of his siblings, but somehow Agassi persevered, despite an open abhorence for the sport and what youth it claimed from him.  Both wanting to quit and needing to succeed existed within Agassi, and he weaves a complicated story of man grappling throughout much of his life with trying to ascertain who he really is and what he truly wants.  If anything, "Open" teaches us not to push our children too hard to fulfill our dreams.

Lastly, in a sharp turn away from non-fiction biographies, I just finished Joe Hill's "Horns."  (I did not know Joe Hill was Stephen King's son until I was a good way into the book, and I'm glad because I think I would've constantly compared Hill to his father during the read.)  "Horns" tells the story of Ignatius Perrish, a charmed 20-something born into privilege whose life is shattered after his girlfriend Merrin is brutally raped and murdered.  Although never charged or tried, in the court of public opinion Ig is and always will be guilty because his rich and connected parents pulled strings to make the investigation go away. Nothing Ig can do, nothing he can say, matters.  A year after Merrin's death, Ig wakes up hungover and with a pair of horns growing from his temples.  Ig soon learns that he can influence people's behavior with his horns, acting as their own pesonal devil and convincing them to take a step down the dark road to Hell.  And Ig intends to use his new talent to find out who killed Merrin and destroyed his life.  "Horns" was an enjoyable, quick read, and Hill shows a lot of promise.  My only complaint is that the novel was a little too tidy in the way all of the details came together in the end.  But that's a minor quibble, and one that many folks might appreciate.

So what's next? Any recommendations?

Monday, March 08, 2010

The Stomach Flu from Hell!

Ezra got it Friday night, about 10 minutes after Nell and I had been seated for dinner.  We got the call from Mimi that Ezra had just thrown up all over himself and Enno (Ezra's step-grandfather).  No romantic dinner this time.  We grabbed our food to go and then headed home to tend to the little dude.

Saturday was great.  Ezra seemed fine.  We even took in a TCU basketball game.

Sunday seemed to be going well until 5:30, when the bug attacked Nell.  She was down for the count.

But I was able to keep things moving, got Ezra to bed, lunches made, coffee ready.

Around 8:30 p.m., I settled onto the couch with a glass of red wine and watched an hour of the Academy Awards before heading to bed.

Fast forward to 4:00 a.m., when I awoke with the feeling that an alien was gnawing at the insides of my stomach.  I ran to the bathroom and hurled.  Looking down, I was shocked to see that I had vomitted up a bloody mess.  And then I remembered the glass of red wine.  A brief feeling of relief, which was soon squashed by more violent seizures of the midsection.  These vile tremors continue as I am typing this.

Somehow, Nell got Ezra to daycare.  Now we are both here--she on the couch and me in the bed--clutching our tummies and praying for some sort of recovery before we must pick Ezra up from school.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Pacing the 2010 Cowtown Ultramarathon

Picture stolen from Derrick's blog
Another year pacing Cowtown, but with much nicer weather.  Jason and I started the morning off with a couple of Whataburger tacquitos before hooking up with our fellow pacers at Pizzeria Uno before the run. 

Fighting through the enormous crowd of runners and spectators on the way to the starting corral, I suddenly realized how much the Cowtown had grown up.  Final estimates put the number of entrants over 20,000.  Howdy, folks.  Welcome to a BIG running event.

Waiting for the start, I chatted with several familiar faces.  Chris, Mario, and the crew from FWRunCo's training groups were hitting the ultra.  I ran into Derrick, who was running his first race since Rocky Raccoon.  I also met Lance T., a fellow attorney with some common clients.

About six or seven miles into the run, Jason and I had a group of about ten runners joining us.  Over the next thirteen miles, however, we would lose all of them, as the heat and the distance took its toll, slowing each runner's pace below ours.  By the time we reached mile twenty, Jason and I were on our own. 

So we decided to stop for doughnuts.  Seriously--I snagged a kolache and a chocolate twist at the Donut Palace.  Just the right amount of carbs, fat, and protein to get me going.

My knee started giving me problems around mile twenty four, but there was no turning back.

We trudged along, and crossed the finish line in 5 hours, 35 minutes -- five minutes faster than last year, and five minutes off our overall pace goal.  Had we been with other runners trying to hit a 5:30 finish time, I'm certain we would have kept the pace and pulled through.  But after all our pacees (?) dropped back, there didn't seem much point in pushing it.

Next up -- Waco.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

What's on Your Nightstand? (or what I'm reading these days)

I just finished reading the book, "Eating the Dinosaur," Chuck Klosterman's newest collection of essays on a myriad of topics ranging from the conflict between professional football's conservative face and its Marxist soul to the intellectual value of "Industrial Society and Its Future."  If you have not read any of Klosterman's books, you ought to give them a try.  It is difficult to describe his work, but I'll try.  Reading Chuck Klosterman is like having that late night conversation at the college coffeehouse/bar (depending on your choice of vice) with a guy who is just a little bit smarter, cooler, and funnier than you are and whose overall ideas vibe with 90% of the way you view the world.  He's something of a contradiction--a pop culture obsessed hipster who peppers conversation with obscure quotes from out-of-run 80s sitcoms and can debate the importance of "Saved by the Bell," but who LOVES professional football and basketball (but abhors soccer).  He's written for articles The New York Times Magazine, Spin, The Washington Post, and ESPN.  Check him out.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Prelude to the Cowtown Ultramarthon

I didn't sleep well last night.

I have a headache this morning.

It is cold outside.

All good things when you are an official pacer* for the Cowtown 50 km Ultramarathon.

*According to my instructions, as an official pacer I must serve as a guide to ultramarathon particpants, leading them to fulfill their goal finish time. When the going gets tough, runners are encouraged to look to their pacers for inspiration and motivation.

Must. Drink. More. Coffee.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

50 km in Fort Worth anyone?

Saturday morning, I'll be running my third Cowtown ultramarathon.  And for the second time in three years, Jballs and I will be pacing the 50 km for a 5:30 finish time.  Come out and join us for 31 miles around Fort Worth!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Addicted to... the gym

A friend recently accused me of having a gym addiction.  I believe there may be some validity to his accusation.  Currently, I am a member of three gyms, and I will likely join a fourth gym this week.  Each serves a particular purpose.  The Body Firm covers my personal training and weight lifting.  Energy Fitness provides spinning classes (which I recently began teaching).  Ridglea Country Club gets me my golf fix, but it also has a nice pool and workout facility that I randomly make use of.  And now L.A. Fitness may serve as my racquetball outlet.  So yes, I am a member of several gyms.  Perhaps I do have an addiction.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nell rocks the Austin Marathon

Apologies for my recent blog neglect.

Valentine's weekend proved very good for Nell's heart, as she finished the Austin Marathon in 4:58:06--more than 9 minutes faster than her previous showing at the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006.

Nice work, my love.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire.
- Charles Bukowski

Friday, January 29, 2010

Morning, alas, how I miss you

In college, anything before 10 am was considered ridiculous. 

By the time law school around, 8 am classes were the norm, allowing for more afternoon time.

Now, in the real world with a wife and a two and half year old boy, 5:30 am is the standard waking hour.

Sometimes, I miss the old days.  Yawn.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Clea "tagged" me to write about 10 things that make me happy.  In no particular order, here are just a small sampling of the many things in life that make me smile.

1. Ezra's laugh.  I love the pure joy expressed in his two and half year old giggle.

2. Nights out with Nell.  Just Nell.  (Sorry Ezra.)

3. Skipping out early on a Friday afternoon to play golf.

4. The feeling that comes after a long run.  Particularly after a shower.

5. The arrival of college football season.  (Go Longhorns!)

6. Saturday afternoon naps.

7. Concerts. With a dad in the music industry, I grew up going to live venues.  If memory serves me correctly, I've seen just about everyone live. Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Debbie Gibson, M.C. Hammer, Vanilla Ice, the Rolling Stones, Bryan Adams, Tom Petty, U2, Better than Ezra, Jackopierce, Dave Matthews Band, the Beastie Boys, Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Hole, Van Halen, Guns N Roses, Faith No More, Metallica, Garth Brooks, Pat Green, Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, New Kids on the Block, Nsync, Pop Poppins, Dada, Tripping Daisy, Tone Loc, The Refreshments, Willie Nelson, The Toadies, Kermit Ruffins, Jimmy Buffet--and tons more I can't even remember. 

8. Being able to play music.  I love my guitar and my piano.

9. Going out for breakfast.  Old South Pancake House, Mac's brunch, Yogi's, Blue Mesa, even IHOP--breakfast out rocks!

10. Encouraging friends to run.  I've finished marathons with Nell, Dave, Kyu Chan, Shana, Jballs, Michael, Toben, and Julia.   

Friday, January 22, 2010

Another 100 miles -- Mother Road 100

Well, it didn't take long...
[R]unning ultramarathon distances requires something beyond patience. Patience implies an expectation of something to arrive, pass, or to end. There is a sort of hope in patience, and hope is not what ultramarathoners need, because hope is a false promise you can all too easily betray yourself with, mile after mile. Despite our hope, things happen and keep happening. Ultra runners need what a lizard has as it sits on a rock through sun and rain, what our rosemary bushes have as they cling through burning summers and freezing winters. They need acceptance, and, beyond that, the ability to recognize acceptance as something other than defeat or weakness, to stand on the dark howling brink of the Tao and simply fall into the present, second by second. At mile 71 of a 100 mile race, when your hamstring is failing, the cold rain is turning the narrow ribbon of dirt you can’t really see in front of you into slush, and you’re imagining a hot bath and warm bed a little too vividly, you need to accept it all and simply let it pass through you, over and over, big and wide and free. You need to accept acceptance.
- Ed (aka Bad Budha via Run with Mu)
Well said, my friend.  Well said.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DNS, nah, how about WNS -- Will Not Start

<==== This is the primary reason I have decided to bag Rocky Raccoon.

About six weeks ago, I was running east of downtown Fort Worth when I stepped on the manhole cover pictured on the left. At that time, the manhole cover was not shifted in any way, and appeared for all intents and purposes to be securely over the manhole itself. There were no gaps or openings, and everything seemed to be in working order. That is, of course, until my foot came down on the manhole cover, which suddenly gave way and sent me flying into the street, where I braced my fall with my left palm. As the impact traveled from my palm up my arm, the brunt of the fall jammed into my left elbow, causing the radial head to crack. At the time, I wasn't aware of the break, as I was dealing with two bloody knees, a bloody forearm, and bloody palms imbedded with gravel. Only later that evening, when I discovered that I could not bend my arm, did I realize something was wrong.

Since then, I have not done any upper body weight lifting. While I continued to run, my mileage has decreased, and I've pretty much been in a funk. Yes, I ran Bandera, but it was a long, cold slog that was nearly 45 minutes slower than my previous times. Had Toben not been running his first 50 km and Jballs his first 100 km, I probably wouldn't have been out there.

Now I'm a few weeks out from Rocky Raccoon, where pre-injury I had planned a redemption run after last year's DNF. I'm undertrained, I still can't straighten my elbow, and my left knee has been nagging me since Bandera.

Somebody is trying to tell me something.

And, in quite a departure from my usual response to such omens, I'm going to listen.

Rocky, it's just not in the cards. Hopefully, I'll be back next year.
It's time to heal.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost.  That is where they should be.  Now put foundations under them."
- Henry David Thoreau

Have you ever noticed how every event is the biggest event of your life until the next one?  Think about it.  Your first day of school.  Your first date.  Your sixteenth birthday.  Graduating from high school.  Turning twenty-one.  Your first marathon.  Your first ultramarathon.  Your first 100 mild run.  Your first day on the job.  Your wedding day.  The birth of your child. 

Life is a series of breathtaking experiences.  Enjoy them, friends.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2010 Bandera 50 km

I don't have much of a report from Bandera this year.  It was chilly at the start, but the sun came out and the wind stayed away, which made for great conditions.  I did my 50 km loop at a conservative pace, paying close attention to the terrain to avoid falling and causing further damage to my broken elbow.  Jballs, Toben, and I stayed together for the first 20 miles or so, at which point Jballs pulled away.  Toben and I hooked up with Bill Choppa, a real smoker of a triathlete, and finished in just over seven and a half hours.  We got cleaned up and grabbed some grub, then waited for Jballs to finish his first 100 km, which he did in about sixteen and a half hours.

What's next?  Rocky?  Is that you?  I'm just not sure....

Here are some pics of the trail that Bill took.  Looks fun, huh?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Running Water Frozen in Bandera

The weather lived up to the hype.  Bandera was COLDVery, very cold.  Think I'm just a soft Texan exaggerating about the frigid conditions?  Well, check out a picture of the fountain in the courtyard of our bed-and-breakfast. Yes, the running water is frozen, friends. 12 degrees at the start.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

It's Gonna Be Frigid

The temperature is predicted to hover around degrees in Bandera this Saturday.


Um... suddenly running a 50 km with a cracked elbow seems a lot more foolish.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Thanks to Dave and The Body Firm

Dave Fannin, owner and found of The Body Firm, worked tirelessly with me over the past year to help me finish my first 100 mile race.  In addition to my running, I cross-trained with Dave three days a week.  He customized workouts to supplement the miles and maximize my potential.  With Dave's guidance, I was able to log 30+ mile training runs with minimal soreness, allowing me to stay strong and active as the distances grew.  And it worked.  Thanks, Dave.

p.s. I ran 1,165.52 total miles in 2009.

p.p.s. Dave posted about my Heartland success on his blog.  I am both honored and humbled by his kind words.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Year in Review

Goodbye 2009.  Hello 2010.

Because this blog is (mostly) devoted to my quixotic quests to cover increasingly farther distance under my own power, I'll take a moment to look back on several "firsts" that took place last year.

January 10, 2009 -- Bandera, Texas -- 1st 100 km
"Upon leaving The Lodge, the enormity of running another 31 miles of such ass-pounding terrain began to overwhelm me. We trudged along, but I had definitely hit the first low point of the run. Jballs tried to keep the mood light, and every now then we came atop a hill and took in the beauty of the surrounding. But, again, for the most part--it SUCKED."

February 7, 2009 -- Huntsville, Texas -- 1st 100 mile attempt and 1st DNF
"I stopped around mile 65 and pulled off my shoes to discover an enormous red stain around the middle of the toes on my left foot. We made it to the Dam Road aid station (mile 72.2), where they did their best to tend to the huge blisters that had formed on the balls of both feet, in between two of the toes on my left foot, and on the big toe of my right foot. Nell and I slowly made our way to the Park Road aid station (mile 75.61), but it was a death march. I sat down and again contemplated dropping, but my sister had come to pace me for a bit, and I decided to try to keep moving. I had to walk on my heels to avoid the blisters. It was brutal We made it 2.2 miles down the trail before calling it. At that point, I was averaging more than 30 mins per mile and, assuming I could even keep that pace (doubtful), I wouldn't make it under the 30 hour cutoff. So... DNF at 77 miles."

February 28, 2009 -- Fort Worth, Texas -- 1st time serving as an official 50 km pacer
"Around mile 23, the ultra course split off from the marathon course, and we were on our own for about 5 miles. From mile 23 to 26, the five of us (me, Jason, Jeff, Mike, and Dave) banded together as we fought a killer north wind that did everything it could to knock us over....  We steadily passed runners--marathoners and ultramarathoners--over those last 5 miles. I won't lie; it felt good to be feeling so good while others were clearly suffering."

October 10-11, 2009 -- Cassoday, Kansas -- 1st 100 mile run
"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.... 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."


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