Thursday, December 26, 2013

An Endurance Exhibition: 37 Days of Bling

In an effort to breathe a bit more life into this blog, I'll be posting a picture a day of the various bling (medals and buckles) I have received since I started my journey down the endurance addiction.
Not counting DNFs (and I have several, most of which occurred beyond the marathon mark), I currently have thirty-six marathon or ultramarathon finishes.  Optimistically, I am proclaiming that I will post pictures for thirty-seven consecutive days--boxing myself in for a Bandera finish in a couple weeks.  (And wistfully, I hope to post a thirty-eighth picture sometime after the first weekend in February showcasing a shiny new 100-mile buckle--but that may be a pipedream.)
As I took stock of the badges I have been awarded over the past thirteen years, I realized that a few medals have vanished, lost somewhere at a previous home or apartment or perhaps in the cushions of an abandoned couch. 
The memories of those events, however, remain. 
And it is the memory of the experience, not the shiny trinket, for which we run.
Vaya con Dios, amigos.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013



A quick note about my experience at the inaugrual (and maybe only) Icenado Revenge Marathon last Saturday.  The entire race took place along the Trinity River, mostly atop the levee.

 Drizzle and chilly temperatures greeted the 250 or so runners at the start.  And then the moisture let up, the temperature dropped, and a brutal north wind kicked in.    With 33 degree temps, gusts up to 28 mph, and nothing to break the wind coming off the river, it was awfully cold. 

During the second half of the marathon, I decided not to waste my energy running into the nasty headwind and slowed to a power walk. 

No worries.  It was a slow run, but really a training run and not a race.  I finished in 4:55, right in the middle of the marathon pack.

But hey, I also stopped at mile 26 (with the finish line in sight) to snap a picture with Santa Claus.  Merry Christmas, amigos!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What's in your wallet?

It's December, so it's time to look back on this year's endurance events.  Just cuz.

So, how did 2013 stack up?

I kicked off January with a slow, muddy 50km slog at Bandera.

Next up was my annual DNF (after 60 miles) at Rocky Raccoon  in February.

Also that month, I paced the 50km Cowtown Ultra and ran 2 out of 3 loops at the Waco Toughest N' Texas for a total of 22 miles. 

After Waco, I put long distance running on hold and got out the bike. 

I rode 100km at the Peach Pedal,  41 miles at the Goatneck, and 40 miles at the Blazin' Saddle Ride

As the temperatures dipped, I started running again. 

A few days ago, I knocked out the inaugrual Icenado Revenge marathon. 

Nothing to Earth-shattering, but all in all, not a bad year.

So... what's on tap for 2014...?

Friday, December 13, 2013

Icenado Revenge!

This is the backpack my son has chosen to take to school these days.  I received it earlier this year for finishing my fifth consecutive Cowtown 50km as a pace group leader.  I wonder how many other kids at Lily B. Clayton are rocking a "Cowtown Allstar" backpack?

And speaking of running, yesterday morning I signed up for tomorrow's Icenado Revenge Marathon put on by my friends at FWRunCo.  The winter storm that hit DFW last weekend caused the organizers to cancel the White Rock Marathon, so the boys at the run store decided to stage their own marathon along the Trinity Trails.  Should be a festive jaunt.

Monday, December 02, 2013

I used to blog quite a bit.  Mostly running and rambling tales about my latest attempt to conquer some sort of endurance beast.

But then something happened.
And the time available throughout the day to run (and ramble) diminished dramatically in duration.
Not that I have a decent excuse.  Afterall, running with kids shouldn't be a hinderance.
I also started spending more time pursuing other hobbies.

 But I still think of myself for the most part as a runner, particularly a long distance runner, even though my distances aren't nearly as long as they used to be.
I've got two races coming up in the next few months--Bandera and Rocky Raccoon.  Both are favorites.  I'm registered for 50km at Bandera and 100 miles at RR. 
50km will be fun and doable. 
I am in no way, shape, or form prepared for 100 miles.  And I certainly don't have the time to get there. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Got UP.

Welcome to the world of wearable fitness technology. 
Last week, I snagged an UP wristband from the Apple Store.  I know some folks who use them, and I was very curious about the sleep tracking.  So why not?  
According to Jawbone's website, "UP is a system that takes a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle. The wristband tracks your movement and sleep in the background. The app displays your data, lets you add things like meals and mood, and delivers insights that keep you moving forward.  UP uses a precision motion sensor and powerful algorithms to passively track and quantify your steps, distance, calories, active time, and idle time. It calculates calories burned based on your age, gender, height and weight, along with activity intensity and duration. UP uses Actigraphy to track your sleep, monitoring your micro movements to determine whether you are awake, in light sleep, or in deep sleep."
The wristband is basically a jacked-up pedometer, but when coupled with the UP App on your phone, you get some pretty cool stats.
And the App is gorgeous, intuitive, and a lot of fun.

The Power Nap function is very cool.  You tell UP the maximum amount of time you can nap, and it monitors your sleep so that you wake up during a period of light sleep.  More refreshed, less groggy.

The Idle Alarm is also neat.  You set the duration, and if you haven't moved in then alotted period of time, the wristband vibrates to remind you to get on it.

I realize it can't provide exact, scientific measurements, but I'm enjoying the feedback and seeing trends in how I eat, sleep, and move throughout the day.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

18 miles before work tomorrow might make for a long day at the office.  Unfortunately, I won't be able to cap off the journey with a cold Shiner, as I did following last June's Peach Pedal ride.  Alas.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Success on all fronts.

16 miles knocked back at an overall pace (including walk and restroom breaks) of 10:38 per mile, and a Longhorn victory made for an exhiliratingly optimistic weekend.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Things have picked up the past month.  I've actually knocked back double-digit runs -- the first since March. 

What gives?  I'm not sure.  Perhaps my apathy toward inertia has jumpstarted a desire to get moving again. 

Tomorrow morning, I'll be knocking back 16 miles with Jballs, followed by a nap with my daughter, then a drive with my son to Austin for a boys' weekend and a visit to UT to watch the 'Horns try to salvage what already appears to be dismissal season and a tragic way for Mack Brown to ride off into the sunset.

Setting aside the abyssmal omen circling my alma mater's football team like a swarm of ravenous buzzards, the run tomorrow looks sublime.  A cold front is in the process of blowing through the metroplex, bringing with it the promise of mid-60 degree temperatures by my 5 a.m. start. 

Yes ma'am, I welcome that with open arms.  Welcome back, world.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


The blog has sat dormant for several months, but life continues at breakneck speed.

Nonetheless, I need a new physical challenge.  So much of the past twelve years has been focused on some sort of athletic goal.  Running a marathon; finishing a 50km; riding 100 miles; running 50, then 62, then 100 miles.

So what's next???

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope...."

Monday, April 08, 2013

Pacing the Cowtown - Part Five.

Six weeks ago, I ran my sixth consecutive Cowtown, and paced the 50km for the fifth straight year.  Race conditions were fantastic, and our group settled into a nice 10:30 per mile pace.  Unfortunately, by mile 24 or so, all but one runner had dropped back, unable to keep up.  And around mile 26, my remaining pacee was toast and could not longer stick with me.  (No worries, though, he finished strong, just a little farther back.)

But every cloud has a silver lining, and coming around the final bend, I spotted Ezra James.  He hopped over the fence and joined me as we romped our way to the finish line.  For the past five and a half years, I've looked forward to the time when we would (metaphorically) break the tape together.  Good times.
Good times.

And, hey, how about the nifty medal series?  Not bad. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Final Frontier.

And here it is, amigos.  The anti-climatic video of my last 100 mile attempt (at least, on foot).  New adventures await.

2013 Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Attempt from Ryan Valdez on Vimeo.

Monday, February 04, 2013

The Triple Lindy.

Three loops, 60 miles, and that's all she wrote.  My optimism never waned, but the firmness of my footing certainly did.  As in my previous RR100 attempt, my feet ultimately betrayed me, succumbing to debilitating blisters.
I’ve come to the conclusion that RR is a tough course for me because of the dust.  It gets in my shoes, between my toes, and under the balls of my feet.  I've used Body Glide, Hydropel, Blister Shield--you name it.  I wear gaiters, but nothing keeps the grit out.  Without fail, hot spots inevitably form, typically around mile 30 or so. I’ve had to bail on my two 100 mile attempts at RR because of blisters. 
Last year, my feet held up better than they ever had on the RR course, and I think it is because the rain and mud minimized the dust.  My feet were wet, but blister-free.  I felt good after 50 miles through nasty conditions.
And my one 100 mile finish was on a tougher course during abysmal conditions--rain, 20 degree temperatures, complete exposure to the elements.
In any event, I really do think I am done with 100s.  With two kids, work, and other hobbies (golf, cycling, lifting, etc.), time is a bit too precious to spend hours on end running.  I plan to make 50 miles my longest distance.  It is tough but manageable, I can finish in the daylight, recovery is only about a day or so, and the training is much less intensive.  I finish feeling like I accomplished something, but without being completely wrecked.
Next up is the Cowtown Ultra, followed by the Waco T’nT 50 km.  After that, I am going to pull the bike out of storage and log some miles in the saddle.
Vaya con Dios. 
p.s. I did take some video during the run, which I will be posting some time in the next week.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I write not to sandbag or lodge preemptory excuses, but to simply lay down the facts and bumptiously assert my aspirations for this weekend’s Rocky Raccoon 100 mile endurance run.

Let’s start with training.

I began 2012 in earnest with respectable showings at the 2012 Bandera 50K and Rocky Raccoon 50 mile runs.  Cowtown was a bit rough, but I nonetheless made it through with my sensibilities intact.

I continued the long runs as the summer heat made its forceful leap into the forefront of the forecast.  But sometime mid-summer, my Achilles decided to rebel, as has been exhaustingly documented.

Prolotherapy or the Placebo Effect finally got me back on my feet in October, and I felt good knocking down 26 miles at Ultracentric the following month.

I welcomed 2013 with eight and half hours of wet, sticky sludge with my worst Bandera 50K time yet.  But given the less-than-optimal conditions (in my opinion, at least), I was okay with merely finishing.

So here we are, on the precipice of attempting to run 100 miles for the fourth time in four years. 

My first shot took place in February 2009, when inexperience encouraged me to gut out blisters and chafing issues rather deal with them head on upon their first appearance.  I made it about 77 miles.

Eight months later, I toed the line at the 2009 Heartland 100 in abysmal cold, windy, wet conditions.  Somehow, I managed to finish, albeit in 28 hours and 53 minutes.  I was so wrecked after the race that I had to send my pacer to the finisher’s ceremony to pick up my belt buckle.

In November 2010, I half-heartedly joined Jason for the Mother Road 100, but pulled out early at 41 miles when it became apparent that I just didn’t have the mental fortitude to go the distance.

I took 2011 easy.  I only ran two races – the Cowtown 50K (as a pacer) and the Cactus Rose 50 milerun (where I DNF’d at 30 miles).  I also snuck in a century ride from Austin to Shiner.

2012 was my year to get back to it, but the Achilles injury knocked out ¼ of the year.

The question is: how do I feel going into Saturday’s 100 mile attempt in Huntsville?

Drumroll please…

I feel…

Surprisingly optimistic.

“The hell,” you say.

Indeed.  And I’ll tell you why.

I’ve got nothing to prove.  I’ve run 38 marathons and ultramarathons.  I’ve been to the 100 mile rodeo.  I’ve been bucked to the ground, and I’ve made it the full eight seconds.  Just be smart, tend to hot spots before they become debilitating, and keep moving forward.

All that considered, I’m pretty sure Anton said it best: Running 100 miles is fucking hard.  Period.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Delayed onset muscle soreness.  Yep, I am very familiar with it.  It's been five days, and the quads and feet are still sore from the Bandera beatdown.  This is probably the longest these aches have lingered in quite some time.  Not sure if the cause is the rough race conditions or simply a lack of quality preparation.  In any event, today will be my first visit back to the gym since last Saturday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


A quick google search will reveal numerous reports on the nasty conditions that welcomed runners Saturday morning in Bandera. Warm and humid. Wet and slick. Thick and muddy. Of my six appearances at the State Nature Area, 2013 ranks as the nastiest. The course just wasn't very hospitable--or runnable--at least for an amateur city goat like me.

I toed the line a good half hour after the start, having arrived in what I thought was plenty of time, only to be greeted by a bottleneck of traffic slowly seeping into the Lodge. 1,000 runners plus who knows how many friends and families turned what had previously been a fairly easy arrival into a traffic jam. I suppose it's a by product of the explosion of interest in ultra running and trail events in particular. I'm not one to lament the influx of newbies (I was one of them just 6 years ago), but I would be less than truthful if I didn't admit a longing for the smaller, more tight knit community that existed not so long ago.

The good thing about starting late is avoiding the masses at the beginning of the mostly single track course. I carefully made my way through the morning fog and light rain, enormous chunks of thick, clay-like mud clinging to my shoes. Normally, I can take the downhill portions fairly quickly, letting gravity do the work I as I hop from rock to rock. Not this year. The tops of the hills were more treacherous than usual, coated with slippery slime and mud. I had to concentrate on staying upright and not sliding off the side of the Hill Country. It was a slog fest.

After half way through the 50km, I hooked up with Guy, an ex-marine from New York. We decided to stick it out together for the remainder of the run. More of a hike than a run, actually. We kept the mood light and swapped stories, moving forward slowly but purposefully. Despite the fact that we probably walked half of the next 15 miles, we were never passed by any runners (other than the elite 100km studs). So apparently, many folks had also chosen to forego running for walking, given the miserable conditions.

Officially, I finished in 9 hours and 4 minutes. Because I started the run 30 minutes late, I'm putting my net time at around 8 hours and 34 minutes. That's an hour slower than last year's time. Oh well. With the rough climate--and just getting over a nasty bout of the flu that had me in bed with chills and a fever for three days before the race--I'm okay with merely finishing.

Recovery awaits.

p.s. My kids are cool.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


2012 was a good year for our family. The arrival of our beautiful, sweet daughter; pre-school graduation and the start of kindergarten for our kind and delightfully devious son; trips to Playa del Carmen, Hot Springs Village, Austin, Miami, and New Orleans; an ample helping of live music from our favorite groups; family, football, baseball, and all things five year old boy. Our time together was relaxed, exciting, enjoyable, and hectic--an incomparable way to spend a year.

On the running front, I started off strong with good races at Bandera and Rocky Raccoon. Pacing the Cowtown was slow but appropriately so.

After that, however, things dropped off drastically, replacing running with golf, swimming, and avoiding the excessive Texas heat. When I finally started fraying to put back in some decent mileage, I developed a debilitating case of Achilles tendonitis.

While not a big believer in resolutions, I am a goal-oriented type of person that thrives on challenge, regardless of the severity.  Having races on the calendar keeps me motivated to move.  But with two children, time is a bit more limited than in years past.  Keeping that in mind, here is my (relatively) ambitious race schedule for 2013:

01.12.13 - Bandera 50 km
02.02.13 - Rocky Raccoon 100 mile (subject to cancellation if I get called to trial)
03.16.13 - Tn'T Waco 50 km
04.14.13 - Big D Marathon
06.??.13 - Cow Creek Country Classic Ride (75 or 100 miles)
06.15.13 - Tour d'Italia Ride (63 miles)
07.13.13 - Peach Pedal Ride (100 km)
07.21.13 - El Scorcho (race director)
12.??.13 - Cajun Coyote 100 mile (make up race if RR100 is cancelled due to trial)


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