Day at the Office

Day at the Office
All Terrain Vehicle
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. - Phillppians 3:14

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bandera 100K - 2014

The profile...Run it Twice...

I haven’t run an ultra in two years…it had been all about the bike…and after a sub 5 hour Hotter N Hell  Cycled 100 miles…Amber, my cycling teammate, turns to me and ask, “What’s Next?”  “I don’t know.” I replied.  In truth I had toyed with the idea all summer long to go back to Bandera…for the 100K (62 miles).  A week later I had decided that Bandera it was and started lacing up trail running shoes.  A month later I was up to over a 20 mile long trail run.  I still was in the weight room 5 days a week and one intense leg work out a week. (I had come to love the weight room.)  What I had seemed to have forgotten was the time it takes to train for a long Ultra…nearly all of it alone.  Training was going well, till early November.   On a cold day where I was going to run 25 miles at Northshore trail, I pulled my hamstring…and found myself struggling to determine what would happen with the race..and not being able to run for over 3 weeks.  By mid December I was getting back on track…but the weekly miles just were not there…at least for my liking.  Regardless…I had signed up…I had my crew together….Amber and  Don the Sherpa…and on Friday January 10 we find ourselves headed to South Central Texas….Bandera!

Early on Saturday morning I felt fine…I saw many old friends…made some new ones.  I had told my crew I would dial it way back…painfully slow the first loop. I prayed with my crew and the race was started.

The first loop 31 miles went very well…at mile 17 there were some old friends that had fallen into my pace..Monica, Orlando and Sonia… and for the next 5 miles I told stories and made everyone laugh….all was going well.  At mile 26 I go up Cairns Climb and Boyles Bump….and back into the Lodge to complete the first 31 mile loop.  Despite the warmer afternoon temperatures (73 F), I felt fine…well…as fine as you can feel after 31 miles.  

After the first 31 miles, Amber was going to pace me out the next 11 miles to Chapa Aid Station…I wanted some company and the sun would go down this stretch of the race.  When it was said and done, Amber had paced me 17 miles, most in the dark over the most treacherous rocks and climbs and with the biggest smile and encouragement. 

 We make it to Chapas.  I was shivering and pre-hypothermia...I was kinda in bad shape and the very thought of going another 20 miles was overwhelming.  I told Amber I was done.  She looked at me… and told m e that I wasn’t done yet.  Don the Sherpa got some calories into me.  I changed clothes, put on gloves and hat…Two minutes later we were in the dark with only a headlight on the trail again and hearing the coyotes howling.  

Mile 46 we come into the Crossroads Aid station…again…I tell Amber I am done…she massaged the spasms out of my back…Don worked on my legs…rolling out  the calf muscles…and  two minutes later I am on the trail again…to climb 3 sisters…alone in the dark…and things fall apart…in short…I come into the Aid station at mile 53 barely... nearly crawling.  It had taken nearly 3 hours to go only five miles.  Amber and Don start taking care of me…and then they look in my eyes…see I have nothing left in my body…Amber knows I am done…totally done…she tries…but there was nothing.  I sit there a few minutes…and finally they help carry me to the car.  After 16 hours of being on my feet for 53 miles….I have to say those dreaded words…I DNF…It’s horrible…the 1000 deaths in just 3 letters.  I wake up the next morning thinking I could have…I know it…then when I get out of bed I remember as I can’t walk and stumble and fall…”you can’t walk dude!”

I have now had 2 days…still hobbling…and now my mind goes back to think what I could have done…how could I fix my ITB and left knee to will myself those last 9 miles.  To my wife who encourages along the way even though she doesn't  understand why….I love you.  For friends Lynn Ballard, Paul Tidmore and Kari Kennedy and Jennifer Kimble…you are some really good people in my life.  For Joe and Joyce Prusaitis, the race directors…they are  A CLASS ACT all the way…and so are the events they put on.  For the volunteers that took care of me at the aid stations and fellow runners…the world is a better place with you in it. For Don the Sherpa and Amber…you two have no idea what you did for me…your unselfish acts. 

and for Amy Gould for whom I dedicate the day are a can beat this...your are strong!

 ( pics courtesy of Don Westbrook...aka..."The Sherpa")

Bandera...Where Rocks go to Die!
Chapas Aid Station mile 11...right on time.

First 31 mile Loop...feeling fine

Lodge...mile 31...About to go out for the second loop with Amber the pacer

Chapas Aid Station...mile 42.  I look Angry...I really am not...Amber it telling me she expects from me.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Team Elliott Realistic Christmas Letter 2013

Well Well….here we are again friends…I say friends because if you got one of these…then you are one the friends list…it’s kinda like being on the A list at the Oscar after Party….just saying.  And now I have been asked by the Hott Wife to write this stinking Christmas letter…make that realistic Christmas Letter.

Big time for Team Elliott this year…BIG BIG TIME…and with that I have to start with the lovely Mrs. Elliott…she turned the BIG  40 this year…and so we celebrate…BIG…and I put her on cruise ship with 5 of her wonderful friends…these peeps have been tight since high school…and all turning 40…SO LET’S GO BIG…like fire in the engine room big after being at sea for 2 whole days…that’s right…the lovely Mrs. Elliott was on the Carnival Triumph…adrift at sea for an additional 6 days…with no power, a 10 degree list to the port side…and no toilets, eating onion sandwiches…pooping in red bags….no showers…no power...helicoptering more supplies…like onions for the aforementioned sandwhiches….this all for the girl who considers staying at a Holiday Inn as really roughing it….the girl who ask the front desk before booking a hotel room if the thread count of the sheets is over 500.  But the fun didn’t stop there…oh no…in June the Lovely Mrs. Elliott started having acute pains in the pancreas area…off to the ER to determine that she was suffering from pancreatitis.  Another ER trip about 2 weeks later and a gall bladder removal….and she seems to be a good as new.  Too bad OBAMACARE hadn’t kicked in…because I bet if it had, it would have probably had healed the pancreatitis all by itself. (sarcasm font)  Bren is doing well now…being the most incredible mom and wife...we are thankful for her health and safety.  

Let’s move on to the eldest…Luke…now in the 7th grade…active in Scouts…about become a Star Scout and working on his trail to Eagle.  He still plays the trumpet in the band….and tolerating school with good grades…but he is about to be 13 and I may put him in a barrel with a hole in it…and when he turns 16…cover up the hole.  The surprise for the year comes with Luke…last year he barely knew what a football looked like…and this year he stated that because he couldn’t think of the being in PE, he decided to go out for the football team.  He has never watched a football game little lone play a game.  He suits up….started the season as B Team first string wide receiver and defensive end…his first game had 15 tackles and 6 sacks…and halfway through the season got moved to the A team and started as outside linebacker.  His last game he intercepted a ball and returned it 70 yards for a pick 6!  The team went undefeated in Plano ISD.  He loved it…absolutely loved it…plans on track this spring…and coach indicated that he would be their huddler.

Macy…the old soul…a 30 year old in a 10 year old body…who is now in 5th grade and serves on the student council…a library aid, is a mentor for younger students….and is in the PACE program.   She plays catcher for her softball team and this year was voted by her teammates to be on the All Star Team.  It was an awesome experience.  She is active in Girl Scouts right now…and working toward her Gold Award….I wonder if she is my kid because she is an over achiever BIG TIME.  The highlight of her year…OMGOMGOMG….she went to the Taylor Swift Concert in Cowboy Stadium with her mom and a friend…OMGOMGOMG….I heard it was so AWESOME!!!

Hope…Hope…we all need Hope…Cooking with Gas in the 2nd Grade.  She started playing softball this year…loved it…bats 3rd and usually plays 1st base and pitcher.  Her team won first place this past fall season.  Because of all the cart wheels, round offs, splits and back bends…we have now put her in gymnastics.  She is in Girl Scouts also….and this year we put her in the AWANA program in church.  It’s class for children with HEAVY emphasis on memorizing scripture.   This was her first year…and quickly learned that most of the kids had been already doing this for 2 years….she was behind by 2 books.  That didn’t sit well with her…so she started memorizing like crazy….and before the Christmas break has knocked out the first 2 books and now caught up with everyone else in class.  I wonder where she gets that competitive spirit.  

That brings us to Kyle…age 2…in Mother’s Day Out 2 days a week where the teachers call him “Their Sunshine.”  I know one thing…he can’t talk yet…at least very much…but he keeps us laughing and knows that he is funny.  His brother and sisters adore him…and he can’t stand it when they go off to school….he will go in and out of their rooms looking for them during the week.  He has spent a relative large amount of his life watching a ball game…of a sister and brother…so it is yet to see what kind of sport he gravitates to…number 4 is such a big blessing.

Now there’s me…and every year it’s the same thing….I sound like a broken record….still a straight commission salesman for Timberlake & Dickson…still performs magic….still coach…softball now…still run crazy long…and bicycle even longer…one small change….more time in the weight room and have come to really enjoy that.  

As a family, we went to Pine Cove family camp again this year…the kids absolutely LOVE IT….and so do Mom and Dad…and it’s already been paid for next year too.  Bren and I did take a 5 day trip to Chicago…ventured into Milwaukee one night…saw a Brewers game…then back to Chicago for a Cubs game…sight seeing…and just plain acting like kids again since we didn’t have to be a good example to anyone. 

We want to close again this year…wishing all a Merry Christmas….praying that the Lord blesses you and your family….and that you have a great 2014.

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Two Passions...

These past two weeks have been crazy.  School has started, and all that entails….football and Boy Scouts for Luke, Softball and Girl Scouts for Hope and Macy.  Bren has been recovering from the gall bladder removal in late August…and me…I have been sitting on the couch eating bacon and ice cream.   Ok….maybe not.
 Left to right: Me, Amber, John

 August 24, marked my 4th straight time to ride the Hotter N Hell 100 mile bike ride.  So at 4:00AM that morning you would have found Amber, John and I loaded up and being driven by Don the Sherpa to Wichita Falls.  About 16,000 cyclists descend on the nondescript Texas town…and about 4,500 of those will go the full 100 miles.  The synopsis, we all rode extremely well.  I remember Amber telling me last year after we rode it in 5hr 30min that she wanted to ride it in under 5 hours this year…at which time I looked at her and told her she needed to find a new partner.  Amber saw more potential in me than I saw in myself.  This past year, we trained like on a mission…the leg days in the weight room left me feeling like little Baby Bambi on ice.  We got in and out of some great pelotons…knocking out chunks of miles at 23-26 mph.  In the end…Amber rode it in 4hr 54min (4th in her age group).  I rode it in 5 hr (32 in my age group) and John rode his FIRST century in 5hr 11min…totally EPIC!!!  I have the absolute best teammates…the BEST…and Amber has become that coveted workout partner where communication sometimes is just a look…because we know what the other is thinking.

For recovery, I ran a little 5 mile trail run on Sunday…and then climbed back on the bike 3 more times that week.  Working out with really no purpose for the next couple of weeks…then on to the next endeavor…stay tuned.
Then…the first week of school behind Team Elliott…on to Labor Day weekend…and on to one of the year’s highlights for me, The Texas Association of Magicians convention.
Yes…it’s a passion….and although being a dad, coach, assistance scoutmaster, and husband keep me from performing like I use to…I am perfectly content.  I still practice… I still create magic, write scripts for magic...I still read magic…and yes…I still love magic.  I have been going to this convention since 1997…and 2003 competed and won the “Best in Close up.”
But some things have changed.  I use to go after purchasing and learning the new latest trick…never missing a lecture.  The latest new awesome trick wasn’t the paramount goal this year.  In fact I didn’t see anything that I absolutely had to learn...and perform.
Early Saturday morning I had decided to get in a quick 40 miles on the bike with John, Michael, Desiree and Amber.  I wanted to get back for the 10:30 am lecture on magician, Doug Henning, and had to make a decision to peel off early from the ride.  Amber knew where my heart was and made sure that I would get back in time.  Am I so glad I did!  Chip Romero has a large number of Doug Henning’s illusions and props….and his hour long lecture was a true highlight of the weekend.  Doug was the one who sparked my passion as a boy when he performed for his TV specials.  It was wonderful…and things came full circle.
Doug Henning's illusions including backdrop
That Saturday evening show was my next big event I anxiously awaited. The line up on paper was epic...Tom Mullica as MC…Vegas Headliner, Fielding West,  the “Godfather of Magic” Johnny and Pam Thompson…Rob Zabrecky…the Hollywood Magic Castle Stage Magician of the year for 2011 and 2012.  Rob had a successful career as the front man for the Indie Band “Possum Dixon.”  Only recently has Rob become a name in magic outside the LA scene when he was on the cover of Genii, a magazine for magicians.  I heard he was intriguing, unique and polished. 
The show did not disappoint.  When Rob Zabrecky took the stage, you laughed, you where tense…you relaxed…you couldn’t take your eyes off him…he was dark…he was funny….he was a complete professional performer.  The set was tight…and let us peak into Zabrecky’s world.  He got a standing ovation and I loved it.  After the evening show, Harry Anderson…yes that Harry who  played Harry Stone on “Night Court…said, “Watching Rob was like watching Edgar Allen Poe look for Sudafed.” 
Rob Zabrecky after he received a standing ovation
Sunday was another incredible day.  I met with friends. I watched the professionally close up show.  I got to watch a friend laugh till they cried…and then that evening I went by myself across the street to get something to eat at FREEBIRDS World Famous Burrito.  I had just gotten my order, when Rob Zabrecky got in line.  We acknowledged each other and then he asked if he could join me.  I responded of course…in my mind I said, “ABSOLUTELY YOU CAN JOIN ME…YOU GOT A STANDING OVATION LAST NIGHT…YOU ARE THE STAGE MAGICIAN OF THE YEAR….FOR 2 YEARS IN A ROW!” For an hour we talked about the creative process, about script writing…we talked about our lives and learned that even though we came from vastly different backgrounds, we were a lot alike.  Two guys talking magic…and performing…the angst in the creative process…and how we are never content on where we are in that process.  

There was a wonderful Sunday evening show with all Texas Magicians….and then I retired to the lobby with some old friends.  I have known Mark and Sue Holstein for about 3 years.  Mark is an incredible magician in his own right.  Back when he and Sue lived in Chicago, they had become dear friends with Marshall Brodien and his wife Mary Doyle.  Marshall is an icon in the magic community.  He was a mainstay as Wizzo the Wizard on the WGN-TV's Bozo's Circus from 1968-1994.  He helped create over 200 magic sets and probably had a peripheral impact on the majority of American magicians.  Those four wonderful people asked me to hang out for a bit in the waning hours of a Labor Day Sunday.

I was describing, the other day, these years of my life to a friend as the “Dog Days of my Career.”  Don’t get me wrong.  I love what I do.  But recently these days seem to be a grind at times.  I am too young to retire…and too far along in my career to make an exotic change.  It’s not always extreme excitement “white knuckle ride” and at times like this it can be difficult for me to be content.

Marshall Brodien signing biography my John Morhing
 Those couple of hours with those four people where priceless.  I see the most kind and generous man in the twilight of his career.  I see the grace of a wife and friend who gets her strength from a source greater than herself.  I see a loyal friend and his wonderful wife…unselfish caretakers of others.  I see real magic.  I sit there and think to myself…how blessed I am to get just a few moments with these people.  They are all outstanding in their endeavors…and even more incredible as people…and there I resolved to be content on where I am on the road of life.  Just be content….unless you are racing on a bike…then it’s time to turn up the heat.  Press ON!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Obessive Complusive Disorder...and I wasn't laughing....

Demons…they would swirl around my 7 year old mind…to only exorcise them from me…to live…a normal life…to not have to count….to wash my hands 7 times…because if I didn’t then the germs would attack…and maybe death…not only to me but for the whole family.  Turning the light switch on…off..on…off….onoffonoffonoffonoff…..till the number seemed right….disabilitating …getting dressed was the most awful chore…the numbers, the counting…the redoing something because maybe it just “didn’t seem right” and if I didn’t do…over again….then maybe something bad would someone in my family.

Yes…I suffered from OCD….I had no clue what it was called when I was a kid….I didn’t tell anyone either…. Because they would really think I was crazy.  It really hit me half way through first grade….and I can’t even tell you why…but I know that it started taking me so much longer to finish my work…just coloring a work sheet was an act of being in the throes of hell.
Off and on….for 5 years….it seemed to begin to wane…..till the 6th grade…and then with all its evilness….it  hit…unlocking my combination lock to my locker was a ritual…seven times I must rotate the tumbler…and if I didn’t feel like it was perfect….then start over….I would count….I would not step on a crack…and even if I didn’t ….what if I accidently did….I would have to go back….oh wait…did I lock my lock…I had just pulled on the combination lock seven times….but no…I have to go back…to check…climbing stairs...up and down...updown....updown...till it felt "right."
There have been shows like ‘Monk’ that make it part of the comedy of the show….my life wasn’t a comedy…it wasn’t a joke….then as soon as OCD came on in the first grade…it left the summer before my 7th grade year.  I couldn’t tell you why….was it that I had had enough?…that by works we are not saved?…I don’t know…maybe bio chemical?…I really have no clue.
I don’t struggle now…although nearly every morning I circle back around to check to see if I closed the garage door….but that is about it…maybe this might explain that why I am all in with what I do…..I am  in sales…obsess about it….I want to get in shape…go run an ultra….you want to learn some magic…go compete and win...maybe that’s why?…I don’t have those answers either.
And then today I see this 2 minute video of a guy reciting a poem…about having OCD……..EXACTLY….and until now…I have told no one except my wife what I went through as a kid with OCD…not even my brother…my parents…or my friends.
I now I blogged about it…maybe I need to go wash my hands….seven times…..

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A Small World...or How I became Friends with Childhood Idols

There I stood on the porch…I was 12, maybe 13…and the west Texas horizon goes on forever.   If you gaze long enough across the red dirt and cotton fields; you may actually imagine the curvature of the blue marble where we all live.  The world seemed so big…and yet…our little part so insignificant.  My cousin will say that I always said that I wouldn’t live out “here” when I grow up.  I don’t actually remember saying those words…but I remember feeling so isolated from the rest of the big huge awesome world….and I despised that feeling.  Growing up in West Texas does that to some people…the red dirt seems to sand blasts the feeling of being part of something bigger into the oblivious.  Allow me to clarify with a particular incident….or maybe a couple of them….of how the HUGE WORLD BECAME SO SMALL…and that things sometimes come around full circle….Even for a small town west Texas boy.

I loved magic…sleight of hand…illusions.  I remember watching Doug Henning on TV Specials in the 70’s…or maybe the occasional David Copperfield Specials.  I remember going to the library and scouring for any manuscripts that would allow me on the inside of the art of legerdemain.   I found one little children’s paperback book…and I remember practicing the tricks….some worked great….and others…not so well.  But in the mid 70’s there was no internet…no mass data storage of the magical secrets….I didn’t know any magicians personally….and believe it or not….Levelland Texas was not a hotbed of practitioners of the magical arts.  And so the interest begins to dry up like a draught stricken cotton field…so isolated…if only I lived in a big city…if…
When you live on the outskirts of the universe….Television was a way to at least peer into the looking glass.  “That’s Incredible,” a hour long show aired weekly spotlighting people or events that seemed beyond mortal comprehensions.  I remember vividly at about age 12…the feature on the show was a man…I didn’t remember his name…but he was a card sharp…a cheat….a pasteboard manipulator deemed the best in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD…beyond comprehension…practicing hours a day…and he was legally blind…he could deal perfect poker hands after someone shuffled…he could deal seconds….he could do things I never imagined.  I was amazed…and thinking to myself in my 12 year old mind…to meet someone like that…someone with such skill…maybe he could teach me...”But Hey Dave, you live in Levelland”…so it was only a passing thought. 

That's Incredible Episode with Richard Turner

A couple of years later…at our Sunday evening youth services, we were watching videos that were talking about fraudulent claims of psychics  and the paranormal…it was hosted and written by a magician…I remembered his name…Danny Korem….a world class magicians…showing how people are deceived….and how to keep being deceived. Danny got James  Hydrick to confess that he was a fraud in the telekinetic realm on national TV.  I remember sitting there and thinking how cool it would be to be able to do the sleight of hand Danny was doing.
Fast forward about 8 years…at Texas A&M ,  I found a guy who actually performed magic…and after wearing his poor soul down, I finally convince him to teach me.  Like everything I do…It was all in…obsessive…practicing sometimes 8 and 9 hours a day.  I learned where I could buy books.  I began the journey into the depths of the magical arts.  I began to attend some conventions where other conjurers would gather.  I made friends…became a member of the Dallas Magic Club and Society of American Magicians.   I competed in competitions.  I won the best in close up magic at the 2003 TAOM Conventions.   Along the way, I came to find out that the “Blind Gentleman” that I saw on “That’s Incredible” was Richard Turner.  I attended a lecture of his at Texas Association of Magicians in 1998.  But after witnessing firsthand what Richard could do with a deck of cards, I couldn’t even bring myself to meet him.  I wasn’t worthy.
Somewhere around 2001, my buddy Diamond Jim hosted a  magic lecture.  I couldn’t believe it…it was Danny Korem.   After the lecture we struck up a conversation…we emailed back and forth...and before you knew it…we became friends.  A guy I watched and envied when I was 13…was now a friend.  We would meet and discuss magic…laugh a lot…I would listen to stories…and Danny became a mentor.
Dan Korem and yours truely

About a year later, I get a call from a buddy Mark Jenson.  “Hey Dave, Richard Turner is staying at my house.  We are meeting with some of the guys tonight….why don’t you come over…and see if Danny wants to come over too.”  I call Danny…”Hey Boss, there is a card guy named Richard Turner…He’s blind…and what he does with at deck of cards is off the hook!  See ya at Jenson’s tonight.”
A quick glimpse into the dark dens of the underworld...That Famous Session - left Mark Jenson, in the back left to right Danny Korem, John Kline, Brian...Richard Turner in the white shirt.

That evening I sat to the left of Richard Turner…for about 5 hours…we shuffled…we listened…we watched…we learned…and we sat there in the presence of greatness.  I think there were about 6 of us…and Danny and I were there…mesmerized. 
Richard Turner Dealing Cards
Let me cut to the chase…for some reason I still can’t explain…the world’s greatest card mechanic I saw about 25 years earlier on “That’s Incredible” and I became close friends.  I really don’t know how it all happened.  Since that time, I have been invited into his home in San Antonio….we talk frequently….he trusted me to look at a very very preliminary  manuscript being written about his life.  (it will later be forged into a literary epic by John Racherbaumer to be released.) We will sit together and he will ask me how my second deal is coming along…he will take his fingers and feel how I am gripping the deck…seeing in his mind’s eye what the tactile sensation of his fingers are saying.  It’s like having Louis Armstrong sitting with my son and teaching him how to play the trumpet.  I felt mildly responsible for the introduction between Danny and Richard.   Danny had Richard, I and our wives over for dinner….and there I sat….thinking, “Holy Cow!  If you told me I would be sitting and having dinner with these two guys when I first knew about them in that tiny place called Levelland Texas….I would say you are crazy!”

It took me moving to Dallas where I have lived most of my adult life….to learn that the world is just a little more smaller than I thought when I spent my youth in a tiny corner of that small world.  This week I learned that Luke Korem, Danny’s son, is producing and filming a documentary on Richard’s life…and the providence of a small town boy being on the very peripheral of that ….well…what do I say….I am a blessed guy…

You can learn more about Richard and Danny at their respective websites: