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

Monday, July 14, 2014


I couldn't write it much just watch this...and Press On!

Post by Jöanie Tabasso.

Monday, June 2, 2014

19 Things I learned in 19 Years of Marriage.

1.  His and her walk in closest are much cheaper than marriage counseling.   (same goes for master bathroom vanities.)

2. Going on an annual family vacation has made some of our best memories.

3. Although Bren will never understand my endurance stuff…she supports me in the most incredible way.

4. How my wife can run 4 kid’s crazy schedules and still get all the family stuff done would amaze the CEO of any Fortune 500 company.

5. Me washing the dishes really is foreplay!  

6. IF Bren gets rattled…things have really gone south in a hurry.

7. Having both Bren and I being Fighting Texas Aggies, really has made a great foundation for our marriage.

8. Running an Ultramarathon is a lot like being married…there will be good times and bad…but the good time are always better then the bad.

9. Traveling together with only Bren and I and no kids are some of the most awesome times together.

10. Spending all day Saturday on a sports field will one day be missed and looked back on with affection.

11. Watching my wife comfort one of our children, allows me to catch a glimpse of what God is like.

12. When negotiating a deal…especially buying a car, LET BREN DO THE TALKING!  She is a pit bull.

13. Listen to Bren’s intuition…it is usually dead on!

14. Four kids are the perfect number of children for us…so much laughter, so much joy.

15. Bren has gotten better looking with each passing year…and looks hottest in an outfit encompassing boots.

16. There will be arguments and disagreements…work through them…never never never give up. (ps. It usually takes Bren longer to get over a fight. ..just give her time….go for a run or something.)

17. I read Proverbs 31 over a 100 times before I met Bren…and have come to realize not only does she nearly have all those attributes…she has characteristics I wasn’t looking for but am now so glad she has!

18. One of my greatest joys in life is to get Bren laughing so hard she starts crying.

19. The only thing prettier than Texas is a smile on that blond hair blue eyed Texas Beauty. 

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!