Thursday, June 26, 2008
I can not tell you how I feel for the runners and their disappointment.
This is a difficult race to get to run in and with this cancellation, it puts a new twist in the lottery system for next year. If you do not get drawn from the lottery to run in it for 2 years in a row, you automatically get to run it the 3rd year. Rick Gaston, my "Ultramarathon" mentor was counting on running it next year. It would be his 2nd time to run this brutal race. That now may be up in the air.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I usually start running the trail before 0500 in the morning. The quietness of the morning is a place of comfort and the solitude, a refuge. The wildlife seems to yet wake from the night’s slumber. The only sounds are of my Brooks Cascadia 3 shoes falling rhythmically upon the dirt trail. My breathing is controlled keeping time to the patter of the feet. After a couple of miles into the run, my body feels incredibly alive and my legs completely refreshed. I am thankful for the peacefulness, the ability to run, the wonderful wooded world that surrounds me. I reflect back to the words of King David of Psalms 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
The sun begins to break the horizon and the birds begin to sound revelry. The sunrise is my favorite time of day; a new beginning, the purging of the old, the refreshing start of things to come. The sweat begins to wash away my shortcomings. I will be running 26 miles today, purified through the exertion. God has made the human body an incredible machine. The long run, at this point, does not seem long enough. The Creator has developed my body to run forever. I have been made perfect in his eyes. The euphoria of running in His creation has come to fruition and for the next 3 hours this will only grow stronger.
At some point in the long run there comes a point when determination and perseverance are the primary traits required to finish what I have started. The euphoria has succumbed to pain and suffering. That is the point, right?... to cause one to grow and growth through pain. One does not improve as quickly through comfort and solace. Doubt encroaches the edges of my mind and finishing the distance is now in question. The legs scream for relief and relief only comes by stopping. Stopping is not an option; who is going to come get me? Only three hours before I was feeling unstoppable, infallible. I was perfectly and wonderfully made. Now my body is beginning to show imperfection, I am not that wonderful.
Running clarifies this conflict. God has made me perfect in His eyes. Yet, this perfection is a far cry from my depiction of perfection. In a short four hours I transform from an individual feeling the pleasure of my Maker to one that is questioning my ability, my limitations. Is that not what God has called me to do? In my weakness, realize that my human frailty calls for dependence on my Creator. Thus the paradox: I am strong when I am weak. I AM fearfully and wonderfully made!...and on, I run.
Monday, June 23, 2008
So I came across this guy in California who runs 50 mile races like some run 5K's and 100 mile races like some run 10K's. He finished the Kettle 100 miler in about 21 hours (coming in 3rd place) and this weekend he is pacing for the Western States 100. He ran the entire thing in 2006. The Western States 100 is run in the Sierra Nevadas...you think there are any elevation changes?! Anyway, I digress. I start reading his blog Rick and realized I have more to learn than I can teach myself by September about Ultras. So I emailed him. I learn his name is Rick Gaston and I tell him my situation and ask him to read my latest race report Road of suffering. He must have had pity on me because he emailed me back with lots of information and encouragement. He talked about nutrition, hydration, electrolyte balances, training mileage, heat training, blister care...you get the point.
So this brings me to this past weekend of training runs. I had planned to run the Erwin Park Mountain bike trail again. Let's review. The trail is an 8 mile loop. It is not really that technical but there are a lot of tree roots that can cause a face plant if you don't pick up your feet. There are several ups and downs and maybe about 1 1/2 miles of undulating meadows. I am going to run the loop 3 times and I intended to begin implementing Rick's suggestions of nutrition and fueling by placing supplies at the trail head. I begin the run at 0500 with a headlamp which means I am clearing out the spiderwebs across the wooded trail way. After my first loop, I eat 1/2 a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, a gel pack and reload the two 20 ounce water bottles and head out on loop two.
This is the whole reason for writing this blog entry is to tell this story. About 2 miles into loop 2 I pass a couple of mountain bikers through some of the technical stuff. About 30 minutes later they catch up to me and say they had been trying to catch me the last 20 minutes or so. I tell them to go on ahead as they will be much faster than me. Ten minutes later, I pass them again never to see them again. Upon our second meeting they ask me how far I was running. I mention that this was my second time around and I plan on going 3. The look on their faces was worth the 0400 wake up call. Honestly, I am not that fast and I believe they were just beginning to learn some technical mountain bike techniques. They were nice guys out exercising and learning new stuff. My hats off to them. May they continue to push themselves. (still made me feel pretty good.)
The third time around the loop was a bit more brutal as the Texas sun was rising in the sky and the temperature were edging past 90 degrees. The afternoon temps encroached the century mark as it was a hot and humid day. I chuckled to myself during this last loop reflecting back on Rick's email inquiring, "If I was doing any heat training." I am running in the Texas Summer. If it is only 90 degrees, a cool front has moved in....yeah I'm feeling the heat. Let's hope that this heat training pays off in Virgina in September. In conclusion, I ran 24 miles on the Erwin trail successfully following Rick's suggestions. On Sunday I woke up and hammered out another 8 miles before church.
Good luck to the runners in the Western States 100 this next weekend. Good luck to Rick Gaston and his runner he is to be pacing after mile 80. Keep these guys and gals in your prayers as their suffering will know no bounds.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Well, yesterday I received an email that I was going to get a chance to sign up for the El Scorcho 50K because of some cancellations. That's Good News! I can't wait to run 31 miles all night long. I have done neither as of yet so I am fired up about the challenge and plan to use this as a training run for TNF 50 miler in September.
So here is the plan. Run the El Scorcho in under 6 hours. Drive home to Plano Texas. Take a shower. Go eat a good breakfast....and do this all in time to go to the 9:30 AM church service on Sunday morning. Sounds like a full day...I mean night. Way Cool!
Saturday, June 7, 2008
Monday, June 2, 2008
So let's commence with the race report for "The LOOP - June 1, 2008":
The whole family had made the pilgrimage to Austin Texas and on Saturday had spent an wonderful afternoon at our friends Tim and Tracey's incredible abode in Bee Cave. The kids played in their pool while my wife, her brother Marshall, and myself took it easy.
I finished in 4 hours 29 minutes 39 seconds. Frankly I am a bit disappointed and embarrassed by my time. In retrospect, I am thankful that I finished as about 25% of the field DNF'ed (did not finish). One runner had passed out due to heat and dehydration. Marshall mentioned that the volunteer crew prohibited one runner from continuing because of blurry vision. I had survived my first trail race. Six hours later, on the trip back to Dallas, I reflected on how I enjoyed the challenge, how I loved pushing myself. The volunteer was right. I loved it. I started the think about the next race....maybe the El Scorcho...a 50K (31 mile)....that begins at midnight. Stay Tuned.