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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

We've Come a Long Way Baby!

Look...a place to even put your floppy...it has to be 5 1/2 inches though...

In my Junior year 1987 High School year book, I remember a picture of me, dressed in white cotton pants,a pastel colored shirt, Rayban Wayfarers on the head and topsiders with no socks on the feet....looking like I had just got off the set of Miami Vice. For some reason the picture was taken with me being in the schools computer lab...you know the days of DOS. For those under 30...we didn't have Windows or graphical user interfaces...no joke...this was right after Moses came off of Mt. Sinai with the Ten Commandments and Al Gore invented the Internet.;-) In fact the Internet was only amongst the University and Government Realms...and no...not everyone had a computer...in fact...most people didn't! Fortunately, I never knew the punch card days...that was right before the 10 plagues of Egypt...and some claim that the punch card was the 11 plague. But I digress...there I am sitting at a computer and next to the photo is a quote by yours truly. It says something to the effect that everyone needs to develop some proficient computer skills as they are in the future. Unfortunately, I didn't put my money where my mouth was and invest in Microsoft, Apple or Google....if I had...this blog would have been written on the Riviera.;-)

Twenty-two years later, I sit pounding away at a keyboard. Back then I could not fathom what was to come in the world of 1's and 0's....how computers have become a necessity, not a luxury. Two weeks ago our desktop crashed and for about 5 days you would have thought the apocalypse was nigh...and it was not just me and the wife...but all of my kids...including the 3 year old.

I'm not telling you anything you already don't know.

About two year ago I started blogging, mainly to document my training and running adventures...it has morphed into me talking about anything I want to and giving a glimpse into who I am and how Team ELLIOTT rolls.

A couple of years ago when I lost all my marbles and encroached in the Ultra marathon World, I needed direction...(keep your snide comments to yourself...your probably right...I still need direction, or at least adult supervision.) I had more questions than I had answers...form everything training to everything nutrition. So what do I do...go to the Internet. To cut to the chase, I began reading some Ultra guys' blogs...and then had the audacity to email one of them asking questions. He emailed me back with paragraphs on top of paragraphs...answering all the questions in minute detail. Thus began my correspondence to Rick Gaston. At one point we exchanged phone numbers. His comment was "Dave call if you need more help." I have made a lot of Ultra marathon friends here in Dallas...but Rick is the only one to be there from the very beginning. (BTW...Rick can flat out RUN!...finishing a 100 miler in less than 20 hours and a 50 miler in less than 8 hours.)

My blogging and correspondence with Rick happened concurrently...and as you know...blogs are like crack...you can't just stop at one. Through Rick, I got to Donald's Blog. Donald is actually a professional writer...and he, like me, will blog about running, U2 concerts, the kid's latest outing...the Charlie Brown Christmas special...anything. Donald is an Ironman triatlete and finished the Western States 100 miler this past year and even having a really bad day....nearly ran it in less than 24 hours. We have agreed that we may be brothers from different mothers...except he can run fast. Actually most of our correspondence is about music...and can you really separate Sting from The Police....he claims you have to. I don't know if you can.

So from Rick's blog I got to Marcy's Blog...and from Marcy's, who no longer blogs, I go the Missy's Blog...Ironman finisher and a triathlete with some serious skilz...like bringing home hardware for her age group skilz...and a wicked sense of humor. She is always the encourager....I think at one point, Missy gives me a shout out on her blog...and Shannon comments on my blog..and now ...well add her blog to the list.

Shannon is a professional trainer, cyclist, and triathlete....tough as nails...rides centuries just to warm up....and her sense of humor...well...FUNNY...like ha ha Funny! She encourages every step of the way. Shannon marches to a different drummer and we both agree that we both have the same drummer...a true kindred spirit...a Twin (mother probably was a gypsy).

I say all that to say this...because of the Internet....I got 4 friends that I otherwise would have never had...2 of them are on the West Coast...and 2 of them on the East Coast...kinda. I have never talked to any of them except Rick. He called after I pissed myoglobin during a 50K Texas July Training Run...early in my training...and I emailed him a bit freaked out...ok, REALLY FREAKED OUT!...we now talk occasionally, usually to encourage and find out what is on the racing docket. Oh, I have developed some really good friends locally in the Dallas Ultra community too...but it's nice to have these four around as well.

I follow other blogs...in fact enough to make it difficult to keep up...so at the end of 2009, 22 years after I made a quote that this computer stuff is going to catch on....little did I know how embedded it would become in my life...bringing me into contact with 4 really great people who I admire and whose opinions I respect...kindred spirits...except they are far better athletes than me.

Happy New Year...and on to 2010...may all your runs be swift, your rides be fast, and your races be epic....and if you do that swim thing...well, God Bless Ya.

Next up..what is on the race schedule...time to get serious.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Favorite Christmas Song

Warning: Graphic scenes from "Passion of the Christ"

Friday, December 18, 2009

Let the Good Times Roll


First on the training front....we got a good race on the calendar and we'll get to that in due time....probably around the New Year. I've started pulling together a training plan for this somewhat unique event. When I tell my close buddies this, I get that look like I have lost my last marble....and when I contemplate what it will entail....I may have. With that said, I have not been this amped up for event in some time...and now on to the matter at hand...and there will be class participation at the end boys and girls. ;-)

Watching my kids has caused me to recall my childhood memories. Most of them are fond, but I recall that on at least 2 occasions, during my childhood, that I found myself in the Emergency Room on Christmas eve. Asthma attacks so sever that getting oxygen to my 7 year old body seemed far more important than the gifts under the tree. Doctors working feverishly attempting to dilate bronchial tubes. Despite the these grave times...there were good Christmas times too.

Three years ago, my parents had decided to come to Plano Texas to celebrate Christmas with us. I had commissioned my brother-in-law to have him and my mother-in-law at our house by 6:30 P.M. on Christmas Eve. My mother-in-law would be late to her own funeral and I knew that Marshall's West Point fastidious nature would ensure they were promptly on time. Brenda had fixed some h'or dourves of crab cakes and cranberry salsa. Both Christmas music and the scent of an evergreen candle filled the home. I could hear the rain gentle hitting the cold window pane. The family anticipated something special to happen, but I had kept it top secret of the impended event. Promptly at 7:00, a stretch limousine pulled up to the front of our house. I had arranged for the limousine to take us around the Dallas Area looking at Christmas lights. My parents where astonished, the kids busted out the door in excitement. We arranged the 3 car seats in the limo, piled in and for 2 hours gallivanted around town taking in all the incredible Christmas decorations. My three kids, we're wide eyed with excitement and the impended Santa Clause arrival, momentarily, took a back seat. The grandparents were acting as though they were kids, looking at the lights and laughter filled the car. Me, well, I just took it all in. My joy came from watching the family...loving every minute of it. Renting that limo is the best thing I did that Christmas. The kids still talk about that night in vivid detail, but have real difficulty in saying what the got under the tree. The other day my mom mentioned that the "evening you rented the limo" was one of her best Christmas memories. My mother-in-law said the same thing.

Although spending Christmas eve struggling to breath may not be the best Christmas memory, it makes an evening with my extended family in a Limousine seem oh so much sweeter. Isn't that life? The valleys make the hill tops higher.

Now for class participation: Let me here about your favorite Christmas memory!

Monday, December 14, 2009

A Realistic Christmas Letter

You ever get that Christmas letter from the family that makes it sound like it's just TOO perfect of a year. Well, I don't roll that way and I was asked to write this thing. Had a friend read it and a soft drink shot out their nose from laughing. It's funny...I guess...but most important it's how DaveE and Team Elliott roll. Enjoy!






Alright…It’s that time of year where you are getting a barrage of Christmas Cards and Letters. Usually the typical Christmas letter will go into how great everything is and that the kids are all geniuses, the wife is a kept women with a busy social calendar and the Husband has gotten two promotions and a new Bass Boat…(which tells me he is a jerk on one end of a line waiting on a jerk of the other end and he’s really good kissing someone’s backside.) Do you really expect for us to believe that life is only a bed of roses with no thorns….REALLY? This is no such letter! First of all…the wife ain’t writing this letter….I am…DAVE!...so there….I may get brownie points by taking one more thing off of my sweet wife’s to do list. …and you, well, you get a realistic look at TEAM ELLIOTT! NO sugar coating here…ok a little maybe.

We still got 3 kids…we ain’t killed a one of’em. In fact, we still love’em all.

Luke is about to turn 9 in January and he cracks me up on a daily basis’s. He is really active in Cub Scouts…in fact he loves it. He also really enjoys playing baseball….mainly the catcher position, and basketball. What he really latched onto this year is the Triathlon. He completed his first one this September coming in 4th for his age group. The guy ran a 3 min. 36 sec. ½ mile to finish it up….heck, his old man can’t run that fast. As far as school…doing well but likes to talk a lot in class…his Grandma reminded him that her son did too. I refuse to confirm or deny that fact. (5th amendment for you conservatives that still believe in the Constitution…unlike our current U.S. Regime.)

Macy…well, she will turn 7 in January. Her mind is devious…really…she’s a planner. She loves art, she takes dance and is in Girl Scouts…. and really enjoys that. A real overachiever…who got mad when she wasn’t in the high reading group….took her a month to get moved to that coveted group…she is currently working on War and Peace. (ok that last part was a lie.) She helps keep her brother on track…he needs all the help he can get when it comes to keeping up with his stuff…you ought to see his room. Found the neighbors dog under his bed…it had been missing for a month and half. She is a great daughter who likes to go camping…doesn’t get that from her Mom I tell ya.

That brings us to Hope…age 3….who is the only one in the family who doesn’t celebrate her birthday in January. Oh Hope, a true cut up and ham. She still can’t talk well but understands everything you say. The speech therapist claims that if her mom wouldn’t have played football during her pregnancy, she would probably be able to talk. Of course the gene pool on the Dad’s side left a bit to be desired too….and I can’t even claim she’s adopted. cause she ain’t. Come to find out…actual cause of delayed speech are all those ear infections early in life. She’s learning to dance too. For those keeping score, 2 dancers and a triathlete. Her brother and sister adore her…and because she met the size limit requirements…her mom and dad aren’t throwing her back either. ( that’s for the guy with the new bass boat.)

Ok, This brings us to the bride and groom. Brenda keeps everything going…sometimes its smooth sailing and sometimes well….we got three active kids…what do you think. Besides juggling all their schedules and homework, she is still active in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), is the Girl Scout Cookie Mom, and just got nominated to the Cub Scout Pack Treasurer. She does the work of three men…and frankly…I don’t know how….oh, she still works out 4 to 5 times a week…and probably could whip ya….but she wouldn’t because she’s too sweet.

Me…do you really care. Still work for the same company that I have for the past 8 years…selling commercial air conditioning in Texas (it ain’t that hard.). Economy has affected our business a little, but we’re still blessed. I ran a lot….ok…a whole lot….4 Ultra Marathons (two 50 mile races and two 50K races) I try to control this three ring circus…and usually love it ….most of the time….I still do magic…active in Cub Scouts….still love Texas….and really do you care about all this?

To the Highlight: In September, we surprised our kids, pulled them out of school, and took them to Disney World. Yep, we’re shooting to be awarded “parents of the year” for that little move. Seven days on property and I have to say that that place is truly magical. We closed the parks down every night…rode everything we could…and because of the off season didn’t have to deal with over crowdedness or a European with body odor. We ate breakfast with the princesses in the Castle, and had brunch with Chef Mickey. The kids loved it…both old and young. I came back to work to get some rest.

FOR THE IMPORTANT STUFF: If you got this letter we like you…if you didn’t and should have…well we like you too. We pray blessings on you this Christmas Season. For the whole, Life is Good… sometimes there are bad times…but mostly good. I am learning that the sticky fingers on the door knobs won’t matter in Heaven….but what I say to my kids may….that a really clean house is overrated….or for that matter Luke’s room….and that all that other stuff written above…well, it’s trivial compared to our relationships with Christ Jesus…and our relationships with the ones we love. So if you skipped down just to read this last paragraph…well, I don’t blame you…and really you got to the stuff that really matters. Have a great Christmas.!

from the family who took their Church Directory picture wearing Texas Aggie football jerseys.

Dave …and by proxy… Brenda, Luke, Macy, and Hope!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Let me off the Merry-Go-Round


Just Breath Dave...slow down....inhale deeply....exhale....

Last night was the Cub Scout leaders meeting...this morning I had to be at the school at 0730 to get Luke's cognitive test scores and to learn what we knew, Luke is a bright kid but not a genius...hurry to work because 3 bids have to get out before lunch.....get Macy to her church program tonight....Bren has a Girl Scout Cookie organization meeting tomorrow night....Friday night we all have a Polar Express Party....Saturday the Cub Scouts will sing at an assisted living home....and sometime in there I have to hang the 8 wreaths on all the front windows and put up the 10 miniature trees lining the walkway up to our front door....that just gets me to Saturday....and Christmas is still 2 weeks out.

Do you feel that way? I did not mention the 3 Christmas parties and all the other festivities... Sandwich the Christmas shopping in there and you got a full plate. And so I run on.

The Annual Dallas Thanksgiving 3mile/8mile Turkey Trot has grown to nearly 40 thousand runners. So when I showed up to the local running store to register, I was secretly thankful that they had closed the registrations. Not only did they save me 25 bucks...but saved me the bitter endeavor to fight the mayhem of Mothers pushing strollers and runners with dogs as I attempted to meander down the streets of Dallas on a brisk Thanksgiving run.

I took to the trails that morning. I had planned to run 6 miles...and went 10. The solitude, me and my Maker....giving thanks....rejoicing....and no one to talk to....It was calm....and peaceful...

This week has caused me to reflect...I will squeeze in a run this weekend....I will be by myself....and I will rejoice, reflect and remember the reason for this season's Celebration. "For unto you a Savior is Born....." therefore I run on!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gushing Water and Non Judicial Punishment

Steely Eyed Mortar Man - March 1991

The past few weeks have been a blast. I have gotten up on Saturday morning, brewed a cup of coffee, cracked open the book, Lonesome Dove, enjoyed time with my kids. Running has taken a back seat, although I still completed an 8 mile trail run the past mid morning Saturday. With that, I just don't have a plethora of info in the training/racing front.

Recently, I have caught up to someone I graduated high school with via Facebook. She is freelance writer and occasionally blogs about stories and growing up in west Texas. I am stealing a page from her book and will now from time to time, write about happenings in my past. I hope you enjoy them. So let us commence to a tale of the past. It is humorous now, but at the time...not so much!

When I originally signed up to be in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, the limited billets open consisted of being a driver for the misguided children under Uncle Sam's direction. Therefore, after Boot Camp I attended "tactical driving school" learning how to support troops in combat environments. When I enrolled at Texas A&M, I would transfer to a Marine Reserve unit in Austin Texas. The catch; it was not a transfer to a Motor Transport unit, fitting my military occupation speciality, but an infantry unit....more specifically an Infantry Company. Suited me fine as I really didn't want to be couped up in a vehicle all day, even if it was a HUMV. The down side is that the main mode of transportation for a infantry guy is the high end black Cadillacs issued and worn on the feet of the Marine.

So here I was, assigned to second platoon, Bravo Company as a basic riflemen. Even though I had graduated high in my driving class and was meritoriously promoted to Lance Corporal, these skills would never be seen while shooting. Didn't bother me a bit....in fact I dug it....Until...some admin guy made note that I had a military licence to drive darn near anything the Corps had to offer. A couple of months later, I find my-freaking-self right back behind the wheel of a HUMV driving around either the company commander Captain Tye, or the much less important (but not in his mind) Gunny Reyes. Gunny was the company Gunny and wound bout as tight as a banjo string. For nearly 2 years, I drove...supported the the company with water and food....survived on little sleep and learned to talk to the Officers on the officer level and the gunny on a kindergarten level....it worked out.

On January 14, 1991, I had receive a phone call from the platoon sergeant. "Saddle up Dave, President Bush has scheduled a war to start tomorrow and our unit has been activated." A week later 1st Battalion, 23rd Marines found themselves at Camp Pendleton California preparing themselves for combat situations occurring in an over sized sandbox halfway around the world.

The training exercises continued and at one point, the company was to complete a 25 mile night hump. For you civilian types a "night hump" is not a title of a porno movie but a long hike to take place under the cover of darkness. I would be supporting the troops and would be driving all night. After contemplating the schedule and the available fuel left in the tank, I deemed it necessary to refuel in the motor pool. Now is good time to clarify a few things. A week prior, the Regimental commander had issued a memo that ALL UNATTENDED VEHICLES would have chock blocks placed under the back driver side wheel. It should also be noted that the military HUMV has a hand break that is manually loosened and tightened. This hand break is the only mechanical device to keep the vehicle stationary while the HUMMER is parked.

I had documented the stop in my trip ticket, thrown the notebook over on to the console area between the driver and passenger seats and went into motor pool office to talk to the dispatcher about refueling. We joked around a bit and he was filling out paperwork while we both heard a loud bang and then a very loud "gushing sound." We all ran out of the motor pool office only to find the vehicle I was driving had rolled down the hill about 75 feet and hit the only fire hydrant within 50 miles. The hydrant was broken off and the water was literally gushing, giving the HUMV under carriage a really good cleaning.....OH CRAP....or something like that.

What had happened is that the trip ticket book at hit the parking break, loosened it....and since I had not followed a direct order of Chocking the back wheel, my little humv rolled down like it was aimed right at the bulls eye....at the peak of a Southern California drought.

Needless to say the Regimental commander, Colonel SO-and-So...(I never knew his name...probably should have learned it) wanted the case to go to Regiment. Because I had been a "squared away" Marine with meritorious promotions and accommodations, Capt. Tye wanted it to stay at the company level. The compromise? Let Battalion handle it.

Major So-and-so....I don't remember his name either....wanted to make an example out of me. They took it as a Non Judicial Punishment case....no lawyers involved. Major So-and-so yelled at me awhile, Capt. Tye and 1st Sgt. Calloway spoke on my behalf...then Major so-and-so took a months pay, restricted me to base for 45 days and suspended any promotions for 6 months. That was the worst part as I was 2 weeks out from being promoted to Corporal - non commissioned officer. He then ripped up the military drivers license in front of me telling me it would be a cold day in hell before I drive in his unit again. I responded that I had wanted to do that about 2 years ago. He didn't think that was funny, but Captain and 1st Sgt. did. I would run through hell in a gasoline suit for those two guys.

After all that was over, Captain Tye said, "it's done...you're a hell of Marine....but you can't drive...and you don't want to be riflemen do you?" 1st Sgt and I had worked out that I wanted to be in the mortar section. I had taken a liken to those guys and I really wanted go there. 1st Sgt. speaks up and says, "Captain what bout mortars....I think he'll fit in there?" DONE...and for the next three years, I served as a 60 MM mortar man. They took me in with open arms and for my duration...made some of the best friends a guy could have. Oh, there are stories to tell there but that is for another day. Bravo Company Mortar team called themselves the TATANKA tribe...the Indian name for Buffalo..(another story for another time) and each member had an Indian name....given by the team....you don't have much choice...it's given.

My Name...GUSHING WATER...go figure.

After my Company Commander, Captain Tye read this, he decided to document his point of view.   This documentation is as follows:

 
I remember well when this happened. 1stSgt Callaway walks into my hooch and goes, “Sir, we got a problem.”

“Yeah, 1stSgt?”

“Elliott ran over one of those water things.”

I’m thinking, “WTF? Water things? A fire hose? A water buffalo? The Pacific Ocean?” The possibilities are almost endless at Camp Pendleton, even in the middle of the worst drought in 20 years. “What kind of a water thing, 1st Sgt? Something in the motor pool?”

“No, sir. He didn’t chock his vehicle. It ran down the hill and hit a fire hydrant.”

I go ballistic for about two minutes. A fire hydrant?? Callaway keeps trying to say something, but he can’t get a word in edgewise. For a couple of days now, he’s been on me to transfer you to the mortar section. He’s about got me convinced, but I want another driver before I lose you. We’re negotiating the final terms, and all we needed were a couple of more days for a replacement driver. You’d already been driving for far too long, and it was time to move you over where you could be a grunt, and get some NCO leadership skills exercised. This is probably going to F- that up big time, and after all of the time that you’ve been driving, with a spotless driving record. Well, spotless as far as I knew, and no one else was going to say anything about it.

After Callaway peels me off of the ceiling, he reminds me about Regiment’s recent edict about chocking vehicles. I’m back on the ceiling again for another couple of minutes. I wasn’t a big fan of Regt in those days for a couple of reasons.

Callaway lets me run out of gas, and we sat there for a minute. I said that we’ll just handle it ourselves at Company NJP.

Callaway says, “Well, sir, let’s do it. I’ll go sell it to the Battalion Sergeant Major, and you talk to the Battalion Commander. We’ll cut the deal and handle it at our level.” We look at each other and nod.

Then he says, “But damn, sir. You shoulda seen it. It looked like a mini Old F’ing Faithful or something.” Which cracks us both up pretty good. We’re laughing our asses off about it. It’s really not funny, but the only thing that got damaged was a fire hydrant. Hell, we’ve blown up a lot worse than that. We figure we can dodge this bullet, so…

Callaway talks to the Bn SgtMaj. SgtMaj says, “No.” Callaway goes into his best sales job mode, “he’s a good Marine,” etc. “No.” Then Callaway gets pissed off about the whole situation, makes it really clear to the SgtMaj what he thinks about things. SgtMaj says good luck, but it’s not gonna happen. Regt really has a hard on with this one, especially since there have already been a number of accidents. Plus the Regt Cdr just issued his edict about chocking wheels a couple of days before the accident or something.

Callaway hunts me down as I’m on my way to find the Bn Cdr, gives me the scoop with what happened with the SgtMaj. I’m mildly irritated, but Tom Peeler’s the Bn Cdr, and there’s a lot of history between the two of us. I figure he won’t like it, but he’ll kick it over to me anyway, and then he’ll fade the heat from Regt for not referring it upstairs.

I go to find Peeler. He’s out. Gone. Emergency leave or something for a week or so; I can’t remember now, just that he wasn’t available. But I know the Major who’s Acting Bn Cdr pretty well, too, so I figure we can still work it out. I start talking to him, and he won’t budge on it. He’s referring it to Regt, per Regt’s direction. And he won’t let it wait until Peeler comes back, because Regt wants it up to them immediately; the Regt Cdr wants it handled at the Regimental level.

The Major-Who-Shall-Remain-UnNamed starts explaining “the situation” to me. I start explaining it back to him. I tell him that you’re a Marine that I’d take into combat with me any day, and I’ll hammer the crap out of you at Company NJP. I tell him I’ll also chew out the 1stSgt, the Company Gunny, your Platoon Commander, Squad Leader, Fireteam Leader and everybody else within two degrees of separation of your chain of command. Everybody will be happy that this good Marine got his ass handed to him at NJP because of one minor f-ing accident in years of safe driving.

I don’t tell him that Callaway and I have already decided that I’d give you a 6-month suspension, and if you didn’t have any more vehicle accidents within that time, that everything would go away. Clean record. And the day after NJP, your butt would be in the mortar section, humping a mortar baseplate. We could make that look like part of the punishment. You wouldn’t be driving anymore, so you sure as hell wouldn’t have any more accidents with a military vehicle. A clean-record, no-driving, mortar man.

I said that I thought the Regt Cdr was off on some boondoggle somewhere anyway, and what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him. The Major is adamant about it. I engaged my call sign, Frag. As in, it takes six seconds for a grenade fuse to go off, and that’s about how long you’ve got to get something unscrewed before I go off. He let me go off.

A few minutes later, the Major-Who-Shall-Remain-UnNamed said something like, “Captains don’t usually talk to Majors like that, and you shouldn’t speak so loudly like that about Regiment. You never know who might come walking by. How about if I handle it, and we’ll take it middle of the road? He won’t get off easy, but it won’t be as bad as it could be. Regt will have to be satisfied with what they get.” The Major really was a pretty good guy, too, so he took some heat for not kicking it to Regt.

Anyway, you got moderately hammered, and Callaway and I had a drink about it afterwards. You ended up in mortars anyway, and you seem to have recovered pretty well from the experience.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lucky to be an American!

In this time of gratitude, I think God for making me a US Marine, A Fightn' Texas Aggie, A Native Texan...and most of all, an American. Baxter Black says it best. God bless Texas and God bless the U.S.A. nuff said.



video

Monday, November 9, 2009

These are the Times that Try Men's Souls...

August 1988 - Marine Corps Recruit Depot (aka Boot Camp) San Diego CA

In a dimly lit corner of Tun Tavern, on November 10, 1775, Uncle Sam recruited it first misguide child...and thus was born your beloved United States Marine Corps. A day later this great country will celebrate and remember the veterans of the Armed Services who fight the tireless fight of keeping the Wolf of the Door Step for over 233 years. Men far greater than I, who fought for freedom and liberty. Men like my Great Uncle Roy Andrews, who served in WWI and at age 45 reenlisted to fight in the South Pacific in WWII. (He lied about his age when he jump onto a Naval Ship.) By the way, both his sons went off to war as well, leaving Aunt Gladis to rely on the Lord Almighty for her entire family's protection.

The enemy has changed and evolved, from the British, to each other in the War between the states, to Nazis and Japanese, Communist Soviet Union, to the militant Jihadist.

Oh how the past week we were reminded that Jihad is ever present as an actual Army Major, sworn to protect U.S. Citizens from enemies both foreign and domestic, opened fire in Fort Hood killing 13 of America's finest.

Add political correctness to that enemy lists.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan openly became an Islamic extremist, attempting to contact Al Qaeda, and posted on websites voicing his praise to suicide bombers comparing them to Marines falling on grenades protecting their own. The Army admitted that the Scum was under investigation for months and communicated 10 to 20 times with a radical imam overseas who in the past came under scrutiny for possible links to terror groups. They say the communications began last year and continued into this year between Hasan and the imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, and that U.S. officials had been aware of them since last year. Anwar al-Awlaki hearled Hasas as a hero for such actions.

Why was he not gone?! WHY? Was it because the Army Brass was more afraid of ruffling feathers and political correctness by singling out an Army officer of the Muslim faith. Was the lack of reaction because the fear of "profiling"...because of political correctness. Have we reached such depths that we are more concerned with our careers rather that doing the right thing. What do you say to the families of the 13 deceased? My heart is heavy.

On Wednesday, we will remember those fallen soldiers. The emotions are still too raw not to.



This past weekend, about 20 minutes from my house, was a Civil War reenactment. I took my Cub Scout Den of 8 year old boys to witness history. The boys loved it, hearing the cannons going off, seeing the soldiers muster in formation, seeing the Cavalry gallop across the battlefield. For an hour the battle raged on as the troops continued to fight. The gun smoke hung around the ground, emanating an eerie feeling of death and anguish. Yes, the Civil War was a dark period of U.S. History...much like last week. As they closed the battle with the bugler playing TAPS, my mind turned to those soldiers that wore the blue and the gray uniforms. Whose service they gave as well. It is hard to imagine brother against brother and yet this country still remains.

I love this country....THANK YOU US Serviceman...for these are the times that try men's souls.









Wednesday, November 4, 2009

R&R and Celebrating

I once again have succumbed to delinquency in posting on this thing. Really are you interested in what has be going on in Team Elliott's lives...well if you are, God Bless Ya.

Two and half weeks ago the Palo Duro 50 miler was completed...and for those past two and half weeks I have run a total of 20 miles. Ok...I went to spin class twice too. I really didn't realize how much was taken out of the body...but I am slowly coming back, being rejuvenated. This past Saturday morning, I was up at about 0630....I had a cup of coffee, I read a bit...and when my kids got up, we hung out. I honestly don't know when was the last Saturday I did that. Now, don't think I totally mailed it in. Later that morning I did run 3 miles and then go to an hour long spin class.

A week and half ago the weekend consisted of going on the Y Princess camp out with my 6 year old daughter, Macy. I didn't have sisters and so sometimes it is a challenge for me to really relate to my girls. I try...and I am getting better. Camping with them helps this. Macy is my contemplative and somewhat shy girl. But in the past few months my wife and I have noticed that she is opening up and becoming much more social. Weekends like this is what I live for. She shines when we talk about the weekend...the marshmallow stickiness left behind on the fingertips after savoring a smore, the giggling with the other girls trying to tell ghost stories, hearing the ping of the BB hitting the can after a careful aimed shot...and even the slight embarrassment after falling of the pier into a frigid lake. There is no disappointment in not catching fish because we are outdoors with friends. Nope, running is not on the forefront. I am celebrating my daughter's achievements.

Macy

"Dad are we going to catch anything?"


Toweling off after falling in Lake

This past weekend was the Cactus Rose 50 mile/100 mile Ultramarathon trial race in Bandera Texas. Originally I was suppose to pace Dmitry but those plans had to be amended. He had dropped at the 55 mile marker last year. Oh do I know the feeling of unfinished business left on some godforsaken trail where pain and anguish is not unfamiliar. I woke up in the middle of Saturday night and said a quick prayer for all the runners but for Dmitry in particular. He would be in the lonely darkness where real demons would haunt on that Halloween night. After 31 hours of relentless forward motion, Dmity slayed those demons when Joe Prusaitis handed him his finisher's buckle.

My friend Fred Thompson would be attempting his first 100 mile finish. Some really seasoned ultrarunners described his efforts as heroic and were emotional watching Fred cross the finish line 36 hours and 22 minutes after commencing. His pacer at mile 90 was "scared" because of the poor condition Fred was in at the time. I have yet to discuss with Fred how dark the world got that Halloween night. But I have talked with friends that were there. Fred may only want to embrace those cold dark corners of his mind when time has placed a chasm between that night and a bright Spring morning. Back spasms made forward movement most painful and at times impossible. Ascending up Lucky Hill was more that what the mind and body could ask for. Falling, getting up...and falling again, but never staying down. Fred triumphed greatly. Some even wept at his victory.


Fred early in the day

Mile 85 - The looks on Char's and David's face do not show the deep concern they have at this point.

Barely moving as the Back Spasms take hold...such things happen when your on your feet for 36 hours.

Fred's is DONE!...and being aided by his wife Char.

Fred showing his Finisher's buckle...with his Pacer, Annie who spent 15 hours with Fred....and you thought you wanted to Pace ;-)

Oh I am proud of my accomplishments. I celebrate them. But these last two weeks it has been equally sweet to celebrate the great achievements of others. Hitting the empty can with a BB gun, destroying the demons that haunts the runner of past failures on a lonely Texas trail, or the great triumphs of a first 100 mile attempt that inspires my soul. Life has been grand these last two weeks...and running is looking good again too.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

REDEMPTION AT THE 50 MILE MARKER

Finishing loop 2 - Mile 25

"Oh Sinnerman, where you goin' to run to... sinnerman where you goin' to run to... where you going to run to, all on that day?"

Last year, after The North Face Endurance Challenge - Virgina was canceled, I signed up to run the Palo Duro Trail Race 50 mile. It was to be my first 50 mile attempt...it was also my first DNF (did not finish). At about the 50K mark, I cashed in my chips due to an IT Band problem that had me hobbling for a couple weeks. Since that time I had completed the Grasslands 50 Miler but still had some unfinished business in the second largest canyon in America.

Getting to the race was a battle in itself. I had a upper respiratory infection 2 1/2 weeks before the race. My kids had the swine flu a week prior to the race....I had been in a training cycle basically since January. I felt under trained. I felt my Cardio lacking. The Texas heat had beaten me down and frankly, if I wasn't seeking redemption from a previous failure, I probably would not have shown up in Palo Duro. I just didn't care anymore and running wasn't fun anymore. On Friday night before the run, I honestly didn't think I had it in me to finish it.

It was to be a family affair with all of TEAM ELLIOTT traversing across Texas, but after the H1N1 virus assault, Bren and I decided that the family would stay home. My parents would come up from Levelland and crew/support me any way they could...except for pacing...;-)

In the predawn canyon hours, Saturday morning found me reflecting back nearly one year to the day. How, at the time, my only DNF from the previous Palo Duro Trail Race, felt infinitely worse than any physical pain. How at times I get frustrated at not being one of the "fast ones." I have tried to learned to put things in perspective. I had learned from my friend and Western State 100 mile finisher, Matt Crownover, to be grateful for the ability to run...to run far. I have come to realize that all aren't blessed to do such. Craig Miller is running the ING NY Marathon and raising money for Sam, an eight year old boy stricken with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Chances are, unless there is a cure, Sam will never be able to run like this. Matt ended his Western States report with this, "The truth is someday you will go for you last run, but not today, today you get to run."
I spent some time alone. I prayed. I tried to focus. I asked the Heavenly Father to help me maintain a spirit of gratitude. I asked for strength to finish amidst my weakness and frailties...even if it was past the 12 hour cutoff. And shortly before 7:00 AM. It was time to go.

At this point I have to give Jennifer Kimball a shout out. The night before I had check the batteries in my headlamp. Apparently the lamp switch had turned on in my bag and when I went to turn it on pre race...NOTHING. She had a extra hand held flashlight that would get me through the first 45 minutes before the twilight.


"Well, I run to the rock...please help me run to the rock...please help run to the rock...please help me Lord all on that day."

The race is broken down to run a 12.5 mile loop four times. The first loop was uneventful. When the sun peaks over the canyon, it is awe inspiring. I fall into a rhythm and began to assess my body. There was a remnant of chest congestion from the previous infection and my right hamstring was tight...but oh well....In the words of Kevin Boudroux when he passed me..."you can't worry bout that till mile 40." I responded, "your right." I finish up loop number one with my parents saying hi....how you doing? I refilled the hydration pack up at the aid station and acknowledged a guy named Joe Prusaitis...and then moved on down the trail

Waiting on the hydration pack - about to start loop2

There was good cloud cover and I was thinking, "If this holds out, and these temps stay low...oh what a good day to run in the canyon. I had kept leap frogging this guy in a yellow shirt and knew that this was to probably be an all day affair. The second Loop went as planned and my pacing chart was within a couple of minutes that I had told my parents. I had planned to wrap up loop 2 at just under five and half hours. My hydration/electrolytes and nutrition where dead on. At the end of the 25 mile marker, the cloud cover was being burned off and the low 60's were to be a thing of the past.

I leave for loop three...half way done. Laura Underwood had just filled my hydration pack and Linda Boggs mentioned to my parents that they looked normal, so how come I turned how crazy. I once again acknowledged that guy named Joe Prusaitis ...and then moved on down the trail.


"But the rock cried out I can't hide you, the rock cried out I can't hide you, the rock cried out, I ain't going to hide you...all on that day."


The first mile of the third loop I was nauseated and felt like I was going to throw up. I think it was due to me trying to cram too many calories into my body via Ensure, Potatoes, and Bananas. In 15 minutes that subsided. The sun began an all out assault as the clouds were now completely gone. The temps rose with the runners having no shade to hide them. The aid station's thermostats show the temperature encroaching the 88 degree mark. To help battle the temps I wrapped ice in a bandanna and tied it around the neck. Things began to slow down a bit. At the 31 mile marker, there was another 50 miler that seemed to be a dark place. She latched on and we began negotiating the trail and heat together. Her name was Jenny. At about this point we saw Sonia Burnett and Deborah Sexton on their last loop of the 50 K and they still had smiles on their faces. Come to find out this was Jenny's first 50 miler and for the next 6 miles we had a good conversation about running and training. Lynn Ballard's words came to mind when he said to me one time, "One Day you will be someone's Dmitry." You can read about that here. At the beginning of this loop I began feeling a couple of hot spots on the feet and even though I had a blister kit with me, I reasoned that I was short on time to stop and fix it. I would not realize how bad they were till after the race. The guy in the yellow shirt showed up again the last mile of the loop and I joked with him that he kept turning up like a bad penny. This loop was ran slower than I anticipated as we three cruised into the start/finish ready to commence the 4th and final loop.

It was at this point the race director Bill Ross admonished us about continuing. He said we have to run the last loop as fast as we ran the previous loop to finish on time. He also added that we three were in jeopardy of aid stations closing. We all nodded and said we are going to get it done. In my mind, I quickly calculated mile splits. I knew is was possible, but also knew that it would be tough on legs that had 37 miles on them. We leave as group for the farewell tour. I acknowledged that guy named Joe Prusaitis and said, "This last loop is going to be tough." He responds, "Hell yeah it is, it's why you paid your money. You just have to keep moving...don't stop...you'll make it on time." He sounded more convinced than I did as we moved on down the trail...for the last time.

"So I ran to the Devil, he was waiting, I ran to the Devil, he was waiting, I ran to the Devil all on that day."


The guy in the yellow shirt is named Kenny from San Angelo and was dealing with the affects of having prickly pear cactus thorns in the back of leg and in his back side. Somewhere on the first loop he fell in a cactus. Talk about tough. I told my kids this story and told them, "I don't want to hear any whining ;-)." Jenny had found a new energy and began to run with a mission. Kenny and I tried to hang but it came apparent this was going to be futile. Jenny had crawled through her dark place and was on a mission to meet the 12 hour deadline. She tried to hang back for us, but I told her she needs to move, I would be alright...and so Kenny and I began the herculean task of running as fast as we previously had on 3rd loop. My hot spots had turned into full blown blisters and although the legs weren't in too bad of shape, the mental aspect of running against the time line, continually attempting to calculate mile split started to weigh on me. I know I mentioned previously that just finishing regardless of the time was the goal. I have to admit, that I always wanted to be counted as an official finisher. The inclines were steeper than the previous 3 time through and the descents reminded my quads there was work to be done. Kenny kept his sense of humor...mine left somewhere at mile 44. At the Dos Locos Senoritas aid station in the back of the canyon , I found myself in a dark state of mind. I had not hit a wall yet, but this seemed to be it. Those sweet ladies encouraged us and we were off.

"So I run to the Lord...Please Help me Lord...Don't you see me praying...Don't you see me down here praying..."


I enjoy the beauty of this side of the canyon...the last 6 miles of the loop. The views are awe inspiring...the stratified red dirt. My body and mind wanted this to be over, but this canyon reminded me of my Maker and the words of Matt...."Pray to have a spirit of gratitude." At mile 44, I admit the spirit of gratitude was not in the forefront. As the miles wore on, that was transformed. By mile 47 ... I was grateful to have met Kenny whose optimism never wavered. I was grateful for this wonderful day to run. I was grateful this run was nearly over. We turned the corner at 49.5 mile marker and I knew it was finished. We had run a negative split on this final loop to finish in about 11 hours 53 minutes. We had made it. My parents were there. Bill and Wynn Ross congratulated us on finishing strong and running the 4th loop faster than the 3rd. I had been redeemed by the red dirt of the canyon. It was finished!

Done!

Long Day as the Canyon Sun Sets

It is finished! A reminder of my first redemption...also the color of red...when this sinnerman ran to the Lord all on that day...and He bowed his head and cried, "It is finished."

Running races like Palo Duro changes people. I think all 5 of my Ultras have changed me. I learn from every one of them. I have learned that the Ultra community is a bunch of really good guys. I have learned that things will always get better. I have learned that sometimes you have to just keep moving....and I learned to be grateful....for

"the truth that someday you will go for last run, but not today - today you got to run." - Matt Crownover

EPILOGUE:

Thanks to all my NTTR buddies...to Lynn Ballard-Bear 100 mile finisher this past year. To Bill and Wynn Ross who have brilliantly filled the enormous shoes of Red Spicer and all the PDTR volunteers and most importantly to my wife, Bren and kids Luke, Macy, Hope...and of course my Mom and Dad who weathered the all day event...because they would be out there till I finished.

Craig Miller is attempting to race $26,200.00 for
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. If you would like to donate....go HERE.




Starring Mutha Blista...(not shown are her five dime size daughters between the toes.)

and finally - "SINNERMAN byNina Simone

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

U2...WHAT A SHOW!!!



The EDGE, Larry Boy, Adam and Bono sauntered into North Texas, sat up shop, and applied their craft. That is an enormous understatement.


The event was housed in the new Dallas Cowboy Stadium...a venue that is an event in itself. It is good that the stadium holds such stature since the product that Jerry Jones has decided to put on the field on Sundays is leaving a lot to be desired. Not So with the third major concert performing at the stadium of stadiums.


The "Death Star"...I mean the Cowboy Stadium...do you feel the gravitational pull?


I had waited for over 20 years to see U2 Perform live. I have all their CD's...even the "weak" ones. I believe that when it all said and done, U2 will be recognized as the best and most renowned band in history. Their longevity and 30 years of continued high end production will leave second place light years behind...be it the Beatles, the Stones...you name it....


So paying $50 dollars to be a fan club member, allowing me selection and purchasing of tickets 3 days before they hit general public was a small price to pay. We sat first deck, 12 rows up, in front of stage and celebrated the night with about 80,000 of my closest friends.


I could spend reams of words and descriptions breaking down the show. They would fall short. Donald has described in details the time he attended the U2 concert at the Red Rocks...when Bono breaths to life the opening phrases of "Sunday Bloody Sunday." I am sure I experienced many of those same things last night. My highlight was when the Edge, Adam and Larry lowered the instrument volume, Bono stepped away from the mic, and the first stanza of "With or without you" was sang vocally by 80,000 concert goers. The band left everything on the stage...they sang a lot of new stuff, hit many of the classics and made one realize how much volume they really have.

I hear that the sound left some to be desired in the upper decks due to the venue's inheritant acoustics. Where we sat, that was not an issue.

What a night...what a show....What a Band...I left the evening with a since of being overwhelmed ...U2?


My Beloved

The U2 Posse

Sunday, October 11, 2009

OINK OINK!

Last couple of weeks have been in taper mode for the Palo Duro 50 miler. I am burned out...just let me begin with that. One day I was lamenting (bordering on whining) to my friend Patton Gleason about I am not having fun running and not feeling ready for Palo Duro. He then reminded me that after Grasslands 50, I took off about a week and then went right back into putting in some miles. He asked, how many of your "long" weekend runs have been in the single digits (9 miles or less) since the Grasslands. I responded...oh, less than five. So for the last 7 months you have had a run nearly every weekend that was 10 miles or longer...mostly longer. yep!

So this weekend, it was Luke's Renegade Y guide group's Camp out at Broken Bow Oklahoma. Beautiful country. We get there at about 5:30 PM on Friday and after the boys go to bed, I take off for a 12 mile taper run till a little after midnight. We get up the next morning and all for a nice little hike after breakfast. Luke had been having trouble with his asthma this past week and we did a breathing treatment before leaving for the hike. Coming back from the hike, he rolls down the window and tells me it is hot. It was cold out and I was not hot. Long story short, took his temp...102...came home...went to doctor....SWINE FLU. Keep the lad in your prayers as the asthma and swine flu don't mix well together.

So what does this week hold. Have to wait and see. The whole family was going to Palo Duro with me, leaving Thursday evening....don't know now. U2 is in town tomorrow and Bren and I plan on going to that. We have started a preemptive strike with the rest of the clan. Prayers requested....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Disney World, First Triathlon, and a Rocket Launch


Ok, I know...I know...been out of pocket...but for good reasons:

Last Wednesday, September 16, we pulled our kids out of school and told them that all their weekend plans have been canceled. They were told to get in the van as we were on our way to the airport to go spend 7 days in Disney World. My wife and I had kept this as a complete surprise and they were totally surprised and stunned.

Seven days is barely enough but oh what fun we had. That place is truly magical. We stayed on Disney property at the Port Orleans Riverside resort. We covered a lot of ground and packed it in completely as we closed the parks down every night and capped it off at
midnight with ice cream sundaes.

Highlights include, but definitely not limited to, eating breakfast in Cinderalla's Castle with all the princesses, eating at Chef Mickey's, seeing Fantasmic show at Disney Hollywoods and riding nearly everything possible. Macy even got on the
Tower of Terror. Luke and I will ride anything and we put Hope on all the rides she was allowed to ride. Ask her and she will tell you that her highlight was riding Dumbo.

I was able to get in two 6 mile runs and even that was difficult after being on your feet for 16 hours a day...but I did what I could.

It was seven days that will never be forgotten. Here are a few of the 1128 pictures taken!













We come back and the next day I am back at work.

Three days at work and on Saturday, Luke had his first triathlon. He owned it and came in 4th in his age 8 group of 34 participants. He came in 32 place out of 115 overall (including the 10 year olds.) It included the following: Swim - 50 meters; Bike - 3 miles, Run - 0.5 miles. Luke's times respectively was
1:48 on the swim, 17:20 on the bike, and 3:36 on the run. His transitions went very well and I don't think he spent more than 30 seconds in both transitions combined. He absolutely loved it and left everything on the course.








On Saturday afternoon, we built a rocket for Cub Scouts and on Sunday we will launch it. This is an absolute blast and some rockets will reach 1500 feet of altitude.

On the training front: On Friday night, I took off for a 20 mile trail run at
Erwin Park. Wrapped it up and got in bed a 3:00 AM and was up by 6:00 to get Luke to the Triathlon. Came back after the Tri and ran another 8 miles. Had planned to get up this Sunday Morning, but physically and mentally my body needed rest. I was still exhausted from the trip and with sleep deprivation on Friday night, I slept in and got rest. For the most part the training is in the bank for Palo Duro. I don't feel ready but it is what it is.
Stay tune as the the Adventures NEVER END here at TEAM ELLIOTT...and OH DO I LOVE THAT!

RUN ON -SEMPER FIDELIS

RUN ON -SEMPER FIDELIS