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, March 30, 2009

Western States 100 miler Training - 2021

Ok, the title may be a bit presumptuous. I am referencing my two oldest kids, Luke (8) and Macy (6) taking to running the trail. The week before the Grasslands 50 mile race was the spring break for my rug rats. I took off of work on Thursday and Friday in order to spend some time with my posse. So on Thursday, the whole family go to Northshore Trail at Grapevine Lake to hike/run and to have a picnic lunch. Hope (2) attempted to keep up with the two older ones and Luke, much like his dad, has trouble just walking…and prefers to take off into a run. Macy, of course, tries to keep up with the older brother while mom and I lingered behind. We had a great time.

At one point there was a nice little hill with some rocks, tree trunks, brush, etc. I wanted to see how Luke handled the terrain. So I asked up to ascend up the hill and then come down as fast as he possible could. What a surprise and delight. He traversed up with ease….but I am most proud of his decent. Luke handled the rocks and the downhill with grace and speed bordering on the edge of barely being in control. I was a proud pappa. He was trilled and reran it a couple of times. Macy as well showed to handle the terrain although with a little more caution. This past weekend comprised of a camping trip with Macy, and I will post later…but she has the “Mountain Goat” gene as well.

Below are pics that could only make a trail running family proud.

The Decent

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Grasslands 50 Mile Ultra Race Report

March 21, 2009 was a day that I committed to slaying a dragon on my back. Finishing the 50 mile distance was something that had loomed in my mind since my DNF at Palo Duro. Since then, I had learned so much in regards to running Ultras, from Dmitry pacing me at Bandera to Paul Tidmore letting me on what he thought would help and all the other ultra runners who were so unselfish in coaching and information. (Paul has only finished one 50 miler…but 2 time finisher of the Hardrock 100 and 7 other 100 mile Ultras)

The race is to take place in Decatur Texas at the LBJ Grasslands state park, which is about an hours drive from my house. I opted to sleep in my own bed, get up have a waffle and coffee, and then make the pilgrimage to the race. I arrive at about 6:20 AM and signed in, got my race packet, and staged my drop bag. I like to have a little more time to prep, but was rushed to get everything done before the 7:00 AM gun went off. I had no time to contemplate or think about the day ahead, which was probably for the better. I was confident. My training had being spot on. My running partner, Marshall King, who had finished the 3 Days of Syllamo stage race this past weekend, felt confident in my preparation as well and this a huge vote of confidence. So at 7:00AM, we were off.
The course utilizes the horse trails of the park and consists of 4 loops. You begin with a 4.8 mile out-and-back correction and then commence with the 4 color coded trails. The blue, yellow, white and red trails are 13.5, 10.4, 12.8, and 8.9 miles respectively. There is not a great deal of elevation change but there are more than enough gullies you run up and down. The trail for the most part was pretty “stirred up” due to the recent rains the passing horses and you had to pay attention not become a rolled ankle casualty. The most challenging part was the long stretches of deep, loose sand to traverse. Compare it to running on a really loose sandy beach. I poured a half of cup of sand out of my shoes at the finish…and I’m not joking.

The out and back and the 1st, blue loop, were uneventful. I immediately, out the gate, commenced with the 10 minute run/2 minute walk routine recommended to me by Paul Tidmore. I was eating early and often. I was staying hydrated and on top of my electrolytes. It was cool in the morning hours and things were going well. I come into the main aid station at the start/finish line (18.3 miles) and downed a cup of Antja’s potato soup….tons of calories, loaded with sodium and easy to down…Ultra runners rocket fuel. I took off to start the 2nd yellow loop. The marathon race had started at 7:30 and some of the marathoners were mingling in with the 50 milers. On of those was John Morelock-he ran gently out there. We ran about the last 4 to 5 miles together, encouraging each other. This was really enjoyable part of the run. He kept telling me that I was looking so smooth for going the 50 and to keep it up. This was great for my psyche and my body felt really good coming into the main aid station at 28.7 miles. I grabbed more soup…more potatoes, some crackers and refilled the hydration pack. While there I saw a marathoner that had finished, looking in a world of hurt. I asked if he was alright. He responded, “no, this was my first trail run and I’m hurting all over.” I told by this time tomorrow he will love it. As I was moving on to start the 3rd White loop, I heard him utter that he had no idea how we were going twice that far. I felt good, both mentally and physically…and had just less than a marathon to go.

The white loop was the first wall that I had to fight through. At about mile 35, I was feeling the pain in my legs. The legs seemed a little dead as well and my walk breaks were getting longer than I wanted. I remember pulling into Debra Sexton’s aid station in a fairly dark state of mind. I also had a hot spot developing on my foot. I stopped to apply some mole skin that I had precut and changed socks. The sand was beginning to take its toll. Three miles later, I had pulled out of the lull and the body and mind began to respond again. In the words of Olga, don’t think about the distance till your 2/3 done…I was thinking about the distance now…25K…and this thing was done. I pull into the main aid station for the last time. More soup…more food, although my stomach did not want to accept too much. Laura Underwood asked how I felt and told her, “Like a Rockstar.” My brother, Sammy, and his family was there at this point as they had made the 1 ½ hour drive. Sam told me that the time keepers table had me dropping from the race. WHAT??? I have been running my butt off and have only 9 miles to go. I hurried over to the time keeper to correct that…and all was good. I was talking to my brother and Matt Crownover, who had wrapped up his 50 miler in 8 ½ hours (2nd place)…exclaimed, “DAVE, GET OUT OF HERE!” I hear Antje, tell me to “quite making love to the aid station and to get going.” I look down and had spent 13 minutes at the station…way too long. I had done really well at not loitering at the aid stations…but blew it on this one. Off I run to finish the last 9 miles of the Red Loop.

At mile 43 or so, I was descending down a hill and started to feel the IT band scream at me. I tried to run on the level terrain but the pain only increased. Remembering an Indian trick from Rick Gaston, I pull a bandana out and tie it tightly above the knee putting the knot over the tendon. Relieved somewhat, I was able to commence running again. I pull in to Deborah Sexton’s aid station again and in good spirits especially compared to the previous time. Six miles to go and all was good. With 4 miles from the finish, I pull into the aid station manned by Lynn Ballard and Paul Tidmore. I had seen Paul around the course all day shooting pictures and always had some smart-aleck comment for him. Lynn made a comment about my bandana tied around my knee, followed by a comment from Paul and a retort by me. We all laughed heartily. That conversation will stay at that aid station and can not be repeated here. The last 4.2 miles were blissful. The legs hurt, the body ached, but the mind was euphoric. It hurt to run and I walked more than I wanted but also had good stretches of running. A pacer these last 9 miles would have taken 10 to 12 minutes off my time, I believe. But I didn’t have a pacer and I was getting closer to the finish as I could hear the commotion. I come out from the tree line and up to the finish line where Kevin Boudreaux awaited me with the finishers buckle. DONE. 11 hours 31 minutes. My wife, Brenda and my kids had made it to share the finish line with me. Mark the Naked Runner had waited around to celebrate my first 50 mile finish. He finished his 50 in plenty of time to eat, take a shower, and watch a sit com. What more could I want, friends and family there at the finish line.

Luke cheering me on at the finish line

Kevin the RD presenting me with my first 50 M finisher

Fifteen months ago I could not fathom running farther than a marathon. If someone asked me if I could run a marathon back to back…I would have responded, “Are you crazy?” I wanted to break 11 hours. I believe I can, but for my first 50 mile finish, I am happy with the results.

An endeavor cannot be accomplished alone! First, to my wife and kids, so supportive and although Bren doesn’t understand why anybody would want to run for that long; is proud of me. To Rick Gaston, the only guy who was with me from the start of my venturing into ultra running, whose advice I always take to heart. To Dimtry Rozinsky, who paced me at Bandera and taught me more about trail running in those 7 hours than I could have learned in 2 years on my own. To Marshall King, who makes me get my butt up at 4:00AM on Sunday to hammer out back to back long runs. To Kevin and Stacy Boudreaux and the North Texas Trail Runners, who made this event so enjoyable and whose encouragement was incredible….and last but not least, to all of my blog buddies who read this dribble…God bless’ya for reading such!

Bren and post race celebrations

My posse

My brother Sam and I...he's riding the Hotter N Hell 100 mile Bike ride this
year...who knows...may ride it with him.

My Niece and Nephew...Lauran and Jeffery

Mark the Naked heck of a guy

Monday, March 16, 2009

Full Disclosure

“Dienkes says the mind is like a house with many rooms,”… “There are rooms one must not go into. To anticipate one’s death is one of those rooms. We must not allow ourselves to think it.”

-From the book “Gates of Fire” quoted by Alexandros detailing the Spartan Warrior Training

When I first started this blog, I determined to detail the good, the bad, and the ugly in regards to running and training. Last October I DNF’ed my first ever race. After having The North Face Challenge 50 mile cancelled due to hurricane weather in September, I regrouped, ramped back up and quickly tapered to run the Palo Duro 50 miler. At about the 50K marker, I determined I couldn’t make the cutoffs due to a sever ITB issue that made it extremely difficult to even walk that last 20 miles. Frankly, I think about that day at least once a week.

Although I have alluded to running another 50 miler, at this point only a handful of people knew I am running the Grasslands 50 mile race. Next weekend, March 21, I will toe the line at 0700. Part of me said that if I didn’t make it that public, then the accountability would be minimal. I just don’t roll that way. So with this posting, now you know.

Furthermore, I would be lying to you if I said that the 50 mile distance has not gotten in my head. I have come off a great race in Bandera, have had a really productive training cycle and my tapering has been what was expected. I feel as prepared as I ever have. I also need to add that there are a handful of individuals, who have helped in making this demon conquerable.

The race takes place at the LBJ Grassland state park outside of Decatur Texas. The course consists of 4 loops to be thought of as more of a four leaf clover rather than 4 loops repeated. The terrain is rather benign and the elevation change is nearly zero. The course can be sandy and if it rains just prior to the race, “miserably muddy.” I have a game plan and some personal goals. With that said, it obvious that finishing is the demon to exorcise. Any other outcome is a “room I refuse to go into!”

p.s. The book of “Gates of Fire” by Stephen Pressfield is the story of the Battle of Thermopylae and the 300 Spartans that annihilated 20,000 plus of King Xerxes’ Persian Army. It is told from the viewpoint of the lone Spartan survivor kept alive by heroic measures from Xerxes surgeons in order for him to relay his tale to the King. Made to be mandatory reading by the USMC and intensely studied at both the U.S. Military and Naval Academies. Highly recommended and on my top 10 list.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Sweetness!!!!!! Alway Around!

Yep, that's right. That is a picture of a Samoa Girl Scout Cookie. Two of'em make 300 calories. I can sit down and eat a whole sleeve...for those counting....that 's 1500 calories. So that got me thinking. Ultramarathon food....and an excuse to eat a whole sleeve. If you remember I blogged here about the redneck food, Moonpie, being the ultimate in ultramarathon food. (and no, I DO NOT like NASCAR!) I think the Samoa may take over. At this point I must head off the comment from Rick about too much sugar and cratering...but after sucking on gel packs...a Samoa cookie and a quesadilla taste like a Maine Lobster with fillet Mignon! So with that, I intended to train with the Samoa cookie on my Saturday's run...but I get ahead of myself.

I have written this Sunday evening to be posted on Monday...I am going to work to get some here it goes.

Friday evening, an end of season basketball party for Luke. Up early on Saturday, to go to the airport with his Y Guide group to welcome the troops home. Very cool....and then a mid day run on the trail of Erwin park. I was tired and run down. ....a bit dehydrated...and in taper mode. So I ran only 13 miles. I hurt, my heart rate was I ran to survive and by the way...the Somoa worked out as far a no digestive track it's in the rotation as a treat for myself for the next 50 miler. Then it was time to get back home and get ready for a big evening with my oldest daughter Macy.

In the Dallas Area, it is popular to have a Daddy & Daughter Dance. It's a chance to get dressed up to the "Nines" and go out to eat and have a great time. We live in Plano Texas...and Plano did a great job with the event. We went with Macy's Y Princess Group (it used to be called Indian Princess until politically correctness ran amok...but that is a different blog for another day...and encroaching into the political opinion realm which I try to stay away from on this blog. Suffice it to say, I am Conservative....I think you can figure out the rest!). We had a wonderful dinner at Macaroni Grill with all of her friends and their fathers. It was then off to the Plano Civic Center. Let me say at this point, two things: a. I have never seen so many middle aged white men with no rhythm...and b. Yeah...I still got it and can bust a'move!...quite laughing! The theme was a retro 60's night and they gave way some 60's stuff. Look at the last picture of Macy. When I mentioned that she looked like a Janis Joplin Starter Kit...she responded in a quizzical, "WHO?????" It was a wonderful evening and made Macy's day. Let me close with say can dress up, but they are still 6 year old Macy had chocolate all over the front of her dress by the end of dinner.

So here I am, tired but happy. I remember Mark The Naked Runner lamenting the fact that sometimes it's hard to fit in training with kids, family and all. I had this same conversation with Scott Eppelmen...and he's good. So I will close with this. I propose to add on to the race age group categories...the "I have over 2 kids" category for the awards and all...what do you think?;-) Enjoy the pics below.....

Monday, March 2, 2009


…and now it’s time to start tapering. What an active and busy weekend. Friday evening, Bren and I had kid activities and commitments. So after these aforementioned commitments, I took off out the door at about 10:30 PM for a 30 mile run. What that meant was that I would be running way into the early morning. The weather was mild and I looked forward to the solitude of a late night run. I make myself run practically all night from time to time for reasons I will expand upon later.

Although the weather at the start was great, a cold front moved in and at about 1:00AM, the temperatures had dropped 15 degrees and the wind blustered to 25 to 35 MPH. When I wrapped up around 4:00AM it was about 38 F and the wind had beaten me to death…but the run was in the bank and I felt pretty good.

So why run all night? First, sometimes it is the best time to get the long run in without an impact to the family weekend activities. But more important, it becomes a mental thing that I want to overcome. When I left the Marine Corps, I vowed not to get “soft”….not to let the comforts of life become the expected. I have to admit that at 2:30AM that my thoughts turn to the 500 thread count sheets and plush Chatham & Wells mattress….but I have another 10 mile loop to do before I can call it day. It becomes lonely, and though I want to whine, nobody hears…so what’s the use. Run on into the darkness both in reality and the mind.

At 5:00 AM on Saturday morning, after grabbing a bit to eat and a shower, I climb into bed. After 3 ½ hours of slumber, it’s out of the rack for the day’s events. First, Luke’s basketball game at 11:00, then an afternoon date with my wife….wrapping up the late afternoon with me at the backyard grill cooking up dinner.

Sunday morning found me up at 5:00AM to meet Marshall K. at the Northshore trail – Grapevine Lake. What a glorious day to run. The temps were downright cold but we had an awesome 12.5 mile run….Marshall went ahead to wrap up his 20 miler. I had to get back to the casa to get ready for church. After an afternoon nap, it was time to go to the Blue & Gold Banquet for our Cub Scout Pack.

What an action packed weekend, and I feel great. The legs aren’t sore and I feel ready for the up coming race….we will get to that later.