Day at the Office

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

Thursday, December 30, 2010 the Next Race...and New Year...

Well….we’re about 9 days out from Bandera…isn’t that how you keep your calendar…everything relative to the next race. Really…that is how I keep a calendar….it’s all relative to birthdays and races…no?

Anyway….Christmas has come and gone…Overall a blessed time...Christmas Eve Service at Prestonwood Baptist Church and then a 3 hour 4 course meal with a dear family that lives next door at Maggiano’s…and then home to unwrap some gifts that we give each other….and prep work for Santa Clause….this year the big gift for the kids was a trampoline and DVD player for the car. Despite our best efforts to keep Christmas “reasonable”….we all seem to get too much. On to the New Year…

Yes, I fell into the gluttony trap over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day…I didn’t gorge myself…but ate a lot of the wrong things…and didn’t really care either. On Sunday, I went out for an 8 hour trail run…lethargic, dragging…It is incredible the effects sugar intake has on the body and it’s performance. On Monday I got up to punish myself…45 minute kettle bell workout, 5 miles of hill repeats and 20 minutes of ab work. I kept my heart rate up for the full 2 hours and went anaerobic on the hills. Good stuff.

Now for the next week of taper…no weight workouts for the legs…let them recovery….nothing to take me to the edge as far as long workouts either….maybe an easy 12 mile run this weekend…and then on to the Hill Country. This year Bandera 100K is the US Track and Field 100k Trail Run Championship….so there will be some fast guys showing up
So as I gear up for the new year…I count my many blessings…I thank my Lord….and wish and pray for you to have a blessed 2011….PRESS ON!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Realistic Christmas Letter - 2010

Holy Cow…(and no, we haven’t converted to Hindu)…where has the year gone…only yesterday was I writing last year’s realistic Christmas Letter. This year’s letter will not only be realistic…but probably politically incorrect….you have been warned….and proceed at your own risk.

First let’s get this out of the way….we still have 3 kids. I know…we haven’t killed a one…

Luke is now in the 4th grade. I am not going to lie to you and tell you he is the absolutely most intelligent boy in the world….he is smarter than most and not as smart as some. He reads like a monster….although I personally think this is a ploy to stay up longer on school nights….he does tend to knock out some 400 page books….and then tells me about them….as far as I know he could be making the whole thing up….which means that if he is using this as a ploy to stay up late….he may actually be a genius. He has really taken to baseball where he plays catcher and soccer where he plays goalie. He is also beginning his last year in Cub Scouts….working on his Arrow of Light Award. For the record…the cleanliness of his room has not changed one bit from last year….and he is now housing three of our neighbor’s missing dogs….ok that was a lie….the dog part…not the room part.

Macy is bout to turn 8…and in 2nd grade. She helps us all keep our schedules straight….and organizes all our stuff…and then plans all our meals…ok that meal part is an exaggeration…but she does make sure everything is squared away. She reads like a monster too….but hasn’t pulled the “I need to stay up late to read” stunt…you know, the stunt Luke’s pulls because his mom and dad just can’t figure it out….anyways…she played soccer this year…mainly to be with her friends….because…”Daddy, you just have to run too much for soccer to be that much fun.” She much preferred playing softball on the “Speedy Hamsters.” Evidently, softball requires much less running…I don’t get it. She has started taking piano this summer and just last week mastered Mozart’s Opus 5. No. 4 in E flat major….ok…I can’t quit lying…she only has completed the first half of it…at least that is what I think she is playing….but what do I know….I play a radio and that’s it. On top of playing the piano, she is still in dance, Girl Scouts, AWANA’s, and Y Princess…which makes for two things….an overachieving daughter and busy parents.

Hope is now 4 and in preschool. Last year you remember we had her in speech…and we had trouble getting her to talk. That, folks, is no longer a problem. She has not hushed this year…and orates as well as President Obama…only she makes a lot more sense than him and has a better understanding of why Keynesian economics doesn’t work in a free market….no, I am not lying here….trust me on this! There is a reason her middle name is Reagan. She has a wicked, sarcastic sense of humor…and always aims to make people laugh….out loud…she has pleaded to play soccer next year….and so that will be in full swing…

Bren and I have not done anything this year…nothing…really!…ok…again I am not being forthright. Bren serves as Chief, Cook and bottle washer of Team Elliott….as well as Girl Scout Cookie Mom for Macy’s Troop and Treasurer of the Cub Scout Pack. She is involved in a church Bible study, volunteers for AWANAS, does kickboxing, spin class and somehow makes sure that all the homework is done and everybody is fed. She fulfilled a lifelong dream this year….when…drum roll please….she got to go to a taping of Oprah in Chicago….I myself would have preferred a root canal…but this was something she had been trying to do for over 20 years…and yes she actually got on TV….fortunately she went with one of her girlfriends…and I didn’t have to go…I would have tried to get the pool boy to go in my place if that were the case.

Now to me…do you really care at this point….I still lean to the conservative side…and like long walks on the beach and nice long bubble baths…ok…another lie! (not the conservative part….do I really need to tell you that?) I am still doing the endurance athlete thing. I ran the Bataan Memorial Marathon (26.2 miles) this year through the White Sands Desert…with a 44 pound backpack and came in 10th for my age group. I also took up cycling and rode the Hotter N Hell 100 miles in August….and then ran the ½ marathon (13.1 mile) trail race the very next day…I know….I have issues. Plan on more epic races and events this upcoming year and read all about it at Next up a 50K (31 miles) trail race in Bandera Texas…January. I helped coach Luke’s baseball team and am Cubmaster for the Pack...and I still work as a straight commission salesman at Timberlake & Dickson…still perform magic…and other than that ….I don’t do much. Oh…yeah….Bren went to Oprah….and I went to the 5th game of the World Series….I don’t have to tell you who got the better end of that deal.

As a family…we had a great year….Bren and I got to go off for a little vacation to Boston MA sans kid. What a wonderful time in Historic Boston…taking it all in, even a Red Sox baseball game at Fenway…and of course eating at Cheers. ;-) On top of that little trip, the whole family spent an entire week at 9000 feet in the Colorado Rockies. It was a Christian based family camp with more to do than you could stand. A great “camping” compromise with Bren and I as the accommodations had the proper thread count sheets and Bren didn’t have to go outside to use the bathroom. We went white water rafting…mountain climbing….horseback riding…kayaking ….swimming….all the great outdoor things….and LOVED IT!

Soooo, if you made it this far…Bless your little heart….you need to get a life….no, really, get a life. I know right now we are in some real uncertain times. It seems we have more friends that have been diagnosed with cancer this year…and I don’t have to tell you what is happening on the economic/political front. Sometimes I look around and think…how are we all going to make it…then I think about my Father, the Maker of Heaven and Earth…the immovable Rock…with His steadfast love and His Only Son….the Reason for the Season…responsible for crazy people sending letters out like this one…and I think…It’s all going to be alright…Peace and love from our family to yours….

The Elliotts

P.S. I know this letter has run-ons, fragments, and grammatical errors…but my High School English teacher, Mrs. Copeland, ain’t getting a copy…so just chill…will ya!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

On to Bandera Boys!

Back to Bandera…I love that place…quintessential TEXAS….beautiful, rugged, brutal…

That is the answer to what I have been asked over and over again the last couple of weeks.

The next race…only the 50K (31 miles) run through the trails of Bandera…the other day on a group trail run, Marlee and I joked that if you don’t finish the race bleeding, you probably didn’t run it…the Sotol Cactus is a serrated edge cactus that precarious guards the rocky trail. There are climbs…and descents…technical terrain….and some smooth parts…and the Texas Sky goes on forever!

Davy Crockett was correct…”I must say as to what I have seen of Texas, it is the garden spot of the world. The best land & best prospects for health I ever saw is here, and I do believe it is a fortune to any man to come here. There is a world of country to settle.”

Now you know….Press ON!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Just a Walk Around the Block...

That was what my wife told me 15 minutes after I had run a 20 mile trail run. She was being serious...and the truth...she was legs didn't hurt....I wasn't energy was good and I didn't feel wiped fact I felt energized. This was the third weekend in a row were I had a 20 plus mile run...and I could feel my endurance coming back. As a bonus, I met my buddy Tom Crull out on the Arbor Hill Trails...and got to run with him for an hour...Incredible guy and we hound each other mercilessly...he was in the Navy...and with me being a Marine...well you wish you could here some of those conversations. We talked a bit about nutrition...and we both came to the same an Ultra Runner or Ultra Endurance's all about training the endocrine system to release the proper enzymes via the liver to utilize fat as the main fuel source...which requires keeping the heart rate in zone 3 for extended period of times while consuming the proper complex carb/protein ratios. I feel it takes time...and unless you are a biological "freak"...I think that is why some of the best Ultra guys are in their late 30's early 40's. Those are just some of my thoughts.

Additionally, today I got up early to run 7 miles on "tired" legs the next day....and frankly, the legs aren't tired. I hope this is a good sign. One other thing to note, the day before my long runs, I have been hammering my legs in the weight room....lots of squats, lunges with heavy weight, explosion skips...stress on the quads and hamstrings alike. My hopes are that by hammering the legs like this the day before my long runs will build the strength, both physically and mentally. I make sure they get a good recovery soon thereafter.

Let me close with this...apart from running. I love my Sanuks...I know...they are so ugly they look good...and they are the most comfortable thing I have every worn on my feet...especially after a long run. I wear them everywhere...summer, church or to a ball game.

This summer we were on our way to Colorado and we had stopped by a road side park. A man about 65 years old wearing jeans, a western shirt and big belt and buckle....looking like he had worked on a ranch his entire life...he comes up to me and says, "you like your Sanuks as much as I like mine?" I look down and smile...sure enough his feet were adorned in the Sanuks. His feet didn't match the rest of him...and he didn't care....and neither do I. Until next time...Press On!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Who Pushes YOU...into the Chaos of the Hurricane

Amber, Me, A.G.

Last week I wrote about the solace and calm of the run…the peacefulness…the restoration. But here is the deal...if all you have is calm…and you never get out of the comfort zone, there is no growth. In running, in academics, in life!

You need that…forces that push you out of the calm of the eye and into the chaos of a Cat 5 Hurricane…the winds of the storm that buffet you viciously until you cannot take any more….and then…growth…strength...perseverance.

After my completion of Palo Duro 50 mile Ultra in 2009, I vowed to become more overall fit…core, upper body…strength in the legs….not just stamina. That called for me to do more work in the gym…and so I began to attend 2 to 3 boot camps a week at our Y.

It is a full body workout…dealing with core, upper body, balance, footwork…speed…quick burst. It is not the solace of a run…but quick rhythm…no recovery.

My bud A.G, a brother from a different mother... played collegiate football…he runs the boot camp. I remember when we started…falling into a calm rhythm was not permitted. It was constant…no rest. Amber, a bodybuilder and spin instructor at the Y… she would attend the boot camp as well….and A.G noticed that we never let the other get complacent…we pushed each other…if A.G told the class to do 20 push ups…we did 30…the class was to do 50 jump ropes…we would do 60…it was competitive…don’t let Amber get ahead of you in the run….”Dave don’t cheat yourselves on the planks” Amber would admonish.

There would be times when Amber would put together a kettle bell work out...constant…the chaos...relentless….kettle bell swings….clean-jerk-press…squats…dead lifts…dead hang pull ups…run….more running...suicides…close out with hand stand push ups…5 sets…20 reps a set…the arms go dead…the heart is redlined…and keep pushing…keep…going into the HURRICANE!

This past year I have gotten stronger…I have been pushed…I have been thrown into the chaos of discomfort…and the fire has refined. So I ask you, who pushes you to be better…who makes you go out through the storm…quit being complacent…PRESS ON!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Calmness of the Run

It's that time of year where things seem to get insane. I have vowed not to let that happen this year. I told Bren the other day, "let's make a list of what we have to do and want to do...let's not get overwhelmed with so many activities."

So where does running fit into such a hectic schedule? It is my essence in times of chaos. The temperatures are cool and on a brisk morning when most still are in deep slumber I ask my body to feel alive.

The soft rhythmic sound of my footfalls...syncopated with my breathing...and on the really good mornings you can see that breath. The long run is at the end of the week...where the solace helps me regain perspective. So...on a 4 hour trail run...solo...I renew my sound mind...running requires that.

My endurance is good...not great but good....22 miles on the trail and after 30 minutes of fatigue....and so I press on.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Coming Clean...and Changing Plans.

Off the grid….that’s right…the blog has suffered…severely…and no, it’s not fair and the blog as whined a bit about being neglected…it being my 4th child…and with 3 real kids the blog is the least favorite…I still love this 4th kid…just not as much as the other three…and by a far margin too.

Thus, I will not pontificate about the neglect that this 4th child has received. You know why…time…time…the answer Bilbo gave Gollum in “The Hobbit” that guaranteed the release of the hairy creature…but I really digress here…badly, I might add.

I love to write…and actually have a book in the works…the estimated completion date…who the heck knows…remember…I can’t even keep a blog going very well these days.

I am not ready to give up the blog ghost. I enjoy it too much…going back and looking at posts from 3 years ago…and sometimes I cringe…sometimes at the writing…sometimes about the topic…but it is still fun. It has served as a journal of my journey. So…let us continue…regardless of posting frequencies.

I want to focus a bit now on endurance events and a change of plans. The Rocky Raccoon 100 miler is out…not going to run it. A few weeks ago I rolled my ankle violently in the predawn hours on Northshore Trail…on one of the mildly technical parts. I roll ankles a lot…its part of trail running…and you learn to “roll” the ankle with minimum injury and keep on going. This was NOT that type of roll! It snapped loudly…harshly….painfully. I ran another 4 miles with Holly and Jason in hopes to run it out…but when done, it had swelled to the size of a softball…nice….

I kept fitness by riding a bike…after taking 5 whole days off…and then started looking at the training schedule to run a 100 miles. Here is where I will be brutally honest with you…and it pains me to do this…more than you know. It goes against the very inherent characteristics of an Ultra Runner. Let’s face it…part of my identity is that I run…sometimes a long ways…it is who I am. I don’t know if it is right or not…but yes…I have put some of my self-worth in my endurance. Those 5 days off were horrible…and making the decision of not running a 100 miles because I just didn’t have it in me to train for this; tormented my soul…I know…it doesn’t make sense to most people. I didn’t want to have to run 10 to 12 hours Christmas weekend. The kid’s schedule would suffer too…I came to the realization that my plans were changing…and the reasons were as painful as my ankle…”I just didn’t have it in me to put myself through such brutal training this time of the year. The whole realm of emotions and thoughts…”I have gone physically soft…my mental toughness is no longer there for me…my perseverance and determination is now an extinct species.” Depression is probably an overstatement…but definitely there was a downturn in my emotional state…just ask my wife.

It takes time…for me to come to the conclusion that regardless of what I accomplish; my real friends will stay around. That I didn’t let anybody down for not running around 24 hours at Rocky Raccoon…yes…I felt that I let my buds down…the pacers and crew I had lined up...

My wife does not pretend to understand how I am wired…she just knows how it is. She also knew that I needed something out there to train for…to look forward to…even if it wasn’t a 100 miler. She looks me in the eye and says, “Go run 50K in Bandera. You love that race, and you can run 50K right now.” Let me get personal with you right now. Having a wife that knows what buttons to push even when she doesn’t know how those buttons are wired is absolutely priceless. Having a wife that supports me in such endeavors is beyond words. She doesn’t get why anybody wants to run for 31 miles in the most treacherous terrain Texas has to offer…but she knows I need that. I love Bren more than I can tell you.

During all this, my running bud Jenn, was having a rough go too…for far different reasons that make mine reasons look trivial. I told her I plan on running Bandera…more to purify my running soul than anything else. She’s game too…in fact there will be a group of us from North Texas Trail Runners that will be at Bandera.

I don’t plan on setting any records…I know what time I personally want to run Bandera in…part of me thinks I should be running the 100K…but for now I will settle on the 50K.

So there you go…no 100 miler for now…that will be later…

Let me wrap up. Having a spouse that knows what you need is more valuable than I can tell you. Having friends that support you regardless of your endeavors…and sometimes advise you…because they know what’s going on in your head…keep those people around too…they are good for the soul.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Dreams are Made Of...

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America is ruled by it like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.

Field of Dream Quote
Terence Mann:
(James Earl Jones)

Baseball…the game where commentator and baseball enthusiast, George Will, stated that 90 feet was the closest man came to perfection….that 90 feet…the distance between the bases. A game where Ken Burns describes as where the defense always has the ball and man scores the run by crossing home plate...not the ball...a game where being successful 3 out of 10 times will put you in the hall of fame…a game that has no time limit.

Baseball…the game where I played catcher for 12 years…from Pee Wee Little League through high school…the game where my dad took me when I was 5 years old to watch the Texas Rangers…the memories of going to a big league park. Growing up in a small town…and then getting to watch the Pros play…walking into the Old Arlington Stadium…what a cathedral to a youngster…by any other standard it was a dump…but you couldn’t tell me that. We watched Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson hit one out of the park that night for the Yankees…the Rangers got beat…but frankly it was expected. In fact, losing for the Rangers was the norm growing up and even though they seemed to always have more checks in the loss column that the win column, it still didn’t keep me from cheering for them. Waking up and getting ready to go to school in the early 80’s…but having to check the box score in the paper to note that the Rangers were only 3 ½ games out of first place…this could be the year…but then again probably not.

I was blessed to grow up with a great Dad…and baseball was part of those memories. He tried to talk me out of wanting to play catcher. He would say, “Dave, second base….play second base….it’s easier on the body…and you can work on your hitting.” When my son Luke started playing baseball, he started playing catcher…without knowing his Dad’s history at the position….and I found myself saying, “Luke, play somewhere else…it is easier on the body.” He didn’t listen either.

Baseball…whenever my wife, Bren, and I take a trip, we attempt to schedule around when the home team will be playing…she does that for me. Going to the Old Yankee Stadium and watching Babe Ruth’s Ghost show up to pull out a 9th inning victory or walking the hollowed concourse of Fenway Park is something my wife wants me to do…in fact before we left town, we went to a Ranger Game on our Honeymoon….I love Baseball.

So this year, there was magic in North Texas. The Rangers won the division….and they won the American League Division Series…and then they went on to beat the Yankees to win the Pennant. THE TEXAS RANGERS WERE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES!

Tickets were hard to come by…at least for a cost that didn’t have a comma in the price tag. But somehow my wife found some…Game 5…the last home game in the Series for the Rangers. There we are, me and my dad are going to watch the Rangers again…35 years from the time he took me to my first Big League Game…we are both going to our first World Series Game. He told me he never thought he would be able to go to a World Series.

We get there early….nearly early enough to suit up and throw batting practice. The Rangers were down 3 games to 1…and this literally was a must win. But I was getting to watch the Rangers in the World Series. The energy was palatable…with a twinge of apprehension. The bats better show up tonight…come out of hiding…our Ace…Cliff Lee was to grace the mound…6 feet 6 inches away from the San Francisco Giant hitters…I can’t describe how it felt…what it meant…at least to the point where you would understand. But in section 208, Row 4, seats 7 and 8, we were there…Baseball, Texas Rangers…the World Series.

It was a pitcher's duel…Lincecum vs. Lee…and for the first 6 innings it was deadlock…the pitchers duel. Then in the 7th inning, Renteria got a hold of one that went yard…for 3 runs…and with that One Pitch…the Rangers were down. The finial score would award the World Series Championship to the Giants. There was disappointment…but there was also pride…TEXAS PRIDE…and my dad and I stood there cheering the Rangers for a great ride.

Few things in life will be remembered when I draw that final breath…I will of course remember the day I got married to that beautiful gal…and the birth of my 3 kids…add going to the World Series with my dad to that list…for that evening...Baseball was life…

Up in intent...what is next...and all that...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

In 1993 a group of guys gathered together on campus of Texas A&M University to pray...and decide whether to start a Christian fraternity chapter at The University. It would be called BYX - Brothers Under Christ...Led by Brett Williams and a handful of his desperadoes, we decided to proceed. We reserved the Kyle Field press box for our first gathering, printed up posters and hung them around campus...and prayed. We had no clue what kind of guys would show up. It had been decided that the fraternity would be open to anyone with the stipulation that they be a Believer in Christ. We as the founding officers had no idea what the future would hold....we were honestly hoping 10 guys would show up....really.

That first social gathering in the press box brought around 115 guys players, Corps of Cadet members, and student body government members...all kinds...all types...all solid guys...115. That first class...the very first A&M pledge class of BYX....90 members.....I would soon graduate....but was honored to part of the foundation of BYX A&M Chapter. There are now 24 chapters on campuses around the United States...and the Texas A&M chapter has 160 current members and pledges.

On October 16, 2010 there was to be BYX founders weekend, held after the Texas A&M football game. I was in...and decided to take Luke...we would go to the game...tail gate after the game with the BYX up with old the current members....then go and let the old guys lead the chapter meeting.

17 years later...a few of the Founding Officers

First, what a wonderful day. Luke and I left Plano at 6:00 A.M. Made our way to College Station...ate lunch at Sabisa dining hall...where I ate 20 years ago. We made it to the game where the Fightin' Texas Ags didn't do so well against Mizzou.

We headed to the tail gate would have though Luke was pledging as he played football with some of the other's kids....and the pledges.

We reminisced about how our fist annual Island Party had a budget of 100 bucks...and a year later...they brought in 6 bands with Caedmon's Call headlining...corporate sponsorships and 10,000 in attendance...I remember asking Brenda to that first Island Party...she was an Alpha Chi Omega and I had been to some of their events...even with our first lame Island Party...She married me just the same...

Incredible weekend. Aggieland holds a special place in my heart...I met my wife there...I had some of the best days of my life there..."Those on the outside will never understand it and those on the inside will never be able to explain it." Luke drank the Maroon Kool Aide...wants to enroll now...and my soul sings with joy.

On the North Texas Home front...the TEXAS RANGERS ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES. I was 5 years old when my dad took me to my first Ranger Ballgame. Reggie Jackson hit a home run for the Yankees that game. I literally have been waiting for this all my a life long Texas Ranger Fan....WE ARE GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES....35 years Dad and I are going to a World Series...I have tickets to game has come around full circle. Just how cool is that?

On a training front...still running...still doing bootcamps. This past Friday I was up at 5:00 A.M. to go to bootcamp,...going anaerobic a hand full of times...a full day of work...home...watched the Texas Rangers become American League Champs...and then right before 11:00 P.M. I took of for a 20 mile run. That was a 23 hour day...and felt like true Ultramarthon training. I caught 3 hours of sleep before I was up for 2 soccer games and a date with my hott wife. The mileage will increase, the intensity will increase...and hopefully I keep my sanity through all this.

I want to close with a few things...first...this fall things have began to come into family, my running...and most important my Faith in Christ. My next blog will tie into what, Texas Ranger, Josh Hamilton has reminded me.

The last week we had family pictures taking. My wife likes to do this for the upcoming Christmas Card...and of course that will require another realistic Christmas Letter. Megan Graham took them...If you are in North Texas...try her out...she did a great job...check her work out here...and of course here are some of our family pics and my Magic Promo Pics.

Til Next Time Press On!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Needing to Clone Myself...or How Do I Have Time...

Let’s catch up…and this posting is to be scatter shooting…with all that is going on in my life right now.

On Training…let’s get this out of the way…we are building on a great endurance base. With all the kid’s activities, my long run is usually done on Friday Night…and on a trail…for around 2 to 3 hours. We will ramp up mileage and back to back long run days as we move into November. We have also moved into speed work on the track, maintaining 2 boot camps a week for core and have began to implement kettle bell work for both cardio and strength. Running at night helps clear the head and is good sleep deprivation training as running a 100 miles takes 24, give or take a couple of, hours.

On Kid’s activities: Macy and I went to the Texas Hill Country this weekend on an Indian Princess weekend. We stayed at a awesome place with it’s own pool and hot tub. We went to the Longhorn Caverns on Saturday morning and then went tubing and water skiing that afternoon. What a wonderful weekend with my middle daughter. Luke and Macy are still in the midst of soccer season and I am still Cubmaster for our Cub Scout Pack.

The Cabin we stayed in...

The pool...

Macy on a rope....

Macy and Autumn....

On Writing: Yes I have a book started…and yes…I enjoy it, but time…all about time…when you work 50+ hours a week…and you see the above stuff going on…and I write when I can. At some point I may post the first chapter…It has been written…

On Magic: Have started working on a new knuckle busting card routine…and in my mind have a 10 minute routine to compete with at a Texas Association of Magicians Convention. In 2003 I won the best in Close Up Magic and would want to repeat that endeavor. I am about 60% there on the competition routine but need to refine my music, my patter and of course the routine…stay tuned for this…

So…Dave, you may ask, “How the heck to you have time for all this?” Here you go…I don’t watch much TV…except for sporting events…and when I am doing that I never just sit there and watch but I either am reading, practicing magic…or going over work outs…my AD/HD won’t let me just sit there…and of course I am working on cloning myself…that experiment is still in process…so stand by…then I think back to the movie, The Prestige, and what they did to the cloned individual on a nightly basis…maybe cloning is not such a good idea…

Til then…Press On…and for the love of Pete…don’t sit around watching TV…but do something…

Sunday, October 3, 2010


This morning's brisk temperatures...and the thoughts that plague me. They taunt me like a bully in the school yard. My soul is not at rest. The apathy has subsided and the righteous anger has began to emerge....the voices...the tormenting...they whisper...the shout...they inquire...."can you really do it? you have it?" And the furnace is stoked...and gasoline has been poured onto the fire.

It has been a month since Hotter N Hell 100 Mile bike ride followed by the trail 1/2 marathon. It has been a month since I have had a serious endurance run...serious being anything over 3 hours. Last Friday night I took off at 10:00 PM from the "far end" of Northshore Grapevine Lake trail...a trail not for the faint of heart in the dark...and I knocked out 13 miles....The embers started glowing again. I didn't even turn the headphones on the "out"...and then cranked them up on the "in" for a negative the humid sultry temps. I have maintained with about 3 boot camps a week and an couple of moderate runs a week with one weekend "longish" type runs....nothing taxing...nothing serious...nothing that requires additional nutrition...

The month "off" has been good....and Now...I am champing at the bit....It's time to go...time to harness the energy...time to train metabolic rates....endocrine system hormones...hormones that tell the liver to metabolize fats as a primary energy source....time to start monitoring electrolytes and hydration...time to begin counting carbohydrate to protein ratios...

Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile ultramarathon is 4 months away...4 months...I have maintained fitness....I have watched my diet....and now the engine is ready to burn again....and the legs for that matter....The embers have ignited....and now the house is on fire...Do Not Call the Fire Department....stand back and enjoy....I sure am...and so I PRESS ON

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Where is the FIRE because this is Hell !

The fire is smoldering…as if 911 has responded and extinguished all flames.

That is the best way I can put it. This blog is about my journey…and right now that journey is at a low point. I wrapped up the Hotter N Hell 100 mile ride and ½ marathon trail race. The plan was to back off a bit…attend the Texas Association of Magicians Convention Labor Day weekend…run and exercise just a bit…and then after Labor Day start ramping back up and start the training for Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Ultra marathon.

I burn the training fire as hot as Nebuchadnezzar's Fiery Furnace and this summer was no exception. For the last two weeks, the furnace has cooled…to the extent that the reexamination of my drive has began to occur. Saturday morning I ran 10 of the worst miles I have run in 2 years. I came home, went to my daughters soccer game…then went home and slept for 2 hours…got up to eat something and hit the sack for another 2 hours…went to bed early and slept another 9 hours…and then didn’t do anything for the next 2 days on the exercise front…and furthermore didn’t care to either.

This week I went to boot camp on Tuesday…and will do something on Thursday and Friday…and who knows on Saturday. Hopefully things will turn around….both mentally and physically…till then…I watch my nutrition…try to maintain a fitness level…will press on…just pressing on…

Monday, September 6, 2010


It was my junior year in High School and I had just came home that February afternoon from baseball practice. My brother had already made it home and my mom was waiting for me to give me the news.

My dad had gone in for test earlier that day and the results were far from what any of us expected. Dad had Cancer…bad enough that they would operate the next day. How??? Cancer always happens to somebody else…but not us!!!

The next day was the first step of a very long journey….removing 18” of his colon and chemo would soon follow. That was 22 years ago. My dad is still with us…getting to see both my brother and I get married, getting to see his grand kids grow up and still making me laugh with his crazy sense of humor.

Wednesday, I go in for the same test that he did over 20 years ago. It’s precautionary…nothing wrong except I got his genes…so we do what we have to do.

I have more people than I care to mention that are touched by cancer…far too many…so I ask of a couple of things....women get tested for breast cancer, men make sure the prostate is all good…if you have a family history….be proactive…and if you have some discretionary income, give some for a LIVESTRONG event…here is a good place (make sure you donate to Scott Blacburn's fund to help with his efforts)…my bud Scott and his wife Robin will be riding a bicycle from South Carolina to Austin for LIVESTRONG!

Till next time....PRESS ON and LIVESTRONG!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Tale of Two Races

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way –

If reading the above quote that Charles Dickens pens as an opening line in his epic novel, “Tale of Two Cities,” you would have thought that he shadowed me this past weekend. I had some of the best of times…and worst….at times wisdom prevailed and others…oh such foolishness…There were times I saw the light…and times my mind was dark…at mile 30 there was hope and mile 70 despair…we had 100 miles before us…and when done, nothing left to ride…cruising in a peloton at 27 mph were on our way to heaven and fighting brutal headwinds at mile 80…on a straight path of Hell…for this was…well, this was the weekend of the Hotter N Hell.

With all that being said, the “Best of Times,” far outnumbered the “Worst of Times.” It was the best of times meeting up Legacy Cycling Team members…of watching team member, Tony win his age group on Friday’s mountain bike trail race…of riding a bike in United States’ largest cycling event…of meeting Carolyn and her sweet family…she is done with her last chemotherapy this week…of running with my brother in law in a ½ marathon trail race…of riding in a peloton out of the gate like we were demons on fire down the highway of hell…only to serve as a foolish reminder during those worst of times from miles 60 to 100…in fact those were really the only “worst of times.”

Friday evening I had traveled up to Wichita Falls and met up with most of the Legacy Cycling team. Did the packet pickup - cruise the expo thing and then headed out to watch the criteriums and to cheer on Tony for the mountain bike race. As I mentioned before, he won his age group. Then we all went to eat together. Saturday morning the Legacy team gathered up close to the front of the start, to get on out of the chaos of the 14,000 other cyclist as there can be carnage and mayhem. Coach Jim did a great job of getting us out of the gate…and soon we had formed up as a group of about 10 to 15 riders. The first six miles are mainly about navigating through dropped water bottles and wrecks of the unfortunate…and we were heading into a good clip…and then at about mile 10…we picked up the pace…and the hammering began…we ranged from 23 to about 27 mph…about 10 of us…I was feeling good…and we continued till about mile 30…and I still kept hammering for the next 15 miles at about 22 to 24 mph. What was I thinking…if I was running a marathon there is no way I try to keep up with someone running a 6 ½ minute mile for all 26.2 miles. My first break of getting off the bike and resupplying with water was at mile 50 and remember thinking to myself, “my quads are already barking and I am only half done!” My original thoughts were maybe to burn a few matches in the book to get out of all the chaos at the start. But once out…I kept hammering with a group…kept burning matches…at a pace I had no business trying to carry for 100 miles…maybe a 100K…but there is a huge difference of being in the saddle for 60 miles and a 100 miles.

I arrived at Hell’s Gate (100K) marker at about 10:25…with more matches burned that I had left…and met up with Amy and Jan….Jan and I rode some of the next stretch to the 70 mile marker…Anthony and Tony were in there somewhere along the way….and frankly I don’t remember at what point…Anthony was also a casualty of the hammerfest foolishness I had participated in about 4o miles ago and were now paying the piper in spades. The last 40 miles where windy…much of it straight on headwinds…and much of it being battled solo…the heat now was rising off of the blacktop as the Texas temperatures encroached 98F. The winds served as a blast furnace and the legs seemed as on fire as the asphalt. I cursed myself for being so stupid…so foolish. Relentless forward motion…and finally I was done…most of the Legacy Team waiting at the finish line…cheering on each member to finish. Coach Jim comes up and says, “Rookie mistake…that pace at the beginning was unreal.” I nodded in agreement….said I need something to drink and went to look for refreshment. I heard someone ask if I was alright and Coach responded, “Yeah, he’s just mad.” That summed it up pretty good. Glad it was over…but I didn’t enjoy any of the completion of my first century ride or my first event. In hindsight that was wrong on my part…I should have celebrated just riding…just being able to ride. My rolling time was about 5 1/2 hours...not counting water break stops. I stayed at one place so long they wanted to name it after me. At the finish line Carolyn and her family met up with me. She’s fighting cancer…and I rode for her and Sarah Grace. That put things in perspective…and to be upset in a less than stellar performance is crazy when friends are fighting cancer…when people are having to endure pain and suffering of chemotherapy...the pain and suffering of a bike ride pales drastically. I also met up with my parents and my brother’s family. He was riding in the event too…word was he was struggling…the heat had grown stifling….and I know the winds were making it ugly for him. He finally made it to the finish…but only to get some medical attention at the aid station…dehydrated and spent. He’s fine and tells me he will be ready to ride it next year…it is the 30th anniversary of the thing.

I cleaned up and Carolyn’s family and my family went to eat a late lunch…what a blessing. Marshall, my brother – in – law, and I then left and made it back to where we were staying…I had to start prepping for a ½ marathon trail race the following morning. An ice bath, a good night’s sleep and several carbs later, and I was ready to roll on Sunday morning when the race started at 7:00AM. Everything I did wrong the day before was corrected…and I started out slow and steady only to pick up the pace as I went along. I was told by ultrarunning buddy Laura Underwood, who did the same thing last year, not to expect a mind-blowing ½ marathon time after riding the century. She thought 2 ½ hours would be really good. 2 hrs 33 min later I crossed the finish line. I stayed sure and steady, passing more people than passed me…feeling pretty good the whole time and thankful to be back running on the trail.

These were the best of times…and the worst…but mainly the best…I have a wife who supports this stuff…I have some good cycling buds…I have friends who are beating cancer…and that far outweighs any bad times on a bike…in fact a bad day on a bike is better than a good day on chemo…and so I press on.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Bicycle Ride with 14,000 of My Closest Friends…

That’s right…that is a comma after the 14…and that is what the Hotter N Hell 100 Mile Ride attendance was for last year…and they are expecting to surpass that this coming weekend.

With so many riders, well, I don’t know what my expectations should be as far as finishing time. The experienced guys say that for the first 20 to 30 miles expect mayhem, wrecks and carnage on the road…and so for getting a good pace and going strong…well that probably won’t happen…unless…well….unless you get up closer to the front…and hammer out of the start. You know… burn a few of the matches in the book to get on down the road and then settle into a pace line.

So how long do I think it will take me to finish? I don’t know! I know what I have in mind as for a goal…but there are a lot of variables here…lots….my first century ride….with 14,000 people….on a Texas August Day….So I am not giving any odds on this one. As far as the 1/2 trail marathon the following goal is to have a good time and get it done as soon as possible.

I have been doing a lot of riding with the Legacy Group and Coach Jim says he has a plan…I probably will line up with him and the other Legacy riders…but Jim is a beast…like finished it last year in just over 4 hr 30 min.

Let me talk about the Legacy Group for a minute…MY FAVORITE GROUP TO RIDE WITH…bar NONE! They are a great bunch of people…and some really MONSTER cyclist. Saturday’s ride was a 50 mile cool down country ride starting and ending at Coach Jim’s house with hamburgers and swimming afterword. My whole family showed up after the ride for the food and swimming. On Sunday, at 3:30 we went for a 30 mile heat training ride….it was only a 107F…I guess you could say it was Hotter N Hell…oh wait that’s next week…till then…PRESS ON!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I PRESSED ON...To Touch the Face of God at 13500 Ft

It was about 10:00 Wednesday night and I was putting fresh batteries in my Petzle headlamp. My wife looks over at me and says, “I usually don’t worry about you…but this one has me worried. There are bears and mountain lions…a lot can happen on that mountain and most of it is bad…and to top it off, you’re doing this in the dark.” Just two weeks prior, a husband and wife Team from Dallas Texas had perished mountaineering in the same vicinity that I would be climbing when an unexpected storm had moved in and they had fallen off the mountain. This was fresh in Bren’s mind…I could tell. I I responded, “Bren, I will be fine…I will watch the weather, I am properly equipped, I am in good physical condition…I will get a great picture of the sunrise over the mountains…and will be back before you’re done with breakfast.”

My goal was to proceed from the Lodge at Horn Creek Camp, about 5 ½ miles to Horn Peak. The elevation change would roughly be from 9,000 feet to 13,500 feet. My original goal was to summit in less than two hours. This goal proved ludicrous. I had spoken with David who had lived in Horn Creek for the past 8 years and summitted it 48 times. He told me that 3 hours would be considered strong. I had also talked at length with Andrea about the climb. She had been on staff the past 4 summers and summitted the peak 20 times. She told me that she tells people to expect the climb from the treeline to the peak to take 2 to 4 hours. She had completed that part in an hour. These conversations were good. They taught me what to expect…climbing routes…and timelines.

Sleep was restless that night. I tossed and turned…from the excitement. I couldn’t stand to wait…patience had been tossed to the curb…and at 0300 in the predawn morning, I was up…dressed in Nike Running shorts and a North Face tech shirt…ready to roll. I would be carrying a small generic pack….loaded with a generic fleece, North Face Wool hat, Nike Running Gloves, and a REI E-Vent Jacket…worth every dime I paid for it. Knowing that this would be over 4 hours of aerobic activity I also threw in an apple, a peanut butter sandwich and a 2 liter Camelbak for hydration.

At 0333, I stepped out the front door of the lodge, and started the Garmin 405 to begin the time…I was off…and time was of the essence if I wanted to catch the sunrise.

The Rainbow Trail runs over 100 miles long the Sangre de Cristo Mountains…named by the Spaniards because of the pinkish hue that occurs when the sun first peeks over the mountains…reminding them of the “Blood of Christ.” I head off into a jog up the trail head for about ¾ of a mile until I come to the Rainbow Trail…make a right and run an undulating and rocky route for another 1 ¼ mile till I come to Horn Peak Trail…make a left…and climb…up…up…up…a rocky terrain that my buddies Aaron and Hans named boulder alley…rocks…on top of rocks…with more rocks…footing is sketchy…and you’re climbing…two big climbs up to nearly 11,000 feet elevation…I had made good time…running… then fast paced walking as if on a mission….through the switch backs…up to the treeline. It was dark…for some reason this didn’t seem right…I should come out of the treeline…see a post marking the trial up the ridge to the first peak...the false peak…something is wrong here…and so I backtracked a little less then a 1/4 mile…and started back up…I came out a different place but recognized Horn Peak. One thing though… I wasn’t on the ridge…but along the base of the ridge…and so I began the ascent to the ridge at over a 45% grade…at over 11,000 feet. From the treeline to Horn Peak is about ¾ mile….and oh yeah…with about 2,000 ft vertical climb in that little jaunt. The darkness had caused a bit of disorientation…but not for long…I was on the ridge…climbing. Andrea had warned that all you will see from the treeline is the false peak. The air was thin…the footing difficult as the rocks left anything but a solid flat surface. The shadows cast by my lamp made the jagged edges of the rocks treacherous. The footing was bad enough, but being fooled by shadows made it more precarious. In the dark…with a single headlamp, I was cognizant of my footing…a wrong move here and it would not be pretty. There was no protection from the wind and I had donned my jacket. The wind would gust strong the farther I climbed. The temps were, I estimated to be below 40 and the wind would gust…up to nearly 50 MPH. Twice I hunkered down on all fours as the wind caught me in attempt to blow me off the terrain. I PRESSED ON…20 steps at a time…recovering for 15 seconds to get some oxygen in the whisper thin air…onward…the wind…being ever so vigilant on were to put my feet…and 27 minutes later I was at the false peak…27 minutes for less than ½ mile stroll…and the Peak still seemed too far…and the rocks were getting bigger…and the wind stronger…keep moving…the sun will be cresting soon. For some reason this part was the most difficult...I had pushed it physically and my body was ready for some recovery time…so onward, I PRESSED ON…as fast as I could go with over 12,000 feet of elevation to provide my oxygen. I live at 500 feet…and my mind was tired of focusing on where the next precarious step would be. I was about 75 feet from the peak and the sun began to show…quick…I grabbed my camera…snap….snap…snap. I turned around to summit…I PRESSED ON…quickly…pumping my legs…gasping for air…gasp…gasp…move, move…there…there…I was there…on the summit of Horn Peak…2 hours 52 minutes and for a brief moment…I stood in awe…of my Creator…of His wondrous love…from there it seems you can reach out and touch the face of God…not so…only with your heart…only with your praise…redeemed by the Sangre de Cristo…not sitting down but standing up…looking around…quickly…more pics…I must descend quickly if I want breakfast…I promised my wife I would be back for breakfast…I PRESS ON…

A rapid descent with this terrain can be brutal. The footing is so precarious…so poor…the quads have to compensate…and although you are not as winded on the way down…the legs are hammered. From the peak to the treeline in 45 minutes…it had taken just about an hour to go up…and I felt like I had been put through the ringer…I find the trail below the treeline…and there are my friends, Aaron, Hans and their wives, Lorren and Star. All 4 athletes…all four had begun the hike at 0500. They looked good…refreshed. Hans wife, Star, looked at me and asked, “Can I make it?” I knew she could…but not wanting to discourage her by telling her it will be the hardest ½ mile you have ever tread….I responded, “of course you can do it…of course!”

I continued my descent….quickly…trying to run…I PRESSED ON…the legs didn’t seem to want to move like they should…the quads were so hammered…and my mental focus was waning too. My mind was as tired as the body…I continued…running slowly…down boulder alley…careful…careful…don’t roll an ankle at this point…and down…down…so much easier on my breathing…but not on the legs…and there...done…across the field to the Lodge…5 hours and 12 minutes…11 miles round trip…and just in time to catch some breakfast…I promised my wife I would be back for breakfast…and I couldn’t break that…Reed, an Ironman triathlete, looks over at me and brings me some eggs…some fruit. I kissed my wife…told Luke and Hope…let me take a shower…then we will go bowling…the day had just started…and we had a lot to do…and so I PRESSED ON…

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:13

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Best Week of My Life - AKA The Great Compromise

A great time for me would be to backpack a 100 miles down the Rainbow Trail along the Sangre de Cristo mountains in Colorado. Anything less than a Holiday Inn with 500 thread count sheets is considered roughing it for my wife Bren. Thus, when presented an opportunity to spend a week in the aforementioned Sangre de Cristo mountains in a cabin with and indoor shower and toilet…with cooked meals, the Elliott family decided to go out on a limb.

The Lodge Cabin...Where we stayed.

How we came to actually knowing about Camp Horn Creek is a bit convoluted with a circuitous route…our family getting an email from a member from our church…not meant to be sent to us…inviting us to family camp for a week….at Camp Horn Creek. We called Mr. White, the original author of the email…and his response is, “Absolutely you are Welcome to come!” So Friday before we left for Colorado, I found myself looking up on line for driving directions….to Camp Horn Creek (elevation 9000ft), nestled at the base of Horn Peak Elevation 13500 ft…about 45 miles from Pueblo. My wife ask me the week before we left if I had any idea what we were getting into? My response was simple, “No, if it’s bad…we will go into Colorado Springs and stay there.” By Sunday evening, after arriving at Camp Horn Creek Lodge, 3 hours earlier, we both knew we were to have a special week.

Founded in 1951, Camp Horn Creek, is a Christian based camp that caters to the family…much like Pine Cove except that you don’t attend a camp with the East Texas 105F temps with humidity. The crisp, cool, dry Colorado air at 9000 ft caused me to have amnesia of the sultry, hot, Hell like temperatures of a Texas August.

I would love to give you a minute by minute account of the entire week….but I am not writing that much…and frankly you couldn’t stomach reading that…so I will give a feeble attempt of the Highlights with pictures.

Macy and Andrea who was on staff...and loved on my kids...

As I previously mentioned, this was a “family” Camp. These families constituted about 110 people and there were children of all ages. For some, this camp was generational as parents who attended as kids were now bringing their kids to Camp Horn Creek. By mid week, there were no strangers as all the kids run off into the woods to go play together or head down the to rec center to play an organized game. Each family has more activity options to partake in than you can fit into 4 weeks…little lone a single 7 day period. Russ the camp director could not have done a better job either….knowing he and the staff were working there rear ends off…and making it look effortless.

Luke with his new buddies on skit night.

On Pancake had to catch your first pancake...Macy trying not to go hungry...

Tuesday found Me, Macy and Luke shooting the white water rapids with Noah’s Ark Rafting. We would hit the Cat III rapids and Macy and Luke couldn’t stop laughing. Thursday, Macy and Bren went Horseback riding…Luke, Hope and I went bowling in the Rec Center. Friday morning I took Hope kayaking on a peaceful Colorado Lake. Wednesday morning, Bren took the girls to an arts and crafts activity while Luke and I went geo caching, trail blazing over 2 miles as the crow flies. Monday morning the Elliott family went for a 2.5 mile hike along the rainbow trail…and Hope even held her own. When we came to Horn Creek, we took off our shoes and held a contest of who could keep their feet in the extreme frigid water the longest….Macy Won! Every afternoon found the kids at the water slides.

Ok…lets talk trail running and training…every morning at 5:30 you would find me at the Rainbow trail head…running up to about 10,500 feet of elevation…ranging from 6 to 8 miles…on what I would call “technical” terrain due to mainly rocks and few tree roots. I would be back in time for breakfast and then the day would commence. Training at 9000+ feet took some acclimation and I have to say after 7 days, I still was not completely acclimated as running uphill at 10000 ft elevation left me huffing and puffing. My endurance was good for the week though and this showed when I went 11 miles round trip to summit Horn Peak at 13,500 feet for sunrise and descended in time to catch some breakfast. (This adventure will have it’s own blog post with details later this week!) The coming week it’s time for me to climb back on the bike…but with the increased red blood cell count, I am hoping to make some of my buds suffer trying to keep up with me…the Hotter N Hell 100 mile bike race and ½ marathon run is less than two weeks away.

Horn Peak...I eyeballed it all week...gazing up 13,500 feet elevation....

Most evenings would consist of a post supper Christian devotional from Andy Neillie and music by Nathan Clark George. Both of these guys are incredibly gifted. On Wednesday there was an old fashion Western Melodrama and square dance in a barn…Ok…I can’t believe I am saying this…but that “Western Night” was a blast…ok… I said it....

So the week came to a close…spending wonderful quality time with the family… lots of trail running …standing in awe of my Maker’s creation…meeting new friends….the fun and fellowship cannot be fully described here…heck, my kids have already booked in their minds for next year.

If you are interested in attending next summer, drop me a line….would love to have some of my peeps show up…and my endurance peeps…yeah…we got some running to do in the Sangre de Cristo mountains…I need those people at Camp Horn Creek to know that I am sane in some circles….Press On…