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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Almost GO Time...and 3 weeks till Bataan

Colonel Mucci and Captain Robert Prince

Colonel Mucci and his Army Rangers had made their way through the perilous Philippine country side. They were now mustered only two miles from Cabanatuan City. Captain Robert Prince served as Mucci’s Ranger Assault Commander and his fastidious nature had attempted to plan the mission to rescue only God knows how many U.S. P.O.W.’s in God only knows what kind of condition.

Getting to this point had been dangerous enough. Could you trust the native Filipinos? Were the Japanese leading them into a trap?...and if not…and the assault was completely successful…how in the hell were they going to transport American Soldiers who for the past three years have wallowed in misery and whose conditions were just this side of the fine line of the walking dead….and actually being dead. Prince was uneasy. He had actually ZERO intelligence of the Cabanatuan P.O.W. compound….ZERO….and any military commander knows that the key to a successful mission is knowing what kind of crap is about to come down the pipe. The Filipino guerrillas once again answered the heroic call. Appearing as natives, able to get close to the compound, to note the guard change over, the compound lay out…the details. Additionally there were the U.S. Army Alamo Scouts, that were able to hold up at advantageous viewing point for a 24 hour period. The information obtained was incredibly detailed and left Captain Prince in awe of the amount of detail. The plan was refined…and it was go time. Captain Prince reviewed the mission details with the Hard Charging Army Rangers….ripping and rearing to arrange the meeting with a Japanese Soldier and the Grim Reaper. There would be no dress rehearsal. This caused a certain amount of consternation among Colonel Mucci and his assault commanders, but hell, they were in uncharted waters as it was in covert ops….completely in their infancy. On that late January afternoon, they were on the eve of being the salvation to U.S. POW’s that had been held in captivity for 3 years. God Help Them!

For three years, the Americans had endured more than what could be imagined. After the diseases had somewhat subsided, malnutrition began to be take it’s toll on the Americans. The doctors in the infirmary began to observe what organs would fail first and to what vitamin deficiency was the culprit. Starvation coupled with the lack of will begin to put the American POW’s in the grave. Catching vermin, mainly stray dogs and rats became not fun thing to do, but paramount for survival. The skinning and prepping a dog or a rat for culinary purposes was as standard knowledge as field dressing an M1. Because of the savage condition of starvation, nothing was sacred, at least on the animal front….all except one dog. There was a small contingent of U.S. Marines with the Army Soldiers in the compound. Through a circuitous route prior to Bataan, the Marines had adopted an old bulldog that served as their mascot. The Japanese simply over looked the dog in the compound and the Marine element pampered that dog, even in the miserable conditions of Cabanatuan. The Army POW’s often eyeballed that dog as a main course for the evenings dinner…but lacked the intestinal fortitude to deliver to the butcher for fear of ramifications from Uncle Sam's Misguided Children (USMC). How I love my MARINE BROTHERS!

The training for the Bataan Memorial Marathon continues. This week, I realized how the Cross Timbers ½ Marathon Trail Race, torched my body harder than I thought. The legs and body were a bit beaten. I didn’t miss a work out this week, but I could tell the body waned a bit. The results from Cross Timbers showed that I finish 15th from the last. Running with Helga the 40 lbs pack, my goal was to just do better than DAL. On Friday, I began to review my Saturday schedule and realized that I either start at 10PM on Friday and run to about 4AM on Saturday morning or get up at about at 2 AM on Saturday and run to whenever. I chose to leave Friday night…and about 10:45 PM, I left the house with my 40 lbs pack into the dark lonely night…it was cold and had been raining….it was to be a long night. At the 10 mile marker I swing back by the house to rehydrate, eat and adjust the clothing as it had dropped to near freezing temperatures. The house was warm. My dear family was resting in deep slumber. The effort to cross the threshold back into the night was Herculean. There are people who hold me accountable, who encourage me. The thought of letting them down is more than I can stomach. They know who they are. The last 9.4 miles were tough…not going to sugar coat it. At about 4:30 AM on Saturday morning, I returned to the safe confines of our home…hungry, cold, tired, filthy….and forgiven. I remedied the first 4, my Father had already taken care of the last. Sunday was a day of rest.

This past week, David Hanenberg asked if he could feature me on his blog/website called ENDURANCE BUZZ for my “running with a purpose” and raising money for the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. I was humbled and honored. Here is the interview/article. Thank for those that support me in these efforts.

NEXT TIME: "A Cabaret Owner Turned Covert Operative"

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cross Timber - A Monster Trail Race

Cross Timbers Trail run is a Monster…and if you throw on a pack, it becomes a Monster with a really bad attitude. I had never run the Cross Timbers Trail…and if I had, I would have thought twice about running it with a 40 lb Pack. I initially considered running the full marathon with ole Helga (it has been renamed and I will get to that in a minute.) The likes of Kari Kennedy and Sonia Burdett quickly admonished against that since this was only to be a “training run” for the Bataan Memorial Marathon. During that race I thanked them and cursed them all in the same 5 minutes…Thankful I didn’t run the full and cursed them for even letting me run the ½ with ole Helga.

Early on Saturday morning I found myself driving to Lake Texaoma with intentions to arrive a little after 0600. My race didn’t start till 0730 but I wanted to catch up with some buddies that were running the 50 miler and their race started at 0630. It was good to see the likes of David Smith and Paul Mastin as they were in for the “Long Day.” The hour or so before my race I got to catch up with a lot of really good people…some of the best in the world.

As I strolled over to the check in table, the volunteers asked which race. Full disclosure here! I was a little embarrassed to utter the words…”1/2 marathon.” About 4 hours later I was really glad I uttered those words.

At a little before 0730, I donned the 40lb pack named Helga. In my last post, Kari Commented that Betsy was too “sweet” a name….go with something like Helga. I had just read “Lonesome Dove.” In that story, the main character, Call, has a really great horse he named “Hell Bitch,”…Call named her that because of the difficulty in breaking process of the horse. So the full name of that pack is Helga the Hell Bitch…but Helga for short….and in front of the kids.;-)

Despite the recent snows and all the rain this season, the trail was in really decent shape, but there were still lots of mud. I have attached pictures below showing really how the over all Cross Timber Trail shakes out. There is very little level ground. You are either climbing steep hills or descending down the other side…and there are lots of tree roots and rocks to make it technical too. Throw in the mud and make that slick up hills and down hills. It used to be known as the “Toughest Trail Race in Texas.” Frankly I think it’s a toss up between Bandera or Cross Timbers and that is probably determined on which of the two trails you just got through running.;-) The course is an out and back.

steep up hills

another steep uphill...

what the...more steep uphill...and I got to come down going back...

more freaking up hill

bad to the bone downhill..

I found it hard to get in any good running pace as the steep hills required me walk them and the downhills so steep and technical that the extra 40 lbs made me cautious…although one time early in the race with fresh legs I did past about 5 runners on a technical downhill. (Technical downhills are my strong suit and at times it was a bit frustrating knowing that could have had reckless abandonment scorching this part sans pack.

Several runners passed me that knew exactly what I was training for and all of them commented that Bataan is no where this difficult and in fact one of my buddies, Don, at the end of my race told me that I was as good as ready for Bataan after running this ½ with the pack. Many runners also indicated that they would be running one of the events in White Sands…so I hope to see many of them there.

The race went well….as well as could be expected. I was slower than I thought I would be, but then again I had never run this trail or I would have quickly changed those expectations. The last 2 miles with all that climbing and my quads started screaming. There is a ½ mile hill up to the finish and towards the end of that the quads refused to fire a couple of times. The back and body felt relatively good at the end…it was the legs screaming this time…which is a testament to all the core work. Towards the end of my race, Buddy Teaster catches up to me. He was running the 50 miler…it was great to see him…Buddy is great guy who pulled me through a dark hole in my first 50 miler.

I finish up. My friend Matt Crownover is there waiting to pace Buddy and he looks at me and says, “Dave, you are insane.” I made him pick up the pack…and he looked at me and uttered something like you are out of you mind…or something like that…we laughed and I was glad it was over. Don't know where I finished up, but there were a handful of people still out on the course so I wasn't DAL...which was really my goal. ;-) It was a great day. Caught up to some old friends and made some new friends as well. It was tough, it was messy…would do it all over again today…but let’s wait awhile. ;-) The day soreness hardly at all...:-)

Next week back to some Bataan History….we got a rescue mission!

Smith and Mastin in for a long day...50 miles long

Laurie and me...she is a 100 mile finisher...running the marathon and volunteering

My Lubbock Texas buddy..Mark the Naked Runner...who ran five 50 milers in 5 months last year....

Lynn Ballard...I have lost count how many 100's he has finished...going 26.2 today

Teresa a great runner and the Race Director for this little jewel of a race.

1/2 way complete...dang it...I have to go back through all that again?!?!

Sonia Burdett, former Marine and will be running Bataan Heavy...ran the 1/2 with a pack also.

Soloman....trail running shoe of least between Dan and me...

I am done...I am going HOME...poor 50 another 5 or so hours...been there...not today.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Setting a Record!

She got 12 inches….Snow…Dallas got 12 inches of snow on Thursday. The most snow in a 24 hour period for North Texas. You Northern Peeps…keep your snide comments to yourself…less you want to come down and run with me in July…and I aint’ scared to take you out at 2:00 PM in the scorching 105 degree afternoon….may want to see what you had for lunch…;-)

Anyway I digress. So where the heck was I…oh yeah, we got the white stuff…which really does not effect my training during the week since I do some madd Core work…and the speed work…crank up Metallica and git’er done on the treadmill. But on Saturday, running with that pack thing….you have just got to deal with the weather God gave you. My buddy and Ultrarunner, Marshall King says, “You can't choose your weather on Race Day, so don't choose your weather on training days." So at 0430, Saturday morning, I am out the door. Most of the snow had melted off of the sidewalk and streets…but the grass….well it had about 8” of the white stuff. Another thing, this was “recovery weekend” and so, I was to only run a ½ marathon with my new “mistress”…the 40 pounder. For the first 10 miles I stuck to concrete to get a good pace knocked out. The last 3 miles I made myself run in the 186 acre park, next to my house…in the snow….kinda like running in sand…and there is suppose to be some sand at the White SANDS desert (Bataan Marathon) so it’s all good. Ran another 5 miles on Sunday…but do you really care about that at this point?

On a side note: I had packed my wallet and ran to a card store to get Valentine cards for my wife and kids. You should have seen the look on the lady's face…and I acted like everybody shows up at a card place in running tights, hat and gloves, Salomon XT wings, and a 40 lb pack…I love doing stuff like this just to mess with people. (see pics, cause that’s how I looked to that really confused lady who was afraid to ask, “what’s up?”…oh good times!;-))

So where to from here…well next weekend is the Crosstimbers Trail Race. It is a tough trail with some steep climbs and some technical stuff as well. With all this snow…it is going to be as muddy as a hog pen…and yes I am running the half marathon with big fat Betsy…that 40 lb mistress…you got a better name….let me have it. I plan on throwing on some miles at the end…but will have to see how I feel. My goal…just DON’T BE DAL….just don’t…even with Fat Betsy.

Yeah, I know that the tone this has been written in is a departure from my few previous posts…deal with it…I am in one of those moods…glad Valentines is over. After celebrating like Rockstars in January…the Hallmark card day of Valentines…is pretty low key….nothing wrong with that….;-)

And so I leave you with some photos…and yes…the dang things were staged…Dallas Texas gets 12 inches…you stage photos…just deal with that too….and the cool thing…all the snow has melted off and you East Coast peeps will be shoveling till May…;-)

In front of the Fire Station a 1/4 mile from our house.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


Picture taken right after the run.

I will take a brief break from the historical account of Bataan. The sheer brutality of Bataan and all that entails at times can wear on one.

The weekend has been fairly uneventful compared the past whirlwind of a January. Let me add that the schedule has been full…but not insane crazy full.

Saturday morning found me up at 0400 and ready for a run. In November, I had committed to performing magic at a luncheon for a professionally organization this past Saturday. Thus the early rise in order to get the necessary training done. It was cold…but not brutally cold…only about 33 degrees.

It was an 18 mile kind day again, but this time all 18 miles with the 40 lbs pack. This is 5th week with the pack and I can tell the difference. I ran the 18 miles in 4 hours 28 minutes….I know, I know…it ain’t blazing. But with 25% of my body weight added to my baggage, sub 15 minute per mile pace is something I am happy with. The back is really tense at the end, but each weekend this becomes less so and later and later in the run. I see my buddy Patton Gleason, training marathoners and 1/2 marathoners for Luke's Locker...I give him a peace sign and keep on moving. He left a comment on my previous post that pretty well sums it up.

So I see this guy yesterday morning 2/6/2010 running through Plano and carrying a huge backpack. It doesn't look like it is easy and it doesn't necessarily look like it is fun. But this guy with headphones a blaring is just cruising.

On Sunday I ran another 5 miles with the pack. People ask, “Why do this 5 miles?” The answer is more mental than physical. The shoulders and body are still sore on Sunday morning from the previous day’s escapade, and by donning that pack on Sunday morning, I feel that I am training my mind more than the body to do something it would rather not deal with. Sunday, after the 5 miles, I felt like the run was barely and effort. I think that is good…is it not?

So Saturday after the run, I get home shower, eat, get dressed and out the door to perform. The performance would be for about 50 engineer types and I literally put the set list together in the hotel parking lot….all close up magic type stuff. I forget how much I enjoy performing…and getting engineering types to loosen up, laugh…and I mean belly laugh…is a lot of fun. It was a 30 minute performance that went well…at least they laughed a lot and my magic was decent….so I don’t think they were laughing at that. I have had a few people tell me to post some videos of me performing….so here is a little something I came up with, called “Going Home.” Youtube changed the music as I originally set it to something copyright protected. Show your kids….but don’t tell them how it’s done. ;-)