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, May 31, 2010

The 50/50 Endurance Test Weekend

left to right: Jess Wilson, Buddy Teaster, Dave Elliott, Paul Tidmore, Lynn Ballard, Mike Potts

Jennifer Kimball in typical training...;-)

This is a training intense blog entry…so if you are looking for literary genius, please proceed to another source.

Memorial Day weekend….a 3 day weekend, and I haven’t been on the fixed gear bike in over 2 weeks…ouch! So this week I conjured up a 50/50 scheme to determine where my endurance is.

That is to ride a 50 miles on the bike Saturday morning and to run a 50K (31 miles) on a Sunday night trail run.

The Saturday ride started just before day break. It was good to get back in the saddle and I hammered hard for nearly all 50 miles with rolling hills the first 40 miles. The last 7 miles was on a long flat stretch with no traffic lights and I averaged 22 mph on this part. A real confidence boost to hammer like that at the end of a ride. I returned home and 17 minutes later had eaten, showered and was at the ball park to help coach Luke’s baseball team...who needs recovery...;-)

So that brings us to Sunday evening for the 50K trail run. Since the Bataan Marathon, the longest I ran was 13 miles. I was anxious to see how things would go. A group of us met up to run…the deadline was 12 hours….whoever ran the farthest in that amount time won the self supported race. Above is the picture of all us…Jennifer showed up just a bit late for the picture so I lifted a pic from her Facebook Page. My intentions were to only run 50K regardless of how much time was left on the clock.

Everyone of those guys have had a profound impact on my short Ultra career…Buddy Teaster who pulled me through my first dark hole in my first 50 mile completion. Paul Tidmore, 2 time Hardrock finisher has taught me pacing and nutrition. Jess Wilson who has inspired me to press on when I was first starting out in the Ultra World. Mike Potts who shows his quite steadfast spirit as he prepares for a 72 hour race. Lynn Ballard, who I have shared the trail with so much that we have begun repeating our stories.…and of course Jennifer Kimball, a subdued intensity who inspires with tenacity and spirit. She finished her first 100 mile run this February in less than 24 hours. In fact when I look at that photo…I am the one who doesn’t belong...There are over 25 100 mile races between the group…for they have all finished a 100 mile ultra…all except me.

At 8:00 PM, we commence on some really deceptively difficult trails with the temperature set at 90 degrees. This was the first seasonal run in the heat…and it took it’s toll early. The first 20K was run with Jess and Jennifer, and since they both have finished a 100…I picked there brain a bit. By the 30K mark I was struggling to stay hydrated and my heart rate higher than it should have been. Frankly I was ready to cash in the chips at the 30K mark, but there were people I didn’t want to disappoint…would rather die on the trail than disappoint. Throughout the night, the temperatures dropped a bit but it was still humid. It was Wet and Hot…that’s alright if you’re in the bedroom, but not if you’re running trails. By the 40K mark, I had come through the wall and the last 20K was not as tough as I thought it would be. Running with buds like Lynn and Jess helped to pass the time. It was good to be out on the trails again…with a bunch of really good guys.

I came home, showered and caught about 3 hours of sleep and then up and ready to celebrate Memorial Day…thank you to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Overall a good training weekend….I have a really long ways to go to get where I want to go…but have a little sumtin sumtin to work with….and there you go….

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The White Running Shirt

I have a white “tech” running shirt. I think New Balance manufactured it...but I am not for sure since the logo has long since come off. I love that shirt, not because it looks good but because of what is in it, what it means, what it has come to symbolize. I once wore it in the White Rock Road Marathon, a far cry from what you usually see in running apparel in a road race. You know the flashy, bright colored singlets and tops. I even got some looks like they wanted to say, “somebody buy this guy a descent running shirt….poor guy.”

I wear that shirt in all my Ultras and usually in all my really long trail training runs. It’s the white shirt in all these pictures, but the photos really don’t do it justice. When it was brand new, it was REALLY WHITE…like blinding white. Not so much any more. In fact a dingy grayish color with a lot of stains. Most trail running shirts are dark colors, just for that purpose, they usually get dirty at some point.

I can not tell you how many times I have fallen on the trail in this shirt. One sultry summer, I was running all night long. The shirt was soaked with my sweat from 5 hours of running…there it happened. I tripped and fell, hard, and the red dirt of the trail covered the whole left side of my body. I can still see the stain from that fall, in fact I can still see the stains of all my MAJOR falls. I look at that particular stain and instantly go back to that very moment on the trail. The moon was shining, the sweat dripping onto the parched summer earth. I was hurting, not so much from the fall but from pounding the trail. I sat there a moment, making sure that all the parts still worked and reevaluating why I do this thing called ultra running. I can also still see the stains of the billions of gel pack remnants, left overs of PB&J’s, and Gatorade that have gotten on the once snow white shirt. The very sustenance that fuels the body, left there as a reminder of what it takes to keep going.

I said it before, I love that shirt…man, it’s ugly…and what once was pure now, not so much. It reminds me of all the suffering on the trail. It reminds me that I am not perfect but a work in progress, both as a runner and as a person, It reminds me that regardless of how hard I try the stains will never come out….and neither will my imperfections of a mortal man. It also reminds me of the great runs I have had. It reminds me of my running all night with buddies, where things are hashed out and friendships are forged. It reminds me there was a suffering far greater that occurred 2000 years ago. It reminds me that all the stains of my life have been forgiven because of that suffering…and although the shirt will never be white again…I am…and so I run on…in that stained, dingy, once white shirt.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Tomorrow is Carolyn’s birthday. A gal I graduated high school with and she is in the dead center throes of battling breast cancer. Full on chemotherapy and all that it entails…losing hair…skewed white blood cell counts, nausea, sickness…and then being an employee, mom of 4…and wife of one. She is nearly always positive…fighting this thing with everything the good Lord has given her.

Lance Armstrong has put the battle of cancer in forefront…at least among cyclist and endurance athletes with his Livestrong campaign.

So it is only natural that the cycling has become a way to raise awareness and money for cancer research…thus, in steps my buddy Scott Blackburn and his wife Robin. This fall, they and 25 other cyclist will go on a little 1600 mile bike ride from Greenville SC to Austin TX to the Lance Armstrong Fundraiser…I hope to possible meet up with them and ride a bit. Scott is trying to raise money for cancer research. You can donate here!

Make sure to click “Scott Blackburn” so that the donation will go towards his goal of $5,000.0

For $25 – you can forward me an IN HONOR OF or IN MEMORY OF individual and He will write that person name on his cycling jersey, arm warmers, leg warmers, shorts, any place to carry with him during my trip.

For $50 - In addition to the above, he will have an IN HONOR OF or IN MEMORY of magnet placed on the ride support car for the entire trip to Austin for everyone to see during our trip. This magnet will be sent to you after the event it complete.

Back to Carolyn…she turns 40…I am thinking she is good for at LEAST another 40…probably more…she has things to get done…being a mother, a wife, a cheerleader, a mother of the bride…you know all the things that make life sweet…

In August, I ride...the Hotter N Hell 100 miler…and I ride for Carolyn… LIVESTRONG!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rocky Racoon 100 Mile Ultra

I remember my first marathon…1996…Houston….the pain was incredible… I couldn’t walk for a week without extreme pain. I remember my second marathon…2001….Oklahoma City….yep….took 7 years to forget about the suffering…and at the end of number 2 told my wife, “DON’T EVER LET ME DO THAT AGAIN!!!”

In 2007, I had ballooned up to 194 lbs…and probably had about 25% body fat…Dave the Doughboy…and found myself on the couch watching the White Rock Marathon…Nope…not ever doing that again…never say never!!!....and 3 months later was training for my first 50 mile Ultra….what part of that “Don’t ever let me do that again did I forget? Furthermore…This was 2 marathons back to back…non stop…and frankly I really do not know what ever possessed me to even consider doing this…and really…mentally…I just could not wrap my head around it…Just couldn’t…14 months later…from the point of being a couch doughboy…to completing my first 50 mile ultra…DONE! what…oh…let’s do another one and 7 months later…the second 50 mile ultra DONE!...In fact that year I ran two 50 milers and two 50K’s (31 miles)…a far cry from 194 lbs…and swearing…”I would never do that again!”

The question always arises with my ultra buddies…when are you going to run your first 100 miles? And once again…I JUST CAN’T GET MY MIND AROUND IT! It’s a 100 miles…it will take somewhere in the neighborhood of running for a 24 hours…straight…and so I find myself mentally where I was 2 years ago.

My running buddy, Jennifer Kimble ran her first 100 miles at Rocky Racoon…and did it in under 24 hours. She once posted a list of Ultra Runner quandaries. One said, “You know you’re an Ultrarunner if you are in better shape than you think you are.” Yep…that sums it up…I am in pretty good shape…but Ultra shape….100 mile ultra shape…NO!...not right now…yep, I think I can currently run for 5 hours…but it won’t be pretty….and so…I pulled up the Rocky Racoon 100 mile Ultra website…8 ½ months away…that’s it…oh…I have been planning on this…even have talked to people about crewing and pacing…and have about 90% of that in place…even with backups…But it’s that mind thing again…8 ½ months…that’s all the time I got…not so much the physical…It’s the mental part that will take that long to prepare…and so I run on…and yes…the Hotter N Hell 100 bike ride is still on…just to put your mind at rest…

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Training and Kids...and other stuff too!!!

Everybody’s sense of history datum point begins with their own origin. Whoaaaaa! I just wrote that…but heck, am barely smart enough to know what it means…Let me break it down like this.

My wife and I were telling our kids, who sometimes struggle to think of our lives before they were born, that their mom and dad were once cool and hip…and had a life together B.C…..Before Children. That’s right…our Saturdays were planned to what ballgames were on T.V…or what sales were going on at Macy’s….long before planning on how were we going to get 2 kids to 2 ballgames simultaneously or if Macy had to go sale Girl Scout Cookies. The house stayed perpetually clean…and eating out without ordering Chicken nuggets was normal. You actually had some free time to catch up with the latest Newsweek or in my wife’s case, Goodhouse Keeping…which by the way now seems like a moot point since there wasn’t much “house keeping” to really do. We had duel incomes…did what we wanted, when we wanted…and really…WOW…what did we do with all that time…I can’t remember….I do know I could knock out a 500 page novel in a week…and didn’t know what “sippy cup” was.

Oh those days…

Luke was sleeping through the night at about 5 weeks…and not till he learned to crawl was there really much trouble he could get into…that seemed like a month ago…he is now 9…more worried about base runners stealing 2nd than learning multiplication tables.

Macy was always trying to keep up with big brother since she could walk…that was 3 weeks ago…she is now 7…reading like a monster, dancing…hitting about 0.678 on her softball team.


Hope…she is now 4…thought she would never learn to talk…in the last 6 months she hasn’t hushed…the happiest kid more interested in making you laugh than anything else…always go for the laugh…always…and then smile big letting them know your cute.

Why am I writing such nonsense…well it came up in a conversation with some of my ultra running buddies the balance of family, training and other stuff.

Free time is no longer a luxury…last night at 9:00, we were finishing up school work after a baseball game…trying to get Hope bathed…making sure Macy brushed her teeth…and Luke telling us how the posters he was working on would help him in his campaign for student council….

I need more time in the day…and more money for that matter…and so I have to admit there are frustrations. My wife sometimes calls our 3 rug rats “Heavenly Sandpaper.” Great description…Somehow God has saw fit to bless them with Bren and I as mom an dad…which raises the eyebrow of many…especially after looking at me as a Dad. With all the joys of having kids…well, it’s all not a gravy train with biscuit wheels.

I was lamenting the fact to a blog buddy last month that a race I really wanted to run fell smack dap in the middle of one of my children’s events…something they were really looking forward too…I was so disappointed…not to be able to run the race…and worse felt like a bad dad for even being disappointed. They wrote back...something like…”No, it’s natural to be disappointed…and that doesn’t make you a bad dad…but running the race and missing the event…well that’s a bad dad.” I need people like that in my life…it helps me keep perspective.

It seems that there is always a balance…training time…money for racing fees, equipment…whatever. People will say, “Dave you are hardcore…you run all night long.” Ok…here is the secret…I would rather not run all night…but sometimes that is the best I can do without impinging on the family schedule…take off at 11:00PM on Friday night and running to 5:00AM on Saturday morning…and still making it to a baseball game by 8:00…There you go…the cat’s outta the bag…that’s why…and some other things but that is for a different blog for a different time.

My list of races I want to run is so long that I may have to live to be 200 to get it all done. But for now God has seen fit to give me 3 beautiful kids. Parenthood is not for the weak and timid…there is nothing worst than watching your kid go through a really bad disappointment…or helping them through a life lesson that is tough to stomach. Sometimes there is some big time frustrations….how many times do I have to tell Luke to pick up his shoes and if I step on one more Lego barefoot…well…you know…I have a lot of races to run…to train for…but…

One day, there will be no Legos to pick up…and the laundry loads will be a lot smaller. There will be no fingerprints 3 foot up the wall to wipe up…and the milk won’t be left out…with remnants of cereal to be swept up off the floor. In about 2 weeks…or so it will seem…we will have 3 “guest” bedrooms…the house will be quite…my race schedule will be full, uninhibited…and I won’t run all night long to in order to coach a 8:00 AM game.

The photos on the walls will speak of good times past…and those “times” I will miss terribly….even though they now may not seem so as much…and so I Run On…ok…guys who put this Lego in my running shoe?!?!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Let's Ride....into the wind...and no, it's not a Christopher Cross Song

Alright...week 2 on the old fixie...Saturday morning...was going to be a packed day...ballgames...birthday parties...and oh...the bike ride.

So at 0700 I found myself in the saddle heading North...into a 20 to 25 MPH wind....dang....this is harder than it's suppose to be....all my cycling/tri buddies...quit laughing ;-)...I have 2 the saddle and out of the saddle...but still enjoyed the thrill of the ride. Heading south...oh so much more fun....cruising no effort....24 mph...when it was all said and done the 2nd ride was a 41 much more to learn...and so much room for improvement.

On Sunday I got up at 0530 for a 10 mile barefoot run just to get the running legs going. (actually only the first 6 miles were barefoot (Vibram Five Fingers) and the last 4 with real shoes...I have begun to feel the difference in my form change...and I think that is a good thing. Back at the house...before everybody else gets up so I can cook breakfast for my wife on Mothers Day...and yes, I showered first...geeze...give be a have already laughed at me for lamenting the fact I actually had to ride into the wind. ;-)

Full disclosure...and I am being serious about this...for an Ultra Marathoner....I feel out of shape...I can't tell you when the last time I went for a 6 hour run...and I would be lying to you if I said that there is not a small amount of concern with this. My overall fitness is as good as is has ever been...but my endurance is off a bit. I will reassess, but I think by the end of summer I want to be doing a 4 to 5 hour trail run with not much problem. This will spring board me into the fall training with the Rocky Racoon 100 mile Ultra event next February.

So I close with this...I have felt a little like a fish outta water with the new cycling thing. All you cycling peeps that have sent messages of encouragement have made a guy feel very welcome into this new sport I have undertaken. My good pal, Ultra marathoner and triathlete, Kari Kennedy is a great athlete and better person...She is going to get me into some group rides....she says....those are real fun....I inquired...."even on a fixed gear?"

The picture below is one of my favorites....My daughter, Hope who is an absolute riot...and at the age of 4...we are already on the same wavelength....YIKES!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

No Longer a Virgin

The questions that ran through my mind. When I do this for the first time...will I have a clue what I am doing? Am I going to be clumsy? How bad could this hurt?...You know the very first time you go for a "real" bike ride. Not the kind of ride you did as a kid...but a ride where actually have a distance and cadence in mind.

After taking a couple of days of last week, I started back into boot camp on Friday...only really having about 70% to give ...but I could feel I was coming back. On Saturday, I did about 30 minutes of core work then did 2 back to back 1 hour spin classes. Ok...good...I am getting back...things felt normal. So that leaves the long awaited Sunday...

On Saturday evening I had picked up the fixed gear bike from Lynn...earlier in the week I had made the necessary purchases (helmet, bike shorts, etc.) to go for a ride...and now it was time. Full disclosure, I was a little apprehensive...really riding with cars around me...on the road...and operating the fixed gear...there were a few questions there.

At 0630 Sunday morning...not wanting to burn daylight....I was off...with intentions of going between 30 and 40 miles. My legs were a little cooked from the previous days spin...but I was anxious to get out on the fixie...

The course I road had a lot of rolling hills...which was really great and I had the time of my life...yes I am hooked on the cycling thing!

The biggest lesson learned this day was that many of the red lights were at the bottom of a let's talk about this for a minute. My bike is a fixed geared track back...which means it originally did not come with a brake. Lynn Ballard had the foresight to put on a front hand brake to help slow down. Keep in mind you DO NOT want to lock up the front wheel...last thing I want to do is go over the handle bars going 30 MPH. So when you decide you need to slow have to start using your legs to resist the bikes momentum to get it to stop. So when you have a stop light at the bottom of a have put some stress and energy in your legs to stop...then more times than is uphill when you get through the light...DANG...always fun starting up a hill from a standstill on a fixed gear. The only other small challenge is clipping into the fixed gear pedals...since they are always moving....but I quickly got the hang of that after about the 4th stop light.

When it was said and done...I rode 35 miles...and averaged nearly 18 mph. I tried to maintain 17 mph up hills...but sometimes that was just impossible to do without blowing the engine...and sometimes slipped to 13 to 14 mph up the hill...20 mph on a flat road was normal...and well, the down hills...isn't that what we ride for...

So there you have it...the first real ride. Nothing epic except that I didn't get hurt....The first time wasn't bad.

On the family front....opening baseball/softball day was Saturday afternoon as both Luke and Macy had about 5 hours were spent at some sort of ballpark...I love this time of year.

You guys have a good week...Run On...or should I say at this point Ride On and Play Ball!