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 29, 2011

It was the Week before Christmas...and all Through the Hospital...

The lights…the season…the excitement…and with three kids, Luke (10), Macy (8) and Hope (5)….the anticipation of Christmas held new meaning…TEAM ELLIOTT was expecting a new baby. We didn’t know if it’s a boy or girl…we never found beforehand with any of our kids….and so the excitement kept building. The baby was due December 27. On top of all the excitement of the Holiday Season…Gram (my mom) was coming to stay for a while…she would celebrate Christmas with us…and then help with the impending baby. Bren and I had everything in order…everything was planned out as much as we could….all the gifts…Santa Coming….Our traditional Christmas Eve dinner with our next door neighbors. Everything was set…ready to go….the Nursery…everything.

On Monday, Dec, 19, my sweet mother arrives at our house….safely making the journey from Levelland Texas…6 hours away. The kids were excited…Bren was happy to have the Holiday Help….all was right with the world as the December chill and rain was warmed by our Christmas Spirit in the Elliott Household. I had left to run some errands….at about 5:30 pm…when I get a call from Bren….”DAVE HURRY….YOUR MOM AS FALLEN AND IS HURT BAD!” Seven minutes later I was home…the rain outside had made our marble tile in our foyer extremely slippery…and Mom had gone out to get some things form the car….and slipped….fallen…she was screaming out in pain…911 had been called and even though the fire station is literally a ¼ mile from out house…it seemed like an eternity as I stood outside in the rain….making sure they knew which house as the Dusk of a December evening suddenly engulfed me.

Minutes later, I had seven paramedics in the foyer of my house…mobilizing as Mom was in horrible pain…they loaded her up with Morphine….so much so that by the time she reached the hospital, her memory of what happen was erased. X Rays showed a compound fracture…a clean break…just below the ball joint of the hip. The Orthopedic surgeon stated that due to her age…an internal medicine Doc would check out her see if she was good to go for surgery….a rod and pin would have to splice the parts back together….”We will operate tomorrow evening….” And so for that night she was to be in traction…and heavily medicated for the pain.

I have had long nights in my life…I have run all night long….I have stayed up all night on patrol in the Marine Corps…I have laid in mud puddles all night….shivering as the wet clothes clung to my frozen body….I have had some really miserable nights…but none more than the night of December 19 as I reclined in the chair that sat in the corner of that hospital room. As Mom went in and out of consciousness…screaming in pain…as the muscles would spasm…trying to hold the broken parts in place…the nerve endings sending excruciating signals to the brain that something was drastically wrong. I would shuffle to the nurses’ station…asking if they could do anything for the pain.

The sun also rises…but now with questions…We went from having an extra set of hands to help…to now being a caretaker…and Bren and I formed up TEAM ELLIOTT…prayed…and confirmed that we would press on. No member of our tribe is trivial…even Hope steps up when needed…helping with chores…with things that need to be done…and my wife is a pillar….a strong women…and the burden on my shoulders as a son…a husband…and father heavy…but not something to make me crumble…as I lived moment to moment. Bren had an appointment on Wednesday... then we would decided if inducement of the 6th Team Member would be placed on the roster.

The surgery of mom went well…repaired…and plans were set in motion to start the rehab. First in the hospital for 3 days….and then moved into a really good Rehab Hosptial.

Dr. Angela Angel had delivered the previous three of our tribe…her and Bren had actually grown close as friends…and she was bound and determine to deliver quatro. Wednesday’s appointment came and went with plans for a induction for the next day…December 22.

So just three days after mom had fallen…I was driving Bren to the Labor and Delivery. Keep in mind….a different hospital than where my mom was…45 minutes apart. My wife will tell you God created an epidural for a reason. Being the fourth kid…they only had to wave that pitocin under her nose to start labor contractions…and after only 3 pushes…we had a 7lb 15oz baby boy…Kyle Ryan Elliott…welcome. (Kyle from where the Aggies play football…”Kyle Field”…and Ryan for Nolan Ryan) Dr. Angel has a special place in our hearts…she and I will verbally spar…as she has a smartellec side to her…and she loves my wife…as they really are two peas in a pod…My mother in law had brought the other three of our tribe to meet Kyle….and Dr. Angel returns…to see them…to make sure all was good with Bren…

That evening I return to Mom’s hospital room….recovery was going a bit rough as she was nauseous…probably from all the pain medicine…I return home later that evening…with my three oldest…as Bren and Kyle were still in the hospital. The kids had gone to bed…and I sit there…exhausted…knowing that Ultra training had held me together physically over the last few days…but emotionally…I was done….I had gone from the lows to the highs…and back to the lows. I was trying to be a son…husband…father…and now…I would sleep…10 straight hours.

Let me close with these thoughts. Bren and I are surrounded by the best neighbors and friends. From people that would go sit with my mom in the hospital because I had to be elsewhere…people that didn’t know her. We have friends offering to watch our kids…we have people offering to fix meals….and even though they were also in the midst of their Holiday season too. I have learned some things. Sometimes…even though I don’t like to…I have to accept people that are willing to help…and during those times…God puts me in a position to have to accept it. I also know that when I am weak, He is strong! I know that TEAM ELLIOTT is one formable tribe…and when band together we all have our roles…even Hope…and eventually Kyle…for that is how we roll.

Next Christmas, I hope is bit calmer…in fact…I kinda hope it’s boring. I also hope you had a great Christmas…I pray that you are as blessed as we are.

And Kyle…welcome to TEAM ELLIOTT…this is one wild and crazy clan…so hold on tight to this white knuckled ride…for you will have one heck of a good time with this tribe…I PROMISE!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weathering the Seasons of Life...

Endurance…the time when pressing on is a test of one’s will…it requires mental toughness….sometimes pure stubbornness…and most of all….desire. Through the seasons of life there are times when the fall turns to the brutal winds of winter and the day to day grind becomes an endurance event. I began running December 2008….and through those years I have completed numerous ultramarathons. In fact, I went from the couch to my first 50 mile trail ultra marathon in 14 months. One big training cycle…from race to race…from ultra to 100 mile bike ride…marathons with 45 lb backpacks…5:00 AM workouts…all night runs.

On Friday night my wife asked, “Aren’t you excited to race tomorrow?” I look over and calmly replied, “No.” I didn’t even pack my race bag till the morning of the Rockledge Rumble 50K race. My meticulous nature of checking and rechecking was absent…I didn’t even charge my Garmin 405…and when I went to bed, I set my alarm and thought…”The only reason I am running the Rumble tomorrow was the commitment I made to do it.” Even though the Saturday race day was absolutely perfect fall weather, my heart and soul was weathering the frigid chill of a Blue Northerner.

An out and back 22 miler … I come into the aid station cooked. My body felt fine…at least like it would after 22 miles on a trail…my desire…gone…completely…I didn’t want to be out there….I didn’t want to be racing….and I sure as hell didn’t want to go back out for another 10 miles. My friend, Buddy Teaster, looked at me and said…you look fine…and I said…I am…but I don’t care. Buddy responds, “I don’t have anything on the aid station table to fix that…you have to want it…and you definitely do not have anything to prove.” Five minutes later I was in my 4 Runner and on my way home. I am not proud of that…but I simply didn’t care. .. that, my friend, is a dangerous place to be. Only 2 months previously had I ridden my best century on the hottest race day of record for the 30 year old Hotter N Hell bicycle ride. The “highs” of that accomplishment were absent to only be replaced by the doldrums of life.

The abyss of apathy indicates a time to step away for a time from the endurance realm….not permanently….but for now. I have something planned for April…a weeklong event that I will detail later…but for now…I don’t have an ultra planned for a year. That is on purpose. Fitness is still a priority…just not the 6 hours runs…the back to back long days….the 3:00 AM wake up calls.

Wide is the path that leads to destruction…but the rocky, narrow trail is where life is lived on the edge…and when the sun begins the decent over the horizon….and darkness engulfs you….you press on…a paradox...running the very narrow path of ultramarathons was placing me on a 6 lane expressway …Stepping away from running races that sometimes take you 10 plus hours…to reignite the burning fires of enjoying life again…to reevaluate my purpose and goals. Challenges in life buffet you…and God uses these incidences as heavenly sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges. This year has not been short of a little 60 grit…a refining of who I am as a person…to my family….to my friends. Bren, my wife, has been more supportive than I could have ever asked…and I watched her closely when I responded to her inquiry about me being excited to race on that November Saturday. Her eyes showed the grave concern of a coach whose team was in trouble. A week ago I went over my plans with her for what I intended to do on the endurance front…and she responds, “Any way I can help, let me know.” And that is how we roll. 2011’s refining fire has not been pleasant…but the dross is being removed. Bren and I have seen growth in our family…being pushed out of our comfort zone tends to do that. The night is long…and winter longer….but dawn is nigh….the the spring of life will renew…for these times are not near as sweet until compared to the depths of the wintery night….and so we press on.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Penn State...and Protecting Your Kid from Predators

I have a very simple question. Why is it that only after 2 weeks of game 7 of the World Series, did we hear Texas Ranger manager, Ron Washington’s pregame speech; when it took 12 FREAKING years to learn what went on at Penn State????

That’s right…it took less than 14 days to have the sacred boundary of what is between a manager and his team encroached. I listened to all 7 plus minutes of the recording. Sure…there is some foul language…but Ron’s speech loosened the team up, motivated them and even made me laugh….but there was nothing in there that broke the law. Ron did talk about that if Carp, the MF’er, threw the ball across the plate that they were to knock the s%@! out of it. I was upset when I heard that Wash’s pregame speech was leaked to the public…you see I still think that what is said in the board room, the clubhouse…locker room…squad bay of a Marine Corps Unit should stay there.

Ok…most of the time what happens there should stay there…unless the law is broken or if there is the most abhorred acts of sexual deviance to a minor that have occurred. I have read the entire indictment passed down from the Grand Jury on the Penn State and the Sandusky case. Reading that alone was enough to turn one’s stomach….but you do not even have to read between the lines of 40 accounts from 8 victims to wonder why anyone would allow a monster like Sandusky go free. It is unforgivable.

A second question to follow the first question is “How did so many people stay quiet on the matter?” Oh…people knew.

Let’s start from the beginning. Jerry Sandusky coached for Penn State for 32 years and was Defensive Coordinator for 23 of those years. In 1977, started a foundation called “The Second Mile” that served as a foster home for troubled boys and evolved to help children that came from dysfunctional and troubled homes. Victim 7, for the Grand Jury Indictment, gives details of deviant sexual behavior from Sandusky directed to him….behavior occurring in the mid 1990’s. The accounts from the 8 victims, all between the ages of 8 to 11, go on…in detail…about being forced to take showers with Sandusky…some are less intrusive…some accounts are of sodomizing rape…all sickening.

In March 1, 2002, a graduate assistant, Mike McQueary who was 28 years old then, entered a locker room and witnessed an act so heinous between Victim 2 and Sandusky, that he ran out of the room and called his dad. McQueary stated that he was in shock…distraught….and his dad told him to promptly report what he saw to Head Coach Joe Paterno. This was followed by meetings with Tim Curley, Penn State Athletic Director and Senior Vice President for Finance and Business Gary Shultz. The result? Curley, a couple of weeks later informed McQueary that Sandusky’s keys to the locker room were taken away and the incident reported to the The Second Mile. The incident was not reported to the police or child protective services, in what the Grand Jury termed a contravention of Pennsylvania law. Curley testified that the conduct was merely horseplay. Ok…my second home growing up was in a locker room. I know what horseplay is…and never at one time did I feel like I needed to call my dad because I was so distraught by “horseplay.” The grand jury didn’t buy it either. This just showed the tip of the ice berg of cover up…statements show that Sandusky was paid nearly $500,000 over 8 years by The Second Mile…over 10 years after the reports to officials surfaced of his sexual abuse of 10 year old boys.

In 1998, the year after Sandusky was named NCAA Assistant Football coach of the year, he was asked to step down. He retired…not to be picked up again by any other college. Penn State still allowed Sandusky use of facilities. This was apparently after allegations of taking showers with underage boys in the locker room facilities….he even admitted to it with the young boy’s mom via a wire tap.

The accounts go on and begin to read like a script of an episode of SVU – Law and Order….and the questions abound.

Why didn’t the 28 year graduate stop the sodomizing? Why weren’t the police called? Why didn’t any other colleges in the nation want to hire Sandusky in his coaching prime upon retirement and being named Assistant coach of the year? Why didn’t Paterno do more…or for that matter the AD…the President? Is climbing the food chain of college coaching more important than stopping the rape of a 10 year old boy? Is the money a top tier football program generates worth more…so they sweep scathing allegations under the rug and continue to allow the perpetrator access to the Penn State Facilities?

All of the above questions are rhetorical of course.

Although statistics are difficult to obtain in regards to child sexual abuse, it is thought that 1 in 6 boys and girls are abused sexually. The average age for the first abuse is just under 10 years old and Abuse typically occurs within a long-term, on-going relationship between the offender and victim, escalates over time and lasts an average of four years. 93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker, 34.2% of attackers were family members and 58.7% were acquaintances and only 7% of the perpetrators were strangers to the victim. The affects are long term for the victim…

The experience of sexual abuse for a child distorts her or his self-concept, orientation to the world and affective capabilities.

High rates of depression, anxiety, substance abuse, dissociative disorders, interpersonal dysfunction, sexual problems and suicidal ideation have all been identified to varying degrees among men and women who survive child sexual abuse.
Child sexual assault victims are 4.7 times more likely to be the subsequent victim of a sex crime.

So the question is, as parents, what we can do to prevent our own children of becoming victims of sexual abuse. As stated previously, most offenders are NOT strangers to the child.

At a very young 3, begin talking with your kids about not letting anyone touch them where their bathing suits covered…even if you knew that person. Our pediatrician always reinforced this concept with each clinic visit. One must understand that the offender begins to manipulate the child and typically preys on a child with insecurities and a derivative of a dysfunctional environment. This is not always the case… but the perpetrator will generally not go after a kid who has an air of confidence, whose parents are involved in their life. Let me restate…THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE…but by raising a confident kid lessens the probability of him or her being a potential target of a child molester as he will prey on a child that is easy to manipulate. We have taught our kids to run and tell someone if anyone tries to touch them…or ask them to undress. The foundation of our training is to instill in your child a since of security, well being…that they are confident in who they are…and by all means…stay active in your kids life….begin to look for personality changes and withdrawal from life of a preadolescent child.

One of my closest friends was brutally sexually molested when he was 7 years old. He is now 46 years old and over the last few years began the healing process of the abuse. The effects ran deep…and the denial even deeper. Runks Runkles is now open about what has happened. He has a ministry speaking to youth across America about his testimony. I talked to Runks…as he is known by…about the Penn State Mess. He responded, ” I'd like to have 5 minutes with Sandusky…bat in hand….as much as the next guy but more than that I want time with the victims…I know what they are going through and I want them to know the hope, peace, and freedom from the hell of sexual abuse that I have found.”

You can visit Runks’ site at: Here

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


It was the first trip to Arlington Stadium for me. I was six years old….my first Big League Game…the Texas Rangers against the New York Yankees. I sat there and watched Reggie Jackson for the Yankees take two pitches yard. The Rangers lost that game…but it was still magical…I was watching Major League Baseball. Growing up in small town West Texas, making it to a major league game was rare. Something to be cherished….something that only occurred every couple of years or so.

Hollywood has produced some of the best Baseball Movies…one of my favorites is Sandlot…about a bunch of boys living a summer on a sandlot baseball field and occasionally losing balls to a backyard with a big dog….guardian of all lost baseballs hit for a home run. I love that movie…not so much for the plot…although very good…no…I love that movie because that was how we lived. Every summer the Cherry Street posse of Teddy, Todd, Paxton, Jimmy, Jude, Me…and my kid brother Sam…played ball. In Teddy’s back yard…it was the biggest on the street. The summer sun would beat down…on a dusty and dry ground….it was a far cry from a perfect manicured diamond…the bases could not be evenly spaced due to oblique backyard geometry. Occasionally there would be disagreements…usually settled with the next pitch being a fastball thrown up and in...and lost balls….well we lost a bunch of them…the adjacent yard had a big German Sheppard named SHEP…and he always played finders keepers with anything knocked over the fence. Life when you are preteen in Levelland…at least on Cherry Street… was marked by sports seasons…and summer was sanctioned as BASEBALL season.

I liked all the sports…and played whatever was offered during the time…but baseball was held sacred. We all traded and collected baseball cards with each other. Jude would memorize the stats…and tell you who was batting 0.348 in June for the Royals. I remember when I had gotten Thurman Munson’s card…and I remember the day he was killed in a plane crash…he caught for the Yankees….and I caught for the Yankees…that would be the Levelland Little League Yankees.

Although I would play for the Reds, or the Astros…Yankees and the Giants…I would always keep up with the Texas Rangers…they were my favorite…and most summers there was not a whole lot to cheer for…they were usually out of Pennant contention by late July. One summer, I remember they were only 2 games out of first place to the Toronto Blue Jays and I talked my dad into shifting our vacation a couple of days so that we could watch the Rangers play the Jays…..soon after that my beloved Rangers began to drift where we were used to seeing them finish…at the back of the pack.

As life moved on…I continued to play ball…all the way through high school. Somewhere along the way the grave realization of playing in the big leagues wouldn’t be….and by the time I had graduated, I was more astute of keeping the pitch counts and determining how the hurler was pitching the batters than me being able to hit a change-up following a heater on the inside corner. But the love of Baseball never wavered.

In 1992 I was living in Dallas and working for a company as an intern. I scheduled my summer around when Nolan Ryan would pitch for the Rangers…and occasionally would buy a ticket on his scheduled day praying that the aging Ryan Express wouldn’t go onto the DL. Yep…I get to tell my kids that I saw Nolan pitch for the Rangers. They get a kick out of that when they see Nolan sitting with his wife Ruth during the televised Ranger Games. The day after Bren and I were married…we went to a Ranger Game before we left on a cruise. Yep…the Texas Rangers…moved to Texas from Washington DC in 1972…and I have to say that most of those years were kinda bleak…not Chicago Cubs bleak…but still bleak…I remember going to games in the early 00’s when they were 25 games out of First Place….and thinking…will we ever be good?

Tonight…in St. Louis…the Texas Rangers will take the field….in the World Series…the Fall Classic…for the second year in the row. Last night…with no baseball on the TV…I was pacing around…Bren looks over at me and says, “You would think you are scheduled to pitch tomorrow.” I grin…and say, "that would be cool"…I am like a kid….that same kid that played with his buds on that Sandlot field on Cherry Street….that same kid, watching Reggie Jackson from the Evil Empire take two yard. Yep…I am a kid again…made possible by a bunch of guys younger than me. PLAY BALL!

Friday, September 23, 2011

R.I.P. Carolyn

Well…this is the blog entry I never wanted to write…Carolyn went to be with the Lord yesterday.

So if this entry seems disjointed…well…it’s because it probably is…and I don’t care.

Carolyn and I went to Junior High...having class together. I still see her sitting there making everybody laugh around her…quick witted coupled with a quick tongue…and that is a great recipe for humor to ensue…we went on to High School…and really kept up with her through my brother…evidently there was a battle royale going on for first chair Saxophone in the Levelland High School Band...My brother would comment that Carolyn made him have to practice. Like many people that we come in contact with…after we crossed that graduation stage of High School…life moves on and the memories begin to fade. Well, fade a bit till Facebook became a staple in our lives and culture.

I still remember the day a couple of years ago when she posted that the fight was on…the fight against Breast Cancer. I don’t know why it struck me so hard when I heard that …you see my wife and I can literally name 10 people close to us that are fighting that same battle. But with Carolyn…it was different…she was my age…married with three kids. When you are 18 you are bullet proof…that stays constant till about age 35…then you may have only kryptonite that can slow you down. I don’t know if it was me coming to grips with my own mortality through someone I knew…fairly well….but that Facebook Post slapped me up side the head.

And so…I began to focus my endurance endeavors…of her inspiring me…and me honoring her…I ran the Bataan Marathon in the White Sands Desert carrying a 44 lbs pack…her name inscribed on the back of my hand. When I took up the bike, I dedicated my riding to her…I rode…I trained…I sweated…in honor of Carolyn…my first Century ride at the Hotter N Hell 2010, she and her awesome family graciously waited for me at the finish line…and so…the connection was always there…

So I write this today….with the heaviest of hearts…. a friend who inspired me be to be a better athlete, husband, dad....and person. Who's feistiness knew no bounds...who took the role of wife, mother and friend to its fullest...who's sarcastic sense of humor would crack me up...who's faith in Jesus Christ was your bedrock...I will miss you standing with your family at the finish are now in a glorious place with our Father...where there are no finish lines...

R.I.P Carolyn...and so I press On!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hot and Heavy Breathing...

We were breathing… hot and heavy….the whole group of us…sweat…and panting…hey…get your mind out of the gutter…it was the Legacy Cycling Team Sunday afternoon reunion ride….nearly 35 cyclist…only about 25 miles….so you knew that after the jovial first 5 miles of good natured ribbing and joking around…that the Barbaro Rocket would ignite the Tandem Afterburners…then Marcel would be out of the saddle…Jim would go into time trial posture…and the hammerfest would commence….up to 29 mph at times on the flat…not to mention climbing at 24 mph. Throw in the Windhaven climb….and if you did not go anaerobic more than a handful of times…then you either need to be cat1 racing or you where probably back picking scorched daisies on the side of the sweltering Texas Road.

I love that group…how no one gets left behind…how riders of all levels feel welcomed…it is just a good group of people anchored by Coach Jim…and the mother figure…Jackie. A shout out to our own Laura who is an IRONMAN…chiseled in Wale’s Granite as she completed it across the pond.

So…the running as increased…I ran 13 miles on Friday…most of it at night on a trail…and realize I have a long way to go…the cycling legs need to morph into the trail running legs…and so intense core and weights are still on the weekly agenda as we increase the miles…time spent playing in the dirt.

Sunday it was hot again…up to nearly a 100…and today we break the record of the most days over a 100 degrees…mark that as day 70. Despite that, you can tell fall is nigh…Hope played her first soccer game on Saturday…and both Macy and Luke are playing fall ball…Softball and Baseball respectively. The Fighting Texas Aggies are winning and the Dallas Cowboys are losing….and the Texas Rangers are coming down to the wire to win the division….all is right in the world…as TEAM ELLIOTT is marching on…with the new relief pitcher to arrive in camp in December some time….(hey...keep your Cowboy comments to yourself...I am a huge fan...just low expectations.)


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Vasectomy and Riding a Bike...FUN!!!

I must be an obsessive compulsive individual that crosses that line of being completely dysfunctional. I am deep into two subcultures that on a good day barely encroaches normal and on most days crosses over into stone cold section 8 insanity. Don’t try to figure it out…compare it to an onion with multiple layers…and the more you peel back in efforts to come to a nice packaged conclusion…the more you will cry. That is how I am…how God wired me…and if you looked at my IPOD, you would know that immediately. (from Susan Boyd to Metallica…and sometimes back to back on the same playlist.)

Most are aware of my endurance athletic endeavors…you can read about many of those here…running all night long…riding a bike a 100 miles in 100 degree plus heat…the list goes on. A much less publicized hobby that I have is one of Magic…prestidigitation…sleight of hand. It is going on 20 years now. Like everything else, when I entered into the mysterious world of legerdemain, I delved into it with all my being. I have a magic library that is worth a small fortune. There was a time in my life that I would practice 8 hours a day…(mainly college days…but don’t tell mom…she thinks I worked hard for that 3.0 GPA in Engineering.) In 2003, I entered a contest in the Texas Association of Magicians and won “The Best In Close Up Magic.” Before Kids, I contemplated about making a living as a magic performer…and after 2 weeks of doing 16 shows at Christmas time, realized I didn’t want that lifestyle…best decision I made…keeping it a hobby…and not a form of making a living.
Every Labor Day weekend, for the past 65 years, there is the Texas Association of Magicians Convention. It is one of the world’s more popular magic gatherings and always well attended. I have been going to it for the past 15 years. This past weekend was no exception as I made that pilgrimage to San Antonio to attend. After sitting through countless shows…some good…some great…and some horrible...the most enjoyable thing for me at this juncture is not so much the magic, but seeing friends made throughout the years and the catching up with what is going on in our lives…
This year, I was so excited to say that our 4th kid was on the way…and due sometime around December. More often than not, the inquiry of did I know what caused that was asked. At this point I would go into detail of one of my more infamous decisions made this year, which always receive and uproarious laughter….so let’s proceed with the story.

In July, Bren and I decided that 4 kids would be enough and that with her being pregnant now…would be a good time to get a vasectomy. I scheduled a consult with a well respected Urologist…don’t you won’t a doctor performing such a procedure to be VERY WELL RESPECTED? You definitely do not want him to have the shakes…but I digress. During the consult the Doc asked that if I was sure I was done having kids...and I respond with an air of confidence…that I was very sure that the world did not need any more little Elliotts. He went into detail of the procedure…the severing of the vas deferens through and incision made through the scrotum and then titanium clips clamped permanently on each severed end of the goods. (Insert joke here.) He then mentioned that he wanted to perform the work on a Friday and that I was to rest through the weekend….that there would be no working out for a week. Ok…don’t like not having to work out for a week…but hey…I can start back that following Saturday…that would give me a week to recover.

The grand day arrived…I stroll up to the Doc’s office and am ready to go. The nurse took my vitals and asked how I was doing. I replied that I was a little apprehensive. “Oh, the waiting is worse than the procedure…well kinda,” she replied. She chuckled. I didn’t think she was all that funny. She then told me to precede to the end room where no one can hear me scream…hahahahaha…she was a riot. I didn’t laugh.

The doctor began…and during the procedure I learned that he had gone to that lesser higher institute of learning in the state of Texas….The University of Texas…I believe I learned this while he was making incisions. At this point I asked the good Lord to forgive what I was about to utter as a Fightin Texas Aggie and said, “Right now Doc…I am the Biggest Longhorn Fan in the World.” The procedure went well…at least I guess it went well and during all this he reiterated that there was to be no working out for a week. I respond, “That’s fine. That gives me a week before next Saturday when I have a 70 mile bike race.” He stops mid suturing…and looks at me like I had lost it. “Really?” he asks. “Absolutely!,” I reply. He then ask if maybe we can make a compromise…that riding a bike like that only 7 days after a procedure like this will be not only painful….but with potentially harmful side effects. I mentioned that there was a 40 mile race option….and he reluctantly agreed that I should ride that one…but don’t over do it. He also mentioned that he put in additionally stitches to prevent the incision from reopening.

The following Saturday I climbed on the bike….at this point I should add that I had been “tender” all week and felt like someone had kicked me squarely “Down There.” Just let me cut to the chase…at mile 2…I could not have been more glad that he talked me out of 70 miles…and so for the next 28 miles I rode as hard as I could. Just sitting on that bicycle seat was enough to make me grimace. At one point I even checked to see if I was bleeding “down south.” At mile 30, I climb off my bike and felt like puking…not from an elevated heart rate…but more like “HOLY COW THAT HURTS Kinda pain.” I wrap up the 40 mile race…and thought to myself that I may have crossed that line of being tough…and well..not so smart.

I tell this story….multiple times during the convention…always to uproarious laughter….I laughed too…it’s hilarious now…at the time…not so much…

Monday, August 29, 2011

Hotter N Hell 100 Mile Cycling - 2011

I Fell Into A Burning Ring Of Fire
I Went Down, Down, Down
And The Flames Went Higher
And It Burns, Burns, Burns
The Ring Of Fire
The Ring Of Fire

Johnny Cash

In North Texas this has been the second hottest summer on Record…as I write this there has been 62 days over a 100 degrees…and the last week temps have been around 107 as a high. So when the forecast for Wichita Falls TX on Saturday registered a 110 F as a high…well I knew I was going to be getting my money’s worth in the Hotter N Hell 100 mile bike ride. In the end it was the hottest Hotter N Hell event in it’s 30 year history.

I decide to go down Friday evening, take in some Criterium races, pick up my packet and hang out with some of my buds from Team Legacy Cycling. In route, I make a quick stop at the Hospital to see my friend fighting for her life…battling cancer. Carolyn is a true inspiration. Last year her and her family waited for me at the finish line. This year that was to be impossible. I ask that you keep her in your prayers…I dedicated the race to her…and Jereme, her husband.

Saturday found us up bright and early as the race organizers offered a 6:15 start due to the extreme heat. So at about 5:45 we wheeled up to the start with Team Legacy. Jason and Amy had lined up and we lost them…but that might had been for the better as last year I go out blazing with Jason at 29mph for the first 30 miles only to make the last 30 miles a complete death ride…begging for a merciful end. So this year…I was found lining up with Jackie, Carl, and Amber…vowing that I would not go out like I did the previous year…thinking I was racing with a CAT 1 Team…and with this year’s heat…just didn’t want to do anything stupid.

The first ten miles are much like traversing a mine field where you play dodge the dropped water bottle…combine that in the darkness of the predawn hours and you have a whole new sport. The rule of the game is to escape the precarious 10 miles without any mishaps…translate crash. Thusly the speed of travel is sub par…but then again the goal is to escape mishap. So here I am with the four I lined up with…proceeding in the patient manner and going about 13 -15 mph. At mile 10 things open up and we begin to settle into about 20 mph…Somewhere along the line Jackie takes off and I lose sight of her in the mayhem of cycling humanity (keep in mind 14000 cyclist participated in this event.) At mile 20, I crossed that threshold in just about an hour and realized despite the first 10 miles…I was well on pace and didn’t burn up many matches. My plan was not to stop until mile 40…and at that point we got there in 2 hours and feeling good. Carl had been lost in the humanity somewhere along the way. Next stop was Hell’s Gate the 100K (62 miles) point…and things were going as planned…Amber and I had latched on to well paced groups and we begin the journey of getting in and out of these groups that suited the plan (ie…not CAT 2 racing)…but traveling between 18 and 21 mph. At about mile 65 we got into a 150 man peloton with the momentum of a freight train…going about 22 to 24 mph. It was a legitimate pace group with support vehicles and the like…and for the next 8 miles got swept along with only a soft pedal and immense energy savings. The journey continued…I thought back to last year…reminding myself how I felt at this point…and thinking that it was a death ride and became a test of will to continue. This year was a different story…feeling incredible…at times pulling an 8 to 10 man train at 20 to 21 mph…at the 80 mile point. At one point Amber mentions that 18 to 19 would be good…not the 20 to 21…fine…we pull back on the reigns and we proceed. Things are great…but the heat was ON…and it now felt like I was riding in a blast furnace. At mile 90 the heat began to take it’s toll. I was nauseous…positioning myself in the group…that if I puked, it wouldn’t get it on everybody. I was fine on the fitness end…not on the stomach end…I tell Amber to go on. I had pulled earlier…now it was her turn…she was cycling incredibly strong at this point…so the last few miles…with the patience of Job…pulled and encouraged…that’s what team mates do…

The finish line is always sweet…but this year…It was enjoyable.

After about 30 minutes of cool down…I was good to go. If I wouldn’t had been so nauseous my finish would have been stronger…but averaging about 18.5 mph for the entire 100 was not a bad go at it in this heat. Afternoon temps registered 122 F coming off the pavement. The MASH unit at the end looked like Grand Central Station and there were cyclist who accrued some frequent flier miles on the MEDIVAC Careflight. Hearing stories of cyclist being submerged in ice because of 102.5 body temps…and racing officials black flagging riders to get on SAG wagons.

I am so pleased, not only with my ride but the rest of Team Legacy…Jason burns up a sub 5 hour…and tells me that was sub par…whatever boss…I can’t keep up with him on my best day. Jackie and Amy had a stellar finish coming in just ahead of us. Carl finished in full order. Natalia’s perseverance and toughness should never be in doubt…as she completed the 100 miles at the very worst part of the day…and Amber…well Amber finished her first 100 miler…oh…by the way…it was only her 8th ride of the year…The rest of Legacy Cycling…Pat…the Barborao Rocket, Ken...Pyllis...Rana...Keith…all finished in great times…I love that Cycling Team…My brother rode a 450 mile staged ride this spring…and being the Pastor he is, tied cycling into a Bible Study…Ecclesiastes 4:9…a Good Lesson in cycling…in life…in marriage. My sweet wife Bren is a saint…she supports my endurance/endorphin fix. Saturday Morning I get a message…from her…”Ride Strong…Ride Fast…Love You!” I have to say that her support means more to me than having a perfect race. Hey Bren…”Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work.” You are a cornerstone that makes our family incredible…you are large part of why are kids are incredible…you make me a better person…and I love you.

Press On!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Life Moves Pretty Fast...

It has been a while…the water is travelling swiftly…and as that great philosopher, Ferris Bueller, stated, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So let us stop and look around for a moment…and give a brief update to Team Elliott…God is good…and has blessed us immensely. Last week Team Elliott saddled up and flew to San Diego California for a 6 day vacation…where the break from 40 straight days of 100 + degree Texas Weather was very welcome as the high temps in Southern California for our stay were 82 degrees.

We land…pick up the Ford Excursion at the rental place and then moved ever so swiftly to Marine Corps Recruit Depot…a return visit after graduating boot camp there in 1988. Not much has changed and I relished imparting this part of my past to my wife and kids. I think I am 0 for 3 in having any of them sign on the dotted line…maybe something about that DI going off on a recruit that deterred my kids wanting to spend 3 months there.

My wife had gotten a great deal at the W Hotel in San Diego…and it was a wonderful place to stay the first 2 nights. While in San Diego we went to Legoland and Mission Beach. The kids loved both places and for different reasons. After our second day we traveled into Los Angeles… we visited the Tar Pits where literally 1000’s of prehistorically animal skeletons were found. We also did the Hollywood walk of fame, the observatory in the Hollywood Hills and a Dodger baseball game. We rounded out the vacation with 2 wonderful days at Disneyland and California Disney…being a big kid…I love that place…and if you can’t be happy there…you are a true grouch and I don’t want you around me. Luke, Macy and Hope will ride anything they are tall enough to ride. After getting off the Tower of Terror in which the one drops 13 floors in an elevator in pitch black darkness only to be jerked back up the 13 floors to hang a bit and then drop….I ask my 5 year old Hope, “How did you like that.” Hope responds, “Awesome, but I had my eyes closed for most of it.” I reply, “That’s fine, it’s dark for most of it anyway.” Macy kept her eyes closed for most of the raucous roller coaster California Screaming….where I was giving her a play by play of going into the loops and down the massive drops…she was glad she rode it even though she couldn’t tell you what she saw…hahahaha. Luke will ride anything…and always holding his hands up…even when going inverted…crazy like his dad. Although not quite as swanky as the W Hotel, Anaheim’s Embassy Suites was better suited for our family as we had 2 rooms to spread out a bit.

Just hanging with my family makes me happy…I laugh a lot…we all laugh a lot…I can say that my kids truly care for one another…they look out for one another…and I have to be honest…they hardly every argue or fight with each other…oh, there is the picking on…and trying to make each other laugh…but not much dissension. My wife did a wonderful job of hammering out the details on this trip…and being 4 months pregnant, not once complained and always was up for the “fun.” All my kids adore her…and it speaks of who she is as a person, wife…and mother.

I trained a couple of days while on vacation…mainly cardio. This past Saturday I rode 80 miles with Team Legacy…and at finishing time it was already a bit warm at 102.
This coming Saturday is the Hotter N Hell 100 mile ride…and I will be riding for Carolyn again…she won’t be at the finish line as she was last year…she is in the ICU…pray for her and her family…she desperately needs the prayers…for this century ride will be rode with a very heavy heart.

So Press On!...but make sure you don’t miss anything…

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chapter One...Of The Book we all of my free time I have been writing a book. Which means I may be finished with it 4 years after I retire. is chapter one....and if there are any publishers out there willing to sign a big deal for me to finish it...I bet I could find time to get it done...hahaha. Enjoy.

The chartered Greyhound bus line was headed north, or in at least the general direction of north. James knew this because of two things: a.) He was going to the MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) located in Amarillo Texas and the general direction from Lubbock to Amarillo was due north. and b.) The shadows of the mesquite brush from the late Sunday afternoon Texas sun told him as much. Of the fourteen people on the bus, nine of them were going into the Armed Services…of course he was the only one to have the intestinal fortitude to sign on the dotted line for the freaking United States Marine Corps. The rest were pansies…either going into the Air Force, the Navy…or God forbid, the Army. James would be lying if he told you there was not an element of pride in that fact, but would equally be lying if he told you he was not flat out scared of what was to come….and thus he sat there silently, listening to the other recruits talking about all they were leaving behind or what was to be anticipated…Even one female Army recruit was going on about when she anticipated that her period would arrive in the timely manner during the second week of basic training. “For the love of God, do we really need to know that?!” thought James….”Really?”

The bus pulled into the Plainview bus station, it seemed like the bus was going to stop in every semblance of a town between Lubbock and Amarillo…even if it had only one stop light and it was a flashing light, making the normal two hour drive time nearly twice that. James was not happy about that fact. Mainly because he was having to listen to the gal, who had given precise scheduling of her menstrual cycle, had now moved on to the topic of her dysfunctional boy friend, who was still considered a junior in high school despite being 19 years old. James then pointed out to the gal in the most sarcastic manner possible that even though Johnny hadn’t graduated high school, he is old enough to go into the Army without his mommy’s permission. The snide comment, at that point, only got a string of expletives thrown his way by the gal. James was unfazed by that as he gazed out the bus window, thinking of nearly absolutely nothing except of how barren this land was.

He had grown up in west Texas, a small community of just over 10,000 people, and he always wondered what kept people around this place. Why didn’t they move to a more lively place? Since he could remember, James felt like living in West Texas had isolated him from the rest of the world. Being a young boy, during the later years of the cold war, there was plenty of talk about when the Soviets would bomb the place. James didn’t worry about any of this talk. In his simple opinion, he had two thoughts. The first was that some of this country already looked like a nuclear winter had blown through and the second was, “Why would the Soviets want to waste a warhead on this place.” This bombing thing had all been a moot point since 1994 with the fall of the Communist Soviet Union anyway and now since they had shown Hussein who was boss in 1991, there really weren’t any known enemies to be concerned about.

James’ mom was not all that excited about his signing up for the Corps. In fact, he had to actually fudge some responses to the medical questions on the application. There was that history of asthma question, but then again the recruiter had coached him on which box to check. All this didn’t sit well with his sainted mother, a staunch Southern Baptist woman. Couple this with the college applications that had been accepted, some that even came with bags of scholarship money, and momma had different ideas on what her oldest baby should do with his life…and being a Marine was nowhere on that list! Because James had scored exceptional on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), he was given an opportunity to go into any field of choice that the Marine Corps offered. Much to the disgust of the recruiter, James had voluntarily selected light infantry. Even after being questioned and harassed by the recruiter to go into something that would better be suited for the “Big Brain that the good Lord saw fit to give you” and maybe select something like intelligence, or aircraft mechanic…or anything…but not infantry! After three different times of asking the question, the recruiter finally gave up and mumbled that maybe James wasn’t so smart after all and deserved going into the infantry. Momma didn’t like this infantry thing either.

The one thing that Momma did like about this whole plan was that James at least would be in the Reserves, and that this would allow him to go to college while fulfilling his obligation as one of Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children, a term affectionately used by the recruiters after the ink had dried on the contract. It referred to being a distinguished member of donning the Eagle, Globe and Anchor in the USMC. Being a Reserved meant that James was required to take part in training one weekend a month and two weeks a year, usually during the summer. This would fit quite nicely into going to college to getting a degree and although Mom still was not happy about all this, being a Reserved made it easier for her to stomach. James’ father was supportive of any decision that his son made. This didn’t sit well with mom either. “What if he wanted to go off and join the circus?” she would ask, “Do you support that too?” It didn’t matter much now…those good byes were an hour and half ago…and strangely enough seemed liked years to that Greyhound bus rolled on down the road.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Heat Related Ramblings...and Don't Tell the Wife...

I was born and raised and TEXAS. So with that said….I dig the heat…usually…but this year it is relentless. It seemed to go from a comfortable 76F to 101F over night…and it hasn’t let up. We are now on day 18 of 100+ temps. Oh it cools off at night…well, not really…usually hovers around 88 to 89 for a low.

But when you grow up in TEXAS…you can’t use the heat as an excuse for not training. This past weekend I rode 65 miles with Team Legacy…a beautiful country ride….you can literally ride for hours without unclipping. At one point around the 50 mile mark, I stop at an intersection to allow the team to regroup. It was nearly 100 F and the heat coming off the asphalt was unreal. Without having the air move across you when you pedal…standing still made me thankful that we were nearly done! My bud Chris and I hammered out another 30 mile early Sunday…and were done before 0800. But there was a problem…a real problem Sunday Morning.

My wife is HOTTT….I mean other than being a bombshell of sexiness…which she is!….I mean literally HOT! When I got up at 0530 on Sunday, I realized the A/C wasn’t cooling! I texted my A/C guy…and to cut to the chase…Sunday it got up to 90 degrees downstairs in our house. I hear that being Hot and 4 months pregnant is not a good combo…at least my wife tells me that…We’re good now…but watching that Tour de France while sweating wasn’t too bad…just don’t tell my wife that. (OF course this is coming from a guy who told his wife during contractions of our first born, “Honey, you’re going to have to suck it up…it’s going to get worse till they get you an epidural. “) We laugh now…but when I said that…it didn’t come across as funny as I intended it to….come on that is, like…really funny….ok, not so much.

Speaking of HEAT…BADWATER 135 was run this past week…you know….the 135 mile foot race through death valley with 120F ambient air temps….and 8,500 ft elevation increase. I have two buds that ran and finished the darn thing…North Texas’ Rochelle Frazuer in 39hrs 30 min….and Virginia’s Brenda Carawan in 36 hrs 45min.

So until next time…stay cool…and for crying out loud….don’t tell your wife to suck it up during birthing contractions…only by the Grace of God did I live to tell about it….and then again….I still may be on borrowed time.

Press On!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Wheel in the Sky Keeps on Turning

I looked over at Jim…we were cruising at about 20mph on a chip sealed road…a road that rattles the fillings in your teeth. Jim would have none of it and he drops the hammer…and then there goes Jamie. She had been racing in Criteriums…and was stronger than last year. I follow…out of the saddle…shifted to the highest gear possible…the 54 was cranking…up to 26 mph…the engine revved up…and despite being only half done at 30 miles…I was wanting off this chipped sealed road as much as the next guy…or at least as much as the guy and gal just in front of me. A couple of miles later we turned off to a more pleasant ride and brought the respiration rate down a bit…I wondered how many matches I just burned…that would be revealed soon enough in the temps approaching a 100 F…And the Wheel In the Sky Kept on Turning.

Oh the Texas Heat…this summer seems to be more stifling than most. Last week I had taken Luke to Webelo Scout Camp at Camp James Ray on the edge of Lake Texoma. For three days of tent camping, the heat continued to be brutal. Luke didn’t seem to mind…and for the 3 mile afternoon run on Thursday…it was hot….but my body had adapted to running in these high temperatures. Luke has come a long ways in just a year. I reveled in watching him joke around and converse with new friends….watching how he handled himself around the older 19 and 20 year old Staff members…the quick wit. But what I really enjoyed was how he was responsible for getting what he needed and scheduled for earning the activity badges that he needed to earn. He was on auto pilot and took care of business with minimal input from me…I have every bit of confidence that he is ready for Boy Scouts…and Wheel in the Sky Kept on Turning.

So on Saturday morning I had returned from the furnace of Camp James Ray. Before church on Sunday, I go out for a solo ride of 35 miles or so…including a great climb on Windhaven Hill. On Monday July 4th, here I was for a 55 mile ride or so with Team Legacy…to make it 90 miles in two days. After the cancelled Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim run in May, I had just maintained a general sense of fitness. There had been no training cycles…no intense 8 hour aerobic runs…I lamented to myself after our little chase group of 3 breaking away on the chipped sealed road that I was nowhere near where I was last year….you remember right? The 50 mile ride on fixed gear bike followed by a 50K trail run that night…all night! In May and June I had been doing weight workouts with Amber who had trained for her last body building show in June. She was riding for the second time this year, keeping up with the big boys. My endurance was not what it was. I had ridden twice with Plano Bicycle Association….with DB1…63 miles…and my buddy Chris Howsner and I had made it a June Sunday morning ritual to have a testosterone filled ride of 30 miles before church. He had an epic ½ Ironman performance in April. That really was the crux of my training in May and June…I was still non committal to the Hotter N Hell 100 mile ride in August…going through the motions….and the Wheel in the Sky Kept on Turning.

Monday morning I had unload my bike…Team Legacy was leaving from Coach Jim’s farm. His lovely wife, Sara, comes up to me and says, “congratulations are in order for you Dave, Is it a boy or girl?” Yep…for the first 15 miles of the ride that tended to be the conversation…at least the conversation directed to me from the gals. “No we don’t know the sex of the baby…Team Elliott never finds out, that’s how we roll.” “Yep this is number 4.” Jackie, mother of 4, reminds me that our wait just went up about 20 to 30 minutes at restaurants. “Luke is 10, Macy …8 , and Hope…5…they are all excited!” “We’re due in December sometime.” …and thus the conversation went. The social aspect of the group ride, at least in the early miles is something I really enjoy. Only during end of the ride, dehydrated a bit, and wanting to be done do those conversations seem like long ago. It is a reflection of the past and of things to come. The excitement of a new life being brought into the fold of Team Elliott…and the knowledge that the Good Lord has blessed us…of something we thought may never happen. It shows two things: God has both a plan and a sense of humor. The heat mirage of the road indicates that it is to be another scorching Texas summer afternoon…and we pull into Jim’s drive way. A really good country ride with no stop signs…no read lights…And the Wheel In the Sky Keeps on Turning!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Three Are Not Easily Broken...

In 2006 I watched the Mavericks crater… they were up by 2 games…and in game 3 of the NBA Finals the Dallas Mavericks had just lost a 20 point lead and the game. The Miami Heat went on to win 4 straight games and ultimately the Championship Series. Being a sports fan, that one hurt….until this week, whenever I would think about that game, I would still wince in anguish.

All those basketball demons of 2006 have been vanquished into the pit of hell. With 30 seconds left in game 6 of this year’s NBA Finals, Dirk Nowitzki stared up at the clock and realized that his dream of being a champion was about to come to fruition. The nation looked on…the polls showed that 84% of the NBA fans were cheering for the Mavs. Yes, those Mavs…Dirk a 14 year veteran…Jason Terry….Jason Kidd…38 years old who had to have a walker to get on the court….you know…a bunch of “washed up has beens”...the Maverick TEAM.

If you watched any of the ESPN coverage you realized that the national media was more interested in the Miami Heat…only last summer did we all tune into the ESPN show, “The Decision.” The show where Lebron James in all his hallowed greatness announced to his kingdom, us mere mortals and peasants, that he would bless us all by “Taking his talents to South Beach .” It was orchestrated…Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh…and now “His Hallowness King James” were to be the 3 head monster that was to bring not one,…not two…how many? 8?…yes at least 8 championships. At least that is what “His Holiness” predicted. Three of the most talented professionally basketball players were going to be on the same team. How could anybody beat them?

Contrast that with Dirk Nowitzki. Just like His majesty Lebron, Dirk was a free agent…with the ability to name his price…put himself on the open market…pretty much go where he wanted to go…and demand a crazy amount of money. Dirk re-signed with Dallas…and outside of the metroplex it went unnoticed for the most part…there was no ESPN special…no resounding trumpets….no big party at the American Airlines Center like the one in Miami showcasing the big 3. Dirk simply said the Maverick organization and Dallas in general had been good to him…and this was where he wanted to be...where he wanted to play. Dirk has no manager…no agent….does no endorsements. Dirk doesn’t trash talk…he doesn’t showboat...character counts.

In the fall of 2010, the Dallas Mavericks began the season…they had their ups…and downs…and were given a long shot to make it to the finals. They added Tyson Chandler to the roster. They toiled away…began to develop as a team…began to sharpen one another…to bond…as a TEAM.

Unless you live in a hole in the land of the hobbits, you have to know that a bunch of old guys who played as a team, beat the chosen 3 who had guaranteed 8 NBA titles. The Mavericks had 9 players that made significant contributions in the finals. Cardinal drawing a charging foul on Wade…JJ Berea driving a stake through the Heat’s heart with a crucial 3 point shot at the 4 minute mark in game 6. Dirk in his own words, was out of rhythm in the first half of game 6 hitting 1 of 12 from the field. Jason Terry and Berea pick up the slack nailing shots from down town....and we can't forget the elder statesman, Jason Kidd, running the offense, the second oldest player to ever win a title.

My son, Luke, came into the room to watch the Mavs close out the championship. I look over to him and ask, “Why did the Mavs beat a team that had more raw talent?” “Dad,” he responds, “The Mavs are a team.” It’s cliché…you hear it when you play your first game when you’re 5 years old. But it’s true…not only in the NBA Finals…but in life.

I have written about my brother riding 360 miles on a bicycle with a team. On morning he, being a pastor, was asked to give a devotional. He turned to Ecclesiastes 4…specifically verses 9-12…v.12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” A week of cycling will help you quickly realize that 2 can travel faster than one…drafting saves up to 30% energy.

King James should have lent his ear to King Solomon for Solomon understood a simple principal. Miami's Big 3...snapped like a chicken bone...3 individual strands...broken.

Teamwork...coming together as one...It works in a marriage…it works in training…it works in an Ultramarathon crew…it works in cycling…it works in the NBA. To have someone there to pick you up when you fall…it’s Jason Terry draining the 3 pointer when Dirk is out of rhythm…

…in basketball….in life.

Press On!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Balance of Life...

Balance Grasshopper!....Balance! My friend John says….clean living and moderation in all things. My personality does not know moderation. I never have done drugs…never been an alcoholic…but I am here to tell you that if I didn’t have intense focus on other things…who knows…but for the Grace of God go I!!! It is just how I am made…and my wife Bren knows this…

I have to be honest; the past month has not been great for me. I continue to train…but have backed off…nothing more than 2 hours at a time. Started riding my bike…continued with boot camps…training on weights…but there was always angst. Mentally, I didn’t have it in me to run all night long if my son had an early Saturday morning baseball game….Running or riding for 5 to 6 hours. The paradox? I didn’t want to train for an ultra….and I didn’t give myself permission not to train for an Ultra Endurance event. I remember sipping a cup of coffee one Saturday morning. I should have been enjoying my kids…and their upcoming events, baseball and softball games. My wife comes out and looks at me and knew immediately that I had a war waging inside…I was stewing…mad….frustrated! Over the past 3 years, Saturday morning was hard corps training time. I loathed where I was!

The following week, I got an email from a bud…it was a partial list of all the events I have done in 3 years. At the end of the email my friend basically said….you need to chill for a few months…really! “For over 3 years you have pushed your limits were most cannot comprehend…with a family….and a packed schedule.” Within 3 days I had 2 other of my inner circle tell me the same thing. I came into the gym at 5:15 one morning, and a training buddy looked at me and said, “Give yourself permission to take time off from endurance events.” “You don’t have to stop completely…just enjoy some time off from the crazy stuff for a period ….till it becomes fun again.”

The past 2 weeks I have had a peace about all that. Oh, I have climbed back on the bike…and we have hammered some 40 mile rides out…but nothing over a couple of hours. I have started studying magic again (slight of hand.) I have started writing…and reading. I got my spiritual life back on track a bit. I have focused on my kids more…working with them on their baseball/softball skills. I have spent more time goofing off with my 5 year old, Hope. My wife and I have always made it a priority to go out…and that has been fun…and I am content. No angst. I believe God uses others in your life to show you things…and I am thankful for buds who help me grasp what I really need to know.

So what’s in the future? I honestly don’t know…I probably will ride Hotter N Hell 100 miles again this year…but who knows.
Press On!

Monday, May 16, 2011

What is Next?

Saturday morning I woke up at 6:00AM…grabbed my Nook…started a cup of Coffee…turned on Sports Center….and pondered things in the still quiet of the morning before the chaos of the Elliott Cat 5 hurricane awoke from peaceful slumber. Macy had a softball game at 9:30, so I had talked myself into taking it easy…and not get up at an ungodly hour to go run. By 7:00am, I was stewing…and although things were peaceful on the home front, my mind was reeling…thinking…my spirit was anxious. It was a total paradox within my soul. I had no motivation to go run…and yet I was self loathing for not lacing up any running shoes. I was restless…and angry…more with myself. For 3 straight weekends in a row, I had done nothing on the exercise front…mainly from sickness. When my wife woke up she could tell things were angst ridden in my psyche. She looked at me and said…you don’t have to go run tomorrow…but do something…you are miserable.

Why the misery? Because I really don’t know what to do next….what I want to do next. The cancelling of the Grand Canyon run had done more to me emotionally than I wanted to admit. I wasn’t pouting or feeling sorry for myself…but I lacked any motivation to get out and train for another ultra.

Macy played a great game…she has laser focus for an adult…let alone an 8 year old. When she steps up to bat…she is intent on hitting the ball…and on Saturday’s game went 2 for 3…and got robbed on the third at bat.

Before the game, Bren tells me…get on Stubhub….and get tickets for you and Luke to go to the Texas Ranger’s for the Saturday afternoon’s sold out game. The weather was perfect…72F….clear skies…just Perfect! I love the Ballpark in Arlington. I look over at Luke, my only son, eating his ice cream and ask, “Has it been a good day?” He responds between bites of chocolate mint, “Dad, more than you know!” All of a sudden, my morning workout didn’t matter a lick…not one bit.

That evening, I was watching to New York Yankees vs Boston Red Sox…and Jorge Posada had pulled himself out of the line up only an hour before the game. Normally that would amount to a hill of beans when a player does that…but not here. First it’s the Yankees…and everything makes headlines. The crux…Posoda who was batting a 0.180 was moved to 9th in the order…yep…5 time all star…instrumental in all 4 World Series Championship wins and 5 time Sliver Slugger Award winner was getting old…and his skills seem to be slipping. I think that is the hardest part of being an aging athlete…knowing when to say when…and frankly, Posada is struggling with that.

I related to the Yankee catcher that night. No…I am not an elite…and no, I don’t have to say that I quit…but that morning I was struggling with what to do next…in training…in endurance realm...and yes I was frustrated.

Sunday, I vowed not to sleep in. I lined up a buddy that had just finished a ½ ironman in epic fashion in April. “Chris,” I asked, “What are you doing tomorrow morning at 6:00AM?” “Let’s get in a strong 40 miles on the bike,” I add. So on Sunday…we pounded at 40miles…it was literally the 2nd time I had been on the bike since last Augusts’ Hotter N Hell 100 mile ride. The first 20 out was strong…18 to 22 mph…I didn’t eat anything before or during the ride and the last 8 miles back in were not good….like bonking not good. But when it was over…I felt good to have gotten out on the road.

I still have no idea what to do next…I really don’t know what I want to do next. I at least plan on staying in Marathon shape…but right now…going out for a 2 to 3 hours on Saturday is really all I need…or want for that matter.
Till then…we will enjoy Macy playing softball and Luke playing baseball…and the Rangers…well lets hope they get things shored up...relief pitching and the bats need to wake up.

Press On!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What Is In a Name?....That Would Be the Elliott Name! we go with something quick. My only sibling and younger brother is a cyclist...and a full time pastor. So this week he is riding from Beaumont to Texarkan...375 miles on his raise money for Hunger.

Yep...another endurance event....5 days. I talk to him every day this week...I mention, "think about those guys in the Tour de France!" His comment....doping or not they are some of the best athletes on the planet.

This event is tough for the sole purpose of the day to day hammering of the body. It's not like an 24 hrs your done...but more like a mind thing....of climbing back on the saddle the next day....whether you feel like it or not.

You can follow him here: Sammy's Blog

and if you want to donate for the cause...go HERE and put it in Sammy Elliott's name

Press On!...and BIKE OUT HUNGER!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Hard Decision!

I woke up Friday morning, April 29, thinking to myself, “This time next week I will be on a plane to Arizona…to Run that Big Hole in the Ground.” The Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim…start on the south rim at Bright Angel Trail…down the 4500 feet….across the suspension bridge at the Colorado River…up to 5200 Feet…along the North Kiabob Trial to the North Rim…touch the fence….and come back…all 48 miles…at one time. I was also thinking to myself, “Did I eat something bad as my stomach was aching a bit.

So on that Friday, I go on to work…come home and get ready for the weekend…a Y Princess camping weekend with my 8 year old daughter Macy. We were staying at a place where a lady insisted we call her Muddy and who ran a water ski camp for 30 years. That ought to tell you that the cabin was on the lake…and lake activities were required. We fished…and Macy caught a fish…and Muddy taught Macy how to water ski. There were two boats going…one skiing…one tubing…and Macy did both…and I was told by another dad on the boat that Macy was fearless…at the got the boat up to nearly full speed with her signaling for “FASTER” while hanging on for dear life to that tube. Her dad went tubing as well…and when the 25 year old, alpha male from that lesser Texas university whose mascot looks best served on a plate as a medium rare steak for a boat driver learned that the 41 year old, slightly cocky dad with a mouth was an Aggie…did everything to shake me off that tube…at one point another Dad said I was about 4 foot airborne. When I climbed back into the boat…he grinned and said, “Not bad old man.” Overall it was a great weekend…with my daughter…and bunch of great guys with their daughters.

Saturday my stomach still continue to hurt…and the pains were coming more frequent and with more intensity. I wasn’t nauseous or had bowel issues…just pain. By Sunday when I woke up…ready to pack up and go home…I now had gone from mild discomfort to actual pain…and on the 2 hour drive home downed an entire bottle of Pepto Bismol. I get home…unpack…shower…and went to bed…now the pain was constant…and 2 hours later, texted my boss saying I would be going to the doctor on Monday morning. Two hours after I penned that text…I couldn’t stand up straight for the pain…and told my wife to get me to the ER. Four hours, a CT Scan and two shots of narcotics later, I learned that I had severe inflammation in the small intestine…probably caused by a bacterial infection. The doc prescribed 2 antibiotics…and I left the ER thinking that after a couple of days on the antibiotics I will be good as new…in hindsight that was probably the pain killers talking.

I stayed home all day on Monday and rested. I told my wife that by Wednesday I would assess how I felt…after all on Saturday I was to go for a little run in Arizona.

Let me take a moment here and express the gratitude I have for my wife. She looked at me and said if there is anything she can do to get me ready for the trip let me know. She said that she trusted my judgment completely…and whatever decision I made, she would support me completely. That’s a good woman.

Wednesday rolled around…and I was getting better…but now I needed to start thinking about running 48 miles the coming weekend…and access my body…honestly…with my mind…not my heart. I was far from 100 percent…this was evident out at Luke’s baseball practice that evening. I knew what it was to be…and I despised it. You have to get into the psyche of an endurance athlete to completely understand. A person who sacrifices so much to push his body…many times past discomfort into pain. Where tenacious, bull headed determination when most others have decided, “NO MAS!” is more common than not. The hours in the weight room...literally thousands of reps…waking up at the most ungodly hour to go run…ticking off the miles…the hours…the back to back long days…the tearing down of the body…the building up of the mind…where quitting simply isn’t an option.

I made a handful of calls to some of my inner circle…all endurance guys…and received confirmation. It didn’t sweeten the bitter pill.

So here I sit. I just prayed for Marlee, Jenn, Char, and Fred…they are probably over half way…descending down the North Kiabob…reveling in the glory of the creation.

It was the right decision…I don’t have to like it…the last thing I wanted was to have things go south…being medivac’ed out…ruining the trip for everyone else…and never living it down with my bud Clive. Clive told me, he was putting it on the calendar next year…the trip to the Grand Canyon…and Marlee told me if I run it…she will run it again too. Those are good friends. My wife, Bren, has already started looking at dates…did I tell you that she is a good woman?

Press On!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Three weeks out to R2R2R...

Ok…sorry for the delinquency in writing…and blogging….but right now Life is an Ultramarathon event.

Two weekends ago (wow…it has been a long time since I have blogged), was a “recovery” weekend. I do that every 4th weekend…after 3 Long and sometimes back to back long run weekends. I had built up to 32 miles over Saturday and Sunday….and I have dropped the bike. Frankly, my poor performance at Grasslands 26.2 lit a fire underneath my butt.

So…on April 1-3, we had a Cub Scout Campout…and with me being the Cubmaster…feel some sort of responsibility of making sure everyone has a good time. Fortunately that fell on my recovery weekend and I was able to get an easy 10 mile run early Saturday morning on a “new” trail.

So….the intensity is up…every workout with a specific purpose. One workout during the week is a bootcamp….and Allie keeps the heart rate up and keeps it core intensive…and that is the purpose…strong core! Two weekly runs….on is a hill repeats…5 to 6 miles worth…the heart rate is high… The other run is to engage some speed…either 5 miles or so of Tempo or interval training. The day before Saturdays’ long run, Amber hammers my legs in a weight workout with nearly 1200 reps…squats, lunges, leg presses…leg extensions…and then back to back long runs…Saturday and Sunday. This past weekend was a 22 mile day on Northshore trail. It got a bit warm and I dialed it back. I try to keep my heart rate below 150 bpm to train and enhance my body for metabolic consumption of fat as the main fuel source. Sunday was a 16 mile day done on the road….just to hammer out a consistent pace and to get it done before church...for a 38 mile weekend....and very little soreness on Monday. It is amazing how the body can adapt. Over the next week or so...I will increase the weekend milage...up to nearly 45 miles and the weekly up to nearly 70 miles.

Soccer for Luke has wound up….and now we have Baseball for Luke and Softball for Macy…and of course all the spring activities from School….so I am literally going from one event to another with no break on the weekends. My bud Paul Tidmore calls this true Ultra Training…because after a 4 hour run…you still have to carry on like there was nothing to it.

So….that leaves us with just over 3 weeks out to the Grand Canyon R2R2R run….I feel ready…for an Epic Adventure with some really great People….Press ON!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A White Knuckle Ride...or What Team Elliott Calls Normal

Buckle up…because here is the cliff note version of the white knuckle ride of Team Elliott on the previous weekend….and could be any given weekend.

Friday up bright and early for a 0530 leg work out the weights…I added up 1200 reps of squats, leg extension, leg curls, more squats…lunges…and for the rest of the day Friday felt much like Bambi did on Ice… Left work a bit early so Luke and I could go camping…it is almost time for him to cross over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts and Troop 380 had invited us on the campout. We leave a little before 1800 on Friday (6:00PM for you air force types) and we are off to Camp Wisdom. We set up camp….and finally hit the rack at nearly 2300 (11:00PM for you army types) I am up at 0500 (5:00 AM for you Navy Squid Types) to get in 10 miles of running before reveille sounds at 0700 (that is 0700 for you Marine types ;-)) The 10 miles of running was a bit painful due to the extreme intense weight workout the previous day…but all by design. We had Breakfast and carried out the plan of the day for Troop 380. Luke absolutely loved the troop and was highly impressed. It is truly boy lead and I was really impressed with the older scouts…they really had their act together.

We break camp and saddle up at about noon…to get back by 1500 (3:00PM) for Luke’s Soccer game…and then after that I had squid duty so Bren could go with her mom on some high fluting event at Glenn Eagle Country Club.

On Sunday I am up at 0430 to knock out 20 miles on the trail. The legs were dead…really dead…but I kept a good pace…the body adapts and the mind overcomes….and about 4 hours later…I am back at the house cleaned up and ready for church. After Church….I had a quick lunch and then Macy and I head out for a Y Princess outing at Heritage Farms in Plano Texas. Macy had a blast with her friends and us dad’s had a good time with no shortage of smart elleck (how do you really spell that?) comments.

I had to have Macy back home by 1600 (4:00 pm for country club types) so that she could get to AWANAS at Church. Luke had soccer practice that I had to get him to at 1630….but alas it was cancelled…which really suited me just fine…at about 1700 (5:00PM for you civilian types) I finally got to sit down…for the weekend….so what did you do this weekend? Press On!

Post Script: Last year I rode for Carolyn Boyd…the LIVESTRONG campaign for people battling cancer. Right now her situation is grave…she is seeking alternatives that are real aggressive since her prognosis is grim. This burdens my heart more than I can tell you…Please keep Carolyn, her 16 year old daughter, her 2 younger sons…and her husband in your prayers.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A few of my favorite things...and a marathon to boot.

You know how Oprah does a favorite things episode?...and she gives away all that stuff….ok…I only know about this because of my wife tells me about that. Anyways….this post is about a few things that s that I use and think they are incredible….They are typically not mainstream….and sometimes hard to find. I don’t go with low dollar….but more quality. Two of these companies are small and you cannot find any of their stuff in retail shops but only on the internet. I endorse all these products and do not receive payment from any of them….except one will pay me a small commission if you tell them you learned about it from my blog...and I will get to that in a moment. And by the way...unlike Oprah...I can't give you all this stuff...;-)

First…my Sanuk’s. I have blogged about them before, so I won’t go into detail on these…but suffice it to say…they are absolutely the most comfortable shoe I have ever owned…I wear them to church and really do not care what people think….and they are the best to wear after a long run. Cost: $55-65.

If you follow my blog….you know that I own a Nook. When perusing the internet for Nook covers, I came across some designer leather covers that cost nearly $200.00. yikes….that is a bit steep….like more than the Nook steep. Then I came across Oberon Design. These people are artisans…handmade from leather…wonderful pieces of work…without the $200 price tag. More like $75.00.

Ok…I have had one of these for nearly 5 years….and you can find them in high end camping/outdoor retail. The Tilley Hat…made in Canada…many styles and such but I have the T3 Cotton Duck hat….quality…awesome design with the snap up brim….it floats for you water people…I have the khaki color…and it looks as good today as when I bought it….I do wash it often. Cost - $69.00.

This last item is my favorite…bar none. I love the story behind the company…I love the quality…they do not cut corners so don’t expect the price tag to either. It is a Saddleback Leather Product. Their tag line is “Your kids will fight over it when you’re dead.” It comes with a 100 year warranty…yep…that is ONE HUNDRED YEARS! I bought the chestnut color large briefcase pictured below. It is handmade of full grain leather…lined with pigskin. It is absolutely gorgeous. When I am old and decrepit…I want this bag to whisper of adventures of life that we went on together. It is tough enough to go anywhere. This is the one company that will give me credit if you tell them you found it here….I got other stuff I want to buy from them…do some research like I did and you will find this Texas Company and incredible quality. On a sidenote…these bags were given away in the “gift bags” for the MTV awards in 2008. Price for my bag…$555.00.

On the training front/endurance front…Ran the Grasslands trail race this past weekend. I only ran the marathon...2 years ago I ran the 50 mile race...and this weekend was a far cry from that success. The race was least for this time of the year...and my buddy Clive insisted that we run together...and we did for the first 5 miles at a pace that sent my heart rate into the stratosphere...and I went ahead with it knowing I would pay the piper...and I did at about mile 18. I went into this race as a training run...and not until it was over did I realize that I had only run 3...yes 3 times since we have gotten back from Chicago in late February. I haven't been putting the miles in...and as of tomorrow that will least for the next 6 weeks. Time to put the bike on the rack and get back on the "running" road. So there you are...a little over 5 hours of tough love inflicted on myself...This was the last year for my peeps Kevin and Stacie Boudreaux to be race directors for the Grasslands...They are two of the good people in my life. My bud Matt Heinz ran his first trail race...the marathon...and absolutely owned it...and told me he had a wonderful experience...He is another one of those good people in my life...yep...I keep track of 'em. Till next time Press On.
(pic courtesy of Matt Heinz pre race)

p.s. All the pics do not do the product justice...all except for the pre race shot...I really looked that bad...when I get up at 0400 in the morning.

p.s.s. I was made aware that I didn't include Clive as a "Good person in my life" catagory. Let me take this moment to ammend that and say that he absolutely is!!! Let me also say that I did think bad thoughts about him from miles 18-26...let me also say that there are few people that can make me laugh as hard as he does while we are running.