Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Legs

Legs felt heavy today as I started my trail run.
Sunday's short uphill sprints taxed my legs.
Bones are getting old. Muscles tire easily now.
Or maybe it's lack of consistent training.
I've got to work on that.
My legs eased into the run, running smoother after mile one.
Walked the steep climb, trotted on the ridge,
descended the hillside as smooth as water gently flowing over stones.
Folks saying Hi, teenagers smooching on a bench, Young girls smiling.
Sunset creating vibrant colors, calm in the woods as I exited the trails,
on rejuvenated legs.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Matthew

She bid farewell to her child, after placing flowers at his resting place.
My heart wept as I walked away,
Seeing and feeling the pain in her words.
For he is my child too.
There is no greater pain than losing a child.
Treasure those close to you.
Always let them know you love them

Sunday, January 4, 2015

"I'm alright now, but I tell ya, Last week I was in rough shape." - Rodney Dangerfield

 It wasn't last week but it was the last part of 2014 when I was in rough shape.
In the month of November I ran a total of 12 miles. Hiking kept me active though.
The reason I could not run was my desire to feel young! Our company 5K was held November 1 and of course I had to run and of course I told myself I would take it easy. But once the run begins and the competiveness takes hold we tend to push a little harder than sometimes we should. With half a mile to the finish at the 5K I challenge the third place "kid." He surges forward, I sprint past him, he blows me away and I pull my hamstring!
No big deal I thought. It's nothing a little rest can't take care of. But wait! I was scheduled to run a 15 miler the next day. I did run it. Well, I showed up and on a long downhill stretch at mile 5 my hamstring seized up and screamed "NO!"
No good runs for over 6 weeks after this and no Dallas marathon, AGAIN!
Trying to get back at it mid December and the darn Cedar pollen knocks me down. This did not affect me in my youth but as I have gotten older it's beating me up! Not only does it affect my sinuses now but I break out in patches of eczema due to the pollen. I've known I have allergic reactions to grasses, plants, and trees since childhood (not good for a trail runner) and it may be getting worse. Darn it's hell getting old. I'm not letting it get me down though. Saw an allergist for the first time ever and we're working on finding relief.
I'm Alright now though! Ran 6+ trail miles with friends and my niece today! Felt great on my second day of running after 2 weeks of being layed up with not so much as a short walk in the park.
I fell on a prickly Pear Cactus too! Came home and stood naked by the window as my wife pulled thorns off my butt with tweezers.
I'm Back! 2015 here I come!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Pacing Elizabeth


Three weeks before the Cactus Rose 100 mile run I told Elizabeth that I may only be able to go 15 miles with her. Even though she had asked me to pace her the last twenty five when she would be moving at a slower pace, physically and in a poor state of mind, I felt I couldn't do it. But a week before the 100 all was well again. I had shaken off the demons hovering over me.
Elizabeth was hoping to be at mile 75 about 3 or 4 AM on Sunday morning (October 26). I camped out at the race site Saturday night after arriving late afternoon and cheered on  many of our fellow Rockhoppers before I hit the sack at 9 PM. Some in our group were running their first hundred miler. Elizabeth was running her fourth I believe, but her first Cactus Rose. She would later say "never again will I run this race. These rocks hurt!"
This race is held at our favorite training location, Hill Country State Natural area. Rugged hills littered with Sotol cactus that whip at and bite at your legs. Rocks, Rocks, and more Rocks of all shapes and sizes that don't stay in one place.
 Elizabeth Arrived at the mile 75 turn around at 5:30 AM, 24 and one half hours into her race. After Tim, her pacer up to that point, and I made sure she ate something solid and helped her change her shoes Elizabeth and I left the Lodge aid station to complete her 100 mile run. With a 36 hour cutoff we had plenty of time.


Pacing Elizabeth was a pleasure. Although she often spoke of how the soles of her feet hurt it was never in a whining or complaining manner. She handled the heat well too. It was a beautiful day to be sitting in the shade. The race director would later say that this was the hottest day ever in the history of this race. Many experienced runners would drop out.
Towards the end Elizabeth began to really slow down. Always cheerful though and able to laugh at herself. Such as when she struggled descending the last hill at mile 98. A downhill littered with big rocks, loose dirt, and scree. It was hilarious as she crab walked some of it! A memory that will always come to mind when ever I descend this hill.

Last climb completed at mile 98. Just before the descent


A high five after the descent and a stroll down the dirt road to the finish. Elizabeth would approach and cross the finish line to yells of "Woo Hoo, Elizabeth!"  at 34 hours 8 minutes.
Another challenge tackled, a 100 mile finish, and another belt buckle for Elizabeth.

Another great experience and more great memories to reflect on for me.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Much Better now.

Recently I had been struggling with my training. I say recently but it has been going on for over a year now.
2013 started well for me. I PR'd at the Austin Marathon, Ran well at the Possum Kingdom 55K, and had a great race at the Golden gate 50K near Golden Colorado. After that the bottom fell out. Was it overtraining and too much racing for me? For a year though, I could not get into a rhythm. Burnout! That had to be it. But what could reignite the flame? The friends in our group kept me going. I enjoy their company as much as I enjoy running. I still could not get into comfortable training. My legs felt weak, worn out, tired.
The Dallas Marathon is on my schedule this year, December 14. In the back of my mind was the thought of training hard to be as close as possible to my PR. Six months out and I attempted to train seriously. Four months out and still no improvement. Two weeks ago I hit rock bottom. Pain in my hip, sore throat, sinus headache, stomach virus! I was not able to run for almost two weeks. I contemplated giving it up. Confiding in my brother and sister. Sister said listen to your body. Brother said, slow down, take a break, think about it. I did. At REI  bought a par of hiking shoes. From now on its all about enjoying hikes in the woods.

(I started this post 4 weeks ago and thought, "who cares/" Does anyone really care to read my blog?
On this morning's attempt to run thoughts were flowing in my mind as usual.  I want to write about them after every run but don't. Today I thought I would. It's a form of meditation and my Grandkids may one day read my online journal. Well, now to finish my original post.)

Things got better! My sinus headache was gone, stomach felt better and I was running again. I can't quit running. Can I?  Naw.
Going into the Hillotes half marathon on Oct. 17, a race I registered for back in August, I felt well rested. My mindset was "just enjoy the run." This course is very very hilly. Although I had not run in the area recently, I knew this course very well having trained regularly on it some 10 years ago. The course's first big hill is at mile 1.5. My friend Arturo and I exchanged pleasantries. A mile later Arturo and I were running together and ran together the rest of the race. I began using him as my pacer. At one time I told him to go on because he seemed to be running more comfortably than me but he insisted we stick together. We did and what I thought would be a 2+ hour run turned into a 1:51:00 finish! I felt so good and ran so strong! Very surprising. Attributed to beginning with that mindset, "just enjoy the run." Plus running with a friend helps a whole bunch too.

Arturo and I at the Finish
 
My spirits were uplifted. My Chiropractor straightened out my hips. I felt good about running again and good going into the Cactus Rose 100 miler on Oct. 25. I was not running the race but had to be there to pace my friend Elizabeth the last 25 miles.
That story will have to wait until my next post. Another buddy is on his way to pick me up. We're picking up some other pals and going to the Texas Longhorns football game!



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Not a good day today,.....But last weekend? Yeah, that was good.

Out on the trail today it just didn't feel well at the start. Usually it takes awhile for me to get "in the Groove." After a mile I start to settle into a get comfortable pace. That comfort did not come today. I slowed, I walked, but just could not get my legs to respond on today's 4ish miles (visions of those hiking shoes I saw at REI last Sunday sure looked good).  Just when I thought I'd send my friend John a text saying "I can't do it anymore!" he calls me! I told him what I was thinking and we laughed. For over a year now I have not been able to run comfortably, or maybe comfortably at the pace I am used to. Time to slow down? That is difficult to accept.
 Once home, I dropped and broke my smoothie jar. I
Hung it up for the evening. There will be another day.
John wanted to tell me how humbled he was by our recognition of him as our groups founder.
Saturday last, our group gathered at Hill Country State Natural Area near Bandera Texas for ROCKHOPPER weekend. Rockhopper weekend was an idea our member Rich had three years ago. Rent the lodge at the park and have any and all members and friends come for a day, a night or two. It's been a real hit.
Ten years ago John had a dream of forming a group of fun loving trail runners in the San Antonio area. I thought he should be recognized for it. I asked Ed, one of our group members, to paint an image of John on a run at the Nueces River from a photo I had. We presented it to John at the Lodge at last Saturday's Rockhopper weekend.

John said it takes more than one guy with an idea to make it happen. As I remember it, John gathered email addresses at a training run we attended from people he thought may be interested in forming a trail running group. He envisioned an informal group with no dues, no officers, no politics. Early on there were five then it was reduced to three of us. Then we grew to seven! Arne gave us the name, I got us on the web with a blog that Tim turned into a website, Brian the friendly giant, Chris the 15 year old in a man's body, Liza the talented everyone's friend runner, and Tom with his quick wit, helped bring so many others to join us.
Today we are a fun loving bunch of Ultra and sub-ultra trail runners who support each other. Whether you run 50 or 100 milers, 50K's, Marathons or 10K's. Win, place in top 10, are a mid-packer, or come in DFL. We love you. We are a group who, as Chris puts it;
"Take our running seriously, but don't take ourselves seriously."
 We had Fun running in the Hill Country mud and rain last Saturday.
Fun with the Rockhoppers.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Ruben

Maybe he saw something in me. Athletic? Potential as an able riding Partner? A new friend?
I met Ruben in the late 80's. We worked together but did not run around the same circles. I was hanging out with the beer drinking softball players. He was a bit older and fending off needling from the guys in another shop about his healthy eating habits and lifestyle. One day he asked me if I had a bicycle. I said yes, to which he responded, "well do you ride it or does it just sit in your garage?"
I told Ruben I hadn't been on my bike in a while but I was sure I could still ride. Ruben then invited me to ride with him. Coincidently, at about the same time my Brother was speaking to me about the long distance bike riding he was enjoying and how great an activity it was.
I took Ruben up on his offer. I started training. When I told my brother he gave me his C-itoh, a Japanese made bicycle he had paid 250.00 for in 1975. Thus began a great friendship with a man who along with my brother, reignited my joy of biking, running, and the outdoors.
Ruben and I rode our road and mountain bikes long distances all over the roads and trails of the Texas Hill country and the mountains of west Texas. We laughed, teased each other, shared nutrition and training information, were patient with each other when things weren't going right physically or emotionally. We made friends everywhere we went. We encouraged others to join us. Many did. Ruben was older than me but I never knew how much older.
Ruben would go on to retire in 2001. We kept in touch. I made sure of it. After all, we had become great friends and I always thought of him as a positive influence on me. As the years went by our conversations were not as frequent. I had transitioned to running more than biking. I made new friends. Remembering how Ruben had taken me along with him and his encouraging words, I tried to do the same with others.
Yesterday I called Ruben, told him I was riding in the creek near his home and asked if he'd like to come join me. How happy I was when he agreed. Although we had talked, I hadn't seen Ruben in a little over a year. at that time he looked great as he was working in his garage replacing the brakes on his truck. Yesterday when we met though, I thought Ruben is finally showing his age. To my surprise he told me he is now 74 years old. Amazing! That means when we were riding all over the state back in the 90's he was the age I am now! All this time I thought he was maybe 10-12 years older than me when actually he was 18 years older.
I was happy to ride with him again. We reminisced about our adventures long ago, spoke about our friends then and now, and laughed. It was a great time.
After our ride, after we said goodbye, I became sentimental. I am happy my ole friend is still active. But my friend is now old. That's not a bad thing but he's nearing his sunset. Yes I know it can happen to any of us at anytime. and we should cherish everyone important to us. Family and friends. But this is Ruben! I'll have to ride with him again soon. Gotta make sure he sticks around for awhile.
We should rekindle old friendships because before we know it, tomorrow is yesterday.
We are here on this earth for but a tiny speck of time. Yet we can, if we please, leave a positive experience on others. Enjoy and share as much happiness as possible with those in your life now, and reach out to those in your past. for one day the opportunity may be gone.
Ruben and I on 08/13/2014