Monday, March 2, 2015

Nueces Trail Races. 02/28/2015

The ever changing weather forecast called for freezing temps and rain. I planned to meet a friend in Boerne,TX on IH 10 at 3:30 AM and caravan up to Camp Eagle on the Nueces river. Driving up the highway 18 wheelers littered the roadside rest areas and  picnic areas almost spilling on to the Highway. They dared not try to traverse the frozen bridges. Texas Department of transportation work crews were out in force spreading gravel and anti ice agents on the bridges. Nearing Kerrville TX. my Tundra pick up began fishtailing on the bridges. Marianna called from behind and asked if maybe I should park my truck and ride with she and her husband. I made the right choice.
Turning off the main Hwy and on to the farm to market two lane highway we were now driving on a sheet of ice. We watch a pick up truck ahead fish tail every now and then. I felt comfortable in Carter and Mariana's front wheel drive SUV.
We arrived at the race start 10 minute before the start of Marianna's 50K race. I headed to the start to see my friends Tom and Michelle. Marianna and Rachel started together about 15 minutes late. They all were to have good runs. It was Michelle's and Marianna's first Ultra.
My 25K race started one hour later at 7 AM. 25k is just about right for me now. My left knee can take not much more (don't tell it I might run a trail marathon later this year). Besides, I'm tired of trying to figure out the right nutrition plan for an Ultra. And 25K's can be run hard and they're over quickly.
I hoped to have a good race despite no running the week leading up to race. I was battling a stomach virus but felt good two days prior to the race. I did walk 5 miles three days before race day and figured the time off may be a good thing.
The first mile climbs a bit and I was sucking wind. As the trail began to level off I got into a rhythm and hooked on to the back of about five young dudes who were moving at a pretty good clip. Hey! I was feeling good and feeding off these guys and their energy. Almost felt like a road bike team pace line.
After five miles the group broke apart. The first big climb found me trailing a guy I knew was also a masters runner. My competition. I passed him and put the hammer down. Gotta beat this guy to the finish. That was on my mind the rest of the race. Nothing wrong with that, Right?
At the top of the second big climb there was Michelle! We spoke briefly and up ahead was her husband Tom. Tom and I had a couple of laughs as he took my picture.

Still moving well and now running with my friend Fabian on the long descent into the final aid station I hoped to keep my energy level on high. A brief chat with Chris at the aid station and I was off alone on the final 1.5 miles to the finish trying to keep pushing. The energy dial began to slowly turn down as I tried desperately to keep it up. With about half a mile to go the fellow I was trying to stay ahead of passes me! Oh No! I try to keep up then he cuts off course. I yell at him, "Hey, the course turns here."
"NO" he said as he keeps going straight, "It goes this way."
"The arrows point to the left pal." I responded
He kept going. Cutting about 20 to 25 yards off the course jumping over a bright yellow tape to get back on course.
Now, I may not have been able to keep up with him anyway. He was moving well and I was spent. But......
As I Crossed the finish I noticed the time keeper tried to catch him to give him the first place masters award. He was already at the parking lot heading for his car. I wondered. Was he afraid I would confront him maybe, and call him out? I would not. Maybe he felt bad knowing he did cut the course. He undoubtedly saw the yellow tape he jumped. I hoped he did not intentionally take that shortcut.
Again, I may not have caught him, and this isn't the Olympics. "It's just an effing run."
I was happy with my effort, and my cute Kitty second place award was cool too!

He's coming home tomorrow! We have to get the house ready. It's going to be fun. I can't wait. Matthew will be here soon. Everything has to be perfect. I'm so anxious, nervous!
But it's only a dream. A dream she doesn't like. A dream that causes her to wake up. A dream she only recently shared. Because it will never happen. He is not coming home. Ever.

Friday, February 13, 2015

You aren't old until age becomes your excuse - Joe Friel

"There will be more opportunities soon as people like you will be retiring real soon."
So said my very young co-worker as I worked on her PC today.
Hey wait a minute! Don't push me out yet!
Somehow her comments made me feel old and conjured up memories of my Dad saying he retired because there were too many "kids" coming into his department.
Two days ago another co-worker relayed information on other aging friends at work suffering with ailments forcing them to retire.
It was not too long ago that I had begun to tell myself I was too old. My good friend Lalo would scold me for having such thoughts.
I had given up on competing as an age grouper. Given up on training to run fast. Resigned myself to being an old guy just trotting along.
Then my buddy Tom and I went up to the Bandera 100k pre race briefing on January 09, which was followed by the previous year's Texas trail running awards presentation.
Our Group, The Rockhoppers won the Ultra series and took second in the sub ultra series for 2014. Our very own 61 year old Rich Mihalek won an award for the ultra series in his age group! Many others in our group won individual awards also.
On the way home Tom said, " We need to get more folks to compete in the sub ultra races this year."
That got me thinking. I can do that!  I can run fast for short distances. Chris Russell proclaimed this fact to the world a few years ago after I paced Liza at the Bandera 100K some years ago. "Fast for short distances." Yeah, I can do that.
Tom fired me up. I registered for the Nueces 25K and the Hells Hills 25K.
I ran across a book titled, "Fast after 50" by Joe Friel. Half way through the book and already, I'm excited about increasing my training load. Yes, I'm 56 years old. Old enough to retire from work or from running. I can resign myself to wait for illness to creep up on me.
I'm just not ready for that yet.
Thanks Lalo, Tom, Rich, Rockhoppers.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


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


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.