Monday, November 22, 2010

The re-earning of trust...

Oh, where to start...

I could so easily start about how I had an awesome morning hill resistance workout, but that is shallow and does not even grace what actually happened today.

No, instead I must rewind to over two years ago when I had, after months of pleading, convinced my lovely wife to try a run/walk workout with me around the 1 mile track near where I work. Everything was set for an awesome experience...everything except for my overbearing personality. You see, I pushed her to run too hard on the run segments. Way too hard. She was sore for a week afterward and vowed "never again..." anytime I would get that twinkle in my eye when talking about running and express to her that I so desired to be able to share the beauty that I have seen on the trails.To share the passion, the laughter, the solitude and deep friendship with nature.

The truth is I miss her on every run I do without her and that instance above was the only time I had ever run with her...

After Manly came along Amber began to see herself differently and would comment about certain aspects of her that had changed. She had been walking with a neighbor a mile a day while i was away, but it was not enough as she visioned herself not the petite beautiful woman that she is, but in a gloomier light. As the comments would flow I would assure her that she is still the object of all my affections, but the comments kept coming. Knowing that a kick of endorphins could quickly change these opinions I had to quiet my selfish desire to beg for her to run with me. Instead, I told her that only she could change what she felt was wrong with her and that maybe we should walk together a few times a week and make it a lunch date.

Thus began our lunch dates of Monday, Wednesday and Friday walks followed by a delicious and healthy meal for her afterward. I love these days. I look forward to them and get flustered when my schedule conflicts with them. Over the weeks we have talked about all sorts of things and spent time together...time....just us (sort of, Manly is still so young that he requires little attention once we get him in the stroller). I cannot tell you how many times I have apologized for the torture I had introduced her to two years ago and how I yearned for a chance to earn her trust back.

She proudly called me a while back and had told me that she had run from the neighbors house to our house (about 100 meters) with the stroller after their walk. I cannot express how proud I was of her and made sure she knew it. The very next time she went walking with the neighbor she ran up a hill, with the stroller and monster baby, that gives me trouble running up...then called to tell me about it again. "Oh man you are awesome baby!!!"

Queue today. We had agreed that today we would try a 5 minute warm up, 20 minutes with a 30 second jog (at HER pace) and 90 second walk, and 5 minute cool down. Everything was perfect. She was able to talk to me as we were doing our jog cycles, I was smiling like a child waking up on Christmas morning. Gleaning. Ear-to-ear grin. I was totally giddy, so proud of her. I couldn't stop telling her how awesome she was doing and how proud of her I was. Man, how awesome, how awesome, I am SO thankful for days like today.

I got time with the woman of my dreams, time that was well spent, time that will give a little extra in our later years...more time...for us.

Friday, November 19, 2010


     It is rather interesting the path the body takes to healing and how the system works together to force what it needs...

     All day Wednesday my Angelic Queen had been suffering from a migraine. To try to make things a little easier I came home and prepared haystacks for dinner. Haystacks are basically a base of tortilla chips or rice (or both if you are with a layer of beans (usually pinto for us) and then capped with a variety of veggies like lettuce, baby spinach, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cucumber, whatever great fresh veggies you can find and top it with cheese if you would like.

     No sooner had I finished my meal and started doing the dishes did I feel extremely bloated and nauseated. I had no desire to move or do anything, Amber had to probe me to come upstairs to go to bed. I decided to draw a bath and soak for a bit as I was freezing and had been for some time. By the time I had gotten out of the bath my lower body was in such pain that I would have had to crawl to get to bed. Deciding that was not worth it I stayed in front of the space heater in our bathroom and slept until Amber came and put some common sense back into be and got me to bed. Bless her heart.

     In the morning I found that I was not the only one hit with this mysterious illness over the past 24 hours. I guess a group of my guys had gone out to lunch a sushi place the day before and were all suffering effects from it. For once, I am glad they did not invite me. Though it did set off enough of an alarm that I went to see our docs. After 1500cc of fluids being pumped into me, urine samples taken and some blood to follow up on the findings from the urine samples I was told to go home with is a rarity in my career field. Turns out that i still have blood and proteins in my urine. Given that my 100 miler was two weeks ago that is not exactly a good thing. The blood was drawn as a measure to ensure that my kidneys and liver are functioning properly and since I have not heard anything back I am betting they are.

     So what does all this mean? My money is betting that  my body wanted a rest...and it did what it needed to to force me to take it. I don't feel 100% today, but I do feel MUCH better than I did yesterday. With a little luck I might be able to get a nice walk in with Amber and Manly is what will remain priority on my schedule for a few days though. I prefer to not have my body revolt against me again...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


     It has been a week and a half since I finished Pinhoti and I have been in recovery and review mode of my training over the past 5 months. In all reality my training dictates that I should have had a much tougher time out there than I did. That being said I know that aerobically I am on solid middle ground but know that I need to change things up to focus more on short speed. This is where the anxiety comes in...

    In the past I have run a great many of my races trying to raise money for the Lead the Way Fund and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Pinhoti was the only race that was all me for me other than my first marathon. With the Across the Years coming up at the end of December my mind is spinning. I have this crazy idea that I could possibly get in 120 miles or more...a dream come true would be to qualify for the US National 24 hour team and hit 135 miles. BUT...I really want to see if I can, for once, make a real contribution to the Lead the Way Fund. I just need to work up the gumption to contact Mr. Regan and find out the best way to tackle it...

    Then there is the Pine Mountain 40 miler. MY race. In my backyard. I am marking the course on Saturday and sweeping on Sunday. I am actually more anxious about that weekend than I am about the Across the Years event. I think the biggest reason is due to the fact that last year I ran it two weeks after the JFK 50 miler and my ITB was in excruciating pain afterward. Then again, it could be because I miss the "herd" so to speak. I will be reunited with many of my running club (Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society; i.e. GUTS) buddies out there for the first time since I have been back and am excited and nervous for the reunion. I have missed the community of wild woods people getting together on the trails and whooping it up for a weekend of intense, peaceful and fun-filled trail running. These folk are all talented and traverse some very challenging terrain with the grace and fluidity of woodland creatures...with the occasional

     I do need to find an alternate event to the Red Top Rumble also. I had entertained the idea of running it fast enough to finish and then run the 1 mile fun run with my 9 year old daughter Faith. Of course, as I log on tonight I find out that the race with 300 slots sold out in 2 Hopefully I can find an event for her soon as she is chomping at the bit to get out there and get a good trail run in...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Pinhoti 100 miler, 6-7 November 2010

On November 6th and 7th I attempted my first 100 mile ultra-marathon. I realized afterward that this was only my fifth ultra I had ever attempted and the fourth that I had the pure pleasure of completing. The short, I started and I finished with an hour and a half to spare before the race cutoff. For those willing to stick around a bit here is a brief course description:
“The 3rd Annual Pinhoti 100 is a point-to-point trail run starting in Heflin, Alabama on the unmolested Pinhoti single-track trail. Runners will make their way over the highest point in Alabama while navigating over rocks, through creeks and across beautiful ridge lines of the Talladega National Forest. The course will consist of 80.62 miles of single-track trail, 16.98 miles of jeep road and 4.52 miles of pavement and will finish on the rubberized track in the Sylacauga High School Football Stadium.”
Yes folks...that is over 16180’ of elevation gain and 16586’ of descent!
          Training over the past few months has been anything but easy, anything but pleasurable. Between excessively long work days, less than desirable training conditions, erratic training overall and massive pain anytime I ran over 15 miles I was worried. I had been having troubles breathing and my atria fibrillations were occurring more often. Poor nutrition and very little rest pretty much had me going feeling that my body was undertrained but my mind was not going to stop. After all, there is that little DNF from the Jemez 50 miler I had to work off!
          There was one more thing though. A friend of mine for our running club had hit me up while I was on my last business trip about what my plans were as far as crew and pacers for the race. I told him I had not planned on having anyone and was going to head solo. He nearly IMMEDIATELY emailed me back and asked if he could crew for me telling me he would be honored to do so. He put together an amazing crew and pace team for me and having them added another level as I am one that highly fears letting other down. I would have felt terrible had they rearranged their schedule and I quit...
          I check in the day before down in Sylacauga then drive up and meet with my crew and a couple other runners from my running club as a pizza joint close to our hotels and near the start. My brother and his wife, who drove all the way from NM to help out with the race was still on the road and would not actually arrive until midnight. I was worried about them bring on the road and did not sleep before they got there and then got very little once they got there as the walls were not exactly soundproof and I could hear everything. It wasn’t pre-race jitters as I wanted nothing more than to sleep because I had only gotten about two and  a half hours the night before and the race was the furthest from my mind at that point.
          We wake at 4 am after a hurried two hours of rest and head over to pick up my crew and head to the start. It seemed like everything happened so fast. Last year the bus was late with the runners that stayed at the finish...this year it showed right as we arrive, 20 minutes prior to the start. I said hey to a few of the other runners, hashed out any last minute things with my crew chief and then we lined up.
          On “GO” which was a loud air horn in the middle of the cold dark morning. I simply walked to the start of the trailhead to allow the pack of runners to thin out since there was only about 200 meters of logging road before we hit single track. Running in the dark, listening to the hoots and hollers of other excited runners I am trying to convince myself that this is a good idea and it is possible. Then I hear a woman talking behind me and some of her statements sound really familiar. I knew that a for real legend in the ultra community would be there with us, but was not expecting to get to chat with her for the next 6 miles. Monika Scholz ran and completed her 23rd 100 miler for 2010 out there with us that day. She is running another 100 miler this coming weekend. The awesome thing is that I got to run the first 6 miles of the record for the most 100 mile ultras completed in one year with that is cool. She is so awesome, very humble and admitted to me that she barely knows how to power on her computer and that her “blogs” were not written by I found that very comedic and told her that she is a legend, motivator and hero to many of us.
          The first aid station was just shy of 7 miles in and I wasted no time...especially because Monika reminded me that I could lose almost an hour by wasting an average of three minutes at each aid station. Though I had a great mental pick-me-up from talking with her my legs were in severe pain. Over the past few months I have been in SEVERE intramuscular pain when running any type of distance. So...basically...I moved, one step in front of the other, questioning how far I would go before I could bear it no more. At mile 27 my crew met me and provided some Zaxby’s...Tony G, his wife Ally and my brother TOTALLY rock.

          I muddled on and had there been crew access at the mile 34 aid station I would have quit for sure. Especially because I had fallen hard, bloodied my knees a bit and thought I had dislocated my shoulder. I was mentally defeated for some time after that fall. My stomach had been shot for almost 15 miles though I had not gotten sick. It definitely felt like it was coming. The next section was a climb up to the peak of the highest point (supposedly...I’ll get to that later) of the race and the mile 40 mark. When I arrived there was a warm grilled egg and cheese sandwich, and a chocolate peanut butter treat that tasted great. I also stretched and hit my legs with the stick quickly. At this aid station I was allowed to pick up my first pacer, Jim B, and things really began to turn around here in many, many ways.

          Jim got yelled at because we made it to the next aid station (mile 45.xx) in just over 45 minutes...I was the one telling him how awesome I felt though and wanting that pace. The more I held it the better I legs STOPPED hurting altogether and so we rolled...and got yelled at again at the 55 mile aid station for moving too fast. What can I say though...the months of running ONLY at night after a hard day of work must have made me adapt to being better at night. Before we knew it we were at mile 68 and I was trading in Jim, who is an awesome pacer and great guy, not to mention extremely talented runner in for Sarah, the RD for our very own Pine Mountain 40 miler that was RunJasonRun’s (Jason) first ultra last year. Neither of us knew truly what we were in for...and the next 18 miles was a slow learning work in progress. From mile 68 to the Pinnacle AS which is run by my running club it is one heck of a climb. You have a great runnable section for a few miles, but it then turns to a long straight climb, which just about when you are tired of climbing and can hear in the aid station you continue to climb but through 13 lovely switchback that bring you close to and then away for the aid about anguish.
          Mile 75...the Pinnacle. For some reason statistics really stuck to me at this point in the race. Statistics such as 1) no one has ever quit after reaching the Pinnacle (therefore I could NOT be the first one) and 2)only nine women had ever finished this hundo (Club term for a hundred miler). I got to see many of my same friends at this aid station and a couple I hadn’t seen at aid station 4 and chat with them a bit. We got the “It’s all downhill from here...” and headed into the night. The next 5ish miles were incessant climbing. We hit 5 more of my own personal “pinnacles before we hit the next aid station. My pacer fell and lost her shoe and due to hallucinations I was looking at a branch telling her I found her shoe when she had already found it and was putting it on. It was bitterly cold as well. 23 degrees is what I think it got to and the wind was relentless. This next aid station is where I ran into Jason (RunJasonRun) and his blonde accomplice (though I confess I do not know what she looked like or if she was even blonde as things were just not there for me mentally). I told her that she was messing up the statistics and that she had to finish because only 9 women had finished the race ever so she to help us out with the numbers. I had totally forgotten about the no one quitting after 75 thing until I started typing really botched that one!! Lol...a legit injury is legit though and I would not ever want anyone to risk their life, their health or someone else’s because they were too stubborn to tap out when they should have. After a brohug and a quick sit Sarah and I once again head out...
          ...and climb more. I got a 15 minute nap stumbling though this area for an hour or more before I finally started to some to and get moving again.  The incessant climbing was taking its toll not only on me but on my pacer as well. It just never seemed to end! Ever. BUT...on the flipside we hit the 85 mile Aid Station is great time. I sat, got a little warm by the fire, applied some meds to some chaffed areas and drank a coffee and an Ensure...a mile down the road my stomach finally revolted. We made it to the 90 mile aid station and my brother was patiently waiting on me to take me the last 10 miles. He was worried that I was going to dust him but I was moving at well below his fast or slow pace at this point. I was now at a negative nutrition level and though most can run 15 miles with no food (I can on a normal day), doing it after 24 hours of running is one tough animal.
           So we head out. Tony had told my brother to make me run. There was no tackling the uphills for me. My shins had been hurting since about mile 60 and now they were really bad. Even downhills were rough. Heck...just moving was rough. My brother was telling me how proud everyone was of me and how he wants to do an ultra and how three miles into the ten he was doing his quads were hurting and he didn’t know how I did it. He reminded me that my dad was a cross country runner and told me how proud he would be of me...he has been gone for 22 years now...and this race started on his birthday. Emotions started kicking in and his little ditty’s that he was singing me were beginning to irritate me and I knew he was really trying to keep my mind off how bad I was feeling. Weak, tired, massive pain in my shins...nothing more to say than just spent.
Once we hit the road it was maybe a 1 or 2 percent grade, but I did not want to run it. 2 miles left and I was content taking the next two hours to walk it in if need be...but he would barter with me...”let’s run to this telephone pole, then walk to that bush...” and that is how it went until Charles R passed me and said something to the effect that I needed to soldier up...not even sure but I remember I resisted and then I just said a term similar to “Fork it” and took off after him and his runner. Then Sarah (Sarah and Jim were waiting for us at the 1 mile mark to finish with me) said that Lil’ Weezy (another GUTS runner) was trying to catch me and I needed to burn it in. I lost everyone on my way around the track and finished strong. Much stronger than I had intended to or wanted to initially, but I am glad I did it...

HOWEVER...I did not do this. I thank God for this success, my wife and family for their patience and my crew for truly being there for me through it all. It was an absolutely amazing experience.

This is Weezy's Looks just like mine though!
I am not sure on how many calories I consumed but I took either two Scaps! Or Endurolytes at every aid station, a total of 4 Motrin to get rid of a couple headaches, two Celebrex and I ate at every aid station. I went through almost three gallons of water and am still 3 pounds lighter than before the race. Oh yeah...and I did not change shoes or socks the entire run and barely got two small and non-inhibiting blisters on the ball area on both feet. Pretty proud of that...though my shins are KILLING me!! Just so happens that is all that hurts too is my darn shins. Lol.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lentug wigi'jig nipugtug (The deer live in the woods)

     I do believe that the hardest parts of blogging is in fact choosing what to name your blog. Given the ancestral roots from my fathers side, I chose to title these works with a mere statement of what some say I am and where I feel most alive. I love running in the woods. Running is my only hobby (or vise according to my lovely wife), in life and makes me feel most alive. Chances are high that I should have started this blog long ago, and were it not for a few comments from insightful souls off the Dartmouth Ultralist It would still not exist.

     Though I have been in the military for 18 years next month I only started running semi-seriously in September of 2007 to assist a buddy in losing a few pounds before he got out. We discovered the Runner's World Online Beginners forum and an amazing young woman named Jenny who was running 100 mile weeks while being treated for cancer...and we thought we were awesome for 20-30 mile weeks! After my bud left I decided to take a crack at a marathon to see if I could do it. March of 2008 I finished the Snickers Energy Bar Marathon in Albany, GA in 3:41:18. In May I took on a trail marathon in North Georgia known as the Twisted Ankle Marathon and discovered a whole new world of pleasure, pain, excitement and majestic aura of a club called G.U.T.S. (Georgia Ultrarunning and Trailrunning Society), of which I have been a member since shortly after that race.

     About a year later I discovered my first ultra during the Sweetwater H2O 50k in which a local ultra hero and stud, Richard Schick, personally educated me for the 17 miles of that race. Since then I have slowly been adding the distances in between deployments and doing my best to keep my best during the deployment windows. Last weekend I finished my first 100 mile face and I am currently looking forward to the Across the Years 24 hour event in Arizona on the 29th of to go back and post some old race reports...