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Bighorn 100 race report

The race definitely did not go as well as I had hoped.

My main issue was the inability to take in calories during the second half of the race. I also had some issues with feet because of my socks, but that wasn’t as big of a deal.

On race day, I felt slightly panicked about the rain since both my rain jackets were in my drop bags. All I had was my hot weather gear.  I didn’t have any other clothes with me, if it rained, I would get cold quick. I remembered I had the race shirt, a half zip long sleeve. I took that and was glad I did, because I ended up using it.

I was so focused on having a plan in place and sticking to the plan, that it never even occurred to me that the weather might be different. The crazy thing is, I had checked the weather the days before and the day of the race, saw the rain forecast of 60%, but I still expected the weather to be hot. I think that’s called tunnel vision?

The first half of the race went well. We were fortunate to have plenty of cloud cover all day. I had expected Texas style heat for the first 30, and was happy to not have to deal with the heat. Surprisingly, the long climb out of the gate didn’t bother me that much. Could be fresh legs, but the climb into Jaws didn’t seem that bad either. There were definitely slow and tough sections, but mentally I was okay with it.

The cloud cover eventually turned into rain. It never seemed like it was raining that hard, but it was a constant drizzle for 50 miles. Somehow it created a mind boggling amount of mud. And worse, the mud was a greasy slippery slidy mud. The kind that could be fun if this was a mud fight, or you were sliding down it into a pool, but it not good for running. You could see on the ground the patches of parallel lines where someone foot had slid across the mud. Amazingly, I never fell once. That bit of luck I would attribute 100% to my poles.

The week before the race, Travis came into the store and we chatted about the race. He had run Bighorn twice before, finishing once and DNFing the other time. I asked him if he thought we needed poles, he said he didn’t think so. This surprised me, I planned to use them regardless. And I am super glad I did. I used them the whole race. The only point I didn’t want them was the last 5 miles.

I got to the halfway point 2 hours ahead of my planned time. When Rob told me that, I was stoked. I was feeling great considering the conditions. But what goes up, must come down.

As I sat there trying to eat, changing my shirt and getting into a sweater and a jacket, in the span of just a few minutes, I begin to shiver uncontrollably. I never felt terribly cold on the way up to Jaws, but I guess the rain and cold added up. They wrapped a blanket around me and stuffed my shirt with two big heated gel things to get my core temp up.

Know this future Bighorn runners: Jaws was nuts. There were so many people crammed into this tiny tent. People walking all over each other, crew tending to their runners, volunteers checking on runners, at one point, a dude’s butt was in my face as he changing socks or whatever he was doing. It is seriously tight quarters, so be warned. Everyone wanted a seat by the heaters, but there were very few seats to be had. Make sure you or your crew has a big warm blanket for you.

Here is where my race went south. I changed my shirt and and jacket, but I didn’t change my socks. There was so much mud and water crossings, it seemed pointless. But here’s the deal: as you wear the socks hour after hour, they sort of lose their shape and move around, which can cause blisters. If you change socks, those new socks will hold their shape for the first few hours and won’t (Or are less likely) to cause blisters. At the very least, I should have taken the clean socks in a plastic ziploc and changed them along the way.  (Another mistake I made was not having two pairs of socks at the first and second aid stations, despite having had that on my pre race plan.)

You can never have enough socks during a 100 mile race in the rain and mud. Make sure that your socks are taller than your gaiters. Make sure to knock off as much mud from your gaiters when you change your socks – you don’t want dry mud falling into your new socks.

I don’t recall what I ate at Jaws. I asked Rob to grab a plate for me, but I ate very little of what was on the plate. I have learned that later in a race, my mouth gets dry and it’s hard to generate saliva, so everything is so dry I can’t eat it. I know now that I need to rely on more semi solid foods or maybe just do liquid nutrition entirely.

After I warmed up, Jake showed up. I gave him my seat and headed out. I knew I was lagging in calories, but I didn’t want to stop in the rain and mud. So I just kept running. At a certain point, it was maybe two hours I went without any major calories. I was shocked I was moving as well as I was, I thought (prayed) that maybe my body was using fat for fuel and everything would be okay so long as I stayed hydrated… Wishful thinking.

I got through the night in pretty good shape. I ran with a guy for a bit. I kept trying to drop him, but he clung on. Eventually, we started talking. He was a little spooked running alone at night. I passed a decent amount of people and felt good.

Then the bonk came.

And the hills showed up.

At one of the smaller aid stations, Jake and his pacer Cam caught up to me. I tried to run with them, but couldn’t keep up. Jake was running strong.

Later I caught up to Travis at Footbridge. He was debating dropping because he was having some knee pain and didn’t want to risk further injury because he wasn’t getting any traction with his Calderas. I told him not to quit, he didn’t want to be the only one in the group to DNF.

And then I teased him because he had two wooden sticks he was using for poles.

Maybe that was bad karma, as I left the aid station, I kept running straight down the road instead of making the turn across the bridge. Luckily, a runner that was coming to collect his drop bag told me I was going the wrong way. I was only half a mile out, but that was still demoralizing. I walked back to the aid station with him and thanked him for saving my ass.

Travis had taken off running pretty hard thinking I was ahead of him. He must’ve been totally bewildered that he never caught me.

The rest of the race was running a bit and then hiking a bunch. There were several uphill sections that seemed to go on just forever. At one aid station, the guy said, “It’s just one 300 foot climb and then it’s literally all downhill.” I honestly don’t know what a 300 foot climb looks like. But going up that hill, all I could think was either the guy was kidding, he thought it was 300 ft, maybe he meant 3000 ft, or I am about to die. We have nothing remotely close to that climb in Texas. It wasn’t technical, it was just loooooooong.

 

The second day of the race, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. When I could take my eyes off the trail and look around, it was beautiful. I regret not taking a camera or a phone to take photos. The smell of the flowers, the colors of the flowers, all the freaking trees everywhere, it was pretty amazing.

My watch died 10 miles or so from the finish. This was infuriating because I had no idea how close I was until I hit an aid station. During those miles, I asked literally a dozen people how far it was to the finish and not one of them knew. I was utterly surprised since most of them were 50 milers. How do they run without knowing how far they are?? But that’s my problem, not theirs.

Eventually, I hiked into the finish. Rob joined me on his bike about a mile out. I was so happy to finish, happy to be done. 32 hours 17 minutes. Far short of my goal of 28 hours, but maybe next time. Right now, all I can think of is working on my nutrition strategy so that this doesn’t happen again.

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My feet have never been so swollen!

Some additional notes:

Know where packet pickup, start and finish is. Know how to get there.
Know how the shuttle works since the start and finish are different locations.

Always label your drop bags yourself. Big and clear: Name, bib #, AS
Make sure drop bags are waterproof.

Have snacks readily available and /or schedule time to eat when traveling. Especially for before and on race day. Consume massive calories day before.

Plastic bag to keep dirty/wet stuff separate from unused/ dry gear, Especially in drop bag.

Notecards w/ instructions to remind yourself of things to do, ie contacts, change socks

WATERPROOF BOOTS W/ GATORS, forgoing that, change socks even if it seems pointless. As time goes on, the socks move around and bunch. A fresh pair stays put longer.

Make sure start kit has everything you need, dont forget trail toes!

Short shorts are okay in cold, but not if it rains.

How to get calories late in the race: liquid calories.

Avoid getting coke or broth two aid stations in row. Skip one or two so that you dont burn out on it. Water down coke. Carry tums if stomach turns acidic.

Put tape on middle section of poles, they are cold at night.

Learn what poison ivy looks like.

Two Chargers for watch.

You can never have enough socks for 100 miles.
Socks need to be taller than gaiter!

How to deal w/mass dirt post race laundry.
Separate dirt (socks, gaiters) from sweaty.

Ice pack
Ear plugs

 

Intro To Trail Running Class @ REI

This is a work in progress and I will continue to modify this as I learn more. I welcome any comments or questions, suggestions, corrections, etc.

This is material for a class I am teaching on Tuesday. It’s only the third time I’m teaching the class. The first time went okay, considering it was the first class. The second was lame. I’m determined to make the third better by being more prepared and providing as much information as I can.

INTRODUCTION
Hi, my name is Edward. I’ve been running about 10 years. My running was unstructured and sporadic. I did shorter races, relay races and a few marathons. For whatever reason, I signed up for Bandera 50K in 2013. I didn’t know any other trail runners. One day I ran into a guy on the trail and he told me about a group called the Rockhoppers. I started running with them and learned so much from the group. My running took off – 50K turned into 50 miles, which turned into 100K and then finally 100 miles. It took awhile to recover from that first 100. It took even longer to want to do another. But I did, and it was a little easier. 2016 was a big year for me with 10 races, 4 of which were 100 milers. My goal for 2017 is to do at least 4 again. It’s funny because at the start of every race, I am filled with a sense of dread about the suffering that lies ahead. But once I cross the finish line, the immense sense of satisfaction of having completed another race makes it worth it.
Jan          Bandera 100K                      12:23
Feb         Rocky 100M                          20:05
Mar        Pandora’s Box 52.4M         10:41
Apr         Zion 100M                             26:28
Jun         North Fork 50M                   11:27
Jun         Captn Karl’s 60K                   7:07
Aug        Habanero 100M                   26:09
Sep        Franklin Mountain 50K       8:48
Sep         J&J 50M                                   12:43
Nov       Wild Hare 50M                        9:23
Dec        Brazos Bend 100M               23:05

WHY TRAIL RUNNING?

Most people start out running on roads, if for no other reason than convenience.

Pros of Road:

  1. Convenience of walking out your front door and start running.
  2. Level surface means you can run with your eyes closed. (But don’t!)
  3. Better lighting means you can possibly get away running later without a headlamp. (But not recommended.)

Cons of Road:

  1. Unforgiving surface will make your knees and your body pay for it.
  2. Traffic. Drivers do dumb things, why put yourself in danger?
  3. Boring. You might as well run on a treadmill.

So what makes trail running better than roads?

Pros of Trail running:

  1. Slower paced because the terrain often limits how fast you can go.
  2. Softer surface and/or varied terrain means less repetitive stress on your joints. Also recruits wider variety of muscles.
  3. No traffic, peace and quiet which allows you to think and enjoy nature.
  4. Natural scenery and wildlife are integral part of the outdoor experience.
  5. Requires being in the moment which pushes out all the pressures and anxieties of modern life, if only temporarily.Cons of Trail:
  1. Usually have to drive to trail unless you are fortunate enough to live near one.
  2. Snakes? Sometimes there are snakes.
  3. Terrain is more challenging, which can be hard to navigate. And hills are often present.You might not be able to get to the trail for every run, and that’s okay.
So now let’s hear about you guys!
GROUP INTRODUCTIONS
Q: What’s your name and how long have you been running?
Q: Are you running currently? How often and where?
Q: Why do you want to trail run?
Q: What aspect(s) of trail running are you most interested in learning about?
Q: Do you have a running goal?
anatomy-of-running-shoes-parts
  SHOES
  1. Fit: It doesn’t matter how “great” a shoe is, if it doesn’t fit properly, it won’t perform as well as it should. What is a “proper” fit? Usually, we recommend a thumbs width between the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe. People often think that the shoe should be snug so that the foot doesn’t “slide around.” This belief leads them to wear shoes that are too small, which leads to blisters and bruised toes. Undersizing may be acceptable for casual wear, but for trail running, you want that space for your toes. And just because you’ve been one size for a long time, always try a half size larger. Your feet change as you age.
  2. Trail vs road shoes: Trail shoes have better traction. They have deeper lugs whereas road shoes are flat and smooth. The majority of trail shoes are neutral shoes. There are very few stability shoes since trail terrain is irregular. Trail shoes may be  waterproof, whereas road shoes typically are not.
  3. Minimal cushioning (Toe shoes) vs maximal cushioning (Hoka):  Minimal shoes allow you to feel the ground under your feet, which can be good or bad depending on how careful you are. Maximal shoes protect your feet and allow you to run over everything at the cost of sensitivity to the ground.
  4. Life Span of shoes: There is no definitive mileage, but both trail and road shoes have a limited life span of roughly 300 – 500 miles. Several factors to consider: Is it your only running shoe or do you have several pairs that you rotate through? Do you use the shoe ONLY for running or do you also use it as an everyday shoe? Your weight – heavier runners will wear out shoes faster than a lighter runner. Keeping track of how many miles you put on your shoes will help you from getting injured. Often, shoes past their mileage will cease to provide the support and will begin to cause pain in your feet and/or legs. If you have any pains that have gradually appeared, a new pair of shoes may fix that. A good thing to do is to bring in your old shoes and compare them to a new pair, and then you can feel what a “dead” shoe feels like. Just because the upper still looks nice doesn’t mean the shoe is still doing its job.
  5. Drop: Whats the big deal about “drop?” The drop is the difference in the height of the heel relative to the height of the forefoot. A 12 mm heel with a 4mm forefoot equals a 8mm drop. Altra shoes are zero drop – the heel and the forefoot are the same height. The drop can affect your Achilles tendon, so be cautious when making big changes in drop.
  6. Lacing. Learn alternate methods of tying laces in order to cope with certain issues. For example, a Runner’s knot can help secure heel from slipping, what else…
  7. Variety:  It’s good to switch up your footwear so that the muscles in your feet get some variation. Also, some shoes may be better for different things: a less cushioned shoe for speed work vs a heavily cushioned shoe for long distance, deep lugs for technical terrain vs average lugs or even road shoes for manicured terrain. Also don’t be afraid to try different brands. You may find that you like this other brand more than you thought. However, if you have special or particular needs, or if you’ve tried “everything” and nothing seems to work, when you find something that works, stick with it.
 
SHOE RELATED
  1. Inserts: You might be one of those people that need inserts to survive. If you feel like you need more arch support, start wearing the inserts a few hours per day, gradually increasing the time over a period of a week or so. You are not likely to get instant relief, you may have to “train” your feet to this new posture. As a person with very flat feet, I don’t know what to say about the need for arch support. I remember years ago I bought a pair of Tsubos. Never heard of the brand before, just bought them because they looked cool. I wore them at work where I was on my feet all day and they felt great. I tried researching them to see why they were so great but there was nothing on the website that explained it. I realize now it was basically a barefoot shoe. I got used to wearing that, my feet got stronger, and now I never have any arch issues. But then some people get relief from inserts, so your mileage may vary
  2. Socks: Ditch your cotton socks! Cotton holds moisture against your skin, which is a prime ingredient for blisters. Use a natural fiber like merino wool or mohair that will wick away moisture from your skin and keep your feet dry. Or choose a synthetic like Drymax or similar. If you’re doing a long run, or are particularly prone to blisters, consider using a toe sock as a liner. This  helps prevent toe on toe friction. Consider different sock weights for different temperatures. Lightweight or ultralight for hot temps and heavier weights for cold temps. Choose a sock that covers at least the ankle bone to keep out small rocks and dirt.
  3. Gaiters: Gaiters help keep rocks, sand and dirt from entering your shoes and socks. They are especially helpful in long distance races. If the gaiter has a stirrup, be sure you have a heel or clear space on the outsole for the stirrup to sit in, otherwise you’ll wear the strap out. Some shoes come with a tab in the heel to velcro your gaiter in place. A good online source for simple and relatively inexpensive gaiters is Dirtygirlgaiters.com
  4. Calf sleeves: It’s not a proven fact, but calf sleeves are supposed to help reduce muscle fatigue and improve circulation for speedier recovery. The effectiveness may be just placebo effect, but they definitely protect your legs from sotol at Bandera.
 
CLOTHING
  1. Arm sleeves: Great for when it’s chilly at the start of a run until you warm up. They can also be worn to protect your skin from UV rays.
  2. Shorts: Shorts typically have built in briefs, some have compression. Compression helps prevent chafing during long runs. Most shorts have pockets for keys and/or multiple gels.
  3. Shirts: Technical fabrics wick moisture. Lighter colors reflect heat and darker colors absorb heat. Avoid wearing new shirts on long runs until you know they won’t chafe.
  4.  Hats: Baseball caps are the most common. During peak sunlight hours in the summer, consider a hat with a wide brim. It creates more shade and protects the back of your neck.
  5. Sunglasses: Obviously they keep the sun out of your eyes, but they also protect your eyes from dust, sand, and branches- this is especially important if you wear contact lenses.
GEAR
Handhelds vs packs: You’ll probably start out with just a handheld. There are several sizes to choose from, from 8 oz to 24 oz. Typically, handhelds are good for shorter runs. Usually there’s a pocket that can hold a gel or your keys. Not uncommon to have two handhelds for races. They can make your arms tired, but they can also break your fall if you go down. As your runs get longer, or you run in more remote locations, then consider a pack. Packs allow you to carry more water, calories, keys, phone, jacket, headlamp, Brazilian soccer team. However, packs will make your back sweaty. When you fill your bladder, any trapped air allows the water to slosh back and forth and this is SUPER ANNOYING. Not just for you, but for everyone you’re running with, so squeeze out all the air from the bladder! You shouldn’t hear your water. A magnetic clasp for your hose is a life saver. Get one!
Trekking poles: If you are doing something with a lot of elevation gain and/or descent, consider using trekking poles. These help take some strain off your legs by letting your arms do some of the work. They also provide more stability for treacherous terrain. They are very easy to get the hang of, but practice using them before your event. There are at least two ways to hold them to prevent hand fatigue. Get a pair, not just one! When our group did the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim to Rim, I used trekking poles for the first time and they were a tremendous help on the climbs and the descents.
Hydration: For runs up to an hour or less, you may be able to get by with little to no liquids, unless its very hot. Drink to thirst, but don’t overdo it. Over hydration can lead to hyponatremia, which is worse than dehydration. An easy way to judge hydration level is by the color of your urine: straw color or lighter = well hydrated, darker yellow = dehydrated. Using a sports drink can enhance performance. Many products provide electrolytes and salts to keep you going longer than plain water alone.
Gatorade vs Heed vs Nuun vs Tailwind.
 
Nutrition: For runs over two hours, you’ll want to have some form of calories to provide energy to keep you from bonking. “Bonking” may include slowing down, tiredness, dizziness, and feeling light headed. Gels, chews, and solids will keep your energy levels up. Aim for anywhere from 150 to 250 calories per hour, depending on your caloric needs. Consider splitting your calories versus taking them all at once. And typically follow with water or sports drink.
Gels are one of the most common ways to fuel: how to fold a gel with the sticky mess. Starting with the gooey torn end, fold the wrapper in on itself so that the gooey end is in the middle.
Recovery: After long runs or harder workouts, be sure to refuel with a quality protein. Chocolate milk is an easy to find option. (Promiseland Dairy is my favorite!) Hammer Recoverite, CLIF SHOT Recovery drink, PowerBar Recovery, and Ensure or Boost are some other options. Consume the drink within 30-45 minutes of your run for optimal protein synthesis.
Tracking your run: Whether you use your phone or a Garmin, it’s nice to know how far you’ve gone, and maybe some other stats.
iPhone, Android, Garmin, Suunto.
Music:
Faster music is great to get you moving fast for shorter periods of time.
Slower music is great to keep you going for longer periods, but at a slower pace.
The volume of the music can have a similar effect in that lower music is good for short intense periods, while a lower volume is good for slower extended periods. Regardless of what you are doing, when wearing earphones, be aware of your surroundings. You want to be able to hear cars, bikes, other runners, people, and animals.
Cell phone:
Cell phones are super handy to have with you for a variety of reasons, the first of which is safety. You can call for help if necessary. You can listen to your music, take photos along the way, and of course, track your run and post to social media.
Safety:
Sometimes you may find yourself running the roads in the early morning or at night because of time constraints. If you know you’ll be out super early or past sunset, be prepared. A headlamp at minimum allows you to see, but red blinkies will help make you visible to motorists, cyclists and other runners. Running with a friend is always a good idea. Two people are easier for motorists to see, and you can watch out for each other. And in the event you get injured, your friend can get help.
WHERE TO RUN:
Government Canyon / 12861 Galm Rd 78254 / (210) 688-9055. Open Friday through Monday, Closed Tuesday through Thursday. Gates open 7am – 10pm. $6 entry fee.
Leon Creek Greenway
Multiple access points / Open sunrise to sunset / Free
Salado Creek Greenway
Multiple access points / Open sunrise to sunset / Free
Hardberger Park
Multiple access points / Open sunrise to sunset / Free
Eisenhower Park / 19399 NW Military HWY San Antonio TX 78257 /
McAllister Park / 13102 Jones Maltsberger Rd / (210) 207-7275 / Open till 11 pm. Free.
Hill Country Natural Area / 10600 Bandera Creek Road, Bandera TX 78003 / (830)-796-4413. Office open daily 8am to 5 pm. $6.
The best training ground since there are two different Tejas Trails races held here. Lots of hills, and rocks, and sotol.
Babcock Powerlines / This is not a park, but is a good route to train on as there are several hills. You can park at the school on Babcock or on the side of the road by the green gates at the base of the first hill. Follows the access road for the power lines overhead, hence the name. From Babcock, it’s 3 miles out until you hit the fence and 3 miles back. Be sure to bring enough water.
Terrain
      Different terrains, how to cope
      Gravel dirt rock sand scree
HOW TO RUN
Chances are, you already know how to run. As a beginner, don’t worry too much about form. But you will probably hear people talk a lot about heel striking vs forefoot striking. What’s the big deal? Heel striking is when you land on your heel with each step. This isn’t ideal running form as it sends shock forces up your legs, not to mention that it slows you down. Heel striking is essentially running with the brakes on. Better form is found in mid foot or forefoot striking. I would be concerned only about heel striking. If you are a heel striker, I would focus on changing that, the sooner the better.
Cadence
      What is it? Why is important? (Video of two different cadences)
Workouts
      Hills: are speed workouts in disguise. Practicing on hills also builds mental strength, you don’t fear hills as much.
      Speed/intervals: these workouts are typically shorter in duration. You’ll want to warm up first, do your intervals and then cool down.
      Long: These will be the longest distance for the week done at a slow easy pace. Distance shouldn’t be more than 25% of your weekly mileage.
     Fartleks: “Speed play” Run fast to some arbitrary point and then slow down until the next point and repeat several times.
THINGS YOU’LL HAVE TO DEAL WITH AT SOME POINT (HOPEFULLY NOT ALL AT THE SAME TIME):
     Heat: Slow down! You shouldn’t try to run your “normal” pace when it’s really hot. You want to keep your heart rate in check. Hydrate, but don’t over hydrate. Over hydration can lead to hyponatremia. If you find shade along the trail, stop and walk in the shade. Run to the next spot of shade. Cover your neck, arms, legs,  Wear a wide brim hat. Use sunscreen liberally.
     Cold: Dont overdress. You want to be slightly chilly when you start. You’ll warm up and it’ll be like adding 20 degrees to outside temp. 50 degrees is the optimal running temperature. Also, just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you should  hydrate less.
     Rain: Its just water! A hat is essential to keep the rain out of your eyes. A light water resistant/ waterproof jacket is handy, especially if it’s cold and/or windy. Learn to run in the rain so when it’s unavoidable (like at a race) it’s not a big deal.
     Cars: Pay attention! Stay Alert! Be high visibility. Blinking lights help alert drivers.
     Bikes: Some trails are shared with mountain bikers. (OP Schnabel, Government Canyon, etc.)
     Peds/ Dogs/ Animals: : Be kind to pedestrians, don’t run them over. Give them a heads up to let them know you are approaching so that you don’t startle them.
     Potty break: Learn to go wherever whenever. Find a good spot.  River rocks are your friend. Grab 3 or 4 rocks. Wipe the rocks on a sweaty part of your shirt.
     Chafing: Use Body Glide / Trail Toes / Vaseline. Apply these products BEFORE chafing occurs. If you are prone to chafing, make this a habit. Nipples, between thighs, and under arms are most common chafe points. Hydration packs can chafe, so be sure to use the pack several times so you know how it’ll perform.  Same with shorts and shirts. If you sweat profusely, you want to learn to manage this early.
     Blisters:  Learn to take care of your feet! Blisters can derail your running, so do everything possible to avoid getting blisters in the first place.
Cut nails close and file sharp edges.
                    Moisturize skin daily so that it is supple.
                    Pre tape blister prone areas.
                    Use Trail Toes or similar product.
                    Wear a liner toe sock. INJINJI
                    Wear a thicker outer sock. SMARTWOOL
  INJURIES:
            Plantar Fasciitis
            Shin Splints
            Black toenails
            Knee pain
            Twisted ankle
     Motivation: Racing is a great way to get more out of trail running. Many local races offer multiple distances at each event. As you complete each distance, it becomes more exciting to try for the next distance. After you finish a race you’ve trained several months for,  you may feel sort of depressed since you don’t have a goal to strive for anymore. That’s when you’ll sign up for another race! That’s when you know you’re hooked!
It has to be mentioned that beer goes hand in hand with Trail running. There is nothing better than having a cold beer after running in the hot sun for hours.
Websites
Strava.com / Join the group REI 131
Trailrunner.com / American Trail Running Association
Trailrunnermag.com / Trail runner Magazine
Runnersworld.com / Runner’s World
Tejastrails.com / Tejas Trails Racing
Trailracingovertexas.com / Trail Racing Over Texas aka TROT
Spectrumtrailracing.com / Spectrum Racing
Books
Born to Run / Christopher McDougall
Eat & Run / Scott Jurek
The Courage To Start / John Bingham
Pre: Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend / Tom Jordan
Running and Being: The Total Experience / Dr. George Sheehan
Duel in the Sun / John Brant
Racing Weight / Matt Fitzgerald
How Bad Do You Want It / Matt Fitzgerald
Anatomy For Runners / Jay Dicharry
Relentless Forward Progress / Bryon Powell
The Terrible and Wonderful Reason Why I Run Long Distances / The Oatmeal
Quick Strength For Runners / Jeff Horowitz

Sold!

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Finally sold a painting! Have had about 10 paintings hanging in a swanky bar downtown for six months now. Got an email asking if the piece was for sale, conversed via email and settled on a price. And then comes the drama.

Told the bar owner’s assistant that I sold the piece. She was mildly upset because when we hung all the paintings six months ago, she had expressed interest and (may have stated outright) that she wanted to buy the piece for herself/ the bar. But I had totally forgotten about that. When I got the email asking if the work was for sale, I was more concerned about coming up with a price.

Today the owner of the bar called me and asked if I would reconsider the sale. He was (somehow) under the impression that his assistant had already paid me and the bar owned the piece. I told him I would feel pretty crummy backing out of the deal; the buyer had literally just sent the check in the mail. I gave him her number and suggested he plead his case to her. I haven’t heard back from anyone.

I feel terrible about how things have transpired.  My main takeaway here is be sure to communicate better with others. I could have avoided this whole mess if I had consulted the owner and/or his assistant first.

Next time I’ll have a plan on how to properly sell work.

 

Touting the Twofer

I love my library. I love that I can borrow books, music cd’s, movies, and magazines. So much information available for free and all I have to do is return it on time. What a deal! The best part is there’s a branch not far from where I run most often. So I will run to the library to pick up or drop off items – literally running an errand. That was one of my first “Twofers.”

A few months ago, I started doing hot yoga, aka Bikram. My right knee felt weak and I asked one of the instructors for advice on how to strengthen it. He suggested trying the Cr***fit workouts at the Hollywood Park location. Since it’s part of my yoga membership, I figured I’d give it a try.

I went a few times, and it was actually “fun.” It certainly wasn’t as aggro as I imagined it would be. (But that’s probably because it’s a beginner’s class.) It was like going to the gym, but instead of having to figure out what to work on, someone tells me what to do and I try to do it. I liked that aspect very much and kept going back.

It takes about a half hour to drive to the location, so I decided to put that drive time to use. I started listening to my Thai language audio tapes. I don’t know how well it works since I’m half paying attention (since I’m driving) but I’m going to keep at it.

So the yoga studio is next door, and I would always see everyone in there practicing. It eventually occurred to me that I ought to try a Twofer. I was concerned I would be too tired to do an hour thirty in the hot room, but decided to give it a try. It was tough at first (and still is) but I got through it. It’s not so bad and now I look at he Cr***fit workout as a warmup to the hot yoga. The best part is I don’t have to think about when to go to yoga, at minimum, I go Tuesday and Thursday.

Today, I’m going to do a new Twofer- running to Yoga. The Huebner studio is only about 4.5 miles from my house, so that should be a pretty easy run. The weather today is perfect: cool and sunny. Once I get some new tires on my bike, I think riding to yoga would be another great Twofer option.

I use Strava to log my miles, and recently started taking Instagrams during runs – another Twofer! – and I’ll include those when I get back.

 

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5 Months Later….

I can’t think of a good title right now.

I know some people suggest making the title after you do the writing. But I feel like the title is the easy part: I come up with something catchy and it gets the ball rolling. The title drives the writing.

Well, how’s this: It’s been 5 months since I’ve written, and there’s a ton of great stuff I didn’t write about. And that bugs me to no end. Why blog if you aren’t going to blog the good stuff?  But recent events have breathed new life into my belly fire. This will be a short post, I’m just going to breeze through all the stuff I didn’t write about.

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I finally sold a painting a few paintings. Two for under $200, but the big one  (top) netted me $1800, my biggest sale ever.

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The Rockhoppers had their first official beer mile. I love to drink but I was not going to participate until the last minute I caved. It was tough since I had a tallboy right before the race. I was still working on my first beer when the fast guys came in from their first lap. Beer miles sound like a good idea when you’re talking about it, but actually doing it is way hard. For me anyway. Those other guys were professional.

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My mom, my sister, and I drove to Florida to visit my other sister and her husband. Not a lot of sightseeing, but I got in a few runs with one 20 miler in some terrible heat. However, they were all on paved roads. :(

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I started doing Bikram yoga. A friend took me to check it out and WOW! Did I feel great afterwards. For me, it is actually a very tough workout. It has really helped my running. I look forward to getting back into it.

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Me and one of the other Rockhoppers put on a photo show. We busted our ass building these frames which were way overkill (too heavy). But things turned out well enough. We sold a few pieces. Though I’m surprised we didn’t sell more considering our prices were pretty reasonable. (Or so we thought.) Regardless, we didn’t expect sales, and it was still fun. We also had a photo booth of sorts set up in the hosts’ bedroom. That was really fun, although I still have not seen the pictures…

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I went and read a story at my friend’s grade school. I still can’t recall what grade they are, but they were the sweetest bunch of kids. After that, I went with them on a field trip to the Witte Museum. I’ll be visiting them again shortly to bring them some presents.

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Perhaps one of the biggest deals: I ran my first 100 Miler, the Cactus Rose. I ended up running about 85 miles with Don, another Rockhopper with whom I trained with. It was unplanned that we would run together, and very lucky for both of us as neither of us had a pacer. We tied for 6th place. (We ran it in together.) We were hoping to get in under 24 hours, but that wasn’t in the cards. Still very pleased with the effort. My right knee was f*cked for the next few days.

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I celebrated an early birthday. They threw a surprise party because I was going to be in Thailand for my actual birthday.

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I went to Thailand with my mom again. We stayed and visited family for 7 weeks. It was really awesome. Really awesome. I met a ton more people, and did some fun cultural stuff.  That will be a few posts coming up.

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I made some spray paint stencils while I was there. I am planning on using spray as my medium for awhile as it can do some beautiful things.

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I joined Facebook? What? Wait, that is another post unto itself.

 

 

Treasure Uncovered

The other day I headed out for a run, unsure of where exactly I was going. I wanted to run to the Powerlines, but it was really hot and there’s no water available there. My measly 2L bladder would be half empty by the time I got there. The flat trail  would be mostly shaded, so I decided that would be a wise choice.

I decided to run past 1604 and explore a bit. I had followed a Hash trail out there on a run long ago, but didn’t get too far. I wanted to see how much further the “trail” would go.

Running under the bridge, I  was amazed at all the little mud bird houses built on the underside. Then I passed the spot where eons ago I drank many beers at a Hash “circle.”

As I rounded the corner, I saw the familiar junk pile. I knew that this spot had been used as a dumping ground before.

Main pile on the left side.
Main pile on the left side.
Pile on the right.
Pile on the right.

I plucked a 5×7 photograph off the ground.

This was the first photo I found.
The first photo I found.

 

As I scrutinized the junk, I could tell this was new stuff that had been dumped recently. My instincts kicked in: I am a scavenger. I have a fascination for looking through trash, junk, rubbish, – whatever you call it – for things that I can use somehow. As an artist,  I see value in things that might seem worthless to others. And as I poked around, almost immediately I struck gold.

More photographs. Old black and white photographs!! And lots of them. Before I knew it, that one photo had mushroomed into a  huge wad. At first I thought I would keep just a few because I could fit only so many in my pack. But the photos were all gold – I’d find a way to carry them all. No way was I leaving any behind. (At least not any black and whites, I did leave some more recent color photos behind.)

By this point, my running brain was totally switched off. All I cared about was finding more photos, I was a junkie searching for my next fix in the pile. But I knew I had to stop at some point, if for no other reason than the sun was getting low and worse- the mosquitoes were starting up. I found three or four small concentrations of photos and then it seemed like that was it.

At this point I figured out this guy died and they just dumped this stuff. Whoever did this just wanted to clean house. They were probably not related, otherwise they’d have kept the photos. Or maybe they were related and just didn’t care. Either way is sad.

I tried to roughly organize my haul in order to compact it. I found a Manilla envelope and stuffed in the photos. Then I stuck the envelope in a large Ziploc bag to protect it from my sweaty self. I could carry the whole pouch in front of me tucked under the bands of my pack. It made my chest retain heat, but it stayed put and more importantly, kept my hands free.

As I ran home,  I got some weird looks. I’m sure people wondered what the heck I was carrying. And yet even if they knew what was in the Manilla envelope, they would probably ask: “What the heck are you doing with photographs you found in a dump of some random dead person?”

And I asked myself the same thing. Why do I do this?

* * *

Grand total: about 150 photographs, (several of which are stuck together and awaiting separation,) one negative,  a few postcards, a letter, a note, a Mason’s card, a certificate of birth, and 3 lottery tickets (whose numbers I intend to play one day.)

There are many more interesting images I’d like to share, and ultimately, I will organize the photos into an album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

R2R2R

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Going up North Kaibab

This past week, I ran R2R2R.

There’s no way to capture the scale of the Grand Canyon in a photo, so I was looking forward to seeing it with my own eyes and as I  ran through it. The canyon lived up to the hype. It was impressive and a little ginormous. The run, however, wasn’t as hard as I expected it to be. I expected to be on Death’s door, shriveled up and/or burned to a crisp after finishing.

But it wasn’t that bad, which was oddly disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong, it was tough. Especially the last four hours hiking up Bright Angel Trail. But overall, it felt like another 50 mile race, just with more vertical. I feel like I trained pretty well for the run, but what really made it “easier” was the weather.

Perhaps the trail gods pitied us, as there was cloud cover for a good portion of the day. This made a huge difference: It spared us the heat of the inner canyon, which is supposed to be tortuous. It allowed us to run for longer periods without overheating. And it kept us from running out of water. (Sort of.)

Ultimately, I’m thankful we didn’t have to endure the heat.

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We began under a full moon. (Or pretty darn close.)

I ran with four other people from our group of 20. We started about 4:45 am. Once it got light, the first few miles were spent oohing and ahhing and taking pictures. It was awhile before we really got going. We took our time and drank in the Canyon. We made several stops along the way, but the majority of the first 15-20 miles was uneventful and went by relatively quick.

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This is what I came to see!

 

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Chris and Michele on one of the bridges.

 

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I could still manage to get lost…

 

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You can see the cloud cover starting to roll in.

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Lower mid right, that white streak is a baby waterfall.

 

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Tanya and Jason sporting matching hats.

As the day went on, it warmed up. Going up North Kaibab was probably the worst of the heat. It was hot, but not unbearably so. We stopped in an awesome shady spot and lounged for a bit. The rock was cool and felt great on our tired legs. Once we started back up, we were greeted with a never-ending series of switchbacks to the top.

We eventually made it to the top of North Kaibab and had lunch. One of the other sub groups was already there, so we got to to eat and chat with them. But the best treat? The water. Oh-my-goodness!! So cold and refreshing. (I felt guilty about dumping out  my bladder just so I could refill it with cold water.) Oh, and mental note for next time: Extended breaks make it extremely hard to get moving again. 

After the agonizing uphill, running –actual running– the downhill was really fun. I felt we had been trudging along all day (which was probably actually a good thing), but now was a chance to to open it up. I love the feeling of bounding through rocky trails as fast as I can. So I started running up ahead at my own pace and then stopping and waiting for the others. They were never that far behind, so that worked out great. But I had to remind myself to keep it in check because there’d be hill to pay later.

At Cottonwood, we stopped and soaked our feet and legs. The ice cold water felt great, though I could handle it for only like 10 seconds at a time. The others had no problems sitting in the water up to their waist, so eventually I had to do the same. It felt great for like a second. It’s crazy how fast the water evaporates though.

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Ribbon Falls. Don’t you just want to touch the fuzzy greenery?

We took a detour to check out Ribbon Falls.  It was a great little water fall. You can climb up to the top and stick your head under the water. As you might imagine, it felt great.

And then came the slog. Running back through the inner canyon was the running version of Groundhog Day. It was the L-o-n-g-e-s-t S-e-v-e-n  M-i-l-e-s  E-v-e-r. We would have really suffered here if it weren’t for the cloud cover because the rock absorbs the sun’s heat all day and then radiates it right back out into your face.

By this time, the moon was nowhere to be seen and it was pitch black. Michele had a problem with her headlamp/batteries, so I let her use my headlamp. I ran between her and Tanya and was able to see well enough. The trekking poles were a lifesaver here. They allowed me to cross over the logs more easily, helped provide depth perception, and overall stability.

This was by far the toughest section to get through. It was certainly  challenging physically, but even more so mentally. We could hike only so fast. Partly because we were tired and partly because of the fear of walking off the cliff. Chris had said if we could do a 30 minute mile, we were doing well. That sounded ridiculous, but I think it was true.

There were some lights at the top of the canyon that we seemed to be moving toward but not getting any closer. We seemed to be hiking forever but not making any progress. All we could see was five feet in front of us. And those damn lights up top. I started thinking about food. I would have killed for a burger and a Coke. Seriously.

Strangely, it wasn’t even midnight yet and we started getting bombarded by other runner’s (presumably)starting their R2R2R journey. It was disappointing because many of the runners didn’t yield the trail to us or even slow down. (Trail etiquette dictates that those moving downhill should yield to those moving uphill.) A few bellowed the “Looking good!/ Good job!” line which was a little too chipper for my taste.

Some time after midnight, we finally made it to the top of Bright Angel. I thought for sure I would cry, but I didn’t. I was too tired.

 

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Mega thorny cactus flower.

Other Notes/ Advice type Stuff

Water: Jason and Michele both ran out of water twice.  We gave them some water the first time, and the second time was right before a stop. They got lucky. It’s better to carry too much water than to run out. Simple as that. And really, how do you run out of water twice?!

I had a 2L bladder for water which I filled completely at each stop and a 21 oz bottle for Perpetuem/ Heed.

Calories: I brought around 6,000 calories, almost twice what I actually consumed. (Although about 2000 of that was Perpetuem and Heed.) Often what seems edible in the grocery store is anything but on the trail. And again this was the case. A dozen+ gels, 3 bars, cola flavored gel chews (next best thing to a Coke), pretzels, beef jerky, cookies, almonds, single serve tuna fish with crackers, olives, a real sandwich, and powdered Perpetuem and Heed. And I forgot to bring Payday candy bars. I think those would have done me well.

I love my Salomon pack. I bought it specifically for this trip and it has been great to me. Maybe I should finish the review I started.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT did work in the canyon (even though it was constantly losing satellite reception), lasted over 17 hours. I never stopped it, if I had, it might have made the whole trip. What I should have done was to stop it at each water stop and treat that as a run. The drawback is you have to remember to restart the watch…

Trekking poles were a HUGE help going uphill. I’ve never used them before (hills in Texas?) but they were easy to get the hang of. Most of us rented them from the General Store. Best $12 I ever spent.

A wide brim hat or a legionnaire’s cap is a must. And sunscreen.

Make sure your headlamp works! Put in new batteries and/or carry spares. You might even take two headlamps. If your sole source of light breaks somehow, you’re in a tough spot.

Proper foot care  the week prior to the run: Clip and file your toenails, pumice any tough spots, and moisturize with lotion.  Wear double socks – toe socks under Drymax- and gaiters. And carry a spare pair of socks. Dust and sand still managed to infiltrate the mesh in my shoes, but I had ZERO blisters.

Take lots of pictures. Duh!

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Powerlines with Unexpected Company

Ran the powerlines today. It’s a 3 mile unofficial trail that crosses a golf course and some neighborhoods. It’s pretty hilly. As I finished the first half of the first lap, I saw something move at the top of the hill. Got up the hill and saw that it was a dog in the street.

Black and white, medium sized, he was wandering around, looking lost, peeing on everything in sight. I whistled at him. He came over and let me pet him briefly. He had a collar, but no tag. I walked around the street looking for an open gate or a hole in a fence, but found nothing. And no one was outside. So I just let the dog be, and continued on the trail.

After a minute, I heard something behind me. I turned around – the dog was following me.

My unexpected pacer.
My unexpected pacer.

I was like, “Hey boy, want to go on a trail run?” And amazingly, that’s exactly what he did. He led the way and paced me for the next three miles. I was really impressed. He handled the rocks pretty well for going barefoot.  Sometimes, he’d stop and turn around to make sure I was still following him. When he saw that I was, he’d start off trotting again. He seemed pretty happy.

It was really cool running with this dog. It was nice having company that I didn’t have to try and make conversation with. He just led the way and I followed. And weirdly, although I’ve never been scared running this trail, I felt safer.

I’ve never had a dog before. Lately, I’ve been thinking about getting one, but my current situation doesn’t allow for a dog. But if I got a dog, it would force me to change my situation…  Hmmm… I started thinking what I would name him.

At the top of one hill, he was panting pretty heavy. I made a small ziploc “bowl” and filled it with some water. He drank just about everything in the bowl. As I was attempting to refill the bowl, the  water squirted out of the hydration tube like a little garden hose and the dog started licking the stream of water. I thought that was cute. I felt bad when I had to cut him off. Fortunately, it had rained the night before and we came across a few big puddles for him to drink from.

Puddle fountain
Puddle fountain

When he was drinking up the puddle, I noticed that his ribs were really showing. If he did belong to someone, they sure weren’t feeding him near enough.

We hit Babcock Road which completed a lap. The dog crossed the street and waited for me to follow. I contemplated what to do. Take him to a vet to see if he’s microchipped? Would he be returned to irresponsible owners?  Would he be put up for adoption? Would I be ready to adopt him? Do I take him home and put up flyers  in that neighborhood?

Handsome devil.
Handsome devil.

I hate to be the guy who “doesn’t want to get involved,” but that’s basically the route I took. I decided that I would run him back to where I found him. I figured at the very least he would be free to roam as he pleased, peeing everywhere.

We had to cross a road that had two lanes in both directions. It’s not terribly busy, but there’s limited sight and cars tend to drive fast. Instead of crossing the street, he was walking in the middle of the road, oblivious to an approaching semi truck. (And here I thought he was a smart dog.) Thankfully the truck driver was alert and was able to slow to a complete stop. I tried to call the dog to me so that I could grab his collar and hold him, but instead he took off. The driver waited patiently as I unsuccessfully tried to corral the dog. I wished that I could inform the driver this wasn’t my dog – no way I’d be dumb enough to let my dog run into traffic. The dog wandered onto the sidewalk,  and the truck slowly passed. When the coast was clear, I sprinted to the other side and the dog followed.

Right after, a lady in an SUV stopped and rolled down her window. As she did, I got really excited thinking she was the owner, but no such luck. She thought the dog was a Malamute.

Two miles later, we were back at the street where I found him.  I followed him around, hoping that he’d wander back to his house. Then I could just ring the doorbell and the dumb owner would come out and be overjoyed at the sight of the beloved dog. We walked down a few streets and by now there were people out and about. I asked everyone if they’d seen this dog before. One guy said he’d seen the dog wandering around all day, but that was it.

I got nervous when the dog started heading toward a mother and her three small children. As I’m running toward them, I asked the mother if she’d lost a dog. She said no, and her daughter said, “We already have a dog.” I jokingly asked if they wanted another. The girl says that she does want another dog. As I got further down the street, I heard the little boy say, “That’s a werewolf dog!”

Handsome devil.
Handsome devil.

The dog was going door to door at this point, every once in a while, he’d turn around to look at me. He seemed to be in his element. I figured it was only a matter of time before he got back to his house. That’s when I decided to leave him. I felt really guilty knowing that he was going to turn around and not see me. I felt like I was letting the dog down, and I didn’t want to be like his shitty owners. A dog this nice really deserves to be treated better.

I tried to help the dog, but I should have done more. I’m thinking that I should print up flyers and head back up there tomorrow to see if he’s still there. Who knows, maybe I’ll come home with a new dog.

*    *    *    *    *

Has this ever happened to you? What did you do?

What’s the best thing to do in this sort of situation?

 

 

 

 

 

Things Change…

Depending on where you live, you might notice the trees turning colors. The trees around here are definitely changing. Not anything super spectacular, but low key Texas style. Maybe that’s what is inspiring me to make a change. Or maybe it’s just because I’m tired of hearing that question, “Do you have a website?”

You may or may not know that I am an artist- I make paintings. I’ve been half-assing it for a long time. I’ve also been unemployed for a while now and it’s really getting me down. But I don’t want to work a stupid job – I want to do something I actually enjoy doing. However, finding a job where I just paint and build stuff all day is probably not going to happen. At least not easily, and not without some blood, sweat, and many many beers.

So where am I going with this? Well, I am going to try and full-ass it as an artist. I want to put my work out there, and that requires a website. And while it would be great if I could make money talking about my running, I know that if I focus on presenting my art, I can sell it. So I am going to be shifting the focus of this blog. It’s not going to be just about running, rather it’s going to be about…. uh… stuff? Yeah, that’s pretty vague, I haven’t quite figured it all out yet, but I will.

However, I have decided to ditch the Shortcuthills moniker and promote myself as Shutupbecky. I love the name- it’s loads snappier and makes people get weird, or laugh or both. I have had the name as an email since 2000, so I feel like the name is a part of me. It’s my alter ego, pen name, stage name, code name, however you want to call it. So yeah, Shutupbecky!

*   *   *   *   *

I’ll leave you with a few pieces I did last week.

A quickish "sketch: painting
A quickish “sketch: painting. (The stuff on the sides isn’t part of it.)
Kids in my Mom's hometown village in Thailand.
Kids in my Mom’s hometown village in Thailand.
Juk. Same kid, same image as the first painting.
Juk. Same kid, same image as the first painting.

I need to start taking better photos-  which is to say NOT USE A PHONE…