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Bits and pieces as I remember two weeks after the fact.

My friends Dustin, Erin, and Ed ran the inaugural Franklins 200 last year. We ran together for a bit at the start, but eventually we all ran our own race. Dustin crushed it, taking a 6 hour nap and still beating me by like 5 hours. Erin and I finished within a few hours of each other. Sadly Ed DNFed around 120 miles. It was a freaking hard race and I could not imagine wanting to do this again. And yet here we are.

It might have been because we wanted to support Rob the race director. He is quite a character and asked for our feedback after the race. We gave him quite a bit of input and suggestions. Rob wanted to make it right. So he gave us a decent discount, and we, being the goombas that we are, signed up for the race again.

I guess it snows in El Paso?

The night before was the usual mild panic drop bag preparations and then trying to fall asleep. When the alarm went off at four am, we found out that we had gotten a couple inches of snow! We get to the start and everyone is bundled up. And yet Dustin is wearing shorts! I convince him to put on his rain pants. That probably lasted an hour because the next time I see him, he’s back in shorts.

We take a few photos, do the countdown, and the race starts. There’s a good bit of snow on the ground, but nothing crazy. The usual race start excitement wears off pretty quickly as the realization sinks in that I am going to be out here for a long fucking time. Worse, the field of runners is considerably smaller. Last year saw 35 starters, this year only 16. Even including the 8 runners in the 200K, there were only 24 people spread out on a 38 mile loop. We were in for a heavy dose of loneliness.

None of us -Dustin Erin, and I- had trained very well. Even though I finished last year, I was nervous about something happening and not being able to finish. My mindset going into the race was not a confident one and the inevitable first DNF was looming large. But I figured if there was a race to DNF at, a tortuous 200 seemed like an acceptable one.

I started out sort of running with Erin and Dena. It wasn’t really intentional, but we were going a similar pace and it was nice to have compan. I would scoot past them, slow down and they’d catch up. I was too much in my own head to talk much and eventually I lost them.


The first 20 miles was a mental mindfuck of wanting to quit so bad. Why the hell am I doing this? AGAIN?? Freaking five loops! UGH! Eventually, my body felt okay running. Then my reptile brain settled in and grudgingly accepted what was expected of it.

The laps with the snow were visually sustaining. The Franklins are usually pretty boring to my eyes, but covered in snow, they seemed majestic. (Snow makes everything look cool.) The windblown snow on the bushes at the peak were really neat. As the days went by, the snow melted slowly. It was the perfect snow cone-y texture and consistency and as per my usual, I ate quite a bit of snow.

One of the highlights of the first lap was the sunset. As I was running, I could see the shadows on the hills around me. If I got to the end of this ridge, I would be able to see the sun. There wasn’t much time before the sun would set so I booked it and got to see the sun set.

On the second lap, I got into Bowen AS and it was dark, maybe 3 AM. I’m 70 miles in after 24 hours. I’m the only runner in the AS so I chat with the two volunteers and then try to rest. I laid down on one of the cots, using all four of the crappy felt blankets available, two under me and two on top. It was cold and the wind was blowing like the tent like crazy. There was a metal pole holding down some tent flaps that was banging against other metal. Once again, (like last year) the AS tent seemed like it could collapse any minute from the wind. Not conducive to sleep at all.

Another runner came in and I overhear that she wants to sleep / lay down. Obviously, I have to surrender some blankets. Sleep is impossible anyway; I get up and they take two blankets for her. I get off the cot and sit in a chair, pulling up the lone space heater. New girl joins me and we share the heater. Her name is Julie. We talk and have a pretty good conversation. We were both tired and waiting for the boost that comes with sunrise.

As we talked, we wondered about the other runners. I think both Jessica and Erin had dropped by this point due to rhabdo. We inquired if anyone else had dropped and where was Dustin? Turns out Dustin was asleep in a vehicle and had been for quite awhile. Keeping up with Trevor and Jessica must have been mega taxing. I chose not to go mess with him; I wanted to sneak ahead of him.

Julie and I left together as the sun came out. It was a great mental boost being able to see the trail and having someone to run with. Julie told me about her experience doing the Triple Crown, her and Jessica’s training for the PCT FKT attempt, and other interesting things.

We had just come down the ridge of switchbacks and dropped onto the road to West AS and I was thinking about Dustin. “I wonder how long he’ll sleep?” And LITERALLY as I finished that thought, I turned, looked back and there he was. I could not believe it.

I’m happy and surprised to see him and equally annoyed that he caught up. When he woke up and found out that we’d passed him, I guess he wanted to catch up. He told us he had already run to the ridge we just descended and THEN RAN BACK TO BOWEN AID STATION and slept because – not for inability but for seemingly logical reasons – he had mentally quit last night. But he hadn’t actually told anyone he’d quit.

It’s nuts that he did about 9 bonus miles + whatever vert, slept for like 5 hours and still managed to catch up to us. Dude’s a freak.

Photo credit: Let’s Wander Photography Funny story. Jesse the photographer was showing us photos and told Dustin that he got a good one of him that made it look like he was actually running.

It was great that Dustin had joined us, however now as we commiserated, both of us wanted to quit. We talked about it and there were some pretty sound reasons for throwing in the towel. But I did not want to DNF for a lame reason because I knew we would regret it.

We got to West AS, Dustin and I breezed through while Julie took a bit longer. Dustin was still in race mode and we basically left Julie. There was no way I could keep up with Dustin’s pace, and I felt bad that we didn’t communicate to Julie that we were leaving, so I fell back and waited for her. She and I had a similar chill pace that I was happy to keep. She caught up and we made our way to the Start/Finish.

When we finally got there, who else should be waiting for us? I guess Dustin didn’t want to run alone, so he waited for us. And from that point, mile 90 or so, we actually verbalized our plan that the three of us would run the next 110 miles and finish the race together.


Rob and the volunteers noticed that the three of us were running together and referred to us as the “Three Pack” when really he should have been referring to us as the “Bib Buddies”. I have to say that it is way more fun running with your friends than “racing”. The conversation / distraction is well worth the slower pace.

The last three laps Dustin and Julie got along famously. Both of them have outgoing genial personalities and they hit it off. I was happy to just listen in and occasionally chime in with my two cents. As the miles added up, I spoke less as my reptile brain went further into survival mode.

Some of the good things that happened: Rob had been getting us some great food. Burgers, BBQ, Chic-Fil-A, pizza, real breakfast foods, etc. Although my lips got “salt burned” from too many burgers. And I did again suffer one of the worst cups of ramen ever – lukewarm and with barely any flavor. But overall, Rob really took care of us in the food department. Huge improvement from last year.

After getting a night of sleep, Erin made the best of her DNF and joined Kyra in crewing for us. She seemed happier not running and instead taking care of us. (She is a natural caregiver.) The best was when Erin and Kyra woke us up with Starbucks. I’m not really a Starbucks guy but it was better than the AS coffee. Pretty sure that if Erin hadn’t been at Pavillion, Julie would have had to quit or we would have left her there.


The weather got slightly warmer each day. The third day was perfect running weather. The last day was a smidge warm. Last year it was so cold that it was extremely difficult leaving the warmth of the sleeping bag and getting up to run. This year wasn’t nearly as bad, almost painless.

Because I felt like I was carrying them way more than actually using them, I decided to NOT use trekking poles after the first lap and it was totally fine. I did not miss them one bit. I ate very little the last 20 or so miles and felt surprisingly fine. I was fully expecting to bonk, but it never came. This was awesome because I was so sick of gels by that point.

Weird note that I did NOT poop at all the first day. Normally I poop practically five minutes into a run, so this was a little alarming.

We were starting the last lap and Julie had been dealing with a blister on the ball of her foot. She did some work on her feet and switched into her Olympus’. However, when we left and started climbing up the ridge, Julie was in tears she was in so much pain. I figured she was done, no way that she could continue. Understandably, she didn’t want to quit. Dustin and I talked about what we should do. It seemed cold, but we debated whether we should leave her to fend for herself.

We got to the Pavillion and fortunately, Erin was there. Julie asked Erin to drive her back to the start so she could switch back into her Timps. We all piled into Erin’s rental, went back to the start, Julie changed her shoes and Erin drove us back to the Pavillion. We unpaused our Garmins and started running from the same place. Julie’s shoe swap worked. She was able to run and we were all relieved.

Safe to say Erin’s excellent crewmanship saved Julie’s race.

We discussed how excited were were to be on the last lap. That every section we finished we would NEVER EVER have to see again for as long as we lived, because there was no way in hell we would ever run here again. So with each section we finished, we gave it the one finger salute.

The last time at Bowen we inquired about the other runners. The closest guy was Vermont. From what Jesse the photographer was saying, he was way behind us. We were thinking we would all tie for second place. But then someone was like, “Is he wearing a yellow shirt?” Jesse was sure it couldn’t be him and left the tent to see who was coming in. Sure enough, it WAS him. We were just about to leave, and this gave us a reason to hurry up. We hadn’t been racing at all, and now we sort of were.

We get going and start thinking race strategy. Dustin wants to book it, but that would mean separating. Neither Julie or I would be able to keep Dustin’s pace. And after running almost 90 miles together, it seemed a shame to split up. I suggested we stick together. Maybe Vermont wouldn’t catch us if we kept a good pace. He wasn’t some cocky jerk who we didn’t want to beat us, he was just a regular determined runner. If he did catch and pass us, good on him, he’d earned it. He might also blow up trying to catch us in the heat.

We found out from Kyra that he left the AS pretty quick. We could see him on the trail in the distance. It was crazy how he seemed to be moving slowly, but somehow covered distance crazy fast.

We stopped to take a sit break. And then Vermont appeared with pacer in tow. He passed us as we three sat in the shade along the trail. We tried to stay close. We tried to play mental games by staying close and Dustin clicked away with his poles extra loud. But Vermont was determined to be done. He dropped us, finishing almost an hour sooner.

As we got closer to the finish, Dustin reminded me that the bottom of his cooler was lined with Michelob Ultra beer. I am by no means a beer snob, but the one time I drank that beer was after a race when ANY beer tastes good, but that one did NOT taste good. Despite this, I was so looking forward to having a beer after finishing the race. Sadly, because alcohol is a no-no in the park, and we were to brain dead to figure out a way to drink it on the sly, I never did get to experience the Michelob Ultra.

We finished arm in arm just after sunset. Rob gave us our buckles. I always get emotional after a race and I shed a few tears, but fewer than last year. Finishing was super anti-climatic. But I was SO GLAD that we didn’t quit. Pretty sure Dustin was glad that he didn’t actually quit as well. And I was really happy that we had a new Bib Buddy, Julie.

While we were out there, we realized that over the course of Franklins last year and this year, the 100 miler, and the 50K, both Dustin and I had run at least 535 miles on this course. And I’m still not sure where Shaffer Shuffle is.

The Franklins 200 Miler

Two years ago, Dustin, Julie and I ran the inaugural Lone Star 100 in El Paso, Texas. Between the ridiculous non stop wind, the heat, the exposure, the climbing and all the rocks, it was an incredibly tough race. Only 8 of the thirty or so starters finished.

2019 was the inaugural Franklins 200. Why in the world would we want to run twice as far on such a brutal course? I’m going to chalk this one up to willful ignorance and peer pressure. Dustin and I hadn’t even completed Bigfoot 200 before we had signed up for Franklins. We signed up early for the discount. That’s probably the main reason.

Training went off the tracks early. i started climbing which was fun, but took time away from running. Didn’t plan much, didn’t make a pace chart AT ALL. Barely had drop bags planned. Figured I would take Dustin’s approach: just show up and run.

I was stoked for the intro section where there was supposed to be some climbing of sorts, but it was called off at the last minute due to the rain. Instead, we had to summit Franklin Peak. This was drag because we were already doing that 5 times.

Rain is never an ideal way to start a race. But it wasn’t heavy and it didn’t stick around too long. The first trip up the peak was shrouded in fog. We were all in good spirits, excited to finally be doing the damn thing we came here to do.

Ed and Dustin were pretty chatty, Erin less so, and I just listened. There were other runners around us forced to listen to our inane banter. At one point I apologized to this couple that was within earshot for several miles. They didn’t seem friendly.

Later i found a pair of Julbo sunglasses on the ground. I picked them up and hustled up to the couple just ahead of us. Sure enough, they belonged to the girl. She said thank you, but didn’t seem overly grateful considering how expensive the glasses are.

Maybe it was the second loop I came up on the couple. Asked them if they were ready for a 4 day long game of leap frog. Had visions of scott and sandra from Bigfoot. They didn’t seem to keen on me passing them, so i just hung with them and chatted. Turns out, they knew me and i knew them. Matt Zmolek super strong runner who had run with Julie a lot. And dena carr who had narrowly beat me at cactus rose a year ago. She told me how she had to keep going when she saw my headlamp and i told her how i was crushed having just missed catching her by minutes.

We had a nice conversation, and eventually I left them behind. They planned and ended up running the whole thing together.

Running the section to Bowen after 140 miles. Unbelievable that i can still run!

Running hard at night. Calories never seemed to be an issue.

Thinking in percentage of race completed. Hit 20 miles and thought, oh hey wow, im 10% done! Every 2 miles was another percent.

Discovering that my left quad was blown and then my right. Struggling to get up the mountain without my poles. Realizing my mistake just as i entered the rock fied to Mundy’s, but not able to do anything about it. Using a stake from one of the signs as a pole. (Whatever signs it held had been blown off.)

Feeling so weak. Feeling dumb for not anticipating this result from running too hard the previous days. Hubris.

Sleepwalking to the same Pandora mix. This was definitely worst lowest point. Couldn’t stop long because it got cold. Struggling to keep eyes open for blue flags. Drinking a RedBull with no effect.

Trail naps by the dozen up and down the peak. Maybe for two minutes, right before actually falling asleep. Afraid to actually fall asleep and freeze. Afraid of losing a position because I fell asleep.

Following Marco and his sleepwalking self.

Getting passed on the downhill to Bowen.

Seeing the sunrise and knowing that would help.

Not knowing how long i slept. Not being warm enough to sleep.

Seeing Elizabeth out of nowhere and her massaging my feet and having the exact size poles that i needed, and since her runner Ed dropped, she wouldn’t need them.

Seeing Dustin coming down and chatting with him. Giving chase.

Hanging with Erin. Her losing sight in one eye. Trying to help her navigate and not freeze to death. Realizing i should’ve done more sooner.

Lapping Ed. Talking-to him a bit and then planning to leave him. Not realizing my friend needs help. Ed runs as much as he can and does well until we get to the downhill. I leave him at the straightaway to West. I feel bad, but I want to catch Dustin.

30,000 clothing changes. Too hot, too cold, take off pants, rain jacket. Not enough space to pack all this shit. Best gear change was just running in my boxers and base layer shirt and finishing the race in them.

Becoming somewhat familiar with the course was nice. But there were gaps, and it took longer between known points. But became challenge to remember at some points. Mistaken some areas,

Taking a wrong turn. Going back to SF instead of back down the hill. Proud of myself for not flipping out or getting worked up. Was just like okay. Went back up and over the longest 1.1 or 1.8 miles.

Switchbacks down the mountain before West. At least 20.

Waiting for the race to begin at mile 150. Playing the long game. Expecting Dustin to crash and burn eventually, but somehow that never happened. Ran my own race and did what i could. Slept about 6 or 7 hours. Need to become more efficient in and out of aid stations. Def need to have someone wake me up.

Remember being cold and afraid to get out of sleeping bag, but once I was dressed and out there. It wasnt so bad. After first night freezing ass off, put on every layer i had. Wool base layer, windbreaker, rainjacket, race hoodie, and vest. Need to have a layer for warmth next time. Had my down puffy, but had lent it to Katherine, didnt have the heart to ask for it back, especially after what she was doing for us as crew.

Breakfast tacos, then whataburger, pizzA in the same day. I was like whoa, dont overdo it, we have three more days. There would also be chic fil a, ( what else am i forgetting?)

Felt bad because Katherine kept missing dustin because was running too fast. And Ed saw Katherine, his girlfriend and HIS crew only on the last night because he was running too slow.

Didnt run with anyone too much. Most s th erin and Joe. I kept trying to lose her. While it was nice have company, i didnt want to compromise my pace.

I would build up what i thought was a decent lead, but if i stopped even for just a bit, she would eventually be on my heels. Its hard to gauge what a real “lead”. Guessing maybe once you are 30 minutes up, which is maybe a mile or two, then you can breathe a bit. But not much.

It was pretty lonely for most of the race since everyone was so spread out.

No good jokes.

Best joke was leaving ducks for Ed. Someone left a duck for him at the peak. Our Bigfoot joke continues.

Joe as pacer, everyone is dressed for snowpacolypse, joe is wearing shorts. But then changed into… Jeans? Somehow it worked for him. And luckily, that night wasnt that cold. Still….

Puking. Twice. Can recall puking during a race only one other time at Zion. Managed to double that. Blame it on Chrisy asking me if i ever puke. It was nausea at first, but then sat on my knees and my guts tried to cone out my throat, but nothing but bile came out. Think it was the broth.

Funny enough, after the first time, right after the final heave, a good song came on my ipod. I got up and just started running. I was surprised how much better i felt having puked.

Aid station hot food selection was abysmal. Same slim choices: broth (not even good or even hot sometimes) ramen, mashed potatoes, quesadillas. Quesadillas were rarely evenly heated. Beans were a nice add in, but still. They also lacked any fat, so were super dry.

There were some sections of the course that could have used more confidence markers. Luckily, no signs were blown away by the wind like at lone star.

The last miles. Starting out from bowen. Fully dressed. Removing clothes almost immediately and realizing my pack is completely full. Have no hat and the sun is full throttle. Thanks goodness have sunglasses.

Takes forever to get over ridge. See some other guy pop over and running towards me. WTH is he doing? Stop and chat, he’s out training for some ultra in Mexico. Have a surprisingly longish conversation with him.

Make way down mountain side. Think about how windy it was previous times. Think how THIS IS THE LAST TIME I’LL HAVE TO DO THIS SHIT AGAIN.

Remember how i ran almost the entire straightaway to West. Hobbled it. Found a sign post to lean against to poop because i realized i couldn’t squat down.

Ran some of the flats, ever so slowly. Somewhat depressing getting passed by fresh faced 100 milers. Wanting to let then know that hey, ive been running since Wednesday. One guy actually asked if i was doing the 200, and that made me kind of emotional.

Overall, had a decent mental mindset. Wasn’t terribly affected by getting through the distance. The repetition was probably the hardest part, but it also made it easier knowing what was coming up.

Things to work on.

Pacing. First 120-140 should be slow and even. Dont try too much. Then the last bit, give it what you got.

Less time at aid stations.

Have your shit organized.

Know what you need and when and where you’ll need it.

Avoid carrying things you dont need. So check your pack when leaving aid station.

Bring more of your own food. Snack logs should NOT be 99% candy.

Utilize bottles over bladder when aid is close.

It was nice not carrying poles. Maybe save those for last miles.

For God’s sake, new pandora music.

Pretape for blisters. Maybe just tape everything? Next long run, try taping everything.

Food bag.

The Franklins 200 Miler Race Report

Two years ago, Dustin, Julie and I ran the inaugural Lone Star 100 in El Paso, Texas. Between the intense wind, the heat, the exposure, the climbing and the acres of rocks, it was an incredibly tough race. Only 8 of the thirty or so starters finished.

2019 was the inaugural Franklins 200. Why in the world would we want to run twice as far on such a brutal course? I’m going to chalk this one up to willful ignorance and peer pressure. Dustin and I hadn’t even completed Bigfoot 200 before we had signed up for Franklins. We signed up early for the discount. That’s probably the main reason. And because we’re dumb.

Training went off the tracks early. I started climbing which was fun, but took time away from running. Didn’t plan much, didn’t make a pace chart AT ALL. Barely had drop bags planned. Figured I would take Dustin’s usual approach: just show up and run.

The day before the race, Ed kept getting worked up about how windy it was going to be and how it was going to rain. He was giving us weather reports on the hour. The course directions were also giving him fits. Apparently there were contradictory statements between the race doc and website. Ed texted Rob for clarification but that didn’t clear anything up. Ed’s stress was totally stressing me out and I told him so. He finally let it go.

I was stoked for the 12 mile intro section that was supposed to be difficult and involved some climbing with chains, but it was called off at the last minute due to the rain. Instead, we had to summit Franklin Peak, which was a major drag because we were already doing that 5 times. (Sad trombone noise here.)

Rain is probably the worst weather to start a race. Luckily it wasn’t heavy and it didn’t stick around too long. The first trip up the peak was shrouded in fog. We were all in good spirits, excited to finally be doing the damn thing we came to do.

Ed and Dustin were pretty chatty, Erin less so, and I mostly listened. Other runners around us were forced to listen to our asinine banter. At one point I apologized to the couple that had been within earshot for several miles. They didn’t seem friendly.

As we were running, I saw a pair of Julbo sunglasses on the ground. I picked them up and hustled up to the couple just ahead of us to see if they had dropped them. Sure enough, they belonged to the girl. She said thank you, but didn’t seem especially grateful.

Maybe it was the second loop I came up on that same couple. Asked them if they were ready for a 4 day long game of leap frog because this was about the 6th time we had traded positions. They didn’t seem to keen on me passing them, so I hung with them and chatted.

Turns out, they knew me and I knew them. Matt Zmolek, a strong runner who had run with Julie a lot. And Dena Carr, another strong runner, who had narrowly beat me at Cactus Rose a year ago. She told me how she had to leave the last aid station when she saw my headlamp coming in. I told her how I was crushed having just missed catching her by minutes. We had a good laugh about that. I was determined not to let her beat me again. They ran the whole thing together, with Dena taking Third Female.

*Early on, Dustin took off thinking he was chasing me down, when in fact I was behind him. He jumped ahead as I was doing a #2. Maybe a good strategy for next time. No matter how hard or how fast he runs, he’ll think I’m still ahead of him. And he’ll either crash and burn… or kick my butt.

*Thinking in percentage of race completed: at 20 miles and thinking, “Wow, I’m 10% done!” Every 2 miles was another one percent done. I was afraid hitting the 100 mile mark was going to be a mental mindfuck because that would be only half of the race, but it didn’t turn out to be a big deal. I don’t even remember where or when I hit 100.

*Took a wrong turn. Proud of myself for not flipping out or getting worked up AT ALL. Didn’t dwell on it, was just like, “Okay, bonus miles!” The section I had to backtrack is relatively short about 1.5 miles, but is really technical and hilly. This mistake cost me at least an hour and a half. But once I got back to Pavilion, I was like “Okay, back on track!” NBD.

*The first night was bitter cold and I had been wearing four layers: wool base layer, windbreaker, rain jacket, and vest. The only other thing I had was the race hoodie, which I would never normally run in. But I wore it the second night after leaving the S/F because I needed more warmth. But once I got into Shaffer Shuffle, there was virtually no wind. I had to remove the hoodie and pack it; it took up a lot of space in my pack. Too much of my race was spent taking off and trying to pack layers of clothing. I need to either get my system dialed or learn to deal with being cold. Definitely need a better warmth layer next time.

*Hanging with Erin from Bowen, the second (?) night. She had lost vision in one eye due to corneal edema. That had happened to me before, it sucks. You can see light, but there’s no detail whatsoever. Just a big blur. (And oddly enough her pacer Joe had experienced this condition before.) Thank goodness it’s a temporary condition. She said she’d fallen several times because her depth perception was off. I suggested she try and sleep it off here, but for whatever reason, she wanted to make it to the Start /Finish. I told her I would run with her and help her navigate through the night.

Running wasn’t in the cards at this point, so we power hiked. My energy levels had dropped, and I was in constant need of trail naps seemingly every other mile. But we couldn’t stop long because Erin was freezing, her hands in particular. I gave her the hand warmers out of my gloves, but later realized they were probably dead. I should have traded gloves with her, but I couldn’t bring myself to part with my gloves since my hands are the one thing that are always cold.

Erin is not one to complain, and when I realized she was still having a hard go with the cold, I gave her my vest. When I noticed she was still cold, I gave her my rainjacket. I told her I was going to start running to generate heat. The section we were on was super flat, so she didn’t need help navigating. I stopped every so often so we weren’t too far apart.

Between our slow pace, the intense cold and wind, and the utter repetitive nature of hiking in the dark, this section seemed to go on FOR. FUCKING. EVER. I can only imagine how tough it was for Erin.

After several hours, we finally made it to the S/F. I was in desperate need of sleep. The wind was thrashing the tent, the structure was swaying and the poles were grinding on the ground. I was afraid the tent was going to collapse. I requested one of the volunteers wake me up in two hours. Laying on the cot, cocooned in my warm sleeping bag and several blankets, I easily fell into glorious sleep. But it was short lived. The volunteer was in my face, “Edward, time to get up.”

It was so hard to rouse myself and leave that warmth and comfort. In my mind, it was going to be super cold again. But the worst was behind us, and once I got dressed and moving, it wasn’t so bad.

Joe, consummate badass.

Erin was also up and Joe was ready to pace her. Luckily for her, her vision had returned to normal! After the first night, everyone was dressed for a freaking Snowpocalypse, and Joe is wearing shorts. But then he changed into… Jeans? Somehow it worked for him. Fortunately, that night wasn’t that cold. Joe, badass that he is, paced Erin for around 70 miles.

Erin, Joe and I left the S/F at the same time. I tried to put distance between us so that I wouldn’t succumb to the comfort of company. While it’s nice to have someone to run with, I needed to set my own pace.

Squint to see Erin and Joe in the upper half. Look at all those rocks!

*Puking. Twice. Can recall puking during a race only one other time at Zion. Managed to double that. Blame it on Chrisy asking me if I ever puke. It was just nausea at first, but it wouldn’t go away. And then finally… I sat on my knees and it felt like my guts were trying to escape out my throat, but only bile came out. I think it was the broth. It was def the broth.

Funny enough, after the first time, right after the final heave, a good song came on my ipod. I immediately got up and started running. I was surprised how much better I felt having puked.

*Didn’t hear any good jokes. Although Dustin surreptitiously bought a three pack of ducks at Walmart. We then hid the ducks for Ed to find. Somehow, one of the volunteers left a duck for Ed at the peak. Our Bigfoot tradition continues!!

*I saw Dustin coming down the peak and chatted with him. I hadn’t seen him in forever. He told me how he had been in second trying to chase down John Kelly. He also said his feet were fucked, which gave me hope that I might catch him. Dustin in the past has gone out fast only to crash and burn at the end, and I was counting on this. I was trying not to get too anxious about catching him, I was playing the long game. The race didn’t actually “begin” until mile 150.

After I got down from the peak, I began giving chase. The section before Bowen is mostly downhill and very runnable. I was 140 miles into the race, and I was amazed (and shocked) that my legs still felt good enough that I could actually run.

When I saw his shorts. Hmm… those look familiar, Oh snap, it’s ED!

*Lapping Ed on fourth loop. Chatted with him and was going to take off, but then he said I’ll see if I can run with you. I wrongly assumed he wouldn’t be able to keep up, but he did. He was probably just as surprised as I was. He said this was the first time he’d run since the start. I felt guilty that I didn’t realize my friend needed help. So we ran a good stretch of several miles. Ed’s issue was the downhill was hard on his knee. We slowly made our way down the crazy switchback section and got to the straightaway to West. I felt bad leaving Ed, but we had a good few miles together and I wanted to catch Dustin. So I ran.

Katherine, CREW QUEEN 19.

*Texting Katherine after leaving West AS. Told her how Ed was doing and when she might expect to see him. I told her I was maybe a third of the way to the Pavilion AS, and as I ran, I realized how SO NOT CLOSE I was. I kept running but didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, I was still out in the middle of nothing. She asked if I wanted Chic-Fil-A. That sounded amazing and made me run harder.

Katherine is definitely Crew Queen ’19. First time I saw her, she had breakfast tacos, (Steak tacos, OMG….) then Whataburger, AND then pizza, AND THAT WAS ONLY THE FIRST DAY! Honestly, I might not have finished if I had to rely on Rob’s meager offerings. And poor Ed saw her only once during the race! I hope I can provide the same level of service for her at Leadville.


*Normally, I always carry my poles with me. But during the second loop, I felt I was carrying them more than actually using them, and they were taking up too much room in my pack. So I ditched them and it was NBD. There were a few sections where I wished I’d had them, but for the most part I was fine. Until I wasn’t.

My left quad was getting increasingly sore, and I didn’t think much of it until I realized it was blown. And shortly after, my right followed suit. This made life incredibly difficult. When I left the S/F on the last loop, I left without my poles. I realized my mistake as I entered the rock field to Mundy’s, unable to do anything about it. I managed by climbing Eurostyle (hands on quads).

When I got to the base of the peak, I grabbed a stake from one of the signs to use as a pole. (Whatever signs it held had been blown off.) This was about 25% as effective as a pole. The whole time I felt so weak and dumb from running hard the previous days and not anticipating this result. Hubris.

I took at least a dozen trail naps on the peak. I was constantly scanning the trail for any sheltered semi-grassy spot to rest for two minutes. When I found a spot, I’d collapse onto the ground, close my eyes and slightly hyperventilate for a minute, and just as I was about to actually fall asleep, I would countdown from ten and force myself to get up. Fear kept me from fully falling asleep: I didn’t want to freeze to death or worse, get passed by someone and lose a position.

*Heading towards Bowen for the last time. It was late, so I grabbed a Red Bull from the aid station. I normally never drink these, but I needed something to keep me awake. I drank maybe half of it, and it didn’t do anything for me. I think I was just too dang tired.

I was full on sleepwalking, barely able to keep my eyes open. I couldn’t stop to rest for too long because I would get cold. I was trying desperately to keep my eyes open for blue flags because I was paranoid about getting off course in my zombie state. I listened to my music in hopes of it keeping me awake, but the mix I had was the same mix I’d had for ages. It was permanently seared into my brain during this section.

Despite being half sleep, I was trying to catch up to the runner just ahead of me. He was having the same sleep deprivation issues and somehow I passed him. But later, he teamed up with a female runner and they passed me on the long downhill section, which was a little disheartening.

Getting passed at sunrise.

When I got to Bowen, I was primed to sleep… but couldn’t. Marco, the guy who passed me, was lying in the cot next to mine and we chatted. We tried to warm up a bit in front of the heaters. I had three blankets, but it wasn’t enough as I could still feel drafts. I had no idea how long I’d been laying there unable to really sleep, but I knew the sunlight would wake me up.

It’s morning now, and seemingly out of nowhere, Elizabeth pops out and is helping me. She starts massaging my feet (which feels fucking AMAZING. Dustin and I have both made the observation that just touching your feet after so many miles feels incredible.) She came to pace Ed, but he had since dropped. So she was helping me out. I asked if she had her poles with her, and she did. I asked if I could borrow them and she said I could. This was the greatest stroke of luck because the poles basically saved my ass.

When I left Bowen for the last time, I was still cold and dressed for warmth even though it was sunny out. This mistake I chalk up to being too tired to think straight. I was shedding layers immediately and my pack could barely contain all the layers.

It got warm enough that eventually I stripped down to my Smartwool boxers and base layer shirt. I felt weird running in boxers, but it was surprisingly comfortable. This was by far the best clothing change.

Once again, it took forever to get over ridge to West A/S. Just as I’m about to crest the ridge, some guy pops over, running towards me. WTH is he doing? Stop and have a surprisingly long conversation with him; he’s training for some ultra in Mexico. It’s nice to talk to someone after so many hours alone.

Make my way down the endless switchbacks of the mountain side, glad it’s not as windy as previous times. Overjoyed that THIS IS THE LAST TIME I HAVE TO DO THIS SHIT! Last lap I ran the entire straightaway to West, this time I hobbled. My quads are so gone, that I literally could not squat down to poop. Instead I had to lean up against a sign and poop standing up. That’s a new one for me.

Get to West AS and sit for a bit. Get going and try to “run” some of the flats, albeit ever so slowly. Somewhat depressing getting passed by fresh faced 100 milers. I want to yell at them to let them know that, “Hey, I’ve been running since Wednesday!” One guy asked if I was doing the 200, and that made me kind of emotional.

Nearing the end, my thoughts gravitated to food. Ed texted me:

  • Ed: “Do you want food at the finish? If so what kind?”
  • Me: Yes please steak tacos or mushrooo swiss Whataburger. And a beer please!
  • Me: Last fucking 1.1
  • Ed: Badass! We have cheese quesadies and ramen.
  • Me thinking: Ha ha, Ed you dick! You better have some real food.

The last 12 miles or so were a lot of climbing, so they went by incredibly slowly. Mentally, it was tough being so close, yet still so far away. Once I made it up to Pavilion for the last time, I had only the 1.5 mile section to the finish. The wind had picked up and the downhill sections were tortuous because there was a LOT of loose rock here, but it didn’t phase me. I took my sweet ass time, savoring the fact that I was going to finish and be done. A lump formed in my throat when I could finally see the S/F tent.

Normally in Rob’s races, there is WAY TOO MUCH cowbell; you hear it at every aid station and it annoys the hell out of me. But during this race, I hadn’t heard any at all, and while that made me happy, I also missed it. They could see me coming in and began ringing the cow bell and that made me soooo happy. I tried to run it in, but I had nothing to give.

Rob handed me my buckle and gave me a hug. I felt weird getting all emotional in front of everyone, so I went and found a chair, sat down and cried. I don’t even know what I was crying about. It’s really overwhelming to finally finish something as mentally and physically drawn out as this.

Or I’m just a baby. Maybe a little of both.

Finish time: 81:53:32. 7th Overall, 6th Male.

Overall, had a solid mental mindset throughout the race. Wasn’t affected by getting through the distance. The repetition was boring, but it also made it easier knowing what was ahead. Hardest part was sleepwalking the last night, but I chalk that up to poor sleep in the days leading up to the race. Banking sleep is crucial next time.

Dustin was able to take a SIX HOUR break and still finish FIVE HOURS before me, which blows my mind. He finished Fourth Male, Fifth Overall. But I shouldn’t be surprised, he is a badass. Next time, I will adopt a Race mentality instead of just a Survival mentality. I want to #BeatDustin.

A few hours later, Erin rolled in taking Second Female and a sweet check for $1500, and a mega hug from Dustin.

Notes/ Things to work on.

  • Actually train. Like for reals. Seriously. No joke. Do all the things.
  • Know the course, avoid wrong turns.
  • Pretape blister prone spots.
  • Pacing. First 120-140 should be slow and even. Give what you got at the end.
  • Less time at aid stations. Know what you need before you get there. Have your shit organized and KEEP IT ORGANIZED. After two loops my gear was all over the place.
  • Plan ahead. Know what you need and where you’ll need it. Check your pack for unnecessary items before leaving aid station.
  • Bring more of your own food in case aid station food sucks. Snacklogs should NOT be 99% candy. Make a food bag.
  • Save poles for last portion of race.
  • For God’s sake, new Pandora music!
Me and my bro Dustin, whom I intend to kill #Rematch@Wasatch.

Walking Johnny Down the Mountain

Had planned to do something big for Black Friday. Had a good day doing Mt Raymond, and felt like drinking to celebrate. My roommate’s girlfriend had some cider we had to drink. So I did my part, a little to well. Like blackout drunk and doing dumb stuff and not remembering any of it. And puking on the living room rug. And on the rug in my room. Mushrooms and carrots. 

On Thanksgiving day, I pretty much slept till five pm. I didn’t want to get up. I could hear my roommate vacuuming the puke. Turns out, he had to get a steam cleaner. When I finally did get up, I had no desire to leave the house. So I binge watched The Office and ate a sandwich. The next morning I felt a million times better. 

Did laundry and finally worked up the courage to clean my rug. The weather was beautiful outside. I felt incredibly guilty for not taking advantage. I turned on some music to get psyched. I got dressed and got out to my car, and kind of sat there for a bit, debating whether I really wanted to go out. There was a winter storm warning that was still in effect. I didn’t want to be fooled by this weather and get up into the mountains and then get stranded or blown off. After waffling for a minute, I decided to go anyway. I could always bail if it looked bad. 

Gorgeous start of the hike. 

Got to the trailhead at 2 pm which is a very late start. It was warm and I felt overdressed. At least a dozen people passed me coming down. I saw a guy that used to work at my store. 

I saw fewer and fewer people. And then I ran into this bird. He was just chilling on the trail. I was surprised that he didn’t run away or freak out. I took out a granola bar and fed him little pieces. He was a little nervous, but he’s probably seen (and been fed by) other people before. I fed him another bit of granola and told him I’d see him later. 

Two minutes later, I see a hiker just standing on the trail. It’s a Chinese guy. He appears to be waiting for someone. I ask him if he’s okay. He was tired and had run out of water. He gave me his bottle and I filled it up halfway or so. He said his phone was at 15%, so I lent him my charger.

We started hiking and a minute later, this other Chinese runner guy comes down the hill. “Here Johnny. This is for you.” and the guy gives Johnny a bottled water. I assumed they must know each other and was confused. This guy left his friend behind?? 

Then the runner guy, Wan Ho, wants to get a picture of the three of us. He does, and then he heads down. I ask “You’re leaving him?” He says, “Yeah, I gotta get down before the storm gets here.” Right, that Winter Storm Warning…

Screenshot of Wan Ho’s Strava image. 

Turns out, Wan Ho had just met Johnny on the way up. Wan Ho was just doing his own hike and Johnny was moving too slow. So Wan Ho went to the summit and was going back down. They weren’t friends, they just happened to both be Chinese. 

Johnny and I continued upward toward the saddle. I wanted him to see it since he was so close. He seemed kind of out of it, but he told me he had just flown in from Buffalo, New York on Wednesday. He failed to earn two different degrees at school, and was too ashamed to go back home for Thanksgiving because of his super traditional parents. He had been hiking the last few days to clear his mind. He was leaving tonight at midnight. 

I had no idea what to say about this. I terrible at it but I tried to make small talk. I asked him what he had in his backpack- a laptop (??) and a book. I told him about the bird on the trail. I sort of let the conversation die. His mind was elsewhere. Add to that the elevation was taking a toll on his lungs, he’d hardly eaten anything all day, and he was slipping and sliding in his shoes. Just not a conducive environment to talking. 

I gave him my poles, but he was still sliding so I took off my microspikes and put them on his shoes. He was able to hike much better. We finally got to the saddle and took a few photos. I made him eat some of my food. 

At the Saddle.
The mountains look great in snow. 

I’m not sure if he thought the view was worth the struggle. We didn’t hang around too long. It was about 4pm by this point, so we didn’t have much sunlight left.

I thought going down would be quicker, but it was just as slow, if not slower, than going uphill. He was very tired and taking very small, slow cautious steps. There was a lot of slushy ice on the trail. I slipped a few times, but just small slips. 

This was actually the first time I saw the bird. 

We got to a spot and there was the bird again! He was still there just chilling! And I think he remembered me. I fed him again, at one point he ate out of my hand. I could tell he associated the sound of the wrapper with the food. I don’t know why, but this little bird made me happy. 

There was a constant, slight rain. I was getting chilled moving at such a slow pace, so I  put on my rain pants and rain jacket. It got progressively darker until it was time for a headlamp. I tried to follow Johnny and light his way with my headlamp, but that didn’t work so well. So I had him wear it. I could see surprisingly well without it.  We crept along ever so slowly. 

One other “exciting” thing was that I discovered my phone now has “Night Sight” for taking photos at night. It’s about damn time, Google!

Usually you can tell you’re getting closer by the traffic. It’s weird what a relief it is to hear traffic. It makes me feel like I’m not in the middle of nowhere, although we were still really far from the trailhead. Then the cars start getting slightly bigger as you get closer. The cars seemed tiny for sooo long. But then we got to the last switchback. Then the last staircase. We made it! I was probably more excited than Johnny was. 

Before I dropped him off at the Air BNB he was staying at, we ate some food at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown. After being out in the dark and cold hiking for a few hours, some hot soup and hot tea were just what we both needed.

Johnny should be just about to get on a plane for Buffalo right about now. 

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.


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.

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


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!
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?
  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.
  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
  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.
  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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
      Different terrains, how to cope
      Gravel dirt rock sand scree
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.
      What is it? Why is important? (Video of two different cadences)
      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.
     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
            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 / Join the group REI 131 / American Trail Running Association / Trail runner Magazine / Runner’s World / Tejas Trails Racing / Trail Racing Over Texas aka TROT / Spectrum Racing
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



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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