Planning the Work, Working the Plan – 2014 WS100!

So the race reports lately haven’t exactly been racing themselves to your respective inbox or news feed. Quite the contrary. They’ve definitely been taking a longer time than usual to find their way from my stream of consciousness and on their way to paper (i.e. ones and zeros). Maybe it’s my internal subconscious way of savoring the race experience for just a little while longer. Selfish, I know, but letting a fantastic race and race experience marinate and soak in for a couple extra days can’t hurt right?! I figure that you’ve been mostly preoccupied with World Cup soccer and Hardrock 100 coverage lately (thank you and !), but both of those recently concluded this past weekend, which just leaves the Tour de France to keep you busy during the day at work and/or in the evenings catching the highlights. Did turning 40 in December make me more thoughtful, pensive, and introspective? Hard to say for sure, but it feels GREAT, heck downright CATHARTIC to finally carve out some writing time (on a delayed plane flight from Baltimore back to Austin) after getting re-assimilated into the normal routine at work, making it through the 4th of July holiday weekend, and then spending a couple of very relaxing days visiting my parents and my sister Nicole’s 3 kids in eastern Long Island. Sprained Ankle - March 26, 2014(1)

As you know from my post back in April, turning my ankle BAD at the end of March with 14 weeks until Western States caused a rippling effect of GOOD tweaks and adjustments. The rehab went GREAT, the travel plans got adjusted, races like the Rattler 100k and Lake Sonoma 50m got replaced with different races like Brazos Bend 50m and Quicksilver 100k, Western States training camp went off without a hitch, and I got FOCUSED on getting myself in the best possible shape, attitude, and position to take advantage of what ultimately turned into a very concentrated 10 week build into States.

My crew (wife Meredith, friends Bryan Morton and Justin Wendling) and I enjoyed a super clean travel day to Reno on the Wednesday before the race, stocking up at the grocery store for their “training camp” and the end of my taper before Saturday’s race. Seriously, my crew probably logged more collective miles (running and swimming) in the 3 days before the race than anybody else’s! We’ve been here before and were perfectly comfortable flying under the proverbial radar and doing our own thing. We also enjoyed watching plenty of World Cup soccer matches as well as the USATF Outdoor Track Championships going on in Sacramento.   paul VC


As always, race day arrives before you know it, and 20-time finisher Jim Scott and his wife Mary Jo helped my crew send me off with sage words of advice. paul and jimMy goals going into States this year following my ankle injury evolved into: show up to Foresthill ready to run GREAT on the Cal Street Loop with my first pacer, Granite Bay local and 4-time finisher Lee McKinley; have Lee deliver me to Green Gate in still phenomenal shape ready to hit the 14 mile stretch to Highway 49 HARD with pacer #2 Bryan (and make it there without needing headlamps); and have Meredith bat clean-up and get my ass to the finish line. As a newly minted 40 year old, hopefully this recipe would land me in top-3 Age Group territory competing with the likes of Mike Morton (M3), Nick Clark (M6), Jesse Haynes (M7), Karl Meltzer (M10), Wolfe, Hara, AJW, Barger, Speirs, Gaylord, Skaden, Eadie, Gellin, Hewey, Lantz, and last but certainly not least Redpath. (I think that’s all of us…my apologies if I missed any) Knowing how deep the men’s field was this year, if another top-10 finish was in the cards it would be the result of a perfectly executed day on my part and some serious mistakes and/or misfortune by the talent in front of me, only one of which was remotely within my sphere of influence. [note: Mike Morton would unfortunately not start due to injury]

paul MB

Race morning was absolutely gorgeous and the running was easy up top. My strategy for the high country was to not burn any matches with my competition and to not make any mistakes (especially ankle-related) in this more technical stretch of the “Western States Killing Machine” as Joe Uhan coined it . Although my early pace was slightly slower than my “best case” scenario, it worried me not a bit and I went out about methodically working my way from aid station to aid station. Some of the early miles were spent with one of the women’s favorites Emily Harrison (F7) and later with men’s favorites Yassine Diboun (M9) into Red Star Ridge and fellow Hoka-wearer Karl Meltzer into Robinson Flat. Not bad company to be in right? paul 2

My crew took GREAT care of me at Duncan and Dusty, and volunteer & friend Sam Jurek, and Jim and Mary Jo were friendly faces at Robinson Flat. Exiting Robinson Flat, I came upon a slow-moving Dom Grossman and offered him some aid and gentle encouragement. Things were not looking good for Dom early on yet he was still moving forward which is always a good thing. Karl bombed the downhill section after Little Bald Mountain and would be out of sight until shortly after Last Chance at mile 43. The trail was majestic and I soaked up every possible bit of it through sights, sounds, and smells, a lot of which had changed quite a bit following last year’s American Fire. I really ran a great clean stretch down to Swinging Bridge and the quick dip in the river was a nice refresh before starting the 30+ minute climb up. Downhill legs were perfect and my ankle was 100%. I smartly filled my 3rd water bottle with cold river water, not for drinking but for squirting on my head. Found my hiking legs right away and went to work despite not having anyone visibly in front of me or behind me.

Came into Devil’s Thumb thoroughly under control, greeted by Joe Uhan (thanks for the help!), refilled bottles, grabbed a pina-colada popsicle, which after one lick I knew was not going to sit well so I had to discard the frozen contents minus the stick which I stuck in the pocket of my race vest (no littering and good trail karma per RD Craig!). Upon leaving the lively Last Chance aid station, I caught back up to Karl and asked if he was ready to start running down some young guys yet? He just replied that his downhill legs were not treating him so well today, which surprised me given how eager he was to let it rip coming off of Little Bald Mtn. Back to the business at hand…

Meredith and I (and many others we’re sure of) absolutely love the descent down to El Dorado Creek having enjoyed it many times in both the race and training camps. All systems were go the whole way down and I came into the El Dorado aid station chipper and ready to get back to work on the climb up to Michigan Bluff. The report I got was surprisingly that Clarkie was next man up on the trail. Sure enough, a couple of switchbacks into it and Clarkie’s legs were having none of it today. Offered him some aid and Tylenol and/or Advil but he politely declined and I scooted on by. With experienced 100-milers like Dom, Karl, and now Clarkie fading early my strategy of not burning any matches appeared to be spot-on. No sense in deviating from it now I thought, despite being about 20 minutes behind my “best case” scenario pace. Back to the business at hand…

Before long I came into Michigan Bluff energetically telling my crew that, “Lee better be ready to RUN when I get to Foresthill!” Traded in my race vest for 2 handhelds which felt FANTASTIC to get a break from it. Upon leaving, Pam Smith’s (F1) husband Mac cheered me on from the shuttle bus, so I wasn’t certain if Pam was in front of me (and Mac was just leaving Michigan Bluff) or she was behind me (and Mac was just getting to Michigan Bluff). Either was I was super-motivated and greatly looking forward to Volcano Canyon and running the climb up Bath Rd with Justin. After running this section a few more times in training camp in May it went by much quicker than the previous 2 years. Justin was waiting as expected at Bath Rd and we made easy work of the climb (thanks for the ICY COLD towel Justin) and the run in to Foresthill aid station. My crew set to work swapping out my Hoka Bondis for Rapa Nui Trails and a fresh pair of Drymax Trail Team RWB issue V5.0 socks. They also deftly switched the timing D-Tag which I had safety pinned to a neoprene ankle strap (see photo). Lee and I set off and he brought me up to speed on the competition and how the race was playing out in front of me.

Some nice perspective upon entering the Cal St trail is the view of Squaw Valley Peak off to our left which Lee pointed out to me…how far I had come already, 62 miles in just a little over 10 ½ hours!!! Lee and I ran this section in training camp together at right about the same time of day as a “dress rehearsal” of sorts, so I’m not surprised that we found our groove immediately with me setting the pace in front of him. We made quick work of Cal-1 and  were on the hunt, exactly the position we expected to be in!! Believe that we first overtook Yoshikazu Hara and his pacer and soon thereafter Yassine and his pacer. So far so good…after Cal-2 we reeled in Gary Gellin and his pacer and fellow-Team RWBer Zach Bitter. Gary was quick to ask, “Where’s Karl?” I barely managed a shoulder shrug instead focusing on the work ahead. Later, Lee and I would chuckle that wherever Karl was he was probably now hunting Gary more so than me! In what seemed like a blink of an eye, Lee and I were at Rucky Chucky nearside and I made quick work of the obligatory weigh-in, oblivious to a laid-out Michael Aish at the aid station, before hitting the cable crossing, finally, no boat crossing this year!!! Lee and I were totally stoked to wade across and be greeted by Meredith, Justin, and Jim on the farside, where the report I heard from the aid station was 13th place (more on this later). We boogied outta’ there and Meredith set a perfect tempo for all of us, including Jim who didn’t miss a beat AT ALL, shooting some GoPro footage along the way. I guess you don’t knock out 20 of these (3 of which were top-10) and not have some damn good legs under you!!!! J Upon exiting Green Gate, I caught a glimpse of Jorge Maravilla (2014 Bandera 100k champ) in a chair and thought to myself, okay, that makes me 12th, top-10 might actually happen again. Back to the work at hand…paul thinksportpaul gg

Bryan and I set off and just like with Lee we dialed in our pace immediately. We’ve run together so many times since 2012 that it’s almost second nature. This year, we didn’t have the back and forth competition of Jesse Haynes to spur us on, but we were motivated to catch Vajin Armstrong before Auburn Lakes Trail and then David Laney (2nd at 2014 Bandera 100k) at the ALT aid station (mile 85) itself. Sorry Vajin for not being so talkative when we came by, had some serious work to do!!! Admittedly I did shush Bryan for volunteering our identity as we came by, run silent run deep. Soooooo….that should have put me into 10th place but upon exiting ALT the volunteer told me I was 13th! What, how can that be, I was 13th at the River and passed 3 people! Bryan rightly corrected me that I was really 16th at the River so we still had significant amount of work to do to reach 12th place Chris Price (Hoka), who was 16 minutes ahead of me after being 18 minutes ahead at Green Gate. Back to work we went…paul green gate

A quickie pit stop in the woods after ALT meant I forfeited some time going into Brown’s Bar, and there was nothing left to do except make it to Highway 49 with the remaining daylight, which we did right at 9pm. I knew that unless your last name is Olson or Krar, a 60 minute split for the last 6.2 miles is unheard of so a sub 17 hour finish was out the door for me. Chris was 13 minutes up and barring a complete meltdown had 12th place locked up.

Meredith rightly got the spurs into me, encouraging me to fight for every last step. We targeted a 70-minute split and planned to run it at twilight during training camp, but instead opted for an earlier 2nd run of the day. Emily Harrison and I nailed this section during training camp but that was in the late morning, not at 9pm, not with headlamps, not at night. Ugh, I diligently pressed ahead but it was not enough and lost a healthy chunk of time that Lee and Bryan had helped me work so hard to make up. Maybe I needed something to run for…although a PR was in the bag, no other time goal of any significance was worth attaining (Chris easily came in sub 17 with a 16:58), and there were no headlamps in front of me or behind me…until we hit the last climb up to Robie Pt…a lone headlamp…could only be Karl right? Never uses a pacer! He had certainly once again resurrected himself and his downhill legs from the dead I thought to myself! I don’t think Meredith saw the light but I sure did and it lit a fire under my butt to make sure we hit the pavement at Robie Pt with a comfortable enough gap to somewhat enjoy and savor the last mile with my crew and coach Steve Sisson who had come over from the USATF Outdoor Championships. When we made it there, Meredith was on me like white on rice to get moving and stop chit-chatting with my crew. Needless to say she was not happy with me despite what felt like to me was a brisk pace. Wow do I have some recalibrating to do!!! She did give me a hard-earned finish-line kiss though! paul finish linepaul pushup

Either way, we got the job done in a 30-minute PR of 17:26 and 2nd in the 40-49 AG to 10th place finisher Jesse Haynes in 16:36 who just ran a TREMENDOUS race. Jesse and his fiancée Keira and I also shared some miles together during training camp and I know how much time, effort, and dedication they put into this race. So proud of him and his team.


And who was the owner of that lone headlamp stalking me at mile 98? Not Karl, but none other than 19-year old Jared Hazen, who only finished 4 minutes behind me, holy crow watch out for him!!!!!

What I used & wore:

  • Hoka Bondis (start to mile 62)
  • Hoka Rapa Nui Trail (mile 62 to finish)
  • Drymax Trail v5.0 Team RWB Issue socks (nothing better)
  • Patagonia Strider Pro shorts (love the fit and pockets!)
  • Patagonia Air Flow Tank (thanks to Tik Tok Ink for the custom print job!)
  • Patagonia Duck Bill Cap
  • thinksport sunscreen
  • Bonk Breaker bars
  • Oakley Radar Path sunglasses, G30 lens
  • Ultimate Direction AK Race Vest
  • Petzl Myo XP headlamp
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written by MeredithBy Rick Kentrrr1

I was sitting here trying to think of a better acronym for CREW: Crabby Runner Endless Waiting; Constant Running Endless Whining; Can’t Run Endless Whining…none just seemed to fit the bill of what I think CREWing is all about. So, I came up with my own: GOYU: Give Of Yourself Unconditionally. (truly what a Sherpa is)

Part of the reason Team Terranova runs so smoothly is because when it is the athlete’s turn to race the other gives of themselves unconditionally. That might mean shortened workouts, change of plans (we call those audibles at our house), extra chores, and completely 100% being there on race weekend. I am not saying this is for everyone, but this works for us.

After I finished WS in 2010, Paul decided to move from triathlon to the ultra-running world. Meredith-WS6And, because he doesn’t do anything in a small way that meant The Grand Slam + IM Hawaii in the same summer. After that he qualified for WS in 2013 at Bandera 100K. But let me back up a moment to that Bandera 100K 2013. We were enjoying an easy trail run together when I started talking about running the Bandera 50K which runs at the same time as the Bandera 100K. I hadn’t really taken “my turn” after the whole Grand Slam funness and I was starting to get the feeling that I was getting sloppy seconds on races and race weekends. That enjoyable trail run didn’t quite end the way it started, but it did end with Paul telling me that Bandera was important to him and that he really needed me there to CREW. Bandera finish 2013So, all in I went. What that means is that we are a finally tuned NASCAR Pit machine. We don’t have to talk, we are completely dialed in, and Paul has amazing success without a moment of lost momentum. But, what that also meant was that I needed to find something for me that didn’t get in the way of his Ultra pursuits. And, of course, if I were to follow in the footsteps of we don’t do anything small I decided to swim around Key West, 12.5 ocean miles around the island. But, it was more than that. It was 6 hours for Paul to sit in a kayak and fully support me 3 weeks before his goal race. Many people would be stressing about the weekend of workouts lost, the endless downside of sitting in a boat in the heat paddling for 6 hours 3 weeks before their goal race, but that’s not how it works. Paul went all in: prepping my bottles, slathering me in zinc oxide, and only hitting me with the kayak once in 12.5 miles. 2013-06-08 14.02.02The end result was that three weeks later the tables were turned and I went all in for him: prepping meals, bottles, carrying loads, washing heat training clothes (I just call heat training an excuse for him to create more laundry for me), and pacing.

Knowing that Paul’s goal was to do well enough at WS to return again, I knew I needed to set a goal that fit in the midst of his off time or not key training. 992876_598258643538343_1558941075_nAnd, since he didn’t seem to maximize all 30 hours at his races, and thus utilizing my full potential for long-term help (well, aside from the sadness that was Run Rabbit Run for him…note here – don’t start a 50 miler on 30 minutes of sleep after crewing) I thought I would go big and give him the opportunity to crew for me for 3 days (see his post about Ultraman Florida). For folks who thought we had the crewing and teamwork down, well that was child’s play compared to what he did at Ultraman. Everything was flawless. Sure if you ask him, now, he will talk about some of the things that went wrong, that he could have done better, that I could have done better (I don’t know if he has completely gotten over the fact that two bottles of ice were annoying me on day 3…he even documented it like Dustin Hoffman did in Rain Man: at 9:44 on Sunday yelled and didn’t want two bottles with ice) Funny now, but not even for a moment did I know that was happening while I was racing. It was completely because he was totally giving of himself to me and my race.DCIM100GOPROthe crrew

The moment I crossed the finish line at Ultraman it was and is my turn! The schedule had been planned for Paul to do races to lead up to WS. But, as with anything in life, things changed. He injured his ankle, and everything needed to be rearranged and hopefully repaired for a great execution. As a Team that meant that I went into motivation mode: getting on the bike with him, forcing him to swim with me, finding alternative training races, rearranging reservations, and taking the baby steps he needed to get back to golden. As he healed, since I was all in I was just as happy and relieved as he was. His success meant as much to me as it does to him.

Fast forward to May and his changed training race of Quicksilver 100K. This was going to be our first time in months to practice our pit crew work. I was super excited for it…until I couldn’t find the first crew aid station in the dark. I drove up and down a road for an hour. I was almost in tears. He was just with one bottle and I was going to give him his race vest with two bottles. CRAP!! I have never missed him at a crew spot, ever. More than missing giving him his pack I knew that he would be worried for where in the world I was. I was afraid he would stop and try to call me vs. continuing on. I went into problem solve mode knowing that the next place I could see him (aside from the aid station we had planned) was a 5 mile climb from the aid station. I hauled butt to the aid station, put his pack under my pack so that I wouldn’t adjust his straps from where he keeps them, and I ran up and up and up to meet him. I got to the aid station and was totally confused because they were closer than I thought they should be. Turns out they had set the aid station up in the wrong spot. Good for me because I didn’t miss him, but bad for the runners. Sure enough as Paul came through (maybe in 4th-5th place) he said he had worried where I was. I got him all set, and off he went. From there I took the other trail to haul butt down to catch him at the next spot. Fortunately, the aid stations were well stocked and he was just fine without seeing me…but I had gone crazy feeling I had totally failed my job. For the rest of the race I was totally on it, we had a great dress rehearsal for WS, and he had a great training run cruising in 2nd place.


As we closed into our final 7 weeks before raceday, it was and is his time to know that I am all in. Training Camp weekend you can just call me the driver and this year the bonus mileage runner (of course I don’t mind those pieces). training camp

If you don’t see me in the next few days it is because in the midst of working, I am cramming all my training in before our departure. (which will be about 21 miles swimming and some running and biking) Because when we land in Reno it is game on. Not game on for Paul (he is all good), but game on for me…food prep, crew/pacer organizing, checking/re-checking/and re-checking for good measure every instruction and direction I will make happen for him on raceday. All he has to do is go run on those most incredibly sacred trails. All he has to do is put forth the race that he is ready to run. And I will be there to do all the rest! GOYU!!

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Got Tangled

Two posts coming this week!  One to catch up and one to be on track…

My last blogpost concluded with my upcoming sherpa-duty for Meredith at Ultraman Florida, which I’m proud to report back was a TOTAL success: she was the 2nd woman finisher and 11th overall!!! All that hard work and early mornings on the bike trainer really paid off for her. Unfortunately we weren’t able to stay for the awards ceremony on Monday night (the race ended Sunday afternoon/evening), but hopefully we’ll get the opportunity to stay for the awards ceremony at another Ultraman.


Upon returning to Texas, my training resumed full bore and firing on all cylinders, navigating a week of training called “the Gauntlet” by my coach Steve Sisson, a relatively easier week which included a course reconnaissance of the first Rogue 30k Trail Series races “The Tangle” out at Flat Creek Ranch, only to be followed a week later by ANOTHER beast of a week which unfortunately was not named but should have been called “the Gauntlet II”. Seriously, it was awesome, wouldn’t have it any other way, and it was all systems “GO” going into the Tangle 30k on March 23…


By now, I’m used to toeing the line before the sun rises or just at daybreak, and I’ve learned to bring a headlamp or small handheld light and not unduly rush things right out of the gate, especially on technical terrain. No use in taking a tumble or getting off-course for no good reason right? Fortunately, a local young-gun 22-year old Moses Luevano took the bull by the horns early leaving “seasoned” Andrew Letherby and I to give chase at our own leisure.   Andrew and I easily made it to the first aid station about 3 miles into the 10k (aka 7-mile) loop with plenty of daylight and embarked upon the 2nd half of the loop back to the start/finish line for the first of three loops. With the course reconnaissance from the weekend before still fresh in my mind, I deftly followed Andrew down a short steep “craggly” limestone grade which quickly turns into a wooden footbridge over a dry-streambed…except before I reached the footbridge my left ankle rolled ALL the way over to the outside after the slightest of misteps on the limestone, OUCH! MOTHER F’ER! and a host of other expletives left my mouth before regaining some sense of composure as Andrew looked back at me as if to say, “C’mon let’s go we have a race to run!” I waved him on and amazingly stayed upright and making slow forward gimpy progress as I assessed the damage. The good thing was relentless forward progress could still be made without rolling it again, the bad thing was it was not nearly enough to keep up with Andrew. As a wave of nausea and light-headedness came over me, I kept moving forward in the hope that like other less serious ankle sprains and twists, this one would loosen up with some running and everything would be okay. Washed a gel down with water to get some calories in my bloodstream and my mind wrapped around making it back to the start/finish line. By now, my ankle was already swelling and pressing against the shoe upper, and proactively I took some Tylenol to start taking the edge off the pain which was multiplying with each step. Fortunately, I made it the 3 or so miles back and knew that continuing on for another 14 miles was not going to further my fitness any nor start the healing process any quicker. Huge thanks to race director Diana Ferguson’s Mom for quickly getting my ankle iced and wrapped up! Moses went on to win handily and Andrew finished 9 minutes later in 2nd place.

Later that same evening, I served as host at the inaugural “Rogue Family Dinner” held at Uncle Billy’s on Barton Springs Road, with all proceeds benefitting Team RWB . Can’t thank Leslie at Rogue for helping put it all together and for everyone who attended to share running, & life stories, and hopefully run/walk away inspired. Special thanks to our anonymous Rogue Family Dinner “angel” for picking up the dinner tab and as a result channeled over $600 to Team RWB!

Needless to say, the last 4 weeks were spent on getting the swelling down and maintaining mobility without reinjuring the ankle. Although I was able to load it pain-free, it was awfully tender when doing anything laterally. Huge thanks to Dr. Z and his staff Bryanna and Evan for getting me back to running as quickly as possible and my wife Meredith for encouraging me to get in the pool, on the trainer, and even hike hills at every opportunity! Very thankful that I didn’t need an x-ray, MRI, or a boot. I’ll definitely be spending the next couple months continuing to re-strengthen and mold the ankle ligaments. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the invaluable resource that Allan Besselink provides in his book RunSmart to help understand the phases of injury and the best approach to healing and preventing future injuries.

Sprained Ankle - March 23, 2014 Sprained Ankle - March 26, 2014(1)

Unfortunately, I had to pull out of the Austin Rattler 100k on March 30th and Lake Sonoma 50 on April 12th. Bummed for sure but there was no way I’d be toeing the line that soon. That being said, I’m now looking forward to the inaugural Brazos Bend 50 miler as my first race back and then the Quicksilver 100k!qsracing/csjf 2 weeks after that before heading back out to California for Western States training camp over Memorial Day weekend!


Thanks for reading y’all. -Paul

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Sean O’Brien Race Report

Following the Bandera 100k in January, my recovery (1 week) and training started clicking back into place.  Had 4 tough road workouts with my Team Rogue mates, 3 massages, a steady 18-miler, and a 2 ½ hour bike ride out on Parmer Lane leading into the inaugural Sean O’Brien 50k on February 1 in sunny and gorgeous Malibu, California.  I had heard that RD Keira Henninger puts on amazing races and this one would turn out to be no different!

Meredith and I flew out on Friday morning, grabbed some groceries, checked in to the hotel, enjoyed a quick shake-out run at the race site at Malibu Creek State Park, and then a fantastic easy swim at the Westlake Athletic Club, as Meredith did a long swim, before hitting packet pickup and finally enjoying some pre-race dinner.  Leadville 100 stud Michael Aish and his wife Nicole joined us briefly for some pre-race discussion, and then it was off to bed!

My goal going into the 50k was to run the race that I SHOULD HAVE run in Bandera, where I went out way too fast and paid the price.  The cool breezy morning, steep climbs out of the chute, and out and back course made this an ideal venue to “recalibrate” my race effort.  All systems were “go” and I smartly did not get sucked into the early fast pace of both the 50k and 26m runners, both of which started at 7am.  Wore a thin pair of gloves for maybe the first 30-45 minutes and then I didn’t need them anymore.  Quickly refilled a water bottle at aid station #2 (mile 11), and then made up some spots cruising through aid station #3 where some runners had drop bags.  The turnaround at mile 15.5 was supposed to have water but didn’t;  luckily I had been nursing one of my two bottles and made it back to aid station #5 (mile 18) none the worse for wear.  Believe I was somewhere in the top-5 at this point and within striking distance of 4th and 3rd, so I buckled down on the 2 mile stretch to aid station #6 (mile 20) and ran really strong all the way to the finish, absolutely LOVING the long downhill stretches and views of the coastline that came with it.  We don’t get long descents like that in Texas!!!   My finish time of 4:25:57 was only about a 2 minute positive split so I was really happy with my effort.

Meredith smartly opted for the 26M run, after being sick, as one of her last “long” runs before Ultraman Florida in 3 weeks, so I got to see her on the trail in between aid station #5 and #6.  She was running GREAT, and finished as the 2nd place woman!  The finish line post-race spread was absolutely fantastic, with plenty of food, drink, friends, sunshine and photos to go around.  (need to find some photos and get them posted, maybe they are somewhere in the facebook cloud?)

Up next, it’s my turn to be ultra-sherpa at Ultraman Florida, can’t wait to support my wife in her epic journey like she has for me SO many times!!!   Thanks for reading y’all.

P.S. Definitely put next year’s SOB on your race calendar, especially if you need a mid-winter break from some dysfunctional weather!!! J

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Bandera 2014

This race report has been brewing and stewing for the better part of 2+ weeks.  I should be over the moon on cloud nine after just turning 40 in December and earning my first masters national title and running a 100km PR, right?  HA, the irony of life!  Howard Jones has sung about it, even Alanis Morissette.  No matter how many times I slice and dice it, rationalize it, strategize it, replay it, etc., the truth of the matter is I went out too fast.  There, I said it.  Precisely, 16 seconds per mile too fast in the first 5 miles, and 23 seconds per mile too fast in the subsequent 5 miles.  That was enough to put me 3 ½ minutes ahead of my intended time with over 50 miles to run, and enough to ensure that I would give ALL of it back and THEN some.  The morning was TOO PERFECT and the running was TOO GOOD early on and I got carried away.  Big-Lesson-Learned.  Jorge Maravilla, David Laney, and Chikara Omine flat-out dominated the course and ran near-perfect races. 2014-01-11 07.25.452014-01-11 07.24.442014-01-11 08.51.27

Huge kudos to David Hanenburg and Endurance Buzz for compiling this sweet pre-race program , post-race recap: , and Bonus Q&A including some play-by-play of how the rest of the day unfolded:

Rick Kent, Craig Mitchell, and the EnduroPhoto team captured some great images:

Thanks also for the mighty Roy Pirrung for his USATF representation, doling out the medals, patches, checks, and his summary:

Joe and Joyce Prusaitis and the whole Tejas Trails crew did an amazing job AGAIN in the Cowboy Capital of the World.  2014-01-11 16.22.00

Want to give a HUGE shout out to the Crownover boys, Micah (age 9) and Noah (age 12) for tackling the 25km race out there and then running me into the finish!2014-01-11 16.22.53

Up next is Sean O’Brien 50km out in California.  After 2 snow/ice storms in Texas, Meredith and I need some west coast time and sunshine.  Then…it’s my turn to be ultra-sherpa at Ultraman Florida, can’t wait to support my wife in her epic journey like she has for me SO many times!!!   Thanks for reading. 2014-01-11 16.23.41

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2013 Year in Review

WOW, time flies when you’re having fun, especially in the month of December, which started off with a BANG by turning 40 on the 1st!  Got in a good 40 mile weekend: 20 on Saturday (14 road/6 trail), and then 20 miles of 40 half-mile hill repeats in front of the house, with the front yard secretly decorated with all kinds of photos!!  Technically I’ve been told by my friend Trey, it was really a single out and back followed by 39 repeats of the first one.  Semantics.  Anyway, it was GREAT fun and even better training to get in almost 4000’ of climbing in just over 3 hours, cap it off with 40 pushups, a signed copy of Unbroken…signed by none other than Louis Zamperini (thank you Meredith and Jana) , and then some great food and drinks and friends all hosted by my amazing wife Meredith, thanks babe! photo 5 (6) 40 Repeats DONE 40th Birthday yard art Hill of Life Run_Dec 4, 2013_1 of 6

If you’re a runner, the first week in December has quickly become synonymous with The Running Event (TRE) held in Austin.  I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take HOKA ONE ONE co-founder Nicolas Mermoud on a guided tour of Austin’s famed greenbelt trails.  The weather did NOT disappoint, as we were treated to warm weather and sunshine (enough to warrant a quick soak in Barton Creek) before the “cold” snap hit later in the week.  TRE did not disappoint either, as the HOKA booth was slammed all week checking out the new lineup for 2014 and beyond.Hill of Life Run_Dec 4, 2013_5 of 6Hill of Life Run_Dec 4, 2013_4 of 6

Once the cold snap hit, Jeff Browning (aka Bronco Billy)  joined me and my Team Rogue mates for an early morning 2 x 3-mile road session, as he was getting ready for XC Nationals a couple of weeks later.  Couple of extra miles on the trails and Jeff was set to go!


The next weekend was El Sendero 60k out at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet.  Slightly different format than last year: three 20km loops in lieu of the five 12km loops last year.  Chilly weather (for Texas) at least had me starting in a short sleeve shirt and thin vest, arm warmers, gloves and a beanie.  Thought I’d be dropping at least some of these clothes after the first or second loop, yet it stayed cool and breezy enough all day to keep them on.  Speedy high-schooler Ford Smith blasted off the front for the 6am start, while veteran runner but ultra-newbie Andrew Letherby opted to play it cool from mid-pack.  I stayed in the top-5 until the sun rose and after the first 10k which is a lot of scrambling over wet granite rocks at odd pitches.  The second 10k is more wide open and runnable.  After the first loop I expected to be in second place behind Ford but he ended up going off course somewhere.  From there, I just ran an even, steady race-pace effort and split almost exactly 1:41, 1:42, 1:43 for the loops, very happy to notch the win and hold off Andrew who only finished 10 minutes back.  Erik Stanley and Diana Ferguson did an AMAZING job with RDing and course setup.  First race in the HOKA Rapa Nui Trail and they were fantastic all day!RogueTrailMix-34

The following day it was time to bank some volunteer hours by helping replant the loblolly pine forest out at Bastrop State Park, one of Meredith’s VERY favorite places to trail run.  The Lost Pines Forest and surrounding areas were devastated by the Bastrop County Complex wildfire in September/October 2011.  In just four hours, the volunteer crew of approximately 30 volunteers, working in pairs, planted 1,411 loblolly seedling plugs along scenic Park Road 1C which links Bastrop State Park to Buescher State Park.  Huge thanks to friends Justin, Jeanmarie, and Trey for joining me while Meredith rode her bike from home out to the park (about 60 miles).  We then celebrated Justin’s birthday over lunch at the Bastrop Roadhouse!Bastrop Tree Planting_Dec 15, 2013Seedling 1 of 1411_Dec 15, 2013

Finally, last weekend we ventured out to the Hill Country for a quick 2-day training camp out in Bandera, prepping for the 100km USATF Trail Champs on January 11.  After some ugly GI issues on Friday and hail, lightning, and cold rain on Saturday morning, the skies cleared and treated us (Meredith, Kristal, Todd, and me) to a glorious weekend unlike we’ve ever had out there!  The girls got to spend some quality time with the horses and longhorn steer that live on the property where we stayed.  Solid 25 miles on Saturday and 18 on Sunday and it was time to hit the DQ on the way home for a celebration Blizzard!2013-12-20 16.49.22Post-run Rapa Nuis_Dec 22, 2013

Hopefully everyone has by now enjoyed an invigorating and recharging Christmas season and is looking forward to what 2014 has in store.  I know I am.  Thanks for reading y’all!Post-run legs cut up by sotol_Dec 22, 2013

I’m amazingly thankful for the running and triathlon “gift” that God has allowed me to explore.  Huge thanks as always to Hoka One One, Rogue Running, Jack & Adam’s Bicycles and High Five Events, Pure Austin Gym, DryMax Socks, Bonk Breaker Energy Bars, Advanced Rehab, thinksport, RunSmart, and Eating & Living Healthy for enabling me to train and race at my potential.

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Never Give Up

2011 finishing place: 3rd Airplane boarding zone: 3

Hotel room number: 333 Assigned bib number: 3

Notice a trend?


While I hoped to break the trend of “3”, the race obviously played out differently.  The pace seemed quick from the gun, with Ryan Smith of Boulder and local Liberty University alum Jordan Whitlock leading the way and a healthy chase group near behind.  Good chance for me to catch up with last year’s winner and the 2011 runner-up Brian Rusiecki.  Brian and his wife Amy came down to Texas earlier this year for the Nueces 50 miler and we got to spend time with them heading back and forth from Austin to Camp Eagle in Rocksprings.  Brian and I were careful to pay attention to the white ribbons marking the course, as the lead guys keep veering off course at inopportune times, once heading up a creek in ankle-deep water before circling back to the main trail!  The mountains of Virginia treated us to a GORGEOUS morning and a classic mid-Atlantic fall day.  Such a gift to be running, and only had to wear gloves for the first 15 minutes.  On to the task at hand…

By the time we reached Robinson Gap aid station (mile 17), Ryan had about a 2 minute lead on Brian, Jordan, 2011 champion Eric Grossman, me, and a couple others.  We were rolling pretty well through the Irish Creek (mile 20) and Reservoir (mile 22) aid stations before the big climb of the day up to Long Mountain.  Brian opened up a gap on me on the steeper sections of the climb, he was definitely feeling good!!!  Once it flattened out a bit coming into the mile 27 aid station I had just about bridged back up to him.  I hit my drop bag as fast as I could, reloaded bottles, and started the last half of the climb.  By this point, Brian had at least a 3 minute gap on me that extended to 5 minutes by the time we entered the Loop at mile 33.  I knew Grossman was close behind from the cheers at the aid station so there was no time to dally.

mmtr2014Heading downhill at mile 30 of MMTR 50 – photo by Blanks Blankinship

Had a decent time in the 5.5 mile Loop, except for a WICKED fall where I caught a toe on a leave-hidden rock and hit the deck hard on both knees and elbows, ouch that hurt!  Just kept moving and making forward progress, as Grossman was still in hot pursuit and there may have been a chance to catch one of the 2 leaders at this point.  But the gaps at the aid stations stayed in the mid-single digits and I was not able to put any good time into either Brian, who had assumed the lead at this point, or Ryan who stayed solid all day.

Coming into the last aid station at mile 47, I had not caught a glimpse of Grossman for quite some time yet still pressed the last couple miles of downhill to the finish.  MUCH to my surprise, Eric comes BLASTING downhill with about 2 or 3 miles to go!!   I quickly turned around to say, “holy sh!t”, and tucked right in behind him.  He was moving FAST, and knows this course as well as anyone.  Sipped on my calories and water while “enjoying” the kamikaze draft, I did not want to lose 3rd place at this point.  Exiting the rougher jeep road section and hitting the smoother steeper jeep road, my memory of the run-in to the finish came back to me.  I GUNNED it and took the longest strides my quads could take, thankful for the smooth ride of the Bondi-Bs.  Before long, the “1 mile” chalk mark appeared and although I opened up a small gap, Eric was by no means done, he kept pushing hard himself, probably hoping that by the time we hit the pavement for the last flat ½ mile I would be toast.  Passing a mountain biking David Horton I yelled, “Grossman’s hot on my heels!” and kept at it until the finish line, only 14 seconds separating 3rd and 4th.  Wow, that was exciting and a great way to NEVER GIVE UP.  Full results here:


I’m amazingly thankful for the running and triathlon “gift” that God has allowed me to explore.  Huge thanks to my new Sponsor Hoka One One, who I look forward to representing, as well as: Rogue Running, Jack & Adam’s Bicycles and High Five Events, Pure Austin Gym, DryMax Socks, Bonk Breaker Energy Bars, Soleus Watches, Advanced Rehab, thinksport, RunSmart, and Eating & Living Healthy for enabling me to train and race at my potential.

Thanks for reading y’all!

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