About my blog

Welcome to my trail running site. I enjoy being on the trail where I can take in nature and clear my mind. I prefer running in the mountains, but anywhere rural will do. I have completed four 100 mile trail races and many other ultramarathons. I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

What I Did on Black Friday

We spent our long Thanksgiving weekend at the BR Ranch visiting family and getting some much needed R&R. I decided that I wouldn't run at all the entire four day weekend. Just kidding. Pretend I never wrote that last sentence. Actually I did a lot of running in one of our least populated counties —Hudspeth, TX. Black Friday seems like such a bore to me. I can't even imagine what some people go through just for some Christmas savings. On the other hand, I got some great deals on quietude, scenery and nature and all it cost me was some calories which I had plenty of after eating our Thanksgiving meal.

Harry and Lucky leading the way
Quitman Mts (Hudspeth Co, TX)
Out here, there are nothing but miles and miles of dirt roads that wind along our southern most border and into the Quitman Mountains near Sierra Blanca, TX. There are more cows around here than people and wildlife abounds. When our family gets together in West Texas, everyone brings a dog or three and I always have some friendly company on my runs. My dogs Lucy and Sierra are getting older and Lucy was bitten by a rattlesnake last fall so they have only been going on walks with me lately. Taz, on the other hand, loves running with his cousins Harry (Potter) and Lucky, so named because she was found stranded in the middle of the desert on these very roads. 

Read: Rattlesnake Bite, Again!

Taz is part Mexican hairless so he wears a shirt or sweater
While out on my jaunts, I enjoyed watching quail, hawks, water foul and jackrabbits. The dogs chased a jackrabbit across the road and I've never seen any animal run so fast. In fact, they can reach speeds of up to 40 mph and leap 10 feet. Jackrabbits are actually hares because they are bigger, have larger ears and, unlike rabbits, live completely above ground. The only way for them to escape predators is to have fleet feet which this one did, because the dogs returned empty handed and out of breath.

Gamble's Quail
American Coot
It's what's for dinner
While running and taking in the great beauty of this vast landscape, I thought about how  thankful I am to live in a country where I can run free in wide open spaces. While refugees around the world are fleeing danger, we are able to live and raise our children in a stable environment. No matter how bad we may think we have it in the US, never forget that others around the world are dealing with much worse and sometimes devastating situations. 

Li'l Red and Ranger
Besides running, I had a good time riding around checking out the border and Rio Grande river levee where we saw a huge rattlesnake stretched out across the road.  On the way back, some collared peccaries (javelina) were milling about on the side of the road. The river, which is usually dry in this stretch known as the "forgotten river", actually flooded recently because more water than usual was released from lakes upstream and the channel was blocked downstream. 

Mexico on the other side of the fence
Border fence
Read: The "Forgotten River" of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo

Indeed I got in a lot of R&R at the BR. (By the way R&R stands for running and relaxation.) I logged around 45 miles over four days. When I wasn't running, I occupied myself by watching sunsets, birds, and kids riding horses. Of course I took a lot of pictures too so I will leave you with a photo gallery of my weekend. See you on the trail.

W. Texas sunsets

Texas rainbow cactus
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake
Quitman Pass
Purple Prickly Pear Cactus
Quitman Mts

Juniper in a side canyon
Flood plain

Saturday, November 5, 2016

One More Lap!

Several years ago I was running a 27 mile loop around the Franklin Mountains State Park. The trails here are very steep and rugged and temperatures can get brutally hot even in the fall. Several mountain bike races are held in the park each year and I happened to be running the day after a race. Hot and completely exhausted, I was approaching the end of my run around mile 25 when I read a race sign that said, “One More Lap!”. I chuckled to myself and thought, NEVER—that would be impossible! One loop out here can damn near kill a man, but two?

lechuguilla stalk

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Mt Taylor 50K

After years of hoping to run the Mt Taylor 50K, my wish finally came true. The mountain itself is bigger than life. Not only because it’s 11,300 feet high, but also because it is sacred to the Navajo and other Native American people. Ancient myths were born here like the story about a slain monster, his coagulated blood flowing down the volcano and the head, known as Cabezon Peak flung to the east. (I saw this rock formation when I ran Deadman Peaks 50 last year.) 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Franklin Mountains Trail Runs (Volunteer)

What’s harder—running the Franklin Mountains Trail Runs or volunteering at the Franklin Mountains Trail Runs? After three days of volunteering as a Team Red, White and Blue member, I’m starting to wonder. I had a great time giving back to the sport I love by helping at this Trail Racing Over Texas (TRoT) event that was held in the Franklin Mountains State Park, El Paso, TX on 9-11 September. The race itself was very tough on the runners. I’ve run the 50K course in training and have made many trips to the top of North Franklin Peak (7192’ elev) so I have felt their pain.

Team RWB member gettin' it done. 
Photo: Myke Hermsmeyer/Trail Racing Over Texas
Many of the photos in this post were taken by Myke Hermsmeyer. Please visit his photography site for galleries of the races. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Blister Prevention

Ultra runners love nothing more than showing off their black toes, lost toenails and blisters. If you doubt me, just hang out at an aid station or finish line of a 100 mile endurance run especially one with creek crossings and swampy conditions. You are sure to see runners proudly comparing their blisters to see who has the gnarliest feet. They share photos on social media and wear their pus filled protuberances like badges of honor.

This is the last cute feet picture you will see in this post.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

Silverheels 100 Miler

Lungs don't fail me now. Come on heart you can do it. 1-2-3-4-5 steps, rest. Breath...1-2-3-4-5. Repeat. How much farther can it be to the top? This is truly a soul crushing climb up to Hoosier Ridge at over 12,000 feet elevation. My lungs are searing, my head feels swimmy, but I keep plodding relentlessly hoping I can make the top. Finally I reach a sign, the turnaround point where I'm supposed to pick up a playing card to prove I was here. I look around for the deck of cards only to find a marmot turd and a few chewed spades and hearts. I pick up half a card and stop to take in the expansive view of the Mosquito range of Colorado. It really is spectacular and most of my discomfort temporarily subsides.

I'm at mile 42 of the Silverheels 100 miler that started in Fairplay, CO south of Breckenridge. Several days before the race, I received an email informing the 40 participants that the course isn't 100 miles at all, but over 105 with 18,000+ feet of elevation gain. This is the most ambitious run I've attempted to date and I have a lot of doubts about finishing it.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Santa Fe Lakes and Peaks

I recently spent a few days in the Santa Fe National Forest training for my upcoming 100 mile trail race, the Silverheels 100 in Fairplay, CO. The race is run at an average elevation of 11,000' with a high point of over 12,000 feet so I needed some serious climbing at high altitude. Santa Fe, NM seemed like a great training location with several peaks in the 12,500' range. Besides, the mercury in the Desert Southwest has regularly risen well over 100 degrees so I needed to head for the hills to beat the heat.

Santa Fe Baldy