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 a few 100 milers and many other ultramarathon trail races and marathons. I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sierra Vista Trail 50K

“I forgot to post on Facebook I was running…All that training for nothing!” I laughed (or should I say LMAO) when I saw that meme on a friends FB wall this week (thanks Vince). Well, that is how I feel this morning while fiddling with my phone, frantically trying to get my Charity Miles App to work. It seems they’ve upgraded the program and now I don’t know how to work it. If you aren’t familiar with Charity Miles, it donates 25 cents to your charity for every mile you run and then you get to post your run on FB. I always run for Team RWB, but my race starts before I have time to figure out the new “improved” app. 

The Sierra Vista Trail 50K (and 30K and 10K) is run in the newly declared Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument near Las Cruces, NM. The entire monument encompasses a half million acres in four separate areas, but we are running the Organ Mts portion, the most scenic part in my opinion. The trail parallels the mountains and heads south all the way to Texas where it connects with trails in the Franklin Mountains of El Paso. (We won't be going that far though.)

Keep running 'til the bone's sticking out!

Watch aerial drone footage of the race start:

I feel good this morning as I enjoy the fresh cool air under an overcast sky. The trail crosses an arroyo and then climbs a bit. The first section is rolling single track so I alternate between running the downhills and walking the short steep hills. The trail affords fantastic views of the mountains to the East and the desert floor to the West. Pretty soon we come to a section that passes near some luxury homes interspersed amongst large rock outcrops. 

Plenty of runners are on the trail and I feel good enough to pass a few. It’s tough though, because the trail is narrow and lined with thorny vegetation. Prickly pear and cholla cactus are the main ones to look out for as you pass. There are also plenty of rocks to keep you on your toes —literally. It doesn’t take long before I stumble while trying to pass. 

Aid stations are interspersed along the trail every 3-4 miles, so you are never too far from snacks and water. I typically stay away from gels and other “performance enhancing” sugary sports products and prefer real food like fruit and salty carbs. I did pack a few slices of salami to supplement my diet with a little fat and protein, but just a little bit. 

As I run, I can hear occasional artillery fire from the other side of the mountain. Ft Bliss and the White Sands Missile Range are just on the other side and I believe soldiers fire tanks and other weapons in that area. Eventually another aid station appears in the distance; mountains towering high above. A small encampment is set up with several flags flapping in the breeze. From afar it looks as if it could be a regiment of dragoons camped here to protect settlers from hostile natives and bandits. No other signs of civilization can be seen in any direction.

A photographer is taking pictures of runners as I approach. I think we are photographing each other which frequently happens to me. I fill my water bottle and have some oranges and grab pretzels to eat on the go. As I leave, a sign reads, “Resting, or throwing up —it’s all the same.” I hope I won’t have to do either of those things until I finish this race. The trail is a gradual downhill for most of the way from here until the turnaround in Vado, NM. I effortlessly cruise along taking in the spectacular scenery. 

Hedgehog cactus
Before long, I begin to run into the leaders of the 30K race who are heading back towards the start/finish area. I’m also able to see a few of my friends who offer words of encouragement. I arrive at the Mossman Arroyo aid station, the turnaround for the 30K, but still have 6-7 miles to go before I get to turn around. The time passes quickly as I run past the Bishop Cap, a pointy peak that juts out from the desert floor. A small cave is visible about half way up which looks like a perfect den for a mountain lion. I see a huge hedgehog cactus of some sort and then come to a flat cow pasture. A few of the leaders are heading back, but it feels desolate nevertheless.

Bishop Cap, how about that lion's den?

The pace is fast here as there is no slope whatsoever, but the surroundings are somewhat boring. Nothing but grass, creosote bush and mostly hard packed sand, lots of sand. It doesn’t take long before the last aid station and turnaround point come into view. There’s no reason to dawdle when I arrive, so I just take care of necessities and take off.

The return trip is more taxing because of the gradual uphill slope with steep drops down and out of  arroyos. I begin to walk more of the uphills, but don’t necessarily feel too bad. I reach the 22 mile point where the trail turns towards the mountains, but I don’t remember being this close to the mountains on the trip down. Isn’t it strange how surroundings can look completely different on the return trip. The course is well marked with bright red flagging though, so I know I’m on the right track.

I make it back to the aid station that, from a distance, looks like an encampment of cavalry. Hearty volunteers have been manning this station since the wee hours of the morning. This time I’m reminded of Roosevelt’s Rough Riders, many of whom were recruited from New Mexico. In Roosevelt’s words: “Recruits must be a good shot…able to ride anything in the line of horseflesh…a rough and ready fighter, and above all must have absolutely no understanding of the word fear.” Running an ultramarathon is nothing compared to the hardships these frontiersmen endured and the bravery they displayed during the Spanish-American War.

After a short pause I depart with only six miles to go. I run that distance every day so how hard could it be? Well, the trail becomes more and more steep and my legs feel more and more like wet noodles. I walk the steep sections, but am still able to pass a few runners. Overall, I’ve enjoyed the entire race and never really hit the wall. It won’t be my fastest finish out here, but taking an easy pace has allowed me to enjoy the entire day. Several miles before the end I hit a couple of twisty steep downhills which take their toll on my quads. 

I reach the finish area in 7:07 where a party is going on. The race directors, Dan and Eugene congratulate me with a handsome hand made finishers tile and, as a bonus, a pair of iRunFar logo Drymax socks. The only brand of running socks I will wear (no I’m not a sponsored athlete). Steak tacos and ginger ale complete my afternoon and then I head home for some much needed rest. This race is growing every year; and for good reason. The scenery is spectacular, the course is challenging but not ridiculous, the runners are first class, unique awards, well organized, and I could go on and on. My only regret is that, due to a technological glitch, I wasn’t able to post my run on Facebook…All that training for nothing! 

Finisher's Award
See you on the trail.

Friday, February 20, 2015

On Plantar Fasciitis

Recently I was I asking my better half to help me come up with a title to a blog post I was writing. After some discussion, she said, “Don’t worry too much about it, only three people read your blog anyway.” Ouch! Unfortunately, she is mostly right, BUT, I have noticed that I get a lot of hits when I write about plantar fasciitis (PF), that dreaded ailment that causes so much heel pain.

If you search the internet for plantar fasciitis advice, you will certainly find thousands of articles, forums and products promising cures, instant relief and prevention tips. It seems that everyone suffering from it turns to the web for answers.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bandera 100K

“This sux. May drop after 1st loop”, says my text to Cara. This is how I’ve felt all morning during the Bandera 100K. The weather is cold and dreary and I can’t seem to get warm or pull out of a funk. It rained this morning making the trail conditions treacherous. I slept in my ice encrusted tent last night and, although I was plenty warm, couldn’t sleep because I was too worried about how miserable today was going to be. Ironically I started out overdressed and, working very hard to climb several steep hills, sweated through my layers making me feel damp and miserable. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

San Antonio River Walk

Running in the inner city poses many challenges because of traffic, crowds, smog, stray dogs and other perils. I learned to deal with the problem in my former job where I traveled extensively for 20 years including four years in Europe. Unfortunately, we didn’t have smart phones or Google Maps in those days, so I would simply go to the front desk of my hotel and ask for a map or directions to the river. Many cities have recreation trails along their watercourses and I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to run many of them; the Potomac, Mississippi, Danube, Rhine, Rio Grande and Colorado to name a few.
San Antonio Riverwalk at night during the Christmas season

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Year in Review 2014

2014 started with a groin injury and ended with a 100 mile race finish so I can’t complain too much. My first race of the year, Bandera 100K, was scrapped for the 50K distance  since I hadn’t been able to train enough leading up to it. I didn’t attempt a 100 miler this summer because I wasn’t sure how my training would go coming off an injury. Most summer 100s require early planning to ensure you have a slot, so I waited until I was on the mend before planning too many races.

Lucy getting into the Christmas spirit

Enjoy a slideshow of my favorite photos from 2014: (Click Here if it doesn't load)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Running With the Big Dogs

The morning is cool and crisp; perfect for running our usual trail in the foothills of the Franklin Mountains beside the Cimarron neighborhood of El Paso. Suddenly, my dog Lucy takes off after some critter. Probably a jack rabbit. My other two, Sierra and Taz follow in Lucy’s wake quickly bounding up a hill towards the top of a mesa. In the distance I notice five dogs, but wait a minute, I only have three. Where did the others come from? Coyotes; this could be disastrous!
Sierra (above) and Taz (below)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Fall Running

Snowpocalypse, snowmageddon, bomb-cyclone, polar-vortex. Where I grew up on the East Coast we only had the occasional nor’easter that would dump a bunch of snow on us and then move on to wreak havoc on our northern neighbors. In a few days it would warm to 70 degrees and all of it would be gone in a flash. 

American Coot