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 spend countless hours running in the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, TX. I call it "going to church". I'm a member of Team Red, White and Blue. "Enriching the lives of America's veterans."

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Glory Road

Today’s running adventure was not on trails but on a university campus. I ran the UT El Paso Commitment to Fitness 5 miler which gave me the opportunity to get a nice tempo run in. UTEP, formerly known as Texas Western, is the home of the Miners who in 1966 won the NCAA National Championships under the leadership of Don Haskins. You may have seen the film Glory Road about the events leading up to the big game.

UTEP has an interesting past in that a fire burned the main building of the College of Mines and Metallurgy in 1916 which prompted the president’s wife to request reconstruction in the style of Bhutanese architecture. She was inspired by the April 1914 edition of National Geographic which featured an article about the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan called “Castles in the Air”. Ever since this time buildings have been constructed in the beautiful style of “dzongs” with high sloping walls, overhanging red roofs, and tiled mandalas.

Our run starts at Kidd Field where the UTEP track team trains. The Miner Pep Band is getting the runners pumped up by playing the usual rousing renditions of peppy music. I see a few of my students and thank them for being outside, lips to metal on a chilly morning. I do my usual pre-race prep which is mostly nothing. Stretching is overrated and I don’t do the nervous “chicken” leg that many other runners do to warm up. You know the one, alternate bending your legs heel to butt. I did, however, have an espresso flavored Hammer Gel with 50mgs of caffeine to help get me started.

After a few words from UTEP’s president, Dr Diana Natalicio, we were off on our tour of the campus. A little bit of up and then we had a nice downhill past the Mining Heritage Park complete with ore car and other mining machinery. I’m feeling pretty spry this morning so kick up the pace a bit. We run past the Fox Fine Arts Center where I teach and then I pass several groups of runners and settle into a nice groove. We round a few turns and then come to the Library and a water stop. The Library lobby has a beautiful tapestry and Bhutanese alter. It also houses the world’s largest book (5 X 7 feet and 133 lbs) called Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom. This photo book sits in a display case and pages are turned periodically.

After a quick run by the library we head past the Geological Sciences building, parking garage, and up a hill to the Sun Bowl Stadium. I remember the race director mentioning something about Cardiac Hill, but since I don’t pay attention to pre-race instructions (I’m usually amusing myself by watching everyone do the “chicken”) I didn’t really quite understand. Well now I’m getting the full effect of Cardiac Hill, but manage to make it up and into the Sun bowl which is very cool. We do a lap on the recently replaced artificial turf and then run through the concourse. After exiting the stadium we are almost back to Kidd Field. 2.5 miles down and 2.5 to go. My chrono watch reads 17:30.

On my second loop, I concentrate on keeping my pace. I know that I could finish around 40 minutes which would beat my weekly 5 mile tempo run by 5 minutes. Could I hold this pace for 2.5 more miles? Soon I’m playing cat and mouse with another runner. As soon as I pass him he comes from behind and takes over. This keeps up for a while until I realize we are at Cardiac Hill again. I can’t believe how fast time flies. Soon we are into Kidd Field and doing our final lap. The clock reads 37:15 and I realize that I could break 40 minutes, an 8 minute per mile pace. I put it in high gear and tell my cat and mouse partner to sprint to the finish. I try to pass him, but can’t quite do it. I cross the finish in 39:22 and third place in my age group. It feels good to know that I can still run an 8 minute pace even if it is for only 5 miles.

Next week’s adventure will take me into the Franklin Mountains for the Jack Rabbit Classic 6 mile trail run which I hope to combine with another 15 to 20 miles. See you on the trail.

The Centennial Museum and Gardens

World's Largest Book

Bhutanese Alter

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