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."

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My Year in Review 2012

(Click for a slideshow of my favorite pictures)

I rung in 2012 with a New Years Eve run and plan to finish it with the 2nd annual Run El Paso Club New Years Eve event along Scenic dr. What a better way to start and end the year. This was a very exciting year for me, so here is a slide show of some of my favorite pictures from my running adventures.

Having previously been injured, I began 2012 with some short runs and then built up my mileage as the year went along. In February I ran the El Paso half marathon and then trained some more to finish the Bataan Memorial Death March full marathon a month later. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50 Mile Race Report

“The last two miles [of the peak] are extremely steep, as the road builders decided to charge directly up the mountain rather than bother with those wimpy switch-backs...It is so steep that if you tumbled, you'd probably keep rolling until you ended up in someone's front yard in Fountain Hills.” –Ksorenson  (Hikearizona.com) 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mesilla Valley Run

My pen light casts a dim oval in front of me as I crunch rhythmically along the gravel levee road. I can’t see the Rio Grande or anything else for that matter and try not to veer right or left for fear of tumbling off the steep berm.  I anticipate the rising sun and wonder what misery today’s weather will deal. The forecast calls for severe wind later, so I began my run in the dark to try to beat the gusty weather. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Daylight Savings Time

Why is my alarm going off at 2:00am? I must be running a race today. No, I have to get up and turn all my clocks back to standard time. Not really, that would be stupid; almost as stupid as daylight savings time (DST), right? Couldn’t we just do away with it all together? Arizona has figured out that you can’t make the sun shine any longer by turning your clock forward so they don’t observe the ritual.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Back 2 Back Half Marathons Race Report Part 2 (Trans Mt Challenge)

“There are hills on this race?” I said to a young lady as I passed her. “You're kidding, right?”, she replied. “I thought it was flat.” That’s when she looked at me like I was crazy, because this race ascends a 5280 foot mountain pass. This past weekend I ran two half marathons in a row. (See below for Part 1). The second was the 35th annual TransMountain Challenge which ascends and descends the Franklin Mountains in El Paso, Texas.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Back 2 Back Half Marathons Race Report Part 1 (Roadrunner)

A huge explosion seen for hundreds of miles lit up the predawn sky on July 16th, 1945. The locals were told an ammunitions depot had exploded when in reality the first atomic device was detonated at the Trinity Site in the White Sands Proving Ground, New Mexico. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

50 Mile Race Training

“I’m...pretty tired...think I’ll go home now.” -Forest Gump

I’ve said those words frequently since I began training for the McDowell Mountain Frenzy 50 miler that I plan to run in December near Phoenix, AZ. I’ve been ramping up my mileage by doing back-to-back long runs on the weekends. I run 15-20 miles on Saturday and another 10-15 on Sunday. In addition, I run at least one very long run once a month.
A coyote that frequently yips at us.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bandanas and T-Shirts

Running shoes, gear and accessories have exploded in recent years. There is no shortage of new and exciting items on the market from minimalist shoes to ones with springs to aid your step. All sorts of gear is available like arm sleeves; cushioned inserts; gaiters; gps watches; hydration bottles, belts, packs and vests; compression wear; reflective gear; headlamps and the list goes on and on.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Around the Franklins

I have been trying to find the loop route all the way around the Franklin Mountains for several years now. I knew one existed because of the Puzzler Mountain Bike Event, a 50, 35 and 13 mile race and, new this year, a run of full or half marathon.  (See map of route)

Hearty trail runners Mike, Angelica, Ryan (L to R)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Mt Riley

“Be alert and think ahead on this and all steep slopes on this hike; choose your route carefully since there are areas of loose scree and unstable rock.” –Greg Magee

Mt Riley as seen from an El Paso sunset

So go the directions in my guidebook, Day Hikes and Nature Walks in Las Cruces - El Paso Area, as I ascend Mt Riley in the Potrillo Volcano Field in Southwest New Mexico. There is no trail leading to the summit so I have chosen a ridge and am hoping for the best. The route always looks easier from a distance and earlier I was saying, “I can just walk right up that incline over there and will be on top in no time.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kendall Mountain Run

Have you ever gotten one of those terrible summer colds where you can’t breathe and you generally feel miserable? How about five days before you have to run a marathon —a run that ascends a 13,000 foot mountain? Twice! Well that is how my week is going.

To cure myself of this awful crud, I ate some spicy Tai food in Durango, Colorado several nights ago and then, the following day, soaked in the Ouray Hot Springs Pool. The indigenous people of this area have believed in the healing powers of these mineral waters for centuries. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Motivation and Race Fees

What motivates you to get off the couch and out the door for a run? Are you one of those i-pod runners who has Justin Barber or Iron Priest emanating from your ear buds? How about going to the gym to run on one of those treadmills? Does that inspire you to workout? 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hydration Guidelines: Dehydration a Myth?

To drink or not to drink? 
“Drink before you’re thirsty.” “Drink only when you’re thirsty.” “Losing just 2% of your body weight due to dehydration leads to heat related illnesses and impairs performance.” “Over drinking can lead to Hyponatremia (water intoxication) and death.” Have you heard these phrases before?
How about this quote from runnersworld.com?
“Far more interesting (and reliable) is this nugget: [researchers] measured [Haile Gebrselassie] before and after he won Dubai [Marathon] in 2009, and despite drinking at a fairly high rate, he lost 9.8% of his starting body weight...” -Alex Hutchinson (Runner’s World)
Hmmm...shouldn’t Geb be comatose and not setting world record marathon times then? After all, that’s what our hydration guidelines have taught us, right? — that losing weight during exercise can lead to all sorts of catastrophic outcomes.

Monday, June 11, 2012

An Ol' Softy

How hot can you get before you collapse? That’s what I’m wondering while finishing the last few miles of a 20 mile training run in the desert. The weather has been blistering hot; sapping the land of all moisture, so I left at sunrise hoping to beat the heat.
My plan was to run through the Quitman canyon this morning, but it is a 20 mile out-and-back route, which would be too long for my dogs in this searing weather. Cara, Maddie and I are spending time at her family’s ranch in West Texas and six of the dogs are used to tagging along on my runs.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Wrens, Wreptiles, and Wrunning

As I drive over Smugglers Gap in the Franklin Mountains in far West Texas, lightning is streaking across the sky. Black ominous looking storm clouds are lingering over the peaks and I just hope the storm is moving east because I’m on my way to run the mountain.
When I arrive at the trail head, the sun is trying to rise through the clouds creating a mysterious light emanating from the heavens. After fiddling with my gps for a while, I start running up the rocky track. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Random News and Battle of the Sexes

If you are like me, you have drawers full of running shirts that you never wear. Every time you register for a race, you get another shirt to add to the collection. Some are made of technical fabric that wick moisture away from your body. These tend to be the ones we run in, but what about all those cotton shirts?
I have been running races for over 20 years and recently pulled out a box full of shirts and counted over 30. Well, Cara and I have decided to make a quilt out of them as a keepsake. Actually she is going to do all the sewing but I, unfortunately, have been designated cutting boy.  I will be so busy snipping shirts into neat little squares that I will nary have any time for running now.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Quest for the Northern Pass

My adventure this morning starts at Anthony’s Gap, NM for a quest to reach the Northern Pass. My goal is to find a route all the way around the Franklin Mountains which would make a challenging course for a 50K race. 

The mountain bikers already have a 50 mile route established for their Puzzler race that is held every January and I have been studying their maps on Geobetty.com to find the way.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Run El Paso Club Tackles Baylor Pass

“Is this going to be a technical trail?”, asks Jaime. “No, I don’t think it’s all that bad.”, I foolishly reply. I suppose it’s all relative, depending on what you’re used to. To me, it’s not technical unless you have to use your hands to get where you are going. 
In the Franklin Mountains, where I frequently run, jagged ankle twisting rocks cover the trail to keep you on your toes. Today we’ll be running on loose sand like a cinder running track, with smooth rounded boulders placed willy-nilly. Occasionally there are rocks stacked up like stairs in the middle of the trail which I’ll use as an excuse to walk. What’s the hurry, I always say?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Deep in the Heart of Texas

“I don’t like jelly beans...the Easter Bunny poops them.”, says our nephew. Well OK, that seems logical to me. I really don’t know how to argue that one. I recently traveled to Central Texas on the edge of the Hill Country and was able to steal a few hours away from my family for some beautiful trail running.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bataan Memorial Death March

Whenever I hear Taps I can’t help but get a lump in my throat. I’m here at the opening ceremony of the Bataan Death March, a 26.2 mile journey to remember and honor thousands of US and Filipino WWII POWs who were forced to march for miles to prison camps with little food or water. Thousands died on the trip through the jungles in the Philippines and many more perished in the camps. 
The course today is on White Sands Missile Range near Las Cruces NM and is mostly run on hilly dirt roads through the desert. Many participants march in full military gear with heavy packs and service units and civilian teams compete in various categories. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Butterfield Overland Mail

The passenger, retired Civil War General J.J. Byrne, was shot in the breast and thigh. The driver, Ed Walde, miraculously wheeled the stage coach around and headed directly back to Fort Quitman. Turning a mule driven coach around in the narrow canyon was no easy task especially while under attack by Mescalero Apaches. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hitt Canyon

Don’t you hate it when the barista in your local coffee shop chain asks for your name? I always want to say I can’t tell you because I’m in the Witness Protection Program or better yet, give them some silly name. 
“What can I get started for you?” “I’d like a bravo skinny mocha frap-a-dilly with extra syrup...hold the whip though, I’m tryin’ to lose weight.” Your name? —Snort!— Ebenezer. Is that with an S or a Z? —Giggle— You can just call me Eb. Would you like to donate a dollar to help fight... NO!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sierra Vista Trail Half Marathon

Spanish bayonet, shin dagger, prickly pear, horse crippler, pin cushion, fishhook barrel, cat claw, devils claw. Just a few of the pointy cactus and succulent species we will be avoiding this morning as we run the Sierra Vista Trail Run in Las Cruces, New Mexico. The organizers have posted the following warning on their website:

“The Sierra Vista Trail is desert, rocky, sandy, uneven, ankle twisting, scraping, pokey, rough, rattle snake biting terrain...Please be prepared for this and know your own abilities and expectations...Try not to die.” 

Monday, February 6, 2012

El Paso Half Marathon 2012

The howling wind wakes me before my alarm goes off. It has been at it the entire night with no sign of abating. This morning is the El Paso Marathon which I will only be running half of due to injuries last year. Hopefully it won’t be as blustery downtown, but I better dress for the worst. 
When I arrive, the sun is just barely rising. I look around for the starting line, but only see a large US flag flapping from the ladder of a fire truck. That must be the way. Today is a special day for Run El Paso Club member, Sal Almeida. He is running his 100th full marathon!
After the proverbial standing around while shivering, the participants finally start to move. It is impossible to start running yet because we are shoulder to shoulder like a herd of cows in a chute. We finally make our way across the starting line and chaos begins.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Max Heart Rate

WARNING:  Do not attempt these techniques yourself without consulting a doctor. You could injure yourself or worse. Bad things could happen to you. You might even die.
Do you know your maximum heart rate? I recently started to wear my Polar heart rate monitor again and wanted to know my max heart rate (MHR). After a quick internet search, I learned that the most commonly used formula is 220 minus your age. If this is true, my MHR should be around 172 beats per minute. (OK, so now you know how old I am if you are any good at math.) My target aerobic zone should be between 120-145 bpm.
I set out on a few runs with this knowledge and noticed right off that I was training beyond my target zone; my rate was usually in the 150-170 range. On a recent Run El Paso Club run, I ran at my max HR for over one and a half hours while carrying on a conversation the entire time. Is my MHR really 172?
After a more thorough internet search, I discovered that the only way to really know your MHR is to push yourself until you experience “fibrillations”.  One article gave the instructions to basically find a good hill and run up it as fast as you can until you fall down. (read here) OK, that sounds like a reasonable test to me, so I set out to try it.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Yippee-i-oh, coyote on my tail. 
Two miles running over hill and dale.
His chilling laugh echoes off a canyon wall,
makes me push the limit 'till I almost fall. 
Faster, faster, I have to lose him, 
everything is starting to go a little dim. 
A look behind me, to my left and right, 
I keep on running with all my might. 
Now it’s calm, I start to slow,
no sound of his howl, yippee-i-oh!
Running in the desert of West Texas is always like a dream. I’ve heard many coyotes and even seen a few, but never had one follow me for miles. What did he want? A piece of me or my littlest doggy? I made it six miles down the rolling dusty track with my four legged friends tagging along, but now I must head back. 
Last week I went on another wintery hike with a friend. This time up to N. Franklin Peak (7192 ft) near the Paso del Norte. The mountains were transformed from a craggy rugged landscape to one that was beautified by a blanket of snow. Yucca, shin dagger and sotol were reaching for the sun through the frozen powder. An icicle had formed in a most unusual way; like a twisted “T” growing out of the ground.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Bear Canyon (Guadalupe NP)

I had the good fortune of visiting Guadalupe National Park on the Texas - New Mexico border last week. A snowstorm recently struck this area, but all the snow in the low-lying areas was completely gone. As I was driving to the park, I thought to myself, this should be a good day for a hike; sunny, calm and no snow.
It wasn’t until I crested the top of the mountain pass that the white stuff came into view. The wind was also whipping through the pass as indicated by a horizontal windsock beside the highway. Oh well, I decided to hike anyway even though I didn’t have my boots with me. Running shoes would have to do. (Not recommended)