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LEARNING TO SUFFER BETTER

LEARNING TO SUFFER BETTER

At times I have ignored the signs. I have put my head down and walked past the arrows that would lead me in the right direction. Some people say its hard headed and some say you have to learn first. But the struggle and the suffering for me has made all of the difference over the past few months.

For the past 9 months I have failed at running. As quoted by many I am the DNF King… The title is relevant if you look at the track record. I think i have quit/stopped everything I have done over the past 9 months. From bandera, rocky, grasslands, pandoras, 2 unsupported LHST attempts… But i never gave up. I realized there was a flaw in my mechanics. But there was also a flaw in my mind.

The constant failings weighed on my mind like most. Instead of sitting back in the trench I listed to people that I admired in the sport and started changing the way i trained. Less mileage, more vert. More strength, less speed. Through the pain, the suffering and the time i grew stronger. My mental capacity for suffering became better and my legs got stronger. Not faster but able to push without stopping further, steeper and quicker.

The Volcanic 50 was a reminder of why I love to run. All i did was run my race. I walked the flats, shuffled easy the dowhills and bombed the uphills. Every step up the mountain I knew I was walking people down. Although not at 100% i am as competitive as ever in regards to pushing myself and racing when its race day. As we headed to the back half of the course I slowly but surely starting reeling people in. One by one I passed them as I hiked up the mountains. With a little over 4 miles left we hit a 2 mile stretch of uphill climbs, boulder fields and just gnarly crap. I thought to myself Rob here is your chance to just lay it out and the last 2 pure suffering. Over the next 2 miles I probably past 8 people that were taking it easy on the boulders, just trying to survive or exhausted. I was focused, fueled and ready to push harder. As I hit the 2mile mark I knew it was downhill from there on out. All i had to do was suffer till the end. With a runner right behind me who was pushing the pace all day with me I let the cord rip. As I ran I kept tabs on the runner behind me and she stayed about 20ft behind me. I kept thinking in my mind that I wished she would stop or pass me since the pace was hurting. With 1 mile to go we passed 3 people walking it in and I thought to myself if Jeremy was right behind me what would I do right now.

With that visual in my mind I dropped the gear and continued to push hard. I kept telling myself that you need to suffer till the end of this race. That I would regret it if i let someone come from behind at this moment. As the time slowed down, each passing stride my quads burning I just kept running. At about a .5 mile i started dry heaving and looked back to see no one behind me. I kept the pace hard and heard the cowbell with about .1 to do.The last few steps I remember thinking holy shit… we finally finished a race.. As I finished the race I kind of just walked around and saw Mark G… I remember yelling Mark whats up man.. His surprised look was priceless and he told me that he didnt expect me to come in. When I heard that he finished 16 min in front of me normally I would try and figure out why i spent time chatting at aid stations, having fun on the trails or just generally taking it easy on the course.. That ego driven mode is what had helped me to DNF most of the year.

The only thing that I have learned more than anything else over the past few months is to listen to what I need. Although others have persuaded me, criticized me and doubted i remain committed to the dreams in which i have. These past few weeks where the greatest running days i feel in my life. Maybe it was the time off I have had, the people, the beauty and the volcanoes. All i know is I fell in love with running again day after day. I couldnt figure out why I was having so much fun running and playing in the mountains. My mind moved from ego, competitive, all or nothing to enjoying the journey, welcoming the breaks and expecting not to finish 1st.

Today as I vigorously tried to make the schedule fit over the next 5 months I realized the truth. It dosent fit. My dreams will require more work than I can give commit to. With one facetime with my wife the changes are made. I am looking forward to the work, the time and the dreams becoming a reality. my knee can wait.

This year has been my year of growth as a person, a runner and a friend. Much has changed in my outlook in life, love and running in general.

My time spent in Oregon/Washington was amazing and far beyond my comprehension. I think I want to start blogging again and I think i will tell some of the stories from these trips along the way. Its impossible for me to do so in one blog..

Im happy to be happy. Im grateful for the experience and I am thankful for the journey.

lone star hiking trail

Resting, Recovering and Re Adjusting

Resting, Recovering and Re Adjusting

I would never began to complain about my life. I have chosen every path that i exist on today. I have always been someone who was confident enough to be own my own in the world. I have found that the saying of Why have a Plan B in life if it deviates from Plan A.

With that being said much has changed from the Lone Star Hike that put me in places mentally that I have never been in. I was very happy at least 3x times bringing myself back from the depths but at the same time intensely  hungry for the victory. As I nervously write this I have never wanted to finish something more than this.

As the LSHT past me we were set to go to vacation to the Keys. My wife, son, mom and aunt fly into the Florida Keys to see my Aunt who is a local there. We had a great time snorkeling, paddleboarding, seeing manatees and enjoying the time there.

Once back a 1-2 punch to my heart. My son left Saturday Am back to his house and his school. My wife left with her brother to SE Asis for 6-8 weeks. Letting my wife go on the place was a very similar experience to waiting for her to come down that aisle.

I remember the sun on my face that day we got married. I remember feeling my chest tighten as I stood up in front of our family and friends. I remember being so nervous and so anxious. As the car ride to the airport we spent our last few moments together. We took a picture and I kissed her good bye.

It an instant everything changed. I visited with my wifes parents and came home. The dogs laid at the doors waiting for mom to come home. I couldnt fall asleep watching plane flight statuses till 2am. The next day the power of technology brought us together in facetime. I was so overjoyed to see my beautiful bride although thousands of miles away.

As Rachel chases the rainbows so do I. Never stop exploring is a phrase that I resonates in me this year. I have a notepad full of ideas for races, things to do and life in general.

I was asked the other day what I did for a living. I uttered LIVE before I could think of anything else. The man laughed and said ” No Really”. I said thats what I do, I try and chase every rainbow I can. He smiled and said that sounds like fun.

Everyday I wake up and the list is still there. I move things, i do things but its never work. The emails, maps, questions, thoughts are all the things that I could ask for.

I decided in this process to give up knee surgery. It would normally seem to be me procrastinating again on this but quite the opposite. With us trying to finalize races for 2015 i need to be able to move.. I need to me able to go to parks, run some races and honestly i want to run snowdrop again. The thought of showing up with a band aid on my knee is too much for me. With any decision comes more after. As i decided not to have surgery i decided to run 2 events haha.

So I am back here again preparing to run Lone Star Hiking Trail unsupported. 96 miles of overgrown, hot as fk, jungle in august in texas. As i went out to drop water monday for the race as the streams are dry (which is what did me in last time) i didnt really realize how effing big this trail was. Took me 4 hours to drop 9 waters and everytime I was headed down some forest service road for miles.

I am happy to get the chance to do it again. I have been lifting really heavy as of late so i feel strong, my legs are good and i am better prepared than before. More water, more planning and ive seen the whole trail now so I know what to expect.

My buddy mark told me that I couldnt keep it a secret that he was coming with me even though he wasnt there. It was very nice of him to say that and it really helped me mentally realize that this is more than just a hike. This is a really neat way to explore the earth and show people this awesome, gnarly, beast of a trail.

So i am headed out tomorrow to start the trail. I look forward to seeing Jose when he drops me off. And when I finish.

And when people say that its okay not to do it all. They are liars.

Quitting shit hurts your soul if you truly care about it.

 

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Welcome to the Jungle that is the Lone Star Hiking Trail..

Welcome to the Jungle that is the Lone Star Hiking Trail..

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Welcome to the jungle
We’ve got fun ‘n’ games
We got everything you want
Honey, we know the names
We are the people that can find
Whatever you may need
If you got the money, honey
We got your disease

In the jungle
Welcome to the jungle
Watch it bring you to your
knees, knees
I wanna watch you bleed..

I had this really great blog planned to tell you all about this journey i had. Then in an instant the feelings were drained.

Thank you for those of you who supported me on the journey. It was an experience I will never forget.

Live, Learn and Never Stop Exploring.

HATR

There is no tomorrow. My Lone Star Hiking Trail FKT preview

You know this blog will be my most personal i have written. For those who read this I will do my best to convey to you my thoughts, how I feel and just how much this means to me.

You know back in 12/31/2014 i had the opportunity to run for Kees Poole our sweet God son that passed due to pediatric cancer. I ran that day for him and in honor with the Snowdrop Foundation. I till this day have never ran that well.

Shortly after that race I fell into a trap. I fell into an hole of ego. I felt like I had to prove to everybody something and I didnt. I left that race and I let my weakness and insecurities win. I decided shortly after to run bandera and rocky raccoon 100. With my wifes miscarriage on my mind i toed the line both times.

But you the truth is the weaker man showed up those days. What i did was put myself before others. I asked friends, family and loved ones to believe in me, to trust in me and to give their time for me when I wasnt willing to do the same for myself. I took these people and their time for granted.

Shortly after this happened my relationships began to crumble with friends. I finally had to realize that my knee was too bad to keep this up. I realized that my time was up to keep running. This was the most humbling experience that I had to deal with. Over the next few months i battled back and forth with those friends to show them that I did care, that I was wrong and I was sorry.

Over the last 4 months my life has changed beyond anything I could have imagined.  The last 4 months closed and opened another chapter in my life.

Soon after March I decided to get an MRI to know the truth. I have always had problems with my right knee from being obese and already had surgery. As the MRI results came back it was as bad as it gets. The truth of my knee is that I have no functioning meniscus, i have worn through my cartilage and i have bone spurs as well. The surgeon recommends knee replacement if i was older. Its a strange thing to realize that you started running 2 years ago and that I have never run without pain. I often thing i wonder what it feels like to run and never hurt.. Must be nice.. Well my only other option is oats surgery, cartilage insertion, (stem cells if my insurance will cover it), and some bone spur removal… that and 6 weeks of no walking.. Surgery is set for sept 20th btw..

The knee diagnosis didnt really surprise me as my knee is a mixed bad of hot magma and swelling anyways. I started to seek other things i could do since running was a no go.

As march passed Brazos Bend 50 came up in april. I started to watch John Sharp and what he did online. I started to really dig all this vertical stuff and my love for the mountains and climbing really set in. I began to start to do climbing specific training rather than running. Hard climbing, fast walking and weighted packs.. As Brazos Bend 50 came to fruition it was the shot in the arm for me and for my family.

I came away from Brazos Bend 50 changed. I sat their and witnessed people being amazing right in front of me. I immediately had all these people who befriended me and I was overwhelmed with the support of our community.

As time passed I started working more for usl.tv and Rachel decided to quit her job to help us get a schedule made for next year and focus on BB100. As I climbed here in Houston and felt better I got the opportunity to head to Western States 100. This was another moment that I cant forget. Watching people finish this beautiful race is under 30 hours was a blessing for me.

As I came home an impromptu trail weekend in Austin pushed me over the edge. It was the training run that i needed in my life. I did run this day for a hour or so and it reminded me of when the HATRs first started just me, jose, jerms and rachel. When we would have group runs it would be us 3 and we used to call ourselves the dirty bums since we fell on the ground a lot and laughed.

As this past weekend went passed I had the opportunity to hit the speedgoat 50k course the day after. I spent 6 hours climbing around those mountains like a playground. Although my knee didnt care for walking downhill the ups power hiking were amazing and left me feeling great.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFxhmhWDus0

I am back tracking because all of this leads to the next adventure. I spend 2 days on the LSHT a few months back with my brother in law. It was enjoyable and we stopped after a few days. I hated it. I had been like 2/2 for not having to quit stuff and I really didnt like the taste in my mouth and I told my wife that day I wanted to go after it all.

So here we are technically when you read this probably 24 hours away from the FKT attempt unsupported of the Lone Star Hiking Trail. I will be starting sometime thursday on the 96 mile hike. I will be doing this by myself and will document.record the event as well.

I am writing this blog though to tell you not that I am doing the FKT but also to point out the significance of inspirational people.

I watch closer than I ever have before at what people are doing. I am constantly trying to figure out why they are successful and what makes them great.

From Jeff millers workouts. To John Sharpe killing Hardrock. Jeremy Hanson losing weight like a mad man. Jose Q deciding to grind like never before. Mark Kenney for methodically hitting his own personal CEO goals and not stopping. For Liz M for kicking ass in huntsville. From Marie Ramsey for winning that Cash..Killian Jornet playing his way to destroying hardrock’s records.. Rob Krar’s look at green gate. Tim Olson’s refusal to submit at Hardrock. To my buddy Dylan Bowman at Western States looking like a million bucks.. To Nick Clark and Kaci L for making an agreement and getting it done.

You see these people are all the same. From the 5k to the 100 milers they are all still people that are working their asses off to get those dreams. They are willing not to be out worked to get where they need to be,.

I see these people as opportunities. I see them as people that are killing it in life. These are IRON swords my friends and IRON sharpens IRON. Over the past 4 months of I hit the iron and done more vert than I probably ever thought i could or would.

I am addicted to climbing, I am addicted to lifting that heavy weight and I am ready mentally to take on the challenge ahead.

So as I sit here to right this I feel grateful. Grateful for the opportunity to go chase this rainbow.. Grateful that I have the best wife, friends and family that I could ask for. Grateful that some companies believed in me when the HATRs were zero and I had never done anything.

And I am grateful that Jose over 5 years ago now told me that I was going to die if i didnt change. Yes I did the work but he cared enough to let me know and thus the ball started to roll.

I cant wait to fight the ticks, flying brigade of insects and have a 30 hour sing a long with my new play list.

Thank you all for the support.  I told myself after grasslands that I wouldnt enter anything that i wasnt willing to die for like i used to and this is that journey.

And as My wife asked me today as I printed maps..

“babe are you ready for this?” my answer without hesitation.

FK YES I AM..

Live life like there is no tomorrow.

 

HATR

A trip with my HATRs just what the mind needed

A trip with my HATRs just what the mind needed

The past few weeks after coming home from Western States have been a blur. Rachel and I have patiently awaited the news of the LLC and the logo to be done while honestly getting used to spending all day together working on this.

So last friday my intentions where to just take it easy on the weekend, get some vertical and just lay low.  It was Jose’s bday that week and by buddy Jeremy said he was going to head to Austin to meet them. The Houston Area Trail Runners where meeting up to have a weekend of running Austin and buffoonery.

After a quick discussion i was bags packed and headed to Austin. I stopped at Buc-ees for the best coffee ever and met Jeremy just before 10:30. It was nice to surprise Jose with coming and I was looking forward to the running.

The next morning and we are all at the Hill of Life. I was really excited to get to try and run this as Rachel and I had been there the weekend before with the pups.

I have had these re occuring dreams that my knee splits open in 2.. I have had this dream probably 3 or 4 times in the past few weeks. My knee is really deteriorating faster than I would like and running seems so foreign to me but hiking has been a great chance of pace. As we were about to go down the first time I just kept hoping that my dreams wouldnt come true. As we started bounding down the rocks I felt really good and was keeping a great pace all the way to the bottom. Once down we started the ascent back up. It felt so amazing to climb rocks. Its all i have been doing really since March of this year but the treadmill has been my source of 20-30% grading. It was nice to climb hard, sweat and feel the ground underneath me.

As we went up and down we stopped to swim a bit, chill on the rocks and just enjoy life in the sun. We enjoyed that night by going to Jester King brewery and eating on 6th street. All in all was a great day to just be out of Houston in Austin.

Day 2 was the day that we were going to go to a local spot Jose had been to. I was able to jump out of the hotel a little early and get some great local coffee and meet everyone at the spot which was bull creek.

As soon as we started running I knew it was going to hurt bad. My knee already swollen and feeling like garbage in general but I was having fun for once. As we started running it really reminded me of when we all started to run together. Jose, Jeremy and I would run saturdays together for months. I can remember when there was a group run and it was just me. Seems to forever ago but was really only 1.5 years ago.

As we ran so did my mind.. For once i couldn’t feel my knee swelling and I was able to get out of my own head. We played on the trails like kids do swapping spots, high fiveing the occasional playful bumps.. And all the way through this great trail of up and down and up and down i was smiling. I hadn’t been that happy running since snowdrop and just really enjoyed the time with friends on the trails.

We show a go pro video and I made the movie.

After we got done eating with hit up the Torchy’s Tacos (which are amazing) and headed our separate ways to the house.

As my week has started I have had taper nerves all week. I am preparing to do the LSHT (96mile trail) next week unsupported and its been on my mind for a few weeks.

As i saw WS100 with my own eyes and we followed Hardrock 100 last weekend I am reminded of gutty performances. From Rob Krar, to Tim Olson not quitting at Hardrock these guys put it on the line. We watched our good friend via the web John Sharp finish the Hardrock 100 and we cheered every aid station he was at.

When i see this happen before me I think I have that in me. Yes my knee is a wreck but its going to get new hardware in september but mentally do I have what it takes to do something big..

The LSHT from what I know has no FKT for unsupported other than 4-5 days hikes. Probably because there is 0 water on the course for over 48 miles. No water, no streams no nothing. This obviously makes it difficult to do but its something that I want to do.

Since I took my stand against quitting shit i am 2/3 as my brother in law stopped 2 days into our hike of the LSHT but im going to erase that one quickly. As I spoke to a good friend today we talked about not quitting no matter what. Crawling in the line, being last or just realizing that there isnt another race…

I am very honored to have some many pieces of iron in my circle. Guys and gals that push the pace all the time and set wonderful examples. I am ready to taper for a week, I am ready to see what I am made of and I cant wait to see all those fiesty lil ticks on the trail…

gordy

Western States 100 Endurance Race- The best of the best

Western States 100 Endurance Race- The best of the best

I really thought I would write this incredible awesome blog on how much I was looking forward to the Western States 100 a week before the race. Life, training and time slipped quickly and I dont like forcing pieces out just to ship the sugar..

But in hindsight I get to write this one with nothing before it so I guess it works out in the end. I feel like I had a real unique opportunity going into Western States 100. I am first a trail runner at heart, 2nd I am a race director and 3rd I do new business for Ultrasportslive.tv which was LIVE STREAMING the race live.

You know its honestly really hard for me to be all business in this sport. The truth is that this will probably never happen. I will probably always yell for my favorite runners, get nervous meeting the celebs” and root for the runners. I think that my passion for trail running wont go away and always seems to get right in the way of the professional side.. But i think I manage to combine it all and people see that I genuinely care about them, the races and my job.

I feel like I could tell you all about these stories, happenings or unforgettable moments for days.. I feel like i should start a kickstarter and write a book to tell you everything i saw from friday-sunday. I often feel like my writing is indicative of how i speak which is usually filled with stories, run ons etc..

So here goes.

The 2014 Western States 100 was the greatest sporting event I have ever witnessed or watched. I am biased in this opinion but who cares im writing this. As we approached Friday and the press conference there was this massive amount of people in the convention center and around Squaw Valley area. Just to see all these fine tuned athletes ready to run and feel their emotions was incredible. When they started the meetings and giving out awards for trail maintenance you could feel the power of the people. You could see the dedication, time and effort these volunteers/parks staff committed to having this trail open.

It made me really value what has been done as a community to work on those trails and keep them open. As Saturday started we were taken to the starting line by the Squaw Valley fire chief and met the volunteers around 3am.  As we headed up to the top of escarpment I couldnt help but see the Fire Chief hat and all the firefighting gear in the truck. He told us stories of almost sliding down the mountain in a dozer years previous and how he barely got out. As we reached the top the volunteers moved to action. It was probably 40 degrees with a 40 mph winds at the top. It was cold but the volunteers starting setting out all the gear, food and preparations.  They did a wonderful job of taking care of the runners and helping them move up the hill. As the time came to end I asked the group to take a group picture for me. I wanted them to realize that they were the most important group on that hill. I told them that I was sure the racer’s enjoyed them and thanked them along the way. I also did an interview with the captain of that aid station who had worked it for over 20+ years.

As we came back down with the Fire Chief again many of the volunteers had chosen to walk down and it was fun to see them enjoying the course. As we went to Green Gate we were passed the aid station but again volunteers manned the gate. We had a great time with them over about 8 hours showing them their wives could watch the camera and they could wave to them. We explained to them who runners were and what places they were in. They helped make sure runners got to the turns and kept cars from coming to close as well.

As I had my 3 hour car nap I awoke with I think 25:00 on the clock. I kept thinking many I wonder what it feels like to be on the course with 5 hour to roll. As the runners came in I really wanted to capture some of the finishers. Armed with my iphone I headed in the track circle to get some pictures. As the runners finished the volunteers again were there to see them. From handing them the medal, to walking them to the weight stations. As I looked around I saw many of these faces helping in med tents, walking runners around or just telling the runners you did AMAZING today. As the time got closer to the 30 hour mark you could feel the intensity. I could feel it in my chest as I was very nervous for friends of mine coming in and also those I didnt know. I continued to take pictures doing my best to chronicle those amazing finishers along the way.

At times in the last 2 hours I got emotional. I could feel myself on the edge of the cliff. I didnt know if i missed running at those moments, if I was just genuinely happy for those coming in or if I just was taken in the moments before me. The last hour was AMAZING and i got texts from friends watching live on ultrasportslive.tv as the runners came in the volunteers came forward. The runners quickly around the track, one at time, 2 at a time or more. It was a sight to see as multiple runners with their crews came in.

As It was told the last runner was hitting the track you could feel True excitement. It didnt matter that the last runner was a legend. It mattered that he was a runner and in the western states 100.

The Western States 100 in its purest for is trail racing. It is everything I wish one of my races to be and pure in its intentions.

I met a ton of athletes, ultra-runners and great people that day that I admire and respect. I was honored to see volunteering and sacrifice at its best.

I also got the chance to spend the weekend with my USL.TV family. Many of us working 55 hours straight on a handful of sleep hours. Determined, relentless and committed we stayed on course making sure that we were doing everything we could to keep the cameras stream, pictures snapping and interviews going.

As I left Cali and headed back to Texas someone asked me on the place what I did for a living. We chatted and he had heard of the WS 100. He asked me what I thought of the race and my response was…

It was the BEST of the BEST that trail running could offer.

here are my pictures  https://www.facebook.com/runningrobg/media_set?set=a.272452619608598.1073741833.100005315859454

 

Lone Star Hiking Trail

Lone Star Hiking Trail

So we decided to hike the Lone Star Hiking Trail

My brother in law has asked me to go on a few hiking trips with him last year and most of them I had other things arise or work got in the way. Last year after him and I talked about the AT (Appalachian Trail) doing a few weeks before too long he decided to do the whole thing. So last year from end or march till october we sent him packages, followed his journeys etc till the end.

So a few months ago he talked about doing the LSHT in the Sam Houston National Forest and I finally said lets do it. We talked about doing a 5 day thru hike which would cover the 96 mile trek. I had been stocking up grabbing a new salomon hiking pack, some new skratch lab bottles, a tent etc for the hike.

We had decided to start on Thursday Am and Finish sometime Monday. So my mother in law took us out to the start which was Trailhead #1 Richards.

As we started I knew that I had a lot to learn as I have never hiked with a full pack and I was also interested in how my knee and training would hold up. Since January my running has been minimal and I have chosen to focus on incline hiking and weights as my knee needs surgery and that will happen in September.

So off we started and I soon felt the weight of a 35lb pack. I was very surprised and was soon trying to figure out the straps, positioning and way to make this feel comfortable. Within the first .3 miles i felt something at the back of my knee and it hurt. I leaned back to swat it and the pack came with me so already on my ass and figure out horse files love walking meat.

As my brother in law and I trekked through the first 8 miles before we took a break I was really enjoyed the hike and also realizing that this is nothing like Rocky Raccoon. I think more like a gnarly version in parts of a rain forest and EVERYTHING out there was biting me. If it wasnt horse flies, biting flies, ants it was TICKS… I have heard of ticks and im my day I have seen a few but this WAS CRAZY..

As my brother in law hiked I got a chance to let my mind wonder finally reminded very much of an ultra as I got to just think about life, business and enjoy the quietness of the road. We ended up stopping at mile 8 for a break and i remember eating some nut butter and an EPIC Bar. My sombrero was my shield from the sun and also it was nice to keep over my face so I could get in a nap. As I awoke 15 min I felt refreshed. We headed back out with the intentions of getting to the Stubblefield area which was at 19.7. As you must realize there is NO POTABLE water and no one to save you on this trail. So we randomly filled our water with creek or lake water heading to Lake Conroe. About mile 13 or so I started chafing bad. I had worn by Salomon shorts hoping the longer shorts would suit me better but to no avail.

So i broke out the A&D as I didnt want to get it anywhere than it was. I also broke my Iphone cable that was connected to my solar charger. So the grand thoughts of being on my phone before bed etc and checking in went out the windows as well. From 13-16 i was hurting from the chafing and the mosquitos, gnats, flies and ticks were HUNTING us. It was around 5-6 when we came into the Lake Conroe area. Feeling like rotting meat we came in and both out of water. We got some good ole Conroe water and got hydrated. After sitting for about 30 min we decided to call it a night. I think the total walking with breaks was like 10 hours.  I was able to use some lake water and take a soapy lather to get the chafing areas clean. I was fearful of the size of the chafes between the legs because I knew I couldnt hike like this. So i put on my infamous shorty shorts and lathered the A&D on thick.

As soon as I ate a Thunderbird Bar, Avacado and Goldfish I began to feel inflamed a bit. I knew I hadn’t slept good the night before so I went ahead and set up my tent and bedding. So around 7pm I laid in the tent with the open as I talked to David as he read his journal. He read some of what he wrote a year ago that day which was on the AT trail. It was really cool to hear his stories on the AT and learn some of the trail lingo they use. Within minutes I remember David asking me are you awake? I responded yes and then the next thing i remembered was rain on my face. I looked up at God knows when in the am to see rain coming down in my torpedo tent. I quickly moved my things (which i had in a zip lock bag) and then sealed the tent up and pulled the cover over. I didnt get really too wet except for the edge of the bag that was exposed.

But sleeping after that was just this constant turning over and over. Wresting with the sleeping bag, irritated and just restless. As I awoke around 7am i realized that while i slept my bag was open. While my bag was open the mosquitoes needed a place to live. So all of them came into my tent. When i was half way asleep in my tent i sealed the tent.

Like fresh meat in a locker for them. All night long as i tossed, turned and slept they ate. I woke up the next morning to find no less than 100 mosquitoes in my tent all full. While my legs, sides, feet, and every part of my body was ravaged with red marks where I had been eaten. What a way to wake up.

Day2 we wake up and at least the chafing healed up well. I slathered on some A&D and put a fresh pair of injinji socks  on. I used trail toes on my feet and also my shoulders and waist area where my pack was. I wore a cotton shirts cause it was HOT as hell and as learned with Pam Smith at WS100 last year it keeps you cool.

3 miles into the day 2 and we were at the campground. A restroom, potable water and we took a little break. There was a momma cat and 3 kittens that heard us and came out to play. It was fun to see kittens digging, climbing trees and wresting around. I knew it was wrong but i gave them some goldfish. Well i “accidentally” dropped some. As we filled our packs I went ahead and filled about 120 oz of water. Per the map we might not have a good source for over 16 miles and I didnt want to be the guy out of water and hiking.

As we started hiking my brother in law and i shared stories of life and made up funny things we would like. Much like an ultra we talked about ice cream, sodas. Every time I saw a Tick i would rhyme it with some obscene work and then pic..  It was funny till i had 5 on me at once. As we trekked through this part we went over some road areas and we laughed and hoped someone would come out and offer us there home. We talked about scenarios that would never happen but sure did seem great. We ended up stopping just at the Y in a whtie rock road and took a break. I think we where at 26.4

My brother in laws feet were bothering him and we were talking about realistically getting into Hunstville State Park for the night. The grand dreams of showers, a vending machine and maybe a shelter sure sounded nice. After our talk I kind of decided to just try and lead us to into the park. So i told David i think we have 4 hours and 20 min left to get us there. Lets hike for 2hr 10 min take a break and then well have it done.

Off we went I was up front this time taking cobwebs and flies on like no tomorrow. We were moving good and I checked my watch a lot for time and also just to know where we were. The trail is marked really well and the mileage was there. We hit a neighborhood with a lake right at 33.2 and met a home owner. He gave us a bottle of water and some advise.

As we hit the spillway it was time for the break actually we did 2 hr 20 min so only 2 hrs left.  We both felt good and decided to just hike it in. A few minutes after this the rain came. As the rain came we started down a path that had a creek nearby and it was over flooded recently. The trail was slick and as the rain came so did the increasing weight of us and the packs. My pack felt 2x as heavy and I could feel it start to dig in deep into my shoulders. But we were determined to keep moving. Soon after on the ice like train i slipped and fell. It feels different to fall with a pack on though as a 40lb weight kind of goes where it wants to. I got up a little pissed and ready to get this shit over with honestly. We were closing in on 20 miles and would keep us on track to get this trail done and get me a DAMN DIET COKE and a shower.

The rain didnt stop and neither did we. Around this time i did notice that the strain had my feet feeling sore and the pack was really starting to dig harder. I could hear 1-45 and the cars and I knew the mileage. With 1 mile to go i put my head down and started to count the min at this point with a 40lb pack I was doing all i could in the slick shit to keep it near 20 min miles. Once out of the forest it dumps you right on the feeder. I took off my pack and grabbed some food. My brother in law came out shortly behind me. We spoke and decided to keep pressing on down the feeder road.

Once at the guardrail is when the bolts starting coming off the train. My brother in law was fighting some taint chaffe and some feet blisters bad. He was hobbling at best and we decided to swap our trail shoes for flip flops to dry them out and the shoes. It was getting late now so I made a call to the park to check on campsites. They had water only which was good for us. But the only problem is that it was a few miles away.

After much deliberation the night started to fall and we could not get to the park by the time it closed we decided to call it over. My brother in laws blisters were nasty and the chaffe was causing him not to be able to walk much less hike. So we called in my mother in law who God bless her soul drives to huntsville from cypress at 9pm to pick us up. I kept laughing thinking how cool it is that I am with my brother in law, im 36 years old on the side of a feeder and my wifes kick ass family sees nothing wrong with this at all.

She picks us up and we STINK… I dont mean like ohh you just got out of the gym. Im talking about we hiked for like 22 hours in 2 days with the same clothes on STANK.. My brother in law and I spoke of Whataburger. I thought this was the greatest idea ever. I havent had a real meat hamburger in like 3 years.. Why NOT tonight i think i earned it haha. So down the hatch went a diet coke, fries and a Monterrey Burger with peppers. HOLY CRAP whataburger is good as I took a shower at their home all i felt was pain from the bites. My body was covered in red bites, scratches from thorns, whelps everywhere.

I got home late that night around midnight and got a good nights rest. When I got up in the morning I told the story to my wife and to a few friends etc. I wasnt really disappointing that we didnt do it all. My brother in law enjoys the relaxation of the trail and hiking so he had a great time. I had a good time as well but for a bit of time on the trail I got something i havent had in a while.

I dug maybe like 5% into that old Ultra well. The reason I havent raced anymore this year is honestly I cant run. My knee is tore up to the point where its hard for me to walk some days. Oddly enough it dosent mind me hiking so thats what I do. But this hiking dosent really hurt it much and it was fun to feel the physicality that comes with sweating, grinding and working for something.

But I learned with Mt Elbert a few weeks ago that I am a hiker right now. Im not a runner. I am really good at hiking as this has been what I have done for the last 6 months. So hiking this really made my might start to wonder. Being out there let my mind escape like an ultra would and it made me at times dig into that competitive well just a tad bit. I think Rob you just climbed Mt ELbert, you ran Ragnar which i thought i would do horrible at but it was on mountains so i did well.

I owe the LSHT a fight. I wasn’t pissed that we didnt finish. It just rubbed me the wrong way that I came home with all these fked up bites and crap and I didnt feel satisfied. Thats the word is that I hadnt had enough yet to quit.

So I want to go at the LSHT one on one. No support. No big pack on my back to slow me down. Just a Ultimate Direction fast pack, food, water and a map. Ill need to pack on water at times cause its 20 miles between streams but I want to try and hit it all. 96 miles, unsupported effort and just me. The date is set Tuesday July 22nd. I want it as HOT as Hell.  The goal sub 30 unsupported start at 1 finish at 96.

I finally feel confident in my abilities again. Not being able to “run” really fked my head up and only after DNF’s, pain and finally submitting the truth am I able to see the light in this. I dont have to “run” to be successful in athletics. Right now I need to be great at “hiking” since that is what I can and have trained to do.

I will spend the next month cross training, hiking with a weighted pack and also continuing to work on hip/glute strength. I have added in yoga 2x a week and also have been dropping weight as well to further my progress as I am still chasing 173 lbs as my goal for this year.

I enjoyed the trail immensely and spending time with my brother law under the sun with my sombrero on was truly a blessing. It taught me many lessons on how to hike, camp and what not to do. But it taught me a valuable lesson in life.

Love where you are at not where you were.

 

 

anton krupicka

Overwhelming gratitude

Everything is full circle. Karma is real. And what you put into your dreams is exactly what you will get out of them.

As in my last post I was heading back to Colorado with motivation on my mind. I hated leaving again but the thoughts of running Ragnar Snowmass with all my Ragnar Warriors was so exciting. The few days I had at home I mapped my entry into Colorado on wed. I looked to see what was the highest 14er near me.

So it just so happened to be Mt Elbert on the list and my plan was to sleep good wed night and head to the Mt Thursday morning and give it ago. Honestly i shouldnt be running or hiking at all with my knee issues but I am hard headed i guess. Everyday is a struggle to walk.run some times its horrid other times its just pain. But this is going on 1.5 years now so why bitch now.

I decided to get a hotel room wed night around 2am. im tired driving another 2 hours wasnt smart and i knew i need to sleep. i pop up at 6:15 and start heading i think around 1.5 hours to mt elbert. i stop in this little coffee shop in leadville to get a cup o joe and i head to the mountain. i used alltrails.com to show me the NE ridge and to guide me.

as i enter the parking lot i look up and realize that this isnt a treadmill climb and we are at 10,000 feet already. i am from houston and altitude is known for kicking our asses. i dont care that i was in colorado for 10 days i knew it was coming for me.

mt elbert trailAs i took a few pictures as  i loaded up with food, water, etc and starting the hike. i got lost no more than .2 onto the course because i was too damn excited to start. i got myself back on track and starting taking pictures of some of the ups. along i went hiking up the terrain it was so peaceful in the trees as i head up to the clearing. once hitting around 1600′ i made it to the small clearing. i was stepping through or on top waist high snow which i thought was the coolest thing ever.

josh on mt elbertOnce out of treeline i met a guy named josh from Tennessee he told me how he dreamed of this and how much he thought of this. it was a pleasure to share the mountain with him and we hiked together. along the way he mentioned he say Tony Krupicka eating breakfast we laughed about how cool it would be to see him run..

And then Tony Krupicka started coming down the mountain. Josh and I probably sounded like 8 year olds at a New Kids on the Block concert. I am sure that I am supposed to be cool, calm and collective but why LIE im not. I love meeting people that are bad ass runners and yes I act like a fan..

anton krupickaTony comes down we are able to get a quick picture with him and he is very kind as im sure everyone on the mountain stops him. We make our way up and up and up. 14,440′ is high and the temp is getting colder. Parts are covered in snow, we are climbing feet and hands at times. I knew we would make it but I was very happy I have done as much climbing as I had. This was amazing.

mt elbert summitOnce we hit the top i stood on what I could have considered the top of the world. A little marmot sat up there and yelled at us and we took pictures. I came down the mountain and met a young woman who worked on a dude ranch in colorado. She was an experienced 14er veteran and I traded her stories of Kilian and materhorn for her stories of tagging 14ers.

aspen black bearI headed to Aspen to meet with friends from Ragnar. We enjoyed conversation, food and slept for the night. Around 4:15am it got cold and one of the guys in the hammock got into the truck. I saw him and then noticed a black bear come through our camp.. what luck i thought as I got pics and video of him moving through the camp.

We all laughed as none of us were hurt and its always funny to talk about what could have been. We traveled together to snowmass about 30 min to meet the rest of the Ragnar Warriors to start our adventure.

I have the unique pleasure of being united with some amazing people from all of the country. We were all selected to be ambassadors for ragnar and we got a chance to all meet in salt lake a few months back. I have never been forged with a group quite like this. Its a wonderful mix of active., like minded people and we all just really get along.

As we formed our teams and met other teams I started to kind of take a step back mentally. I started to realize that i was going to run… This to me honestly was terrifying to think of trying to run downhill as i have avoided this for 6 months and my knee was already the size of a softball from elbert.

I was the last to go and I had a chance to watch people come and go on our team. It was so much fun to just cheer them on and keep up with who was next. Along the way I was able to talk with friends with Salomon and meet Cassie Scallion, Kerry B and also Eric Skaggs all of which I have immense amount of respect for. So more ultra celebs for me.

Then i had to run. As I left the transition area and headed up yellow I just kept thinking just get halfway which would all be downhill. My legs felt like shit. They hurt but I had said i was willing to suffer. I ran/hiked hard up the i think 1200′ incline over the 2.1 distance. Almost hitting the halfway this grouse which we think was protecting the nest chased me down the trail. I knew it was coming but it was fast and really made me laugh as i hit the halfway. I took a deep breath and said well lets let it rip. I knew it would hurt, I knew it would be fun and I wanted to enjoy it. The next 2.1 miles where what life is. I was thankful to be there, to be part of the team and to be running. I kept looking down as i ran about a 7:30 pace down and just let my legs loose.

As I finished my loop I probably sounded like a kid with a new toy. I was just so happy to enjoy it. I was just so happy to run even if for a few minutes. The next day and Saturday I got to spend time with the teams of Warriors. Swapping stories, making plans and enjoying like minded people is so fun for me.

2014-06-06 07.54.41I was the last to run and I had the red loop left. It offered the longest trip 6.1 and the longest down hill. As I power hiked the first 3.1 which was steep all the way to the top of the ridge line. I had this amazing view looking down at the Ragnar Village. Knowing that at the bottom my team was waiting. As i started the downhill I started to really miss being home. As much fun as I was having in Colorado my mind was wondering. The 3 mile downhill was again blissful. I took a little easier and just enjoyed the ride.

We finished as a team and shortly after we all went our separate ways. So camping, some flying and some driving.  As I said by to the Ragnar staff I began to think how THANKFUL I am for this life.

As my wife and I spoke last night before Bed I went over some of the upcoming plans for us. The traveling, the races and the things we are getting done. She said ROb isnt this great. Isnt this what you wanted.

It is. Life is very fulfilling right now. I see opportunities at every corner and I plan on following all the paths. I was able over these last few days to really soak in the enjoyment of the mountains and of the amazing friends I have within the Ragnar world. I am blessed to call those people friends and there companionship is truly unforgettable.

My friend wrote this on my picture on facebook. His words are always very inspirational to me.

 “Talents are brought together through determination and commitment. This was no coincidence, my friend.”

It reminded me of this quote which i keep near me.

Follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams. -Donovan Bailey

Life is exciting. I am truly happy. And I am grateful for those who I get to share my time with.

 

Band-Aids

I honestly cant believe I havent blogged since we put on the Brazos Bend 50. I find it hard to imagine that over 30 days i blogged my first race as a race director.

Well a lot changes in life and so has mine in the past 30 days. Immediately after writing that blog my life seemed to change speeds for me. It went from fast to hyper speed. As Rachel and I had a planned family vacation for 10 days be level of stress to complete task for races, events etc became smaller and smaller. I have spend (like tonight) more nights up past midnight in the past 4 months than probably in my life. Days seems to have few workable hours with training, life and being a husband.

So the title of the blog is Band-Aids.  The term “band-aid” has also entered usage as both a noun and verb describing a temporary fix.(from wikipedia)

You know the truth about life is that a lot of times we use band aids to cover up what we are scared of, fearful of or not confident in. There is a common phrase of in sales of just rip the band aid off. The phrase is used to say face the pain now. No need to slowly take a band aid off to be in pain just be confident and rip it all off.

Over the past 30 days I have been focused on doing just this.

Ripping the band aid off my life and exposing everything that I want to do. As i hiked the mountains with my wife, my son and our pups I was so inspired to see these shelter dogs run up the flat irons. It was so amazing for me to see these pups with no experience just use their natural ability to climb. All they needed was for me to let them go and they could handle it themselves.

My wife in this time period also decided to go backpacking in Asia for 6 weeks with her brother. As much as this is discomforting as a husband to miss my spouse I realize for her this is a huge embankment. One that puts her out of her comfort zone but also in a place where she can grow.

I have had the opportunities as of late to make my final withdraw from my old way of living. I have now put myself in a position where I dont have a “normal” job. With my wife set to leave her job in a months time we are really chasing our dreams. It has been the hardest struggle for me to leave my old job. The security, the family and the guilt of what if it dosent work… Those thoughts played into my head on a daily basis as I kept grinding away thinking just one more week Rob.

Along the way a ball rolled for us to go to Oregon to run the Mount St Helens race. It happens to be 10 days before my knee surgery and the thoughts of being in Oregon make me excited beyond words. The history of Pre, Rogue Valley Runners and Ashland have my stoked. But the one whisper from Jose and this trip lit up like a wild fire. I am so excited to get to see Oregon, run in Washington and do it with my trail family as well.

As of today I will head back to Colorado. I just came back not but 7 days ago. 4 more days in the beautiful mountains. When i come back a 4 day fathers day hike with my brother in law. And 2 weeks later I will get a chance to go to Western States in California.

Over the past 30 days I have been engulfed in motivational items for myself. From talking to friends, family or just practicing daily on removing negative items from my thoughts.

I can remember when I was 16 years old and started my cleaning business. I had a ladder, the materials and about $20 left. I went to Kinkos with a sharpie and hand wrote flyers to distribute. I knew in my heart that it would work and I knew I was willing to work hard to make it happen. I can remember that day as I walked door to door in sugarland with flyers and a spiral notebook.  (Just like i do today) That day advertising I remember i signed up over $1000.00 worth of business scheduled for the next week and so a business was born.

Leaning on these past experiences even with my age reminds me that I have always been this way. I have always just moved at my own pace, lead myself and never looked back.

You have to be willing to rip the Band-Aids off if you want to grow.

“You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle … but you can’t win much, either.” -Rounders

 

 

brazosbend50

My first time as a Race Director

My first time as an Race Director

You know I have patiently waited to write this blog. Waited for my sleep to get back to normal, waiting for my life to get back normal and mainly just to get a big deep breath of fresh air.

I have thought long on what I would write in this blog. Would i tell you how i marketed the race, how the race went or the aftermath of the race. Would I tell all the behind the scenes stories, my 17 min nap i had in 50 hours… How i couldnt drive home so Dave James had to haha. But I dont think I could recreate all of these stories and tell you what its like to be a race director efficiently.

So that leaves me with only option.. To tell you what I learned from being a race director because this is the best part.

The best part about race directing is that you become a servant. You know when I was an alcoholic I always felt like i “took” from the world all the time. I robbed my family, my friends and even humanity of the respect it was deserved. I took peoples time, their faith and i broke their trust. Over and over and over. I am fortunate that a few of my friends and my wife stuck by my side to see me get sober.

I tell you that because I overheard a race director say one time  #1 that people trust you when they sign up for the race and #2 the volunteers are the most important thing in a race.

Many nights i spent tossing and turning in my bed. I had a notebook next to me to write my ideas or thoughts down to practice releasing them to go to bed. More often than not I would stay awake for hours just rehearsing/obsessing plan a’s, b’s c’s and the like. I would worry about safety, running out of water or what if someone was injured.

I had the honor to have one of my best friends Jose come on board to be the volunteer leader. I knew that he was working behind the scenes to align the stars for the volunteers we had, times etc.

As the days got closer Rachel my wife decided that she wanted to come on full time RD with me and put her notice in her job. She was an intricate part in organizing the aid stations, goodie bags, organization and keeping me from not going crazy.

Dave James flew into to spend some time at my home for the week and we had a blast. I got to hear old racing stories, his life with RWB and he schooled me further on ins/outs of race stuff etc.

So as we prepare for this great day I have this wonderful group around me. My mom came down to help out from Austin, my other BFF Jeremy decided to be team captain of aid stations #1.. working it on no sleep the entire day..

As we pull up to the Pavilion on Friday we are packed with a 20′ uhaul, our friends, our dreams and one common goal. To put on the best race that we possible can no matter what.

As soon as the day starts I am overwhelmed with support. Brian with RWB jumps in to help us out, the timing crew start to come out, Nick comes to help and all is going well. Things are getting done and we are moving closer to the RD meeting.

Nervously I stand there in front of all of these people. These people who trust me and that I am now serving a race. As night falls Jeremy gets off work. We spend the night laughing, i think i drink like 80 oz of bucc-ees coffee and we are busy. Our 17 min nap from 3-3:17am was amazing.

As soon as 5am starts the carnival is rolling. My wife is at packet pickup, the timing is good, shirts are good.. Everything is in sync. We are hauling food out, volunteers out.. I see people that i want to chat with but I cant. Its not frantic but this has to be perfect. Because people deserve that and they trust me. I am a servant today.

As the races start out more come to volunteer, Liz leads up the crew. The HATR nation shows up to volunteer, people who paid and didnt feel like racing jump in.. All of these people just jumping in as the horns go off.

As the racers are coming in this is a huge carnival. Volunteers, supplies, park staff, me, the racers, the wildlife is all moving pieces to the puzzle. The constant flow of movement is like nothing i have ever seen before. To witness it all made me stand back and realize how important we all were.

I think i hugged and thanked people over and over again. I had one person tell you you already told me. But you know what standing at the finish line is the easy part. I really truly appreciated all these people who dedicated their time so this race could happen. People who unselfishly stood all day to make this was great. For them I am eternally grateful.

The race dosent happen without the runners. The race dosent happen without the volunteers or the park staff. Nor would it happen without me/Rachel or the park itself. We are all a community on this day. All playing our part in this beautiful experience.

As the runners come in I get the dream of a lifetime. I get the opportunity to be a true servant to the people. I get a chance to tell people the truth. I did my best to try and see most people in person. I wanted to personally thank them for trusting us to run in our race. I wanted to congratulate them on their achievements and tell them thank you.

The day after the race we had to take Dave James home. We all went out to eat and my wife and I compared this to our wedding. We planned this for so long and it was gone so quickly. It was just an explosion of energy, passion and an overwhelming amount of emotion for us both.

As we relaxed that night we both smiled and said how FUN was that. The chaos, the people, the runners and the park. My wife and I have fallen in love with race directing. There isnt any other way for us to describe how we feel about it and there isnt any other way for us to live unless we are doing this.

In the days that have passed I wrote this on facebook wall as part of my 100 days of happiness!

Day #32 of #100 of being happy. Community.

As the days pass from the Brazos Bend 50 I still find myself at the edge of my emotional limit. I am still a bit tired, I am still pushing to get quite a few things done to close the door on the race and I am still constantly reminded of the race daily. The amount of posts, comments, emails, texts calls etc is so overwhelming. ( i forgot you all have my phone # and personal email haha)…

But I am blessed and honored to be a part of this community. Rather that be the Houston community, the running community or the trail community this has been an experience that I will never forget. The great part of the Brazos Bend 50 isnt that I put it on.. Its that WE shared something together. We as a community put on a race, in our own hometown and it helped to grow what we already had.

People asked me if the race went how I wanted. My answer was I didnt have a pre conceived notion of what it would be like. More of like that I set up the canvas, the volunteers kept the paint filled, Rachel, Jose and Park held it all steady.. And all of our runners came through and put the paint on it runner by runner.

In the end the Brazos Bend was a masterpiece. And we all shared in making it!”

I thank you all for making my dreams come true. I am a proud servant of the trail/running community as a Race Director and we look forward to sharing another canvas with you all soon.

-rob

 

From Obesity to Ultra Trail Runner.