Full Circle at Rocky Raccoon 100

Full Circle at Rocky Raccoon 100

This is a blog that I had to write. Most blogs i am usually wanting to write i dont get to because of race blogs etc.. But this one means the world to me.

Back before Trail Racing Over Texas. Before Houston Area Trail Runners. Before I ever ran an Ultramarathon. Before I ever knew what a trail race was. Before I had found the trails. Before I had ever run. Back when I was 347lbs and a hurricane of hurt I knew Jeremy “handsome” Hanson.

Jeremy is one of the only friends that I have from the darkside of my life. Jeremy was always the funniest person that I had ever met with the way he manipulated facts and his easy going nature.

Shortly after I had actually found the trails to run on I called Jeremy. Within 2 weeks or so he showed up at the trailhead and we started running the trails. He was essentially my first Trail Friend. Since that day both of our lives have dramatically changed. Jeremy has lost a bunch of weight, become a CORRAL A Houston marathon runner and has developed into such an admirable leader for the HATRs.

Jeremy through these past few years has also been one of my closest friends. He is one of the most caring , selfless people that I have every met. From donating his time to watch me run my first 100 miler, from volunteering his whole days and nights at our races he is simply irreplaceable.

jeremyThis past year on a trip to Oregon as Jeremy and I planned a trip to Mt Hood. I get a little emotional when I think of what i would consider the best trail run of my life but it was. We crossed rivers, ran the pine needle forest, stood in waterfalls and then stood and watched the clouds part to see Mt Hood together.

Soon after we found out that you can put sausage gravy on chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes as well.

Life isnt really worth anything if you cannot share it with other people. So I am going to strap the knee down one more time saturday night.sunday to pace in one of the greatest men i have ever met.

Jeremy “Handsome” Hanson will start the rocky raccoon 100 at 6am. I am his crew chief and pacer for the 80-100 miles. If for some reason my surgery goes bad at least i know that my last trail race and first were with Jerms. I have never taken crewing anyone this seriously and with this being his first attempt i am committed to helping him get in under 30 hours. #teamjeremy #teamhandsome

You can watch it live at http://www.ultrasportslive.com and i will have some festive attire for the event.

So feel free to hashtag #teamjeremy on instagram or twitter as Jeremy has a bet with a fellow HATR liz on who will finish first.

For all of you ladies who read this. If you are looking for a Grade A handsome man, with sweet dance moves, a karaoke voice that is pro level and a trail runner with a nice salt and pepper beard look no further than Handsome Hanson..

https://www.facebook.com/jeremyhanson17

Big plans, big dreams and one big knee.

Big plans, big dreams and one big knee.

Well the last month of december through january was one big roller coaster of a ride.

From putting on the Brazos Bend 100 to basically just trying to keep our heads above water to the Snowdrop Foundation 55 hour race. The race was a great way for me to get one last run in before knee surgery..

With everything that I am involved in I literally have 10-20 moving items on the plate at all times. I have 3 notepads that i move ideas, things to do etc from day to day.. On top of this i have 3 excel sheets that spread between Race Director Items for races, updates on futures races/progress and my roles at Ultrasportslive.tv

So when we got home from Snowdrop which was on a thursday we were back at home on friday to head to the hill country to enjoy family christmas and spend time with wesley as well. It was enjoyable few days laying in the hot tub but driving wesley back to odessa back was 10 hours of hurt and the following day back to Houston we came.

There are times when i literally say out loud “Rachel please do not let me committ to anything else:”… Its a double edge sword for me as I enjoy the work. I really like being part of trail running at any capacity that I can be. From race directing, park maintenance, RWB, volunteering, speaking, working for USL.tv I love it all. The part i dont love is when i let it get out of balance..

Well i decided that I would jump in the Bandera 100k 9 days after snowdrop.. I packed my bags on friday morning and was out the door headed to bandera. Ohh wait i forgot to mention that i stopped in Austin to have a sponsor meeting and i took 5 calls from Katy to bandera for sponsorships and/or our races. So it was more of a business commute along the way.

I really enjoyed running bandera as i was in pain the whole time. At snowdrop I was in a lot of pain but i couldnt run anymore. My knee was just too inflamed to really even walk around the track one more loop. So deeply i wanted to be exhausted on my favorite trails. Around mile 10 i knew i was not a smart person. And at mile 25 when i thought i only had 1 mile to do I laughed at my own despair. But at the 50k mark i was smiling and had enough. It was fun to just kind of say in my mind great job.. but i am done being in pain..

2 days after Bandera we jumped back in the car up to el paso to hike some mountains with the pups and enjoy the city. I got sick up there for 2 of the days probably because of the load on my body and my refusal to give in.. But i am hard headed so i kept trying to push the pace.

Recently Rachel and I went to watch the Houston Marathon at the Lukes Locker in Houston. It was so enjoyable to watch people run. I noticed some people running oddly and I said out loud “do i look like that” everyone who heard this said I have the worst running stride of anyone… I thought yeah thats probably true. It made me think i wonder what is going to happen if i have 2 good news.

So watching the marathon was emotional for me to see before knee surgery. Since the 10th till today physiologically i have been destroying my legs. I dont know why i am doing this but im just squeezing every ounce of them i can and today i finally gave in. My legs are beyond trashed. I havent really rested them for even one day since before snowdrop. But i have a committed to pace Jeremy Handsome Hanson on his last loop at RR100 so i decided today im done running till then. I will hit the weights hard, spin etc but in reality i am a little worn out and i can tell i am mentally.

I have literally been working up till past 2-4am probably the last few months 5-6 days a week and my body is ready for a break. Its ready for some down time and surgery is set for Feb 4th.

So today was a good day. I took the day off. My legs are so horrible and my knees hurt that walking is painful. My legs are aching, throbbing and my knee is about the size of a cantaloupe. But i took Rachel on a lunch date which included pizza, ice cream and a nap with our pups.

So life has been fun. But the best is just coming. I have some huge plans for races, series and other exciting bits that I am working on to see to fruition soon. I am excited this year to travel with USL.tv to some wonderful races and really stoked to see Team Trail Racing Over Texas grow and flourish.

People always ask me privately funny questions. The other day someone said will you be positive when you have knee surgery.

I thought about it. I hope I am. Knee surgery has been a battle longer than i have been an ultra runner. It has always been the reason for so many issues that i have with running but it has also made me really tough when it comes to pain management. I am sure that the actual surgery wont be horrible since ill be asleep.  But i dont know whats next for me.

I guess thats always been the fear for me is that what if it all goes wrong.. Well see February 4th i guess.

 

3 days, one race and one resolution

3 days, one race and one resolution

My great joy in racing in the snowdrop foundation ultra 55 hour race is that it isnt about me. i worked ferociously the days  leading up to the race so that I could just go numb.. i finished all the posts, the blogs and was reassured by my working partners that all was well as I began to settle into race mode.

we arrived at the snowdrop hq on monday morning around 9:30 we set up our new Kelty tent which is SUPER AMAZING.. only 3 poles and this monster was up and done. we set up the mini aid station about 3 feet off the course and picked up our packets. it was nice to see the klines, patty and the whole snowdrop gang. we kicked out early and went to our favorite indian spot near the house. when it comes to pre race day meals i like to pack it in before 4pm. my body usually will take almost anything in and then usually an hour before race time allow me to run empty.

with the bags packed and my stomach full we went home. we spent the day with Wes just playing games and hanging out. i can remember going to bed at 8:30 and that was perfect. i woke up at the first alarm. had my clothes laid out and was in the car right on time. we got to the start about 45 min pre race. it was perfect timing for all to happen.

i did ad instructed my Vince who is owner of trail toes on prepping my feet for this race. i have had a HISTORY of horrid blisters, toe nails everywhere and my feet are always a mess. Well between the trail toes care, my new altra paradigms and injinjis i had something for the trail.

i towed the line in what would be my race uniform. Trail Racing Over Texas Team singlet, by north face short shorts which are really long for me and 3 jugs of pre mixed tailwind. i knew this race would change over time so i have 1 box of clothes and also 1 box of goodies. this included reeses trees, goldfish, pure maple syrup, cheese crackers, hammer gels, bearded brothers bars, quest bars and of course my favorite Turkey epic bars..

with about 5 min before the start it hit me.. as my wife and son began to watch me and ask me how i was doing. i started to cry as our sweet Gods Sons pictures aligned the tables… our good friend Mark Kenney made us shirts with his picture and my wife made a custom shirt vest… here i was numb like i wanted. no worries of work, everything here… all i had to do now was get 100 miles done.

The snowdrop foundation is my family. all of the people that run this race run for something bigger than themselves and we support each other in a way that had bonded us forever. there isnt anything that i wouldnt do for any of them on or off the course.

As my wife and I talked tonight she asked me what are my resolutions. i told her i dont have any. i truly believe that everyday is a resolution.

as we towed the line i knew that #1 i was going to finish 100 miles. #2 i was going to try and be the life of the party and #3 i would honor my God son and the snowdrop foundation all around this .76 mile loop as long as i could.

the first 40 miles i think i could tell you went by quickly. i did a combo of run/walk just to keep the knee swelling down as much as possible. i can remember laughing, dancing on the mud and really doing my best to encourage all of those who were around me. i knew that many of them would use most of the 55 hour to make it and i also told them each that I would watch them finish. i have a belief in ultras and that is you GIVE what you NEED. i was giving the trail love to as many as I could because I NEEDED it back. i knew that at some point my knee would go and i would have to fight to finish.

at mile 40 i started to weep. i have always known that if i can get to mile 40 on this shit knee than i can finish the 100 miler. i could walk the rest, crawl the rest but this has always been the distance. i remember weeping on the back side of the track for a bit and my mind saying get back into this Rob its not in the bag.. push to 50…

i hit 50 in good spirits as Rachel and Wesley had arrived. I took about 20 min to get new socks, re lube everywhere and get back to moving. feeling the knee inflamed i knew that it was going to get touch. at mile 63 or so with friends there with me i was beginning to have to walk backwards, hobble and just hold the pee in from the knee pain. with the opportunity to go home i did. i got home at 1am and my wife had to be back up there at 6am for the relay i slept 4 hours and was back on the track. i was able to run from 62-80 before my knee went boom again. this time i was frustrated as i hated being stopped. i resolved myself to laying in the tent for about an hour or so with my feet up trying to get some sort of knee relief. back on the track from 80-95 i was basically just trying to run as much as i could. seeing everyone out was so much fun and i tried to continue to have a good time..

at times when i crossed i heard people say that i looked pissed or too smile.. when i could smile i would. but honestly most of the miles past 50 were painful. i couldnt hide the fact that it hurt even when those around me were cheering me on.

at mile 95 the knee gave out.. i was beyond irritated. i was walking backwards, hobbling.. this fking close and here we go again. instead of trying to walk 2 miles an hour i did what i needed. i went into the snowdrop heated tent and laid on the ground. put my knee up for about 30 minutes and came out determined to finish this. as i got a decent little trot in i could feel the adrenaline kick in and when i hit the line they with 5 laps left they told me that someone was on his last leg as well.. i was like ohh really who… Robert Key…

I could write a blog on how wonderful this man is.. but thats not the point. he beat me last year by a lap… i know this because he has told me this… so with 5 laps to go apparently adrenaline can take over your body. i set out on a pace that i hadnt seen in 96 laps… determine to find Robert. I ran around the first loop and when i got back i looked up and said did he come through… No…. I was stunned. where was he.. So i started to run again… I got through another lap and No Robert Key.. what has happened to grandpa?

Along the back stretch with 2 laps left i think i found Robert. We exchanged words he scolded me for lapping him while he had to change his diaper and eat more fiber i think or something like that. I took off and headed back in for the bell lap. I hit the bell lap and grabbed my In Loving Memory Shirt that Mark had made me.. Kees Poole was the reason I was running and i needed to feel him against me… I ran around that track one more time, touching all of kids pictures and enjoy the moment.. I couldnt hold back the tear any longer as I wept along the Mt Kline hill. I stopped out of sight of the finish line to say a prayer for my Kees and all of the kids affected. As I start to make my way towards the line who do i see Tony Constanzo i think in any other type of race you might just pass a man by on your way to victory.. But this isnt those kind of races. I stopped for a moment and put my hand on Tonys Shoulder and thanked him for the support. We hugged told each other how much it means for us to be there together and that we loved each other.

The final 20 or so steps was one last touch of a child on a poster and hitting the line.. I would be foolish to say that i felt anything other than numb… I saw my friends, Kevin, Trish and Patty. Countless others congratulating me on the accomplishment.. It was a nice gesture and the buckle is simply put amazing.

But the truth about this race for me is that its truly about the people that run, the snowdrop foundation and the children we support through our running.

I had the opportunity those 3 days to see some amazing individuals do something incredible things. I saw many of my friends get 100 mile buckles. But the real gift was seeing us all run for such a great cause.

As Jered Mansell who won the event with most miles and a child cancer survivor finished his race the air stood still. Time didnt tick, birds didnt chirp and the lone sound were those of a young man who just gave everything he had for “his people”…

I can tell you that i have been in tons of races. I have put on many and will for a long time. There is nothing more powerful than watching someone sacrifice it all for something greater than themselves.

This is why the Snowdrop Ultra 55 is so important to me and this is why so many of us are able to accomplish amazing feats but for only a few days.

This blog dosent allow me to tell you the 100s of stories from watching Ian wallace crush his first 100, mark kenney get 2 buckles in 14 days, brian and jered going stride for stride for hours, linda with her unrelenting willingness to run, catra lighting up the track, franks selflessness to see others achieve, dee on the brink of missing the buckle coming back to crush it, becky “buckle” spaulding finishing a 100 miler and cussing at the tv crew, gordon christie fighting his ass off through injuires to get it done, Denise representing the AIR FORCE getting it done and did i mention Grandpa Key coming in shortly after me… And if you werent there you missed the Abney boys showing up for that buckle party or maybe Tim Neckars flying 100 with texas shorts… My point is that i have 100 stories from those 3 days and thats why I love this race.

I want to thank those who supported me on these efforts that I live. I want to thank all the Houston Area Trail Runners that came out to see us those days, I want to thank my boys at TTR timing for the support, Kevin and Trish Kline, Patty Godfrey and the Snowdrop Foundation. Thank you to Altra for the killer shoes, Trail Toes for giving me something that kept me blister, chafe and rubbing free. Epic bar for the grub, Zeal optics for the glasses, Hammer Nutrition for the gels..

Thank you to all the runners, volunteers, crew, staff and snowdrop foundation for everything you are doing..

If you want to still donate to my snowdrop page here is the link. Our race company Trail Racing Over Texas will match the donation $1 to $1 for race credit for any of our races as well.

https://snowdrop.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.participant&participantID=1340

A time to reflect, remember and honor life

As the dust settles from the Brazos bend 100 i have done all i can to stay in the moment. I challenged myself for 30 days with being honest about my weight, taking on 100 of anything challenges to keep motivated.

I knew that it would be really hard for me after the Brazos Bend 100 to remain emotionally intact.. The truth about the Snowdrop 55 hour race is that we run the race to honor our God Son Kees Poole who passed last year to pediatric cancer at around 14 months..

Below is the post from last year before I ran it..

http://www.robgoyen.com/2013/12/03/28-days-of-fun-and-then-i-run-snowdrop-55-hour-for-kees/

You know it dosent get any harder when you lose something that is precious. I still cry everytime i see his pictures, i still think of seeing him dunk that little basketball naked for his birthday. Even as i try and write this the remembering of him has me crying without fail.

I have tried my best to keep the emotions at bay when I think of the race, or knowing that we will have his pictures there on the track. I remember last year i was having a bad lap around mile 75 when my wife showed up. I told her lets walk and we just cried along the loop talking about Kees and looking at the surrounding children that had pictures on the course..

But this year is different for us. We have grown closer this year to our Snowdrop Foundation family I even got an official jersey. We love the work that Kevin and Trish Kline do and we have been able to help promote them through the HATRs, Brazos Bend races and now with Trail Racing Over Texas.

But Rachel decided a few weeks a go to jump on a relay team and run as well this year. I didnt really tell her but I am SO PROUD of her for stepping outside her comfort zone and doing this. I also cant wait to see her on the course.

So here we are  2 days away. I cant fight the emotions anymore. I woke up this morning crying.. Its time to run for me. Its always been emotional and this race will take it all out of me.

So thank you to all of you who have inspired me this year. I have watched you all run, race and dig in knowing that this is my race to do everything that I can. Last year i did 107 in a little over 30 hours and shut it down. I have always regretted not seeing how far i could have gone.

With the support of so many, the inspiration from many and to honor Kees Poole my goal will be all 55 hours this time.

Thank you again to all the sponsors that have supported us this year in our races. Thank you again to the runners who ran our races and showed us inspiring finishes. Thank you to our Snowdrop Foundation for continuing everyday to honor these great children with your efforts.

Every step we take will be to honor Kees Poole and my job will be to take as many of those as I can.

You can donate here for my fundraising page and every dollar you donate Trail Racing Over Texas will give you that BACK in race credit $1 to $1. https://snowdrop.donordrive.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.participant&participantID=1340

You can follow me through the hashtag #ultra55 on twitter or follow my facebook https://www.facebook.com/runningrobg

Big thanks to Altra, Epic Bar, Trail Toes, Hammer Nutrition, Merrell, Pocket Fuel, Bearded Brothers and Zeal Optics for the support this year. I know your products will help me get the most out of myself on raceday.

entitlement and understanding

You know over the past 6 months I have been asked by a bunch of people in the industry and friends if all the complaints were true from race directors.

I told my friends I dont really post on facebook on the top 10 reasons not to race direct, or why its a thankless job or anything else that happens on the subject. I have always maintained that i choose this life and that i can simply walk away if i didnt like it. i would not publicly say that i dont enjoy something that i have the choice in doing.

well with any plan that has dynamic movement like 831 runners nothing goes the way you would have wanted it to. things happen. in my mind my job is to try and control the variables that i can through the 2-3 days that i can manage it..

some things i cant manage, some others are managing and some throw wrenches in the plans i have. But at the end of the day I stand up and tell people i am the race director so all thoughts, comments, emails etc come to me..

Well putting on a race this time was my first glimpse into why race directors write all of those things… This was the first time I had ever received what I call the racers entitlement.

I am a very open person. About my life, about my races and also through communication. I answer emails promptly, I take phone calls,  I stay in daily communication with the people that we are serving in races. Normally this is a big plus for me and I think runners in general.

Even as I write this i hesitate to disclose everything. I am double thinking writing this blog and like many I will delete it all and forget about it. Thinking maybe i shouldnt write this at all.

The point I am trying to make in all of this is the people that direct races are people. I have seen lately people attack race directors for medals, shirts or this and that but you realize that these people are PEOPLE right?

When i got an email telling me I was an IDIOT for not giving shirts and that I was a cheap A$$ I thought how do i respond. So i responded back with the truth.. The truth is that I listened to people at the BB50 and they said we want something different than a shirt.. So we did headwear instead of the shirt ( which is honestly about the same cost..) and then i CATERED a FULL Holiday Meal which was 2.5x more than a shirt. So i am trying to do something different that costs more and you are calling me a cheap ass. ( no response)

I did this for a few emails. Some of them attacking me as a person telling me that I dont care about trail community because I didnt have cups… I wrote them back that I started the Houston Area Trail Runners 2 years ago with nothing…. And that the cups are so that we dont have 5000 on a texas state park and never be invited back.. ( no response)

I have responded to every message written about my race, or myself to address concerns and information.

Then i wander on to another page with a group that a man who has emailed me a few times, facebook messaged me etc etc goes on and tells another person that they should email me as well because they didnt have  a burner at the aid station to make him a breakfast taco that I needed his piece of mind. ( we did have burners at the aid station, and b why is this important for you to try continue this at every avenue you can to try and discredit me?)

I had over 300 texts, calls, emails and messages in 3 days.

I had over 50 telling me that I got their times wrong in the first 10 hours WHILE i was still race directing when i made it clear they wouldnt be done till wednesday. I had 100 on monday when i got the first 12 hours of sleep after being up almost 60 hours straight.

As a business man i am okay with all of this. I have run a business since I was 5 years old. I run 4 as we speak. This is as business so I will take the good and make it better. I will take the bad and work on it. Pretty simple concept to keep growing forward. As much as people dont want to say it well i just put on 2 of the most incredible trail races in texas history and it was my first 2 at that. I am beyond anything passionate, understand and hard working. So i will learn along the way with each of these races and bring them back better.

But as a race director i see why people dont want to do this job. I see why so many in this industry burn out, sell their races or just quit doing this all together. Because people feel entitled to THEIR opinion no matter how they treat you when they express it. From your an asshole to your are a cheap ass I got to hear it all. Some of it to my face while i was still race directing.

I get it. Your a runner you want it all to be perfect. I didnt have you favorite PB&J.. We missed your time by 10 seconds and you want it right to show you friends. You didnt know you needed a water bottle (because i said it 100 times)… All of those are race directors faults???

We trail running race directors arent directing 5ks and 10ks. This is a different culture, climate and atmosphere. Before you enter into a trail race make sure you understand what you are doing. Read your racebook, dont think you are showing up to the marathon and have some respect for those who are trying to put these on for you.

We are putting on races because we love watching people chase dreams. We love trying to figure out a great course, set up and design. Sometimes the 1st go around its not perfect but you cant really practice race days in your mind.

I love race directing. Even as the race was happening I was taking notes, thinking of ways to do things better. For me this is what every race will be a giant puzzle of dynamic movements to figure out.

So telling someone what you think you are entitled to is your right.. But understanding those people are HUMAN is another thing. There is an inherited about of respect that I think we should have all for each other no matter what. Maybe people are used to hiding behind keyboards so much that we think its acceptable to say anything to anyone when we cant see them. Keep in mind though that people are still real, people do have feelings and that humans interact.

But i want to thank you as well. I saw some amazing stories right in front of my eyes those 2 days. Inspiring real life people accomplishing great things.. And that is what it is all about for me. Beyond the work, the planning and my sleepless horrid look was my joy thinking of those who crossed the line.

In less than 7 days I get my change to put my mind at rest. I will get the opportunity of my own to compete and run in the Snowdrop 55 hour race here in sugarland texas. I run for Kees Poole who is our God son that passed last year from pediatric cancer. Everyday that this race gets closer my heart beats a little faster and i cry a little bit more. Getting to watch all of you run our race the Brazos bend 100 has really put a lot of fuel in my bank to run.

I am prepared more today than I ever have to just run and never stop. I thank you all for being part of our races and more importantly our journey. From volunteers to runners we always feel each race that we get a bigger family.

Thank you all for being part of my journey..

Chasing the Dream One Day At a time

Chasing the Dream One Day At a time

i have waited what seems many days to write a blog on how i feel about the brazos bend 100, race directing and the peace that is preparing for the race..

You know I am a race director out of necessity. I started the Houston Area Trail Runners almost 2 years ago because there wasnt a USATF club in the gulf region that focused on trail, mountain and ultras..

Right before our first year anniversary I told Rachel that I was tired of hearing my friends not be able to race because of travel, or family or financial concerns.. And then one day I saw a runner who i think has a just given talent for running 100s mention he only ran a few times of year because he was a father.husband and didnt want to leave his family.

I had told Rachel soon after this that I was going to start putting on races so that people our friends, family and loved ones could race without having to leave.. I also knew that this would be full circle in giving back to the trail community what i felt like it gave me which was a second chance.

1 month later I was in a meeting with the park that was supposed to talk about having a free race. But once we opened the door it went from free race to me telling them how I wanted to run a 50 miler and a 100 miler in their park. Upon leaving that meeting i knew that my fate was sealed. I was going to impose my will on being a race director 100% and I have never looked back.

So i have since then done everything I can to make myself that race director. I have put on free races, i have read books on management, I have tediously followed people like Candice Burt, the Coury Brothers, Matt Hart, james Varner,John Sherpa,  and many other RDs all over the country every time they put on races.. I mean i even have a tab that follows every tweet or facebook they send out.. I watch these RDs because I wanted to be that good. These are GREAT RDs the BEST in my opinion in the country..

All of that led to the Brazos Bend 50… 583 registered and i could tell that giving something 100% would work every time just like it always has..

After the high of the BB50 i was behind the scenes working with USL.tv on the team which had provided me a great way to continue to support the trail community and challenge myself..

I explain people how much I love trail running and the community. I have seen many a RD lately say its a thank less job, that you drive yourself in the dirt for little and all this other crap.. None of this is true.

I am a race director because I LOVE IT. I breathe it and because WE NEED IT… My city needs it, my friends need it and I need it.. I choose race directing over racing, over training and over traveling when needed.

So with that being said. I have been chasing this dream for over a year. Planning, organizing and guiding this beautiful canvas with my wife to the stage…

Ready to set it up and let these beautiful trail runners turn this blank canvas into a masterpiece…

The Brazos Bend 100 is the hardest thing I have ever worked on. I have the honor of Race Directing this race but could not do this without my wife, the trail community, rds who let me pick their brains on stuff, the army of volunteers and my closest friends who help to support us..

Never give up on your dreams if you are willing to give 100% to achieve them..

Houston, We have a problem.

Houston, We have a problem.

I have been hard headed all my life. People in grade school told me that I my mouth would get me in trouble. My parents at age 7 told me that I was on my own. I lived in 3rd ward at the age of 18 while attending U of H because I was kicked out of my house for having a bible. I was told to quit trying to do all these seemingly difficult tasks on just 1 knee and just get surgery already.

You know I am old enough, humble enough and smart enough to know when I am wrong. I dont have to know the reasons, the stars dont align or the micro causes to see the path in front of me.

There are many people, maybe hundreds who read this and say I told you so… and for that you are right if only this time. I thought of all of these people as my right knee started swelling at mile 4. I thought of how foolish I was to be out here chasing down a dream. A dream that would be hard enough with 2 legs much less just 1.. But you know I have always learned through experience.

I do not have the capability in life to just take someones word for it.. I never have. I want to see how I would react, how I would feel and how I would change.

But the truth is that i planned for the explosion. I purposely didnt invite friends, my wife or a crew with me to Javelina Jundred. I have learned long ago with this knee that wasting peoples time dosent help my cause. I have learned that with this knee its best left up to me and myself to win or lose.

usltvBut in my heart as soon as we hit the sandy washout areas of the trail i could feel the instability in my knee almost within the first 2 miles. I have had the displeasure of DNF Grasslands 3 years in a row. once because i broke my foot and the other 2 because of the same soil that wrecked my knee and ripped my flexors to shreds.  This was no different. By mile 7 I was hurting.. Mile 14 i swore i would drop.. And at mile 15 well i was ready to end the day.

I mean I felt so bad that when I saw anyone at the aid stations that worked for Ultrasportslive.tv (as do i) i would ask them how they were doing and how the broadcast was going… as if i was just working that day. It was my way of trying to not talk about the fact that i was hurting so much.

Loop 2 was a death march. I questioned every step, i stopped to stretch and walked it all. The over compensating went from right knee to left flexor, to right flexor to left knee.. As I headed in to the 31 mile mark there was very little doubt that i would move out of there. But Javelina is a party and for some reason I thought i would muster 2 more laps of this..

I headed out for loop 3 with a smile.. it didnt last a mile. Once back out on the trail my hopes for maybe some relief faded fast. My feet started to really ache and my legs became a magma field. I couldnt get up the up hills without hurting and the downhills had me holding pee in from the pain. I remember getting about 3 miles out and seeing the 3 mile sign to take the short cut back in. It was like the DNF road was right there. 3.0 to DNF or 3.2 to mile 40 aid station. I sat down and just took a few minutes to look at the desert for awhile. Watching the beautiful desert sky dance over the cactus. As i pushed to get up my knee gave out on me.. I hobbled up and thought lets go for 40…

And that is why I am hard headed… 37 to 40 miles were the hardest 3 miles of my life. I regretted every step of every one of them. At mile 40 i found the usl crew. I dropped. I found out the next day had i completed the lap and another i would have gotten a 100k buckle. I laughed on the way home thinking that would have been funny to let my ego get that and prove that it was all worth it to somebody.. The truth is that my goal was to get the 100 miler finish and a chance for Western States. The sad part is that both of those goals had about a 1% chance of happening before I ever hit the line. And even if i did get into western states 2015 i could only had imagined the shit show i would have put on the line that day.

But I dont look at Javelina Jundred in a negative light at all. After my DNF i called home to let Rachel know I was done. We talked for a few moments and she said well 40 isnt that bad babe, its the longest you have gone all year… I laughed and thought it is the longest in a race i have gone.. What an ultra runner I have become… I smiled told her I loved her and watched Dominic Grossman rock the PA system like a stand up comedian at an open mic night..

I dont normally name drop in my blogs. A) because I would hate for someone to not be genuine because they think I would say something in my blog B) i dont think its that attractive to drop names all over your blog to seem interesting..

but who cares right.. lets do it.

Javelina Jundred was the best experience i have had all year at a race. I was able to spend a few days with the USL.tv crew as well as Victor B and Myles who arent always with us. We spend the first night at Dennys laughing about trail running, business and just shooting the crap about everything. That lasted the better part of the night and the next day as well.

The beer mile was a blast to cover live and to interview people for usl.tv. I finally got to meet patrick sweeney who is a TROT sponsored athlete this year as he plans to run across the country jan 2015. I was very happy to see so many people giving donations as well to benefit the Tarahumara.

I was most happy to meet and see the Tarahumara Indians in person. They did a ball game demonstration called RARAJIPARI which we were able to capture live as well. Born to Run was the first running book I read and to meet Miguel Lara, Arnulfo was a dream come true for me as a runner.

On race day I had the chance as most do to run with Gordy and Catra. Ken Michal even commented on my nice wobble that i called running haha.

I though really enjoyed despite being in horrid pain cheering on the runners that I knew personally as they looped me OVER and OVER.. Catlow Shipek the eventually winner was flying around and it was really fun to cheer him on as he was always smiling. Miguel Lara who was 2nd i would slap hands with as he ran by me… Micheal Carson who is a super funny guy that I met at Flagstaff I would yell at and at one point i heard this loud I LOVE YOU ROB from behind i was like wtf… ohhh Micheal Carson cruising on by for his eventually 4th place. And then there was the Pixie Ninja Kaci Lickteig swallowing up the boys all day. We said hi along the way and i think right before my 40 mile which was probably her 70 mile we chatted for a minute or so about the experience at JJ100 no matter good or bad..

kaciAs the night fell It was great seeing everyone come in and finish. The awards were really great and it was just fun to sit down and enjoy the party for a minute. I was able to meet and chat with Mark from Ultrasignup which was such a great time to talk and laugh about the current DNF fun.After the front runners were done I had a change to eat the Coury Brothers Pizza which is Called Freak Brothers Pizza. Kaci was waiting as well. We chatted about Nebraska, Her visits to Houston, Mutual Friends and life in general. We met Ed Nusbaum as well as he was sitting across from us. We chatted for what seemed like hours over the BEST PIZZA EVER… eventhough it was like 15 minutes.  As i came back to the starting line I shook Jamil Courys hand. I told him that I though Western States was the most prestigious race I had ever been to but Javelina Jundred was the BEST set up race that I had ever seen.

As i sat back down in my chair with a full belly I had some time to digest the day and the experience.

I have truly never met greater people in life than on the trails. As shitty as my day was it really didnt matter. I was able to spend the weekend with like minded people who live life. Multiple times over the weekend I spoke with people about how trail racing is “real life”… The people that are there working, running, volunteering they all GET IT..

Life happens on those trails when we race. We get to get out there and strip ourselves emotionally and really dive into our own souls. The experience we have no matter good or bad changes us…

I left the next morning one day early to see my wife. This trip was one that was bittersweet to leave and I hurried to get home. Along the 10 hour drive from el paso to houston on monday morning a friend asked me what I do when I drive that long. I told him I think a lot about life and make to do lists.

As I hit the door the hall way is filled with boxes for our next race. The Coury brothers put on the greatest trail show i have ever seen. Its time for me to do my part and put the best race I can for my runners as well.

Time to step in front of the camera

Time to step in front of the camera

This might be the first time in a long time I have posted blogs in consecutive weeks so I am really happy to find the time to do so.

Last week I had the pleasure of having a dream come true by hiring a professional photographer to come and shoot aka follow me around for the week. I have really wanted someone to come and show off the trail running culture that is blooming here in Houston. I also wanted to get some shots of Brazos Bend, some trail racing pictures while we were at Cactus Rose and some personal pics for my wife/family.

Derrick Lytle is an immensely talented photographer/videographer from the west side of the US. I can tell you that I have always had this deep appreciation for photography. I can also tell you that I NEVER thought I could meet someone who spend an equal amount of time on his craft. Derrick flat our wore me out haha. Check his instagram for sick pics and his work.. http://instagram.com/derricklytle

brazos bend state park
brazos bend state park

So Derrick arrived Wednesday morning and without a glimpse he was landed and we were headed to Brazos Bend State Park. We say the park and Derrick was like I want to shoot here in the morning I was like cool the park opens at 8. He was like hmmmm how bout 5am. I immediately learned all about “lighting”. We headed home and took the above picture early that morning as Derrick shot. I wont lie I slept in the car after staying up till 2am doing the dream.

Soon after we spent that Wednesday night shooting the great memorial park with the Houston Area Trail Runners. It was a blast to see my friends get to have pro pictures taken of them. Its like being a celebrity for a few minutes. Thursday we were able to find some time to shoot at TEAM TROT member Cal Neff by our houses since we live so close together. Cal is such a strong runner and has been on the Canadian Mountain Team. He knew great spots and had a great base of understand pictures. We were able to get some truly epic shots of him running in Houston as well.

the goyens
the goyens

Thursday Night My wife and I had Derrick take some personal family photos of us. I realized this was not what Derrick does normally but he made an exception for us and did a photo session. As soon as it was over and we saw a few shots I was HOLY COW this was so amazing. Just today we received some of the shots and we are smiling from ear to ear what a great job he did for us.

We took some pictures thursday and then headed friday to Cactus Rose at Bandera Texas. This is a normal yearly HATR vacation to run the hill country. Derrick spent his time running up and down the mountains chasing runners, getting time lapse and video.

I finally was in my element. I was “hired” by Melinda to crew and pacer her the last loop. As the race was close to start I went and looked at the start. Among the first couple rows were 3 TEAM TROT members. I kind of just stood their and thought how proud I was to see our running series and our new TEAM all dawning singlets. I had mine under the shirt and I was like HELL YES…

Soon after the gun struck and it was time to work. I take crewing VERY seriously and I love it.. As the race moved I did a lot of running, icing down, grabbing gels etc. I also got to see so many familiar faces running the race. It was so much fun to see everyone as I havent really run any races in TExas since March. Like seeing family you havent seen in a while.

As the night started to come Melinda was hurting. I was set to pick her up at 75 but she was hurt at 50. I through on my shorty shorts and ripped off cover shirt. I was ready with my TROT singlet to rock and roll. A few miles down the road I saw Paul T headed our way and it really made me realize we were racing. I have the highest amount of admiration for Paul and seeing him run back towards us got me really excited. As Melinda and I headed out we both knew that there was a problem with Melinda. We kept slogging along and a few times I heard “hey man I loved your race in april” or ” cant wait to race your race in december”.. i was like holy crap this is cool.. I honestly forget that people know who I am or care who I am. I have always been taught that “make it hard to find the general by working like a soldier”… I focus on working hard in my life and anything i get more than a thank you is very special to me.

As our day ended with us dropping at 65 the night was fleeting. I woke up at 10am to the breakfast burrito party outside in the RV. I had missed all the finishers while pacing but was able to hear all the amazing stories. Lots of PRs, new mileage goals hit and cussing at all that sotol. Derrick got some great profile pictures of us all and we headed back to Houston on sunday evening,.

We through a small intimate get together Sunday night at our favorite tex mex spot in houston. It couldnt have gone any better. Just sitting around a table laughing, learning about each other and enjoying great people. The time spend at the table was truly beautiful.

As we headed home Derrick asked if we could shoot downtown in the morning. I was like your flight leaves at 12pm.. He asked be in downtown by daylight.. Remember when I told you that I was tired… Derrick is a BEAST at his craft. I can tell you that I have maybe found my equal in regards to someone that lives his dream 100%. If derrick wasnt taking pics or vids he was editing. When he wasnt editing he was running. When he wasnt running he was sleeping. This guy was a pleasure to see work. So there we are 5am on top of a parking garage looking over Minute Maid Downtown…

As Derrick flew out my nerves flew in. I knew it was only a matter of time before they happened. Watching all of these AMAZING runners at Cactus had me really anxious about Javelina Jundred. Today like the last 2 has been me trying to stay busy.

I have worked for Ultrasportslive.tv for the past i think 6 months. I have seen all these amazing people finish western states, flagstaff sky race, the rut and many others. But I have never been on the other side of that camera. I have never been the one racing in a 100 miler and having everyone watch me.

Most people know I have a funky knee so the other day someone said what about the knee? I said to them quite confidentially well the knee is weak but my mind is strong.

I remember when I was in the middle of the snowdrop race. I was like in 3rd place or something just running and i hit a quick patch of low. I told Jose my problems and my knee was hurting. He told me thats great you have 2 knees keep running. I immediately snapped out of it and got those 106 miles done.

Javelina Jundred has always been my race since I attended Western States this year. It has always been on my mind to get my bid their and the absolute pleasure to go to WS100 at some point in my life.

So tomorrow morning I drive off. Solo Road Tripping to Fountain Hills, Arizona. No crew, no pacer. I will arrive with the USL.tv crew their to film but I wont be working.  This is the last trip for a few months for me and I am focused more than ever.

I draw inspiration for those who inspire me. I have always told people that I am open and honest because I have no choice. At times I love it and at times it bites me in the ass.  But either way its honest.

I witnessed true inspirational efforts at Cactus Rose this past weekend. Julie K, Matt Z, Ace G and my own HATR group including the SOTOL STOMPERS really showed me what the love of the trails is all about. I will think of them and probably many of you when I see the start of the Javelina Jundred on Saturday morning.

You can watch me live at ultrasportslive.tv  interviewing for the beer mile on friday and also on race day running

and you can follow my lap splits on http://www.aravaiparunning.com/ultracast-results/

i am bib 236 and ill be giving it all i have.

rob

 

The most valuable gift is experience

The most valuable gift is experience

I always find myself reading my last blog every time before I write another. As a way to find what I was thinking, feeling and experiencing at that time.

Over the past few months life has really changed for me and us as a family. We are on the go go go all the time and when i see friends I get the ole tell me about your adventures talk. It is always fun to share with people the travels of the world although tiring at times.

Once Rachel came home from Asia we had decided to combine 2 obligations with seeing our best friends in Colorado. We decided on driving to do all of this to save money, enjoy the states and to bring the pups.. Apparently dog sitting is the most lucrative business in the world….

We headed up to Odessa where our son Wesley lives to get a day with him and to see the Odessa College. My great grandfather founded the college and it was a wonderful experience to go and see his pictures and to see him on the wall. For some reason this act of seeing all of this really made me wonder about what it meant to have a servant’s heart.

I dont want to sound all crazy but lets just say I was in a situation of mental clarity. It was like I was figuring out a problem in my mind that was all the sudden clear. I can remember thinking that me seeing him on the wall was a very clear picture to me on how I treat Race Directing.

We had the opportunity to head to Flagstaff and I was working for Ultrasportslive.tv and we covered the Flagstaff Sky Race. It was also my first time being the “on air talent:”.. I relished the opportunity to interview the athletes, the race directors and runners. I love trail racing and I really like having fun with people while we talk about this great sport we participate in. Rachel and I both had the opportunity the next day to race. Rachel did her first trail 5k and I did the Vertical K (of death).. We enjoyed the races and really enjoyed flagstaff. While in flagstaff though we were able to spend time with Josh Pauley and his wife Mary. They invited us over to eat and it was such a kind gesture as we were in town. Josh and I have been friends since he started running back in February around Houston and I have always been a fan of him and his running. We also had a great chance to hang out with much of the USL.tv crew it is always such a pleasure to be in the company of awesome people that you work with.

As we booked out of Flagstaff we got in a late run Sunday evening on the 39k course. We let the dogs off the leash and really relished the opportunity to get back on the mountain a bit more. We long hauled it to Colorado. We spend the next few days loving on the Poole’s. We had not seen them since they moved 5 months back and just being in their home was such a wonderful place. We of course got to see Evan Kees Poole who is our God Son and he was growing up so big.. It was the best 4 days as we literally just hung out and shared the love of the Poole Household.

As fast as we came we shipped back out. The final stop on the adventure road tour was something special. Dave James and I developed a friendship after Rocky Raccoon this year and for some reason I really liked Dave. He came to Brazos Bend 50 and really helped us out and he told me about the Old Glory Coast to Coast back then. As soon as he told me we picked a day in Kansas to get up there and do our part.

I was so elated to see Dave James, Amy and MIKE MORTON that morning… I knew we were short handed but when you have these great runners than your ahead of the ball. It was so amazing to just run down this flat highway, carrying Old Glory and running. The people honking, cheering and giving you the thumbs up… I felt very American that day. I am not a veteran but I was so very proud to be rocking the eagle and running with the flag. It was really special to Rachel and I to get presented a flag afterwards from Dave. We are looking forward to flying it at the Brazos Bend 100..

As we came home life is on warp speed. We arrived back home on a monday and by thursday I was back out the door to Ragnar in the hill country.

As I got there I tried to remained open to the experience of the event. I am always business minded and had a lot on my mind heading up there. But once there I took my post as tractor driver all of thursday night and friday morning. I had a good time being sarcastic, cracking jokes and meeting people. I love messing with people and giving them a hard time along the way.

But I was given a gift at Ragnar. I was given the gift of experience. For some reason weeks leading up to the event I kept telling people I didnt want to run. I dont know how many times on facebook I had written i was open to running and deleting it. But something told me that I need to just sit back and help. To be a servant in this situation. I had some of the best conversations with strangers, friends and new runners that I have ever had at an event.

I took every opportunity to just talk to people about running, race directing and travels. Spending time with my own team the HATR GATORS was so refreshing to me. You have to realize at some point that the conversations you have with people are so meaningful if you are listening.  As I listened, volunteered and coached our team I realized that this was why I didnt ever run. The experience for me of just watching, listening and loving was exactly what I needed.

I left Ragnar and made a pit stop at my moms house. I was really happy just to see my moms and hang out for a bit.  I always enjoy just the great conversations I have with such wonderful, talented and smart women. I am blessed to have such a supportive family with my moms.

I had committed myself to volunteering for the Run the Hill Country Marathon with Brad and Josue. I didnt sleep that night at my moms as I was trying to play catch up on race stuff. I crept out of the house at around 3am and headed to marble falls. As Brad and Josue showed up I found myself in the parking lot setting my alarm every 15 min as I kept dosing off. I ended up waking up and getting my assignment to head to an aid station. Got my swag, some breakfast and off I went.

Upon arriving at the aid station I found a joyous group that immediately started telling jokes and laughing. We had such a fun group and I really enjoyed watching the runners and meeting all of the folks at the aid station that day. I cut out a bit early but honestly i was asleep on my feet.

The clock said 3 hours to the door of my house but with my 6 stops for napping, waking up or just resting it would take longer than expected.  I was pretty worn out from the 4 days of just grinding it out.

As the fog cleared Monday morning I was back on the grind. I drove 2 hours to Beaumont to meet with the Golden Triangle Strutters and run with them. What a fantastic group of runners they have and I was delighted to give away an entry and meet their group. I headed home about 7:30 getting home around 9:30…

Its been a crazy few days but worth every second to me. I have MADE the opportunities to experience some really amazing people lately. I find myself really yearning to hear peoples story, to share mine and connect through our travels.

As I write this its 1:15am and I probably have the craziest schedule for the next 4 weeks. My beautiful bride this morning told me she was concerned for my health as I have been going on little to no sleep and grinding for weeks. I love that she cares about me in that way but I have always been this way. I dont believe in fate as life has show me the only way to be successful is to earn it all.

As I grow as a person and as a race director i see that experience is the most valuable gift than I can receive. From the small conversations, to large group talks to a random text from a stranger.

Experience is wisdom and I happy to be recipient of the gift.

 

 

Leaps of Faith

Leaps of Faith

After getting home from Mount Saint Helens 50k there was this panic among me as I hit the runway. I knew that I had 2 days at home and then back up in the air to Montana. Over the next few days I kept questioning everything that I had planned out. Why was I leaving again? Why am I having surgery? Why did I schedule back to back trips?

Rachel at the time was about 4 weeks on her trip to SE Asia and just getting a text from her or getting to facetime for 10 min meant the world to me. A couple of times I kind of laid it on her with the stress of the house but I quickly realized that I would have to grin and bear the course I was on. I couldnt change that she was so far away and I couldnt but that burden on her either.

As the plane soared me to Montana I began to finish a book called Relentless by Tim Grover. He was the personal coach to Michael Jordan through the years. As I read and finished the book it really gave me the insight that I was looking for with some clarity. I made the decision once again to cancel knee surgery as soon as I got back home. As much as I realize that I need knee surgery I also need to be able to move right now not only for myself but for the business. I have parks to finalize, races to gps and I cant rely on others to do my work.

As we hit Montana I felt clear in my mind. I was working for USL.tv so we all gathered that night at the lodge that we were in. It was very nice and Montana was cold as all get out. That morning I had the chance to run the Vertical K at Big Sky Resort in Montana up Lone peak. So 10k feet in the air, 22 degrees, 3700′ of climbing in 3.2 miles… I could taste blood in my mouth the whole time and all i could hear was me breathing… Holy crap was this an adventure I thought as I was going up. I can say that I have never wished for a finish like this one.

It was an amazing feeling to conquer the Vertical K which was a race that I had been dreaming about doing for years. I think i finished right over mid pack which on 5 days of rest after Volcanik 50k and it being at altitude was fine by me. I spend the rest of the weekend covering the Rut with USL.tv and the last day I spend by myself climbing some mountains in montana.

For the past few weeks life has been dragging on. The days waiting for Rachel to get home have been exhausting. I have been honestly in a good little funk that has just had me moving at a different speed. I never let myself get stagnant but I know when my fire isnt burning all that hot. As the days got closer I kept pressing on. Just pushing to get things done for the race, started to hire my coach again and really just put things back in place.

I call this time auto pilot. Its very much in an ultra when you have a 20-30 mile stretch where nothing is too bad but it just kind of sucks. You are going through the motions but there isnt much emotion. I was right there just pressing on daily. As the time Rachel started to come home the hard work started to pay off.

Over the next 10 days my business has had opportunities and even today.  Some of the opportunities are ones that I created, others are ones that I saw that I couldnt pass up, one is a for childhood obesity awareness and the other was when you treat people right along the way. As my wife flew in and we spent time together I reminded her to stop me from taking on too much more. With our schedule booked till the end of the year I have to start scaling back extra items so that I can hone in on the Brazos Bend 100 and beginning of next year. It is truly hard for me to pass up on anything that I think is worthwhile no matter the cost. I mean its 12am as I write this blog haha.

But these leaps of faith that I am now taking on arent blind. These are leaps that I have to be 100% in to make. From hiring a coach, to signing up for some 100s, to advertising, donating to charities or buying pieces to a business you have to take those leaps but you also have to be willing to fail.

I started a golf ball business when i was 5 years old. Is the truth. Most people at 5 are thinking of kickball or playing with GI Joes. I started by diving in the golf course lake where golfers hit their balls and retrieving them. I went to the pro shop on my bike and saw the prices for balls and then started selling them on the weekends.

My dad was furious that I was in that lake because it was nasty. So with my first weekend I bought a wetsuit. He told me that I couldnt dive in the lake there was a fine. With my 2nd week I set a side a fine fund.

My the 3rd week I was selling golf balls on my parents back yard. I would sit all day sat and all day sunday. As I learned the golfers I also learned what they wanted. I started offering club cleaning on the spot for a bag of clubs.. I started to sort the balls and separate them into different costs as the balls were a better quality. Soon after this I would also leave a cooler with water next my station so that I would get more traffic to and from where i was sitting.

And then I discovered recycling and I would ride all 18 holes sat and sunday after the last golfers every weekend. Once a month my mom would take me to Julius metals in stafford to dump my cans. I would pay my mom gas money to do do and I kept it all in a ledger.

By the time i was 6 years old I can remember making anywhere between 100-400 weekend depending on traffic.  My parents never gave me money after I was 6 years old.. Not for school lunches, not for clothes and not for my first car.

Those things I earned though hard work, determination and leaps of faith. I knew that if I listened to my customers, worked hard and was smart that I would be successful.

I am beyond excited over the next 3 months. The thoughts of spending time with fellow runners, friends and family in the trails will be the finest hours. To launch new ideas, new races and new opportunities for others is what makes race directing for me full circle.

I wanted to become a race director because I wanted to give people what trail racing gave me. It gave me hope, it gave me a sense of pride and it made me feel confident as a person. These attributes have changed my life forever and I wanted people in my city of Houston to get those chances.

So people lately have asked me how to you chase your dream everyday.. The answer is below.

«What would you have to sacrifice to have what you really want? Your social life? Relationships? Credit cards? Free time? Sleep? Now answer this question: What are you willing to sacrifice? If those two lists don’t match up, you don’t want it badly enough.» (relentless Tim Grover)

From Obesity to Ultra Trail Runner.