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..

kaci

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.

brazos bend state park

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

 

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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.

 

 

robvertk

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)

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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…

From Obesity to Ultra Trail Runner.