Saturday, April 19, 2014

Running in the Center of the Universe Podcast Interview (Javelina Jundred)

I recently had the honor of being a guest on the “Running in the Center of the Universe” Podcast.  The show is hosted by Ashland Dave.  I have been listening to the show close to 3 years now.  What draws me to the show is how real and down to earth Dave is.  I like his running stories and perspective on life.  I think he is a straight shooter and shares the same love I have for running.

I have emailed the show several times to comment and share my opinion on various topics.  When I mentioned to Dave I had completed the Javelina Jundred (JJ100) I was asked if I would like to be a guest on the show.  I did not hesitate to say yes.  After a few months the interview took place on Wednesday April 16, 2014.  Here is the link.  Running in the Center of Universe Podcast

I will be honest, I was nervous; it was my first Podcast interview.  It was exciting to re-live the JJ100, which was my first and only 100 mile race/run to date.  Reflecting on it really made me think about how running has shaped my life the past 4 years.  It has become a part of my everyday life.

I am 7 days away from toeing the line at the Zane Grey 50mi miler in Payson Arizona.  I am beyond excited and nervous.  I like the idea that I am so nervous.  I think it is important to continue challenging myself.  I don't update this blog as much as used too.  Life has been super busy juggling family, work, and running.

Thanks again Dave. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Elephant Mountain 50k, 7 Miles short...

It was only 7 more miles to finish, but I decided to drop at 24.  To be honest I was hurting , both knees were screaming, and my heart was not in it.  This was my fourth ultra DNF.  
 Those that know me well can attest to how sensitive and emotional a person I am.  My running reflects that. I made a rookie mistake at the Coldwater Rumble 50k at the end of January.  I will call it my zero drop flop.  I went from Hoka shoes to a zero drop Altra shoe. For those not familiar I will describe it as going from platform shoes to flats. I love the Altra's, but instead of the slow transition, the shoes went straight from the box to my feet and on the trail for a 50k. I paid for it greatly.  I have been sidelined with and injured foot.  
Enough wining.  I wanted to run Elephant Mountain since it's inception. I signed up Tuesday, the last day online registration was possible.  It all felt backwards for me.  
But I will say this.  What a wonderful course and trail race. Yes there are tons of rocks, but there are also lots of areas where you can run and make up time from the short and gradual climbs.  The elevation charts made me more cautious then I needed to be early. But with the few weeks of little to no training I was grateful that there was no hands on knees climbing. 
This was a great race, trail run.  
I have no regret for dropping.  I was physically and mentally not ready.  It was a great training run with friends.  In the future I hope to return and finish this course.  Out of respect for the trail and for Aravaipa!  
Now and again we all need a good butt kicking to refocus!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Javelina Jundred (JJ100) 2013 Mcdowell Mountain, AZ


Going into JJ100 I knew I'd be facing my biggest running challenge to date. This meant that I needed to approach this run with the right mind set, be patient and run smart in order to finish. This is an epic event that more then lives up to its myth. When I lined up on Saturday morning, October 26th 2013, I did my best to calm my nerves and reminded myself to have fun and enjoy the adventure.

At the start of the race I positioned my self mid pack as the plan was to start off slow and be conservative. In training I had run the 15 mile Pemberton Trail loop and knew from experience and reading blogs/advice on face book, it was easy to go out fast. I did not want to blow up early.

During the early miles of the first loop I was over thinking things which caused some unneeded anxiety. So it felt good when I finally got into a rhythm. Beyond the mid point of my first lap I saw the front runners on their second loop pushing the pace. I did not spend much time at head quarters, the start/finish line, after my first loop and continued out on my second loop with the same strategy, of running flats and hiking the little hills.

Out on Lap 2
Towards the end of the second loop I could already feel the heat affecting me.
As I entered head quarters I was happily greeted, not only my family and crew, but by an Otter Pop. It was the best Otter Pop ever! I was feeling good and keeping on tract with my pace and nutrition plan. I was eating bean and avocado burritos and water melon at the aid stations; that seemed to work for me. I said goodbye to my crew as well as my wife and 6 year old daughter and headed out for loop 3.
As I passed runners I could see the look of fatigue and discomfort in many people’s eyes. I knew the afternoon heat would make my 3rd loop challenging. I was wearing a waist belt that held one water bottle and I carried another water bottle in my hand. I begin pouring water over my head every so often to keep cool but it did not seem to be enough.
I was grateful for conversation with any and all runners. I checked on the welfare of a few runners I seen hurled over dry heaving. I even seen a few who lay under bushes seeking any shade they could find. The heat was really taking its toll. After the race I read some reports saying the temperatures ranged from 102-106 degrees. I continued to push on, knowing the next aid station was close, judging by the sound of ice sloshing around in runner’s water bottles.

When I got to the Jackass Junction Aid station for my 3rd time, I cringed at the site of most everything on the table. I grabbed some watermelon and orange slices, which I projectile vomited not many steps outside of the aid station. I felt sick. I took turns walking and running. I pretty much ran until I dry heaved; then walked until the nausea subsided and repeated this process. I could taste the stomach acid in my throat.

A few miles from headquarters, I sent word to my pacer, Brian, letting him know Id be in soon. At this point I was a little over an hour off my goal pace. I changed socks, shoes, and my shirt before heading out for lap 4. It was a relief to have someone running with me, not only for the company, but to help keep me motivated. The sun was setting and I knew the night would bring its own challenges.

Running by headlamp I felt hypnotized by the shadows. People have asked me what I thought about. My mind drifted a lot and I really can’t recall actual thoughts besides not wanting to throw up and wanting to know what time it was. Now and again I'd look at my watch and crunch numbers; I begin to fear I would not make the 30 hour cut off. Brian kept me moving and reiterated that I needed to stop thinking of the finish and start taking the race on one aid station at a time. He was right.

Brian and I after Lap 4

I got a pleasant surprise at the finish of lap four. My sister and brother-in-law had shown up to show their support. It really meant a lot to me. My crew, as well as my sister and brother-in-law, poured words of encouragement over me; it gave me a moral boost. Giles who was set to pace me for lap five worked out the numbers and said "we are going to chase that cut off and find a way to help you finish under 30 hours." That's when I made up my mind to continue on until I absolutely could not move or was pulled from the course. We would do all we could to complete lap 5 by 5:30 a.m. or my race was over.

I have what feels like flash backs from lap 5 (Running, walking, puking, chicken soup, ginger ale, coca cola, and overwhelming sleepiness.) I just remember wanting to sleep. I was told the next morning that Giles played mind games with me to keep me going; from promises of rest breaks, which I would forget about, to a ten minute aid station break that I was promised would be twenty. I am grateful for this.

Hope was alive again as we approached the head quarters completing lap 5. I was 1 hour and half ahead of the cut off time. Brian and David, who both were asleep and not expecting me until around 5am at the earliest were shocked. Brian asked if I would give him a few minutes to get ready to pace me for loop 6. I did not object knowing I could sit and rest a bit as he got ready. We left for lap 6, satisfied at the fact we had made up some time, and I now had a really good chance to finish the race. 

We arrived at the Jackass Junction Aid Station just before sunrise. The volunteers encouraged the runners and reminded us we did not have far to go. I was at 83.2 miles; prior to this my longest run was 40 miles. The sun was coming up I begin to feel a sense of relief and energy. Brian and I ran and talked. I was getting excited and could not wrap my mind around what was happening. It was as if months of training had all flashed before my eyes.

At Sunrise
When I entered headquarters for the 6th time I was delighted and thrilled to have only 9.1 miles left. Giles and I jetted out of the headquarters, adrenaline fueled; we knocked out two 11 or so minute miles. That's when my energy level dropped and the last 7 miles were painful. I am not sure how many times I asked Giles how many miles until the finish.
Not until a quarter of a mile to the finish did the energy begin to flow back into my mind and body. On the paved road we had to cross before the last stretch to the finish line, Hal Koerner race Champion, was talking to a runner. As the runner left and Giles and I crossed the road, Hal called out to Giles, and asked if he would please catch the runner he had been talking to a give him a six pack of beer he had pulled out the trunk of his car

The runner turned out to JB Benna of Journey Films. As payment for delivery, Hal told Giles he could keep a beer for himself. I could not help myself and reached out and grabbed one. I congratulated Hal on his win and he wished me congrats on my first 100 mile finish. Hal is a runner I look up to very much in this sport. I was delighted to meet him as well as JB Benna. Both great guys. (JB Benna was running JJ100 just 2 weeks after covering 175 miles on the Lake Tahoe Rim Trail)

I finished my 1st 100 miler in 28 hours 51 minutes and 54 seconds.

It was a magical moment. The race was very much dream like. I know that if it wasn't for my crew none of this would have been possible. They poured words of encouragement into me, and believed in me! They helped make my dream come true! This victory is as much theirs as it is mine. 
Much respect to Giles Widener, Brian Soto, and David Collier!
And a special shout out to Tim Widener. He was very much a part of this journey and I know if it was possible he would have been there.
One last Thank You to my wife, Liz for putting up with my training and always encouraging me to follow my dreams.

David, Me, and Giles

Brian, Me, and Giles before the last Lap, I put my shirt on Backwards

The Finish

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Adrenaline Night Run 65k (Insomniac Series)

It was a little after 5am Sunday morning June 9th when I pulled into my drive way.  I had been awake nearly 23 hours, 8 hours of that was spent running in the pitch dark of night, dodging spiders, snakes, and other creatures while enduring the Arizona heat.  It was an incredible and thrilling adventure.  Glowing from the experience, I wanted badly to spill my guts to someone, anyone, but everyone I knew was asleep.  I thought about hitting up twitter or facebook but said Nah.  I wanted to take a shower.

The race took place at McDowell Mountain Regional Park in Fountain Hills Arizona. It was HOT.  So uncomfortable, crawl out of your skin, shoot yourself hot.  The energy at the starting line was electric, with so many like minded people in their element; it is very contagious and hard not to be in the moment.  I was finally able to relax, as best you can before running 40 miles, since I had been very stressed for a few days.  I knew the basics; 40 miles, (5) 8 mile loop, aid every four miles, drink plenty of water, and make sure your head lamp has batteries.

I started of the race in 6th place just behind the leaders.  What the heck was I doing?  The pace seemed manageable but after three-quarters of a mile, I backed off a bit and settled into 9th place.  So many things raced through my mind.  I needed a game plan, I needed more water, Shit. A mile from the aid station and already needing water was not a good thing. The sun was nearly down, but I knew id still be battling the heat for hours. 

I was so happy to see Ice, not just ice water, but ice at the aid station.  It was a relief.  I poured it on my head and took a long drink as I quickly left the South Ridge. The course seemed to be run able with the exception of a few problem areas that I would need to carefully navigate through later on in the dark. 

The first two loops were the hardest.  It was just so hot.  I don’t usually run shirtless. But I finally decided to take off my top.  It helped.  Being self conscience I put my top on just before the start/finish aid station each loop knowing that’s were the race photos were being taking.  You can laugh; I am just not that comfortable.  

After finishing my second loop I was feeling a bit dizzy, my stomach hurt, and I was so nauseas.  I stopped at my drop bag and grabbed a second water bottle and a Red Bull.  As my water bottles were being filled I drank a few cups of ginger ale, forced down a few ginger snacks and took some electrolyte pills.  I was embarrassed as big drops of sweat hit the table and ground.  As far as I know, none of my sweat contaminated the food on the table, but no promises.

I left for loop three with a lump in my throat.  I dry heaved a few times and was actually hoping I could puke.  I once again took off my shirt, poured water all over myself; it felt so good.  I decided to walk and drink my Red Bull.  I was exhausted and had been awake now 16 hours.  So many things were racing through my mind at this point.  I turned off my head lamp just to see how dark it was.  Wow, it was kind of scary.  That’s when I told myself, “this is an adventure, have fun, do this for you.”

One thing I thought was really cool, at certain parts on the course; you could see both aid stations.  Also, if you looked around you could see the head lamps of the other runners.  Man it was dark and I was alone a lot on the course.  Now and again I would come across runners from the 26k and 13k races. I had not seen anyone from the 65k since leaving for my second loop.  I estimated that I was in 6th or 7th place and needed to keep moving. 

Before leaving for my 4th loop, I grabbed a second Red Bull.  This time instead of walking I jogged and sipped on it.  My stomach was still not felling well and I did my best to fight through it.  When I got to the South Ridge aid station for my fourth time, I immediately let them know that they would be seeing me one more time.  With 12 miles left to complete the 40 miles, my confidence and moral was on the up and up.

As my bottles were being filled I asked about Cristain Rios, a talented young runner, who had been dominating the race from the start. Come to find out he was about 10 minutes behind me.  Holy crap, I did not want to be lapped.  Before leaving, I was also told I was in 4th place. This jarred my mind and I took off in pursuit of 3rd place.  If the aid station worker was right, he had a 15 minute lead on me. 

I started my last loop, excited, and repeated out loud a few times “40 miles.”  I was going to complete my first 40 mile race, the longest distance I had ever run.  That’s when I heard the cheers.  Cristain had finished/won and damn near lapped me.  I pressed on with the thought of catching the 3rd place guy.   The last few miles flew by, it had cooled down slightly, but I was still drenching my self with water.

About a mile and half from the finish line, I seen the guy I had been chasing.  He saw me too.  It was hard to judge how far ahead he was, but when we made eye contact, it was on.  He picked up his pace and so did I.  It was a rush to be racing. I wanted so bad to over take him and pushed my tired body as hard as I could.  Then it happened, I slipped in the sand as I crossed through a wash.  I regained my balance and adjusted my head lamp. Damn it. 

I started to hike, I was bummed, but then I thought man you are about to complete 40 miles. I ran the rest of the way and crossed the finish line in complete relief.  I was exhausted and numb.  I sat down after a few high fives.  Per the preliminary results, I was 7th place and not 4th.  I am more then positive the aid station guy did not intend to mislead me, and to be honest, chasing that spot gave me the energy I needed to finish strong.  

I was completely satisfied and happy to find out the next morning I actually finished in 6th place overall.  40 miles: 7hrs 51 min and 13 sec.  It was such a great experience and has made me fall even more in love with ultra trail running.  Thanks again to Aravaipa Running!

Before it got dark
competitive loop

beer at 7:30 am and shirt

kid got me with water gun



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Summer Time training.... JJ100

Summer time in Phoenix, AZ brings on the dreaded oven scorching temperatures that can kill most outdoor enthusiasts training mojo.  I do my best to tolerate it, knowing it will make me stronger, but it never gets easy. Driving to the trail head without the AC on, trying to and acclimatize, then being careful to not blast it too soon after the run is a common routine. Two years ago I trained for my first ultra over the summer months.  I had no clue what I was doing and it nearly destroyed me as I suffered the last 13 miles to finish that first 50k.  After that I vowed to train harder and smarter.

Training harder and smarter came to a halting stop as I entered my first 50 mile race (that next summer) prematurely, Aravaipa’s Flagstaff 50 Endurance Run.  Two months was not enough time and my legs ached with every training run as broke most every training rule and upped my mileage way too fastThat Race/Run was a very humbling experience.  I cried after that eventit cut me deep.F50 

As I write this, summer is at my door stepreminding me that I have registered for the Javelina Jundred (JJ100) in October.  101.4 miles Holy Sh%t!  My training plan is laidout and I am confident 24 weeks will be enough time to train and focus.  I don’t want to be the poster child for how not to do things, and should probably complete a 50 mile race first, but I do want to follow my heart and the urge to push myself to the edge.  I wanted to run Zane Grey so bad this year, but life happens, and I see it as donating my race entry for a good cause.

My calendar for the next 5 months, instead of being filled with birthdays and family events, is filled with race dates and training runs/trips.  I am so excited at all the new friends I have made in the running community.  I am also excited at all the new adventures I have discovered.  But I also have to humble myself and remember to never neglect my baby girls, my wife, and family.  Ultra running can be a very selfish sport.

So what’s the plan?

I have a few races on my calendar, a trip to Havasupai Falls, family vacation, swimming with the kids, and of course tons of training runs. Consistency will be the key.

A few of the races I hope to do in preparation for JJ100

Adrenaline Night run 65k (40.3mi) June 8th (Registered)
Arizona Road Racers 4th of July Run July 4th
King of the Peaks, Flagstaff 32 miles July 27th  
Flagstaff Endurance Runs 50K September 14th
Noble Canyon 50k, San Diego   September 21st

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Whiskey Row Marathon 2013.. I am tough enough.

On Friday May 3rd my wife and I left Phoenix, AZ and headed to Prescott,AZ.  We left at 8:33 pm and figured it would take us about an hour and half to get there.  Traveling the night before a marathon is not ideal, but I didn't want to miss the Father/Daughter Spaghetti Dinner at my daughter’s school.  Sofia (5yrs old) and I had a wonderful date.

Many things have changed in Prescott/Prescott Valley since I begin visiting each summer 25 years ago. I pointed out many of the changes to my wife as we entered town. After locating our hotel, The Best Western Prescottonian, we cruised 1.1 miles down Gurley Street to historic downtown. 

The Court House square is surrounded by saloons, a hotel, bank, and novelty shops.  I joked with my wife that we should have a drink, but it was late and we needed to get some sleep. As I waited at a red light, I snapped a picture of the St. Michael’s Hotel sign, and reminded my wife, “This is where packet pick up will be in the morning.” 

The next morning I was surprised to find out that packet pick up had moved from St. Michael’s hotel to Matt’s Saloon.  With 6am marathon start and it being chilly outside the saloon offered protection from the cold.  I think it was a great bib pick up/registration/pre race staging area.

This was my third year at the Whiskey Row event and 2nd year in row running the marathon and my wife ran the 10k. We dedicated our runs to my father-in-law “James Luque” who passed away on April 21, 2013.  He was a very hard working and loving man, I miss him very much.

With About 5 minutes until the start of the race, I took my place at the starting line where I got a glimpse of a ply wood wall covering the remnants of the Bird Cage Saloon, Pearls Café, and the Prescott Food Store which had burnt down just days after the marathon last year.

After a moment of silence for the Boston Marathon victims and a few words from the Race Director, we were off.  At about the 4 mile mark the marathon and half marathon course split from the 10k course and head up hill on Copper Basin road.  I love the sense of community, not only from the on-lookers (walking there dogs, or sitting on their porches), but also amongst the runners as well.  There is a bit of pride associated with how tough/satisfying this race is. 

I have to give a shout out to the “the banana guy. “ Anyone one who ran or has run the half and full marathon know who I am talking about.  I heard that in previous years he has handed out hot dogs and even beer.  The aid stations for this run are perfectly located.

I kept a very steady pace and was feeling strong.  After the last climb I was ready for the last 9 miles, which is a net down hill; and this down hill is brutal as it pounds your legs and body. I did my best to keep good running form.

This year the finish line was moved onto the court house square where you run on a sidewalk lined by people cheering for you as you meet the finish line, which I loved, instead of finishing on the street.  My wife was at the finish line and snapped a few pictures of me; the tree line in the back ground was an awesome backdrop. 

This year I had a 16 minute course PR and finished 21st out of 137.  Finish time 3:51:03.    

I love running.  I miss my father in law very much. Sometimes we really do have to live like there is no tomorrow.

Marathon Starting line
Happy at the Finish.  
the wife and I enjoying the moment..  Happy Anniversary ;0)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

In memory of James Luque

“I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze. But I think maybe it's both. Maybe both are happening at the sametime.”
Forrest Gump 1994 Tom Hanks

I'd like to make a tribute to man who played a big role in my life the last few years, my father-in-law, James Luque. March 11, 1940 to April 21, 2013.  RIP  Obituary

James (Jimmy, Jaime, pops) was hard working man and no carpentry project was to big for him. He built houses from the ground up and was an expert of everythingin in-between. He was there whenever I needed him.
He loved his family very much, and used to fill up his digital photo card so often, taking pictures of them. I was always backing up his photos and clearing his memory card for him. I loved it when he would get this fire in his eyes and this contagious smirk when he got an idea or was excited. I loved watching football with him, especially the Arizona Cardinals, a team we both love.

My kids will miss their grandpa, my wife will miss her father, and I will miss one of the most stand-up men I have ever met.
One running story he told me….  When he was in Vietnam, one morning he decided to go for a run on the beach.  Without realizing it he ran past the safety zone and was startled when he heard a single gunshot as a bullet whistled near him. (Warningshot?)  He said he turned and ran back to the base as fast as he could.  After that day he made sure to not go outside the boundries when he ran on the beach.  He said Vietnam was beautiful, besides the war.

I love you, and miss you Mr. Luque.

I will not be running Zane Grey 50 Mile Endurance run this weekend as we will be burying my father-in-law. 
I will be there next year!
I have decided to run the Whiskey Row Marathon in his honor on May 4th, 2013.  Marathon

Good luck to all the runners at Zane Grey. I will be there in spirit.
In the words of Caballo Blanco "Run Free"



Me and Pops in Greer, AZ and On my wedding day to his beautiful Daughter.

50th Weeding Anniversay Picture.  They would be celebrating this Saturday 4/27/13 ;0(

Bella and Tata