Thursday, December 1, 2016

Mt Whitney October 2016




Less than 48 hours after finishing the Joshua Tree 100 miler, I found myself hiking to the top of Mount Whitney with my girlfriend Samantha.  I had been looking forward to this trip for awhile.  I love going out in nature and just being outside.  It's nice to have someone in my life that feels the same way.

So... at 4:15am on October 11th 2016, Samantha and I set forth on our journey to the top of Mount Whitney.  Samantha picked this date because her birthday is October 10th, so this was her birthday hike.

I really enjoy going on hikes with Samantha.  It's good to get away from all of the modern day technology that we encounter in our everyday lives.  I enjoy pushing myself and having a companion with me.  It's nice to have someone to enjoy a beautiful sunrise with when you're in the middle of nowhere.  ...and sometimes you're out in the middle of nowhere for so long, you get to see a beautiful sunset as well.


I feel like you really get to know someone when you do very physical challenges with them.  I love going on adventures like this with Samantha. We have had things not go the way we planned, and we haven't gotten into any fights about it.  We have been able to work through any hiccups that come along the way.

We thought that the trip would only take us about 12 hours... but it ended up taking just over 17 hours.  We don't know why we took so long, but we were both pretty happy when we made it to the bottom of the mountain.  I know that I was moving a lot slower than I had planned, and was holding us back on our way down Mount Whitney.

As much as we wanted to finish a little faster than what we had done, I didn't mind being out there for a few extra hours with Samantha.







 I love having Samantha in my life to share these adventures with.  She's someone who seems to be able to take me out of my comfort zone, and she always inspires me to give my all.

I can't wait for our nest adventure together.



until next time...


KEEP RUNNING & EXPLORING!!!!

Ups and Downs

Somewhere between happy,
and total fucking wreck,
Feet sometimes on solid ground,
sometimes at the edge...
-rise against (survive)

Over the last few years I've had my share of depression... at times really bad depression.  It's something that I've learned to deal with.  I honestly can't think of a time in my life where I haven't had to deal with some type of overwhelming depression.  I've spent most of my life bouncing from feeling happy to severely sad a lot... and most of the time having no real idea what brings on the feeling of sadness.

There are times where I feel on top of the world, and times where I feel like everything is falling apart and landing on me.  I've been really stressed out with trying to find a steady full time job over the last 2 years now.  Constantly coming up short, and trying to be positive about it... trying to not let my kids see the look of constant disappointment on my face.  It's hard to go to job interview after job interview and keep coming up short.  It's a kick in the ass when you apply for a job, get an interview, get turned down, and then a week later get an email from that company stating that they are hiring for the exact position that you applied for because you signed up on their website to get an email whenever there is a job opening posted. You start to feel like, "I guess they would rather be short handed instead of hiring me... FUCK, I must really suck."

Sometimes it gets hard to put on a smile and act chipper around my kids, but that's part of being a parent.  I constantly feel like I've let them down.  I've had to rely on a lot of help from my parents over the last 2 years.  I'm almost 40 years old and can't seem to pull my shit together.  I randomly have thoughts of, "Things are going to work out... things are going to turn around..." and then I seem to still be in the same place weeks later.  It gets hard to be positive, but you have to find a way to.  When the low points come you have to remind yourself that it's just a phase and won't last forever.  Life is all about perception...


I walk on wounds
that seldom prove to slow me down
I laugh this constant pain away
so you can't tell

But there it lies under the smiles
it drains me mile after mile
But seldom proves to slow me down
here I go... here I go..
-rise against (hairline fracture)

Yesterday I was feeling really down.  I headed over to Jiu Jitsu class, sat in the parking lot for 10 mins, then drove home.  It sucks when you're feeling so low that you don't even want to do the things you typically enjoy doing.

When I got home my friend Bernard sent me a text asking if we could practice Wednesday afternoon.  I told him that I had just went to class and didn't even make it in the door, and that I was feeling "a little off" and didn't feel like doing jiu jitsu very much.  Bernard and I talked about what was going on with me, and he strongly suggested that we get together and get in a good jiu jitsu training session.

I met up with Bernard in the afternoon.  The gym we train at isn't open until the evening, so it was just the 2 of us getting together to train.  Bernard and I started getting ready to train and right before we hit the mat, our friend Steve walk into the gym (Steve owns the gym we train at and is the black belt we train under... and is also a very good long time friend).  Steve come into the gym and tells us, "I just happened to be driving by and saw your cars parked in front... let's get rollin'!"

Steve, Bernard and I go way back... way back.  They have always been there for me, on and off the mat.  After 30 mins of getting my ass kick by these guys we started going over technique, strategy, and some drills.  The more we practiced the better I started to feel.

Steve and Bernard have always been able to see through my bullshit.  If they ask me how I'm feeling, and I say "I'm doing fine," they know if I'm giving them bullshit.  It's good to have friends that keep you in check, and these guys have always done that.


This grip will loosen
but it never breaks
-rise against (injection)

If there is one thing I have learned from running and jiu jitsu, it is to never give up... no matter how difficult something seems to feel.  A bad situation can be turned around in just an instance.  I've ran 100 mile races where I've felt like crap one second, and then felt amazing the next.  I've had my ass kicked during jiu jitsu matches, and found ways to win with 15 seconds left on the clock.  When you're down it can be hard to get back up.  Sometimes you have to lay down for a little bit and feel sorry for yourself... and that's ok, as long as you remember not to stay down for too long and that you need to get back up.

I'm lucky to have the people I do in my life.  My parents will always have my back, my kids will always motivate me to do better, my sister Christine is always checking up on me and giving me her love and support, and Bernard & Steve will never let me give up.

Then there's Samantha... I can't say enough about her.  She's become my best friend, the person I can confide in, and someone who will listen without judgement.  She came into my life very randomly, when I least expected it.  I'm thankful for everyday that I have her in my life.



until next time...

KEEP RUNNING!!!!

Friday, November 4, 2016

Joshua Tree 100 Miler 10-08-2016



I was looking for a new 100 mile race to run in 2016.  I came across the Joshua Tree 100 miler one day, and decided that I would put it on my list for 2016.  It was just 4 weeks after the Headlands 100 miler, and I felt like that was enough time between races to recover and still run a decent race.

My parents and I headed over to the race on Friday morning so that we could camp out at the Start/Finish area that night.  We got to Joshua Tree around 5:00pm and set up our camp site.  My parents set up their 2 person tent, and I decided I wanted to sleep outside under the start and see the beauty desert sky.

The race started early Saturday morning at 6:00am, and consisted of running 5 miles out to an aid station, and then running 5 miles back to the start/finish area.  We had to do this 10 times to cover 100 miles.  The first 5 miles were at a slight rolling decline, and of course that means that the 5 miles back were at a slight rolling incline back to the start/finish area.  The weather was going to be hot, the trail was 100% exposed, and I wanted to be smart and not burn myself out at the beginning of the race. The weather was about 90-100 degrees during the hotter parts of the day depending on what part of the course you were on.  I was being smart and not running too fast because I figured that I would run harder in the evening once the weather cooled off.

Around mile 60 the sun was down, and I was taking a fast dinner break.  My parents had a hamburger and Dr Pepper waiting for me at the start/finish area... and it was delicious!!  It was nice taking a break from eating gels, and I prefer to eat food during races.

I kept expecting the weather to cool off in the evening, but it didn't.  I'm not sure what the exact temperature was in the evening, but it was warm.  I ran the entire race in my Fleet Feet Racing singlet and I never got cold during the evening portion of the race.

There were parts of the course where the footing was like running on the beach.  Even with wearing debris gaiters I still had to stop every 10 miles to get the dirt out of my shoes.  This was driving me crazy because I hate stopping during races to take off my shoes.

During much of the race I was questioning why I was even out there.  I was starting to feel like maybe I wasn't recovered enough from the Headlands 100 race that I had ran 4 week prior to this race.  My legs were feeling a little heavy, and I had a few battles going through my head.

Even with all the 100 mile races that I have completed, I still have moments of self-doubt at events.  This race wasn't as bad as some others that I've done, but I did have some pretty dark moments that I had to battle back from.  I always walk away from a 100 mile race learning a little bit about myself.  There were many times during this race where I questioned why I even do these events, if I really wanted to be out there running, and if these were even fun anymore.  I have enough experience doing these events that I know these moments will pass, because they always do.  I know that if I keep pushing through the self-doubt and the voices inside my head that say I should pack it up and quit, I can push through and finish.

When all was said and done, I was able to finish the race just under 24 hours.  My finishing time was 23 hours and 40 mins.  This finishing time was good enough to put me in 2nd place overall when I crossed the finish line.  I really wanted to finish a little faster, but in the end I was honestly just happy to finish in under 24 hours.  While a faster finishing time was what I really wanted, a sub 24 hour finish was the main goal, and I was able to walk away with a silver sub 24 hour buckle.

I love running 100 mile races... for some reason.  I appreciate the hard work that goes into finishing this distance.  You can't "fake" a 100 mile race.  There's so much that goes into it... mentally and physically.  I won't have a chance to run another 100 mile race until March of next year (2017) when I run the Barn Burner 24 hour race that is held just outside of my hometown of Fresno.  I plan on trying to break my 100 mile pr of 20 hours and 45 mins at this 24 hour event, and then just running more and more until I it the 24 hour mark.

My next event will be the 2 Cities Marathon in Fresno.  I'm pacing the 4 hour group, like I do every year, and Samantha will be running as well.  This will be her very first marathon and I'm super excited to see how she does.



Until next time...

KEEP RUNNING!!!!



Thursday, September 29, 2016

Headlands 100 Miler 09-10-2016



Before I start off talking about this run, I want to thank my parents for all their love and support, especially over the last 2 years.  When life has gotten crazy and has started spinning out of control, they have always been there for me.  Since I started running these 100 mile events back in 2010, they have seen me run 18 out of the 19 events that I have finished... and countless 50 mile and 50k races.

I need to thank Chris Cupp for coming out to the race for the last 5 years and helping crew and pace me.  He has gotten my through some pretty difficult mental and physical times during this event.

My girlfriend Samantha... You came into my life when I was least expecting to find someone.  You've shown me that you love me when I'm at my lowest, and that you will help me reach my highest.

I also need to thank Saucony for giving me the opportunity to be a part of their ambassador program and for supplying me with shoes and apparel for these events... and a special thanks to Sunny Arada for doing speed workouts on the track with me in the middle of summer here in Fresno.


...And now, I'll start the story of my 7th running or the Headlands 100.



On September 10th I set out on my 7th consecutive running of the Headlands 100 mile ultra marathon.  Back in 2010 this was the very first 100 mile event that I ever ran, and I've been lucky enough to run it every year since that.  It is the one event that I make sure I'm able to run every year.  It is the course and place that I feel most at home when running.  I love every step of this race.


Mile 0-25

At the start of the race I had a goal time in my head.  I've wanted to finish the race in 26 hours for the last few years, and I really wanted to hit that goal this year.  The race started out on a good note.  I saw a few friends at the start line, the weather was nice and cool, and I was feeling mentally and physically good.  I felt like everything was going well and in my head I wanted to finish the first 25 miles loop in 5 hours and 30 mins.  To my surprise I was able to finish the first loop a little ahead of the time I was expecting.  5 hours and 15 mins into the event I was leaving the aid station at mile 25 and starting on my 2nd of 4 loops.


Mile 25-50

It was good starting the 2nd loop off on a positive note.  I was 15 mins ahead of my planned time and I was feeling pretty strong.  I wasn't just feeling physically strong, but I was feeling mentally strong.  I was really focused of the run, the course, and I was feeling very happy out to be out there running.

During this part of the run I still had the 26 hour finishing goal in my head, but I wasn't trying to let it stay in my head too much.  I wanted to hit this goal, but I wasn't 100% positive if it was attainable at this time.  While I was very well under the average pace I needed to be at to finish under 26 hours, it was still early in the race and I knew that as the mileage increased that my pace would slow down.  I knew that when I finished the 2nd loop it would still need to be daylight, and it would still have to be daylight when I hit the mile 54 aid station if I was going to realistically hit a sub 26 hour finish.


Mile 50-75

I left mile 50 with my headlamp, but knew that if I wanted to hit sub 26 hours I needed to be pretty far before I really needed to even use my headlamp.  Every year that I've ran this event I've never made it to mile 54 in the daylight, it's always been dark.  My goal from mile 50-54 was to run as fast as I could and try to hit the Tennessee Valley aid station at mile 54 while it was still daylight.  I have to honestly say that I was surprised when I sowed up at mile 54, and my headlamp was still off.   I had made it to Tennessee Valley... and there was still some daylight out.  This really boosted my confidence, and I left mile 54 in a hurry so I could see how much further I could run in the daylight.

At mile 62 I was able to pick up my first pacer.  While I was running mile 54-62 it felt nice to know that I would soon be running with someone after a long day of running by myself.  I was also having a really good run so far, and I knew that having someone to run with would help me maintain the pace I was running.  It would also give me a nice mental break.  Sometimes it's nice to let someone else set the pace while you just run behind them.

Samantha picked up with me at mile 62 and she paced me up until mile 75.  It was nice having her out there with me.  Samantha did an awesome job pacing me.  She led the way for 13 miles and kept me at the pace I need to be at for a 26 hour finish.  We had a blast running under the Golden Gate Bridge in the middle of the night, and it was nice having her push me to meet my goal.

I figured that if I wanted to finish in under 26 hours I would have to reach mile 75 within 19 hours because I felt like I could run the last 25 miles in 7 hours and that would give me a 26 hour finish.


Mile 75-100

Samantha helped get me through the end of the second loop, and now it was time for Chris to take over for the last loop.  We left mile 75 well under my goal time.  I wanted to arrive at mile 75 within 19 hours of the event, and I was happy to have arrived early with Samantha's help.  Chris and I left mile 75 at 18 hours and 38 mins into the event.  This was awesome... but I was starting to doubt if I would maintain my pace.  I was still worried about falling off of pace and not hitting my goal.

Chris and I were somewhere around mile 80 when I started really thinking that a 26 hour wouldn't happen.  I started talking to him about secondary goals.  I told Chris, "I really don't think a sub 26 hour is going to happen, but as long as it's under 27 hours I'll be happy.  26 hours and 30 mins would be nice... but 26 hours and 45 mins would be fine..."  I had it in my head at this point that I wasn't going to make my goal of finishing in under 26 hours.

In order for me to finish under 26 hours I would have to hit the Muir Beach aid station (mile 92) before sunrise.  Typically I arrive back at Tennessee Valley (mile 88) just after sunrise.  Reaching mile 92 in the dark sounded totally unattainable.

After discussing options with Chris, I told him that I still wanted to run as hard as I could, and that I still felt like I should give a sub 26 hour finish a shot.

Chris and I pushed the pace from the Golden Gate aid station to the Tennessee Valley aid station.  When we showed up to Tennessee Valley I was feeling pretty pumped up.  We come into the aid station and it was still dark... I had beat the sunrise!!!  We left that aid station just as fast as we arrived.

I told Chris, "Let's see how for we can get before the sun comes up."  I was feeling strong and the uphill sections weren't slowing me down very much.  We were making good time and it was still dark, but the sun was slowly starting to come up.  As the sun was rising we could see the mile 92 aid station.

We made a quick stop at the Muir Beach aid station and took off as fast as we could.  I looked at my watch and was surprised to see that I was just a few mins off from where I needed to be for a sub 26 hour finish.  I knew that I had one really hard section from Muir Beach to Tennessee Valley that I usually self-destruct on, but I was making good time, and I was feeling pretty strong.

We came up to Pirates Cove and I looked at the uphill stairs I had ahead of me.  This is the part where I tend to fall apart... but not today.  I attacked the stairs and didn't let up on my pace.  Somewhere on this uphill I has lost Chris.  I got to the top of the uphill and took off.  At mile 94 I looked at my watch and realized that this was going to be the day that I finally broke 26 hours at this race.

I was now running as fast as I could.  I came up to the Tennessee Valley aid station (mile 96) and saw my parents and Samantha waiting for me.  I gave them my hydration pack and took off running with just one of my water bottles.  I didn't need the pack weighing me down for the last 4 miles.  I told them that Chris was right behind me and that I would see them at the finish line.

24 hour and 52 mins into the run I was leaving Tennessee Valley... and I was heading to the finish line.  This was very emotionally overwhelming for me.  I was finally going to meet a goal that I've been wanting for so long.  There were moments during the run where I didn't think it was going to happen, but I kept pushing through anyway.

When I arrived at the finish line I couldn't believe it... 25 hours 44 mins and 32 sec.  I had not only made it well under my goal time, but I had crushed my previous best time on this course (27 hours 28 mins 58 sec) by about by 1 hour and 45 mins.


Until next time...

KEEP RUNNING!!!!








Friday, August 12, 2016

Yosmite 2016






A few weeks ago Samantha and I went with a few friends up to Yosemite to hike Half Dome.  We set out on a late Saturday night so that we could see the sun rise from the top of Half Dome.

During our adventure on the trail we were getting more and more excited about getting to the top of Half dome.  With about 3 miles left we accidentally took a right turn on the trail instead of a left while we were hiking in the dark.  We started second guessing our direction, but kept hiking.  After awhile it was very apparent that we were traveling on the wrong trail.  We could see Half Dome, but it wasn't in the direction we were heading.

We decided at that point to just keep seeing where the trail went.  We got to the top of the trail we were hiking, and I could see that Samantha was pretty upset that we were in the wrong spot.  At this point our group had split up... Samantha, her coworker Dave, and I were hiking together with Dave hiking a little bit behind us.  Samantha and I started to wonder once we got to the top of the trail, at what time Dave probably figured out we were on the wrong tail, and headed back to find it.

Samantha and I sat down to take a break and get something to eat.  We were in the wrong spot, but we saw an amazing sunrise together.  I told her, "I don't care that we got a little lost, I'm just glad that I'm out here getting lost with you."

As we sat there looking at where we were, looking at Half Dome and the sunrise, we heard someone coming up the trail... it was Dave.

When we saw Dave I started laughing.  Samantha and I pointed at Half Dome and yelled we're in the wrong spot.  Dave was pretty confused.  He got closer and I told him, "We should have taken a left down there, 2.5 miles ago."

At this point I think Samantha and I were fine with not getting to the top of Half Dome and just hiking back to the car, but Dave really wanted to get to the top of Half Dome.  So, we decided to head back down and go up to Half Dome.

I remember when we finally made it to the base of Half Dome.  We were making our way up the cables and the incline was getting a little difficult for me to handle.  I have a slight fear of heights, and figured that this wasn't going to be easy for me.  At one point my feet started slipping on our way up the cables and I was ready to turn around.  We were about 3/4 of the way from the top.  I called out to Samantha, "I think I'm going to head down.  I think I'm done."  Samantha looked at me and basically told me, "I'll see you at the top.  You better keep going!!"

At this point I felt like Samantha's faith in my ability was overpowering my fear of what was going on at that moment.  I realized at that moment, Samantha wasn't the type of person that would let me fail.  When we made it up to the top of Half Dome I was happy to finally be done with this part of the hike.



We went off trail for a little bit, we were super tired, but we eventually got to the top of Half Dome.  It wasn't an easy journey, but it was our journey.




Until next time...

KEEP RUNNING!!!!












Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Dirty Dozen 07-09-2016





On July 9th, 2016 I ran the Dirty Dozen 12 Hour Race at Point Pinole Regional Park.  This was my 3rd time in 4 years running this race.

The race is a loop course.  For the first 11 hours you run around a 3.37 miles loop, and for the last  hour they open up a .76 mile loop to insure that all your mileage is counted for the entire 24 hours.

This year my parents went to the race with me (like always) and so did my girlfriend Samantha.  While I was running Samantha hung out and gave me whatever supplies I needed... water, sports drinks, food, etc.  Not only did Samantha help me out during my race, but she was also there to run as well.  Samantha ran 2 separate 10k races while I was running my 12 hour race.  One of her races started at 10:30am and the other started at 4:00pm.

My goal was to run over 65 miles at this event, but I fell short of my goal and only finished 58.49 miles at the end of the day.


I did a lot of things wrong at this event.

The first thing I did wrong was wearing a new race vest and not testing it our prior to the event.  I played with the straps a little, and I thought I had it fitting pretty well... but I never took it on a run before the race.  I ended up ditching my Nathan race vest about 3 hours into the event and just using a handheld bottle instead.  I had plenty of opportunity to run with the vest before the race, but for some reason I didn't.  Over the last couple weeks I have taken the vest out on a couple runs and made the proper adjustments to the straps, and now I'm confident that it will fit really nice at The Headlands 100 this September.

My other mistake was something that I easily overlooked.  I never do my really hard training runs with music, and I've ran my best times without music.  I like being in the moment and paying attention to my run and not having outside distractions when I'm trying to hit a PR, or if I'm just trying to put out a difficult effort during a run.  For some reason I decided that I would listen to music during this race and I honestly feel like this was the worst decision I made the entire race.  After realizing how far behind I was on hitting my goal about 8 hours into the event I decided to run without music, and that seemed to help me gain a little bit on the ground I had lost during the race.

I've found that I really need to focus on running if I want to run well.  Music at times is nice to have, but most of the time it becomes a distraction for me.  I tend to perform better the more I can become focused on my stride, my breathing, and my run in general.  Once I ditched my mp3 player I defiantly felt like I started running better... I just wish I did it sooner.


I have the Headlands 100 coming up on September 10-11, and I feel like I will be ready to run a good race that weekend.  I am a little concerned about the fact that I have never gone this long in between 100 mile events.  My last 100 miler was the Headlands 100 last year (2015).  Ever since my first 100 miler back in 2010, I've never had more than 6 months between 100 mile events.

My hard training for the Headlands 100 will actually start today, right after I take my kids to the all you can eat pizza buffet at Round Table Pizza.  I'm looking forward to the next 6 weeks of training and pushing myself to get ready for the next event.


until next time...

KEEP RUNNING!!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

4th of July Race (2016)

On July 4th I ran a 4 mile race that was put on by my local running club Sierra Challenge Express.  It's a fun 4 mile race that they hold every year at Woodward Park.

Last year I finished in 26min 30 secs, and I really wanted to run faster this year.  In preparation for the Dirty Dozen 12 hour race that I had coming up a few days after this race (The Dirty Dozen was on July 9th), I started hitting the track with my friend Sunny a few times a week.  The two of us would run 400 meter repeats in the nice 100 degree (usually warmer) Fresno heat.  I was starting to slowly get comfortable running fast again.

On the day of the race my girlfriend Samantha and I got to the park with enough time to relax a little bit before the race and warm up.  I was excited to see how fast I could run at the race.  The course is relatively flat, with just a couple hills in it.  I hit the first mile way too fast (6min 06secs).  I started to ease back on my pace and relax.  I knew a couple miles into the race that there would be a hill coming up, and I didn't want to be burned out by the time I got to it, so I slowed down just enough so I would have some energy for the last part of the race.

Samantha & I after the race.
I ended up being smart during this race. I did not get caught up with beating the person in front of me, but I was more focused on beating last years time instead.  I stuck to my game plan and didn't let my ego get in the way.  Doing this allowed to run more relaxed and I finished the race this year in 25 min 24 secs.  This was 1 min and 6 secs faster that last year.

I felt pretty good at the end of the race.  All the speed work on the track and being patient during the race had paid off.  I finished 12th overall and 3rd in my age group (30-39 years old).

I took a lot of time off from running the shorter local races when I started running ultras, but right now I'm having fun jumping back into the local races and trying to run fast again.  There's a 5k coming up soon that I might jump into so I can try to beat my old 5k personal best time.  I feel like my speed is slowly coming back, and I want to see what I can do.


Until next time...

KEEP RUNNING!!!!

Hanging out with Sunny & Jason after the race
Sunny designs running shirts and jewelry.  You can check out her stuff at http://www.endureshop.com/