2015 FatDog 120

A “few” months ago a few of us texans decided to register for FatDog 120. Little did we know that this would turn out to be a trip of a lifetime. The race organization was beyond my expectations, from communication, race logistics, down to the core of the race: the volunteers. The race traverses 120 miles and goes up a few mountains in between in the Cascade Mountains of British Columbia, Canada. We signed up so early that the build up to the race was a little too much. But now, it is done and most importantly we had fun. I unofficially completed the race in 44:27:31 and I regret not one moment.

Race details

The race is split up into 6 different legs and it spans multiple distances. From 120 to 30 miles, the race is executed beautifully. The 120 milers start on Friday at 10 am, and the shorter distances start early Saturday. The race manual has turn by turn directions and it is really hard for anyone to get lost during the race, even after a few warnings from volunteers that sections were confusing, I found the course to be incredibly well marked. Aid stations are fully stocked, some of them seem like full on buffet. We were definitely spoiled.

Just a few climbs

Elevation profile, just a few climbs

Imported garmin gpx from the fat dog site: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/activity/818628890

Now the fun stuff, the race is logistically divided into 6 legs, because not only does the race have a 120 mile distance, it also has a relay option and several shorter distances. The legs are distributed almost evenly and as follows:

Leg 1

Started straight up, with a conga line for about 20 minutes or more, can’t really tell as I only used a watch to tell time and not really to keep track of splits. A good amount of climbing in the first section. Started hiking with Ben and promptly realized that I would not be able to maintain a fast pace but was glad that we were in the middle of the pack when we started. This first section would be the best view of the race since the second and third stages would be mostly in rainy and foggy conditions.

Still smiling, must be having fun

Still smiling, must be having fun



Ran this first section just fine, I met Lise at the tail end of it and we ended up running through mile 80 together. The first aid station came sooner than expected. I saw Lety and the kids here, which was a nice energy boost. Refilled water, drank half a liter of coke (thanks Jorge!), grabbed what was in my drop bags and headed out with Lise again.

Leg 2

This stage is make or break, in my opinion. Turns out this year it had been pretty dry and we apparently had brought rain and some of other fun stuff, like howling wind, hail, lighting and falling trees. This stage started with our second climb of the day, I was climbing okay here but this is definitely not my strongest skill. Turns out stubbornness is, see leg 6.

Upon leaving the aid station sprinkles, turned into rain, rain turned into hail and lighting. The rain however, was the boost of energy I needed to get my legs going again. Ran with a couple of runners who seemed to think that we were going to die that day from electrocution, it turned out we didn’t. We kept counting the number of seconds between lightning strikes (Read here to find out how far a lighting storm is), at some point that count was less than a mile away. Before the Trapper aid station we heard a tree fall and didn’t make a big deal of it. Turned out that a runner in front of us, almost got whacked by that tree. I had lost Lise going up this climb but caught up when we arrived to Trapper aid station. After the aid station, we went through pretty hard rain and a good amount of hail.

The rain would continue for approximately the next 24 hrs. There were only brief moments of time where it slowed down but I don’t think it ever stopped. Unfortunately for me, my rain jacket was waiting at the Bonnevier aid station and it’d be a while before we arrived there. The wind jacket only holds off the water briefly, after that I was soaking wet. The climb to the summit of this mountain was met with howling wind and lighting over an exposed section with no place to hide from lightning, only thing left to do was move forward. At this point I was shivering and probably close to being hypothermic, I needed to advance, the descent was near. The descent on this section was fun, the trail twisted and turned going down hill the rest of the way.

Before reaching Bonnevier aid station, we crossed the river which was knee high, it was only slightly strong but it required some rope coordination. On the other end of the river an aid station awaited, nothing to do here but grab our night vest and get ready to head to Bonnevier but not before running next to the highway for 2 km stretch. 

Leg 3

At Bonnevier, Lise and I agreed we’d take 20 minutes to regroup and warm up. We ate here to get some calories in before our next climb(s). Put on some warm layers, I kept my shorts instead of putting my tights here. Feet had been soaked for the last 8+ hours, so I was glad I had put dry socks here.

Like the last three sections this one started with a climb that immediately got our feet wet again since the precious single track trail was thick, overgrown and wet. The trail zigs zags going up hill, which is better than straight up I guess. We went up two mountains in this section, which covered around 12 miles. This section was pretty uneventful until we got close to Heather where the hardcore volunteers were battling the weather as much as we had the last few hours. The wind was expected at this aid station but I don’t think the volunteers were expecting the storm that had flown by earlier. Here I put on my tights for an additional warm layer, I was relievedabout that mandatory gear list they had emphasized the last few weeks. At this point I had a warm long sleeve shirt, my rain jacket and wind jacket on, pretty perfect combination. After refilling my flasks, eating a quesadilla and a brownie, we continued running through the rain in the night. 

Leg 4

We descended to Nicomen lake, but we could only see the edge, since the fog was covering much of it. The aid station was a small hut serving warm food. We had our picture taken here, I remember because the photographer kept telling me to move backwards even though I only wanted to move forward 🙂 The descent was pretty uneventful but it went on forever, ok maybe not, but it went for 11 miles in a series of rolling hills, eventually cursing every few minutes hoping the next aid station would be at the end of the next turn, turned out it wasn’t more than one time. I kept seeing things, a.k.a allucinating, like volunteers around the next turn, a tent that turned out to be a bunch of timber piled together. Pretty sure I got Lise’s hopes up more than once. The last 500 meters before the aid station, there was a steep downhill which I enjoyed every bit of it. At the aid station, I realized that leaving some haribo gummy bears had been the perfect breakfast recipe. It’s the smallest things that make a difference really. The next aid station was 5 miles away, more single track, green moss covered rocks, everything green, it had been a good day so far.

Leg 5

This section was “flatish” and ran a good amount here. After leaving the Cascades aid station, we put on our vest and ran next to the highway for 2km to make it to the next aid station where we handed back our vest and continued. The trail in this section undulated most of the time and was pretty lush with all the rain that had just gone through. Ran next to the Skagit river for a good part of this section, the river level was low but the flow had kicked up a notch after the rain. Seems like everyone in this section kept practicing the put it on, take it off, karate kid technique. It would rain for a period of time, stop to a sprinkle, got warm, took off the jacket, rained again and repeat.

Skagit River

Skagit River

Foggy morning

Foggy morning

I reached the Shawatum aid station which was an out and back section that apparently people thought it was closer than what it really was, because at some point I was told it was only 10 meters to the aid station, it clearly wasn’t. Close to half a mile probably, nothing like a “little” miscalculation to get your spirits down. But to my surprise Lety was there waiting for me. What a relief, had not seen them this morning. Lety replaced my water here, I took a break, took my time cleaning my socks, thinking I had rocks in my socks (I didn’t) and continued on. My feet were drenched but my pair of socks were at the next aid station so there was nothing to do but to dry them out a bit, clean them and make sure nothing was rubbing.

Reached the Skyline aid station, the last aid station of this leg, where again we had an out and back, again longer than people estimated. I arrived here feeling low in calories but in hindsight it was probably my body telling me I needed to sleep. I sat here and replaced my socks, turned out to be that all this time the rocks I thought I had, were just my wrinkled skin with dirt in between wrinkles. These dry socks and no blisters were a welcome relief. The aid station apparently had gone gourmet and had smoothies, yes you read that right, smoothies. Felt spoiled but welcomed the deliciousness. Kissed Lety and the kids goodbye and continued on.

Leg 6

I left the aid station feeling not great but ok. We started our last big climb here, about 4000 ft of elevation in 5 miles, all I can say is this climb and the lack of sleep broke me. Physically I was ok but my body wanted to sleep. Many people asked before the race if I was going to sleep and I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I had never been on my feet this long. I took about 5 naps going up this climb, leaving many fellow trail runners asking me if I was okay? I kept telling them that all I needed was a nap, I was not feeling sick nor was I hurting, all I needed was a nap. I lost an hour or more of sleep, no pun intended, with all my naps combined. I took out my emergency blanket, and would use it to lay it on the floor and wrap myself around with it. Closed my eyes, power napped, and repeat. This would continue until Camp Mowich where apparently I was expected, since I was asked if I was the napping runner 🙂 I used a cot that was next to the aid station, wrapped myself around and asked the volunteers to wake me up in 20 mins to which they obliged. 20 minutes had passed, when I hear “alright your 20 minutes are up! time to move on”. Like a spring I got myself up, grabbed my stuff and continued on.

The biggest problem on this leg besides me falling asleep, was falling asleep while running next to ridges, I stepped on the edge of a ridge one too many times. I arrived at Sky Junction where Peter the co-RD, was manning that aid station. This aid station had Do-it-yourself mats that worked as chairs. Napped here for 15 more minutes before proceeding to the final 8 miles. I think I only slipped of a cliff once here but was feeling more awake now. Climbing out of this section was fun, you could see the lights on top of the mountain and second guess yourself, whether it was a star or someone at the top. Eventually made it to the top, the first part of the descent was sketchy and given my lack of sleep, couldn’t really make any ground. The first rays of light were out and I was almost done. The last few miles run next to Lightning lake, I could smell the barn but there was still quite a way to go. Beautiful single track trail around the lake and all the way to the finish line. Not before almost falling off a ledge and doing a 180 while hitting my knee, sleep problem solved, I was awake now.

At the briefing they had half jokingly emphasized that we couldn’t swim to the other side, when we were close to the finish line. I think I thought about it for a second and thought that even if I could swim I’d probably fall asleep and drown 🙂 Reached the finish line in 44 hours and 30 minutes, that is quite a long time. Lety was at the finish. All is good. It has been a week since we toed the line and I still have dreams of the race. It has been a hell of a ride.


I’d like to thank Lety for being my awesome crew and my unconditional support. I know that without her, this would be an order of magnitude harder. Thanks for being there when I expected it and when I didn’t. Thanks to Ben, Lise and Pam for being awesome training partners. Thanks to family and friends that sent messages of encouragement. Thanks to the RD (Heather and Peter) and all the race volunteers. Thanks to Vincent and Trail Toes for their support (cream and his new tire trainer, check it out!).

“Happiness is everywhere, you just have to know how to capture it, how to recognise it” – Stéphane Brosse

Slippery slope

Slippery slope – Photo credit Brian McCurdy


San Juan Solstice 2014 Race Report

I had made a conscious decision that I would not fret over how much training I was going to have for the race because we had been out-of-town every other week the last month before the race, so I would get whatever running I could before the race. Race day came by quickly and I was soon sitting down in the race briefing hearing about how many river creeks we were going to be crossing and how much snow was still left. San Juan Solstice is a race I will remember for a long time. A few of us Texans would be traversing the course, namely Steven Moore, Jaime Garcia and myself. All of them faster than I am. Lety and I made the road trip to Lake City, a whopping 1000 miles from Round Rock, TX, and endurance event itself. I quickly realized that a 13 hr finish was not possible given my current training, however, I’m happy with my result and we enjoyed our time in the mountains. Went from thinking I was not going to finish under the race cutoff to running down the last 5 miles. In the end I finished with a time of 15:26:42, this race report does not do the race justice, you need to run this race to understand why.

Race report

I didn’t really have anxiety issues like in previous races, must have been because I didn’t have high expectations. Last minute check list before starting:

Tailwind in my bottles: check, Trail toes: check, headlight: check, I started with trekking poles tied up to the pack and because we were promised snow I tucked the spikes at the bottom of my pack as well. I ended up only using the trekking poles going up Carson road but “quickly” disposed of them. Made the last-minute decision of starting with the Salomon Fellcross and I didn’t regret it, with the wetness of the first section comes the mud and the FellCross are an ideal shoe for these conditions. I would switch to the trusty Pearl Izumi’s when I arrived at Carson.

The race has 12k feet of elevation gain and the highest point at 13, 334 ft (4064m), it is made up of 3 main climbs which makes it easy logistically to set up drop bags and nutrition. There were several altitude symptoms that were present during my race: the first of course were my legs did not respond at all on the climbs, my hands swelled a bit on the second climb but quickly went back to normal as I descended, and a light headache. Nothing to worry about but just to note. As far as hydration and energy goes, I mostly consumed Tailwind which seemed to suffice when I combined with other aid station food.

First climb

The first few miles up Engineer Pass are on a jeep road that, to my surprise, went pretty smooth. Nothing like running at 5 in the morning next to a raging river, at least class 4 if not 5 in my opinion. Before long we were crossing over the Alpine Gulch trail bridge pictured below. We had scouted this section the day before but didn’t actually make it across the bridge mainly because I was too fixated on the river and its power.

Alpine Gulch Trail bridge

Alpine Gulch Trail bridge

The next section leading up to the aid station was a beautiful single track that zig zagged along the river multiple times. We were promised 7 creek crossings but my numb feet counted more than that, at least 2 of them were thigh deep high. None of them were wide enough to need a rope, except one, but a couple of them were strong enough to drag you a few feet down. I remember someone saying the day before that my feet would be numb all the way up to the aid station but I didn’t think it was that bad, they were wet, yes, but not numb, at least not the entire way ;). I was actually pretty happy to be crossing the creeks and not having slowed down a whole lot. The first 7 miles take you to the first aid station where a group of volunteers were cheering and helping, this was not a fully stocked aid station but had enough to get you energized. Made it to this aid station apparently with 25 minutes to spare before cutoff but didn’t think any of it, had never had issues with cutoffs before so I didn’t pay much attention. Always a first time I guess. Getting to this aid station I realized how much I couldn’t run uphill, in fact I didn’t run up hill at all, I wouldn’t say I hiked either and it was much like that the rest of the race. Had a little talk with the legs but they were nowhere to be found today, they probably were in shock :).

"The mountains are calling and I must go" - John Muir

“The mountains are calling and I must go” – John Muir

We would climb some more before we got our first view of the mountains and starting the descend to Williams Creek, lots of fun in this section before we got to the aid station, we ran through the ridges and snow, some post holing was done previously by the race crew but there was still more to be done. Jaime passed me here at some point and gave me a proper welcome to the mountains shout out. At Williams Creek I would see Lety for the first time today and switched some gear here before continuing.

Second climb

Going up again for our longest climb of the day.  Started going up Carson road with trekking poles I had borrowed from Joe, they didn’t seem to make much difference and since I was carrying a water bottle, it took a couple of tries to get the drinking synchronized. If I had to pick a part of the course I didn’t like, this would be it. Much of this section is on a jeep road that goes up way up. You know this climb is the real deal when there are signs that suggest a 4 wheel drive vehicle should be navigating the road. Again I wasn’t moving, I was crawling, slower than crawling, made it up to Carson aid station and switched my shoes and socks, put some more trail toes, grabbed some food, left the trekking poles and resumed the hike up. A lot of folks going up, hiking and enjoying the breathtaking views of the San Juans, a few folks along the trail were not looking too good, I probably wasn’t looking good either but at least I didn’t feel bad.

San Juans

San Juans

As a fellow runner said as we were hiking up: “onwards and upwards”. Met a runner by the name of Ulrich who had done the race a whopping 14 times and was working on his 15 finish. We ran through the Contintental Divide where we got the best views of the day, 360 degree views of beautiful rocky Colorado mountains, ran through several sections of snow and deep post holing, knee-deep, mind you. At some point we also got some light snow. I got really lucky that the weather was perfect and didn’t have to worry about thunder storms or heavy snowfall as had been the case in previous years. We would reach the next aid station where I think a few of us cursed when we realized we need to go up before we could sit down. Fully stocked aid station, lots of energy, lots of food, volunteers going out of their way to help us, all was good.

It was 3:20PM and I needed to be at the next aid station by 6PM or I’d be in trouble. From the Continental Divide to Slumgullion there were 9 miles, surely I could run 9 miles in under 3 hours, the way things has gone all day that seemed like quite a challenge.

Panoramic view of the San Juans

Panoramic view of the San Juans

Fortunately I had legs for some downhill running, along this section I met yet another runner by the name of Markus who had finished Hardrock and Spartathlon. A fairly accomplished bad ass in my opinion 🙂 I ran with him until Slumgullion where we made it on time before the cutoff with about 30 minutes to spare. I would see Lety for the last time before the finish line here, she had a full VIP section waiting, whew that was energizing. Had a coke, half an avocado, bottles refilled, some more tailwind and I was running again.

Third climb

The last section starts off going downhill and was very deceiving. At some point before starting the last climb it goes on the highway where I start thinking, did I miss a turn? a few hundred meters later we hop back on the trail and start our shortest long climb of the day. Nope, legs are still not there, again very deceiving section, with trees that trick you into thinking you had reached the top but really are just false summits. When we finally reach the end of the trees, we turn left and yes we continue to go up, 2.4 miles worth in this section. I remember this section clearly because I was excited to get to the top and be closer to the finish line. We would turn left, head up a little more, turn right, head up a little more and finally turn left to start descending. This last section of the course I run, in a “run like the wind” kind of way, I eventually start catching up and passing folks, I skip the last aid station and continue running all the way into town, there is about half a mile worth of road running to reach the finish line, we cross over the river through a bridge where I’m told I won’t have to get my feet wet anymore, yay for that!, although I’m pretty sure this time I would have gotten more than my feet wet given the bridge went over Henson Creek.  I cross the bridge and before long I’m on the finish line chute. Nothing like having your wife meet you at the finish line.

What a great day in the mountains, the race course is marked extremely well, the volunteers are top-notch and this place is pretty awesome and not a desert :). Thanks to Lety for putting up with me 30+ hours of road trip, 15+ hours of hanging out in the woods and supporting my incessant running. Thanks to my parents for watching over our kids.

Lake San Cristobal overlook

Lake San Cristobal overlook


2014 Bandera 100K Race Report

I told Joe (the race director for Tejas Trails) that Bandera and I have a love hate relationship. I don’t think the climbs are unclimbable or the terrain is unrunnable, instead I think the hardest part is that there’s are a lot of stretches that are runnable and if you forget that, it will come back and hurt you. Not everything looks like this:

No I did not jump over it

Sotol in full bloom and no I did not jump over it – photo courtesy of Caleb Simpson

This race was complete chaos, from forgetting essentials, read contact lens case and water bottle to allergies and stomach issues. This year I decided I wanted to share part of this painful experience with my dad so I invited him down, probably the best place for it too, given the caliber of a Tejas Trails race. The race for the most part did not go as planned but I finished what I came to do, which was get that buckle. Finished the race in 13:37:02, good enough for 57th place out of 201, improved my place and PR, not bad for a “terrible” running day. The rest of the report talks about specific details of the race and how it went, so brace yourselves because it was a long day.

There were a lot things going on that I had no control over when the race started and it made for an interesting day overall. Had dinner with Lety, the kids and my dad on Friday before heading down south drove through San Antonio and through the hill country. As soon as we drove in to San Antonio I could feel allergies getting worse, not like scratchy but down nasty dry, hard to breathe and stomach upsetting kind of allergies. Brushed it off and thought that it would get better. We arrived at the park around 10:30PM at night, set our tent and lingered for a little while before going to bed. We woke up early the next day to the sound of cars arriving and madness ensuing with volunteers parking cars where they could. Dragged myself out of the sleeping bag to pick up my race packet, trying not to miss anything else, I strapped my chip and attached my bib to my shorts. Huddled around the tent for a while before making one last trip to the porta-poties, just in time for the race except I walked down with the 50k folks, seriously, was this my first race? Had to walk down back to the start line where the 100k started, might have been an easier day if I started out the other way 🙂

More information about the race can be found in the Tejas Trails site, everything from past results and aid station location, to race reports and a weather almanac 🙂 I mentioned a weather almanac because unlike last year, this year there was no mud only 75 degree weather, there were points during the race that I wished for some of that mud. The 100km course is two 50km loops, what follows is my recollections of how it played out and summary and thanks to those who were there and those who put up.

The bad – First loop

Right from the start I noticed it didn’t feel like race day, didn’t really feel stiff, sore, probably just the brain saying it didn’t want to play today. Still feeling the allergies, my stomach felt meh and had just a light headache. One step at a time I told myself. The first aid station (Nachos) came pretty fast and looking at the pictures it doesn’t seem l’m not enjoying it.

Out of Nachos - photo courtesy of Darrell Keenbean

Out of Nachos – photo courtesy of Darrell Keenbean

From here to Chapas it isn’t too bad and for the most part was uneventful, kept running trying to make sure not to push where I shouldn’t, kept the pace at a comfy 10:30 min pace.

Fun stuff coming into Chapas - photo courtesy of Pedro Cornsalis

Fun stuff coming into Chapas – photo courtesy of Pedro Cornsalis

From Chapas to Crossroads I might have pushed a “tad” too much and it’s why this course is so deceiving because all this section is very runnable, I was running in the low 8’s probably the last time I would do that during the race, except for the down hills. Nutrition so far had been consistent but my stomach was still not feeling great and would not for the rest of the day. Crossroads came and went and I replaced my nutrition as planned. I looked forward to the second loop, last year by the time I made it here, the sun had gone down, so this would be a mental boost later. Headed out of Crossroads and knew that as long as I power hiked the sisters I’d be fine. There’s a bit of a climb called the 3 sisters which feels oh so good after this section because I can go down hill, it was the only thing that I could do well this day, I even managed to slip and not fall with a one hand save.

Bandera 50 km Elevation Profile

Bandera 50 km Elevation Profile (100k’ers do this twice)

I met quite a few folks while running this section that made this part of the run really enjoyable, this and the last 10 miles are the only sections I remember being enjoyable. We chatted about how this felt so different than last year and how I kind of wished that mud would have made its way to Bandera instead of the heat, yes it was getting hot and I didn’t like one little bit. For the record: “My name is Jorge, I’m from Texas and I dislike the heat” there I said it, moving on.

I replenished at Crossroads the second time and headed towards Last Chance. Made it to Last Chance and saw Larry, Olga and John crewing that aid station, chatted a bit about shoes and how the day was not going so well that I was feeling like a bad training run.

Last Chance

Last Chance, this doesn’t look like a bad day either WTF? 🙂 – photo courtesy of Olga

I parted ways and thanked them for crewing and helping out. The first loop was done in about 5:56 which was not bad at all but I was feeling it. I knew I was dehydrated but couldn’t drink any more water with a slushy stomach. I was met by a good friend David Zuniga who asked me if I wanted to wait for the quesadillas, I guess I must have not looked that good because when I turned around he had 2 quesadillas ready for me and for that I’m thankful.

Awesome quesadillas courtesy of David and his girlfriend

Awesome quesadillas courtesy of David and his girlfriend – photo of Gunmaro Rodriguez

The ugly – Second loop

I started walking out the 2nd loop and asked my dad to walk the first mile with me, I enjoyed that walk as much as I could but soon I had to say goodbye as I had to climb Sky Island and it was getting warmer by the minute. I started failing on nutrition here, the gels I had brought were not helping and the food at the aid stations didn’t seem very palatable (For what its worth, it wasn’t them it was me :), aid stations with cheese quesadillas, PB&J, M&M’s, mashed potatoes, what else could a runner want, turned out I couldn’t stomach any of that 😦 )

Made the conscious decision to pull back and try to see if my stomach would settle, tried some mountain dew but had no luck so just kept pressing. Marched in and out of Nachos the second time around with a relentless forward progress attitude. Things were still slow but I was moving and that’s what mattered. As I made it to Chapas things were not entirely better but I was making good progress, stomach was still not right, felt like throwing up nothing serious just that feeling. I was definitely low on calories so I kept drinking water at least and pushing gels as there was no way I was going to get to the finish line with out some more calories. Got some oreos and mashed potatoes, no not at the same time 😛 (oreos first, mashed potatoes later, not the other way around, just felt easier that way), followed by some coke to try to jump start.

As I headed into Crossroads I knew I needed to run more to make up lost time and things were now moving, with the sun easing up and less than 20 miles to go, I was complaning less and moving more. It took 45 miles to get over whatever that was but I was now making up lost time. As I mentioned before, last year when I got to Crossroads I barely  made it with out a light, this year, I made it all the way to the last down hill before heading back to Crossroads the second time before I ran out of light, this was a mental boost. I’m a night runner, always seem to pick up after the sun goes down and this race was no different. I was now at least looking forward to the next 10 miles of actual running and for the first time today felt positive. Still low on calories but at least now I was moving and was enjoying it.

When I got to Crossroads the second time, another runner was feeling not so well and I suggested he’d try some mountain dew. More on this runner later. I refilled the water bottle, had some warm ramen broth, a cup of coke and pressed on. I hiked when I needed and run where I could the next section, made it to Last Chance with my stomach still pressing and the urge to vomit just at the edge. No problem, almost there I thought. As I’m drinking my last cup of coke, the runner at the last aid station arrives behind me and I realize I was being chased. I told him that he was welcome to pass me as I had no business today in trying to play the last push game.

Hiked out of Last Chance and was feeling good, I knew we had a few hills to go over still so didn’t push too much yet, again hiked when I needed to, ran when I could. Just after Boyle’s Bump, it finally caught up to me, my stomach decided that it would no longer tolerate one more gel and out it went, twice. I stopped, reassesed, wasn’t feeling dizzy, no nausea, I knew it was down hill from here, and about a 2 mile stretch left. I proceeded to start riding out the down hill, every minute passing by, trying to avoid getting caught by “that” runner. I could hear the finish line now, to my surprise (again) Lety had made it down to the race and brought the kids, my daughter ran the last 50 meters or so to the finish with me. Everything was good now, I made it in 13:37:02 and it was a good way to finish.

The good – Summary

In reality, I missed some key long workouts that probably would have helped, who knows. It was about 50 miles of feeling nausea, about to throw up (and then some), dead legs, and about 10 miles of joyful running. In those last 10 miles I recounted the first part, remembered the mile I hiked with my dad, the new friends I met, hanging out with awesome volunteers, seeing my wife at the end, running to the finish line with my daughter, hugging my son and dad at the finish line and getting the awesome buckle by his awesomeness Joe, not a bad day after all.

Bandera 100Km shiny buckle

Bandera 100Km shiny buckle


All of my trail running friends, fortunately too many to count (from a bottle to quesadillas thanks guys), my mom and dad for flying home to spend time with me and my race, my beautiful wife for surprising me yet again, and my kids for putting up 🙂

2013 Arkansas Traveller Race Report

Fortunately this race Lety and I had some vacation planned so we turned it into a runcation and spent half a day in Little Rock doing a little sight-seeing. Walked around downtown, stopped by the local Flying Saucer and did some shopping.

Outside Little Rock Market

Little Rock, Arkansas

Going in to the race I knew I had a sub-24 with the assumption that everything went as planned and that the advertised 12k feet of gain wouldn’t bother me. Olga’s last advise was not to push until after 70 miles so I tried to stick to that plan, my plan was to run a sub-23. My finishing time was 22:01:21, good enough for 9th overall. One of the reasons I ran this race was because Joe P. had suggested it so much, he had done it multiple times and only had good things to say about its Race Director, Chrissy and top of the line volunteers. The race itself has plenty of aid stations and it helps a lot that it is an out and back course, with a small figure eight loop that goes through about 8 miles of the Ouachita trail. The weather I think for the most part is usually cool, this year during the day we had a little rain, followed by some humid and not so hot weather (the temperature at one of the aid stations read 80F degrees, add a bit of humidity on top of that and things can turn real quick). A down pour in the afternoon that brought the expected colder weather, followed by cooler winds at the top of Smith Mountain at night. What follows is my attempt at putting a few words together about how my race went.


Arkansas Traveller 100 miler – drop bag pickup

Arkansas sucks!

Arkansas sucks!

Start to Lake Sylvia

Is the cold front here yet?

Is the cold front here yet?

First part of the race is a 16 mile figure eight loop and some of it goes through the Ouachita trail, this section is not hard and it was a welcomed experience having run on rocks (more about this later) for a good 5 months I enjoyed the single track as much as I could, savoring every step and a bit of up and downs. Tried very hard to not spend unnecessary energy here. Three things I remember here are: 1) it was too freaking humid, coming into the race I was hoping that it would cool down more than it did the days prior to the race, unfortunately this didn’t happen and I might have done too much salt here :-\. 2) We had a very light sprinkle that made for some awesome pine tree with midst/fog views during our run through the single track. 3) Hearing a guy behind me after I had just left the Brown’s creek aid station hurl and hurl hard, to think we were only 12 miles into the race and the heat was already playing with our heads and bodies, good times.

Lake Sylvia’s aid station came by (took me 3:06 to get through this section, probably a little faster than I should have) and caught Lety off guard because she didn’t see me coming in to the aid station. As always seeing her is an instant energy booster an added bonus was that I was feeling in top shape. Plantar was still there but it was still runnable so I kept going, it probably bothered me for first 30 miles and then it sort of went dormant or I ignored it.

Lake Sylvia to Lake Winona

This was the roughest part of the course to me, I mentioned getting out of Texas to experience something other than rocks. This race embraces jeep roads and they don’t try to hide it, the rest of the course was on jeep roads, with maybe half a mile from the finish on road. There are sections here that I did not look forward to coming back, if you ever walked on a river creek when its dry this is how the first and last sections felt like, except there was overgrown grass just to make it more entertaining and there were a few hills going to the Rocky Gap aid station. At some point here I run with Keith from Georgia and later ran with Stan (Chrissy’s husband) who was trying to come back after a slow start and probably being dehydrated. The heat got to me here but it dissipated quickly as soon as the cold front started to make its way south.

Lake Winona to Powerline

This was the best part and it made up for all the jeep road running, there were some beautiful views after passing Smith Mountain aid station, sure it is not a real mountain, but it sure beats mounts and hills back home. The first sight came after the aid station while I chatted with a guy Russell from Oklahoma, to our left there were glimpses of the Ouachita trail mountains that were very entertaining. Chatted about how neither of us were football fans and the weather was a bit warmer than we had anticipated. After we had crested the top of this hill, I told Russell that play time was over and started some smoother run hill running that felt so liberating. Not too far from the powerline aid station there was a clearing where I caught a glimpse of the rest of the park and slowed down and enjoyed the moment. After that there was a slight uphill to get to the aid station and this is where rain downpoured for not too long and I ran like my kids in the rain, splashing and enjoying as one must do when it rains, forget the problems in the world and enjoy nature.

Powerline to Turnaround and back

I got to the aid station and weighed in at 163 lbs, hmm something is off I tell myself, the lady weighing in tells me I’m retaining water, possible but 6 lbs of water seems a bit too much. On the way back I would weigh in at 145 lbs and the first thing I hear is: “It’s ok, the scale is a little off”,  just a little I reply. I proceeded to pick my pack and a tech shirt because it would cool down a bit after the rain. I would start passing a few folks here and made a good effort to not get passed the rest of the way. Since this course is an out-and-back mostly I could tell what place I was and I was glad I wasn’t that far behind (at least in the standings, time is a different game). I see people coming back from the turn around and I shout some sort of encouraging words, when I see the guy that was in 5th place, he’s cheering me on and telling me that the last bit is easy, piece of cake, almost there, yeah right I think. Turned out we were not almost there and there was a little bump that we needed to get through, darn elevation profiles can be deceptive 🙂 There was still daylight and I was trying to hold on to it for as long as I could, in fact I ran in the dark for quite a bit and didn’t turn my handheld on until I couldn’t see any longer, well-played I told myself.

Powerline to Lake Winona

Heading back I knew I needed to push a bit harder and it was a mental battle the rest of the way, that time of the day when all your legs are telling you is “sit down and stay there” and your brain is saying the complete opposite. Going up Smith Mountain was fun up to the point where it was raining and I made the rookie mistake of leaving my long sleeve shirt at power line, not change my techshirt, which was now wet and I had a rain jacket over it (a sleeveless rain jacket ). Right before the Smith Mountain aid station there was some tree that had fallen from the wind and rain and I came to a stopping point, my battery was dying and I needed to replace them, panic ensued and I though I was lost, looked forward no ribbons within eyesight distance, look the other way, same deal, crap, did I get lost? no way I think, this was a straight shot from the bottom clearing that had been majestic earlier to the aid station. I regroup, replace my batteries and start going around the tree that had fallen (which really didn’t look like a tree but more like someone had covered the trail so we wouldn’t go through it, I was thinking the worst here given Chrissy had mentioned the hunters playing with the ribbon markers and light sticks). Eventually I made it around past the tree and far enough to see another ribbon and was running again. By the time I made it to the aid station I was cold and asked the volunteers if any of them had a spare tech shirt or arm warmers I could borrow and, in ultra fashion, one of the girls manning the aid station asked if socks would work, I quickly and happily said yes! she then proceeded to ask if pink would be a problem to which I replied: “Ofcourse not!” Those arm warmers probably saved the rest of my race. Smith Mountain to Lake Winona went by pretty fast, the volunteers mentioned I was rocking my pink arm warmers to which I nodded and proceeded to the last part of the race.

Lake Winona to Finish

There were two things that were certain for this last section: 1) There was a bit of a hill going back and 2) the rough patch I discussed earlier. I proceeded to tackle the first one and I tried hard to walk with a purpose this last section. Everything that resembled a hill, I power hiked and everything else I ran. Honestly I don’t remember much about this uphill section, only that I wanted to finish. Running through this last rough patch was harder because I had been playing tag with another runner, looking at the splits I had been playing tag with him for most of the race it seems. Good things come from competition I guess, because he made me run the rest of the 6 miles left to the finish, except I had given out so much that by the time we got to the road before the finish line, there was a final bump that was not pleasant at all, I tried to hold on for as long as I could, hoping I was going to finish sub-22 but lost that battle, thankfully there are other battles and I will get that sub-22.

Finish line sporting my custom pink arm socks

Finish line sporting my custom pink arm socks


The first and most important of all is Lety, without your support and knowing you are always there these challenges would not be fun. Thank you for being there and putting up with my incorrect estimates. To my parents for taking care of the little ones and let us turn part of this into a mini-runcation 🙂 To the AT Race Director and husband Chrissy and Stan who put up and excellent race. To the volunteers who were top notch and literally went above and beyond. To my friends (runners and not runners, you know who you are), and to my coach Olga.

with Chrissy Ferguson, AT100 Race Director

with Chrissy Ferguson, AT100 Race Director


If you have a hydration pack and you can carry stuff, carry it! Especially if its important, do not make assumptions but instead be prepared. I made the mistake of not taking my long sleeve shirt  and that would have probably cost me my race if it weren’t for the awesome race volunteers.

At some point on my way back, I sat for a few seconds in a chair, gasp!, that probably cost me sub-22. The chair did not look comfortable at all and sitting and standing was painful, beware of the chair.

Race time running progress

8.6 11.9 16.4 22.1 24.4 29.6 31.9 36.5 39.4 43.2 48.2 52.1 57.9 63.7 67.7 72.6 76.4 79.3 83.9 86.2 91.4 93.7 97.7 100
Bib Name Flatside Pinnacle Browns Creek Lake Sylvia Pumpkin Patch Electric Tower Rocky Gap Lake Winona Pigtrail Club Flamingo Smith Mountain Powerline Copperhead Road Turn Around Copperhead Road Powerline Smith Mountain Club Flamingo Pigtrail Lake Winona Rocky Gap Electric Tower Pumpkin Patch CrossRoads Finish
127 Jorge Rasillo 8:06 8:06 9:02 10:14 10:43 11:45 12:22 13:10 13:56 15:11 15:53 17:08 17:59 19:17 20:24 21:34 22:42 23:20 0:18 0:58 2:07 2:38 3:29 22:01:21

Week before

Oh the excitement and anticipation of training for a race with no training races before it, that came to a halt when plantar flared up during my last long taper run. Panic ensued and I contacted Olga, her reply basically read like this: “don’t run and rest”, needless to say it was a long week of not running and overcoming negative thoughts. “Fortunately” it was only painful the first 30 miles and it went into dormant state afterwards.


Pearl Izumi EM Trail M2

These shoes have been good so far, I definitely need half a size longer since they are a bit narrow on the edges. They did slip a little on wet rocks but held pretty good for the mud puddles and jeep road. I did get some rubbing on the tongue section, which I didn’t feel during the race at all it was just there on both feet.

Fenix E25 handheld

I definitely need to revise what is a better option, seems to me like the battery is running out faster than it should.

2013 Rocky Raccoon 100

I’m not going to write what happened in each loop but rather try to express some of the feelings  that I had through this race. The race consisted of 5 X 20 miles loops, I had run parts of the course back in December when it was hotter so I was happy to see the weather working in our favor. There are plenty of aid stations: Dogwood, Nature Center, DAM Nation X 2 and Park Road, each of them with awesome volunteers.

Rocky Raccoon 100 miler

Rocky Raccoon 100 miler

Finished the race in 23:27:02 and got a nice buckle for the accomplishment.

2013 Results

2013 Results

1st hundred miler

1st hundred miler


  1. The hill right after we left DAM nation the first time seemed like it went forever those last two loops,  so it was just a step a time, one foot in front of the other.
  2. Rolling hills on the fourth loop took an exaggerated amount of time, at some point before I reached the Park road aid station, was hiking with a guy that nailed it: “These hills seemed to have gotten longer at night”
  3. Being in pain every single loop. In typical fashion and after a lot of subliminal messages from Joe of course I signed up out of impulse for Rocky and before Bandera. Needless to say, tendonitis/shin issues bugged me the entire race which were left overs from Bandera mud fest 2013. Ended up with some nice bruises in my calves and left shin.
  4. Hitting my right toe 8 times vs. my left toe only once, should have kept it even.
  5. Fell only twice, once the first loop and once the second loop, hardest thing was avoid falling the rest of race 🙂

Most fun and awesome moments

  1. Seeing Lety and the kiddos in the middle of the race and at the finish, this was a big boost of positive energy and the best thing that happened all race. Jorge (my son) asking me how I was doing was hilarious…
  2. 365 ways this race can wrong or right 🙂

    365 ways

    365 ways

  3. Race, can’t go wrong with a Tejas Trails race, Joe and Joyce (along with their entourage of volunteers) always put up quality races. At the end of the fourth loop Joyce comes running and asks if I’m ok in a typical worried Joyce kind of way.
  4. Help from Jorge, he graciously helped empty my trash on the second loop and assisted me as I was getting out of the station
  5. Volunteer aid stations, I think having run a lot of Joe’s races have spoiled me 🙂
  6. Running with David Z and trying to keep up with him the first 2 laps
  7. Nailing my nutrition, started off with 4 Honey Stingers gel’s per loop (went down to 2 for the 4 and 5th loop since I was eating more solids). Solids and others:
    1. Fruit: bananas and oranges
    2. Rammen and mashed potatoes, about 4 cups worth of Rammen, about 11 cups worth of mashed potatoes
    3. The most delicious wiener and american cheese burrito (two halves)
    4. Chicken and cheese quesadilla
    5. 1 salt cap every aid station starting the second loop (might have been the first loop). Double dosage the third loop
    6. 1 cup of potatoes
    7. Whole avocado, one half the first loop, second half the second loop, had one extra to spare but I was lazy and didn’t want to waste time cutting it.
    8. For what it’s worth, gluten-free pretzels about half a ziploc bag (sandwich size)
    9. 3 cans of coke (90 calories), I think I might have done an extra 2 or 3 cups at aid stations
    10. Approximately 1 bottle of water per section (ran out of water on the third loop when it was hotter made up after that), that’s a LOT of water
    11. 1 tylenol tablet to mask the pain on the last loop (or at least an attempt to because the pain was still there…)
  8. Running with a brazilian friend Alex who had just run the Brazil ultra as relay
  9. Running part of the first loop with David Jacobson
  10. Meeting new running friends and old ones too (David from endurancebuzz.com, Ben Martinez,  Colin from Team in training and many more)
  11. Support from friends (running and non running ones (what’s wrong with you non running ones? just sayin’ haha), family, coach
  12. Told myself I would not walk the dam and ended up running it all 5 times, even if sometimes it was more of a shuffle
  13. Bringing my own food for pre-race dinner.
    Mmmhh sweet potatoes

    Mmmhh sweet potatoes


  14. Awesome sunset from Huntsville
    2013 Huntsville sunset

    2013 Huntsville sunset



  1. Hearing Alex yell weird noises from the top of his lungs
  2. At the end of my fourth loop, a female runner vomiting (could hear her about 200 meters before we crossed paths). I asked if she was ok her response “yeah I’m ok”, crazy ultrarunners…
  3. Moving shadows on the fifth loop
  4. Sleepiness, having now been awake for more than 24 hours on the fifth loop I started feeling like I needed a nap
  5. Renting what apparently was an RV camping site and getting approached by a guy that asked: “Excuse me, do you have a reservation for this site?”, to which I replied “well yes I do”, with his somewhat polite answer, well it’s not typical that non RV people pay more for a camping site. It is obvious that there is a whole brethren of RV campers out there

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” – that’s what it was on my mind the last  loop a quote from Pre that resembles toughness and perseverance. To think I almost slowed down when I saw my watch and thought the race had started at 5AM rather than 6AM, in my mind my goal was sub-24hr. Took me a few minutes to realize that I had 2 hours and 15 minutes to run the last 2 sections, whew! that was close.

Very special thanks to Lety for her support, for putting up with sleepless kids and for her never-ending love. Thank you.

2013 Bandera 100k

There are so many people I want to thank that I will probably forget but in any case if I don’t name you I still thank you. Thanks to Lety for always being there, for making the trip to the finish line to give me a big hug, that finish was worth 10 times more and then some, thanks to you. EDIT: Thanks for the awesome brownies honey 🙂 Thanks to Joe and Joyce for always putting great races on. Thanks to my training partner Jorge for sticking out this tough race, I was not happy seeing you sitting down at Crossroads so all I could think was “just get him moving again and he’ll do great”, glad that worked out :). Thanks to Luis for baby sitting me ha ha and feeding me (and to Maria for cooking that awesome caldo de pollo), thanks to my family for asking me how the race was and because I know you are reading this mom, no I won’t get fatter to run these races but I will eat more next time 🙂 Thanks to David Zuñiga for making me run the flats, I probably would have run less in the first loop if it wasn’t for you 😉 sorry for slowing you down. Thanks to Olga for coaching me and giving me words of encouragement in an Olga kind of way. Thanks to the awesome volunteers at the race (Amanda, Hilario, a guy who I don’t know his name but helped out a whole lot at Crossroads, Dave Silvestro).

My unofficial finish time was 14:45 I will edit with an official result once the results are in.  EDIT: Official time was: 14:48:52 good for 68th place out of 184 finishers (there were was a big drop rate, maybe 50+ that either only did the 50k or DNF’d) The race was awesome, while I complained about the mud I also thought that having the mud there would give every runner in this race more credit, I’m sure the hills were “welcomed” in a masochistic kind of way after running through that mud.

My first buckle

My first buckle

Race Details

First loop was around 6:43, which puts the second loop about 8:02. Honestly any hope I had of finishing sub-13 quickly faded after the first loop, the mud fest put a heavy dent on my quads and was definitely not looking forward to the second loop. The course as described in the race course was:

A 50km loop, repeated twice. Starts & finishes at the Lodge. First 5 miles are pretty rugged on into Nachos, including Big Nasty, Sky Island, and Ice Cream Hill. From Nachos through Chapas on to xRoads is all pretty tame. From Cross Roads back to Cross Roads again sports only the Sisters and they are not all that bad. The next section is relatively easy, until Lucky Peak, just before Last Chance. And the last 5mi to the Lodge include two more excellent climbs: Cairns Climb and Boyles Bump

1st loop – The mud fest

I started off running pretty smoothly with David and was trying very hard to not pass anyone and instead take the right amount of time to warm up. Jorge caught us around mile 5 I think, maybe more I forget, it’s all blurry now. Between Chapas and Crossroads was where the mud was worst, the open field section was just awful, mud sucking, pain in the ass awful, and as such it left a heavy dent in my quads and ankles, felt like having ankle weights at times. The out and back from cross roads was where the hills really hit me, but the views were just awesome and I appreciated the hills over the mud much more.

Bandera 50 km Elevation Profile

Bandera 50 km Elevation Profile

"Happiness is everywhere, we just need to find it..." -Photo courtesy of my friend Ben

“Happiness is everywhere, we just need to find it…” photo courtesy of my friend Ben

Before I came into the race I was feeling pretty good with respect to training and hills and little did I know that I need more, much more. Through out the race I felt a sensation that I had felt before which ended in a tendonitis on my left foot but this time it was my right foot;  I guess reading all those books about enduring pain and learning to differentiate between pain that will heal and pain you have to stop, helped because I have little red mark on my  swollen foot that it’s not bothering me but its a sign of how much I was able to ignore it.

Purple foot

Purple foot

In hindsight I lost a lot of calories between Crossroads and Last chance and I think that’s when things got a little out of control. In fact they would only get better until after Chapas on the second loop. I caught up to David and Jorge at the lodge and refueled, for more details on what I ate see Nutrition section below 🙂

2nd loop – Embrace pain

I was certainly not looking forward to this 2nd loop not because of the hills but because of the mud, fortunately the mud had ceased a bit during the 2nd loop that it wasn’t sticking anymore and for this I thank the weather gods or whoever dried it out 🙂 I had lost David and Jorge coming into Nachos where I met Amanda and Hilario from Team RWB and who only had awesome things to say and for that I thank them because that was a rough patch. Amanda said I had a good post on the group last week which was: ‎”…there’s happiness everywhere, we just need to see it” – Stephane Brosse, the quote is from the latest Summits of my Life movie from Killian which narrates a lot of his accomplishments and how we should enjoy what we’re doing. That quote stuck through out the reminder of the race.

Before I got to Chapas I stopped and sat down at the top of one of the hills and could see Jorge and David about 5-10 minutes out, I sat and contemplated everything around us, listened to the coyotes howl (never had this at a race before :), then spirits were lifted and I started bombing the down hill. From Chapas to Crossroads I was still low, my calorie intake at the time I thought it was good but in reality it wasn’t. I had been drinking plenty but the humidity had taken its toll and now not only was I low on calories but also a little dehydrated. I started to catch up on calories from Chapas to crossroads but was still not properly hydrated. As I was getting to Crossroads the sun set and I was left with no light which was actually not bad, I was about to run through what I thought would be the worst section, the field with plenty of mud in the first loop, but fortunately the mud had receded and it was only sticky now; not enough to slow me like it did on the first loop. Made it to crossroads just in time and it was when I caught up to Jorge who was having a low at this point, was pretty dehydrated but would later regroup and finish. Here I grabbed my flashlight , was going to skip and grab my long-sleeved shirt and gloves until the way back but as we were waiting for hot ramen to be ready, the wind had picked up so instead of waiting for the way back I changed shirts and got a dry cap. Headed out of Crossroads with Jorge, ramen in hand and we power hiked until the start of the Sisters; made it all the way up and convinced Jorge to jog for a bit just to get him moving again. When we reached the top, Jorge and I parted ways and I started trying to make up lost time, this was the most exciting part of my race given I would be catching up folks and well its always a good morale booster.

Here’s a video courtesy of Bruce Evans that shows some of the terrain and hills we went through:

Made it back to Crossroads, picked up my jacket and replaced batteries, grabbed some more ramen, and asked for the right way to proceed so as not to go in the wrong direction, not that there’s anything wrong with adding miles but lost I did not want to get. Ran pretty smoothly from xRoads to last chance where I met Bryan from Ft. Worth and ran part of the first section with him, chatted for a bit about Jemez, Ultracentric, and how these hills are nothing compared to real mountains 🙂 I was power hiking as fast as I could what wasn’t flat and running the rest, flats and downhills included.

When I reached Last chance I was hyper and ready to finish. I ran almost all that was left of the course except for the climbs, overheard it was 9:15PM and I thought maybe I’d finish before 15 hrs but it’ll be hard. When I made it to Boyle’s Bump there was a couple going up hill which I asked if they knew how far we were from the finish line to which they replied: “we think it’s about 2.5 miles left”, my first thought was that I had picked it up too soon and was going to regret but I didn’t, made it through the bump and ran some more, caught up to another couple which said that there were only 2 miles left and my reaction was: WTF? I was sure I had just ran more than half a mile, I said thanks and kept running, later as we were making it to the finish line another guy asked me if I knew how much longer was left to which I replied maybe a mile worth, I could see the light which meant we couldn’t be that far off, kept bombing what was left of the down hill and quickly came to the turn around where I was told there was only a quarter-mile left, whew! almost done. Sprinted some more to the finish line and got 15 minutes under 15 hours, was pretty awesomely happy. Saw Lety made the finish 10 times more memorable, saw Joyce and gave her a big hug, and Joe caught up to me and shook my hand, think I told him something like “you son of a …”, no disrespect intended of course but more a tribute to how bad ass Joe is. Luis was also waiting and props to him for finishing his own first 50km and under these conditions.


What I remember, it was probably a bit more but not much. 7 Honey Stingers, 2 bonk breakers, 1 pack of Honey Stingers chews.

Lodge – David’s girlfriend was cooking some excellent quesadillas with avocado which were just delicious. 2 quesadillas. Also had half of an avocado courtesy of Jorge

Nachos – Chips 2 handful, water, 1 quesadilla, 1 water cup of coke, started taking 1 electrolyte cap every 25 mins after Nachos on the second loop.

Chapas – Mashed potatoes (2 cups worth), chips 2 handful, 2 water cups worth of coke

Crossroads – first loop was just chips, second loop 2 cups of ramen noodles (first time around), 2 more on the way back, about 3 cups worth of coke combined, 1 cup of mashed potatoes, 2 handful of chips

Last Chance – 1 cup of ramen noodles

Post race

I’m sore right now, as I’m sure a lot of us are, but the worst is my left ankle is swollen and don’t have a lot of flexibility on it. Sotol of course left its mark but it really is not as bad as they say it is. Next up is Rocky Raccoon 2013 and 100 miles, goal is to go under 24hrs, here’s to that being an accomplishment this year 🙂

Bandera sunrise the day after the race

Bandera sunrise the day after the race

After the race we stopped by at PEI-WEI and got this in a fortune cookie, guess they do know a thing or two about fortune 🙂

Endurance and persistence will be rewarded.

Endurance and persistence will be rewarded.

Texas Trails Endurance Run 2012

A truly humbling experience for my first take at 50 miles, learned and suffered new things, in the end I got it done in 9:55:28. The course elevation is no mountain but going through it 4 times plus the roots, I definitely prefer rockier and technical courses because in the end when you kick a rock it will hurt but it will at least move, roots on the other hand do not move and it still hurts 🙂

Huntsville State Park Elevation

Huntsville State Park (screenshot from the Huntsville State Park site)

The 50 mile race took place in Huntsville State Park and was 4 loops total; each loop of 12.5 miles. There were 4 aid stations located on the course. The course ran through the piney woods of the park and its definitely a must see if you are an outdoor person. Lots of wildlife (including gators, yes you read that right), an abundance of different bird species and more.

Each 12.5 mile loop consisted the Chinquapin Trail (red) and an out and back on the Triple C Trail (green), the loop started with gentle rolling terrain that ended up at the first aid station where we did and out and back. Next section of the course was fast as in there’s sections of downhill where you can make up time if you need to (when you can) before making it to the second aid station. The second part of the course it was more rolling terrain with lots of roots and board walks that had some excellent views of Lake Raven.

First loop (1:57:58 )

I felt really good this first loop but thinking it was going to get warmer I wanted to get the first loop out of the way, bad idea I know but it seemed like a good one at the time. By the end of the first loop the only song stuck in my head was: Roots bloody Roots.

The nutrition on this loop consisted of 1 honey stinger gel, 1 honey stinger waffle and 2 s-caps. Every time I’ve tried to use salt at a race seems to have only made things worse and it was probably the reason for my painful two next loops.

Second loop (2:22:57)

I actually felt quite good during the first part of this loop but as soon as I passed the second aid station I started having stomach cramps and they were not pretty, every time I wanted to run harder I was immediately slowed down, I soon realized that slowing down was helping and slowing down I did. This second loop threw my nutrition way off base, therefore I’m sticking with gels for the foreseeable future, sure they get boring but they’re much easier to swallow than a nutrition bar or a waffle. I ate a gel, a waffle and whatever I could eat off the aid stations which consisted mostly of oranges and bananas.

Third loop (3:00:36)

Still trying to recover from the painful second loop but it was starting to get warmer, thankfully the park’s beautiful pine trees provided enough shade to make it feel more pleasant 🙂 I can at least say that I enjoyed the park’s wonderful views. The high topped at 81F, I think its safe to say that I thrive in colder/cooler weather. I did plenty of walking trying to get my body to settle down before the last loop. I skimped on nutrition during this loop because nothing was making it through, had just one gel, no waffles, no bearded bros nutrition bars (which was a big surprise), only oranges and bananas.

Fourth loop (2:33:59)

It was this loop when I started recovering from the mess I caused the previous ones, I stopped at the first aid station and asked for coke, I obviously was low on calories/sugar so the coke felt like the best treat I’ve had all race.Sipped down 3 cups of coke and instantly felt energy, almost I have summoned the gods of sugar.  Had two handfuls of some pretzel medley which also tasted pretty good.  Needless to say I had a much better experience this loop, and ran almost the entire loop.

I had a blast this last loop realizing that I was about to finish my first 50 miler, I made a hard push towards the end so as to keep it under 10hrs but the most rewarding and totally unexpected surprise came when I saw Lety near the finish line and for that I thank her.


To be able to share the accomplishment with Lety, Jorge and Sofy made the race 10 times more more memorable. Going to play with nutrition and see what I can trim before Bandera’s 100k, there’s still more than a month worth’s left of training 🙂

WildHare 2012 race report

A good way to start the report is by being happy, I’m happy with the results and glad that I still had some in the tank at the end, the race was a great prep for the upcoming 50 miler. WildHare can be described as a collection of twisted turns with 2 hills, short ones but they get harder with every loop. The 50km consisted of 4 loops, with the terrain not technical but the roots can get you, especially in the latter part of the course.

WildHare swag

a PR, nice swag, and back home to a beautiful family, what else can I ask for?

This is where I tell you, if you are interested in the needy and greedy details keep reading, if you are not well… I finished in 12th place overall with a finishing time of 5:05, it was a PR of 1:29. Consistent training, lots of running and Olga’s Training regimen have made all the difference this season. I have 2 more races left and I’m excited 🙂

Now, onto the details: I left with Luis on Friday night, we stopped by to grab some dinner and drove to Warda TX, which took us about an hour and 30 minutes with some traffic. We arrived at Bluff Creek Ranch and as always the usual Joe and Joyce warm running welcome, very much like getting to your favorite family place. We picked up our packets and drove around until we found a camping spot, it turned out to be a good aid station spot to put my supplies in. We set up our tent, chatted a while and off to sleep we went.

The race was very uneventful for the most part, my nutrition was spot on. I ate 2 honey stinger waffles, 1 GU gel, 4 slices of oranges, 1 banana, 1 packet of honey stinger honey chews. I was a bit low on fluids but nothing to worry about, I drank 4 and half bottles of water (a little more than 2.6 litters of water), should probably have been 5 and a half.

First half of the loop consists of nothing but twists and turns and a few up and downs mostly covered by trees, the trail is not technical and you have to work to keep the momentum going from the constant turns. One of the two aid stations on the course is placed midway through the loop, the second aid station is at the start/finish line. The fun continues after the first aid station where there’s a real nice downhill that, if you are not picking your feet up you could very much end up with broken bone. The trail continues with its up and downs but there are a few more open spaces this time; I remember I struggled through them last year so the weather really did help this year. The two hills I mentioned previously are both in the last section of the course, the first one is about 100 meters at a steady incline, the second one is at a much steeper incline and about twice as long. Like I said, nothing too technical, the loops just take a toll on your legs and the hills feel much longer each loop 🙂 The final part of the course ends up looping around the small lake and a straight line to the finish line after that.

Loop 1: Fast loop

Usual down to earth countdown by my running friend Jorge and off we ware chasing the rabbits 🙂 I was expecting an out and back, turned out the loops were just longer and there was no need for an out and back like previous years. As a result ended up running the first and second loops faster than I should have. No one to blame but myself, always have gone out faster than expected, but I have been getting better at controlling it.

Loop 2: Think I can run 50 miles today

Not realizing the first loop was actually shorter than I thought, I somehow thought that I should be running at the same pace as the first one.  By this time the 25k’ers had started so there were more people on the trail to pass which is always a confidence booster. Towards the end of the second loop I made a conscious decision that I would maintain a steady pace on loop 3 so I could use the remaining energy left on the last loop.

Loop 3: Ok maybe not 50 miles just focus on finishing

Other than settling back into pace, this loop was pretty uneventful. This loop was more of a mind game than a physical one, one where I started noticing the effects of having gone out too fast and trying to tell myself to settle down.

Loop 4: Love hate relationship

This is the part of the race where I always realize that running and I have a love/hate relationship.  I love getting to this point but hate having to push out of the comfort zone and is usually the part where I ask myself why the hell am I doing this up until I get to the finish line and realize the reward of getting to the finish line.

Had an awesome time racing this weekend, as always Joe and Joyce put up awesome events, thanks to Luis, who’s quickly becoming addicted to running and thanks to my wonderful wife Lety for being there and putting up with incessant running, who’s now only getting to write about what we eat 🙂 You can read more about her writings @ Lety eats

The Mule Shoe 60K race report

Whew! that was a nice solid race, it was the first time I made it to the start/finish uninjured, healthy and feeling like a thousand words. As usual, this last week I was nervous, nothing really I could about it just pre-race jitters, think I even passed some of that anxiousness to Lety at the beginning of the week (sorry honey…). As usual, the compressed version of the report is: I ran conservatively most of the race and left enough energy for the last loop for us (more on this in the full summary) to kick it up a notch at the end of the race. In short, it took me 9:09:16 to complete 60km, the race was really awesome, there were rocks were there weren’t supposed to be rocks but leave it to Joe to make this happen. Full summary of what my brain remembers below.

Before the race

I’ll take the time now to thank Luis for driving me home and not having to worry about driving back 🙂 oh and waiting 2hrs for me at the finish line. We drove together and got there about an hour and a half before the race started, which meant plenty of time to get warm, chat some, listen to the race briefing and get ready. Luis went on to complete the 30k course and had some interesting stories to tell after the race, that included: emergency response team, basics of trail running, and race conclusions.

Course setting

To make out for some missing mileage we started and out and back, that we will only do to start the race, the race consisted of 4 loops, with each loop having 3 aid stations, one of them being a fully manned aid station at the start-finish. The race started at 7PM at a nice and comfortable 101 degrees. As we did the out and back portion I ran with the iRun RGV folks (David, Ben, and Marcos), always good to see them since they are always full of energy, a plus in a race like this. I started out in the middle of the pack and run at a comfortable pace, told myself I was going to start slow and hold off whatever energy I had left for the last loop. As we made our way back, before starting the first loop I kissed Lety, Sofy and Jorge good-bye, I would take every single bit of energy I could.

Wobbly hands at the starting line (Photo credit - Jorge Guevara)

Wobbly hands at the starting line (Photo credit – Jorge Guevara)

First loop – the beginning 1:53:06

I”ve always run better in a group setting, fortunately for me I found a group of 3 other runners (Scott, Christobel and Colin) that were running at a good pace, obviously I went out too fast the first loop but it turned out ok as I still had enough in the tank to push on the last loop. Ran the entire first loop with them, there is not a whole lot to tell about this loop because it went fairly well, the pace felt comfortable.  I really thought that we would make it to the second loop without having  to turn our handlamps on but it wasn’t the case.

Second loop – stop and look at the stars 2:20:16
By the middle of this loop I had settled in with the group I started with and stuck with them, we were running fairly comfortable until about midway when Scott started having some problems, he and Christobel stopped at the first aid station to rest some and Colin and I kept going. Colin and I would run the rest of the race together and pushed each other when the other couldn’t. I rarely ever find someone that’s running my pace but Colin was spot on, he works with the Team in Training folks and had some stories to tell, which I appreciated as there were some sections on this course that it would have been a pain to be running solo. Most of the entire loop was runnable but ended up walking/hiking/power hiking the section in the middle of the loop where Joe seemed to have brought a piece of Bandera and dropped it right in the middle of it. After the second aid station the course has some open sections where you could see the shiny bright stars and a beautiful moon.

At the end of the second loop Olga sliced and diced some great watermelon and I flavored every single bit of it, that was followed by a grape popsicle that tasted, for lack of a better description, awesome. Olga said go easy on this loop (the third one) so you have enough kick for the last loop and so we did.

Third loop – the dreaded one 02:36:53
This is always the harder part of a race, the loop or section where you know there’s only one more lap after this. Only thing you can do is move forward one step at a time and enjoy every single step. For the first time I wasn’t injured and the only real issues I had during the race were with nutrition, could eat but 1 gel and 3/4 of a honey stinger waffle. So instead of eating what I was carrying, I ended up eating aid station real food instead. Here is what I remember eating: a complete orange (I took about 3 to 5 pieces at each aid station), about 5 slices of watermelon, 2 PB&J pieces, 1 banana, 1 popsicle, 1 coke, 5 s-caps, I refilled my pack 4 times which puts me right about 6L of water consumed (I was also drinking at the aid stations).

Fourth loop – The finish 02:19:01
The fourth loop turned out to be a fun one as we had enough kick to run most of it, we went out trying to make up lost time and so we did. Colin had paced for the entire race up to this point, I took the lead to about half way past the first aid station; I told him I was going to try to run as much of it until the grinding section, and then run some more before the last aid station and so I did. We were both huffing and puffing but were moving rather nicely. At some point before the first station aid we started playing the running game with 4th place female winner and it turned out to be a fun game. We caught up to her at the first station but she took off before us, we quickly refueled and were on our way out, it was probably 1/2 a mile before we passed her but then came the ugly section, we had said we were going to run until we got to this section and we sticked to the plan, we power hiked most of this section and got out of there, we started running again but we now had a tail behind us so we started moving faster. By the last aid station we had gained some ground on her, so we decided to quickly re-stock what we needed at the last aid station and keep moving, she caught up to us as we were leaving the aid station and quite frankly were tired and didn’t want to play games but we did anyway. We kicked it up a notch and started moving faster, we only saw her headlamp once and ran a little faster, at this point I really didn’t want to get passed by anyone anymore and still had some kick so we pressed on, it was full steam ahead until the end. We crossed the finish line in 9:09:16 which was no PR but then again I really enjoyed the race so who cares about a PR, ok maybe I do but there’s always more races.

Another race and another friendship (Photo credit - Jorge Guevara)

Another race and another friendship (Photo credit – Jorge Guevara)

Post race

After finishing the race I got to chat for a little while with Jorge (and his coach Jennifer who graciously offered me a coke, thanks 🙂 ). I really just wanted to head home so chatted for a little while and started getting ready to leave. Like I said before, I was glad I didn’t have to drive back and because Luis was driving I could at least extend my legs on the way back and relax for a little while. We drove home, Luis had some awesome stories to tell ( he can’t really say that I make him run boring races :)). When I got home around 5:30AM, Lety was awake and asked if I wanted Rudy’s breakfast tacos to which I said yes!, took a much-needed shower and slept some until I was woken up by delicious tacos. All in a day’s race!

I’d like to take the time to say Happy Birthday to my little brother who turned 25 this weekend and even though I didn’t get to talk to him on his birthday I had him in my mind for about 9 hrs. I would also like to take the time to thank each and everyone that makes me running life an awesome hobby: Lety, my kiddos, my running and non-running friends, Joe and Joyce, and the awesome volunteers.


Nutrition: for the most part my nutrition has been better overall, less processed foods when I can, its hard! more fruit and vegetables. This has improved my recovery times, like being able to run 10-15 miles after a long 27 miles, or doing back-to-back runs.

There is a nagging sore pain (like a fall kind of soreness and no I did not fall) in my lower back that I’m not sure what to make of it. It sure wasn’t there last night but it seems to be gradually increasing the day after the race, most likely has to do with my hip-flexors and glutes being tight.

2012 Rogue Trail Series: The Ranch

Lately I have been running pretty well and by that I mean consistent running, less walking if at all, and a lot of patience. But today was not meant to be, I woke up looking forward to running 30km (more on this later), my legs decided they didn’t want to run today. Paid the price for trying to force them 🙂 In short, I finished 20.55 miles in 4:19:46, had a rough day from the start and it only got worse until the finish line that is. Detailed report follows along with lessons learned.

First loop

Realizing that the course was .7 of a mile longer per loop was really annoying, especially because it wasn’t announced (and if it was, it is still annoying), people say more bang for my buck I say poor planning. First miles felt sluggish so kept trying to wake my legs up but they just did not cooperate. Personally I think the LOOP was harder because the hills were steeper, during the downhill section (sometime after 4 miles, haven’t looked at garmin yet), water was running in one of the many boulders and that’s where I took my first fall. Given that my legs had a different plan today, I was dragging my feet most of the 20.55 miles and thus had close to zero response, I slipped while trying to find the way on the trail but it was the only time I had any reaction time to land on my hands. Rest of this loop was pretty uneventful, had the chance to pick up the pace for the remainder of he loop and finished better than how I started.

Second loop

My footing was lower than usual (tried picking up my feet but it just wasn’t there) and thus led to 2 falls this loop that left me annoyed, angry, and wanting to just be done.The first fall happened while heading up hill and stepping with the wrong foot and doing what I like to describe as a rollover, quite frightening I may add, hit my shoulder on the way down and really thought I was going to injure it. Got up and kept going, a few miles later at the top of the hill where we were running on rugged granite outcroppings, clipped one of the outcrops and there I went again. At this point I was cursing but kept moving forward. One of the things I disliked about the course, was its lack of appropriate signs, apparently course marking was bad last year (at the trail series and El Sendero), I still thought there was room for improvement this year; there were some sections were you had to stop and look around for signs, I know it wasn’t just me, because more than 1 time, other folks in front of me, either missed the turn or blatantly stopped. Given that Rogue had now done at least 3 races here I expect a decent course marking.

Third loop

When I started this loop I had one goal and it was to not fall. At this point my moral was pretty low so I didn’t run as much so tried to power hike a lot of the hills but I had no oomph left to go fast down hill, a real shame because there were some good sections where I could have made up for the time loss. The hardest part of this loop was having to walk, I had been trying not to walk on training runs for this very reason, walking can be good when done for a purpose, but forced walking is less than fun.

Lessons learned:

Other than running out of water before the last aid station, my hydration worked pretty well today. I got around to testing the s-caps and felt pretty good overall.

Hopefully this is a less than common event, but if my legs decide to not cooperate again need to figure out what’s causing it. My nutrition has been better lately, lots of water, fruit and vegetables. The only thing that comes to mind is that I didn’t do consistent rolling this week. Only the next race will tell.

To finish on a positive note, the best thing about finishing a race is spending time with the family afterwards, there’s something calming and soothing about it. Looking forward to racing again, especially to running a night race.