If this year is to be remembered for anything, it’s got to be for me dragging my family all over the country to various ultra trail races, that is running races on rugged trails, of distances above the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Anything from 50k(31 miles) to 100 miles.
I ended up making 5 trips to the California or Colorado over the course of the year for these races and training.
January started with me beginning my training for my first 100 mile race, the Western States 100, to be held in June. That is well documented in my WS Race Report, so we won’t go over that here.
Me and the kids make a trip to Louisiana to the camp. We take motorcycles and 4 wheelers and spend 3 days blasting all over the property and playing in the mud. Always a lot of fun.
Ashley turns 10 and has some friends over for a sleepover. They ride 4 wheelers, sleep in a tent that we set up in the gameroom, and have a great time.
Right after that, we were off to Huntsville, AL for the Mountain Mist 50k mountain run. We stayed in a cozy cabin on Monte Sano mountain and had a great time. The only problem, depending on the wind, sometimes it would start blowing smoke DOWN the fireplace, so there were some interesting times when we thought we might die of smoke inhalation, other than that, a super time, doing some hiking with the kids, and finding cool rocks to bring home. We got to visit our friends the Ansicks, they cooked us a great supper and we got to see their pet opossum.
This marks the one year anniversary of us being in our new house. There are still SO MANY projects to finish. We all enjoy working on various things and making the property nicer, but I think I left us a few too many projects. I spent most of this month putting in irrigation for yard. Much of this work, landscaping, fencing and the like, we just didn’t know WHAT we wanted to do when we moved in. With an open 5 acres, and plans for barns and horses and fountains, it was all just too much to contemplate when we were building. So this year the plan was to get much of that work completed. Irrigation is in as of March.
I also make a trip to Auburn California for my first taste of mountain trail racing at the Rucky Chucky 50k. Details are in that race report, but the highlight of the trip was meeting some great friends in Chris Wedge and Deborah Kempa, and also Paul Morgan, all who live in central Florida, and who I’ve been able to run many more races with since.
Ashley has a horse show, but during some of her warmup, Mandy is not wanting to jump. The barn owner and trainer, who teaches Ashley, Nancy Carr, saw a problem with the way Mandy was moving, and we had to pull out of the competition. It would be a couple months before Mandy was rehabbed and back to full strength.
While out flying a kite in the front pasture with the kids, I realized Puppy(our 8 year old dog), was standing over something just barking and barking. I went to see about it, and it was a mockingbird with a broken wing. Puppy was trying to bark it to death and was probably pretty close to it. I rescued it, and brought it in for the ex-Zookeeper to check out. Tamara used to work in the bird aviary at the Monroe Zoo, so knows all about birds and their care. Well, needless to say, we’ve added a new member to the family, ”Peep” for which I built a 3 foot by 2 foot cage, that now sits in our living room. She’s pretty neat and regales us with various tunes throughout the day.
Ashley had a horse show, and she rode on Ginny, not her usual horse. Mandy, was still hurt and recouperating. This was Jenny’s first show, and Ashley handled her well. She placed with 2 4th places.
I ran in a local 50 mile trail run, the Croom 50 miler, finishing in 12th place.
William tested for his Green Belt in Karate. This is from White, Yellow, Orange, Blue, Purple, testing for Green. He passed that test and often surprises us with some of his moves. To watch these little guys spar is incredible, they do some serious battling. William has taken to using moves he learns from the PlayStation II fighting games.
I caught a Scarlet King Snake, about 10 inches long. We kept it in a little aquarium for a week or so, and it was pretty cool. Eventually, we decided we should let it go.
Ashley and William were in a play, Rumplestilskin at school. William was a guard, and Ashley was a Royal Cat. They both did very good, Ashley spends half her life pretending to be a Cheetah, running around the house on all fours, so this was right up her alley to be a cat. All the children in the play did fabulous, each seeming to fit their role perferctly.
May started with a first-class flight to San Fransisco, CA for Tamara and I. I went to run the Miwok 100k(62 miles), and Tamara went to get a close look at this ultra running business, and to crew for me at the various checkpoints. She did great at the race, I did great at the race, I got to run some with my friend from Orlando, Paul Morgan for a little while, and also with several other western runners that I’d met earlier in the year at Rucky Chucky. Tamara and I had a really good time exploring the Marin Headlands, and eating some WONDERFUL seafood on the bay. That is probably our favorite place in the world out there.
I planted our yard around the house this month. A hybrid Bermuda, like you would find on a golf course. This entailed tilling, leveling, fertilizing, seeding, watering and praying. It all worked out, and just as scheduled, within 10 days, I had sprigs growing, and by the end of the summer, would have a full yard of soft, green Bermuda grass.
We started a garden this month. We have about a 30 x 30 foot section that we filled with Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Jalepeno Peppers, Banana Peppers, Black Eyed peas, Egg Plant, Squash, Zuchini. Ashley especially worked very hard on this with me, and we worked together to keep it watered and picked. We got a lot of produce out of that garden over the summer, until finally the grass and workload of other activities won out, and we surrendered the garden for now. It will be much easier next year, to revive, with the irrigation and fencing we have in place now.
May ended with the Western States 100 3 day training camp, where I ran 70 miles of the WS100 course over the 3 days. That’s detailed in my WS100 report.
We are at a friends house at a birthday party. William is doing backflips off the side of the pool, and gets a LITTLE close to the edge. Busts his head against the side, and off we go to the emergency room for stitches. Turns out to be two staples in his head, he was pretty tough through the whole thing. Just another day.
This month was Western States 100. All detailed here, in a nutshell, I finished the whole 100 miles, and it was very, very difficult. The whole family spent a full week in California and had a blast.
Emily turns 5 years old. The girl keeps growing and getting smarter and smarter. She does gymnastics, and loves it. Her desire, which we fulfill is for her to have her own pet. She selects a cute, black kitten, that she named Rose. Puppy immediately takes over mothering duties, and literally follows this kitten everywhere, standing over her, and being very aggressive if our other cat, Cocoa gets too close. If the kitten curls up on the floor, he lays right beside her, with his head over her. It’s the funniest thing. Emily loves her kitten, and surprisingly, even as she’s grown, she tolerates very well all the dragging around and carrying that she has to put up with. We do two parties, one at Chuck-E-Cheese, and one at home where Tamara goes wild with the cake.
Ken, Connie, David, Ashley and William take a canoe trip down Wekiva River. The water is spring fed, and clear as can be. We see turtles, fish and alligators. Highlight of the trip is when we have stopped the canoes at some downed trees and are eating lunch. We’ve been sitting there 10 minutes or so, and Ashley says he look at that alligator, we think she’s kidding. She’s not, and about 10 feet from us and 6 feet or so from the end of our canoe is a 6 foot alligator sunning himself on a log. We never noticed him. We had a good day. My mom and Ken have been living with us for several months while their house is being built down here.
Leadville(photos) (Race Report) is one of the original 100 miles races from the 70’s/80’s era, when the Wide World of Sports covered them for a couple years. I was familiar with this race, and it was on my list of races to finish, if I ever felt my body would allow me to do something so daunting. After finishing Western States, I felt maybe I could do it, the ante being upped a notch with the fact that Leadville is the highest in elevation incorporated city in the US, at over 10,000 feet.
Come to find out that this year it is to be held on August 21, which is my birthday. It is also held in Lake County Colorado, and we live in Lake County Florida. The first major climb in the race is up Sugarloaf Pass, and we happen to live on what’s called Sugarloaf Mountain in Florida. All this put together just made it seem like fate was bringing us together, and I took a huge gamble and entered a 100 mile mountain race held at over 10,000 feet elevation, coming from my lofty 100 foot elevation Florida home.
My friend from Zephyrhills Florida, Chase Squires, agreed to come up to Colorado and pace me through the final 45 miles. The altitude was a complete unknown to us. Keep in mind, if you ever hear of football teams playing in Denver, and the concerns of the visiting teams dealing with the altitude, Leadville is twice as high as Denver, at 10,600 feet. And they just don’t have oxygen that high up. Running for 20 plus hours, including two climbs to 12,600 feet was going to be quite a challenge for us lowlander, flatlander runners.
I flew out on Tuesday, Tamara and the kids followed on Thursday, Chase could
come out on Friday for the Saturday start. My race was essentially spoiled
on Wednesday, when doing a little training run/test, I badly sprained my ankle
coming down Hope Pass. This is a 12,600 foot pass that we would have to go
over twice in the race. I wanted to get an idea of what that would feel like,
and off I went on a 2000 foot climb to the top. On the way back down the steep
decline, running at a good pace, I misplaced my foot, and I swear I can still
from my left ankle. I really knew I had broken it, and was on the ground for
probably 5-10 minutes. I also knew no-one would be coming up that remote climb
on this day and I had to get down. Eventually I was able to get back to my
feet, and hobble my way down the mountain. I immediately drove the 45 minutes
back to Leadville, to the grocery for bandages, Advil and Ice. My ankle looked
like a baseball had been cut in half and glued to the side of my foot. All
I could for the next couple days was try to keep it tightly bandaged, iced,
and take anti-inflamitories. I really didn’t think I’d be able
to run at all, Thursday I could walk, but not run a step. Friday, I was able
to trot across the street to avoid getting run over and it almost killed me.
Chase had been warned that it might not be worth coming for, and Tamara said
I was nuts to even try it, but I had to.
Saturday morning came and I managed to start the run, and was able to do some running in places. Downhill wasn’t too bad, uphill I could walk without pain. Flats just plain hurt, I could jog very slow, but it really hurt badly, walking didn’t feel much better.
The slow progress meant I never was as far ahead of the cutoff times at each aid station that I wanted or needed to be. I made it over Hope Pass out to the turnaround at 50 miles, and picked up Chase coming back over Hope Pass the second time. By this time, my ankle was getting weak, and the cumulative effect of 12 hours of running at 10,000 feet was taking it’s toll. My pace was slow going over Hope Pass, to the point I was in danger of missing the next cutoff. Coming DOWN the other side of Hope, I stepped wrong in the dark, twisted my ankle again, and that was really it for me. From that point on, my ankle would not support me if there was ANY variation in terrain. I fell 4 more times coming down the Pass, where my ankle just collapsed under me.
We technically missed the cutoff at Twin Lakes, 60 miles into the race, by 7 minutes, which meant it was time for me to stop. At that point, we found out they had allowed an additional 15 minute window and I could continue. I didn’t want to, and told Tamara and Chase that was it. Tamara did her job as crew, and got me out of the chair and sent me back out on the trail. We went for 10 minutes, and Chase and I knew I could not make the next cutoff. We came back and that ended my race. My first race to enter and not finish. I think I had a chance just me against the course and the altitude, not a sure thing, but I believe I would have made it. The damaged ankle took too much away from me and tilted the odds to the course. I will go back and do that race, better prepared, and with 3 weeks of acclimation at altitude. I don’t know when, but one day. (Leadville Race Report)
I take the kids to Cocoa Beach on a kind of rainy overcast day. This is the only day this year that we go to the beach. It rains some, but the beaches are empty, and we actually had a great time.
Hurricanes! What a month or so this was, (mid August and September). One hurricane after another comes beating down on our state. Unbelievably, we suffer very little damage, and the track of these things crossing the state have us in the perfect spot to miss the worst of all of it. Just a few miles away, HUGE trees are uprooted, roofs and shingles are ripped from roofs, and people go days and weeks without electricity. We never lost power for more than 60 seconds I don’t believe, and damage to our property is limited to a little repair work I have to fix under the eave. We were certainly were fortunate and it takes an event like this to make you realize how quickly things in our country would turn to complete chaos without electricity, gasoline and our short supply of groceries flowing to us. This state was in shambles, and business and normal life was completely disrupted for the whole month. We had a very difficult time finding gasoline. People would stand in line for hours and hours to fill an ice chest with ice, or buy some plywood. Tupperware, one of my clients where I maintain an office, had the building where my office is located destroyed. A huge part of the campus has now had to be relocated to other areas of the campus, and that building will likely not even be rebuilt.
William’s 7th birthday and he has some friends come spend the night. 3 other boys take over the place and I think it’s the first time he’s done that. They spend the days swimming, playing air hockey and Playstation II. A bow and arrow setup is the cool present this year. He has been wanting one, and try as he might, he can’t pull my 70lb longbow. I really can’t either right now, it’s a handful and I have to be working at it to maintain the strength needed to pull that bow. My handmade Dan Quillion longbow with clear glass covered limbs is sure a beauty though.
I do the Croom 50k and Great Floridian Ironman Triathlon, both local races to me. That’s my 5th Ironman distance triathlon, and I started thinking about doing this one on Thursday before the race, entered on Friday and raced on Saturday. It was fun.
I started building concrete columns at our driveway, and had big black wrought iron gates built. I hope get them finished and installed with electronic gate openers by the end of the year.
I also build a 16 by 22 deck that’s within our screened area by our pool. When we build the house, at the last minute we had them enclose this large additional area by the pool with screen, but we’d left it dirt. We knocked around building some type play area, jungle gym thing for the kids, I thought about a putting green, driving range setup and we considered various water garden setups. Eventually, I just did it over in decking, to give us additional large open screened in area for the kids to play and for us to entertain in.
We did Halloween with our friends the Anchundia's again this year. The kids loved it. Highlight was when we came to a house where the people staying there were visiting from out of country. They had no candy, but answered the door, with heavy accent, "Here, have some 'dets' (dates), Dets, better than Condy!" and he's trying to throw these sticky, dates into the kids bags, and they are kind of freaking out. That was the line the rest of the night, "Have some Dets Man, Better than Condy!"
Ashley is really coming into her own with her riding skills. She competes
in 3 horse shows, two Dressage, and one Jumping competition. In the first Dressage
show, she wins a first and second place, and scored high enough to be Grand
Champion for the show. She won a nice lead rope, and a horse statue carved
out of Pecan wood. It is very nice.
In the second Dressage show, she also places well with two first places then in the Jumper show, she ends up with 4 blue ribbons(first place) and a single 5th out of 5 classes of competition. She’s really riding well, and her and her little pony definitely hold their own against some awfully big and beautiful Arabians.
November is Papaw Ken’s birthday, and they are living with us while their house is being built. We have a little party, with a cake with 68 candles on it. (I think, it was kind of hard to count them all!) I was about to go for the fire extinguisher, but with the help of the grandchildren, he got them all blown out.
December 4. Just as last year, this is the Western States 100 Lottery for 2005. There are only 400 or so competitors allowed, and there is about a 46% chance of getting picked this year. I’m sure I’ll not get picked again after being selected last year, which was my first attempt. I have several friends and running buddies that are trying to get in also. Finally, they post the results to the website, and I SLOWLY scroll down the list. Eventually I get to the “H’s”, and there I am, two years in a row. A blessing or a curse, I’m not sure at this point. I continue down the list to see who will be my traveling and training partners for the year, as we prepare for the race of our life, and NONE make it in. None of my closest running friends made the lottery. Fortunate for me, my pacer from last year, Chris, who tried this year but didn’t make it, is going to pace me again this year. We actually have two races that we are already entered in for 2005, in Alabama and North Carolina, and we have a few days in May that we plan to do some training on the Western States trail in California, with our wifes helping with logistics as we do the last 70 miles of the trail in two days.
William tested for his next Karate belt, Green Belt – Black Stripe. I think this is the last level before Brown Belt. He does well on his test, and tonight, as I write this, is the belt presentation.