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Once a padawan, now a freaking Jedi. I run really far, I write a bunch, and have super powers that allow me to grow amazing facial hair.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Rock 'n Roll San Antonio: Giving is the Best Way of Getting

Some of the best and most memorable experiences with running have not come from my own races or personal achievements, but rather in helping others reach their goals. I don't consider myself exceptionally altruistic, but there is just something about helping others that is special.

The San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Marathon took place yesterday, and though I didn't get to run, my role meant much more to me than if I had simply been a participant. I joined several of my coworkers from the Physical Health and Wellness team to coach 20 of our wounded warriors to the finish line, most for their very first marathon.

Apparently I Didn't
Get the Memo...

To be honest, I wasn't even sure if I wanted to go at first. This was the finale of the Run to Somewhere program that I had talked big about helping all year, but was only able to attend about half of the build up races for, and not a single training run. On top of that I had just spent the last 3 weeks out of town, not terribly excited at the onset to spend my first day home at "work".

But alas... I woke up at 4am and headed to the hotel where all of our runners and the staff had stayed the night before. I didn't know what Danny and Chris had in mind for my role, but I showed up willing to do anything that might be needed.

Team WWP!
We had runners competing in both the half and full marathon events, so it was going to be a challenge helping all of them. We started off together, staff and participants, for the first two miles. I stopped there and cut course to mile 9 with Danny and Allison to wait for our guys and gals to get there.

And so that's how it went... we would run two mile stretches at a time, motivating them, making sure they were doing well, and had everything they needed. Keep in mind, some of these people were running with significant combat injuries, probably at times not believing they would ever get to pursue such a feat as a 26.2 mile marathon.

The highlight came when we tracked our last half marathon runner coming to the split. Four staff members ran behind her for the last 2 miles of her race holding the Wounded Warrior Project banner behind her as she completed the final stretch. The crowd erupted as we approached the finish line and there was no mistake that it was all for her.

After the half marathoners all reached their goal, staff headed to the end of the full course to catch the rest on their way in. From there we took turns running with each of our warriors for the last mile of the race.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Team RWB Trail Running Camp 2013

This weekend I had the privilege and honor to spend some time up at Camp Eagle in Rocksprings, TX to attend Team RWB's annual trail running camp.

For those of you who don't know, I have been running for Team RWB for about a year now as a veteran athlete. It's a great organization that's purpose is to create communities of veterans and supportive civilians through interaction in physical and social activities.

They Brought Me On Board Because
Of The Beard...

To read my story of how I became involved with Team RWB, go here.

The camp was like nothing I had ever heard of before as an ultrarunner. Dozens of the sports most elite runners would be in attendance... Sage Canaday, Liza Howard, Darcy Africa, Matt Hart, Nikki Kimball, and more. There would be clinics, workshops, training runs, and classes... all with the majority of attendees being military veterans pursuing their own passion for trail running.

All of this would take place at one of my favorite places in Texas, Camp Eagle. This would be my fourth trip to the camp, my first visit was to run one of the most challenging 50K's I have ever run, the Nueces 50K. Read my race report here.

I took my wife Mikayla and baby boy Connor to join in the action. Connor had his first birthday celebration while we were in attendance, keeping in step with his already present ultrarunning pedigree. The weekend also saw the celebration of the celebration of both the Marine Corps 238th birthday and of course Veteran's Day... all near and dear to my heart.

Gettin' It On The Trails.
Though my participation in the activities at camp were significantly limited in light of the realities of having a baby that wants and demands constant attention, it was a great way to spend the weekend, with my family in a beautiful place with fellow veterans and trail runners.

The highlight for me was Nikki Kimball's presentation on Saturday night about how she battles depression through her pursuit to become one of the best female ultrarunners the sport has ever seen. The presentation hit home, as the sport has been my therapy through my struggles with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and that I now work in a professional capacity to show my fellow wounded warriors how to do the same.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pride Comes Before the Fall... Sometimes Literally

Sometimes if you come into ultrarunning with an already impressive road resume, you might think you already have what it takes. While that might be true, it probably isn't. It's best to approach something as daunting as a 50-miler with the belief that you have no idea what you are getting yourself into. Humility is way different than a lack of self confidence, so don't think that's where I'm going with this. You gotta walk that line.

                                                             If Only It Were As Easy For
                                                                               Us As It Was For Neo...

The entire purpose of these last few posts is to provide resources, insight, and hopefully help to someone that is looking to attempt their first ultra. If out of all the information on the internet you have found yourself here, you likely have a descent amount of self awareness that you shouldn't just approach an ultramarathon with nonchalance.

Here are some pointers on how to keep your head out of the clouds:

  1. Consume everything you can from your predecessors... read, watch, ask.
  2. Make your only goal this: Crossing the finish line.
  3. Volunteer at a race as an aid station worker.
  4. Go to a race to cheer on other runners.
  5. Sure it's a competition, but not against others... it's against yourself.
  6.  Volunteer to be a pacer for someone else that's running.
  7. Know your limits. Physically and mentally.
  8. Start out slow. In training, in racing, in everything.