What a difference a year makes.

Last year, my first year into running, much less Ultra Running, Nueces was my 3rd Ultra in just a few months.

I had enlisted the help of my sister to crew me, and that was it. Just the two of us, on a road trip out to no where, where we knew almost no one, to try something I’ve only begun to do:


Here we are, a year later, 6 or so 50k/50m/100m strung together, and a world wind of great memories and new friends, that I consider family.

We rented a cabin for myself and the crew of Houston Area Trail Runners at Camp Eagle, which is a phenomenal camp. I can’t even begin to describe the parks plethora of great activities, not to mention, just amazing scenery.

I arrived at camp, the later part of the afternoon on Friday. Got a chance to eat and settle in with the crew and leave directions for the those that were coming in a little later that evening and also got a chance for some night zip lining.

I was able to finally get a good nights rest, probably like 8hrs or so, which, is unheard of for me.

Woke up race morning feeling fresh, and made sure to wake everyone, far too early. Some of the crew which consisted of Lisa, Marie, Laura, Patty, Mandy, Chelsea, Jane and Cesar…..yes, Cesar and I were the only guys in this group, it was a total clam fest.

Hydrated, got a bagel, got dressed and we were all about ready to tackle the obstacle of the Nueces Trail Race.

With literally 7 seconds left before the race start, we gathered everyone to take a quick photo, and as the countdown of 5,4,3…….we took a snap shot:


2, 1….WE’RE OFF!!!

Training went well leading into the race, and I was still a bit nervous about the terrain and course since I had injured my foot at the SnowDrop 100M event. I went out at an okay pace. I really wasn’t paying attention to mileage and I didn’t care about where or how far the aid stations were, I really just wanted to enjoy the moment. Run with friends, think about the group I was running with and what they would think of this course.

I tagged alone with a woman Michele or Melissa? I can’t remember her name, we made some small talk about racing and thoughts of time and future endeavors. She had mentioned that her PR here was 6:01 and I thought awesome, Ill try and stick with you for awhile and see where it gets me. During the initial climb, my laces came un done and I had to stop and tie them, and speedy took off. As I got back into the line of runners, Caleb(www.beardedbrothers.com) caught up to me and we started chatting and running together. Caleb is a pretty laid back guy, who, like myself, is an entrepreneur and business owner.

We talked about business and strategies, we talked about the pro’s and cons of running your own business, and just like that, we were through the first couple of aid stations.

After the 2nd aid station, I picked up my pace just a bit, not because I wanted to see how fast I can go, but I felt like I was possibly taking it too slow in my efforts to enjoy the run. It was at this point, I had probably, no, it was my most glorious wipe out to date. Heading over some of the rocks, my right foot caught either a stump or loose rock, and all I can recall was feeling my legs get extremely light, and then nothing but air under me for several feet…..and then….the crash. I belly flopped on one of the rockier sections of the course and thanks to my bottles, I was able to bounce, and not completely eat it.

The gentleman behind me that got to watch this immediately asked me if I was okay, to which I replied “I think so”. I had to get my bottles and fix myself, I had knocked some air out of me on the fall, so I walked maybe 60′ before getting my stride again. Going into probably the last 3-5 miles of the loop, Caleb and I were running and talking again. Going into the last aid station before the start/finish, I told Caleb I was running through and not stopping and he said he wasn’t stopping either, so we kept on trucking.

We got down a small decent and saw Joe, the race director and I distinctively heard him say “We changed the course, you have to go this way” and I thought he meant the road, so I thought “aw man, we’re not running along side the creek” and Caleb and Eric followed right behind me for about 30′ before we noticed people crossing the creek..and I stopped and said “Wait a damn minute, JOE, Where the hell are we going???” he then looked at us and said “No, not that way, this way!!!”

As the three of us laughed, we went walking by and started cracking jokes on Joe.

Me: “Dammit Joe, I WAS about to PR, and now thats all out the window”
Eric: “I want my money back”
Caleb: “Do we get a different medal for extra mileage”

Joe: “$%* you guys, I said this way”

and we’re laughing again…

Pulling into the final stretch before the second loop, I felt a little down, I knew I was taking it “easy” up until this point and I didn’t want to see my time for the first loop, but I did figure, since I took it “easy”, I have a lot left in the tank to really go after the next loop(Not mindful that the temp had gone up an easy 30-40* since the start).

Caleb pulls next to me….”Oh wow, just under 3hrs”…say what? 2:57 going in…I thought, holy cow, thats 7 minutes faster than last year, and you took it conservative, I have a 3:15 2nd loop for sure!!!

I get in the make shift aid station, grab my waters, grab my tailwind, some tunes, and i’m out! Probably a :30 stop.

I’m off again, I think I got 1-2 miles into the loop and my body felt terrible. Like a maroon, I was wearing all black and the temp felt like it was easily in the 80’s if not more, but probably less, but it was damn hot.

I stopped at an area that had gallons of water laid out to empty two on my head. I was feeling really drained all of a sudden. My quads had started to cramp, and here we go, having to slow jog/walk fast. In and out of the first station, I grab more water, some gatorade, and some oranges and take off. This section of loose rock is a bit hard to manage, but, it’s not awful. At this point, Caleb had past me and I had caught up to him going into the climb to the zip line. David Jacobson had now caught us and went galloping like a gazelle by us. Caleb took off with him as my stomach started to turn. Every step made my stomach feel like it was about to explode.

I knew this feeling all too well, and I didn’t have any wet wipeOH LOOK, banana peals! Yeah, I had to use two rocks in the shape of a “V”….and you guys can put the two and two together.

I sat there and watched a BUNCH of people go by me, and then watched the time click on by. At this point, I knew a 3hr loop was out the window and now it was just management to get to the finish(ugh, not again)

I wrap up and get back out, I’m able to walk faster and scramble down the hills. I’m slowly able to start my cadence back to where it feels comfortable. I get to my favorite section of this course, switchbacks going down hill, over roots, downed trees and more rocks. I can hear the aid station is not too far. I knew at this point I had 6.25 miles left to the finish.

As i was walking around a well pump, I decided to pump the handle for giggles. Little to my surprise, it works! I hear water starting to slosh up and out pump. I immediately sit down and let it pour all over me. I probably sat there for 30 seconds, my gosh that felt great. I got into the aid station, drank 4 cups of water, 4 cups of coke, grabbed a sandwich, spilled all of my tail wind, and got out into the course. I knew this section would be runnable for a bit, then that god awful ascend up the the fence line. I thought, “blah, this is going to suck”…but for some reason, when I got to the bottom of the hill, and looked up, I saw Caleb and David again, at the top, and I so badly wanted to catch them, but thought there is no way in hell I can. At this point, I began to think about my Wife’s niece who is, till this day, fighting for her life at Texas Childrenss Hospital, fighting against an unknown bacteria that is trying to take her away, and I thought, man, get up this damn hill, you’re just running.

My energy felt great, and I wasn’t cramping any more.

I managed to catch the guys just after the false summit and when we were able to run again, I took off. It was literally 30 seconds after smacking each of these guys on the butt, that I had the urge to pee. I jumped off the trail and watched molasses come out of me, CRAP, this isn’t good.

I took off again and this time, Caleb said he was feeling tight, but wanted to run, and so we did, together again, but this time, I felt really, really good. I only got out in front of Caleb by a few feet, we had talked briefly about our finishing time and I said “we should still be good for a 6 something” and Caleb said “nah, it’s already 1, we’re at 6hrs with like 4 miles or more to go”

This was the point where I just said “Well, we’ll get what we put into it right now, if we push, we got it” and thats what I did. I just, ran, with out really a care in the world.

Several sections during the last 3 or so miles have some funny hills. I walked up them as fast as I could, each to remembering Caleb was right behind me and we were going through the same things.


I took off running again, then the next hill…I’m walking and yelling at Caleb, “HURRY UP MAN, WE’RE ALMOST DONE!!!”

Get into the aid station, grab a few cups of water, and took off knowing it’s only 1.4 left.

I typically get emotional coming to an end of any race. I usually look for something in my past to get me through the last grind, something to take me away from the pain, and force me through adversity, but this time, it just wasn’t there at all. I had a falling out, and witnessed a tearing down of a friendship, that had spanned over 10 years, I was hurt by it initially, and I thought this would effect me during the run, but, it didn’t.

I’ve come to learn with life, things just happen. You lose friends, family, and then you gain some, some stick around, some just continue on with their own life, and, if you’re a good person, you wish them nothing but the best for them.

I’ve learned one major thing with my journey of becoming a stronger version of myself, and it’s this, as cliche as it may seem, is Life waits for no one.

You decide, every single morning on what you want to do with your life, the people you choose to be around, the job you work, the things you teach your kids, how you conduct your conversations etc.etc…

YOU and no one else, control these moments.

6:52 Through the finish, and into the cheering arms of Chelsea, Cesar, Mandy and Jane from the HATRS and a hearty hand shake from Joe and a hug from his loving wife Joyce.

7 Minute PR, meh, I’ll take it!

I had a blast sharing memories, tears and laughs with the family, it was just an all around fantastic experience, and I thank all my friends and family for the support through out the years!

Big special shout out to my coach Michele Yates(www.dreamliverun.com) for her awesome and humbling attitude towards running and life. Your coaching has been awesome and I enjoy every minute of it!!!

You are a constant inspiration!

Till the next race, or life moment, Keep on Kick’n!!!!

“Be the hero of your movie”

When I was first told about the SnowDrop 55 Hour Ultra, I thought, “55 Hours of running, that’s madness”, then, I was told the race was to take place on a .76 Mile loop, and my thought was “That has to be the dumbest thing i’ve ever heard of, in the history of the world”.

THEN, I was told what the SnowDrop Ultra was all about. http://snowdropfoundation.org/ is a non profit organization that is dedicated to assisting patients and families at Texas Children’s Cancer Center through funding for continued research to eliminate childhood cancer and scholarships for college bound pediatric cancer patients and survivors(Taken from their website).

My good friend Rob Goyen lost his God Son Keys Poole to pediatric cancer in 2013 and he wanted to do this race for the Poole family. I figured that was awesome to do, however, I wanted NO part of running circles for a possible 100 miles, I’d much rather run from Houston to El Paso, but I’d support his decision 1000%.

Several months after Rob and Jeremy signed up for SnowDrop, another awesome friend signed up as well, MaryAnn. You might know her, you might not, but if you read my write up for my first 50 Mile run, you know all about Mary Ann. They all kept asking me when I was going to sign up, and up until October, I had no intentions of trying this type of run. It was only after Jeremy got injured at Cactus Rose did the thought ring in my mind. Jeremy hurt his knee in that hell hole of a course, and he didn’t feel like he would be ready in time for SnowDrop…..so…..the hamster wheel in my brain started turning, “Well, if Jeremy is out, I wonder if he could transfer his Bib to me and I’ll give it a go..”, I merely asked the damn question and Jeremy went out of his way to email, facebook, twitter and I think carrier pigeon Trish Kline(who is awesome) who is the executive director of the SnowDrop Foundation.

Dammit Jeremy, I was just curious. I think 2 days went by, and Trish gave us the news that all she needed was my information, and an emergency contact and I was in. And, with that, the SnowDrop 55 Hour run was now on my calender. A race that started on December 30th and went through New Years day(ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????? WHO DOES THIS????)

I started training back in Nov with Michele(Ultra Runner Of The Year) Yates and we talked about throwing the 55hr run into the program, and so after rocking out at the Wild Hare 50 with my boo Lisa Danielson, I felt pretty good going into this madness.

Training went well till about 3 Weeks out. I was “helping” out with a move and ended up tweaking my knee. I started to develop some swelling at the very back of my knee. I spoke with coach about what to do and I decided to just relax on the training and just shut down everything for a week. I didn’t have any ‘road’ shoes, just all of my trail running shoes and i kept running on the treadmill with occasional trails. So, since I was taking the week off, I had decided to purchase some Hoka shoes, or as I call them, my high heels. They have an extreme amount of cushioning for those longer treks and they get great reviews from the user’s, so I figured why not. I did hear some not so good news with them in regards to ankle issues and twisting ankles due to the height of the shoe, but, to me it was no big deal.

A week goes by, and my high heels come in, and it’s time for me to get back into my training schedule with just two weeks to the big show. I decided to go out easy and give these bad boys a ride. My first day back out running, I ran my fastest mile ever, an 8:04 mile, which for me was a huge accomplishment. I was really excited that the knee felt okay and that I ran well and the shoes felt okay. The very next day, I went to the same park for my scheduled timing run. I got 2 miles into the run and as I was running down a grassy hill, my foot landed on some uneven grass and, I rolled the living hell out of my ankle.

I immediately feel the grass on my ankle and feel the bones rub and slam against each other. I used to play a lot of basketball in HS and I knew this injury VERY well. “AHAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH ARRGGHH SOB!!!” is what I yelled as my body collapsed under the pain and I rolled like a child rolling in the grass down the small bunny hill.

I got right back up and just shook my head. “Dammit dude, you are a week away and this is what you do?, damn damn damn, I’m not going to tell Michelle this because she’s probably going to tell me to stop telling people she’s my coach”.

I limped back to the elemante and get home as fast as I can. I immediately throw the ankle into an ice bucket and pray that this will go down in time. So, now I have a knee that hurts and an ankle sprain, and a 55 hour race to attend. Ahhh Jose, you always have to give yourself a little something extra going into these things.

I spend the rest of the week very gingerly running and using spin class to keep my cardio some what decent.

December 29th, package pick up. It was probably about 70* outside and the day felt great. People were picking up their gear and setting up tents. I finally lay may eye’s on the course and shake my head once again on what I was about to jump into.

After setting up our palace of a tent, I went home and re-organized my entire wardrobe. I thought the weather was supposed to be cold, so I bought a few extra long sleeve shirts as well as jackets and hoodies to wear. I’ll say it now, I hate the cold weather, HATE HATE HATE. Ever since the 90+lbs of weight loss, I’ve lost a ton of my insulation and I can’t stand anything lower than 50*.

I get home, enjoy the rest of the day with the family, I make sure to get some rest and get my butt to sleep early. I get up at around 4:30a and finish packing my bag for the next 30hours or so. I knew it was hot so I threw in my short shorts, I chucked all the winter gear onto my bed and off I went. Jumped in the car and sped off. Maybe 5 minutes into the car ride I noticed that is was a little chilly. I figured, meh, WTH, it’s going to warm up anyway. So, I get to the park and hop out the car, and SOBMF it’s cold, it’s windy, and I’m in my daisy dukes.

It’s too late for me to run home and get clothes, so I’m going to have to find a way to suck it up. Luckily, I found a pair of soccer/compression socks and a couple of my under armor long sleeves and a hoody to wear. I can’t tell you how happy i was to find the long sleeves and hoody. I still had my package pick up bag in the car and they had a pair of gloves and a skull cap in it(THANK YOU JESUS!!!).

I get over to our tent and begin the quick setup. We fill up our jugs of water and Tailwind/Skratch Labs mix. I was standing at the tent taking my jeans off because it was almost time to start the madness. I had just put on my Grits and stuffed a banana down my gullet before i heard a loud air horn…..!!!

Jeremy Handson, Rachel Goyen and Chelsea were part of the crew watching over us the entire time. When I heard the horn, I looked up at Rachel and My sister and said..”Wth was that?, did the race start???” Rachel’s face said it all:

DAMMIT!!!! I ran around the back of the starting line only to see that I was the only one there and everyone else had started…I quickly caught up to the group and we being the fun. It didn’t take too long for me to get into the mix of people. Everyone immediately started joking around:
“Hey, is this the 5k line?”
“I don’t know, but are we there yet?”…

Calm down people, we have a REALLY, REALLY long time to go.

I did the first 5 loops with my laces un tied. In my haste to catch the start, I didn’t get a chance to stop and tie my laces. So I stopped and tied them finally. My daisy dukes were an awful idea. I had a patch of skin roughly 8″s that were exposed to the weather and I had hoped by mile 12 or so I’d be fine, but, I wasn’t. I had run into the aid station on one of the first loops and noticed they had a diesel burner going, it was a decent size unit, but, you can ask anyone freezing their butts off, and they’ll agree that it felt more like this:

So, my plan now was run for 4 loops, and hop into the heat and then back out. I did this for the first 26 or so miles. It worked great, however, my knee had started to really bother me at about mile 15 and my ankle was now hurting A LOT. I kept pushing though, I stopped when I had to, warmed up when I could and just kept moving. I watched Tim Necker do video updates of his recent race and thought it was a good idea and some of my friends have never seen the craziness I do, so I figured I would post on FB to give them an update:

As the day progressed, a contingent of the Houston Area Trail Runner’s had begun to show up to support the runners and to bring us food and drinks, what an awesome group of people, I’ll take this time to acknowledge every single one of my HATR members that came out to support us during this venture. Your support was paramount during this endeavor and I truly appreciate every drop of love you all shared, I really thank you all.

The next 10 or so miles went okay. I slowly began to warm up and was able to really start running with small stops and hugs and high 5’s to everyone that kept showing up. Our crew brought donuts, starbucks and other goodies, it’s not to go with out mention that my boy Mark “Real Deal” Gehringer brought home made twinkies! and it’s no surprise that i felt pretty good after eating them.

I keep on trucking and notice that around mile 40ish, that I was on pace to have another 50 Mile PR, so it was time to step on the gas, it was at this point I started to think about stopping at 50 miles and head home for a bath and clothes and some sleep. I hustled loop after loop, and a few hours later, I looked down at my watch to see that I was at 50.19 miles at 12:37…woohooo, 1hr 20min pr! Lets go the hell home!

I originally thought that because I was still in some pain that I would just shower up and come back because I didn’t want to lock up, so that was the plan. I jumped in the car and Rob knocked on the window and said that he was going to go home and sleep and be back at 7am. So I said, GREAT, lets do that. I fly home.

I throw my clothes in the wash, load up my tights and anything long sleeve and then decide to take a warm shower/bath. I did that for about 8-10 minutes and when I was getting out of the shower, the fun began.

I lifted my hurt leg up to get out of the shower and the pain that I felt in my knee went all the way into my back and I instantly got light headed and nauseous, before I could lay my foot on the ground, I began to throw up….projectile vomiting.

Here’s the funny part, my left leg is useless, my right foot is still in the slippery bath tub so i have no balance at all, so i reach down and pommel horse hold the tub so that I didn’t fall, all while puking my guts out.

Needless to say, it went everywhere, I couldn’t control it. It was pretty gross.

I ended up just sitting on the bathroom floor and….blacked out. I think I lost about 20-30 minutes before dragging myself into my bedroom and falling asleep on the carpet, I couldn’t help but think, “man, that’s a new one”.

4:30a, I wake up, dammit! I wanted to head back out last night, but, oh well, I drag myself up and get dressed, and head back out to the park. Some folks were still chugging along, they actually went through the night! How awesome are these guys and gals.

I’m back out here around 6:30 or so, chugging along to get more mileage. I was able to kind’ve run/hobble once again, but still kept moving. I think around 9 or so my left foot/ankle was in an incredible amount of pain, luckily Debbie(Becky, who never corrected me xo) was out there and was able to k-tape my ankle up so I could get some more miles in. As I sat waiting, Rob had now passed me a few times and kept yelling at me to get off my ass and run, to which I replied, “shut the hell up, you’re not the boss of me”.

Foot is wrapped, and I’m back out with a slow jog and knocking back mileage. The HATR crew starts to show up once again and they were a huge emotional boost, first Lisa shows up for a second day, Liz brought her kiddos, so did Patty, Daniel came out, Mark Kenney brought his family out for another day, Alida, Rosie and so many more, it was so awesome, I honestly can’t thank you guys enough.

No matter how much I hurt, I wanted to make sure they got to see me at least run a few loops while they took time away from their families to come cheer us on. I did hit a point where Lisa walked a loop with me around the park. She asked me how I felt and every time I told her what hurt, she would say “Well yeah, because that’s where your vagina is”.

We keep marching on, knocking back mileage. I was in an extreme amount of pain, but, we had reminders around the course of kids who either lost their precious lives to cancer, or were survivors, so there was no amount of pain I could go through that would ever compare to what these beautiful kids have gone through or the struggle the parents had to endure. I’ve lost people in my life, some of which I still hurt for everyday, and I could not and hope and pray that NO ONE has to ever go through the loss of a child, my heart goes out to every family that has to deal with that type of situation.

It was at this point, my march/run was hideous, I was swinging my arms like a mad man to help give me some momentum to keep my legs going:

Plenty of folks would ask me, “hey man, are you going to make it? are you okay? who did you fight? what truck hit you? to which I would reply, “What??? I feel great man, I’m awesome!!!!!”

The reply to me:

“Really? cause you look like sh*”

I forget what time it was, but it was starting to get dark and as I was pulling up to our make shift aid station, I look up to see two guys walking towards me on the loop, I see this huge smile and notice it’s Robert Smith and Gerardo Moreno(Team Gazelle)!, holy cow, these guys came all the way out here just to support us??? Man they are awesome.

We knock out some more mileage and hear that Rob was about to finish his 100th mile, along with a few other people that were now getting their buckles. A few people that were finishing, I felt, I wasn’t too far behind them. I checked with Jeremy on my mileage and he told me that something was off and that there was no way some of these people were finishing and they had to get more mileage, so, i thought, oh well, I’ll just keep going to the next update, and thats what I did. I kept chugging along. I knew that around 8pm the next update would tell me exactly what mile I was on, and what more I needed to do. I had lost track of my mileage somewhere around mile 80ish(how crazy does that sound?) I couldn’t wait for the damn update to see where I was and how much I had left. According to our calculations, I couldnt have too much more, but, I didn’t take into account the amount of stopping to drink gallons of chicken broth and warming up and waiting for my ankle to get wrapped.

8:30ish or so, Rob and Rachel had come back to the scene after heading home for a shower and a change of clothes. I walked into our aid station after hearing the time was updated. I hear Chels say that she heard the mileage was off:

WHAT? what do you mean off? where am i? more or less? am I done???? I hear her say 90.4……….no damn way…that’s impossible, I have to be further than that right?. Jeremy had walked up behind me looking at his phone and he didn’t even flinch, this is why I love this guy.

“Jeremy, where the hell am i man”

“Yeah, okay, here is the deal, lets keep moving, and you have about 13 more loops and we go home, you’re at 90.4”

“WHAT????, NO WAY MAN, NO, NO NO NO NO NO gdammit, no

I got so angry at myself for being so far behind, 13 loops means almost 2 more hours of pain and suffering, I came really close to picking up the 5 gallon jug and tossing it, but, I didn’t have enough legs to do so, so I just took off running.

Rob said when he saw my face and watched me take off, that I looked like I was running a 6 minute mile. I was so unbelievably angry at that moment. I must have done that loop in 8 minutes. The head band I was wearing was pissing me off and when jeremy and I got back into the tent, I wanted my snow drop hat and no one knew where it was, Chelsea told me that it was in the trunk of my car, so I ran to the car and almost drop kicked the back window to open it so I could get the damn hat. I find the hat after throwing my child like tantrum and take off once again. I think I did 3 loops before I finally calm down and realize I’m going to burn out doing this. Jeremy was now running around with me and I looked over and asked him what’s up with the mileage count? He said the timing had only 2 people finishing the 100 because no one really knew what the mileage was. Timing was shown every 5-8hrs, so we all had a little bit of confusion closer to the end, however, I started to wonder if people would have to come back out and finish.

“Rob is done though right? or does he have more?”

“I had him at 95 when they said he finished and the clock says 95”
“no way man, really? so that means everyone that finished might have more mileage?”
“Well, look at it this way, shut up and keep pushing and you’re the 3rd official 100 mile finisher and you’ll be 2nd male”
“What??, really?”
“Yeah dude, lets go get it”

I put my head down and begin the charge. I’m able to shuffle a 4-4.8 mile an hour pace. I’m in pain and I’m excited at the fact that I had probably 8 more loops to go.

With 8 loops to go, this means i’m at 96 miles? I think almost everyone was unsure about mileage, but, who cares, it’s about the cause at this point and holy hell Jose, you’re at 96 miles of running, how in the hell is this even happening? It was at this point in the race that I began to get a bit emotional. I didn’t know why, I just began to sob, I had tears running down my face, my legs were hurting, my knees were on fire and I would occasionally stop and bend over in pain. I’ve never experienced this much pain before, not even at Cactus Rose and let me tell you, that frigg’n hurt.

We started the count down, 7 more loops, 6 more loops, Rob had gotten up to walk a few more loops because he wasn’t sure what was going on with his mileage either and he wanted to do the 5 more miles, just in-case.

I caught up to him around loop 3, and he went to give me a high 5 and a hug, but i didn’t want to stop, I wanted this to be over. I high 5 him real quick and floor it, I look down at my watch that was now dying and we’re running 10 minute miles. I had caught up to Bill Cox around loop 7 and he told me he had 3 more loops to get 100, so my 2nd male to finish was out of the question and I knew the total mileage overall wouldn’t last long because a few folks had planned to be back out on Wed to log some more miles. I joking told Bill that he better hurry his ass up because I was coming for him and we both laughed, there was no way in hell I was catching him.

2 more to go, I fly by the aid station and I can hear Patty over the loudspeaker say may name and that I had just 2 more loops to go and I would be finished with 100 miles. Again, I begin to sob, and yet, I don’t know why.

The loop is done, 99.x miles in and this is the last .76, the volunteers and folks that were waiting for New Years to ring in were applauding and cheering me on.

Half way into the last loop, I hit 100 miles. Jeremy looks over at me and says “oooohh boy, you bad mother f, 100 damn miles”…and I can feel my cheeks crack through the dried tears as i’m ecstatic to know I hit the 100 mile mark finally.

We pause for a quick selfie as his timer/mileage said I hit 100.6:

We start off again, hobbling, shuffling to the finish line. I pass a few people that I had made friends with during our journey and let them know I was finally done and to just keep going and to keep up the good fight.

Just a few more yards and I can hear everyone at the finish line yelling and cheering me on to finish.

As I made that final turn to the finish line, I couldn’t believe it was just a short 15 months ago that I started running. Just 15 months ago, I got my fat behind off the couch and tried this running deal to see what it was all about, little did I know the changes that would occur in my life. I’ve met a large group of people with huge hearts and they are a constant inspiration and influence in my life.

I mentioned to a few friends and strangers that I was going to attempt this race and everyone would ask the question all ultra runners are continuously asked: Why?

This race boiled down to just one thing, and that’s the Snow Drop foundation and raising it’s awareness, I figured that if I could plant a seed or start a conversation where someone would say

“Man I know this guy that said he’s going to try and run for 100 miles for some charity for pediatric cancer”….then I win.

I satisfy a purpose, someone who didn’t know about Snow Drop, now knows about it and someone out there now knows it’s possible for someone to run 100 miles.

A whole bunch of hours and mileage later, I cross the finish line:

I would like to thank my family for all their continued support, Rob Goyen for bringing me out on the trails, the entire HATR family and all my friends for rooting me on and for the constant support throughout the two days of running.

A very special thank you to Kevin Kline for sharing his story and creating a race such as this one. To all the volunteers and friends and Trish as well as Patty for doing an amazing job for an inaugural race.

Thank you all!

Happy New Year everyone, may 2014 be a year of awakening and growth.

Keep Kick’n!

So, I just wanted to do a  write up on using Tailwind for the first time, ever.  

A quick note, I decided to try tailwind because I can’t drink gatorade, ensure, heed, nuun tabs or hammer anything during training or running.

I get awful cramps and severe bubble guts.

I decided to do some quick research on TW(tailwindnutrition.com) after a runner at Cactus Rose 50 told me about it.  I saw that it was created by an Ultra Runner who couldn’t use the plethora of items available to athletes i.e.  energy bars, GU’s, beans, coke, etc…etc…

The website said this product was specifically made to be the best stuff out there and to cancel the need for any other product, so, as a skeptic, I said, “Well, they can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t  true, so………”.


The package lists the Calories and Sodium per scoop as:

100 Calories

303mg Sodium

Directions called for 1-2 scoops in  large 24oz bottles.

So that equates out to roughly,  200cal 606mg Sodium per bottle(we’ll just focus on these two for the sake of conversation).

The week leading up to Wild Hare, I decided to pass by REI and pick up a couple of Camelback Chill(21) water bottles.  Thanks Emma!

My nutrition the week leading up to WH50 was basic, no carb loading just regular eating.

The morning of WH50, I filled an Evamore bottle(64oz) with 5 Scoops of TW:

500 Cal

1515mg Sodium

I filled my water bottles with 2 scoops ea. with a total of 400cal 1212mg sodium. So pre race, I just consumed
900 Cal
2727mg Sodium

This was my routine as I came through every main aid station(7.8Miles).

So let’s include the pre race mixture, my total caloric and sodium intake for the day was(strictly from TW):

900 Cal x 6 Loops = 5,400Calories

2727mg Sodium x 6 Loops = 16,362mg Sodium

Total with morning drink:

6300 Calories
19,089mg Sodium

Good Grief!!!

Does that sound like a lot? I don’t know, for someone who never really pays attention to that sort of thing, I’m going to say yes, but, being a 230+lb runner, it might be the right amount of numbers for my body.

I did have an organic banana smothered in Nutella during the main aid station stop so you could add some more calories and sugar into those numbers, I did also take 6 Electrolyte tabs, and my buddy Rob made an energy ball that was basically a meatball of calories and other goodies and tasted like the bee’z knee’z!….however, I did all this out of habit, I wasn’t sure if TW was going to live up to the hype, so I did take in some other nutrition, I didn’t eat anywhere near as much as I usually do during a race.

I’m usually the guy using the aid stations as my buffet table.

The Taste:

Organic Lemon.

Let me just say it tastes a LOT better with ice or cold water.  The consistency is a bit “thick”, it kind of feels like water that is about to ‘freeze’, so it feels a little heavy originally(TW also sent me a naked flavor, which had a lighter consistency).

I did get used to the flavor fairly quick and consistency wasn’t bad while running. Maybe the bouncing of the bottles on the vest really gave the bottle a really good shaking.


I can’t say I have one? I did have a bit of the bubble guts around mile 20 or so, but I also ate some of Lisa’s awesome Tortellini and beef pasta.  So I don’t know if that gave me a bout of the bubbles(NO offense blue), but, I know I was fine after using the restroom and finishing the day on just the TW alone.

The cost is $34.99 for a 3lb bag & $19.99 for a 1.5lb bag.

In conclusion, I felt great throughout my entire race at WH50, I felt energized the entire day, no luls, no cramps, no pains, and after some early mileage tightness, my muscles were nice and loose and I felt awesome at the end of the race.




These are just my opinions of a product I used and worked well for me.  I really did enjoy the quick shipping and great customer service TW did provide.

I know TW will be my go to, for future runs and races and I feel like I can drop using the GU’s, permanently.

Jose, out!

Wild Hare Roller coaster!


Welp, it’s another Friday, another day of shuffling stuff together and your usual panic

 ………..you know what, let’s tell this adventure properly, I’ll set the precursor, and then you guys can read a story filled with bad decision’s, smiles, tears and a very special lesson to be learned:
“Greatness, is not this wonderful,esoteric, elusive, God like feature, that, only the special among us will ever attain, it’s something that truly exists, in ALL OF US”
We’ll start this one with the months leading up to Wild Hare.  I attempted to race the UROC 100k in September which turned out to be a humbling, awe inspiring experience, oh yeah, and a damn DNF.
I didn’t train well for UROC run because of previous injuries and also, I was diagnosed with exercise induced asthma(oh boo hoo).

I had a blast at UROC, but when I was done, I was determined to lose more weight and try to figure out a game plan to get rid of this loose skin in my mid section from the

90lb weight loss.  So, I decided to take a break from running and focus strictly on eating different and lifting weights.  I felt like I either needed to train to run faster or, train to lose weight, but I couldn’t do both.  So, I chose to just lose the weight and get stronger.


The decision was to try out something my buddy Jeremy told me about(www.leangains.com)and I figured, why not.

After about a month, I found, that I lost some more weight and saw gains a LOT faster then my previous attempts at weight loss and muscle gain.   Since I was making some progress(6lb drop in weight and visible muscle build) I decided to skip the Cactus Rose 50 Mile and continue on my program.
I volunteered at cactus rose, I ran around to several aid stations and played Team Mom.
It was a awesome day, and an unbelievably great time with everyone from our running group and the community at CR.


Even though my heart was filled with joy, I felt as though something was missing, like a void in my day, like, I was left behind on the good time, but, I knew what it was, it was the running, it was the trails, the atmosphere of sharing a challenge with strangers, and even though my program was working, I needed to hit the trails and train for something.
I wanted to race again, but this time, I wanted some structure instead of uncertainty.  I wanted some actual direction from someone who knows what to do and how to do it.  So, I reached out to Michele Yates( http://www.dreamliverun.com/)and spoke to her about helping out with some direction on how to do this “running” thing properly and how a 1yr rookie to running and former super fat guy can get better, faster, and more importantly, healthier.
Within a few interactions, Michele came with up a game plan to begin training and this game plane began on Nov 6th, just a week and half prior to WH.


Up to this point, I haven’t been running much, maybe 5 miles a week and not one on trails.

I told Michele that I had a race/pace/celebratory race coming up and I wasn’t too serious about it because I had no clue what was going to happen and we could schedule through it, and, so she did.  I now needed to try and figure out a game plan for my shoe choice.  I’ve tried several brands over the short year and the only shoe that seemed to work well, has been the Brooks Cascadias.  The problem is, I love a light weight shoe and something with some give, so I always end up starting a run with my Salomon S-Labs and then throw the Cascadias on to help get me through the finish.

So I reached out to the group of Tejas Trails and asked some questions about the lighter shoe that brooks may have, I was told the PureGrits were pretty good, SO, I bought a pair, and they got to my door that friday morning, the day prior to WH, I also received a package from Tailwind(www.tailwindnutritons.com), a powder a runner during CR50 told me about that gives you all the nutrition you need(save for protein) so you don’t have to rely and GU’s other foods that upset your stomach.  I’ve never tried it before, and so I figured, “meh, lets try it tomorrow….at wild hare”

So, my recipe for disaster has been made, and is now ready to be boiled, cooked and served on a plate.

And now, for the main attraction:
Lisa Danielson.


I met Lisa Danielson at one of our group runs at it’s early stages.  Lisa and I somehow ended up at the back of our pack and as always, I strike up a conversation, “So, Lisa is it?, what the hell brings you out here?” and Lisa begins to tell me about her running, and how she DNF’d at the same exact spot at the Grasslands 50M that I DNF’d at Grasslands.  We began talking about what went wrong during that run and the battles we had with the rain and hail, and then Lisa told me about her recent battle with Cancer and how well she came out of that process head held high and going after anything she wants and that she wanted a 50 mile run under her belt or even a 60k and I instantly thought of all the troubles my mother went through with her fight against cancer and how it effected her life and I thought to myself, this woman is awesome!
I think I completely jumped in her parade and asked if I could pace her at any event because I would love to be apart of it and she chuckled and said “sure, if you want to”, so, I believe, she said she wanted to do a Captain Karls 60k and I wanted to try one as well,  so I told her I’m in!

It was a 4 part series that on the very first race, broke me down and made me almost quit.  The second one I found that I now had exercise induced asthma, and the 3rd I just didn’t want to run, and that was the 60k Lisa chose, and, I left her hanging, I was so disappointed at myself for not going on that ride with Lisa and I felt really bad that she went out there and put out her best efforts, only to miss the cut off.  I told her at that race, we’re kicking the next one’s tail, sadly, at that next race, we could only get one loop in the books before major fatigue took over Lisa, and I felt like her health was at risk, so we decided to hang up the shoe’s and call this one done.  After that run, we talked during one of our Group Runs about what her plans were for her next attempt, Lisa mentioned that her Bday fell on her survival date and it also fell on the same day as wild hare, so, she wanted to do another run of the amount of miles, she is young.

So the previous year she ran 41 miles for her bday and for a great cause, and this year, she wanted to try 42 miles and then see what happens for the rest…so I told her, “I’m in Lisa, I’m all in that”…(thats what she said(expect a lot of this)).

So, here we go, it’s friday night, Lisa is knocked out in her tent, and I’m rolling into the camp site to meet up with runners and fellow runners of the HATR’s.  We all talk about expectations and we were all excited about the venue and the amount of people we had coming to the big dance.  I still didn’t know what I was signing up for, I had 30+ day’s of non running and I wasn’t too sure where Lisa was in her training, when I did ask her via text or when I saw her, her answer was always “meh, i’m running, and dealing with sh*t, so we’ll see”

My initial thought was, well, I don’t want to DNF another 50, so I”ll pace her as far as i can, hopefully break the 50k mark and then one of the plethora of folks that show up could pace her in for her bday.  I made sure to email Joe P the race director to ask if this was okay and what the plans were and Joe was okay with it as long as it didn’t effect the timing.

Morning comes and i go sign up for the 50k.  I put on my new grits after ripping the Marshalls tag off of them, I make my powdered drinks, I eat a banana, I chug a bunch of water, and laugh that this is the first time i didn’t “carb load” prior to a run and how ill prepared I was for this, but, oh well, it’s Lisa’s bday, lets have fun.  Wait, I did carb load, the day prior, my sister and I went to iHop for a short stack of pancakes and hash browns.  Did I hydrate? Um, I had maybe a 1/2 a gallon of water on friday, nothing more.  Up until this point, I ate regular meals all week.

We get up to the line with a nice brisk chill in the air.  We hear the countdown, and, we are off!  Running out of a barn(which was pretty cool), we get out onto the trail, hugging the back of the pack, and we begin talking about the day, how great we both feel and how today was ‘going to be interesting’.

The first adjustment loop went okay, we kept a decent pace, nothing super fast, and not walking, but, we did walk the uphills and ran when we could.  We get out into the beginning of the 4 mile loop or 4.6 or whatever it was, i didn’t even know the mileage breakdown.  We started to slowly traverse down the first downhill and found the trail wasn’t too bad compared to the previous tejas trails events and Lisa and I both said, “you know what, if the terrain is basically this the whole way, we might be okay today”,

This folks, is where that demon, that mind altering decease crept into my little brain for the first time, some of you might know it, it’ll make you do things, things you never thought in your wildest dreams you could do………it was Belief.

My mind went from uncertainty, to,  “We can do this, and we’re going to do everything we can to make it”.
We get through the first miles, I don’t know what they are even now, I’m guessing it was a like 10 miles? and as we ran through the barn for the first loop, I saw Joe out the corner of my eye, and as Lisa ran into the ladies room, I told Joe:

“Hey bud, I’m going the whole ride with the birth day girl, I need to bump myself up to the 50 mile, So I gotta give you some cash and get my chip going”, once Joe figured out what I was doing, he smiled and said go ahead man, go get it”

Lisa gets out ahead and I share some quick talk with the group at the tent, I refill my Tailwind drink(64oz about 500 cal and a bunch of Sodium) I get back out and have a quick conversation with a sweet lady that was doing her first, I believe 50k or 50m and she was nervous, I told her to have fun and enjoy the day, told her my plans for the day and we shared a laugh and a kick.  She had the nerve to tell me we were her hero’s? lol, I laugh about it and say no YOU”RE my hero, go have a blast!

I catch up to Lisa as we start our second loop and she immediately calls me out, “what this about you only registering for the 50k?” and I told her my thoughts and my plans for dropping, which, i could tell in her voice she got a bit irritated that I didn’t sign up for the whole thing.  I immediately tell her, listen, I like the way she was moving and the fact that at this point I felt great and there is just something about today, that made me feel that as long as we stay positive, this was ours for the taking.  She said okay, and let me slide.

It wasn’t too long before the HATR crew that were doing the 50k and 25k’s caught us and past us, everyone was wishing Lisa a happy bday and everyone telling us to have fun and good luck, we were all having a really good time through this event.

Typically, at around 20 miles, something happens, either I trip, i get hurt, some type of cramping, some type of boo hoo moment occurs, however, at this point, I don’t know what was going on, but, we were marching on. I felt great, Lisa was looking awesome and we were both in extremely high spirits and we were really having fun just hanging out and talking about life’s trial and tribulations.

I think Lisa fell twice out there, both times she got up and shook it off and ran, the only time I heard her yell in some kind’ve pain, was when her stitches from her port, that was removed the week prior to the race…………yes, you read that right, Lisa was going after this day with stitches in her chest.  I had asked her at the beginning of the race what she was doing about it and she told me that she had some gause and some ktape and she was good to go(damn you’re awesome kiddo).  We joked around a lot, each and every time we had a chance to act like teenagers, we did….”Damn Lisa, I didn’t remember that hill being so hard the first time we did it…….”thats what she said”….”aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh” smh, that literally went on for the entire run, all 13+ hours, and, it never got old.

We trucked through the main aid station still keeping a decent pace, we caught up with other runners that had looped us or were on their second to last loop, when both Lisa and realized that we were probably going to be coming into the 1/2 point, ahead of the cut off, and we both were in pretty damn good shape.  We had kept our aid station visits short, got the bare necessities and were back out on the course.  It was at this point, is when we realized, okay, this is about to get serious, we feel pretty good for two under trained maroons out in the wilderness trying to attack 50 miles, so what do we need to do to get there? Mileage check!

Well, if we get into this 1/2 way point, that means we have to make it to the 42 mile cut off before 12hours and that put us at a deadline where we had to really grind out some faster miles through this loop.  For some moronic reason, I thought the aid station break down was 3.5 then 7.8 to the next, and every time we came to the main aid station, I was thinking, “how the hell did we do 7 miles so fast?”  This helped out though, because hearing people and thinking we were doing 7.8mile loops in under an hour while hiking and semi running, made me think we were really kicking ass.

So at this point, the grits that I was trying for the first time still felt pretty good.  I did feel some pain in the top of my right foot that felt like I twisted it, but up until that point, I hadn’t.  So I threw on my cascadia’s and got on the trail and told Lisa, “We have to beat this damn cut off Lisa, it’s time we move, we can do this!, Lisa tells me she’s ready to roll and roll we did.  We began to dig, we were running harder, hiking harder, maintaining a constant pace.  We started to see people again, we caught a few of the back packers of the 50k and I know what an emotional boost it can be to catch up to people in the latter portion of the race, so I made sure Lisa heard that we were catching up to folks cause I knew she would love the moral jump, boy was I in for a surprise.

As we got to the aid station, I asked one of the volunteers what the cut off was, and the guy told me we had to finish the next loop and make it back to this aid station by 6pm, which meant we had to do the 8’ish miles damn fast, which didn’t make sense, once Lisa and I got back out,  Lisa said we had to make the main aid station by 6, then fight the next cut off, so we were re-focused and got back on the grind, we get to a section where it gets pretty flat and straight for the most part and I’m keeping a decent pace, enough to keep us moving, but not to wear us out, and Lisa sneaks up behind me and says, hey, mind if I go in front? and I laugh, and I say, well, ass watching rotation is due, so get up front, and she takes off!  I looked down at my watch and noticed that i was running at 11:04 pace, Lisa had now gotten about 2-300′ in front of me and almost out of sight, and I couldn’t help but shake my head and say “Where the hell is this woman pulling this out from AND, you sorry a**, you better get going, god forbid you don’t finish this race, the amount of sh*t Lisa would give you would be never ending”.

I finally catch back up and we’re back to our pace, pushing strong and grinding out some really hard miles.  We were breathing hard and grunting………..(insert bad joke here) and we were starting to believe, we can really, really do this, it’s going to be hard, it’s going take a lot, but it can be done.

We were still uneventful at this point and we both shared the fact that this was the first race we weren’t fighting some kind’ve injury, or something stupid.  Lisa started to let out her well deserved frustrations “Gdammit Jose, I can see it, it’s in my grasp, it’s close, i want this, I’m sick and tired of DNF’ing, I’m sick and tired of hurting, F* pain, F* cancer, I want this”.  I smiled, and I said, “Okay Lisa, lets go get it, we are here, so why the hell not”

We got to the campsite and got to a section of the race where the mileage fell at mile 42, Lisa’s original goal of running 42 miles for her bday gift to herself and I looked back at Lisa and said:

“hey girl, happy birthday” and Lisa said, awww thanks and I said, “no Lisa, we’re at mile 42, happy birth day”

Her realization of what she just did, sunk in, we hit the first cut off with 30 minutes to spare.  Lisa began to cry a little and started to sob, but that was short lived, because, now we had another cut off to make the 50 miles.

Our group managing the tent realized as well as Lisa and I, that, we were about to do something special, we were about to fight our way through beating that finish time cut off and get Lisa her damn 50 mile finisher medal.  We made some quick changes of shoes and liquids and got the hell out of the Aid station(The decision to jump in the cascadia’s were instantly regrettable, so back in my new grits I go)

I get out in front of Lisa and see Joe who looks at his watch and says “hey man, you’ve got 2:20 minutes, you can do it, it’s going to be hard, but you can do it, no fooling around”

I begin the trek into the night.  I had some doubt left in my mind, it was now night time and we both had previously talked about how we didn’t like running at night and how it slowed us down….well guess what, now we had to speed the hell up, in the dark.  I got out a few hundred feet out, just enough for Lisa’s light to be in my vision and mine in hers.  I kept yelling back to Lisa “WE CAN DO THIS LISA, I BELIVE IN YOU, I BELIVE IN THIS, LETS GO!”

I  began to have thoughts of my grandmother and how much I missed her, I started to think about my fiance and how wild life has been since I lost them both.  I started to tear up thinking about them looking down at me and hearing the conversation of my grand mother saying “Boy, you’re crazy” and Anna saying “HURRY UP, YOU’RE RUNNING OUT OF TIME YOU LOSER!!!!” I started running really strong, and then realized i was way too fired up at this moment and got a little too far ahead and although I felt like I could now keep a 10minute mile or even better, a 9 minute mile, I also thought, “Hey man, this isn’t about you, it’s Lisa’s day, hold the damn phone”, so, I waited, I didn’t just stop and wait, last thing I needed was Lisa to roll up on me sitting down, so I made sure to keep a pace where she could close the gap, and she did.

Lisa caught up to me and had the nerve to tell me “hey buddy, go do what you gotta do, i understand” or some foolishness to which I said

“kiss my ass, we either both don’t hit the cut off time, OR, we cross the GD finish line holding hands”, Lisa chuckled and said “okay fine”.

On the grind we go, we get to the Spaghetti Bend sign and I flip that sign off and tell it good bye, it was the last time we’d have to see that GD sign!.

We march into the aid station as the volunteers  waited for us to come through.  We grab some quick drinks and get the hell out again.  I looked down at my watch and noticed that we had exactly 1:10 to do the next section of the course, the 4 or 4.8 or whatever it was.  I told Lisa we had 10 minutes of foolery time, but we had to finish with extra time and I didn’t want to cut it too close.

We are marching into this section of the course knowing exactly what’s up ahead, “okay we got this long downhill, then 2’ish long hills and we can run again.  So this is exactly what we did, we get to the decent of a steep hill.  As we’re climbing down, I notice headlamps, I tell Lisa to look, we’re about to catch up to someone else, lets boogie!  I get out in front again and notice I got a little too far out in front of Lisa.  I couldn’t see her head lamp and I began yelling her name and heard nothing, I instantly thought, “holy crap, she fell over….and I don’t have the energy to drag her body out to the road……this. sucks”…and then, here she comes…”Sorry, I had a little girl emergency”… we were off again, I looked down at my watch that was now beginning to beep because the battery was dying.  I knew my mileage was off on my watch, but I saw that we had run about a mile away from the aid station, so we should only have about 3 more to go with about 30 minutes to go? I think….maybe less, hell, I don’t know, I know we need to hurry the hell up.

Lisa was truly battling her ass off.  Everytime we did a check in of each other: “keep turning your feet” Lisa would tell me that she felt like she burnt out trying to hustle through that last loop and I agreed, but I didn’t care, because this is show time.

I’m not exactly sure what the mileage was, but my watch died on us through that last back mileage.  It stopped 25:12, with just under 3 miles to go, at least, thats what I think, so, we had to really move.

photo (5)

At this point, I knew how my body felt at a certain pace and we had to easily be in the low 11’s or high 10’s, it felt like we were doing 8mph, but, I knew we were going to cut this really really close.  We could start to hear the main aid station cheering finishers on, I kept telling Lisa “this is yours, do you here those applause?, can you feel that finish you’ve worked so hard for? it’s your Lisa, it’s yours, lets go”

We came up to a section of the course that makes a hard right turn before entering camp and we knew at this point the hills are done, the down hills are finished, it’s pretty flat and we have to really sprint.

We get closer to camp and I see folks cooking dinner and they began cheering us on.  I started asking what time it was so I would know how close we were to the finish, “what time is it???, hey what time is it? I yelled and Lisa yelled, Shut up, shut up!, I don’t want to know, it’s not going to make me go any faster, i’m giving it all i got..” and I said…yeah it will, but okay…lets shake…we get right up to camp and we can hear the crowd waiting for us yelling “HURRY THE HELL UP, YOU’VE GOT 5 MINUTES” and I had no idea what was left in regards to mileage, but, I stepped on the gas.

I started yelling back at Lisa:

Ignore the pain, you’ve worked too damn hard, the pain will go away, but this story, this amazing journey is all yours, no one can take this away from you”

….I make a quick right on the trail…and there it is, the best sight i could possibly see, I mean, it felt like Ive never seen the barn before, but we saw it 6 times already, but not with this on our shoulders.

I heard someone yell..”You’re pacing someone, don’t leave them behind” and I see the clock say 13:5x and I knew we had it, we battled all day, we shared stories of our youth, our faults, our troubles everything that could have brought us to this moment.

We went through pain together, we shared a kick and smile for 13+ hours and for 50 miles, and here it is, our big finish.

Lisa catchs me and we run next to each other coming into the finish line, we are laughing and yelling, everyone at the finish line that waited for us to finish was now at a frenzy.  The support from our group, strangers and other runners was overwhelming.

Right as we got into the barn, Lisa and I both reached down to hold hands as we crossed through the finish line, with just 2 minutes left on the time clock, we finished.

We accomplished something that I honestly didn’t expect to happen at all.

I had no idea what was going to happen on this day, I did have some thoughts about possibly finishing a 50mile that day, but, I thought it was a pipe dream.  You’re undertrained, no way in hell are you ready.  Lisa just had her port removed and is running with stitches, and hasn’t really trained much and was battling fatigue and a slew of other issues all season, completing 50 miles was a stretch of the imagination, it was borderline unrealistic.

Unrealistic, it’s a funny word sometimes.  Flying through the air like a bird was once unrealistic, speaking to someone over the phone that’s thousands of miles away seemed unrealistic at one point, but, someone, somewhere will do something that changes the course of where un-realistic becomes, real.

I thought it was unrealistic to think I would finish a 50 mile run after being so unprepared, but, then, I remembered a quote from one of my favorite authors:

“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream”

– Paulo Coehlo The Alchemist

I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I would have shared such an amazing journey with such a wonderful person.

I’ll never, ever, ever forget this day, Lisa has permanently etched her heart, her smile and her big blue eye’s into my heart and I’m so glad I found my way into her life.  I’ve always tried to surround myself with the “Why Not” individuals, the individuals that say; “Hey, you’re thinking about doing what? Okay, Why not, lets do this”

Some people that have gone through fighting cancer, near death experiences or who have lost something really important, usually know the one great thing in life, and that is, life truly is short.  We have absolutely NO idea what’s beyond life, for all we know, when we get put in a box, that’s it, it’s just a box that you look at for eternity, we hope for paradise and candy canes and rainbows, but we have no idea what happens.  What we do know is we are alive now, and we can lose this life at any point for any reason, it happens every, single day.  So, WHY NOT, live today? Why not have a dream and go for it? Why NOT do something out of the ordinary? WHY NOT?

Lisa, I truly admire your vigor for life and your strength through pressing times.  I know you are destined for great things and I can’t wait to see it all come to fruition.  You will always have a place in my heart and I’m truly proud to call you a friend.

I’d like to thank all of the members of the HAT’r crew.  My sister Chelsea for hanging out at another event and cheering me on, to the amazing people who continue to attend these event’s and cheer each other on as we battle the trail, our fears, and over coming adversity.

Special thanks to Joe, Joyce and everyone else involved with the Tejas Trails group for putting on yet another wonderful event and of course, to the volunteers, for ‘sticking’ through the bee’s and helping us out.

Keep kicking gang!




“If you just don’t quit, your darkest hour, is often, just before dawn, and things just get better”

– Gordy Ainsleigh

June 21st. The Friday before Captain Karls Ultra Night Run. A 60k night run through the Texas Hill country, hosted by Joe Pistorious and tejastrails.com. It’s not my first Tejas Trail run, but it was going to be my 2nd (pace type) of run and my 1st night time race.

I told several runners of our club, The Houston Area Trail Runners, that if they wanted to do their first 30k trail run, that I would run with them. I had no interest in attempting the 60k run at all, simply because my last two races ended with a DNF, due to severe foot pains and then my next race was Hells Hills, which I completed, but had severe stomach issues compounded the foot pain I had from the DNF 2 weeks before.

Several weeks before the run I decided to sign up for the 60k only because I seem to have a deep admiration for being some sort of affection for masochism. I promised several members of the group, (Reyna, Laura & Marie; all of which have done a marathon or ½ marathon, but never a Joe-athon) that I would be there for them. I figured if I can just run with them for the first loop and pace them properly, I’d be able to put myself through another loop of 18.6miles and maybe, just maybe, I would be able to chase down my buddy Rob, and by chase down, I mean finish less than an hour or two behind him. Boy o’ boy, was I in for a roller coaster.

Friday is coming to a close and as usual, I still didn’t have my bags packed, nor did I have fuel for the race or my handhelds. I was supposed to have dinner with Rob & Jeremy that evening and then sleep in early so we could get some rest for the next day. Those plans were shot and I didn’t have dinner with them. Instead, I ate at the house and packed my bags. I got to Rob’s late. We chatted, laughed and tested some lights from Petzl, one of which, I used on this race.(Write up coming soon) Now, It’s bedtime.

We get up early and get out on the road. Tents & banners packed, we are out on the road and it’s our usual road trip to these events. A stop at Buckee’s, plenty of music and vulgar jokes/thoughts, and strategy talk about the race before us.

We pull into Johnson City, a small town on the outside of Austin,TX. We got in a little early so we could go to the race site and meet with the organizer. We setup camp and go see the trails. It was at this point that, any apprehension I had going into the race, was completely flushed out by overwhelming excitement. Now begins the experience of racing. “Here we go baby!!!”

We finish setting up our gear and check in to the hotel. We all sit down, relax, and try to calm our nerves. Jeremy had intentions of pacing someone that had never run an Ultra before and Rob and I somehow managed to convince Jeremy that he should give the 60k a shot…….and so, he did, at package pick up(sucker!).

I put on a movie for us to watch….“Unbreakable-Western States 100”. A 2hr documentary on the Western States 100 & the birth of Ultra Running, as well as a profile of the 4 of the best and undefeated Ultra Runners at that time( Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka, Kilian Jornet, and Hal Koerner ). If you haven’t had a chance to see this film, as an Ultra Runner/Runner, it should be on your watch list.

It’s a little after 4pm now and we are fired up to run. We head out the door and to the race site.

The environment is awesome as always. A bunch of like-minded individuals, are all talking and laughing amongst one another and sharing stories of life and races. I check in with Marie and Laura and they are both in high spirits, but hating the heat. The 3rd lady of the group Reyna (My Wife) was in a car accident just prior to the race, so under advisement she did not run. She still came out to support us all.

It’s race time-

7pm rolls around and the 60k folks head out of the gate. I wish the runners luck and hug Rob and tell him the usual….”I love you kiddo, Nothing stops you, go get what you came for”. As the runners take off, I get setup for the run. I do my pre warm up, check out the trails, and with 2 minutes to show time, I do my ritual Maori Haka and then say a quick hello to the man above.

Waiting for the countdown, Jeremy, Daniel, Laura and Marie find me in the cattle herd.

The crowds energy is buzzing, everyone is anxious, family & friends watching us are all getting excited, and then the clock whines down and every starts the countdown 4!!!!……3!!!!!!!…..2!!!!!….1……..and we’re off!

We get out and on to the single trail which leads down to the river loop, just about .55 mile in. We run down some rough terrain and onto an amazing view of the river floor. We enjoy this for about 10 minutes and then it was up a rocky climb to the fence line. Marie had decided to run up ahead with Daniel and Laura stayed tucked behind me, matching step for step through the first 4.97 miles to the aid station. At about mile 3, we had caught up with Marie who looked to be having a hard time with the terrain. Marie is a very strong marathon runner (in my book) but these damn joe-a-thons have a way of kicking you in the stomach. Marie mentioned the sand was bothering her hip, but she put her head down and kept chugging along. We get to the first aid station to fuel up, eat some Pringles, bananas and dirt. Get back out and I tell them, “Okay ladies, that’s one down, we have 3.55 to the next and we’ll keep chopping them down”. We kept a moderate pace and had some conversation, I noticed Marie was now falling back a bit which concerned me. We pulled into the Windmill aid station and began fueling up. As I watched Marie come into the aid station I noticed she didn’t look good. I looked over to Daniel and Laura and told them to take off and that we would catch up to them. Laura didn’t want to take off but I told her that she would be alright and Daniel would take care of her.

I got Marie fueled up and back on the trail. I had a feeling that the next 4 miles were going to be rough for her. As we started to run, the hills were really taking a toll on Marie and our pace had slowed down gradually. When we got about a mile away from the next Aid station, Marie told me to just go ahead because she was going to walk the next two aid stations. It really bothered me to hear that because I promised her I’d run with her to the finish. I still had a 12hr cut off and she was hitting a wall. I tell me Marie she is awesome and I’ll see her at the finish. I run up to the next aid station and figured she’s not far behind. I thought, she’ll get some fuel and be okay.

I get to the aid station and stuff my face while also noticing Marie isn’t behind me. Time is ticking so it’s time to try and catch Daniel and Laura. I head off onto the trail and begin to cut some decent times. I’m running 10:20-30’s and I’m feeling really good. At this point, I’m running all by myself in the moon lit night and I’m having a really good run. I feel good, fueled up, no cramps of any kind……….and then…….My light shines on a creature. One, that I have only had one encounter with, and in that encounter, left me in fear of my life. I’m looking down and see this, thing, this death bringer AND it looks to be the size of one of the creatures from the 1981 Film Clash of the Titans……a scorpion! Now, I’m known for telling hyperbolic stories and YES, the size of this scorpion is greatly exaggerated but, don’t judge me.

I’m highly afraid of scorpions and a more accurate size comparison would be that of a nickel. Yes, the currency nickel, as in five cents. I’m sure a strong gust of wind would knock them over but I don’t care. I’m afraid of them. So, I see this mystical beast and yell in a soprano tone and leap for my life. As a cruel joke on myself, my leap over the scorpion didn’t do well for my hip. When I landed on my left foot a sharp pain hit my left hip. It caused me so much pain I could barely stand in place. I immediately thought to myself, “you just had to jump didn’t you?”

I begin to walk and I think to myself..hmmm… I’m okay, it was just a flash pain. I go through this all the time. It wasn’t until the first rolling hill out by the fence line that I realize I can’t run or walk up hill. Going downhill was an accident waiting to happen and any lateral movement was out of the window. “Now how am I supposed to finish up the next 5.8 miles and do this again? “I don’t know” I say, and I keep trucking. The next several miles were okay to an extent. I pull into the main aid station and my left hip is on fire.

About a mile back before the main aid station, I noticed my lower back was now tensing up. To compensate for the pain in my hip, I was leaning on my right side which was now causing cramps in my right calf and hamstring. I had to sit down. My sister grabbed me food and my wife grabbed my bottles to fill them with ice water. First question I ask….

“How far is Rob? How long ago did he come through?”

“About an hour?” someone says. I think, “Dammit, if I was feeling good, I could keep that hour in between us and not fall too far behind, uuggh but I’m in so much pain….”

GET UP….GET UP AND GO…GET UP NOW…my sister yells out. I barely had time to kick off my Salomon Ultras and switch over to the Cascadias. I didn’t get a chance to change my shirt, get my music or get some Vaseline on some areas that were chafing.

I look at her and say to myself, “why did I invite her or coach her how to get me through these?” my sister got me off the chair and told me “NO WALKING!!! JUST RUN….LETS GO!!!” As I swallowed a banana, I did a slow jog to the portys and hoped the porty would fall on me so I didn’t have to do one more loop of this race! I got a chance to talk to Laura and Daniel briefly. They told me that they came in just under 4 hours and I was extremely happy and proud of both of them. They asked about Marie and I told them that she was having a really hard time but she was going to tough it out and finish…and she did, like the awesome bad ass she is!

The fight within…

I get out onto the trail once again and I’m trying to keep a decent pace and deal with the pain in my hip. The descend into the river felt like pure agony. Once I got down to the rocky terrain, it was one painful step at a time. Every time I came to rock where I had to lift a leg up, I yelled in pain. I get to the hill after the river bed and the climb becomes comical. I had caught up with several of the folks doing the 60k and they quickly got past me on the climb up. I started to think to myself, “Are you really about to try and hobble for several hours and possibly not make the cut off? No, I’m going to run AND hobble and possibly make the cut off”.

I get to the fence line and pass a guy while running and then some hills which become a crawl. The guy passes me again! This goes on for maybe a mile, and then I give up on running and start hiking with Richard. Richard tells me about his previous experiences and what he’s training for. He asked why I was out here as and I asked him: Do you think we’ll hit the cut off at this pace? He replies, “Yeah, even if we don’t run, we’ll get there probably around 6-6:30am”

I think to myself, there’s no way, on God’s green earth, that you’re going to hobble for 6hrs and be in this much pain. It’s time to shut it down before you really get hurt.

We get to a sharp left turn, which is a quick out & back to the first aid station. I get to the aid station, I see the Ice cooler & I sit down, and, I quit.

In my mind and body, I quit at this aid station. As I walked up, I looked for someone that was manning the station and hoped they had a car to take me back. I felt awful. I was so disappointed in myself at this moment. Here I am, at another race, and I was quitting, again.

Richard fuels up and tells me good luck as he takes off again. I knew I would probably never see him again.

I sat on the cooler and took off my chip and my shoes. I sat with my head in my hands and lamented in thought. I met another guy that was having stomach issues & was thinking of dropping out of the race. Oh, and did I forget to mention, this station was not a manned aid station so there was no one there to quit to. You either had to take the 10k trail back to the main aid station or hope a car driving by the trail would pick you up.

I sat there and watched several people stumble into the aid station and back out on the trail. I talked with Michael about dropping and not continuing for probably 20-30 minutes. It wasn’t until another runner came through and asked us how we felt that we began our sob stories of hurting and wanting to drop out. This runners name was Ken. Ken said “well fellas, the next aid station is just about 3miles, see if you can make it” and Michael said, “Yeah, but it’s going to take me over an hour to get there and I’m not doing that”, so Ken took off and I sat on the cooler and thought to myself…..”Get up”.

Michael and I talk about the races we completed in the past and Mike said something to me that triggered a feeling of anger in my heart. He said “Dude, I’ve done a lot of these, it’s okay to drop, you’ll have another one to do, there is always more”

And then…I thought, well what if there isn’t anymore? What if I get hit by a car tomorrow and this was the last thing I did? I quit? What if life was giving me this one opportunity to do something great and instead of getting up and doing something, you sat on this cooler, and quit.

“F…THIS….” I got up, put on my shoes and chip, put water in my water bottles…”Mike, it’s a little over 3miles, are you coming?…..nah man, I’m going to look for a route back”

I get back on the trail, I’m hobbling up and down some rolling hills, just counting the miles down to the next aid station. My hip is in an extreme amount of pain and my right leg is giving up on holding all the weight that my left leg couldn’t handle. I’m not tripping on EVERYTHING. I roll my ankle and I can feel the bones turn in places it shouldn’t and I say it to myself again “dude, stop it, you’re going to really hurt yourself, it’s time you stop at the next aid station and call it a night”. I quit again.

Through this next portion of turns and trails I see a brightly colored snake in the trail and I had no energy to jump nor the ability to fight a snake or snake bight, so I just stood there and sprinkled water on it and hoped it wouldn’t come after me. The snake slowly slithered off into the night, as to say “if you want to keep going, go ahead”.

My watch had stopped recording my mileage(Memory Full) so I had no idea how far the next aid station was but I knew it was almost 3 miles. I kept telling myself, just get there and you will be done. I hobbled some more and began to see some lights and reflectors. I knew I was at the windmill aid station and I sighed in relief, I didn’t have to put myself through any more pain. That wonderful thought was quickly squashed when I noticed Ken filling up his back pack and no one else was in sight. Another unmanned aid station???

I yell to Ken, “dude, is this another unmanned F’n aid station? Are you MF kidding me???? Where the F is everyone???? And Ken looks at me and just says “How’s the hip?”

I immediately get angry. I’m absolutely helpless right now, I want to quit, I can’t go on, I’m in so much MF pain and I can’t do Sh* about it, WTF am I supposed to do now??????

I remember feeling so powerless over my situation at the moment. I couldn’t just go home, I couldn’t just jump in a car and be on my way to a comfortable bed and warm shower, no, instead, I’m here with some guy, stuck on a trail.

Ken looks at me and says “well man, if you really want to drop, we are going to pass the next aid station in about .5mile and you can drop there…..”IF” you want to. I get angry again, I toss around some cookies, I throw some empty pringles bottles across the table and then, I fill my water bottles and tell him, “the only GD reason I’m at this aid station, was to F’n quit, LETS…GO”…

We begin hiking out the aid station with a quick pace, probably about a 14min pace, and we begin to walk to the next aid station. The station is about 4 miles of an out and back loop. I look over to the aid station we have to pass but don’t stop because Joe likes to torture you, and Ken says, ”Hey dude, if you really want a ride back, you can go there, OR, it’s downhill….you can see how you do”

I look over at the corner of my eye and I can hear the people at the aid station clapping and rooting us on, I keep looking at it out of the corner of my eye and the thoughts of “What if…”, “what if you can?” began to run through my head, I roll my eyes up to the trail and I put my head down and tell Ken, “Let’s keep going”.

It was at this point, I knew if I could get through the next 4 miles to that aid station, that the next aid station was 3.5 miles away, then 2.38miles to the finish.

Ken starts to run the downhills and, I somehow begin to run behind him. I managed to delete all the history on my watch so that I can monitor the mileage. As we started running the down hills, I look down at my watch and notice that we are going at a 9:00-9:20 pace at mile 28 into this race. I’ve only been running for about 8 months, and, for me to have this pace at almost 30 miles into a race that I’ve now quit, twice, was nothing short of a miracle.

I thought “where are you getting this from?, how are you doing this right now? Well, who gives a sh* how you’re finding this”

Can you take another step?

Can you get to the next aid station? NO, that’s ridiculous?

Can you keep this pace? No, well, what can you do? Well, I can take another step, then take another step, then just keep up with Ken, just see how far you can make it”

Ken and I ran for maybe 1.5-2 miles and then my frigg’n head lamp died and Ken’s light is going dark. I’m tripping. I roll my ankle again and Ken is making sure that I’m just taking one step after another. We were using the dim light from his light as well as the moonlight. We begin to start climbing the hills again, which meant, we were now crawling back up to Pipe aid station. I tell Ken that I’m going to probably just stuff my face with food and water and for him to catch me because I don’t know if I can keep this pace.

We get to the aid station and the crew there is awesome. They tell us to sit down and rest and they’ll get what we need. The guys give me food and water and a guy at the aid station (Brian) loaned me a flash light to use to get through the rest of the race. They ask me how I’m feeling and I tell them I’ve been trying to quit for the last 12 miles but Ken wouldn’t let me. They laugh and tell me, well, you’re less than 6 miles to the finish, and it’s way too late to quit now.

Ken takes off without me and I began the quick climb out of the aid station and catch up to Ken. We hike for maybe 20 minutes and Ken says “okay dude, it’s down hill, let’s run for a little bit” and again, I say…”let’s go”. We start running.

I look down at my watch and see we are doing 10:00-10:20’s minute pace and I cannot believe that I’m able to keep this pace or that I’m able to continue. The wave of emotions began to hit me. Ken slows down to hike and I tell him “hey man, I’m going to see how long I can keep this” and he says “yeah dude, go for it” and I did.

I started to run. I came to sections of the course that just a few hours ago, I was barely able to crawl down and I was jumping down them now! I was keeping really good pace. I started getting really emotional at this point because, just several hours ago, I quit on myself. I hit a rough patch, wall of pain and I said to myself, no more, you can’t do anymore, yet, here I am, with a couple of encouraging words from a guy I didn’t know, I’m able to keep going, I’m able to keep pushing and I’m doing so, better than I could have ever expected.

I’m breathing well, I’m keeping a good pace and I’m thinking if I can just keep this up, I’m going to finish and I’m going to finish strong. I come to a switch back and see some reflectors up ahead. HEY!, I know those reflectors, It’s Rich, the guy that was pulling me back at the very beginning of the 2nd loop. I tell him thank you for the encouraging words and fly past him, he yells “Man you’re looking good now!!!” and I smile and I keep chugging away. I passed another gentleman and told him he was an inspiration. I’ve seen this guy at Cactus Rose and several other Ultras and he just keeps on trucking.

I look down at my watch, 3.30miles, the aid station is coming up…holy sh*, you made it. I get to the aid station and drink and eat some pringles. I sit down for a few minutes because my feet were in so much pain and I just needed to rest them up a second so I could stomp out the next 2miles. I hear some rumbling in the bushes and it’s my boy Ken, and I say, “Just 2 more and a skip” and he says “Dude, you’re flying!” and he takes off.

I put my shoes back on and get back on the trail to catch up with Ken. Ken had a really good hiking/running pace and I was fighting just to keep up. At one point, I basically gassed out and couldn’t muster the energy to keep running, but I was going to keep up the fast pace. Then I heard someone coming up behind me, a woman, Darlene. She was super cheery and so happy to almost be done with the trail and her vibe just sucked me in, and, here we go again, I’m running once more. I could care less about our pace, I just knew we were running at a good clip. I could hear the people at the finish line rooting on finishers and talking to one another. I knew these switch backs looked all too familiar to me. I knew then, it was probably 200 yards to the finish.

Darlene and I share a quick laugh as I told her I couldn’t believe I’m finishing this race after quitting on myself twice, she said, “Quitting wasn’t for you today and I’m proud of you”…

We crossed the finish line in 10 Hours 4 Minutes.

One of the first people I saw at the finish line was Rob and he came over to give me a hug and I couldn’t help but let it all out. I started to cry because I just couldn’t believe what I just accomplished. I immediately told everyone what happened. I told them that I quit on myself, and that I tried so hard to give up but something didn’t let me. Something pushed me to keep going. Then Rob said something to me, that quickly reminded me why we were friends….”Well Jose, you suck at quitting”

I get asked by a lot of friends and strangers, “Why?” “Why would anyone run for so long?”

I can never really answer this question. I just know running Ultras, are the greatest testament to life. It teaches you a lesson.

In every aspect of life, we run into obstacles or run into areas where you just want to give up or quit or say to yourself, maybe, another day. It’s in these moments where if you just dig a little deeper, and grab that extra bit of life out of you, to push you out of the darkness, you’ll find a whole new you that you never knew existed. It’s only then, you’ll realize that if you can apply this resounding resolve into everything you do daily, you’ll be that much better.

Life does give you only one opportunity, and it’s to define your purpose, to define what you will do with this one opportunity, life, are you going to sit on the cooler and quit, or get your ass up, and accomplish something amazing?

I’d like to thank all of my friends and family for their support & to all of the other crazies that make me look normal.

A very, very special thank you to Kenneth Jantzen, a stranger that gave me more inspiration in myself, then he could ever imagine.

Nueces 50k Race Review

Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.

It is a great truth because ONCE we truly see this Truth, we transcend it. Once we TRULY, know that life is difficult—once we TRULY understand and accept this—then life is no longer difficult.

Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult, no longer matter.

-M. Scott Peck

I had a long day at work, I had cut my day “short”, but I had to get some clients homes done by 1p, then finish setting up the Elemante(Honda element) for race day, then swing to my mother’s house to pick up my sister once she got out of school. I get home around 2p, and the mad dash to get everything setup begins. “Crap where’s my shorts? Did I make enough sandwiches? Where’s my extra socks, crap, you better eat and get your vitamins, running this 50k isn’t going to be a cake walk, and you’re dumb for doing it while still getting over a cold, CRAP! hurry up and get ready!”

I get out the door and on the road and scoop up my sister who I had asked to be my personal crew/aid station. I really just wanted her company as I took on another mental battle. I had planned on running the Nueces 50k on Saturday, then back door that with the Armadillo ½ Marathon on Sunday, thankfully, procrastination did me good because I missed the registration for the ½ on Sunday, so, I wasn’t bothered, but, I did know that since I wasn’t doing the ½, that just meant, “Run Harder”.

Finally on the road about 7p, quick stop at my favorite pizza joint(brothers) and then off for the 5hr drive. My sister and I laugh and joke throughout the road trip, listening to music, talking about life and anything else on our minds. We finally get into Rocksprings TX at about 12:00pm and get lost. We end up finding a huge sign that said “Camp Eagle 8 Miles” and I think, YES, I need sleep!!! We drive down the driest, rockiest road I’ve ever been on, and I can’t help but think “This is where I die, some crazy guy with a chain saw is going to tear us up” because the roads and scenery resembled Texas Chain Saw Massacre version 1-33. After the longest, rockiest, scariest 8 miles, we finally pull into Camp Eagle and I quick find a spot to park so we can setup the Elemante so we can sleep. Finally, SLEEP, at 1am(ugh). I set my alarm to go off at 3:30a so I can scarf down some food, then nap till 6a.

I get up at 3ISH, eat, drink, fall back to sleep, then wake up at 6:05 to fuel up, get my gear on and warm up, it’s almost race time!

6:55a, and I find my way to the cattle herd and drop my water bottle so I can begin my ritual of The Haka, the particular Haka I did on this morning, was the Timatanga. I finish up, and Joe gets us going, its race time!

Now that the sun is up, and I can see the terrain, I immediately notice, this terrain, is basically going to be the evil step sister to Bandera/Cactus Rose, in other words, it’s going to be a rough run.

This is the first run I’m wearing my gps watch and the first where I memorize my aid stations, just so I know what mileage I have to do and what my times should be. 1. Texas 5.35 2. Wall 3.9 3. Texas 4.8 4. Pavilion 1.4.

The first 5.35 goes a bit slow(at least I thought), it was a single track with a lot of folks and LOTS OF ROCKS, so I was just trying to keep my legs moving and focusing on my watch and mileage. The rocks are everywhere, the terrain is rough, and the views of the hill country are absolutely amazing. The sun was coming up, the morning mist coated the land and the cool breeze was on your back. I look up from the trail to take in some of the scene. The initial climb took us to an area where you can look into a valley, as I looked over and thought “how amazing is it here, the rocks, the greeWAAACK!!!” one of the bush tree’s that got caught on the runner in front of me, catapulted to about 43mph and hit me square in the eye…..SON OF A %$#! OFCOURSE THIS HAPPENS!!!! I make sure to keep my eyes front, albeit they were now filled with tears from being plucked in the eye.

I shake that off because we are beginning a decent and the terrain is unforgiving, if you miss a step, you’re going to leak blood. I’m still stuck in a line of folks and I think to myself, don’t worry, you’ll make the aid station and be in and out in no time and you’ll be somewhat alone.

We reach the aid station, and I look down at my watch and see 4.89mi and I start to think(did Joe move the aid stations around to throw us off?), I grab water, some gold fish and a gel and get out, 1 aid station down, less than 12seconds there, boom. I knew the next Aid station was just a bit more than a 5k away, so I keep my pace going out and then all of a sudden, we’re at a hill, a hill I did not care to be on, but, oh well, life throws enough hills for you to climb up and over, so why wait now? I fight to the top and meet up with a gentleman by the name of Chris, and I lean over and ask him “hey dude, is this the trail to the shuttle that takes us to the finish?” we both laugh as we are now gasping for air from the climb and we begin to share stories of running and previous races. I tell Chris this is my 3rd Ultra and that Cactus Rose 50 Mile’r was my first ever anything-a-thon and he gave me the look that most people give me when I share this story…”Are you nuts?” we share a kick and a grin for the next few minutes and as we are chugging along, I glance down at my watch and see that our pace is between 8:46-9:12 and I’m like holy cow dude, I need to slow down a bit or I’m going to burn out, as I say this, what only is to be expected after running a big hill? Is a nice downhill, with relatively “Flat” terrain, and the decent begins, I immediately feel the banging in my thighs, I’m trying not to fly down this hill, but the pain in my legs from braking was a bit too much, so, I let loose and fly down the hill…I glance at the watch once more and see 7:43(for me, this is really hauling tail, I’ve never run this fast, and I must say, I loved it), however, I can’t help but think, Joe must be part mountain goat to find these places to run.

Nueces 50k Ultramarathon
Nueces 50k Ultramarathon
Once at the bottom of this hill, we get to the next aid station, which was awesome, the guys/gals manning the station were dressed up like pancho villa and playing old world Mexican music. If they had tequila & a piñata, I would have DNF’d and stayed there, but, neither was visibly out there, so it was time to get back on the road. I get to a section where you have to run across a suspension bridge, my immediate thought went back to Indiana Jones & The temple of doom. I laugh when I make my first few steps, and then this bridge starts to bounce and sway and I’m like “ARE YOU KIDDING ME JOE??? WHATS NEXT? PEOPLE SHOOTING ARROWS WHILE WE’RE CROSSING? ALLIGATORS AT THE BOTTOM????”, neither were there, just more trails. The next 4.8 went fine and I knew this last station was just 1.4 away and then it’s just another loop. I get out kicking and feeling strong. I wore a hoody just because to me it was a bit chilly, and as an embarrassed New Yorker, I can no longer deal with weather under 70*(this would be costly).

I run into the pavilion and look at my watch and see 3:07, I then glance up at the timer and it says 3:12, HOLY SMOKES!!!! I was hoping and planning for a 6:45 finish, just to best my previous 50k run of 8:08 and I start doing the math, the first 5 went a bit slow because of the crowd, so If I keep my pace up, I might have a sub 6:30?!?!?! LETS ROLL!!! I switch my Salomon mantras out for the Salomon S-Lab XT Soft Ground that my buddy Rob let me use, I have really wide feet so the out sides tend to hurt after 20 miles and I figured this terrain was going to beat them up, so a new shoe would be best(worked flawlessly). I throw on the shoes, my sister shoves PB&J into my gullet, gives me my shuffle, shoves more food into my face and gives me a few words of encouragement and then pushes me out of the station.

The first loop wasn’t bad; after all, it’s fresh legs, new scenes, no biggie, this next loop, knowing the terrain, whole different story.

I get out on the loop and I’m moving, I glance down at the watch once more and see 9:10, I kept this pace for probably 3-4 miles and as I’m passing a few people, I make sure to give them the same encouragement that all of the ultra-community gives to each other during a race, after all, we know what we are all going through, it takes a lot out of someone to push themselves out of their comfort zone and it’s awesome to share these experiences with other runners.

I’m chugging down water from my hand held and I don’t know if I left the nipple open, or if because I was pushing my pace, I was now out of water and thirsty and to top it off, I only pee’d once so far, not a good sign. Here come the hills and switch backs again and now out of water, my pace slows down and now I’m staring at the watch to see how far is the damn aid station? I get to the aid station and immediately fill my hand held with Gatorade and swallow that, I then refill twice more with water and swallow those. I went to refill on food and when I got back to the cooler for water, someone was filling up, so I jumped to the next cooler, filled up the hand held and took off.

Nueces Camp Eagle Lake
Nueces Camp Eagle Lake
I was now refueled and ready to burn and turn……at least, so I thought. Within 10-15 minutes, I go to take a swig from my hand held and taste nothing but sugar water, at least that’s what it tasted like to me. I thought maybe something got on the bottle and I cleaned it off and took another sip and got the same taste, I immediately realize my mistake, I filled my bottle with meed. I’ve tried meed before and didn’t like it, not to mention, whenever I drink a powdered electrolyte drink, I get gas and cramps. I say to myself, oh well, sip what you can, make it to the next aid station and we’ll be alright. Not 10 minutes later, I start getting cramps on both my sides. These were by far the worst cramps I’ve ever had, they hurt so badly, I couldn’t take a deep breath, naturally, this happens when the billy goat of a hill is approaching. I start the ascent at a crawl of a pace, maybe 22-18mi hr and I start to doubt everything I’ve done leading up to this day, to this minute, to this section of the course. I’m in pain, and I can’t breathe and I now want to quit. My hamstrings were now tightening up and I could barely stand upright from the cramps. A few of the 50 milers had past me and one guy, who I didn’t get the name of, asked me if I was ok and I told him what I thought was going on and he said “dude, just keep going, it’ll get out of your system and you’ll finish this thing”. I looked at him and at that point wanted to pick up the plethora of rocks on the floor and throw it at him, but, I knew what he said was right, I needed to tough it out, and push on, and so I did, 1 painful step at a time. I get to the top of the hill and see the zip line I saw on the first loop and I think, okay, downhill, run your ass and get to this damn aid station for water and keep kicking. I’m able to keep my legs turning, I’m hurting and I say to myself, “dude, where are you getting the will and strength to keep going?” and, I answer…”shut up, we have sh*t to do today, if you’re going to bail, bail without me, because I have a race to finish” I get to the next aid station and drink as much water as I possibly can, probably 4-5 hand helds at the station, grab food, and I’m off again.

At this point, I forget what aid stations I’m running to, I lose focus of the mileage in between and I start to look at the mileage and time on my watch. I see that I’m now way off of my pace of finishing sub 6:30, and I now had 3 more stations to hit before the finish (completely forgetting, I had just 1 and then 1.5 to the finish), I start thinking, dammit, you’re almost 2hrs behind and you’re going to best your time by only a couple of minutes, just quit if that’s the case.

I again, tell myself to shut up and keep moving, this aid station is 3.8 miles away, just get it done. I completely forget this aid station is the Texas aid station and it was 4.8 away. I run over the temple of doom bridge and begin the task of knife wielding trees and feet stabbing rocks.

I’m able to finally move my legs again, and my spirits start to climb, and then, here is that damn ascent that didn’t seem so bad the first go around, how in the hell am I supposed to make it up this thing? 1 step at a time Jose, 1 step at a time. I begin climbing and start to think about my sister, it’s now after 6hours and I know she must be thinking “where is he, he was ahead of schedule” and knowing her, she would be thinking I fell or got hurt, but more so, I was upset that I wasn’t going to smash my previous time and felt a little down, but I wasn’t going to stop. I keep myself moving, I keep planting my feet and just keep moving, I look down at my watch and it says I’m at mile 23 or some crap and I’m thinking, good lord, 8 more miles of this and this pace, it’s going to feel like forever AND, why does this feel like the longest 3.8 miles I’ve ever been on????

I get to a section of this loop that looks familiar, I know that it’s 3 smaller ‘hills’ that go up and down and then the aid station is at the top of the last one. I run down when I can, then curse and climb when I have to. I’m finally able to run and at this point, I don’t care about the pace, I just care about finishing.

I finally stroll up to the aid station, I’m drinking water, eating oranges, the crew manning the station asked me if I was okay and I told them what happened with the Meed and they suggested I just keep drinking and eating oranges. One of the guys at the aid station asked me if I was trying to cut weight for the wrestling team because I was still wearing my sweat drenched hoody. We laughed for a bit, and then I asked, “Hey, the next aid station is what? 4.8 or the 3.whatever?” and the crew looked at me and said “what are you talking about? You’re doing the 50k right?” and I said “yes, giving them the puppy dog eyes”, and then I hear what has to be the best news and the biggest kick in the ass I’ve ever heard…”Honey, you’re at the last aid station, you’ve got 1.4 miles and you’re done, if you get moving, you’ll finish under 7hrs”………………I look at them wide eyed and say WHAT???? Are you serious? And the woman begins to laugh, “Yeah dude, you’re almost done, get the heck outta here and finish”…I grin and say, “Are you joking with me to fire me up, because you don’t have to….” She laughs again and says “dude, I just DNF’d this damn race, you’ve got a little over a mile, get going!!!” I fill up my hand held and tell them all thank you so much for everything; they have no idea the emotional and physical boost they just gave me. I’m not sure exactly what my watch said, it was either 6:48 or 6:51 when I left that aid station, but I didn’t care, I knew I had to kick as hard as I possibly could to finish under 7hrs.

I sprint out and stumble on some rocks, I don’t care, I fix my posture and get my legs turning, I step on a stone that twists my ankle a bit and my feet are now hurting, I don’t care, shut up feet, I have a race to finish….I get to a windy downhill just before the creek that leads to the finish, the first time I came to this section, I almost ate it, to the point the camera man and I shared a laugh because he said it would have been a great pic if I ate it. I get down this hill in 5 steps because, I don’t care.

I turn the corner and I can see the camp and the final last bit of this trail, and I begin to kick, I begin to dig as deep as I could. I started running so hard that my lungs hurt, every breath hurt, every breath felt like someone was stepping on my chest and I didn’t care, my music was blasting in my ears and yet still, I could hear myself gasping in agony for air, I didn’t care, I’m finishing strong, I control this.

I signed up for Nueces for just one reason, to prove to myself that I can do whatever I set my mind to and that I can control my life, this race is real, these hill are real, life is real and I can make it do whatever I want and not sit and mope or wonder why things happen. I’ve had a heavy heart for almost 9 years, I lost an amazingly strong friend and life partner to suicide and I’ve struggled to cope with her loss. Anna’s loss and the resulting years have mentally kept me from doing a lot with relationships and other facets of my life, however, this race was my clarity, this race is my moment of saying to myself, enough is enough, you can’t control things that are out of your control, but sure damn can control the present and your actions for the future. It’s time to live, because, you can.

I cross the creek; I climb up one small ascent through the brush and trees and up a road that leads to the Pavilion, to the finish line, to my truth.

For the next 100yards, I begin to have a stride that I’ve never felt before. I was running hard and didn’t have a care in the world, all I cared about was that finish line, all I cared about was proving to myself that I can do what I set out to do.

I kicked as hard as I possibly could, that last 20yards, everyone at the finish line was cheering the finishers on. I felt, like I was floating, like my feet didn’t feel like they were hitting the ground, I couldn’t feel any pain, everyone seemed to be a blur and I can only describe this feeling as if I was in a tunnel, and the finish line was the light…..

………..6 Hours, 59 minutes, 32 seconds.

I bested my last 50 by 1 hour, 11 minutes. I wanted to be 10 minutes faster, but, I did it.

I set out to PR for this race, and I did.

I set out for my own personal clarity with life and to rid the demons that have plagued me for a long time, and, I can proudly say I did, for the first time in a long time, I look forward to what life has in store for me, the friends I will make, the stories I will have, I welcome them all, because,

“I know what I have to do now, I have to keep breathing, because tomorrow the sun will rise….who knows what the tide could bring”

I’d like to thank all of my friends & family that have supported me thus far, don’t worry guys, we have a hell’va ride to go!