100 Kilometers- 62.1 Miles of Brutal Determination. 

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.” – William Barclay

3 days ago, I sat on the edge of a hotel bed scared out of my mind; afraid of the task that was ahead of me. Laying out equipment and gear in preparation for a 62.1 mile trail race through the Kistachie National Forest, I tried my best to fight back my fears of failure.


My brother was across the room looking cool, calm, and collected. He had been through this process before and now I needed his guidance and his confident spirit, both at that moment and for the next 16 hours.

I knew there would be countless physical and mental obstacles in our quest to conquer a seemingly impossible feat. The mental hurdles would not wait for the start of the race, they had already started their unrelenting assault on my mind. 

Our plan was to get a few restless hours of sleep the afternoon before race day and then try our best to sleep the night before, which we both knew would be next to impossible. Wake up time would arrive with a energetic beep of the alarm at 3:30 AM.


The next two hours were a blur of coffee, running attire, bags of gear and food (that could have kept us alive for at least two weeks in any wilderness setting), a 45 minute drive into the woods of NW Louisiana, and enough pre-race jitters to fill an ocean.

Getting to the starting line would soon prove to be the easiest part of the journey.

The best piece of advice that I received was to picture the start of the run as the entrance of a long tunnel, and the only way out was through the other side. I pictured that tunnel in my mind at least a dozen times during our run.

The difference in the advice and reality is that the tunnel has several escape hatches along the way; it would be our own determined choice to resist the urge to open them and continue pushing forward.

As a small group of fellow Ultramarathon hopefuls gathered at the starting line, I could literally feel the residual adrenaline rolling down my skin. The moment that we had all trained for, sacrificed so much time and energy for, and ran thousands of training miles for, was finally here.

The clock struck 6 AM and it was on. It was time to attempt the unthinkable; to test my mind, body, and spirit, and ask them to take me much farther than I had ever asked before. If they weren’t up to the challenge, it would fall on my shoulders and nobody else’s. My brother was with me, but completing this race was up to me.

For the first hour and a half, we would be running in the dark while awaiting the arrival of daybreak. Headlamps in place, off we went. We knew that we would encounter around 5,500 feet of elevation gain via a varied terrain of soft sand, hard-packed red dirt, rock, and multiple water crossings.

The weather was perfect for running, with temperatures rising from the mid-30’s to around 55 degrees by the afternoon. Our first goal was to finish, just don’t quit. Our second goal was to finish in under 16 hours.

As light pierced the treetops, we were hitting our stride nicely and feeling good. Making a conscious effort to maintain an easy pace – power hiking the up hills and running the downhills and flats just as we had planned. The sandy uphills were by far the biggest challenge of the first 31 mile loop. Treading soft sand takes a toll on your lower legs and fatigues them faster than usual.

Our shoes and socks were taking on sand likes sinking boat takes on water. At the 18 mile aid station, our drop bags awaited us. We quickly scarfed down as many calories as we could, emptied the sand from our shoes, lubed our feet, changed our socks, and off we went.

Each 31-mile loop had around 2,800 feet of elevation gain which was mostly front-loaded in the first 20 miles. This was a welcomed relief for the last third of the loop because we were able to run most of it. We made up quite a bit of the time we lost trudging through the sandy uphills.

Our sights were set on finishing the first loop, getting another round of calories down, taking care of our feet, and getting through the first 10 miles of the second loop before dark.

Then, at around mile 28, my brother’s IT Band flared up and began causing him a great deal of added discomfort. I silently worried if it would be too much for him to deal with, but he kept going. He would have to fight through that grueing pain for another 8 plus hours to finish.

We made it through the first loop mostly in tact. We topped off our water bottles and stuffed our race packs with as many calories as it would hold. One side note: Ryan grabbed a bag of mini-snickers bars as part of our stock-up trip before the race. What a godsend that was! Nothing is more delicious and energy-packed than a mini-snickers bar in the middle of nowhere.


Mis-remembering the first 10 miles of the loop as being all sand and uphill, we were actually surprised to find that this section was a bit easier than we recalled. Then…we found the difficult section. Having already covered 41 miles, we were feeling the painful burn in our legs and the hot spots on our feet more than ever.

Everything ached and the miles were not going down as quickly as before. Now the hills and terrain came at us with a new intensity. One that the trail had not shown in the beginning. This was hell.

Our only focus became making it to the drop bag at mile 49 before we lost daylight. We began moving with a hurried intensity of run-hike-run. My toes were numb, my legs were screaming, and my mind was fighting me with everything it had.

We made it to the drop bag 10 minutes before dark. It was a good chance to get some carb-loaded calories down. Again, we changed our socks, threw our headlights on, refilled our water bottles, and we were off. 13 miles to go. We weren’t racing the clock, we were racing our will to succeed.

This would prove to be the longest 13 miles of my life. As the darkness set in, so did the thoughts of quitting. Your mind is such a powerful tool that when it’s working against you, it becomes a struggle of internal fortitude.

Thoughts of “how bad do you want this” get replaced with thoughts of “why are you doing this?”

It all begins and ends in your mind. What you give power to has power over you. – Leon Brown

As we began the last stretch of the race, there was dark calm of nothingness surrounding us. I would look to the woods in hope of finding some sort of strength, only to find a blank expanse of uselessness.

My mind was pleading with me to stop moving. I became quiet, fighting an internal battle of self-discipline and self-loathing. This was no longer a trail race, it was a fight.

As I looked at my brother, he was wrestling with his own demons – his IT Band was screaming in full throat but he was moving with an unwavering purpose. He wasn’t going to quit, no matter what. The look in his eyes and the purposefulness of his steps gave me the strength I was searching for.

A wave of emotion washed over me at mile 54 and tears were flowing down my face, only I had no idea why. Maybe it was a silent victory over my mind, a reminiscent feeling of always looking to him for guidance and direction – and realizing that after 37 years, that he was still there to give it.

8 miles to go and we now we exchange a silent gaze. Let’s do this. Power through. Everything you have.

We began to shuffle our feet, and then we’re running. We’ve got two hours to the finish. God it hurts! It hurts to run, it hurts to walk, and it hurts to stop. Keep moving. One foot in front of the other until it’s over.

As we round a corner, we begin to smell the familiar fragrance of a campfire. Hope returns and our faces both express smiles. The crowd at the finish line can see our headlights making their way through the forest and they begin to cheer. We crossed the finish line! 62.1 miles of agony and 62.1 miles of sweet glory!


This is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and the fact that I did it step for step with my big brother makes it that much sweeter.


We stared fear in the face and we kicked its ass. To my brother; thank you for always being there to shoulder the load. To my wife; thank you for letting me do this crazy shit. To everyone reading this; don’t ever back down from fear. You’re stronger than you could ever imagine. Don’t ever be afraid to challenge yourself!

5 Life Lessons I Learned From My Grandpa

I was privileged to have my grandpa on this earth for so many years. I’m hopeful that all of us, at some point in time, have had someone that provided an impactful and positive influence in their lives. If you’ve followed my blog for very long, you know that my grandfather was a very special person whom I admire to this day.

He carried so much wisdom and insight from his 90+ years on this earth, that it literally spilled out of him daily. The way that he lived was a testament to his faith, beliefs, and values. He was a man of action, not just words. He modeled his beliefs through the way that he lived his daily life, and in doing so taught me many life lessons. Here are 5 of the most important:

Be content with what you have but never with what you’ve achieved.

Grandpa and grandma lived a life of simplicity. I never heard him say anything about wanting a bigger house, a newer truck, or a better life. They worked to take care of themselves and those who depended on them, but the trade off of more time for more money was never even a question. They were content with what they had.

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This didn’t mean that grandpa never achieved great things though. He was a highly decorated soldier from his time spent serving during WWII. He retired from the Highway Department with a full pension and served as a deacon in his local church for more than 40 years. He was content with what he had, but never stopped striving to be the person that he thought he could become.

You are never helpless. There is always something more that you can do. 

To say that he lived a life of adversity would be an understatement. In a recent blog, I talked about the many hardships that he faced in his life. When I would talk to him about a problem I was having, he would often tell me that we are never helpless and then he would encourage me to find a way through the setback. He never allowed me to take on the victim mentality.

“Choose not to be harmed — and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed — and you haven’t been.” — Marcus Aurelius

You don’t have to be wealthy to make a positive impact on someone’s life.

Grandpa never had much money, but he did have several acres of vegetable gardens, which he worked countless hours cultivating and planting in order to produce food for the family. The produce that was harvested was more than what we needed, and as I kid I could never understand why he planted so much.

It wasn’t until I was around 8 years old, that I realized he was planting more so that he could give it away to those who were in need. He also gave away most of his time, through volunteering at church, playing music in nursing homes, and thousands of other acts of selfless service which could never have been repaid by those who benefited from them.

Follow through on your commitments even when it’s difficult.

As I have gotten older, I realize that there were many days when he didn’t feel like getting up at 4 am to till the garden, prepare for Sunday service, or spending his weekend helping to restore the spirits of the elderly and less fortunate, but he always did it. He had a self-discipline that always amazed me and it was through this discipline that he instilled the same traits in me. It isn’t about how you feel, it’s about what you do…everyday.

Don’t become so focused on the talents and accomplishments of others, that you lose sight of your own.

Growing up, I struggled with self-esteem issues. I would often tell him that I didn’t feel like I had any talents or anything that I was good at, so he taught me to work with my hands. He taught me how to build things, how to fix things, and to find self-satisfaction in all of it. He would often recite the Parable of the Talents from Matthew 25:14-30 and tell me that it doesn’t matter what we are given in life, it only matters what we do with what we are given.

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain

If we constantly compare ourselves to others, we will live a life stammered by feelings of inadequacy and discontentedness. It’s a recipe for hopelessness and depression. Rather than compare ourselves with the accomplishments and gifts of others, we need to focus on our own set of individual strengths and use those to their maximum capabilities. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to each other to be the best version of “us” that we can be.

Persistence Is a Way of Life

“It’s okay to be discouraged. It’s not okay to quit. To know you want to quit but to plant your feet and keep inching closer until you take the impenetrable fortress you’ve decided to lay siege to in your own life—that’s persistence.”
― Ryan Holiday

Somewhere along the way, we’ve been lulled into this idea that we deserve an easy, unencumbered life. Like we are somehow better than the generations that came before us, our parents and grandparents. They were tough, rarely grumbled or complained about anything.

My grandpa was one of nine kids – three of them died before the age of two. His mom passed away when he was a toddler, and at age ten, he was pulled out of school to help keep the household running while his dad worked to provide food and the basic necessities. He was drafted into the Army at age 24 and was sent to Europe to fight in WW II.

He was on the front lines there for almost three years, saw atrocities that I cannot even fathom, and saw his best friend die 5 feet in front of him. You’d expect me to say that he came back a broken shell of a man, right? Wrong. He came back, married a beautiful girl, had four kids, and went to work for the State Highway Department where he worked for twenty years until he retired. You know what he did when he retired? He didn’t move to Florida. He planted ten acres of gardens and worked from sun up until sun down, ensuring that his family never went without.

My grandma’s mom died when she was two days old. Her dad was extremely abusive, so she was adopted by another family where she grew up cooking, cleaning, and raising other people’s children. She never learned to drive, in fact she never left the state of Louisiana – ever. They were married for 60 years and raised 4 kids in a 900 square foot house. They argued, then they got over it. They never gave up on each other.

They lived happily ever after, right? Wrong. Grandma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in her 70’s and my grandpa took care of her…every day (bathing, feeding, and everything else that needed to be done). He watched as she lost her ability to speak, to eat, and eventually to breathe. He never once left her side. He was a man – a true man.

I doubt my family and their hardships are much different than your family’s adversities. Life was hard…really hard. The funny thing is that I didn’t know any of what they went through until I was an adult. Why? Because they never talked about it or complained. To them, it was life – it still is.

Somehow our perception changed over time and we veered to a different perspective of what this life is all about. Because our parents and grandparents struggled, we were supposed to have an easy life? I complain more over the course of a week than my grandfather did in his entire life. Why? What happened? Why do we view life’s circumstances differently than they did? Why did they accept pain and adversity as a natural part of life, but we view it as being wronged in some way – like we drew the proverbial short straw?

“To argue, to complain, or worse, to just give up, these are choices. Choices that more often than not, do nothing to get us across the finish line.”
― Ryan Holiday

We spend more time complaining than looking for a way to make things better. Complaining about setbacks (you know like traffic, the cold, the heat, and kale) is the easy reaction. Complaining doesn’t get us anywhere worth going. Shouldn’t we expect pain, discomfort, unfairness, suffering, trouble, and terrible days? This doesn’t mean that we should walk through life waiting for the sky to fall, but we also shouldn’t be surprised when it does.

I encourage you to read and learn about people who have gone through tremendous adversities and came out on the other side, whole and unbroken. It may be in a book, it could be a family member, a neighbor, or maybe even you. It’s an attitude. Life will not break me – it may kill me, but it will never break my spirit.

It’s one of the very reasons that I took up endurance running. To purposely put myself in miserable situations as a reminder that life is not about comfort. Life is about learning how to deal with adversity without letting it defeat you.

“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”
― Marcus Aurelius

No Time For a Better Life?

One of the absolute biggest lies that we tell ourselves when we want to accomplish something is that I don’t have enough time. How is it that some people accomplish so much with their days and some of us can’t seem to get out of our own way? Obviously, much of it has to do with planning and time management.

I read a book last year called The Time Trap and it completely changed my perception of time and just how much time I was wasting on absolutely nothing but honestly if I am being truthful, it’s just easier to be lazy – not necessarily snoozing until 11 am lazy, but the spending all available free time on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat lazy.

I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with downtime, but even our downtime has lost its purpose – resting and recharging. Spending time mindlessly scrolling through news feeds, looking at the same pictures, status updates, and taking selfies with goofy ears on our heads has replaced catching up on that novel or building that model car with your kid in the garage.

It’s easy and requires little effort, whereas signing up for that graduate course is hard. The more time we trade in for the easiness of passing time, the less time we have to accomplish worthwhile goals.

I don’t have time to work out means that I am not willing to give up and hour of sleep to improve my health and fitness.

I don’t have time to go back to school means that I am not willing to give up a few nights every week for a couple of years in order to further my career.

I don’t have time to make healthy meals means that I am not willing to give up a couple of hours to meal prep on Sunday for the week ahead. 

I don’t have time to work on my marriage means that I am not willing to sacrifice an hour every evening talking about your day to make your marriage a priority.

I don’t have time is the ultimate excuse that we use everyday to avoid the hard stuff of life. 

I don’t have time essentially means that I am not willing to sacrifice my ease of existence in order to do something that could better the lives of my family. Our perceived lack of time really boils down to avoiding the hard stuff and choosing to do the easy, mindless stuff.

“Someone once asked me “why do you always insist on taking the hard road?” and I replied “why do you assume I see two roads?”      

– Unknown

We all have 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, and 8,760 hours in a year to accomplish so much more than what we think we are capable of. It isn’t about time, it’s about choices…our daily choices.

We can read books about time management, try the new diet of the month, or continue to lie to ourselves about why we aren’t where we want to be…OR we can start making different (better) choices today.

Tomorrow when you wake up, make a commitment to yourself to do one hard thing over the same easy thing that you’ve done for the past year. The more of those difficult choices that we make, the better our lives become, and even more importantly, we improve the lives of those around us.

Carrying The Fire

I stumbled across a book last month titled The Road, which was written by Cormac McCarthy. In the book, a father and son are left alone to survive in a very dark and barren landscape. As they travel through unknown and sometimes hostile environments, the two rely on each other for comfort and reassurance.

The father repeatedly talks to his son about “carrying the fire”. In the world in which they live, survival is the only hope left for them.

“We’re going to be okay, arent we Papa?

Yes. We are.

And nothing bad is going to happen to us.

That’s right. Because we’re carrying the fire.

Yes. Because we’re carrying the fire.”

It’s a dark and desolate place filled with death and chaos. Along their daily path, they repeatedly encounter others who are also trying to survive, but some of these strangers are also looking to do more than survive; some are looking to capitalize on the misfortunes and mistrust of unsuspecting passersby.

In the book, “the fire” represents what is left of the good and decency of mankind; perhaps the last twinkling ember of humanity. The father navigates a razor-thin line of protecting his son from the evils of a dying world, while also teaching him morality and kindness. Throughout the book, the boy looks to his father for constant reassurance that they are still “carrying the fire” and wants to know if “they are the good guys”.

I do not want to spoil the book, should you ever decide to pick up a copy and read it for yourself (you definitely should) but the story serves as a reminder that we should always “carry the fire” and teach our children to do the same; to be watchful but maintain moral dignity and goodness.

“You wanted to know what the bad guys looked like. Now you know. It may happen again. My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?

Yes.

He sat there cowled in the blanket. After a while he looked up. Are we still the good guys? he said.

Yes. We’re still the good guys.”

While the world that we live in is a much brighter place than the one depicted in this book, we face some of the same challenges. How do we protect our children and loved ones but also allow room for adventure and growth? How do we teach them to be suspicious of strangers without shutting off their ability to trust? Frederick Douglas once said that “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Children aren’t born strong just as men aren’t born defeated.

We have an awesome responsibility to our children and to the world. We must never allow awareness and curiosity to turn into indifference. We have to inspire and lead by example in every facet of our life. Our children are watching and they will follow our lead. Are we building strong children? Are we setting a good example for them to follow? Lead them, inspire them, and allow them to grow.

“You have to carry the fire.

I don’t know how to.

Yes you do.

Is it real? The fire?

Yes it is.

Where is it? I dont know where it is.

Yes you do. It’s inside you. It was always there. I can see it.”

If we don’t carry the fire, who will? If we don’t teach our children to carry it responsibly, the flame will extinguish. Be good, do good, and teach them how to carry the fire…always.

A Dog’s Life


The unhurried, unworried, and content contemplation of my dog is something I’ve become envious of lately. She only thinks of the present and remains unconcerned about the future. She lives in the moment.

She depends on us for food and shelter, but what she doesn’t know is that we depend on her too. We depend on her to be a constant source of unwavering love and affection in our crazy lives. She is always there to greet us, play with us, relax with us, and entertain us.

She is never concerned about tomorrow. She is content with today; we should be so lucky.