Creamy garlic soup (immunobooster)

The girls are sick. Doctor told us to eat a bunch of garlic. Soup. Garlic. Sick people. Good.

  • 4 bulbs roasted garlic
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large or medium yellow onion
  • ~Teaspoon dried thyme
  • ~Teaspoon dried basil
  • ~Tablespoon dried oregano
  • ~Tablespoon dried tarragon
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 cup (8 oz) heavy whipping cream
  • Kosher (coarse) salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Roast the garlic bulbs. Don’t know how to roast garlic? Look it up. I did 400º for ~30 minutes.
  2. Chop the onion.
  3. Saute the onion with the butter in a pot for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the herbs to the pot.
  5. Add the garlic to the pot.
  6. Add the chicken stock to the pot.
  7. Salt & pepper to taste.
  8. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
  9. Immersion blender the stuff in the pot until smooth.
  10. Add the heavy cream.
  11. Bring back to a simmer for some minutes.
  12. Stir.
  13. Eat.

The first leg of the Capital to Coast Relay


The very first leg of the Capital to Coast Relay is my favorite. It’s my favorite leg for many reasons. When my friend Harry recruited me to run this race 4 years ago, he assigned me runner #1 (legs 1, 13 and 25). It’s also the longest leg of the race at 8.95 miles. It’s also one of, if not the hardest legs of the course because we have to contend with downtown traffic and obstacles since this isn’t a normal race where there would ordinarily be street closures and police support. If you’re brave, fast and stupid enough, you can run through traffic at a red light. You also have to fight the long uphill on Congress Avenue. And it’s the most competitive leg because all of the runners are starting together. And the main reason it’s my favorite leg is that it gives me the chance to set the tone for the team.

When the announcer called us up to the starting line, I stood there for a fleeting moment and was considering letting the other teams line up and I’d just “settle in somewhere.” As fast as that thought came into my head, the better thought surfaced: “No. I’m going to line up at the very front and kick the hell out of this.” It was instant commitment. I had zero reasons to second guess myself. I knew I could do it and I wanted it. And what was most motivating was knowing that I had a team behind me that would push and fight like hell to maintain the lead time that I gave us.

When the announcer counted down and sent us on our way I took the lead when we got out of the park. I had no idea where we were going, so I turned and asked, “Does anyone know where the hell we’re going?!” Everyone laughed and said, “No, we’re following you!” Thankfully a guy pulled up the leg route on his phone and guided us through the first two turns. I remembered the rest of the route after that. After the first couple miles on Trinity, the 10 or so of us had settled into our respective paces. Three of us were at the front and had a significant lead on the rest of the pack.

We hit a red light at MLK Blvd. and my two competitors darted out between cars and kept the pace going north on Trinity to the UT campus. I got stuck at the light for what felt like an eternity and I could hear the other teams coming up behind me quickly. When the coast was clear and the light changed to green, I bolted to catch up with the two leaders. I was frustrated with the situation, but I didn’t let it get me down. I ran fast and was able to catch the first two guys in relatively short order. I decided to settle in right behind them and draft a little while. I made sure they knew I was directly behind them and I pushed them.

We made the turnaround at the campus and started back south on the downhill. That’s when I decided I was going to start making them work. I took the lead again and decided I was going to hold it for the rest of the leg. I took a deep breath, thanked the air for being 55-degrees, and I sped up. I heard them having to work behind me, so I kept making them work until I just couldn’t hear them anymore.

And I never looked back. And there was no one in sight behind me after I reached the exchange and Shawn started running the second leg of the race.

We charged on, day and night. In the afternoon we started passing people from the 4 a.m. wave and we just kept truckin’.

While it’s not official yet, I think we came in 5th place overall. 4th if the race determines that one of the teams cheated. The four teams that beat us were elites. Our team’s not elite. We’re just a bunch of Coast Busters.

Seventeen years plus a day of marriage

Today marks the first day of Fall. Elise and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last night. We stayed up too late and we ate things that our 40-something-year-old bodies just don’t agree with these days. Namely fried pickles and buffalo wings. We went to bed after midnight. We can barely pull that off on New Year’s Eve. We slept in until almost 9 a.m.

A slow start to the morning. We had scrambled eggs with spinach and toast. I wanted to go for a run so I could hit 30+ miles this week. Around 11 a.m. I felt human enough to go for a run. I asked Elise if she wanted to go for a 5-mile bike ride. She thought I was inviting her to go ride bikes. I cleared the confusion by telling her I was going to run. She could ride a bike. She agreed.

So we set out and we talked and ran and rode. It was a lot of fun. We headed east on Slaughter, north on Beckett, right on Convict Hill and checked out the progress on the Will Hampton Library. Not much progress there other than the early stages of gutting it. Then we hit the trails behind the library that connect to Dick Nichol’s park. Then we crossed Beckett again to go onto the Latta Branch greenbelt.

We meandered through puddles and the suburban streets. Just Elise and me. Talking about everything and nothing. It was a lot of fun. I love running with my wife. Even if she’s on a bike. Makes the miles just go by.

Labor Day weekend

It started on Friday while I was at work. The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB) started at 11 a.m. CST. I started watching the livestream coverage from my computer at 10 a.m. I did some work, then a bunch of us from the office walked to Super Burrito for tacos. We came back to the office, ate lunch together, and then I wrapped things up and headed home at 12:30. When I got home, Elise and I hung out, and I continued my livestream watching of UTMB.

The girls got home from school and then we drove out to Don and Gigi’s place off 1826 to hang out with the Kaisers. I ate my weight in pizza and barbecue and we just hung out with friends. Maly and all of her friends ducked into Don’s “studio” house and sang karaoke at the tops of their lungs.

On Saturday I went for a 5-miler with some of the guys from the Circle C Run Club. I rode my bike to the community center and back, thinking that might negate all the crap I’d eaten the night before.

When I got home, I watered the lawn and Elise came home from bootcamp. She had an appointment to get the Acura’s oil changed later that morning, so we loaded up the whole family and were off to the Acura dealership. We hung out there for an hour, watched the first day of college football (mostly UT and Texas Tech). It was lunchtime when the car was done, so we decided to try the Rusty Cannon Pub. I got a burger, Maly had nachos, Mara had waffles and Elise had migas. Elise and I shared a “build your own” blood mary. The pub was pretty cool. The food was good. They had football games on all of the TVs.

After lunch we hopped over to Fiesta because Elise was on the hunt for some Mexican vanilla. We couldn’t find “real” Mexican vanilla (surprise), so we bought some fruit and veggies instead. We went home afterward and watched football and UTMB highlights. I took the veggies we’d procured and made ~36 ounces of some pretty amazing (and hot) salsa.

We were all still stuffed from lunch, so Elise and I didn’t really eat dinner. I had a small brisket taco with my salsa on it that was really good. Elise had chips and salsa. I steamed an artichoke for Mara and then we pretty much called it a night. Maly spent the night at the Heisterman’s for Susan Margaret’s 12th birthday party.

On Sunday I woke up at 5 a.m. and drove out to Lakeway for a fat-burning 6-mile run with John out in the hills. We ran really slow, but it was a really good workout. I came home and I think I might’ve taken a nap at some point. Elise had something pop in her foot at last Sunday’s soccer game, so she’s out for a month. We went to Soccer Zone to watch her team play at 3 p.m. I think they won 5-1. We then went to HEB to get some whole chickens and other sundries.

We got home in time for the girls to load up and go to church. While they were gone I fired up the kamado and prepped the chicken for my first (I think) beer can chicken. The girls got home we had the smoked beer can chicken with some roasted broccoli.

Monday was a lazy day. I didn’t get out of bed until 9 a.m. Mara and I walked up the street and played with a few beetles. She got bored with beetles so we went back to the house. Elise was cleaning house, prepping for Kari’s arrival on Tuesday. I knew that we were supposed to be getting some much-needed rain, so I decided to go for a 7-mile run. My hope was that it would rain on me while running the trails. It didn’t rain. It was hot as Hades and I was soaked from head to toe when I got back.

Maly went over to Eve’s house for a few hours. I took a shower and then a 30 minute nap on the couch. Elise and Mara went through old school papers and started throwing things away. I ran up to HEB to get tortillas and avocados.

I got back to the house right before it started raining at about 4 p.m. I didn’t have the doors or windows on the Jeep, so I got home in the nick of time. I sat out in the garage and wrote a birthday card for Terri since I (unintentionally) neglected to text her on Saturday.

Then, for whatever reasons, Mara and I decided to polish rocks. The girls had been cleaning house and we had some random rocks sitting on the counter. I told Mara about polishing rocks, and she liked the idea. We picked a handful of rocks from the counter, and then we went to the backyard and picked out another handful of rocks of varying color and pattern. We needed sand, so she and I hopped in the Jeep and drove over to Gorzycki to get a cup of sand from the long jump pit by the track.

We drove back home just in time before it started raining lightly again. Mara and I put our rocks in the tumbler with our newly-acquired sand, some water, and then started the tumbler on its month-long rock tumbling job.

While our rocks were rolling around, and the sky was getting dark and the rain continued to drizzle down, Mara and I decided to try to send a sky lantern up into the air as a gift to the rain gods. Unfortunately the two remaining sky lanterns are probably a decade old. The orange one that Mara selected had a bunch of holes in it. I tried to repair as many as I could with tape, but we didn’t have much luck. I lit the paraffin wax and the balloon inflated, but I think we still had some air leakage, and the drizzling rain also weighted the balloon down. It got airborne enough to make it above our house, and then it floated back down and landed in the grass between our house and the neighbors’.

Mara and I still had fun though. It was kind of nice to have those moments with her at the end of a long weekend. I guess I needed that.

Mara’s first day of school

First day of 1st Grade today:
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First day of Kindergarten last year:
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First day of preschool 2 years ago:
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First day of preschool 3 years ago:
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Maly’s first day of school

First day of 7th Grade today:
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First day of 6th Grade last year:
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First day of 5th Grade 2 years ago:
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First day of 4th Grade 3 years ago:
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First day of 3rd Grade 4 years ago
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First day of 2nd Grade 5 years ago
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First day of 1st Grade 6 years ago:
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First day of Kindergarten 7 years ago:
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First day of school 8 years ago:
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First day of school 9 years ago:
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First day of school 10 years ago:
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The end(less) of Summer

I’m having a really hard time with Summer coming to an end. Not the season Summer. I’m ready to get the hell out of Texas and head for the mountains. Forty-two years in this state and I can’t acclimate. I’m getting crotchety and can’t tolerate the heat anymore. Anyway, I mean the end of Summer vacation. The girls start school tomorrow and I’m having a really, really hard time with it. All day I’ve been having a hard time with it. Usually Elise is the one who gets all sentimental and melancholy; but it’s me this time. I’m having a tough go of it.

She and I talked a bit about it tonight, and I think part of it is because our good friends and next door neighbors hauled off and shipped to Portland at the very beginning of the Summer. Last summer we really got to know them. A lot of the summer was spent hanging out outside in our front yards, talking, letting the kids play, breaking bread, drinking beer, laughing our asses off, keeping our kids up way too late, watching football, playing games, playing with the kids, entertaining the kids, talking to other neighbors, and just building a really good relationship. This summer, the girls and I did a lot of things, but it seems like the home time was a little less eventful because it was just kind of us. Not that that’s a bad thing, but it was a little more low-key than last year.

In an effort to remind myself of what all we did this summer, it helped to go through my phone to look at all the things we did since late May.

In no particular order, this is my brief recap. For my own solace and sanity.

Going through all that stuff, I don’t feel as bad now.  We had a lot of fun adventures and good times together.  My heart feels a lot better now.

Tubing in Bandera

Yesterday Elise had an all day photoshoot. I went for a trail run with a friend at 6:30 a.m. When I got back from my run, Elise was headed out for her photoshoot. Shortly after Elise left, Mara came up to me and asked if we could watch something on TV. I said, “get your swimsuits on. We’re going.”

So we loaded up in the car and headed west to Bandera. The girls have never floated a river. And I didn’t want to go to the overcrowded Comal or Guadalupe rivers and expose my girls to college kids and their debauchery.

We love Bandera.

Falling out of love (with running)

I think I’ve fallen out of love with running. I started running five years ago for straight-up health reasons. I didn’t like the way I looked without a shirt on. I had love handles and man boobs. So I went to the local middle school track and I ran one mile. That one mile gave me that kind of hurt that I knew was good for me. So I returned the next day. And the day after that. And then it started to hurt less. It started to feel good. And it only took about two weeks.

If we fast forward through the consistency and I actually became a really good runner. I achieved my vain fitness goal of slimming down. I compared myself to myself and friends on sites like MapMyRun and Strava. I signed up for races and did well in them. I qualified for the Boston Marathon in my very first marathon. I beat my qualifying time by a mere 2 seconds, so that didn’t actually get me into Boston, so now I had this carrot dangling in front of me to actually qualify and run the Boston Marathon.

I trained hard for the better part of a year and I signed up for a fast marathon that would allow me to obliterate my Boston Qualifying time. And I did that. I beat my BQ time by almost 10 minutes. I damn near cried at mile 24 in my qualifying race. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I remember all of those miles of that race vividly. I felt like I’d arrived as a runner when I qualified for Boston, and I received the “Congratulations” email from the Boston Athletic Association, informing me that I’d be running in the 122nd Boston Marathon.

I won first place in my age group in the 2017 Austin Distance Challenge, which is a series of 5 races ranging from 8 kilometers to a full marathon. I ran an ultra marathon in Bandera where the race is touted as “where everything bits, cuts and stings.” In my training I circumnavigated 27-miles of trails around Lake Georgetown. I ran 25 miles from a race where I’d watched friends compete all the way back to my house at the opposite side of town. I did this through neighborhoods and trails on our greenbelt. I ran long distances in 8-degree temperatures in Des Moines during the Christmas break as part of my ultra training. My beard and mustache froze. I captained a team of 12 to a division 4th place finish in a 223-mile relay from Austin to Corpus Christi.

It was after Boston that I think I fell out of love with running. I’d done the thing that I think most runners dream and aspire to do.

And it was just that I’d run THE Boston Marathon. I think I ran one of the most difficult Boston Marathons. It was 37-degrees. There was a brutal headwind the entire 26.2 miles. And it was pouring rain the whole time. It was an extremely tough race. I like to do “epic” things in my training, whatever my training may be. Like running 25 miles home from a race. Or running 20 miles in 8-degree weather. Or circumnavigating a lake.

So in my training leading up to Boston, and the conditions in which I ran Boston, I guess I thought I’d achieved awesomeness.

Everyone asked me what I was going to do next after Boston. I’d smile and say, “I’m not signed up for anything. I’m going to take it easy and fall back in love with running.” My thought was to do just that. Relive that first year after I’d started running for simple health reasons. After that initial pain went away and running was something I REALLY looked forward to. I loved waking up before my alarm and before the sun, bolting out of bed, putting on my shoes and taking that first step out the front door. The night before I’d probably curated some really cool playlist. I’d head out and haul ass. And I’d smile and laugh and think.

I’m trying to rekindle that excitement and vigor. I’m having a hard time finding it. Maybe it’s the heat of the Texas summer. Maybe I need to curate playlists and listen to music again. Maybe zone out to a podcast. Maybe be more of a social runner.

I think I get that running is a lot like everything else in life. It ebbs and flows. Peaks and valleys. They say in ultra running that there are lots of highs and lows. The lows will get really low where your mind takes you to deep and dark places and you don’t know how you’ll ever get out of it. You’ll want to quit. You’ll tell yourself how badly you suck. And before you know it, the low will be gone and you’ll crest at a peak and it’ll be an unbelievable high.

I think I’m in a low right now. It’s a long low. I’m hoping there’s a long high at the end of this, if I can find the end to this damn thing.

Until then, I’ll just keep trudging the path. One foot in front of the other.

Boston Marathon: t-minus 7 days

As I type this it’s exactly one week from the Boston Marathon. I’ve had a lot of thoughts in the past few weeks. A lot of those thoughts have been about my overall health. I’m still suffering from a bit of pain in my right foot from when I banged it against a rock on a run back on Valentine’s Day. It’s been a bit of a niggling pain, and I’m sure it’ll go away in due time, but because the pain is there, I’m not at 100%. Couple that with getting bit in the back of the right calf yesterday by a dog on the trail, and now I have some tenderness there.

Boston is not only the Holy Grail of marathons, but for us, it’s also going to be a family trip. Elise, Maly and Mara are coming with me, as are my sisters, Terri & Lisa, and my bros-in-law, Craig & Ron. There’s the logistic of getting our family there, the accommodations, the travel, the tours and site seeing, the eating, and, unfortunately, the weather. It’s still winter-like in Boston while the beautiful spring is in full-force here in Austin.

I know Elise is stressed with the logistic part, which then makes me stressed. And next Monday, I’m going to have to get up early, I’ll probably wake at 4ish a.m. to start getting ready. I know I’ll have to eat something, have some coffee, do some pre-race biological stuff (you don’t want to have to do that stuff mid-race), and then figure out how to get to the bus that’s toting me to the start line in Hopkington. Our AirBnB is 2.7 miles from where the bus leaves at MIT, so I’m debating on if I Uber it or walk. Will I even be able to get an Uber when 30,000 other people are probably hailing Ubers at the same time. Or, if I decide to go on a 6 a.m. stroll along the Charles River, will I be exerting too much energy before running 26 miles? I’m sure the nerves of having the opportunity to run Boston are going to burn a lot of much-needed calories, as will shivering from the cold.

My bus leaves at 7:15 sharp. My wave doesn’t start until 10 a.m. There’s just so much hubbub, and it’s stressful to me. I guess this is just an exercise and finding balance among the stresses and the end game of actually getting to run in the Boston Marathon. People keep asking me, “what all are you guys going to do while in Boston?!” Invariably I just tell them that I’m showing up to run the marathon. I guess I just need to keep mindful of that. That and just throw my hands up, look up to the sky and embrace whatever comes. I think that’s it. I think that’s what I’ll do. Take it all in stride, enjoy the ride, revel in the run, the trip, the new town, the experience, and the time with family.

Busted foot

When I ran the 14-something miles home via the trail on Valentine’s Day, I banged my right foot against a rock pretty good. I didn’t think anything much of it at the time as something always hurts or ends up hurting on 80% of my runs, especially on trails. I kept to my training plan for the remainder of that week and into the weekend. I ran 10 miles on Saturday and almost 20 miles on Sunday. My foot was hurting pretty good Sunday evening and into the next week. It hurt enough that I knew I shouldn’t run on it. So I listened to my body and took the week off.

Saturday rolled around, it was a nice day, so I decided to hit the trails and go on a little 10k run. A mile in I decided I’d go a little further out on the trail to parts that I hadn’t explored yet. I wound up getting lost and hitting some portions that were pretty technical. By the time I’d gotten back to the house, I wound up running nearly 12 miles. I felt some discomfort in my foot throughout the run, but I didn’t think I was actually injured.

On Sunday I woke up at 5:30 to go run with some friends on the trail downtown. When my foot hit the ground while getting out of bed, I knew I wasn’t going to do any running that day. I hobbled to the bathroom and the pain shot through my foot on every step.

The pain was enough that I knew I probably needed to see the doctor. I couldn’t get an appointment with my general practitioner, so I scheduled an appointment with the local sports medicine clinic. They X-rayed my foot, the doctor asked me all the questions and did some motion and pressure tests on my foot. The X-rays indicated no fractures (although I do have gnarly foot bones), which was good. That’s what I wanting to find out. If something was broken, I wasn’t going to try to push through a run and make things a lot worse. I opted to not get an MRI, and the doctor was fine with that. He thinks it’s either a bone bruise and/or tendon inflammation that just needs some good old rest and some Ibuprofen.

So, I rest for some days, take some Ibuprofen, and ease back into running. I think I’m going to not look at my training plan until I’m feeling 95% healthy again, but still try to maintain my endurance and stamina. Boston’s in 6 weeks!

Valentine’s Day run commute and kickball defeat

I finally did the run commute thing. After I got home, I had to jump in the car and drive back downtown with Elise to play on her kickball team as they were down a lot of players since it was Valentine’s Day. We lost 10-0. That’s okay though. I got to spend the evening with my bride.

The Bandera 50K Endurance Run

Elise: “How long do you think it’ll take you to finish Bandera?”

Josh: “No clue.”

“I know. But what time do you think you’ll be done?”

“I seriously don’t know.”

“…”

“…”

“…”

“I just want to finish the thing. If I did it in under 6 hours I’d be over the moon.”

I finished the Bandera 50K in 5:44:17. I could’ve come in closer to 5 hours had I known what I was doing at the beginning. I started the race in the back half of the field. The trail at the Hill Country State Natural Area is a very technical single track trail, which makes it pretty hard to pass people. But I’m not concerned. I had a lot of fun and I’m happy with my performance.

And that was the damn hardest thing I’ve ever done. Six hours of running is a lot of running.

I hadn’t gotten all of my long runs in during this training period, but I did put in a lot of effort runs that really helped top off the mental fortitude. I ran 27 miles circumnavigating Lake Georgetown on the Goodwater Trail Loop. I ran 25 miles from the Decker Challenge half marathon back to my house, going through the greenbelt. I ran 21 miles in 20 degree weather without food or water over the Christmas break in West Des Moines. I ran a few other shorter distances during the break in single-digit temperatures. All of those helped in affirming that running is 90% mental. The other 10% is mental.

The ultra marathon scene is so much different than the road running scene. Folks are so friendly, funny and outgoing. And I didn’t know it at the time, but I was sharing the trail with ultrarunning legends. Jim Walmsley was crewing for Cody Reed, who took 2nd place in the 100K and earned a Golden Ticket to the Western States Endurance Run. Camille Herron took the women’s 1st place and earned a Golden Ticket as well. Camille Herron also owns the record for the fastest 100 mile race at a breakneck average 7:38 pace. And she drinks beer during her ultras.

At some point during the race I came upon an older gentleman in shorty shorts, no shirt, knees wrapped in blue and purple wraps, and lugging a water bottle that looked older than me and a plastic bread bag with some potatoes(?) in it. I really thought about running alongside him for a while and chatting because I was pretty sure that he’d have some stories to tell. He looked like he’d put more miles on his feet than I have in my 27 years of driving. But I was pretty set on gaining ground, so I didn’t chat with him. I think I might’ve said “howdy” as I ambled past him. I don’t recall if he said anything to me.

Come to find out, that gentleman was Gordy Ainsleigh, the godfather of ultra running. Gordy was the first human to run the 100 miles of what is now the Western States Endurance Run through the mountains and valleys of the Sierra Nevada, and the most coveted ultra marathon. Gordy accomplished this feat of awesomeness in 1974 because he didn’t have a horse in the 3rd running of the race. The race used to be the Western States Trail Race and was originally a horse race with the goal to finish within 24 hours. On a horse. Ainsleigh ran the same course on foot, and came in within 24 hours. I ran next to that man this past Saturday. I have postpartum starstruckedness.

It was a great weekend. Elise, Maly and Mara where there to see me cross the finish line. We’d arrived in Bandera the night before, grabbed Subway for dinner and picked up some food and sundries at the local grocery store, and hit the hay in our little cabin rental. I woke up early on Saturday, did my morning pre-race ritual stuff, and drove out to the Hill Country State Natural Area and shivered for a half hour before the race started.

After the race we drove back into Bandera and had lunch at the OST Restaurant with John. That was really awesome that he drove all the way out there to see us.

It was a fun weekend. The race was hard as hell, but it was still fun, and that’s the important part.