Herb Parson’s Marathon/Half Marathon

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Henry Parsons Trail Marathon/Half Marathon

 

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” -Henry David Thoreau
January 3, 2016

Here we are, not 3 full days into the new year, and I'm freezing my ass off at 6am while driving out to some Godforesaken trail to run another Godforesaken race. I have spent the last 3 weeks preparing for this race by... not doing much of anything. I have ran NONE, and eaten MUCH. On top of an already poor diet, I went on a three day Christmas food bender at my Mother-in-Law's house doing suicide ladders of fudge, chicken ball, and pork; back and forth, back and forth. They say that the human body is like 80% water or some sh*t, but I was at LEAST a 30% combination of fudge and pork...I regret nothing. It was the best Christmas since LazerTag. An extra ten pounds of love was gonna have to work, cause it was sticking on me like cake batter.


The morning was perfect for me. It was freezing cold, and the temps would be slowly rising, but not get up past about 55 degrees. I was delighted to see all of my friends who were either participating or hanging out during the race. It was all of the usual suspects, plus some. The half marathon was going to start thirty minutes after the full marathon, and the full was an "out and back, twice". This meant I would be able to see everyone, at least once. I knew that Brian Williams and Lisa Barker would be volunteering at different aid stations, so it was comforting to know that I was running towards familiar faces. Unfortunately, those familiar faces just tell you the same damn thing overtime you see them. It's generally the same dialogue:

 
Aid Station Helpers (Brian Williams/Lisa Barker/Frank Dembia/ James Holland):"Hey, how you feeling?"


Me: "I feel like sh*t. I think my feet have snapped off at the ankles and are only being held on by my shoelaces. My nipples rubbed off four miles ago, and the left side of my face is sagging. It's like a horror film/war movie out here, you gotta help me."


Aid Station Helpers: "Sure, we would love to help. We have M&M's, potatoes, PB&J, and Vaseline. You're doing great, keep up the good work, bye bye now."


I was originally running with Billy Moore, which I knew was dumb cause he is badass and can run forever, but I was enjoying the company while I had it. We reached the aid station and I stopped at the buffet line. He decided to continue on, (as if it were some kind of race or something). I made it to the quarter point, when Lisa Barker says, "where's Amanda?", and I said, "she is coming. She is back there a little bit with David." Lisa just kinda smiled and said, "yeah, cause she runs smart, and you just kinda take off all crazy." Ain't that the truth! Anyways, I knew my time with Amanda would be soon enough. I kept fair pace to about the halfway point, when I started to feel the pinch. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you want to look at it, my friends (Amanda Drogmiller,Stefanie Williams, Brian Swanson, and Mark Fortune) were there to remove any option of quitting. Mr. Swanson was kind enough to mix up my Tailwind, because my co-ordination was fading. It was re-energizing to see the gang, to put it mildly.

At the halfway point, I was able to pass Amanda in an opposite direction, and she says, "Im not gonna make the cutoff." I assured her that we were well above cutoff, and we had plenty of time. I waited a minute or so for her to catch up, and for me to catch my breath, and I would get to enjoy the next 6-7 miles with her, before she ultimately left me sucking air, and repeating the "F" word over and over, par usual. She did, however, get to see Beefcake do what Beefcake do best, and that is...bust my ass. I grabbed a root and went down hard. Fortunately, I rolled over by using a technique called the "Floor Food Turnover" or "DoubleF-T". This is a technique which is put into practice, generally during massive hangovers, when you know that you are going to do nothing but eat and sleep all day. You buy $30 worth of Taco Bell at 10am. In between naps, while facing the pillows of the couch, you gracefully fold your arm backward all the way to the floor and without looking, grab an individually wrapped taco. If you practice this move often enough, it will eventually become second nature, and you can implement it during situations just like this.  I "DoubleF-T'd" on my back, and was proud to know that I had actually fell forward. At times, during long runs, I feel like I am going so slow that I am actually going backwards. Soon after, Amanda would frolic lightly into the woods, not to be seen by me again, until the end of the race. 


"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome"-Samuel Johnson

We had completed another trail race, and this was all well and good, but the REAL goodness was in watching a couple of friends of mine dominate what they previously believed that they couldn't. My friend Melisa Burgess is one tough chick. She has been through some stuff in her life, as all of us have, and has come out on the other side. What she has been through is not important, but the fact that she lowered her shoulders and went directly through it is where I find inspiration. Upon bettering herself Melisa also quit smoking about a year ago, and did what people do when they quit smoking; She put on a few pounds. She felt bad about herself. She had a bad self image. She was angry, lashed out at everyone, and laid on her couch and felt sorry for herself. NOPE. She got her sh*t together, reached out to others, and worked her ass off. I would watch her progress on FB and was inspired, not only by her, but the supportive comments that her friends made. As she got further and further in her goals, I sent her a text, begging for her to sign up for Herb Parson's. This was her reply:


I have never, in all my life, been called such a horrible thing.
I have never, in all my life, been called such a horrible thing.

 

I told her to come and see how far she could run, and just stop when she felt overly tired or hurt. She did the toughest part, and registered for the race. When Amanda and I were starting the second half of our marathon we saw Melisa coming in the opposite direction. My day was made, and at that point, I knew that I was going to finish.


Proud of my buddy, Melisa
Proud of my buddy, Melisa
 

A little bit behind Melisa was my new friend Debbie Lindsey. I asked Debbie when I first met her, why she decided to get her sh*t together. She told me that she had spent her life at the ballfields watching kids and grandkids be active, and now it was her turn. This woman, in her mid fifties, has jumped in with both feet! I pleaded with her to do the half marathon with us, and just see how far she could make it. She said, no way, but the people at Olive Branch CrossFit encouraged her just to sign up. Just make the move, sign up, and see what happens. Well, what happened was that Debbie showed up in her ass kicking boots, and tore up and down both directions of that trail, and conquered all doubt. It was a wonderful thing. Debbie Lindsey and Melisa Burgess, I owe you a big "thank you" for an extremely awesome day!


My girl Debbie kicking that ass. Thats what AR. women do...they kick ass.
My girl Debbie kicking that ass. Thats what AR. women do…they kick ass.

 

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,

Wilson “Beefcake” Horrell

Welcome to the new LiftHeavyRunLong.com

We got bumper stickers. Men have put into space with less effort.
We got bumper stickers. Men have put into space with less effort.

January 4, 2016

When i was about 12-13 years old I used to light my hair on fire. I would practice with a lighter in front of a mirror and let it flame as high as I could before burning my scalp. I thought it was cool as sh*t. My friends thought it was awesome, and my parents would have hated it. There was no logical reason for this, but I liked doing it. When I was a little bit older, I used to pierce my ear on Fridays before going to the Winchester Court movie theater. After enjoying an evening of cool as sh*tness, I would let it grow back so my parents wouldn’t see it. The next Friday night, as me and my loser friends were headed back to the theater in search of that ever elusive girl to possibly be willing to sit next to us, and maybe hold hands, I would pierce it again.   I thought it was cool as sh*t. Once again, no real rhyme or reason, but I felt compelled to do it anyway. When I was in 4th grade, my idol was Brian “The Boz” Bosworth. Like Boz,  I wore a flat-top haircut with paint down the sides. I actually put stripes of red and white paint in my hair before going to school in fourth grade. I thought it was cool as sh*t. My teacher hated it. There was no rationale behind the paint in my hair, but I loved it. I just had to do it.

Isnt he beautiful? I know...I know..Bo Jackson. Let's move past this.
Isnt he beautiful? I know…I know..Bo Jackson. Let’s move past this.

I didn’t need rationale, and I wasn’t asking for approval. Sometimes, I get these godawful ideas, and I just have to follow through with them, I just must. Whatever the idea, it’s all consuming, and I cannot proceed with anything else until either I follow through with the decision, or I am derailed and become fixated on something else (usually the latter). These are three examples of a 39 year career of decision making that have two constants behind every action. The reasoning behind most things I have done, and still do today are these:
1. There is no real reasoning. 
2. I think whatever it is… it’s cool as sh*t.

This leads me to my latest exciting, poorly thought out objective, which is lacking any real direction and the primary reason for doing it is two-fold:

1. I like the name. 
2. It’s cool as sh*t.

With all this being said…
Welcome to LiftHeavyRunLong.com

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A couple of years ago, I became fascinated with the idea of meeting the requirements for the 50/400 Club on the LiftHeavyRunLong.com website. The 50/400 club is essentially a mix of strength and endurance. The qualifications are simple, run a 50mile race and deadlift 400lbs (300lbs for the ladies). I somehow manged to achieve the goal, and VOILA…nothing happened.  Like anything else, I learned that meeting the goal, albeit very satisfying, was nothing compared to the experiences I had on the journey. The community of people surrounding lifting heavy weights and running long distances is as genuine, diverse, and fun loving of a group as you can find. I couldn’t help but to think about all the good and all the fun that could potentially come from creating a large community of people who are interested in lifting a little heavier, running a little farther, and being a little bit better than they were yesterday and the day before. I imagine what good could come from the person who is still on the couch being encouraged by someone who has been at this for a while.

I approached Von Ralls, the guy responsible for the Lift Heavy Run Long concept, and I told him that I wanted to play with the site, and see if we could attract some members and see where this whole thing will lead. In typical Von fashion, he was like, “yeah man, thats cool”.  We discussed the fact that neither of us had any idea where we would go with this, but were sure to make good time getting there. This is what we know:
**We know that we want to encourage people.

**We know that we want to help people feel comfortable at various events and races, and help them know that they are supported.

*We know that we want everyone to feel included, and for everyone to have a voice.

*We know we want to provide information about events and training programs in different areas, and encourage others to give their feedback on them.

*We know we want to feature members and get to know about different athletes and the different obstacles and victories that they have experienced.

*We want to provide as much social support at different events as possible (bc that is where the real fun is).

But at the end of the day, we basically know 2 things:

1. We don’t know what the hell we are doing.
2. It’s gonna be cool as sh*t.

So, come be part of the group at LiftHeavyRunLong.com . We are still figuring out the best way to make the website both interactive and interesting. Feel free to either post ideas, or send us a message. It is YOUR community, so please feel free to post your blogs, race reports, create events, or even sell your sh*t on the classifieds section. We want to hear your PR’s, goals, and accomplishments. We are here to encourage, not critique. If you are proud of what you are doing, then we are proud of you, and we want to stand behind you. Life is too short to not kick a little ass and have some fun along the way. Come join us, CAUSE….
Its gonna be cool as sh*t.

Peace, Love, and all things Beef Related.
Wilson “Beefcake” Horrell

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St Jude Marathon 2015

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St Jude Marathon 2015
“I thank thee not for opening the gates of heaven and letting me in, but for opening the gates of hell and letting me out.”–anonymous

About 5 years ago, I was smack dab in the middle of a self-induced crisis. Drugs and alcohol ruled my life, and I was left hopeless in a suicidal state of depression. There was no getting out of this one, and the only thing that I knew for certain was that things were NOT going to get better. Like many of us, I believe myself to be pretty clever and wish to do things my way, right up until my ox gets stuck in the ditch and I’m left flailing my arms, asking God for help (while also blaming him, and pitifully crying, “why me, why me?”…whatever). Being in this most uncomfortable situation, I did the only thing I knew to do; I made a deal with God. I said, “get me out of this sh*t and I will be a regular saint. You have never seen a guy who will behave and be as helpful as I will. Do this one favor, and I’ll never ask you for nothin else ever again.” Well, low and behold, he got me outta that jam, and provided me with the greatest life I could ever ask for. I mean there is truly not an area in my life where I don’t feel blessed. I honestly feel like I have swiped a sirloin off the devil’s plate and left him paying the bill. With all that being said, as far as my end of the deal? Well, I have done virtually none of what I promised. I have changed a few things, and strived to be better in a couple of areas (most of them with a selfish motive), but as far as REALLY holding up my end of the deal…..fart sound. But there is this dude, this fella named Danny Thomas. Ole Danny’s life had seemingly gone down the sh*tter back in the late 1940’s early 50’s, and he gave a most similar request to God as I (albeit probably with fewer expletives) and I’m sure less drama. What he said was this:

“Show me my way in life, and I will build you a shrine.”– Danny Thomas

A shrine? Really? Like, define shrine. IF I said shrine, and IF I followed through with my end (which would be highly unlikely), it would be like a couple of rocks, a framed picture, and maybe a candle or something. I’m not real sure what it would look like, but I can promise you this….it wouldn’t be what St. Jude is today. I mean, the balls on this guy. I don’t know all the details, but I do know that you don’t just decide to build a “shrine”, make a few phone calls to a couple of friends, have a couple cocktails with some out-of-towners, pull a few permits, and wake up to 2.5million square feet worth of miracle making, life saving facilities. You gotta endure more than your fair share of door slams, hang ups, ridicule, laughter, and disapproving head shakes, all of which were clearly overcome by what I believe where three essential ingredients 1. Perseverance 2. Fortitude 3. An extreme lack of ****’s given.
This weekend, December 5 2015, my family and about 20,000 of my closest friends were the benefactors of everything that is RIGHT with the city of Memphis, while aiding in the fight against something very wrong and sad. The St. Jude marathon weekend will go down as one of my most memorable weekends for a multitude of reasons. There was so much love, emotion, and giving, combined with so much co-ordination, hard work, and patience that it exposed Memphis to be the great city that I believe it to be.

Upon arriving at the Convention Center on Friday night for packet pick-up, it was clear that this thing was HUGE. People were everywhere trying to get their bibs, answer questions, and get directions. Seeing as how I don’t ever have any answers, know where I am located, nor where I am supposed to be, it was Beefcake’s worst nightmare. Upon packet pick up I was informed that there had been a mistake and St. Jude had not reserved the room for my family and I. The volunteers jumped on this IMMEDIATELY, and were as patient, kind, and apologetic as anyone could have been. With as much chaos going on, it would have been very easy for them to brush me aside (and honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed them if they had), but they were quick to action. They continuously thanked me for my patience, and I informed them that I had a comfortable bed about 30minutes away, and this was not a real “problem”. St Jude booked us a room at the Westin and even moved my mom into a room over there, as she was originally paying for a room at the Sheraton, so she could watch over the children (which she did, magnificently!! THANKS YA-YA). We got some food and some sleep, and we were all smiles Saturday morning.

At 7am we met up with Team Full Motion and our crew from Olive Branch CrossFit, which ALWAYS makes for a good time. There is not anyone in that group who takes themselves too seriously and we are always lovingly picking at one another, with no one being the victim for too long…but no one is safe either. I’m lucky to know such kind and playful souls.
With 8am fast approaching, we disperse and start moving towards our appropriate “stalls” at the starting line. With 20,000 people, they have to stagger the start with each person starting in a “stall” based on their expected pace during the race to avoid people getting trampled. I saw so many people that I knew, both running and supporting, that it made the start exciting. I had a few moments to pause and take it all in, and I did not waste the opportunity. I have a beautiful, loving wife, healthy children, all of my faculties are somewhat in tact, and a shirt that is so tight that my tits looked like a loaded pastry bag with enough icing to decorate a royal wedding cake, and my love handles were jammed in so tight that it looked like I had stolen Cam Newton’s rib pads. I coulda taken a bullet to the side and never known. I looked like I was sponsored by Spanx. I was the original Tits McGhee ***side note: Regardless of time or venue, my dad will absolutely crumble with laughter if ever I refer to myself or anyone else as this name. I once called him Tits McGhee in his living room and I swear to God I thought he was going to die from hysterics. I never miss the opportunity. End side note*** On the loudspeakers they were playing “Born to Run” and it was hard not to feel the adrenaline. I’m not the world’s biggest Springsteen fan, but my brother and his friends taught me that you don’t have to like him, but you better damn well respect him, and if given the opportunity, you need to feel him in his music. I was feeling it. My stall approached the starting line, and we were off. I immediately felt like sh*t, but was happy to be part of the event. There was action EVERYWHERE! People with signs and noise makers, percussion lines and bands, and aid stations…it was nuts. I kept waiting to loosen up and get the “feel goods”, but they just weren’t coming. I passed a percussion group of probably 20kids, and they were BAD A*S! It was the best I would feel all day (that was at like mile 6, and the adrenaline lasted like 4minutes…it was the other 6.5 hours I had to worry about). There was always a familiar face, or distraction to take away from the misery, and my attitude was always good. There was no part of me that ever felt like quitting, but there was no part of me that felt like running either. I came across a child whose sign read, “I did 4 weeks of chemo, you can do this” and another sign that said, “SMILE….Jake always did” and I began to cry. That’s some pretty powerful perspective. About mile 10 I was already taking walk breaks, and was steady mixing in walking by the halfway point. My only concern was meeting the cutoff, aside from the possibility of DNF’ing, I was enjoying the day.
At about mile 14, Amanda came running past, and I flagged her down and we checked in on each other. I usually start quite a bit faster than her, and then her consistency takes me over at the end as I run outta gas. However, we weren’t anywhere close to the end, and I could feel that she sensed my struggle. Either way, she knew I would keep waddling, and worst case grab a random stranger and get to know everything about them along the way. We were running through a pretty lonely area in a pretty bad part of town, and I couldn’t help to think about how nice it would be if a thug attacked me, stuck a knife into my well insulated love handle, and I would be relieved from the race with a good story, and even better excuse. Being as heavily “spankd” as I was, I wondered if maybe I had been shanked and just didn’t know it. Either way, I had to keep moving.
After the halfway point, things start to slow down. The fanfare is dead, and there is not much to look at. However, if I could make it through the down stretch, then I would reach the 19.6 mark. 19.6 was were they would pull you from the course if you were not there by 1:15pm. After that, assuming they did not take down the timing equipment, I would at least finish. “This is some bulls*it”, I told myself as I gimped on down the way. The road was pounding on my feet, hips, and knees. I could not see why anyone would prefer this over a trail, but I guess 240lbs is not the ideal weight to be running on anything, let alone pavement. That’s when I hit a pivotal moment in the race. The thought crossed my mind, “I really need to lose some weight. I need to get focused and shed about 25lbs.” After I was done with this illogical garbage, I was left hit with the lightning bolt. It was the idea that would carry me through the next 7 miles. I thought, ” I’m gonna go to Kooky Canuck’s, eat that bigass cheeseburger, and get my picture on the wall…that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.” I walked, I waddled, I walked some more, and upon entering the AutoZone Park at the finish line, I heard the all too familiar bellowing laugh of Brian Williams who was standing on the overhead walkway. Now I’m a sensitive guy, and being laughed at generally hurts my feelings, however Brian was far from laughing AT me. Being that Brian knows better than anyone the times that I should be finishing different races at different distances, he knew that I had absolutely fallen apart during this race. He also knows just EXACTLY what this feels like. On top of this, I think that the all too familiar thoughts of my bitchin, cussing, and moaning just had Brian in stitches. I had finished. It was over. Ultimately, Kooky Canuck’s would strategically keep me from the 4lb burger, as they knew it would result in a total loss for them (they tried to stall Beefcake, knowing I couldn’t wait the one hour prep time). With both Jackson Ralls, and my son Grayson having absolute confidence me, I was about to be the LeBron James of burgers. It was a wise move by the management of Kooky Canuck’s.

All the crappy running aside, it was a most excellent weekend. I had a great time with my family and with my friends. The event was everything and a WHOLE lot more than I had visualized. I will say this, Memphis has its share of problems, nobody will deny this. There are things that need to be addressed and changes that need to be made. That being said, I believe it is a great city with great people. Outside of supporters and volunteers, I probably watched a hundred people honk or yell something from their vehicle during the course of the race. Everyone who yelled had something encouraging or uplifting to say. The people who knock our city are the ones who sit behind their computer or in front of their TV, bitching and moaning about what is wrong, and have not participated in an event or even witnessed any of the great things going on in this town. I encourage you to get involved in some capacity, with some organization (even if it is as selfishly as I did), and see what a difference it can make on your perspective. I thank each and every one of you that supported St Jude in any way. Any city that comes together and raises over $8million dollars to help sick children has a lot to offer.

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related.
Wilson Horrell

The Living Eulogy of Darrell Clements

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December 1, 2015

Barnabus Farkleberg Darnell Clements IV (aka Darrell) was born before the days of record keeping in a small mining town in West Virginia. Darrell ran away from home when he was 3 years old in search of a happier life with less work hours and longer weekends. Darrell lived most of his life in the public eye, and was no stranger to adversity. Darrell first stepped onto the public scene as a child television star of the popular show “Gunsmoke”, and was immediately catapulted through the ranks and labeled as America’s darling child actor, “Dashing” Darrell Clements had made his way. As most of you are aware, his success was short lived as huffing paint thinner became his only passion. Darrell had to be institutionalized, and was off the scene for the remainder of his formidable years.

Ole Barnabus Darnell was never one to stay down long, and he responded well to the medications provided in treatment. Pretty soon he was released to the public to follow his dreams, and that is when Dashing Darrell was born again; his second chance would not be wasted. At 15 years old with only $30 to his name, Darrell invested in his first Alpaca.  Actually, he thought he was buying a donkey that just kind of looked like a camel, but his error proved profitable. Darrell diversified his portfolio between Alpaca’s and Shetland ponies, and soon became the most successful Alpaca/Shetland pony breeder in North America. However, the money wasn’t the only thing that attracted Darrell to the business. Darrell met his first love, Trixie McGhee, the infamous bareback Shetland pony rider/trainer that traveled the country with the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, where she captured the hearts of all of us, but especially Farkleberg Darnell. They had what seemed to be the perfect relationship on the outside, until she went missing and was never found again. It seemed that Darrell’s life had taken a turn for the worse. He turned into a recluse, seldom seen, lest he was buying a can of paint thinner and some shop rags at local hardware stores.

As time went by, Darrell’s anger both with himself and society seemed to grow more and more acute. Not being one to rest on his laurel’s, Dashing Darrell decided to find an outlet for his anger, as well as another successful avenue filled with both notoriety and another shot at love. Darrell moved to the mid-south Memphis area as a young adult and got involved with the local wrestling scene. On most Saturday mornings and Monday nights you could find Dashing Darrell in his patented sequined tights and flowing cape. As his popularity was growing with the locals, so was his love for what would be his future wife, Rachel. Rachel had already won the hearts of every woman and child in Memphis as the area’s top female wrestler. With her patented move, The Ratchet, Rachel “The Ratchet” held the mid-south’s most prized title belt….she also decided to hold Darrell’s hand in marriage.

As years went by, Rachel Ratchet and Dashing Darrell flew under the radar and kept mostly to themselves. That all ended when the Ratchet was caught trying to poison Darrell to death with Arsenic. No jury in the area was going to convict the Ratchet of wrongdoing, as most knew Darrell to be insufferable at times. However, Rachel did plea a deal and had to spend two months in jail. While in jail, Darrell and The Ratchet reconciled and rekindled their love for one another. The timing was perfect because another business opportunity was heading down the pipes. While in jail, Rachel had bunked with a notoriously successful debt collector and hitman, Gail “The Grinder” Watson. While Rachel had a well known history of gambling, and manipulation, she bullied Darrell into fronting her the cash to run a sports book. On top of this, she forced Darrell into refereeing both little league and local high school football games, where Darrell’s job was to fix the scores. This was a runaway success, and with Gail the Grinder making sure all bets were paid “properly”, either in cash or broken bones, the business grew and grew. Darrell’s end of days were nearing as his desire for money and power had led him into the lowest moment of his life. Darrell Clemence had been fingered as the deflater of the game balls for a fixed pee-wee football game, and his career and reputation had been shattered. Darrell the Deflator was how Barnabus Farkleberg Darnell Clements IV would be identified for his last remaining moments on this earth. In a desperate attempt to minimize his sentence for this repulsive action, Darrell ratted out both the Ratchet and the Grinder in what would be the last bad decision of his life. The Ratchet and The Grinder did what The Ratchet and The Grinder do, and that is why we are all standing here today.

We can all stand to learn something from the life of Darnell, whether it be the profitability of Alpaca’s, the allure of sequined wrestling tights, the downside of pee-wee sport’s gambling, or the dangers of angry women, Barnabus Farkleberg will be remembered in our hearts forever. We can only hope that Darrell is enjoying the big Alpaca farm in the sky, while riding his majestic shetland pony, and possibly rekindled his love for Trixie McGhee. Rest easy, Dasher, you will be sorely missed.

Tunnel Hill 50/100 Miler

Monday, November 16, 2015

Tunnel Hill 50/100 mile race report

 

“Good judgment comes from experience, and experience…..well, that comes from poor judgment.”–  A.A. Milne

 

The 2015 Tunnel Hill 50/100 mile race in Vienna, IL. was easily the most emotionally diverse and gratifying 14hours and 52 minutes of my life to this point. Two years prior to this race, I did not even know that 50 mile races existed, much less that largely unathletic, overweight, middle aged dudes participated in them. The first person I ever met who had participated in one of these events was Von Ralls, the owner of Olive Branch CrossFit. He has a website (liftheavyrunlong.com) that highlights different runners who combine a mixture of strength and distance. The “50/400 club” is for any person who has competed in at least one 50 mile event and deadlifted 400lbs. While this seemed very much to be an unattainable goal, I was still largely interested in what it would take to achieve the goal. The answer was excruciatingly painful, as the only two things required were a little dedication, and lots of hard work (both of which I disdain). This had become my obsession: 50 miles, 400 pounds. But first, there was a matter of finishing a 5k, which I did VERY SLOWLY, then took a running class, which I did begrudgingly, and after that? Well, that was when things got easy. Going from the couch to the 5k was a bi*tch, but going from the 5k to the 50miles, that was a piece of cake in comparison. The extra 47 miles was made significantly easier because of one simple factor, friendship. FRIENDSHIP AND COMMUNITY. What I found along my journey to the 50 miler was a community of people who wholeheartedly believed that I could get this done, and if they didn’t believe it, they sure did a helluva job faking it, cause they wanted to see ol Beefcake laying tits up in the woods somewhere (which was not far from what happened). I had signed up for the Tunnel Hill 50 miler while riding an emotional high after BARELY surviving the Sylamore 50K back in February of this year. A group of us decided that we would get on a training plan and ride to Vienna, IL. together. Well, we rode together, but the training plan…that never happened. We were gonna have to wing it. Their had been a great deal of CrossFit, cross training, and a little bit of running mixed in, but we were far from a group of “prepared runners”.

Friday- Day before the race

On Friday, November 13 Von Ralls, David Lomax, Amanda Horrell, and myself packed up in David’s Volvo at about noon, made a quick drop at Starbuck’s, and began the 4 hour adventure to Vienna, IL. We decided to stop by and pick up our registration packets on the way into town. This way we only had dinner, drop bag prep, and sleeping in front of us before the race. We arrived at the parking lot to get our packets. David parked in the VERY last parking spot, furthest away from the building. As we were bitching about the distance that we had to walk, we realized the irony in complaining about a quarter mile walk, when we were here to do 50 miles. We checked into our hotel, and headed to O’Charley’s to get down on some grub. Burgers, steaks, and fries were the fare and we pounded them down. Back at the room, we began “planning” to fight a monster that we had never seen, in an area that we had never been. We laid out every hour’s worth of nutrition and hydration, and estimated what was going to hurt, and when. To say that God was laughing at our futile attempts to control the situation would have been an understatement. Belly’s full, and the next day planned for, we were off to bed.

Race day 4:30a.m.

The weather is perfect, everyone is energetic and ready to get rolling. We arrive about 40 minutes early and get to say our hello’s to the few people that we know from home. Brian William’s and Keith Ingram are geared up to do their thing, and its nice for me to know that I will have hands to slap later during the race as we pass each other during the out and back’s of the course (it’s the little things that keep me going). As always at the start of a race, it is so awesome to see all the different types of people. There is such a variety of colors, ages, sizes, and shapes, and the only things that you know for sure is that each one of them has a story, and there ain’t NO TELLING how fast a person is just by looking at them, I mean there are some real animals hiding in meek clothing, I just love it.

8a.m. Official Start Time

National Anthem. BOOM. We are off and running. What a day, and what a life. I have my beautiful wife beside me for what is potentially going to be the very best or absolute worst 50 mile date in history. As the first mile ticks off, I realize that gravel in my shoe is going to be an issue. I stop every mile, at least, to empty the two or three pebbles, which could potentially cause a problem. Amanda mentions at mile 3-4 that she has gravel in her shoe, but does not want to mess with it. I advise that she dump the blister hazards. When she takes her shoe off to dump it, DAAAAANNNGGGG!!! It looked like a scene from Shawshank Redemption, Amanda could have been selling $3 bags of gravel from the inside of her shoe. That’s the difference in her and me. I dump 2 pebbles every 1/2 mile, she dumps a quarter ton every 6. It’s a good thing to have a partner who is tougher than you are, this would be necessary in order to finish the day. We casually cruise to the 1st aid station. We are keeping about 12-13 minute mile pace, including some walking breaks. We are all a bit nervous, as this is going to be a long day, there is a great deal of pain and discomfort looming ahead, but we all hope it stays as far ahead as possible. Stay positive; just keep swimming.

Mile 7-ish

I have often said before that God and the universe are always available to provide that extra umphh when you most need it, and there was no denying that this situation was no different. We were far from defeated, but starting to feel the consequences of the decision that we had made to attempt this goal…..and that’s when it started. Amanda’s watch warned her of a text message. A friend of ours from the gym sent the most positive and uplifting message. We shared a goosebump moment and were grateful for the supportive crew that we have at Olive Branch Crossfit,, and then another message. This one was equally as heartfelt and encouraging. Blad-ding, another message, and another. When our watches were not warning us that we had ticked off another mile, it was a friend informing us that they believed in us, and that they loved us. Finally, Amanda said with her voice cracking with emotion, “I’m getting the sweetest messages, some of them from people’s numbers whom I don’t even recognize. I never imagined belonging to any place where people treat me like this.” I did not have my phone with me, but at the end of the day we had almost 100 text messages from friends and family between us! Where I come from, it’s awfully hard to fail, and damn near impossible to quit with support like that. I honestly cannot thank y’all enough for the encouragement along the way. We have unarguably the greatest group of friends in the world, and definitely the most unique:

This was sent to Amanda during the run.
If you don’t have completely psychotic, and mentally deranged friends like this in your life….I highly suggest finding some.

 

Mile 13-ish

We had reached the first turnaround of two different out and back’s. We felt really good, I think. The hips were letting me know that they were there, and Amanda’s feet were beginning to heat up, but we had no room for complaints, we were all positive. Lomax was all around, either a quarter mile ahead or behind, but in near proximity. Amanda and I discussed how crazy it was to be doing this event. We talked about how the reason we did it is because we have so many people tell us that we can. We watched a documentary called “Man on Wire” last night, about a guy who dreamed to walk across the Twin Towers on a tightrope. At one point, the main character was told by an accomplice that “THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE”, to which he responded, “of course it is, now lets get to work”. I love it. I was out here on a trail with my beautiful wife, and an extra 36-37 miles worth of work ahead of us, and the only thing that I know for absolute certain is this… she ain’t quitting. Assuming her legs don’t snap off of her hips and beat her unconscious over the head, I would have to be the one to throw in the towel. And I ain’t got no towel, and there is no one around to see me throw it. Just keep swimming.

Mile 23-ish

We were coming up on the halfway point, which I had set a time goal of 6 hours and 20 minutes. We finished 1minute and 20 seconds behind that, which was great. Time, at the end of the day, really meant nothing to us. One of the race co-ordinators had replied to one of my weak jokes about finishing first by saying, “out here, you compete it to complete it. Everybody has a different reason for doing it. There is first place, and those that finish behind that.” It is a totally different culture on the trail. It was interesting to see the different styles of the participants. There were absolute runners, interval runners, and all around speed walkers enjoying the trail, none of which seemed to have any problems leaving us in the dust, but did it with a great deal of humility and kindness. It was interesting to see how quickly we could go from feeling really great and perky, to having zero energy and everything hurt. Usually an aid station had a lot to do with reversing the spiral. We were coming up on the 26.6 mile mark, which meant we would begin an out and back in the opposite direction. Our next goal was to make it to our drop bags at 36.6 miles.

Mile 31-ish

Which one of yall kicked me? The wheels were starting to shred, and I could hear the bearings locking up. The attitude, while outwardly vocal, was noticeably much darker. There would be no bitching, and we avoided it like the plague. The bad news was here, or at least rapidly approaching. The tunnel of light was getting smaller and smaller, and beyond it, only pain. I was afraid that we were reaching the point that everyone said we would reach, but I had chosen not to listen. Actually, lemme tell you something, I did listen. I listened to every miserable fu*king word of every miserable fu*king person who ever did one of these God forsaken runs. This was not about whether or not I had seen the warning signs, and it wasn’t about ignoring them….it was about embracing them. This is precisely the pain, suffering, and darkness that we came to play with. I have a friend who once said that “half of my brain is selling bullsh*t, and the other half is buying it.” Well, there was no shortage of BS being produced, but the question was, how much did I want to invest? My feet felt like they were splintering into chards, except the flat pieces that were rubbing against glass filled sandpaper. My prostrate felt like it was about to fall out like a used transmission, and I was steady inventing different running forms to try and gain some kind of comfort. Run .20, walk.05, run.15, walk .05, run, walk, run, walk, runwalkrunrunwalkwalkrunwalk GOSH D*MMIT we will never reach our fu*cking drop bags. Then we saw Von, and he said “how do y’all feel?” naturally, we responded with, “aw fine, man. No problems. Feeling great. Killing it.” DA*MIT! This was it, Lucifer’s playpin, no doubt about it. Then I heard it, Amanda gave an uncomfortable grunt, and said “I love you, and I appreciate you being who you are.” That was all that this beefy dude needed to hear. It was time to work. Put the blinders on the mule, bow the head, and hunker down. This was the price of admission, the first 34miles were free, the next 16 were going to have to be earned. There was a price to pay, and it was not collected at registration. Someone had to hurt. You cannot synthesize this experience; this was an opportunity, not an issue. This is what we dreamed about, while laying comfortably in bed, perfectly healthy and full of energy, but there ain’t no bed, there ain’t no energy, and our overall health is questionable, especially our mental health. I told Amanda, “you know, we paid a lot of money to stick our finger in this socket. It’s time to feel the current. We knew it was gonna hurt, but we had to see for ourselves.” The story of my life. As we happened upon a bridge, I had to literally grab my thigh with both hands in order to swing my leg over the 4” transition from concrete to wood (if this would have been uneven terrain, I would not have had a prayer). That’s when we saw Brian Williams, and, as usual, he was ready to “make a deal”. Brian is notorious for offering the sh*ttiest deals in history, to date. I recall being on an endless, waterless, Godless trail with Brian when he said, “ I’ll make you a deal, and you can take your pick. We can go left and we will go to a dark and painful place, or we can go right, and go to a place that hurts like hell….and ain’t got no lights.” I told Brian that I was not doing worth a dern, and I was just gonna jump off the bridge we were crossing, to which he responded, “I’ll make you a deal. If you go 2 more miles in that direction, there is a taller bridge with less water beneath. You can jump there.” Perfect.

Mile 36.6

FINALLY! This is what we have been talking about for hours. This is where we had placed our drop bog with extra nutrition and a change of shoes and socks. We met Lomax on our way in, and he was on his way out…and by out I mean he was about to BALL OUT and gain a full hour on us in only 13 miles! We got some hot soup and sandwiches, and sat down a bit to change our shoes and socks. Sitting felt SO good, but we knew what was ahead. The drop station was anti-climatic to say the least. The shoes only highlighted different areas of my feet, which felt to be on fire, it alleviated nothing. We waddled 2 miles to the turnaround, and we were headed back home. Once we reached the drop station again, we had 9.7 miles to go. I was done, over it. We were powering through it any way we could. It was very dark, with no shred of moonlight, only the headlamps shown in front of us. If you shut off your headlamp, you could not see your hand in front of your face. All I had on was my sleeveless Full Motion singlet, and was freezing my ass off. Amanda was jogging to keep up with my fastest walk, and we had very little to say, other than the occasional “we got this”. At about mile 44, Amanda got sick and had to take a minute. She doubled over, and we discussed whether puking would be best. In an effort to continue with forward progress Amanda actually got on her knees and began crawling in the leaves. I was quick to point out that this would not work, but it is a testament to how messed up your brain can get on this type of adventure. It is also a testament to Amanda’s willpower in that, there was never a mention of quitting while transitioning to a crawl. We were both freezing, and it seemed our watches were stuck; we were not making headway AT ALL. If we could make the next aid station, we could warm up by the fire and be only 2.8 miles away. The only problem was, there was no fu*king fire, and I was dying of hypothermia (maybe not THAT bad….but I was cold). We continued on, waddled ahead, and finally popped out of the woods. We could hear the voices of Lomax and Von, and none too soon. We got our belt buckles, and the rest is history.

This was easily the most difficult and rewarding thing that I have ever done. It was the experience of a lifetime. It is something that tested my spirit as much, if not more, than I ever want tested. It is true what they say, you are capable of anything and everything that you put your mind to. It seems to be much easier when other people put their minds in it with you. I am eternally grateful for all of the love and support that was shown for both Amanda and myself. To the 100 mile runners, WOW, my hat is off to you, that is an entirely different animal. It is nice to be part of something as inclusive, non-intimidating, and rewarding as the trail community. Will I ever do a 50 miler again? ABSOLUTELY NOT. Never. I will be purchasing a first class, one-way ticket on the NOPE train to Fu*kthatsh*tsville, before I ever commit to something like this again. Lesson learned.

 

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,

Wilson Horrell

 

“Sometimes, all that anyone needs to know is that somebody gives a sh*t”

September 14, 2015

STANKY CREEK 25K/50K 2015

Here we go again...
Here we go again…

It’s 4am on Sunday morning September 13, 2015. The alarm goes off loudly. I fart louder. I open my eyes, and immediately blame it on the dog, my protest muffled by the sound of my still attached CPAP mask. After this, I perform the same ritual that I perform every morning that I get the chance. I slap Amanda on the ass and I say, “it’s gonna be a good day today, red!”. I played high school football for the Germantown Red Devils. Not a day went by (win, lose, or draw) that one of our coaches, Charlie White, would walk onto the practice field and loudly pronounce that statement: “It’s gonna be a good day today, red!”. I admire his positivity and enthusiasm. I try to make this part of my every morning. Do I always believe it? Absolutely not. Do I always do it? You bet your ass. I read a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that states, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm”, and I believe it to be true. I go to get dressed and begin mentally preparing for the day. Amanda has to be at work at 7am, but wakes up with me to support me and wish me good luck. She requested the day off, but had no such luck. I start to gather the things on my list that I need to make sure come with me to Stanky Creek. The things on my list include pre-mixed Tailwind along with 6 individually wrapped ziplock containers with 200 calories each, 10 gu’s, 2 extra pairs of shoes, 2 pairs of socks, 4 immodium, 2 extra shirts, 3 extra headbands, nipple covers, body glide, extra water, a towel, and salt stick pills. I will leave at 5am and arrive 1hour and 15 minutes early. My friend David Lomax? ….Arrives 10 minutes before the start and brings a water bottle. (I’m a worrier).

I arrive at Stanky Creek at about 5:45am for a 7am race. I want to have plenty of time to set up a tent and lawn chairs, and lay out my display of running “stuff”. The sun is not quite up when I see Von’s car pull in beside me with a girl I did not recognize. Upon nearing, I see IT’S AMANDA!!! It turns out that a co-worker had called the night before and volunteered to work for her. I was SO excited. My energy level was through the roof. It was most certainly going to be a good day, no question about it. Stanky consisted of 4 loops with each going through the parking lot, so I would be able to see her and the other supporters about every 7 miles, and this makes things MUCH easier. Last week Amanda, aka The Honeybadger, finished her first marathon. There was a cutoff time of 6hours and she reached the halfway point at 2:54,. The fact that she was able to maintain pace after 13.1 miles in temperatures that had become 20degrees hotter is a reminder that you can do anything if you are willing to push through the discomfort. On top of this, Amanda has done about zero conventional “marathon training”. She runs about 6 miles a week, and does CrossFit (where she suffers from Rhabdo, constant injury, and drinks the blood of all the new members) about 4 days a week. She has done some longer, slow runs with me of about 10-15 miles, but mostly just grinded this thing out on toughness and desire. With her there, the concern of not being able to finish was immediately removed from my mind. It is always fun to see the supporters and participants at these events. Everyone is so friendly and supportive that you cannot help but feel loved. We snap a few photos, and off we go.

The first loop was incredible. I am far from a fast runner, but my legs felt really good. I had taken 4 days off from running and CF, and it was the first time I had run without being sore from some form of training. I knew that I was going faster than Beefcake need to go, but what the hell. This was all about having fun, and that is what I was having. I was running with Cory Adams and Amber Huddleston, so the conversation was nice. They had both done the Tupelo Marathon the week before, so this was just “another day at the office” for those two animals. Cory said that if he finished the 1st loop in 1.5 hours, he could pretty much walk the last 3, so I felt like I would push it a little bit, and not worry about hitting a wall. Before I knew it, I had popped out of the woods and was in the parking lot. I got to slap high fives, kiss Amanda on the cheek, and Von on the mouth, mix up some Tailwind and get back on the trail.

The second loop was going surprisingly well. My pace was down a bit, but not seeing much reason to walk, and had little desire to. The race field had spread out enough to where it was just me and myself in the woods as far as I could see, which was just the way I wanted it. I was excited to get to the place where I could reflect and enjoy all of the great things that have happened in my life since doing the Stanky Creek 25K last year. I was brought to tears, and emotional at just how good everything is in my world. I began this running bullsh*t in an effort to achieve the goal of being made part of Von’s “LIFTHEAVYRUNLONG.com” group of athletes who achieve the goal of successfully completing a 50 mile race, and being able to deadlift 400lbs. I am signed up to run the Tunnell Hill 50miler in November, and hopefully achieve what I set out to do, but in so many ways my perspective on this has been laughable. When I started running, I was at a different place in my head, and I needed validation to prove to myself that I was a worthwhile person. I craved a strict training plan, and someone to tell me what to do. The only problem is that I don’t like being told what to do, I am too lazy to follow a plan. Somewhere along the way I found validation in myself, and at least a degree of satisfaction with who I am as an overall person. With this came the realization that my “plan” is to do what I enjoy the most, at that time. I run when I want, CF when I want, lay on the couch when I want, and eat sh*tty food when I want, and no one seems to love me any more or less. I started making a great deal of progress as soon as I stopped focusing so much on my progress and started focusing on my happiness. I was happy with myself and happy with my pace. I came to and aid station at about mile 11 and I asked if anyone had seen Brian Williams. One gentleman asked me why, and I told him that if he knew I was going this fast, he would expect me to keep it up. He responded with, “tell him to run it with you”, and I said, “that’s crazy, cause he will”, and he jokingly responded, “get his son Adam to run with you”, and I said, “that is beyond crazy, that is fu*king suicide” (Adam Williams is an 11 year old ANIMAL who has a huge future in running….I am a 38 year old pizza lover, who is doing just enough to avoid a heart attack). I fueled up on M&m’s, PB&J’s and some Gatorade, and I continued at a pretty fair waddle.

I was out in the parking lot for another round of high fives and kisses. At the last aid station before entering the woods, there he was (dammit), Brian! He said, “you are doing great you sandbagging son of a bi*ch. I expect you to average 14minute miles from here” (24 hours ago, he expected 16:40). I laughed and knew that this wasn’t gonna happen, but was glad to see him. The third lap was relatively uneventful, but it was still primarily at a run. I started doing intervals based on the amount of roots in my path. The problem was that the roots were swelling with each passing moment. The same root, which I was using as a spring board to the next root 7 miles earlier, had somehow grown into a fallen tree, that required all fours and a curse word to get over. My caveman grunts and words under my breath were coming to life. I was starting to die off, but mentally felt great. Last year, I did the 25K in 4:10 and was dead, and this year I had rounded the halfway point at 3:31 and still felt RELATIVELY alright. I kept smiling and thought of Amanda, the kids and I watching Finding Nemo the week before, “just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.” I laughed out loud to the thought of Amanda telling me that I was exactly like Dory, “ always happy, always positive, and can’t remember sh*t”. I was laughing at my brain’s ability to convince my body that I was really in pain. I remember Brian telling me that there is a big difference between “bad” and “horrible”. I was feeling bad, but far from horrible. I remembering telling a friend during a hard workout that he had made decisions in his life more painful than this, and that was exactly the way I felt right now….this freaking sucked, but it was far from the worst I have ever hurt, besides, I got Amanda about 3 miles awa…, just keep swimming.

Round 4 Ding-ding-ding. I was told that my time was great, and the goal was to keep forward motion, that’s it, fall forward. I felt as if every nook and cranny of my feet were being injected with molten lava. I had told Amanda that my Mad-Eye Moody hips had kicked in. I was literally laughing at my legs unwillingness to listen to my arm’s desires. Just keep swimming. Run gosh dam*it, run! I would get a few gallops in, and before I knew it, I looked like my lower body was doing a C-3PO impersonation, while my upper body looked like Brobee from Yo Gabba Gabba all hyped up on Mountain Dew (Drew Womack is dying laughing right now). I looked like a mall walker with a lot of crack and little co-ordination, but through all this my spirits were great. These damn roots though! All I could think about was making it back to my friends in the parking lot. I have a friend of mine who does a good job of checking in with people on a regular basis. I have heard him make numerous phone calls to people and leave this exact message, “hey muther fu*ker, just checking on you. I love you and am thinking about you.” That’s it. Just that simple. He told me this, and I believe it to be true, “sometimes, all that anybody needs to know, is that somebody gives sh*t”. Personally, it has been one of the most powerful things that I have ever heard. “Sometimes, all that anybody needs to know, is that somebody gives a sh*t”. I like that, and at this point in the race, I was surviving by only this. The one and only thing that kept me going was the thought that there was a group of supporters on the other end of the woods who were out there “giving a sh*t” about me. I kept waddling and somehow made it to the finish line, where I was greeted with all love and excitement. 7hours 30minutes 17seconds. I will take it!

Letting loose my most "Sloth-like" victory cry
Letting loose my most “Sloth-like” victory cry

It was amazing to see the friends who came and spent the entire day, just to cheer, as well as the folks who finished the 25K and waited around an additional 4-5 hours to socialize and encourage. A friend of mine’s wife and kids came to surprise him at the finish. Amanda and I both agreed that the smile coming from his face, fresh off 30 miles, to see his wife and two children waiting on him, was one of the most beautiful sites of the day. It was extremely moving. Being active is really a fun “sport” (or whatever) that has enhanced my life greatly. One thing that I have to remember is that people are extremely opinionated, and all belief themselves to be right. CrossFitters, runners, and the adversaries are certainly no exception, as we are all humans. I have found that the only way for me to train is the way that makes me happy. If it doesn’t make me happy, then I don’t want to train for it. Runners believe in running, CrossFitters believe in CrossFitting, Zumba-ers believe in Zumba-ing, Yoga-ers believe in Yoga-ing, and haters believe in hating, and they are all absolutely correct, but don’t let anyone have you believe that the way for them is the only way for you. The way that I enjoy is the way that involves other people, people who are passionate and enjoy whatever they are doing at the time. My training log from April-August, I have averaged 11 running miles a week and about 3 hours of CF (I am in NO WAY saying that this is good or bad, right or wrong). I have had people tell me that I am doing too much CF and not enough running, and visa versa. I have been given advice on everything from religion to cholesterol. I believe that there is truth to all theories, even the ones that we tell other people because we too want to believe them. My free advice is, do what you enjoy doing and believe to make you happy, and do it often. My enjoyment of what I do has been largely due to my decision to enjoy them. My happiness is a choice, and I can choose to be as happy or miserable, as I would like. I enjoy watching people make decisions that will increase their happiness.

My dad recently made the decision to get off his ass and set a goal of running a 5k. True to form, he started chipping away at it, walking….walking….little waddle…walking….little run…mailbox to mailbox…walk…walk…light post to light post…walk…run…run…walk. He called me last Saturday to let me know that he had left the house without telling anyone, went to Overton Park, registered for a 5k he found online, and completed a 5k! He was quick to point out what he perceived to be a slow time, and I was quick to point out that I don’t give a fu*k. It is so inspirational to see someone make a decision to make a change and follow through with it. I am not proud because I want to see a 5k increase to a 10k, into a half, and into a marathon. I am proud because I get to see a walk around the block turn into an increase in happiness. The hardest part for me is not the exercise, but the ass kicking that I give myself during the exercise. Now that I have made it over that hurdle, the rest is just socializing in motion, good days, and better days. And remember……

“IT’S GONNA BE A GOOD DAY TODAY, RED”

This makes me happy!
This makes me happy!
My peeps
My peeps

 

My buddy David Lomax (Mr. Preparation)
My buddy David Lomax (Mr. Preparation)

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,

 

Wilson Horrell

Lessons Learned in a Year

May 15, 2015

I had what I would consider a most humbling experience earlier this week.  Amanda and I were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to do some volunteer work for a good cause on a beautiful day, for some wonderful people. I received a text from my friend Brandon Reilly, who shared with me that he was beginning to get a little nervous about the Memphis in May Triathlon coming up this weekend. He informed me that he was in need of some inspiration, as well as a little humor, so he was going to spend some time reading about my last two triathlons, among other things on my blog. The reason that this was so impactful, is the fact that Brandon is half my size, lifts twice my weight, and can run bike and swim circles around me. This moved me on a number of levels, but primarily the fact that I could be anyone’s source of inspiration for anything was quite humbling, let alone in an area where I am not even remotely competitive. This meant a lot, and was a good reminder that people are watching and listening, regardless of how ignorant or brilliant we act, people are watching. Brandon reminded me that I was coming up on the one year anniversary of my blog, and recommended a post reflecting on the lessons learned, where I had won, and where I had failed.

I started this blog upon the suggestion of Von Ralls through his “Lift Heavy Run Long” running and lifting program as a way to journal my progress. It has morphed into more like a confessional/therapy session, where i can just kick around ideas and speak of events the way that I see them. I have received a great deal of positive feedback, rivaled only by strange looks and pats on the back as if to say “bless your heart”, both of which I am more than willing to accept. Having lived life life on a steady diet of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and gas station food for about a decade prior to attempting to “gather the proverbial sh*t”, it is hard to believe that three years ago my best effort towards fitness was a 20minute walk with my dad, while ripping cigarettes and wearing blue jeans in 90 degree temperatures. I remember trying to jog from light post to light post…and I remember crying because I failed, because I was fat, and because i was embarrassed; I was also very goddam*ed tired. However, I also remember how many friends and family members assured me that things would change, if I continued to do things different. So, in honor of my “close to one year blog-er-ing”, I want to share with you what I have learned. Shall we?

I have learned that I really don’t know sh*t, but have lots of beliefs. I have learned that what I believe I can do is a small fraction of my potential. I have learned that there is a tremendous amount of power in positivity; optimism might make you wrong, but never miserable, assuming you remain optimistic. I learned that I like cat posters, and accept the motivation they offer. I found that CrossFit won’t kill me, but I often wished it would. I learned that I consider walking to be running, so long as its in between runs. I learned that no one cares about your race time, and everyone cares about your desire to get better. Ive learned that the really fast triathletes have lungs made of balloons, asses made of lead, and balls made of steel, because its just not human to do all that mess. I have learned that no one looks cool in a tri-suit, goggles, and swim cap…and I mean no one. I have learned that self doubt, insecurity, and fear of failure can suck away every bit of my happiness at any given moment. I have also learned that the best response to those things which make me feel doubtful, insecure, and fearful generally require a “hell yes” and a head butt. I have learned that the only thing harder than doing it the first day, is doing it again the second, but there is also nothing more rewarding. I’ve learned that it takes a f*cking village…and I have a great village. I’ve learned that my language is awful and offensive, but have little desire to change it. I have learned that I will continue my streak of saying “thank you” to every volunteer possible during the course of a race. I will never be the fastest, but I can be the most courteous. I’ve learned that if you don’t accept the high five from the child spectators on the race course, an a*s whoopin is easily justified. I have learned that if given an unlimited budget in which to construct a panic room to prepare for the apocalypse, I would get the blueprint for Dodge’s Chicken and Pizza. I have also learned that there is no diet that I cannot out eat, as I am perpetually hungry. I have learned that the cure for aching muscles usually involves more exercise. I have learned that lifestyle changes will change your life. I learned that diet and exercise have more of an effect than any pill…but I still eat like sh*t. I have learned that people who do not exercise hate the people who do, which I totally understand. I have learned that there is nothing sexier than a woman lifting weights. I have learned that the goal in life is not to be the best, but to be awesome; awesomeness cannot be measured in weight or speed, but how you approach life (Paul Pinckley taught me that). Ive learned that people gravitate more to my insecurities, more than they admire me for any accomplishment. Ill take the humbler over the better in most instances (I have NOT learned if “humbler” is a real word). I learned that I ask for a lot of advice, and listen to almost none of it. I’ve learned that I make a screeching, girly sound before posting every blog for fear of humiliation and rejection. I learned to do it anyway. Ive learned to keep trying. I have learned that there is no ache that I don’t turn into an injury. I have discovered that I can turn a canker into cancer, an ingrown hair into a wheelchair, and a strained ligament into a lost limb if I google my ailments. I have learned that if I voice my concerns, I seldom stay concerned for long. I have learned that Brian Williams will accept all excuses…provided you give them while moving forward. Ive learned that everyone needs a friend named Too Tall. Ive learned that a funny story while waddling on a trail can get you far more winded than any sprint ever could. Ive learned that a desire to laugh and bullsh*t can get you through a lot of running and lifting. I’ve learned that I would rather risk injury doing something I enjoy, than relish its absence while doing nothing. Ive learned that I give the best advice on diet and exercise while I am laying down and eating, and for some reason, no one seems to listen. I have learned that a big steak and a beautiful woman can satisfy whatever is bothering me. I’ve learned that a full court and a basketball can make a bunch of “athletes” look like dipsh*ts. I’ve learned that good friends don’t easily give out pity, and no one wants to hear what you “can’t” do. Ive learned that practicing an endurance sport helps you endure much more than just sports. Ive learned that for me the term “I will never” is valid until the end of the day…tops. I’ve learned that people appreciate an honest failed attempt as much as a successful one, they seem to embrace and understand it. I’ve learned that my best, and most consistent advice is usually “go for it”, and “f*ck em”, so it’s probably best that few people listen. Ive learned that my always being hurt while never being injured is also referred to as being a titty baby.

Most importantly, Ive learned that it feels good to just keep inching forward, one foot in front of the other. As I place fewer and fewer expectations on myself, I find myself accomplishing much more, while expending much less energy. The truth of it all is that my life is significantly easier because I don’t try nearly as hard. I discussed with a friend of mine that my general happiness has a lot to do with my overall laziness. He suggested I substitute the term “enlightened” for “lazy”, and that might work. However, I have found that in the past year, that the less importance I place on the results, and the more I focus on the enjoyment, the happier I am with just about everything. Life is only as hard as I choose to make it, and that’s the both the good news and the bad. It has been a great year, and I have no reason to believe that it will not continue to get better. Good luck to all of my peeps doing the Memphis in May Triathlon, BBQ fest, or whatever you are doing this weekend; I hope you do it loudly. Thanks Brandon for nudging me into this rabbit hole of reflection, as it is one of my most enjoyable places.

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related.

Wilson Horrell

CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO ST. JUDE

It’s Just How My “Peeps” Do Things

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAUSE

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Welcome to my page! My name is Wilson Horrell (aka Beefcake) and this year I am going to tackle the St. Jude Marathon. At 6′ tall and 250lbs, I am far from a competitive runner, but I do enjoy the exercise and very much like the social and support aspect. I enjoy meeting with a group of friends and stepping a little bit outside of my comfort zone with each run. I do this voluntarily and can stop the discomfort at ANY TIME I CHOOSE. I can run, walk, or simply quit. I am perfectly healthy, and there is nothing stopping me from doing the things I enjoy. When something hurts, I can generally identify the problem, and it will be fixed with either some rest, ice, or ibuprofen. Even being healthy, I always find something to complain about. I whine about a blister, or a sore knee. I complain that I am too slow, or too fat. I gripe that my shirt or my shorts are rubbing me the wrong way. I am a person of vanity, who gels my hair and is in constant watch of my  ever receding hairline. Each morning I wake up in my comfortable bed at my nice home, and I have the option as to whether or not I want to run or relax. My days are pretty consistent, and overall relatively smooth. I am familiar with my surroundings and the people who occupy my space. I am in complete control of the personal boundaries I set in my world. To some degree, I have an understanding of the things taking place around me, and I have a pretty good idea of how the world works. Having had a privileged childhood, I know very little of what it is like for life to treat me unfairly, though I have OFTEN complained that it did. Most of the pain and discomfort in my life has been brought on by myself, and can be easily remedied if I make a few changes….

This is not the case for the children at St. Jude. These innocent kids have not done anything in this life to deserve the problems that they must battle every single day. They wake up and go to bed outside of their comfort zone, as it is where they live. They must fight, constantly. They do not have rest days, or the luxury of deciding if they will work hard, or just go through the motions. Most of these kids would do just about anything to have the opportunity to spend an afternoon blistering their ankles, in whatever kind of clothes, vanity be damned. The kids wake up in a bed which does not belong to them, in a room that is not in their home. They have not even had the time on earth to make sense of the craziness that is a normal, healthy life, let alone one which contains ever breaking curve-balls, and beam balls. Each visit from the doctor provides more potentially bad news, and only adds to the already chaotic world in which they are living. The things that these children experience are not consequences of bad decisions, but more an inexplicable misfortune. From what I have seen, most of these kids handle the discomfort and pain that comes with their disease with more grace than I handle a hangnail.

In my life I have been bountifully blessed with people that are full of positivity and encouragement. My “people” are not afraid to enjoy life, and have taught me to keep things in perspective. I have learned to spend more time on what’s important, and to not focus so much on the material things. I have heard so many moving stories regarding the fulfillment that comes with fundraising for the St. Jude Marathon that selfishly I just had to be a part of this feeling. When I saw the fundraising goals to choose from, it was a no-brainer. The highest fundraising goal was the only option, because me and my “people” do things BIG…always. One of the benefits of having “people” is that I never have to do anything alone, and there is always someone in my corner. This is by no means meant to guilt anyone into doing anything that they are not comfortable, but it is an opportunity to put my “peeps” on a pedestal. I want to thank you for walking with me through this life, and helping make me a better person. There is no one more fortunate than me, and this is because of people like you. I encourage you to give what you can. Even if all you have to give is a word of encouragement, then I welcome this graciously. My hat is off to you for participating in a positive and compassionate life. I hope that you continue to be you as loudly and unapologetically as possible, and I thank you for allowing me to do the same. Lets come together and kick a little cancer ass, cause kicking ass is what we do.

***Prediction- Beefcake wins out/reigns supreme at St. Jude Aid Stations… 1st Place Overall, Age Group, and Best In Show. “You better pack a lunch.” I take this quite literally.***

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related.

Wilson Horrell

CLICK HERE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE CAUSE

Rebel Man Triathlon

April 13, 2015

Sunday, April 12th was the Rebel Man Sprint Triathlon in Oxford, MS. I kinda signed up for this thing on a whim, and was not real sure how to feel about it. I signed up while lying in bed surveying facebook. I saw a few people that I know, and thought, “that sounds like fun”. I learned the hard lesson that there are lots of things that “sound like fun” when your fata*s is snuggled in bed reading facebook at about 8pm, but that’s the breaks. The day after signing up I began to put the hard sell on a couple of friends of mine in hopes of catching them at a weak moment and getting them to verbally commit to the tri. Brian Williams decided to “think” about it, so I knew he was a bust, but Michael Shelton nibbled on the line. I couldn’t believe it! Ole Bubs Shelton was actually sounding like he was going to make the event with me. Shelton has been my best friend for almost 25 years. He has been through the wringer with me. Everything that defines a friendship, he embodies. We have been through laughs, tears, fights, fears, hardships and loss together. His family is my family, and they have always treated me as such. His dad taught me most everything I know about tools, and a helluva lot about honesty, decency, and and hard work. His mom was my very best friend, who would do, and did just about everything for me up until the day she died. To get the opportunity to spend the day with Michael made this event really special. It also made the event much more than just a triathlon, but a reason to come together and spend some quality time. Just like probably whoever is reading this has experienced, life gets in the way of relationships, and it gets easier and easier to let the bullsh*t get in the way of what is important. That would not be the case this day! I had Amanda and the kids, Michael, Hope, and the Tennessee Jackhammer (you oughta see the Jackhammer. He’s a good looking little joker) heading to Oxford to compete (term used loosely) in a triathlon! I absolutely could not ask for anything more.

Race Day 4:30am- I role over only to find that Amanda is already up and kicking a*s in the kitchen. I have never met anyone so dutiful in my life. She has snacks packed, outfits organized, and breakfast in the oven. Michael is due to be at the house at 5:30am, and I had no worries about his punctuality. I could already hear him loading his bike on my bike rack (which neither of us had ever used). Being that rule #1 of any sporting competition is to not eat or drink anything that you don’t normally eat or drink, I had Michael bring me a V8 (which I had not had in 4 years….and I have NEVER had without Vodka); Amanda also cooked a spicy sausage and cream cheese in croissant recipe, which was INCREDIBLE. This was absolutely the antithesis of a pre-race meal, which seemed perfect for me. The individually wrapped croissants were of good portion, so one was plenty…which is why I ate four. With Michael riding shotgun, and Amanda in the back with the kids, we departed for Oxford. Hope and the Jackhammer were going to meet us at the event, so they could get a couple of hours more sleep.

Upon arriving at the event, we checked in and everything went smoothly. I ran into Shawn McKinney, Cindy Clark, and Stephen Waldrip, all of which are legit competitors. They have each been very supportive and helpful of Beefcake and my overall lack of attention to detail, and propensity to just start signing up for sh*t without knowing what I am doing. I also saw Samantha Elliot, who is a fellow teammate of mine on the Full Motion Race Team. It is calming to see friendly and familiar faces before a race. I need all the calm I can get, because I have “issues”. These “issues” have never been accurately diagnosed, but lets just say I am a weird muther fu*ker. First, I have this strange anxie-hack/gag/sneeze that sounds like a mix between hurling from appendicitis, coughing on a pine cone, and sneezing from pollen. People usually “bless me” and I graciously say thank you., but the people close to me know and understand that it is a weird tic of mine. I am also VERY particular about the clothes I wear and how they “feel”. A shirt that is too loose, and I feel like I am running in a bed sheet, fearing I will somehow get caught up in it and die of strangulation. If the shirt is too tight, then I feel that I will become stuck in it if it decides to contract like a boa constrictor. The amount of room in between my socks and shoes must be perfect or I will layer socks, which is why I wear these goofy a*s red socks with my Hokas, and I totally look like a stooge, but I feel like a champ. My shorts did not have pockets, which is something that I think should be outlawed based on the amount of mental anguish that this gives me. I don’t know exactly what my problem is, but it seems as if the people around me are pretty good at accepting it and helping to coach me through it. Truthfully, they just roll their eyes and laugh at me. If I was trying to tell a psychiatrist what is wrong with me, which I have and also told them what was wrong with them, I would describe it as taking Rain Man, Karl from Slingblade, Forrest Gump, a touch of Autism, and a lot of Chris Farley, blend them together and pour. Out comes me. On top of all of the drama regarding feel, it is also paramount that I use the restroom two times before any event or activity. Today was no different, and we were running out of time. I had about a dozen miniature, short-lived panic attacks silently in my head before finding the locker room in the pool area. Everything was good, except for my shirt. OH GOD! I had worn my shirt over my tri-suit into the swimming area and I did not know what to do. The logical person would just set it down and remember to pick it up, but I have ZERO short-term memory and a hellacious case of ADD, so this was a friggin deal that had to be resolved. I took the tee shirt to my friend Kathy Kramer who was willing to keep an eye on it, even though it was just a tee shirt. Finally the race got underway and the first few people were in the water, with a new entry every 5 seconds. That’s when we saw all the family above us in the risers. When I saw Amanda, I saw opportunity, so off I went. I proceeded to waddle my fata*s all the way around the pool to retrieve my shirt, so to give it to Amanda. Amanda would later tell me she thought I was warming up or something. I looked like a cross between Jack Nicklaus if he would have taken a victory lap around the green after hitting his hole in one at The Master’s last week, and Super Mario. I was barefooted, in a tri suit, and just a waddling.

By the time Michael and I were to get in the water, we were pretty close to the back. I was starting 5 seconds behind him. We were not doing this to be competitive in any way, but something came over me. I think it was the swim team that I was on THIRTY YEARS AGO. Something told me to blow right past him. I had the adrenaline of the race, the participants, and my family up there pulling me on. I had that feeling that I could swim forever. I was gaining ground with each stroke, each one more powerful than the last. My lungs felt like they were the size of watermelons, and my feet were pistons displacing water like an engine does air. This was one of those times were superhuman characteristics come over the average human. It was possible I would finish in the top 4-5 of the group when it came to the swim. I felt that it would be beneficial to call the press so they could begin writing about Beefcake’s magical 400 Meter run on the campus of Ole Miss. I began to wonder how long this feeling of euphoria could last, until I got my answer…..about 30 fu*king meters. That’s how long, 30 meters, and I was ROCKED. I felt like one of those college guys on youtube who accidentally inhales the alcohol while it’s still on fire. The burning sensation in my lungs felt like I was on a 2 foot ladder hitting a 6 foot bong, There was a side of me that felt like I should suck in a bunch of liquid just to cool my lungs down. At the wall, Michael said, “go ahead”, and I replied, “holy sh*t, no” (it was the best I could do). Needless to say, I slowed it down and was able to tadpole my way to the finish. Getting out of the pool was going to be potentially tricky, seeing as what I had already been through. There was a ladder about a quarter of the way down the pool, which would have been SO handy, but also very unsexy for someone who is attempting to appear to have SOME athletic ability, or shred of dignity. I beached myself on the side, kicked my big ole hamhock over, dropped a couple of F-bombs and was bumbling to the bicycles.

Getting to the bike transition was fun, because I got to see everyone , and they all genuinely looked happy. My kids were having fun with Jack and they absolutely adore any time that they can spend with Amanda. She provides a calmness to all of us that is very reassuring. As I was getting on my shoes and getting ready to pull off on my bike, I explained to Hope that whomever coined the phrase, “like riding a bike”, had not spent the very vast majority of his last 20 years not riding one….because you DO forget. I decided to eat a Honey Stinger for nutrition. I feel Iam extremely fortunate in the fact that I feel I can continue moving forward, albeit at a VERY slow pace, for long periods of time, assuming I don’t get hungry. I also have zero problem eating solid food while exercising. I have often been teased about the plethora of PB&J sandwiches that I bring on longer trail runs. I could eat Shoney’s breakfast buffet at about 12 miles into a trail and feel perfectly refreshed. When I get hungry and bottom out, I AM DONE. I thought the Honey Stinger would be a good idea, even though I had Tailwind mixed in my water bottle. Turns out I was wrong. I would have been better off grabbing a teaspoon of sugar, mixed with a wheelbarrow of dry mortar, and dumping it all in my pie hole. I spent about the next 6 miles trying to decide whether to swallow the last bite, or throw up the whole thing. Overall the ride went well though. The volunteers were very supportive, and I tried to express my gratitude right back. There were a couple of really nasty hills, one in particular. At one point I honestly could not tell if I was moving forward, or just pedaling really fast to avoid going backwards. It looked like a scene from Tommy Boy. My Wal-Mart helmet had cocked over to the side of my head covering my left eye. I was hunkered down too much in the struggle to fix it. My gear was so high that my feet were doing about 100 revolutions per second, but my tires were doing one a minute. There was a nice volunteer with a heavy country accent who said, “I know you can. I KNOW you can, big man, my money is on you!” and it just sounded so good. I think southern women encourage greater than anybody in the world. I’m partial, of course, but my mom has an accent and a way of encouraging, that when she would holler, I would just know I was about to get it done. That single lady probably yelled for 200 people that day. If she only knew how much difference she made just for me, she would sleep well tonight. I hope I can be that kind of positive in someone’s life. I hope that given the opportunity, I can get past my bullsh*t vanity and discomfort, and not be afraid to hoot and holler WHENEVER someone needs any kind of encouragement. I made it over the hill and was on the home stretch. I felt like I biked really hard, and was pleased with the way that I felt. I was not in comparison with any athletes, but basing my feelings on how I felt at the Mity Mite Triathlon last year. I was excited about getting off the bike and seeing how my running legs felt.

I exited the bike and began changing into my running shoes. I made Grayson stand beside me and I used his head as a balancing beam, like an elderly lady uses a young man’s arm. I had seen Samantha’s Full Motion yellow shirt during the bike, and was sure I would get to say hello, or blurt out some curse word. I would be WRONG. She took off like a shot from a gun. The next time I would see her would be the finish line. I was amazed at the engine she had burning. This made me happy, and so did just about everything else. I was content with my legs, my pace, and certainly my life. I was putting out about all I had, or cared to give, and just kind of reflecting on all the ways that my life is so drastically different today than in the past. I saw a gentleman who had been just in front of me throughout the bike, and he was really cramping. We had played leapfrog a couple of times and he was on a mountain bike! He was obviously more physically fit than I was, which most people are, but the bike and the heat just ate him up. I told him that he owed it to himself to finish strong and that he had to keep going. As soon as I said that, I felt a cramp pop in both of my calves, and I thought, “great, I just told this guy to muscle through it, now I’m gonna peter out”, but I was fortunate it went away. I strolled along at a nice pace and was at the 2 mile point before I knew it. By this time my feet and legs had adjusted to getting off of the bike and I was pretty settled in. My legs were most certainly beat up, and I was very tired, but I felt pretty stable in my gait that I could make it whatever distance I needed to make. I got to the finish line and there they all were, the prettiest looking bunch of people that you can imagine, and life was good.

At the finish line, it was nice to get some water and a banana, but it was really nice to see Amanda, the kids, and the Shelton bunch. Amanda asked me how I felt, and I told her I thought I did really well. She interrupted and said she meant from a health or injury standpoint, and that is when I felt the best I had felt all day. The realization of how lucky I am to have my health, and no major injuries is really a gift. She did not care how I performed, but how I was. I tend to miss the big picture because I get lost in the details. I can miss the whole race, because I am trying to keep up with a stupid tee shirt. I took a moment to think of all the good things, not in my life overall, but just at this one spot! I have a raging hot girlfriend, who happens to be one of the smartest and nicest people I know, along with my very best friend (who happens to have an extremely attractive and extremely sharp wife), and healthy beautiful children. Part of what makes all of this so fun is my ongoing support from my friends at Olive Branch CrossFit, and my new family of friends from Full Motion Running and Cycling. To be asked by Matt Hall to be part of the Full Motion Team has been one of the greatest honors I have received, specifically because of the mission behind it. The people on this team are some of the greatest athletes in the area, but this is far from the sole purpose of the team (you generally don’t load up two or three 250lb dudes if your strictly looking strictly to dominate speed races). It is an honor to be part of a real life movement. The movement is centered on creating an environment where people are healthy, happy, and safe. From what I have seen, there has been more attention to making sure that my children feel included and a part of the group than my ability to run a fast 5k. The mission seems to be less about getting members to win races and events, and more about the residents of North MS participating in them. I feel that I owe a great deal of gratitude to the management and members of the Full Motion team for accepting me for who I am, and helping me to lead a healthier life and teaching me how to involve my children in a life that they might not otherwise be exposed. It is nice to know that I am on a team with a group of people who are FAR more interested in hearing about your walking your first 5K, than winning your last dozen. Thanks Full Motion, family and friends. I am a blessed, blessed man.

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related.

Wilson Horrell

“My Mother Would Not Approve of This…Not One Bit”

Sylamore 50K

February 21, 2015

***Before I begin my race report, I would like to give my sincerest thanks to Brian Williams, who took time from his own training, family, and life to guide me along this path. He actually ran with me, at my pace, while educating me on nutrition, strategy, and the physiology of ultra marathon running. The encouragement and positivity was overwhelming, while the miles, stairs, short runs, and long runs were nauseating. There were so many days that I prayed that you would become wrapped up in your everyday life, and forget about me, but every morning, without failure, you were there to provide guidance, hope, and a big pain in my ass. I love you, my friend, and will never forget what you did for me, while asking nothing in return. When I told you during a poor performance that, “today, is just not my day”, you responded with “everyday you show up is your day….if you show up, you win. It’s your day.” This, and the F-word, has echoed in my head throughout this journey.

Tim Wilkinson, this would have been a pipe dream had you not had the patience to act as my tour guide through the trails at Sylamore. Your experience, positivity, and overall calmness proved invaluable. You had no reason to do what you did, as I was a complete stranger to you just 2 weeks ago, but you did it anyway, and I am forever thankful.

Von Ralls, your “Lift Heavy Run Long” program gave me the legs to continue churning up and down a thousand hills, but your attitude gave me the spirit. It was not only the things you said to me, but the things that you shared with others, that gave me confidence. You, at no time, expressed other than 100% confidence in the fact that I would finish, scoffers be damned.

David Lomax, your laid back style of running has made running, at times, seem easy and enjoyable. Your ability to keep it simple has been inspirational. Anyone who can casually stroke out 10 miles, pop his trunk and knock back a sandwich with a couple Marlboro’s, then kick out 10 more miles is a hero in my book. If the trail trees could talk, we would not be free men.

Amanda, you have been rock solid throughout, and never believed that anything but a finish was even an option. Your mental fortitude and natural athletic ability is inspiring. Your hard headed, tough nosed approach to whatever is placed in front of you, has been a great example of how to go about things like this. You have listened to my negativity, fears, and doubts, and discarded them all as bullsh*t that will be proven with time. I thank you for being my biggest fan, and my best friend.

To my friends, family, and members of Olive Branch CrossFit, I so much appreciate the texts, phone calls, and FB messages. I don’t know how I could feel anymore loved and supported. My life has been enhanced tremendously, just on the kind sentiments shared, and the encouragement given.***

 

If I am going to paint an accurate picture of what the Sylamore 25K/50K was really like, then I feel compelled to start from the beginning. Our crew had every intention of leaving on Friday to get rested up before the race on Saturday morning. However, there was some pretty bad weather, both in Olive Branch and our destination of Mountain View, AR. Myself, Amanda Kimsey, Brandon Reilly, and David Lomax were going to be Presidentially escorted in the lap of luxury, by way of my 1998 Chevy Suburban, affectionately known as The Love Boat. We were planning to caravan with Von Ralls and Greg Perry. Admittedly, the weather was far from ideal, but this race HAD TO HAPPEN! I have simply worked too hard, and could not imagine another week of Brian’s masochistic style of training. The only thing that was going to provide me with any relief was going to be to finish this God forsaken 50K, or to die trying. Greg had found a window of opportunity by which to jump out of the race, but I would be none too forgiving. Below is Greg’s weak ass attempt to jump ship:

 

 

Greg’s message:FullSizeRender

My response:  FullSizeRender

 

Von later shared with me that he fully expected me to be knocking on his front door within the hour, and knew there was no getting out of this one. My desire to complete the Sylamore had little to do with excitement, and everything to do with fear and exhaustion. The training had been agonizing for the Beefcake. Death or diarrhea were the only things that would keep me off that mountain, and per Brian’s advice, I had loaded up on Immodium.

As I have stated before, there are two ever-present forces in my life, which are constantly at play. These are Murphy’s Law, and God’s Grace. Granted, my decision making probably does much to lube the wheels of Murphy’s Law, but there is no denying that God is one helluva reliable bail bondsman. Having Greg finally come to his senses, we were off and running, voluntarily heading westward, into the belly of the beast. Greg and Von were in Greg’s car, while the rest of us were styling in The Love Boat. Armed with three douchebags, one smoking hot girl packing heat, 3 days of luggage, a CPAP machine, one hemorroid, one ulcer, 2 packages of nip strips, 8ounces of body glide, 4 smartass tongues, and a wealth of knowledge regarding life’s mysteries, such as the construction of duck calls, and how to successfully hold the title belt after winning at Wrestlemania, we could not lose. Assuming Amanda did not spill the extra quart of oil or the extra gallon of antifreeze which conveniently ride shotgun in The Love Boat at all times, and providing the rear passenger tire continued at the ALMOST unnoticeable slow leak pace, what could possibly go wrong? The knowledge bombs dropped over the next four hours proved invaluable, and the laughs were plentiful. I assured everyone that if they did not have a faith in some kind of God or force at this point, then they most certainly would after a weekend with me…. I would be proved prophetic.

Greg and Von arrived early enough to go to the grocery store and pick up everyone’s race packet before we got into town. That is when we got the call. Greg and Von had seemingly run into a bit of trouble while trying to make it up to our cabin. It seemed that the house sat atop a very steep hill, and said hill was a sheet of ice. They had tried to park the vehicle and make it on foot, but even that proved both difficult and dangerous. The arrival of nightfall was not going to make this any easier. Upon receiving Greg’s phone call, I was instantly offended at the harshness of his words, and the way he disrespected, not only myself and the other passengers, but also his lack of respect for The Love Boat. Now, what Greg and Von will testify as to what was said, went something like this:

“the driveway is simply too steep and icy to travel by vehicle, or even foot. We need to look for other accommodations.”

But, what we heard was:

“You buncha pussies don’t have what it takes to make it to the top of the hill, and there is not a set of balls between you, if you don’t at least throw that piece of sh*t into 4-wheel drive and give it all you have.”

So, at the bottom of the hill with the Boat in 4-wheel drive, I surveyed the passengers. As if the three of them had been rehearsing this moment their entire lives, when I asked what they thought, all at once, in perfect harmony, my crew melodically bellowed, “FU*K IT”, and up the hill we went. We had traction and momentum, and the quickest way back down the hill would have been to let off the throttle. We were at such an incline, that we could barely see over the hood. It was like we were in a rocket ship preparing to blast into orbit, which, truth be known, we were in a bucket about to roll off the side of a cliff. The road came to a Tee and I yelled, “LEFT OR RIGHT”, and I heard 2 lefts and 1 right, so I veered left. It proved to be correct and we had arrived at the top of the hill. Being that we never even said hello to Greg and Von, they were stuck at the bottom of the hill. All logic would tell me to unload all of our luggage before we went back down the hill, but no logic would be used this day. Brandon and I dropped off David and Amanda, as we began our descent down the mountain. After going about 3 feet, we began sliding down the hill, being controlled by nothing but God’s grace. We bounced off 2 small levees, slid about 60feet, and finally decided to park the Boat and approach the house on foot.

The video is hard to see, but you might be able to get an idea of not only the conditions, but also the kind of a*sholes that I have to deal with. You will have to go to my facebook page to view it. It is really pretty funny. Anyways, after gripping, clawing, sliding, and army crawling our way up the hill, we crammed down some pizzas and went on to sleep.

Race day, 5am, we were all up and preparing for the 8am 50K start, and the 9:30am 25K start. The race had been delayed one hour to hopefully allow for some better trail conditions. There would be no such luck. Our plan was to take two cars to the race. Greg and Von were in front and we were following behind. The gravel road was still very icy and we were sliding quite a bit. Finally, Greg hit a spot where he was steady spinning. We all got out and began to push. Being the thoughtful gentleman that I am, I allowed Amanda to stand in front of me, so that Greg could fling a load of mud and gravel from her waist down. At first we felt bad, but quickly remembered that we were in for an entire day of mud, gravel, and ice. Basically the 4 of us had managed to get Greg turned sideways, and our biggest concern was if we could get around his truck, which was clearly stuck. There was no way out for Mr. Perry. If he cut right, he was screwed, and if he cut left, he was f*cked, and we began to accept our predicament. But, true to from, when all the chips were down, Greg pulled the proverbial chain from his tights, and threw flour into the eyes of the formidable opponent and impressed us all with…The Power Perry. A risky maneuver that could have buried his vehicle in the bank for a prolonged period of time, turned out to be what freed him. We decided to park Greg’s vehicle in a safe spot and ride together in one vehicle. Strong move Mr. Perry, strong move…STRONG.

We did not have much time to spare upon arrival at the race site. We all gave our high fives, knuckles, kisses, and hugs. Then off we went, into the great unknown. Everything felt good, and seemed to be working properly. The road was relatively clear, and I could not see any real problems, until, of course about .25 miles into a 31 mile race, I saw what would be the next 10hours and 22minutes of my life. Holy Mother of God! It was ice, all ice. Some snow, but mostly ice. I kept telling myself, if I can make it through this next little bit, then the trail will thaw out and it will be smooth sailing. This would not be the case. As we went through the dreaded Sylamore Creek crossing, I was afforded the opportunity to get my shoes and socks frozen solid, which would remain that way for the rest of the day. I kept telling myself that if I could make it to the 1st aid station, then things would be smoother, and the trail would be clear. I was expecting the temps to rise and the rain to melt the ice. I am not sure where I was mentally, but it wasn’t particularly good or bad. It was more like I was shell-shocked. I could not believe that this was happening. To me, 31 miles in dry, cool, sunny weather is “brutal”….this was “absurd”. There have been very few times when I was really afraid DURING a dumbass decision, but this was one of those times. Every step was a risk, and very little room for error. I had to trust the process, and listen to Tim, our “guide”, who told me how to go down the icy hills. To go down the hills too slowly was dangerous, and to go down them too quickly was deadly. I don’t THINK that I am being over dramatic, but I could not help but think about how close I was to meeting my maker. I told both Tim and David, that “my mother would NOT approve of my doing this.” During the first 5 miles, I was able to see what a nasty little bitch Sylamore was to be. It seemed as if the distance between putting your feet underwater, and allowing them to somewhat become comfortable was strategically placed in precise intervals. It was as if my shoes had sensors, notifying the Sylamore God’s that I was starting to enjoy myself, before another water filled crossing, or quarter mile of freezing slush. My head was all over the place, but I kept reminding myself of all of the people who said that I could do this, and the fact that Tim was familiar with the trail. My muscles felt great, and I longed for a flat, dry stretch that would allow us to make up a good mile time, and really get the blood pumping. This would not be happening anytime soon. I quickly realized that Sylamore was not an animal I must slay or tame, but one I must endure.

We arrived at the 1st aid station, mile 5, and all was well. I tried to eat as much as possible, because….I eat as much as possible, always. After pulling out, Tim says, “shit is about to get real…real fast”, and I could not even get my frozen brain around that statement. According to my feet, hips, and ass, the previous 5 miles were about as “real” as anything could possibly get. I couldn’t imagine anything getting much worse, but imagination would not be necessary. Tim was right. This was where rubber met road, David met Goliath, Harry met the Henderson’s, the ass met the grass, the sh*t met the fan, and where Larry met Curly, all rolled into one. I was running about 3 miles per hour, with a look on my face that would suggest I was jumping out of an airplane at 200 miles per hour. Everything was uphill, and when it was downhill, it was like a luge, and when it was flat, it was either slush or it leaned to one side. It was VERY unforgiving. The option had been given to make the turn at the 25K mark, if we chose. I saw some people who I highly respect, opting out of the 50k and deciding to tackle the 25K. This made me feel better just to know that this was an unusually difficult race, and gave me that much more encouragement. During this part of the jaunt, David began discussing food. Here we where, about 25% of the way through this thing, and David is already looking for his happy place. We have spent many miles using food as a distraction for pain, and we were already here. Low and behold, just as we thought food would be our substitute for pain, the Sylamore God’s decided to substitute pain for pain, as David ate the ice. WE HAD A BLEEDER! We were all excited, because blood had now become part of our adventure. I asked David if it was cool if I wrote that “we” got bloody, so that I would not have to actually experience the discomfort. He assured me that he would expect nothing less. Sylamore would later take a bite out of Tim, which made me feel a bit closer to the pain.

Arriving at the second aid station, mile 10, I was beginning to feel the pinch, and the reality of the situation was starting to kick in. I devoured a couple of cheese toast sandwiches, peanut butter sandwiches, soup, potatoes, and a cup of Mountain Dew and we were waddling again. Then, out of nowhere, BOOM! Energy, positive energy, with good vibes and warm legs, the reason I started this bullsh*t in the first place. The serotonin, endorphin, opiate like, cocaine rush that feels like it is cut straight from the cane of Columbia. I was finally where I wanted to be for all the right reasons. The conversation picked up, and the advice that Tim was giving me, was solid gold. On every downhill, he would say, “hit it”, or “now”, or “release” and I would pump my feet as fast and hard as I could, while feeling much more in control, than I felt when being overly-cautious. About the time that I thought that I could not feel any better, we saw the leader coming back past us. I got SO excited, because I could not wait to see all the horses, who would soon be galloping past, the Kihran’s, the Keith’s, the Brian’s. These are the guys who make this sh*t look and feel like a party. They hit it, and hit it hard. They can slide, fall, get up, slap high five, fall again, and be past you in one stride….that’s right, they can. So, it was fun to anticipate all these dudes. As we were making our way through a rock formation, overlooking the purest beauty that I have ever seen, I heard someone yell, “BEEFCAKE”, then “Beef”, and it was Von and Greg. They gave me the warmest of embraces, asked if I was ok, and told me to keep on keeping on. I made the decision right there, that the next time that I saw those guys, it would either be at the finish line, or the hospital bed, as there would be no in between.

It seemed like no time before we had hit the third aid station, mile 15, and the turn around point. There was a little maintenance that needed to be performed, and I wished that I had a pit crew. It would have been difficult to find anyone willing to give me the help for which I was in need. I had to wipe up, lace up, tape up, lube up, eat up, drink up, because Air Beefcake was ready to take to the air and make a non-stop flight to finishing an ultra marathon. We took notice that we had only been passed during the race, never had we passed. Anyone behind us would drop out at the turnaround, and leave us at the dead last place, which was a place that I was more than proud to own, on this day, at this point in the race. A newfound friend of mine named Lisa, she described the feeling best as she was dropping out, when she said, “I am over it”. Amen, Lisa. As we were heading back, I began to think about how far there was to go. I could feel myself, very slowly, just nudging to the negative. It was not an all out lashing of negativity, but very subtle. I could see the bloody patches of snow from fallen runners, and the overwhelming amount of slide marks, where people had lost their footing. I thought about getting hurt, or ankle pain, or my excess weight being a problem. I could literally feel the life being sucked out of me, like a Dementor from Harry Potter was looking directly at me. I remember that Brian had told me that the key was to “STRETCH THE SUCK” for as long as possible. Stay hydrated, stay fueled, and stay positive for as long as you can, and know that the “SUCK” is inevitable. He also said, that once the “SUCK” has arrived, embrace it. Realize that the “SUCK” is what separates you from the others unwilling to even take the risk for fear of failure. I immediately went to a happy place, because I was unwilling to accept the “SUCK” that early.

Aid station 4, mile 20, somehow happened, and I felt fortunate to be alive. I kept thinking about how much time I would be moving, and what could be done with that time. I was essentially jogging the entire drive time to Destin. I thought about how much pizza I could eat in 10 hours, how many naps I could take, how much Nintendo I could play. I thought about how my dad has ended every phone conversion in my entire life the exact same way, by saying, “I love you. I’m proud of you. Hang in there”. I thought about how this is exactly what he means by “hang in there”. I don’t have to excel, I don’t have to be the best, but right now, just hang in there, one foot in front of the other. Relentless forward progress, as I have been told a hundred times over. This led me to thinking about one of my favorite books in the world by Justin Halpern, titled “Sh*t My Dad Says”. In his book he writes a quote that his father told him when he was young, after he had failed at something, but did the best he could. He said,

“If you work hard and study hard, and you fuck up. That’s okay. If you fuck up and you fuck up, then you’re a fuckup”

I thought about the unknown author who wrote the poem “Don’t Quit”, and how we did not know much about him, but I did know that he had never run the Sylamore 50K, or else he would have a poem titled, “Fu*k This”. At this point, I was reaching about as deep as I knew how to go. I was thinking about how this ultra was essentially a simulator for every problem that I have ever encountered. It is life trying to take every low blow and cheap shot possible, and bring me to my knees. It was hitting me at my most vulnerable moment and throwing in my face every attack, which it deemed me as unprepared. It was taking pain, fatigue, and self-esteem, and hurling them at me so quickly that I could not think straight. I started thinking that I could finish IF it was dry, IF it was warmer and IF my feet weren’t so wet, IF my left leg was 4” longer than my right because everything was so fu*king uneven, IF I had another month to prepare. That is when I realized, that this is the same crappy excuse that is always available. If we are talking about how the cow ate the cabbage, then these were the facts: it ain’t dry, it ain’t warm, my feet are wet, the trails ain’t getting any more level, I don’t have another month to train, and the mountain doesn’t give a damn what I need or want, because the mountain is a mountain. The real question was, “what was I?” I began thinking about how fortunate I am to have the chance to face this sort of adversity, and get the chance to see of what I am made. I began to see this, not as a punishment, but an opportunity. It was an opportunity to see all of my past and present problems at exactly this moment. I was able to see that right now, as with every other difficulty that I have ever had or will have, I have the option to lay down in the heap of sh*t, or take a shovel, hunker down, and get to work. For the moment I chose to keep working. Tim told David and I that when we got to the final aid station that we must be fast, and act as if we have all the energy in the world. It was getting late in the afternoon, and daylight was at a premium. Truth be told, I didn’t think we stood a chance. What I believed to be the sweeper came behind us, and I was ready for her to pull the plug, but we hauled ass long enough to get a little distance.

We had reached the final aid station, at about mile 26, and surprisingly it looked like they were going to let us go ahead. We were ALMOST out of reach, when a call came over the radio, and the lady ordered us to stop, kinda. FU*K! We were done, I was done, Tim was done, but David…he wasn’t having it. Off we went. We were going to attempt the last leg of the race with the same defiance that got us into this mess in the first place. We had about an hour and a half of sunlight, and about 3.5 miles to go, before we would be in an area safe enough to travel at night. It was a helluva push, and I had nothing left. Tim pushed me, and pushed me, but I had nothing left to give. I was cramming soggy peanut butter sandwiches in my mouth that I had stuffed in my wet pockets, while hustling out of the aid station. Every step feeling like I needed to hurl. Every step sounded like childbirth, and every breath felt like my last. David, on the other hand, he was “lost at sea”. He was just giggling and carrying on half conversations with himself, and not making a bit of sense. At one point, I heard what sounded like a quick hiccup/burp, then a splat. I asked, “did you just barf?’ to which he replied, “you know what man, I most certainly did.” And he began laughing again. I limped, surged, moaned, and groaned with every step. I was trying to keep up with Tim, but I just couldn’t find the mojo. Finally, we hit the creek, and we were literally out of the woods. It was safe for it to get dark, without us being stuck out there for the night. We passed the race director, Greg Eason, and he was none too pleased (as he had every right). We finished the half-mile of road in the dark of dusk, when we came across the street, to the loudest, most intense, and beautiful cheers, that 6 people could possibly make. There was no official time, there was no finish line, there was no medal, or music playing, but there were 4 friends and 2 strangers waiting with excitement, to see what was one of the most rewarding moments of my entire life. 10hours 22minutes worth of last place, and a new course record for most amount of food consumed at aid stations. An ultra marathon completed, albeit extremely slow, and far from pretty…what was done is done, and always will be!

**I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to speak with the race director, Greg Eason at the end of the event. He did an outstanding job of providing a well run, well supported race, and most fun race under the most brutal conditions. Part of his job, along with the park ranger is to provide a safe race. I was able to apologize to Mr. Eason about our disregarding the cut-off time of the race. I gave him my sincerest apology, let him know that he did not deserve this, and that I would not appreciate being treated this way. Mr. Eason was more than gracious and welcomed us back next year. I very much appreciate Mr. Eason and ALL the volunteers, who made all of this possible. I cannot imagine the time and effort that goes into a race of this sort, but I am most grateful that there are people willing to do it!

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,

Wilson Horrell

Someone snapped a picture of a slip that I took during the race:

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THE (ALMOST) DAILY PONTIFICATIONS OF SOME FAT DUDE NAMED BEEF.