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EB65: Super Nerd to Ultra Athlete, How Running Can Adapt and Support Your Life Today, Benefits of Volunteering at a Race when Injured, Confessions of a Cookie-aholic – Possum Kingdom Trail Run – Our Chat with Lesley Jones


To support a race with a beneficiary close to Lesley Jones and her family’s heart brought her back to the sport of running after a 10 year break. The half marathon at the Dallas White Rock Marathon provided some tough-love lessons on training, nutrition, hydration, and one from her supportive father at mile 10 when her legs felt like bricks.

“Anybody can run three miles!”

It was a one foot in front of the other journey to the finish…and she did.

While the discomfort was real, so was this amazing feeling of accomplishment.

Over the next months and years, running became not only an activity Lesley deeply enjoyed, but a lifestyle that has adapted with her journey as a mother and eventually a trail runner.

While trail running didn’t come easy and “was not love at first sight”, it would become a place of peace, challenge, and deep friendships.

Lesley at the Possum Kingdom Trail Run (Credit: Susana Orendian)

Lesley at the Possum Kingdom Trail Run (Credit: Susana Orendian)

After taking some time off to heal from an injury last Fall, Lesley returned to the ultra distances and finished the 52M scamper at the Possum Kingdom Trail Run in north Texas in 13:54:52.

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2015 Western States 100: Moments that Build a Life

“It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

15 TALON (TX, AR, LA, OK, NM) athletes made the trip West for a trail running adventure of traveling 100.2 miles by foot along the mountain trails at the historic Western States 100. A race you need to have spicy tread or leprechaun luck (lottery) to be a part of. Nearly 400 athletes were just that.

A race that highlights the beauty of our world, of a community, of this life.

A race that has 1500 volunteers selflessly supporting a run in the woods.

A race that celebrates the first to the final finisher (watch 70 year old Gunhild Swanson’s finish – awesome!).

A community that celebrates those that had the courage to start.

Our tribe covered from 29.7 up to 100.2 miles.

Paul Terranova of Texas led our athletes across the finish, hanging in the top 15 of the race from the earlier miles, took three dust cloud creating diggers, and methodically moved himself up through the field to get himself into 10th position with less than 10 miles to the finish. Paul held strong to the Auburn track to cross the line and knock out a few push-ups in 17:43:17 and earned that spot back to Western States in 2016.

In her Western States 100 debut, Nicole Studer of Texas added a bit of bonus mileage but remained determined and consistent throughout the day to finished 6th female in 20:19:56 and receive a ticket to next year’s dance.

Our final TALON athlete to reach the track in Auburn was Darren Christiansen of Texas in 28:27:10.

Western States 100 Moments

A race like this has much more depth than finish times, aid station splits, and calories per hour. So I asked (or challenged :) ) many of our athletes to reflect on Western States and share the detailed story of one moment that made an imprint on them, that touched their soul in some way.


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EB64: The Joy of Running with the Crazies – The Maze 30k – Our Chat with Jess Chaffee


Soccer flowed through Jess Chaffee’s blood.

After college, she quickly transitioned to a sport that had many of the same special components the made soccer such a joy – the preparation, the challenge, the competition, and a surprise – the community.

Instead of cleats, Jess laced up some running tread and began preparing for her first 5 km.

After a great 5 km experience, the feeling of team, of community, further boosted her new-found joy in the simple act of running.

” It was almost like being on a team again…surrounded by a group of people trying to achieve a common goal.”

A move to Austin, Texas led to Jess’s first exploration on the trails and a last minute sign-up for her first trail race running with the crazies at the Bandera 25k in south central Texas on a course known to create a few memories and sotol scars.

“After that I was hooked.”

Having fun on both the roads and trails, this Spring Jess enjoyed a trail adventure at The Maze 30k and was first to cross the finish in the women’s race.

Credit: Jake North /

Bandera 25k / Credit: Jake North /

Enjoy our chat that includes the following musings and other useful goodies for you:

  • finding that competitive outlet in running after a life of soccer
  • the joy running brings to Jess’s life
  • memories from that first trail race at Bandera 25k
  • enjoying the differences between the road and trails
  • favorite local trails
  • running the Houston marathon
  • training 5 days per week, what does it look like?
  • how consistent Yoga has helped her running
  • biggest running lessons learned since her early days on the trail
  • running reads
  • the 3 loop adventure at The Maze 30k

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EB63: From Inactivity to Endurance Sports Vacations, 100 Mile Lessons, Metabolic Efficiency, and Huge Benefits of Simple Core Routine – Hog’s Hunt 50k – Our Chat with Jeff Irvin


Drinking a beer and eating pizza on the couch.

A P90X infomercial comes on the screen.

Jeff Irvin of Texas was in his early 30s, inactive, and the numbers on the scale getting bigger with each passing year.

Jeff decided at that moment, he needed to change. 90 days of P90X began the journey.

“It kicked my ass.”

The journey continued including running and triathlon where endurance sports had become a lifestyle for both him and his wife. Along the way, Jeff began to place his tread more frequently on the trails with its laid back vibe and the memories it brought back of his youth in western Pennsylvania “living in the dirt.”


This Spring, Jeff won the Hog’s Hunt 50k in an exciting little race at the front.

Enjoy our chat that includes the following musings and other useful goodies for you:

  • inactivity wake-up call and 90 days of P90X
  • the early days of running and triathlon
  • the challenging memories from that first trail race at Huntsville State park
  • favorite local trails
  • finishing that first 100 at Rocky Raccoon and creating a new understanding of discomfort
  • the simple core routine that has greatly supported his trail running
  • the smoothing of energy levels and consuming less race calories through Metabolic Efficiency
  • favorite running reads
  • the unexpected race for the win at Hog’s Hunt 50k

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EB62: Practicing Life While Running Ultra – Marathon Des Sables – Our Chat with Liza Howard


“I don’t like city.”

To scamper along rocky, wooded single-track is Liza Howard’s home, home for her soul.

This Texan’s trail running journey began as a way to reconnect with old friends but it wasn’t long before Liza’s involvement and passion grew for the sport in part due its welcoming community. Liza quickly became one of the fast footed trail runners in the sport which was a “total surprise” to herself. She gravitated quickly to the ultra distances with a deep interest in the 100 miler and the life learning opportunities gently and less gently offered to you.

From sharing this sport through the Team RWB Trail Running Camp, connecting with amazing people from throughout the world, to eating less donuts, the sport is a meaningful part of her life.


This past Spring, Liza completed the 30th Marathon Des Sables week-long stage race through the Sahara desert that included over 1200 runners from throughout the world for one great adventure.

Enjoy our chat that includes the following musings and other useful goodies for you:

  • running the roads after college and the beginning of trail running
  • first trail race at Zane Grey 50k and the shoe malfunction
  • connecting with the local San Antonio trail scene and trying not to die
  • joy of the 100 mile distance and the lessons offered
  • connecting Team RWB to the trail running community
  • weekly training
  • a favorite run related read
  • 7 days of Marathon Des Sables

To add to Liza’s talents and has to be an EB Podcast first, Liza did the entire chat while doing hill work on a treadmill in her garage!

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EB61: The Finisher – Ouachita Trail 50M – Our Chat with Cliff Ferren


“I would have never believed it.”

That was 59 year old Cliff Ferren’s reflection if he would have seen where he would go in this sport 10 years ago when he simply wanted to support a local Arkansas charity fundraiser 5k.

The spark.

Cliff has continued running ever since with an early focus on the road that transitioned to the trails and ultra distances including the yearly pilgrimage in October to the Arkansas Traveller 100.

To be a part of a great community that includes many hugs and handshakes.

To play outside in the woods.

To finish is the goal.

The trails and its community holds a special place in Cliff’s life and heart.

This Spring Cliff ran another adventure at the Ouachita Trail 50m in 13:09:40.


Enjoy our chat that includes the following musings and other useful goodies for you:

  • memories from that first 5k
  • lovin’ the trails
  • the struggling memories at that first trail race, Sylamore 50k
  • the two DNFs and things to consider if in a similar situation
  • favorite local trails
  • What keeps the excitement high after 10 years of running
  • favorite reads
  • Oachita 50M memories

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EB60: How Trail Running Transitioned a Life of Emptiness to One of Confidence and Community – Austin Rattler 75k – Our Chat with Stephen Moore



Making poor life choices.

And then one early morning in 2013, Stephen Moore courageously looked at himself in the mirror and said, “I need help.”

This moment started Steven on a new path on his life journey.

A path that led to joining a beginner 5km running group after calling a high school friend involved in triathlon, who listened and offered the idea. This lasted for a few months before drifting back to old habits.

Then Stephen was introduced to some local trails and its community. Stephen quickly grew to love the trails, the challenge, and the fun memories of running in the woods during his youth. The people within the trail community further ignited this new-found passion and interest in becoming a better self.

“I don’t think I found running, it found me. Trail running community is about completing the journey, changing yourself with other people helping you. That’s been the biggest thing for me.”

Stephen has gone onto explore a wide range of trail running distances up to the 100 miler along with a Spring adventure where he finished the Austin Rattler 75km and received a surprise bonus at the finish line.

We all have different life challenges placed before us. Creating a positive mindset while having a supportive community around you, we start to live in a world of possibility.

“I guess what I take away from it all right now is that if you put in the work, try to be a better person, remember who you are, be thankful everyday and never say you can’t, then good things will happen to you.” – Stephen after his Austin Rattler 75km

Stephen Moore at Possum Kingdom Trail Run / Credit Susana Orendain

Stephen Moore / Credit Susana Orendain

Enjoy our chat that includes the following musings and other useful goodies for you:

  • personal life struggles and the realization things needed to change
  •  recreating self through running with the support of its community
  • first trail race A-OK 25k (with 18F temps and frozen bottles) – “It’s like a 5k, five times. You can do it.”
  • first mountain race at Jemez 50k that included 6-8 miles of snow
  • favorite local trail
  • training and benefits of added strength/core work
  • memories from the Austin Rattler 75k along with the emotional surprise at the finish line

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