Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Back in the saddle (sorta)

My longest run since October 2014 had been16 miles.  I hadn't attempted a single run over 10 miles in several months.  And it had been 16 months since I had run more than 25 miles when I toed the line at The Cowtown last Sunday. 
What the heck was I thinking?
Well... 5 hours, 12 minutes, and 48 seconds later, I had marathon/ultra-marathon #41 in the books.  It wasn't pretty, but considering that my training was next to nothing, I'm happy with the finish. 
Perhaps this is a turning point.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Fleeting Moments.

Yes, that is a pink cupcake in my daughter's mouth.
Everyone says that time flies, especially when you have kids.  It's often called a clichĂ©, but it rings so close to true perception that I consider it axiomatic.  The past seven and a half years have been a blur.
This all came to me on Saturday, when Jballs and I ventured down to Waco, Texas to run up, down, and around Cameron Park in the Toughest 'N Texas Trail Runs.  Eight years ago, I ran my first ultra out there while my pregnant wife hung out on a quilt overlooking the Brazos river. 
Now here we are, a family of four celebrating Annie's 3rd birthday at the park while Ezra climbs trees, plays baseball, and reads chapter books.
It seems just yesterday and yet ages ago that Nell and I started dating.  Aaaah, 1999.  The end of college, the beginning of law school, and the first step down a relationship that would still be rocking along 16 years later.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Whole Two Weeks

Admittedly, I didn't complete the Whole 30.  I was good for the first two weeks, but long runs and a few cravings eventually led me to give in and add milk to my coffee and a dabble or two into the realm of bread.  Nonetheless, I'd say I stayed about 75% committed to the experiment through the end.

So what's the final result?

I dropped 15.8 pounds in 30 days.  Yeah, that's a lot in a relatively short amount of time.

Now, to be fair, it can't all be attributed to the removal of dairy, grains, alcohol, legumes, and sugars.  I definitely ramped up the exercise over the past month, logging over 118 miles on foot, plus cross-training and weights.  But maybe I did so due to an overall increased focus on my health.  I've always been an "all-in" sort of person when it comes to physical fitness.  I mean, let's face it, you don't train for and actually complete a 100-mile run unless you're a bit obsessive.  So by concentrating on eating better, I probably also (subconsciously) upped my emphasis on exercise.

In any event, my clothes are looser, and I feel better.

The next question is: will I stick with it?

Yes and no.  Like I said, I had already worked milk back into my coffee and enjoyed the occasional sandwich, so I'll keep those.  And I will enjoy the occasional beer after a long run.  I'll try to steer clear of sugars, as I really haven't missed them and the few times I've had something sweetened (artificially or with refined sugar), the saccharinity has almost been sickening.  I've found my craving for sweets now tends toward apples, oranges, and bananas.

At the end of the day, it was a rewarding experience.  It takes some effort--mostly in shopping for and planning your meals--but it's not overbearingly difficult.  And you can't argue with the results.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Spring Breakers.

I have a new love and respect for Spring Break, especially when it comes to working out at the TCU Rec Center.  As I arrived for my Monday morning session, I was greeted by the greatest of all sounds ever to emanate from a college gym -- SILENCE.  For the next week, the jocks, coeds, sorority girls, frat boys, emo kids, crossfitters, yoga chicks, and treadmill rats are GONE.  Off to greener pastures, or perhaps South Padre Island (hopefully avoiding the puking fee) for a week of relaxation, debauchery, or both.  No waiting for a bench or a machine or the water fountain.  A sublime workout, indeed. 
Speaking of working out, so far this Whole30 thing seems to be living up to its promise.  A little over a week on the plan, and I am already seeing and feeling the results.  The jury is still out on the final verdict, but I'm optimistic.
Seriously, NO ONE was there.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Wholly Moly.

This was lunch on day one.  Looks pretty, don't she?
A couple weeks ago, my lovely wife boldly declared that she would be venturing down a path toward nutritional utopia.  Thirty days of clean eating--no dairy, no grains, no sugar, no alcohol.  A journey of unadulterated, minimally-processed (if at all) noshing intended to rid the body of psychologically unhealthy, hormone-unbalancing, gut-disrupting, inflammatory food groups.  She asked me to accompany her on her epicurean trek.
I did little conceal my initial reluctance.  We had been down similar roads in the past.  Most recently, I had attempted to join her on a Healthy Lifestyle reboot where we were supposed to eat only red meat, raw green vegetables, eggs, grapefruit, and water.  I made it two days before the headaches and general malaise caused me to cave.
So I was skeptical.
But she showed me excerpts from the book "It Starts With Food" and directed me to the Whole30 website.  Here are some highlights:
  • Eat meat, seafood, eggs, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats from fruits, oils, nuts and seeds.
  • Do not consume added sugar of any kind, real or artificial.
  • Do not consume alcohol in any form, not even for cooking.
  • Do not eat grains.
  • Do not eat legumes.
  • Do not eat dairy.
  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.
You are supposed to follow the plan for 30 days.  After that, it's up to you on how and whether or not to continue.  The idea is that you can slowly add foods back to your diet (like cheese or bread) and see how they affect the way you feel.
I was intrigued. 
And I need something to jumpstart a healthier diet.  Despite regular exercise, my waist line has grown over the past several years as we eat out more and more often.  And taking a break from booze is a good idea.
So here we go.  Yesterday was day one of the Whole30.  I'll check back and let you know my thoughts as we progress through the program.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Bipolar weather week.

Last Sunday, Nell and I were sitting on a patio in New Orleans having a drink in perfect, sunny, 75 degree weather.  It was a (somewhat) spur of the moment trip to our favorite city.  Originally planned for two nights, we got an extra 24 hours in the Big Easy when Mother Nature decided to shut down DFW airport with "thundersleet."  We ate, we drank, we slept.  I even managed an 8 mile run along the Mississippi River.  It was marvelous. 
Upon our return to reality, we were greeted with snow and freezing rain.  Last Friday's blast of artic air pretty much shut down the metroplex.  It also led to the cancellation of the Cowtown 5k and 10k races on Saturday, as well as the marathon and ultramarathon on Sunday.  I was scheduled to pace the ultra.  What to do? What to do?  What the heck -- I went out and ran the half-marathon, which was the only race that took place, albeit with an hour later start time.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Breaking down.

I am not one of those folks who is constantly lamenting growing older.  While I look back fondly on the various stages of my life thus far, I do not have a strong desire to go back in time and do it all again.  These days, I have things pretty good.  I have a great family, a good job, a fair amount of financial security, and a collection of close friends and even more congenial acquaintances.  But with increasing frequency, I find myself longing for the resilience of my younger body.  Case in point: in the past week, (1) I felt my left knee oddly tweak 2 miles into a 5 mile run, forcing me to walk 3 miles back to the house; and (2) I self-diagnosed (with some help from a PA friend) tendonitis of both of my elbows, which I had noticed for sometime but had to relent when I could not do a basic curl without shooting pain. I realize this is all part of the aging process, and I am just going to have to get used to slowing down a bit and changing my routine.  But that does not mean I have to like it.

Thursday, February 05, 2015


Last week, I left the house before work intending to run a few miles on the Trinity Trails.  I got to my turn around spot and decided to keep going.  Three miles turned into five miles, which led to eight miles, and ultimately an impromptu ten mile run.  I stopped to watch the sun rise over the Main Street bridge leading into downtown.  It was nice having the river to myself.

Looking back on the first month of 2015, I logged a total over 71.6 miles.  It's still a bit shy of the 83 miles I need to average each month to hit 1,000, but it's not bad for two and half weeks of running.  (I didn't run at all until January 12.)  Giddy up!

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Consistent running for the past two weeks--including a couple long runs--has been a welcome return to routine. 

Fifteen miles yesterday was nice and reflective. About halfway through the trek, I was feeling confident and healthy, thinking, Hey, I got this. I'm back. I got mad running skills. 
As these and other thoughts of grandeur flowed freely through my mind, I heard the familiar warning, "on your left," coming from behind me. 
I moved over to the right side of the trail to make room for a guy pushing his child in a jogging stroller. 
Ah, yes, I thought. I remember those days taking the kids on my morning run. Good for him. 
I glanced over to give my fellow father a kind nod and word of encouragement. 

And that is when I was passed by a dude pushing a punching bag and a 45-pound plate in a jogging stroller up a hill at a much faster clip than I was able to muster with only a half-empty Nathan pack and an empty granola bar wrapper. 

Screw that guy. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Finish lines.

Always on the run.  That's Annie, alright.

I have come to the conclusion that I need a goal. 

As much as I would like to project a laissez faire attitude when it comes to my outdoor endeavors, I must reluctantly admit that without some sort of finish line on the horizon, I am likely to allow apathy to take hold and slow any progress to a snail's pace.  

Don't get me wrong.  I haven't stopped working out.  To the contrary, I lift weights two to three times a week, and I run at least three times a week. 

But the reps have lessened, the weights have gotten smaller, and the distances have diminished in length.  Another glass of wine often wins over an early bedtime and good night's sleep.  Sleeping in often takes precedence over stepping outside and hitting the trail.   

It probably started--at least mentally--back in 2009, after I completed Heartland.  Running 100 miles had been a goal since I ran my first ultra.  After I slayed that dragon, my motivation began to slip--ever so slightly at first, but eventually gaining enough steam where it was easy to just phone it in.

Sure, I still ran a bunch of races, including several 50+ milers.  But my heart wasn't really in it like it had been previously. 

By 2013, I had stopped recording my mileage.  And I learned that when you stop writing it down, you stop doing it, at least at the same level and with the same consistency.

I didn't run at all during the first week and a half of 2015.  That's the first time I haven't started the new year off by getting outside since probably 2000. 

So I have a new finish line.  I'm going to run 1,000 miles in 2015.  It's fairly modest, but it will get me back out there. 

I'm not putting together a full year's race schedule, but I've got the Cowtown 50km at the beginning of March and the Waco trail run (not sure which distance) in April.  Let's do this.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Losing my edge or getting smarter?

Nell, Ezra, and I headed down to the Cowboy Capital of the World a little over a week ago so I could run a 25 km jaunt at the Hill Country State Nature Area. 

I love running Joe's races, and Bandera is probably my favorite trail run in Texas.  It's where I finished my first (and only) 100 km race back in 2009.  It's a great way to start the new year.

Alas, t'was not to be in 2015. 

Earlier in the week, I was besieged by what felt like strep throat (but wasn't).  I missed two days of work, and by the time I was beginning to recover, the weather down south had chosen to take a turn for the north, greeting us with 30 degree temps and freezing rain. 

I've run Bandera in the cold, and I've run Bandera in the rain.  Coming off being sick, there was no way in hell I was going to run Bandera in the cold AND the rain.

Instead, I lived vicariously through my son.  Ezra knocked back the 1-mile Bandera kids trail run in 9:07 (faster than his dad's marathon pace these days).  At least someone is still running trail races. 

Instead of gutting out a miserable 15.5 miles over slick, wet, cold, muddy, nasty terrain, I opted for a nice weekend with 75% of my family.  (Annie hung out in Funky Town with her godparents.)  We kicked back at  West 1077 Ranch--the best place to stay in Bandera. We wandered around Fredricksburg.  We gorged ourselves at Alamo Springs CafĂ©.
 All in all, a nice, relaxing weekend.

 So either I've lost my edge, or I've gotten smarter.  I'm going with the latter.

And once back in North Texas, I ran a nice 13.5 mile run Saturday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome back (maybe).

So it's been awhile.  Five and a half months, to be exact.
My bad.
I suppose an explanation for my absence should be warranted, but there's really not much to tell.  I was burnt out--just not into running or rambling or much physical exertion.  I had a trial, played golf, went to basketball and little league games, and laid low. 
I guess I'm now ready to rejoin the running ranks.  So here's the first one.
After retiring last year as race director, I finished my first El Scorcho as a participant last weekend.  Just the 25K, but it was a great time.  t the inaugural El Scorcho, Ezra was in Nell's belly.  Eight years later, my almost seven year old boy joined me for part of three of my five loops.  Good times.


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