Thursday, November 30, 2006

It's cold. It's sleeting. Snow and ice are expected. The temperature is supposed to drop into the teens this afternoon. In sum, the weather has done a 180 over the past 24 hours.

What to do? What to do?

An early evening run sounds crazy fun. I'm trying to convince Smiley to join me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The headlamp arrived. So naturally I had to go running last night. I convinced Nell to join me, and we ran a little over 6 miles. I felt much safer running through the neighborhood. Cars actually moved over a few inches as they whizzed by. On the trail, I kept the headlamp turned off most of the time, as we enjoyed the quiet solititude of being the only ones running along the Trinity River.

This morning, I awoke to 70 degree humidity. As I sipped my morning coffee, Channel 5 informed me of an impending cold front, bringing rain, sleet, snow, ice, etc. by this evening. Taking advantage of what appeared to be the last warm morning for quite awhile, I laced up my running shoes and went on a quick 4 miler. Good times.

And lastly, White Rock approaches. Stay strong.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Damn Aggies. Damn K-State. Damn Buckeyes.

Ah, well. At least we still have this.

* * *

Went for a 10 miler this evening. Slow -- 9:15 per mile, but enjoyable. Just made a pulled pork and pesto pizza.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Running with a hangover is tough. The first mile really sucks. So does the second. The third mile isn't much fun either. And the fourth--and final--mile is a beat down. But that's what you get for drinking what my grandma calls the "devil juice."

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

After seeing the Ultracentric competitors running with their headlamps, I decided it was time to make the purchase. So now I'm officially a VIP member of Roadrunner Sports (which, for a $30 annual fee, gets me free shipping and 10% off every order and will easily pay for itself in a year). Besides the headlamp, I snagged a pair of gloves (I lost mine at the Marine Corps Marathon) and some socks. I also picked up a pair of shoes for J-Ball.

Inspired by my purchase, I went on a very short 3.5 mile run after work last night. I clipped a flashing light to the back of my shorts and carried my bicycle headlight in my right hand. Not the greatest system in the world, but it kept me visible to cars.

Switch gears (somewhat)...

Nell informed me the other day that she wants to run 10 miles Thursday morning before the yearly gluttonous Thanksgiving feast. Sounds good to me. Somehow, this is more appealing to me that running the 10K Turkey Trot (which we've run the past 3 years). Perhaps I'm becoming a race snob, but if it's less than a half marathon, I'm not really that jazzed about running it.

Oh, and I've started thinking about an ultra. I've done 7 marathons and by February will have run 9. And I've finally broken the 4 hour barrier. While going faster could surely become a goal, I think I'd rather set my sights on going farther. (This may have something to do with the fact that, at 6 feet, 190 pounds, I'm not exactly built for speed.)

Next July, I'll turn 30 years old. What's a 50K? 31 miles or so? That sounds pretty good -- 30 miles for my 30th birthday. No official announcement as of yet, but I'm leaning towards this.

Maybe I could get some local runners to participate. We could turn it into an organized run....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Today was a great day. A great day. I woke up around 6:30 a.m., and after a quick cup of coffee and a Clif bar, Nell and I left the house as the sun was rising for a run. Nell stayed with me for the first couple of miles before turning back to make her Saturday morning yoga class. I cruised down Hidden Road onto the Trinity trails and took a new route through the Stockyards. By the time I made it home, I had logged 16 miles.

After showering, I met up with my dad, and we drove to the New Balance store to officially sign up for White Rock. Having now paid the $80 registration fee, I’m committed. Dad signed up for the relay, which he’ll be running along with Nell, Shana, and three others whose shall remain nameless.

And, of course, I came home and fixed the aforementioned toilet.

But things got really exciting later in the day.

Around 4:00 p.m., I was watching the OSU-Michigan game (which really doesn’t matter much to me anymore now that Texas is out of the national title hunt), when Nell reminded about going to see Dean run the Ultracentric. Her friend and marathon partner also wanted to join us.

To be honest, at that point I had considered blowing it off. I figured it would be crowded at the race, and, despite all I’d read, I wondered how accessible and accepting Dean would be, especially if he were competing in a national championship event.

But Nell is wonderful and she always seems to lead me in the right direction, so around 6:15 p.m. we pulled out of the driveway en route to Heritage Park in Grapevine.

Of course, we got lost.

Instead of a left, we made a right. Or instead of a right, we made a left. Whatever the case, at Nell’s insistence (did I mention she’s wonderful?), we pulled into a gas station and learned that we’d taken the wrong exit. Ten minutes later, we were zigzagging through the dark, narrow road leading (we hoped) toward the Ultracentric. I was beginning to doubt myself until the headlights made out several orange cones, and I realized we were in the right place. We slowly cruised into a parking spot and walked toward the Start/Finish/Food area.

The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was. There seemed to be few competitors, although every now and then a group would come through together. The course itself was an endless, out-and-back 2.4 mile loop. Runners crossed two chip sensors—one on each far end of the loop—and continued back and forth until the end of their respective race time, be it 6, 12, 24, or 48 hours. Some competitors looked great, others were clearly struggling. Realizing that several of them had been going for 12+ hours already (and some of the 48 hour entrants were on hour 36), my 16 mile jaunt started to seem a bit wimpy.

Waiting for Dean to come through, we cheered on the other runners. This was tricky because, unlike most other races, you couldn’t try to pump up the competitors by telling them they were almost finished. Nope. This was a race that was going to continue until the clock ran out. So we just clapped and told them they were looking good (even when they weren’t).

After about 20 minutes, I made out the now familiar Endurance 50 tanktop through the darkness. “Get ready,” I told Nell. She whipped out her camera and, as Karno approached, we began cheering for him. With a huge smile on his face, Dean began waiving his arms wildly and hollered right back at us.

He looked strong, relaxed, and happy. After he passed by, I checked the leaderboard and discovered he was in 4th place and, at that point, had already run 65+ miles. Holy crap. He looked better after 65+ miles than I had early today at 16.

I turned to Nell and asked for permission (yes, that’s right, I ask my wife for permission and I’m not ashamed of it) to run a lap with Dean. She enthusiastically told me to go for it. Too bad I was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt and my stylish, but not so practical Pumas. Should’ve gone with my trusty Asics. Ah well.

So we kept cheering other runners as I awaited the return of Team Dean. Twenty or so minutes later, he rounded the corner. Excitedly, I hurried over towards him, only to watch him turn away from me to grab some food from the aid station. Like a little kid waiting to meet his hero, I stood anxiously in the wings until he turned around. Grabbing some grub, he started back onto the course, and I cautiously asked if I could join him for a lap.

“Right on,” he said, smiling and extending his hand. “I’m Dean. What’s your name?”

The next 2.4 miles were very cool. I’m sure it was the same conversation he’s had hundreds of times over the past few months, but Dean was genuine, friendly, and—amazingly—talkative throughout our short run together. I asked how he felt about the Endurance 50 (it was great, but it became a much bigger media event than he expected), how his family was doing (he missed them a lot and was looking forward to their arrival in a few days for Thanksgiving on the road), how the run was treating him (lonely, but good to get back to the solitude of running after spending the past two months constantly surrounded by people). He asked about my background. I told him I had been pretty unhealthy until about 8 years ago when I woke up one day and decided to change my life. I told him I had stopped smoking and started exercising and had dropped 60+ pounds and 6 inches off my waist. I told him that since 2001, I had run 7 marathons, including last month’s Marine Corps Marathon (which, despite my PR, Dean had smoked me on by about 30 minutes), and had done a century ride and a duathlon. I got several more “right ons” as I recounted my brief endurance history (which paled in comparison to his endeavors). He asked what was next, and I told him I was running White Rock in three weeks.

The entire experience of running with Dean was relaxed, casual, and surreal. Here was a guy I had discovered a year and a half ago when I had come across a book review in a Southwest Airlines flight magazine. Since them, my tattered hardcopy of “Ultramarathon Man” has been passed around to family and friends, most of whom went out and bought their own copies after reading it. (It’s a good book to have around whenever you need some motivation.) I had checked Dean’s blog religiously during the Endurance 50 and have kept up with his run home on a daily basis. And now, here I was, running with this strange, driven man on a starless night in Grapevine, Texas.

I told Dean that he was the rockstar of endurance athletes, and he sloughed off the compliment. But it’s more than that. The guy is a hero to so many (including me) because he’s more than an incredible athlete. He inspires. Not just athletically, but emotionally. He is a testament to the power and resilience of the human spirit. He makes us believe that we are capable of great things. And he invites us into his life to share in his physical and spiritual journey.

As we neared the finish, I could make out Nell in the distance. Dean asked if that was my wife. “Yes,” I said. Immediately, he began to cheer. (Yes, Dean—having been running for nearly 13 hours—began to cheer.) I reached over to shake his hand and bid him farewell as he continued the race, but he stopped and smiled and put his arm around my shoulder. Nell began to snap pictures. “Thanks for letting me borrow this guy for a lap!” He said. Then, just before heading out into the night, he grabbed my arm and gave me hug and said, “thanks for running with me, man.”

Very cool.

After the run, I recalled Dean mentioning that he wouldn’t mind a mocha. So, after grabbing a late dinner at Kincaid’s in Southlake, we dropped by Starbucks and picked Karno up his chocolate java. Snagging the coffee, we drove back to the race and arrived just as Dean was nearing the aid station. “Hey, Dean, thought you could use this.” Another huge smile escaped his lips. Apparently, just a few minutes earlier, two guys who had also come to run with Dean (driving up from San Antonio) had brought him some Taco Bell. With his Taco Bell and CafĂ© Mocha in hand, Dean was all smiles. He thanked all of us several times before disappearing into the night.

We stuck around for a little while longer to talk with Dean’s dad, Nick, and the two fellas from San Antonio (sorry, guys, I can’t remember your names). Nick was in great spirits, and, although he’s surely gotten used to Dean’s fans, seemed just as enthused and appreciative about our presence as Dean had been. I learned that the San Antonio guys had run 6 laps with Dean before Dean’s pace got the better of them. But they kept going, and one of the guys ran his first marathon out there on the Ultracentric course. That’s pretty cool.

All in all, it was a great day. I.I.T.S.

Sometimes, a man is challenged. And it is the true, real man who rises to that challenge. And today, I am that man. Yes, today...

I fixed a leaky, running toilet for the first time.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Anybody remember that trial I had back at the beginning of October? The one where the jury came back deadlocked? Well, a few days afterwards, I was still dissastisifed so I did a little research and came across some authority that would allow us to seek a directed verdict after the jury had been dismissed so long as we did so before the trial court ordered a mistrial. So... I drafted a motion, and--a month and a half later--the judge heard it and GRANTED it! Ta-da! We're done. Our client won and is very happy. (Of course, it'll probably get appealed.)

Switching gears, I intended to go for a 6 or 7 mile run this morning, but I'm a wimp and it was cold. With tube socks over my hands (I chunked my gloves at the Marine Corps Marathon and need to buy some more), I put in 4 decent miles (8:43 per mile) before taking the shortcut back to the house. I made up for bailing on the distance at lunch, when I skipped a long meal and instead went to the gym to lift weights.

But the real excitement of the day occurred when I learned that Dean is coming to the D/FW metroplex to participate in some crazy 24 hour race in Grapevine this weekend. Hmmmm... this may affect my weekend plans....

Update: Pam Reed will also be at the Ultracentric race in Grapevine this weekend. (Thanks for the info, just12finish.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I just received an email from the marathonfoto folks and realized I'd never posted a pic from the Hotter than Hell ride. Here's a shot as I dogged it into the finish...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Well, damn. Texas ain't gonna play for the national championship this year.

On a more optimstic note, I had a great 12.7 mile run yesterday morning. Felt good. Kept a nice pace. Thinking about running again later today.

Update: Just got back from a 5.2 mile run to/from my office. I felt sluggish, but the clock says I stayed at an 8:53 per mile pace.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It's just after 6 a.m. I planned to sleep in, but I awoke with Nell. (She's currently at a yoga class.) As I sit here, I'm transferring songs from my CD collection to my computer so I can upload them to my new iPod shuffle. Then it's off to the gym.

I went for a 7 mile run last night with Jason. I rarely run in the evening--especially anything that leaves the comfort of my neighborhood. I'm an early riser and prefer to hit the streets before dawn and watch the sun come up. But I read Dean's recent blog entry about the peacefulness of jogging at night, and I happened to come across an article in my wife's Runners World about night running--so why not?

It was a cloudy night, making it all the more dark. Nature seemed stiller than the morning. Quiet. It was pretty cool. But I need to get a headlamp if I'm going to do more of these. There were several spots where I slowed down considerably for fear of losing my footing.

I also slept great last night.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One more thing.

Dean is now running from New York City to his home in San Francisco. Wow.
A few things.

First, I was admittedly pleased to hear that Lance Armstrong was hurting after the NYC Marathon.

Second, I was more pleased to hear that Dean went for a 28.5 mile run the evening after completing 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days.

Third, yesterday I went for my first tempo run since pre-Marine Corps Marathon. It was hard. I felt like I was huffing and puffing. I stopped at least three times to walk and swig water. The 5K jaunt took me 22 minutes, 16 seconds or 7:10 per mile. Wow. That's almost 20 seconds per mile slower than Lance finished NYC. Maybe I owe him a little more respect.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Just got back from my first run after the marathon. 5 miles along the Trinity. Felt good for the first couple of miles, then my legs started to tighten. I took several walk breaks and stopped to stretch at least four times. But I still jogged it in a respectable 9:29 per mile. Lots of stretching afterwards. About to hop in the shower.

Friday, November 03, 2006

While I was off marathoning last week, the Dallas Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a case for which I am lead appellate counsel. For the few legal nerds out there, I filed a motion with the Court of Appeals asking it to find that the trial court had abused its discretion in determining the net worth of two judgment debtors (my clients) for purposes of setting the bond required to supersede the judgment while the case is on appeal.

Wow, when you write it like that, it sounds really exciting.

Here's the deal. When a defendant gets hit with a judgment and wants to appeal, the defendant can post a bond that prohibits the plaintiff from executing on the judgment. Imagine, if you will, that a jury awards the plaintiff $1 million. The defendant wants to appeal and doesn't want to pay the plaintiff the $1 million unless and until the appeal is final. So the defendant has to put up a bond so the plaintiff has security that, assuming the appeal is unsuccessful, the plaintiff will eventually be able to recover. Typically, the bond is for the amount of the judgment. So for a defendant to supersede a $1 million judgment, the defendant would have to find a surety to back him for a $1 million bond. But there's also a rule in Texas that the bond cannot be greater than 50% of the judgment debtor's (i.e., defendant's) net worth.

In my case, I was arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the two defendants each had a net worth of $20,000 (which resulted in the trial court setting the bond for each defendant at $10,000). Instead, we put forth evidence that the net worth of the one of the defendants was a negative number and the net worth of the other defendant was around $2,600.

Since July, we've had two hearing in the trial court on this, filed two motions in the appellate court, and provided some additional letter briefing at the request of the Court of Appeals. While I liked our chances, showing an abuse of discretion by the trial court is pretty hard.

But we won! The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and rendered that the defendants' net worth was exactly what we said it was (negative for one defendant and around $2,600 for the other defendant).

If you're so inclined, a copy of the Court's opinion is here.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Marine Corps Marathon folks put together this nifty graph/chart showing my results.
The Race: Oct. 29

The alarms (we set three, just in case) shrilled to life at 5:45 a.m., waking Nell and I from our slumber. While she jumped in the shower, I secured ChampionChips to our shoes and filled my pack with extra gels, Metro passes, and few dollars. Flicking on the TV, I learned that it would be a nice day to run a marathon--55 or so degrees and sunny with some cool winds.

We met Shana in the lobby of the hotel and began walking toward the McPherson station, stopping at Starbucks so Shana could get her caffeine fix. Along the way, we ran into more and more marathoners.

The Metro wasn't too crowded yet and we were able to grab seats on the train. We rode to the Pentagon, where we were supposed to meet Nell's training partner, Elizabeth, at 7:15 a.m. Unfortunately, Elizabeth was running late.

Around 7:30 a.m., Shana and I bid Nell farewell and caught the Metro back to the starting line near Arlington National Cemetery. We didn't want to leave Nell, but my race began earlier than hers. (The Marine Corps Marathon has two wave starts.)

The starting area was pretty crowded. After a quick restroom break, we sang the national anthem as jets flew over head. I made my way into my assigned starting corral and awaited the starting announcement.

I always have butterflies just before a race and this was no different. I was happy to be running another marathon. Standing amongst thousands of runners, you just can't help but get a little excited. For me, however, that excitement was kept in check by an alarming stiffness in my right hip. I tried to stretch it out, but it was still tight. Oh well, I thought, let's just hope it's pre-race jitters and will work itself out on the run.

The gun fired and about two minutes later the surge got to my corral and I was off and running. At least, for about 300 yards until I had to duck into the bushes to relieve myself. Too much water before the race!

We ran down the highway and I was at Mile 1 in about 11 minutes. The hilliest part of the course was the beginning, as we ran up down the streets of Arlington before crossing over into D.C. Before I knew it I was in Georgetown. My hip was still sore, and I kept rubbing it as I ran.

I saw my parents near Mile 5. My mom was standing at the front of a crowd of people, and my dad was checking his cell phone a few steps behind her. I hollered at them and got their attention, but didn't stop.

The next bit of the course took me out-and-back along Rock Creek parkway. I had settled into a nice pace and was running near two former Marines. One was carrying an American flag and the other was carrying a Marine Corps flag. These were not little flags. They were big and heavy. I couldn't imagine running 26.2 miles with one of those resting on my shoulder, not to mention the extra wind resistance they generate. These dudes were hardcore.

After Rock Creek came my favorite part of the race as the course made its way onto Constitution Avenue and around the Washington Mall. I passed several museums, the Washington Monument, the Capitol building, the Lincoln Memorial, the reflecting pool, and many other sights I can't recall. They were bands playing and people cheering.

Around this time, I crossed the halfway point. According to the Marine calling out race times, it had been 2 hours and 1 minute since the starting gun had sounded. I realized that I was probably on pace for a 4 hour marathon and maybe--just maybe--I could finish in under 4 hours. I recall being excited at the prospect, but telling myself not to speed up. To keep my pace steady and to just see what happened. My hip was no longer hurting and I felt great, but I still had 13.1 miles to go. A lot can happen.

The next several miles took me along the Potomac River, past the Kennedy Center and around the East Potomac golf course. The crowds thinned out a bit and the wind was pretty brutal as it rocketed off the water. I hadn't noticed it until then. I rounded the golf course and starting running back towards the Jefferson Memorial with the Washington Channel to my right.

The course circled around Maine Avenue and up a bridge onto Interstate 395. I crossed the Mile 20 marker at 3 hours, 3 minutes. So I had 57 minutes to run a 10K. No problem. The reality of running sub-4 hours was sinking in. I could do this. It wasn't that far. I was feeling good. But as I entered Crystal City, my quads and calves were getting tight. I took a few extra walk breaks and chowed down on some Sports Beans.

At Mile 23, a Marine told me I was at 3 hours, 31 minutes. 29 minutes to run a 5K. I could do this. The course left Crystal City and took me onto a highway towards the Pentagon. Damn, the Pentagon is big! It seemed to take forever to get around it. Finally, we were running down an exit ramp back towards Arlington National Cemetery. I ran past the starting area and then the course turned left. Suddenly, people were everywhere. There was the Mile 26 marker. I turned right and the last .2 miles were uphill. There were grandstands and spectators hollering words of encouragement. I began pumping my arms to get my legs to move faster. I knew it was going to be close. There was the finish line. Across.

Did I make it in under 4 hours? I had no idea. The official race clock had said more than 4 hours. It would depend on what time I crossed the starting mat. I walked through a corral and a Marine placed a medal around my neck and a tinfoil blanket on my shoulders. I pulled out my cell phone and noticed I had received several text messages. They were from family and friends who had been following my progress on the Internet. I had made it--3 hours, 59 minutes, 49 seconds! Later, I would learn my official time was 3 hours, 59 minutes, 51 seconds. Wow. That was close.

After finishing, I called my parents to find out how Nell and Shana were doing. My dad told me they would probably be at the finish line in about an hour. So I walked toward the Metro Station and bought two hot dogs and a Coca Cola. Then I walked back and found a spot at the front of the crowd about 200 yards from the finish line to wait and cheer. It was fun yelling for the runners as they made their way to the end. Some looked great, some were barely making it.

Nell and Elizabeth came by first. I yelled and yelled and got Nell's attention. She raised her arms in the air triumphantly as she jogged by.

About five minutes later, Shana came up the hill. She had her headphones on, so I had to holler pretty loudly for her to hear me. But she saw me and half-smiled/nodded as she pushed through to the end.

And that's the race. I'll add more pictures to this and/or other posts as they come in.

Oh, and White Rock is in 6 weeks. I.I.T.S.


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